Good Monday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we talk to some of the Israelis caught up in the largest internal displacement in the country’s history following the Oct. 7 attacks, and spotlight the United Democracy Project’s first forays into the 2024 elections. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Jeff Zucker.
Some of Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) Democratic allies are starting to speak out against the lawmaker’s anti-Israel extremism, after she posted a video on Friday accusing President Joe Biden of supporting “genocide” for backing Israel’s war against Hamas. The video also featured footage of a pro-Palestinian rally in Michigan where attendees chanted a slogan widely perceived to be an antisemitic call for the elimination of the State of Israel.
In the video, Tlaib threatens not to support Biden’s reelection in 2024. “Mr. President, the American people are not with you on this one,” the congresswoman said, adding, “We will remember in 2024.”
Tlaib also defended her promotion of the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” in the video on X after receiving widespread criticism. She called the slogan an “aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.”
All this was enough for two of Michigan’s leading Democratic officials to call out Tlaib and demand she retract her statement.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a liberal Democrat, wrote on X: “@RashidaTlaib, I have supported and defended you countless times, even when you have said the indefensible, because I believed you to be a good person whose heart was in the right place. But this is so hurtful to so many. Please retract this cruel and hateful remark.”
Nessel’s comments followed an X post by state Senate President Pro Tem Jeremy Moss, a Democrat, who told Tlaib that Hamas uses the “from the river to the sea” slogan as a call to kill all Jews.
And late Sunday, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who is running for the Senate, put out a more delicately worded response critiquing her colleague. “As the only Jewish member of MI’s congressional delegation, I have worked to reach out to Arab & Muslim constituents who I know are feeling fear and anguish right now, & I have tried to reflect that empathy in my approach to this crisis. I ask the same of @RepRashida,” Slotkin wrote on X. “The phrase ‘from the river to the sea’ is one of division & violence, & it is counterproductive to promoting peace.”
It’s not just Michigan Democrats who are calling out Tlaib. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who is up for reelection in 2024, wrote on X on Sunday: “’From the river to the sea’ is a call for eliminating the state of Israel that rejects a two-state solution & puts Jews in danger. We must reject extremism, no matter which side of the aisle it comes from. America’s support for Israel remains unwavering.” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is collecting signatures on a letter that denounces the use of the phrase, which the letter says “is used by many, including Hamas, as a rallying cry for the destruction of the State of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people.”
It’s not the first time Tlaib has run into trouble for using the phrase. In 2020, she retweeted a post including the same slogan, before deleting it amid criticism from the Jewish community — suggesting she’s aware of how the phrase is viewed by the Jewish community.
All this comes as outside pro-Israel Democratic groups are preparing to target Tlaib in 2024. The Democratic Majority for Israel PAC went up with its first ad of the 2024 election last week, attacking Tlaib for being “on the wrong side of history and humanity.”
On Capitol Hill, the ranks of lawmakers supporting a humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza grew to over 100 on Friday, although the calls remain largely relegated to progressives. Nearly 60 lawmakers joined a letter stating that they are “gravely concerned by Israel’s military operation and conduct that fails to limit harm to non-combatants and vulnerable populations,” as well as raising concerns about settler violence in the West Bank and calling for diplomacy to achieve a two-state solution.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) became the 24th lawmaker to call for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in a statement on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), while calling for an end to the Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza, said on CNN that he doesn’t “know how you can have a permanent cease-fire with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel.” Asked what his plan would be to eliminate Hamas, Sanders said he didn’t know, adding that was best left to military experts.
First in JI: Several Jewish organizations are partnering with a major law firm to launch a free legal protection hotline for students who have experienced antisemitism on college campuses, Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch reports. The hotline’s creation is one attempt to remedy the maze of complicated legal and bureaucratic jargon — see our report from last week — facing students who wish to report instances of antisemitism on campus.
