Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: August 14, 2019

Buttigieg says Golan recognition ‘upsetting’ intervention in Israeli domestic politics; Booker says DOH, DOJ need to do ‘a lot more’ to counter anti-Semitism

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Ind. mayor, address the National Action Network (NAN) convention, Thursday April 4, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Ind. mayor, address the National Action Network (NAN) convention, Thursday April 4, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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SCOOP — Abbas snubs visiting Republican congressmen — by JI’s Amy Spiro: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas snubbed a Republican congressional delegation on Tuesday, despite meeting with a similar group of Democratic members last week. The 31 Republican members of Congress were scheduled to meet with Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday as part of a weeklong trip organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of AIPAC.

But Abbas was a no-show, instead sending other Palestinian officials to meet the group. A source familiar with the trip confirmed that the delegation met instead with PLO General Secretary Saeb Erekat and PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. 

Abbas did meet on Tuesday with representatives of the newly formed Democratic Union faction of left-wing Israeli parties. Knesset member Issawi Frej (Meretz) and candidate Noa Rothman (Democratic Israel) met with the Palestinian leader in Ramallah Tuesday evening.

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) told Jewish Insider that he opted to skip the Ramallah portion of the trip after he learned Abbas would not be attending. “He cancelled on the Republicans,” said Gonzalez. “I think it’s because the administration has been awfully hard on Palestinians and very supportive of Israel — which is the right thing to do — and I think he saw the Republicans as maybe not worth his time.” [JewishInsider]

HEARD IN JERUSALEM — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is leading the Republican congressional trip, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that while mainstream Democrats still support Israel, the party is moving in another direction. “They are not [just] a few freshmen anymore; they are the movement within the party,” he said. “This is different than what I have felt in other Congresses. I never felt you had to fight for [pro-Israel legislation]. There is an element you have to fight for now.”

MEET THE CANDIDATE — The progressive Democrat seeking to topple Nadler — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: In his 13 re-election bids since joining Congress in 1992, Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has yet to face a viable challenger. But next year Nadler, who now serves as chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee, will face at least one Democratic primary opponent who is garnering significant attention and resources in her quest to replace the 72-year-old incumbent and represent New York’s 10th congressional district. Lindsey Boylan, who raised $264,657 in the last quarter, served as an economic development advisor for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In a recent interview with Jewish Insider, Boylan said voters are eager for a change from Nadler, who she says has not been successful in “producing legislation” and “putting forth ideas that garner support and change the conversation.”

Boylan also thinks Nadler is “kicking the can down the road” and “politicizing” the issue of impeaching the president, rather than moving forward. “He has made, in many ways, what should not be a political process, a completely politicized issue. We should have been on this road months ago,” she said, adding, “We just heard Congressman Nadler say that this moment is reminiscent of the 1930s in Germany… that’s a pretty big statement to just put out there and do nothing about, if you really believe that.”

Defining herself as a progressive woman, Boylan draws a clear line between her progressive bona fides and her views on Israel and national security. As a supporter of Israel, Boylan says she approves of the anti-BDS resolution that recently passed in the House: “Boycotting Israel is both unproductive and unfair, at best.” She added: “I believe in a two-state solution, which I think is at the moment very complicated.”

Boylan recently visited Israel with her family to attend a bat mitzvah celebration for the daughter of a close friend. “It was magical,” she said of the weeklong trip. “It was the most magical trip I’ve ever been on. We went to Masada. We took so many tours of the Old City.”

As the interview wrapped up, Boylan shared with JI her favorite Jewish pastry: “Sufganiyot — the jelly-filled ones.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

ON THE TRAIL — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded to a question about criticism of Israel during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday. “All that I have ever said on this issue [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict], is that U.S. foreign policy should be even-handed. That’s all — even-handed,” Sanders told the questioner, an IfNotNow activist. “We respect Israel. Israel has every right to live in peace and security, but so do the Palestinian people. And as somebody who is proudly Jewish, to be critical of a right-wing Netanyahu government in Israel is not to be antisemitic.”

