👋 Good Thursday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the fallout from last week’s Ukraine letter from progressives in the House, and we get the details on the conversation between Elon Musk and top anti-hate groups. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Axios’ Josh Kraushaar, Dan Snyder and Amb. Ron Prosor.
Nearly 20 House lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to support calling a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate Iran’s human rights abuses, including its crackdown on nationwide protests and broader violations of women’s rights, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod has learned.
Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) led 15 colleagues on a communique, which will be sent to Secretary of State Tony Blinken and U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Thursday, calling on the “U.S., the UN, and the international community” “to work together to shine a light on serious human rights violations in Iran.”
Vice President Kamala Harrisannounced yesterday that the U.S. intends to have Iran removed from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. “Given Iran’s brutal crackdown on women and girls protesting peacefully for their rights, Iran is unfit to serve on this Commission,” Harris tweeted. “To the protestors: we see you and we hear you.”
With 93% of the votes counted in Israel’s general election, there is little change to the distribution of mandates. According to the current count, Likud will receive 31 seats, Yesh Atid 24 and Religious Zionism 14 — though the far-right party has been further strengthened by soldiers’ votes and could gain an extra seat. And on the left, the Meretz party has dropped further below the electoral threshold, weakening hopes that it will make it into the Knesset.
The Biden administration is unlikely to engage with Itamar Ben-Gvir, an outspoken and controversial leader of the Religious Zionism faction, two officials toldAxios.
State Department spokesperson Ned Pricesaid yesterday that while it was too early to speculate about the composition of the coalition, “What I would say is that what makes this relationship so strong and what has made it so strong since Israel’s independence to the present day is that this is a relationship that has always been based on our shared interests, but importantly our shared values. And we hope that all Israeli government officials will continue to share the values of an open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, particularly for minority groups.”
“I don’t think a formal decision is made because governments never decide unless they need to, as [the] coalition has not yet been formed [in Israel],” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s David Makovsky emailed us last night. “Yet I do believe [the U.S.] will not sit with him as he was convicted by an Israeli court for incitement. One shouldn’t forget the U.S. didn’t sit for 15 years with Ariel Sharon after the Lebanon War even though he was a cabinet minister for part of that time.”
A wave of terror attacks against Israelis continued today, as three police officers were wounded in a stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem, prompting Ben-Gvir to tweet, “the time has come to restore security to the streets, the time has come to make order here, the time has come for a landlord here, the time has come that a terrorist who goes out to carry out an attack is eliminated!”
Happening tonight: Peter Thiel, who has put millions behind Blake Masters’ Arizona Senate campaign, is hosting a fundraiser for the Republican candidate tonight in Phoenix.
Josh Kraushaar previews the midterms on Jewish Insider’s ‘Limited Liability Podcast’
With Congress set for a shakeup in next week’s midterm elections, experts are predicting a “red wave” that could see Republicans winning office across the board, including in historically blue states. Axios senior political correspondent Josh Kraushaar, joins Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” this week to analyze the many uncertainties on the ballot.
Toss-up territory: “The Senate is a toss-up with, I think it’s no worse than 50/50 for Republicans, but the trend lines and the wind and the momentum is certainly at the Republican Party’s back right now. Now, the problem for Republicans in the Senate is that they nominated some pretty extreme out-of-the-mainstream characters, whether you’re talking about Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, Blake Masters in Arizona, Herschel Walker in Georgia. So those are tests of whether the environment matters more, whether people just want to check, they don’t care about the candidates, they’re voting like this is a parliamentary system and they want Republicans to be in charge of the Senate, or whether these not-ready-for-primetime candidates will truly cost the Republicans either the Senate or at the very least some valuable seats in expanding their majority.”
On the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race: “Extremism does not sell politically in a general election. And whether you’re a far-right Republican like [Doug] Mastriano, or you’re a far-left candidate like Tina Kotek in Oregon or Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, you are paying a big political price — you’re not winning swing voters, you’re not winning people in the middle. So yeah, I mean, look, Mastriano has got the Republican right-wing base really excited, but he’s not spending much money, he’s not getting help from outside Republican groups. He’s said a whole bunch of antisemitic [things], or has been at least tied to a lot of antisemitic organizations, or Gab and other groups that are very extreme, and that is unacceptable for a lot of swing voters of the Philly suburbs [and] across the state of Pennsylvania… I expect a whole lot of people who vote for [Josh] Shapiro for governor and vote for Dr. [Mehmet] Oz for the [Pennsylvania] Senate race.”
