👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Divisions over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel were on full display at an eight-candidate forum for New York’s 10th Congressional District last night at Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim.
In the lineup were former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, former House impeachment counsel Dan Goldman, small business owner Brian Robinson, former public defender Maud Maron and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.
Niou — who appeared virtually due to a COVID diagnosis on her campaign team — defended the BDS movement, although she said that she does not personally boycott Israel or intend to so do. She also said an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement could take “many shapes… including a two-state solution. If that’s where the parties land, I’ll fully support it.”
“I support the BDS movement’s right to political speech,”Niou said. “I share the movement’s commitment to human rights, equality and freedom for everyone in the region. I do not support calls to oppose the BDS movement. At the same time, I do not always agree with every single statement that’s made or all of its demands, nor do I embrace all of its tactics. No movement is perfect.”
Niou, who spoke first on the topic, faced targeted criticism from several other candidates.
The first and biggest applause of the night went to Goldman,who spoke about his support of Israel. “I categorically denounce the BDS movement. It is anti-Zionist, it is antisemitic. And let’s make something really clear: It’s not a First Amendment issue,” he said. “Of course, anyone who believes it has a First Amendment right to say they believe it. It’s the fact of supporting it that is the problem here.” He added, “We must have unconditional support for Israel.”
Jones said that, during a recent J Street trip to Israel, he confronted then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “I looked him in the eyes and I said, ‘There’s an entire generation of young American Jews that has some real issues with what your government has been doing,’” Jones recounted. “We need someone who’s willing to say that while supporting Iron Dome, to make sure that the Jewish people are safe,” he said, referring to Israel’s missile-defense system.
Rivera likewise said she does “not think [BDS] advances the ultimate goal of a peaceful two-state solution,” she said. “We can have a safe and secure Israel and, of course, a free and independent Palestinian state. I think it is up to us to try to also advance the goal of bringing parties to the negotiating table, both sides.”
Holtzman said that she remembered listening to news of Israel’s founding on the radio as a child.
The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing today on national security threats from the proliferation of foreign commercial spyware. One witness will be activist Carine Kanimba, whose phone was infiltrated by the Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
White House to name Shelley Greenspan its new Jewish liaison
Chanan Weissman will step down from his role as White House liaison to the Jewish community this week, and will be replaced by Shelley Greenspan, who joined the White House last month as policy advisor for partnerships and global engagement at the National Security Council, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Bio in brief: Greenspan’s background spans the federal government, the private sector, presidential campaigns and nonprofits. After launching her career on AIPAC’s legislative team, where she covered the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign before spending three years in Amazon’s policy team in Washington. Since 2020, she has worked at the State Department as a civil servant. She helped lead a national cohort of activists called “Jewish Women for Joe” during the 2020 presidential election.
Stepping up: “She’s just the right person. I enjoyed working with Chanan, but if he’s moving, I think Shelley is just perfect for that,” Ann Lewis, co-chair of Democratic Majority for Israel, told JI. Lewis worked with Greenspan on the 2020 campaign.
Two-way street: The Jewish liaison position requires a nuanced understanding of the landscape of Jewish communal life, and a willingness to engage segments of that community that may be at odds with administration policy on many issues. “If you think about the job description, it’s two-way advocacy. You represent the administration to the community and the country, and you represent the community within the administration,” said Lewis. One challenge she expects Greenspan to face is building ties with Jewish Republicans, especially if Republicans win control of Congress in the midterm elections.
Sense of purpose: Greenspan, a Miami native, has held board positions with several U.S. Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Women International. Both organizations “are simultaneously committed to the Jewish people and humankind as a whole,” Greenspan said in 2020. “I once heard Congressman John Lewis say that to be an effective public servant, you must love people. Serving in leadership roles with JWI and the ADL has given me a sense of purpose and the opportunity to build a community that actively engages in these ideals.”
St. Louis Jewish groups host Cori Bush amid scrutiny of congresswoman’s ties to antisemitic activist
Following an uproar over Rep. Cori Bush’s (D-MO) relationship with an activist with a history of making antisemitic comments, the St. Louis congresswoman toured a Jewish food pantry and Holocaust museum on Monday with leaders of local Jewish groups, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. An organizer indicated that the conversations with Bush focused on the local institutions and did not address antisemitism or her policies towards Israel.
Tweet and delete: Rori Picker Neiss, the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council’s executive director, tweeted yesterdaythat it was “an honor for [JCRC St. Louis] to host [Bush]” at the Jewish Family Services St. Louis food pantry and Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ as-yet-unopened St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum “and show her the incredible services our community provides to the entire St. Louis region.” Picker Neiss’ tweet was posted midafternoon on Monday and included photos of Bush with Picker Neiss and leaders of JCRC and the St. Louis Jewish Federation. The tweet was subsequently deleted.
