Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: WeWork hit with critical press coverage | Sen. Carper cites ACLU for why he’s not co-sponsoring anti-BDS bill | Rabbi’s Tinder Match

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IRAN DEAL: “Tillerson Assures Trump Administration Won’t Block European Trade With Iran” by Felicia Schwartz: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration isn’t seeking to disrupt European business deals with Iran. “The president’s been pretty clear that it’s not his intent to interfere with business deals that the Europeans may have under way with Iran,” Mr. Tillerson said in a Thursday interview in his State Department office. “He’s said it clearly: ‘That’s fine. You guys do what you want to do.’ … Tillerson said most U.S. business activity remains prohibited by sanctions that weren’t waived as part of the deal, but Mr. Trump is “not trying to interfere with what businesses want to do.” [WSJ]

“Tillerson Faults Saudi-Led Bloc for Failing to End Qatar Crisis” by Nick Wadhams: “There seems to be a real unwillingness on the part of some of the parties to want to engage,” Tillerson said in an interview Thursday in Washington. “It’s up to the leadership of the quartet when they want to engage with Qatar because Qatar has been very clear — they’re ready to engage.” Tillerson made the comment days before he embarks on a trip to the region, including stops in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in a renewed push to resolve the dispute… “I do not have a lot of expectations for it being resolved anytime soon,” Tillerson said.” [Bloomberg]

“Netanyahu lobbies world powers to stem Iraqi Kurd setbacks” by Dan Williams: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lobbying world powers to prevent further setbacks to Iraqi Kurds as they lose ground to Baghdad’s army, Israeli officials say. A Netanyahu government official, who declined to be named, given the sensitivity of Israel-Kurdish ties, suggested Israel had security interests in Kurdistan, given its proximity to Israel‘s enemies in Tehran and Damascus.” [Reuters]

HEARD YESTERDAY — CIA Director Mike Pompeo at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) National Security Summit: “It has been far too inexpensive for the Iranians to conduct this adventurism. We should raise the cost of that… I think we could make it even more difficult to push back against these non-nuclear activities I think is something the president is intent on doing.” Pompeo refused to proclaim Iran has violated the terms of the nuclear deal on a technical level, but asserted, “The notion that the deal would curtail Iranian adventurism or their terror threat or their malignant behavior has now… two years on, proven to be fundamentally false.” 

National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, who also spoke at the summit, insisted that if Congress fails to pass legislation to strengthen the pressure on Iran, Trump will “absolutely” terminate the deal. “This is a gift that gives over time to Iran… There’s the fundamental flaw of the sunset clause.”[Video]

ON THE HILL — Sen. Carper cites ACLU objections as motivation for declining to co-sponsor Anti-Boycott Act — by Aaron Magid: With the Israel Anti-Boycott Act receiving considerable attention on Capitol Hill, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) revealed that the American Civil Liberty Union’s “legitimate concerns” led him to decline to co-sponsor the bill. “I have not co-sponsored the legislation,” the Delaware lawmaker told Jewish Insider. “The ACLU raises some serious concerns about free speech and possible violations of free speech, and those concerns were part of the reason why a number of us chose not to co-sponsor the legislation.”

A co-sponsor of the legislation, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) explained that there will be changes to the measure. “There are some things that we can do with the bill to clarify language and I think Senator Cardin is working on it. The bill will evolve and there will be changes in the language. That’s part of the process, people are having input in it,” he said.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT): “Many of us who have concerns have been talking with Ben (Cardin) and his team a lot about it. I am hopeful we can work through any concerns about the bill,” he said. “I have not made a decision to oppose it. I am not a co-sponsor of it. I think we can make it better. I am not going to negotiate it in public with him (Cardin). I am sure that I don’t completely agree with the ACLU.” [JewishInsider]

STATE-SIDE: “This Texas town offers hurricane relief — if your politics are right” by Kyle Swenson: “The city of Dickinson, Tex., located about 30 miles southeast of Houston, recently posted applications online for relief grants “from the funds that were generously donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund,” the city’s website says. The application, however, includes a provision requiring applicants to promise not to boycott Israel… The text reads: “By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.” The city attorney… told a local television station he was only following a state law forbidding state agencies from doing business with Israel boycotters.” [WashPost]

