👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Despite the low profile of many of last night’s primary races, there were some surprises as results rolled in.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) won her primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District last night — but by 50-48%, the closest margin since her first federal election in 2018. The two-term legislator was nearly toppled last night by former Minneapolis City Councilmember Don Samuels, who came within 2,500 votes of Omar before conceding the race. Samuels had trailed Omar in polling throughout the primary season, but picked up momentum in the weeks leading up to yesterday’s primary, notching endorsements from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The editorial called the former city councilmember “a candidate of rare caliber, almost ideally suited to represent the mix of ethnicities and issues confronting the district,” raising concerns that Omar has “too often has been on the wrong side of critical decisions that carried high stakes for Minnesota.”
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes coasted to victory in the state’s Democratic Senate primary, the expected outcome after his top two challengers, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, ended their respective campaigns late last month and threw their support behind Barnes.
In Connecticut, Republican fundraiser Leora Levy, who was backed by former President Donald Trump, won the party’s Senate primary, and will go on to face Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) this fall. In 2016, Blumenthal beat his GOP challenger 63-35%.
Vermont state Sen. Becca Balint beat out Lt. Gov. Molly Gray in the Democratic primary for one of the state’s two at-large House seats, which Democrats are expected to hold onto in November.
building a relationship
After a 50-year hiatus, Israel-Chad ties are warming – fast
When Israel’s non-resident ambassador to the Republic of Chad, Ben Bourgel, presented his credentials to President Mahamat Idriss Déby in May, the biggest surprise was that it all felt very normal. “When I went to present my letter of credence, the presidency did exactly the same for me as it would do for any ambassador presenting his credentials,” Bourgal, who is Israel’s resident ambassador to Senegal and, as well as Chad, non-resident to the Gambia, Cape Verde, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash in an interview. The meeting, Bourgel explained, marked “a new era” for Israel and the landlocked central African nation, after 50 years of no formal diplomatic relations. In 1972, facing pressure from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Chad severed ties with Israel.
Key to stability: Bordering Libya as well as Sudan, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger, and with a population of some 16 million, Bourgel told JI that Chad was a “very important partner” for Israel. “It’s a key to stability and security in the region and that’s the way it is perceived by all international partners based there. Europe, the U.S. — they all see Chad as a constructive partner,” said Bourgel, who previously served as the political coordinator of Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Africa policy: For Israel, warming ties with one of the African continent’s largest countries is part of a two-fold strategy, explained Bourgel. “First, we are widening the circle of peace,” said the envoy, explaining that the creation of such relations had an impact on other nearby countries. “The second is Israel’s efforts to go back to Africa, which was initiated a few years ago.” Yonatan Freeman, an international relations expert at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told JI that the renewed diplomatic relationship with Chad was the first tangible result of this African policy. In addition, he said, the diplomatic process with Chad, a Muslim-majority country, had opened doors to the Arab world, maybe even paving the way for the 2020 Abraham Accords that Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and to normalizing ties with Sudan and Morocco in the same year.
Saving lives: With encouragement from the Chadian leadership, the warming of formal relations with Israel has already filtered down to benefit ordinary people. In July, for the first time, Israeli humanitarian aid organizations Israel Flying Aid and Save a Child’s Heart, together with MASHAV, the Israeli Embassy in Chad and the Menomadin Foundation, facilitated the airlift to Israel of three Chadian children in desperate need of heart operations.
on the record
Audio contradicts Blake Masters’ claim he ‘never heard of’ Gab CEO
Blake Masters, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Arizona, has claimed he is unfamiliar with the controversial founder of a social media platform for extremists who endorsed his campaign last month. In late July, Masters earned a nod of approval from Andrew Torba, the chief executive of Gab, a far-right Twitter alternative that is widely viewed as a hotbed of white nationalist sentiment. While Masters rejected the endorsement a few days later and insisted he had “never heard of” Torba, the incendiary social media entrepreneur has since countered that Masters’ claim is a “flat-out lie.” Masters’ campaign has continued to stand by his original remarks — as advisor Katie Miller affirmed in a statement on Tuesday to the Arizona Republic. “Blake interacts with tens of thousands of people on Twitter spaces — the sentiment remains that he doesn’t know Torba and rejects his support,” she said. It would not be unreasonable, however, to expect that Masters might remember his nearly three-minute exchange with the founder of Gab during a live Twitter conversation in January — a recording of which was obtained by Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Tuesday.
Playback: Their discussion was focused largely on content moderation and censorship, even as Torba introduced himself to Masters with an unsubtle nudge to join his platform, which is regarded as something of a repository for extremists banned from other platforms. “My question for Blake is, Blake, when are you getting on Gab?” Torba, who seemed eager to plug his company to a possible future senator, asked after entering the Twitter Spaces discussion, which was hosted by Adam Korzeniewski, a former Trump administration official and political consultant. Masters chuckled. “I’ll check it out. I’m definitely not, I mean, I’ve never used it. I’m definitely not anti — I think I’m on Gettr,” he said, referring to a right-wing social media network founded by a former aide to former President Donald Trump.
