Jewish Insider Kickoff


SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY ALERT: Reports – Kerry to visit Israel… AGAIN! US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to come to Israel sometime next week for the sixth time since March amid questions whether his focus and energy should be primarily focused elsewhere. For those folks looking to stay on the top floors of the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem this is not the year to do so as it seems Kerry and co. have taken up permanent residence in the hotel.

EXIT INTERVIEW: Michael Oren – Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the US looks back on four and a half eventful years in Washington, looks ahead to yet greater dramas – by Ari Shavit of Haaretz: “Shavit: Obama and Netanyahu are an odd, inscrutable and dysfunctional political pair. You lived among them and mediated between them. What was the basic problem in their relationship and has it been resolved? Oren: “President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are very intelligent, very strong and pragmatic people. Both wanted to achieve the same aims a solution of two states for two peoples, and preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. So their disagreements were not strategic but tactical. They met 11 times. Obama says that he met with Bibi more than he met with any other world leader. They’ve spent hours talking on the phone. I can attest that the conversations were open, candid and friendly. There were laughs, too. Obama is a very funny guy with a sharp, quick and witty sense of humor. I’m not trying to whitewash anything here. There were disagreements and there were some difficult moments. But we did not experience any genuine crises in the past four and a half years. “In the past there were such crises: during the siege of Beirut, at the time of the Pollard affair, over the sale of the AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia and over the Israeli arms sale to China. The crisis that arose from the arms sale to China was a very deep and serious crisis that is still having an unsettling effect on our ties with Washington. But that crisis was hidden from view. In contrast, during the Obama-Netanyahu era there was a whole series of supposed crises, none of which was a genuine crisis. The public atmosphere was one of tension but behind the scenes we worked together as allies on the Iron Dome, on the Marmara affair, on the Palestinians’ unilateral moves in the United Nations and on Iran as well. The intelligence cooperation between our two countries is unlike the cooperation the U.S. has with any other country.”

Shavit: If everything’s so great, then why is it so bad? Why was the first-term President Obama perceived as a president hostile to Israel and why was Netanyahu perceived as trying to replace the president of the United States with the Republican candidate? Oren: “The Bush administration left behind the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan and the alienation between the United States and the Arab and Muslim world. Obama wanted to act differently and to try a different approach. He reached out to the Arab-Muslim world, he reached out to the Iranians and the Syrians and he gave the Cairo speech. His message was very refreshing. He tried to make peace with the Arab world. This was misunderstood in Israel because in Israel everything is measured on the basis of the sense of security and insecurity. And when an American president goes to Egypt and goes to Turkey and doesn’t come to visit us, it causes a sense of insecurity. “The Cairo speech and the demand for a construction freeze throughout the West Bank and in Jerusalem created a feeling in the summer of 2009 that the  president is not sufficiently committed to Israel’s security. But even though relations seemingly got off on the wrong foot, I can tell you with certainty that this feeling is mistaken. What has happened in the security realm in the past four years and Obama’s visit to Jerusalem earlier this year prove it. Obama is a true friend and he is a most serious person and one shouldn’t underestimate him and his determination.”
Shavit: Netanyahu didn’t err in doing things that were perceived as interfering in the U.S. presidential election, and as an attempt to work together with Sheldon Adelson to oust Obama and replace him with Romney? Oren: “What happened in the spring and summer of 2012 was that some administration officials said certain things on the Iranian issue to which the prime minister felt compelled to respond. In the United States Netanyahu’s response was perceived as interference in the election campaign. It was a tough time. “There was a lack of understanding between the two sides. My job as ambassador was to explain America in Israel and to explain Israel in America. Eventually, the comments stopped and after Netanyahu’s speech at the UN there was a warm conversation between him and the president. American support for Israel is bipartisan and we absolutely must not do anything to endanger that.” [Haaretz]

 DOWNSIZING: Israel’s military plans to downsize its conventional firepower such as tanks and artillery to focus on countering threats from guerrilla warfare and to boost its technological prowess, in a recognition that the Middle East turmoil has virtually halted the ability of neighbors to invade for years to come. [Wall Street Journal]

