👋 Good Thursday morning!
Ed note: In continued celebration of the Sukkot holiday, the Daily Kickoff will resume on Wednesday. Chag sameach!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the White House’s newly released National Security Strategy and spotlight the race to succeed Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) in Western Pennsylvania. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Dylan Field, David Schenker, Miriam Adelson, Rabbi David Lau and Ambassador Tom Nides.
The Israeli cabinet approved yesterday, with an overwhelming majority, the principles of the maritime agreement with Lebanon as well as Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s proposal to send the agreement to the Knesset for review. At the end of 14 days, the agreement will be submitted for government approval.
Lapid hailed the deal as a “great achievement for the State of Israel, for Israel’s security and for Israel’s economy,” speaking at a press conference last night.
Addressing criticism that Israel has surrendered to Hezbollah, Lapid said, “This agreement staves off the possibility of a military clash with Hezbollah. Israel is not afraid of Hezbollah. The IDF is stronger than any terror organization, and if we went out to battle, we would deal them a heavy blow. That being said, if it is possible to prevent war, it is the job of a responsible government to do so.”
Israel will receive approximately 17% of the revenues from the Lebanese Qana-Sidon gas field, if and when the two countries will open it, Lapid noted, adding, “We built this agreement with the Americans so that money from this field will not reach Hezbollah.”
State Department Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein, who negotiated the agreement, discussed the deal with leaders of American Jewish organizations on a Wednesday Zoom call.
Participants on the call included representatives from the Orthodox Union, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israel Policy Forum, Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federations of North America. There were “a lot of yasher koachs” for Hochstein, one attendee told JI, using the Hebrew word for “congratulations.”
scene last night
Religious leaders, dignitaries mark septennial Hakhel gathering in Jerusalem
An estimated 50,000 people gathered at Jerusalem’s Western Wall Plaza last night for the septennial Hakhel celebration, during which three new Torah scrolls were dedicated. The event, which occurs every seven years in accordance with the keeping of the shmita — a year of rest observed by farmers that dates back to biblical times — drew Israel’s top brass, including President Isaac Herzog, who spoke at the event.
Notables in attendance: U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who raised the Torah) and his wife Sara Netanyahu, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Suli Eliav, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein (who wrapped the Torah that Netanyahu raised), Yitz Applbaum, Sander Gerber, Jake Gerber, Tzachi Braverman, Simon Falic, Leon Falic, Yogi Loshinsky and Elly Kleinman.
key race in the keystone state
In Conor Lamb’s Western Pennsylvania district, it’s anyone’s race
In 2018, the political world was riveted to Western Pennsylvania as voters elected a moderate Democrat, Rep. Conor Lamb, in a special election upset in what was once a reliably Republican area. Now, national attention has returned as the contest to decide who will replace the retiring Lamb in this critical swing district — which pits a Democrat with strong union ties against a centrist Republican who decries the political pull toward the “extremes” — comes down to the wire, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
In the race: In Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District, which runs from the outskirts of Pittsburgh to the state’s western border, Democratic Navy veteran and cyber- and election-security expert Chris Deluzio faces Jeremy Shaffer, a local Republican official and software engineer. The district is rated as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report and has become a magnet for attention and spending from both sides of the aisle, as well as a barometer for working-class voters.
Union emphasis: In an industrial area of the state, Deluzio — a Bernie Sanders delegate at the 2020 Democratic National Convention — is playing up his support for unionized labor, which has boosted his campaign, and domestic manufacturing. “I want to see us, as a region, as a country, bring our supply chains back home and start making more stuff here with strong union jobs. We’ve all seen the cost of all this outsourcing and bad trade deals; we’re feeling it when we buy anything, whether it’s housing, groceries, you name it,” Deluzio told JI. “So I think we’ve got to do more to get our supply chains back here, but also take on the price-gouging corporations that are doing it and heavily consolidated industries.”
