Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Adelson corrects Observer over Cruz; in Israel Hayom, he corrects his own anti-Democracy statements | How A Kosher Turkey Company Meets The Thanksgiving Rush

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IRAN TALKS: Iran hardliners round on Rouhani but supreme leader backs more nuclear talks: “Hardliners rounded on President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday after negotiators failed to end the Iranian nuclear dispute but the man who ultimately matters, the country’s supreme leader, tacitly backed a renewed push for a deal. Iranians faced the prospect of at least several more months of international sanctions that have badly hurt their living standards, after Tehran and six world powers missed a self-imposed deadline on Monday for a nuclear settlement. But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave his blessing after negotiators in Vienna allowed themselves seven more months to overcome the deadlock over the nuclear program.” [Reuters] • Dennis Ross: “Iran showed no flexibility in nuke talks” [ToI] • Laura Rozen: “Last days of talks showed signs of promise” [Al-Monitor] • “How a Gulf Monarchy Became a Key Player in the Iran Talks” [BuzzFeed]

Persian Propaganda? — “Once Maligned, Iran’s Jews Find Greater Acceptance” by Ali Akbar Dareini in the AP: “More than a thousand people trekked across Iran this past week to visit a shrine in this ancient Persian city, a pilgrimage like many others in the Islamic Republic – until you notice men there wearing yarmulkes. Iran, a home for Jews for more than 3,000 years, has the Middle East’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel, a perennial foe of the country. But while Iran’s Jews in recent years had their faith continually criticized by the country’s previous governments, they’ve found new acceptance under moderate President Hassan Rouhani… Today, estimates suggest some 20,000 Jews remain in the country.” [AP]

THE SEARCH FOR A NEW DEFENSE SECRETARY — Michèle Flournoy Takes Herself Out of Running for DefSec: “Flournoy’s decision means that only one of the three widely rumored names for the post remains under consideration: Ashton Carter, the former deputy secretary of defense. When Hagel was ousted Monday, speculation had immediately turned to Flournoy, Carter, and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a former Army Ranger. But Reed took himself out of the running shortly after Hagel announced his resignation.”

“The decision by both Flournoy and Reed to pre-emptively turn down the job underscores the immense challenges facing the next secretary of defense and raised immediate questions about whether senior officials and lawmakers were scared off by the prospect of taking a post that would require dealing with a White House that has centralized much of the policymaking and strategic decisions in the West Wing. Both of Hagel’s predecessors, Bob Gates and Leon Panetta, complained about administration meddling and overreach in their respective memoirs. “Despite everyone being ‘nice’ to me, getting anything consequential done was so damnably difficult,” wrote Gates.” [ForeignPolicy] • Haaretz editor Chemi Shalev calls Flournoy’s announcement a “Big disappointment for the Israel camp” [Tweet]

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS — CHUCK HAGEL EDITION: “During Chuck Hagel’s brutal confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, he was raked over the coals for his alleged lack of commitment to the U.S.-Israeli alliance. Sen. Ted Cruz dredged up a clip in which Hagel appeared to have agreed that Israeli forces had carried out war crimes during the 2006 war in Lebanon against Hezbollah. Several of his former colleagues slammed Hagel for arguing in an interview that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” That comment also led the neoconservative foreign-policy analyst Elliott Abrams to bluntly deride Hagel as an anti-Semite.”

“So just a day after he was unceremoniously ousted from his position as secretary of defense, the former senator from Nebraska is probably watching with no small measure of satisfaction as statements of praise stream in from Israeli officials and the country’s boosters. That reflects the quiet belief among security officials from both countries that the military-to-military relationship between the United States and Israel is as strong as ever, and that the Obama administration has gone further than some of its predecessors in providing Israel with advanced weaponry such as bunker-busting bombs.”[ForeignPolicy]

