Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Election Recap | ProPublica on S. Daniel Abraham | Inside look at Stuxnet – “The World’s First Digital Weapon”

BREAKING OVERNIGHT: An Arab terrorist, affiliated with Hamas, plowed his vehicle into a crowd of people at a light rail station along the seam-line between East and West Jerusalem late Wednesday morning, killing one Border Police officer, and injuring 14 more. [ToIINS] • AP Headline:“Palestinian rams car into east Jerusalem train station, is shot dead by Israeli police” Updated AP Headline: “Palestinian kills one, injures 13 after ramming minivan into train platform in Jerusalem before being shot by police” [AP]

ELECTION RECAP: Jewish Highlights — Lee Zeldin defeated Rep. Tim Bishop to takeover Eric Cantor’s role as the only Jewish Republican Member of Congress… Jewish Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) easily won re-election… Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel was re-elected to another term… Rep. Brad Schneider lost his Illinois seat to Bob Dold… Mark Dunec lost to incumbent Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen… Kathleen Rice beat Bruce Blakeman in New York’s 4th… Elan Carr lost to Ted Lieu in a bid to win Henry Waxman’s seat… Sean ‘Simcha’ Eldridge lost by 30 points in a district that Obama won… Micah Edmond was defeated by Don Beyer in Virgina’s 8th… Sheldon Adelson and Mel Sembler helped defeat a Florida medical marijuana ballot question… NYTimes and Edison Research exit polls had Jewish voters nationally favoring Democrats 64% – 34%..

Nick Rahall, considered by many to be the most anti-Israel Member of Congress, lost his West Virginia district last night after 38 years in the house. According to Wikipedia, “Rahall has expressed concern about America’s relationship with Israel. He said, “Israel can’t continue to occupy, humiliate and destroy the dreams and spirits of the Palestinian people and continue to call itself a democratic state.”

Other Highlights: In Georgia races where the Middle East was discussed, Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn were both defeated… In Arkansas, Republican Tom Cotton defeated Democrat incumbent Mark Pryor for the U.S. Senate seat and will likely play a big foreign policy role in the coming years. Jeffrey Goldberg quipped “Ayatollah Khamenei googling Tom Cotton + sanctions”… In Kansas, Republicans Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts held on with narrow margins… New York Governor Andrew Cuomo won… Mitch Mcconnell will now become the Senate Majority Leader…  Biggest upsets of the night are in Maryland, with Larry Hogan defeating Anthony Brown, Massachusetts with Charlie Baker defeating Martha Coackley, and Illinois with Bruce Rauner defeating Pat Quinn. Hogan specifically thanked the Jewish community in Pikesville for helping drive his Baltimore County numbers much higher than anticipated…

2016 RAMIFICATIONS – 734 Days Until The Election: The spin coming from the Hillary camp is that the Democrats’ beating opens up the path for Clinton to come in as the party hero in 2016… O’Malley suffered an awful blow with his hand-picked successor Anthony Brown losing in what was widely seen as a referendum on 8 years of O’Malley policies. This will not play well nationally and, worse, cuts off significant funding from Maryland donors previously looking to curry favor with the Maryland Democratic machine… Despite a great night for Republicans, Rand Paul suffered a setback last night as the Democrats held onto the Kentucky State House meaning that Paul will likely not be able to run for both President and the Senate in 2016… With big Gubernatorial wins in Wisconsin, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, RGA Chairman Chris Christie had a fantastic night and will look to ride the momentum for 2016… Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with his re-election campaign will now likely run for President in 2016… George Will makes the point that with Walker running in 2016, Rep. Paul Ryan is unlikely to join the fray…

IF YOU READ ONLY ONE THING On How The Republicans Won The Senate — Make it Philip Rucker and Robert Costa’s Report [WashPost]

DEEP DIVE: “Slim Fast Billionaire Fattens Wallet of Scandal-Plagued Former Israeli Prime Minister” by Uri Blau: A private foundation funded by the founder of Slim Fast paid tax deductible dollars to a consulting company owned by Ehud Olmert, an Israeli political figure accused of corruption: “The money was transferred to Olmert’s company in 2012 and 2013, years in which Israeli authorities were prosecuting Olmert for bribery, tax evasion and fraud. The private foundation is funded by S. Daniel Abraham, the 90-year old billionaire and founder of the company that created the Slim Fast diet products. It sponsors the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, a Washington-based institute. Under U.S. tax law, Abraham is entitled to take a deduction from his personal returns of the $5 million he gave the foundation over those years. That means U.S. taxpayers subsidized Abraham’s payments to the former prime minister’s company.” [ProPublica]

