👋 Good Monday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we interview San Francisco Mayor London Breed in Tel Aviv, and spotlight Arizona congressional candidate Andrei Cherny. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Ken Marcus, Rahm Emanuel and Noa Kirel.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his supporters that he was prepared to face a runoff, as early results showed him lagging behind the 50% necessary for victory — with precincts in more-liberal parts of the country yet to be counted as part of the official government tally. The latest figures from the government’s Anadolu news agency show Erdogan with 49% of the vote, while the main opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, tallied 45%. If neither candidate hits 50%, the race heads to a May 28 runoff.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has been a thorn in the side of other NATO countries, retaining ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin even after his Ukraine invasion and resisting the expansion of the Western alliance. Erdogan has also faced criticism for his government’s handling of a damaging earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people residing in unsafe buildings. The country is also facing a severe inflation crisis, fueling voter frustration over Erdogan’s management of the economy.
Kilicdaroglu, an economist and retired civil servant, campaigned on a promise to return Turkey to a more democratic path and aligning the country more closely with the West.
Over the last several years, Erdogan has muted his antagonism towards Israel in favor of a rapprochement. Last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Erdogan spoke for the first time in nine years — when Erdogan congratulated Netanyahu for his election victory.
Back stateside, a much-anticipated Iowa showdown between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump didn’t materialize this weekend, as Trump canceled his planned trip to Des Moines for a rally because of inclement weather.
But DeSantis made the most of his visit, glad-handing with Iowans from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines, and securing endorsements from a notable cross-section of Iowa Republican legislators. His message, which we’ll be hearing more of when he officially becomes a candidate: Republicans need to “reject a culture of losing” and embrace conservative principles to be successful in 2024.
DeSantis started his Iowa trip by attending Rep.Randy Feenstra’s (R-IA) picnic fundraiser. In attendance were Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and Republican state Attorney General Brenna Bird.
Any DeSantis momentum in the Republican nomination process runs through Iowa. The state is filled with evangelical conservatives who are well-suited to DeSantis’ message, and is home to Trump’s first major defeat — to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the state’s 2016 caucuses. Trump’s decision to cancel his rally was a symbolic victory for DeSantis. Trump scheduled his trip to overshadow DeSantis, but it turned out the former president was the no-show. If DeSantis beats Trump at retail politics (a big if), it’s the ticket for a turnaround in the state’s pivotal caucuses.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday unveiled a new budget proposal that included $10 million for the state’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program. That sum falls far short of the nearly $50 million allocated for the program last year. Political experts in California tell Jewish Insider the proposal will likely serve as a starting point for negotiations with the state legislature. Jewish community leaders requested that Newsom fund the program with $80 million, despite the state’s $31.5 billion deficit.
“We’re grateful for Governor Newsom’s ongoing commitment to security funding, particularly in such a challenging budget, and look forward to working closely with him and our legislative colleagues to further increase resources for this critical program,” California Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, an Encino Democrat who chairs the Legislative Jewish Caucus, told JI on Friday.
In Israel, an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire agreement was reached between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Saturday night, ending a five-day escalation that killed at least 33 Palestinians in Gaza and two people in Israel. Yesterday evening, a rocket fired from Gaza broke the quiet and prompted an Israeli airstrike on two Hamas military posts. Palestinian militant leaders said the rocket was fired by mistake.
Intelligence Committee members weigh in on preventing Iranian breakout after Middle East trip
Following a delegation to Israel, Jordan and Egypt last week, members of the House Intelligence Committee remain divided on the best path forward to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Clear threat: With Iran moving closer to weapons-grade enrichment and a revived nuclear deal remaining unlikely, Republicans on the trip told JI that they believe the Biden administration needs to send a stronger deterrent message to Tehran. Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed a similar message: that only a “threat of military action” will deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Both paths: “I don’t believe that [administration officials] have given any signal or indication to Iran that there would be consequences for becoming a nuclear state,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) said. “I think you can do negotiations and at the same time, communicate firmly and clearly to Iran that both the United States and Israel together would actively consider military actions to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”
New diplomatic approach: Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) suggested that conditions against Iran’s nuclear weaponization could be incorporated into emerging dialogues between Iran and U.S. partners like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Bera stopped in Abu Dhabi ahead of the delegation’s trip. “I would not [establish dialogue] without conditions,” Bera said. “I would urge our friends in Saudi Arabia, our friends in the Emirates to make a non-nuclear Iran part of those conditions, if they’re going to do commerce, or if there’s going to be some normalization.”
copper state candidate
Andrei Cherny, son of Soviet refugees, vows to defend democracy in Arizona congressional race
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1980s, Andrei Cherny was an average American kid. But his parents, who left behind their lives in Communist Czechoslovakia in the hopes of finding a better one free of antisemitism in the United States, made sure he knew their horror stories from back home. All four of Cherny’s grandparents survived the Holocaust. So when Cherny’s parents began to question in recent years whether America was beginning to face the very thing they wanted to leave behind — the prospect of authoritarianism, and democracy under threat — the entrepreneur and former political speechwriter looked on with alarm. “Seeing the rise of antisemitism over the past few years brought back to them all kinds of memories of what they endured growing up, the taunting that they experienced,” Cherny told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch in a recent interview.
