👋 Good Monday morning!
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid landed in Berlin last night for a two-day trip, during which he is scheduled to meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Discussions will focus on tackling Iran, as the Islamic republic draws closer than ever to becoming a nuclear state.
Accompanying Lapid to Berlin was a group of five Holocaust survivors. Welcomed at the airport by a German military honor guard, Lapid — himself the son of Holocaust survivors — said this was what “victory looks like,” as he walked the red carpet with survivor Shoshana Trister. Lapid’s visit and his decision to bring with him survivors of Nazi atrocities during World War II comes less than a month after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sparked outrage accusing Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians during a joint news conference with Scholz, also in Berlin.
“I am the son of Tommy Lapid, a Holocaust survivor from the Budapest Ghetto,” Lapid said in remarks on Monday after his meeting with Scholz. “I am the grandson of Bela Lampel, who was murdered at the Mauthausen concentration camp. And now I stand here on German soil as prime minister of the Jewish State.” Lapid noted that later today he and Scholz, whose “moral courage and…willingness to be a part of this” Lapid applauded, will travel to the site of the Wannsee Conference.
As the summer wraps up — but before “acharei hachagim,” when projects, events and gatherings slow down during the High Holidays — people are returning from summer to a number of events. The Jerusalem Post conference takes place today in New York City, with speakers including Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz; U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides; Mira Resnick, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security; and Bahraini Ambassador to the U.S. Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashid Al Khalifa. In Washington, former White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is keynoting an event hosted by the American First Policy Institute and the Abraham Accords Peace Institute to mark the second anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is also scheduled to speak at the event.
On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will receive a classified briefing on Iran nuclear negotiations. Later in the day, the committee will deliberate legislation seeking the full text of the draft Iran agreement and a bill increasing oversight of Palestinian curricula.
Also on Wednesday, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan will travel to Israel to meet with Lapid and others, an Israeli official confirmed to JI.
In Rhode Island House race, primary frontrunners set their sights on November
In the entire New England congressional delegation — the members of Congress spanning Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine — there is a single Republican: Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Rhode Island Republicans are hoping that could change this fall in a political environment expected to be unfavorable to Democrats, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. Ground zero, according to political analysts, is Rhode Island’s 2nd District, an open seat that Democrats are looking to hold onto after Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) announced his decision not to seek a 12th term. Voters in the district, which includes parts of Providence and the entire western half of the state, go to the polls Tuesday on the last primary election date of the year.
No contest: The race’s frontrunner, Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, has already turned his attention to the general election by focusing on his sole Republican competitor, former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. August polling showed Magaziner, the son of top Bill Clinton advisor Ira Magaziner, leading his five Democratic opponents by a wide margin, with 37% of likely voters backing him. His closest competitors, who each garnered 8% in the poll, are progressive Rhode Island state Rep. David Segal and former Obama administration official Sarah Morgenthau, the granddaughter of FDR-era Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. Magaziner has Langevin’s endorsement.
‘Unusually sleepy’: “The race has been unusually sleepy,” said Adam Myers, associate professor of political science at Providence College. Elsewhere in Rhode Island, candidates are battling in several competitive Democratic primaries — in statewide races and in legislative districts, where moderate and progressive Democratic factions are battling for control of the state legislature. “Everybody earlier in the year thought that the [2nd District] race would be a major part of that, or at least the Democratic primary would be,” Myers added. “That just has not turned out to be the case because it appears as though the party rank-and-file has largely unified around Magaziner.”
Close call: Residents of the 2nd District voted for President Joe Biden by 12 points in 2020, but Republicans view it as a possible pickup opportunity. The National Republican Congressional Committee includes it among the 75 districts it will be targeting this fall. A poll conducted in June by Suffolk and The Boston Globe showed Fung leading Magaziner 44.9% to 38.5% in a head-to-head matchup.
Rhode Island Republican: Fung “has support among independents,” said David Paleologos, who has conducted polling in the district as director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “That tells me that Fung is not just a MAGA Trump candidate or even a strictly Republican candidate. He’s reached across — he’s identified positively by independents in that congressional district, more so than Magaziner is.”
eye on iran
Iran hit with new U.S. sanctions amid floundering nuclear talks
European diplomats expressed “serious doubts” over the weekend that Iran is willing to commit to a new nuclear agreement, the latest blow to the nuclear negotiations after what seemed to be a breakthrough earlier this summer. Following the joint statement by the U.K., Germany and France, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called for a “new agreement.” Iranian state media, meanwhile, teased a new long-range drone that an Iranian military official threatened could hit major Israeli population centers.
