Daily Kickoff: Meet the 16-Year-Old Making Millions Selling Rare Sneakers | Martin Selig on why he supports Trump | JJ interviews Natalie Portman
Ed note: There will be no Daily Kickoff emails next week but be sure to follow us on Twitter and at JewishInsider.com for scoops and updates.
WEEKEND READ: “Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart” by Scott Anderson — The story of more than a decade of war, terror and revolution in the Middle East, seen through the eyes of six people whose lives were changed forever. This in-depth article, the product of some 18 months of reporting, charts the catastrophe that has befallen the Arab World since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and a global refugee crisis. [NYTimesMag]
TOP TALKER: “Lapid: U.S. Presidential Transition Time ‘Dangerous’ for Israel” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The transition time of an American president is always a dangerous time for us,” Knesset Member and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid said in a conference call hosted by the Israel Policy Forum on Wednesday. “Even Ronald Reagan, who was a great friend of Israel, recognized the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) in his transition time.” Going to the UN would be the “worst possibility” for Israel, even if the resolution does not impose sanctions on Israel for settlement activity but calls them illegal, Lapid said.
“The damage would be huge — and this is counterproductive, even for those of us who believe Israel needs separate itself from the Palestinians and understand that this separation has to do with evacuating settlements,” he said. “It won’t be able to define the difference between the [large settlement] blocs and the more isolated settlements that are going to be part of a future Palestinian state. This is the worst possibility of them all, and I really hope that the United States will (a) not take this path and (b) if somebody else will, will veto it before.” [JewishInsider]
Lapid tells Jewish Insider: “I think Israel needs to acknowledge the fact that the majority of the American Jewry, American Jews are Democrats. I think we should do our best to go back to bipartisanship. I said last time I was in Congress, Congressman Ted Deutch organized for me to sit with a group of Dems – most of them Jewish – members of Congress, and we all agreed that there is a certain amount of rehabilitation that needs to be made between Israel and the Democratic Party. I think it’s a goal. This doesn’t mean, of course, we’re giving up on the Republican Party. As I was saying, there needs to be more bipartisanship.”
“Bibi rival says $3.7bn US military deal leaves Israel short-changed” by James Reinl:“Instead of grandstanding over the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu could have brokered some kind of “compensation package” from Washington for as much as $5bn each year to recompense Israel for its security losses, Lapid said. The 10-year US-Israel military aid package is an “almost done deal” that will be “signed in the coming days,” although it may not be unveiled until Netanyahu attends the annual UN General Assembly in New York in mid-September, Lapid said.” [MDE; JPost]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “In reversal, Trump says IS claim about Obama was sarcastic” by Josh Lederman:“After days of alleging repeatedly that President Barack Obama literally founded the Islamic State group, Donald Trump abruptly shifted tone on Friday and insisted his widely debunked claim had been sarcastic.” [AP]
“Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump misses ‘what makes Michigan great'” by John Gallagher and Kathleen Gray: “Clinton and about 100 people attended a fund-raiser Wednesday night at the Birmingham home of Gretchen and Ethan Davidson, son of Bill Davidson, who led Guardian Industries and the Detroit Pistons until his death in 2009. The fund-raiser was described as “big-ticket,” but a dollar amount for ticket wasn’t immediately available. Among the attendees at the event was Motown star Aretha Franklin, who sang two songs during the event, “Respect” and “Natural Woman.””[DetroitFreePress]
“His Family Escaped the Nazis. So Why Is Martin Selig Supporting Trump?” by Daniel Person: Given your family’s history of escaping Nazi Germany, what do you make of the comparisons between Trump and the far-right nationalist parties in Europe? Selig: “That’s so poppycock. It’s just a lot of talking. I really don’t see the comparison. The only way we got out of there was because my father was a member of the American Chamber of Commerce, and we basically got the last boat out. We went from Germany to Poland to Moscow, on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Korea, across the Sea of Japan, to a boat in Yokohama, Japan. It was going to San Francisco, but it stopped in Seattle. For reasons we can’t figure out, my family got off in Seattle. This country kept us alive, allowed us in.” [SeattleWeekly]
“Stephen Miller, meet your immigrant great-grandfather” by Rob Eshman:“I am fascinated by Stephen Miller. He is the 30-year-old wunderkind political adviser in the campaign of Donald J. Trump whose job has been to whip up the crowd prior to Trump taking the stage. On his mother’s side, Miller is a Glosser — and you could write a book on the Glossers. In fact, someone did. By becoming Trump’s anti-immigrant avatar, Miller demonstrates that in America, truly anything is possible: The great-grandson of a desperate refugee can grow up to shill for the demagogue bent on keeping desperate refugees like his great-grandfather out.” [JewishJournal]
“GOP donors, fearful of Trump-fueled electoral rout, direct big money down-ballot” by Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy:“Singer is spreading his money down the Republican ballot, shelling out more than $7 million through the end of June to nine super PACs backing congressional candidates. There are signs of a brewing big money fight in Illinois, where Republican Sen. Mark Kirk is scrambling to fend off Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, even after he formally retracted his support of Trump. Independent Voice for Illinois collected one of its biggest donations to date in late June, when it received $150,000 from out of state. The donor? Paul Singer.” [WashPost]
INBOX — Carol & Jerry Levin and Yossi Siegel are hosting Sen. Mark Kirk in the Hamptons on August 28th. The event costs $1,000 to attend and $2,700 to sponsor.
