Daily Kickoff: Paradise Papers | Adelson wants IAC to be AIPAC alternative but do Israeli-Americans? | WeWork’s WeGrow school pilots at Chabad in NYC

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — PARADISE PAPERS: “The world’s biggest businesses, heads of state and global figures in politics, entertainment and sport who have sheltered their wealth in secretive tax havens are being revealed this week in a major new investigation into Britain’s offshore empires. The details come from a leak of 13.4m files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.” [TheGuardian]

“Paradise Papers: Leaks Show Wilbur Ross Hid Ties to Putin Cronies” by Richard Engel and Aggelos Petropoulos: “Ross — a billionaire industrialist — retains an interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, that was partially owned by his former investment company. One of Navigator’s most important business relationships is with a Russian energy firm controlled, in turn, by Putin’s son-in-law and other members of the Russian president’s inner circle… Ross, through a Commerce Department spokesperson, issued a statement saying that he recuses himself as secretary from any matters regarding transoceanic shipping.” [NBCNews]

“Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments” by Jesse Drucker: “Leaked files show that a state-controlled bank in Moscow helped to fuel Yuri Milner’s ascent in Silicon Valley, where the Russia investigation has put tech companies under scrutiny… Milner has also been active beyond Silicon Valley. He is a founder of the Breakthrough Prize, a series of lucrative scientific awards. And in July 2015, he was one of several high-profile investors in Cadre, a New York-based real estate technology company founded by Jared Kushner and his brother, Joshua. He said he was introduced to the company through an early investor whose name he did not remember. He said he met Jared Kushner only once, at a conference in Aspen, Colo.” [NYTimes] • Yuri Milner says he was not working for Russia to turn social media against U.S. democracy [Recode

— Flashback to 2011: How Russian Tycoon Yuri Milner Bought His Way Into Silicon Valley [Wired]

“Everything you need to know about Glencore, Dan Gertler and their interest in DRC” by Ben Doherty: “The world’s largest mining company, Glencore, secretly loaned tens of millions of dollars to an Israeli billionaire after it enlisted him to secure a controversial mining agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Paradise Papers reveal. The documents show in forensic detail how the mining magnate Dan Gertler held Glencore’s imprimatur as key negotiator with DRC authorities.” [TheGuardianTheTimes]

“Papadopoulos And Flynn Client Both Tied To Israeli Energy Consortium” by Borzou Daragahi: “Last year, while serving as a Trump foreign policy adviser, [George] Papadopoulos appeared on an Israeli energy conference panel that included Yigal Landau, CEO of Ratio Oil Exploration, one of several Israeli and US firms that are part of the consortium exploiting Leviathan…. Ratio had a business relationship with Kamil Ekim Alptekin. The Dutch-Turkish businessman has been subpoenaed by Mueller’s investigators in connection to his hiring of [Mike] Flynn’s consulting firm… While there is no evidence of a connection between the panel and the energy deal, Alptekin’s firm Inovo and Ratio signed a consulting deal on April 13 last year.” [BuzzFeed]

TOP TALKER: “The Saudi crown prince just made a very risky power play” by David Ignatius: “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says he’s cracking down on corruption. But the sweeping arrests of cabinet ministers and senior princes Saturday night looked to many astonished Arab observers like a bold but risky consolidation of power. MBS is emboldened by strong support from President Trump and his inner circle, who see him as a kindred disrupter of the status quo — at once a wealthy tycoon and a populist insurgent. It was probably no accident that last month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, made a personal visit to Riyadh. The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.” [WashPost]

“US optimistic about Mideast peace deal” by Uri Savir: “According to a senior US diplomat, the administration conveyed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that it will not intervene against the new Palestinian agreement and that it demands the disarming of Hamas, yet not overnight… According to the American source, the US administration goal is to keep on one side a very pro-Israel line, and on the other to advance rapprochement with Egypt (and Saudi Arabia) as a counterbalance to Iran. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is scheduled to visit Riyadh again in the coming days.” [Al-Monitor

“Netanyahu rejects one-state solution, says settlements are a ‘side issue’” by Raphael Ahren: “No, I don’t want a one-state solution, I’ll be clear about that. And I’m unabashed about saying that,” [Netanyahu replied to BBC] interviewer Andrew Marr’s question about the death of the two-state solution. “But I want to make sure that what we have next to us is something that will not threaten our lives… I think you have to be more specific and say no, what we want is the recognition, finally, after a hundred years, after the Balfour Declaration, finally recognize the Jewish state.”

