👋 Good Thursday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at the findings of the latest Arab Youth Survey, and see which pro-Israel amendments were included in yesterday’s National Defense Authorization Act markup. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Tevi Troy, Dennis Ross and Alex Edelman.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak before a joint session of Congress today, ahead of a state dinner tonight. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have announced that they plan to boycott Modi’s address.
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and at least 25 Republican co-sponsors are set to reintroduce the Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act today, a bill that would require a congressional review process before the president can terminate any sanctions on Iran.
According to a statement obtained by Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod, the reintroduction comes in response to recent reports of renewed talks between the U.S. and Iran. “As Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime continues to pursue nuclear weapons to harm Americans and our regional partners and allies, it is critical to provide insurance if President [Joe] Biden keeps trying to run around Congress and relieve sanctions on Iran,” Hagerty said. “My legislation will make it abundantly clear to the Biden Administration that any agreement made with Iran that involves sanctions relief must be submitted for Congressional review.”
The legislation, first introduced in early 2021, never received Democratic backing or moved ahead in the Senate. A companion bill was introduced by House Republicans, but it’s unclear if one will emerge in the new Congress. Additional co-sponsors may join the Senate bill ahead of its announcement today.
Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance bipartisan legislation — which was introduced well before the renewed talks were revealed — to remove sunsets on the U.S.’ 1996 sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.
HFAC Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) reiterated his concerns about the new Iran talks at yesterday’s meeting, arguing that it is “important that Congress lead the way in showing our sanctions on Iran will only be lifted if Iran stops its malign behavior.”
Ranking Member Greg Meeks (D-NY), while avoiding mention of the renewed talks, expressed support for the original 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but argued that the sanctions legislation “sends an important message to Iran and promotes our national security.”
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) — a Democratic opponent of the nuclear deal — said, “now is the time to maintain pressure on Iran and continue to enforce the strong economic sanctions that we have in place… Going forward, I hope we can implement a comprehensive, long-term strategy for dealing with Iran’s malign behavior and preventing its nuclear program.”
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, HFAC’s subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International organizations will hold a hearing on antisemitic and anti-Israel bias in the United Nations, Palestinian Authority and NGO community today. The full House Appropriations Committee will mark up the 2024 Defense Appropriations bill tomorrow.
Yesterday, the Appropriations Committee approved the 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which includes a $10 million funding boost for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Jewish groups have generally said they plan to keep pushing for an additional $45 million increase to $360 million. The Jewish Federations of North America praised the additional allocation, and said that the umbrella group “will keep advocating for the program to be funded at $360 million so that every synagogue, church, mosque, and nonprofit has the resources it needs to protect itself.”
Up in New York’s Hudson Valley, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY) met last Friday with the Grand Rebbe of Satmar Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum in Kiryas Joel, N.Y. The Hasidic community is a key voting bloc in Ryan’s district, which helped drive him to victory in the midterms. Ryan said that the group “discussed our crucial work on education, increasing access to clean water, and leveraging the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve roads, bridges and broadband in NY-18.”
Jeffries described the meeting as “a thoughtful and meaningful discussion on issues related to the education, infrastructure and housing needs of this vibrant community.”
During the meeting, both Ryan and Jeffries wore kippot that were given out at the 2003 bar mitzvah of Daniel Torres, Ryan’s deputy chief of staff and district director.
Majority of Arab youth in UAE, Egypt and Morocco strongly support normalization with Israel, according to new poll
Arab youth in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, two signatories to the Abraham Accords, strongly support the normalization of ties with Israel, according to the just-released 2023 Arab Youth Survey. Young Arabs in Egypt also strongly favor normalization with Israel, while the majority of respondents in other Arab countries from Algeria to Iraq to Saudi Arabia, and including Bahrain, another signatory to the Accords, oppose warmer ties with the Jewish state by large margins, Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel reports.
Details: On the normalization question, 75% of young Arabs in the UAE, 73% in Egypt and 50% in Morocco “strongly support” or “somewhat support” ties with Israel. In Bahrain, the figure dropped to 30%, with 53% “strongly opposing” or “somewhat opposing” normalization with Israel. Of the other 14 countries included in the survey, most saw opposition percentages in the 80s and 90s, with respondents in Iraq and the Palestinian Territories both 100% against warmer ties.
