Daily Kickoff: McCain Helps An Iranian Business Interest?! | WSJ Front Page on Hasidic Comedian | Israeli Head-Controlled Smartphone for the Disabled

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MORE POWER TO HER: “U.S. Ambassador, Samantha Power, Issues Warning on Anti-Semitism in Europe” by Alison Smale in the NYTimes: “Make no mistake – we have a problem,” said Samantha Power, a top aide to President Obama, at a conference here organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She said the growing number of anti-Semitic acts “are not only a threat to the Jewish community, they are a threat to the larger project of European liberalism and pluralism.” The two-day conference was attended by only about two-thirds of the 57 member states, most of whom, unlike the United States, sent deputy-level representatives.”

“Ms. Power, speaking firmly, chastised European leaders, asking why fewer countries were attending the gathering than were present a decade ago, when representatives passed a resolution on fighting anti-Semitism, known as the Berlin Resolution… Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the most prominent Jewish groups in the United States, and a member of Ms. Power’s delegation, said Europe was approaching “a moment of truth.” Jewish life returning to places like Germany and Poland, where the Holocaust was planned and largely executed, may not survive the rising insecurity felt by European Jews, he said.” [NYTimes]

TOP TWEETS: @AmbassadorPower – “Combatting anti-Semitism is not, and cannot be seen as, a Jewish issue — it is a human rights and civil rights issue. Despite anti-Semitism  ↑, disappointing ↓ in Euro attendance: 1/3 fewer nations attend & 1/3 who sent cabinet official in `04 sent 1 today. Doesn’t anti-Semitism—at the very least—merit same show of solidarity & commitment from govs today as it did a decade ago?” [TwitterTranscript of speech]

JERUSALEM TENSIONS: “Kerry Is Optimistic After Meeting Over Holy Site in Jerusalem” [NYTimes] • “Israel, Palestinians agree to steps to calm Jerusalem tensions, Kerry says” [Reuters] • “Jordan, Israel Agree to Calm Jerusalem Tensions” [WSJ] • “Commitments made to reduce Jerusalem Tensions” [AP] • “Israel Erects Train-Station Barriers in Wake of Attacks” [WSJ

—Top Tweet: @LukeReuters – “Not one sword of Damacles but five hanging over Netanyahu’s head. King Abdullah sat him there?” [Twitter; Pic]

—State Dept. Briefing: Question of the day from Said Arikat, Palestinian reporter… err.. lobbyist, at the State Department: QUESTION: Also on the violence in Jerusalem and so on, Israel has taken a step further, going back to a policy that has not been implemented in eight years, which is to demolish the homes of suspected terrorists and so on. I wonder if you have a comment on that? MS. PSAKI: Well, we believe that punitive demolitions are counterproductive to the cause of peace and exacerbate an already tense situation. Beyond that, I don’t have any additional details on their plans. •And Times of Israel runs an article titled, “US condemns terrorist home demolition directive” [ToI]

IRAN TALKS: “Russia says Nov. 24th deadline in doubt in Iran talks” [Reuters] • Republican senators demanded Thursday that Congress have a say in nuclear negotiations with Iran:“Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) tried to force a Senate vote on their bill, S. 2650, but Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) objected, saying a vote now would “undermine” negotiations.”[TheHill] • Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen speaks on the House floor about Iran talks [YouTube

AKWARD: “McCain Helps a Business Partner of Iran” by Ben Jacobs: “Sen. John McCain, who once joked about bombing Iran, is now pushing for a bill that would benefit a company that’s in business with the Iranian government. The Arizona senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee is leading the charge on Capitol Hill to hand over 2,400 acres of federal land in Tonto National Forest in Arizona to Resolution Copper. The land lies above what may be the largest copper deposit in the United States and ownership would make it easier for Resolution to fully exploit the deposits… But there’s something of a catch. Resolution is majority owned and controlled by Rio Tinto, a global mining conglomerate. And that conglomerate also owns nearly 70 percent of the Rossing uranium mine in Namibia. Another owner of the place is the government of Iran.”

“This connection with the Tehran government has drawn scrutiny from those concerned about the Iranian nuclear program.  And it’s put McCain—well-known as one of the most hawkish members of the GOP—in the unusual position of being at odds with some of his fellow neoconservatives. Gabriel Pedreira, a spokesman for United Against a Nuclear Iran, opposed any legislation to transfer federal land to Rio Tinto. He told The Daily Beast, “Our concern continues to be that the [Iranian] regime is attempting to enrich uranium for purposes of nuclear weapon, and the regime maintains direct ownership of a mine that produces uranium.” In his opinion, Rio Tinto has not addressed this provision of the comprehensive sanctions against Iran. United Against a Nuclear Iran, it should be noted, counts among its board members former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was once one of McCain’s closest Capitol Hill confidants, andMark Salter, McCain’s former chief of staff.” [DailyBeast]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 11am, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies hosts a panel titled, “After the Gaza Conflict: Hamas’ Goals, Military Capabilities, and Financial Networks” with Matthew Levitt, Dan Moger, Jonathan Schanzer, Samuel Tadros, Jeffrey White, and moderated by BuzzFeed’sRosie Gray at the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building.

