Daily Kickoff: American Jews on Israel’s Nation-State Law | Randi Zuckerberg on brother’s stance re Holocaust deniers | The next Israeli NBA prospect


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thought from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks: “This Sunday, Jews will spend the day fasting to mark the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, the Ninth of Av. On this day we remember the destruction of the two Temples, the first by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon in 586BC; the second by Titus in AD70. We also remember some of the other tragic events to have befallen our people through the ages.”

“In today’s fast-moving culture, we undervalue acts of remembering. Computer memories have grown, while ours have become foreshortened. Our children no longer memorise chunks of poetry. Their knowledge of history is often all too vague… Our sense of space has expanded. Our sense of time has shrunk. That cannot be right. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is the knowledge of where we have come from, the things for which we fought, and why… Life has meaning when it is part of a story, and the larger the story, the more our imaginative horizons grow. Besides, things remembered do not die. That’s as close as we get to immortality on earth.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined a growing number of Jewish American organizations yesterday in expressing their disapproval of the Jewish Nation-State Law passed by the Israeli Knesset in the early morning hours of Thursday. “While there are provisions that we agree with — notably with regard to state symbols like the anthem, flag and capital Jerusalem; as well as in reaffirming that the State of Israel is open to Jewish immigration — we are troubled by the fact that the law, which celebrates the fundamental Jewish nature of the state, raises significant questions about the government’s long-term commitment to its pluralistic identity and democratic nature,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and ADL Israel Director Carole Nuriel said in a joint statement.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, added in a statement“It is regrettable that the government of Israel has been unresponsive to the voices of protest from Israel and world Jewry that are rooted in love for Israel, Zionism and respect for the Jewish and democratic state envisioned by Israel’s founders.”

Elliott Abrams emails us… “I see that the ADL thinks this is a threat to democracy, but the ADL also thinks Brett Kavanaugh (Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court) is a threat to democracy. So their view is hard to take seriously. This is a complex bill with parts of it I like (the declaration that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people), and parts of it I don’t, for example, the change in the status of the Arabic language. It seems to me that some American Jews are overdramatizing the impact of legislation such as this in Israel.”

David Makovsky, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who appeared on PBS Newshour to discuss the politics behind this bill, tells us that he’s “saddened” by the passage of what Prime Minister Netanyahu hailed as a “defining moment” in the history of the State of Israel. “The success of Israel since its Declaration of Independence in 1948 is the balance of both wings of the proverbial Zionist airplane: equilibrium between a democratic focus on equality and Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people,” Makovsky explained. “So when the new law does not mention democracy/equality under the law, don’t be surprised of the most nefarious interpretation—even if discriminatory parts of the bill were omitted before its passage. The balance needs to be restored between these two historic wings of Zionism: democracy and Jewish. I hope this law is overturned.”

Eugene Kontorovich writes… “Get Over It—Israel Is the Jewish State: The nation-state law declares that Israel is a country established to instantiate the Jewish people’s “right to national self-determination.” It constitutionalizes symbols of that objective—the national anthem, holidays and so forth. There is nothing undemocratic or even unusual about this. Among European states, seven have similar “nationhood” constitutional provisions… Far from undermining democracy, the Basic Law puts Israel in line with other Western nations. Most multiethnic, multilingual European Union states give official status only to the majority language.” [WSJ]

INBOX — The American Federation of Teachers Condemns Anti-Democratic Events in Israel: “We condemn this despicable law, as well as the anti-gay surrogacy law the Knesset recently enacted, and the detainment of Rabbi Dov Haiyun for conducting a non-Orthodox marriage,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement. “These anti-democratic and nativist actions make it more imperative to support the progressive voices in Israel who are fighting to reclaim Israel’s place as a functional, thriving democracy in the Middle East.”

— Young Israel Hails Passage of Israel’s Jewish State Bill: “Israel is indeed the ‘national home of the Jewish people’ and anyone attempting to deny that basic premise is turning a blind eye to history and disregarding what is an elemental truth.”

