Daily Kickoff: Ayatollah’s decree complicates Iran talks | ADL condemns Oren | Frank Lowy Profile | Bride Anna Goldshmidt plans to sue the Waldorf

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We just want this war to end, I don’t care what the solution is,” Khaled said. “Israel can come govern for all I care.” — in “Welcome to Yemen, Where War Has Turned Cities Into a Living Hell” [Vice] • “Druze pressure Israel to help besieged Syrians” [FinancialTimes]

IRAN TALKS: “Iran Legislation Seeks to Bar Inspections of Military Sites Under a Nuclear Deal” by Aresu Eqbali and Asa Fitch: “Iran’s parliament approved draft legislation on Sunday that would bar inspections of military sites as part of a nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers. If passed, it would set down in law a red line laid out by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the final authority in most matters of state. That could present an obstacle to a deal, as the six world powers negotiating with Iran are unlikely to accept a blanket prohibition on inspections of military sites.” [WSJAP]

“Ayatollah’s decree complicates Iran nuclear talks” by Michael Crowley: “When President Barack Obama first began negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, he was encouraged by the existence of an obscure religious ruling from the country’s Supreme Leader: in a fatwa, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that developing or using nuclear weapons is against Islam. But as a June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal closes in, Khamenei’s Islamic decree has emerged as a major obstacle to a nuclear deal, say analysts and sources close to the talks. It turns out that the fatwa has turned what was once a key western demand — that Tehran fully disclose its past research into nuclear bomb technology — into a potential deal-breaker.” [Politico]

Eli Lake and Josh Rogin: “Contrary to the contention of Secretary of State John Kerry, leading lawmakers and other experts tell us the U.S. intelligence community does not have “absolute knowledge” about past military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.” [BV]

“Michael Oren: New book meant to enlist American Jews to fight Iran deal” by Chemi Shalev: ““It’s about saying no” to an Iran deal that “everybody in the Knesset agrees is emphatically bad,” Oren said. He compared “this critical moment” to the Holocaust era, when American Jews had an opportunity to “intercede and perhaps save millions of Jews.”… Oren discussed what he described as the unprecedented predominance of American Jews in the Obama administration – “there were discussions in the White House in which there were six Jews – 3 Americans and 3 Israelis, discussing a Palestinian state – and the only non-Jewish person in the room was the President or the Vice President.” He said that the non-Orthodox and the intermarried American Jews in the administration – “have a hard time understanding the Israeli character.” [Haaretz] • Shmuel Rosner interviews Oren on the state of American Jewry [JewishJournal]

“How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World'” by Michael Oren: “How did the president arrive at his unique approach to Islam? The question became central to my research for Obama 101. One answer lies in the universities in which he studied and taught — Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Chicago — and where such ideas were long popular… In addition to its academic and international affairs origins, Obama’s attitudes toward Islam clearly stem from his personal interactions with Muslims… I could imagine how a child raised by a Christian mother might see himself as a natural bridge between her two Muslim husbands. I could also speculate how that child’s abandonment by those men could lead him, many years later, to seek acceptance by their co-religionists.” [ForeignPolicy]

ADL’s Abe Foxman: “It is legitimate and appropriate for anyone to criticize the policies of this administration. Ambassador Oren’s essay, however, veers into the realm of conspiracy theories, and with an element of amateur psychoanalysis he links U.S. policies in the Middle East to the president’s personal history of having a Muslim father. Then, taking it a step further by suggesting this “worldview” of Muslims and Islam has driven the president to embrace the Muslim world at the expense of both Israel and U.S. national security interests. This results in borderline stereotyping and insensitivity.” [ADL]

Aaron David Miller: “From Michael Oren, a fair-minded scholar who knows the value of objectivity, this is a somewhat distorted account… The Obama-Netanyahu disconnect is driven by genuine, fundamental differences on issues such as Iran and the peace process coming down at the same time–and by two personalities that, each in its own way, are simply unwilling or unable to manage them.” [WSJ]

More Oren: “Former Israeli envoy to Washington, Michael Oren, said the United States is “likely” not to veto an expected United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state. Oren’s remarks were made at the New York launch of his new book on Thursday evening.” [Algemeiner]

