👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the tightening mayoral race in Los Angeles between Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso, and how tensions between Washington and Riyadh could complicate potential Israeli-Saudi normalization. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Blake Masters, Norm Brownsteinand Itamar Ben-Gvir.
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: The Londoner putting a twist on the traditional Shabbat dinner; What’s at stake in Israel’s next election; For many Pennsylvania Jewish Republicans, yes to Oz and no to Mastriano; In Georgia, Raphael Warnock makes the case for a Senate full term; In Conor Lamb’s Western Pennsylvania district, it’s anyone’s race; Here are the lessons Jewish security officials learned during the first High Holiday season since the Colleyville attack; and Israeli startup funding cut in half amid global slowdown. Print the latest edition here.
Liz Truss announced her resignation as prime minister of the United Kingdom Thursday afternoon, after six weeks at No. 10 Downing St., making her tenure as prime minister the shortest in history. Truss, who beat out Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson, will remain in the role until a new prime minister — who could be Sunak or even Johnson, who is in the process of garnering the requisite 100 nominations to be considered for the post — is selected.
One of Truss’ last moves as prime minister — a day before announcing her resignation — was to appoint Grant Shapps as the U.K.’s home secretary, the first Jewish politician to hold the posting in more than 25 years. Almost immediately after his appointment, Shapps was marked by some — including former politician Nigel Farage — as a “globalist,” drawing ire from the U.K. Jewish community, with some calling for GB News, where Farage hosts a program four times a week, to fire the politician-turned-commentator.
The political turmoil in London nearly overshadowed the announcement of a new round of U.K. sanctions leveled against three Iranian generals and the Iranian manufacturer of drones that were recently sold to Russia for use in Moscow’s ongoing attacks on Ukraine.
And in Washington on Thursday, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, said that the military cooperation between Russia and Iran extended beyond hardware: “Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations,” he said.
“Iran is now directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons that are impacting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, in fact that are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in Ukraine,” added Kirby.
When asked by a reporter how Iran’s involvement in the war in Ukraine affects nuclear negotiations, he said Washington is not focused on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “We are way far apart with the Iranians in terms of return to the deal, so we’re just simply not focused on that right now,” he said.
“What we are focused on,” he added, “is making sure that we’re holding the regime accountable for the way they’re treating peaceful protesters in their country, and supporting those protesters,” as well as holding Tehran and Moscow accountable for their arms sales.
Biden’s Saudi recalibration a potential setback to prospects for Saudi-Israel normalization
As the Biden administration, backed by influential congressional Democrats, contemplates significant changes to the United States-Saudi Arabia relationship in response to Saudi-driven oil production cuts, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are urging the administration to work to maintain paths for facilitating Israeli-Saudi normalization and regional security cooperation, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Doing both: “It’s wholly appropriate for the Biden administration (and Congress) to continually assess the U.S. relationship with the Saudis to identify concrete steps that address their indefensible behavior and to protect U.S. interests in the region,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) told Jewish Insider last week. “There is no reason we cannot uphold our principles and protect our interests while also continuing to work with our allies and others in the region to advance security and prospects for peace.”
Setback: Hopes both in the U.S. and in the Middle East for progress toward the long-sought goal of normalized ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia were buoyed over the summer by President Joe Biden’s trip to both countries, which was accompanied by an announcement that Riyadh would allow flights to and from Israel to fly over its territory. But a more strained U.S.-Saudi bilateral relationship would likely pose a significant obstacle to that process, experts told JI this week.
All on U.S.: “It all hinges on the U.S. approach to the region. The U.S. brokered the [Abraham] Accords, [and] the countries in the Accords asked for and obtained assurances from the United States in order to join the Accords,” said Rob Greenway, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute and executive director of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute who was involved in the normalization negotiations under the Trump administration, referring to Washington’s promises to continue to support and defend the Arab nations who normalized ties with Israel in 2020. “Subsequent countries will be looking for the same, and the degree to which the U.S. is willing to do it will drive normalization.”
