👋 Good Monday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we preview the NY-17 race for a key swing seat and look ahead to a busy week on Capitol Hill as Congress returns from the July 4 recess. Also in today’s DK: Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Kimberly Ovitz and Uri Geller.
In a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that aired on Sunday, President Joe Biden said that the U.S was far from reaching a deal with Saudi Arabia, whereby the U.S. would reportedly provide the Saudis with a defense treaty and civilian nuclear capacity, in return for normalization with Israel. Biden said, “We’re a long way from there. We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
Defending his visit to Saudi Arabia last year, Biden mentioned Riyadh’s decision to open its airspace to Israeli air carriers as one achievement that came from that trip. “So, we’re making progress in the region. And it depends upon the conduct and what is asked of us for them to recognize Israel,” Biden said. “Quite frankly, I don’t think they have much of a problem with Israel. And whether or not we would provide a means by which they could have civilian nuclear power and/or be a guarantor of their security, that’s — I think that’s a little way off.”
Asked whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would receive an invitation to the White House, Biden said, “Well, first of all, the Israeli president is going to be coming… And Bibi, I think, is trying to work through how he can work through his existing problems in terms of his coalition.”
Biden referred to some members of the Israeli cabinet as “the most extreme members of cabinets that I’ve seen,” and reiterating his support for a two-state solution he added, “they are a part of the problem, and particularly those individuals in the cabinet who say, ‘We can settle anywhere we want. They have no right to be here, etc.’”
Biden’s comments prompted a response from Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who told the right-wing Israeli TV network Channel 14 last night, “President Biden must internalize that Israel is not another star on the American flag.”
On Ukraine, Biden — who set off yesterday for a weeklong visit to Europe including a NATO summit in Lithuania — said Kyiv’s entry into the alliance is premature so long as the war with Russia is ongoing. The president said he has told his Ukrainian counterpart that “while that process is going on,” the U.S. is ready “to provide security a la the security we provide for Israel, providing the weaponry they need, the capacity to defend themselves, if there is an agreement, if there is a cease-fire, if there is a peace agreement.”
This Saturday marks the deadline for all presidential candidates to file their second-quarter fundraising reports — numbers that will shed light on the state of political play as the 2024 election draws closer.
Most of the presidential candidates officially entered the race over the last three months, meaning this will be the first test of their political mettle. That list includes President Joe Biden, who ended the month of June with a flurry of 10 big-dollar fundraisers to demonstrate an early show of financial strength.
Some candidates, such as former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have already announced their fundraising figures. Here are some of the unanswered questions we’re tracking closely, per Jewish Insider Editor in Chief Josh Kraushaar:
Can President Joe Biden match former President Barack Obama’s fundraising? Obama recorded a humorous fundraising video to bring in small-dollar donations for his old running mate just before the deadline, but it’s Obama’s fundraising record against which Biden will be judged.
In the second quarter of 2011, Obama’s campaign brought in $47 million for his reelection — along with an additional $39 million through the Democratic National Committee. (Another relevant comparison: In the first quarter of his 2020 campaign, Biden raised $21.5 million.)
Biden’s campaign has said it won’t be announcing its fundraising total until the deadline, raising fears that the number will be underwhelming. The campaign has hired fewer than 20 staffers and doesn’t even have its headquarters in place.
Who’s spending more money: Trump or DeSantis? Both Republican contenders announced strong fundraising totals in the second quarter. Trump’s campaign said it brought in $35 million between his campaign and political action committee — about twice what he raised in the first quarter.
DeSantis, meanwhile, raised over $20 million in the six weeks since entering the race, and his allied super PAC announced it has brought in a whopping $130 million since March. One red flag: DeSantis’ campaign had said it raised over $8 million on the first day after announcing his candidacy, a sign that the pace of fundraising slowed down since then.
Neither campaign announced how much cash on hand was in their respective accounts, which will give greater insight on their burn rate, and how efficiently they’re spending their money. Trump has used his political action committee to pay his substantial legal bills, which tallied $14.6 million in the second half of last year.
DeSantis’ super PAC, with its imposing fundraising, has also been spending aggressively early on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts — to the point where the Trump campaign has attacked it for wasting money. Maintaining ample cash in the campaign account will be important, since campaigns get much better bang for the buck and also have direct control of their own message.
