👋 Good Wednesday morning!
President Joe Biden kicks off his first presidential trip to the Middle East today when he lands at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport at approximately 3:30 p.m. local time, reports Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash, who will be sharing the latest updates from Biden’s trip over the next few days.
Biden, who is traveling with an entourage of some 500-plus people, including Secretary of State Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt, as well as security personnel and more than 100 members of the White House press corps, will be greeted at the airport with a festive ceremony.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and members of the Israeli cabinet will officially welcome the president as he descends from Air Force One. In addition to welcoming speeches, the ceremony will include a display of Israel’s multiple air-defense systems including the Arrow, David’s Sling, the Iron Dome and the latest laser-defense system, Iron Beam.
Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Lapid on Thursday, with the two leaders expected to sign a statement affirming the strategic partnership between the two countries. A senior Israeli official said the statement, which has been dubbed the “Jerusalem Declaration,” will also include a U.S. pledge not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
Biden and Lapid will also hold the first-ever I2U2 virtual summit along with the leaders of India and the United Arab Emirates. The president will also visit Herzog’s residence, where he will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor, bestowed to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the State of Israel.
The president is also slated to meet with opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, as well as attend the opening ceremony of the 21st Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem.
On Friday, he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and tour Augusta Victoria, a Palestinian-run hospital in East Jerusalem. Biden will also visit the Church of Nativity and in the afternoon he will fly directly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Hours before Biden’s arrival, the Prime Minister’s Office published a joint statement of technology cooperation announcing the launch of a “new Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology” between the two countries. The document calls for the establishment of a U.S.-Israel technological partnership on critical and emerging technologies and solutions to global challenges: pandemic preparedness, climate change, implementation of artificial intelligence and trusted technology ecosystems.
Walter Russell Mead on the ‘insanity’ that led him to write a new book on American support for Israel
For a remote country with a relatively small — but growing — economy, Israel engenders surprisingly sharp feelings in America’s national discourse. In a new book, foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead offers a comprehensive narrative about American support for Israel throughout history while assessing how Americans view Israel today, Jewish Insider’s Jacob Miller reports. Mead’s latest book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People, joins a growing bookshelf of literature about the connection between the two nations. Yet unlike other books, Mead does not focus only on policy, Jewish attitudes or recent history; his goal is to dispel common myths about American support for Israel by chronicling Americans’ attitudes about Zionism — and later about the State of Israel — going back more than a century.
Correct the narrative: The impetus for Mead’s book came during the George W. Bush administration, when the Wall Street Journal columnist became disgruntled with Bush critics insinuating that Jewish interests were running foreign policy and that “the neoconservatives were part of a Jewish cabal.” Mead told Jewish Insider in an interview on Tuesday that “It’s insanity to blame a president who[m] the majority of Jews voted against and the majority of Jewish giving went against, and say he’s carrying out the Jewish pro-Israel agenda because of the financial power of Jews.”
Hate watch: In the book, Mead also examines the “cyclical” history of American antisemitism, which was prominent during the Civil War, and then began rising again during the 1880s, peaking during World War II, and has again witnessed a revival over the past several years. “At moments of national crisis, you do get these expressions of antisemitism,” he explained.
Mideast moves: President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East this week, according to Mead, is a “reversal of Biden’s earlier Middle East policy.” Breaking from the president’s earlier approach, which focused on holding Saudi Arabia accountable for its human rights abuses and unsuccessfully cajoling Iran into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Biden is now reengaging America’s Middle East allies, in part in the hopes of driving down energy prices, which have soared in recent months. “His big problem is that the price of energy is killing him in the polls, and second to that, the plan with Iran does not appear to be working,” Mead explained.
