Daily Kickoff: Amb. Friedman says Trump’s ‘both sides’ remark “wasn’t fine” | Bob Kraft introduced Dershowitz to Trump | Victoria Coates’ new role

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TOP TALKER: “Israel Wants Russia and U.S. to Know It Can Wreck Syria Deal” by David Wainer: “Current and former senior Israeli security officials say Netanyahu wants Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump to take Israel’s security concerns into account as they try to stabilize Syria. Moshe Ya’alon, who served as Israel’s defense minister during the war, said Israel may be forced to strike militarily if Iran isn’t expelled. “We had the expectation that a deal between Trump and Putin would deal with the Iranian threat on our border,” Ya’alon said in an interview in Tel Aviv. “It’s clear that if there is no solution, in the end we might have to take action ourselves.” … Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Moscow… expects Netanyahu and Putin “will try to find a solution in which the Iranians can stay in Syria under Russian control,” with no military units and no military bases.” [Bloomberg

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: While Bibi is meeting Putin in Sochi, the US special envoy to Syria, Michael Ratney, is in Jerusalem this week, Kafe Knesset has learned. Ratney will be meeting senior Foreign and Defense Ministry officials, as part of “a regular and ongoing dialogue between Israel and the White House,” a senior Israeli official said. At the same time, the Prime Minister’s office went out of its way to reject recent criticism of the US administration and clarify that the dialogue is productive and strong. Before embarking to Russia, PMO officials briefed reporters that the security delegation lead by Mossad head Yossi Cohen came back from the White House last week “very satisfied with the US thorough understanding of the Israeli positions about the increasing Iranian presence in Syria and agreed to continue constant contact on the matter.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Talks Reassure Israel That U.S. Wants Iran Out of Syria” by Eli Lake: “Last Thursday, a senior delegation of Israelis started consultations with their U.S. counterparts to begin planning a wider strategy to pressure Iran, Hezbollah and other Shiite militias to leave the Levant… One senior National Security Council official told me the plan was to make it “less pleasant for Iran to stay than to leave.” A senior Israeli official confirmed that the two sides agreed to work together on a regional strategy to address Iran’s efforts to expand its presence in Syria and Lebanon… Trump’s team has also pursued cooperation with Russia in Syria, but has not sought such cooperation with Iran… The meeting last week with the Israelis helped smooth an important ally’s ruffled feathers.”

“The meeting also counters a narrative put out by McMaster’s adversaries in Washington that he is hostile to Israel. The Israeli official told me that he was particularly generous with his time, inviting the delegation to his home for dinner and impressing on the Israelis the importance the president places on countering Iranian influence in the Middle East… Both Israeli and U.S. officials tell me they expect more working-level follow-ups on the consultations.” [BloombergView]

“Kushner heads to Israel for latest attempt at peace deal” by Tracy Wilkinson and Noah Bierman: “Kushner, [Jason] Greenblatt and Dina Powell have spent the last two days in the region meeting leaders from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia… They will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders separately Thursday… The State Department, which would normally lead the search for a diplomatic solution, has taken a back seat to the Kushner missions. “We provide backup assistance to them and attend meetings with them,” said Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman. “And then upon their return we do a debrief and have conversations about what they learned and where things stand.”” [LATimes

“McMaster adds muscle to Kushner’s Middle East peace effort” by Annie Karni: “By bringing on Victoria Coates, Greenblatt would get a senior point of contact on the NSC who would be fully devoted to his project. McMaster, too, was pleased with the arrangement: it helped integrate what Greenblatt and Kushner had been doing with his NSC desk. The group saw it as a win-win-win, and the move was quickly finalized. Coates, an art historian and a longtime Republican foreign policy adviser, was promoted to senior director of international negotiations and moved offices to sit with Greenblatt’s team in the Old Executive Office Building, across the street from the White House.”

