Daily Kickoff

Meet the woman tasked with keeping NYC Jews safe | Tillerson says Bibi “played” Trump | Tennessee football jerseys in Israel

State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before their working dinner at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 14, 2017.

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JI INTERVIEW — The woman tasked with keeping New York’s Jews safe — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Deborah Lauter, executive director of the newly created New York City Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, told Jewish Insider that the city’s Jewish community is living in fear, and she is working on a “multipronged approach” to tackle the problem. 

Mayoral coordination: Lauter, who previously served as the national civil rights director at the Anti-Defamation League, said she had “a very good discussion” with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about her responsibilities. “He was very thoughtful about it and he reiterated that this is a priority for him.”

Growing fear: “I’m very concerned about the level of fear that is in those communities… the mayor is making it clear that all New Yorkers need to feel safe within their communities and that he’s particularly concerned about the antisemitic numbers on the upswing… This wave of antisemitism and level of fear within the community is probably at its peak that I’ve ever seen in the United States.”

Reporting levels: “If we do a really good job at educating all these different groups, the numbers of hate crimes, actually, might go up because the number of reported hate crimes will go up,” she said. “I would love to see the numbers overall come down. I’d like the communities that are feeling the most vulnerable right now to feel assured that we’re working on it. I would love there to be no hate. I mean, I’d love for this office not to have to exist, but we know that’s not reality. But we do believe there are things you can do to mitigate it.” [JewishInsider

TALK OF THE CITY — Orthodox Jews fear being targets of rising antisemitism — by Yon Pomrenze and Jason Carroll: “Akiva Perl, a Crown Heights resident and son of a Holocaust survivor, said he fears a dark period for the Jewish people is repeating itself. ‘Somehow we’re accustomed to it, unfortunately,’ he said. ‘It’s not a shock. It’s just something that repeats itself and hopefully God has his ways and it will be rectified before it gets, heaven forbid, to a terrible situation.’” [CNN]

 Bill de Blasio announced Friday morning that he is dropping out of the presidential race. “I feel like I have contributed all I can to this primary election. It’s clearly not my time, so I’m going to end my presidential campaign,” de Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Outgoing Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt is expected to meet today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Israeli media provided contradictory reports about whether Greenblatt will also be meeting with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. 

Greenblatt is in Israel to attend the wedding of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman’s daughter, according to Channel 12’s Dana Weiss. 

COALITION WRANGLING — President Reuven Rivlin is slated to begin meeting with delegations from each party on Sunday, to determine who to task with building a government coalition. His first meeting will be with representatives from top vote-getter Blue and White, then Likud, the Joint List, Shas and Yisrael Beytenu. On Monday, Rivlin is slated to meet with United Torah Judaism, Yamina, Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Union. 

Final tally: With almost all the votes counted, Blue and White cemented its lead over Likud, with 33 seats compared to 31. Next up is the Joint List with 13, Shas with 9, UTJ and Yisrael Beytenu with 8 each, Yamina with 7, Labor-Gesher with 6 and the Democratic Union with 5. Barring any legal challenges — which are not expected — this should be the final makeup of the 22nd Knesset. 

How it played: The repeated deadlock has left international media — plus locals — somewhat confused about the Israeli political future, and looking more closely at Gantz as a potential successor. The Washington Post asked: “Who is Benny Gantz? The former military chief could be Israel’s next prime minister,” while The Wall Street Journal opined that Gantz would “likely maintain Netanyahu’s foreign policy stance.” 

View from Washington: The WSJ also speculated that the Israeli vote “could yield wins for Democratic consultants and a loss for Trump’s pollster.” Democratic strategist Mark Mellman, who worked for Blue and White, told WSJ he has high hopes for Democrats’ ties to Israel in a post-Netanyahu era: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for Israel to reset its relationship with Democrats.”

TOP TALKER — Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed during a campus talk this week that Netanyahu “played” President Donald Trump.

In an interview at the Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday, the former top diplomat argued that Netanyahu — whom he described as an “extraordinarily skilled” politician — would share “misinformation” in meetings to get the Trump administration on board with his policy goals. “They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that ‘We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys,’” Tillerson charged. “It bothers me that an ally that’s that close and important to us would do that to us,” Tillerson added.

Tillerson’s advice: “In dealing with Bibi, it’s always useful to carry a healthy amount of skepticism in your discussions with him.” 

Tillerson also highlighted his disagreements with senior advisor Jared Kushner over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I did believe that we were at a moment in time where perhaps we could chart a way where the Arab world could support” a plan that was based on the two-state solution,” he said. The former diplomat added that he offered his input to help the White House peace team “identify obstacles or gaps to the [peace] plan to give it the highest chance of success.” 

Bibi shoots back: “Secretary Tillerson, Israel *is* the good guy.” 

