Daily Kickoff: NYC terror attack kills 8, including Jewish man from Argentina | Debating Israeli Democracy | Jay Leno’s on his New Rochelle roots

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TERROR IN NYC — Manhattan Terror Attack Kills 8 and Injures 11 — by Benjamin Mueller, William Rashbaum: “A driver plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot by a police officer in what officials are calling the deadliest terrorist attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001. The rampage ended when the motorist — whom the police identified as Sayfullo Saipov, 29 — smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and ran up and down the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before he was shot in the abdomen by the officer. He remained in critical condition on Tuesday evening.” [NYTimesAP

“An Inept Terror Attack in New York” by Graeme Wood: “As we mourn the dead, we should keep in mind that this attack could have been much worse. It partly resembles Nice, or the Berlin Christmas market attack. But it also resembles something more pathetic—a suicide by cop. As long as the Islamic State’s attackers are idiots like Saipov, our societies can probably handle them.” [TheAtlantic]

Jewish man among 5 Argentinians killed in New York attack: “Among the victims of Tuesday’s terror attack on a bike path near the World Trade Center in New York were five Argentinian men, one of whom was a Jewish businessman, Ariel Erlij. They were part of a group of eight friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation with a trip to New York City…” [ToIYWN]

Israeli PM Netanyahu tweets this morning: “To @POTUS, @NYGovCuomo & @NYCMayor: We stand with our friends in NY & all Americans following yet another horrible Islamist terror attack.” [Twitter] • Netanyahu called Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning to convey Israel’s solidarity with the people of NY [Pic]

NOTEWORTHY — Michael Wilner: “CNN airs graphic of vehicular terrorist attacks worldwide since 2016. Does not list any in Israel, where several have occurred.” [Twitter]

— CNN Host Jake Tapper did reference Israel and Pakistan when talking about law enforcement’s concern that terrorists sometimes stage additional attacks while first responders rush to the scene.

“Trump and allies gin up a new culprit for New York terrorist attack: Chuck Schumer” by Derek Hawkins and Samantha Schmidt: “Prominent right-wing commentators and news outlets seized on an ABC7 story reporting that alleged attacker Sayfullo Saipov had come to the United States from Uzbekistan under a State Department program known as the Diversity Visa Lottery… Schumer, they claimed, was the brains behind the program and therefore, of course, bears responsibility for the attack… Trump joined the criticism with a series of tweets early Wednesday morning.” [WashPost]

Schumer responds: “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

KAFE KNESSET — Fighting over unity — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Today is former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s 22nd Yartzheit, and the day the Knesset remembers him and his assassination. There’s always heightened political tension ahead of the Rabin memorial, and this year is no exception. Politicians are heated up about Saturday night, when the annual public event in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the site of his assassination, will take place. This year, the rally is organized by Commanders for Israel’s Security and Darkenu, formerly known as V15, and they’ve titled it “We Remember: We are one people.” Many on the Left are angry that the word “murder” or “assassination” is not mentioned on the promotional materials, and that settlers will be speaking. One of the planned speakers, Esther Brot, who was evacuated from her home in the Ofra settlement earlier this year, said in a radio interview this morning that there was “incitement on both sides,” and mentioned that Rabin had called settlers “a cancer in the body of the nation.”

Meretz responded by calling on the organizers to disinvite Brot.Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz said it is important “not to let anyone blur the meaning of political murder… I have no intention to forget or forgive.” In the same party, MK Eitan Broshi, who had been an aide to Rabin when he was defense minister, called out his fellow left-wing politicians, saying: “Whoever wants to talk about changes in Judea and Samaria for a [peace] agreement, but isn’t able to hear people from there speak in the center of Tel Aviv should think again.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Is the End of Israeli Democracy Nigh? Israelis Debate Its Future” by Isabel Kershner: “Analysts say that the country is locked in a fundamental clash not between left and right but between the values of the founding generation of leaders who put the common good and the interests of the state first and a newer, more populist and partisan politics epitomized by Mr. Netanyahu’s government… Daniel Gordis, an author and senior vice president of Jerusalem’s Shalem College for the liberal arts, says he views much of what is happening in Israel “in the shadow of the Trump administration.” With all the differences in personality, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump have resorted to similar tactics, such as decrying the mainstream news media as purveyors of “fake news.”” [NYTimes

REPORT — Netanyahu asked Trump to let Jonathan Pollard immigrate to Israel — by Peter Jacobs: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked President Donald Trump to allow Jonathan Pollard — a convicted spy — to immigrate to Israel, according to Channel 2 news… Netanyahu reportedly told the Trump administration that Pollard would continue to be subject to the same restrictions if he was allowed to immigrate to Israel.” [BusinessInsiderMAKO]

SCENE IN DC: “President Trump’s senior advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt visited yesterday Saeb Erekat who is recovering from surgery in Washington.” h/t Barak David [Pic]