Tech talk: “I have a question for you, because I agree with you that, like, Apple and I guess the other one would be the Google Play store or whatever, they shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against a company,” said Masters, who has established himself as a vocal critic of Big Tech as a Senate candidate. “I’m curious,” he continued, “presumably you’re not banned from the app store, right?” Torba bemoaned that Gab’s “entire developer account is banned from Apple,” adding that he is “not even allowed to make submissions to the app store.” Following a brief technical back-and-forth about how Gab functions independently from the mainstream app stores, Masters appeared to express sympathy for Torba’s challenges at the helm of the social networking site. “I hadn’t realized it was that bad,” Masters said. “That’s obviously super messed up. I don’t think Apple should be allowed to do that.”
old kentucky home
Andy Beshear’s bluegrass grounding
When Air Force One touched down in Kentucky on Monday in the wake of deadly flooding, he was greeted by Andy Beshear, Kentucky’s Democratic governor, who since late 2019 has held power in this deeply conservative state. “Sometimes we call the president the comforter-in-chief,” said Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, the director of Chabad of the Bluegrass in Lexington. “[Beshear] has had a great deal of success tying into that role.” Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch talked to Kentucky political experts and Jewish leaders about Beshear, who has surprised political observers with positive approval ratings well into his first term.
Got lucky: Beshear was elected governor in 2019 by a thin margin, defeating Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin by just over 5,000 votes. “He was very lucky in that he ran against a governor who was highly unpopular,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and a longtime political commentator. “He was also lucky that he was the son of a former governor [Steve Beshear] who was elected to two consecutive terms and left popular.”
Draft Andy: A handful of Beshear super-fans hope the governor, whose supporters started calling him “Uncle Andy” during the COVID-19 pandemic, will run for higher office. His name has appeared on some long-shot lists of possible 2024 Democratic presidential candidates, but political observers caution that such a move is unlikely — and Beshear said last year that he would not consider running for the nation’s highest office in the next election. Beshear has also tried to maintain some distance from national Democrats. “He ran on typical moderate to mainstream Democratic values,” said Cross. “The national Democrats have dug themselves a hole in the state by becoming too much about identity politics and social issues,” which, Cross added, Beshear has “done a fairly good job” of avoiding.
No place for hate: Beshear has also dealt with a number of high-profile antisemitic incidents in Kentucky. “Each time, [Beshear] had to be the figure speaking out,” said Litvin. In 2020, a report revealed that a training presentation used by the Kentucky State Police quoted Adolf Hitler at length in a section urging officers to use violence. Beshear called it “absolutely unacceptable.” Later that year, at a menorah lighting hosted by Litvin in Lexington, a person driving an SUV shouted antisemitic slurs and ran over the leg of an individual who stepped in to stop him. This year, several Republican legislators invoked Jewish stereotypes in official proceedings. By early 2021, Beshear had worked with Jewish leaders in the state to adopt a resolution condemning antisemitism and adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism. “We appreciate the fact that he really has been quick to condemn acts of antisemitism, recognizing that antisemitism has no place in the Commonwealth, and that he stands with Jewish community,” said Melanie Maron Pell, chief field operations officer at the American Jewish Committee and a longtime Louisville resident.
✡️ Dark Clouds: In Common Sense, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt explains the relationship between the Jewish community in Russia and the Kremlin in recent decades, amid a legal battle to shut down The Jewish Agency for Israel’s operations in the country. “For two decades, the Russian president has cultivated an image of himself as the philosemite-in-chief. Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, he was supposedly the best Russian leader the Jews ever had. There was a reason for this: As long as you had the Jews in your corner, you couldn’t be a fascist. And being anti-fascist was central to the story that the Soviets, and now the Russians, tell about themselves. (Just ask anyone who’s spent Victory Day in Moscow.) It masked Russia’s own, darker, fascistic impulses — which we are now seeing play out in Ukraine.” [CommonSense]
👨 Support System: The 19th’s Jennifer Gerson spotlights Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff’s efforts to support gender equity as he navigates a role that had historically only been held by women. “Despite the amount of attention, not all positive, that Emhoff has gotten for being so publicly supportive of his wife — wearing Kamala T-shirts on the campaign trail, blowing kisses from the floor at the State of the Union address, jumping onto the stage when she was rushed by an activist — in person, Emhoff reads less as over-the-top Wife Guy and more like the seasoned entertainment law partner he was before stepping away when Biden announced Harris as his 2020 running mate. Though engaging and accessible, Emhoff is also clearly laser-focused on the task at hand, quickly reading a room and figuring out what needs to be done — not calculating but competent. For the past 18 months, the primary task has been to define for himself and the public what exactly a second gentleman should be.” [The19th]
💻 Quiet Scoop, Big Story: The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi looks at how a former political operative in Florida broke the story of the FBI raid on Mar-A-Lago this week by tweeting out the news and handing off the reporting intricacies to more seasoned journalists. “The way [Peter] Schorsch delivered the news stands in stark contrast to the norms of a hyperventilating digital political news environment, where scoops are treated like currency and clout that can lure valuable traffic to one’s website and each micro-development is labeled with an emergency siren emoji and all-caps ‘BREAKING’ or ‘SCOOP’ labels. (‘I feel like all-caps is loud,’ Schorsch told The Washington Post.) Schorsch essentially gave the news away, asking bigger national publications to seize his headline and build out their own stories about one of the biggest developments of the Trump post-presidency.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
🎤 In Review: The Washington Post’s David Weigel interviewed AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr on the group’s political spending in the 2022 primaries.
