👋 Good Monday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we scoop the latest updates on the White House’s antisemitism strategy, and talk to California congressional candidate Mike Feuer. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Sam Zell, Tevi Troy and Gov. Brian Kemp.
The White House is expected to release its national strategy to combat antisemitism as soon as this week, Jewish Insider learned on Friday afternoon. More below on what’s included in the latest draft of the text.
As we inch closer to the 2024 elections, eyes are turning to the Eastern Seaboard. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) will announce his future political plans this morning, fueling speculation that the longtime senator, who has held the seat since 2001, may announce his retirement. If he steps aside, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) would be a leading contender to succeed him in 2024.
There currently aren’t any Black women serving in the Senate. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in Maryland, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and, potentially, Blunt Rochester are top contenders to change that.
Also happening this week: Right-wing Pennsylvania legislator Doug Mastriano — who lost the state’s gubernatorial election last year — is teasing a Senate run this week — a development that could damage the GOP’s chances of unseating Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). “Our teams are alive and well in all 67 counties,” Mastriano told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday. “People are ready to go. So we’ll see you next week.”
Businessman Dave McCormick, a mainstream Republican who is also seriously considering a Senate campaign, is planning to make a final decision later in the summer, according to sources familiar with his thinking. Politico reports that McCormick is among the Republicans concerned about the impact of former President Donald Trump on the Pennsylvania Senate race — and hasn’t fully committed to running.
On the national stage, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is launching his presidential campaign today in North Charleston, S.C. He’ll be a formidable force financially: Scott starts out with a hefty $21.9 million in campaign cash from his Senate campaign account, and has already reserved $6 million in ads on television and radio in the critical early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
On top of the campaign cash, Scott’s allied super PAC (funded primarily by Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison) banked $13 million at the end of the year. And he won the endorsement of Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.
That gives Scott two Senate endorsements already, two more than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The future of Israel’s standing in the global arena is front and center today and tomorrow at the Herzliya Conference being held at Reichman University. Israeli President Isaac Herzog opened the conference this morning in conversation with Israeli journalist Tal Shalev. And earlier this afternoon local time, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides discussed the U.S.-Israel security relationship in a session with Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead. Tonight, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is slated to deliver the keynote address.
Among those in Israel this week is Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who yesterday met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss, among other things, opportunities for economic cooperation between the Jewish state and the Peach State. Earlier in the day, Kemp met with Herzog in Jerusalem. Tonight, Kemp will be the guest of honor at a reception hosted by Nides in Herzliya.
President Joe Biden met withUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the G7 in Hiroshima yesterday, as the Ukrainian leader continues his travels — last week, he flew to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the Arab League summit — around the globe in an effort to shore up support for Kiev.
The day before the Biden-Zelensky meeting, Russia’s embassy in Egypt tweeted — and subsequently deleted — a post in which it called Zelensky the head of the “Nazi regime in Kyiv” and alleged the Ukrainian leader “has blood ties to Israel.” A new version of the tweet, which omits references to Israel, was posted shortly thereafter.
Latest draft of White House antisemitism strategy highlights IHRA definition, but also references alternative
The White House’s forthcoming national antisemitism strategy is expected to highlight the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism promoted by mainstream Jewish groups, but also reference the Nexus definition, an alternative promoted by progressives, individuals with knowledge of the strategy told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod on Friday.
Competing definitions: One individual with knowledge of the strategy said that the IHRA definition is “highlighted” in the plan, which also “refers” to the alternative Nexus definition “as a resource” but “doesn’t stress it.” They also noted further changes are still possible. Kenneth Marcus, the chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, said he spoke to individuals who had discussed the strategy with White House officials on Thursday, and said they had provided a similar readout. Marcus said that he was told the White House is planning to include IHRA in a “significant” capacity, but “at least [mention]” the Nexus definition “in a positive way in the document.”
Left out: Another alternative definition, the Jerusalem Declaration, which argues explicitly that boycotts of Israel are not inherently antisemitic, is not expected to be included, according to a source with knowledge of the strategy.
