Debate over Trump’s remarks continues | State of the 2020 race | One Israeli’s social network for immigrants
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DRIVING THE CONVO — Jewish leaders stress bipartisanship amid Trump’s repeated attacks on Jewish Democrats — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Criticism over President Donald Trump’s “disloyal” comments continued for a second day as the president doubled down on his Oval Office statement via Twitter and later in a gaggle with reporters. “In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and you are being very disloyal to Israel,” Trump stated outside the White House on his way to Marine One.
In a tweet yesterday morning, the president shared comments made by a conspiracy theorist who granted him the title “King of Israel.” The tweets, in which the president also quoted a claim that Israeli Jews “love him like he is the second coming of God,” provoked widespread confusion, outrage and a wave of mockery on Twitter.
Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban told JI that the “president is factually wrong with his statement and he should not have said it.”
In an interview with Jewish Insider, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that he disagrees with Trump’s remarks because relying just on one party — whether it be Republican or Democrat — “spells a disaster for the Jewish people.” Hier, who gave the invocation at Trump’s inauguration in 2017, also laughed off the idea of applying the title ‘King of Israel’ to the president. “No, there’s no King of Israel. We have had our kings. Now we have our democratically elected leaders, prime ministers and presidents,” he said. “We have had enough kings of Israel, we don’t need another King of Israel.”
Former NYC Councilman David Greenfield added: “We’ve learned over thousands of years that whenever government officials single us out, it’s usually not good for the Jews.” [JewishInsider]
Spokespeople for both Agudath Israel of America and the Orthodox Union (OU) told JI they don’t have anything to say about Trump’s “disloyal” comments.
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — President Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin spoke on Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to stress the importance of keeping support of Israel a bipartisan matter in the wake of the president’s remarks. “The relationship between the State of Israel and the United States is a link between peoples, which relies on historical ties, deep and strong friendships and shared values that are not dependent on the relationship with one particular party,” Rivlin told Pelosi, according to a readout provided by the Israeli president’s office.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained silent over the matter, and his cabinet ministers have refused to criticize Trump, Rivlin told Pelosi: “We must keep the State of Israel above political disputes and make every effort to ensure that support for Israel does not become a political issue.”
Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, told JI that even the Israelis “who think Trump is the best thing that has ever happened to the Jewish state feel that things have gotten a little bit out of control.” But according to Meir, it’s “hard to blame” Netanyahu for not countering Trump “since it is likely that he will need Trump before the very tight Israeli elections, less than a month from now,” Nonetheless, she said, “things have really gotten out of hand,” and Rivlin “is trying to act like the responsible adult here.”
Meir quipped that perhaps Rivlin and Netanyahu should coordinate their responsibilities in handling U.S.-Israel relations, in which the prime minister maintains his warm relationship with the Republican Party, while Rivlin can focus on strengthening support for Israel in the Democratic Party.
ON THE HILL — In a statement on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused Trump of “encouraging — wittingly or unwittingly — antisemites throughout the country and world.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said, “Donald Trump may delusionally call himself ‘king of Israel,’ but it is clear that he is no friend to the Jewish community.”
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) said in a statement, “As a proud Jewish American, I am dismayed that the President is attacking millions in the American Jewish community as unintelligent and disloyal. These are centuries-old tropes that create an antisemitic environment.” Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) said on CNN’s “Outfront”: “I don’t care whether he knows what he is doing or not. He is a danger to Jewish people in this country.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) wrote on Twitter: “The president loves the Jewish people & the U.S.-Israel alliance… It’s been a rough year with some new House Dems who feel very differently & an activist base siding with them. It’s POTUS’ belief Jews shouldn’t be voting Dem & he articulated it in a way that stirred debate, controversy & criticism.”
Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign’s COO, responded to the widespread criticism in a statement: “Democrats continue to embrace and defend the most vitriolic antisemites in their midst, who sympathize and side with terrorist organizations who want to wipe Israel from the map. As a Jew myself, I strongly believe that President Trump is right to highlight that there is only one party — the Democrats — excusing and permitting such anti-Jewish venom to be spewed so freely. In stark contrast, there is no bigger ally to the Jewish community at home and around the world than President Trump.”
In a response to a request from The Washington Post, White House press secretary Stephanie Grishman produced a list of instances she said proved the antisemitism of “the Squad” that Trump has repeatedly attacked. The list only referenced Tlaib and Omar, citing their support of the BDS movement and several of their tweets.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani blasted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for criticizing Trump’s remarks. “Any number of my Jewish friends have said exactly the same thing,” Giuliani told the New York Daily News. “It’s completely stupid. They say, ‘How can we vote for Democrats when they support the destruction of the State of Israel?’ [Trump] got their attention, that’s for sure.”
HOW IT PLAYED — Writers, thinkers, activists and partisans across the Jewish spectrum weighed in on Trump’s comments on Wednesday. In The Washington Post, Tablet magazine’s Yair Rosenberg wrote that Trump believes he is praising Jews while trafficking in classical antisemitism: “Trump believes all the antisemitic stereotypes about Jews. But he sees those traits as admirable.” New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss posited that “A president with authoritarian tendencies who cares about nothing more than lock-step loyalty is not one American Jews, let alone anyone, can rely on.” New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait mocked the president in a column titled “Trump says Jews should love him because he’s almost literally Jesus.”
In The Atlantic, Peter Beinart wrote that “Trump has repeatedly spoken about American Jews as if they were Israelis… the implied threat: You Jews are guests here. Israel is your true home.” And Carly Pildis penned an impassioned treatise in Tablet titled: “What Donald Trump will never understand about Jews: Whole swaths of the American political establishment are treating us like morons… As though we couldn’t recognize both the left and the right have antisemitism problems. Be furious at BOTH. Demand better from BOTH. Look at your side of the aisle and raise hell — that is what you owe your people, your tribe; not lockstep agreement or partisanship, but the courage and conviction to demand the very best from those you vote for, volunteer, donate to, identify with.”
REPORT — Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro reportedlysought to assist Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in setting up meetings with ex-Israeli security officials and both Jewish and Arab Knesset members before Israel decided to bar her from entering the country last week, a congressional source told The Times of Israel.
ON THE TRAIL — Democratic presidential candidates campaigning around the United States also pushed back against the president’s remarks. Former Vice President Joe Biden reacted to Trump’s statement while campaigning in Newton, Iowa on Wednesday: “Come on man. That’s like a dog whistle.” Speaking to reporters, Biden added: “The fact is that talking about loyalty and being disloyal and whether or not, I mean, come on — that’s not who the American Jewish community is. The American Jewish community is extremely well informed and involved and they come from a core value set. You know there’s an expression and I can’t say it in Yiddish, but ‘what comes from the heart goes straight to the heart.’ … They understand that and Trump does not understand it at all.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) contrasted Torah teachings about love and kindness with what he described were Trump’s efforts “to try to divide us against each other, to demean and degrade us… I am a guy who studied the Torah since I was 20 years old,” Booker told reporters. “I know Jewish values and there are words [like] ‘Tzedakah, Chesed.’ There’s an idea in Judaism about kindness, decency and mercy… One of the greatest Jewish ideals is to welcome the stranger…These ideals are not being evident by the president of the United States.” [Video]
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told Iowa Starting Line: “It gives me no pleasure to say this, you have a president who is a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a religious bigot and a homophobe. To suggest that Jewish people in this country would be, disloyal — I think was the word that he used — by voting for a Democrat is, again, completely outrageous and it is beyond belief that a president of the United States would say such a terrible thing. Trump wants to divide us up, we’re going to bring people together, and that’s why we are going to beat him.”
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke told reporters: “I can think of nothing more un-American, more resonant with what you might see in the Third Reich, than what the president said.”
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro said: “What it really says is that he’s worried that Jewish Americans will see him for the racist and the bigot that he is. He has fostered antisemitism in this country.”
STATE OF THE RACE — by JI’s Ben Jacobs: A number of Democrats have one week to make the next debate in September — and there is little left many of them can do to change that.
On Tuesday, Julian Castro became the 10th Democrat to qualify for the next debate, when the former HUD secretary reached 2% in his fourth qualifying poll. There are currently three Democratic candidates who have reached the 130,000 unique donor threshold needed to qualify, but have not hit the polling threshold. Billionaire Tom Steyer needs one more qualifying poll, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) needs two, and author Marianne Williamson needs four.
The polls must be conducted by August 28 to count towards qualification for the third debate in September. Therefore the fates of Steyer, Gabbard and Williamson rest in the hands of pollsters deciding if they want to go into the field over the next week. For Steyer, one poll will suffice, but Williamson needs a miracle.
A number of the candidates have already written off their chances of appearing in the September debate, and are instead focusing on qualifying for the October debate. This gives them extra time to reach the 130,000 donor threshold — key for candidates like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who said earlier this week she is roughly 20,000 donors away — but also to rack up the necessary number of qualifying polls.
All qualifying polls for the September debate will count for October as well, which helps Gillibrand, who has one qualifying poll so far, and is advertising heavily in states like Iowa and New Hampshire to boost that total.
Campaigns on the bubble are relatively fatalistic about missing the third debate. However, the cutoff for the fourth debate will raise the stakes. If candidates can’t make it in the fall, it will be very difficult for them to get their message out to voters moving forward. In the meantime, they just have to pray that pollsters would rather spend the dog days of August in the field than on the beach.
Meanwhile, Washington Governor Jay Insleeannounced on Wednesday that he’s dropping out of the 2020 race. During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Inslee said it has “become clear I’m not going to be carrying the ball — I’m not going to be president, so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race.” Sources close to Inslee toldThe Associated Press that the two-term governor plans to seek a third term in his home state. Inslee — who centered his campaign on climate change — had reached the debate-qualifying threshold of 130,000 individual donors, but not the polling requirements.
2020 BRIEFS — 2020 candidates are racing to match Warren’s ground game, and the ad dollars show it… Trump critics eye GOP primary race, even if defeating him seems ‘preposterous’… Joe Walsh reportedly expected to announce presidential run… In Iowa, Democrats court the long-overlooked Native American vote…
AT THE UN — Leah and Simcha Goldin, the parents of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose remains are still being held by Hamas, met Wednesday with Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon. [Pic]
The Goldins penned an op-ed in The Washington Post Wednesday titled: “Our son, Hadar Goldin, was abducted by Hamas. We want his remains returned: What’s needed now is concrete action by the United Nations and the United States to put these ideas into practice: Make Hamas’s cynical holding of Israeli remains — of our son and his fellow soldier, Oron Shaul, and the two civilian hostages, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — a burden instead of an asset.” [WashPost]
TALK OF THE REGION — Iraq paramilitary force blames U.S. and Israel for mystery blasts: “A powerful Iran-backed paramilitary force in Iraq has said it holds the U.S. responsible for a series of blasts at its bases in recent weeks. The deputy head of the Popular Mobilisation, which is dominated by Shia militias, alleged that US forces had brought four Israeli drones into the country to target its positions. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis said the force would use ‘all means at its disposal’ to prevent and deter future attacks. The U.S. and Israel have not commented.” [BBC]
RACE TO THE KNESSET — Joint List leader Ayman Odeh announcedThursday that he would be willing to join a center-left coalition designed to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, marking a historic shift for Israel’s Arab political parties. In an interview with Yediot Aharonot, Odeh laid out his terms for joining the government, including freezing private home demolitions in the West Bank and repealing a law that dispenses harsher punishments for building infractions. Blue and White’s Gabi Ashkenazi, however, immediately said that his party would not sit with any faction “that does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” Other members of the Joint List also poured cold water on Odeh’s statement, saying he was not speaking for the entire party.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Amazon seeks new local vendors in Israel as it eyes expansion [WSJ] • L brands’ profit beats amid Les Wexner cloud, disappoints on outlook [Bloomberg] • Scandalized billionaire Steve Wynn pays $43M for Palm Beach mansion [NYPost] • Photog sues Steven Spielberg for blocking his view of ‘West Side Story’ film set [NYPost] • Alex Sapir accused of mismanaging family fortune amid feud with Rotem Rosen [RealDeal] • Shares of Teva up 3% on positive migraine trial [MarketWatch] • Via to manage New York’s school bus system [Calcalist] • Israel eases rules on cyber weapons exports despite criticism [Reuters]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Social network Homeis thinks a safe space for immigrants online is possible — by Sara Ashley O’Brien: “Ran Harnevo, 44, is the co-founder and CEO of new startup Homeis — a social network that feels like a hybrid between neighborhood social networking app Nextdoor and Facebook. It’s a place for people born in foreign communities to find each other in their new home city for tips, dates, jobs and more. For example, Israelis living in New York City can find recommendations on locating authentic Israeli cuisine or babysitters and doctors who speak Hebrew nearby. Harnevo was inspired to create Homeis after moving to New York City for his past startup and struggling to call it home.” [CNNBusiness]
SIX FEET UNDER — Jeffrey Epstein has been laid to rest in unmarked tomb besides his parents at a Jewish mausoleum in Florida — by Ben Ashford: “This unmarked stone crypt at an exclusive Jewish mausoleum is the likely final resting place of Jeffrey Epstein… Sources believe the pedophile financier’s remains were transported to Loxahatchee, Florida so they could be entombed beside his parents, Pauline ‘Paula’ and Seymour Epstein.” [DailyMail]
INTERVIEW — Gamal Palmer: On being black, gay, and Jewish in America — by Jeffrey Masters: “As a young boy, Gamal Palmer — Senior Vice President of Leadership Development at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles — would sit in his local synagogue, wearing a yarmulke and in mid-prayer, as people would routinely approach to ask if he was Jewish.” [Advocate]
SPORTS BLINK — Yasiel Puig spends day off at camp for kids with cancer — by Mandy Bell: “Yasiel Puig… took advantage of his first free day in three weeks to rent a helicopter that would fly him to visit Camp Simcha in New York’s Catskill Mountains. It is the only kosher overnight summer camp for children and teens with cancer, and it hosts children battling other diseases, most of which are terminal… So how did Puig, a Cuba native, get involved with a Jewish organization? That tie dates back to the outfielder’s first year in the big leagues with the Dodgers in 2013. He attended a Lakers game and was introduced to a man named Irv Bauman, who quickly became one of his best friends. The two text nearly every day and Bauman’s grandson, who was helping out with the camp, requested that his grandfather ask a favor of the Major Leaguer.” [MLBNews]
When the Donald Sterling saga rocked the NBA — and changed it forever — by Ramona Shelburne: “Donald Sterling had been a blight on the NBA for three decades. There were dozens of incidents that could have been grounds to kick him out of the league, but this tape was something else… The NBA’s players were appalled. They threatened to boycott playoff games if new NBA commissioner Adam Silver didn’t get rid of Sterling quickly and definitively… Within four days, the entire course of NBA history had changed.” [ESPN]
CAMPUS BEAT — Brandeis University investigates posts on antisemitic site: “School safety officials are investigating after images from the university’s website appeared on the Vanguard News Network Forum, which promotes white nationalist views. The photos were posted in a thread containing hundreds of other images along with comments mocking the appearance of Jews. The university issued a campus letter this week saying that the situation is ‘obviously disturbing’ but that safety officials found ‘no direct threat’ to Brandeis or those depicted in the photos.” [AP]
TALK OF THE TOWN — South Philly’s historic Jewish community is growing. She opened a new synagogue to serve it — by Oren Oppenheim: “Last month, in a former Vespa scooter shop on East Passyunk Avenue, [Hadas ‘Dasi’ Fruchter] opened the doors of a Modern Orthodox synagogue that she named the South Philadelphia Shtiebel — Yiddish for a small, homey house of worship. On a recent Saturday night, the sounds of drums and guitars filtered into the street during a two-hour kumzits musical gathering, as Fruchter led about 20 congregants singing and jamming by candlelight… The Shtiebel held its first Friday night services on July 19, with about 70 people attending. The following week, about 30 came.” [PhiladelphiaInquirer]
Prosecutor probes possible hate crime in synagogue shooting: “Prosecutors are investigating to determine whether hate crime charges are warranted in the shooting of a 68-year-old man outside a North Miami Beach synagogue. Miami-Dade police arrested Carlints St. Louis, 30, on Tuesday, a day after he reported his gun stolen from a car spotted outside the synagogue. He’s charged with attempted felony murder, discharging a weapon from a car and aggravated battery on a person over 65.” [MiamiHerald]
American-born Israeli woman, 25, detained in Russia for 4 months over 9 grams of cannabis — by Talia Kaplan: “A 25-year-old woman with dual American and Israeli citizenship has been behind bars in Russia since April after authorities allegedly found nine grams of cannabis in her luggage while she was traveling — and her family has been fighting for her freedom for months. ‘My sister is falling apart,’ Naama Issachar’s sister, Liad Gold, told Fox News Wednesday. ‘She is in a Russian prison where no one speaks English and she is at her breaking point.’” [FoxNews]
LONG READ — How Canada imprisoned Jewish refugees alongside POWs — by Carly Stern: “Erwin Schild was just 20 years old and had already survived Dachau concentration camp when he boarded a military ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Quebec. When the SS Sobiesky docked in Canada in July 1940, the Cologne, Germany, native hoped the imprisonment and discrimination he and other Jewish refugees had faced in Europe was at an end. Instead, the Canadian government placed them into various prisoner-of-war camps, where they would reside for two years.” [Ozy]
ACROSS THE SEA — German theme park shuts swastika-shaped ride — by Liam Stack: “An amusement park in Germany shut down a new attraction this week after complaints that it resembled a pair of giant, spinning swastikas that lifted riders into the sky over the Black Forest town of Löffingen… Rüdiger Braun, the owner of the park, told reporters from the European Broadcasting Union that until the backlash, he had not noticed the ride’s resemblance to an iconic symbol of Nazi Germany. Mr. Braun told the news service that he apologized ‘to all persons who feel disturbed and insulted by our design’ and said that the ride would be redesigned to have three cars on each arm instead of four.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Founder of Elliott Management, Paul Elliott Singer turns 75… Chairwoman of Israel’s Strauss Group, Ofra Strauss turns 59… Emmy Award-winning television news journalist, Morton Dean turns 84… Former director of Prozdor, the high school program of the Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, Margie Berkowitz turns 76… Los Angeles dermatologist, Joyce Naness Fox, MD turns 73… Co-founder of NewsGuard, Steven Brillturns 69… Former Chief of Staff to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby (family name was Liebowitz) turns 69…
Portland, Oregon’s MarqueLampert Scherer turns 69… Chairman of Israel Military Industries (now known as IMI Systems) and former member of the Knesset, Yitzhak Aharonovich turns 69… Robin Elcott turns 63… Former MLB outfielder, then investment banker, until 2017 he served as U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and also served as President of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida, Ambassador Mark Gilbert turns 63… Former investment banker who left his job to run a Los Angeles-based homeless service provider, he is now a professor at USC, Adlai W. Wertmanturns 60…
Co-founder of Marquis Jet, former rapper and part-owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Jesse Itzler turns 51… Director of strategic partnerships at The Paul E. Singer Foundation, Deborah Hochberg turns 46… Deputy mayor of Lawrence, NY, political consultant and investor, Michael Fragin turns 46… Project coordinator for “The Conversation: Jewish In America” gathering, Rachel Saifer Goldman turns 45… Co-executive director of Christians United for Israel, Shari Dollinger turns 42…
Trump’s inauguration rabbi: “We don’t need another King of Israel”
Criticism over President Trump’s ‘disloyal’ comments continued for a second day as the president doubled down on his Oval Office statement on Twitter and later in a gaggle with reporters. “In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and you are being very disloyal to Israel,” Trump stated outside the White House on his way to Marine One. In a morning tweet, the president shared comments made by a conspiracy theorist who granted him the title ‘King of Israel.’