STATE VISIT: Delaware Governor Jack Markell – The only sitting Jewish governor and the first Jewish governor for the state of Delaware was in Israel this week. “Nearly all Israeli companies registered in the United States are incorporated in Delaware and the state’s governor, Jack Markell, is seeking to persuade some of those companies to make the state their headquarters for their U.S. operations as well. The reason so many companies choose to incorporate in Delaware has to do with the nature of the state’s corporate law, which is well understood and predictable, as well as its highly regarded courts, Markell said. Now he wants Israeli companies to go beyond corporation. “We recognize that when businesses in Israel start up, they have to think beyond Israel from day one because the market here isn’t big enough. One of the first places people think about doing business with is North America, Delaware can be a soft landing.” [Reuters]

PERRY TO ISRAEL: Is this just a good ol’ regular trip or is it a sign of another run for president in 2016? “Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday that he will visit Israel in October, a move that signals to the political world that he is seriously considering making another presidential run in 2016. “We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christian and Jews in an educational forum,” Mr. Perry told The Washington Times in an interview just three days after he announced he would not seek an unprecedented fourth term as Texas governor.”[Washington Times]

MASSACHUSETTS 2014: Former AIPAC chairman Steve Grossman, now the treasurer in Massachusetts, said he will run for governor in the state – “Grossman, a 67-year-old businessman, is a longtime influential Jewish community leader and Democratic activist. He served as chairman of the American Israel Political Action Committee from 1992 to 1997. He has headed the national and state Democratic parties. The former campaign chair for Boston’s Jewish federation is a philanthropist who has served on the boards of many Jewish institutions.” [JTA]

BOILING HOT HAWAII: Jewish Senator in hottest Democratic primary in the nation – incumbent Jewish US Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii – D) faces a very competitive primary challenge from two term US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Schatz, who is only a 6 month incumbent after being assigned to take over the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s seat, has the financial advantage and the help of national political consultants but Hanabusa is better known within the state and is tapping into the network and political organization Inouye left behind. Should make for a very exciting race that is sure to go down to the wire. [Politico]
JEWS AT SUN VALLEY: Private investment firm Allen & Co.’s Herb Allen hosts the annual conference at his massive estate in Sun Valley, Idaho from July 9 – 14. Often described as “summer camp” for moguls, the conference has taken over Sun Valley once a year since 1983. The venerable firm, started by Charles and Herbert Allen, Sr. in 1922, is a staple of media and entertainment banking with a hand in most all showbiz deals big and small. Among the Jewish attendees on the guest list: Gary Bettman, National Hockey League; Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of NYC; Sergey Brin, Google; Barry Diller, IAC; Daniel L. Doctoroff, Bloomberg L.P.;Thomas L. Friedman, NYTimes; Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz; Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks; Seth Klarman, The Baupost Group, LLC; Joel l. Klein, News Corp; Henry R. Kravis, KKR & Co.; Larry Page, Google; Haim Saban, Saban Capital Group; Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook; Herbert Siegel, ALS Capital; Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYTimes; David J. Stern, National Basketball Association; Diane von Furstenberg, DvF Studio; Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn; Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company; Fred Wilpon, Sterling Equities;Jeffrey Wilpon, New York Mets; Dirk E. Ziff, Ziff Brothers Investments; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook.
HAPPENING TODAY: Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team officially switching hands – Hapoel Jerusalem is set to embark on a new era on Friday when a group led by businessman Ori Allon and including NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire will officially take over the club. “The administrator general announced last week that the Allon group, which also includes New York Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire, advertising bigwig Eyal Chomski and American sports agent Arn Tellem, won the bid to purchase a 60 percent stake of Hapoel previously owned by Guma Aguiar. Following Aguiar’s disappearance at sea off the coast of Florida a year ago, his ownership stake was put up for sale and the Allon group was awarded his shares after promising to invest NIS 15 million in the club over the next three seasons. However, the Allon group, headed by the 32-year-old Israeli, who made his fortune in the US by selling hi-tech startups to Google and Twitter, will only officially take charge of the club on Friday when the Hapoel Jerusalem organization approves the deal. The Allon group will ultimately own 90 percent of the club, with the organization to maintain 10 percent of the shares. [Jerusalem Post]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: note to readers: at times we’ll explain the Jewish connection or angle and  sometimes we won’t. Where we don’t it is generally because we are following the view that if one is meant to know the connection then they already know it.

