First published at 7:07 AM on Jun 5th 2020
Updated at: 8:31 AM
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Jewish Insider | Daily Kickoff
June 5th, 2020
👋 Good Friday morning!

The drama and debate surrounding The New York Times op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) continued yesterday after the paper said the piece “did not meet our standards.”

Meanwhile, NYT opinion editor Bari Weiss was trending on Twitter yesterday after describing the debate within the newsroom as a “civil war inside The New York Times between the (mostly young) wokes [and] the (mostly 40+) liberals.” Weiss posted a thread describing opposing viewpoints within the paper: “The New York Times motto is ‘all the news that's fit to print.’ One group emphasizes the word ‘all.’ The other, the word ‘fit.’” Many of Weiss’s colleagues took exception with her description, contending that she misrepresented the internal culture and dialogue.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered embattled and beleaguered Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) her strong support a day after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) endorsed his challenger, Jamaal Bowman. Pelosi also endorsed Ocasio-Cortez, who is facing her own primary challenge.

We obtained a copy of a letter AIPAC sent out to its African-American members last Sunday following the killing of George Floyd. In the letter addressed to “our African American outreach family,” AIPAC’s Howard Kohr and Richard Fishman wrote, “We are living through a painful time in our country. Like you, we are horrified by the violent death of George Floyd and are angry, sad and hurt over the inequities that still exist in our country.”

Check out Jewish Insider’s latest ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into over the past two weeks.

Give us a Friday follow on Instagram — @JewishInsider where we’re ramping up.

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He's back

Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, a Senate showdown in Georgia

Jon Ossoff — Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP
Jon Ossoff’s narrow defeat three years ago to former Republican Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA) only seems to have emboldened him as he now looks to unseat Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) this November. “I’m focused on laying the groundwork to build a grassroots juggernaut that will unseat our failed incumbent,” Ossoff told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a recent interview from his home in Atlanta.

Tough competition: In order to take on Perdue, Ossoff will have to defeat Teresa Tomlinson, a former mayor and attorney, and Sara Riggs Amico, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018, in the Democratic primary on June 9. Ossoff leads the pack in fund-raising, pulling in more than $4 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. Experts say Ossoff, who has been endorsed by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), has the edge among his Democratic opponents, though his nomination isn’t a sure bet.

Values: Ossoff, who is Jewish, said that his faith informs his approach to politics. “The experience of persecution and flight and massacre of my ancestors influences and strengthens my commitment to standing up alongside marginalized, dispossessed and persecuted people in solidarity with them to defend the human rights of all,” he said. Such views seem to inform Ossoff’s views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict as well. “A sustainable and humane resolution can only be achieved by diplomacy,” he said, adding that he was “strongly committed to Israel's security as a homeland for the Jewish people.”

At risk: Tomlinson, in her conversation with JI, was critical of President Donald Trump’s policies in the Middle East. “I think he puts Israel at risk,” she said, explaining that she opposed the president’s move to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and that she viewed his decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as reckless. Tomlinson added that she endorses a two-state solution and rejects the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, though she supports the First Amendment rights of those who participate in such boycotts.

Wedge issue: Amico, for her part, believes that conversations around Israel have become overly politicized — and that it has become a “wedge issue” in campaigns. “When I was growing up and studying all of this, 25 years ago, Israel was the one policy that was bipartisan,” she said. Amico touts her status as an outsider who can bring real change to Washington. “I am not a politician,” she said, adding, “If the idea is we're going to fix all of these deeply entrenched but really biased and broken systems by sending another politician to Washington — I mean, I don't know what to say.”

Read more about the race here.

mixed messages

Serbian president who addressed AIPAC criticizes U.S. sanctions on Iran

Courtesy of AIPAC
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić expressed opposition to U.S. sanctions on Tehran in a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday, according to Iranian government reports. The Serbian president also announced his intention to visit Iran during the call, Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh reports.

What was said: Both Serbia and Iran issued readouts of the call. According to the Iranian version, which Serbian officials did not deny when reached for comment, Vučić “emphasized that Serbia has always opposed the imposition of sanctions and pressures on Iran, saying his country stands by the Iranian people.” According to the readout from the Serbian president’s office, Vučić further expressed his commitment to “developing bilateral cooperation, particularly the economic one, because it lags behind good political relations,” the statement read. Vučić’s statement said he “gladly accepted” Rouhani’s invitation to visit Tehran “once the circumstances make it possible.”

