Meet the woman tasked with keeping NYC Jews safe | Tillerson says Bibi “played” Trump | Tennessee football jerseys in Israel

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JI INTERVIEW — The woman tasked with keeping New York’s Jews safe — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Deborah Lauter, executive director of the newly created New York City Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, told Jewish Insider that the city’s Jewish community is living in fear, and she is working on a “multipronged approach” to tackle the problem. 

Mayoral coordination: Lauter, who previously served as the national civil rights director at the Anti-Defamation League, said she had “a very good discussion” with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about her responsibilities. “He was very thoughtful about it and he reiterated that this is a priority for him.”

Growing fear: “I’m very concerned about the level of fear that is in those communities… the mayor is making it clear that all New Yorkers need to feel safe within their communities and that he’s particularly concerned about the antisemitic numbers on the upswing… This wave of antisemitism and level of fear within the community is probably at its peak that I’ve ever seen in the United States.”

Reporting levels: “If we do a really good job at educating all these different groups, the numbers of hate crimes, actually, might go up because the number of reported hate crimes will go up,” she said. “I would love to see the numbers overall come down. I’d like the communities that are feeling the most vulnerable right now to feel assured that we’re working on it. I would love there to be no hate. I mean, I’d love for this office not to have to exist, but we know that’s not reality. But we do believe there are things you can do to mitigate it.” [JewishInsider

TALK OF THE CITY — Orthodox Jews fear being targets of rising antisemitism — by Yon Pomrenze and Jason Carroll: “Akiva Perl, a Crown Heights resident and son of a Holocaust survivor, said he fears a dark period for the Jewish people is repeating itself. ‘Somehow we’re accustomed to it, unfortunately,’ he said. ‘It’s not a shock. It’s just something that repeats itself and hopefully God has his ways and it will be rectified before it gets, heaven forbid, to a terrible situation.’” [CNN]

 Bill de Blasio announced Friday morning that he is dropping out of the presidential race. “I feel like I have contributed all I can to this primary election. It’s clearly not my time, so I’m going to end my presidential campaign,” de Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Outgoing Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt is expected to meet today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Israeli media provided contradictory reports about whether Greenblatt will also be meeting with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. 

Greenblatt is in Israel to attend the wedding of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman’s daughter, according to Channel 12’s Dana Weiss. 

COALITION WRANGLING — President Reuven Rivlin is slated to begin meeting with delegations from each party on Sunday, to determine who to task with building a government coalition. His first meeting will be with representatives from top vote-getter Blue and White, then Likud, the Joint List, Shas and Yisrael Beytenu. On Monday, Rivlin is slated to meet with United Torah Judaism, Yamina, Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Union. 

Final tally: With almost all the votes counted, Blue and White cemented its lead over Likud, with 33 seats compared to 31. Next up is the Joint List with 13, Shas with 9, UTJ and Yisrael Beytenu with 8 each, Yamina with 7, Labor-Gesher with 6 and the Democratic Union with 5. Barring any legal challenges — which are not expected — this should be the final makeup of the 22nd Knesset. 

How it played: The repeated deadlock has left international media — plus locals — somewhat confused about the Israeli political future, and looking more closely at Gantz as a potential successor. The Washington Post asked: “Who is Benny Gantz? The former military chief could be Israel’s next prime minister,” while The Wall Street Journal opined that Gantz would “likely maintain Netanyahu’s foreign policy stance.” 

View from Washington: The WSJ also speculated that the Israeli vote “could yield wins for Democratic consultants and a loss for Trump’s pollster.” Democratic strategist Mark Mellman, who worked for Blue and White, told WSJ he has high hopes for Democrats’ ties to Israel in a post-Netanyahu era: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for Israel to reset its relationship with Democrats.”

TOP TALKER — Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed during a campus talk this week that Netanyahu “played” President Donald Trump.

In an interview at the Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday, the former top diplomat argued that Netanyahu — whom he described as an “extraordinarily skilled” politician — would share “misinformation” in meetings to get the Trump administration on board with his policy goals. “They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that ‘We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys,’” Tillerson charged. “It bothers me that an ally that’s that close and important to us would do that to us,” Tillerson added.

Tillerson’s advice: “In dealing with Bibi, it’s always useful to carry a healthy amount of skepticism in your discussions with him.” 

Tillerson also highlighted his disagreements with senior advisor Jared Kushner over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I did believe that we were at a moment in time where perhaps we could chart a way where the Arab world could support” a plan that was based on the two-state solution,” he said. The former diplomat added that he offered his input to help the White House peace team “identify obstacles or gaps to the [peace] plan to give it the highest chance of success.” 

Bibi shoots back: “Secretary Tillerson, Israel *is* the good guy.” 

DRIVING THE DAY — Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to present Trump with a list of potential targets to strike in Iran during a National Security Council meeting today. 

IRAN WATCH — The U.S. granted visas on Thursday to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week. The move came after Trump’s backing: “I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come,” the president told reporters on Wednesday. 

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Zarif threatened an “all-out war” in the event of a U.S.-led or backed military strike against Iranian targets. “We won’t blink to defend our territory,” he said.

Justice served: Victims of Iran’s global terror network are receiving a portion of more than $28 million in assets following the sale of Iranian properties in Toronto and Ottawa, per a recent Canadian court decision. Plaintiffs include the family of Marla Bennett, an American killed in the 2002 Hebrew University bombing, and Edward Tracy and Joseph Cicippio, who were both held hostage by Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, for five years. [JewishInsider]

SCENE IN D.C. — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a tense conversation with a group of senators during a private dinner at the restaurant Ris in downtown Washington on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. The dinner was organized by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Zuckerberg continued with a string of private meetings with Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Thursday. Zuckerberg was accompanied by Facebook’s global policy chief Joel Kaplan. 

The Facebook CEO also met with Trump in the Oval Office.[Pic

CAMPUS BEAT — The U.S. Department of Education blasted a joint Middle Eastern studies program between the University of North Carolina and Duke University for providing a biased curriculum to students. The department ordered UNC’s vice chancellor for research to provide an updated curriculum for the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies (CEMS) by Sunday in order for the program to retain its federal funding.

Written warning: The letter, sent by Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Robert King, warned that the school was potentially in violation of Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Background: The Duke-UNC program came under fire in the spring for a conference titled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities.” Reports indicate that both participants and speakers made antisemitic and anti-Israel remarks — with some of those remarks captured on film. During a performance by Palestinian-Israeli rapper Tamer Nafar, the artist told the crowd, “I can’t be antisemitic alone, try it with me together” and “Think of Mel Gibson. Go that antisemitic.” [JewishInsider]



Bridging the Israeli/American Divide — Join us THIS Sunday, September 22 at the JCC Manhattan for A Wider Bridge’s New York-Israel LGBTQ Symposium. Meet 13 Israeli LGBTQ non-profit executives as we share experiences and challenges advancing equality in Israel and the USA. Panelists include Ambassador Dani Dayan, Christine Quinn, Matthew Nosanchuk, Ritchie Torres, Yehuda Kurtzer. Space is limited. Register now.

Get Featured: Email to inform the JI readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.


2020 BRIEFS — Elizabeth Warren probes Apollo and KKR on backing for-profit colleges… Young voters still ‘Feel the Bern,’ but not just for Bernie Sanders anymore… Jimmy Carter invokes the idea of ‘age limit’ for presidential candidates… Barack Obama, the president Democratic voters don’t want to hear criticized… Marianne Williamson entertained 9/11 conspiracy theories in 2012 interview.  

HEARD YESTERDAY — Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson defended her controversial tweet that suggested that the ‘power of the mind’ could deter Hurricane Dorian in an interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi at the network’s Climate Forum. “The only problem there is that I deleted that tweet,” Williamson said. “I’m Jewish, I go to the doctor… there’s nothing anti-science about me.”

STATE-SIDE — Patrick Little, an open antisemite and Holocaust denier who ran for U.S. Senate in California last year, is now running as a Republican for a seat on the city council of Garden City in Idaho. “The only way to challenge Jewish power in this country now is with local elections because it would have to be word of mouth,” Little said on Tuesday. 

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: ‘Do we acquire stuff, or are we acquired?’ Inside the CBS-Viacom marriage, concerns about synergies and size [VanityFair] • Patrick Drahi is borrowing $1.1 billion to help finance his $2.7 billion acquisition of Sotheby’s [Bloomberg] • Sir Philip Green-backed online retailer MySale secures more funding [EveningStandard]

MORE BRIEFS: The Lerner family’s Washington Nationals have partnered with a Rockville nonprofit to donate excess food from Nationals Park to people in need [Bizjournals] • SodaStream to shut down for Sept. 20 global climate strike [MarketWatch] • Tech investors: No broad lessons seen in WeWork valuation drama [Reuters

SPOTLIGHT — Gilbert making regular ‘breakthroughs’ in stroke recovery, Emerson says — Kirk Pinho: “One of Dan Gilbert’s top lieutenants says the billionaire is ‘making breakthroughs on a daily basis’ as he recovers from a stroke that hospitalized him nearly four months ago. Bill Emerson, Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Holdings vice chairman, said Wednesday night at the Crain’s Detroit Business Detroit Homecoming event opening dinner at the Gilbert-owned State Savings Bank building that his boss ‘is working harder, physically, than he has ever worked in his life.’” [CrainsDetroit]

TRANSITION — McSally spokeswoman Katie Waldman to become VP Mike Pence’s press secretary — by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez: “Katie Waldman, who has worked as Sen. Martha McSally’s [R-AZ] top spokeswoman for the past six months, is leaving the senator’s staff to serve as Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary. Before joining McSally’s team, Waldman was a deputy press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.”

Worth noting: “Waldman is the girlfriend of Stephen Miller, a senior adviser for policy to President Donald Trump.” [AZCentral]

SPORTS BLINK — Why Tennessee has become the favorite college team for a group of players in Israel — by David Ubben: “‘For the most part, if you’re involved in Israeli football, you’re losing money,’ said Alex Brill, one of the founders of the Judean Rebels, one of eight teams in the Israeli Football League. He owns the team now and was on the active roster until a few years ago. The league began in 2007, but it dates back to touch football games as early as 1988. ‘The league wasn’t being taken seriously before,’ Brill said. ‘We wanted to elevate football in Israel.’ … ‘You’re always looking for a reason to root for somebody,’ Brill said. Five years ago, Tennessee gave them a big one: jerseys. ‘Tennessee’s become the college team for a lot of Israelis now,’ Brill said.” [TheAthletic]

Iranian judo team suspended after athlete pressured to avoid fighting an Israeli — by Jacob Bogage: 
“The International Judo Federation on Wednesday banned Iranian athletes from its events over the country’s policy to boycott matches with Israeli participants… The IJF told the Iranian federation it had 21 days to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.” [WashPost]

HOLLYWOOD — Miami Jewish Film Festival announces $18,000 prize, a first for any Jewish film festival — by Juan Antonio Barquin: “Sponsored by the American real-estate firm Crescent Heights, the new Grand Jury Prize will be open to any filmmaker whose feature film work, both narrative and documentary, either presents a substantial portion of its content as Jewish interest or is produced in Israel.” [MiamiTimes

Hitler satire ‘Jojo Rabbit’ to headline U.K. Jewish Film Festival — by Alex Ritman: “Taika Waititi’s anti-hate Nazi satire ‘Jojo Rabbit,’ winner of the people’s choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival and now tipped for Oscar glory, is set to close the 2019 U.K. Jewish Film Festival. The news, announced Thursday, may help settle any fears about the sensitive nature of the story… other gala screenings [include] the U.K. premiere of the spy drama ‘The Operative,’ starring Diane Kruger and Martin Freeman, and the world premiere of the Israeli political documentary ‘The Human Factor’ from Dror Morer (‘The Gatekeepers’) and Teddy Liefer (‘Icarus’).” [HollywoodReporter]

‘Schitt’s Creek’ creator Dan Levy signs overall deal with ABC studios — by Rick Porter: “‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-creator, showrunner and star Dan Levy is joining the Disney family. Levy has signed a three-year overall deal with Disney’s ABC Studios, which won out after multiple outlets bidding for his services. He’ll develop and produce scripted projects for the studio… The deal comes as cult favorite ‘Schitt’s Creek’ is headed into its final season on Pop and Canada’s CBC… The series, which Levy co-created with dad Eugene Levy, is among the nominees for outstanding comedy at Sunday’s Emmy Awards.” [HollywoodReporter]

Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson renew FX overall deal — by Joe Otterson: “Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson are keeping their Color Force production banner at FX Productions, with the producers signing a new four-year overall deal with the company.” [Variety]

TALK OF THE NATION — Newly appointed Women’s March board member Zahra Billoo has been voted off the national board days after her past controversial statements were revealed. In a Twitter thread on Thursday, Billoo claimed to have been the subject of “an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.” She also blasted the organization for rejecting her offer “to meet with stakeholders to address their concerns, and to work with my sisters on the new board to learn, heal, and build together.” [JewishInsider]

TALK OF THE TOWN — A New Jersey man was indicted on Thursday on charges of secretly working for Hezbollah. Federal authorities say that Alexei Saab, 42, was scouting out New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, the New York Stock Exchange, the Statue of Liberty and the Port Authority Bus Terminal as potential terror targets. 

