Daily Kickoff: Why Jared Kushner & Cory Booker have not spoken in months: Iran deal & Trump | Hamptons Eruv | Tevi Troy on Israel’s Tennis Tradition
TOP TALKER — ISRAEL & DEM PARTY: Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor of Los Angeles and 2012 Democratic Convention Chairman, talks Israel and the Democratic party with David Suissa: “We don’t need more division,” Villaraigosa told me over the phone last week. “Our platform is already fair to both sides. Israel is a strong ally of the United States. Even if it’s not always easy, Israel should be a bipartisan issue. Period.” [JewishJournal]
Bernie Sanders moves toward a fight over Israel, forcing Hillary Clinton to navigate a splintered party” by Noah Bierman: “Mark Mellman, a veteran Democratic strategist who also has worked in Israeli elections, predicted Clinton, as the party’s nominee, would have her way, and that the platform would reflect her reputation in the Senate and as Secretary of State as a strong backer of Israel. But, he added, “that may require a little butting of heads.” If Clinton does agree to significant changes in the platform, Republicans will be lying in wait. “If you’re pro-Israel, the warning lights are flashing red right now,” said Ari Fleischer.” [LATimes]
From Friday — “Clinton Appointee Rep. Luis Gutierrez is reportedly working together with Sanders’ appointees to change platform to show more sympathy to Palestinians” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Gutierrez stressed that there could be room in the platform for language that “elaborates more clearly the wishes, the desires, the aspirations of the Palestinian people and their hope for justice and for peace and equality.” “Absolutely, I think we can do more,” he said. The report also notes that Gutierrez departed on Thursday for a long-planned trip hosted by the American Global Institute, funded by MIFTAH, a pro-Palestinian organization.” [Haaretz; JewishInsider]
Wendy Sherman, another Clinton appointee to the party’s drafting committee, told Jewish Insider: “The Democratic Party has always, in the platform, reflected longstanding, strong support for Israel. I don’t expect that to change,” Sherman told Jewish Insider on Friday. “I believe that everybody is in strong support for Israel’s security and I think that Secretary Clinton views about the importance of Israel’s security and the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel is something that is held by all Democrats.”
Sherman maintained that there will be “discussion” within the party over its official approach to the conflict because “Democrats believe in robust discussion.” But in the end, the long-held views of the party and Clinton’s commitment to a two-state solution will “bring together” the party and be reflected in the final draft. “The Democratic platform has always, always shown incredibly strong and longstanding support for Israel,” Sherman stressed.” [JewishInsider]
“Despite What Bernie Sanders Says, The Democratic Party Platform Doesn’t Matter” by Dan Friedman: “I don’t know of any president who before making a tough decision said, ‘I better consult with the platform committee,’” New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel said. [Fortune]
“Sanders: Israel’s Right to Exist in Peace & Security Not Up For Debate” by Jacob Kornbluh: “I am 100 percent pro Israel in the sense of Israel’s right to exist,” Sanders said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday. “I lived in Israel, I have family in Israel, Israel has the right to live not only in peace and security, but to know that their very existence will be protected by the United States government. There will be a general recognition by the entire Democratic convention, that of course Israel’s right to exist in peace and security is not in debate. I think there’s going to be broad consensus within the Democratic convention on that issue.” [JewishInsider]
ON THE HILL: “Republicans join Democrats in anger at AIPAC” by Michael Wilner: “Aides to Republican leadership on Capitol Hill complain of widespread disappointment in the lobby over the last several months, which the politicos view as dragging its feet on anything unrelated to its new, central concern: renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act, a move that the Obama administration has yet to oppose or endorse. “There’s a level of frustration stemming from AIPAC’s seeming refusal to mobilize on any legislation with teeth this year,” said one such senior Republican aide. “There are solid, bipartisan bills out there, yet they [AIPAC] seem to be waiting for some unicorn proposal from Royce-Engel.”” [JPost]
SIREN — Third of Americans support BDS campaign against Israel: “About one in three Americans are in favor of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement to apply economic pressure on Israel, according to an Ipsos poll cited by Israel’s Mako news site on Monday. On the flip side, a solid majority of 62 percent of Americans believe that the BDS Movement is an expression of modern anti-Semitism according to the survey, and 50 percent of UK respondents agree.” [i24; JPost] • Caveat: Sample size of 1,100 is tiny.
HAPPENING TODAY: Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon is hosting an international summit to discuss BDS at UN Headquarters in New York. The conference, co-hosted by the World Jewish Congress, will kick off with a morning session in the UN General Assembly Hall with more than 1,500 guests from around the world, and will feature speeches by Ambassador Danon, WJC’s Ronald Lauder and Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Vice President of the Supreme Court Of Israel. Breakout sessions include a panel on Fighting BDS on Campus with Shoham Nicolet, David Sable, and Frank Luntz, moderated by David Suissa. Justice Rubinstein and ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt will speak at an interactive experience workshop on the legal aspects of boycotts and de-legitimization.
