👋 Good Tuesday morning!
It’s Primary Day in Wyoming and Alaska. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is facing an uphill battle to keep her seat amid a challenge from Harriet Hageman, who is backed by former President Donald Trump.
Trump has opposed Cheney, one of the most vocal Republicans backing the then-president’s impeachment, and threw his support behind Hageman last September. Cheney’s criticism of Republicans who refused to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election included criticism directed toward AIPAC’s new PAC over the group’s endorsements of more than 100 sitting members of Congress who in 2021 voted against certification.
Cheney was not included in the PAC’s initial endorsements of incumbent lawmakers, but later received the group’s backing.
But last week, the Wyoming legislator had an hourlong meeting with local AIPAC members. Cheney later tweeted about the meeting, asserting that she will “never waver in my support for a strong US-Israel relationship and Israel’s right to defend herself.”
The Sierra Club will resume its trips to Israel beginning next spring, its president, Ramón Cruz, confirmed to Jewish Insider this morning. The announcement comes months after the nature organization, facing pressure from anti-Israel activists, briefly canceled several upcoming trips to Israel before announcing their reinstatement.
In addition, Cruz confirmed that Dara Silverman, formerly the executive director of Jews United for Racial and Economic Justice who now does Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training, will be working with the organization “around stakeholder engagement across the spectrum.”
Despite reversal, Yuh-Line Niou continues to vacillate on BDS
Yuh-Line Niou, a leading progressive candidate in the crowded race for an open House seat in Manhattan and a parts of Brooklyn, continued to vacillate on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel on Monday, declaring in a questionnaire that she is opposed to BDS even as she endorsed its “commitment to human rights, equality and freedom for everyone in the region,” reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Hedged response: “I do not support calls to oppose the BDS movement; at the same time, I do not agree with all of its demands nor do I embrace all of its tactics,” Niou, a New York State assemblywoman who represents the Lower East Side, wrote in the candidate questionnaire, which was solicited by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. “No movement is perfect just like no person is perfect.”
Flip-flop? Niou’s response was a reversal from the position she expressed to JI last month, when the 39-year-old lawmaker stated her explicit support for the BDS movement. “I believe in the right to protest as a fundamental tenet of western democracy, so I do support BDS,” Niou said in an email to JI, following a phone conversation in which she had hesitated to reveal her personal view of the movement. Since then, Niou has doubled down on her explanation in interviews with media outlets and during a candidate forum in late July.
Qualified statement: The JCRC questionnaire — which Niou submitted on Aug. 6, according to a spokesperson for the group — is the first instance, it seems, in which she has explicitly rejected BDS. Asked in the survey if she supports the movement, Niou wrote “No,” but qualified her answer in a separate question on U.S. aid to Israel. “I support the BDS movement’s right to political speech, including boycotts and economic pressure, which has been targeted by laws that undermine core first amendment principles,” Niou said. “Boycotts are a tried, true, respected and constitutionally protected nonviolent tactic for human rights and social justice movements.”
‘U-turn’ or ‘dog whistle’: Alexander Rapaport, an Orthodox Jewish leader in New York’s redrawn 10th Congressional District, said he was unconvinced by Niou’s clarification, even if she had opposed the movement. “A plain ‘no’ would be good enough,” said Rapaport, the founder of Masbia, a network of local soup kitchens, who last month hosted a meeting with Niou at his home in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park. “Anything after the ‘no’ is a U-turn or a dog whistle, so I don’t know why it’s part of it. Just finish with a ‘no.’” (A spokesperson for Niou’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment from JI.)
Bonus: A new poll from PIX11/Emerson College Polling/The Hill has attorney Dan Goldman, at 22%, leading the crowded pack in the Democratic primary in New York’s 10th Congressional District. Niou trails at 17%, followed by New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera at 13%.
Walter Russell Mead: ‘Clearly an element of realism’ in U.S.-Israel relationship
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein are joined by Wall Street Journal columnist and scholar Walter Russell Mead, for a wide-ranging discussion touching on U.S.-Israel relations and his latest book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People.
On the U.S.-Israel relationship: “As I say in the book, Israel didn’t become strong because it had an American alliance, it gained an American alliance because it had grown strong. So there is clearly an element of realism in the relationship. And in some ways, the book could operate as a kind of defense of the power of realist calculations in American foreign policy. But at the same time, it is also true that there has been a tremendous popular support, often stronger among non-Jews in America than among Jews, for the idea of a Jewish state in the lands of the Bible as signifying a kind of, you know, a hope for humanity as a whole, and also as a vindication of American principles.”
