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    Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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    Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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Apr
20

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Daily Kickoff: Jerusalem-born Natalie Portman pulls out of Israel award citing ‘distressing recent events’ | How Michael Lynton became Snap Chairman

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PIC OF THE DAY: Scene in Jerusalem’s Old City this am… courtesy of the White House Middle East peace expert’s brother:

TOP TALKER — 
The Genesis Prize, dubbed “the Jewish Nobel Prize,” which honors notable individuals for their “commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the State of Israel” has canceled their upcoming ceremony. The event, scheduled for June 28 in Jerusalem, fell apart after Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman informed Genesis that “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”

The Genesis Foundation said in a press release that it was “saddened that she has decided not to attend the Genesis Prize Ceremony in Jerusalem for political reasons. We fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid.”

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev accused the Hollywood star of succumbing to the pressures of the BDS Movement. “Natalie, a Jewish actress who was born in Israel, joins those who see the story of the wondrous success of the rebirth of Israel as a “story of darkness and darkness,” Regev said.

The prize was initially offered to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but the Prime Minister’s Office reportedly intervened fearing political blowback over her sharp criticism of Trump during the election. Instead, RBG was awarded the Prize Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. The $1 million award was granted to Portman in recognition of her commitment to social causes and deep connection to her Jewish and Israeli roots.

Flashback to 2015 — Portman after Netanyahu won re-election for a fourth term: “I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected. I find his racist comments horrific. However… I don’t want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there’s some people who become prominent, and then it’s out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don’t want to do that.” [HollywoodReporter

Danielle Berrin, who has previously interviewed Portman for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, tells us: “Public support for Israel is always a tricky choice for a Hollywood celebrity. Celebrity careers depend on broad public admiration and affection and Israel is a subject that divides. A show of support for the Jewish State can trigger vicious BDS protest, while criticism or distancing of Israel offends many in the Jewish community. It’s typically a lose-lose for a movie star to take a stand.”

“Portman, however, has been consistent in her criticism of the Netanyahu government. But never before has she impugned Israel as a whole or chosen to isolate it culturally. A year and a half ago when she needed to sell tickets to her movie “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” based on the Amos Oz memoir, she was eager to tout her love and connection to the Jewish homeland. So it’s worth asking: How serious is her protest? Portman’s choice to refuse the Genesis Prize will earn her praise in some circles and condemnation in others. But it should concern all of us: When an internationally famous Jerusalem-born Jew prefers to make a political statement than receive a prize, we should all reflect on the question “why” — and what the answer tells us about the Israel we believe in and the Israel we have.”

HOW IT PLAYED: Natalie Portman pulls out of Israel award due to ‘distressing recent events’ there [TheGuardian] • The Genesis Prize Foundation has yet to indicate whether Portman will still receive the prize money despite pulling out of the ceremony [Variety] • Natalie Portman Denounced By Israeli Government Over Decision Not to Attend Awards[HollywoodReporter]

WHAT PORTMAN ALLIES ARE READING — “The Insanity at the Gaza Fence” by Roger Cohen: “I have passed several times through the fence separating the first world of Israel from the rubble-strewn open-air prison of Gaza. It’s a violent transition in a place of unreason. As usual Israel overreaches, an eye for an eyelash, as the Oxford professor and former Israeli soldier Avi Shlaim once observed. Israel has the right to defend its borders, but not to use lethal force against mainly unarmed protesters in the way that has already left 35 Palestinians dead and nearly 1,000 injured. Overreaction is inherent to the existential threat Israel claims, but that is ever less persuasive… The script is familiar: international investigations will follow, inconclusive outcomes, redoubled hatred. Israel wins but loses. Israel haters, and Jew haters, have a field day.” [NYTimes]

AP on today’s protests: “Thousands of Palestinians joined the fourth weekly protest on Gaza’s border with Israel on Friday, some burning tires or flying kites with flaming rags dangling from their tails. Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops firing from across the border fence, health officials said. The protests are part of what organizers, led by Gaza’s ruling Hamas group, have billed as a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel… to culminate in a mass march on May 15. Earlier Friday, Israeli military aircraft had dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence and warning that they endanger their lives if they follow Hamas directives.” [AP]

CAMPUS BEAT — “NYU’s Hamilton Denounces BDS, Acknowledges Racism in Stern at Town Hall” by Mack DeGeurin, Sakshi Venkatraman and Alex Domb: “Dozens of student activists, student government leaders and NYU administrators gathered in room 802 of the Kimmel Center for Student Life on Thursday evening for a public town hall with President Andrew Hamilton… Near the end of the town hall meeting, Hamilton was met with hisses as he vocalized his disagreement with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement… The formal denouncement from Hamilton comes just one week after 51 students groups, led by the Jewish Voice for Peace and NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, joined together in support for the pro-Palestinian cause… Hamilton also announced that he sent a letter to the Israeli government condemning their decision to ban groups that support BDS.” [NYUNews]

“Dennis Ross talks Middle East politics, two-state solution” by Adesuwa Agbonile: “Diplomat Dennis Ross discussed the complexities of peacemaking in the Middle East… on Wednesday evening at Hillel… Ross was invited to campus as part of programming for Israel Week, where Stanford students can engage in a full week of activities related to Israel and Jewish faith… “When I go to my synagogue on Saturday mornings, people come up to me and they say: Can you tell us something good?” Ross said. “And I say, well, if you’re asking about the Middle East, it’s going to be hard to do.” [StandfordDaily]

“U of I invites Dershowitz to free speech forum” by Mark Maxwell: “Included in the list of supercharged issues still simmering at the University of Illinois are the lingering tensions over… the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. The BDS debate regained steam on campus this spring… the university hopes to confront the topic next Thursday night during a free speech forum in an open discussion with outspoken lawyer and constitutional expert Alan Dershowitz.” [IllinoisHomepage]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “D.C. lawmaker who said Jews control the weather visits Holocaust Museum but leaves early” by Peter Jamison: “D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8)… on Wednesday made a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. With him was Rabbi Batya Glazer of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington… The group paused before grainy photos of German troops executing Catholic clergy in Poland by firing squad. “Were they actually manufacturing these weapons?” White asked. Moments later, White was nowhere to be seen. Glazer, the rabbi, texted him to ask his whereabouts. He wrote back that… he had to leave soon for an event in Ward 8. The tour, scheduled to last 90 minutes, was halfway done.”

“White, it turned out, was standing alone on the sidewalk outside the museum… Asked why he left the tour halfway and where he went, he said nothing and held his cellphone to his ear. Asked whether he had reassessed his comments about the Rothschilds in light of what he had just seen, White walked east on Independence Avenue. “This opportunity has given me the chance to meet a lot of great Jews, a lot of people. A lot of good Jews that I’ve never had the chance to meet before,” he said after a long silence.” [WashPost

ISRAEL AT 70 — “Netanyahu says at least six states considering moving embassies to Jerusalem” by Ori Lewis: “In order to promote peace … move your embassies here,” Netanyahu told foreign diplomats at a reception in Jerusalem… “I am pleased to say that there are at least half a dozen countries that are currently talking seriously to us about moving their embassies to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. The first ten embassies to relocate to Jerusalem would receive “preferential treatment.” [Reuters] • Street signs directing drivers toward the new U.S. Embassy are ready to go up in Jerusalem [Pic

REPORT — Romania to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem: “The Romanian government will follow the United States and transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) leader said Thursday.” [YahooNews]

“Romanian President Condemns Cabinet Plan to Move Israel Embassy” by Andra Timu: “Romanian President Klaus Iohannis slammed the government for not consulting him before announcing a plan to move the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Iohannis, who according to the Romanian Constitution leads foreign policy and represents the country abroad, urged the cabinet to refrain from any decision before a thorough assessment.” [Bloomberg]

DAYLIGHT? — “On its 70th Independence Day, Israel frets about whether allies are doing enough to counter Iran” by Noga Tarnopolsky: “Jonathan Schanzer, a senior vice president for research at Washington’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the Trump administration appreciates the threat Iran poses to Israel and to U.S. interests. “But there is still real reticence to make a strategic commitment,” he said. “This is the friction between [Netanyahu] and Trump, despite their genuinely warm ties.” [LATimes]

IRAN DEAL — “Macron, Merkel Set to Visit Trump With Iran Deal Hanging in the Balance” by Felicia Schwartz and Laurence Norman: “Mr. Trump’s meetings with [Emmanuel] Macron on Tuesday and [Angela] Merkel on Friday are among a series of pivotal events in the weeks before May 12… “We hope this state visit will advance things in the right direction,” an aide to Mr. Macron said… Officials involved in the discussions… said they have mostly completed talks at the staff level… “Good progress and almost there,” one senior European diplomat said… “Now, nobody knows what POTUS will decide in the end.”

“European officials say Mr. Macron had hoped to go to Washington with the first set of new European sanctions on Tehran since the nuclear deal was struck… However, talks on the sanctions package have moved slowly. While the measures could advance before May 12, the chances of them being ready for Mr. Macron’s Washington trip next week are slim.” [WSJ

— Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to deliver remarks and discuss the nuclear deal at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday, April 23.

