Congresswoman Kathy Manning reveals she and Rep. Raskin are fourth cousins

On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein were joined by Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) to discuss her support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, the current nuclear talks with Iran and the growing threat of antisemitism.

On whether to return to the JCPOA: “I don’t understand how you can go back to a deal that was put into place under different circumstances, many years ago,” said Manning of the negotiations to return to the 2015 Iran deal. “Some of the sunset provisions have already expired. We no longer have the arms embargo at the U.N. We were hoping that being in the deal would cause Iran to curb its bad behavior and perhaps even cease from some of its malign behavior in fostering terrorism around the globe. And what we’ve seen is that they’ve done exactly the opposite. We also see that when faced with real economic trouble for its own people, rather than use their resources to take care of their own people, they are using that money to continue to foster and support terrorists around the world. So when you think about all those things that have changed, or that we’ve learned from since when the deal was put into place, I don’t even understand how you can say, ‘Let’s get back into the same deal.’ We’re not in the same world today.”

Praise for Blinken: “I think in our new Secretary of State Tony Blinken, we have someone who is the consummate professional. He understands Iran, he understands Israel. Frankly, his knowledge of the world is extraordinary. And I believe that he has the right goals and also the right instincts. So we had an opportunity on the Foreign Affairs Committee to take testimony from him. And he was slated to stay for two hours, he was kind enough to expand that to four hours so that each one of us could ask our questions. And he was just fabulous. And the way he responded, and particularly on the Iran issue, he understood that we’re looking for a deal that is longer, stronger and broader. And I believe that he endorses that.” 

Middle East in a phrase? “‘The best of times, the worst of times.’ I wish it were original. We had a hearing yesterday on Syria. And when you get into the details of what has happened over the past 10 years in Syria, what a possible resolution could be, it’s extraordinarily complicated. And the fact that we have Iran trying to get a foothold there, that we have Russia establishing a foothold there, it adds a new dimension to the region. And you know, Russia won’t give up easily because it really wants to be there. On the other hand, I think the Abraham Accords are incredibly good. Give us hope. Somebody corrected me the other day when I said ‘Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood,’ and somebody said, ‘Well, it’s not quite as dangerous as it used to be.’ I hope that’s correct. I think that the Abraham Accords certainly have been in the works for many years. And I think it is a demonstration of the fact that there are countries in the region that see Israel as, as a model.”

On succeeding former Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY): “I could never fill the shoes of either of those two individuals. But I am a strong pro-Israel Democrat, and I’m not shy about it. And I will stand up for Israel, and I will also stand up for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

On UNRWA: “I am going to be leading and getting my colleagues to sign on to a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations objecting to using funds for the kinds of textbooks that we know they continue to promise not to use and yet they continue to use. Textbooks that are filled with incendiary, antisemitic comments and language and anti-Israel teachings. I believe, that’s got to stop and in this moment, when there’s such attention focused on discrimination of all types, I think this is the moment to step up to this issue as well.”

On how leading JFNA prepared her for Congress: “I was sitting in the House Gallery when the [January 6th] insurrection took place. And when all the commotion started, they told us to take off the gas masks. Because I was in the Gallery, we were the last group that was taken to safety. And when they finally got us to the other side of the gallery, they told us to get down on the floor, take off our member pins so that they couldn’t identify us if the insurrectionists broke into the doors. And then there was just quiet while we all sat and waited. And I thought to myself, I’ve been through much worse, I’ve had to run to bomb shelters in Sderot when you could actually hear sirens going off and the rockets coming over. And you know, I laugh about that, but I seriously thought about that and thought, ‘okay, I’ve been prepared for this. I’ve been through worse.’ I didn’t know that that was going to be preparation for being in Congress. And, of course, at the time, we couldn’t see what was going on outside the building. Nor could we have ever imagined what was going on outside. But I think my work in the Jewish world prepared me well.”

Favorite Yiddish word? “I think machatunim, because there is no English equivalent. And when you try to describe what that word is to non-Jews, first they get confused, and then they say, ‘Well, why don’t we have a word for that?’” When told she had chosen the same word as former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Manning cheerfully replied, “We have something in common!”

Jewish geography: Manning revealed the recent family discovery that she and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) are fourth cousins. “It is a very small world.”

Eric Cantor: GOP needs to return to ‘suburban agenda’

Former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) joined Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein on this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast.” Cantor shared his thoughts on the state of the Republican Party and the trajectory of bipartisan support for Israel in Washington.