🙅♂️ No Apology: Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey refused to retract his comments comparing abortion to the Holocaust.
🍎 Bad Apple: A Brooklyn man was charged with menacing for threatening to attack an upstate New York fruit festival, which he described as a “Jewish meet up.”
🥙 Fresh Food: Oh Mama Grill, a kosher restaurant serving Israeli street food like shawarma and falafel, will open soon in Washington, D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood.
🍨 That’s Cold: A group of more than 1,000 Israeli students sent a letter to Ben & Jerry’s, accusing it of the “occupation of the Abenaki lands,” referring to the indigenous group that once claimed the area, and calling the company’s presence “illegal and…wholly inconsistent with the stated values that Ben & Jerry’s purports to maintain.”
🚇 Hate Crime: The NYPD is investigating an antisemitic attack that took place in a Manhattan subway station on Tuesday morning.
📺 As Seen on TV: The New York Times reviews Gary Weiss’ Retail Gangster, which chronicles the life of Eddie Antar, the proprietor of the eponymous Crazy Eddie discount electronics chain known for his zany commercials.
⚖️ Saudi Spy: A jury in Washington State convicted a former Twitter employee, who had given Saudi Arabia personal details of Twitter users who had anonymously criticized the kingdom on the platform, of acting on behalf of a foreign agent and money laundering, among other charges.
📞 Russia Reach-out: The Jewish Agency for Israel is expected to end its physical presence in Russia. Yesterday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Russia’s moves to dissolve the country’s branch of The Jewish Agency.
📰 Law of the Land: Following the weekend flare-up between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hamas imposed — and then rescinded — restrictions on journalists reporting from the enclave.
⚠️ Warning Issued: Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah cautioned Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon, saying, “Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered.”
💱 Crypto Buy: Iran reportedly made its first import order using cryptocurrency, raising concerns that the Islamic republic could use the currency to circumvent traditional sanctions.
💼 Transition: Integrity First for America Executive Director Amy Spitalnick will join Bend the Arc as the organization’s CEO, succeeding interim CEO Jamie Beran. Spitalnick was a guest on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” earlier this year.
Pic of the Day
President of the CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) Yonathan Arfi (left) and French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti (third from left) stand in front of a commemorative plaque yesterday after laying flowers during a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Chez Jo Goldenberg attack, a bombing and shooting attack by a Palestinian dissident group at a Jewish restaurant in Paris that killed six people, including two Americans.
Director of the Jewish Museum of Vienna, she was a founder of the German language magazine Nu devoted to Jewish politics and culture, Danielle Spera turns 65…
CEO at Royal Health Services in Beverly Hills, Robert N. Feldman… Professor of biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shimon Schuldiner turns 76… Founder and principal of Clipper Equity, David Bistricer turns 73… Former governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Gill Marcus turns 73… Conservative rabbi who served as president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi Jack Moline turns 70… Retired co-leader of the securities litigation practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, he is the co-president of NYC’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Joseph S. Allerhand… Certified registered nurse anesthetist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Edward Salkind… Member of the California State Senate, Steven Mitchell Glazer turns 65… Chief rabbi in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem and a leader of the Shas party, Rabbi David Yosef turns 65… Outgoing member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-MI), Andy Levin turns 62… Professor of physics and astronomy at Tel Aviv University, Yaron Oz turns 58… Former member of the Florida State Senate, Jeremy Ring turns 52… Deputy attorney general of Israel, Sharon Afek turns 52… Regional chief technology officer in the South Texas office of Technologent, Jason P. Reyes… Senior development officer of the NYC-based Tikvah Fund, Eytan Sosnovich… Senior social marketing strategist at Eventbrite, Sophie Vershbow… Lead market surveillance analyst at CME Group, Jacob Cohen…