👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to Michèle Taylor, the U.S. envoy to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, and look at the outcomes of a pair of New York City Council primary races. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff, Rabbi David Wolpe, Elliott Abrams and David Beckham.
Five rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel overnight, prompting IDF strikes on Hamas targets in the Strip, hours after Israel declared the end to a two-day military operation in the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank.
The counterterrorism operation in Jenin, the largest seen in the West Bank in years, was focused on the Jenin refugee camp, where the army said it sought to neutralize terror infrastructure in what has become a terrorist stronghold. All Israeli troops withdrew from Jenin by early Wednesday morning.
Twelve Palestinians were killed in the operation, according to Palestinian health officials, at least five of whom were claimed by Palestinian militant groups as their members. An Israeli soldier was killed by live fire yesterday, the IDF said.
Israeli security forces said they confiscated over 1,000 weapons in the camp and the city of Jenin; among them explosive devices, ammunition, guns and explosives facilities. They questioned more than 300 suspects and apprehended 30 of them. The IDF said last night that reports on social media regarding Israeli fire toward a hospital were “not currently known to the security forces,” while noting that “since the entrance of the security forces in the area of the city, terrorist organizations have exploited civilian areas as a hideout and have exploited residents as human shields.”
“Over the past two years, Jenin has become a ‘production site’ for terrorism,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Tuesday night following a situation assessment with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “As a result of [our activities over] the past two days, this has come to an end. We have intercepted weapon production lines and confiscated thousands of explosive devices. We have demolished dozens of weapon manufacturing sites, hideouts and labs for the production of explosive devices.”
On Tuesday, a Palestinian terrorist from the West Bank carried out a car ramming and stabbing attack in north Tel Aviv before he was shot dead by an armed civilian. Eight people were wounded in the attack, including a pregnant woman who lost her baby as a result. Hamas said the assailant, Abd al-Wahab Khalaila, was a member of the movement, but stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack.
Members of Congress weighed in on the events over the long weekend. “No country should be forced to stand down when there is overwhelming evidence of planned violence against its citizens,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tweeted, describing Jenin as a “hub and safe haven for terror networks.” Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) and Eli Crane (R-AZ) all noted Iran’s role in destabilizing the region through its proxies.
Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) charged that the Palestinian Authority “all but abandoned Jenin, leaving behind a power vacuum that has been filled by terrorists,” while Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) said he prays “that Israelis and Palestinians empower a new generation of leaders committed to two-states w/ security and economic opportunity for all.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the most outspoken critic of the Jewish state in Congress, was the only lawmaker to denounce Israel, calling on Congress to “stop funding this violent Israeli apartheid regime.”
The Washington Post’s David Ignatius weighed in on the recent uptick in tensions, describing the clashes in Jenin as “a foretaste of what’s ahead” in the expected vacuum that will ensue when PA President Mahmoud Abbas, 87, and serving in the 19th year of the four-year term to which he was elected, is no longer in power.
One of the leading House Republicans is speaking out over the revelation that Iran Special Envoy Rob Malley is suspended and under investigation for potential mishandling of classified information.
On Friday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken alleging that the reported investigation raises “serious concerns both regarding Malley’s conduct and whether the State Department misled Congress and the American public.”
McCaul noted that the State Department has been refusing efforts since April 11 to solicit testimony from Malley; the State Department told the committee Malley was on family medical leave. “The Department’s failure to inform Congress of this matter demonstrates at best a lack of candor, and at worst represents deliberate and potentially unlawful misinformation,” McCaul wrote.
McCaul demanded that the department provide information to the committee by the end of the day next Tuesday about the allegation against Malley, his leave from the department and the investigation into him. He also asked that Malley’s deputy provide a classified briefing to the committee by the end of the month.
the case for unhrc
In Geneva, an American ambassador makes the case for the U.N. Human Rights Council
Michèle Taylor’s first day on the job as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council, on Feb. 24, 2022, began as a normal Thursday. But by the time she went to bed that night, Russia had invaded Ukraine, and the entire international order in which she deeply believed — and that she had just been sworn in to try to uphold — was put to the test. “It was a pretty auspicious start to my time here,” Taylor told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch in a recent interview.
