Daily Kickoff: Jill Abramson out at NYTimes; Hagel in Israel; Jewish Student Parker Mantell’s Inspiring Speech; JCPA Tent Flap

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Top Talker: New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson was abruptly fired from the paper Wednesday afternoon. Abramson, the first woman but not the first Jew to hold the top editorial position at the paper, lasted less than three years. Managing editor Dean Baquet will take over as executive editor, effective immediately… Despite her achievements, Abramson’s tenure was marred by tension with Sulzberger, Baquet and Times CEO Mark Thompson, who took an unprecedently hands-on approach to managing the paper’s editorial resources, which was a source of frustration for Abramson. Last week,Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, the publisher’s son, submitted a report calling for significant changes to the Times’ digital business strategy. Most recently, Abramson angered Baquet, and subsequently Sulzberger, when she moved to hire an editor who would serve alongside Baquet in a co-managing editor position, without informing him of the plans. The Times reported late Wednesday that the editor in question was The Guardian’s Janine Gibson. The tension between the two over Abramson’s move further reinforced Sulzberger’s frustrations with her management style, several sources said.” [Politico]

2016 Watch: Hillary Clinton defends Foreign Policy records, Draws fine line of Iran deal:Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday told the AJC global forum that the United States must be “tough” and “clear-eyed” as it conducts nuclear talks with Iran. But she told the American Jewish Committee audience of 2000 that “no deal is better than a bad deal” with Iran. [AP] — Sells “Hard Choice” memoir: Hillary  repeatedly plugged her forthcoming memoir .. Clinton referenced the many months she committed to “writing and rewriting” her book, set to come out next month ..“It’s nice being out of my attic and being here in support of all of you,” she quipped.. Clinton joked that the book would be “a light summer read that I’m sure will be great at the beach,” [NY Post]

JNS: After occupied territories’ flap, Chris Christie faces next big test with Jewish donors, by Dmitriy Shapiro: “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the possible GOP presidential contender who raised the hackles of many a pro-Israel Republican with an off-the-cuff remark in March about the “occupied territories” of the West Bank, will get another chance to appeal to high-profile Jewish donors this Sunday. hat’s what makes Christie’s appearance at the annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala in New York City so important, observers say, even as Rabbi Shmuley Boteach—whose organization, This World: The Values Network, is hosting the May 18 gathering—calls the event decidedly non-political. Boteach, the media-savvy New Jersey rabbi and author who himself mounted an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2012, has amassed a panoply of heavy-hitting politicians and financiers, including Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas, U.S. Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.), Israeli Ambassador Ron DermerSheldon and Miriam AdelsonJudy and Michael Steinhardt, anti-genocide campaigner John Prendergast, and actor-activist Sean Penn.” [JNS]

2014 Midterms: 56% of US voters think foreign policy should be top priority ahead of the midterm elections: No party divide on what voters seem to believe is now in the united States’ best interest in dealing with several foreign policy currently on the plate, including a possible deal with Iran and solving the crisis in Ukraine. 58% of Democratic and 62% of Republicans think foreign policy should be a top or one of the top priorities of the administration in the 6 months ahead, a new poll conducted by The Israel Project shows.Navigate slideshow [TIP]

Shaheen, Rubio Introduce Hezbollah Sanctions Legislation: “U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this week introduced the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014, a bipartisan effort to block the terrorist organization’s financing and limit the group’s access to logistical support. Hezbollah has been a dangerous and destabilizing force in the Middle East and around the world for more than three decades, committing countless acts of terrorism, violence and intimidation.” [Press Release]

Reid Begins Proceedings for Fischer Confirmation Vote: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) took the first step Wednesday evening to set up a confirmation vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Mr. Reid began proceedings Wednesday for the Senate to vote likely next week on Stanley Fischer, who formerly ran Israel’s central bank for eight years and served as a top official at the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Fischer was approved by the Senate Banking Committee on a voice vote late last month and is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.” [WSJ]

Bill Clinton plugs daughter’s Jewish mother-in-law Marjorie Margolies in closing ad: Bill Clinton makes a heavy pitch for former Rep. Marjorie Margolies in her final TV ad in next week’s four-way Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 13th District… “If you send Marjorie to Congress, she’ll make you proud, she’ll vote right,” Clinton says in the ad … She’ll take initiative, she’ll do things, she’ll stand up when she needs to stand up and cooperate when we need cooperation.” [Politico]

Poll: Israel Not to Blame for Failure of Middle East Peace Talks, Josh Rogin reports: “Over twice as many Americans agree with Israel’s claim that they are not primarily to blame for the failure of the Middle East peace process than those who agree with the Palestinian claim that moving toward a unity government with Hamas is a step toward peace, according to a new poll by The Israel Project. The poll was conducted May 2-4, 2014, among a national sample of 1595 likely voters in the 2014 midterm election. The interviews were conducted online by Survey Sampling International.” [DailyBeast]

TIME TO ‘ACT’ ON ISRAEL — Lauder: Hollywood should speak out for Israel: Ron Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), on Tuesday, May 13, condemned a call by a group of American actors led by Danny Glover for an all-out cultural boycott of Israel. Earlier this week, Glover and other actors starring in ‘American Revolutionary’ had urged the cancellation of a planned screening of the movie in Tel Aviv.“It is time for Hollywood – actors, producers, and others – to speak out against those within their own ranks who demonize Israel and thus fan the flames of anti-Semitism in America and beyond,” Lauder said… Call BS on BDS: “It is time that those in Hollywood who stand with Israel come forward and speak out against the calls to boycott the only democratic country in the Middle East,” the WJC president declared.

