Daily Kickoff: The Trumpification of Bibi | How Facebook uses Israeli tech to squash startups | NBA visits Jerusalem | Patrick Drahi eyes Charter

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DEEP DIVE: WSJ A1 — How Israeli Company Onavo Helps Facebook Squash Competition From Startups — by Betsy Morris and Deepa Seetharaman: “Tech startups live by the rule that speed is paramount. Houseparty, creator of a hot video app, has an extra reason for urgency. Facebook, a dominant force in Silicon Valley, is stalking the company, part of the social network’s aggressive mimicking of smaller rivals. Facebook is being aided by an internal “early bird” warning system that identifies potential threats, according to people familiar with the technology.

Houseparty, formally known as Life on Air Inc., was one of the first startups to go all-in on video chat, with an app that lets small groups of friends drop into a video conversation as if hanging out in a dorm room. Two of Houseparty’s founders—Sima Sistani, 38, and Ben Rubin, 29—have been on the verge of success before. They previously led one of the first live-video-streaming apps, Meerkat. Facebook delivered the death blow to Meerkat by deciding to go full force into live video.”

Facebook uses an internal database to track rivals, including young startups performing unusually well, people familiar with the system say. The database stems from Facebook’s 2013 acquisition of a Tel Aviv-based startup, Onavo, which had built an app that secures users’ privacy by routing their traffic through private servers. The app gives Facebook an unusually detailed look at what users collectively do on their phones, these people say. The tool shaped Facebook’s decision to buy WhatsApp and informed its live-video strategy, they say.” [WSJ]

KAFE KNESSET — The Trumpification of Bibi — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: It appears that Netanyahu is more emboldened in the Trump era. He seems to be asking himself, ‘If Trump can get away with these things, why can’t I?’ Last night’s rally of thousands of Likudniks in support of Netanyahu, who is facing multiple corruption probes, was peak Trumpification. The Kafe Knesset team hasn’t been to any Trump rallies, but from our observation from afar, this seemed a lot like one.

Enemy number one for Netanyahu and his supporters, was, of course, none other than the fake news media. “The Left and the media — which are one and the same — are on an obsessive, unprecedented witch hunt against me and my family,” Netanyahu said, calling the media the “thought police.” Sound familiar, American readers? “And the ‘fake news media’ doesn’t talk about all the charity work Sarah does all the time for Holocaust survivors and kids with cancer,” Bibi lamented.

The crowd booed whenever Netanyahu mentioned the media, and a name-check of Ha’aretz warranted the loudest jeers. Someone held a large sign saying “It’s not fake news, it’s f***ing news” (which probably doesn’t mean what he thinks it means) and a Netanyahu supporter was spotted in a “CNN is fake news” t-shirt. Likudniks shouted in the faces of some of the more famous reporters present. Of course Netanyahu has long blamed the media for his problems. He didn’t need POTUS to get that idea. But the style seems to be imported from Trump Tower.

Spotted at the Likud rally: It’s August, so people like Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan were out of the country but Tourism Minister Yariv Levin went straight from the airport to Tel Aviv’s Fairgrounds in order to make it to the rally; firebrand MK Oren Hazan taking selfie after selfie after selfie, swarmed by Likudniks; Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who recently joined the party and is trying to curry favor with the grassroots; Bayit Yehudi MK Motti Yogev, who said that he thinks Netanyahu is being treated unfairly. Bayit Yehudi sources told Kafe Knesset that the party is not happy with Yogev’s stunt; former MK Shmuel Flatto-Sharon, builder of Dizengoff Center, who ran for Knesset even though he barely spoke any Hebrew, in order to get parliamentary immunity so he wouldn’t be extradited to France. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Supporters Rally Around Netanyahu Amid Police Probes” by Rory Jones: “Mr. Netanyahu has remained popular among his right-wing base because they view attacks against the leader as politically motivated attempts to force him from power, according to Mitchell Barak, a political analyst and director at Jerusalem-based Keevoon Global Research.” [WSJNYTimes]

“Netanyahu faces the political crisis of his life” by Aaron David Miller: “The end of Netanyahu does not mean the beginning of a serious peace process… Indeed it’s hard to see anyone in the Likud or right-wing universe that has the willingness and ability to lead boldly on the peace process… To identify the peace process as a key issue in an election, should Netanyahu meet his political demise, you’d need some real drama; a clear choice before the Israeli public of a popular candidate Israelis trust on security and a Palestinian or Arab partners offer of real peace and security. And that’s a stretch.” [CNN

Bibi’s distraction — NBA visits Jerusalem: President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with a delegation of leading figures from the National Basketball Association. The group was led by NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO Mark Tatum, and featured owners including Joe Lacob, of the Champion Golden State Warriors, Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Raptors and Alexander Lasry of the Milwaukee Bucks, along with NBA Hall of Fame members David Robinson and Wayne Embry.[PicYouTube] • Also spotted in Israel with the NBA delegation: Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer

“Aging and ailing, who will succeed current Palestinian leaders?” by Miriam Berger and Luke Baker: “”The situation is ripe for a power vacuum,” said Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and co-author of a biography of Abbas. “If (the Palestinians) rally behind one figure, I think there’s a chance of a peaceful transition. That looks less and less likely as it goes on.” … Currently, two names are most often mentioned as successors: Majid Faraj, 55, the head of intelligence, who often joins [Saeb] Erekat in negotiations; and Mahmoud Aloul, 67, the chief deputy to Abbas in Fatah and a former governor of Nablus.” [Reuters

“Meet The Jewish Hedge Fund Manager Behind The Taylor Force Act” by Hannah Dreyfus: “[Sander] Gerber showed the PA’s laws to Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Graham early in 2017. Graham immediately reintroduced legislation to cut U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority until it ceased incentivizing terror… Philanthropist Haim Saban and Sen. Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.) were “instrumental” in gaining bipartisan support for the bill, said Gerber… “Without Sander Gerber, this wouldn’t have happened,” said [a DC] insider, who added that Gerber stepped down from the AIPAC national board because of its hesitancy to support the legislation due to security concerns.” “Sander was really the key figure in all of this,” said Noah Pollak, a political consultant who worked closely with Gerber to help bring the bill to national prominence. “He was the one who was willing to make this a relentless focus.”” [JewishWeek]

“Anti-Defamation League Supports Controversial anti-BDS Bill: Act ‘Won’t Limit Free Speech'” by Amir Tibon: “The ADL explained in a statement that the legislation “is not intended to limit the First Amendment rights of U.S. individuals and companies who want to criticize Israel or penalize those who want to refuse to do business with Israel based on their own personal convictions.” … According to the ADL, “this narrowly-tailored legislation is designed simply to prevent boycott actions from being taken against Israel in compliance with major international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union.” [Haaretz

INBOX — ZOA report on Top NSC Adviser Lt. General H.R. McMaster“General McMaster’s record during these past few months can only lead to the conclusion that McMaster is opposed to President Trump’s basic policy positions on Israel, Iran, and Islamist terror. General McMaster is not the appropriate person to serve the Trump White House as top national security adviser. The ZOA strongly recommends that General McMaster be reassigned to a different role in this administration, unrelated to these critical issues.”

Dan Shapiro tweets: “ZOA claims, on the flimsiest of pretexts, that McMaster has “animus toward Israel” and “opposes Trump’s pro-Israel policies.” Nonsense. Every Israeli official who met McMaster has found him to be deeply sympathetic, friendly, consistent with longstanding US support for Israel… The ZOA rant dresses up normal policy differences on the Iran deal, the fight vs ISIS, etc. as some kind of betrayal of Israel. That baloney is really just a cover for taking sides in the White House personnel wars.” [Twitter]

TOP TALKER: “U.S. Ambassador Haley Loses Two Key Aides at United Nations” by Kambiz Foroohar: “[Nikki] Haley’s Chief of Staff Steven Groves resigned, as did her communications director Jonathan Wachtel. Haley said on Twitter Wednesday it was because of “family concerns.” The departures also come ahead of Haley’s trip to Vienna to review Iran’s nuclear activities with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. Groves, an adviser who had arrived from the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation had argued for the U.S. to “sever relations” with UN’s Human Rights Council for criticizing Israel.” [Bloomberg]

IRAN DEAL: Ambassador Nikki Haley heading to Vienna to review Iran nuclear activities — by Michelle Nichols: “U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will travel to Vienna later this month to… meet with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials and the U.S. delegation in Vienna to further explore the extent of Iran’s nuclear activities… “Ambassador Haley has consistently voiced her and the administration’s concerns about Iran’s illegal missile testing and other harmful actions,” said [a] U.S. official.” [Reuters

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Another country with nuclear aspirations is watching the North Korean stand-off very closely” by Jason Gewirtz: “The concern, some say, is that Tehran will see that if North Korea can get away with building a nuclear weapon in spite of U.S. protests, then it can too. Matt Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said he believes North Korean progress may lead Iran to try to become the next nuclear power. “It’s a human and emotional response, but also logical,” he said of Tehran’s possible goals.” [CNBC]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes on MSNBC: “This is the most dangerous flashpoint in the world, so every word that a president speaks about North Korea is usually carefully crafted and vetted with the secretary of defense, with the secretary of state. Frankly, we would preview any new language with our allies. And clearly, it seems, in this case, that none of that happened… Frankly, we’ve seen him make extreme statements and false statements about all manner of things,” Rhodes said. “It’s more concerning when you’re talking about nuclear weapons.”