Sanders added: “The United States government gives a whole lot of money to Israel and I think we can leverage that money to end some of the racism that we have recently seen in Israel.” [JewishInsiderVideo]

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked by a reporter, following his soapbox speech at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Tuesday, if he would reverse President Donald Trump’s Golan recognition. “The really upsetting thing about what was done with the Golan Heights was that it was an intervention in Israeli domestic politics,” he said. “I’m not going to make any declarations now about the future of that status other than to say that on my watch it would not have come about as part of the intervention of Israeli [politics].” [JNS]

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a gaggle with reporters following a grassroots fundraiser in New York City on Monday: “As president, you have a lot of leverage, from our [Department of Justice] to a whole Department of Homeland Security. They need to be doing a lot more to counter antisemitism, to counter the kind of violence we see that Jews and others are facing in this country. We need to make sure from an educational standpoint all the way to an investigatory and research standpoint. We need to be doing everything we can as a culture to shun this darkness and this evil from our nation.”

TOP-OP — Marc A. Thiessen writes: “The rise of antisemitism on the left: The fact is antisemitism is a growing problem on the left. In Britain this year, three members of the Labour Party resigned after accusing the party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, of being — as a former Labour general secretary put it — ‘institutionally antisemitic.’ In Washington, congressional Democrats have struggled to confront antisemitism within their own ranks.” [WashPost]

Alma Hernandez, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, writes… “As a Mexican-Jewish lawmaker, I feel doubly targeted by Trump’s hateful rhetoric: I used to think that these white supremacists hated me because I’m a Jew. But now I realize I don’t know what they hate more: the fact that I am a Mexican Jew or that I am taking up ‘space’ on this land they assert is theirs.” [JTA]

2020 BRIEFS — Stacey Abrams will not run for president in 2020, focusing instead on fighting voter suppression… Billionaire Tom Steyer has nearly spent his way to a spot in the third Democratic debate… As 2020 race heats up, growing worries that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will split leftist vote… Republican donors told to wait as Pompeo considers Kansas Senate run… John Hickenlooper mulling ending presidential bid to run for Senate… Washington Post editor attacks Bernie Sanders’ ‘conspiracy theory’ 

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: CBS and Viacom strike deal for long-thwarted merger [WSJ] • ViacomCBS is just the beginning of Shari Redstone’s media deals[Reuters• Goldman rivals circle after top banker, Steven Barg, jumps to Elliott [FinancialTimes] • WeWork takes 56K square-feet in the Financial District [CommercialObserver] • Yoel Goldman sells majority stake in Gowanus dev site to Rabsky for $80M [RealDeal] • Beny Steinmetz will fight corruption charges in Geneva court: lawyer [Reuters] • Amazon Web Services sets up infrastructure in Israel [Globes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — The New York Times reported on Tuesday that longtime donor Elliott Broidy had advocated for the Trump administration to support the creation of a counterterrorism force backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which would be supported by his private security and intelligence company, Circinus. Broidy promoted the plan during a two-hour meeting with President Donald Trump and his senior advisors — including Jared Kushner ― in 2017. According to the report, Broidy also attempted to convince Trump that Qatar was part of an “axis of evil.” These lobbying efforts, among others, are now the subject of a federal investigation.

LEGAL CLASH — The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that professor Alan Dershowitz and prominent attorney David Boies have been “brutally yoked in a subplot of the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case.” Boies represents Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has accused Dershowitz of sexually abusing her. “As the Boies-Dershowitz conflict has dragged on, Boies, his partners and his allies have tarred Dershowitz in personal affidavits… as a liar and a sneak who secretly recorded a call with a fellow lawyer… Meanwhile, Dershowitz has painted Boies as a corrupt attorney with a long trail of ethical lapses, a cheat and the head of a criminal enterprise.”

