Daily Kickoff: Gov. Christie at Jewish Values Gala; Sean ‘Simcha’ Eldridge for Congress; Maccabi Tel Aviv’s ‘Greatest Win Ever’ in Euroleague Final
Scene Last Night: NJ Governor Chris Christie delivered the keynote speech before a crowd of 700 at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. Christie spoke vaguely about “friends at risk around the world,” but did not mention Israel in his 18-minute address. Other notable attendees included Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Republican mega-donorSheldon Adelson, who sat at the table with Christie… Nobel Prize-winning Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, actor Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher, Financier Michael Steinhardt, Professor Alan Dershowitz, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was honored at the gala, but did not attend.
Over 1,000 people were in attendance for AIPAC’s New England Leadership Dinner at the Seaport World Trade Center. Politicians in attendance included Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Congressman Eliot Engel (NY16), Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (NH02), Gary Lambert (Candidate for NH02), Frank Guinta(former Manchester Mayor and current candidate for NH01), Marilinda Garcia (Candidate for NH02 and State Representative for NH’s 8th district), and Josh Zakim (Boston City Councilor). Sen Warren spoke in support of the U.S. Israel relationship – “we have shared interests in a secure and peaceful Middle East.” Sen. Markey called for energy independence and spoke out against Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson shared the story of his personal connection to the State of Israel.
U.S. Senator Rob Menendez from New Jersey, a Democrat, received the AFL Menachem Begin Award for Political Courage at the American Friends of Likud annual Gala last night at the Park Avenue Synagogue. Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, introduced Israel’s Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud), who received the AFL Award for Excellence in Governance..
NORPAC hosted Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) for a dinner fundraiser last evening at the home of Yehuda Blinder in Englewood, New Jersey. Other hosts included Jack Halpern, Scott & Eric Herschmann, Ben Klein, and Mark Sultan.
— FOREIGN POLICY AN ISSUE IN 2016: In his speech at the Jewish Values Awards Gala, Christie urged presidential candidates to take froeign policy issues more serious. “Foreign policy and America’s role in the world is something that is often not popular to discuss in political campaigns,” he said. “But I suspect that every person who has had the opportunity to lead this country recognizes fairly early on that it is that role that will define the character and the strength of their leadership… We need to stand once again loudly for these values. And sometimes that’s going to mean standing in some very messy difficult places, and standing strong and hard for those things that we believe in…. It is time, in every respect, whether it’s our national debt or an out of control entitlement system, our unreformed tax system, or our failure to set a strong clear [message] or more importantly a strong clear action on behalf of our friends around the world. It’s time for our leaders to stop singing a happy tune to the American people about the condition of our country. It is time for us to tell the truth about that condition.”
HOW IT PLAYED: In the 18-minute speech, Christie made no specific mention of Israel… Prior to the start of the gala, Adelson declined to comment when asked by BuzzFeed what he expected from Christie’s speech. [BuzzFeed] Christie spoke vaguely about “friends at risk around the world,” but did not mention Israel in his 18-minute address. [Zeke Miller-Time] This was Christie’s second time speaking in front of the staunchly pro-Israel Adelson this year. In March, Christie spoke before the Republican Jewish Coalition at Adelson’s Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. Some prominent Israel supporters complained of his use of the term “occupied territories” to describe areas including the West Bank and Gaza Strip… Christie did not utter those two words during his speech tonight. In fact, Christie did not even mention Israel by name, though he alluded to it several times. [NJ Lender]… “If there was any doubt that Christie didn’t line up with the more hawkish wing of the Republican Party, he firmly quashed those doubts Sunday night.” [CNN]… Christie’s remarks solidify his stance on national security issues as the Republican Party is knee-deep in an ideological fight over foreign policy… Christie not mentioning Israel in front of Adelson and Boteach audience even weirder than Las Vegas “occupied territories” incident. [Chemi Shalev]… ZOA leader Mort Klein who sparked Christies “occupied territories” tiff “surprised and disappointed” by speech tonight. Klein: “Christie must not feel comfortable praising Israel” so he didn’t mention it at all. [more Chemi Shalev]…If there’s one thing Christie is an expert on, it’s “messy difficult places.” #Bridgegate #SixDowngrades [Lis Smith]
