👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report from the AJC Global Forum in Tel Aviv and interview our own Ruth Marks Eglash ahead of the release of her debut novel, Parallel Lines. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Barbara Leaf, Barbara Lee and Harvey Averne.
Thirteen House members — 11 Democrats and two Republicans — voted yesterday against legislation that seeks to create an ambassador-level position dedicated to advancing the Abraham Accords. The bill passed overwhelmingly, with 413 votes in favor.
The no votes: Reps. Rich McCormick (R-GA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Cori Bush (D-MO), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Summer Lee (D-PA), Delia Ramirez (D-IL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Chuy Garcia (D-IL).
A spokesperson for Barbara Lee, who is running for Senate in California, told JI’s Marc Rod that she voted against the measure by mistake, and intended to vote yes. She also entered a statement into the Congressional Record to that effect. Lee has recently sought to court pro-Israel voters in the race.
Mistaken votes are uncommon but not unheard of in the House. Multiple lawmakers who initially logged no votes corrected them to yes during the voting process for the Abraham Accords bill on Tuesday.
In Tel Aviv, Diaspora-Israel relations were front and center as the American Jewish Committee wrapped up its Global Forum moments ago. Over the course of the last four days, American Jewish thought leaders and Israeli officials — both in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition and in the opposition — trickled in and out of the David InterContinental Hotel, advocating their views for the future of the Jewish state, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports.
AJC CEO Ted Deutch parried questions about potential protests and disruptions when we spoke to him ahead of the conference. About a dozen demonstrators blew horns and chanted outside the hotel, well out of earshot of the roughly 1,500 attendees in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, in contrast to more prominent demonstrations at the recent Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly and meetings between Israeli officials and Jewish groups in the U.S. last week.
Earlier this morning, Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli — who had faced criticism last week for gesturing at protestors as he marched in the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York — took the stage to applause, giving an eight-minute address that briefly touched on the government’s makeup before focusing on his ministry’s efforts to deepen Jewish education in the U.S.
Chikli touted the Diaspora Ministry’s budget increase, and his recently announced effort to support Jewish day school education in the U.S. “The cure for antisemitism,” Chikli said, “is education.”
But some of the conference’s last words were given by writer Yossi Klein Halevi, who focused his remarks on the relationship between Israel and the diaspora. “The starting point for a necessary realignment between Israel and American Jewry is recognizing the very different and necessary strategies that each community has devised in relation to our surroundings,” he said. “What worries me about this moment is, as I see as really the great danger that we’re facing in the relationship, is that what held the relationship together is symbolized by the two flags on the bimas of most American synagogues. And what those two flags represent, to me, is the commitment to the Jewish state and to democratic values.”
“What’s beginning to happen in both communities,” Klein Halevi noted, “is a growing challenge to the necessary entwinement of those two values.”
Klein Halevi responded to Chikli’s claim, made minutes earlier, that the government had been elected by a large majority, noting that a few thousand votes had determined the outcome of the election and the makeup of the current government. His comment elicited a ripple of applause that coursed through the audience.
“This applause is one of the reasons I love AJC,” Klein Halevi joked.
A robust discussion about the Israel-diaspora relationship was on display — literally — at a plenary session last night titled “The Great Debate: Should Diaspora Jews Have a Say in Israeli Affairs?” Onstage, Israel Hayom’s Ariel Kahana and Shalom Hartman Institute of North America President Yehuda Kurtzer debated the relationship between American Jews and Israelis. The debate followed an address by former Defense Minister Benny Gantz and recorded remarks from Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou that paid tribute to AJC’s global relationship-building efforts.
But some of the loudest applause of the evening was reserved for Enver Hoxhaj, deputy speaker of the parliament of Kosovo, who told the audience that Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland — which he had discovered through Jewish classmates while studying in Vienna 30 years ago — had been a favorite book of his.
Invoking the book’s title, Hoxhaj concluded his speech by telling the crowd that Israel has “an old and new friend in Europe.”
