Good Tuesday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we have the scoop on a call from more than 100 members of Congress urging the Biden administration to take action against Hamas’ regional enablers, and talk to GOP donors about former President Donald Trump’s upcoming appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Walter Russell Mead, Yair Rosenberg and Karen Sasahara.
President Joe Biden will travel to Israel and Jordan tomorrow, the White House announced last night. More on his trip below.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is traveling to Israel today for a “solidarity mission,” she announced, which will include meetings with Israeli officials and individuals from the communities targeted in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.
In addition to Hochul, who represents the largest Jewish community outside of Israel, Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, who leads U.S. Central Command, arrived in the country earlier today for an unannounced visit to meet with top Israeli military officials.
The Knesset opened its winter session on Monday with a moment of silence for the over 1,400 people murdered by Hamas and, in an unusual step, a prayer for IDF soldiers led by Yom Kippur War hero and former MK Avigdor Kahalani. The first plenary meeting after a three-month recess was repeatedly interrupted by an air raid siren, as Hamas launched rockets at Jerusalem, Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov reports.
The meeting was entirely focused on the war, both in speeches and, in keeping with the emergency coalition agreement, in legislation. The legislature’s first vote was on postponing the municipal elections meant to be held across the country at the end of this month to January.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog focused on the united front being put up by Israelis following the Oct. 7 attacks: “Everyone talks about complexity, but this moment is not a complex moment. There is good — total good — and there is total evil. There is light and there is darkness. The entire nation — all of it — stands today behind the forces of light, behind the IDF and our security forces, while they are defending our land and risking their lives with the goal of destroying total evil and darkness, with God’s help.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out the goals of the war: “total victory over Hamas, demolishing its regime and removing its threat to the State of Israel once and for all.”
With regard to anger at his government over intelligence lapses and its slow response to victims’ needs, Netanyahu promised that “we will investigate everything to the end, and we have already implemented lessons learned immediately. But now we are focused on one goal: to unite our forces and rush forward to victory.”
Netanyahu compared Hamas to ISIS and the Nazis, relaying a message to “our friends in the enlightened world: Our war is your war. If we do not stand together, they will reach you, too.”
As for Iran and Hezbollah, Netanyahu said: “Don’t test us in the north. Don’t repeat the mistake you already made, because today the price you will pay will be much higher.”
In his speech, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid was optimistic that Israel would come out stronger from this tragedy: “Look back at our history. Every time we had to find the strength within us, we found it. Every time we faced destruction and blood and fire and pillars of smoke, we chose to rebuild and from the destruction we built a better world.”
“Our goal is not to end the war and go back. Our goal is to win the war and be better than what we were. Our goal is to bring back the trust between this house and the citizens of Israel,” Lapid said.
Stateside, amid fears of increased antisemitism domestically following the Hamas attack on Israel, the FBI released its hate crimes data for 2022, showing another drastic increase in antisemitic incidents. Last year, 1,122 hate crimes were reported, up from 817 the year before — even with nearly 25% of agencies participating in the FBI’s data collection program not submitting any hate crimes reports. Anti-Jewish hate crimes again comprised more than half of all religion-based hate crimes nationwide.
The vast majority (775 reports) were for property crimes including vandalism, 358 were for intimidation, 103 were for simple assault and 38 were for aggravated assault.
gaza war: day 11
U.S., Israel to develop plan to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza
Israel and the United States have agreed to develop a plan that will allow humanitarian aid from donor countries and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who is in the region, said in a statement on Monday. Briefing journalists on Tuesday morning, IDF international spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said that there is no humanitarian cease-fire and that all crossings from Israel into the Gaza Strip remained closed. “Changes could happen quickly, so we’ll see where we are later,” he said, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Concerns: Blinken, who confirmed that President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday, said there were some concerns the aid might be seized or destroyed by Hamas but that the U.S. will work with Israel on devising a way to prevent that from happening. If it does, he said, “we’ll be the first to condemn it.”
Hostage video: Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that carried out the brutal attack in Israel’s southern communities on Oct. 7, released for the first time a short video of one of the Israeli hostages captured in the attack, in which more than 1,400 people were killed. In the clip, the young woman is seen receiving medical treatment for what appears to be a broken arm and asks to be repatriated to Israel.
Biden to visit Israel Wednesday as Gaza ground offensive looms
Following a week of escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, President Joe Biden will visit Tel Aviv on Wednesday for a single-day trip that will also include a stop in Amman, Jordan. In Israel, Biden will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; in Jordan, he will hold a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Statement of solidarity: “The president will reaffirm the United States’ solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Monday in Tel Aviv, his final stop on a whirlwind Middle East diplomatic tour. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also visited Israel over the weekend.
