👋 Good Monday morning!
By the time early voting ended across New York State yesterday, more than 76,000 ballots had been cast throughout New York City, roughly half of them in Manhattan, where Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) are battling to represent the newly drawn 12th Congressional District.
With many of their constituents spending the final weeks of summer in points north (the Hudson Valley and Catskills) and east (the Hamptons), Maloney and Nadler — as well as Suraj Patel, who trails them both in the polls — have had to reach out beyond the borders of the district, encouraging absentee voting and sending campaign mailers to second homes and summer houses.
Some 35,000 absentee ballots were distributed to voters in the 12th District in the weeks ahead of the race, The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos reports, more than four times the number of absentee ballots sent out during the 2018 midterm primaries.
Efforts to get city residents who are upstate for the summer to vote, whether by absentee ballot or in person, have been “difficult,” Goldmont Realty CEO Leon Goldenberg told JI, and challenges abound. “Absentee is too late [at this point],” he added. Will people drive in [to the city] to vote? Highly unlikely.”
race to the finish
NY-10 Democratic primary enters homestretch
When a leading candidate for an open House seat in New York City expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel last month, the backlash was as fierce as it was immediate. In the weeks that have followed, Yuh-Line Niou, a progressive state assemblymember in Manhattan, has continued to face scrutiny in subsequent interviews and public appearances, even if the uproar over her position has abated somewhat, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
BDS barrage: Now, a recently launched super PAC is drawing renewed attention to Niou’s comments ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The group, New York Progressive, is targeting Jewish voters in New York’s redrawn 10th Congressional District, which encompasses Lower Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn, in a new mailer casting Niou’s platform as “dangerous,” “reckless” and “too extreme for our community.” “Yuh-Line Niou supports the antisemitic BDS agenda,” reads the mailer. “Vote no on Yuh-Line Niou for Congress.”
Highlighting ‘hypocrisy’: It is the latest hit in a series of attacks from New York Progressive, which has spent at least $225,000 on digital ads and direct mailers “to educate voters on Yuh-Line Niou’s hypocrisy,” Jeff Leb, the group’s treasurer, who previously worked to oppose a slate of left-leaning candidates for New York City Council in 2021, told JI. “Yuh-Line Niou pretends to be progressive but she’s anything but.” (Niou’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from JI.)
Vacillation calculation: As an increasingly heated debate over Middle East policy stokes division in Democratic primaries, few issues have inflamed tensions more than the BDS movement, which remains a fringe position even among the most outspoken critics of Israel. Niou, for her part, has since vacillated amid the uproar, claiming she does not agree with all of the movement’s demands and is open to visiting Israel. During a recent debate, Niou said she believes “Israel should exist” while also emphasizing a commitment to “the free speech rights of the BDS movement.” Niou confirmed she would vote against a House resolution opposing BDS.
Conformity of opinion: It remains to be seen whether Niou’s comments, persuasive or not, will factor into the crowded primary, where more than a dozen Democrats are on the ballot. The latest polling shows Niou in second place with 17% of the vote, trailing Dan Goldman, a moderate former federal prosecutor, by five points. But if Niou’s endorsement of BDS injected some volatility into the Middle East policy discussion, her evolving position has otherwise obscured a relatively unusual conformity of mainstream Democratic opinion on such issues among her main opponents in the race, which has grown increasingly acrimonious as it draws to its uncertain conclusion.
Read on for interviews with several leading candidates in the race.
An electric vehicle pioneer drives growth of Mideast transportation startups
Michael Granoff, whose $160 million venture capital firm invests in companies that expand the way people get from one place to another, hates driving the family car to work. Granoff, founder and managing partner of Maniv Mobility, generally commutes to his Tel Aviv office from a northern suburb by train, bus, taxi or riding with a neighbor. For a meeting across town, he’ll hop on one of the motorized rental scooters clustered on city sidewalks. “I prefer anything than having to sit in traffic and not be productive and be frustrated and then having to park,” Granoff, 53, told The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger in a recent interview. “It actually doesn’t cost me more.”
Maniv moves: Granoff is not just trying to save money. He’s an evangelist and battle-scarred veteran in the global revolution to widen vehicular choices. To date, Maniv has made investments in 37 companies spread across eight countries. The businesses range from designing sensors in Israel for self-driving cars and running a Tesla ride-sharing service in Manhattan to unleashing electric scooters on the United Arab Emirates.
Gulf business: Just a week after the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords with Israel at the White House on Sept. 15, 2020, Granoff jumped on a plane. He was soon introduced to the founders of Fenix, which runs the Emirati scooter fleet, and made his first investment — $3.8 million — in the company. “Dubai is becoming a bit of a technology magnet for the Arab world in a similar way that the [San Francisco] Bay Area is, and the government there is committed to nurturing the tech sector and entrepreneurship. I think there will be lots more opportunity over time,” Granoff said.