Back at the table: Taylor is Washington’s first ambassador to the Human Rights Council since former President Donald Trump left the body in 2018, when he accused it of bias against Israel and a failure to hold human rights abusers to account. Early in his presidency, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would reenter the body. Taylor told JI that the only way the U.S. can effectively fight the challenges posed by the council is by serving as an active member, engaging other nations diplomatically and speaking out on Israel’s behalf.
Diplomatic engagement: “If I do my job well, I will make it clear to even the biggest naysayers how important it is that the United States is engaged here at the Human Rights Council,” Taylor said. “We have plenty of evidence now as to what happens when the U.S. is here versus what happens when the U.S. is not here.”
new york state of politics
Anti-Israel candidate toppled in New York City Council primary
Jewish community activists are hailing the election results of two bitterly contested City Council races in Brooklyn this week, where an incumbent long accused of antisemitism is expected to be unseated and a lesser-known candidate who faced criticism over an endorsement from an anti-Israel union went down to defeat, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
On the record: In East New York, Charles Barron, a self-described Black radical socialist who has made incendiary claims about Jews and Israel, conceded to Chris Banks, a Democratic insurgent with backing from organized labor as well as a powerful congressman. The stunning upset last Tuesday, which has yet to be officially called, was a forceful repudiation of a veteran lawmaker who has frequently antagonized the Jewish community. Throughout his decades-long tenure in public office, Barron, 72, has said that Israel should never have been created and suggested that Black people are the real “Semites,” among other provocations.
South Brooklyn seat: Meanwhile, in South Brooklyn, Wai Yee Chan, a nonprofit director and former Democratic Council aide, lost by a decisive 30-point margin to Susan Zhuang, a former chief of staff to a sitting state assemblyman. Near the end of the race, Chan had drawn scrutiny for accepting an endorsement from the Professional Staff Congress, a union representing faculty and staff members of the City University of New York.
Bonus: A newly created nonprofit advocacy group, New Yorkers for a Better Future, spent approximately $30,000 on a targeted outreach campaign to boost voter turnout within the Jewish community in the New York City Council primary that ousted Barron from office.
Recovery in tech investment leaves Israeli startups behind
Israel’s tech industry is lagging behind the U.S. and Europe in attracting venture capital even as breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are generating renewed investment in startups, The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger reports. Companies in Israel raised $3.7 billion in the first six months of 2023 – the lowest amount of technology investment at the midyear point since 2018, according to a survey by the Start-Up Nation Policy Institute (SNPI). That represents a 68% drop in financing from the same period last year.
Declining deals: Drilling down further, a report by the IVC research center, an industry group, and Bank Leumi’s LeumiTech unit indicated that the 100 fundraising deals recorded in the second quarter of 2023 represented a 48% decline from the corresponding period last year. Second-quarter funding was down 65% from the same quarter in 2022. The SNPI report suggested that perceptions of instability in Israel stemming from government efforts to overhaul the judicial system and widespread protests against the proposals continue to chill investment.
Nasdaq gap: “We are concerned that local unrest could cut off Israel’s high-tech industry from the global technology sector’s recovery, making it less competitive during this crucial time,” the policy institute said. The government’s Israel Innovation Authority added its own note of caution in a midyear report, citing a recovery by technology stocks in the U.S. that has not included Israeli companies. The Nasdaq 100 technology sector index rose 23.7% in the first quarter, compared to Israeli companies on the Nasdaq that increased only 10.8%.
