👋 Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the status of the bipartisan effort to create an ambassador-rank special envoy focused on the Abraham Accords, and report the latest on the North Carolina Democratic Party’s revised platform. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Ted Deutch, Claudia Sheinbaum and Arabella Kushner.
A House vote scheduled last night on creating an ambassador-rank special envoy for advancing the Abraham Accords was postponed amid tensions between Republican factions over the debt limit deal. Read more below.
This afternoon on Capitol Hill, Barbara Leaf, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East and North Africa subcommittee. Earlier in the day, HFAC’s oversight and accountability subcommittee is slated to hold a hearing on the State Department’s DEIA accessibility budget for the coming year.
The House Armed Services Committee released its first draft of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes $50 million for joint research and development on anti-terrorism technology with Israel, as well as reauthorizing U.S.-Israel anti-tunneling cooperation through 2026.
It would also require reports from the Defense Department on the status of U.S. stockpiles of precision-guided munitions in Israel and on possibilities for future U.S.-Israel cooperation in advanced technologies. The latter report, paired with the $50 million fund, appears to advance goals laid out in the United States-Israel Future of Warfare Act.
Further additions are likely at the full committee markup later this month and in an open amendment process when the bill comes to the House floor.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX)announced that her committee would limit its fiscal year 2024 spending proposals to fiscal year 2022 levels, rather than fiscal year 2023 levels as agreed to in the bipartisan debt ceiling agreement.
on the horizon
Abraham Accords envoy bill vote postponed, but signs of progress on the horizon
Tensions between House Republican leadership and conservatives aligned with the Freedom Caucus over the bipartisan debt limit deal upended a scheduled House vote on Monday evening on a bipartisan bill proposed by Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Mike Lawler (R-NY) establishing an ambassador-rank special envoy for advancing the Abraham Accords, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
What’s next: House business is expected to resume on Tuesday following talks between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and conservative critics, and a vote on the envoy bill is expected. The bill is likely to receive broad bipartisan support — and there is movement on the initiative in the Senate and the administration as well.
Senate progress: While the bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate, an individual familiar with the legislation said that Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff had indicated that the initiative would be included in an upcoming package aimed at supporting the Abraham Accords and Negev Forum. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not respond to a request for comment.
Administration angle: Secretary of State Tony Blinken confirmed last week that the administration is planning to create a new position to advance the administration’s efforts to expand the Abraham Accords. The individual familiar with the bill told JI that they believe an administration appointment would be in line with the goals of the bill and show that the administration shares lawmakers’ view that a dedicated envoy for the Abraham Accords would be beneficial. They added, however, that an administration appointment alone would not eliminate the need for the legislation. The individual noted that the bill would protect and make the position permanent by codifying it into law and placing the onus on both the current and subsequent administrations to keep the position filled.
AJC CEO reviews first 8 months on the job, citing work in the Gulf, efforts to combat antisemitism
The American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum kicked off in Tel Aviv Sunday night, before a crowd of 1,500 attendees from around the world. On the main stage at Sunday night’s plenary, Israeli President Isaac Herzog sat in conversation with AJC’s CEO. But for the first time in decades, the organization’s head was not David Harris, who stepped down last year, but Ted Deutch, who assumed the global NGO’s top job last fall after more than a decade in Congress. Ahead of the start of Global Forum, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss sat down with Deutch to discuss the transition, AJC’s efforts in the Gulf and the organization’s priorities under Deutch’s leadership.
On Deutch’s recent visit to the UAE where he met with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi: “He shares the same desire that we at AJC feel, that people who care about Israel feel, which is to really capitalize on what we’ve got and on what the Abraham Accords represents, and that means really trying to go full speed ahead and to make sure that there aren’t hurdles that stand in the way, that some of the political discourse that happens on the outside shouldn’t interfere,” Deutch said. “We were very clear about this, that whatever politics are happening in the region — there always politics in the region — but that shouldn’t interfere with this transformative change that the Abraham Accords represents and that you see firsthand when you’re on the ground in the UAE.”
On AJC’s place in the alphabet soup of Jewish organizations: “There’s not another organization that gives someone the opportunity to engage on behalf of the Jewish people in all of the areas where that help is needed,” Deutch said. “So the diplomatic work that we do, whether it’s through our offices around the world, or in embassies in Washington, consulates all around the United States where we’re maintaining really close relationships, the U.N. where we have active engagement by both professionals and lay leadership.”
North Carolina Dems move forward with newly revised platform resolutions on Israel
The North Carolina Democratic Party moved forward on Saturday with a series of newly revised platform resolutions that had threatened to fuel internal divisions over Israel ahead of a challenging election cycle. Members of the Resolutions and Platform Committee approved five resolutions concerning Israel and Middle East policy, all but one of which passed unanimously — likely preempting, for now, a potentially heated platform fight of the sort that has roiled the state party in recent years, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
What’s in it: The resolutions, listed in a platform section on international relations, broadly express support for “equal measures of security, freedom and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians,” while backing “vigorous diplomatic engagement for Middle East peace, with the United States as a mediator between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” according to a draft document reviewed by JI. The platform, which will head to a vote by the party’s state executive committee on June 24, also calls for “full human rights for Palestinians and Israelis” and condemns “acts of racism, religious bigotry” against Muslims, Palestinian and Jews, among other measures.
