👋 Good Friday morning!
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent JI stories, including: Who knows the king?; Bahrain’s business booster in the U.S. is a Jewish woman from Manama; ‘Like the Gold Rush’: Aryeh Lightstone on what more the Abraham Accords could have been; In the battle for Lansing, will Tom Barrett unseat Rep. Elissa Slotkin?; From Ukraine to Afghanistan, Israeli nonprofit SmartAid aims to bring tech to crisis zones; The battle over Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center – a guide for the perplexed; and The social media exec pitching the metaverse to the world. Print the latest edition here.
Ed note: In an effort to bring you, the readers, closer to what our team is seeing and hearing, on occasion we’ll be handing over the pen to individual reporters to lead off the Daily Kickoff.
This is Marc Rod, Jewish Insider’s Capitol Hill reporter. Rep. Ted Deutch’s (D-FL) impending retirement from Congress next month is set to open up his spot as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism subcommittee — meaning Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats will soon need to choose someone from their ranks to replace him.
I’ve spent some time this week tracking down members of the subcommittee to figure out who is in the running, both to serve out the final months of the current congressional session and potentially hold the slot in the next Congress.
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) appears to be throwing his hat in the ring. Given the developments around the Iran deal negotiations and the Abraham Accords, Schneider told me it’s a “crucial moment” for the Middle East, where his “experience, lifelong engagement in this region” and work to pass bipartisan legislation related to it would be an asset to Congress. “I think I’m as qualified as anyone,” he said.
I caught up with Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) in an elevator just off the House floor yesterday, where he told me, “There’s a number of members of the committee who’ve asked me to consider it, and I am considering,” declining to elaborate further.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) is also interested, a source familiar with his thinking told me on Wednesday.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who previously made an unsuccessful bid to become chairman of the full Foreign Affairs Committee, told me he’s “considering” it as well.
Sherman added that it’s “far too early to even consider” who might be the subcommittee’s top Democrat next year, before control of the House is decided. He noted, however, that he has “very much enjoyed” and is “proud of” his current chairmanship of a Financial Services subcommittee. He’d have to give that seat up if he became the full-term Middle East chairman next year.
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), currently the subcommittee vice chair, ruled herself out for the remainder of this term and said she hasn’t given any thought to the next session yet, telling me she’s currently focused on securing reelection. She quipped that it feels like “everyone” else on the subcommittee is interested in the chairmanship. No responses yet from the rest of them.
Thank you, Marc! Follow @marcrod97 for future updates on this contest, and all things Capitol Hill.
on the hill
Democrats unite to block GOP measure seeking Iran deal draft
Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — including several who have been critical of the ongoing Iran nuclear talks and voted against the original 2015 agreement — voted unanimously on Thursday to block a Republican measure to compel the Biden administration to turn over the current draft deal to Congress, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Roll call: Committee Democrats include Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Jim Costa (D-CA) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), all of whom signed on to a recent letter expressing concerns about the talks, as well as Reps. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Ted Deutch (D-FL), who voted against the original deal. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) also opposed the original deal. All voted to block the resolution.
Shot down: Committee Chair Greg Meeks (D-NY) argued that the measure would have created a “harmful precedent” of forcing the administration to turn over to Congress pending negotiating documents; that it was a “partisan exercise that threatens the… long-standing strategic posture of not negotiating in public”; that it could violate executive privilege; that it was superfluous due to statutory requirements for congressional review of Iran nuclear agreements; and that committee members had access to information on the status of negotiations through classified briefings as recent as Wednesday of this week.
Counterargument: Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) responded, “I think we should have all documents. We have had classified briefings, and that’s good. But we need all the documents, and we need to know what exactly is happening, and the American people deserve no less.” McCaul added that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had “given assurances” to him that the administration will submit any deal for congressional review, a prospect some Republicans had questioned earlier this year.
Other agenda item: The committee also advanced by a voice vote the bipartisan Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act, which seeks to increase oversight of lesson plans created by the Palestinian Authority and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which have been repeatedly found to contain anti-Israel, antisemitic and pro-terrorist content.
Apartheid amendment: The committee revised the bill on Thursday, voting unanimously to add an amendment stating that claims that Israel is an apartheid state “should have no place” in Palestinian Authority curricula. The amendment’s sponsor, Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX), framed the amendment as, in part, a way to “put members on the record” about such accusations. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a committee member who has accused Israel of apartheid and was specifically called out by Pfluger, did not vote on the amendment.
