👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the possible successors to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, and feature Israeli humanitarian CEOs on the podcast. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Anna Kaplan, Wendy Sherman and Mark Dubowitz.
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider and The Circuit stories, including: Hours before deadly attack, coexistence on display at Tunisian Jewish festival; Netanyahu struggles to hold pragmatists, conservatives together within Likud; Trump, McConnell tensions play out in Kentucky GOP gubernatorial primary; Emily Tisch Sussman and the power of the ‘pivot’; Three Jewish Democrats among top contenders in Philadelphia mayoral race; Lawmakers introduce first-ever bipartisan and bicameral resolution honoring Jewish American Heritage Month; China’s tech-driven port in Haifa aims for interconnected Mideast; and Bernie Sanders hosts Rashida Tlaib’s ‘Nakba Day’ after Kevin McCarthy canceled it. Print the latest edition here.
Former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) is one top contender to replace Tom Nides as the U.S. ambassador to Israel, two individuals familiar with the nomination process told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod. But observers also say the administration may not actually pick a new ambassador before the November 2024 presidential election, given time and political constraints.
Nides informed Embassy staff earlier this week that he intends to depart the post this summer.
Other candidates said to be under consideration in addition to Wexler include Democratic fundraiser Michael Adler, currently the U.S. ambassador to Belgium; former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY); former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, who served from 2011-2017; and Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Aaron Keyak.
One source noted that Wexler, who served in the House from 1997 to 2010 and currently is the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, “is in a strong position and already has established relationships with the Israelis.” Asked about a potential nomination, Wexler told JI, “At this point, there is nothing to share.” Israel and Shapiro did not respond to requests for comment.
Adler would have to leave his current post in Brussels, and Israel, who runs a bookstore on Long Island and is a political commentator, may not want to jump back into the political fray. Shapiro is currently the director of the N7 Initiative and a distinguished fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Programs. Israel, Adler, Shapiro and Wexler were all previously considered for the position in the Biden administration.
One source noted that it might be difficult for the administration to find a nominee who would receive Republican support in the Senate, “so the question is if Wexler can get through the Senate.”
Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told us that he thinks the administration is leaning toward leaving current Deputy Chief of Mission Stephane Hallet in place as charge d’affaires until after the end of President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, a possibility that was also floated by another source we spoke with.
“The reality is that from here on in, risk-aversion will pertain to foreign policy as the presidential sweepstakes moves forward. Domestic politics — already a key constraint — will become more so. I don’t know where a U.S. ambassador fits in the broader scheme of things and how urgent it is with a very strong DCM,” Miller said. “The last thing anybody would want is a fight in Congress over that. So unless you can identify a non-stick Teflon candidate who’d sail through confirmation, why rush?” Read more here.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Shermanwill leave the position this summer, with a formal announcement expected in the coming days. Sherman, who served as lead U.S. negotiator in the lead-up to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, was confirmed by the Senate in April 2021.
Israel suffered its first fatality of the latest round of rocket fire by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza when a projectile struck a building in the city of Rehovot due to an Iron Dome malfunction, killing one person and wounding five others yesterday.
The flare-up of violence entered its fourth day today, as rockets continued to pummel Israeli communities, mostly in the south, but also reaching Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Israel pressed on with Operation Shield and Arrow, targeting Islamic Jihad military posts and rocket launchers, and killing senior officials of the terrorist group.
eye on yemen
Iran has continued its weapon, drug shipments to Yemen despite Saudi pact, U.S. envoy says
The U.S. special envoy for Yemen said on Thursday that Iran’s shipments of weapons and drugs to proxy forces in Yemen have continued despite the China-brokered agreement to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Continuing behavior: Tim Lenderking told reporters in an online briefing that Iran’s shipments, which have helped fuel the yearslong war in Yemen, have persisted since the agreement earlier this year. “The Iranians have continued to smuggle weaponry and narcotics toward this conflict, and we are very concerned that this would continue despite the benefits that would come from a Saudi-Iran deal. So I think that is a space we have to watch,” Lenderking said, according to Reuters. “Despite the fact that we welcomed an agreement between the Saudis and the Iranians, I remain concerned about Iran’s role.”
Future outlook: Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, predicted further Iranian breaches. “The Saudi agreement with the Islamic Republic in Iran will end in tears. This is merely the beginning of what will be massive violations of the understandings that the Saudis believe they reached in Beijing with Tehran,” Dubowitz said. “China will now be on the hook to enforce the agreement or be yet another superpower embarrassed by regime perfidy.”
on the hill
New resolution championed by Tlaib calls for Biden to apply genocide prevention law to Israel
On the same day that she hosted a controversial “Nakba Day” event on Capitol Hill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) also introduced a resolution that would ask the Biden administration to target Israel with a law aimed at preventing genocides and other major atrocities, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. Tlaib, joined by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO), introduced a resolution seeking to recognize the Nakba, the Arabic term — translating to “catastrophe” — that Palestinians use to describe the founding of the State of Israel.