Flashback: Earlier this year, in a surprising and controversial move, Vučić was invited to attend and address the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, where he announced from the main stage that Serbia planned to open a diplomatic mission and an economic office in Jerusalem. In an interview with JI in March, Vučić said that “we want to buy some arms and weaponry from Israel,” suggesting a possible future deal between the two countries.

Bonus: On Wednesday, Serbia announced it had adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. The move was praised by the Israeli Embassy in Serbia.

Read more here.

Heard Yesterday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s ‘very concerned’ about annexation

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) separately expressed concern this week over the Israeli government’s plans to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank as soon as next month.

Quote: “We always want [Israel] to be bipartisan,” Pelosi said during a Zoom call hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America. “We take great pride in President [Barack] Obama's Memorandum of Understanding… that was signed in 2016 to help Israel defend itself in a variety of ways and we stand committed to that, but we're very concerned about what we see happening in terms of annexation.”

Strong language: “Unilateral annexation puts the future [of peace] at risk and undermines our national security interest and decades of bipartisan policy,” Pelosi stressed. The Democratic leader’s comments echo a draft version of a letter sent by 18 Democratic senators to top Israeli officials last month, which suggested that annexation would “undermine” the U.S.-Israel relationship. That line of text was replaced in the final version of the letter, which said that annexation “puts both Israel’s security and democracy at risk.”

Read more here.

Personal plea: On Wednesday, Casey sent a personal letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, cautioning them against moving forward with plans to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank. “As Israel enters a hopeful new chapter after over a year of political turmoil, I am concerned that stated plans to move forward with unilateral annexation of the West Bank will not only eliminate the possibility of a two-state solution, but may result in erosion of regional and international arrangements that guarantee Israel’s safety and security,” Casey wrote in the letter, obtained Thursday by Jewish Insider. “I ask that you choose an alternate path that will avert further conflict and lay the groundwork for peace.”

Person-to-person: Casey is the second senator — after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — to author an individual communique instead of signing onto the letter authored by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). “The United States and Israel enjoy an unbreakable bond that goes beyond a typical bilateral relationship between two allies,” Casey added. “This relationship permits space for criticism and concern when necessary.”

Read more here.

Get a move on: In an interview with The New York Times published yesterday, former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman accused Netanyahu of dragging his feet on annexation: “You have a majority,” he said. “What’s your problem? You speak about the Jordan Valley. Let’s go.” Meanwhile, Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz said the government was ready to adopt only “parts of” the Trump plan.
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😢 Parallel: Josef Federman writes in The Associated Press that the shooting of an unarmed autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem is drawing comparisons to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “Even with the world’s attention focused on the unrest shaking the U.S., Hallaq’s death has reverberated across Israel.” [AP]

Double Standard? In Haaretz, Danielle Ziri explores the anger among many in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community after Mayor Bill de Blasio allowed anti-racist protesters to gather during the pandemic despite harshly cracking down and singling out the Jewish community for attending funerals and prayer services. New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein said the First Amendment protects both protests and the freedom of religion. [Haaretz]
Around the Web
🍦 I Scream: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry's, were arrested earlier this week during a protest in Washington, D.C., according to the ice cream company’s website.

🎖️ Free at Last: Michael White, a U.S. Navy veteran detained in Iran for nearly two years, has been released as part of a mutual prisoner swap. State Department Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook flew to Zurich with a doctor to accompany White home.

💥 On the Offense: Syria has accused Israel of carrying out airstrikes yesterday on a military position near the town of Masyaf.

🗳️ Safe Bet: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban revealed that he decided not to run for president after hiring a pollster to assess his chances.

💰 On Own Feet: Lili, a New York-based mobile banking startup aimed to assist freelance workers, has raised $10 million in seed funding.

📈 Startup Nation: Zoominfo, an Israeli-founded software company, soared during its U.S. trading debut yesterday, making it the largest tech IPO of 2020.

🎓 Campus Beat: Students at Penn State University are circulating a petition calling for the expulsion of a student who posed for a photo with a swastika drawn on her back.

Silver Lining: For the first time since March 12, New York City reported yesterday zero coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24-hour period.

