Daily Kickoff: Dershowitz defends Booker after photo with BDS activists | How old-money — Ackman, Pritzker, Saban, Gilbert — invest in tech


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DRIVING THE CONVO — At the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans on Friday, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was pictured posing with anti-Israel activists while holding a poster that criticized Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank. “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” the sign in Booker’s hands read. The image was shared on Twitter by @US_Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a pro-Palestinian group that endorses the BDS movement.

Booker’s Senate spokesperson Jeff Giertz insisted that the Senator did not realize the poster’s reference to Israel. “Just before delivering a speech in New Orleans, Senator Booker was approached by dozens of people for photos,” Giertz explained in a statement on Friday afternoon. “In one instance, amid the rush, he was posing for a photo and was passed a sign to hold — he didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel. He hopes for a day when there will be no need for security barriers in the State of Israel, but while active terrorist organizations threaten the safety of the people living in Israel, security barriers are unfortunate but necessary to protect human lives.”

Professor Alan Dershowitz tells us… “As someone who is constantly asked to pose for photos with strangers, I understand how Senator Booker was tricked into posing with a sign whose implications he did not immediately comprehend. I have known Senator Booker for many years and have discussed with him many aspects of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. I am confident that he fully understands Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terrorism. We share a hope that just as the barrier dividing Jerusalem came down in 1967, so too the other barriers will someday be able to be safely removed, if and when terrorism against Israelis ends.”

— Dershowitz added that he doesn’t see this picture become an issue in 2020 should Booker decide to run for president.

Noah Pollak tells us… “Senator Booker’s explanation for why he posed with BDS activists is not credible, and so his judgment on foreign policy will be an issue in any future election. If he wants to begin repairing the damage, he can argue to the progressives he appears so interested in courting that their contempt for Israel and support for BDS is unacceptable. But I am sure he will never publicly criticize the kind of people with whom he just posed with. That would require political courage.”

A veteran of Democratic presidential races, who asked to remain anonymous, tells us that Booker could get a one-time pass over this ‘stupid’ move. And while it’s possible that Booker didn’t read the sign, it’s also possible that “having never been confronted with a split-second decision about angering a fan, Booker didn’t know what to do,” the Dem strategist said.

“This ain’t baseball — if there’s a strike two, then he’s out,” he added. “It will certainly be possible to run for president in 2020 as a pro-Palestinian Democrat — we’ll probably see more than one candidate do that and it’s definitely where a lot of Democratic primary voters are. But it isn’t possible to be pro-Palestinian if you’ve already been co-president of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s L’Chaim Society.”

Ann Lewis, a former White House Communications Director, emails us… “I have too much confidence in voters to think that a photo snapped in 15 seconds — and explained 15 minutes later — will have a lasting effect.”

Democratic pollster and campaign strategist Mark Mellman: “Booker’s long and strong record of support for Israel says a lot more than a mischievously placed sign handed to him as he was going to a podium to speak. Some Israel critics tried to misuse Booker and he did not let it stand, making clear immediately that Israel has the right and responsibility to protect itself.”

Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush: “Maybe it will hurt him with everyone. His explanation that he hadn’t read the sign suggests he doesn’t have the courage of someone else’s convictions.”

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted on Friday: “Booker’s office issued a statement saying he was handed the sign amidst a crowd and did not read it. These things do happen to politicians. I accept his explanation.”

DRIVING THE DAY — The U.S. is expected to restore major sanctions against Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal following President Trump’s withdrawal from JCPOA in May. “The United States is going to enforce these sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reportersyesterday. “It’s an important part of our efforts to push back against Iranian malign activity.”

— “A U.S. Treasury official… said so-called “snapback” sanctions will be reimposed at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.” [Reuters]

Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, emails us… “The Trump administration is sending a clear message to banks, insurers and other companies around the world: get out of Iran or face dire legal and financial consequences. U.S. sanctions on Iran are back and they will be fully enforced.”

“Now it’s time to look ahead to the next round of sanctions in November — especially for foreign banks processing oil payments with the Central Bank of Iran and banks on the board of SWIFT, which must disconnect Iranian banks or face certain cut-off from the US financial system. As this maximum pressure campaign gets rolling, the mullahs will face a stark choice: fundamental behavioral change or regime collapse.”

Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, on what’s next: “The big regional picture is a race underway to determine what comes first: Will the Iranian regime buckle under internal protest and external pressure, including the tightened economic grip imposed by the Trump Administration’s welcome reimposition of sanctions, or will Iran’s attempt to turn Syria into a Lebanon-like front against Israel, armed to the teeth with offensive weapons, trigger a massive Iran-Israel conflagration?”

“While the Trump administration seems to have indicated it would be happy with any of three outcomes of its Iran policy — a unilateral change by Iran of its malign behavior in the Middle East; a willingness by Iran to negotiate a bigger, better agreement covering both nuclear and non-nuclear issues; or full-scale regime change in Iran — at the current moment, it is difficult to see the Tehran regime choosing either of the first two paths. That calculus may change if the domestic situation dramatically worsens, both politically and economically, or if Israel adopts an even more muscular and assertive strategy to counter Iranian gains in Syria. ”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Senator and Chairman of UANI Joe Lieberman on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo: “It’s a very important day, and that’s a day that I for one I didn’t think would happen. Tomorrow is the day that effectively the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015 dies, and this is one death that I am not mourning because I thought it was a bad agreement… I give credit to President Trump on this one, for getting us out of the agreement. Hopefully, it will bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table to negotiate a better deal.” [Video]

U.N. officials: Trump, Rouhani may hold meeting at U.N. General Assembly — by Shlomo Shamir: “A summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month, a senior diplomatic source at the UN headquarters in New York told Ma’ariv… “It’s still too early to talk about it, but we think it’s worth making the effort to take this opportunity to push toward a meeting between the two leaders,” one UN official said.” [JPost]

Trump tweeted on Saturday“Iran, and its economy, is going very bad, and fast! I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter – it is up to them!”

U.S. Accuses Iran of Terror Plots in Effort to Sway Europe — by Laurence Norman in Brussels and Matthew Dalton in Paris: “A slate of investigations into alleged terror plots and killings sponsored by Iran has opened a new front in U.S. efforts to persuade European governments to cut ties with Tehran… Washington, Israel and Iranian dissident groups say the alleged recent operations show that Iran has ended years of caution about hunting its enemies in Europe.” [WSJ]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: There’s Trump’s Foreign Policy and Then There’s His Administration’s — by Mark Landler: “For aides like [Mike] Pompeo or Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, there could be another reason for the disconnect with Mr. Trump: they harbor their own long-term political ambitions and do not want to run afoul of traditional Republican constituencies. Cozying up to Iran or Russia does not play well with mainstream Republicans.” [NYTimes

REPORT: Trump and Allies Seek End to Refugee Status for Millions of Palestinians — by Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer: “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote about the agency in one of those emails, dated Jan. 11 and addressed to several other senior officials, including Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace,” he wrote.”

“Kushner raised the refugee issue with officials in Jordan during a visit to the region in June, along with… Jason Greenblatt. According to Palestinian officials, he pressed the Jordan to strip its more than 2 million registered Palestinians of their refugee status so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate there.”

“The White House declined to comment on the record for this story. A senior executive branch official… said U.S. policy regarding the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee program “has been under frequent evaluation and internal discussion. The administration will announce its policy in due course.” [ForeignPolicy

Palestinians slam reported US plan to weaken refugee agency: “Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, alleged Sundaythat the Trump administration is “pushing to impose facts on the ground, by realizing all of Israel’s demands.” [AP

How Trump’s strong support for Israel harms pro-settler party — by Mazal Mualem: “Trump’s highly supportive policy toward Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and his failure thus far to instigate a peace process with the Palestinians seem to have left [Nafatali] Bennett without a cutting-edge agenda… With such a friendly US administration and a US ambassador… HaBayit HaYehudi and Bennett have lost the “demon” who made them so essential for the hardcore right.” [Al-Monitor]

The real lesson Trump learned from Charlottesville — by Annie Karni: “The big picture is the fizzle,” said Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard and a prominent Never Trump conservative. “He’s not in good shape politically, but he’s not in worse shape. Charlottesville didn’t change his numbers. Everything has just become more the way it was.” … In some ways, the experience of Charlottesville, as well as his ability to recover from any short-term crisis, has been empowering for Trump and his allies. Three former aides said the takeaway from Charlottesville is the nihilistic notion that nothing matters except for how things play.” [Politico]