Heather Johnston joins ‘Limited Liability Podcast’
Despite the strong relationship between the United States and Israel, not many members of Congress have actually visited the Jewish state. Heather Johnston, this week’s guest on Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” is working to change that. Johnston, the founder and executive director of the U.S. Israel Education Association (UIEA), an organization that educates members of Congress and helps them foster stronger ties between the two countries, has been bringing senior government officials on tours to Israel since 2011. Additionally, Johnston is the founder and director of JH Israel, a leadership nonprofit; in her work for that group, she teamed up with former Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman to establish the National Leadership Center in Ariel, which brings together students from across Israel to take part in a series of obstacle courses, and connect the lessons they’ve learned to their everyday lives.
The U.S. Israel Education Association in a nutshell: “Well, I founded this organization with the intent of being able to educate senior members of Congress and to serve them toward a strong U.S.-Israel collaboration, and to help them to discover their lanes of action and ways they can lead inside that collaboration. It’s a bipartisan organization, so we’re not lobbying, we’re not trying to move issues to the right or to the left, it’s really staying in the middle and bringing both Democrats and Republicans into the collaboration on things they can work on together. That’s part of our base. And then secondly, it’s a wide Jewish and Christian audience that care about this. So we have a broad base of Jews and Christians in the United States, primarily, but also in other parts of the world, and certainly in Israel.”
On UIEA’s West Bank trips: “When you can take a congressman or a senator to see it for themselves, to actually see industrial zones and businesses where Palestinians and Israelis are working together, you can interview for yourself… and interview the business leaders down there and find that 90% want to or are working with Israelis. Well, these are really important things to do inside of a tour like that. Well, this is a paradigm shift for a congressman, a U.S. official who’s never been introduced to anything like that. It has had an impact, so much so that legislation and the policy changed between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill in the way of supporting and coalescing around. And legislation was passed with bipartisan support to change the way U.S. investment is put into the West Bank. So part of that investment now is going to Jewish communities, not just Palestinian, to further joint business between Palestinians and Israelis.”
On how the Abraham Accords could shift the U.S. supply chain from China to the Middle East: “It was a natural-born thought to consider how might we now, with a new Middle East Abraham Accord, nations now joining a nexus with the United States and Israel, a staging ground if you will…is there a way to take some of our critical supply chains, pharmaceutical industry, and move out of China? Can Congress incentivize that toward our friendly nations? Toward Morocco, Bahrain, toward the UAE, who has an incredible amount of medical research clinical trial ability — Morocco being a staging ground in the Middle East for manufacturing — there’s a lot of potential for that. And so we have brought that education to the Hill for Congress and are doing the background writing and research on all of these nations to be able to further explain why this is so important that we consider this for the future.”
International antisemitism task force to question social media executives
The Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism — an international coalition of lawmakers formed in 2020 including lawmakers from the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Israel, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand — is set to hold its first in-person hearing Friday morning in Washington, featuring testimony from high-ranking officials from Meta, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Long time coming: “This has been a more than two-year effort since we launched the task force to assess and analyze the problem and the challenges that are presented in trying to stop the infectious spread of online antisemitism,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), one of the group’s co-chairs, told JI. “We know that there is a huge problem, we know that it leaps out of the virtual world into the real world.”
Northern exposure: Canadian Member of Parliament and Task Force Co-Chair Anthony Housefather argued that a multinational effort to counter online antisemitism is critical because of the inherently multinational nature of social media. “Whatever content is posted in the United States is seen in Canada, is seen in South Africa, is seen in the U.K., and vice versa,” Housefather told JI. “If you solve something in one country, you’re really not solving the problem because it doesn’t mean it’s cutting it off somewhere else.” The social media executives, Housefather noted, will be testifying before the task force voluntarily.
Cross-border challenge: One potential obstacle to the cross-border initiatives the task force’s members envision is the differing regulatory regimes and speech protections afforded by the various governments whose lawmakers are involved in the body. Housefather said the U.S.’s First Amendment protections likely make it the most challenging environment for cracking down on online antisemitism. But, he said, there are still possibilities, including urging platforms to make stricter content moderation policies and pursuing greater transparency for the algorithms the companies use to recommend content. “We’ll look at it from the perspective of where the rules give you the most difficulty implementing [a crackdown on antisemitism] and drive it from that direction,” he said. “There’s ways within the framework of laws that we all have that we can push some duty of care on the platform.”
