👋 Good Thursday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the Democrats running in next week’s Philadelphia mayoral primary, and interview Emily Tisch Sussman about her pivot away from politics. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Carl Icahn, Carol Kane and Mohammed Alyahya.
After being canceled by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) “Nakba Day” event was moved to the Senate side of the Capitol complex, to the hearing room of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
During her speech at the event, Tlaib remarked that “everyone needs an aamu in the Senate” — an Arabic word meaning “uncle” — “so I want to also welcome you to Senator Bernie Sanders’s [committee room].” Sanders, who has been a vocal critic of Israel in the Senate in recent years, did not personally attend the event. McCarthy, as House speaker, does not have jurisdiction over Senate office buildings. A Senate source told JI that Senate committees have final control over their own rooms.
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a pro-Israel stalwart who co-chairs the Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, told JI that “calling the establishment of the world’s only Jewish state a ‘catastrophe’ is deeply offensive, and I strongly disagree with allowing this event to be held on Capitol Hill.”
“Israel was founded as a refuge for the Jewish people fleeing millennia of antisemitic persecution and violence,” Rosen continued. “Let me be absolutely clear: the United States is and will always remain a stalwart ally of the State of Israel.”
Earlier in the day, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), the No. 3 House Democratic leader, said it was “unfortunate” that McCarthy had canceled the event. Aguilar, responding to a question from JI at a Democratic leadership press conference, said, “People should be allowed to congregate, to have discussions, to express their viewpoints and ideas. That’s who we are.” Aguilar emphasized, “that doesn’t mean I agree with everything every member in my caucus says or that every sponsored group or organization that comes here says” and that he did not “know who the official sponsors, speakers, guests and organizations are.” Read more here.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, on Monday evening, during which Sullivan, according to an official White House readout, reiterated the Biden administration’s “ironclad support for Israel’s security, as well as its right to defend its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks” and “emphasized the need to deescalate tensions and prevent further loss of life.”
In the hours before and after Tlaib’s event in Washington — despite reports of an Egypt-mediated cease-fire — Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets rained down on Israeli communities, continuing into Thursday, while Israel pressed on with Operation Shield and Arrow, striking Islamic Jihad targets.
Overnight, Israel killed Ali Hassan Ghali, the commander of the terrorist organization’s rocket launching force, along with two additional militants from the group who were with him in a hideout apartment, according to the IDF; Palestinian media identified them as Ghali’s brother and nephew. More than two dozen Palestinians have reportedly been killed during the three-day flare-up of violence.
An Israeli diplomatic source denied a report that Israel had agreed to release the body of Khader Adnan, who died in Israeli prison after an 80-day hunger strike, as part of a ceasefire agreement with Islamic Jihad.
Three Jewish Democrats among top contenders in Philadelphia mayoral race
In the closely divided race to become Philadelphia’s next mayor, three Jewish Democrats with divergent backgrounds are among the top candidates vying for the nomination — marking what some observers view as a local record for Jewish representation on the ballot. “This is the first time that I can remember where we’ve had three Jewish candidates,” Robin Schatz, the director of government affairs at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel this week. “That’s just amazing to me.”
Nonissue: The candidates themselves, however, have largely refrained from emphasizing their Jewish identities or highlighting communal issues in heavily Jewish Philadelphia, where antisemitic incidents have been on the rise. “I don’t see anyone going around talking about being Jewish,” said Larry Ceisler, a public affairs executive in Philadelphia. “I don’t think it would have any effect.”
Crime and safety: Polling has shown that crime and public safety are the leading issues in Tuesday’s crowded primary, where five Democrats are seen as viable. Allan Domb, a self-funding real estate mogul and moderate Jewish Democrat, claims that he is the only candidate whose public safety plan includes an explicit pledge to increase funding to combat hate crimes and to provide police protections for synagogues and mosques. Jeff Brown, a 59-year-old Jewish grocery store owner, has won endorsements from police unions, while Cherelle Parker, 50, has vowed to hire more police officers and expressed support for stop-and-frisk tactics, which she had previously opposed as a city councilwoman. Meanwhile, Rebecca Rhynhart, a 48-year-old Jewish Democrat and former city controller, has voiced criticism of law enforcement while advocating for intervention strategies such as therapy and job training, even as she has also argued in favor of “more police.”
Frontrunner: The leading progressive candidate, Helen Gym, a former city councilwoman, has shied away from past comments in which she aligned with the movement to abolish the police. The 50-year-old Democrat now issues calls “to stabilize police funding” and says it is “not the time to cut.” In recent weeks, Gym’s profile has risen as she has drawn support from a growing number of national leaders on the activist left, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). The two New York Democrats, who are among the most outspoken Israel critics in the House, have had strained relationships with members of the organized Jewish community in their districts.