Congressional connections: The meeting came amid scrutiny of Bush’s ties to Neveen Ayesh, a Palestinian-American activist and government relations coordinator at the Missouri Chapter of American Muslims for Palestine. Ayesh repeatedly tweeted about her hatred of Jews and expressed a desire to “set Israel on fire with my own hands & watch it burn to ashes along with every Israeli in it.” Ayesh hosted a fundraiser for Bush in 2020. Bush has not commented publicly on her ties to Ayesh since the recent reports, and her campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Local focus: Asked by JI if the congresswoman’s positions on Israel or her ties to Ayesh had come up during the tour, Picker Neiss indicated that they had not. “We are always happy to share with any and all elected officials the inspiring work of our Jewish community institutions,” she said. “We were grateful that the congresswoman and her team took time to join us as the Jewish food pantry and Holocaust museum hosted us to tour these valuable institutions. Our discussions focused on how these Jewish institutions benefit the St. Louis community.”
Election eve: Picker Neiss also said that the JCRC is “trying to tread carefully in advance of the election.” As a nonprofit group, the JCRC is banned from making political endorsements or engaging in electoral activity. Missouri’s primary elections, in which Bush faces multiple challengers, are set for Aug. 2. Greg Yawitz, who chairs the Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ board and was pictured with Bush, did not respond to inquiries from JI.
Race to watch
Fort Lauderdale vice mayor makes a bid for Rep. Ted Deutch’s seat
Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen can’t say exactly what he does for the Navy Reserves as a lieutenant commander specializing in intelligence. But he does believe that this national security experience will help make him a strong candidate to replace Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in a South Florida congressional seat, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Jumping in: Sorensen, who is also a Presbyterian minister, announced his campaign in early April, joining the top rung of candidates running to represent Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. “I have a passion for public service,” Sorensen told JI in an interview in May. “There’s many issues at the federal level which I’ve been working on for years that I’m passionate about.”
Top secret: In the Navy Reserve, Sorensen served for a time at the Pentagon and is currently affiliated with U.S. Southern Command in Florida. He told JI he was unable to say what his specialty is, but, in a candidate forum this month, alluded to work supporting U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile-defense programs like Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow 3. “Working at the highest levels of our national security apparatus, there’s no learning curve for me on some of the key national security issues — I’m gonna hit the ground running and lead,” he said.
Standing together: Sorensen told JI that the U.S.-Israel relationship “has to be protected, fostered and nurtured” both economically and militarily, emphasizing the two nations’ shared values, including “open and fair elections, embracing of diverse people and drawing big tents to include diverse demographics.” In a candidate forum, he praised Israel as representing “the core values… of equality, embracing diversity and service to the country.” Speaking to JI, Sorensen called for the U.S. to “continue to engage fully” with both the Israelis and Palestinians to work toward a two-state solution.
Staying involved: Rabbi Schneur Kaplan of the Downtown Jewish Center Chabad in Fort Lauderdale, who also used to be Sorensen’s neighbor, said he is a “mensch” and has “worked extensively” with the Jewish community from the city commission. After the synagogue shooting in Poway, Calif., Kaplan recalled that Sorensen was “concerned about the security for synagogues, came over to our synagogue with local law enforcement to discuss how we could enhance the security at our congregation. This was something that really touched him, and he went out of his way to see what he could do to help.”
🇨🇳 China Chasm: In Newsweek, Ilan Berman explores the challenges the U.S.-Israel relationship faces as each take a differing approach to China. “Even more fundamental, though, is a difference of perception about China. Simply put, the U.S. now increasingly sees China as a major strategic threat and competitor. Israel, on the other hand, see it as a neutral — perhaps even a beneficial — actor. As investment analyst Alexander Pevzner puts it, ‘China is not an enemy to Israel and we do not want to make China an enemy.’ Put another way, Israel cannot afford to spurn friends, especially one that boasts one of the largest economies in the world.” [Newsweek]
💻 Trigger Warning: In The Conversation, Sabine von Mering and Monika Hübscher examine the role of algorithms in promoting antisemitism on social media. “Antisemitism is fueled by algorithms, which are programmed to register engagement. This ensures that the more engagement a post receives, the more users see it. Engagement includes all reactions such as likes and dislikes, shares and comments, including countercomments. The problem is that reactions to posts also trigger rewarding dopamine hits in users. Because outrageous content creates the most engagement, users feel more encouraged to post hateful content.” [TheConversation]
✡️ Putin Problem: The Atlantic’s Gal Beckerman discusses the history of Russia’s relationship with Jewish immigration in context of recent threats to shut down the Jewish Agency for Israel. “Putin’s action against the Jewish Agency shows that Russia still considers Jews to be pawns — not individuals with lives and aspirations, but a single, undifferentiated group that matters only as geopolitical leverage for the state. This is especially disheartening for those Jews who stayed after the fall of the Soviet Union to build futures for themselves in Russia as full citizens. Putin just reminded them that he can take that away.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🍑 Survey Says: An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll has Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) leading Republican Herschel Walker by three points, within the margin of error.