Administration ask: The legislation includes a provision asking that the administration apply the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 to “the treatment of Palestinians by Israel (both state and nonstate actors),” and provide support and protection for civil society and human rights groups “working to monitor, document, prevent, and respond to atrocities.” The Elie Wiesel Act requires the Department of State to provide specialized training for foreign service officers “who will be assigned to a country experiencing or at risk of mass atrocities,” including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, as well as provide an annual strategy and report to Congress on efforts to prevent atrocities in such countries.
Reaction: Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) noted that the resolution’s introduction comes amid an ongoing rocket barrage by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group in Gaza targeting Israeli civilian areas. Israel has responded with airstrikes on Islamic Jihad targets, including senior officials from the terror group. “The response to those rockets is Iron Dome defending Israeli citizens, that also means Israel doesn’t have to go into Gaza on a ground operation,” Schneider continued, referring to Israel’s missile-defense system. “Islamic Jihad is threatening the lives of civilians on both sides of the border. I pray every day for a pathway to two states.”
Senators critique administration’s Sudan policy, call for additional sanctions
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pressed administration officials on Wednesday to take stronger action in response to the ongoing conflict between rival military factions in Sudan, including imposing sanctions on some of the key actors involved in the conflict, and condemned what they described as a failed Sudan policy from the administration, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Falling short: Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said he did not place full blame on the Biden administration for the long-deteriorating situation, but the U.S. “fell short of the challenge” in failing to immediately condemn and impose sanctions on the coup perpetrators, and said the U.S. needs to reassess its procedures to determine how it was “blindsided” by the recent outbreak of violence. “We neglected the need for accountability,” Menendez said. “We failed to push hard enough for inclusive civilian participation. And we ended up legitimizing and entrenching those with guns at the expense of the Sudanese people’s democratic aspirations.”
Sanctions call: Menendez pressed Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, specifically on whether the administration would apply targeted sanctions to pressure the militant factions to reach an agreement. Nuland noted that a May 4 executive order established sanctions authority, but that the administration is still deciding how and to whom to apply those sanctions “depending upon how the talks go.” She said that there have been talks with U.S. partners to ensure that any sanctions imposed are multilateral.
Special envoy: Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) pushed for the creation of a high-level special envoy dedicated to the situation in Sudan, an idea Menendez endorsed. Nuland said that U.S. Ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey, who was evacuated from the country, will be playing a similar role in helping to mediate talks. Menendez argued that the U.S. needs a representative who reports directly to the president or secretary of state.
Bonus: Representatives of the two warring generals in Sudan agreed, in a deal brokered by Saudi and U.S. officials today in Riyadh, to allow humanitarian aid into the country and to protect civilians.
Putting a spotlight on Israeli international aid
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s podcast, co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein are joined by Dyonna Ginsburg, CEO of OLAM, and Tanyah Murkes, CEO of the Society for International Development (SID) Israel, for a discussion on Jewish and Israeli development and humanitarian aid around the world. Both Ginsburg and Murkes were in Washington, D.C., this week for OLAM’s annual Focal Point summit, a gathering for Jewish service organizations to share ideas and advice.
On international development challenges: “It’s getting governments and policy and decision-makers more involved,” Murkes said. “Whether it’s on budget, whether it’s on legislation that’s relevant, whether it’s on strategic planning, that’s something that’s lacking. Another challenge is duplicity and different agencies working in either the same place or in the same field and getting them to work together, as I mentioned, in order to get a larger impact. And getting everybody in the same room to play ball by a certain standard as well, professional standard.”
On Israel’s giving culture: “Whether it’s ailing Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe or tsunami victims somewhere in Asia,” Ginsburg said, “Israelis, compared to citizens of other Western countries, give far less, globally… There is a long-standing tradition of Israel and Israelis showing up for people in need around the world, but I think culturally, you don’t necessarily see that translate into giving, although it’s possible that there was an inflection point in the Ukraine crisis, which is unique in many ways, but I know from some of my colleagues at the Society for International Development Israel, that the private sector in Israel really stepped up in ways that it had never done before wanting to aid those in this particular crisis. So that might be a slight turning point in terms of a more globally minded Israeli citizenry.”
Read the full story here and tune in to the Limited Liability podcast here.