The real story about Harry Truman’s recognition of Israel in 1948: “It was very interesting to me to look into that a little bit deeper and see, well, wait a minute, actually, after [Truman’s close friend] Eddie Jacobson met with Truman and got Truman to meet with [Israeli President] Chaim Weizmann, which was the point of Jacobson’s intervention, American policy didn’t change; that there was no visible result of that meeting with Weizmann. In fact, Truman consistently then tried to stop the Israelis… from declaring independence. The last thing the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine did before they declared independence was the cabinet voted to disregard, to reject Truman’s request that they delay the declaration. So in that sense, Israel started as it meant to go on by rejecting American advice when it involves matters of national security. But the real kind of complex story of Truman’s approach to this takes you back in some ways 50 years before, when, before [Theodor] Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat and before the formation of an organized modern Zionist movement in Europe, a group of Americans signed a petition asking President Harrison to use his influence to get the European powers to establish a Jewish homeland in the Ottoman Empire. That petition was signed by John D. Rockefeller. By J.P. Morgan, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, so sort of the American Protestant establishment was Zionist before really there was an organized Zionist movement among Jews in Europe.”
On the Abraham Accords: “A lot of what’s driving the Abraham Accords was certainly not respect for the statesmanship of Jared Kushner or [former President] Donald Trump, but rather a common sense among Arabs and Israelis, that the Americans were becoming so weak and unreliable vis-a-vis Iran, that the conservative Arab states and the Israelis needed to stick together. That the foundation of the Abraham Accords is not respect for America or a sense of common purpose with America, the foundation is a fear that the United States is either leaving the Middle East or making a deal over the head of its old allies with Iran, or has lost its compass so that policy swings wildly from Obama to Trump to Biden without ever accomplishing very much. So, in that sense, the Abraham Accords are part of an adjustment to the failure of American foreign policy, or lack of American strategy.”
on the hill
Senators seek to extend 1996 Iran sanctions
A recently announced bipartisan Senate bill seeks to make permanent the sanctions on Iran’s energy industry first imposed in 1996, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
No sunsets: The bill, introduced by Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), would extend the restrictions imposed in the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 beyond 2026, when they are set to expire. The sanctions in the original bill were set to expire in 2001, and have been extended by Congress numerous times since then. The last 10-year extension passed in 2016.
On the record: In statements about the legislation, its sponsors framed it as key to efforts to counter Iran. “The United States, Israel, and our Arab partners remain concerned about the looming threat that a nuclear Iran poses to the stability of the region,” Scott said in a statement. “U.S. sanctions are a necessary deterrent for this dangerous and unstable regime, which is why my bill will make the cornerstone of sanctions on Iran permanent.”
Negotiating position: Rosen argued that the 1996 bill “helped bring Iran to the negotiating table” and said the new legislation “ensures we maintain the full range of our economic and diplomatic tools to prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”
Israel angle: Hassan called the sanctions “important for restraining Iran’s ability to pursue weapons and technology that threaten our national security and the safety of Israel, our strongest partner in the region.”
📞 Summers’ Time: Politico’s Ben White looks at how former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who had spoken out against many of the Biden administration’s economic policies, became critical in convincing legislators of the benefits of passing the Inflation Reduction Act. “Summers’ quiet but deep involvement in White House economic planning is remarkable since he has been among the sharpest critics of President Joe Biden’s spending policies almost from the beginning — a position that has earned him praise from Republicans and scorn from progressives. Yet Democrats’ eagerness to gain his support for Biden’s latest massive legislation is a testament to how they cannot ignore him. ‘I remember walking the tunnels back to the Hart building and saying to Larry, who was in Brazil at some conference at the time, “You gotta call Joe Manchin and you gotta do it right now and convince him this is all cool, that this will work,”’ Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, recalled in an interview about the final, frenetic days before the vote on the legislation. ‘And he did that, he made the call.’” [Politico]
☢️ Tunnel Vision: In The Washington Post, former National Security Advisor and U.N. Ambassador John Bolton questions President Joe Biden’s continued efforts to reach a nuclear agreement with Tehran as Iran continues to target officials and regime critics abroad. “How to explain this manic quest for the Holy Grail of reviving the 2015 deal? Analytically, Biden is compartmentalizing Iran’s nuclear program in one silo and its terrorist activities in another, treating them as separable and unrelated. He is engaging in the classic diplomatic fallacy of ‘mirror-imaging,’ believing his adversaries see the world the same way he does, sealed off into separate compartments. The reality in Tehran is precisely the opposite. The ayatollahs’ malevolence is comprehensive, with nuclear weapons, assassination and terrorism all elements in their full spectrum of capabilities. By failing to grasp the wider scope of Iran’s menace, and plainly failing to deter it, Biden’s dangerous effort to resurrect the nuclear deal is threatening America’s larger interests.” [WashPost]
🕍 Tar Heel Trouble: In Charlotte Magazine, Jen Tota McGivney explores the rise in antisemitism in the North Carolina city. “At just 15, Asher Yesowitch of Charlotte reflects on how much has changed during his lifetime. As a little kid, he didn’t see security at his synagogue. ‘Everyone has their guard up more. When I was younger, I didn’t have to worry. We weren’t in as much fear as we are now,’ Yesowitch says. It reminds us of what’s going on.’ His 13-year-old sister, Nora Yesowitch, worries, too. She recalls a day when a classmate came to school wearing a swastika on his arm. When students asked him to take it off, he kept it on, saying he was just being funny, it was no big deal. ‘I got a little scared,’ she says.” [CharlotteMag]
📚 You’ve Got [Fan] Mail:The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme reflects on how writer Nora Ephron has been — correctly or not — immortalized by fans in the years after her death. “Since her death, a decade ago, at seventy-one, the romanticization of her work has swelled like a movie score. A writer of tart, acidic observation has been turned into an influencer: revered for her aesthetic, and for her arsenal of life-style tips. On TikTok, memes like ‘Meg Ryan Fall’ — the actress starred in Ephron hits like ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ ‘Sleepless in Seattle,’ and ‘You’ve Got Mail’ — celebrate the prim oxford shirts, baggy khakis, and chunky knit sweaters that Ephron immortalized onscreen. Burgeoning home cooks cling to her vinaigrette recipe from ‘Heartburn,’ her 1983 novel, not because it’s unique (it’s Grey Poupon mustard, red-wine vinegar, and olive oil, whisked together until thick and creamy) but because it’s Nora’s. And giddy writers still stream into New York with their own ‘Nora Ephron problem,’ dreaming of an Upper West Side fantasia where they can sit at Cafe Lalo, eat a single slice of flourless chocolate cake, and deliver a withering retort to any man who dares disturb their peace.” [NewYorker]
Around the Web
🗳️ Schumer Says: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) endorsed Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) over Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in New York’s 12th Congressional District, becoming the first member of New York’s congressional delegation to make an endorsement in the race.
