👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we interview Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is mounting a bid for Senate, and report on concerns from GOP House leaders about a potential secret nuclear understanding with Iran. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Chris Christie, Adam Frisch and Tim Lenderking.
One word sums up Eric Adams’ time in Israel this week: hustle. And not just because the New York City mayor was photographed wearing a bracelet with the word during his visit on Tuesday to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Within hours of touching down at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, Adams met with faith leaders in Jerusalem, followed by a sit-down with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon.
Adams’ Tuesday schedule was no less packed: He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, in addition to making his second trip to Yad Vashem. In a conversation facilitated by Cohen at the Foreign Ministry, Adams met with Yisrael Gantz, the head of the Binyamin Regional Council in the West Bank. Earlier in the day, Adams met with Reichman University professor Karine Nahon and tech investor Gigi Levy-Weiss, who have both been vocal against the Netanyahu government’s proposed judicial reforms.
Speaking to reporters last night, Adams said the topic of judicial reform came up in his conversations. “I listened, I didn’t weigh in,” he clarified. “I think the people of Israel will determine their destiny. I thought it was important for me to meet both sides here because I know that when I return to the city…some of my Jewish constituents will ask me questions and I want to be able to share what my conversations were.”
“I have many challenges in my city and I wouldn’t want someone to come in and interfere with how I work them out,” Adams added.
From the anti-judicial reform activists, Adams said, he “heard from them that the proposed changes will have a major impact on their democracy. And I heard from the prime minister [that] the proposed changes will have a major step forward, all toward democracy. And so it just clearly shows that there are two different stances here and the only way you could come to a conclusion is again to allow the people [of] that country to make the determination.”
Adams also addressed the need to combat antisemitism in New York amid a recent uptick in religiously motivated crimes. He told reporters he gave the authorization to the city’s police commissioner and hate crimes unit to “vigorously investigate and arrest those who carry out antisemitic acts,” adding that he believes “that all prosecutors should have a zero-tolerance, no plea bargain-rule for anyone that commits a hate crime in general, specifically, a crime of antisemitism.”
Earlier today, Adams, joined by New York City’s first deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner, toured Israel’s National Police Academy and held meetings focused on technology and the public sector. He’s meeting this afternoon with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, before attending a reception tonight with Israeli business leaders in Tel Aviv. After a brief meeting tonight with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Adams will lay a wreath at the site where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. No word yet on whether Tel Aviv City Hall will be lit up with an apple to welcome Adams to the city.
Tonight in Milwaukee, eight Republicans will take the stage for the GOP’s first presidential debate of the 2024 cycle. Absent from tonight’s debate, which kicks off at 9 p.m. ET, is former President Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner. JI Editor-in-Chief Josh Kraushaar is on the ground for the debate at the Fiserv Forum, and will be offering post-debate analysis in tomorrow’s newsletter.
In Ohio, Frank LaRose looks for his lane
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose entered the race for Senate last month with an enviable profile as a pragmatic conservative with a record of winning statewide races and boasting an early polling lead over his GOP primary rivals. LaRose’s military service also distinguishes him in a field that includes two wealthy businessmen vying to take on Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). But as he has attempted to stake out some middle ground while facing opponents representing both the pro-Trump and Trump-critical sides of the GOP, he increasingly finds himself without a clear political identity, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Talking Trump: While LaRose has privately raised doubts that Trump’s endorsement still “matters” to most Republican voters, according to leaked audio obtained by Politico, he stressed to JI that he “would love to have” the former president’s backing, which could be decisive in a state Trump won by eight points in 2020. His hope for the nod “doesn’t mean we agree on everything,” LaRose said. “He’s got a style all his own. Some people like it, others find it not ideal,” LaRose said diplomatically of Trump, whose third presidential campaign he himself endorsed last month. “I tend to have a more Midwestern approach to things in the way that I interact with people — maybe a little bit less abrasive. But he’s also been very successful in life by being tough.”