Who leads the GOP: “Clearly Donald Trump has demonstrated that he’ll do what’s good for him, no question about it,” Cantor said. “And so it’ll be an interesting primary season for the midterm elections in 2022 to begin to understand what Donald Trump will do. If he wants to maintain his importance, obviously, he’ll need to play ball with the party, if you will. If he wants to do what’s good for him and believes he can be of outsize [importance] on his own. That’s a different story. And then in the meantime, clearly, the other leaders in the party nationally, [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated very definitively that it is his job to go in and make sure that Republicans regain the majority in the Senate. My former colleague and successor, [Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)] has said, without qualms, that his job is to make sure that Republicans regain the majority in the House. So at that point, I don’t think you have a national voice speaking for the Republican Party. And naturally that will come as we then pass the midterms and begin the primary season for the presidential race, which will occur in ‘24.”

Suburban living: Asked about the key steps Republicans would have to take in order to win back the House and Senate, Cantor recalled his early days in Congress with fellow Republican (Goldberg’s former boss) then-Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL): “I first went to Washington, and I was in Mark’s class, and Mark was famous for the suburban agenda. I will say today, that that’s what my party needs to regain its footing within the electorate that it seems to have lost during the last four, six, eight years. And it is about speaking to the suburban professional voter, because I worry that without those voters, states — like mine in Virginia, and others throughout the country — it’s just becoming increasingly difficult for my party to be electorally competitive….You’ve seen it take place in a state like Colorado, obviously, you’re seeing it increasingly take place in sunbelt states like Arizona and Georgia. So there is a real question.”

Growing up Jewish: “I grew up in a not-so-Jewish community. It was, obviously a suburban Richmond city in Virginia, small Jewish population, fairly prominent, but small. And so the district had maybe 1%, or less Jewish [population]. I went to a private school in Richmond, and I went to chapel every single day — it was a Protestant school. I often tell people I was exposed to prayer in school early on. And at the same time, in the afternoon, I’d go to Hebrew school. So it was sort of a great upbringing for me, because I think it brought it closer to the faith and who I am as a Jew… When I first got elected to Washington, being in such a minority within a minority, it was almost like people would parade through my office just to see this individual, like this creature — like a freak show. But again, I do think that I was able to project the notion that both of our parties should be open to all faiths.”

Special relationship: “Increasingly, I think two things happened on Israel. One is, as we saw, the more radicalization, if you will, of the progressive left. That term they use of intersectionality — I don’t quite understand all of it — but if you’re a victim, then we’ll be for you because we’re a victim. And it almost became [like] Israel after the Yom Kippur War proved to the world that it was no longer the underdog, and that it was actually the strongest player, certainly in the Levant, and in the eastern Mediterranean, if not throughout the Middle East… Secondly, during the Obama administration, there’s no question about it, [then-White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel — [Rich’s] fellow Chicagoan — was unequivocal at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: he was not supportive of Bibi [Netanyahu] as prime minister. And the sharing of political talent on both sides that played out in Israel reflected what we had going on here. So I do think those two issues really started to cloud the support for Israel? I do think it’s still somewhat bipartisan, but there’s definitely a lot more difficulty at it.”

Lightning round: Favorite Yiddish word? “The term, for which there is no English word and only Yiddish, is Machatunim” said grandparent-to-be Cantor, who earlier in the episode described meeting his wife, a Florida Democrat, on a blind date in New York City. Favorite part of Passover? “The eighth day at sundown.” Current reading list? Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower by Hank Paulson, and We Should Have Seen It Coming: From Reagan to Trump — A Front-Row Seat to a Political Revolution by Gerald Seib. Favorite place in Virginia nobody has heard of? “Colonial Trail, which is a new bike trail between Richmond and Williamsburg and goes along the plantation alley along the James River, is a great new addition.”

Senator Gillibrand joins Jewish Insider’s ‘Limited Liability Podcast’

On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” hosts Richard Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein were joined by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to discuss her relationship with New York’s Jewish community, the recent allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and her take on how to approach Iran’s continued nuclear development.

Community ties: Gillibrand, who represents the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, spoke at length about her ties with New York’s Jewish community. “It’s a very diverse community,” she said. “It’s a community that cares deeply about New York and their fellow citizens. It’s a community that truly believes in the greater good; a lot of the not for profits that are run by Jewish leaders are among the best in the state. So it’s a real joy to spend time and to work with people in the Jewish community across our state.” Still, Gillibrand emphasized the dangers facing the community, which has seen a dramatic increase in targeted hate crimes. Calling antisemitism an “exponential” and “constant growth across the country,” she specifically blamed former President Donald Trump. “When they had the Charlottesville riots and chants were done that were deeply offensive against the Jewish community… President Trump did not stand up to it.”

