Daily Kickoff: Goldberg’s Netanyahu Exclusive; Russia – U.S. C(habad)OLD (books) WAR; Ambassador Oren’s Plan B; Sheldon Silver Blames Sheldon E. Silver

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Last Night, Late Night: In Israel, Jay Leno pokes Obama, Kerry: “Jay Leno might be gone from late night, but he still had some material, as host of the first Genesis Prize in a ceremony held at the Jerusalem Theater in Israel, ribbing President Barack Obama and the Mideast peace process. “Obama has declared the month of May Jewish American Heritage Month. He is calling it an opportunity to renew our ‘unbreakable bond with the nation of Israel,’” Leno said Thursday at the event which honoredMichael Bloomberg. “And he knows it’s unbreakable because he’s been trying to break it for the last five years.” “I’ve been doing my research. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, here in Israel, the most popular boy’s name is Noam. Noam is the most popular boy’s name in the country. The least popular boy’s name? John Kerry,” Leno joked. [Politico] — Other Leno Jokes: “I was stunned by how many Israeli politicians are going to prison. When you ask an Israeli politician what his cell number is, it has a whole other meaning”… “I’m told that the Genesis Prize is the Jewish Nobel Prize. I thought the Nobel Prize WAS the Jewish Prize”…”If this year was the Genesis Prize, is next year the Exodus Prize?” H/T @AllisonKSommer [Twitter]

–Bloomberg Plans Contest For Genesis Prize Money: “The Genesis Prize Foundation announced today that the inaugural Genesis Prize Laureate, Mr. Michael R. Bloomberg, has chosen to invest the $1 Million award to create a global competition, named the Genesis Generation Challenge. The new competition will strive to find – and fund – the next big idea that would measurably better the world. The Genesis Generation Challenge is designed to encourage teams of change agents from across the world to submit ideas for projects, guided by Jewish values, that demonstrate innovation and creativity in addressing the world’s pressing issues. Up to 10 winning teams each will be awarded at least $100,000 to implement their initiatives. The competition will officially begin on August 1, 2014 through an online submission process found at www.Genesis-Generation.org. Winners will be announced in the first quarter of 2015.” [PressRelease] [Video] — The Genesis Prize produced a ‘campaign style’ video honoring Bloomberg with cameos from Bono, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, Ken Chenault, Geoffrey Canada, Marjorie Bloomberg Tiven, Georgina Bloomberg, Emma Bloomberg, and Mike himself[YouTube] — Mikhail Fridman OpEd: “The genesis of the Genesis Prize” [JPost]

First Look: Jeffrey Goldberg’s Exclusive Interview With Prime Minister Netanyahu – “Netanyahu Says Obama Got Syria Right” in Bloomberg View: “Netanyahu has some uncharacteristically positive words for one of Obama’s most controversial foreign policy initiatives: the deal struck last year to remove chemical weapons from Syria. The chemical weapons of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have posed a murderous threat to Israel, and there is broad relief in Jerusalem that this particular menace appears to be dissipating. Obama actually gets more credit for the deal in Israel — particularly among leaders of the country’s national-security apparatus — than he often does in Washington.

–During the interview, “Netanyahu was careful to stress his pro-American bona fides, and he vociferously denied recent reports that Israel is engaged in aggressive acts of espionage in the U.S. “Israel has not conducted any espionage operations in the United States, period. Full stop,” he said. “Not direct espionage, not indirect espionage, nothing, zero.” The prime minister was expansive; he had just completed what both Israeli and U.S. participants described to me as a productive meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. But Netanyahu, though seemingly relaxed, was also quite difficult. We spent the first 10 minutes of our discussion renegotiating the terms of our meeting (when I could use a digital recorder, topics we could cover on the record, and so on). I quickly remembered a truism about Netanyahu: that he would give live television interviews on background if such a thing were possible.

