Daily Kickoff: Deadline Day | ‘Shomer’ Schumer | White House Machers – who visited, when | Li Ka-Shing & Israel | Jon Stewart’s successor: Trevor Noah
DEADLINE DAY: “In Iran talks, failure is an option” by Michael Crowley: “A dramatic failure of the talks could scramble both the domestic and international politics of Iran. It could bring the White House into sync with congressional Republicans demanding new sanctions on Tehran. It could road-test Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s theory that more time under sanctions will force a weakened Tehran back to the bargaining table.” [Politico] • ‘Tricky Issues’ Remain [NYTimes] • 5 Things To Watch For [WSJ]
–General statement likely: “Wrapping up six days of marathon nuclear talks with mixed results, Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The joint statement is to be accompanied by additional documents that outline more detailed understandings, allowing the sides to claim enough progress has been made thus far to merit a new round, the officials said.” [AP]
David Wolpe: “Many anti-Semites are supremely sensible about things other than anti-Semitism. So you can sit across the negotiating table and hear them speak quite rationally about scientific data and power relations and believe, “This person is essentially like me.” That is a natural assumption and a deep delusion.” [TimeMag]
Bret Stephens: “Nearly a century ago Woodrow Wilson insisted on “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in public view.” Barack Obama prefers to capitulate to tyrants in secret. Judging from the above, it’s no wonder.” [WSJ]
SAUDI POV: “Taking matters into our own hands is the name of the game today,” said Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist and former adviser to the government. “A deal will open up the Saudi appetite and the Turkish appetite for more nuclear programs. But for the time being Saudi Arabia is moving ahead with its operations to pull the carpet out from underneath the Iranians in our region.” [NYTimes]
ISRAELI POV: “There is a sense that a deal is inevitable, we must swallow that. But there is hope that we can make it slightly more palatable,” said one Israeli official has been directly involved in Israel’s strategy toward Iran. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing talks. “We are hoping that we can stop it from being a catastrophic deal, and just have it be a very bad deal.” [BuzzFeed] • Gerald Seib: “White House fears collapse of talks would imperil sanctions, while Netanyahu envisions better accord” [WSJ]
SHOMER SCHUMER: “Iran deal a big test for Schumer” by Manu Raju and John Bresnahan: “During a tense phone call with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough in early March, Sen. Chuck Schumer delivered a blunt message: He would join a growing chorus of senators defying the wishes of President Barack Obama by demanding that Congress have an official say over any nuclear deal with Iran… At a private dinner earlier this year with other senators, Schumer told Secretary of State John Kerry “even if you think Netanyahu has been wrong, poking Israel back in the eye doesn’t help,” according to a source familiar with the comments… “It’s obvious that he has a very real, pro-Israel constituency,” said Sen. John McCain. “Yet at the same time, he has loyalty to the president. So he has to balance those.” [Politico]
“The Other, Weirder Negotiations Going On Outside The Iran Talks” by Rosie Gray: “This shadow battle for influence started in November. The advocates for a deal, mainly operatives from the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), had been coming to the talks since before the interim deal was signed in Geneva in November 2013. But late last year, activists from The Israel Project, a Washington-based pro-Israel advocacy organization, started showing up, too… The juxtaposition of the two groups, so entrenched in their opposing viewpoints on the potential deal, can lead to some awkward moments.”
“We were the only pro-Israel group that was on the ground in Vienna,” Ceren said when asked why they only started attending the talks a few months ago. “It’s a resources issue. Josh only took over The Israel Project in September of 2013 [Block took over the group in 2012], and it takes some time to build the things that will provide journalists the information they need to accurately report what’s going on… Block said he would “go to the ends of the earth, even to Lausanne” to explain his position, “even if it means having to smile politely at people I think are up to no good.” [BuzzFeed]
WHITE HOUSE MACHERS: The Washington Post recently unveiled a new tool for searching the White House visitor logs for the past several years of the Obama administration. Users are able to search names and also see who else attended the same event or meeting. We’re not entirely sure how accurate the Post’s database search is as certain names are not always spelled the same and some generic names are harder to nail down. But here are a few of the search results we found…
Nathan Diament – 94 visits; David Saperstein – 83 visits; William Daroff – 70 visits; Alan Solow – 64 visits; Andrea Solow – 18 visits; Abe Foxman – 45 visits; Lee Rosenberg – 43 visits; Julie Schonfeld – 43 visits; Malcolm Hoenlein – 33 visits; Eric Cantor – 29 visits; Steve Gutow – 21 visits; Jeremy Ben-Ami – 33 visits; Charles Schumer (not a JI reader though) – 103 visits; Debbie Wasserman Schultz – 64 visits; Eliot Engel – 42 visits; Ted Deutch – 40 visits; Brad Sherman – 22 visits Howard Kohr – 22 visits; Jack Rosen – 25 visits; Abraham Shemtov – 13 visits; Levi Shemtov– 35 visits; Jack Moline – 34 visits; Steve Rabinowitz – 30 visits; David Makovsky – 22 visits; Ira Forman – 21 visits; Martin Indyk – 21 visits; Michael Oren – 20; Andrew Weinstein – 19 visits; Howard Friedman – 12 visits; Michael Adler – 15 visits; Jerry Silverman – 12 visits; Ezra Friedlander – 17 visits; Peter Beinart – 16 visits; Elie Wiesel – 14 visits; Ron Dermer – 11 visits; Joe Lieberman – 11; Alan Dershowitz – 10 visits; George Soros – 9 visits; Marc Benioff – 9 visits; Aaron Kayak – 9 visits; and Isaac Herzog visited Denis McDonough on Sep 9, 2014.
