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Jewish Insider | Daily Kickoff
September 8th, 2020
👋 Good Tuesday morning!

Over the weekend, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dean Kremer made history (and headlines) as the first Israeli pitcher in Major League Baseball. Kremer, who was born in California to Israeli parents, struck out seven batters over six innings and only allowed one hit, one run in a 5-1 win over the New York Yankees. 

Fun fact: Kremer, who has competed several times with Team Israel, is a great-nephew of Haim Saban. 

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that Serbia and Kosovo will normalize economic ties and upgrade relations with Israel. Trump announced that Kosovo and Serbia will move their embassies to Jerusalem next year. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić appeared puzzled by that announcement while seated alongside Trump in the Oval Office. 

On Monday, The European Union warned Serbia and Kosovo that relocating their embassies to Jerusalem could undermine their EU membership.

Today, an Israeli delegation headed by Bank Hapoalim CEO Dov Kotler will visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai to meet with government officials and the heads of the UAE’s largest banks. 

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer will launch his 2021 mayoral campaign in Washington Heights later this morning.  

Twenty-six Republican House members signed onto Rep. Jeff Duncan’s (R-SC) letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the Trump administration to pressure Ukraine to allow Jews to visit Uman for Rosh Hashanah. Nick Muzin, an Orthodox Jewish lobbyist with extensive South Carolina ties, was among those pushing the letter on Capitol Hill. 

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palmetto pols

Blue Dog Joe Cunningham is trying to keep his seat in a conservative district

Meg Kinnard/AP
Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) has established himself as an amiable presence in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, a long stretch of coastline which includes Charleston. The freshman Democrat, who bested his Republican opponent by just 1.4 points last cycle, is known for his campaign brewery tours, self-deprecating ads and disarming Southern drawl. “He’s able to laugh at himself,” Rabbi Yossi Refson of Chabad of Charleston — who has gotten to know Cunningham during the congressman’s occasional Friday visits to pick up challah —  told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.

No laughing matter: Cunningham’s cool demeanor, however, may belie a more pressing issue for the 38-year-old lawyer-turned-politician, who represents a historically conservative district in the ruby-red Palmetto State. His path to victory in 2018 was somewhat fortuitous, but as he prepares for November, Cunningham is going up against a Republican opponent who, experts believe, represents a genuine threat to Cunningham’s hopes for a second term: Nancy Mace, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and the first woman to graduate from the Citadel, the state’s prestigious military college.

Foreign policy: Both candidates stress their heterodox approaches, but their views mostly fall neatly along party lines on matters of foreign policy. Cunningham supports rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. “That deal was by no means perfect,” Cunningham told JI. “It failed to address Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region, their funding of terrorism and all their human rights abuses. But it was successful in restricting Iran’s development of a nuclear program,” Cunningham said. “If we re-enter the deal, it should be done with strict controls in place to ensure that Iran does not skirt the nonproliferation provisions.”

U.A.E.-Israel: While Cunningham was critical of some aspects of the president’s foreign policy, he praised the Trump administration’s role in establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. “The agreement by the United Arab Emirates and Israel to establish diplomatic ties, I think, is incredibly historic and is an important step toward a more peaceful, stable Middle East,” Cunningham said. “I applaud the president and his administration for the role that they played in achieving it. This deal is also going to stop further Israeli annexation in the West Bank, which has been a key sticking point between the Israelis and Palestinians and pushed the chances of a two-state solution further out of reach.” 

Independent thinker: Cunningham casts himself as an independent thinker who is willing to buck Democratic orthodoxy. A member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, Cunningham touts his moderate bona fides in making the case for why voters should elect him to a second term. “What I'm most proud of is our record of bipartisanship,” Cunningham told JI. “I think that's something that not only this country craves, but this district craves, especially in such divided times with a divided government.”

Read the full feature here.

Primary Day

Democratic candidates for governor hope to end the Sununu dynasty in NH

Dan Feltes and Andru Volinsky

Two Democrats, State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and trial attorney Andru Volinsky, are competing today in the New Hampshire gubernatorial primary to challenge Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in November. Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh spoke to both candidates as they approached the finish line

Tight race: One recent poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, shows Volinsky, a relatively rookie politician, neck and neck with Feltes, who assumed office in 2014. Volinsky hopes that recent progressive victories in the New England region will extend to the Granite State. “We seem to have a good deal of momentum,” Volinsky said. But Feltes told JI he has been underestimated in the past. “The pollsters and the pundits wrote me off when I ran in 2014. They wrote me off and they said that I won't get anything done in the State Senate. They were wrong about that,” he explained. “I think the pollsters and the pundits are going to be wrong about this one too.” 

