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Jewish Insider | Daily Kickoff
September 9th, 2020
👋 Good Wednesday morning!

Next Tuesday, President Donald Trump will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an Emirati delegation headed by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed for a signing ceremony of the Israel-UAE nominalization deal at the White House.

In Cairo today, the Arab League is debating the UAE-Israel deal at the foreign ministerial level. A draft resolution submitted by the Palestinian Authority states that the accord “doesn’t diminish Arab consensus over the Palestinian cause,” but the resolution doesn’t outrightly condemn the U.S.-brokered deal or a call for boycott. 

This morning, Serbia indicated that it would not move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes Kosovo, despite a festive signing ceremony in the White House last week with both countries pledging to normalize ties with Israel.

Netanyahu met yesterday with a delegation from Chad led by the president’s son, Abdelkarim Deby, and discussed normalizing diplomatic ties between the nations.

Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action committee is set to release a slate of general election congressional endorsements today. Among the 84 endorsees are seven Senate challengers running in swing states. Read more here

The Republican Jewish Coalition is spending $1 million on television ads in support of two Jewish House candidates — Lisa Scheller, running against Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) in Pennsylvania’s 7th district, and David Richter, challenging Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) in New Jersey’s 3rd district.

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head to head

Rep. Elissa Slotkin fights to keep seat in Republican stronghold

michigan photography
When Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) was elected to Congress in 2018, she was a little-known political neophyte who unseated a career politician and flipped her district after two decades of Republican control. Two years later, Slotkin has made a name for herself in Washington, but is facing a tight reelection race in Michigan’s 8th district, where she is considered one of the most vulnerable members of the House in November. Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod spoke to Slotkin and her Republican opponent, Paul Junge, about the contentious race

Backgrounds: Slotkin made a career in intelligence in the Central Intelligence Agency and at the Pentagon before leaving government work in 2017. Junge, meanwhile, pursued a series of different occupations. After law school, he spent time working in his family business providing maintenance services to military housing, was an assistant district attorney, held a job as a local TV anchor, worked as an investigative counsel for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and, most recently, served for seven months in the External Affairs Directorate at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

On the record: Junge posited that Slotkin’s voting record during her first term will ultimately be her downfall. “As a first-time candidate, candidate Slotkin was able to present herself in a certain way and when she didn’t have a voting record to push back on it, that appearance of independent-mindedness was appealing,” Junge told JI, pointing out that Slotkin had said in 2018 she opposed impeaching Trump, but later voted in favor, sparking backlash. Slotkin emphasized that the large majority of House votes are bipartisan, and that she has voted against her party 55 times during her term. “I hope that my record speaks for itself.”

Touchy ads: Slotkin, who is Jewish, denounced Junge for campaign advertisements linking her to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, telling JI that the ads “really raised some eyebrows for me.” The images depict Slotkin alongside Bloomberg and label her as “bought” by the billionaire. In response, Junge’s campaign hit back at Slotkin. “Hate groups and antisemitism have no place in our society but unfortunately Elissa Slotkin continues to support antisemite [Rep.] Ilhan Omar and refuses to call for her removal from the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee,” a campaign spokesperson said. “The congresswoman is clearly trying to deflect from her anti-Israel record, the fact that she received $2.4 million from Bloomberg in 2018, and is poised to receive more this election.”

Pursuing peace: Slotkin said the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan “just doesn’t seem like it’s going to go very far because it hasn’t included the Palestinians at the table,” adding that “making unilateral moves is not something that promotes peace.” Junge expressed support for a two-state solution, as well as the Palestinian state borders mapped out in the Trump administration’s peace proposal. “I think the chances for peace are best when the Israelis have confidence that the U.S. government is going to support them so that they don’t feel as greatly threatened as they might otherwise,” he said.

New Middle East: Slotkin praised the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as a positive step, but expressed concern about the U.S. potentially selling F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. “When I was at the Pentagon… it was my job to negotiate any deal related to Israel’s qualitative military edge,” she said. “To be honest, the F-35 was always something that most people understood to be a threat to Israel’s qualitative military edge.”

Read the full feature here.

funding fears

Amid layoffs and funder bailouts, the Jewish nonprofit world fears 2021

Washington, D.C. JCC/Flickr
The American Jewish community’s network of approximately 9,500 nonprofit organizations has largely avoided collapse during the COVID-19-spurred slump that caused many for-profit businesses to shut down or significantly shrink. While the Jewish nonprofit community has suffered through layoffs, furloughs and reprioritization of funds, the biggest worries still lie ahead. Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen spoke to a range of nonprofit leaders about their approach to the uncertainty of next year.

