👋 Good Thursday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we interview N.J. gubernatorial candidate Steven Fulop, and look at the fallout from Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s move to publicize his meeting with his Libyan counterpart. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Stephanie Hallett, Elliott Abrams and Claudia Sheinbaum.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to meet with Jewish leaders on Sept. 20 during the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, two people familiar with the matter told Jewish Insider on Wednesday.
Participants will include “a diverse cross section of American Jewish leaders as well as Turkish Jewish community leaders,” according to Ezra Friedlander, a lobbyist whose clients include the Turkish government. It is being organized by the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., Friedlander said.
Erdogan, who won reelection to a third five-year term in May, also met with Jewish leaders during last year’s UNGA, when he convened with representatives from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, AIPAC and J Street, among other groups, for an hour-long discussion at the Turkish mission to the U.N. in Manhattan.
During the conversation, Erdogan said he would visit Israel, which restored full diplomatic ties with Turkey in 2022 after years of strained relations. He has yet to follow through on the pledge, for which he did not set a firm date. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been scheduled to visit Ankara in late July but postponed the trip due to health issues.
And in Michigan, the state’s 2024 Senate race got a lot more interesting yesterday when former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) announced his campaign. “No candidate is better prepared to have an impact on day one. I’m ready to serve again,” Rogers said in his videotaped announcement.
Rogers, a former congressman who has won tough races in a swing district centered around the state capital of Lansing, hails from the pragmatic wing of the party — and has spoken critically of former President Donald Trump, particularly in his role as a CNN political analyst. Yet national Republican officials are bullish about his candidacy, believing he holds the potential to win over the Trump-skeptical faction of the party while still being acceptable to the ascendant MAGA wing.
One of his likely primary rivals, former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), faces deeper resistance from the Trump wing of the party. In 2022, he lost in a tight primary to a Trump-endorsed candidate after voting for Trump’s impeachment. (Meijer announced earlier this week that he’s forming an exploratory committee.)
More consequentially, Rogers faces the likelihood of primary opponents to his right, with former Detroit Police Chief James Craig emerging as the best-known potential challenger. But Craig’s poor political track record is giving Republicans hope that a more traditional candidate like Rogers can emerge. Craig was disqualified from the 2022 governor’s race after gathering fraudulent signatures.
The GOP nominee will likely face Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), the Democratic frontrunner.
A Slotkin-Rogers matchup would pit two lawmakers with significant national security experience. Rogers, who served in the House from 2001-2015, is the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, while Slotkin is a former CIA analyst.
Both also represented the same district, based in Lansing, one of the biggest battlegrounds in the country.
garden state gambit
Steven Fulop wants to be the first Jewish governor of New Jersey
Steven Fulop, the popular three-term mayor of Jersey City who launched an early campaign for governor in April, has long embraced his Jewish background as a key part of his biography. The 46-year-old Democrat studied at an Orthodox Jewish day school that he credits with influencing his “moral compass.” As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, Fulop was among the first state officials to call a 2019 shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City an antisemitic hate crime. The mayor literally wears his Jewish identity on his sleeve: His son’s Hebrew name, Yosef — the same as Fulop’s late brother — is tattooed on his right forearm, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel writes in a profile of the candidate.
‘Always room for a first’: Now that he is running for the Garden State’s top job, Fulop recognizes that his Judaism may carry broader significance — if elected, he would become New Jersey’s first Jewish governor. In an interview with JI last month, Fulop said he was surprised to learn recently that New Jersey has never elected a Jewish chief executive, given its long history and sizable Jewish population. “But there’s always room for a first,” he reasoned, sounding a note of optimism. “That’s the good thing.”
Drawing a distinction: Even as he could set a historic precedent, however, Fulop stressed that he is not necessarily running as a Jewish candidate. Instead, he sees himself as “a candidate who happens to be Jewish,” he said, noting that the difference is “nuanced” but informs his approach to the race. “Having a very, very strong Judaic foundation has been a moral compass for me — about service, about how to treat people, about right and wrong,” said Fulop, a former investment banker who joined the Marines shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks and served in Iraq before seeking public office. “I’m not running as a Jewish candidate, but it is intertwined. It’s who I am.”
Israeli FM Eli Cohen faces heat for diplomatic blunders
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen made the biggest international waves of his career last week, when he issued a public statement about his meeting with his Libyan counterpart Najla Mangoush, a highly unusual move when it comes to secret contacts between Israel and Arab states. The reaction in Tripoli came almost instantly: rioting, a denial from Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh that he knew about the meeting and Mangoush’s sacking. The Libyan foreign minister then fled her country in the face of death threats, first to Turkey and then to London. Cohen has faced criticism for being dangerously indiscreet and jeopardizing Israel’s fragile relations with the Arab world, Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov reports.