“Hamas cedes Gaza border crossings to Palestinian Authority control” by Nidal al-Mughrabi: “We have handed over the crossings with honesty and responsibility, without bargaining and unconditionally,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a video address… COGAT, the Israeli military-run authority that supervises Erez and Kerem Shalom, said a meeting would be held with a PA representative to define joint working protocols and Israeli security conditions, including “the complete absence of any Hamas member or representative” at or near the crossings.” [Reuters]

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Century-old Letter Stirs Palestinian Anger Over U.K. Commemoration of Balfour” by Jonathan Ferziger and Michael Arnold: “The Israeli prime minister will depart Wednesday for events in the U.K. marking the Balfour Declaration… Joining Netanyahu at Thursday night’s commemoration will be U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who said she would mark the occasion “with pride.” Her comments touched off a storm among Palestinians, who demand an official U.K. apology for Balfour. That the issue stirs such passions a century after Balfour put pen to paper reflects the difficulty of bridging competing claims to the Holy Land. U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing to present a peace plan for the region… It might seem esoteric to protest a 100-year-old document, but the Balfour Declaration remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, said Michael Oren, an Israeli deputy cabinet minister… The letter’s fundamental point is that the Jews are a nation with a right to self-determination, something the Palestinians still don’t accept, he said.” [Bloomberg

ON THE HILL — “U.N. Support for Palestinian Lawfare Against Israel Sparks Anger on Capitol Hill” by Jenna Lifhits: “According to the U.N. Developmental Assistance Framework (UNDAF), the support will include training and technical advice so that Palestinians can “effectively access international accountability mechanisms” and “hold Israel accountable for its violations under international law.” Texas senator Ted Cruz sharply condemned the move… “This is yet another example of the U.N.’s shameful hostility towards Israel, which encourages more false attacks, accusations, and criticism of our close ally,” he told TWS. “I will continue to press all legislative options to ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars are not used to implement, facilitate, or carry out this discriminatory plan undermining Israel.”” [TWS

“Iraq bans Israeli flags after Kurds wave them at independence rallies: “The Iraqi parliament voted on Tuesday to criminalize the flying of Israeli flags after the banners were held aloft at a number of Kurdish independence rallies… Israel has been among the only countries to openly support an independent Kurdish state, and many Kurds have welcomed the support, drawing accusations from Arab leaders that the referendum was a Zionist plot.” [ToI]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert answering a question about the flags: “If [the Iraqis] choose to do that, that is certainly their place to do that. That would be an internal Iraqi matter. But I think the Israelis very well know how much we support them and what a strong relationship we have with the Government of Israel.”

“The Kurds Are Right Back Where They Started” by Joost Hiltermann: “Perhaps most shocking to the Kurds was Washington’s opposition to the referendum and response to the Kirkuk takeover. The KRG has received massive military support from Western nations in the fight against ISIS, raising its expectations that they would support the bid for independence. Yet the Trump administration stood by as Iraqi forces and Iran-backed militias advanced. Why, the Kurds asked, would Washington oppose their inalienable right to self-determination, one that Americans themselves once exercised, after they proved themselves to be Washington’s steadfast allies in Iraq after 2003, especially in the fight against ISIS? And why had America led them to believe they were on the path to independence, only to chastise them when they expressed this deepest aspiration?” [TheAtlantic]

COMING THIS WEEKEND: “This Powerful Adelson-funded Israel Lobby Could Soon Rival AIPAC’s Influence in Washington” by Amir Tibon: “An AIPAC official told Haaretz that AIPAC views the IAC as a “partner organization” that supports a common goal – strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. According to the IAC, it “has a great relationship with AIPAC. Our delegation to the Policy Conference has grown every year. Some of our board members, including the chairman of our board, are AIPAC donors.” … At this week’s IAC conference, besides the three right-wing Israeli politicians and one senior official from the Trump administration, there will be at least nine other speakers who are strongly affiliated with the right in the two countries. There will be only one left-wing Israeli politician (Merav Michaeli), one U.S. expert who is considered a centrist, pro-Israel Democrat (Dennis Ross, the former adviser to Clinton and Obama), and one former lawmaker from the centrist Yesh Atid party (Ruth Calderon).” [Haaretz]

PROFILE: “Andrew Weissmann, Mueller’s Legal Pit Bull” by Matt Flegenheimer: “It is not clear if President Trump and his charges fear Mr. Weissmann… It is quite clear, former colleagues and opponents say, that they should.” [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “Top Mnuchin aide’s private jet flight to Palm Beach was legal, but legal ‘does not always equate to wise,’ watchdog finds” by Lisa Rein: “[Eli] Miller mentioned to [Nelson] Peltz that he was flying to Palm Beach, Fla., that night to visit his in-laws. Peltz said he was traveling there, too, and offered him a ride in his private jet. After getting a green light from Treasury’s ethics official, Miller accepted the ride, working and emailing on the flight while Peltz slept… The propriety of this trip came under investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general. His conclusion: The flight to Florida was a perfectly legal “gift,” since the chief of staff and the hedge fund billionaire have been friends since they met on the Trump campaign and no Treasury business was discussed.” [WashPost