US Army Buys Its First Iron Dome from Israel: “The US Army will acquire one Iron Dome battery, and based on tests it will conduct on the system decide whether or not to purchase more units of the Israeli defense system that reportedly boasted a 90% hit rate in Operation Protective Edge.” [Arutz Sheva]

IRAN TALKS: “Iranian website reports U.S. giving ground on nuclear centrifuges: The Obama administration has agreed to allow Iran to operate 6,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium, up from a proposed ceiling of 4,000 reported two weeks ago, as part of negotiations for a nuclear deal, according to a website approved by the Iranian government… Skeptics of a potential deal, including many U.S. lawmakers and Israel, worry that the administration may be too lenient in allowing Iran to keep centrifuges. But it is not clear that 6,000 is a large enough inventory to galvanize political opposition to a deal in Congress and among allies.” [LA Times]

PARTNERS: “Pentagon Sought Sanctions Exemptions for Iranian Investment in Afghanistan: Outreach Was Example of Obama Administration’s Tentative Efforts to Forge Closer Relations” by Joel Schectman and Dion Nissenbaum in the WSJ: “As the U.S. struggled in recent years to help prop up Afghanistan’s anemic economy, the American military turned for help to an unlikely partner: Iran. The U.S. has no formal relations with Tehran and American companies are restricted from working with Iran by sanctions over the country’s disputed nuclear activities. Nevertheless, a specialized Pentagon task force sought to engage Afghanistan’s western neighbor for major business ventures it was promoting in the country.” [WSJ] • Hezbollah Threats to Israel ‘Emboldened’ by Improved American-Iranian Ties, Expert Matthew Levitt Says: [Algemeiner]

TOP OPS: “Why are Obama officials so mad at Netanyahu? Because they can’t get even” by Peter Beinart: “If Bibi has been alienating American officials since the 1980s, his current tussle with the Obama administration contains a new twist. Bibi hasn’t changed: He’s as arrogant as ever. But the Americans have. In the past, US officials didn’t need to lash out as much verbally because they could make Bibi pay for his defiance. The Obama team can’t.” [Haaretz] • Daniel Gordis: “Israel’s Bloody Anniversary Gets Even Darker” [Bloomberg] • Isi Leibler: “Candidly speaking: Is American Jewish leadership intimidated?” [JPost] • Sohrab Ahmari: “The Dictators’ Mutual Praise Club” [WSJ]

HAPPENING TODAY: The Jewish Week honors Eugene Grant at Temple Emanuel followed by a discussion on “Israel In The Eyes Of The Media: From Menachem Begin To Today” with Dr. Daniel Gordis and Ethan Bronner • At 7PM, Matthew Levitt speaks on Hezbollah in Miami at the Michael Ann Russell JCC • Israeli Companies at Ad Tech NYC Today [Ministry of Economy]

**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**

FIRST LOOK, BOOK EXCERPT: “An Unprecedented Look at Stuxnet, the World’s First Digital Weapon ” by Kim Zetter, Wired: “In January 2010, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in Iran noticed that centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas were failing at an unprecedented rate. The cause was a complete mystery—apparently as much to the Iranian technicians replacing the centrifuges as to the inspectors observing them. Five months later a seemingly unrelated event occurred. A computer security firm in Belarus was called in to troubleshoot a series of computers in Iran that were crashing and rebooting repeatedly. Again, the cause of the problem was a mystery. That is, until the researchers found a handful of malicious files on one of the systems and discovered the world’s first digital weapon. Stuxnet, as it came to be known, was unlike any other virus or worm that came before. Rather than simply hijacking targeted computers or stealing information from them, it escaped the digital realm to wreak physical destruction on equipment the computers controlled.”

“Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, written by WIRED senior staff writer Kim Zetter, tells the story behind Stuxnet’s planning, execution and discovery. In this excerpt from the book, which will be released November 11, Stuxnet has already been at work silently sabotaging centrifuges at the Natanz plant for about a year… As Iran prepares for its presidential elections, the attackers behind Stuxnet are also preparing their next assault on the enrichment plant with a new version of the malware. They unleash it just as the enrichment plant is beginning to recover from the effects of the previous attack. Their weapon this time is designed to manipulate computer systems made by the German firm Siemens that control and monitor the speed of the centrifuges. Because the computers are air-gapped from the internet, however, they cannot be reached directly by the remote attackers. So the attackers have designed their weapon to spread via infected USB flash drives. To get Stuxnet to its target machines, the attackers first infect computers belonging to five outside companies that are believed to be connected in some way to the nuclear program. The aim is to make each “patient zero” an unwitting carrier who will help spread and transport the weapon on flash drives into the protected facility and the Siemens computers. Although the five companies have been referenced in previous news reports, they’ve never been identified. Four of them are identified in this excerpt.” [Wired]

