Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Daily Kickoff – Nov. 7

Driving the Day – Geneva2 Iran talks expected to get underway with Zariff-Ashton breakfast at 8am, followed by 11am plenary – (via @lrozen)

West Close to Temporary Nuclear Deal With Iran, Official Says: “On the eve of a new round of talks between world powers and Iran, a senior Obama administration official said Wednesday that the United States was prepared to offer Iran limited relief from economic sanctions if Tehran agreed to halt its nuclear program and reversed part of it. The official said that suspending Iran’s nuclear efforts, perhaps for six months, would give negotiators time to pursue a comprehensive agreement.

–“Put simply, what we’re looking for now is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran’s nuclear program from moving forward for the first time in decades and that potentially rolls part of it back,” the administration official told reporters on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic concerns. The official said that the details of such a step had already been discussed by international and Iranian officials and suggested that it might be agreed on as early as this week. It would likely include constraints on the level of Iran’s uranium enrichment, the country’s stockpiles of nuclear material and the abilities of its nuclear facilities, added the official, who declined to provide further details. It would also involve verification measures.” [NYTimes]

Israel preemptively rejects new Iran proposal: Israel is reportedly urging its Western allies to reject an expected proposal to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from crippling economic sanctions. [TOI]

Sen. Bob Corker Moves to Stop Obama from Lifting Iran Sanctions; by Josh Rogin: “On the eve of new nuclear negotiations with Iran, the top Republican senator on the Foreign Relations Committee is preparing legislation that would prevent President Obama from loosening sanctions on the Tehran regime. “We’ve crafted an amendment to freeze the administration in and make it so they are unable to reduce the sanctions unless certain things occur,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told The Daily Beast in an interview Wednesday. “They have the ability now to waive sanctions. But we’re very concerned that in their desire to make any deal that they may in fact do something that is very bad for our country.”

–Corker said that his new legislative language would freeze the administration’s ability to waive sanctions currently in place until or unless Iran agrees to large concessions on its nuclear and missile programs. The concessions Corker is demanding go way beyond the incremental deal being contemplated this week in Geneva, where Iran will meet with officials from the U.S. and the other countries in the P5+1 group, which includes Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany. The new legislation, if passed, could throw a wrench into the administration’s plans to use incremental confidence building measures, including some sanctions relief for Iran, as a means of continuing the nuclear negotiations into next year.” [DailyBeast]

Must Watch – As Iran and U.S. negotiate, Senator Menendez blasts unilateral sanctions relief: As long as Iran continues to enrich uranium the United States should not suspend its Iran sanctions, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. Video — [CNN]

WSJ — US-Iran Thaw Grew From Years: “The White House heralded President Barack Obama’s phone call with Iranian counterpart Hasan Rouhani earlier this fall as a foreign-policy milestone born of a rush of last-minute diplomacy. But the historic conversation was more intricately choreographed than previously disclosed. Top National Security Council officials began planting the seeds for such an exchange months earlier—holding a series of secret meetings and telephone calls and convening an assortment of Arab monarchs, Iranian exiles and former U.S. diplomats to clandestinely ferry messages between Washington and Tehran, according to current and former U.S., Middle Eastern and European officials briefed on the effort.” [Wall Street Journal]

Lee Smith – Why Gay Marriage Will Determine Whether Bibi Bombs Iran: “Bibi’s possible choice of a military option would be premised in part on the assumption that Israel enjoys a strong bedrock of support in the United States—not Jews, but Christian evangelicals. The problem with the assumption that Israel can rely on its Christian supporters—and the majority of Congress that is reliant on their votes—is that some younger evangelicals are now tilting against support for the Jewish state. Oddly, the issue that may decide whether Israel can count on the United States in the future is not President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, but the evangelical schism on the issue of gay marriage.” [TabletMag]

Ben Birnbaum in The New Republic – Avigdor Lieberman Is Back and Ready to Wreak Havoc: “In Israel, all eyes this morning were on a Jerusalem courtroom, where Avigdor Lieberman—Israel’s deposed foreign minister—was unanimously acquitted of the fraud and graft charges that forced him to resign in December (a verdict that ends a 17-year saga of investigations). The most immediate consequence of the news is clear: Lieberman will return to the foreign ministry within days. But the political and foreign-policy implications of his comeback are a little harder to read and will take weeks to sort out.” [TNR]

Elsewhere in the Cabinet – Karnit Flug, first female Bank of Israel chief, eyeing economic inequality: [JTA]

