👋 Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the Arizona governor’s race, where far-right GOP candidate Kari Lake is drawing national attention, and Amb. Deborah Lipstadt’s comments on antisemitism in Europe and beyond. Also in today’s newsletter: Kim Kardashian, Rishi Sunak and Dan Loeb.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog touched down in Washington, D.C. earlier this morning for a two-day visit. Herzog is set to meet today with leaders of U.S. Jewish organizations, Secretary of State Tony Blinken and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Tomorrow, Herzog will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House. Biden “is looking forward to having a discussion with President Herzog about a more integrated, cooperative Middle East, and of course how Israel plays into that vision with Israel’s neighbors,” John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on Monday. “This is one of the most consequential bilateral relationships we have in the world, certainly in that part of the world.”
In Saudi Arabia, the three-day “Davos in the Desert” conference kicks off today. Stay tuned for updates from The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger, who is covering the conference in Riyadh.
Oy, Ye. What began as a response to Kanye West’s repeated antisemitic comments has morphed into an online show of support for the Jewish community, with government officials and celebrities posting across social media on Monday.
The efforts reached the White House, where Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the president’s views on the uptick in antisemitism. “Let’s not forget the president ran on — on healing — on healing the soul of our nation — right? After years of, just years of division, years of hatred,” Jean-Pierre said. “And so, he’s very, very — been very clear on that and how important it is to make sure that he does that in this administration. So, when racism or antisemitism rears its ugly head, he is going to call that out. And he has called it out. We should not allow that conversation to be existing –— not just in the political discourse but in our –— in our everyday lives. And so, that is something that we’re going to continue to –— to call out, that the president is going to call out. It is ugly. It is dangerous. It is despicable.”
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a vice president, weighed in on Monday afternoon, warning, “The Jewish community is facing an epidemic of hate. We must all stand united and speak out against antisemitism. No person of any faith should have to fear violence because of what they believe.”
But the latest swell of support began over the weekend, and picked up steam on Monday with an Instagram post by Jessica Seinfeld, wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. She shared a simple graphic, with the words “I support my Jewish friends and the Jewish people” written in blue on a black background. Kim Kardashian, West’s ex-wife, posted on Instagram hours after her sister Khloe shared the graphic.
Adidas plans to end its partnership with West, Bloomberg News reported today, following mounting pressure over its delayed response. The Creative Artists Agency, which represents West, dropped him as a client this month. The United Talent Agency co-founder and CEO Jeremy Zimmer sent a company-wide staff memo condemning antisemitism. “Please support the boycott of Kanye West.” Zimmer wrote. “Powerful voices spewing hatred have frequently driven people to do hateful things.”
Entertainment studio MRC also said yesterday that it will not proceed with the distribution of a recently completed documentary about West.
West appeared to address some of his controversial statements on a podcast with MIT professor and computer scientist Lex Fridman, but doubled down on a number of his previous comments throughout the 2.5-hour recording.
In final weeks of Arizona governor’s race, Lake’s outreach to Jewish voters yields mixed results
Until recently, it had seemed as if Kari Lake, the telegenic Republican nominee for Arizona governor, was building a meaningful support base among prominent Jewish leaders in the Copper State, even as she has frequently struggled to distance herself from a growing number of white nationalists and antisemites connected to her campaign, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
The Trump-endorsed former news anchor and far-right election denier has drawn scrutiny for posing with a Nazi sympathizer and — more recently — receiving an endorsement from the controversial founder of a social media platform for extremists, whose support she rejected. In August, however, Lake, who is facing current Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, came under additional fire for backing an Oklahoma state Senate candidate who — despite a well-documented history of antisemitic and homophobic remarks — she had praised as a “fighter” and “patriot” targeted by “the Soros media.”
