Daily Kickoff: Israel pushed Trump to strike ‘grand bargain’ with Putin | Boris Johnson’s resignation | NYT acknowledges too many Dershowitz stories

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DRIVING THE WEEK — Trump heads to Europe amid frayed alliances, and worries about his tilt to Putin — by Noah Bierman: “Administration officials who previewed the trip for reporters in recent days insist all is normal in the transatlantic relationship: Trump will work with NATO countries to present a united front beginning Tuesday night in Brussels, stop in Britain to see Queen Elizabeth, then proceed to Helsinki, Finland, next week to confront Putin “with our eyes wide open.”” [LATimes]

Trump’s neglect of Europe goes beyond angry tweets — by David Hernszenhorn: “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who will visit Trump at the White House later this month… warned that the consequences of Trump’s policies, like withdrawing from the Iran deal, were already shifting the global geopolitical landscape… “We have to draw some conclusions from Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran,” Juncker said. “That does not mean that we are swapping partners. But it does mean that other partners are becoming more important than they were before.”” [Politico]

Russia stays in the driver’s seat in Syria — by Ishaan Tharoor: “The question of what happens next in Syria will loom over Putin’s planned meeting with Trump next week in Helsinki. Trump administration officials have long sought to drive a wedge between Assad’s two main backers, Russia and Iran. The latter’s entrenched position in Syria is reviled by both Washington and Israel. But while there’s plenty that separates Moscow and Tehran, a split between the two is not in the cards. “The Russians can’t guarantee an absence of Iran in Syria,” explained Maxim Suchkov, a Moscow-based expert on Russian foreign policy in the Middle East.”

“And ultimately, argued Suchkov, Putin values his ability to “create the image” of a successful actor in the Middle East, especially in contrast to the United States. “For the United States, Syria is more about Iran,” he said. “For Russia, Syria is about the United States.”” [WashPost]

Can Russia deliver on Trump’s hope of ousting Iran from Syria? — by Kirill Semenov: “One reason why Damascus might be open to turning away from the pro-Iran vector is the return of US sanctions on Iran. There’s a view in Moscow that Syrian leaders are sensibly worried that excessive dependency on Tehran is likely to drag Syria down as well.” [Al-Monitor]

Michael Sharnoff writes… “Russia and the U.S. have common interests in Syria. But it may not matter: Russia and the United States want to prevent another Israeli-Hezbollah war, which could cause greater regional instability. Securing a buffer zone with clear and narrowly defined objectives that prevent the Iranians from establishing a base in southern Syria satisfies U.S. and Russian interests.” [WashPost]

HEARD THIS MORNING — Trump in a gaggle with reporters outside the White House: “So I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think? … I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing. I’ve said that many times for many years. So we’ll see.” [Video]

HAPPENING TOMORROW: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders are expected to discuss “pressing cooperation issues and problems on the global agenda, including ways to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue and the Syrian conflict,” according to the Kremlin.

REPORT — Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati Officials Privately Pushed for Trump to Strike a “Grand Bargain” with Putin — by Adam Entous: “Israeli officials lobbied for rapprochement between Washington and Moscow soon after Trump’s election victory. In a private meeting during the transition, an attendee told me, Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States and one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest confidants, said that the Israeli government was encouraging the incoming Trump Administration to coöperate more closely with Putin, starting in Syria, with the hope of convincing Moscow to push the Iranians to leave the country, the attendee said. Like M.B.Z., Netanyahu made courting Putin a priority, particularly after Russia’s military intervention in Syria in 2015.”

“Separately, a former U.S. official recalled having a conversation after Trump’s Inauguration with an Israeli Cabinet minister with close ties to Netanyahu in which the minister pitched the American on the idea of “trading Ukraine for Syria.” The former official told me, “You can understand why Russia’s help with Syria is a far higher priority for Israel than pushing back on Russian aggression in Ukraine. But I considered it a major stretch for Israel to try to convince the United States that U.S. interests are well served by looking the other way at Russian aggression in Ukraine. Of course, Trump may disagree for his own reasons.”” [NewYorker]

Tal Shalev tweets: “Funfact: BB’s support tweet for Donald Trump’s border wall was his most retweeted tweet ever, according to the annual @Twiplomacy report.”

Israel ‘not ruling out’ eventual ties with Syria’s Assad — by Dan Williams: “Touring the Israeli-occupied Golan, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ramped up threats to use armed force should Damascus encroach militarily. “Any Syrian soldier who will be in the buffer zone risks his life,” Lieberman told reporters… Asked by a reporter… whether the two old enemies could establish “some kind of relationship”, Lieberman said: “I reckon we are a long way from that, but we are not ruling out anything.”” [Reuters]

TALK OF THE REGION — Unable to Stop Flaming Kites, Israel Moves to Choke Off Gaza Commerce — by David Halbfinger: “The new restrictions at Gaza’s main cargo crossing ban the import of all goods except food, medicine and “humanitarian equipment,” as well as all exports… Short of military action, analysts said, Israel has few options, since its blockade already severely restricts the movement of people in and out of Gaza. “The only measure that Israel has in its tool kit is to close the border,” said Celine Touboul, deputy director general of Israel’s Economic Cooperation Foundation.”

“The new restrictions at Kerem Shalom could quickly be subsumed into a larger diplomatic struggle involving Israel, Egypt, the United States and the Palestinian Authority over how to ease suffering in Gaza, and who should bear responsibility for it.” [NYTimes]

Israel says that monitoring social media has cut ‘lone wolf’ attacks. Palestinians are crying foul — by Ruth Eglash: “Amid a wave of stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks that began nearly three years ago, Israel has stepped up its monitoring of social media… Security forces and intelligence agencies are also using computer algorithms to predict the likelihood that a given person will carry out a lone-wolf attack and to intervene before it happens. Israel says its methods are working, pointing to a sharp drop in attacks carried out largely by young, disaffected Palestinians. But those methods have generated serious questions about an erosion of privacy, freedom of speech and human rights… For many Palestinians, the knowledge that Israeli authorities are tracking their social-media activities is seen as just another level of oppression and restriction in an in­trac­table, decades-old conflict.” [WashPost

TALK AT TURTLE BAY — UN agency for Palestinians warns of deep cuts if funding shortfall not fixed: “The UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants has warned that cuts to key programs in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are planned over the coming weeks, if a US funding freeze cannot be overcome. Figures were not yet available on the cuts being planned if the major gap in financing is not resolved, but a letter sent to agency staff over the weekend, and seen by AFP on Monday, highlights the targeted areas… Most of the cuts were expected in the West Bank. Some programs were due to run out of funds by the end of July, according to the source.” [ToI]

ACROSS THE POND — What does Boris Johnson’s resignation mean for UK-Israel relations? — by Eytan Halon: “Former British foreign minister Boris Johnson’s resignation on Monday plunged Prime Minister Theresa May’s turbulent Brexit Britain government into even more trouble… Under Johnson’s ministerial tenure, UK-Israel ties have prospered with bilateral trade between the countries reaching £6.9bn ($9.1bn) in 2017… Johnson did not shy away from making clear his strong support for Israel while foreign minister… expressing his pride in “Britain’s part in creating Israel” in a Daily Telegraph op-ed… The former London mayor was also a passionate believer in the urgency of reaching a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, telling The Jerusalem Post in March 2017 that “you have to have a two-state solution or else you have a kind of apartheid system.”

“Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev soon welcomed Johnson’s foreign secretary replacement, expressing hope that relations between the two countries will continue to go from strength to strength. “Mazal tov to Jeremy Hunt on his appointment as Foreign Secretary. Looking forward to further strengthening the Israel-UK partnership,” wrote the Israeli envoy on Twitter… Although public statements made by Hunt to date regarding Israel are scarce, he dedicates much of his website’s foreign policy section to the Middle East where his opinions regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict mirror those of the Conservative Party in general.” [JPost]

SUPREME COURT WATCH — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tells CBS This Morning that he will work to oppose Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court with “everything I’ve got.” Adding, “At a time when we have the Mueller investigation, Judge Kavanaugh is way at the extremes. He believes a president shouldn’t even be investigated. He has gone so far as to say a president who believes the law’s unconstitutional, doesn’t have to follow it.” [Video

Former Senator Norm Coleman tells us…  “I’m thrilled by the nomination. Judge Kavanaugh is someone who is committed to the rule of law, someone who is committed to the Constitution. Actually, the Wall Street Journal said it very very well, it’s going to be great to have a court that focuses on the Constitution, and let the political branches of government deal with the politics. That’s what democracy is all about. I think he is a tremendous choice and I’m looking forward to his confirmation.”