Sweetening the pot: Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, said that U.S.-Saudi relations and Saudi-Israel normalization can “in some ways… move on separate tracks” but cannot be totally de-linked. “If Saudi Arabia had in mind that the moment it decides to normalize relations with Israel, there’s going to be some significant package from the United States, that partnership has to get back on a more stable footing than it is right now,” Shapiro said. “Because that would not be viable at the moment.”
Regional implications: Greenway and Shapiro also noted that the Saudis’ posture could also influence progress toward normalization between Israel and other countries throughout the region. “Saudi Arabia has enormous gravitational pull,” Greenway explained. “Countries that joined the Accords, especially UAE and Bahrain, did so after consultation with Saudi Arabia and us… We’ve lost some momentum. And Saudi Arabia, I think, if anything, is moving in the opposite direction.”
More: The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reportedly warned Riyadh against working with Israel, cautioning that Saudi Arabia was “relying on an Israel which is collapsing, and this will be the end of your era.”
city of angels
In L.A. mayoral race, competing visions of the golden dream
Last Tuesday, a group of Israeli-Americans arrived at Los Angeles City Hall for a tour of the seat of government of the country’s second-largest city. The visit coincided with an outpouring of local outrage after The Los Angeles Timesreleased a tape of a meeting in which the since-ousted Los Angeles City Council president, Nury Martinez, spoke disparagingly of Blacks, Mexicans, Koreans, Jews and Armenians. The afternoon of the Israelis’ tour, the city council was meeting for the first time since the tape leaked — and dozens of angry Angelenos showed up, chanting “fuera” (out) and “shut it down.” “It was literally a circus,” said Dillon Hosier, CEO of the Israeli-American Civic Action Network (ICAN), a political advocacy group that works with Israelis in the U.S. It also offered a lesson in the messiness of American democracy.
The back-room conversation captured on tape has shaken up the city’s local government and its high-profile mayoral race in the final weeks of what was already a heated and expensive campaign. The two candidates — Karen Bass, a longtime activist and public official who has served in Congress for more than a decade, and billionaire real estate developer and political newcomer Rick Caruso — both condemned Martinez, along with the labor leader and two other city council members who were in the meeting. In interviews with Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch, both Caruso and Bass touted their commitment to reaching the many diverse segments of L.A.’s population. But the candidates’ outreach to Jewish voters reveals important differences in who they view as their winning coalitions.
Community connections: Bass, a progressive, has found common cause with liberal Jews on the city’s west side. One of her closest Jewish supporters is Rabbi Sharon Brous, an outspoken Democrat who leads the pluralistic synagogue IKAR. Caruso, a moderate who was not registered as a Democrat until early this year, has close ties with several Chabad rabbis and has found a receptive audience among Orthodox Jews and Israelis.
Lesson learned: Public safety is a top concern for voters, and hate crimes — including several high-profile antisemitic incidents — are on the rise. Caruso, who earned the backing of the LAPD police union, has heard from some Jewish Angelenos that they feel “very unheard, especially with the growing rates of hate incidents,” he told JI. “I also hear the same thing in the Latino community with crime.” He faced criticism from the Jewish community while he served as chair of the University of Southern California’s board of trustees for not doing enough to counter accusations of antisemitism on campus. “The lesson, I think, for all of us was … condemn it very quickly.”
Shine a light: Bass, whose stance on policing is more progressive, called for an “aggressive response” to the increase in hate crimes, including encouraging minority communities to report the crimes to police. But, she noted, Jews generally already do so. “The Jewish community is highly organized, highly aware and has defense mechanisms in place,” she said, emphasizing that she would work to raise public awareness about antisemitism.
