👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Days after U.S. officials chastised Iran for issuing a “not constructive” response to Washington’s position on the nuclear negotiations, John Kirby, the National Security Council’s director for strategic communications, told reporters on Tuesday that “there’s still quite a bit of work for our diplomats,” and that “we’re just not there yet” on a completed deal with Iran.
“There’s still gaps,” Kirby said. “That doesn’t mean that we are less committed to it. It doesn’t mean that we don’t still want to see if we can get there.”
But when a reporter asked if the U.S., Europe and Iran are on the cusp of a deal, Kirby firmly said no. “If what you meant by ‘one minute to midnight’ is that we’re at the precipice of something imminently, I would walk you away from that,” he said.
Speaking at the Nevatim air base near Beersheva yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warned that the country “is prepared for every threat and every scenario.” Lapid, standing in front of an F-35 fighter jet, noted his conversation with President Joe Biden last week, in which the president indicated that he would not stop Israel from acting militarily against Iran.
Meanwhile, the families of four Europeans being held in Iran raised concerns over the status of their loved ones, whom the families say feel “forgotten” by European negotiators, in a letter to the E.U.’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
A State Department spokesperson called yesterday for Israel to “closely review its policies and practices on rules of engagement” in the wake of an Israel Defense Forces report that determined that Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was likely killed unintentionally by IDF gunfire.
The U.S. plans to press Israel “to take additional steps to mitigate risk, to protect journalists, to protect civilian harm, and to ensure that similar tragedies don’t happen in the future,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a press briefing.
sunshine state race
Annette Taddeo’s leap of faith
Florida state Sen. Annette Taddeo, mounting her third bid for Congress, is convinced that she is uniquely capable of defeating her Republican rival, freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), in Florida’s newly drawn 27th District, which covers a sizable portion of Miami-Dade County. Even as the updated House map gives Republicans an edge in November, Taddeo argues that her personal story and no-nonsense demeanor — not to mention a recent track record of performing well in red-leaning territory — will help fuel an upset. “I’m known for being very straightforward, no BS and trustworthy,” Taddeo told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel, emphasizing that she has never hesitated to buck party lines while in office.
Keeping the faith: Taddeo, who was raised Catholic, began to question her faith at age 12. “There were a lot of contradictions between one part of the Bible and another part of the Bible,” she recalled. “My dad said to me, ‘Well, go see the priest and ask him those questions.’” His suggestion, however, proved less productive than Taddeo had hoped. “The priest says, ‘Oh, honey, you’re not supposed to read the Bible. That’s for us to read and for us to tell you what it means.’” Her father’s response, by contrast, was far more encouraging. “He just said, ‘You keep reading whatever you want to read and you keep asking questions of whatever you want to ask,’” Taddeo explained. So began a yearslong process of religious discovery that would culminate in Taddeo’s conversion to Judaism about a decade later. “It was all women in the class, but I was the only woman without a fiancé,” Taddeo recalled, chuckling proudly at the memory. “The more I learned, the more I realized that this is who I was, this is where I felt at home and this is what I truly believed.”
Middle East views: Taddeo said she does “not profess to be an expert” on Middle East affairs “by any means,” but nevertheless hopes to serve as a bulwark against some Democrats in the House who have grown more critical of Israel in recent years. “I do see, as part of my responsibility, not allowing our party to go too far, like the Republican Party has gone on so many issues that are completely unacceptable,” she told JI. “I do believe that part of my role there is going to be making sure that we have that voice and have someone that understands the needs of our community and the desire for our community to support Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself against.” The Jewish Democratic Council of America seems to appreciate Taddeo’s approach. Its political arm will announce on Wednesday that it is endorsing her House campaign, the group confirmed to JI. “Annette is known as a fighter,” said Ron Klein, a former Florida congressman who chairs the JDCA. “She’s a Jewish Latina woman who, I think, can follow in [former Rep.] Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s footsteps.”
