Good Monday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report from the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual conference in Las Vegas, and look at Sen. John Fetterman’s position on the Israel-Hamas war. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: David Remnick, Lisa Silverstein and Michael Bloomberg.
“Globalize the Intifada.” For years a rallying cry on the fringes of college campuses and among the furthest-left anti-Israel activists, those three words took on new meaning this weekend, from large-scale marches through London, to an attempt to lynch Israeli and Jewish passengers landing at a Russian airport and at top American educational institutions such as Cornell University, where the Jewish dining hall was put on lockdown following threats and Jewish students hid after multiple death threats, Jewish Insider’s Executive Editor Melissa Weiss reports.
The growing calls for violence against Israel — and Jews — in the weeks since the Oct. 7 attack and the escalation of the Israel-Hamas war have put Jewish communities across the globe on high alert — and on edge.
Hours after reports began to circulate of hundreds of rioters swarming the Makhachkala Uytash Airport in the Russian province of Dagestan, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt condemned “the violent protests that have been reported in Russia threatening Israelis and Jews. We call on Russian authorities to ensure their safety. The U.S. stands with Israel and the entire Jewish community as we see a surge in antisemitism throughout the world. There is no excuse for targeting Jews or engaging in antisemitic incitement anywhere.”
That “anywhere” includes American college campuses. Last night in Ithaca, N.Y., Jewish students sheltered in their dorms as anonymous threats against the school’s Jewish community and Jewish life center were posted on a Cornell student discussion forum.
“If I see another pig baby jew I will behead you in front of your parents,” read one post on the online forum. “If I see another synagogue another rally for the zionist global genocidal apartheid dictatorial entity known as ‘Israel’, I will bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig jews.”
Hours after the posts began circulating on social media, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that New York State Police were investigating the “disgusting & hateful posts.” She added that she had had conversations with private school administrations as well as leaders of New York’s extensive public university system, during which, she said, she “reiterated our strong belief in free speech and the right to peaceful assembly, but made clear that we will have zero tolerance for acts of violence or those who intimidate and harass others through words or actions.”
Former White House senior advisor Jared Kushner weighed in on the current situation on college campuses, telling Fox News from Riyadh that “as an American Jew, you’re safer in Saudi Arabia right now than you are on a college campus like Columbia University.”
In New York on Saturday, the Brooklyn Bridgewas shut down by an estimated 7,000 anti-Israel protestors participating in a demonstration — titled the “Flood Brooklyn for Gaza” march, a reference to “Al Aqsa Flood,” the name that Hamas gave to the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel — that began in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) posted on X that the “explosion of worldwide antisemitism in this moment requires all decent people from all parts of the political spectrum, and holding whatever view they may on this war, to stop and condemn this scourge of plain hatred.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), who like Nadler is Jewish, noted that “[b]eing dismissive of antisemitism doesn’t make you politically edgy. It makes you terrible.”
In London, tens of thousands of protestors — some estimates from British police put the number at 100,000 — took to the streets to demonstrate against Israel. Signage at the protest ranged from calling for a ceasefire to the oft-used “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a slogan generally understood to mean a call for the elimination of Israel.
In New Orleans near Tulane University, which has a student body that is more than 40% Jewish, a pro-Palestinian rally spiraled out of control on Thursday afternoon and led to violence, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports for Jewish Insider. According to video footage posted on X, and confirmed by two Jewish Tulane students who did not want their full names used, two men, one of them masked, drove through the protest in a pickup truck waving a Palestinian flag. One of the men attempted to set an Israeli flag on fire.
Trump receives enthusiastic reception at RJC’s annual summit
There were only a few MAGA hats amid a sea of kippahs at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit on Saturday in Las Vegas. But if there was any doubt that former President Donald Trump had fallen from favor among the majority of conservative donors and activists gathered in a packed ballroom of the Venetian Resort, the sustained applause he received while taking the stage quickly put such speculation to rest. “I love Israel,” Trump declared over cheers from the crowd of 1,500 attendees, before repeating himself. “I love Israel.” The rapturous greeting underscored the pull that Trump continues to exert on Jewish Republicans who remain grateful for his record of backing pro-Israel causes — even as he has faced recent condemnation for criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calling Hezbollah “very smart” in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports.
