👋 Good Monday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to Axios’ Barak Ravid about the outcome of last week’s elections in Israel and look at the evolving policy positions of Michigan Republican congressional candidate John Gibbs. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and marathon runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter.
Maccabee’s Kosher Deli in Des Moines is a hotspot for politicos and presidential hopefuls from around the country, who make their way to the Iowa capital to gauge their popularity with those Americans who are among the first to cast their primary ballots.
But on Friday afternoon, the most-recognized customer wasn’t a senator testing the waters or a local official, but Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who was in Iowa for the day. Emhoff spent more than an hour at Maccabee’s, which was opened 21 years ago by Rabbi Yossi Jacobson and his wife, Chana. The second gentleman, who was accompanied by Iowa native David Adelman, a principal with Cornerstone Government Affairs and the president of the foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, ordered the deli’s popular Roosevelt sandwich, a turkey-and-pastrami hybrid that the menu promises is a “hot and tasty solution for your hunger.”
“[Emhoff] was like, ‘A glatt kosher deli in Des Moines, Iowa?’” Jacobson told Jewish Insider last night. “I said, ‘To be normal today, you gotta do crazy things, you know?’”
Jacobson has “had almost every presidential candidate stop by his deli,” Adelman told JI, “and he just has conversations with them, as he told the second gentleman, ‘It’s not if you’re a Democrat or Republican, but we’re all human.’ And so the second gentleman and I had a half-pastrami, half-turkey on marble rye, and talked about antisemitism and ways to combat it and frankly bring people together… In Des Moines, what’s unique about the community that I live in is [that], because there isn’t a large Jewish population, we really do need to look for allies in the non-Jewish community to speak out against antisemitism. And so I think within the second gentleman’s role doing a lot of interfaith work and things of that nature, I think that really resonated with him.”
What we’re hearing: Voters in New York’s Rockland County received a curious robocall last night from an individual claiming to represent “our grand rabbis” in the Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel and asking residents to “show your support and vote for Sean Maloney for Congress.” The message, which was recorded in English, appears directed at an English-speaking audience.
The DCCC chair, the automated voice said, “has a proven record of standing up for our community and Kiryas Joel. He fought the surrounding towns and villages that were trying to block the expansion of multifamily housing in our community. He secured tens of millions of dollars to build low-income housing in our community. He promised our leaders that if elected he will do the same for communities in Rockland County. Please show your support and vote for Sean Maloney for Congress.”
Last month, Maloney accused GOP opponent, state Assemblymember Mike Lawler, of being involved in a 2019 ad released by the Rockland County Republican Party that was denounced by some as antisemitic for its scare-mongering portrayal of Orthodox Jews. (Lawler denied the charge.) Maloney’s campaign addressed the Sunday night robocall shortly after it went out.
“This robocall was not connected to or authorized by our campaign in any way, and it’s clearly another one of Lawler’s deceptive, antisemitic smear campaigns,” Mia Ehrenberg, Maloney’s campaign spokesperson, told us.
Rabbi Brian Leiken, the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Rockland, was one of the recipients of the robocall. “I received a really terrible robocall today with a fake message from the fake grand rabbi of Kiryas Joel trying to demean Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney by arguing that he supports overdevelopment etc.,” Leiken posted to Facebook. “Wherever we may stand politically, let’s all accept that this call is undoubtedly antisemitic and aimed at fear-mongering. I couldn’t believe it as I listened.”
One JI reader who received the robocall last night told us, “I don’t even know what to say. This s—t happens all the time in Rockland.”
Axios’ Barak Ravid joins ‘Limited Liability Podcast’ for a post-election recap
It’s looking like Benjamin Netanyahu will return to Israel’s top job, after beating Prime Minister Yair Lapid in last week’s election — the fifth in under four years. With the far-right Religious Zionism party on his side, as well as the Orthodox parties, Netanyahu looks set to form the “most right-wing, conservative, religious government” in Israel’s history. Israeli reporter Barak Ravid, a contributing correspondent at Axios, joined Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” this week for a frank discussion about the election and what it will mean for Israel’s future.
On the election’s results: “Other than the fact that Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc obviously won the election [and] is going to form the government, but the results were sort of similar to the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. Meaning, in the final results and when you look at the seats in the Knesset, Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc got 64 seats and Yair Lapid’s central-left bloc got 56 seats. But when you look at the popular vote, actually, the center-left was, depends how you count it, it was either literally a tie in the popular vote, or the center-left even got some more votes than the right-wing bloc… So, a lot of people saw the results of the elections as if it was, you know, this right-wing wave that swept the country. It’s not exactly that. Again, when you look at the popular vote, this country’s still very much divided, really 50/50 between the two sides of the political map.”