No labels: “I have viewed this entire race being about policy and progress and not about me,” Volinsky told JI. “I do subscribe to really important progressive policies and this race, on our side, has been really talking about those policies that can make a difference in people's lives. I think it's fair to say, if we win, this will be another point proving that the people are progressive, despite the fact that party leadership favors insiders.” Feltes shot back at his primary rival for labeling him as establishment. “We've delivered progressive results, not just shouted from the sidelines,” Feltes said, citing several measures he pushed through during his tenure in the state legislature. “I don't go by labels. I go by results.”

Eye on November: Challenging the Sununu family “is the job of whoever is the winner of the primary... and it's a big undertaking. But if you are going to go up against the Sununu family dynasty, you better be ready for the fight, and the word on the street is that I am that guy,” Volinsky told JI. Feltes drew a stark contrast between himself and Sununu, whose popularity comes in part from being a household name in the state. “My dad wasn't governor. My brother wasn't a U.S. senator. I was never gifted a ski resort like this current governor, and I certainly don't — like this current governor — call myself a ‘Trump guy through and through,’” Feltes said in an interview, noting that Sununu had vetoed 79 pieces of legislation, 65 of which had bipartisan support.

Read the full story here

book shelf

Former Trump NSC official Michael Anton speaks out on foreign policy 

Michael Anton, a former senior National Security Council official in the Trump administration, is “amazed” by what the administration has achieved in the president’s first term — but warns in a new book that the U.S. could careen into disaster if Donald Trump loses his reelection bid. Anton spoke to Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod about the theory laid out in his new book and the Trump administration’s approach to Middle East peacemaking.

Fighting back: In the book, The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return, which hit bookshelves last week, Anton argues that America remains on the brink, and the reelection of Trump is the only way to preserve the American way of life. According to Anton, Trump’s foreign policy doctrine seeks to fight back against the current structure by rolling back decades of steadily expanding American foreign policy, which dictated that America needed to maintain a presence in every corner of the world.

Shared interests: Anton explained that the Trump administration’s approach to the U.S.-Israel relationship fits within such a mold in part because of Israel’s critical position in the U.S.’s security strategy. “But so many foreign relationships can’t be reduced to dollars and cents,” he added. “America has allies out of shared conviction and shared interests… you don’t necessarily ask the question, ‘Hey, what am I getting out of this today?’ It’s not a calculation at every step of the way in foreign policy.”

Below the radar: Anton characterized the recent normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as one of a litany of major Trump administration foreign policy accomplishments. “We knew going in that a big part of Middle East diplomacy would have to be as much normalization as possible between Israel and other states,” Anton said. “We knew also that some of that normalization would take place below the radar. It wouldn’t be formal or it would take a while for it to become formal. But we certainly were seeking to achieve as much formal normalization as possible.”

Moving forward: Anton also boasted that the Trump administration had helped improve the Israeli-Saudi relationship. “The fact that relations get better and a lot of quiet and not particularly visible cooperation takes place is also an accomplishment, even if you don’t see it and even if there’s no moment where people sit down and shake hands and sign something,” he said, adding that the Trump administration sees improving relationships between Israel and Arab states as a critical step in facilitating an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He laid blame on the Palestinians for the lack of progress in negotiations. “I don’t think that they’re helping themselves by staying away and not talking. I don’t see what that gains them.” 

Read more here.

How They Built That

Two Jewish entrepreneurs revolutionizing home organizing

In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Amanda FitzSimons profiled Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, co-owners of the Nashville-based home organization company The Home Edit. FitzSimons explores how the pair grew their aspirational company entirely on social media and are now the stars of an upcoming Netflix show.

Shearer and Teplin first met after moving to Nashville as young mothers in 2015, having previously lived on the West Coast. 

