Good Wednesday morning.
In today’s Daily Kickoff, we profile Amos Hochstein, the trusted Biden advisor working to keep the Mideast from all-out war, and report on Senate candidate David Trone’s call for a cease-fire. Also in today’s Daily Kickoff: Rep. Kevin Mullin, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Gabriel Attal.
Antisemitic incidents in the United States have tripled in the three months since Oct. 7, compared to the same period a year ago, according to newly collected data from the Anti-Defamation League released exclusively to Jewish Insider.
The ADL’s preliminary data found that there were 3,283 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7, 2023, and Jan. 7, 2024. That’s nearly as many recorded incidents as there were in the entire calendar year of 2022. There were only 751 recorded incidents in the 2013 calendar year — just a decade ago.
The 3,283 recorded examples of antisemitic activity include: 60 incidents of physical assault, 553 incidents of vandalism, 1,353 incidents of verbal or written harassment and 1,317 rallies that included antisemitic rhetoric, expressions of support for terrorism against Israel and/or anti-Zionism.
“It’s shocking that we’ve recorded more antisemitic acts in three months than we usually would in an entire year,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “The American Jewish community is facing a threat level that’s now unprecedented in modern history,” Greenblatt continued.
College campuses were hit with 505 incidents, according to the new data. Another 246 were reported in K-12 schools, while at least 628 incidents were reported against Jewish institutions such as synagogues and community centers.
One of the most alarming examples of online anti-Jewish hate occurred in October at Cornell University, when a student posted threats to kill members of the university’s Jewish community — and was later arrested.
Other specific incidents cited in the ADL’s findings include a nationwide swatting spree targeting nearly 200 Jewish institutions; two eating clubs at Princeton University vandalized with pro-Palestine and anti-Israel graffiti, including the words, “F— Israel”; and a girls high school basketball game in Yonkers, N.Y., that was canceled after antisemitic slurs were directed at players from a Jewish day school by a public school team.
On the campaign trail, the first question at Fox News’ town hall with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last night was about his reaction to the Biden administration’s handling of Israel — and he gave a stalwart defense of the Jewish state.
“Israel is a rock-solid ally of ours. They’re the strongest ally we have in the Middle East. As president, I will stand with Israel – in word and in deed, in public and in private,” DeSantis said. “The Oct. 7 attack represented more Jews being killed than at any time since the Holocaust. Israel’s not just fighting a run-of-the-mill enemy, they’re fighting an enemy that wants a second Holocaust, that wants to wipe them off the map. So not only do they have the right, they have the responsibility to protect their people and end Hamas once and for all.”
In an effort to demonstrate his fight against antisemitism, DeSantis also put out a statement Tuesday directing Florida’s state colleges to more easily allow Jewish students to transfer into their schools, in response to the rising antisemitism at other schools.
The policy will waive credit hour requirements, application date windows and in some cases would grant in-state tuition, according to DeSantis’ announcement. “While leaders of ‘elite’ universities enable antisemitism, we will protect Jewish students and welcome them to Florida,” the governor said in a statement.
from jerusalem to beirut
Amos Hochstein, Biden’s go-anywhere, get-things-done guy, faces his toughest deal yet
Throughout 2022, Amos Hochstein was a frequent visitor to Jerusalem and Beirut as he negotiated a landmark agreement between Israel and Lebanon, delineating the warring countries’ maritime borders. Now, the close advisor to President Joe Biden is again a constant presence in the two Middle East capitals, trying to mediate between the nations to avoid a larger war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist group in southern Lebanon. Everyone is again telling him it can’t be done. But this time, they might be right. Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch talked to people close to Hochstein and the White House to learn more about his ever-widening portfolio, and his latest fool’s errand.
Expansive portfolio: Hochstein’s official title is deputy assistant to the president and senior advisor for energy and investment. Unofficially, he’s Biden’s go-anywhere, get-things-done guy — someone whose job is ostensibly to focus on wonky energy issues but who is increasingly the person dispatched by the president to deal with the most challenging global issues from Mexico to Africa to the Middle East.