On Netanyahu’s ability to ‘stay on the wheel’: “The late Ariel Sharon, who was a very famous politician in Israel, was a prime minister, he said that the No. 1 rule in politics is always ‘stay on the wheel.’ Always stay on the wheel; one day you’re up, one day you’re down, but you’re still on the wheel. And I think that Bibi, he understood that — and by the way, he understood that quite late, because after he lost the first time, he left the wheel. He left the wheel, and it took him some time, he had to make much more efforts, much bigger efforts to go back on the wheel. And I think that this time, he realized that he must stay on the wheel.
Predictions for who might serve in the next government: “I think [former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.] Ron Dermer is going to make a comeback, with some kind of a role, maybe national security adviser… and Yariv Levin, Netanyahu’s key ally in the Likud, is most likely to be the minister of foreign affairs.”
Michigan GOP candidate John Gibbs has history of left-leaning views on crime, school choice, immigration
John Gibbs, the Republican candidate for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, once embraced left-leaning stances on policing and crime, public school vouchers and immigration, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod discovered in Gibbs’ past writings and online posts. Gibbs now aligns with the pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party, and successfully primaried moderate Rep. Peter Meijer (D-MI) from the freshman congressman’s right.
Policing: Gibbs appears to have been active on Google Groups forums around the summer of 1998, when he was a rising university sophomore. In one conversation, Gibbs highlighted statistics indicating systemic police biases against people of color, emphasizing, “it is a statistical fact that police pull over people of color more than whites… and, these pull-overs are not justified because someone’s statistic says that minorities commit more crimes.” He also argued that police officers who break the law are protected by “the good ol’ boys network [that] would cover his tracks and look the other way.” His campaign website highlights statistics indicating that Black people commit higher rates of murder and other crime.
Response: In a statement to JI, Gibbs did not specifically address any of his past comments. “It is no surprise that the media and Democrats are scraping the bottom of the barrel in an attempt to distract voters days out from an election. They tried this once before and it didn’t work,” Gibbs said in a statement. “This election is about rising prices at the gas pump and grocery store, rising crime, and our open borders. Hillary Scholten [his Democratic opponent] will continue the policies that led to these issues, while I will advocate for policies to lower prices, stop crime, and keep our borders secure. I won’t let these baseless attacks distract me from a victory on Tuesday.”
School vouchers: On Google Groups, Gibbs also argued against public school voucher programs. “I oppose these vouchers because they seem to sweep the problem under the rug, rather than address it directly. ‘Let all of the have’s get the he** outta here, and let all those have-not’s rot in their own he**?’” Gibbs wrote. “I don’t buy into this idea. Sometimes it takes an act of compassion to help those who apparently cannot help themselves. We should be using our resources to fix these schools that people are running away from, rather than running away from the problem altogether.” Gibbs now supports school choice.
In Pittsburgh House race, Jewish Democrats torn on backing Summer Lee
Just days before the midterms, United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC, is ramping up an 11th-hour ad offensive in a repeat effort to thwart state Rep. Summer Lee, a Democratic who narrowly withstood its attacks during a bruising House primary nearly six months ago. But the recent investment of more than $1 million in ads and direct mailers opposing Lee has also intensified a predicament for some moderate Jewish Democrats in Pennsylvania’s redrawn 12th Congressional District, who have been forced to weigh concerns with the direction of the Republican Party over their staunch support for Israel, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Competing concerns: While UDP supported a moderate Jewish Democrat, spending nearly $3 million on behalf of Steve Irwin, the bipartisan group has since thrown its weight behind the Republican candidate, Mike Doyle, in a reverse maneuver that could pay off amid favorable GOP headwinds. In recent interviews with JI, a few voters for whom Israel is usually a top issue said their continued reservations over Lee’s approach to Middle East policy — which includes conditioning U.S. security assistance to Israel — have now been outweighed by the prospect of a GOP victory, amid a resurgence of right-wing extremism that has intersected with antisemitism.
‘Bad for Israel’: “While Israel is a big motivating force for me right now, I’m thinking about election deniers,” said a Democratic activist in Pittsburgh. “The more important thing for me right now is to hold the House if we can. If this country is going to be ruined, it’s going to be really bad for Israel.” He hesitated, however, before admitting that he had already voted for Lee by mail, while requesting anonymity because he did not want his name attached to the statement. “Most of the people I know would just assume that we’ll have to deal with this for the next two years,” he said, imagining Lee’s first term in Congress. “I don’t know how much damage she can do in two years.”