Tech firms in Israel are giving workers a day off to protest the country’s anti-LGBT surrogacy law — by David Kaufman: “Major strikes are planned across Israel this Sunday (July 22) to protest a new law that essentially excludes LGBT couples from state-supported surrogate pregnancies… Helping to support this fight are dozens of major Israeli companies—along with large multinationals ranging from IBM and Microsoft to PayPal and Novartis—which will offer a paid day off to employees joining Sunday’s protests. Other firms, like airline Israir, will allow their employees to wear black instead of their usual uniforms on Sunday as a sign of protest. Microsoft, meanwhile, said that it will provide NIS 60,000 (about $16,500) to any Israeli employee seeking to start families via surrogacy—regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or marital status.” [QuartzReuters]

TOP TALKER — Trump to Invite Putin to Washington as Top Advisers Seek Details of Their Summit Talks — by Mark Landler: “President Trump plans to invite President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to visit Washington in the fall, the White House said Thursday… In a tweet Thursday morning, Mr. Trump said he looked forward to a second meeting with Mr. Putin “so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed.” He listed Ukraine, Israel’s security, nuclear proliferation, trade…” [NYTimes]

— Top US general: ‘No specific direction’ received after Trump-Putin summit — by Ryan Browne: “Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, said he was “not privy” to any talks between the US, Russia and Israel that would seek to draw down US forces in Syria in exchange for Russian guarantees to keep Iranian forces and Iranian backed-groups away from the Israel-Syria border region. “I’m not privy to any kind of grand bargain discussion or anything like that.” [CNN]

— “Gen. Votel said that any cooperation between Russia and the U.S. in Syria would require congressional action because the U.S. military isn’t legally allowed to work side-by-side with its Russian counterparts.” [WSJ]

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone today with Russian President Putin. Netanyahu said in a statement that he told Putin Israel will continue to act to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon talked about his contentious relationship with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in an interview with CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York City: “Remember, it’s not about personalities. On the campaign, we got along great. It’s just that Ivanka and Jared — look, I respect them for this. They are progressive Democrats and globalists. And Ivanka loves her father and tries to protect her father and does a great job in the way she does it. I was there for one reason. I’m a populist and I’m a nationalist. And if people are going to try to fight those policies internally, I don’t mind a knife fight. Right? I just don’t mind it. I’m there to win.” [Video]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman write… “Help is at hand for Palestinians. It’s all up to Hamas: “Seventy years after the founding of Israel, it would be wise for Hamas to acknowledge that the existence of Israel is a permanent reality. Almost all in the Middle East have come to accept this fact, and many even embrace it. At the expense of the Palestinian people, Hamas is fighting a morally bankrupt, decades-old war that has long been lost. Peace will provide opportunity to break this stalemate, and peace will be achieved only by embracing reality and dismissing a flawed ideology.” [WashPost]

Aaron David Miller emails…“Kushner all but accepts reality that Gaza first or last or anytime depends on Hamas. And this raises the other reality of the need for a long-term accord between Israel and Hamas. Forget the ultimate deal; it can’t work. Focus on economic piece in Gaza and West Bank; security and keep talking about 2 states and wait until you have leaders who are serious about doing a credible and durable deal. It ain’t pretty; but it’s reality.”

Reply — Hamas Blasts Kushner as ‘Spokesman for Israeli Occupation’ — by Jack Khoury: “[The op-ed] shows that American officials are “mere spokesmen for the Israeli occupation,” a Hamas spokesman said Friday.” [Haaretz

U.S. consulate cancels visit to Nablus following Palestinian protests — by Khaled Abu Toameh: “Palestinians boasted on Thursday that they had forced the US consulate-general in Jerusalem to cancel a visit by its officials to Nablus and the nearby town of Sebastiya. The Palestinians said the visit of the US delegation was canceled following protests by various Palestinian factions and figures.” [JPost]

TEHRAN WATCH — ‘Desperate to find a way out’: Iran edges towards precipice — bt Saeed Kamali Dehghan: “Weeks of sporadic protests across the country over water scarcity, unpaid salaries and currency depreciation, combined with mounting pressure from the Trump administration, which wants all countries to stop buying Iranian oil by 4 November, have piled pressure on Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani. He is increasingly being seen as a lame duck as he proves unable to fight off hardliners and pursue his agenda… [Sadegh] Zibakalam [says] that the Iranian society has turned its back against both conservatives and reformists, as people see no prospect of reconciliation with the US.” [TheGuardian]

