👋 Good Tuesday morning!
Yesterday, we took a look at the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. A new poll of 500 likely voters in the district out yesterday found self-funding multimillioniare state Rep. Shri Thanedar had jumped into first place at 22%, followed by nonprofit CEO Portia Roberson at 17% and state Sen. Adam Hollier — backed by pro-Israel groups — at 16%, with 16% undecided.
The race is currently too close to call, according to Ed Sarpolus, the director of local firm Target Insyght, which conducted the poll. The poll, with a margin of error of 4.5%, found the rest of the field trailing nearly 10 points behind the three frontrunners. Attack ads flying between Thanedar and Hollier are generally accruing to Roberson’s benefit, he said.
That’s not the only new poll of interest, as we approach the final weeks of some of the most-watched campaigns of the midterms. In New York’s redrawn 17th District, internal polls from the campaigns of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi show Maloney with a double-digit lead over his progressive challenger.
Down in Florida, AIPAC endorsed Jared Moskowitz in the competitive Democratic primary in the state’s 23rd Congressional District, where all three leading Democratic candidates have cast themselves as staunchly pro-Israel. Moskowitz said having the endorsement of “the leading organization that supports people who are pro-Israel” will help him step into the shoes of outgoing Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) as a champion of U.S.-Israel relations.
Moskowitz also said that fellow Democrats criticizing AIPAC’s involvement in Democratic primary races and its endorsements of Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election results are applying “a separate set of rules” to AIPAC than other political groups, “just like those same people want to apply a separate set of rules to Israel.”
Department of Education to open probe into USC over antisemitism allegations
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is opening an investigation into allegations that campus administrators at the University of Southern California did not adequately address claims of antisemitism targeting a Jewish student leader, who resigned from her leadership position within the school’s student government in 2020 after a sustained campaign of online harassment, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
Background: The investigation comes nearly two years after Rose Ritch, then a rising senior at USC, resigned as the student body’s vice president, following a stream of documented online harassment and calls by students for her resignation that centered on her identity as a pro-Israel individual. In one Instagram post, a resident assistant on the campus wrote, “Even if all the orgs on campus that r Jewish r also Zionist That’s not an excuse For you to join That’s still blood on ur hands.” Prior to being elected, in early 2020, Ritch was asked at a candidate forum how her involvement with Trojans for Israel, the campus’ pro-Israel group, would affect her ability to govern, which she told JI at the time was a way for students to express antisemitic sentiment “under that kind of cloak of anti-Zionism.” During that campaign, the complaint alleges, Ritch’s “campaign posters were repeatedly vandalized and the campaign posters of other Jewish students running for Student Senate were pulled down.” The complaint goes on to say that campus administrators “did nothing” after Ritch reported the incident.
Student protections: Ritch graduated in 2021 and now lives in Washington, D.C. She told JI she was “grateful” that the Office of Civil Rights was opening an investigation. “This has been an issue on college campuses for a long time, but I think, really, in the past couple of years, it’s really just increased. And so I hope that this can offer a little bit of hope or something to students in that what they are experiencing is not OK, and that they do deserve and should be and need to be protected by their universities.”
Across the Pond
The two candidates vying to succeed Boris Johnson
After three years of tumultuous politics during the scandal-laden administration of Boris Johnson, British politics will enter a new phase — one that is likely to be just as tumultuous — as the country’s Conservative Party selects Johnson’s successor. Last week, the field whittled down to two contenders after five rounds of voting open to members of Parliament. In the final round, set to be held over the coming weeks, dues-paying Tories will now decide who they will send to 10 Downing Street: former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak or current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Jewish Insider’s Jacob Miller reports. The race pits two Thatcherites and Johnson associates against one another, yet each claims a different economic plan and vision for the Conservative Party.
Sunak’s story: Sunak, 42, is a former hedge funder who, if elected, would become Britain’s first prime minister of color. Born to Indian immigrants from Kenya and present-day Tanzania, Sunak went on to the prestigious Winchester College and studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford. After a stint at Goldman Sachs as an analyst, he worked for various hedge funds before entering politics in 2015, embracing a long-held skepticism of the European Union that pushed him in 2016 to endorse Brexit.