Chabad of Poway shooting: Prosecutors began presenting evidence on Thursday in the trial of John Earnest, the suspect charged for the April 27 shooting rampage at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. The preliminary hearing is expected to last until Friday.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an inside look at the Philadelphia Hebrew Public Charter School, which opened this month as part of a network of charter schools that teach modern Hebrew. Seventy-two percent of the students are African American or black, according to the school. 

Repentance: Two city council members in Trenton, New Jersey — George Muschal and Robin Vaughn — have now apologized for defending antisemitic language used by Council President Kathy McBride against city attorney Peter Cohen over a legal settlement. McBride apologized at a council hearing on Tuesday after a colleague of hers — Jerell Blakely — moved to censure her but failed to garner support.

Cornish tin found in Israel is hard evidence of earliest trade links — by Mark Bridge: “Tin ingots found in Israel that are more than 3,000 years old are of Cornish origin and probably reached the Middle East by way of Greece, experts say. Archaeologists said that their chemical analysis provided the first hard evidence for trading of the metal, which is used in making bronze, between the west of Britain and the most famous Bronze Age civilisations — over networks covering thousands of miles.” [TheTimes]

Kamila Shamsie: Author stripped of book award over support for Israel boycott — by Ellie Harrison: “The German jury of the Nelly Sachs book prize has withdrawn its decision to honour Kamila Shamsie with the award, due to her ongoing support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Earlier this month, the panel had decided to crown the British-Pakistani writer as their latest winner, with praise for how her writing is ‘building bridges between societies.’ However, when they discovered Shamsie supported the BDS movement, they opted to strip her of the accolade.” [Independent]

DESSERT — Classic Portland deli Kenny & Zuke’s is filing for bankruptcy — by Brooke Jackson-Glidden: “Jewish deli brand Kenny & Zuke’s, which includes a sandwich shop, a bagel bakery, and a counter in the airport, is filing for bankruptcy. According to Willamette Week, owner Ken Gordon made the choice to tackle mounting debts… Gordon says the restaurant is in no danger of closing, and is, in fact, considering further expansion. Gordon says the restaurant may raise prices on menu items, but the owner does not plan to lay off any employees as a result of the decision.” [Eater]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Journalist and author Martin Tolchin turns 91… Florida real estate developer who turned 785 acres of mostly swamp land in South Florida into Aventura and Turnberry Isle Resort, Donald Soffer turns 87… Author, television personality and philanthropist, Carole Gene “Candy” Spelling turns 74… Long-time SVP at Booz-Allen and former CEO of Special Olympics International, Bruce Pasternack turns 72… Co-founder of Broadcom and owner of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, Henry Samueli turns 65… Rabbi of Congregation Beit Torat Chaim of Jakarta, Indonesia and the founder of Outreach Judaism, Rabbi Tovia Singer turns 59… Attorney and NBC legal analyst, Lisa Bloom turns 58… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Keren Barak turns 47…

Founder of PFAP Consulting, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, Ph.D. turns 37… Policy director at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, James Mazol turns 33… Director of development and partnerships at MassChallenge Israel, Emily Grunewald turns 32… Director of membership for the Sacramento-based California Solar & Storage Association, Carter Lavin turns 31… Corporate business development associate at ActionIQ, Alison Bogdonoff turns 30… Community marketing manager at Rent The Runway, Zoe Plotsky turns 27… Manhattan resident, Isabel Tsesarsky turns 25… Reporter and deputy team leader at Bloomberg LP, Drew Singer… Lauren Ackerman

SATURDAY: One of the highest-grossing Hollywood box office producers of all time, Jerry Bruckheimer turns 76… Legal scholar and professor at Harvard Law School, Cass Sunstein turns 65… Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz turns 64… One-half the renowned film-making team of the Coen Brothers, Ethan Jesse Coen turns 62… Conservative talk show host Mark R. Levin turns 62… Retired managing director of equity trading at Goldman Sachs, Andrew Berman turns 62… Russian oligarch living in Israel, he was an owner of Yukos Oil, Leonid Nevzlin turns 60…

Janet Bunting turns 53… Emmy Award-winning talk show host, actress and producer, Ricki Lake turns 51… Editor of KvellerLisa Keys turns 43… Chief Operating Officer of TAMID Group, Nathan Gilson turns 29… Analyst in the office of the executive director at the Obama Foundation, Mia Appelbaum turns 27… SVP at polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Anna Greenberg Ph.D… Lead sustainability consultant at Allstate, Scott Frankel

SUNDAY: Former Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, David Stern turns 77… Brooklyn-resident, Jay Kanter turns 74… Former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (1992-2009), now a consultant at the LA-based Diane and Guilford Glazer Philanthropies, John Fishel turns 71… Nobel Prize laureate, astrophysicist and professor of physics at UC-Berkeley, Saul Perlmutter turns 60… Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog turns 59… Director of development at the Los Angeles Conservancy, Elizabeth “Liz” Leshin turns 59…

CEO of Terravet Real Estate Solutions and founder of Community Veterinary Partners, Daniel Eisenstadt turns 50… Writer-at-large for The New York Times focused on the personalities in business, politics and media, she is the author of “Chasing Hillary,” Amy Chozick turns 41… Deputy editor of Tablet magazine and host of the “Unorthodox” podcast, Stephanie Taylor Butnick turns 32… Director of special projects, advertising development and scripted video production at The Daily WireJared Sichel turns 30… Assistant director of International Jewish Affairs at AJC Global, Alyssa Weiner turns 28…

The woman tasked with keeping New York’s Jews safe

Deborah Lauter, executive director of the newly created New York City Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, told Jewish Insider that the city’s Jewish community is living in fear, and she is working on a “multipronged approach” to tackle the problem. 

Lauter, who previously served as the national civil rights director at the Anti-Defamation League, was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month following a renewed push by New York City Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) and Donovan Richards (D-Queens) to take immediate action after a rash of antisemitic attacks across New York City. 

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive comments that the announcement has generated,” Lauter told JI. “I am very excited about this opportunity.”

While the mayor didn’t meet with Lauter before or in the days after he announced her appointment, Lauter told JI that she has since met with de Blasio and the two had “a very good discussion” about her responsibilities. “He was very thoughtful about it and he reiterated that this is a priority for him.” 

While the Office does not yet have a physical workspace, Lauter is expected to supervise a team of at least six employees and oversee a budget of $1.7 million for the 2020 fiscal year. In the meantime, she is meeting with various city agencies to establish an interagency committee that would coordinate efforts and introduce initiatives to combat hate crimes. 

Lauter is also hoping to work with organizations representing the Jewish, Muslim, immigrant and other minority communities to help promote their programs and do outreach. “My philosophy is that there’s not one way to fight hate and hate crimes. You have to do it through a multipronged approach. So having these kinds of community relations, education programs and working with law enforcement are going to be key,” she explained. 

NYPD officers keep watch as rabbis gather for a group photo at the Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters in November 2018.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

NYPD officers keep watch as rabbis gather for a group photo at the Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters in November 2018.

The most recent NYPD statistics show a 63 percent increase in antisemitic incidents — from 93 to 152 — compared to the same period last year. And while most of the reported acts are vandalism, members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn are worried about their safety amid a surge in violent antisemitic attacks.

“I’m very concerned about the level of fear that is in those communities,” said Lauter, “and I want them to feel reassured that the city is there for them to make sure they feel safe. I hope the message has been conveyed to them that by establishing this office, the mayor is making it clear that all New Yorkers need to feel safe within their communities and that he’s particularly concerned about the antisemitic numbers on the upswing.”

De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill met with leaders of the Jewish community on Wednesday for an annual pre-High Holidays briefing at One Police Plaza. At the meeting, the mayor and police chief stressed that the city is ready with additional measures for the protection of the community during this period. 

According to Lauter, “This wave of antisemitism and level of fear within the community is probably at its peak that I’ve ever seen in the United States.”

Asked how she would measure success in her new role, Lauter said that in the short term it will be hard to assess how effective the new measures are.

“If we do a really good job at educating all these different groups, the numbers of hate crimes, actually, might go up because the number of reported hate crimes will go up,” she said. “I would love to see the numbers overall come down. I’d like the communities that are feeling the most vulnerable right now to feel assured that we’re working on it. I would love there to be no hate. I mean, I’d love for this office not to have to exist, but we know that’s not reality. But we do believe there are things you can do to mitigate it.”

Lauter does not have a limit to the time she is committed to her new task. “I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years,” she said. “I’m honored to have been appointed to this job. I’m an optimist, and I’ve seen along the way that you can make a difference.”

New Women’s March board member voted out for antisemitic tweets

Newly appointed Women’s March board member Zahra Billoo has been voted off the national board after her past controversial statements were revealed. 

In a Twitter thread on Thursday, Billoo claimed to have been the subject of “an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.” 

She also blasted the Women’s March organization for rejecting her offer “to meet with stakeholders to address their concerns, and to work with my sisters on the new board to learn, heal, and build together.” 

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, whose organization was on the receiving end of dozens of Billoo’s tweets, welcomed the move. “Billoo’s hateful views have no place in any organization, much less one with an admirable and inclusive mission such as the Women’s March,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Tillerson says Netanyahu fed Trump misinformation

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed during a campus talk this week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “played” President Donald Trump.

In an interview at the Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday, the former top diplomat argued that Netanyahu — whom he described as an “extraordinarily skilled” politician — would share “misinformation” in meetings to get the Trump administration on board with his policy goals. “They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that ‘We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys,’” Tillerson charged.

Tillerson, who clashed with Trump on decisions including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and withdrawing from the Iran deal, explained that he “exposed” Netanyahu’s tricks to the president “so he understood: ‘You’ve been played.’” 

“It bothers me that an ally that’s that close and important to us would do that to us,” Tillerson added. 

Netanyahu calls on Gantz to join unity government, but pledges to keep right-wing bloc

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TOP TALKER — Adam Neumann’s ambitious desire for the White House or Israeli premiership —  by JI’s Sam Zieve Cohen: WeWork founder and Israeli-born billionaire Adam Neumann has reportedly expressed interest in an ambitious political career. 

WeWorld: A Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday noted that the billionaire told at least one person that he’d like to be the prime minister of Israel. The WSJ also reported that Neumann told another individual the only thing he’d run for would be “president of the world.” 

Yes, WeCan: New York Magazine referenced Neumann’s interest in a run for the U.S. presidency. Such a proposition would necessitate an amendment to the Constitution, which requires that the president be a natural-born citizen. [JewishInsider]

UNITY U-TURN — Less than two days after vowing to only form a right-wing government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday morning he would begin negotiating a unity coalition with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz. 

Concession: “Throughout the elections I called for a right-wing government, but unfortunately the results of the elections show that it’s impossible,” Netanyahu said in a video message. “The nation didn’t choose between the two blocs. Therefore, there is no choice but to establish a broad unity government… we cannot go to a third election. I’m against it.” 

Reconciliation talks: Netanyahu has reached out to Gantz to set up a meeting that could take place by the end of the day. Despite the prime minister’s overture, the two parties will still have a lot to overcome before making any deal. Throughout the campaign, both swore that they would not sit with each other in any government. But like many campaign promises, this one — unsurprisingly — appears easily broken. Netanyahu also called for Gantz to join his right-wing bloc — with whom he signed a deal vowing to negotiate entry to the government together — something pretty much every party involved will balk at.  