Big question: “The real question is, what is 2021 going to look like? Everyone is making it through 2020. But everyone is very concerned about the impact on 2021. I don’t know where things will be,” said Reuben Rotman, chair and CEO of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, which represents 140 agencies providing food, counseling services, support for those with developmental and physical disabilities, vocational assistance and more. “There have been reductions in staffing and services. But right now, our agencies by and large are being kept whole” with the help of government resources like Paycheck Protection Program, and with aid from philanthropists.

Ongoing fears: The worst fears — the collapse of the Jewish nonprofit community — have not come to pass, at least so far. “The catastrophic scenario we feared was averted,” said Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network. “The entire camp system, human services, JCCs, schools, [were] at risk. It suffered a lot but it didn’t collapse. This should not make us complacent.” Spokoiny told JI that because the stock market has continued to perform well, foundations whose money is invested have “more money than ever to give.” But support from individual grassroots donors, who make up “more than 80% of the funding in the Jewish community, in dollar terms,” is significantly impacted.

Taking a toll: There have been significant layoffs at Jewish community centers around the country. JFNA laid off 37 of its 180 staffers in May. In April, Hillel International laid off or furloughed more than 20% of its staff. J Street cut its $8 million budget by $1 million, and received a forgivable PPP loan of $660,000 and some tax credits, averting the need to lay off or furlough any staffers. The Zionist Organization of America cut “a handful” of its approximately two dozen staff positions. The New Israel Fund received a PPP loan of $927,000, though all staff members were forced to take a temporary salary cut and in Israel the entire staff was furloughed for a period. 

Read more here.

Trip Advisor

NY attorney general says she was ‘offended’ by DSA question on Israel trips

During a webcast with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York on Tuesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James denounced a recent Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) questionnaire that asked New York City Council candidates to agree “not to travel to Israel if elected… in solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation.” 

Taking offense: “I was offended by the question,” said James, who served on the City Council from 2004-2013 and was the first Working Families Party member elected to the body. “There was a lot of pushback on the question and I’m glad. That question should not have been on the questionnaire, and if it had been on the questionnaire when I was a candidate for City Council, I would not have sought their support.” James told JCRC-NY Executive Vice President and CEO Rabbi Michael Miller, who moderated the event, that, “at least five candidates reached out” to ask her how she would have answered the DSA question.

Take the trip: James, who visited Israel on a JCRC-led trip in 2015 as the city’s public advocate, stressed: “It’s important that that organization understand why individuals go to Israel.” The state prosecutor said it was during her time in the Jewish state “that my love for Israel and my commitment to the cause of peace was solidified. And that’s why I look forward to going back to Israel with you and with others, again, to widen and broaden my experience, because I’m still learning.”

Read more here.
Sponsored Content
Community Comms

Podcast Playback: Super Bowl winning tight end Benjamin Watson joined Mark Gerson's podcast to discuss Jeremiah 9:22-23 [Link]

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

Zioness Teen FellowsApplications for inaugural NYC cohort due September 16!

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.
👨‍💼 Other Half: New York Times reporters Stephanie Saul, Ken Vogel and Danny Hakim highlight how the legal career of Doug Emhoff, the husband of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, could be a liability for the Biden campaign. Despite Emhoff’s leave of absence from DLA Piper, the firm is known for its thriving Washington lobbying practice and has offices in Moscow and Riyadh. [NYTimes]

🇹🇷 Too Close: In The Financial Times, Mehul Srivastava and Laura Pitel spotlight the growing ties between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hamas, a relationship that deeply concerns Israel but “had until recently been a manageable irritant.” [FT]

💻 Hate on Display: In The Daily Beast, Mark Hay explores the spread of “holocough,” a term that began as a neo-Nazi campaign to infect Jews with COVID-19, and has evolved to be “used as a tagline for a slew of conspiracy theories in recent months.” [DailyBeast]
Around the Web
💵 Startup Nation: Israeli payments startup Melio, which has risen in popularity during the pandemic, raised $144 million to expand its staff and operations.

Never Mind: A merger between Taboola and Outbrain, two Israeli-founded clickbait companies, was called off when they could not reach a new agreement after both suffering pandemic losses. 

