👋 Good Thursday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to attendees at yesterday’s White House antisemitism roundtable, and interview Bhavini Patel, a local official in Pennsylvania who is looking to succeed Summer Lee in Harrisburg. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Ivanka Trump, Rep. Kathy Manning and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Aspen Security Forum’s Washington confab kicks off this morning at the InterContinental Hotel at The Wharf. Among the featured speakers are Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk and Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN).
In the afternoon, Ambassador Dennis Ross will speak on a panel moderated by Politico’s Dafna Linzer titled “Beyond the World Cup: Triumphs and Challenges in the Middle East.”
Co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism are hosting counterparts from the United Kingdom on Capitol Hill today to discuss possible avenues of cooperation on fighting antisemitism, Jewish Insider has learned.
Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Grace Meng (D-NY) and Randy Weber (R-TX) will be joined by Members of Parliament Sarah Jones and Andrew Percy — members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism — as well as Danny Stone and Nina Freedman, the CEO and external affairs officer at the Antisemitism Policy Trust, a U.K. group that seeks to educate members of parliament and policymakers on antisemitism.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved resolutions yesterday expressing support for Iranian protesters and condemning the violent crackdown on them, and honoring the victims of the bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Argentina, both linked to Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists. The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance an identical resolution on the Iran protests.
Elsewhere on the Senate side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats will elect their caucus leadership this morning. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to hold onto the top position.
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu made further progress with his government formation efforts overnight, when his Likud party signed a deal with the Orthodox Shas party — the fifth and final coalition party expected to ink an agreement with Likud. Shas chairman Aryeh Deri is set to be interior minister and health minister for the first two years of the government’s four-year term, after which he will replace Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich as finance minister. Deri will also serve as deputy prime minister for the full term.
The deals are all interim agreements, and Netanyahu is expected to spend the coming days finalizing details both with his coalition partners and with members of his own party to whom he still has to hand out portfolios. Netanyahu’s deadline to form a government will expire on Sunday at midnight, and he is expected to ask President Isaac Herzog for an extension.
At a climate-focused investing conference held today in Ramallah, a senior official with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation pledged to commit American investment dollars and financing toward private-sector entities in the West Bank and Gaza that are working to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
There are “pressing challenges in the region,” Jake Levine, the DFC’s chief climate officer, said in Ramallah at the event hosted by the Bank of Palestine, but also “tremendous opportunities for business development” in areas like clean energy, electric vehicles and agriculture.
The commitment is part of a broader push by the DFC, which invests in development projects in lower-income nations, to promote private sector development in the Palestinian Territories as a priority. It’s been a goal for the agency since the 2020 passage of the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA), which aims to strengthen on-the-ground ties and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, one person with knowledge of the work and the Ramallah event told JI.
the room where it happened
National strategy and campus antisemitism top of mind during White House roundtable
A first-of-its-kind White House summit on antisemitism highlighted a growing push inside the organized Jewish community for a national strategy to combat antisemitism — alongside long-standing concerns like antisemitism on campus — according to Jewish community leaders who attended the meeting. Senior White House and Biden administration officials, led by the Jewish second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, convened a roundtable Wednesday with leaders from 14 Jewish community groups, where each offered suggestions on strategies, policies and programs for combating antisemitism, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
General consensus: According to those present, a push for a formalized interagency strategy to combat antisemitism domestically — also highlighted in a congressional letter this week — came up frequently in remarks from Jewish community representatives. And in interviews with JI following the meeting, nearly every one of the attendees expressed support for such a move.
Connecting the dots: “We think tying all these efforts together, both from security and non-security agencies, to develop a comprehensive strategy that doesn’t just securitize the issue of antisemitism, but also allows for innovation, new data sets and an opportunity to combat it and all its forms,” George Selim, the Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice president for national affairs, explained. “We think that’s where the future lies on this issue.”