Rapprochement: At a memorial service for the late President Shimon Peres Thursday morning, Netanyahu and Gantz met and took part in a three-way handshake with President Reuven Rivlin. Netanyahu, hinting at a rotation agreement, said he and Gantz should work together like Peres and former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir did. [Pic

Gantz speaks: In a speech Thursday afternoon, Gantz said it was clear that his Blue and White Party won the election, and that he will be the one to lead negotiations, and to head a unity coalition. “The country chose unity,” he said. “We have to put the good of the country above any considerations.” Gantz said there “will be no shortcuts” in building the government, and “we won’t give in to any dictate.”

Who will lead? Though Blue and White is projected to be the largest party in the Knesset, Netanyahu is highly unlikely to give up serving as prime minister in a unity deal. Netanyahu could work to garner a rotation deal, where he and Gantz swap out after a set number of years. But Gantz and his co-chair Yair Lapid have their own rotation deal within Blue and White, one that Lapid has vowed he will never relent on. 

Legal troubles: Political observers have not forgotten that Netanyahu is still facing a pending indictment on multiple corruption charges. Israeli political and diplomatic report for Globes Tal Schneider told JI that Israel is in “a deep legal crisis.” She predicted that a unity government could only come to pass if Netanyahu “commits to resigning the moment an indictment is filed against him — which could be in two to three months. This is a problematic alternative.” Another option, she said, is a “rotation where Netanyahu takes office second, only after he is found innocent. This is also a complicated scenario.”

Deal or spin? Some Israeli political analysts believe Netanyahu isn’t serious in his call to form a unity coalition, and his sudden about-face is simply more political spin. Yediot Aharonot’s Moran Azoulay said that Netanyahu’s call for unity is a bluff, designed to make it appear that he’s attempting to avoid new elections: “Netanyahu doesn’t want unity, he doesn’t want a rotation, and he’s not afraid of a third election,” Azoulay wrote. “From his perspective, election outcomes are not about the will of the people, but a bug that needs to be fixed.”

Ultimate deal watch: Outgoing Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt is reportedly on his way to Israel today to meet separately with both Netanyahu and Gantz. The White House said on Wednesday that the plan “will be released when the timing is right.” 

Counting completed: The tallying of all the “double envelope” votes — including soldiers, diplomats, prisoners and others — wrapped up Thursday morning. The updated results gave an extra boost to Blue and White, bumping it up to 33 seats, with Likud remaining at 31. The extra seat came at the expense of Yisrael Beytenu, which dropped to 8. The Central Elections Committee has yet to officially certify the results as final, and small changes could still occur.       

DRIVING THE CONVO — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: President Donald Trump appeared to distance himself from Netanyahu on Wednesday after his failed attempt to win the second Israeli election in five months. Speaking to reporters after leaving Los Angeles, the president said that he has yet to speak to Netanyahu since the election. “Look, our relationship is with Israel,” Trump said. “We will see what happens.” [Video

Earlier on Wednesday, Netanyahu cancelled an upcoming trip to New York for a speech at the U.N. General Assembly and a meeting with Trump “due to political circumstances.”

Bad bromance: Calling off a planned meeting with Trump has to do with the “fading” bromance between the two leaders, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro opined. “If Netanyahu thought it would help him persuade his own party, other political players and the public that he is indispensable, there is little doubt he would go.”

Not in the same league: Trump’s reaction to the election “should have been a blinking yellow light to Bibi,” Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explained. Netanyahu, the former Mideast negotiator stated, “banked heavily on his relationship with the president. And yet now in the hour of his greatest need, Trump seems unable or unwilling to help him.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer predicted that “Trump will dump Netanyahu in the blink of an eye if Netanyahu does go down.” But, he added, “not quite yet.” However, professor Eugene Kontorovich told JI, “The chatter about Trump turning on Bibi is mostly wish projection by the chattering classes.” [JewishInsider]

Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, suggested that the administration could immediately release the plan “as a tool to unite both parties.” However, according to Shapiro, “there is no logic to presenting a U.S. peace plan during such a fraught Israeli government-formation period.” 

Susie Gelman, chair of the Israel Policy Forum, told JI that one “can assume [the peace plan] won’t see the light of day at least until after the next government is formed, and that could take some time.” Miller asserted that while the administration might still put out the plan, “it’s hard to see how it would do anything other than complicate matters.” 

According to Yochanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, the only way the plan could gain traction is if a unity government is formed. “If Netanyahu succeeds in forming a narrow right-wing government, he will be under immense pressure from his coalition partners to enact his campaign promises and extend Israeli sovereignty over large portions of the West Bank,” Plesner tells JI.

Mark Mellman, who served as a pollster on the Blue and White campaign in the April 9 elections, tells JI: “Negotiations to form the next government can be summed up using the same phrase people have employed for decades in describing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process: Everyone knows what it should look like in the end, but nobody knows how to get there.”

Hot take: Shmuel Rosner explains in The New York Times why Netanyahu’s hold on power may come to an end. “The Blue and White party is vulnerable to anti-Arab campaigns because, as most Israelis understand and the polls confirm, it has no way of forming a coalition without Arab support, unless it forms a unity government with Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud,” he writes. “But the elections proved that Likud has its own Achilles’ heel: It is vulnerable to a never-Haredi campaign. Likud made a choice long ago to glue itself, politically speaking, to the ultra-Orthodox parties. It is now paying the price.” 

What will Bibi’s exit look like? “Netanyahu will either be ousted quickly” by Likud rebels, Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi predicts, “or it will be a long, painful exit. And given his desperation and given the nature of Israeli politics, odds are that we could see a protracted fall.” He added, “Nobody should be gloating about the fall of Bibi. I hope he doesn’t go to jail. I hope there will be an arrangement that he can make where he resigns quietly. But I am worried about a desperate leader driving us down with him. That’s my great fear.” 

NEW IRAN SANCTIONS — Trump announced on Wednesday “very significant sanctions against Iran.” The move comes after the administration had determined that Iran was behind the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities last week. Visiting Jeddah to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack an “act of war” perpetrated by Iran. 

View from Jerusalem: Netanyahu said in a statement that “Iran’s aggression has increased of late, including in the Gulf, and this is precisely the time to increase pressure and sanctions. I am pleased that President Trump has done exactly this.”

Visa trouble: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif may cancel their visit to the U.N. General Assembly if the U.S. doesn’t issue visas “in the next few hours,” state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Wednesday. 

ON THE HILL — The tiff between Trump and his close ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), over the U.S. response to Iranian aggression went on for yet another day. Graham told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that the Israelis were “increasingly concerned” about the situation with Iran. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump maintained that his muted reaction to the incident is “a sign of strength.” 

In a gaggle with reporters on Capitol Hill, Graham said: “I appreciate the effort of the president to be measured when it came to the drone attack, but the point that I am trying to make is not what I think — it’s what the Iranians think. Clearly, they have not gotten the message that this attack on the oil refinery, by any reasonable definition, is an act of war.” [Video]

Trump’s response to Graham: “Ask Lindsey how did going into the Middle East, how did that work out? And how did going into Iraq work out? So, we have a disagreement on that. And we have plenty of time to do some dastardly things.”

POMPEO TAKES CONTROL — Trump announced on Wednesday the appointment of Robert O’Brien as his new national security advisor, replacing John Bolton. O’Brien currently serves as special envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department. O’Brien, who had the backing of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said it was a privilege to be named to the post, adding: “We’ve got a number of challenges.” Foreign Policy posited that the appointment “appears to solidify Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s role as the most influential foreign-policy figure within the administration.”

HEARD IN NYC — Bolton reportedly unloaded on Trump, harshly criticizing the president’s foreign policy on Wednesday at a private lunch hosted by the Gatestone Institute at the Le Bernardin restaurant in Manhattan. According to Politico, Bolton said that Trump’s failure to respond to the Iranian attack on a U.S. drone earlier this summer “set the stage for the Islamic Republic’s aggression in recent months.” 

Bolton also predicted that Israel would “sooner or later” see a new government, even though he said he personally liked Netanyahu. Attendees included professor Alan Dershowitz and his wife Carolyn, former attorney general Michael Mukasey, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, and lawyer Floyd Abrams.

HEARD YESTERDAY — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) refused to accept the State Department’s assessment that Iran was responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities. In an interview with The Hill, the Democratic presidential candidate said Pompeo’s declaration was “yet the latest move by this administration to push our country into war with Iran.”

She also attacked Trump for what she labeled as the president’s willingness to use the United States military as mercenaries for Saudi Arabia. “Trump is ready to offer up our military to use as the Saudi kingdom sees fit,” said Gabbard, who previously tweeted that Trump was prostituting the American military to Saudi Arabia. [JewishInsider]

MAN OF THE HOUR — Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is at the center of potential Democratic efforts to impeach Trump — and drawing the ire of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to Politico, Pelosi said Democrats simply don’t have the votes on the floor to impeach Trump, and are going too far with the initiative. Nadler, meanwhile, is one of the House’s chief proponents of impeachment.  


Jews and Conservatism — Can conservative ideas serve the Jewish people? Can Jewish ideas replenish and renew conservatism? Join Norman and John Podhoretz, Secretary Henry Kissinger, Judge Neomi Rao, Malcolm Hoenlein, Victor Davis Hanson, Ruth Wisse, Yoram Hazony, and other Jewish and conservative leaders at the 3rd Annual Conference on Jews and Conservatism. The Conference will take place on November 10 in New York. Space is limited, and tickets are going fast! [Register]


2020 BRIEFS — As Kamala Harris falters, campaign and allies mull next steps… Joe Biden believes in the good will of Republicans. Is that naïve?… Democratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals… 

A Trump friend, under scrutiny by prosecutors, appears at California fund-raisers — by Maggie Haberman: “When President Trump attended a fund-raiser at a private home in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night, there was a familiar face in the crowd: Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the billionaire investor and an old friend of the president’s who has come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors… Mr. Barrack spoke during the round-table portion of the event, and the president acknowledged him pleasantly… Mr. Barrack also attended a fund-raising breakfast for Mr. Trump on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. And he has given $360,600, the maximum amount allowable, to the Trump Victory Committee… People close to both Mr. Trump and Mr. Barrack said that talk of a permanent strain in their decades-long relationship has been overstated. The two men still speak… Mr. Barrack visited the White House this May and met with Jared Kushner.” [NYTimes]

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Endeavor IPO poised to hand Hollywood Executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell $1.5 billion [Bloomberg• Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman proposes eliminating taxes on all teachers [Recode• Purdue Pharma seeks to halt opioid suits against company, Sacklers [Reuters] • As he exits Apple’s board, Bob Iger remembers Steve Jobs [VanityFair• Israeli company, NSLComm, plans second satellite launch for the internet of things [Forbes]

SPOTLIGHT — A billionaire Trump supporter and his environmentalist daughter are reshaping an American city — by Sophie Alexander and Noah Buhayar: “They’re the Seligs — Martin and Jordan — and on a rainy August morning, the two are sitting in purple velvet chairs around a black marble conference table in their downtown Seattle office, surrounded by glossy posters of the half-dozen developments they’re planning or already building. One has Jordan’s fingerprints all over it. It’s a giant glass box steps from Inc. headquarters that will be the greenest office building of its size in the world. The Seligs are breaking ground on the project this month.” 