VIEW FROM TEHRAN — “Iran’s Biggest Threat Has Nothing to Do With Trump” by Golnar Motevalli: “With the deal on its nuclear program failing to deliver promised gains, experts in Tehran say a banking crisis poses a bigger economic threat to the country than any decision by Donald Trump to rip up the agreement…  “Solving the banking crisis is the priority for us now, our No. 1 problem, and we have to resolve it,” says Teymur Rahmani, professor of economics at the University of Tehran.” [Bloomberg

MUELLER WATCH — “Rosenstein Tells Trump He’s Not a Target in Mueller, Cohen Probes” by Jennifer Jacobs, Chris Strohm andJennifer Epstein: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or the probe into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen… Rosenstein… offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller.” [Bloomberg]

— “Trump “hasn’t cooled off on” Rod Rosenstein” by Jonathan Swan: “President Trump “hasn’t cooled off on” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein… and could still fire him, according to a source close to Trump… “Trump doesn’t know exactly what to do with [Rosenstein]. They don’t have a clean way to get rid of him. That’s the problem.” But Rosenstein may be “about to be spit-roasted.” [Axios]

“Giuliani to Join Trump’s Legal Team” by Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt: “Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and longtime friend of President Trump, will join the president’s legal team in an effort to “quickly” resolve the special counsel investigation… Mr. Trump will also bring on Jane Serene Raskin and Martin R. Raskin, former federal prosecutors based in Florida, according to Mr. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow.” [NYTimesWashPost]  

David Graham writes… “Rudy Giuliani Isn’t the Big Trump Legal Story: The Raskins are not famous partners at a big firm, but litigators who spend a great deal of time in a courtroom… Giuliani’s brash promise of a negotiated settlement… telegraph a president feeling increasingly confident about the Russia investigation. Hiring Raskin and Raskin sends a different message: that Trump is moving toward getting serious about a very serious investigation.” [TheAtlantic

— “David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami where the Raskins also worked, said the Raskins are very well respected lawyers with a “ton of experience in federal court.” … Weinstein… found it curious that Trump would pick lawyers from South Florida as opposed to New York or Washington, D.C. “It raises the question that he might be looking at vulnerabilities in South Florida,” Weinstein said.” [McClatchy

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Seeking Foreign Money, G.O.P. Donor Pushed for Trump to Golf With Malaysian Premier” by David Kirkpatrick and Mark Mazzetti: “White House aides were worried enough about a visit last year by Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, under investigation by American prosecutors… that he was denied the customary photo in the Oval Office… But that did not stop a top Republican fund-raiser,Elliott Broidy, from seeking to use his White House ties to press for Mr. Trump to play a golf game with Mr. Najib, who had the authority over negotiations for a lucrative Malaysian contract with Mr. Broidy’s private defense company… Mr. Broidy also explored separate plans to force the exit from the United States of a Chinese billionaire and dissident, Guo Wengui, evidently to please Chinese allies in Malaysia while reaping payoffs from both the Chinese and, improbably, the United Arab Emirates.” [NYTimes]

2018 WATCH: “Democrats eye Jewish votes in bid to win House of Representatives” by Michael Wilner: “A survey by the Post found that, among 43 House districts considered toss-ups or leaning Republican, 21 have 10,000 Jewish voters or more – enough to justify the investment of critical campaign dollars, say the operatives, who have preliminarily discussed the plan with leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association.” [JPost]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — “Under Pressure and Embarrassed, Milchan Refused Requests for Luxury Gifts From Netanyahu and His Wife” by Josh Breiner: “You’re humiliating her by making her ask you. Listen, Hadas, it’s not an apartment. Explain to Arnon that if it’s not an apartment, it’s OK to give it. You’re joining the forces against us,” Netanyahu told Hadas Klein, [Arnon] Milchan’s personal assistant, at the beginning of 2016, after Milchan declined a request for gifts by the Netanyahus…” [Haaretz]

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: CBS Investors Can Proceed With Suit Over Sumner Redstone’s Bonuses [Bloomberg] • Cheddar CEO Jon Steinberg on Competing with CNBC, Joining YouTube TV and Launching Cheddar Big News [Decider] • Kushner Cos. Subpoenaed for Information Related to Housing Filings [WSJ]  Karlie Kloss Is Announced as Estee Lauder’s Newest Global Spokesmodel [USMagazine] • Hedge Fund Titans Pull Money From Funds for Huge Tax Bills [Bloomberg]

“Welcome to L.A.’s luxury hotel boom, featuring $20,000 suites and James Bond exotic cars” by Hugo Martin: “L.A. is becoming the place to be again,” said hotelier Beny Alagem, who built the 12-story Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and owns the neighboring five-star Beverly Hilton Hotel. “People like the atmosphere that we created. They like the weather.” [LATimes

“Miami art showdown: How two major new museums stack up” by Mark Ellwood: “The upstart ICA squatted in the historic Moore Building while it awaited completion of its custom-built home, which debuted in December in the nearby Design District. Underwritten by auto magnate Norman Braman and his wife, the 37,500-square-foot complex was master-planned by Spanish firm Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos and features a notable sculpture garden.” [NYPost

“Soros foundations to quit Hungary amid political hostility” by Marton Dunai: “George Soros’ Open Society Foundations will close their office in Budapest and move their eastern European operations to Berlin.” [Reuters]

“Hungary Chief Rabbi resigns as Jews consider reaction to Orbán victory” by Liam Hoare: “Hungary’s chief rabbi, Robert Frölich, has resigned over disagreements within the Neolog movement (the dominant religious tendency among Hungarian Jews) and with Mazsihisz, the federation of Hungarian Jewish communities… Rabbi Frölich’s resignation was a result of internal politics over the future direction of Neolog Judaism, which is positioned theologically between Masorti and Orthodoxy.” [TheJC]

“Poland marks 75th anniversary of uprising in Warsaw Ghetto” by Monika Scislowska and Vanessa Gera: “We bow our heads low to their heroism, their bravery, their determination and courage,” [Polish President Andrzej]Duda told the hundreds of officials, Holocaust survivors and Warsaw residents who gathered Thursday at the city’s Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes. “Most of them died … as they fought for dignity, freedom and also for Poland, because they were Polish citizens,” Duda said.” [ABCNews]

— Abe Foxman emails us… “How sad and disgusting that President Duda would use the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising to insult the memory of the heroes. Polish Jews were selected, segregated, starved, and fought and were murdered as Jews, not as Poles. No Polish legislation will change that. Yes, the Polish people were victims but they were also victimizers. I was saved by a Polish woman, but some of my relatives were killed because they were sold out by their Polish neighbors. Both are truths to be told. President Duda knows better and we expect better from him.”

HOLLYWOOD — “Scooter Braun on the Importance of Paying It Forward, His Upcoming Midem Keynote & Award” by Leila Cobo: “When Scooter Braun organized the One Love Manchester concert in June 2017, he was already fully aware of the “universal change” music had the power to effect. But, on a personal level, he tells Billboard no show he had done before “was as important as what we did in Manchester.” … “I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old and a 1-and-a-half-year-old and I said to my son the other day, “Do you know what daddy does for work?” And he said, “No!” And he looked at me and said, “Daddy, what do you do?” Part of being a parent is trying to instill in your kid things you hope they’ll take on. So I thought about the question my 3-and-a-half-year-old asked me and I was unsure what to say. And I responded with, “Daddy helps people and someday you need to help people too.” [Billboard]

Interview with Michael Lynton, Chairman of Snapchat — by Jordan Taylor and Pippa Lamb: How did you end up investing in Snapchat and ultimately becoming their Chairman in just few years? What was that journey like? Lynton: “Well, we were living at the time in the west side in LA which is where Snap started, and my kids started using it very early when there were very few people using it, and then I started using it, and my wife started noticing how much I started using it even when the kids weren’t around. She wrote Evan Speigel one day over customer support email just saying how much she liked it. And she said [in the email], “If you ever want to talk about it, I’m a big admirer”. She loved the idea that it brought conversation back to the internet with a lack of permanence.”