Irwin speaks: In recent days, Irwin himself has publicly put his differences aside, pledging to vote for Lee in a Saturday tweet. “I’m supporting the Democratic ticket up and down because, in Pennsylvania, we really have a problem with extremism,” he told JI. “If the House goes Republican, I’m afraid that the Congress is going to be focused on impeaching the president.” For the moment, Irwin suggested he was prioritizing a widely shared anxiety with GOP radicalism over Lee’s views on Israel, which had previously led him to question whether she supported the existence of a Jewish homeland. “It’s an issue,” he explained, “but it’s not the only issue.”
‘Not Summer Lee’: Even as some Jewish activists have differed with UDP, a small but unique subset of more independent-minded Jewish Democrats who spoke with JI admitted that they agreed with the group’s approach and are pulling the lever for Doyle instead, based on the simple reason that they can’t bring themselves to support Lee over her positions on Israel and connections to the far left. “I fully intend to vote for the new Mike Doyle,” said Lou Weiss, a registered Democrat in Pittsburgh who is involved in pro-Israel activism. “Frankly, he’s not Summer Lee.”
Herzog leads delegation to COP27 in Egypt
Israeli President Isaac Herzog is set for a busy week ahead. Today he is leading an Israeli delegation of outgoing ministers, officials, businesspeople and environmental leaders to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, before returning to Israel later this week, when he will officially receive the results of last week’s general election.
Sinai Shalom: Arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh for the climate change conference today, Herzog was welcomed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. He met with United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and also held high-level diplomatic meetings with other world leaders. Herzog will address the conference on Monday afternoon emphasizing the Israeli vision that the president calls the ‘Renewable Middle East,’ in which Israel and regional states will cooperate to provide major solutions for the climate crisis.
Making history: For the first time in COP history, Israel will operate a pavilion showcasing the country’s innovation in tackling climate change. Joining Herzog at the conference are members of the outgoing government, including Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, Education Minister Yifat Shasha Biton and Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash Hacohen, as well as representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Environmental Protection, Education, Health and Regional Cooperation, and the Israeli Climate Forum. Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash will be reporting from Sharm el-Sheikh this week — follow her on Twitter at @reglash.
Government groupings: On Wednesday and Thursday, Herzog will consult individually with the heads of each of the political parties elected to the Knesset in the recent election. Each party will recommend to the president the person they believe should become Israel’s next prime minister and be tasked with forming the country’s next government. Based on the final results announced on Friday, former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to be given the mandate. He will then be given 28 days to put together a cohesive coalition. On Sunday, according to the spokesman of his Likud party, Netanyahu began meeting with representatives of some parties with the goal of discussing ministerial and other high-level appointments. Netanyahu’s natural partners are the ultra-Orthodox factions, Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism party.
Koch’s Israeli investment chief aims to disrupt venture capital funding
Eli Groner meets with hundreds of startups each year as the managing director in Israel for Koch Disruptive Technologies, which since 2018 has doled out almost $1 billion to emerging Israeli companies. For the fraction of those deemed disruptive enough to get funding, KDT, the venture arm of gigantic U.S. conglomerate Koch Industries, sees itself as a devoted ally that doesn’t expect quick returns, Shoshanna Solomon reports for The Circuit.
Taking time: “We are patient capital,” Groner told The Circuit during an interview at the firm’s 35th-floor Tel Aviv office overlooking the Mediterranean. “We invest with the expectation that we are going to partner with them forever or for at least for 10 years. Now, that is not always the case, but that is certainly the way we look at it when we make an investment. So, we want to work with people that are high integrity, resilient, committed and playing the long game.”
New region: When it first funded Insightec, KDT didn’t have an office in Israel. On a visit to meet industry players, company executives had an encounter with Groner, fresh out of the Prime Minister’s Office, who offered a geopolitical overview of Israel and the region. “We really connected on vision and values,” Groner said. “Six months later I got a formal offer to join KDT and open up the Israel office.” Groner has since led KDT’s investments in 13 Israeli startups that operate in fields ranging from health care, semiconductors and cybersecurity to manufacturing and agriculture.
Lining up: Groner’s efforts come during a period when Israel is forging new partnerships with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and other Arab countries, under the banner of the Abraham Accords signed two years ago. It is a “very exciting time for the region,” he said. “It is an opportunity for everyone, whether you are an entrepreneur, whether you are an investor. But at the end of the day, it is going to be the same values and principles that apply. Are you aligned in values? Are you aligned on vision?”