follow the money
Blake Masters’ campaign has had a far-right Christian nationalist on its payroll for months
In an email newsletter regularly sent to supporters of Blake Masters, the Republican Senate nominee in Arizona, one recurring feature highlights a “volunteer of the week” with a brief shoutout from the campaign as well as an accompanying photo. Unlike others who have gotten the nod, the most recent honoree, identified as “CJ from the West Valley” in Tuesday’s newsletter, is pictured alongside Masters himself as the two flash dueling victory hand signs while smiling for the camera. Left unmentioned, however, was that CJ, whose full name is CJ Trapeur, is actually on the campaign’s payroll. The newsletter also failed to note that Trapeur is, perhaps more notably, a well-connected far-right activist in Arizona who serves as chief operating officer of an extreme Christian nationalist group, called American Virtue, that has courted controversy in recent months, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Show me the money: Since December, Trapeur has received at least $5,250 from the Masters campaign, which has paid him for “consulting” services as well as “campaign staff salary fees,” according to filings from the Federal Election Commission. The most recent disbursement, late last month, was for $250, campaign finance records show. The sum is by no means a major expense for Masters, who — while significantly outraised by his opponent, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) — has pulled in more than $10 million over the course of his campaign. During the primary, Masters, who embraced a number of extreme positions that he has sought to temper in the lead-up to the November election, was also kept comfortably afloat thanks to $15 million in outside support from a super PAC funded by the venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
Virtue or vice?: That Masters has continued to keep Trapeur on his campaign payroll, however, has largely eluded scrutiny, even as he has sought to distance himself from more prominent far-right figures who have gravitated to his campaign. Until recently, American Virtue had been known as the American Populist Union, which drew national scrutiny for having planned an April event in Tempe that fell on the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. In a statement to The Washington Post before the gathering, Trapeur insisted that the scheduling was simply a coincidence. “The 20th was simply due to venue pricing and availability,” he claimed at the time. But the event was apparently too toxic even for Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who had recently faced backlash for addressing a white nationalist conference in Orlando, Fla. While Gosar had been listed as a “featured guest” at the “American Populist Social,” which he promoted on social media, a campaign consultant later said the congressman would not be attending.
Troubling ties: Before changing its name to American Virtue a few months ago, the American Populist Union had rejected mounting accusations of white nationalism and other forms of extremism. “Our purpose is to proliferate pro-Trump, pro-America First ideas,” the group wrote on Twitter this past spring. “We are not Groypers, we’re not White Nationalists, and we’re not White Supremacists.” Last year, however, Trapeur was pictured with two leaders of Arizona’s Groyper movement, including Kyle Clifton, who has promoted antisemitic images, and Greyson Arnold, a Nazi sympathizer who once described Hitler as “a complicated historical figure which many people misunderstand.” The photo was taken when the American Populist Union conducted an interview with Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, a Republican who has frequently espoused antisemitic conspiracy theories.
🤔 Understanding Ben-Gvir: Tablet’s Armin Rosen interviews Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right Israeli politician who has gained traction among the Israeli electorate in the final weeks before the Nov. 1 elections. “Listening to Ben-Gvir is good practice for American Jews in dealing with a type of Israeli leader they are only going to see more of in coming years — namely, ones who don’t care about their opinions very much. I asked Ben-Gvir if he understood why he might make American Jews nervous, given their liberalism and support for the future existence of a Palestinian state. (Two leading pro-Israel Democratic opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, Rep. Brad Sherman and Sen. Robert Menendez, have already made a point of publicly condemning Ben-Gvir and warning Israelis against voting for him.) ‘No, actually I don’t know why they think [that] because all I want is what’s good for this country,’ he replied. ‘We need to have security and right now there is no security. People are fearful walking in the streets and what is happening is that we’re losing control over this country.’ In turn, Americans, and especially American Jews, seem ill-equipped to understand Ben-Gvir: His background, his ideological system, his seamless mixture of the wild-eyed and the practical, his ability to signal both religiosity and secularity, and his embodiment of the Israeli far right’s paradoxical relationship with a state that is both an obstacle to a messianic Jewish destiny and also the instrument of its possible fulfillment, are all mind-bogglingly distant from the belief systems of NPR listeners on the Upper West Side and Brookline.” [Tablet]
👀 What Wasserman’s Seeing: New York magazine’s Benjamin Hart speaks to the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman about potential outcomes of the November midterms, and why Wasserman thinks the GOP has a decent chance of flipping the House. “There are three structural advantages that Republicans have in the House that Senate Republicans don’t,” Wasserman said. “One is redistricting. One is retirements — we didn’t see Democratic retirements in key Senate seats, but we have 19 vulnerable Democratic open seats in the House compared to just six vulnerable open Republican seats. So that’s a huge difference between the Senate and House. The third, and this is key, is that Senate Republicans were at war with each other over who to recruit and nominate, and Trump took an interest in the Senate contests in a way that led to chaos. Mitch McConnell and Rick Scott are still playing a blame game three weeks from Election Day.” [NYMag]
✡️ Leap of Faith:The Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz spotlights the gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Josh Shapiro has centered key campaign messages around his Jewish faith. “If Shapiro wins, he will become one of the most prominent Jewish politicians in the country, following a line of well-known Jewish officeholders in Pennsylvania from the late-Sen. Arlen Specter to former governor Ed Rendell. The first Jewish governor in the state changed his last name from Shapiro to Shapp over fears of antisemitism: The late-Milton Shapp aspired to higher office, with an eye on becoming the first Jewish president. Now, Shapiro supporters say, that chance might someday be his.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
👍 Pelosi Push: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) endorsed California state Rep. Kevin Mullin over David Canepa in the race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA).