–The most interesting meeting we discovered took place at 2PM on Oct 22, 2013, between Jeffrey Goldberg and White House Chef Sam Kass. We’re wondering if perhaps Kass taught Goldberg a thing or two regarding chickens. Also attending were Israeli and Palestinian celebrity chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
As was pointed out to us, Diament and Saperstein served on the President’s Faith-based Council so arguably Daroff holds the lead for independents (or, as he would say, ‘post-partisans’). Search the database and let us know if you find anything noteworthy. [WashPost]
2016 WATCH: “Clinton’s Effort on Israel Viewed Dimly by American Jewish Leader” by Jason Horowitz: “The prominent American Jewish leader who on Sunday talked with Hillary Rodham Clinton… did not think her role as the administration’s “designated yeller” at Israel as secretary of state was all that constructive. “I don’t think she was effective,” Malcolm Hoenlein said in an interview last summer, adding: “Her tenure is not going to be the brightest light in her biography.”… In the interview last summer, Mr. Hoenlein said he felt comfortable that since leaving the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton had returned to her old Israel-supporting self.” [NYTimes] • “Hillary is both supportive & skeptical of Iran talks” [WSJ]
COMPETING OPS — “Spirit of Israel lives in Democratic Party” by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “What we are witnessing is a serious and unprecedented politicization regarding support for Israel, and as chair of the Democratic National Committee and a Jewish woman who brings her love of Israel to work in Congress every day, I am compelled to set the record straight… the Democratic Party is the natural home of Jewish Americans. Democrats’ values are embedded in our Judaism: of recognizing injustice and striving to improve our societies, of tikkun olam, of advocating for those who have no voice.” [TheHill] • Juan Williams: “Boehner, Israel and race” [TheHill]
“Democratic Jews have a home with Republicans” by Matt Brooks: “I lead a partisan organization concerned with getting more Jewish Americans to vote for Republicans. My job is inherently political, but recently I have been shocked at how Israel, once a bipartisan issue, has become so very partisan… It isn’t bloggers or pundits who are driving this partisan crusade; it is members of the Democratic Party, led by President Obama… Here at the Republican Jewish Coalition we will not stand by and remain silent without offering those Jewish Americans who care about Israel a home.” [WashExaminer] • William Mcgurn: “Will history mark the Obama years as the moment American Jewry split with the Democratic Party?” [WSJ]
TOP TALKER: “Israel’s Drive toward Self-Destruction” by Dennis Ross, David Makovsky and Ghaith Al-Omari: “Israel needs to take an initiative to counter the de-legitimization movement and show it is not the reason that nothing is possible on peace. Ironically, such an initiative might also shift the onus onto the Palestinians and move them off the position that all the responsibility for the conflict is Israel’s and they need do nothing. In addition, it could also convince the Obama administration that it need not proceed either to support or draft a U.N. Security Resolution laying out the parameters for a permanent status deal, especially because Israel was acting to alter an unsustainable status quo.” [PoliticoMag]
“Palestinian Discontent With Abbas Is Growing” by Diaa Hadid: “While the United States and Europe seem ever more ready to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank, some Palestinians are questioning whether their leader, who celebrated his 80th birthday last week, will be able to seize the opportunity.” [NYTimes]
AP REPORT: “Federal prosecutors are moving toward charging a Florida eye doctor over his dealings with New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, according to a person familiar with a Justice Department investigation into their relationship.” [AP]
CLICKER — “Here’s shirtless Rahm Emanuel protesting neo-Nazis when he was 18” by Hunter Schwarz: “In 1978, a shirtless 18-year-old Rahm Emanuel demonstrated against a neo-Nazi rally in Chicago, and a few brief seconds were caught on camera. Neo-Nazis gathered in the park but were met by a group of Jewish people and activists protesting their rally. In the footage, Emanuel looks at the camera and asks “Can you get out of here, man?” [WashPost] • “Chicago’s Rough-Edged Mayor, Tries the Sandpaper” [NYTimes]