 

TURF WAR: Triple Five sues the Jets and Giants – “The Jets and Giants were sued in state Superior Court this week by Triple Five, developers of the American Dream project on Route 3, who contend that the football teams are doing what they can to “thwart” the project and prevent it from “ever opening.” Triple Five is closely held, owned and operated by theGhermezian family who are well known for owning North America’s two largest malls, West Edmonton Mall in Canada and Mall of America in Minneapolis. “The lawsuit, filed in Bergen County, alleges breach of contract by the National Football League franchises, citing a 2006 agreement in which the Jets and Giants received $15 million for allowing the entertainment and shopping project, then called Xanadu, to be built. The Jets and Giants, who play across the highway in Met Life Stadium, have referred to a stipulation in the agreement that gives them the power to veto changes to the project that would generate “adverse” effects on the game-day activities of their fans. Triple Five’s stance is that their project would benefit the football fans, giving them recreational activities prior to and following the games.” [Hudson Reporter]

 

SILVER LINING: Bruising Quarter for Bond Fund Managers – “A sudden surge in U.S. interest rates has dimmed the luster of some of the bond world’s brightest stars including Bill Gross, Dan Fuss, Jeffrey Gundlach and Michael Hasenstab. But The Fairholme fund—which is managed by Bruce Berkowitz, founder and chief investment officer at asset-management firm Fairholme Capital Management, posted a return of 16%, making it the best performer out of 1,785 bond funds tracked by Morningstar. Mr. Berkowitz has gained a reputation as a savvy stock picker whose funds often make large bets on a few securities.” [WSJ]

 

PONZI SCHEME HISTORY: All Rothstein investors set to get all their money back –“Innocent victims of Scott Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme now expect to get all of their money back in what lawyers are hailing as an unprecedented recovery effort for such a massive financial fraud. Before a courtroom packed with at least 65 attorneys, a federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved the liquidation plan for Rothstein’s former law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. That means creditors could start getting their lost investment dollars returned within months. “I’m unaware of any Ponzi scheme that resulted in a likely payout of 100 cents on a dollar to all the defrauded creditors,” said Paul McMahon, an attorney who represents about 40 investors due $19 million. “I think this will go down in the history books.” [SunSentinel]

STARTING ‘EM YOUNG: 19 year old Jewish kid is investing $20 million in a new oil venture – granted though he is the eldest son of Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich. Nevertheless, Arkadiy Abramovich is injecting $20m (£13.4m) into a new oil venture as part of a complex deal involving Aim shell company Zoltav Resources.  ”Abramovich, 19, reportedly works as an intern at the London office of a Russian investment bank and this is thought to be his first big oil deal as he looks to make his mark in the Russian energy sector. Mr Abramovich Jr. is channelling the money to Zoltav through his private holding company, ARA Capital, which currently holds a 38.6 per cent interest in Zoltav.” Arkadiy, despite his young age, was rumored to be bidding to purchase the Danish football club FC Copenhagen in 2010 although the effort turned out to be unsuccessful. [Investors Chronicle]

 

‘TOP’ REAL BROKER OF NYC: “Aaron Jungreis, NYC’s busiest multi-family broker, courts clients and controversy” profiled in The Real Deal July Magazine – “Jungreis is not an imposing figure. He’s just five feet, seven inches tall and a bit stocky — and he looks far younger than his 43 years. That, combined with his Canarsie accent, and a hop to his step, gives the impression that he’s just another junior sales associate. Yet by buildings sold and commissions earned, he’s by far New York City’s top multi-family broker. Jungreis personally topped more than $1 billion in over 200 individual building sales last year, doing more deals than Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, widely considered the most active broker in the city over the past three decades. Jungreis has brought an aggressive and old-fashioned style to deal-making, and insiders said he’s equally at ease with the Orthodox Jewish black hats of Brooklyn and the white-shoe investors of Park Avenue. Still, Jungreis has ruffled feathers over several commission disputes, and he’s a maverick among the brokerage community with his openness to discuss his commission structure, as well as admitting to investing in deals he brokers and going so far as lending money to help close deals.

