👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we interview former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on the trail in New Hampshire, and look at the early steps AIPAC is taking to recruit pro-Israel congressional candidates ahead of 2024. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Victoria Coates, Yuval Ben Neriah and Lily Ebert.
One of the biggest open questions in Republican politics is how far the party is moving away from its hawkish roots on foreign policy. It’s a debate playing out in the presidential primary — in an interview with Jewish Insider Editor-in-Chief Josh Kraushaar on Tuesday in New Hampshire, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley tried to placate both doves and hawks in the party — and in institutions across Washington. More below.
That the Heritage Foundation, a storied conservative think tank, just tapped former Trump administration official Victoria Coates to lead its foreign policy and national security center offers one clue as to the direction in which the party is moving. In May 2022, just three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Coates and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) argued against increasing American aid to Ukraine.
“I was one of the original heretics,” she told JI’s Gabby Deutch on Tuesday. But she would not call herself an isolationist — or an interventionist. “I reject the spectrum,” said Coates.
Her top priority is thinking about how to counter China, which Coates argues is an issue that affects all Americans, rather than some other foreign policy issues, like Ukraine, that may not feel urgent or important to Americans.
“We are pretty much dropping the term ‘foreign policy.’ We are using ‘national security,’ because our target audience is the American people,” said Coates. “Americans are deeply concerned, [and] both parties are deeply concerned about China.”
In the Middle East, Coates intends “to support and nurture the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel,” she said. Coates’ first hire was Robert Greenway, a former Trump National Security Council staffer who helped negotiate the Abraham Accords.
So where does Heritage fall on the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the best route to solve it? Coates won’t say.
“Oh, I’m smarter than that,” Coates said with a laugh. But she thinks Israel’s recent progress in normalization with Arab nations “brings a clarity to the Palestinian issue, that it is not the center of the Middle East.”
“I don’t think there is an easy solution at the moment,” Coates added. “What I would look to [are] the new avenues for partnership between Israel, obviously, Bahrain and UAE, but Israel and Saudi. It’s out there that this is being discussed, and we haven’t seen massive protests break out in Riyadh, let alone Mecca or Medina.”
on the trail
Nikki Haley tries to straddle the GOP’s establishment-MAGA divide on foreign policy
HUDSON, N.H. – In a Republican Party divided over America’s role in the world and its conduct of foreign policy, there are the traditional GOP hawks and the MAGA-aligned isolationists. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley sits squarely in the hawkish camp. But as she tries to broadly appeal to all elements of the fractured Republican Party, she’s also been sounding some notes designed to placate the war-weary GOP faction. In an interview with Jewish Insider Editor-in-Chief Josh Kraushaar on Tuesday in the Granite State, Haley emphasized that in her stump speech she doesn’t support “put[ting] cash” into Ukraine, even as she argues that the U.S. needs to send the war-torn country all the weapons it needs to fend off the Russian invaders.
Keeping the cash: “You can say you can work with the allies to send equipment and ammunition. You don’t send cash. I just don’t trust – you can’t trust how countries are going to spend cash,” Haley told JI. Asked if she would support the proposed supplemental funding the Biden administration is expected to request for Ukraine, Haley said: “I just think America’s gotten burned many times by sending cash to countries. And I just, I will never agree to that. What we need to do is make sure our allies are pulling their weight.”
Striking a balance: Spending time with Haley at two different town halls Tuesday on the campaign trail in New Hampshire underscored the difficulty she faces in striking a foreign policy balance that will satisfy most Republicans. One of the questioners at a VFW Hall in Derry asked Haley how she would continue to support Ukraine in the face of pockets of opposition from conservative isolationists. “The things that the Russians are doing are similar to what Hitler’s Nazis were doing in the 1940s. Will you do everything you can to stop them?” the questioner asked. Haley, after blaming President Joe Biden for weakness in encouraging Russia to invade, said: “A win for Russia is a win for China…. If we win, if Ukraine wins, that sends the biggest message to China on Taiwan, it sends a message to Iran trying to build a bomb, it sends a message to North Korea. If we lose, then we’re in a whole ‘nother situation. So yes, I will continue to support Ukraine.” Her response received widespread applause.
pac-ing a punch
AIPAC steps up efforts to oust anti-Israel lawmakers
In recent months, AIPAC has stepped up its recruitment efforts to challenge Democratic incumbents who have clashed with the pro-Israel establishment, pushing the activist left into a defensive crouch as it prepares for a potentially bruising primary cycle. The bipartisan pro-Israel group has been actively courting a slate of House candidates to oppose marquee members of the “Squad,” including Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), according to multiple sources familiar with AIPAC’s outreach who spoke with Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel on Tuesday
Opposing Omar: Last month, Bowman and Omar were among a group of House Democrats who boycotted Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress. The two lawmakers also voted against a GOP-led resolution rejecting claims that Israel is a racist state — as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, recently asserted at a progressive conference in Chicago. The boycott and the vote have fueled ongoing efforts within the pro-Israel community to find a challenger to Omar, who narrowly won her primary last cycle in a surprisingly weak showing against Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis councilman who lost by just 2,500 votes. Samuels, who after the election expressed frustration that pro-Israel groups hadn’t unified behind his campaign, is now considering a rematch against Omar, according to a Democratic operative in Minnesota familiar with his thinking.