–Netanyahu also hinted that he is weighing suggestions from a large number of Israelis that he should consider taking unilateral steps to disengage from sections of the West Bank that are heavily populated by Palestinians, even if this means uprooting Jewish settlements. “We want a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said. “How do you get that if you can’t get it through negotiations? It’s true that the idea of taking unilateral steps is gaining ground, from the center-left to the center-right. Nevertheless, Netanyahu said that something must be done to prevent the collapse of Israel as a Jewish-majority democratic nation. “We don’t want a binational state, and we don’t want a Palestinian-Iranian state next door,” he said. “There is an emerging consensus that we don’t have a partner who can challenge constituencies, do something unpopular, do something that is difficult. Abbas has not done anything to challenge the prevailing Palestinian consensus.” “Look at what I’ve done,” he said. “I gave the speech at Bar-Ilan University, a religious university, five years ago recognizing the two-state solution. Second, I tried a 10-month [settlement] freeze, and Abbas did nothing. Then I did something that was the toughest of all — I released terrorist prisoners, killers of innocent people. That was the hardest decision.”

–Going Forward: “We still have a ways to go to solve the Israel-Palestinian dispute. But there is a broader recognition that this issue shouldn’t hold us hostage. Israel is rapidly developing relations in Asia. We have conversations with many Asian countries, Latin American countries, African countries. These countries want to seize the future, and they recognize that the only way they can win is to innovate, and Israel is one of the great centers of innovation in the world. These countries understand that they have to upgrade their products and services with technology in order to compete in a rapidly changing world. Israel is seen as an R&D lab by many governments and companies, and they’re interested in Israeli technology. These countries and companies are not being held back by the continuing conflict. I hope we resolve it, for our sake. I hope we resolve it because I don’t want a binational state. I hope we resolve it because I’d like to have broader and more open relations with the Arab world, and I hope to resolve it in order to remove the unjustified attacks on Israel. But we are proceeding ahead despite this. We don’t mortgage our future to the maturation of Palestinian politics.” [BloombergView]

Joshua Davidovich (@JMDavido), Deputy Editor at Times of Israel, Tweets: “Bloomberg comes to Israel for Genesis prize, Netayahu gives Bloomberg’s @JeffreyGoldberg rare exclusive interview. Something smells weird.”

Mazal Tov to Jeffrey Goldberg’s Daughter: Talia Goldberg, daughter of Pamela Reeves and Jeffrey Goldberg, was selected by the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel to be part of its 2014 cohort. “An accomplished singer, Goldberg is a member of the GDS singers, and the school’s chamber choir, touring choir and all-girls a cappella group for which she serves as the manager. Goldberg has also performed at Adas Israel, where she and her family are members. Outside of school, Goldberg volunteers at Martha’s Table, a food bank and social service center. “I’m looking forward to meeting other kids who are as interested as I am in Judaism and Judaism’s place in the world,” said Goldberg. “I don’t go to a Jewish day school, so it will be cool to meet students who are as interested.” [JewishTimes] —- Related: Jewish Teens Take a Bus Across America To Develop Jewish Identity [TabletMag]

Scene Last Night: Russian Jewish ‘Oligarch’ Len Blavatnik bid $15,000,000 at the Amfar Gala auction in Cap D’Antibes, France, and won a gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth by Damien Hirst with all the proceeds going to Amfar…. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick addressed the Israel Consulate in Boston’s 66th Independence Day of the State of Israel Gala..

Top Talker: NY Assembly Speaker Finds Fall Guy: Another Sheldon Silver: “In the 1970s, Mr. Silver, a Democrat, worked with a new nonprofit group, the United Jewish Council of the East Side, to block low-income housing on a large, barren site in his district on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the beginning of a decades-long effort that was described in a recent article in The New York Times. Those actions, Mr. Silver insisted after the article was published, were actually taken by another man: Sheldon E. Silver, a Minneapolis-born lawyer who moved to Brooklyn in the early 1970s and died in 2001. “I was forever confused with this guy,” Mr. Silver said at a breakfast he hosted on Thursday at the state Democratic Party convention. “Even after he left there, I got phone calls from people who I knew.”

–But the documents cited in the article make clear that Speaker Silver — a master at distancing himself from controversies and scandals in his chamber — was in fact the person who pressed New York City officials to allow an international mall to be built on the site, instead of low-income housing. The letter quoted was written on his official stationery from the Assembly. And minutes of the meetings with city officials clearly identify Mr. Silver as the lawmaker, not the similarly named lawyer from Brooklyn. After Mr. Silver’s office saw those documents, it dropped its request for a correction on which Mr. Silver pressed for the mall in the 1970s. But the office held on to one claim of mistaken identity: The “Sheldon Silver Esq.” identified as counsel to United Jewish Council on the group’s letterhead from all those years was not the assemblyman, but the other Mr. Silver.