TOP-OPS: Haleh Esfandiari: “How Iran Jails Journalists and Human Rights Lawyers” [WSJ] • Daniel Gordis: “Gaza War’s Final Victim: Two-State Solution” [BloombergView] • Anshel Pfeffer: “How Kosher is Jewish Money?” – “It was like a scene out of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Two immensely wealthy Jews, key financiers of the main political parties of the world’s superpower, discussing how to wage war on the enemies of the Jews, and control the media and presidents. Only, instead of taking place at the dead of night in a Jewish cemetery in Prague, they were sitting on stage in a Washington, D.C. hotel conference room, in full view and making no attempt to hide their intentions. If the Czarist secret police officers who published the original edition of “Protocols” at the start of the 20th century had been at the Hilton, or just reading the reported dialogue between Power Rangers impresario Haim Saban and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, they would have had little need for the embellishment, plagiarism and forgery they used to concoct their best seller.” [Haaretz]

JEWISH VOTE: “Are Democrats Losing the Jews?” by Emma Green in the Atlantic: “First, some raw facts. In the 2006 midterm elections, 87 percent of Jews voted for Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives. Last week, in the 2014 midterm elections, 66 percent cast ballots for Democrats. That’s a 21-point drop in eight years—and, it might seem, a major cause for celebration among the likes of the Republican Jewish Coalition and philo-Semitic political strategists everywhere… Here are some of the other constituencies that make up 2 percent of the American electorate: customer-service representatives. People who participate in archery and bowhunting. AOL users. Residents of Indiana. So why all the attention on Jewish voters? “The importance of the Jews isn’t their votes,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. “They account for a huge share of the activist base of the Democratic Party and account for much of the money available to Democratic candidates. If you are a Republican strategist, it seems fairly obviously that if you can shift Jewish support even a little bit away from the Democrats, it makes the Democratic Party less competitive.” [TheAtlantic]

2016 WATCH: “Elizabeth Warren gets rock-star reception at liberal donors confab” by Kenneth P. Vogel: “Elizabeth Warren insists she has no interest in running for president in 2016, but the rich liberals to whom she spoke Thursday afternoon seemed unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer. The Massachusetts senator got a rock stars’ welcome during a closed-door speech to major donors, one of whom interrupted her by yelling “Run, Liz, Run!” Warren drew multiple standing ovations during her talk, held in a banquet room at Washington’s Mandarin Oriental hotel during the annual winter meeting of the Democracy Alliance, a club of major liberal donors. Throughout the day, donors repeatedly broached the question of whether Warren would run to Paul Egerman, a Democracy Alliance board member who was the national finance chairman of her Senate race and introduced Warren for her speech Thursday. He patiently but firmly told each that she would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination.” [Politico] • “No Kleenex in Tinseltown: Hollywood is hurrying Obama off the stage—and getting ready for a 2016 slugfest” [PoliticoMag] • “Wisconsin Assembly Speaker says Obama Donors & Bucks Owners Marc Lasry & Wes Edens may have jeopardized area funding for greeting the President” [CBS] • “Is Ready for Hillary Ready to Fold–or Work With Candidate Clinton” [DailyBeast]

**Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. 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**

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli head-controlled smartphone is perfect for the disabled” by Issie Lapowsky: “Shortly after appearing on Israeli television with a new computer game you control merely by moving your head, Oded Ben Dov got a phone call… The man on the other end of the line was Giora Livne, a former Israeli navy commander and electrical power engineer. He’d been quadriplegic for seven years, he explained, which made it impossible to use a smartphone without help. That meant, among other things, seven long years without a private phone call or email or text message — seven years without much privacy at all. Then Livne asked for help. “Could you make a smartphone that I could use?” he asked.”

“It’s taken two years, but Ben Dov has done just that. The Sesame Phone is a smartphone designed specifically for the mobility impaired. It uses computer vision technology to allow someone like Livne to access any app simply by moving his head. The phone is from Sesame Enable, a startup Ben Dov and Livne founded to bring the idea to life, and today the company is launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise the $30,000 needed to continue developing the phone.” [Wired] • “Microsoft Buys Israeli Hybrid Cloud Security Aorato In $200M Deal” [TechCrunch]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “F–K Cancer’s Yael Cohen loses obscenity trademark battle” [CBC] • “Vikings owners Zygi & Mark Wilf defaulted on development deal; ex-partners awarded $2 million” [TwinCities] • “Ori Allon’s Urban Compass buys Reishman; will open DC office” [WashPost] • “Ashkenazy snags retail at Nolita condo for $40M” [RealDeal] • “Innovative Rabbi Invents Home Intercom for 21st Century” [HuffPost]