The Anti-Defamation League in a statement“We are concerned that Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record does not reflect the demonstrated independence and commitment to fair treatment for all that is necessary to merit a seat on our nation’s highest court. Because he has written and spoken prolifically on many issues of deep concern, we believe his positions merit close scrutiny.  These include his demonstrated hostility to reproductive freedom and his past support for greatly expanded and unchecked executive power.”

Norm Eisen emails us… “Kavanaugh’s views are troubling on a woman’s right to choose, on all our rights to healthcare and on government protection of consumers. But he has a conflict that no prior Supreme Court nominee has faced: nomination by a president who has been identified as a subject in a criminal investigation that is advanced and has brought down or focused on top aides. At a minimum, the nominee must answer questions about that, including about his own extreme views that a president should not even be questioned while in office. If he refuses to answer the questions he should recuse — and if he refuses to do that, his nomination should be delayed until the criminal investigations have concluded. If not, a cloud will hang over his appointment.”

— American Constitution Society’s Caroline Fredrickson and Norm Eisen write… “Will Kavanaugh Provide Cover for Trump? This issue is particularly important given repeated claims by the president’s attorneys that Mr. Trump is essentially above the law — that he can even refuse a subpoena to testify. Given the looming Mueller investigation, these weighty, knotty constitutional questions may soon come before the court.” [NYTimes

Fun fact via C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman: At Kavanaugh’s hearing for Circuit Court on May 9, 2006, he was introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Alex Kozinski, a son of Holocaust survivors. [Video]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Stephen Miller trashed pricey sushi after bartender gave him the finger — by Tamar Lapin: “White House senior adviser Stephen Miller was so outraged when a bartender gave him both middle fingers that he dumped $80 worth of sushi in the trash… Miller, 32, was picking up a takeout order from a restaurant near his City Center apartment in Washington, DC, when the barman followed him out into the street and shouted, “Stephen!” before making the rude gesture and cursing him out… In another encounter, a stranger shouted “Better be better!” at Miller as he walked through Dupont Circle a few months ago.” [NYPost]

Former Trump administration official Boris Epshteyn on his job as chief political analyst for Sinclair Broadcast Group in an interview with Hamodia: “The American people are absolutely tired of Trump-bashing. My segment goes out to millions of people around the country. I get a lot of the emails from folks all over the country (maybe not in the D.C. bubble or New York) who are saying that Trump is doing great… But if you read some newspapers here in New York, they’ll go on for 15 paragraphs about some in-house drama that may or may not actually be happening in the White House.”

Epshteyn on Trump’s 2017 Holocaust Remembrance Day statement“I had a role in writing the statement. Obviously, I am 100 percent Jewish and had family that perished in the Holocaust. As I helped draft the statement I looked at prior statements. There was one in 2008, when President Bush did not mention the Jewish people. The meaning of the statement was to include all of those who perished in the Holocaust. Of course, that includes the Jewish people. Since it was only a couple days into the presidency, I think that attack was a preview of the absolute hatred for the president and anyone who worked for him. It was completely unfair. Would I have included the term “Jewish people” if I knew that anyone would have been offended? Of course.”[Hamodia]

2018 WATCH — NRCC Pulls Support For House Candidate With Racist History — by Haley Byrd: “The National Republican Campaign Committee has pulled its support from Seth Grossman, the GOP nominee in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, after MediaMatters.org revealed social media posts by Grossman containing white supremacist content. “Bigotry has no place in society—let alone the U.S. House of Representatives. The NRCC withdraws our support of Seth Grossman and calls on him to reconsider his candidacy,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement…Grossman, a right-wing radio host and pundit, used his Facebook page to publicize articles from racist websites, such as a post from the white supremacist website American Renaissance.” [WeeklyStandard]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Martin Sorrell Outbids WPP to Win MediaMonks [WSJ] • James Packer resigns from Consolidated Press Holdings board [ABC] • Sumner Redstone Nearing Trial Over His Massive Fortune[HollywoodReporter] • No Steel and Aluminum Tariff Exemptions for Israel Under Trump Administration [Calcalist]

A legendary Israeli venture capitalist explains why anyone against cooperation with China is ‘crazy’ — by Harrison Jacobs: “The [U.S–China dispute over new tarrifs] has left some Israeli businessmen, like legendary venture capitalist Erel Margalit, feeling caught in the middle. “The Chinese and the Americans need to find a better way to coexist from an economic standpoint. It’s extremely important for the world’s development,” Margalit told Business Insider. “China is developing new business models today that are ahead of anyone else.” … As Margalit looks at the global economy, he said it’s important to continue building “new dimensions of cooperation” between China, the US, and other global economies. But, he said, it needs to be done in a way that respects intellectual property and is non-threatening. Anyone against that, he said, is “crazy.” [BusinessInsider

COMING SOON: The second Bloomberg Global Business Forum will be held on September 26th at the Plaza Hotel during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday. Heads of state from five continents have already confirmed their attendance, as well as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, among others. In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim and Bloomberg will host the second One Planet Summit on the afternoon of the Forum.

SPOTLIGHT — The Real-Life Shareholder Revolt That Inspired Succession’s No-Confidence Vote — by Julie Miller: “During a phone call last week, [Jesse] Armstrong revealed that while Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone, and other media moguls have inspired other elements of the HBO drama, Sunday’s vote of no confidence was partly inspired by Disney’s unprecedented shareholder revolt in 2004, which stripped Michael Eisner of the chairman title he had held for nearly 20 years… “What happened with Disney was very pertinent to that [scene],” explained Armstrong, even though there are key differences between that shakeup and the one on Succession.” [VanityFair]

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet: Yes, We Did Too Many Alan Dershowitz Stories — by Lloyd Grove: “Even publicity-savvy Alan Dershowitz is astonished at the flood-the-zone coverage that The New York Times has been devoting to his social sufferings on Martha’s Vineyard. “Four stories!” the retired Harvard Law professor… crowed Mondayin a phone interview… On Monday, Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet acknowledged the weirdness of the situation… “We are trying to increase our coverage of cranky white guys,” he joked. “Seriously, it’s a big place and different desks made their own plans. We should have coordinated better and done fewer.” … Former Times executive editor Jill Abramson… sounded more amused than alarmed by the profileration of Dershowitz headlines. “Six reporters!” she said, laughing. “That’s the only comment this needs.””[DailyBeast]

A Pakistani Jew Wants To Travel To Israel — NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks with a Pakistani Jew, Fishel Benkhald, about his recent op-ed. It’s his plea to travel to Israel for Passover, which is not permitted by the Pakistani government: ‘The Pakistani Constitution states that every citizen has the equal right to profess religion… So it is a right of Jewish Pakistanis to have the freedom to make a religious pilgrimage to their most holy site, which is Jerusalem in Israel… In order to protest against it – I call myself a guerrillativist. It’s a person who puts himself in the situation to protest. People say that there are other ways around, but why should I? Why should I hide and do it under the darkness of the night? It’s my right as per the constitution, so I will do it publicly, and I will do it loudly.'” [NPR]

How Warner Brothers Resisted a Hollywood Ban on Anti-Nazi Films in the 1930s and Warned Americans of the Dangers of Fascism: “In 1932, Joseph Breen, soon to become head of the Production Code Administration (PCA), censorship arm of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, wrote a letter to a Jesuit priest in which he called Jews “the scum of the scum of the earth and “dirty lice.” Breen would soon be charged by his boss Will Hays with enforcing a ban on anti-Nazi films in Hollywood between 1934 and 1941… While most of the studio heads complied with the ban… the Warner brothers did their best to fight back… The Warners would not be deterred even after the PCA cracked down; they were the only studio heads to support the 1936-created Hollywood Anti-Nazi-League. “Two further films, Black Legion and Confessions of a Nazi Spy” followed Bosko’s Picture Show, the first a 1937 “documentary style” production that “shed light on a fascist movement within the U.S.” [OpenCulture]