They are also both Jewish, which made them something of a novelty in their new hometown. (“There were, like, 11 of us,” they joke.) It wasn’t long before they found themselves in each other’s orbit. Each had relocated for her husband’s job and was looking for her next act. Shearer had a background in social media, having worked for brands like Nickelodeon and Myspace; Teplin had owned a few businesses, including a greeting-card company. “It’s funny, we never asked the question ‘Would you mind going into business together?’” Shearer said. “We never did; we just started talking.”

In the ever-growing world of social media-driven fashion and design trends, Teplin and Shearer found a foothold by popularizing an artfully designed home organizing aesthetic: 

Even if you’re not one of the Home Edit’s 1.6 million Instagram followers, you’ve almost certainly seen the aesthetic that it has, if not invented, at the very least codified; a look that can best be summed up as Pinterest organization porn: rows of pristine white shelves filled to no more than 75 percent capacity, pantries with paper towels artfully arranged in the shape of a pyramid and, its hallmark, items organized in order of Roygbiv (an acronym for the order of the colors as they appear in a rainbow — red-orange-yellow, etc.)... This aesthetic has earned the Home Edit a roster of A-list celebrity fans like the Kardashians (Kim, Kourtney, Khloé and their mother, Kris Jenner), Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow — all of whom are not only clients but Home Edit evangelists.

The success of Home Edit as both a company and Instagram presence has been largely fueled by its celebrity and influencer following: 

Rare is the celebrity whose endorsement can be enough to hang an entire career on; there are probably only a handful. One is Paltrow. Another is any Kardashian family member. The Home Edit might be one of the few brands that has managed to secure the endorsement of both. “In the Jewish religion, it’s called ‘Dayenu,’” Teplin said, referring to the Hebrew refrain, traditionally invoked during Passover Seder, that roughly translates to “it would have been enough.”

Read the full article here.
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👩‍💼 In the Spotlight: The New York Times’s Natalie Kitroeff profiles Claudia Sheinbaum, the first-ever Jewish mayor of Mexico City, who is rumored to be a future candidate for president but has to walk a fine line amid the country’s political debate over the pandemic. [NYTimes]

🕵️ Deep Dive: Vanity Fair’s William D. Cohan spotlights billionaire Leon Black’s 1996 trip to Moscow with Donald Trump, which Black testified about before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018, according to a recently released report. [VanityFair]

🏷️ Price Tag: In The New York Times’s DealBook, Sapna Maheshwari and Vanessa Friedman explore how Jamie Salter and David Simon are together “reshaping the American retail landscape” by buying up dozens of struggling famous brands and labels. [NYTimes]
Around the Web
🇮🇱🇦🇪 Driving the Convo: The New York Times reported last week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu privately supported the U.S. sale of F-35 jets to the UAE before vocally opposing it — something Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan denied. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) criticized the Trump administration for pushing the F-35 sale, stating that normalization with Israel “cannot be a quid pro quo for access to advanced weapons.”

🤝 Trip Planner: The UAE is planning to send its first official delegation to Israel on September 22, and Axios reports that the signing ceremony of the peace accord could possibly take place next week in Washington. 

🇲🇼 Building Ties: Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera announced over the weekend that the East African nation plans to open its first diplomatic mission in Israel in Jerusalem.

😷 On the Rise: Israel has instituted new overnight lockdowns in 40 cities as the rate of new COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket. Stricter measures on hotspot cities including Bnei Brak were called off after anger from haredi parties in the government coalition. 

🪑 Silent Protest: A protest art installation of 1,000 chairs was set up over the weekend in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, marking Israel passing 1,000 coronavirus-linked deaths. 

🏡 New Landlord: U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reportedly plans to rent the former U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Herzliya from new owner Sheldon Adelson.

📨 On the Hill: Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) sent a letter to the State Department’s inspector general requesting a probe into Mike Pompeo’s RNC speech from Jerusalem. 

✈️ Count Down: The struggling El Al airline has until Sept. 15 to sell $150 million in shares in order to qualify for a government rescue package, as it weighs other ownership offers. 

🏀 Hand in Hand: The Milwaukee Bucks, co-owned by Marc Lasry, are teaming up with other NBA and WNBA teams for their third annual “Team Up for Change” summit on racial injustice.

☢️ Two Sides: In National Interest, Andrea Stricker and Behnam Ben Taleblu warn that Saudi Arabia’s push to build nuclear enrichment facilities with Chinese assistance could complicate U.S. efforts to pressure Iran to limit its nuclear program. 

