👋 Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we look at efforts to primary Rep. Jamaal Bowman, and spotlight two women hoping to increase Jewish representation in Georgia’s state legislature. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Daniel Rothbart, Tevi Troy and Lise Meitner.
Two of the most prominent anti-Israel lawmakers in Congress — Reps. Summer Lee (D-PA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), both affiliated with the left-wing Squad — are now facing growing political problems back home, Jewish Insider Editor-in-Chief Josh Kraushaar writes.
Bowman, who first won election in 2020 by unseating a sitting incumbent, is facing heat for pulling a fire alarm in a House office building Saturday before Congress was scheduled to vote on a government funding bill. If a United States Capitol Police investigation reveals he pulled the alarm to interfere with congressional voting, he could face legal consequences.
And on Monday, he dug himself a deeper hole after his office referred to certain Republican colleagues as “Nazi members” in a list of talking points that his office sent to deflect questions about the fire alarm incident. Bowman then said the memo’s reference to Nazis was inappropriate, and that he “condemn[s] the use of the term Nazi out of its precise definition.”
Even though his district is solidly Democratic, Bowman won renomination last year with only 54% of the vote. His Westchester County-based district is home to a sizable Jewish constituency.
Bowman’s bizarre personal behavior — on top of his role as one of Israel’s leading antagonists in the House — could end up incentivizing a credible primary challenge. (New York is also facing the possibility of another congressional redistricting process, which could also impact his reelection chances.)
Popular Westchester County Executive George Latimer has been mulling a run against Bowman, even as the obstacles to taking on an incumbent are steep. But Bowman’s own self-inflicted wounds could change the political dynamic. Read more below about Bowman’s political standing back home in a new report from JI’s Matthew Kassel.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Summer Lee will be facing a credible primary challenge from Edgewood Borough Councilmember Bhavini Patel, who announced her candidacy on Monday.
Touting an inspirational immigrant success story, Patel said she’s trying to be a more unifying candidate than Lee, who has positioned herself on the far-left wing of the Democratic Party. “We need a leader who wants to bring people together to get things done, not divide us,” Patel said in a statement announcing her candidacy.
Earlier this year, Lee declined to attend a speech by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to a joint session of Congress, and voted against a bipartisan resolution of support for the Jewish state. Patel told Pittsburgh’s NPR affiliate that she would have attended Herzog’s speech, and noted that his address memorialized the victims of the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting.
“He was here during a very difficult time for our region,” Patel said. “Even if we are fundamentally in disagreement with some leaders, I think it’s important to attend those speeches.”
And in Israel, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid announced on Monday that his Yesh Atid party will hold a leadership primary in December — its first since its founding in 2012. Former Mossad Deputy Director Ram Ben-Barak, who has been a Yesh Atid MK since 2019, said he would run against Lapid, JI’s Lahav Harkov writes.
The criteria for candidates are that they legally can be prime minister, have been a party member for at least three years and have not been convicted or indicted of a crime related to moral turpitude.
While it seems unlikely that anyone could replace Lapid at the helm of the party he created in his own image, the leadership primary draws attention to the fact that many of the parties that oppose the current government in the name of protecting democracy are led by self-selected individuals who appoint Knesset candidates. The three parties currently in the legislature that hold primaries are Likud and National Union in the coalition, and Labor in the opposition. Unlike those parties, Yesh Atid does not plan to hold a primary to select members of its list for the next Knesset. In addition, those parties allow all of their paying members to vote, while Yesh Atid primary voters will be the 700 members of the party convention, who were selected by the party’s Lapid-controlled institutions.
The party’s founding documents said it would hold a vote for the leadership in 2020, and Ofer Shelah, a senior lawmaker in the party and a longtime personal friend of Lapid, demanded to be allowed to run. Lapid refused and Shelah was removed from the party WhatsApp group; the MK then quit and made an aborted attempt to run as the head of his own independent party.
Bowman faces renewed vulnerability back home after pulling fire alarm
The fallout over Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s (D-NY) questionable decision to pull a House fire alarm on Saturday is fueling ongoing recruitment efforts among Jewish and pro-Israel activists to enlist a credible challenger to run in next year’s June primary election, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
‘Very beatable’: The incident has brought renewed attention to George Latimer, the popular Westchester County executive, who has previously met with AIPAC about launching a campaign. Latimer, a veteran Democratic legislator, has long delayed publicly revealing his plans for the race, even as AIPAC officials remain convinced that he is the best candidate to oppose Bowman, according to a local Jewish activist familiar with the pro-Israel group’s thinking. “They think he’s very beatable, even more so in the last few days,” the activist said.
