Daily Kickoff: Top donors Seth Klarman, Les Wexner abandon GOP | Camp David at 40: Interview with Stu Eizenstat
Have our people email your people. Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here
EARLY ACCESS: Today’s Daily Kickoff was available in the Debut Inbox starting at 7:19AM EDT
DRIVING THE CONVO — Seth Klarman in a rare interview with NYTimes op-ed staff editor Bari Weiss: “I’m kind of a loner. One of the reasons I’m willing to come out of my shell and talk to you is because I think democracy is at stake. And maybe I’ll be able to convince some other people of that. And get them to support Democrats in 2018. We need to turn the House and Senate as a check on Donald Trump and his runaway presidency… I’m stretching far beyond what I usually do. By the election, I think I’ll have spent between $18 and $20 million.”
Klarman on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “In a lot of ways I’m actually excited about somebody like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez coming along because it’s a way of younger people and people of color and people who are different finding their voice and being part of the process.”
Among the Democratic candidates Klarman has given money to: Reps. Joe Kennedy (MA), Conor Lamb (PA), Beto O’Rourke (TX) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
Klarman on 2020: “What if it came down to a choice between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders? While a President Sanders would be “appalling,” he says Mr. Sanders is “not unhinged” and so he would pull the lever for him.”
Why it matters: “There are many people who are similarly situated to Seth Klarman — wealthy, hawkish, socially liberal, fiscally conservative types who felt politically homeless long before Mr. Trump came onto the scene.”
Klarman’s creds: “Paul Singer, one of the most influential hedge fund managers in the country, told me that if he was going to invest in any fund other than the one he himself manages, “the only one would be Seth’s.” Used copies of a book about investing that Mr. Klarman wrote in 1991 go for more than $650 on Amazon.” [NYTimes]
FLASHBACK — October 2017: Billionaire Republicans Privately Diss Trump: “Frequent GOP donor Seth Klarman, CEO of $30 billion Baupost Group hedge fund, had already warned his investors about Trump’s protectionist policies and the deficits his tax plan would produce… “The president is a threat to democracy. He has attacked journalists and he’s threatening to take away NBC’s license,” Klarman said… People don’t focus on this but Nazi Germany had a constitution before Hitler came to power and at the end of the war they had the exact same constitution. It lasted all the way through, but democracy didn’t.” [NYMag]
Les Wexner renounces Republican Party affiliation after Obama stops in Columbus —by Suzanne Goldsmith: “I just decided I’m no longer a Republican,” said L Brands CEO Leslie H. Wexner, speaking during a panel discussion about civility at Miranova’s Ivory Room billed as a “Columbus Partnership and YPO Leadership Summit.” “I’m an independent,” he said. “I won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party. I’ve been a Republican since college, joined the Young Republican Club at Ohio State.” … Wexner recalled [Trump’s comments following the Charlottesville protests], which he said caused him to lose sleep. “I have to do something because the leader of our country is behaving poorly,” Wexner recalled thinking.” [Dispatch]
Shalom Lipner tweets: “The subtext here is that both Wexner and Klarman have stellar records of support for transformative Israeli and Jewish communal initiatives. That they would break with the GOP over Trump speaks volumes about how they perceive his impact on both Israel and the Jewish community.”
RJC’s Matt Brooks tells us… “There is no question that folks have very strong feelings both pro and con for this administration (as many did under Obama as well). Very few are neutral on the Trump Administration. As such it’s not surprising that some GOP donors have decided not to give. However we are also seeing many new donors and people significantly increasing their support to the GOP because of the strong pro-Israel actions of this President including moving the Embassy, ending the Iran deal and cutting off funding for UNRWA and the PA. The RJC is on track to have one of its strongest revenue years ever.”
INBOX — Jewish People Policy Institute’s 2018 report: Midterm elections results could deepen crisis in Israel’s relations with the Democratic Party and undermine bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.
“The report also relates to a deepening frustration in the Trump administration with the lack of appreciation American Jews have shown for the steps taken by the president to improve Israel’s political and security reality. A Senior official in the administration emphasized to JPPI, “We can take justified criticism, but if Obama had transferred the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the American Jewish community would have been united in applauding him!”