Ramifications: One Arab diplomat told JI this week that Mangoush’s life had been ruined and speculated that the incident could hurt the prospects of more countries establishing diplomatic ties with Israel — though he did not think it would impact Saudi normalization talks.
Premier’s position: Cohen’s actions irked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even though he reportedly knew about the meeting as it came after Italian premier Giorgia Meloni suggested that Dbeibeh’s government start talking with Israel as a way to curry favor with the West. But Netanyahu still tried to distance himself from the debacle in public. The premier reiterated to Cyprus’ ANT1 TV before his visit to the European island state this week that he sent a directive to all government ministries that his office must approve all meetings with countries with which Israel does not have relations. Israel has always been “very careful not to reveal” such meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders in the past, he said.
Conflicting narratives: However, an Israeli source with knowledge of the Cohen-Mangoush meeting insisted that both sides agreed to make it public, and said the Libyans did not anticipate the level of violent, antisemitic blowback. The plan, the source said, was for Jerusalem to make a statement and for Tripoli to neither confirm nor deny. This way, they would get credit in the West but have plausible deniability at home. When Israeli reporters from ynet published the story before the official statement was released, the Israeli Foreign Ministry decided to make the announcement a day or two earlier than planned, after getting the OK from Libya, the source said.
live from lilienblum
Top U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem: Israel is a ‘natural place’ for Saudi economic collaboration
Israel is the “one country in the region” that can serve as a leader in “innovation [and] technology expertise” as Saudi Arabia works to implement its Vision 2030 project, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Hallett said at Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) in Tel Aviv on Thursday, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss reports. Hallett was speaking alongside Bahraini Ambassador to Israel Khaled Yousef Al-Jalahma in a conversation moderated by SNC CEO Avi Hasson.
Tech talk: Riyadh is Washington’s “preeminent target” for expanding the Abraham Accords, Hallett, who is the highest-ranking official at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem following Ambassador Tom Nides’ departure earlier this summer, said, adding that “Israel is a natural place” for the kinds of economic collaboration that Saudi Arabia is seeking under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “The best collaboration,” Hallett said, “is not necessarily government-to-government driven. It’s [driven] by the private sector and the people in this room.”
Slow and steady: Al-Jalahma and Hallett were participating in a half-day innovation summit hosted by SNC, a nonprofit tech incubator, at its Tel Aviv headquarters to mark the third anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords normalization agreements. Al-Jalahma touted collaboration between Bahraini and Israeli entities, despite initial challenges attributed in part to cultural differences and some reluctance by Bahrainis to travel to Israel. “Just because it’s slow, doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. Doing it slowly with some savlanut,” he said, using the Hebrew word for patience. “It really is the right way forward. Everything that we’re facing is really something positive because we’re learning from it. We’ve adapted a lot, we’ve been working a lot with the different fields until we found the right path to move along.”
🐐 Musk the Scapegoater: The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg delves into the saga surrounding Elon Musk’s attack on the Anti-Defamation League, his charge that the ADL is responsible for X’s loss of revenue and his accusation that the group is among “the biggest generators of anti-Semitism” on his social media platform, X. “But though the ADL is not the cause of Twitter’s continuing unprofitability, it is a convenient culprit on which to pin the platform’s many failures. Anti-Semites love to blame Jews for whatever problems they personally perceive in the world. What is being done to the ADL on Twitter right now has little to do with the group’s conduct and everything to do with the symbolic role Jews play in the conspiratorial imagination. Rather than face up to the hate that has enveloped his platform, and the errors that led to the site’s degradation, Musk is claiming that the victims have had it coming. But no matter how many Jewish scapegoats he slaughters, he will not be able to revive his platform’s flagging fortunes, which stem from his own inadequacies, not Jewish mendacity.” [TheAtlantic]
🇮🇷 Hostage Taking: In The Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Special Representative for Iran Elliott Abrams argues that the U.S. needs to take steps to keep its citizens out of countries where they are at risk of being taken hostage. “This has largely been achieved with respect to North Korea. The State Department says ‘all U.S. passports are invalid for travel to, in, or through the DPRK unless specially validated for such travel under the authority of the Secretary of State.’ Such validations are approved ‘only in very limited circumstances.’ Yet the U.S. hasn’t yet done the same with Iran, which has been unjustly imprisoning Americans for decades. Despite the State Department’s placing the nation on its suggested ‘Do Not Travel’ list, which describes the heightened risk of ‘kidnapping and arbitrary arrest and detention,’ U.S. passports are still valid for such travel. More than 1,000 Americans each year are estimated to visit Iran to see relatives, do business or study in universities.” [WSJ]
