👋 Good Friday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on the Biden administration’s expansion of Title VI protections, and look at a bipartisan congressional effort to support the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Sen. Ben Cardin, Menachem Kaiser and Michael Oren.
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: U.S. groups laud Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program, say it heralds deeper ties; Menendez’s legal woes could reshape direction of Democratic foreign policy; Israel’s new antisemitism envoy primed for battle in ‘ongoing war.’ Print the latest edition here.
Last night, the House passed its 2024 appropriations bills for Homeland Security, Defense and the State Department by votes of 220-208, 218-210 and 216-212, respectively. Reps. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Marie Glusenkamp Perez (D-WA) crossed the aisle to support the Homeland and Defense bills, while Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO) and Tim Burchett (R-TN) voted against the defense bill, and Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) opposed the State bill.
The House voted 360-67 to prevent the administration from moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem and voted 351-81 to prevent the removal of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ terrorism designation; neither issue is believed to be under active consideration. It also adopted by voice vote an amendment to cut the salary of Iran envoy Rob Malley. It narrowly rejected, by a 218-213 vote, an amendment banning funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.
Eight Republicans — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), David Joyce (R-OH), Tom Kean (R-NJ), Jen Kiggans (R-VA), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Nancy Mace (R-SC) and David Valadao (R-CA) — voted to preserve UNRWA funding, while two Democrats, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) voted to end it.
The House also approved $300 million in Ukraine funding by a vote of 311-117, with more than half of Republicans voting against additional aid.
The House isexpected to vote on a short-term spending patch on Friday to avoid a Saturday shutdown, but it’s not expected to pass, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is still resisting brokering a deal with Democrats.
In a live-streamed conversation on X yesterday, owner Elon Musk tentatively agreed to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland at the invitation of Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the chairman and founder of the European Jewish Association. The nearly two-hour conversation, co-hosted by political commentator Ben Shapiro and Bnai Zion CEO Ari Lamm, featured a homogenous panel of largely politically conservative voices; incoming Israeli Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism Michal Cotler-Wunsh was a last-minute addition to the event, but had technical difficulties when she was finally called on to speak at the tail end of the panel.
Biden administration broadens Civil Rights Act to tackle antisemitism
A new set of policy directives issued by the Biden administration on Thursday aims to counter antisemitic discrimination in federally funded programs and activities, including public transportation, food programs and federal housing programs. The move is one of the most significant policy steps taken by President Joe Biden since the White House released a national strategy to counter antisemitism in May, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch and Marc Rod report.
Broad expansion: Eight federal agencies announced a broad expansion of a key protection in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — Title VI of the landmark legislation will now extend to antisemitism, Islamophobia and other religious discrimination “based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”
Significant shift: The policy announcement is full of legal jargon, but advocates and experts contend that it represents a meaningful shift in civil rights policy and in the federal response to antisemitism. One example of the type of discrimination now covered might be an emergency room patient requesting a new attending physician “because the patient associates the physician’s surname with Judaism and/or Israel,” according to a fact sheet from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Administration officials address Iran influence scandal, hostage deal, terror proxies
The Department of Defense is reviewing the background check and security clearance process for Ariane Tabatabai, a former State Department and current Pentagon official who was named in recent reporting alleging that the Iranian government built a network of influential allies in the U.S. and Europe, including current and former administration officials, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The investigation was revealed during congressional hearings on Thursday, where high-level administration officials testified on the alleged influence operation, the authorities necessary to counter Iran and the recent deal to free U.S. hostages from Iranian custody.
Investigation details: Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, for whom Tabatabai serves as chief of staff, testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that she currently remains in her role. Maier said however, in response to a House Armed Services Committee inquiry, the Defense Department is “actively looking into whether all law and policy was properly followed in granting my chief of staff” a security clearance and access to sensitive classified information.
Also on Capitol Hill: On Thursday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin raising concerns about Tabatabai and demanding answers on the situation by Oct. 6, JI has learned. “Ms. Tabatabai’s relationship with Iranian government representatives, along with her malicious comments regarding our ally, Israel, as a representative of the U.S. Department of Defense is undeniably unacceptable,” Blackburn wrote.
AUMF update: The Foreign Affairs hearing was convened for the purpose of discussing efforts to repeal and replace the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force that have undergirded many of the U.S.’ efforts to combat global terrorism for the past two decades. The committee aims to vote on a new AUMF next month. The administration officials who testified argued that specific authorities to strike Iran-backed militia groups are not necessary, while several Republican committee members argued that such authorities would be useful.
