Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Daily Kickoff – Nov. 15

IAEA Report – Iran putting brakes on nuclear expansion under Rouhani: “Since Hassan Rouhani became president, Iran has stopped expanding its uranium enrichment capacity, a U.N. inspection report showed on Thursday, in a potential boost for diplomacy to end Tehran’s nuclear dispute with the West. The quarterly report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said that since August no further major components had been added to a potential plutonium-producing reactor that worries the United States and its allies.” [Reuters]

Netanyahu unimpressed by reports Iran stops expanding nuclear capacity: “I am not impressed with reports that we hear that Iran has not expanded its nuclear facilities and the reason for that is they don’t need to. They’ve got enough facilities, enough centrifuges to develop and to complete the fissile material which is at the core of an atomic bomb,” Netanyahu said. [Reuters]

Obama Calls for Patience in Iran Talks: “President Obama made a vigorous appeal to Congress on Thursday to give breathing space to his efforts to forge a nuclear deal with Iran, and the prospects for an interim agreement may have improved with the release of a report by international inspectors who said that for the first time in years, they saw evidence that the Iranians have put the brakes on their nuclear expansion.” [NYTimes]

Sen. David Vitter amendment could delay Iran sanctions: “In his quest to keep Congress from enacting new sanctions on Iran, President Barack Obama may have found an unlikely ally: Sen. David Vitter. The Louisiana Republican’s insistence that he receive a vote on his Obamacare amendment on pharmaceutical safety legislation looks likely to have the unintended consequence of delaying until December votes on the defense authorization bill. That includes amendments desired by some senators to impose harsher sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program.” [Politico]

Eli Lake, Josh Rogin – Inside Obama’s Iran Sanctions Strategy – Obama believes he’s near a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program—and is willing to offer up to $10 billion in sanctions relief. But Israel and Congress think he’s giving away much more. “Three sources briefed by the Obama administration this week on the talks between Iran, the United States and five other great powers, say that U.S. estimates on the value of special exemptions to allow Iran to sell and ship some of its oil and other exports would result in no more than $10 billion worth of sanctions relief. The Israelis have said the value of the sanctions relief is more than the Obama administration has been claiming. On Wednesday, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters that the sanctions relief package being offered to Iran would provide Tehran with $15 to $20 billion of direct relief and that proposed enforcement easing would make the total value of the deal around $40 billion for the Iranians. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki Wednesday disputed those figures, saying: “Without going into specifics about what we’re considering, that number, I can assure you, is inaccurate, exaggerated, and not based in reality.” Nonetheless, the Israelis and other critics of the proposed sanctions relief say there is a risk that any loosening of pressure on Iran before it begins dismantling its nuclear program could encourage countries, banks, and other institutions to skirt existing sanctions and offer Iran’s isolated and pressured economy a life line.” [Daily Beast]

Politico Magazine – Joe Lieberman, Mark Wallace, & Fran Townsend OpEd – How to Stare Down Iran: “We appeal to Congress to enter this debate now, and state what it deems to be an acceptable agreement with Iran. Given the historic consequence of rapprochement with Iran and the impact of a potential nuclear agreement, it is vitally important that the United States speak with a united voice. Congress should also be clear about its intentions when it comes to easing or strengthening sanctions. The sanctions framework is what brought Iran to the table in the first place; it is working, but fragile, and its various components are interdependent. If current sanctions law is even partially unwound on an interim basis, the effects on the overall sanctions regime will be far-reaching and potentially crippling.” [PoliticoMag]

Shelley Berkley – Deal in works with Iran much worse than imaginable: [Las Vegas Review Journal]

John Kerry: U.S. ‘100 percent’ with Israel: Facing growing congressional skepticism, Secretary of State John Kerry made reassurances Thursday that the United States is firmly allied with Israel in its negotiations with Iran. “What’s important here is we stand with Israel firmly — 100 percent,” Kerry said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There’s no distance between us about the danger of [Iran’s nuclear] program and the endgame for us is exactly the same.” [Politico]

Senior Israeli Minister: Kerry no longer an honest broker between Israel, Palestinians: “This is a direct confrontation with Kerry, not Obama,” said the senior minister. “The diplomatic talks are the secretary of state’s baby. His ideas are simply not connected to reality. He preaches to us and threatens us with a combination of a third intifada, international isolation and legitimizing unilateral Palestinian applications to UN-related organizations. This man is providing legitimacy to Palestinian behavior that deviates from the framework of our agreements. He is not an honest broker.” [Haaretz]

Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes interview with Channel2 Israel News focuses on Iran deal and US-Israel relations. Rhodes also expressed condolences on behalf of President Obama for the recent murder of an IDF soldier by a Palestinian terrorist. [Channel2]

Emergency Committee for Israel releases Youtube video – “Obama’s March To War” — Ending shows a nuclear explosion with Obama’s voice saying “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me” [YouTube]

Al-Monitor — Jordan rejects Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa mosque compound: “Jordanian-Israeli ties, always under pressure, could be heading for trouble if the Knesset approves a controversial bill to divide Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, allowing Jews to pray in the Muslim compound. The bill was drafted by Israeli Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan and was rejected by Arab Knesset members, who warned that if passed, the law could lead to the eruption of a third intifada.” [AlMonitor]

From USA, a Mystery Series Shot in Old Jerusalem: “USA is to announce a deal for the most expensive and ambitious drama the network has ever commissioned: “Dig,” an action series set (and shot) in Jerusalem and based in the world of archaeology. The network hopes it will be, in the words of Jeff Wachtel, the chief content officer for NBCUniversal’s cable networks, “the big, buzz-worthy project” that USA has been looking for.” [NYTimes]

US Jews ask Washington not to return Jewish antiquities to Iraq: “US Secretary of StateJohn Kerry should “consult with representative bodies of Iraq’s expatriate Jewish community and officials before any further decision is made,” Robert G. Sugarman and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said. In a statement released to the press and signed by more than 40 American Jewish groups, the conference declared that American Jewry calls upon the US government to “assure that the Iraqi Jewish Archives currently in Washington, DC, would be protected, and continue to be accessible to Iraqi Jewish communities around the world.” [JPost]

Back from Israel, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter talks about effort to save Philly consulate: “Back in City Hall after a 10-day trade mission to the United Kingdom and Israel, Mayor Nutter said he personally urged Israeli President Shimon Peres to help stop the closure of the country’s consulate in Philly. “He understood the message that I was delivering, that I am absolutely 1,000 percent opposed to the closure of that office. He recognized the importance of that office and said he would do all that he could in communicating with the foreign minister about the importance of the Philadelphia office,” Nutter said.” [Philly]

New York City Jews offer advice to new Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio: Benjamin Brafman, Ben Smith, George Klein, Seth Pinsky, Jane Eisner, Donald Rubin, Jordan Roth, & Ruth Messinger: [JewishInsider]

Commentary Magazine OpEd – To Fight Assimilation, Stop Dumbing Down Judaism: “The good news is that, given a chance, Judaism can easily compete with the best secular thought has to offer. There’s a reason why Jewish sources have inspired some of the greatest non-Jewish writers and thinkers throughout the ages–including many of the 17th-century political theorists who laid the foundations of modern democracy. As Herzl Institute President Yoram Hazony noted in a 2005 essay, “Hobbes was learned in Hebrew, and his magnum opus Leviathan devotes over three hundred pages to the political teachings of Scripture. Locke knew Hebrew as well, and the first of his Two Treatises on Government is devoted to biblical interpretation … [John Selden’s] 1635 treatise on the law of the sea, Mare Clausum—one of the founding texts of international law—argued for the concept of national sovereignty on both land and sea on the basis of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud.” In Israel, serious study of classic Jewish sources has exploded in recent years–not because secular Jews are becoming Orthodox, but because they’ve understood that these texts are their heritage, too. American Jews need to offer their children similar opportunities. For without being exposed to Judaism’s intellectual riches, they will never consider it worth a lifetime’s commitment.” [Commentary Magazine]

U.S. Investigates Anti-Semitism Claims at Pine Bush Schools: “The United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York has opened a civil rights investigation into allegations of anti-Semitic harassment of children in the Pine Bush Central School District.” [NYTimes]

Business Insider’s founder Henry Bloget opens up about his “colossal mistake” as a writer when he wrote about “Why Do People Hate Jews?” [PandoDaily]