“Kirk opposes Iran deal, but his presidential pick has supported it” by Rick Pearson: “Kirk, who has unendorsed Donald Trump, said Wednesday he “can’t support” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or anyone for president who backs the Iran nuclear agreement. But Kirk’s stated choice as a write-in candidate for president, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, also supported the U.S.-led multinational agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Kirk’s comments came in an interview on CNN in which he talked about his evolving choice for president. “Hillary Clinton was for the Iran agreement. And I can’t support someone who is for the Iran agreement,” Kirk said. “In my case, I’ll be writing in Gen. Colin Powell. That, I think, would be the best person,” said Kirk.” [ChicagoTribune]
After our report on FL23, Jewish Dems push back against Canova’s attacks — “As Jewish representatives from South Florida, we are frankly disappointed that Mr. Canova would use us so disingenuously,” Congressmembers Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch said in a joint statement. “We both strongly support Debbie Wasserman Schultz for re-election, in no small part due to her deep commitment to Israel and her tireless advocacy on behalf of the Jewish community in South Florida and around the world. We are calling on Tim Canova to immediately stop using our names and images.”
Ron Klein tells us: “This is not partisanship. This is not Democrat vs. Democrat. This is about who is pro-Israel and why they are pro-Israel. I’ve got big concerns over the critique Mr. Canova has made over Debbie’s record. I’ve known her since 1992. She is a stalwart pro-Israel person, and there’s very few exceptions to that. I think him criticizing her about the Iran deal vote, and then himself going back and forth in his own position, is a little bit credulous… This is not something we should play politics with. We have a limited number of Jewish members in Congress; we are two percent of the country. We need all the friends that we can get, and the Jewish members have to stick together and find non-Jewish friends who also support Israel – it shouldn’t be a partisan issue or a political issue.”
Vice President Joe Biden in September’s edition of Foreign Affairs: “One year on, the deal speaks for itself: the agreement is working… Tearing up the deal now, as some have proposed, would leave Iran’s nuclear program unconstrained, increase the threat to Israel and our partners in the Gulf, turn the international community against the United States, and sharply raise the prospect of another major war in the Middle East. Critics of engagement should remember that the nuclear deal was never meant to resolve all our problems with Tehran. Engaging Iran need not come at the expense of our ironclad commitments to our allies and partners in the Middle East, including Israel.” [ForeignAffairs]
“Convicted spy Pollard loses challenge to U.S. parole conditions” by Nate Raymond: “U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan denied a challenge by Pollard to requirements imposed by the U.S. Parole Commission that he wear an electronic tracking device and submit his work computer to monitoring.” [Reuters]
“Ben-Gurion on Israel, Peace and Back Pain: A Lost Interview Is Brought to Life” by Isabel Kershner: “The rare, intimate and reflective interview with Israel’s founding prime minister was filmed nearly 50 years ago, but it never aired. David Ben-Gurion, at 82 and five years out of office, spoke in the six-hour interview of state-building and the biblical prophets that guided him; the security imperative of his young nation and Israel’s quest for spiritual and moral superiority; his battle with lower back pain and his interest in Buddhism.” [NYTimes]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: N.J. Approves $800 Million Bond Plan to Complete Mega Mall [Bloomberg] • Y Combinator visiting India, Israel, Nigeria, Russia and 7 other countries this fall [VentureBeat] — Flashback to 2014: “Y Combinator founder Paul Graham Enraged Israeli Techies With Seemingly Pro-Palestinian Tweets” [NYMag; Pando] • 80-floor office high-rise approved for Tel Aviv [Globes] • Dean Kamen, inventor of Segway, iBot and AutoSyringe and founder of FIRST, shares his perspective on: attracting today’s kids to technology, running out of time and capitalism [Forbes]
STARTUP NATION: “Google and the U.S. Government Are Helping Orthodox Jews Get Tech Jobs” by Gwen Ackerman: “Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Alphabet Inc. are among companies supporting Moshe Friedman’s KamaTech, a venture backed by the U.S. government and private money aimed at getting more ultra-Orthodox Jews like Friedman into Israel’s burgeoning technology industry. Friedman, who wears the white shirt, black suit and black skull cap of ultra-religious Jews, has seen interest in his program soar: from five haredi entrepreneurs at a community startup event he hosted in 2013 to 1,000 at a Tel Aviv gathering a year ago. Friedman said today there are at least 6,000 haredi engineers in Israel, from almost zero three years ago.” [Bloomberg]
PROFILE: “This 16-Year-Old Has Made Millions Selling Rare Sneakers” by Lauren Schwartzberg: “Ben’s real last name is Kapelushnik, and a full year before he should be graduating from his Fort Lauderdale high school (he skipped fourth grade and is now homeschooled), he’s one of the most recognizable sneaker resellers in a flourishing resale market valued at $1.2 billion. Ben brags that he’s on track to make $1 million in sales this year just from the normals who shop his collection every day online at sneakerdon.com… He read sneaker magazines to learn what was popular, used his bar-mitzvah money to buy more, studied the resale market, and met like-minded hobbyists at sneaker conventions.”
