👋 Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we preview the possible outcomes of today’s election in Israel and look at the United Democracy Project’s involvement in the Pennsylvania congressional race between Summer Lee and Mike Doyle. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Annette Taddeo, David Geffen and Shalom Lipner.
Just outside Jerusalem, in the small town of Mevaseret Zion – the place where this election’s most controversial figure, Itamar Ben-Gvir, was raised – the scene at one of the local polling stations is “election business as usual,” Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports. A steady flow of voters arrived to exercise their democratic right, but outside there was far less fanfare and action than in previous election cycles. Only four out of the multiple parties had bothered to set up campaign tables outside and string up their campaign posters.
The parties canvassing for votes at this polling station were fairly divided between the pro- and anti-Netanyahu camps, with representatives of the former prime minister and opposition leader’s Likud party and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party standing beside campaigners for Meretz and Benny Gantz’s National Unity party, who appeared to be vying for ballots from disaffected Likud supporters. Conspicuously absent was Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Labor, even though one of its ministers lives just down the street, as well as representatives of Ben-Gvir’s Religious Zionism camp, who have been actively out on the streets of Jerusalem for the past few days.
Meanwhile, in the predominantly liberal and secular “medinat Tel Aviv” (“state of Tel Aviv”), a polling station at a high school in the north of the city was bustling as the young, elderly and their dogs streamed in to cast their votes as children played outside, enjoying the election day national holiday, JI’s Tamara Zieve reports. A Yesh Atid stand manned by energetic volunteers who blared upbeat campaign music contributed to a buzzing atmosphere on a drizzly day, which had been expected to be met by voter apathy. Meretz and Labor were also represented with campaign tables, in addition to sleepier National Unity and Likud stands. A passing truck driver yelled out “Bibi!” over the Yesh Atid tune.
There was a strong presence of elderly voters, presumably emanating from the nearby retirement home. Young voters often visit the polling stations later in the day, making the most of their day off beforehand.
In a polling station in Ramat Gan, poll site workers joked that they considered themselves full-time employees after manning the polls for five elections in under four years.
By 10 a.m. local time, voter turnout was 15.9%, a 1% increase from the last election, according to the Central Elections Committee.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be honored tonight in New York by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at its annual “What You Do Matters” 2022 Northeast Tribute Dinner, where the Kraft family will receive the National Leadership Award. Past recipients of the award include Rosanna Arquette, Sir Ben Kingsley and Howard Lorber.
a national sport
Four possible outcomes for Israel’s election
With a deadlocked Israeli electorate heading to the polls today for the fifth time in less than four years, the Jewish state appears to have made a national sport out of general elections. And what’s a sport without the art of speculating about who might come out on top? In an attempt to make sense of what could be the closest vote of the recent elections – with little change to the two main political blocs – pollsters, pundits and the public are hedging their bets on who, if anyone, might actually win this time, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Hung parliament: Pollsters, who carried out 15 surveys in the final week before the election, published their final round of results on Friday night, in accordance with Israeli law, which dictates that no polls can be published within three days of an election. According to the numbers, there is unlikely to be any dramatic change to the country’s political makeup, and no party or bloc – pro-Netanyahu vs. anti-Netanyahu – appears strong enough to clinch the election outright.
Frontrunner: According to the poll published by Israel’s Channel 12 News, Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and his right-wing configuration of parties (Religious Zionism, Shas, United Torah Judaism) have the best chance of forming a coalition government, although the bloc is predicted to garner only 60 seats.
Problematic polls: “I look at the polls and I am not sure that they can be accurate because there are two groups of people that it’s very hard to poll,” professor Gideon Rahat, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and a member of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem faculty, told JI. “First, it’s the ultra-Orthodox, and I suspect what the pollsters have done is look at the previous election and give the ultra-Orthodox parties the same support because their voters are stable,” he continued, raising the question of where support for Religious Zionism, led by far-right politicians Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, has come from.
UDP renews opposition to Summer Lee as Pittsburgh House race appears to tighten
United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC, has reemerged in a Pittsburgh-area House race, recently spending about $80,000 on mailers targeting the Democratic nominee, state Rep. Summer Lee, after a bitterly contested primary during which the group invested millions in an effort to oppose her candidacy, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
‘Too extreme’: The new mailer, which was shared with JI, accuses Lee of holding views that are “too extreme” for Pennsylvania’s redrawn 12th Congressional District, displaying some of her past social media statements to suggest the progressive Democrat is in favor of defunding the police and abolishing prison, among other things. “Summer Lee is so extreme she wants to ‘totally dismantle’ the Democratic Party,” the mailer reads.
