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Jewish Insider | Daily Kickoff
September 10th, 2020
👋 Good Thursday morning!

Senators and House members are reportedly investigating whether the sale of the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Herzliya to Sheldon Adelson “complied with regulations.”  

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, will meet with Jewish legislators and local rabbis in Aventura, Florida, today while Harris holds an event nearby at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

Last night, during a fundraiser with Lawyers for Biden, Emhoff called the Democratic presidential nominee a “menschy dude.”

President Donald Trump unveiled yesterday a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, which includes Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Josh Hawley (R-MO). 

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) released a viral 15-second campaign ad yesterday in which the freshman legislator from Staten Island states: “Bill de Blasio is the worst mayor in the history of New York City… That’s it guys. Seriously, that’s the whole ad.” 

Former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman endorsed GOP Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) in an ad from the Republican Jewish Coalition.

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succeeding the king

Does Army veteran Jackie Gordon have what it takes?

The odds were not in Jackie Gordon’s favor when she announced her plan to challenge Rep. Peter King (R-NY) in New York’s 2nd district. While the Democrat has a strong resumé — Army veteran, guidance counselor, public servant — King is an institution in the historically conservative enclave of Long Island. But her chances improved when King said he would retire at the end of his term. Now the race between Gordon and Republican New York Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino is considered a toss-up, reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.

Optimistic outlook: Gordon, 55, contends that the district is ready for a reset. “I think the tides are changing toward folks wanting their representatives to look more like them,” said Gordon, who was born in Jamaica and raised in Queens. “People want representatives who live like them, because then they will understand the challenges that they face.” The Cook Political Report has rated the election a “toss-up,” while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has put Gordon on its “red to blue” list.

Background: The candidate joined the Army in her early 20s after seeing a commercial, working her way up to the rank of lieutenant colonel after 29 years of service, during which she was deployed to Germany, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq. Her last assignment, in 2012, was to Afghanistan, and she retired in 2014. Throughout her Army service, Gordon also worked in New York’s public school system, retiring from her role as a guidance counselor at Wilson Tech on Long Island in January — along with her position as a town council member in Babylon — so she could focus on her campaign.

Foreign policy views: Gordon’s involvement in some of the most consequential American military ventures of the past three decades has influenced her approach to foreign policy. “The U.S. has a role, a really important role, to play in Middle Eastern foreign policy in that we are a facilitator there,” she said. “We need to broker peace… If we're not at the table, all kinds of conflicts could arise. It’s important that the U.S. stays plugged in to Middle Eastern foreign policy.” 

DMFI nod: Todd Richman, co-chair of Democratic Majority for Israel — whose sister organization, DMFI PAC, recently endorsed Gordon — said the candidate’s experience in the Middle East gives her unique insight into issues of concern to pro-Israel Democrats. “As a combat veteran who has served in the Middle East, she has a key understanding of the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and its importance not just for Israelis’ security but for our security as well,” he said. “She’s the type of Democrat that this country will look to to lead the party in the future.”

Read the full feature here.

Open Invite

Kushner says Democrats will be invited to UAE-Israel White House ceremony

susan walsh/ap
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh yesterday that the White House will invite members of the Democratic Party to attend the signing ceremony of the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace accord next week. “This is something that should be bipartisan. We will invite Democrats [and] Republicans to be here,” Kushner told JI during a press call previewing the event, which will take place Tuesday and include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an Emirati delegation headed by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed.

Enjoy the buffet: “This has been praised by people on both sides of the aisle, and, hopefully, this is one issue that can stay out of politics,” Kushner said. “Making peace is a very important thing. This makes America safer, it makes our alliances stronger, it makes the world a better place [and] it makes our American troops less at risk. And so this is a great thing, and we hope that Republicans, Democrats will come together to join us in this great celebration.” 

Hands off: Kushner declined to say whether the administration had invited other Israeli politicians, including Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, to join Netanyahu, as they did for the rollout of the Trump peace plan. “Both countries will be able to choose their delegation,” Kushner said. “That will be up to them from their respective ministries.” 

No worries: Kushner also addressed the ongoing talks with the UAE over the sale of F-35 jets, despite Israeli objections. “President Trump has shown that he understands Israel's security, probably more than any American president in decades. He's been a great friend of Israel. He's made the region safer. He's brought America and Israel closer than they've ever been before,” Kushner said. “And we're going to, obviously, work with the QME [Qualitative Military Edge], and we will do what we can do to make sure that we accommodate that circumstance… We'll see what happens as we go through consultations with the Israelis and Congress and with other partners.” 

Read more here

Bonus: In Foreign Policy, James Traub posits that under a Biden administration, the prominence of the Middle East in foreign policy would be “demoted” to “a distant fourth” in priorities, following Europe, the Indo-Pacific and Latin America.

Chair Campaign

Sherman slams rivals on their Israel record in race for Foreign Affairs chairmanship

Reps. Gregory Meeks, Brad Sherman and Joaquín Castro
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), one of several legislators vying to succeed Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) as chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, questioned the other candidates’ commitments to a strong and bipartisan U.S.-Israel alliance in a Zoom call hosted yesterday by Democratic Majority for Israel.

