Daily Kickoff: Bradley Tusk dishes on Schumer’s craving for press and Bloomberg’s campaigns | Putting the Talmud online | Gordon Ramsay in Jerusalem


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TALK OF OUR NATION — The quest to put the Talmud online — by Noah Smith: “When Joshua Foer, author of “Moonwalking With Einstein” and creator of the travel website Atlas Obscura, sat down one day to find a modern, complete English translation online of the Talmud, or Jewish Oral Law, he came up mostly empty, save for some pirated PDFs and a host of anti-Semitic sites. Frustrated, he called a friend he had met a decade earlier on a trip to Israel, Brett Lockspeiser, an engineer who had worked at Google, to see what he thought about putting English translations of the Talmud and other foundational texts of Judaism in one place online that anyone could access free.”

“I saw a really historic opportunity to do something huge,” Foer said in a phone interview… Last year, after years of work and negotiations, Foer and Lockspeiser finally succeeded in their quest. Through a nonprofit they created called Sefaria, the men are bringing the Talmud online in modern English, and free of charge.” [WashPost]

HOLIDAY HEADLINE — Canadian who moved to Israel invents ‘Airbnb for sukkahs’ [CJNews]

Jewish-American Journalist Thomas Friedman — There’s a Crisis Between U.S. Jewry and Israel: “Giving an example for the widening fissure he sees between Israel and the world’s second largest Jewish community, Friedman told [Makor Rishon] how his shul unanimously decided to stop its annual fundraising for Israel Bonds after the controversy surrounding the egalitarian prayer space in the Western Wall, which was meant to allow Jews from different streams of Judaism to pray in a mixed environment… “This wasn’t the rabbi’s decision, but ours,” Friedman said. “There was no resistance against it in the [shul] management.”

“Friedman said he supported the move because “If Israel doesn’t respect what we do in the diaspora, and our way of life, why should we raise money for it?” claiming that similar decisions were made in many other shuls across the U.S. “We weren’t the first and were very much not alone in that situation,” he said. Friedman insists, however, that he is not boycotting Israel, and noted he and his wife donated a scholarship to three Jewish Stanford students so they could visit it.” [Haaretz

ON SHELVES TODAY — Strategist and venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, who worked for Chuck Schumer, Michael Bloomberg, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, among others, is out with a new book titled The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics.

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Tusk reviewed his book on the Charlie Brennan show on KMOX ― On what led him to testify against his former boss Rod Blagojevich: “Blagojevich once asked me to extort Rahm Emanuel. who now is the mayor of Chicago, and Rahm’s brother, Ari Emanuel, who’s one of the biggest Hollywood legends out there, because Rod had promised Rahm $2 million for an athletic facility in Rahm’s district. Rahm was a congressman from Chicago at the time, and then said, ‘I’m not giving him this money until Rahm’s brother Ari holds the fundraiser for me.’ Obviously, you can’t connect a government grant with a personal political fundraiser. Rahm had called me to ask kind of what the holdup was. I asked Rod. Rod said, ‘Tell him I want my fundraiser,’ and luckily I realized I can’t do that. And so instead, I put a stop to it and reported it, and then had to testify to it in both corruption trials. But, clearly it was the right thing to do, otherwise, I’d be sitting with him in jail right now.”

Tusk on managing Bloomberg’s 2009 reelection campaign: “Anthony Weiner was actually our biggest competition in 2009 for mayor. This is before his scandals, so he could have won. I talk in the book about how we really had to just viciously knock him out of the race, and do all kinds of things. Like, for example, he used to play hockey every Tuesday night in Manhattan, and we knew eventually he’d be in goal one night when his peers were in Washington voting on something. So we hid a photographer in the stands every Tuesday night. And then finally one night, some vote came up in the House, people were voting, Anthony was busy playing hockey. We took a picture, gave it to The New York Post. Front page next day: ‘Puck Off.’ A lot of those things persuaded Anthony not to run against Mike.”

“And then this other piece in the book around 2016 and we really put together a campaign for Mike to run for President as an independent. He ultimately chose not to, and the book really gets into sort of how and why. Probably a mistake in retrospect, but to have a guy who has the kind of resources and credibility to at least seriously consider it and make it credible was a lot of fun. Sadly, he didn’t go for it, but people are now talking about 2020.”