Outrage – Berlusconi says his kids feel like Jews persecuted by Hitler: “Silvio Berlusconi caused outrage in Italy’s Jewish community on Wednesday after the former prime minister said he and his children felt persecuted like Jews in Nazi Germany because of hounding by leftist magistrates.” [Reuters]

Suha Arafat claims Yasser was poisoned to death with polonium: [Reuters]

Israel’s Foreign Ministry dismisses Swiss team’s findings on Arafat’s death: [JPost]

Jeffrey Goldberg asks – Who Might Have Poisoned Yasser Arafat?: “I’m still trying to figure out exactly why Sharon — who was, of course, prime minister when Arafat died — would have wanted the Palestinian leader dead at the particular moment he died. (There are all kinds of reasonable theories, which I hope to visit later). But it should not be treated as news that Sharon wanted Arafat at dead, or that he tried, at different points, to kill him. Maybe this whole autopsy drama is a farce, and maybe Arafat did, in fact, die of natural causes. Maybe he was killed by someone else. Or maybe Sharon, who lamented to me his failure to kill Arafat, actually wound up succeeding.” [Bloomberg]

Former CIA Director, R. James Woolsey, Renews Call for Pollard’s Release: [JPost]

Huffington Post Planning Israel Website: “The Huffington Post is planning to launch an Israeli website, founding editor Roy Sekoff told Israel’s Channel 2 on Wednesday. Sekoff said that the move is part of HuffPost’s road map for opening foreign sites, sometimes creating them in local language. “With so much innovation in Israel, we had opportunities to work with many Israelis,” Sekoff added.” [Algemeiner]

Top Talker – BuzzFeed: Clinton Advisor Sid Blumenthal’s New Cause: His Son’s Anti-Israel Book – A veteran confidant of Hillary Clinton has waded into a bitter argument over the explosive topic of Israel, defending his son’s intensely anti-Israel book from a liberal critic. Sidney Blumenthal, a former New Yorker writer turned Clinton adviser from the White House to the 2008 campaign, has been waging an online campaign against Nation columnist Eric Alterman for negatively reviewing his son Max Blumenthal’s book, Goliath. The book was described by Alterman, himself a frequent critic of Israel, as “awful” and something that “could have been published by the Hamas Book-of-the-Month Club (if it existed).”

–Clinton Foundation officials refused to respond to questions of whether the elder Blumenthal is currently on a Clinton payroll. His son’s book has received little attention in the mainstream press but has proved extremely controversial in the corners of the Internet devoted to debate over Israel; its repeated comparisons of Israeli Jews to Nazis have particularly inflamed several commentators. The author is a prominent figure on the hard left of the Israel debate who has argued in the past that the “non-indigenous” population of Israelis should not remain in the country now known as Israel. The book was released under the Nation Books imprint and an excerpt of it ran in The Nation.” [BuzzFeed]

Trending: BDS Fail – “Some bright spark at Wadham College, Oxford University, noticed that a classmate had daubed their Apple Macbook in Palestinian flags emblazoned with the words, “Boycott Israeli Goods”. Instead of sitting there, quietly fuming or acknowledging the hypocrisy to themselves, they decided to do something about it. And so the below note came to be left on the Macbook. It reads: “Hi there! “Just thought you should know, the flash-storage inside this computer was designed and built by Anobit, an Israeli technology company! “If you don’t want it any more, please pass it to the desk behind you.” [Trending Central]

Sean Eldridge, husband of The New Republic editor, Chris Hughes, endorsed by J Street for Congress: “The PAC of the pro-Palestinian lobbying group J Street has announced its endorsement of Sean Eldridge, a 2014 House candidate. Eldridge is the husband of the inventor of the Facebook “like” button Chris Hughes, who recently bought the New Republic magazine. The New Republic was a staunch critic of J Street under its previous management. Its editor-in-chief Martin Peretz, wrote in late 2009 that J Street “was already seen in the public mind as a bunch of nut cases and very much anti-Israel in the very substantive sense.” [FreeBeacon]

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson hosted a fundraiser for Niger Innis, a potential challenger to Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev. [Las Vegas Review Journal]

Bill de Blasio Won NYC’s Mayoral Election Easily, but had a Narrow Margin Among Jewish Voters: “Bill de Blasio thrashed his Republican opponent Joe Lhota by about fifty points in New York City’s mayoral election Tuesday night, but achieved a much narrower majority (53 to 44 percent) among Jewish voters, according to exit polls. In fact, the Tribe was the Park Slope liberal’s worst religious bloc by far. The discrepancy might come as something of a surprise given that de Blasio ran as the clear progressive choice on one hand, and also enjoyed an extensive network of Orthodox Jewish operatives from his days as city councilman in Borough Park on the other. But his willingness to make vague promises on revisiting metzitzah b’peh, childcare vouchers, and other issues of concern to conservative Jewish leadership was apparently insufficient to compensate for an exotic profile as a postmodern change agent with a less-than-draconian approach to policing.