“What I try to do in the U.S. Senate is be a galvanizer for legislation and policies to fight antisemitism.” Gillibrand — who later named “chutzpah” as her favorite Yiddish word — continued. “I typically lead the legislation and the bills that relate to fighting against antisemitism at the UN, which unfortunately, the Human Rights Council is often used as a platform for antisemitism. I also lead the letters and the funding to fight against antisemitism and to keep our community safe.”

On Cuomo: An early advocate supporting the #MeToo movement, Gillibrand came under pressure this past week to address the sexual harassment claims leveled against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Calling the allegations “obviously serious” and “deeply concerning,” the Albany native offered her support for the independent investigation requested by New York Attorney General Tish James. “I support her doing that. And I think that is the appropriate next step to allow people to be heard and allow facts to be gathered.”

“Many survivors, men and women, who have endured sexual violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, when they told the authorities what happened to them, they were disbelieved. And so the investigation never took place. So justice had no possibility of ever being done,” Gillibrand continued.“That’s why we have things like the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commision], and we have other systems to guarantee that we fight against antisemitism, that we fight against racism, [that we] fight against sexism, that we fight against harassment in the workplace. And so what I do is work on a bipartisan basis to change the way we deal with these cases.”

On Iran: Gillibrand reiterated her opposition to the U.S. leaving the 2015 Iran deal under Trump, explaining that her support for the deal fit with the evidence presented to Congress. “I sit on the Armed Services Committee, I now also sit on the Intelligence Committee, and at that time, our national security experts — our CIA, our Department of Defense — all said that the deal made such a better position for America in terms of national security,” she explained, “because we would gain all the knowledge of the minds, the mills, the centrifuges, the production, and we’d have hands on eyes on each production facility and and that they believed was the kind of intelligence that could not be passed up for any future conflict that might be necessary if Iran did breach…So that’s why I supported it. If we’re going to enter into it again, we need to have the same national security priorities”

Asked about [International Atomic Energy Agency] reports of undeclared Iranian sites, Gillibrand mentioned a trip to Vienna before the pandemic to meet with IAEA officials on the issue. “I certainly hope as soon as COVID is under control that we can take another trip out there and to not only meet with the IAEA again, but meet with our partners in the region, to assess the credibility of the review and where and how the US should stand with the world community against Iran,” she continued.

Lightning Round: Favorite Yiddish word? Chutzpah. Books she’s currently reading: Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times by Michael Beschloss and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (with her son). Favorite upstate New York delicacy? Apples, especially Honeycrisp and McIntosh, and Stewart’s ice cream. Most admired New York politician past or present? Former Senators Hillary Clinton and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Ritchie Torres vows to prevent the ‘Corbynization’ of progressive politics

Freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) cautioned about the rise of antisemitism in progressive politics during a wide-ranging conversation in the inaugural episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” hosted by Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein.

Torres, who describes himself as “the embodiment of a pro-Israel progressive,” said he is mindful of anti-Israel elements within the Democratic Party that have the ability to turn antisemitic. “We have an obligation to combat antisemitism no matter where it emerges, whether it’s from the right, from the left. It has to be fought at every turn and in every form,” he said. 

“My concern is that the pro-BDS left could be to the Democratic Party in American politics what Jeremy Corbyn has been to the Labour Party in British politics,” Torres cautioned. “It only takes a few demagogues to pump antisemitic poison into the bloodstream of a political party. And so I see it as my mission to resist the Jeremy Corbynization of progressive politics in the United States.”

Torres, a freshman representing New York’s 15th congressional district, addressed his hard-fought primary victory, which pitted him against a diverse group of Democratic candidates, from the conservative Rubén Díaz, Sr. to Democratic socialist Samelys López, who had the backing of high-profile progressive leaders and groups.

“New York City has become ground zero for Democratic socialism. In the latest election cycle, the [Democratic Socialists of America] won every single race in which it endorsed, except mine,” noted Torres, who on Thursday endorsed New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.

“I had powerful forces arrayed against me — I had Bernie Sanders, [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], the [Working Families Party], the DSA, all endorsed Samelys López against me. And not only did I win, but I won decisively,” Torres said of his primary victory. “And I sent a powerful message that you can run as a pro-Israel, pragmatic progressive without catering to the extremes and you can win decisively in a place like the South Bronx.”

“Limited Liability Podcast” is a new weekly podcast for readers of Jewish Insider. Hear from the key players generating buzz and making headlines in conversation with two top political operatives, Jarrod Bernstein and Rich Goldberg. One Democrat, one Republican. Both hosts have extensive experience in the political arena and a deep rolodex to match. It’s Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff brought to life.

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