🕵️♂️ The Malley Mess: Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin explores the U.S. government’s handling of the suspension of State Department Iran envoy Rob Malley. “The State Department’s lack of transparency has caused a rift with Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, the Iranian state media continues to drop exclusive stories about the affair, sometimes with sensitive U.S. documents attached. To be clear, there is no public evidence that Malley has done anything wrong. He has not been formally accused of anything and is presumed innocent. But what has lawmakers riled is not only the alleged offense, but also the mounting evidence of a coverup. The timeline of events shows a pattern of obfuscation. For example, we now know, through leaked U.S. government documents published by the state-controlled Tehran Times, that Malley was informed on April 21 that he was under investigation for mishandling protected information and that his security clearance was suspended. Yet the State Department told Congress and the public nothing about this for weeks, and Malley continued to conduct some of his duties that did not require a security clearance.” [WashPost]
🚁 Michael’s Moment:Vanity Fair’s Dan Adler spotlights Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin’s relationships with the top echelons of Hollywood. “The day’s itinerary had Rubin traveling to Massachusetts, where his close friend, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, played host for a Merch Madness event, and then on to Philadelphia, where the 76ers, which Rubin partly owned until selling his stake last year, hosted another. As his group navigated a series of helicopter rides, Rubin talked in quick bursts, twitching with enthusiasm over the time they were making and how the weather was holding up. ‘I really feel like I’ve had a profound effect on rappers’ timeliness,’ Rubin reflected. ‘Where we going now?’ [rapper] Baby asked in the van. ‘Robert’s stadium.’ A pair of videographers and a photographer tagged along — Baby would later release a song about the event and a music video that pulled from the footage — and Rubin’s 17-year-old daughter, Kylie, rested her head against the van window. Rubin regaled Baby, engaged and occasionally puffing from a sour apple vape, with business tales. ‘It’s cool to be an entrepreneur,’ Rubin said. ‘It was almost nerdy to be an entrepreneur when I was a kid.’” [VanityFair]
Around the Web
🤝 G-20 Gossip: President Joe Biden is expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in New Delhi this weekend.
🏢 Staying Put: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed to stay in office through the end of his term in 2027, amid mounting concerns over his health after sustaining a concussion in a fall earlier this year.
🐘 Pointed Pence: Speaking in New Hampshire, former Vice President Mike Pence suggested that following former President Donald Trump’s brand of populism will put the GOP on the “road to ruin”; in a new Wall Street Journal op-ed, the former vice president made a similar argument without mentioning Trump.
😕 Gloomy Forecast: Washington Post columnist Charles Lane predicts a looming crisis in U.S. presidential legitimacy.
🇸🇦 Push on Accords: Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) privately urged Trump to support the Biden administration’s efforts to expand the Abraham Accords to Saudi Arabia, following the South Carolina senator’s trip to Saudi Arabia this spring.
🗳️ Primary Colors: Celeste Maloy was named the winner of the Republican primary in the special election to succeed former Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), for whom she previously worked; Maloy beat out a state representative who ran on an anti-Trump platform.
✋ CUNY Boycott: Maura Moynihan, the daughter of late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), said she will skip the opening of a CUNY institution named after her father, in protest of a CUNY Law School commencement speech in May in which the speaker demonized Israel.
🎒 Campus Beat: NYU’s law school denied that it will host the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism’s upcoming conference, saying it “will not and ha[s] never committed to hosting this event.”
🎭 Back to Broadway: The New York Timesspotlights “The Book of Mormon” actors Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad as they reunite in “Gutenberg! The Musical!” which begins previews next week.
🥃 Montana’s Mash:Forbesspotlights former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana’s new whiskey business, inspired by JI wine columnist Yitz Applbaum.
💪 Pumping with Perlman: Ori Perlman, a former combat specialist in Israel’s elite Yamam unit, will open a second D.C.-area Thesis gym in Vienna, Va.
🇪🇸 Sister City: Barcelona restored its “sister city” affiliation with Tel Aviv, six months after its former mayor, who was ousted in June, cut ties with the Israeli metropolis.
🇲🇽 Madame President: Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who is Jewish, won the ruling Morena party’s nomination for the country’s presidential election, putting her on track to become Mexico’s first female president.
⛪ Righteous Gentiles: The Vatican will beatify a Polish couple and their seven children who hid a Jewish family from the Nazis and were subsequently murdered in 1944.
🇲🇦 Knesset Visit: The head of Morocco’s senate, Enaam Mayara, canceled what would have been the first visit by a Moroccan leader to the Knesset due to his ongoing hospitalization in Jordan.
📰 Firing Back: Jonatan Urich, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defends his boss in an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post about New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman, on the heels of his latest piece urging President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman not to “let Netanyahu make you his useful idiots.”
💬 Abbas’ Anger: The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board weighs in on a recent speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in which the Palestinian leader invoked a number of antisemitic tropes.