“The move, White House officials and outside advisers said, underscored the administration’s commitment to brokering a Middle East peace deal, even amid recent setbacks in the region. And it showed the unorthodox administration giving a bigger partnership role in the region to the NSC — the traditional forum where foreign policy decisions are brokered… Coates is a spirited choice to work with Kushner and Greenblatt, two Trump loyalists who are new to politics and foreign policy. Former colleagues described her as whip-smart but high-intensity and sometimes territorial.” [Politico]

Kushner met with King Abdullah II in Jordan yesterday: “Talks focused on efforts to push forward the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and re-launch serious and effective negotiations between the two sides based on the two-state solution, which is the only way to end the conflict, a Royal Court statement said. His Majesty stressed the pivotal role of US, underlining President Trump’s commitment to working for a peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” [JordanTimes] • Saudi crown prince discusses Mideast peace with U.S. officials [Reuters

“Frustrated with US, Abbas said to be weighing dissolving the PA” by Dov Lieber: “According to the report in the Lebanese daily Al Hayat… Abbas is waiting for Kushner and Trump’s envoy to the region Jason Greenbelt to give him a written response to his conditions for returning to the negotiating table, namely “freezing settlement construction in the West Bank and working towards a two-state solution.”” [ToI

“Palestinians have spent decades battling Israel. Now they’re battling each other” by Shira Rubin: “The Middle East’s next war may not be another flare-up between Israel and the Palestinians. It could be a civil war between the Palestinians themselves… Hamas’s street cred is based on more than just rhetoric. Over the years, Hamas has said that its use of violence has succeeded in bringing Israel to the negotiating table. Abbas, on the other hand, has little to show after years of issuing statements about peace and shaking hands with his Israeli counterparts… Hamas’s sustained rule on the strip ironically supports its primary enemy, Israel, which has long insisted that Abbas cannot be a partner for peace because he has no sway over the Gaza Strip. That leaves Abbas stuck uncomfortably between Hamas and Israel… Abbas needs Israel’s security backing, and its American funders, to prevent Hamas from challenging Abbas’s rule in the West Bank.” [Vox

JI INTERVIEW — Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, explained the broad pessimism about a chance for substantial progress during Kushner’s Middle East tour. “I am pretty skeptical – just because you have chaos going on in the U.S. right now, chaos obviously in Israel — with the Prime Minister under investigation — and a coalition that really has no interest in pursuing the two-state solution,” Goldenberg said in a phone interview with JI’s Aaron Magid. “On the Palestinian side, you have total dysfunction as well, and they are all absorbed in their own potential future succession issues and internal Hamas-Fatah competition. And the Gulf states are also at each other’s throats with this whole Saudi-Qatar mess.”

Re tensions over Iranian presence in Syria: “The notion that the US will keep Iran out of large chunks of Syria that Iran is already in and where Assad holds power, I think that’s unrealistic. That ship has sailed,” he explained. “I actually think the United States should be willing to have some forces on the ground to enforce some of these ceasefires especially in the southwest where we are worried about the Jordanian and Israeli borders.”

Comparing the tensions between Jerusalem and the Trump administration on Syria with the dispute over the Iranian nuclear deal, Goldenberg emphasized the current situation is hardly extraordinary. “Israel is unwilling to accept any risk whereas the U.S. is willing to accept more risk and that causes greater disagreement,” he added.
Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

SCENE IN JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Netanyahu met with a bipartisan Congressional delegation last night at his office in Jerusalem. Netanyahu “thanked them for supporting Israel; discussed regional security challenges,” according to a PMO readout. [Pic]

