Daily Kickoff: Inside Mnuchin’s ‘resistance’ to Trump’s Iran strategy | Watch Paul Ryan’s ‘Shana Tova’ | Fish Fridays in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint


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ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Kushner Says Punishing Palestinians Won’t Hurt Chance for Peace Deal — by Mark Landler: “Speaking on Thursday, 25 years to the day after the Oslo peace accords were signed on the White House lawn… Mr. Kushner said President Trump had actually improved the chances for peace by stripping away the “false realities” that surround Middle East peacemaking… “All we’re doing is dealing with things as we see them and not being scared out of doing the right thing. I think, as a result, you have a much higher chance of actually achieving a real peace.”

“Mr. Kushner… also insisted that the rift between the Palestinians and Washington was not unbridgeable… “In every negotiation I’ve ever been in,” he said, “before somebody gets to ‘yes,’ their answer is ‘no.’” [NYTimes]

U.S. expects some Israeli criticism of parts of coming Mideast plan: envoy — by Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland: “In an interview with Reuters, Jason Greenblatt… said U.S. negotiators had entered the “pre-launch phase” of the plan… But he declined to specify a time frame… “We’re going to have to defend the plan to Israelis and Palestinians. We are ready for criticism from all sides, but we believe this is the best path forward for everyone,” he said.” [Reuters]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert at a press briefing: “We’re trying a different approach, seeing if this is going to work. We are committed to it. We have people on the ground who are working to this effort each and every day and we remain optimistic and committed to working on this… We will unveil [the plan] when we are ready to unveil it.”

REPORT — Trump tempts Palestinians back to talks with $5b carrot — by Dan Zaken: “The US is offering the Palestinian Authority $5 billion to return to the negotiating table…  According to diplomats, Trump approved the concept and the amount of the budget – $5 billion from the administration and a similar amount from the European Union and the Persian Gulf states.” [Globes

Jason Greenblatt tweets“Fact: False. When the peace plan is released, if the PA is serious about peace & wants to improve Palestinian lives, the PA should want to review the plan & engage. It is an absurd idea to pay $5b for a party to “return to the negotiating table.” How would that accomplish peace??”

Kushner on U.S. aid to the Palestinians: “Nobody is entitled to America’s foreign aid.” [NYT]

Former Ambassador Martin Indyk writes… “The Day Israeli-Palestinian Peace Seemed Within Reach: Perhaps when Mahmoud Abbas, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Donald Trump leave the scene, it will be time to try again. Perhaps then someone will dig up the video of that magical day in September 1993, when peace seemed within reach, and when an American president promised Israelis and Palestinians “the quiet miracle of a normal life.” [TheAtlantic

TRANSITION — Martin Indyk is joining the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as a distinguished fellow and director of executive education, a new initiative aimed to provide tailored educational offerings to corporate members. Indyk served as the John C. Whitehead Distinguished Fellow in International Diplomacy in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings.

OP — Senator Bernie Sanders writes in an op-ed that it is “hard to imagine that Israel’s Netanyahu government would have moved to pass the recent ‘nation-state law,’ which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, if Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t know Trump would have his back.”

Sanders on Adelson: “Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson gives generously to rightwing causes in both the United States and Israel, promoting a shared agenda of intolerance and illiberalism in both countries.” [TheGuardian]

PALACE INTRIGUE — The day after Bob Woodward’s book — Gabriel Sherman details President Trump’s current state of mind and the people who are paying a price for the bombshell book, based on West Wing and outside sources:

Trump is furious at former economic adviser Gary Cohn… Trump’s relationship with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, which was already strained, has become almost nonexistent… One of the only people Trump continues to trust is Stephen Miller… Ivanka Trump is even worried about impeachment…

Ivanka and Jared Kushner continue to agitate for Trump to replace Chief of Staff John Kelly with a more pliable manager. Ivanka recently asked a friend about Republican political adviser and former lobbyist Wayne Berman… Another name Ivanka has discussed is former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker, currently serving as Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff. [VanityFair]

INSIDE THE ADMIN — It’s Trump vs. Trumpworld Over North Korea — by Susan Glasser: “In recent days, I spoke with a half-dozen former U.S. government officials and Allied diplomats who have been briefed by Trump Administration officials on the state of play with North Korea since Trump’s Singapore summit with Kim. All acknowledged what one called the “frustratingly slow” progress with the post-Singapore discussions, and described a Trump Administration whose top officials remain deeply skeptical of the course being pursued by the President, with even the usual bureaucratic turf battles being subordinated to the shared concern over Trump’s very public embrace of Kim.” [NewYorker]

Inside Steven Mnuchin’s ‘resistance’ to Trump’s Iran strategy — by Josh Rogin: “Several administration officials claim that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has found another way to “resist” the president’s maximum-pressure strategy on Iran: simply neglect to give the president a document he requested several weeks ago… Following a July 26 Principals Committee meeting on Iran, the Treasury Department was tasked with producing an options memo laying out possible sanctions on SWIFT, its board members or their banks. Almost two months later, the document is missing in action — which prevents Trump from making a decision.”

