First published at 7:27 AM on Feb 27th 2020
Updated at: 8:14 AM
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Jewish Insider | Daily Kickoff
February 27th, 2020
👋 Good Thursday morning!

Sheryl Sandberg appeared on Dylan Byers’ new NBC podcast to discuss her management style, relationship with Mark Zuckerberg, overcoming her grief after the loss of her late husband, Dave Goldberg, in 2015 and her recent engagement to Tom Bernthal.

Asked about the election, Sandberg told Byers, "I’m a Democrat and I plan to support whatever Democratic candidate there is but I’m staying out of the primary.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is requesting $8.5 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus.

Today in Minnesota, Republican Jewish Coalition Chairman and former Senator Norm Coleman is hosting a fundraiser — headlined by Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle — for GOP Senate candidate Jason Lewis, who alleged in 2013 that members of the Republican Party were “dual citizens” of the U.S. and Israel and that the party was being controlled by the “Jewish lobby.”

At National Harbor, Maryland, Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, along with his senior advisor Aryeh Lightstone, and Republican members of Congress will speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

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eyes on california

More than a dozen vie to replace Rep. Susan Davis in Southern California

Sara Jacobs
On Tuesday, 16 candidates will battle to appear on the November ballot to fill an open seat in California’s 53rd congressional district. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), who has represented the San Diego-area district since 2001, announced in September that she would not seek reelection. Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod breaks down the state of the race.

The candidates: Frontrunners include San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez and Sara Jacobs — a former Hillary Clinton campaign aide and State Department contractor. Jacobs, who ran in the nearby 49th district in 2018, is the granddaughter of billionaire Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. California’s “jungle primary” means that only the top two candidates — regardless of party — will advance to the general election.

Fundraising: Jacobs has raised over $2 million — more than $500,000 of it self-funded. Gomez comes in second, with over $660,000 raised, followed by Marine veteran, activist and public policy consultant Janessa Goldbeck, who has raised approximately $248,500 — more than double what the next competitor has pulled in.

Learning tikkun olam: “I was taught from a young age that it was my personal responsibility to do everything that I could to repair the world, and that's really something that has informed and guided my career decisions,” Jacobs told Jewish Insider.

On Israel: Jacobs, who has family in Israel and has visited several times, told JI that she understands “on a very personal level, the need for a safe and secure Israel.” Gomez wrote in an op-ed that she supports a two-state solution and opposes BDS and any attempts to withhold aid to Israel, while Goldbeck praised Israel as “a beacon of shared interests and values.”

Read more about the race here.

candidate profile

The ‘mom of Democratic politics’ in CA-25 aiming for Congress

Rich Pedroncelli/AP
All eyes are on a March 3 special election in California’s 25th district to replace Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA), who resigned after allegations of inappropriate behavior. For Jewish Insider, Oren Peleg spent time on the campaign trail with Christy Smith, a longtime friend and backer of Hill who is running for the open seat.

Mom cred: Smith, a member of the California State Assembly, has the support of Hill, who told The Huffington Post, “there’s no one else that I could even think of that I would want to run for this,” adding that Smith is the “the mom of Democratic politics” in the district.

Banding together: “It's something that we're mindful of going into this election season — how front of mind it is for so many people that antisemitism, racism, anti-immigrant sentiment are all so closely tied in to what's happening now,” the congressional hopeful said. “And it is that collective concern that I think we all have, whichever of those communities you identify with, that we acknowledge we need to be going in a different direction.”

Eyes on the race: Smith told JI that party leaders in Washington view her race as a “great predictor of whether or not we can hold the House in November.” Hill flipped the seat in 2018, defeating the incumbent Republican, Rep. Stephen Knight, who is running now to reclaim his seat. Another prominent name in the race is progressive Young Turks host Cenk Uygur. The March 3 race is expected to head to a run-off election on May 12 if no candidate receives 50% of the vote.

Read the full profile here.

Heard Yesterday

Sanders advisor: We won’t have a problem working with the Israeli government

Matt Duss, a foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, discussed the 2020 frontrunner’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and relations with Israel during the Quincy Institute leadership forum, held in conjunction with Foreign Policy, in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

Vocal and critical: “Senator Sanders has been clear about the principles that he supports and the goal and it’s a goal that is shared by — I think — a clear majority of Americans,” Duss said. “I think he’s been willing to be more critical of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in particular, as he has been more vocal and critical about right-wing nationalists around the world, recognizing that is a global trend that is very problematic for those of us who support human rights and democracy. At the end of the day, the Israeli government is full of professionals who understand Israel’s security needs. There are longstanding relationships at various levels between the U.S. and Israel. And we don’t think we’ll have a problem moving forward in trying — trying at least — and probably finding very quickly some common ground.”

