Daily Kickoff: Tillerson warns Palestinians: Trump could lose patience | Comcast CEO Brian Roberts preparing for the Maccabiah Games | Vocativ pivots
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HEARD YESTERDAY — Tillerson warns the Palestinians: Trump has a limited window of patience — by Aaron Magid: Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the Palestinians about the consequences of failing to take tangible steps towards peace and continuing payments to families of terrorists. “The President has been very clear with the Palestinian Authority [about the] actions he expects them to take,” said Tillerson. “He has a certain window of patience, a certain window which he will remain engaged and be interested… At some point, he is going to become disinterested. And when we become disinterested, that will certainly alter our level of support.”
Tillerson clarified his comments on Monday that the Palestinians have changed their policy on ‘martyr’ payments: “Those were assurances that were given to me on the most recent trip to Bethlehem. We have had conversations with them and told them they cannot continue these types of payments and expect that the American people to see any explanation for why they do that… We’ve taken the position to the Palestinian Authority in a very unequivocal way: ‘You either take care of this yourself or someone else will take care of it for you.’ … They have indicated that they would… They did say we have to support widows and orphans. I said, ‘Widows and orphans are one thing. Attaching payments as recognition of violence or murders is something the American people could never accept or understand.’”
On moving the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem: “That decision is under evaluation by the President… He has not made that decision to my knowledge.”
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) asked Tillerson if the State Department would “closely scrutinize” the recent $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and ensure they would not “adversely impact” Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) and oppose the transfer of F-35 aircraft? “We will ensure that all of those sales meet all of our obligations both to Israel and to others,” Tillerson replied. [JewishInsider]
LATEST ON THE TAYLOR FORCE ACT — Sen. Bob Corker tells JI’s Aaron Magid: “We’re working on it and getting buy-in from all those interested in this bill.” JI: What is your stance on a complete cut-off of US aid to the Palestinians? Corker: I’m not saying what I oppose or don’t oppose. I’m just saying we are going to have a Taylor Force-like Act passed out of our committee before August recess.”
Sen. Ben Cardin: “I very much support what Senator Graham (R-SC) is attempting to do. I talked to Senator Graham several times about it. I talked to Senator Corker about it. I think we understand the bill may need some adjustments.” JI: Do you continue to oppose a complete cut-off of US aid to the Palestinians? Cardin: “I didn’t say that at all. I never said that.”
“Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Visit Israel Soon to Discuss Renewed Peace Talks, Israeli Official Says” by Barak Ravid, Jack Khoury and Amir Tibon: “A senior Israeli official stated that Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy on the peace process, will come to the region soon to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The official said that the visit may take place next week or right after Ramadan ends June 24.” [Haaretz]
KAFE KNESSET — Trump, Israelis, Palestinians, and the Settlers — by Tal Shalev: The US special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, is due back in Israel for meetings with the government and the PA next week to continue President Trump’s peace efforts. Kafe Knesset has learned that Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, is expected to meet the PA Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, for the second time within the month in the upcoming weeks… Meanwhile, an old Israeli plan – to expand the Palestinian city of Qalqilya – is creating vocal discontent among the settlers and right wing politicians. The plan includes approval of 14,000 new housing units and is intended to provide a solution for Palestinian natural growth. This is part of the “carrot and stick plan” which was presented by Defense Minister Liberman last August and approved by the cabinet a month later.
Yesterday, MKs Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked issued an ultimatum demanding that the Qalqilya plan be halted unless and until 14,000 Jewish housing units are also approved in West Bank Area C. Bennett and Shaked voted against the “carrot and stick” plan at the cabinet meeting last September and yesterday they said said “it was and remains a reward for terrorism which advances the Palestinian takeover of Area C. Given the very limited scope of construction which was approved for Israeli communities, the Qalqilya plan’s significance increases and must be stopped.”