Campus cause: Antisemitism on campuses was also a significant focus among speakers. Among the attendees was Julia Jassey, the CEO of Jewish on Campus, who is also a student at the University of Chicago. “Students are the ones on the ground experiencing it,” Jassey emphasized to JI. “As a college student, as a 21-year-old woman, having the opportunity to have my voice valued by the administration is very, very impactful, and I think something that wasn’t just moving to me but affected a lot of young Jews in the community.”
Carrying the torch: Attendees offered high praise for Emhoff, who has become a leading voice in the White House’s efforts to combat antisemitism and support the Jewish community. “We’re all in pain right now,” Emhoff said in opening remarks, the only part of the meeting open to the press. “Our community is in pain. It hurts. It hurts me to see what we’re going through right now. What all people are going through right now. Antisemitism is dangerous. We cannot normalize this. We all have an obligation to condemn these vile acts. We must all — all of us — cannot stay silent.”
Elsewhere: The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt appeared on yesterday’s episode of “The Breakfast Club” radio show with DJ Envy and Charlamagne tha God to discuss the recent rise in antisemitism and incidents with Kanye West and Kyrie Irving.
Meet the Democratic councilwoman who hopes to succeed Summer Lee in Pennsylvania’s statehouse
Bhavini Patel, whose short-lived campaign for an open House seat in Pittsburgh drew interest from local Jewish leaders, is setting her sights on the state legislature, as a new vacancy sets the stage for a special election that could determine the balance of power in Pennsylvania’s lower chamber. The Democratic councilwoman from Edgewood recently announced her bid to succeed outgoing state Rep. Summer Lee, a progressive stalwart who is ascending to federal office this January, following a high-profile campaign that faced opposition from pro-Israel groups, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Optimistic outlook: Patel, 29, had briefly sought the nomination in Pennsylvania’s redrawn 12th Congressional District, but she dropped out of the primary after just a couple of months, citing a lack of momentum. This time around, however, Patel suggested that she is more bullish about her prospects, as the local elected official gears up for a competitive election that is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks.
Personal inspiration: Honing her message from the congressional race, Patel — a Pennsylvania native raised by a single mother who immigrated from India — emphasized that her “personal life story” is reflective of the voters she hopes to represent in the state’s 34th District, which encompasses some parts of Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs in Allegheny County. “My mom eventually became a small business owner, and I grew up working in food trucks,” Patel explained in an interview on Wednesday. “Seeing how a single parent can become independent through small businesses and raise a family, those are the experiences, I think, that a lot of the people in the 34th are experiencing, and being able to speak to those challenges is critically important.”
Looking ahead: Before the midterms concluded last month, Patel had been tentatively eyed by some pro-Israel advocates in Pittsburgh as a potential challenger to Lee next cycle, according to a person familiar with the matter. During the House race, Lee had drawn fierce resistance from pro-Israel groups, notably including a super PAC affiliated with the lobbying group AIPAC, over her views on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Now that the special election is underway, however, such strategizing appears to have dissipated — and Patel herself did not directly address whether she hopes to seek federal office again. “I’m focused on the HD-34 race,” she said matter-of-factly.
Budding ties: Steve Irwin, a Jewish Democrat who narrowly lost to Lee in a hotly contested primary battle last spring, said Patel “has worked hard to develop relationships with the Democratic committee” as she makes her bid for higher office. “I think Bhavini is a very strong candidate,” he suggested, adding that she has “a real mastery of policy” and is “very personable.” “I didn’t know Bhavini before the congressional campaign, and I thought she made a realistic and selfless decision to exit when she did,” Irwin told JI. “We’ve become friends through that shared experience, and she would make a very effective member of the Pennsylvania House.”