Lawmakers urge Biden to push back on Iraq’s anti-Israel law during Mideast trip
In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Tuesday ahead of his trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, which begins tomorrow in Jerusalem, a bipartisan group of 24 House and Senate lawmakers urged the president to make clear U.S. opposition to Iraq’s recently passed law outlawing relations with Israel during his visit, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Quotable: “Iraq is an important and valued security partner. Nevertheless, this law jeopardizes freedom of expression, promotes an environment of antisemitism, and could deter other states that have yet to normalize relations with Israel,” the letter reads. “As you embark on travel to the Middle East later this month, we respectfully encourage you to raise Iraq’s anti-normalization law during your visits with foreign leaders and make clear the United States’ resolute condemnation.”
On the list: The letter was led in the Senate by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), and in the House by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). Signatories include Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Don Bacon (R-NE), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Lisa McClain (R-MI), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Marionette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).
Pushing ahead: In addition to condemning the Iraqi law, the letter lauds the Abraham Accords and the “boundless” possibilities for the future. The lawmakers write that they “support [Biden’s] efforts during your trip to strengthen the existing Abraham Accords agreements and expand the agreements to additional countries. We appreciate your continued support of efforts that advance peace in the Middle East and hope you will place continued normalization of relations with Israel at the forefront of your agenda this month.”
Read the full story here.
Bonus: The House will begin debate today on the National Defense Authorization Act. Amendments under consideration would condemn Iran’s human rights violations, condemn Iran’s lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and express Congress’ commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, express support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, express support for the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and require reports on the Iran arms embargo, Iranian arms proliferation efforts and the regime’s use of digital surveillance and internet censorship. The House Rules Committee rejected along party lines proposed amendments that would have required a report on whether any Defense Department contractors participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and expressed that it is U.S. policy to seek the abolition of the United Nations commission investigating Israel and combat anti-Israel bias on the Human Rights Council.
Antisemites ‘have breached the door’ and ‘are now serving in Congress,’ leading Florida House candidate warns
Some Republicans serving in Congress have embraced antisemitic ideology, Jared Moskowitz, a leading candidate in the race to replace Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in his South Florida congressional seat, warned on Monday in an event with local Jewish Democrats, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod Reports.
In his own words: “The Republican Party has embraced this level of white supremacy. And so at the end of the day, it’s no longer where Democrats and Republicans can come together and fight antisemitism because antisemites have breached the door and are now in the Republican Party and serving in Congress,” Moskowitz said at a Broward County Democratic Jewish Caucus Candidate Forum. “We’ve got some anti-Zionists on our side. But it’s nowhere near what’s going on with Republicans.”
In the field: Moskowitz, currently a Broward County commissioner and a former state legislator and former director of emergency management for the state, faces former Florida Anti-Defamation League Director Hava Holzhauer and Ft. Lauderdale Deputy Mayor Ben Sorensen in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.
Shots fired: Sorenson, who recently questioned Moskowitz’s Democratic credentials, spotlighted his service under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, saying, “Jared has been working for Ron DeSantis for years and rolled out many of his policies, and that’s not what we need as a Democrat leading us in Congress.” Moskowitz defended his record, pointing to his work assisting the Jewish community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also shot back at Sorensen. “By the way, when Ben Sorensen needed help in Ft. Lauderdale, you know who he called? Jared Moskowitz,” he said. “Ben, I still have the text messages and emails.”
Next steps: All three candidates also voiced support for President Joe Biden’s reengagement with Saudi Arabia during his trip to the Middle East this week. Holzhauer argued that Saudi Arabia’s record of human rights violations should not prevent the U.S. from working with the oil-rich kingdom. “It’s difficult because we have imperfect partners — we’re imperfect, by the way as well, as the U.S. — but we have imperfect partners that violate human rights, and it’s difficult for us to think about bringing them in,” she said. “But I’d rather be smart than right all the time, which means I’ll take some if I can’t have it all.”
first lady leads
An Israeli aid group is now working inside Ukraine’s borders – in partnership with the country’s first lady
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, the Israeli humanitarian group IsraAID has sent $30 million worth of medical and humanitarian aid to the embattled nation from a coordination center in Romania, while also operating shelters for Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. Now, the organization is starting a rapid expansion of work inside the borders of Ukraine itself, focusing on mental health access, aid distribution and bringing clean water to the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, reports Lev Gringauz for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Staying focused: Those initiatives have grown out of a concern that Ukrainians in the country are being left behind by aid efforts. “The challenges and the humanitarian needs inside Ukraine are so big and are just getting bigger,” IsraAID CEO Yotam Polizer told eJP. “And unfortunately, the world’s attention is shifting away.”