Cardin: Saudi deal would be a ‘game changer,’ but ‘issues’ must be addressed
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be a “game changer” for the region but that there are a number of sensitive issues that a deal with the kingdom would have to address, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Quotable: “I’m very excited about this, because I do think it [would be] incredible [for] the U.S. foreign policy and national security,” Cardin said in a briefing with reporters yesterday. “I think that there is a recognition that if this is going to happen, there’s going to be some meaningful changes in the Middle East, and I find that extremely exciting.”
Iran approach: Asked about administration efforts to establish a more limited, informal nuclear deal with Iran, Cardin, who voted against the original 2015 Iran nuclear deal, emphasized that he believes the U.S. is in a “much more dangerous situation” now because the Trump administration withdrew from the deal. “You can’t use the gold standard anymore,” Cardin said. “You’ve got to figure out, where do you go from this day forward?” But, he said, “from what I’ve been told [Iran is] just not interested” in an agreement.
Lawmakers seek to strengthen, shore up Israeli-Palestinian security coordinator role
A bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers is pushing for changes to shore up and further support the mission of the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a year after the Defense Department considered downgrading the position, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The security coordinator position, held by a U.S. military officer, was established during the George W. Bush administration and reports to both the Departments of State and Defense. The coordinator leads a multinational group with nine other nations, including other U.S. military personnel, which coordinates between Israel and the PA’s security forces and provides training to PA security forces. The U.S. also provides nonlethal aid to the PA security forces; this aid is not impacted by the Taylor Force Act.
Safety and Stability: The Middle East Security Coordination Act, led by Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Todd Young (R-IN), James Lankford (R-OK) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), emphasizes that stability in Israel and the West Bank “depend[s] on effective coordination and deconfliction.” The bill states that the “professionalism and capacity” of PA security forces “is an important factor for safety and stability” and that Israeli security leaders have highlighted the importance of security coordination and PA security forces “as being responsible for eroding the ability of organized terror groups to carry out suicide attacks in Israeli cities and towns.”
Ted Deutch on one year with the AJC: ‘I couldn’t be happier to be in this position’
In early 2022, then-Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) surprised Congress when he announced that he would not be seeking reelection, instead opting to take over as CEO of the American Jewish Committee. As his first anniversary in the new role nears, Deutch joined co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein on this week’s episode of JI’s podcast to discuss his work at AJC, incidents at the University of Pennsylvania and CUNY, Iran and Saudi-Israel normalization.
On his first year with the AJC: “I couldn’t be happier to be in this position with the opportunity to lead an organization that, for well more than a century now, has as its mission the fundamental issues that I care most deeply about: enhancing the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and advancing democratic values. In my first year, that’s meant really leaving Congress, which is, I think we can all acknowledge, probably the most partisan place there is these days, and coming to an organization that has this unparalleled global structure across six continents, advocating for the Jewish communities in those continents and the closer relationships with Israel, and doing it in a nonpartisan and centrist way with clear values and clear principles leading the way. That allows me to lean in really with my heart and passion every day. So these are the issues I care about.”
On the recent prisoner exchange with Iran: “This one’s personal for me. I represented Bob Levinson, the longest-held American in history. And the challenge that Bob’s family had led us in getting access to people in the government who cared about them, who would listen to them, led to the creation of the Robert Levinson Hostage Taking Accountability Act — one of the things I’m frankly most proud of having done in Congress. I spent a lot of time with the families of Americans wrongfully detained and held hostage, and I am glad that they’re home. That said, and we can argue over whether the price was high, but the one thing we have to work on together now is to ensure that this money, which has very tight strings attached, yes, money is fungible, we all acknowledge that, but we at least have to make sure, as we’ve been doing in our meetings here this week, that both the United States and countries around the world, that the money that goes through Qatar, is only going to go for humanitarian purposes.”