On Schumer vs. Hillary: “Chuck Schumer’s known as the most media-hungry politician in America. And Chuck is one of these guys, if he was a running back, it’d be three yards and a cloud of dust, right? And, really kind of clawed his way from State Assembly of New York, to Congress, to the House of Representatives, to the Senate. And finally, he was in a place, as a senior senator from New York, where he could get as much attention as he wanted, which all works until the junior senator is also the most famous woman in the world. Hillary, of course, didn’t pay any of those dues. She just went from the White House, bought a house in New York, ran for Senate and won. We would have to do 50 press conferences to get as much attention as she would get by just taking the wrong elevator in the Senate building. And it drove [Schumer] crazy. A lot of my job became finding ways to screw with her, and really make her entry into the Senate difficult. And even though that had nothing to do with serving the people of New York and it had nothing to do with Chuck’s duties as Senator, he just was so jealous of her he couldn’t help it.” [KMOX]

Tusk on a possible Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on Axios’ Pro Rata podcast with Dan Primack: “I think the only real distinction between what you saw in 2016 and what you’re hearing now is the realization that the country at the moment is so partisan that, whereas an independent run in 2016 might have been feasible, it would be really tough in 2020. And I think that’s what he’s really been saying. Whether or not he chooses to run is still a totally open question.” [Axios

DRIVING THE WEEK — Trump to shift focus on weapons of mass destruction amid rift with allies over the Iran nuclear deal — by Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris: “The White House backed off a plan to devote the Security Council session to Iran, responding to protests from European officials, who feared that it would showcase divisions over the nuclear deal, which they continue to honor. Mr. Trump’s aides also worried that it could backfire on him by giving Iran’s leaders a platform to confront him. Now the meeting will be devoted to countering weapons of mass destruction.”

“Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, plans to attend the General Assembly, but Mr. Trump is not actively seeking a meeting with him, according to a senior administration official. That does not rule out the possibility that the two men could run into each other.”

“While the Europeans are relieved that Mr. Trump tweaked the agenda of the Security Council session to take the spotlight off Iran, they scheduled their own meeting for Monday during which foreign ministers from the other signatories to the deal — Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China and Iran — will pledge their fealty to it.” [NYTimes]

On Wednesday, Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, among other world leaders, the White House announced yesterday.

HEARD YESTERDAY — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in a press briefing: “What I can tell you is that this is the week we all wait for, where we can all put U.S. interests in the spotlight, make it a really big prominent thing with all the administration coming in. They are going to come and do their thing and we’re all going try to see if we can get some good peace and security agreements passed.” [Video]

“Haley said a large team of American officials, including Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top advisers, would roam the U.N. to tackle a host of issues, from non-proliferation to counter-narcotics and migration issues. [WSJ]

HAPPENING ON TUESDAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, and Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook are among featured speakers at the United Against Nuclear Iran annual summit held at the Westin Grand Central in Manhattan.

REPORT — IDF chief warns US steps could harm Israel, inflame West Bank: “IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot warned the Security-Cabinet at the beginning of the week that there is a more than moderate chance that a violent conflagration could erupt in the West Bank, adding that the US decision to choke the Palestinian Authority (PA) of financial funds is counterproductive for Israel and could inflame matters in the area…” [Ynet] • Avigdor Lieberman angered by leak of West Bank security warning [NG]

Netanyahu support for Trump on UNRWA exposes political-military divide — by Joshua Mitnick: “Every single Israeli government has permitted UNRWA to operate. When it is so enmeshed in Palestinian society, ordering an abrupt aid cut can lead to catastrophic consequences for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” says Peter Lerner, a reserve Israeli military spokesman who also was the spokesman for the army agency that liaises with UNRWA. “The instability risked by the UNRWA cut could require the IDF to mobilize more forces in the West Bank and create more friction with the civilian population,” Mr. Lerner says. “The military will have to deal with counter-terrorism, and it will divert focus from Israel’s biggest threats: Iran and Hezbollah.” [CSMonitor]

WAR OF WORDS — Hezbollah leader and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged harsh rhetoric over a possible conflict yesterday. In a speech, Hassan Nasrallah claimed Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring precise missiles have been proven ineffective. “I tell Israel no matter what it did to cut the route, it is over. It has already been achieved,” he said, adding that Hezbollah “now possesses precision missiles and non-precision and weapons capabilities.”

Netanyahu responded in kind later in the day: “I heard Hezbollah’s bravado. It came from the same person who said after 2006 [Second Lebanon War] that if he knew what Israel’s response would be to the kidnapping of our three soldiers, he would have thought to consider twice whether to do it. So today I suggest that he think not twice but twenty times because if he confronts us he will get a crushing blow that he cannot even imagine.”

