Daily Kickoff: How Bennett plans to give Bibi a headache with Washington | Kushner bets on Obamacare in the Trump Era | Inside Israel’s Female Prison
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COMING SOON — FRIDAY NIGHT IN ASPEN: For the second year in a row, Jewish Insider is partnering with OneTable and The Paul E. Singer Foundation to host a Friday night dinner on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival. The dinner, two weeks from today on June 30th, will also feature an upscale Israeli and California wine tasting from our own Yitz Applbaum. The dinner is open to all – whether you’re 25 or 65, we’ve got a seat at the table for you. RSVP Here [OneTable]
STATE VISIT: “Montana, Brown and Staubach give Israeli football huge boost” by Aron Heller: “Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Roger Staubach and Mike Singletary were among the 18 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who arrived for a weeklong visit to the Holy Land to meet some of the 2,000 active players in Israel’s various leagues and to learn about the growth of gridiron in the country. Scores of young players, fans and officials erupted upon the arrival of the delegation, a group donning their signature gold Hall of Fame jackets that included Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter, Dave Casper, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, “Mean” Joe Greene, Willie Lanier, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith and John Stallworth. The mission was organized by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has been sponsoring the sport in Israel since it was launched in 1999.” [ABCNews]
Tzipi Livni tweets: “Met with a delegation of football Hall of Famers led by Robert Kraft. Talked to them about Israel, its challenges & opportunities for peace.” [Twitter]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Bipartisan backing builds for Taylor Force Act — by Aaron Magid: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told an audience at the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Leadership Mission to DC yesterday that he “feels so strongly” about the Taylor Force Act. “If the President is unable to get Palestinians to cease these payments, Congress is going to act,” Schumer said. “We must end the practice of Palestinians rewarding those who kill Jews,” announced Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “We are working very hard with our colleague Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who sponsored the Taylor Force Act, to define it in a way that meets that goal but doesn’t undermine in some respects the potential challenges that the state of Israel has.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) reiterated his enthusiasm for the legislation. “We need to bring it up. We need to vote on it. We need to pass it,” he said.
However, some Democrats expressed skepticism. Senator Jeanne Shaheen(D-NH) emphasized, “I am not sure that it’s in anyone’s interest to cut off assistance to the Palestinian Authority.” Supporting the spirit of the bill, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) was concerned about the potential fallout of a complete cut-off. “To the extent that it is a targeted way to remove financial support for the despicable practice of providing bonuses for the families of suicide bombers or terrorists, I will support that. To the extent that it is overly broad and cuts off all assistance to all Palestinian entities, I don’t think that’s in the security interest of Israel or the Palestinian Authority,” he said. [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET — How Bennett plans to give Bibi a headache with Washington — by Tal Shalev: Against the backdrop of right wing discontent with the limitations placed upon settlement construction, the Jewish Home party is planning another move. This move could eventually turn into a trap for Netanyahu, and put him between his electoral base and the US administration. In two weeks’ time, Naftali Bennett intends to propose a new bill, which will require a special majority of 80 MKs in order to change or amend the Basic law of Jerusalem. This law was originally passed by the Knesset in 1980. The law provides that Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel and states that no portion of the city will be transferred to any foreign entity. The amendment, if passed, would make any possibility of dividing parts of the city and transferring them to Palestinian rule practically impossible, and could also terminate any possibility of holding a referendum on the matter.
The question of Jerusalem is a consensus issue among the coalition parties. Bennett believes that the coalition memebers, even the PM himself, will find it very hard to oppose the bill. Especially since Netanyahu is a signatory on an identical bill from 2007, which was initiated by Likud’s Gideon Saar but failed to advance under Ehud Olmert’s coalition. The Jewish Home party wisely copied Saar’s bill, which was also signed by President Rubi Rivlin, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who were all at the time Likud opposition MKs. However, as the US administration is attempting to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the bill essentially aborts the ability to even discuss the status of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, and could prompt the Palestinians to strong reactions. A senior political source told Kafe Knesset that this bill could turn into “a big political hot potato,” as the US might pressure Netanyahu to lay off while his political base and party will be pushing in the opposite direction.
