👋 Good Thursday morning!
Ed. note: The next Daily Kickoff will arrive Monday morning. Have a good weekend!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we spotlight Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, and interview the Jewish Chronicle’s David Rose on the podcast. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Gavin Newsom, Bella Abzug and Evan Gershkovich.
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: The race to save Mosul’s last synagogue; In 2022, AIPAC opposed Shri Thanedar. This month he went to Israel with the group; Egypt eyeing rapprochement with Iran amid Tehran’s warming ties with UAE, Saudi Arabia. Print the latest edition here.
We come to you today from Milwaukee, Wis., the morning after the GOP’s first presidential debate. Jewish Insider’s Editor-in-Chief Josh Kraushaar provides the following dispatch:
The biggest question entering the first GOP debate was whether an alternative to former President Donald Trump could plausibly emerge. Until now, a long list of candidates has been dividing the non-MAGA vote, handing Trump a commanding advantage in the race.
With about 40% of Republican voters solidly behind Trump, any GOP candidate faces a difficult chance of trying to consolidate the other Republicans willing to consider a fresh face.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, showcasing a command of foreign policy, polished debate skills and even a willingness to tweak Trump, emerged as a leading contender to fill the role of top Trump challenger after Wednesday’s debate at the Fiserv Forum.
Haley torched Vivek Ramaswamy over his desire to withdraw support from Ukraine by accusing him of supporting America’s enemies and threatening the global order. The former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor recounted Vladimir Putin’s brutal war crimes, telling Ramaswamy he supported a murderer over a pro-American ally.
“He wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel,” Haley said. “You don’t do that to friends. What you do instead is you have the backs of your friends.” It was a powerful rebuttal that articulately laid out the case for American engagement abroad.
She then went in for the kill: “You have no foreign policy experience and it shows,” she said to his face. While the crowd in the arena initially sounded like it favored Ramaswamy’s isolationism, Haley’s persuasion turned the tide.
Haley then made an impassioned defense for foreign aid to Israel, calling the Jewish state “the front line of defense against Iran.” “It’s not that Israel needs America, it’s that America needs Israel,” she said.
Ramaswamy responded by articulating his position on Israel: “Our relationship with Israel would never be stronger than by the end of my first term, but it’s not a client relationship, it’s a friendship and you know what friends do? Friends help each other stand on their own two feet,” Ramaswamy, who has faced criticism for his comments on curtailing aid to Israel, said. “I will lead Abraham Accords 2.0, I will partner with Israel to make sure Iran never is nuclear armed.” The entrepreneur continued: “You know what I love about them? I love their border policies, I love their tough-on-crime policies, I love that they have a national identity and an Iron Dome to protect their homeland, so yes I want to learn from the friends that we’re supporting.”
Haley, playing off the fact that she is the only woman in the race, invoked the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in making the case that “if you want something done, ask a woman.” Haley tweaked present and former members of Congress on stage for supporting major government spending under Republicans — criticizing Trump in the process.
And she made a credible case for pragmatism on abortion policy, sparring with Vice President Mike Pence over the need for a federal abortion ban (she was against it, saying it wasn’t realistic to get passed through Congress).
She also benefited from her leading rivals who struggled to stand out at the debate. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, once expected to be the center of attention, was overshadowed by Ramaswamy and mainly managed to invoke well-worn talking points about his record in Florida.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, whom Haley appointed to the Senate, was overshadowed by his rivals, as he avoided engaging in the numerous back-and-forth arguments throughout. It was a missed opportunity for a candidate needing to capitalize on his uptick in the polls.
Many of the party’s top donors, looking to move past Trump, have been hopelessly divided over whom to support. At Wednesday’s debate, Haley demonstrated she boasts the political and policy chops to fill the role — while still maintaining enviable favorability ratings across the party’s factions.
