Daily Kickoff

Biden’s donor appeal | Eric Garcetti approves of Jerusalem embassy | A Seder for Senators at 30k feet

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden during a campaign rally at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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SCENE LAST NIGHT — Former Vice President Joe Biden attended a private fundraiser hosted by Miami-based developer Michael Adler, who was Biden’s national finance chair in 2008, at the Gables Club Tower in Coral Gables, Florida. Biden was introduced by Adler and his wife, Judy. Michael Adler began by speaking about the riots in Charlottesville, which Biden has said spurred him to run for president, and the need to bring people together. He then introduced Biden as “the next president of the United States.”

Hollywood Donors Love Buttigieg but Will Settle for Biden — by Peter Savodnik: “A Democratic bundler in Beverly Hills wondered if donors were paying too much attention to online activists. ‘The progressive left of the party is very loud, but I don’t think they’re the majority,’ the bundler said. ‘It’s Democrats on social media versus Democrats in real life. Biden is picking up a lot of those people — the Democrats in real life.'” [VanityFair]

HEARD YESTERDAY — During a foreign policy speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Monday, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper discussed his support for Israel.

“I will stand by Israel as our strongest ally in the Middle East and ensure it is safe from aggression by Iran and other neighbors,” Hickenlooper, a 2020 presidential candidate, told the audience. “We do not have to agree with every action of every Israeli government to know the Israeli people deserve real security and that we should reject boycotts, divestments and sanctions on Israel. I support a two-state solution, and I will use America’s leadership to push for a resumption of negotiations for a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Hickenlooper also expressed his willingness to re-enter the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal under certain terms: “I would be willing to consider resuming U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear agreement, but only after working with our allies to include tougher conditions against Iran’s support for regional terror groups, its ballistic missile program, and its long-term ability to pursue a nuclear program.” [JewishInsiderVideo]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in reaction to Trump’s warning towards Iran, tweeted: “Trump, the schoolyard bully, is threatening to take us into another war in the Middle East. Just what we need! But it will not be Trump’s or his billionaire friend’s kids and grandkids who fight and die in that war. It will be working-class kids. No war with Iran!”

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Nearly 400 members of Congress from both the House and Senate called on President Trump to exert American pressure in Syria, underscoring threats to Israel’s security and U.S. interests if Iranian and Russian influence dominate the region and terrorist groups operate with impunity. The letter calls for the president to reaffirm support for Israel, pressure Iran and Russia related to their activities in Syria and increase sanctions on Hezbollah. 

Senators James Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Mike McCaul (R-TX), chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, co-authored the letter. 

While signatures are missing from House Republican leadership — Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-TX), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) — a leadership source said the letter had not been circulated to them in time to sign.

Reached for comment on Scalise’s position on U.S. policy in Syria, his spokeswoman Lauren Fine said the congressman “supports the issues raised and shares these concerns. The security of Israel is of utmost importance to him, and he is confident President Trump shares those concerns as well.” [JewishInsider]

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who signed the letter, tells Jewish Insider that he agrees with the Trump administration’s current approach. “Generally speaking I think we like what we see,” emphasizing a small, strategic military presence and support for Israel.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), also a signatory, tells JI that current U.S. policy doesn’t go far enough. “I think we could do more.”

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized President Trump as lacking a clear strategy in confronting the Islamic Republic of Iran. “We still have not heard any strategy from this administration. The President bluffs about going after Iran,” Senator Coons said. “Taking on Iran militarily is a very challenging prospect. We need to have a serious conversation about the costs, the risks, and the plan. So far there is no plan that I have seen or heard of.” [Video]

DRIVING THE DAY — 
The Trump administration is expected to brief Congress on the situation with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Gen. Joseph Dunford will attend closed-door briefings with both the House and Senate. 

President Trump said in a gaggle with reporters before departing on Marine One to a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Monday that while there’s “no indication” that the U.S. is heading to war with Iran, if Iran targets U.S. interests in the Gulf, “it will be met, obviously, with great force. We’ll have no choice.” 

The president also said he would not reach out to Iran to engage with them over the nuclear program: “If they called, we would certainly negotiate. But that’s going to be up to them. I’d only want them to call if they’re ready. If they’re not ready, they don’t have to bother.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said on Twitter that National Security Adviser John Bolton briefed him on Iran, and urged President Trump to “stand firm.”

Meanwhile, Iran reportedly informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday that it had quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity because the U.S. ended a program allowing it to exchange enriched uranium to Russia for unprocessed yellowcake uranium.