Facing backlash, Lake, 53, quickly rebounded the following month, when her campaign announced the formation of a new group called the “Jewish Voices for Kari Coalition.” Touting support from several active members of Scottsdale’s conservative Jewish community, the statement included an enthusiastic comment from Pinchas Allouche, the widely respected rabbi of an Orthodox Jewish congregation in Scottsdale, Congregation Beth Tefillah. He described a productive “roundtable” discussion, covering such issues as education, antisemitism and Israel, whose water technology advancements Lake has applauded as a model for Arizona.
But such goodwill had largely evaporated by early October, after her campaign ran a half-page print advertisement in a local paper, The Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, including a photo prominently featuring Allouche standing alongside Lake and in front of a “Jewish Voices for Kari” poster emblazoned with the Star of David. The ad, which apparently suggested that Lake had earned Allouche’s endorsement, caused an outcry within Arizona’s tight-knit Jewish community, not least because congregational rabbis do not typically back political candidates.
French antisemitic violence is ‘not unique anymore,’ Lipstadt warns
Speaking in France on Monday, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, warned of increasing antisemitism and dangers to Jews worldwide, as high-profile incidents of anti-Jewish bias grip the U.S., Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Spreading problem: “Americans used to think, ‘Oh, this is something unique to France,’” Lipstadt said at an event hosted by the World Jewish Congress, referring to the nation’s recent history of antisemitic incidents and violence. “Whereas if we had had this conversation 15 years ago, I would have said, ‘France is a unique situation.’ Sadly it’s not unique anymore.”
Both sides: The ambassador also lamented that she has friends on both sides of the political spectrum who are “very astute” at identifying antisemitism among their political opponents but “neither of them seem able… to see the antisemitism next to them. She continued, “And it’s a terrible irony — more than just that — because if they really were concerned strictly about antisemitism, they would address the one next to them… If you only see it on the other side of the political transom, I have to ask, are you really concerned about antisemitism, or are you just concerned about attacking the other side?”
Busy schedule: Yet, Lipstadt also highlighted positive signs of progress, like the recent Sukkot event at Blair House, across the street from the White House, attended by a number of senior embassy officials from Middle Eastern and South Central Asian countries. Lipstadt also announced plans for a trip to Morocco next month, and said she had recently attended a European Union conference in Brussels regarding efforts to ban kosher slaughter.
Museum matters: Lipstadt also discussed concerns over the efficacy of Holocaust education as a corrective or disciplinary tool in the wake of wrongdoing, such as vandalism of a synagogue. “Now maybe [a person] will learn from that the dangers of antisemitism, but I’m not sure it’s the great inoculator that we think it is,” she said. “And yet it is crucially important to teach it.”
What to expect from the U.K.’s newest premier?
Rishi Sunak today became the U.K.’s first non-white prime minister and, at 42, the country’s youngest premier in modern political history. British commentator Jonathan Sacerdoti spoke to Jewish Insider about what to expect from the U.K’s third Conservative prime minister in less than two months.
Foreign policy: Sunak served as chancellor of the Exchequer from 2020 to 2022 and chief secretary to the treasury from 2019 to 2020. “We don’t have a lot to go on,” with regard to foreign policy, Sacerdoti said. He pointed, however, to hints of his approach to the Middle East, noting his votes in parliament in 2015 in favor of military action against ISIS in Syria; and his call for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be categorized as a terrorist group following the recent stabbing of author Salman Rushdie. “It seems like he is talking tough on Iran,” Sacerdoti said, pointing to comments by Sunak in recent months that it might be time to start looking at alternatives to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Former British Defense Secretary Liam Fox backed Sunak in an August interview with The National in which he said that Sunak is “more hawkish” on Iran than the U.K. Foreign Office and skeptical about whether the JCPOA can work.
Abraham Accords: Fox also said that Sunak considered the Abraham Accords to be a positive step and that he believed the U.K. should be “more engaged in the region” than it has been. “I think we can therefore expect him to strengthen ties with Israel and new partners in the Accords and investment, which are anyway mainstream conservative positions,” Sacerdoti told JI. “I think we are unlikely to see him indulging in much foreign policy beyond what is strictly necessary because he is unelected by the population as prime minister and has a lot of things to worry about besides foreign policy domestically, mostly to do with the economy and uniting his party internally.”
