Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Kickoff

Kerry Tells US Jewish Leaders He Fears for Israel’s Future If No Peace Deal: “Secretary of State John Kerry and an elite US diplomatic team met with a small group of American Jewish leaders at the White House Thursday night to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that resumed last month. Kerry told the fewer than two-dozen representatives of Jewish organizations that he really believes that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas realize that there is a strategic imperative to act now. He noted that Israel faces the threat of diplomatic isolation and a demographic clock.

“The Jewish leadership was a virtual who’s who of the American Jewish community, representing a broad political spectrum, including representatives from the Orthodox Union as well as J Street, and including leaders such as the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and the Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein. This meeting was a soft sell for most attendees, without Kerry pressing them to take the message of support for peace talks home to their respective communities. The hard sell — a more organized push to market the peace talks to centrist US Jews — is anticipated to come later in August, in the run-up to Rosh Hashanah.” [ToI]

Conference of Presidents to honor past leaders: “The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group representing various players in organized American Judaism, will “celebrate five decades of leadership and achievement” by its eight most recent past chairman at an upcoming gala dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Melvin Salberg, Amb. Ronald S. Lauder, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, James S. Tisch, Harold Tanner, Alan Solow, Richard B. Stone, and the late June Walker are all to be honored for their leadership, which “helped shape the course of Jewish history,” the Conference of Presidents announced. Also to be honored is Malcolm Hoenlein, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, who has lead the organization for a quarter century.” [JPost]

Washington Post – Israel’s ultra-Orthodox headed to the army: “The specter of ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys donning green Israel Defense Forces chinos and toting TAR-21 assault rifles is exactly what mainstream Israelis are demanding — and what leaders of “the Torah world” dread.” [Washington Post]

Israel asks Congress to be included in sequester cuts: “The Israeli position is, as I understand it, ‘We don’t want to be in the position if there is a percentage reduction that we will not be affected in the same way’,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, said in an interview Thursday from Israel, where he is leading a delegation. “At the same time that we’re reducing expenditures, others might say ‘We’re being hurt, Israel is being treated differently.’” Michael Oren, the Israel ambassador to Washington, confirmed the request. “The American people are bearing the burden of sequestration and we will bear that burden with them,” he said. Hoyer said the sequester was adversely affecting the U.S. defense posture. “It’s going to have adverse effects not only on Iron Dome but on America’s own national defense investments,” he said.” [JTA]

Mark Zuckerberg immigration group defends Paul Ryan: According to Politico, the arm of the Mark Zuckerberg-backed immigration reform group FWD.us that focuses on conservatives is going on air in Milwaukee with a pro-reform spot defending Rep. Paul Ryan. Politico does not mention though that Ryan’s top advisor in the 2012 race, Dan Senor, is also a top advisor for Zuckerberg’s FWD.us.

Gov. Cuomo got $100,000 from developer, then signed law giving it big tax breaks: “A top development company donated $100,000 to Gov. Cuomo just days before he signed a bill that quietly showered the firm with lucrative tax breaks. Two corporations tied to Extell Development each contributed $50,000 to Cuomo’s campaign, which recorded the checks on Jan. 28 — the same day the Assembly passed a housing bill that contained tax breaks for five developers, including Extell, records show. Cuomo signed the legislation two days later.

“The twin $50,000 donations were made by Elco Master LLC and 134 W 58 LLC. Each listed the same Louisville, Ky., address of Extell Financial Services, which is part of Extell Development. It was the first time either company contributed to Cuomo, state records show. And less than three weeks after the bill became law, Extell President Gary Barnett donated $100,000 to a state Democratic Party account that Cuomo was tapping to finance ads pushing his agenda. Records dating to 1999 show it was the only time he gave to the state party.