Unexpected confusion: The rhetoric is reminiscent of ads UDP ran during the May primary, when the group spent nearly $3 million while backing Lee’s opponent, Steve Irwin, a Jewish Democrat in Pittsburgh. Even as UDP had sought to cast Lee as hostile to Biden administration policies, the group now hopes to clear a path for the Republican nominee, Mike Doyle, who shares a name with the retiring Democratic incumbent, sowing unexpected voter confusion as the race appears to have tightened before next Tuesday’s election.
Party switch: While the party switch drew fiercecriticism from Lee as well as her supporters, Patrick Dorton, a spokesperson for UDP, explained the about-face as an effort “to build the broadest bipartisan pro-Israel coalition in Congress possible.” Dorton claimed that Lee’s Middle East policy views — she has expressed support for conditioning U.S. aid to Israel, among other things — “are out of the mainstream for Democrats in the district.” He added: “This is a race with a clear contrast between a pro-Israel candidate and an anti-Israel candidate in Summer Lee, who clearly will be a critic of the U.S.-Israel relationship in Congress.”
Promising poll? Until this week, UDP had only invested in one other general election matchup. But the group recently determined it was worth revisiting the Pittsburgh contest after commissioning a poll that showed “a very competitive race,” according to Dorton, who declined to share the poll with JI or characterize its results on the record. He claimed that UDP had “closely monitored a number of contests in the general election” and would not have entered the race if it did not believe it could make an impact. “We don’t get involved in races where we don’t think we can make a difference.”
‘No movement’ on Iran deal, ‘it’s not on our agenda,’ envoy Malley says
Nuclear negotiations with Iran have been inactive for months, and it is not currently a U.S. priority to push them forward, Rob Malley, the U.S. special representative for Iran and lead U.S. negotiator for the nuclear talks, said on Monday, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Stuck: The talks have not advanced since late August or early September, Malley said, when Iran demanded a concession “extraneous to the [nuclear deal] and which none of the other participants… would have said was a legitimate demand” to the European Union’s proposed framework, which many had thought could lead to a finalized agreement. “It’s really not our focus right now, it’s not on the agenda because nothing has changed,” Malley said in a virtual interview with Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “So we’re not going to focus on something that is inert when other things are happening.”
Shifting focus: The U.S. envoy described the mass protests inside Iran and Tehran’s decision to provide drones to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as more significant recent developments, and as the U.S.’ primary focus with regard to Washington’s Iran policy. “If nothing’s going to happen, we’re going to spend our time where we can be useful,” Malley explained. “We’re going to continue to use our sanctions and other pressure tools to make sure that Iran can’t acquire nuclear weapons. And we’re going to focus on areas where we can be effective at this time.”
Reframing: Malley suggested that the nuclear talks are one of multiple options and tools being pursued by the Biden administration, claiming that the administration and the media have failed to “fully” present the administration’s Iran strategy. “President Biden said during the campaign, and since he’s been in office, that we believe that he is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and that diplomacy is the best way to do that, and so we will pursue it without apology,” Malley said. “At the same time, as I said, we will use other tools and, in last resort, a military option if necessary, to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. So what we had done since the early days of the administration was see whether a diplomatic path was available… Several times we came very close. And each time we came close, Iran came up with a new extraneous demand that derailed the talks.”
Mea culpa: Malley again apologized for a tweet earlier this month in which he said that Iranians were demanding that the regime “respect their human rights and dignity.” Malley faced criticism from Iranian activists in the diaspora for what they said was a mischaracterization of the protesters’ demands. “It was a mistake… it’s not something that I should do, particularly because it was viewed as diminishing the demands of the protesters,” Malley said. “And so what I said and what I’ll say again today: it’s not up to us. It’s not up to me to characterize what the people on the streets of Iran — particularly the women — are demonstrating what they want… The Iranian people will determine their future.”
Los Angeles, Md.’s Montgomery County Council to consider antisemitism resolutions
The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote today on a resolution adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. “A crucial first step in fighting antisemitism is defining it in a way that reflects the lived experiences of Jewish people,” reads a letter, authored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and signed by more than four dozen rabbis and area Jewish groups, expressing support for the measure. A source familiar with the matter told Jewish Insider they expect the resolution — which was introduced weeks after a leaked tape showed several council members speaking disparagingly about minority groups, including Latinos and Jews — to pass by a large margin.
