Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Kickoff

Report – Iran is Said to Want Direct Talks With US on Nuclear Program: “Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq told the Obama administration this month that Iran was interested in direct talks with the United States on Iran’s nuclear program, and said that Iraq was prepared to facilitate the negotiations, Western officials said Thursday. In a meeting in early July with the American ambassador in Baghdad, Mr. Maliki suggested that he was relaying a message from Iranian officials and asserted that Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s incoming president, would be serious about any discussions with the United States, according to accounts of the meeting.” [NYTimes]

John Kerry’s Years of Quiet Diplomacy Helped Forge Path to Peace Talks by Eli Lake and Josh Rogin: “Next week’s potential relaunch of direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators represents the culmination of behind-the-scenes diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry that began nearly five years ago. Long before he was sworn in as America’s top diplomat in January, Kerry in 2009 began conducting his own quiet peace process from the Senate through meetings, late-night talks, personal visits, and phone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and other key leaders in the Middle East. Kerry conducted his shadow diplomacy even as President Obama’s Middle East peace initiative floundered.

To be sure, between 2009 and 2012 Kerry was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his contact with these leaders was part of the normal course of his legislative business. But the former Massachusetts senator used his access to Netanyahu and Abbas to test privately what concessions the leaders would be willing to make once he secured his dream job at the State Department, according to U.S. and Israeli diplomats familiar with the meetings and Senate staffers who worked with Kerry at the time. “He would sit with Abbas and Netanyahu, and he carried messages and received messages and conveyed different points,” said Dan Arbell, who served as Israel’s deputy chief of mission in Washington during that period. “But it seemed more of a sideshow rather than the main event at the time. Now it seems as though he was preparing himself in Obama’s first term for this moment now that he is secretary of State.” [The Daily Beast]

MEET ISRAEL’S TWO CHIEF NEGOTIATORS FOR PEACE TALKS: “When Israel sends representatives to Washington for the relaunch of long-dormant Middle East peace talks, the country’s delegation will be headed not by one but by two chief negotiators. That’s not the usual way that peace delegations do business. The Palestinian delegation, for example, will be led, as it was for many years earlier, by Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian Authority negotiator with years of experience in the peace process and the complete confidence of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas. The two-headed creature that forms the Israeli delegation reflects a different reality: Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister and a junior partner in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, was elected on a platform stressing the urgency of reaching a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. She agreed to join the coalition government only on the condition that she be given primary responsibility for advancing the peace process. Yitzhak Molcho, the other delegation head, is the longtime private attorney for the country’s more hawkish prime minister, Netanyahu. As the Israeli leader’s personal envoy, he is seen in part by some as a kind of minder for the more eager Livni.” [Forward]

PREDICTABLE – Arabs Harm Palestinians, World Yawns: “Ever since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s military has been wreaking havoc on the lives of Palestinians in Gaza. The 1.7 million residents of the Gaza Strip rely heavily on trade through a network of tunnels on the Egyptian border for their livelihood. But with the Muslim Brotherhood out of power, the Egyptian military has been happy to crack down on the tunnel trade and smother Gaza’s economy, depriving the Palestinians there of jobs and income. Many Palestinians in Gaza make a living by transporting goods like fuel, cement, and steel through the tunnels, a trade the Egyptian military is destroying. The closure of the tunnels has made goods less affordable, halted construction projects worth millions, and deprived the government of tax revenue. In a word, Egypt has the power to make life in Gaza unlivable, and they’re using it. We can’t help but think that if Israel made life miserable for Palestinians—intentionally and without compunction, as in Egypt’s case—the world would be up in arms. But when, as is frequently the case, Arabs are the direct cause of Palestinian suffering, no one seems to care. One thing some people in Europe might want to think about: If something fills you with rage when Jews do it, but doesn’t bother you at all when others do it, you might consider asking yourself why that is.” [The American Interest]

Get Jabari: Israel’s secret bid to nab the Hamas chief who oversaw Shalit’s capture: “The intelligence was accurate. The Gaza ambush was set. But on a fateful night in 2008, Ahmad al-Jabari evaded Israel’s elite forces. And he didn’t even know it.” [Times of Israel]

