👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we spotlight the race to succeed Rep. Charlie Crist in Florida, and report on efforts on Capitol Hill to address the recent decision by a group of UC Berkeley law school groups to ban pro-Israel speakers. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff, new Formula 1 driver Robert Shwartzman, Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Ben Platt.
Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to return to power and is likely to comfortably form a government with the Orthodox and Zionist religious parties, according to this morning’s preliminary results after yesterday’s general election.
With almost 85% of the votes counted, Netanyahu’s bloc, including Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and the Religious Zionism party, could get as many as 65 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, giving it a clear majority. The Arab Balad party does not appear to have crossed the electoral threshold, according to the current vote count, and the left-wing Meretz party is also hovering just below it.
Likud is the largest party with around 31 seats, followed by Yesh Atid with 24 and a historic achievement by the Religious Zionism party, led by the far-right politicians Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, which became the third largest faction, with 14 seats.
“With the highest voter turnout in all five election campaigns, it seems that for the first time there is a clear, decisive outcome,” Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, told Jewish Insider. Plesner credited the break in the stalemate between the Netanyahu and anti-Netanyahu blocs seen in the previous four elections, in part, to voter turnout. “An increase in participation took place throughout society, but more so within the ultra-Orthodox community and Likud strongholds, and increased participation in the Arab sector did not offset that,” he said.
What is poised to be the most right-wing and religious government in Israeli history, he said, is also a reflection of a lack of a sense of security ever since the Israel-Gaza conflict in May 2021 and ongoing security incidents since, and a reaction to the presence of an Arab party in the Israeli government for the first time.
“A combination of those two events was apparently too difficult to digest for a large number of Israelis. And of course the desire to see a stable outcome after four indecisive election campaigns, and Netanyahu’s past stability was more convincing,” Plesner said.
Aviv Bushinsky, a political commentator and a former chief of staff for Netanyahu, said that Israel reached this moment due to the “experiment” of the outgoing government.
“Based on these results, it’s clear that the experiment that was made by the previous government – leaning on the Arabs for support while at the same time the people of Israel felt a lack of stability and security in their homes because of the Arabs — explains how the Religious Zionism party reached 14 seats,” he said. “This is the antithesis or negative result of the outgoing government and that’s what led to Netanyahu’s potential victory with 31 or 32 seats or more.”
Stateside, resolutions condemning antisemitism passed unanimously in Montgomery County, Md., and Los Angeles. The L.A. City Council adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism after dozens of community members expressed support for the measure.
In Rockville, Md., the Montgomery County Council voted to condemn antisemitism and “affirm” the IHRA definition, in spite of backlash from left-wing organizations and protesters chanting “shame” throughout the hearing. “What this process has clearly demonstrated is how much work we have to do to educate and discuss these issues that are exceptionally nuanced,” Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who introduced the measure, told JI after the vote. “If we can’t affirm as an educational tool the most widely accepted and adopted definition of antisemitism that exists, then that would have been very troubling to me.”
sunshine state race
An MTG ally takes on a moderate Jewish Democrat in FL-13
In the final days before Florida’s August primary election, conservative media personality and congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna hosted a free, open-to-the-public event with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who flew to Pinellas County, on Florida’s west coast, to meet and energize voters. The firebrand first-term congresswoman has faced condemnation from across the political spectrum for a series of remarks viewed as offensive by a wide swath of Jewish community leaders. In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch on Tuesday, Luna, who is running to represent Florida’s 13th District, stood by Greene and argued that her past comments may have been taken out of context, and that her support for Israel suggests she is not antisemitic.
Sharp contrast: “MTG did endorse me, and I was raised as a Messianic Jew by my father,” said Luna, who added that she identifies as a Christian. “I am also a small fraction Ashkenazi. If she were antisemitic, why did she endorse me?” Luna’s embrace of Greene and of conspiracy theories about 2020 election fraud set up a sharp contrast with her Democratic opponent, Eric Lynn, a former Obama administration official who is Jewish.
Pointing red: Following redistricting, the St. Petersburg-centered district became significantly more favorable to Republicans. But a late October poll shows that Luna is running neck-and-neck with Lynn, a national security professional who served in the Department of Defense in former President Barack Obama’s administration. Luna has stuck to her hard-right messaging from the primary, while Lynn has tried to tack to the center to win over undecided voters.
