Daily Kickoff: Prominent Jewish leader to host POTUS today | GOP Rep. Dent calls Cruz’s pro-Israel remarks ‘outrageous & incendiary’ | UK Power 100

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DRIVING THE DAY: Baltimore Sun A1 – “Obama to meet, raise money with connected advocate for Israel” by John Fritze: “President Barack Obama, who is attempting to help Democrats maintain their grip on the Senate, will attend a fundraiser Friday at the home of a wealthy Baltimore hedge fund manager who has become one of the nation’s foremost advocates for Israel. Howard E. Friedman, a former president of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and a leading patron of Jewish political causes, will host Obama for a dinner that will cost guests up to $32,400 — the maximum an individual may give to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the calendar year… Friedman, a founding partner of a hedge fund investment firm in New York, has been a prolific political donor, giving nearly $100,000 since 2009 in direct contributions usually — but not always — to Democrats. The 48-year-old lives in Cheswolde with his wife, Karen, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge.”

“He knows everybody,” said Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. “The Jewish community in Baltimore is extremely close-knit, and Howard’s an integral part of that community.” Those who know Friedman talk about his accessibility and engagement. He was the first Orthodox president of AIPAC, a position he held from 2006 to 2009… Friedman declined a request to be interviewed. An assistant said he has a “long-standing policy” of not speaking to reporters… Though he has sought a low public profile, Friedman has moved with ease among power brokers in Washington and Maryland. Friedman does business in New York and politics in Washington. But friends say he has chosen to stay in Baltimore in part for the city’s strong Orthodox community.” [Baltimore Sun]

CRUZIN’ FOR CONTROVERSY: Following his Pro-Israel comments at the In Defense Of Christiansgala which got him booed off the stage, Sen. Cruz (R-TX) has received both criticism and praise. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) called the Senator’s remarks “outrageous and incendiary,” while the President of In Defense of Christians Toufic Baaklini remarked that “[A] few politically motivated opportunists chose to divide a room that for more than 48 hours sought unity in opposing the shared threat of genocide, faced not only by our Christian brothers and sisters, but our Jewish brothers and sisters and people of all other faiths and all people of good will.” Sen. Cruz, in his official statement following the incident, said that he “came to this event tonight to help shine a light on the tragic persecution and slaughter of Christians by ISIS and Islamic radicals throughout the Middle East… But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight. After just a few minutes, I had no choice. I told them that if you will not stand with Israel, if you will not stand with the Jews, then I will not stand with you.” [Washington ExaminerThe WireWashington PostCruz’s statement]

ISRAEL TAKES ON ISIS: And already has been, according to President Netanyahu in a cryptic statement that Israel is “playing our part in this continued effort. Some of the things are known; some of the things are less known.” Netanyahu also expressed full support of the US plan to tackle ISIS, urging all civilized nations to do the same, as well as his concern over the Iranian nuclear threat. [Times of Israel;J Post]

JEWS ♥ ROMNEY?: A wonky new poll examines what would happen were Romney and Obama to face off in a presidential election today, and shows both Romney and Obama each pulling about 40%, Obama having lost the favor of much of his core base (from 61 to 47% of 18-29 year olds). Interestingly, “The only group where Romney seems to have picked up is among Jewish voters, where he now leads 50% to 36% over the President. With that comes a warning: the sample of Jewish voters is only a total of 45. I cite this number, though, because even with a small sub-sample we can still detect a pattern. Normally, a Democrat still has at least two in three Jewish voters, although Mr. Obama has clearly lost some support among Jews.” [Forbes] — TOP TALKER: “Third Time’s the Charm: Robert O’Brien and Hugh Hewitt on why Romney should run in 2016; He could win.” [Politico]

US-ISRAEL STRATEGIC DIALOGUE: “Today [Thursday], Israel and the United States convened the latest round of their Strategic Dialogue at the State Department in Washington, D.C. The Strategic Dialogue, the highest level regularly-scheduled diplomatic meeting between the two countries, highlights the strong partnership that binds Israel and the United States. Israel’s Minister for Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Yuval Steinitz and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns headed the respective delegations.” [State Dept]

BUILD ON, GAZA: The UN, Israel, and Gaza have reached a deal to rebuild Gaza and import building materials while circumventing Hamas. [NY Times]