“The Seligs are banking on more than green cred to fill their new buildings. They also have a 36-story tower that’ll house WeWork and its co-living offshoot WeLive; a modern remake of a historic Federal Reserve building; an office-and-retail complex close to where the city’s National Hockey League expansion team will play; and a pair of developments on the city’s waterfront, which is getting a $724 million makeover. The older Selig is quick to wave off any suggestion that there’s much of a strategy behind the building binge other than his confidence in Seattle’s economy. But, if it works out, it stands to bolster his $1.1 billion fortune and further alter the skyline he’s spent the last six decades helping create.” [Bloomberg]

PROFILE — For Peter Brook, the experimental showman, ‘nothing is ever finished’ — by Ben Brantley: “Peter Brook keeps saying why… ‘Why?’ is the title of the new play written and directed by Mr. Brook and his longtime collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne, which begins performances Sept. 21 at Theater for a New Audience in Brooklyn… The London-born son of Russian-Jewish scientists from Latvia (his father patented a popular medicine called Brooklax), the young Peter dreamed of becoming foreign correspondent, ‘to have the joy of being sent all over the world, month after month, to dangerous struggle spots anywhere — just to say this world is not the little world of middle-class London.’” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — Amar’e Stoudemire is now an undergrad, goes to his campus Hillel and wants to boost black-Jewish relations — by Josefin Dolsten: “Despite his serious thoughts about an NBA comeback, Amar’e Stoudemire is taking a little break from basketball to go to school. The former six-time NBA All-Star… started this fall as a freshman at Florida International University in Miami. Though the semester just started, Stoudemire… has already become a big name at the campus Hillel. On Wednesday, he launched an initiative to strengthen ties between Jewish and African-American students at FIU.” [JTA]

ACROSS THE POND — Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is facing fresh internal criticism after a planned meeting to discuss long-standing allegations of antisemitism was scheduled to be held on Saturday. “We have learnt tonight from press reports that the Party wishes to make sweeping changes to the disciplinary rules on antisemitism, without consulting us, its only Jewish affiliate, or any communal organization,” the Jewish Labour Movement said in a statement. “To add insult to injury, they will debate these changes at conference on the Jewish Sabbath, when religiously observant Jewish Labor delegates will be silenced, unable to participate in the debate.”

Pushing back: One of Corbyn’s most trusted advisors, Andrew Murray, described the response to Labour’s antisemitism crisis as “hysteria.” In a new book, The Fall and Rise of The British Left, Murray also claims the furor “reflects the establishment’s alarm” at the party’s lurch to the left. He does however concede that there have been “clear instances” of antisemitic views in the Labour Party that the leadership has been “too slow in tackling them.”

Sign of the times: The European Jewish Association is demanding the removal of a “racist and humiliating” depiction of Jews as having large hooked noses from an online dictionary of Flemish sign language.

TALK OF THE TOWN — Antisemites are using a popular chat app to compile a list of Jewish people — by Ali Breland: “Antisemitic trolls are creating an online list of Jewish people who are critical of white nationalism. Since its creation almost a month ago, it has become the fastest-growing alt-right group on the popular Telegram chat service… The channel is a part of a broader trend of neo-nazis, white nationalists, and other alt-right groups flocking to Telegram as they get banned from other platforms.” [MotherJones]

David Rubenstein spent $10 million on the Washington Monument, which reopens Thursday. He can climb any ladder inside he wants — by Michael S. Rosenwald: “Rubenstein, who made his fortune in private equity at the Carlyle Group, initially donated $7.5 million to repair structural damage to the monument. After it reopened in 2014, the aging elevator repeatedly broke down, often stranding visitors. Following a second closure in 2016, Rubenstein kicked in an additional $3 million to modernize the elevator.” [WashPost

Holiday prep: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill announced on Wednesday boosted security measures in Jewish communities ahead of the High Holy Days. O’Neill said some precinct personnel will be redeployed over the holiday period and other specialized units will be on patrol: “Some you’ll see, some you won’t.” At the NYPD press conference, de Blasio said, “It’s my obligation as mayor to make sure the Jewish population is protected not just at the High Holy Days but every day, and the sacred responsibility of the NYPD as well.” 

Belated apology: The Trenton, New Jersey city council president apologized Tuesday for using the antisemitic trope “Jew down” while discussing actions taken by the city’s Jewish attorney. Trenton City Council President Kathy McBride said she “cannot be insensitive to any ethnic backgrounds, so I am apologizing to the community at large.”

DESSERT — Chicago’s first vegan Jewish deli Is coming to uptown with bagels and plant-based lox — by Naomi Waxman: “Many Chicagoans are bemoaning the recent downturn in the number of Jewish delis in the city, but a new one is coming to Uptown in December. Traditionalists be warned, the deli comes with a twist: Sam & Gertie’s from local restaurateurs Andy Kalish and his wife Gina will be entirely vegan… Named for Andy Kalish’s maternal grandparents Sam and Gertie Stuart, the deli will serve as a tribute to his childhood experiences in Jewish delis in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.” [EaterChicago]

BIRTHDAYS: Industrial entrepreneur and philanthropist, Morton Mandel turns 98… Actor, writer and Dean Emeritus of the Drama School at Pace University, James Lipton turns 93… Professor of Jewish history and literature at Yeshiva University, Haym Soloveitchik turns 82… Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2016, Jeffrey Colman Salloway turns 78… Professor at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law and director of the Innocence Project, a member of O.J. Simpson’s defense team, Barry Scheck turns 70… Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute following a 28-year Pentagon career, Harold Rhode turns 70… Writing instructor at Montana State University Billings, former Washington correspondent for the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Bruce Alpert turns 69…

Stockton, California-based physician, Ronald Kass M.D. turns 67… Boston-based attorney focused upon Section 529 college savings plans, Mark A. Chapleau turns 59… Bow tie-clad field reporter for Fox Major League Baseball since 2005, Ken Rosenthal turns 57… Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington since 2001, Ronald Halber turns 51… Author of five popular business books, Mike Michalowicz turns 49… Founder and former CEO of MassChallenge, John Harthorne turns 46… VP at Edelman Public Relations, Neal Urwitz turns 36… Marine Corps veteran and former legislative director for Sen. Tom Cotton, who is celebrating his birthday by launching United Rescue in Englewood, New Jersey, Joe Kristol

Trump emphasizes: “Our relationship is with Israel”

President Donald Trump offered on Wednesday a reserved response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed attempt to garner enough support to decisively declare victory in Israel’s second election in five months.

Speaking to reporters after leaving Los Angeles, the president said that he has yet to speak to Netanyahu since the election. “Look, our relationship is with Israel,” Trump said. “We will see what happens.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Netanyahu cancelled an upcoming trip to New York for the U.N. General Assembly “due to political circumstances.”

Netanyahu announced at a Likud faction meeting the formation of a united bloc of 55 seats — still short of the necessary 61 — that he said will work hand-in-hand to form a new government. 

“There is a practical reason for Netanyahu to stay in Israel,” Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst and commentator, explained. Aside from keeping “a close eye” on his natural coalition partners from the right, “It is money time in terms of trying to, somehow, make a political miracle and form a coalition,” Meir added. 

Calling off a planned meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly also has to do with the “fading” bromance between the two leaders, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro opined. “If Netanyahu thought it would help him persuade his own party, other political players and the public that he is indispensable, there is little doubt he would go.”

On Monday, Trump predicted the election’s outcome will “be interesting,” without declaring his support for any of the parties — an about-face from March, when the president, in what many at the time saw as a pre-election “gift” to Netanyahu, announced U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the  Golan Heights.

In a pre-election interview with Jewish Insider, Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense for President George W. Bush, noted that Trump didn’t seem to have gone out of his way to help Netanyahu in this election because he is “hedging his bets. If Netanyahu wins, then he will support him. If he loses, then Bibi is a loser and Trump will dump him as quickly as he dumps anybody else.”

Now that the Likud leader appears to have failed for the second time in a year to win a majority, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer predicted that “Trump will dump Netanyahu in the blink of an eye if Netanyahu does go down.” But, he added, “not quite yet.”

Netanyahu turned his warm relationship with Trump into a centerpiece of his re-election bid. The expected Middle East peace plan and Netanyahu’s vow to annex West Bank settlements were also used as last-minute pitches to voters on the right.  

Trump’s reaction to the election “should have been a blinking yellow light to Bibi,” Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explained. Netanyahu, the former Mideast negotiator stated, “banked heavily on his relationship with the president. And yet now in the hour of his greatest need, Trump seems unable or unwilling to help him.”

Professor Eugene Kontorovich told JI, “The chatter about Trump turning on Bibi is mostly wish projection by the chattering classes. The U.S. interest in brokering peace is entirely independent of any particular government.”

On Tuesday night, outgoing White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said that the administration will make a decision on when to release its peace plan once the official election results are in. 

The question remains whether the administration will push to release the plan or once again delay its presentation due to Netanyahu’s sensitive political situation. 

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters on Wednesday that the plan “will be released when the timing is right.”

Meir suggested that “the peace plan might come in handy as a tool to unite both parties.” 

However, according to Shapiro, “there is no logic to presenting a U.S. peace plan during such a fraught Israeli government-formation period.” Netanyahu, the former ambassador explained, cannot respond positively on anything that would require Israeli concessions or else he would lose his support from Yamina, led by Ayelet Shaked. At the same time, “Gantz and Lieberman have no incentive to allow such a plan to rescue Netanyahu,” Shapiro said. “If the plan is favorable to Israel, Gantz will argue that he can get the same terms from Trump later, and that he might seek different ones.”

Susie Gelman, chair of the Israel Policy Forum, told JI that one “can assume [the peace plan] won’t see the light of day at least until after the next government is formed, and that could take some time.” 

Nonetheless, she cautioned that Israeli annexation plans remain on the table. While annexing the Jordan Valley — which Netanyahu promised to do on the first day of the next government — seems highly unlikely, “annexation is still a priority for the Israeli far right and for many in the Likud, with or without Bibi as prime minister. If the Trump peace plan incorporates sovereignty over settlements, annexation will remain a clear and present danger,” Gelman explained.

Will there be a third Israeli election? Netanyahu, Gantz appear deadlocked following redo vote

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DEADLOCKED, AGAIN — While results in the election for Israel’s 22nd Knesset are not yet final, one thing is already clear: There is no easy path for either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or challenger Benny Gantz to build a 61-seat governing coalition. Will Israel end up with a third national election? That remains to be seen.

Results trickle in: With 91% of the votes counted by Wednesday afternoon in Israel, Blue and White appeared to have a slight edge over Likud. These results are not final, and could shift once all the votes are in and the double envelope ballots — from diplomats, soldiers, prisoners and others — are counted. Potential legal challenges to the results are also possible. The current projections are:

Blue and White: 32
Likud: 31
Joint List: 13
Yisrael Beytenu: 9
Shas: 9
United Torah Judaism: 8
Yamina: 7
Labor-Gesher: 6
Democratic Union: 5

The far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, led by Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir, was predicted to fall short of the electoral threshold. 

Buzz on Balfour  — by JI’s Amy Spiro and Jacob Kornbluh: There’s no doubt this is a political setback for Netanyahu’s quest to serve a fifth term as Israel’s prime minister. Neither the right-wing bloc nor the center-left bloc are poised to have the 61 recommendations required to form the next government, and even the most veteran Israeli political analysts aren’t sure what the path forward will be.  

Kingmaker or matchmaker: As expected, Avigdor Lieberman saw a boost in yesterday’s vote, with a projected 9 seats compared to the 5 his party received in April. In his speech last night, Lieberman renewed his vow to join a unity coalition. “We have only one option, a nationalist, liberal, wide coalition.” The former defense minister suggested President Reuven Rivlin host an informal meeting between himself, Netanyahu and Gantz on Friday afternoon, before the official results are even in. “Maybe we’ll even do Kabbalat Shabbat together, talk about this week’s Torah portion,” Lieberman said. “It’s an interesting portion this week.” 

On the table: Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, Lieberman said his conditions for joining the government include legislation drafting haredim into the army, requiring a core education in all schools, establishing civil marriage and overturning the law banning businesses from operating on Shabbat. 

Bibi’s calculation: Netanyahu knows he doesn’t have enough recommendations to form the next government, but he is not remotely close to giving up. Speaking to his supporters in the early morning hours on Wednesday, Netanyahu predicted that he would end up with more support than Gantz from Zionist parties. The country, he said, needs “a strong government, a stable government, a Zionist government, a government committed to Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people” to prevent “the formation of a dangerous anti-Zionist government” supported by the Joint Arab List.

No victory: Unlike April, where both Gantz and Netanyahu gave joyous victory speeches, the party leaders were more reserved as the results began trickling in overnight. Both said they were waiting for final results before making any decisions. In his speech, Gantz did not explicitly rule out negotiating with Netanyahu, unlike during the campaign  

Key players: President Reuven Rivlin has a big decision to make. Though largely a figurehead, the president is tasked with selecting one person to work on building a governing coalition. With no candidate expected to receive more than 60 recommendations, Rivlin could play more than the usual ceremonial role. Yesterday, the president reiterated his pledge to avoid a third round of elections: “I will do everything possible according to the law and to the powers granted me in my role that Israel has an elected government as soon as possible and that we avoid another election campaign.”