Amb. David Friedman: Trump’s ‘Both Sides’ Remark ‘Wasn’t Fine’ — by Jacob Kornbluh: “I think the reaction wasn’t fine,” Friedman told reporters during a ceremony celebrating the arrival of El Al’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Tel Aviv. But Friedman – who served as one of Trump’s advisors on Israel and Jewish-related matters during the presidential campaign — maintained that the President  “was treated very unfairly in the media. People should give him a chance, and I think he will really do a great job for America. These incidents don’t reflect who he is, what the U.S. administration is.” [JewishInsider]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: “Donald Trump defends Charlottesville responses, omits reference to ‘many sides’” by Eric Bradner: “”What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America. And tonight, this entire arena stands united against the thugs who perpetrate hatred and violence,” Trump told the crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center, adding, “I strongly condemn neo-Nazis, white Supremacists and the KKK.” Trump spent roughly 15 minutes near the top of his remarks going through each of the three public statements he made in response to the violence at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville… Trump omitted his reference to “many sides” … and his reference to “both sides” last Tuesday, comments seen as equating neo-Nazis with counterprotesters.” [CNN

“At Rally, Trump Blames Media for Country’s Deepening Divisions” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman: “Removing his statements about the violence from his jacket pocket, Mr. Trump glibly ticked off a list of racist groups that he had been urged to explicitly denounce, and ultimately did two days later… “I hit ’em with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there, Let’s see. K.K.K., we have K.K.K.,” Mr. Trump said.” [NYTimes

Abe Foxman (now on Twitter @FoxmanAbraham) emails us… ”How terribly sad tonight. A president unwilling or unable to face up to the truth. He may never be able to set it straight as long as he denies the truth.”

On CNN, Foxman recalls meeting with Trump over Mar-a-Lago: “I learned 30 years ago, this man can’t take criticism and won’t apologize. And you know what? He hasn’t changed one iota.” [CNN

“CNN’s Don Lemon Unloads on Trump’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Facts’ in Phoenix” by Matt Wilstein: “What we have witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts,” Lemon said. “Someone who came out on stage and lied directly to the American people. And left things out that he said in an attempt to rewrite history, especially when it comes to Charlottesville.” [DailyBeast

Noa Tishby on Trump: “If you have been following Scott Adams, you know why. Adams speaks eloquently about Trump’s magical powers of persuasion… Adams also points out that Trump doesn’t necessarily lie. I mean, he clearly DOES LIE but he also uses something Adams has referred to as “Emotional Truth.” In a nutshell, Trump is not saying things that can be backed up with any facts, but to a lot of people it kinda sorta sounds true. He may not have seen a tape of Arabs dancing on rooftops ‪after 9/11 — but it emotionally sounds like it could be true enough, doesn’t it? And it’s not like he can prove that Obama “wiretapped” him, but in the wake of the confusing unmasking news, doesn’t it sound like some of it could maybe possibly be true?” [JewishJournal]

“Binyamin Netanyahu is soft on anti-Semitism when it suits him” by The Economist: “To some it looks as if Mr Netanyahu only sees anti-Semitism in those who oppose his policies.” [Economist]

DRIVING THE DAY: “U.N. ambassador says Trump has not decided his next move on Iran nuclear deal” by Anne Gearan: “We have no decision made. The president doesn’t have a decision made,” [Nikki] Haley said in an interview. “What we are doing is trying to find out as much information as we can.” Haley will be in Vienna on Wednesday for meetings with the International Atomic Energy Agency… Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, complained to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano that Haley’s visit was intended to sow doubt about the agreement… Haley dismissed Iran’s implication that she is searching for ammunition. “I find it interesting that Iran is so worried about me going to Vienna,” she said. “If they don’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t be concerned about me asking questions of the IAEA.”” [WashPostReuters

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “After US cuts, delays aid to Egypt, Kushner snubbed in Cairo” by Menna Zaki: “White House adviser Jared Kushner and visiting U.S. officials were snubbed by the Foreign Ministry in Cairo on Wednesday in apparent protest over the Trump administration’s move to cut and delay aid to Egypt. Egypt’s top diplomat, Sameh Shoukry, was to meet with the U.S. delegation headed by Kushner, but a modified version of the minister’s schedule showed the meeting had been called off, shortly after the Americans landed in Cairo… Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was still due to meet with the American delegation.” [AP