➡️ Right Ramifications: In The Hill, Dov S. Zakheim explores the implications that a new right-wing, religious government that Benjamin Netayahu looks likely to form soon could have on the country’s foreign relations. “Netanyahu’s right-wing partners are already causing consternation in Washington. His own relations with President Biden are uneasy, at best. In this respect, Netanyahu may be betting that what matters most to Israel are relations with Republicans in Congress — at least one of whose houses likely will revert to a Republican majority come January. Despite his statements to the contrary, however, Netanyahu’s behavior during the Obama years indicates that, in practice, he has little time for Democratic concerns. Should the Democrats retain their Senate majority, Netanyahu could find no more sympathy in that chamber than he is likely to receive in the White House. Indeed, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and normally a staunch supporter of Israel, has made clear his unhappiness with the prospect of a Netanyahu government that includes any Religious Zionism leaders.” [TheHill]
💸 Lauder’s Largesse: The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos and Dana Rubinstein interview Ron Lauder about his recent political giving, which has boosted GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) to within striking distance of New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. “But in a rare sit-down interview last week, Mr. Lauder said his overriding goal was straightforward, even selfless: He fears rising crime is driving people from the city, and wants to capitalize on an unusually favorable political climate to try to revive New York’s moribund Republican Party after years of losses. ‘I’m no ogre,’ he said, over tea at Café Sabarsky, a Viennese-style cafe in the Neue Galerie, his Upper East Side museum devoted to the culture of prewar Austria and Germany, another of his lifelong, and costly, passions. ‘It’s a question of one thing I believe in, always have,’ he continued. ‘I want two parties. I want a Republican and a Democratic Party. When you have just one party, I believe things go wrong.’” [NYTimes]
⚖️ Caught in the Crossfire: Tablet‘s Armin Rosen delves into the response of Qatari lobbyists to Elliott Broidy’s lawsuit over the alleged hacking of his private emails, in issuing far-reaching subpoenas to nearly two-dozen figures in the U.S. Jewish, pro-Israel and foreign policy communities, and the apparent support lent to the former by the Justice and State departments. “Broidy’s lawsuit against Qatar itself was dismissed in August of 2018 on sovereign immunity grounds—Americans have the right to sue a foreign government on U.S. soil only under very limited circumstances. But the case against Qatar’s former lobbyists continues. Earlier this year, the three lobbyists countered by issuing far-reaching subpoenas to nearly two-dozen figures in the U.S. Jewish, pro-Israel, and foreign policy communities. Tablet has obtained these subpoenas, and interviewed several recipients for this article. Many of the subpoenas were sent to groups and individuals who were, as one target put it, ‘somewhere between a third party and a bystander’ to the lawsuit—in other words, people who could not have been reasonably expected to possess information about Broidy’s hacking allegations. But they were all either opposed to Qatar’s support for Islamist groups, or had been publicly linked to people, groups, or activities that were critical of Qatar.”[Tablet]
✡️ Worrying Times: In The New York Times, Michael Paulson and Ruth Graham look into the latest uptick in antisemitism that has American Jews concerned. “For Jews in America, things are tense indeed. Next week’s midterm elections feel to some like a referendum on democracy’s direction. There is a war in Europe. The economy seems to be teetering. It is a perilous time, and perilous times have never been great for Jews. ‘When systems fail, whether it’s the government or the markets or anything else, leaders often look for someone to blame,’ said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which seeks to monitor and combat antisemitism. ‘Jews have historically played that role’…Institutional leaders say the anxiety in their communities is palpable. ‘Many feel we are in a ‘before’ moment,’ said Rabbi Noah Farkas, the president and chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.” [NYTimes]
📉 Mates Rates: In the Jewish Journal, Rich Goldberg (who co-hosts JI’s “Limited Liability” podcast) explores how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel is influencing Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings. “This isn’t a hypothetical threat; it’s already happening. My own inside look at one leading ESG research firm, Morningstar Sustainalytics, revealed a ratings process with a deeply embedded bias against Israel-connected companies. Specifically, the ratings presume that Jewish presence in certain areas – East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights – represents a human rights abuse. On that basis, the ratings penalize Israeli companies across multiple sectors for providing services to Jews living in the disputed areas…The double standards applied to Israel, a hallmark of the anti-Semitic boycott movement, are apparent in these ratings, too. Israel and China are nothing alike. One is a flourishing democracy with rule of law and an internationally respected judicial system; the other, an authoritarian regime conducting a genocide in Xinjiang. Yet somehow, Morningstar dings Israeli companies for so-called human rights controversies while Chinese companies get a pass.” [JewishJournal]
Around the Web
👍 Across the Aisle: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) endorsed Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), who is facing a tough reelection battle in Virginia. Spanberger is the third Democrat the outgoing Wyoming representative has endorsed this cycle.
