Daily Kickoff: What Klarman and Sternlicht think about Trump | Iran says it declined Trump’s meeting request | Falafel wars in Paris’ Jewish quarter
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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: “Billionaire Republicans Privately Diss Trump” by Michelle Celarier: “The new dark mood was on display at the Robin Hood Investment Conference last week at 50 Varick Street, an event space in downtown Manhattan. The Robin Hood conference is an annual event where about 1,000 investors pay as much as $7,500 each for two days of talks by a dozen of the best brains in finance… Barry Sternlicht, a billionaire real-estate investor, hotel mogul, and self-described Trump friend and golf partner, seemed to have soured on the president. “I expected him to go to the middle, because I thought he wanted to be great,” he said of Trump, according to an audio of his off-the-record talk obtained by New York. “I played [golf] with Donald Trump and his golf game is like his presidency,” he said…”
“Frequent GOP donor Seth Klarman… offered a much harsher assessment of Trump to his peers. “The president is a threat to democracy. He has attacked journalists and he’s threatening to take away NBC’s license,” Klarman said, according to an audio recording of his remarks. “He’s attacking judges. He’s violating all sorts of democratic norms, from the emoluments clause to questioning the election and threatening to lock up his opponent. People don’t focus on this but Nazi Germany had a constitution before Hitler came to power and at the end of the war they had the exact same constitution. It lasted all the way through, but democracy didn’t.”” [NYMag]
“Moishe Mana, unplugged: Investor dishes on his plans for Wynwood, unloads on POTUS” by Francisco Alvarado: “Mana related the discrimination his family faced as Jews in Iraq before emmigrating to Israel to the current climate in the Trump era toward minorities and immigrants. “When he was chosen to be the Republican nominee, I declared it the moral bankruptcy of America,” Mana said. “We have to endure his craziness and all his crazy ideas. He is doing destructive things on all kinds of issues.” [TheRealDeal]
TOP TALKER: “Bannon declares war on Singer in call with Trump” by Jonathan Swan: “In a Friday night phone call, President Trump’s former chief strategist and enforcer Steve Bannon told Trump he was going “off the chain” to destroy Paul Singer… Trump agreed with Bannon that it needed to be done… (Though I’m also told that Trump has since told at least one other person that Singer is “on the team” — suggesting that maybe he’s telling everyone what they want to hear.)… A source familiar with the arrangements told me that Singer has already made a “major commitment” and cut substantial checks to outside groups to support the president’s tax reform push.” [Axios]
BACKSTORY: “Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier” by Ken Vogel and Maggie Haberman: “The Free Beacon, funded in large part by the New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, hired the firm, Fusion GPS, in 2015 to unearth damaging information about several Republican presidential candidates, including Mr. Trump. But The Free Beacon told the firm to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016… The revelation of The Free Beacon’s involvement with Fusion GPS threatens a rapprochement between Mr. Trump and Mr. Singer, who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural fund and has visited the White House on multiple occasions… On Friday, an associate said Mr. Singer had not been aware of the dossier or Mr. Steele’s involvement in Fusion GPS’s research until January, when BuzzFeed published the dossier.” [NYTimes]
MEDIA WATCH: “Inside CNN and Time Warner, Fear Simmers as the AT&T Merger Looms” by Joe Pompeo: “The question has been hanging in the air for the better part of a year inside the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle: will AT&T leave CNN President Jeff Zucker in his job when—if—it completes its acquisition of Time Warner? For months, AT&T, a Dallas-based telecom giant with no news or entertainment experience to speak of, has been evasive about this question. “Can’t they say anything nice about the guy?” one Time Warner executive remarked to me recently.”
“Some at Time Warner have been charitable about his reticence. “If you’re [AT&T CEO] Randall Stephenson,” said one executive, “here’s what you don’t want to do, and everyone’s telling you this: don’t say something that can become a quote that [Trump] can take and create a problem for you with.” With the union edging ever closer to consummation, AT&T has finally decided to give Zucker a public thumbs-up. A company spokesman provided the following statement from John Stankey after I reached out to discuss this story: “We don’t comment upon anyone’s employment at a company we don’t yet own. But, as it relates to CNN, it’s clearly a great organization, they are having a great year, and Jeff Zucker is doing a terrific job.” [VanityFair]
SPOTTED on Saturday in NYC: Josh Kushner and Karlie Kloss listening to a Shabbat lecture by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks near Washington Square Park.
