Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Sneak Peek at NYMag’s Story on Rabbi Pinto | Big Rallies Today in DC & NYC | Jimmy Carter’s Grandson Seeks Jewish Vote in Georgia

FIRST LOOK, DEEP DIVE: “The Trials of the Kabbalah Capitalist: Rabbi Yeshiyahu Yosef Pinto ministered to machers in New York and Israel. Then God had a change of heart” by Steve Fishman in New York Magazine: “What have we done to anger Hashem?” asked Rabbi Pinto. He was speaking in Hebrew in a near whisper (he doesn’t speak English), referring to himself, as he always does, in the first-person plural, tears dropping onto his shaggy dark beard. He was in his office in a cavernous building on East 85th Street, which houses his synagogue and yeshiva. “We are like Job.” Like the devout Old Testament figure whom HaShem tested with an outlandish series of troubles, Rabbi Pinto has lately had more than his share of calamities. And, also like Job, the rabbi had spent his previous life trying to be as close to God as possible. But unlike Job, the special relationship he’d cultivated made him a powerhouse in Israel and New York.”

“But then Hashem seemed to change his mind about the Rabbi. Here in America, the most visible trouble involved Michael Grimm, the military man turned Staten Island congressman who’s now been indicted for tax invasion and fraud. Grimm and Rabbi Pinto could not have been an odder couple, one a neatly coiffed bundle of aggro in a power suit, the other a friendly, beaming empath in the classic ultra-Orthodox uniform: black fedora, dark suit, white shirt, and ZZ Top beard. But Pinto had what Grimm needed: money people. And so when Grimm was embroiled in a multi-tendriled federal investigation partly involving campaign fund-raising, the rabbi, though he’d done nothing criminal, was entangled in it, too. To add to his woes, his right-hand man turned against him, and he suspected some of his congregants of dark motives. The rabbi was himself investigated for bribery in Israel, the very source of holiness. To extricate himself from the whole sordid business, the rabbi had to cooperate with the FBI, and indignity for a man of God. Through it all, the rabbi knew: God was calling the shots.”

“There is a long list of other businessmen who have taken counsel from the Rabbi: Yitzhak Tshuva, a former owner of the Plaza Hotel; Jay Schottenstein, current chairman of American Eagle and the person who’d connected LeBron with Pinto; Eduardo Elsztain, an Uber-wealthy Argentine who’s an owner of the Lipstick Building; Joe Sitt, who controls acres of Coney Island; Jeff Sutton, the billionaire head of Wharton Properties, and until he went to prison, Jacob the Jeweler, among many others…. He mediated disputes, like one between Charles and Murray Kushner over millions of dollars…. I asked the Rabbi why he thought so many people come to him for advice—even LeBron James, the best basketball player in the known universe. Why, I asked, would he seek out the rabbi? The rabbi paused an instant. He had a Santa Claus-y twinkle in his eye. “Do you the love the Rabbi?” Of course, I said. Well that’s your answer. “This is the same thing that happens to everybody else,” he said and grinned. [NYMag]

INSIDE LOOK: “Amid Outcry Abroad, a Wealth of Backing in Israel for Netanyahu” by Jodi Rudoren: “Several people who have been in the war room with Mr. Netanyahu said he was most enraged by the FAA’s suspension of flights into Ben-Gurion International Airport after a rocket hit nearby, and by the opening of a war-crimes inquiry by the United Nations Human Rights Council… In his office and the cabinet room, where one session stretched more than seven hours, Mr. Netanyahu has set up his beloved white boards, and occasionally sketched diagrams of possible operations. He gives even those who disagree with him ample time to air their views .. He sleeps at his Jerusalem residence, but sometimes naps at the Kirya, as the military’s Tel Aviv compound is called. There, the prime minister’s office is in an old house, where Mr. Netanyahu often has a cigar at hand.” [NYTimes]

TOP TALKER: “U.S. Push for Gaza Truce Yields a Few Hours of Calm” by Jay Solomon and Joshua Mitnick on WSJ Front Page, Above The Fold: “After six days of exhaustive meetings and stops in Cairo, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry came home Sunday with only a few fitful hours of peace in Gaza that proved fleeting. Israel and the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers observed a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire on Saturday. But they couldn’t agree to extend the truce on Sunday and the cycle of attacks resumed.” [WSJ