MIDTERMS — GOP congressman jokes about Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped, by Abraham Lincoln — by Reis Thebault: “In his opening statements at an election debate Thursday, a South Carolina congressman kicked things off with a joke. “Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news on the Kavanaugh hearings?” Rep. Ralph Norman (R) asked the audience at a Kiwanis club in his district. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out saying she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.” The opening remark prompted scattered laughter inside the room, but Democratic observers — in South Carolina and elsewhere — didn’t find it funny.” [WashPost

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who recently came under firefor attending a fundraiser with an alleged Holocaust denier in July, this week endorsed an alt-right activist criticized for anti-Semitism, Mother Jones reported. Gracey Larrea-Van Der Mark, a candidate for a school board seat in Huntington Beach, California, attended an alt-right protest in 2017 against a meeting that she described as being run by “elderly Jewish people.” One of her YouTube channel playlists dubbed “Holocaust hoax?” includes half-a-dozen anti-Semitic videos.

— Rohrabacher’s Democratic challenger, Harley Rouda, in a statement: “Dana’s embrace of a school board candidate who professes bigoted ideas, who associates with white supremacists and anti-Semites, means Dana is embracing hate.”

DONOR CIRCUIT — Bill Maher gives $2 million to House and Senate Democratic super PACs — by Maggie Severns: “Comedian Bill Maher was among several wealthy backers of Democratic causes in August, donating $2 million to super PACs affiliated with House and Senate Democrats… Newsweb Corporation Chairman Fred Eychaner donated a total of $8 million to House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC, making him the biggest single donor to the groups in August. Billionaire financier George Soros donated a combined $2.8 million, and real estate broker George Marcus donated $2 million. Seth Klarman… also donated a combined $2 million to House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC in August. Maher also has some company from the Hollywood set: Director Steven Spielberg also donated a total of $400,000 to the groups.” [Politico]

Batya Ungar-Sargon writes… “How Trump Turned American Jews — And Their Money — Away From Israel: Of course, leaving the Republican Party is hardly leaving Israel. But it does mean that these billionaires will not be putting their money in what many view as the most pro-Israel administration the U.S. has seen in generations… And in an age when Senator Bernie Sanders is taking Israel to task over Gaza, presumptive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez won’t commit to a two-state solution, and newly elected congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is pushing for withdrawing aid, the Democratic party is increasingly willing to criticize the Israel government and hold it to account. It’s this party that American Jewish billionaires are flocking to and bringing their money — thanks to Trump.” [Forward]

Rashida Tlaib Isn’t Waiting Until She Gets to Congress to Help Other Women — by Celeste Katz: “First thing I did was—I wanted to go uplift other women, and I went to go help Ilhan,” Tlaib says of Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat whose Congressional primary win, which came a week after Tlaib’s, gives her a chance to be the first Somali American Muslim woman in the House. Of course, using her newfound star power to illuminate the campaigns of others isn’t just about shared religious faith for Tlaib, who grew up in Detroit as the eldest of 14—yes, 14—kids born to Palestinian immigrant parents. It’s about class. It’s about community.” [Glamour]

— Ilhan Omar, running to for Keith Ellison’s seat in Minnesota, was asked on The Intercept’s Deconstructed podcast whether on issues of foreign policy, on issues of war and peace, on issues of Middle East, Israel, “do you think you’re going to be forced to kind of moderate your lines and take a quieter…? Omar replied: “No, I am very clear about where my values are when it comes to the Middle East, when it comes to war, when it comes to, you know, the kind of foreign policy we should be engaging in.” [TheIntercept]

After Cynthia Nixon’s Loss, Working Families Party Ponders Its Next Step — by Jimmy Vielkind: “Rebecca Katz, an adviser to [Cynthia] Nixon, said the actor remained concerned about a mail advertisement sent by the New York State Democratic Committee that accused Ms. Nixon of being “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.” “Before the Democrats can truly be united, Governor Cuomo has to take responsibility for the mailer, say the accusations it contained were 100% false and apologize to Cynthia,” Ms. Katz said.” [WSJ]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Stephen Miller wins again: Haley, other foes excluded from immigration meeting — by Dan De Luce and Julia Ainsley: “Over the past several months, former officials and humanitarian organizations say, Miller restricted who would take part in the deliberations, while ensuring like-minded associates were in key positions at the State Department. Unlike last year’s deliberations on refugees, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and her office were excluded from the inter-agency discussions on the issue and did not attend last Friday’s meeting where the cap was set, even though her staff argued she should be included, current and former officials said.” [NBCNews]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Hackers Went after Disgraced GOP Fundraiser. Now He Is After Them — by David Kirkpatrick: “[Elliott] Broidy… is not going quietly. His lawyers said this week that, after more than 80 subpoenas and months of cyber-forensic analysis, they had managed to identify as many as 1,200 other individuals targeted by the same cyber criminals. The list of names the lawyers have compiled, they argue, will bolster Mr. Broidy’s case that the rulers of Qatar… had targeted him for his advocacy against them.” [NYTimes