“Even if SWIFT capitulates, there’s no assurance Iran will negotiate. Trump’s maximum-pressure strategy may fail. But we’ll never know if that’s the case if Trump isn’t able to actually implement maximum pressure, said Richard Goldberg, who wrote the original SWIFT sanctions legislation as an aide to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “The only hope for the president’s strategy to succeed is getting SWIFT to disconnect all the Iranian banks,” he said. “And if the Treasury Department waffles one iota on that mission, they are setting the president up for failure.” [WashPost]

President Trump tweets“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people. He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!”

ON THE HILL — The House approved a bipartisan bill yesterday that would elevate the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to the rank of Ambassador (appointed by the President and requiring Senate confirmation) and prohibit the person from being double-hatted with another portfolio of issues. It would also impose a legal limit on the time in which the Administration can continue to leave the post of the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism without a designated appointee. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who co-sponsored the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act in 2004.

Ira Forman, who held the position until the end of President Barack Obama’s term, tells us… “I think this is a good thing. I am particularly happy that Congress made clear that once the legislation is passed that the administration has 90 days to appoint a special envoy. I don’t have any reason to believe that the administration is purposely not doing this, but I think anything that can be done to emphasize the importance of filling this position sooner than later is great. This is an issue that has largely been bipartisan and I hope that it continues to be bipartisan.”

Watch — House Speaker Paul Ryan wishes Politico’s Jake Sherman a “Shana Tova” at the weekly GOP press conference on the Hill [Video]

NEW YORK PRIMARY RESULTS — Governor Andrew Cuomo sailed to victory in his bid for a 3rd term, beating Cynthia Nixon and her anti-establishment ticket by 32 points. Despite ruling out a 2020 presidential run during the primary, Cuomo’s win places him back into the 2020 mix.

Julia Salazar overcomes controversy to notch another victory for democratic socialists: “For the national media, this was a rollercoaster — but through it all, Salazar tried to refocus the campaign on her leftist platform for addressing local issues, particularly the ballooning cost of housing in Brooklyn. It’s a message seems to have resonated, and is more evidence that the socialist left is a force to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party.” [Vox]

Democratic Insurgents Topple 6 New York Senate Incumbents — by Vivian Wang: “The most high-profile casualty was Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, the former head of the I.D.C. In that role, he was for years one of Albany’s most powerful players, sharing leadership of the chamber with his counterparts in the Republican conference and participating in the state’s secretive budget negotiations. But on Thursday, he was defeated by Alessandra Biaggi, a lawyer and former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.” [NYTimes] • “Klein… did not appear to address supporters at Maestro’s Caterers in Morris Park.” [NorwoodNews]

Simcha Felder Wins District 17 State Senate Race: “Felder sparked outrage among Democrats this year when decided to caucus with Republicans after the disbandment of the Independent Democratic Conference. But ultimately Blake Morris was unable to defeat the well-established Felder, who had the Hasidic community and more than $500,000 in campaign donations behind him.” [Patch]

MIDTERMS — Two Republican Congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher (CA) and Matt Gaetz (FL), were seen with an alleged Holocaust denier this summer, after being criticized in the past for associating with the individual, according to a report by Mother Jones’ David Corn. Charles Johnson, who denied the Holocaust in a 2017 Reddit Ask Me Anything, attended a fundraiser for Gaetz’s reelection campaign held on a yacht in Newport Beach, California, on July 20. Rohrabacher also attended and spoke at the event, according to the report. The fundraiser was hosted by Alfred Balitzer and Rod Wilson, founders of Pacific Research & Strategies Inc. In a June 21 Facebook post, Johnson referred to Rohrabacher as “my friend and adopted congressman.”

— Rohrabacher is facing a tough reelection bid against Democratic challenger Harley Rouda. A newly released New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll shows Rohrabacher and Rouda tied at 45 percent.