—Draft of Kerry’s Cease-Fire Proposal, Rejected by Israel: The one-page document was detailed in three clauses: 1. Establish a humanitarian cease-fire, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip, beginning in 48 hours [Sunday evening], and lasting for a period of seven days. 2. Build on the Cairo cease-fire understandings of November 2012. 3. Convene in Cairo, at the invitation of Egypt, within 48 hours to negotiate resolution of all issues necessary to achieve a sustainable cease-fire and enduring solution to the crisis in Gaza.. Israel’s demands are only mentioned in the most general of terms in the phrase “address all security issues,” without even mentioning the demilitarization of Hamas rocket supply or advanced weapons in Gaza or the dismantling of the terror tunnels. [Haaretz

SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: Israeli criticism of Kerry was ‘extremely offensive’: “Speaking in a conference call with Israeli journalists, the official said that “some of the reports contained overheated assertions that mischaracterized Kerry’s work and motivations. The criticism was extremely offensive. Mainly the charges that he betrayed our closest ally in the region – Israel.” The senior official added that the draft proposal presented by Kerry to Israel on Friday was intended “for Israeli comments and input” as part of a coordinated effort by the U.S. and Israel to secure a cease-fire.” [Haaretz] — Israel disputes US account of Kerry’s ceasefire effort [ToI]

—Obama to Netanyahu: Cease-Fire Now, Hamas Disarmament Later: “Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement… The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.” [WH Readout]

EVERYONE TAKES KERRY TO TASK: Jeffrey Goldberg: “Why Is Israel Losing a War It’s Winning?” [The Atlantic] — David Horowitz: “John Kerry, the betrayal” [TOI] — Ari Shavit: “Reckless Kerry risks causing escalation” [Haaretz] — Avi Issacharoff: “Kerry’s mistakes strengthen Hamas’s resolve” [ToI]

10 Years Ago Today (via the AP): “The Democratic National Convention in Boston nominated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for president.”

BBTV: Top Four Quotes From Sunday’s Talk Shows: “We’ve accepted five ceasefires, acted upon them. Hamas has rejected every single one of them. Violated them, including two humanitarianceasefires.. in the last 24 hours. Now Hamas is suggesting the ceasefire, and believe it or not, David, they’ve even violated their own ceasefire.” [MTP] — “I recognize what you say about world opinion, but I can only appeal to decent people everywhere and tell them, if you are concerned about civilian lives, it’s not because of Israel. Israel is not targeting a single civilian.” [FaceTheNation] —  “The history of warfare has not yet enabled any army, any civilized army, the army of a democracy like Israel, to be able to deal with a ruthless terrorist enemy that uses civilians as a human shield without having some incidental civilian casualties. Israel does not target a single civilian. But, if you think of what you would do, what the United States would do under similar circumstances, you would act, at the very least, in the same way.”[SOTU] — “If the international community will rush again to give cement, concrete to Gaza to build — for Hamas, to build the buildings, they’ll use it for tunnels.” [FoxNewsSunday]

HAPPENING TODAY: The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will hold a solidarity event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to “let the people of Israel know that they are not alone as they face the continuing onslaught of terrorist attacks, with missiles launched at civilian populations by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.” High ranking speakers include National Security AdvisorSusan Rice, House Speaker John Boehner, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, Congressional leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steny Hoyer; Reps Ed Royce, and Eliot Engel, as well as Senator Ben Cardin.

—In New York, some 2,500 people have already confirmed their attendance at a planned ‘New York Stands with Israel’ rally in Midtown Manhattan at 12:30PM: The rally is being organized by the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC) and co-sponsered by The New York Board of Rabbis, Conference of Presidents, Orthodox Union, Union for Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the National Council Young Israel. Confirmed speakers currently include NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Reps Steve IsraelHakeem Jeffries, Grace Meng and Elliot Engel; Ambassador Ido Aharoni, JCRC’sMichael Miller and Alisa Doctoroff, President of UJA-Federation of New York.

**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**

GOOD READ: “At Front Lines, Bearing Witness in Real Time” by David Carr on NYTimes A1: “For most of recorded history, we have witnessed war in the rearview mirror. It took weeks and sometimes months for Mathew Brady’s, and his associates’, photos of the bloody consequences of Antietam to reach the public. And while the invention of the telegraph might have let the public know what side was in ascent, images that brought a remote war home frequently lagged… But in the current news ecosystem, we don’t have to wait for the stentorian anchor to arrive and set up shop. Even as some traditional media organizations have pulled back, new players like Vice and BuzzFeed have stepped in to sometimes remarkable effect.” [NYTimes]

—Washington Post: “As wounded Israeli troops return home, military censorship is harder to enforce” by Ruth Eglash: “As wounded soldiers return from the front line, however, the army is facing a new challenge: how to stop the troops — who are surrounded by medical staff, volunteers, friends and family — from sharing strategic information from their battles. Add into the mix a digital element — soldiers reuniting with their smartphones and everyone around them constantly plugged in to multiple social-media platforms — and controlling the flow of sensitive information in this escalating conflict becomes more difficult than ever.” [WashPost]