Primary prowess: While he characterized himself as “the Goliath in polling,” LaRose suggested that he is “the David when it comes to personal wealth,” a reference to his primary rivals, who can self-fund their campaigns. The bigger challenge for LaRose is whether he can deftly straddle the position he occupies between his opponents’ differing approaches to Trump. Bernie Moreno, a Cleveland entrepreneur who has a warm relationship with the former president after refashioning himself as a MAGA hardliner who refuses to acknowledge that Trump lost the election and downplays the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. A third candidate, Matt Dolan, a Republican state senator whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, has said he is uninterested in Trump’s endorsement.
Going global: “If we’re not engaging with the rest of the planet, we’re doing America a disservice — and we’ve seen this in the last century to tragic effect, specifically for the Jewish community,” LaRose said. “When you appease and ignore a threat, it gets worse — it doesn’t get better.” Embracing a global leadership role “is essential for America’s safety and also for stability around the world,” LaRose averred. “I’m one who believes that you make an analysis of, ‘Is this in the best interest of the people of the United States?’ And if it is, then you engage in a smart and aggressive way to advance that interest. That means in Ukraine, that means as it relates to making sure that the Iranians do not acquire nuclear weapons — and in supporting one of our best allies in the world, the State of Israel.”
on the hill
GOP House leaders accuse Biden of secret Iran nuclear ‘understanding’
House Republican leaders wrote to President Joe Biden on Monday accusing the administration of reaching a secret nuclear “understanding” with Iran in violation of U.S. law and threatening to “use all tools at our disposal” to impose a maximum pressure policy toward Iran, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Significant concern: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) penned a letter expressing “significant concern that your Administration is pursuing a nuclear understanding with Iran alongside a hostage release deal.”
Tea leaves: They said that recent steps by Iran to slow enrichment and dilute some of its stockpiled uranium indicate that the administration had secured an “understanding” on Iran’s nuclear program “inextricably linked” to the recent deal to release U.S. hostages in exchange for $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds. The lawmakers said such a deal would be “a clear violation” of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which provides for congressional review of any agreement pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program.
Quotable: “Our citizens deserve answers about why your Administration is rewarding an Iranian regime that is targeting Americans overseas and at home,” the lawmakers wrote. “Should the Administration continue to ignore U.S. law and flout congressional oversight, we will use all the tools at our disposal to bring transparency and accountability to the American people and return to a policy of maximum pressure.”
JFNA mission visits inside war-torn Ukraine
Eric Fingerhut was prepared to go into a war zone. Still, waking up to air raid sirens at 4 a.m. and spending the next several hours hunkered down in a bomb shelter came as a surprise to the Jewish Federations of North America chief executive. Fingerhut, along with 11 other participants, spent four days last week on a JFNA-led mission to war-torn Ukraine, the first Jewish-sponsored visit inside the country since Russia’s invasion 18 months ago. “We went to bed in Lviv on Monday night and our security folks warned [us] to keep passports and clothes by our bed,” Fingerhut told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen. “None of us thought [rocket attacks] were likely to happen [in western Ukraine]. Sure enough, in the middle of the night, sirens went off and we were taken to bomb shelters. Three people were killed, buildings were destroyed. The next morning we talked to Ukrainians about that experience and they shared that this is their life; they are constantly in fear.”
Lasting impact: The toll of the war on Ukraine’s economy was also apparent, Fingerhut added. “So much of the Ukrainian Jewish community was operating on local philanthropy, which has dried up, and therefore day-to-day Jewish life is a struggle,” he said. “Many of these communities have an influx of people, partly because of the internal refugee situation, people who fled from east to west and also some people may not have been connected to the Jewish community but now feel it important to be attached to a community in wartime.”