Courting Vetaw: But AIPAC, for its part, is instead eyeing a Minneapolis councilmember, LaTrisha Vetaw, who is actively weighing a bid of her own, according to the operative. “They acknowledged they missed an opportunity last cycle but have said that, based on their internal assessment, Don has reached his capacity,” said the operative, who was granted anonymity to discuss private deliberations. In recent months, AIPAC has met with Vetaw and engaged in ongoing conversations to convince her to enter the primary, according to the operative, who has also conferred with the group. It remains to be seen, however, if Vetaw, a moderate Democrat who represents North Minneapolis, will have the appetite for what is likely to be a bitterly contested primary battle.
🇰🇷 East Asian Inspiration: In The Wall Street Journal, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen holds up South Korea as a blueprint for de-escalation in the Middle East in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat. “South Korea, despite living under the shadow of a nuclear-armed neighbor and having the means to develop its own nuclear weapons, has abstained from nuclear-weapons development. The U.S.’s defense commitment acts as South Korea’s deterrent against Northern aggression. A comparable American defense pledge could reassure Middle Eastern nations, primarily Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. This approach would make individual nuclear ambitions unnecessary, bolster regional stability, and promote the peace and normalization agenda. A united front, bringing together moderate Sunni nations and Israel, would be an effective check on Iran’s growing ambitions.” [WSJ]
🇸🇦🇮🇱 Roadblocks: In the Financial Times, Felicia Schwartz, James Shotter and Samer Al-Atrush explore the prospects and obstacles surrounding a potential U.S.-brokered normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. “The deal between the US and the UAE offers an example of the difficulties. When the UAE agreed to normalize with Israel in 2020, the Jewish state promised that it would not carry out threats to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, while the Trump administration pledged the Emiratis would get more access to US military hardware, including advanced F-35 fighter jets. But talks between the US and UAE over the sale of F-35s have since stalled, with Washington worried about sensitive information being leaked to China, and Abu Dhabi frustrated by restrictions on the jets’ use, people familiar with the discussions said. Any grand bargain between the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel may also hinge on the parties agreeing more substantial concessions to the Palestinians than were offered in the Abraham Accords, which, despite withdrawing a threat to annex parts of the West Bank, failed to prevent continued expansion of Israeli settlements.” [FT]
🐟 A Different Kettle of Fish: In Tablet magazine, Flora Tsapovsky spotlights Israeli chef Yuval Ben Neriah’s newest endeavor, Yama, which sells domestic and imported fish, as well as delivered kits that can be prepared at home. “‘For years we’ve been wondering why the fish shops are so old-fashioned — places with unpleasant smells, fish sitting on ice, very little flexibility, and not much knowledge or input from the salesperson,’ Ben Neriah said. In contrast, he says, positive changes have been happening recently in Israel’s butcher shops: There’s been a surge of spots with a better look and feel, to which increasingly knowledgeable customers flock to request special cuts of meat. ‘We thought it would be right to enter the market, and change things up a little,’ he said. ‘We want to encourage consumption of local fish and explain its origin and method of farming — this is stuff people normally don’t have a clue about.’” [Tablet]
🗳️ Keeping Up With Jones: In New York magazine, Timmy Facciola spotlights Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) in his new, more moderate approach and his third bid for Congress. “In another break with his lefty allies, Jones said he would have gladly attended the Israeli president’s address to Congress last month, which [Sen. Bernie] Sanders, [Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez, and [Rep. Jamaal] Bowman boycotted. Since then, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee started recruiting a primary challenger to Bowman. As for Jones, he said, ‘I’ve got a great relationship with AIPAC,’ and his team would not say whether he would endorse the AIPAC-backed challenger or Bowman, only that Bowman doesn’t need his endorsement. (The 17th District where Jones is running has the largest Jewish constituency in the country.)” [NYMag]
⚖️ Legal Lesson: The Wall Street Journal’s Theo Francis and Lauren Weber look at legal efforts to challenge Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs in the corporate sector. “Employment lawyers say it is likely a matter of time before one of these cases reaches the Supreme Court. Some companies have decided they aren’t going to wait for the court to weigh in. That is especially true for programs that were quickly adopted after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd in police custody, said Angela Berg, who led the global DEI practice at HR consulting firm Mercer and now consults independently. Some executives ‘were uncomfortable with equity programs from the get-go,’ said Berg, referring to initiatives such as mentorship or training programs. The Supreme Court has changed the risk calculation, she said. Companies are evaluating diversity programs in light of litigation threats that often seem designed to stoke public fear, said Fordham University law professor Atinuke Adediran. She has received inquiries on the subject from an association of human-resources officers at large companies. ‘Most of what the firms are doing for diversity is legal,’ she said. ‘Companies may need to be ready to defend themselves.’” [WSJ]
Around the Web
📣 Long Island Sound: GOP presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is headlining a fundraiser hosted by Stanley Druckenmiller, Marc Rowan, Gary Cohn and Nick Muzin, among others, in the Hamptons this evening.