“Is there a problem between Israel and the Democratic Party?” A visit with Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) by Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal: “He is not as shy today when I ask him about Israel, and he has visited twice more in recent years – once with an AIPAC (the America Israel Public Affairs Committee) delegation and once with the left-leaning J Street (the self proclaimed pro-Israel, pro-peace organization) of which he is a supporter. Yarmuth says the two tours presented him with starkly different realities. And he doesn’t say this to compliment AIPAC – the problem with AIPAC he says, is that “whatever it does it goes one step too far”. The legislation and the letters of support “demand nothing of Israel” and demand everything “from the Palestinians”. The tours are also too one sided. “Democratic legislators would not tell you on the record what they really think about AIPAC”, he says, “they are afraid”.” [Jewish Journal]

STARTUP NATION: Yoav Zurel’s FeeX sheds light on mutual fund fees [Crain’s] • Israeli company Webydo’s code-free website builder now generates pixel-perfect responsive sites [The Next Web] • Gigya: Israel’s next $1 billion startup? [Haaretz]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Lyondell Basell Trade Looks A Little Less Great After Oil Price Drop [Forbes] • Barry Rosenstein’s Jana Partners & Jeffrey Altman’s Owl Creek among hedge funds suffering significant losses this quarter. [NYPost]

Can the man who reformed Israel’s cellular industry do the same for its banks?: “Former Minister Moshe Kahlon won a name for himself by boosting competition in the cellular industry… As communications minister, he was successful in boosting competition in the cellular service sector, which in turn drove down prices. Customers who at one point were paying between 600 shekels and 700 shekels ($160 to $185) per month are now paying no more than 100 shekels ($26). At this time, as plans are afoot for a new party headed by Kahlon that would have a platform highlighting his experience opening up the cellular market, he has set his sights on the banking sector…Though the challenges are far more substantial than Kahlon has previously faced, the rewards of victory — which could affect economic growth, allocation of resources and, of course, our pension accounts — could far outshine his cellular success.” [Haaretz]

REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: Gary Barnett-led Extell to build 23-story building on Third Avenue [Real Deal] • Joseph and Meyer Chetrit and Miami developer Ari Pearl score big loan for Tides South Beach [Real Deal]

RALPH LAUREN AT 75: “The designer – who many see as the creator of classic modern American style – has truly stamped his mark on the fashion world, and his success has seen the brand grow stronger with every new venture. But life wasn’t always a wealthy one for Lauren. Born Ralph Lifshitz in New York’s Bronx, he was far from living the luxury lifestyle he currently enjoys….From a young age, Lauren showed signs of being both fashion and business minded, selling ties to fellow students at high school and spending his profits and pocket money on suits that set him out from the crowd. Changing his name to Lauren at the age of 16 was not to deny his Jewish roots, Ralph says, but to stop other kids making fun of him.” [BAustralia]

“Recalling Anne Frank, as Icon and Human Being” by Joseph Berger, NY Times: “Eva Schloss, a playmate of Anne Frank’s in Amsterdam whose mother later married Anne’s father, recalls an 11-year-old who hopscotched, shot marbles, gossiped and talked so much her friends nicknamed her “Miss Quack Quack.” Anne also had an intense interest in clothing, boys and Hollywood stars like Deanna Durbin. “When I told her I had an older brother, she said: ‘Oooh. I must come to your apartment and meet him.’ ” Anne was a lively girl who could be something of “a busybody,” Monica Smith said about her young second cousin — and she often had ink stains on her slender fingers. “She was a writer,” said Mrs. Smith, who also remembered that Anne had a generous streak: “She would bring me peanuts. We were not choosy in those days.”” [NYT]

“Q&A with Jay Parker, owner of Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen” by Lisa Fraser, AM New York: “Jay Parker didn’t think he’d be in the family business, but 35 years ago he took over this well-known Kosher deli from this father. At 96-40 Queens Blvd., Ben’s Best takes pride in their hand-made pastramis and corn beef and in their reputation as a go-to spot for dining in, taking out and catering. “We’re deli history,” Parker said. “That’s why we’re still here. It’s a unique product and if you like the product you can only get it in one place.” Two years ago the deli was featured on The Food Network’s “Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives” show and will soon be featured again in an upcoming documentary, “Deli Man.”” [AMNY]

BIRTHDAYS: F*** Cancer Founder and CEO Yael Cohen turns 28… Israeli Minister of Finance Yair Lapid turns 51

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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