DESSERT — NoHo Gets New Kosher, Vegetarian Hummus Place — by Shira Feder: “Middle Eastern cuisine continues carving a swath through modern food trends with the arrival of Vish in NoHo, Manhattan. It’s a new vegetarian, Middle Eastern, kosher place that specializes in hummus topped with “sautéed mushrooms, fava beans, eggplant, vegan shwarma, hard boiled egg, falafel, and even shakshuka,” as site YeahThat’sKosher wrote… Eliyahoo, the man behind Vish, an alternative medicine therapist, started making hummus in 2008. Instead of mixing natural extracts, he began measuring precise quantities of sesame seeds and chickpeas.” [Forward]

BIRTHDAYS: Broadway composer, whose scores include Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles, Jerry Herman turns 87…Stan Udaskin turns 72… NYC-born author, now living in Jerusalem, Naomi Ragen turns 69… Managing editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, Bob Jacob turns 62…President of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey (2014-2017), now chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Network Advisory Committee, Leslie Dannin Rosenthal turns 61… Member of Holland & Knight’s public policy group, previously a member of the US House of Representatives from Florida (2007-2011), Chair of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Ronald “Ron” Klein turns 61… Member of the New York State legislature: Assembly (1995-2004) and Senate (since 2005), representing parts of Bronx and Westchester Counties, Jeffrey D. Klein turns 58…

One of the chief film critics for The New York Times, Anthony Oliver (A.O.) Scott turns 52…NYC-based PR consultant, formerly on Bill Clinton’s post WH staff, M Public Affairs and Glover Park Group, Elie Jacobs turns 40… Head of politics and public affairs at Altice and a4 Media, Rena Shapiro turns 38… H. Alan Scott turns 36… Founder, creative director and designer for a fashion line bearing her name, she is the daughter of CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz, Kimberly Ovitz turns 35… World history teacher at Margaret Long Wisdom High School in Missouri City, Texas, Kayla Sokoloff turns 25… Long-time HuffPost reporter, who made history in 2009 when he was the first reporter from an online media outlet to ask a question of the president at a press conference, now at The Daily Beast, Sam Stein… Michael F. Lewis…




Daily Kickoff: What Israel expects on Syria after Trump-Putin summit | Dershowitz’s frosty summer on Martha’s Vineyard | David Einhorn’s star dims

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Ed note: Hope you had a fantastic 4th! We’re back to our regular publishing schedule. Congrats to Daniel Bonner on his special day! Pro tip: Ask DB who he’s voting for… 

DRIVING THE CONVO — Earlier this week, the White House boasted about improved ties with Israel, claiming Israel was viewed as an enemy by the Obama administration. “You’ve seen the relationship with Israel that is greatly enhanced because of this President,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force 1 on Tuesday. “It’s the only democracy in the region, and it was virtually thought of to be an enemy of the American people in the last administration… Under the Barack Obama administration, they almost viewed them as an enemy, it seemed like, in some ways with the way he treated Netanyahu. And so, this President came in and changed the relationship. It’s the only democracy in the region, and it’s important that we keep our partners and allies close and happy.”

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tells us… “This is a ridiculous and offensive remark that should be beneath a White House spokesperson. It is, of course, true that there were disagreements between the United States and Israel during the Obama administration on serious issues like the Iran deal and West Bank settlements. It is also true that during the same period, the security partnership between the two countries became dramatically stronger — with technology breakthroughs in missile defense and tunnel detection, Israel’s acquisition of the F-35, expanded intelligence cooperation and joint military exercise, and a $38 billion military aid package. That’s not how the United States treats an enemy.”

“Those, and many other accomplishments that benefitted both countries are also the joint work of Obama and Netanyahu. It should be possible to acknowledge the disagreements without downplaying them, which represent two allies whose interests heavily overlap but are not identical, without engaging in hyperbole or ignoring the many ways the relationship was enhanced. Anyone who is not motivated by trying to turn Israel into a partisan wedge issue would do so.”

Brookings’ Tamara Cofman Wittes emails us… “This is a preposterous distortion of the facts, as stated clearly and on multiple occasions by both the Israeli and American leaderships throughout the period in question. Distorting and denigrating the long record of US-Israel partnership is not an act of friendship.”

Dore Gold, former Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry: “Israelis unquestionably appreciate President Trump’s administration and public opinion polls show that point. This was enhanced because the President tackled the two most important issues in the relationship: moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and pulling out of the JCPOA, the Iran Agreement. Part of the problem in the Obama period emanated from the fact that his administration was motivated by underlying assumptions on foreign policy that were inimical to core Israeli interests: that Iran was moving in a moderate direction, as articulated by Ben Rhodes, and that the Palestinian issue was the key to stabilizing the Middle East. These assumptions were both wrong and the first one especially, that asserted Iranian moderation, rankled leaders in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Cairo as much as in Jerusalem. What is important to remember is that it is a vital Israeli interest to have good relations with both political parties in the US, even though at times of crisis, it may seem difficult.”

Dennis Ross in an interview with the Jerusalem Post: “Israel risks a backlash because the Trump administration has caused such deep alienation among Democrats, so it’s very important that there is outreach by Israel to Democrats on all levels, be it national, state and municipal… If you identify with only one party, sooner or later another party might come to power.” [JPost

SCENE THE OTHER DAY IN JERUSALEM — Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), George Holding (R-NC) and Jenniffer González (R-PR) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday [Picand with President Reuven Rivlin. [Pic] • U.S. Ambassador David Friedman acknowledged their presence at the Embassy’s 4th of July reception later in the day. “Thank you for coming and for showing your bipartisan support for Israel,” Friedman said.

DRIVING THE DAY — Talks today between China, Russia, the UK, France, Germany and Iran in Vienna over the economic package the Europeans have put together to counter the impact of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal have failed to produce any breakthroughs. Heading into the meeting, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas conceded that the treaty nations would not be able to compensate Iran entirely for the loss of business from companies withdrawing. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warnedTehran to stop threatening to break its commitments to the deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is on a weeklong visit to Europe, called the proposals “disappointing,” and “just a set of general commitments.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters, “The proposal was not a precise and complete one,” adding that it’s up to Iran to decide whether it should remain in the deal.

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on European leaders to follow Trump’s lead and stop appeasing Iran after an Iranian diplomat was arrested on suspicion of plotting a terror attack in France. “I call on the leaders of Europe: Stop financing the terrorist regime that is financing terrorism against you on your soil. Enough with the policy of appeasement and weakness regarding Iran,” Netanyahu said in a speech on Wednesday.

TALK OF THE REGION — Hezbollah role in Syrian south exposes limits of U.S. policy — by Tom Perry and Laila Bassam: “Hezbollah is helping to lead a Russian-backed offensive in southern Syria, pro-Damascus sources said, exposing the limits of U.S. policy that hopes Moscow can get Iran and groups it backs out of the country. Hezbollah’s role in the offensive near the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights has also defied Israeli demands that Iranian proxies be kept away from its frontier… A senior official in the regional alliance that backs Assad said Hezbollah was fighting “under the cover” of the Syrian army in the south.” [Reuters]

Putin Prepares a Real Deal Trump Can Tout After Summit — by Henry Meyer: “At the top of the list for the July 16 meeting in Helsinki, Finland, is Iran’s role in Syria… Putin has agreed in principle to U.S. and Israeli demands that Iranian-backed forces in southern Syria be kept away from Israel’s border, replaced with troops loyal to the government in Damascus, two Kremlin advisers said. After studying Trump’s meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un… Putin decided he needs to negotiate with the billionaire personally… Still, there are major questions about Putin’s ability to enforce any agreement involving Iran’s actions in Syria… This in turn is fueling concerns in Washington and among U.S. allies in Europe that Trump may proclaim the Helsinki meeting a breakthrough without extracting any real concessions.”