THERE IS NO DISTINCT HEZBOLLAH ‘MILITARY WING,’ SO WHY BAN IT? – by Matthew Levitt and Jonathan Prohov. [The Daily Beast]

AMAZON DEBUTS KINDLE INTERVIEWS WITH SHIMON PERES: “Amazon on Thursday unveiled a series of long-form interviews for the mini e-book section of its Kindle store, Kindle Singles. “The Kindle Singles Interview,” as the series is called, will be extended interviews with iconic figures and world leaders. The first interview, with Israeli President Shimon Peres, is available Thursday for 99 cents only on Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.” [CNET]

Israel21c leading a trip to Israel: “Israel 21c, a nonprofit news service with strong ties to the Bay Area, is sponsoring a trip to Israel in October during which “Israel 21c stories will come alive,” according toAmy Friedkin. Friedkin is the president of Israel 21c, and she and her husband, Mort, will be leading the trip. The Friedkins are San Francisco residents, and Israel 21c, which was founded in 2002 by two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, has an office in the city’s Financial District. Its reporters are stationed in Israel. The eight-day trip is scheduled to start Oct. 20, and there is an Aug. 25 deadline for sign-ups. The trip, billed as a chance to “go beyond the headlines,” will highlight cutting-edge innovations in science, technology and the arts, including  a visit to Waze headquarters, talks with journalists, lunch with the creator of the Israeli version of “Homeland” and a Segway tour of Jerusalem.” [J Weekly]


Google discloses it paid $966 million for Waze: “Google says that it paid $966 million to buy online mapping service Waze, six weeks after closing the deal. The Internet search leader spelled out the purchase price in regulatory documents filed Thursday. Google Inc. withheld the price last month when it announced the acquisition of the Israel-based startup. The Associated Press and other media outlets had previously pegged the purchase price at $1 billion, based on information from people familiar with the negotiations who didn’t want to be named.” [AP/Huffington Post]

Chinese-Israeli Electric Car Venture Partners With American Company: “Israel Corporation is not giving up on the electric car market, even as it continues to lick its wounds from the liquidation Better Place Inc. Qoros Auto Company Ltd., Israel Corp’s Chinese joint venture with Chery Automobile Co. Ltd., has signed a contract with American Axle Manufacturing Inc., which will supply its hybrid and electric driveline systems to the carmaker. Qoros will reportedly install AAM’s systems on the 2015 model of the Qoros 3 sedan, which will be manufactured in China for both the Chinese and European automotive markets.” [No Camels]


SITT BUYS IN PARIS: “New York property investor Joseph Sitt, founder of Thor Equities, is buying the 65-67 Avenue des Champs-Elysées building in Paris for €260 million ($343 million). The seller for the “trophy” retail, office and residential building is an unnamed Middle Eastern family, according to the Financial Times. The building is fully occupied with Nike and Tommy Hilfiger as retail tenants. Thor will finance the deal with investments from the European property group Meyer Bergman and funds from pension groups, wealthy individuals and universities. Other high-profile international retail purchases for Thor include the Burlington Arcade in London in partnership with Meyer Bergman for £104 million and the Takashimaya Building on New York’s Fifth Avenue for $142 million, both in 2010.” [World Property Channel]

City Of London and Australia’s Westfield Group Announce Indoor Ski Project: “London Mayor Boris Johnson said Australia’s Westfield Group will be making a planning application for the city’s first indoor ski center next to its Stratford shopping center at the Olympic Park by the end of the summer. Financial details weren’t revealed, although the Evening Standard said it will cost up to 200 million pounds. The ski center project — which will have a combined ski run of 800 meters and be about the same size as Ski Dubai in the United Arab Emirates — may be completed within two years by Westfield Group, the world’s biggest owner of shopping centers run by the Lowy family. The application is also set to include retail, hotel and restaurant facilities.” [Bloomberg]

SAC Capital Is Indicted, and Called a Magnet for Cheating: “Federal authorities, under fire for handling Wall Street with kid gloves, have delivered a crippling blow to one of its most successful firms, SAC Capital Advisors, whose outsize trading profits have drawn government scrutiny for more than a decade. Calling SAC “a veritable magnet of market cheaters,” federal prosecutors announced criminal charges against the hedge fund on Thursday, a rare move against a large company that could threaten its survival. The authorities argued that the firm and its units permitted a “systematic” insider trading scheme to unfold from 1999 to 2010, activity that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for the firm, owned by its founder, the billionaire stock picker Steven A. Cohen.” [NYTimes]


