👋 Good Monday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on an effort by Jewish Democrats to censure GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, and look at a new bipartisan effort to boost funding for U.S.-Israel anti-drone programs. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Rob Malley, Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Danielle Cohen-Shohet.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a stalwart pro-Israel Democrat, set off an earthquake in Maryland politics when he announced in May that he plans to retire next year at the end of his term instead of seeking a fourth term in the Senate.
Now, more than two months later, the top Democratic candidates running to represent this heavily blue state have emerged.
There’s Rep.David Trone (D-MD), a longtime donor to AIPAC whose wife and children are Jewish, who is a known quantity when it comes to the state’s Jewish community.
But rising to the top of the pack — if fundraising numbers are any indication — is Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who is more of a newcomer to Jewish communal issues. The county she leads has a significantly smaller Jewish population than the Jewish hubs of Montgomery County and Baltimore County.
In a new interview with Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch, Alsobrooks, who is Black, praised the historic alliance between the Black and Jewish communities during the civil rights movement and pledged to stand alongside the Jewish community in fighting antisemitism.
“It was communicated to me very clearly [in life] the relationship between the Black community and the Jewish community and the sort of mutual obligation we had to continue to work as allies and friends,” Alsobrooks, 52, said of growing up in the 1970s.
Those shared values extend to “the friendship between the United States and Israel,” Alsobrooks added. “Those are values around democracy and freedom and peace and the rule of law.” She presented herself as a progressive who is also a steadfast backer of American support for Israel, echoing standard talking points from the mainstream pro-Israel community. Alsobrooks traveled to Israel in 2019 on a delegation organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, a nonprofit associated with AIPAC. Read JI’s full interview with Alsobrooks here.
In Pittsburgh this week, jurors will begin deliberations over whether convicted murderer Robert Bowers will face the death penalty or life in prison for the 2018 Tree of Life attack.
Seven thousand — that’s the number of Jews now residing in the UAE, according to a new Bloomberg report on the state of the Abraham Accords, a 10-fold increase since before the Accords. “This is just the beginning,” UAE Rabbi Levi Duchman told Bloomberg. “People want to move here because there’s an exceptional opportunity to live in a country where there’s safety and quality of life.”
Amid increasing talk about a potential normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Axios reports that Mossad Director David Barnea met with senior White House and CIA officials in Washington nearly two weeks ago to discuss the Biden administration’s efforts to reach a deal.
Questions remain on Malley’s status following classified briefing, McCaul says
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), emerging from a classified briefing on Friday morning, told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod that administration officials had not been able to offer committee members details on the status of Iran envoy Rob Malley, who has been suspended for allegedly mishandling classified information.
No details: “We don’t really have any details” on the Malley investigation “because it’s an ongoing investigation,” McCaul said. He said that the administration will likely not be able to provide a full briefing until the investigation concludes.
Serious issues: In a recent interview, McCaul had alluded to the possibility that Malley may have committed treason, if he had provided U.S. secrets to a U.S. adversary. Asked whether the briefing had alleviated those concerns, McCaul responded, “They couldn’t get into the details,” adding, “the question is, is the FBI involved because if they are, then that’s a national security problem.”
No subpoena: McCaul appeared to drop his threat to subpoena testimony on Malley’s status in the short term. “Just because of the ongoing investigation, I assume they would not comply with a subpoena, and it’d be hard to enforce that just given the Privacy Act and other considerations,” McCaul said.
on the hill
Jewish Democrats push to censure Paul Gosar for ‘pattern’ of antisemitism
A group of Jewish House Democrats is pushing for the House of Representatives to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) for “a clear pattern of engaging in antisemitism and extremism,” Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The resolution was introduced on Thursday by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Brad Sherman (D-CA).
Quotable: “Republicans refuse to restrain hateful rhetoric on their own side of the aisle, and Congressman Gosar’s repeated, unapologetic antisemitic acts and statements are clear proof of that,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement to JI. “If Republicans truly care about rising antisemitism, they will sanction serial offenders of dangerous, hateful content, and our resolution does that.”