Chemi Shalev writes… “Israel’s Irreconcilable Differences With U.S. Jews and the Democratic Party May Soon Lead to Final Divorce: Israel will ultimately and inevitably pay a steep price for its foolhardy neglect of the liberal world. The first accounting may come as early as November 6, if the U.S. Congress falls into the hands of a reinvigorated Democratic Party, depleted of its pro-Israeli stalwarts, increasingly beholden to its liberal, left-wing flank, eager to flex its muscles and to start exacting its revenge.” [Haaretz]
2020 WATCH — Bloomberg May Run for President as a Democrat. His Views on Policing and #MeToo Could Be a Problem — by Alexander Burns and Sydney Ember: “After a gun control-themed event in a Seattle community center Friday, [Michael] Bloomberg… said in an interview that he now firmly believes only a major-party nominee can win the White House. If he were to run, Mr. Bloomberg said it would be as a Democrat, and he left open the door to changing his party registration in the coming months. “It’s impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican — things like choice, so many of the issues, I’m just way away from where the Republican Party is today,” Mr. Bloomberg said… Mr. Bloomberg said he had no specific timeline for deciding on a presidential run: “I’m working on this Nov. 6 election, and after that I’ll take a look at it.” [NYTimes]
CAMP DAVID AT 40 — Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Camp David Accords, a framework signed by then Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, after 13 days of talks at Camp David. The accords, later cemented by a peace treaty in 1979, led to peace between Israel and Egypt for four decades.
INTERVIEW — Stuart “Stu” Eizenstat, who was among Jimmy Carter’s closest aides, shared a behind-the-scenes account of the Camp David talks — which he describes in his recently published book titled “President Carter: The White House Years“ — in a phone interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh.
“Camp David was 13 agonizing days and nights,” according to Eizenstat. “Carter drafted 20 separate peace agreements. He negotiated separately with Begin and Sadat because they were like two scorpions in a bottle. They could not be in the same room and they weren’t, except at the very first day of Camp David and the last when the deal was done. He worked with the delegations, the staff people, which was very unusual for a president to negotiate with somebody other than the head of states. Then he added two personal touches. The first was on the first Sunday of the 13 days. He took Sadat and Begin in his presidential limo to the Gettysburg battlefield to dramatize the fact that five wars between Egypt and Israel were enough. It led to two very emotional scenes, which I describe in my book. One is that Sadat, who was a general, started talking about [George] Pickett’s charge and how that was a turning point in the whole war. Begin, who was of course not a general, but who was a great historian, then broke out extemporaneously and recited Abraham Lincoln’s entire Gettysburg Address.”
“The second shows how Carter studied intelligence reports about Sadat and Begin. So the last Sunday, the 13th day, we were close, but not quite there with an agreement. Prime Minister Begin said to the Carter, ‘Mr. President, I cannot, will not make any more compromises. I ask you to get a car to take me back to Washington. I’ve got an El Al plane already waiting for me at Andrews Air Force Base. I’m leaving. My bags are packed.’ Carter, realizing this failure after 13 days would totally undercut Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem, took a desperate personal touch. That is knowing the Begin had a great love for his eight grandchildren. He got the names of each of the eight and personally inscribed their names on photographs of Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David. He walked over to Begin’s cabin and hand delivered it, and saw Begin’s lips quiver and his eyes tear as he read each of their names signed by the president. He said, ‘Mr. President, I’ll make one last try.’ Almost 40 years later, that treaty is the center of Israeli security.”
HEARD THIS MORNING — Fred Kempe, President of the Atlantic Council, to MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski: The Camp David peace accords “was almost upset by a little girl at Camp David named Mika Brzezinski. I was reading the memoirs of her father (Zbigniew Brzezinski) over the weekend, and apparently, you were in a golf cart with Amy Carter, and you almost ran down the Israeli Prime Minister, and it was only the security guard of Amy Carter that avoided an international crisis at that point.” Picture of Mika in the golf cart at Camp David [Pic]
Kempe on what sets apart the Camp David Accords from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process: “I think three things set that apart, and they don’t exist right now. The first is you have Menachem Begin on the Israeli side, Anwar Sadat on the Egyptian side, and they were both strong leaders who wanted to get something done. In Benjamin Netanyahu [on the Israeli side] and Mahmoud Abbas, on the Palestinian side, you don’t have that. You had President Carter, who was willing to get deeply involved with details and come up with creative solutions during those 13 days in Camp David and elsewhere when things got blocked. And then the third thing, Menachem Begin was willing to give up territory. He was willing to give up the Sinai. He didn’t see any Biblical connection, any historical connection. So he wanted to hold on to West Bank, and the way to do that was giving up Sinai.”
