👋 Good Monday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on the latest from Israel, where the coalition is pushing forward with a key judicial reform bill, and spotlight Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s comments on the final day of the Aspen Security Forum. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: London Breed, Nikki Haley and Joel Rubin.
Exclusive to JI: Businessman Bernie Moreno, running in a competitive Ohio Republican Senate primary, won an endorsement from Republican Jewish Coalition National Chairman Norm Coleman, Jewish Insider has learned.
“I am honored to support and endorse Bernie Moreno for U.S. Senate in the Great State of Ohio. Bernie is a political outsider and proven business leader, with a clear vision to solve the big problems facing our nation. He also has a long record of being a great friend to our democratic ally in the Mideast — Israel. His support for Israel is rock solid,” Coleman told us in a statement.
“As a former U.S. Senator, and the Chairman of the Board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, I fully understand the importance of nominating quality conservative candidates to win tough elections and I’m confident that Bernie will give Republicans our best chance at defeating Sherrod Brown next year.”
Moreno is facing state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-OH) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose in the primary. He leads the GOP field in fundraising, bringing in $2.2 million for the second quarter.
In addition to winning Coleman’s support, Moreno has won backing from Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) and former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY). Former President Donald Trump also offered Moreno warm words at last week’s Turning Point Action conference. (Moreno’s daughter is married to Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), one of two Jewish Republicans in the House and a former Trump aide.)
The winner of the GOP primary will face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a battle-tested third-term senator with a history of winning tough races. A recent poll from Suffolk University showed Brown leading all GOP candidates, but was tracking under the 50 percent mark against all GOP challengers — a sign of his vulnerability.
JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy’s Iran Policy Project is releasing a new paper this afternoon with suggestions for how the U.S. can support Israel in the event of a potential Israeli strike on Iran. Among the recommendations in the paper, which was shared with JI, are a call for the U.S. to reimpose U.N. Security Council resolutions and their accompanying sanctions on Tehran, “fast-track delivery of key platforms and munitions to Israel, many of which already are under contract” and “actively coordinate” with Israel ahead of time as Washington simultaneously works to “proactively provide for the defenses of its own forces and assets in the region.” The full paper will be released at 4 p.m. ET.
the view from israel
Tensions reach boiling point as Knesset poised to pass first judicial reform bill
Israel’s internal political clashes and seven months of civil discord come to a head today as the Knesset votes on a key part of the Netanyahu government’s proposed judicial overhaul package. Tens of thousands of anti-judicial reform demonstrators reached the Knesset on Saturday evening after a 40-mile-long, five-day march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and set up a tent encampment outside the parliament grounds the same day the Knesset began to debate contentious legislation. Police and protestors clashed and dozens who were blocking entrances to parliament were arrested, some violently removed from the scene today. The “reasonableness standard” bill, which will curb Israel’s highest court from overturning government decisions and appointments that it deems unreasonable, is expected to be passed into law later today.
Health report: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discharged from hospital this morning after he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker, a week after collapsing on a family trip to the Sea of Galilee. The 73-year-old prime minister postponed the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday on doctor’s orders, but was at the Knesset today in time to vote.
Shuttle diplomacy: Israeli President Isaac Herzog returned yesterday from his diplomatic visit to the U.S., traveling from the airport to visit Netanyahu in the hospital. His office said he held “an urgent meeting” with the prime minister as part of his efforts to reach an agreement between the coalition and the opposition. “This is a time of emergency. An agreement must be reached,” the president said in a statement. His meeting with the premier was followed by separate meetings with opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz. But the talks blew up early afternoon in Israel, and Lapid — who had accepted the parameters of the proposal — told reporters at the Knesset that there was no way forward in talks with the coalition.
Biden’s warning: President Joe Biden made his own appeal for Netanyahu to apply the brakes. “From the perspective of Israel’s friends in the United States, it looks like the current judicial reform proposal is becoming more divisive, not less,” Biden said in a statement to Axios.
Diaspora appeal: The heads of Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Agency for Israel, World Zionist Organization and Keren Hayesod sent a joint letter to Netanyahu and Lapid today, calling on them to come to an agreement and end the turmoil, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross reports.
Security concerns: Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, a close confidant of Netanyahu, called, in an op-ed published in Ynet yesterday, for an immediate halt to the legislation and for dialogue. He also appealed to “those serving in Israel’s security organizations, reservists and volunteers alike, to keep the dispute out of the IDF and security forces.” Thousands of IDF reservists have threatened to refuse to serve if the legislation passes.