Background: Granoff grew up in New York City, the son of clothing maker and philanthropist Martin Granoff, who is also a champion horse breeder. After undergraduate studies at Tufts University, Granoff earned a law degree and an MBA at Northwestern University before returning to New York and opening Maniv Investments LLC, named after the Hebrew word for yield. Among his biggest ventures was Better Place, an ambitious effort in Israel at building a charging network for electronic vehicles, or EVs. Founded by charismatic entrepreneur Shai Agassi, the company enchanted investors including Israel’s Idan Ofer, France’s Groupe Renault, HSBC and Morgan Stanley. It burned through $1 billion in capital before going bankrupt in 2013.
Lesson in resilience: Granoff’s resilience after Better Place has established him as an important investor today for early-stage mobility companies, said Brian Blum, author of Totaled: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and The World. “It was a real blow to have this thing that he believed in so much fall apart,” Blum told The Circuit. “The thing is it didn’t stop him from continuing on his mission of investing in the future of mobility and technology. You know, he just jumped right back into it.” Among Granoff’s most prominent investments in recent years is Israel’s Otonomo Technologies, which collects data from network-connected vehicles. After going public on the Nasdaq last year through a SPAC (special-purpose acquisition company), Otonomo lost some 80 percent of its value. Saudi Arabia’s Mithaq Capital reported last month that it has amassed a stake of more than 20 percent, making it Otonomo’s biggest shareholder.
🌐 Pariah No More: In the Wall Street Journal, Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah of Iran, decries the enabling of Iran by Western governments, whom he suggests are bringing Iran back from global isolation, putting those who oppose the regime at greater risk. “Now, however, it appears that Western powers on both sides of the Atlantic have forgotten the lessons that kept their citizens secure as well as the dissidents to whom they offered a haven. Though the Islamic Republic hasn’t compromised on its revolutionary and revisionist principles, over the past decade the regime has emerged from its former pariah status. Officials are now accepted at glitzy panels at international forums and attend headline-grabbing negotiations at Europe’s chicest hotels. That acceptance has afforded the regime unprecedented and undeserved moral equivalency with the West. It has fostered confidence among Tehran’s radical followers the world over who see the regime as a source of revolutionary inspiration to radical action.” [WSJ]
🖼️ Art History: CNN’s Zoe Sottile spotlights a new New York State law that requires museums showcasing artwork looted by Nazis to disclose and identify which works were stolen. “‘We learn history from looking at artwork,’ [Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg] Schneider said. ‘The history of what happened to this piece is part of it. It’s an opportunity to open up to another audience, another perspective, on the history of the Holocaust. Not only was [the Holocaust] the largest, most sophisticated industrial genocide of Jewish people, it was also the greatest theft in history of the world,’ Schneider said. The scale of the theft of ‘property, of art, insurance policy, bank accounts, all types of possessions, and Jewish cultural objects, is mind-boggling.’” [CNN]
🔢 No Wizard: In Rolling Stone, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley look at the struggling Senate campaign of Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was backed by former President Donald Trump in the Republican primary but is at risk of losing the endorsement amid a series of campaign missteps. “In recent weeks, some Trump allies have repeatedly flagged polling for the former president showing Dr. Oz down, at times by wide or double-digit margins, to his Democratic opponent. Trump has sometimes responded by asking advisers how it’s possible that someone who was that popular on TV for so long is doing so poorly in the polls. When Trump has inquired if the polling has been ‘phony’ or skewed, multiple people close to him have assured him that — as one of the sources describes to Rolling Stone — ‘this is not a matter of the polls being “rigged,” there are major problems with this campaign and, more specifically, this candidate.’” [RollingStone]
🗳️ Taking on Trump: In Vox, Ben Jacobs examines the challenges facing Republican candidates and officials who aren’t backing former President Donald Trump, following Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-WY) loss in Wyoming. “None of the winning candidates emphasized their opposition to Trump. In fact, they all ran localized races and focused on issues that voters in Republican primaries were concerned about. But it required that combination for anti-Trump Republicans to succeed in a primary. As one plugged-in Trump ally who was granted anonymity in order to speak frankly put it, ‘Cheney found out what happens when you try to make an entire election a referendum on Trump.’ The Trump ally was skeptical that there was ever a path for Cheney to win, but thought she could have kept it close by ‘running a hyper-localized campaign, not going out of the way to mention Trump’s name, [and] not publicly aligning with the January 6 committee.’” [Vox]
Around the Web
☢️ Demand Dropped: Iran has reportedly dropped the demand that the U.S. delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as Washington works to reassure Israel that it has not made significant concessions to Tehran.
🛫 Envoy Swap: The United Arab Emirates will post an ambassador in Iran, six years after the countries downgraded ties.