And Dershowitz’s scheduled upcoming appearance at a synagogue in New York in November has raised eyebrows. JI’s Ben Jacobs pointed out that the attorney is slated to serve as the defense lawyer — against prosecutor Chris Christie — in a mock trial over “kidnapping and child trafficking” based on stories from the Torah.

HOLLYWOOD — Yitzhak Rabin assassination film ‘Incitement’ coming to market at TIFF — by Stewart Clarke: “‘Incitement,’ about the promising Israeli law student who became an ultra-nationalist obsessed with assassinating Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. WestEnd Films is producing and will also launch sales on the picture at TIFF… The first still released from the film shows Yehuda Nahari Halevi (‘Wedding Doll’) as Amir, burning a picture of Rabin at a protest.” [Variety

Endemol shine sets Israeli comedy about frustrated screenwriter — by Stewart Clarke: “Israeli comedy drama ‘Fifty,’ about a sexually and professionally frustrated screenwriter, has been greenlit by pay-TV platform Yes. It has a seasoned team behind it — with Yael Hedaya, one of the writers of ‘Betipul,’ the show remade as ‘In Treatment’ in the U.S. — creating the eight-parter. Daphna Levine, one of the creators of ‘Euphoria,’ which was recently adapted by HBO, is attached to direct. Endemol Shine Israel will produce.”[Variety]

MEDIA WATCH — The New York Times said on Tuesday that it is demoting Jonathan Weisman from his role as deputy Washington editor, CNN Businessreported. Weisman will remain an editor in D.C., but he will no longer be overseeing congressional correspondents and cease posting on social media after facing backlash for controversial tweets. The Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet told CNN Business that he decided to host an employee town hall on Monday in part because of Weisman’s recent behavior on social media.

TRANSITION — The Washington Post has promoted Suzanne Goldenberg as the paper’s new Sunday business editor.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK — Approximately 1,250 participants are gathering today for the 14th annual National Jewish Retreat at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Speakers at the six-day conference include Natan Sharansky, Deborah Lipstadt, Dan Ariely, Kenneth Feinberg, Nathan Lewin, Alyza Lewin, George Rohr, David Magerman, Yaakov Katz, and Rabbi YY Jacobson. [JRetreat]

TOP TALKER — El Al flight attendant dies 4 months after contracting measles on plane from NY: “An Israeli flight attendant who was hospitalized in April after catching measles on a plane has died, becoming the third [Israeli] fatality in an outbreak of the highly contagious disease. The El Al flight attendant, named Tuesday as Rotem Amitai, 43, had contracted measles on a flight from New York in late March.” [ToIBBC]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Cops release footage of teens wanted for suspected hate crimes against Jewish men — by Tina Moore and Stephanie Pagones: “New video shows the quartet of teens wanted in connection with several suspected hate crime attacks on Jewish men in Brooklyn. The footage, released late Monday, shows four male teenagers walking into an unspecified building in Williamsburg around the time of Monday morning’s attempted robberies.” [NYPost]

TALK OF THE NATION — A small Jewish community hangs on, with pride, in Mumbai ― by Miriam Groner: “Mumbai’s Jewish community, which despite being overshadowed by the multitude of other religions in India, has a long and storied history. That story stretches back some 2,000 years when, historians speculate, Jewish traders traveling from Judea came to India along the trade route and settled in Kochin. More came around 70CE when Jews were exiled from Israel following the destruction of the Second Temple… Now there are only about 5,000 Jews in all of India, the majority of whom live in Mumbai where there are about 10 synagogues, many of which are beautifully historic and architectural landmarks.” [JewishWeek]

Jewish refugee descendants challenge Germany over citizenship — by Luke Hanraham: “British descendants of Jewish refugees who fled the Nazis are challenging the German government’s rejection of their citizenship bids. Anyone deprived of citizenship during the Nazi regime is eligible for it to be restored. But some claim they have been turned down as they were adopted, or their parents left Germany before 1941… New figures show the number of Brits applying for German citizenship has increased since the 2016 EU referendum.” [BBC]

