Good Thursday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we interview former Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata about the Israel-Hamas war, and talk to three pro-Israel young Democrats about their support for the Biden administration’s position on Israel. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Dr. Miriam Adelson, former Sen. Joe Lieberman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Democratic Majority for Israel is out with a new ad today, titled “History and Humanity,” that criticizes Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over the anti-Israel positions she’s taken since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. The ad points out that Tlaib was one of just nine Democrats to vote against condemning Hamas for the Oct. 7 terror attack and suggests that legislation Tlaib has put forward will “allow the terrorists to re-arm themselves.”
The ad, which is a six-figure buy airing in the Detroit media market, concludes with the hard-hitting line: “Tell Rashida Tlaib she’s on the wrong side of history and humanity.” The big spending against Tlaib indicates that pro-Israel groups believe she’s vulnerable in a Democratic primary, even though no one has yet stepped up to challenge her. Already, four members of the left-wing Squad are facing serious primary threats in 2024.
In Washington, the Biden administration’s February 2021 decision to remove the Houthis’ designation as a terrorist organization is attracting renewed scrutiny after the Iranian-backed militia group fired missiles and launched drones toward Israel, Jewish Insider‘s Capitol Hill reporter Marc Rod reports.
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) led 14 other Senate Republicans on a letter yesterday calling for Secretary of State Tony Blinken to restore the designation.
The letter asserts that the Houthis’ attacks on Israel “likely [occurred] at the behest of Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime,” and argues that redesignating the Yemeni group “would send a powerful message that the United States views this group as a clear threat to our Allies and partners and to regional stability in the Middle East.”
It also highlights the Houthis’ role as a weapon for Iran against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Biden administration revoked the designation out of concerns that it would prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen. Some senior Democrats and the Biden administration have previously given thought to restoring the designation after Houthi attacks on the UAE, although other Democrats have resisted the move.
The House will vote today on Republicans’ proposed $14.3 billion Israel aid bill, which would cut an equal amount of funding from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS provision has prompted outrage from Democrats, as well as some Republicans; such offsets are not traditionally part of emergency funding packages.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office assessed yesterday that the IRS funding cut would actually increase the national deficit by an additional $12.5 billion over 10 years and result in $26.8 billion in lost revenue, further fueling Democratic opposition to the proposal.
Twenty-one Jewish House Democrats released a joint statement yesterday slamming Republicans’ proposal. “Speaker Johnson has chosen to play cynical political games by conditioning emergency aid to Israel on cuts to the domestic budget in an effort to divide the Congress for partisan gain,” their statement reads. “The net effect of this ploy will be to reduce the existing overwhelming bipartisan support for Israel within Congress and jeopardize our ability to support our allies around the world.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), openly crying, described the IRS provision as a “gut punch,” adding that Israel “needs this money now, without games.” She continued, “think back [to] the times that you have told the people sitting in your office who are pro-Israel whether you would ever support conditioning aid to Israel. I bet each of you remember committing that you wouldn’t.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA)dismissed the CBO score out of hand. He reportedly told Senate Republicans yesterday that combining Israel and Ukraine would be a nonstarter, but that the House would take up a combined Ukraine and border security bill after it approves aid to Israel.
Former Israeli national security advisor: ‘Israel doesn’t have the time it thinks it has to fight this war’
Twenty-six days into Israel’s war with Hamas, it remains unclear how thousands of terrorists were able to infiltrate Israel and attack for hours without being stopped by the IDF. Equally unclear are the parameters of the Israel-Hamas war: Will the fighting be contained to Gaza, or will another front open in Israel’s north? Eyal Hulata, Israel’s national security advisor until January who is now based in the U.S., spoke with Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov this week to provide some clarity and suggestions as to what Israel should do moving forward. His remarks have been edited for clarity and length.