–“Our community is very concerned about safety and security,” says Leon Goldenberg, the Flatbush real estate scion and Orthodox community leader who backed de Blasio but was unsurprised at the weak showing in his neighborhood. Goldenberg credits Lhota with effectively stoking fear of a resurgence of David Dinkins-era anti-Semitic violence—another Crown Heights, essentially—under a de Blasio administration, as well as resentment of his tax plans that would soak the city’s wealthiest to universalize early childhood education and expand after-school programs (most Orthodox send their children to private yeshivas). “Believe it or not, this was a Dinkins election in that Jews were scared,” says David Luchins, a political scientist at Touro College in Manhattan. “Those commercials worked.” [TabletMag]

Michael Bloomberg’s post-mayoral day-job will be at Bloomberg View: “The outgoing three-term mayor of New York is planning to return to his namesake Bloomberg L.P. in a role that will see him primarily involved in its online opinion offering, Bloomberg View, Capital has learned. Sources familiar with the matter told Capital that Bloomberg, who founded the company in the early 80s and built it into a financial news and information titan, will both write for Bloomberg View and wrangle bold-faced guest contributors for the site, which launched in 2011 as an opinion supplement to Bloomberg L.P.’s flagship news service.” [Capital New York]

Transition – Tevi Troy: “HR Policy Association, representing the chief human resource officers of more than 350 of the largest private sector employers in the United States, announces the selection of Tevi Troy, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to lead the development of a health care initiative of the HR Policy Foundation. Dr. Troy has extensive White House and Capitol Hill experience.  During the George W. Bush Administration, he served as Deputy Assistant and then Acting Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and was the White House’s lead adviser on health care, labor, education, transportation, immigration, crime, veterans and welfare. Dr. Troy also served as the Policy Director for U.S. Senator John Ashcroft and as Senior Domestic Policy Adviser and Domestic Policy Director for the U.S. House Policy Committee.” [Drug Wonks]

Al Jazeera Watch – Reports: Al Jazeera Paying for Exiled Muslim Brotherhood Leaders’ Hotel Rooms: “Al Jazeera officials are keeping quiet following reports that the Qatari-owned news organization is funding hotel suites for the exiled senior leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.” [FreeBeacon]

Real Estate RoundUp

Mort Zuckerman’s Boston Properties wants to reel in Al Jazeera, Soros Fund: “Boston Properties is in talks to lease nearly 275,000 square feet of its new office tower on Eighth Avenue to two high-profile companies: Al Jazeera, the Middle Eastern news giant, and Soros Fund Management, the investment firm of billionaire George Soros. Al Jazeera wants up to 200,000 square feet at 250 West 55th Street; Soros is looking for 75,000 square feet at the top of the 38-story building.” [TheRealDeal]

Renderings Revealed For Extell’s New 57th Street Megatower: “For years, luxury builder Extell Development Co. has been planning a soaring tower on 57th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Now we get to see what it looks like. Last month, the developer included renderings of the tower as part of a presentation to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, showing a glassy skyscraper that reaches up to 1,423 feet. That would be about 40% taller than Extell’s One57, a super-luxury tower opening in coming months a block to the east. The new tower would be the tallest residential building in the country.” [Wall Street Journal]

Only five units left on the market at One57: [TheRealDeal

StartUp Nation

Waze Watch – Waze CEO: Israel will have many more billion dollar exits – “In the past ten years, 39 companies joined the unicorn club (companies that achieved an exit of over $1 billion). Only one Israeli company belongs to this club, and it is Waze,” Waze CEO Noam Bardin told a meeting of Tmura – The Israeli Public Service Venture Fund. Waze was acquired by Google Inc. for $1 billion earlier this year. “Although Israel has a great many start-ups, the numbers are not proportionate. In the past ten years, 6,000 start-ups were founded in Israel, but there was only one unicorn,” said Bardin. “Part of the historical reason for this is the lack of skill in allocating products. But Israel now has better skilled people in products in the industry, as well as programmers and engineers. “The combination of strong products workers and high tech in Israel will make it possible to achieve more unicorns, and the management of these companies will not have to fear going to the US at a point at which this can help their companies succeed.” [Globes]