2020 WATCH — Michael Bloomberg set to run for Democrats against Trump for presidency in 2020 —by David Charter: “Michael Bloomberg… is preparing to run for president as a Democrat, The Times understands… “Mike Bloomberg told me he is going to run in 2020,” a source said. “He has the money to see it through while other candidates knock themselves out.” [TheTimes

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Josh Luber, Greg Schwartz and Dan Gilbert’s StockX raises $44M from GV and Battery to expand marketplace internationally [TechCrunch] • Steven Mnuchin Asks $32.5 Million for Longtime Manhattan Home [WSJ] • Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor, Always Looks to Grow, Starts Podcast Division [NYT] • Leslie Wexner’s L Brands close down Henri Bendel stores [WSJ]

Spotlight — Michael Steinhardt accused of inappropriate remarks to female Hillel employees: “Billionaire philanthropist Michael Steinhardt is the subject of an internal investigation by Hillel International for making inappropriate sexual remarks to two female employees, The New York Jewish Week reported.” [JTA]

— “Details of Hillel’s investigation remain hazy. Steinhardt’s own attorney, Tom Clare, said in a statement to the Forward that, contrary to the Jewish Week’s reporting, Hillel told him that its investigation was not focused on Steinhardt.” [Forward]

Netanyahu Aide Steps Aside After Sexual Assault Allegations — by David Halbfinger: “It was [David] Keyes’s behavior toward young women that resulted in measures being taken to insulate them from his advances, according to interviews. That is why he was curbed from the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section… in November 2013. The section’s deputy editor at the time, Bret Stephens… said he gave Mr. Keyes a dressing-down, calling him a “disgrace to men” and “a disgrace as a Jew.” On Nov. 2, 2016, after an Israeli reporter began inquiring about Mr. Keyes, Mr. Stephens said he contacted Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, warning him that Mr. Keyes posed a risk to women in Israeli government offices.” [NYTimes]

Eurovision Song Contest Set For Tel Aviv in 2019 — by Robert Mitchell: “The 64th edition of the annual international song competition will be broadcast around the world from the Expo Tel Aviv International Convention Center in Israel with semi-final shows on May 14 and 16, and the final broadcast May 18 next year.” [Variety]

ACROSS THE POND — Labour antisemitism row was created by Israel to distract from ‘atrocities’, trade union boss suggests — by Benjamin Kentish: “Mark Serwotka, who leads the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and is a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, told a fringe event at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference that the Jewish state could have “created a story that does not exist” in order to distract attention from “atrocities” he said it has committed.” [TheIndependent

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks during a debate on anti-Semitism at the House of Lords: “Anti-Semitism, or any hate, become dangerous when three things happen. First, when it moves from the fringes of politics to a mainstream party and its leadership. Second, when the party sees that its popularity with the general public is not harmed thereby. And three, when those who stand up to protest are vilified and abused for doing so. All three factors exist in Britain now. I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. That is why I cannot stay silent. For it is not only Jews who are at risk. So too is our humanity.” [Video]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Algemeiner held it’s 5th annual J100 Gala last night at Capitale in New York City. Honorees at the event included Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, actress Sharon Stone, and Richard and Monique Chera. The publication also announced its annual J100 list of “the top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life.”

SPOTTED: Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Einat Dayan, Andrew Gross, Howard Lorber, Dovid and Mushka Efune, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, Amb. Miroslav Rames, Arthel Neville, Keren Brosh, Malcolm Hoenlein, Ron Agam, Stanley and Cookie Chera, Siggy Flicker, Ross Cameron, Mark Dubowitz, Joan Nathan, Thane Rosenbaum, Ruchie Freier, Winnie Grinspoon, George Klein, Mark Levenson, Bob and Amy Book, Samuel Schear, Ken Kurson, Ofir Dayan, Ben Brafman, Yehuda Meshi Zahav, Jeff Wiesenfeld, Avi Posnick, Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt and Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt.

IDEA — Let’s bring back the Sabbath as a radical act against ‘total work’ — by William Black: “As a boy in late-1940s Memphis, my dad got a nickel every Friday evening to come by the home of a Russian Jewish immigrant named Harry Levenson and turn on his lights, since the Torah forbids lighting a fire in your home on the Sabbath… When taken seriously, the Sabbath has the power to restructure not only the calendar but also the entire political economy. In place of an economy built upon the profit motive – the ever-present need for more, in fact the need for there to never be enough – the Sabbath puts forward an economy built upon the belief that there is enough. But few who observe the Sabbath are willing to consider its full implications, and therefore few who do not observe it have reason to find any value in it.” [Aeon]

DISPATCH — Anshel Pfeffer reports from Rosh Hashanah in Uman, Ukraine: “I realized that I may be standing by the grave of a Hasidic rabbi, in a dreary backwater of what was once the Jewish Pale of Settlement, but most of the Jews surrounding me were not Ashkenazim. They were descended from families who had lived not long ago in the Maghreb, Yemen, Ethiopia, Iran and Iraq and every other non-European diaspora that ever existed. If I was writing for one of the more enlightened American Jewish publications, I would say that a majority of pilgrims at Uman are Jews of color. Jews of every color.” [Haaretz]