DRIVING THE DAY — Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to present Trump with a list of potential targets to strike in Iran during a National Security Council meeting today. 

IRAN WATCH — The U.S. granted visas on Thursday to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week. The move came after Trump’s backing: “I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come,” the president told reporters on Wednesday. 

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Zarif threatened an “all-out war” in the event of a U.S.-led or backed military strike against Iranian targets. “We won’t blink to defend our territory,” he said.

Justice served: Victims of Iran’s global terror network are receiving a portion of more than $28 million in assets following the sale of Iranian properties in Toronto and Ottawa, per a recent Canadian court decision. Plaintiffs include the family of Marla Bennett, an American killed in the 2002 Hebrew University bombing, and Edward Tracy and Joseph Cicippio, who were both held hostage by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, for five years. [JewishInsider]

SCENE IN D.C. — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a tense conversation with a group of senators during a private dinner at the restaurant Ris in downtown Washington on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. The dinner was organized by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Zuckerberg continued with a string of private meetings with Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Thursday. Zuckerberg was accompanied by Facebook’s global policy chief Joel Kaplan. 

The Facebook CEO also met with Trump in the Oval Office.[Pic

CAMPUS BEAT — The U.S. Department of Education blasted a joint Middle Eastern studies program between the University of North Carolina and Duke University for providing a biased curriculum to students. The department ordered UNC’s vice chancellor for research to provide an updated curriculum for the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies (CEMS) by Sunday in order for the program to retain its federal funding.

Written warning: The letter, sent by Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Robert King, warned that the school was potentially in violation of Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Background: The Duke-UNC program came under fire in the spring for a conference titled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities.” Reports indicate that both participants and speakers made antisemitic and anti-Israel remarks — with some of those remarks captured on film. During a performance by Palestinian-Israeli rapper Tamer Nafar, the artist told the crowd, “I can’t be antisemitic alone, try it with me together” and “Think of Mel Gibson. Go that antisemitic.” [JewishInsider]



Bridging the Israeli/American Divide — Join us THIS Sunday, September 22 at the JCC Manhattan for A Wider Bridge’s New York-Israel LGBTQ Symposium. Meet 13 Israeli LGBTQ non-profit executives as we share experiences and challenges advancing equality in Israel and the USA. Panelists include Ambassador Dani Dayan, Christine Quinn, Matthew Nosanchuk, Ritchie Torres, Yehuda Kurtzer. Space is limited. Register now.

Get Featured: Email Comms@JewishInsider.com to inform the JI readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.


2020 BRIEFS — Elizabeth Warren probes Apollo and KKR on backing for-profit colleges… Young voters still ‘Feel the Bern,’ but not just for Bernie Sanders anymore… Jimmy Carter invokes the idea of ‘age limit’ for presidential candidates… Barack Obama, the president Democratic voters don’t want to hear criticized… Marianne Williamson entertained 9/11 conspiracy theories in 2012 interview.  

HEARD YESTERDAY — Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson defended her controversial tweet that suggested that the ‘power of the mind’ could deter Hurricane Dorian in an interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi at the network’s Climate Forum. “The only problem there is that I deleted that tweet,” Williamson said. “I’m Jewish, I go to the doctor… there’s nothing anti-science about me.”

STATE-SIDE — Patrick Little, an open antisemite and Holocaust denier who ran for U.S. Senate in California last year, is now running as a Republican for a seat on the city council of Garden City in Idaho. “The only way to challenge Jewish power in this country now is with local elections because it would have to be word of mouth,” Little said on Tuesday. 

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: ‘Do we acquire stuff, or are we acquired?’ Inside the CBS-Viacom marriage, concerns about synergies and size [VanityFair] • Patrick Drahi is borrowing $1.1 billion to help finance his $2.7 billion acquisition of Sotheby’s [Bloomberg] • Sir Philip Green-backed online retailer MySale secures more funding [EveningStandard]

MORE BRIEFS: The Lerner family’s Washington Nationals have partnered with a Rockville nonprofit to donate excess food from Nationals Park to people in need [Bizjournals] • SodaStream to shut down for Sept. 20 global climate strike [MarketWatch] • Tech investors: No broad lessons seen in WeWork valuation drama [Reuters

SPOTLIGHT — Gilbert making regular ‘breakthroughs’ in stroke recovery, Emerson says — Kirk Pinho: “One of Dan Gilbert’s top lieutenants says the billionaire is ‘making breakthroughs on a daily basis’ as he recovers from a stroke that hospitalized him nearly four months ago. Bill Emerson, Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Holdings vice chairman, said Wednesday night at the Crain’s Detroit Business Detroit Homecoming event opening dinner at the Gilbert-owned State Savings Bank building that his boss ‘is working harder, physically, than he has ever worked in his life.’” [CrainsDetroit]

TRANSITION — McSally spokeswoman Katie Waldman to become VP Mike Pence’s press secretary — by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez: “Katie Waldman, who has worked as Sen. Martha McSally’s [R-AZ] top spokeswoman for the past six months, is leaving the senator’s staff to serve as Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary. Before joining McSally’s team, Waldman was a deputy press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.”