–Enter Shoshana Silver, the widow of the deceased lawyer… If anything written on behalf of the council had Mr. Silver’s name on it after 1974, it had nothing to do with her husband, she said. Throughout the late 1970s, United Jewish Council’s stationery lists the counsel as Sheldon Silver, Esq. — exactly how Speaker Silver, who has no middle name, listed his name in his official registration with the state court. The other Mr. Silver is registered as “Sheldon E. Silver.”… Had the lawyer from Minneapolis been the group’s counsel through the early 1980s, he would have made acquaintances with some of Speaker Silver’s closest and longest allies. Sheldon E. Silver’s family finds it a little humorous that his three decades as a work-a-day lawyer in Brooklyn somehow muddled the résumé of the powerful Assembly leader… That other Mr. Silver was the son of nonobservant Jews… Shoshana Silver, who works as a special-education teacher, chuckled when told the politician insisted her husband had met with officials and a prominent developer in the mid-1970s to push for the construction of a large mall. “I guess he doesn’t want to take responsibility for those things,” she said.” [NYTimes]

The Big IronyBDS Movement to Boycott Billionaire George Soros for Investing in SodaStream: “Yesterday the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement called for a boycott of billionaire investor and activist George Soros. Ironically, Soros, through his Open Society Foundation, is known for funding many similarly oriented non-governmental organizations. These groups are active in promoting the Durban strategy by attempting to portray Israel as a “racist” and “apartheid state” that commits “war crimes.” A primary goal of such demonizing language is to isolate Israel internationally, leading to the implementation of sanctions. Many of these NGO recipients are also leaders in the international boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) and “lawfare” campaigns, including the filing of international lawsuits aimed at harassing Israeli officials.” [TheTower] — @Yair_Rosenberg tweeted: “Amusing upshot here is that when @jstreetdotorg is accused of supporting BDS, they can now point to their Soros money”Michael Oren’s ‘Plan B’ for Mideast Peace: Speaking yesterday at the Atlantic Council in D.C., former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, discussed the latest failed round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians and what approach should be taken going forward… “I have advocated for what I call Plan B which is an initiative designed to ensure Israel’s democratic and Jewish integrity. It will enable Israel to defend itself all the while keeping the door open to a more permanent negotiated solution. This is how it works…” “If and when the Palestinians declare a state at the U.N., and they will define it according to the 1967 lines, Israel will then declare it’s own borders. …borders will follow demographic lines. They will seek to include the maximum number of Israelis within Israel’s borders and the minimum number of Palestinians. They will ensure a unified Jerusalem and include Jewish holy places — which is important for Israeli constituencies. But most vitally for Israel, it will maintain Israel’s deployment in the Jordan valley and it will also preserve Israel’s latitude of action. In short, Plan B ends what the Palestinians, and most of the world, call “the occupation” and will greatly reduce the threat of sanctions to Israel… Let’s be clear, the Palestinians will not like Plan B. Which I see as a positive factor because only if they dislike Plan B will they have an incentive to come back to the negotiating table. The door will be kept open and they can come back without pre-conditions to negotiate a two state solution which will be more to their liking. I stress, a two state solution is the preferable course but it may take years and generations to accomplish. In the interim though,… Israelis and Palestinians can lead secure and prosperous lives while they learn to coexist.” Video [JewishInsider]TOP-Ed: Dennis B. Ross – “Open a Middle Road to Mideast Peace”: “Mr. Kerry should also make it clear that if both leaders want the United States to continue to seek a final status deal, then they must both tangibly demonstrate their commitment to a two-state outcome. Mr. Netanyahu would be asked to take two steps. First, he would have to declare that Israel will only build in what it considers to be the state of Israel and that it will no longer build in what it considers to be the future Palestinian state. That would mean building only in certain designated settlement blocs and existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Second, he would have to pledge to open up what is known as Area C — 60 percent of the West Bank’s land — to Palestinian economic activity.