“Netanyahu Rebuffs France on Restarting Mideast Talks” by Isabel Kershner: “Speaking at a joint news conference with France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, who was visiting the region to advance the French-led initiative, Mr. Netanyahu said: “Peace will only come from direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions. It will not come from U.N. resolutions that are sought to be imposed from the outside.” [NYTimes]

TOP TALKER: “Top Israeli official’s wife sorry for racist Obama joke” by Mark Hensch: “The wife of Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom apologized on Sunday for tweeting a racist joke about President Obama. Israeli television host Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, who said she regretted the quip, faced strong criticism for it online. Though she quickly deleted and apologized for the tweet, this is not the first time she’s gotten herself on trouble on Twitter. And this comes in a period of animus between the Israeli and US governments that can seem intensely personal, and from the Israeli side focused at times on Obama’s background.” [TheHillPoliticoVox]

IRS & Pro-Israel Groups: “The IRS Loses Again: The IRS now has seven days to appeal (Z Street v. Koskinen) to the full circuit court. The agency has been using every tool to delay the lawsuit to get through the last days of the Obama Administration. But if this long-shot fails, Z Street may soon be able to begin discovery, and Z Street says it will seek every document and communication within the IRS as well as between the IRS and other parts of the government germane to its lawsuit or to the special policy regarding pro-Israel groups.” [WSJUSCourts]

“U.S. Says Iran’s Support of Terrorism ‘Undiminished'” by Felecia Schwartz: “The State Department said Iran’s support for terrorism was “undiminished” in 2014, and the U.S. remains very concerned about the activities of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its proxies in the Middle East.” [WSJ]• “Who Killed Alberto Nisman? As theories regarding Nisman’s death continue to swirl, VICE News traveled to Buenos Aires to investigate the mystery.” [Vice]

2016 WATCH: “Bernie Sanders hits the Las Vegas Strip, takes aim at billionaire Sheldon Adelson” by Philip Rucker: “Directly across the Las Vegas Strip from the Venetian, the lavish hotel and casino built by wealthy political donor Sheldon Adelson, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders rallied more than 700 supporters here Friday to join his revolution against the billionaire class whose greed he says is crushing the United States.” [WashPost]

**Good Monday 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**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “China’s Fosun International Buys Phoenix From Israel’s Delek” [Bloomberg] • “Why Sumner Redstone’s Succession Fog Clouds Viacom, CBS Empire” [TheWrap] • “Patrick Drahi’s Altice Offers to Buy French Rival Bouygues” [WSJ] • “The Accidental Arms Dealers – Two Young Jewish Kids In Miami Beach” [NPR] • “Israeli startup FairFly completes $2m round from Blumberg Capital” [Globes• “Israeli Medical-Laser Company Lumenis Agrees to $510 Million Buyout” [WSJ]• “Lessons From Dave Goldberg: An Open Letter To Aspiring CEOs And Young Entrepreneurs” [TechCrunch]

STARTUP NATION: “David Thodey, James Packer sign on for Square Peg venture” by Damon Kitney: “Retiring Telstra chief executive David Thodey plans to join billionaire James Packer in working with the Paul Bassat-led venture capital firm, Square Peg Capital, to pursue more investments in Israel. Square Peg last week took a delegation of 40 leading Australian technology entrepreneurs, ­investors and executives together representing more than $US150 billion in value to Tel Aviv and ­Jerusalem to learn about the Israeli hi-tech industry. “The trip has strongly reinforced my view of the investment opportunities and incredible tech ecosystem in Israel,” Mr Packer told The Australian from Tel Aviv.” [TheAustralian]

PROFILE: “Frank Lowy: Australia’s fast-footed tycoon” by Jamie Smyth: “Mr Lowy founded Westfield in 1960 with his late business partner John Saunders, a fellow Jewish immigrant to Australia after the holocaust. They changed how Australians shopped by introducing US-style malls to Sydney suburbs in the 1960s. In the late 1970s they exported the Westfield model overseas and built a network of 40 malls, mostly in the US and UK. Mr Lowy is one of Australia’s biggest philanthropists, giving A$300m to causes in Australia, Israel and elsewhere.”