Worth noting: “Waldman is the girlfriend of Stephen Miller, a senior adviser for policy to President Donald Trump.” [AZCentral]

SPORTS BLINK — Why Tennessee has become the favorite college team for a group of players in Israel — by David Ubben: “‘For the most part, if you’re involved in Israeli football, you’re losing money,’ said Alex Brill, one of the founders of the Judean Rebels, one of eight teams in the Israeli Football League. He owns the team now and was on the active roster until a few years ago. The league began in 2007, but it dates back to touch football games as early as 1988. ‘The league wasn’t being taken seriously before,’ Brill said. ‘We wanted to elevate football in Israel.’ … ‘You’re always looking for a reason to root for somebody,’ Brill said. Five years ago, Tennessee gave them a big one: jerseys. ‘Tennessee’s become the college team for a lot of Israelis now,’ Brill said.” [TheAthletic]

Iranian judo team suspended after athlete pressured to avoid fighting an Israeli — by Jacob Bogage: 
“The International Judo Federation on Wednesday banned Iranian athletes from its events over the country’s policy to boycott matches with Israeli participants… The IJF told the Iranian federation it had 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.” [WashPost]

HOLLYWOOD — Miami Jewish Film Festival announces $18,000 prize, a first for any Jewish film festival — by Juan Antonio Barquin: “Sponsored by the American real-estate firm Crescent Heights, the new Grand Jury Prize will be open to any filmmaker whose feature film work, both narrative and documentary, either presents a substantial portion of its content as Jewish interest or is produced in Israel.” [MiamiTimes

Hitler satire ‘Jojo Rabbit’ to headline U.K. Jewish Film Festival — by Alex Ritman: “Taika Waititi’s anti-hate Nazi satire ‘Jojo Rabbit,’ winner of the people’s choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival and now tipped for Oscar glory, is set to close the 2019 U.K. Jewish Film Festival. The news, announced Thursday, may help settle any fears about the sensitive nature of the story… other gala screenings [include] the U.K. premiere of the spy drama ‘The Operative,’ starring Diane Kruger and Martin Freeman, and the world premiere of the Israeli political documentary ‘The Human Factor’ from Dror Morer (‘The Gatekeepers’) and Teddy Liefer (‘Icarus’).” [HollywoodReporter]

‘Schitt’s Creek’ creator Dan Levy signs overall deal with ABC studios — by Rick Porter: “‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-creator, showrunner and star Dan Levy is joining the Disney family. Levy has signed a three-year overall deal with Disney’s ABC Studios, which won out after multiple outlets bidding for his services. He’ll develop and produce scripted projects for the studio… The deal comes as cult favorite ‘Schitt’s Creek’ is headed into its final season on Pop and Canada’s CBC… The series, which Levy co-created with dad Eugene Levy, is among the nominees for outstanding comedy at Sunday’s Emmy Awards.” [HollywoodReporter]

Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson renew FX overall deal — by Joe Otterson: “Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson are keeping their Color Force production banner at FX Productions, with the producers signing a new four-year overall deal with the company.” [Variety]

TALK OF THE NATION — Newly appointed Women’s March board member Zahra Billoo has been voted off the national board days after her past controversial statements were revealed. In a Twitter thread on Thursday, Billoo claimed to have been the subject of “an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.” She also blasted the organization for rejecting her offer “to meet with stakeholders to address their concerns, and to work with my sisters on the new board to learn, heal, and build together.” [JewishInsider]

TALK OF THE TOWN — A New Jersey man was indicted on Thursday on charges of secretly working for Hezbollah. Federal authorities say that Alexei Saab, 42, was scouting out New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, the New York Stock Exchange, the Statue of Liberty and the Port Authority Bus Terminal as potential terror targets. 

Chabad of Poway shooting: Prosecutors began presenting evidence on Thursday in the trial of John Earnest, the suspect charged for the April 27 shooting rampage at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. The preliminary hearing is expected to last until Friday.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an inside look at the Philadelphia Hebrew Public Charter School, which opened this month as part of a network of charter schools that teach modern Hebrew. Seventy-two percent of the students are African American or black, according to the school. 

Repentance: Two city council members in Trenton, New Jersey — George Muschal and Robin Vaughn — have now apologized for defending antisemitic language used by Council President Kathy McBride against city attorney Peter Cohen over a legal settlement. McBride apologized at a council hearing on Tuesday after a colleague of hers — Jerell Blakely — moved to censure her but failed to garner support.