“Ivanka Trump, Amid West Wing Crisis, Celebrates Her Birthday” by Emily Jane Fox: “If the mood in Trumpworld was gloomy, there was no sign of discontent Saturday night, as the president and first lady strode into the gilded lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C… Ivanka Trump, the First Daughter and assistant to the president, was celebrating her 36th birthday two days early. It was a surprise dinner, and Ivanka… was joined by several friends from Manhattan, including her brother-in-law Josh Kushner. Her husband, Jared Kushner, joined after just returning from an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia.” [VanityFair]
DRIVING THE CONVO: The Israeli government’s plan to move ahead with a bill that would annex West Bank settlements to Jerusalem seems to have been stalled due to objections from the Trump administration. “The Americans turned to us and inquired what the bill was about. As we have been coordinating with them until now, it is worth (to continue) talking and coordinating with them. We are working to promote and develop the settlement enterprise,” Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers yesterday, according to Haaretz. The bill’s sponsor, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, toldNRG that he would continue to push the bill despite misgivings by the White House. Katz also said that he was somewhat surprised by the pressure from the US to shelve the plan, noting that top US officials Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman had been notified of the proposal months ago.
Greenblatt and Friedman met with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. A senior US official told The Times of Israel the meeting was “a general check-in on peace conversations.” The meeting took place after Greenblatt returned from an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia accompanying Jared Kushner and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell last week.
KAFE KNESSET — Trump administration’s diplomatic “blitz” — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The diplomatic scene appears to be heating up, and a flurry of meetings and travels inside and out of the region is building an impression that something could be going on. Yesterday, the White House confirmed Jared Kushner’s secret visit to Saudi Arabia, and Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman visited Bibi. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon discreetly made his way to Ramallah, to meet with Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah and other high-level Palestinian officials. This is the second time Kahlon met Hamdallah this year, constituting the highest-level open channel between Jerusalem and Ramallah, and the first time since Palestinian reconciliation was announced.
“We talked about things that were stuck, after the security cabinet authorized us to move forward with some things,” Kahlon said, keeping things vague, but emphasizing that the meeting was about economic and not diplomatic issues… The meeting had been postponed for months, due to recurring terror attacks. Kafe Knesset has learned that the godfather of the get-together was Jason Greenblatt, who met Kahlon last week and urged him to meet Hamdallah and move forward with several economic initiatives and make progress. As a proud father, after the meeting Greenblatt tweeted: “Meaningful steps forward on key economic issues – revenues, customs, and investment – that help support the search for peace.”
Jerusalem is buzzing with rumors, speculation, and headlines about an upcoming breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and according to one well-informed source — the Palestinian issue was also big during Steve Mnuchin’s visit last week. “Trump’s envoys are determined to present him with an achievement by the end of the year, and are now on a ‘blitz’ pushing to move forward, either politically or economically,” the source said. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
Ambassador Nikki Haley reverses Congressional testimony on U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority — by Aaron Magid: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley backtracked on remarks she made to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) this summer regarding Washington’s economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Answering a June 28 query from Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Haley testified, “We give quite a bit of money to the Palestinian Authority: directly, bilaterally.” However, in response to a written follow-up question from a member of Congress — first obtained by Jewish Insider — Haley corrected herself this month. “Since 2014, the U.S. has not provided direct budget assistance to the Palestinian Authority,” she said.