On Israeli security failures on Oct. 7: “It was a very, very successful campaign of deceit,” Hulata explained. “[Hamas] understood our methods of gathering intelligence better than we realized. They knew how to feed us information that made us think everything was business as usual. In addition, very few people [in Hamas] knew the whole picture. Unfortunately, our intelligence system waited for concrete information before giving warnings. We fell into their trap. But there was a bigger problem. The whole defense system was supposed to prepare for surprises and be prepared to defend our citizens, even if the intelligence doesn’t say what will happen, and that didn’t happen for many reasons. And that is the responsibility of the political level. The security cabinet is supposed to be prepared not only based on intelligence but in weighing all of the ways of understanding what is happening.”
On what Israel should be doing: “It is of supreme importance to take advantage of this time to free the hostages,” Hulata said. “It will be much harder to do after the war is over. The war cabinet is right that a ground invasion can push Hamas to free them, and we have to push hard. We have to create a new security situation in Gaza. We have to create a demilitarized zone on the Gazan side of the fence, a clear strip that will be a new buffer zone that Israel will know how to protect, not necessarily with a physical presence, in the Gaza Strip. We must follow Hamas’ pressure points in northern Gaza to force them to change their policy. The insistence on not providing diesel fuel is the right thing to do, because that’s what Hamas needs for its tunnels, electricity and ventilation. They’re not lacking in diesel, they’re just not giving it to civilian needs, like hospitals.”
Qatar’s role: “Qatar is trying to avoid responsibility and the international community cannot accept it, certainly not the way they acted after [the Hamas massacre] happened,” he said. “Their influence on Hamas is very big and they haven’t used it. If they want to pressure Hamas to free the hostages, they can. I think the government of Israel needs to be more suspicious of Qatar’s intentions and not to be impressed by their slick words and attempts to look like they‘re balanced. Qatar is responsible for strengthening Hamas and isn’t fully using its influence to free hostages. I hope they will do it soon, and I suggest not to be fooled by their attempt to present it as though they’re balanced and have no responsibility. They are not balanced and they are responsible.”
Bonus: In The Wall Street Journal, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Rich Goldberg suggests that the Biden administration hold Qatar accountable for Hamas’ Israeli hostages and consider designating Doha a state sponsor of terrorism.
on the hill
House passes Hamas sanctions bill, Iran resolution in by wide bipartisan margins
The House of Representatives voted last night by wide bipartisan margins in favor of new sanctions on Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups, and a nonbinding resolution opposing Iran’s nuclear program. But it defeated, in a bipartisan vote, an effort to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
New sanctions: The Hamas International Financing Prevention Act, the sanctions bill, passed the House by a 363-46 vote. Forty-five of the no votes came largely from progressive Democrats, joined by one Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). The bill would place new sanctions on individuals, entities and foreign governments that provide support to Palestinian terror groups.
No nukes: The resolution on Iran’s nuclear program passed by a 354-53 vote, with 50 Democrats, again largely progressives, and three Republicans, Reps. Dan Bishop (R-NC), Warren Davidson (R-OH) and Massie, opposing. That legislation declares that it is U.S. policy that a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be permitted “under any circumstances” and that the U.S. will “use all means necessary to prevent” that outcome. It also expresses American “support for the freedom of action of partners and allies, including Israel, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Shut down: The House voted 222-186 to defeat a resolution by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to censure Tlaib over past antisemitic comments, her response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks and her speech to an anti-Israel protest at the Capitol last month, which the resolution described as an “insurrection.” Twenty-three Republicans, representing a broad cross section of the party, voted with all House Democrats to defeat the censure attempt. Most notably, Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), one of two Jewish Republicans, voted against censuring Tlaib.
Moving along: The House passed by voice vote a bill requiring annual reports on the antisemitic, anti-Israel, anti-U.S. and pro-terrorism content in Palestinian education curricula sponsored by the United Nations, and a resolution urging the European Union to fully designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Tensions boil over: In a stunning public confrontation, Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Joni Enrst (R-IA), Todd Young (R-IN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took to the Senate floor last night to attempt to call up 61 military promotions for individual votes — some of the close to 400 confirmations being held by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). Despite saying he would allow votes on individual offices, Tuberville blocked each request over the course of four and a half hours, to the increasing frustration of his GOP colleagues. They vowed to continue the effort going forward and said others would join them.