House approves bipartisan Middle East policy amendments in NDAA markup
At Wednesday’s marathon House Armed Services Committee markup of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, the committee advanced numerous Middle East policy-related amendments to the package along bipartisan lines, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Simulation: An amendment by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) would require the military to conduct biannual exercises with Israel, including simulating large-scale and long-range strike missions and aerial refueling of Israeli aircraft by the U.S. “It is more important than ever for Congress and the Armed Services Committee to stand with Israel, and I am proud to help defend the only democracy in the Middle East from the hostile and murderous Iranian regime,” Banks said in a statement. “My amendment ensures that America works with Israel so that we both are ready to protect ourselves and the world from the scourge of a nuclear Iran.”
Moving ahead: An amendment by Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) incorporated a long-gestating initiative creating a grant program to fund U.S.-Israel collaboration on post traumatic stress disorder research into the NDAA. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) led an amendment requiring the Defense Department to create a plan to enable Israel to gain observer status in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program — a U.S.-based multinational flight training program for NATO combat pilots.
Bonus: Reps. Marc Molinaro (R-NY), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced a resolution on Tuesday condemning antisemitism, urging leaders to speak out against it and supporting Holocaust education efforts. The resolution includes, within a series of examples of recent antisemitism, last month’s City University of New York Law School commencement speech, which the resolution asserts “perpetuated antisemitic conspiracies and tropes such as Zionist influence over political world order and control over financial support of the College.”
Russia ‘beholden to Iran’ in Mideast, U.S. Air Force CENTCOM commander warns
Following months of Iran selling military equipment to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine, a top American military official warned on Wednesday that the two nations “have a growing relationship,” and cautioned that “Russia is in some way now beholden to Iran,” Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Deepening partnership: The result could be Russia opening avenues for Iran to advance and sow further instability in the Middle East, Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, commander of the 9th Air Force and combined forces air component commander for U.S. Central Command, told reporters. A White House spokesperson said in a statement this month that “the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” citing Iran’s sale of hundreds of attack drones to Russia.
New deal, same regime: Like other top American officials, Grynkewich praised the recent renewal of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a deal brokered by China. But he also offered a degree of caution about the new partnership, pointing out that Iran is still governed by the same “authoritarian, theocratic regime that is bent on punishing people for very minor transgressions of freedom.”
✡️ Oldest Hatred: In National Affairs, presidential historian and former White House staffer Tevi Troy presents a conservative policy approach to tackling antisemitism. “Conservatives in the fight against anti-Semitism should harbor an appropriate skepticism of government programs and their tendencies to create unwanted and unintended consequences. Sometimes an organization designed to address the problem ends up exacerbating it — the U.N. Human Rights Council, in which human-rights abusers routinely condemn democratic nations, is a paradigmatic example of this phenomenon. More broadly, our goal should not be to simply fortify communities or prosecute offenders. Although both are necessary, the ultimate aim of these measures should be to encourage societal change. Astute observers have noted that, in the second half of the 20th century, two major changes occurred in civic culture: People no longer engaged in indiscriminate littering, and individuals no longer uttered racist or anti-Semitic comments in polite society. Littering may still be a faux pas, but anti-Semitism has returned; we need to make it unacceptable once again.” [NationalAffairs]