🇮🇷 Talking Tehran:The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood weighs in on the recent leak of documents connecting a number of current and former government officials to efforts by Tehran to cultivate an influencer network abroad as it pursued nuclear negotiations with the West. “For once, the Iranians themselves are blameless. As conspiracies go, the one alleged here is mild. They found Westerners of Iranian extraction who did not despise their religious government, as so many Iranian expatriates do. They made a list. They flattered its members and waited to see who welcomed the flattery and reciprocated with offers of service. These techniques paid off splendidly when the Biden administration started appointing the very people Tehran had been grooming. (Vaez was poised to join Malley at State, but the appointment was never made.) The emails do not demonstrate or suggest that Ariane Tabatabai, now in the Defense Department, or others not in government, became agents of Tehran. The Pentagon says that Tabatabai was ‘thoroughly and properly vetted’ for her current job but refuses to say whether her emails were accurately and fairly quoted. Even if they do not show that she is a security risk, they do show that she and others responded to Tehran’s blandishments and sought its approval. The administration should find staff who know Iran and its leaders, ideally well enough to recognize Zarif by the smell of his cologne or the sound of his footfall. To get that close takes some ingratiation. The method of ingratiation matters, though, and in this case, it stinks.” [TheAtlantic]
🇮🇱 Fifty Years On: In The Wall Street Journal, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, who also served in the Knesset, reflects on the divisions among Israel’s Jewish communities ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. “The Yom Kippur War shattered Israeli identity. Once confident in their leaders, Israelis suddenly distrusted them. Veterans of the war founded Peace Now to pressure the government to make territorial concessions to the Palestinians. Fearful that it would, religious Zionists established the Bloc of the Faithful to irreversibly settle Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The left-leaning Labor Party that had led Israel since its independence lost to the right-wing Likud, destined to dominate Israeli politics for 40 of the next 50 years. Israelis felt betrayed by politicians who not only failed to prevent the war but later pinned the blame on the army. That perfidy was never entirely forgotten and, in the eyes of many Israelis, is now being replicated by the Netanyahu government…. ‘The wars of the Jews are always the ugliest,’ commando leader Yoni Netanyahu, the late brother of the present prime minister, wrote to his parents in November 1973. ‘The Arabs won’t need to fight. The Jews, as usual, will destroy themselves.’ The challenge for Israel today, as 50 years ago, is to avoid that fate and emerge from our crisis even stronger.” [WSJ]
🗡️ Relics and Remembrance: In The New York Times, author Menachem Kaiser writes about his experience at a trade show in which items from Nazi Europe were prevalent. “The very concept of ‘Nazi memorabilia’ is a misapprehension of these artifacts, a mistreatment of a fraught material history; it relies on and feeds an insidious distortion of World War II, which is flattened into a tale of victors and vanquished. The cruelty, the suffering, the victims, the genocide are all out of frame. History, and especially history of World War II, is never just an accumulation of facts; it’s a narrative, constructed with more or less deliberation but constructed all the same. Decontextualization can be — regardless of intentions — a form of soft revisionism…. Turning Nazi artifacts into tradeables, far from fulfilling some sort of preservationist mandate, in fact mutes what’s historically meaningful about them. The purpose of preservation is not merely to ensure artifacts aren’t lost or damaged, but to place them in proper context, to narrativize them. Without that context, Nazi artifacts only represent a fascination with and commodification of Nazism; what’s being traded and promoted is Nazi symbology. The claim that a Nazi artifact is so rigidly ‘historical’ as to be apolitical is at best oblivious, if not dismissive, of how these symbols are deployed today, to what they mean to most people, to their very current political implications.” [NYTimes]
🏫 Campus Beat: In Newsweek, Jewish on Campus co-founder Julia Jassey calls for university administrators to step up their efforts to combat antisemitism on campus, following last week’s hosting of a conference at the University of Pennsylvania that featured speakers accused of antisemitism. “It’s time to take a decisive step. University administrators must condemn antisemitism strongly, no matter where it arises. They must ensure that all students, including Jews, have equal access to their school as a safe environment to learn. They must stand with their Jewish students at times of celebration and times of difficulty. They must understand that our people have always grappled with antisemitism, and it is those who have remained silent who have allowed it to continue. Campus antisemitism will not be eliminated by one school, one professor, or one student. The responsibility to act belongs to each of us. The Jewish students at the University of Pennsylvania have shown us that antisemitism will not derail their strength nor their pride.” [Newsweek]
Around the Web
🤝 Peace Prospects: In their meeting in New York last week, President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed that any deal with Saudi Arabia should include efforts toward reaching Israeli-Palestinian peace.
🐘 Moves on McCarthy: A group of far-right congressional Republicans is working on an effort to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and replace him, potentially with House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN).
✝️ ✡️ ☪️ Religion Resolution: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and several Republican colleagues introduced a resolution to designate Oct. 1 to 7 as “Religious Education Week,” with the support of Agudath Israel and the Coalition for Jewish Values.
🗳️ Survey Says: A new survey from Public Policy Polling found a statistical tie in a theoretical Senate matchup between Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who was indicted on federal charges of bribery last week, and former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.
🇷🇺 Six-Month Mark: The Wall Street Journal marks six months since the detainment of its reporter, Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested by Russian authorities earlier this year.
⛳ Green-er Pastures: Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group, Henry Kravis and Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, are considering investments in the PGA Tour, as an alternative to the golfing association’s efforts to merge with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
🚓 Campus Concern: Police at Arizona State University arrested a student believed to have spray-painted swastikas and other antisemitic graffiti on the building housing the university’s journalism school.
👮 Detained: A Peruvian man was apprehended by local authorities working in conjunction with the FBI, which charged him with making more than 150 threats to Jewish institutions across five states in the U.S. earlier this month.