🙅♀️ Pulling Support: Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor of Arizona, said she would withdraw her endorsement of an Oklahoma state Senate candidate who reportedly made antisemitic comments, if those remarks are confirmed.
🎤 Trail Talk: At a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Sandy Springs, Ga., Senate candidate Herschel Walker noted the number of Jewish recipients of Nobel Prizes, saying, “God’s people do big things.”
👨 On the Ballot: Republican Rudy Yakym, who served as finance director for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), will appear on the ballot in November following Walorski’s death in a car accident earlier this month.
🌆 Borough Buy: Top Rock Holdings, led by Joseph Yushuvayev and Uri Mermelstein and RJ Capital are in contract to buy the Forest Hills Jewish Center, which they plan to tear down and redevelop.
🕍 Rabbinical Record: The New York Timesspotlights Regina Jonas, who in 1935 became the first ordained female rabbi, and who died in Auschwitz in 1944.
🎥 In Theaters: A new documentary showcases the efforts of a man to identify the people — many killed in the Holocaust — who appear in a three-minute film taken by his grandfather in Nasielsk, Poland, in 1938.
📚 Hard History: A new book chronicles a woman’s efforts to discover her Latvian grandfather’s moves during WWII, ultimately concluding that he joined up with a unit specifically tasked with eliminating the country’s Jewish communities.
🤝 Defense Deal: Israeli and Cypriot officials reportedly signed an agreement that would see Nicosia purchase the Iron Dome missile-defense system amid deepening defense cooperation between the two countries.
✍️ Hamas Tactics: The Wall Street Journal looks at how Israel’s new approach to Hamas, which has included the loosening of import restrictions and the issuing of additional work permits, is affecting the group’s behavior on the ground in Gaza.
⏸️ Plane Pause: A new plan that would have allowed Palestinians to fly to Turkey via Israel’s Ramon Airport was shelved on the eve of the inaugural flight.
🧏 Body Language: Fox News spotlights Sign Now, an Israeli app that provides on-demand sign language interpretation services in multiple languages.
🇮🇩 Coming Home: Israeli officials are working to repatriate the body of a 19-year-old climber who died in Indonesia, with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
🖥️ NSO Shake-up: The NSO Group will lay off 100 employees and replace its CEO as it reorganizes to focus on business with NATO members.
💼 Now Serving: President Joe Biden appointed Herbert Block, Nancy D. Berman, Harley Lippman and Hershel Wein to serve on the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.
🕯️ Remembering: Rabbi Shalom Cohen, who served as spiritual head of Israel’s Shas party, died at 91.
Pic of the Day
Scott Eckers, the last singer to perform at Kutsher’s Country Club in Monticello, N.Y., before its 2013 closure, poses with a vintage neon sign that he is donating to the Catskill Mountains Resort Museum.
Former MLB outfielder, then investment banker, he was the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and has served as president of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Fla., Ambassador Mark Gilbert turns 66…
Emmy Award-winning television news journalist, formerly the weekend anchor of “CBS Evening News,” Morton Dean turns 87… Former director of Prozdor, the high school program of the Hebrew College in Newton, Mass., Margie Berkowitz… Founder, president, co-CEO and co-chief investment officer of Elliott Management Corporation, Paul Elliott Singer turns 78… Dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Joyce Naness Fox, MD… Founder of the magazine American Lawyer and the cable channel Court TV (now TruTV), he also co-founded NewsGuard, Steven Brill turns 72… Former chief of staff to VPOTUS Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby (family name was Liebowitz) turns 72… Chairman of Israel Military Industries (now known as IMI Systems), he was a member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Yitzhak Aharonovich turns 72… Robin Zetzel Elcott… Former investment banker who left his job to run a Los Angeles-based homeless service provider, he is now a professor at USC, Adlai W. Wertman turns 63… Chairwoman of Israel’s Strauss Group, Ofra Strauss turns 62…
Co-founder of Marquis Jet and part owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Jesse Itzler turns 54… Director of political information and education at AIPAC, Ed Miller turns 51… Director of strategic partnerships at the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Deborah Hochberg… Member of the board of trustees of Lawrence, N.Y., Michael A. Fragin… Director of operations at the University of Pennsylvania Hillel, Rachel Saifer Goldman… Partner in the Century City office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Stuart A. Graiwer… Co-executive director of Christians United for Israel, Shari Dollinger Magnus… Attorney and author, best known for her New York Times bestselling book, Notorious R.B.G.: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Shana Knizhnik turns 34… Principal at CSR Operations LLC, an HR consultancy, Claire Stein-Ross… Actor known for his role as statistical genius Sylvester Dodd in the television series “Scorpion,” Ari Stidham turns 30… Outfielder in the Minnesota Twins organization, now playing for the Triple-A St. Paul Saints, Braden Adam Bishop turns 29…