TALK OF THE REGION — Israel and Hamas have reportedly reached a six-month ceasefire agreement. According to Israel’s Channel 12, the deal includes a Hamas obligation to halt violent incidents along the Israel-Gaza border, maintain a buffer zone 300 meters from the border, and end the launching of incendiary balloons at Israeli communities. Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum denied the report, emphasizing that any ceasefire arrangement is dependent on “Israel’s commitment to implement all the understandings.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt lashed out at the Palestinian Authority for boycotting the upcoming ‘economic workshop’ in Bahrain, the unveiling of the economic component of Trump’s peace plan. It was “difficult to understand why the Palestinian Authority would reject a workshop designed to discuss a vision with the potential to radically transform lives and put people on a path toward a brighter future,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “History will judge the Palestinian Authority harshly for passing up any opportunity that could give the Palestinians something so very different, and something so very positive, compared to what they have today.”

Greenblatt tweeted later in the day: “To those falsely claiming our vision is just economic peace: we’ve been clear that the economic vision we present can’t exist without the political component, and the political component can’t succeed without the economic. Don’t believe rumors the plan is only economic. It’s not.”

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon intends to participate at the Bahrain workshop, his spokesman Omri Sheinfeld said on Tuesday.

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Hebron businessman Ashraf Jabari is the first Palestinian to buck the PA’s boycott of the Kushner-led Bahrain summit next month. Jabari announced on Monday that he will participate as the representative of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, a joint Palestinian-Israeli settler group.

Ibrahim Barham, the founder of a Palestinian electronics and engineering company and a member of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, told the Washington Post that he was “surprised” to receive an invitation to the workshop Monday morning from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Thank you very much for inviting us, but we will not go,” he said.

Zahi W. Khouri, a Palestinian-American entrepreneur who owns the Coca-Cola franchise in the West Bank and Gaza, called it offensive to broach investment in the Palestinian economy before addressing the Palestinian people’s national aspirations. “Putting this first is a blatant payoff,” he said.

Walter Russell Mead writes… “Palestinians Need to Get Real About Israel: A well-connected Palestinian I spoke to in Ramallah explained that the one-state option is popular among younger Palestinians in part because they think the Israeli state is better-governed than the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority—with better administration, less corruption and more responsiveness to public opinion. They would like some of that good governance for themselves.” [WSJ]

Jordanian Prince Hassan bin Talal told Globe and Mail that Trump’s moves over the past year — relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, cutting off funding to Palestinian refugees and recognizing Israel’s rule over the Golan Heights — opens the way for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank. “Look at the context. There were three initiatives announced. There’s almost the writing on the wall, if it was needed, saying ‘The occupied territories will also be annexed,’” he said. Hassan further warned that Trump’s peace plan could encourage those who favor armed resistance.“The less convincing the political offer is, the more grist there is to their particular mill, the more justification for their continuing to resist,” he said.

Washington Institute’s Rob Satloff urged the administration to scrap the peace plan, telling Politico, “It would be a shame if any American initiative advances the idea or contributes to the idea that a single binational state is the solution for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.”

STATE-SIDE — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti faced some criticism from Israel critics upon his return from the Jewish state on Monday for declaring his support of the U.S. Embassy being moved to Jerusalem.

In an interview with LA Times reporter Noga Tarnopolsky while on a mission to Israel, Garcetti said, “I support the embassy being here. Israel shouldn’t be the only country in the world that can’t determine where its capital will be, but there is usually a process to these things rather than what seems like an overnight, one-sided, partisan move.”

The Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Los Angeles chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace said in a joint statement, “It is highly disturbing that Mayor Garcetti would declare support for such a reckless decision.”

REPORT — A member of the Virginia legislature and former volunteer for Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is connected to multiple antisemitic organizations and is the son of a Hamas fundraiser, the Washington Free Beacon reports. Del. Ibraheem Samirah (D) — who received national coverage this week after alleging harassment for his Muslim faith at a town hall — has supported multiple virulently antisemitic and anti-Israel organizations, once speaking at a Hamas-affiliated conference.

FOR THE RECORD — Al Sharpton’s mea culpa: I should have “done more to heal rather than harm” — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Rev. Al Sharpton publicly acknowledged his role in stoking division during the Crown Heights riots in 1991 in remarks to the Religious Action Center’s Consultation on Conscience conference.

Repeating a similar comment he made during a private event in 2017, which didn’t specifically mention the Crown Heights riots, Sharpton admitted that he could have “done more to heal rather than harm in those differences… The fact is that we all could and should have done more.”