“What happened then was that Evan responded instantly and was actually over to our house for dinner that night. And at the end of the conversation (the two of them were having a long conversation, I was a fly on the wall) she said “Gee I’d love to be able to be helpful or invest.” He said “Well, it would be helpful, for complicated reasons, but let’s talk more.” Post that, Evan would come and see me twice a month because his offices were right down the street from the studio. He was in Venice and we were in Culver City. And we would walk around the studio lot. And one point he had to raise more money from venture firms, which meant he had to form a board and I joined his board. And subsequently when he decided to take the company public, he needed a chairman, and there I was.” [HarBus]

PROFILE — “CNN’s Jake Tapper Has Emerged as a Staunch Defender of Facts in the Trump Era. So Why Is He Writing Fiction?” by Alexandra Alter: “On Tuesday, Tapper is publishing his first novel, “The Hellfire Club,” a political thriller set in 1954… Mr. Tapper has been toying with the idea of writing a novel since college, and wrote one in his 20s that was never published. About a decade ago, he came up with the idea for a political thriller… Mr. Tapper sold the novel, based on sample chapters and an outline, to Little, Brown shortly after the 2016 election, and spent the next year or so writing and revising it. He mostly wrote at night, sneaking into his study after his kids, who are 8 and 10, went to bed… As he researched the overheated political climate in 1954 — when the country was convulsing over the Cold War, the Red Scare, racial divisions and the McCarthy hearings — Mr. Tapper began to notice parallels to our current hyper partisan era.” [NYTimes

SPORTS BLINK — Dan Senor tweets: “Whoa! New York Jets opener is on 2nd night of Rosh Hashana.” [Twitter

DESSERT — “Israel Is the World’s New Dining Hotspot” by Richard Vines: “Eyal Shani, the TV chef who owns some of the most respected and popular restaurants in Tel Aviv, says the revolution in Israeli food started about 30 years ago, when immigrants started to discover their roots and to explore Arab cooking. “People came to Israel from all around the world but the policy of the government in the beginning was to cut all the memories from Europe and from the Arab countries and to create a new Israel,” he says. “So they created a new Israel but they forgot to create a kitchen for the new Israel, nothing to eat. Now, the Israelis are mixing between the (culinary) fashions that are happening all around the world and cooking their own small memories from their grandmothers.” [Bloomberg]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Swiss physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, Karl Alexander Müller turns 91… Motivational speaker and co-founder of Harris and Schutz, previously president and CEO of Porsche (1981-1986), Peter Schutz turns 88… Chairman of the media networks division of Activision Blizzard, he previously held high-ranking roles at NFL Network, ESPN and ABC, Steve Bornstein turns 66… Immigrants’ rights activist and professor at Salem State University, she is the eldest daughter of Noam Chomsky, Aviva Chomsky turns 61… Host of The Steve Malzberg Show, a news and opinion show on Newsmax TV, Steve Malzberg turns 59… President and executive director of the DC-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, Marc Rotenberg turns 58… Entrepreneur, philanthropist, semi-professional race car driver and restaurateur, previously president and chairman of the Trust Company of New Jersey, Alan Wilzigturns 53… Television personality and game show host, J.D. Roth (born as James David Weinroth) turns 50… Israeli jazz bassist, composer, singer and arranger, Avishai Cohen turns 48… British film director Sarah Gavronturns 48… Atlanta-based Southeast Regional Director of AIPAC, Elliott G. Mendes turns 37… News reporter for the Washington Examiner, Kyle Feldscher turns 30… Facilitator, coach and workshop organizer, Daniela Kate Plattner turns 29… Political polling analyst at the DC-based Feldman Group, David Mariutto turns 28… R&B, soul, pop singer and teen actress, at 13 years old she was the runner-up on the second season of “The X Factor,”Carly Rose Sonenclar turns 19… Mr. REALITY Yaniv Rivlin… Associate at Tishman Realty Corporation, Alex Berman… Diane Kahan… Kelly McCormish… Joseph Gettinger 

SATURDAY: Comedienne, screenwriter, film director and actress, Elaine May (born Elaine Iva Berlin) turns 86… British chemist and professor at the University of Cambridge, Sir Alan Roy Fersht turns 75… Former White House Chief of Staff, now serving on several corporate, cultural, educational and volunteer boards, commissions and task forces, Kenneth Duberstein turns 74… Award winning folklorist, author, poet and editor of dozens of books, Howard Schwartz turns 73… Emergency physician for Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City, California, Joseph Edward Beezy turns 70… UCSB mathematician, an early winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Michael Hartley Freedman turns 67… Russian billionaire, now also an Israeli citizen, he co-founded the Russian Jewish Congress, the Genesis Prize and the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Mikhail Fridman turns 54… Attorney Scott D. Yonover turns 54… Art collector and dealer, who together with his father and brother are reputed to own $1 billion of art including over 1,000 pieces by Andy Warhol, Alberto “Tico” Mugrabi turns 48… Voice actress, whose career included the voice of Regina “Reggie” Rocket on Nickelodeon’s Rocket Power, Shayna Bracha Fox turns 34… Once the top ranked collegiate female tennis player in the US and currently the head women’s tennis coach at the University of North Florida, Audra Marie Cohen turns 32… Writer, magazine editor and actress, she is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online Rookie Magazine, aimed primarily at teenage girls, Tavi Gevinson turns 22… VP of operations at HEED, an event platform of WME-IMG and AGT, after 4 years as executive director of Israel Birthright Excel, Ifat Bechor… Engagement associate and Ezra Fellow at the University of Chicago Hillel, Joshua Gibbs… Marketing and recruitment associate at Birthright Israel, Alexandra Cohen… Irv Silberberg… Robert Kaufman… Howard Rosenblum

SUNDAY: Real estate developer and principal owner of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf turns 68… Calgary-based businessman and philanthropist, CEO of of Balmon Investments, Alvin Libin turns 87… Actor and later one of Hollywood’s most prolific producers, Mark Damon (born Alan Harris) turns 85… Co-founder of Human Rights Watch, formerly national director of the ACLU (1970-1978), president of George Soros’s Open Society Institute (1993-2012), Aryeh Neier turns 81… English journalist and former anchor of of BBC Television’s Newsnight, Adam Eliot Geoffrey Raphaelturns 80… Former US Poet Laureate and winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Louise Elisabeth Glück turns 75… Conductor and professor of music at Boston University, Joshua Rifkin turns 74… Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin since 2011, he has served as mayor twice before (1973-1979 and again 1989-1997), Paul R. Soglin turns 73… British economist and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Herbert Stern turns 72… Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania (1995-1999), Jon D. Fox turns 71… New Zealand native, managing director and CEO of the Commonwealth Bank Group, an 1,100 branch bank based in Australia, Ian Narev turns 51… NYC-based attorney, member of Kriss & Feuerstein LLP, Jerold C. Feuerstein turns 50… Chicago-based reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Shayndi Raice turns 36… Intern at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice and teaching fellow at Masa Israel Journey, Zachary Krooks turns 23… Competitive ice dancer, Elliana Pogrebinsky turns 20… Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The Washington Post, Sari Horwitz… Israeli columnist, contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and Jewish Journal blogger, Shmuel Rosner... Edward Lifshitz

Apr
19

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Daily Kickoff: Israelis Gal Gadot & Adam Neumann on Time 100 | Inside Rexit | Vaynerchuk & Oseary team up | The men smoking cigars with Michael Cohen

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TALK OF THE TOWN — “Blackstone’s Epic Swap Trade Intrudes on Friendly Lunch With Blankfein” by Sridhar Natarajan and Nabila Ahmed: “Lloyd Blankfein and Jon Gray, two of the most powerful figures on Wall Street, sat down for lunch last month, just as tensions between their firms were ratcheting up. It was a friendly chat between Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Gray, heir apparent of Blackstone Group LP, that veered toward a thorny matter. At issue: a controversial trade involving credit-default swaps that has riveted players in the vast derivatives market — and set Goldman and Blackstone on a collision course… The gathering was a routine relationship-builder between one of the world’s most influential investment banks and one of the industry’s most important clients — but in the $11 trillion global market for credit derivatives, it’s taken on the weight of a state lunch.” [Bloomberg]

RELEASED THIS AM — TIME 100 Most Influential: Among those named on this year’s list include Israeli actress Gal Gadot, Yuri Milner writing about Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Sheryl Sandberg on New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, and finally Salesforce’s Marc Benioff writing about WeWork’s Adam Neumann: “By enabling the next generation to come together to work and play in a whole new way, Adam shows how we can “make a life, not just a living.” See the full list[Time100]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Trump’s “great man” play on North Korea” by Jonathan Swan: “Trump came into office thinking he could be the historic deal maker to bring peace to the Middle East. He’s stopped talking about that. There’s very little point. The peace deal looks dead and cremated, with the Palestinians excoriating the U.S. nonstop since Trump announced he was moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. But Trump wants to sign his name even larger into the history books, and he views North Korea as his moment.” [Axios]

FIRST LOOK — “Inside Rex Tillerson’s Ouster” by Ronan Farrow: “The day I met with [Tillerson], they were still reeling from an announcement [Nikki] Haley had made about plans to withhold U.S. funding for U.N.R.W.A., the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. Tillerson hadn’t been consulted. In a series of tense e-mails, Haley’s press office told Tillerson staffers that it had checked with the White House instead. Tensions between Secretaries of State and U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations were nothing new, but this enmity seemed to run deeper. “Holy s**t,” the source close to the White House said, “I’ve never seen anything like the way he’s treated her . . . it’s shocking.” Tillerson’s “rage” toward Haley had drawn the disapproval of even the President, the source added.”