Increased pressure: Pro-Israel advocates are increasing pressure on Latimer as Bowman faces scrutiny for activating the alarm before lawmakers approved a stopgap funding bill over the weekend. It is unclear if Latimer, who did not respond to a request for comment, will enter the race as he remains undecided on a challenge, according to sources familiar with his thinking. The county executive is unlikely to reveal his plans before mid-November, when New York’s highest court will hear arguments on whether the state’s House lines should be redrawn, he confirmed to Politico on Monday.
Trip to Israel: One upcoming event suggests that Latimer could be priming himself for an eventual House bid. At the end of November, the county executive is expected to join a delegation of local elected officials who will be visiting Israel on a trip sponsored by the Westchester Jewish Council, according to sources familiar with his plans.
peach state politics
Two Jewish Dems seek to capitalize on Georgia’s leftward tilt in 2024
In the last four years, Georgia has experienced a remarkable political evolution — from a Deep South state represented by two white Republicans in the U.S. Senate to a hotly contested political battleground now represented by two Democratic senators, one Black and one Jewish. The diversity of the state’s federal delegation is only just starting to trickle down to its state legislature, where there is only one Jewish lawmaker — despite the Atlanta metropolitan area boasting one of the largest Jewish communities in the country. Two Jewish Democrats hope to change that next year by challenging powerful Republicans in the state’s General Assembly, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Slow movement: Both Susie Greenberg and Debra Shigley face long odds. But their decision to enter tough races in Atlanta’s traditionally conservative suburbs — while proudly flaunting their Jewish identity at a time of rising antisemitism in the Peach State — signals a change in the state’s political trajectory. “We’re beginning to see some integration and some diversity inside the Statehouse, just like we’re seeing at the congressional level. It seems like we should be further along. But nonetheless, it’s happening,” said Adrienne Jones, a political science professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Jonesing for an upset: Shigley, an employment attorney, is challenging Rep. Jan Jones, the No. 2 Republican in the General Assembly who ran unopposed last year and in 2020 beat a Democratic opponent by more than 20 points. That opponent — Anthia Carter — is also running in the Democratic primary, seeking a rematch against Jones in the 47th District, located north of Atlanta. “Our legislature should look like the state of Georgia,” Shigley told JI. “With more Jewish representation, the Jewish community in Georgia has a stronger voice in their own government.”
Going Greenberg: Greenberg has a better shot at unseating state Rep. Deborah Silcox, who lost a 2020 reelection bid by fewer than 400 votes but narrowly won election to a different district last year. Greenberg, an activist who runs a college consulting business, decided to run for office after last year’s Dobbs decision reversing Roe v. Wade led to Georgia’s adoption of a ban on abortions after six weeks. (Silcox voted against the bill.) “I’ve always been involved as a legislative advocate from, I guess, the onset of the 2016 presidential election, when it became very clear that women and reproductive rights were under assault,” Greenberg told JI in an interview. After Dobbs, she said, “it got me thinking, ‘I have to do more. I’m fed up.’”
From New York to Ramle – modern art in an ancient setting puts Israeli city on the map
The mixed Jewish-Arab city of Ramle, which sits about halfway between the bustling metropolises of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, is not the most obvious place for an international art exhibition. Yet for New York-based sculptor, artist and author Daniel Rothbart, whose multidisciplinary compositions aim to draw attention to the human role in the global environmental crisis, the city’s subterranean Pool of Arches was the perfect location for his latest installation, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Location, location, location: Rothbart, who has installed his surreal, floating works of art in water sites around the world, including in the Hudson River, told JI that he discovered the ancient underground reservoir quite by accident and knew immediately he had found a place for his artwork. “It was COVID-19, and everything was shut down, who knew what was going on with the world — but in my mind, I wanted to go to Israel,” Rothbart, an author of three books, including Jewish Metaphysics as Generative Principle in American Art, told JI in an interview last month on the eve of the opening of his “RamleAnthroposcene” exhibition.
