👋 Good Wednesday morning!
A number of primary races were called shortly after polls closed in Maryland last night, despite the state not beginning the process of counting mail-in ballots until later this week. More below on last night’s results.
Last week, we published an interview with New York state Assemblymember Yuh-line Niou, one of several frontrunners in the Democratic primary for the state’s newly created 10th Congressional District, in which she expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Initially, Niou did not share her views on BDS but subsequently emailed our reporter stating, “I believe in the right to protest as a fundamental tenet of western democracy, so I do support BDS.”
Days later, speaking at an event hosted by Jewish community members in the district — which had been scheduled prior to Niou’s comments on BDS — the assemblywoman appeared to walk back her support for the movement.
But on the latest episode of the Gotham Gazette’s “Max Politics Podcast,” released yesterday, Niou was again asked — this time by podcast host Ben Max — about her position on BDS. Here’s a transcript of the question and her response:
“And in giving full-throated support for the right to do these things, do you also consider yourself a supporter of that BDS movement?” Max asked.
Niou responded, “I mean, I personally myself, um, you know, I think that it’s really important for us to you know, know that… I believe our tax dollars should never be used to violate human rights, which is why I also support legislation that would prevent federal funds from going to the persecution of Palestinians or to the construction of settlements. And I think that, you know, the only way that, um you know, we have, you know, a voice in this is, you know, how, you know, the direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are going, we have to make sure that they are the ones who are actually since they’re closest to their own pain, obviously, that, you know, there are many things that they can do and I think that, you know, they have to be the ones to make that decision.”
Niou then briefly mentions a fellow Evergreen College student, Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003. She concludes her answer without directly addressing Max’s question: “And so here’s the bottom line. I think I’ll just say it out loud that I will be a strong voice in Congress, against occupation and in support of equality, justice and a thriving future for all Israelis and Palestinians. So I think that’s the only way we get through direct negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.”
After the release of the podcast episode, JI spoke to one of the Jewish constituents who met with Niou last week. “She said enough [on the podcast] to make sure that most people who care and this is an important issue [for them] will anyway move away from her. She’s done enough, she’s said enough to have everyone choose another candidate. She’s still left the door open that if she wins, [it] doesn’t mean she’s going to be the worst person in Congress… For the voter, it’s enough to drop her. That’s what I think the bottom line is here.”
We’ve reached out to Niou’s communications director three times since Friday to give the assemblywoman a chance to clarify her comments — and her position — and have received no response.
In other NY-10 news, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was dropping out of the crowded race, saying it was “time for me to leave electoral politics.” The former mayor had faced several polls that showed him well behind the race’s frontrunners.
You heard it here first: JI has learned that former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, a Democrat, and former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) are endorsing Dan Goldman, who served as lead attorney in the first Trump impeachment trial, in the NY-10 race. “I know what it takes to win congressional elections and am proud to be part of Dan’s growing campaign to defend our democracy, our fundamental rights, our safety, and our planet itself,” Israel said.
What we’re reading: Isaac Chotiner’s New Yorker interview with Alan Dershowitz. Remember the story about Dershowitz’s confrontation with Larry David in a Martha’s Vineyard supermarket? Chotiner gets more details — and discovers that Dershowitz is no longer a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fan.
Ivey defeats Edwards in heated Maryland primary
As polls closed in Maryland last night, several candidates in key races racked up early wins, even though the state will not begin counting ballots until Thursday morning. In Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, the latest race in which pro-Israel activists have invested millions of dollars to boost their preferred candidates, former state’s attorney Glenn Ivey defeated former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod and Gabby Deutch report.
Ivey’s in:Ivey, who was down in the polls earlier in the race, leads Edwards 51% to 35% as of Wednesday morning, with 68%of the primary votes counted. The Associated Press called the race for Ivey, although most mail-in ballots had not yet been counted. Israel advocacy groups were the largest spenders in the race. Ivey was backed by AIPAC and its super PAC, the United Democracy Project, Democratic Majority for Israel and Pro-Israel America, while Edwards was backed by J Street.
Hogan’s zeroes: In the Republican gubernatorial primary, far-right legislator Dan Cox, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and attended Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021 rally, defeated Kelly Schulz, outgoing moderate Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s hand-picked successor. Democrats ran $1 million in ads that appeared to boost Cox. Nonprofit executive Wes Moore is leading the Democratic field with 36% of the vote, while his closest competitor, former DNC Chair Tom Perez, has 27% of the vote as of Wednesday morning. In the 6th Congressional District, former Washington Free Beacon reporter Matthew Foldi — backed by many establishment GOP figures — lost by a wide margin to state legislator Neil Parrott.