If there’s a market for a traditional Republican candidate — and that’s a big if, given the changing nature of the GOP — Haley could be the candidate to fill that bill.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green faces his biggest test
When a wildfire ignited on the Hawaiian island of Maui earlier this month, the state’s governor was thousands of miles away, at a family reunion in Massachusetts. Two days later, Gov. Josh Green was back in the Aloha State and standing in front of an object that was by then familiar to all Hawaiians: a whiteboard. Green, an emergency room physician who first moved to Hawaii after medical school to work in rural hospitals, stood next to that whiteboard nearly every day of the COVID-19 pandemic, when, as lieutenant governor, he oversaw the state’s response to the public health crisis. Now, the state’s response to the devastating fires in Maui presents an urgent leadership test for Green, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. Can Green — an outsider from the mainland who is now the face of the state’s politics, and one of the most popular governors in the nation — meet the moment?
Aloha State journey: At first glance, there’s no obvious throughline in Green’s journey from his hometown of Kingston, N.Y., to Washington Place, the governor’s residence in Honolulu. His family moved to Pittsburgh when he was young, and Green, who is Jewish, attended college at Swarthmore and medical school at Pennsylvania State University. He came to Hawaii’s Big Island in 2000 as a member of the National Health Service Corps and never left.
Hawaii represents: Green is not Hawaii’s first Jewish governor. That was Linda Lingle, a Republican, who served as governor from 2002 to 2010. One of the state’s two U.S. senators, Brian Schatz, is also Jewish. “I think everyone’s proud to have our second Jewish governor in a state [where] a lot of people have never met a Jew,” said Mimi Lind, executive director of Jewish Community Services of Hawaii.
west coast warning
Newsom urges Calif. educators teaching ethnic studies to avoid ‘bias, bigotry or discrimination’
Days into the new school year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office on Wednesday sent a letter to educators cautioning school administrators against using ethnic studies courses that promote bias and bigotry, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Pen pals:The letter came in response to a plea from three dozen California Jewish leaders, who wrote to Newsom in June calling on him to push back against what they deem as discriminatory content being taught in schools. The Jewish community advocates expressed concern that some school districts were approving the teaching of ethnic studies courses that promote anti-Israel ideals and espouse antisemitism.
Stick to the law: “We have been advised,” Brooks Allen, education policy advisor to Newsom and executive director of the California State Board of Education, wrote on Wednesday, “that some vendors are offering [ethnic studies] materials that may not meet the requirements” of the 2021 legislation. Administrators should “closely scrutinize” instructional materials for ethnic studies courses so that they “not reflect or promote, directly or indirectly, any bias, bigotry or discrimination.”
Long history: The letter follows a lengthy battle over a statewide ethnic studies curriculum for high school students, early drafts of which included praise for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and did not teach about antisemitism. When Newsom, a Democrat, signed legislation approving the ethnic studies requirement for high schoolers, the draft curriculum included in the bill had been shaped with heavy input from Jewish leaders in California.
‘Jewish Chronicle’ editor: ‘The Corbyn years have finally closed’
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s podcast, co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein are joined by journalist David Rose, the politics and investigations editor at the Jewish Chronicle in London, for a conversation on the U.K.’s legislative fight over BDS and the IRGC, antisemitism in England, the Labour party and Israel’s relationship with the U.K.
On Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party: “I think it’s fair to say that a very large proportion of people in the Jewish community who would normally have voted Labour did not do so in 2017 or 2019, because they could not countenance a government led by [Jeremy] Corbyn [the former Labour party leader accused of mishandling antisemitism allegations and creating a culture that tolerated antisemitism],” Rose said. “And indeed, you know, personally, I felt as a Jew a visceral fear of what they might do if they ever came to power. First of all, a lot of the people who were responsible for the driving of Labour down that terribly dangerous road have simply left the party. Labour party membership has shrunk by over a fifth, maybe a quarter by now, and the people who have left are the poisonous, antisemitic hard left….When Corbyn stood, nobody imagined he could win, and then of course he did…But I do think the Corbyn years have finally closed.”