Pride and Prejudice in Tehran: To understand Iran’s foreign policy, you need to learn a little Farsi — by Hooman Majd: “In the last 40 years, President Barack Obama was the only U.S. leader who seemed to have recognized how intensely Iranians desired an acknowledgment of their importance and an overt show of respect for Iranian ezat (pride) — which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helpfully provided amid the negotiations. That’s why Obama was able to conduct meaningful dialogue with Iran and ultimately conclude an agreement. Trump, on the other hand, has run roughshod over nafs (self) by including Iranians in a blanket travel ban and threatening them with “bigger [problems] than they’ve ever had before” if their government ever reverts to the more extensive nuclear program it had prior to the JCPOA.”[ForeignPolicy]

HAPPENING ON SUNDAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will deliver a speech on “Supporting Iranian Voices” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Pompeo is expected to highlight the Iranian regime’s corruption and give an update on the U.S. campaign “of maximum economic pressure and diplomatic isolation” following Trump’s exit of the Iran nuclear deal, a senior State Department official said in a background briefing to reporters.

— “You look at how during the time of the JCPOA their increased oil revenues could have gone to improving the lives of the Iranian people, and instead they went to terrorists and dictators and proxy militias around the Middle East,” the official said.

Sources close to Netanyahu: Trump knew the Iran nuclear deal was bad — by Herb Keinon and Michael Wilner: “President Donald Trump did not need anyone to convince him to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday, two days after a tape emerged of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking credit for Trump’s position against the deal… The official said that from the first moment that Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015, “he was talking about how this was the worst deal ever signed. So the idea that Netanyahu came in and shifted his view [is incorrect]. We obviously don’t want the impression that he [Trump] was wavering, he was just hearing from many different leaders [to support the deal], so it was the prime minister against all the different leaders. That was the origin of Netanyahu’s comment.”

 “The official said that Jerusalem did not come under any pressure from Washington to walk back Netanyahu’s comments.” [JPost]

SCENE IN JERUSALEM — Hungarian PM’s Yad Vashem visit met with protests — by Inbar Tvizer: “Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum on Thursday was met with some 20 people protesting outside, saying Orbán is an anti-Semite who violates human rights… They were dispersed by the police a few minutes later, telling Yad Vashem employees they should be ashamed of themselves for hosting the Hungarian prime minister.” [YnetVideo] • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visits Western Wall [JPost]

— Noa Landau tweets: “Hungary’s Orban did not go overboard – he basically wrote NOTHING in the president’s guestbook (just signed).” [Pic

** Good Friday 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: Murdoch, Iger, Roberts, and the Frenzied Summer of Merger Mania [VanityFair] • Billionaire Marc Lasry Sees Bitcoin’s Price Reaching $40,000 [CoindeskCNBC Privé Revaux Takes on Private Equity Partner [WWD] • Four Seasons Hotel Company Planning to Open Tel Aviv Location [Calcalist] • Greycroft — founded in 2006 by Alan Patricof, Ian Sigalow and Dana Settle — raises $250M for its fifth early-stage fund [TechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT — Larry Page is quietly amassing a ‘flying car’ empire — by Mark Harris: “Kitty Hawk and Opener are based just a few buildings away from each other in Palo Alto, California, but have almost no contact. In fact, their CEOs have to compete for [Larry] Page’s attention and funding… Workers at Kitty Hawk and Opener don’t know whether Page is simply hedging his bets with multiple aircraft, or embarking on a bold attempt to corner the market for flying cars as it emerges.” [TheVerge]

CNN chief Jeff Zucker to undergo heart surgery — by Stephen Battaglio: “CNN President Jeff Zucker will be out of action for at least six weeks as he undergoes elective heart surgery to correct a long-standing condition. Zucker, 53, told staff of the impending medical leave on Thursday… “He assured everyone he is going to be just fine,” CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter wrote on Twitter… He chose to have the procedure now because August is typically a slower news month.” [LATimes

TOP TALKER — Randi Zuckerberg responds to her brother’s Holocaust comments — by Laurie Segall: “Randi Zuckerberg, who has long worked with many Jewish community organizations, spoke out Thursday in a statement… one day after her brother drew criticism for telling Recode’s Kara Swisher that some Holocaust deniers “aren’t intentionally getting it wrong,” and so Facebook (FB) would not remove their posts. “As a leader in the Jewish community, and someone who has worked at the ground floor of social media, I felt a responsibility to weigh in,” she wrote.”

