Daily Kickoff: Howard Schultz recalls Rabbi Finkel in NYTimes | Saban against Iran deal | Sam Barnett, Jewish Prodigy Investor | Jon Stewart signs off

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This is a BYOB election – bring your own billionaire.” — Sunlight Foundation’s Chris Gates [Twitter]

“Big GOP donors uncommitted before debate” by Tarini Parti, Kenneth Vogel: “Two of the most coveted uncommitted donors are Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. Neither has donated to the super PACs supporting the 2016 candidates to date, but Adelson is thought to be leaning toward Rubio. Although Singer has maintained he is undecided, he hosted a Rubio fundraiser and gave the maximum $2,700 to Rubio’s campaign.” [Politico]

DRIVING THE DAY: The first Republican presidential primary debates, hosted by Fox News and Facebook in conjunction with the Ohio Republican Party, will be held at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, starting at 5:00 PM with the first debate and 9:00 PM for the primetime debate. [FoxNews]

“What to watch: GOP candidates on foreign policy” by Nahal Toosi: “Donald Trump says he would get along just fine with Vladimir Putin. Rand Paul would be open to engaging with Cuba, unlike other Republicans he calls “isolationist.” And every GOP candidate running for President hates the Iran nuclear deal, but not all will commit to getting rid of it. With the Iran agreement under review in Congress and the threat of terrorism as alarming as ever, foreign policy could play an outsized role in Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate and the 2016 election as a whole.” [Politico]

EXIT: “Jon Stewart, Sarcastic Critic of Politics and Media, Is Signing Off” by John Koblin:“On Thursday night 10 presidential candidates will spill onto a stage in Cleveland, and the already crowded Republican primary race will begin in earnest with the first day of debates, live on Fox News. The perfect Jon Stewart moment. But Mr. Stewart won’t be around to skewer the participants. A couple of hours earlier, on the Far West Side of Manhattan, he will have already taped his final show.” [NYTimesVice]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — IRAN DEAL: “Inspectors So Far Denied Access to Iran’s Scientists” by Jay Solomon and Kristina Peterson: “Iran so far has refused to allow United Nations inspectors to interview key scientists and military officers to investigate allegations that Tehran maintained a covert nuclear-weapons program, the head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said in an interview Wednesday.” [WSJ]

“Iran Already Sanitizing Nuclear Site, Intel Warns” by Josh Rogin & Eli Lake: “The U.S. intelligence community has informed Congress of evidence that Iran was sanitizing its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin, in broad daylight, days after agreeing to a nuclear deal with world powers. For senior lawmakers in both parties, the evidence calls into question Iran’s intention to fully account for the possible military dimensions of its current and past nuclear development.” [BloombergCNN]

“Iranian side deals spark lingering bipartisan concern” by Burgess Everett: “The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee left a 90-minute briefing with the International Atomic Energy Agency director unsatisfied by attempts to allay their concerns over Iran’s two side agreements with international inspectors.” [Politico]

IRAN DEBATE: President Obama at American University yesterday: “I do think it is important to a knowledge another more understandable motivation behind the opposition to this deal, or at least skepticism to this deal. And that is a sincere affinity for our friend and ally Israel. An affinity that, as someone who has been a stalwart friend to Israel throughout my career, I deeply share. When the Israeli government is opposed to something, people in the United States take notice; and they should. No one can blame Israelis for having a deep skepticism about any dealings with the government like Iran’s, which includes leaders who deny the Holocaust, embrace an ideology of anti-Semitism, facilitate the flow of rockets that are arrayed on Israel’s borders. Are pointed at Tel Aviv.”

“Israel can defend itself against any conventional danger, whether from Iran directly or from its proxies. On the other hand, a nuclear-armed Iran changes that equation. And that’s why this deal must be judged by what it achieves on the central goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This deal does exactly that. I say this as someone who is done more than any other president to strengthen Israel’s security… So to friends of Israel and the Israeli people, I say this. A nuclear armed Iran is far more dangerous to Israel, to America, and to the world than an Iran that benefits from sanctions relief.”

“I recognize that Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees, disagrees strongly. I do not doubt his sincerity, but I believe he is wrong. I believe the facts support this deal. I believe they are in America’s interests and Israel’s interests, and as President of the United States it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally.” [TranscriptVideo] • Many viewed this passage of the speech as the President following through on his pledge to Jewish leaders, in a meeting the previous day, to be a tad more ‘sensitive’ when calling out the Jewish and pro-Israel community for their opposition to the deal.

