👋 Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on the backlash former Rep. Mondaire Jones is receiving over his social media criticism of ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s meeting with Hasidic leaders earlier this year, and spotlight a new anthology that looks at antisemitism over the centuries. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Rep. Nikema Williams, Marty Baron and Helen Mirren.
The House made history yesterday by voting to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the chamber’s speaker. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Eli Crane (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Ken Buck (R-CO), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Bob Good (R-VA), Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) were the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to boot McCarthy. The final vote tally was 216-210.
McCarthy will not run for the speakership again, leaving a leadership vacuum at the top of the increasingly fractious and divided Republican conference as it approaches an election year. The new speaker will help set the future direction of the Republican Party, at a time when former President Donald Trump holds a commanding lead for the GOP presidential nomination and his MAGA brand of politics is ascendant within the party.
Potential replacement speakers floated yesterday run the ideological gamut, and include House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Republican Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-OK), Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern (R-OK) and Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the latter of whom is serving as speaker pro tem until a new speaker is selected. The House will remain leaderless until at least next Wednesday, when it’s set to hold new speaker elections.
Some of the potential candidates, like Jordan, would reflect the party’s sharp move to the populist right in the last decade. Jordan was one of the founding members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus — at a time when it was seen by party leaders as an ideologically extreme nuisance. Now its brand of right-wing antagonism could be in charge of the lower chamber.
McCarthy’s defeat is another reminder that the Republican Party is now moving in a more populist direction — on everything from its outreach to striking autoworkers to support for a more isolationist American foreign policy. Many of the party’s leading figures from the recent past are leaving the political scene: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) just announced his retirement, while former Vice President Mike Pence’s broadside against populism isn’t resonating with today’s GOP voters.
A decade ago, McCarthy himself was touted as part of a new generation of House GOP leadership. All three of those so-called “Young Guns” — McCarthy, former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) — have been rejected by the Republican Party.
McCarthy’s ouster also presents new questions about the future of Ukraine aid. McCarthy was reportedly planning to bring forward a supplemental Ukraine aid measure, but it’s not clear that the next GOP speaker would continue down that path, with a near-majority of the conference in opposition. McCarthy drew parallels between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler during a press conference on Tuesday evening.
Democrats plan to continue supporting Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for the speakership, No. 3 House Democrat Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) told reporters immediately following the vote to oust McCarthy. Some, however, have indicated their willingness to vote for a Republican, in exchange for some concessions.
During a floor speech in support of McCarthy, Stefanik highlighted McCarthy’s support for Israel. Meanwhile, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana said on social media after the vote that McCarthy had done “more than any other [speaker] to strengthen the bond between our legislatures.”
The new speaker will come into office with just weeks to finalize 2024 government funding or pass another stopgap funding bill — the move that ultimately doomed McCarthy — before a new shutdown deadline ahead of Thanksgiving.
Mondaire Jones defends criticism of McCarthy meeting with Hasidic leaders
Former Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) is facing scrutiny over an ambiguously worded post on X, formerly known as Twitter, criticizing ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for meeting with Orthodox Jewish leaders in a Hudson Valley swing district where Jones is now seeking to reclaim his old congressional seat, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Immediate backlash: “Well this was a waste of everyone’s time,” Jones wrote after McCarthy lost his bid to remain as speaker on Tuesday afternoon, sharing a photo of a yarmulke-clad McCarthy courting support from Hasidic leaders last March in Rockland County alongside Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), whom Jones hopes to challenge. The tweet drew immediate backlash from commentators who voiced skepticism over what Jones’ message had meant to imply — with some critics calling his comment disrespectful to the Jewish community.
On the defensive: In a statement to JI on Tuesday evening, Jones defended the tweet and suggested that critics were misreading his remarks. “As I stated in my tweet, Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly wasted the time of Hasidic leaders in the Lower Hudson Valley,” he insisted. “He has never delivered for communities in Rockland and will continue to fail to deliver for Rocklanders because he’s no longer Speaker. By contrast, I have delivered for all communities in Rockland and will continue that track record upon my return to Congress.”