“Randi Zuckerberg said her brother “could have chosen his words differently,” but she applauded him for “navigating this incredibly difficult new world where the notion of free speech is constantly changing.” And she lamented that a platform that has connected Jewish organizations and united people around the world also can be used as a weapon against them… “I wish that these platforms didn’t give a voice to those who cry out for divestment from Israel, make anti-Jewish remarks, and many of the other issues affecting our community today,” she wrote. “But silencing everyone — or worse, silencing selectively — would be far more nefarious.”” [CNNMoney]

— Randi Zuckerberg writes on Instagram“I pretty much NEVER weigh in on anything related to my brother or Facebook in the news… but as someone who takes pride in my Jewish identity, while also admiring my brother’s leadership and respecting the challenges of running a platform with billions of people and an ever-shifting definition of “free speech,” I am grateful to have the opportunity to weigh in with a personal statement.”

The Confused Ethics of Mark Zuckerberg – Let’s Definitely Not Judge Those Holocaust Deniers — by Sharon Waxman: “The reality is that Zuckerberg is winging it when it comes to making value judgments about the vast array of content on his platform. He doesn’t want to have to make decisions, dammit, that’s not why he started the thing… So now we can add Holocaust Denial to the list of things that the man who controls a communications platform with 2 billion-plus users does not understand.”[TheWrap

REPORT — Congratulations, Mr. President: Zuckerberg Secretly Called Trump After The Election — by Ryan Mac and Charlie Warzel: “In the days following Donald Trump’s election victory over Hillary Clinton, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg placed a secret, previously unreported call to the president-elect during which, sources told BuzzFeed News, he congratulated the Trump team on its victory and successful campaign, which spent millions of dollars on advertising with Facebook.” [BuzzFeed]

Former Trump Aide Sam Nunberg talks to Hollywood Reporter’s Paul Bond: Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury book is going to be a TV series. Will your character be in it? Nunberg: Michael told me Ari Emanuel told him I have to be in it. I hope I’m played by Zach Braff, because as a Jewish guy I don’t want to be, like, typecast by a guy like Seth Rogen. I’m very worried. If there’s anything I can do to help with my casting, I’m happy to do it.”[HollywoodReporter]

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — Derivatives Trader Hits a Full House for Charity Poker Crown — by Amanda Gordon: “A full house — twos over queens — won the ninth annual Take ‘Em to School Poker Tournament early Thursday. Walter Lamerton, a derivatives sales trader at Sanford C. Bernstein, beat Sessa Capital’s Jae Hong to take the crown. Both outlasted poker pro Erik Seidel, who finished third… Bernstein’s Michael Sabat and his older brother John Sabat of Cubist Systematic Strategies organized the event as a fundraiser for Education Reform Now, a group that advocates for public schools… Marc Lasry didn’t make it to the final four tables. Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn did, with his daughter Naomi and coach Jonathan Little rooting for him.” [Bloomberg]

SPORTS BLINK — Latest Israeli hoops protégé Deni Avdija finding his wings — by Joshua Halickman:“Some have called Deni Avdija the next Omri Casspi. Avdija himself says that he looks at the first Israeli in the National Basketball Association as a role model in whose footsteps he would like to follow, but he also wants to be his own man. The Israel-born 17-year old with Serbian heritage may very well be the next blue-and-white product to head to the greatest league in the world, but that’s still a few years away when he becomes NBA Draft eligible in 2020.” [JPost]

