👋 Good Thursday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the rise of Israel’s under-20 soccer team ahead of its match today against Uruguay in the World Cup semifinal, and report on efforts to deepen maritime cooperation between the U.S. and signatories to the Abraham Accords. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Lynn Schulman, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Masih Alinejad.
Pressure continues to mount on CUNY Law School following last month’s commencement ceremony in which the keynote speaker, Fatima Mohammed, used her speaking time to rail against Israel, as another lawmaker joined calls for the Department of Education to reassess CUNY’s receipt of federal funds, as well as whether the school ran afoul of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which, following a 2019 executive order, prohibits “forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) wrote a letter to Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, calling last month’s commencement “but one example of pervasive anti-Israelism designed to stoke hatred.”
Gottheimer called on the DoE and its Office of Civil Rights to review whether CUNY has violated Title VI and “whether they have forfeited their right to receive federal funding,” reminding Lhamon of the department’s “solemn obligation to enforce Title VI and Executive Order 13899 to protect Jewish students against antisemitism.”
New York City Councilmember Inna Vernikov, an attorney licensed to practice in New York, called on the state bar’s Character and Fitness committee to find Mohammed “unfit to practice law” and “deny her admission to the bar.”
Meanwhile, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relationssaid that the speech, which has drawn criticism from Jewish groups and the CUNY administration in addition to federal lawmakers, had been “submitted, examined, and pre-approved by CUNY in written form and a verbal recording” ahead of the ceremony.
And in Washington, Israeli MK Simcha Rothman, an architect of Israel’s judicial reform effort, was spotted by JI’s Marc Rod at the Capitol yesterday, heading toward the Senate office buildings. Washington marked Rothman’s last stop in the U.S. before returning to Israel — flying in coach, according to an eagle-eyed fellow passenger.
the beautiful game
Inside Israel’s Cinderella story at the youth World Cup
For decades, Israelis have loved the “beautiful game,” a term for soccer popularized by Brazilian footballer Pelé. But soccer has not always loved them back. Before last month, the country’s national team only had one FIFA World Cup appearance, in 1970. Fast-forward more than half a century, and Israel’s youth soccer league is on a Cinderella run in the FIFA under-20 World Cup, the most important global sporting event for young soccer players. Today, Israel plays Uruguay in the tournament’s semifinals after defeating Brazil 3-2 in a major upset last weekend that delighted Israelis and Jews worldwide and shocked soccer fans at the stadium in Argentina and beyond, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Major investments: “It’s the biggest thing in Israeli sports in the last 30 years at least,” said Eitan Dotan, the spokesperson for Israel’s team. Close watchers of Israeli soccer say the team has been carefully building to this moment for years, with investments in high-power coaches and youth soccer programs.
From improbable to possible: Everything about Israel’s run has been improbable, starting with the fact that the country’s players were almost not allowed to participate. The tournament was supposed to be hosted in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, a country that most Israelis are unable to visit without a particular type of visa. But in March, FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, stripped Indonesia of its hosting duties after prominent government officials in the country said they would refuse to host the Israeli team.
Blended society: That two of Israel’s three goals against Brazil were scored by Arab Israelis seemed almost like a taunt to Indonesia. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman described it this week as “Israel’s emerging blended society … on full display.”
Lawmakers pushing ahead on Abraham Accords naval cooperation bill despite U.S.-UAE friction
Despite recent reports of friction in the U.S.-United Arab Emirates naval relationship, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing ahead on efforts to establish deeper maritime cooperation among the U.S. and Abraham Accords member states, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The UAE announced at the end of May that it had pulled out of a U.S.-led multinational naval security force, which works to counter Iran in the Middle East, two months prior. U.S. officials said, however, that they had not received notification of such a move. Shortly after, Iran claimed it would form a joint naval force with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman. These developments could be setbacks to the goals of the MARITIME Act, a bipartisan and bicameral project of the congressional Abraham Accords Caucus, which aims to develop a collaborative strategy among Abraham Accords nations to counter Iranian and Iran-affiliated naval threats.
Stay the course: “We need to keep on working with the UAE,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), a lead sponsor of the MARITIME Act, told JI on Wednesday. “They’re an incredibly important partner to us in the Middle East, and we do not want to take their friendship for granted.” She added that she remains “very committed to the MARITIME Act and making sure that we do continue to be good partners with them.”
Elsewhere on the Hill: Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Rena Bitter reiterated that Israel will have to meet reciprocity requirements before it is able to be admitted into the Visa Waiver Program. “We’re keenly aware of the challenges that certain American citizens have had at Israel’s borders and checkpoints,” Bitter said. “We’ve made very clear to the Israeli government that in order to meet its [VWP] requirements, that it’s going to have to treat all U.S. citizens and nationals the same regardless of national origin.”
the queens gambit
New super PAC prepares to defend Jewish councilwoman in competitive Queens race
A newly created super PAC is preparing to launch its first ad campaign in the coming days to help boost a Jewish city councilwoman from Queens who is facing a competitive primary election later this month. The independent expenditure group, Future NYC, is planning to spend up to $100,000 in its effort to defend Lynn Schulman, a Democrat who has drawn two challengers in the June 27 primary, Jeff Leb, the super PAC’s treasurer, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Wednesday. The ad campaign, which will include mailers and digital ads, is likely to begin early next week, he confirmed.