— “America must be clear, Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state,” Perry said to uproarious applause. [BuzzFeed]
Jeb’s running, says Jewish donor: “It looks to me like he’s well along to making the decision later this year that he’s going to run,” said Mel Sembler, a major Jewish Republican fundraiser and close to Bush. “He’s making appearances in the right places.” [Tampa Bay Times]
MIDTERMS 2014: Waxman’s Seat ‘Open’ For Republican Control? Elan Carr, a Jewish Republican candidate for the open seat of Henry Waxman says he can win California’s 33rd District that includes the Westside of Los Angeles. Even though Democrats outnumber Republicans 43.6 to 27.2 percent in the district, Carr has a chance in next month’s primary. The reason? There are so many Democrats and left-leaning independents on the ballot — about a dozen, including Democrats Ted Lieu,Wendy Greuel and Matt Miller and independent Marianne Williamson — that progressive-minded voters might split their votes among the candidates, leaving room for a Republican to sneak by. [Daily Breeze]
Tablet Magazine: Sean Eldridge’s Middle Name Is ‘Simcha’ – The husband of ‘New Republic’ owner Chris Hughes is putting a decade-old plan to run for office into action – by Matt Taylor: “Now another idealistic, wealthy young liberal is vying to represent what today is the state’s 19th congressional district, a horseshoe-shaped entity that runs on both sides of the river all the way up toward Albany and Schenectady. Like Roosevelt and Vidal, Sean Eldridge has the luxury of being independently wealthy: His husband, Chris Hughes, the owner of The New Republic, was a Harvard roommate of Mark Zuckerberg’s and helped launch Facebook, affording them the ability to buy an estate worth nearly $2 million in the district to facilitate the run—after very publicly buying a $5 million spread an hour or so south in Garrison, in 2012.
–But unlike his progressive predecessors, Eldridge has a Hebrew middle name—Simcha—and a family story that stretches from central Europe to Montreal, where he was born, and then to Ohio, where he was raised. His Jewish background isn’t something he hides, but neither is it something the candidate emphasizes; on the ballot, he uses a middle initial. Eldridge has been openly planning his political career since he was a teenager. The winter 2005 newsletter of his alma mater, Deep Springs College, a kind of ranch-commune for hyper-intellectual young men in rural California, just north of Death Valley, includes the following entry: “Sean Eldridge comes from Toledo, Ohio, where he studied ﬂute and starred in numerous high-school musicals. Sean is a citizen of Israel and Canada and will soon become an American to pursue a political career in this country.”
–His mother, Sarah Taub, a family physician, was born in Petah Tikva, Israel. Her father, Zwi, is a former Hungarian soldier who survived the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp and met Eldridge’s grandmother, Gitta, a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, at a refugee camp in Italy after the war. The family made its way to Canada, settling in Montreal, where Zwi worked as a tailor and Gitta as a hairdresser, raising their daughter in the Orthodox tradition. Taub insisted Sean’s father, Stephen, convert before they got married in Montreal. Eldridge was born there and spent his childhood going to a Conservative shul in Toledo—where his mother, now divorced, still lives, with her practice in nearby rural Milan, Michigan—after a brief stint in Ann Arbor. It was at a Passover Seder in Montreal that Hughes first met the Eldridge clan. The young couple had been introduced by a mutual friend at a brunch in Cambridge in 2005, when Eldridge was working as a customer service rep at a moving company and Hughes was finishing at Harvard. Hughes went on to run the online organizing operation for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, while Eldridge finished his undergraduate degree, in philosophy, at Brown.”[TabletMag]
“A possible successor to Foxman at the ADL, but definitely not a clone” – Unlike some of the other names being floated, Thane Rosenbaum is not an organizational insider, a Jewish-community leader or a politico with close ties to the administration. Nor has he ever managed an operation anywhere near the size of the ADL. So when Foxman let him know his candidacy was being considered for this most coveted of jobs in the world of Jewish organizations, the 54-year-old law professor, novelist and essayist was frankly surprised. That is, until he gave it some serious thought. It’s a long shot, he knows, but if he were offered the job of running the world’s best-known anti-Semitism watchdog, would he accept? “I’d answer the call,” he says, “and I’d be very honored.” [Haaretz] — “Suffolk Law School Commencement Speaker Abraham Foxman Draws Controversy” [Boston.com]