Outcry as preschool sets up in former Nazi concentration camp —“The greying, box-like building that houses the Savsko Obdanište kindergarten has had many uses over the years… Nothing about the building’s current uses hints at its most troubling past incarnation: as a makeshift hospital in a Nazi concentration camp. Although Staro Sajmište has been touted as the location for a proposed Holocaust memorial since the early 1990s, progress to approve it has been slow. In the meantime, parts of the site have been sold to private owners.” [Guardian]

Archaeologists find evidence of Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem — as told in the Bible — by Matthew Robinson: “Archaeologists excavating on Mount Zion in Jerusalem have uncovered evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city, appearing to confirm a Biblical account of its destruction. Academics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte made significant finds, including ash deposits, arrowheads and broken pieces of pots and lamps.”[CNN]

Jordan halts film that refers to historical Jewish presence — by Mohammed Daraghmeh: “A fictional caper about an antiquities heist set in an ancient Jordanian city has stirred widespread outrage over the film’s portrayal of historical Jewish ties to Jordan, shining a light on the tenuous peace with neighboring Israel and prompting the government to suspend the movie’s production… ‘Jaber,’ follows a Jordanian boy who uncovers a stone in the rose-colored, rock-hewn city of Petra with a Hebrew inscription on it. He sets off to sell it to the highest bidder, but interested parties in Israel catch wind of the find, dispatching a Russian organized crime group to pursue the boy and retrieve the stone at any cost.” [AP]

DESSERT — A young rabbi who recently moved here is putting on the Milwaukee area’s first Jewish Food Festival — by Kristine Kierzek: “Rabbi Moshe Luchins and his wife, Sheina, love food. Cooking and community are central to their lives, and when they moved to Wisconsin about nine months ago they were looking for ways to connect. Being new to the area, Luchins and his wife initially started visiting different grocery stores and setting up a ‘kosher awareness table.’… Thinking bigger, they’re launching the first annual Jewish Food Festival, a two-day community celebration to be held Sunday Aug. 18 and Monday Aug. 19 at Virmond Park in Mequon.”[JournalSentinel]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Attorney General of New Jersey (2002-2003) and Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (2011-2014), David Samson turns 80… President of the Hampton Synagogue and former board member of the UJA Federation-New York, Carol Levin turns 75… Member of the New York State Assembly, he is the chapter president of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Charles D. Lavine turns 72… Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Professor of Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Oncology and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins, Henry Brem, M.D. turns 67…

U.S. District Court Judge in South Carolina, he previously served as President of the Columbia (SC) Hebrew Benevolent Society and the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, Judge Richard Mark Gergel turns 65… Turkish-born economist and professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Dani Rodrik turns 62… Professor, author and political analyst, he previously served as Jewish outreach director for Marco Rubio during his 2016 presidential campaign, Martin J. Sweet turns 49… Montclair, New Jersey-based filmmaker and producer, she is the executive director of DOC NYC, a major documentary film festival in NYC, Raphaela Neihausen turns 43…

Former AIPAC and Republican Jewish Coalition staffer, in 2018 he ran for Congress in the 10th District of Illinois, Jeremy Wynes turns 40… Political strategist, investment banker and attorney, he is currently the chief political analyst at Sinclair Broadcast Group after a stint in the Trump White House, Boris Epshteyn turns 37… Ukrainian-born actress, she moved to Los Angeles at the age of seven and has appeared in dozens of films, Mila Kunis turns 36… Retired lacrosse player, he played for ten seasons in Major League Lacrosse (2009-2018) and for Team Israel at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship, Maxwell (Max) Oren Seibald turns 32… Ryan Smith… Dylan Cooper… Tim Carney..

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