U.S. is working to ‘get Iran to deescalate on a variety of fronts,’ Leaf says
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf told lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday that the U.S. is working on efforts to “get Iran to deescalate on a variety of fronts,” Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Status update: “There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of disinformation churning around in the media ecosystem right now. We have been very clear that we’ll use diplomacy, indirect or direct, to get after the various threats that Iran poses internationally,” Leaf said. “The best way to constrain the [nuclear] program is to get it back into a diplomatic box with rigorous oversight and inspection regime and so on. JCPOA, for a variety of reasons, is really not actively on the table as it were. But we are trying to get to a place where we can get Iran to deescalate on a variety of fronts.”
Normalization prospects: Leaf called potential normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, “absolutely a priority for us” that would bring about broader normalization and “shift things very dynamically in the region.” “There is absolutely the will and determination… on the part of the administration to midwife this,” she continued. However, Leaf said there is “no defined road map at this point” and that “a lot of the discussions are nascent.” The Saudis, she said, have not yet developed “a defined picture of what they might put into the mix” regarding expectations for progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace as a condition of normalization, although she noted that “they have stipulated that there is a part in any normalization for the Palestinians.”
Bonus: Bahrain and Iran are expected to resume diplomatic ties “sometime soon,” Leaf told lawmakers.
Lawmakers push State Department to strongly oppose International Court of Justice investigation of Israel
In a letter sent on Tuesday, a bipartisan group of 35 lawmakers urged the administration to push back against the International Court of Justice’s investigation of Israel, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The ICJ investigation comes following a United Nations General Assembly vote to seek an advisory opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The letter, obtained by JI, urges Secretary of State Tony Blinken to “submit a strong brief to the ICJ opposing an advisory opinion against Israel” that both presses the ICJ to reject the case and defends Israel “on the merits.” It also urges Blinken to seek similar briefs from allies who opposed the UNGA resolution.
Pushback: “This is but the latest in a series of escalating attacks on Israel in the UN system, initiated by the Palestinian Authority, to unfairly and disproportionately single out the Jewish State. We urge you to vigorously support Israel as it defends itself against this proceeding,” the letter reads. “Though non-binding under international law, a negative advisory opinion — a practically assured outcome — would almost certainly be used to further the propaganda assault and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel while simultaneously undermining the credibility and effectiveness of UN human rights bodies.”
Making the case: The signatories added that the investigation, and the U.N.’s focus on Israel, are detrimental to the cause of peace and “[distract] attention and resources from grave human rights abuses and violations of international law committed by UN members such as Iran, China, Myanmar, and Russia.” The lawmakers wrote that the brief should defend Israel’s right to self-defense and the merits of a negotiated two-state solution.
In debut novel, Ruth Marks Eglash pens an ode to Jerusalem
Ruth Marks Eglash’s eldest children were teenagers during the wave of violence in late 2015 and early 2016 that saw dozens of Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists. The longtime journalist — now a senior correspondent at Jewish Insider — used to writing about the attacks for an adult audience, found herself having to explain the violence to her three children, the youngest of whom was 12 at the time. One of her daughters “was traveling every day from where we live, from the suburbs, into the city center,” Eglash told JI’s Melissa Weiss. “This whole series of stabbing and shooting and vehicle attacks started happening in Jerusalem almost every day,” continued Eglash. “And they were all near her school, which is right in the center of the western part of Jerusalem… And she was coming home and asking me, ‘What’s happening? Why was there a suspicious package? There was a pigua, a terrorist attack. We heard the ambulances, they wouldn’t let us out of the building. What’s happening?’”
Author’s inspiration: The questions inspired Eglash, whose debut novel, Parallel Lines, hits bookstores tomorrow, to take off her reporting hat and approach a new way of writing, one that hews closely to her instincts as a journalist used to bringing nuance and context to complex situations. Parallel Lines traces the journeys of three fictional teenage girls — one from a secular Jewish family, one from an observant Jewish family and one Muslim — amid the uptick in violence that kept Jerusalem on edge for six months.