Economic fallout: A leading business forum representing 150 of Israel’s largest companies announced a strike today, shuttering banks, shopping centers and gas stations, as well as other businesses. Israel’s biggest labor union, the Histadrut, is weighing a national strike that would shut down government offices and public transportation. Nearly 70% of Israeli startups have begun taking steps to relocate parts of their business outside Israel, a survey released yesterday found.
Notable quotable: Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted yesterday, “Given the striking parallels between Israel’s current internal rift and the infighting that caused the destruction of the Second Temple 2000 years ago, why would the Israeli Government proceed with its Judicial Reform bill on the eve of Tisha B’Av? Very bad timing.”
heard at aspen
Blinken offers support for Biden’s judicial reform critiques, but emphasizes commitment to Israeli security
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken offered support for President Joe Biden’s recent comments criticizing Israeli judicial reform efforts, and said that they reflect sentiments both men have expressed to Israeli leaders behind the scenes, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Speaking out: “We come to this from a place where of course we have a unique relationship, a unique partnership with Israel spanning back decades,” Blinken said. “President Biden, more than anyone I know, is, in his gut, committed to Israel’s security, and that will never change.” He added, “I think we’ve seen Israeli democracy in all of its vibrancy. It’s telling a remarkable story right now that’s playing out, and I’m confident the system will be able to deal effectively with it.”
Coming together: Addressing Iran’s nuclear program, Blinken argued that the U.S. is now in better coordination with its European allies in countering Iran. “One of the benefits of working to see if we could get back into the nuclear agreement… is that we’re in alignment with our European partners,” Blinken said. “And we’re working very closely together to deal with some of the excesses committed by the regime.”
Ukrainian MP: Some critics of U.S. aid are playing ‘domestic political games’
Ukrainian MP Andrii Nikolaienko told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod he thinks U.S. lawmakers skeptical of continued U.S. aid to Ukraine don’t fully understand the situation and are being driven by domestic political concerns.
Quotable: “Some of the people who [oppose] continu[ing] supporting Ukraine [are] simply play[ing] domestic political games,” Nikolaienko suggested to JI in a brief interview on Friday on the sidelines of the Aspen Security Conference. “They have no real idea about geopolitics and foreign affairs.” Nikolaienko noted that aid to Ukraine is “a very, very small portion” of the total budgets of the U.S. and other Western countries — and that they’ve benefited greatly from Ukranian efforts, which have undermined Russia’s status as a global power by showing its military weaknesses.
Defending aid: Despite their growing prominence in U.S. political discourse such skeptics of aid to Ukraine went largely unrepresented during the weeklong conference. In stark contrast, several senators offered strenuous defenses of continued U.S. assistance. “I’m tired of hearing about escalation,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) said in an impassioned defense of U.S. aid to Ukraine. “If you don’t escalate, you’re going to lose. I want Putin to wake up in the morning worried about what he’s going to do that’s going to cause us to escalate, instead of us wringing our hands.”
Read the full story here.
Abu Dhabi’s ADQ loses bid to buy Israel’s Phoenix Holdings
An investment group led by Abu Dhabi’s government-owned ADQ fund called off a proposed deal to buy control of Phoenix Holdings, Israel’s biggest insurer, citing regulatory issues. In a report to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange early Sunday, Phoenix said the draft agreement it filed with the ADQ consortium in December was terminated, The Circuit’s Jonathan Ferziger reports.
Abraham Accords: The deal was one of the largest between companies in the United Arab Emirates and Israel since the two countries normalized relations almost three years ago under the U.S.-backed Abraham Accords.
Regulatory limitations: “The parties have come to a mutual understanding regarding termination of the term sheet… in light of the potential regulatory limitations that would have arisen from the acquisition of the controlling stake by the consortium resulting in potential restrictions for several members of the consortium to undertake additional material investments in Israel,” the Phoenix statement said.