Bennett told Kafe Knesset today that this is a “strategic move” and that he intends to push the legislation in the current Knesset session. “The Trump era is an opportunity to fortify Jerusalem and to ensure that it is the heart of the Jewish people and, as such, is undividable. This bill is aimed at preventing any future situation in which a specific political constellation could lead to dividing Jerusalem. 50 years ago we united Jerusalem and today we need to promise that it will never be divided again.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog charged that “Bennett with his own hands is destroying the chances for peace and any process. He is not concerned about the fate of Jerusalem, but only wants destruct the prospect of a political settlement which would secure Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER: “Israel’s UN Envoy Urges Likud Officials: Press Netanyahu to Extend My Term” by Barak Ravid: “Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, has recently asked senior aides of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend his term from three to four years, but received a cool, evasive response, Likud officials said… The cabinet’s decision on his appointment stipulates that he will serve three years, until August 2018, with an option of extending the term for a fourth year. Likud officials said Danon had believed until a few weeks ago that elections in Israel would be held earlier than scheduled and planned to end his term as soon as Likud primary elections were announced… When he realized elections will be held only in 2019, he asked to extend his term to enable him to run in the Likud primaries, as a UN ambassador rather than as a private citizen, they said.” [Haaretz]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Special counsel is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings” by Sari Horwitz, Matt Zapotoskyand Adam Entous: “Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election… “We do not know what this report refers to,” said Jamie Gorelick, a lawyer for Kushner. “It would be standard practice for the Special Counsel to examine financial records to look for anything related to Russia. Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about Russia-related matters. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.” [WashPost] • Why Is Robert Mueller Probing Jared Kushner’s Finances? [TheAtlantic]
“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warns against anonymous sources” by Ryan W. Miller: “Rosenstein told Americans Thursday to be “skeptical” about stories with anonymous sources. “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated,” Rosenstein said in a statement… Although Rosenstein’s statement Thursday does not mention any specific story, the warning comes the same day as a Washington Post story citing an anonymous source reported that Mueller was investigating the business dealings of the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Many on social media were quick to call Rosenstein’s statement “bizarre” and “unusual.”” [USAToday]
Trump tweets: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” [Twitter]
Leaks against Trump are hurting Israel — by Elliott Abrams: “I don’t know whether the President’s disclosure [to the Russians] infuriated Israelis, but I know that the NYTimes’s unprincipled and irresponsible disclosure damaged not only Israel but our own safety. It helped ISIS… That leak, and the decision of the Times to print the story, endanger Israeli security, and American security. To what end? What is achieved?” [Newsweek]
ON THE HILL — The Senate overwhelmingly passed the new Iran sanctions bill targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program by a 98-2 vote. The bill includes new sanctions on Russia and adds new powers for Congress to block President Donald Trump from rolling back any sanctions against the Russian government.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who along with Republican Rand Paul were the only Senators to oppose the sanctions bill, said: “I have voted for sanctions on Iran in the past, and I believe sanctions were an important tool for bringing Iran to the negotiating table,” Sanders said in a statement. “But I believe that these new sanctions could endanger the very important nuclear agreement… That is not a risk worth taking, particularly at a time of heightened tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its allies.”
Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced new bipartisan legislation yesterday to bolster Israel’s efforts to detect, map, and eliminate tunnels used by Hamas. The United States-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act would authorize $47.5 million for the Department of Defense to carry out research, development, testing, and evaluation of anti-tunnel capabilities on a joint basis with Israel. Schneider recently introduced bipartisan legislation that requires the administration to consult with Israel on any future regional arms sales to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge in the region.