Zeldin’s odds: “Look, I think [Lee] Zeldin is the underdog [in the New York governor’s race]. I’d be surprised if he wins. Yes, he’s a Trump Republican, but he doesn’t necessarily come across that way to your average New Yorker. He is one of the few Jewish Republicans in Congress, lives in the Long Island suburbs — he certainly was a leading advocate for Trump during, I guess it was the first impeachment, where he was front and center defending the president — but he doesn’t come across like [Ohio Rep.] Jim Jordan, he doesn’t come across like [Georgia Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene, and that’s part of his political appeal, that he’s not alienating the base, but he’s running on the issues that a lot of New Yorkers care about. And one of the interesting things about this campaign, guys, is that he is spending more time in New York City than any other Republican maybe since [former New York Mayor Rudy] Giuliani.”
What does the botched Ukraine letter mean for congressional progressives’ foreign policy agenda?
The House Congressional Progressive Caucus’s retracted letter last week urging direct talks with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine rapidly turned into a public embarrassment, with Democrats across the spectrum — including some of the letter’s most prominent signatories — distancing themselves from the letter or disavowing it entirely. But the impact of the incident could prove more far-reaching for House progressives, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The fallout could, at least in the short term, prove to both dissuade some progressives from advocacy on foreign policy issues, as well as make others in the party less eager to engage with progressives on foreign policy, some analysts and former Democratic staffers told JI.
Step back: Joel Rubin, a former deputy assistant secretary of state who led Jewish outreach for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2020 presidential campaign, noted that “progressives have not historically made foreign policy their highest priority,” and said they now run the risk of rolling that involvement back further. “I think it’s going to make them very hesitant to speak up, even though we really do need that voice in the mix,” Rubin continued.
Across the board: One former Democratic congressional staffer, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about members of Congress, predicted that the incident could have broader ripple effects on foreign policy well beyond the Progressive Caucus, emphasizing that they expect Democratic lawmakers and staff to apply a “stricter level of scrutiny” across the board on foreign policy issues especially. “Every member of staff is going to be wary the next time a letter like this comes along, you’re going to look at it much more closely. Your instinct right now is going to be — you’re almost going to have to prove that it’s worth doing,” they said.
Opposing view: But a second former Democratic congressional staffer was more skeptical that these events would have much impact on the signatories’ thinking. “The progressives who’ve signed that letter come from very safe districts and are pretty consistent on the foreign policy issues on which they engage,” they said. “I don’t believe they will be disabused from further engagement because of this mishap… It’s a small and marginalized group that is not particularly sensitive to the broader caucus or foreign policy implications of Democrats looking weak on foreign policy.”
Giving pause: The second staffer did, however, anticipate that it might make others outside of the 30 who signed the letter more hesitant to join with members of that group. “It will make people think twice about signing these kinds of letters, or at least make them think about the downside of something that looks pretty anodyne… after names 1-30, it will make names 30 to 100 think twice,” they explained.
ADL head ‘cautiously optimistic’ about Elon Musk’s approach to Twitter
In an hour-long Zoom meeting with the leaders of several prominent anti-hate groups, Elon Musk on Tuesday expressed a commitment to combating hate and incitement on Twitter, the social network he acquired last week. “What I heard was very encouraging, and I’m cautiously optimistic,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, a vocal critic of social media’s handling of hate speech and misinformation, told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch on Wednesday. But, he added, “actions speak louder than words.”
Coalition collaboration: A mutual acquaintance connected Greenblatt and Musk — the two had not met before — and Greenblatt arranged the meeting with leaders from Color of Change, the Asian American Foundation, the NAACP, Free Press, the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Under the microscope: Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has said for months that he wants Twitter to be more open to controversial ideas and to take more of a hands-off approach to content moderation. One of his first moves after taking over the company was to fire Twitter’s CEO and the company’s safety and security chief, who handled content moderation. Days later, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked in their San Francisco home over the weekend, Musk tweeted conspiracy theories about the attack.
Raising concerns: “We wanted to talk to Elon Musk because there have been a series of reports from all directions about what his plans are, and we felt it was critical to have him understand our concerns as a coalition of organizations,” explained Greenblatt, who pointed out that antisemitism and hate speech had flourished on the platform prior to Musk’s acquisition of the company.
Path forward: “We had, I think, legitimate concerns in light of the current operating environment, in light of what we’ve seen, to date, on Twitter, and in light of this difficult moment we’re in, I think, as a society,” added Greenblatt. Jessica González, co-CEO of the advocacy group Free Press, told New York magazine that Musk’s tone on the call was “sincere,” and said he appeared open to hearing the group’s concerns. “I think he believes in freedom of speech for all. The trick is how to get there. And I don’t know that he totally knows how to do that,” she said.
On the other hand: Some of the popular conservative accounts that cheered Musk’s takeover of Twitter criticized his call with the civil rights groups, The Washington Post reported. Hours after Musk’s meeting, Kanye West’s Twitter account was reinstated, and the artist shared a photo of basketball player Kyrie Irving, days after the Brooklyn Nets point guard tweeted antisemitic content.
