Daily Kickoff: Sen. Corker tells us no timetable on new Iran sanctions | Pickles and Israeli politics | Israel bans binary options | Scene at FIDF
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DRIVING THE CONVO — Corker says there’s no timetable on new Iran sanctions bill despite Trump’s threat — by JI’s Aaron Magid: “I don’t have any timetable,” Corker told Jewish Insider yesterday regarding tougher sanctions legislation on Iran. “We’ll get it passed when it’s ready.” Corker put much of the responsibility for passing the bill back on the President’s shoulders. “The White House and the State Department have a lot of work to do to bring our European allies along. There is going to be a period of venting, which they are going through right now. Democrats aren’t going to be really interested in coming on if our European allies are in a different place,” he explained.
The effort from Corker and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-TN), co-sponsor of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), will likely require the backing of 60 Senators to overcome a Democratic filibuster. However, Corker clarified that they are interested in being “flexible” with Democrats to attract greater support. “Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) knows we aren’t trying to stuff him. This isn’t where we are trying to find 60 people. This is something we hope to pass with 80-85 votes, so this is something that we want to ease along with and be an overwhelming vote,” Corker noted. [JewishInsider]
HOT THIS AM: President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Bob Corker went to war on Tuesday, trading personal insults and name-calling on a number of topics. “When you send out tweets into the region to raise tensions, when you kneecap, which is what he’s done publicly, when you kneecap your secretary of state, whose diplomacy you have to depend upon…you really move our country into a binary choice which could lead to a world war,” Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told NBC’s “TODAY.” [NBC]
–Trump tweets: “Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts….” [Twitter]
–Corker fires back at Trump: ‘Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president’ [TheHill]
Richard Haass: “Potus tirade vs. Sen Corker not just undignified but bad for US nat’l security as works against US speaking/acting consistently in the world”[Twitter]
Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) in an interview with Haaretz re Iran sanctions: “I met Republicans who told me: ‘The president might try and put this between us and his base and I am not going to let him do that and I will vote to re-impose sanctions.’ I think with the politics of this and the midterm elections Republicans in Congress might think, ‘Am I better off sticking with Trump never mind what the worldwide dangers might be?’ We will try and change that calculation the same way we tried to do it on the Iran deal.” said.” [Haaretz]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Hudson Institute forum in DC re Iran deal: “Congress is having a hard time sometimes finding its way to the bathroom… I think it is far better for the administration, for the president to deal with these issues. I think now Congress should hopefully a develop a way to increase the enforcement of that agreement and tie sanctions to the enforcement of it.”
Panetta likened Trump’s move on the Iran deal with Obama’s Syria red line: “When those chemical attacks did take place… the failure to actually take action at that point sent a message that we would not stand by our word on the red line. I think that had an impact in terms of credibility of the United States and the world. I think the same thing’s happening now with the failure to abide by our word on the nuclear agreement.” [Video]
“Bannon Backs Isolation of Qatar, Comparing Threat to North Korea” by Jennifer Jacobs: “I think the single most important thing that’s happening in the world is the situation in Qatar,” Bannon said (at the Hudson Institute conference). “What’s happening in Qatar is every bit as important as what’s happening in North Korea.” .. Bannon called Trump’s speech (in Saudi Arabia) a milestone in U.S. policy toward the Mideast. “I don’t think it was just by happenstance that two weeks after the summit that we saw the blockade by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Egypt and the king of Saudi Arabia on Qatar.” [Bloomberg]
“Stephen Bannon Haunts Tillerson From Beyond The White House” by John Hudson: “The Saudis and their allies believe that they have the inside track to the White House through Kushner and Bannon and they can ignore the State Department on issues like Qatar and Yemen,” said Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution scholar and former CIA officer. “So far they are right.” [BuzzFeed; McClatchy]
ON THE HILL — Rep. Royce: Taylor Force Act to advance House committee in “few weeks” — by Aaron Magid: Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) announced yesterday at the Hudson Institute conference that legislation to cut off U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) will advance through the committee in the upcoming weeks. Royce stressed the rationale for his support of the Taylor Force Act. Palestinians “are being lured there by the concept of pay to slay, by this inducement, by this financial reward that says the longer the sentence, the more people that are murdered, the greater the stipend.” [JewishInsider]
“Can Netanyahu say ‘no’ to Trump?” by Ben Caspit: “All indications are that the United States has no intention of giving up. There are an increasing number of leaks from Washington about the upcoming peace initiative. They seem to be saying that they will not force anything on either party, but at the same time, they certainly intend to present the parties with the “ultimate deal.” Will this be the first time that President Donald Trump forces Netanyahu’s hand and drags him to the negotiating table?” [Al-Monitor]
KAFE KNESSET — Pickles & Politics — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Both PM Netanyahu’s speech and President Rivlin’s speech at the Knesset winter session’s opening meeting yesterday made big waves. Netanyahu’s speech was based around a Hebrew pun on the word for “pickles,” which could also mean “sour.” Throughout his speech, he called his opponents in the Knesset and the media, sour pickles and sourpusses. What can we do, the pun only works in Hebrew! “Who won’t admit that Israel is flourishing economically, technologically and diplomatically, and that Israel ranks high on international happiness rankings. It is hard for you sour ones to accept it,” he said. “When sour ones talk, you hear conversations like, ‘Isn’t the situation here horrible and terrible? Isn’t everything falling apart? By the way, did you order tickets to London or Berlin?’ They are sour, and they fly away,” Netanyahu quipped. Of course, he thanked Trump in his speech, as well.
