👋 Good Monday morning!
It’s primary week in Michigan. Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod is on the ground in the Detroit area, where he’s talking to voters and candidates ahead of tomorrow’s primaries.
In the final days of the Democratic primary race in the state’s 11th Congressional District, one poll has Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) leading Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), who has been calling in support from prominent progressive allies — and some Israel critics.
On Friday, Levin held a rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). He also participated in a Zoom discussion with Jewish Currents editor-at-large Peter Beinart on Friday. The prior week, he held events with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI).
Tlaib, whose close relationship with Levin was one reason some Jewish voters told JI they were siding with Stevens, did not mention Israel in her remarks and alluded generally to outside spending opposing her. One group, Urban Empowerment Action PAC, which describes itself as a “broad coalition of Black and Jewish… leaders,” has spent $678,00 in the district, but more prominent pro-Israel groups have not.
At the grassroots level, a group called Jews for Andy — some of whose members are affiliated with the far-left group IfNotNow, which has promoted the group — has been conducting outreach for Levin both on the ground and through virtual phone banks.
Kushner: Qatar ‘expressed openness’ to normalizing ties with Israel
As Israel builds ties with Arab nations in the Middle East, talk in Washington and Jerusalem has centered around what country will next join the Abraham Accords. One Gulf nation is rarely considered, given its ties to Hamas and strong alignment with the Palestinian cause: Qatar. But Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said in 2020 that he is open to normalizing ties with Israel, according to an excerpt from Jared Kushner’s new book, Breaking History: A White House Memoir, which was obtained by Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. The book will be published on Aug. 23.
Wrong time: “Tamim expressed openness to doing so at the right time,” Kushner wrote, recalling a 2020 meeting in which the Qatari leader cited “the many areas where Qatar was cooperating constructively with Israel.”
Order of priorities: A key obstacle, according to Kushner, was that at the time, Qatar and Saudi Arabia remained locked in a three-year-long diplomatic standoff, which Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates claimed was due to Qatar’s support for terrorism. In Kushner’s telling, Al Thani “wanted to solve the blockade with Saudi Arabia first,” before pursuing relations with Israel.
No progress made: The diplomatic rift ended in early 2021, but neither Qatar nor Saudi Arabia has pursued an official relationship with Israel. Saudi leaders have since said they hope to do so at some point, when the Israeli-Palestinian issue is resolved. The two countries have taken small steps in recent weeks: They agreed to a deal over contested islands in the Red Sea, and Saudi Arabia agreed to allow all Israeli flights to fly through Saudi airspace.
Read the full story here.
Bonus: The Wall Street Journal’s Dion Nissenbaum highlights portions of Kushner’s book that focus on the development of the relationship between Kushner and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.
hoops and hope
In Israel, Enes Kanter Freedom says he’s ‘more motivated than ever’ to fight antisemitism
Turkish NBA star and human rights activist Enes Kanter Freedom received a warm welcome in Israel over the weekend, visiting national and holy sites in Jerusalem, as well as hanging out at the city’s most happening hot spot, Mahane Yehuda, and launching his long-dreamed-of basketball camp for Muslim, Jewish and Christian children in the capital. “It’s hard to describe in words how I feel about being here,” Freedom, who is a practicing Muslim, told Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash in an interview on Sunday after spending the early morning praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
Opening hearts: “This is the holiest place I’ve ever been,” continued Freedom, who on Friday visited the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried. Freedom said the visits to each holy site had been deeply moving and spiritual experiences. “In every place we went, the people were so warm and friendly to me,” added the 6-foot-10 center, who happily posed for selfies with anyone who asked and shared clips on social media from each religious site calling on people of different faiths to unite and open their hearts to each other.
Criticism controversy: Freedom was dropped from the Houston Rockets earlier this year, after a series of actions critical of China for its systematic mistreatment of the Muslim Uyghur population, including an ad in which he referred to the Beijing Olympics as the “Genocide Games.” “I have to keep speaking out,” said Freedom, who maintains that the NBA is hypocritical for continuing its business dealings with the Chinese government. “The NBA essentially fired me in February and none of the teams have the courage to call me up – that shows how deeply they are involved.”