In an interview with Jewish Insider, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that he disagrees with Trump’s remarks because relying just on one party — whether it be Republican or Democrat — “spells a disaster for the Jewish people.” Hier, who gave the invocation at Trump’s inauguration in 2017, also laughed off the idea of applying ‘King of Israel’ title to the president. “No, there’s no King of Israel. We have had our kings. Now we have our democratically elected leaders, prime ministers and presidents,” he said. “We have had enough kings of Israel, we don’t need another King of Israel.”
“We’ve learned over thousands of years that whenever government officials single us out, it’s usually not good for the Jews,” former NYC Councilman David Greenfield added.
Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban told JI that the “president is factually wrong with his statement and he should not have said it.”
Yossi Gestetner, a commentator and co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC), maintained that Trump is echoing the feedback he gets for his policies on Israel and “welcomes it.” But nonetheless, “people should not be lectured about their loyalty to countries or lack thereof.”
Menashe Shapiro, a NYC-based consultant who has worked with both Democrats and Republicans, likened Trump’s comments to the ‘it’s all about the Benjamins” tweet by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) earlier this year. Shapiro, who identifies as part of the Orthodox Jewish community, mocked the president for claiming the ‘King of Israel’ moniker. “Trump wouldn’t last one minute in the Jewish community, a community whose strongest traditions and teachings were cultivated in argument, difference of opinion, and disagreeing without being disagreeable,” he told JI. “He’d be laughed out of the ‘bais hamedrash’ (study hall) or worse, excommunicated for false prophecy or delusions of extreme grandeur and omnipotence.”
IsraeliPresident Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin spoke on Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to stress the importance of keeping Israel a bipartisan matter in the wake of the president’s remarks. “The relationship between the State of Israel and the United States is a link between peoples, which relies on historical ties, deep and strong friendships and shared values that are not dependent on the relationship with one particular party,” Rivlin told Pelosi, according to a readout provided by the Israeli president’s office.
Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator told JI that even the Israelis “who think Trump is the best thing that has ever happened to the Jewish state, feel that things have gotten a little bit out of control.”
While Prime Minister Netnayahu has remained silent over the matter, and his cabinet ministers have refused to criticize Trump, Rivlin told Pelosi, “We must keep the State of Israel above political disputes and make every effort to ensure that support for Israel does not become a political issue.”
But according to Meir, it’s “hard to blame” Netanyahu for not countering Trump “since it is likely that he will need Trump before the very tight Israeli elections, less than a month from now,” but nonetheless, “things have really gotten out of hand.” President Rivlin, she said, “is trying to act like the responsible adult here.”
Meir quipped that perhaps Rivlin and Netanyahu should coordinate their responsibilities in handling U.S.-Israel relations, in which the prime minister maintains his warm relationship with the Republican Party, while Rivlin can focus on strengthening support for Israel in the Democratic Party.
Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign’s COO, pushed back against criticism of the president in a statement: “Democrats continue to embrace and defend the most vitriolic antisemites in their midst, who sympathize and side with terrorist organizations who want to wipe Israel from the map. As a Jew myself, I strongly believe that President Trump is right to highlight that there is only one party — the Democrats — excusing and permitting such anti-Jewish venom to be spewed so freely. In stark contrast, there is no bigger ally to the Jewish community at home and around the world than President Trump. He withdrew from the disastrous Iran deal, which threatened Israel’s safety; he moved the U.S. embassy to its rightful place in Jerusalem; and he stands up for Israel at the United Nations. All of these are important pieces of information that all voters, Jewish or otherwise, should know.”
Jewish groups slam Trump ‘disloyalty’ statement | Israeli official claims Bibi willing to counter Trump… but only on peace plan
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DRIVING THE CONVO — On Tuesday, President Donald Trump dropped another bombastic claim in his campaign to paint Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as the face of the Democratic Party. “I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
On Twitter, Trump also mocked Tlaib over her emotional performance on Monday in response to Israel’s decision to restrict her travel last week. “Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears,” Trump wrote. “I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an antisemite.”
Jewish Democrats and mainstream American Jewish groups rushed to condemn Trump’s statement, while the Republican Jewish Coalition defended the president. Read all the reactions here: [JewishInsider]
Several 2020 candidates also chimed in. Former Vice President Joe Bidentweeted: “these comments are insulting and inexcusable — just like your previous dual loyalty insinuations. Stop dividing Americans and disparaging your fellow citizens.” Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourkewrote: “The Jewish people don’t need to prove their loyalty to you, Donald Trump — or to anyone else.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shared on Twitter: “I am a proud Jewish person and I have no concerns about voting Democratic. And in fact, I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the next president of the United States.”
Israeli officials, meanwhile, were largely silent on Trump’s comments. Netanyahu’s office declined to respond, and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on the radio Israel “must not intervene in the political disagreements in the United States. We keep good relations with both the Democrats and Republicans and we must continue to do so.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 79% of Jewish voters supportedDemocratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.
MORE REACTION — Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro tells JI, “Actual LOL. There are lots of uncertainties in American politics. How the Jewish vote will break in the next presidential election is not one of them. Faced with a Democratic candidate who reflects their values and supports a strong, secure, Jewish, democratic Israel and a two-state solution with Palestinians versus Donald Trump’s cruel, divisive politics… and his approach that threatens to help lead Israel into becoming a binational state, you can mark 75 percent as the floor for the Jewish vote for Democrats in 2020. Eighty percent is not out of the question.”
Ann Lewis, who served as White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton, emails JI: “Donald Trump has now attacked the more than 70 percent of American Jews who dare to disagree with him politically by using one of the most dangerous, deadly accusations Jews have faced over the years.”
Matt Brooks, RJC’s executive director, tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “Of course the president was not trafficking in dual loyalty and antisemitism. The reality is that what the president gave voice to is a question that I get all the time in all of my speeches, in large part from folks who aren’t Jewish and want to understand how people in the Jewish community — given the issues that are important to them — can support the policies of individuals like Omar and Tlaib. You know, it’s a question that has a lot of people scratching their heads.”
Matt Nosanchuk, former Obama Jewish liaison, emails JI: “We have a president with the chutzpah to attack American Jews by trotting out the antisemitic trope of disloyalty. He either ignores or fails to recognize the values and priorities of the overwhelming majority of American Jews, who have been turning out by the thousands to protest the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies and are outraged by the president’s divisive and antidemocratic attacks on two members of Congress — notwithstanding strong policy disagreements with them over Israel. Only a president whose Rasputin [is] Stephen Miller and political doppelgänger is Benjamin Netanyahu would think that he can resort to craven demagoguery in a futile and transparent effort to bolster his standing within the American Jewish community.”
David Halperin, executive director of the Israel Policy Forum: “Something is very wrong — the president claims Jews who vote for one party over another are disloyal and it feels like just another Tuesday in the United States of America. It is abhorrent and dangerous — but this isn’t the first time in the past week he has said something abhorrent and dangerous.”
Abe Foxman, former ADL national director, alluding to a biblical story: “And there comes a president upon the land who knew ‘Joseph’ and proclaimed himself to be the best friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I want to believe he believes that he is. And yet, this same president finds it difficult to condemn neo-Nazis in Charlottesville or white supremacists in Oregon. And now in an effort to publicly proclaim his pro-Israel views, he embraces and gives credibility to the most prevalent and pernicious antisemitic canard. I don’t know if he doesn’t understand it, or does understand but doesn’t care. And I don’t know what is worse… The president is, in reality, giving life to this antisemitic belief from the most important bully pulpit in the world. We need to find a way to help him undo this.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a phone interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that one should not be surprised with the term the president used. “You’re talking about the first president of the United States to communicate via tweets and who has a very rough and tumble approach in almost everything he sends out. It’s not unique.” Cooper added that Trump “has what to talk about in terms of what has been achieved with Israel. Don’t be surprised in a political season that you’re going to have Republicans saying, ‘Take a look and see what’s happened so far in the bilateral relations between the U.S. and Israel. And I think one of the reasons why you see so much commentary coming from Trump when it comes to Omar and Tlaib is because in many ways it has just been lacking from Democratic colleagues. This is a crisis that never had to happen, but that will continue to happen as long as they are treated with a different set of standards.”
In an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said that Trump reserves the right to escalate his attacks against the Democratic congresswomen because he “is standing up for the American people, he’s standing up for our ally in Israel, but these two women are clearly against the existence even of Israel.”
HOW IT PLAYED — Trump decides that Democratic-voting Jewish Americans are either ignorant or ‘disloyal’ [WashPost] • Trump accuses Jewish Democrats of ‘great disloyalty’ [NYTimes] • Trump accuses Jewish Americans of ‘disloyalty’ for voting Democratic, in antisemitic trope [TheGuardian] • Trump has some predictably antisemitic advice for America’s Jews [VanityFair]
Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor of the Forward, writes… “This week proves it: Politicians won’t call out antisemitism on their own side: Who in the Republican Party — so quick to call out Democrats for their failures — will call him out for this?… Of course, the Democrats are already lining up to condemn the President’s words. But they have been all too reticent to tackle the same problem in their own ranks. The truth is, it’s been a tough week for American Jews.” [Forward]
HOURS LATER — 🚨🚨 Trump scraps trip to Denmark, as Greenland is not for sale [NYTimes]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “willing to go head to head” with Trump if the Kushner-led peace plan would include demands that Israel’s right-wing government would not be willing to accept, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. The official was quoted as saying that Netanyahu has proven in the past he can stand up to U.S. presidents and “is willing to do the same with Trump, if necessary.”
Tom Friedman writes… “How the Palestinian-Israeli peace process became a farce: President Trump says he will release Kushner’s plan after the Israeli election, but I would not trust that for a second. Trump’s only participation in this process has been to exploit it by being slavishly pro-Bibi to win political donations from Sheldon Adelson and votes from Jews in Florida. If Bibi doesn’t want Kushner’s plan released, it won’t be.” [NYTimes]
Shalom Lipner writes: “Trump doesn’t care about Israel. He cares about reelection: Trump’s antics last week, when he upended the Netanyahu government’s decision to open Israel’s borders to two of the country’s harshest congressional opponents, have put Israel’s indispensable relationship with the United States at grave risk… Israel is now… in the hot seat with an expanded circle of elected U.S. officials who may be inclined to put Netanyahu on notice.” [ForeignPolicy]
DUELING OPS — Two columnists in The Washington Post on Wednesday both defended and criticized Netanyahu’s recent decisions. Dana Milbank wrote: “Dear Israel: Please dump Netanyahu. Your friend, America.” The column argued that “Netanyahu has hitched Israel’s future to a fading constituency in U.S. politics… Without a change in leadership in Israel, it’s just a matter of time until the Jewish state loses U.S. aid.” But columnist Marc A. Thiessen defended the Israeli prime minister in an op-ed titled “If Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib can boycott Israel, why can’t Israel boycott them?” Thiessen argued that the decision to bar them was a mistake, “but Omar and Tlaib don’t just oppose Netanyahu’s policies; they oppose the State of Israel. How sad that so many prominent Democrats are condemning Israel’s decision to bar these antisemites more vigorously than they have condemned their antisemitism.”
STATE VISIT — Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Mike Braun (R-IN) toured the Golan Heights during a trip to Israel on Tuesday. [Pic]
INSIDE THE ADMINISTRATION — Trump to scale back planned foreign aid cuts after Pompeo plea — by Nick Wadhams and Jordan Fabian: “President Donald Trump agreed to drastically scale back plans to slash billions of dollars in foreign assistance after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo persuaded him against the move… After speaking with Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday, Trump agreed to limit the cuts to a few hundred million dollars, overruling demands by the Office of Management and Budget to reduce foreign-assistance spending by more than $4 billion.” [Bloomberg; Politico]
GOV’T EXPANSION PLANS — Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson is proposing the creation of a cabinet-level “Department of Peace” to “proactively and systematically promote national and international conflict prevention.” According to the plan, released on Monday, the “secretary of peace” will serve as a member of the National Security Council and will be empowered to coordinate with all federal agencies on “existing peace-building and violence-reducing efforts within the federal government.”
