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Jewish Insider | Daily Kickoff
September 23rd, 2020
👋 Good Wednesday morning!

At the virtual U.N. General Assembly yesterday, President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani traded barbs over their escalating dispute on sanctions and the status of the 2015 nuclear deal.  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa held their first publicly announced call yesterday. The first known direct flight on a commercial airliner between Israel and Bahrain touched down this morning in the Gulf nation. 

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met in Washington yesterday with White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Mark Esper. “The two leaders shared views about the security challenges in the Middle East, and reaffirmed the ironclad defense relationship between the United States and Israel,” the Pentagon said in a readout following the meeting.

Zoom denied the use of its platform to an event hosted by San Francisco State University slated for today featuring Leila Khaled, a convicted Palestinian terrorist. Read more here.

More than 200,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, marking a somber milestone in the fight against the virus, as new clusters of cases in Brooklyn and Queens are sounding alarms in the city. 

In Israel, more than 200,000 coronavirus cases have officially been confirmed, as the government weighs instituting further lockdown restrictions.   
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rising star

Madison Cawthorn wants to be the AOC of the GOP

cawthorn for congress
If Madison Cawthorn wins his bid to represent North Carolina’s 11th district in November, he will become the youngest congressman to serve in at least several decades. The Republican upstart, who turned 25 last month, came virtually out of nowhere to win a June GOP runoff election, and is predicted to win the seat this November. Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel spoke to the young Republican candidate for a rare interview about his campaign focus, his Instagram controversy and his 2018 trip to Israel. 

Insta replay: As Cawthorn’s national profile has risen, his polished image has accrued some blemishes. He came under scrutiny for a 2017 Instagram post from a trip to the Eagle’s Nest, the site that once served as Hitler’s mountain chalet, where he referred to visiting “the vacation house of the Führer.” In the interview with JI, Cawthorn defended himself against accusations of antisemitism, but acknowledged that the caption could have been written differently. “I can see how, specifically when I used the terminology ‘Führer,’ instead of just saying ‘Hitler’ — I can see how a lot of people might have thought that was kind of a term of reverence,” Cawthorn said. “If I could go back, I might actually change using that terminology just because I didn't put myself in the shoes of someone who comes from a Jewish background or a Jewish culture.”

Face off: Cawthorn is considered the favorite to win in the conservative district, where he faces Democratic candidate Morris Davis, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, in the race to fill the seat left vacant by former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). “I'm not focused on tearing down statues. I’m not focused on gender reassignment surgery. I’m not focused on incremental GDP growth,” said Cawthorn. “I'm focused on dining room politics, what matters to a young family sitting around their tables with their kids.” But Davis told JI that “we believe the more people learn about both of us, the more likely I will win,” adding: “Those who do their homework will discover that my opponent is the least-qualified candidate for Congress in the country. With little formal education and having never held a full-time job, he has a resume that wouldn't qualify for most entry-level positions at any company.”

Building ties: Cawthorn expressed a strong desire to build relationships with the Jewish community in his district and beyond. He praised a political role model, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair, for receiving the Friends of Zion award on a recent trip to Jerusalem. “That’s a lifetime goal.” Cawthorn told JI that he wants “to advocate for a boom in prosperity and population within the Jewish community just because I think it's awful — it is one of the saddest facts I know — that the population of Jews on the planet is less now than it was before the Holocaust.” 

Eye on Israel: The candidate positioned himself as fervently pro-Israel, assuring JI that he would push for a “stronger Zionist state” if he takes office. Cawthorn reserved harsh criticism for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which he characterized as “a hate organization” and an “antisemitic indoctrination movement,” adding: “There are antisemites on the Republican side, to be sure, and I think they should be called out as well, but I think it's definitely coming from the left predominantly.” Cawthorn visited Israel in 2018 on a trip he described as illuminating. “It definitely changed my perspective of the whole situation just because I always think of the Palestinians as being very aggressive toward the Israelis,” he said. “But I got to meet a good number of Palestinians while there... it was very clear to me that a lot of the people were just good people, but that their leaders were whipping them up into an aggressive state, which is unfortunate. So when it comes to my beliefs with Palestinians, I could see a two-state solution probably being a great solution to the situation.”

The next AOC: If elected, Cawthorn would be five years younger than the youngest current member of Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). He said he feels an affinity with his ideological opponent, if only because of her ability to bend her party’s platform in the direction of her own beliefs. “I see myself as akin to her in a lot of ways,” Cawthorn said. “I think that most of her policies and ideologies are pretty asinine, but I will tell you that the way she goes about executing them, I think, is incredible. I think it's very effective. I think that's something that Republicans need to learn from, just because she is influencing an entire generation… She's definitely the vanguard for her party right now,” Cawthorn added, “and that's something I want to be for the Republican Party.”

Read the full profile here.

Follow the money

Gottheimer introduces bill condemning Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
A resolution introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) criticizes the Palestinian Authority for payments to terrorists and honors a woman killed in a 1996 suicide bombing who had resided in the congressman’s district, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.

