👋 Good Wednesday morning!
Ed. Note: We will not be publishing tomorrow in observance of the fast of Tisha B’Av, which begins this evening. The next Daily Kickoff will arrive on Friday.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on Rep. Kathy Manning’s comments on Israel’s recently passed judicial reform legislation, and interview Aaron Regunberg, a progressive activist and frontrunner in the upcoming special election to succeed Rep. David Cicilline in Rhode Island – who is also the nephew of Rep. Brad Schneider. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Goli Ameri, Bret Stephens and Natan Sachs.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will meet today for a markup including two bills on Iran sanctions. One of the pieces of legislation, the Fight CRIME Act, aims to head off the expiration of United Nations sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone programs later this year by imposing additional sanctions on Iran and those assisting its program. The bill also demands a strategy to prevent the expiration of U.N. sanctions and to maintain pressure absent the renewal of those sanctions.
The bill, which has the support of 79 Republican and 70 Democratic co-sponsors, including the chair and ranking member of HFAC, will likely pass with strong bipartisan support.
The other piece of legislation, the Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act, would require a formal congressional review process before the administration can repeal any sanction on Iran, giving Congress the opportunity to vote to prevent such sanctions relief.
The legislation is currently sponsored by only Republicans, but, given the presence of some Democratic lawmakers on the panel skeptical of the administration’s diplomatic approach to Iran, the bill could win bipartisan support.
HFAC members are also slated to receive a State Department briefing this week about the probe into Iran envoy Rob Malley’s handling of classified materials, a month after he was suspended from the role without pay.
on the hill
Manning expresses ‘concerns’ about judicial reform, Israeli government action in West Bank
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a stalwart defender of Israel in Congress and a former senior official in the Jewish communal world, said on Tuesday that she is worried about the judicial overhaul legislation passed in Israel on Monday and cautioned that the “far-right” Israeli government is undermining prospects for an eventual two-state solution, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Airing concern: “I have had discussions with some of my colleagues, and there is concern,” Manning said during a virtual event with the Jewish Federations of North America. “It’s important for any of these kinds of changes to be built on consensus and on compromise,” she continued, a sentiment she said was shared by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, President Joe Biden and fellow members of Congress.
Action plan: Manning said that she has not yet had a chance to connect with many fellow lawmakers since the legislation passed, but that she and her colleagues plan to discuss “trying to encourage” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to take a pause, to try to build more consensus before things move forward” any further.
Meanwhile in Israel: The law passed on Monday, which strips the Supreme Court of its authority to overturn legislation it deems to be “unreasonable,” went into effect this morning.
U.S. partisanship is killing opportunities for progress on Iran policy, former U.S. diplomat says
Goli Ameri, a former assistant secretary of state who grew up in Tehran, argued in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod during the Aspen Security Forum last week that partisanship in the U.S. is the major impediment to any substantial progress on Iran policy that could truly help the Iranian people.
Core issue: “One congressional staffer said it to me so well: Iran policy is all about virtue signaling. Iran policy is domestic policy, it’s not foreign policy,” she said. “If you’re a Republican, you need to be a hawk on Iran. And if you’re a Democrat, you need to be all about making nice-nice and negotiations. There’s never been a happy medium. Of course, the people who advise Republican or Democrat administrations are either hawks, or they’re complete peacemakers.”
All of the above: She argued that neither position is conducive to an effective Iran policy, which requires coming together and utilizing “all tools of foreign policy,” including diplomacy backed by strict enforcement of Iran sanctions, which she argued has not been forthcoming under this administration. She also criticized China and Gulf countries for cozying up to Iran, undermining sanctions.
rhode island race
Progressive activist emerges as frontrunner in open Rhode Island House race
Progressive activist Aaron Regunberg, 33, is running to represent Rhode Island in Congress. He is the nephew of Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), but their approaches to politics — and Israel — differ. In an interview with Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch on Monday, Regunberg spoke about his campaign, his family, his stance on the Jewish state and the far-right legislators he loathes.
Family in politics: “He’s also someone that I am often leaning on for expertise and thoughts,” Regunberg told JI, when asked about his connection to Schneider. The Illinois legislator has not endorsed Regunberg’s campaign, and Schneider’s spokesperson declined to comment on the race.