🏢 DEI Drop-off:The Wall Street Journal’s Te-Ping Chen and Lauren Weber look at how corporate priorities have shifted away from hiring individuals for senior diversity roles, following an uptick in hiring after the 2020 killing of George Floyd. “Once mostly tasked with HR matters, today’s diversity leaders are expected to weigh in on new product development, marketing efforts and current events that have an impact on how workers and consumers are feeling. Warren and other [chief diversity officers] said the expanded remit is playing out in a politically divided environment where corporate diversity efforts are the subject of frequent social-media firestorms… During the pandemic, some companies moved people into diversity leadership if they were an ethnic minority, says Dani Monroe, even when they weren’t qualified. Monroe served as CDO for Mass General Brigham, a Boston-based hospital system and one of the largest employers in the state, until 2021 and convenes a yearly gathering of more than 100 CDOs. ‘These were knee-jerk reactions,’ she says of the hurried CDO hires, adding that some of those elevations didn’t create much impact, leaving both sides feeling disillusioned.” [WSJ]
🇮🇱🇺🇸 Dose of Tough Love: The New York Times’ Tom Friedman pens a letter to President Joe Biden ahead of the Israeli Knesset’s expected final vote on the “reasonableness clause” legislation, asking the U.S. leader to step up efforts to caution Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu away from major judicial reforms. “Mr. President, when we met last Tuesday and you gave me your very measured statement urging Netanyahu not to ‘rush’ this legislation through without ‘the broadest possible consensus’ — which he so clearly does not have — it came as an electric shock to the Israeli political system, dominating the news for several days.It was such a shock because a vast majority of Israelis believe — rightly — that you are a true friend and that your advice came from the heart. But I’m afraid this Israeli government needs another dose of your tough love — not just from your heart but from the heart of U.S. strategic interests as well.” [NYTimes]
🌁 New Breed: In The New York Times, Thomas Fuller and Shawn Hubler spotlight Levi Strauss heir Daniel Lurie and S.F. Board of Supervisors member Ahsha Safaí, as they gear up to challenge San Francisco Mayor London Breed next year. “A native San Franciscan, Mr. Lurie is descended from one of the city’s most prominent families. His father, Rabbi Brian Lurie, was the executive director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco; his mother, Miriam Lurie Haas, known as Mimi, is a billionaire businesswoman; and his stepfather, the late philanthropist Peter Haas, was a descendant of Levi Strauss. Mr. Lurie is a prominent philanthropist, too, and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for anti-poverty programs through Tipping Point, a San Francisco nonprofit that he founded. His wife, Becca Prowda, is director of protocol for Governor Newsom. But in a city whose fierce local politics have been described as “a knife fight in a phone booth,” Mr. Lurie remains a political novice. He has never held office, and the knives are already out.” [NYTimes]
⚖️ Man with a Plan: The New Yorker‘s Sheelah Kolhatkar spotlights attorney Alex Spiro, who has become the go-to attorney for celebrities facing legal issues. “A partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Spiro has, in recent years, become one of the best-known trial lawyers in the country, a feat attributable to a streak of victories in high-profile cases and to frequent appearances in popular media outlets ranging from the Washington Post and the New York Post to the Shade Room and TMZ. A graduate of Tufts University and Harvard Law School, he possesses a plainspoken charm that clients and juries find beguiling…. Spiro represented Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, who was accused of solicitation at the Orchids of Asia massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida (charges dropped). He defended the twenty-two-year-old son of the industrialist Peter Brant and the supermodel Stephanie Seymour when the young man, inebriated at J.F.K. Airport, punched a Port Authority police officer (charges dismissed after community service). He came to the aid of Alec Baldwin after the actor accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer with a prop gun on the set of the movie ‘Rust’ (charges dropped). He has represented Jay-Z in multiple disputes, and Megan Thee Stallion, after Tory Lanez shot her at a party. He also does the kind of pro-bono work that makes headlines: assisting Kim Kardashian in her campaign against wrongful convictions, and pushing for prison reform in Mississippi with Jay-Z.” [NewYorker]
Around the Web
💥 Labor Pains: Relations between President Joe Biden and key labor groups — a traditional ally of the president’s — are tense ahead of potential strikes that risk paralyzing parts of the economy.
👎 Carolina Condemnation: Six of the seven members of North Carolina’s Democratic congressional delegation called on the state’s GOP leaders to condemn social media posts by Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a candidate for governor, that the lawmakers say “invoke harmful stereotypes and conspiracy theories, downplay the Holocaust, and denigrate entire groups of human beings.”
🗳️ Campaign Pivot: The New York Timeslooks at the efforts by the DeSantis presidential campaign to morph into a “leaner-meaner” operation as the Florida governor struggles to gain traction after more than a month in the race.
🎤 Let’s Make A Deal: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley held a campaign event at the JCC Jersey Shore in Deal, N.J.
🚗 Ire in Oregon: A Portland, Ore., auto repair shop owned by Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez (D-OR) is facing an onslaught of negative reviews from left-wing activists in retaliation for the legislator’s occasional votes with Republicans.
💬 Santos Staffer: A former communications director in the office of Rep. George Santos (R-NY) talked toPolitico about the working environment in Santos’ office.
🏃♂️ Rubin’s Running: Former American Jewish Congress Executive Director Joel Rubin, who led Jewish outreach for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2020 presidential campaign, is joining the race to succeed Rep. David Trone (D-MD) in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.