Cornish tin found in Israel is hard evidence of earliest trade links — by Mark Bridge: “Tin ingots found in Israel that are more than 3,000 years old are of Cornish origin and probably reached the Middle East by way of Greece, experts say. Archaeologists said that their chemical analysis provided the first hard evidence for trading of the metal, which is used in making bronze, between the west of Britain and the most famous Bronze Age civilisations — over networks covering thousands of miles.” [TheTimes]

Kamila Shamsie: Author stripped of book award over support for Israel boycott — by Ellie Harrison: “The German jury of the Nelly Sachs book prize has withdrawn its decision to honour Kamila Shamsie with the award, due to her ongoing support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Earlier this month, the panel had decided to crown the British-Pakistani writer as their latest winner, with praise for how her writing is ‘building bridges between societies.’ However, when they discovered Shamsie supported the BDS movement, they opted to strip her of the accolade.” [Independent]

DESSERT — Classic Portland deli Kenny & Zuke’s is filing for bankruptcy — by Brooke Jackson-Glidden: “Jewish deli brand Kenny & Zuke’s, which includes a sandwich shop, a bagel bakery, and a counter in the airport, is filing for bankruptcy. According to Willamette Week, owner Ken Gordon made the choice to tackle mounting debts… Gordon says the restaurant is in no danger of closing, and is, in fact, considering further expansion. Gordon says the restaurant may raise prices on menu items, but the owner does not plan to lay off any employees as a result of the decision.” [Eater]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Journalist and author Martin Tolchin turns 91… Florida real estate developer who turned 785 acres of mostly swamp land in South Florida into Aventura and Turnberry Isle Resort, Donald Soffer turns 87… Author, television personality and philanthropist, Carole Gene “Candy” Spelling turns 74… Long-time SVP at Booz-Allen and former CEO of Special Olympics International, Bruce Pasternack turns 72… Co-founder of Broadcom and owner of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, Henry Samueli turns 65… Rabbi of Congregation Beit Torat Chaim of Jakarta, Indonesia and the founder of Outreach Judaism, Rabbi Tovia Singer turns 59… Attorney and NBC legal analyst, Lisa Bloom turns 58… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Keren Barak turns 47…

Founder of PFAP Consulting, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, Ph.D. turns 37… Policy director at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, James Mazol turns 33… Director of development and partnerships at MassChallenge Israel, Emily Grunewald turns 32… Director of membership for the Sacramento-based California Solar & Storage Association, Carter Lavin turns 31… Corporate business development associate at ActionIQ, Alison Bogdonoff turns 30… Community marketing manager at Rent The Runway, Zoe Plotsky turns 27… Manhattan resident, Isabel Tsesarsky turns 25… Reporter and deputy team leader at Bloomberg LP, Drew Singer… Lauren Ackerman

SATURDAY: One of the highest-grossing Hollywood box office producers of all time, Jerry Bruckheimer turns 76… Legal scholar and professor at Harvard Law School, Cass Sunstein turns 65… Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz turns 64… One-half the renowned film-making team of the Coen Brothers, Ethan Jesse Coen turns 62… Conservative talk show host Mark R. Levin turns 62… Retired managing director of equity trading at Goldman Sachs, Andrew Berman turns 62… Russian oligarch living in Israel, he was an owner of Yukos Oil, Leonid Nevzlin turns 60…

Janet Bunting turns 53… Emmy Award-winning talk show host, actress and producer, Ricki Lake turns 51… Editor of KvellerLisa Keys turns 43… Chief Operating Officer of TAMID Group, Nathan Gilson turns 29… Analyst in the office of the executive director at the Obama Foundation, Mia Appelbaum turns 27… SVP at polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Anna Greenberg Ph.D… Lead sustainability consultant at Allstate, Scott Frankel

SUNDAY: Former Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, David Stern turns 77… Brooklyn-resident, Jay Kanter turns 74… Former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (1992-2009), now a consultant at the LA-based Diane and Guilford Glazer Philanthropies, John Fishel turns 71… Nobel Prize laureate, astrophysicist and professor of physics at UC-Berkeley, Saul Perlmutter turns 60… Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog turns 59… Director of development at the Los Angeles Conservancy, Elizabeth “Liz” Leshin turns 59…

CEO of Terravet Real Estate Solutions and founder of Community Veterinary Partners, Daniel Eisenstadt turns 50… Writer-at-large for The New York Times focused on the personalities in business, politics and media, she is the author of “Chasing Hillary,” Amy Chozick turns 41… Deputy editor of Tablet magazine and host of the “Unorthodox” podcast, Stephanie Taylor Butnick turns 32… Director of special projects, advertising development and scripted video production at The Daily WireJared Sichel turns 30… Assistant director of International Jewish Affairs at AJC Global, Alyssa Weiner turns 28…

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