Daily Kickoff: Iran fires top banker for not foreseeing Trump’s withdrawal | Dershowitz criticizes nation-state law | Facebook buys Israel’s Redkix


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INSIDE THE ADMIN — Jared and Ivanka dig in for the long haul — by Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan: “A White House official with direct knowledge of the situation told Axios that in recent months, Jared and Ivanka have spent a good deal of time with the president in the private dining room adjoining the Oval Office and in the residence. West Wing watchers note that they weren’t accompanied by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly… Whenever Kelly departs, Javanka will be further empowered. They have outlived their enemies, and have a firmer grip on power than ever. No wonder friends say they are feeling emboldened, and aren’t going anywhere.”

“Both will also play roles in the midterms and 2020 presidential campaign: Jared will continue his behind-the-scenes role working on politics with reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Eric Trump. Ivanka will likely be onstage at key moments and in strategic locations, such as the suburbs where Trump is vulnerable with college-educated women.” [Axios]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Bibi Netanyahu rejected the timing of a Russian proposal to host a summit between the Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, Barak Ravid reported this morning. In their meeting in Jerusalem on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Netanyahu that Abbas has already agreed to meet. Netanyahu did not outright reject the offer to meet with Abbas, but maintained that it could not take place before the Trump peace plan rollout.

Trump team preparing economic plan as part of Mideast peace proposal — by Steve Holland: “A long-awaited Middle East peace plan from the Trump administration will include what the White House is calling a robust economic plan… Trump’s envoys are also working on the most detailed set of proposals to date for the overall plan, the White House official said in a briefing with reporters on Monday… A rollout strategy was being developed, the official said.” [Reuters]

— “Earlier this week, Kushner and Greenblatt met in Washington with the head of Egypt’s intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, to discuss the situation in Gaza and Egypt’s attempts to prevent another war between Israel and Hamas.”[Haaretz]

— RESULTS: U.S. Releases $195 Million in Military Aid to Egypt — by Jared Malsin: “The Trump administration released $195 million in military aid to Egypt… A State Department spokesperson said the funds had been released in recognition of “steps Egypt has taken over the last year in response to specific U.S. concerns.” [WSJ]

After Trump cuts aid, U.N. relief agency lays off staff in Gaza and West Bank — by Loveday Morris: “The U.N. Relief and Works Agency… said it had cut 154 employees in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another 113 in Gaza. About 580 other staff in Gaza will be moved to part-time contracts… The cuts in Gaza are “making an intolerable humanitarian crisis even more life threatening,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.”[WashPost]

REPORT — Paris turns into Mossad’s playground — by Tamar Shabak: “Paris has become a center of operations for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, according to an article published this week in French newspaper Le Monde. The article, titled “The Mossad’s shadow hovers over Paris,” cites senior French intelligence officials, one of whom claimed that “The city is the Mossad’s playground. The Chinese and the Russians may be our enemies, but let us not forget the Israelis and the Americans are also conducting themselves with great aggression.” … “Our ability to respond to their actions is limited because they rush to use the ‘diplomatic card’ and complain to the French prime minister and president’s offices,” the French intelligence official vented.” [Ynet]

HAPPENING TODAY — After Trump’s Threat to Iran, White House Convenes a Policy Meeting — by Michael Gordon, Nancy Youssef and Peter Nicholas: “National Security Adviser John Bolton is scheduled to hold a meeting Thursday of Pentagon and other top officials on the administration’s emerging strategy on Iran… The discussions are to take place among members of the administration’s Principals Committee, a Cabinet-level panel on national security issues that Mr. Bolton chairs and whose members include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among other senior officials.”

“Any strategy requires a clear objective and the means to pursue that objective,” said Dennis Ross, a former diplomat who is at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Right now, I am not sure what the objective is, and the only means being used are rhetoric and sanctions.” [WSJ]

Iran’s Top Banker Is Dismissed in Shake-Up as U.S. Sanctions Take a Toll — by Rick Gladstone: “Iran’s central banker was fired on Wednesdayin the first senior shake-up since the United States abandoned the nuclear agreement nearly three months ago and restored sanctions, moves that worsened an already weak Iranian economy. The dismissed official, Valiollah Seif… had been widely assailed for… failing to foresee that the Trump administration would withdraw from the nuclear agreement.”

“Mr. Seif may have been further impaired by the Trump administration’s decision, after reimposing sanctions, to blacklist him for what it called his role in money transfers to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant organization that the United States regards as a terrorist group. The blacklisting made it difficult for international bankers to deal with Mr. Seif without risking American penalties.”[NYTimes]

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write… “Trump Has Acted Foolishly On Iran. Let’s Hope He Avoids War: Should the unpredictable Trump try to engage Iran in negotiations, he’d have to recommit to the nuclear accord and likely satisfy Iran with additional concessions should he want to alter it.” [NPR]

Israel detects Russian shift on Iran’s presence in Syria — by Ben Caspit: “Ironically, when it comes to the issue of Iran in Syria, we have a rare case of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hassan Rouhani and Bashar al-Assad all sharing a common interest,” a very senior military source told Al-Monitor… “All of these leaders want Iranian forces to get out of Syria.” [Al-Monitor]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “I can tell you that each time I have spoken with President Trump, both before Helsinki summit and after, Iran has been a central point that we have focused on with respect to U.S. policy in Syria. I’m confident it will remain so.”