Then, playing on the whole sour pickles theme, Netanyahu tweeted a photo of himself with an enormous can of pickles (in brine, the superior choice, not vinegar) and a huge grin, with the caption “We have a wonderful nation that loves pickles, but is not sour,” and a cucumber emoji. Likud MKs tweeted pictures of themselves enjoying pickles with the Prime Minister.
President Rivlin took the opportunity to address what he said was the politicization of everything: “A reality is growing in which everything is political. The media is political, democratic institutions are political – all of them, from the civil service to the state comptroller – the Supreme Court is political, security forces are political, even our IDF is political.” Rivlin warned that this attitude towards democratic institutions is weakening them. The opposition cheered for Rivlin, while the coalition was stony-faced. After the speeches ended, Likud MKs put out statements slamming Rivlin. This morning, Culture Minister Miri Regev said on Army Radio that Rivlin is the least statesmanlike president in Israel’s history. Asked about former president Moshe Katsav, who was convicted of rape, Regev said the question was unfair and that Katsav paid his debt to society. It appears that in Regev’s estimation, criticizing the Likud is worse than rape. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]
Despite all the talk about defunding the United Nations, Trump proclaims October 24 as United Nations Day: “We remain hopeful that the United Nations can achieve its goals of maintaining international peace and security and developing friendly relations among nations,” Trump’s statement reads. “Although a great deal of work remains to be done for the United Nations to realize its full potential, we reaffirm our commitment to its goals in order to build a better tomorrow for future generations.”
AT 12PM TODAY: Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, NJ will deliver the opening prayer at the start of the House of Representatives’ legislative business. [CSPAN]
–Fun fact courtesy of Howard Mortman: This will the 9th time in 2017 that a rabbi has opened Congress in prayer (will be eight times in House, once in Senate). It’s the highest number of guest chaplain rabbis in one calendar year so far since 2003, when there were 14 in Congress (10 in Senate, 4 in House).
JARED INSIDER: “’It’s our secret talent’: Giggling Ivanka Trump reveals she and Jared love playing matchmaker for friends” by Emily Crane: “During an interview with Sean Hannity on Monday night, the First Daughter opened up about their hidden skill, saying the couple had successfully set up seven marriages. ‘This is Jared and my secret talent – people don’t realize it’s our hidden skill, we’re matchmakers,’ Ivanka said. ‘Seven marriages, zero divorces. Hopefully, God-willing that continues.’” [DailyMail]
STATE-SIDE: Maryland governor signs anti-BDs Executive Order — by Erin Cox: “[Gov. Larry] Hogan, surrounded by local and national Jewish leaders, said… all future state contracts would require companies to certify they will not economically discriminate against Israel, and that if any current state contractors refuse to agree, “they would be terminated. There is no place in our state for boycotts and threats,” Hogan said.” [BaltimoreSun; NBC]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel bans binary options industry, finally closing vast, 10-year fraud [ToI] • Mike Bloomberg to open £1bn City of London headquarters [FT] • Lord & Taylor Building, Icon of New York Retail, to Become WeWork Headquarters [NYTimes] • Hedge fund Baupost snaps up claims against Toshiba [Reuters] • Berkeley DeepDrive Releases 36,000 Nexar Videos to Research Community [NewsWire]
STARTUP NATION: “Automated video creation startup Wibbitz raises $20M” by Anthony Ha: “Wibbitz, which uses artificial intelligence to create short videos based on text news stories, has raised $20 million in Series C funding. The money comes from some of big names in the media world, with Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (a subsidiary of German media conglomerate Bertelsmann) leading the round and participation from The Weather Channel, The Associated Press and TF1. Co-founder and CEO Zohar Dayan described the round as “a huge testament to what we’re doing and the value our technology brings to these companies.” [TechCrunch]
MEDIA WATCH: “Journalism’s Broken Business Model Won’t Be Solved by Billionaires” by William D. Cohan: “The story of Alice Rogoff and the Alaska Dispatch News is a cautionary tale that shows the limits of what a wealthy owner is willing, or able, to do for a struggling newspaper in the digital era… According to the bankruptcy filing, the paper was losing an average of a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars per week and owed its venders some $2.5 million. She still owes Northrim Bank around $10.2 million, the security for which is the regular payments that she receives as part of a “marital settlement agreement” with her husband (David Rubenstein), as well as her Wells Fargo investment accounts and the remaining assets of the paper.”[NewYorker]