Trusty candidate: Truss, 46, grew up in a liberal family and also studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford. After working at Shell and Cable & Wireless, Truss entered politics, first working at the Reform Research Trust, a think tank, and then winning election to Parliament in 2010. She has served various positions in the Cabinet including as environment secretary, justice secretary, chief secretary to the treasury (a position also briefly held by Sunak before he became chancellor of the Exchequer), international trade secretary and then finally foreign secretary. In March, she secured the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, British-Iranian citizens who were being held hostage in Iran, by resolving a decades-old $480 million debt with Tehran. She also supported the decision to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Jewish angle: Justin Cohen, the news editor at U.K.’s Jewish News, told JI that both candidates are friendly to Israel and the British Jewish community, but that Sunak’s positions are less well-known because he is newer to politics. “I would expect literally any member of the current government, or the pre-Johnson resignation government, to be a very strong supporter of Israel,” he said. Cohen described Sunak as a “lesser-known quantity when it comes to the community,” and added that “there’s no doubt that for the staunchest supporters of Israel who want to know exactly where things are going, then the current foreign secretary, who is a big supporter, the safest bet is there.”
Campaign trail: The Tory party does not publish its voter roles, so it is impossible to discern the exact number of Jews who will have the opportunity to cast their ballots in the race, however Cohen noted that British Jews are “probably more politically engaged than your average person” and that they are “more likely to vote Tory than they are to vote Labour,” suggesting that the Jewish voice — albeit small — might be somewhat disproportionate in the race. The winner of the election will be announced in September.
Anti-Defamation League hires Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker for security role
In mid-January, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker captured national attention for calmly navigating an 11-hour hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Held at gunpoint with three congregants by a British man demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman jailed by the U.S. on terrorism charges, the hostages safely escaped when the rabbi threw a chair at the gunman. Afterward, Cytron-Walker credited training from law enforcement, the Secure Community Network and the Anti-Defamation League for his survival. Now, Cytron-Walker is bringing his training full circle by joining the ADL as a special advisor on security, a paid position to improve the ADL’s outreach and community education initiatives, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Lev Gringauz reports.
Natural next step: “It really says a lot about Rabbi Charlie that he wants to do this,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, told eJP. “It would be very easy for him to simply retreat to congregational life; it would be very easy for him just to write a book. But…Rabbi Charlie is saying ‘No, I need to do more.’” The rabbi has a longstanding relationship with the ADL, both from security training and from a friendship with the former head of the ADL’s Dallas office. “We started talking with the rabbi immediately after the incident,” Greenblatt said. “And we’ve been in touch with him since, and just felt like it made sense from all sides: for him, for us and for the community.”
Job description: Alongside helping the ADL communicate security best practices, Cytron-Walker will also be working to support Jewish communities as they recover from deadly and traumatizing attacks. Greenblatt pointed to the outpouring of solidarity from Muslim and Christian leaders after the hostage situation as the kind of community-building he hopes Cytron-Walker will facilitate. Much of that support was due to relationships that the rabbi built during interfaith work in Texas, Greenblatt said.
☢️ Mideast Quagmire: In the Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead looks at the challenges facing the Biden administration as the chances of reaching a nuclear agreement with Tehran appear increasingly slim. “Mr. Biden has repeatedly said that allowing Iran to build nuclear weapons is not an option. If his administration fails to hold that line, the consequences for American power in the Middle East and globally would be profound and perhaps irreversible. If America attacks Iranian nuclear facilities and finds itself stuck in yet another Middle Eastern quagmire, the effects at home and abroad will also be dire. China and Russia would take advantage of America’s Middle East preoccupation to make trouble elsewhere, and U.S. public opinion would be further polarized.” [WSJ]
🗳️ Primary Colors: In The Hill, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was a presidential candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary, praised the decision by the Democratic National Committee to choose new states to kick off the 2024 primary calendar. “Iowa is a wonderful state, of course. But it does not look like much of the rest of the country, where Americans — and Democrats especially — are increasingly diverse and living in cities and their surrounding areas. Iowa’s largest city, Des Moines, has fewer people than the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which also should not be the first in line to nominate a president (no matter how wisely it might have voted in 2020). If Democrats want urban challenges to take center stage in presidential elections — matters such as reducing gun violence, improving public schools, expanding mass transportation, fighting homelessness, and tackling the pollution that falls heaviest on Black, Latino and Indigenous communities — it’s critical that the primary calendar include states where those issues are top priorities for voters.” [TheHill]
🇹🇷 Turkish Troubles: The Financial Times’ Andrew England and Laura Pitel consider Turkey’s options as it finds itself increasingly entrenched in the war in Syria. “In the three areas under Ankara’s watch, Syrian schoolchildren learn Turkish as a second language. The sick are treated in Turkish-built hospitals and the lights are kept on by Turkish-generated electricity. The Turkish lira is the dominant currency and Turkey’s state-owned postal service, PTT, is used to transfer salaries to Syrian workers and host the bank accounts of local councils. The governors’ offices of Turkish border provinces oversee hiring and firing in adjacent Syrian regions. On the security front, Turkey trains and pays the salary of more than 50,000 Syrian rebel fighters, has deployed its own troops inside Syria, built hulking military bases on the frontier and an 873km-long border wall.” [FT]
🖥️ Cyber Concerns: In The Washington Post, Gil Baram examinesthe cyber conflict between Israel and Iran, as tensions between the two countries increase. “Israel and Iran have shifted from traditional covertness and ambiguity to an increasingly public forum. Considering what has unfolded over the past two years, it appears the international community does not view these types of cyber-intrusions as crossing a certain threshold of violating international law, as no other country has addressed them. And the objectives of these cyberattacks have shifted from mostly defense targets to disruptions of critical infrastructure and civilian life. The greater the public exposure to these cyberattacks, the greater the risk that they could extend beyond cyberspace and influence other areas of this conflict, too.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
🏥 Kushner Revelation: Jared Kushner was diagnosed with and treated for thyroid cancer while working in the White House, according to an excerpt from his upcoming memoir, which will be published next month.
