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Daily Kickoff: Cruz courts Adelson, Steinhardt, Zuckerman & other NYC Jewish donors | “Asians get the Ivy League’s Jewish treatment” | Unroll.Me Exit

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DRIVING THE DAY — WHO’S REPLACING HAGEL? Sen. Ted Cruz suggests Sen. Joe Lieberman: “We need a Secretary of Defense who is squarely focused on defending the national security interests of the United States, first and foremost, and especially preventing a bad deal over Iran’s nuclear weapons program that could do irreparable harm to us and our allies. One strong option would be former Sen. Joe Lieberman, a member of the President’s own party with deep experience and unshakable commitment to the security of the United States. I urge the President to give him full and fair consideration for this critical position.” [Statement] • “Michele Flournoy tops short list” [Politico]

So this makes Obama… another George Bush?: At least as far as Middle East entanglements go, politicos can’t help but chuckle (and wince?) at the parallels. “The neo-cons who dominated the Bush administration feel some vindication watching Obama struggle to avoid repeating history. Dov Zakheim, a Bush-era Pentagon official, said Hagel was offered up as a “sacrificial lamb” by a White House trying to stall further escalation in Syria and Iraq. But “I just don’t think they have that luxury” of avoiding an expanded U.S. role, he said. “They’ll agonize as long as they possibly can, but the clock is ticking a lot faster than they anticipated.” [WashPost] • “How Obama Dumped Hagel” [Politico]

—Israeli Defense Minister Bogie Ya’alon Tweeted: “Secretary Chuck Hagel is a true friend of Israel. His dedication to ensuring Israel’s security has been unwavering. Over the past two years, I had the privilege and honor of enjoying an open, candid and very warm relationship with Secretary Hagel.”[Twitter]

Was this just a brilliant coverup for the failed Iran talks?: Buzzfeed’s Katherine Millerspeculates that it was in “How To Bury The News That The Iran Nuclear Talks Failed” [Buzzfeed]

A FAILURE TO REACT — DECONSTRUCTING THE IRAN TALKS: “A Nuclear Deal for U.S. and Iran Slips Away Again” — David Sanger, Michael Gordon, Peter Baker in the NYTimes:“If anything, the last few weeks underscored a larger conclusion about the negotiations: If the deal had been left to Mr. Kerry and Mr. Zarif, and to their respective teams, it probably would have happened. The two men have developed a strong working relationship, and the flare-up in Oman a couple weeks ago underscored how much each wanted to get to a deal but could not. In the end, both were constrained by hard-line politics at home. Mr. Zarif, while friendly, outgoing and Westernized, had pushed to the very limits of his brief; he often warned that the final decision would be in the hands of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And Ayatollah Khamenei, American intelligence officials had told President Obama and Mr. Kerry, was heavily influenced by the Revolutionary Guard Corps and his own distrust of the Americans…

[The lack of a deal] was a function of “mathematics, not politics,” one Western official said. “Essentially we were saying, ‘We’ll meet you halfway.’ ” But the Iranian side would not budge, leading to the ominous confrontation between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Zarif. Mr. Kerry flew to Vienna on Thursday for a final shot at meeting the deadline. The Americans sensed that Mr. Zarif had little leeway. Mr. Zarif and his aides warned that after the first meeting, the foreign minister would fly back to Tehran to get a bottom line from the clerics and military elite. The Americans said Mr. Kerry would also be leaving and told reporters to pack their bags.” [NYT]

Republicans React: U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and John McCain (R-AZ) today made the following statement on the extension of negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program: “If the P5+1 negotiates a good deal which successfully dismantles Iran’s nuclear weapons program, it will receive an overwhelming vote in support. However, if it sets the stage for the creation of another North Korea, we will vote against it and expect Congress to reject it. “When it comes to the Iranian nuclear ambitions, we strongly believe the most prudent policy would be to verify, verify, verify…. never trust.”

