Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Inside The Failed MidEast Peace Talks | Rand Paul’s Jewish Charm Offensive | Adelson To Spend $100M.. This Year | Agudah + Walmart

MUST READ: “The Explosive, Inside Story of How John Kerry Built an Israel-Palestine Peace Plan — and Watched It Crumble” by Ben Birnbaum and Amir Tibon in the New Republic: “I want to focus on the peace process,” Obama told Peres as they sat down… “Everywhere I go in the world, people talk about it,” he said. “The international community waited for the U.S. elections to be over, and then the elections in Israel—and now it’s expecting us to lead an effort towards peace. I want to go for it.” Fortunately for Obama, “going for it” would require little time and political capital. In Kerry, he had someone eager to expend his own. Kerry recognized the foibles of Abbas and Netanyahu, but also their merits. In the former, Kerry saw a leader well ahead of his public on the subject of peace with Israel—and who, at age 77, might not be around much longer. And in the latter, he saw an uncontested prime minister, who, if only persuaded to make the tough compromises most of his countrymen were prepared to accept, could shepherd a deal through the landmines of Israeli politics.”

—BIBI & KERRY: “Benjamin Netanyahu and John Kerry first met each other in the mid-’70s, in Boston, when Netanyahu (better known as Bibi) worked there as a management consultant. Years later, during Kerry’s frequent trips to Israel as a senator, the two would typically get together for catch-up dinners; it never seemed to bother them that their politics were so different. “There’s a sense [on Netanyahu’s part] that Kerry has an emotional commitment to Israel,” said Israeli Ambassador to the United States and longtime Bibi confidante Ron Dermer.”

—KERRY’S GRAND BARGAIN: “Israel would release another 400 prisoners of its choosing, and halt all new settlement announcements throughout the West Bank. In return, the Palestinians would agree to extend talks for another nine months and Netanyahu would get a prize that Israeli prime ministers had been seeking for decades: the release of convicted Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard. Netanyahu was prepared to go along with the deal, and Abbas was signaling that he was, too. There was just one problem: President Obama was against it.”

—HOW THE SAUSAGE WAS MADE: “This story is based on interviews with close to 100 Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, and others who were involved in the talks or the surrounding political context. Every scene was provided or verified by someone who was in the room (and in the vast majority of cases, by multiple such people). Contemporaneous notes and diaries were also used to ensure accuracy. Dialogue has been carefully constructed based on the recollections of the characters; no quote about which there is more than trivial disagreement has been included.” [NewRepublic]


KERRY RETURNS TO MIDEAST TO PUSH FOR CEASE-FIRE: “Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington early Monday for Cairo, where he will urge the militant Palestinian group Hamas to accept a cease-fire agreement offered by Egypt that would halt nearly two weeks of fighting.” [AP]SUNDAY SHOWS: Netanyahu Takes Israel’s Case to American Public: “In multiple television appearances on the Sunday news shows, Netanyahu compared Israel’s experience to the U.S.’s feeling that 80% of the country was under attack. “We will stop our operations when we can bring back quiet to our people,” he said in an interview with CNN. “I support taking whatever action is necessary to stop this insane situation…. Nobody wants to go to excessive military lengths, but what is happening here is excessive.” He called for the demilitarization of Gaza, describing it as “an Iranian financed and equipped fortress of terror.” [WSJ]

Kerry Caught Mocking Israel On Hot Mic: ‘It’s A Hell Of A Hell Of A Pinpoint Operation’ [FoxNews] — Elite Israeli Unit Loses 13 in Gaza Battles – Golani Soldiers Known as the Army’s Toughest Fighters [WSJ] — Two American Lone Soldiers Were Killed Fighting in Gaza – Max Steinberg and Nissim Sean Carmeli [AP] — Did the United Nation’s Give Rockets to Hamas? [DailyBeast] — Maze of Secret Gaza Tunnels Targeted by Israel Offensive [Bloomberg] — ONION HEADLINE: “Palestinians Starting To Have Mixed Feelings About Being Used As Human Shields” [TheOnion]