 

Neil Rubler, CEO of landlord Vantage Properties, which has purchased and sold thousands of units in recent years, described a Jungreis pitch thusly: “I know your building well, I know the 10 people most likely to buy it, and I will get it sold in a way that is quick and efficient,’” Rubler recalled Jungreis saying. “’We are not going to send out 500 books that lead to 20 tours that will lead to the eight people I would have called in the first place.” It works. Jungreis has sold about a half-dozen buildings with more than 750 units for Vantage, Rubler said. In addition, Jungreis brought high-profile deals to buyers such as the Chetrit Group and David Bistricer’s Clipper Equity. “[Jungreis] is in constant touch with the major owners and sellers of property in the city,” Bistricer said. “No question, he is one of the top brokers in the city.”

Jungreis was born and raised in Canarsie, the son of Benjamin, a rabbi, and Goldie, an elementary school teacher. Jungreis was the second oldest of five siblings. After graduating from Touro College in 1991, he took an uncle’s advice and gave life insurance a shot. He lasted just eight months. “It fizzled,” Jungreis said. “I think the main reason is, I did not like bothering my friends and family to buy insurance. It was nerve-racking.” His next move was more successful. A cousin of Jungreis’ is married to Allen Gross, CEO of family-controlled GFI Capital Resources Group, which at the time was launching its GFI Realty Services. He worked at GFI until 2007 when Jungreis and a former GFI colleague, David Berger, launched Rosewood Realty Group. Rosewood has closed some $649 million through the middle of last month. Of his success, Jungreis said: “I am pinching myself. I can’t believe I am brokering more [multi-family buildings] than anyone in the United States.” [The Real Deal]

 

START-UP NATION

JEWISH ‘HACKATHON’ – “Tel Aviv and California’s Silicon Valley will simultaneously hold the first Jewish-themed “hackathon,” called Friday Night Hack, from July 19-20. More than 120 hackers will participate in the 24-hour event, meant to show how open data can be used collaboratively and transparently. In the event—supported by the Schusterman Philanthropic Network and Israel-based Hasadna – The Public Knowledge Workshop, and hosted in California in partnership with the innovation committee of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation—developers, designers, programmers, coders, and other software-development experts will work together to build applications for public use intended to strengthen Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.” [JNS]

BUT NOT WITHOUT CONTROVERSY… as David Shamah of The Times of Israel points out the event is for “all hackers, that is, except Sabbath-observant ones: The event is being held on Friday night and will run for a day-plus, through Saturday evening. In a typical comment, one Jewish community activist wrote on Friday Night Hackathon’s Facebook page that it was “a shame that this event is taking place over Shabbat. None of the numerous Shabbat observant ‘hackers’ will be able to participate in this event. There is a consensus among all the major recognized Jewish organizations and religious streams that Shabbat is not publicly desecrated. Neither Hasadna nor the Schusterman Foundation could be reached for official comment. [Times of Israel]

 

TALK OF THE TOWN

CLOSE TO THE FINISH LINE BUT OUT OF FUNDS: Local JCC has to stop a 13 year long, $28M project with only 6 weeks to go due to lack of funds – After nearly 13 years of planning and fundraising, construction of a $28 million Jewish community center on Clarksville Road in West Windsor, New Jersey, has completely stopped — with only six weeks more construction required — due to a lack of funds. According to the New Jersey Jewish News, the JCC is not only short on funds it needs to finish paying for construction, but it also lacks the funds to repay the $11 million dollar loan, with $6 million due in December. Because the entire Jewish community in the area had been talking about the project for many years, the council felt that once construction started, more people would donate. But the donations weren’t enough, he said, and in mid-October construction stopped. In addition, Cohen said the council was unable to collect on outstanding pledges and couldn’t raise more money to complete the project. [Times of Trenton]

 

DESSERT: BuzzFeed releases The Official Ranking of the 51 Hottest Jewish Men in Hollywood – for the full list go to BuzzFeed but here are the top 15. Paul Rudd (15); Shia LaBeouf (14); Jason Schwartzman (13); Joshua Bowman (12); Gabriel Macht (11); Joseph Gordon-Levitt (10); Adam Levine (9); Andrew Garfield (8); Dave Franco (7); Ben Barnes (6); Jake Gyllenhaal (5); James Franco (4); Liev Schreiber (3); Bryan Greenberg (2); Adam Brody (1) [BuzzFeed]


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