Pollard Off The Table: The release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is not on the table anymore, a WH official told Haaretz on Saturday. “Pollard’s release was discussed in a very specific context, and the circumstances that allowed such discussion no longer exist,” the senior White House official said. [Barak Ravid] — Peres asked to push for Pollard’s release at final White House meeting: Efforts to bring about the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard will shift back to humanitarian grounds as President Shimon Peres takes his final visit to the White House on June 25 to meet with President Barack Obama, officials involved in the effort told Jpost Sunday… Esther Pollard, the agent’s wife, is expected to meet with Peres before he departs for Washington to urge him to use his close relationship with Obama to save her husband’s life, according to the report. Peres is seen as the only Israeli official close enough to Obama to persuade him. [Jpost]
BENNETT’S ALTERNATIVE ‘TWO STATE SOLUTION’ PLAN: “I call it ‘imperfect peace.’ We’ll give them more autonomy, on steroids. It includes a solution to the problem of freedom of movement and massive investment in joint infrastructure. My assumption is that the conflict cannot be solved, but we can live with it. True, there might be a worsening of the security situation, but will there be another Intifada? No, since the security umbrella belongs to us. Time is not working against us. It’s stable.” [Interview with Haaretz] — On Kerry’s Apartheid warning: “It won’t happen. I don’t want to rule over the Palestinians. We are in a very problematic area of an Islamic storm that could continue for another 50 years. We have no control over it — only over how we deal with it. Three years ago Ehud Barak said that within two months Assad would fall. Nu, in the meantime he has massacred tens of thousands more. Our intelligence also didn’t forecast the developments, since it is impossible to forecast almost anything.”
— On Settlement Activity: “If we leave the territories we will need to increase the defense budget unimaginably, like when we left Gaza. A Palestinian state would bring down the Israeli economy. The economy needs quiet. [But] we don’t need peace for the economy to take off. It knows how to prosper even without a peace treaty. But a difficult security situation, when rockets are falling on the Dan region or a large number of terror attacks are happening, as there were after the failed Camp David summit, that’s what will stop the economy. If we allow the Palestinians to control Ben-Gurion Airport and the Dan region, and a missile hits a single plane, no businessman and no tourist will come here.”
TOP-ED: Michael Oren – “Israel isn’t, and will never be, an apartheid state”: “Outside of the West Bank, in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods. Arabs serve in Israel’s parliament, in its army and on its Supreme Court. And though discrimination in Israel , as in America, remains a scourge, there is no imposed segregation. Go to any Israeli mall, any restaurant or hospital, and you will see Arabs and Jews interacting.
–This reality has not prevented Israel’s enemies from branding it with the apartheid label.They do so not to achieve a better peace arrangement with Israel but to isolate it internationally and to eliminate it through sanctions. We Jews remember how each attempt to obliterate us, whether in the Inquisition or during the Holocaust, was preceded by a campaign to delegitimize us. People who practice apartheid are easily considered illegitimate. Israel is not an apartheid state and will not become one, even if the Palestinians continue to reject peace. However unwittingly, those who associate apartheid with Israel are aiding the third and perhaps ultimate stage in the effort to destroy the nation. They are also committing a grave injustice to the millions of American and South African blacks who were the victims of true apartheid.” [LA Times]
Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman: U.S. ‘Wrong’ On Settlement Policy: Foreign MinisterAvigdor Lieberman said on Saturday that while he acknowledges the special relationship between Israel and the United States, he is convinced that “the Americans have erred in the past regarding settlements, and they are erring big time today.”“Israel and the United States are the truest of friends,” the foreign minister told Channel 2′s political talk show ‘Meet the Press’… “This cooperation has yielded tremendous results to this day. [But] the Americans have been wrong in the past, and they are dead wrong today because Jewish settlement activity has never been an obstacle to peace, neither in the agreement with Egypt or in the peace treaty with Jordan.”.. . “We need to do everything smartly, and not to allow ourselves to be provoked and lash out,” Lieberman said. “You need to explain your position and be consistent. There’s no need to clash with the Americans, but you can’t capitulate either. Instead, what you could do is offer an alternative and persuade the Americans.” [JP Updates]