Reflecting history: Working in the water, beneath the 36 stone arches that lend the place its name, Rothbart assembled his sculptures, which are anchored with weights but move freely with the water’s light ripples. The contemporary shapes of his works, which are located in two corners of the underground reservoir and strung up from above, form a kind of mystical marriage with the historic style of the medieval site, which was built some 1,233 years ago by the region’s Muslim rulers. Rothbart explained that his sculptures are about life and are meant to reflect the relationship of humans to the ecosystem. “For me, the sculptures call to mind these ancient, prehistoric animals or sea creatures that might have existed when Israel was covered with ocean water millions of years ago, or insects or something that is not human,” he continued.
🌎 Eye on 2024: In The Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead predicts what to expect with regard to U.S. foreign policy should former President Donald Trump win another term. “A second Trump term would see continuities as well. After grumbling and resistance, the Biden administration has embraced the essence of Mr. Trump’s approach to important leaders such as the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, the president of Turkey and the prime ministers of Israel and India. A brief but expensive era of name-calling and vainglorious human-rights posturing has been replaced by pragmatic bargaining. Trumpian indifference to human rights and democracy could also affect relations with governments like the military rulers of Myanmar. For many decades, foreign governments have tried to curry favor in Washington through developing business relationships with friends, associates and at times relatives of American presidents. The interest of many Trump associates in lucrative business arrangements is as well known overseas as Hunter Biden’s interest in ‘consulting.’ The profoundly corrosive and damaging erosion of norms around presidential conflicts of interest will continue and perhaps accelerate in a second Trump term.” [WSJ]
🗳️ Second Term Talk: In the Washington Examiner, Tevi Troy looks at the historical precedent for U.S. presidents to forgo — or continue with — bids for second terms, despite concerns surrounding health and age, amid mounting concerns over President Joe Biden’s decision to seek a second term. “So much of this history relates to the situation in which Biden finds himself now. Sure, he has already announced a run, but others have dropped out later in the process. The question of presidential indecision ‘freezing the field’ is a concern as well. Presumably, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) would enter the field if Biden balked at running again, as would Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), among others. As for the vice president question, Kamala Harris has underperformed and is unpopular, which may be a reason that Biden has not stepped aside. But Biden running again at 82 only increases the likelihood that Harris could end up as president. As Eisenhower learned, it is difficult to have a decision-making process with the vice president and successor lurking in place.” [WashingtonExaminer]
🤝 Diplomatic Dealmaking: CNN’s Nadeen Ebrahim explores what a potential security agreement between the U.S. and Gulf states could look like as part of a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. “Saudi Arabia and the UAE are likely asking for a comprehensive treaty, similar to that signed with Japan and South Korea, said Jean-Loup Samaan, a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore…. They may also be asking that Washington ease access to arms sales and potentially increase the US military presence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, he added, potentially to match the presence in Qatar or Bahrain. It is however unclear if the US would commit to a treaty that would require it to come to the Gulf states’ defense in case of attack. ‘This can only be conferred through a Senate-ratified treaty,’ said David Des Roches, a professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Security Studies and former Pentagon official who worked on the Middle East. ‘In the absence of a true breakthrough (such as Saudi recognition of Israel), it’s hard to see the Biden administration presenting any treaty, even a weaker commitment… to the Senate,’ Des Roches told CNN. The president can offer some concessions without Senate ratification, he said, but that won’t meet Gulf states’ requirements.” [CNN]
👩🔬 A Woman’s Worth: The New York Times’ Katrina Miller spotlights Jewish nuclear physicist Lise Meitner, whose contributions to the field — she was nominated for a Nobel Prize dozens of times but never won — were overlooked due to both her gender and religion. “When the men at the Institute were drafted during World War I, Meitner was given her own physics lab and the title of professor, a position that granted her recognition and the independence to pursue her own research. But outside the realm of science, the walls were closing in. Antisemitism was on the rise, and in 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Many Jewish scientists left the country, but Meitner stayed, thinly protected by her Austrian citizenship and keen to hang on to the rare opportunity for a woman to conduct scientific research. ‘I love physics with all my heart,’ she wrote in a letter to a friend. ‘I can hardly imagine it not being part of my life.’ In 1938, Germany invaded Austria, leaving Meitner subject to the full extent of the Nazi regime. She opted to flee. The Nobel physics laureate Niels Bohr arranged for her to escape by train.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
💥 Gaetz v. McCarthy: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed a motion to vacate, the first step toward his attempt to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
🎤 On Record: Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly released a statement heavily critical of Donald Trump, saying, among other things, that the former president was “not truthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women.”