Redistricting ramifications: Schulman, who chairs the Committee on Health, is the first openly gay woman elected to public office from Queens and the only Jewish Caucus member to represent the borough. The 65-year-old freshman incumbent, whose district includes the heavily Jewish neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Rego Park, is now defending her seat amid an abbreviated two-year term cut short because of recent redistricting.
Predicted close race: Her rivals in the Democratic primary are Ethan Felder, a labor lawyer and Jewish community activist who ran for a Forest Hills Assembly seat last year, and Sukhi Singh, a small business owner and former representative of the Sikh Cultural Society. There is no publicly available polling, but local observers suspect the race could be close, even as Schulman has won endorsements from a range of prominent local elected officials, including Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
Focusing on Abraham Accords, Sheba Medical Center raises more than $2.7 million at 75th anniversary gala
Sheba Medical Center raised over NIS 10 million ($2.74 million) in a gala event on Sunday, which highlighted the hospital’s partnerships in the Gulf following the Abraham Accords, a Sheba spokesperson told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross. Located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, Sheba Medical Center, still often referred to by its original name, Tel HaShomer, is now Israel’s largest hospital and one of its top-rated.
Big birthday: More than 1,400 people attended the annual gala earlier this week, significantly more than in previous years. This year’s event celebrated the hospital’s 75th anniversary – it was formed as a military hospital shortly after the founding of the state – and Sheba sought to highlight its role in deepening ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain through medicine.
On the guest list: U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides and Bahraini Ambassador to Israel Khaled Yusuf Al-Jalahma attended the event, along with a host of Israeli celebrities and business leaders. The Sheba spokesperson said dozens of donors from North America, Europe, Australia and Africa also flew in for the event.
🤵 Cruz Control: In a profile headlined “America’s Most Israeli Politician,” Tablet magazine’s Liel Leibovitz spotlights Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “‘There are two nations and only two nations on earth that were formed as havens for those fleeing persecution and seeking freedom,’ Cruz told me. ‘America and Israel. Israel’s very existence, the modern state of Israel was formed so that Jews across the globe would have a place to which they could go, to flee if need be the horrific scourge of antisemitism that has cursed history for millennia, to flee the immediate atrocity of the Holocaust. And, like Israel, America was also founded by people fleeing religious oppression, fleeing those that would not allow them to live according to their faith, according to their conscience. And we came to a new land where our nation was founded on the proposition that Jefferson famously penned: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those are extraordinary words. Those were revolutionary words, and only America and Israel embody that promise.’” [Tablet]
🇮🇷 Talking Terrorism: In Time magazine, Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad calls on President Joe Biden to pressure U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is visiting the White House today, to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror group. “The challenge facing Europe is not only about protecting its own citizens but also about standing up for the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights. By designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization, the prime minister can send a powerful message that he will not tolerate state-sponsored terrorism and will defend those who fight for justice and liberty. The painful reality remains that European governments remain paralyzed by inaction. London is taking a leading role in fortifying Ukraine against nuclear-armed Russia. But when it comes to merely sanctioning the IRGC, which does not yet have nuclear weapons, it hesitates.” [Time]
👨 A Man With a Plan: The New York Times’ Cecilia Kang reports on OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s efforts to encourage regulations on artificial intelligence as part of a five-continent journey in which Altman has met with a series of world leaders to discuss the new technology. “His charm offensive has put him in an important seat of influence. By engaging with lawmakers early, Mr. Altman is shaping the debate on governing A.I. and educating Washington on the complexities of the technology, especially as fears of it grow. Taking a page out of recent history, he is also working to sidestep the pitfalls that befell social media companies, which are a constant target of lawmakers, and to pave the way for A.I. His actions may help cement OpenAI’s position at the forefront of a debate on A.I. regulation. Microsoft, Google, IBM and A.I. start-ups have drawn battle lines on proposed rules and differ on how much government interference they want in their industry. The fissures have led other tech chiefs to plead their cases with the Biden administration, members of Congress and global regulators.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
💰 Aid Announcement: Speaking at a ministerial conference in Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said that the U.S. plans to give close to $150 million in aid that will be distributed in parts of Syria and Iraq that were formerly under the Islamic State’s control.
💼 Perez’s Post: Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who headed the Democratic National Committee from 2017-2021, is joining the White House as a senior adviser and director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
📄 Federal Focus: Federal prosecutors told former President Donald Trump’s legal team that he is the target of an investigation into the handling of confidential documents after he left the White House.