Left out: Most notable, however, are the resolutions that were left out of the platform, which had been a subject of contentious debate among party members. Prior to the committee meeting on Saturday, the resolutions had drawn scrutiny from local Jewish leaders — including Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a staunch supporter of Israel who had suggested that the proposed resolutions could “exacerbate antisemitism” while “driving a wedge between” the party as it prepares for a difficult campaign season.
🇷🇺 Sharansky’s Say: National Review’s Jay Nordlinger interviews Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a Soviet prison, about Russia’s actions against Ukraine and other dissidents. “The blame lies with Putin, says Sharansky. It is true, however, that he has brought some number along. A leader can appeal to better angels and worse angels — and Putin is a master appealer to the worst. Sharansky recalls what Putin has said, more than once: The collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. Sharansky had an opportunity to contradict him, directly. While chairman of the Jewish Agency (from 2009 to 2018), he met with Putin several times. ‘The greatest tragedy was the Holocaust,’ Sharansky said. In any event, Putin has a thirst for empire, Sharansky explains, as Russian and Soviet leaders past have had. His measure of success is: How many lands have you collected? How much bigger have you made Russia? Have you reacquired land that was lost? Does the world fear you?” [NationalReview]
🇸🇦🇮🇷 Gulf Concerns: In Foreign Policy, Steven Cook suggests that Iran-Saudi rapprochement has not garnered the deescalating effect that observers predicted. “The Saudis may be masters of international golfing, but the Iranians have won where it counts. Now, having taken Riyadh off the table, Tehran is working to undermine what is left of the region’s anti-Iran regional coalition — a policy that includes going on the offensive against Israel and the United States. For too long, bad assumptions have formed the basis of U.S. Middle East policy, including the notion that Iran’s leaders want to normalize ties with their neighbors. In reality, Iran does not want to share the region and is not a status quo power. The regime’s goal is to reorder the region in a way that favors Tehran, and with the Saudis now promising an ambassador and investment, the Iranians have determined they are now freer to advance their agenda. In other words, no de-escalation.” [ForeignPolicy]
👪 From Generation to Generation: The Washington Post’s Rachel Zimmerman considers how trauma is passed on from parent to child. “Researchers have investigated whether Holocaust survivors and their children showed changes to what are known as ‘epigenetic markers,’ chemical tags that attach to DNA and can switch genes on or off, which in turn can influence inherited traits or diseases. These studies, led by Rachel Yehuda, director of the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, compared blood samples of people who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust with those of Jews living outside Europe during the war. Through molecular analyses, researchers found an important difference: Mothers exposed to the Holocaust showed changes in the activity of a DNA segment involved in regulating the stress response. Their children, who were not directly exposed, also showed these changes. The implications of this research are far from conclusive but suggest that the environmental wounds inflicted on one generation may be transmitted to the next. ‘Clearly there is a signal of something interesting happening on a molecular level with intergenerational trauma,’ said Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience. ‘It will be a while before we figure it all out.’” [WashPost]
🍷 Lost and Found: The Associated Press’ Kirsten Grieshaber spotlights the efforts of German curator Matthias Weniger to return objects confiscated by the Nazis to descendents of the original owners. “Weniger makes a point of personally delivering the pieces to the families. He traveled to the U.S. earlier this year, and last week, he returned 19 pieces to families in Israel. There, Weniger met up with Hila Gutmann, 53, and her father Benjamin Gutmann, 83, at his home in Kfar Shmaryahu north of Tel Aviv, and gave them a small silver cup. Weniger had managed to track down the family with the help of the tracing service of Magen David Adom — Israel’s version of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The cup was likely used for Kiddush to bless the wine on the eve of Shabbat — but nobody knows for sure because the original owners, Bavarian cattle dealer Salomon Gutmann and his wife Karolina, who were the grandparents of Benjamin, were murdered by the Nazis in the Treblinka extermination camp. ‘It was a mixed feeling for us to get back the cup,’ said Hila Gutmann. ‘Because you understand it’s the only thing that’s left of them.’” [AP]
🌎 Rogue Relations: In The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead looks at the new political dynamics forming in Latin America, as Russia, China and Iran bolster ties across the continent. “The steady incursions of U.S. rivals into the Western Hemisphere would have touched off a political firestorm at any time since James Monroe issued his famous doctrine. But Latin America and the Caribbean are the last remaining places where the American foreign-policy establishment appears to cling to post-Cold War complacency about America’s rivals. Just as the establishment once scoffed at the idea that Russian ambitions in the former Soviet republics could pose a threat to European peace, or that China’s military buildup around Taiwan could affect American interests, it now blandly dismisses the idea that focused Chinese, Russian and Iranian activism in the Western Hemisphere could undermine American security.” [WSJ]
Around the Web
💵 Backing Kamala: EMILY’s List plans to spend tens of millions of dollars in support of Vice President Kamala Harris ahead of the 2024 elections.
