Daily Kickoff: How Israel is prepping for Trump’s ‘ultimate deal’ | Jake Tapper on his start in journalism at Akiba Hebrew Academy | Google, Shmoogle
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KAFE KNESSET — Israeli View of Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The top-secret White House Middle East peace effort to design the “ultimate deal” and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major discussion topic in the Knesset’s corridors. The deadline for the grand plan’s announcement continues to be extended. What used to be the end of the year has now turned into early next year, with some reports listed March 2018. Netanyahu himself has said on several occasions in recent weeks that he is preparing for an American document or plan, but he told Likud ministers and MKs that he knows nothing about the details. Likud MKs assume that “it will be the friendliest plan Israel has ever had” as a senior Likud minister told Kafe Knesset this week, predicting that the US administration “will accept some of our positions and red lines” on issues such as security, the Jordan Valley and settlements.
Even if this is the friendliest deal ever, another source added, Netanyahu understands that he will have to concede on some “deal breakers” of his own, and make concessions which will not necessarily be accepted by his coalition partners, most notably Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett. Some in the Likud, like Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, are more worried about American pressure. Akunis, who attended the JFNA’s General Assembly in Los Angeles this week, said in an interview with JPost that he will vote against any plan demanding a two-state solution, and that he is confident that others in the cabinet will vote against, as well.
A senior Israeli official said: “The American proposal will shake things up, and many people, including the Prime Minister and his partners, will have to make a decision. To say “no” is also a decision, and a decision not to respond as well. But decisions will have to be made.” A senior member of the coalition told Kafe Knesset: “The Americans are spoiling us now, but there are no free gifts, they will submit the bill, and Netanyahu will have to decide whether to lose Bennett or lose Trump, and to avoid that choice – he could call for new elections.”
The flexible deadline of Trump’s peace efforts coincides with another clock ticking these days, in the Israeli police interrogation rooms. There is growing talk of a peace plan that is set to accompany the upcoming publication of Police recommendations in Netanyahu’s criminal affairs. In any case, from Bibi’s point of view, talk about peace is a welcome break from cigar and champagne scandals. If the PM needs a plan to dodge both the criminal investigations and the Trump peace plan, new Knesset elections could turn out to be the perfect solution. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER: “Israeli Military Chief Gives Unprecedented Interview to Saudi Media: ‘Ready to Share Intel on Iran'” by Amos Harel: “A Saudi newspaper published an unprecedented interview on Thursday with the Israeli military chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. It marks the first time any senior Israel Defense Forces officer, let alone the chief of staff, has been interviewed by a media organization in Saudi Arabia, which does not have diplomatic ties with Israel. In the interview to the Saudi online newspaper Elaph, Eisenkot called Iran the “real and largest threat to the region.” He said Israel and Saudi Arabia are in complete agreement about Iran’s intentions.” [Haaretz]
TODAY AT TURTLE BAY: “US opposes Nazi speech, but will vote no at UN to banning it” by Josh Lederman: “Introduced by Russia, the resolution calls on all U.N. nations to ban pro-Nazi speech and organizations… The United States votes against the resolution every year, along with just a handful of others… But this year, the “no” vote from the U.S. is likely to create more of a stir, given it’s the first rendition of the vote since President Donald Trump entered office. [Trump’s] blame-on-both-sides response to violence in August at a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, gave fodder to Trump critics who say he’s insufficiently critical of neo-Nazis. So U.S. officials are working overtime this year to try to explain that no, America doesn’t support pro-Nazi speech — but can’t vote for a resolution that calls for outlawing it, either. The vote is scheduled for Thursday in the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee…”
“Will Israel, the close U.S. ally whose history is intertwined with the Holocaust, vote with the U.S.? In the past, Israel has voted for the resolution. But Washington has been pushing the Jewish state to vote “no” this year, or at a minimum to abstain. It’s unclear how Israel will vote.” [AP]