“When Tillerson prevailed in reinstating some of the humanitarian funds for U.N.R.W.A. that Haley had sought to withhold, press items discussing potential negative repercussions for [Jared] Kushner’s Middle East peace efforts began appearing. A State Department official with knowledge of the situation accused Kushner of planting them. The source close to the White House said that Kushner had attempted to work with Tillerson and met with resistance. “Here’s what I saw: a President who surprised [Kushner] on the spot and said, ‘You’re doing Mideast peace,’ after the campaign. A guy who tried to brief Rex every single week but could never even get a call back or a meeting… And it wasn’t just Jared. It was many people across the government, including fellow Cabinet members, who complained.”

When I asked Tillerson whether he had been frustrated when responsibilities were handed to Kushner, he was surprisingly passive. “Uh, no,” he said. “It was pretty clear in the beginning the President wanted him to work on the Middle East peace process, and so we carved that out.” He shrugged. “That’s what the President wanted to do.”

“To the bitter end, Tillerson seemed passionate about fighting stories of his ouster. Surrendering Middle East peace he greeted with a shrug… The messy division of labor between Tillerson and Kushner had policy consequences. When Tillerson began to work as a mediator in a dispute that saw Saudi Arabia and a number of Gulf states cut off relations with Qatar… Trump veered off course, issuing a vociferous, off-the-cuff takedown of Qatar… Kushner, according to White House sources, had sided with the Saudis based on his close relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman… Middle East policy had been given to both men, and it appeared that Kushner… was winning the tug-of-war.” [NewYorker]

TURTLE BAY — “The U.N. ambassador made crystal clear after initially being blamed for ‘confusion’ on Russia sanctions that she will not tolerate public humiliation quietly” by Elaina Johnson and Burgess Everett: “At the center of the story, this incident will raise questions as to whether she’s speaking for the administration when she speaks at the United Nations,” said Ely Ratner, who served as deputy national security adviser for Vice President Joe Biden. “That’s something that has haunted Cabinet-level officials since the beginning of the administration.” [Politico]

Aaron David Miller emails us… “Haley has a lot of support. Marginalizing her won’t be easy. If it happens it will be because Mike Pompeo emerges as the central force in Trump Administration’s foreign policy, and Haley’s influence — such as it is — diminishes.”

ISRAEL AT 70 — “Israel marks 70 years as a nation as new and old challenges lurk” by Jean-Luc Renaudie: “At the traditional Jerusalem torch-lighting ceremony kicking off what Israelis call Independence Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed what he called “real seeds of peace” he said were beginning to sprout among some of Israel’s Arab neighbours. He did not elaborate… “Our hand is outstretched in peace to all of our neighbours who want peace,” Netanyahu said… “And to our enemies who think that we are a passing phenomenon, I have news for you: In 70 years from now you will find here a country seven times stronger than what we have done so far. This is just the beginning!” [YahooNews]

Trump, Netanyahu exchanged congratulatory messages on Twitter to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary. “Best wishes to Prime Minister Netanyahu and all of the people of Israel on the 70th Anniversary of your Great Independence. We have no better friends anywhere,” Trump tweeted. “Looking forward to moving our Embassy to Jerusalem next month!” The White House later released a video with footage of Trump’s Israel trip — including Ivanka Trump’s visit to the Western Wall — and his meetings with the Israeli Prime Minister. It ends with ‘Yom Atzmaut Sameach’ in Hebrew.

Netanyahu replied in a tweet“Thank you, President Trump! We too have no better friend than America. We are greatly looking forward to your moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital.”

SIGHTINGS — U.S. Ambassador David Friedman was spotted in attendance at the start of the torch-lighting ceremony [Pic] • Friedman later tweeted: “At Mount Herzl tonight (Israel’s Arlington Cemetery), Israelis abruptly shifted from mourning their losses to celebrating the miracle of their 70th anniversary. As King David said from Jerusalem 3000 years ago (Psalm 30), from tears at night come joy in the morning.”

— Sheldon and Miriam Adelson attended a Yom Ha’atzmaot event earlier today at Hilton in Tel Aviv hosted by Israel Bonds [Pic] Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who is leading a delegation of 40 UN Ambassadors, spoke at the event [Pic] h/t Zach Ehrlich

— Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein at the annual Independence Day event at the President’s residence in Jerusalem, awarding the Medal of Excellence to 120 soldiers and officers of the Israel Defense Forces. [Pic

RJC’s Matt Brooks emails us from Israel: “It’s incredibly meaningful to be here at this time. The atmosphere is electric and the whole city of Jerusalem seems to have collectively gathered in the streets with everyone dancing and singing, and having an incredible time. Being here now gives me tremendous pride about how Israel has evolved into such a successful and vibrant nation, a beacon of freedom in a challenging neighborhood, and the eternal home for the Jewish people. I, along with a very large delegation from the RJC and other political, Congressional and organizational leaders, will be returning in a few weeks to continue the celebration when the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is opened formally! It will indeed be historic.”

Daniel Gordis writes… Israel’s First 70 Years Have Surprised the World: As the modern Israeli state celebrates 70 years, the prevailing sentiment is one of extraordinary accomplishment. American Jewish leaders were incensed in 1948 when Ben-Gurion came to the U.S. and spoke about the fledgling state as the new center of the Jewish world; today, that status is nowhere in doubt.” [BloombergView]

TALK OF THE REGION — “Iran’s Moves in Syria Raise Risk of Conflict With Israel” by Yaroslav Trofimov: “In Israeli assessments, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other units in Syria have now switched their primary mission from preventing a collapse of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to preparing for a future confrontation with Israel. “They’ve succeeded in the war for Assad to survive. Now their first priority has changed and Israel is the target,” said retired Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, who served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser from 2011 to 2013. “They want to prevent Israel from reacting in any way to the next stage, in which Iran is building its nuclear capability.” [WSJ

ON THE HILL — Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced the Disarm Hezbollah Act (HR 5540), a bipartisan bill that instructs the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to investigate Hezbollah’s capabilities and the ways Hezbollah raises and distributes funds in the territory under UNIFIL’s mandate. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Mr. Kinzinger to improve our intelligence community’s understanding of a serious ongoing threat on the doorstep of one of America’s most vital allies,” Suozzi said in a statement.

“Lawmakers worry about securing U.S. goals in Syria as Trump looks for the exit” by Karen DeYoung: “In a House hearing, members repeatedly challenged the State Department’s top officials on the Middle East and Russia to explain how the administration planned to reach its stated goals of defeating the Islamic State, building a stable Syria without President Bashar al-Assad, and keeping his Russian and Iranian backers from taking over… A. Wess Mitchell, assistant secretary of state for Europe, said that “in the days and weeks ahead, the United States and our allies will degrade and defeat ISIS, support a stable Syria, and limit the spread of Iranian malign influence.” [WashPost]

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) to Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield: “Has Iran violated the letter of the JCPOA?” Satterfield: “The IAEA has not found significant violations…” Zeldin: “I am not asking the IAEA, I am asking you.” Satterfield: “That is what we rely upon. The IAEA has not found significant violations.” Zeldin: “So is it the State Department’s position that Iran has not violated the letter of the JCPOA?” Satterfield: “That is the judgment of the IAEA.” When further pressed about publicly known reports that indicate Iran is possibly violating the terms of the deal, Satterfield repeatedly stated he’d only respond in writing. [Video

Eli Lakes writes… “Democrats Should Give Pompeo a Chance to Fix the Iran Deal: [Pompeo] was much closer to Senate Democrats on the Iran deal than he was to Trump. Tillerson was able to delay Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal. But along the way, he lost Trump’s trust… Pompeo still has a chance. As a hawk who supported decertification inside Trump’s cabinet, Pompeo has more credibility with Trump if a deal can be forged. Trump, after all, chose Pompeo to help prepare for the North Korea summit.” [BloombergView]

Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg in the WSJ… “Use Iran Sanctions to Stop Assad: The U.S. and Europe have to agree on fixes to the nuclear deal by May 12… If they can’t agree on a fix, the U.S. can offer a face-saving gesture to win European support for a maximum pressure campaign targeting Mr. Assad. Rather than labeling the reimposition of sanctions on Iran’s central bank a way of nixing the nuclear deal, the president should announce the move as a response to Iranian behavior in Syria…  Instead of making Iran look like a diplomacy-loving victim of American unilateralism, Tehran would have to defend its odious Syria policy.” [WSJ]

Dov Zakheim writes… “Trump Needs a Plan for Israel’s Confrontation With Iran: A complete U.S. withdrawal from Syria could result in two outcomes: one bad, the other worse… The bad outcome would be an Israeli preemptive strike on all Iranian forces in Syria. Hezbollah would certainly retaliate on behalf of Iran, and the Iranians would certainly fire a missile barrage at Israel as well… An even worse outcome would be a preemptive strike on Israel by Hezbollah and the Iranians, in coordination with Hamas, with Moscow’s support… Unless his Defense Department advisors can bring him around, the United States may well come to rue the day that it found itself not only once again rushing to the aid of Israel but fully engaged in yet another war in the Middle East.” [ForeignPolicy