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that he’ll confer with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the Helsinki summit about implementing whatever agreements are reached. Even so, he cautioned that “it’s absolutely not realistic” to demand Iran pull out of Syria altogether.” [Bloomberg

At Helsinki Summit, Putin Likely to Rebuff Any Pressure From Trump on Syria — by Amy Mackinnon: “Analysts and former officials believe that Putin has no interest in removing Iran from the complicated equation in Syria and, even if he wanted to, he probably does not have sufficient leverage to do it… “I think it’s a gross overstatement to suggest that Putin can order the Iranian militias out of Syria. He doesn’t have that kind of leverage over Iran,” said Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow.” [ForeignPolicy]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israel lays down red lines for postwar relations with Syria — by Josef Federman: “Our demand is that the Iranian forces will go out or withdraw from Syria as a whole, and specifically southwest Syria,” said a senior Israeli military official… The Israeli military official… said that while there is no love lost for Assad, the Israeli thinking recognizes the emerging reality. “We are looking for an address, a reliable one. We are looking for security and defense to our territory, interests and people,” he said. “If we get that, of course, it’s fine with us.” [AP]

— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading to Moscow next Wednesday to discuss the Syrian military campaign with Russian President Vladimir Putin. [Ynet]

Robert Malley writes… “Slim prospects for Syria headway at Trump-Putin summit: If Putin gets to the planned Helsinki summit with the southwest in regime hands, there will be little left to negotiate. Russia wants the U.S. out of Syria but so does Trump, so it’s not clear what Putin might trade for something Trump’s eager to do anyway. Trump also wants Iran out of Syria, but that’s not something Russia can deliver.” [Axios]

Israel’s Secret Operation to Recover the Watch of a Legendary Spy — by Ronen Bergman: “The watch belonged to Eli Cohen, whose spying in Syria is credited with helping Israel to a quick victory in the 1967 war… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “determined and courageous action” of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, for returning “a memory from a heroic fighter who contributed greatly to the security of the state.” But the announcement was tantalizingly short on specifics, setting off a buzz across Israel… The operation, according to an Israeli official with knowledge of it, was part of a broader 14-year hunt by the Mossad to find Mr. Cohen’s body, which 53 years after his execution in Damascus had never been located… During the search, the official said, Mossad agents located a man who had the watch and began an operation to obtain it.” [NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump during a campaign rally in Montana on conditioning foreign aid with pro-U.S. votes at the UN: “Remember with Israel. Remember when we had two votes on something having to do with Israel. I said, ‘We’re watching.’ We ended up getting 68 votes. We didn’t even do anything.” [Video] • Ari Fleischer chides Trump for mocking ‘thousand points of light’ [WashPost]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Chief Palestinian Negotiator: U.S. Acting Like a Real Estate Firm: [Saeb] Erekat says the White House “should be run by great men, not real estate men,” and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “won’t be solved by the tools of real estate men.” Erekat also said the Palestinian Authority will continue its payments to the families of jailed or slain Palestinian militants, after Israel passed a law this week withholding millions in taxes it collects for the Palestinians. [APHaaretz] • Poll shows most Israelis have little hope for Trump peace plan [ToI]

REPORT — U.S. cancels 4th of July reception for Palestinians — by Tal Shalev: In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, which is responsible for relations with the Palestinian Authority, chose not to host this year its traditional 4th of July reception for Palestinian officials in addition to the Ambassador’s official reception. The Consulate, according to the report, had failed to enlist Palestinian sponsors and feared Palestinians wouldn’t attend. [Walla]

Palestinians Lose Patience With Abbas as Frustrations Pile Up: “More than 60% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza want Mr. Abbas to resign, according to a public-opinion poll released Wednesday by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Still, 64% of Palestinians say they worry that if Mr. Abbas leaves politics, it could spark turmoil and insecurity because he has no clear successor.” [WSJ]

Can Jared Kushner sell a peace deal without the Palestinians? — by Catherine Philp and Anshel Pfeffer: “In Ramallah… there is a sinking feeling of being forced into a corner. “We have lost faith in our Arab brothers giving us backing for now,” said one advisor to President Abbas. “And we certainly have no expectations any longer from the Trump administration. All we can do is stick to our national demands and wait for both Trump and Netanyahu to be replaced by leaders we can work with.” By then, the ailing 82 –year-old President Abbas may also be gone, with little sense of who would replace any of them.” [TheTimes]

Richard Goldberg and Jonathan Schanzer write… “Expose the Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam: If President Trump wants to promote peace in the Middle East, his first step should be to declassify a key State Department report that would end the myth of Palestinian “refugees.” … Removing the label of “refugee” from millions of Palestinians wouldn’t hurt them. Instead, it would unlock their economic potential and create an opportunity for lasting peace.”[WSJ

SUPREME COURT WATCH — Schumer urges Trump to tap Merrick Garland for Supreme Court — by Seung Min Kim and Robert Costa: “Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) privately urged President Trump in a phone call earlier this week to nominate federal Judge Merrick B. Garland, then President Barack Obama’s third nominee to the Supreme Court who was summarily shunned by Senate Republicans in 2016, to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy… arguing doing so would help unite the country.” [WashPost

Justice Ginsburg bemoans partisan divide in Congress — by Aron Heller: “Speaking at a Jerusalem cinema after the screening of “RBG,” the breakout hit documentary about her life and career, [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg said she would not address past or present personnel changes on the court… But the liberal icon did bemoan how partisan the process of picking a justice has become. “I was considered by some a controversial person because of my affiliation with the American Civil Liberties Union,” she said about her 1993 confirmation hearings. “There wasn’t a single question asked of me during the hearings about my ACLU connections. The vote was 96-3… I hope someday we will get back to the bipartisan spirit prevailing with respect to the confirmation of judges.” [AP]

— “When the justice… was asked how her Jewish background has influenced her approach to the law, she noted that at the entrance to her chambers, “There is a large poster with Hebrew letters saying ‘Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof – justice, justice thou shalt pursue.’ … She also proudly pointed out that her office had the only mezuzah in the Supreme Court – a gift, she said, from a Jewish girls’ school in her native Brooklyn.” [HaaretzVideo]

— Ginsburg visited yesterday her Israeli counterparts at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. [Pic

2018 WATCH — Illinois governor clarifies: ‘Vote for anybody’ but the Nazi — by Natasha Korecki: “Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday followed Sen. Ted Cruz’s lead and called for voters in a Chicago-area congressional district to “vote for anybody” but the avowed Nazi running as a Republican… after declining earlier this week to go as far as Cruz — who had publicly urged Illinois residents to vote for a Democrat, Rep. Dan Lipinski, or write in a candidate, rather than cast a ballot for Holocaust denier Arthur Jones… “To the voters of the 3rd Congressional District: vote for anybody but Arthur Jones. Nazis have no place in our country and no one should vote for him,” Rauner said via Twitter.” [Politico]

DJOP Reverses Course, Endorses Scott Wallace — by Joshua Needelman: “In an abrupt course reversal, Democratic Jewish Outreach of Pennsylvania endorsed Scott Wallace, the Democratic nominee in the 1st Congressional District, on Monday, nearly a month after saying it wouldn’t do so… DJOP founder Jill Zipin said Monday it’s apparent Wallace has educated himself on Israel and BDS… After reading his position papers, DJOP believes Wallace now more closely aligns with its values.” [JewishExponent]

Rabbi Andy Bachman in an open letter to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “Come With Me to Israel: I’d encourage you to consider a short trip to Israel and Palestine. I’ll take you and there introduce you to leaders across racial, ethnic, religious, class and generational spectrums who are working each day in a positive and constructive way to build the two-state solution and the chance for peace for Israelis and Palestinians.” [JewishJournal

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… Michael Cohen Hires Lanny Davis, Lawyer Close to the Clintons — by Maggie Haberman: “Michael D. Cohen… has hired Lanny J. Davis, the Washington lawyer and public relations consultant best known for serving in the Clinton White House, to represent him… Mr. Davis said he was persuaded to join the legal team after Mr. Cohen said in an interview with ABC News that aired this week that his first allegiance was to his family and to his country, not to the president. He added, “Michael Cohen deserves to tell his side of the story — subject, of course, to the advice of counsel.”” [NYTimes] • Michael Cohen tells friends he doesn’t think Trump would pardon him [CNN]

Inside the Online Campaign to Whitewash the History of Donald Trump’s Russian Business Associates — by Lachlan Markay and Dean Sterling Jones: “Spokespeople for online reputation management companies in the two countries confirmed that they had been paid to write articles attempting to whitewash Trump’s ties to Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman who, with former Russian trade minister Tevfik Arif, collaborated with the Trump Organization on numerous real estate deals… The campaign appears designed to influence Google search results pertaining to Trump’s relationship with Sater, Arif, and the Bayrock Group, a New York real estate firm.” [DailyBeast

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Hear that hush? Allen & Co. returns to Sun Valley [MTExpress• Bob Iger’s Disney’s Deal Playbook: Target a Company That’s Not for Sale [WSJ] • Glencore Announces $1 Billion Share Buyback Days After Probe [Bloomberg Bank that backs Brooklyn’s biggest Hasidic developers lends $40M on synagogue conversion on UWS [TheRealDeal] • Josh Kushner’s Oscar to get $3.5M in state tax credits to move to new Manhattan HQ[CrainsNY] • Teva Pharmaceuticals to locate U.S. headquarters in New Jersey after receiving $40M in tax credits [Politico] • Home-brewed life lessons from Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman [Reuters] • Windward raises $16.5m [Globes]