DESSERT — ‘I Love Peace,’ Says Boyle Heights Cafe Owner Of Protest Over Support Of Trump Immigration Policies: “On Thursday, protesters held signs and screamed at patrons in front of Asher Caffe & Lounge located at 945 S. Boyle Ave. in Boyle Heights… “So what’s the connection? This is what I don’t understand. I’m confused — the connection between Donald Trump and good coffee,” Israeli-born businessman Asher Shalom told CBS2 News… Despite the controversy, Asher Caffe was busy Wednesday with people who support Shalom and his right to his political opinions. “I don’t think politics should get in the way of good food,” said one woman. “I support him, in that I will come and give him my business,” another patron said.” [CBSLA]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: NYC real estate developer, Sheldon Solow turns 90… Retired after 30 years in the US Senate (D-MD) following 10 years in the House of Representatives, Barbara Mikulski turns 82… President of the National Endowment for Democracy since its 1984 founding, Carl Gershman turns 75… Long-time member of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as a consul to Hong Kong and ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben-Zeev turns 74… Commissioner on the US Commission on Civil Rights (2011-2016), Assistant Secretary of HUD in the Clinton administration, presently Vice Chair of the Board of Bank of San Francisco, Roberta Achtenberg turns 68… NYTimes columnist, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman turns 65… Molecular geneticist at NYC-based Rockefeller University and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Jeffrey M. Friedman turns 64… Broadcast and digital media executive, managing director of FDM Azerbaijan LLC and Azerbaijan International Film Company, both based in Baku, Farrell Meisel turns 63… Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Barbara Risman turns 62… Past president of the Women’s Department at the Jewish Federation of Detroit, her late father was the US Ambassador to Norway (1997-2000), mother of fashion designers Matthew and Alex, Marcie Hermelin Orley… Political director of CNN, where he oversees the political coverage across all of CNN’s platforms, David Marc Chalian turns 45… Co-author of “Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame,” he is a staff writer at The Atlantic and a fellow at the New America Foundation, former editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer turns 44… Singer who burst on the scene as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol, Efraym Elliott Yamin turns 40… Senior Vice President at lobbyist Capalino+Company, Fred Kreizman turns 40… Managing partner of the communications firm of Main & Rose, writer, speaker and advocate, Beth Doane… Utility player for MLB’s New York Mets, he started at third base for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Ty Kelly turns 30… Sheila Ganjian Navi turns 28… Senior business analyst at McKinsey & Company, Etan Raskas turns 26… Institutional sales associate at BlackRock in San Francisco, Jonathan Tamir Alden turns 26… Senior associate for training and certification at Relativity, Ashley Abramowicz… Jack Guggenheim… Goldie Fields

SATURDAY: Chilean born classical music composer Leon Schidlowskyturns 87… Escondido, California resident, Leonard Simon Zoll turns 82… CEO of Sony/ATV, a large music publishing firm, Martin Bandier turns 77… Professor emeritus in the Department of Physics at Bar-Ilan University, Shlomo Havlin turns 76… Criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafmanturns 70… Comedian and actor, best known for his five seasons on Saturday Night Live (1985-1990), Jon Lovitz turns 61… Chief Rabbi of Russia since 1993 and president of the Conference of European Rabbis (an organization with 700 members), Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt turns 55… Founder, president and CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and the Electrification Coalition, Raphael “Robbie” Diamond turns 44… Director of strategic partnerships at Jerusalem U, Chloé Simone Valdary turns 25… President of the Jewish community of Malaga, Spain, Elias Cohen

SUNDAY: Former secretary of Veterans Affairs (the only Trump Cabinet appointee confirmed by a 100-0 vote), he served as Under Secretary of the VA during the last two years of the Obama administration, David Shulkin turns 59… Israeli actress, prominent in both theatre and fiim, Gila Almagor turns 79… British Conservative Party member of Parliament for 36 years (1974-2010), Anthony Steen turns 79… Historian, author and Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1975, Judith Walzer Leavitt turns 78… British biochemist and Professor at the University of Dundee in Scotland since 1971, Sir Philip Cohen turns 73… Actor, director and comedian, Albert Brooks(born Albert Lawrence Einstein) turns 71… Past president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit, Richard Martin Nodel turns 70… Winner of eight Academy Awards, eleven Grammy awards, pianist and composer of many Disney movie musical scores, Alan Menken turns 69… Managing director of a public affairs firm and works to ensure that the Holocaust and its many victims are not forgotten, Terry Swartzbergturns 65… Founding partner of the DC-based intellectual property law firm, Greenberg & Lieberman, Stevan Lieberman turns 53… Television journalist and news anchor who has worked for Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and Al Jazeera America, David Shuster turns 51… Director of the Field Operations team at the Pew Charitable Trust, Elise Shutzer turns 38… Former White House assistant press secretary, now a writer for VICE on HBO, Reid Cherlin turns 37… General Treasurer of the State of Rhode Island since his state-wide election in 2014, Seth Magaziner turns 35… Talia Thurm turns 27… Actor Skyler Gisondo turns 22… Executive editor of Penguin Press, Warren Bass… Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, Jason Guberman-Pfeffer… Michael Suissa… Serial entrepreneur Yoela Palkin… Cindy Masters… Columbia Business School student Maor Cohen, who’s attending Columbia Business School this fall…


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