“Qatar says fighter jets deal shows deep U.S. support” by Tom Finn: “A $12 billion deal to buy U.S. F-15 fighter jets shows Qatar has deep-rooted support from Washington, a Qatari official said on Thursday, despite President Donald Trump’s repeated accusations that Doha supports terrorism… “This is of course proof that U.S. institutions are with us but we have never doubted that,” a Qatari official in Doha said… In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman said the United States continued to work with Qatar and other governments in the region and the planes deal had been years in the making.” [Reuters]
Why Trump Should Stand Down in the Gulf Crisis — by Dov Zakheim: “Washington should impress upon the Saudis and Emiratis not to humiliate the Qataris to the point where GCC-wide defense cooperation becomes a non-starter. Doha must be allowed to save face…. Similarly it may be asking too much to get Doha to break with Iran; Qatar is not the only Gulf state that does business with the Iranians. Instead, the key is to get Doha to stop supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, and other radical groups, whether directly or indirectly through so-called “private” donations.” [FP]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel’s blockchain blockbuster [CNBC] • Swiss entrepreneur seeks Israeli high-tech investments [Globes] • Flush With Cash, Top Quant Funds Stumble [WSJ] • Slack is raising another $500 million — and has attracted interest from a range of big buyers like Amazon [Recode] • Uber Gaffe Is Latest Drama in Storied Career of Billionaire David Bonderman[WSJ]
“Oscar Health and the Cleveland Clinic will offer co-branded health insurance plans in Ohio” by Lydia Ramsey: “Oscar Health, the $2.7 billion health-insurance startup, is going to start offering health insurance plans alongside the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for the first time. Oscar was co-founded by Josh Kushner, whose brother Jared is one of President Donald Trump’s senior advisers. The health insurer originally focused on offering insurance through the Obamacare exchanges. The new plans with the Cleveland Clinic, a 96-year-old academic medical center, will also be offered on the exchanges.” [BI; WashPost] • A Kushner Bets on Obamacare in the Era of Trump [Bloomberg]
“Meet the Wall Street analyst the big media companies love to hate” by Eric Johnson: “Google BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield… is okay with having haters in Hollywood and much of the big-media landscape… “Nobody ever likes when you criticize what they’re doing,” he said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “I think some companies are far better at handling criticism than others. Every company is welcome to their own way of running their business, but we’re not going to stop doing what we do.” [Recode]
“David Litt became a speechwriter for President Obama at 24—here’s how he found the confidence to do it” by Catherine Clifford: “I was 24 and he was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and it was just a short stop at the airport, so for people who have been writing speeches for a long time this was not a big deal. For me it was the biggest deal that had ever happened ever, obviously,” says Litt. “It was almost surreal. I was watching on the livestream and it was just this very strange thing where you’re like, ‘I had some of these thoughts and now they are leaving the mouth of President United States.’ … The truth about working in the White House is it’s so stressful and high pressure that if you can make it, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re you know the right age or whatever else,” he says.” [CNBC]
ONGOING DEBATE: Rabbi David Wolpe, the Senior Rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, recently set off an impassioned debate encouraging rabbis to keep politics off the pulpit in the Trump era. “You can love Torah and vote for Trump. You can love Torah and think Trump is a blot on the American system,” Rabbi Wolpe wrote in a June 7th Op-Ed for the Jewish Journal. “What you may not do, if you are intellectually honest, is say that the Torah points in only one political direction… I want to know what my rabbi thinks of Jacob and Rachel, not of Pence and Pelosi.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, responded in an Op-Ed, emphasizing, “The Judaism that I believe in does not limit Torah lessons to the parchment of our Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls), nor to the tables around which we convene for communal Torah study. The Judaism that I live compels me to use those lessons to understand the most urgent challenges we face. And since the beginning of the enlightenment, rabbis of all streams have felt compelled to use the evolving institution of the sermon to bear prophetic witness to pressing societal and communal challenges their congregants faced.”