SPOTLIGHT — A Hedge Fund Star Dims, and Investors Flee — by Gregory Zuckerman: “After more than a decade of winning on Wall Street, [David] Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital Inc. has shrunk to about $5.5 billion in assets under management, his investors estimate, from a reported $12 billion in 2014, and his investments are struggling. “My patience is wearing thin,” said Morten Kielland, chairman of investment-management firm Key Family Partners SARL… Some frustrated clients have pulled out of Greenlight over the past three years, and some others say they will exit if results don’t rebound… People familiar with the fund attribute Mr. Einhorn’s troubles in part to his unconventional ways—sticking to value stocks, for example, and keeping clients at a distance—which he hasn’t changed even as investors bolt.” [WSJ] • Another minority investor in Milwaukee Bucks revealed [BizJournals]

TALK OF THE TOWN — On Martha’s Vineyard, a Frosty Summer for Alan Dershowitz — by Jess Bidgood and Julie Bosman: “This summer, Mr. Dershowitz says that because he has expressed views that back President Trump, he no longer feels so welcome on the Vineyard, a summertime epicenter of progressive values, money and sheer Democratic power in the United States. “I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Martha’s Vineyard, but I have,” Mr. Dershowitz wrote in an opinion column last week in The Hill… “For them, it is enough that what I have said about the Constitution might help Trump,” he wrote. “So they are shunning me and trying to ban me from their social life on Martha’s Vineyard.” Acquaintances and friends of Mr. Dershowitz on the island confirmed that his increasingly vocal defenses of Mr. Trump on cable news have not been well received in these social circles, particularly in Chilmark, one of the most liberal enclaves of this liberal island.” [NYTimes]

— The Martha’s Vineyard crowd strikes back at Alan Dershowitz — by Mark Shanahan: “Walter Teller, a prominent Los Angeles entertainment lawyer and longtime Vineyard resident, sent Dershowitz and others in their circle an e-mail explaining the sudden estrangement… “You thereby gave Trump an opportunity to use you and your positions in his own defense, to wave you like his pom-pom. How unfortunate for all of us,” wrote Teller… Reached Tuesday night, Dershowitz was on his way to the annual soiree hosted by designer Kenneth Cole and his wife… “I was never lamenting or whining about the fact that people are trying to punish me,” he said. “I was exposing it. I stand by my principles. I’m very proud of it. I challenge them to have a conversation with me.”” [BostonGlobe] • Alan Dershowitz’s War With Martha’s Vineyard Drags On [NYMag]

Thomas Friedman writes… “Can Lancaster’s successes be replicated? Yes. Its problems are global and the strategies Lancaster has employed to resurrect itself are shared by complex adaptive coalitions I’ve visited all over. The organization [Gidi] Grinstein, the societal innovator, created, called Reut, is helping to catalyze some in Israel. I took him with me to Lancaster, and afterward he noted common features that all of these successful coalitions share…” [NYTimes]

CAMPUS BEAT — Maccabee Task Force’s David Brog talks to David Horovitz… “In this interview, Brog details the approach that guides the Maccabee Task Force and specifies precisely how it operates — essentially providing the anatomy of Sheldon Adelson’s landmark project to relegitimize Israel on America’s most hostile campuses… While “we really try our best to work with the entire pro-Israel community,” says Brog, “the one group that we don’t fund on campus is J Street U.” Why? Because its positions, he says, “step out” of the “broad consensus” among pro-Israel groups… “And the money is fungible, so if we fund J Street U we free up resources for that national J Street message.” [ToI]

Yad Vashem Rebukes Israeli and Polish Governments Over Holocaust Law — by Isabel Kershner: “Israel’s official Holocaust memorial center on Thursday issued a stinging critique of a joint statement by the Israeli and Polish prime ministers that was meant to resolve a rift between the countries over a contentious Polish law on the Holocaust… The memorial center, Yad Vashem, said the statement contained “grave errors and deceptions.” … Yad Vashem also said that even after the amendment of the law, its “essence” was the same, and raised the possibility of harm to “the historical memory of the Holocaust.” … Relishing the opportunity to excoriate Mr. Netanyahu, who is battling multiple corruption investigations, his rivals weighed in from the political left, right and center.” [NYTimes]

The $100K Qatar Donation No One’s Talking About — by Hannah Dreyfus: “Benjamin Anthony, the founder and director of Our Soldiers Speak… indicated to The Jewish Week that he would not be returning Qatar’s donation. “We are very pleased to take every penny we receive and apply it towards the mission statement of our work,” Anthony said when asked if he plans to send the money back after Allaham disclosed the donation was from Qatar. Anthony, an IDF veteran and sergeant in the IDF reserves, said his organization was “not aware” that the money was from Qatar when the donation was accepted in October 2017. When asked if the discovery surprised him, he cited his extensive service in the IDF before saying, “It’s difficult to shock us.” [JewishWeek]

SPORTS BLINK — In Israel, Building a Lacrosse League From Scratch — by Aimee Berg: “In 2010, Scott Neiss decided to make lacrosse the No. 1 sport in Israel. The catch? The 25-year-old from Long Island had never played the game. Nor did he live in Israel. But on a trip to the country after graduating from St. John’s University, where he had worked full time for a pro lacrosse league, he wondered if he could run a team of his own. Eight years later, he has developed the nonprofit Israel Lacrosse Association, which has an eight-city league, has been a catalyst for youth engagement and, starting on July 12, will host the largest world championship in the sport’s history when 46 teams descend on Netanya for 11 days of competition.” [NYT]

HOLLYWOOD — Sacha Baron Cohen Might Take Aim at Trump with New Showtime Comedy Series: “Baron Cohen is in talks with Showtime to distribute a new series in which he will star, sources tell Variety. The format is said to be similar to Baron Cohen’s “Da Ali G Show,” which aired on Channel 4 in the U.K. and HBO in the U.S.” [VarietyVanityFair]

DESSERT — LA’s Most Exciting New Kosher Hummus Spot, Hasiba, Arrives on Pico — by Matthew Kang: “Hasiba brings something fresh and well-composed out of the gate for Pico-Robertson and the kosher corridor down Pico Boulevard. The Lodge Bread team of Alex Phaneuf, Or Amsalem, and Ben Amsalem opened Hasiba last week in a tiny slot that features about a dozen seats inside (many communal) and a tight sidewalk patio. The menu isn’t too expansive but it boasts loads of flavors despite hewing to a kosher and mostly vegetarian menu.” [EaterLA]

More D.C. Restaurants Are Going Kosher With The Help Of This New Organization — by Lauren Landau: “Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld and Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman lead the community at Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue on 16th Street above Rock Creek Park. Their new organization DC Kosher, helps existing vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the D.C. area go kosher. Since the organization’s launch in April, DC Kosher has certified two restaurants in Maryland and five in D.C., including a food truck.”[DCist]

REMEMBERING — Denver attorney Paul Jacobs, who helped bring Major League Baseball to Denver, dies at 78 — by Mike Klis: “Paul Jacobs, the man instrumental in bringing the Major League Baseball franchise that is the Colorado Rockies to Denver, died Monday night. He was 78. Jacobs’ diligent attorney work first coalesced the Rockies’ initial ownership group that was awarded an expansion franchise on July 5, 1991.” [9News]

Claude Lanzmann Dies: Director Of Acclaimed Holocaust Doc ‘Shoah’ Was 92 — by Andreas Wiseman and Nancy Tartaglione: “Claude Lanzmann, the French filmmaker best known for acclaimed Holocaust documentary Shoah has died in Paris… His death comes one day after the French theatrical release of his latest film, Les Quatre Soeurs, which features testimonials from four Holocaust survivors which were not included in Shoah.” [Deadline]