🎙️ Media Merger: Irenic Capital Management, co-founded by Adam Katz, is suggesting that NewsCorp split its media and real estate listings business as it contemplates a merger with Fox.
👎 U.N. Report: State Department spokesman Ned Price rejected a “blanket comparison” between Russian annexation of regions of Ukraine and Israeli control of the West Bank, in comments to reporters following the release of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry report, which Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid slammed as antisemitic.
🔫 Guilty Plea: A former Ohio National Guard member accused of making terrorist threats against a Jewish school in Columbus pleaded guilty to making and selling ghost guns.
👨⚖️ In the Courts: The American Civil Liberties Union petitioned the Supreme Court yesterday to overturn an Arkansas law against boycotts of Israel, arguing that it violates the First Amendment.
🎒 Back to School: Parents of students in Zionsville, Ind., are concerned by comments made by a school board candidate that “all Nazis weren’t ‘bad.'”
🧗 Sports and Security: The president of Iran’s national Olympic committee said yesterday that Elnaz Rekabi, who broke the country’s hijab law when she competed in a climbing competition in South Korea without a headscarf, will not be punished as it was “unintentional.”
🏥 Death in the Family: Ali Tehrani, Iranian dissident and brother-in-law of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, died at 96, according to Iranian state media.
➡️ Transitions: Duke University Provost Sally Kornbluth was named the next president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and will assume the role in January. The Robin Hood Foundation named Goldman Sachs partner Dina Powell McCormick as its new chair.
Pic of the Day
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Norm Brownstein (right), pictured with, from left, Lindsay Gibson, Chad Brownstein and Sunny Brownstein, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Law Journal Legal Awards 2022, held last night at the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Herzog Generation VIII Cabernet:
“Every seven years during Sukkot there is a biblical edict to have the king of Israel read specific portions from the Torah. Last week we celebrated a modern-day version of this gathering at the Western Wall with 50,000 fellow Jews. After the festivities, my dear friend Yossi and I hightailed it to one of the greatest sukkah parties I have ever experienced. Singing, dancing, fine wine, delicacies, cigars and great joy. The bottle I was handed to drink tied the whole evening together through its engrossing tannins, its old spirit and wondrous color. The Herzog Generation VIII Cabernet starts off with the sweetness of dates, the mid-palate reminds me of an oyster mushroom and the finish is a mixture of a delightful cigar and dark chocolate. Enjoy this wine with gala p’tcha, chopped liver and roast beef, ideally in the Sharei Hesed neighborhood of Jerusalem on Sukkot. This wine will last for at least 20 years.”