🇮🇱🇺🇸 Shining Example: The Washington Post editorial board writes that the U.S.-Israel relationship provides a potential blueprint for how Washington can approach its support for Ukraine. “Kyiv has surprised the world not just by repelling Mr. Putin’s invasion but also by putting Russia’s vastly more numerous forces on the defensive even before the West poured top-shelf weaponry into the fight. It has earned its allies’ trust and confidence, along with the recognition that providing Ukraine with ongoing and deepening means of defense is critical. Israel provides an instructive example. The United States extends Israel no formal security guarantee — no promise to intervene with troops in the event the Jewish state is attacked — but has provided it with a bespoke arsenal of advanced weaponry for decades. In the case of protecting Ukraine, Washington is wisely proceeding with a coalition of allies — one that would certainly involve major European countries whose own security is jeopardized by Moscow’s neo-imperialist fever dream.” [WashPost]
🇸🇦 Reaching Riyadh: In The Messenger, Ambassador Dennis Ross suggests how the U.S. can approach Saudi Arabia as Riyadh scales up its efforts to modernize. “Good statecraft involves not only using our tools and leverage effectively but also recognizing what our interests require and acting accordingly. Does it mean we forsake our values? No, but our foreign policy has always balanced interests and values. There are certainly times when pursuit of our interests ultimately serves our values, even if, on first blush, it may not seem to be the case. Imagine a world in which we drive the Saudis into China’s arms. Is that a world where basic norms are more or less likely to be accepted? Or is that not a world where big states believe they have a right to spheres of influence and can dictate to their smaller neighbors? A world in which the rights of individuals are more likely to suffer? A world that rejects rather than serves U.S. values?” [TheMessenger]
🐻 Bear Essentials: The New York Times’ Melena Ryzik interviews “The Bear” star Ebon Moss-Bachrach. “On a long walk around the waterfront near his Brooklyn apartment one recent afternoon, Moss-Bachrach greeted many neighbors. He’s been in the same airy, art book-filled loft — a fourth-floor walk-up — with his wife, the visual artist Yelena Yemchuk, and their two daughters, now 16 and 12, for over a decade; the couple’s unsleek vintage bikes are parked outside. In head-to-toe denim and hiking boots, his vibe is so quintessentially thoughtful Brooklyn dad — he bikes to the beach! He bakes bread and gives it away by the loaf! — that it verges, he acknowledged laughingly, on cliché. He is, in effect, the opposite of some of the obnoxious characters he plays. ‘He is the biggest mensch in the world,’ said the writer-director Jenni Konner, who cast him in that memorable part in ‘Girls’ in 2014 and then befriended him.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🇮🇱 Policy Position: In an op-ed in the Jewish Journal, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. lays out his support for Israel.
🛫 Riyadh Relations: Amos Hochstein, who recently assumed the role of White House senior adviser for energy and infrastructure, is in Saudi Arabia this week for discussions around upgrading the relationship between Washington and Riyadh.
😬 Tense Meeting: In a meeting with Democratic lawmakers earlier this month, Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli reportedly rankled attendees by saying, “I’m not woke,” which he later apologized for, telling Axios that he was not aware of the political sensitivities around using the term.
⚖️ Challenging Bans: Politicolooks at the efforts of liberal religious groups to challenge state laws restricting abortion based on religious freedom arguments.
🎓 CUNY Speaker Speaks: The CUNY Law School graduate who gave a commencement speech attacking Israel last month said that the university approved her speech prior to the ceremony.
🧘 Religious Rituals:The New York Times’ Jessica Grose looks at a growing religious shift as more Americans move away from traditional organized religious communities.
🍗 One Step Closer: The USDA gave approval to three California companies to begin producing and selling cell-cultured chicken.
🌟 Rising Star: The Washington Postinterviews Andrew Barth Feldman, star of the upcoming comedy film “No Hard Feelings.”
👨🎤 Shabbat in Style: During a concert at London’s Wembley Stadium, singer Harry Styles thanked a Jewish family, whom Styles had previously lived with for two years, for walking six miles to attend the show on Shabbat.
⚔️ Tech Tussle: Twitter owner Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to duel in a “cage match” in a correspondence conducted via their respective social media platforms.
👨⚖️ Court Case: A Russian court is hearing an appeal today to release detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: The U.K. is looking into allegations that British academics have aided Iran in its efforts to develop drone technology.
📚 Book Buy: Author and investor Richard Hurowitz is partnering with Mubadala Investment Co. on a bid to purchase Simon & Schuster.
🔥 West Bank Violence:Clashes between hundreds of Israeli settlers and residents of the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya left one Palestinian dead and 12 injured, a day after four Israelis were killed in a terror attack at a gas station.