💲Cashing In: Gary Cohn, a former economic advisor to President Donald Trump, raised $720 million in an IPO for his new blank-check acquisition company Cohn Robbins Holdings.

📉 Falling Short: Israeli rating agencies are downgrading the credit rate of New York-based real estate developers who are trading on the Israel bond market amid economic uncertainty. 

🌠 Fading Star: Israeli coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu — who is now in mandatory quarantine — is losing both public trust and government backing as he is caught in the battle between Netanyahu and haredi leaders over lockdown efforts.

🗣️ On the Offense: Netanyahu lashed out against the Israel Police yesterday, comparing a report of police misconduct in the 2017 fatal shooting of a Bedouin man to the investigations into his alleged corruption.

📋 On Notice: The Treasury Department announced sanctions on two former ministers in the Lebanese government for aiding Hezbollah.

🗳️ He’s Running: Sam Yebri, who fled Tehran with his family as a baby, is running to become the first Persian-Jewish member of the Los Angeles City Council. 

📯 Blown Away: Rabbi Barry Dov Katz of Adath Israel in Riverdale, N.Y., talks to The New York Jewish Week about his daily visits around the neighborhood to blow the shofar. 

🎓 Campus Beat: A fraternity at the University of Heidelberg in Germany is under investigation for alleged antisemitic abuse of a Jewish student.  

🏡 Plot Thickens: Haaretz reports that while Sheldon Adelson has purchased the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Herzliya, the plot of land surrounding it is a nature reserve that now reverts to public use.

🍭 Candy Crush: Jelly Belly founder David Klein is launching a nationwide treasure hunt that will award the winner the keys to an entire candy factory in Florida.

🏈 Foul Ball: New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich, who wrote a book on the NFL, believes Dan Snyder could end up losing ownership of the Washington Football Team amid a series of scandals.

🎥 Hollywood: Variety reviews the new Amos Gitai film “Laila in Haifa,” showcasing the diverse clientele of a real-life bar and arts space in the northern Israeli city. 

📻 Back to Work: TV and radio host Nick Cannon has returned to his syndicated radio show two months after stepping back amid a scandal over his antisemitic comments.  

📚 Book Shelf: The New York Times reviews Yishai Sarid’s new novel, The Memory Monster, which is structured entirely as a letter written to the chairman of the board of Yad Vashem.

🕎 Mezuzah Chic: Vogue spotlights the new Judaica collection from Via Maris, which “smartly infuses Judaica with a modernist Bauhaus-style aesthetic.” 

🥕 Delish Dish: In The New York Times, Joan Nathan explores the history of tsimmes — and shares a recipe.

🕯️Remembering: Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood, born Ronald Horwitz, has died at 85.
Gilad Erdan/Instagram
Yesterday, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan accompanied his 5-year-old son, Erel, on his first day of kindergarten at the Ramaz School, a Jewish day school in Manhattan.
(Yeshiva University
President emeritus of Yeshiva University, Richard Joel turns 70…

President of Israel, Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin turns 81… Orlando real estate developer, Harris Rosen turns 81… Senior fellow emeritus at Brookings, Kenneth Lieberthal turns 77… President of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes turns 71… A founder of the Shas party, Nissim Mordechai Ze'ev turns 69… Founding president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, Martin Kramer turns 66… Editorial director of Schocken Books, Altie Karper turns 64… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Shari Arison turns 63… Suzanna Stone turns 62… DC-based communications strategist and tactician, Jeffrey Weintraub turns 60… CFO of Hatch BioFund Management, Escalon Services and Life Science Venture Capital Fund, Lloyd Eric Appel turns 57…

Actor, comedian and screenwriter, Adam Sandler turns 54… Senior national correspondent at HuffPost, Jonathan Cohn turns 51… Former member of the Knesset, an author and radio host, Dov Lipman turns 49... Partner and associate director at Boston Consulting Group, Sacha Frédéric Litman turns 47... New York City-based freelance journalist, David Freedlander turns 43... Director of Tiedemann Advisors, Michael B. Greenwald turns 37... Head of Google Cuba, Brett Perlmutter turns 34... Communications & operations manager at the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, he is also the DC chair of B'nai B'rith Connect, Trey Meehan turns 28... Founder of International Hummus Day, working at Notion, Ben Lang... Beverly Hills resident, Barbara Schechter... Assistant director for development and operations at Jews United for Justice, Carla Hashley...
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