Max Fuchs, G.I. Cantor in Historic Battlefield Service, Is Dead at 96 — by Richard Goldstein: “Max Fuchs was a rifleman in the First Infantry Division when it came ashore at Omaha Beach, the bloodiest sector of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, on the morning of June 6, 1944… On Oct. 29 of that year, Private Fuchs — who had attended a yeshiva and sang cantorial music in a choir while growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side — sang the traditional Sabbath hymns at a hugely emotional open-air service on the Aachen battlefield before some 50 fellow Jewish soldiers… When Mr. Fuchs died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan at 96, he was remembered for his voice, one that resounded at the first Jewish service to be broadcast from German soil since the rise of Hitler. It was heard the next day on the NBC radio network throughout America and rebroadcast for those who missed it. Later, the service was broadcast in Germany.” [NYTimes

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Former executive director of AIPAC (1974–1980), then vice chairman of JINSA, Morris J. Amitay turned 82… Democratic Congresswoman from New York, she was first elected in 1988, Nita Lowey turned 81…  President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie turned 71… Investment banker who led President Obama’s auto industry rescue, Steven Rattner turned 66… Founder and leader of Israel’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, and Defense Minister of Israel since 2016, Avigdor Lieberman turned 60… Author, teacher and founding Senior Vice President of Jerusalem’s Shalem College, Daniel Gordis turned 59… CEO of YouTube since February 2014, Susan Wojcicki turned 50… Vice Chair of San Diego’s Leichtag Foundation and board member of many Jewish organizations, Emily Einhorn… Pulitzer Prize winner, author and chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, David E. Sangerturned 58… Director of Expansion at Repair the World, Kate Belza

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Marshall Brachman turns 68… Israeli cryptographer, he is a co-inventor of the RSA algorithm and one of the inventors of differential cryptanalysis, Adi Shamir turns 66… Founder of Tumblr, which he sold to Yahoo in 2013 for $1.1 billion, David Karp turns 32… Josh Lipson… Jeannie Gerzon

SATURDAY: Early collaborator on object oriented computer programming in the 1970s, Adele Goldberg turns 73… Israeli billionaire business mogul with vast holdings in energy (Delek Group) and real estate (El-Ad Group), Yitzhak Tshuva turns 70… Pioneer of Israeli punk rock, nicknamed “HaMeshuga,”Rami Fortis turns 64… Senior Director at the Center for American Progress, formerly at CNN, Rachel Rosen… Shalom Klein… Birthright’s Amy Handman

SUNDAY: Emmy Award-winning singer and actor, part of the duo “Steve and Eydie.” Steve Lawrence (born Sidney Liebowitz) turns 83… Retired in 2016 after 26 years as Executive Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, Arthur “Art” Abramson turns 70… Attorney and former United States Ambassador to Belgium (2009-2013), Howard Gutman turns 62… Longtime member of Knesset who has served as Israel’s Foreign Minister, Justice Minister, Agriculture Minister and Housing Minister, Tzipi Livni turns 60… Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Beaumont, Texas since 2009, Rabbi Joshua S. Taubturns 60… Washington D.C. bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Ron Kampeas turns 58… Managing Principal at Albright Stonebridge Group, former Clinton White House senior staffer, Dan K. Rosenthal turns 52… Managing director in the Baltimore office of Harbor Group International, Meir Raskas turns 48… Atlanta-based educator, activist and writer, Robbie Medwed turns 37… Tech and foreign affairs correspondent at the Israeli public broadcasting corporation, Amichai Stein




Daily Kickoff: Jewish Dems split on Ocasio-Cortez’s Israel views | Poland pivots | Ari Emanuel’s start at the top style | Daniel Gendelman’s Raya app

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Ed note: The Daily Kickoff newsletter will be on summer schedule until after the week of July 4th. News-cycle permitting, we’ll be publishing the Daily Kickoff intermittently during this time. Happy 4th and wishing all of you a wonderful summer! 

DRIVING THE CONVO — 2018 WATCH — Following the surprise win of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14 Congressional District on Tuesday, the Jewish Democratic Council of America announced that it is withholding its support of the Democratic nominee until she clarifies her views on Israel. “We disagree with her past statement regarding Israel, as well as her affiliation with the Democratic Socialists of America, which supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel,” the group said in a statement. “In the coming days and months, we hope to learn more about Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s views, but at the moment, her position on Israel is not in line with our values.”

J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami, however, argued that Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism of Israel’s response to the Gaza border protests “falls squarely within the bounds of the more open and frank political debate we’re seeing in this country about the policies of the Israeli government… We celebrate and continue to work to help create the political space for this change.”

What It Means For Israel If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Democrats’ Future — by Aiden Pink: “We’re seeing a pattern where the activist core of the Democratic Party is becoming highly critical of Israel almost as a default position,” Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson, who has written about this shift, told the Forward… The victories of many progressives in non-incumbent races means that this year’s roster of Democratic candidates is likely to be more liberal than in the past, Johnson predicted. And that could have implications for the 2020 primaries… “It’s easy to establish a situation… where the younger candidate would seize on Israel as a way of highlighting his or her progressive credentials.” [Forward]

Ocasio-Cortez denounced Thomas Lopez-Pierre, known for his attacks on “greedy Jewish landlords,”  after a video surfaced showing him at her election night victory party and volunteering for her campaign: “No idea who this guy is, hundreds of folks walked into the hall open to the public last night. I absolutely denounce any such bigoted and reprehensible statements.”

BIG IN BLOOMFIELD — Epstein fundraiser canceled over her Trump support — by Jonathan Oosting, Melissa Nann Burke and Beth LeBlanc: “A campaign fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate [in Michigan’s 11th District] Lena Epstein scheduled for Wednesday was abruptly canceled by the board of the Franklin Hills Country Club over her political views, she alleged… The apparent cancellation of the Epstein fundraiser came a week after a Facebook post by Michael Simon, the son of a former president of the club, who expressed concerns about Epstein’s support for Trump’s border and immigration policies. “Franklin Hills was founded in 1927 because Jews were not permitted to be members elsewhere,” Simon wrote in the since-deleted post… Simon called on Franklin Hills members and the wider Jewish community to disassociate themselves from Epstein.” [DetroitNews]

INSIDE THE WH — Behind Ivanka’s Silence on the Border Crisis — by Emily Jane Fox: “People who know the First Daughter… were baffled as to how she botched her messaging in such a major way. “She had a free pass on this one in particular, for two reasons,” one adviser told me. “For one, her dad was obviously going to change the policy anyway, because it was so unsustainable… She could have easily said to her father, ‘Look, I’m going to just say what Melania said,’ or she could have said something without telling her dad, and if he got angry, she could have said, ‘I was just following Melania’s lead,’ and it would have been fine.” For people familiar with the father-daughter dynamic, the president’s decision to mention her concerns suggested they had coordinated their messaging… Trump was probably trying to protect her, this person added, but ended up undermining her.” [VanityFair]

TOP TALKER — Retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Jewish legacy — by Charles Dunst: “In the last few years, Justice Kennedy has loomed large at the Supreme Court because he so often cast a deciding swing vote, often in historic ways, as in [same-sex marriage] or Citizens United,” Marc Stern, general counsel at the American Jewish Committee, told JTA. “While he was not the liberal justice many Jews would no doubt have preferred, he served as a reminder that constitutional law and the Supreme Court can be something other than pure predictable partisan politics.” [JTA]

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER — Poland Backs Down on Holocaust Bill After International Criticism — by Matt Surman and Dov Lieber: “Poland unexpectedly backed down Wednesday on a controversial libel law… softening measures that threaten prison to those who say the nation was complicit in the Holocaust… In a joint statement, Israel and Poland agreed that the term is “blatantly erroneous and diminishes the responsibility of Germans for establishing those camps.” The statement also said the two countries “acknowledge and condemn every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles during World War II.” [WSJReuters]

BEHIND THE SCENES — Secret backchannel talks ended Israel-Poland crisis over Holocaust law — by Barak Ravid: “Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to open backchannel talks with the Polish government and appointed two close confidants to lead them – Yossi Ciechanover, the former director general of the foreign ministry, and Jacob Nagel, his former national security adviser. Ciechanover and Nagel negotiated with two Polish members of parliament from the ruling party, who were appointed for the mission by Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The negotiation teams met secretly several times in the last few months, during which time Netanyahu and Morawiecki also spoke several times, and drafted an amended bill.” [Axios

HOW IT PLAYED — Holocaust Law in Poland Is Weakened After ‘Storm and Consternation’ — by Marc Santora: “Both houses of Parliament voted on Wednesday to remove the criminal penalties, after an emotional session that saw one nationalist lawmaker try to block access to the podium. President Andrzej Duda later signed the measure into law… Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz, of the Modern party, wondered why it had taken so long to see how much harm the law had done. “Why so late?” she said during the debate on Wednesday. “Why did so much have to be broken?””[NYTimes] • Leonid Bershidsky: Poland Waters Down Its Holocaust Law to Placate Trump [Bloomberg]

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, tells us… “The amendment to the Polish Holocaust law removing the criminal penalties is welcome but far from resolving the issue. The law is still offensive. It is an effort to rewrite recent history and smacks of Holocaust revisionism. It tries to obliterate whitewash any collaboration that existed and draws a moral equivalence between Jews and Poles as victims. The action in the Polish parliament falls far short from repairing the damage the law created. Anti-Semitism is not equivalent to anti-Polish-ism. The law needs to be repealed not amended.”