Who leads the GOP second tier of candidates? You need a scorecard to follow all the GOP candidates who jumped in the race last month, but these fundraising reports will help separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will need to post another solid quarter to alleviate skepticism about her staying power. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) will need to show he can continue to raise big money as a presidential candidate to supplement his substantial cash haul accumulated as a senator.
Former Vice President Mike Pence must reel in big-dollar donors, consistent with the profile of a former second-in-command. And former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will need to raise enough money from small-dollar donors to qualify for the much-anticipated August primary debate.
the week ahead
What’s on tap in Washington as Congress returns from recess
This week will be busy on Capitol Hill as both chambers of Congress return from their July 4 recess for a three-week legislative sprint to their August recess, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The full House is expected to debate the National Defense Authorization Act on the floor this week. Members have submitted nearly 1,500 amendments to the bill, including more than 100 related to Middle East policy, antisemitism and extremism that we are tracking. It’s unclear how many of those amendments will actually receive consideration or debate on the House floor.
On Tuesday: A Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs investigative subcommittee will hold a hearing examining Saudi influence in the United States, with the leaders of the PGA Tour slated to testify on the PGA-LIV Golf deal. The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Gen. Charles Q. Brown, the nominee for chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) also set a Tuesday deadline for questions he posed to the State Department about Iran envoy Rob Malley’s suspended security clearance.
On Thursday: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up the 2024 State Department reauthorization bill, as well as a resolution expressing support for anti-government protesters in Iran. Some members are set to be in Vilnius, Lithuania, for the NATO summit, where questions about Turkey’s place in the alliance — and congressional opposition to its efforts to purchase U.S. F-16 fighter jets — are likely to be top of mind.
Clock ticking: The House is also expected to push forward its appropriations bills in the coming weeks, given that there are only six weeks remaining in the session until government funding runs out on Sept. 30.
Also this week: Confirmation hearings are set for the nominees for Army chief of staff and National Security Agency director.
Mondaire Jones looks to reclaim his old seat against challenger with a Democratic pedigree
The race for a key swing seat that could ultimately determine the House majority grew even more competitive last week when former Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) launched a widely anticipated bid to reclaim his old district in the Lower Hudson Valley, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Primary clash: Jones, 36, is running against Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), who is among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection — if he can win a hotly contested primary. Jones will first be facing a potentially formidable Democratic rival, Liz Whitmer Gereghty, who announced her candidacy in May. The June 25 primary would pit a nationally recognized progressive stalwart with ties to Democratic leadership against a moderate first-time candidate who boasts an illustrious political pedigree: Gereghty, 50, is the younger sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Record on Israel: In an interview with JI, Jones touted his pro-Israel bona fides as he seeks another term in New York’s heavily Jewish 17th Congressional District. “In part because I had such a strong record of supporting Israel, even when the district was a safely blue seat,” he said, “I don’t really expect that my opponents, whether in the primary or in the general, would dare try to distort a record that is so obvious to people in my district.”
Read the full interview here.
Award-winning Israeli author takes on antisemitism in the U.S.
A few years ago, when Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen dropped her daughter off at preschool for the first time, she remembers closely scanning the faces of the other young children, wondering if any of them would bully her child. “I was actually looking at all the 5-year-olds as if they were potential wolves,” Gundar-Goshen, whose fifth novel, The Wolf Hunt, will be released in English next month, admitted to Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash in a recent interview.
Psychologist’s perspective: Gundar-Goshen, 41, said that after she’d left the preschool, walking home through the streets of Tel Aviv, she stopped for a second and asked herself: “Wait a minute, how come all the parents have the same fear of another child being the wolf and harming their little cub? How come none of us considered for a moment the possibility that our child could potentially be the wolf?” Gundar-Goshen, a professional clinical psychologist whose previous novels garnered critical acclaim worldwide, as well as a slew of literary prizes – including Israel’s prestigious Sapir and Wingate prizes – tackles that question and broader topics dealing with Jewish and Israeli identity in The Wolf Hunt.