🎤 Christie’s Comeback?: Politico’s Michael Kruse profiles Chris Christie as the former New Jersey governor, once a backer of former President Donald Trump, makes his own play for the White House as he argues against Trump’s candidacy. “Christie’s current presidential bid is the most interesting candidacy in the Republican primary, and the most important. Not because he’s polling near the top of the lot. He’s not. If the contest, though, at this point is Trump and everybody else, and the nominee somehow ultimately comes from that batch of others, there’s nobody else in that everybody else remotely like Christopher James Christie. The about-to-turn-61-year-old former governor of New Jersey was Trump before Trump — charismatic, combative, politically incorrect — and he was, for that matter, Ron DeSantis before Ron DeSantis — winning reelection in a landslide not just in an erstwhile swing state but in an outright blue state. And now he’s an ex-prosecutor prosecuting a case, and it’s a case that makes so much sense it sometimes can beggar belief that he’s the only one in the field who’s qualified for the first two debates who’s so vociferously making it. The case? Maybe it’s not a great idea to once again back a man who had four years already as president and failed at least as much as he didn’t and lost in 2020 and contributed to GOP losses in 2018 and 2022 and has been indicted four times in the last four months and therefore might spend as much time next year in a courtroom as on the campaign trail.” [Politico]
👨 The Making of Icahn:The New York Times’ Maureen Farrell spotlights activist investor Carl Icahn, following the May publication of a report that questioned Icahn Enterprises’ operations, leading the company to slash its dividends. “A night owl who plays tennis almost every day, Mr. Icahn said he usually rises before the stock market opens but is known to work past midnight. Employees are known to keep notebooks next to their night stands in case their boss calls after they fall asleep, although Mr. Icahn said he rarely called employees after midnight. Friends and associates of Mr. Icahn said he bets on everything from poker games to chess matches. Once, when he was in Las Vegas, he even bet a million dollars that the San Francisco 49ers would win the Super Bowl. (They won, netting him a few hundred thousand dollars.) But it’s the high-stakes betting on companies — and the chance to influence their future — that he finds thrilling, they said.” [NYTimes]
🌍 Power Players: The Financial Times’ Andrew England looks at how the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the latter of which recently hosted a 42-country summit to discuss Ukraine, are positioning themselves as global leaders. “By the talks’ end, there were few discernible developments beyond China hinting that it may be willing to take part in future discussions. But for Prince Mohammed the two-day gathering was an undoubted success. It gave the young Saudi royal the perfect stage to project his worldview — one that envisages the kingdom as a rising power whose influence stretches from east to west. It is a mindset that reflects the lofty ambitions and soaring confidence of oil-rich Gulf states — buoyed by petrodollar windfalls after last year’s surge in energy prices — that are determined to chart their own courses in an era of polarising, shifting global dynamics. At the forefront are the Gulf’s two powerhouses: Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, and the United Arab Emirates, the region’s dominant trade hub, both of whose focus has been increasingly turning eastwards. Where others view the shifting global currents through the lens of risk, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi see opportunities as they leverage their financial muscle and abundant oil resources to strategically hedge against their traditional relations with the west.” [FT]
Around the Web
👍 Routine Practice: A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said the legislator plans to back incumbent Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), citing Jeffries’ “practice of supporting the reelection of every single House Democratic incumbent, from the most progressive to the most centrist, and all points in between.”
💻 Ad Buy: Omar is running ads on X, formerly known as Twitter, calling AIPAC’s super PAC a “right-wing” group “funded by millions of dollars in Dark Money.”
🗳️ Beating Boebert: A new poll surveying Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District found former Aspen City Councilmember Adam Frisch leading Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) by two points, but still falling within the margin of error.
✍️ Call to Congress: Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote to Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last week asking them to hold a public hearing on a spate of recent bomb threats targeting synagogues and other Jewish institutions, allegedly orchestrated by online trolls. He also called for legislative action to address the threat.
👃 No Nose Drama: The American Jewish Committee and ADL pushed back against criticism of actor Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Leonard Bernstein in an upcoming biopic; Cooper’s costume, which included a prosthetic nose, was derided by some as antisemitic.
⚖️ In the Courts: Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action, activist Edward Blum filed suits against law firms Morrison & Foerster and Perkins Coie over their diversity fellowships.
🧠 Next Step: A Tennessee judge ordered a mental examination for the man accused of firing a gun on the campus of a Memphis Jewish day school last month.