Israeli-American Fatally Stabbed in the West Bank — by Felicia Schwartz: “The man, Ari Fuld, was a right-wing pro-Israel activist who had a following on social media. He was killed at a shopping mall near the Gush Etzion junction that has been the site of similar incidents in recent years. The junction and mall are frequented by both Israelis and Palestinians… “Ari Fuld was a passionate defender of Israel and an American patriot,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Twitter. “He represented the best of both countries and will be deeply missed.” [WSJ]
TRUMP’S BIG STICK ― The Trump administration’s most recent move to end funding of peace-building programs for Palestinians and Israelis drew a rare public rebuke from diplomats, Middle East experts, and Jewish groups alike. On Friday, USAID notified Congress that it would not issue the last $10 million payment of the $26 million that had already been budgeted in FY2017 for the Conflict Management and Mitigation Program. On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority’s representative to DC, Husam Zomlot, said the U.S. has revoked his and family’s visas and closed the PLO’s bank accounts in Washington, DC.
— “The closure of the PLO offices in Washington was shocking,” a Palestinian official told Israel Hayom. “We didn’t think Trump would go so far as to shut down the official Palestinian mission in the U.S.”
VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — US has no plan for Middle East peace, says senior Palestinian: “I don’t think they will ever introduce a plan,” [Saeb] Erekat said in Jericho. “The whole world is rejecting their ideas. They are already implementing their plan by changing the terms of reference.”[TheGuardian]
— In an interview with Ben Caspit, Erekat hinted Abbas will return the Palestinian Authority keys back to Israel in an upcoming speech at the end of the month. Erekat also recounted the conversations he had with Trump and Jared Kushner in 2017, blaming Israel and the Administration for the impasse in the Middle East peace process.
Aaron David Miller tweets: “Over a 20 year period under Rs and Ds, we did some really dumb things on Arab-Israeli peacemaking. But nothing — I mean nothing – comes close to the policies being pursued by the Trump Administration which are cruel, confused, and counterproductive for all sides.”
Jackson Diehl: “Apparently Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, real estate developers turned would-be Middle East peace brokers, believe squeezing the Palestinians will induce them to be more reasonable, like wayward subcontractors. Longtime veterans of Mideast diplomacy will tell you the opposite result is far more likely — but then, the pros are excluded from this initiative.” [WashPost]
INSIDE THE ADMIN — Fraying Ties With Trump Put Jim Mattis’s Fate in Doubt — by Helene Cooper: “Mr. Mattis has begun questioning the efficacy of Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal — a move that, again, was made against his advice. Mr. Mattis has told aides that he has yet to see any difference in Iran’s behavior since Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement between world powers and Tehran. Mr. Mattis famously was pushed out of his job as head of United States Central Command in 2013 because he was viewed as too much of a hawk on Iran policy during the Obama administration. But now, in the Trump administration, Mr. Mattis makes his arguments on Iran from the left of Mr. Bolton, Ms. Ricardel and the president himself.” [NYTimes]
Peter Beinart writes… “America Needs an Entirely New Foreign Policy for the Trump Age: On North Korea, Russia, and nato, Democrats in Congress sound a lot like the Never Trump hawks who once called them appeasers. But the more Washington Democrats echo GOP or ex-GOP hawks, the more they distance themselves from their party’s own base…”[TheAtlantic]
MIDTERMS — DCCC makes Perry Gershon race a top-tier contest — by David Schwartz: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday moved Democrat Perry Gershon’s bid to unseat Rep. Lee Zeldin to its top tier of targeted races. DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján cited Gershon’s fundraising, campaign infrastructure and “deep ties to the community he aims to serve” in a statement announcing the move to the “Red-to-Blue Program,” which includes 82 seats… “I’m happy to see the national party has come to understand the momentum we have and recognize it,” Gershon said Friday.” [Newsday]
PROFILE ― America’s anger paradox: Voters want the anger to stop but can’t stop being angry — by Greg Jaffe: “[Elissa] Slotkin’s race (for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District), which nonpartisan groups rate as a toss-up, is a view into perhaps the biggest paradox of the Trump era. Voters say they are tired of the anger and polarization emanating from Washington. They say they crave compromise. Yet these same voters view the rival party with disdain and frequently punish politicians for reaching across partisan lines. They want the anger to stop but can’t stop being angry… She knows that her ability to navigate this contradiction will determine whether she wins this November in a district that President Trump carried by seven percentage points. To prevail, Slotkin needs to peel off some Trump voters. These days that means she must do more than just convince them she’s the better candidate.”[WashPost]