Perceived victory: The Nexus definition’s inclusion in the strategy is likely to be seen as at least a partial victory for progressive Jewish groups that had urged the White House not to endorse the IHRA definition alone.
city of stars
Mike Feuer pitches L.A. voters on three decades of ‘idealism’
Los Angeles is a city of stars. The lineup of candidates running to replace Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) shows it. There’s Ben Savage, the “Boy Meets World” star who has garnered many adoring national headlines but not much political capital, according to federal fundraising reports. Also running is Maebe A. Girl, a well-known local drag queen and representative on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. But analysts say the likely winner in the 30th Congressional District, which is heavily Democratic, will be not these West L.A. personalities but rather one of the several nose-to-the-grindstone local politicians who have entered the race sensing a rare opportunity to win a congressional seat that has been held by Schiff for the last two decades, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
On the scene: No one in the race has been on the L.A. political scene longer than Mike Feuer, who until last year was the Los Angeles city attorney. He previously served on the L.A. City Council and in the state Assembly. Though the race is still a year away, Feuer led the other candidates in fundraising in the first quarter of this year, bringing in $657,000 in contributions.
Still an optimist: Feuer’s pitch is that his decades in public service have left him no less impassioned than when he was a young lawyer running Bet Tzedek, a legal services nonprofit that began with the aim of helping indigent Holocaust survivors — and that his excitement, coupled with his experience actually governing, makes him the right candidate for the district. “I’ve devoted my entire career to being a very idealistic leader who brings those values to fashioning practical solutions to tough issues,” Feuer told JI in an interview last week.
Status quo likely in Israel-Turkey relations, regardless of who wins Turkish election
As Turkey heads to a second round of voting for its president on Sunday, Israelis are watching the election closely and hoping that whomever emerges victorious will continue building, or at least maintaining, the fragile diplomatic ties recently refreshed between the two countries. Most predict that the incumbent president, Turkey’s long-serving conservative leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will once again prevail. But the fact that this election came down to the wire – an unprecedented run-off against opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of a mostly liberal and secular coalition and a member of the country’s tiny Alevi sect – shows the sharp divisions in a country dogged by a struggling economy and still reeling from a deadly earthquake that killed some 50,000 people, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Shaky but steady: The ability of Erdogan, a conservative Islamist who is often forthright and vocal in his criticism of the Jewish state even when relations are improving, to win reelection is arguably good for Israel, analysts and experts watching the election closely told JI. All of them agreed that regardless of the outcome, there will be little change to the shaky but now steady diplomatic ties between the two regional nations.
‘Normalization architect’: Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, a Turkish expert based at Tel Aviv University, told JI that because the decision to normalize ties with Israel was made by Erdogan himself – after more than a decade of frosty diplomacy – it is unlikely that he will upend the relationship again anytime soon. “If you asked me before the normalization, my answer would be very different,” said Cohen Yanarocak. “But the current normalization architect is Mr. Erdogan and despite recent tensions in the Gaza Strip, on the Temple Mount, or with Lebanon, we are still seeing that the current Turkish government is willing to preserve that normalization.”
doctors and deals
Stem cells, medical research pave path to Abraham Accords cooperation
A senior stem cell researcher from the United Arab Emirates and a Moroccan pharmaceutical company took part in Israel’s largest biomedical conference last week, highlighting how the Abraham Accords have led to cooperation in the medical technology field, Melanie Lidman reports for The Circuit. Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi, executive director of the Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center, and Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, executive director of the Dubai Science Park, addressed the BioMed Israel conference.
Just do it: The May 16-18 gathering in Tel Aviv brought together thousands of medical industry leaders from 45 different countries. Morocco was represented by Laprophan, a pharmaceutical company based in Casablanca. “There was this period of getting to know each other, which I think we’re now almost over with, and now everyone is saying OK, let’s just do things together,” Janahi told The Circuit.
Quick scan: “I was on one of the first missions to come,” Al Kaabi said. “It was during COVID and the streets were empty, but the energy was beautiful.” She recalled meeting with a number of Israeli medical startups on her first trip, one of which, Seegnal, she is now using at the ADSCC. The company does a quick and immediate scan of a patient’s medical chart to ensure that any medicine that a doctor wants to prescribe will not have dangerous interactions with other medications a patient is taking and is safe based on the patient’s known medical history.
