Daily Kickoff: Details on the Putin-Bibi-Trump deal on Syria | Kushner threatens to abandon Gaza First plan | The Israeli author who loves Amazon


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DRIVING THE DAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo harshly criticizedIran’s leaders in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library yesterday, comparing them to a “mafia” and conmen. Pompeo stopped short of calling for regime change, but he announced stepped-up US government broadcasting in Farsi.

Pompeo: “During the time of the nuclear deal, Iran’s increased oil revenues could have gone to improving the lives of the Iranian people. Instead, they went to terrorists, dictators, and proxy militias. Today, thanks to regime subsidies, the average Hizballah combatant makes two to three times what an Iranian firefighter makes on the streets of Iran.”

FIRE AND FURY 2.0? Trump Warns Iran’s Rouhani to ‘Never, Ever Threaten’ the U.S. — by Nick Wadhams: “President Donald Trump launched a new broadside against Iran, warning of unspecified “consequences” if Hassan Rouhani continues threatening America… The threat — similar to ones Trump issued last year in warning North Korea about its rapidly improving nuclear weapons program — risks leading to a speedy escalation if neither side backs down.” [BloombergWashPost]

— “The escalation of bellicose rhetoric comes just three weeks before the first round of banking sanctions suspended under the nuclear deal is reimposed.”[WashPost]

HEARD THIS MORNING — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Fox & Friends: “The only person that’s inciting anything is Iran. [Trump] is going to continue to be tough on this topic. He’s certainly not going to tolerate the leader of Iran making threats against Americans.”

Julia Ioffe tweets“Prediction: in a year, Trump has a summit with Rouhani in some neutral city—Dubai?—on which 1,500 journalists will descend, at which point, Trump and his supporters will claim that he averted war with Iran.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for his “strong stance” on Iran in remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said that Trump and Pompeo were taking a clear position against “Iranian aggression” after years that “the Iranian regime was pampered by world powers.” Netanyahu added: “In this context, I must point out that our diplomatic and military cooperation with the U.S. is at an all-time high.”

CONFERENCE CIRCUIT — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Christian United for Israel (CUFI) 13th annual summit in Washington, DC via satellite. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Pastor John Hagee will speak at the gathering this evening. [Livestream

On Tuesday morning, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), as well as Paul Teller, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, will address the conference.

CUFI’s Co-Executive Director Shari Dollinger tells us… “What will strike you is even though the event in the same building as the annual AIPAC Policy Conference (Walter E. Washington Convention Center) is how dramatically different the events are in terms of the participants. Our participants are from all 50 states, and for the folks that come, this is really a very serious financial sacrifice in some cases and a big deal for them to get off work. You are going to see a cross-section of America. They are deeply passionate about many issues, but the issue that they come to Washington for is Israel and Israel alone. Our members are excited and activated after the embassy move.”

— CUFI, which crossed the 4.3 million member mark this week, will also honor the life of slain veteran Taylor Force and celebrate the passage of the Taylor Force Act, which Dollinger says, CUFI helped pass by driving more than 1 million emails to every office on Capitol Hill. Ari Morgenstern, Communications Director for CUFI, added that the pro-Israel group is confident that the Trump administration will fully implement the Taylor Force Act.

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — As Violence Flares, Kushner Threatens to Abandon a Plan B for the Mideast: Rebuilding Gaza — by Mark Landler: “Declaring that no foreign investors are willing to pour money into Gaza during what they label a Hamas-driven conflict, [Jared] Kushner and [Jason] Greenblatt… are rethinking their efforts to rebuild Gaza’s economy as a way of opening the door to a broader peace accord. “Hamas has driven Gaza to a state of desperation,” Mr. Kushner said on Sunday. “Provocations will not be rewarded with aid.” Hamas leaders, he said, needed to demonstrate “a clear intent for a peaceful relationship with their neighbors” in order for aid and investment money to flow.” [NYTimes]

Trump administration stays on the sidelines as U.N. envoy pushes for peace in Gaza — by Loveday Morris: “The Americans have cut aid for UNWRA, so how dare they speak about the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” said Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator. “The Americans have disqualified themselves from any kind of role.” [WashPost]

Ambassador Nikki Haley, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman write… “The peace proposal we will make will be similarly realistic, recognizing the legitimate needs of both Israel and the Palestinians as well as the interests of the broader region. No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.” [CNN]

TALK OF THE REGION — Hundreds of Syrian White Helmets evacuated to Jordan through Israel: “The Israeli military in coordination with its U.S. and European allies evacuated hundreds of Syrian rescue workers known as the White Helmets from near its volatile frontier with Syria, in a complex and first-of-a-kind operation. The evacuees… were transported to Jordan… Israel’s military said the overnight operation was “an exceptional humanitarian gesture” at the request of the United States and European allies due to an “immediate threat to the (Syrians) lives.” [CBSNewsCNN]

— Ambassador David Friedman tweets“Acting at the direction of President Trump, I had the privilege to work with the Israeli Government & my incredible colleagues at State & NSC in coordinating Israel’s daring rescue of #WhiteHelmets and their families from Syria. Thank you Israel for the great humanitarian effort!”