Berlin meeting: Lapid, who is in Berlin today, was expected to broach the issue of nuclear talks with top German officials on Monday. A senior Israeli official told Jewish Insider that the goal of the prime minister’s trip is to strengthen his relationship with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and use the momentum to “move the conversation [on Iran] forward,” adding, “The gaps that exist now mean a return to the JCPOA is unlikely and the longer it takes the further we will move away from this deal.” At a press conference with Scholz on Monday, Lapid suggested that the negotiating powers consider new strategies for approaching Iran. “There is another way.” Lapid said. “A better way forward for the Middle East. It is the path of the Abraham Accords and the Negev Forum. A path based on a shared vision for the region. A vision not of war, extremism and terrorism but of peace, tolerance and cooperation.” A senior official said yesterday that Israel does not believe a deal will be reached before the U.S. midterm elections in November, echoing comments made to JI last week by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) days after returning from a trip to Israel.
What we’re reading: Ambassador Dennis Ross suggests in Foreign Policy that a new Iran deal would delay, but not prevent, the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “Although those making this case are willing to live with an Iranian nuclear bomb capability, they fail to see how others in the region are going to respond even as they draw false lessons from the Cold War about the prospect of stability in a nuclear-armed Middle East,” Ross writes. “For example, Israel — which believes a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to the Jewish state — will become far more likely to launch major military strikes against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure if it sees the United States and others are ready to live with an Iran with nukes. Similarly, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has declared that if Iran has a nuclear weapons capability, the kingdom will get one as well. Will Egypt and Turkey be far behind?”
Balkan breach: Two months after Albania was first targeted by an Iranian cyberattack believed to be linked to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Tirana said over the weekend that it was hit by a second attack, this time against one of the country’s border systems. The first attack caused Albania to sever diplomatic ties with Tehran and expel Iranian embassy staff, while the U.S. on Friday announced sanctions against Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and its leader, Esmail Khatib.
In Washington: More than 50 House members, including a handful of Democrats, urged President Joe Biden not to provide entry visas to the Iranian delegation for the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.
Coming up: The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, begins a weeklong meeting of its board of directors today in Vienna.
Aryeh Lightstone on what more the Abraham Accords could have been
Aryeh Lightstone, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s closest aide, said that the Abraham Accords have “succeeded beyond the imagination of most of the leadership involved” since they were signed two years ago on the White House lawn, he told The Circuit‘s Jonathan H. Ferziger in a recent interview. On the other hand, Lightstone said, he believes an additional five to 10 countries would have normalized relations with Israel had former President Donald Trump won a second term. Lightstone, an ordained rabbi, now hunts for potential Israeli investments as a consultant to Affinity Partners, the Saudi-backed private equity firm started by Jared Kushner.
New normal: “When [UAE’s] Mubadala invests [$1 billion] in natural gas coming from Israel, it‘s astonishing,” Lightstone, who also served as special envoy for economic normalization in the Middle East, said. “If you were to just say that sentence five years ago, nobody would have believed a single component of that.”
Biggest regret: “The one thing that upsets me greatly was the canceling of the Abraham Fund,” said Lightstone. “If the United States of America could bring all of these entities together and say, we’re going to do this with Israeli technology and Gulf Cooperation Council support, political and otherwise, we could accelerate that. When you’re dealing with a country like Sudan or with parts of Egypt and elsewhere, and these projects take too long, that gives an opportunity for another coup, for another leadership issue. There’s not a lot of patience. The money that the United States stipulated for this was not charity. It was a loan. We were going to make our money back. We were going to be a convenient platform. That’s all we needed to do.”
Rapid fire: Lightstone recently wrote a book about his diplomatic experiences titled Let My People Know: The Incredible Story of Middle East Peace – and What Lies Ahead, published by Encounter Books. “Every waking moment of that job was a thrill of a lifetime,” he told The Circuit. “It was like shooting fish in a barrel.”
Read the full interview here and sign up for The Weekly Circuit newsletter here.
🎫 Ticket to Paradise: In the Wall Street Journal, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik reflects on both the anniversary of the first Zionist conference and his own recent trip to Israel. “Once I returned to New York, I cleaned out my pockets and found the train ticket from my trip. I was struck by the words stamped on it in Hebrew: rakevet yisrael, the train of Israel. Herzl had assumed that Hebrew, which had survived in Jewish learning and liturgy only, could never be resurrected as a spoken language. ‘Who amongst us has a sufficient acquaintance with Hebrew to ask for a railway ticket in that language?” he wrote in his landmark pamphlet. “Such a thing cannot be done.’ That tiny ticket embodied the exceeding of Herzl’s already grand expectations.” [WSJ]
🗳️ Road to DC: New York magazine’s Nia Prater interviews Dan Goldman following his Democratic primary victory in New York’s 10th Congressional District, during which he was met with criticism for self-funding his campaign. “‘So, I had a choice to make, which was, I could speak to donors or I could speak to voters,’ he says. ‘I wanted to get my message out, and I wanted to speak to voters directly, and I wanted to make sure that the voters in this district knew personally from me and over the media exactly what my message was so that they were fully informed when they voted… There are plenty of candidates for office who have self-funded, put a lot more money in than I did, and lost, and you need only look at the 2021 mayoral race to see some of those,’ Goldman says. ‘So the notion that anybody can just buy a seat is a little misguided. But it was an advantage I had that I felt was going to offset some of the advantages that my opponents had.’” [NYMag]
Around the Web
❌ Failing Grade: A New York Times investigation found that students from Hasidic yeshivas across New York performed among the worst schools in the state, while the schools themselves have received more than $1 billion in government funding over the last number of years. The article has sparked a strong response from the Haredi community.