Space between them: That the two related politicians — 1,000 miles and a generation apart — appear to be publicly keeping a degree of separation between themselves exemplifies the different wings of the Democratic Party with which they each identify. Regunberg, a recent Harvard Law School graduate and former state representative who in 2019 was arrested while protesting former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, has sought to shore up support from the activist wing of the party ahead of the Sept. 5 Democratic primary. On Tuesday he earned the endorsement of the political action committee affiliated with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). Meanwhile, the AIPAC-endorsed Schneider has clashed with the powerful CPC on matters related to Israel and antisemitism.
city hall overhaul
Bloomberg Philanthropies looks to make Israeli local government more innovative
Dozens of mayors and municipal employees from cities across Israel gathered in Jaffa on Tuesday to share challenges, swap tips and brainstorm solutions to shared problems as part of an initiative backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The conference, known as Hazira, or “the scene,” was held at the Peres Center for Peace, a partner in the project, with support from Israel’s Interior Ministry, which is responsible for municipal affairs. James Anderson, the head of government innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, sat down with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross to discuss the Hazira program and how Bloomberg Philanthropies sees the role of philanthropy in the development of cities.
Hive mind: “So for the last 12 years, we’ve built a series of programs,” Anderson said. “We focus on four key things: one, creating great leaders in local government; two, strengthening the engines of local government by increasing their innovation and their data capabilities by helping them adopt and use 21st-century problem-solving tools; three, spreading ideas. If you sit around a group of mayors for long enough, you’ll hear that they all have slightly different versions of the same problem. And Mike [Bloomberg] believes very strongly that if one mayor figures something out, they should share it. And then four, we do large-scale global innovation competitions for local governments to encourage radical policy, ambitious policy innovation.”
⚖️ Power Play:The New York Times’ Bret Stephens considers what the recent passage of the “reasonableness” law — and the debate within Israel over the issues — portends for the future of the Jewish state. “The crisis in Israel is sometimes described as a battle of left against right, secular against religious, Ashkenazi against Mizrahi Jews. This is a vast overgeneralization: Netanyahu is a scion of the secular Ashkenazi elites, while many in the opposition, like former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, are religiously observant and right-wing. What is true is that the new dividing line in Israel, as in so many other democracies, is no longer between liberals and conservatives. It’s between liberals and illiberals. It’s between those who believe that democracy encompasses a set of norms, values and habits that respect and enforce sharp limits on power and those who will use their majorities to do whatever they please in matters of politics so that they may eventually do whatever they please in matters of law.” [NYTimes]
🇮🇱 Breaking Point: In The Atlantic, the Brookings Institution’s Natan Sachs observes the differences between majoritarianism and democracy amid efforts by the Israeli government to move forward with judicial reform legislation. “More broadly, many in Israel sense a breakdown of the social contract. If Israel is not fully democratic, then the state — which holds together a remarkably diverse Jewish population — can come undone. For Israel’s Arab citizens, the struggle to find their place in Israeli society has been all the more difficult, but their economic, social, and political gains in recent years are also threatened as judicial limits to the rule of a political majority that usually excludes them are removed. [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu supporters also sense a crisis. They see the breadth and strength of the protests against the reforms, and the refusal of reservists to volunteer, as efforts to subvert majority rule. They won the last election, they feel, and now the opposition is using extra-electoral means to prevent their preferred policies from being enacted. At their own protests, they have embraced the slogan ‘Second-class citizen,’ a complaint that their votes count for less and their electoral mandates are regarded as illegitimate. Netanyahu supporters, on average, come from lower socioeconomic strata of society, and feel that established elites are fighting to retain their hold on the country in the face of demographic trends that favor Netanyahu’s coalition.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
➡️ Finer Things: Jon Finer, who had been a top candidate to succeed Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state following her retirement this week, will continue in his role as deputy national security adviser in the National Security Council, following a conversation this week with President Joe Biden.
📝 Censuring Gosar: House Democrats are working on a resolution to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), days after the Arizona Republican sent a newsletter linking to a website that had previously posted Holocaust denial content.
📦 The ‘Leaner’ Part: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis let go one-third of his presidential campaign staff, amid a broader reshuffling owing in part to heavy spending. Among those let go this week was Nate Hochman, a staffer who made a pro-DeSantis video featuring a Nazi symbol.
🥧 Beignets and Ballots: Former President Donald Trump made a stop at the kosher Café du Monde in New Orleans ahead of a fundraising event.
🇮🇱 Going Home: Trump will return ancient coins and ceramic lamps to Israel following a Wall Street Journal report that found that the antiquities had been stored at Mar-a-Lago after Trump received them as a gift during a Hanukkah party during his term.
🪖 Injured in Ukraine: A former U.S. Marine who was released by Russia in an April 2022 prisoner swap after being held for three years was injured fighting in Ukraine.
👪 Family Matters: The Washington Postinterviews former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and her son, Rodrigo, who is transgender, about the former congresswoman’s efforts to move the needle among her former GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill on issues related to the transgender community.