MUELLER WATCH — ‘Senior Israel official’ mentioned in Paul Manafort court document by Special Counsel Robert Mueller: “Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought to turn what he termed “Obama jews” against former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko as part of his lobbying work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, according to a Friday indictment prosecutors filed in federal court… Prosecutors say he collaborated with an Israeli official to spread the story that Tymoshenko was allied with anti-Semitic causes to make the administration believe “the Jewish community will take this out on Obama on election day if he does nothing.” [BusinessInsider; NYT]
— “Manafort is cooperating, so I’m sure Mueller knows the name,” [Alan] Dershowitz said… “You don’t put a person’s name in an indictment unless they did something wrong,” he explained. “It was perfectly reasonable for an Israeli to be willing to hear information about potential anti-Semitism,” Dershowitz added… “The senior Israeli official probably didn’t know that Manafort was engaged in unregistered lobbying activities.” [Haaretz]
— “The indictment does not elaborate on the identity of the Israeli official. However, in October 2012, [Avigdor] Lieberman, who was then serving as the foreign minister, published a statement that was identical in nature to the statement contained in the indictment. Lieberman denied having any connection with the issue and maintains that he never spoke to Manafort or met with him.” [Ynet]
On Sunday, Lieberman called on Israel’s Justice Ministry to open a probe into the identity of the top official embroiled in the case of Paul Manafort.”[Haaretz]
Possible connection? The late Arthur Finkelstein, who had a longtime relationship with Manafort, also served as a political strategist to Lieberman, who ran in 2013 on a joint list with Netanyahu’s Likud. Finkelstein also advised Netanyahu in 1996 and 1999. Finklestein later worked with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after being recommended by Netanyahu.
** 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: Time Magazine Sold to Salesforce Founder Marc Benioff for $190 Million [WSJ; NYTimes] • Post-Moonves, Shari Redstone Faces a New Legal Threat: Her Father [VanityFair] • Roman Abramovich transfers $92M of property to ex [NYPost] • Amazon Go could be 200x bigger in a decade: Joe Sitt [TheRealDeal] • WeWork hosts a pitch night to stock its in-house stores [NewYorker]
MEDIA WATCH — Who’s Left Covering Brooklyn With the Big Newspapers in Retreat? —by Scott Nover: “[Liena] Zagare’s vantage point at bklyner puts her very much on the front lines of local-news reporting in Brooklyn… Zagare was born in the Latvian capital city of Riga, then under Soviet control, and studied at the London School of Economics before launching a career at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation. She met her husband, Ben Smith, now the editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, at a conference in Riga that he was covering and she was attending. They were both 22, and it was Smith’s third day reporting for The Baltic Times. Once they had relocated to New York a few years later, Smith encouraged her to start writing about her surroundings in the early days of blogging.” [TheAtlantic]
TALK OF THE TOWN — As Other Disloyal Democrats Suffer, Simcha Felder Perseveres — by Zoe Greenberg: “Across the state, Mr. Felder has been painted by his critics as a traitor and a turncoat, a rogue Democrat who sits with the Republicans, giving them a one-vote majority in the State Senate… Mr. Felder’s continued power in the State Senate may not last, if the Democrats manage to flip a Republican-held seat in the midterm elections… But in Brooklyn, his constituents did not seem to care what the governor, or anyone else for that matter, had to say about their local leader. As Josh Mehlman, chairman of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition said, “The community is solidly behind Simcha Felder.” [NYTimes]
Eight Decades of Ethnic Dilemmas: Iconic sociologist Nathan Glazer on the problems of group identity, affirmative action and Donald Trump — by Jason Willick: “Mr. Glazer is a critic of President Trump, but a temperate one… He believes anti-Semitism in the U.S. has been all but eliminated in his lifetime, and adds: “I don’t see it connected to Trump—if his daughter marries a Jew and converts, if his grandchildren are being raised as Jews and no one cares.” As for open racists and anti-Semites who describe themselves as “alt-right”: “I don’t think anybody in the alt-right these days is going to get elected.”