Crucial voting bloc: In recent months, McCarthy has made several pilgrimages to the Hudson Valley as he has sought to build relationships with Orthodox community members in Rockland County, who were largely credited with propelling Lawler to an upset victory over former Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) last cycle. Rockland County, which for now sits entirely within Lawler’s House district, is home to the largest Jewish population per capita of any county in the U.S.
An antisemitism encyclopedia for the masses
A new book on antisemitism has something for everyone — or at least that’s the hope of the editors of the new anthology that delves into the history of the world’s oldest hatred across millennia, on every continent and in all fields of study and culture, reports Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch. With 40 short essays on antisemitism on topics ranging from Argentina to anti-Zionism to art, the volume attempts to offer the final, irrefutable word on a problem that has become deeply segmented and politicized.
Not selective: “There are multiple inroads into the subject,” said the Shoah Foundation’s executive director, Robert Williams, who co-edited the Routledge History of Antisemitism with Hampshire College history professor James Wald and Mark Weitzman, the chief operating officer of the World Jewish Restitution Organization. “People can take a selective approach to analyzing antisemitism, particularly in a highly, highly politicized age, and antisemitism knows no political bounds.”
Modern resource: The book could be used as a resource for policymakers and as an educational tool for college students who have never considered how antisemitism might manifest in their own lives. Instead, many young people mainly learn about antisemitism in the context of the Holocaust, which leaves out its myriad other manifestations in America and around the world.
on the hill
Bipartisan House bill seeks to counter Iranian hostage-taking
A bipartisan House bill introduced on Monday seeks to counter Iran’s practice of taking U.S. hostages, including pushing to bar ransom payments to U.S. adversaries and block U.S. passport holders from visiting Iran, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Deal response: The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East subcommittee, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), a Democratic Iran hawk, comes following the Biden administration’s deal to free U.S. hostages in exchange for Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. and $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds.
What’s inside: The bill would require the administration to formulate a strategy to end Iranian hostage-taking, urge it to bar U.S. passport holders from traveling to Iran, bar sanctioned Iranian officials from visiting the United Nations, strengthen congressional oversight over U.S. sanctions on Iran and the funds involved in the recent deal and urge multilateral cooperation to address sanctions violators, among other steps.
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD)announced a hold on U.S. military aid to Egypt “if it does not take concrete, meaningful, and sustainable steps to improve the human rights conditions in the country.” Cardin said that “Egypt’s stability is in the U.S. national interest, and that interest is best served when the Egyptian government is taking sustainable, concrete, and meaningful steps to improve respect for the human rights of its citizens.”
New Black-Jewish Caucus chair discusses trip to Israel and Rwanda
Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA) said that, on a recent trip to Israel and Rwanda with fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, she saw connections to and took inspiration for work she’s aiming to do as a new co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Collective effort: “Seeing these two countries, nowhere near here, and the resiliency of the people that have been through so much — it only gives me more resolve to continue to fight for justice and equality, not just here domestically but also abroad,” Williams continued. “How do we make sure that we are fighting against oppressive regimes and people who seek to silence the voice of the people?” Williams described the goal of the caucus — recently relaunched in the new Congress by Williams, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX) — as “mak[ing] sure we’re all sticking together when it comes to justice and equality and equity, and making sure that we push back against hate.”
Finding similarities: On the trip, Williams said she was “not anticipating the parallels I would draw” between her experiences in each country, hearing stories from a Holocaust survivor and survivors of the Rwandan genocide. She additionally highlighted Israel’s aid to Rwanda in sustainable technology and agriculture, and said that the U.S. should look into other opportunities to work with Israel to aid other parts of the world. “We often see other countries — especially as an American — doing things to support Israel,” Williams said. “But it was good to see how this has been being expanded to other countries that are experiencing similar traumas in their people.”