Mission impossible: “Everyone told me it wasn’t possible, which is why it happened,” Hochstein said in September of the maritime agreement. “Then everybody leaves you alone. They think you’re crazy and you go and negotiate something.”
On the road: Last week, Hochstein met in Washington with Lebanon’s foreign minister before traveling to Israel for a series of high-level meetings with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is in Beirut this week. Gallant and Netanyahu told Hochstein that their preferred outcome for the increasingly unpredictable situation on Israel’s border with Lebanon is diplomatic — reaching a deal to push Hezbollah’s fighters back to the demarcation line in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, even as Israel targets Hezbollah fighters in attacks.
Washington connections: Hochstein’s portfolio entails a broad remit that reaches from China to Africa to the American heartland, encompassing everything from electric vehicle manufacturing domestically to the clean energy transition to the war in Ukraine. Before joining the Biden administration, he was an executive at a natural gas company. “People like people that are connected,” said Tom Nides, who was serving as U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Israel-Lebanon maritime negotiations. “It’s not easy getting into the Biden inner circle, but [Hochstein] is certainly part of it.”
Maryland Senate candidate Trone calls for cease-fire, criticizes Israeli military operation in remarks to anti-Zionist activist
Rep. David Trone (D-MD), a candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland who has been a staunchly pro-Israel member of Congress and was a major AIPAC donor, offered sharp criticism of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and endorsed a cease-fire — along with calling for a return of hostages — under questioning from an IfNotNow member at a recent event. In a video posted by the anti-Israel group IfNotNow, Trone, responding to a question at a meet-and-greet on Jan. 6, said that “what happened on Oct. 7 was absolutely horrendous and incomprehensible. But what’s happened since then is also horrendous and incomprehensible,” Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Hostage deal: Under follow-up questioning, Trone said, “We need a permanent cease-fire and the hostages released.” He repeatedly paired his calls for a cease-fire with the need to release the hostages.
Israel record: The comments are particularly striking coming from Trone given that he’s been among Israel’s most consistent and vocal supporters in Congress, was a top donor to AIPAC in his private life — having given at least $100,000 to the pro-Israel group — and has been outspoken through his wine and spirits business against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.
Rival response: Trone was joined in his support for a cease-fire by Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, against whom he is running for Maryland’s Senate seat, in a statement to JI on Tuesday evening. “The brutal attack on innocent Israelis on October 7 was horrific and the threat of Hamas should be removed from the world. Hamas must return the hostages to their families and we must move quickly towards a ceasefire,” she said. “I believe that the United States and all other nations should do everything in our power to stop the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians in Gaza, further prevent the humanitarian crisis that is growing and move towards a post war two state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security,” she continued.
targeted at home
Anti-Israel demonstrators scream at congressman, wife and children outside his home
Anti-Israel protesters screamed at Rep. Kevin Mullin (D-CA) and his wife outside their home in the California Bay Area as they escorted their young sons to their car, video shared by the demonstrators shows, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Home front: In video posted by protest organizers on Jan. 6, demonstrators — some of them with bullhorns and several of them filming on their phones — can be seen shouting at Mullin as he walked with his wife and small children from his home’s front door to a car parked on the street in the middle of the protest crowd. “I hope, God forbid, nothing ever happens to your children one day, like Palestinian children in Gaza,” a protester told Mullin and his family.
Cross fire: After Mullin told the group that he’d be happy to meet with them at his office, the demonstrators began shouting louder, standing near the open back door to Mullin’s car where his children were sitting. Multiple police officers can be seen keeping the protesters away from Mullin and his family. “You’re lying, you say these little talking points all the time. You’re a liar and a coward. You’re showing that,” one person screamed. “We are going to follow you everywhere. Every restaurant, every game, every business matter.”
Family targeted: In a second clip, the demonstrators targeted their taunts toward Mullin’s wife. “You are a woman and you are married to a congressperson with power. How do you sleep next to him every night when you have children in your home?” one person shouted, while others yelled “shame on you.”