Showing up: Negating almost every electoral prediction, Israelis showed up to the polls in higher numbers than they did in April. Turnout in yesterday’s vote is projected at 69.4% nationwide, compared to 67.9% five months ago. 

Can Bibi survive? Pollsters, partisans and pundits have proclaimed the end of the Netanyahu reign for years, and always erred — so far. But Netanyahu took a drubbing in yesterday’s vote, and he also has a looming pre-indictment hearing on multiple corruption charges slated for next month. Even the rumor of Likud ousting him internally caused Netanyahu to force 40 party MKs to sign a loyalty pledge over the summer.

Signs of splinter? It’s way too early for any Likud lawmakers to show signs of abandoning Netanyahu. Likud MK Yoav Kisch pledged last night that “either Netanyahu will be the prime minister or we’ll have a third election.” But, as The Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov pointed out: The Likud “is not a party of lemmings, either. Its top MKs may not remain loyal to Netanyahu for long.”

Next opposition leader? If Netanyahu and Gantz agree to form a unity government, Ayman Odeh — leader of the Joint List — will likely serve as Israel’s opposition leader, for the first time in history. Some analysts have speculated that Shas and UTJ could unite as bloc to prevent Odeh from holding the position. 

• NYTimes: In tight Israeli election, Netanyahu’s tenure appears in peril
• WaPoIsrael’s two main parties locked in dead heat as negotiations begin for new government
• Politico: Israel’s Netanyahu appears to suffer election setback
• Maybe, just maybe, the age of Netanyahu has come to an end, writes Chemi Shalev
• Financial Times: Israel’s political survivor is on the ropes
• The Guardian: Lengthy coalition talks loom as early results point to deadlock

Travel plans: Netanyahu is expected to travel to New York next week to meet with President Donald Trump and deliver a speech at the U.N. General Assembly. A warm embrace of Trump and the focus on Iran will give the embattled premier a moment of salvation. 

Trump’s peace plan: During his speech at Likud HQ in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Netanyahu referenced Trump’s peace plan, which he said will be expected soon. He suggested that only a Likud-led government “can ensure that the way the negotiations with the president will be conducted will define Israel’s future for generations to come.” 

Annexation watch: Netanyahu’s pre-election announcement about applying Israeli civil law to settlements in the West Bank will likely be dropped if a unity government is formed. 

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Outgoing White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said during a panel discussion hosted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at the Jewish Center in Manhattan that the administration will make a decision on when to release its peace plan once the official Israel election results are in. [Pic]

Greenblatt reiterated the White House’s response to Netanyahu’s annexation declaration last week that U.S. policy has not changed “for the time being.” He added, “I don’t think that an announcement like that precludes the possibility of a comprehensive peace agreement.”

Greenblatt on Iran talks: “I am confident that [the ayatollah’s statements about killing Jews and annihilating Israel] will be [discussed] in a meeting between the president and [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani, and maybe that is the better approach… I have trust that President Trump, who was the only one who was actually going to rip up the agreement as quickly as he did — even in a meeting like that — would not go the road” that President Barack Obama did in 2015. “I don’t think he’s going to try and convince people that he can do a deal just for political purposes.” 

IRAN WATCH — Trump is weighing a range of options for retaliatory action against Iran, including striking Iranian oil facilities, U.S. officials told NBC News. During a national security meeting on Monday, Trump — according to the report — asked military brass for options that wouldn’t draw the U.S. into a physical conflict with Iran.

On the Hill: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged the president to take “decisive action” against Iran, while Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it was too early to make a decision. 

Pushback:Trump lashed out at Graham on Tuesday evening for suggesting that the muted response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone was a sign of weakness: “No Lindsey, it was a sign of strength that some people just don’t understand!” 

Meeting called off — for now: Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he is not looking to meet Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly. But, like in the past, he did not rule it out. 

Word from Tehran: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that “there will be no negotiations at any level with the United States.” Khamenei blamed the Trump administration for requiring too many pre-conditions. 

STAY TUNED — Trump on Tuesday named five candidates who have made the shortlist for national security advisor. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump listed attorney Robert O’Brien, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ricky Waddell, nuclear security expert Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, former National Security Council chief of staff Fred Fleitz, and retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as possible replacements for John Bolton. 

ON THE HILL — Former U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Stu Eizenstat, Holocaust survivors’ rights advocate Sam Dubbin, and David Mermelstein, a Holocaust survivor and co-founder of Miami-Dade Holocaust Survivors, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Holocaust-era insurance claims. [CSPAN]

Mermelstein is pushing for a law that would give Holocaust survivors the right to use the U.S. court system to compel private European insurance companies to look through their own records and pay money owed to survivors and their families, which could total up to $25 billion when factoring in compound interest over time.


UPCOMING — At November’s 3rd annual conference on Jews and Conservatism, the Jewish Leadership Conference (JLC) is convening a great conversation about Jewish ideas and public affairs. If you are a young professional working in the Jewish world, you could qualify to attend for free as a Gemunder Fellow. Or else, visit our website to join Ruth Wisse, R’ Meir Soloveichik, Norman Podhoretz, Henry Kissinger, Victor Davis Hanson, and hundreds of attendees.


UP NORTH — Sameer Zuberi, a candidate with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, is pushing back against antisemitism accusations over past social media posts about Israel. In a lengthy Facebook post, Zuberi denied the claims as “blatantly false,” saying the rival Conservative Party is trying to distract from “their ties to far-right extremism and white supremacy.”

2020 BRIEFS — Bernie Sanders campaign wracked by dissension… Elizabeth Warren took selfies for 4 hours after her New York rally. It’s part of her plan… Tulsi Gabbard drives coverage in push to qualify for October debate… Joe Biden’s economic tap dance… Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign has burned down, fallen over and sunk into a swamp… 

Jewish vote: A new Siena College poll of voters in New York State showed that the Jewish community is most supportive of Biden’s bid for the Democratic nomination. According to the poll✎ EditSign of 798 registered voters in the state — 12% of whom were Jewish — 29% said Biden was their preferred candidate. That was followed by Warren with 16%, Sanders and Buttigieg tied at 4%, and Booker and Klobuchar tied at 2%. Asked who was most likely to win the 2020 election, 45% of Jewish voters said Biden, and 16% said Warren. 

WHAT WE’RE READING — Warren and Trump speeches attack corruption, but two different kinds — by Alex Burns: “From the right, there is the strain Mr. Trump brought to maturity in 2016, combining the longstanding grievances of the white working class with a newer, darker angst about immigration and cultural change. And on the left, there is a vastly different populist wave still gaining strength, defined in economic terms by Ms. Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The messages underlined the possibility that the 2020 election could be the first in a generation to be fought without an ally of either party’s centrist establishment on the ballot.” [NYTimes]

Inside the divorce rattling Silicon Valley and Democratic politics — by Gabriel Debenedetti: 
“This dynamic was well illustrated by WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, who’d never demonstrated much interest in domestic politics before. ([Reid] Hoffman, at least, has been a big Democratic supporter for years.) The Israeli-born businessman, who in the past few weeks has reportedly decided to cut the valuation of his company precipitously in advance of an IPO, recently talked with a political pro about the feasibility of changing the laws so people not born in the U.S. could run for president. He was told that this would be quite an undertaking and that it was unrealistic—it would require a change to the Constitution. Neumann was then asked if he might consider running for governor or mayor in New York. According to someone familiar with the conversation, he replied, “Once you’ve reached my level of success, only president will do.” (A person close to Neumann says he was kidding about the requirements for running for office and denied he said that line.)” [NYMag]

** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork’s Adam Neumann admits to being ‘humbled’ [FinancialTimes• Sarah Pontius, WeWork’s global head of real estate partnerships, is among a string of recent departures [RealDeal• Institutional investors swarm Silverstein’s new TASE bonds [RealDeal• Steve Ballmer pledges $75M for affordable housing in Inglewood amid Clippers stadium controversy [RealDeal]

MORE BRIEFS: Tom Barrack is done with traditional real estate. He’s going digital [WSJ] • Facebook details rules for its new ‘Supreme Court’ that will handle controversial posts [NBCNews] • Israeli insurance company sues Facebook for using the name Libra [Calcalist• Shekel weaker after inconclusive election [Globes]

SPOTLIGHT — How Toby Moskovits is building her Brooklyn office empire — by Rebecca Baird-Remba: “Toby Moskovits has always been an unusual force to be reckoned with in the real estate world. The 42-year-old Orthodox Jewish single mother of three started out in the venture capital business in Tel Aviv before moving back to New York City to do tech investing for Cammeby’s Capital Group, the investment arm of Ruby Schron’s real estate company. She started buying properties during the Great Recession in 2008 and didn’t look back. In the 11 years since, she’s helped build the Williamsburg Hotel (which last year was rumored to be on the selling block, although Moskovits claimed it was never officially on the market) and 25 Kent Avenue, two buildings that have helped define the North Williamsburg industrial zone.” [CommercialObserver]

HOLLYWOOD — TV legend’s Sony deal renewal takes him to age 100 — by Michael Schneider: “Ask Norman Lear what the past couple of months have been like for him, and he responds with a joke. ‘It’s been 60 days of waking up,’ he says… But what the legendary producer really relishes is going to work, and at age 97, Lear is enjoying yet another career renaissance. He won an Emmy on Sept. 14 (making him the oldest winner ever) for ‘Live in Front of a Studio Audience,’ which ABC recently renewed for two more specials. His ‘One Day at a Time’ remake, which had been canceled by Netflix, scored a fourth season at new home Pop TV and is back in production. And with partner Brent Miller, he’s got a number of projects in the pipeline — both original ideas and fresh takes on his classic library.” [Variety]

Jewish princess: Little Jewish girls around the globe will finally have a Jewish Disney princess of their very own. The Disney Channel announced Tuesday that the third season of its animated show “Elena of Avalor” will feature “a visiting princess from a Latino Jewish kingdom.” The princess, to be voiced by Jewish actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, will visit the kingdom in a Hanukkah-themed episode slated to air in December. “I am so excited to voice Disney’s first Jewish princess,” Sigler tweeted.

TALK OF THE NATION — Family separation and refugee cap reinvigorate Jews’ activist roots: ‘We’ve always been immigrants’ — by Sarah Parvini: “Jewish Americans’ support for immigrant rights stems from their own experiences in the late 1800s, when European Jews began migrating en masse to the United States, fleeing the Russian czars’ pogroms and other antisemitic persecution in their home countries. Their increasingly vocal stance in the Trump era flows from that long tradition, said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University… Now, amid continuing uproar over policies such as family separation, reduced refugee admissions and the travel ban that Trump critics said targeted Muslims, progressive Jews are returning to, and reinvigorating, their community’s activist roots.” [LATimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Jewish summer camp with campfires, crafts and no lights out — by Rachel Levin: “Trybal Gatherings was founded by Carine Warsawski, 34, a buoyant, Boston-bred M.B.A., with the goal of fostering lasting community among Jews in their 20s and 30s, and, ahem, a few in their 40s… Whereas traditions like Birthright Israel offer free trips to the homeland, Ms. Warsawski’s aim is to offer an immersive, low-commitment experience closer to home — one rooted not in Zionism or religious doctrine, but in the shared nostalgia of a Jewish-American rite of passage, complete with archery and horseback riding, and a roster that reads like it’s from the Old Testament.” [NYTimes]

Hasidic Jewish man attacked, robbed by group of men in Brooklyn: police — by Mark Sundstrom: “Police said they’re investigating after a Hasidic Jewish man was assaulted and robbed while walking home in Brooklyn Tuesday night. The 24-year-old man was walking on Warsoff Place, near Flushing Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, around 9:30 p.m. when he was confronted by a group of four men, authorities said. Police said one of the men told the victim, ‘Give us everything,’ before a man in the group punched him in the head.” [PIX11]

Conor Climo, a former security guard, has been charged with possessing “firearms, specifically destructive devices” to attack a Las Vegas synagogue last month. Paul Riddle, Climo’s court-appointed attorney, said on Tuesday that the suspect plans to plead not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Nevada. “The defendant had gathered component parts that can readily be assembled into a destructive device,” Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe wrote, and “had very specific plans about attacking one specific synagogue near his house… wanting to light an incendiary device and having others join him to shoot people as they came out of the synagogue.”

A teenage driver was arrested over the weekend after police said he nearly struck two Jewish people in Jackson Township, New Jersey while yelling antisemitic slurs. The driver was charged with harassment and bias intimidation.