🍎 Masked Shofar: The New York Times highlighted the ways many Jews will be celebrating the High Holy Days amid the pandemic, but was criticized for excluding Orthodox voices.

🧪 Second Wave: New York City reported “heightened rates” of COVID-19 positive cases in several neighborhoods with large Jewish populations.

🏖️ Mark Down: L.A. billionaire Eli Broad lowered the price of his Malibu beach house for the second time, to $62 million, after placing it on the market for $75 million earlier this year. 

⛏️ Unearthed: Israel archeologists have uncovered parts of elaborate columns dating back to the First Temple during an excavation at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem. 

🌱 Sweet Memories: Israel’s Kibbutz Ketura has succeeded in its 15-year effort to germinate ancient seeds and grow long-lost Judean dates. 

🕍 Holding On: AFP details the efforts of some Jewish leaders to revive the diminishing heritage of the Jewish community in Iraq, decades after most Jews fled the country. 

🧔 Income Cut: A McDonald’s franchisee in Florida has to pay $69,000 to an observant Jewish man who sued after being told he must cut his beard in order to be employed there.

🥪 Big Bite: The New Yorker’s Hannah Goldfield reviews the Jewish-style BBQ takeout joint Pulkies, which is now offering family-style meals for Rosh Hashanah. 

📓 Never Forget: The New York Times tells the little-known story of Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz, a non-Jewish man imprisoned at Dachau for being a pacifist, who kept a secret diary of his experience.

🕯️Remembering: Dr. Seymour Schwartz, a founding editor of Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery, died at age 92. Gerald Shur, a former Justice Department lawyer and the architect of the witness protection program, died at age 86. David Graebe, a professor and self-proclaimed anarchist who coined the “99 Percent” slogan of the Occupy Wall Street movement, died at age 59.
Israeli vocalist Shlomi Shabat and Eden Alene, Israel’s representative for the 2021 Eurovision contest, released a single, “What Are You Going Through There at Night?” dedicated to Avera ​​Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli who has been held captive by Hamas for six years.
Roland Channel/YouTube
Drummer for heavy metal band Slipknot, he is the son of drummer Max Weinberg, Jay Weinberg turns 30... 

Chair emeritus of L Brands, Les Wexner turns 83... United States Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders turns 79... Labour Party member of the UK House of Commons, Dame Margaret Eve Hodge (née Oppenheimer) turns 76... Pharma executive Samuel D. Waksal turns 73... Chairman of Douglas Elliman and its parent company, NYSE listed Vector Group, he is also chairman of Nathan's Famous, Howard Mark Lorber turns 72... Owner of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie turns 69... Former co-chair of the Jewish National Fund, he was previously a member of Knesset, Eli Aflalo turns 68... CEO of Weight Watchers, Mindy Grossman turns 63... Professor of neuroscience at Columbia University, Daniel Mark Wolpert turns 57... Founder and president of Cedille Records, a classical music label, he is the son of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, James Steven Ginsburg turns 55... Reported to be the most successful real estate developer in Russia, Zarakh Iliev turns 54... Australian businessman, James Douglas Packer turns 53...

Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, Penn., Rabbi Andrea Merow turns 51... Aspen, Colo., resident, Adam Goldsmith turns 51... Actress and television personality, Brooke Burke turns 49... Founder and executive education consultant Atlanta-based JewishGPS, LLC, Robyn Faintich turns 47... Principal and co-founder of BerlinRosen, Jonathan Rosen turns 42... One of the world's best-selling music artists, Alecia Beth Moore, known professionally as Pink, turns 41... Head coach for the University of Hawaii men's basketball team, Eran Ganot... and his twin brother, the creative director of an eponymous clothing line, Asaf Ganot, both turn 39... Founder and CEO at SPARK Neuro, Spencer Gerrol turns 38... Spokesman for New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Andrei Berman turns 35… Washington correspondent for NewsGuard Technologies and a contributing writer at Jewish Insider, Gabby Deutch... and her twin sister, who is the director of admissions at the Jewish Community Day School of New Orleans, Serena Deutch, turn 24... Director of the Israel Fellows Worldwide program for the Jewish Agency, Gilad Peled... Jay Abarbanel... Philip Ehrensaft...
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