–Mr. Abbas would also be asked to take two steps. First, he would have to declare openly that he recognizes there are two national movements, involving the Jewish and Palestinian people, and that they are competing for the same territory — and that the only way to fulfill both aspirations is to have two states. Second, he would be asked to state publicly that before Hamas can become part of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is what Hamas has been seeking in each reconciliation agreement, including the current one, it must accept the P.L.O.’s position on renouncing violence and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.” [NYTimes]

Unusual Announcement Department: “Debate with former Saudi head of intelligence and former Israeli head of military intelligence on May 26th.” The German Marshall Fund of the United States will live stream the first public panel discussion between a former Saudi head of intelligence, HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, and a former Israeli head of military intelligence, General Amos Yadlin, moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatious on gmfus.org. This conversation will address the most pressing foreign policy and security issues currently facing the Middle East including the peace process and the impact of a potentially nuclear Iran on the region.” [GMFUS]

Chopped Liver Department: “Ignoring Israel, Kerry says U.S. alone seeking Nigeria girls”:“The United States is alone in helping Nigeria locate more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamists, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday, despite help on the ground from Britain, France and Israel. However the United States is joined in Nigeria by Britain, France and Israel, which have sent their own experts. China, which saw 10 citizens likely abducted by Boko Haram in a region bordering Cameroon, has also proposed to help.” [AFP] — Watch Entire Speech [StateDept]

2016 Watch: Christie – No Apology For Not Mentioning ‘Israel’ During Speech at Boteach Event: 

“I don’t go to these things to pander,” Christie said.

Christie said that if people didn’t interpret the speech  “as supportive of Israel, they weren’t smart enough to be in the room.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/christie_chronicles/On-omitting-Israel-at-Jewish-event-Christie-says-he-doesnt-pander.html#T3BmcRUZGeToIyOK.99

If people didn’t interpret the speech “as supportive of Israel, they weren’t smart enough to be in the room.” [Philly] —- Jewish Senator Backs Hillary: “Barbara Boxer is the latest U.S. senator to put her support behind an outside group that is urging Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president in 2016. The California Democrat will headline a fundraiser for the Ready for Hillary “super PAC” on June 19 at the Washington home of businesswoman and philanthropist Edie Frasier.” [LA Times] — Sheldon Adelson jumps into the midterm elections by supporting Jewish Republican Elan Carr in his congressional bid. Adelson will host a fundraiser for Carr on May 29th in Los Angeles. [BigHollywood]

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

VIDEO – Obama sends regards to Israelis during stroll in the park: Obama decided to give up his motorcade in favor of a stroll through the streets of Washington DC, on his way to the Department of Interior. He passed an Israeli tourist who happened to be celebrating his birthday… The president wished the man a happy birthday, and asked him where he was from. “Israel” was the reply to which Obama then asked “Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.” The Israeli answered “Haifa.” Obama concluded by telling the Israeli to ”tell everybody back home that I say hi.” (JI wonders if this counts as an Obama recognition of ‘Jerusalem, Israel’?) Video [Ynet]

House Passes Defense Bill With Strong Pro-Israel Provisions – Double Funding for Iron Dome: “The House of Representatives on Thursday adopted the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2015 containing several key pro-Israel provisions helping our democratic ally meet critical defense needs during this period of heightened regional instability. The bill authorizes $350.9 million for the Iron Dome rocket defense system and $268.7 million for several U.S.-Israel cooperative missile and rocket defense programs including David’s Sling and Arrow 3. The House adopted an amendment by Reps. Peter Roskam (R- Il) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) which reiterates that it is “the policy of the United States to take all necessary steps to ensure that Israel possesses and maintains an independent capability to remove existential threats to its security and defend its vital national interests.” It requires a report every 180 days that the President submits to Congress on the status of various Qualitative Military Edge (QME) issues for Israel. Also adopted was an amendment by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) which states that, “Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to fully support Israel’s lawful exercise of self-defense, including actions to halt regional aggression.” [JPupdates] —– U.S. Senators Kirk & Wyden Call On President Obama to Raise Issue of Human Rights Violations in Iran [Press Release]