Elsewhere on the Hill: Reps. Cory Mills (R-FL) and Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) are introducing a resolution today calling for greater action to combat the distribution of the synthetic amphetamine Captagon, which Israeli and U.S. officials have said was found on the bodies of some Hamas terrorists who carried out the Oct. 7 attacks.
Youngest House Democratic recruits speak out for Israel
Three of the youngest Democrats now running for Congress are teaming up to voice support for Israel and express appreciation for President Joe Biden as he faces left-wing backlash over his commitment to Israel in its escalating war with Hamas, Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel reports. In a new joint letter to Biden, the House candidates thanked the president for his leadership amid the conflict, endorsing his efforts to secure additional security funding for Israel, push for humanitarian aid to Gaza and promote a two-state solution, among other things.
Bucking the trend: The letter comes as polling has shown a generational divide over Israel, with Gen Z and millennial Democrats expressing greater skepticism of Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza even amid an overall spike in Democratic support for the Jewish state in the wake of Hamas’ attack. In a joint interview with JI, however, the Democratic trio — including Isaiah Martin of Texas, Joe Vogel of Maryland and Zak Malamed of New York, who are all in their mid-to-late 20s — pushed back on that narrative, insisting that such sentiments have not reflected their own engagement with voters.
‘Clear message’: “I’ve met with a bunch of students and folks who live here, and they were very upset that it seemed like younger voices were not speaking up,” said Martin, a 25-year-old Houston Democrat. “We felt very strongly that we had to send a clear message,” added Vogel, a 26-year-old Jewish Democrat and Maryland state legislator, “that the current and future leaders of our generation are going to continue standing with Israel and are going to continue standing with the president.”
Driving issue: Their new letter underscores how the war between Israel and Hamas is emerging as a driving issue in several House races across the country. “This wasn’t a defining issue of my campaign, even in one of the most Jewish congressional districts, before the conflict was ignited,” Malamed, a 29-year-old Jewish Democrat running on Long Island, told JI. “Now it unquestionably is not just a defining issue — it is a top issue.”
In new moves, UPenn and Columbia unveil plans to combat antisemitism on campus
As the Israel-Hamas war shines a spotlight on accusations of antisemitism against several U.S. colleges, two Ivy League administrations that have faced criticism for their schools’ responses to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks — the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia — released on Wednesday new actions to combat antisemitism on campus, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports for Jewish Insider.
Background: The actions at the two schools come after several prominent philanthropists have cut ties over the administrations’ failures to condemn Hamas’ massacre. Earlier this week, Columbia administration declined to comment to JI after 144 members of its faculty signed an open letter that called Israel an apartheid state while referring to Hamas’ terrorist attacks as a legitimate “military action.”
UPenn plan: University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill described the “University Task Force” of faculty, students and alumni in a press release as “our dedicated commitment” to counter antisemitism “on campus and beyond,” and noted additional efforts the university will unveil to address other forms of hate, including Islamophobia. Magill said the plan centers on three broad areas: safety and security, engagement, and education. Mark Wolff, the dean of Penn’s School of Dental Medicine, is expected to chair the task force. The University of Pennsylvania’s plan is tied to the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, which the Biden administration rolled out in May.
Columbia’s course: In a less-detailed plan, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, Barnard College President Laura Ann Rosenbury and Teachers College President Thomas Bailey said that a new “Task Force on Antisemitism” will in the coming months “identify practical ways for our safety and inclusion work to enhance support for all members of the Columbia, Barnard, and Teachers College communities, particularly our Jewish students. Longer term, it will recommend more ambitious changes related to academic and extracurricular offerings and student, faculty, and staff training programs.”