LONGREAD: “Is Noah Breslow’s OnDeck Capital the Next Generation of Lender or Boiler Room? by Zeke Faux and Dune Lawrence in Businessweek: “Breslow shows a photo of a beaming Brooklyn wine store owner as he explains how banks aren’t lending to good small businesses. His point is that they want to borrow so little—say, $20,000 to make payroll—it’s not worth the banks’ effort to perform their expensive due diligence. OnDeck’s software, Breslow tells the audience, gives potential borrowers an “OnDeck Score,” a proprietary assessment of creditworthiness that pulls in more and better data than banks do. The startup’s technology analyzes thousands of variables—from cash flow metrics to clues from social networks—and spits out a loan verdict in hours, not weeks. Algorithms replace loan officers, entrepreneurs get the money they need, and everyone is happy. “We set out to create a different kind of score,” Breslow says. “And a billion dollars of loans later, we think we’ve done it.” [Bloomberg]

WSJ FRONT PAGE: “Did You Hear the One About the Rabbi Who Carries a Big Schtick? Mendy Pellin Takes Comedy Where Few Dare to Go; ‘Mad Mentsch'” by Lucette Lagnado: “Mr. Pellin is an Hasidic Jew who trolls Tinsel Town in a skull cap and sneakers, a long beard grazing his polo shirt. An ordained rabbi, his risky mission is to show the world that an observant culture—largely absent from the comedy mainstream—is natural fodder for funny. “I call this period the ‘Hasidic Spring,’ ” he says, noting that many Hasidic youth are now embracing Facebook and Twitter, thereby pushing the boundaries of a once-insular society. As co-founder of a company, called Jewbellish, Mr. Pellin says the idea is to use comedy to “embellish” the image of very observant Jews—from Old World and insular, to hip and modern.” [WSJ]

FROM “HASID OR HIPSTER” TO “HIPSTER OR JIHADI” – “It’s a dilemma all over this trendy part of east Beirut. Fashionable beards flourish here, but their soaring style value coincided with a spate of jihadi attacks. On a stroll ’round the streets where these young bearded men go for beers, it seems everyone has a story of a misunderstanding.” [NPR

OUTREACH: “U.S. Engages With Muslims” by Tamara Audi and Miriam Jordan: “Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has also visited Muslim communities in Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio as part of the initiative by the Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center and local law enforcement to better engage Muslim communities. At a news conference, Mr. Johnson said he is asking for all Muslims “to be on the lookout for potential acts of violence and those individuals” who may be on the wrong path “and steer them in a different direction, and if that’s not possible then alert authorities.’’ More than 100 Americans are believed to either have traveled to Syria or tried to reach Syria to join militants.” [WSJ]

—“Friedlander Promotes Qatar Ties With US, Jewish Community” by Kevin McCauley: “A Qatari businessman has hired a prominent New York political consulting shop to position himself as the “go-to” person between the US and Arab/Muslim World. Hassan Ali Bin Ali also wants to boost Qatar’s bilateral relationship with the US and “to positively impact its relation between American Jewish communities,” according to the lobbying filing of The Friedlander Group. Ezra Friedlander served on the staff of New York State assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has close ties with the city’s Orthodox community, and former NYC Public Advocate Mark Green. He will conduct meetings with members of Congress, the Obama administration, Jewish communial leaders and officials and important political figures in Israel. His firm will receive $120K for its one-year effort.” [Odwyer]

AIRING SUNDAY: “CSPAN Q&A at 8pm & 11pm with Nonie Darwish, founder and president of Former Muslims United and Arabs for Israel, where she talks about her life story — growing up in Egypt and Gaza, her father’s death at the hands of the Israelis, life under sharia law and why she broke with Islam.” H/T Howard Mortman

HOLLYWOOD: Jon Stewart on criticism over his coverage of Israel: “As host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has earned a reputation as a sharp, left-leaning satirist who pulls no punches when there’s a point to be made. But in recent years Stewart has come under fire for being both too lenient and too harsh when it comes to the topic of Israel, with some pundits referring to the host as a “self-hating Jew.” The Post‘s Jonathan Dekel brought up the subject when the two sat down during TIFF for an interview in support of Stewart’s film, Rosewater, which the first-time director shot in Jordan. “Being Jewish was not a deciding factor [in whether to film in Israel],” Stewart said of the film. “In Iran, I’ve already been outed as a Mossad agent and a CIA agent. They’ve already produced 60 Minutes-style pieces describing me as a Mossad agent.” [O.Canada]

DESSERT: “Jill Zarin brings in major (unleavened) bread in matzo deal” by Julie Gordon:“That’s a whole lot of dough for peddling matzos. Page Six has learned that Jill Zarin signed a seven-figure deal with Streit’s, a major player in the matzo and Passover food biz. The multi-year endorsement deal was brokered by Bette Smith Management in Beverly Hills, Calif. This is the first national media campaign for the longtime Lower-East Side brand.” [PageSix]

Diane von Furstenberg Leads $12M Project to Restore Venice Jewish Ghetto: “The Jewish ghetto of Venice, historically known as the mandatory living conditions for Jews under the Venetian Republic, is being reconstructed with a $12 million budget. Jewish designer Diane von Furstenburg and real estate investor Joseph Sitt are leading a group of philanthropists for this restoration project. This will include restructuring the Jewish Museum and rebuilding the synagogues of the area.” [JSpace]

That’s all folks; have a great day!
**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**


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