Menendez, Graham bill seeks detailed reports on Iran’s nuclear program
With the prospects of a nuclear deal with Iran appearing increasingly slim, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require the administration to submit regular, detailed reports on the state of Iran’s nuclear program to Congress, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The legislation could, if passed, give Congress the ability to be more involved in crafting and dictating Iran policy.
Reporting in: The bipartisan bill would require the secretary of state to assemble a task force, comprised of officials from the State Department, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Energy and CIA dedicated to tackling Iran’s nuclear program. The task force would issue a report to Congress on the state of Iran’s nuclear program every 120 days, including granular details on both the enrichment of uranium and the stockpiling of nuclear material, weaponization, missile development and other potentially related activities, and the threats they pose to U.S. citizens and personnel.
Strategy session: The administration would also have to submit an annual strategy that “outlines a comprehensive plan for engaging with partners and allies” regarding Iran’s nuclear and missile activities and a “whole-of-government approach to use political, economic and security related tools” to address Iran’s nuclear program.
Increased role: Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has been critical of nuclear talks, told Jewish Insider that the legislation represents an effort from Congress to take a larger role in crafting Iran policy. “The bill represents an understanding that Congress is going to have a bigger role in Iran policy and craft what Iran policy looks like, particularly when it comes to a very fast-moving nuclear threat and missile threat,” Ben Taleblu said. “They need to have all the information and it may not just be enough anymore to have a few hearings, and occasional classified briefings.”
Space Force provides a deterrent for traditional ground conflict, chief of space operations says
The U.S. Space Force is a valuable deterrence against global conflict, the head of the newly created branch of the U.S. Armed Forces said on Tuesday at the Aspen Security Forum, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports from Aspen. “I think space provides a great opportunity,” Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly at the forum’s opening session. “It provides an opportunity to have one more fabric, if you will, of a means to change the deterrence calculus, impose cost, deny benefits and to deter conflict from the beginning or extending into space, which we feel would deter conflict from spilling over onto the land. It’s deterrence.”
China threat: The chief of space operations, who joined the Space Force in 2019 upon its creation as a branch of the Armed Forces, warned about the looming threat posed by China. “China has gone from zero to 60 very quickly. And they are clearly our pacing challenge,” he said. “They’re moving at speed, they have the economy to support the development. Now they’re really doing two things. The first thing that they’re doing is they’re building space capabilities for their own use. So just like we’ve enjoyed space capabilities that we’ve been able to integrate, China has built a space program to do the same thing. That provides them [an] advantage and that provides risks to our forces. The other thing they’re doing is seeing the advantages that space provides us as we’ve integrated space and cyber and multi-domain operations, and to be honest, they don’t like what they see.”
Space wars: Raymond noted that China and Russia have both detonated satellites, sending thousands of pieces of debris hurtling through space — and in some cases, risking collision with other still-functioning satellites. A Pentagon report issued in April warned that Moscow and Beijing were both developing the technology and capability to attack U.S. satellites. To counter aggression from global powers, Raymond said, the U.S. is “trying to develop norms of behavior for what’s safe and professional.”
En route: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is on his way to Aspen, where he’s scheduled to speak tomorrow afternoon at the forum.
🇮🇷 Infiltrating Iran: The Financial Times’ Najmeh Bozorgmehr examines the growing concern in Iran over Israeli attacks against top officials. “The extent of Israeli infiltration into the Iranian establishment has also become clear, say analysts. ‘Infiltration is a very serious issue, which the system needs to think of a solution,’ said one conservative analyst. Alleged strikes include the killing of two Iranian soldiers deployed in Syria in March, which Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards blamed on Israel. A few days later, the guards retaliated, claiming responsibility for a missile attack on what the elite force said was an Israeli intelligence centre in northern Iraq.” [FT]
🗺️ Rough Relationships: In Foreign Policy, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel Kurtzer and the Carnegie Endowment’s Aaron David Miller suggest that the Biden administration focus on — and commit to — building its relationships in the Middle East. “Engagement makes sense if it is creative, consistent, realistic, and based on reciprocity. The United States can give to its allies and partners, but it must get something in return. On this trip, there was a lot of Biden giving but not getting much back. And the tough issues — Israel-Palestine, human rights, Russia in Ukraine — were downplayed or essentially ignored. Israel and the Gulf Arab states may sense that the Biden administration may be short-termers in the White House and that the Democratic Party’s majority in Congress could end as a result of the U.S. midterm elections in November. Was this trip a strategic reset that presages more intense U.S. involvement or an immediate and time-limited response to the exigencies created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, domestic U.S. economic challenges, and an uncertain path forward with Iran?” [ForeignPolicy]
👪 Jewish Continuity: Bloomberg’s Ethan Bronner and Shomrim, the Center for Media and Democracy’s Chen Shalita look at a new effort by families of male Israeli soldiers killed during their service to preserve their relatives’ sperm for use months — or years — later. “Persuading a judge to grant Ludmila Rozhkov and Akselrod the right to German’s sperm included testimony about his desire for children. But there was no case law covering when a dead man’s sperm could be used to produce offspring. In his ruling, the family court judge wrote: ‘When the law doesn’t provide an answer, the court must turn to the principles of Jewish heritage. “Give me children, or I shall die,” our mother Rachel cried out. This logic reflects man’s desire to continue through his offspring the physical and spiritual existence of himself, his family, and people. We are told, “Be fruitful and multiply.”’” [Bloomberg]
Around the Web
🗳️ Tikkun Olam Touch: The Washington Post showcases Rep. Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) efforts to reach out to Jewish voters ahead of the Aug. 23 primary that will see him face off against Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) — a contest that, if he loses, could mean that there will be no Jewish legislators from New York in the next Congress.
