Jewish Insider Kickoff


Senators sign letter demanding Obama take harder line against Iran: “Seventy-six senators on Monday signed a letter demanding the Obama administration take a harder line to stop Iran’s nuclear program, including weighing possible military options. The letter is signed by conservative lawmakers including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), as well as prominent Democrats including Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Barbara Mikulski (Md.). Lawmakers called on President Obama to “bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process.” “Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end,” they said.” [TheHill]

First Look – August issue of The Tower Magazine: Deep in Africa, Tehran Spreads Its Tentacles by Amrin Rosen. “While Iran may seem diplomatically isolated, in Africa it has used uncoventional tactics to support its terror network and build its nuclear program.” [Full story

The Southern Kibbutzim, Under Fire and Losing Faith by Liam Hoare in The Tower: “The communities of the Eshkol region continue to suffer from daily rocket fire from Gaza. A visit there reveals a mix of patience, long-developing fatigue, ideological questioning and remarkable spiritual resolve.” [Full story]

NYTimes – Across Forbidden Border, Doctors in Israel Quietly Tend to Syria’s Wounded: “As fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels has raged in recent months in areas close to the Israeli-held Golan Heights, scores of Syrian casualties have been discreetly spirited across the hostile frontier for what is often lifesaving treatment in Israel, an enemy country.” [NYTimes]

George Soros-funded Foundations Contribute to Anti-Israel Groups: “Billionaire George Soros’ network of foundations contributes tens of millions of dollars annually to groups that wage “political warfare” against Israel, according to a new report. The report by NGO Monitor tracks the finances of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which are headquartered in New York City and provide grants to numerous domestic and international programs—including several in the Middle East. OSF’s global network spent almost $910 million in 2012.

Several of the OFS-sponsored groups support boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns against Israel, equate Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with South Africa’s former apartheid regime, and in some cases deny Israel’s right to exist. “[The funding of groups by OSF entities] suggests a pattern of institutional hostility to Israel that really doesn’t advance the cause of peaceful coexistence and a negotiated settlement,” Alexander Joffe, historian and author of the report, told the Washington Free Beacon. Soros has criticized Israel and donated large sums to groups that focus their work on criticizing the Jewish state. He awarded his largest ever grant of $100 million to the controversial group Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2010, after HRW’s founder publicly censured the group over directing the “brunt” of its criticism toward Israel.” [Free Beacon]

Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank netted millions from Jewish donors including Bernard Marcus, Paul Singer, and Sheldon Adelson according to previously unpublished filings. [Salon]

GALLUP: Jews and Mormons have largest percentage of nonsmokers in the U.S. – “Smoking in the U.S. is highly correlated with religiosity, with those who never attend church almost three times as likely to smoke as those who attend weekly. This relationship holds even when controlling for demographic characteristics associated with smoking and church attendance. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon faith provides an example. Mormon doctrine prohibits smoking, and although about 8% of Americans who identify as Mormons smoke regardless, this smoking rate is less than half of the 20% found for the general adult population in 2012. This suggests that Mormon doctrine does have an effect on smoking among LDS members. Mormons are also significantly more likely to attend church on a weekly basis than any of these other religious groups. The smoking rate among Jewish Americans is almost as low as that of Mormons, and while some Jewish scholars argue that rabbinic law forbids smoking, this is not an official part of Jewish theological doctrine.” [Gallup]

Jewish Activists Unite for RespectAbility: “Two prominent Jewish activists have joined forces for an unexpected cause. Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder of the activism group The Israel Project, and Donn Weinberg, former chairman of mega-charity the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation (HJWF), have come together to create RespectAbility, a Washington, D.C. based non-sectarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to achieve “the American Dream,” by improving employment opportunities for the 57 million citizens with some form of disability.” [TabletMag]

Jewish volunteer groups battle over Bikur Cholim name: “A Jewish volunteer group that helps people at Maimonides and other Brooklyn hospitals is furious that another nearby organization has started using a similar name to solicit donations. The Bikur Cholim Chesed Volunteer Organization of Borough Park – established more than 50 years ago to help Holocaust survivors – issued a warning against the Guardians of the Sick/Bikur Cholim of Borough Park Organization.” [New York Daily News]

BUSINESS BRIEFS

After 21 years, one of New Jersey’s longest-running civil lawsuits, which happens to be between two Jewish families, is finally coming to an end: “After 21 years, four judges and allegations of both chicanery and evil, one of New Jersey’s longest-running civil lawsuits is finally nearing conclusion as Judge Deanne Wilson summarized her findings in the case today. Her decision followed a two-year trial that clogged a courtroom with boxes piled high with paper and may have set records for lawyers’ and accountants’ fees in a single case. It will take two weeks for Judge Deanne Wilson to finish providing all the details and list the damages to be paid by a prominent New Jersey family that has built more than 100 shopping centers and housing developments, and is embarking on construction of a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.

