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Interview Via iMessage -- Meet Erin Schrode: Progressive, Pro-Israel... and oh btw would-be-youngest Member of Congress if elected this November.
Ed note: Yesterday, we interviewed Schrode, a 25-year-old candidate for California's Second Congressional District from Marin County. Rather than simply talk by phone, we interviewed Erin by iMessage. As a millennial candidate, we figured Erin would be a good choice to start our Interview via iMessage series. Look out for similar interviews in the Daily Kickoff going forward. What follows is an abridged transcript. Click here for the full interview.
So how does one decide to run for Congress and who did you turn to for advice? "I'm an activist, an educator, a social entrepreneur. Public service has been my life for over a decade, but never did I think that I'd be a "politician." I gave a speech two plus months ago — the throughline of which was "if not here, where?" about the impact of this place, of Northern California, of our CD-2 on my life, my values, my career. I walked off stage and people said, "how do we get you to run for office?!" I called up my mentors, those I respect most, dear friends, and expected them to smack me down to size, but they all said "RUN!" We need THAT voice in government today."
Can you tell us a bit about your experience living abroad in Israel? "Yes! Yes! Yes! I never had any connection to the state of Israel. My grandparents raised my mother in a conservative Jewish home, she raised me with those traditions across the country, I was Bat Mitzvahed, but never had any desire to GO to Israel. A friend convinced me to go on Birthright. I landed at Ben Gurion and had the most profound sense of homecoming, of belonging."
"I emailed NYU to see about studying abroad at our campus in TLV as soon as possible — and returned the following semester. I worked with FoEME and wrote the curriculum for the first environmental education center in the Palestinian Authority, bringing together Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian youth around issues of shared natural resources, of biodiversity, of greywater, of water conservation, gardening techniques — as a means of peace building and conflict resolution."
If Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton or the DNC appointed you to the Democratic Platform Committee at the upcoming convention, would you push for changing the language on Israel and the Palestinians? "No. I cannot accept such anti-Israel vitriol – and I don't believe that any such change could ever come quietly. There is and will and MUST remain strong support for the State of Israel here in the USA. I believe in a two-state solution and in the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."
Just to clarify -- what do you mean by “and I don't believe that any such change could ever come quietly”? "I mean that I don't think changing the language could happen without significant uprising from the Jewish community and leaders here in our country. There's a difference between advocating for a two-state solution while recognizing Palestinian rights and blatant anti-Israel rhetoric."
If you were in Congress, would you have attended Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speech in March 2015? "Absolutely, I would have been there!"
You tweeted a quote from the speech that "The days of when Jewish people stayed passive in the face of genocidal enemies are over." It was pre-campaign but what were your thoughts on the Prime Minister’s speech? "I wish that Congress hadn't been playing partisan politics with it — Israel is our only democratic ally in the Middle East."
and by ‘Congress’ do you mean Republicans or Democrats? or both? "I mean both. I just went back into my Twitter and searched for my other tweets that day."
Feel free to share "I also said this: “Whatever your politics, no doubt @netanyahu just gave an extremely powerful speech that made Obama's life a lot more diff.” He did not 'crash' Congress. He addressed our government, as the PM of our only democratic ally in the Middle East."
Are you concerned about a growing divide among progressives and the state of Israel? "Yes. Supporting Israel and standing for human rights are not mutually exclusive. An anti-Israel bias among progressives does nothing to promote peace, security or conflict resolution."
Recently you’ve faced some anti-Semitic attacks online (after we linked to an article about you in the Daily Kickoff last week), something we’ve unfortunately seen too much of this election cycle, what can your generation do to improve the situation? "To be called a Filthy Jewess appalled me. I have never felt anti-Semitism directed toward me personally prior to that. In the face of ignorance and hated, we must remain vigilant and true to our values. I believe that we must speak about love and focus more upon what unites, rather than that which divides. We must honor our traditions and carry the torch proudly!"
As an emerging Jewish leader, is there something specific you wish the Jewish community would do better? "We can and should and must bring our people, especially young people, together – our משפחה! When we celebrate and honor our shared traditions, values, history, language, place and food!, they thrive and take on new meaning. When we debate, we become stronger, better informed, and uniquely equipped to go forth. I am hugely proud to be Jewish and a part of such a rich, vibrant, resilient, charged community and tribe."
You mentioned food, what is your favorite Jewish food item? "Charoset: I eat it by the bowl. Kasha varnishkes: I perfected a gluten-free version of my grandmother’s recipe this year. And latkes: my mom’s famous tricolor ones with beets, carrots, and zucchini are sensational with a dollop of homemade pearsauce (welcome to Northern California!). I am also a Matzah mastermind: pizza, PB & J, avocado toast, you name it."