Israeli-British relations: “In some ways, it’s never been closer,” Rose explained. “Negotiations for a very wide-ranging free trade deal between Britain and Israel are at an advanced age…There’s also a very close security relationship. I think the importance of Israel’s security and intelligence agencies, especially given the emerging threat from Iran, is widely appreciated and, again, it’s an extremely close relationship…I think the political chaos in Israel is starting to affect the relationship. And of course, you know, things like the boycotts by military reservists and so on, they make quite a big impact in the United Kingdom. So, you know, at one level, it’s a very good relationship, but I think it’s a relationship which could come under a lot of pressure in the near-to-medium term.”
Sandlers, simchas and sisterhood
Growing up can be an exciting, awkward and often incredibly trying time no matter who you are: puberty, first crushes and a lack of self-understanding all add to the journey that is adolescence. For Jewish children, that milestone comes with Torah portions and Bible study, deejay-prompted slow dances, Coke and Pepsi and plenty of drama — an experience director Sammi Cohen looked to capture with their new movie, “You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah,” which premieres Friday on Netflix. “When I first read the script, I was just like, ‘A bat mitzvah movie, finally!” like, ‘Finally, why has this taken so long?’” Cohen told Jewish Insider’s Tori Bergel. “What was fun is it felt so personal to being a Jewish kid and this very specific moment in life, but it also felt so universal.”
Background: The film centers around Stacy Friedman (played by Adam Sandler’s daughter, Sunny, in her first major starring role) and best friend Lydia Rodriguez Katz as they prepare for their upcoming bat mitzvahs; when jealousy and the affection of the middle school soccer star come between the two girls, their plans to have the best bat mitzvah parties of their class start to fall apart. “It’s a platonic love story between these two best friends, and I think the idea of friendship and forgiveness and learning about who you are is also so relevant to these relationships,” Cohen said. “Friends teach us who we are.”
Trend line: “You Are So Not Invited” is the latest in a series of movies to come out this summer featuring or inspired by Jewish individuals. Late April saw “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” a film based on the beloved novel of the same name by Jewish author Judy Blume, followed in July by two blockbusters — “Oppenheimer,” about the Jewish physicist behind the atomic bomb, and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” a film based on the wildly popular doll created by Jewish businesswoman Ruth Handler. On Friday, the same day “You Are So Not Invited” starts streaming on Netflix, director Guy Nattiv’s Golda Meir biopic hits theaters. “It’s kind of time,” Cohen said. “A lot of the movies about being Jewish I think, necessarily so, are about a really dark time in our history, and I think what’s really fun is I’m excited to make a movie that makes Jewish people feel seen and celebrated.”
🎙️ Wall-to-Wall Vivek: Politico’s Adam Wren travels to Upper Arlington, Ohio, to interview GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswany, who has steadily gained in the polls as part of an effort to garner earned media. “This relentlessly, frankly exhausting, all-out strategy of appearing on any and every media platform that will have him is how someone who has never run for office before is breaking through. That disembodied voice I heard as he came downstairs is how many people first encounter him. Tagging along with him as he voted on an Ohio ballot initiative later that day, I heard a man who described himself as one of Ramaswamy’s neighbors stop him after he gaggled with local press. ‘I’ve been listening to you on all the podcasts,’ the fan says. ‘It’s not really a strategy,’ Ramaswamy told me when I asked him about how he’s used media ubiquity to leap ahead of a former vice president and several former and current governors. ‘It’s just how I’m wired.’…For a go-everywhere, media blitz strategy to work, a candidate can’t just show up and talk, he or she has to say provocative or extreme things too. Otherwise, the interviews dry up and the bookers stop calling.” [Politico]