—U.S. government working to renew oil agreement with Israel: “The United States is in the midst of renewing its 35-year-old commitment to supply Israel with oil in emergency situations after the pact expired on Tuesday, a U.S. State Department official said. The United States “is in close contact with the government of Israel on extending the longstanding memorandum of understanding” between the two countries on emergency oil supplies, a State Department official said on the condition of anonymity. The agreement was first signed in 1979 by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Israeli Foreign MinisterMoshe Dayan after the Iranian revolution sent shock waves of higher prices and fears about disruptions in the Middle East through oil markets. Under the agreement, the United States, provided it has enough oil for its own use, will provide Israel crude for purchase. If Israel is unable to secure transportation for the oil, Washington will make “every effort” to help Israel secure transit, according to the agreement.”[Reuters]

WHAT A MENSCH! U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro Prays at Synagogue Targeted in Jerusalem Massacre: Shapiro joined congregants for shacharit prayers at the Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, where four congregants and a police officer were murdered by terrorists wielding meat-cleavers and a gun, accompanied by the president of the United Hatzalah ambulance service, Eli Beer, and CEO of the Israelife Foundation Eli Faulk.” [INS]

ADELSON’S CALL TO THE EDITOR: “Mr. Cruz and Mr. Adelson met for two hours at the St. Regis Hotel. While one source close to Mr. Adelson claimed the casino owner liked Mr. Cruz but found the senator “too right wing” and concluded he is a longshot to win the nomination, Mr. Adelson called the Observer after publication of this story to dispute that characterization of his reaction to Mr. Cruz. Mr. Adelson made clear to the Observer that he was the only person in the room with Mr. Cruz and thus the only one in a position to know how he felt about the Senator.” [NYObserver]

ADELSON’S LETTER TO ISRAEL HAYOM EMPLOYEES: ‘Israel Hayom is here to stay, forever’ writes Sheldon and Miriam Adelson: “In any case, the campaign against us is a badge of honor for us all. It indicates how much we have succeeded in changing the old media order, prompting them to rise up against us. We wanted you to know that we will spare no effort, large or small, to fight back against this cowardly attack against us… Mr. Adelson would also like to bring to your attention false accusations made against him, suggesting that he is an advocate of the view that Israel does not need to be a democracy. This is nonsense. It is a perfect example of things being taken out of context.”

“During an Israeli-American Council conference, Mr. Adelson participated in a discussion focused on Israel’s survival and the demographic threat facing the country. Many examples from history were raised during the discussion. As part of this, Mr. Adelson, humorously, pointed out what is written, or not written, in the Bible. The tone of the statements that were made is difficult to express accurately on paper, but anyone who watches a recording of the discussion understands the context. Mr. Adelson lives in a democracy and he believes in democracy. In fact, Israel’s democracy must be strengthened, in its institutions and in its media — and Israel Hayom is contributing to that effort. In defiance of the efforts to make us give up hope, Israel Hayom is here to stay, forever, and it is not dependent on anyone, except the reading public in Israel and around the world.” [IsraelHayom]

2016 WATCH: “Carly Fiorina actively explores 2016 presidential run but faces GOP critics” by Philip Rucker and Matea Gold: “On a Republican presidential debate stage expected to be filled with more than a dozen current and former politicians, Carly Fiorina envisions herself standing out — as the only woman and the only CEO. Sensing an opportunity in a crowded field that lacks a front-runner, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run. Fiorina has been talking privately with potential donors, recruiting campaign staffers, courting grass-roots activists in early caucus and primary states and planning trips to Iowa and New Hampshire starting next week.”[WashPost] • Flashback: “Carly Fiorina, CA Senate Candidate, Jets to Israel during Campaign” [DailyBeast]

2016 WATCH: “Clinton Shadow Campaign Gets Ready For The Real Thing” [BuzzFeed] • “O’Malley to allow ‘tracking’ in Western Maryland” [WashPost] • Chuck Schumer joins Obamacare criticism chorus [Politico] • “This is what happens when ex-Obama speechwriters take on Chuck Schumer” [WashPost]

TOP-OPS: David Suissa: “Israel needs a bigger message” [JewishJournal] • Jose Maria Aznar: “Failed to Cut a Deal With Iran? Better Than Making a Bad One” [WSJ] • Roger Cohen: “Keep Pushing for an Iran Deal” [NYTimes] • “Tony Blair on Israel-Palestine” [WSJ]