COMING SOON — Hungarian PM Viktor Orban to Visit Israel Next Month — by Noa Landau: “Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is slated to visit Israel on July 19. The visit was coordinated at a meeting of national security advisers of the Visegrad group… [that] includes Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.” [Haaretz]

ON THE HILL — Congress seeks to hand off Israel boycott fight to Trump — by Bryant Harris: “The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to advance the controversial Israel Anti-Boycott Act on Thursday… The latest version of the bill under consideration makes a major change by directing the Donald Trump administration to implement anti-boycott regulations… While [Rep. Peter] Roskam’s initial bill applied to “any United States person,” the latest version is more restrictive. Instead, the regulations to be reviewed would more narrowly apply to businesses and their employees.” [Al-Monitor]

Pompeo Outlines Plans for Global Challenges, Including Venezuela and Palestinian Refugees — by Gardiner Harris: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks came during a hearing in the Senate that was intended to discuss his department’s budget… As schools in Jordan for Palestinian refugees come close to shuttering because of the Trump administration’s decision to suspend funding for the United Nations agency that operates them, Mr. Pompeo said that “I think we’re getting closer to a solution” that would allow the United States to fund the schools. Mr. Pompeo acknowledged that European allies remained unhappy about the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear accord; he described “difficult discussions” over the issue.” [WashPost]

— Pompeo on Syria: “The Assad regime has been enormously successful in what’s coming up to seven years of war, but from America’s perspective it seems to me that Iran is the greatest threat [in Syria] and we ought to focus on that.”[CSPAN]

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “Before the Iran nuclear agreement was signed Prime Minister Netanyahu and others said that Iran was only weeks or months away from building an atomic bomb… Was Mr. Netanyahu right that they are only weeks away from building a nuclear weapon?

Pompeo: “I don’t want to get into the details of intelligence, but I think we have publicly said before that they have a breakup capacity that is in a number of months — 12 months to be precise.” [CSPAN]

REPORT — Trump will demand of Putin a total Iranian exit from Syria — by Stuart Winer: “President Donald Trump intends to demand from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a full Iranian pullout from Syria territory, making the subject a priority in talks between the two leaders planned for next month, the Arabic-language Al-Hayat newspaper reported… The diplomat also said Washington had given Israel a “green light” to strike Iranian military assets in Syria.” [ToI]

HEARD AT THE ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL — Former Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell — on Trump’s Iran deal exit: “When the president was tweeting about me on the Iran deal I did not respond on that, and I would rather respond on the substance of the Iran deal which is one of the worst decisions ever made by a president and that will come home to roost.” (Kerry was almost assuredly referring to Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal but you can read that quote again and watch it here)

Kerry on Trump’s border separation policy: “Think of that. The United States of America, with those glorious words on the Statue of Liberty, we are separating children, and in some cases, mothers have been told we’re just taking your kid away for a bath and they take the kid away for a bath. When have people been told we’re just taking people away to do something else and what happened. We cannot enter that stage… We have to change it.”

Kerry on 2020: “It’s possible [that an independent could run]. It’s very, very difficult, but with enough time and energy – depending what happens – it might be possible. I think what we ought to do is stop focusing on 2020. I don’t think 2020 matters today. There’s one thing that matters today: winning control of the United States Congress in 2018, and that’s what everybody’s energy ought to be dedicated toward.” [Video

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Kushner peace push undermined by Trump’s policies — by Laura Rozen: “They raised expectations by going out there and doing that round of region trip,” Martin Indyk… told Al-Monitor… “I think that they are waiting for a ripening and it’s not coming,” Indyk, now with the Brookings Institution, said. “I don’t think [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi [Netanyahu] particularly wants a plan. … But I am confident he has made sure whatever is in the plan, he can live with and won’t bring his government down. So he can say ‘yes, but I have reservations,’ and invite the Palestinians to say no.” [Al-Monitor

Sen. Dianne Feinstein writes… “Donald Trump policies are hurting Palestinians and Middle East peace prospects: President Trump’s heartless cuts to humanitarian assistance to Gaza sent a clear message that the lives of Palestinians don’t matter to his administration. And his rash decision to move the embassy forfeited our ability to appear as an independent arbitrator of this crisis…  If the president is serious about brokering the ultimate deal, he’ll begin to repair some of the damage created by his policies. He should start by demanding that Israel halt West Bank settlement expansion and… then restore humanitarian assistance and lead the world in rebuilding Gaza.” [USAToday]

Max Boot and Sue Mi Terry write… “Trump can’t make a ‘deal of the century’: We have not seen any evidence that Kim [Jong Un] will prove any bolder or more courageous than the Palestinian leaders in seeking peace. Unelected autocrats cannot easily afford to dissolve the ideological glue holding their ramshackle regimes together no matter how many riches we dangle before their eyes. When it comes to both the Palestinians and North Korea, the best we may realistically hope for is to manage the conflict — with Hamas, for example, perhaps agreeing not to rocket Israel and with Kim perhaps agreeing to scale back his nuclear arsenal.” [WashPost

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmannat a dedication ceremony for the Zionist Organization of America’s new offices in Midtown: “In my opinion, this is the golden time, these are the greatest days that Israel has had in modern times. It is so great. I am so thrilled. Donald Trump took the biggest propaganda cudgel off the table by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It is game over for the enemies of Israel. They understand how powerful our president was by removing this cudgel. What else do they have? They have got absolutely nothing on the international stage because the greatest economic and military superpower on earth has said Israel belongs to the Jewish people and Jerusalem is its capital, and this has changed the whole dynamic internationally.” [Pic

Ran Baratz, a former spokesperson for Prime Minister Netanyahu whose appointment was strongly opposed by the Obama Administration: “I was there when Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump spoke for the first time on the phone. At the end of the conversation, Netanyahu said, ‘I never had anything like that. This is the first time.’ Because Netanyahu always has a Democratic president, and this is the first time with a Republican president. He said, ‘This is a different kind of conversation I’ve ever had. Where do we go from here? It’s a new situation.'” [Pic]

Baratz on Obama’s refusal to veto UNSC 2334: “Obama not only refused to veto, he let the resolution pass. I know what kind of communications were going back and forth, and it’s ridiculous to ask him to veto his own decision.”

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in an interview with Jewish News: “There is no question Trump is a friend of Israel, but I am not alone in having some doubts about the practical outcome of some of his policies… I also have enormous respect for Obama… In his eight years as president, Obama only once abstained on a UN vote on Israel at the UN, and only then after endless provocative actions by the prime minister of Israel, coming to the US Congress in complete opposition to the policy of the President. So in terms of Obama and Israel, I have no complaints.” [JewishNews

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Amazon buys PillPack, an online pharmacy that was rumored to be talking to Walmart [TechCrunch] • Crown family, Tishman Speyer ink Origami Risk to office lease [TheRealDeal] • Kushner group sues Jersey City over stalled tower project, alleging anti-Trump bias [JerseyJournal] • eBay Israel Laying Off Dozens of Employees [Calcalist]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Can Raya Install a Wondrous Utopia While Also Helping Celebrities Hook Up? — by Kevin Roose: “Daniel Gendelman, 34, is handsome and thinly bearded. He wore a white T-shirt and ordered plain oatmeal when I met him recently in a Venice Beach restaurant. In 2014, he was staying in Israel, recovering from the failure of his previous start-up, a social discovery app called Yello. And he was striking out on Tinder… Mr. Gendelman thought, what if there were an app that felt more like a dinner party — an intimate, thoroughly vetted collection of interesting people having candid conversations? He put together a small team and began to build. He called the app Raya, after the Hebrew word for friend, and seeded it with a group of his friends in Los Angeles. “I tried to solve a big problem for a small amount of people,” Mr. Gendelman said.” [NYTimes]