In defense of democracy: Cherny, a Democrat, is responding to that newfound fear by running for Congress, with a campaign focused on promoting democracy in the United States. “Democracy rarely disappears overnight. It vanishes step by step with 1,000 small cuts, and so vigilance is incredibly important,” explained Cherny, who is 47. “Democracy is most under stress in places all over the world and throughout history, when people no longer believe in its promise, when people feel they’ve been left behind and let down,” Cherny added. “The ability to have a ladder of opportunity for people that they believe in for themselves, as well as their children, is a huge part of making sure we preserve democracy. Because when that doesn’t happen, that’s when the forces of hate and division become stronger than the forces of hope.”
Weighing the odds: Cherny launched his campaign in April, entering the Democratic primary in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, which covers parts of Phoenix and surrounding suburbs, including Scottsdale. He hopes to challenge Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), who is viewed by political analysts as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the 2024 election cycle. “Schweikert won by less than a point when Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly carried [the district] by roughly seven points, and [Democratic Gov. Katie] Hobbs carried his district by 3.5 points,” said Mike Noble, an Arizona pollster. “We’re heading into a presidential election which is less favorable to the GOP, and abortion is going to be a top issue.”
In Israel, S.F. Mayor London Breed looks to take lessons back to the Bay Area
San Francisco Mayor London Breed was at dinner in Tel Aviv on Thursday night as Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets were fired toward central Israel, setting off sirens around the city. “I grew up where shooting was common. So for me, that type of thing… it’s not as if I was concerned,” Breed, who grew up in public housing in San Francisco, told Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss the next afternoon. Having such an experience in Israel, Breed explained, “reminds me of that, knowing that there are people here who are going through the same thing, and so being here during the time that it happened, I decided I wasn’t going to allow it to ruin the experience. And I was just going to follow the lead of how the locals reacted to it and hope and pray for better days.”
On the agenda: Breed, a Democrat, is in Israel on a weeklong trip with the Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area and the San Francisco-Haifa Sister City Committee that includes stops in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, the latter which has been a sister city of San Francisco since the 1970s. While in Haifa, Breed signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem, renewing the agreement between the two cities. In Jerusalem, she met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Economic opportunity: Ahead of Breed’s trip, the San Francisco Chroniclesuggested that the mayor “may face criticism” for traveling out of the city “given the multiple local crises that came to a head this week.” In recent months, San Francisco has grappled with economic challenges tied to its struggling downtown, which has relied heavily on foot traffic from office workers who no longer commute into the area as regularly due to the remote working options resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. But Breed said her trip has helped to stoke ideas for how to address some of the Bay Area’s economic challenges. After venturing to Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, which by day is full of storefronts and vendors before the area’s bars and restaurants open in the evening, she suggested that San Francisco rethink the structure of its financial district. “We can’t just think of things anymore as one thing,” Breed said. In the Bay Area, Breed said, “it can’t just be [that the] financial district closes down at 5, 6 o’clock… How do we make it possible to do more with the space that we have so that it’s not just a 9-to-5 downtown?”
on the hill
More than 550 NORPAC activists lobby on Capitol Hill
Between 550 and 600 volunteer activists from the bipartisan pro-Israel group NORPAC visited Capitol Hill last week for meetings with around 300 congressional offices, the delegation’s leader told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. Last week marked the first time the group has visited Washington since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, having held its annual lobbying missions virtually since 2020. The group met with roughly 80 Senate and 220 House offices, Dave Steinberg, NORPAC’s mission chair, told JI, including two of the 19 House members who voted recently against a House resolution commemorating the 75th anniversary of Israel’s founding and the Abraham Accords.
Strong support: Steinberg said that leaders on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate emphasized a similar message to NORPAC activists: “When there’s well-crafted legislation that’s introduced on a bipartisan basis, it has overwhelming [support]… You get numbers that are just preposterous on virtually any other legislation,” he added.
On the agenda: The group advocated for several specific policy priorities: continued support for annual security funding for Israel; a bill providing $250 million for collaborative advanced defense technology projects; the MARITIME Act, which aims to counter maritime threats from Iran though collaboration among Abraham Accords members; new legislation aiming to counter Iran’s missile and drone program; and legislation to increase scrutiny of United Nations Relief and Works Agency curricula.