Keeping quiet: Despite Luna’s ties to Greene, pro-Israel groups in the center and on the right have avoided getting involved. A PAC affiliated with the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has tried to unseat Greene, did not endorse Luna. The group’s executive director did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. Some AIPAC activists in the district recently held a fundraiser for Luna, although the pro-Israel organization’s political action committee has not endorsed either candidate. “The pro-Israel community has been involved in both sides in this race,” said a person with knowledge of the race. Democratic Majority for Israel PAC endorsed Lynn, as did the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Calling out: As a senior advisor at the Defense Department, Lynn, who is 42, worked closely on the development of Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, and he pledged to support U.S. assistance for Israel while in Congress at a time when far-left opponents of Israel have gained a foothold in the Democratic Party. “I will not be shy about my views or my criticism of those that oppose support for Israel,” Lynn told JI on Monday. “Should there be antisemitism within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, then I will speak out against it. It is something that must be addressed, must have a light shone on it.”
Gottheimer urges Department of Education to investigate Berkeley law school
Congressional pressure is emerging for action against student groups at the University of California, Berkeley Law School that voted in August to adopt bylaws barring pro-Israel speakers, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is urging the Department of Education to investigate the school for potential violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, following a statement on the issue from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) on Monday.
Letter writing: A letter sent by Gottheimer to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and obtained by JI said that while the individual students have First Amendment rights, groups chartered by a university that receive university funds or taxpayer dollars are barred from discriminating against students on the basis of protected characteristics. A 2019 executive order, also referenced by Gottheimer, specified that antisemitic discrimination is barred under Title VI.
Digging in: Gottheimer requested a report from the department on whether federal funding is going to the student groups in question. “It is important to send a clear message that all students and community members, including those who are Jewish, will not be singled out, penalized, or made to feel unwelcome at UC Berkeley,” the New Jersey congressman wrote. “I respectfully ask you to report to Congress on whether and how federal taxpayer dollars are used to discriminate against Jewish and pro-Israel students at UC Berkeley.”
Previously on: Gottheimer is the second congressional Democrat to speak out on the issue this week. Sherman, who represents a Los Angeles-area district, said in a lengthy statement on Monday that he was “outraged and disappointed” by the move, adding that “for too long, we have given antisemitism a pass when its proponents label it as anti-Zionism.” He urged UC Berkeley to pull the clubs’ funding and registration unless they repealed the anti-Israel bylaws.
on the racetrack
Russian-Israeli race car driver makes F1 debut
Robert Shwartzman has been fascinated by speed since the first time he jumped behind the wheel of a kart at age 4. Born in Israel but raised in Russia, Shwartzman has excelled through the ranks of Formula racing, collecting wins and earning titles as he raced his way toward the big leagues of Formula One. That dream became reality on Oct. 21, when the 23-year-old made his F1 debut during the first practice session of the 2022 United States Grand Prix at Texas’ Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel reports.
Ahead of the pack: A test driver for team Ferrari, Shwartzman beat out three other debuting rookies — Alex Palou for McLaren, Theo Pourchaire for Alfa Romeo and Logan Sargeant, who is an American, for Williams — finishing 16th out of 20, ahead of Palou’s 17th, Pourchaire’s 18th, and Sargeant’s 19th. “It was awesome to be honest,” Shwartzman said in a post-race interview, “it was awesome and hard. Obviously, I haven’t driven the car in a while. This year, most of my work was on the sim [simulator], which, obviously, you know, your body forgets all the feelings [of real racing], so driving the real car, getting the real bumps, the G-forces, was something very, very new.”
Practice makes perfect: Each F1 team is allowed two competing drivers on their rosters, though they may also keep additional reserve and test drivers like Shwartzman. New 2022 regulations require each team to swap in a rookie for two FP1 sessions throughout the season, according to the official Formula One website — in order to qualify, the drivers must not have completed two grand prix.
User update: The race also marked a change in Shwartzman’s operating status. The dual citizen, who had been competing under a Russian racing license until this year, switched to an Israeli license, which he will use from now on. The change was due to a new rule issued by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile — the governing body of F1 racing — in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stating that Russian drivers must “run under a neutral flag” in order to compete.
Wunderkind: Some of Shwartzman’s pre-F1 accolades include: the FIA Formula 3 Championship title in 2019, fourth place at the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship and second place at the F2 championship in 2021. He’s also been a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2017. Despite not adding another first-place finish to his collection, Shwartzman already has hope for his next race.
