Good Tuesday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we report on how Israel’s Bedouin communities are reacting to the Oct. 7 attacks, and look at a renewed push on Capitol Hill to revoke the visas of non-American supporters of Hamas terrorism, following MIT’s admission that it did not suspend students who participated in pro-Hamas activities over concerns they’d lose their student visas. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Attorney General Merrick Garland, Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
A historic crowd is expected on the National Mall in Washington this afternoon to show support for Israel, demand the release of the hostages held by Hamas and condemn the antisemitism sweeping through the country, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen reports for Jewish Insider.
Over 60,000 people are set to pack the area, from the Capitol’s West Front to the Capitol Reflecting Pool, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. for the March for Israel rally, according to the Jewish Federations of North America, which noted that the permit for the event allows for that number of people. The event is set to feature a lineup of prominent figures, interfaith leaders and more than 100 family members of Israelis being held captive in Gaza by Hamas. The hostages’ relatives traveled to the gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in Queens, N.Y., last night, ahead of their journey to Washington.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) headline the congressional lineup of speakers. They will be joined by Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), co-chairs of the bipartisan task force focused on combating antisemitism.
Also speaking will be: Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog and Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism.
The rally is scheduled to open with remarks from CNN political commentator and civil rights activist Van Jones and will include speeches from actors Debra Messing and Tovah Feldshuh.
Soviet dissident and former Israeli politician Natan Sharansky, Arielle Mokhtarzadeh of the Milken Institute and Mijal Bitton of the Shalom Hartman Institute are expected to speak during a “Freedom” segment.
Family members of the some 240 hostages in Gaza who plan to speak include Orna Neutra, the mother of Omer Neutra; Alana Zeitchik, whose six family members are being held hostage; and Rachel Goldberg, the mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, an American-born Israeli man who was seen on video being taken captive by Hamas. Read more here.
Earlier in the day, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will attend a screening of footage compiled from the Oct. 7 attacks, and the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians will meet ahead of the rally.
hand in hand
Jews, Bedouins unite in face of Hamas terror attacks on Israel
The community center on the outskirts of the southern Israeli city of Rahat looks like many others in Israel during these days of war: Hundreds of volunteers work double time to fill neat rows of white cardboard boxes with all manner of basic staples and fruit for distribution to thousands of families hardest hit by Hamas’ mass terror attack on Oct. 7. Yet, Rahat, which sits less than 20 miles from the Gaza Strip, offers a slightly different perspective on a story that has already claimed thousands of victims and dragged Israel into a five-week war that shows no signs of slowing down, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
Community impact: With some 80,000 residents, Rahat is one of the largest Bedouin Arab cities in the entire Middle East and a central hub for hundreds of smaller, undocumented Bedouin villages and tribal communities that dot Israel’s Negev region. Its deeply religious and conservative population has also felt the impact of the war — as well as the horrors of Hamas’ brutal attack. “It is not easy for us to talk about,” Daham Ziyadna, from the Ziyadna tribe near Rahat, told JI. “We are talking about people who were murdered, we are talking about people who were kidnapped by Hamas.”
No distinction: “Hamas came into Israel and attacked everyone, including people who were clearly Muslims, women wearing hijabs and speaking Arabic,” continued Ziyadna, whose cousin, Yousef, 53, and his three children, Hamza, 23, Bilal, 18, and Aisha, 17, were taken hostage by the Palestinian terrorists from their workplaces on Kibbutz Holit. According to Ziyadna, the Hamas terrorists either did not believe the Bedouins they encountered during their murderous rampage were Muslims or they did not care. “They [Hamas] called us Jews and murdered us,” he said, highlighting that more than 20 Bedouins were shot and killed by Hamas terrorists, and that the community continues to face hardship.
Administration officials receive lukewarm reception from Jewish leaders on campus antisemitism
Top officials from the Department of Education met virtually with Jewish community leaders on Monday to discuss the agency’s actions to combat rising antisemitism on American college campuses. But several of the attendees left the meeting concerned that the department is not responding with the urgency they feel the antisemitism crisis deserves, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports.
Following up: Monday’s meeting came two weeks after Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, met with a small group of Jewish leaders and pledged to make a plan within two weeks to address the wave of antisemitism on campuses.
No clear plan: “They did not give us a plan to deal with an unprecedented surge in antisemitic activity,” said Ken Marcus, chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. Instead, Marcus said, the Education Department leaders on the call — Deputy Secretary Cynthia Marten and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon — touted steps already taken by the Biden administration and expressed concern about the problem without offering many new approaches.