Chicago billionaire Sam Zell, 81, had a close relationship with the UAE’s royal family
Sam Zell, the blunt-talking, motorcycle-riding Chicago tycoon who sold his real estate business for $39 billion and invested disastrously in newspapers, died last week at 81. Zell, who made his fortune buying and selling distressed properties, delighted at being known as “the grave dancer.” His 2007 acquisition for $8.2 billion of the Tribune Co. collapsed a year later when the media giant that owned the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times filed for bankruptcy, The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger reports.
Love of risk: Born to an Orthodox Jewish family that fled Poland months before he was born, Zell was a firm supporter of Israel and also developed a close relationship with the royal family in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In a 2007 profile for The New Yorker, writer Connie Bruck described how Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, now president of the United Arab Emirates and known as MBZ, was intrigued by the Chicago investor’s love of risk.
Quotable: “They are taken with Sam because, I think, he speaks candidly to them and doesn’t necessarily affirm their view,” The New Yorker quoted Gary Garrabrant as saying. Garrabrant was at the time CEO of Equity International, a private-equity company owned by Zell which invested in real estate-related businesses outside the United States. Bruck recalled a trip to Abu Dhabi during which Zell and a colleague were at their hotel, preparing to see MBZ, when two dishdashas were delivered to their rooms as a gift. “‘Let’s wear them!’ Zell exclaimed. Their hosts laughed uproariously at the sight of the two Jews in flowing Arab robes,” Bruck wrote.
🇷🇺 Russia Rumblings: In a speech adapted for The Atlantic, Eliot A. Cohen, a former counselor at the State Department, considers the dangers of a Russian victory in Ukraine and suggests how the West can best support Kiev. “A Russia that prevails would be a Russia even further empowered to meddle in Europe and to expand its influence with unlimited violence; a Russia that will have learned that it can commit slaughter and atrocities with impunity; a Russia whose ambitions will grow with success. A Russian victory would, as well, teach the world that the West — including the United States — lacks the resolve, despite its wealth, to follow through on its commitments, offering Beijing an encouraging lesson. Conversely, Russian defeat would put Beijing — already somewhat nervous about its partner’s incompetence and wild statements — on the defensive, consolidate the Western alliance, and help preserve some of the essential norms of decent behavior in those parts of the world most important to us. Above all, it would block the Russian imperial project for good, because without Ukraine, as the historian Dominic Lieven has noted, Russia cannot be an empire.” [TheAtlantic]
🕍 Trial and Tribulations: The Washington Post’s David Nakamura visits Pittsburgh as the city’s Jewish community prepares for the upcoming trial of the Tree of Life shooter and simultaneously begins renovations on the synagogue to transform it into a museum. “‘It’s easy to be discouraged by the ugliness and uncivil discourse,’ [Rabbi Jeffrey] Myers said. ‘I don’t look at it that I’m failing. I look at it as it reaffirms the choice I made, and there need to be voices to stand up and say, “This is not okay.”’ At the synagogue ceremony, he sought to lift up the congregants, referring to the seven decades the building had served the community: ‘We cannot, we must not, permit one day out of 25,993 days, to define us, nor outweigh all the good. Not only do these venerated walls hold great stories, but so do all of you assembled here today. And no one can take that away from us.’ The congregants were invited to place stones in the garden as a sign of respect. Myers was overcome by emotion as he picked up a screwdriver to remove a mezuza — the decorative case holding a parchment with Biblical passages that adorns Jewish doorways — that had been affixed to the synagogue’s main entrance since it opened in 1952. He sobbed quietly while wrapping the mezuza in a handkerchief and slipping it into his overcoat. It will be placed above the entrance of the renovated facility, which planners hope will open early next year.” [WashPost]