HOW IT PLAYED: “Obama’s unmistakable message to Israel: You stand alone” [ToI• “Obama isolates Netanyahu as head of warmongers” [Haaretz] • “To press for Iran nuclear deal, Obama invokes Iraq war”[WashPost] • “It’s Either Iran Nuclear Deal or ‘Some Sort of War,’ Obama Warns” [NYTimes] • “Obama Presses Case on Iran Nuclear Deal” [WSJ]

Aaron David Miller: “President Obama is likely to get his Iran deal through Congress, but that’s because of his advantages in congressional math, not thanks to his powers of persuasion. President Obama often does not extend to his critics the assumption of good faith, and it showed in his rhetorical approach. He spoke over and past skeptics; it was a speech for supporters ready to believe that this is more than just a good deal.” [WSJ Bloomberg View Editorial – “Obama Puts Fear Before Facts on Iran” [BV]

NYTimes Editorial: “After the speech, in a meeting with a small group of journalists, Mr. Obama said the possibility of war if the deal fails was a matter of logic.” [NYTimes]

Heard on the Hill: Sen. Bob Menendez to Wendy Sherman — “This agreement or war? Is that the choice? Simple yes or no?” Sherman: “I don’t think it’s a simple yes or no.” Menendez: “So if you had not struck agreement with Iran, would we be at war with Iran?” Sherman: “I believe that the chances that we would be down the road to war would go up exponentially.” Menendez: “So you’re saying compared to other witnesses, who have served in the Administration in the past, who support the agreement and have been asked the same question, they have unequivocally, easily said ‘no, it’s not this or war’ so you think it is this or war?”

Sherman: “It’s not binary.” Menendez: “A year from now, two or three years from now?” Sherman: “I don’t think any of us can predict the future in that way.” Menendez: “That’s the problem. The Secretary of State has come before us and said it’s either this or war. That is a binary statement.” Sherman: “Sanctions have never gotten rid of their nuclear program. It’s only brought them to the table.” [Video• Full hearing with witnesses Sherman, Adam Szubin, Nicholas Burns, Mark Dubowitz, Matthew Levitt, and Juan Carlos Zarate [CSPAN]

“Senate sets Iran debate for September after five-week break” by Paul Kane: “Senate leaders agreed Wednesday to shutter the chamber for the annual end-of-summer break and set up the pivotal debate on President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran after Labor Day, leaving just a handful of days to consider the proposal.” [WashPost• “Lawmakers take well-timed Israel trip paid for by AIPAC charitable arm” [PowerPost] • Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweets: “Welcomed today Democrat members of Congress.” [Pic]

Graham Allison: “9 Reasons to Support the Iran Deal” [TheAtlantich/t Daniel Mael

Danielle Pletka: “How Congress Can Make a Bad Iran Deal Better” [PoliticoMag]

2016 WATCH: “Scott Walker: I Will ‘Terminate’ Iran Deal ‘Immediately’ If Elected” by Todd Beamon: “Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker told Newsmax TV unequivocally on Wednesday that he would “terminate the bad deal with Iran immediately” if he were elected to the White House. “I wouldn’t wait to put my cabinet in place or anything else,” the Wisconsin governor told “Newsmax Prime” host J.D. Hayworth. “I’m starting plans right now, so I’m ready on day one.” [Newsmax]

Haim Saban told Channel One’s Ayala Hasson-Nesher that the Iran deal is a “very bad deal” and “we need to fight against it.” Saban said he had lunch with President Obama last Friday. [Twitter] h/t Jacob Kornbluh

Howard Schultz in the NYTimes: “The speculation about my candidacy reminds me of a lesson from a great Jewish leader. A decade ago, I visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem with Nosson Tzvi Finkel, a widely respected rabbi in Israel. As we approached one of the holiest sites in Judaism, the rabbi halted about 10 yards away as a crowd of admirers gathered nearby. I beckoned him further. “I’ve never been closer than this,” the rabbi told me. Astounded, I asked why. “You go,” he said. “I’m not worthy.”” [NYTimes]

“How Ivanka Trump Courts the Opposite of Controversy” by Emily Greenhouse: “For some, Donald Trump is an object of ridicule. Not so for “Daddy’s little girl.”… Ivanka is brand Trump. But she’s a more refined, concertedly feminine variety. Not that there’s a dainty, pass-the-smelling-salts aspect to her persona. Ivanka has learned how never to be embarrassed—or, if she is embarrassed, how not to let the public in on the feeling… as a Trump, she doesn’t really have to work. Although it’s pleasant to read that Ivanka, who converted to Judaism—her husband comes from an Orthodox Jewish family—finds in Shabbat “an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”” [Bloomberg]