🏳️🌈 Campus to Courtroom: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a stay in a New York Supreme Court decision that had forced Yeshiva University to recognize a student-led LGBTQ group on campus.
🍸 Tasting Menu: Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is opening a cocktail and tapas bar in Providence, R.I.
🇲🇦 Rabat-bound: The Senate confirmed Puneet Talwar, who served as a Middle East advisor during the Obama administration and was a key behind-the-scenes player in the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, to be ambassador to Morocco.
🎁 Mysterious Gift Horse: A preschool at a Chabad center on New York City’s Upper East Side has been receiving a constant stream of expensive toys from an unknown sender via Amazon.
📓 Tragic End: The New York Times remembers Las Vegas-area journalist Jeff German, who was Jewish, for his “shoe leather reporting” and his fateful exposé on a local public administrator who has been charged with stabbing him to death.
💵 Pointing North: Billionaire investor Joshua Harris launched a $5 billion asset management firm called 26North, which will focus on private equity, credit and insurance.
📺 Changing Tack: Activist investor Dan Loeb appeared to walk back his call for Disney to spin off ESPN, saying he now has a “better understanding of ESPN’s potential as a standalone business.”
🛢️ Energy Exec: The Wall Street Journal explores how Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum and the first woman to hold the role in a major U.S. oil company, led the company out of debt and survived a shareholder revolt led by Carl Icahn.
📽️ A Spielberg Story: Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film “The Fabelmans” drew glowing reviews at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
🦸♀️✡️ Sabra Superhero: Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Israeli superhero Sabra in the next “Captain America” film.
👻 Meet Cute:The New York Times spotlights the wedding of Carly Stein and Dos Toros Taqueria co-founder Oliver Kremer, who met on a dating app.
🛡️ Serve and Protect: In his first public speech since June, Mossad chief David Barnea said that the intelligence agency had thwarted dozens of attacks on Jews and Israelis worldwide.
🛫 Clearing the Air: Israeli air carrier El Al will repay the Israeli government a $45 million loan taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, by the end of the year, according to an agreement it reached with the Finance Ministry.
🌊 Shoring Up: A long-awaited maritime deal between Lebanon and Israel is 95% complete, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib said Saturday, but a senior Israeli official noted that there was still “a lot more work” to be done.
🕯️ Remembering: Marc Lewitinn, believed to be the longest-surviving intubated COVID patient, died at 76 after 850 days on a ventilator. Sheila Tobias, who authored a book on “math anxiety” and lectured on feminist issues, died at 86. Physicist Kurt Gottfried, who fled Nazi Europe as a child and went on to found the Union of Concerned Scientists, died at 93. Al Horne, an editor on the Washington Post’s foreign desk, died at 89.
Pic of the Day
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides speaks in Jerusalem on Sunday at an event marking the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Venture capitalist and one of the co-founders of Palantir Technologies, Joe Lonsdale turns 40…
2020 Nobel laureate in medicine, Harvey J. Alter turns 87… Chairman at Waxman Strategies, he served for 20 terms as a Democratic Congressman representing Los Angeles, Henry Waxman turns 83… 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, University of Chicago behavioral economist, Richard H. Thaler turns 77… Director of intergovernmental affairs in the Obama White House, he was previously lieutenant governor of Kentucky and mayor of Louisville, Jerry Abramson turns 76… President of Israel21c and a former president of AIPAC, Amy Rothschild Friedkin… Former U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, also former governor of Kansas and U.S. senator, Sam Brownback turns 66… Miami-based chairman of American Principles Super PAC, Eytan Laor… SVP of government and public affairs at CVS Health, Melissa Schulman… Internet entrepreneur and a pioneer of VoIP telephony, Jeff Pulver turns 60… Attorney specializing in the recovery of looted artworks during the Holocaust and featured in the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” E. Randol “Randy” Schoenberg turns 56… Paralegal at The St. Joe Company, Sherri Jankowski… Senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Max A. Boot turns 53… Deputy chief advocacy officer at the Credit Union National Association, Jason Stverak… Israeli singer, songwriter and musician, Idan Raichel turns 45… Founder of the Loewy Law Firm in Austin, Texas, Adam Loewy… AIPAC’s area director for Philadelphia and South Jersey, Kelly Lauren Stein… Former advisor to the prime minister of Israel for foreign affairs and world communities, Sara Greenberg… Senior aviation reporter at The Points Guy, Ethan Klapper… National political correspondent at Politico, Ben Schreckinger… Senior product manager at Amazon, Natalie Raps Farren…