🇮🇱🇵🇸 West Bank Policy: Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo alleged that the country’s policies in the West Bank amount to “apartheid,” telling the Associated Press, “In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state.”
🚑 Stabbing Attack: A Palestinian youth wounded two people in a stabbing attack yesterday near the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.
🇺🇦 High Holiday Pilgrimage: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are expected to speak by phone this week in order to reach an agreement regarding the pilgrimage of Jewish worshipers from Israel to Uman during the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday.
🛬 Emergency Landing: An Emirates flight from Dubai to Singapore carrying 12 Israeli passengers made an emergency stop in Malaysia — with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations — due to bad weather.
⬇️ Shekel Slump: The New Israeli Shekel fell to 3.84 against the dollar, the currency’s lowest level in three years.
🇬🇧 London ‘Bridges’: Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel met with several exiled Iranian activists in London in a bid “to build bridges and to pass messages to the Iranian regime that the Iranian people are not giving up their freedom,” according to a source close to the minister.
👮 Tightening the Screws: Iranian security forces on Wednesday detained Mahsa Amini’s uncle, as the country’s leaders tighten measures to prevent dissent in advance of the one-year anniversary of Amini’s death on Sept. 16.
🚢 Oil Smuggling: A Greek shipping company admitted that it transported almost 1 million barrels of crude oil from Iran in an attempt to smuggle it to China, before it agreed to transfer it to the U.S. for seizure, newly unsealed court papers show.
🇮🇷🇸🇦 Warming Relations: Iran and Saudi Arabia exchanged ambassadors this week, marking the official restoration of ties after a seven-year rift.
➡️ Transition: Jennifer Bell, most recently the communications director for Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), is joining the American Jewish Committee as director of media engagement.
🕯️ Remembering: Jeremy Jones, a prominent leader of the Australian Jewish community, died yesterday.
Pic of the Day
The Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C., hosted a reception last night for Rosh Hashanah, featuring remarks by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Ambassador Michael Herzog.
“The relationship is strong. Israel is strong. The United States is strong. But we have challenges moving forward,” Cardin said. “There are threats to the Jewish state’s survival. There are threats to the Jewish people’s survival.” Cardin highlighted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel and the United Nations Human Rights Council as particular threats, while arguing that further regional normalization “is in all of our best interest for our future.”
The catering menu was inspired by the “nine symbols” of the holiday. Guests included Senior Advisor for Regional Integration Dan Shapiro, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, Domestic Policy Council Director Neera Tanden and Washington Wizards star Deni Avdija.
Author of three New York Times bestsellers and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon turns 50…
Palm Beach, Fla., resident and former national board member of AIPAC, the school at the Westchester (N.Y.) Jewish Center bears her name, Beverly Cannold turns 98… Considered one of the “Founding Mothers” of NPR, she is now a special correspondent on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Susan Stamberg turns 85… Member of the U.K.’s House of Lords, he was a managing director of Marks and Spencer and is active in many Jewish charities, Baron Andrew Zelig Stone turns 81… Longtime political columnist for Time magazine and author of the novel Primary Colors, Joe Klein turns 77… Color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts along with John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman turns 77… Former national political editor at the Washington Post, Maralee Schwartz… Owner and CEO of Gristedes Foods, John Catsimatidis turns 75… Pulitzer Prize-winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, now director of literary journalism at UC-Irvine, Barry E. Siegel turns 74… Minneapolis-area school counselor and language arts teacher, Sandra Sevig… Russian-born professor emeritus in the mathematics department at UCSD, he was formerly a professor at both Yale and University of Chicago, Efim Zelmanov turns 68… Chief rabbi of the U.K., he was knighted by King Charles III as part of the 2023 New Year Honours, Rabbi Sir Ephraim Yitzchak Mirvis turns 67…
Global co-chair of the Israel practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins, Stuart Kurlander… Bahraini ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 until 2013, after the prior four years in the Bahraini Parliament, both firsts for a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo turns 59… Personal finance journalist and CEO of the multimedia company HerMoney, Jean Sherman Chatzky turns 59… Vice provost at Yeshiva University, author and a community scholar for Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston, N.J., Dr. Erica Brown turns 57… Award-winning special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of six best-selling books, Gregory Zuckerman turns 57… Part-owner of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the NFL’s Washington Commanders and MLB’s Cleveland Guardians, David S. Blitzer turns 54… Tax partner with RSM US LLP, where he serves as the national family office enterprise markets leader, Benjamin Berger… Screenwriter, producer and director of many successful films and TV shows, Alex Kurtzman turns 50… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Shomrei Emunah, Rabbi Binyamin Y. Marwick… Legislative director for Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), Eric B. Kanter…