Government partnership: When IsraAid first contacted the Ukrainian government in early June to coordinate its new aid efforts, it was a natural fit: Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska has been making Ukrainian access to mental health care a national priority. Partnering with Zelenska’s national mental health initiative, IsraAID will send teams of Israeli trauma specialists to Ukraine for several weeks at a time, while also stationing 10 to 15 aid workers in the country full-time. There, they’ll train Ukrainian health care professionals in ways to help children and injured soldiers.
🇨🇳 China Challenge: Bloomberg’s Sarah Zheng and Coco Liu look at efforts by the U.S. to derail growing technological ties between Israel and China. “‘China is still very much interested in Western-style technologies’ but is finding itself increasingly locked out of the US and Europe, says Junhua Zhang, a senior associate at the Brussels-based European Institute for Asian Studies. ‘So the only option is Israel.’ That option is looking shakier than ever. This is partly because of the pandemic and concerns about China’s approach to tech, given the crackdown on its own tech industry. Companies in Israel that once welcomed Chinese financiers, particularly in sensitive deep-tech sectors, are now hesitant to do business with them because of the potential political consequences in other markets.” [Bloomberg]
🏈 NFL Insider: The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss profiles controversial sportswriter and ESPN analyst Adam Schefter. “He is the biggest reporter covering America’s biggest sport on America’s biggest sports network. Earlier this year, he signed a new contract worth around $9 million per year, according to one report, cementing his status in the NFL ecosystem and at ESPN. His Twitter feed has nearly 10 million followers and is a clearinghouse for NFL news big and small. Tom Brady’s short-lived retirement, Russell Wilson getting traded to Denver, Tyreek Hill sent to Miami, Andrew Luck’s shocking exit — you heard it all first from Schefter.” [WashPost]
☢️ Nuke Know-How: In The Hill, Eric Mandel considers the conditions under which Israel might be forced to preemptively attack Iran, as it continues to develop its nuclear program. “New alliances and changing relationships are developing in response to the prospect of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Iran. They include Russia’s relationship with Iran supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s seemingly contradictory relationship with Israel, allowing it unfettered access to strike Iranian weapons factories. In addition, we have Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman behind the scenes but moving toward closer cooperation with Israel in response to Iranian expansionism and threshold nuclear weapons status. Add to this U.S. allies Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan — all are affected by how far Iran might go and how far Israel can bend before it is compelled to act. The Iranian leaders are intelligent and pragmatic, despite their ideological Islamist extremism and hatred for the Jewish state. They are fully aware that Israel would feel compelled to act when their nuclear weapons program crosses some line. But where is that line?” [TheHill]
Around the Web
🔍 Abu Akleh Probe: Two groups of Senate Democrats, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), wrote to the administration criticizing its handling of the investigation into journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, and pushing for greater transparency and accountability.
🤝 Closer Ties: A dozen bipartisan House members sent a letter to President Joe Biden, obtained by Jewish Insider, pressing him to take concrete steps to advance the U.S.-Israel relationship, expand normalization and advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process during his trip, as well as requesting a meeting with him when he returns.
👍 Senate Vote: The Senate confirmed Steve Dettelbach as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a 48-46 vote.
💰 Badger State Bucks: Wisconsin Senate candidate Alex Lasry, who has already contributed close to $6 million to his own campaign, pledged to continue injecting money into his coffers, saying, “One of the things that we’re showing with this campaign is that no one’s going to be able to buy me.”