💻 Digital Diplomacy: The White House is working to boost its cyber cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Israel following President Joe Biden’s recent trip to the region, in an effort to counter Iranian digital threats.
🧂 Tasteless Joke: A Rhode Island restaurant is under fire for a since-deleted Facebook post that likened the ongoing heat wave to ovens at a concentration camp, using an accompanying photo of Anne Frank.
🚓 Bad Apples: Boston police arrested three men at a white supremacist gathering in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
📝 Problematic Papers: Antisemitic leaflets linking Jewish Disney executives to “child grooming” were distributed in a Virginia Beach, Va., community over the weekend.
🇷🇺 Jewish Agency Tensions Grow: The Washington Postspotlights heightened tensions between Israel and Russia ahead of an expected move by a Russian court to shutter The Jewish Agency for Israel’s activities in the country.
🎐 Global Swarming: Israeli officials are raising concerns about the influx of jellyfish off the country’s shore, which they warn is a sign of rising global temperatures.
👨💻 Going Big: Yahoo is expanding its operations in Israel, hiring Neetai Eshel as managing director of its research and development centers in the country.
😡 Attorneys Against Abbas: In a rare show of opposition, Palestinian lawyers called out Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his unchecked “rule by decree” during a mass protest on Monday.
✍️ Nuclear Notion: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak penned an op-ed in Time about what he said was Iran’s imminent future as a nuclear power.
🇮🇷 Tehran Talk: Iranian state media claimed that officials stopped“Mossad-linked agents” from bombing a “sensitive center” within Iran’s Isfahan Province, before taking the individuals into custody.
👮 Religious Prosecution: A Saudi man identified as having helped a Jewish-Israeli reporter sneak into Mecca was arrested by local police.
🕯️ Remembering: Director and producer Bob Rafelson, who was a co-creator of the Monkees and was behind such films as “Easy Rider” and “The Last Picture Show,” died at 89.
Pic of the Day
Clay oil lamps discovered last week at the site of a first-century mikvah near the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Actress best known for her role in the “Spider-Man” trilogy, Mageina Tovah Begtrup turns 43…
Advertising and documentary filmmaker, Elliott Erwitt turns 94… Retired member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes turns 94… Former mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman turns 83… Former administrator at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston, chancellor of the California State University system and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Barry Munitzturns 81… Author, podcaster, columnist and rabbi, Shammai Engelmayer turns 77… Former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Richard Stark turns 70… Sports columnist, author, television and radio personality, Paul Finebaum turns 66… President and chief medical officer at Laguna Health, Alan H. Spiro, MD, MBA… Film and television director, she is best known for her work on the Showtime drama series “Homeland,” Lesli Linka Glatter turns 69… Venture capitalist, he is a brother-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, James W. Breyer turns 61… Actor, comedian and producer, Jeremy Samuel Piven turns 57… Former correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for “Nightline” and co-anchor the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” Daniel B. “Dan” Harris turns 51… Founder and chairman of the D.C.-based consulting firm Stonington Global, Nicholas Muzin turns 47… Managing partner of the D.C. office of ColdSpark, Nachama Soloveichik… Israeli-born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman turns 40… Israeli born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein turns 39… Former associate director at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Lauren Garfield-Herrin… Actress and filmmaker, Hallie Meyers-Shyer turns 35… Member of the comedy quartet “The Try Guys,” Zachary Andrew “Zach” Kornfeld turns 32… Analyst at D.C.-based Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Drew Gerber… Former running back for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, not an MOT, Tarik Cohen turns 27… Pitcher on the Israeli Women’s National Softball Team, Tamara “T” Statman Schoen turns 25… Political correspondent at Israel’s Walla News, Tal Shalev… Texas-based editor at Sports Illustrated, Tomer Barazani…