A different audience: “The idea for this book really came from the children asking me questions,” Eglash explained. “When I thought about it, I thought, ‘Here we are, we explain as journalists, we explain the conflict to our audience, which is mostly adults, but at the same time, there are children involved here.’ It’s an adult conflict that is going on and on and on. It’s an intractable conflict. There is no solution. No one’s working to find the solution. And at the same time, there’s another generation of young people growing up in the middle of it.”
New super PAC targets NYC councilwoman over positions on police funding and antisemitism
A new super PAC is targeting a far-left city councilwoman in Brooklyn over her positions on police funding and antisemitism — even as she is now running unopposed in the June 27 primary election. The recently created group, SAFE NYC, launched its first ad campaign late Tuesday evening in an effort to bring increased scrutiny to Shahana Hanif, a democratic socialist who represents sections of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Gowanus, among other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Key issues: Hanif, 32, has expressed support for defunding the police and was one of just two council members who voted against a resolution to recognize April 29 as “End Jew Hatred Day.” More recently, Hanif spoke out in defense of a CUNY Law School commencement speaker whose remarks about Israel drew accusations of antisemitism.
Costly campaign: SAFE NYC is now seeking to highlight those issues in a new ad campaign that includes digital ads, direct mail, a website and, potentially, outdoor advertising, according to a consultant who is leading the effort. The independent expenditure — which will be “in the mid-to-high five figures,” the consultant confirmed — is slated to continue through the final weeks of the primary.
👨 Solomon’s Struggle: The Wall Street Journal’s AnnaMaria Andriotis looks at internal strife at Goldman Sachs, where CEO David Solomon has faced criticism over his management style and extracurricular activities. “Most bank CEOs make big decisions with a cadre of executives. Goldman isn’t like other banks. Some 24 years after becoming a publicly traded company, Goldman maintains a partnership of about 420 members, many of whom think they’re just as important as the CEO. In his nearly five years as CEO, Solomon, 61, has sought to impose corporate discipline on the freewheeling structure. Partners accustomed to little oversight and lots of deference aren’t thrilled. Solomon has sparred over bonuses with the partner who leads the bank’s traders. Another longtime partner threatened to quit when Solomon restructured the bank’s private-investing businesses. John Rogers, a Goldman partner since 2000, and the secretary to the bank’s board, expressed concerns to Solomon about his DJ side gig, according to people familiar with the matter, saying it wasn’t a good look for the CEO of one of Wall Street’s most formidable firms.” [WSJ]
🎹 The Beat Goes On: The New York Times’ Jessica Lipsky spotlights music producer and manager Harvey Averne, a key figure in the popularization of Latin music around the world. “Harvey Averne begins most days with a bialy and whitefish salad. He watches ‘Morning Joe,’ plays with his cat, Coco Baby, and fields calls from Latin music legends like Joe Bataan at his eclectic but tidy Woodhaven, Queens apartment. On a particularly humid day in mid-March, they were advising each other on prescription medication. But a peek at Averne’s foyer — which is adorned with awards, concert posters, framed newspaper clippings and photos, including a prominently displayed shot with Celia Cruz — tells a story that belies his typical 86-year-old day-to-day travails. Averne is one of the last of the Latin music giants: a Jewish kid from East New York who had a hand in the development of Latin music, from the borscht belt to boogaloo and salsa. ‘I like rhythm, I like the beat,’ Averne explained. ‘I didn’t understand a word they’re saying, but that’s OK — you don’t understand a word in the opera.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🛬 Presidential Visit: Israeli media outlets reported that President Joe Biden extended an invitation to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, with a visit expected to happen the third week in July; Israeli and American officials have not confirmed the reports.