🪧 Trump on the Stump: Former President Donald Trump will appear at a rally in Arizona this weekend to support Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, whom he endorsed last month.
📺 Michigan Money: J Street is launching a $700,000 ad blitz in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District against Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) in her race against Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), in one of the most closely watched member-on-member primaries this cycle.
💸 Return of Investment: Bill Ackman announced that Pershing Square Tontine Holdings will return $4 billion to investors after the SPAC failed to make any deals in the two years since its creation.
🚗 Toddler Tragedy: A toddler in Miami Gardens, Fla., died after being accidentally left in a car while his parents, employees of the Lubavitch Educational Center, were at work.
🚀 Missile Tov: Rafael will debut its Ice Breaker, a long-range-type missile, at the Farnborough Air Show later this month.
🗺️ Working Together: The Wall Street Journal looks at U.S. efforts to bring security ties between Israel and Arab nations into public view.
🖼️ Lost Art: Mosaics of two biblical heroines were discovered in an ancient synagogue in Israel’s Galilee region.
🚓 Follow-Up: Six months after the Shin Bet apprehended a group of Jewish Israelis assisting an Iranian operative, Israeli media reported that the operative had been in touch with as many as 20 other Israelis.
📝 Permit Progress: Israel plans to increase the number of work permits distributed to Palestinians living in Gaza.
🛰️ Drone Denial: Iran denied claims by U.S. officials that Tehran is planning to send drones to Russia.
💼 Transition: Former Google executive Jared Cohen will join Goldman Sachs to head its newly created Office of Applied Innovation. Julia Hahn has been promoted to Sen. Bill Hagerty’s deputy chief of staff for communications.
Pic of the Day
U.S. and Israeli officials prepare a lectern today for the arrival of President Joe Biden at Ben Gurion Airport.
One of the highest box-office grossing actors ever, his maternal grandmother was Anna Lifschutz, a Jewish immigrant from Minsk, he is best known as the title character in the “Indiana Jones” film series, Harrison Ford turns 80…
Reseda, Calif., resident, Zita Gluskin… Auschwitz survivor, founder of Florida East Coast Realty and the builder of many Miami high-rise buildings, Tibor Hollo turns 95… Scottsdale, Ariz., resident, retired teacher, Howie K. Kipnes… Clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Michael W. Cohen, MD… Ridgefield, Connecticut resident, Louis Panzer… Lecturer on the federal budget process following 37 years at various federal agencies, Johnny Cahn… Co-host of “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN since 2001 with Michael Wilbon, Anthony Irwin “Tony” Kornheiser turns 74… Author of crime and suspense novels, Andrew Klavan turns 68… Adjunct professor at Hebrew University and president of Jerusalem-based Lankin Consulting, Eric Marshall Lankin… Manager of regulatory and legislative affairs at PJM Interconnection, Stuart Widom… Country music artist, Victoria Lynn Shaw turns 60…
Television executive and producer, Carolyn Strauss turns 59… Film director and screenwriter, Shari Springer Berman turns 59… Television writer, David X. Cohen turns 56… Chief legal officer at Aledade, Ilona Cohen… Owner of the D.C. area franchises of SafeSplash Swim Schools, Jennifer Rebecca Goodman Lilintahl… Founder of Omanut Collective, Sarah Persitz… Director of major gifts at American Friends of Magen David Adom, Yishai Mizrahi… Creator, writer and producer of the TV show “Casual,” Alexander “Zander” Sutton Lehmann turns 35… Aspen-based neuro linguistic programming coach, she is also the CEO and founder of entertainment agency Art of Air, Ariana Gradow… Principal at MSD Capital, Nicholas Newburger… Managing partner at Surround Ventures, Jared Kash… Principal at venture capital firm Arc Ventures, Eric A. Kohlmann… Reporter at Punchbowl News, Max Cohen… Television and film actor, Wyatt Jess Oleff turns 19…