🟣 Stuck in the Middle: In the Liberal Patriot, Steven Cook explains how the Biden administration must navigate traditional Republican and Democratic positions in its approach to the Middle East. “This has produced an odd situation in which relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel as well as policies like pressuring Iran have become associated with Republicans while the JCPOA, improving relations with Iran, and addressing the Palestinian issue (if not support for the Palestinian cause itself) are identified with Democrats. Without a doubt, domestic politics and worldview have and always will influence the policies that elected leaders pursue, but for decades Washington’s approach to the Middle East was nevertheless often consistent from one administration to the other, allowing for modest differences in emphasis. Now, not only has the consensus around America’s traditional goals — ensuring the free flow of energy resources, supporting Israel, and preventing challenges to these interests — weakened, but there is very little room for deviation from closely held inside-the-Beltway orthodoxies. Woe betide the young foreign policy analyst who also happens to be a Democrat and who publicly levels even mild criticism of President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran! Similarly, there would likely be professional consequences for her Republican analogue who sees value in the JCPOA. Neither would likely be welcome among Washington’s tribal divisions which produce — to paraphrase from one of President Obama’s most stirring and famous lines — a Republican foreign policy and a Democratic foreign policy, but not an American foreign policy.” [LiberalPatriot]
🖼️ Family Feud: In The New York Times, Rachel Corbett does a deep dive into the financial and legal battles between members of the Wildenstein family following the 2001 death of art collector Daniel Wildenstein. “Over 150 years, the family has amassed an art collection estimated to be worth billions by quietly buying up troves of European masterpieces that would be at home in the Louvre or the Vatican, holding their stock for generations and never revealing what they own. When Sylvia realized the magnitude of her stepsons’ deception, she devoted the rest of her life to unraveling the family’s financial machinations, and even left a will asking that Dumont Beghi continue her fight from beyond the grave…. Now, more than a decade after Sylvia’s death, their efforts have landed the Wildensteins before France’s highest court. The evidence she and Dumont Beghi brought forth has persuaded prosecutors that the Wildensteins are a criminal enterprise, responsible for operating, as a prosecutor for the state once put it, ‘the longest and the most sophisticated tax fraud’ in modern French history. [NYTimes]
📺 Zaslav’s Play: The New Yorker’s Clare Malone spotlights Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav amid a broader debate over the future of the entertainment industry. “Zaslav rises at 4:45 a.m. to read the news, and then, when he’s in New York, walks a few miles through the city while making calls. One person sent me a photograph taken of Zaslav hustling up Madison Avenue, in jeans, a sports coat over a zip vest, and dark glasses, talking animatedly on his phone. Zaslav can call underlings as early as 6 a.m., New York time; the conversations often last no more than a minute or two, and sometimes end so abruptly that he doesn’t bother saying goodbye. ‘Everyone wakes up and they got e-mails from me,’ Zaslav once told CNBC. ‘Part of my job is to push everybody forward.’ He can be similarly bluff in meetings. One associate told me that he tends to deliver long monologues and ask questions without seeming intent on hearing the answer. Another associate read the phenomenon differently: ‘He can be multitasking and you think he’s not paying attention, but he is.’ Some colleagues called Zaslav a short-term thinker, who moves restlessly from idea to idea. His proponents see it differently. ‘Of all the C.E.O.s I’ve worked with over forty years, he’s probably the most hands-on,’ [media executive Kenneth] Lerer said. ‘He gets an idea and he just forces it until there’s a decision.’” [NewYorker]
Around the Web
✈️ Russian Report: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary Wagner Group whose father and stepfather were Jewish, was believed to be killed in a plane crash north of the Russian capital.
🗳️ Campaign Chatter: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) said he suggested that the Biden administration put members of “The Squad” at the forefront of his reelection campaign, but is “not optimistic at this moment” that his suggestion will be heeded.
⚖️ Detained Abroad: Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s detention in Russia has been extended by an additional three months.
🎥 Bella’s Legacy: The New York Timesreports on a spat between the daughter of activist and former member of Congress Bella Abzug and a documentarian whose film about Abzug premiered last week.
🎓 Campus Beat: Marc Lamont Hill, who has previously faced criticism for his comments about Israel and employing antisemitic tropes, is joining CUNY as a “presidential professor” for urban education at CUNY’s Graduate Center.
🎞️ Good as Golda: The Washington Post reviews “Golda,” Guy Nattiv’s biopic about the trailblazing Israeli prime minister.
🇽🇰 Paying Respect: Officials in Kosovo inaugurated a memorial honoring nearly two dozen Kosovo Albanians for their efforts to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.