Making a list: The resolution cites a series of instances in which Gosar has linked to antisemitic websites containing pro-Hilter and Holocaust denial content in his official congressional newsletter, distributed by his congressional office; shared a tweet defending Ye, formerly Kanye West, as the artist repeatedly invoked antisemitic tropes and in one case threatened violence against Jews last year; and his support for and appearances at events hosted by white supremacist organizer Nick Fuentes. The resolution also alludes to Gosar’s employment of alleged associates and supporters of Fuentes.
Bipartisan group of lawmakers pushes for increased U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation
A bipartisan group of more than 40 lawmakers introduced legislation on Friday that aims to combat the Iranian drone threat through increased cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
What it does:The U.S.-Israel Anti-Killer Drone Act would propose increasing funding caps for existing U.S.-Israel counter-drone programs from $40 million to $55 million annually. It would also direct the defense secretary to report to Congress on the status of U.S.-Israel counter-drone cooperation and any additional funding or authorities that could assist such efforts, as well as the threat Iranian drones pose to the U.S. and Israel.
In support: The bill is being sponsored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY). “This legislation is about protecting American and Israeli lives,” Gottheimer said in a statement. “This bipartisan effort is vitally important to Israel’s security, our security, and America’s interests in the region. It’s key to our fight against terror.” The bill is cosponsored by 42 other lawmakers from both parties, and supported by FDD Action.
🪖 War No More?: In Air Mail, Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman look at the refusal by IDF reservists to show up for duty if called, in protest of the Israeli government’s judicial reform efforts. “Military heroes who dissent courageously do earn respect. How far might they go? The notion of the army defying orders — or, almost unthinkably in Israel, taking over the government — would seem nothing that supporters of freedom would ever embrace. Yet there are a few historical precedents for a pro-democracy coup d’état, including 1974’s Carnation Revolution, which ended a long dictatorship in Portugal. In Israel, a country perpetually feeling itself at war, the refusal to serve is a strong protest that puts significant pressure on politicians. The I.D.F. depends on its highly experienced reserves, and most bombing missions are flown by air-force reservists. When pressed as to whether they would rush to the front lines if an actual war broke out, several leaders of the protest movement acknowledge that they would. So their threat may be somewhat hollow. But we heard from a few senior officers willing to take the more extreme step.” [AirMail]
⚖️ Washington’s Weigh-in: In The Hill, The Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff questions President Joe Biden’s public comments on the Israeli government’s moves to overhaul the judicial system. “Why has he commented — either directly, through American and Israeli journalists, or via his press secretary — multiple times on this domestic Israeli political issue? Why did he repeatedly warn against this bill and then criticize its passage? The rationale most frequently provided by the White House for the president’s interest is fear that Israel’s democracy will be weakened by speedy parliamentary approval of a law on a vital issue without any support from the opposition, thereby loosening the common bonds between our two great democracies. But this explanation doesn’t really hold water. It has certainly not been an issue in the past. For example, I don’t recall President Clinton warning Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 30 years ago not to press forward with the Oslo Accord, Israel’s historic but highly controversial peace agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was only approved (via a no-confidence motion) with 61 votes in the 120-member Knesset — a much narrower margin than the judicial reform vote.” [TheHill]
🏫 Campus Beat: In National Geographic, Erin Blakemore explores the history of antisemitism in U.S college admissions processes. “Institutions historically tolerated some Jewish students, but only those whom officials felt had the proper class standing and had appropriately ‘assimilated’ into mainstream American culture. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, newer arrivals from majority Jewish enclaves didn’t fit that mold, so elite Protestants attempted to close ranks. University officials who bought into longstanding stereotypes of Jews as clannish, conniving, and socially undesirable worried that admitting Jews would taint the reputation of the schools. Plus, they disliked the idea of their sons being educated alongside them. No longer was mere money sufficient for acceptance into elite social circles. As historian John Higham writes, Protestant elites of the era ‘grasped at social distinctions that were more than pecuniary,’ including ‘the cult of genealogy.’ Suddenly, institutions including social clubs, sports organizations, prep schools, and even neighborhoods emphasized family connections as part of the price of entry — shutting Jews out by default.” [NatGeo]