On the agenda: Other key agenda items for the trip include learning more about the hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 “so that we can develop policy options” and discussing the “critical need for humanitarian assistance to get into Gaza, as well as the ability for innocent civilians to get out,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, told reporters on Monday night.
Trump preparing to attend RJC summit after criticizing Netanyahu
Former President Donald Trump is expected to make a rare and eagerly anticipated appearance alongside several GOP opponents at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit in Las Vegas next week. But as he prepares to speak at the high-profile donor confab, which he has not addressed in person for four years, an uncomfortable reality is emerging amid fierce bipartisan backlash over his controversial comments on Hamas’ attacks in Israel, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Backlash: In recent days, Trump has faced widespread condemnation from his Republican rivals, many of whom will be in Las Vegas, after he criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, questioned Israel’s intelligence agencies and characterized Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group, as “very smart.”
Damage control: Trump and his allies have sought to walk back his initial remarks, which he delivered to a crowd of supporters in heavily Jewish West Palm Beach last Wednesday. In posts to his Truth Social account, the former president has voiced support for Netanyahu and praised “the skill and determination” of Israel’s military. Trump’s campaign has said his comments were misinterpreted. And a Trump-aligned super PAC recently released a rare defensive TV ad in Iowa underscoring his Middle East policy bona fides.
Evangelical insight: “Between Donald Trump’s fangirling Hamas, and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s obsession with Jewish lasers, I assure you the evangelical community in America would prefer these folks sell their crazy someplace else,” a senior political operative with a national evangelical organization, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, said in a text message to JI on Monday.
Wexner Foundation cuts ties with Harvard over ‘dismal failure’ to condemn Hamas’ terrorist attacks
The Wexner Foundation announced on Monday that it is cutting ties with Harvard University over “the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorists last Saturday,” eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports.
Background: More than 250 Israelis have graduated from the long-standing and prestigious Wexner Foundation Fellowship, which includes a period of study at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. These alumni have often gone on to hold high-ranking positions in the Israeli civil service and in government, including Knesset members, Israel Defense Forces generals, top state prosecutors and others.
Feelings of abandonment: A letter from the foundation to Harvard Board of Overseers severing ties goes on to say that many Israel fellows “feel abandoned” by the university. Signed by the Ohio-based Wexner Foundation’s president, Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, Director General in Israel Ra’anan Avital and chairs Abigail and Leslie Wexner, the letter urges Harvard’s administration to express support for Israel and unequivocally condemn the Hamas terror group as a number of other universities have done.
Lawmakers reject de-escalation, urge strong action against Iran, Qatar, Turkey
A bipartisan group of 113 lawmakers wrote to President Joe Biden rejecting calls for de-escalation and urging him to take strong action against Iran, Qatar and Turkey for their support for Hamas, in the wake of the terrorist group’s brutal attack on Israel, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. The letter, led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Don Bacon (R-NE), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) and Claudia Tenney (R-NY), has 63 Democratic and 50 Republican signatories total. It was sent to Biden yesterday and obtained by JI.
No de-escalation: The letter explicitly rejects calls for de-escalation, which have begun to emerge in some progressive circles, and argues that the U.S. must “stand ready to provide Israel with the resources she needs to defend herself” and “stand by her” until every hostage is freed and Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad “and others complicit” in the attack are “decisively defeated.” The letter argues that, “Premature de-escalation would be a victory for the terrorists, and allow them to continue to threaten Israeli civilians with future attacks.”
Iran angle: It goes on to urge the administration to “take all necessary steps to cut off Iranian funding sources,” including “maximum enforcement of all U.S. sanctions” and “any and all steps” to cut off the Iran-China oil trade. It also calls on Biden to work with European allies to snap back missile and drone sanctions on Iran at the U.N., which are set to expire on Wednesday.
Problematic partners: The letter further calls on the administration to “put significant pressure on Qatar and Türkiye,” two U.S. military partners, to cut off their support for Hamas and expel leadership. It laments that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh “sits comfortably in Qatar” and states that “the country’s links to Hamas and recent statement blaming Israel for the ongoing war are simply unacceptable.” It calls on Qatar and Turkey, which also provides support to Hamas, to “cease all ties with Hamas, and continue to work with the United States to stabilize the region.”
Elsewhere on the Hill: The House Oversight Committee is reportedly preparing to subpoena suspended Iran envoy Rob Malley over the circumstances of the review of his security clearance and suspension from the State Department.
Far-left lawmakers call for Israel cease-fire, breaking with other progressives
Thirteen House Democrats, led by members of the Squad, introduced a resolution on Monday calling on the U.S. to push for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. The statement highlights a division between the larger House progressive movement — which has stopped short of calls for cease-fire — and the far left, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Signatories: Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Andre Carson (D-IN), Summer Lee (D-PA), Delia Ramirez (D-IL), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Jonathan Jackson (D-IL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) are co-sponsoring the cease-fire resolution.