👎 Voting Rolls: An Atlanta judge rejected a petition from five Georgia voters to have Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) removed from the ballot over her role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
🗳️ Campaign Trail: David Axelrod, who served as a political advisor to former President Barack Obama, and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) slammed Democrats’ latest efforts to boost far-right Republican candidates they believe will be easier to beat in general elections, pointing to an effort to promote a primary challenge to Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) — a moderate Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump.
🏃♂️ Desert Storm: The Wall Street Journal spotlights the high-profile Republican Senate primary in Arizona, where Blake Masters has a narrow lead over fellow Republicans Mark Brnovich and Jim Lamon ahead of next Tuesday’s primary.
⚖️ Suit Settled: Teva Pharmaceuticals announced a settlement worth up to $4.25 billion over its role in the opioid epidemic.
🤝 Foggy Bottom Meeting: The family of slain Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh met with Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
📺 Double ‘Jeopardy!’: Mayim Bialik has inked a long-term deal with Sony Entertainment Pictures that will keep her sharing co-hosting duties with Ken Jennings on the long-running “Jeopardy!” series.
🍜 Restaurant Remorse: The Rhode Island restaurant that used an image of Anne Frank in a social media post joking about the weekend’s heat wave has apologized.
💥 Fight or Flight: Israel announced that Russia had attempted a “one-off” attack on Israeli military jets as they flew over Syria in May.
🏗️ Haifa Rising: Reuterslooks at the increasing interest from Asian investors into Haifa, where India’s Adani Ports, along with an Israeli minority investor, recently purchased the city’s port; China’s Shanghai International Port Group bought an adjacent area just last year.
🚧 Home Front: Israel demolished the homes of two Palestinians it suspected of killing an Israeli security guard in the West Bank in April.
📈 All in This Together: Innovate UK and the Israel Innovation Authority are pushing collaboration among their entrepreneurs, who could see up to 50% of their projects funded for joint ventures.
💰 Staking Claim: The family office for the Saudi AlRajhi family became the largest shareholder in Israeli company Otonomo Technologies, with a stake of 20.41%.
☢️ Hot Holdout: Despite mounting pressure to finalize a nuclear agreement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it will not be “rushed into a ‘quick’ deal.”
🚀 Spaced Out: Amid international tension, Russia announced plans to leave the International Space Station after 2024.
💍 Mazal Tov: Daniel Lippman, a White House and Washington reporter for Politico and former co-author of Politico Playbook, on Sunday night proposed to Sophia Narrett, an artist who shows with Kohn Gallery and Perrotin. Lippman proposed on the beach at sunset at the Rosewood Baha Mar in the Bahamas. Pic … Another pic
Pic of the Day
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan shares a video of Sha’aban al-Sayed pleading for the release of his son Hisham, who has been held by Hamas since 2015, at a gathering of members of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. Last month, Hamas released a video that appeared to show Hisham al-Sayed wearing an oxygen mask in a hospital bed, the first images of him since his disappearance seven years ago.
Television producer of many popular sitcoms in the 1970s and later, founder of the progressive advocacy group, People for the American Way, Norman Lear turns 100…
Real estate developer who founded Aspen Square Management, he heads an eponymous foundation known for its flagship program PJ Library, Harold Grinspoon turns 93… Forensic pathologist known for his work investigating high-profile deaths, Michael M. Baden turns 88… Managing partner of Access Fund Management Company, he is a past president of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Harold Zlot… Former CIA Director and Deputy Secretary of Defense in the 90s, now a professor emeritus at MIT, he has served on the boards of multiple Fortune 500 companies and non-profits, John M. Deutchturns 84… Steven M. Mizel turns 83… Former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Stephen M. Greenberg turns 78… Artist and museum founder focused on Fusionism, Shalom Tomáš Neuman turns 75… Israeli author and television producer, Yarin Kimor turns 70… Israeli-born fitness personality, Gilad Janklowicz turns 68… Comedian, writer, producer and actress, Carol Leifer turns 66…
Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, Linda Feldmann… Former VP of global communications, marketing and public policy at Facebook, he previously held a similar position at Google, Elliot Schrage turns 62… U.S. Army colonel (retired), Jeffrey Brian Carra… Israeli television and radio personality, Erez Moshe Tal turns 61… Heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, now a film producer, Jean “Gigi” Pritzker turns 60… Former member of the Hungarian Parliament and member of the European Parliament since 2009, Tamás Deutsch turns 56… Rabbi at Kesher Israel: The Georgetown Synagogue, Rabbi Hyim Shafner… Political consultant, Andrew Grossman… Managing partner at Capitol Venture, LLC, Jeremy Deutsch… SVP of marketing at Xometry and winner on “Jeopardy!,” Aaron Lichtig… Benjamin Rothenberg… Deputy chief of staff for communications for Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), Jeremy Adler… Former CEO of the Rabbinical Assembly, she is now the managing director at Leading Ethics, LLC, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld…