Good Wednesday morning.
Ed note: Enjoy the long Thanksgiving weekend. The Daily Kickoff will be off Thursday and Friday. We’ll see you again on Monday.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on the agreement to free hostages from Gaza, and look at the challenges facing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he plots his political future. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Dr. Miriam Adelson, Sam Altman and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon.
A deal to release 50 of the more than 230 hostages held in Gaza since Hamas’ brutal terror attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7 is set to go into effect tomorrow after the Israeli government and the terrorist group reached a mediated deal for a four-day pause in fighting, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Under the deal brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the U.S., Israel also agreed to free some 150 Palestinian prisoners, and will allow greater amounts of humanitarian aid, including much-needed fuel, to enter the Gaza Strip, where the latest U.N. figures show that more than 1.7 million Palestinians are now internally displaced after seven weeks of fighting.
“The Government of Israel is obligated to return home all of the hostages,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement following marathon meetings of the war cabinet, the security cabinet and the government last night. “Tonight, the Government has approved the outline of the first stage of achieving this goal, according to which at least 50 hostages – women and children – will be released over four days, during which a pause in the fighting will be held. The release of every additional ten hostages will result in one additional day in the pause.”
The statement added that Israel will, however, continue with the war “in order to return home all of the hostages, complete the elimination of Hamas, and ensure that there will be no new threat to the State of Israel from Gaza.”
Senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk said in an interview with Al Jazeera that the pause will begin at 10 a.m. local time tomorrow.
President Joe Biden welcomed the hostage release deal, saying in a statement, “Jill and I have been keeping all those held hostage and their loved ones close to our hearts these many weeks, and I am extraordinarily gratified that some of these brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented.”
Leading the negotiations for the U.S. were the National Security Council’s Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk and Josh Geltzer, deputy assistant to the president and deputy Homeland Security advisor for the National Security Council. A senior administration official who briefed reporters on Tuesday said that negotiators “anticipate” that Americans will be included among those released in the coming days.
Part of the agreement will also include visits by the International Red Cross to those hostages who will not be released by Hamas, as well as a supply of medicine for them, Netanyahu said. Read the full story here.
Bipartisan group of lawmakers pushes for funding to implement antisemitism strategy
Amid a domestic and global surge in antisemitism since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, a bipartisan group of 51 House members is urging the leaders of each chamber’s Appropriations Committees to provide funding to various programs aimed at combating antisemitism, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Looking ahead: When Congress returns from the Thanksgiving holiday, much of its attention will be focused on finalizing funding bills for 2024, with funding deadlines approaching in January and February. A new letter sent Tuesday, led by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), advocates for “robust” funding for various programs highlighted in the administration’s national strategy on antisemitism.
High bar: The letter specifically calls for funding in excess of the administration’s $360 million request for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which funds security improvements at religious institutions, and in excess of its $178 million request for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which helps enforce protections for Jewish students on campus.
Other programs: The lawmakers also offered support for funding for K-12 Holocaust and antisemitism education programs, Department of Justice hate crimes grants and the offices of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism and the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues at the Department of State.
Elsewhere on the Hill: Reps. Dan Goldman (D-NY) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) led 25 other House Democrats on a letter to Elon Musk and X CEO Linda Yaccarino expressing “grave concern” about the platform amplifying and profiting from Hamas propaganda videos and false content about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. They said the platform has failed to enforce its own policies around such content.
New York Gov. Hochul announces $3 million for campus safety initiative
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a four-pillar plan on Tuesday to keep New Yorkers safe from “extremism and violence,” including $3 million in additional funding to ensure that every college campus in New York State has a threat assessment and management (TAM) team, amid rising antisemitism since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports for Jewish Insider.
Drastic increase: “Since Oct. 7, there’s been a 400% increase in threats against Jews, Muslims and Arabs,” Hochul said during a press conference. “My No. 1 priority has been, and will continue to be, protecting the safety of our residents.”
Online aspect: Hochul said that social media companies are responsible for providing a platform for the most extreme threats. “[TAM teams are] not here to penalize anyone for their political views,” she said. “They have a simple goal, to find out what’s driving hateful behavior and intervene early before harm is done. And to give people who are being radicalized online an off-ramp. They work with mental health professionals, establish reporting systems, so classmates and others can raise red flags and train adults on how to spot the warning signs,” Hochul said, adding that she has “called out the leadership of every major social media company to express not just my indignation, but to demand that they take concrete action to reduce the sickening hate that is being spread on their sites.”
Fewer than one-sixth of congressional Dems calling for cease-fire
Fewer than one-sixth of Democratic lawmakers (43 of 265) are calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas — a roster that’s overwhelmingly made up of members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and that overlaps with those with the most left-wing views on foreign policy, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Electoral map: All but one of the cease-fire supporters in the House represent safely-Democratic districts. Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM) is the only cease-fire supporter representing a swing district. All but nine of the cease-fire supporters are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — which has more than 100 members in total.
Flashback: There’s also considerable overlap between the cease-fire supporters and Democrats who signed onto a botched Progressive Caucus letter last year calling for a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia, which was retracted amid a wave of Democratic backlash. Nearly half of those supporting a cease-fire in Gaza (19) also wanted to put pressure on Ukraine in the middle of the war.
New in town: Nine of the cease-fire supporters — nearly a quarter — were elected in 2022. Among those, Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) stands out, given that he was endorsed by pro-Israel groups in his 2022 primary over another candidate viewed as more critical of Israel, and AIPAC’s United Democracy Project super PAC spent $500,000 opposing his opponent. Garcia has voted with the left on multiple Middle East policy issues recently.
Looking ahead: When the House returns next week, it’s set to vote on a resolution affirming Israel’s right to exist, describing denial of this right as antisemitism and rejecting calls for Israel’s elimination. The House will also vote on a resolution calling for the release of hostages held in Gaza and a bill freezing the $6 billion in Iranian funds released as part of a recent hostage deal with Iran.
Jumping Ship: Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) left the Congressional Progressive Caucus over how some of its members have responded to the Israel-Hamas war.
Maryland hate crimes commission member suspended over pro-Hamas posts
A member of the Maryland Commission on Hate Crime Response and Prevention will be temporarily suspended from the body due to her social media posts since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown announced on Tuesday. His decision followed a Monday report from Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch spotlighting the pro-Hamas Facebook posts of Zainab Chaudry, the director of the Maryland branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Duel of discomfort: Chaudry’s posts since Oct. 7 “risk disrupting the work and mission of the Commission,” Brown said in a press release. On Monday night, she took to Facebook to express her feelings on the matter: “Your discomfort with my posts on Palestine isn’t greater than my discomfort over your silence and complicity in crimes against humanity,” Chaudry wrote.
Action plan: Brown outlined three actions he would take to preserve the board’s work: temporarily suspending Chaudry, assigning staff to create social media standards for board members and calling on members to be careful in their online writings, because “personal postings that could be reasonably perceived as hate speech may disrupt the ability of the Commission to accomplish its important work.” CAIR immediately launched a petition to challenge Brown’s actions.
Pressure on Netanyahu to quit, but few paths to his ouster
Politics are back in Israel. While there is debate, the vast majority of the Knesset is trying to show a united front against Hamas and find areas of consensus to help Israeli evacuees from the country’s north and south, among other items on the agenda. The political murmuring that surfaced in the days after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks has gotten louder in the past week. With Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s call for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign immediately and an ugly showdown in the Knesset on Monday between Otzma Yehudit MKs and families of hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza, it almost feels like business as usual, Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov reports.
Postwar politics: Most of the political rustlings, whether out in the open in interviews or behind closed doors, are about what Israeli politics will look like after the war. There’s Lapid, who says that Netanyahu should step down immediately, even as the war is ongoing, and is offering to bring his party into a coalition led by a different Likud member, reportedly floating Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Yuli Edelstein, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman and a former refusenik, as possibilities. Both men have spoken out against Netanyahu in recent years.
Another potential candidate: Likud insiders have been whispering for weeks about Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas bringing together a coalition of moderates in the party to push Netanyahu out. Bibas comes from a renowned Likud family and is the chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities, the powerful umbrella organization for mayors across Israel.