Crossover: More than half of the lawmakers who joined the resolution also signed onto a letter from a large group of House progressives on Friday that urged the Biden administration to caution Israel over its response to the Hamas terrorist attacks, but did not call for de-escalation or a cease-fire. Bush, Tlaib, Jackson and Omar did not join the other letter. But further highlighting how the shocking Hamas attack has scrambled dynamics among House progressives, Watson Coleman, Garcia, Jackson and Velazquez also joined nearly all of their House colleagues on a bipartisan resolution expressing staunch support for Israel and its self-defense and offering additional security assistance to Israel.
At the U.N.: The U.N. Security Council rejected a Russia-led resolution that called for a cease-fire but did not mention Hamas.
New World Order: The Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov explains how the war between Israel and Hamas is shifting the global power balance toward Beijing and Moscow. “But, for now, the war launched by Hamas on Oct. 7 with a brutal attack on Israeli towns and villages that killed some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, is proving a boon for America’s main geopolitical rivals. China, Russia and Iran have long sought to undermine the U.S.-backed international system and are now taking advantage of America’s distraction. ‘What we are seeing is part of a shifting and moving world order,’ said former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who is currently running for Finland’s presidency. ‘When the U.S. leaves power vacuums, someone is going to fill those vacuums.’ To be sure, the U.S. is already back in the Middle East, showcasing its role as the indispensable partner for Israel and key Arab nations with shuttle diplomacy and military deployments — an engagement that enjoys bipartisan support and dissipates some of the isolationist sentiment that has been gaining ground in recent years.” [WSJ]
Moment of Truth: The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg observes how analysts, experts, politicians and the media misjudged Hamas. “Simply put, what Hamas did two weekends ago was not a departure from its past, but the natural culmination of its commitments. The question is not why Hamas did what it did, but why so many people were surprised. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, quick to discern anti-Semitism in any effort to merely label Israeli products from West Bank settlements, somehow overlooked the severity of the genocidal threat growing next door. Journalists like me who cover anti-Semitism somehow failed to take Hamas’s overt anti-Jewish ethos as seriously as we should have. Many international leftists, ostensibly committed to equality and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis alike, somehow missed that Hamas did not share that vision, and in fact was actively working to obliterate it.” [TheAtlantic]
Looking Left: New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait opines about the idea of the illiberal left, and how it has responded to the Hamas terror attacks. “Concepts like this, treating the self-appointed representative of any oppressed group as beyond criticism, are banal on the left. Yet for some progressive Jews, it is shocking to see it extended to the slaughter of babies, even though that is its logical endpoint. The radical rhetoric of decolonization, with its glaring absence of any limiting principles, was not just a rhetorical cover to bully some hapless school administrator into changing the curriculum. Phrases like ‘by any means necessary’ were not just figures of speech. Any means included any means, very much including murder. Both Julia Ioffe and Eric Levitz have pointed out that decolonization logic ignores the fact that half of Israel’s Jewish population does not have European origins and came to Israel after suffering the same ethnic cleansing as the Palestinians. This is correct. But what if it weren’t? If every Israeli Jew descended from Ashkenazi stock, would it be okay to shoot their babies? I realize Eric and Julia don’t think so. That they feel compelled to even contest this point underscores the barbarous premises of their opponents.” [NYMag]
Taking on Tehran: In The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead posits that efforts to constrain Iran have failed in the wake of the Hamas attack. “Even now, Team Biden does not seem to have internalized the reality that the American policy of ‘conciliate to evacuate’ — to develop a U.S.-Iranian détente that would allow the U.S. to reduce its role in the region — remains, as it has since President Obama first began to implement it, a destabilizing force in the Middle East. It has discomfited our friends, disrupted our alliances, emboldened terrorists, and provided Iran’s mullahs with the resources to turn both Hezbollah and Hamas into formidably destructive forces. The cynicism of Iran’s mullahs and their enablers is, in the end, the most shocking. Set aside the Israeli casualties and the blood of innocent Jewish children. Those who claim to rule Iran in God’s name do not care how many Palestinians die in the service of their ambitions. They despise the Sunni faith of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Hamas belongs, and if they could, they would persecute tomorrow the terrorists they arm today.” [WSJ]
Vivek’s Volume: Puck’s Peter Hamby suggests that GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has lost any potential to win the party’s nomination, with Fox News’ Sean Hannity delivering “an early nail in his coffin last week” during an interview about Hamas’ attack on Israel. “If anything, Ramaswamy has made a name for himself by raging against wokeness and supposed left-wing orthodoxies like corporate D.E.I. and E.S.G. initiatives, a jumble of words and letters that have little meaning to everyday voters. Whatever is percolating in the news cycle that day, Vivek will take a swing. But news cycles disappear like an anti-woke fart in the Iowa wind. Ramaswamy has given voters nothing to remember him by, other than his incoherence. The very thing that lent him early hype — his willingness to say anything at Volume 11, in any given moment — is the same thing that’s hurting him the most in the end.” [Puck]
Around the Web
Time-Lew-n: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD) said on Monday night that he is hoping that his committee will be able to vote on Jack Lew’s nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel this week, following Lew’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Headed to the Gulf: The Senate confirmed Karen Sasahara as the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait by a voice vote last night.