The Prime Minister’s Office rejected the critics’ claims as “incorrect and even absurd” stressing the plan was already approved last year and that since then more than 10,000 housing units have been approved in the settlements. Liberman slammed Bennett and Shaked’s “very puzzling announcement,” claiming that the current government “is the best for the settlement enterprise” adding that thousands of housing units were approved in the first half of 2017. “We are conducting a balanced policy, with one hand committed to promote and develop Jewish settlements, and the other one responsibly safeguarding our national interests in the international arena.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
GLATT FOR GREENBLATT AT UAE EMBASSY: “Thank you Amb. Al Otaiba for inviting me to the Iftar dinner at UAE Embassy & for providing me with kosher food. Ramadan Kareem!” [Pic]
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Trump Has ‘Narrow Window’ to Pursue Mideast Peace, Livni Says” by Jonathan Ferziger and Michael Arnold: “Frankly, this is a president that nobody wants to say no to,” [Tzipi Livni] said in an interview… “We have different players and we have President Trump as the choreographer.” … Livni sees an opportunity Netanyahu must seize. “The timetable is very narrow,” she said. “Tomorrow, everything can change.” Given her experience leading peace talks, Livni was among the Israelis consulted by U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt earlier this year in his preparations for Trump’s diplomatic campaign. She declined to discuss their meetings.” [Bloomberg]
TOP TALKER: Tillerson suggests State Department may be better off without anti-Semitism envoy post — by Jacob Kornbluh: “One of the questions I’ve asked is, if we’re really going to affect these areas, these special areas, don’t we have to affect it through the delivery on mission at every level at every country? And by having a special envoy, one of my experiences is, mission then says, ‘oh, we’ve got somebody else that does,’ and then they stop doing it,” he said during a hearing at the House Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations subcommittee, according to the JTA’s Ron Kampeas. The Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has ceased operations since April 28.
REACTIONS: Abe Foxman, Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, tells us: “Respectfully that is a lame excuse… This one person had at their disposal the totality of the State Department and the global missions. It made a difference for many Jews under threat who had experienced anti-Semitism. Not renewing this position will send a message that this president and his administration care less or not at all (about fighting anti-Semitism). By the way, the greatest threat of global anti-Semitism today comes from radical jihadist Islam – clearly a serious concern for this administration.”
Former envoy Ira Forman emails… “I am afraid that the Secretary does not understand how the office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism works. I am confident that if he and his staff actually talk to our Department professionals at our embassies in our regional bureaus and even experts outside of government he will find unanimous support for the Special Envoy’s work.”
Rep. Ted Deutch: “What kind of message does it send to countries and Jewish communities around the world if the United States so easily cuts the office of the leading government envoy sounding the alarm on rising anti-Semitism?” [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump huddled with donors on day of Comey testimony” by Tara Palmeri and Kenneth Vogel: “On the same day last week that fired FBI Director James Comey delivered his damaging Senate testimony, President Donald Trump’s team summoned about a dozen top donors to the White House to rally support for Trump’s agenda. The donors — including Ken Griffin, Doug DeVos, Tom Hicks, Jr., Rebekah Mercer, Todd Ricketts, Tom Saunders, Paul Singer and Dick Uihlein — gathered in the Roosevelt Room on June 8 for a briefing from Trump’s legislative director Marc Short… These people said Trump himself stopped by the briefing to greet the donors, while Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway also spent time at the event.” [Politico]
“Can Jared Kushner’s SWAT Team of Mini-Mes Protect Him in the White House?” by Emily Jane Fox: “The lieutenants on the SWAT team share both his well-heeled pedigree, notable lack of political experience, and, in some cases, unfamiliarity to the Republican Party… In the basement of the West Wing, Reed Cordish, an assistant to the president who has been a lead on both Infrastructure Week and Workforce Development Week, shares an office with his counterpart Chris Liddell… They’re a stairway and a quick walk away from Josh Raffel, the office’s recently-appointed communications officer, who sits across from Avi Berkovitz, a special assistant to the president and Kushner’s assistant, who keeps all the Office of American Innovation’s trains running on time… As a group, they meet most days and break out into smaller groups to convene more often. Sometimes Kushner brings in pizza and beer for them, or invites them for dinner at the Kalorama home he shares with Ivanka Trump.”[VanityFair]