“Jewish Navy SEAL Vet Jumps into Missouri Governor’s Race” by Jesse Lempel: “Now an actual Jewish candidate is primed to enter the fray, even as the chief spokesman for Tom Schweich, the candidate who killed himself, has also committed suicide. On February 24, just two days before Schweich killed himself following an alleged whispering campaign claiming he was Jewish, 40-year-old Eric Greitens launched an exploratory committee to raise funds for a gubernatorial run of his own. Greitens who, unlike Schweich, is Jewish, has already raised close to $400,000 for the GOP primary, according to public records. A former Navy SEAL and Rhodes Scholar with a PhD from Oxford, Greitens is a St. Louis native and makes no bones about his background — no whispering necessary.” [Forward]
STARTUP NATION: “Tycoon Li Ka-shing Looks to Israel” by Wayne Ma: “Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’s venture-capital fund, Horizons Ventures Ltd., may only be a bit player in Silicon Valley, but its making a much bigger mark in Israel: the fund is the biggest source of foreign cash for growing numbers of startups in Tel Aviv, according to IVC Research Center, which tracks the market… Israeli startups currently make up more than a third of Horizons’ 60 plus portfolio of startups.” [WSJ]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “ADL audit shows significant increase in anti-Semitic incidents” by Ryan Torok: “The audit includes anti-Semitic incidents of harassment, assaults and vandalism that occurred nationwide. The results this year show an uptick in incidents from 2013 to 2014 — from 751 to 912 nationally… “As more and more people use the Internet,” Susskind said, “you see more and more hate.” [JewishJournal] • “Jewish Teens Pelted With Paintballs While Walking Home From Synagogue In Brooklyn” [CBS]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Yiddish Theater to Join Forces With Heritage Museum: “Back in Yiddish theater’s early 20th-century heyday, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene was one of more than a dozen theater companies that catered to New York City’s booming population of Jewish immigrants. A century after its founding, the Folksbiene, or “people’s stage,” is the last of those groups still in operation, and one of only a handful of international Yiddish theater companies. Now, after years of performing on borrowed stages, the company is embarking on a partnership with the Museum of Jewish Heritage that could give the group a permanent home for the first time in more than four decades.” [WSJ]
—“Bruce C. Ratner, the museum’s chairman and builder of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, whose father and grandfather spoke Yiddish, said he was impressed with the Folksbiene’s digital marketing approaches using Facebook (40,000 followers) and Twitter (30,000 followers). He suggested that it could be used to invigorate the museum’s own use of social media. Mr. Ratner said he hoped the Folksbiene would add to the museum’s popular programs, like a discussion held on Sunday with Matthew Weiner, the creator of “Mad Men,” about Jewish influence on the series.” [NYTimes]
HOLLYWOOD: “Imagine combining the dark, subtle world of international espionage with the visceral conflict of Israel and Palestine’s bitter relationship. The Honorable Woman, an 8-part miniseries from Sundance TV and the BBC, is the latest Western attempt to try and understand the Middle East through TV, and it’s garnered acclaim, BAFTA nominations, awards and controversy. The show embeds itself in the region’s complex, morally gray history — but its release last summer, just a month before Israel’s devastating bombardment of Gaza, makes it too topical for any old drama.” [Ozy]
“‘The Daily Show’ chooses Jon Stewart’s successor: Trevor Noah, a biracial comedian from South Africa, will succeed Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.” [JewishJournal]
“New Daily Show host Trevor Noah accused of anti-Semitism as enraged Twitter users drag up his social media history: In May last year, Noah, a contributor to The Daily Show, tweeted: ‘Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel.’… In September of 2009, Noah tweeted ““Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!” [DailyMail; ToI]
Obit: “Miriam Bienstock, Co-Founder of Atlantic Records, Dies at 92: Miriam Bienstock, a co-founder of Atlantic Records who ran the business side of the company in its formative years, helping to lay the groundwork for what became a colossus of the recording industry, died on March 21 at her home in Manhattan. She was 92.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Barney Frank turns 75… Justin Manteen turns 29… Howie Keenan… David Freedman…
That’s all folks; have a great day!
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