Identity questions: Unlike her other novels, this one is set in the United States, in San Francisco to be exact, and explores the contrast between being an Israeli Jew versus an American Jew, what it’s like to be part of that immigrant community and the best way to stand up to racism and antisemitism. For many Israelis, Gundar-Goshen observed, the answer is clear: fighting back.
👴 Aging Gracefully: In The Atlantic, Eliot A. Cohen argues that President Joe Biden’s age requires him to bow out of the upcoming presidential race. “I am deeply grateful to Joe Biden. By defeating Donald Trump in 2020, he rescued this country from the continuing misrule of a dangerous grifter and serial liar, a man gripped by vindictiveness, lawlessness, and egomania…President Biden is 80 years old. If he gets reelected, he will be 86 by the time his term expires. He will have spent, at the end of that time, nearly half a century as a senator, vice president, or president, positions all calculated to inflate one’s self-image. As president he has surrounded himself with former aides and dutiful technocrats — no peers who can look him straight in the eye and say, with the gravitas born of expertise and self-confidence, ‘Mr. President, I profoundly disagree.’ Perhaps this is what he has always done, but it is particularly striking now.” [Atlantic]
🥄 Magic Man:The New York Times’ David Segal spotlights Israeli illusionist Uri Geller, who has captivated audiences — and drawn more than a few critics — for his performances, which involve bending metal spoons. “Mr. Geller became not just a global celebrity — a media darling who toured the world and filled auditoriums for dramatic demonstrations of cutlery abuse, with the humble spoon becoming his victim of choice — but also the living embodiment of the hope that there was something more, something science couldn’t explain. Because at the core of his performance was a claim of boggling audacity: that these were not tricks. They were displays of raw psychic powers. ‘I’ve never even seen a magic show,’ Mr. Geller, now a lean and tireless 76-year-old, said during a recent interview in Tel Aviv at the Uri Geller Museum, which he opened in 2021. ‘Except one: Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas, because I missed a flight.’” [NYTimes]
👱♀️ All Dolled Up: In Tablet magazine, Susan Shapiro spotlights Barbie inventor Ruth Handler. “Ruth met Elliot Handler, her future husband and business partner, at a B’nai Brith dance when she was 16. But she stayed independent for several years: Ruth’s family gave her a 1932 coupe and let her work as a stenographer at Paramount Pictures, living in an LA apartment with female friends (inspiring Barbie’s modern lifestyle). At 24, Ruth proposed to Elliot. The creator of myriad miniature bridal gowns wore a borrowed dress to her 1938 wedding. She had two children: Kenneth and Barbara, whose names later inspired the names of the dolls she created — something her real-life children resented.” [Tablet]
🪖 Military Matters: In Newsweek, political commentator and historian Gil Troy argues against criticism of the recent Israeli military operation in Jenin. “In fact, Israel’s surgical strike was totally-justified, long-in-the-making – and potentially game-changing… Perhaps the most glaring omission boosting the ‘cycle of violence’ talk came in ‘background’ stories mischaracterizing Jenin as a perpetual terror center. Reporters skipped back to April 2002, when 23 Israeli soldiers died neutralizing Jenin’s terrorist infrastructure. What they didn’t say was that, freed of those terrorists, Jenin prospered. Thanks to the Palestinian Authority’s security cooperation with Israel, Jenin’s Palestinians enjoyed some calm, while few Jenin-based terrorists menaced Israelis.” [Newsweek]
Around the Web
👨 Raskin Staying Put: Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) announced he will not seek the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), opting to run for reelection in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.
📅 Early Date: Iowa Republicans voted on Saturday to hold the 2023 caucus for the presidential nomination on Jan. 15, which falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
🕵️♀️ Malley Mess: The FBI is investigating White House Iran envoy Rob Malley’s handling of classified documents.
🇺🇦 Rift Over Ukraine: Democrats, including Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA), are breaking with the Biden administration over the decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine.
➡️ Grace-ful Exit: Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), the oldest member of California’s delegation to the House who was first elected to Congress in 1998, will not seek reelection next year.
📱 Game Time:The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell looks at the effort of David Perpich, who was behind The New York Times’ purchase of Wordle, to turn a profit on The Athletic following the sports site’s acquisition by the Gray Lady.