NEGOTIATORS AGREE TO EXTEND IRAN TALKS FOUR MORE MONTHS: “Behind President Obama’s decision on Friday to extend the Iran nuclear negotiations for four more months is a calculation that by keeping the most damaging sanctions, but giving Tehran a taste of what access to its overseas cash reserves might mean, a deal is possible… Congress, and some nuclear experts pushing for a harder line, strongly disagree. It was overwhelming sanctions, and the pressure of covert action against Iran’s nuclear program, that brought the country to the table, they argue. To get a final deal, they contend, the formula is simple: More sanctions, more pressure, and behind it all the lurking threat of military action.”[NYTimes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Hundreds filled the 92nd Street Y last night in a solidarity rally in support of Israel organized by the Israeli Consulate, Israeli American Council, JCRC and UJA Federations of NY. Speakers included Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in NY, Senator Chuck Schumer,Rep. Eliot Engel, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, JCRC’s Michael Miller, UJA’s Aliza LevineGil Galanos and Rachel Davidson, from IAC New York, Robert Sugarman, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Organizations and Henry Timms, CEO 92nd Street Y. Attended: Councilman Chaim Deutch and Assemblyman David Weprin.

**Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

2016 WATCH: “Inside Rand Paul’s Jewish Charm Offensive” by Shane Goldmacher in the National Journal: “Paul has donned a yarmulke and danced to Hebrew songs. He has prayed at the Western Wall and visited a prominent New Jersey yeshiva (a religious school where a major GOP contributor served as his tour guide). He’s dialed into one of the country’s most popular Jewish radio programs and held off-the-record conference calls with Jewish leaders across more than 30 states. He has introduced pro-Israel legislation (title: the “Stand With Israel Act”), speechified about it in the Senate, and, relentlessly, sought a private audience with the wealthiest and most influential Jewish Republicans in the nation.—The charm offensive has two goals at its core. The first is to try to establish Paul in the foreign policy mainstream of Republicanism, particularly on the signal issue of Israel, which is of key importance to both Jewish voters and evangelical Christians. The second is to win over, or at the least neutralize, the moneyed class of hawkish Israel defenders—free-spending billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer chief among them—who Paul’s advisers know represent among the most significant impediments to his becoming the party’s next standard-bearer.—The group Paul has most aggressively courted is the Republican Jewish Coalition, whose board of directors reads like a who’s who of big GOP contributors—Adelson, Singer, and former Ambassadors Mel Sembler and Sam Fox, among many others… Lately he’s been targeting influential members, one by one. Over the weekend, Isaac “Yitz” Applbaum, an RJC board member who coauthored an op-ed in Foreign Policy last fall with Paul titled “Peace Through Strength,” hosted an event for Paul in the Bay Area.—One of the unlikely Paul allies to emerge in the Jewish community has been Richard Roberts, a major GOP contributor who has worked closely with Adelson. (They teamed up, $1 million apiece, on a 2012 super PAC that unsuccessfully tried to reelect Rep. Allen West.) “Rand Paul’s father, Ron, is clearly anti-Semitic,” Roberts said in an interview. But that hasn’t colored his view of the younger Paul, whom he first met at the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa. Roberts quickly took a liking to Paul and volunteered to bankroll his January 2013 trip to Israel (“The senator paid for himself. I paid for everybody else,” Roberts said).” [NationalJournal]FIRST LOOK: New Yorker Profiles Joe Biden – “The Evolution of Joe Biden” by Evan Osnos:“In Israel, Biden’s approach goes down better. On a visit in 2011, Biden quoted his father saying, “There’s no sense dying on a small cross”—to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a larger step toward peace in the Middle East. Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., said, “We’re in Jerusalem, we’ve got a Catholic Vice-President, we’ve got a Jewish Prime Minister, and he’s telling him, ‘There’s no sense dying on a small cross.’ The Prime Minister starting laughing, and, I have to tell you, it is the single most succinct understanding of Israeli political reality of any other statement that I’ve heard.”[NewYorker]POLITICO MAG PROFILE: “The Trouble With Jared” – Why Colorado’s (Jewish) bow tie-wearing, tech-millionaire lawmaker is making his fellow Democrats nervous: “Back home in Colorado, where political observers have been watching Polis’ brash behavior for a decade now, starting when the young tech entrepreneur bought himself a seat on the state Board of Education at the age of 25, partygoers reacted to the clumsy display of naked ambition—uncouth even by Washington’s standards—with disbelief.” [PoliticoMag]