What are the odds we’re calling you Congresswoman Schrode a year from now? "We’re a people who have long defied odds, לא? I am laser-focused on our June 7 primary election here in California right now. If we make it through that, then the odds of Congresswoman Schrode increase significantly."Read the full interview [JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER: "Adelson aides in talks to set up pro-Trump super PAC" by Alex Isenstadt:"Sheldon Adelson’s advisers are in talks about setting up a new Donald Trump super PAC that could become the central outside entity supporting his candidacy, according to three sources involved in the discussions. Adelson’s team has been in talks with a small group of big-name political consultants, including former Republican Governors Association executive directors Nick Ayers and Phil Cox, former Rand Paul campaign manager Chip Englander, and former Mitch McConnell chief of staff Josh Holmes."[Politico; WSJ]
RELATED: "Las Vegas Sands Corp., Steven Jacobs Reach Confidential Settlement In Wrongful Termination Case" by Richard Velotta: "The Las Vegas Sands Corp. Tuesday settled a six-year-long lawsuit filed by a former top executive of its Macau operations. A confidential settlement was reached between Sands and Steven Jacobs, who headed the company’s China operations until being ousted in 2010. Jacobs sued Sands for wrongful termination in 2010, claiming he was fired “for blowing the whistle on improprieties and placing the interests of shareholders above those of Adelson.” Adelson countersued and has repeatedly denied Jacobs’ allegations, saying he was acting on his own."[ReviewJournal]
Ken Vogel tweets: "This case was part of the reason Sheldon had remained on 2016 sideline. Expect him to start spending heavily now" [Twitter]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: "Kristol Eyes Conservative Lawyer for Independent Presidential Run" by Mark Halperin & John Heilemann: "The person Kristol has in mind is David French -- whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine. Reached in Israel late Tuesday afternoon, Kristol declined to comment on his efforts to induce French to run. The two Republicans confirmed that French is open to launching a bid, but that he has not made a final decision." [Bloomberg]
Bill Kristol tweets: "Here in Israel, reading about possible @DavidAFrench candidacy, thought of Herzl: Im tirtzu, ein zo agada. If you will it, it is no dream." [Twitter]
“Trump Goes After ‘Loser’ Kristol On Third-Party Candidacy” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Bill Kristol is a loser. His magazine is failing, as you know,” Trump said during an unrelated press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday. Trump went after Kristol’s credibility as he railed against the “dishonest press” for covering his shtick. “Kristol’s the one who said, ‘Trump will never run.’ The guy’s not a smart person,” Trump told reporters. “He said, ‘Donald Trump will never run.’ Remember? Do you remember? I actually blame you, why do you put this guy on television? I see him on the different shows. He’s got no credibility. He looks like such a fool.” Kristol responded in kind while on trip to Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post. “I gather Donald Trump said I’m a loser,” he tweeted. “I’ve won some and I’ve lost some, but one thing I’ve always tried not to be is a roaring jackass.” [JewishInsider; BusinessInsider]
Aaron David Miller: "Can the World Survive A Perpetually Combative President Trump? Trump’s view of humanity as uniformly hostile and vicious is unrealistic—and possibly dangerous." [PoliticoMag]
FiveThirtyEight on Joe Lieberman & VP Picks -- by Julia Azari and William D. Adler:“Although the media widely discussed Lieberman’s Jewish identity at the time, there is not a lot of research on what effect his religion had on the vote. Two studies suggested that negative reactions were limited and that “the American public appeared warmly disposed toward both Jews and Lieberman” based on evidence from a 2000 survey. Neither of these studies directly addresses the question of whether Lieberman’s presence on the Democratic ticket increased the Democrats’ share of the Jewish vote.”[FiveThirtyEight]
HEARD LAST NIGHT -- former Congressman Howard Berman discussing the Dem party platform on Israel at the Beverly Hills home of Ada and Jim Horwich: "[The Israeli/Palestinian conflict] is one issue that will not be decided based on trying to create a false unity of yielding to positions which would put the Democratic party on record and my sense from conversations with people who are very involved in Hillary Clinton's campaign more so than I am is absolutely no intention to do that and a firm resolve to stand with American support for Israel."
SPOTTED: LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, LA City Controller Ron Galperin, LA Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, Scott Svonkin, Former LA City Controller Wendy Greuel, Donna Bojarsky, Zev & Barbara Yaroslavsky, Rob Eshman & Rabbi Naomi Levy, Howard Welinksy, Rabbi Sharon Brous & David Light, Sharon & Leon Janks, Fredrick Levin, Michael Koss, Rabbi Ken Chasen, Sam Yebri, Shawn Landres, Jesse Gabriel.
Former Congressman Mel Levine on Dem platform Israel debate: “This process is raising issues which are generally not so broadly discussed in the American electorate, and I think the press has overblown all of this. I am confident that a balanced result will be achieved which is consistent with traditional bipartisan US policy.” [JPost]
Chemi Shalev: “Sanders Chose Wrong People to Change Democratic Platform on Israel: Their tone and their content stray significantly from the American mainstream. Their language will ultimately be rejected by Clinton and the Convention, but they will nonetheless provide excellent openings for Republicans to drive a wedge between Democrats and independent moderates, in general, and Jewish moderates, in particular.” [Haaretz]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: "Shari Redstone Intensifies War of Words at Viacom" [NYTimes; WSJ] "Viacom in Turmoil: Will Shari Redstone Succeed in Seizing Control of Her Father’s Empire?" [Variety] "Meet the Highest-Paid C.E.O.s in 2015" [NYTimes] "Joe Sitt's Thor Equities quietly marketing chunk of NYC commercial portfolio" [RealDeal] "Megan Ellison Snags Wasserman Estate in Beverly Hills"[Variety]
SPOTLIGHT: "The $16 Billion Brand That Came from a Kibbutz" by Jon Kelly: "In the inaugural episode of the Hive documentary series Billion-Dollar Brands, Neumann recalls his first meeting with Silicon Valley venture capitalists, talks a bit of smack to his critics, and confesses what keeps him up at night."