Waze finally shows up in desktop Google Maps: “Waze’s real-time traffic conditions come to Google Maps for desktops, along with more Street View in step-by-step directions and auto-generated tours.” [CNET]

Ahead Of Its Public Debut Wednesday, Wix Prices IPO At $16.50 Per Share, With Valuation Near $800M: “Twitter isn’t the only company slated to join the list of public companies today, however. Israeli-American website creation platform, Wix, will also be vying for its share of media attention tomorrow, as the company announced this afternoon that it will be setting its opening price at $16.50 per share — the high end of its expected $14.50 to $16.50 price range. Trading on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “WIX,” the website creator says that it will offer 7.7 million ordinary shares as part of its public offering, with selling stockholders offering 1.9 million of those 7.7 million shares. After filing its initial paperwork back in May, Wix revealed last week that it planned to raise $119 million by offering 7.7 million shares at a price between $14.50 and $16.50.” [TechCrunch]

Israel’s Mobli Gets Major Boost from Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim: “The photo and video-sharing platform Mobli has received a major financial boost from one of the world’s richest men. Mexico’s América Móvil SAB de CV, controlled by multi-billionaire Carlos Slim, is leading a new $60 million round of investments into the company. As part of the deal, Mobli will get distribution with América Móvil’s millions of mobile users.” [Algemeiner]


Ghermezian’s Appboy raises $7.6M to help app-makers and users stay together: “People think of us as an analytics platform, and we’re not an analytics platform. We’re not a push notification provider either,” says Appboy CEO Mark Ghermezian. “Those are honestly 10 to 20 percent of what we do. We’re all about understanding who users are on a per-user level, taking all of that data, and then using it to automate tasks for marketers.” Ghermezian describes many marketers as “app-handicapped,” meaning that they’re unable to do many of the things they would like to do without the help of an engineer or other technical co-worker. Appboy is meant to make marketers more self-sufficient by making it easier to view user data, define target audiences, and reach them in a variety of ways without having to fuss with complex tools or code. And if that’s not enough the company has created what Ghermezian calls the success squad, a team of employees that works with marketers to solve problems and familiarize them with the service.” [PandoDaily]

Judge prohibits former QB Young from depleting assets: “Former NFL and University of Texas quarterback Vince Young has been ordered by a Harris County district judge not to hide, dispose of or waste personal assets as he faces a court hearing this week that could result in seizure of his property to pay a $1.8 million court judgment. State District Judge Bill Burke last week signed a temporary restraining order sought by attorneys for Pro Player Funding, which obtained a judgment in 2012 in New York state ordering Young to repay a $1.8 million loan obtained during the 2011 NFL lockout.” [Houston Chronicle]

Neil Blumenthal Is Behind Each Pair of Distributed Warby Parker Glasses: “Frustration with the traditional glasses industry’s byzantine business plan led a band of four former business students from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — Jeff Raider, Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt and David Gilboa — to found Warby Parker, a brand that seeks to make affordable, high-quality blinkers for the masses. The name is a combination of two characters’ names in one of Jack Kerouac’s journals.

—Since Warby Parker began hawking sleek frames over the Internet in 2010, the company has become shorthand for a certain model of commerce, one that cuts out the middleman to sell stylish goods directly to consumers. Part of that design is Warby Parker’s program of donating a pair of eyeglasses for every one that it sells. It’s a strategy that’s clever as well as generous: It marks Warby Parker not simply as a discount company, but also as being concerned with the good of the glasses-wearing community. The charitable end of the company was cooked up by co-founder Blumenthal. Before meeting the rest of the Warby Parker crew at Wharton, Blumenthal, who is Jewish, studied international relations at Tufts University.” [Forward]

Dessert – A Kiddush Hashem Goes Viral: The Man Behind the Q Train Napping Photo – “In a long life of quiet good deeds that generally go unnoticed except by the individuals on the receiving end, Isaac Theil, 65, had no hidden agenda last Thursday when he felt his neighbor on the Brooklyn-bound Q train nod off on his shoulder, and then let him sleep soundly there for the better part of the next hour. A fellow passenger, taken by this scene, was further struck when Theil politely declined his offer to rouse the dozing straphanger. “He must have had a long day, let him sleep. We’ve all been there, right?” said Theil. The astounded passenger took a furtive photograph, posted it with an accompanying caption on Reddit, and the rest, as they say, is social media history: the photo quickly made its way through the blogosphere and garnered over one million “likes” and nearly 200,000 shares on Facebook.