CALL, the Campus Antisemitism Legal Line, will be staffed by a team of volunteer lawyers and overseen by Hillel International, the Anti-Defamation League, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Students, parents, faculty members and staff can report an incident online or by texting “CALLhelp” to 51555.
gaza war: day 31
Israeli forces prepare to enter Gaza City
Israeli forces were reportedly preparing to enter Gaza City on Monday after strengthening their perimeter positions over the weekend around the area considered to be the heart of Hamas’ military operations, effectively cutting the Palestinian enclave in two. IDF updates on Monday said that fighter jets had struck some 450 targets in the Gaza Strip, including tunnel infrastructure, observation posts and anti-tank missile launch posts. The IDF also said that ground forces had taken control of at least one Hamas military compound and killed several of the terror group’s commanders. Among those killed, said the army, was Jamal Mussa, whom it said was responsible for Hamas’ special security operations and who had carried out an attack against IDF troops in 1993, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash and Lahav Harkov report.
Israeli death toll: In addition, the Israeli military said eight IDF soldiers were killed in battles in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of soldiers killed since Israel began its ground incursion a week ago to 33. The army also notified the family of Yam Glass, 20, an observer in the Border Defense Corps who had been thought to be among the 241 hostages in Gaza, that her body had been identified.
No cease-fire: Speaking to troops at the Ramon Air Force Base on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his position that there would be no cease-fire without the return of all the hostages. “This [idea of a cease-fire] should be completely removed from the lexicon,” he said. “We say this to our friends and to our enemies. We will simply continue until we defeat them. We have no alternative.”
Israel, U.S. differ over Palestinian Authority’s future role in Gaza
The Israeli government and Biden administration offered differing ideas for the Palestinian Authority’s role in a post-Hamas Gaza over the weekend, with Israel seeking “security control” and a senior Israeli official cautioning that the PA wants to “destroy” Israel, while Secretary of State Tony Blinken stressed Washington’s intent to center the PA in conversations about the future of the Palestinian enclave. “No one has any illusions about the Palestinians,” the senior Israeli official told Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov. “The Palestinian Authority wants to destroy the Jewish state in stages and politically, and Hamas wants to do it violently and abruptly.”
Different visions: Once Hamas is removed from Gaza, Israel must have the “ultimate security control” over the Strip, a diplomatic source told reporters at a briefing on Sunday. Blinken visited Ramallah on Sunday as part of his shuttle diplomacy in the region to press for pauses in the fighting between Israel and Hamas for humanitarian aid, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said can only happen if the terrorist organization releases hostages. “Palestinian voices have to be at the center” of shaping the future of Gaza, the West Bank and “ultimately” a Palestinian state, Blinken said following the visit.
Education, education, education: A new study from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) showed that at least 14 teachers and staff members at schools run by UNRWA — the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants — celebrated the Oct. 7 massacre on social media. One UNRWA teacher living in Gaza called a video of a rocket strike in Israel a “splendid sight.” An UNRWA school’s Facebook page posted a video of a young boy praising Hamas “jihad warriors” and reading from an Islamic Education textbook inciting violence against Israel.
Israel grapples with country’s biggest internal displacement in history
From a distance, Ein Bokek, Israel’s popular vacation spot on the shores of the Dead Sea, looks as picturesque and peaceful as ever. Yet the lowest point on earth – some 60 miles away from the deadly war now raging in Gaza – shows its own signs of war, serving for the past month as a shelter for thousands of Israelis displaced following Hamas’ brutal terror attack on Oct. 7 and Israel’s military response, Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash reports.
From Be’eri to Ein Bokek: At the David Hotel, one of the larger hotels in the tourist area, some 900 members of Kibbutz Be’eri – one of the communities hardest hit by Hamas’ atrocities on Oct. 7, with around 100 people murdered and at least 30 held hostage in Gaza – mill about with an energy that belies the usual serene mood of a luxurious resort. A month after their world was literally blown apart, there is no rest or relaxation happening among those staying at the David.
A hotel transformed: In the expansive hotel lobby, a heartbreaking display of photographs of friends and loved ones, including many children, kidnapped by Hamas reminds those who arrive of the sober reality here. Outside, beside the pool, therapists have set up a Zulu healing booth, offering the hotel’s new residents a respite from the nightmare. In the conference hall, volunteer psychologists offer more intensive therapy behind makeshift partitions, and opposite, racks of donated clothing and other goods sit ready to help the people here to rebuild their shattered lives. “We are refugees,” Ayelet Hakim, 55, told JI. “It’s true that we are not on the streets, but we have nowhere to go back to, everything we had was destroyed.”
