Daily Kickoff: Global Anti-Semitism; Israel bars Russian Ship from Haifa Port; Rand Paul’s Jewish Outreach

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2016 Watch: Republican Jews warming up to Rand Paul: Kentucky senator and likely candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Rand Paul, is stepping up his Jewish outreach. In recent weeks, Paul chatted with rabbis on a conference call and proposed legislation to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority unless it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, writes Ron KampeasFred Zeidman, a leading fundraiser for GOP presidential campaigns, said that Paul’s new stature is one reason he deserves a more considered assessment from Republican Jews. “He is a force to be reckoned with in a presidential race, which I think he is seriously considering,” said Zeidman, a former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum who met recently in Houston with Paul.

–Whatever differences he may have with pro-Israel activists, Paul has made a sustained effort to build bridges to the Jewish community, enlisting the services of several Jewish intermediaries and finding common ground where he can. Richard Roberts, a pharmaceuticals executive and GOP donor, helped pay for Paul and a group of Christian Zionists to tour Israel in January 2013. That summer, Roberts hosted Paul for a luncheon at his home in the Orthodox stronghold of Lakewood, N.J., and led the senator on a tour of the town’s Beth Medrash Govoha, one of the world’s largest yeshivas. Roberts has called Paul a “man of integrity and authenticity.” [JTA]

Forward: “How Martin Indyk Went From AIPAC Man To Blaming Israel for Talks Failure”:“Entering the downtown Washington ballroom that hosted Israel’s Independence Day celebration on May 12, U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk seemed at home, trading handshakes and smiles with Israeli officials just like every year. But Israeli Intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz, one of Netanyahu’s government hawks, had a pointed message during his small talk with the American that night. “I told him,” Steinitz recounted, “that he needs to make clear Israel is not at fault for the collapse of the peace talks.”

–There was a reason Steinitz pressed Indyk on this point. In a rare public speech just four days earlier, Indyk singled out Israel’s settlement activity in the occupied West Bank as the key reason for the failure of the U.S. peace effort. The speech followed hard on the heels of a much-noticed article in Yediot Ahranot, one of Israel’s major daily newspapers, in which an unnamed U.S. official widely believed to be Indyk made essentially the same point. Yet from the American point of view, Indyk could hardly be seen as anti-Israel. In fact, his involvement in Washington with Israel-related issues began with the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. From there, it went through various permutations during long years of work in this area — from think tank scholar to presidential advisor, to two stints as U.S. ambassador to Israel and, finally, America’s chief peace mediator.” [Forward]

Happening today: John Baird, Foreign Minister of Canada; Hillary Rodham Clinton to address the AJC global forum closing plenary at 10:15 am….  Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS) Ira Forman will travel to Kyiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Istanbul, Ankara, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv from May 14-28, 2014.

**Good Morning! Have a tip, scoop, or even an 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**

Top Talker: Poll Says Anti-Semitism Is Global Matter: 26 percent of people worldwide are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes and only 54% have heard of the Holocaust, a first-ever worldwide survey of anti-Semitic attitudes by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found. The most widely accepted anti-Semitic stereotype worldwide is: “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country/the countries they live in.” Overall, 41 percent of those surveyed believe this statement to be “probably true.”. [ADL] —  Is China Anti-Semitic? One Jew’s Reflections [WSJ] ; Are South Koreans Really Negative About Jews? [WSJ]

Competing views on J Street: Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, OpEd – “Setting the record straight” [ToI] — Farley Weiss OpEd: “Drawing the line on J Street” [JPost] — Josh Nathan-Kazis: Jewish Fraternity With Right Wing Ties Helped Block J Street Bid” [Forward] — Jacob Kamaras: “Why AEPi is in the Conference of Presidents” [JNS] — Rachel Lerner OpEd: “The Israel conversation we should be having” [JTA]