On Israel and the Jewish community: In conversation with JI, Patel expressed opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, which is among the few issues related to Middle East policy that lawmakers address in the state legislature. “I think that implementing economic sanctions on an economic ally and a national security ally,” Patel said, “is not the correct approach.” The U.S. and Israel “have always had a strong partnership, and I think that’s reflected in the local community in Squirrel Hill but also throughout the 34th District,” Patel told JI, referring to the heavily Jewish Pittsburgh neighborhood, where the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue attack took place. “I think it’s absolutely imperative to engage the Jewish community and to show solidarity,” she elaborated, “especially when our Jewish communities are faced with antisemitism and unacceptable comments.”
👱♀️ Ivanka’s Independence: The Financial Times’ Gillian Tett surmises that Ivanka Trump, surveying the political landscape, is intentionally distancing herself from her father’s latest presidential bid. “When Trump announced his candidacy in Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by supporters and family, his daughter was nowhere to be seen. (The FT Weekend Magazine reported that her husband, Jared Kushner, was present.) This is a sharp contrast to 2016, when Ivanka was constantly at his side. Ivanka says she is focusing on raising her children. But knowing how acutely she understands the meaning of small signals, I doubt it is the only explanation. Judging from the vibe among her friends, I suspect she also wants to keep her distance from a campaign that looks, at best, messy and, at worst, likely to fail. It is easy to see why she might feel this way. Quite apart from the ongoing tax and legal probes facing Trump and the revelations surrounding his role in the January 6 uprising, there are also signs of a political shift taking place.” [FT]
🇺🇦 Man of the Moment:Time magazine’s Simon Shuster travels to Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom the publication named its 2022 Person of the Year. “In April, less than two months into the invasion, Zelensky told me he had aged and changed ‘from all this wisdom that I never wanted.’ Now, half a year later, the transformation was starker. Aides who once saw him as a lightweight now praise his toughness. Slights that might once have upset him now elicit no more than a shrug. Some of his allies miss the old Zelensky, the practical joker with the boyish smile. But they realize he needs to be different now, much harder and deaf to distractions, or else his country might not survive.” [Time]
🎧 Nashville’s New Tune:The New York Times’ Joseph Bernstein interviewsDaily Wire co-CEO Jeremy Boreing on his aspirations for the company, which during the pandemic moved from Los Angeles to Nashville, where Boreing and co-CEO Ben Shapiro hope to create what Bernstein described as “an all-you-can-eat buffet of conservative entertainment.” “The streaming service also includes a Western starring the conservative actress Gina Carano; an interview of Benjamin Netanyahu, soon to be the prime minister of Israel, by Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Peterson; a forthcoming television adaptation of Ayn Rand’s libertarian novel Atlas Shrugged; and a forthcoming children’s cartoon about a family of home-schooled chinchillas. The strange variety of it all lends the enterprise a certain surf-and-turf quality.” [NYTimes]
🚩 Inside Story:Politico’s Daniel Lippman looks at the turmoil inside No Labels, the centrist nonprofit group that former employees say created a toxic work environment. “Interviews with 14 former employees — including five who left in the last few months — and four other people familiar with No Labels reveals a cutthroat culture, one where staffers are routinely fired or pushed out, have little trust in management, and believe the workplace environment can be difficult for minority and female colleagues. The internal discord threatens to hamper the well-financed plans that the group has for the next election. Former aides say that staff turnover and bad relations with management make executing on projects more difficult… What they wonder is how a group dedicated to creating comity and collaboration can have such discord within its own ranks.” [Politico]
Around the Web
🔊 Lee’s Leadership: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) announced he will not challenge RNC head Ronna McDaniel, whose reelection he said was “pre-baked,” but called for a leadership change within the body. The outgoing New York congressman was elected to the Republican Jewish Coalition’s board of directors, alongside former Bal Harbour, Fla., Mayor Gabriel Groisman, JNS co-founder Josh Katzen and Texas real estate developer Larry Levine.
🪧 Strike Out: More than 1,000 New York Times staffers will go on a one-day strike today over stagnated talks between the newspaper’s guild and the company.