United Democracy Project super PAC targets Lee, Bowman, Massie over anti-Israel votes
In its first major investment of the primary cycle, United Democracy Project, a pro-Israel super PAC affiliated with AIPAC, is now running a series of attack ads hitting two left-wing House members as well as a GOP congressman over their stances on the Israel-Hamas conflict, scoops Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Bipartisan blitz: The bipartisan group is spending significantly to target Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Summer Lee (D-PA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), a libertarian Republican who frequently opposes pro-Israel legislation. Massie was the only GOP lawmaker to join with nine Democrats, including Bowman and Lee, in voting against a House resolution standing with Israel and condemning Hamas — the main subject of UDP’s slate of ads.
Six-figure ad buys: “Their constituents deserve to know that these members of Congress refused to vote on the House floor to condemn the horrific Hamas terrorism attacks on October 7,” Patrick Dorton, a spokesperson for UDP, said in a statement to JI on Friday. “This is an initial six-figure buy in each of these three districts.”
Opening salvo: The new ads represent an opening salvo from UDP, which spent millions last year, as it gears up for a heated primary cycle in which sharp divisions over Israel are already shaping a number of House races. The Massie spots, which began running on Saturday, are especially notable because UDP has, until now, exclusively targeted Democrats — even as AIPAC has long sparred with the veteran lawmaker.
House approves new Iran oil sanctions
The House voted 342-69 on Friday in favor of the Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum (SHIP) Act, a package of new Iran sanctions targeting the country’s oil production, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
The votes: All but one of the votes against the bill came from Democrats, including senior caucus members Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC). Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI) said she voted against the bill by accident.
The goal: The bill aims to slash Iranian oil revenues, which hit record highs earlier this year and serve as a major source of income for the regime, helping to fund terrorism and other malign activities. It would apply new sanctions on ports that accept sanctioned vessels and anyone who refines, offloads, sells, transports or transfers Iranian oil. The sanctions are targeted squarely at China, the largest importer of Iranian oil.
Concerns: Even some Democrats who supported the legislation expressed concerns about the scope of the sanctions included, and argued that its impacts would be muted if they are not made multilateral. “In today’s interconnected economy, where China is a major player and trading partner of the United States, we cannot be shielded from economic impacts these sanctions might cause,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), a co-sponsor of the bill, said on the House floor last week. He also said that the sanctions cannot be “an end in themselves” and that he’d hope to see the presidential waiver provisions — ”one of the strictest standards that can be found in law” — loosened in conference negotiations with the Senate.
Bonus: Thirteen Senate Republicans urged Secretary of State Tony Blinken to pursue a new United Nations Security Council Resolution reinstating the U.N.’s pre-2015 sanctions regime on Iran, including sanctions on its nuclear program and an arms embargo. They also urge the administration to pursue sanctions on Iranian industries including oil and metals. Acknowledging that China and Russia are likely to block this attempt, the letter urges the U.S. to begin conversations with U.S. allies about the path to addressing Iran after the U.N. sanctions regime expires permanently in 2025.