Play for the middle: Shaffer, meanwhile, repeatedly emphasized his centrist positioning in written responses to JI, saying he would “always put our country first over my party” and said he’d work across the aisle to implement term limits, end gerrymandering and implement campaign finance reform. “As an engineer, small business owner, and former Ross [Township] Commissioner I have a strong record as a bipartisan problem-solver that works with both sides to deliver common-sense solutions and real reforms,” Shaffer wrote. “We need to stop gravitating toward extremes and work together as a country to provide opportunities, defend our freedoms, drive down inflation and protect our country in a very dangerous world… You won’t see me on heated cable talk shows arguing either extreme.”
Eye on foreign policy: Despite his past support for Sanders, Deluzio, who served in Iraq, takes a more conventional approach to Middle East policy issues than the progressive firebrand senator. His time in the Navy, he said, demonstrated “the limits of American power, but also how often we are the indispensable power abroad to maintain and ensure security and peace and stability.” “The Middle East is a good example of this,” Deluzio, who has been endorsed by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, J Street and Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania, continued. “I saw both at sea and on the ground in Iraq the destabilizing influence of Iran and what a threat they are to regional and… global security… I’m very aware of problems [the Iranian] regime can cause and the importance of having a strong policy that recognizes that.”
Two-state obstacles: Shaffer, backed by the Republican Jewish Coalition, said he is supportive of U.S. efforts to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, describing the Palestinians and countries hostile to Israel globally as roadblocks to that peace. “Before a two-state solution can even be considered, Palestinians and their government need to admit that Israel has a right to exist,” he said. Shaffer did not specify if he personally supports a two-state solution as an ultimate goal. “The United States can use our influence with our allies and others in the world to ensure that a fair solution is achieved and stable peace [is] ensured.”
U.S. National Security Strategy calls for global cooperation, including in Mideast
President Joe Biden unveiled his administration’s long-delayed National Security Strategy on Wednesday, laying out a vision for American foreign policy that places global alliances and shared democratic values at its core — and setting the stage for how the U.S. may navigate partnerships with non-democratic allies, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Decisive decade: The 48-page document describes a “decisive decade” ahead, in which the U.S. expects strategic competition with China — “America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge,” according to the report — to ramp up, and the worsening of transnational threats such as climate change and food insecurity that affect people around the world and Americans at home. The strategy offers a vision of an America that views diplomacy and alliance-building as a key path forward, with military engagement only as a last-case scenario.
Broad base: “We will work with non-democracies in service of defending these principles, as well as working with countries of every stripe when it comes to challenges like climate change,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who added that promoting international cooperation in an era of great-power competition requires a “dual-track approach.”
Peace offering: “On one track, we will cooperate with any country, including our geopolitical rivals, that is willing to work constructively on shared challenges,” Sullivan explained. “Then on the other track, we’re going to deepen and sharpen our cooperation with like-minded democracies.”
Mideast integration: The strategy called for de-escalation and regional integration in the Middle East, criticizing American foreign policy to this point as too reliant upon military force. Instead, the strategy laid out a five-part approach to the Middle East: strengthening partnerships with countries that “subscribe to the rules-based international order”; protecting freedom of navigation in regional waterways; reducing regional tensions through diplomacy; advancing regional integration; and promoting human rights.
Obvious omission: The document pledges to “extend and deepen Israel’s growing ties to its neighbors and other Arab states, including through the Abraham Accords, while maintaining our ironclad commitment to its security.” It also reasserted the Biden administration’s commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Notably, the strategy does not mention Saudi Arabia, long a key American partner in the region. Its release comes a day after Biden pledged to reevaluate Washington’s relationship with Riydah after OPEC+, over which Saudi Arabia exerts significant power, cut oil production to the lowest levels since the start of the pandemic.
on the rise
Why 5783 is the year of Dylan Field
It’s shaping up to be quite the year for Dylan Field. The 30-year-old Jewish tech entrepreneur, and new father, said goodbye to his first “baby” last month when he agreed to sell his cloud-based design software company, Figma, to software giant, and Figma rival, Adobe, Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel reports. The deal, which is set to close in 2023, is one of the largest of its kind to date at $20 billion — Figma is currently valued at $10 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Field will also receive a sizable retention package, which, in addition to holding a large stake in the company, will enable the CEO and co-founder to continue running its operation (and propel him to billionaire status), according to Forbes.