JARED INSIDER — “Kushner’s prison-reform push hits bipartisan resistance” by Elana Schor and Heather Caygle: “[Jared] Kushner was given an expansive portfolio early in the Trump administration, from leading Middle East peace talks to overseeing a new Office of American Innovation, but he has yet to notch a significant policy win. Passage of a prison reform bill could change his fortunes, but the odds remain long… “He has very much of an interest in it [because of] his father,” [Rep. Doug] Collins said, noting he’s been discussing the legislation with Kushner for more than a year…” [Politico] • Key Dem bails on prison reform meeting with Kushner [Axios

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Cohen Would Turn Against President if Charged, Counselor Warned Trump” by Joe Palazzolo, Michael Rothfeld and Michael Siconolfi: “One of President Donald Trump’s longtime legal advisers said he warned the president in a phone call Friday that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and close friend, would turn against the president and cooperate with federal prosecutors if faced with criminal charges. Mr. Trump made the call seeking advice from Jay Goldberg, who represented Mr. Trump in the 1990s and early 2000s. Mr. Goldberg said he cautioned the president not to trust Mr. Cohen. On a scale of 100 to 1, where 100 is fully protecting the president, Mr. Cohen “isn’t even a 1,” he said he told Mr. Trump.” [WSJ]

— “Two sources close to the president said people in Trump’s inner circle have in recent days been actively discussing the possibility that Michael Cohen… might flip… “That’s what they’ll threaten him with: life imprisonment,” said Alan Dershowitz… “They’re going to threaten him with a long prison term and try to turn him into a canary that sings.”” [Politico]

“Who are the mystery men photographed sharing cigars with Michael Cohen?” by Ali Dukakis and Lucien Bruggeman: “Among those photographed sharing cigars with Cohen outside his Upper East Side hotel on Friday were two men who appeared to be Rotem Rosen and Jerry Rotonda as identified by ABC News. Rosen and Rotonda are co-founders of a Manhattan-based real estate group called MRR Development… In 2007, Rosen, an Israeli-American businessman, married the daughter of Alex Sapir, who developed the Trump SoHo building in Manhattan, at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort… A year later, an invitation to their son’s bris ceremony included Donald Trump and Jared Kushner on the guest list. In 2013, Rosen attended the infamous Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow…” [ABCNews]

2018 WATCH — “Grayson Says He’s Running, but Not Where” by Eric Garcia:“Democratic firebrand former Rep. Alan Grayson said he is running for Congress again but has not given indication where he will run. The former Democratic congressman raised $192,000 in the first quarter of 2018, according to Orlando Rising, and reported having $694,967 in cash on hand at the beginning of April… Grayson has officially filed to run in Florida’s 11th District, which is held by Rep. Daniel Webster, who beat Grayson in 2010 during his first tenure in the House.” [RollColl

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Marc Lasry’s Avenue Capital to launch ‘impact’ investment fund, source says [Reuters] • Schottenstein’s Second Avenue Capital Partners Launches New Middle Market Lending Platform [ABLAdvisor] • EU to fine Patrick Drahi’s Altice for jumping gun on PT Portugal deal [Reuters] • Larry Silverstein plans Israel debut with $200M bond offering [TheRealDeal]  Steve Cohen Donates Dung-Adorned Art That Giuliani Tried to Ban [Bloomberg] • Cosmetics tycoon Bobbi Brown striking out on her own again [Scotsman]

“Gary Vaynerchuk Joins Forces With Guy Oseary for Digital Marketing Collaboration” by Dave Brooks: “Guy Oseary’s Maverick Management is teaming up with Gary Vaynerchuk’s communications firm VaynerMedia to create the Vayner/Maverick Music Content Project… The Vayner/Maverick Music Content Project will focus on developing long and short-form videos, episodic series and other activations for sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, pairing talent with companies for unique story-telling and collaboration, with Vaynerchuk describing an artist’s reach and fame as “the ultimate arbitrage in our society… Besides developing content, the Vayner/Maverick Music Content Project will focus on analyzing fan data and platform preference for artists while developing content specific to an artist’s audience.” [Billboard]

“Kevin Warsh and Stan Druckenmiller Just Invested In a Cryptocurrency That’s Designed to Be Boring” by Julie Verhage: “A group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists and Wall Street fixtures are spending $133 million on a cryptocurrency that’s boring by design. The concept is called Basis. The startup behind it wants to create an “algorithmic central bank,” inspired by economic principles that underpin fiat currency to adjust supply and minimize price swings… Basis said Wednesday that it sold $133 million in a pre-sale coin offering to the venture capital arms of Alphabet Inc. and Bain Capital, as well as Andreessen Horowitz, Foundation Capital and Lightspeed. Stanley Druckenmiller, a billionaire hedge fund manager, and Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, also bought in.” [Bloomberg]

INTERVIEW — “Marissa Mayer Is Still Here: The former Yahoo chief is renting Google’s original office, where “there’s a lot of good juju,” and planning her next act. She just won’t say what it is” by David Gelles: Yahoo had to deal with some nasty shareholder activist campaigns, and several readers asked about your thoughts on activism. Were there upsides, or was it more of a distraction? One of the more tragic cases of Yahoo is the Alibaba stake. Both Carl Icahn’s campaign and some of the people who were part of Dan Loeb’s campaign really wanted a commitment to see that stake sold. And Yahoo sold half of that stake in a $35 billion market cap for Alibaba, eroding tens of billions of dollars of upside. So certainly that was not positive. Sometimes that shortsightedness of wanting to get a return quickly can cause you to miss a much bigger gain.” [NYTimes]

CAMPUS BEAT — “Barnard SGA referendum on divestment from companies with ties to Israel passes with 64 percent support” by Aubri Juhasz: “Barnard students have voted in favor of a referendum asking the Student Government Association to write a letter to the administration asking them to divest from eight companies that “profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians,” SGA announced in an email to students… Of the 1153 students that voted on the referendum, 64.3 percent voted in its favor.” [ColumbiaSpectator]

“Palestinian students, supporters occupy SA office to protest canceled divestment vote” by Sarah Roach: “Dozens of [George Washington University] students frustrated with the cancellation of a highly anticipated Student Association Senate debate about a pro-Palestinian divestment resolution packed inside the SA’s Marvin Center office for a sit-in Monday night… SA leadership called off the senate meeting earlier Mondayabout 10 minutes before it was set to begin amid concerns for the safety of senators and attendees… The resolution called for the University to divest from nine companies supporters said profited from Palestinian suffering.”[GWHatchet]

ACROSS THE POND — “Sadiq Khan challenges Corbyn to ‘walk the walk’ on antisemitism” by Pippa Crerar: “The London mayor singled out his predecessor Ken Livingstone, saying it was “difficult to believe” that he had not been expelled nearly two years on from his “clearly antisemitic” remarks. [Khan] issued a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn to “walk the walk” on tackling antisemitism within the party, after the Labour leader instructed his new general secretary, Jennie Formby, to make it a priority… Khan told the Guardian that he had spoken to Jewish Londoners who “genuinely believe” that the Labour party was not for them because it had failed to deal with the problem effectively.” [TheGuardian]

“Merkel condemns attack on 2 men wearing skullcaps in Germany” by Kirsten Grieshaber: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesdaysharply condemned a street assault in Berlin on two young men wearing Jewish skullcaps that has stoked the debate about anti-Semitism in the country. In a surprising twist, however, the victim of the attack, who identified himself on Israeli television as Adam Armoush, later told German TV that he wasn’t Jewish, but an Israeli from an Arab family. Armoush told Deutsche Welle Television that he wore the skullcap to make a point to a friend who said it was risky to do so in Germany. “I was saying it’s really safe and I wanted to prove it, but it ended like that,” he said.” [AP

“Four Strangers on Facebook Pulled Off Man’s Escape From War Half a World Away in Yemen” by Sandra Sobieraj Westfall: “Mohammed Al Samawi, a Muslim who, in 2015, was targeted with death threats from extremists in Yemen for his interfaith peace work with Jews and Christians… He tapped out a desperate appeal to everyone he knew on Facebook: “Can you help me at all?” Half a world away, New York City bioengineer Daniel Pincus, 39; San Francisco social entrepreneur Justin Hefter, 29; and humanitarian activists Megan Hallahan, 38 and Natasha Westheimer, 27, then based in Israel, separately hit “reply.” “And just like that, my own personal Justice League came together,” Al Samawi writes in his new memoir of the ordeal, The Fox Hunt (which is already being made into a movie by La La Landproducer Marc Platt).” The four strangers spent the next 13 days working every contact and friend-of-a-friend they had around the world, eventually coordinating as team over Skype and improbably shepherding Al Samawi through a harrowing escape to the United States.” [PeopleMag