C(habad)OLD (Books) WAR: Reuters – “Russian Court Demands U.S. Library of Congress Hand Over Jewish Texts”: ” Russian court demanded on Thursday that the U.S. Library of Congress hand back seven precious Jewish texts to Moscow – and, in a tit-for-tat ruling, said it should pay a massive fine for every day it delays. The so-called Schneerson collection, claimed by both Russia and the New York-based Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch group, has become a bone of contention in Russia-U.S. ties, at their lowest for decades due to the Ukraine crisis. The Library of Congress has seven books of the collection, Interfax reported. Russia has 4,425 texts, including editions of the Torah and the Talmud, some of them dating back to the 16th century. A Moscow arbitration court ruled that the Library of Congress should pay $50,000 in fines for every day the seven books are not handed over. Moscow reacted angrily when a U.S. judge ruled last year Russia should pay $50,000 a day for failing to send the rest of the collection to the United States.” [Reuters] — Book Review of Steinsaltz’s New Biography On Schneerson [HuffingtonPost] — Campaigners hope pope’s visit to Israel will see Vatican Holocaust files released [TheGuardian] —- This Memorial Day, a new prayer book for Jewish U.S. soldiers and sailors [ReligionNewsService]

Economy, hostility push more Jews to quit France for Israel: “French Jews are moving to Israel at an unprecedented rate, leaving behind what they say is an increasingly unwelcoming atmosphere for a booming Israel luring them with tempting state funding. France’s Agence Juive, which tracks Jewish emigration, says 1,407 Jews left France for Israel in just the first three months of this year, putting 2014 on track to mark French Jews’ biggest exodus to the holy land since Israel’s birth in 1948. Last year’s total figure of 3,300 was a 73 percent increase on 2012.” [Reuters] — Amsterdam To Compensate Jews For WWII Taxes, Fines [AP]

Jewish Reps, Senators Urge Hungarian PM to Reconsider Nazi Occupation Monument Representative: Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), chairman of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP) and leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, was joined by 29 other Jewish representatives in calling on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to reconsider his current plans for the construction of a controversial monument in Budapest commemorating the victims of the Nazi occupation of Hungary. Critics of the monument claim that the monument, which is under construction, serves as an attempt for the Hungarian government to whitewash the active role Hungarian authorities and some Hungarians played in the Holocaust, pushing all the blame to Nazi Germany.”[WallStreetJournal

Sports Blink: 50 Senators Urge NFL & Washington Redskin’s Owner Dan Snyder To Change Name: “Fifty senators wrote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to officially call on the Washington franchise to change its team name from the Redskins – a request that was quickly shot down by the league. The senators urged Goodell to follow the lead of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who recently banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league over his statements on race. Goodell and Redskins owner Dan Snyder have come under increasing pressure to change the team’s name. Snyder has held firm on his stance from last year when he said: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. Never — you can use caps.” GOP Senators Left Out: “Not a single Republican senator signed on to letters sent this week by 50 senators to the NFL commissioner demanding a name change for the Washington Redskins. But no one asked them until the letter was already sent. One Republican — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose state has a significant portion of Native Americans — said he “probably” would have added his signature to the letter if he had been asked. That would have elevated the stature of the Democrats’ initiative by making it both bipartisan and endorsed by the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee.” [Politico]

StartUp Nation: “Israel’s Made for Web Film Contest Highlights Future of Content Creaton,” by Debra Kamin in Variety: “At the fourth annual Hong Kong Intl. Mobile Film Awards in March, more than half of the films competing for prizes were products of Israel, created for a new Internet film competition that brought together the Israeli government, entertainment and tech industries in a bid to push filmmaking onto smartphones and into the future. Dubbed Made for Web, the Israeli competition debuted at last summer’s Jerusalem Film Festival as part of a nationwide call for films that can be viewed not just on television screens and in movie halls, but also on handheld devices. A brainchild of the Israeli Film and Television Producers Assn., which partnered with Google and the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the contest called on local filmmakers and animators to think beyond typical media consumption and instead make movies that can be viewed anytime, anywhere, on a smartphone screen or tablet.” [Variety]

Dessert: BuzzFeed/reThinkIsrael – 51 Facts About Israel That Will Surprise You [BuzzFeed]

That’s all folks, have a great Friday!

**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**


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