Haley’s reversal on US assistance to the PA were not the only comments the former South Carolina Governor appeared to retract from the June 28Congressional hearing. While testifying, Haley declared that Qatar “funds Hamas.” Yet, Buzzfeed’s John Hudson reported on Friday that Haley corrected these comments and later wrote to members of Congress that Doha “does not fund” Hamas. [JewishInsider]
IRAN DEAL: “Iran Says Its President Turned Down a Meeting With Trump” by Zaid Sabah: “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rebuffed a request from U.S. President Donald Trump to meet at the United Nations in New York in September… “A request indeed was made by the U.S. side but it wasn’t accepted by President Rouhani,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said at a press conference on Sunday.” [Bloomberg] • Nuclear deal won’t stop Iran from producing missiles, Rouhani says [LATimes]
STATE-SIDE — Wisconsin becomes 24th US state to bar or condemn anti-Israel BDS movement: “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued an executive order last Friday to ban state agencies from engaging in businesses with ties to the anti-Israel BDS movement…. With the passing of the order, Wisconsin became the 24th U.S. state to enact official measures condemning BDS… The initiative came just before Walker departed on a trip to Israel at the head of a 15-member business delegation. The delegation will be in Israel until Nov. 2.” [JNS]
2018 WATCH: “Two Aides With California Democratic Connections Leave Feinstein Challenger’s Team” by Ruby Cramer: “Kevin de León, the Democratic leader of the California State Senate, lost two key consultants after launching his bid to challenge a sitting five-term senator… The two former de León officials, his longtime election lawyer Stephen Kaufman and his fundraiser Stephanie Daily Smith, do not work for the incumbent candidate, Dianne Feinstein. But both work for leading California Democrats who support the 84-year-old senator, including California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, US Sen. Kamala Harris, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.” [BuzzFeed]
SCENE LAST NIGHT in Detroit — by JI reader Adam Finkel: Nearly 2,500 attendees came to the sold-out Yeshiva Beth Yehudah Annual Event. Held in Detroit, the event honored Lear CEO Matt Simoncini and featured Senator Cory Booker as the evening’s guest speaker. Ford CEO Jim Hackett was general chairman of the event. Booker offered a rousing speech about the need for civility in American politics and how Jewish individuals impacted several pivotal moments during his life. The event was held at Detroit’s Renaissance Center.
Spotted: Nancy and Jim Grosfeld, Matt Lester, Larry Wolfe, Scott Kaufman, Miryam Rosenzweig, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Congressman Sander Levin, Dr. Conad Giles, Mickey Shapiro, Sen. Booker’s Chief of Staff Matt Klapper, Gary Shiffman, Reverend Wendell Anthony, and legendary Yeshiva leader Gary Torgow. [Instagram]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Maryland investigating Kushner Companies over apartments [CNNMoney] • A founder who sold his last startup for ~$50 million wants to make iconic TV for teens in the YouTube era [BI] • Lord & Taylor, WeWork and the Death of Leisure [NYTimes] • Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich buys 4th townhouse on street as slap in face to de Blasio[NYPost; Curbed]
STARTUP NATION: “Armies Race to Deploy Drone, Self-Driving Tech on the Battlefield” by Robert Wall: “As with drones in the air, Israel has been an early adopter of land-based systems. The Israel Defense Forces deployed an unmanned ground vehicle along some of its borders to look for signs of possible incursions and keep troops away from cross-border sniper fire… Erez Peled, marketing vice president for Israel’s Elbit Systems Inc., ran the joint venture that developed the original Israeli border patrol car. He says that “technology wise, we clearly we can be there.” “The problem is conceptual,” Mr. Peled said. “Armies need to decide what they want.”” [WSJ]
HOLLYWOOD: “Gal Gadot Backs Out of Awards Dinner Honoring Brett Ratner” by Gene Maddaus: “Gadot was set to present the Tree of Life Award to Ratner at a dinner for the Jewish National Fund on Sunday at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. However, the actress recently backed out of the event… Nina Gordon, a spokeswoman working on Sunday’s event, said the organization was told that Gadot had a scheduling conflict. “Apparently she is stuck on promo stuff for ‘Justice League’ for China, and she’s not going to be back in time,” Gordon said… In an Instagram post on Friday, Gadot said: “That’s it for now, China. Thank you for having us.”” [Variety]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “How a WWII-era forger saved lives, one fake document at a time” by Anderson Cooper: “Adolfo Kaminsky took us to the street where he ran his secret lab, right under the nose of the Nazis. It was located in a narrow attic room in the center of Paris, just blocks from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. There, Kaminsky and three others used chemicals and other tools of the forging trade to create and alter documents, all the while avoiding detection by pretending they were artists… Using everyday items, like this sewing machine he still has, he created perforations in stamps. He salvaged metal from junk shops, and used wood blocks and inks to create rubber stamps. He also manufactured paper and reproduced watermarks, letterheads and official signatures.” [CBSNews]