In her memory: Sara Duker, 22, of Teaneck, N.J., was killed in a bus bombing in Jerusalem on February 25, 1996, which also took the lives of 25 other people, including two other Americans. The resolution — cosponsored by Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Max Rose (D-NY) — calls on the international community to condemn Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists and reaffirms the penalties for such activity as laid out in the Taylor Force Act. 

Do not forget: “I think you’ve got to continue to shine a spotlight on the behavior. I think people just don’t realize that this is still going on,” Gottheimer said. “And the fact that this individual, this terrorist who killed Sarah Duker — the family’s still getting money every single month while in jail because of the pay schedule. I don’t think people realize that… I think you need to keep a spotlight on this until the Palestinian Authority comes out and renounces martyr payments to terrorists.”

Drawing parallels: Gottheimer linked the bill to this week’s divestment referendum at Columbia University. Duker graduated from Barnard College the year before her death. “The BDS movement, which many, like me, believe is antisemitic, are trying to praise and trying to make it as if the Palestinian Authority is being attacked,” he said. “But actually the Palestinian Authority is the one that continues, as we see in this case, to reward terrorists with payments.”

Read more here.

Book Launch

In new book, H.R. McMaster describes White House debate on Iran deal

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead 
In a new book looking back at his time in the military and in several presidential administrations, former national security advisor H.R. McMaster expounds on the “fundamental flaws” in the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran — and why he tried to persuade President Donald Trump not to withdraw from the deal. 

In the room: In Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World, released on Tuesday, McMaster called the original JCPOA negotiated by former President Barack Obama “an extreme case of strategic narcissism based on wishful thinking” that led to “self-delusion and, ultimately the deception of the American people.” Yet, when Trump wanted to make good on his campaign promise to leave the deal, McMaster made clear his opposition to withdrawing from the accord. In the book, McMaster explains that he wanted the U.S. to maintain leverage to punish Iran for its behavior and to get the parties in the agreement to fix the deal’s flaws. But as he attempted to work on a comprehensive Iran strategy, McMaster wrote, Trump grew “impatient.” 

Closing window: McMaster details how he intervened in former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to certify the deal in April 2017, and how he successfully lobbied the president to recertify the agreement over the next two 90-day deadlines as required under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. “We had created a window of opportunity for our allies to demonstrate the viability of staying in the deal while imposing costs on Iran,” McMaster writes. “That window closed soon after I departed the White House.” A month after McMaster left the administration, Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the deal. 

Views on Trump peace plan: McMaster also offers his view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Trump peace plan announced in early 2020. Trump’s moves on Israel, he writes, “communicated support for Israel, but also removed incentives that might have been crucial in a future agreement.” While he described the rollout of the peace plan as “dead on arrival” due to lack of participation from Palestinian leaders, McMaster posits that the plan itself may at some point “help resurrect the possibility of a two-state solution.” 

Campaign of lies: McMaster accuses the Russians and the alt-right movement of leading a campaign against him, under the hashtag #FireMcMaster, because they viewed him as a threat to their agenda of undermining America’s national security. McMaster writes that the attacks against him were “often inconsistent” in its nature. “For example, one caricature on social media portrayed me as a puppet of billionaire George Soros and the Rothschild family (both of whom were frequent targets of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories), while articles in the pseudo-media charged me and others on the NSC staff as being ‘anti-Israel’ and soft on Iran,” McMaster recalls.

Read more here

Bonus: French President Emanuel Macron said during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday that the U.S. “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran is not working, which is why France will continue to support the 2015 Iran deal. 
Sponsored Content
Community Comms

Webcast: On Sept. 29, join top ambassadors from the UAE for a conversation with JI readers on peace in the Middle East.

Webcast: Join the American Jewish Committee at 12 p.m. ET today for "One Year Later: The UN’s Historic Report on Antisemitism" with Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

Podcast: Rethinking Black-Jewish Relations podcast episode by the Association for Jewish Studies. Listen now!

Podcast: Decision Points on Yitzhak Rabin, with Itamar Rabinovich, Dennis Ross, and Yuval Rabin.

Join the JI team: Know a talented college journalist? Apply for Jewish Insider’s editorial fellowship. 

Be featured: Email us to inform the JI readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.
👩‍❤️‍👨 Spousal Support: Michelle Ruiz writes in Vogue about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “not-so-secret weapon”: her husband, Marty Ginsburg, who unfailingly supported her career. “Every aspiring Ruth deserves one: a man who doesn’t just support her in theory but in practice; who loves her brain and knows his way around the kitchen.” [Vogue]

😡 Unhappy: The Guardian examines the reaction among Palestinians — and the broader Arab world — to the normalization agreements signed last week between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. “We definitely feel betrayed,” said PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat. On Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki quit as the present chair of Arab League meetings in protest. [TheGuardian; Reuters]

💥 Hitting Reset: In Foreign Policy, Lee Drutman posits that both the Democratic and Republican parties are “heading for collapse” — something he believes is long overdue. “The only way to break the democracy-destroying doom loop is by making it easier for more parties to compete.” [ForeignPolicy]
Around the Web
📜 The List: This year’s TIME 100 list includes astronaut Jessica Meir, healthcare activist Ady Barkan, UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba and ViacomCBS chair Shari Redstone.