TOP-OP: “Islamists Are Not Our Friends” by Dennis B. Ross in the NYTimes: “A new fault line has emerged in Middle Eastern politics, one that will have profound implications for America’s foreign policy in the region. It is characterized by a fundamental division between Islamists and non-Islamists… During the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip, there were demonstrations against Israel in Europe — but not in the Arab states. Unlike Turkey and Qatar, which support the Muslim Brotherhood, the other Sunni states in the region wanted to weaken Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing. Those states were alienated when Washington turned to Qatar and Turkey as possible mediators of a cease-fire in the recent conflict.” [NYTimes]

 
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UK POWER 100: The Jewish Chronicle’s Annual List – 1. Mick Davis, Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council – 2. Trevor Pears, property mogul and head of the Pears Foundation – 3. Lord Sacks, former Chief Rabbi – 4. Dame Vivien Duffield, philanthropist – 5. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis – 6. Baroness Neuberger, senior rabbi of the West London Synagogue – 7. Simon Morris, head of Jewish Care – 8. Ed Miliband, Labour leader – 18. Daniel Taub, Israeli envoy – 20. Jonathan Freedland, award-winning journalist – 23. Leo Noe, property magnate – 26. Matthew Gould, British ambassador to Israel. [JC Power List]

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR: How are nuclear talks with Iran going? After meeting with European diplomatic envoys, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says there’s a “difficult road ahead.” [Reuters] • Israel has declared 400 acres of Palestinian occupied land near Bethlehem as “state land” not to be included in a potential future Palestinian state. The UN, EU, US, and Japan were quick to denounce the move. [Reuters]

“ISRAELI TECH NEEDS PEACE AND EDUCATION,” says Israeli start-up powerhouse Yossi Vardi. “Apart from co-chairing the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Tel Aviv, he established Kinneret, a series of invitation-only annual tech networking events in Nazareth, a city with a majority Arab population. He’s also a veteran of the Burning Man festival –an annual Nevada desert convergence of more than 50,000 visitors—many from Silicon Valley.” “The first time I visited Burning Man was in 2006. I came back with many insights about creativity, cooperation and the power of Bottom-up,” Mr. Vardi, 72, said in an interview. [WSJ]

START UP NATION: Israeli Economic Minister Naftali Bennett is working on legislation that would let angel investors write off 100 percent of the money they invest. Ever modest, Bennett said that “this is the most aggressive angel law that I’ve heard of,” in an interview in Tel Aviv yesterday. “It is explosive.” [Bloomberg] • LightCyber, an Israeli startup, “just raised $10 million from Battery Ventures, with additional participation from existing Israeli investors Glilot Capital, and Marius Nacht, the founder of Check Point Software, is selling software that can automate the discovery of holes in corporate defenses and suggest ways to address them.” [TechCrunch] • “Carole and Marcus Weinstein of [San Franscisco] have donated $5 million to underwrite construction of the building that will house the Cyber Security Institute at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel.” [SDJW]

SPORTS BLINK: Qatari firm stops Fox Sports from putting Israel on map: “First Fox Sports – Middle East wiped Israel off the map, then – following complaints – it got rid of the map altogether. The sports network broadcasts in Israel, and a weekly schedule can be found online, especially important for American football fans interested in knowing what games will be broadcast on any given Sunday. Up until Thursday morning, the website had a “select your country” button that accessed a drop-down list of 23 countries in the Middle East, from Algeria, through KSA (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), all the way down to Qatar and Yemen. Israel did not appear, though “Palestine” did.” [JPost]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 8 AM EST, Norpac and Ken Abramowitz host Elan Carr who is running for Henry Waxman’s open congressional seat. At 12:30 PM, Thomas Friedman and David Ignatius discuss Middle East turmoil at the Carnegie Endownment for international Peace in DC. At 4 PM EST, President Obama visits the home of past AIPAC president Howard Friedman in Baltimore for a fundraiser benefiting the DSCC. U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski, Michael Bennet and Ben Cardin are expected to be in attendance.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Henry Waxman turns 75 • Idan Raichel turns 37 • Eytan Laor • Sara Greenberg • Larry Mizel turns 72

That’s all folks; have a great day!
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