💰 Show Him the Money: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced a third-quarter fundraising haul of $6.4 million.
🔎 Menendez’s Man:The New York Timesdoes a deep dive into the background of Egyptian-American businessman Wael Hana, who was indicted alongside Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on charges of bribery, amid questions over his political connections in Cairo.
🚰 No-Man’s-Land: Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs said the state will not renew leases on land that had been used by a Saudi company to pump groundwater for use for cattle feed.
✍️ Blog Bluster: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is looking into whether legal action can be taken against a local school board candidate who maintains an antisemitic blog.
✉️ Stamp of Approval: The U.S. Postal Service released its newest “Forever” stamp, which bears the image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, three years after her death.
💻 Tech Talk: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon predicted that AI will dramatically shorten the standard workweek and extend the average lifespan by decades over the next several generations.
💸 Sports Pickup: Jeff Zucker’s Redbird IMI is buying a stake in Front Office Sports.
⚖️ X in Court: A Jewish man is suing Elon Musk for defamation after the X owner amplified accounts on the platform that incorrectly tied the man to a neo-Nazi fight in Oregon.
🎶 Lasting Lyrics: The Wall Street Journal revisits “Supper Time,” 90 years after the show tune, penned by Irving Berlin, was first performed by Ethel Waters on Broadway.
🎓 Tainted Gifts: The University of Alberta is reviewing its past donations following calls to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in endowments tied to the names of Ukrainians in Canada who are believed to have served in the Waffen SS Galicia Nazi unit; the Canadian university has already returned a $30,000 from the family of a former Nazi soldier who received a standing ovation in Parliament.
✈️ Diplomatic Endeavor: Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi is in Riyadh with an Israeli delegation attending a conference, the second Israeli minister ever to make a public trip to the Gulf nation, following the visit of Tourism Minister Haim Katz last week.
⚽ Pitch Protest: Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad soccer club refused to play an away match against Iran’s Sepahan team, citing the statues of slain Iranian Gen. Qassem Solemani and other Iranian military figures on the sidelines of the pitch.
💼 Transition: J Street chief lobbyist Dylan Williams is joining the Center for International Policy as vice president for government affairs.
Pic of the Day
Life imitated art when “Fauda” star Tzachi Halevy volunteered with the Israeli Border Police in Lod, Israel, where they were conducting a real-life raid on a weapons depot.
Venture capitalist and political strategist, Bradley Tusk turns 50…
Syndicated radio show host and author, Michael Medved turns 75… Senior advisor at FTI Consulting, she is a former five-term member of Congress (D-PA), Allyson Young Schwartz turns 75… Professor of physics at Rutgers, he was named a MacArthur Genius Fellow in 1987, Daniel Friedan turns 75… Co-founder and owner of Covenant Wines, Jeff Morgan turns 70… Westport, Conn.-based holistic health coach, Orna Stern… Lisa Gordon Leff… Global head of music for Google / YouTube, Lyor Cohen turns 64… President of The Ferber Company, P. Shields Ferber, Jr.… Member of the Texas House of Representatives, Craig Goldman turns 55… Director of redevelopment at LivCor, a Blackstone Company, Daniel Marks Cohen… Art collector and dealer, who together with his father and brother are reputed to own $5 billion of art including over 1,000 pieces by Andy Warhol, David Mugrabi turns 52… Investor and talent agent whose clients include Madonna and U2, author of Jews Who Rock regarding Jewish influences on the music industry, Guy Oseary turns 51… Longtime congregational rabbi in N.Y. and N.J. and author of We’re Almost There, Rabbi Dovid M. Cohen… Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, Eli Cohen turns 51… Reporter for the Washington Post focused on political enterprise and investigations, Rosalind S. Helderman turns 45… Longtime guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a 2012 inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Josh Klinghoffer turns 44… Executive director at the Jewish Book Council, Naomi Firestone-Teeter… Rabbi at The Altneu Synagogue in Manhattan, Benjamin Goldschmidt… Argentina desk officer at the U.S. Department of State, Juan Gilces Coronel… Actor since early childhood, Noah Cameron Schnapp turns 19…