** 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: Israeli VC firm Carmel Ventures rebrands as Viola Ventures and launches new $200 million fund [VentureBeat] • Kåre Schultz to Start as Teva CEO Today [Calcalist] • Israel-founded Kaltura said to be eyeing Nasdaq IPO in 2018 [ToI] • Wahed raises $7 million for Halal-based investment platform [VentureBeat] • David Schottenstein’s celeb-favorite eye-wear shop to open in Midtown [NYPost• Kushner partner all but kills plan for Fifth Ave skyscraper [AP]

“Clark Valberg’s InVision picks up $100 million Series E” by Jordan Crook: “InVision, the design collaboration tool based out of New York, has today announced the close of a $100 million Series E funding round. The financing was led by Battery Ventures, with participation from existing investors Accel, Tiger Global Management, Firstmark and ICONIQ Capital, along with new investors Spark Capital and Geodesic. InVision launched back in 2011 as a tool that would simply let designers build out prototypes of websites or applications without having engineers write out all the code each time a small change is made… And with 80% of the Fortune 100 as customers — including companies like IBM, Disney, Nike, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter and Capital One — the growing staff will have their work cut out for them.”[TechCrunchBusinessInsider]

“Jay Leno talks about being a ‘Shabbos goy’ and his New Rochelle roots” by Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy: “My grandparents spoke only Italian, my friend’s grandparents only spoke Polish and other people’s grandparents only spoke Yiddish,” he said…. Growing up in New Rochelle, Leno… claims to have even served as a “shabbos goy,” a non-Jew who performs certain tasks which a Jewish person is prohibited from doing on the Sabbath. “I was a shabbos goy. I’d help the neighbors shut things on and off,” Leno said. “On Christmas, they’d run errands and do things for us… It didn’t seem different to me because it was normal for me. It was a fun place.  It was a nice community.” [Lohud]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Police seek 2 suspects after U of Illinois menorah damaged: “The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that the weekend incident is the fourth time the menorah has been damaged since 2015. Surveillance video shows two people walking by the menorah about 10:50 p.m.Friday. Both men try to shake and move the menorah before one of them removes a branch and walks away with it.” [AP]

“A Train Called Anne Frank? German Railway Plan Prompts Outcry” by Dan Bilefsky: “73 years after she boarded that wagon, leaving behind a diary that would one day be read around the world, Deutsche Bahn has announced that it plans to name a new high-speed train after her. The idea of Germany’s state rail operator claiming one of the most enduring symbols of the Holocaust has prompted an outcry… A statement from the Anne Frank House, the museum that preserves the family’s hiding place in Amsterdam, noted that the combination of a train and her name was “painful for people who experienced these deportations and causes fresh pain for those who still bear the consequences of those times within them.”” [NYTimes]

HOLLYWOOD: “Six women accuse filmmaker Brett Ratner of sexual harassment or misconduct” by Amy Kaufman and Daniel Miller: “In interviews with the Los Angeles Times, Henstridge and five other women accused Ratner of a range of sexual harassment and misconduct that allegedly took place in private homes, on movie sets or at industry events… Although some have questioned his conduct, Ratner has defenders in the industry including five former assistants who have worked closely with him throughout the years… Over the years, Ratner has received several honors for his philanthropic and humanitarian endeavors. On Sunday, the Jewish National Fund presented Ratner with its annual Tree of Life Award at a gala in Hollywood… Gal Gadot, the Israeli star of “Wonder Woman,” had been slated to give the award to Ratner, but as The Times was reporting on his alleged sexual misbehavior last week, the actress’ publicist announced she would not appear at the event because of a scheduling conflict.” [LATimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Rabbi of Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Congregation, Mitchell Wohlberg turns 73… Country singer, whose failed bid for Governor of Texas in 2006 won him 13% of the votes in a six-way race, Richard Samet “Kinky” Friedman turns 73… Pioneering investor in the personal computing industry, founder of Lotus and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mitch Kapor turns 67… Senior Rabbi at Beit T’Shuvah, a nonprofit Jewish addiction treatment center and synagogue community in Los Angeles, Mark Borovitzturns 66… Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Energy, formerly a staffer for VPOTUS Dan Quayle (1989-93), Les Novitsky turns 60… Principal at Calabasas, California-based CRC-Commercial Realty Consultants, he is a vice-chair of the real estate and construction division of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Brian Weisberg turns 45… Associate in the DC office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, she was a law clerk for USDC Judge Ellen Hollander in Baltimore, Clare F. Steinberg turns 29 (h/t Playbook)… Mitchell Caminerturns 24… Pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization with a 97 mph fastball, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Gabe Cramer turns 23… Researcher and producer for CNN’s political unit, Marshall Cohen… Grassroots engagement director since 2017 for Teach NYS at the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, she was previously AIPAC’s Director of South Shore Long Island, Annie Peck Watman

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