Internationally, the new department will “provide peace-building support to assist governments and communities in attempts to end conflicts, instead of providing military aid which often prolongs conflicts.” The Williamson campaign did not respond to Jewish Insider’s inquiry on what role the proposed department would have in facilitating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
IRAN WATCH — Fox News’s Trey Yingst reported on Wednesday that an Iranian oil tanker is heading to Syria. According to the report, the ship, loaded with 600,000 barrels of crude oil, departed on August 2 and is headed to Dubai, where it will refuel before traveling to the shores of Syria. Greece saidWednesday it will not facilitate the transfer in any way. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said if Iran attempts to make the transfer, the United States will take action: “We have made clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States.”
Pompeo maintained on Tuesday that the sanctions regime on Iran is “working.” Addressing a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East, Pompeo declared, “We now have a countdown clock on the State Department’s Iran webpage. Time is drawing short to continue this activity of restricting Iran’s capacity to foment its terror regime. The international community will have plenty of time to see how long it has until Iran is unshackled to create new turmoil, and figure out what it must do to prevent this from happening.”
2020 WATCH — While in New York, Pompeo reportedly met with John Catsimatidis, Art Laffer, Steve Forbes and Steve Moore as he mulls a Senate run in Kansas. Pompeo also met with World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who maintains a close relationship with Trump, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
2020 BRIEFS — Concerns about Joe Biden’s age and mental fitness are likely overblown, according to experts on aging and the brain… Bernie Sanders wanted to play softball with the press. But his campaign got in the way… Trump team braces GOP donors for a potential ‘moderate and short’ recession… CNN poll: Joe Biden regains a double-digit lead over 2020 Democratic field… What do rally playlists say about the candidates?… Sanders to unveil climate plan on Thursday.
ROAD TO THE KNESSET — In a jab at Netanyahu, Israel Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman signed a vote-surplus agreement with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party. Lieberman said the deal was strictly technical, but the Likud slammed him for abandoning the right wing. Separately, a 2013 video of Lieberman — who has been running on a campaign denouncing ultra-Orthodox influence on the government — was released on Tuesday showing him making a deal with a hardline haredi rabbi to support then-candidate for Jerusalem mayor, Moshe Lion.
Blue and White, meanwhile, is roiling amid leaks within the party, and reports that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction had considered splitting off and running with Lieberman. Blue and White denied Wednesday that a Yesh Atid MK was responsible for leaking embarrassing secret recordings of Gantz, including those saying he’d considering joining a coalition with Netanyahu.
** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Amazon announces official launch in Israel [Globes] • Porsche invests in Israeli road visibility startup TriEye [Reuters] • Private equity: the generational feud that rocked Apollo [FinancialTimes] • Jane Lauder joins world’s richest in boom year for cosmetics [Bloomberg] • Rabsky Group lands $200M refi for 500-unit Bushwick building [RealDeal] • WeWork analyst warns IPO filing a ‘masterpiece of obfuscation’ [Bloomberg]• Intel announces first AI Chip developed in Israel [Calcalist] • Teva launches generic version of EpiPen for young children [Reuters]
SPOTLIGHT — Mysterious Israeli businessman behind mega-deal to supply spy planes to UAE — by Uri Blau and Avi Scharf: “For the past few weeks an innocent-looking white executive jet has been taking off from the Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, cruising for hours in the airspace above the Persian Gulf… A Haaretz investigation reveals that the person behind the supply of the planes is Israeli businessman and entrepreneur Matanya ‘Mati’ Kochavi… The deal involved total payments of about 3 billion shekels ($846 million according to the current exchange rate). The documents note that at least part of this sum was paid for in cash, and they name UAE leaders as being connected to one of the companies involved in the transaction.” [Haaretz]
Strong shekel seen by finance minister as problem for fortunate — by Ivan Levingston and Gwen Ackerman: “Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is unfazed even as the country’s own central bank is struggling to get a handle on currency gains and sees them as a top impediment to its policy goals. ‘These are the troubles of the rich, troubles of a strong state,’ Kahlon said in an interview Monday in Tel Aviv… ‘The exporters will complain about it, and justifiably. But the consumers will be happy, because the cars will be cheaper, the trips abroad will be cheaper.’” [Bloomberg]
Israel seeks to beat PTSD with ‘ecstasy’ therapy: “Nachum Pachenick says he lived a nightmare for nearly two decades after being sexually abused and developing post-traumatic stress disorder — until MDMA therapy came to his rescue… Pachenick said relief came in 2014, when he took part in a clinical trial that included the use of MDMA, the active component in the drug known to nightclubbers as ecstasy. The treatment’s success on him and dozens of others has led Israel’s health ministry to approve its own pilot for MDMA-assisted therapy for people with treatment-resistant PTSD.” [AFP]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Man arrested with 17 guns, grenade launcher and Nazi paraphernalia — by Ali Watkins: “In a subsequent search of [Joseph] Rubino’s home, the police said they found more than a dozen other weapons, drugs and a box of… bumper stickers and clothing with S.S. Bolts — ‘Common white supremacist and Nazi symbols,’ prosecutors said. Officers also found a document labeled with a racial epithet ‘containing racist material and purporting to be an instruction manual for owning a slave,’ prosecutors said.” [NYTimes]
Harvey Weinstein asks to move trial out of New York City — by Corinne Ramey: “A lawyer for Harvey Weinstein has asked to move the former Hollywood producer’s coming criminal trial out of New York City, saying jurors can’t fairly decide his case in Manhattan. Mr. Weinstein, 67 years old, is scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 9 on sex-crime charges including rape.”[WSJ]
French Jewish spy at 99: ‘I’m still fighting the same battles every day’ — by Kate Irish Collin: “She was a French Jew, but she was also blond, with blue eyes and fair skin, who could speak and read German fluently. That’s how Marthe Cohn, now 99, became a spy for the French Free Forces in the latter days of World War II… In an interview with The Forecaster from her home in California, Cohn said she continues to tell her story because ‘human beings have very short memories and it’s extremely important to remind them of what happened.’ … Cohn said her message of combating hate is particularly important today, because of the rise of white nationalist and populist sentiment over the past few years, not just in the U.S., but in Europe, too. ‘These movements remind me very much of the [rhetoric] in the 1930s,’ she said. ‘I am absolutely concerned,’ Cohn added about the increase in antisemitism around the world… ‘Even at 99 years old, I have to keep telling what happened,’ Cohn said. Even 75 years later, she said, ‘I’m still fighting the same battles every day.’”[PressHerald]
HOLLYWOOD — Barry Manilow’s ‘Harmony’ set for New York debut at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — by Lindsey Sullivan: “‘Harmony,’ Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s long-gestating original musical, has a New York premiere date on the books. According to The New York Post, the production is scheduled to begin performances at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on February 11, 2020. Presented by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene… The show tells the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, a sextet of Jewish and gentile talents, who came together in 1920s Germany and took the world by storm, but their fame coincided with the Nazis’ rise to power.” [Broadway]
Mayim Bialik signs Warner Bros. TV production, talent holding deal — by Will Thorne: “Bialik and her newly launched Sad Clown Productions banner have signed an exclusive multi-year production deal with the [CBS production] studio, coupled with a talent holding provision for her acting services. Bialik is bringing on former Chuck Lorre Productions exec Mackenzie Gabriel-Vaught to head development for her new shingle.” [Variety]
Larry King seeks divorce from seventh wife after 22 years: “Larry King is seeking a divorce from his seventh wife, Shawn King, after 22 years. The 85-year-old talk show host filed a petition to end the marriage Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court… Larry King has been married eight times to seven different women and has five children. He married and divorced Alene Akins twice.” [AP]
SPORTS BLINK — Tyler Dorsey, a Greek-American basketball player and a former NBA shooting guard for the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks, signed a one-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday, Eurohoopsreported. The deal also includes an option for 2020-21.
DESSERT — The Milky Way in Los Angeles offers kosher dishes honoring Steven Spielberg’s mom — by Jada Montemarano: “The Milky Way is mixing up the kosher dining scene and it all started with Leah Adler 40 years ago… After Adler passed away two years ago the restaurant closed its doors. But her children, including Steven Spielberg, decided to re-open this year in honor of their mother… Chef Phil Kastel joined the team to update the menu with what they feel Leah would eat today.”[SpectrumNews1]
Philadelphia Chinatown’s last kosher, vegetarian restaurant is closing for good — by Rachel Vigoda: “New Harmony, a long-running kosher and vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown, is closing for good at the end of August. It’s the last of its kind in the neighborhood. The restaurant… [has] always been popular in both the kosher and vegetarian/vegan communities.”[EaterPhilly]
BIRTHDAYS: Google co-founder, Sergey Brin turns 46… Retired owner of Effective Strategy Consultants, Irwin Wecker turns 84… Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Judge Ilana Kara Diamond Rovner turns 81… President of MIT, L. Rafael Reif turns 69… Israeli-born pawnbroker and star of the reality television series “Beverly Hills Pawn,” Yossi Dina turns 65… Israeli physician who was a member of the Knesset (1999-2003), he now serves as mayor of Ashdod, Dr. Yehiel Lasri turns 62… Co-founder of BlueLine Grid, he was previously an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles and later a member of the Los Angeles City Council, Jack Weiss turns 55…
Manager of strategic partnerships for UJA’s Day School Challenge Fund, Chavie N. Kahn turns 54… Global head of public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Ken Mehlman turns 53… MLB pitcher for 9 teams and a starting pitcher in three of Team Israel’s first four games in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, all of which the team won, Jason Marquis turns 41… Senior strategist at PSB Research, Adam Rosenblatt turns 34… Senior manager of informational design at Athena Global Advisors and formerly at AIPAC, Erica N. Miller turns 34… Tzippy Baitch… Lynn Sharon… James Barton… Elon Issashar…
Jewish groups react to Trump’s latest comments on American Jewish voters
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump dropped another bombastic claim in his campaign to paint Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as the face of the Democratic Party. “I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters during a photo spray with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office.
The president said, “I can’t even believe that we’re having this conversation. Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this, even three years ago, of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people. I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel?”
On Twitter, Trump also mocked Tlaib over her emotional performance on Monday in response to Israel’s decision to bar the lawmaker from entering the country last week. “Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an antisemite.” The president repeated his assertion that Tlaib and “her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”
Jewish Democrats rushed to condemn Trump’s statement. Halie Soifer, executive director of Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement, “This is yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism.” The president’s “appalling” statement reveals that “his professed support for Israel is based on personal political calculation, not principled commitment,” the Democratic Majority for Israel said on Twitter. Aaron Keyak, former National Jewish Democratic Council head, told JI, “Just because President Trump is deeply unpopular in our community is no reason to slander us with echoes of some of the most insidious attacks against our people.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) defended the president. “It shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion,” the RJC tweeted.
According to Pew Research Center, 79% of Jewish voters supported Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.
“Actual LOL,” Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tells JI. “There are lots of uncertainties in American politics. How the Jewish vote will break in the next presidential election is not one of them. Faced with a Democratic candidate who reflects their values and supports a strong, secure, Jewish, democratic Israel and a two-state solution with Palestinians versus Donald Trump’s cruel, divisive politics… and his approach that threatens to help lead Israel into becoming a binational state, you can mark 75 percent as the floor for the Jewish vote for Democrats in 2020. Eighty percent is not out of the question.”
Ann Lewis, who served as White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton and as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, said in an email to JI that Trump “has now attacked the more than 70 percent of American Jews who dare to disagree with him politically by using one of the most dangerous, deadly accusations Jews have faced over the years.”
“False charges of disloyalty over the centuries have led to Jews being murdered, jailed and tortured,” Lewis explained. “This is the kind of cruel, careless rhetoric that inflames anti-Jewish passions and leads to violence.”
Matt Brooks, RJC’s executive director, tells JI: “Of course the president was not trafficking in dual loyalty and antisemitism. The reality is that what the president gave voice to is a question that I get all the time in all of my speeches, in large part from folks who aren’t Jewish and want to understand how people in the Jewish community — given the issues that are important to them — can support the policies of individuals like Omar and Tlaib. You know, it’s a question that has a lot of people scratching their heads.”
Matt Nosanchuk, former Obama Jewish liaison, emails JI: “We have a President with the chutzpah to attack American Jews by trotting out the antisemitic trope of disloyalty. He either ignores or fails to recognize the values and priorities of the overwhelming majority of American Jews, who have been turning out by the thousands to protest the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies and are outraged by the President’s divisive and antidemocratic attacks on two Members of Congress notwithstanding strong policy disagreements with them over Israel. Only a president whose Rasputin in Stephen Miller and political doppelgänger is Benjamin Netanyahu would think that he can resort to craven demagoguery in a futile and transparent effort to bolster his standing within the American Jewish community.”
David Halperin, executive director of the Israel Policy Forum: “Something is very wrong — the president claims Jews who vote for one party over another are disloyal and it feels like just another Tuesday in the United States of America. It is abhorrent and dangerous — but this isn’t the first time in the past week he has said something abhorrent and dangerous. It should be resoundingly condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike.”
Abe Foxman, former ADL national director: “This is an ironic moment in Jewish history: ‘And there comes a president upon the land who knew ‘Joseph’ and proclaimed himself to be the best friend of Israel and the Jewish people.’ I want to believe he believes that he is. And yet, this same president finds it difficult to condemn neo-Nazis in Charlottesville or white supremacists in Oregon. And now in an effort to publicly proclaim his pro-Israel views, he embraces and gives credibility to the most prevalent and pernicious antisemitic canard. I don’t know if he doesn’t understand it, or does understand but doesn’t care. And I don’t know what is worse. This canard that the Jewish people aren’t loyal and cannot be trusted is as old as history. When we did research at the ADL, many years ago, we found that approximately 30 percent of Americans believed it was the most accepted antisemitic stereotypic canard. The president is, in reality, giving life to this antisemitic belief from the most important bully pulpit in the world. We need to find a way to help him undo this.”
The American Jewish Committee condemned the president’s comments. AJC CEO David Harris said the president’s comments are “shockingly divisive and unbecoming of the occupant of the highest elected office. American Jews – like all Americans – have a range of political views and policy priorities. His assessment of their knowledge or ‘loyalty,’ based on their party preference, is inappropriate, unwelcome, and downright dangerous.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “It’s unclear who POTUS is claiming Jews would be ‘disloyal’ to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we’ve said before, it’s possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It’s long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football.”
Logan Bayroff, J Street’s director of communications, said in a statement: “It is no surprise that the president’s racist, disingenuous attacks on progressive women of color in Congress have now transitioned into smears against Jews.”
Israel Policy Forum said on Twitter that Trump’s comments “are appalling but unsurprising given his record of inappropriate remarks as well as his efforts to leverage Israel as a wedge issue in U.S. politics.”
The Zioness Movement released a statement saying that the president “casually employed several of the most explicitly antisemitic conspiracy theories in the same breath. This is the kind of bigotry that has sparked humanity’s worst impulses and greatest catastrophes.”
The Bend the Arc Jewish activist group wrote that Trump’s statement is “textbook antisemitism and should be called out as such, without hesitation.”
Earlier on Tuesday, in an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said that Trump reserves the right to escalate his attacks against the Democratic congresswomen because he “is standing up for the American people, he’s standing up for our ally in Israel, but these two women are clearly against the existence even of Israel.”