Israel says it fired ‘David’s Sling’ interceptor at rockets launched in Syria: “Israel’s launched its “David’s Sling” air defense system on Monday as a precaution against rockets fired within neighboring Syria, setting off sirens in northern Israeli communities.” [Reuters

HAPPENING TODAY — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meetwith Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem.

Inside the Putin-Netanyahu-Trump deal on Syria — by Josh Rogin: “Administration sources… tell me that Trump is now fully on board with the Putin-Netanyahu deal over Syria… Administration sources said, although nobody can be sure because Trump hasn’t fully briefed his own staff, the understanding is that Putin walked Trump through the terms of the Syria deal… Under the new deal, Russia agrees to keep Iranian troops and proxy groups 80 kilometers, or about 50 miles, from Israel’s border (if they can), and Putin promises not to object if Israel strikes Iranian assets in southern Syria.”[WashPost]

INTERVIEW — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger talks about the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in an interview with the Financial Times: “It was a meeting that had to take place. I have advocated it for several years. It has been submerged by American domestic issues. It is certainly a missed opportunity. But I think one has to come back to something. Look at Syria and Ukraine. It’s a unique characteristic of Russia that upheaval in almost any part of the world affects it, gives it an opportunity and is also perceived by it as a threat. Those upheavals will continue. I fear they will accelerate… The mistake NATO has made is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian [western idea of a state] entity. And for Russia this is a challenge to its identity.” Do you mean that we provoked Putin, I ask. “I do not think Putin is a character like Hitler,” Kissinger replies. “He comes out of Dostoyevsky.” [FinancialTimes]

2018 WATCH — Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart exchange jabs in first Virginia Senate debate — by Ben Jacobs: “Kaine raised Stewart’s past associations with white supremacists such as the Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul Nehlen… Stewart attacked Kaine for standing by Leslie Cockburn, a Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia who co-wrote a book the New York Times called “Israel-bashing for its own sake”. Kaine said: “You can be critical of someone’s foreign policy and not be an anti-Semite”. He added: “I don’t have to agree with her foreign policies; her foreign policy views aren’t necessarily mine.” In response to a follow-up question from the Guardian, a spokesman for Kaine told the Guardian: “He said he doesn’t agree with every foreign policy position. I do not believe he has read her book.””[TheGuardian]

** 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: Accused Russian agent Butina met with U.S. Treasury, Fed officials including Stanley Fischer [Reuters] • Hedge Funds Set to Face Off Over Debt-Ridden Windstream [WSJ] • Leon Cooperman to Convert Omega Advisors to Family Office at Year End [InstitutionalInvestor] • Thor Equities gives up ownership of Upper East Side building [TheRealDeal] • Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Leaving The Atlantic [WashPostNYT]

TOP TALKER: Daniel Gordis writes… “Soul-Searching After a Rabbi Was Detained in Israel: Diaspora Jews, much to their frustration, have virtually no impact on Israel’s policies. If anything, the newly passed Jewish Nation-State law essentially codifies that fact. What remains to be seen is whether rank-and-file Israelis will begin to worry that Israel is following in the path of numerous European countries that, like the U.S., are in the grips of regimes with hard-right inclinations. Until a few days ago, there was little reason to believe that Israelis were ready to be roused. How ironic it would be if the detaining of a Conservative rabbi sparked the conversation that Israelis desperately need to have.” [BloombergView]

Elli Fischer writes: “Take it from one who performs Orthodox weddings outside the Chief Rabbinate: The Haiyun case is no big deal… I accuse those who equate Israel with Iran and Saudi Arabia, who have begun posting their own pictures as “WANTED” signs on social media, of distorting the reality that the Israeli authorities have clearly chosen to look the other way.” [ToI]

Israel’s New Law Inflames the Core Tension in Its Identity — by Emma Green: “Over the long and tortured seven-year history of this bill, it has essentially been emptied of almost all of the content that the right-wing folks who supported it at the beginning sought for it to contain,” said Noah Efron, a professor at Bar-Ilan University… “If the right-wing government has worked for seven years on a bill that in its first forms had teeth, and in the end they pass a weakened bill that’s symbolic … is that a sign of strength or of weakness?”