On the Hill: Six protesters calling for a cease-fire were arrested outside the Longworth office of Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD).
on the hill
Senate progressives seek to block administration from circumventing Congress on Israel arms transfers
More than a dozen progressive Senate Democrats announced plans to introduce an amendment to the supplemental aid bill to Israel and other U.S. allies that would eliminate provisions allowing the administration to skip congressional review of arms transfers to Israel, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: The supplemental bill, as proposed by the administration and Senate Democratic leadership, includes a provision that would allow the administration to skip the standard notification to Congress and waiting period — during which lawmakers can attempt to block sales — before transferring weapons to Israel. The administration has utilized waivers allowing it to bypass congressional review for recent arms sales to Israel, prompting outrage from progressives.
Concerns: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who is leading the amendment, said in a statement that aid to Israel should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as U.S. assistance to other allies. “I have strongly supported U.S. aid necessary for Israel’s defense, but all nations should be subject to the same standard,” Kaine said. “I’m filing an amendment to maintain the congressional notification requirement for all U.S. foreign military assistance because Congress and the American taxpayer deserve to know when U.S. arms are transferred to any nation.”
Co-sponsors: Kaine’s amendment is being supported by Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Protest Politics: Politico’s Eugene Daniels looks at how “protest culture” is playing out in the halls of government in Washington, following a spate of anonymous letters from staffers critical of the Biden administration’s Israel policy. “In years past, it would be exceedingly rare for officials inside a White House to attempt to influence their own boss by going public with an internal disagreement over principle within his administration — at least without quitting first. Leaks to the press from administration officials have been a hallmark of political reporting for generations. And during the George W. Bush years, top White House aides occasionally went public to air their disagreements. But that was only after leaving their jobs first. ‘The bargain a staffer strikes has always been this: You get to influence the decisions of the most powerful government in the history of the world,’ said Paul Begala, who worked alongside [James] Carville in the Clinton White House. ‘In exchange for that influence, you agree to back the final decision even if it goes against your advice. If confronted with a decision that crosses one’s ethical, moral, social, political lines, the choice is clear: Shut up and support it, or resign.’” [Politico]
Mayor’s Mission: In The New York Times, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi calls for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It is undeniable that this war has brought a heavy cost to both sides. We trust the Israel Defense Forces’ commitment to minimizing civilian casualties and safeguarding our soldiers and hostages, but even the most ethical and advanced military cannot avoid tragic outcomes when facing an enemy that uses its own people as human shields. The world must understand that Israel’s fight is existential, that we will not cease until the Hamas threat is eradicated. The collective memory of Sderot’s people as refugees, the roots they planted and the homes they built are powerful testaments to our existence — we have no place else to go. Equally important is our commitment to rescue the hostages languishing in captivity in Gaza — 136, although two-dozen are presumed dead — including Sderot’s own Michel Nisenbaum, who was abducted while trying to save his granddaughter from the Hamas onslaught.” [NYTimes]
Talking Truth: In The Wall Street Journal, William Galston suggests that former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s resignation provides an opportunity to reflect on the “larger issues” now associated with her tenure. “In the apology Ms. Gay offered after her disastrous congressional testimony, she said that she had failed to convey ‘my truth.’ As several commentators have observed, this phrase is the tip of an epistemological iceberg. It stands for the proposition that the truth doesn’t exist and that the quest for it is futile. Instead, there are multiple ‘perspectives,’ each rooted in the position, experiences and sentiments of individuals or of groups in similar positions. If so, Harvard’s motto, ‘Veritas,’ expresses an antique metaphysics that should no longer guide the academy’s aspirations. … John Stuart Mill famously said, ‘He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.’ In testing the strength of an argument, the presence — and clash — of multiple views is essential. This kind of diversity is central to the purpose of the university, which is why the dominance of a single point of view in the faculty and student body is so damaging to the academic mission. If people with unpopular views are cowed into silence, everyone loses and the search for truth is impeded.” [WSJ]