“The whole thing was happenstance, and I simply remembered the times my own head would bop on someone’s shoulder because I was so tired after a long day,” Theil recounted, sounding bewildered by his sudden catapult into viral Internet fame. The still-unidentified young man remained fast asleep as the train pulled into Newkirk Avenue, Theil’s usual point of departure, and Theil gently eased him off his shoulder before exiting. “When I got off the subway, I didn’t give it a second thought.” It was Theil’s sister in Montreal, Pam Russ, who called him early the next morning to let him know he appeared in an online photo; her eagle-eyed son had spotted his uncle and quickly alerted family members. Before long, the phone calls poured in from family and friends who were seeing it everywhere. When Theil arrived at shul for Shabbat the next day, the rabbi gave him a huge smile and two thumbs up before making his way over to praise his Kiddush Hashem.” [TabletMag]

NYTimes Profile – Henry Stimler, Founder of the soon-to-be closed J Soho Kosher Restaurant, Looks to Expand His Nightlife Presence: “In his own words, Henry Stimler was “always a wandering spirit and dreamer.” He grew up the second child of five in an ultra-Orthodox home in the predominantly Jewish area of Golders Green, North London. “I was the different one, the only blond kid alongside 43 other kids at school,” he said. “I didn’t do what everyone else in my community did: go to synagogue, marry the girl around the corner and live in the same four-block radius as my parents. I wanted to explore and have my own life. “My Nazi youth haircut,” he said. “I can wear it like this because it’s two months till I see my parents.”

—Since he was young, Mr. Stimler said, he “charmed my way through craziness.” As a boy he was “very loud, verbose, cheeky.” There was a lot of fighting and crying with his mother, Miriam, and father, Stanley. “I couldn’t ask for two better parents,” he said. “They were both kids of Holocaust survivors and couldn’t understand why they had four angelic kids who never caused any problems, and this one middle child who was crazy.” He would shout at them: “I swear I’m adopted. You got the wrong baby at birth.” He was groomed, like his brother, for a position in his father’s successful and well-respected commodities business. “I worked for him for a few months,” he said. “I hated it, felt trapped. It was everything I didn’t want to be.” (Mr. Stimler’s family declined to comment for this article.) Soon after his arrival in New York City, he created an investment firm, Phoenix SWF Fund, which, he said, “grew at a ferocious pace,” and collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. The businessman Sol Kinraich, a friend of Mr. Stimler for 10 years, said: “He didn’t let it destroy him. He goes at 600 miles per hour.”

—With “quite a bit of money left in the bank,” Mr. Stimler created Madame Wong’s, a pop-up nightclub in 2010, learning “you don’t make money from hipsters.” He also learned that he needed a cabaret license, after the police shut him down for not having one. The socialite Denise Rich encouraged him to set up a French-themed cabaret dinner evening at the former hot spot La Petite Maison in Midtown. After that came Jezebel, now named J, a kosher restaurant in SoHo attended by the likes of Lindsay Lohan and the Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Mr. Stimler said his parents “think I’m nuts,” though they appear to support him: When his father visited the Raven, he measured out the square footage and calculated how much his son should make a year. Though he can appear at times almost like a caricature of a Manhattan scenester, Mr. Stimler said his faith remains “incredibly important;” he is a member of the Park East Synagogue on East 67th Street. As his interview with a reporter wound down, an email from Mr. Stimler’s father arrived. The subject was about a party to celebrate his parents’ wedding anniversary. It read: “Booked you first class return ticket to London. Will send it to you soon. Now have a haircut and bring normal clothes.” [NYTimes]

A Science Project With Legs: “The average teenage boy is likely to have an interest in chicken only when it hits his dinner plate. But after a trip to Israel for his sister’s bat mitzvah, Jack Millman came back to New York wondering whether the higher costs of kosher foods were justified. “Most consumers perceive of kosher foods as being healthier or cleaner or somehow more valuable than conventional foods, and I was interested in whether they were in fact getting what they were paying for,” said Mr. Millman, 18 and a senior at the Horace Mann School in New York City.” [Healthy Consumer]

Thats all folks, have a great Thursday! 

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