👨🎤 Party Problems: The French Green party is facing criticism — and some boycotts — over the invitation of an antisemitic rapper to perform at the group’s summer convening.
🇳🇱 Dutch Discovery: Forensics experts in the Netherlands identified the remains of Jewish resistance fighter Bernard Luza, 80 years after he was executed by Nazis and buried near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
⌚ Gift Grift: Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is the subject of several investigations into gifts he received while in office — including a Rolex given to him by Saudi Arabia, which was then sold at a mall in Pennsylvania.
🇦🇺 Prison Time: An Australian judge sentenced former school principal Malka Leifer to 15 years in prison after a protracted legal effort by her former students who alleged Leifer had sexually abused them.
⛽ Gas Green Light: Israel signed off on the expansion of natural gas exports from the country’s Tamar reservoir to Egypt.
🌐 Global Gathering: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Argentina, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia were invited to join BRICS, an economic grouping that currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Pic of the Day
Israeli badminton players Misha Zilberman (left) and Svetlana Zilberman walk to the court before their Mixed Doubles Second Round match against a Chinese team at the BWF World Championships 2023 on Tuesday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Co-founder and president of Infinity Broadcasting, later the CEO of CBS and then CEO of Sirius Radio, Mel Karmazin turns 80…
Dean of the Yeshiva Gedola of Passaic, Rabbi Meir Stern turns 88… Rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University, he also teaches at Cardozo Law School and is the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Yehuda (The Yorkville Synagogue) in NYC, Rabbi J. David Bleich turns 87… Author, speaker, geriatric care manager and online counselor for seniors in Scottsdale, Ariz., Lois G. Tager… U.S. senator (D-WV), Joe Manchin turns 76… Celebrity furniture designer known for his eponymous furniture brand, Dakota Jackson, Inc., he was born in Rego Park, Queens, N.Y., as David Malon, Dakota Jackson turns 74… President of Harvard University until his retirement at the end of June, Lawrence Seldon Bacow turns 72… Rabbi of the Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, England, since 1980, Dr. Jonathan Romain turns 69… Senior counselor to the secretary of homeland security, Ricki Seidman turns 68… Former governor of Arkansas and twice a candidate for U.S. president, Mike Huckabee turns 68… Co-chair of the real estate practice and the infrastructure practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, he is the vice-chair of Birthright, J. Philip Rosen… Essayist and longtime staff writer for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik turns 67… Actor, producer and director, Steve Guttenberg turns 65… President of Pace University, Marvin Krislov turns 63… Professor of otolaryngology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Jonathan E. Aviv turns 63… President of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, Marc Terrill… Professional organizer, Donna Barwald… 1986 winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Children of a Lesser God,” she is the first deaf performer to have won the award, Marlee Matlin turns 58… President of MetalMart International, Inc, William Lippman turns 57… Founder and CEO of Gawker Media, Nick Denton turns 57… Former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Andrew Romanoff turns 57… President of the Jewish United Fund / Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Lonnie Nasatir… CNN political analyst, David Gregory turns 53… U.S. senator (R-IN), Todd Young turns 51… Israeli cinematographer and film and television director, Avigail Sperber turns 50… Director of content at the U.K.-based Brainstorm Digital, Miriam Shaviv turns 47… GM of MLB’s Texas Rangers until 2022, now a senior advisor for the Tampa Bay Rays, Jon Daniels turns 46… Founder and executive director of the bipartisan group New Politics, Emily Cherniack… Attorney who represents high-tech clients in cross-border intellectual property disputes, Michael M. Rosen… Israeli actress and musician, Meital Dohan turns 44… CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman turns 43… Head coach of the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team, Jon Scheyer turns 36… CEO of the JCommerce Group, David M. Perelman… Strategic communications executive at The Lede Company, Galia Slayen… Director of operations at Maree Pour Toi, Samantha Rose Feinstein… SVP at Edelman, Natalie Strom… Film and television actor, Griffin Gluck turns 23…