🎹 Dancing Under the Iron Dome: The Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov reflects on attending an outdoor concert in Tel Aviv in the middle of a military operation. “On the train ride into Tel Aviv, I sent the Post quotes from a diplomatic source saying there definitely won’t be a ceasefire tonight. Yet even that didn’t prepare me for the surreality of dancing under the Iron Dome. Tel Aviv is often maligned as a bubble. In fact, Tel Aviv has been the site of some of the worst terrorist attacks in the past decade, and the same was true in the Second Intifada, the 1990s bus bombings and others. But Tel Aviv is also intensely vibrant. It is the throbbing nerve center of Israeli culture. It is a city that looks for any excuse to have a big party. No terrorists are going to stop that. While some were critical of people partying in the Tel Aviv bubble while the South was hiding in shelters, the truth is more complex than that. Those of us in a safe enough place to leave the house and party must do it, within reason. Because if you cancel your parties and you stop singing and dancing, you’re giving in to the terrorists.” [JPost]
📺 What’s in a Name?: In The New York Times, Connie Wang spotlights the popularity of the name “Connie” among a generation of first-generation Asian-American women, influenced by journalist Connie Chung. “The story of Generation Connie is a small slice of the story of Asian immigration to the United States, much of which is not unique to us. Changes to immigration law in 1965 brought a wave of ambitious and relatively fortunate families to this country who then had to find new footholds, often in majority-white communities. Their American-born children were all raised with the dreams, worries and aspirations that form out of profound culture shock. But the names these parents gave their children represented so many different approaches to handling this shock: holding on, letting go, diving in, reaching out for a lifeline. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all the Connies I spoke to describe their mothers in similar terms: as leaders, brave, athletic, creative, successful, idealistic, capable. These moms were architects, editors and medical professionals, who’d often had to abandon their careers and reinvent themselves upon moving to a new country, who looked at the television and saw how things might be different for their daughters.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
👨 Staying in the House? Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told Punchbowl News that he wasn’t quite ready to leave the House to run for the Senate. “The truth is I love the work on the Oversight Committee,” he told the publication.
⚠️ Breaking Bad: Top Democratic officials have reportedly expressed anxiety about the state of President Biden’s reelection operation, with some advisers arguing that the pieces for a campaign were not yet in place at the time of the launch and that the White House needed more time for the transition.
🙅♂️ Young and the Restless: Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), who isn’t up for reelection until 2028, said he does not plan to support Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, citing the former president’s refusal to call Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal during CNN’s town hall.
🗳️ O Henry: NARAL Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights advocacy group, said it is committed to another primary challenge against Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), the only pro-life Democrat in Congress. Cuellar hasn’t drawn an opponent yet.
📄 On the Hill: Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and David Kustoff (R-TN) introduced a resolution with 52 co-sponsors honoring the work of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
📨 Letter Writing: Reps. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) led 20 bipartisan colleagues in writing letters to United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging them to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
🇸🇾 Syria Strategy: Reps. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), French Hill (R-AR), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Aumata Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS) and Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) introduced a bill requiring the administration to lay out a strategy to counter the normalization of Syria and expand sanctions targeting Syria.
✍️ Cutting a Deal: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) inked an agreement with Brazilian prosecutors to confess to charges involving the use of bad checks in Brazil in 2008, and will pay restitution and fines in order to avoid prosecution.
🏃♀️ She’s Running: Former New York state Sen. Anna Kaplan, a Democrat, announced a bid for the congressional seat held by Santos.
👟 Sneaks Sale: Adidas will sell its remaining stock of Yeezy sneakers and donate the proceeds to charity, months after the sportswear company cut ties with Ye over his antisemitic remarks.
💎 Undersold: Prized pieces of jewelry that belonged to the wife of a German businessman who benefited from Nazi-era policies targeting Jews fell short of their expected prices at a Christie’s auction following a campaign by Jewish groups to halt the sales.
🇩🇪 Munich Move: The European Conference of Rabbis will move its headquarters from London to Munich, where it plans to open a center for Jewish life catering to the continent’s rabbis.
🪖 Army Apology: The IDF apologized for the death of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a year after she was shot during a skirmish between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants in the West Bank.
👮 Round-the-Clock Security: Iranian-American dissident Masih Alinejad is receiving 24-hour police protection for the duration of her stay in the U.K. following what local officials said were credible threats to her safety.
➡️ Transition: Matea Gold is becoming a managing editor at the Washington Post, which she joined in 2013.
🕯️ Remembering: “General Hospital” actress Jacklyn Zeman died at 70. Psychologist Stanton Samenow died at 81.
Pic of the Day
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog visited the Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Mo., on Thursday to pay tribute to former President Harry Truman for his recognition of the State of Israel shortly after David Ben-Gurion proclaimed its independence on May 14, 1948. Among those who participated in the ceremony was Truman’s grandson Clifton Truman Daniel.