“Asked for his opinion of Trump, Netanyahu focused on the president’s view on Iran. “I think he has leadership qualities and I think sees in the Middle East something different,” the prime minister said… [Trump] “sees Iran as the problem,” Netanyahu said.” [ToIBBC]

As US prepares to leave UNESCO, envoy urges deep reforms: “The chief U.S. envoy at UNESCO says anti-Israel bias and opaque bureaucracy are hobbling the U.N. cultural agency and is urging deep reforms. Chris Hegadorn made the appeal Saturday at the agency’s Paris headquarters… Hegadorn said the decision to leave “wasn’t taken lightly” but was necessary because of budget reasons, UNESCO’s inclusion of Palestine as a member and countries using the agency to advance their political agendas.” [AP]

HEARD THE OTHER NIGHT — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the Israeli-American Council’s (IAC) annual gathering in Washington, DC: “The same day we announced our withdrawal from UNESCO, Israel announced it would also withdraw. At first glance, it would seem like this should have been an even easier call for Israel than it was for America… The same reasoning that led Israel to withdraw from UNESCO could be applied to just about every UN organization, including the General Assembly. To its great credit, Israel has stayed committed to the United Nations. This small nation shows the collected nations of the world more deference and respect than they deserve. And the reason is because Israel knows it needs to stay and fight for its interests – and for its survival.”

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a discussion with Jewish Journal Editor-in-Chief David Suissa on the Israeli-Diaspora relationship last night: “One of the first weeks I was living in Manhattan with my wife, we came upon a sign saying ‘Come to the Beginner’s Minyan,” and it was a very different experience from Israel. No one looked at the color of my yarmulke or what my wife was wearing, it was just a feeling of – if you are Jewish, you are welcome. That’s something we need to bring to Israel.”

“Breaking With Script, Adelson Portrays IAC As A Hardline AIPAC Alternative” by Josh Nathan-Kazis: “In blunt remarks Sunday night, Sheldon Adelson erased any doubt about his intentions for the Israeli-American Council, the nationwide group into which he has pumped more than $10 million over the past three years: He’s building a harder-line alternative to AIPAC.” [Forward]

“Adelson Has Hijacked the Israeli-American Community for His Hard-right Agenda” by Chemi Shalev: “For cash-strapped groups such as the Israeli Scouts Movement in America, the possibility of surviving with the help of Adelson’s handouts was an offer they could not refuse. For homesick Israelis seeking a genuine taste of home, the IAC’s galas and activities were irresistible… The only remaining question is how the thousands of Israelis who naively joined IAC and its activities out of a mistaken belief that it is only a benevolent apolitical group will react, now that they have been apprised of their true purpose. Even though many hold views that are diametrically opposed to Adelson’s, they are now, as his wife Miriam said, “our soldiers.” [Haaretz]

TALK OF THE REGION: “Lebanon’s Prime Minister resigns, plunging nation into new political crisis” by Chandrika Narayan: “In a televised address from Riyadh, [Saad] Hariri said he feared an assassination plot and accused Iran of meddling in the region, causing “devastation and chaos.” “Iran controls the region and the decision-making in both Syria and Iraq,” he said… Iran dismissed the reports, accusing the United States and Saudi Arabia of orchestrating the resignation.” [CNN]