👩⚖️ New Evidence: The gunman who killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 verbally attacked Jews on social media before the shooting, according to evidence presented at his federal trial yesterday.
👨⚖️ Jail Sentence: Waseem Awawdeh, who was one of five people involved in an attack on a Jewish man in midtown Manhattan in 2021, was sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading guilty earlier this year to attempted assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
👋 Stepping Down: New York State Assemblymember Dan Rosenthal plans to resign from his position in Albany, and will join UJA-Federation of New York as vice president of government relations.
🕌 Outreach Efforts: Semaforlooks at Republican efforts to appeal to Muslim voters.
🍲 Table Talk: Grub Street previews Gertrude’s, a soon-to-open bistro in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood that is the brainchild of Instagram influencer Eli Sussman, Nate Adler and Rachel Jackson.
👩🔬 Across the Pond: U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he plans to investigate a Jewish Chronicle report that scientists at U.K. universities have assisted Iran in its drone production research.
🖼️ Art History: A German panel recommended that a Wassily Kandinsky painting be returned to the descendants of the Jewish family that owned the work at the time of its loan to Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum before being auctioned after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands.
🔫 Shooting Attack: An Israeli civilian and four IDF soldiers were wounded yesterday in a terror attack in the West Bank.
🔨 Court Ruling: A Jerusalem court ruled yesterday that the Palestinian Authority must compensate dozens of Israeli tour guides for the financial damage they suffered during the Second Intifada.
🪖 Defense Deals: Israel exported a record $12.556 billion in defense products last year, almost a quarter of that to new Arab partners, the Defense Ministry said yesterday.
🇮🇷 Raisi’s Wrath: In a joint appearance with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Managua yesterday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke against U.S. sanctions on the Islamic republic, boasting that the efforts have not been successful.
Pic of the Day
American singer-songwriter Adam Lambert performs at Tel Aviv’s Heichal Hatarbut concert hall last night.
Chairman and chief investment officer of Duquesne Family Office, Stanley Druckenmiller turns 70…
Retired Soviet nuclear scientist, now writing from Skokie on Jewish intellectual spirituality, Vladimir Minkov, Ph.D. turns 90… Member of Knesset for 15 years and twice Israel’s minister of finance, he is the son-in-law of former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol, Avraham “Beiga” Shochat turns 87… Retired U.S. district judge for the District of Maryland, Marvin Joseph Garbis turns 87… Dr. Beryl Geber… Joanna Lerner… Senior fellow at Project HOPE, Gail R. Wilensky Ph.D. turns 80… 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump turns 77… Former French diplomat and advisor to former French Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy, Jean-David Levitte turns 77… Television sportscaster and journalist, Len Berman turns 76… Editor of Liberties, Leon Wieseltier turns 71… Businessman and philanthropist, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 for services to philanthropy, Sir Leonard “Len” Blavatnik turns 66… Co-founder of Virunga Mountain Spirits, William Benjamin (“Bill”) Wasserman… President of Blue Diamond HR LLC, Michelle “Shel” Grossman… President of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., Maud S. Mandel… VP of global media partnerships at Meta/Facebook, Campbell Brown… Singer-songwriter with nine studio albums, Joshua Radin turns 49… Co-founder of Kelp, Daniel M. Gaynor… Australian author, philanthropist and businesswoman, Kathryn Eisman turns 42… NYC-based businessman, Pavel Khodorkovsky turns 38… Former deputy assistant secretary at HUD and then senior advisor at OMB, Paige Esterkin Bronitsky… Director of public affairs at San Francisco’s District Attorney’s office, Lilly Rapson… Actor, Daryl Sabara… and his fraternal twin brother, also an actor, Evan Sabara, both turn 31… Senior copywriter at OnMessage, Julia Cohen… Associate attorney at Phillips Whisnant Gazin Gorczyca & Curtin, Jacob Ellenhorn… Vienna-based European editor for Moment Magazine and the author of The Vienna Briefing, Liam Hoare…