🇮🇱 History Lesson: In The Atlantic, Matti Friedman reflects on the transformation he has observed in Israel in the months since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took power. “The Israeli breakdown of 2023 has thrown into sharp relief the country’s submerged assumptions and blind spots, as well as my own. The state of Israel was declared in a rush on May 14, 1948, amid an attack by the combined forces of the Arab world. The declaration of independence in Tel Aviv that day promised a constitution ‘no later than the 1st of October,’ but we never got around to it. Instead, we’ve relied on stop-gap measures, political deals that seemed logical at the time, and an unwritten idea of the way things are done. Israel was held together less by law than by custom. Like many Israelis, I sensed this without grasping the risk. These customs were almost invisible when they were in effect. They’re possible to see clearly now because they’re gone. It was customary, for example, for a prime minister to resign if facing prosecution. It was customary not to put criminals in charge of law enforcement. It was customary to respect civil servants, to listen to the soldiers and spies who keep Israelis safe in a dangerous region, and never to politicize the judiciary. The last norm, discarded along with the rest by the current government, is at the heart of our troubles.” [TheAtlantic]
⚖️ Judicial Reform’s Guru: The New York Times‘ Patrick Kingsley spotlights Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin, a key player in the government’s efforts to move forward with judicial reforms. “As a secular Jew, his animus differs from that of ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, who resent the court for opposing the financial subsidies and exemptions from military service that some governments have awarded their community. Mr. Levin is a hard-line nationalist who opposes Palestinian statehood, and he has condemned the court for making it easier for Arab families to move to Jewish neighborhoods within Israel; for evicting Israelis from some Jewish settlements in the occupied territories; and for allowing Palestinians to use a major highway in the West Bank that was previously only open to Israeli citizens. The court seeks to build an Israel that is ‘no longer a Jewish state under whose aegis a democratic life is lived, but rather a democratic state in which, insofar as is possible, a Jewish life is also lived,’ Mr. Levin said in his first speech to Parliament.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🙁 McConnell’s Malaise: Former President Donald Trump said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) health issues were “sad” and suggested that Senate Republicans “have to have” a new leader.
🗳️ New Numbers: A new New York Times/Siena College poll has Trump leading the Republican pack, with 54% of respondents saying they would vote for him in the primary; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis trails with 17%, while all other candidates come in at 3% or less.
🇺🇸🇮🇱 Legislative Cousins: Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN) was named chairman of the House-Knesset Parliamentary Friendship Group.
👀 Looking Toward Richmond: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) is mounting a bid for governor of Virginia in 2025.
🇱🇧 Hezbollah and the Hill: Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) introduced legislation requesting that the administration report on the extent of Hezbollah’s and Iran’s influence within Lebanon, among other issues.
🚫 Bipartisan Efforts: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced a Senate companion bill to the MAHSA Act, which targets Iranian leadership with additional sanctions. In the House, 39 members — 27 Republicans and 12 Democrats — introduced a resolution condemning Iranian human rights abuses, particularly a 1988 massacre of dissidents.
🗞️ Sherman’s Sign-off: The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian, who was imprisoned in Iran for a year and a half, interviewed outgoing Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman about the future of diplomacy and the challenges facing the U.S. diplomatic corps.
📲 X and Y[e]: Artist Ye, previously known as as Kanye West, had his account reinstated on X, formerly known as Twitter, after his account was suspended last year. Meanwhile, Adidas announced another release of existing Yeezy sneakers, while donating a portion of the proceeds to groups fighting antisemitism, after the company ditched its partnership with Ye.
🕵️ Spy Saga: The New York Times looks at how the FBI came to obtain the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
👔 Sequel: Former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs are rejoining the company to advise Disney CEO Bob Iger.
👨 Drahi’s Deputy: The Financial Times spotlights Altice executive Armando Pereira, considered the right-hand man to the company’s founder, Israeli-French businessman Patrick Drahi.
🍽️ Food for Thought: New York magazine visits Ori Kushnir and Sivan Lahat’s new restaurant Foxface Natural, located in the East Village.
💰Money Maker: Danielle Cohen-Shohet’s GlossGenius raised $28 million in a Series C funding round.