🏖️ Welcome to Miami: The Wall Street Journal spotlights the fast development of Miami Beach as a business district, noting that the “newcomers who are seeking and building office space include former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, Starwood Capital Group CEO Barry Sternlicht and Wayne Boich, the CEO of Boich Cos.,” who want to build offices near their beachfront properties.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: A report by Martin Forde looking at infighting in Britain’s Labour Party over the party’s response to antisemitism found both supporters and opponents of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn were ”weaponising the issue and failing to recognise the seriousness of antisemitism.”
💣 Weapon Watch: The head of Iran’s military ground forces reportedly said that the country is prepared to export its own weapons.
💱 Money Matters: Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman is looking into ways to help allow Russian immigrants to Israel transfer funds from their Russian bank accounts, a process that had been complicated by Western sanctions on Moscow.
🚌 Boiling tensions: A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli bus passenger with a screwdriver, before being shot by a bystander.
⚠️ Border Security: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned Hezbollah against “unacceptable” aggression during an unannounced trip to Israel’s border with Lebanon.
🤝 Shady Friends: Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran yesterday, where he met with President Ebrahim Raisi and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As part of the visit, Putin and Raisi inked a $40 billion deal that will see the two countries collaborate on oil and gas projects.
⚖️ Prison Sentence: Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was ordered to serve out a six-year prison sentence for a 2010 conviction of what officials said was “propaganda against the system.”
Gif of the Day
Actor, singer and Camp Ramah alumnus Ben Platt performs “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the start of last night’s MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Comedian and regular player on “Saturday Night Live,” Chloe Fineman turns 34…
Retired U.S. Sen. (D-MD), Barbara Mikulski turns 86… Retired president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman turns 79… Longtime Israeli diplomat, he served as ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben-Zeev turns 78… Former commissioner on the Civil Rights Commission, assistant secretary of HUD in the Clinton administration, presently vice chair of the Bank of San Francisco, Roberta Achtenberg turns 72… U.S. District Court judge in Massachusetts, Judge Patti B. Saris turns 71… New York Times columnist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Loren Friedman turns 69… Molecular geneticist at NYC-based Rockefeller University and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Jeffrey M. Friedman turns 68… Broadcast and digital media executive, Farrell Meisel… Professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Barbara Risman turns 66… Past president of the Women’s Department at the Jewish Federation of Detroit, Marcie Hermelin Orley… Los Angeles-based wardrobe consultant, Linleigh Ayn Richker… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Nira Shpak turns 56… Member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism party, Yitzhak Ze’ev Pindros turns 51…
Attorney, Jack Achiezer Guggenheim… VP and political director of CNN, David Marc Chalian turns 49… Author and staff writer at The Atlantic, Franklin Foer turns 48… Southern states director at AIPAC, David Fox… Singer who burst on the scene as a finalist on the fifth season of “American Idol,” Efraym Elliott Yamin turns 44… Commissioner of the community affairs unit for NYC Mayor Eric Adams, Fred Kreizman… Co-founder and managing partner of the communications and branding firm of Main & Rose, Beth Doane… Co-founder and co-executive director of the progressive Indivisible movement, Ezra Levin turns 37… Utility player in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, he was a third baseman for Team Israel, Ty Kelly turns 34… Software engineer at Home Chef, Ashley Abramowicz Gibbs… Anesthesiologist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Sheila Ganjian Navi… Chief of staff in HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Etan Raskas… VP at BlackRock in Tel Aviv, Jonathan Tamir Alden… Actor and comedian, Joey Bragg turns 26… Goldie Fields…