Checklist: Fred Zeidman, a top GOP donor and RJC board member who is supporting former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, told JI that he was “shocked” by the crowd’s response to Trump. “I had no idea how people would respond to him,” he said. “It was controversial enough, particularly after his comments” — which Haley had sharply criticized right before Trump’s appearance. “He gave his check-the-box list and got tremendous ovations for that,” Zeidman said of Trump’s speech.
Front-runner: The overwhelmingly positive reaction to Trump — who made a rare appearance alongside some of his GOP rivals — also indicated that RJC leadership is coming to terms with the likelihood that he will again be the Republican Party’s nominee, as polls show him dominating the primary field.
Bonus: Kassel interviewed former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), the RJC’s national chairman, on Friday, discussing the stakes of the event and weighing in on President Joe Biden’s approach to the war in Gaza, among other issues. “There’s a heaviness that hangs over this event,” Coleman said, noting that he could not recall a summit that held equal significance. “This moment is as profound and emotionally moving as we’ve ever had — for the Jewish people and the RJC.”
‘We are going to stand like a rock with our friend and our ally Israel,’ new House speaker tells RJC
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), the new House speaker who rocketed from relative obscurity to second in line to the presidency last week, made a last-minute appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s conference in Las Vegas on Saturday — his first event outside of Capitol Hill as the House’s leader, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Quotable: “I want to tell you and I want to affirm what’s already been said here, that we are going to stand like a rock with our friend and our ally Israel,” Johnson said in his remarks to the pro-Israel crowd. “The reason I wanted to be here is because I want you to know that we are resolved on behalf of Israel.”
Aid plan: Johnson said the House would pass a standalone supplemental Israel funding package in the coming week — a change from previous expectations that the Senate would move first to pass a funding package that’s likely to set up a fight with Senate Democrats and Republicans who favor combining Israel and Ukraine aid.
Antisemitism: Johnson said that the 16 House members — specifically calling out members of the Squad — who voted last week against or “present’ on a pro-Israel resolution in the House last week “underscore an alarming trend of antisemitism… both globally and even here, shamefully in the United States.” Johnson added, “The world’s oldest prejudice has become mainstream now, thanks to academia and mainstream media and fringe government figures.” He described U.S. universities as particular “havens for antisemitism” where Jewish students do not feel safe.
Bonus: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), one of the faces of the growing isolationist bloc among House Republicans, and longtime foreign aid skeptic Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) announced yesterday that they will oppose the Israel aid package this week.
Fetterman emerges as progressive pro-Israel pugilist
In the first three weeks of the Israel-Hamas war, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) — seen as among the most left-leaning members of the Senate — has emerged, unexpectedly to some, as one of the most aggressive defenders of Israel in the progressive movement, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Punching left: Fetterman has placed the blame for the conflict squarely on Hamas, writing on X, “If not for the horrific attacks by Hamas terrorists, thousands of innocent Israelis and Palestinians would still be alive today.” He also argued that “Now is not the time to talk about a ceasefire,” saying that such a scenario should not happen until Hamas is “neutralized.” He denounced fellow Democrats who had incorrectly blamed Israel for the explosion at the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, calling their statements “truly disturbing.”
Highlighting hostages: The Pennsylvania senator posted the missing posters for every kidnapped hostage outside his Senate office, after meeting with the families of several of the hostages. He also met with Israeli antisemitism envoy Michal Cotler-Wunsh. “My office will display every last one of the innocent Israelis kidnapped by Hamas until they are safely returned home,” Fetterman said on Twitter. “We won’t stop sharing their stories until then.”
Read the full story here.