TRANSITION — Rabbi Asher Lopatin, founding director of the Detroit Center for Civil Discourse, was tapped as executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC in Detroit. 

DESSERT — For Libyan Jews, this spicy fish stew is the taste of Rosh Hashana — by Joan Nathan: “For [Shalom] Saar and [Hamos] Guetta, whose families left Libya, dishes like aharaimi, shakshuka and mafrum, a potato-encased flat meatball with tomato sauce, are the few remainders from their past that they still eat today… As Jewish food of the diaspora gains popularity in Israel and elsewhere — and Libyan restaurants crop up in Tel Aviv featuring these dishes — the next generation is beginning to reinterpret old recipes.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Marina Del Rey, California resident, Kathy Levinson Wolf turns 71… Former co-CEO of SAP (2008-2010) and CEO of Hewlett-Packard (2010-2011), Léo Apotheker turns 66… Harvard professor of psychology, Steven Pinker turns 65… Executive director of the Los Angeles Westside Jewish Community Center, Brian Greene turns 63… An early Israeli tech entrepreneur, founded Aladdin Knowledge Systems in 1985, Yanki Margalit turns 57…

Co-host of the morning show on Bloomberg Radio, Lisa Abramowicz turns 40… Former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Bakari Sellers turns 35… Professional poker player Nick Schulman turns 35… New Jersey native, Aaron Kaplowitz turns 35… Assistant executive director and managing director of global communications at AJC, Avi Mayer turns 35… Host of the Washington Nationals’ pregame and postgame shows on MASN, Dan Kolko turns 34… Senior associate in the DC office of Finsbury, Zak Sawyer turns 27…

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Former Obama White House speechwriter David Litt… Elected official on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education, Nick Melvoin… Founder of the Israel Summit at Harvard, Max August

Nadler: Strong sanctions on Iran should be ‘strictly maintained’

 Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) discussed the future of the Iran nuclear deal and the in a conversation with Jewish Insider on Sunday.

According to Nadler, who supported the 2015 nuclear deal, tough economic sanctions have to be “strictly maintained,” not lifted now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the JCPOA. “There’s nothing to stop Iran from enriching uranium and going to a bomb except the strong sanctions,” he explained. “And either you’re going to have an agreement which is enforceable — it says they won’t do it — or you are going to have to enforce very strong sanctions. You can’t go away from both.”

Nadler on re-entering the deal: “I would suggest going back to the deal with strict sanctions. Don’t relax the sanctions. Stop them from enriching uranium. The basic problem with the deal is not the deal itself. The basic criticism, even by the critics of the deal, was that it doesn’t go long enough. That’s true, but it gives you the opportunity to negotiate, to prolong that. Meanwhile, if you don’t do that and you don’t have the strong sanctions, then what have you got?” 

Nadler on John Bolton’s departure: “Bolton’s instinct is always fight — all the time, which is not a good thing. Second of all, he and the president obviously were completely at odds. I mean the president has certain instincts, you know, standing up to other countries. But the bottom line, he doesn’t want to use force… and Bolton does. That’s not a good instinct.”

Controversy continues after Women’s March changes | Israelis back to vote | Remembering Alisa Swidler

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TOP TALKER — The Women’s March has cut ties with three inaugural board members — Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour — following instances of antisemitism, infighting and financial mismanagement, The Washington Post reported on Monday. Though the three co-chairs stepped down on July 15, the organization kept their titles as co-chairs and photos on its website until this week’s announcement of the shakeup. 

Next up: Rabbi Tamara Cohen of Moving Traditions and Ginna Green of Bend the Arc are among the 17 new board members announced on Monday.

Controversy continues: Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the San Francisco chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), who was also appointed to the board, came under fire after dozens of her tweets surfaced attacking “Apartheid Israel,” the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Community Relations Council. In a 2015 tweet, Billoo wrote: “I’m more afraid of racist Zionists who support Apartheid Israel than of the mentally ill young people the #FBI recruits to join ISIS.” [JewishInsider]

Reaction: Avi Mayer, AJC’s managing director of global communications, tells JI that “the Women’s March leadership’s obsession with Jews is as strange as it is disturbing. Replacing one set of bigots with a slate that includes other ones will do little to rehabilitate the March’s image.”

Conservative writer Bethany Mandel tells JI: “By all appearances they have replaced one problematic set of women with another. It comes to a certain point where they have to start wondering if they are able to find friends who aren’t antisemitic and what that says about their ideology. It is encouraging that the Women’s March finally took a strong stand about a clear antisemite.” 

The 2020 angle: “It would be nice if the Bernie Sanders campaign would now do the same,” Mandel added, referencing Sarsour, who last week was named a surrogate for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 

The New York Times’s Bari Weiss tells JI: “When I wrote this column in August 2017 [titled ‘When Progressives Embrace Hate’], Women’s March co-president Bob Bland called the article ‘a distraction’ and smeared me as an ‘apologist for the status quo, racist ideology and the white nationalist patriarchy.’ I look forward to her apology. Meantime, from the little bit I’ve read so far about some of the new organizers, I fear I’ll have to write a reprise column.” 

Ann Lewis, a board member of Zioness who participated in the Women’s March before distancing from it earlier this year, told JI… “We don’t need to reinvent new organizations that are trying to find new titles for would-be ‘leaders’ who have worn out their welcome elsewhere.”

DRIVING THE DAY — U.S. intelligence officials have reportedly shared new information with Saudi Arabia that shows Iran was the staging ground “for a debilitating attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel is “well-prepared” for the possibility it might be drawn into a U.S.-Iranian military confrontation.

Word from Trump: Speaking to reporters from the Oval Office on Monday, President Donald Trump said that while it “certainly would look” like Iran was behind the attack, the U.S. doesn’t want war with Iran. “We’d certainly like to avoid it,” he said.

Meeting with conditions: The president also reiterated that he wouldn’t consider sanctions relief in order to pave the way for a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly next week. “There were always conditions, because the conditions — if you look at it, the sanctions are not going to be taken off. So if the sanctions — that’s a condition,” he said. 

On the Hill: Senators from both sides of the aisle debated on Monday the risk of the U.S. striking Iran in response to an attack that was not against a U.S. target. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) expressed support for military action, while Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) cautioned against retaliation. “The U.S. should never go to war to protect Saudi oil,” Tim Kaine (D-VA) tweeted.

INTERVIEW — Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) discussed the future of the Iran nuclear deal in a conversation with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh. 

According to Nadler, who supported the 2015 nuclear deal, tough economic sanctions have to be “strictly maintained,” not lifted now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the JCPOA. “There’s nothing to stop Iran from enriching uranium and going to a bomb except the strong sanctions,” he explained. “And either you’re going to have an agreement which is enforceable — it says they won’t do it — or you are going to have to enforce very strong sanctions. You can’t go away from both.”

Nadler on re-entering the deal: “I would suggest going back to the deal with strict sanctions. Don’t relax the sanctions. Stop them from enriching uranium. The basic problem with the deal is not the deal itself. The basic criticism, even by the critics of the deal, was that it doesn’t go long enough. That’s true, but it gives you the opportunity to negotiate, to prolong that. Meanwhile, if you don’t do that and you don’t have the strong sanctions, then what have you got?” 

Nadler on John Bolton’s departure: “Bolton’s instinct is always fight — all the time, which is not a good thing. Second of all, he and the president obviously were completely at odds. I mean the president has certain instincts, you know, standing up to other countries. But the bottom line, he doesn’t want to use force… and Bolton does. That’s not a good instinct.”

Report: Bolton has reportedly “expressed interest” in writing a book on his time in the Trump administration, and has been in contact in recent days with agents about the matter. “He has a lot to dish,” one source told The Daily Beast. 

TRIP FALLOUT — New York State Senate Democrats have cancelled a planned delegation trip — led by Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins — to Israel in November. NY1’s Zack Fink reported on Monday that lawmakers “got cold feet after” Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) were banned from visiting the country. 

Noam Gilboord, COO at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which sponsored the trip, tells JI: “It’s been postponed and the [majority] leader is looking to schedule another trip. It’s simply a scheduling issue.” 

TODAY’S THE DAY — Israelis have already begun voting in today’s redo election, the country’s second national vote in just five months. What to expect in the coming days? JI’s Amy Spiro breaks it down: 

Casting and counting ballots: Polling stations close at 10 p.m. local time tonight, and will be immediately followed by exit polls from the three main TV stations: KAN 11, Keshet 12 and Reshet 13. The exit polls tend to be more accurate than the polls, but are far from exact (case in point: April’s cringeworthy victory speech by Benny Gantz). Counting the ballots will begin immediately and stretch into the night. A decent picture of the results will be available Wednesday morning, but they won’t be final. The final count and seat division has to wait until all the “double envelope” votes are counted, which include those of diplomats, soldiers, poll workers, prison inmates, hospital patients and others who didn’t cast their ballots at their local voting station. 

Presidential consult: Once all the votes are finalized, party leaders will begin meeting one by one next week with President Reuven Rivlin. Each party leader will recommend, presumably, either Netanyahu or Gantz to be tasked with attempting to form a government coalition of at least 61 seats. Party leaders can also decline to recommend anyone to Rivlin. The president then grants the leading candidate 28 days to build a coalition, with a potential extension (which Netanyahu requested and received in May, to no avail). 

Deadlock predicted: The final polls leave it far from clear who, if anyone, will be able to form a majority government after today’s vote. The purported kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman, has vowed to push for a unity government, though both Likud and Blue and White are resistant. There is also speculation that Likud could oust Netanyahu internally, an unlikely outcome. Rivlin has promised to do everything in his power to avoid a third round of elections — which is the default if no government can be formed once again. Those seeking to avoid a third consecutive vote should simply be praying that the polls are way off. 

Aviv Bushinsky, a former advisor to Netanyahu, tells NPR’s Daniel Estrin: “If [Netanyahu] won’t be able to form a 61-seat government, it will be dependent on others. I can’t say that his days are numbered, but no doubt Netanyahu will not end up as a strong politician, Israeli politician as he is now.” 

• NYTimes: Déjà vu or a chance for change? Could this be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last stand?
• APIsrael faces potential deadlock in a closely contested vote
• USA Today: It’s Israel’s election but here’s why Donald Trump is the ‘King of Israel’
• NYPost: Netanyahu’s policies aren’t on the line in Israel’s election — just his job, writes Benny Avni
• Photo essay from the NYTimes: Israeli vote hinges on a mosaic of competing groups
• WSJ: Israel’s election is full of wild cards
• WashPostNetanyahu’s election bid and the shadow of apartheid

VIEW FROM D.C. — Trump commented on the election during a gaggle with reporters in the Oval Office on Monday: “Big election tomorrow in Israel. And that’ll be a very interesting outcome. It’s going to be close. It’s going to be a close election.” [Video

The Prince and the Kingmaker: 

— Yair Rosenberg profiles Yair Lapid in Tablet “Always looking for a good story, Lapid is exactly the sort of person who would walk up to a random synagogue in middle America and knock on the door. But most people — let alone Israelis — are not. This is natural: Most Israeli Jews will never set foot in America, and have little experience with how Jews overseas might experience their Judaism. ‘This is already the second generation of Israelis,” Lapid notes, ‘that has no vivid memory of what it is to live in a diaspora or the difficulties for a Jew living in the diaspora—maintaining and dealing with the duality of their identity.'”

— Noga Tarnopolsky profiles Lieberman in the Los Angeles Times: “Lieberman’s wild ride this year has hinged on the disaffection of Israel’s secular majority in the face of demands made by the ultra-religious minority, who have traditionally played a kingmaker role in Israeli coalition politics, gaining significant social and financial concessions. Although Netanyahu is not personally religious, he has built a close political partnership with the Orthodox community. Lieberman found a way to upend that alliance.”


CONFERENCE CALL — There are two big questions about Israel’s election. Who is going to win, and what are the implications, strategic and otherwise, if Prime Minister Netanyahu loses? The Jewish Leadership Conference (JLC) invites you to a post-election telephone briefing with two experts. Register for free to hear the analysis of Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz, and Akiva Bigman, an acclaimed political journalist at Israel Hayom and Mida.