Gidley went on to slam the “disingenuous” media for refusing “to call out antisemitism for what it is… The Democrats are encouraging this behavior and the media are allowing it to happen.”
This post was updated at 10:30 pm
Interview with Montana Gov. Steve Bullock | Inbal Arieli’s new book on Israeli chutzpah | London’s Reubens to return
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2020 PROFILE — Steve Bullock: Trump’s foreign policy via tweet causes chaos — by JI’s Ben Jacobs: Steve Bullock may be the first Democratic presidential hopeful to willingly compare himself to Rick Santorum. It’s not that he shares the former Pennsylvania senator’s conservative views or penchant for sweater vests. It’s simply that he’s an underdog in his presidential bid who is convinced he can make it.
The two-term Montana governor spoke to Jewish Insider over pizza in Washington D.C. just after an interview on “Fox News Sunday” in which he compared putting Ken Cuccinelli in charge of immigration policy to “putting Putin in charge of election security.” The statement about the arch-conservative former Virginia attorney general made headlines, a rare feat for Bullock, who entered the 2020 presidential race in May and did not qualify for the first debate in June as a result.
Bullock, who touts that he is the only Democratic candidate to have won in a Republican state, has often expressed his frustration with the debate rules set by the DNC. “The rules were well-intentioned,” but have rewarded candidates like billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent $10 million to reach the 130,000 unique contributors needed to qualify for the third debate in September. “That’s not grassroots democracy and I don’t think it’s probably good for the campaigns and it’s not good for the voters.”
On foreign policy, Bullock expressed his disappointment that the Israeli government refused to let two members of Congress, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), enter the country: “Any elected representative from Washington D.C. ought to be able to go to Israel.” He pointed a finger at President Donald Trump’s tweets forcing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hand in making the decision to ban the two congresswomen from Israel. Bullock also pointed to past statements by Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, that the two would be allowed to enter the country.
“That just shows you can’t have the chaos being caused by tweets and personal spite,” said the Montana Democrat. “There’s just no way to conduct foreign trade or foreign policy. And you know we’re still waiting two-and-a-half years in for this secret plan and how we’re going to have Middle East peace. We’ve been promised for two-and-a-half years. He’s made it actually a lot harder to get to a two-state solution.”
Bullock also condemned U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s decision to applaud the ban of Tlaib and Omar. When asked if it was appropriate, the Montana governor said “absolutely not, absolutely not.”
Bullock wouldn’t weigh in on whether Netanyahu was a racist, saying “it’s not up to me.” Instead, the governor said: “I don’t think that Netanyahu should be doing the president’s bidding. And I think this was more about the president’s bidding than it was about welcoming elected officials from our country who might have different views.” Click here to read the full feature: [JewishInsider]
HEARD THE OTHER DAY — In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) questioned the Israeli government’s commitment to the U.S.-Israel alliance following its decision last week to bar entry to two members of Congress.
“Congress has a duty to make decisions about whether we give aid, how we protect allies such as Israel with qualitative military edge,” she said. “I don’t know why Netanyahu would want to deny members of Congress to come to Israel if they expect us to be that never-ending partner and friend.”
The 2020 presidential candidate further suggested that the president should hold Israel “accountable” for its decision to bar entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), although she didn’t illustrate what that meant. “I think our obligation, as an ally and as a friend is to hold them accountable when they’re wrong,” Gillibrand explained. “And I think any time you are undermining basic free speech rights and human rights, you’re going in the wrong direction.” [JewishInsider]
Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC — which has hosted fundraisers for Gillibrand in the past — tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that while his organization “had great hopes for her,” he’s not surprised by the New York senator’s comments since it’s unclear now “where she stands on anything.”
Chouake pointed to Gillibrand’s vote against the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, known as S.1, and her support of the Iran nuclear deal. “Frankly, she keeps saying how pro-Israel she is. But I think she has to rethink what she’s saying,” Chouake said. “If you always have an excuse to say the wrong thing or vote the wrong way, you are not doing the right thing.”
Chouake stated that Omar and Tlaib “singled themselves out as people who are antisemitic” by “facilitating BDS — which is an antisemitic movement — and facilitating damage to Israel” and insisting on planning a trip of their own. “They had the opportunity to go with 70 of their fellow Congresspeople on a trip to Israel… If they came like anyone else, it wouldn’t have been an issue.”
REPORT — Netanyahu singled out Tlaib and Omar as the “antithesis” of “strong bipartisan support for Israel in the United States Congress” in a June 2 letter to Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), The Washington Post reported on Monday. The letter was a response to a call issued by 17 Democratic lawmakers — including Tlaib and Omar — to intervene in the planned deportation of Omar Shakir, the director of the Human Rights Watch office in Israel, for his support of BDS.
Netanyahu’s luck in forging a strong alliance with Trump and the GOP “could run out” if the president loses re-election to one of the many Democrats who spoke out against Israel’s decision, The Associated Pressnotes.
RECESS RUCKUS — Reps. Tlaib and Omar blasted Israel’s move to deny their group entry as U.S. members of Congress at a press conference in St. Paul, Minnesota on Monday.
Tlaib said she struggled with the decision to decline Israel’s offer to visit her grandmother in the West Bank, but decided she couldn’t travel until she was a “free, American, United States congresswoman.” Holding back tears, Tlaib recalled watching her family experience “dehumanizing checkpoints” during a prior trip to the region.
Omar, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested that Congress should reconsider U.S. aid to Israel as a response. “We give Israel more than $3 million [the real figure is closer to $3 billion] in aid every year. This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region and the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East. But denying [a] visit to duly-elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally. And denying millions of people freedom of movement or expression or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy.”
Despite the cancellation of the planned trip, Omar encouraged her colleagues to travel to Israel. “We have a responsibility to conduct oversight over our government’s foreign policy and what happens with the millions of dollars we send in aid,” Omar said. “We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us. So I call on all of you to go… Meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear.” [Video]
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement: “Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have a well-documented history of antisemitic comments, antisemitic social media posts and antisemitic relationships. Israel has the right to prevent people who want to destroy it from entering the country.”
Writing in The Washington Post, Gershom Gorenberg asks… “Is Israel a vassal state now? Netanyahu seemed to be the Trump-whisperer. He had it figured: Compliment Trump, ignore the stink of antisemitism around him, and the president would do whatever you want — move the embassy to Jerusalem, recognize annexation of the Golan Heights, erase the two-state solution from U.S. policy. Who needs Democrats? Who needs Congress?” [WashPost]
Jewish Insider continued its discussion on Monday about “the idea of Israel vs. the State of Israel.” Thinkers from Abe Foxman to Daniel Gordis, Amanda Berman and Jonathan Sarna, as well as JDCA’s Ron Klein, and Michael Salberg, formerly at Conference of Presidents, weighed in. [JewishInsider]
OUT TODAY — The secret to Israelis’ startup success? — by JI’s Amy Spiro: You could read Inbal Arieli’s new book, Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as a guide to business innovation or parenting. Either way, Arieli’s ideas are likely to raise eyebrows among some Americans, which is in many ways exactly what the author wants.
Chutzpah, published today, paints a remarkably sunny picture of Israeli education and parenting, portraying the country’s societal approaches to upbringing as the ideal breeding ground for innovation, entrepreneurship and startup success.
“I think Israeli kids are actually training the relevant muscles that will enable them in the future to adapt to the future, whatever that will be,” Arieli told Jewish Insider during a recent interview in Tel Aviv. And though the kibbutz model is long in the past and approaches to parenting are ever-changing, “in the context of entrepreneurship and in the context of innovation… I’m very optimistic about what’s happening in Israel.”
Arieli’s book traces the upbringing of the average Israeli — from nursery school through childhood to enlisting in the army and even the prevalent practice of a post-army trip around the world — through the lens of preparing them for life as an entrepreneur. Every step along that journey, she argues, equips Israelis with the skills and savvy to be successful in the start-up economy.
After serving in Unit 8200, the IDF’s elite intelligence unit, and working for 20 years in Israel’s technology sector, Arieli believes she has found the secret sauce behind Israel’s remarkable startup success. Helicopter parents — and others at varying points along the parenting spectrum — may take issue with Arieli extolling the virtues of kindergarteners playing in a junkyard, children setting their own bonfires, and the army handing a rifle to every 18-year-old in the country. But Arieli believes that everyone who reads Chutzpah can take the concepts behind it to their own conclusions.
“The idea is not to replicate Israel,” she said. “The idea is definitely not to replicate the military. The idea is to take some of the frameworks and principles behind them and adapt them to different communities, different neighborhoods, different types of people, different ages. But it’s all about the principles behind it.”
Those principles include instilling in young people the tools to explore without fear, to innovate and experiment from a young age, to be independent and take on responsibility as teens and to not be afraid of failure. Read Arieli’s advice for her three sons and her views on BDS and business in the full profile: [JewishInsider]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — American chutzpah vs. Israeli chutzpah ―are they really all that different? Using anecdotes and stories ranging from Sodom and Gomorrah to Hollywood television pitches, Malcolm Gladwell does a deep dive into the contrast on the latest episode of his Revisionist History podcast. [RevisionistHistory]
TALK OF THE REGION — Palestinian Authority police have threatened to crack down on a scheduled upcoming LGBT gathering, The Associated Pressreported. According to AP, police said Sunday they would “pursue this gathering” and seek charges against anyone involved in it. Separately, on Monday PA President Mahmoud Abbas fired all his advisors and demanded they return money already paid to them. Palestinian officials said the decision was part of an effort to cut costs and recuperate funds after a halt in Israel delivering tax revenues.
IRAN WATCH — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview that aired Monday that the United States and its allies are “the source of instability in the region.” But Zarif said Iran wouldn’t take military action against the U.S., saying: “We will not. We have never done that, in the past 250 years. We have defended ourselves. And we have taught good lessons to those who invaded us.”
Holt also spoke with Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s National Security Council, who said that the risk of war is low, but “in the case of war, the U.S. will be in a very terrible situation, and its regional allies as well.” Shamkhani also said that signing the 2015 nuclear deal was a mistake. [Video]
On Monday, an Iranian oil tanker set sail for Greece after it was freed from detention in Gibraltar. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the release was “unfortunate,” and State Department officials say they have warned Greece and other Mediterranean nations against aiding the tanker.
2020 BRIEFS — Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have similar ideasbut competing paths to 2020 victory… Warren offers public apology over her claim to tribal heritage… Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has centered his campaign around climate, unlikely to qualify for CNN’s climate change town hall… After the likely demise of Bill de Blasio’s campaign, what comes next?… Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defended her push for then-Sen. Al Franken to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations — but she’s not opposed to his political comeback.
DONOR CIRCUIT — Kamala Harris courts big donors in the Hamptons — by Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou and Amanda Gordon: “Teslas and Maseratis lined the street as Kamala Harris greeted guests… at a fund-raiser hosted by movie executive Jamie Patricof and his wife Kelly as the summer of Democratic fund-raisers rolled on in East Hampton… In the woods of Water Mill, at the home of public-relations executive Michael Kempner, Aretha Franklin and Alicia Keys songs played in the background as… Centerview Partners’ Blair Effron and Citigroup’s Ray McGuire waited to hear Harris’s pitch… It was Harris’s chance to meet big Wall Street names: Democratic donor Nicolas Rohatyn, Blackstone’s Bennett Goodman, Alibaba executive J Michael Evans… and Chad Leat, formerly at Citigroup.”
“Front-runner Biden raised money at the waterfront residence of Sherry and Alan Leventhal, the chairman of Beacon Capital Partners, in Cape Cod this weekend.” [Bloomberg]
Writer and filmmaker Ben Howe on why Evangelicals support Trump in an interview with The Atlantic’s Emma Green: “Trump’s appeal is not judges. It’s not policies. It’s that he’s a shit-talker and a fighter and tells it like it is. That’s what they like. They love the meanest parts of him.” [TheAtlantic]
** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jeffrey Epstein created trust with $578 million days before suicide [Bloomberg] • Sotheby’s sale to Patrick Drahi attracts new investor criticism [FinancialTimes] • Leon Black’s Apollo Global looking to buy $2.4B Hilton time-share operator [NYPost] • Viacom and CBS executives to earn big bucks in merger deal [WSJ] • Ukrainian tycoon Vadim Shulman lists Malibu mansion for nearly twice what he paid [RealDeal] • Israeli tycoons’ holding groups have been cut down to size [Haaretz] • Israeli bitcoin holders take on banks [Globes] • Dimri joins bidding for Africa-Israel [Globes]
SPOTLIGHT — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo names Eric Gertler as new state economic czar — by Jimmy Vielkind: “Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, announced the appointment of Mr. Gertler as president and CEO of Empire State Development on Monday… Mr. Gertler, who is 56 years old, is executive chairman of U.S. News & World Report and worked as co-publisher of the New York Daily News from 2015 to 2017… Mr. Gertler has been a member of the ESD board since June 2018, and accompanied Mr. Cuomo earlier this year on a trip to Israel.” [WSJ]
GROOVY INTERVIEW — Woodstock ‘69 co-founder reflects on the festival that defined a generation — by JI’s Melissa Weiss: Fifty years ago, hundreds of thousands of music lovers flocked to upstate New York with only the vaguest idea that they were about to be a part of history. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” Woodstock would leave a lasting mark on the American psyche. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the festival, JI spoke to Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang about the legacy of that historic weekend.