DESSERT — For Five Hours on Fridays, Fish Factory Is a Hot Spot — by Charles Passy: “If you visit Acme Smoked Fish’s headquarters in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood on Friday morning, you’ll find a scene that is anything but corporate. This loxapalooza is a weekly event that goes by the formal name Fish Friday… Acme now calls itself the largest producer of smoked fish in the country. The company expects the lines for Fish Friday to be even longer this Friday, which comes a few days before Yom Kippur… Moshe Shmueli, a 32-year-old resident of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, said Fish Friday is about more than a deal. “It’s the atmosphere,” he said.” [WSJ

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan says she had ‘a very strange Jewish upbringing’ —by Josefin Dolsten: “I had a very strange Jewish upbringing actually,” Kagan, 58, told journalist Dahlia Lithwick… “You would think Lincoln Square Synagogue, she comes from a Modern Orthodox family. Actually, my family didn’t really know what it was… [We] kept a kosher home so that my grandparents would eat there, but otherwise we were the kind of Jews who kept a kosher home and then went out and ordered shrimp at the Chinese restaurant,” the jurist recalled.” [JTA

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: CEO of MDC Holdings, Chairman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and AIPAC board member, Larry A. Mizel turns 76… Actor, writer and director with a fifty year career in film and TV, first known for his role in the original Star Trek television series, Walter Koenigturns 82… Founder of Vermont-based Kidrobot, a retailer of art toys, apparel and accessories, and Ello, an ad-free social network, Paul Budnitz turns 51… President of Strauss Media Strategies since 1996, during the Clinton administration he became the first-ever White House Radio Director, Richard Strauss turns 49… Managing director at NYC-based corporate communications firm Kekst and Company, he is also a past president of the Young Israel of New Rochelle, Mark A. Semer turns 48…

Comedian, television actor, writer and producer, Elon Gold turns 48… Public relations professional, formerly of ABC News, Courtney Cohen Flantzerturns 40… Staff writer at The Atlantic, Russell Berman turns 35… New York Times metro reporter, Matt Flegenheimer turns 30… Founder and owner of ARA Capital, a British firm with holdings in e-commerce and energy, he is the son of billionaire Roman Abramovich, Arkadiy Abramovich turns 25… Los Angeles based attorney working as a contracts manager at East West Bank, Roxana Pourshalimi… Senior national political reporter for Bloomberg, Jennifer Jacobs… Amy Kauffman

SATURDAY: CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein turns 64… Borscht Belt comedian known as “The Master of Malaprop,” Norm Crosby turns 91… 1969 Nobel Prize laureate in Physics and professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, Murray Gell-Mann turns 89… Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston, Diane Levin turns 71… NYC-based composer and multi-instrument musician, Ned Rothenberg turns 62… Former Quantitative research scientist at hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, David Magerman turns 50… NPR’s Media Correspondent, David Folkenflik turns 49…

Vice President of Leadership at Anti-Defamation League, Deborah Leipzigturns 42… Chicago public school teacher, event organizer and fundraiser, Shayla Rosen turns 40… Graduate of The Ohio State University, now a fellow there for the Israel on Campus Coalition, Tomer Elias turns 31… VP of business development at Rockville, Maryland based PW Communications where she has worked to help Israeli firms sell to the U.S. government, Amanda Bresler turns 30… Politico’s New York City education reporter, Eliza Shapiro turns 28…

SUNDAY: Argentinian physician, author of controversial books on gender relations, Esther Vilar (born Esther Katzen) turns 83… Defense policy advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 and member of a number of DC based think tanks, Richard Perle turns 77… Montebello, California resident, Jon Olesen turns 74… Founder and CEO of OurCrowd, Jonathan Medvedturns 63… Senior account executive at The Forward, Fern Wallach turns 62… Award winning illusionist, David Copperfield (born David Seth Kotkin) turns 62… Candidate for Congress from Wisconsin in 2018, he was the VP of political affairs and political director for J Street, he is a nephew of former US Senator Herb Kohl, Dan Kohl turns 53…

Rosh Yeshiva of the Modern Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Riverdale, New York, Rabbi Dov Linzer turns 52… Long-form magazine writer, featured in publications including Politico Magazine, New York Magazine, GQ Magazine and The New Republic, Jason Zengerle turns 45… Israel’s only Olympic Gold medalist (to date), Bronze in Atlanta 1996; Gold in Athens 2004, windsurfer Gal Fridman turns 43… Jerusalem-born founder and chairman of “Over The Rainbow – the Zionist Movement,” a World Zionist Congress faction, Tzvi (Tziki) Avisar turns 40… Associate Director at education consulting firm EAB, she was previously at both Hillel and AIPAC, Suzy Goldenkranz


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