➡️ Succeeding Sununu: Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) launched her campaign for governor in New Hampshire, where Gov. Chris Sununu will not seek reelection next year.
🇼🇸 Samoa-Bound: Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff is traveling to Samoa today — marking the first visit to the Pacific island by a senior U.S. official — where he’ll announce an allocation of $2.6 million from USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance that will go toward increasing disaster risk reduction in the region.
💱 Crypto Launch: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s Worldcoin cryptocurrency will launch today.
❌ Twitter Transition: Twitter began its rebrand to “X” today, replacing its signature blue bird with the letter in a black and white design.
🏝️ Island Getaway: A recently filed complaint against Sam Bankman-Fried and other FTX senior executives revealed that Bankman-Fried’s brother, Gabe, had looked into the possibility of purchasing Nauru, with the idea of using the island nation as a bunker to save effective altruists in the event of a catastrophic event.
✍️ AI Oversight: Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI signed onto a White House-facilitated commitment to oversee technology use in the areas of AI safety, cybersecurity and public trust.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: The U.K. is opening an inquiry into how many Jews were killed on Alderney in the Channel Islands, which had been occupied by the Nazis during WWII and had been the site of a concentration camp.
🇪🇸 Sound Familiar?: Spain is facing political uncertainty after no party attained the requisite amount of support, setting up a potential new election later this year or negotiations between the leading parties.
💵 Aid Debate: The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof penned an op-ed questioning the extent of U.S. aid to Israel.
🛫 Forced to Leave: The Associated Press spotlights a small group of African Hebrew Israelites living in Israel who recently lost a deportation battle after years in the country.
🇮🇷 Detained: Iran is detaining a fourth American, as the U.S. and Tehran engage in negotiations over a potential prisoner swap.
🌡️ The Heat is On: A deadly heat wave and ongoing drought are devastating areas of southern Iran.
🕯️ Remembering: Richard Barancik, the last surviving member of the Monuments Men, who recovered art that had been looted by the Nazis, died at 98. Judge James Zagel, who sentenced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to prison, died at 82.
Pic of the Day
Josh Harris (C), a new owner of the Washington Commanders, poses for a photo with his wife Marjorie Harris (L) and mother Sylvia Harris after a press conference introducing the team’s new ownership at FedExField on Friday in Landover, Md. Harris led a group that purchased the team from Dan Snyder for $6.05 billion.
Actress, writer, podcaster and comedian, Jamie Denbo turns 50…
Former U.S. ambassador to Romania, now senior counsel at Covington and Burling, Alfred H. Moses turns 94… Founder and chairman at Chicago-based housing developer The Habitat Company, Daniel Levin turns 93… Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who worked for ABC News and CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Lowell Bergman turns 78… Israeli physician, author and playwright, he is the younger brother of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Iddo Netanyahu turns 71… Political consultant known for his role in both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns, Joel Benenson turns 71… Los Angeles-based business and real estate attorney, Michael Jeffrey Bordy… Radio anchor and reporter on both CBS nationally and NYC’s WCBS, Michael Sugerman… Member of Congress (D-FL) until 2022, he previously served as the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist turns 67… One of the largest real estate investors in Russia and Chairman of the Board of Patrons of The Conference of European Rabbis, Boris Mints turns 65… Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Judge Patty Shwartz turns 62… Director of donor development for AIPAC, he is a retired NFL player who played for the Packers and the Cowboys where he won in Super Bowl XXVII, Alan (Shlomo) Veingrad turns 60… Founder of the Migdal Oz seminary for women in Gush Etzion, she is a granddaughter of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Esti Rosenberg turns 58… Partner in the Kentucky-based law firm of Frost Brown Todd and author of The Liberal Case for Israel, he was the first-ever Jewish statewide elected official in Kentucky, Jonathan Miller turns 56… Author, he writes the My Ride column for The Wall Street Journal on exotic cars, A.J. Baime turns 52… Mayor of Asheville, N.C., she was elected in 2013, 2017 and 2022, Esther E. Manheimer turns 52… President of Access Computer Technology in West Bloomfield, Mich., he is a rabbi, entrepreneur and social media expert, Jason Miller turns 47… President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Noah Zvi Farkas… EVP and CFO of Morgan Stanley, Sharon Yeshaya… Actress, screenwriter and director, she is married to Seth Rogen, Lauren Miller Rogen turns 41… Co-founder and partner at Orfin Ventures, Adam Finkel… Senior media relations specialist at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Sarah Citrenbaum… Co-founder and COO of Weave, Shlomo Klapper…