2014 MIDTERMS — John King Scoops: “Sheldon Adelson the big casino owner, the GOP mega donor in Las Vegas … [has] been meeting with Republican strategists. They’ve shown him the Senate map. They’ve briefed him on the candidates. They’ve showed him all the polling. And he says he wants to make a huge commitment to help Republicans take back the Senate, a commitment that could be, one source in the meeting tells me, up to $100 million.” [CNN Politicker] — Related: Adelson gave Republican Governors Association $2.5 million [NJ]

FLORIDA RACE FOR GOVERNOR: Crist Announces Jewish Running Mate: The front-runner in Florida’s Democratic race for governor, Charlie Crist, announced Thursday that his running mate will be Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, a Colombian-American, Jewish business owner and Miami-Dade Democratic Party chairwoman. Taddeo-Goldstein’s Jewish faith can be an asset for Crist with the region’s large Jewish population. Crist is also married to a Jewish woman. [Palm BeachTaddeo converted to Judaism in her 20s [Miami Herald]

White House Not Worried About Ginsburg Chatter: “The White House says it’s not worried about a possible retirement by Ruth Bader Ginsburg or any other Supreme Court justice. Speculation on the high court’s next vacancy has centered on the 81-year-old Ginsburg, who has had health problems.”[TheHill]

BUSINESS BRIEFS (Newspaper Owners Edition): Zuckerman Lays Off 17 at the Daily News: “Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman wielded the ax again on Friday, laying off another 17 newsroom employees in a relentless drive to stem losses. Sources said the latest bloodletting on the editorial side followed a smaller number of cuts on the business side Thursday.” [NYPost]

Jared Kushner’s Phoenix Holdings Purchase On Hold Due To War: “Worried about the war, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of New York real estate magnate Donald Trump, canceled a series of meetings scheduled in Israel last week to hammer out the details of his planned 1.7-billion-shekel ($497 million) acquisition of insurer Phoenix Holdings. Kushner and a team of advisers were slated to hold meetings aimed at advancing the Kushner Group acquisition of a controlling 47% stake in the insurer.”[Haaretz]

STARTUP NATION: Mobileye revenue triples as IPO nears: “Collision avoidance solutions developer Mobileye has updated the filing for its Wall Street IPO and included interesting new information – its first quarter 2014 results and a listing of its current shareholders. Mobileye’s first quarter revenue rose 204% from the corresponding quarter to $35.6 million.” [Globes]

TO BE PUBLISHED TOMORROW: “How Agudah and Wal-Mart Money Came Together To Back School Choice” by Josh Nathan-Kazis in The Forward: “The largest donor to the ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America is a Christian family from Arkansas. The Agudah, as the organization is known, represents some of the most stringent, black-hat-wearing Orthodox Jews in the United States. Its backers include wealthy Jewish developers and health care magnates. The organization, however, has received more money in the past six years from the majority owners of Wal-Mart than from any other single giver.

“The donations come from the Walton Family Foundation, run by the descendants of Sam Walton, Wal-Mart’s founder. Since 2008, the Walton foundation has incorporated the Agudah into a massive national network pushing its conservative vision of school reform, which emphasizes charter schools and school voucher programs. The Agudah, in return, has received or been pledged $3.1 million by the foundation, according to Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, vice president of development and state relations.”[Forward]

JDOV Talks and The Forward Form Media Partnership: “Launched at the UK’s Limmud Conference in 2011, JDOV (Jewish Dreams Observations Visions) takes its inspiration from TED Talks, inviting interesting and creative thinkers to give “the Jewish talk of their life” in 10-12 minutes. In the three years since it was launched, JDOV has filmed over 70 talks on four continents and developed relationships with a number of prominent production partners, including the Wexner Foundation, Hebrew University, Limmud, Jewish Book Week and JW3.” [eJewishPhil]

TOP-OPS: David Horowitz: “Hushed, determined Israel in a war ‘for our home'” [ToI] — Talia Weisberg: “Hobby Lobby and Me” [HarvardCrimson] — Robert Zarate: “Expand non-military pressure on Iran” [USAtoday]

BIRTHDAYS: Criminal Defense Attorney Ben Brafman Is 66… Eli Cohen, President of the Jewish Community of Malaga. (H/T Alex Jakubowski)… Chloe Simone Valdary… 

That’s all folks, have a great Monday! 

**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

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