📸 Questionable Pairing: Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who is considering mounting a Senate bid in the Grand Canyon State, posted a photo with actor Mel Gibson, who has a history of making antisemitic, misogynistic and racist remarks, commenting that Gibson’s “heart and soul are in the right place.”
🗳️ California Candidate: Former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan, whose Iraqi citizenship was revoked in 2019, filed to run in the crowded primary in California’s 30th Congressional District.
🎙️ Licht Out: Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav fired CNN CEO Chris Licht yesterday, following his short and contentious tenure.
🏈 Commanding Presence: The sale of the Washington Commanders to a group led by Josh Harris is advancing following a two-and-a-half hour meeting between Harris and members of the NFL’s finance committee yesterday.
📜 On Display: A Torah rescued during Kristallnacht will go on display this week at the new Toronto Holocaust Museum; among other items on display is a visa issued by Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara to a Jewish man in Lithuania.
🏑 Hockey History: The BBC explores how German hockey player Rudi Ball, whose father was Jewish, evaded the fate of many of the country’s Jews and others subject to the Nuremberg Laws during the Holocaust.
👨✈️ Launch Pad: Israel plans to launch a pilot program next month to ease entry for Palestinian-Americans flying into Ben Gurion Airport, as it works to meet the requirements to join the U.S.’ Visa Waiver Program.
🇮🇱 Internal Division: The Associated Presslooks at tensions between religious and secular communities in Israel following the passing of a national budget that allocated tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to the country’s Haredi community.
🪖 Army Operation: The IDF overnight demolished the home of the Palestinian charged with carrying out a deadly bombing attack that killed two Israelis in Jerusalem in November last year.
🇩🇪 Rebuke for Meddling: The Israeli Foreign Ministry reportedly summoned Germany’s ambassador following a series of events that Israel alleged was interference in domestic politics.
🇲🇦 Mulling it Over: Israeli officials are weighing recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a move that would upgrade diplomatic ties between Rabat and Jerusalem, as Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi meets with officials in the North African nation this week.
⚽ Soccer Pitch: Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani submitted his fifth and likely final bid to purchase Manchester United from the Glazer family.
🛬 Roamin’ Raisi: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will travel to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua next week.
Pic of the Day
American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch (center) and Jerusalem Chair Ben Plotkin (left) meet with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (right) yesterday in Abu Dhabi.
Deutch tweeted that AJC and the UAE “have worked together for decades to advance regional peace and cooperation” and said that he had expressed gratitude to the foreign minister for “his longstanding friendship and partnership.”
Winner of many Emmy and SAG awards, star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies turns 57…
Hebrew University mathematics professor and 2005 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Aumann turns 93… Partner in the Cincinnati-based law firm of Aronoff, Rosen & Hunt, he was a member of the Ohio State Senate for 30 years, Stanley J. Aronoff turns 91… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil turns 81… Founder of the Paloma Funds, Selwyn Donald Sussman turns 77… Detective novelist, best known for creating the character of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky turns 76… Founder and CEO of Sitrick and Company, Michael Sitrick… Classical pianist, teacher and performer at the Juilliard School and winner of a Grammy Award, he is the child of Holocaust survivors, Emanuel Ax turns 74… Community affairs advisor at the Phoenix-based Yeshiva High School of Arizona, Miriam Pinkerson… Former member of Knesset from the Zionist Union party, now a professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yona turns 70… Barbara Jaffe Panken… Senior advisor at O2 Investment Partners, Rob Orley… Journalist, stand-up comedian, author, cartoonist and blogger, Aaron Freeman turns 67… CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Stacy Ritter turns 63… AVP for campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazin… Co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets… Actor, screenwriter and producer, Dan Futterman turns 56… Former congresswoman (D-AZ), she is a survivor of an assassination attempt near Tucson in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords turns 53… Actor who starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” he also wrote and created the CBS series “9JKL,” Mark Feuerstein turns 52… Executive director at Consulate Health Care in New Port Richey, Fla., Daniel Frenden… Head of North America for the Jewish Agency and president and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development (JAID), Daniel Elbaum… Former deputy chief of staff for Charlie Baker when he was governor of Massachusetts, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli… Senior educator at Hillel Jewish Student Center at Arizona State University, Suzy Stone… Art collector and founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Dasha Zhukova turns 42… Fourth generation supermarket executive at Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland, Marshall Klein… Corporate litigation associate in the Wilmington office of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, Daniel Kirshenbaum… Broadway producer, Eric J. Kuhn… CEO of the Bnai Zion Foundation, Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm… Offensive tackle in the NFL for nine seasons, he started in 121 straight games in which he played every offensive snap, his Hebrew name is “Mendel,” Mitchell Schwartz turns 34…