FROM THE WEEKEND: “Israel Still Swears Hamas Kidnapped Those Teens” by Eli Lake in the Daily Beast: “Over the weekend it appeared that an Israeli official conceded something very valuable to Hamas. A BBC reporter in Israel tweeted out comments from the spokesman for Israel’s national police who allegedly said Hamas was not behind the kidnapping and murder last month of three Israeli teens on the West Bank, an incident that was the spark for the current war in Gaza.” [DailyBeast]

RALLY ROUNDUP: “45,000 Londoners Protest Israel’s Operation in Gaza” [Mashable] — “More Than 1,000 Palestinian Supporters Rally In Downtown Chicago” [CBS] — “Thousands march in French city of Marseille in support of Israel” [Reuters]

2016 WATCH — Clinton Criticizes Israel’s Settlement Policy: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Israel’s continued settlement activity while preaching for a two-state solution. Speaking on Sunday to Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Hillary said that the continued settlement activity is “my biggest complaint with the Israeli government .. I’m a strong supporter of Israel, a strong supporter of their right to defend themselves. But the continuing settlements, which have been denounced by successive American administrations on both sides of the aisle, are clearly a terrible signal to send if, at the same time, you claim you’re looking for a two-state solution..” [CNN— During the interview, Hillary also took pride of her complicated relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Secretary of state, saying she has a good relationship due to the fact that they can yell at each other. “I was often the ‘designated yeller,’” she said. [JP Updates]

—Hillary Not Afraid To Fly To Israel: Asked by Fusion’s Jorge Ramos if she would be afraid to fly commercial to Israel, Clinton replied, “No, I would not be.” Clinton, however, did not directly criticize the FAA for its decision to temporarily stop the flights.” [Fusion] — Clinton: Any Enrichment by Iran Could Trigger Arms Race [WSJ]

MIDTERMS: “Grandson Proudly Squirms in Carter’s Footsteps” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg on A1 of the NYTimes: “Like many candidates, Jason Carter, the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia, is courting the Jewish vote. But when Mr. Carter, a state senator, declared his “powerful connection” to Israel, it was more than a campaign sound bite. It was a not-so-subtle attempt to distance himself from a man he has loved and admired since boyhood: his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter.” [NYTimes]

—Mitt Romney Endorses Jewish Republican Lee Zeldin for Congress: Former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday endorsed Senator Lee Zeldin’s campaign in NY’s First Congressional District. Zeldin is running to unseat Democratic incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop. “Senator and Army Reserve Major Lee Zeldin is exactly the type of new blood Washington so desperately needs…” [Press Release]

NY CD04: Nassau District Attorney and Democratic Congressional candidate Kathleen Rice just returned from a 3-day visit to Israel. Rice, running in NY’s 4th congressional district that includes the Five Towns with a prominent Jewish population, said she initiated the visit before the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas. “It was an amazing trip,” Rice said to about the short visit to the Jewish State. “We were able to visit with families from Nassau County who now live in Israel… We talked about the conflict and what their positions were, in terms of how they see it coming to end. It was a really incredible opportunity.”

STARTUP NATION: “This Computerized Israeli Exoskeleton Could Help Millions of People Walk Again” by Issie Lapowsky in Wired Magazine: “Laureano owes that moment in large part to a man named Dr. Amit Goffer, founder of the Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies and inventor of the ReWalk. Dr. Goffer, who is quadriplegic himself, knows how devastating being confined to a wheelchair can be. Which is why in 1998, Dr. Goffer, a biomedical engineer by training, began tinkering with an alternative. Since then, so-called ReWalkers have taken Dr. Goffer’s invention to amazing places.”[Wired]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Alan ‘Ace’ Greenberg, Wall Street Legend, Passes at 86: “Greenberg also was a major fundraiser for the UJA-Federation of New York, hosting an annual private dinner for its largest donors, and helping to preside over its annual Wall Street dinner. His own contributions to the New York Jewish federation ran regularly over a million dollars a year, and he also made substantial donations to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem – to help fix its bathrooms; and to build a middle school and sports center, named for his mother and father respectively, in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo.”[Forward] [Bloomberg] —“Meet the man who’s driving Argentina to the brink” [Globe&Mail] — Chetrit and Pearl buy land with plans to create Miami Riverwalk [BizJournal

DESSERT: New York Post – “What’s a nice Jewish boy doing in an East Village sushi restaurant?” [NYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Jay Zeidman, former White House Jewish Liaison, MavPac Founder and President of PulmonaryRx… Larry Gordon.

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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