‘Our Sages Were Right’: In the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Dr. Miriam Adelson reflects on her trip to the southern Israeli communities targeted by Hamas on Oct. 7. “Like so many contemporary Jews, I took our safety for granted. I may have even poked fun at the Jewish tradition which I so cherish, with its fixation on genocides averted in our annals, from Passover to Purim. The old joke is that Jewish holidays can be summarized with: ‘They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.’ But that joke is over, gone along with the 1,200 innocents who died Oct. 7 and all those killed in Israel’s military counter-offensive in the Gaza Strip. Our sages were right when they warned, a millennium ago, that in each and every generation there are those who will strive to wipe out the Jews. Perhaps they were also right when they counseled that God would protect His people. But still, His people have to look out for themselves. Israel will recover from this unprecedented violation, and rally. That will entail remaking Israeli borders and relations with friends and foes alike. We will expect and demand full support from our Western partners. And anyone who fails us, we will not forget.” [LVRJ]
The Hostage Calculus: The Wall Street Journal’s William Galston considers the debates taking place in Israel over efforts to secure the release of hostages. “The establishment of the state of Israel didn’t end hostage-taking, but it changed the calculus. As the state became stronger, Jews could choose, for the first time in two millennia, between paying a ransom for hostages and saving them by force of arms. They pursued the latter course in 1976 at Entebbe, Uganda, where more than 100 hostages were rescued at the cost of one Israeli soldier — the older brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But when Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in 2006 and held him hostage in Gaza, public pressure for his release grew in Israel. The government eventually agreed to Mr. Shalit’s return in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including Yahya Sinwar, who became the leader of Hamas in Gaza and the architect of the Oct. 7 attack. Now, with the fates of more than 200 hostages in the balance, proponents of these options are in conflict. Senior military leaders have made it clear that they regard the destruction of Hamas as their priority, and they argue that sustained military pressure offers the best hope for the hostages’ release.” [WSJ]
Postwar Plans: In the Washington Post, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Reuel Marc Gerecht suggests that Israel does not have an alternative to resuming a presence in the Gaza Strip. “But will the United States or Israel take the next logical step — pushing the Palestinians to move away from militant Islam and secular authoritarianism through elections that would make them directly responsible for their fate? It’s difficult to imagine either nation readily will. In particular, the Israeli allergy to Muslims voting — Arab elites have a better track record of accepting the Jewish state — might prove a serious obstacle to a more peaceful modus vivendi between Israelis and Palestinians. …No one is riding to Jerusalem’s rescue to forestall an Israeli occupation. Arab states will not help out. Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups are going to have a lingering guerrilla presence in Gaza no matter how successful Israel is in killing the organization’s leadership and its paramilitary force, which is estimated to number some 40,000 men. The Europeans are not capable of stepping in. And Americans, who share a bipartisan sentiment to do less in the Middle East, aren’t likely to do so, either.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
Conservative Coalition: A group of Jewish, Christian and conservative nonprofits announced the formation of a task force that plans to “facilitate information-sharing and crisis response efforts between the groups and establish working groups dedicated to developing action plans to combat the recent wave of antisemitism.” Members include America First Policy Institute, Coalition for Jewish Values, Concerned Women of America, Family Research Council, The Heritage Foundation, In Defense of Christians, Independent Women’s Forum, Latino Coalition for Israel, National Association of Scholars, Philos Project, Regent University and The Steamboat Institute.
Scanlon Sitdown: Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), who joined a controversial letter last week calling for a cease-fire and condemning Israel’s military operation in Gaza, met on Monday with family members of Ditza Heiman, an 84-year-old grandmother believed to be held hostage by Hamas, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Sanders Says: In a New York Times op-ed, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calls for conditioning aid to Israel.
Musk Lawsuit: X owner Elon Musk filed a lawsuit against Media Matters for America, alleging that the media watchdog was trying to ward off advertisers by issuing a report saying that ads were appearing next to antisemitic content on the platform.
Sam’s Back: OpenAI announced that ousted CEO Sam Altman will rejoin the company, after OpenAI staffers revolted against Altman’s firing by OpenAI’s board last week.
Zucker Deal: Former CNN President Jeff Zucker is nearing a deal to acquire London’s Daily Telegraph.
Gulf Gas:Semaforlooks at LionTree Partners’ Aryeh Bourkoff’s investment in an Emirati gas company.
Blackstone Buy: Blackstone will buy software developer Civica, the latest of its U.K.-based acquisitions.
Don’t Bank on It: PayPal shut down a fundraiser with ties to the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group.
Salazar Fallout: The communications director for N.Y. state Sen. Julia Salazar was fired days after the publication of social media posts in which she praised Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks.
Exit Interview:City & State NYinterviews Amy Rutkin, the outgoing chief of staff for Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), as she concludes 25 years on the congressman’s staff.