ON THE HILL: “Senate backs legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia” by Patricia Zengerle: “The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for new sanctions punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election… The vote was 97 to two for the legislation, filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill… The Iran bill, including the Russia sanctions amendment, was expected to pass the Senate on Thursday or later on Wednesday. To take effect, the measure would also have to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by Trump… The only two “no” votes on the Russia bill were from Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul.” [Reuters]
“Obama’s Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, discusses the Iran deal in an interview about his legacy — by Alexis C. Madrigal: “Our hope, as was President Obama’s hope, was to minimize the role of nuclear weapons over time and certainly to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. With Iran, they have made a very strong commitment to never having a nuclear weapon. So, it is my expectation that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon. If they attempt to go there, it will be known and actions will be taken to, shall we say, discourage that. The Iran agreement stands on its own: If 15 years from now—or whatever is left of 15 years, 13.5 years—we chalk up the score, and say, yup, the [deal] was followed to the letter and now Iran is free to develop its peaceful nuclear program as it chooses, the deal was a success.” [TheAtlantic] • U.S. Accuses Iranian Naval Vessel in ‘Unsafe’ Strait of Hormuz Encounter [WSJ]
Trump visits Scalise in hospital — from the White House pool report: “[The] Trumps met with Scalise doctors, including Dr. Ira Rabin, Vice President for Medical Operations… Dr. Rabin was seen accompanying the Trumps to the exit when they left.” [Pic]
“Suspect in congressional shooting was Bernie Sanders supporter, strongly anti-Trump” by Jose Pagliery: “On Wednesday, Senator Sanders publicly acknowledged that Hodgkinson had volunteered for his presidential campaign last year, but he denounced the violence as “despicable.”” [CNN]
“Robert Becker, who was the state director for Sanders’ presidential campaign in Iowa, told Yahoo News that Hodgkinson did not make an impression. “Nobody remembers this guy. That doesn’t mean he didn’t come in and knock some doors one Saturday, but he didn’t stand out,” said Becker. “Nobody remembers him.” [YahooNews]
“Eric Cantor praises injured Capitol Police officers who kept him safe” by Scott Wise: “Krystal Griner and David Bailey… the Capitol Police officers shot and injured during Wednesday morning’s attack… were members of former House majority leader Eric Cantor’s security detail…. “I was honored to have them serve in my security detail when I was majority leader. Their acts of bravery and heroism demonstrated this morning during the horrible attack in Alexandria are consistent with the individuals I know who never tired of being on alert no matter the threat,” [Cantor said].” [WTVR]
“It feels like America is descending into chaos” by John Podhoretz: “We all know the kindling is there. The baseball-field shooter was a consumer of far-left anti-Republican media; it would only take one consumer of media on the other side to seek to equalize the suffering to ignite a national powder keg. I don’t want to invoke all the clichés of the past decade but you know them all — we’re a divided nation, we’re all living in our own bubbles, we don’t even accept the same facts and we hate each other. The problem is these clichés are largely true.” [NYPost]
“When Prayer Alone Does Not Suffice” by David Frum: “Even as Americans keep the latest victims of a mass shooting in their thoughts, they have an obligation to figure out how to prevent any recurrence… Prayer refreshes the soul and clears the mind. It opens the way to repentance and improvement. But prayer alone does not lift from human beings the duty to do what they have the power to do. And that’s not my personal opinion. It’s also the opinion, emphatically declared, of the God to whom believers in the Bible address their prayers. In the stately words of the King James translation, Isaiah 1:15: ‘And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.’”[TheAtlantic]
SCENE YESTERDAY IN DC: Steve Clemons hosted and moderated a conversation in the library of the Watergate Hotel titled “Watergate 45 Years Ago And Now?,” featuring Atlantic Magazine editor Scott Stossel, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins and Thomas Mallon, author of Watergate: A Novel. The event was co-hosted by the ownersof The Watergate Hotel, Rakel and Jacques Cohen. [Video]
SPOTTED: Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Sally Quinn, Quinn Bradlee, Yael Luttwak, James Barbour, Jed Shein, Annie Groer, David and Danielle Frum, Tomicah Tillemann, Indira Lakshmanan, Allen Abel, Kevin Chaffee, Grover Norquist, Michael Mael, Gary Silversmith, and U.K. Ambassador Kim Darroch. h/t Playbook
IN NYC: The Hudson Institute hosted their annual Board of Trustees reception at the penthouse apartment of Joe and Marlene Ricketts. The event featured a conversation with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley moderated by Hudson CEO Ken Weinstein. SPOTTED: Wally and Betsy Stern, Sarah Stern, Mark Rosenblatt, Paul Singer, Todd Ricketts, Sylvie Legere, Joe and Marlene Ricketts, Barbara Winston, Joel Winton, Annie Dickerson, Joshua Landes, Bryna Landes, Chris DeMuth, Jeffrey Berenson, Ed Cox, Bob Immerman, Larry Leeds, Walter Russell Mead, Lewis Libby, John Walters, Matt Hunter, Brian Blake, Stan and Barbara Atkins, Jeffrey Peek, Gabriel Berger, Jon Lerner, Michael Haley, Cheryl Halpern, Cheryl Fishbein, Margaret Whitehead.