“The Jared bubble: What my 18 months as Jared Kushner’s first editor taught me about the Trump family and the press” by Kyle Pope: ““You can’t say ‘hit job’ in here.” I was six months into my tenure as the editor of the New York Observer, and I was schooling my publisher, Jared Kushner, on why ordering up a slam of someone who had crossed his family in business didn’t pass the journalistic smell test. Kushner, in an earlier meeting, had asked for a hit piece on an official at Bank of America, and was now in my office to check on how the story was coming together. I had spent the previous weeks trying to avoid the subject with him, knowing full well that the Observer was never going to pursue a story about an anonymous banker whose only sin was running afoul of the Kushner family.” [CJR]
“Turning Tables in Magnitsky Case, Russia Accuses a Nemesis of Murder” by Andrew Kramer: “The prosecutors say that [WIlliam] Browder was assigned the code name Agent Solomon by Western intelligence, while Mr. Navalny was called Agent Freedom. Referring to Agent Solomon, one filing recounts how he “was offered by proxies in the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service to arrange the termination of any medical services for [Sergei] Magnitsky.”” [NYTimes]
–Browder tweets: “GREAT NEWS! My ESTA (US visa waiver) was restored. I successfully checked into a US flight. Now we need to fix bogus Interpol arrest warrant” [Twitter]
“A Trump administration official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss an individual visa case, said it appeared that the initial action blocking Mr. Browder had been taken automatically in response to an Interpol notice filed against him by Russia and was not an affirmative action by the American government.” [NYT]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — by Jacob Kornbluh: The Friends of IDF (FIDF) annual gala, at the Hilton Midtown, highlighted a special “Night of Heroes” saluting the brave soldiers and veterans from Israel’s military operations and historic wars. The gala raised at least $35 million, which included a $7 million pledge from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. Speakers included outgoing Israeli Air Force (IAF) chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, legendary IAF test pilot Danny Shapira, and Amir Ofer. from Operation Entebbe.
SPOTTED: Amb. Danny Danon, Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson [Pic], FIDF’s Arthur Stark, Rabbi Peter Weintraub, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, and Galit Brichta; Marc Perlman, Or Lachayal, Malcolm Hoenlein, Ken Abramowitz, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Thane Rosenbaum, Oren Alexander, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor Bronia Brandman, and PuderPR’s Joe Berkofsky.
HAPPENING TONIGHT IN SF: At 7PM, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco welcomes back Walter Isaacson for a fresh look at Leonardo da Vinci. Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his unconventional life, Isaacson tells the story of how Leonardo’s wide-ranging passions – from anatomy and birds to flying machines and weaponry – combined with his ability to stand at the crossroads of art and science, makes him history’s most creative genius. [JCCSF]
BIRTHDAYS: Russian-born businessman and owner of the Premier League’s Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich turns 51… Writer and adjunct instructor at Queensborough Community College, Ira Greenfest turns 74… Stock market analyst who has published books and appears regularly on CNBC and Bloomberg TV, Charles Biderman turns 71… Retired Department of Defense chief of staff, Judy Kopff turns 71 (h/t Playbook)… Financial planner and president of Laredo, Texas-based International Asset Management, Inc., Joseph Rothstein turns 65… Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Southern California since 1997, Brad Sherman turns 63… Executive editor of The Washington Post since 2013, he was previously the executive editor of The Boston Globe (2001-2012), Martin “Marty” Baron turns 63… Chattanooga-based billionaire and CEO of Mohawk Industries, the world’s largest flooring company, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum turns 63… Program director at the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Alan Divack turns 61… Co-founder and CEO (1990-2001) of Sirius Satellite Radio (now Sirius XM Radio), he made aliyah in 2002, David Margolese turns 60… Producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes since 2007 after 25 years at CNN, Henry Schuster turns 60…
Born in Kiev, he is a supporter of Jewish initiatives in Russia and elsewhere in Europe, an active member of the Russian Jewish Congress and a co-founder of the Genesis Prize, German Khan turns 56… Political communications consultant, she was formerly communications director and deputy chief of staff for Senator Patty Murray, Tovah Ravitz Meehan turns 48 (h/t Playbook)… Rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor, born to a Jewish mother in Toronto, Aubrey Drake Graham now known as Drake turns 31… Assistant executive director at the Jewish Community Council of Marine Park, Yitzy Weinberg turns 31… The Orthodox Union’s associate director of synagogue services and regional director for synagogues (Long Island and Queens), Yehuda Friedman… Former White House spokesman and communications director at the US Department of Education, Matt Lehrich (h/t Playbook)..
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