🏢 Digging into DEI: In The New York Times, Jennifer Miller looks at the rise in popularity of diversity programming that prioritizes belonging over inclusion, as the traditional Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) faces criticism. “[Karith] Foster said companies must address racism, sexism, homophobia and antisemitism in the workplace. But she believes that an overemphasis on identity groups and a tendency to reduce people to ‘victim or villain’ can strip agency from and alienate everyone — including employees of color. She says her approach allows everyone ‘to make mistakes, say the wrong thing sometimes and be able to correct it.’… Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and professor at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, wishes we weren’t having this conversation about identity and belonging. ‘At a time of rising political polarization, many people’s whole selves don’t fit with the whole selves of their colleagues,’ Mr. Haidt, a self-described centrist, said. ‘I’ve heard from so many managers. They can’t stand it anymore — the constant conflict over people’s identities.’” [NYTimes]
Diplomatic Disappointment: In Newsweek, Ken Marcus condemns the U.N. officials who issued one-sided condemnations of Israel during the latest military conflict with extremist groups in Gaza. “The Islamic Jihad appears to be indiscriminately firing its rockets at civilian populations. This has been a longstanding practice among Gazan militants. Such attacks terrorize civilians without serving any legitimate military objective. Civilians, it should be emphasized, enjoy absolute protection from being targeted. It is Islamic Jihad’s rocket attack that would be considered ‘disproportionate’ under international law, to the extent that it lacks a clear and direct military objective. Some reports suggest that Israel and Islamic Jihad may (or may not) be entering into a truce. Regardless, there is no truce in sight between Israel and its United Nations antagonists. At this moment of anguish, it serves no one for the United Nations, of all institutions, to fan the flames of violence by issuing one-sided condemnations. It is worse still when senior officials distort international law to make claims that are diametrically opposed to the truth.” [Newsweek]
🛬 Looking Back: In The New Yorker, Martha Hodes reflects on being a passenger on a flight hijacked by the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine as a teenager. “I remember the hostages lining up in the plane’s narrow aisle. When it was our turn, a commando sitting behind a makeshift table in the first-class lounge consulted our shared passport. Wearing a serious expression and speaking in clear, clipped English, he asked questions. Are you American? Are you Israeli citizens? Why were you in Israel? Are you Jewish? Catherine spoke for both of us. Yes, we were American. We were not Israeli citizens. We had been visiting our grandparents in Israel. (It was true that our grandparents had moved to Israel a year earlier, and I, standing silently at my big sister’s side, admired her for eliding the fact that we were really in Israel living with our mother, which seemed far more serious.) Yes, she said, we were Jewish.” [NewYorker]
🕍 Tar Heel Tachlis: The Jewish Chronicle’s Dominic Green looks at the state of politics in North Carolina as it relates to the state’s Jewish community. “Then as now, Jews never quite fitted into America’s racial rubric. North Carolina’s Jews supported the Confederacy, and as late as the 1950s, the Jews of High Point, NC organised a statewide debutante cotillion (a Southern coming-out ball). At Williamston, NC in 1925, a mob castrated a salesman named Joseph Needleman after accusing him of looking the wrong way at a white woman. During the Civil Rights era, bombs were planted at synagogues in Gastonia and Charlotte. The Jewish population of North Carolina is growing fast. Jewish Heritage of North Carolina report[s] that since 1980, the Jewish presence in the South Atlantic states has grown by 62 per cent. North Carolina’s Jews have increased by 247 per cent, to 45,935… The arrival of liberals from the cold northern states has empurpled the once-red politics of the South. North Carolina has two Republican senators, and the Republicans run the state senate, but the governor and the attorney general are Democrats. This might seem like the makings of heartwarming amity between the parties, but North Carolina’s politics are as demented as any other state’s. Jews, as ever, are in the middle.” [TheJC]
🇯🇵 Ready to Rahm: The Washington Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee spotlights U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel as he navigates the role of top envoy to a major U.S. ally. “If there’s one word that describes Emanuel’s approach to his new diplomatic incarnation, it’s dynamic. And that dynamism will be on full display this weekend, when the Group of Seven summit takes place in Hiroshima and Emanuel will no doubt be everywhere. Being ambassador to Japan is an important but typically cushy appointment, managing an alliance that has remained largely stable for seven decades and has been bestowed to political giants such as Caroline Kennedy, former vice president Walter Mondale and former Senate majority leader Howard Baker…Emanuel says he’s aware he’s not a cookie-cutter ambassador. ‘I come in color,’ he said, adding that he didn’t take up the post just to attend meetings and write memos. ‘But also, times call for doing something different. … The goal is to put points on the board, get results.’” [WashPost]
Around the Web
🗣️ Trump Talks: Former President Donald Trump gave an exclusive interview to newly launched media startup The Messenger, his first mainstream interview since last week’s CNN town hall.