🏫Bais in the House: Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA) met with students from the Bais Yaakov School of Baltimore last week.
⛳ Defending the Deal: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan wrote in a letter to Congress that the league’s recent deal with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf was done in part because legislators failed to provide adequate support for the PGA Tour.
☢️ Deal Denial: A U.S. official denied reports that Washington is discussing a possible interim deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
🎙️ United Front: Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba appeared together on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss people-to-people relationships and combating hate.
📰 Media Matters:Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan is departing the news outlet in August after nine years, and will head the nonpartisan Center on Public Civility at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
📚 Mixed Memories: In The Wall Street Journal, Diane Cole reviews Martha Hodes’ memoir of the hijacking of a plane that Hodes was a passenger on.
🏅 JCRC Award: The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York honored CUNY board chair Bill Thompson with its Public Service Award at the group’s annual spring gala last night.
👩🎓 Campus Beat: A student speaker at the El Camino Community College commencement in California condemned what she referred to as “the oppressive apartheid state of Israel killing and torturing Palestinians as we speak,” later saying she was inspired by similar rhetoric from CUNY Law School’s commencement ceremony last month.
⛺ Camp History: NPR spotlights the history of American summer camp, rooted in an effort by Jewish leaders to promote Jewish culture following WWII.
🎒 Unchartered Waters:The New York Times looks at the debate around charter schools following the decision by the Oklahoma state board to approve a Catholic school to receive taxpayer funds.
🇲🇽 CDMX Candidate: Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is resigning to pursue a bid for the country’s presidency.
🎤 Minister’s Mic: Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli said in an interview with Israel’s Kan broadcaster that the left-wing group J Street is “a hostile organization” funded by George Soros.
🏘️ Settlement Plans: Israel plans to announce the construction of more than 4,000 new housing units in the West Bank later this month.
🇮🇷 Outlook on Iran: Bloomberglooks at how Israel is approaching Iran’s growing ties in the region as Tehran emerges from a period of isolation that saw it at odds with much of the Gulf.
☎️ Diplomatic Call: The foreign ministers of Qatar and Iran discussed growing bilateral ties in a phone call over the weekend.
💲 Flush with Cash: The Qatar Investment Authority is looking to expand into new industries amid an influx of money from last year’s World Cup and demand for natural gas.
🛰️ Allies in Arms: China is supplying Iran with key elements of its drone program, hastening Tehran’s ability to provide Russia with weapons for use against Ukraine.
🕍 Bat Mitzvah Girl: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner celebrated the bat mitzvah of their daughter, Arabella, over the weekend.
🕯️ Remembering: New York State legislator Franz Leichter, who escaped Nazi Europe as a child, died at 92.
Pic of the Day
The American Jewish Committee honored antisemitism envoys from around the world at its Global Forum, taking place this week in Tel Aviv.
Actress, known professionally as Kat Dennings, she starred in the CBS sitcom “Two Broke Girls,” Katherine Litwack turns 37…
Existential psychiatrist, he is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, Irvin David Yalom turns 92… Professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock turns 89… Founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 85… Former official in the Johnson, Nixon, Clinton and Obama administrations, winner of a 1985 MacArthur genius fellowship, Morton Halperin turns 85… Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co., then chancellor of Brown University and now CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 83… Member of Congress (D-NY) since 1992, Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Nadler turns 76… Retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, he was previously attorney general of Israel, Elyakim Rubinstein turns 76… Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD… National political correspondent for National Public Radio and a contributor at the Fox News Channel, Mara Liasson turns 68… Co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham “Ben” Horowitz turns 57… Founder and CEO of Overtime, Daniel Porter turns 57… Yoga instructor, Jenny Eisen Verdery… Founder and CEO of Peninsula Group, Micah Lakin Avni turns 54… Family court judge of the City of New York, Judge Erik S. Pitchal turns 51… White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Eli Stokols… Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, Michael Stern turns 44… Principal at SKDK, Marissa Shorenstein… Policy advocate at Protect Democracy, Ariela Rosenberg… Actor, Max Samuel Spielberg turns 38… Fashion blogger and creator of Something Navy apparel stores, Arielle Noa Charnas turns 36… Editor-at-large at Real Clear Investigations, Benjamin H. Weingarten… Retired NFL player and co-founder of Stryve Biltong Snacks, Gabe Carimi turns 35… Speed skater who represented the USA at the Winter Olympics in 2014, 2018 and 2022, now a Master’s degree candidate at Johns Hopkins University, Emery Lehman turns 27…