MIT Departure: In The Free Press, MIT lecturer Mauricio Karchmer explains his resignation from the institution, which comes in response to its handling of the post-Oct. 7 atmosphere on campus. “Students at MIT and other elite colleges have been radicalized by faculty members who have encouraged and even led the student body to become social justice warriors, supporting their highly progressive political beliefs. America’s brightest minds are being manipulated by a force they don’t even understand to adopt a narrow view of the world. That this is happening at a place where they’re meant to be exploring a wealth of ideas and have their thinking challenged shocks me. … My letter stated, in part: ‘I cannot continue teaching Algorithms to those who lack the most basic critical thinking skills or emotional intelligence. Nor can I teach those who condemn my Jewish identity or my support for Israel’s right to exist in peace with its neighbors.’ My boss asked me to reconsider. But my mind was already made up. It has been one month since I’ve resigned, and for now, I’m spending a lot of time reflecting. I still have hope MIT can return to its roots — offering one of the best science and engineering educations in the world — and that the good forces can beat the bad.” [FreePress]
A Bridge Too Far: City Journal’s Nicole Gelinas calls for New York officials to take action against protesters whose demonstrations bring parts of the city to a standstill. “It’s not just the disruptions themselves that wreak havoc, but their unpredictability. Anyone venturing into or out of a busy area of New York City, on any form of transportation, including on foot, must contend with the risk that his route will be blocked and delayed without warning. Even some ‘minor’ inconveniences aren’t really minor — airlines had to delay flights on New Year’s Day when crew couldn’t get to their planes at JFK on time — and these blockages can cause danger, too, stalling emergency vehicles. Moreover, though there is no excuse for violence, frustrated motorists inevitably lash out at protesters, as one stranded driver did Monday, shoving a man standing in the roadway; inevitably, unless police quickly reassert order, people will try to do it themselves, with eventual tragic results. This fresh deterrent to spending time or money in the city comes when most people still haven’t returned to four- or five-day-a-week commutes. Tourist trips, too, remain well below pre-Covid levels, with 8 percent fewer hotel rooms sold last year relative to 2019, and Broadway still missing 17 percent of its pre-2020 attendees.” [CityJournal]
Around the Web
White House Line: The White House reiterated the Biden administration’s opposition to a cease-fire in Gaza, with John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, saying at Tuesday’s press briefing, “We don’t support a cease-fire at this time, and there’s no change to that, because we don’t believe it benefits anybody but Hamas right now,” adding that the U.S. supports “humanitarian pauses but not a general cease-fire right now.”
Medical Update: Walter Reed Medical Center released a statement saying Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was being treated for prostate cancer, which had not been previously disclosed to the public or the White House, days after reports broke that the top Defense Department official was hospitalized for complications from a recent procedure.
Open Seat: Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN), brother of former Vice President Mike Pence, will not seek reelection to the House of Representatives.
Hochul on Hate: In her “State of the State” address delivered yesterday afternoon, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul noted in her opening remarks that “safety at the grocery store, the synagogue, or the subway is always top of mind.” Among Hochul’s proposals is an effort to expand the list of offenses that can be prosecuted as hate crimes.
Not Fit to Print: Patrick Soon-Shiong, the biotechnology billionaire who owns the Los Angeles Times, clashed with Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida, who resigned on Tuesday, over Merida’s decision to prevent journalists who signed a petition condemning Israel’s war against Hamas from covering the conflict.
Lack of Diversity: More than 250 Jewish figures in the entertainment industry signed on to an open letter criticizing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for excluding Jews from its diversity initiative.
Bay Area Brouhaha: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a revised version of a resolution calling for a cease-fire, after a series of meetings that included outbursts from community members and inflamed tensions among residents.
Tunnel Trouble:Rolling Stonelooks at how a story about a rogue group of Jewish students in Brooklyn constructing an illegal tunnel “sparked an onslaught of antisemitic conspiracy theories.”
On the Case: Police in El Cerrito, Calif., are investigating as a hate crime an incident in which a man was filmed shoving a woman carrying an Israel flag at a demonstration calling for a cease-fire in Gaza; the man forcibly took the flag from the woman and then set it on fire.
Theater Circuit: The New York Times’ chief theater critic reviews “Prayer for the French Republic,” a new Broadway show about antisemitism in France.
BBC Mea Culpa: The BBC apologized for a December report accusing the IDF of carrying out executions in the Gaza Strip, saying the broadcaster, which is facing an inquiry from the U.K.’s media regulator over its coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, “had not made sufficient effort to seek corroborating evidence to justify reporting the Hamas claim.”