Monitoring in Merrimack: Three anti-Israel demonstrators were arrested after illegally entering defense company Elbit’s building in Merrimack, N.H.; Elbit’s parent company is based in Haifa.
Bad Taste: A former State Department staffer was filmed harassing a halal cart owner in New York City.
Campus Beat: Thousands of Harvard, Yale and Princeton alumni have signed onto letters pushing their administrations to step up efforts to fight antisemitism on campus.
Cutting Ties: United Talent Agency cut ties with Susan Sarandon after she spoke at an anti-Israel rally and suggested that American Jews were “getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence.” Actress Melissa Barrera was fired from “Scream 7” after she posted on social media that Israel was commiting genocide.
Keeping the Faith: The historic Touro synagogue in Newport, R.I., is seeing an uptick in Jewish and non-Jewish visitors amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Dream Deal: Former NSO Group CEO Shalev Hulio raised a $33.6 million second round of funding for his startup Dream Security; Aleph’s Michael Eisenberg co-led the deal, which was finalized along Israel’s border with Gaza 30 days after the Oct. 7 attacks, in a symbolic nod to the Jewish practice of mourning for 30 days.
Allies in Arms: National Security Council coordinator John Kirby told reporters that the U.S. is concerned that Iran could provide ballistic missiles to Russia for use against Ukraine.
Iraq Strikes: The U.S. conducted airstrikes in Iraq targeting Iranian proxies operating in the country.
The Day After:Bloombergspotlights the questions and challenges facing Israeli, Arab, European and American officials as they contemplate potential day-after scenarios in Gaza.
Arab Saviors: The New York Times’ Tom Friedman reflects on the heroic efforts by Arabs in Israel to rescue survivors of the Oct. 7 attacks, and considers how relations between Israel’s Arab and Jewish communities will look following the Israel-Hamas war.
Senor Says: Author Dan Senor told CNN that Israel’s security establishment “is living with this unbelievable burden of guilt” over the Oct. 7 attacks.
Pretoria’s Position: South African lawmakers voted to suspend diplomatic ties with Israel and shutter the country’s embassy in Pretoria, a day after Israel recalled its ambassador over mounting tensions tied to the Israel-Hamas war.
Timely Debut: Billboardspotlights as1one, a mixed Israeli-Palestinian boy band modeled off of K-pop and Latino singing groups.
Pic of the Day
Pope Francis met earlier today at the Vatican with families of hostages being held in Gaza.
Former owner of MLB’s New York Mets, Fred Wilpon turns 87…
Professor at NYU Law School, she worked at OMB and the National Economic Council in the Clinton White House, Sally Katzen turns 81… Novelist and screenwriter, Roger Lichtenberg Simon turns 80… Born to a Jewish family in Tunisia, he served as a member of the Canadian House of Commons until 2006, Jacques Saada turns 76… President emeritus of the Service Employees International Union, now a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project, Andy Stern turns 73… SVP of development for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, his bar mitzvah was at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Tim R. Cohen… Television personality, he was previously an advertising executive, Donny Deutsch turns 66… IT specialist at the IRS, Martin Robinson… Chairman of Dynamo Kyiv (Kyiv’s soccer team) since 2002, Ihor Surkis turns 65… Author of multiple New York Times bestsellers, Peggy Orenstein turns 62… Classical composer, conductor and pianist, Benjamin Yusupov turns 61… President and CEO of Paramount Pictures, known professionally as Brian Robbins, Brian Levine turns 60… Israeli film and television actor, Ishai Golan turns 50… Senior editor at The City and columnist and editorial writer for the New York Daily News, Harry Siegel turns 46… Israeli rapper, blogger and political activist, his stage name is The Shadow, Yoav Eliasi turns 46… Former State Department spokesperson, now serving as senior advisor to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Edward “Ned” Price turns 41… Actress, she is the highest-grossing box office star of all time, Scarlett Johansson turns 39… VP of communications and media relations for theSkimm, Jessica Sara (Turtletaub) Pepper… Actor, who has appeared in films directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, the Coen brothers and Warren Beatty, Alden Ehrenreich turns 34… Actor and comedian, he was on the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” Jon Rudnitsky turns 34… Social media personality known as Baby Ariel, she has 36 million followers on TikTok, Ariel Rebecca Martin turns 23… Chief of staff to Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, Yarden Golan…
BIRTHWEEK: Executive editor of Jewish Insider, Melissa Weiss turns 37…