FREE BEACON REPORT: Indyk Overheard Bashing Israel At DC Hotel Bar: Outgoing Middle East envoy Martin Indyk was overheard at an upscale DC bar bashing Israel and fully blaming it for the recent failure of peace talks with the Palestinians, according to an individual who overheard the conversation and provided the quotes to The Washington Free Beacon. The conversation took place over drinks with several members of his staff and fiancé, Gahl Burt, in the hotel bar at the Ritz-Carlton on Thursday night, shortly after Indyk finished delivering remarks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s (WINEP) annual gala… “The tone was nasty,” the source who overheard the conversation told the Free Beacon. “In the 30 minute conversation, no one at the table mentioned a single wrong thing the Palestinians had done. There was no self-criticism whatsoever.” [Washington Free Beacon] — U.S Denies Report: “What you’ve heard is categorically false. It didn’t happen, period,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told the Free Beacon. “After Ambassador Indyk gave a public speech where he said both sides were responsible for the breakdown in talks, he spent five minutes chatting with his team — and did not say one word about Israel.” “That was it. What your secondhand source has told you is just not true,” Harf said. [ToI]
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BridgeGate: Rabbi’s Name Comes Up At Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye’s Testimony: The calendar entries also show Baroni had scheduled meetings with two other figures who have emerged in connection to the lane-closure scandal but whose roles remain unexplained… Baroni’s schedule indicates he planned to meet with Rabbi Mendy Carlebach in July, August and October 2013. Those meetings coincide with the period that Carlebach, a Port Authority police chaplain, allegedly upset Wildstein, his colleague and adviser. Wildstein wrote that Carlebach had “pissed me off,” in a text message with Kelly in August, and Wildstein and Kelly exchanged jokes about causing traffic jams in front of Carlebach’s house and orchestrating delays for flights to Tel Aviv…. Carlebach has said he had never spoken to Wildstein and only exchanged pleasantries with Kelly. [North Jersey]
New York – Satmar Village, Kiryas Joel. Orders Map of ‘Hasidic Landlords’: As part of its controversial plan to annex 507 acres of land upstate, the ultra-Orthodox village of Kiryas Joel commissioned a map highlighting “Hasidic Jewish landowners” surrounding the town — a move that angry sect members have compared to Hitler’s record-keeping…. “It reminds all of us of the 1940s, when the Nazis did exactly this — an account of every Jew, and their businesses,” said one source who grew up in the Orange County village founded in the 1970s by the Satmar Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum. “Why do they need to know who’s a Hasidic Jew and who’s not? Why does it matter?” [NY Post]
BRITAIN – Jewish figures from the worlds of business, property, sport and media are among the wealthiest people in the United Kingdom: Music and media investor Len Blavatnik, Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich and London-based Israeli shipping magnate Idan Ofer feature prominently in the Sunday Times Rich List, which details the 1,000 most affluent people in the UK. Mr Blavatnik is fourth wealthiest in the list with a fortune of £10bn – he was also named the richest man in the music industry… Alan Howard was named the wealthiest hedge fund manager, with a £1.6bn fortune – ranking in 53rd place. TV personality Lord Sugar, 67, whose £900m property empire rose by £40m on last year, came in 110th place on the list. Music mogul Simon Cowell, whose father is Jewish and who has had a son with Jewish-American socialite Lauren Silverman, ranked in 307th place with a £300m fortune… East-End born Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis is listed in 26th place with £3.35bn. Iranian textile tycoon Lord Alliance, a Liberal Democrat peer, was ranked in 155th place with a £650m fortune. Baghdad-born property developers David and Simon Reuben in seventh place with £9bn; South African diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer and family came eighteenth with £4.57bn; and Mr Ofer was in 25th place, with £3.43bn… Philanthropist Mark Pears, with his family; CharediBenzion Freshwater with his family; and media owner Richard Desmond all feature with respective fortunes of £2.3bn, £1.25bn and £1.2bn. The Russian Muslim magnate Alisher Usmanov, who is married to Jewish gymnastics coach Irina Viner, was placed second in the list with £10.65bn. [The Jewish Chronicle]