Revealed: Netanyahu’s secret Manhattan apartment — by Shlomit Tsur: “The apartment located on 5th Avenue… in Manhattan in which Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon lives… is registered in the prime minister’s name… The Fifth Avenue home was bought for $99,000. The apartment is in a building managed as a tenant corporation, and “Globes” holds the share certificate confirming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the registered owner of the property. Two years after it was purchased, the property was valued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at $4 million… Research by “Globes” has put the value of the property today at about $15 million.”[Globes]

ROYAL VISIT — Britain’s Prince William visits Jerusalem holy sites, great-grandmother’s tomb — by Jeffrey Heller: “Accompanied by rabbis, William walked up to the Western Wall through a passage formed across the plaza by police barricades that held back a crowd of onlookers. Wearing a skullcap and following a Jewish tradition of offering a written prayer at the wall, he placed a note between its stones, rested the palm of one hand against them and leaned forward in silent reflection… Before visiting the site, William, second in line to the British throne, made a pilgrimage to the Jerusalem tomb of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who was honored by Israel for sheltering Jews in Nazi-occupied Greece during the Holocaust.” [Reuters]

— Dan Williams tweets“Seems the Israeli authorities took the note themselves as a precaution – presumably to re-inter it in the wall later, and anonymously.”

U.S.-Israeli teen convicted in Israel for bomb threats during Trump’s rise — by Dan Williams: “An Israeli-American teenager was found guilty in Israel on Thursday of making about 2,000 hoax bomb threats against Jewish and other institutions in the United States and elsewhere during Donald Trump’s rise to the U.S. presidency in 2016 and 2017… [Michael] Kadar was found guilty of counts including extortion, disseminating hoaxes in order to spread panic, money laundering and computer hacking over bomb and shooting threats… The counts each carry potential jail terms of several years. The court did not immediately set a date for Kadar’s sentencing.” [Reuters

Many Gazan Women Are No Longer Able to Enter Israel for Cancer Treatment — by Ruth Margalit: “It’s not because treating Palestinian patients places undue financial burden on Israel. More than ninety percent of Gazans’ medical bills are covered by the Palestinian Health Ministry, or by the patients themselves. And it’s not because of last month’s violent protests at the border fence: the decline in permit approvals preceded them. Instead, the reason appears to be growing pressure from the family of an Israeli soldier who was killed in Gaza in 2014. Hamas has refused to return his body and that of another slain soldier… One Gazan woman was recently turned down for treatment because her brother is a member of Hamas; another because her father had once resided in Israel illegally.” [NewYorker]

Shmuel Rosner writes… “Israel’s Conversion Dilemma: The Jewish state has already changed the course of Jewish culture and identity in myriad ways. It can change it once again by redefining conversion. To do this, it should secularize conversion. Cast aside the priorities of religious leaders in determining the boundaries of Jewishness and establish the authority of the state and its political leaders to make such determinations. This would be a regime change. Rabbis out, political leaders in. And it would most likely ruffle some feathers. But in the long run it would also solve a lot of problems. Political leaders can do what rabbis cannot do.” [NYT]

LONG-READ: Jimmy Carter for Higher Office — by Michael Paterniti: “The people of Plains were proud of the celebrity Mr. Jimmy had bestowed on their little town. And the occasional luminaries he brought, too: Menachem Begin had been here, and Anwar Sadat. When Yasser Arafat visited, the mayor gave him a key to the city, and Arafat kissed him on both cheeks. (“I don’t think our mayor has ever gotten over the kiss,” says Mr. Jimmy.)” [GQ]

— Happening on Saturday at Aspen Ideas: “Stuart Eizenstat gives a front row seat to the Carter White House, brought to life with personal profiles of the men and women who made history during the turbulence of the 1970s. David Rubenstein, President Carter’s deputy domestic policy adviser, guides this candid conversation about America’s political past.”

A Spymaster Steps Out of the Shadows — by Mattathias Schwartz: “The most famous case in which things went wrong was a 2015 drone strike in Pakistan. Along with the intended Qaeda targets, the strike killed two Western aid workers being held hostage: Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian, and Warren Weinstein, an American… In the White House, [John] Brennan took responsibility for Weinstein’s death, according to one person who was present. He personally apologized to Obama and briefed him on it, twice, in exhaustive detail. Over lunch, Brennan did not deny that this had happened but declined to share his side. “People will tell you whatever they want,” he said. “There are certain things I’m not going to get into.” [NYTimesMag]

HOLLYWOOD — Why a Hollywood hotshot emailed Pruitt’s top aide — by Scott Waldman: “When Ari Emanuel — the co-CEO of the William Morris Endeavor entertainment company… had a question about environmental rules, he got in touch with EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson… “Anything going on?” he wrote on June 7, followed by “Is there a good time to talk?” A source close to Emanuel told E&E News that it’s Emanuel’s style to talk directly with the head of an organization when he wants to get something done. For instance, when Emanuel has an issue about his local Starbucks, he just calls Howard Schultz, the company’s executive chairman, the source explained.”[E&Enews]

Comedy Central tells the ‘Drunk History’ story of Eichmann’s capture — by Amy Spiro: “The story of the Mossad capture of Adolf Eichmann is already being turned into a Hollywood drama. But before that film is released, the dramatic operation has been given the Drunk History treatment. One of the sketches in an episode of the popular Comedy Central show that aired Tuesday night featured actress Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) retelling the tale of Eichmann’s capture… Bloom begins with the establishment of the State of Israel, and the formation of the Mossad – with its director, Isser Harel, portrayed by Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Veep)… Eichmann is portrayed, jarringly, by Weird Al Yankovic.” [JPostVideo

BIRTHDAYS: Former member of Congress for 16 years and now CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Jane Harman turns 73… Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, Brian L. Roberts turns 59… Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award winning actor, movie director, composer and comedian, Mel Brooks (born Melvin James Kaminsky) turns 92… Former United States Senator from Michigan (1979-2015), including 8 years as Chairman of Armed Services, now on the faculty at Wayne State University Law School, Carl Levin turns 84…  Political consultant, community organizer and author, he is married to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Robert Creamer turns 71… Novelist, journalist, conservative commentator and senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, Mark Helprin turns 71… Documentary producer and director and television editor for broadcast and cable production companies, James Ruxin turns 70…

Member of the California State Senate (2012-2016), following two terms in the State Assembly (2008-2012), Martin Jeffrey “Marty” Block turns 68… Attorney for President Donald Trump during portions of 2017, Marc Kasowitz turns 66… Israeli journalist and author, Amira Hass turns 62… Rabbi of the Har Bracha community in the Shomron and Rosh Yeshiva of the hesder yeshiva there, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed turns 57… Principal of GPS Investment Partners, chairman of Chiron Investment Management, former president of Apollo Global Management, Marc Spilker turns 54… Actress and singer, Jessica Hecht turns 53… Member of Knesset since 2013 as a member of the Labor Party / Zionist Union, Michal Biran turns 40… Toltzy Kornbluh turns 37… Paralegal in the white collar and corporate investigations group at Quinn Emanuel since 2017, Molly Rosen… Saralee Rosen… Mark Winkler Mark Ziven

Kafe Knesset for August 24

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bibi-Putin bromance – the aftermath: Before Bibi headed to Putin’s dacha in Sochi, politicians across the political spectrum wished him luck. But now that the meeting is over,…

Netanyahu tells Congress: Remove sunset clause from Iran deal

Thursday, August 24, 2017

WASHINGTON – During a meeting with Republican Congressmen this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the lawmakers to “get rid of the sunset clause” from the 2015…

Kafe Knesset for August 23

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

While Bibi is meeting Putin in Sochi, the US special envoy to Syria, Michael Ratney, is in Jerusalem this week, Kafe Knesset has learned. Ratney will be meeting…

Rep. Smucker Rebukes Palestinian PM for Terror Payments

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – Fresh off a trip to Israel with 32 other Republican House Members, Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) slammed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for justifying payments to…

Kafe Knesset for August 22

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dasvidaniya, Bibi: Netanyahu is preparing for a day trip to Sochi, Russia. There, he will be meeting President Putin tomorrow for the sixth time in the past two…

Kafe Knesset for August 21

Monday, August 21, 2017

Instructions from the top? This Saturday night marked the 39th consecutive week of protests near Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit’s home. The demonstrators continue to call for Netanyahu to…