2020 BRIEFS — Working Families Party endorses Elizabeth Warren after backing Bernie Sanders in 2016… Warren, in New York City rally, promises to take on corruption… Low-tier candidates could threaten Sanders in New Hampshire… The Sanders campaign says it needs a movement to win. The Democratic Socialists Of America are building one… Andrew Yang raised $1 million after last week’s debate… No millennial bump for Pete Buttigieg, but hints of broad appeal… The Michael Bennet problem… Trump set to raise $15 million for his re-election campaign in California trip.

** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork parent says IPO still on despite setbacks — just delayed [Reuters] • SoftBank backers rethink role in next vision fund on WeWork [Bloomberg] • What’s next for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma [Reuters] • Argentic lends $86M to refinance Kushner properties on the LES [CommercialObserver] • Ari Emanuel’s talent agency Endeavor plans to raise up to $712M in IPO [NYPost]

MORE BRIEFS: Marius Nacht, OurCrowd back Igentify in $10.5 million round [Calcalist• Lightstone Group provides $44 million loan to Neil Shekhter-owned WS Communities [RealDeal] • Amazon signs exclusive delivery agreement with Israel Post [Globes] • Starbucks partners with Israeli milk-on-tap startup Milkit [Calcalist]

MEDIA WATCH — Just days after comedian Shane Gillis was hired for “Saturday Night Live”’s 45th season, NBC fired him after past racist and antisemitic remarks were made public. “We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days,” a spokesperson on behalf of SNL creator Lorne Michaels said. “The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable.”

TALK OF THE TOWN — A swastika at a Starbucks in Nyack, Rockland County, wasn’t covered up for three weeks, concerned locals reported this week. The incident spurred New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ask the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate. 

Cuomo in a statement: “Antisemitism and hate in all its forms are repugnant to New York’s values of inclusion, diversity and acceptance — and we will continue to call out cowardly acts of hate whenever and wherever we see them.”

Trenton councilwoman Robin Vaughn claims antisemitic slur ‘is a verb,’ demands leak investigation — by Isaac Avilucea: “Councilwoman Robin Vaughn claimed in defending embattled council president Kathy McBride that ‘to Jew someone down is a verb’ and demanded the city law department investigate the source of the leak of closed-door conversations… ‘We really need to get a more acute meaning and understanding of “antisemitic,”’ Vaughn wrote in comments on Facebook responding to questions from constituents about the controversy.” [TheTrentonian]

Meet the future residents of Trump Heights, Israel’s tribute to U.S. support — by Saphora Smith, Yael Factor and Lawahez Jabari: “Not all Israelis living in the Golan Heights were thankful for the Trump administration’s support for Israeli policy. Some of those living in the community adjacent to where Trump Heights will be built claim the land as their own and are unhappy with being associated with the American president. Neighbors David Katz and Uri Sitnik say the land slated for development belongs to their community and said plans for it include building workshops or property where their respective children might one day live… Katz is also concerned that Trump Heights will be a religious community that will not mesh well with their secular settlement.” [NBCNews

Canadian officials honor Nazi collaborators in Ukraine, angering Jewish groups — by David Pugliese: “The Canadian Forces and Global Affairs Canada are facing criticism after honouring members of Ukrainian organizations that helped the Nazis in the Second World War. Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk spoke at an Aug. 21 ceremony that unveiled a monument in Sambir to honour members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), two groups that are linked to the killing of tens of thousands of Jews and Poles. The event has been condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Ukrainian Jewish Committee who warn the memorial whitewashes the role of Ukrainian collaborators in the Holocaust.” [NationalPost]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Reps. Max Rose (D-NY) and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) spoke at AIPAC’s congressional club fall forum in New York City, on a panel titled “Front lines: Veterans fighting for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.” [Pic]

REMEMBERING — Alisa Swidler, a prominent Jewish philanthropist and social activist, died unexpectedly last week at age 47. A New York City native who lived for years in London, Swidler was a managing director at Mercury Consulting and a board member of Zioness and the Democratic Majority for Israel, among other philanthropies. She was an ambassador for The Clinton Foundation, and a prominent donor and fundraiser for Hillary’s multiple campaigns. The DMFI co-chairs said they were “heartbroken” to hear of her untimely passing, and that “her legacy will live on through the many lives she has touched.” Swidler is survived by her husband, Josh, and their five children: Nate, Ash, Rosie, Ava and Lily.

DESSERT — Desserts for the Jewish New Year — by Florence Fabricant: “Breads Bakery has made it easy to go beyond apple cake and honey cake for Rosh Hashana this year. A delectable Russian-inspired pastry called medovik has layers of buckwheat-honey pastry alternating with a sour cream and mascarpone filling. A beautiful macindvash has a shiny green apple exterior enclosing apple mousse, Calvados and caramelized apple, all on a cookie base.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Founder of the Oreck Corporation, manufacturers of vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, David Irving Oreck turns 96… Investment banker who once served as a NYC Deputy Mayor (1978-1980), Peter J. Solomon turns 81… Newberry award-winning author of many young adult books, Gail Carson Levine turns 72… Rochester attorney, Frank Hagelberg turns 71… Former professional tennis player, Harold Solomon turns 67… Comedian and actress, Rita Rudner turns 66… Israeli businessman and former IAF pilot, Mody Kidon turns 65… Author and graphic designer, Ellen Kahan Zager turns 64…

Former member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party (2013-2015), Rina Frenkel turns 63… Senior rabbi of Masorti Judaism in the UK and rabbi of the New North London Synagogue, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg turns 62… Washington columnist for The Guardian, author of two books on the Obama presidency, Richard Wolffe turns 51… Former regional communications director and spokesperson for President Obama, now a partner at Seven Letter, Adam Abrams turns 38…

The Mooch’s message to Israeli leaders | AOC’s counterpart in Israel | Schwarzman’s chutzpah

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JI INTERVIEW — Scaramucci: Trump is not a true friend of the State of Israel — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Former White House communications director Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci has a message for Israeli leaders: Be careful not to get too chummy with President Donald Trump, “because he burned everybody.”

Fairweather friend: “If you’re an Israeli politician, be careful because you think he’s your friend. He’s not your friend,” Scaramucci said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Friday. “He’s only using you for his own self-interest. And the minute you no longer become useful to him, he will drop you like a hot potato in a very detached, narcissistic way.”

Booting Bolton: The former West Wing staffer said the firing of National Security Advisor John Bolton last week is “just a continuation of the pathological mania of [Trump’s] personality… If you’re getting better press than him, if you’re better-looking than him or if you’re more talented than him, he’ll try to drop you in his personal fire to appease himself. He makes sacrifices of loyal people into the Trump personal volcano because he has very low self-esteem.” 

Eye on 2020: Scaramucci told JI he is dedicated to defeating Trump in 2020, and is confident the president will be replaced by another Republican on the ballot next year. “I predict that I will be supporting the Republican nominee in November of 2020 and that Republican will not be Donald Trump.” But Scaramucci is not yet ready to commit to any of the current challengers. 

Click here for the full interview and Scaramucci’s view on his relationship with Orthodox Jews: [JewishInsider]

JI PROFILE — Can AOC’s Israeli counterpart build Israel’s version of the Democratic Party? — by JI’s Amy Spiro: Israelis have a choice in this week’s election between an anarchist halachic state and a liberal democracy, argues left-wing Israeli lawmaker Stav Shaffir. “I think today, the differences between the democratic Israel and those on the right is very clear,” Shaffir told Jewish Insider during an interview last week at a cafe in south Tel Aviv. “On the right, what they want is an anarchist revolution, a libertarian halacha state and annexation of the West Bank.” Those on the left, she continued, “understand that we need to have a border between us and the Palestinians, we need a two-state solution to keep Israel Jewish and democratic — to all of its citizens, Jews and Arabs — and we need to stop the Orthodox monopoly on every bit of our religion.”  

Liberal luminary: Shaffir, 34, is one of the more recognizable figures on the Israeli left, and it’s not just because of her fire-red hair. She first rose to public fame as one of the leaders of the 2011 social justice protests, which oversaw tent cities popping up across Israel to protest high housing costs. In 2013, at age 27, she was elected to the Labor Party, becoming the youngest female member of Knesset in history. After the April elections, Shaffir competed in the Labor leadership primary, and lost to former Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Several weeks after that vote, Shaffir left Labor and resigned as an MK to join with Meretz and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to form the Democratic Union, taking the party’s number two spot. 

On the U.S.-Israel relationship: Netanyahu has “made Israel a partisan issue in the United States,” she said. “He failed to create that sense of brotherhood with our brothers and sisters in the United States… An Israeli prime minister needs to have a good relationship with every American president,” Shaffir said, but Netanyahu has burned bridges with Democrats, including with his “stupid move” to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). “I completely disagree with what [those congresswomen] say, but every congressman and woman should be invited to Israel regardless of their opinions,” Shaffir said. “It’s better to have them come and visit, and meet Israelis, to see how things are here. To see that Israel is not exactly the way that the BDS people describe it to them.” 

Regarding BDS on college campuses: “I hear the same things in colleges — they think that all of Israelis are like Netanyahu, they think that Israelis are racist. But when young Jewish Americans get the real picture of what Israel is, then they understand the complexity that we have here in the political discourse… Those who are now in college, in 10 years will be in Congress. And we need them to understand Israel and the complexity of it.”

On building a Democratic Party: “I’m trying to do everything in my power to build connections with the [U.S.] Democrats as well… I think that we have a lot in common. I think that we and Democrats all around the world are now facing a threat to democracy. And that threat comes from the populist front on the right, which uses racism, incitement and fear as their main political tools.” Shaffir says her party will reach out to the Democratic Party and “do everything to keep Israel a bipartisan issue in the States.”

On comparisons to AOC: “I see everything that she’s doing because people send it to me and say ‘look what your sister is doing,’” joked Shaffir. “I think she’s doing really important work, and I think the young generation of Democrats [around the world] should work together on many issues.” Shaffir said while she’s heard Ocasio-Cortez speak about Israel, “I would like her to visit Israel and see what Israel really is — not just through the lens of those over there who try to portray Israel in a certain way.”

Click here for the full profile and Shaffir’s thoughts on her controversial colleague, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak: [JewishInsider]

TRUMP TWEETS — Trump gave Netanyahu another potential boost in the remaining days before the Israeli elections. In a Saturday morning tweet, Trump said that he told Netanyahu during a phone conversation that he will support a U.S.-Israel mutual defense treaty “that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries.” 

Date scheduled: The president also revealed that the two will meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, assuming Netanyahu will travel to New York after the election. 

Pact details: Netanyahu described the defense pact as “historic” and “great” in TV interviews on Saturday evening. “I’m going to get us a defense pact that will provide us with security for centuries, but for that I need your votes,” Netanyahu declared to voters. Netanyahu’s chief rival, Benny Gantz, assailed the idea as a “grave mistake,” arguing it would strip Israel of military autonomy. 

Credit: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — who along with the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) pushed for the U.S. to enter into a mutual defense agreement with Israel — welcomed the presidential declaration. 

Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff tweeted“If this is the grand pre-election gesture Netanyahu was counting on from POTUS, it must fall short of expectations. A phone call to ‘discuss the possibility’ of a treaty is unlikely to inspire too many voters to switch from some other party to Likud.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro wrote that anyone who favors a U.S.-Israel defense pact “should be appalled by Trump’s cheap politicization of the idea in a lame pre-election tweet.” 

Flashback: Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk noted that former President Bill Clinton made the same offer to Ehud Barak in 2000. 

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Netanyahu convened his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday in the Jordan Valley to approve legal status for the outpost of Mevo’ot Yericho. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was first opposed to the move, but gave his backing after Netanyahu convinced him that the Trump peace plan would likely put such outposts at risk for evacuation and “that there is urgency in the decision to establish the settlement by the government at this time.” 

On Monday morning, Netanyahu vowed to also annex the Kiryat Arba settlement and the Jewish neighborhood of Hebron during a radio interview. 

Around the corner: Netanyahu told cabinet ministers that Trump’s peace plan rollout is expected “within days” of Tuesday’s election. However, outgoing White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said last week, as reported by Jewish Insider, that the administration has yet to make a decision whether to release the plan before the formation of a new government. 