ON THE HILL — Democratic Congressman co-chairs caucus to defeat Palestinian ‘enemy’ — by Aaron Magid: The Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVS) convened yesterday to sign a joint declaration of support and cooperation towards an Israeli victory with members of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus (KIVC), MKs Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) and Avraham Neguise (Likud). Explaining the caucus’ ideology, Daniel Pipes, who initiated the group noted, “Victory means imposing your will on your enemy and the Palestinians give up.” Dmitry Shiglik, president of the American Forum for Russian-Speaking Jewry, emphasized, “Historically — always — (the) winner dictates what to do to (the) loser.” Representative Juan Vargas (D-CA), one of only six House Democrats who declined to sign a letter in March endorsing the two-state solution, joined as a co-chair of the organization. The California lawmaker also introduced the anti-Israel Boycott Act along with Rep. Peter Roskam (D-IL). [JewishInsider]
“Steve Bannon Is Bad for the Jews” by Bret Stephens: “If Israel is going to retain mainstream political support, it cannot allow itself to become the pet cause of right-wing bigots and conspiracy theorists. That requires putting serious distance between Bannon and every pro-Israel organization, to say nothing of the Israeli government itself, by refusing to provide a platform for him and his ilk… That thought may have dawned on Sheldon Adelson, who skipped Sunday’s [ZOA] dinner.” [NYTimes]
CAMPUS BEAT: “University of Maryland SGA bill supporting BDS dies before reaching the floor for legislative debate” by Carly Taylor: “After about two hours of student debate, the SGA Student Affairs Committee presented an unfavorable report of the bill in a 1-21 vote with three abstentions… Groups outside of this university weighed in on the debate before it took place Wednesday night. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and six of Maryland’s Democratic U.S. Congressmen signed a letter to SGA President A.J. Pruitt in opposition to the BDS movement “that would only undermine efforts to achieving Middle East peace through a two-state solution.”” [DBKNews]
“University of Michigan unlikely to divest from companies tied to Israel” by Martin Slagter: “After eight hours of intense debate, the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government voted in favor of calling on university leaders to investigate divestment from companies that do business with Israel. The university, however, isn’t likely to take up the matter. UM Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the university appreciates hearing from its students. However, the primary purpose of investments through its endowment – which is approaching $11 billion – is to generate the greatest possible income, subject to the appropriate amount of risk, in support of the university’s mission of teaching, research, patient care and service.” [MLive]
HAPPENING TODAY: “Washington’s huge new Bible museum says it wants to stay out of politics. But its opening gala is at the Trump Hotel” by Michelle Boorstein: “Officials at the non-profit museum say the decision was for pragmatic, scheduling reasons but some museum employees and academic consultants refused to enter the hotel affiliated with the controversial president. Museum officials said by the time they started looking for space, about a year ago, the Trump hotel was the only ballroom available in Washington that could accommodate such a big group. The Thursday dinner gala will have about 750 people in attendance… [Vice President Mike] Pence had been invited to do the official ribbon-cutting “because he is a personal friend of a number of board members,” but wasn’t able, said Susan Davis, head of the communications firm handling the opening.” [WashPost]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — CNN anchor Jake Tapper talks to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg about his start in journalism: “I was a high-school journalist.. Jews for Jesus were really big in the ‘80s, and an alumnus started a thing called the Anti-Missionary Coalition. He was protesting Jews for Jesus, and there was a whole dispute how much Akiba [Hebrew Academy] should be associated with that, and I wrote a story about that…”
Goldberg: It got some attention? Tapper: “It was a school with 300 people… I mean, yes, a lot of 9th graders read it. It was very exciting (chuckle)… Then I went to Dartmouth, and I wanted to be a cartoonist and then I wanted to go into film, not as an actor but as a writer director, and then I found myself during film school at USC listening to the Clarence Thomas hearings in class on my walkman and I realized LA was not really for me. But one time I was on a ski trip and there was a guy there who has just written a freelance article with his brother for the New Republic. I read the New Republic religiously during that time and I said, ‘Oh, like real people could just right freelance stories.’ And then I just started submitting any freelance story anywhere I could and building up clips.” [TheAtlantic]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer poised to buy 15 per cent Atletico Madrid stake [DailyMail] • David Rubenstein: Private equity model ‘starting to look like spent force’ [FinancialTimes] • Avenue’s Marc Lasry raising $1 billion for distressed power bets [Reuters] • Nelson Peltz Declares Victory in Procter & Gamble Proxy Fight [NYTimes; WSJ] • Greenlight’s Einhorn Says Issues That Caused the Crisis Are Not Solved [Bloomberg]