🙏 Man of Faith:Politico’s Holly Otterbein profiles Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, who has made his Judaism a key part of his campaign against Republican Doug Mastriano. “Being Jewish is ‘who I am,’ Shapiro says. ‘You have to be genuine.’ He has been to Israel more than a dozen times. He keeps kosher and has Shabbat dinner at home every Friday — something he says he refuses to let his campaign get in the way of. ‘We guard Friday nights.’ But Shapiro’s faith — and, now, Gab — are also a part of his stump speech for a reason. Putting a spotlight on Mastriano’s antisemitic connections is a way for Shapiro to make the case he’s too radical. And talking about his own relationship with God is something that helps Shapiro reach out to people, whether they’re influential Black pastors in Philadelphia or rank-and-file Republican voters in western Pennsylvania.” [Politico]
🤗 The Pursuit of Happiness: The Atlantic’s Arthur Brooks considers the lessons encouraged by Roman philosopher Seneca essay about how to live a happy life. “[Seneca’s ideas] contravene many of our natural impulses: to behave egotistically, to compare ourselves with others, to acquire as much as possible, to stay alive at any cost. Seneca understood this tension full well and, alongside his rules, helpfully offered a secret formula for getting the benefits of these goals even if embodying them perfectly is impossible: try. ‘It is the act of a generous spirit to proportion its efforts not to its own strength but to that of human nature,’ he wrote, ‘to entertain lofty aims, and to conceive plans which are too vast to be carried into execution even by those who are endowed with gigantic intellects.’ These goals are not an exercise in futility but rather in effort and progress. The only way to achieve true peace of mind is by trying a little each day.” [TheAtlantic]
🖥️ Concerning Command Center: In Foreign Policy, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Jonathan Schanzer looks at how a joint Iran-Hezbollah communications center in Lebanon stands to benefit and assist Hamas in Gaza. “Based on available information, the primary purpose of the nerve center appears to be intelligence-sharing. Specifically, the nerve center provides Hamas with aerial intelligence derived by Hezbollah and the IRGC, perhaps through reconnaissance drones dispatched from Lebanon and Syria. Several have been targeted by Israeli air defenses in recent years, according to news reports. One focus of this reconnaissance effort appears to be mapping the movement of Israeli forces. This may have helped Hamas avoid an Israel Defense Forces ambush on the group’s tunnel network in the 2021 war. Reports also suggest that the nerve center provided Hamas with better capabilities to conduct ‘sensitive hacking operations’ against Israel.” [FP]
Around the Web
🎂 Anniversary Action: Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a resolution commemorating the signing of the Abraham Accords.
📘 Plot Hole: Susan Glasser and Peter Baker’s new book about former President Donald Trump’s White House tenure reveals that he was concerned that Iran would attempt to assassinate him to exact revenge over the U.S.’s targeted killing of IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
🚢 Vessel Veto: Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) discouraged significant U.S. investment into the continued development of unmanned surface vessels, citing the recent capture by the Iranian navy of two such U.S. vessels.
✈️ Clear Skies: Lufthansa announced that it is adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism and will partner with the American Jewish Committee to train the airline’s employees on how to handle antisemitism in the workplace.
📺 Pennsylvania Politics: The Republican Jewish Coalition announced a $750,000 ad buy in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, where Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) is again facing off against Republican Lisa Scheller, exceeding the $500,000 it spent during the 2020 race in the district.
🙅♂️ Grand Denial: The Republican nominee for secretary of state in Arizona denied that comments alleging that Democrats are loyal to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and George Soros were antisemitic.
⚖️ Soft Sentence: Robert Keith Packer, who was recorded wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, was sentenced to 75 days in prison and ordered to pay $500 in restitution.
💸 Making it Count: Blackstone COO Jon Gray and his wife, Mindy, donated $55 million to the University of Pennsylvania, their shared alma mater, to create an institute focused on breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers.
✍️ In Memoriam: Journalist Cathy Scott reflects on her friendship with her colleague Jeff German, who was killed earlier this month by an individual whom he had reported on.
🎞️ History on Film: The New York Times reviews Julia Mintz’s new documentary “Four Winters,” which draws on interviews with Jewish Resistance members who fought Nazis in the forests of Europe.
💰 Making Restitution: Germany will pay €1.3 billion for home care for elderly Holocaust survivors and will put nearly €100 million into Holocaust education, as part of a final agreement with Jewish groups over compensation over Berlin’s actions during WWII.
🗳️ Party Problems: Israel’s Balad party, one of several Arab parties comprising the Joint List, split from the larger group, potentially altering the dynamics of the race ahead of the Nov. 1 elections.
💥 Attack: A yeshiva student in Carmel in the West Bank was moderately injured when he was struck by gunfire while studying. The assailant has not yet been found.
🤳 On the Gram: The Israeli, Emirati and Bahraini ambassadors to the United States filmed a video celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords.
⏸️ Not Yet: Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the Gulf nation would not normalize relations with Israel until the Jewish state makes progress on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
✡️ Never Forget: UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where he laid a wreath at the museum’s Hall of Remembrance.