Senate, House members meet with White House officials to discuss forthcoming antisemitism strategy
Ahead of the White House’s expected release of its national strategy on combating antisemitism later this month, officials from the White House task force on antisemitism and Islamophobia met on Wednesday with top Senate and House leaders to provide input on the administration’s strategy, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Attendance list: Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), James Lankford (R-OK) and Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Grace Meng (D-NY), Randy Weber (R-TX) and Marc Veasey (D-TX) met with Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice, Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff on Capitol Hill. The lawmakers are co-chairs of the Senate and House’s antisemitism task forces, which helped push for a task force and strategy to combat rising antisemitism.
State of play: Rosen said in a statement that she convened the meeting “to assess the progress on developing and implementing a national strategy to counter antisemitism, which I called for last year. This meeting highlighted the main pillars of the Administration’s forthcoming strategy and provided an opportunity for Members of Congress to shape the final document before it is released.”
From the White House: In a separate readout, the White House said that Emhoff “spoke about the urgent need for such a strategy” and that Rice and Sherwood-Randall “described the ongoing process of developing the strategy, informed by robust consultation with a diverse array of stakeholders, and future plans to implement the strategy. They also discussed the need for a whole-of-society response to antisemitism.” The White House statement said that the lawmakers “provided feedback and insights for the strategy based on their own efforts to counter antisemitism.”
On the Hill: The House Democratic Caucus hosted a private reception yesterday for members and guests in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, organized by House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Caucus Vice Chair Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), according to an invitation viewed by JI. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) also attended.
behind the scenes
Emily Tisch Sussman and the power of the ‘pivot’
At the end of January 2020, leading political strategist Emily Tisch Sussman sat down with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a conversation on her then-podcast “Your Political Playlist.” Ten days after the viral interview, Tisch Sussman gave birth to her third child, heading into maternity leave confident she would not soon be forgotten. But a few weeks later, at what was a high point in her career, she left politics after nearly 15 years in the field, Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel reports.
Scuppered plans: With three children under 4 years old, Tisch Sussman had a plan for balancing motherhood with business, but then COVID-19 arrived, sending the world into lockdown and ending her Washington career when the childcare she desperately stopped being available. In search of other women who, like her, had experienced professional upheaval not indicative of their own capabilities, Tisch Sussman created “She Pivots,” a podcast highlighting women who have “redefined success” for themselves.
Not your mama’s podcast: “She Pivots” is not a “mommy podcast” — a characterization Tisch Sussman vehemently rejects — but rather a business show where women share how the roller-coasters in their professional journeys turned into their greatest successes.
Famous faces: Currently in its second season, “She Pivots” has already featured a number of A-list guests including Vice President Kamala Harris, actress and activist Sophia Bush, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and actress Brooke Shields. Conversations have ranged from how two long-lost half-sisters went on to create the nation’s largest Black-owned wine company to the life of the oldest Park Ranger in U.S. history.
who frees the captive
Jewish federations working behind the scenes and publicly to help jailed journalist Evan Gershkovich
The Jewish federations network launched a public campaign this week to raise awareness about and support for Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned in Russia for the past two months. While this public effort is only now getting underway, both the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey have been working behind the scenes on Gershkovich’s behalf since his arrest in March, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross reports.
Goals: Elana Broitman, JFNA’s senior vice president for public affairs, said the federations are focused on two things: One is to keep the issue in the public eye to ensure that Gershkovich’s case remains a priority for the U.S. government so it maintains pressure on Russia and works to secure his release as quickly as possible. And the other is to send a message to Gershkovich himself.
National and local effort: Broitman has taken the lead role in coordinating the organization’s efforts with the U.S. government, while the southern New Jersey federation has maintained regular contact with Greshkovich’s parents, Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich. The Greshkoviches fled the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, first moving to New York and then settling in Princeton, N.J.
In Washington: Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Tom Kean Jr. (R-NJ) and Bill Keating (D-MA) are co-sponsoring a resolution calling on Russia to free Gershkovich.