💸 Money Matters: J Street is putting $70,000 in digital advertising into the Nadler-Maloney race, boosting Nadler.
📺 Buy Bye: The National Republican Senatorial Committee scaled back its ad buys in three battleground states, cutting more than $5 million in Pennsylvania and $2 million each in Arizona and Wisconsin.
🪖 Worrying Report: A report from Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, found that U.S.-trained Afghan military personnel fled to Iran following the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan last summer.
🏜️ Desert Storm: The New York Times Magazine looks at the evolution of Arizona’s Republican Party following the state’s primary earlier this month, in which a slate of candidates who support — and some of whom have received the endorsement of — former President Donald Trump swept the most-watched races and will go on to the November general election.
👩 New Role: Chicago-based philanthropist Margot Pritzker was unanimously elected as chair of the Aspen Institute’s board of trustees.
💰 Titans Team Up: WeWork founder Adam Neumann has found a backer for his new real estate venture, Flow: venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz, which is investing $350 million, the firm’s largest individual investment.
🤝 Disney Buy-In: Third Point LLC head Dan Loeb has acquired a new stake in Walt Disney Co., and is suggesting ways to improve the company by repositioning its hold on Hulu and ESPN.
⛲ What’s In a Name?: The Dutch city of Hogeveen renamed Mayor Tjalma Park — which honored a former local official who aided the Nazis in capturing the city’s Jews — to Municipal Park.
📈 Priced Out: Inflation in Israel soared to 5.2% in July, a figure not seen since 2008.
✍️ In Response: Iran said it submitted a written response following the distribution of a final nuclear agreement last week by European negotiators, as state media hinted that Tehran would not accept the proposed agreement.
Pic of the Day
Young visitors play at the Jerusalem Botanical Garden this week.
Argentine professional tennis player, Diego Schwartzman turns 30…
Solicitor general of New York State, Barbara Dale Underwood turns 78… Former member of Congress and both houses of the New Jersey legislature, Richard Alan “Dick” Zimmer turns 78… Sportscaster who is known as the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys,” Brad Sham turns 73… President and CEO of the Business Roundtable, Josh Bolten turns 68… Maryland secretary of aging, Rona E. Kramer turns 68… Gerald Platt… Media consultant, Sol Levine… Former commander of the Israeli Air Force and later CEO of El Al, General Eliezer Shkedi turns 65… Senior partner in the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and an AIPAC national board member, Steven C. Demby… Founder of Value Retail Plc and co-owner of the New York Islanders professional hockey team, Scott David Malkin turns 64… Founder of Walk Swiftly Productions, Bonnie Bernstein turns 52… Johannesburg-born model, actress and singer-songwriter living in NYC, Caron Bernstein turns 52… Editor-at-large of The Agenda, Michael Grunwald… Former lieutenant governor of Vermont, David E. Zuckerman turns 51…
Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Vladimir Beliak turns 49… Writer and editor Kami Troy… President of Profitero, Sarah Hofstetter… Co-founder of Johannesburg-based LLH Capital, Gil Oved turns 47… Political and public relations consultant based in Albuquerque, Jonathan Lipshutz… CBS producer, Matthew J. Silverstein… VP at BlackRock, Julian Olidort… Studio manager at Barre3 Bethesda and founder of Atom, LLC, Anna Dubinsky… Founder & CEO of Project Healthy Minds and VP and chief of staff to the Global CMO at BlackRock, Phillip Schermer… Development assistant project manager at AIPAC, Rachel Berman… J.D. candidate starting her third year at The George Washington University, Katherine Dolgenos… Member of AJR, an indie pop multi-instrumentalist trio, together with his two brothers, Jack Metzger turns 25… Submissions coordinator at Nishlis Legal Marketing, Galit Tassi Imbo… Associate director for congressional education at J Street, Cooper Boyar… Ellen Weissfeld… Marshall Cohen… Dave Jacobsen…