PEACE PROCESS: “U.S. Sees Palestinian Unity as a Step Toward Mideast Peace” by David Halbfinger: “Notably, Israeli statements on the Palestinian reconciliation effort, including Mr. Netanyahu’s latest, appear to leave narrow but perceptible wiggle room for reaching an accommodation… Still, Mr. Greenblatt’s presence in Egypt on Thursday suggested that the United States sees the Fatah-Hamas talks as a chance, however slim, to at least move Hamas in the direction of disarming and embracing the peace process.” [NYTimes

“Netanyahu’s strategy to avoid negotiations” by Shlomi Eldar: “A senior Palestinian diplomatic source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that Netanyahu’s moves were obvious and that Abbas said as much to his American guests. “[Netanyahu] waited for an opportunity to stifle the American initiative. We saw this a long time ago,” the source said.” [AlMonitor]

“Hamas leader vows to ‘erase’ Israel instead of recognizing it” by Daniel Siryoti: “The time has passed for us to discuss whether Hamas will recognize Israel,” Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar said in a meeting with students on Thursday, adding, “now we are discussing when we will erase Israel.” … In addition, Hamas official Basel Naim said “there is no room for American intervention in internal Palestinian matters.” [IsraelHayom]

U.S-ISRAEL RELATIONS: “Former Mossad chief: US leaks of Israeli intel not fatal to relationship” by Joe Uchill: “Tamir Pardo, the former director of Mossad, said that recent intelligence leaks would not have substantially hampered his relationship with his counterparts in the United States. “We don’t have any other choice,” Pardo told The Hill.” [TheHill]

“Israeli lawmakers walk out of summit amid anti-Israel onslaught” by Stuart Winer: “A delegation of Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday stormed out of the Inter-Parliament Union assembly in Saint Petersburg, Russia, including being heckled while trying to speak at the event… A video circulated on social media showed the speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, shouting at the Israeli MKs that they were “child killers” and to “get out of the hall” after one of them addressed the summit. The delegation was then seen leaving the room.” [ToI

MEANWHILE IN DC, TRUMP WEST WING GRACES KUWAITI AMBASSADOR — according to Politico Playbook: “Spotted at a dinner last night in honor of Melania Trump at the Kuwaiti ambassador’s residence where the first lady received an award from the Kuwait-America Foundation in an evening benefiting UNHCR: President Trump and Melania Trump, hosts Ambassador Salem al-Sabah and Reema al-Sabah, MC James Rosen, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Michael Haley, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Louise Linton, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Hilary Ross, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, HR and Katie McMaster, Gary and Lisa Cohn, Dina Powell and David McCormick, Jordanian Amb. Dina Kawar, Wayne and Lea Berman, David Rubenstein.” [Playbook]

BUSH, OBAMA SPEAK UP: “George W. Bush: Bigotry and white supremacy are ‘blasphemy’ against the American creed” by Maegan Vazquez: “Our identity as a nation, unlike other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. … This means that people from every race, religion, ethnicity can be full and equally American,” [former President George W. Bush] said during remarks at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City. “It means that bigotry and white supremacy, in any form, is blasphemy against the American creed.” He added that “bigotry seems emboldened,” though he didn’t explain why.” [CNN] • Obama Condemns ‘Politics of Division’ at Murphy Rally [Observer

2020 WATCH: “John Kasich Is Meeting With Foreign Policy Experts And Keeping His 2020 Options Open” by Henry Gomez: “The Republican governor of Ohio met privately Thursday with several national security and foreign policy experts… The sources… described the discussions in Columbus as the first in a series of meetings on domestic and foreign policy and aimed at keeping Kasich current in global affairs.” [BuzzFeed]