IN LOS ANGELES: The American Friends of Yad Vashem celebrated its “Generation to Generation” 2017 Gala last night before a packed ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The featured honoree was KISS co-founder and singer Gene Simmons, along with his mother Flora Klein. “My name is Chaim Witz,” the legendary singer said in Hebrew when he took the stage, his voice choked with emotion. “I am an Israeli. I am a Jew.” Simmons, dressed in a dark jacket and wearing his trademark sunglasses and pile of jet black hair, repeated the same phrase in Hungarian, then in German. Then he translated it into English. Simmons accepted the Legacy Award for his mother Flora Klein, who remained home in Long Island. As a 14 year-old girl, Klein was deported to Auschwitz, where she saw her mother, brother and entire extended family killed. She survived, moved to Haifa, where Simmons was born in 1949. Simmons credited his mother for his drive, toughness and hopefulness. “’Any day above ground is a good day,’ she always says,” said Simmons.
Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson presented Rita Spiegel and the Spiegel Family with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Adelson said it was Rita’s father Abraham Spiegel, who survived Auschwitz with his wife Edita, who inspired him to get involved in Jewish philanthropy. The night’s other honorees were Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff, producers of the movie, Denial. Also in attendance: Consul General of Israel Sam Grundwerg, Leonard Wilf, chairman of ASYV, Gala Chair Karen Sandler, Samara Hutman, Jay Sanderson, Marilyn and Tom Spiegel, Ron Meier, William Bernstein, Jess Dolgin, Jake Farber, Herb Glaser, Paul Stanley, and Jeffrey Glassman.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel’s prime minister: Mediterranean pipeline would be ‘revolution’ [WashPost] • American Dream Deferred: Goldman Delays Pricing of Mall Bonds [Bloomberg] • Altice USA moving HQ from Bethpage to Long Island City [Newsday] • Yellen Deflects Question on Whether She Would Stay on at Fed [Bloomberg] • Ben Lerer’s Group Nine Media says it got 114M social engagements last month [TechCrunch] • Stewart Butterfield’s Slack, the Group-Chat App Everyone Hates to Love, Could Be Worth $9 Billion… And Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos could be a buyer [VanityFair]
SPOTLIGHT: “‘Deep web’ publication lays off 22 in shift to video” by Keith Kelly: “Vocativ, a four-year old web site that billed itself as a company searching for investigative stories from the “deep web,” has laid off 22 staffers — nearly all of its editorial staff — as it shifts gears to a video-only company. Vocativ was founded by Israeli businessman Mati Kochavi, who made a fortune by selling to the Abu Dhabi government closed circuit surveillance cameras produced by Logic Industries, a subsidiary of his AGT International. Early in its life, Vocativ was losing $20 million a year, sources said… Kochavi also developed a close connection with Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel. Emanuel was frequently spotted in editorial meetings at Vocativ, sources said.” [NYPost] • Flashback to 2013: “Vocativ Brings The Tools Of The Spy World Into The Newsroom” [Forbes]
PEER-TO-PEER: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts talked with David Rubenstein about his love of the game of squash and his experience competing in the Maccabiah games in the latest episode of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations”
Rubenstein: In college you were a squash player and an all-American squash player…
Roberts: “I love the sport and the best players in the world, which I never was close to, are super and superb athletes and as good as any athletes, I think, in any sport. When I got to Penn I got a squash coach and he really drilled into me hard work, winning, strategy, tactics. I went on and played a great run in squash and had a chance to compete internationally after college.”
Rubenstein: So now you compete still at the Maccabiah games. You’ve won the gold medal there and the silver medal, and you are now going to play again there?