ON THE HILL — House Republicans Mount a Long-Shot Bid to Impeach Rod Rosenstein — by Katie Benner: “A group of House Republicans escalated their feud with the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, on Wednesday, introducing articles of impeachment in a long-shot bid to oust the official overseeing the special counsel inquiry into Russian election interference… The group of 11, led by Representatives Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, would need the support of a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to convict Mr. Rosenstein.”[NYTimes]

ROAD TO THE MIDTERMS — Interview with Perry Gershon, a Democratic challenger in New York’s 1st Congressional District running against Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin — by Jacob Kornbluh: Gershon, who volunteered on the presidential campaigns of Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart in the 1980s before starting a career in real estate, says he reignited his political activism following the election of President Trump. “It goes arm in arm with my beliefs as a Jew that I think we need to fight against what Donald Trump represents. I think he’s a threat to American democracy as we see it.” Gershon described Zeldin as a “Trump enabler” and criticized the Republican for seeking the support of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.

Gershon on the Iran deal: “I do not agree with the Trump administration’s approach. I think that JCPOA was flawed but basically, a good deal. I think pulling out of it was an error on the Trump administration’s part. I think it’s critical that we do everything we can to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. And the Iran deal, though imperfect, was a helpful step towards achieving that agenda. I don’t think whether I would have supported it or opposed it in 2015 is relevant. The fact is, we were in the Iran deal and we should’ve stayed there. The Iran deal gave concessions to Iran and those were some costs, but we’ve already given those concessions. So if we pay too big of a price, we’ve already paid it.” Read the full interview [JewishInsider]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jeffrey Katzenberg has closed his first $1 billion round of funding for WndrCo’s “New TV,” a mobile video platform that will aim to cater to our increasingly limited attention spans with short-form premium content [CNN-Pacific] • Murdoch and Iger to Skip Fox and Disney Shareholder Votes [NYT] • Facebook buys Israeli messaging company Redkix [ReutersRecode] • Mark Zuckerberg Loses $16.8 Billion in a Snap as Facebook Plunges [Bloomberg] • How Silicon Valley Has Disrupted Philanthropy [TheAtlantic] • Nestle CEO Defends Chairman After Criticism From Activist Loeb [Bloomberg] • Sam Zell to exit Chicago office market with sale of O’Hare complex [RealDeal] • US firm Upserve buys Israel restaurant tech startup SimpleOrder [ToICTech]

SPOTLIGHT — Sergio Marchionne’s Death Thrusts Agnelli Heir Into Spotlight — by Eric Sylvers: “John Elkann, head of the Italian family that controls Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, boarded his private jet last Friday in Turin, Italy, to fly to Zurich, where he went to a hospital to see his most important employee: FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne. The next day, Mr. Elkann, heir of Italy’s Agnelli family and chairman of Fiat Chrysler, announced the longtime CEO was seriously ill and wouldn’t be returning to the company. The 42-year-old owner swiftly appointed new management for the U.S.’s third-largest car maker and two other key family assets, including race-car maker Ferrari NV… The sudden turn of events is a wrenching change for Mr. Elkann, the scion of one of Europe’s most storied business dynasties, which was struggling to salvage a near-bankrupt car maker when the young Agnelli heir asked Mr. Marchionne to take the helm in 2004.” [WSJ]

— From Elkann’s Wikipedia page: “Born in New York City, John Elkann is the first son of Alain Elkann, a New York-born journalist and writer of French Jewish and Italian Jewish background.”

Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s latest: “The Big Business of Being Gwyneth Paltrow: Inside the growth of Goop — the most controversial brand in the wellness industry.” [NYTimesMag]

PROFILE — At 70, Founding A Cannabis Startup Can Be Quite A Trip — by Yaron Carni: “While her fellow startup founders e-scoot to co-working spaces around Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard — Israel’s version of Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road — Professor Leah Boehm, 70, rides her motorcycle the 40KM (24 miles) to Kibbutz Revadim in southern Israel every morning… At an age when most of her peers opt for retirement, look after their grandchildren, or go on long holidays abroad, Boehm co-founded and is building a new startup to tackle the inefficiencies in cannabis growing.”

