Daily Kickoff: Jacob Ostreicher back in NY; Podhoretz storms off 92nd Street Y Panel on Israel; ASA Boycotts Israel; New Report on Jewish Voters

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In Dramatic Escape, Jacob Ostreicher Leaves Bolivia, Back in NY: “A source close to the family said that over the past few months, concern for Ostreicher’s welfare grew among those lobbying for his release, including Hikind, Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican whose constituents include Ostreicher’s daughter, and actor Sean Penn. The source said that there was an “organized effort” to get Ostreicher out of the country “by professionals.” That effort apparently took place this past weekend, when Ostreicher was seemingly abducted and taken to a neighboring unnamed country. From there he was flown to Los Angeles, and then home to New York.

–“The Bolivian government did not let him out, they didn’t release him,” the source said. “He had to get out on his own.” Ostreicher was arrested in 2011 while trying to salvage a rice-growing venture on suspicion of money laundering. But he was then jailed for 18 months without being charged, until a chorus of international activists, led by Penn, intervened and won him house arrest. After his arrest, thousands of tons of his rice were confiscated and sold. He was barred from leaving the country until the saga concludes. Even as virtually every official related to his prosecution — including prosecutors, government officials and judges — were arrested for corruption related to the case, he was still inexplicably denied release or a fair hearing.”[Hamodia] — Bolivian Jail, an Actor’s Help and Now a Return to New York [NYTimes] — State Dept: Businessman held by Bolivia is in US [WSJ]

Scene Last Night: John Podhoretz Storms Off Stage at 92nd Street Y Panel on “What it means to be pro-Israel?” – “According to moderator Jane Eisner’s account in the Jewish Daily Forward, Podhoretz had been “firmly, even aggressively, disagreeing” with Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, throughout the discussion on what it means to be “pro-Israel.” But he lost it when a member of the audience asked about the American Studies Association’s announcement Monday it would boycott Israeli academic institutions over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians (something Podhoretz sees as “disgusting” and anti-semitic). When Eisner tried to intervene in the discussion, according to her account, the editor said she was physically threatening him and stalked off. Eisner wrote that the panelists, who also included David Harris, executive director of American Jewish Committee, all agreed the ASA vote was “a hypocritical and ultimately counterproductive action.” But then Ben-Ami “segued into talking about Israeli government policies that, in his view, make it difficult for some Americans to believe Israel really does want peace with the Palestinians.” Podhoretz accused him of blaming the victim, and the crowd booed.”[NYMag]

When Ben Ami protested and some in the audience reacted with boos, a petulant Podhoretz snarled, “Why don’t you also hiss”? When the audience duly hissed, an increasingly agitated Podhoretz said: “I’m not going to be villain here.” And when Jane Eisner, editor of The Forward newspaper and the evening’s moderator, tried to regain control of the conversation and gestured with her hand, Podhoretz blustered “don’t put your hand up to me like that,” took off his microphone and walked off the stage, leaving the stunned panel of Eisner, Ben Ami and American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris scratching their heads in puzzlement.[Haaretz]

Differing Accounts — Jane Eisner: The Exodus at the 92 Street Y [Forward] — John Podhoretz responds: A Bad Night on 92nd Street [CommentaryMag]

U.S. scholars’ group backs call for academic boycott of Israel: “Members of the American Studies Association voted by a 2-to-1 margin to endorse a boycott resolution, which stems from a broader campaign to isolate Israel that has made little headway in the United States but has gained some traction in Europe.” [Reuters] — Amb. Ron Dermer: The decision by the ASA is shameful [Facebook] — Elliot Abrams: The un-American Studies Association [IsraelHayom] — Jeffrey Goldberg: Some Lessons in Effective Scapegoating [Bloomberg] — Jonathan Marks: The ASA Vote Against Israel and Academic Freedom [WSJ] — AAUP disappointed with ASA [AAUP Statement] — Must Watch: Lawrence Summers discusses ASA boycott resolution on the Charlie Rose show – “anti-Semitic in their effect, if not in their intent” [YouTube]

Israel is ‘genocidal,’ says UN’s Richard Falk in TV interview: He’s done it again: Richard Falk, whom the United Nations ranks as a top official, has accused Israel of targeting Palestinians with “genocidal intent.” [ToI]

Top Talker: Jacob Plitman – Hillel And Its Donors Repress Real Conversation About Israel: “At Hillels around the United States, some donors constrict the bounds of legitimate discourse on Israel and do a disservice to all of us who work to build the next generation of Jewish life. Hillel staff, caught between serving their students and keeping the lights on and the doors open, are vulnerable to some donors who seek to impose their political ideology over the interests and needs of students. There’s a lot at stake here. Not just for J Street U, but for all of us.”[JewishWeek]

Lebanon: Deadly Blast Targets Hezbollah – An unknown number of casualties have been reported after a car bomb exploded at a Hezbollah position near the town of Labweh in eastern Lebanon at dawn on Tuesday. [Al Arabiya] — Lebanese, Israeli officer meet to restore border calm: Senior Israeli, Lebanese and United Nations military officers met on Monday to defuse tension a day after a “rogue” Lebanese soldier shot dead an Israeli soldier on the border.”[Reuters]