Netanyahu seeks alternative diplomatic plan in light of failed peace talks: “After he returns from Japan on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to explore with government and security officials alternative diplomatic options in the wake of the breakdown in negotiations with the Palestinians. This, according to a senior figure in Jerusalem who asked to remain anonymous.” [Haaretz]

Reuters: Israel’s David’s Sling will not win Polish missile tender: “Israel is poised to lose out on a deal valued at up to $13 billion to build a missile defense shield for Poland, an Israeli defense official said on Wednesday, citing lobbying by Washington on behalf of rival U.S. systems. As compensation, the manufacturer of the Israeli David’s Sling missile defense system may get a role in a future U.S.-led arms sale to Warsaw, the official, who has been briefed on the competition, told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The Israeli disclosure came as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the Jewish state to discuss an alliance undergirded by extensive U.S. aid for Israeli defense projects.” [Reuters]

**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**

INSPIRING VIDEO: Jewish student Parker Mantell overcomes stutter to deliver a rousing speech: An Indiana University senior gave an inspiring commencement address to fellow graduating students earlier this week that was all the more impressive because of the handicap he had to overcome to deliver the speech… Mantell, a political science major, interned for prominent Republican leaders like Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie… “As a person who stutters, I could be no more certain that in this room and in this hall are thousands of people who are far more talented at public speaking than I am,” said Mantell in his speech. “At the same time, I could be no more certain that the message I have to share is one that must be heard.” [Robby Soave]  …WATCH the entire speech [YouTube]

Iraqi Archives: Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – welcomed the statement of the Government of Iraq, made through its Ambassador in Washington, DC, of its intention to “extend the period which the [Iraqi Jewish Archive] Exhibit may remain in the United States.”

–“We welcome the statement of Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Lukman Failyindicating that, pending technical details being finalized in the coming days, most of the materials associated with the Iraqi Jewish Archives will remain in the United States for a further period of time,” said Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy, “We are grateful to the senior Obama Administration officials, at The White House and State Department, as well as concerned Members of Congress with whom we have engaged on this issue, for this encouraging development. The historical and religious value of the Iraqi Jewish Archive materials compel us to ensure that the Archive should remain in the United States where it will be easily accessible to all, particularly the Iraqi Jewish community now living in diaspora around the world.”

Tent flap: JCPA apologizes for jibe at President’s Conference, reports Ron Kampeas: “Memo from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: Sorry for suggesting that our tent is bigger than yours. The JCPA was apologizing for a fundraising letter that mocked the Conference of Presidents for rejecting J Street. The email that sparked the tent flap, a May 11 fundraising pitch signed by JCPA’s vice president, Andi Milens, contrasted the Presidents Conference’s vote last month rejecting the membership bid of J Street, a dovish Israel policy group, with what Milens’ depicted as JCPA’s inclusiveness. JCPA favored J Street’s entry into the conference. “I’m already tired of talking about the Conference of Presidents,” Milens began. “Ten days ago they voted not to extend membership to J Street. They have pitched their tent.” Milens continued: “I’d rather talk about the tent I work in — the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. It’s a really big tent, and the flap is always open. Our conversations and debates are robust.” “We deeply regret and sincerely apologize for the fundraising email that was sent last Sunday, May 11 by a senior JCPA professional,” JCPA’s president, Rabbi Steve Gutow, and chairwoman, Susan Turnbull, wrote in an email sent Wednesday to contributors. “That email criticized the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations. It was highly inappropriate.” [JTA]

StartUp Nation Spotlight: Israeli lunar project launches crowd-funding campaign: “An Israeli company aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon and a contestant in the prestigious Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, has launched a crowd-funding campaign on the Indiegogo website. The company, SpaceIL, said that the campaign is designed to not only raise funds for the lunar project, but also to engage as broad an audience as possible with its mission to the Moon. SpaceIL says it is building the world’s smallest spacecraft, with the aim of showing that space exploration is no longer limited to global superpowers with vast space programs. Any group, small country or university can get involved and contribute to advancing scientific discovery, the company says. SpaceIL is an Israeli nonprofit founded at the end of 2010. It is funded by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Morris Kahn, the Schusterman Family Foundation, Israel Aerospace Industries, the Israel Space Agency, Bezeq, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute.” [Haaretz]Josh Kushner’s Disruptive Healthcare Start-up Oscar Raises $80 Million, Valuation Nears $1 Billion: “The technology-based health insurance company founded by Josh Kushner (Thrive Capital), Kevin Nazemi and Mario Schlosser today announced quietly on its Tumblr page it has raised an $80 million investment round. Sources close to the deal say the round valued Oscar at $800 million. Despite the high valuation, Oscar’s founders acknowledged the company has a long way to go. “Oscar’s early successes have enabled us to raise the capital we need to support our current business,” Kushner, Nazemi and Schlosser wrote on the company’s Tumblr page. “There is a common misconception in the technology industry that raising capital is correlated with success. Financing is not innovation, nor should it be celebrated. On the contrary, we have a tremendous amount of work to do.” Oscar, which currently has about 60 employees, will use the new capital to hire talent and offer insurance in new regions.” [Forbes]

That’s all folks, have a great Thursday!

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