Happening today: The House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, chaired by Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), will hold a hearing titled “Confronting the Scourge of Antisemitism on Campus.”
AG Garland: ‘No tolerance for illegal threats fueled by antisemitism’
As antisemitic incidents and violent threats continue to rise in the United States, the Department of Justice is doubling down on its efforts to protect Jewish communities, Attorney General Merrick Garland told Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch on Monday. “The overwhelming rise in antisemitic threats has renewed a familiar sense of fear and isolation for the Jewish community,” Garland said. “But that familiarity does not make what is happening any less painful. We have no tolerance for illegal threats fueled by antisemitism or by hatred of any kind.”
Antisemitism uptick: In the month since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 316% compared to the same period last year, according to data released Monday by the Anti-Defamation League. In that period, the Department of Justice has filed federal criminal charges against several Americans accused of making threats against the Jewish community, including a Cornell undergraduate who allegedly called for the death of Jewish students and pledged to “shoot up” the school’s kosher dining hall and a Nevada man who made violent threats against Sen. Jackky Rosen (D-NV), who is Jewish.
Dept. outreach: “No person and no community should have to live in fear of hate-fueled violence,” Garland told JI. “This Justice Department has no higher priority than protecting the safety and the civil rights of every person in our country.” Garland’s comments come as the Justice Department ramps up its outreach to Jewish communal leaders. Garland, FBI Director Chris Wray and other top DOJ officials met last week in Washington with the leaders of prominent Jewish organizations across the religious spectrum.
Republicans link Hamas attack to immigration fights at home
In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Republicans on Capitol Hill have honed in on efforts to revoke visas from individuals who’ve expressed support for Hamas and endorsed its attack in the ensuing weeks, in addition to efforts to bar Palestinians from entering the U.S. and link the Hamas attack to border security concerns, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Visa revoked: Since the Hamas attack, Republicans in the House and Senate have tried on more than half a dozen occasions to pressure the administration to revoke visas for any foreign nationals who have expressed support for the Hamas attack on Israel, through legislation and letters to officials, as well as various other public statements. Some of those letters have focused on identifying and revoking visas from students who have participated in pro-Hamas demonstrations or otherwise expressed support for Hamas’ activities.
Looking south: Scrutiny of visas for Palestinians and anti-Israel demonstrators also comes alongside a push by the GOP to connect the Oct. 7 attack to disputes with the Biden administration over border security — accompanied by another slew of letters to administration officials and legislative proposals.
Retirement: In an announcement that could shake up Democratic pro-Israel dynamics on Capitol Hill, Amy Rutkin, the longtime chief of staff for Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and a key power player in Democratic Israel politics, will be retiring at the end of the year. Rutkin was also a co-founder of New York Jewish Agenda and a former director of government relations and public policy for Hadassah. Nadler does not plan to retire, according to a spokesperson. Daniel Silverberg, a former senior foreign policy staffer on the Hill, told JI, “Amy served as a critical bridge among various elements of the Democratic caucus, particularly among the progressive and hawkish voices. She was always so passionate, pragmatic and resolute in maximizing Democratic support on issues related to Israel and the Jewish community.” He described her retirement as “a serious loss.”
Poison Pills: The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin looks at how Syria’s illegal sale of the amphetamine Captagon is providing a boost to Iran-backed proxies, including Hamas, across the Middle East. “The highly addictive methlike drug Captagon typically comes in small white pills exported by the millions across the Middle East and beyond. Its manufacturing is directly linked to the Syrian armed forces and the family of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. In addition to being a dictator, war criminal and mass murderer, Assad can now add the title of drug kingpin to his résumé. Exporting these drugs worldwide earns him several billion dollars a year. To get Captagon, named after a former brand of fenethylline, into Europe, the Syrian regime built a distribution network that includes cooperation with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Italian mafia…. Israeli officials have repeatedly confiscated large Captagon shipments heading into Gaza. Iranian- supported militias operating in Syria and Iraq play a key role, because they control Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan. They are using the profits from reselling the drugs to purchase weapons and expand their territory. Assad’s cut helps keep him in power and insulates him from international sanctions.” [WashPost]
‘Counsel Culture’: In Time magazine, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt questions the reluctance of many to condemn antisemitism in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attacks. “From the halls of high schools to the campuses of our universities, from the streets of Brooklyn to the suburbs of Los Angeles, Jewish Americans feel under threat. It is inexcusable, and it must end. That starts not with a cancel culture, but with a counsel culture. We need to engage and educate those who are naïve or misunderstand what is going on…. But for those who glorify Hamas, celebrate the massacre of Jews, and continue to harass and intimidate, or for institutions that turn a blind eye or can’t bring themselves to clearly condemn antisemitism, we need a ‘consequence culture.’ We must hold them accountable. We must act because the Jewish experience teaches us that at some point the golden era can end. We don’t have the luxury to assume it’ll all work out.” [Time]