Fearing U.S. Backlash, Israel Bars Russian Missle Ship From Haifa Port – by Barak Ravid:“Israel denied a request by Moscow to let a Russian missile boat anchor at Haifa a month ago, making the decision against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine, said a senior official in Jerusalem involved in the matter. Israeli officials were worried that allowing a Russian naval vessel to visit Haifa would worsen tensions with the United States. There were also concerns about possible espionage. The official said Israel did not wish to further anger the U.S. administration, which has been unhappy with Jerusalem’s position regarding the Ukrainian crisis. The Americans were surprised and disappointed when Israel did not support the American proposal that the UN General Assembly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory.” [Haaretz]

VIENNA – P5+1 begin drafting permanent nuclear agreement with Iran: White House Official provides a background briefing – “Everyone has approached these talks with seriousness and with professionalism. It also appears that everyone has come to the table wanting a diplomatic solution, but having the intent doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen. I would caution people that just because we will be drafting it certainly doesn’t mean an agreement is imminent or that we are certain to eventually get to a resolution of these issues.There are a range of complicated issues to address. And we do not know if Iran will be able to make the tough decisions they must to ensure the world that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon and that their program is for entirely peaceful purposes, as they have said.”
–At the AJC World Leaders Plenary Israeli Intelligence Minister, Dr. Yuval Steinitz, laid out Israel’s case against Iran’s nuclear program, spelling out in great detail what is, and what is not acceptable in a final agreement: “There will be two dramatic consequences [of allowing Iran to have centrifuges]. One will be the rush to create the weapon. The second is that the other countries in the vicinity will begin to do the same, sparking a nuclear arms race all over the Middle East…If you force Iran to choose between the centrifuge or their economy, they will make the right choice.” [AJC blog]

In Israel, NYC police commissioner Bratton defends recruiting Muslim informants: The New York Police Department has no intention of scrapping a controversial policy of trying to recruit Muslim arrestees and arrestees from Muslim countries as informants, NYPD Commissioner William Brattontold the Jerusalem Post during a visit to Israel. “Not at all, this is an essential element of policing. I created this policy back in 1994, in New York City last time I was commissioner where very person arrested was interviewed by detectives about not necessarily the crime they committed but do they have information about other crimes and is there an ability to develop these people into confidential informants,” Bratton said. [Capital]

School board apologizes for ‘horribly inappropriate’ Holocaust assignment: “At an emergency school board meeting Wednesday night, Rialto School District officials apologized for an eighth-grade critical-thinking writing assignment that asked students to consider whether the Holocaust was created for political gain or didn’t happen at all. The assignment, developed by a group of teachers and the district’s educational services division, prompted widespread outcry and criticism from such groups as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which called it “grotesque.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, told the board that instructors be reeducated about the Holocaust and that mandatory annual visits be made to the museum, and offered to work with the district to develop detailed learning plans. “There is something broken that’s got to be fixed,” he said.” [LA Times]

— 2017: NYC mayor Bill de Blasio may get a Jewish challenger in 2017: Charter school mavenEva Moskowitz is considering of running for mayor in 2017,  “I might run for mayor some day,” she said on the John Gambling radio show. “But right now, I’m very, very focused on educating the 10,000 kids that will be with us in 95 business days.” “I thought I was leaving elected office and politics in order to focus on schooling, but as you know schooling turns out to be frankly even more political than politics,” she said. “I may [run for office]. I believe public service is incredibly important. But I also love the kids.” [Daily News] — Audio of radio interview [John Gambling] — Only 7 percent of voters would consider voting for her if she ran against Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to a poll to be issued later this week by City & State Reports. [City & State NY]