KAFE KNESSET — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: The question everyone’s been asking since last night: Have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman turned into peaceniks? Just minutes after Liberman was sworn into his post yesterday, the two former political rivals summoned a joint press statement, and declared that Israel is willing to hold peace talks with Arab states and discuss the “Arab Peace Initiative,” first offered by Saudi Arabia in 2002, which “includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” according to Netanyahu. Liberman, for his part, talked positively about the two-state solution. Some believe the pair are just trying to take some expected international pressure off Israel’s back. Others see this as part of a real attempt to start new peace talks with Egyptian moderation.
However, Netanyahu and Liberman’s peace talks will soon be tested, as a group of right-wing Knesset members, including some from Likud, has anounced a new campaign calling on the government to annex the large settlement of Ma’aleh Adomim, east of Jerusalem, to Israel. A few months ago, when he was still an opposition member, Lieberman declared that he won’t enter Netanyahu’s coalition unless thousands of new houses will be built in Ma’aleh Adomim. Eventually, he dropped that demand, but this new campaign could become quite a challenge for both him and the Prime Minister.
“Debate Over Role of ‘People’s Army’ in Israel Reflects Wider Fissures” by Isabel Kershner:“Israel’s military has long served as an equalizer and unifier, a “people’s army” that, at least in the eyes of the Jewish majority, reflected the general interest. But the Israeli people, and with them the government, have shifted to the right amid an upsurge of Palestinian stabbings and other attacks. Now the military finds itself at the center of a tumultuous debate about its role as the nation’s conscience and most trusted institution.” [NYTimes]
Ya’alon Reaches Out to Donors In Preparation For Potential Run Against Netanyahu: “Moshe ‘Bogie’ Ya’alon has begun the first phase of launching a potential run by reaching out to potential donors in a letter sent in English and independently obtained by Jewish Insider. “I regard this period as a ‘time-out’ after which I intend to return and run for Israel’s national leadership.” Ya’alon’s top U.S. donors include the Falic family, Ken Bialkin, Ken Abramowitz, Adam Milstein, Melvin Salberg, Lawrence Feigen, Eric Mandel, the Asher family, David Kronfeld, among others.” [JewishInsider; JPost]
“Trump ‘won’t pressure Israel’ to act against its interests” by Uzi Baruch: “Attorney David M. Friedman, one of Donald Trump’s two advisors on Israel, told Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview that Donald Trump has assured him he will not pressure Israel into “peace processes” and concessions that it does not want. “I have his assurances that he’s not going to pressure Israel to do things that are not in Israel’s best interest. If Israel wants to pursue a peace process he’s happy to help. But he’s not going to pressure Israel into things that it doesn’t want to do,” Friedman stressed. He has a very strong view as to who’s wrong and who’s right in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. He remembers very well who was dancing on the roofs at 9/11 and who was mourning, who was crying.”” [INN]
Eric Trump on the “Cats Roundtable” radio program: “I think, honestly, the Iran nuclear deal was one of the things that made him jump into the race. I think that was a game-changer for him. That is when he finally said, ‘Kids, I am going to do it. I am going to give this a real shot.’” [JewishInsider]
PROFILE: “Jared Kushner, Trump’s Unlikely Wing Man” by Rebecca Berg: “There was a time, not long ago, when politics did not separate Jared Kushner and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, but brought them together. Booker attended Kushner’s star-studded wedding in 2009 to Ivanka Trump… For months, however, Kushner and Booker have not spoken, according to a source close to Kushner. For one, Kushner, an orthodox Jew and a supporter of pro-Israel causes, was “really disappointed” when Booker supported the president’s Iran deal, the source said. But there is another awkward hang-up: Kushner is now advising the presumptive Republican nominee for president, his father-in-law…” [RealClearPolitics]
DOWN TICKET: “Dena Minning is now Dena Grayson in race for Florida’s 9th Congressional District” by Frank Torres: “One of Dena Minning’s biggest assets in her congressional bid was her boyfriend: incumbent Alan Grayson, who’s leaving the U.S. House to run for U.S. Senate. Now, after Grayson has helped raise her profile and run for his U.S. House seat, he married her over the Memorial Day Weekend and gave her his last name.” [OrlandoObserver; Politico]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Casino Mogul Steve Wynn Won’t Let His Ex-Wife Sell Her $1 Billion in Stock” [DailyBeast] • “Viacom CEO using company resources to fight Shari Redstone” [NYPost] • “Sky high: NYC ‘trophy apartment’ could list for $250 million” [AP] • “What Hillel Fuld, the ‘Scoble of Israel, Thinks Is Preventing Israeli Tech From Surpassing Silicon Valley” [Inc] • “As layoffs loom, Intel doubles down on Israeli fintech” [JPost] • “Leviathan partners sign $3 billion Israeli natural gas supply deal” [Reuters]