🕵️ Trouble in Georgia: Officials in Marietta, Ga., are investigating the recent distribution of antisemitic fliers about Leo Frank, days after the 95th anniversary of the Jewish man’s lynching at the hands of an antisemitic mob.
🚓 Apprehended: Police in Fairfax, Va., arrested a teenager accused of posting antisemitic fliers in a heavily Jewish neighborhood; the teen was apprehended at a Target while shoplifting supplies to post more fliers.
🗓️ Coming Soon: Michael Wolff’s The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty will be released Sept. 26.
📕 Life in Review: The Wall Street Journal reviewsThe Adventures of a Book Baron, a biography of Baron George Weidenfeld, who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria, served as an advisor to Israeli President Chaim Weizmann and became one of the U.K.’s publishing giants.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: Researchers at the U.K.’s York University discovered documents indicating that Jewish life in the city reemerged decades after a pogrom that wiped out York’s Jewish community.
🛎️ Haute Hotel: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are staying at the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem this week while their apartment undergoes renovations.
🇾🇪 Lenderking’s Message: On a trip to the Gulf, Special Envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking called on Houthi rebels in Yemen to “seize the opportunity” to reach a peace agreement.
🛰️ Drone Drop: Iran unveiled a new drone, similar to the U.S.’ MQ-9 Reaper, which defense ministry officials claimed has the ability to stay in the air for 24 hours and which is within striking distance of Israel.
💼 Transition: Chicago attorney Edward “Ed” Siskel, who served as deputy counsel in the Obama administration before working under Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was appointed White House counsel, replacing Stuart Delery.
Pic of the Day
New York City Mayor Eric Adams meets with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, and Mordechai Eliav, the director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, on Tuesday in Jerusalem.
Former MLB player, he was the first designated hitter in MLB history in 1973 and was the manager of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox in the Israel Baseball League, Ron Blomberg turns 75… Professor emeritus at MIT and 1987 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, four of his Ph.D. students have also won Nobel Prizes, Robert Solow turns 99… Businesswoman who co-founded The Gap clothing stores, Doris Lee Feigenbaum Fisher turns 92… Owner of many car dealerships, art collector and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Norman Braman turns 91… Owner of Paper Capers, a custom invitation and gift store located in Livingston, N.J., Leslie Haupt Mayesh… History professor at Hebrew University specializing in pre-modern Islamic civilization, Reuven Amitai-Preiss turns 68… Astronaut, medical doctor and electrical engineer, he brought a dreidel, a yad (a Torah pointer) and a small menorah into space, David Alexander Wolf turns 67… Retired SVP and general counsel of Eastern Savings Bank in Hunt Valley, Md., Richard Zeskind… Former member of Knesset for 23 years representing the Labor party and Zionist Union party, Eitan Cabel turns 64… Owner of A&A Wholesale, Bracha (Benita Amedeo) Radin… First Iranian-American member of the New York State Senate, her term ended in 2022, Anna Kaplan turns 58… CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, Marc Swatez… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2019 (D-WA), she served as a physician prior to entering politics, Kimberly Merle Schrier turns 55… Founder and CEO of Wonga, a British financial technology company, Errol Damelin turns 54… ESPN’s and ABC’s sportswriter, reporter and author, Jeremy Schaap turns 54… Teacher at Politz Hebrew Academy in Philadelphia, known by his students as “Rabbi Science,” Rabbi Josh Kohl… Former NBA head coach (Pistons and Nets), now president of basketball operations for the LA Clippers, Lawrence Frank turns 53… National reporter for ProPublica, Craig Silverman turns 46… Israeli supermodel, born in Haifa, Mor Katzir turns 43… Senior manager in the hospital and healthcare practice of Accenture, Avigail Goldgraber… Senior advisor for policy and White House director of speechwriting during the Trump administration, Stephen Miller turns 38… Actor best known for his role as Alex in the television series “Timeblazers,” Stephen Joffe turns 32… Retired ice dancer who competed for Georgia, Lithuania and Israel, Isabella Tobias turns 32…