No Man Is An Island: The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot cautions against the Republican Party’s return to isolationist policies. “What worries me these days is the lack of unity and resolve on the right. That includes the return of conservative isolationism. The proponents of this view would not identify themselves with that term, but the policies they espouse justify it. Senators, think-tank leaders, Silicon Valley billionaires with a podcast, even presidential candidates argue in some way or another in favor of a U.S. retreat from the world. They start by denying that defending Ukraine is in our interests. But listen and you can hear where this goes. Next they say we should consider withdrawing from NATO or South Korea. They are willing to support Israel, at least for now, but that won’t last if it means engaging more in the Middle East. …I am not arguing for willy-nilly intervention around the world. We must pick our spots. Prudence is a conservative virtue abroad as much as at home. We should also not fight wars that we are not willing to do what it takes to win. But when friends ask for help to defend themselves, we should make sure we have the strength and weapons to help them — and defend ourselves in the bargain.” [WSJ]
Campus Climate:The Atlantic’s Tom Nichols considers the present situation on college campuses. “After so many years on campuses, I am not shocked by protests against Israel. I have seen many; most of the students protesting now are too young to remember the lionizing of Yasser Arafat and demonstrations supporting the Palestine Liberation Organization in an earlier era, for example. The protests in the aftermath of the Hamas attack, however, seem different to me. Many of them are sharply defined by a juvenile viciousness, a paradoxical mixture of childish exuberance and evident — and growing — menace. … The emergence of so much racist, bullying trollery shows how deeply the thrill of self-actualization has tempted young people into a decadent waltz with an ancient and hideous hatred. This behavior is all the more appalling because it comes disproportionately from a privileged class of young men and women who are rationalizing their moral destitution for the sake of a transitory sense of self-satisfaction.” [TheAtlantic]
Mommy Dearest:Vanity Fair’s Mark Chiusano looks at the relationship between Rep. George Santos (R-NY) and his late mother, Fatima, a native Brazilian whose background the congressman lied about extensively during and after his congressional campaign. “There is something touching about Santos’s ambition to construct a pioneering, world-bestriding life for his mother, constructing a false memory palace in her honor, boosting her to heights she was never quite able to see. Over the years, he has told whoppers about his father, exaggerating Gercino’s achievements as well. But on the public stage it was to his mother’s memory that he returned over and over again. Fatima’s genuine American story began sometime in the 1980s. Immigration records suggest that she came across the southern border in the San Diego area, and found work in Florida. Her introduction to American life was more Grapes of Wrath than Gatsby, far from the life of wealth and privilege Santos pretended she’d led.” [VanityFair]
Around the Web
Fuel Fiasco: State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller confirmed that Hamas declined Israel’s offer of fuel for use at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City; an American official confirmed to CNN that Hamas built a command center underneath the hospital.
False Equivalence: A leaked dissent memo authored by a junior diplomat at the State Department and signed by roughly 100 State Department and USAID staffers accused Israel of “war crimes” and suggested an equivalence between hostages being held by Hamas and “thousands” of Palestinians being held in Israel. Secretary of State Tony Blinken sent an all-staff memo addressing internal concerns over the administration’s policies on the Israel-Hamas war.
Nearing a Deal: The Washington Post reports that Israel and Hamas are nearing an agreement that would see the release of most of the women and children being held hostage in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and young people being held in Israel.
House Update: Rep. Gabe Amo (D-RI), who was sworn in yesterday, will join the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
She’s Running: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) announced her bid for governor of Virginia; the Cook Political Report moved her House seat from “likely Democrat” to “lean Democrat” after the announcement.
Shot Down: Eight House Republicans voted with Democrats to quash an effort by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to force an immediate vote on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Dearborn’s Delegate: The New York Times talks to constituents in Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) congressional district about her comments about the Israel-Hamas war, for which she was censured by Congress.
State Safety: N.Y. Gov. Kathy Hochul met with Jewish leaders to discuss the deployment of investigators around the state and along the Canadian border as part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, amid a rise in antisemitism.
UPenn Problems: Len Blavatnik penned a letter to the administration of University of Pennsylvania, at whose medical school he established a scholarship in 2018, calling on the school to “examine how the university’s culture has deviated from its foundational moral values and implement changes to bring it back in line.”