“The holiday village run by spies” by Raffi Berg: “In 1977… Ferede Aklum, joined a wave of non-Jewish Ethiopian refugees who crossed the border into Sudan to escape civil war and a deepening food crisis. He sent letters to relief agencies, pleading for help, and one found its way to the Mossad… Then Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin… instructed the intelligence agency to act. Located by a Mossad agent, Ferede channelled messages back to his community… What happened next is the subject of a soon-to be released Hollywood film called Red Sea Diving Resort. Filmed in Namibia and South Africa, it tells the story of the operation and the village. Though while it is based on true events, some of the scenes are fictitious.” [BBC]

“Why Rahm Emanuel is banned from discussing ‘The Deer Hunter’ with his brothers” by Elvia Malagon: “Don’t get Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his brothers started on “The Deer Hunter.” The 1978 movie staring Robert De Niro is such a sore subject among Emanuel and his brothers — Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel and medical ethics professor Zeke Emanuel — that their spouses banned them from further discussing the accuracy of the movie’s depiction of the Vietnam War, Emanuel revealed to Anthony Ponce on an upcoming episode of “Backseat Rider.” “If either one would be sitting here, they’d be calling me an idiot,” Emanuel told Ponce. “That’s what they’d be saying. That’s how we are.”” [ChicagoTribune]

‘SHELDON THE SHADCHAN’ — How Pamela Anderson and Shmuley Boteach met: “The unlikely duo first got together in a Malibu, Calif., coffeehouse in 2016, after being introduced by a mutual friend, the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is a neighbor of Anderson’s in Malibu.” [NYPost]

SPORTS BLINK — JI-ers in the news… “How Cory Booker’s ‘failed’ football career at Stanford shaped his political future” by Jonathan Tamari: “On his gleaming resumé, Booker’s college football career stands out as an unusual bullet point. Unlike at most stops in his life, the onetime Stanford class president, Rhodes scholar, Newark mayor, and political celebrity who became a senator at 44 never achieved star status as a Stanford athlete. He was relegated to the background, a role player on a talented team… Even in a shirt and tie, Booker remains a burly presence behind his Senate desk, and now calls himself “the most overrated football player I think in the history of high school football.” [Philly

— “Cleo Wade Is Everybody’s BFF” by Alex Hawgood: “Ms. Wade blushed when the topic of her romantic life was brought up. She has long refused to discuss her relationship with Mr. Booker, once telling New York magazine, “I don’t confirm or deny anything in the romantic realm.” After much prodding during her interview this time, she finally said, “We’re very close, and I consider him family.” In an interview last September, Mr. Booker said he has “been a bachelor too long” and that he was “hopeful” a marriage to Ms. Wade was in the cards.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Head of strategic human resources at Elliott Management Corporation, philanthropist and director of The Paul E. Singer Foundation,Terry Kassel… US diplomat, former President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Peter Tarnoff turns 81… Literary theorist, legal scholar, author and public intellectual, has taught at Cardozo School of Law, Florida International University and University of Illinois at Chicago, Stanley Fish turns 80… Israeli criminal defense attorney who also served as the Attorney General of Israel (2010-2016), Yehuda Weinstein turns 74… Comedienne, actress and mental health campaigner in the UK, Ruby Wax (born Ruby Wachs in Chicago) turns 65… Investor and hedge fund manager, Jacob Ezra Merkinturns 65… Overland Park, Kansas resident, Gloria Elyachar turns 58… Angel investment fund manager, who during his 12-year NFL career (1987-1998) won three Super Bowls, Harris Barton turns 54…

Law professor at Arizona State University, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, former State Department official and an expert on Iran’s nuclear program, Orde Félix Kittrie turns 54… Jerusalem-born historian, author, screenwriter, political commentator and senior lecturer at the Hebrew University, Gadi Taub turns 53… Israeli entrepreneur, best known as the founder and former CEO of Better Place, an electric car company that raised $850 million yet was liquidated in a 2013 bankruptcy, Shai Agassi turns 50… French stand-up comedian and actor, Gad Elmaleh turns 47… Award-winning, film, televison and theatre actor, his official bar mitzvah was in 2015 at age 37, James Franco turns 40… Tel Aviv-born, now living in Toronto, entrepreneur, philanthropist, CEO and co-founder of Klick Health (a digital marketing firm in the medical field), Leerom Segal turns 39… Assistant Director of Campus Affairs at AJC: Global Jewish Advocacy, Seffi Kogen turns 27… Arthur Cohn… Jake Gerber

Apr
18

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Daily Kickoff: Israel at 70 — Jeffrey Goldberg on the Jewish community’s dilemma | Women’s March Leader: Boycott Starbucks over ADL partnership

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HEARD LAST NIGHT — Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) moderated a discussion with Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic, and Bret Stephens, contributing columnist for The New York Times, about the lessons Israel has learned over the past 70 years. The event titled “Israel at 70: Beyond the Headlines” was held at Beth Tfiloh Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. [Pic]

Goldberg on the community’s dilemma: “If you are on the Right, you say it’s the Iranian axis that poses an existential threat to Israel. If you are on the Left, you say it’s not that; it’s Israel’s inability to come to an agreement with the Palestinians so that it remains a Jewish majority and democratic state… You know, it’s the difficulty of being Jewish. There are multiple demands on your attention and multiple demands on your morality. It’s not just about surviving, it’s not just about preventing a Holocaust. It’s also about behaving in way that also makes you proud to be Jewish. This is the dilemma in our community that people are going to the two extremes of saying the problems of Israel are solely external, this Iranian Hezbollah threat, or that the problems are solely internal, Israel’s unwillingness to grapple with the Palestinian issue. I think there are arguments to be made on both sides.”

–Side note: Goldberg tells us a lot of his thinking around the aforementioned dilemma has been influenced by conversations with Yossi Klein Halevi, author of the upcoming book: Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.

Sen. Cardin asked Goldberg if he agreed with the Washington Post Op-Ed from this week titled, “Partisanship is compromising our special relationship with Israel.” Goldberg: “It’s interesting. The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was just in America. I went to a couple of events with him, I met with him as did Bret I think. What was interesting about these events is that there were no Democrats at all at these dinners, it was all Republicans and I was thinking to myself, that if we’re not careful, I’m seeing the future of US-Israel relations in the current US-Saudi relationship. I’m afraid we’re moving in that direction. The key to Israel’s success in American politics has been that it’s not a partisan issue.”

Bret Stephens on new National Security Adviser John Bolton: “I’ve known John for many years, he’s whip-smart and nothing like the caricature of being out of control. I’m happy with the Pompeo-Bolton combination because one of my fears is that Trump’s fundamental instincts are isolationist and they can temper that.”

To conclude the conversation, Beth Tfiloh’s Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg asked the panelists: “Come January 2020, will Donald Trump be the President of the United States and why do you feel that way?”

Stephens: “Donald Trump will be the impeached and soon to be re-elected President of the United States.”

Goldberg: “I thought Hillary Clinton was going to be President until about 11:10PM on election night so you don’t want to get predictions from me.”

Cardin: “I have confidence in the American people. I really do. I don’t think Donald Trump represents the Republican Party. I believe the Republican Party will nominate a different person for president in 2020.”

ISRAEL AT 70 — Israel will kick off its 70th-anniversary celebrations today, beginning at sundown with the annual torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl (1:00PM ET). Israel’s Prime Minister will attend the ceremony for the first time since 1998 and light a torch on behalf of all the Israeli governments since its founding, and then deliver remarks. [Livestream]

“Israel Celebrates Its 70th Israeli Style: With Rancor and Bickering” by Isabel Kershner: “Israel’s landmark 70th anniversary celebration… was meant to be a stunning display of unity that transcends the usual divisions and cacophony of life here. But the ceremony… has already been marred by weeks of unseemly politicking and almost farcical twists and turns… Much of the rancor has been over Mr. Netanyahu’s role in what is traditionally a nongovernmental ceremony run by the speaker of Parliament… Just one day before the event, the fight was still on over how many words Mr. Netanyahu would get to speak as opposed to the Knesset speaker, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein. As of Tuesday evening, Mr. Edelstein was to be allowed 700 words, and Mr. Netanyahu 500.” [NYTimes]

“Intel CEO, and 300 of his drones, to attend Israel’s independence celebrations” by Shoshanna Solomon: “The chief executive officer of Intel Corp., Brian Krzanich, will join Israel for Wednesday night’s celebrations… As part of the show on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, Intel’s Shooting Star drones… will light up the Jerusalem skies with star-like images of the Star of David, the peace dove, the walls of Jerusalem and Theodor Herzl, along with music. The drones… are equipped with LED bulbs and are able create more than four billion color combinations.” [ToI] • Israel at 70: Satisfaction and grim disquiet share the stage [ABCNews]

SCENE ON THE HILL — The Israeli-American Council hosted around 60 Republican and Democratic members of Congress during a luncheon yesterday at the Library of Congress to mark the 70th birthday of the state of Israel. Featured guests included House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL). [Pic]

SPOTTED: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN); IAC’s Director of Policy and Gov’t Affairs Abigail Cable, IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet, Alex Shively, AIPAC’s Marvin Feuer, Adam and Gila Milstein, Sara Aronson, Sarah Stern, Shawn Evenhaim, Jake Kastan, Jonathan Day, Israeli Embassy’s Reuven Azar, White House’s Paul Teller, Nick Muzin, Yossie Hollander, David Milstein, Naty Saidoff, Gilly Arie.