🇸🇾 Parley on Pause: A ministerial committee within the Arab League is suspending talks with Syria over the latter’s failed talks with Lebanon over the return of refugees and its continued trafficking of illegal drugs.
🚁 In the Air: The U.S. denounced a recent incident in which Iranian vessels pointed lasers at an American helicopter in the Persian Gulf as “unsafe, unprofessional and irresponsible.”
🇮🇱 🇩🇪 Defense Deal: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, inked an agreement for Israel to sell the U.S.- and Israeli-developed Arrow 3 missile-defense system to Berlin.
🛫 Up, Up and Away: El Al plans to add flights to its Tel Aviv-New York route next year, following Israel’s entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
➡️ Transition: Sammi Goldsmith is now the deputy director of public policy at Mazon. She was previously a senior policy advisor for Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI).
Pic of the Day
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (left) and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog meet with their teams following the announcement on Wednesday that Israel met the requirements to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
Host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Ari Shapiro turns 45 on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Professor of physics emeritus at MIT, he is a 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, Rainer Weiss turns 91… Israeli author, translator, journalist and restaurant critic, Avital Inbar turns 79… Retired CEO of Southern California-based LinQuest Corporation, he is the finance VP at Temple Sinai, Leon Biederman, Ph.D…. Former member of the Knesset, he serves as the executive director of Beit El Yeshiva and as chairman of Arutz Sheva, Ya’akov Dov “Katzele” Katz turns 72… Past treasurer of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, Harold Gernsbacher… Tony Award-winning actor and singer, Roger Bart turns 61… Composer and pianist, he is the winner of the 2020 Azrieli Foundation Prize for Jewish Music, Yitzhak Yedid turns 52… Chief strategy director for national affairs at AIPAC, Brian Shankman… Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s office of international relations, Aviva Rosenthal… City controller of Philadelphia until 2022, Rebecca Rhynhart turns 49… YouTube-based yoga instructor with almost 1.4 billion views, Adriene Mishler turns 39… Program manager at NYC’s Neighborhood Restore, Aron Chilewich… Research director at DC-based S-3 Group, Shawn Pasternak… Film and television actress, Clara Mamet turns 29…
SATURDAY: Former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert turns 78… IT developer and business analyst, Sanford Kadish… Chairman and CEO of AMC Entertainment, he is a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, Adam Maximilian Aron turns 69… Actress and activist, she was elected in 2021 as president of the SAG-AFTRA trade union and re-elected a few weeks ago, Fran Drescher turns 66… Co-founder and CEO of Avenue Capital Group and the co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks until earlier this year, Marc Lasry turns 64… Professor of mathematical logic at Oxford, Ehud Hrushovski turns 64… Founder and president of the Menomadin Group and president of the Menomadin Foundation, Haim Taib turns 63… Journalist for Haaretz, Allison Kaplan Sommer… Professor of healthcare economics at MIT and an architect of Romneycare and Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber turns 58… Leora Lily Ihilevich Usman… Lisa K. Robbins… Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Gilad Menashe Erdan turns 53… SVP of digital product management at The Advertising Council, Anastasia Goodstein… Russia and Eastern Europe editor for the Washington Post, David Herszenhorn… CEO of Via Trading Corporation, Jacques Stambouli… President and CEO of Hadar Institute in Manhattan, Eliezer “Elie” Kaunfer… Founder of Artemis Strategies, a boutique consultancy, Hildy Kuryk turns 46… Screenwriter, director, producer and actor, Jonathan Peter Kasdan turns 44… Computer scientist and a co-founder of Palantir Technologies, Stephen Cohen turns 41… Deputy coverage chief of speed and trending news at The Wall Street Journal, Steven Russolillo… Mixed martial artist who competes in the lightweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Natan Levy turns 32…
SUNDAY: MLB second baseman who appeared in 18 straight All-Star Games, he is immortalized as Jewish in Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song,” Rod Carew turns 78… Senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Andrew David Hurwitz turns 76… Professor at the Technion, he won the 2004 Nobel prize in Chemistry, Aaron Ciechanover turns 76… Copy editor at Politico, Andrew Goodwin… Film, stage and television actress and, since 2009, an ordained Jewish cantor, Lorna Patterson turns 67… The first ever Jewish chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, Steven C. González turns 60… Reality television personality, model and actress, Cynthia Dawn “Cindy” Margolis turns 58… Director of philanthropic partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Robert A. Rosen… Film director, screenwriter and producer, Stacie Passon turns 54… SVP at FGS Global, Robert Bennett Seidman… Director at the National Security Network of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Samantha J. Greenberg… Consultant at Deloitte focused on critical infrastructure risk, Samuel Koralnik… Business development manager at Cympire, Yossi Raskas… Scott Rosenthal…