PROFILE: “Is Tom Cotton the Future of Trumpism?” by Jeffrey Toobin: ““I told the President in July that he shouldn’t certify that Iran was complying with the agreement,” Cotton told me. “Putting aside the issue of technical compliance or noncompliance, it’s clear that the agreement is not in our national interest.” Following Trump’s action, Cotton joined forces with Senator Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on a proposal that, if passed, would likely lead to the termination of the Iran nuclear deal and the reimposition of American sanctions…”

“Cotton appears to be a hybrid of insurgent and oldguard, who can play successfully to the warring constituencies of the Republican Party. As Bannon put it, “How many guys in town can give a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations and also get kudos in the pages of Breitbart? The answer is, one guy.”” [NewYorker]

“Bannon Protégée Gets a New Job in the White House—and It’s Not Going Well” by Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng: “In the months since (Bannon’s ouster), [Julia] Hahn has managed to hold on. But her position in the Trump administration has changed. Previously, she had worked as an aide to Bannon, advising on immigration policy… But her boss’s departure killed the specific office she worked for, and she quickly started expressing her wish to be transitioned into a communications role… It appears she got her wish. According to a source familiar with her situation, the former Breitbart rabble-rouser has, for the past few weeks, been working with the White House comms team, with a focus on outreach to conservative media outlets… Hahn also still works closely with Miller, particularly when pitching outlets on immigration-related stories.” [DailyBeast]

DRIVING THE WEEK: A Bob Menendez-shaped cloud” by Jonathan Swan: “The jury could reach a decision any day now, and the case looms large over the Senate… This is a huge deal for the Senate and there will be many open questions if Menendez is convicted. What happens if Menendez appeals it? What will Mitch McConnell, who will play a key role, do? How will Chuck Schumer and Menendez’s Democratic colleagues respond? Would they call for Menendez to step down?” [Axios

STATE VISIT: Missouri Gov. Greitens headed to Israel for trade mission: “Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens is going on a trade mission to Israel. Greitens [left] Sunday for the trip to meet with government officials and leaders in business and education… Greitens is Missouri’s first Jewish governor. The Hawthorn Foundation and Republican Jewish Coalition are paying for the trip.” [AP]

KAFE KNESSET — The noose tightens around Bibi — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu never really gets any quality time off. And, as has happened in the past, his historic visit to London was disrupted by some legal news from home that surely did not make him happy. Early yesterday morning, the police detained his lawyer, David Shimron, and another close associate whose name is still protected by a gag order, for a 15 hour interrogation about File 3000, a/k/a the Submarine Affair.

This morning, the Israel Securities Agency’s investigation team announced its recommendation to indict two Netanyahu allies for fraud, violation of conflicts of interest rules and insider information sharing: One of the two men indicted is Shlomo Filber, Netanyahu’s confidant and Communications Ministry Director-General. The other person indicted is telecommunications tycoon, Shaul Alovitch, the owner of Bezeq, the Israeli telephone monopoly, and its subsidiaries, satellite TV company YES and major news site and e-mail provider Walla. Neyanyahu himself is also set to be questioned again any day now, and his rivals are doing their best to make sure the public knows the noose around him is tightening. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** Good Monday 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: Toyota seeks more investments in Israeli auto tech, robotics [Reuters] • Chemi Peres: Israel’s Tech Ecosystem Has Matured[Calcalist] • Altice Jumps Into U.S. Wireless Business in Deal With Sprint[Bloomberg]

SPOTLIGHT: “WeWork Founder Hopes Her New School Will Help 5-Year-Olds Pursue Their Life’s Purpose” by David Lidsky: “When Rebekah Neumann and her husband Adam, WeWork’s founder and CEO, evaluated first-grade options for their daughter—”looking at schools both here [in New York City] and on the West Coast, by the way”—their dissatisfaction grew. In a matter of months, “we came up with this concept for the pilot class, gathered friends and families, and we launched,” she says of her new school for children in kindergarten through fifth grade… Seven children, ages 5, 6, and 8, are enrolled in WeGrow’s pilot class, which is currently running at a Chabad school in New York City. The program joins the growing ranks of “micro schools,” educational institutions that offer a modified Montessori-style program for students of different ages in a shared, multi-purpose space.” [FastCompanyBloomberg]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Macklowe vs. Macklowe: Courtroom tales from real estate’s biggest divorce — and how it could disrupt an empire” by E.B. Solomont: “Justice Laura Drager, the judge handling the ongoing trial, has promised to split the Macklowes’ holdings 50-50. But what Harry is worth, and what Linda is owed, is a matter of fiery debate. It’s Solomon splitting the baby, real estate edition… Michael Stutman, a divorce attorney who’s not involved in the case, agreed. “The judge doesn’t have a scalpel,” he said. “She has a chainsaw.”” [TRD]

