👋 Good Thursday morning!
Ed note: The Daily Kickoff will be enjoying a summer Friday off and will be back in your inbox on Monday morning. Have a good weekend!
In a vote on Tuesday night, the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education voted to approve the addition of two Muslim holidays, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha, to the district’s list of observed holidays, while keeping schools open on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The move came six months after a recall election in which three sitting board members were removed from their positions. Last year, the district attracted national attention for its efforts to rename an elementary school that had been named to honor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who served as San Francisco’s mayor from 1978-1988.
In a letter sent by the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco to district Superintendent Mark Wayne, JCRC Executive Director Tyler Gregory and Adriana Lombard, the group’s director of public education, expressed concern that “the district is potentially perpetuating the very inequity it is trying to alleviate” by giving unequal recognition to the holidays.
“Like the San Francisco Muslim community, we too have had longstanding challenges with representation, curriculum, and observance needs with SF Unified,” Gregory told JI last night. “Our conversations with board members have been respectful and they understand our perspective and expectations. The question now becomes one of equity between communities. Will SF Unified recognize Jewish celebrations in the same way? What about other historically disadvantaged communities, like Hindu and Chinese communities? We’re looking for answers on how they will address communities’ inclusion in a practical and equitable way, and hope to bring Jewish parents and students in conversation with the district around these issues.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Delaware Gov. John Carney, both Democrats, returned yesterday from a trip to Israel, where they visited cultural sites and met with political and business leaders. After leaving on Sunday for the trip, which was sponsored by the Center for Innovative Policy, the governors met with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
“By taking trips like this one, we can expand Israeli investments in New Jersey and forge new, mutually beneficial connections,” Murphy told JI. “I look forward to further deepening the economic and cultural bond between New Jersey and Israel.”
Why Ilhan Omar’s primary opponent didn’t receive more support
Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) razor-thin margin of victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Minneapolis is raising questions about why pro-Israel political action committees didn’t back former City Councilman Don Samuels in the race, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Different candidates: It’s a question that Samuels, who lost to Omar by just 2,500 votes, is asking, too: “We were very, very frustrated by the lack of support from organizations that have ‘Antone fatigue,’… maybe ‘Black male opponent fatigue’ — not understanding that there are different kind of candidates, and that my potential for beating Ilhan was very high,” Samuels told JI on Wednesday, referring to Antone Melton-Meaux, who challenged Omar in the 2020 primary.
Mum’s the word: Two years ago, Omar, who has faced allegations of antisemitism from fellow legislators, vanquished Melton-Meaux, who received millions of dollars from pro-Israel donors — a community that roundly sat out this year’s contest. In addition to holding back funds from this year’s race, political action committees affiliated with AIPAC, Democratic Majority for Israel, Pro-Israel America and the Jewish Democratic Council of America also chose not to endorse Samuels.
Public confrontation: Publicly, none of the pro-Israel PACs have expressed regret about opting not to get involved. But privately, pro-Israel Democrats told JI that they feared getting involved would backfire and give Omar a boost. “People went to the right conclusion that she was vulnerable, she may be vulnerable locally, but that nationalizing the race would be a mistake. So can you be helpful without making it a big national event?” asked one Democrat who supports pro-Israel causes. “The question for people who want to make a difference, want to support pro-Israel candidates, want to ensure pro-Israel support, have to work through: How can you be most helpful?”
Bad reputation: Constituents argue that support from activists and donors outside the Minneapolis-based district might not have been enough to help Samuels, and that the barrage of pro-Israel spending last year may have worked to Omar’s advantage. Melton-Meaux “was perceived by the public as a puppet for the cause, and if AIPAC had put any money in [for Samuels], I think it would have tarnished [him],” a member of the Twin Cities Jewish community, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told JI.
Decisive moment: Samuels would’ve taken the support — if it had been offered. “I know that there were people I called and that were called on my behalf to say, ‘We need your help, we need your endorsement, we need your dollars, we need your support,’” Samuels recalled. “And they said, they said it very clear, ‘We’re not going to invest in this. Antone lost. She can’t be beaten. And so we’re looking at other races where we can have more impact and where our dollars will be more likely to make a difference.’ So we had to just eat it.”
Gen Z progressive says he’s ‘pro-Israel’ and ‘pro-Palestinian’
Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a leading Democratic candidate in the crowded race for an Orlando-area House seat in Florida’s Aug. 23 primary, has gained national attention as one of the first members of Generation Z to run for Congress. From a policy standpoint, the 25-year-old gun safety activist is also carving out a unique lane on Middle East issues. In a lengthy position paper, for example, he describes himself as both “pro-Israel” and “pro-Palestinian,” vowing to engage proactively in “bringing peace to a region that so desperately needs and deserves it,” Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Balanced approach: Frost has indicated that he will pursue a nuanced and somewhat more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than one might expect of a staunch progressive aligned with the activist left on domestic policies. In a candidate questionnaire solicited by JI, he distanced himself from measures that would penalize Israel, rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as “problematic” and opposing calls to condition U.S. aid to Israel. He is “committed to supporting” continued military assistance that “helps ensure” Israel “can properly defend itself.”