ROAD TO THE MIDTERMS — In an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh, Republican challenger Noga Sachs discussed her campaign against incumbent GOP Congresswoman Ann Wagner in Tuesday’s primary for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District:

Sachs, a 34-year-old Israeli American, is Wagner’s only challenger and is facing an uphill battle. The Missouri GOP attempted to throw her off the ballot alleging Sachs is a ‘Trojan Horse’ candidate. In a phone interview, Sachs admitted that she is not a traditional Republican and that in the past she voted for Democrats…

Sachs on her views toward President Trump: “Trump does a lot of not necessarily well thought-out-things that I think is irresponsible. Definitely, if you’re talking about moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, I agree with that and several other ideas that he has. But I couldn’t tell you that I would be like Wagner and that I would just always go with what Trump says.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

White Nationalists Love Corey Stewart. He Keeps Them Close — by Danny Hakim and Stephanie Saul: “Some white nationalists volunteer for Mr. Stewart’s campaign, and several of his aides and advisers have used racist or anti-Muslim language, or maintained links to outspoken racists like Jason Kessler, the organizer of last year’s violent rally in Charlottesville, Va. Mr. Stewart has not distanced himself from those aides… Mr. Stewart praised President Trump’s statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Unite the Right white nationalist protests in Charlottesville last August. “I don’t think he said anything bad there,” Mr. Stewart, 50, said.” [NYTimes]

Sanders boosts progressive candidate ahead of Michigan governor primary — by Max Greenwood: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sought to boost Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed in Detroit on Sunday… In a fiery stump speech that touched on the senator’s usual motifs of income inequality and the corrupting influence of money in politics, Sanders touted El-Sayed as a political ally who would buoy the progressive movement in a state narrowly won by President Trump in 2016.” [TheHill]

In Deeply Blue New Jersey, an Unexpected Battle for Senate — by Nick Corasaniti: “So far, national Democratic Party groups have not contributed to [Sen. Bob] Menendez’s efforts, though that may change. Mr. Menendez said he might get help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which he once led… Mr. Menendez also counts one of the rising stars in the Democratic Party as his close friend: Mr. Booker, who despite spending time traveling and planting the seeds for what many believe will be a presidential run in two years, is also invested in ensuring Mr. Menendez is re-elected.” [NYTimes]

Max Rose on leave from campaign trail to train with National Guard — by Anna Sanders: “Staten Island Congressional candidate and decorated war vet Max Rose is detouring from the campaign trail for military training. Rose is on leave from his campaign between Sunday and Aug. 20 for squad-level combat exercises with the New York National Guard.” [NYPost]

Pennsylvania congressman touts fake pro-Israel award from Sacha Baron Cohen — by Josh Israel: “Alongside his 2018 “True Blue Award” from the anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council and his 2010 Leadership Award from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, [Rep. Scott] Perry (R-PA) lists the fake prize — incorrectly listing it as “70 for 70″ on his “Awards and Recognition” page.” [ThinkProgress

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Deal Gives Kushners Cash Infusion on 666 Fifth Avenue [NYTimes] • Chetrit Group out at 9 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn’stallest development [TheRealDeal] • In ‘Confidential’ Letter, Hedge Fund Elliott Skewers ‘Secretive’ Label [WSJ] • Israeli Startup DouxMatok Makes Sugar Sweeter [Bloomberg] • Scooter Braun Launches Fitness Venture[Variety] • Sun, sand, sea and … unicorns? Why Tel Aviv is the world’s new startup capital [TheGuardian]

SPOTLIGHT — Old-Money Billionaires Are Chasing New Tech Riches — by Anupreeta Das: “The family office of hedge-fund titan William Ackman has invested in Rubicon Global, an Atlanta-based trash-collection startup last valued at $1 billion… E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., which in July raised $650 million from investors at a $15 billion valuation, counts a family office founded by Nicholas Pritzker and his four adult children among its early backers.

“Successful tech companies are popping up all around [families],” making it impossible not to consider investing, said Jacob Cohen, who oversees venture investments for Dan Gilbert, the billionaire cofounder of mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc. and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. While Mr. Cohen is open to investing in deals led by Valley firms, he also focuses on Michigan-area investments and holds out his serial-entrepreneur boss Mr. Gilbert as a resource to young founders.”