🎵 Bad Tune: World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder is pushing Spotify and Apple to remove Kanye West’s music from their stores, as tax documents indicate that West’s Yeezy Apparel owes the state of California upwards of $600,000 in tax debts.
🍽️ Dinner Dilemma:Rolling Stonelooks at a behind-the-scenes effort being waged by Jewish Republicans and conservative leaders to push former President Donald Trump to condemn Kanye West following their dinner last month at Mar-a-Lago.
👨⚖️ Court Case: A grand jury in New York indicted two men, one of whom is Jewish, in connection with a threat to attack an area synagogue.
🔫 Apprehended: A 25-year-old Staten Island man was arrested and charged with firing a BB gun at a Jewish man and his son who were grocery shopping in the New York City borough.
👮 Police Response: California state Sen. Scott Wiener was the target of a bomb threat this week, prompting a police sweep of his home.
🍩 Food for Thought: In the lead-up to Hanukkah, the Chicago Tribute is spotlighting eight Jewish eateries in the Chicagoland area.
🏺 Museum Maven: The Philadelphia Inquirerprofiles Kristen Kreider, the Catholic-born Judaica collector who runs the gift shop at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History.
🛢️ Gas Gains: Saudi government announced a $27 billion budget surplus yesterday, in part due to the pivot to Gulf energy sources following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
🤔 Strategy Session: A group of senior U.S. government officials reportedly met last week to discuss the U.S. approach to the incoming Israeli government.
🛑 Making a List: The Biden administration is urging the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights against expanding a list of companies that operate in Israeli settlements.
🏳️🌈 Speaking Out: U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said he was “bummed out” about Noam party leader Avi Maoz’s stated intention to cancel the gay pride parade in Jerusalem.
🤝 Peace Pledge: In a meeting with U.N. representatives, UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan pledged to support global peace and stability efforts.
Pic of the Day
Fifty-two mayors and dozens of municipal officials from around the world attend a tour of Jerusalem, hosted by Mayor Moshe Leon, who shows them both the city’s history as well as its high-tech scene and development projects.
Actress, comedian and television writer, Joanna “Jo” Firestone turns 36…
Founder and CEO of Top Rank, a boxing promotion company based in Las Vegas, Bob Arum turns 91… Actor and composer, John Rubinstein turns 76… Israeli folk singer, lyricist, composer and musical arranger, Chava Alberstein turns 75… Astrophysicist and senior scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Margaret Geller turns 75… Film director, producer and screenwriter, Nancy Meyers turns 73… Canadian anthropologist and author of four books promoting the Mussar movement, Alan Morinis turns 73… Professor of human development at Cornell University, Robert J. Sternberg turns 73… Writer, photographer and designer, founder of the Honey Sharp Gallery and Ganesh Café in the Berkshires, Honey Sharp… Bedford, Texas, resident, Doug Bohannon… Senior executive producer of special events at ABC News, Marc Burstein… Emmy Award-winning sports commentator and journalist, Roy Firestone turns 69… Chairman of a nationwide insurance brokerage, Bruce P. Gendelman… Author of Toward a Meaningful Life and chairman of The Algemeiner Journal, Rabbi Simon Jacobson turns 66… Retired administrative law judge at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Nadine Lewis turns 65… Rabbi, speaker and musician known as Rav Shmuel, he is the head of the Yeshiva program run by the IDT Corporation in Newark, N.J., Shmuel Skaist turns 58… Co-founder of Office Tiger, CloudBlue and Xometry, Randy Altschuler turns 52… Co-founder of TheLi.st, Rachel Sklar turns 50… General manager of The Wall Street Journal, Aaron Kissel turns 48… Founder of newsletter “Popular Information,” Judd Legum… Actor and musician, Dov Yosef Tiefenbach turns 41… Incoming president and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, he is currently the executive director of Hillel at UCLA, Aaron Lerner…Artist, Sophia Narrett… Venture capitalist in Israel, Alex Oppenheimer… Senior associate at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Ali Krimmer…