Emmy Award-winning reality courtroom personality, “Judge Judy,” Judith Sheindlin turns 80…
FRIDAY: News anchor who worked for 36 years in Philadelphia, and author of three books on the Beatles, Larry Kane (born Lawrence Kanowitz) turns 80… Professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard University, Shaye J. D. Cohen turns 74… Beverly Hills resident, she is a national executive board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Terri Smooke… Former prime minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu turns 73… Novelist, screenwriter, journalist and film producer, Amy Laura Ephron turns 70… Cardiologist and medical director at the Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, Nieca Goldberg, MD, turns 65… Legislative director for Massachusetts state Sen. Jo Comerford, Brian Rosman… Managing principal and chief investment officer at Penso Advisors, Ari Bergmann, Ph.D., turns 61… Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla turns 61… Austin-based commercial insurance consultant, Mitchell B. Davis… President and CEO of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, David L. Bernstein turns 56… Emmy Award-winning television producer best known for her work on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” Marci Klein turns 55… Folk and folk-rock musician, he serves as the treasurer of The William Davidson Foundation, Ethan Daniel Davidson turns 53… Executive editor of Politico, Dafna Linzer turns 52… Classical composer and pianist, she is a graduate of Juilliard, Lera Auerbach turns 49… Acting administrator and assistant secretary for aging at HHS’s Administration for Community Living, Alison Barkoff… Mayor of Phoenix, Kate Widland Gallego turns 41… Israeli musician, model and actress, Ninet Tayeb turns 39… Director of Jewish community relations and government affairs at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Joshua Sayles… Dori Tenenbaum… Chief information officer at Aish Global, Dan Hazony… Jerusalem-based journalist, originally from Seattle, Eliana Rudee… Actress, model and writer, Hari Nef turns 30… Recent medical school graduate at the University of Tel Aviv, Stuart “Shimmy” Jesin… Occupational therapist, Yael Applebaum…
SATURDAY: Australian billionaire and longtime chairman of Westfield Corporation, Frank Lowy turns 92… Pioneer of the venture capital and private equity industries, Alan Patricof turns 88… Retired EVP of the Orthodox Union, he was previously chairman of NYC-based law firm Proskauer Rose, Allen Fagin… Actor who starred in many high-grossing films such as “Jurassic Park,” “Independence Day” and sequels of both of those, Jeff Goldblum turns 70… Agent for artists, sculptors and photographers, he is a son of Lillian Vernon, David Hochberg… Retired vice-chair of SKDK, she was the longtime CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, Hilary Rosen turns 64… Composer and lyricist, he has won a Grammy, an Emmy and a Tony, and been nominated for seven Oscars, Marc Shaiman turns 63… Author of two novels and three other books, Susan Jane Gilman… Bethesda, Md., resident, Eric Matthew Fingerhut… Chief of staff of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Michelle Gordon… Actor best known for playing D.J. Conner on the long-running series “Roseanne” and its spin-off show, “The Conners,” Michael Fishman turns 41… Partner at West End Strategy Team, Samantha Friedman Kupferman… Dana Tarley Sicherman… Psychotherapist with a private practice in White Plains, N.Y., Maayan Tregerman, LCSW-R… Journalist and author, Ross Barkan turns 33… Actor and producer, best known for his roles as a child actor starting at 6 years old, Jonathan Lipnicki turns 32… Israeli singer, Omer Adam turns 29… Freelance reporter, Ryan Torok…
SUNDAY: Chairman emeritus of the shopping mall developer Simon Property Group and the principal owner of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, Herbert “Herb” Simon turns 88… Distinguished professor of American and Jewish Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Gerald Sorin turns 82… Attorney best known for his role as special master for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and for similar roles in a number of mass torts, Kenneth Feinberg turns 77… Filmmaker, actor and producer famous for creating the cult horror “Evil Dead” series, as well as directing the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, Sam Raimi turns 63… Founder and CEO of global outsourcing company TeleTech with 62,000 employees on six continents, Kenneth D. Tuchman turns 63… Founder of the New Democrat Network and the New Policy Institute, Simon Rosenberg turns 59… Former editor-in-chief of The New York Observer, Kenneth Kurson turns 54… Film director, producer and talent agent, Trevor Engelson turns 46… VP of communal relations at J Street, Shaina Wasserman… President of Renco Group, Ari Rennert turns 44… Senior advisor to the director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Allison Preiss… Director of development at Ein Prat The Midrasha, Ayelet Kahane… Associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells, Annika Lichtenbaum… Special assistant at the U.S. Department of Labor, Rachel Shabad… Director of business strategy and corporate development at Barstool Sports, Allison Rachesky… Richard Rubenstein…