Abu Dhabi business leaders look to cement ties with Tel Aviv foray
Emirati bankers, oil traders and tech entrepreneurs came to downtown Tel Aviv on Tuesday, signing a series of agreements and predicting that business connections would continue to strengthen as open Israeli-Emirati relations enter their third year, The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger reports. The Emiratis were welcomed at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by Israeli business leaders eager to develop new partnerships in the United Arab Emirates and use the tiny Gulf state as a springboard to markets across the Middle East and Asia.
Trip priorities: The two-day trip was a chance for “high-profile networking,” said Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Global Market, which organized the forum with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. He expressed a desire to “foster stronger ties between the two nations” and said the corporate leaders with whom he was traveling saw “abundant business opportunities.”
Getting inked: While in Tel Aviv, representatives from three of the Emirati organizations signed a series of memorandums of understanding with Israeli partners. Those included a cooperation agreement between ADGM and Israel’s Start-Up Nation Central, to work together in supporting the growth of new companies in both countries; an agreement to increase cybersecurity literacy signed by the ADGM Academy and Israel’s Avnon Group Middle East; and an agreement on strengthening data privacy, signed by regulatory offices from both countries.
N.Y. Democrat seeks state investigation of Morningstar
A New York state lawmaker is urging the state’s attorney general to probe potential anti-Israel bias in investment firm Morningstar’s environment, social and governance (ESG) ratings system, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal, a Democrat who represents the heavily Jewish Queens neighborhoods of Kew Gardens Hills, Kew Gardens and parts of Forest Hills, sent a letter on Aug. 31 to Attorney General Letitia James, the latest effort to urge state officials to probe the investment firm, which is facing accusations that its subsidiary, Sustainalytics, is biased against Israel. The letter cites New York’s anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy, established by a 2016 executive order.
Report card: Morningstar has repeatedly denied that it supports the BDS movement, and has agreed to implement reforms proposed in an outside review commissioned by the firm. Rosenthal wrote that he “remain[s] skeptical” of the conclusions of the outside report, which identified “latent, disproportionate focus on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which results in biased outcomes” within “one siloed product,” but denied “pervasive [or] systemic bias against Israel in Sustainalytics’ products or services.” He points to a Foundation for Defense of Democracies report that alleged “pervasive and systemic” anti-Israel bias.
Pro-ESG: Some of the recent state-level criticism of and action against Morningstar has been driven by Republican officials who are broadly critical of ESG investment practices in general. Rosenthal, by contrast, emphasized that he seeks to support ESG investing. “Beyond the paramount goal of ensuring financial services firms operating in New York remain free from the influence of the anti-Semitic BDS movement, the ESG component of this investigation is critical,” he wrote. “New York State cannot allow the BDS movement to damage the credibility of Israeli-based companies anymore than we can afford to delay private investment in socially conscious companies building a better world.”
📰 Media Mogul: The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison looks at how Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner rose to the top position at the media group, which owns Politico, and how he’s hoping to reshape the American media landscape. “Last year, Döpfner ordered the Israeli flag be flown in solidarity at company headquarters for a week after several antisemitic outbursts at demonstrations in Germany that followed a deadly eruption of violence in Gaza. Some employees bristled, seeing it as taking sides in the fraught Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Döpfner responded sharply in a staff video call: ‘I’m being very frank with you: A person who has an issue with an Israeli flag being raised for one week here, after antisemitic demonstrations, should look for a new job.’ Conservative pundits swooned in admiration of what they saw as a rebuke of liberal pieties. ‘All it takes to stop the madness is an adult willing to say: no,’ tweeted former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss. But Döpfner put it in simpler terms when asked about it later by Politico staffers: After the Holocaust, how could a German company stand for anything less than the right of Israel to exist?” [WashPost]
🍷 Amazing Grapes: The New York Times’ Isabel Kershner visits wineries dotting Israel’s Negev desert, as local vintners test new ideas amid a boon in desert wine-making. “The ancients of the area grew vines on terraced hillsides and may have produced up to one million liters of wine per year, according to Lior Schwimer, an Israeli archaeologist. The remnants of the distinctive jars used to store the wine have been found as far afield as France and Britain. Israeli researchers have identified at least two varieties of ancient seeds and are now trying to recreate the Byzantine white and red. ‘There are not many places in the world,’ Mr. Shilo said, ‘that can boast 1,500 years of winemaking tradition.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🗳️ Drawing a Line: New York state Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou announced that she will not run on the Working Families Party line in New York’s 10th Congressional District, clearing the way for Trump impeachment attorney Dan Goldman in the blue district in November.