“Entrepreneur-turned-venture-investor Barak Pridor, who has $100 million from media mogul Haim Saban’s investment firm Saban Capital Group to deploy on startups, too is steering clear of the Valley. He’s training Saban Ventures on Israel, which he deems as friendlier than the Valley. Israel has a thriving community of entrepreneurs and has produced venture-backed companies such as Mobileye, acquired by Intel Corp. for $15 billion.” [WSJ]

PROFILE — Disney’s Streaming Service Starts to Come Into Focus — by Brooks Barnes: “The service’s initial success or failure will depend a great deal on an ascendant Disney executive named Ricky Strauss, who was recently given — to the surprise of many in Hollywood — creative oversight of the service’s programming.” [NYTimes]

She’s Joining Goldman’s Most Elite Tier, as Its Youngest Banker — by Sridhar Natarajan: “[Stephanie] Cohen is now Goldman Sachs committee’s youngest, with the rare label of “ex officio” member… Since the start of this year, Cohen has held the weighty title of chief strategy officer — leading a team that helps decide where the bank should pursue new lines of business or acquisitions of its own… She’ll be among seven women on the 33-person panel.” [Bloomberg]

SPORTS BLINK: Amar’e Stoudemire Is on a Religious Quest — by Sam Kestenbaum: “The halls of the Jewish Museum in Manhattan were hushed and dim as Amar’e Stoudemire stepped inside… With furrowed brow, he considered dozens of Jewish relics on display: a chunk of carved third-century marble, twinkling candelabra and a carved wooden chest for keeping the Torah… “When I’m not training, I study Torah,” Mr. Stoudemire said. “Study, train, study, train, study, train, study. That’s life.” … Mr. Stoudemire seems undeterred by religious gatekeepers who might discourage such exploration. “I study with elders, with rabbis, with everyone,” he said. “I don’t limit myself.”” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: C-SPAN Caller Threatens ‘To Shoot’ CNN Hosts Brian Stelter And Don Lemon — by Hayley Miller: “A supporter of President Donald Trump threatened “to shoot” CNN reporters Brian Stelter and Don Lemon during an on-air call with C-SPAN on Friday… “I’m not asking for sympathy,” Stelter said Sunday. “I don’t think I’m in extreme danger. I know some of my colleagues get much worse threats than I do. CNN has a great security team and we know how to handle this stuff.” “But these kinds of threats are coming in more often,” he warned.” [HuffPost]

Bret Stephens writes… “Trump Will Have Blood on His Hands: The message I got in May was the third time I’ve been expressly or implicitly threatened with violence by someone whose views clearly align with Donald Trump’s.” [NYTimes]

CNN boss Jeff Zucker is doing well after heart surgery: “Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, is through heart surgery and doing well. Zucker is on a leave of absence through August to recover and is expected back at the network in September.” [NBCNews]

CAMPUS BEAT — Stanford RA Who Threatened ‘Zionist Students’ Resigns –by Marcy Oster: “A student at Stanford University who threatened to “physically fight” against “Zionist students” following Israel’s passing of legislation making Israel the “nation-state of the Jewish people” announced that he would resign his post as a residential assistant…” [ForwardStanfordDaily]

Some College Students Choose a School Where They Don’t Fit, on Purpose — by Kyle Spencer: “When Jonah Shainberg was accepted to Notre Dame, a football-heavy Catholic university in Indiana, his mother balked at the idea. “I’m not sending my Jewish son to Notre Dame,” Mr. Shainberg recalled her saying. He was also skeptical. But once he was there, Mr. Shainberg… discovered something about himself he had not totally understood before: His faith was central to his identity. “I think Notre Dame made me more Jewish,” he said.” [NYTimes]

Ross Douthat writes… “The Jewish Crossroads: One form of pressure comes from the left, which is increasingly intent on rooting out all residues of traditionalism within the liberal order… At the same time, there is a different pressure from Israel itself. As the Jewish state’s political and cultural debate has shifted to the right, Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced the view that European Jewry’s old enemy, Christian nationalism, is less dangerous to the Jewish future than the dissolving effects of liberal cosmopolitanism and the threat posed by Islamist anti-Semitism… These centrifugal forces, pulling leftward and rightward, have already alienated younger liberal Jews in the United States from the uncomplicated pro-Israel sentiments of their grandparents. And they may portend a future where the “liberal politics with a dose of cultural conservatism” combination gives way to a sharper choice for many Jews: a more consistently conservative Judaism bound to Israeli nationalism, and a liberal Judaism that’s more consistently liberal and less identitarian — and perhaps ultimately more secularized and assimilated.” [NYT]