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “As Trump Unnerves Asia, China Sees an Opening” by Jane Perlez: “There may also be a scheduling reason for the mildness of China’s response. Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, the White House adviser Jared Kushner, are scheduled to visit China next month with their children. Mr. Kushner is a primary White House contact for China, and Beijing is putting considerable effort into ensuring that the visit goes smoothly. The visit is also seen as a planning operation for Mr. Trump’s own trip to China in November. Images of Mr. Kushner, his wife and their children at a family dinner with Mr. Xi at his Beijing estate, Zhongnanhai, would fit well into Mr. Xi’s playbook of appearing to have “the world in its proper orbit, around him,” said Douglas Paal, vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL: “Blowback from staffer scandal burns Wasserman Schultz” by Marc Caputo: “The chatter about a House leadership post is gone. So is talk of statewide office. After Hillary Clinton’s defeat, there’s no prospect of an administration job for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. One year after the Florida congresswoman’s resignation as national party chair at the Democratic National Convention… the once-rising star’s political fortunes continue to fade, beset by critics on all sides. Wasserman Schultz is again on defense after steadfastly refusing to explain why she continued to employ Imran Awan, an IT staffer who was under a federal investigation for alleged equipment and data scam in the U.S. House since February… Florida’s first Jewish woman to serve in Congress, Wasserman Schultz remains relatively popular in her heavily Jewish district. U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat who has known Wasserman Schultz for two decades, credited her work ethic and “brilliance.”” [Politico

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BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: “A French Israeli entrepreneur is intent on a multi-billion dollar dealmaking spree in the US” by Graham Rapier: “Patrick Drahi, the billionaire founder of Dutch telecoms company Altice, is back on the acquisition trail. The communications giant, which raised $1.9 billion in an IPO of its US arm earlier this summer, is reportedly weighing a bid for Charter Communications. After buying Cablevision for $17.7 billion last year to become the 4th largest cable provider in the country, Altice USA could rise to number 3 with an acquisition of Charter, only behind Time Warner and Comcast… Drahi was born in 1963 in Casablanca, Morocco to a two math teachers, both Moroccan Jews.” [BusinessInsiderCNBC]

BRIEFS: Is Aby Rosen’s New Four Seasons a Success? [Town&CountryMag] • Russian Entrepreneur Launches BitCoen, ‘The First Kosher Cryptocurrency’ — a tenth of the company’s earnings will be made available as interest-free loans [HaaretzCNews• Leviathan Partners in Talks to Pipe Gas to Egypt Via Jordan [Bloomberg] • Mobileye Calling the Shots from Israel After Intel Acquisition [Driverless] • A German-Israeli artist who accused Twitter of failing to tackle anti-Semitic and racist hate speech has taken revenge by stenciling offending tweets outside the company’s office in Hamburg [IBTimes]

Iranian blogger says she feels ‘safe’ after reaching Israel: “An Iranian blogger who wrote for an Israeli news website and who left her country for life in exile says she feels “safe now” after finally reaching Israel. Neda Amin spoke at a press conference with David Horovitz, editor of the Times Of Israel, where her work has appeared… The 32-year-old has been living in Turkey since 2014… Amin says Turkish authorities recently told her she would be deported to Iran and that she was in “such danger.” Horovitz says he felt an obligation to Amin and that he persuaded Israeli authorities to help bring her to Israel.” [AP]

Can One Rabbi Disrupt the Bar and Bat Mitzvah Industry?” by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein: “Rabbi Moshe Cohen, of LA’s Community Shul, started a program recently called the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Experience… The project consists of six one-hour Sunday sessions. “Through our program,” observed Rabbi Cohen, “a teenager comes away with a clear understanding of what it means to be a Jew, what is a mitzvah, what is the Torah, and what is the land of Israel.” … Rob Eshman, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal… points out that, “Jewish institutions…have found ways to make it easier for Jews to afford practicing Judaism.”” [HuffPost]

“Town response to Jewish community stirs anti-Semitism fears” by Jessica Li: “While arguing over the expansion of Monsey, New York’s “eruv” …  the town of Mahwah is also reconsidering a new law limiting its parks and playgrounds to New Jersey residents. The law came after residents complained of families with New York license plates using a park near the border, but the county’s prosecutor ordered the police not to enforce it after Mahwah’s police chief raised concerns that people reporting violations were targeting Jews. “What’s your real target and agenda here?” said Rabbi Moses Witriol, a frequent liaison between Mahwah’s police force and the Hasidic Jewish community, who questioned the motives of the councilmembers who backed the measure.” [AP]