Embassy move? Although Sunak told Conservative Friends of Israel that there was a “very strong case” for Britain to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and he considers Jerusalem as being Israel’s “historic capital,” Sacerdoti said: “I can’t see that being a priority for him unless it’s important within his own party.” Sacerdoti highlighted that after Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss spoke of it, some British religious leaders came out against it, “so I don’t think he will be looking to upset people. I think part of his job now is to keep people on his side on issues that are of vital importance to the U.K. — and that isn’t.”
Jewish community: Sacerdoti sees Sunak’s title as Britain’s first Hindu and non-white premier being of “enormous importance to Jews who can see someone from a minority, who has religious observance, as prime minister. There are familiarities between the two faiths that those two faith groups will recognize, and it is encouraging to the Jewish community that he will have appreciation of what it is to grow up in Britain as a Briton but with an identity of part of a minority religious and ethnic group.”
🎵 How Many Roads…: The New Yorker’s David Remnick chronicles the decades-long evolution of Bob Dylan’s musical career. “The Shadow Blasters soon broke up — high-school bands are as ephemeral as mayflies — and Zimmerman formed another group, the Golden Chords. He and his friends had fun playing Van Feldt’s snack bar and Collier’s barbecue joint, covering songs by Elvis, Jimmy Reed, and, always, Little Richard. But it was soon clear, as he put it later, that he’d been born in the wrong place. He was a middle-class Jewish kid far from everything he was tuned in to. He would need to leave town, change his name, and deepen his musical education to fulfill his outsized sense of destiny.” [NewYorker]
🇸🇦 Saudi Strains:The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Kalin, Summer Said and Dion Nissenbaum look at the rocky relationship between the Biden administration and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “U.S. officials said Mr. Biden has pushed the relationship beyond oil by working to deepen ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, two countries that drew closer under Mr. Trump and are aligned in their view of Iran as the region’s biggest threat. Though Israel and Saudi Arabia have no formal diplomatic relations, they have been secretly expanding their security cooperation with White House help. Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said Mr. Biden ‘has engaged with leaders from across the region’ to establish ‘a more stable and integrated Middle East.’ The path ahead is likely to be rocky. At risk for Washington are counterterrorism operations, efforts to contain Iran and Israel’s deeper integration into the region. For the Saudis, a breakdown with the U.S. would jeopardize its national security and ambitious economic reforms. Mutual trade and investment worth hundreds of billions of dollars are also on the line.” [WSJ]
🪧 Wired in Iran: In The Washington Post, Pranshu Verma discusses escalating tensions in Iran between the government and its citizens, highlighting digital news outlet IranWire, which, despite internet blocks and threats against the media, has continued to provide the public with news of ongoing protests and information on victims killed by the regime. “Since news broke last month that 22-year old [Mahsa] Amini was killed after being arrested for violating hijab mandates at the hands of Iran’s religious morality police, a cop squad that enforces Islamic customs with force, the country has been ensnared in a massive civilian protest. In response, Iran’s authoritarian regime has tried to quell it with brute force, disinformation and shutting down internet access. Iran Wire has become an essential player using technological savvy and internet sleuthing to determine a death toll from the protests. Its live video footage is regularly shown on CNN. IranWire’s network of citizen journalists — everyday citizens wanting to hold the government accountable — help it break news on stories capturing global attention, from the fallout from Amini’s death to the punishment of Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi for competing without a hijab.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
✍️ Signing Ceremony: Israel and Lebanon are expected to sign a U.S.-mediated maritime deal on Thursday, U.S. Special Energy Envoy Amos Hochstein told CNN on Monday. A State Department spokesperson told Jewish Insider that details for the signing, which will take place in Naqoura, Lebanon, are still being finalized. The Israeli and Lebanese representatives are not expected to meet face-to-face. “The agreement will be conducted through an exchange of letters facilitated by the United States, and will come into force after the United States writes to the parties informing them that they have both agreed to the final terms,” the spokesperson said.