👀 History Lessons: In The New York Post, Tevi Troy compares the friction between President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Eric Adams to the feud between former President Jimmy Carter and former Mayor Ed Koch. “The underlying reason for that feud was Carter’s Israel policy, but the actions and reactions are similar to the current one. Koch relentlessly criticized Carter’s Israel policy, and Carter responded with snubs. In one case, in October 1977, shortly before Koch’s election as mayor, Carter disinvited Koch from a limousine ride with the UN president. Snubs did not stop Koch, though. He continued to criticize Carter and his team and was even friendly to Carter’s 1980 Republican challenger Ronald Reagan when Reagan visited New York on the campaign trail, although he did not break party ranks and officially endorse Reagan. Carter fumed over Koch’s criticism. At a 1980 fundraiser, Carter himself complained to Koch that ‘you have done me more damage than any man in America.’ The feud had real consequences for Carter… This history is important, since the current feud could be harmful to Biden’s reelection efforts, both in a potential primary challenge, but also in a general election.” [NYPost]
🎵 Dark Notes: In an excerpt from his upcoming book published in The Wall Street Journal, Makana Eyre spotlights the lifelong effort of Aleksander Kulisiewicz, a Sachenhausen inmate who spent decades documenting how concentration camp inmates incorporated music into their lives. “At camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Majdanek and Dachau, inmates had gathered to share music and poetry. Some prisoners composed original scores, from popular songs to classical or modern music, many of true artistic quality. Others wrote new lyrics to melodies they knew by heart… As Kulisiewicz documented, the SS used music to tire, humiliate and break prisoners. They were forced to sing cheery German folk songs as they marched to and from their work assignments, or during torturous physical activity. Camp orchestras were ordered to play during punishments and executions. Yet music could also lift people from despondency and hopelessness, even if for just a moment. Prisoners formed choirs, string quartets, harmonica troupes and performed for their fellow inmates, sometimes at great risk. One prisoner, Bohdan Rossa, attended a performance of a secret string quartet at Sachsenhausen. He later wrote of the experience, ‘After the first few notes I thought I had a fever. It ran hot and cold down my back. It was like a dream.’” [WSJ]
💌 Shadchan Spotlight: In New York magazine, Hannah Jackson looks at the resurgent popularity of matchmaking in the Jewish community. “What was once seen as desperate is slowly becoming de rigueur. Dating apps evolved in a similar way. But today, there is no shortage of reporting on how online dating mostly just frustrates young singles. The lack of courtesy and seemingly endless choices of dating-app culture has bred a Prisoner’s Dilemma of sorts, fostering an environment that punishes sincerity and rewards indifference. It’s a concept that can feel completely antithetical to finding a real partner. But using a matchmaker could make things easier. Instead of questioning your date’s intentions, you already know that they’re getting drinks with you because they really are looking for something romantic — not just sex or even an ego boost. And if you both used the matchmaking service to find each other, it can feel like permission has been granted for both parties to act with earnestness.” [NYMag]
Around the Web
🎤 Congressional Chutzpah: C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman put together a compilation of House and Senate legislators — none of them Jewish — peppering addresses with the classic Yiddish word “chutzpah.”
👟 Yeezy Go, Yeezy Come: Adidas will resume sales of its stockpile of Yeezy footwear by the end of the month, with a pledge to give the proceeds to anti-hate organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League.
📗 Novel Turn: The Wall Street Journal interviewed U.S. Marine-turned-novelist Elliot Ackerman about his career trajectory ahead of the release of his new book, Halcyon, out this week.
✍️ Eye on His Own Attack: Writer Salman Rushdie said over the weekend that he is writing a book about the assassination attempt against him at a literary festival in upstate New York last year in which he lost an eye.
📽️ Film Review: Varietyreviews “The Zone of Interest,” a film based on the 2014 book by Martin Amis, who died the day of the film’s premiere at Cannes, about the family life of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss during WWII.
🐁 Fievel Goes Midwest: The Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis is debuting a stage adaptation of “An American Tail,” the 1986 cartoon film about a Jewish family of mice that immigrates to the U.S.
🪧 Teachable Moment: In Foreign Policy, Aaron David Miller and Daniel Miller suggest lessons that Americans can learn from Israel’s protest movement.
👰🤵 Mazel Tov: The Jewish community in Kerala, India, celebrated the first traditional Jewish wedding held in the state in 15 years.
🦭 Seal in the Spotlight: The New York Timesspotlights Yulia, the monk seal that decamped to a Jaffa beach and captured the attention of beach-going Israelis and marine biologists alike.