When all is said and done, it appears that Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf, multi-millionaire leader of his family’s Short Hills-based real estate empire and principal owner of the Vikings, will wind up at the losing end of the long-running case. The Wilfs’ business partners claimed family members systematically cheated them out of their fair share of revenues from Rachel Gardens, a 764-unit apartment complex in Montville, by running what amounted to “organized-crime-type activities” in their bookkeeping practices that gave the Wilfs a disproportionate share of the income. Wilson found that Zygmunt Wilf, along with his brother, Mark, and their cousin, Leonard, committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and also violated the state’s civil racketeering statute, or RICO.

The partners, Ada Reichmann of Toronto and her brother, Josef Halpern of Brooklyn, the longtime former on-site manager at Rachel Gardens, are entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, triple damages under the RICO statute, a redistribution of revenues dating to 1992 and reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees, Judge Wilson said.” [Star Ledger]

The Daily Mail Reveals ‘America’s most modest billionaire: Jewish tycoon worth $11Bn is so down-to-earth that neighbors don’t recognize him – on street where average home in $294,000’: “Richard B. Cohen is the third generation owner of supermarket supplying giant C&S Wholesale Grocers. He lives with his family on a street in Keene, New Hampshire where the average residence costs just $294,000. But the 61-year-old married father-of-three has a net worth of $11.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg index. His business – the largest grocery wholesaler in the world – had sales of $21.7 billion last year. The Holocaust studies center at Keene State College was renamed after the Cohens in gratitude of the family’s financial support, according to the school’s website.” [Daily Mail]

(More public Jewish) Billionaire Pritzker Purchases Rest of Commune Hotels: “Billionaire John Pritzker, the son of the late founder of the Hyatt Hotels Corp. chain, bought the 50 percent of closely held Commune Hotels and Resorts that he didn’t already own for an undisclosed amount. Through his private-equity firm Geolo Capital, Pritzker purchased the stake from the Pomeranc brothers — Jason, Michael and Lawrence — who had formed a joint venture with Pritzker in October 2011. The three contributed hotels from their Thompson chain, founded by the brothers in 2001, to the partnership.” [Bloomberg]

Ritz-Carlton to open first hotel in Israel in late 2013: “The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has confirmed their first hotel in Israel will officially open its doors in late 2013. The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya is located in the exclusive residential seafront town north of Tel Aviv, and will be the first global luxury branded hotel in the country.” [Marriott News]

TechCrunch provides an update on Unroll.Me: “We’ve written about Unroll.me, a service that helps users manage their junk email and subscriptions, before — most recently when it was redesigned in April. Now the company is sharing some stats about its growth.

For one thing, it says it has more than 100,000 subscribers. It also says that more than 106 million emails have been diverted from inboxes thanks to Unroll.me’s “unsubscribe” feature, and that more than 225 million emails have been summarized in Unroll.me’s digest emails. CEO and co-founder Josh Rosenwald said the company hasn’t paid for any marketing, so all that growth has been word-of-mouth. In fact, he said the Unroll.me team has focused almost entirely on the technology, rather than growth, until now — though that will start changing “now that we’re kind of hitting a groove.” [TechCrunch]

DESSERT: Paragraph to note from Mark Leibovich’s recent book This Town, a chronicle of contemporary Washington society. Describing a party at the home of former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn, Leibovich writes “In general, the party was conspicuously devoid of “earpieces,” denoting the presence of sufficiently high-value targets. One of the few guests meriting a security detail was Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador, who hovered dangerously over the buffet table, eyeing a massive Christmas ham (his detail was trained to protect him only from terrorists, not treif).”

Thats all folks, have a great Tuesday! 

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