“You cannot fight racism without fighting antisemitism,” he declared.[JewishInsiderVideo]

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) 
joined Jewish community leaders and fellow Councilmembers to speak about a rise in antisemitic incidents in Brooklyn, New York. “There has been a disturbing rise in antisemitic attacks against Jewish New Yorkers. The numbers are alarming and the stories are horrifying. No one, no one should feel unsafe in our city because of their faith,” Johnson said. [PicPic

SCOTUS SCROLL — Justices Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan participated in the inscription of the words ‘Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof’ (Justice, justice you shall pursue) in the Washington Torah, a project of American Friends of Lubavitch headed by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, at the Supreme Court. [Pic]

2020 WATCH  — Rahm Emanuel signs off in Chicago, says Biden is showing ‘discipline’ in 2020 bid… Pete Buttigieg made a South Florida campaign stop on Monday… Buttigieg discussed marriage and faith on the NPR politics podcast… Latest sign of Beto O’Rourke’s flameout: Opposition research requests have ‘died off’… There’s a growing buzz that Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) will challenge Trump as a Libertarian.

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BUSINESS BRIEFS:Legg Mason names Trian Fund Management’s Nelson Peltz to its board [WSJ• Stewart Butterfield’s Slack changed its stock ticker weeks before it’s expected to go public [BusinessInsider• Mansueto taps Zeller president Ari Glass to run real estate venture [CrainsChicago] • Israel’s Top Cannabis Companies Lost a Combined $307 Million on TASE [Calcalist• Energy giant Shell makes first Israeli investment, backs AI start-up Ravin [JPostTechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT — Stephen Ross Hits Back at Critics of Hudson Yards Project — by Konrad Putzier: “The developer of Hudson Yards accused critics of the 18-million-square-foot mixed-use complex in Manhattan of creating an atmosphere hostile to business that contributed to Amazon’s decision to not open a major corporate campus in New York City. ‘That’s one of the reasons why Amazon’s not here,’ Related Cos.’ Chairman Stephen M. Ross said at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival on Monday. Mr. Ross was responding to critics who have argued that the project, which includes offices, luxury apartments and a shopping mall, is too focused on wealthy customers, a charge he dismissed as ‘newspaper talk’ and ‘politicians trying to make an example of things.’” [WSJ]

Billionaires sail into Cannes on mega-yachts for film festival — by Mara Siegle: “Billionaires sailed into Cannes for the French film festival. David Geffen’s $200 million Rising Sun has been seen near Antibes, and boats of Russian rich guys — Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse and Alisher Usmanov’s Dilbar — have also been spotted.” [PageSix]

ENTERTAINMENT — Israeli Shows ‘The Baker and the Beauty,’ ‘The Stylist’ Set for Indian Versions on Viu — by Nyay Bhushan: “Israeli rom-com formats from Keshet International, The Baker and the Beauty and The Stylist, are set for Indian adaptations on OTT service Viu, owned by Hong Kong-based telecom group PCCW. Both shows originally aired on Keshet 12 in Israel while The Baker and the Beauty also saw a U.S. version on ABC, the fourth such licensing deal for the show. The original Hebrew version was also streamed worldwide on Amazon Prime.” [HollywoodReporter]

Magazine Writers Are Cashing In on Peak TV — by Lucas Shaw: “As a peripatetic writer for national magazines, David Kushner has traveled to some far-flung destinations… Recently, Kushner’s work has required that he make frequent return trips to a less exotic locale—Hollywood. Since optioning the rights to his first book, Masters of Doom, in 2003, Kushner has sold 15 projects to different entertainment studios, including the British Broadcasting Corp., the boutique movie studio A24, and Netflix. Last winter, Kushner sold the streaming service Hulu the rights to turn his past stories into TV shows and to have the first look at any of his new projects. Executives at Hulu are now sifting through Kushner’s magazine oeuvre to see what could make for a distinctive series, assuming anything is left.” [Bloomberg]

PROFILE — This Jewish woman organized a seder for 9 senators at 30,000 feet over Vietnam — by Ron Kampeas: 
“Jill Cooper Udall, who is married to Tom Udall, a Democrat and the senior senator from New Mexico, waved the 25 or so people on the aircraft into the cabin at the plane’s center. Those who could not squeeze in spilled into the aisles leading into the cabin of the plane flying from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City. Among them were nine senators, from both parties, on a mission to further reconciliation more than 40 years after the end of a war that devastated Vietnam and the United States. She distributed printouts of the two-page Haggadah (front and back of a single sheet) she had prepared and began reading… ‘I was definitely the only Jewish person on the plane,’ Cooper Udall, who attends services at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, told JTA. ‘It was important to me to share’ Passover. ‘And that they cared.'” [JTA]