❌ No Deal: In The Hill, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Khosrow Semnani call on the Biden administration to rule out a new nuclear agreement with Iran, citing the recent protests that have swept the Islamic republic. “The next time this administration attempts to revive a deal with the Iranian regime, we must remember the faces of the brave Iranian women as they stood up against their oppressors. They risked their lives pursuing the freedoms and values that make up the foundation of our republic. They fight for free speech, the freedom to determine their destiny and to worship as their conscience dictates. We must ask ourselves if it’s right to legitimize a regime capable of inflicting cruelty and violence on their people because they pursued values so familiar to ours.” [TheHill]
🎓 Campus Beat: In The New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer looks at the steps that Stanford University plans to take to address historical antisemitism on the campus, and suggests the school would be well-served to teach its students Jewish history. “Paradoxically, ignorance is flourishing at a time when many students seem more interested than ever in history. They are dismayed that their dormitories and classroom buildings are named after slaveholders, and they know that there is something problematic about Christopher Columbus, even if they can’t always say what. These students are ill-served by curriculums that have downgraded the study of history, literature and philosophy. Narrow-mindedness hurts us all, not only Jews. But encouraging and empowering students to discuss the history of Jews — to know anything about Jews — is the one indispensable way for schools to atone for their antisemitic past. I suspect that more Stanford students have learned about antisemitism from their school’s mea culpa than from classes they’ve taken there.” [NYTimes]
🎭 Being Frank About Antisemitism: In an interview with Vogue’s Marley Marius, actor Ben Platt discusses his upcoming portrayal of Leo Frank in the upcoming New York City Center production of “Parade,” a musical by Alfred Uhry based on the trial and 1915 lynching of Frank, a Jewish community leader in Atlanta. “I think in the lore of this show and the case, and he being a Jew, he’s first and foremost introduced as a victim, and that’s how he is essentially assigned to history,” Platt said. “And of course he is, but what I find really interesting and compelling about playing him, both in terms of who he really was and in terms of the show, is that he was not necessarily this warm, easy, nebbishy person all the time. He could be very hard and could be cold and had trouble connecting and expressing himself. And so to marry that with some of the letters that exist between him and Lucille, and how loving they are and how much compassion and just humanity there clearly was in that marriage, I think that’s been really wonderful, to get to play this very human drama in the midst of these big ideas like antisemitism and hate and patriotism.” [Vogue]
🎓 Quota Conundrum: In Slate, Jerome Karabel compares the discrimination alleged by Asian American students in a current Supreme Court case to the historic quotas placed on Jewish students at institutions of higher learning. “Unlike affirmative action, which the Students for Fair Admissions, or SFFA, wants to eliminate, the quotas against Jews were enacted for purposes of exclusion — part of a larger xenophobic and antisemitic movement that resulted in the highly restrictive Immigration Act of 1924. In sharp contrast, affirmative action policies at Harvard and elsewhere were enacted during the civil rights movement for purposes of inclusion — to increase the number of Black students and later Latinos and Native Americans, who had historically not had the opportunity to attend institutions like Harvard. As late as 1960, Harvard enrolled just nine black students in a freshman class of 1,212, Yale five in a class of 1,000, and Princeton a total of one in a class of 826.” [Slate]
👭🏽 At the Table: In the latest installment of Politico‘s “15 Conversations” series, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield talks to Gayle Smith, a former USAID administrator, President Joe Biden’s global COVID response coordinator and now head of the ONE Campaign, about being lone women in a male-dominated field and the hopes they harbor for the young generation of female leaders. “Gayle Smith: ‘[I]ran has been a foreign policy challenge for as long as I can remember. And here you finally have something happening which is fundamentally political. I mean, in the small ‘p’ sense, right? It’s citizens. It’s women and girls of all ages saying ‘enough,’ like, ‘we’re not doing this.’ And I think that gives us an opportunity, not just, as you say, to stand with them, but to send a message that even in politics and in all these countries, women are a powerful force. I mean, you remember, we both worked on Liberia for a long time. That agreement that finally came about that led to a woman becoming the president of Liberia (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf). Women had a whole lot to do with those negotiations. But I think usually politics, foreign policy is talked about as though it’s just men.’” [Politico]
Around the Web
🔴 On Alert: The U.S. and some countries in the Middle East are on high alert after Saudi Arabia shared intelligence warning of an imminent Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Ξ Crypto Candidates: Coindesk looks at efforts by cryptocurrency leaders to back congressional candidates who back policies favorable to the industry.