Detained Demonstrators: Secret Service officers arrested 49 demonstrators at an IfNotNow protest outside the White House for blocking entrances and attempting to circumvent safety barriers.
Supporting Israel: The U.S. military selected approximately 2,000 troops to potentially deploy to Israel, where they would serve in advisory and medical roles, but not operate as combat soldiers.
Mobile Data:The New York Timesreports on the telephone-tracking system being deployed by the Israeli military to minimize civilian harm as it works to identify and target top Hamas officials in Gaza.
Vision for Gaza: The Atlantic Council’s Tom Warrick, who served in the State Department from 1997 to 2007 and headed post-war planning in Iraq, details in The New York Times what Israel should consider in its handling of post-war Gaza.
CEOs and the Academy: The Free Presslooks at how the business world is responding to the Hamas terror attacks.
Double Standards: The first Ethiopian woman to be crowned Miss Israel, Yityish “Titi” Aynaw, slammed Black Lives Matter activists for failing to support Jews after the massive Hamas terror attack in Israel.
The Newsroom: The Daily Beastreports on intra-newsroom tensions amid efforts to report on the Israel-Hamas war.
Menendez MIA: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was a no-show at his own fundraiser in Puerto Rico.
Speaking My Language: New York City Mayor Eric Adams is using voice-cloning AI technology to create robocalls in Yiddish, Urdu and Mandarin.
Bad Reception: At least six BBC reporters have been taken off-air in response to their social media activity and comments in support of Hamas since the Oct. 7 terror attack. This comes amid a refusal by the network to use the word “terrorist” to describe the individuals who carried out the attack.
Terror in Brussels: Police in Brussels killed a man believed to have killed two Swedish nationals in what authorities are calling a terror attack in Belgium.
Market Watch: Photographer Annie Leibovitz listed her Central Park duplex for $8.6 million.
Remembering: Attorney Margot Polivy, who fought for equal rights for collegiate women in sports, died at 85.
Pic of the Day
The family of Mia Shem, a French-Israeli woman held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, speaks to the press in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Movie and television producer, his films have won eight Academy Awards, Lawrence Bender turns 66…
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit since 1999, Ronald Murray Gould turns 77… Filmmaker and novelist, Michael L. Tolkin turns 73… U.S. district judge for the District of Connecticut since 1994, he took senior status in 2017, Robert Neil Chatigny turns 72… Rochester, N.Y., resident, Peggy Futerman… Number theorist and professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, he wrote a highly critical report on the world’s leading Holocaust deniers, Jeffrey Shallit turns 66… Partner in Becker & Poliakoff, she has been a member of both houses of the Florida legislature, Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff turns 64… Rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University, he is a son of Professor Isadore Twersky and a grandson of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, he also serves as the Rebbe of the Talne Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky turns 63… Northwest regional director of J Street, Andrew Straus turns 63… Professor of economics at Harvard who served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Jeremy Chaim Stein turns 63… Ramsey, N.J.-based licensed professional counselor, Shemsi Prinzivalli… Member of the California State Senate from the 29th district, Josh Newman turns 59… Hedge fund manager and co-founder of AQR Capital Management, Cliff Asness turns 57… Founder of Maniv Investments and Maniv Mobility, Michael Granoff turns 55… U.S. senator (D-NM), Martin Heinrich turns 52… CEO and founder of Crosscut Strategies, Kenneth Baer… Author and staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, Ariel Levy turns 49… Rheumatologist and director of the rehabilitation division of Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates in the D.C. area, Dr. Shari B. Diamond… Head of U.S. public policy at TikTok, Michael Beckerman turns 45… Film and television music composer, Nicholas Britell turns 43… Co-founder and CEO at Merit, Tomer Kagan turns 40… Director of government relations at CARE, Katharine Nasielski… Co-founder and executive director at the Constructive Dialogue Institute, Caroline Mehl… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Dalya Attar turns 33… Senior software engineer at Zocdoc, Adam Greenspan…