🏙️ On the Market: The Manhattan co-op owned by Kleinfeld Bridal owners Jack Schachter and Hedda Kleinfeld Schachter, who died in 2008 and earlier this year, respectively, was listed for $6.95 million.
🧱 Another Brick in the Wall: The Pensacola, Fla., Chabad Jewish Center will use a brick that was thrown through a window in the building earlier this month as the cornerstone of the center’s planned expansion.
🇬🇧Across the Pond: The Jewish Museum of London shuttered its doors after 13 years, citing rising costs and a decline in donations and foot traffic.
😔 Winton’s Regret: The host of a British television program on which stockbroker Nicholas Winton was famously reunited with Jews he’d saved decades earlier during the Holocaust said Winton lived with guilt over not being able to rescue more children.
🕵️♂️ Search for Answers: In Australia’s The Age, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor attempts to uncover information about his great-grandmother and great-aunt, who were not heard from again after 1940.
🇸🇪 Swedish Steps: Sweden has bolstered security measures in the face of the threat of terror attacks amid backlash over the desecration of the Quran.
🛫 Escape Plans: The New York Times interviews Israelis who are planning to leave the country in reaction to steps taken by the right-wing Israeli government.
🇮🇱 A Look Inside: Yossi Klein Halevi does a deep dive into Israel’s protest movement, the driving forces behind the government’s judicial reform efforts and the Israeli psyche over the seven-month-long domestic debate.
🚆 Train Talk: Israel plans to build a $27 billion railway expansion from Tel Aviv that could provide overland links to Saudi Arabia in the future.
🇮🇷 Tehran Crackdown: Iranian officials are resuming their crackdown on women who refuse to follow the country’s stringent modesty laws.
Pic of the Day
From left: Harvard University historian Henry Louis Gates, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, journalist Joy Taylor, Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft and rapper and activist Meek Mill after a panel at NAACP’s national convention last night in Boston.
Gates told attendees that he is working on a new documentary series for PBS about Black-Jewish cooperation throughout American history, which he said is meant to show “that we need to reforge our alliance to protect our communities from the white supremacists that are coming after both of us.” Read more in eJewishPhilanthropy.
Author, actor and comedian, Benjamin Joseph (BJ) Novak turns 44…
Film producer, Stanley Richard Jaffe turns 83… British judge and barrister, he served as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, John Anthony Dyson turns 80… Actress, who went on to become CEO of Paramount Pictures and president of production at 20th Century Fox, Sherry Lansing turns 79… Nobel laureate in Economics in 1997, longtime professor at both Harvard and MIT, Robert C. Merton turns 79… Scholar, professor, rabbi, writer and filmmaker, Michael Berenbaum turns 78… Founder of Apollo Global Management, backer of the Jewish Lives series at Yale University Press, Leon David Black turns 72… Author of 36 best-selling mystery novels, Faye Kellerman turns 71… Software entrepreneur, he is president of Ameinu and serves on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, Kenneth Bob… Manhattan-based criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, Ronald L. Kuby turns 67… Owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, he has been a “shark” investor on the ABC reality program “Shark Tank” since 2011, Mark Cuban turns 65… CEO at Leenie Productions, she serves on the board of the Northbrook, Ill.-based Haym Salomon Center, Helene Miller-Walsh turns 64… Israeli libertarian politician and activist, previously a member of the Knesset, Moshe Zalman Feiglin turns 61… Professor at USC, UC Berkeley and Pepperdine, Dan Schnur… Born in Nazareth, investor and owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores turns 59… President at Old Town Construction LLC, Jared Spahn… Manager of MLB’s San Francisco Giants, he was an MLB outfielder for 13 seasons, the first player known as the “Hebrew Hammer,” Gabe Kapler turns 48… Founder and creative director at Wide Eye Creative, Ben Ostrower… Founder and president of Stand Up America, also the president of Hudson River Ventures, Sean Simcha Eldridge turns 37… Director of global communications at Zipline, Danielle Meister… Director of sales operations at Ayyeka Technologies, Aryeh Samet Canter… Member of Sinai Temple’s Board of Directors in Los Angeles, Rebecca Kekst… Adam Rosenberg… David Goldenberg… Richard Rosenstein…