Mission Made Clear: In The New York Times, Israeli President Isaac Herzog explains why Israel’s military objective in the Israel-Hamas war is the total eradication of the terror group. “It would have been unthinkable to hear such moral confusion uttered after the Sept. 11 attacks or after bombings in London, Barcelona and Baghdad. When I spoke to a joint meeting of Congress this year, I said terrorism ‘contradicts humanity’s most basic principles of peace.’ It turns out that not everyone agrees. All of this shows that this collision of values is happening not just here in Israel but everywhere and that the terrorist ideology threatens all decent people, not only Jews. History has taught us that foul ideologies often find the Jewish people first — but tend not to stop there. We find ourselves on the front lines of this battle, but all nations face this threat, and they must understand that they could be next.… For us and for the Palestinians, the suffering will end only with the removal of Hamas. Anyone trying to tie our hands is, intentionally or not, undermining not only Israel’s defense but also any hope for a world where these atrocities cannot happen.” [NYTimes]
Rowan’s Role: The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Louise Ensign spotlights the stance that University of Pennsylvania alum Marc Rowan, who sits on the board of trustees of UPenn’s Wharton School, has taken over the school’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. “Campaigning publicly for social issues is new for Rowan, who’s better known for discussing the wonky ins-and-outs of finance. He runs a firm where top executives encourage sparring openly about business strategy in meetings, and now he’s bringing that approach to the cloistered world of higher education. What set off Rowan and other major donors was Penn’s response to the violence in Israel. On Oct. 10, Penn President Liz Magill called the assault ‘horrific’ but didn’t explicitly condemn Hamas. The donors had already been upset about what they saw as growing antisemitism on campus and the school’s response to it. ‘I don’t think the intent was for it to be forceful,’ Rowan says of the response to the attacks. ‘I don’t think the university gives a crap, to be candid.’” [WSJ]
In This White House: In the Washington Examiner, former senior White House aide Tevi Troy looks at the history of internal dissent in the White House, following reports that administration staffers have voiced disagreement with the Biden administration’s position in the Israel-Hamas war. “As a historian, I learned about previous moments of internal administration tension from memoirs, archives, and history books. In these earlier episodes, voters usually did not know what was happening behind the scenes. Today, a more aggressive press corps and the prevalence of social media mean that we often learn about these things in something much closer to real time. Furthermore, many administration aides and offices have their own Twitter accounts, which sometimes give us glimpses into internal disagreements. … If Biden holds the line against his internal critics and perhaps even sidelines or gets rid of them, that will send a strong signal that not only does he stand with Israel, but he also wants to return his party to the ‘Scoop Jackson’ party that it once was. On the other hand, if he caves to the internal pressure, that would indicate that the Democrats are likely beholden to their progressive anti-Israel voices despite popular support for Israel in the country at large.” [WashingtonExaminer]
Family First: In The New York Times, Alana Zeitchik, whose six cousins are being held hostage by Hamas, describes the dual pains she faces in advocating for her relatives’ freedom while being met with silence by peers ambivalent about her plight. “All around me I have witnessed a silence so enormous, it feels cacophonous; I have seen former co-workers be so quick to share unverified headlines fed by Hamas yet say only a few private words of sympathy to me. It would appear they believe my suffering to be collateral damage in service of some universal truth they hold higher. Is it really impossible to hold these two truths at the same time — that both Israeli and Palestinian civilians are suffering at great cost? Or are they simply unwilling to express that publicly? I’m not sure which is worse. I have felt lost watching progressive friends, women’s rights activists, influencers and celebrities I admire stumble to find the words to condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians, among them six of the human beings I love most in the world.” [NYTimes]
Dealing with Doha: In The Hill, the Misgav Institute’s Asher Fredman and Meir Ben Shabbat, the latter of whom is a former Israeli national security advisor, suggest how Washington could change its approach to Qatar to address its harboring of terror leaders and support for Hamas. “For years, Israel allowed Qatar to provide economic support to civilian sectors in Gaza out of a desire to meet the humanitarian needs of the population and enable basic economic development. Hamas cynically took advantage of the civilian population and this humanitarian approach for its own ends. Since the attack, Qatar has been working to position itself as a positive force in the hostage negotiations. In practice, it appears that Qatar is working with Hamas to delay or narrow Israel’s offensive against the terrorist group through the release of a slow and sporadic trickle of hostages (to date, four out of 230). Qatar’s overall goal remains ensuring that Hamas retains control over Gaza following the Israeli operation. America, Europe and Israel cannot continue to treat a sponsor of a terrorist organization as an ally or positive partner.” [TheHill]
Around the Web
Podcast Playback: Former President Barack Obama addressed the Israel-Hamas war in an interview with “Pod Save America,” saying, “What Hamas did was horrific and there’s no justification for it. And what is also true is that the occupation and what’s happening to Palestinians is unbearable.” He later added: “You have to admit that nobody’s hands are clean, that all of us are complicit to some degree.” Politico‘s Rachael Bade described Obama’s remarks as “jaw-dropping” and “a striking jab at not only Israel, but against Obama’s own former vice president.”
Burns on the Ground: CIA Director Bill Burns arrived in Israel yesterday for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Mossad head David Barnea, among others, as part of a broader Middle East tour.
Cause for Concern: U.S. antisemitism envoy Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt decried what she described as a “gobsmacking” rise in global antisemitism following the Oct. 7 attack.