“We were dealing with the civil rights movement and women’s rights and the beginning of the concern for the planet and trying to end what we thought was an unjust war,” Lang said of the original festival. “And today we have Black Lives Matter and we have the #metoo movement and we have climate deniers in the White House and that’s really what… motivated us to have another festival, to sort of reengage the public in those issues because everybody’s got to take responsibility.” [JewishInsider]
HOLLYWOOD — Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves — by Rami Ayyub: “‘I wish I could reach into the screen and grab hold of my son,’ [Mohammad] Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, told Reuters, her voice breaking, soon after watching the first two episodes of the series, a co-production of HBO and Israel’s Keshet International and produced by Movie Plus. ‘The show brought me right back to the pain, to the day he was kidnapped,’ she said… But some bereaved Israeli families have said the show largely glosses over the murder of the three Israeli teens, who are referenced throughout the series but not included as characters.” [Reuters]
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” season 3: Midge is going on the road — by Yohana Desta: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is back. No, not that ill-fated 30-cent gas tie-in, or the Drybar tie-in, or the Hollywood Roosevelt stay tie-in—but the show! The actual show! In the midst of heavy Emmy campaigning for season two, Amazon dropped a teaser for season three of the award-winning series… Season three will hit Amazon on December 6.” [VanityFair]
COMING SOON — Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an entertainment industry non-profit organization dedicated to promoting arts as a means to peace in the Middle East, will honor several music business executives — including Aaron Bay-Schuck, Jacqueline Saturn, Troy Carter, Walter Kolm and Ziggy Marley — at its second annual Celebrating Ambassadors of Peace gala on Sep. 26 at the Holmby Hills home of entertainment attorney Gary Stiffelman.[Variety]
SPORTS BLINK — Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — by Lorenzo Reyes: “Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, currently the coach of Olympiacos Piraeus, announced in a letter posted to Greek team’s website that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. [The Israeli-American] Blatt, 60, said he was diagnosed with the condition ‘a few months ago’ and said he has experienced weakness in his legs, fatigue, and balance and strength issues. Despite the diagnosis, Blatt said he intends to maintain his job and ‘find ways to continue my life as normally as possible.’” [USAToday] • Read the letter in full here [Eurohoops]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Why many evangelical Christians now celebrate Jewish holidays — by Dan Hummel: “Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians have adopted Jewish dress, practices and Hebrew language in prayer and worship. These range from the anodyne (blowing shofars and wearing prayer shawls) to liturgical (singing in Hebrew and mirroring synagogue Torah readings) to the overtly political (adopting Jewish symbols in Christian Zionist branding and partnering with Israel to promote shared interests)… the development of this new practice is about more than just politics. It is also historical and theological. Marking the somberness of Tisha B’Av has become a way to atone for Christian atrocities against Jewish people.” [WashPost]
Man accused of threatening an Ohio Jewish center declared himself a white nationalist in a documentary, police say — by Dakin Andone, Amir Vera and Eliott McLaughlin: “The man accused of threatening to shoot up a Jewish community center in Youngstown, Ohio, once appeared in a documentary on the Unite the Right rally, where he acknowledged being a white nationalist, police say… In the documentary, Reardon tells an interviewer that he doesn’t consider himself a neo-Nazi, but he is a white nationalist and a member of the alt-right… The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation said it had arranged for extra security at the community center and area synagogues.” [CNN]
California high-school students sang Nazi song and gave Hitler salute — by Davis Richardson: “Video reviewed by The Daily Beast shows about 10 members of the boys’ water polo team at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California, throwing the salute once used to greet Adolf Hitler while singing a Nazi marching song played for German troops during World War II. It’s the second such incident in the region in the year… Rabbi Peter Levi, director of the Anti Defamation League’s Orange County chapter, criticized the school for apparently failing to address the incident with the community.” [DailyBeast]
— According to The Washington Post, the school said Monday it “strongly” condemned the video, but administrators “would not say how students were disciplined or why officials did not immediately tell the school community about the incident.” [WashPost]
ACROSS THE SEA — Hong Kong protesters love Pepe the Frog. No, they’re not alt-right — by Daniel Victor: “Ask the Anti-Defamation League, and they will tell you Pepe the Frog is a hate symbol, a cheerleader of racism and antisemitism, a friend of alt-right extremists… So it can be a bit jarring to see Pepe in his new role: a pro-democracy freedom fighter in the Hong Kong protests, siding with the people in their struggle against an authoritarian state. The protesters here hold signs with his image, use stickers of him in messaging apps and discussion forums, and even spray paint his face on walls… Mari Law, a 33-year-old protester,,, said it did not matter because Pepe did not carry the same toxic reputation in Hong Kong. Most of the protesters don’t know about the alt-right association, he said.” [NYTimes]
DESSERT — Jewish Food Festival feeds spirit of inclusion — by Jon O’Connell: “From his seat behind the cash register, Steve Sherman did more than take orders for corned beef and schnitzel sandwiches. Hungry guests who put in orders with him at the five-day Jewish Food Festival’s kickoff Sunday in Nay Aug Park [in Scranton, Pennsylvania] might have been greeted in the language of their ancestors… While fun for Sherman and the kaleidoscope of guests he served on Sunday, his multilingual hospitality fed a greater spirit of inclusion and harmony that festival organizers strive for every year.”[CitizensVoice]
West End of London’s only kosher restaurant Reubens to reopen after rescue by restaurateur — by Joanna Bourke: “A London dining entrepreneur has saved the West End’s only kosher restaurant and plans to reopen it after a major makeover. Restaurateur Lee Landau has bought the lease for Reubens which closed suddenly this year and has ‘significant’ plans to revamp the venue. It comes three months after the deli and restaurant… shut ‘due to a family bereavement.’” [EveningStandard]
REMEMBERING — Liane Russell, who studied radiation’s effects on embryos, dies at 95 — by Katharine Q. Seelye: “Dr. Liane B. Russell, a pioneer in the study of the dangers of radiation on developing embryos, whose findings are the reason doctors today ask women if they are pregnant before giving them X-rays, died on July 20 in a hospital in Oak Ridge, Tenn… Liane Brauch was born on Aug. 27, 1923, in Vienna… Lee was 14 when Germany invaded Austria in 1938. The family, which was Jewish, was able to escape by surrendering their home and Mr. Brauch’s business and leaving behind all their belongings.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Laguna Hills’s Phoebe Bryan turns 78… Director of the National Economic Council at the White House, Larry Kudlow turns 72… Former Secretary of Labor for the State of Kansas, Lana Goodman Gordonturns 69… Born in Rehovot, Israel, he served as the mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba until 2014, Samuel Michael “Sam” Katz turns 68… Senior director at NYC-based investment bank Maxim Group, Jay A. Knopf turns 63… Member of Congress representing Illinois’ 10th, Brad Schneider turns 58… Chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s National King David Society, Suzanne Barton Grant turns 58…
Vice chairman and president of strategic growth at Mastercard, Ambassador Michael Froman turns 57… Moroccan-born French-Israeli billionaire and founder of the Altice Group, Patrick Drahi turns 56… Former British Ambassador to Israel, the first Jewish UK ambassador to be posted to Tel Aviv, he is now the CEO for NHSX, Matthew Gould turns 48… Director of media relations at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Ari Goldberg turns 46… Executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Abigail Michelson Porth turns 44…
Deputy director and one of the founders of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, Karen Brunwasser turns 43… Senior advisor and resident scholar of Jewish/Israel philanthropy at The Paul E. Singer Foundation, previously a lecturer at Brandeis University, Rachel Lea Fish, Ph.D. turns 40… VP managing the Iowa office of Cornerstone Government Affairs and executive committee member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, David Ryan Adelman turns 38… Real estate agent, author and television personality on “Million Dollar Listing” Los Angeles, Joshua Daniel “Josh” Flagg turns 34…
Gillibrand: U.S. has a “duty” to hold Israel “accountable” for banning members of Congress
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) questioned the Israeli government’s commitment to the U.S.-Israel alliance on Sunday following its decision last week to bar entry to two members of Congress.
“Congress has a duty to make decisions about whether we give aid, how we protect allies such as Israel with qualitative military edge. I don’t know why Netanyahu would want to deny members of Congress to come to Israel if they expect us to be that never-ending partner and friend,” Gillibrand said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” with Martha Raddatz.
The 2020 presidential candidate also indicated that she would hold Israel “accountable” for its decision if she was president, although she didn’t illustrate what that meant. “I think our obligation, as an ally and as a friend is to hold them accountable when they’re wrong,” Gillbrand explained. “And I think any time you are undermining basic free speech rights and human rights you’re going in the wrong direction.”
Gillibrand said it was unfortunate that Netanyahu’s government had passed a law to prevent supporters of the BDS movement from entering Israel “because in this country, we believe in free speech.”
Read Gillibrand’s comments in full below:
Raddatz:I want to turn to Israel. Congressman Tlaib has said she will no longer travel there, even though Israel had said they would allow her to do that on humanitarian basis to visit her grandmother. She says she won’t do that now because of some of the demands that were put on her. Is that a mistake? Should she have gone because she wanted to originally go see her grandmother?
Gillibrand: “So, the tradition is for members of Congress — I have been to Israel several times as a member of Congress, and I brought a CODEL of Republicans and Democrats — Lindsey Graham was on my trip, Senator Hoeven, Amy Klobuchar. And we met with Netanyahu. And the point is, Congress has a duty to make decisions about whether we give aid, how we protect allies such as Israel with qualitative military edge. I don’t know why Netanyahu would want to deny members of Congress to come to Israel if they expect us to be that never-ending partner and friend.”
Raddatz:Well, they talk about the BDS movement…
Gillibrand: “Agreed. I understand…”
Raddatz:You don’t support that, so why is that enough?
Gillibrand: “Because in this country, we believe in free speech. In this country, we don’t deny people the right to participate in conversations about their views and their values. Unfortunately, Netanyahu has allowed a very conservative government to have a law that says if you support the BDS movement they can prevent you.”
Raddatz:Should there be repercussions for Israel?
Gillibrand: “I think our obligation, as an ally and as a friend is to hold them accountable when they’re wrong. And I think any time you are undermining basic free speech rights and human rights you’re going in the wrong direction.”
Raddatz: And how do you hold them accountable?
Gillibrand: “That’s what you do as president. President Trump is unwilling to hold anyone accountable. He’s unwilling to stand up to other world leaders. You’ve seen it with this instance of Israel, you’ve seen it with China, you’ve seen it with Russia. And he has really shrunk in the face of his responsibilities, unwilling to actually lead and to ask other world leaders to support and protect human rights.”
Meet Freshman Rep. Anthony Gonzalez | The Idea of Israel vs. The State of Israel | Jewish life in Majorca
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FRESHMAN PROFILE — Over the Middle: The Republican receiver pushing bipartisanship — by JI’s Amy Spiro: Thirty-four members of the 116th Congress previously served as mayors, 161 hold law degrees and 78 have served in the military. Only two are former NFL players. And one of those is Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a 34-year-old freshman Republican lawmaker from Ohio.
Gonzalez, who visited Israel last week on a trip coordinated by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation, sat down in Jerusalem with Jewish Insider to discuss his time in the Jewish state, his unorthodox path to Congress and his efforts to reach across the political aisle.
“When I left the NFL I was never sure exactly what would translate to the rest of my life,” Gonzalez told JI last week in the lobby of the King David Hotel. “When you leave something like the NFL, the concern is always that you didn’t develop any skills that translate into the traditional business world, or the non-NFL world.” But in fact, he said, “there are unbelievable parallels, both from a campaign standpoint, but more importantly from [the standpoint of] how to work with people who you may not agree with.”
“One flaw of American politics is that we simply do not sit together and talk through issues in a bipartisan way,” he said. “We do that in our silos, and then we come to the House floor and we argue like cats and dogs — it doesn’t make a bit of sense to me, but that’s what we do.” Gonzalez said that more conversations and discussions that reach across the aisle “will ultimately lead to better legislation and better lawmaking.”
While Gonzalez has criticized President Donald Trump — calling his attack on “the Squad” last month “wildly inappropriate” — he mostly tries to steer clear of the constant partisan squabbling.
“This job is about making law. That’s fundamentally what my job is,” he said. “My job is to advocate for policies that are going to benefit my district. And so that is what I focus all of my time and energy on. I’m somebody who doesn’t find… the tweeting and the 24-hour cable news cycle to be one that is particularly productive for lawmaking. I actually think it’s a complete disaster.”
Gonzalez’s visit to Israel this month was his first to the country, and an opportunity he immediately jumped to take.
“The Middle East is a complicated place, and I think it’s incumbent on all members of Congress to understand the issues in the Middle East, understand who our friends are, who our allies are, what the state of play is and how we can partner forward,” he said. “Not to mention that I’ve always wanted to come here for its historical significance, religious significance and geopolitical significance.”
What does Gonzalez think about the political future of his former teammate, legendary quarterback Peyton Manning? Click here to read the full profile [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE CONVO — The Idea of Israel vs. The State of Israel: Many American Jews see the idea of Israel as representing the best of themselves — a beacon of democracy and Jewish values whose image they work hard to promote. The manner of last Thursday’s decision to ban two members of Congress from visiting undoubtedly hurt that image. Israel is — of course — not just an idea. It’s a government and a state that must often prioritize practical concerns over simply maintaining its image abroad.
Question for thought leaders: Should American Jews learn to view Israel as more of a state and less of a projected lofty ideal?
Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi tells JI: “One of the disconnects between Israelis and American Jews is that, for us, Israel is home and for American Jews it’s an idea. Many Israelis do want to see Israel aspire to higher ideals, but in the end a nation is a cross-section of humanity, with national self-interest as their most basic commonality.”
“A Russian immigrant once explained this to me in a memorable way. I asked her what surprised her most about Israel, and she said, The existence of stupid Jews. She explained that in Moscow, where she was from, every Jew was either an intellectual or an engineer. But it was only when she came to Israel that she met stupid Jews. At first it depressed her, but finally she understood: In Moscow Jews were a minority and so they had to be better than everyone else to be as good as everyone else. But here we are a nation, and we can be exactly who we are. That was as good a definition of Zionism as I’ve ever heard.”
“Still, it’s not true that Israel is only a place for Israelis. Israel still is an idea too for many of us here. And we need Diaspora Jews to remind us not to let the idea get entirely lost in the day-to-day life of the place. But Diaspora Jews also need to understand that we have the right to screw up and make mistakes, including moral mistakes, and that our right to be, along with the integrity of Judaism, isn’t being weighed anew with each screw-up.”
Rabbi Sharon Brous of congregation IKAR in Los Angeles: “Israel is a sovereign state, home to millions of real people, part of a global economy, ruled by a governing legislative body and High Court, with a strong military and police force. It’s not a ride at an amusement park. American Jews might be nostalgic for the Israel of Leon Uris, we might share a yearning for some romantic past, but it’s patronizing and self-defeating to treat Israel like it exists outside of space and time — there to receive our projections of Jewish empowerment, hold our collective history, and teach our teens self-love.”
“Israel, like any state, deserves rightful criticism when it fails, and needs meaningful and mature partnership to succeed. Yes, there will always be Yerushalayim shel ma’alah, the golden, heavenly Jerusalem of our dreams. But there is also a Yerushalayim shel matah, a real Jerusalem in the here and now. And when the real policies of real state actors make it impossible to reconcile our dreams for Jerusalem with its realities, it serves no one to hide behind the lofty ideal. Instead, we have to be honest about the reality and work toward its transformation. You can’t love something, our rabbis teach, without being honest about where the bruises are. It’s time we grow up and have a real relationship with a miraculous, beautiful and deeply flawed living reality.”
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Senior Democratic members of Congress are considering action that expresses “deep lack of confidence and trust” in Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for their roles in Israel’s decision to bar two House members — Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — from entering Israel, McClatchyreported on Saturday.
According to the report, the group — which included Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), with the backing of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) — is weighing issuing a statement of no confidence in Dermer and opening an inspector general investigation into Friedman’s conduct.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz insisted on Saturday that Dermer did not act on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he initially said Israel would allow Tlaib and Omar to enter the country. However, a source familiar with the deliberations toldHaaretz that Dermer’s original statement came after consultations with five different government offices, including the Foreign Ministry. Netanyahu defended Dermer on Sunday before heading to a two-day visit to Ukraine, saying the ambassador’s announcement last month was before Israel had viewed the congresswomen’s itinerary.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday: “House Democrats want to take action against Israel because it is fighting back against two (maybe four) people that have said unthinkably bad things about it & the Israeli people. Dems have such disdain for Israel! What happened? AOC Plus 4 is the new face of the Democrat Party!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in an interview with The Associated Press that she had “great, great, great sadness” over Israel’s decision. She further stated that the U.S.-Israel relationship “can withstand Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu” and that “we cannot let their weaknesses stand in the way of our ongoing relationship.”
Hoyer said in a statement on Friday that he remains disappointed with Israel for conditioning Tlaib’s visit to her grandmother with agreeing to not advance boycotts against Israel during her visit. “To my knowledge, no Member of Congress has ever been asked to agree to preconditions in order to visit Israel,” he said.
WHY IT MATTERS ― The Washington Post’s Matt Viser and Rachael Bade write: “The dispute has fractured bipartisan support for Israel and moved debates over it into partisan space more typically home to issues such as abortion, gun control and immigration.”
New York Timesheadline — “Israel’s alliance with Trump creates new tensions among American Jews.” — Mark Mellman, president of Democratic Majority for Israel, told the Times that the Israeli government’s move has made his task to strengthen support for Israel in the Democratic Party harder. Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based Republican donor, told the paper regarding Trump: “My God, when I look at what he’s done for Israel, I’m not going to take issue with anything he’s said or done.”
Israeli software billionaire Morris Kahn cautioned in an interviewwith i24News: “There’s no question that Israelis feel that Trump’s support has been tremendous for them. But I’m afraid that actually he’s given us a sense of security and we’re doing things that I think we should perhaps not do.”