“Boehm recognizes that she doesn’t fit the mold of a young startup founder, and that’s a good thing. “The concept that younger founders are energized risk-takers who have more free time and fewer family obligations sometimes makes us overlook the most knowledgeable and experienced of founders with a lot of passion for innovation,” she says.” [Forbes]

TOP TALKER — Alan Dershowitz says Israel ‘harder to defend’ after nation-state law: “Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and staunch supporter of Israel told i24NEWS “it was harder to defend Israel after the nation-state bill” passed last week… Dershowitz called Israel’s nation-state law “unnecessarily provocative,” explaining that it “only gives ammunition to the opposition.”” [i24News] • Finance minister says ‘hastily’ passed nation-state law is mistake, needs fixing [ToI]

MEDIA WATCH — Jerusalem Post Fires Cartoonist Over Caricature Mocking Netanyahu, Likud Lawmakers — by Itay Stern: “The Jerusalem Report, a news magazine published by Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post, fired on Tuesday the illustrator Avi Katz after a cartoon of his mocked an image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud lawmakers taking a selfie that was published following the passage of the nation-state law. The cartoon depicted the politicians as pigs… Despite the clear homage to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” … many people on social media were quick to compare it to anti-Semitic caricatures.” [HaaretzIndependent

ACROSS THE POND — Jewish newspapers claim Corbyn poses ‘existential threat’ — by Kevin Rawlinson and Pippa Crerar: “The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph each produced similar front pages for their Thursday editions attacking the Labour party’s decision not to fully absorb an internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism into its code of conduct, and its wider record on the issue since Corbyn became leader in 2015. In their joint editorial, they said the party was until recently the natural home for the Jewish community, but that Labour had “seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel” and now faced being seen as institutionally racist…” [TheGuardian]

Before the Holocaust, Jewish Suffering Had One Name: Kishinev — by Anthony Julius: “In Kishinev, a provincial city of the Russian Empire (now Chisinau, Moldova), on April 19-20, 1903, 49 Jews were murdered… This was the “Kishinev pogrom,” a “dreadful moment” in Jewish Diaspora life, Steven J. Zipperstein writes in his impressive, heart-wrenching new book on the subject, “Pogrom.” The episode is so little known now that its facts are likely to come as a shock to most readers. Yet until the late 1930s it was practically synonymous with anti-Semitism. The word “pogrom,” which Kishinev concretized, “was believed to capture accurately centuries of Jewish vulnerability, the deep well of Jewish misery,” Zipperstein writes. It was the state directing mob violence, a phenomenon that would reach its apogee in the Holocaust.” [NYTimes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Israeli Consulate in New York hosted a farewell reception for Deputy Consul General Amir Sagie, who is departing after a 4-year term, at Hudson Yards in NYC. Speakers at the event included Consul General Dani Dayan, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein, JCRC’s Michael Miller, and Andrew Gross. Sagie will serve as a senior advisor to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely upon his return to Israel. [Pic]

SPOTTED: Dr. Michal Bejerano-Sagie, Izzy Tapoohi, Noam Gilboord, David Pollock, Alicia Post, Mendy Carlebach, Mark Levenson, Eli Slavin, Councilman Kalman Yeger, Jennie Berger, Elizabeth Gioia, Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Judge Bruce Balter, Galit Peleg, Almog Elijis, Shani Dilian, Zack Pyzer, Sivan Aloni, Michael Alexander, Elizabeth Velez, Samuel Schear, and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.
 
DESSERT — Kosher Restaurant Puts On Receipt: ‘Immigrants Cooked Your Food And Served You Today’ — by Kylie Lobell: “Katsuji Tanabe, the restaurateur, executive chef, and owner of Mexikosher in Manhattan and Flushing, Queens, is now serving up immigrant support at his restaurants. The “Top Chef” alum and Japanese-Mexican immigrant is printing receipts at his establishments that say, “Immigrants cooked your food and served you today #ITookaRisk.” [Forward]

BIRTHDAYS: Photographer and documentary film maker, Elliott Erwitt turns 90… Member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes turns 90… Mayor of Las Vegas (1999-2011), where he was succeeded by his wife, he is a noted criminal defense attorney who once served as president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Oscar Goodman turns 79… Administrator at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston (1972-1982), chancellor of the California State University system (1991-1998) and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1998-2006), Barry Munitz turns 77…

Member of the Florida House of Representatives since 2012, representing southern Broward County, Richard Stark turns 66… Sports columnist, tv and radio personality, he works for ESPN’s Charlotte-based SEC Network since 2014, Paul Finebaum turns 62… SVP of strategy and growth and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Health Intelligence, Alan H. Spiro, MD, MBA turns 66… Correspondent for ABC News, a co-anchor for Nightline and the weekend edition of Good Morning America, Daniel B. “Dan” Harris turns 47… Israeli born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman turns 36… Israeli born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein turns 35… Political correspondent at Israel’s Walla News and self-described “political junkie,” Tal Shalev


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