Evanston’s Efforts: Northwestern University announced the creation of a new committee tasked with combating antisemitism; in response, the campus’ chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine posted “From the river to the sea” — a chant commonly associated with calls for the destruction of Israel — on its Instagram page.
History Lesson: The Washington Post looks at the origins of antisemitism at the collegiate level in the United States.
Cambridge Concerns: Harvard’s graduate student union endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and called for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
No-Fly Zone: Birthright Israel canceled its trips slated for next month, the first time in the organization’s 25-year history that it has canceled trips due to war.
Friedman’s Thoughts: The New York Times’ Tom Friedman calls on President Joe Biden to formulate a peace plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video Evidence: The IDF posted a six-minute video recorded inside Gaza’s Rantisi Hospital, part of which showed an area under the hospital where some Israeli hostages are believed to have been kept.
Sinwar Siblings: In Commentary, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Jonathan Schanzer spotlights brothers Yahya and Mohammed Sinwar, who are top targets in Israel’s operations in Gaza.
Gaza Update: Israeli officials said they believe an Israeli hostage, who was nine months pregnant on Oct. 7, has given birth inside Gaza. Canadian-Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver, who was originally believed to have been taken hostage, was declared dead after her remains, found inside her home, were identified. The IDF confirmed the death of Noa Marciano, an Israeli soldier who was held hostage in Gaza and featured in a video released by Hamas last night which at first showed her alive and talking to the camera, and then cut to her dead body.
Gruesome Job: The Financial Times spotlights the civilian volunteer who created a compilation of footage from the Oct. 7 attacks that the IDF has been screening for select audiences of journalists, diplomats and officials.
MIA in DXB: The Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems stands at the Dubai Air Show were empty on opening day, while Elbit had a staffed stand at the gathering.
Hostage Video: A Russian-Israeli academic who disappeared seven months ago in Iraq and is believed to be held by an Iran-backed Shiite group appeared in a video addressing the Israel-Hamas war.
Transitions: Ethan Sorcher is now a legislative assistant for foreign affairs in Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-NJ) office. He was previously the domestic affairs coordinator at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Shulem Deen is joiningShtetl as managing editor.
Pic of the Day
Keisim, leaders in the Ethiopian Jewish community, mark the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday.
Former U.S. secretary of state, now on the faculty of Stanford University and the director of the Hoover Institution, Condoleezza Rice turns 69…
Cellist and professor at Moscow Conservatoire, Natalia Gutman turns 81… Former professional bodybuilder who played for two seasons with the New York Jets, Mike Katz turns 79… Los Angeles businessman and activist, Stanley Treitel… Retired member of the U.K.’s House of Lords, Baron Jeremy Beecham turns 79… Former British Labour Party MP who resigned in 2019 in protest of Jeremy Corbyn, Dame Louise Joyce Ellman turns 78… Television director and producer, her neurotic text messages to her daughter are the subject of the CrazyJewishMom Instagram page, Kim Friedman turns 74… Editor-at-large for Bloomberg View, Jonathan I. Landman turns 71… Former Democratic member of the New York State Assembly from Brooklyn, Steven H. Cymbrowitz turns 70… Senior advisor to President Barack Obama throughout his eight-year term in the White House, she is now president of the Obama Foundation, Valerie Jarrett turns 67… Detroit-based communications consultant, Cynthia Shaw… President of Middlebury College in Vermont, Laurie L. Patton turns 62… Partner at the Santa Monica-based law firm of Murphy Rosen, Edward A. Klein… Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of political science at The George Washington University, Sarah A. Binder… Vice chairman of The Atlantic and managing director of media at Emerson Collective, Peter T. Lattman… and his twin brother, SVP at Forman Mills, Brian Lattman, both turn 53… Member of the Colorado House of Representatives until seven weeks ago when she became a Colorado state senator, Dafna Michaelson Jenet turns 51… Former deputy national security advisor for President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes turns 46… Head of public policy and government affairs for Lime, Joshua Meltzer… Actress and comedian best known for her eight years as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” Vanessa Bayer turns 42… Senior advisor for strategic communications to the Secretary of the Army, Jacob Freedman turns 41… Rabbi of the Sha’ar Hashamayim Synagogue in Indonesia, Yaakov Baruch turns 41… Israeli conductor and pianist, Nimrod David Pfeffer turns 39… Founder of White Light Strategies, Lana Talya Volftsun Fern… Actress and producer, she is a daughter of Bette Midler, Sophie von Haselberg turns 37… First baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, he played for Team Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Spencer Elliott Horwitz turns 26…