Ghastly Accounts: Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL), who recently visited Israel and Rwanda with a congressional delegation, writes in Newsweek that the scenes of Hamas’ attack were “eerily reminiscent of the accounts I heard in Rwanda,” where “the horrors of the Rwandan Genocide are not so distant.”
Teachers for Trone: Rep. David Trone (D-MD), who alongside Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is seeking the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), was endorsed by the state’s largest teacher’s union.
Campus Beat: NYU hired a professor who posted on the day of the Oct. 7 attacks that “Unprovoked is a dishonest framing. A free Palestine is possible because of how Palestinians have worked to keep alive and remake other framings, other futures.”
Council Conundrum: One of the organizers of last month’s “Flood Brooklyn for Palestine” protest has received $6.8 million in taxpayer dollars from the New York City Council.
Unfit to Print: A New York Times writer who ran afoul of newsroom policies by signing into a statement denouncing the Israel-Hamas war resigned from the newspaper.
Money Matter: Ella Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, is raising money for the Ohio-based Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund.
Apprehended: A Jordanian national in Texas who federal investigators believe was plotting an attack against Houston’s Jewish community was arrested on gun charges.
Aid from Above: Jordan’s air force conducted an airdrop of medical aid to a Jordanian hospital in Gaza, in coordination with Israeli officials.
Jerusalem Attack: Two Israeli Border Police officers were injured in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.
Party Politics: Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas called for the resignation of a Ra’am MK who alleged that female victims of the Oct. 7 attacks were not sexually assaulted and that babies were not killed in the Hamas massacre.
Photos Finished: Commercial satellite companies are restricting access to images from Gaza, after The New York Times based a report on IDF tank movements on satellite images.
Delhi’s Decision: The Economist looks at how efforts to deepen Israel-India relations in recent years are playing out during the Israel-Hamas war.
Prime Time: The Financial Times interviews former CNN head Jeff Zucker about the future of cable news and former President Donald Trump’s reelection bid.
Transition: Evan Bernstein, previously CEO of the Community Security Service, is joining Jewish Federations of North America as the organization’s inaugural vice president of community relations.
Pic of the Day
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew (center left) meets on Sunday with family members of the Israelis being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
Founder of Nourish Snacks, she is the host of NBC’s “Health & Happiness” and author of 15 New York Times best-sellers, Joy Bauer turns 60…
Leading teacher in the Breslov Hasidic movement in Israel, Rabbi Yaakov Meir Shechter turns 93… Belgian theoretical physicist, a Holocaust survivor and 2013 Nobel prize laureate, François Englert turns 91… Former president and CEO of American Jewish World Service until 2016, prior to that she served as the Manhattan borough president, Ruth Wyler Messinger turns 83… Former commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul turns 77… Former aide to President Bill Clinton and a longtime advisor to Hillary Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal turns 75… Research scientist at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, Barbara Volsky turns 73… Senior chair of Sullivan & Cromwell, Joseph C. Shenker turns 67… Actress and cellist best known for her lead role in the 1984 film “Footloose” and the television series “Fame,” Lori Singer… and her twin brother, violinist, composer and conductor, he is the founder and music director of the Manhattan Symphonie, Gregory Singer both turn 66… Managing director of the NFL Players Association, Ira Fishman turns 66… Editorial page editor and op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times until four months ago, Nicholas Goldberg turns 65… Professional poker player from Las Vegas, he has won nine World Series of Poker bracelets and his total tournament winnings exceed $43.5 million, Erik Seidel turns 64… Principal and COO at Douglass Winthrop Advisors, Andrew S. Weinberg… SVP of investments in the Beverly Hills office of Raymond James, Seth A. Radow… Chairman at IDTFS Bank in Gibraltar, he is a partner in Covenant Winery, Geoffrey Rochwarger turns 53… Executive at Elliott Management and author of the newly published The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World, Dan Senor turns 52… Program director for Jewish life at the William Davidson Foundation, Kari Alterman… Film producer together with her husband Robert Downey Jr., Susan Nicole Levin Downey turns 50… South Florida entrepreneur, Earl J. Campos-Devine… Head cantor of Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City, Yaakov (“Yanky”) Lemmer turns 40… and his younger brother, the first Haredi-born Jew to sign a contract with a leading record label, Shulem Lemmer turns 34…