Kerry Under Fire: “It is disappointing and worrying that after a year of serious talks with Iran that we do not have a deal,” said the Democratic Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Robert Menendez, in a statement…Administration officials strongly dispute the idea that Kerry is wasting his time or that the extension amounts to a disappointment. Iran’s nuclear program is frozen in place, they say — its growth capped by a November 2013 agreement that provided limited relief from international sanctions…The danger for Kerry and Obama is that Democrats in Congress will lose patience, and side with Republicans who say Iran will only swallow such a deal under even stiffer economic sanctions than the ones applied by the U.S. and other world powers in recent years.” [Politico]

AIPAC: “Congress must now act to send a clear message that U.S. patience is not limitless and that Iran must not be allowed to achieve a nuclear weapons capability.” [Statement]

WHITE HOUSE: New Sanctions on Iran would be ‘counterproductive’: “The concern that we have is that layering on additional sanctions could leave some of our partners with the impression that this sanctions regime is more punitive in nature than anything else, and that could cause some cracks in that international coordination to appear,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “And that would therefore undermine the point of the sanctions regime in the first place.” Earnest added that allies would believe that the U.S. was simply “more interested in punishing” Iran than striking a deal, and that the administration could lose “buy-in” on the talks with additional penalties.” [TheHill]

2016 WATCH: “Texan Ted Cruz, ’16 Hopeful, Woos New York Jewish Donors” by Ken Kurson in the Observer: “Jewish life in New York is dominated by ritual. Holidays. A pastrami reuben on a hero at Katz’s. The reading of holy books in cycles that take a year (the Torah) or seven and a half years (the Talmud). And just as reliably, there’s the ritual of presidential candidates sniffing around for dough right after the midterm elections. That last one got going in earnest yesterday and today, with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas making a whirlwind tour of power Jews in New York City.” Prior to speaking at the ZOA dinner on Sunday evening, Mort Zuckerman hosted Cruz for lunch. Yesterday, Cruz met withSheldon Adelson for two hours. According to a source, “the casino owner liked Mr. Cruz but found the senator “too right wing” and concluded he is a longshot to win the nomination.” After the Adelson meeting, Michael Steinhardt hosted Cruz at his office for lunch. Other attendees included Dan ArbessKen Abramowitz, Edward Turen, and Cruz’s senior advisor Nick Muzin.

—Cruz laid out his 2016 plan: ““In my view, Hillary will be the Democratic nominee. And I think Hillary is every bit as radical as Obama is. I don’t think Bill is, I think Bill is genuinely more moderate. But I think Hillary is. So how does a Republican win in 2016? Einstein famously said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you look at the field in 2016, it’s going to be crowded field, there could be a dozen, there could be fifteen. There’s one bucket that, for lack of a better word, I’ll call the ‘moderate establishment’ bucket. It’ll be some combination of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. My guess is two of the three will run. And my view is whoever’s in that bucket will raise tons of money. A lot of donors will rush to write them checks. And yet if the nominee comes from that bucket, the same voters who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 will stay home again and Hillary’s the winner.”… “Where we are today is very much like the late 1970s. The parallels between Obama and Carter are uncanny — same failed economic policy, same disastrous foreign policy. And I think ’16 will be like 1980. The way Reagan won was not by blurring the differences. He drew a line in the sand and with a positive, optimistic hopeful vision said we can get back to the principles that made America great. That’s how we win and that’s how we energize the people who are feeling dispirited.” [Observer]

Why is Elizabeth Warren in Israel? “Democratic strategists said the trip reflects Warren’s growing influence within the party. “She’s very quickly in a very different place than when she was first elected,” said Scott Ferson. He called the trip, which aides told the Globe was organized in August, smart for both political and policy purposes, citing Massachusetts’ important trading relationship with Israel and the state’s sizable Jewish population. “My sense is that she’s going to listen, more than talk, on this trip,” Ferson said… Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen agreed traveling to Israel is “a prerequisite for any national politician” but agreed that too much shouldn’t be read into Warren’s intentions.” [Politico]

SCENE SUNDAY: “Can Jews and Muslims get along? 60 imams and rabbis meet in Washington to try” by Lauren Markoe: “Frustrated by dangerously high tensions between Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land, 60 imams and rabbis gathered Sunday (Nov. 23) to hatch concrete plans to bridge the gulf between their communities, minus the kumbaya. The “2014 Summit of Washington Area Imams and Rabbis,” its organizers hope, will be the first of many such gatherings of Jewish and Muslim clergy in cities across the U.S.” [WashPost]

UN Chief: Palestinian recognition gains momentum: “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday the international community’s failure to advance a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is spurring governments and parliaments to take action to recognize the state of Palestine — and “that momentum will grow.” [AP] • Prosor: Europe Has Failed Us Again [INS]