Where’s the map? Yamina Chairwoman Ayelet Shaked urged Netanyahu on Sunday to share the details of Trump’s peace plan with the Israeli public, after her party released an alleged “map” that depicts more than 90% of the West Bank as under Palestinian control and divides Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s spokesperson called the map “fake news.” A U.S. official told The Jerusalem Post that the map posted by former minister Naftali Bennett “and his claim that this represents the vision for peace of the Trump administration — [are] highly inaccurate.” 

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — John McLaughlin — Netanyahu’s pollster who also works for Trump — suggested in an interview on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Friday that Benny Gantz’s pollster Joel Benenson is part of a group of former Obama officials determined to defeat Netanyahu “so they can get the Iran deal back. It’s so transparent.” 

SUNDAY TALK — Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh following an event in Brooklyn, New York: “I don’t think that the president of the U.S. ought to get involved in in the Israeli election the same way the Israeli prime minister shouldn’t get involved in the American elections. In a democracy, the country needs to stand on its own, and [Netanyahu] ought to stand on his own.” 

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on CBS’s “Face the Nation”: “I certainly hope that the people of Israel make a different decision. And my hope is that they recognize that his existence, his policies, his rhetoric really is contradictory to the peace that we are all hoping that that region receives and receives soon. Just right now if you look at the annexation that’s taking place — for many of us in Congress there has been long-standing support for its two-state solution and this annexation now is going to make sure that that peace process does not happen.” [Video]


• Daniel Gordis writes… The Netanyahu show is finally fizzling out
• The Times: Netanyahu’s threat to annex West Bank crash-lands at home
• AFPA look at the corruption scandals facing Israel’s Netanyahu
• NYTimes: Ugly breakup of Israel’s odd couple could turn an election
• WaPo’s Jackson Diehl writes If Netanyahu wins Israel’s election, the Mideast doomsayers may finally be proved right
• Reuters: Netanyahu sharpens focus on settlements, two days before ballot
• Financial Times: Lieberman challenges Netanyahu’s hold on the right
• WSJ: Netanyahu’s alliance with Trump tests Israel’s bond with U.S. Jews

It’s all about turnout: Israeli Arab political leaders are trying to raise turnout after a record-low showing in April… Netanyahu has made Arabs a focal point of his campaign… Yardena Schwartz details why Netanyahu fears Arab voters… 

A do or die for Haredi parties: Israel’s ultra-Orthodox mobilize in a fight for the soul of the Jewish state in knife-edge election… How ultra-Orthodox perks set the election agenda… 

What the tech community thinks: OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved explained in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest that the Israeli tech sector has proven in the past it could withstand this level of uncertainty if there’s a deadlock in the results. “It’s really as though the Israeli tech industry is completely orthogonal to what goes on geopolitically,” he said. 

Hot take — Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg writes… “The truth about Bibi, Israel’s very dispensable man: Netanyahu isn’t a strategic genius who remade Israel’s position in the world. He’s a communications genius who was in the right place at the right time and expertly recast that coincidence into a campaign credo.” [Tablet]

TALK OF THE REGION — Strikes on oil plants in Saudi Arabia over the weekend have inflamed tensions and prompted finger-pointing as oil prices soared. The coordinated strikes knocked out more than half of the Saudi oil output, which is more than 5% of the global supply. On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the airstrikes, a charge it denied. On Sunday evening, Trump tweeted — without naming Iran — that the U.S. has “reason to believe that we know” who is responsible for the attack and that the country is “locked and loaded depending on verification.”

Eli Lake writes… “If Trump continues to pursue negotiations with Iran’s regime, he will be inviting more attacks on America’s allies. This is exactly the strategy — and the consequences — followed and paid by his predecessor, Barack Obama, in his second term.” [Bloomberg]

IRAN TALKS — Iran on Monday ruled out the possibility of a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this month. “Neither is such an event on our agenda, nor will it happen,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi in remarks carried by state TV. “Such a meeting will not take place.”

The Iranian statement came just a day after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump may still meet Rouhani in New York. “The conditions must always be right for this president to make a deal or take a meeting,” she said. Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Friday that Israel has received reassurances that the U.S. will not grant Iran any sanctions relief even if such a meeting takes place. 

Trump tweeted on Sunday evening: “The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)” 

Visa ban: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chair, said in an interview on “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd: “I would say we should deny the visas for the Iranian delegates who are planning on coming into the United States — into New York — next week” for the General Assembly. 


COMING SOON — The Jewish Leadership Conference (JLC) aims to develop a new political and cultural vision for American Jewry. The 3rd Annual Conference on Jews and Conservatism will take place on November 10 in New York. Join Henry Kissinger, Judge Neomi Rao, Yoram Hazony, Malcolm Hoenlein, R’ Meir Soloveichik, Ruth Wisse, John Podhoretz, and many more. Legendary Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz will receive this year’s Herzl Prize. REGISTER HERE.


2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden delivered on Sunday his most significant speech yet on race, says silence on hate ‘is complicity’… Biden’s rivals learn that attacks only made him stronger… Bernie Sanders bashes Biden, embraces Trump supporter during Nevada campaign stop… Kamala Harris was ready to brawl from the beginning… Andrew Yang ‘forgives’ new ‘SNL’ comic Shane Gillis for ‘Jew ch–k’ slur… Bill de Blasio still thinks he has a shot at the White House

** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Bob Iger departs board of Apple, Disney’s new streaming competitor [NYTimes• Takedown by Elliott’s Paul Singer of AT&T is on the money [FinancialTimes] • WeWork IPO spells rough landing for CEO Adam Neumann [Reuters• Seth Klarman’s Baupost poised to cash in on PG&E insurance bet [WSJ

MORE BRIEFS: New York uncovers $1 billion in Sackler family wire transfers [NYTimes] • Purdue Pharma files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy [NYTimes• Treasury plans canceling VAT exemption on online imports [Globes] • Blackstone seals $4.7bn deal to buy Canada’s Dream Global Reit [FinancialTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — Stephen Schwarzman’s lifelong audacity — by Miriam Gottfried: “Mr. Schwarz­man’s chutz­pah has helped him de­velop a side ca­reer as a solver of other peo­ple’s prob­lems, in­clud­ing those of the past two U.S. pres­i­dents. From a young age, he has had few qualms about ap­proach­ing au­thor­ity fig­ures—in­clud­ing the colonel in charge of his Army Re­serve unit and the dean of Har­vard Busi­ness School—and point­ing out prob­lems at their or­ga­ni­za­tions.’” [WSJ]

Israel prepares to unleash AI on health care — by Dov Lieber: “The government last year announced a $264 million initiative to begin to combine those millions of records into a giant unified system, one that takes decades of individual patients’ information and puts it all in the same format so medical data looks the same across all health-care institutions…. Israel’s plans rely on patients giving their consent for their clinical data to be transferred from the HMOs to the government system. Patients who agree will be asked to supply genetic information and other additional data as well.” [WSJ]

INTERVIEW — David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, talked about his Jewish roots and the launch of a new series with Steven Spielberg in an interview with i24News: “‘I love Israel, Tel Aviv is fantastic… When you go to Israel there’s just a tremendous amount of energy, technology and IP.’ …Famed Holocaust survivor, author Elie Wiesel was a significant influence on Zaslav as he ‘stood for that pure ideal, that we as Jews should stand up for everyone… because those around us did not stand up for us.’ Zaslav also elaborated on a new documentary series he is launching in October with director Steven Spielberg, named ‘Why We Hate.’ ‘Conditions today are very similar to what the conditions were in the 20s and early 30s,’ said Zaslav.” [I24News]

HOLLYWOOD — Hitler comedy ‘Jojo Rabbit’ primed for Oscars after winning top Toronto award — by Benjamin Lee: “Second World War comedy ‘Jojo Rabbit’ has won this year’s people’s choice award at the Toronto film festival, a prize that’s seen by many as a major predictor of Oscar success. The film, which follows a young German boy who turns his idol Adolf Hitler into an imaginary friend, is written and directed by Taika Waititi, who also stars in the film.” [TheGuardian]

PROFILE — How one photographer captured burning issues across the Israeli-Palestinian divide — by Tamir Kalifa: “I lived in the town of Beit Awwa in the southern West Bank for almost a month across seven visits between November 2017 and April 2019. I photographed the burns [from e-waste recycling efforts], the Palestinians affected by them, and the broader e-waste sector… To me — an American-Israeli who grew up between the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and Israel — the burns, the noble attempt to stop them, the little-known e-waste sector and the community enduring despite the circumstances defied the common tropes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It felt like a story worth telling.” [NYTimes]

Torah students who choose the army reveal Israel’s bitter divide — by Oliver Holmes: “[Yehuda Meshi-Zahav] was one of the first Haredi rabbis to promote the idea of serving in the army, and his son, Netanel Meshi-Zahav, has just left a Haredi paratrooper unit. The 22-year-old spent a lot of his time helping so-called ‘lone soldiers,’ men whose families had abandoned them. As his father had embraced mainstream Israeli society, he knew both sides, and also acted as an aide to non-religious officers who might not understand the Haredi background… With time, the soldiers caught up and, he boasts, Haredi units now often win many army sporting competitions… Meshi-Zahav’s family supports him but he feels the pressure other Haredi soldiers feel in their communities, where they may be labelled traitors.” [TheGuardian]

CAMPUS BEAT — Yeshiva University announced on Thursday the creation of the Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The center, which will be located on YU’s Wilf Campus, will provide school and university educators with the resources and programs needed to teach about the Holocaust to a new generation of students. It will also offer graduate programs in the discipline.

TALK OF THE TOWN — Police have arrested and charged a 36-year-old man with arson over the burning of the Adas Israel synagogue in Duluth, Minnesota last week. At a press conference on Sunday, Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said Matthew J. Amiot was booked on first-degree arson charges, but that “at this moment in time there is no reason to believe this is a bias or hate crime.” The fire completely destroyed the 117-year-old building as well as six Torah scrolls. Phillip Sher, a lifelong member of Adas Israel, said Sunday that “true Judaism is in the heart, not in the building.”

Inside the building: Officials are investigating after a swastika was found drawn on the third floor of a Department of Homeland Security building in Washington. Principal Deputy Undersecretary for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Brian Murphy wrote an email to employees stating that “there is no room in the workplace for such symbols of hate. And there is no room in the workplace for those who ascribe to such a thing.”

SCENE YESTERDAY — Over 150 elected officials, community leaders and yeshiva representatives attended the Agudath Israel of America’s annual legislative breakfast in Brooklyn, New York. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and New York State Assistant Education Commissioner Christina Coughlin addressed the event, titled a ‘Celebration of Yeshiva Education.’ [Pic]

TRANSITION — Charlie Spies, a veteran Republican operative and election lawyer, has joined Dickinson Wright. h/t Playbook

DESSERT — 12 kosher-friendly restaurants in South Florida — by Alona Martinez: “This exclusive steakhouse from David Grutman is a partnership with David “Papi” Einhorn, who grew up in Brooklyn in a kosher household. While their new eatery is not kosher, it does play homage to some of Einhorn’s favorite childhood dishes by offering kosher-friendly latkes, wagyu pastrami and chicken schnitzel. There’s also the namesake Papi Steak, a 32-ounce glatt kosher dry aged bone-in ribeye.” [EaterMiami]

BIRTHDAYS: Argentinian physician and author, Esther Vilar (born Esther Katzen) turns 84… Defense policy advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43, Richard Perle turns 78… Montebello, California resident, Jon Olesen turns 75… Founder and CEO of OurCrowd, Jonathan Medved turns 64… Senior account executive at The ForwardFern Wallach turns 63… Award-winning illusionist, David Copperfield (born David Seth Kotkin) turns 63… Unsuccessful candidate for Congress from Wisconsin in 2018, formerly the VP of political affairs and political director for J Street, Dan Kohl turns 54… Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Riverdale, New York, Rabbi Dov Linzer turns 53…

Contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and a correspondent for GQJason Zengerle turns 46… Israel’s only Olympic Gold medalist (to date), Bronze in Atlanta 1996; Gold in Athens 2004, windsurfer Gal Fridman turns 44… Jerusalem-born founder and chairman of “Over The Rainbow – the Zionist Movement,” a World Zionist Congress faction, Tzvi (Tziki) Avisar turns 41… Growth and member success at CareJourney, Suzy Goldenkranz turns 33… Banking reporter at The Wall Street JournalRachel Louise Ensign turns 31… CEO and Co-Founder at Zignal Labs, Josh Ginsberg (h/ts Playbook)…

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