“Born in what is now Slovakia, Mr Lowy and his family moved to Hungary in the second world war. In 1944 his father was killed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The young Mr Lowy hid in a small flat with up to 40 other people. “The loss of my father was the most traumatic event in my life — I can’t forget the pain,” he says. Mr Lowy, who describes himself as a Zionist, fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, later joining his moth­er and other family members in Sydney.” [FinancialTimes]

“Google Doodle Memorialized First Israeli NASA Astronaut” by Brady Dale: “Mr. Ramon’s legacy was celebrated with a Google Doodle on what would have been his 60th birthday, but it was only seen on the Google homepage in his home country of Israel, one year ago, Saturday. While in space, Mr. Ramon, who began his training with NASA in 1998, attempted to follow Jewish observances, including abiding by the sabbath, despite the fact that the time between sunrise and sunset in space was only 90 minutes. He also requested kosher food and carried a microfiche Torah with him.” [Observer]

“Mark Zuckerberg honors Israeli book” by Elad Zeret: “In the beginning of the year, Zuckerberg declared 2015 the “Year of Books.” As part of the initiative, he invites his followers to read a new book with him every two weeks and discuss it on his Facebook page. The latest book, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” which he shared with his followers on Tuesday, comes from Israel.” [YNet]

SPORTS BLINK: “Curtis Martin on Robert Kraft-led Israel trip: ‘One of the best experiences in my life'” by Mike Reiss: “The trip, which ends Tuesday, was organized and paid for by Patriots owner Robert Kraft and included 19 HOFers… “A lot of us are bonding in a way you don’t get to bond in the Hall of Fame. Mr. Kraft has basically pulled out the red carpet. His intent was to come over, have a good time, and have us be impacted spiritually. I feel like I can speak for everyone on this trip, we have all been impacted in a very spiritual way,” Martin said.” [ESPN] • “Football builds bridges from US to Israel” [JPost]

Travel: “Elma Arts Complex and Luxury Hotel, Zichron Yaakov” by Ross Belfer: “Zichron Yaakov might not sit at the top of every visitor’s must-see list in Israel. Relatively overshadowed by Holy Land sites and the unbeatable appeal of Tel Aviv, the quaint village—founded in 1892 by Lord Baron Rothschild—is positioned high in northern Israel’s verdant Carmel Region overlooking a glistening swathe of the Mediterranean Sea. Amidst the historical village’s millennium-old sites, boutique wineries, art galleries and Israeli rustic-style restaurants sits a massive, white-clad and segmented structure jettisoning into the sky, creating a stark contrast with the landscape’s tree-laden surroundings: the Elma Arts Complex and Luxury Hotel (Elma for short).” [CoolHunting]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Fleeing Nazism, Settling In Ecuador: Film Tells Jewish Families’ Story” by Kristina Puga: “Eva Zelig is an Emmy-award winning producer who loves shedding light on various topics from health to global warming. However, one day, while perusing the internet, she came across a website which hit close to home — Jews of Ecuador. In the 1940’s, approximately 4,000 Jews lived in Ecuador, because they fled Nazi persecution and death camps in Europe and were granted asylum in the small South American country. Zelig’s family was one of those families. Zelig, who was born in Ecuador to Czech parents, says she had no idea this site existed.” [NBC News]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Down, Maybe, but Out and About: Sheldon Silver’s Life After the Speakership” by Thomas Kaplan: “Some luxuries have been lost, like the office just off the Assembly floor. He now sits in the chamber, next to a freshman Democrat who was 14 years old when Mr. Silver was first elected to the Assembly. Yet in many ways, Mr. Silver remains a presence unbowed, tackling favored causes and displaying no obvious reluctance about appearing in public at the Capitol or elsewhere. At the Celebrate Israel parade in Manhattan last month, for instance, he marched up Fifth Avenue wearing a blue sash and holding up an Israeli flag.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT: “Bride Anna Goldshmidt plans to sue Waldorf Astoria after shooting” by Emily Smith: “Goldshmidt and new husband Elan Stratiyevsky have now hired famed lawyer Benjamin Brafman to sue the hotel, and the unintentional shooter, for millions for ruining their big day.” [PageSixDailyMail; Gothamist]

BIRTHDAYS: Sen. Dianne Feinstein turns 82… Omri Casspi turns 27… Rafi Rone…

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**


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