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SPOTLIGHT — No ‘Tech’ Giant Appears To Be Immune From Critical Press: “WeWork: A $20 Billion Startup Fueled by Silicon Valley Pixie Dust” by Eliot Brown: “With a valuation of more than $20 billion, or about 20 times annualized revenue, Adam Neumann‘s WeWork is the fourth most valuable U.S. startup… Others in the real-estate industry and some Silicon Valley investors say the company’s well-crafted image belies the mundane nature of its business. IWG PLC, an office-leasing company with a business model similar to WeWork’s, manages five times the square footage and has about one-eighth the market value. “If you had positioned this as a real-estate company, it wouldn’t be worth this,” said Barry Sternlicht, who runs Starwood Capital Group LLC. Mr. Neumann “dressed it up and made it into a community, and that turned it into a tech play.”

“At 6 feet 5 inches with a mop of dark hair, Mr. Neumann stands out in a crowd of suit-clad commercial landlords in New York… Multiple people who traveled overseas with him say he insisted they stay up the whole night working. “I don’t think he ever sleeps,” said Michael Eisenberg, an early WeWork investor and an adviser to Mr. Neumann who currently is a partner at venture-capital fund Aleph… Joel Schreiber, a Manhattan-based real-estate investor, said he was captivated by Mr. Neumann and his vision early on. After a three-hour conversation in 2010, the entrepreneurs offered him a 33% stake in WeWork for $15 million. “I didn’t negotiate—I said yes,” Mr. Schreiber said. “I loved Adam’s energy.”

“The CEO makes his penchant for tequila well-known. On a Monday morning in Philadelphia a few years ago, he coaxed Jared Kushner into a bar where he insisted they do shots of tequila, according to multiple people familiar with the exchange. The two had been looking at a Kushner-owned property that WeWork ended up leasing.” [WSJ]

“Deal Hurdles for WeWork: Neumann’s Style and Rich Stock Price” by Alfred Lee: “The Information spoke to executives and advisers at four companies who have discussed acquisitions with WeWork but said they declined to sell their companies. Three cited the high value of WeWork stock as a concern. Two of the four also cited Mr. Neumann’s approach during negotiations.” [TheInformation]

TALK OF THE NATION: “Digital Fascism: Anti-PC Idol-Smashing Isn’t Just a Joke” by Jacob Siegel and Angela Nagle: “The failure to see trolling for what it was, in its germinative form on 4Chan and other message boards, and in Yiannopoulos’ opportunistic appropriation, was a collapse of moral and political imagination across the spectrum. Progressives in thrall to transgressive signaling and rule-breaking praised the nascent alt-right for “fighting the power. Liberals who couldn’t imagine that trolls might be otherwise regular people who used lulz to indulge an appetite for cruelty and the irrational and vent sincere but unspeakable desires. Conservatives desperate to take back culture from the liberals, and libertarians who’d accept any allies in the battle against PC, invited Yiannopolous and others like him into their midst, who then in turn left the side door open for neo-Nazis and white nationalists. They all had a part to play in bringing us here.” [Tablet]

“At Richard Spencer’s Florida Rally, Protesters Drive Out the Alt-Right, One by One” by James Laporta: “The lecture by Spencer (at the University of Florida) would once again bring out into the open a live-action version of Internet chat rooms: full of bigotry, anonymous Twitter profiles, sporting, “Pepe the Frog” bio pictures, and modern-day white supremacists. It would be Spencer’s first planned speech on a college campus since the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.” [DailyBeast

DISPATCH FROM JERUSALEM: “White Evangelicals Used to Dominate Christian Zionism, but Not Anymore” by Emma Green: “While some Christian Zionist movements can seem actively hostile toward Jews… [2017 Feast of the Tabernacles] attendees were wary of saying that Jews should convert… At the Jerusalem March, Jewish families stood at the edge of a holding area for participants, watching men in traditional Thai costumes blowing shofars and crowds of Finnish tourists singing Jewish folk songs. They weren’t bothered. “It’s cute,” said Rivka Horowitz, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman who visits the Feast every year with her family. If they were bemused at the whole spectacle, they also saw its advantages. “Usually we have rocks thrown at us,” her husband, Zev, added. “Today, we’re being thrown candy.” [TheAtlantic]