“Trump will arrive as charities flee Mar-a-Lago” by Terry Spencer: “The organizer of a gala supporting the group The Truth About Israel relocated his event to Mar-a-Lago from a nearby resort, grabbing the Feb. 25 slot vacated by supporters of an Israeli medical charity. Steven M. Alembik said he moved his benefit specifically because the other charities bolted. “This is ridiculous,” Alembik said of the cancellations. “The president has Israel’s back like no other president since the days of Ronald Reagan. He supports Israel, we support him. It’s that simple.” He said he has sold all 700 tickets, which cost $750 each.” [AP]

TALK OF THE NATION: “EPA Director Scott Pruitt Cites Bible for Industry-Led Science Boards and Gets the Bible Exactly Wrong” by Jay Michaelson: “Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt… made an unexpected biblical reference at a recent event regarding the agency’s science advisory boards…. “In the Book of Joshua there is a story about Joshua leading the people of Israel into the promised land after Moses passed away. And Joshua says to the people of Israel choose this day whom you’re going to serve… This is sort of like the ‘Joshua Principle’ that as it relates to grants to this agency, you are going to have to choose either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or you can choose grants, but you cannot do both. That’s the fair and great thing to do.” Pruitt’s account of Scripture is correct. His interpretation of it, however, is 180 degrees backward… The passage Pruitt is citing is Joshua 24:15, which comes at the very end of the book… after the conquest of the land of Israel, which had been home to the Amorites, Perrizites, Canaanites, Hittites, and others, before Joshua’s armies annihilated them.” [DailyBeast

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Want to Help? Do Your Research Before You Donate” by John Hanc: “A supporter of Jewish causes, Dr. [Craig] Granowitz said that he had not normally given to disaster relief efforts. But this time he was moved to action. He contacted a rabbi he knew in New York and was referred to Rabbi Mendel Zarchi at Chabad of Puerto Rico… Dr. Granowitz managed to phone Rabbi Zarchi, who at the moment he got the call was helping to distribute portable generators to residents. Rabbi Zarchi described to Dr. Granowitz the desperate conditions on the island and how he had not been home in weeks as he worked to coordinate relief efforts.” [NYTimes]

“Traditional meets modern in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox art” by Mordechai Goldman: “A new ultra-Orthodox art gallery will shortly open in the Geula neighborhood, the heart of ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem, demonstrating the change in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector’s outlook on art. Until a few decades ago, there was hardly any connection between art and the ultra-Orthodox. While there was ultra-Orthodox art, it was not a means to express a personal perspective or tell a story and certainly not a medium for protest and criticism.” [AlMonitor]

LOCAL ELECTIONS: “Underground Yiddish War Rocks Orthodox Brooklyn City Council Race” by Josh Nathan-Kazis: “This is possibly one of the most nasty and personal campaigns I’ve seen,” said Michael Fragin, an Orthodox political analyst… “WhatsApp has taken over the political discourse,” said Jacob Kornbluh, a political correspondent for the news website Jewish Insider. “The campaigns feel that in order to drive the message, they have to invest in this… You can never trace to where it came from.”[Forward] • The fight for Borough Park is among this election year’s nastiest[Politico]