“The Daily News first disclosed the tax breaks for the five developers in June. At the time, the sponsors couldn’t say who picked the projects for special treatment. The benefit for Extell’s 57th St. luxury apartment tower is projected to cost the city $35 million over 10 years. Extell and the other four companies who benefited from the legislation have been subpoenaed by a special commission created by Cuomo to investigate corruption in state government. The commission is looking at circumstances surrounding the bill’s passage. Extell wouldn’t comment on the specific donations. The company said it supports pro-economic candidates and has given to Cuomo and the state Democratic Party in the past. “At no time has there ever been any kind of quid pro quo for our contributions,” an Extell rep said.” [New York Daily News]

Thor Makes Second Bid for Control of Empire State Building: “One of New York City’s largest landlords, Thor Equities LLC, made a second offer to buy control of the iconic Empire State Building, hoping to trump a plan to roll the property into a trust, according to people involved in the negotiations. Thor made an undisclosed all-cash offer to buy Empire State Building Associates LLC, which owns the land and has the master lease on the historic tower, according broker Jason Meister of Avison Young, representing Thor. It also bid for the Helmsley Trust’s 63.8 percent interest in Empire State Building Co LLC, the company that has the sublease on the building giving it effective control of the property until 2076. The two offers are independent of each other.

“The offers, the second from Thor in less than two months, are the latest salvo in a complicated long-running battle for control of the building involving dissident shareholders and some of New York’s biggest real estate owners. The 102-storey central Manhattan skyscraper completed in 1931 has been appraised at $2.53 billion, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The skyscraper and its investors are managed by Malkin Holdings LLC, which spearheaded a plan to roll up the iconic building into a real estate investment trust, called Empire State Realty Trust Inc, containing more than 18 properties.

“The sale would be an alternative to the REIT, which already has the approval of most of the investors in the building. More than 80 percent of the investors would have to approve any sale. Thor’s latest offer is significantly higher than the exchange value of $1.83 billion that it is estimated investors would receive under the trust proposal. Meister said in a conference call with some of the buildings’ 2,800 investors that the new offer would also allow them to stay in the deal. Thor in June submitted a bid of more than $2.1 billion for both companies, joining two other potential offers in the same ballpark.” [Chicago Tribune]

Dozens Protest Planned Development Along Gowanus Canal: “Decades of pollution left the Gowanus Canal toxic. The federal government designated it a superfund cleanup site. Developer Lightstone Group believes its planned 700 unit residential buildings are environmentally friendly, and that some of the associated construction will actually help clean the water. More than a dozen residents, though gathered on the bridge over the canal Thursday expressing their concern to mayoral candidate William Thompson.

“We’re very concerned about what we see as a very wrongheaded, ill-conceived design,” said Warren Cohen of Save Gowanus. Many are worried the development will make flooding in their neighborhood worse during storms. “It’s safe for them,” Cohen said. “They stay dry. We get wet, and unfortunately, we get wet with toxic water.” The developer counters that any increase to tidal elevation wouldn’t change a thing. The buildings would rise on First Street between Bond Street and the canal. Residents say the site is an eyesore now, and it hasn’t gotten any better. They say the 140 affordable housing units included in the project are needed in this neighborhood. “It’s the beginning of cleaning up the Gowanus Canal and getting the area so we’re not embarrassed by it,” said Buddy Scotto, who supports the project.

“Lightstone Group says it already started asbestos removal and plans to begin demolition next week. The project includes a two-block landscaped public esplanade. The developer believes it will help remove pollutants from storm water draining into the canal. Thompson said he’s opposed to the plan as it stands now, but it’s unclear how to stop it. The city planning commission has already approved it, and while waterfront use approval is needed, the developer does not feel that will be a problem.” [NY1]

David Beckham might buy South Beach’s Versace Mansion from Nakash family: “Soccer icon David Beckham and wife Victoria are “eyeballing” the Versace mansion in South Beach as he works to launch a local soccer team. Now Magazine of the United Kingdom is reporting that the Beckhams might make a run at Casa Casuarina, which is set for a Sept. 17 bankruptcy auction. The house, which once belonged to fashion designer Gianni Versace, is in a tug of war between the current mortgage holder, the Nakash family of Jordache Jeans fame and Peter Loftin, who has a controlling interest in the property. Bidding for the auction starts at $25 million. Preparing for sale, the owners of the former Versace mansion recently got a new $40 million insurance policy.” [South Florida Business Journal]