Speaking out: “They [the NBA] is pushing me out but I can’t just keep on dribbling a basketball when millions of Uyghurs are being murdered,” he told JI, adding that while he still feels too young to retire from the game, he also feels so strongly about these issues that he will never stop speaking out against them.
Facing pressure from activists, Maryland’s Montgomery County Council postpones antisemitism vote
Maryland’s Montgomery County Council quietly removed an item from its meeting agenda last week that would have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and committed the county to countering hatred of Jews, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch and Jacob Miller report.
Pressure campaign: The decision came after a pressure campaign by progressive Jewish residents of the county and activists associated with the Maryland chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) who objected to the IHRA definition’s assertion that anti-Zionism can be antisemitic. “We [last] Saturday pushed out an action alert to members of the community in Montgomery County,” Chris Habiby, the ADC’s legislative and policy coordinator, told JI. “By Sunday, we had gotten about 180 folks that sent emails to all the members of the council opposing the definition.”
Competing claims: The local Jewish community leaders who supported the antisemitism resolution — which was being pushed by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington — said they also supported the postponement. “We believe additional time is needed to clarify to legislators and coalition partners the importance of passing this measure at a time of escalating antisemitism and hatred towards other minority groups,” Ron Halber, executive director of the Washington JCRC, said in a statement.
Jewish hub: Montgomery County is the historic hub of the Jewish community in the Washington area, with about 105,000 Jews, according to a 2017 study. The area has experienced several high-profile antisemitic incidents in recent years, including two occasions in which white supremacist individuals distributed antisemitic fliers in the county’s heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.
Just a delay: Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who introduced the resolution, said that the council delayed the vote because it was “a very busy day” on Tuesday, rather than because of any opposition to its content. The council convenes again in September, and Friedson anticipates the body will vote on the resolution then.
👨 The Summers Stigma: In New York magazine, Jonathan Chait looks at the broader strategic lessons learned from the reaction among Democrats last year to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers’ opposition to the Biden administration’s economic policies. “There are many problems with a political culture that anathematizes criticism of extremists on one’s own side. The main one is that it shuts down the channel for identifying and correcting error, by stigmatizing any dissent as betrayal and evidence of personal guilt. But another problem is that it ignores the role of credibility. There is a persuadable audience, and people who are willing to concede errors or excesses on one side can address that audience with more credibility. Applying more partisan will to every contest is not a superpower.” [NYMag]
💰 Eastern Exposure: The Wall Street Journal’s Dov Lieber spotlights efforts by the Israeli government to invest in East Jerusalem, which has sparked mixed reactions from its residents. “Palestinian East Jerusalemites have welcomed some of the quality-of-life campaign’s benefits, such as new roads in a part of the city that still has many unpaved streets. The flourishing of Hebrew-language programs can be a ticket into the Israeli job market or acceptance to Israeli universities and colleges, where East Jerusalemite attendance has doubled since 2018, according to the city’s municipality. More East Jerusalemites are seeking Israeli citizenship. But many Palestinians call the quality-of-life campaign ‘Israelification,’ saying the government is physically and culturally forcing them out.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
🗳️ The Center Holds: Axios analyzes this year’s congressional primaries to date, finding that in a majority of Democratic primaries where Democrats are poised to win, voters backed the more moderate candidate over a progressive challenger.
🐕 Canine Counsel: The New York Times spotlights attorney Richard Rosenthal, who has built a career defending animals ordered to be euthanized for their behavior.
📚 Publishing Muscle: The Wall Street Journal’s Joseph Epstein reviews Josh Lambert’s The Literary Mafia: Jews, Publishing, and Postwar American Literature, which chronicles the modern history of Jews in the literary world.
⚠️ Religious Rights: Speaking in Rome at a conference organized by the University of Notre Dame’s law school, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito cautioned of a secular “growing hostility” to “traditional religious beliefs.”
🚓 Journalist Threatened: Police in Brooklyn arrested a man carrying an assault rifle and more than $1,000 in cash outside the home of Iranian dissident journalist Masih Alinejad.
🏓 Serving Up Bias: An Orthodox Jewish table tennis player alleged that the Taiwanese mother of her doubles partner harassed and berated her over her conservative dress and appearance.
⌚ Bad Time: A watch bearing the image of a swastika, which was believed to be owned by Adolf Hitler, sold at a Maryland auction for $1.1 million, despite a push from dozens of Jewish leaders to call off the sale.