🏦 Banking Brou-ha-ha: The U.S. and E.U. are planning to put pressure on Turkish banks that facilitate Russian finance operations, as part of a crackdown on Russia’s attempts to evade sanctions.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Eliav Benjamin hosted his counterparts from the Emirati, Bahraini and Moroccan embassies at the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Thursday evening to celebrate the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords. The event also recognized members of a delegation from Accords countries to the U.S. organized by Israeli NGO Israel-is.
Israeli actress who plays the lead role in the spy thriller “Tehran,” Niv Sultan turns 30…
FRIDAY: Argentinian physician and author, Esther Vilar turns 87… NYC-based real estate investor and the founder of Cammeby’s International Group, Rubin “Rubie” Schron turns 84… Defense policy advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43, Richard Perle turns 81… Montebello, Calif., resident, Jon Olesen… Pompano Beach, Fla., resident, Shari Goldberg… Sheriff of Nantucket County, Mass., James A. Perelman turns 72… Founder and CEO of OurCrowd, Jonathan Medved turns 67… Fern Wallach… Award-winning illusionist, David Copperfield turns 66… Anthropology professor at Cornell, Jonathan Boyarin turns 66… Former VP of political affairs for J Street, Dan Kohl turns 57… Rosh yeshiva at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, Rabbi Dov Linzer turns 56… Writer at large for The New York Times Magazine, Jason Zengerle… Israel’s first Olympic Gold medalist, he won Bronze in Atlanta 1996; Gold in Athens 2004, windsurfer Gal Fridman turns 47… Jerusalem-born founder and chairman of “Over The Rainbow – the Zionist Movement,” Tzvi “Tziki” Avisar turns 44… VP of public affairs marketing at Meta / Facebook, Josh Ginsberg… President of basketball operations for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Koby Altman turns 40… VP of business development at RubiconMD, Suzy Goldenkranz… NYC-based wealth reporter at The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Louise Ensign… Winner of an Olympic bronze medal for Israel in Taekwondo at the 2020 Games, Avishag Semberg turns 21… Deputy national field director at the Israel on Campus Coalition, Lauren Morgan Suriel…
SATURDAY: Founder and marketer of the Oreck Corporation, manufacturers of vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, David Irving Oreck turns 99… U.S. senator (R-IA) since 1981, Chuck Grassley turns 89… Investment banker who once served as a NYC deputy mayor, Peter J. Solomon turns 84… Newberry Honors-winning author of young adult books, Gail Carson Levine turns 75… Rochester attorney and Jewish federation leader, Frank Hagelberg… Professional tennis player who achieved a world ranking of No. 5 in 1980, Harold Solomon turns 70… Comedian, writer and actress, Rita Rudner turns 69… Israeli businessman Mody Kidon turns 68… Author and graphic designer, Ellen Kahan Zager… Former member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Rina Frenkel turns 66… Rabbi of the New North London Synagogue, Jonathan Wittenberg turns 65… Consultant at Quick Hits News, Elliott S. Feigenbaum… Washington columnist for The Guardian, Richard Wolffe turns 54… Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services until earlier this year, Mandy Krauthamer Cohen turns 44… Partner at Seven Letter, Adam Abrams… Elected official on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education, Nick Melvoin… Former Obama White House speechwriter who has since written a bestselling comedic memoir, David Litt… Associate at General Atlantic’s Israel office and founder of the Israel Summit at Harvard, Max August…
SUNDAY: Marina Del Rey, Calif., resident, Kathy Levinson Wolf… Retired neurosurgeon, he served as U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson turns 71… Business executive who served as co-CEO of SAP and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Léo Apotheker turns 69… Harvard professor of psychology, specializing in visual cognition and psycholinguistics, Steven Pinker turns 68… U.S. senator (R-AL), Tommy Tuberville turns 68… Former CEO of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Howard Tevlowitz… Executive director of the Los Angeles Westside Jewish Community Center, Brian Greene… Professor of economics at MIT and a 2021 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Joshua Angrist turns 62… Early Israeli tech entrepreneur, he is best known for starting Aladdin Knowledge Systems in 1985, Yanki Margalit turns 60… Classical pianist, Simone Dinnerstein turns 50… NBC News legal analyst and recent candidate for Manhattan district attorney, Tali Farhadian Weinstein turns 47… Rome bureau chief of The New York Times, Jason Horowitz… Co-host of Bloomberg Surveillance each morning on Bloomberg Television and Bloomberg Radio, Lisa Abramowicz… CNN analyst, former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Bakari Sellers turns 38… Professional poker player Nick Schulman turns 38… Former managing director of public affairs at the American Jewish Committee, Avi Mayer… Baseball and basketball broadcaster, Dan Kolko… Director at the Levinson Group, Zak Sawyer…