On the East Coast: Meanwhile, Maryland’s Montgomery County Council will also debate a resolution condemning antisemitism today following months of behind-the-scenes negotiations over the resolution’s language on Israel and anti-Zionism, JI’s Gabby Deutch reports. The council was initially slated to vote on the resolution, which would have adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, in July. But the body delayed its consideration in light of pressure from progressive activists who objected to the IHRA definition’s assertion that anti-Zionism can be antisemitic.
Simple changes: “We made simple changes,” said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, which originally advocated for the resolution along with the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee. The new text of the resolution says the council “affirms,” rather than “adopts,” the IHRA definition, and it is only to be used as a non-legally binding framework. It also states that criticism of Israeli policies is not antisemitic, although anti-Zionism can be.
Making sacrifices: Hadar Susskind, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now and a Montgomery County resident, is a critic of the IHRA definition who worked with Jewish community members to reach a compromise on the resolution. APN urged its members to lobby against the resolution in its original form over the summer, but now it has dropped its official objections. “Compromises were made,” said Susskind.
Pressure campaign: On Monday, a group of 38 local and national left-wing organizations came out against the resolution and urged supporters to lobby against it. Signatories included local chapters of the Council on American Islamic Relations, IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace and Democratic Socialists of America. CAIR, which has been pressuring the council to reject the resolution since the summer, has said it will not support any resolution that mentions the IHRA definition.
🗳️ Bibi’s Bet: In Foreign Policy, Shalom Lipner, who worked for 26 years in the Prime Ministers Office, looks at the conundrum facing former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu as Israelis cast their ballots. “Judging from experience, Netanyahu is deploying a multidimensional strategy. The totality of its elements, he is hoping, will afford him the latitude to embrace the Religious Zionism alliance as a partner and emerge intact from the affair. He’ll be using the same playbook that served him nominally well during his combined 15 years as premier. (I staffed 10 of them.)” [FP]
🎁 Geffen’s Gifts:The New York Times‘ Adam Nagourney spotlights philanthropist and entertainment mogul David Geffen, who has given $1.2 billion to institutions around the nation. “Associates said that Geffen’s background in business and culture, and particularly music, drives his philanthropic choices. ‘He comes from the music business,’ said David Bohnett, another philanthropist based in New York and Los Angeles. ‘You grow up around music, you grow up around entertainment, it just seems logical that you are going to put your name on theaters and music halls and museums.’… As he approaches his 80th birthday, and with over $7 billion left, Geffen is contemplating his mortality and his legacy, his friends say. Yet on Wednesday night in New York, when he finally rose from his chair at the gala marking the opening of the latest building bearing his name, he seemed taken aback by the intensity of the applause. He just smiled slightly and sat down, without saying a word.” [NYTimes]
🗳️ N.Y. State of Mind: In The New York Times, pollster Mark Penn suggests that the political environment in New York may favor Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) in his challenge to Gov. Kathy Hochul. “New York hasn’t had a hotly competitive governor’s race since 1994, a year like this one when many voters were frustrated with one-party Democratic rule in Washington, and crime and economic issues were top concerns for the electorate. Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress that year, and in New York, Republican George Pataki toppled Gov. Mario Cuomo. The headwinds now facing Ms. Hochul and Democratic incumbents nationwide are in some ways worse, with high inflation hurting voters and an overwhelmed immigration system that is now making life more chaotic in American cities.” [NYTimes]
🇮🇷 A Female Fight:Foreign Affairs explores the significance and potential ramifications of the female leadership of the Iranian anti-regime protests. “From the start, women have set the tone of these protests and have found innovative ways to register their anger with the government. Although men have also participated in large numbers, they have done so in the name of Amini and by embracing more feminist rhetoric than ever before. In this way, women’s organizing and outrage have laid the groundwork for a much wider pro-democratic uprising. This is a moment of great hope but also great worry. Although the extensive frontline participation of women in protest movements often makes them more effective, it also raises the stakes dramatically. Should the Iranian regime defeat today’s protesters, an even deeper patriarchal backlash could follow, potentially setting back Iranian women’s rights and political freedom by decades.” [ForeignAffairs]
Around the Web
👍 Florida Endorsement: Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Cava Levine announced she is endorsing Annette Taddeo in the Florida legislator’s challenge to Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.
📢 Back on the Trail: Former President Barack Obama plans to campaign in Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania this week after rallies in Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, in an effort to boost Democratic turnout in the closest Senate races.
✡️ Speaking Up: Jewish leaders expressed concern over antisemitic comments made by associates or supporters of GOP candidates, after Jewish Insiderrevealed remarks made by a former staffer for the campaign of Adam Laxalt, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Nevada.