BANNON VS. KUSHNER: “Emails: Breitbart editor pledges to do ‘dirty work’ for Bannon, smears Ivanka” by Oliver Darcy and Jake Tapper: “A self-described “email prankster” seemingly fooled top editors at Breitbart over the weekend into believing he was Steve Bannon… In the emails, Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow pledged that he and several other top editors would do Bannon’s “dirty work” against White House aides… Marlow suggested he could have Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump ousted from the White House “by end of year” and shared a personal smear about their private lives…  In another email thread, the prankster seemed to fool Joel Pollak, Breitbart’s senior editor-at-large. “No one can figure out what [Ivanka Trump and Kushner] do,” Pollak wrote.” [CNNMoney

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Trump and McConnell Locked in a Cold War, Threatening the G.O.P. Agenda” by Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin: “During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.”[NYTimes

“How Alan Dershowitz Went From Hillary Donor to Trump’s Attack Dog on Russia” by Betsy Woodruff: “A person familiar with the president’s legal affairs said there are concerns Dershowitz has talked about legal affairs with Trump. Dershowitz told The Daily Beast this isn’t true. He said he and the president have spoken, but never privately. He said the two men spoke at Mar-a-Lago once when Dershowitz dined there with Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy… Besides Ruddy, Dershowitz and the president share a number of friends and acquaintances, including Patriots owner Bob Kraft. The two men met years ago in Kraft’s suite at a Patriots game, he said…”

“Norm Eisen, the chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, sometimes spars with Dershowitz on cable news and on Twitter. And like many of the most prominent legal figures in Washington, he was once one of Dershowitz’s students at Harvard Law. “Agree or disagree, he’s absolutely consistent in advocating for the narrowest possible reasonable application of criminal law and of the importance of not politicizing it,” Eisen said.”[DailyBeast]

** 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: Saudi Aramco IPO Sparks Rush to Privatize in Middle East [WSJ• KKR closes in on $3 billion pledge from New York City pension system [Crains] • Herbalife has a plan that could ‘squeeze’ hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman [BusinessInsider] • Teddy Sagi’s Playtech expands its financial trading business [TheTimes]

“Trump’s Billionaire Donors Miss Out on Post-Election Stock Gains” by Brendan Coffey and Jack Witzig: “Trump’s wealthiest supporter is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose fortune has risen 4 percent since the election, making him the world’s 24th-richest person with $31.5 billion.”[Bloomberg]

PROFILE: “He’s No Casino Mogul But Steve Winn Ranks as a Billionaire Too” by Brendan Coffey: “You’re forgiven if you think Steve Winn is a billionaire casino mogul. “I am routinely told that I’m not the real Steve Wynn, which is always good for a laugh,” said Winn, the 70-year-old founder and chief executive officer of RealPage Inc., a maker of software for managing multifamily rental properties. While the business may not have the glitz and glamour of the Vegas Strip, it’s still lucrative and has helped him amass a $1.1 billion fortune…”

“As for being a billionaire, Winn said it isn’t “relevant to really any part of me.” And it wasn’t even needed for his father to get VIP treatment when he checked in at the Mirage in Las Vegas. When it came up in conversation that he was Steve Winn’s father, the staff thought he was referring to the hotel’s founder. “Dad said he didn’t understand why he got the presidential suite for only $500 per night.” [Businessweek]

Former White Nationalist Derek Black on ‘The Daily’ podcast: “Derek Black, a former white nationalist and a godson of David Duke, spoke with Michael Barbaro in an episode of “The Daily” … [Black] describes his experience growing up in a white nationalist family… and how he turned on the white nationalist movement… “He had read my posts on Stormfront going back years — even the stuff when I was a teenager — and he doubted that he was going to convince me of anything, he just wanted to let me see a Jewish community thing so that if I was going to keep saying these anti-Semitic things that at least I had seen real Jews. It was ultimately in private conversations with a person I met at the Shabbat dinners … we would talk about things. Not only white nationalism, but eventually white nationalism… And we did that over a year or two on one thing after another until I got to a point where I didn’t believe it anymore.”” [NYTimes]