🏫 Race Matters: TheNew York Times’ Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviews legal activist Edward Blum about his efforts to overturn affirmative action policies in U.S. college admissions and his wider focus on the issue of race and ethnicity in public policy.
🍦 Right of Return: The chief of an Indigenous tribe that originated in Vermont told Newsweek that the tribe would be interested in taking back the land on which the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters is located, following the ice cream company’s public call on July 4th for “stolen” lands to be returned.
📽️ They’ll Always Have Paris: The Wall Street Journal reviews Bogie and Bacall, William J. Mann’s deep dive into the relationship between two of Hollywood’s earliest stars.
🚴♂️ Cycling for Peace: A Middle East “Peace Race” that will take cyclists through Israel, the UAE and Bahrain is being planned for October 2024 to conclude the year’s racing season.
🇺🇳 No Retraction: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres rejected a call from Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan to retract his recent condemnation of Israel over a raid in Jenin last week in which 12 Palestinian militants were killed.
🇮🇷 Iran Feint: Intelligence gathered by the EU indicates that Iran is attempting to bypass U.S. and European sanctions in an effort to secure technology to be used for atomic bomb testing.
🪧 Protesters Ready: A massive nationwide “day of resistance” is planned for tomorrow in Israel if the “reasonableness standard” bill, part of the government’s contentious judicial reform proposals, advances in the Knesset tonight.
🪖 West Bank Attack: Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man who hurled a grenade and fired shots at them near the Neveh Tzuf settlement in the West Bank this morning.
🇮🇱🇵🇸 Security Steps: The Israeli security cabinet voted last night in favor of measures to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
Pic of the Day
Jewish Insider’s own Ruth Marks Eglash held the official book launch for her debut novel, Parallel Lines, at Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum last night. In a twist, Eglash was interviewed onstage by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who said the book event was his final public appearance as ambassador. Jerusalem Report Editor in Chief Steve Linde emceed the event, which was also attended by the museum’s director and chief curator, Eilat Lieber, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, CNN Bureau Chief Richard Allen Greene, and Jerusalem Post Managing Editor David Brinn.
|Founder, creative director and designer for a fashion line bearing her name, she is the daughter of CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz, Kimberly Ovitz turns 40… |
Neurologist, certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest practicing physician in the U.S., in his ’60s he attended law school and then passed the bar exam, Howard Tucker, MD, JD turns 101… Senior U.S. District Court Judge in the Southern District of Texas, Judge David Hittner turns 84… Robert D. Gronke… Stan Udaskin… Folk singer-songwriter, Arlo Guthrie turns 76… Author of 12 novels, Naomi Ragen turns 74… Partner in consulting firm Quorum, LLC and president at Regal Domestics, Barbara Goldberg Goldman… Journalist and author of 12 books, Julie Salamon turns 70… Editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, Columbus Jewish News and Akron Jewish News, Bob Jacob… Israel’s Ambassador to Spain, Rodica Radian-Gordon turns 66… Past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey, Leslie Dannin Rosenthal… Member of Holland & Knight’s public policy group, and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida, Ronald J. “Ron” Klein turns 66… Lobbyist, he was a member of the New York State legislature: Assembly for 10 years and Senate for 14 years, Jeffrey D. Klein turns 63… Voice actor and impressionist who has voiced Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat and dozens of others, Jeffrey Bergman turns 63… Critic at large for The New York Times Book Review, Anthony Oliver (A.O.) Scott turns 57… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2019 (D-MI-8), she is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in the 2024 election to succeed Debbie Stabenow, Elissa Blair Slotkin turns 47… NYC-based partner at Purposeful Communications, Elie Jacobs… Member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Yinon Azulai turns 44… Head of politics and public affairs at Altice and a4 Media, Rena Shapiro… Writer and comedian, his conversion as a Mormon to Judaism is the subject of a documentary, “Latter Day Jew,” H. Alan Scott turns 41… Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department during the Trump administration, Morgan Deann Ortagus turns 41… Deputy managing editor for politics at Politico, Sam Stein… Television and film actress, Aviva Farber Baumann turns 39… Dance teacher at John Foster Dulles High School in Missouri City, Texas, Kayla Sokoloff…