“Inside Russ Feingold’s comeback attempt” by Manu Raju: “In 2007 on Capitol Hill, Feingold was part of a group of senators who sought to limit the influence of lobbyists. But Federal Election Commission records from July show that he received nearly $36,000 in bundled contributions from a lobbying group, J Street, which advocates liberal-leaning policies on Israel and the Middle East.” [Politico]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Meet Sam Barnett, a 25-year-old Jewish Prodigy Investor Who Raised Hundreds of Millions for his Hedge Fund [Bloomberg] • “Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh Breaks Silence, Points Fingers in Emotional Post-Bankruptcy Interview” [HollywoodReporter] • “Larry Silverstein seeking partner to build 2 WTC tower” [NYPost• “Spinola named to David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone board of directors” [CapitalNY] • “Final Madoff defendant sentenced to six months in prison” [Reuters] • “Model sues Ian Schrager over ‘stolen’ $40K watches” [NYPost] • “Mark Zuckerberg-Backed Site: Immigration Stance Could Doom GOP” [Wired] • “Lawmakers slam Eva Moskowitz over $8.5M from John Paulson” [DailyNews] • Harvey Levin and TMZ About to Get Taste of Own Bitter Medicine … From The New Yorker” [HollywoodReporter]

SPOTLIGHT: “U.S. Probes Och-Ziff Africa Deal Tied to Mugabe” by Scott Patterson:“According to people familiar with the probe, prosecutors’ and regulators’ broader investigation includes Och-Ziff’s dealings with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who has been accused by, among others, mining-transparency advocates such as Global Witness of getting sweetheart mining deals through his close ties to Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION: “How Google charmed the Israeli tech industry with this wild and beautiful office” by Julie Bort: “Google is known as one of the most important parts of the startup community. It is helping startups succeed, giving them resources for free. Its $1.1 billion purchase of mapping company Waze, a team still based in Tel Aviv, also helped jump-start a rush of lucrative exits for other startups. And its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, who visits this campus frequently, is one of the most lavish investors in the land.” [BusinessInsider]

“El Al to Acquire $3.4 Billion of Boeing 787s to Renew Jet Fleet” by Rick Clough: “El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. agreed to buy and lease as many as 15 Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners, valued at $3.4 billion or more at list prices, to help refresh the carrier’s long-haul fleet. The accord also includes purchase rights for an additional 13 planes, Boeing said Wednesday in a statement.” [Bloomberg]

TRANSITION: “Settler leader Dani Dayan appointed Israeli Ambassador to Brazil” [JPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Now on Uber’s behalf, Bloomberg veterans continue taxi fight” by Dana Rubinstein: “The Bloomberg veterans include… Stu Loeser, Bloomberg’s long-serving press secretary, who now speaks for both Uber and Bloomberg. “Mike Bloomberg attracted people to government who are uninterested in doing things the same old way, and with almost no regard for political worldview,” said Loeser. “And now companies are hiring us. We weren’t interested in inefficient, ineffective systems that served customers poorly and ripped off immigrants when we were in government,” Loeser said. “Why would we want to do it when we were out of government?” [CapitalNY]

HOLLYWOOD: “Pope Francis Invites Oprah, Ari Emanuel to the Vatican” by Matthew Belloni: “Ari Emanuel might soon get a chance to hug it out with the pope. Sources say the William Morris Endeavor superagent and his co-CEO Patrick Whitesell are on a shortlist of media players whom reps for Pope Francis have approached for a special meeting at the Vatican this fall. The pontiff apparently is interested in discussing how the church is perceived by Western media influencers and ways to improve its portrayal in entertainment.” [HollywoodReporter]

HEADLINE: “True Love Officially Dead: Donald Sterling Files for Divorce” [GawkerAP]

Oops! — “Jewish burial ceremony goes horribly wrong after coffin mix-up” by Ross Toback:“The coffin supposedly holding the remains of Grigoriy Gutnikov was already being lowered into his grave at Mount Richmond Cemetery on Staten Island in April 2014, when his daughter Jenny Gutnick spotted a suspicious Post-it note on the side bearing a woman’s name. Because the family is Orthodox Jewish, a rabbi at the service was hesitant to open the casket and check, as Jewish law forbids it. But after a “prolonged discussion,” the rabbi relented and allowed the daughter to open her “dad’s” coffin — only to find the woman’s body.” [NYPost]

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