“Mr. Glazer thinks today’s campus activists are characterized by a “discomfort at discussion that looks seriously” at important social issues—just as the Berkeley revolts, in their later stages, ended up seeking to silence opposing ideas. Yet he thinks today’s student protesters are likely to be less successful than their 1960s predecessors in pushing society leftward. Perhaps instead they will put off sympathizers and thereby help produce more centrists like Mr. Glazer.” [WSJ]
Baptist pastor starts nonprofit to restore post-Holocaust cemeteries — by Vanessa Gera and Dmitry Vlasov: “For years now, [Steven] Reece, an ordained Southern Baptist minister from Texas, has been cleaning Jewish cemeteries and erecting memorial plaques at mass grave sites in Poland, and recently Ukraine…The 63-year-old American says cleaning up old cemeteries is his way, as a Christian, of honoring Holocaust victims while supporting the surviving Jewish communities here… Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said that initially, some were puzzled by Reece. “Steven is so unique, we’re not used to people like that,” he said. “But as soon as I met him I realized that he was the real thing,” Schudrich added.” [AP]
PHOTO — New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman posted a picture of him praying at the Western Wall on Instagram with a note marking the High Holy Days: “It’s a very special time of year for both Pats nation and Jewish people all over the world with both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I’m usually in such an active mode around this time but this year I’m being more reflective and grateful. I’m so blessed to have a loving family, an incredible daughter and amazing support from the best fans in the world. Remember to let the people you love know that you love them and always be grateful for what you have. שנה טובה.” [Pic]
REMEMBERING: Walter Mischel, psychologist who created ‘marshmallow test,’ dies at 88 — by Emily Langer: “Walter Mischel was born Feb. 22, 1930, to a Jewish family in Vienna. His home was not far from that of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. “Even as a young child I was aware of his presence,” Dr. Mischel once told the British Psychological Society, “and I suspect at some level I became quite interested in what makes people tick.” Dr. Mischel’s family enjoyed a comfortable life until the rise of Nazism. His father, a businessman who had suffered from polio, was made to limp through the streets without his cane. Dr. Mischel recalled being humiliated by members of the Hitler Youth who tread on his new shoes. The experience, he told the Guardian, planted in him a desire to understand “the enabling conditions that allow people to go from being victims to being victors.” [WashPost]
DESSERT — Federal Bureau of Prisons Preps for Yom Kippur in Wake of Hurricane Florence: “Some Jewish federal prisoners wanna keep things kosher for Yom Kippur … and the Federal Bureau of Prisons is accommodating, especially for facilities affected by Hurricane Florence… Jewish prisoners in all facilities around the country will have access to kosher food, but the $21,799 is specifically earmarked for prisons in the path of Florence.” [TMZ]
This chef’s looking to his roots to put a new twist on soul food — by Samantha Max: “Michael Twitty doesn’t cook the same macaroni and cheese his mom taught him to make. It’s loaded with cream cheese and sour cream, and anyone who’s eaten at a Kosher deli might say it tastes kind of like noodle kugel. The chef and author has adapted and transformed a lot of the foods he grew up cooking with his mother and grandmother in the D.C. suburbs, blending together his African-American and Southern roots with his Jewish identity to create cuisine as rich in tradition as it is in taste.” [Macon]
BIRTHDAYS: Founder and marketer of the Oreck Corporation, manufacturers of vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, David Irving Oreck(family name was originally Oreckovsky) turns 95… Newberry award winning author of many young adult books, some with Jewish themes, Gail CarsonLevine turns 71… Rochester attorney, he served as the Executive Director of the philanthropic leadership group at UJA-Federation of NYC (2001-2003) and was a board member of the Rochester Jewish Federation, Frank Hagelbergturns 70… Professional tennis player who achieved a world ranking of No. 5 in 1980, Harold Solomon turns 66… Comedian, writer and actress, frequent guest of Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, Rita Rudner turns 65… Israeli businessman and former IAF pilot, with real estate holdings in Israel and NYC, he is the founder and chairman of NYC-based Alto Real Estate Funds and chair of the Israel Advertising Federation, Mody Kidon turns 64…
Glasgow-born, senior rabbi of Masorti Judaism in the UK, rabbi of the New North London Synagogue with approximately 2,400 members, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg turns 61… Professor of Economics at Princeton, formerly Assistant Treasury Secretary and then chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger turns 58… Washington columnist for the British daily newspaper, The Guardian, author of two books on the Obama presidency, he was an EVP and executive editor of MSNBC’s website, Richard Wolffe turns 50… Former regional communications director and spokesperson for President Obama, now at Blue Engine Message & Media, Adam Abrams turns 37…