🪑 Musical Chairs: The Cook Political Report moved the race in New York’s 17th Congressional District, where DCCC Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) is facing a challenge from New York Assemblyman Mike Lawler, from “lean Democratic” to “toss-up” with two weeks to go before the election.
🏫 Diverting Funds: A Hasidic yeshiva in Brooklyn, N.Y., will pay $8 million in fines and restitution following a federal investigation into the school’s financial activities.
🎓 Campus Beat: Pro-Israel students at Harvard pushed back against an invitation extended by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee to writer Mohammed El-Kurd, who has employed antisemitic tropes in his writing, to speak on campus.
🏳️🌈 Pride of Place: Yeshiva University has created a new, school-backed LGBTQ student group as the college engages in an ongoing lawsuit over the rights of another LGBTQ group, the YU Pride Alliance, to be recognized on campus.
🥾 MIA: A Spanish trekker making an 11-month journey from Spain to Qatar for the World Cup went missing earlier this month after entering Iran.
🚀 Asking for Aid: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), respectively, urged Israel to send air support to Ukraine to protect against Russian and Iranian missile attacks.
🇸🇾 Syria Strike: The Syrian military accused Israel of hitting a number of sites around Damascus.
💻 Techie Training: Google and Israel’s Reichman University have joined forces to create The School of High Tech, whose courses aim to teach the next generation tech professionals.
🛰️ Drone Deployment: Israel is rolling out “seek and strike” units with swarming drones to search buildings and carry out attacks, Forbes reported.
🔥 Fire Footage: Iran released security footage from its Evin Prison in the wake of a mysterious fire that killed eight prisoners, according to Iranian officials.
🕯️ Remembering: Philanthropy and social justice advocate Pablo Eisenberg died at 90.
Pic of the Day
From left, Campbell Brown, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, Dan Senor and Dan Loeb at the opening reception for Third Point Ventures’ new Israel office last night in North Tel Aviv.
Actor, he is currently starring opposite Queen Latifah on the CBS show “The Equalizer,” Adam Charles Goldberg turns 52…
Senior U.S. District Court judge based in Brooklyn, appointed by President Reagan, Judge Edward R. Korman turns 80… Chief policy and strategy officer of Oscar Insurance, following stints as a Supreme Court clerk, White House counsel, chancellor of the NYC schools and EVP at News Corporation, Joel Klein turns 76… Board chair of the Israel Policy Forum and board member of the Goldman Environmental Foundation, Susie Gelman turns 68… President of Dallas-based SPR Ventures, he serves on the boards of Texas Capital Bancshares and Cinemark, Steven Rosenberg… U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Jane Nuland turns 61… Television personality and author of 16 books, Bruce Feiler turns 58… Voice actress and singer, best known for voicing Asajj Ventress in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” Nika Futterman turns 53… Television screenwriter, showrunner, executive producer and director, best known for running the television medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” Krista Vernoff turns 51… Actress, she has appeared as various characters on the FX anthology series “American Horror Story,” Leslie Erin Grossman turns 51… Physician, author and public speaker on health issues, Michael Herschel Greger, MD, turns 50… Sharon Iancu… Rapper and songwriter, known professionally as The Alchemist, Daniel Alan Maman turns 45… Director of the Chabad House at Princeton University, Rabbi Eitan Yaakov Webb… Singer and songwriter who competed in the ninth season of “American Idol,” Vered “Didi” Benami turns 36… Singer and model, she has released three albums and toured internationally, Hannah Cohen turns 36… Program officer at San Francisco’s Koret Foundation, Rachel Elana Schonwetter… Director of community relations at the Baltimore Jewish Council, Josh Sherman… Musician, known professionally by the mononym “Grandson,” Jordan Edward Benjamin turns 29…