Jerusalem reaction: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted on Wednesday to Sanders’s attacks, most recently calling the Israeli leader a “reactionary racist” during Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina. “What I think about this matter is that he is definitely wrong,” Netanyahu said during an interview with Army Radio. “No question about it.” Netanyahu pointed out that the reason he withstood pressure from the Obama administration for eight years was because he was able to influence U.S. public opinion, “and if we will be pressured into doing dangerous things, I will know how to oppose that — and I am not afraid of a showdown.”

Communal support: In Newsweek, Steve Friess examines why Muslim voters are rallying around Sanders, including his vote against the Iraq War, his visits to mosques and his public support from Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). “The notion that we are automatically suspicious of Jewish people, it's just simply not the case,” said campaign surrogate Amer Zahr.

Bonus: Jeremy Burton, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, tells Washington Post reporter Michelle Boorstein that the common theme he’s hearing is anxiety among American Jews about having a Jewish nominee or president, whether the person is Bernie Sanders or Michael Bloomberg. “At the end of the day, Jews know antisemitism is part of the DNA of Western civilization,” he explained.

data dive

The latest FEC findings

CBS News
The first financial filings of the year to the Federal Election Commission revealed a wave of noteworthy donors to the campaigns of several 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

Go Joe: Donors who maxed out — donating the maximum $2,800 — to former Vice President Joe Biden include hedge fund manager Seth Klarman; former Disney CEO Michael Eisner; Henry Schein CEO Stanley Bergman; Stephen Greenberg, past chairman of the Conference of Presidents; Dianne Stern, the widow of former NBA commissioner David Stern; philanthropist Margaret Munzer Loeb; and former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Promoting Pete: A wealth of prominent names maxed out to former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg: photographer Annie Leibovitz; Michelle Lubetzky, the wife of KIND founder and member of the United for Mike leadership council, Daniel Lubetzky; Robin Newberger, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; billionaire Starwood Capital co-founder Barry Sternlicht; founder of software training site Lynda Susan Weinman; art gallery owner David Zwirner; Caryn Zucker; SpotOn co-founder Zach Hyman; and Joshua Guttman, a former partner at Softbank Capital.

Aiding Amy: Bain Capital co-chairman Joshua Bekenstein gave $2,800 to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), while his wife, Anita, donated $5,600. Lisa and Todd Kantor, of Encompass Capital, both donated $2,800, while hedge fund manager Stephen Mandel; investment banker Barry Zubrow, billionaire casino magnate Niel Bluhm; Sheldon Bonovitz, chairman emeritus of Duane Morris; and former head of New York's Empire State Development Corporation Howard Zemsky maxed out to Klobuchar.

Hedging: Sterling Partners co-founder Steven Taslitz donated $5,000 to Biden and $2,800 to Buttigieg. Susan Mandel, a philanthropist and the wife of hedge fund manager Stephen Mandel, gave $2,800 to both Klobuchar and Biden. Mimi Sternlicht, a philanthropist and the ex-wife of Barry Sternlicht, maxed out to Klobuchar and Buttigieg.
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💪 Breaking Taboos: The Washington Post’s Ruth Eglash highlights a group of ultra-Orthodox Israeli women who are breaking norms by seeking more active political engagement ahead of Israel’s third election next week: “Just the concept of Haredi feminism is a revolution of the last few years.” [WashPost]

🖼️ Left Hanging: Air Mail’s weekend edition takes a deep dive into how Inigo Philbrick, a Ponzi-scheming gallerist — described as “the Madoff of the art world” — managed to trick many art collectors, who are now furiously looking for his whereabouts. [AirMail]

🏨 Boundary Infringement: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, owned by Los Angeles developer Beny Alagem, is being sued by the Peninsula Beverly Hills, a hotel next door, for allegedly stealing corporate secrets and personal information about its VIP guests in a push to attract Middle Eastern royals and celebrities. [WSJ]

👨‍💻 Gearing Up: Writing for The Hill, Seth Frantzman, author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East, details how Israeli technology would help the Israeli Defense Forces fight a multi-front war and confront Iran as outlined in its new multi-year plan. [TheHill]
Around the Web
✍️ Harsh Warning: Fifty former prime ministers and foreign ministers from across Europe signed a letter published in The Guardian today expressing “grave concern” about the Trump peace plan, which “contradicts internationally agreed parameters” and could lead to an outcome with “characteristics similar to apartheid – a term we don’t use lightly.”

📽️ Congressional Screening: An Al Jazeera documentary called “The Lobby: USA,” which features extensive footage obtained while secretly filming American Jews and pro-Israel groups in D.C., is holding an invite-only screening this Friday for members of Congress and Hill staffers, reports the Washington Free Beacon.

🗳️ One Vote At a Time: Seeking to deny the anti-Bibi bloc a majority, Netanyahu has in recent days reached out to Arab voters he once maligned. At the same time, the Likud leader is firing up his right-wing base by targeting popular Arab MK Ahmad Tibi, as someone who would hold the keys to any government formed by his rival Benny Gantz.

🏠 Grounded: The Israeli government advised citizens to reconsider their planned foreign travel, citing the growing spread of coronavirus around the world.