Tom Friedman writes… “If you think Trump is helping Israel, you’re a fool: Trump’s campaign to tar the entire Democratic Party with some of the hostile views toward Israel of a few of its newly elected congresswomen — and Netanyahu’s careless willingness to concede to Trump’s demand… is part of a process that will do huge, long-term damage to Israel’s interests and support in America.” [NYTimes]
David Frum writes in The Atlantic that Netanyahu’s lesson from this episode should be not to bet big on Trump. Even if he “supposes he is getting a better deal from this president than the previous one, that’s no reason to forget there will also be a next president, and a president after that.”
SCENE IN DETROIT — Tlaib took part in a Friday night Shabbat service in Detroit’s Pallister Park this past weekend organized by Jewish Voice for Peace. The Michigan congresswoman joined about 60 supporters, telling them: “I cannot tell you how much love I feel here… Thank you for uplifting peace, love and justice.”
Omar said Friday that Netanyahu’s characterization of their slated trip was incorrect. The Minnesota lawmaker tweeted that the delegation “planned to hold meetings with members of the Knesset (both Jewish and Arab) along with Israeli security officials. The claims of @IsraeliPM otherwise are not true. As a delegation, we were also were scheduling a meeting with @USAmbIsrael.”
TV BATTLE — Comedian Bill Maher’s HBO series “Real Time with Bill Maher” has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing battle over BDS. On Friday’s show, Maher called the BDS movement a “bullshit purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class.” In response, Tlaib urged people to boycott Maher’s show, tweeting: “I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom.” The World Jewish Congress called Tlaib’s suggestion “deeply disturbing,” and wrote that: “We find it concerning that a member of the U.S. Congress would lobby for BDS and so easily suggest that Maher’s show should be boycotted simply because he expressed an opinion with which she disagrees.”
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —Vice News is out with a guide on Birthright titled, “What is Birthright and why is it so controversial? Everything you should know before deciding whether or not to join the free 10 day trip to Israel.”
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump told reporters on Sunday that he will likely release the White House’s Middle East peace plan after the Israeli election on September 17. “But we may put out pieces of it,” the president added.
Trump suggested that stopping aid to the Palestinians will eventually bring them back to the negotiating table. ”I think one of the reasons they’d want to make a deal is because of that,” he said. Further boasting about his deal-making skills, Trump maintained, “I think I’ve helped it very much by saying, ‘Look, until there’s a deal, we’re not going to pay you anymore.’”
STATE VISIT ― Netanyahu kicked off on Sunday a two-day visit to Kiev to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, both of whom are Jewish. Ukraine is the only country besides Israel where the head of state and its leader are Jewish.
DEEP DIVE — The Washington Post and The New York Times both published on Sunday insider views of Senior Advisor Stephen Miller’s influence in the White House, in particular on the administration’s immigration policy. “Mr. Miller now occupies a large West Wing office and has influence on virtually every element of immigration policy, from the words the president uses to the regulations he promulgates,” according to the Times. “As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the paper.
The Post reveals that Miller always remains glued to the teleprompter operator when he accompanies the president to campaign rallies and major speeches. “When Trump veers, colleagues say, Miller sometimes directs the operator to scroll higher or lower through the speech, so when the president is ready to pick it up again, he will hit those passages and make those points,” according to the Post. “He is dismissive of [Jared] Kushner’s more moderate immigration views and efforts to forge compromise.”
PALACE INTRIGUE —A New Yorker profile published Monday paints Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as “the last survivor of the president’s original national-security team and his most influential advisor on international affairs.” A former official called him “among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump.”
Politicorevealed on Monday that Trump has turned his back on Tom Barrack, a former close friend. “The intimate relationship between the wealthy California investor and the president has fractured so badly that the two no longer speak, current and former White House officials say… Several sources said Trump’s falling out with Barrack, who hasn’t yet donated to Trump’s re-election campaign, began even before the damaging reports about the inaugural committee.”
ON THE TRAIL — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said during a speech at the Young Leaders Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday: “I’m Jewish. My family came from Poland. My father’s whole family was wiped out by Hitler and his white nationalism… We will go to war against white nationalism and racism in every aspect of our lives.”
Foreign diplomats brace for Trump 2020 win — by Nahal Toosi: “While countries such as China and Iran have shown signs of trying to wait out Trump, several foreign officials said it would be ill-advised to count on a Trump defeat in 2020. Even if Trump loses, they argued, some of his policies and views may shape U.S. foreign policy for years to come. ‘The way it looks to people is it’s going to be another four years,’ said an Arab diplomat… ‘If he gets reelected, he’s bound by nothing, except Congress. And I don’t know how that’s going to play out.’” [Politico]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Charles Koch discussed why he is partnering with George Soros to create the Quincy Institute, a new think tank focused on foreign policy, on The Tim Ferriss Show last week. [JewishInsider]
Rachel Maddow picks on Trump judicial nominee’s Israel paper — by Melissa Weiss: On her show last Thursday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow slammed President Trump’s nomination of Steven Menashi to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, describing an academic paper authored by the attorney in defense of Israel’s standing as a Jewish state as “a highbrow argument for racial purity.” [JewishInsider]
2020 BRIEFS —Elizabeth Warren chips away at Joe Biden’s strength as the one who beats Trump… How Warren went from a regulation critic to Wall Street watchdog… Bernie Sanders’ criminal justice plan aims to cut prison population… Former President Barack Obama cautioned Biden about running for president… Biden’s online fundraising has tailed off, suggesting problems generating grassroots enthusiasm…
Tom Steyer to leave the campaign trail for jury duty… Anthony Scaramucci has spoken to Bill Kristol about trying to force Trump off the GOP ticket in 2020… John Delaney draws 11 people to 2020 event – does he truly think he can win?
HAPPENING TODAY — Former Vice President Dick Cheney will headlinea luncheon fundraiser in support of Trump’s re-election and the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Jackson, Wyoming. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are listed as “special guests” at the event.
** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Warren Buffett is buying bank stocks. Why aren’t others? [NYTimes] • WeWork landlords ‘exposed to $40bn’ in rent commitments [FinancialTimes] • Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management approached broadcasting company Tegna about a sale earlier this year [WSJ] • Tamir Sapir’s children in $102M battle with relative over dad’s estate[NYPost] • Market cap of Israel-founded Novocure exceeds $9b • [Globes] • Israeli tycoon Idan Ofer throws glitzy party on Mykonos [GreekReporter]
Trade whiplash hits Israel in slowdown worse than all forecasts — by Ivan Levingston: “Global trade tensions took a toll on Israel’s $370 billion economy, chipping away at its exports and contributing to a slowdown last quarter that was worse than anybody had envisioned. Gross domestic product rose 1% from the previous three months on an annualized basis… below a downwardly revised 4.7% gain in the first quarter and worse than every estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.” [Bloomberg]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — A gentler way to gentrify? — by Stefanos Chen: “Don’t call the real estate development company Venn a developer. Its founders prefer ‘neighboring start-up’… ‘We describe ourselves as a new way of living,’ said Or Bokobza, the chief executive, whose goals include ending the displacement of lower-income residents, creating ‘fair housing’ and ‘changing the narrative’ of gentrification… ‘I believe we can all agree gentrification is inevitable, with both positive and negative outcomes,’ said Mr. Bokobza, whose company was founded in Israel in 2016. The company’s Bushwick expansion came after rapid growth in once-overlooked areas in other cities, including Tel Aviv and Berlin, where Mr. Bokobza saw an opportunity to create housing for renters priced out of the city center.” [NYTimes]
Landlord who wants kosher cafes nixed from ‘Billionaire’s Row’ revealed — by Steve Cuozzo: “The mystery landlord trying to boot a pair of longtime kosher cafes from Billionaires’ Row is none other than block-gobbling mega-developer Sheldon Solow… a press-shy real estate mogul with a net worth of $5.2 billion, according to Forbes.” [NYPost]
MEDIA WATCH — Mark Halperin signs new book deal — by Bianca Quilantan: “Veteran political journalist Mark Halperin has signed a deal to publish a new book — his first since his professional world crumbled after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct in 2017… For his forthcoming book, Halperin interviewed more than 75 top Democratic strategists.” [Politico]
— David Axelrod tweeted on Sunday: “[Halperin] emailed me three questions about the 2020 race for a book he was writing and I replied in a few sentences, without giving enough thought to how my participation would be used or interpreted. By answering Halperin’s questions, I did not in any way mean to excuse his past, egregious behavior and, in retrospect, I regret responding at all.”
James Carville told CNN: “The guy called me and asked me to speak to him on a topic that I obviously care about. And I spoke to him.” Donna Brazille told the network: “I’m not the author. Ask Mark why he chose us.”
HOLLYWOOD — Golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism — by Art Spiegelman: “It might be worth pointing out (not out of ethnic pride, but because it might shed some light on the rawness and the specific themes of the early comics) that the pioneers behind this embryonic medium based in New York were predominantly Jewish and from ethnic minority backgrounds… those most vulnerable to the ravages of the great depression — who were especially attuned to the rise of virulent antisemitism in Germany… The young Jewish creators of the first superheroes conjured up mythic — almost god-like — secular saviours to deal with the threatening economic dislocations that surrounded them in the great depression and gave shape to their premonitions of impending global war.” [TheGuardian]
TALK OF THE TOWN — White supremacist charged with threatening to shoot up Jewish community center — by Jon Haworth: “An Ohio man has been arrested for making threats toward a local Jewish community center in New Middletown. James Reardon Jr., 20, has been charged with telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing and is being held in the Mahoning County Jail on $250,000 bond… On Friday, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force raided Reardon’s house and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition, including dozens of round of ammo, multiple semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor.” [ABCNews]
Historic Budapest synagogue to reopen amid Jewish cultural revival — by Krisztina Than: “Tamas Irsai was a teenager when he last sang in the choir in Budapest’s Rumbach synagogue during World War Two, before most Hungarian Jews were deported to death camps. Irsai survived the Holocaust but the great majority of Hungarian Jews, including many of his relatives and friends, did not… Since the 1989 fall of communism, however, Jewish community life has revived. The community now numbers about 100,000, with new schools and renovated synagogues — including Rumbach which will reopen early next year after decades of neglect during which pigeons moved in.” [Reuters]
In Pittsburgh, a bookstore where ‘freewheeling curiosity’ reigns — by Mark Oppenheimer: “Eric Ackland, the owner of Amazing Books & Records in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood… seems to have read or listened to everything in his shop, from Isaac Asimov to Michael Connelly to that small-press biography of a dead Hasidic master. He’ll gladly neglect the endless task of computerizing his shelf-busting inventory to talk with you about his beloved 19th-century authors like George Eliot and Dostoyevsky, or his fine selection of Jewish theology…. Squirrel Hill is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in the country, home to synagogues such as the Tree of Life… After the massacre, shops like Amazing Books functioned as sanctuaries.” [NYTimes]
Dor Hadash, New Light leaders urge AG to accept life in prison for accused Tree of Life gunman — by Megan Guza: “Members of two Pittsburgh Jewish congregations have asked federal prosecutors to seek a plea deal with accused Tree of Life synagogue shooter Robert Bowers and reject a death penalty case.” [TribLive]
LONG READ — The New Yorker reviving Jewish life on a holiday island — by Miriam Annenberg: “In recent years a tiny Jewish history museum has opened in the old Jewish quarter [of Majorca], a labyrinthine collection of winding roads and forked intersections east of the cathedral. Dani [Rotstein], meanwhile, has opened a Jewish tourism company. Among other things, he points out to visitors the groove running along the alley-side wall of Mont Zion Church that once housed a synagogue; rumour has it that generations of Chuetas ran their hands along the stones as they passed by in recognition of the building’s Jewish roots, wearing down the stone.” [BBC]
DESSERT — “CBS This Morning” featured Israeli chef Eyal Shani’s HaSalon restaurant in New York on its Saturday show. “I hope a very specific thing — that their life will be changed forever,” Shani told CBS’s Dana Jacobson of dining at his restaurants. “I came to New York because I saw and I understood, everybody that is living in the world is dreaming about that city.” [Video]
BIRTHDAYS: Former President Bill Clinton turns 73… Co-founder of Apollo Global Management, Marc Rowan turns 57… Silicon Valley investor Arthur Rock turns 93… Jerry Epstein turns 90… Former member of the South Dakota House & Senate, he’s publishing a memoir today, Stanford ‘Stan’ M. Adelstein turns 88… Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev turns 78… Senior partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, Mark C. Rifkin turns 59… Former chairman of the FCC and now managing director at the Carlyle Group, Julius Genachowski turns 57… Managing editor of The New York Times, Joseph Kahn turns 55…
Partner and talent agent at William Morris Endeavor, Dan Aloni turns 55… Former member of Knesset, the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Omri Sharon turns 55… Actress Kyra Sedgwick turns 54… Queens Borough President who just narrowly won a contested primary for Queens DA, Melinda R. Katz turns 54… CEO of The Friedlander Group, Ezra Friedlander turns 51… Investor Brett Icahn turns 40… Managing partner of Handmade Capital and founder of Liveset, Ross Hinkle turns 40… Private equity investor and Jewish communal leader, Yehuda L. Neuberger… Marketing content writer for Monday[dot]com, Cassandra Federbusz…
Major buzz and much uncertainty ahead of Omar and Tlaib’s trip | Max Rose reflects on his Israel visit | The Wertheimer empire
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TLAIB TRIP TURMOIL — The Israeli government is reportedly considering reversing course and banning Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) from entering the country this weekend. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the two freshman Democrats are slated to begin their trip to Israel and the West Bank on Sunday. But Channel 12 News claimed Thursday morning that Netanyahu is weighing backtracking on his earlier decision and blocking the freshman lawmakers from entering the country over their support for the BDS movement. The Wall Street Journalindicated that Tlaib could be allowed to visit her family on humanitarian grounds, while Omar would be excluded.
The Post reported that Netanyahu told congressional leaders on Wednesday he would deny entry to the two lawmakers. But the prime minister reportedly then reversed that decision after backlash from some Democrats and pro-Israel groups. An announcement on the final ruling is expected sometime on Thursday. An Israeli official toldReuters that “the possibility exists that Israel will not allow the visit in its current form. Professional and legal teams in the government ministries are continuing to examine the material.”
Reuters noted that “approval of the trip is still pending in the House of Representatives Ethics Committee, which would examine its itinerary, according to sources involved in planning the visit.” Channel 13’s Barak Ravid reported last week that Trump was in favor of Netanyahu banning the two congresswomen from visiting.
While the trip remains in limbo, Israel’s security establishment is preparing for every scenario — including the possibility that Omar and Tlaib will tour the Temple Mount, Ravid reported. According to the report, Israel’s deputy national security advisor Reuven Azar instructed the Israeli police to ensure that no Palestinian officials joined the lawmakers at the contentious holy site. Israel is also considering barring entry to Omar and Tlaib’s staffers or other delegation members, and Azar reportedly said that “the preferred goal is that the congresswomen won’t come to Israel at all.”
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh in a phone interview that the visiting congresswomen and their delegation are not planning to meet with any Israeli or Palestinian leaders during their trip. “It is going to meet with people in the refugee camps, it’s going to meet with kids, it’s going to meet with people at checkpoints, it’s going to see what the situation at the wall is like, it’s going to meet with people who lost their lands and had their homes demolished, it’s going to speak with Israeli peace activists and human rights activists,” Zogby said. “It’s going to get a read of the ground.”
Zogby said that Israel would be “stupid” if it impeded the visit in any way. “I would prefer that — having gone through the effort of making the plans for this trip — that they be allowed to make this trip in peace. But if Israel is stupid and decides to play by a different set of rules, the price will be made by them — in the long term, in America, and in the short term, everywhere else in the world. It would be a really stupid thing for them to do.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appeared on Fox News from Israel yesterday: Asked about Omar and Tlaib’s trip, McCarthy said they should have visited with their colleagues last week. “They should’ve come together where they can have a meeting with Israel, with the Palestinian Authority, with those running against Bibi at the same time. As long as you come here with an open mind, open eyes and open ears, I think you have a responsibility to come here to have an understanding.”