🇹🇷 Turkey Tensions: In The New York Times, Cihan Tugal considers the challenges that would face Turkey’s new government should President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fall short in Sunday’s election. “If the opposition were to prevail, it would face the same structural problems that have stymied the country for years — and even if Mr. Erdogan is dethroned, his political project is going nowhere. That should be enough to curb unbridled enthusiasm. Turkey may soon be rid of its autocratic leader, but it remains in deep trouble…. Yet voting out Mr. Erdogan would still be a great relief. In over two decades at the helm, he has concentrated power in his own hands, imprisoning opponents and stifling the courts. In recent years, as the economy worsened, the A.K.P. under him has been ratcheting up its religious and ethnic agenda, opening its arms to anti-women and pro-violence fringe groups. Defeating this hard right turn, and striking a blow against authoritarianism, is crucial.” [NYTimes]
📜 Happy Medium: Tablet magazine’s David Goldman suggests that the teachings and beliefs of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik could provide guidance for religious and secular Israelis as they contemplate the future of the country. “Let me therefore offer an outrageous claim as a starting point for this discussion: Torah more than Greek hochma is the source of modern science. Secular Israelis might acknowledge, however grudgingly, the debt of science to Torah. And Torah-obedient Israelis might admit, however reluctantly, that scientific discovery for the betterment of the human condition is a religious obligation. The hegemonic character of this assertion cannot be overemphasized. The religious literature is filled with harmless homiletics about the compatibility of science and faith, for example the late R. Jonathan Sacks’ Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning. That is not what I am arguing here. Rather, with the collapse of Newtonian physics and with it the tyranny of Newtonian time with the advent of quantum theory, what R. Soloveitchik called ‘the paradoxical present-day conflict of science and philosophy … may yet give birth to a new religious world perspective.’” [Tablet]
Around the Web
⚖️ Santos in Court: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) pleaded not guilty to 13 charges including money laundering, wire fraud and theft of public funds before being released on a $500,000 bond.
🕵️♀️ Icahn Investigation: Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises is being investigated by federal prosecutors following a short seller’s claim that the company’s holdings were overvalued.
🏈 Snyder’s Sale: The NFL’s finance committee raised concerns about the potential sale of Dan Snyder’s Washington Commanders to a group led by Josh Harris, potentially delaying a vote on the deal.
📽️ Bat Mitzvah on the Big Screen: Jason Schwartzman and Carol Kane star in “Between the Temples,” a film about a synagogue cantor who reconnects with his childhood music teacher in an adult b’nai mitzvah class.
📚 Banned Books: Education officials in Florida rejected the classroom use of two textbooks about the Holocaust, saying that the books did not meet the state’s standards.
🇦🇷 Undecorated: Argentina withdrew the honor it bestowed in 1979 on Maurice Papon, a former French budget minister who was found to have collaborated with the Nazis to deport French Jews during the Holocaust while serving as a police secretary general in Bordeaux.
🧳 Roll Up! Roll Up!: The New York Times reports on the fruit roll-ups TikTok frenzy that has seen Americans smuggling hundreds of pounds of the sweet treat into Israel and has children buying one individual snack for as much as $8.
📺 Opening Up the Competition: The Riyadh-backed Saudi Research and Media Group is exploring the possibility of launching an English-language network that would rival Al Jazeera.
🇸🇦🇸🇾 Regional Reset: Saudi Arabia and Syria are resuming the work of their diplomatic missions, days after Syria was readmitted into the Arab League.
➡️ Transition: Al-Arabiya Editor in Chief Mohammed Alyahya is departing the publication, weeks after he was named a senior fellow at the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center.
🕯️ Remembering: Fruma Gallant, the mother of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who in her youth was a passenger on The Exodus, died at 88.
Pic of the Day
Volusia County, Fla., Sheriff Mike Chitwood received Palm Beach Synagogue’s Critical Citizen award last night for his work to combat antisemitism.
CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, William Albert “Bill” Ackman turns 57…
Israeli optical and kinetic artist and sculptor, Yaacov Agam turns 95… Retired judge of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and author of a memoir about his survival in Nazi concentration camps, Thomas Buergenthal turns 89… Sociologist and author, Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D. turns 78… Israeli social activist, Iris Stern Levi turns 70… Treasurer and receiver-general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Deborah Goldberg turns 69… Past president and chairman of AIPAC, Morton Zvi Fridman, MD turns 65… Copy chief at Random House and the author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, Benjamin Dreyer turns 65… Brian Mullen… Howard M. Pollack… Senior fellow and a Middle East analyst at the Hudson Institute, Michael Pregent turns 55… Member of the California State Senate since 2016, his district includes San Francisco and parts of San Mateo County, Scott Wiener turns 53… EVP of development and digital at World Wrestling Entertainment, Jamie Horowitz… Filmmaker and podcast host, Dan Trachtenberg turns 42… Director of strategic initiatives and engagement in the Office of the President at Carnegie Mellon University, Pamela Eichenbaum… Senior cost analyst at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Michael Jeremy Alexander… PR and brand manager for overseas resource development at Leket Israel, Shira Woolf… Founder and CEO of the digital asset technology company Architect, Brett Harrison turns 35… Staff writer at Time magazine, Olivia B. Waxman… Senior associate in paid search at Wavemaker, James Frichner… Israeli actress, she appeared in 30 episodes of “Shtisel” and played the lead role in the Netflix miniseries “Unorthodox,” Shira Haas turns 28… Paralympic track and field athlete, Ezra Frech turns 18…