MUELLER WATCH — Michael Cohen spoke to Mueller team for hours; asked about Russia, possible collusion, pardon — by George Stephanopoulos, Eliana Larramendia and James Hill: “Michael Cohen has participated over the last month in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours with investigators from the office of special counsel, Robert Mueller… The special counsel’s questioning of Cohen… has focused primarily on all aspects of Trump’s dealings with Russia… Investigators were also interested in knowing, the sources say, whether Trump or any of his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen.” [ABCNews

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STARTUP — Sneaker “stock market” co-founded by Dan Gilbert rockets to success — by Adam Finkel: “The roots of StockX began when Dan Gilbert, observant of his son’s interests, had the inkling of an idea to create a sneaker stock market. Gilbert asked serial entrepreneur Greg Schwartz of Bloomfield Hills to take the lead on this effort… Shortly after Gilbert brought Schwartz into the idea, they realized they needed more than just business, e-commerce and technology expertise. They needed an expert in the sneaker culture and they found that in Josh Luber, 40, who became a co-founder of the business and its CEO.” [TheJewishNews]

SPOTLIGHT — How An App Funded By Sheldon Adelson Is Covertly Influencing The Online Conversation About Israel — by Ishmael N. Daro: “The app was developed by the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, the Israeli university that hosted the “war room” in 2014, as well as by two American non-profits, the Israeli-American Council and the Maccabee Task Force. All three are supported financially by Sheldon Adelson… Act.IL has been promoted by the Israeli government, including on a website run by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs… The founder and CEO of Act.IL, Yarden Ben Yosef, is a former army intelligence officer who told the Forward last year that he is in regular contact with the country’s military and security establishment over the app’s content, and that Act.IL is largely staffed by former intelligence officers. Despite these links, however, both Act.IL and the Israeli government deny any formal relationship.” [BuzzFeed]

SPOTTED IN JERUSALEM — Celebrity chef and TV star Gordon Ramsay was spotted touring the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday. “First time in Jerusalem, and this place is crazy – crazy!” Ramsay said in his Instagram story. According to Ynet, Ramsay is in Jerusalem filming a campaign for the NICE software company which is headquartered in Ra’anana. [JPostVideo]

SPORTS BLINK — Israeli NASCAR driver hopes to show his country in a new light — by Joe Marusak: “Israeli NASCAR driver Alon Day hopes TV viewers get a new impression of his country when they tune in to Saturday’s Cup series race at Richmond Raceway. The 26-year-old Day will make his 2018 Cup series debut driving the BK Racing No. 23 Best Bully Sticks Toyota Camry in the Federated Auto Parts 400. He is the first NASCAR driver from Israel to compete in the Cup series, according to a news release from his sponsor.”[CharlotteObserver]

HEADLINE — Neighbors broke agreement, continued construction on Jewish holidays — by Priscilla DeGregory: “An Upper East Side man is suing his neighbors for not stopping construction during the Jewish holidays. Jacques Blinbaum claims in his Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit that he signed a contract in January with his neighbors — Hong Kong fashion exec Alfred K. T. Chan and Chan’s wife, Fiona Cibani — allowing them access to his property… As part of the agreement, the couple agreed to halt construction during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the suit says. But work continued on Sept. 10 and 11…” [NYPost]

REMEMBERING — Alan Abel, professional hoaxer and ‘20th-century court jester,’ dies at 94 — by Harrison Smith: “Mr. Abel, 94, died Sept. 14 at his home in Southbury, Conn. — nearly 40 years after he managed to fake his own death and get it printed in the New York Times… He worked as a concert drummer and percussionist before becoming a full-time hoax artist… Among his earliest hoaxes was a political campaign for one “Yetta Bronstein,” a fictitious Jewish homemaker from the Bronx who sought the presidency in 1964 and 1968. With the slogans “Put a mother in the White House” and “Vote for Yetta and things will get betta,” Bronstein — voiced by Mr. Abel’s wife and frequent collaborator, Jeanne Abel — ran on a platform that included replacing congressmen’s salaries with commissions and putting truth serum into the Senate water fountain.” [WashPost]