Rabbi Wolpe wrote a response, reiterating his stance that “using the rabbinate to promote policies is exploiting one form of authority to enforce another.” He added: “As a rabbi, my task is to bless, to teach values and texts and ideas and rituals, to comfort, to cajole, to listen and learn, to grow in spirit along with my congregants, to usher them through the transitions of life, to create a cohesive community, to defend the people and land of Israel, and to reinforce what most matters.” [JewishJournal]
“Whom Have You Brought to Shabbat?” by Daniella J. Greenbaum: “For Jews like [Shai] Schmidt—respectful of tradition but personally unobservant—there are relatively few substitutes (for Shabbat dinner). But Aaron Kaplowitz and Shimon Shmooely hope to change that with a series of dinners called “+1” that they have begun hosting in New York. For the first dinner on March 10, the two 30-somethings invited 18 guests from across the religious, professional and social spectra. These 18 were then asked to invite someone to the next dinner. The pattern will repeat each time, culminating in a fifth and final dinner for 288 attendees later this year… At the first one, billionaire philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, whose foundation provided funds for the first two dinners, spoke about her focus on Jewish continuity and pluralism… At the second dinner, Ambassador Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, fielded questions about his personal political views and the current policies of the government in Jerusalem.” [WSJ]
“Inside Israel’s Only Female Prison” by Tom Seymour: “There are just 200 women in prison in the Holy Land. And they’re all in one place – Neve Tirza. Situated in Ramla, not far from Tel Aviv, and first opened in 1968, Neve Tirza is a small, dilapidated and dangerously overcrowded place. The size of most of the cells is 13 square metres, including a toilet and shower. Each cell is home to around six women, who often share their sleeping space, either out of choice or necessity. Israeli photographer Tomer Ifrah was sent to Neve Tirza, back in 2013, to take a portrait of a prisoner for an Israeli magazine. Seeing the potential for a larger project, he found the prison warden’s office, knocked on her door, and negotiated further access. Over repeated visits, Ifrah has now taken more than 500 images from within the prison, as part of the joint Israeli/Palestinian photography project Frames Of Reality. The women in Neve Tirza are not separated by beliefs or ethnicity. Jewish and Muslim women share cells, showers, food and beds, alongside women of all kinds of ethnic and national identities.” [Refinery29]
TRANSITIONS — Global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) announced yesterday the promotions of four members of its investing team. Andrew Schoen has been promoted to Principal. [NEA]
UCLA Jewish history professor hired as Center for Jewish History CEO: David Myers, the Sady and Ludwig Kahn professor of Jewish history at UCLA, has been named CEO and president of the Center for Jewish History in New York City. The museum is a collaborative home for five partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society; American Sephardi Federation; Leo Baeck Institute; Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. [JewishJournal]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — in Los Angeles: Israel’s Consul General just moved into his new digs in Los Angeles, and hosted his first event: a Muslim iftar, or break fast meal. “Thank you for helping us open up our home for the first time,” said Consul General Sam Grundwerg. “I think it’s really making a statement.” Grundwerg welcomed about 50 guests to hear a panel discussion on tolerance and Muslim-Jewish relations with basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabar, music impresario Russell Simmons, Mohammed Khan, Director of Interfaith Outreach at King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, and New York Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
Following the discussion, the Muslim guests broke the day-long Ramadan fast with dates and juice as consular officials and Grundwerg’s wife Julia cleared chairs and laid down a large rug. About a dozen of the Muslim guests then held a prayer service in the consul’s living room. All the guests then joined for a kosher buffet meal in the backyard. SPOTTED: Richard Sandler, Chairman of Jewish Federations of North America; City Councilman Paul Koretz, Homeland and 24 actor Navid Negahban; Mayor Ali Sajjad Taj of Artesia, Howard Rosenman, Jonathan Baruch, Simi Teitlebaum, Imam Jihad Saafir, Rabbi Naomi Levy, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Soraya Deen, founder of the Muslim Women’s Speaker’s Movement, David Suissa and Rob Eshman of TRIBE Media.[Video]