“We are commemorating here today the initial spark of what has become 75 years of a deep, unique bond between our countries,” Herzog said. “This is a bond anchored in shared values and interests as well as a special affinity between our peoples. I feel honored to have been invited to speak and reflect on these 75 years of friendship.”
Co-founder of Asana, Justin Rosenstein turns 40 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Philanthropist, co-founder and first CEO of Home Depot, Bernard “Bernie” Marcus turns 94… Israeli agribusiness entrepreneur and real estate investor, Gideon Bickel turns 79… World renowned architect and master planner for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, Daniel Libeskind turns 77… Former member of the California State Senate and California State Assembly, Lois Wolk turns 77… Chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff turns 71… Former Washington correspondent for the Miami Herald covering the Pentagon, James Martin Rosen turns 68… Professor at Emory University School of Law, Michael Jay Broyde turns 59… Actress, Jamie Michelle Luner turns 52… Founder of strategic communications and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies, Matthew Hiltzik turns 51… Communications officer in the D.C. office of Open Society Foundations, Jonathan E. Kaplan… First-ever Jewish governor of Colorado, Jared Polis turns 48… Principal at New Heights Communications, Joshua Cohen… Senior writer at Forbes covering the intersection of technology and society, Alexandra S. Levine… Executive director at the Rare Disease Company Coalition, Amanda Schechter Malakoff… Civics outreach manager at Google, Erica Arbetter… Haifa-born actress and model, Odeya Rush turns 26…
SATURDAY: South African-born attorney, now based in London, Sir Sydney Lipworth QC turns 92… Film, television and stage actress, Zohra Lampert turns 86… Academy Award-winning actor and producer, Harvey Keitel turns 84… Ophthalmologist in South Florida, Dr. Joel Sandberg turns 80… Former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at American Jewish University and the first executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Samuel Edelman turns 75… Chief scientific officer for COVID-19 response in the Biden administration, David A. Kessler turns 72… Founder and former CEO of LRN, Dov Seidman turns 59… Chair of JFNA’s National Women’s Philanthropy Board and chair of the Hartford (CT) Federation, Carolyn Gitlin… Retired NFL defensive lineman, Josh Heinrich Taves, a/k/a Josh Heinrich, turns 51… Ice hockey player, she won a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Sara Ann DeCosta turns 46… U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) turns 46… Chief community and Jewish life officer at The Jewish Federations of North America, Sarah Eisenman… Former Israel director for J Street, later chief of staff for Israel’s Ministry for Regional Cooperation, Yael Patir … CEO of London-based iNHouse Communications, she was a member of Parliament, Luciana Berger turns 42… Retired NFL offensive lineman, he played for seven NFL teams, Brian de la Puente turns 38… Actress, writer, producer and director, Lena Dunham turns 37… Hannah Sirdofsky… Co-founder of Manna Tree Partners, a private equity firm focused on healthy food, Gabrielle “Ellie” Rubenstein… Product marketing manager at Dive, Bela Galit Krifcher… Columbia Law School student, Dore Lev Feith… Director of external affairs at the Manhattan Institute, Jesse Martin Arm… Gold medalist for Israel in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Linoy Ashram turns 24… Head of operations at Jigsaw, Raquel Saxe…
SUNDAY: Midtown NYC hair stylist and owner of La Boîte a Coupe, Elie Laurent Delouya… The Green Party’s nominee for president of the United States in the 2012 and 2016 elections, Jill Stein turns 73… Professor of computer science at Technion, Orna Grumberg turns 71… Dean of UC Berkeley Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky turns 70… Los Angeles city attorney until six months ago, he is running for Adam Schiff’s seat in Congress, Mike Feuer turns 65… Author, Robert Greene turns 64… Head Of school at the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, Daniel L. Lehmann turns 61… ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor and football sideline reporter, Suzanne Lisa “Suzy” Kolber turns 59… Legislative assistant for defense, foreign policy and veterans affairs for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Robert Levinson turns 58… Chief compliance and integrity officer at Yale New Haven Health, she is a former seven term Connecticut State Senator, Gayle Slossberg… Education program lead of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Howard Wolfson… Managing partner of MVAR Media and a Democratic strategist, Jon Vogel… Political director for the Northeast region at AIPAC, Jason Koppel… Executive producer at NBC’s “Meet the Press,” David Philip Gelles… Director of media relations at Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Mordechai “Motti” Seligson… Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Meta / Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg turns 39… Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek reporter, Josh Eidelson… Actress who has appeared in thirteen movies, Sasha Rebecca Spielberg turns 33… Managing director of government relations at The Blackstone Group, Alex I. Katz… Judicial law clerk for a USDC judge in Louisville, Ky., he is a former track star and then football player at Harvard, Andrew Ezekoye… Forward for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Jack Hughes turns 22…