🍦 Cold Case: Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s will bring a renewed complaint in New York against parent company Unilever in another attempt to stop the sale of its Israel-based ice cream operations to the local manufacturer.
🇩🇪 Somber Trip: Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Germany this week, where he commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympics attacks, which killed 11 Israeli athletes, and spoke to parliament about the “obligation” of both countries to remember the Holocaust.
🧹 Dirty Deed: The housekeeper of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to spy on the defense minister on behalf of Iranian Black Shadow hackers.
🙏 Family’s Plea: The family of Baquer Namazi, an American citizen who has been held along with his son in Iran for the past six years, is pleading for Namazi’s release so he can receive surgery the relatives say he desperately needs.
🚫 Booted: Israeli envoy to Morocco, David Govrin, was recalled from his posting amid investigations of alleged misconduct.
⛽️ Maritime Mess: Lebanese President Michel Aoun suggested that France’s TotalEnergies, an oil and gas company, may be the key to settling Lebanese-Israeli maritime demarcation issues.
🇺🇳 Transition: President Joe Biden nominated Andrew Weinstein to be a U.S. delegate to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan was the guest speaker at a Chabad of Martha’s Vineyard event last Wednesday, part of a conversation series hosted by Rabbi Tzvi Alperowitz, who arrived on the island in June.
Former Bahraini ambassador to the U.S. (2008-2013) after four years in the Bahraini Parliament (2005-2008), both firsts for a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo turns 58…
Palm Beach, Fla., resident and philanthropist, the school at the Westchester (N.Y.) Jewish Center bears her name, Beverly Cannold turns 97… Considered one of the “Founding Mothers” of NPR, now a special correspondent on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Susan Stamberg turns 84… Member of the U.K.’s House of Lords, active in Jewish and other charities, Baron Andrew Zelig Stone turns 80… Longtime political columnist for Time Magazine and author of the novel Primary Colors, Joe Klein turns 76… Color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts, Suzyn Waldman turns 76… Owner and CEO of Gristedes Foods, John Catsimatidis turns 74… Pulitzer Prize-winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, now director of literary journalism at UC-Irvine, Barry E. Siegel turns 73… Minneapolis area school counselor and language arts teacher, Sandra Sevig… Chairman of the mathematics department at UCSD, Efim Zelmanov turns 67… Chief rabbi of the U.K., Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis turns 66… Global co-chair of the Israel practice in the Washington, D.C., office of Latham & Watkins, Stuart Kurlander…
Personal finance journalist and CEO of the multimedia company HerMoney, Jean Sherman Chatzky turns 58… Vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University and the founding director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership, Dr. Erica Brown turns 56… Award-winning special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of six best-selling books, Gregory Zuckerman turns 56… Part-owner of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and MLB’s Cleveland Guardians, David S. Blitzer turns 53… Tax partner with RSM US LLP, where he serves as the national family office tax leader, Benjamin Berger… Screenwriter, producer and director of many successful films and TV shows, Alex Kurtzman turns 49… Author of three New York Times best sellers and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon turns 49… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Shomrei Emunah, Rabbi Binyamin Y. Marwick… Legislative director for Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), Eric B. Kanter… Former national political editor at the Washington Post, Maralee Schwartz…