🏀 Court Wizard: Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija will join the Israeli national basketball team for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and FIBA EuroBasket, being held later this month and in September, respectively.
✍️ U.N. Ask: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid penned a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for the disbanding of the Commission of Inquiry against Israel that was launched last year, as well as the resignation of its chairperson, in the wake of antisemitic comments by a commission member.
🎹 High Notes: Varietylooks at Israel’s growing music scene amid an influx of money and heightened international focus on development of Israeli talent.
♀️ Power Play: Participants in the Women’s Entrepreneurship Summit in Tel Aviv said government and industry need to work harder to put women in top positions in the tech sector.
🇧🇭 Gulf Goal: Bahrain’s ambassador to Israel is pitching companies in the startup nation on moving some operations to the Gulf nation.
🏗️ Good Neighbors: Israel will speed up its efforts to build a shared industrial zone with Jordan, after Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s visit to the Hashemite Kingdom last week.
👍 Gas Deal: Lebanon’s foreign minister expressed optimism that Beirut would reach an agreement with Israel over disputed maritime gas fields, amid ongoing U.S.-brokered negotiations.
🛢️ Sanctions Watch: The Biden administration is weighing whether to level sanctions against a UAE-based businessman and a network of companies believed to be selling Iranian oil in violation of Western sanctions.
Pic of the Day
Participants in a memorial march on Sunday from the main train station along the former route of the Buchenwald Railway pass 111 memorial stones in memory of Jewish youths who were deported from Buchenwald to Auschwitz.
Television, stage and film actor, Benjamin “Ben” Rosenfield turns 30…
Culver City, Calif., resident Allene Prince… Formerly CEO of Cendant Corporation, now CEO of 54 Madison Partners, Henry Silverman turns 82… Israeli film director and screenwriter, winner of the Israel Prize and professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, Ram Loevy turns 82… Founder and chairman of NYC-based Midtown Equities, Joseph Cayre turns 81… U.S. district court judge for the Southern District of New York, now on senior status, Judge Jed S. Rakoff turns 79… Former president of Brandeis University, now president of the Cleveland-based Mandel Foundation, Jehuda Reinharz turns 78… British businessman, he has been described as “the father of British venture capital,” Sir Ronald Mourad Cohen turns 77… Israeli-born businessman and film producer, later CEO of Marvel Studios, he won the 2019 Academy Award for best animated feature, Avi Arad turns 74… Second generation owner of a Los Angeles flooring business, Eric Kalman Biren… President of Hadassah, Rhoda Smolow… Media analyst and host of “MediaBuzz” at Fox News, Howard Kurtz turns 69… Director of New York government relations at Agudath Israel of America, Yeruchim Silber… U.S. career diplomat now serving as ambassador to South Korea, Philip Seth Goldberg turns 66… CEO of Atlanta’s Jewish Family & Career Services, Terri E. Bonoff turns 65… Professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. turns 63…
Policy director in the D.C. office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Andrew “Drew” Littman… Former senior rabbi of the British movement for Reform Judaism, now a rabbi at London’s Bromley Reform Synagogue, Laura Naomi Janner-Klausner turns 59… Former U.S. ambassador to Israel, now a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, Daniel B. “Dan” Shapiro turns 53… Producer for CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Shachar Bar-On… Professor of mathematics at Princeton and Hebrew U, winner of the 2010 Fields Medal, Elon Lindenstrauss turns 52… CEO of Goliath Records and former president of Def Jam Recordings, Paul D. Rosenberg turns 51… CEO of NYC’s Quantum Media Group, Ari Zoldan… Partner in Climate Capital, Jessica Alter… Founder and CEO of Moishe House, David Cygielman… Chief communications officer at The Center for Strategic and International Studies, H. Andrew Schwartz… CEO of National Council of Jewish Women, Sheila Katz… Chief operating officer at Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Noam Gilboord… VP of public relations at Burford Capital, David Helfenbein… Board-certified family physician, Mor Toledano Shapiro, M.D…. Cross-country skier who competed for the U.S. at the Winter Olympics in 2014 and 2018, Noah Hoffman turns 33… Operations manager at Elmwood Capital Group, Yael Rabin… Miami-based attorney, Asher Perez…