ISRAEL’S NATION STATE BILL: “The current debate over the proposed Nation-State law has undermined the settled nature of this essential element of Israel’s national identity”, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. “Attempts to further codify this concept in the Basic Laws are well-meaning but unnecessary.” [Haaretz] • Bennett’s response to US criticism? “We’ll manage Israel’s affairs ourselves” [JPost]

NYTIMES EDITORIAL: “Israel Narrows Its Democracy: Since its founding in 1948, Israel’s very existence and promise — fully embraced by the United States and the world of nations — has been based on the ideal of democracy for all of its people. That is why it is heartbreaking to see the Israeli cabinet approve a contentious bill that would officially define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, reserving “national rights” only for Jews.” [NYTimes]

**Good Tuesday 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**

GUMA AGUIAR’S ESTATE: After an intense legal battle, “The estate of Guma Aguiar, the Jewish philanthropist who disappeared off Fort Lauderdale in June, 2012, has been divided among his heirs by a Florida court, reports Yediot Aharonot… An assessor estimated the worth of the eight properties at $27 million, while the penthouse was valued at $17 million… The Florida court is reportedly about to declare Guma Aguiar officially dead in the coming days.” [ArutzSheva]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Lev Leviev’s Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. faces tumbling share prices [Globes] • Carlos Slim replaces George Soros in attempts to float a cash-strapped Spanish firm [WSJ]

SLICE BUYS JOSH ROSENWALD & JOJO HEDAYA’S UNROLL.ME: “Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, the companies tell me. Unroll.Me was a bootstrapped startup — no outside investors — and it had picked up 1.3 million users, which it calls “Rollers”, since first opening for business in 2011. That’s impressive growth, considering that it only had 100,000 subscribers in August 2013. Unroll.Me is based in New York, and the two co-founders, Josh Rosenwald and Jojo Hedaya, are both joining Slice, which is run as a subsidiary of Rakuten.” [TC]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — David Salama & Seth Berkowitz’s FlyCleaners: Already a hero of late-night snackers across NYC, Seth Berkowitz, the brain behind the popular late-night cookie delivery serviceInsomnia Cookies, has teamed up with David Salama to change the way NYC-ers do laundry. “With FlyCleaners, instead of having to bring your laundry to the laundromat or dry cleaner, you can just use a smartphone app to summon a ‘FlyGuy’ to pick up your laundry. Once your laundry is ready (FlyCleaners partners with local businesses to do the actual cleaning), you then use the app to request a delivery of your clean clothes.” [TechCrunch]

STARTUP NATION: 3D Systems to buy Israel-based design software maker Cimatron [Reuters] • China to invest millions in Israeli Cleantech [Globes] • Recharge your phone in 30 seconds? Israeli firm says it can [Reuters] • SanDisk co-founder Eli Harari awarded National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest U.S. honor for technological achievement. [Haaretz] • Viral: Israel’s GetTaxi Pans Racist Customer [ToI] • “This Israeli startup makes robots that dry clean solar panels” [Gigaom]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Asians get the Ivy League’s Jewish treatment” by Glenn Harlan Reynolds: “Decades ago, the Ivy League colleges thought they had a problem: too many Jews. These recent immigrants, from a culture that prized education and academic achievement, had an unfortunate characteristic: They worked harder, studied longer and cared more about school. In short, they had all the attributes required for success in the Ivy League. Problem was, the Ivy League didn’t really want them. Being first-generation students, these applicants didn’t have rich alumni parents who would be likely to donate big bucks. Being from an ethnicity not associated with America’s governing class, they didn’t help the Ivy League with its biggest selling point — that going to college there provides an opportunity to rub shoulders with America’s governing class. And they were seen as boring grinds who studied too hard and weren’t much fun.”

“But while the quotas for Jews are gone, the Ivy League now, by all accounts, has quotas for Asian students. They are seen as people who study too hard, boring grinds who aren’t much fun — and, of course, their parents aren’t as rich and connected. And though the numbers of highly qualified Asian applicants have grown dramatically, the number of Asians admitted stays pretty much the same every year. Now the Asian students are suing. In a lawsuit against Harvard, they are claiming that Harvard demands higher qualifications from Asian students than from others, and that it uses “racial classifications to engage in the same brand of invidious discrimination against Asian Americans that it formerly used to limit the number of Jewish students in its student body.” [USA Today] • “Is Harvard Unfair to Asian-Americans” [NYTimes]

FICTION LONGREAD: “How the Middle East’s First Nuclear War Started” [PoliticoMag]

That’s all folks; have a great day!
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