🪧 Winds of Change: Twelve Israeli police officers and four Druze residents of the Golan Heights were injured in clashes over the construction of a wind farm near Mt. Hermon.
🛰️ Drone Strike: Israel conducted a drone strike on a car believed to be carrying Palestinian militants who had attacked a Jewish village.
🇩🇪 Berlin Bid: The daughter of a German-Iranian man sentenced to death in Iran is asking German officials to open criminal proceedings against members of Iran’s judiciary.
🚰 Drought Dangers:The New York Timeslooks at how a water shortage in Iran is affecting its driest provinces and exacerbating tensions with the country’s neighbors.
☢️ Nuke Talks: A diplomatic source told CNN that negotiations this week in Doha between Iran and the European Union over Tehran’s nuclear program appear to be “leading to positive developments on many issues.”
➡️ Transition: Avi Small was promoted to press secretary for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
🕯️ Remembering: Advertising executive Michael Goldberg died at 57. Haim Roet, a Holocaust survivor who created Unto Every Person There Is a Name, an initiative to remember Holocaust victims by including their names in an annual reading, died at 90.
Pic of the Day
A 50-meter-long mural titled “Am Yisrael Chai,” created by Mexican artist Julio Carrasco Breton, was unveiled on Tuesday at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. The mural is an initiative of the Israel + Latin American Network (ILAN) and tells the story of the Jewish people. Dignitaries including Israeli Minister of Transportation Miri Regev, Chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel and President and Founder of ILAN Isaac Asa attended the unveiling ceremony.
Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics, he is a professor at Brown University, J. Michael Kosterlitz turns 80…
Founding partner of the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Martin Lipton turns 92… U.S. senator since 1992, Dianne Feinstein turns 90… Former D.C.-based VP of Israel Aerospace Industries, Marvin Klemow… Jerusalem-born 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, she is the director of a research center at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ada Yonath turns 84… Retired U.K. judge, who chaired high-profile hearings on ethics in the media, Sir Brian Henry Leveson turns 80… Retired justice on Israel’s Supreme Court until 2014, she was previously the Israeli state prosecutor for eight years, Edna Arbel turns 79… U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) turns 74… Member of the California State Assembly until last year, now a judge on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Richard Hershel Bloom turns 70… Partner at Shibolet & Co., Yoram Raved turns 67… Chair of the kindergarten and pre-K division of Bowman Ashe Elementary in Miami, Fla., Cynthia Rosenbluth Huss… AIPAC director for Greater Washington, Deborah Adler… Past president of the UJA – Federation of New York, Alisa Robbins Doctoroff… Member of Congress since 2001 (D-CA), now running for a U.S. Senate seat, Adam Schiff turns 63… Former member of the Knesset for the Hatnuah and Zionist Union parties, Robert Tiviaev turns 62…
Founder of tech incubator Playground Global and creator of the Android operating system, Andy Rubin turns 61… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, now serving as deputy prime minister and minister of justice, Yariv Gideon Levin turns 54… SVP at Red Banyan PR, Kelcey Kintner… Writer, director and film producer, he is a two-time Israeli Academy Award winner and the founder of Hey Jude Productions, Dani Menkin turns 53… Program director at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Rafi Rone… Senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and author of a biography of Bibi Netanyahu, Anshel Pfeffer turns 50… Israeli jazz vocalist and composer, Julia Feldman turns 44… Executive director at Mesivta Netzach HaTorah in Woodmere, N.Y., Ahron Rosenthal… Retired MLB second baseman, he played for Team Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics and managed the team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Ian Kinsler turns 41… Russian-Israeli Internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Russia’s largest social network VK, Vaizra Capital investment fund, and Selectel network centers, Lev Binzumovich Leviev turns 39… Baltimore-based endodontist, Jeffrey H. Gardyn, DDS… Israeli Muay Thai kickboxing champion, Ilya Grad turns 36… Israeli-born basketball player with 11 NBA seasons, Omri Casspi turns 35… Former outfielder in the Washington Nationals organization, he played for Team Israel in the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier round, Rhett Wiseman turns 29…