“A Rabbi Finds Love on Tinder” by Alix Strauss: “A rabbi anxiously walked into a bar. Andrew Scheer, the rabbi in question, was about to have a first date with Avital Zipper. Mr. Scheer’s vocation was frequently a deal breaker once a woman learned of it. Rabbi Scheer, 31, who is Modern Orthodox, grew up in Woodmere, N.Y., and is a Jewish chaplain for the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System and the New York City Department of Correction. . After trying JSwipe, JCrush, JDate, even OkCupid, Rabbi Scheer seemed to have found success on Tinder. That’s when Ms. Zipper, 30, popped up on his phone, and the app showed they had five mutual friends. “He was 29 when we met and my settings started at 30, so I never would have seen his profile,” Ms. Zipper said. “We never would have met if he didn’t send me a message request… I had no idea he was a rabbi… He’s not that random banker or millennial worker who’s doing his own thing.”” [NYTimes]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Economist who earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” during his tenure as the chief economist at Salomon Brothers during the 1970s, Henry Kaufman, Ph.D. turns 90… Poet, essayist and literary critic, Robert Pinsky turns 77… Miami Beach-based real estate developer, Russell W. Galbut turns 65… Music composer for many films, winner of six Grammys and an Emmy Award, Thomas Newman turns 62… Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Katamon area, Rabbi Binyamin (Benny) Lau turns 56… Russian TV and radio journalist, he is a member of the Russian Jewish Congress, Vladimir Solovyov turns  54… United States Senator from Hawaii, following 8 years as a Congressman and two years as Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Brian Schatz turns 45… Classical violinist and a 2008 winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Leila Josefowicz turns 40… Senior advisor to Massachusetts State Senator Eric P. Lesser, Michael Clark turns 28… 2016 Columbia Law grad, now an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Evan G. Zuckerman turns 28…

SATURDAY: Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu turns 68… Emmy Award winning reality courtroom personality, “Judge Judy,” Judith Sheindlin turns 75… News anchor who worked for 36 years in Philadelphia, Larry Kane (born Lawrence Kanowitz) turns 75… Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard University, Shaye J. D. Cohenturns 69… Director of policy and government relations at Health Care For All, Brian Rosman turns 59… Philanthropist and Detroit Jewish community leader, Ethan Daniel Davidson… Russian born classical composer and pianist, emigrated to NYC at four years old, a graduate of Julliard, Lera Auerbach turns 44… Non-profit manager previously at Soaringwords and Areivim Philanthropic Group, Dori Tenenbaum turns 31… Director of Data and Evaluation at NCSY and the Orthodox Union, Dan Hazony turns 30… Jerusalem Fellow at the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought, Eliana Rudee turns 26… Mitch Davis

SUNDAY: Australian philanthropist and Chairman of Westfield Corporation, owner of shopping malls across the globe, Frank Lowy turns 87… Founder and national director of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) of the Orthodox Union, he then served for close to twenty years as the EVP of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Pinchas Stolper turns 86… EVP and chief professional officer of the Orthodox Union since 2014, he was previously chairman of NYC-based law firm Proskauer Rose, Allen Fagin turns 68… Actor who starred in many high-grossing films such as Jurassic Park, Independence Day and sequels of both of those, Jeff Goldblum turns 65… Washington insider, political pundit and communications consultant,Hilary Rosen turns 59… Bethesda, MD resident and AIPAC staffer (not the Hillel president), Eric Matthew Fingerhut turns 47… Chief of Staff of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Michelle Gordonturns 46… VP in the NYC office of West End Strategy Team, Samantha Kupferman turns 34… Director of institutional advancement for NCSY’s Atlantic Seaboard region, Dana Tarley Sicherman turns 32… Journalist and writer, he covered New York City Hall and national politics for the New York Observer (2013-2016), now running for NY State Senate from  New York City, Ross Barkan turns 28… Reporter for The Jewish Journal and Tribe Media, Ryan Torok

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