💬 Callous Comparison: The White House and the Auschwitz Memorial separately denounced comments made on air by Fox News host Greg Gutfeld, in which he suggested that Jews imprisoned in concentration camps survived the Holocaust by being “useful.” Gutfeld’s comment came during a discussion of Florida’s new education standards, which teach that some Black people benefited from slavery.
🛰️ Drone-ing On: Defense Intelligence Agency analysts warned that Russia is, with the help of Iran, constructing a drone-manufacturing facility that will dramatically increase the number of drones in Moscow’s stockpile for use in its war against Ukraine.
🍕 Slice of Life: Slatespotlights Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who has reviewed more than 1,000 pizza joints in recent years for his social media followers.
🛍️ Brooklyn’s Back: ASG Equities, owned by the Gindi family, which opened Century 21’s now-shuttered flagship store in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood in 1961, is planning to transform the South Brooklyn site into an urban retail hub.
🧱 Another Brick in the Wall: Authorities in Pensacola, Fla., are investigating an incident that occurred this week in which a brick covered in swastikas was thrown through the window of a Chabad center in the Panhandle city.
🎓 Campus Beat: The University of Michigan president condemned recent antisemitic and homophobic graffiti that was painted on two fraternity houses near the Ann Arbor campus.
⛺ RFK Jr.’s Visit: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. visited the “Ohel” in Queens, 58 years after Robert F. Kennedy Sr.’s visit to the site where the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson and his father-in-law are buried. At a separate event last night hosted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the Democratic presidential candidate said he “should’ve been more careful,” with his comments regarding COVID-19 and race.
🇮🇱🇻🇳 Haifa to Hanoi: Israel and Vietnam inked a free-trade agreement that is expected to bring bilateral trade to $3 billion.
⬇️ Judicial Reform Fallout: Morgan Stanley downgraded Israel’s sovereign credit to “dislike stance” following the passage on Monday of one of the pieces of judicial reform legislation being pushed by the Israeli government.
⚖️ Penny For Your Thoughts: In an audio essay, The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman discusses how Israel’s newly passed judicial reform law could impact the U.S.-Israel relationship. Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief Steve Hendrix weighs in on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s role in his government’s judicial reform push.
🪙 Coined Words: A rare coin dating back two millennia and discovered in Israel’s Ein Gedi nature reserve was inscribed with text reading “The Holy Jerusalem” in ancient Hebrew.
Pic of the Day
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) (left) and Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, speak at an event at Queensborough Community College’s Kupferberg Holocaust Center in Queens, N.Y., to discuss increased attacks on the Jewish community both locally and globally.
Film and television director, she is best known for her work on the Showtime drama series “Homeland,” Lesli Linka Glatter turns 70…
Advertising and documentary photographer and documentary filmmaker, Elliott Erwitt turns 95… Retired member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes turns 95… Former mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman turns 84… Former administrator at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston, chancellor of the California State University system and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Barry Munitz turns 82… Journalist and author of nearly two dozen books, Paulette Cooper turns 81… Author, podcaster, columnist and rabbi, Shammai Engelmayer turns 78… Former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Richard Stark turns 71… President and chief medical officer at Laguna Health, Alan H. Spiro, MD, MBA… Sports columnist, author, television and radio personality, he works for ESPN’s Charlotte-based SEC Network, Paul Finebaum turns 67… Venture capitalist and brother-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, James W. Breyer turns 62… Actor, comedian and producer, Jeremy Samuel Piven turns 58… Former correspondent at ABC News for 23 years, now co-founder at Ten Percent Happier, Daniel B. “Dan” Harris turns 52… Founder and chairman of Stonington Global, Nicholas Muzin turns 48… U.S. senator (R-OK), Markwayne Mullin turns 46… Actress best known for her role in the “Spider-Man” trilogy, Mageina Tovah Begtrup turns 44… Managing partner of the D.C. office of ColdSpark, Nachama Soloveichik… Political correspondent at Israel’s Walla News, Tal Shalev… Israeli-born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman turns 41… Israeli-born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein turns 40… Manager of clinical communications at Henry Ford Health, Lauren Garfield-Herrin… Actress and filmmaker, Hallie Meyers-Shyer turns 36… Member of the comedy group “The Try Guys,” Zachary Andrew “Zach” Kornfeld turns 33… Analyst at Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Drew Gerber… Former running back for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Tarik Cohen turns 28… Pitcher on the Israeli Women’s National Softball Team, Tamara “T” Statman Schoen turns 26… President at B&B Digital Media, Tomer Barazani…