🗳️ McCarthy Meeting: The Skverer Rebbe of New Square, N.Y., met last week with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who traveled to the upstate enclave to boost New York Republican Assemblyman Mike Lawler, who is challenging Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).
🏃♀️ Jewish Vote: NY1 looks at how the state’s Jewish community could be pivotal in determining the outcome of New York’s gubernatorial race between Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY).
⚖️ Off the Hook: A federal court acquitted Tom Barrack, who chaired former President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, of using his relationship with Trump to lobby on behalf of the UAE.
🕍 No Danger: The FBI deemed that an individual who has made a threat against synagogues in New Jersey “no longer poses a danger to the community.”
🇺🇸🇮🇱 Right Turn: The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, in an op-ed titled ‘The Israel We Knew Is Gone,’ considers the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and American Jewish support for the Jewish state, as a result of last week’s Israel elections.
👀 New Kid On The Bloc: The Wall Street Journal’s Dov Lieber looks at the political rise of Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is posed to play a significant role in the next Israeli government.
🏙️ Those Were the Days: The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman visits the South Bronx with actor Judd Hirsch, who grew up in the neighborhood.
🥈 Born to Run: Israeli-Kenyan runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter placed second in the women’s race at the New York City Marathon.
✔️ Just Don’t Do It: Nike suspended its partnership with Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, after the point guard took days to apologize for sharing antisemitic content on social media.
🌟 A Star is Born: The New York Times’ spotlights performer Barbra Streisand’s decades-long career, including her early recordings, her “use of Jewish American humor, Jewish American vibrancy (throwaway lines, ba-dum-bum comedy, the border she permeates between Brooklyn and Buckingham Palace).”
🛰️ Axis of Evil: Iran admitted to having sent drones to Russia ahead of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, and is, according to U.S. officials, now seeking Russia’s help in developing its nuclear program.
🕊️ Staying the Course: A diplomatic advisor to Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said Manama would continue building its relationship with Israel following last week’s Israeli elections.
💼 Transition: Corey Jacobson, a longtime staffer in the office of Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), is joining the Pentagon as special assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb (h/t Playbook)
🕯️ Remembering: Novelist, memoirist, biographer and literary critic Doris Grumbach, who in the 1970s and ’80s published positive portrayals of lesbian characters, died at 104. Virologist Samuel L. Katz, one of the developers of the measles vaccine, died at 95.
Pic of the Day
Rabbi Yossi Jacobson of Maccabee’s Kosher Deli in Des Moines, Iowa, with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff on Friday.
Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, he was the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Donald Kohn turns 80…
Neuropsychiatrist, a 1944 graduate of Yeshivah of Flatbush and 2000 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, Eric Kandel turns 93… Former U.S. senator from Minnesota, he later served on the boards of AIPAC and JINSA, Rudy Boschwitz turns 92… Stage, screen and television actor, Barry Newman turns 84… MIT professor in electrical engineering and computer science, Barbara Liskov turns 83… University professor at Harvard, expert on Shakespeare, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stephen Greenblatt turns 79… Founding president of Santa Monica, Calif., synagogue Kehilat Maarav, and senior partner in the West Los Angeles law firm of Selvin & Weiner, Beryl Weiner… Constituent affairs representative and community liaison for Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Laurie Tobias Cohen… Volunteer coordinator for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Marcy Meyers… CEO of luxury apparel company Canada Goose, Dani Reiss turns 49… European casino owner, art collector and CEO of Vestar Group, Leon Tsoukernik turns 49… Deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh Yitzhak King turns 49… EVP of communications at NBC Universal, Jennifer B. Friedman… Reporter for Sportico focused on the business of college sports, Daniel Libit… Senior advisor for the family foundation of Sam and Gabe Bankman-Fried, Avi Zenilman… National political reporter at Politico, Elena Schneider… Founder of Swipe Out Hunger, Rachel Sumekh… Toronto native, he is the founder and CEO of Count Me In, a global youth empowerment organization, Shane Feldman… Co-founder and former CEO at NYX Technologies, Tomer Aharonovitch…