Daily Kickoff: Bashar al-Assad’s birthday present from the US | Ted Cruz’s Epic Moment | Uber for religious women | AIPAC backs PA return to Gaza
2016 WATCH – SEN. TED CRUZ BOOED OFF THE STAGE FOR SUPPORTING ISRAEL: Last night at the In Defense of Christians gala, Cruz was booed after making pro-Israel comments and calling Israel America’s most important ally in the Middle East. “Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” he said, to a chorus of boos, and emphasized that “ISIS, al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, state sponsors like Syria and Iran, are all engaged in a vicious genocidal campaign to destroy religious minorities in the Middle East. Sometimes we are told not to loop these groups together, that we have to understand their so called nuances and differences. But we shouldn’t try to parse different manifestations of evil that are on a murderous rampage through the region. Hate is hate, and murder is murder. Our purpose here tonight is to highlight a terrible injustice, a humanitarian crisis.” As the heckling intensified, Cruz quipped, “‘If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Good night, and God bless.’ And with that, he walked off the stage.” [Daily Caller] [YouTube]
COME BACK: AIPAC has backed a bipartisan Senate letter calling for U.S. assistance to help the Palestinian Authority return to power in the Gaza Strip. Sens. Robert Casey (D-PA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) are gathering additional signatories. “We must enable efforts to enable the Palestinian Authority to exercise real power in Gaza,” the letter says.“Real peace between Israelis and Palestinians will require a Palestinian partner that controls the West Bank and Gaza, is focused on economic development in both areas, and will accept Gaza’s demilitarization,” it continues. “We must start this process now.” [JTA]
OBAMA’S PLAN: Airstrikes. Support troops in Iraq. Aid the Syrian opposition. Cut off the money and aid those under attack. Those are the key components of Obama’s strategy for taking down ISIS, which the President outlined in a speech Tuesday night 9 PM EST. “I know many Americans are concerned about these threats,” said the President. “Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve. Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.” The public response thus far has ranged from tacit approval of and calls for cooperation with the plan, to frustrated cries of “finally, Mr. President!” [Vice; CNN; Washington Post] Video of speech in 2 minutes [Politico]
TOP QUOTE: From Peter Baker – “In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him.” [NYTimes]
ON THIS DATE IN… (via the AP): 2001 – “On Sept. 11, al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four passenger jetliners in the United States. They flew two into the World Trade Center in New York City, causing the 110-story twin towers to collapse. Another plowed into the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed. • 1941 – “Charles A. Lindbergh sparked charges of anti-Semitism with a speech in which he blamed “the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration” for trying to draw the United States into World War II.” [AP]
ISRAEL & AZERBAIJAN BOLSTER TIES: “Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon began a two-day visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday aiming to bolster burgeoning ties with its strategic and defense trade partner that conveniently borders northeast Iran.” [DefenseNews]
HAPPENING TODAY: At 8:15AM EST, Netanyahu will speak at the Counter Terrorism Institute summit in Herzliya. • At 9AM, the RJC National Women’s Committee will hear from Katie Pavlich, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, and Rep. Aaron Schock, at the Mayflower hotel in DC. • At 12:30PM, The Washington Institute for Near East Peace hosts a webcast with Ehud Yaari and Robert Satloff on “Gaza and Beyond: The Arab-Israeli Arena in the Wake of the Hamas War” [WashInstitute] • At 7:15PM, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Naomi Wolf debate whether “Israel is guilty of genocide in Gaza?” in NYC. The event will be moderated by Ken Kurson, editor at the New York Observer.
GLOBAL BDS WATCH: “Protesters who are boycotting Israeli goods over Gaza need to be reminded that the Nazi campaign against Jewish goods ended with a campaign against Jewish lives, England’s senior Tory Michael Gove has said. Warning of a ‘resurgent, mutating, lethal virus of antisemitism’, the Conservative chief whip also claimed those who compare Israel’s actions to Nazi war crimes are engaging in a form of Holocaust denial.” [Guardian]
START-UP NATION: Many IDF 8200 alumni are making a name (and a pretty penny) for themselves in the startup world, “such as Gil Shwed and Marius Nacht, the billionaire cofounders of Check Point Software, and Nir Zuk, founder of Palo Alto Networks (market value: $6.6 billion).” [Forbes] • A new start-up wants to connect religious Muslim and orthodox Jewish women with female taxi drivers, but faces regulatory obstacles (for discrimination based upon religion and gender) that may prevent it from successfully taking off in NYC. [NY Daily News] • Think Israeli companies are quick to sell out? Not so fast.”Israel is known for its engineering prowess, but less so for spawning big, independent tech companies. That may be changing…Late-stage tech companies in Israel raised $447 million in the second quarter, twice as much as the total financing in the previous quarter, according to Tel Aviv-based IVC Research Center…Israeli entrepreneurs ‘are growing more established companies,’ said Koby Simana, the chief executive officer at IVC. ‘This is a broadening of startup nation.'” [Bloomberg]
REAL-ESTATE ROUNDUP: “Prolific development duo Joseph Chetrit and Clipper Equity received $228.5 million in construction funds to convert a Midtown hotel that was foreclosed on last year to a combination of office and residential condominiums.” [Observer] • “Extell Development’s Gary Barnett sold off the Midtown development site at the center of the firm’s lawsuit with landlord Sheldon Solow. The five-story building at 16-18 West 57th Street traded for $95 million, according to public records. The property has 24,000 square feet and comes with 75,000 square feet of buildable air rights.” [TRD] • “Lev Leviev, the billionaire controlling shareholder of Africa Israel Investments, is building a palatial new home in the Tel Aviv suburb of Savyon, unsurprisingly in an area developed by his own company in recent years. Leviev, who made his fortune in the diamond industry before acquiring Africa Israel, is constructing a home of some 700 square meters (2,300 square feet) at an estimated cost of 10 million shekels ($2.7 million.) Now unadorned concrete, the home features a large portico and pillars in the front.” [Haaretz]
TALK OF OUR NATION: Oy-veh: Yiddish is a dying language, studies show. However, don’t kvetch too much — the language of our forefathers “will ultimately [be saved] from becoming a “dead” language [by] a renewed interest in the rich arts and culture of Yiddish.” [The Atlantic] • Life in the states is pretty dull, according to a new Israeli government video aimed at convincing American college-aged Jews to make aliyah and escape the lame-ness of their stateside ways. [Tablet]
ON OUR NIGHTSTANDS: “Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had only three months to live. Zacks—who would die in February 2014—decided to make his bedroom a school in which he and those he loved would study together about how to live at the end of life. What a school it was, and what a faculty gathered at his bedside! The details are chronicled in Zacks’s posthumously published book, “Redefining Moments: End of Life Stories for Better Living.” [JNS]
JEWISH DESIGNERS @ NYC FASHION-WEEK: 10 AM EST Ralph Lauren will debut his Spring Collection for NYC Fashion Week; at 2 PM EST Calvin Klein will debut his on Varick Street.
DESSERT: Words, who needs ’em? Apparently you if you’ve made it to the end of this email, but Apple’s release of the post-lingual iWatch may be changing that. “‘I watched the Apple event and was struck by the ‘post-linguistic’ nature of the communications Apple is now pushing,’ said Ben Zimmer, a prominent linguist and language commentator. ‘It’s a canny direction for Apple to be heading, in large part because these visual cues are independent of any particular language and thus can work well in any market in the world.’” [Washington Post] • Jerusalem-born manager of the band U2 discusses the band’s shifting strategy. [Billboard]
BIRTHDAYS: Bashar al-Assad turns 49 • Yehiel Kalish • Avital Chizhik