“One night last December, after the black Yeezy Boost 750 release ($1,400 on sneakerdon.com), Ben was at Khaled’s house with Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat. Ben had come into a small fortune that day, having sold a handful of Yeezys. Khaled was in the Jacuzzi, filming for Snapchat, and asked Ben, “How’s business?” With Ben’s answer, a tagline was born. “That was just the thing that came to my head. It’s, like, a word, you know? It’s like, Boomin’. It’s just a boomin’ word. It’s just boomin’!” Earlier this year, the hip-hop personality Karen Civil posted a video asking Hillary Clinton, “How’s business?” The nominee smiled at the camera, looking directly at her millennial voters. “Boomin’!””
“On the wall of fame in Ben’s bedroom, there’s a picture of him dancing behind the rapper Rick Ross as he performs for Ben at his bar mitzvah. Ben’s father had met the rapper through work and asked him to make an appearance: “It’s funny because I didn’t know who he was then, and now I sell sneakers to him,” Ben says. Both of Ben’s parents — a real-estate broker and a stay-at-home mother — moved here from Russia, and Ben’s voice has the type of inflection you might expect from someone who grew up speaking Russian to immigrant parents and now mostly hangs out with rappers.” [NYMag] • See a pic of Ben with his great-grandmother in Miami with the Birkat Habayit blessing hanging on the wall in the background [Pic]
LongRead: “You’re Not Done With Al Sharpton Yet” by Ben Smith: “Sharpton’s tolerance — even enjoyment — of ideological adversaries does not extend to Donald Trump, though he recognizes the parallels in their public lives… Sharpton is self-aware enough to understand his own place in the media game, but he sees his role differently than Donald Trump’s. “I ain’t mad at nobody. He is,” Sharpton concluded. “He will never, ever go to bed and wake up and be the toast of the Regency breakfast room. But I will see police reform laws.” [BuzzFeed]
HOLLYWOOD: “For her directorial debut, Natalie Portman mines her inner Israeli and what it means to be Jewish” by Danielle Berrin: “When I approach Portman, she smiles, introducing herself with a light handshake. Almost instantly she conveys an uncanny resemblance to the character I had just seen her play — a bit remote; fragile like fine porcelain, her interior somehow off-limits and unknowable. For her directorial debut, Portman chose Israeli writer Amos Oz’s celebrated memoir “A Tale of Love and Darkness.” It is the first time in Portman’s career she has served as writer, director and star, and she labored more than a decade to bring Oz’s heartrending elegy from page to screen.” [JewishJournal]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “This Phone Number Lets You Talk to Random Jews Around the World” by Josefin Dolsten: “A new phone number connects callers with Jews living all over the world — whether they are looking for kosher restaurant recommendations, local synagogues or just a chat. The inspiration for the idea came from two sources: a similar number launched by the Swedish Tourist Association in April, which connects callers with random Swedes, and a phone call with a relative facing a religious conundrum.” [Forward]
BIRTHWEEK: Our weekly wine columnist Yitz Applbaum celebrated his birthday yesterday. Yitz is hard at work preparing a strong selection of reviews for Autumn.
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire currency trader, philanthropist and political activist, George Soros (born György Schwartz) turns 86… Winner of two Academy Awards for his screenplays, William Goldman turns 85… Founding editor of The Times of Israel David Horovitz turns 54… Red Banyan Group’s DC principal, Jarad Geldner… Temple Beth Zion of Brookline’s Claudia Kreiman… Director of Management Operations at The University of Texas at Houston, Fredi Bleeker Franks… David Fine… Jay Chernikoff…
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen turns 70… Michael Landau turns 51… Mort Algaze… Dana Marlowe… Ruthie Kellerman… Elaine Hall… Jonathan Gerber… Moshava Malibu… Jodie Singer… Mila Kunis turns 33… Jeremy Wynes… Carol Levin, President of the Hampton Synagogue…