Making the list: On Sept. 28, right after Rosh Hashanah, Field was named one of Time magazine’s Time100 Next for “enabling creativity.” Much like the magazine’s annual Time100 list, Time100 Next is a yearly spread celebrating “rising stars from across industries and around the world.” Driven largely by the Adobe merger, Field was grouped alongside over a dozen other innovators. “Field has a classic Valley tale,” Don Steinberg wrote in Field’s Time100 Next profile, referencing the tech hub of Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area. “[H]e dropped out of Brown after winning a ‘20-Under-20’ fellowship from [billionaire venture capitalist] Peter Thiel, then raised over $3.8 million in seed financing at 21.”
Family first: Throughout Figma’s creation, the California native never forgot his roots. Former employee Carmel DeAmicis told Bloomberg that, unlike the work-hard-play-hard mentality other startups were touting, Field oriented his company around family. And like the good Jewish son her boss is, DeAmicis added that Field had his mother present for many of Figma’s key moments.
Read more here.
🌊 Maritime Musings: In the Wall Street Journal, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker weighs in on the Israel-Lebanon maritime agreement, having visited Beirut himself in 2020 to restart the negotiations. Recalling how he had reassured a Lebanese journalist who was concerned his country would give up too much, Schenker marvels at the outcome. “The contours of the proposed deal are stunning. When I kicked off negotiations in October 2020, Israel was claiming a line running northwest from the border at Naqoura; Lebanon claimed a line running farther to the southwest from the same point. The lines outlining this disputed area — resembling a slice of pie roughly 70 nautical miles long, with the crust abutting the end of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone — are known respectively as the ‘1’ and ’23’ lines, filed long ago with the United Nations. As per the new agreement, Lebanon will attain virtually 100% of its initial negotiating position.” [WSJ]
📈 Strong Shekel: In The Washington Post, Matthew A. Winkler looks at how Israel’s economy is thriving while other countries have been struck hard by sky-rocketing inflation rates. “It has the fastest growth and one of the lowest rates of inflation and jobless. On top of that, the shekel is the world’s best-performing currency among the 31 that trade actively and the only one that strengthened against the dollar the past decade. Unlike any of the 34 developed economies, Israel is poised to achieve 5.2% gross domestic product growth in 2022, 3.5% in 2023 and 3.5% in 2024, according to more than a dozen forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. With unemployment at 3.5% and inflation at 4.3% (around half the annualized rate for the US and European Union) Israel is proving to be the benchmark not only for stability, but for innovation as well.” [WashPost]
🛻 Fusion Food Truck:Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron spotlights a new food truck on the Duke University campus that offers kosher and halal food and was launched by its founders as an effort to bring together Jewish and Muslim students on the campus, where tensions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have grown in recent years. “‘We want to push Jewish and Muslim students to get together,’ said Rabbi Nossen Fellig, a Chabad leader on campus who came up with the food truck concept alongside a Muslim colleague, Abdullah Antepli, a professor of the practice of interfaith relations… Last semester, a controversy erupted over a $16,000 fee to three pro-Palestinian speakers, one of whom has made virulently antisemitic statements. A newer group on campus, Students Supporting Israel, last month hosted a controversial pro-Israel Palestinian human rights lawyer. The food truck is, in part, an effort to find common ground. ‘I thought, we’re going to do a kosher food truck, why not add halal?’ said Antepli, who earlier in his career served as a Muslim chaplain on campus. ‘Let’s bring Jewish and Muslim students together over food and culture.’” [RNS]
Around the Web
👎 Nay for Ye: The chairs of the Bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations — Reps. Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) — condemned artist Kanye West’s recent remarks, which they called “antisemitic and dangerous.”