ACROSS THE SEA — Jewish life in Budapest is enjoying a renaissance  — by Adam LeBor: “Jewish life in Budapest is enjoying a renaissance. Schools, community centers, social and welfare organizations and synagogues catering for all levels of observance are flourishing. Estimates of the numbers vary. Depending on definitions there may be between 100,000 and 200,000 Hungarian Jews, or people with Jewish ancestry, the vast majority living in Budapest — one of the largest communities in Europe… Budapest hosts several Jewish cultural festivals each year — one at the end of May — as well as film and food festivals. District VII, the old Jewish quarter, is now a hipster enclave. This year, our daughter Hannah will compete as a fencer in the European Maccabi Games in the city. Three thousand athletes are expected to compete in the games, supported by the government, part of the great historical tradition of Hungarian Jewish athletes.” [FinancialTimes]

German Holocaust archive puts millions of documents online: 
“The International Tracing Service in Germany has uploaded more than 13 million documents from Nazi concentration camps, including prisoner cards and death notices, to help Holocaust researchers and others investigate the fate of victims.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Leah Sarna of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation writes… “My Chicago Synagogue Was Firebombed—But We’re Not Leaving: In our synagogue, 20-year-olds sit next to 70-year-olds every week. Republicans and Democrats share pleasant conversation, perhaps agreeing on various areas of synagogue policy or learning from one another in Torah study… In a polarized world, our synagogue stands out as a model of what living around other people can be… And so we will defiantly continue to gather. In our synagogue, behind the stained-glass windows that the arsonist failed to break, we will come together to worship and study and grow.” [TheAtlantic]

TRANSITION — In Trump’s New York, a Republican Rebellion Leads to a Change in Leadership — by Jesse Mckinley and Vivian Wang: 
“The last time New York’s Republican Party won a race for statewide office, Andrew M. Cuomo’s political career was a mess… That was in 2002. Since then, Democrats have won every statewide election… For many party faithful, something had to change. On Monday, that shake-up took place as the party’s longtime chairman, Edward F. Cox, agreed to step aside in the face of a growing rebellion by county chairs, particularly in the more conservative areas in upstate New York… Mr. Cox announced his departure in tandem with ‘an important new opportunity,’ working with Trump’s re-election campaign. He will lead fund-raising efforts in New York.” [NYTimes

DESSERT — Rokhat Kosher Bakery in Rego Park, the bakery that brings Bukhara to Queens: “Located in New York’s biggest and most culturally diverse borough, this bakery is a little slice of Central Asia. It was founded by brothers Roshiel and Rafael Samekhov, who immigrated from Uzbekistan to the United States in 1992. The brothers are part of Uzbekistan’s ancient and oft-persecuted Bukharan Jewish community… Bakers at Rokhat use a traditional Central Asian tanoor oven to cook their breads, including a walk-in tanoor the size of an industrial refrigerator.” [AtlasObscura]

BIRTHDAYS: Former MLB pitcher, he was an MLB All Star in 1961 and 1962, Barry Latman turns 83… Former US Senator from Minnesota, he was previously a comedian, actor and writer, Al Franken turns 68… Guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot turns 65… Chief rabbi of Mitzpe Yericho and dean of Hara’ayon Hayehudi yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer turns 64… Hedge fund manager, CEO of the Boston-based Baupost Group, Seth Klarman turns 62… Bestselling author, staff writer at The New Yorker and legal analyst at CNN, Jeffrey Toobin turns 59… Actress and playwright/ Lisa Edelstein turns 53… Head of Dewey Square’s sports business practice, author and former AP journalist, Frederic J. Frommer turns 52… President and CEO of the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation, Darin McKeever turns 45…

University Chaplain for NYU and executive director of NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, he was appointed in 2019 as the non-resident chief rabbi of the United Arab Emirates, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna turns 41… Director of global civic engagement and strategy at electric scooter firm Bird, he is also the CEO of Relativity Global, Brandon Pollak turns 39… Professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, his primary areas of research are quantum computing and computational complexity theory, Scott Joel Aaronson, Ph.D. turns 38… Departing executive producer of CBS Evening News, Mosheh Oinounou turns 37… Los Angeles-born, raised in Israel, international fashion model for Versace and others, Sharon Ganish turns 36… Ron Solomon