Why environmental groups support the Israel-Lebanon gas deal
When Israel and Lebanon reached a historic agreement regarding their maritime border last week to open up drilling in two natural gas fields in the Mediterranean that were previously in disputed territory, the deal had unexpected supporters: two Israeli environmental groups, Melanie Lidman reports for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Opportunity knocks: In most places around the world, environmental activists are usually quick to condemn any new maritime gas announcements. But Israeli environmental groups that prioritize two of the agreements’ areas of focus, maritime issues and regional cooperation, applauded the deal, focusing on the opportunities that the agreement could inspire in other long-running conflicts in the region. “We want our electricity to come from renewable sources, but right now we’re in a time of transition,” explained Youval Arbel, the deputy director of Zalul, a nonprofit environmental group focused on seas and streams. “When you see what’s going on [economically] in Lebanon, you can understand the importance of what it would mean for them if they discover gas.”
Regional effort: For EcoPeace Middle East, an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian environmental group that works on cross-border initiatives, the deal is “a paradigm shift of diplomacy” that could usher in a new strategy for peace agreements in the region, Gidon Bromberg, the group’s Israeli co-director, told eJP, even though he said, “We understand that we need to stop burning fossil fuel, full stop.” Previously, he said, there was an expectation that negotiations would solve all the problems all at once, achieving full recognition and peace, which was the format of Israel’s peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt in the 20th century, and is the principle that guided the Abraham Accords, the recent Israeli normalization deals with the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. “However, it’s not the only model, and what the Lebanon-Israel agreement on the maritime border shows us is that two countries that don’t have a peace treaty, that haven’t been able to agree on all the issues that divide them, were still willing to agree on one particular issue of mutual concern they recognized was so important to both of them,” Bromberg said.
Read the full story here and sign up for eJewishPhilanthropy’s “Your Daily Phil” here.
🇸🇦🇺🇸 Saudi Strain: In the Wall Street Journal, Karen Elliott House looks at the current state of relations between President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman following months of heightened tensions between the two governments. “The U.S.-Saudi leadership war has gotten out of hand. Even during the 1973 embargo, the kingdom made sure the U.S. military had all the oil it needed. After the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, President George W. Bush and King Abdullah worked to keep the vital relationship on track. A similar attitude is needed now. The Saudi government has the right to make a priority of high oil revenue, which funds its expensive economic reform plans. But the kingdom’s leaders shouldn’t be surprised if some Americans see that decision as unmindful — if not ungrateful. After all, the U.S. literally saved the Saudi oil fields from Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War.” [WSJ]
🏀 Point (Guard) of Contention: The New York Times’ Kurt Streeter considers whether the Brooklyn Nets erred in firing coach Steve Nash while keeping on point guard Kyrie Irving, who has drawn criticism for promoting antisemitic content. “Irving’s offensive posts, while no longer online, are clearly overshadowing the Nets, and the league. Some courtside fans wore T-shirts reading ‘Fight Antisemitism’ at a home game Monday against the Indiana Pacers, and [Nets General Manager Sean] Marks said that the team has been asking for advice from the Anti-Defamation League. He would not say if Irving has been part of those conversations… Irving, the Nets point guard, is a basketball star with a megaphone. Nike sponsors him and produces his signature shoe. He is a vice president of the N.B.A. players’ union. He is not only a regular in the nationally televised sports firmament, he has 22 million followers on Twitter and Instagram. He can use his platform for good, which he has done as one of the many famed Black athletes who stood against injustice during the tumult of 2020 following the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. But he can also do as he is now — use his status to inject poison into our world.” [NYTimes]
🪧 Simple Gifts: In The Atlantic, Roya Hakakian suggests that the U.S. does not fully understand the drivers of the Iranian protests or the challenges faced by Ukraine in their respective fights. “Now, finally, after this decades-long delay, everyone has joined the women on the streets — and for the very demand of freedom that some had the courage to make so long ago. This time, no grandiose ideological delusion leads the protesters, only a desire for what they call ‘a normal life.’ Last month, an Iranian singer named Shervin Hajipour created a song from a compilation of tweets people had posted, explaining why they were rising up — ‘for clean air … to walk a pet dog, to kiss on the street without fear, for the hope of a future.’ These basic longings are the clearest signs of how far Iran has traveled from its past ideological zealotry to wanting the individual freedoms that made up the vision of American democracy that George Washington championed when, in 1790, he sent a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island: ‘Every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid,’ he wrote. These are the same simple joys that Ukrainians are fighting for and that Iranians are marching for.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🟢 Green Talk: President Joe Biden spoke with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to celebrate the clean energy cooperation agreement the two countries signed earlier this week.