Corbyn Move: Former U.K. Labour party head Jeremy Corbyn, who was ousted following an investigation that found that antisemitism proliferated within the party under his leadership, is joining the South African delegation at the International Court of Justice, where Pretoria has accused Israel of commiting genocide.
Youth Movement: French President Emmanuel Macron tapped Gabriel Attal, whose father was Jewish, as the country’s next prime minister.
Canberra’s Call: A new Australian law implemented this week bans displays of Nazi salutes and swastikas, with offenders risking up to a year in jail.
Olmert’s Option: In The Wall Street Journal, Judith Miller relays former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s explanation for why he did not green light a strike that would have killed top Hamas brass in 2007.
Turtle Bay Talk: The U.N. Security Council is slated to vote today on a resolution calling for an immediate end to Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, hours after the U.S. Navy shot down a barrage of rockets fired by the Iran-backed group in Yemen.
Beijing’s Bypass: China’s COSCO Shipping is no longer stopping at Israeli ports, potentially driving up shipping costs for Israeli carrier ZIM, which will have to run more Far East routes.
Package Deal: Saudi Arabia’s envoy in London said that Riyadh is prepared for normalization with Israel alongside a “stable, independent, sovereign nation for the Palestinians,” comments that were echoed by Secretary of State Tony Blinken during his visit to Israel this week.
Riyadh Rejection: Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers, led by King Salman, rejected Israeli actions in Gaza as well as statements from far-right Israeli officials calling for the displacement of Palestinians outside of Gaza.
Pic of the Day
French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti (left) and Yonathan Arfi, president of Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of Francer (CRIF), attend a commemorative ceremony on Tuesday night to pay tribute to the victims of the terror attack on Paris’ Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket that killed four people, on the ninth anniversary of the 2015 attacks.
Actor with a recurring role in “Sex and the City” and author of two books on his recovery from acute myeloid leukemia, Evan Handler turns 63…
Founder of the Center for Research on Institutions and Social Policy, Adam Walinsky turns 87… Conservative columnist and author, David Joel Horowitz turns 85… Physician and medical researcher, Bernard Salomon Lewinsky turns 81… Executive editor of Denver’s Intermountain Jewish News, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Ph.D. turns 78… President of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston for 30 years, now a professor at Brandeis, Barry Shrage turns 77… Former president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Baron David Edmond Neuberger turns 76… Musician, singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band “Steely Dan,” Donald Fagen turns 76… World renowned Israeli cellist, Mischa Maisky turns 76… U.S. senator (R-MO) until one year ago, Roy Blunt turns 74… Longtime editor at Bantam Books, Simon & Schuster and Crown Publishers, Sydny Weinberg Miner… Retired executive director at Beta Alpha Psi, Hadassah (Dassie) Baum… Founder and CEO at Los Angeles-based Quantifiable Media and Tel Aviv-based Accords Consulting, Rose Kemps… Fellow for religious freedom at the Freedom Forum Institute after 33 years at AJC Global, Richard Thomas Foltin… Professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, Jonathan D. Sarna turns 69… Majority owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob turns 68… Member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism party, Uri Maklev turns 67… U.S. senator (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen turns 65… Member of the U.K.’s House of Lords and advisor to the government on antisemitism, Baron John Mann turns 64… Theatrical producer, playwright and director, Ari Roth turns 63… Vice chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, Beth Ellen Wolff… Author and journalist best known for his novels Gangster Nation, Gangsterland and Living Dead Girl, Tod Goldberg turns 53… Member of the Knesset for Likud, Galit Distel-Atbaryan turns 53… Film director and screenwriter, Joe Nussbaum turns 51… Caryn Beth Lazaroff Gold… Founder of Affinity Partners, Jared Kushner turns 43… Advisor and speechwriting director for Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for 11 years until last year, Adam David Weissmann… Senior spokesperson on terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury, Morgan Aubrey Finkelstein… Israeli rapper, singer and songwriter, Michael Swissa turns 28… Andrew Tobin… Debbie Seiden… Florida Democratic chair and longtime DNC member, Mitch Ceasar…