Growing calls from Democrats for humanitarian pauses in Israel-Hamas war
As Israel escalates its targeting of Hamas infrastructure in Gaza, there is growing concern in Washington about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the enclave. Calls from both the White House and congressional Democrats for humanitarian pauses in fighting to deliver aid and allow for the evacuation of hostages have been mounting since late last week. At the same time, most lawmakers say they remain committed to supporting an Israeli response against Hamas, even as some express concerns about Israel’s tactics, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Joint statement: Twenty-five Democratic senators, led by progressive Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), released a joint statement on Friday highlighting concerns about an imminent crisis at Gaza’s hospitals and the diminishing supply of clean drinking water in the territory. “Right now, hospitals in Gaza are hours away from running out of fuel that powers ventilators, incubators for babies, and other lifesaving equipment, and diseases are rapidly spreading without power to treat and pump clean drinking water,” the statement reads.
International effort: They called for the administration to work with Israel, Egypt and the United Nations to transport fuel to hospitals, desalination plants and water pumping stations, which they said could “be used immediately to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians, including babies and children.” They claimed that oversight mechanisms would allow those deliveries to be carried out successfully without Hamas interference. The lawmakers also reemphasized that “Israel must hold Hamas accountable” for its “horrific terrorist attacks” on Israel.
Brandeis Center demands action from Harvard over professor with ‘anti-Israel and antisemitic bias’
More than four months after Harvard University found that a professor at its John F. Kennedy School of Government discriminated against three Jewish Israeli graduate students, violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law on Monday morning sent a legal warning to the university demanding immediate action, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports for Jewish Insider.
Lack of action: “It’s extraordinary that Harvard on the one hand is willing to acknowledge that clients faced inappropriate discrimination and different treatment and yet is not taking meaningful action to address it. This is just the sort of thing you would expect from a university that is under immense pressure for the waves of antisemitism that its students are facing,” Kenneth Marcus, founder and chairman of the Brandeis Center and former U.S. assistant secretary of education for the Bush and Trump administrations, told JI.
Facing backlash: The letter, which was first obtained by JI, comes as Harvard’s administration faces criticism from lawmakers and alumni over its mishandling of a surge of antisemitism at the school since Hamas’ deadly rampage in Israel on Oct. 7. In a letter to the university’s general counsel, the Brandeis Center said that the school’s failure to address the discrimination claim has exacerbated antisemitism at the university, pointing to a letter published earlier this month on social media by 31 student organizations claiming Israel is “entirely responsible” for Hamas terrorists’ murder of 1,400 Israelis.
Heard at Harvard: Harvard University President Claudine Gay spoke at Harvard Hillel on Friday night. In her remarks, she said was “alarmed” at having “heard story after story of Jewish students feeling increasingly uneasy or even threatened on campus.” Gay noted that the school is forming an advisory council “to frame an agenda and strategy for combating antisemitism at Harvard.”