“Why Israel Is Giving Syrians Free Spaghetti (And Health Care)” by Neri Zilber: “Though its future is as uncertain as the Syrian civil war, the Good Neighbor administration seems to be making more permanent plans. At a makeshift crossing on the border, the IDF recently erected a small white brick hut – with blast walls and metal detectors – to better vet the incoming Syrians (suicide bombings are a concern). There’s also the new medical clinic. Built on the site of an abandoned IDF post, the clinic sits on the other side of the heavily fortified border fence: still technically Israeli territory since the fence was built at a relative remove from the official ceasefire line, yet inside Syria for all practical military purposes.” [PoliticoMag]
ACROSS THE POND: Jeremy Corbyn turns down dinner with Israeli PM — by Kate Ferguson: “The Labour leader was invited to attend the event which is being thrown to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which helped pave the way for a Jewish state. But he has reportedly snubbed the invite and is sending his shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry instead.”[DailyMail] • 100 Years After the Balfour Declaration, a Commemoration Rekindles Mideast Quarrels [WSJ]
“Jewish Philanthropists Create a Prize for Christian Missionaries” by Donald McNeil: “Christian missionary hospitals in Africa… are now competing for a major award: a $500,000 prize created specifically for them by a Jewish businessman-philanthropist and his wife, a rabbi. The L’Chaim Prize for Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service was founded last year by Mark and Erica Gerson. L’chaim is typically translated as “to life.” But it “really means ‘to lives’ — it’s plural,” argued Mr. Gerson. “There’s no such thing as a Jewish life lived alone.”” [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Burglars use pol’s office to break into kosher deli” by Max Jaeger: “Burglars broke into the office of Brooklyn state Sen. Simcha Felder over the weekend — but that was just the appetizer, police said. The thief used Felder’s second-floor office and adjacent stairwell to gain access to the popular Mechy’s deli in the same building on the first floor, where they stole $5,000 but no food or merchandise. “They certainly weren’t desperate for pastrami,” Felder deadpanned about the 1412 Ave. J break-in in Midwood.” [NYPost]
“In Paris falafel war, it’s neighbor vs. neighbor in the city’s changing Jewish quarter” by Shashank Bengali: “They line up like pilgrims at a sacred site and cradle the famous offering in their hands, swaddled in paper and napkins that soon prove hopelessly insufficient. The crowd that jams Paris’ old Jewish quarter at midday is drawn by what some describe as one of the world’s best falafel sandwiches. Five shops selling falafel and shawarma sandwiches line the narrow, cobbled Rue des Rosiers. But unknown to most visitors, the neighbors have engaged in a quiet, bitter war for years.”
“When Mi-Va-Mi opened in 1999, L’As had already been in business for two decades, founded by Isaac Peretz, a Russian Jew from Tel Aviv, and his Tunisian-born wife, Daisy, whom he met in Israel. He followed her to the Marais, where she grew up. They opened a small grocery that sold falafel on the side, slowly adding tables and chairs before converting it to a full-time restaurant in 1997… Other falafel shops have sprung up too, but Peretz dismissed them as imitators. “They have just Xeroxed our business,” he said. “They haven’t invented anything.” While he is cordial with the others, Peretz can barely hide his contempt for Mi-Va-Mi, which was started by a Russian from the same section of Tel Aviv as his father.” [LATimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Ivanka ‘Yael’ Trump turns 36… Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Caro turns 82… Law professor, formerly: president of the University of Minnesota (1997-2002), chancellor of the University of Texas System (2002-2008), president of the University of California (2008-2013), Mark Yudof turns 73… Actor, best known for his portrayal of “The Fonz” in the “Happy Days” sitcom, Henry Winkler turns 72… NBC’s anchor, reporter and commentator, married to former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchellturns 71… Israeli, violinist, violist and conductor who appears in concerts around the world, Shlomo Mintz turns 60… Wireless communications pioneer with over 80 patents, he served as CEO of Qualcomm (2005-2014) and is now executive chairman, a co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Paul E. Jacobs, Ph.D. turns 55… Partner in the DC office of Buckley Sandler, he served as the Attorney General of Maryland (2007-2015), Douglas F. “Doug” Gansler turns 55…
Former Chief of Staff to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, David Kroneturns 51… Political correspondent for The New York Times and a political analyst for CNN, Maggie Haberman turns 44… Partner in the LA office of Crowell & Moring, he is a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia and was most recently the chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, Paul M. Rosen turns 39… AARP’s director of media relations as to Social Security and Medicare, Joshua Eric Rosenblum turns 39… National Journal and National Journal Hotline reporter covering political races in the US House of Representatives, Ally Mutnick turns 25… Consultant for grassroots and advocacy at DC-based Locust Street Group, Rebecca Schieber turns 25 (h/ts Playbook)… Founding Director at Tech Tribe and Director of Social Media for Chabad, Mordechai Lightstone…
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