🔎 Expert Exposure: The New York Times’ Bret Stephens spotlights concerns over the recently revealed Iran Experts Initiative, an effort by Tehran to build relationships with individuals within the U.S. foreign policy system, several of whom have ties to Rob Malley, the State Department’s Iran envoy whose clearance has been suspended. “It’s true that emails and texts can always be quoted selectively and misleadingly. It’s true that these scholars almost surely saw themselves as pursuing an honorable aim that required them to cultivate relationships with all sides. And it’s true that Iranian officials, in their internal communications, may have been exaggerating the extent to which I.E.I. was a tool in their hands. But what’s damning here wasn’t the scholars’ purpose, which was in line, overall, with U.S. foreign policy. It wasn’t even the appearance of taking direction from a despotic regime. It’s the lack of transparency. Readers of their opinion essays deserved to know from them about their links to I.E.I. and its masters in Tehran. Full transparency was also owed to their think-tank funders, academic deans, newspaper and magazine editors and the government. Without it, honest advocacy becomes malign influence peddling.” [NYTimes]
🐘 Grand Old Problem: In The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein observes the dynamics within the Republican Party that led to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) ouster on Tuesday night. “Yet McCarthy’s removal also underscored how the incentives in the modern GOP coalition now almost entirely push in one direction: toward greater conflict with Democrats and the embrace of polarizing policies that reflect the priorities and grievances of the GOP base. It’s no coincidence that critics accused McCarthy of not fighting hard enough for conservative demands at the same moment Trump and the other 2024 GOP presidential contestants are advancing militant ideas once considered politically radioactive, such as deploying the U.S. military into Mexico to attack drug cartels, ending birthright citizenship for the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, ripping up civil-service protections for government workers, and dispatching the National Guard into blue cities to fight crime.” [TheAtlantic]
🗳️ Forever Youngkin: Puck’s Peter Hamby weighs in on rumors that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin could enter the 2024 Republican presidential primary. “Maybe I have an edge here as a Richmonder, but it took me about 20 minutes last week to make a quick round of texts and phone calls to the right people who assured me of the obvious reality that Youngkin will not, in fact, be making a run for President of the United States. There are no plans. He will not be drafted. ‘He’s gotta win the round of 32 before thinking about the final 4,’ one of those Republicans told me, pointing out that Youngkin is only 56 years old, and will be able to run for president one day if he wants, when Trump is in a wheelchair and slurping down blended Big Macs through a straw. ‘He’s a young man not in a hurry. He’s got unbelievable favorability and is racking up wins in a purple state.’ Youngkin has been governor of a state for 19 months.” [Puck]
📖 Baron’s Book: Politico’s Jack Shafer reviews former Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron’s new book about the newspaper and politics. “Except for a few admissions about his taciturn personal style and a brief account of his hereditary medical woes, Baron shies from sharing any interior views that would illuminate his successes. No bragging. No false modesty about owing it all to the wonderful people who worked for him, either. No memorable aphorisms outside of, ‘We’re not at war with the [Trump] administration, we’re at work.’ He offers less insight on his method than a truck driver would in a first-person podcast about his Chicago to Los Angeles run. Instead, Baron gestures to mile-post after mile-post of superb work. If Baron doesn’t explicitly spell out his formula, we can still glean it from the principles of journalism that have guided his work and which he discusses at the book’s end. The mystery of Marty Baron turns out not to be much of a mystery at all.” [Politico]
🍕 Portnoy and Pizza:The New York Times’ Kevin Butler and Amelia Nierenberg spotlight Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who uses his platform to review pizza joints around the country. “Austin Purkey, 29, watches every one of Mr. Portnoy’s one-bite reviews. ‘I’ve been fan-girling over him for so long, with the pizza,’ said Mr. Purkey, who said he is into sports gambling and has followed Barstool Sports for about three years. When Mr. Portnoy began the pizza project on a lark a decade ago, he laid out his reviewing philosophy in one of the first posts. ‘To do a real pizza review, you gotta eat it fresh, like I just picked it up,’ Mr. Portnoy says in the video. ‘You can’t drive it. You gotta take a bite, and it’s gotta be instant, like word association.’ This methodology has held sway ever since. At pizzerias from Las Vegas to the Lower East Side, he shows up with a videographer, buys a pizza, walks outside and eats a slice, sometimes with a nervous owner hovering nearby. After a few minutes of bites and banter, Mr. Portnoy renders his verdict, on a scale from zero to 10 that includes decimals.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🎤 First Interview: Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-CA) gave her first interview after being sworn in as senator, touching on her work for Uber and whether she will seek a full term next year.
💻 Meta-morphosis: Campbell Brown is stepping down as head of media partnerships at Meta, six years after she joined the company.