ACROSS THE POND: Jewish leaders blast Corbyn for ‘bland’ video with no apology in video — by Tim Stickings: “Jewish leaders have dismissed Jeremy Corbyn’s latest attempt to solve his party’s anti-Semitism crisis after the Labour leader posted a video promising to ‘root out’ racism among his supporters.” [DailyMail]

Anti-Semitic Graffiti Scrawled on Childhood Home of Elie Wiesel in Romania — by Kit Gillet: “It was scrawled late Friday evening on the outside wall of the childhood home of… Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. The building in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, is now a protected historical monument and museum. The graffiti read in part, “Nazi Jew lying in hell with Hitler” and “Public toilet, anti-Semite pedophile.” … In a statement on Saturday, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its regret over the vandalism at Mr. Wiesel’s childhood home, and condemned “any anti-Semitic gestures and any behavior or expression that promotes intolerance and xenophobia.”[NYTimes]

— The Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania called the damage “grotesque” and asked investigators “to treat this incident with maximum severity with maximum responsibility.” [CNN]

IMAGE — Roger Waters displayed the slogan “Resist Israeli anti-Semitism” on the Jumbotrons at his concert last night at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.[Pic]

— Rabbi David Wolpe tweeted“That Roger Waters displayed this at his concert in Poland of all places is unendingly odious.”

DESSERT — Eating kosher at ASU is about to get easier — by Lauren Castle: “Hannah Widawer, 20, found herself taking an Uber or relying on friends with cars to get kosher food off campus in her earlier years at Arizona State University. She is one of an estimated 3,500 Jewish students attending ASU… That will change this year as ASU will serve new kosher options at the Hassayampa Academic Village Dining Hall…” [AZCentral]

New Vegan Shawarma Joint in Tel Aviv Is a Game-changer — by Roni Kashmin: “The new place, called Sultana, will be a shawarma eatery for all intents and purposes… Only this shawarma is totally vegan.” [Haaretz]

Healthy taqueria Taco Dumbo opening fourth location — by Jennifer Gould Keil: “While the name evokes Brooklyn, Taco Dumbo — a SoCal taqueria that focuses on healthy food and cold-pressed juice — is launching an outpost at 1385 Broadway, between 37th and 38th Streets, later this year… Jonathan Krieger and Dan Bodner of Retail Worx repped Taco Dumbo.”[NYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Beverly Hills-based family law attorney, founding partner of Jaffe and Clemens, Daniel J. Jaffe turns 81… Casino owner, three time winner of the World Series of Poker, and former executive of Wilsons Leather and Rainforest Cafe, Lyle Berman turns 77… Founder and spiritual leader of The Elijah Minyan in San Diego, Wayne Dosick turns 71… Austrian businessman with many US, Israeli and Eastern European investments, Martin Schlaff turns 65… Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, formerly Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2012-2013), Tara D. Sonenshine turns 59… NASA astronaut who spent 198 days on the International Space Station during 2008, he brought bagels from his family’s bagel store in Montreal into space on his first mission into orbit, Gregory Chamitoff turns 56… Famed computer hacker, now a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick turns 55…

AVP of Public Affairs at the American Council on Education, Jonathan Riskind turns 55… Chair of the Executive Grantmaking Committee of the board of directors at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, board member of Hillel at Stanford University, Susie Sorkin… Television and radio sports anchor on ESPN and ABC, he was one-half of the “Mike & Mike” team but now hosts his own morning program, Mike Greenberg turns 51… HBO’s boxing commentator and co-host of ESPN’s First Take, Yiddish speaking Max Kellerman turns 45… Former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick turns 42… Entrepreneur In Residence at LinkedIn, she was previously the CEO at ReUp Education, Nitzan Pelman… Actress, director and screenwriter, Soleil Moon Frye turns 42… Creative director and graphic designer at Facebook, Rachel Gogel… Senior Policy Advisor to Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Corey A. Jacobson turns 29… Senior producer and journalist at Mic, Jessica I. Goldberg


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