👱♀️ Stepping Back: Miriam Adelson, who with her late husband, Sheldon Adelson, was a top backer of Republican candidates, will reportedly sit out the 2024 GOP presidential primary race.
👨⚖️ Case Closed: A federal judge determined that Steve Wynn does not have to register as a foreign agent, dismissing a Justice Department case that sought to force the casino mogul to do so over his efforts in 2017 to repatriate a Chinese businessman facing charges in his home country.
👨🏫 School Standards:The New York Times reported that New York’s education commissioner determined that a Hasidic yeshiva in Brooklyn is falling short of state-set standards and will have to work with education officials in the city to create an improvement plan.
🏫 Sorry Stanford: Stanford University apologized after a task force found that the school limited the admission of Jewish students in the 1950s.
👳 Religious Exemption? Judges from the District of Columbia’s federal appeals court heard arguments Tuesday about whether three Sikhs can get an exemption to the Marine Corps’ boot camp rules and attend with their turbans and beards.
👕 Trivia Thrifter: LA Magazinespotlights Scott Rogowsky, the former host of HQ Trivia, who is selling vintage clothes after the collapse of the app-based trivia show.
✋ Rejected: Saudi leaders ignored an appeal by U.S. officials to delay the OPEC+ decision to cut oil production.
⚽ Haifa Hopefuls: Maccabi Haifa ended its 20-year losing streak at the UEFA Champions League, where the team beat the Italian team Juventus 2-0.
📷 Reporter’s Price: Iranian journalist Niloofar Hamedi, who broke the news that the late Mahsa Amini was in coma after being detained by Iran’s morality police, is being held in solitary confinement in Iran’s Evin prison without having been charged.
🧕🏽 Pushing On: Anti-regime protests in Iran reached at least 19 cities in the Islamic Republic yesterday despite further limits to internet access.
🕯 Remembering: Robert Toll, co-founder of Toll Brothers home builders, died at 81.
Pic of the Day
Top Jewish Biden administration officials were among those who participated in a Sukkot celebration on Wednesday at Blair House, the White House’s official guest house. Participants included Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Chief of Protocol Rufus Gifford, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain, White House Jewish Liaison Shelley Greenspan, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog and his wife, Shirin, and senior diplomats from other Middle Eastern and Asian nations including Morocco, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
Second gentleman of the United States, Douglas Emhoff turns 58…
Encino, Calif., resident, Sonia Bordo… Former deputy assistant secretary at the USDA, now an attorney working on organic food law, Richard D. Siegel turns 83… Musician, singer, songwriter, best known for his lead role in the Simon & Garfunkel duo, Paul Simon turns 81… Immediate past chair of the Anti-Defamation League, Esta Gordon Epstein… Founder of PublicAffairs Books, an imprint of Perseus Books at Hachette Book Group, Peter L.W. Osnos turns 79… Author of 12 cookbooks, Mollie Katzen turns 72… U.S. Sen.) Maria Cantwell (D-WA) turns 64… Former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer turns 62… Partner at FGS Global, Jack Krumholtz… Former AP bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories, now a home builder in the Indian state of Goa, Steven Gutkin… Chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content, Dana Freedman Walden turns 58… Richard Lamke… Attorney general for England and Wales since last month, Michael Ellis turns 55… Emmy Award-winning film director, producer and screenwriter, Amy J. Berg turns 52… Award-winning actor, comedian and screenwriter, Sacha Baron Cohen turns 51… Israeli fashion model, Shiraz Tal turns 48… Executive director of Hillel at Ohio University, Sarah Livingston… Bookstore owner and author who rose to prominence as an editor at Gawker, Emily Gould turns 41… Pentagon correspondent for CNN, Oren Liebermann turns 40… Land-use attorney at Seattle-based firm of Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson, Joshua E. Friedmann… Congressional reporter for NBC News, Rebecca Shabad… Film director, producer and screenwriter, J.D. Lifshitz turns 30… Longtime former executive vice president of news standards and practices at CNN, Rick Davis…