McCarthy also called out Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) amid his charge that Democrats have moved away from Israel: “Kamala Harris wouldn’t even go to the AIPAC meeting this year inside Washington. There’s a number of Democrats that still stand with Israel but this new socialist Democrat group has a much different belief.” [Video]
Worth noting: Kamala Harris did meet with AIPAC leadership on Capitol Hill during the group’s conference earlier this year and tweeted out a photo of the meeting.
TOP TALKER — Congress defends two-state resolution after Knesset critique — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh and Amy Spiro: Democratic and Republican House members are pushing back against Israeli criticism of a recent bipartisan resolution that included support for a two-state solution. Twenty-one members of Knesset wrote a letter earlier this week criticizing the language in the anti-BDS resolution, and claiming that the creation of a Palestinian state would be “far more dangerous for Israel” than the BDS movement.
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), one of the authors of the anti-BDS resolution, told Jewish Insider on Wednesday that: “For the last 20 years, every prime minister, including Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, has supported the two states. From my perspective, the only way that we can guarantee Israel’s security and ensure its identity as a Jewish and democratic state — while at the same time providing self determination to both the Jews and the Palestinians — is ultimately a negotiated two-state solution.”
Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who just returned from Israel, told JI that “over 97 percent of Congress voted for that resolution. And that resolution was a proclamation of the fact that one need not choose between opposing BDS — which I do… one need not choose that over peace. That is representative of a false choice, because there’s every potential for a two-state resolution.”
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), who is visiting Israel this week, said “no bill is perfect. No resolution is perfect.” But the Ohio lawmaker stressed to JI that: “For me, I thought it was important to send a signal that the United States does not stand for the BDS movement in any way. Was it a perfect bill? No. But, no bill is. For the sake of the partnership and the alliance that we have between our countries, I thought that was important.” [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE CONVO — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas faced criticism on Wednesday for snubbing a delegation of Republican House members after meeting with a similar group of Democratic lawmakers last week.
Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasma insisted that the Republican group “was informed five days ago that the president would not be able to meet due to personal and family matters related to the Eid al-Adha holiday.” Qawasma told The Times of Israel, “President Abbas will meet the Republicans next time and he is just as interested in meeting with them as he is meeting with the Democrats.” Qawasma maintained that although Abbas did meet with left-wing Israeli lawmakers on the same day he skipped meeting the Republicans, “the two are not connected… He would have met them, if his schedule permitted him to do so.”
Rep. Brad Schneider tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “I know that on my previous two trips with the AIEF he’s refused to meet with the Democrats as well. I think he missed an opportunity to meet with the Republicans and share his perspective. So yeah, I was disappointed that he did not meet with them as he did with the Democrats.”
Israel Policy Forum’s Michael Koplow emails JI: “It’s an enormous mistake for Abbas not to have met with the Republican Congressional delegation. The Palestinians need any support they can get, and snubbing Republicans in Congress due to anger at President Trump is strategically unwise and an unnecessary own goal. There are Republicans in Congress who are uneasy about the Trump approach to the Palestinians, and all Abbas has done in making excuses for not meeting with them is to convince them that there is no reason to push the Trump administration on reversing things like aid cuts. Abbas should be open to meeting with anyone who is interested in hearing his view of things, and he just wasted an excellent opportunity.”
James Zogby tells JI that regardless of what the Palestinian leader’s reasoning was “it is a no harm, no foul.” According to Zogby, no meeting with Abbas would change their minds on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The Republican position on this is very clear, and we have a situation where Congress is the major obstacle to any peace settlement, more so than even what Netanyahu is doing,” he said. “So if it were a situation where compelling arguments would change positions, I would say, ‘Oh, he should have met.’ But knowing them, rational discourse and compelling arguments weren’t going to change anything. So what would be the point?”
Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), who took part in the Democratic congressional trip last week, told JNS that the Democratic House members “walked away with a sense that [Abbas] wasn’t really interested in working with the Trump administration.”
POSTCARD FROM JERUSALEM — Rep. Max Rose, who was part of the 41-member Democratic congressional trip to Israel last week, tells JI’s Amy Spiro that he returned home with a renewed commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship, and belief in the possibility of peace.
Rose said that he “will never lose hope on the potential for a peace resolution in the region, whether that is [with] Mahmoud Abbas or down the road, whoever replaces him.” In a phone interview with Jewish Insider, the freshman lawmaker also said that: “Irrespective of who leads Israel, whether it is Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, whether it is Mr. [Benny] Gantz, or whether it is someone else down the road… I am especially hopeful after this trip that America’s firm alliance, strategic support for Israel as a Jewish, democratic nation will continue. This has got to be something that rises above politics. And that’s also the case for [whomever] is in political power in Washington D.C.”
The New York Democrat also pushed back against the media firestorm surrounding Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who are scheduled to visit Israel later this month. “This is representative of a trend in media generally, because media enjoys this type of story,” he said. “The narrative that I was focused on throughout my time there, was the fact that this was the largest congressional delegation to Israel in history. That is monumental… Those who did not make this trip, they need to make some type of trip to Israel, and there are plenty of opportunities for them to do this.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
IRAN WATCH — The U.S. is set to seize an Iranian supertanker, Grace 1, detained in Gibraltar for breaching international sanctions on oil shipments, the Gibraltar government said on Thursday. The Department of Justice requested to take over control of the ship before Gibraltar was expected to rule whether or not to release the vessel seized by Royal Marines on July 4th.
REPORT — According to a Wall Street Journal report this morning, the State Department’s Brian Hook has convened a series of secret meetings between Israel and the United Arab Emirates in recent months to share information and coordinate their efforts in countering Iran.
ON THE HILL — Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) is drafting legislation that would make domestic terrorism a distinct federal crime. The bill — aimed at closing a loophole in the law that prevents federal authorities from specifically punishing domestic terrorism — is “likely to garner significant co-sponsors in the coming days,” Politicoreported on Wednesday. “The bill I am introducing will give federal law enforcement the tools they have asked for so that they can punish criminals to the fullest extent of the law,” McSally said in a statement.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, sent letters to Mylan NV, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Heritage Pharmaceuticals asking them to turn over documents as part of an ongoing review over alleged drug price fixing. The lawmakers accused the companies of “apparent efforts to stonewall” the congressional probe.
PROTEST PANDEMONIUM — A man drove a pickup truck into a crowd of Jewish protesters outside an ICE detention center in Rhode Island Wednesday night, The Washington Postreported. A protest organizer said the man was a corrections officer at the detention facility. JTA reported that nobody was seriously injured in the incident, but the protesters were then pepper sprayed by guards. [Video]
2020 BRIEFS — John Hickenlooper expected to drop out of presidential race… Beto O’Rourke will resume his presidential bid today with a ‘major address to the nation’ from his hometown of El Paso… Stacey Abrams said in an interview she would be ‘honored to be considered’ for vice president…
RACE TO THE KNESSET — The Central Election Committee voted down a petition to bar the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party from running in the September 17 elections. Members also voted to allow far-right activists Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein to retain their positions on the slate.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Wednesday that he declined Netanyahu’s offer to serve as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN “in order to do everything in my power to ensure the victory of Likud, led by Netanyahu.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandbergsaid during an event held at Facebook’s Tel Aviv offices on Wednesday that the company has to take action to win the Israeli public’s trust ahead of the upcoming elections.
** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Bill Ackman buys stake in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway [FinancialTimes] • Warren Buffett’s huge losses on Teva mount [Globes] • Lawyer for Israeli diamond magnate, Beny Steinmetz, denies corruption claims [AP] • WeWork IPO filing reveals huge revenue and losses [WSJ] • Chase Koch turns family’s industrial giant to tech VC future [Bloomberg] • NICE wins $137 million in U.S. air traffic control deal [Globes] • After Epstein’s death, a rush to tap into his $559 million estate [WashPost]
SPOTLIGHT — WeWork’s IPO filing on Wednesday has thrown the company and its founder and CEO, the Israeli-born Adam Neumann, back into the spotlight. Axiosreported that Neumann has pledged “(along with wife Rebekah) to donate at least $1 billion to charitable causes by the IPO’s 10-year anniversary. If it doesn’t happen, his voting rights get slashed.” And according to a Reutersreport, Neumann’s close grip on the company is a stumbling block for investors. Experts told Reuters that investors “are being asked to lower their standards for corporate governance beyond what other technology startups have demanded.”
Secretive brother runs side bets for $58 billion Chanel empire — by Sophie Alexander and Tom Maloney: “[Gerard Wertheimer] and his brother Alain own Chanel, the luxury empire built on No. 5 perfume, the little black dress and the genius of Karl Lagerfeld. Then there’s the pair’s younger half-brother Charles Heilbronn, a Chanel executive vice president with an even lower profile but equally important role: safeguarding the clan’s fortune at the family office, Mousse Partners… They’re guiding one of the world’s most valuable private companies — with about $3 billion of annual profit. Together the family is worth almost $58 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a 26% increase from a year ago, making it the world’s fifth-richest.” [Bloomberg]
LEGAL REVERSAL — A controversial event slated for November at Temple Emanu-El in New York City has been canceled. The scheduled “mock trial” show was slated to feature attorney Alan Dershowitz — who has been caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein fallout — defending biblical characters on charges of child trafficking. The synagogue did not provide a reason for the cancellation.
MEDIA WATCH — When their book deal blew up after sexual misconduct allegations, Glenn Thrush kept his advance. Maggie Haberman had to pay hers back — by Rosie Gray: “The first two years of the Trump presidency were a boom time for political books, and one of the boomiest was the deal announced in September 2017, in which the New York Times’ star White House reporters, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, would write an insider’s account of the Trump presidency for Random House… Thrush was kicked off the project by the publisher after being accused of sexual misconduct… [and] he got to keep the portion of the book advance he had received… Haberman, however, paid a price. According to two sources familiar with the situation, after a period of limbo and attempts to salvage the project, Haberman decided not to do the book after losing her writing partner — and then had to give her share of the advance back to the publisher.” [BuzzFeed]
PROMOTIONS — James McAuley, the Paris correspondent for The Washington Post, will be filling in as the paper’s temporary Jerusalem correspondent — joining reporter Ruth Eglash on the ground — to cover the September 17th elections.
The Atlantic has tasked Yoni Appelbaum to lead a major expansion of the magazine’s Ideas section that he helped launch last year, editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg announced on Wednesday.
TOP TALKER — ‘Keep the Hasidic out’: A small-town housing showdown — by Sharon Otterman: “In a peaceful corner of the Hudson Valley, a broad expanse of land sits at the ready for hundreds of homes ranging between 2,500 and 3,400 square feet, with views of the surrounding hills… But if it were up to town officials, the houses would never be built. They openly fret about the size and density of the 431-unit development, the Greens at Chester, and even confess wariness about the likely intended home buyers: Hasidic Jews… Town officials have repeatedly placed obstacles in the developers’ path since they bought the land in 2017… The developers, Greens at Chester, L.L.C., cite these statements and others in a federal lawsuit that accuses the town, Orange County and individual local officials of discrimination, contending that they assume that the home buyers will be Hasidic because some of the developers are.” [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE TOWN — A proposed ethnic studies curriculum in California is facing considerable backlash and significant challenges from Jewish groups and state officials, who have promised to revisit the plan. The Associated Pressreported Wednesday that “California’s effort to write the nation’s first ethnic studies curriculum for public schools has united liberals and conservatives: They think it’s terrible. Jewish lawmakers complained that the proposed lessons are antisemitic, while a conservative critic says capitalism is presented as a ‘form of power and oppression.’” The Sacramento Beecitedportions of the curriculum that alarmed Jewish groups, including excluding Jewish refugees from a discussion of immigration, asking students to research the BDS movement and song lyrics that purport “For every free political prisoner, an Israeli colony is expanded.”
Las Vegas rabbi talks about isolation after plot against synagogue — by Rachel Crosby: “Early Saturday, Rabbi Jered Hundley stood before his crowded Las Vegas congregation hoping to share with them, not scare them. In the audience were about 110 familiar faces, mostly adults but also young children. They sat quietly, listening… With a deep breath, he explained that the unidentified synagogue described Friday in national headlines — the synagogue that a Las Vegas man had just been accused of plotting an attack against — was theirs… Conor Climo, 23, was charged Friday in connection with bomb-making materials found in his home, about 7 miles from Lev HaShem Messianic Synagogue.” [LVReviewJournal; LasVegasSun]
Neo-Nazi group puts racist ‘Send Them Back’ posters on Seattle synagogues — by Hope Schreiber: “Police are investigating after racist, anti-immigrant fliers were found at two South Seattle synagogues on Sunday. The posters depict a cartoon of an outstretched arm representing ‘America’ and U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley ‘biting the hand that feeds them.’… The fliers are signed by the Daily Stormer Book Club, a neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and Holocaust denial group.” [YahooNews]
ACROSS THE POND — MP Chris Williamson sues Labour for suspension over antisemitism: “An MP is taking the Labour Party to court over its decision to reinstate his suspension for his remarks about the party’s handling of antisemitism… His original suspension was lifted in June following a formal warning, but it was reimposed two days later after a backlash from Jewish groups. Mr. Williamson said he hoped to overturn the ‘unconstitutional’ decision to ‘re-suspend me from the party I love.’” [BBC]
DESSERT — Barstool Sports Founder Visits Kosher Pizza Shop in Queens: For his latest segment of One Bite Pizza Reviews, Barstool’s Dave Portnoy tries Kosher pizza at Mezze in Forest Hills and gets into a debate with the non-Jewish pizza maker about the cheese on the pizza. [YouTube]
BIRTHDAYS: Founder of Slim-Fast, major Democratic party donor, S. Daniel Abraham turns 95… Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Stephen Breyer turns 81… Irvin Farber turns 89… CFO of The Trump Organization, he and Donald Trump Jr. are the trustees operating the company during the Trump presidency, Allen Weisselbergturns 72… Founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler turns 70… Economist, CPA, and founding member of wealth advisor RVW Investing LLC, Selwyn Gerber turns 69… Colorado resident, an artist and avid mountain biker, William Crary (“Bill”) Weidman turns 69…
Co-founder and co-rabbi of Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, Georgia, he has served three congregations in Argentina and served as Rabbi-in-Residence for the Jewish community of Cuba, Rabbi Mario Karpuj turns 53… Emmy Award-winning actress, she played Grace Adler on the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” (1998–2006), Debra Messing turns 51… Principal of Atlas Philanthropy, Margot Atlas turns 50… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-VA-2), she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a Navy officer for 20 years prior to entering politics, Elaine Goodman Luria turns 44…
Israeli attorney, he’s appeared in the Israeli versions of “The Amazing Race” and “Dancing with the Stars,” Raz Meirman turns 42… Program director of business ventures at Boston University, Rachel Spekman turns 36… Executive director of New York’s Transit Innovation Partnership, Rachel Sterne Haot turns 36… Director of communications, marketing strategy and content for insurance company Lemonade, Yael Wissner-Levy turns 35… Elliott Management’s Adam Jason Katz turns 34… Product designer at Oscar Health, Talia Siegel turns 28… Director of product, previously at Heed and Uber, Ezra Mosseri turns 26… Real estate and business law attorney in the law firm of Abramoff Neuberger, Meir Neuberger… Joe Farry… David Summer…
After meeting with House Dems, Abbas snubs visiting GOP | Interview with Nadler challenger Lindsey Boylan | Shari Redstone’s merger
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SCOOP — Abbas snubs visiting Republican congressmen — by JI’s Amy Spiro: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas snubbed a Republican congressional delegation on Tuesday, despite meeting with a similar group of Democratic members last week. The 31 Republican members of Congress were scheduled to meet with Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday as part of a weeklong trip organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of AIPAC.