According to a tipster, prior to the lunch Congressman Joe Wilson hosted a small private reception featuring NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers, Lee Zeldin, Mike Gallagher, Adam Milstein, along with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. The discussion centered around Republican efforts to keep the House in 2018.

Israeli writer Amos Oz: Trump did one thing that every other country should also do: “I don’t know what will happen in Jerusalem but I know what should happen. Every country in the world should follow the example of president Trump and move the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But simultaneously there should be an embassy of all countries in the world in East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine.” [DW]

Shmuel Rosner writes… “The Luckiest Jews in History: Being the luckiest Jew ever is a blessing and a burden. The more we have, the more obligated we are to guard it and the more afraid we are to lose it… Not even the lucky Jew can ignore [the] challenges that hover like clouds over the future of Jewish sovereignty and success.” [NYTimes

REPORT — “Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump mull attending Jerusalem embassy opening” by Raphael Ahren: “Kushner, one of Trump’s top aides, and his wife… have been asked to represented the US administration at the celebrations surrounding the embassy inauguration, according to officials in Jerusalem and Washington. However, the Jewish power couple has not finalized travel plans, the officials added.” [ToI]

PROFILE — “The PR Guru Behind Trump’s Mouthpieces Speaks” by Lacey Rose: “Tucked away on the 12th floor of a Flatiron-area office building lies the publicity firm founded by former Democratic operative Matthew Hiltzik. Until November 2016, the 22-person Hiltzik Strategies was best known for having represented such news-magnet stars as Katie Couric, Justin Bieber and Glenn Beck. Then Trump happened, and suddenly two of Hiltzik’s PR proteges, Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel, became key White House confidants of the president and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, respectively… “They have different strengths,” says Hiltzik… “But they both go about their business with humility and keep the focus on their clients, colleagues and principals instead of making it about themselves.” … Asked whether either might return to Hiltzik Strategies, he laughs. “I probably can’t afford them.”” [HollywoodReporter]

DRIVING THE DAY — “White House makes first legislative move on prison reform” by Stef W. Kight and Jonathan Swan: “The Trump administration will get behind a criminal justice proposal for the first time when Jared Kushner meets with lawmakers to push for a bill to rehabilitate prisoners through educational programs, vocational training and therapy to reduce recidivism rates… The bill, Collins-Jeffries, is expected to get a vote in the House Judiciary Committee next week.” [Axios]

TOP TALKER — “Sanctions Flap Erupts Into Open Conflict Between Haley and White House” by Peter Baker, Julie Hirschfeld Davis andMaggie Haberman: “It was not the first time Mr. Trump has yelled at the television over something he saw Ms. Haley saying. This time, however, the divergence has spilled into public in a remarkable display of discord that stems not just from competing views of Russia but from larger questions of political ambition, jealousy, resentment and loyalty. The rift erupted into open conflict on Tuesday when a White House official blamed Ms. Haley’s statement about sanctions on “momentary confusion.” That prompted her to fire back, saying that she did not “get confused.” According to several officials, the White House did not inform Ms. Haley that it had changed course on sanctions, leaving her to hang out alone.”

“Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Ms. Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020. Aides to both scoff at such suggestions, but the slightest hint of such a pairing would be likely to enrage Mr. Trump… The talk was exacerbated in recent days when Mr. Pence named Jon Lerner, Ms. Haley’s deputy, as his new national security adviser, while allowing him to keep his job at the United Nations. That plan collapsed within 48 hours.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Israel Conferred With U.S. on Strike in Syria to Target Iranian War Gear” by Dion Nissenbaum and Rory Jones: “Israeli officials told the Trump administration about the planned strike in advance so that the U.S. was aware of their plans to directly target an Iranian base, according to two people briefed on the plans… Since taking office last year, Mr. Trump has allied himself with Mr. Netanyahu, giving Israel strategic backing for its efforts to target Iran’s expeditionary military operations in Syria… Mr. Netanyahu called Mr. Trump two weeks ago to talk about Iran and Syria… Mr. Netanyahu also told Mr. Trump about the planned strike on the Iranian base, said one person briefed on the call… The Israeli strike came five days later, on April 9.” [WSJ]

“Israel hints it could hit Iran’s ‘air force’ in Syria” by Dan Williams: “Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian “air force” deployed in neighboring Syria… Roni Daniel, military editor for Israeli TV station Mako, said the disclosure was a signal to Iran that its deployments in Syria “are totally exposed to us, and if you take action against us to avenge (the T-4 strike) these targets will be very severely harmed.” [Reuters]

“Saudis Weigh Offering Troops for Syria Force” by Margherita Stancati: “Saudi Arabia is considering contributing troops as part of a broader international coalition to help stabilize Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, the kingdom’s foreign minister said on Tuesday. “We are in discussions with the U.S. and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis about sending forces into Syria,” the minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said…” [WSJ]

“Iran’s Real Enemy in Syria” by Karim Sadjadpour: “At a time of economic hardship, Tehran has provided billions of dollars to help Assad crush Islamist rebels. The question is why… Distilled to its essence, Tehran’s steadfast support for Assad is not driven by the geopolitical or financial interests of the Iranian nation, nor the religious convictions of the Islamic Republic, but by a visceral and seemingly inextinguishable hatred for the state of Israel.”

“Today the Tehran-Damascus axis has come to resemble a mutually exploitative love affair: Iran likes Syria for its body (which borders Israel and serves as Tehran’s waystation to Hezbollah), and Syria likes Iran for its money. In exchange for Iranian largesse, Assad has forsaken his sovereignty… After seven years, and with billions of dollars of sunk costs, an assertive Russian partner, and a U.S. president that aspires to withdraw from the region, Tehran feels vindicated in Syria.” [TheAtlantic]

INTERVIEW — “Emmanuel Macron Opens Up About Iran and His New Pal in the West Wing” by Tom Sanction: “I appreciate the forthright conversations I have with President Trump as they help us understand each other,” [Macron says]. “Whether it be on the Iran deal or on trade, I believe we can actually reach a common ground. Both France and the United States want to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb and wish to put an end to distorting trade practices…” [VanityFair]

VIEW FROM DC — “Lindsey Graham “unnerved” after Syria briefing” by Alan He: “Everything in that briefing made me more worried, not less,” the South Carolina Republican said after a briefing lawmakers had with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford on Tuesday. “This makes no sense to me.” … Graham feared that if the U.S. stays on its current course, Syria will fall into the hands of the Russians and Iranians, which would be a nightmare scenario for Israel. Graham said there is no military strategy currently on the table to deal with the influence of Iran and Russia. “It seems to me the president is going to pull out of Syria as soon as he can.” [CBSNews]

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice writes… “Trump’s Problem in Syria? It Was Obama’s Too: Despite their evident differences, the Obama and Trump administrations have proven more alike than not… The United States should keep avoiding direct conflict with Russia; limit the risk of Israel coming to blows with Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah; and defuse the conflict between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, whose help America still needs against Islamic State. This does not mean allowing Russia and Iran free rein. Rather, the United States must push back firmly and smartly, preferably with allies, whether with respect to chemical weapons or other outrages.”[NYTimes]

STATE OF THE PARTY: “The GOP ‘Has Become the Caricature the Left Always Said It Was’” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “For all the trouble and turmoil Jennifer Rubin has faced from finding herself out of place in domestic politics, her heart is in foreign policy. She was one of the most reliable critics of Obama’s presidency, attacking him for what she saw as a lack of commitment to the value of American leadership, blundering into the nuclear negotiations with Iran and pursuing a foreign policy “disastrous for America and disastrous or freedom around the world.” “Many of the criticisms that I had about Obama’s foreign policy are now being replayed within the prism of Donald Trump,” Rubin said… Rubin stands by that critique of the Trump administration… “I have often observed that if you had the Trump administration without Trump, they would be doing a lot of sane things.”” [PoliticoMag]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Sean Hannity’s Ties to Two More Trump-Connected Lawyers” by Rosie Gray: “On May 25, 2017, KFAQ, a radio station based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, received a cease-and-desist letter signed by two lawyers for Hannity: Victoria Toensing and Jay Alan Sekulow…. Sekulow is also identified in the letter page as a “Counsel for Sean Hannity.”[TheAtlantic

TRUMP WHISPERER — “Hannity’s rising role in Trump’s world: ‘He basically has a desk in the place’” by Robert Costa, Sarah Ellison andJosh Dawsey: “There is a small group of people who Trump speaks with who truly don’t have to be obsequious,” a veteran Trump ally said. “Sean [Hannity] is one of them,” the ally added, and said that Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman, veteran investor Carl Icahn and first lady Melania Trump “may be the only others on that list.” [WashPost]  

** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kushners and Vornado Have Worst Year at Manhattan Office Tower [Bloomberg] • Shari Redstone’s effort to reunite her family-controlled media groups CBS and Viacom is being complicated by concerns that independent shareholders in CBS could drag any deal into lengthy and expensive legal action [FinancialTimes] • Judge splits NY hedge fund trial as one defendant turns on others [Reuters] • Israeli AI company Cortica denies rumors it is being bought by Tesla to work on its Autopilot driver-assistance feature [BusinessInsider] • Spotify in Israel: Streaming Giant Finds Its Footing a Month After Launch [Variety

SPOTLIGHT — “Steven Cohen Targets High-Frequency Trading With ‘Dark Pool’ Venture” by Alexander Osipovich: “Billionaire Steven A. Cohen is backing a startup that aims to prevent high-frequency traders from eating away at the profits of stock-pickers like himself. The venture-capital arm of Mr. Cohen’s firm, Point72 Asset Management LP, was the first investor in Imperative Execution Inc… The launch comes as Mr. Cohen has been working to clean up his image… Imperative is entering a crowded market with about a dozen exchanges and more than 30 other dark pools. To win business, it must convince brokers to route their customers’ orders to IntelligentCross.” [WSJ]

“Your favorite podcasts are being adapted for TV” by Jill Disis: “Gimlet’s first project is the ABC sitcom “Alex, Inc,” an adaptation of “StartUp,” a podcast about Gimlet founder Alex Blumberg’s experience creating his company. The show, which was produced by Sony Pictures and stars Zach Braff of “Scrubs,” debuted last month to mixed reviews… Another series of specials based on the political podcast “Pod Save America” is coming to HBO this fall.” [CNNMoney] • Jeffrey Katzenberg-Led WndrCo Invests $11.5 Million in U.K. Audio Streamer Mixcloud [Variety

Documentary explores Israel’s discriminatory ‘ancestral sin’: “An electrifying new documentary series on the problematic integration of Middle Eastern Jews by Israel’s European founders in the 1950s has reopened old wounds of an ethnic divide within Judaism ahead of the country’s 70th anniversary festivities… “The Ancestral Sin” has ignited outrage and disbelief by arguing that the immigrants were systematically marginalized by seemingly bigoted bureaucrats. The controversy has exposed just how raw sentiments are about the history of relations between Mizrahi Jews, from the Middle East and North Africa, and those from Europe, known as Ashkenazim… The series leans on transcripts from meetings of the Jewish Agency… as well as officials’ correspondence and personal diaries. It includes interviews with academics, North African immigrants and a bureaucrat from the time.” [APNews]

“Israel at 70: the drummer, the baker, the rescuer” by Amir Cohen: “Dressed in a traditional Bukharan floral gown and embroidered cap, 85-year-old Allo Alaev plays the doyra – a central-Asian frame drum. The Alaevs came to Israel from Tajikistan in 1991… The master percussionist is accompanied by two sons and five of his grandchildren playing rhythmic, fast-tempo folk music on an accordion, violins and a darbuka drum.” [Reuters]

TOP TALKER — Starbucks’ Howard Schultz vows bias training day is just the beginning: “CBS This Morning’s Gayle King sat down with Starbucks’ executive chairman Howard Schultz. “I’m embarrassed, ashamed. I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level. I think I take it very personally as everyone in our company does and we’re committed to making it right. The announcement we made yesterday about closing our stores, 8,000 stores closed, to do significant training with our people is just the beginning of what we will do to transform the way we do business and educate our people on unconscious bias,” Schultz said.” [CBSNews]

“Women’s March Leader: Boycott Starbucks Over Partnership With Jewish Group” by Peter Hasson: “Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory on Tuesday called for a boycott of Starbucks over the coffee company’s partnership with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)… The ADL previously criticized Mallory’s support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a notorious racist and anti-Semite… ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt… is one of several civil rights leaders working with Starbucks for the coffee company’s “racial bias training” on May 29.” [DailyCaller]

TALK OF THE TOWN — City panel OKs policy banning exchanges with Israeli police: “A North Carolina city council voted Monday to prohibit its police department from engaging in international exchanges with agencies whose officers receive military-style training… Some opponents viewed the petition as a display of anti-Semitism… A police spokesman said the department hasn’t engaged in any exchanges with Israel and doesn’t plan to. WRAL-TV reports former Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez spent a week in Israel undergoing training.” [AP]

“Brooklyn synagogue pulls its money out of Chase bank to promote climate change. Will others follow suit?” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “Congregation Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood is removing its savings from JPMorgan Chase, making it the first U.S. synagogue to publicly divest from a bank or other corporation “to explicitly oppose the funding of fossil fuel and other related projects dangerous to the world in which we live,” according to a statement.” [JTA

SPORTS BLINK — “Triumphant Blatt sets sights on return to basketball’s biggest stage” by Allon Sinai: “The New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets fired their head coaches last week… [David] Blatt has already been linked with the two recent openings in New York and Orlando, with the Israeli considered to be among the top candidates for the Knicks job. The Turkish league is still ongoing, but Blatt will travel to the United States next week for an interview with Knicks executives, hoping to beat out competition from David Fizdale, Mark Jackson and Jerry Stackhouse.” [JPost]

DESSERT — “Vegetarian Mainstay Govinda’s Finally Opens Its Pizza Shop” by Rachel Vigoda: “About four years ago, owner Haryasva Dasa, a Hare Krishna monk who goes by Hari, got the vegan community [in Philadelphia] buzzing with news of an upcoming Govinda’s pizza shop… It took a bit longer than expected, but that pizza shop is now open. It’s perfect timing, since much-loved vegan pizzeria Blackbird just had to temporarily close its Queen Village location. The original Govinda’s (1408 South Street) is a certified-kosher fast food joint known for its (meat and dairy-free) cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteaks, and sandwiches. The new pizzeria, also kosher, sells slices, and a wide range of hot dishes… The shop is almost entirely vegan, but there is an option for a pie made with real mozzarella, which Hari says was a request from the kosher Jewish community.” [EaterPhilly]

BIRTHDAYS: Biochemist, geneticist and winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1985, Joseph L. Goldstein turns 78… Managing director of fundraising consultants Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, formerly CEO of Ampal-American Israel Corporation and the Jerusalem Foundation, Michael Jaffeturns 78… Saul Bernstein turns 73… President of DeForest Concepts, a consulting firm in Burlington, Vermont, previously a member of the Vermont State Senate (2002-2013) and co-founder in 1984 of Jogbra, Hinda Miller turns 68… Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona (2004-2012) after two terms on the Phoenix City Council, Phil Gordon turns 67… Composer, pianist and musicologist, Robert M. Greenberg turns 64… College basketball coach for 34 years, including 22 years as head coach at Long Beach State, the University of South Florida and Virginia Tech, now an ESPN analyst, Seth Greenbergturns 62… Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of four acclaimed books, Susan Faludi turns 59…

Editor of Commentary magazine, columnist for the New York Post, former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, John Mordecai Podhoretz turns 57… VP of University and Community Life at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, rabbi emeritus of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth R. Brander turns 56… VP and Deputy General Counsel at Scholastic Inc, Mark Seidenfeld turns 55… Executive Director of the American Zionist Movement since March 2017, he was previously Assistant EVP of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Herbert Block turns 53… Emmy Award-winning actress known for her work on daytime television, Tamara Braun turns 47… Film director, producer, writer and actor, who as a director and producer is most closely associated with the horror genre, Eli Roth turns 46… Chabad Rabbi, founder and executive director of the Aspen Chabad Jewish Community Center, Mendel Mintz turns 43… Partner in the white collar and cybersecurity practices of Paul Hastings, he was previously an assistant secretary for cyber policy at the Department of Homeland Security, Robert P. Silvers turns 38 (h/t Playbook)… Political director for AIPAC’s Florida region, Evan Philipson turns 29… Dov Maimon

Rand Paul aide reads Trump letter at Jewish wedding

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

President Donald Trump sent a personal letter congratulating a Jewish bride and groom on Tuesday. Shlomo Segal and Devorah Ganz were married last night at Ateres Chynka hall…

Kafe Knesset for December 18

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hate to say I told you so: Right-wing Twitter broke out in calls of “I told you so” this morning following the Politico story on Obama, Hezbollah and…

House committee advances Jordan MOU amidst rare Congressional critique of Amman

Friday, December 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed legislation that would re-authorize a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen U.S. defense ties with Jordan….

Lawmakers on Abbas’ cancellation of Pence meeting

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – After President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed the White House on Sunday that it would be canceling…

Kafe Knesset for December 6

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jerusalem is holding its breath: Excitement is building ahead of the Presidential address on Jerusalem this evening, but the Israeli PM is waiting to see what exactly will…

Kafe Knesset for December 4

Monday, December 4, 2017

Embassy watch: While the PMO is still keeping its distance from the explosive Jerusalem Embassy move or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, some of Bibi’s senior ministers…