🕍 Body and Soul: In The New York Times, Rabbi David Wolpe, the Max Webb rabbi emeritus at Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple, reflects on his time on the pulpit. “I still believe the synagogue is a refuge for the bereaved and provides a road map for the seeker. I have been moved by how powerful the teachings of tradition prove to be in people’s lives, helping them sort out grievances from griefs, focusing on what matters, giving poignancy to celebrations. The stories of the Torah, read year after year, wear grooves in our souls, so that patterns of life that might escape us become clear. Sibling rivalries and their costs are clear in the story of Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers. The consequences of kindness emanate from the book of Ruth. We share unanswerable questions with Job and passion with the Song of Songs. The Torah acts as a spur and a salve.” [NYTimes]
🇮🇳 Delhi Diplomacy: In Foreign Policy, Steven Cook considers the rise of India as a major player in the Middle East. “India-Israel ties are perhaps the most well-developed of New Delhi’s relations in the region. Although India recognized Israel in 1950, the two countries did not establish normal diplomatic ties until 1992. Since that time, but especially in recent years, they have deepened their ties. In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first Indian leader to visit Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to India the following year… The evolution of India’s place in the Middle East reflects the changing international order and the willingness — perhaps even eagerness — of countries in the region to benefit from the new multipolarity. There is little that the United States can do about this development and may even in a paradoxical way benefit from it. If the United States’ Middle Eastern partners are looking for an alternative to Washington, it is better that New Delhi is among the choices. The United States may no longer be the undisputed big dog in the region, but as long as India expands its presence in the Middle East, neither Russia nor China can assume that role.” [FP]
⚖️ Jordan Rules: In New Lines Magazine, Dan Wilkofsky looks at the role that tribal justice plays in matters of the law in Jordan. “Tribal justice has been a topic of public debate for decades. Critics say that it undermines Jordan’s written laws and constitution and imposes collective punishment. Proponents concede the need for reform but argue that the informal tribal system serves the public good: By honoring the victim’s family and delivering compensation, it preempts revenge and restores group relations disrupted by bloodshed. ‘Tribal justice is psychological treatment before it is material restitution,’ said Talal al-Madi, a Jordanian senator and tribal sheikh. ‘The reconciliation isn’t completed on the basis of one individual reconciling with another. Rather, it’s “this tribe reconciled with that tribe,” which increases societal security.’” [NewLines]
🇯🇴 Eye on Amman: In The Hill, Eric Mandel assesses that Jordan is likely to be Iran’s next target in its campaign to establish proxy armies against Israel. “To the east of a destabilized West Bank is Jordan, a poverty-stricken nation on Israel’s doorstep — a country we take for granted as stable because its westernized king makes his rounds in Washington, seeming the essence of the enlightened despot, talking up the supposed stability of his country. So how would Iran destabilize Jordan to set the stage for a pro-Iranian regime — or, better yet, set up mobilization units to dominate the country, as they did in Syria? Since Abdullah has control of his parliament and loyalty from his professional military, the most likely scenario is a ground-up approach, targeting Jordan’s vulnerable population. They will cultivate support among the poor, the ignorant, Islamists, the disgruntled majority of Palestinians, and the millions of displaced refugees from the Syrian and Iraqi wars, who have little hope for a better life.” [TheHill]
Around the Web
➡️ Presidential Appointment: President Joe Biden nominated Elliott Abrams, who most recently served as the Trump administration’s special envoy to Iran and Venezuela, to the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
🗳️ Spoiler Strategy?: The Wall Street Journallooks at the efforts of the centrist group No Labels to get involved in the 2024 presidential election, amid concerns over the secrecy around the organization’s funding.
📦 Soros Cuts: Open Society Foundations, the philanthropy led by progressive George Soros, will cut 40% of its staff in the coming months as part of a board-approved move to make “significant changes” to how the organization operates.
❌ Failing Grade: The New York City Department of Education released the results of an eight-year investigation that found that 18 Hasidic schools failed to meet state requirements for secular education.
⚽ Benching Like Beckham: At an event at the St John’s Wood Synagogue in London, soccer star David Beckham discussed his Jewish background and connection with the city’s Jewish community.
📚 Holocaust History: In CNN, Muslim World League Secretary General Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa writes about his experience bringing a Muslim delegation to Auschwitz.
🚀 No Strike Plan: Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said that Israel has not made moves in recent months toward a strike on Iran.
💥 IDF Strike: The IDF said it shot down a Syrian anti-aircraft battery on Sunday.
⚖️ Bill Advances: The reasonableness standard bill, part of the government’s contentious judicial reform proposals, passed in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee by a 9-4 vote in a stormy meeting on Tuesday in which some opposition MKs were ejected for interference. The bill will now be sent to the Knesset plenum for its first reading.