🗳️ Campaign Reset: As part of his presidential campaign reshuffle, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is moving James Uthmeier, the chief of staff of DeSantis’ gubernatorial office, into the role of campaign manager, replacing Generra Peck, who will stay on the campaign as chief strategist.
🤷 Attacked From Both Sides: The Jewish Journal‘s David Suissa examines bipartisan fears over the possible emergence of a third party as the No Labels movement is targeted by both Republicans and Democrats.
🇨🇳 China Sanctions: The Biden administration is expected to impose new restrictions on investments in China, citing national security reasons.
💲 Puck Bucks:Puck, the news startup founded by Jon Kelly and Joe Purzycki, raised over $10 million in a Series B growth round led by J Rothschild Capital Management.
🍦 Shop Talk: In The Wall Street Journal, former Anheuser-Busch executive Anson Frericks considers why Ben & Jerry’s has found success in adopting a socially progressive mission, and why similar moves would be financially damaging to most companies.
⚽ Soccer Deal: Len Blavatnik’s DAZN is nearing an agreement to purchase live broadcast rights for Saudi Pro League soccer in the U.K., Germany and Austria in a one-year deal for $500,000.
↩️ Portnoy’s Back: Barstool Sports has returned to the ownership of its founder, David Portnoy, after he bought back his digital media company from Penn Entertainment.
🚓 Police Beat: Authorities in Washington, D.C., identified the remains of a man suspected of killing 25-year-old Aryeh Wolf last year.
🧑⚖️ Guilty Plea: The suspect in a 2021 antisemitic attack on a Hasidic man on a subway train going from Brooklyn to Manhattan pleaded guilty yesterday to a hate crime.
⚖️ Lost and Found: A Hungarian antique book collector reunited the family of a 13-year-old Holocaust victim — the younger brother of TikTok star Lily Ebert — with a book he had owned prior to his transport to and death at Auschwitz.
🤝 Lapid Diplomacy: UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid met for three hours in Italy.
🇱🇧 Be Forewarned: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, visiting Israel’s border with Lebanon, cautioned Hezbollah against further escalations against Israel, warning that Israel would “return Lebanon to the Stone Age.”
🏠 Home Demolition: Israeli forces demolished the home of a Hamas militant who killed two Israeli brothers earlier this year.
💰 Frozen Funds: Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich froze several hundred million shekels earmarked for Arab towns and educational programs for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
➡️ Transition: The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has hired Karen Elam as its senior vice president. Elam has served since 2018 as the executive director of the Levine Center to End Hate at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester.
🕯️ Death Notice: German novelist Martin Walser, who faced controversy for his comments about the Holocaust and antisemitism, died at 96.
Pic of the Day
A representative of the German Jewish community sits next to a Muslim imam at the “peace table” during the Peace Festival yesterday in Augsburg, Germany. The festival is a municipal holiday.
Romance novelist with 22 books on the NYT bestseller lists, Barbara Delinsky (born Barbara Ruth Greenberg) turns 78…
Prominent Sephardic rabbi in Tel Aviv, he was a member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Rabbi Moshe Maya turns 85… Physicist and venture capitalist, co-founder and general partner emeritus of New Markets Venture Partners, Donald M. “Don” Spero, Ph.D. turns 84… Comedian, actor, writer and director, David Steinberg turns 81… Author of 36 Jewish-themed books, Seymour Rossel turns 78… Telecommunications consultant based in Chattanooga, Tenn., Mark Shapiro turns 77… Psychologist and bestselling suspense novelist, Jonathan Kellerman turns 74… Southern California resident, Faith Schames… Brigadier general (IDF reserves) in the Israeli Air Force, Amir Abraham Haskel turns 70… Director of the Steinhardt Family Foundation in Israel and president of WZO, Tova Dorfman… U.S. senator (R-KS), Roger Marshall, M.D. turns 63… Member of the Minnesota State Senate since 2007, Ronald Steven “Ron” Latz turns 60… Professor of French at Yale University, he is the inaugural director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism, Maurice Samuels turns 55…
Chief of staff for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Amy Beth Rutkin… Founder and CEO of AFC Gamma, Leonard M. Tannenbaum turns 52… Two-time Grammy Award-winning operatic soprano, songwriter and actress, Hila Plitmann turns 50… Kyiv-born, member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 2007 from Montgomery County, Kirill Reznik turns 49… Reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel turns 48… Founding partner of New Deal Strategies, Rebecca Kirszner Katz… Chair of JEWELS (Jewish Education Where Every Level Student Succeeds), Jules Friedman… Drummer, popular on YouTube with 344 million views, Meytal Cohen turns 40… CEO of the Israel on Campus Coalition, Jacob Baime… Real estate investor based in Cleveland, Amanda Isaacson… Associate at Ropes & Gray LLP, Isaac Lederman… Israeli actor, best known for his role as Yanky Shapiro in the 2020 Netflix miniseries “Unorthodox,” Amit Rahav turns 28… Southern California resident, Giovanna Fradkin… VP at Dezenhall Resources, Fred Brown… Elise Aronson… Dan Zimerman…