Continental Concerns:The New York Times’ Roger Cohen spotlights surging antisemitism in Europe following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. “Perhaps not since the Holocaust, which saw the annihilation of about two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish community, have the Jews of Europe lived in an atmosphere of fear so acute that it feels like a fundamental shift in the terms of their existence. Across a Europe of daubed Stars of David on apartment buildings, bomb threats to Jewish stores and demonstrations calling for Israel’s eradication, Jews speak of alarm as pro-Palestinian sentiment surges. ‘There is a feeling of helplessness that has never been experienced before,’ said Joel Rubinfeld of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism.” [NYTimes]
Radical Radio: In the Washington Post, Hugh Hewitt writes that he will need to ask his radio guests basic questions about Israel’s right to exist, in order to gauge their political stance. “I’ve never even considered that I would ask someone, ‘Did the Holocaust happen?’ I’ve never knowingly had a Holocaust denier on the air, just as I’ve never had on a proponent of white supremacy. It’s pretty easy to build walls against such pollutants entering the airwaves under my jurisdiction. But now I will have to add the basic question about Israel’s nationhood. In the past three weeks, it has become painfully clear that hundreds of thousands of Americans and Europeans marching in demonstrations across campuses and in the streets of major cities do not accept the state of Israel’s legitimacy. That view is radical and dangerous. And it can no longer be considered so marginal that it need not be discussed in polite society. Instead, the view is one that must be exposed and its believers obliged to explain themselves.” [WashPost]
The War in the Workplace: The Wall Street Journal’s Te-Ping Chen, Lindsay Ellis and Chip Cutter look at how companies are addressing the Israel-Hamas war among employees. “When movements such as #MeToo or Black Lives Matter came into a national spotlight, companies took broad stands against sexism or racism. With workers and customers on different sides of the conflict in the Middle East, advisory firms to large companies are recommending they do what they can to avoid attracting attention, according to briefing documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. …Some companies that swiftly condemned the Hamas attacks later felt chastened after they were criticized for not acknowledging the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, says Angela Berg, a communications specialist who has advised companies on how to handle the issue. In one instance, Berg says, when an executive shared a link to a fundraising appeal for a Jewish relief organization, employees asked why the executive hadn’t likewise shared a fundraising appeal for the United Nations agency providing humanitarian relief in Gaza.” [WSJ]
Strategy Session: In The Times of Israel, Yehuda Mirsky considers how the Palestinian national movement has not adopted the nonviolent protest strategies used by other movements. “Nonviolence means you don’t want your opponents to disappear, you want them to change their minds. Nonviolence means once things change, you and your opponent will need to live together, as neither victim nor oppressor. That was the future vision that propelled Nelson Mandela. It is not the future BDS leaders have had in mind. The actual existing BDS movement radicalizes Palestinian supporters and moderate Israelis in opposite directions. It tells the one that Israel the state itself must be crushed, and tells the others that moderation gets you nowhere.” [TOI]
Around the Web
On the Issues: A poll of Iowa Republicans found that more than half of those surveyed believed former President Donald Trump is the GOP candidate who would best handle the Israel-Hamas war; former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley came in second at 22%.
Vegas Sit-Down: Dr. Miriam Adelson met with Haley in Las Vegas last weekend during the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering; Adelson also met with Trump during the confab.
What’s Next: As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s domestic support craters, the Biden administration has engaged in conversations with former Defense Minister Benny Gantz and former Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid as Washington thinks about Israel’s long-term future.
Campbell’s Card: President Joe Biden nominated Kurt Campbell to be deputy secretary of state; Campbell currently serves as the National Security Council’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific.
Post-Hamas Prep: The U.S. and Israel are considering the deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force in Gaza as it looks at options for the enclave after Hamas is removed from power.
Differing Approaches: The Washington Post interviews Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) about her approach to the Israel-Hamas war, more than two decades after the now-Senate candidate urged the U.S. to exercise restraint after the 9/11 attacks.
Cairo Confirmation: The Senate confirmed by a voice vote Herro Mustafa Garg, a career foreign service officer, as the next U.S. ambassador to Egypt.
Santos Stays: A House effort to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY), led by most of New York’s GOP delegation, fell short, with 179 members voting to expel Santos and 213 voting against.