🖥️ Start-Up Nation: Israeli web development start-up Strattic has raised $6.5 million.

👨‍⚖️ Talk of the Nation: Federal prosecutors have charged five people tied to a neo-Nazi group for intimidating journalists and a Trump cabinet official as part of a broader crackdown on violent white supremacists in the United States.

🎨 New Notation: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has adjusted the description of a painting hanging in one of its galleries to note that it was previously owned by a Jewish art dealer who fled Germany in 1933.

⚖️ In Court: The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide the fate of a Picasso painting sold for $12,000 by a desperate Jewish family fleeing Europe in 1938 — which now hangs in the Met.

📈 Data Crunch: A new report released by the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday showed that at least 38 people were killed by white supremacists and other far-right extremists in the U.S. last year.

🕺 Across the Sea: A Holocaust-themed parade in Spain featuring dancing Nazi officers and death camp prisoners in striped pajamas waving Israeli flags drew fierce condemnation for trivializing the Holocaust. The carnival troupe later apologized and said it canceled its remaining shows.

⌨️ Charges Filed: A former Labour activist has been charged in a British court for posting antisemitic hate speech on social media.

🤖 Joke Gone Wrong: A federal judge in Texas is hearing a case about a Jewish boy from Austin who was kicked off his high school robotics team for making a joke about picking coins up off the ground.

📺 Hollywood: Keshet International has sold the Israeli series “The A Word” to Dutch public broadcaster EO.

👨‍⚕️ Cut Above: A new documentary is spotlighting Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Salzhauer.

📸 Scene last night: The Met Council on Jewish Poverty hosted their annual real estate networking event at the Mandarin Oriental in NYC, honoring Apollo's Scott Weiner. Over $1.8 million was raised for the organization's upcoming Passover food distribution, CEO David Greenfield tells JI.

Spotted: Scott Alper, Aaron Appel, Abba Barnett, Josh Black, Merryl and James Tisch, Daniela and Benjamin Tisch, Ken and Debra Caplan, Jonathan Pollack, Richard Mack, Joe Cayre, Jack Cayre, Jessica Chait, Joseph Chetrit, Ken Cohen, Michael DeMarco, Allen Gross, Jeffrey Feil, Suri Kasirer, Ziel Feldman, Sylvia Golden, Jason Koppel, Eric Feuerstein, David Gibber, Brian Tregerman, Jonathan Sage, David Lazarus, Robert Morris, Linda Spitzer, Eric Goldstein, Bill Mack, Willy Pilku, Stephen Rosenberg, David Schonbruan, David Schwartz, Brian Shatz, Alexandra Roth-Kahn, Abbey Knopp, Joseph Shenker, Adam Spies, Randy Schatz, Ben Segal, Rob Newman, Stacy and Ron Scheinberg, Anat Barber, Sara Weiner, Scott Weiner, Scott Domansky, and Randi Schatz.
A couple dozen people showed up last night for the Bloomberg campaign's “United for Mike” outreach event in Tel Aviv ahead of the Democrats Abroad primary. The campaign's director of Jewish outreach, Abigail Pogrebin, and Yonit Serkin, Bloomberg’s former deputy chief of staff for economic development, addressed the crowd via video conference.
Senior rabbi of the West London Synagogue, a member of the British House of Lords, she is the chair of University College London Hospitals, Baroness Julia Neuberger turns 70...

Performance artist and filmmaker, Eleanor Antin turns 85... Writer and illustrator of children's books, Uri Shulevitz turns 85... William Drykos turns 81... Chair of Julliard, vice chair of Lincoln Center and on the board of the Metropolitan Opera, Bruce Kovner turns 75... Haverford, Pennsylvania-based attorney, mediator and arbitrator, Judith Meyer turns 75... Professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Alan Harvey Guth turns 73... Grand"Pa" of Gerard Court, Michael Gervis turns 73... Film and television actor, he starred as FBI Agent Stan Beeman on the FX series "The Americans" (2013-2018), Noah Emmerich turns 55... Suzy Appelbaum turns 58... President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, David S. Waren turns 57...

Founder of Spanx, an intimate apparel company, she is a part owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Sara Blakely turns 49... Senior Washington editor for NBC News, Rebecca Sinderbrand turns 43... Singer-songwriter, composer and prayer leader, Sam Benjamin "Shir Yaakov" Feinstein-Feit turns 42... Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the National Union - Tkumah party, he serves as the transportation minister, Bezalel Smotrich turns 40... Chief baseball officer for the Boston Red Sox since 2019, he spent the prior 14 years in ever-increasing roles at the Tampa Bay Rays, Chaim Bloom turns 37... Massachusetts state senator since 2015 and former Obama White House aide where he was one of the originators of the White House Seder, Eric P. Lesser turns 35... Alana Berkowitz... Lenore Wax... (now with the correct day) Talent producer at "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Neil Goldman...
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