New Jersey Synagogue Raising Money To Keep 92 Year Old Skydiver on the Ground: “The sky’s no longer the limit for this New Jersey nonagenarian. In his heart of hearts, 92-year-old Aaron Rosloff would love to jump out of a plane again—never mind the fact that his last skydiving trip ended with a painful accident. But his family and friends at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick, N.J., are ready to do just about anything to thwart his pie-in-the-sky plans. Rosloff, a former World War II Army Air Corps plane mechanic, dove 8,000 feet to the ground celebrate his 90th birthday. He donated the $3,500 he raised through the jump to the South Brunswick Food Pantry. He upped the ante for his 91st birthday by diving 13,500 feet and raising $3,700—but broke his ankle while landing. By the time Rosloff announced that he was planning a repeat performance for his 92nd birthday, his rabbi had heard enough. “He told me, ‘I’ll give you $100 if you jump, but I’ll give you $200 if you don’t jump,’” Rosloff told The Daily News. “And that just took on a life of its own.”

To date, the “Stop Aaron” campaign has raised over $6,700—and the checks keep pouring in. “At first, I thought it was crazy,” the South Brunswick, N.J., man said. “I mean, who’s going to pay money for me not to jump? I guess it’s like that old saying, if you want to know who loves you, break a leg.” After the unexpected response, Rosloff said he’s decided to honor his supporters by putting off skydiving “in the immediate future.” But that doesn’t mean he won’t do it again. “I don’t feel like the risk is that great,” Rosloff said. “I’m more afraid of falling off my six-foot ladder.” As a young mechanic in the Air Corps, Rosloff said he would often ride in planes but never got the chance to jump out. And after he got out of the Army, his wife Milie Rosloff kept his feet firmly planted on the ground. When Milie’s health began to deteriorate, Aaron started getting up at 7 a.m. to exercise. “I thought to myself, if I’m going to be taking care of her, I have to start taking care of myself,” Aaron said.

Milie died eight years ago, but Aaron hasn’t stopped keeping his body active. He works out at least half an hour every day, doing 15 to 20 deep toe bends, 15 jumping jacks, and 40 to 50 military pushups. “I think it’s been an important factor in keeping me well and strong,” he said. Rosloff has kept his mind active by staying involved at Congregation B’nai Tikvah. He’s also on the board of the South Brunswick Community Development Corporation, an organization that helps provide low income senior housing to residents of South Brunswick. So when the opportunity came to jump, Rosloff was ready to take it up immediately. Now, he’s hooked on seeing the world from above. The experience of plummeting through the sky is one that Rosloff says is “unbelievable.” “When you’re on a commercial plane and you look out the window, it’s like riding a local bus,” Rosloff said. “But when you’re skydiving, there’s no coverage around you. You can see the horizon in every direction and you see that the earth is really a ball.” “There’s nothing holding you back except the wind in your ears.” [New York Daily News] [Video]

NEW FILM – The Knight Who Saved 700 Jews: “Nicky’s Family, a new film by Slovak director Matej Mináč, tells the story of a 20th-century hero you probably don’t know, but should: A British stockbroker named Nicholas Winton who rescued nearly 700 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Sudetenland. Through means ranging from straightforward to ingenious (including romancing a suspected Nazi agent), Winton, who was stirred by an encounter with Czech refugees in 1938, found foster homes for Czech Jewish children in England, the only country willing to accept them.

But Winton’s story was unknown even to his own family until 1988, when his wife found a scrapbook full of names and photos of the children he’d saved. She helped arrange a moving reunion on the popular BBC television show “That’s Life,” in which an unsuspecting Winton was introduced to some of the grateful (now adult) children. Nicky’s Family uses interviews, reenactments, and documentary footage to tell Winton’s story, and is narrated by Canadian TV journalist (and rescued child) Joe Schlesinger. Descendants of the rescued children number an estimated 5,700. One of his fans calls Sir Nicholas, who was knighted in 2002, the “head of the biggest family in the world.” [Jewniverse]

Thats all folks, have a great Friday! 

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