🎒 School Shuttering: Schechter Manhattan is shuttering its campus at the end of this academic year, telling parents that it is “planning and working towards joining forces” with a nearby Reform Jewish school, leaving only one Conservative Jewish day school across New York’s five boroughs.
⚖️ In the Courts: Three of the men involved in an attack on a Jewish man at a pro-Israel rally in Times Square in 2021 pleaded guilty to second-degree assault as a hate crime.
🏒 Penalty Box: The University of Michigan’s hockey team removed from its roster a player who was identified as having defaced property near the college’s Jewish Resource Center.
🎓 Campus Beat: Administrators at the University of Pennsylvania plan to review the school’s procedures for outside groups looking to host events on campus, following last month’s Palestine Writes conference, which included a number of speakers who have espoused antisemitic tropes.
🎶 Musician’s Moment: The New York Times spotlights Bradley Cooper’s efforts to immerse himself in the world of Leonard Bernstein, whom he portrays in the upcoming biopic “Maestro.”
🎞️ Casting Controversy: Actress Helen Mirren said she offered to step away from the starring role in “Golda” if director Guy Nattiv thought it would be a problem that she was not Jewish.
🇨🇦 Northern Exposure: Canada’s governor general issued an apology for the past awarding of one of the country’s top honors — akin to the U.S. Medal of Freedom — to a former University of Alberta chancellor who fought in a Nazi SS unit in Ukraine during WWII, amid controversy over Ottawa’s honoring of another man who fought in the same unit.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: London mayoral candidate Susan Hall, who is not Jewish, is facing criticism for saying that the city’s Jewish community is “frightened” by Mayor Sadiq Khan.
📚 Teaching History: Romania, which was allied with Nazi Germany during WWII, will teach about the Holocaust in its school curricula, with Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu saying it is important for the country “not [to be] hiding the dark parts of history and those who created them.”
😡 Bad Behavior: A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office condemned an incident this week in Jerusalem’s Old City in which Haredi Jews were filmed spitting on the ground next to a procession of Christian worshippers.
🛫 Sojourn from Seoul: Samsung Electronics chief Lee Jae-yong is visiting Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia, a year after his visit to an Emirati nuclear power plant after assuming the chairmanship.
🏇 Tehran’s Take: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Saudi Arabia would be “betting on a losing horse” if Riyadh were to normalize ties with Israel.
💼 Promotion: The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman was promoted to senior editor and elections analyst.
💍 Mazal Tov: Blackstone’s Alex Katz and CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean got engaged at Los Angeles’ Beverly Hills Hotel. h/t Politico Playbook
Pic of the Day
Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi (center) participates in Shacharit services in Saudi Arabia this week. Karhi was in the Gulf state to attend the Universal Postal Union’s 2023 Extraordinary Congress.
Publisher of lifestyle magazines including Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado, Marvin R. Shanken turns 80…
Former lieutenant governor of Maryland for eight years after 20 years in the Maryland Senate, Melvin A. “Mickey” Steinberg turns 90… Senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, his father served as a rabbi in Brooklyn for 35 years, Judge Robert David Sack turns 84… Executive editor of the Los Angeles Times until 2020 after a long journalism career, Norman Pearlstine turns 81… Chairman of the executive committee at the University of Haifa, he was Israel’s negotiator in the Middle East peace process during the term of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weissglass turns 77… Actor and past president of the Screen Actors Guild, Alan Rosenberg turns 73… President of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Steven A. Rakitt… Retired deputy chief of staff for U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Nathan Steven Bergerbest… Director of the Israeli Government Press Office, Nitzan Chen turns 60… Canadian businessman, producer and impresario, Aubrey Dan turns 60… Actor, director, screenwriter and producer, Liev Schreiber turns 56… Actor and voice actor, Abraham Benrubi turns 54… Meteorologist at New York City’s WABC-TV, Lee Goldberg turns 51… Film, television and stage actress, Alicia Silverstone turns 47… Former MLB pitcher, he is now the director of international scouting for the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization, Ryan Sadowski turns 41… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Ron Katz turns 38… Senior director of people and culture at Leading Edge HQ following 11 years at Hillel International, Sara Stesis Singla… Policy and legislative analyst at AIPAC, Gefen G. Kabik… Gun violence prevention advocate and political advisor, Matt Deitsch turns 26…