MEDIA WATCH: “In the Hamptons, a Small-Town Paper Is a Beacon in the Mayhem” by Jim Rutenberg: “As Mr. Rattray ran through the story lineup for the next issue, the paper’s editor at large, Irene Silverman, who has worked there since 1968, tracked a daddy longlegs’ meandering path across her desk… But what really caught Mr. Rattray’s ear was word of $18 French fries at Duryea’s, a beloved old lobster shack in Montauk that had just received a St. Barts-style makeover from its new owner, the billionaire investor Marc Rowan. “I think there’s an editorial about $18 fries — about why, and for whom,” Mr. Rattray said.” [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Hamptons Town Nears a Deal on a Jewish Ritual Boundary” by Matt Chaban: “Since 2008, members of the Hampton Synagogue on Sunset Avenue have been trying to erect an eruv in Westhampton Beach and neighboring Quogue, both villages within the town of Southampton… After years of court battles and even a mocking segment in 2011 on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Southampton settled with the association last fall, followed by Quogue this spring, and Westhampton Beach is likely to do the same after a public hearing on Thursday.” [NYTimes]
TALK OF OUR NATION: Who wants to be a Jew? The unlikely spread of Judaism in Africa:“It might seem odd that people would sign up to join a small faith whose members have suffered centuries of oppression. Yet Uri Palti, Israel’s ambassador to Nigeria, reckons there are more than 40 such communities across the country… Yet the embrace by these communities of the laws of Moses has not been warmly reciprocated by the Orthodox establishment in Israel. Still, officialdom is shifting. Israel’s Jewish Agency last month recognised the Abayudaya as Jews, meaning that they are allowed to emigrate to Israel.” [Economist]
“French Jews flee Paris suburbs over rising anti-Semitism” by Pauline Froissart and Benoît Fauchet: “When Alain Benhamou walked into his apartment near Paris in July 2015 and saw the words “dirty Jew” scrawled on the wall, he knew it was time to leave. It was his second such break-in in less than three months and the 71-year-old no longer felt welcome in Bondy, a Parisian suburb he had called home for more than 40 years.” [AFP]
CAMPUS BEAT: “Race on Campus: A Conversation with Yale President Peter Salovey” [NYBooks]
HOLLYWOOD: “Jesse Eisenberg: Why I’ll Never Be Happy” by Nico Hines: ““I come from a family of kind of brooding thinkers, not swimmers… my parents are great parents and good people but the goal was not to be the happiest person; the goal was to be kind of productive and to think and to consider and to be empathetic to others and to try to make the world better in some small way, to give back. It was never to just be happy. I guess my family would view happiness as somehow hedonistic,” he said.” [DailyBeast]
SPORTS BLINK: “Is there a deeper, Kabbalah-inspired meaning behind the playoff beard?” by Armin Rosen: “The playoff beard is less historically weighted, of course. But it’s not without its own rich texture of meaning. Playoff beards spring from a near-mystical superstition—that Kabbalists’ fear of the untold cosmic consequences of disturbing even a single hair on an oddly specific part of the body. And that superstition has a trans-temporal dimension that gives it a meaning greater than itself. Put another way: maybe the playoff beard just works, even if the causality of it must remain a mystery. Every Stanley Cup winner grows them, right? And would a cleaner-shaven Red Sox team have won in 2013—or in 2004, for that matter? Maybe, but maybe not.” [TabletMag]
“Tennis-playing part of a long Israeli tradition” by Tevi Troy: “Liberman’s undistinguished military service has prompted the quip circulating in the papers these days that the closest Liberman has come to a projectile whizzing by his head has been on the tennis court. Liberman is only the most recent Israeli politician to have an affinity for the sport of kings. In fact, tennis has been important in Israel since the state’s creation, and even beforehand. In 1946, in the midst of the Jewish quest for independence, Jewish groups were engaged in a regular and deadly battle of wits against the British security forces.”[JPost]
WEEKEND WEDDING — Shayndi Raice, Dov Weiss: “In 1999, Ms. Raice said she noticed Mr. Weiss, then a rabbinical student, playing guitar during the Jewish holiday Sukkot, with a rabbi who taught at her high school, at one of the school’s events. She became infatuated with him from afar, but romance would wait until 2015, when a mutual friend set them up on a date.” [NYTimes] • Spotted at the wedding: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew [Playbook; Pic]
Jessica Levine, Evan Sherman: “Jessica Ann Levine, a daughter of Randi Charno Levine and Jeffrey E. Levine of Manhattan, was married Sunday to Evan Isaac Sherman, the son of Stacey J. Sherman and Michael A. Sherman of Beverly Hills, Calif. Rabbi Michael Stanger officiated at the Brooklyn Museum. Her father is the founder and chairman of Douglaston Development and the president of the Jewish National Fund.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz turns 55… Professor Emeritus at Princeton and one of the West’s leading academic experts on Islam and the Middle East, Bernard Lewis turns 100… Alfred Stern… Melissa York… Brad Goldstein… Stephanie Oreck… Emmy award winning journalist and political commentator for Fox News, Bernard Goldberg turns 71… Comedienne, actress, and TV producer, Susie Essman turns 61… Hannah Swieca (h/t Dan Smith)… Real Estate Developer Larry Silverstein turned 85 (yesterday)… Congressman Steve Israel turned 58 (yesterday)…