Happy Birthday! Mark Zuckerberg turns 30 todayCrain’s Profile: Jewish Mortgage broker will cut fees to draw business: “The mortgage brokerage firm Eastern Union Funding has announced a bold new plan to elbow aside a deep field of competitors and grow its share of the New York City commercial lending market. To do that the company’s president Ira Zlotowitz said that it is slashing the fees it charges to arrange larger loans, capping its compensation at $250,000 per deal. The move is being done to help the company break into the business of arranging loans of $50 million and up.” [Crains NY]
StartUp Nation: Jeff Pulver – “World still doesn’t understand Israel’s influence in high-tech”: “Jeff Pulver, a serial high-tech entrepreneur, became a technology guru and startup idol 20 years ago when he identified the technology developed in Israel by VocalTec Communications for transmitting voice over the Internet. Among the first to invest in Twitter and Foursquare, Pulver is a leader in the Voice Over IP industry. He is also a respected proponent of television broadcasts streamed over the Internet — one of the hot topics on the Internet today. When Pulver arrives in Israel, his schedule is usually full and he barely has a moment to breathe. This crowded calendar is set before he makes the trip. Many high-tech entrepreneurs have asked to meet with him, and make pilgrimages to hear his advice. It is not easy to find a free spot in his schedule for an interview. Still, Israel is an extraordinary case. He comes here often.–So far, Pulver has taken part in establishing about 50 startup companies. The most prominent among them is Vonage, the largest commercial VoIP network in the U.S. Pulver originated the acronym VON — Voice/Video On the Net — and produced and hosted the VON conferences from 1997 to 2008. His name has already become a concept. One of his most important contributions is the Pulver Order, the result of a petition that Pulver submitted to the FCC in 2004. The petition asked the FCC to recognize that computer-to-computer VoIP service was not a telecommunications service and so not subject to FCC regulation under the Communications Act.–“In Israel, there is teamwork, and this team starts to form before elementary school and high school, and continues in the army too. In most of the startups I know, the teams have known each other for years, from an early age. “To recreate Israel’s success somewhere else, you have to gather all the components, not just some of them. I think that the world still doesn’t know how much influence Israel has on the Internet field today, starting with Check Point’s security to VocalTec, which was an Air Force secret at first, to the option of making a telephone call via the Internet. There’s no doubt that the recent success changed the face of the world as we know it.” [Israel Hayom]

The Coming Thing: Haredi Startups – “Entrepreneur Yitzik Crombie, founder of the Haredi Hi-Tech Forum, said on Tuesday at the organization’s second annual conference in the capital that start-ups initiated by men and women from the community would be the coming wave in Israel’s ongoing development as a leader in technology-based innovation. Some 40 start-ups and groups applied to take part, out of which nine were selected by the forum to participate in the course, which included training on business development, raising capital and marketing. The conference on Tuesday, held at the JVP Media Quarter in Jerusalem and staged in cooperation with the JVP venture capital firm, brought senior politicians to the event to discuss haredi integration into the workforce as well as the general political scene as it relates to the haredi sector.” [JPost]

Boston Business: Mass. tech firms are well represented in upcoming trade mission to Israel: “Gov. Deval Patrick announced today that he will lead a coalition of Massachusetts government and industry leaders on an innovation mission to Israel and the United Arab Emirates. And the list of those attending reads like a who’s who of the Bay State tech world. The trip will run May 27 from June 4, and will make stops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel, and in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, where Patrick and members of the delegation are scheduled to visit companies and business organizations in the innovation economy sectors.” [Business Journal]

“Homeland” co-creator wants Israel to be prime spot for U.S. TV Shows: “The Israeli co-creator of hit spy thriller television series “Homeland” believes his native country should become a prime location for U.S. television shows about the Middle East and is working hard to make this happen. Writer-director Gideon Raff is at the helm of Fox drama “Tyrant” and NBCUniversal archeological mystery “The Dig”, two U.S. productions under way simultaneously in Israel – a first for the country’s small but active entertainment industry. “To concoct the Middle East in Los Angeles you have to spend a lot of money. You need to get the cars, the attire and the faces right,” Raff said in an interview at his Tel Aviv office, its walls festooned with actors’ headshots and storyboards.

–“The Middle East is not just a desert, and Americans are increasingly sophisticated and expect a show set outside the United States to have been shot outside of the United States.” He gave, as an example, the experience of filming in Jaffa, an Arab district of Tel Aviv, where “the moment you set up, everything you get on camera is worth millions of dollars.” Raff said Israel, as a Middle East location, faced brisk competition from Jordan and Morocco, where filming can be cheaper. Israel does not offer significant tax breaks to foreign productions and its television crews charge close to U.S. rates. But the 42-year-old Raff, who has a second home in California, said his American colleagues were drawn by the after-hours attractions of liberal Tel Aviv and “freewheeling Israeli creativity, which helps a lot in getting the job done.” [Reuters]

That’s all folks, have a great Wednesday!

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