Daily Kickoff: Kerry to restart peace talks | Tel Aviv University leads in innovation | Beinart on Obama’s Foreign Policy | Dershowitz Birthday
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Hundreds of thousands can die in Syria; the Taliban can menace and destabilize Afghanistan; Iran can move closer to getting a bomb. No matter. With rare exceptions, Obama only unsheathes his sword against people he thinks might kill American civilians.” — Peter Beinart on Obama’s Foreign Policy (See Top-Ops)
DRIVING THE DAY: US Secretary of State John Kerry is attempting to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which fell apart in April, likely in response to PA President Abbas’ thinly-veiled threats of taking increased international diplomatic action against Israel, including demanding that the US and Israel outline specific borders for a Palestinian state.
DAILY NEWS: Israel has announced plans to develop 1,000 acres of land near Bethlehem, on which 10 Israeli families currently live. The move would represent the largest settlement construction for Israel in 30 years, and is drawing criticism from the US government, who calls the move “counterproductive.” ••• The Palestinian Authority is claiming that the US has not “provided a single penny” to the unity government since January 1, and that European countries have given only one-third of their promised amounts. Most countries categorize Hamas as a terrorist organization, and the unity agreement between the PA and Hamas has brought donations to the unity government from countries under intense criticism. In the interim, Qatar has reportedly stepped up to fund the unity government. ••• Egypt has agreed to ease restrictions on the Rafah checkpoint only if PA troops, not Hamas, are in control of the crossing. ••• Newly declassified documents reveal that the US and Israel worked together closely during 1968 and 1969 to defend Israel’s nuclear program in order to deter Arab nations from striking Israel. As the Arab nations were largely viewed as irrational actors who would be somewhat immune to transitional nuclear deterrence, the program was viewed skeptically in most other parts of the world. ••• The editor of the New York Times Magazine defended the publication’s controversial photo essay on Gaza and Israel, citing the extensive experience and sensitivity of both photographers who worked on the project.
ISIS CRISIS: US officials have expressed great concern over ISIS’s advanced command of social media. The group has combined meticulous planning with well-executed videos, advertisements (some in English), and messaging focused on attacks in the Middle East, not the Western world, to recruit internationally.
DRIVING THE WEEK: Ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (Chairman, R-CA) and Eliot Engel (Ranking member, D-NY) have announced they will be in Israel this week to show bipartisan support of Israel in light of the recent conflict with Gaza and threats to stability in the Middle East. The Congressmen are scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, among other top ranking Israeli and Palestinian officials.
ELECTION WATCH: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign has been spending a lot of money recently, including over $23,000 to take Cuomo and his entourage to Israel. ••• Henry Waxman, an accomplished Jewish Democratic Congressman hailing from LA, has announced his retirement at the end of this year. President Obama has called the Congressman “one of the most accomplished legislators of his or any other era.” Waxman has endorsed Democratic candidate Ted Lieu, who is slated to win the seat, over Jewish Republican candidate Elan Carr.
TOP-OPS AND INTERVIEWS: Peter Beinart argues that contrary to the opinions of his critics, President Obama does indeed have a strategy in the Middle East, but it is one of “fierce minimalism.” ••• Lazar Palnick defends Hillary Clinton, who has been under fire by many for being anti-Israel, and cites her close relationship to the Jewish community. ••• Former AP correspondent Matti Friedman discusses the disproportionate focus on Israel in the Media in an interview on CNN.
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STARTUP NATION: Tel Aviv University was one of three Israeli Universities to be ranked in PitchBook’s ranking of innovative universities. Tel Aviv University came in 9th based on alumni going on to found successful companies, behind stalwarts such as Stanford and MIT but ranked above Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia. Since 2009, Tel Aviv University alumni have raised a combined $1.25 billion for their startups. ••• Crossrider, a high tech advertising business that connects advertisers to online consumers and is backed by Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, is set to be valued by a London listing at around $250 million and plans to raise approximately $75 million. ••• Former vice chairman of e-currency Bitcoin will plead guilty to charges of unlicensed money transmission, concerning a scheme to sell over $1 million of bitcoin currency to users on the illegal online marketplace Silk Road.
RISING STAR: Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister of Poland, will become the first EU president from the former Soviet Bloc in December. “’His supreme talent is his charm’, according to Pawel Piskorski, who co-founded the Civic Platform party with Tusk in 2001 before being forced out in 2006.” This personality will be instrumental in navigating the ruthless landscape of EU politics.
SPORTS BLINK: Idan Ravin, who never played professionally but went on to train NBA greats such as Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry, has released a new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” detailing his rise from a Jewish upbringing to well-respected figure in NBA circles. ••• The Cleveland Cavaliers have picked up several star players and a new Israeli-American coach, David Blatt.
JEWISH CULTURE: Legendary comic Joan Rivers is being awakened from a medically induced coma following the incident Thursday in which she stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure. ••• At the Venice Film Festival, Israeli film “A Farewell Party” explores the idea of physician-assisted suicide with a dose of humor and lightheartedness, chronicling a group of retirement home patients in Jerusalem who create a euthanasia machine for a suffering friend. ••• Celebrated Israeli playwright Israel Horovitz will be premiering his first feature film, “My Old Lady,” starring Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith, at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7th. The play comedically chronicles an ex-New Yorker who comes to Paris to claim an inherited apartment only to find an elderly woman living there with her daughter. ••• Dunkin’ Doughnuts has opened its second kosher South Florida location in Dania, FL.
LONG-READ:Jewish developer Harold Schwartz has built a fascinating retirement community megalith boasting hundreds of thousands of residents, midmorning happy hours and easy living.
BIRTHDAYS: Lawyer and political advocate Alan Dershowitz turns 76… Harris Vederman.