Roberts: “My children have both done it. My two daughters and my son said, let’s you and I do it, dad. So we are going to go this summer to Israel and compete one more time. It will be my sixth time. I proposed to my wife on one of the trips. It has had a really significant meaning in my life to be able to compete, represent my country, be a Jewish athlete, and at the same time share my family experiences as we have all played the sport and had a lot of fun with it.”
Rubenstein: “You are now in your 50s. Is it hard to get in shape to play in the Maccabiah games when you are in your 50s?
Roberts: “I was retired for about 10 years and it is very hard – in a short answer – every body part of mine hurts right now from training. But it gives you a purpose. I guess I like goals. It is very similar to Comcast, and you don’t always win, but it is fun to try.” [JewishInsider]
“Israeli author David Grossman wins Man Booker International prize” by Sian Cain: “David Grossman’s “ambitious high-wire act of a novel”, A Horse Walks into a Bar, set around a standup comic’s rambling and confessional routine in an Israeli comedy club, has won the Man Booker International prize for the year’s best fiction in translation. Set in a small Israeli town, the novel is focused entirely on the act of comedian Dovaleh Greenstein. Taking to the stage to needle his audience with vulgar and aggressive jokes, Greenstein’s repellent performance begins to crumble as he reveals a fateful and gruesome decision he once made, which has haunted him ever since… Grossman, a bestselling writer of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books who has been translated into 36 languages, will share the £50,000 prize with his English translator, Jessica Cohen.” [Guardian]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Non-kissing cousins! Deutsch fighting challenge from family member” by Julianne Cuba: “Community Board 14 member Kalman Yeger, who announced last week he is running for the Council, is slamming his cousin-in-law and competitor for the seat, incumbent Councilman Chaim Deutsch, claiming he makes too much money from his private real estate to be an effective member of the city’s legislative body. “He’s one of the few council members who earns an outside income … while we are paying him to do a job,” said Yeger during a phone call on June 13. “It’s an outrage we are being ripped off.”… Yeger held a fund-raiser last month and has $84,615 in the bank for his campaign to oust the man who is married to Yeger’s cousin Sara.” [BrooklynDaily]
DESSERT: “The ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ Is Now a Tequila Drinker” by John Kell: “On Wednesday, Astral Tequila unveiled new advertisements that will feature [Jonathan] Goldsmith—who starred as the pitchman for Dos Equis beer for about a decade—instead advocating adult beverage drinkers enjoy tequila. “I told you, I don’t always drink beer,” Goldsmith says in the spot. “Astral Tequila.” In the ad, he notably does not mention Dos Equis by name.” [Fortune]
BIRTHDAYS: Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried turns 93… Iranian-born British billionaire, his companies employ 70,000 people in 67 countries, he was knighted in 1989 and made a life peer in 2004, Baron David Alliance turns 85… Co-founder with his father and brothers of Canadian radio and television conglomerate, Astral Media in 1961, he was president and CEO from 1996 until its $3.3 billion sale to Bell Canada in 2013, Ian Greenberg turns 75… Author, attorney, public speaker and president of the National Rifle Association (2005-2007) where she has served on the board since 1992, Sandra S. (Sandy) Froman turns 68… Billionaire, entrepreneur, currently living in Estonia, vice president of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, he has rebuilt a synagogue and a community center in Estonia, Alexander Bronstein Ph.D. turns 63… President and CEO of the public relations firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman turns 63… Born and educated in NYC, he moved to Warsaw in 2000 and became Chief Rabbi of Poland in 2004, Rabbi Michael Schudrich turns 62… Beverly Hills-based attorney at Harder Mirell & Abrams specializing in entertainment, intellectual property and litigation, former board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams turns 50… Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy managing editor at The New York Times where he manages the NYT’s digital platforms, Clifford J. Levy turns 50… CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash (born Dana Ruth Schwartz) turns 46… News and finance anchor at Yahoo! News and contributor to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, previously a weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, Bianna Golodryga turns 39… Director of Board Relations at Birthright Israel Foundation, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani turns 31… Digital journalist and producer for ABC News, daughter of Max Weinberg (longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), Ali S. Weinberg Rogin turns 30… Gerald Adler… Eli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter… Stuart Turtle… Joel Winton…
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