🪖 Military Display: Hezbollah held military training exercises in southern Lebanon ahead of the annual commemoration of the Israeli withdrawal from the region in 2000, which will take place later this week.
👨 Minister on the Mount: Israeli Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount, declaring that the Israeli government is “in charge here in Jerusalem and all of the land of Israel,” drawing condemnation from the U.S. for the “provocative visit.”
🏨 Celeb Spot:The Wall Street Journal explores how Gulf nations are becoming attractive destinations for Western celebrities, influencers and businesspeople.
🇸🇾 Syria Talks: The Biden administration is engaging in a new round of direct talks with Syria over journalist Austin Tice, who was last seen in the country more than a decade ago.
🛑 Stopping Assad: Semafor’s Jay Solomon looks into new legislation on Capitol Hill targeting Syria amid warming ties between Damascus and much of the Arab world.
🧕 Hijab Wars: The Financial Times looks at how religious conservatives in Iran are responding to the protests roiling the country and the opposition to and defiance of the country’s morality laws.
👮 On the Border: Iran said it arrested members of a group connected to Israel that it said infiltrated the country through its border with Iraq.
🇮🇷 Iran Talks: Foreign ministers from European Union member countries are meeting today to discuss further sanctions against Iran, including on additional members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
🕍 Cairo Celebration: A Siyum Harambam event, marking the completion of a study cycle of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, was held in Cairo for the first time in some 25 years, in the presence of Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Amira Oren.
Pic of the Day
Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff became the first rabbi given the “Guest of Honor” distinction at the Marine Barracks Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington over the weekend. It was the barracks’ first Shabbat minyan featuring a rabbi who served as a Navy combat veteran.
Resnicoff, who served in the Vietnam War, and his daughter stayed in the top-floor rooms at Center House, the officer’s club at the barracks, in order to observe Shabbat.
British writer, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker, Hannah Mary Rothschild turns 61…
Senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Irwin M. Stelzer turns 91… Retired U.S. district court judge from Massachusetts, now a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, Nancy Gertner turns 77… Award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker since 1989, Connie Bruck… Former Skadden partner and then vice-chair at Citibank, J. Michael Schell turns 76… Cognitive scientist and CEO emeritus of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Philip E. Rubin turns 74… Director emeritus of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Ambassador Bradley Gordon turns 74… Gloria Woodlock… Charles Scott… Former member of Knesset from the Zionist Union party, he was previously a major general in the IDF, Eyal Ben-Reuven turns 69… Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Dianne F. Lob… Former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s 1st district, now a business and transactional attorney in Phoenix, Sam Coppersmith turns 68… Senior consultant as to philanthropy and impact at private equity firm Cresset Capital, Sandy Cardin… U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) turns 66… General partner of Google Ventures where he co-leads the life science investment team, David Schenkein turns 66…
Former head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, he was the winning coach of the EuroLeague Championship in 2014 with Maccabi Tel Aviv, David Blatt turns 64… Partner at Sidley & Austin, he clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist in the 1996 term, David H. Hoffman turns 56… Former MLB relief pitcher, Alan Brian “Al” Levine turns 55… Author and Harvard Law School professor, Noah Feldman turns 53… Israeli cookbook author and TV cookery show host, Shaily Lipa turns 49… Israel’s former minister of communications, Yoaz Hendel turns 48… Author, actress, producer, she served until two months ago as Israel’s special envoy for combating antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel, Noa Tishby… Executive director of American Compass, Oren Cass… Co-founder of Facebook, Dustin Aaron Moskovitz turns 39… Retired slot receiver and kick returner for the NFL’s New England Patriots, member of three Super Bowl winning teams, Julian Edelman turns 37… Co-founder and former CEO of the dating app Tinder, Sean Rad turns 37… Senior national security and White House correspondent for McClatchy, Michael Wilner… Maryland Democratic Party elected official and incoming Harvard Law student, Alex Friedman… Law clerk at NYC’s Kaplan Hecker & Fink, Peter Walker Kaplan… Emma Kaplan… Aryeh Jacobson… Rebecca Weiss… Benjamin Weiss…