The Myth of Colonization: In The Atlantic, Simon Sebag Montefiore considers how the idea of “decolonization” has been misappropriated to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “At the heart of decolonization ideology is the categorization of all Israelis, historic and present, as ‘colonists.’ This is simply wrong. Most Israelis are descended from people who migrated to the Holy Land from 1881 to 1949. They were not completely new to the region. The Jewish people ruled Judean kingdoms and prayed in the Jerusalem Temple for a thousand years, then were ever present there in smaller numbers for the next 2,000 years. In other words, Jews are indigenous in the Holy Land, and if one believes in the return of exiled people to their homeland, then the return of the Jews is exactly that. Even those who deny this history or regard it as irrelevant to modern times must acknowledge that Israel is now the home and only home of 9 million Israelis who have lived there for four, five, six generations. Most migrants to, say, the United Kingdom or the United States are regarded as British or American within a lifetime. Politics in both countries is filled with prominent leaders — Suella Braverman and David Lammy, Kamala Harris and Nikki Haley — whose parents or grandparents migrated from India, West Africa, or South America. No one would describe them as ‘settlers.’ Yet Israeli families resident in Israel for a century are designated as ‘settler-colonists’ ripe for murder and mutilation.” [TheAtlantic]
Regional Ramifications: Former Wall Street Journal publisher Karen Elliott House looks at the prospects for an Israeli-Saudi normalization agreement in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks. “Iran and Hamas are exploiting the Palestinian issue to undermine public support for Israel across the region, and even in the U.S., where university campuses have hosted violent anti-Israel demonstrations. Perhaps, this thinking goes, the horrors of today’s Mideast will motivate all parties to take previously unthinkable steps to resolve the Palestinian issue and secure widespread Arab cooperation in building a more integrated and prosperous region. There is a narrow line between motivation and wishful thinking, and the Saudis are anxious for an early end to hostilities. Officials are telling the Biden administration and a visiting delegation of 10 U.S. senators to persuade Israel not to invade Gaza or do anything that will prolong or widen the war. A short look at the horrors of war could create new determination to take risks for peace, but prolonged exposure to death and destruction could also breed a new generation of angry Arabs who block Saudi-Israeli rapprochement. Today’s young Saudis, a majority of whom are under 30, have never seen war as their parents and grandparents did in 1967 or 1973. But if this current war drags on, with television and social media emphasizing Palestinian casualties in Gaza, young Saudis could be aroused against Israel.” [WSJ]
Existential War: In The New York Times, former Ambassador Dennis Ross explains why he does not believe a cease-fire with Hamas is in Israel’s best interests. “After Oct. 7, there are many Israelis who believe their survival as a state is at stake. That may sound like an exaggeration, but to them, it’s not. If Hamas persists as a military force and is still running Gaza after this war is over, it will attack Israel again. And whether or not Hezbollah opens a true second front from Lebanon during this conflict, it, too, will attack Israel in the future. The aim of these groups, both of which are backed by Iran, is to make Israel unlivable and drive Israelis to leave: While Iran has denied involvement in the Hamas attack, Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has long talked about Israel not surviving for another 25 years, and his strategy has been to use these militant proxies to achieve that goal. Given the strength of Israel’s military — by far the most powerful in the region — the aims of Iran and its collaborators seemed implausible until a few weeks ago. But the events of Oct. 7 changed everything. As one commander in the Israeli military said, ‘If we do not defeat Hamas, we cannot survive here.’” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
Executive Time: President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone on Sunday, during which time, according to a White House readout, Biden “reiterated that Israel has every right and responsibility to defend its citizens from terrorism and underscored the need to do so in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians.”
Headline Harangue: In a private meeting, Biden blastedThe New York Times’ coverage earlier this month that incorrectly said Israeli airstrikes had hit a hospital in Gaza; the false reporting by the Times and other major outlets triggered a wave of antisemitic protests around the world and the cancelation of a summit between Biden and Arab leaders in Jordan.
Rebuilding the South: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to a group of Israeli mayors, all of whom were participants in Tel Aviv University’s Bloomberg-Sagol City Leadership program, about rebuilding communities after terrorist attacks.
Naftali’s Notion: Bret Stephens interviews former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett about his “squeeze approach” military plan to “defeat Hamas and avoid a bloodbath.”
In His Kishkes: The New York Times’ Peter Baker, who traveled to Israel with President Joe Biden earlier this month, explores the president’s relationship with Israel and the Jewish community.
Split on the Left: Politico looks at the divisions beginning to form between the left and far left in New York’s Democratic circles.
Call-out Culture: Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called out Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) for threatening his Democratic colleague, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), over his vocal backing for a pro-Israel resolution.
Continental Concern: A top E.U. official cautioned that antisemitism is “a deeply ingrained racism in European society.”
Going Their Own Ways: The Wall Street Journal looks at how SodaStream and other companies with mixed Israeli-Palestinian-Arab workforces are navigating challenging scenarios in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks.
What Went Wrong: A wide-ranging report from The New York Times examines the failures of the security and political establishments to detect the planning for the Oct. 7 attacks, up until hours before the first Hamas terrorists broke through the border.