🪧 Bruchim HaBaim: Thousands of Israelis participated in a mass protest against the judicial overhaul plan on Monday, blocking traffic outside Ben Gurion Airport and hampering foot traffic inside.
🛢️ Third Time, Pipe Dream: Partners in the Leviathan offshore gas project plan to invest more than $560 million in a third pipeline.
🛩️ Fighter Jet Buys: Israel will purchase an additional 25 F-35 stealth jets from the U.S., with financing for the deal coming from U.S. defense aid allocated to Israel.
🇮🇱 Soccer Success: Israel’s Under-21 soccer team defeated Georgia, which secured the team a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
🇮🇷 Iran In: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation welcomed Iran as its ninth member during an online summit hosted by India.
🕯️ Remembering: New York radioman Robert Sherman, who for more than 50 years hosted programs on the classical music station WQXR-FM, died at 90. Edward Fredkin, a computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died at 88.
Pic of the Day
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (left) and Israeli President Issac Herzog at the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s 4th of July celebration on Monday evening, hosted by Nides and his wife, Virginia Moseley, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Over 1,200 guests were on hand at the event, which featured kosher American fare, musical performances and speeches from Nides, Herzog and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In their remarks, Herzog and Netanyahu congratulated Nides as his ambassadorial term concludes next week. Herzog addressed Nides’ family and quipped to Moseley that “if Tom gets too much on your nerves, we would love to have him back.”
Catcher and first baseman in the Cincinnati Reds organization, Andrew Jacob Yerzy turns 25…
Retired Democratic congresswoman from New York, she was first elected in 1988, and founder of MEPPA, Nita Lowey turns 86… Vice-chairman emeritus of AllianceBernstein, he is co-president of the Hertog Foundation, Roger Hertog turns 82… Former state comptroller of Israel for seven years, Yosef Shapira turns 78… Resident of Nantucket, Mass., and West Palm Beach, Fla., Steven Perelman… President emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie turns 76… NYC-based attorney, Myron Schulman… Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit since 1998, she took senior status in 2021, Judge Susan Pia Graber turns 74… Argentine biophysicist, rabbi and author, Abraham Skorka turns 73… Executive director of the Augusta (Georgia) Jewish Federation and the Augusta Jewish Community Center, Leah Ronen… U.S. senator (R-MI), Roger Wicker turns 72… Investment banker who led President Obama’s auto industry rescue, Steven Lawrence Rattner turns 71… Venezuelan journalist, author and former government official, he serves as a distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., Moisés Naím turns 71… Businessman and co-founder of Visions of Abraham, Eli Epstein turns 70… Member of the Knesset, he is the founder and leader of Israel’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman turns 65…
Author, teacher and founding SVP of Jerusalem’s Shalem College, Daniel Gordis turns 64… Grammy award-winning folk-rock singer, Marc Cohn turns 64… Chair of Portland, Ore.-based industrial real estate firm Summit Properties, co-owner of Chella Textiles, vice chair of San Diego’s Leichtag Foundation and board member of many Jewish organizations, Emily Einhorn… Pulitzer Prize winner, author and chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, David E. Sanger turns 63… Screenwriter, Marc Moss turns 63… Israeli-born jazz pianist and recording artist, on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, Eyran Katsenelenbogen turns 58… CEO of Hadassah, Naomi Adler… Vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, Yizhar Hess turns 56… Retired CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki turns 55… Co-founder and CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, Gil Shwed turns 55… Born in Leningrad, now living NYC where he teaches at Columbia, author and satirist, Gary Shteyngart turns 51… St. Louis county assessor since 2011, Jake Zimmerman turns 49… Former member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, he served as the minister of tourism from 2021 to 2022, Yoel Razvozov turns 43… Chief strategy officer at Repair the World, Kate Belza O’Bannon… Contemporary Hasidic singer, Mordecai “Motty” Steinmetz turns 31… Member of Virginia’s State Council of Higher Education, Jennie O’Holleran…