GlencoreXstrata faces fresh grilling over business deals in Congo with Israeli businessman Dan Gertler at annual meeting: GlencoreXstrata, the world’s largest commodities trader, enriched a friend of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s president by tens of millions of dollars while also giving him loans in excess of $500m (£298m), a report has claimed. Dan Gertler, a friend of the DRC president Joseph Kabila, made $67m in deals conducted with Glencore in the impoverished African country, when the Israeli billionaire and the London-listed commodity trader took over one of Congo’s biggest copper producers. He also borrowed $568m from Glencore in order to participate in a series of deals between 2007 and 2010.” [TheGuardian]
StartUp Nation: Israel’s MobilEye Makes Confidential IPO Filing for Nasdaq Listing: “Israeli-based MobilEye aims to raise as much as $1 billion in an initial public offering this year on the Nasdaq Stock Market that could value the developer of collision-avoidance technology at between $3.5 billion and $5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. The company, whose systems are used by some of the world’s biggest car makers, made a confidential filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, one of these people said. MobilEye develops and manufactures systems for cars that warn drivers of possible collisions. They also incorporate traffic-signs and traffic-lights recognition capabilities. MobilEye was co-founded in 1999 by Amnon Shashua, a Hebrew University expert in programming computers to process data inputted from cameras, and Ziv Aviram, the company’s chief executive. Its main research and development facilities are located in Jerusalem.” [WSJ]
Sports Blink: Maccabi Tel Aviv wins Euroleague final 98-86: Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won the Euroleague basketball final 96-86 Sunday night against Real Madrid in Milan in a nail-biting overtime victory. Other Maccabi players and coaches called it the greatest victory in the team’s history, eclipsing even its first, legendary 1977 championship, when then captain Tal Brody had proclaimed, “We are on the map.” The delighted surprise at the triumphant culmination of the season contrasted utterly with the team’s shaky start in 2013-14, when it lost numerous domestic games, to the point where there were calls for the sacking of Boston-born coach David Blatt.” [ToI]
Book Review: ‘The Lion’s Gate’ by Steven Pressfield: “Twenty-four hours into the Six Day War of 1967, two dozen Israeli flight-school jets rumbled into the air, the only line of defense between a convoy of Jordanian tanks and Jerusalem. Zvi Kanor, at 19 the youngest pilot in the Israeli Air Force, remembers taking off in a “heavy, lumbering bucket,” which had “no bombs and only a peashooter 5.62-millimeter gun. It had no weapons panel at all until the flight mechanics cobbled one together a few days before the war.” With no targeting system, he had to eyeball his targets, flying so low that he could “see the seams of the welds on the turrets” of the Jordanian tanks. Somehow, Mr. Kanor’s rockets hit the tanks, and he watched them explode from the air “like cases of dynamite.”
–Steven Pressfield, a celebrated combat novelist, takes a different approach. “The Lion’s Gate” is what he calls a “hybrid history,” a narrative story drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans of the war, documentary research and the author’s imagination. The whole book is composed of first-person accounts, most factual but a few invented. He admits that he cares less about facts than feeling, hoping to convey a sense of the Israeli experience “in the cockpit, inside the tank, under the helmet.” Several soldiers interviewed by Mr. Pressfield relate how the improbable victory was only possible because of the audacious leadership of Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon. Dayan, age 52 by 1967, was a veteran of the Jewish community’s pre-state militia and two Israeli wars. He and Sharon clashed repeatedly during the 1956 Suez Crisis—Dayan once referred to Sharon as an “overeager warhorse.” But even when Sharon was clearly insubordinate, Dayan defended him. The two generals shared what Sharon called a “complexity at the top, simplicity at the bottom” military philosophy. In other words, commanders should give soldiers clear goals but provide them with the freedom to improvise. Only a nimble force, they believed, could triumph.” [WSJ]
That’s all folks, have a great Monday!
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