📄 On the Hill: Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Brian Mast (R-FL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and David Trone (D-MD) reintroduced legislation calling for stricter oversight of U.N. Relief and Works Agency curricula.
🇮🇱 Truman’s Time: In the Washington Post, Gordon Sander looks at the decision made by former President Harry Truman, who had a history of employing antisemitic tropes, in 1948 to recognize Israel’s declaration of statehood.
🏈 Sports Sale: Dan Snyder agreed to formally sell the Washington Commanders to a group led by Josh Harris.
🪑 Succession: The Wall Street Journal spotlights BlackRock’s effort to find and groom a potential successor to CEO Larry Fink, who has led the company for decades.
🤣 Yada, Yada Yada:The New York Times’ Maya Salam reflects on the lingering cultural impact of “Seinfeld” on the 25th anniversary of the airing of its final episode.
👋 Movin’ Out: Singer Billy Joel is putting his Long Island home on the market for $49 million, more than twice what he purchased it for in 2002.
🥤 Fizzy Fun: The New York Timesvisits the Brooklyn Seltzer Boys factory, which includes a new museum dedicated to the manufacturing and history of the carbonated beverage.
📚 Bookshelf: The Wall Street Journalreviews Daniel Gordis’ book Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders’ Dreams?
👑 Across the Pond: King Charles III has indicated that he is interested in visiting Israel, which would make him the first U.K. sitting monarch to visit the Jewish state.
🌍 Nakba Narratives: The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby compares the narrative surrounding the Palestinian “Nakba” with the mid-century expulsions and pogroms that drove most of the Jews in the Arab world to flee their countries.
🎞️ Coming Soon: Oded Raz is set to direct “Jerusalem 67,” a period thriller about the Six-Day War.
🪧 On Strike: Local governments across Israel are striking today in protest of a coalition plan to transfer municipal tax funds from richer municipalities to poorer ones.
🇸🇪 Stockholm Sojourn: Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen traveled to Sweden last night, the first Israeli foreign minister to visit the country in 22 years.
👩 Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Voguespotlights Arab female diplomats who have marked a series of firsts in the field and paved the way for a new generation of women in international diplomacy.
🛰️ Eye on Iran: Iranian-backed militia was reportedly behind the March drone attack that killed a U.S. military contractor and wounded more than two dozen others in northeast Syria.
🌊 Strategy at Sea: The U.S. Department of Defense announced that it will make a series of moves to bolster its defense in the Arabian Gulf after Iran seized two merchant ships in recent weeks.
🇹🇷 Quake Findings: A New York Times investigation and forensic analysis find that flawed design and minimal oversight at Turkey’s upscale Renaissance Residence apartment building, the site of one of the deadliest building collapses in the February earthquake that rockets the country.
💼 Transition: Robert T. (Tom) Flesh was chosen to serve as chair-elect of the Board of Directors of Friends of ELNET.
Pic of the Day
Israeli singer Noa Kirel performs “Unicorn” at the Eurovision Grand Final on Saturday night. Kirel placed third overall, with top honors going to Sweden’s Loreen for “Tattoo.”
Actor and comedian, he most recently appeared in the Broadway production of “Leopoldstadt,” David Krumholtz turns 45…
Principal of Queens-based Muss Development, a major real estate development company founded by his grandfather Isaac in 1906, Joshua Lawrence Muss turns 82… Chairman emeritus of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States, Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim turns 80… VP of the American Zionist Movement and chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Martin Oliner… Retired major general in the IDF, he served as Israel’s national security advisor and is now a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, Yaakov Amidror turns 75… CEO of Emigrant Bank, a leading real estate developer and philanthropist, Howard Philip Milstein turns 72… Owner of Midnight Music Management and one of the founders of The Happy Minyan in Los Angeles, Stuart Wax… Associate editor and columnist at the Washington Post, Ruth Allyn Marcus turns 65… Five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer, filmmaker and Latin media marketing entrepreneur, Giselle Fernandez turns 62… Owner/President of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings since 2004, he is chairman of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Mark Wilf turns 61… Former member of the Nevada Assembly, she served as secretary of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Ellen Barre Spiegel turns 61… Actor and filmmaker, Grant Heslov turns 60… International development and policy strategist, she is the founder of Reeves Advisory, Pamela R. Reeves… Executive director in the Office of Crime Victim Services at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Shira Rosenthal Phelps… Noam Finger turns 45… Executive director at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Daniel M. Rothschild… Actress best known for her role as Tony Soprano’s daughter, Meadow, Jamie-Lynn Sigler turns 42… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author, Eli Eric Saslow turns 41… Senior editor at Vogue, Chloe F. Schama turns 40… Former senior advisor to the secretary of defense and Pentagon lead on the Iron Dome, Eric Lynn… Rochelle Wilner… Ofir Richman…