“Losing Side Wants Review in Fight Over Oldest US Synagogue” by Michelle Smith: “Worshippers at the nation’s oldest synagogue plan to ask for a rehearing following an appeals court decision that gave ownership of their Rhode Island house of worship and bells worth millions of dollars to a New York congregation, according to a filing this week with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals… Lou Solomon, who represents the New York congregation and heads its board of trustees, said he agreed to a two-week extension for the other side to petition for a rehearing as a professional courtesy.” [AP]

TOP-OP: “I did not march for hate” by Ann Lewis: “I marched (in Women’s March) because I believe, as Hillary Clinton told the United Nations Conference on Women in 1995, that women’s rights are human rights. I believe that America is stronger with allies who share our democratic values, including women’s rights. I did not march to show support for hateful, divisive language that tries to expel Zionists like myself and my friends from the women’s movement by defining feminism as available only to those who deny Israel the right to exist… I did not march because I agree with the expulsion of women holding Star of David flags from a march for LGBT rights, on the astounding claim that this historic symbol of the Jewish people is threatening to some people.” [WashJewishWeek]

HOLLYWOOD: “Conservative Koch Brothers Are Secret Investors in ‘Wonder Woman’” by Tatiana Siegel: “Sources say Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch… took a significant stake valued at tens of millions of dollars in RatPac-Dune Entertainment. Now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought the brothers in as investors as part of a $450 million deal struck in 2013 — a move that was never disclosed because RatPac-Dune is a private company. Though Mnuchin is no longer involved with the slate financing facility… the Koch brothers continue to be stakeholders in such films as Wonder Woman, Dunkirk and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One.” [THR

DESSERT: “An Iraqi-Kurdish-Israeli Dumpling Soup Makes Its Way To America” by Devra Ferst: “In the U.S., “there’s no restaurant where someone from the MTA and Barack Obama would sit back to back,” says Naama Shefi, who founded the Jewish Food Society. “But in Israel, at Azura, you could definitely see someone like Bibi [Netanyahu] next to a bus driver,” eating the restaurant’s famed kubeh and hummus. The soup has woven itself into Israeli culture. “It became the culinary term most identified with Mizrachi cookery,” or the food of the Jews who settled in the Middle East, Gil Marks noted in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. It’s “the equivalent of the Ashkenazi gefilte fish.”” [NPR

“The Rise Of Israeli Food In London” by Suze Olbrich: “The vibrancy of the Israeli dining scene in London at the moment gives an authentic insight into eating out in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Populated by a mosaic of immigrant communities, the tiny nation gives curious chefs the chance to learn from dozens of inherent and adopted traditions… And this ambitious, omnivorous and, above all, convivial spirit is becoming increasingly palpable in London. In the 15 years since Mr Yotam Ottolenghi and Mr Sami Tamimi first turned Brits on to the Levant’s remarkable bounty, heady blends of Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean flavours have also been plated up at the likes of The Palomar, Berber & Q, Honey & Co. and The Good Egg.” [MrPorter]

“What Is Kosher Salt, and Why Is it 100% Better Than Iodized Table Salt?” by Alex Delany: “OK, but other than not having iodine in it, what is kosher salt, anyways? Is it blessed by a rabbi? Is it actually kosher? Well, it can be. But really, kosher salt is called kosher salt because the size of its crystals is ideal for drawing out moisture from meat, making it perfect for use in the koshering process. That’s also why we love to use it for cooking almost everything. Kosher salt is the MVP of our breakfast, lunch, and dinner seasoning game.” [BonAppétit]

BIRTHDAYS: Maverick US District Court judge in the Eastern District of New York since 1967, he also served as chief judge of the district (1980-1988) and took senior status in 1993, Judge Jack B. Weinstein turns 96… NYC-based real estate developer, he is the founder and principal of Clipper Equity focused on the conversion of non-residential buildings to residential uses, David Bistricer turns 68… Born in Johannesburg, she was elected to Parliament in 1994 and then served as the ninth Governor of the South African Reserve Bank (2009-2014), the first woman to hold that position, Gill Marcus turns 68… Conservative Rabbi who serves as the Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance since January 2015, he is a former director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Rabbi Jack Moline turns 65… Austrian journalist, writer and the current director of the Jewish Museum of Vienna, she was a founder of the German language magazine “Nu” devoted to Jewish politics and culture, Danielle Spera turns 60… Winner of a special election in 2015 to the California State Senate, he was previously the mayor of Orinda and an advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, Steven Mitchell Glazer turns 60… Early employee of Yahoo in the early 1990s, then a member of the Florida State Senate (2006-2016), Jeremy Ring turns 47… Senior development officer of the NYC-based Tikvah Fund, Eytan Sosnovich turns 34… Jason Reyes… Robert Feldman… Eliza Daddario… Ella Raevskaya

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