“On some parts of the Israeli left, though, the reaction has been vastly different. “It fits so well with the narrative on the left that it’s almost not questioned: that Israel is sliding towards an abyss of non-democracy, of rising commitment to ethnocracy,” said Efron. “There are people who really felt as though: This is it. This is the day I’m marking on my calendar, the day when Israeli democracy ended.” For his part, Efron thinks “that’s crazy,” even though he identifies with the political left himself. He doesn’t think the bill matters nearly so much, especially because it has minimal practical effect.” [TheAtlantic]

CAMPUS BEAT — Stanford Student Threatens to ‘Physically Fight Zionists’ on Campus — by Adam Rubenstein: “Hamzeh Daoud, a rising junior at Stanford, took to Facebook on Friday afternoon to declare that he’ll “physically fight Zionists on campus next year.” Angered by the Israeli government’s passage of its “basic law,” Daoud said that he’ll physically fight Zionists on campus “if someone comes at me with their ‘Israel is a democracy’ bullshit…” By Friday evening… he edited it, changing the word “physically” to “intellectually.” [TheWeeklyStandard]

Max Fisher writes… “Israel Picks Identity Over Democracy. More Nations May Follow: Democracy’s growth has stalled globally. Though the causes for this are not fully known, the trend is marked, in part, by once-healthy democracies rolling backward. Conventional wisdom holds that this is because of mismanagement or the self-interest of leaders. But maybe this is wrong. Forced to choose between putting democracy or identity first, people may not always pick democracy.” [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — The Authors Who Love Amazon — by Alana Semuels: “For most of Prime Day, Amazon’s annual sales bonanza, an unfamiliar face topped the site’s Author Rank page: Mike Omer, a 39-year-old Israeli computer engineer and self-published author… Omer told me he has now sold more than 10,000 books through Amazon, and that his books have also been borrowed more than 10,000 times on Kindle Unlimited… “What made this possible is Amazon,” he told me. “It can expose me to millions, or tens of millions of readers.” … Omer’s experience has been like a dream, he told me.” [TheAtlantic]

SCENE THE OTHER DAY: “David Geffen headed into port on Sunday, stopping for lunch at La Scoglio with a few friends after spending the day sailing around Capri and southern Italy… The group included musicians Paul McCartney, supermodel Karlie Kloss, designer Misha Nonoo, billionaires Henry Kravis and Barry Diller, Hollywood-agent-turned-media-adviser Michael Kives and venture capitalist Joshua Kushner… Geffen posted about the ‘fabulous lunch’ before later sharing a photo of the group aboard Rising Sun.”[DailyMailInstagram]

SPORTS BLINK: 7-year-old chess champ can’t compete in Tunisia tourney because she’s Israeli: “Schoolgirl Liel Levitan from Haifa is unable to accept an invitation to play in the World Chess Championship because host nation Tunisia will not allow Israelis to compete… The International Judo Federation on Friday stripped the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia from hosting two international tournaments due to their failure to guarantee equal treatment of Israeli athletes.” [ToI

DESSERT — In search of perfect pastrami: Your guide to the Jewish delis of Los Angeles — by Jenn Harris: “While the deli culture in Los Angeles isn’t as robust as in New York City, if you grew up in this city, chances are you can trace at least one significant life moment to the Saran-wrap-laden counters of a Jewish deli.” [LATimes] • How Does the Owner of Katz’s Deli Do His Job? [Slate]

REMEMBERING — Jonathan Gold, Food Critic Who Celebrated L.A.’s Cornucopia, Dies at 57 — by Pete Wells: “Jonathan Gold, the restaurant critic whose curious, far-ranging, relentless explorations of his native Los Angeles helped his readers understand dozens of cuisines and helped the city understand itself, died on Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 57… Mr. Gold wrote about restaurants for Gourmet, California and Los Angeles magazines, but the bulk of his reviews appeared in two newspapers: LA Weekly, where in 2007 he won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, and The Los Angeles Times, where he had been the chief critic since 2012.” [NYT]

BIRTHDAYS: US District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, appointed by President Carter in 1979, assumed senior status in 1999, he is a past President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Judge Avern Cohn turns 94… World-reknowned pianist and conductor, Leon Fleisherturns 90… Banker who distributed $60 million to his 400 employees when he sold City National Bank of Florida in 2008, Leonard L. Abess turns 70… Retired appellate court judge, born in Bucharest, Romania, raised in Los Angeles, at age 35 he was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Reagan, Judge Alex Kozinski turns 68…

Real estate investor who made his fortune in the trade and manufacture of fertilizer in the former Soviet Union, Alexander Rovt turns 66… Freelance journalist and a former reporter and columnist for Glamour magazine, she is the widow of Daniel Pearl and wrote a book about his kidnapping and murder in Pakistan in 2002, Mariane Pearl turns 51… Director of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Museum since 2016, Rachel Goslins turns 49… Dov M. Katz turns 48… Contributor to Time, Joel Stein turns 47… Activist and fashion designer, Monica Lewinsky turns 45… Reporter for The Washington Post, Perry Stein turns 29… Baseball outfielder in the New York Mets organization, he was the starting right fielder for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Zach Borenstein turns 28… Associate at The Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Joseph Stern… Melissa Brown


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