Battery Boost: Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Yadira Caraveo (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Randy Weber (R-TX) introduced a resolution in support of resupply for Israel’s missile-defense systems.
Policy Push: Forty-two House Republicans introduced a resolution calling on the administration to demand the release of all Hamas hostages, reinstate the Trump administration’s maximum pressure policy and re-freeze $6 billion in Iranian funds. Meanwhile, Israel confirmed that 242 people are believed to be held hostage in Gaza.
Buck Stops Here: Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) announced he will not seek reelection next year.
Constituent Call: Dozens of Jewish clergy members from Pittsburgh called on Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA) to more strongly denounce Hamas, calling her opposition to a House resolution supporting Israel and opposing the terror group “grotesque.”
Funding Fracas: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel should transfer frozen funds to the Palestinian Authority, days after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced Israel was halting the payments to the PA. The U.S. has also asked Israel to release the funds.
Dressing Down Doha: In a letter to the editor published in response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Qatar’s envoy in Washington, former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Ambassador Mark Wallace and former Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend criticize Doha for playing “all sides, performing the role of disinterested arbiter while its more authentic, pro-Hamas messaging is aired on its state-funded mouthpiece, Al Jazeera.”
Book Review: In The New York Times, Bloomberg editor Ethan Bronner reviews Saul Singer and Dan Senor’s The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World.
Funny Girl: The Wall Street Journal interviews actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus about her long-running career in comedy.
Tishby’s Take: The New York Times spotlights former Israeli antisemitism envoy Noa Tishby, who has become a media fixture in the U.S. for her commentary on the Israel-Hamas war.
Remembering: Health-care activist Ady Barkan died at 39.
Pic of the Day
Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff (center left) and Matthew Palmer (center right), the deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Embassy in the U.K., meet with members of the U.K. Jewish community in London on Wednesday.
Professor of economics at MIT, she won a MacArthur “Genius” fellowship in 2018, Amy Nadya Finkelstein turns 50…
Former NASA astronaut who made five flights in the space shuttle and is currently a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, he was one of NASA’s first two Jewish astronauts, Jeffrey A. Hoffman turns 79… County executive of Montgomery County, Md., Marc Elrich turns 74… Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink turns 71… Former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and vice chair of the DNC, Susan Wolf Turnbull turns 71… Professor emerita of Jewish studies at the University of Virginia, Vanessa L. Ochs turns 70… Research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Alan D. Abbey… CNN special correspondent, Jamie Sue Gangel turns 68… Former head of school at Weizmann Day School in Los Angeles for 28 years, Lisa Feldman… Professor of Jewish history at UCLA and immediate past president of the board of the New Israel Fund, David N. Myers… Deputy commissioner of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Joan F. Cohen turns 61… Financial planner at Grant Arthur & Associates Wealth Services, he is the author of a book on the complicity of Lithuania in the Holocaust, Grant Arthur Gochin… President of global content at Viva Creative, Thomas Joseph (Joe) Talbott… Marc Solomon… Former government affairs officer for 25 years in various departments of Microsoft, he served until earlier this year, John Sampson turns 57… Actor, director and producer, best known for playing Ross Geller in the sitcom “Friends,” David Schwimmer turns 57… Former assistant attorney general for Antitrust at USDOJ during the Trump administration, now a partner at Latham & Watkins, Makan Delrahim turns 54… Founder and CEO of Spring Hills Senior Communities, Alexander C. Markowits… Journalist and bestselling author, he is the publisher of The Daily Poster and a columnist at The Guardian, David Sirota turns 48… Eastern director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Michael Cohen… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Alexander Kushnir turns 45… Education editor for the Washington Post, Adam B. Kushner turns 43… Marc B. Rosen… Director of government relations at the Israel Policy Forum, Aaron Weinberg… Two-time Emmy award-winning video producer, now working as a staff editor for the home page of The New York Times, Celeste B. Lavin turns 33… CEO of Education Through Music and founder and sponsor of the Monna and Otto Weinman Annual Lecture Series at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Janice Shorenstein…