💰 Committed: Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban tells CNBC that he and his wife, Cheryl, plan to ramp up their spending on behalf of Democratic candidates in the coming weeks.

🗳️ Ballot Box: Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has raised more than $16 million to fund efforts to allow former felons in Florida to cast votes this November. 

📺 Soft Targets: A Super PAC funded by Ron Lauder is running TV ads against a number of Democratic state legislators in New York, accusing them of being soft on crime. 

💵 Split Vote: Home Depot co-founder and major Republican donor Bernie Marcus reportedly provided support to Green Party candidate Jill Stein in 2016 in order to boost Trump. 

🏷️ Big Buy: Nelson Peltz’s Trian fund has obtained a $900 million stake — about 0.4% — in Comcast. 

💸 Returned Check: Miami-Dade Mayor and GOP House candidate Carlos Gimenez will return $5,600 in campaign contributions from Demetrio Perez Jr., publisher of the Spanish-language LIBRE, which printed racist and antisemitic content. 

⚖️ Free Man: Charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft are expected to be dropped after prosecutors said they won’t appeal a decision to block video from a Florida massage parlor.

🌊 Sea Treaty: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Italy and Greece officially established the East Mediterranean Gas Forum to cooperate on natural gas exports — excluding regional rival Turkey.

🛣️ Startup Nation: Tel Aviv has unveiled a pilot project of wireless electric roads that can power vehicles while they are in motion. 

😷 COVID Concerns: The findings of an Israeli Health Ministry antibodies study of 51,000 people indicate that less than 4% of the population has been infected — about three times more than confirmed cases.  

✈️ Rain Check: El Al is offering coupons worth 125% of the cost of canceled flights to passengers, in an effort to delay providing refunds to thousands of customers. 

🛫 Flight Delay: A passenger successfully lodged a personal appeal with United Airlines chairman Oscar Munoz to change the time of a flight departing just after Yom Kippur. 

🌾 Honoring RBG: Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet (Judge’s Heights) in Israel temporarily tweaked its name to the female noun, Ramat Hashofetet, to pay tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

🏖️ Line in the Sand: The New York Times spotlights a unique Rosh Hashanah prayer service held on the beach in the Hamptons due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

😠 Hate Lives: A new report documents more than 400 instances of antisemitic behavior in Berlin during just the first six months of 2020.  

📝 In Depth: The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a report about the “baseless blood libel” behind the QAnon conspiracy theory.  

🖥️ Never Again: A team of scientists is utilizing artificial intelligence to identify online antisemitism in a new foundation-backed project named “Decoding Antisemitism.” 

🕯️ Remembering: Edith Raymond Locke, who fled the Nazis as a teenager and became editor of Mademoiselle magazine, died at age 99. 
JI reader
Mitchell (Moyshe) Allen Silk, assistant secretary of the Treasury for international markets, convened an afternoon minyan on Tuesday at the Treasury Department — organized by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) — to recite the kaddish prayer on the anniversary of his father's death. 
Author of Moonwalking with Einstein, an international bestseller published in 34 languages, co-founder of the non-profit Sefaria and of the design competition Sukkah City, Joshua Foer turns 38...

Vice chairman of the Board of Chanel, Arie L. Kopelman turns 82… Holocaust educator, Sarasota Jewish Federation professional and longtime leader in the Sarasota and Louisville Jewish communities, Richard Bergman turns 81… CEO of the American Jewish Committee since 1990, David Harris turns 71... President at Trendlines America, Mark J. Dollinger, Ph.D. turns 70... Co-chairman and COO of Chesapeake Realty Partners, Josh E. Fidler turns 65... Senior analyst at AIPAC, Colin M. Winston, Ph.D. turns 65... Partner at Steptoe & Johnson, Darryl Nirenberg turns 61... Business manager for the Los Angeles Cardiovascular Medical Group, she is also the immediate past president of Sinai Temple, Angela Maddahi turns 60... Vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, a Birmingham, Alabama resident, Sheryl W. Kimerling turns 59... Co-owner of Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs, he's also the RNC's finance chairman, Todd M. Ricketts turns 51...

Former U.S. ambassador to the EU following a Supreme Court clerkship and a White House career, now EVP for policy at the Business Roundtable, Ambassador Kristen Silverberg turns 50... President of Santa Monica-based PR firm Tower26, Naomi Seligman turns 48... Managing director of the Foundation at Alpha Epsilon Pi, Jay Feldman turns 39...  Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington bureau reporter for The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt turns 37... Head of news curation at Facebook, Gabriella Schwarz turns 32... Sales and account director at Idomoo Personalized Video, Abby Glassberg turns 30... Saber-fencing champion, he represented the U.S. at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2017 Maccabiah Games, Eli Dershwitz turns 25... Record-setting powerlifter, Naomi Chaya Kutin turns 19... Acting director at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Jonathan Peled...
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