📱 Taming Twitter: The Secure Community Network penned a letter to Elon Musk, asking the new Twitter owner to address unmoderated antisemitism on the platform.
👎 Ye Woes: GoFundMe removed a campaign created by Kanye West fans to fundraise for the embattled artist hours after its launch, while former President Donald Trump said in an interview that West made “rough statements” about Jewish people.
🏀 Tough Talk: Former NBA player Charles Barkley said Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving should have been suspended for tweeting a link to an antisemitic film, and branded him an “idiot.”
💼 Next Steps: Former CNN executive Jeff Zucker is reportedly in talks to head RedBird Capital Partner’s Gerry Cardinale’s sports investment fund.
🎭 Wherefore Art…: A new stage adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” which portrays Juliet as a Jewish girl and Romeo as a member of Hitler Youth, was pulled by London’s Icarus Theatre Collective following controversies over the setting of the play as well as its lack of Jewish actors.
🍏 Moving In: Apple is reportedly among the first tenants in a new industrial zone being constructed in Riyadh to attract foreign companies and investment.
🛢️ Fruitless Mission: The United Arab Emirates sent its national security adviser to Riyadh in September to try to dissuade the crown prince from pushing an oil-production cut, The Wall Street Journal reports.
💣 Missile Transfer: Officials from an unnamed Western country warned that Iran is readying 1,000 additional weapons, including short-range ballistic missiles, for transfer to Russia to aid in Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
🏫 Student Strikes: Iranian college students are participating in sit-down strikes across the country, as discontent with the country’s ruling class intensifies.
🚓 Vehicular Attack: An IDF officer was seriously wounded in a car-ramming attack near Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.
🌊 Quiet Seas: Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister said that the recently inked maritime deal with Israel will not be impacted by the recent Israeli elections, due to U.S. assurances in the agreement.
🕯️ Remembering: Oleksandr Marinchenko, a former fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, died at 37. Michael Reiner, founder and president of the LEAD Foundation and general representative of the Koret Foundation in Israel, died on Monday.
Pic of the Day
Eyal Golan’s newest release, “Panther.”
Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink turns 70…
Former NASA astronaut who made five flights in the space shuttle and is currently a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, he was one of NASA’s first two Jewish astronauts, Jeffrey A. Hoffman turns 78… County executive of Montgomery County, Md., Marc Elrich turns 73… Former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and vice chair of the DNC, Susan Wolf Turnbull turns 70… Professor of Jewish studies at the University of Virginia, Vanessa L. Ochs turns 69… Research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Alan D. Abbey… CNN special correspondent, Jamie Sue Gangel turns 67… Former head of school at Weizmann Day School in Los Angeles, Lisa Feldman… Professor of Jewish history at UCLA and president of the board of the New Israel Fund, David N. Myers turns 62… Financial planner at Grant Arthur & Associates Wealth Services, he is the author of a book on the complicity of Lithuania in the Holocaust, Grant Arthur Gochin… President of global content at Viva Creative, Thomas Joseph (Joe) Talbott… Marc Solomon… Managing director of government affairs at Microsoft Azure, John Sampson turns 56… Actor, director and producer, best known for playing Ross Geller in the sitcom “Friends,” David Schwimmer turns 56… Former assistant attorney general for antitrust at USDOJ during the Trump administration, now a partner at Latham & Watkins, Makan Delrahim turns 53… Professor of economics at MIT, she won a MacArthur “Genius” fellowship in 2018, Amy Nadya Finkelstein turns 49… Founder and CEO of Spring Hills Senior Communities, Alexander C. Markowits… Journalist and bestselling author, he is the publisher of The Daily Poster and a columnist at The Guardian, David Sirota turns 47… Eastern director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Michael Cohen… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Alexander Kushnir turns 44… Education editor for The Washington Post, Adam B. Kushner turns 42… Marc B. Rosen… Director of government relations at the Israel Policy Forum, Aaron Weinberg… Two-time Emmy award-winning video producer, now working as a staff editor for the home page of The New York Times, Celeste B. Lavin turns 32…