Extended Timeline: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the next phase of the Israel-Hamas war — which involves on-the-ground operations — could last for “months.”
Bibi in a Bind: The Wall Street Journal reports on the “increasingly fraught position” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finds himself amid a steep drop in public support for his government in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks.
On the Ground: The remains of a German-Israeli citizen who was taken hostage by Hamas and whose kidnapping was believed to be partially filmed by Hamas terrorists were found by IDF troops in Gaza.
Stabbing in Jerusalem: An Israeli police officer sustained serious injuries after being stabbed on Jerusalem’s light rail.
Hostage Perspective:Haaretz interviews Alan Gross, who spent five years wrongly imprisoned in Cuba, about the Israeli hostage crisis.
Digital Dilemma: Antisemitic content is proliferating on social media content in China, despite it being heavily censored, as well as on Chinese state media.
Echoes of Mahsa Amini: An Iranian teenager who was declared brain dead last week after being assaulted by Iran’s morality police died from her injuries.
Opening the File: The Canadian government is considering unsealing a decades-old report that named hundreds of potential Nazi war criminals living in the country
Perlmutter’s Prerogative: Former Marvel executive Ike Perlmutter is entrusting his stake in Disney to Trian’s Nelson Peltz as Peltz pushes for changes at the company.
West-ern Exposure: A New York Times probe into the business ties between Ye, formerly Kanye West, and Adidas found that the severing of the relationship was the culmination of a decade of West’s inappropriate, antisemitic and offensive behavior.
Transition: Lisa Silverstein will assume the helm of Silverstein Properties, held until last week by Marty Burger, as the company “transitions to the next generation,” a spokesperson said.
Remembering: Robert Brustein, a former dean of the Yale drama school, died at 96. Theater actress Joanna Merlin, who originated the role of Tzeitel in the Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof, died at 92.
Pic of the Day
Shoah Memorial president Eric de Rothschild (left), memorial director Jacques Fredj and Danish Crown Prince Frederik attend a commemoration at Paris’ Musee Memorial de la Shoah marking the 80th year of Denmark’s largely successful efforts to save its Jewish population during the Holocaust, as part of a two-day visit to Paris by the crown prince this weekend.
White House correspondent for The New York Times and a political analyst for CNN, Maggie Haberman turns 50…
Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Caro turns 88… Former president of the University of Minnesota, chancellor of the University of Texas System and president of the University of California, Mark Yudof turns 79… Actor, best known for his portrayal of “The Fonz” in the “Happy Days” sitcom, Henry Winkler turns 78… NBC’s anchor, reporter and commentator, Andrea Mitchell turns 77… South African born rabbi, now leading Kehillat Bnei Aharon in Raanana, Israel, David Lapin turns 74… Professor of physics at Syracuse University, Peter Reed Saulson turns 69… Israeli violinist, violist and conductor who appears in concerts around the world, Shlomo Mintz turns 66… Meat packing executive, sentenced to 27 years in prison in 2009 for fraud, his sentence was commuted by former President Donald Trump in 2017 after serving eight years, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin turns 64… Former CEO and later executive chairman of Qualcomm, he is a co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Paul E. Jacobs turns 61… Partner in the DC office of Cadwalader, he previously served as the attorney general of Maryland, Douglas F. “Doug” Gansler turns 61… Partner and co-founder of the Irvine, Calif., law firm of Wolfe & Wyman, Stuart B. Wolfe… Global head of public policy at Apollo Global Management, David Krone… Managing consultant at Korn Ferry, Jeremy Seth Gold… Assistant secretary for investment security at the U.S. Treasury, Paul M. Rosen turns 45… Public information officer of the City and County of Denver, Joshua Eric Rosenblum… Ivanka ‘Yael’ Trump turns 42… Founding director at Tech Tribe and director of social media for Chabad, Mordechai Lightstone… Politico reporter covering races in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ally Mutnick… Managing director at D.C.-based Targeted Victory, Rebecca Schieber…