SNL DEBATE: “Larry David’s Holocaust joke on SNL: Bad taste, or just bad comedy?” by Avi Selk: “Nearly through with his routine, David clasped his hands together on the stage and segued from the topic of sexual assaulters to Holocaust victims. “I’ve always, always, been obsessed with women, and I’ve often wondered — if I’d grown up in Poland when Hitler came to power and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp?” said David, whose family is Jewish. “I think I would!” David said, and launched into an impression that the Times of Israel would later summarize as “picking up women in concentration camps during the Holocaust.” … “He managed to be offensive, insensitive and unfunny all at same time,” wrote the Anti-Defamation League’s chief executive, Jonathan Greenblatt. “Quite a feat.”” [WashPost]

“Larry David Goes One Cringe Too Far” by Thane Rosenbaum: “Larry David may have finally gone one cringe too far.  Surely, he didn’t violate any laws… But after all these years, shouldn’t the Holocaust be able to take a joke?  Actually, it can’t, and what’s more, it shouldn’t have to.” [JewishJournal]

Rabbi David Wolpe tweets: “Larry David joking about how a starved, shaved & beaten woman might still reject him. I’m helpless with laughter.” [Twitter]

ALSO SATURDAY NIGHT: Sen. Roy Blunt and his wife Abigail hosted a bar mitzvah for their son Charlie in DC. h/t Danny Ayalon [Pic]

SIGHTING — Conan O’Brien on Facebook: “Walking through Central Park and ran into kids from a Jewish school in Toronto. No cameras on the Sabbath, so I’m posting this.” [Pic]

DESSERT: “Will Trader Joe’s Get Americans Hooked on Bamba?” by Karen Chernick: ““We were aware of the popularity of the product and the fact that it was difficult to find in the U.S.,” says Kenya Friend-Daniel, the public relations director of Trader Joe’s. “We wanted to make this popular snack available to our customers and give them the chance to enjoy it. Part of that is making it recognizable to them.” The familiar name easily identifies Trader Joe’s Bamba as the crunchy snack produced by Osem, but the package design is a Middle East-meets-West amalgamation.” [Eater]

“This fall, Israeli chef Eyal Shani brings his renowned restaurant chain, Miznon, to New York’s Chelsea Market” by Anatoly Michaello:“Eyal Shani, one of Israel’s most acclaimed and eccentric chefs, has built an empire on humble ingredients—tomatoes sliced like sashimi, bespoke pita sandwiches, oven-baked heads of cauliflower blistered and wrapped in paper—at his raucous restaurants in Tel Aviv, Paris, Vienna and Melbourne. This month he makes his New York debut, launching a 180-seat outpost of Miznon, his everything-in-a-pita chain, inside Chelsea Market. The chef, who taught himself to cook in the galley of an Israeli missile ship sailing in the Indian Ocean, nearly moved to New York years ago—but he blew his tryout for Tribeca’s Layla by insisting on making pigeon stock with Evian (“water that came from God,” he says).” [WSJMag]

BIRTHDAYS: Investor, commentator, political adviser and author of Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor turns 46… Belgian theoretical physicist, a Holocaust survivor and 2013 Nobel prize laureate, François Englert turns 85… President and CEO of American Jewish World Service (1998-2016), formerly Manhattan borough president, Ruth Messinger turns 77… Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (2002-2011) and Vice Chair of NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (2006-2012), Andrew Saulturns 71… Former aide to President Bill Clinton and a long-time advisor to Hillary Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal turns 69… Research scientist at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, Barbara Volsky turns 67… Actress best known for her lead role in the 1984 film “Footloose” and the television series “Fame,” Lori Singer turns 60… COO/Managing Director of the NFL Players Association, Ira Fishman turns 60… Founder of Nourish Snack, she is the health and nutrition expert on The Today Show and author of 12 New York Times best sellers, Joy Bauer turns 54… Vice Chairman and CEO of Genie Oil E&P and CEO of Genie Israel Holdings Ltd., he was previously Chairman and CEO of IDT Energy, Geoffrey Rochwarger turns 47… South Florida entrepreneur, Earl J. Campos-Devine

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