“Billy Joel dons Jewish star against Neo-Nazis” by Lisa Respers: “Joel, whose parents are Jewish, wore the symbolic yellow stars on the front and back of his jacket while performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City… Ray, his 31-year-old daughter with Brinkley, also posted about it on social media. “THAT’S MY POP!!! Proud Jewish New Yorker Through & Through!!!!! REPRESENT! STAND STRONG,” she wrote.” [CNN

COMING SOON: Jerry Seinfeld’s First Netflix Special Gets Premiere Date: “Jerry Before Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld’s first stand-up special since 1998’s I’m Telling You for the Last Time, is set for a Netflix premiere on September 19. In the special, Seinfeld will return to The Comic Strip in New York City, where he started his career… The special is part of a $100 million deal Seinfeld made with Netflix that also includes old and new episodes of his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” [DailyBeast]

MEDIA WATCH: “Mic’s drop: How Mic exploited social justice for clicks, and then abandoned a staff that believed in it” by Adrianne Jeffries: “The site started in 2010 as PolicyMic, an evenhanded, forgettable politics website where unpaid contributors posted commentary that could be upvoted by other site members. The PolicyMic origin story was that Chris Altchek, a Goldman Sachs banker who leaned conservative, was always debating his friend Jake Horowitz, a foreign policy columnist for Change.org who leaned liberal. The two had fierce debates about the issues of the day, and they wanted to convert that spirit into a website “to help our generation talk about the issues that really matter,” Horowitz said.” [TheOutline]

SPORTS BLINK: “Patriots gave President Trump Super Bowl ring as thank-you for White House visit” by Scott Gleeson: “Patriots spokesman Stacey James told USA TODAY Sports that during the team’s championship visit, Trump mentioned to Kraft, a longtime friend, how honored he was that the Patriots were the first team to visit the White House during his presidency. Although the team came bearing traditional gifts on that occasion — a jersey and a helmet — Kraft decided that another gesture was necessary… James said that of the five times the Patriots have visited the White House, this one included the best treatment — in Kraft’s eyes — by allowing the most time with the President and including the most impressive White House tour. James said that Trump received a customized ring that mirrored what Patriots players and staff received following their Super Bowl victory.” [USAToday

DESSERT — “The team behind Hawaiian-founded art festival POW! WOW! recently headed to Israel and Jordan for a road trip to connect with its roots. The team described the trip as taking them “back to the festival’s humble beginnings with a small family road trip – couch surfing around Israel and Jordan to collaborate, contribute, share culture, and beautify communities with art.” You can watch what went down on POW! WOW!’s Israel and Jordan road trip in the above video, which was released by the festival to mark the experience.” [HypeBeast]

BIRTHDAYS: Professor Emeritus at MIT and 1987 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Solow turns 93… Owner of many car dealerships and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1985 to 1994, Norman Bramanturns 85… Retired South African hotelier, he was a leading international developer and operator of destination resorts and luxury hotels, Sol Kerznerturns 82… Owner of Paper Capers, a stationery, custom invitation and gift store located in Livingston New Jersey, Leslie Mayesh turns 70… Former MLB player (1969-1978), he was the first designated hitter in MLB history (on 4-6-1973) and was the manager of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox in the Israel Baseball League (2007), Ron Blomberg turns 69… General Counsel of Eastern Savings Bank in Hunt Valley, Maryland, Richard Zeskind turns 60… Member of Knesset since 1996, representing the Labor Party, Eitan Cabel turns 58… South African-born entrepreneur, he is the founder and was the CEO and later Chairman of Wonga, a British financial technology company (one of the first fin-techs in the world), Errol Damelin turns 48… ESPN’s and ABC’s sportswriter, reporter and author, he has won eight Emmy Awards, Jeremy Schaap turns 48… Rabbi Josh Kohl turns 47… Israeli supermodel, born in Haifa, Mor Katzir turns 37… Senior advisor for policy and speechwriter for President Donald Trump, he was previously the communications director for then-Alabama senator, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Stephen Millerturns 32…

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