SPOTLIGHT: “WeWork Takes a Dip in the Wave-Pool Business” by Eliot Brown: “WeWork Cos. has attained a $20 billion valuation as an office-leasing company. But its ambitions are extending well beyond the workplace—and into the water. The seven-year-old New York company has purchased a large stake in Wavegarden, a maker of wave pools, according to people informed by WeWork Chief Executive Adam Neumann in recent months. A WeWork spokeswoman said the investment occurred in mid-2016. It isn’t clear how Wavegarden—whose technology creates artificial waves up to 8 feet high for surfing at giant water facilities—would fit with WeWork.” [VanityFair; WSJ]
“Ashton Kutcher-Backed Medical Startup Brings A.I.-Assisted Body Scans to L.A. Mall” by Kathryn Romeyn: “[Guy] Oseary says he and Kutcher “were swept up in excitement from the second we walked into Forward — when has that ever happened at a doctor’s office?” [THR]
MEDIA WATCH: “Jon Lovett on Bringing Late-Night Flavor to Political Podcasts” by Matt Wilstein: “It’s been about 10 months since Lovett, along with former Obama administration colleagues Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor, decided to end their Keepin’ It 1600 podcast and start Crooked Media, home to Pod Save America and a slew of other political offerings including Lovett’s comedy-driven show. “When we decided to do this, we didn’t have a plan. We just had this feeling like we wanted to launch a company that answered some of our frustrations and spoke to why we were worried, why we were angry, like a lot of other people,” Lovett says.” [DailyBeast]
“Steven Mnuchin Gets His Name on the Dollar” by Saleha Mohsin: “In just a few years, Steven Mnuchin has gone from Hollywood movie financier and regional banker to the signatory of the almighty buck. The U.S. Treasury secretary on Wednesday took a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to see production of the new $1 bills with his signature. His wife, Louise Linton, joined the visit, along with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and several Treasury officials. The new bills are scheduled to go into circulation next month.” [Bloomberg]
“Ivanka Trump says child tax credit ‘not a pet project’” by Catherine Lucy: “I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt since I’ve been here,” Trump said this week, as she hit the road to promote the tax overhaul effort that has drawn Democratic criticism and spurred internal GOP conflict…Trump says she and husband Jared Kushner, a fellow White House adviser, have no plans to return to their old New York City life any time soon. “It’s definitely not short-term,” Trump said.” [AP]
HEADLINE DEPT: “Google, Shmoogle. Reference Librarians Are Busier Than Ever” [WSJ]
“University of Texas President Shares Harrowing Story of His Father’s Holocaust Escape” by Shelby Hodge: “Tears fell across the ballroom as Gregory Fenves told of his father’s imprisonment at age 13 at Auschwitz, resulting in the loss of the young teen’s mother and grandmother, and how his trilingual skills as an interpreter enabled him to stay alive and to assist his sister who was kept in a neighboring compound. He was liberated by the Americans and in 1950 immigrated to the United States where he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War.” [PaperCIty]
“How a Shirt Covered in Swastikas Ends Up in a Department Store” by Kim Bhasin and Polly Mosendz: “How exactly a shirt covered in swastikas made it through the design process, much less crammed into a rack in a Ross Dress for Less store in Florida where Bloomberg found it this week, can probably be chalked up to retailers’ vast and complex retail supply chains, where errors can often go overlooked. Michael Haddad said the end product looked different from the design his company had sent to the factory in India. “It was [the factory owner’s] mistake, and it became confusingly similar to a swastika,” he said. “There was nothing malicious intended here,” said Haddad. “I’m an Orthodox Jew. The problem was contained. It was remedied.” [Bloomberg]
HOLLYWOOD: Gal Gadot confirms Brett Ratner off Wonder Woman 2: “Gal Gadot said in an interview on Wednesday’s episode of NBC’s TODAY show that Wonder Woman producer Brett Ratner is off the sequel in the wake of several sexual misconduct allegations against the mogul. Gadot was asked about a report that claimed she refused to return for the highly anticipated 2019 sequel if Ratner was still on the project. Gadot replied, “The truth is, there’s so many people involved in making this movie, it’s not just me, and they all echoed the same sentiments.”” [EW]