These three things: Seeking to distance himself from rivals Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Joaquín Castro (D-TX), the California Democrat highlighted his refusal to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2015 speech to Congress, his opposition to the Obama administration’s abstention on the U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements (UNSC 2334) and his commitment to unconditioned military aid to Israel. DMFI has invited all contenders to participate in the dialogue and is in the process of scheduling calls with Meeks and Castro, a DMFI official said.

A political statement: Meeks and Castro were among 58 members of Congress who did not attend Netanyahu’s March 2015 address to a joint session of Congress vocally opposing the Iran nuclear deal. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is not my favorite Israeli, and I’ve never met an Israeli who doesn’t criticize him for one position or the other, but I attended the speech because Prime Minister Netanyahu embodies the Jewish state,” Sherman said. “My two opponents in this race boycotted the prime minister’s speech, made a big deal out of [it at] the time, and are trying to get votes in the contest… by saying, ‘Look how great I am. I boycotted the speech.’” 

Seeking the Engel treatment: Sherman implored the pro-Israel group to get involved in the caucus vote that will decide the next chair following the November election — despite DMFI’s failed high-dollar investment to defend Engel in his June 23 primary. He named several groups, including IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace and American Muslims for Palestine, who are supporting Castro, an effort he described as a “block Sherman movement.” “You went to bat for Eliot Engel in a huge way, and demonstrated that you understood how important that chairmanship is,” Sherman told the group on the Zoom call. “Eliot Engel was Plan A. I strongly supported him. But now I’m going to try to ask you to go with Plan B.” 

Read more here.

Bonus: Democratic congressional candidates Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) and Cori Bush (MO-01) are doubling down on their goal to fight for a leftward shift on policy, including within the Congressional Black Caucus. 

Class in session 

Speaking at Israeli conference, Larry Summers weighs in on COVID’s impact

World Economic Forum
Former Harvard University President and Treasury Secretary Larry Summers appeared yesterday on a Start-Up Nation Central panel with Dan Senor, the co-author of Start-Up Nation, to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on the global economy and the evolution of technology and how it’s being utilized amid the pandemic. 

Flashpoints in history: In May, Summers authored an op-ed in the Financial Times calling the pandemic the “third major shock to the global system” this century, after the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2008 financial crisis. “I think in the case of 9/11, somehow the problem was brought under control more effectively than people imagined,” Summers said, explaining that COVID will have a more lasting impact than the other two events. “If it had been the case that there were going to be multiple terrorist attacks on major capital cities around the world of large scale going forward, I think the world would have changed much more than it did.” 

Shift from individualism: Summers noted that in addition to the significant number of fatalities and individuals facing recurring health issues stemming from the virus, the pandemic will have severe long-term implications on the global economy. “I think the larger significance of COVID is that it is going to reinforce what were already profound structural changes in the global economy,” he said. “It’s going to reinforce what I think is a move away from the Reagan-Thatcher individualism ethos that has dominated politics for the last 40 years.” Summers added that “the threat of populism and democratic dysfunctionality is something that is very strong right now and being magnified by COVID.” 

Future of college: “I’d be pretty surprised if next fall, college campuses aren’t at least 80% back to what they were,” Summers declared. “There may be some important reorganization in which the best lecturers produce lectures that thousands of students watch and other faculty are engaged more directly in dialogue with students,” Summers added, predicting that colleges will shift their focus to increasing scale. “Universities have a tendency to define their specialness by the number of people they exclude, how hard it is to get in, rather than their scale and the number of people they include. I think the financial pressures to come, and the great efficacies of IT, will help to solve that problem.”  

Moonlighting: Summers recalled his time playing on Team USA’s ping-pong team in the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel. “I participated in an elite competition, I didn't necessarily have elite results. It wasn’t quite the equivalent of Eddie the Eagle’s ski-jumping,” Summers said. “But I would not say I distinguished myself, and I think I’m fortunate that my day job is in economics rather than in table tennis.”

Watch the full conversation here
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Podcast Playback: Tevi Troy, best-selling presidential historian, joined Mark Gerson's podcast to discuss Deuteronomy 4:4 [Link]

Conference: The Israel Hedge Funds Association hosts its 8th annual conference on September 15th. JI readers can register for free with code: IHFA20351.