DESSERT — A Guide to the Sleeper Hits of the Jewish Deli — by Rachel Myerson: “So here’s a fun confession: my favorite Thursday night activity is to get high, dress up in my most modest ensemble, and gorge myself on cheap, stodgy Jewish food in Hasidic neighborhoods after dark. For those seeking a similar dose of sentimental nosh—or simply seeking nourishing, unpretentious eats, allow me to introduce you to the true stand-outs of the Ashkenazi kitchen that your deli probably doesn’t deliver — Cholent, Vorschmak, Holishkes, Potato Kugel and Yaptzik, P’tcha.” [Munchies]

A store that’s a Charlotte tradition is moving, and making other big changes too — by Kathleen Purvis: “Gleiberman’s Kosher Mart, a Charlotte institution for kosher meat and products, is moving to a new location with some more changes… Kosher Mart started on Independence Boulevard in 1990, the only full-service kosher market in the Carolinas.” [CharlotteObserver]

New deli Kosher Palate brings barbecue, sandwiches and more to Far North Dallas: “Looking for a place to score kosher barbecue and sandwiches? This new Dallas deli has you covered. Called Kosher Palate, the newcomer is located in Far North Dallas.” [Hoodline]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: One of the highest grossing Hollywood box office producers of all time, plus the producer of many commercially successful TV shows, Jerry Bruckheimer turns 75… Legal scholar whose White House position followed his 27 years at University of Chicago Law School and preceded his current post as professor at Harvard Law School, Cass Sunstein turns 64… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party since 2003, Yisrael Katz turns 63… One-half the renowned film-making team of the Coen Brothers, Ethan Jesse Coen turns 61… Attorney, author, conservative talk show host and president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, Mark R. Levin turns 61… Russian oligarch Leonid Nevzlin turns 59… Emmy Award-winning talk show host, actress and producer, Ricki Lake turns 50… Editor of Kveller, she was previously the managing editor of the Real Deal’s Luxury Listings magazine, Lisa Keys turns 42… Assistant Director at TAMID Group (organizes internships in Israel for American business students), Nathan Gilson turns 28… SVP at polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Anna Greenberg Ph.D… Mia Appelbaum… iCenter’s Scott Frankel

SATURDAY: Former Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, David Stern turns 76… Brooklyn-resident, Jay Kanter turns 73… President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (1992-2009), now a consultant at the LA-based Glazer Foundation, John Fishel turns 70… Nobel Prize laureate, astrophysicist and professor of physics at UC-Berkeley, Saul Perlmutter turns 59… Member of Knesset since 2003, has held multiple Israeli cabinet portfolios, and, until 2017, he was the chairman of the Labor party, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog turns 58… Director of development at the Los Angeles Conservancy, Elizabeth “Liz” Leshin turns 58… Managing director of Calico Real Estate and president of Community Veterinary Partners, both based in Philadelphia, he is a past trustee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Daniel Eisenstadt turns 49… Writer-at-large for The New York Times focused on the personalities in business, politics and media, she is the author of “Chasing Hillary,” Amy Chozick turns 40… Deputy editor of Tablet magazine and host of “Unorthodox,” its weekly podcast, Stephanie Taylor Butnick turns 31… Former Senior Writer at the Jewish Journal and Jewish Insider, now manager of scripted video content at Forward Publishing, Jared Sichel turns 29…

SUNDAY: President of Chanel, the French fashion house (1986-2004), he continues to be Chanel’s Vice Chairman of the Board, Arie L. Kopelmanturns 80… Business Manager for Los Angeles Cardiovascular Medical Group, Angela Maddahi turns 58… Vice chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, she is a Birmingham, Alabama resident, Sheryl W. Kimerling turns 57… Co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, Todd Ricketts turns 49… Former US Ambassador to the EU following a Supreme Court clerkship and a White House career, now a managing director at the Institute of International Finance, Kristen Silverberg turns 48… President of Santa Monica-based PR firm, Tower26, she was the director of communications for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti (2015-2017), Naomi Seligmanturns 46… Washington bureau reporter for The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt turns 35… Saber fencing champion, he represented the US at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Eli Dershwitz turns 23… Israeli ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled


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