👩‍⚖️ Behind Bars: A federal judge denied Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff’s request for compassionate early release from prison.

⛓️ Prison Break: The German shooter who tried to attack a synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur was thwarted amid an attempted prison break this week.

👋 Goodbye: Antisemitic Holocaust denier Hutton Gibson, the father of Mel Gibson, has died at age 101.
Some 98 kosher certifiers landed in Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires on a special flight from Tel Aviv this week to preserve the Israeli kosher meat market amid the coronavirus pandemic.
First-ever Jewish Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Eileen R. Filler-Corn turns 56...

FRIDAY: Virginia Holocaust Museum's Jay M. Ipson turns 85... Barbara Pergament turns 82... Real estate agent Saul Bubis turns 80... New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft turns 79... CSA Group's Dan Yurman turns 72... Maresco & Partners' Linda Greenfield turns 70... Personal finance guru Susan Lynn "Suze" Orman turns 69... Burbank Temple Emanu El's Audrey Freedman-Habush turns 69... Visual anthropologist Penny Diane Wolin turns 67... International trade attorney Dean A. Pinkert turns 64... Saxophonist "Kenny G," Kenneth Bruce Gorelick turns 64... New York Post's Andrea Peyser turns 61... Real estate attorney Sam Kraemer turns 60...

Burson Cohn & Wolfe's Michael Heimowitz turns 60... Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament Gila Deborah Martow turns 59... Greenberg Traurig's Mark Weprin turns 59... Beth A. Freeman turns 56... Rep. Christina Jampoler Houlahan (D-PA) turns 53... Former Member of the British Parliament (2005-2019) Ed Vaizey turns 52... Entrepreneur and inventor Nova Spivack turns 51... Professor of Israel Studies at UCLA, Dov Morris Waxman turns 46... Co-founder of BlueLabs Elan Alter Kriegel turns 39... Director of policy at Ed Choice Jason Bedrick turns 37... Shalom Austin's Arielle Levy turns 31... DKC's Maya Bronstein turns 27... Clara Moskowitz... Susan Stein...

SATURDAY: L.A. billionaire Eli Broad turns 87... US District Court Judge Frederic Block turns 86... Rabbi emeritus of Beth Abraham Synagogue in Dayton Rabbi Samuel Press turns 84... Rabbi emeritus at Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa Rabbi Reuven Bulka turns 76... Hyatt Hotels chairman Thomas Pritzker turns 70... Israeli diplomat Haim Koren turns 67... Playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein turns 66... Comedian Sandra Bernhard turns 65... Radio personality, Lisa Glasberg (better known as "Lisa G") turns 64... Immediate past chair of the board of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, Ann Pava turns 63... Israeli conductor and musician, Nir Brand turns 59... Former majority leader in the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor turns 57...

Managing director for The Glover Park Group, Jonathan Kopp turns 54... Best-selling author Anna Benjamin David turns 50... Former Goldman Sachs official and son of Elie Wiesel, Elisha Wiesel turns 48... Saba Capital's Boaz Weinstein turns 47... 2019 Trump impeachment witness from the National Security Council Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Semyon Vindman... and his twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, also a former NSC staffer, both turn 45... Washington Free Beacon's Michael L. Goldfarb turns 40... ABC News reporter Katherine B. Faulders turns 29... Finsbury's Anna Epstein turns 29... Advertising traffic manager for the Biden campaign, Jordan Finkelstein turns 26... Writer in AIPAC's DC headquarters, Allie Freedman... Steve Patner...

SUNDAY: Vice President of the United States Mike Pence turns 61... Developer of the cardiac defibrillator Bernard Lown MD turns 99... Chicago and Aspen based billionaire Lester Crown turns 95... Former Congressman Mel Levine turns 77... Georgetown University's Deborah Tannen turns 75... Albright Stonebridge Group's Wendy Ruth Sherman turns 71... U.S. State Department official Hillel Weinberg turns 68... Rep. Susan Ellis Wild (D-PA) turns 63... U.S. District Judge SDNY Jesse Matthew Furman turns 48... Nathan Cummings Foundation's Isaac Luria turns 37... Co-editor of The New York Review of Books Emily S. Greenhouse turns 34... Actress and model Emily Ratajkowski turns 29... Andrea Gonzales...
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