Praise from Torres: Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) told JI that Frost, whose campaign he has endorsed, is developing “a “measured, mainstream position on an issue that often generates more heat than light,” adding: “He approaches public policy with an open mind and an open heart, and that applies to issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the American-Israeli relationship. He has deep empathy for the plight of both Israelis and Palestinians. He strongly favors a two-state solution and strongly disfavors anything that undermines a two-state solution, whether it be the delegitimation campaign of BDS or the creation of settlements in the heart of a would-be Palestinian state.”
Assessing the field: Frost is among 10 candidates in the race to succeed outgoing Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) in Florida’s redrawn 10th District. While he has led the field in fundraising, the limited publicly available polling suggests that another candidate, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, is well-poised to win. Bracy was endorsed by Democratic Majority for Israel in January, but the pro-Israel group does not appear to have prioritized the race. A spokesperson said on Monday that DMFI was “not in a position to share anything” about the matchup “at this time.”
‘Critical role’: Despite his lack of experience in the foreign policy realm, Frost suggested that he is committed to engaging with Middle East issues in a substantive manner if he is elected to the House, where the Gen Zer would likely be the youngest member of Congress. “As a pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian member of Congress,” he wrote in his position paper, “I will do everything in my power to make sure the United States steps up to serve in this critical role.”
Read the full story here.
signed, sealed, delivered
Hochul signs Holocaust legislation package into law
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Tuesday that will improve Holocaust education in classrooms, acknowledge in state museums art stolen from Jewish homes during the war and recognize financial institutions waiving reparation fees for survivors, Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel reports.
Class curriculum: The headlining bill of the package acts upon a law enacted in 1994 requiring state schools to teach about the Holocaust. Sponsored by Assemblymember Nily Rozic and state Sen. Anna M. Kaplan, the new legislation works directly with the New York State Education Department, which will conduct audits in each district to see whether or not those requirements are being met. “I think it is really imperative that we teach Holocaust [education] to our kids in a meaningful way so that they can learn from it,” she said. “And based on all the statistics that we’ve been seeing here in New York, which has been a home to so many Holocaust survivors, we’re doing a very bad job.”
Honest art: The second bill, also sponsored by Kaplan along with state Assemblymember Charles D. Lavine, will require all museums throughout the state to acknowledge and make public note of any artwork being displayed that had been stolen or looted from Jewish owners by the Nazis. “Too many people [today] remain ignorant of the indiscriminate wholesale murder of more than six million Jews by the Nazis during World War II, plus the countless examples of humiliation and, in cases such as this, blatant profiteering,” Lavine said.
Bank list: The final bill, sponsored by state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein, will require the Department of Financial Services to publish a list of all banks waiving fees for Holocaust survivors receiving reparation payments. “These fees may sound small, but to survivors living on fixed incomes, $40 per transaction adds up quickly,” Myrie told JI. “We can’t stop banks from charging these fees — but the state can use its “soft power” to encourage banks to waive these charges for Holocaust survivors and commend those who choose to do so. Annually publicizing and updating the list of these banks will also help survivors and their families make more informed financial decisions.”
🚀 Keeping a Lid On: The Atlantic Council’s Shalom Lipner looks at how Israel managed to keep the weekend skirmish with Palestinian Islamic Jihad from escalating into a deadlier, prolonged military confrontation. “Critically, from Israel’s standpoint, the campaign was brought to a swift end, before a seemingly inevitable miscalculation could occur and bring about some catastrophe that might have caused Israel’s allies’ relative support for the offensive to dissipate. Events unfolded in Israel’s favor for multiple reasons. Beyond its superior firepower, Israel was able to collect and employ high-quality intelligence that enabled precision strikes against PIJ objectives… Also contributing to Israel’s resilience was a rare display of unity between its political leaders. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu appeared for — and was photographed at — his first proper consultation with [Prime Minister Yair] Lapid. Defense Minister Benny Gantz — another contender for the premiership in Israel’s upcoming November 1 election — and Lapid displayed harmony of function as well. Consensus allowed military planners to focus on their mission without the distraction of dissenting voices.” [AtlanticCouncil]
🇹🇷 Caught in the Middle: The editorial board of the Financial Times spotlights how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is navigating its ties with Russia alongside his relationships with the Western world. “Erdoğan has had a bumpy relationship with Putin, a fellow strongman and geopolitical rival, notably over their differing priorities in the Syrian conflict. In Ukraine, Ankara courted Moscow’s wrath by providing Bayraktar attack drones to Kyiv’s forces. But Turkey has not adopted US and EU sanctions on Moscow, is buying Russian oil and gas as normal, and has kept its skies open to Russia’s commercial planes — keen to hold on to the lucrative Russian tourist trade, which it lost in 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter over Syria.” [FT]
Around the Web
⚖️ Assassination Plot: The Department of Justice leveled criminal charges against an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps member for attempting to orchestrate the assassination of former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
🛰️ Drone Partners: U.S. officials told CNN that Russia has begun training on drones in Iran, amid speculation that Moscow plans to purchase the technology from Tehran to assist in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
◀️ Reversing Course: The Pentagon will reverse plans to downgrade the position of the Jerusalem-based U.S. security coordinator, following bipartisan congressional opposition.