Opponent Demands Grimm Apologize Over Nadler Remark: “A spat between Rep. Michael Grimm (R.-Staten Island) and Jerold Nadler (D-Manhattan) that has ranged from immigration to Verrazano Bridge tolls to a surprise shot by Grimm at Nadler’s weight is continuing with Grimm’s Democratic challenger demanding the Congressman apologize for the remark. After Nadler on Tuesday joined immigration activists urging Grimm to back a Senate-passed immigration reform bill, Grimm countered, somewhat confusingly, with a statement noting Nadler’s support for Verrazano tolls in a bid to tie that position to his likely Democratic foe, City Councilor Domenic Recchia. He then asked, not subtly: “Will Domenic Recchia carry the weight of his good friend Jerry Nadler and support his preposterous toll proposal?” A Nadler spokesman responded with a suggestion that Grimm replace “offensive, childish, and barely-veiled references to a colleague’s physical appearance,” with a coherent position on immigration reform.” [NY Daily News]

Insurer Charged With Theft From a Jewish Charity: “The owner of a Long Island insurance company has been charged with helping a longtime Jewish community leader loot more than $7 million from one of the city’s most influential social service organizations and pocketing at least $1 million himself, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.” [NYTimes]

Business Briefs

Jewish Investor Bruce Berkowitz’s Activist Campaign Against The U.S. Government Over Fannie And Freddie: “In his attempt to make a fortune off of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Berkowitz has given television interviews and filed a lawsuit against the federal government. Now, he is writing letters, issuing slide presentations and, of course, popping up on CNBC. Late on Wednesday, Berkowitz said he wanted Fairholme to lead a group that would buy insurance businesses from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in what he describes as a $52 billion buyout. Berkowitz’s Fairholme Funds scooped up preferred shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a face value of $3.5 billion at a massive discount and some common shares as well. His plan consists of contributing those shares as part of the proposed buyout. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been operating under government conservatorship since the financial crisis and paying nearly all of their profits to the federal government in the form of dividends. The two mortgage giants are close to paying back as much as the $187 billion they received in a taxpayer-funded bailout and still play a dominant role in the U.S. mortgage market by backing the vast majority of newly issued home loans.” [Forbes]

SAC Capital’s Steven Cohen Attended Chris Christie Election Night Party: “On Nov. 4, SAC Capital, the hedge fund run by billionaire Steven Cohen, agreed to pay the federal government the largest fine in the history insider-trading cases, $1.2 billion. SAC also pleaded guilty to criminal insider-trading charges. That next evening, Election Night, Cohen attended New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s re-election victory party. Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, is the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.” [ABC News]

Jewish StartUp – Cory Vines Activewear enjoys quiet success following Lululemon gaffe: “Cory Vines launched in April to great success, thanks in part to Lululemon’s gaffe and the inappropriate comments made by its founder Chris Wilson. The Montreal-based activewear company claims an impressive return rate of less than 1%. Daniel Lieberman left the corporate world of finance in June of 2012 and began to conceptualize the concept of Cory Vines. He wanted to create a brand around inspiration. As trees and nature have always been a source of inspiration for Lieberman, he adapted the name Kauri for his new activewear line. The Kauri is one of the largest trees in the world indigenous to Australia and New Zealand, which represents strength, stability, inspiration and motivation and the vines symbolize the spreading of the values. Because Kauri is sort of a “weird name”, Lieberman turned it into a person to make it more accessible. Cory Vines has had favorable feedback since its debut.” [Examiner]

StartUp Nation – Roojoom: A different kind of Web experience: Israeli startup Roojoom helps users to create, discover and consume their kind of content in guided tour fashion. [GeekTime]

Dessert – Jewish man inspires new viral video – Falling Asleep on Strangers Brings Smiles on NYC Subway [Mashable]

​Orthodox Jewish beatboxer Josh Leviton, aka the Orthobox, draws inspiration from his faith to deliver battle-ready beats: “His tall figure towers over the crowd as he leans over the mic and begins his set of beats. The first chunk of his set is a dubstep sound, the next part a cover of a popular song. He closes with a beat that involves a lot of crowd interaction. Junior aerospace engineering major Josh Leviton’s body sways to the music; his hands move to the beat. He doesn’t look like your average beat-boxer, sporting a pair of simple black pants and an untucked Oxford shirt. Religious tzitzit strings hang from his shirttail, swinging along to the rhythm, and a black velvet kippah sits atop his head. He looks like someone making his way to a synagogue, not a beat-boxing performance. What do you think? Leviton, also known as the Orthobox, has been beat boxing for about five years. He began practicing as a sophomore in high school and learned the skill by analyzing how other beat-boxers perform and by watching many YouTube tutorials.” [TheDiamondback]

Thats all folks, have a great Friday! 

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