🏀 Fan Fury: A group of Jewish Brooklyn Nets fans wore “fight antisemitism” T-shirts at at the Brooklyn-Indiana game last night at the Barclays Center, in protest of a tweet by Nets point guard Kyrie Irving sharing a link to a film slammed as being filled with antisemitic disinformation.
🕵️ Saudi Stake: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said yesterday that he was requesting that the Committee on Foreign Investment conduct an investigation into the national security implications of Saudi Arabia’s stake in Twitter.
✔️ Ratings Row: The Morningstar investment firm, which has been accused of anti-Israel bias, will make significant changes to the risk ratings it assigns to companies doing business in and with Israel.
🛍️ Nazi Collectibles For Sale: A New Orleans knick-knack shop is under fire for selling Nazi and Confederate memorabilia.
🚫 Ye Suspended: Instagram has suspended Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, for 30 days over a post about “Jewish business people,” the rapper said in a post on the far-right social media platform, Parler.
🚘 Drive for Truth: An 18-month research project into the life of Porsche co-founder Adolf Rosenberger, who was largely removed from the public history of the auto company, was commissioned by Porsche and Rosenberger’s descendants.
🛢️Doubling Down: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates defended a decision by OPEC to cut oil production at a conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday, while U.S. Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein warned of global economic uncertainty. Meanwhile, the UAE and the U.S. have signed an agreement to invest $100 billion to produce 100 gigawatts of clean energy globally by 2035.
👨⚖️ Tehran Trials: Iranian authorities will hold public trials for 1,000 people in Tehran over the anti-regime demonstrations that have rocked the country.
🤔 Classifications: The European Union is considering categorizing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
📱 TikTok Terror: In Calcalist, Eitan Goldstein shares how quickly some dabbling in TikTok videos, albeit with a mission and some basic knowledge of algorithms, led him to content from the Lion’s Den terror group, including how to make pipe bombs.
📽️ Doco Dispute: The New Yorkerspotlights a disagreement between famed Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi and a student who studied documentary filmmaking under him, who dispute the other’s claims over the origins of a documentary.
🪑 Empty Seat: Lebanese President Michel Aoun ended his six-year term on Sunday with no one to replace him.
🕯️ Remembering: Barbara Himmelrich, a former board chair of The Associated, died at 91.
Pic of the Day
Israeli President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog cast their votes today at a Jerusalem polling station in the elections for the 25th Knesset.
Former member of the Knesset, she is the first Ethiopian-born woman to hold a Knesset seat and the first to serve as a government minister, Pnina Tamano-Shata turns 41…
French economic and social theorist, he is the author of The Economic History of the Jewish People, Jacques Attali turns 79… Rabbi-in-residence of Baltimore’s 1,300-member Beth Tfiloh Congregation after more than 44 years as senior rabbi, Mitchell Wohlberg turns 78… Country singer, songwriter, novelist and humorist, Richard Samet “Kinky” Friedman turns 78… Pioneering investor in the personal computing industry, founder of Lotus and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mitch Kapor turns 72… Founding rabbi, now emeritus, at Beit T’Shuvah, a nonprofit Jewish addiction treatment center and synagogue community in Los Angeles, Mark Borovitz turns 71… Retired management analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy, Les Novitsky… Serial entrepreneur, Warren B. Kanders turns 65… Canadian real estate developer and philanthropist who made aliyah in 2015, Sylvan Adams turns 64… Special assistant to the city comptroller of New York, Pinchus Hikind… President of an eponymous auctioneering firm specializing in the appraisal and sale of antique Judaica, Jonathan Greenstein turns 55… Managing director for national affairs at AIPAC, Elliot Brandt… Actress, best known for her roles on “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” Alla Korot turns 52… Principal at Calabasas, Calif.-based CRC-Commercial Realty Consultants, he is a vice-chair of the real estate and construction division of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Brian Weisberg… Israeli director, screenwriter and actress, Dikla Elkaslassy turns 43… Associate in the DC office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Clare F. Steinberg… Israeli video blogger, journalist and business executive, Idan Matalon turns 34… AIPAC’s director of Westchester County (N.Y.) and nearby Riverdale, Annie Peck Watman… Reporter for CNN, Marshall J. Cohen… Law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Mitchell Caminer… Pitcher for Team Israel, he became an Israeli citizen in 2018, Gabe Cramer turns 28… Senior associate at Trepwise, Derek Brody… Actor since childhood, Max Burkholder turns 25…