✈️ Unfriendly Skies: Alaska Airlines is facing a lawsuit from two Muslim passengers who allege they were removed from a flight after a passenger saw the men sharing Arabic-language text messages.
🥪 Food for Thought: Tasting Tablereleased its list of the 20 best Jewish delis in the U.S.
⛔ Off-Air: Ayman Mohyeldin’s Peacock show was canceled by MSNBC.
🏅 Munich Memories: The families of the Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich called on Israeli President Isaac Herzog to join them in boycotting an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack, arguing that Germany has not adequately addressed reparations for its role in the athletes’ murders.
👩🎤 Noa’s Arc: Israeli pop star Noa Kirel will represent the country at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.
🛂 Immigrant Influx: Israel’s Immigration Ministry said that more than 31,000 individuals from Russia and Ukraine have immigrated to Israel since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
🕯️ Remembering: Bookseller and cookbook collector Janice Bluestein Longone, whose collection included the first Jewish recipe book believed to be printed in the U.S., died at 89.
Pic of the Day
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes with his wife, Sara, yesterday in Tel Aviv in the Likud primary to fill out the party’s Knesset slate.
Former MLB pitcher for seven teams, he is the pitching coach for Team Israel, Andrew Lorraine turns 50…
THURSDAY: Architect best known for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Peter Eisenman turns 90… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, she was succeeded by Chuck Schumer, she also served as Brooklyn DA and NYC comptroller and is a current candidate for Congress in New York’s 10th Congressional District, Elizabeth Holtzman turns 81… Principal of Investors Research Group based in Los Angeles, Jacob S. Segal… Former SVP for international affairs at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Lois Weinsaft… Co-founder of The Carlyle Group, he serves as chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, David Rubenstein turns 73… Former U.S. trade representative, she retired in 2021 as the chair of the international trade group at WilmerHale, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky turns 72… Senior counsel for benefits and employment at the D.C.-based law firm of Keightley & Ashner, Linda E. Rosenzweig… Lenore Solomon… Artistic director and choreographer of an eponymous dance company based in Union, N.J., Carolyn Dorfman… CEO, chairman and major shareholder of the Russian gas company Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson turns 67… Former member of the Massachusetts Senate, he is the founder of Cape Air, Daniel A. “Dan” Wolf turns 65… Publisher of Yated Ne’eman weekly English-language newspaper, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz turns 64… Member of Knesset for the Likud party, David “Dudi” Amsalem turns 62… Co-founder and partner of MizMaa Ventures and wine columnist at Jewish Insider, Isaac “Yitz” Applbaum… Former chief of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman turns 62… Chairman at Duty Free Americas, Simon Falic… Political, cultural and social science commentator for The New York Times, David Brooks turns 61… Public affairs official at Meta, Ilana Marcus Drimmer… NFL offensive lineman for four seasons, he is now the managing partner of Oakland-based North Venture Partners, Alex Bernstein turns 47… Co-founder and CEO of Israeli interactive video firm Eko, Yoni Bloch turns 41… Chief investment officer of Toronto-based investment firm Murchinson, Marc Bistricer… NFL punter for seven seasons with the Jaguars and Bears, he is now a broker in the Jacksonville office of Merrill Lynch, Adam Podlesh turns 39… Ukrainian-born and San Francisco-raised journalist and copywriter, Yelena Shuster… General surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Sara Ginzberg, M.D…. Operational and organizational transformation manager at Grant Thornton Public Sector, Daniel Weitz…
FRIDAY: Hungarian-American investor, businessman, philanthropist and political activist, George Soros turns 92… CEO and co-founder of Forsight, a leading prop tech AI and machine learning company, Ariel Applbaum turns 28…
SUNDAY: Former attorney general of New Jersey and chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Samson turns 83… Director of the Department of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Henry Brem, M.D., turns 70…