But Abbas was a no-show, instead sending other Palestinian officials to meet the group. A source familiar with the trip confirmed that the delegation met instead with PLO General Secretary Saeb Erekat and PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
Abbas did meet on Tuesday with representatives of the newly formed Democratic Union faction of left-wing Israeli parties. Knesset member Issawi Frej (Meretz) and candidate Noa Rothman (Democratic Israel) met with the Palestinian leader in Ramallah Tuesday evening.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) told Jewish Insider that he opted to skip the Ramallah portion of the trip after he learned Abbas would not be attending. “He cancelled on the Republicans,” said Gonzalez. “I think it’s because the administration has been awfully hard on Palestinians and very supportive of Israel — which is the right thing to do — and I think he saw the Republicans as maybe not worth his time.” [JewishInsider]
HEARD IN JERUSALEM — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is leading the Republican congressional trip, toldThe Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that while mainstream Democrats still support Israel, the party is moving in another direction. “They are not [just] a few freshmen anymore; they are the movement within the party,” he said. “This is different than what I have felt in other Congresses. I never felt you had to fight for [pro-Israel legislation]. There is an element you have to fight for now.”
MEET THE CANDIDATE — The progressive Democrat seeking to topple Nadler — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: In his 13 re-election bids since joining Congress in 1992, Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has yet to face a viable challenger. But next year Nadler, who now serves as chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee, will face at least one Democratic primary opponent who is garnering significant attention and resources in her quest to replace the 72-year-old incumbent and represent New York’s 10th congressional district. Lindsey Boylan, who raised $264,657 in the last quarter, served as an economic development advisor for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In a recent interview with Jewish Insider, Boylan said voters are eager for a change from Nadler, who she says has not been successful in “producing legislation” and “putting forth ideas that garner support and change the conversation.”
Boylan also thinks Nadler is “kicking the can down the road” and “politicizing” the issue of impeaching the president, rather than moving forward. “He has made, in many ways, what should not be a political process, a completely politicized issue. We should have been on this road months ago,” she said, adding, “We just heard Congressman Nadler say that this moment is reminiscent of the 1930s in Germany… that’s a pretty big statement to just put out there and do nothing about, if you really believe that.”
Defining herself as a progressive woman, Boylan draws a clear line between her progressive bona fides and her views on Israel and national security. As a supporter of Israel, Boylan says she approves of the anti-BDS resolution that recently passed in the House: “Boycotting Israel is both unproductive and unfair, at best.” She added: “I believe in a two-state solution, which I think is at the moment very complicated.”
Boylan recently visited Israel with her family to attend a bat mitzvah celebration for the daughter of a close friend. “It was magical,” she said of the weeklong trip. “It was the most magical trip I’ve ever been on. We went to Masada. We took so many tours of the Old City.”
As the interview wrapped up, Boylan shared with JI her favorite Jewish pastry: “Sufganiyot — the jelly-filled ones.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
ON THE TRAIL — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded to a question about criticism of Israel during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday. “All that I have ever said on this issue [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], is that U.S. foreign policy should be even-handed. That’s all — even-handed,” Sanders told the questioner, an IfNotNow activist. “We respect Israel. Israel has every right to live in peace and security, but so do the Palestinian people. And as somebody who is proudly Jewish, to be critical of a right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel is not to be antisemitic.”
Sanders added: “The United States government gives a whole lot of money to Israel and I think we can leverage that money to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel.” [JewishInsider; Video]
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked by a reporter, following his soapbox speech at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Tuesday, if he would reverse President Donald Trump’s Golan recognition. “The really upsetting thing about what was done with the Golan Heights was that it was an intervention in Israeli domestic politics,” he said. “I’m not going to make any declarations now about the future of that status other than to say that on my watch it would not have come about as part of the intervention of Israeli [politics].” [JNS]
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a gaggle with reporters following a grassroots fundraiser in New York City on Monday: “As president, you have a lot of leverage, from our [Department of Justice] to a whole Department of Homeland Security. They need to be doing a lot more to counter antisemitism, to counter the kind of violence we see that Jews and others are facing in this country. We need to make sure from an educational standpoint all the way to an investigatory and research standpoint. We need to be doing everything we can as a culture to shun this darkness and this evil from our nation.”
TOP-OP — Marc A. Thiessen writes: “The rise of antisemitism on the left: The fact is antisemitism is a growing problem on the left. In Britain this year, three members of the Labour Party resigned after accusing the party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, of being — as a former Labour general secretary put it — ‘institutionally antisemitic.’ In Washington, congressional Democrats have struggled to confront antisemitism within their own ranks.” [WashPost]
Alma Hernandez, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, writes… “As a Mexican-Jewish lawmaker, I feel doubly targeted by Trump’s hateful rhetoric: I used to think that these white supremacists hated me because I’m a Jew. But now I realize I don’t know what they hate more: the fact that I am a Mexican Jew or that I am taking up ‘space’ on this land they assert is theirs.” [JTA]
2020 BRIEFS — Stacey Abrams will not run for president in 2020, focusing instead on fighting voter suppression… Billionaire Tom Steyer has nearly spent his way to a spot in the third Democratic debate… As 2020 race heats up, growing worries that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will split leftist vote… Republican donors told to wait as Pompeo considers Kansas Senate run… John Hickenlooper mulling ending presidential bid to run for Senate… Washington Post editor attacks Bernie Sanders’ ‘conspiracy theory’
** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: CBS and Viacom strike deal for long-thwarted merger [WSJ] • ViacomCBS is just the beginning of Shari Redstone’s media deals[Reuters] • Goldman rivals circle after top banker, Steven Barg, jumps to Elliott [FinancialTimes] • WeWork takes 56K square-feet in the Financial District [CommercialObserver] • Yoel Goldman sells majority stake in Gowanus dev site to Rabsky for $80M [RealDeal] • Beny Steinmetz will fight corruption charges in Geneva court: lawyer [Reuters] • Amazon Web Services sets up infrastructure in Israel [Globes]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT —The New York Timesreported on Tuesday that longtime donor Elliott Broidy had advocated for the Trump administration to support the creation of a counterterrorism force backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which would be supported by his private security and intelligence company, Circinus. Broidy promoted the plan during a two-hour meeting with President Donald Trump and his senior advisors — including Jared Kushner ― in 2017. According to the report, Broidy also attempted to convince Trump that Qatar was part of an “axis of evil.” These lobbying efforts, among others, are now the subject of a federal investigation.
LEGAL CLASH —The Washington Postreported on Tuesday that professor Alan Dershowitz and prominent attorney David Boies have been “brutally yoked in a subplot of the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case.” Boies represents Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has accused Dershowitz of sexually abusing her. “As the Boies-Dershowitz conflict has dragged on, Boies, his partners and his allies have tarred Dershowitz in personal affidavits… as a liar and a sneak who secretly recorded a call with a fellow lawyer… Meanwhile, Dershowitz has painted Boies as a corrupt attorney with a long trail of ethical lapses, a cheat and the head of a criminal enterprise.”
And Dershowitz’s scheduled upcoming appearance at a synagogue in New York in November has raised eyebrows. JI’s Ben Jacobs pointed out that the attorney is slated to serve as the defense lawyer — against prosecutor Chris Christie — in a mock trial over “kidnapping and child trafficking” based on stories from the Torah.
HOLLYWOOD — Yitzhak Rabin assassination film ‘Incitement’ coming to market at TIFF — by Stewart Clarke: “‘Incitement,’ about the promising Israeli law student who became an ultra-nationalist obsessed with assassinating Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. WestEnd Films is producing and will also launch sales on the picture at TIFF… The first still released from the film shows Yehuda Nahari Halevi (‘Wedding Doll’) as Amir, burning a picture of Rabin at a protest.” [Variety]
Endemol shine sets Israeli comedy about frustrated screenwriter — by Stewart Clarke: “Israeli comedy drama ‘Fifty,’ about a sexually and professionally frustrated screenwriter, has been greenlit by pay-TV platform Yes. It has a seasoned team behind it — with Yael Hedaya, one of the writers of ‘Betipul,’ the show remade as ‘In Treatment’ in the U.S. — creating the eight-parter. Daphna Levine, one of the creators of ‘Euphoria,’ which was recently adapted by HBO, is attached to direct. Endemol Shine Israel will produce.”[Variety]
MEDIA WATCH — The New York Times said on Tuesday that it is demoting Jonathan Weisman from his role as deputy Washington editor, CNN Businessreported. Weisman will remain an editor in D.C., but he will no longer be overseeing congressional correspondents and cease posting on social media after facing backlash for controversial tweets. The Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet told CNN Business that he decided to host an employee town hall on Monday in part because of Weisman’s recent behavior on social media.
TRANSITION —The Washington Post has promoted Suzanne Goldenberg as the paper’s new Sunday business editor.
HAPPENING THIS WEEK — Approximately 1,250 participants are gathering today for the 14th annual National Jewish Retreat at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Speakers at the six-day conference include Natan Sharansky, Deborah Lipstadt, Dan Ariely, Kenneth Feinberg, Nathan Lewin, Alyza Lewin, George Rohr, David Magerman, Yaakov Katz, and Rabbi YY Jacobson. [JRetreat]
TOP TALKER — El Al flight attendant dies 4 months after contracting measles on plane from NY: “An Israeli flight attendant who was hospitalized in April after catching measles on a plane has died, becoming the third [Israeli] fatality in an outbreak of the highly contagious disease. The El Al flight attendant, named Tuesday as Rotem Amitai, 43, had contracted measles on a flight from New York in late March.” [ToI; BBC]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Cops release footage of teens wanted for suspected hate crimes against Jewish men — by Tina Moore and Stephanie Pagones: “New video shows the quartet of teens wanted in connection with several suspected hate crime attacks on Jewish men in Brooklyn. The footage, released late Monday, shows four male teenagers walking into an unspecified building in Williamsburg around the time of Monday morning’s attempted robberies.” [NYPost]
TALK OF THE NATION — A small Jewish community hangs on, with pride, in Mumbai ― by Miriam Groner: “Mumbai’s Jewish community, which despite being overshadowed by the multitude of other religions in India, has a long and storied history. That story stretches back some 2,000 years when, historians speculate, Jewish traders traveling from Judea came to India along the trade route and settled in Kochin. More came around 70CE when Jews were exiled from Israel following the destruction of the Second Temple… Now there are only about 5,000 Jews in all of India, the majority of whom live in Mumbai where there are about 10 synagogues, many of which are beautifully historic and architectural landmarks.” [JewishWeek]
Jewish refugee descendants challenge Germany over citizenship — by Luke Hanraham: “British descendants of Jewish refugees who fled the Nazis are challenging the German government’s rejection of their citizenship bids. Anyone deprived of citizenship during the Nazi regime is eligible for it to be restored. But some claim they have been turned down as they were adopted, or their parents left Germany before 1941… New figures show the number of Brits applying for German citizenship has increased since the 2016 EU referendum.” [BBC]
Outcry as preschool sets up in former Nazi concentration camp —“The greying, box-like building that houses the Savsko Obdanište kindergarten has had many uses over the years… Nothing about the building’s current uses hints at its most troubling past incarnation: as a makeshift hospital in a Nazi concentration camp. Although Staro Sajmište has been touted as the location for a proposed Holocaust memorial since the early 1990s, progress to approve it has been slow. In the meantime, parts of the site have been sold to private owners.” [Guardian]
Archaeologists find evidence of Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem — as told in the Bible — by Matthew Robinson: “Archaeologists excavating on Mount Zion in Jerusalem have uncovered evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city, appearing to confirm a Biblical account of its destruction. Academics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte made significant finds, including ash deposits, arrowheads and broken pieces of pots and lamps.”[CNN]
Jordan halts film that refers to historical Jewish presence — by Mohammed Daraghmeh: “A fictional caper about an antiquities heist set in an ancient Jordanian city has stirred widespread outrage over the film’s portrayal of historical Jewish ties to Jordan, shining a light on the tenuous peace with neighboring Israel and prompting the government to suspend the movie’s production… ‘Jaber,’ follows a Jordanian boy who uncovers a stone in the rose-colored, rock-hewn city of Petra with a Hebrew inscription on it. He sets off to sell it to the highest bidder, but interested parties in Israel catch wind of the find, dispatching a Russian organized crime group to pursue the boy and retrieve the stone at any cost.” [AP]
DESSERT — A young rabbi who recently moved here is putting on the Milwaukee area’s first Jewish Food Festival — by Kristine Kierzek: “Rabbi Moshe Luchins and his wife, Sheina, love food. Cooking and community are central to their lives, and when they moved to Wisconsin about nine months ago they were looking for ways to connect. Being new to the area, Luchins and his wife initially started visiting different grocery stores and setting up a ‘kosher awareness table.’… Thinking bigger, they’re launching the first annual Jewish Food Festival, a two-day community celebration to be held Sunday Aug. 18 and Monday Aug. 19 at Virmond Park in Mequon.”[JournalSentinel]
BIRTHDAYS: Former Attorney General of New Jersey (2002-2003) and Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (2011-2014), David Samson turns 80… President of the Hampton Synagogue and former board member of the UJA Federation-New York, Carol Levin turns 75… Member of the New York State Assembly, he is the chapter president of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Charles D. Lavine turns 72… Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Professor of Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Oncology and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins, Henry Brem, M.D. turns 67…
U.S. District Court Judge in South Carolina, he previously served as President of the Columbia (SC) Hebrew Benevolent Society and the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, Judge Richard Mark Gergel turns 65… Turkish-born economist and professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Dani Rodrik turns 62… Professor, author and political analyst, he previously served as Jewish outreach director for Marco Rubio during his 2016 presidential campaign, Martin J. Sweet turns 49… Montclair, New Jersey-based filmmaker and producer, she is the executive director of DOC NYC, a major documentary film festival in NYC, Raphaela Neihausen turns 43…
Former AIPAC and Republican Jewish Coalition staffer, in 2018 he ran for Congress in the 10th District of Illinois, Jeremy Wynes turns 40… Political strategist, investment banker and attorney, he is currently the chief political analyst at Sinclair Broadcast Group after a stint in the Trump White House, Boris Epshteyn turns 37… Ukrainian-born actress, she moved to Los Angeles at the age of seven and has appeared in dozens of films, Mila Kunis turns 36… Retired lacrosse player, he played for ten seasons in Major League Lacrosse (2009-2018) and for Team Israel at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship, Maxwell (Max)Oren Seibald turns 32… Ryan Smith… Dylan Cooper… Tim Carney…
Bernie Sanders: Leverage U.S. aid to end Israeli ‘racism’
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday that he seeks only to be “even-handed” on the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Responding to a question from an IfNotNow activist, Sanders said: “All that I have ever said on this issue [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], is that U.S. foreign policy should be even-handed. That’s all — even-handed.”
The senator said that “we respect Israel. Israel has every right to live in peace and security, but so do the Palestinian people. And as somebody who is proudly Jewish, to be critical of a right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel is not to be antisemitic.”
In a portion of the video edited out by IfNotNow, Sanders also said “the fault is not all with Israel. You got very poor and corrupt Palestinian leadership.” He said the goal of U.S. policy should be “to bring people in the region together — Palestinians and Israelis — to create a workable peace that works for both parties, not just one.”
Sanders added: “The United States government gives a whole lot of money to Israel, and I think we can leverage that money to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel.”
Last month, during a podcast interview, Sanders said he would support leveraging aid to Israel to pressure the Israeli government on its policies.