ON THIS DATE IN… (via the AP): 1940 – “The half million Jews of Warsaw, Poland, were forced by the Nazis to live within a walled ghetto.” 2008 – “Terrorists launched commando-style attacks on two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a crowded train station in Mumbai, India, killing 166 people.” [AP]

**Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us 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**

LONGREAD: “What it’s Like to Run an Arab Tech Startup in Israel” by Drake Bennett:“Mazzawi, 44, is an experienced engineer with top Israeli and international tech companies on his résumé, and a graduate of the Technion, Israel’s preeminent technology university. In a nation that in the past decade has gone startup crazy, that makes him a natural candidate for entrepreneurship. Mazzawi is also an Arab, though, and that makes everything harder. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Nazareth, a mostly Arab city culturally remote from Israel’s social and financial capitals. Having battled his way into the Technion from a largely vocational high school, he struggled to keep up with his better-prepared classmates. When he graduated and first sent out applications for jobs he felt well qualified for, he didn’t hear back from a single employer—a story common among Arab engineers. Since starting his company, he’s found it difficult to find advice and funding. In Arab society, this culture doesn’t exist of ‘Let’s invest in high tech to make money.’ ” He’s still learning to negotiate the dynamics of conversations with venture capital funds. “They’ll ask certain questions, and to get answers you need to talk to people. With my limited network, it’s harder to get this information,” he says. “That’s what I’m missing.”

“A fifth of the population, however, Israel’s 1.7 million Arabs, are only marginal participants in Start-Up Nation. Only 2 percent of Israeli technology workers are Arab. “The major social challenge of the success of high tech in Israel is that it’s just created bigger gaps,” says Yossi Vardi, an investor and central figure in Israel’s tech sector. And today relations between Israel’s Arabs and Jews are as tense as they’ve been in years—in recent weeks young Arab men from East Jerusalem have carried out a series of lethal terrorist attacks in the holy city, and right-wing Jewish activists have called on companies employing Israeli Arabs to fire them. The mayor of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon has barred Arab workers from construction projects at local preschools, citing security concerns. Yet at the same time, an increasing number of Israel’s Arabs are finding work in the country’s burgeoning tech economy, feeding its appetite for programming talent. Arabs are represented at Israel’s top universities in numbers commensurate with their percentage of the population. The number of Arab engineers at the large Israeli branches of multinational tech companies such as Cisco, Google, Intel, and Microsoft is climbing.” [BusinessWeek]

START-UP SPOTLIGHT: Israeli Roomer Lands $5M In Series A To Be The Airbnb or StubHub For Unwanted Hotel Rooms: “According to the startup, which has just raised $5 million in Series A led by Disruptive, there are 81 million hotel room cancellations in the United States every year. Roomer tries to solve that problem by letting users sell their unwanted hotel room, which would otherwise cost a cancellation fee, at a discounted price. Roomer sets up through hotels and travel agencies directly, so that each time a user wants to cancel their hotel room, they’re sent to the Roomer site to list it for sale. Roomer handles everything from marketing to reservation transfer to payment out to you, all from simply sending the hotel confirmation email to the service. The user gets all this for free, and then pays out 15 percent of the sale to Roomer in exchange for the marketing, payments, transfers, etc. And as a bonus, the hotel saves an average of $10.49 each time a cancellation call is instead routed to Roomer, according to founder Gon Ben-David.”  [TechCrunch] • “The Israeli-born platform for re-selling accommodations launched in New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas in 2013 and since then has gradually added to its inventory, adding numerous other cities.” [BizJournal]

START-UP NATION: Israeli Digital insight firm SimilarWeb raises $15M [Globes] • Creator of WazeUri Levine set to launch FeeX, a program that analyzes retirement funds for hidden fees, in the US.[JewishJournal] • Is Ori Allon’s Urban Compass really the future? [TheRealDeal] • Check out this new collaborative google doc of local and foreign seed investors of Israeli companies; startups looking for seed [GoogleDoc]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “From schmatta district to Paris runways, Jewish designers are dominating the fashion industry” [Haaretz] •  New Jersey’s richest man plans to give billions back to investors [NYPost]

REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: Long Branch’s Pier Village sold to Kushner Companies and Gary Barnett’s Extell Development [NJ] • Lloyd Goldman’s BLDG Management and Jeffrey Feil’s Feil Organization sold Philly shopping center for $53M [Philly] • Kushner’s Vacant building in Brooklyn Heights is trespasser magnet [BrooklynPaper

PROFILE: “How Hoodie Allen went from Google exec to rap sensation” by Hardeep Phull in the NYPost: “Back in 2011, Steven Markowitz was living the dream. He had graduated from Wharton with a marketing and finance degree, and had become an account executive at Google. Problem is, it wasn’t his dream. And so, four months into his budding career at the tech giant, the Long Island native decided to leave San Francisco and move to Manhattan to become his alter ego: the rapper Hoodie Allen. Allen, who is Jewish like his namesake, says he adopted his moniker because he wanted it to “stick in people’s heads.” As far back as 2009, he began self-releasing mixtapes online, making it a point to communicate directly with his fans.” [NYPost]

TALK OF OUR NATION — A US Supreme Court passport battle, courtesy of a lifelong friendship: “Ari Zivotofsky might have never launched 12-year case that could change Washington’s policy on Jerusalem had a lawyer friend not gotten interested in the ‘arbitrary and anti-Israel’ rule” [TOI]

Jewish theater company in D.C. cancels Mideast festival under donor pressure: “Theatre J, which operates under the auspices of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, canceled an annual festival following criticism by donors and funders against the showing of controversial Israeli plays. The Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival has been removed from the theater’s upcoming calendar, the daily Forward reported….“We find the culture of open discourse and dissent within our Jewish Community Center to be evaporating,” Roth said, according to an internal document obtained by The Forward. “Increasingly, Theatre J is being kept from programming as freely, as fiercely, and expressing itself as fully as it needs.” [Haaretz]

Joyful Opera Performed In Nazi Concentration Camp Revived In Chicago: “Brundibár, a children’s opera that premiered during World War II, became both a symbol of hope and resistance and a Nazi propaganda tool. Now, Petite Opera, a small company in suburban Chicago, is reprising the opera, originally performed by Jewish children held in a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.” [NPR-WHSU]

SPORTS BLINK: “Home-grown Israeli baseball: From youth to the pros” [JPost]

DESSERT — THANKSGIVING TURKEY RUSH: “How a kosher turkey company meets the Thanksgiving rush: An ancient-modern balancing act” by Claire Zillman in Fortune Magazine: “On any given day in November, trucks will deliver some 10,000 live white turkeys to Empire Kosher Poultry’s Mifflintown, Penn., processing plant. The birds are destined for ritual slaughter, rabbinic approval, a salt bath, and, finally, a Cryovac sealing machine. They’ll go from live beings to packaged poultry in about three hours flat. In 24 hours, there’s a good chance they’ll be on the shelf of a Trader Joe’s, Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods, or BJ’s Wholesale Club in a city along the Eastern seaboard. Welcome to the mass production of kosher poultry, which began at Empire some 75 years ago, when Joseph Katz founded the company in Liberty, N.Y. and helped move the traditional Jewish meat preparation process from the local butcher shop and Jewish home into the mainstream.”

“Decades later, privately held Empire is now undergoing another kind of transition. Ten years ago, half of Empire customers kept kosher, while the other half did not. Now, that breakdown is about 23%—77%. Nearly four out of five customers who buy Empire’s antibiotic free, vegetarian-fed chickens and turkeys do not keep kosher, according to Empire’s own market research. In 2013, kosher products generated $17 billion in grocery business nationally, with sales increasing 10% on average every year since 2005, according to the Kosher Advisory Service. Market research firm Mintel found in 2009 that 62% of survey respondents listed food quality as the reason why they buy kosher food, compared to 14% who said they did so because of religious law. Empire is gaining new customers who live in geographic areas that lack large Jewish populations, according to Harry Geedey, the company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. This Thanksgiving, Sprouts Farmers Market, a specialty grocery store chain based in Phoenix, Ariz., North Carolina-based Ingles Markets, and Earth Fare, an organic food supermarket chain also based in North Carolina, will sell Empire turkeys for the first time.” [Fortune]

That’s all folks; have a great day!
**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**

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