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💻 Terror at Home: In The Washington Post, Seamus Hughes and Jon Lewis explain why the FBI had to pose online as members of Hamas in order to arrest supporters of the extremist far-right “boogaloo movement,” as it works to capture home-grown extremists “in the absence of a domestic terrorism statute.” [WashPost]

🇪🇬 Cold Peace: Timothy Kaldas explores in Bloomberg why Egypt did not benefit from its peace deal with Israel in the way the UAE is poised to do so. “The treaty allowed both countries to secure increased financial support from the U.S. while ending any serious risk of another war, but it never fully dissolved the distrust between them.” [Bloomberg]

🤝🏽 Talk of the Nation: National Urban League President Marc H. Morial and American Jewish Committee President Harriet P. Schleifer penned an op-ed in USA Today calling for Black and Jewish leaders to fight racism and antisemitism together, and “support each other in the delicate task of confronting prejudice within each of our own communities.” [USAToday]

📖 On the Record: In Rage, Bob Woodward’s upcoming book about Trump, the author reports that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson found Jared Kushner’s interactions with Netanyahu “nauseating to watch. It was stomach churning,” and that, amid the pandemic, Kushner was pushing to get Trump “from governing to campaigning.” [WashPost]
Around the Web
👎 No Consensus: The Arab League rejected a resolution criticizing the U.S.-brokered Israel-UAE accord, dealing a significant blow to the Palestinians.

🕊️ Friendly Reminder: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister reiterated yesterday his country’s commitment to a comprehensive peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Two Outs, Bottom of the 9th: Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez are giving it their last shot to buy the Mets by matching Steve Cohen’s $2.35 billion bid.

Hold Up: Activist investor Elliott Management is seeking to stop Chevron from taking over Noble Energy’s gas drilling platforms in Israel with its own bid, claiming the deal undervalued Noble. 

🛣️ Recalculating: Waze announced it will lay off 5% of its global workforce due to a drop in users commuting to work amid the pandemic.

💸 Cash Strapped: Ahmed Zayat, the owner of Triple Crown-winning horse American Pharaoh, has filed for personal bankruptcy, citing debts of $19 million. 

🛍️ Closing Sale: Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital has lost control of seven U.S. malls after defaulting on Israel-issued bonds. 

Startup Nation: Soccer superstar Lionel Messi is the new face of OrCam, the Israeli startup that creates wearable hi-tech devices for the visually impaired.  

💱 In the Works: Bank Hapoalim CEO Dov Kotler, who just visited the UAE, said he expects to ink deals with UAE banks shortly after the official peace accord is signed next week.

✈️ Rushing Ahead: Israir is expected to launch direct flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai next month, though it is still waiting on official approval.

🎓 Campus Beat: Jewish students and college professionals say antisemitism on campuses is rising significantly, and groups are on high alert ahead of the High Holy Days.

🧑‍⚖️ On Trial: Johnny Roman Garza, a member of a U.S.-based neo-Nazi group, pleaded guilty to multiple charges related to threatening Jewish and Black journalists.

👨‍💻 Dark Web: Ahead of the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) announced new legislation aiming to stymie the online activities of terrorist groups. 

⛓️ Facing Justice: Norway arrested a man suspected of taking part in a fatal terror attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris in 1982. 

🎶 Il Divo: Yuval Sharon has been named the next artistic director of the Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit.

📺 Reality TV: The cast of the upcoming “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” includes both Jewish cast member Meredith Marks and Jewish-turned-Mormon Lisa Barlow. 

🎬 Hollywood: Anthony Hopkins was cast in a new film as Nicholas George Winton, a British man who rescued 669 children from the Nazis.  

🎥 Strange Bedfellows: Haim Saban’s Saban Films has picked up the rights to the Christmas film “Fatman” starring Mel Gibson. 

👶 Mazel Tov: Betsy Woodruff Swan, national correspondent at Politico, and her husband, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, welcomed a baby girl named Esther Jane.
Lorena Khateeb/Twitter
"Fauda" star Lior Raz snaps a selfie with Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, on a visit to the United Arab Emirates this week.
Chairman of Shamrock Holdings, Stanley Gold turns 78…

Oil investor and education philanthropist, Robert M. Beren turns 96... Huntington Beach, Calif., resident, Dianne Varon turns 80… EVP and general counsel at Chicago's futures broker Rosenthal Collins Group, Gerald Fishman turns 78… Immediate past president of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, Howard Penner turns 77… Recently retired coordinator of the Youth Advisory Council at Independence, Missouri's Truman Heartland Community Foundation, Henri Goettel turns 74… Houston attorney and publisher of the Texas Conservative Review, he has served on the boards of AIPAC and JFNA, Gary M. Polland turns 70… Denver attorney and former member of the Colorado House of Representatives, Joel Judd turns 68... Nancy Carol Finkel turns 67...

VP at Goldman Sachs, Matthew Fried turns 65... Real estate attorney in South Florida, Steven A. Greenspan turns 63... Editor of Mideast Dig, Richard Behar turns 60... NYC attorney, Lawrence Garbuz turns 51... Founder and CEO of NYC-based hedge fund JS Capital Management LLC, Jonathan Soros turns 50... Television writer and producer whose work includes "The Big Bang Theory," Eric Kaplan turns 49... Director of the mid-Atlantic region of Agudath Israel, Ariel Sadwin turns 45... PR strategist, crisis manager and media analyst, Josh Nass turns 29... Senior director of partnerships at The Atlantic, Jocelyn Miller Zeitzoff...
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