“Former Israeli Actress Alleged to Be Operative for Corporate-Investigation Firm” by Mark Maremont, Jacquie McNish and Rob Copeland: “[Stella Penn] Pechanac has been named in a court filing by Canadian financial firm West Face Capital Inc. alleging she is one of several Black Cube operatives who used false names, businesses and websites in recent months to obtain sensitive information from its current and former employees… Several West Face employees immediately recognized photos of the woman as “Maja Lazarov,” who claimed to be a London-based recruiter who had contacted the employees with potentially lucrative job offers.” [WSJ]
“Did Harvey Weinstein’s Israeli Spies Break the Law?” by Ashley Cullins: “The private investigators are accused of recording conversations without permission. Whether this is illegal depends on the physical location of the speakers. California is a two-party consent state, meaning if either of the parties is physically in the state during the conversation, both would have to agree to the recording. But New York is a one-party consent state… [Rose] McGowan is regularly spotted in both New York and California, and [Ben] Wallace is based in New York, meaning their surreptitious recording might have been legal… The scandal has moved Israeli parliamentarian Tamar Zandberg to call for an examination of Black Cube’s practices. “Instead of being used for Israel’s security … this knowledge is being used for harassing and lying and spying on women who are victims,” Zandberg tells THR.” [THR] • Deception and Ruses Fill the Toolkit of Investigators Used by Weinstein [NYTimes]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — in DC: The American Zionist movement (AZM) held an event at the Israeli Embassy, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration. With family of Abera Mengiustu in attendance, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer called for international action to free the captive Israeli who is currently being detained in Gaza.
SPOTTED: Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Baroness Ruth Deech, Col. Richard Kemp, Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), Israeli cabinet ministers Yariv Levin and Eli Cohen, MKs Oded Feurer and Abraham Neguise, AZM President Richard Heideman, Herbert Block, Rabbi Josh Weinberg, Ann Lewis, Ezra Friedlander, Aaron Weinberg, Fred Lawrence, Ellen Hershkin, Shai Franklin, Gusti Yehoshua Braverman, Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, and Daniel Flesch.
DESSERT: “A Deli Where Rye Comes in Slices and in a Glass” by Robert Simonson: “At the Upper East Side branch of the Second Avenue Deli, they have matzo ball soup for what ails you… On Nov. 27, the brothers Jeremy and Josh Lebewohl, who own the storied Jewish deli on First Avenue, plan to open 2nd Floor, a cocktail lounge just above the restaurant, with a separate entrance on East 75th Street… Some ingredients are not ones you’re likely to find at any other cocktail bar in town. Man-O-Manischewitz, a riff on the gin cocktail called the Bramble, uses a syrup made from Manischewitz wine rather than the traditional crème de mûre. The Upper Eastsider, a long drink that can be made with gin or vodka, has Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda as a component. A drink called the Shofar, similar to a Jack Rose, is made up of ingredients whose flavors are associated with Rosh Hashana, including apple brandy, pomegranate… and honey.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Retired Justice on the Supreme Court of Canada (2003-2013), Morris Fish turns 79… Roxanne White turns 69… Milwaukee-based founder and CEO of direct marketer, A.B. Data, Ltd., he is chair of the Pincus Fund for Jewish Education, Bruce A. Arbit turns 63… Professional golfer who has played on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour starting in 1982, he won two gold medals at the 1981 Maccabiah Games, Corey Pavin turns 58… Susan Brooks turns 54… Television and film writer and producer, he was an executive producer of Fox’s “Fringe” (100 episodes 2008-2013) and co-writer of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014), Jeff Pinkner turns 53… Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition since 1990, Matt Brooks turns 52. Read his Playbook Q&A here… Ordained at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, now Dean of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, Rabbi Justus Baird turns 45… Stage, film and television actress, she is the older sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal, Margalit Ruth “Maggie” Gyllenhaalturns 40… After 15 seasons in the NBA, he became an owner and player for Hapoel Jerusalem and led the team to the Israeli League championship in 2017, Amar’e Stoudemire turns 35… Senior Fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, Michael A. Levi…
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