SIGHTING — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is back in New York: Last night, he attended an event for United Hatzalah of Israel at the home of Art and Adina Gerber in Lawrence, New York. [Pic]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Diplomat and attorney, 1965 President of the Harvard Law Review, Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs in the Carter administration, now a UN Special Representative, Matthew Nimetz turns 78… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin, George Akerlof turns 77… Elected in 2015 as a member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi turns 67… Commissioner and then Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (2004-2013), now a partner at the law firm of Davis Polk, Jonathan David (“Jon”) Leibowitz turns 59… Fashion designer, daughter of Reva Schapira,Tory Burch turns 51… Manhattan-born to a rabbinic family, made aliyah in 1993, active in interfaith peace initiatives, Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen (born Genack) turns 50… Principal in the Chicago office of Civitas Public Affairs Group, David Elliot Horwich turns 41… VP for the Economic Program at Third Way, Gabriel Aron (“Gabe”) Horwitz turns 41… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, David Eric Feinman turns 38… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, NJ, he is also a a licensed psychotherapist and outreach coordinator for Project SARAH, a domestic violence prevention program, Rabbi Michael Bleicherturns 33… College basketball and college football reporter at USA Today, Nicole Auerbach turns 28… Member of the United States Ski Team’s alpine skiing program, Jared Goldberg turns 26… Shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and the qualifier round in 2016, Scott Burcham turns 24… Editor-in-Chief for the international news channel i24News bureau in Washington, Mounira Al Hmoud… Menora Levitsky… Michael Warner… Michael Freund…
SATURDAY: Assistant to the President for Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives in the Trump administration, Reed Cordish turns 43… Talent manager and music business mogul, he owns two record labels and represents musical artists including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, Scott Samuel “Scooter” Braun turns 36… Chicago-based attorney, author of a treatise on real estate law, he served as an Alderman on the Chicago City Council (1975-1979), Solomon Gutstein turns 83… Lake Worth, Florida resident, Shlomo Nezer turns 70… Croatian entrepreneur, previously the Minister of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship in the Croatian Government (1995-1997), Davor Stern turns 70… Rabbi at Temple Isaiah and the JCC in Palm Springs, CA, previously in congregations in Israel and Stockholm, Rabbi David James Lazar turns 60… Executive of the William Pears Group, a large UK real estate firm founded by his father and grandfather,Trevor Steven Pears (family name was Schleicher) turns 53… Baseball pitcher, a first round pick of the NY Yankees in 2008, he pitched for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and during the qualifier round in 2016, Jeremy Bleich turns 30… Esther Lifshitz… Jeffrey H. Gardyn, DDS… Rachel Hazan…
SUNDAY: Journalist, academic and political figure, active in the Democratic party, she served as US Ambassador to the Netherlands (1978-1981in the Carter administration, Geri M. Joseph turns 94… Binnie Stein turns 78… Attorney, investment banker, film producer, deputy mayor of NYC (1982-1985), EVP of Cushman & Wakefield (2004-2010), commissioner of NY / NJ Port Authority since 2013, Kenneth Lipper turns 76… Owner of Pittsburgh-based Wenkert Healthcare Services, after a long career as a territory sales manager for GlaxoSmithKline (1992-2014), Harry E. Wenkert turns 61… President and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson turns 60… Investment advisor and broker at the Sherman Oaks, California office of Morgan Stanley, Inna N. Zalevsky turns 60… Overland Park, KS resident Kathi Shaivitz Rosenberg turns 58… Director of communications for New York State Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz since 2012, Adrienne M. Knoll turns 57… Moscow-born, Russian activist, member of the executive committee of the World Jewish Congress (1991-1996) and EVP of of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (2001-2008), Valery Engel Ph.D. turns 56… Co-founder of Centerview Partners, a boutique investment bank based in NYC, he hosted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for fundraisers in his Upper East Side Manhattan home, Blair Wayne Effronturns 55… Singer-songwriter, voice actress, dancer, choreographer, actress and television personality, she was a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18, Paula Abdul turns 55… Member of Knesset for the Zionist Union party since 2015, in the 1990s she was a legal advisor to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin turns 47… Founder of JSwipe, a Jewish dating app created in 2014, David Austin Yarus turns 31… Founder and executive director of Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad, which helps Jewish students studying abroad, Alexander Jakubowski turns 25… Jessica Brown…
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