📽️ Role Playing: The Washington Post spotlights a film about the Holocaust in which Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano plays a role, which has drawn criticism for its portrayal of Christian themes.
👍👍 Split Endorsements: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and GOP challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) both notched endorsements from Jewish community leaders, with Zeldin picking up support from 20 Jewish groups and yeshivas in Brooklyn, and Hochul receiving the backing of the Satmar community in Kiryas Joel and the leaders of the Hasidic village of New Square.
🖌️ No Roses: The Staten Island headquarters of former Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who is challenging Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) was defaced with antisemitic graffiti.
📺 TV Talk: CNN’s Jake Tapper is set to return to a 4 p.m. timeslot from his current 9 p.m. one after the midterms, complicating CEO Chris Licht’s plans for post-election coverage on the network.
🏦 For Sale: Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder hired Bank of America “to consider potential transactions” following an internal investigation that found that Snyder mishandled the team and fostered a “toxic work environment.”
💵 Ye Pays: Legal documents obtained by NBC News indicate that Kanye West had settled with a former employee who alleged the artist praised Hitler and made antisemitic statements in professional environments.
✡️ Never Forget: California Gov. Gavin Newsom named nine individuals, including American Jewish University’s Michael Berenbaum and the USC Shoah Foundation’s Kori Street, to the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education.
🇸🇦 Royal Crackdown: The Associated Press reports on a member of the Saudi royal family living in the U.S. who was imprisoned in the Gulf nation during a trip back home, over his criticism of the country’s government.
🤝 End of Conflict: The Ethiopian government and Tigray rebel forces agreed to end the civil war that has dragged on in the East African nation for two years.
👨✈️ Flight Flub: The IDF said that a lone soldier was aboard a flight last week from Uzbekistan to Dubai that was forced to make an emergency medical landing in Iran after the pilot lost consciousness.
➡️ Transition: Molly Jong-Fast is joiningVanity Fair as a special correspondent covering culture and politics.
🕯️ Remembering: Bernard Rosen, a budget advisor to four New York City mayors, died at 91.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Ambassador to Germany Ron Prosor gives a speech at Berlin’s city hall during a posthumous ceremony on Wednesday in honor of four German “Righteous Among the Nations”: Bruno and Anna Schwartze and Friedrich and Helene Huebner.
Former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, he is the founder of Compass Coffee, Michael Haft turns 36…
Chancellor emeritus of The Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also served as a professor of Jewish history, Ismar Schorsch, Ph.D., turns 87… Senior U.S. district judge in California, he is the younger brother of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Charles Breyer turns 81… Major League Baseball pitcher with more career victories (174) than any other Jewish pitcher, Ken Holtzman turns 77… U.S. senator, Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) turns 75… Resident of Great Barrington, Mass., and a part-time researcher at UC Berkeley, Barbara Zheutlin… Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine, professor at Yale University, James Rothman turns 72… Rabbi emeritus at Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields, Ill., Paul Caplan turns 70… Actress, comedian, writer and television producer, best known for the long-running and award-winning television sitcom “Roseanne,” Roseanne Barr turns 70… Comedian, talk show host, political and sports commentator, Dennis Miller turns 69… Manuscript editor and lecturer, author of books on the stigma of childlessness and on the Balfour Declaration, Elliot Jager turns 68… Award-winning Israeli photographer whose works have appeared in galleries in many countries, Naomi Leshem turns 59… Regional director of development for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Jeanne Epstein…
Co-founder and former CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, Michael Morhaime turns 55… Entrepreneur-in-residence at Loeb Enterprises II, he was previously co-chair of the board of the Yeshiva University Museum, Edward Stelzer… VP for federal affairs at CVS Health, she was the White House director of legislative affairs in the last year of the Obama administration, Amy Rosenbaum turns 51… Founder of AKM Consulting, providing fundraising consulting services to progressive candidates and nonprofit organizations, Amie Kershner… Partner at political consulting firm GDA Wins, Gabby Adler… Agent at Creative Artists Agency, Rachel Elizabeth Adler… Actress who won three Daytime Emmy Awards for her role on ABC’s “General Hospital,” Julie Berman turns 39… Director of corporate responsibility, communications and engagement at Southern Company Gas, Robin Levy Gray… Managing director at Guggenheim Partners, Rowan Morris… Executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, Yael Averbuch West turns 36… New York state senator, Michelle Hinchey turns 35… Former director for China in the White House’s National Security Council, Julian Baird Gewirtz turns 33… Director of data solutions at Civis Analytics, Ben Kirshner turns 30… MBA candidate at The Wharton School, Caroline Michelman turns 30… Former director of media outreach at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Noy Assraf Azran turns 27… Actress Diana Silvers turns 25… Stu Rosenberg…