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve recently received? "I was at a bris, and the father gave a blessing to the son. He said, “I bless you that life will be difficult enough that you will grow and learn, but not too difficult that you will break.” It was an amazing blessing for a son, and also a great blessing for a business. It needs to be difficult, you need to push the envelope to grow—but not too much that you will break." [VanityFair]
SCENE YESTERDAY: "Israel Fills UN Hall for Anti-BDS Conference" by Michael Astor:"Over 1,500 students filled the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday for a conference sponsored by the Israeli mission on how best to combat a movement on many U.S. campuses calling for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians. Taking place in the same hall where 40 years ago 72 nations voted to equate Zionism with racism, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon called the conference an "historic" event." [ABCNews]
SNEAK VISIT: "Liberman patron Schlaff visits Israel" by Gil Hoffman: "Mysterious Austrian billionaire Martin Schlaff, who has been tied to new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, paid a quick visit to Israel that coincided with Liberman’s swearing-in to his new post, The Jerusalem Post learned on Tuesday. Schlaff had been barred from entering Israel for many years, because he was suspected in a series of corruption cases. But when Liberman was acquitted of fraud and breach of trust charges in November 2013, the case against Schlaff was closed as well." [JPost]
KAFE KNESSET -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: "It's been less than two weeks since former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon resigned from the government, and it seems like his future political plans are already underway. After a letter he sent to donors was leaked to the press, on Monday night he met with a delegation from American Friends of Likud, at the Olive Tree restaurant in Jerusalem. "I am gravely concerned about the directon of the party," Ya'alon told the group. "Only (member of Knesset) Benny Begin and myself are remnants of the ideology of the old Likud, that of Menachem Begin and Moshe Arens," he added. It's not clear yet if Ya'alon wants to form a new center-right party, or compete against Prime Minister Netanyahu within Likud. "All options are on the table, and a decision will be made soon," says a close aide of his."
"Outside of politics, the main event this coming weekend will be Tel-Aviv's Pride Parade. Yesterday, a delegation of Jewish Americans from the LGBTQ community, who are visiting Israel as part of the Jewish Federations' "See Israel with Pride" initiative, met with President Ruvi Rivlin at his official residence. Rivlin told the group, led by Stuart Kurlander, former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, that "23 years ago, I had the honor to welcome the first delegation of the Israeli gay community to the Knesset. One year ago, after being elected as President, I had the honor to welcome the first delegation of the Israeli gay community to the President’s House. And today I have the honor to welcome you."
TALK OF OUR NATION: "Anti-Defamation League Chief Faces Challenge Trying To Renew Civil Rights Activism" by Tom Gjelten: "Alliance-building has clearly become more challenging. The ADL's Greenblatt supports LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter, but the perceived intersection of those movements with the Palestinian cause is making his advocacy work more difficult. For Greenblatt and others, the story of civil rights collaboration in the 1960s remains inspiring as an example of how leaders can work together across racial and religious lines." [NPR]
"Far-right parties winning over some Jewish voters, top rabbi warns" by Francois Murphy:"Far-right parties in some European countries are winning over Jewish voters by exploiting fears about militant Islamists and mainstream parties must do much more to address Europeans' security concerns, the head of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Pinchas Goldschmidt, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday." [Yahoo]
"In Defense of Big Love" by David Brooks: "Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik wrote that God is in one guise majestic and infinite, the author of the universe. But when Soloveitchik’s wife lay on her deathbed, God did not appear that way. Instead, he appeared as a “close friend, brother, father. I felt His warm hand, as it were, on my shoulder, I hugged His knees, as it were. He was with me in the narrow confines of a small room, taking up no space at all.” In daily life we have big and little loves, too." [NYTimes]
DESSERT: "Kosher Food Booms in Panama City" by Leah Koenig: "As it turns out, Panama City has recently become something of a destination for Jewish residents and travelers. And where there are Jews, there is kosher food. In Panama City’s case that means nearly 20 restaurants—many of them opened in the last decade—ranging from fast food to La Spezia, a wood-fired Italian bistro, and a handful of requisite “pizza, falafel, and sushi” places." [TabletMag]
BIRTHDAYS: Comedienne, writer, actress and producer Amy Schumer turns 35... US National Security Editor at The Guardian, Spencer Ackerman... Naomi Kadish... Gail Stone... Former IDF officer and now a London based political scientist and journalist, Ahron Bregman turns 58...
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