Adler Kawa buys Carmel Executive Park for $25M: “Adler Kawa Real Estate Advisors, a joint venture between real estate firm Adler Group and investment firm Kawa Capital Management, has purchased Carmel Executive Park in southeast Charlotte for $25.45 million.” [Charlotte Business Journal]

STARTUP NATION – GetTaxi launches in New York, will have to prove its weight in cheap reliable taxis: “Israel-based GetTaxi today has officially launched in New York, and is also announcing a $12 million Series C round of funding led by Kreos Capital. Launched in Israel in 2010, GetTaxi is available in 4 countries and 20 cities around the world. It teams up with already established fleets of cars in each city that don’t have mobile hailing systems, and vets them to make sure each service and driver is licensed and insured to GetTaxi’s (supposedly rigorous) standards.” [PandoDaily]


WSJ – Hasidic Jew hit with paintballs in NY suburb: “Three people have been charged with hate crimes after a Hasidic Jewish man was hit with paintballs fired from a passing car in a New York City suburb. The victim said someone in the car shouted an expletive about Jews. Ramapo town police say the victim and a friend were leaning against the friend’s vehicle Wednesday night in the Hasidic community of Kaser. They told police a man fired at them from the front passenger seat of the passing car. The victim was hit at least twice in the abdomen with paintballs and suffered a minor injury. Police said members of a community patrol group cornered the suspects and their vehicle. Police say three people in their 20s face assault as a hate crime and other charges.” [Wall Street Journal]

The Telegraph – Ban on candles ‘has cost seaside town £100K’ as Hasidic Jews go elsewhere: “For 20 years, more than a thousand Hasidic Jews have taken their summer break in the seaside resort of Aberystwyth, where they rented student village accommodation for two weeks. But Aberystwyth University said this year that lit candles were banned in the houses on health and safety grounds following “more than one incident” involving the group. As lighting candles is part of the weekly Shabbat tradition in the Jewish religion, most of the holidaymakers are now taking their break at other destinations with university accommodation. Myer Rothfeld, a senior member of the Hasidic community, told the Cambrian News: “The people of this area are very respectful and we hold them in great esteem and love coming here. “We’ve tried everything possible to get round it, offering to supply our own fire insurance, to use lanterns or even to put the candles on sand, but they keep saying ‘no’.

“It’s once a week for two hours and we’ve had one incident in 20 years, while the fire service are called out hundreds of times each year to halls for incidents or false alarms. “The university and the town will have lost out on over £100,000 from us not being able to come now.” The university has said that the use of candles and naked flames in all its residences is prohibited, a rule that is set out in the terms and conditions all visitors must sign and abide to during their stay. A spokesman said: “The university maintains its position that we would be delighted to welcome the Orthodox Jewish community to Aberystwyth for their holiday visit. “Alternative options continue to be considered by both parties in a productive and positive manner.” [Telegraph]

Gothamist – Inside A Unique Yiddish Farm Thriving 50 Miles From Manhattan: [Gothamist]

DESSERT – Video: Supercut of a Bunch of Rappers, Shouting Out Their Jewish Lawyers [Complex]

Drake gets invited to lots of Shabbat dinners: “In addition to releasing a new song and organizing an impressive rap festival in Toronto, the Canadian Jewish rapper Drake is also currently on the cover of XXL’s 150th and 16th anniversary issue. In the accompanying Q&A he talked about his success. “I get Jewish people coming up to me proud like, ‘Mazel Tov, bro. Come to my house for Shabbat dinner.’” No word on whether he’s accepted any offers.” [JTA]

Thats all folks, have a great Friday! 

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