State Visits: Kerry will be back in Israel this week, and some local Jerusalem residents are getting sick of his visits [RealJStreets] — China’s top diplomat due in Israel for rare high-level visit [JPost] — Inbound Trade Mission Cements Relationship Between Utah and Israel’s Infinidat [UtahPulse]

Palestinian official: U.S. pressing us to recognize Israel as Jewish state [Haaretz] — Hamas celebrates its 26th anniversary… in silence: “So Hamas seemingly prefers to protect its own image (and interests) by chalking up the glaring lack of an anniversary celebration to a new era of purported fiscal prudence. But given what we know about Hamas’s devastating financial woes, the forgoing of any large-scale celebration may have been inevitable.”[JewishInsider] — Russia, Egypt Ink $2B Weapons Deal [FreeBeacon]

New Report on Jewish Voters – Jewish Maps of the United States by Congressional Districts: “A new survey, titled “Jewish Maps of the United States by Congressional District,” shows that the American Jewish population is more heavily clustered than the overall population and also very geographically diverse. “There are 13 CDs with 100,000 or more Jews, nine in New York and two each in California and Florida—the three states with the highest total Jewish populations. In general, the most-Jewish CDs are in the northeastern states, California, Florida, and a few other large urban areas such as Chicago and Atlanta. The least-Jewish CDs are mostly in the rural parts of southern states.”

–Rep. Jerry Nadler represents the largest Jewish district in the United States. Rep. Nadler’s district, the 10th, includes New York City, Borough Park, and Bensonhurst – an area with 197,000 Jews, for an estimated 27.4 percent of the general population. The 11th district, led by Congressman Michael Grimm, contains the largest Jewish population that is represented by a Republican. According to the report, 129,000 Jews (18%) reside in that district. The survey’s release comes amid a competitive race between the incumbent and his Democratic challenger Dominic Recchia. The study was commissioned by the Berman Jewish Data Bank, a project of the Jewish Federation of North America.” [JewishInsider

Republican Jewish Coalition holds forum for GOP U.S. Senate candidates in Sioux City: “Five Republican U.S. Senate candidates who took part in a forum Monday in Sioux City said they support Israel and don’t want to lessen economic sanctions against Iran. They are among seven GOP hopefuls vying for the position held by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who has decided not to run for re-election in 2014. A June primary will determine the Republican nominee. U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley is the only declared Democrat seeking the office.”[SiouxCityJournal]

Mayor Bloomberg Launches Campaign-Style Legacy Tour: “Mayor Michael Bloomberg is preparing for his exit with a victory lap touting his accomplishments over the past 12 years. With only 15 days left until he leaves office, Mr. Bloomberg’s staff today announced a five-day, five-borough tour kicking off tomorrow “to highlight key Administration initiatives and success from throughout the last 12 years.” [Observer] — Orthodox Jew, and former Bloomberg Spokesman, Stu Loeser, on working for the Mayor [City&State

AP Big Story: Damaged Torah scrolls from Iraq buried in NY – “Torah scroll fragments found amid a trove of more than 2,700 books and documents in the flooded Iraqi intelligence building basement have been buried in a religious ceremony at a suburban New York cemetery.”[AP]

Judge orders kosher meals at state prisons: “A federal judge has ordered the Florida Department of Corrections to offer kosher meals to “all prisoners with a sincere religious basis for keeping kosher” by July 1.” [MiamiHerald]

Rabbi Shmuley: Hollywood’s War on Israel [Observer] — Harvey Weinstein back in at Miramax [NYPost]

Real Estate RoundUp: Super Bowl Sells Out for Tisch’s Loews Regency After $100 Million Revamp [Businessweek] — David Bistricer’s Clipper Equity kicks off DoBro rentals [RealDeal] — Frank Lowy’s Westfield Gains Rights to Lower Manhattan Subway Stores [Bloomberg] — Ratner Agrees To Sell Majority Stake in Atlantic Yards [BedStuyPatch] — Judge: Wilfs must pay more than $15M to cover attorneys’ fees of partners who sued them [NJ] — Jewish Fontainbleau Miami Beach owners get $535M refi [SoFoRealDeal] — Wilpon’s Regency Carts Site Goes Condo [Brownstoner]

Dessert: The Jewish Restaurant Without a Cash Register – “Masbia has served more than 400,000 meals since its founding. The food is kosher—the founders are Hasidic Jews, and the first store front opened in Boro Park, a primarily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood—but people of all creeds are welcome. Many of the volunteers preparing the food are patrons, who work a few hours and then take their meals with employees. But while volunteers help, private donations are what keep the doors open, making up much of the year’s $2 million operating budget.” Video [NationSwell]

Kosher London restaurant changing way world views Jewish cuisine: “Welcome to Restaurant 1701, which in October became one of a tiny handful of kosher eateries worldwide to be listed in the Michelin Guide. The achievement is magnified by the fact it has only been open since June.” [ToI]

Thats all folks, have a great Tuesday!

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