Daily Kickoff: Lectures on the lunch menu for Naftali Bennett | Tzipi Livni walks into a New York deli

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SCENE YESTERDAY — Lectures on the lunch menu for Naftali Bennett: When Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, entered the Drawing Room at the Harold Pratt House in New York City for lunch on Wednesday, he was not in familiar territory. Yes, to Bennett’s right sat the bow tie-clad conservative philanthropist Roger Hertog and across the table a friend in financier and Birthright founder Michael Steinhardt. However, for Bennett, the other dozen Jewish Americans at the Council on Foreign Relations represented views that rarely share the same tent as his own.

On Bennett’s literal and figurative left sat the event’s moderator Martin Indyk. Acknowledging the starkly differing political views, Bennett compared the roundtable conversation to a Passover Seder among family members who don’t see eye to eye. “You and I view many things differently but I am not giving up,” Bennett declared. “I am not giving up on the future of our relationship.”

During his introductory remarks, Bennett — who travelled to Pittsburgh on Sunday to express the Israeli government’s solidarity with the families of the victims and the local Jewish community — put into doubt the perception that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. has increased under President Trump. “I am not sure at all that there’s a surge in anti-Semitism in America,” Bennett mused. Bennett also doubled down on a series of tweets in which he praised President Trump as “a true friend of the State of Israel and to the Jewish people.”

Henry Siegman was not impressed. Born in Germany in 1930, Siegman noted that as a survivor of the Nazi era he “knows something about anti-Semitism.” Siegman, a critic of certain Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, proceeded to lecture Bennett for failing to acknowledge that Trump has fostered an atmosphere that allows hate and anti-Semitism to flourish. Siegman pointed out that a vast majority of American Jews are worried and concerned about Trump’s rhetoric and policies. “It is not very wise of you coming to tell us that this is not your problem just because he’s helping Israel,” he warned Bennett. [Pic]

Edward Bleier, a former Warner Bros. president, told Bennett: “Some of us are older than you are and we recall the pre-war period in America when the Nazis convened in Madison Square Garden and paraded on 96th street with brown shirts and swastikas. And the rallying cry of the anti-Semites was ‘America First.’ So my hair stands on end when I hear an American president invoke that line.” Read in full here [JewishInsider]

Bennett to the Wall Street Journal: “Any attempt to blame President Trump for this horrific attack is simply wrong and unfair.”

Abe Foxman tells us… “I think Israeli officials and Israeli representatives should come and stand in solidarity with the American Jewish community in a time of pain and anguish and tragedy. I don’t think they should come to the United States and stand in solidarity with the President of the United States, especially during an election period. I can thank Trump on one hand for the good things that he’s done, but that does not take away from me the right to be able to criticize him on issues of value and that I feel are part of our tradition.”

“Mr. Bennett is a great expert on education in Israel, may be a great expert on security in Israel, but he’s far from being an expert on the level of anti-Semitism in the United States. He certainly is not a maven — even though he’s head of the Diaspora division — as to the statistics, the findings, and the level of anti-Semitism. The fact is, whether it’s exactly the statistics that organizations like the ADL are bringing forth, there is serious anti-Semitism in America, and there has been.”

Bennett on fighting anti-Semitism on the left: “I dived into this world of anti-Semitism in America over the past few days. I saw — I couldn’t believe it — this video of just a week ago of Louis Farrakhan who compared Jews to termites. It was horrible what this guy said. But what was more horrible is how the audience responded. He got a standing ovation for comparing Jews to termites, for heaven’s sake. I think this should have opened all TV shows, all news. This guy is not a meaningless person in the U.S. He compared Jews to termites and he got a round of applause… We have to condemn the David Dukes of the world, the Louis Farrakhans of this world. We have to stand up to anti-Semitism whenever it’s there.” [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY ― Former Senator Norm Coleman on CNN Newsroom: “We have no place in the Republican Party for bigots [and] for the far right. By the way, the Dems should do the same. President [Bill] Clinton sat next to Louis Farrakhan, who talks about Jews as termites. Where is the outrage?”

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro writes… “Memo To Israelis: America Is Sitting Shiva. Your Job Is To Listen: Israel has much to offer to the discussion on the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in America. But as you make your rounds this week, please listen. Even if you hear things you disagree with. Please don’t bring politics into the discussion, in your private visits or your public remarks on these events. Not during shiva. Please don’t lecture us on how we should feel… And while Israeli leaders naturally and appropriately seek to maintain the best possible relationship with the President of the United States, the bipartisan basis of the U.S.-Israel relationship is best preserved when Israel does not become a political football.” [Forward]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT ― After the Pittsburgh Shooting, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Receives an Outpouring of Support — by Masha Gessen: “During the first week of the Trump Administration, Mark Hetfield, the president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), sent the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a copy of a file. It documented Kushner’s grandparents’ immigration to the United States… Hetfield wanted to put HIAS on Kushner’s radar… Hetfield never heard back from Kushner: not then, and not after a shooter—apparently moved by his hatred of HIAS and refugees—opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue… HIAS has not heard from President Trump, either, nor from Mike Pompeo… even though HIAS is a State Department contractor.” [NewYorker]

UN Secretary-General António Guterres at an interfaith memorial held yesterday at the Park East Synagogue: “I worked with HIAS for many years. It’s the most fantastic humanitarian organization I have ever met. They are the true expression of humanitarianism, but also of humanism and solidarity… And I was shocked that this organization that is the symbol of everything I can see is good in the world was being used as a pretext to justify this horrendous act.” [Video]

How Vilification of George Soros Moved From the Fringes to the Mainstream — by Ken Vogel, Scott Shane and Patrick Kingsley: “Soros is vilified because he is effective,” said Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former campaign strategist and White House adviser… “I only hope one day I’m as effective as he has been — and as vilified,” Mr. Bannon said… “He’s a banker, he’s Jewish, he gives to Democrats — he’s sort of a perfect storm for vilification by the right, here and in Europe,” said Michael H. Posner, a human rights lawyer and former State Department official in the Obama administration.”

“When friends reached out to express concern for his safety after the pipe bomb news broke, Mr. Soros… changed the subject to what he called “the damage” being done by the Trump administration, said his political adviser, Michael Vachon. Mr. Vachon said that Mr. Soros in recent days has drawn a connection from the president’s rhetorical attacks on his critics to the pipe bombs and even to the killing of 11 people on Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue. In an email to The New York Times, Mr. Soros said he was grieving for the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting and their families. He added: “I came to this country to find refuge. I am deeply distressed that in America in 2018 Jews are being massacred just because they are Jewish.” [NYTimes]

DRIVING THE CONVO — How Will Pittsburgh’s Jews Translate Tragedy Into Action? — by Emma Green: “Some Jews in Pittsburgh may support Trump. Still others… may think that, whatever their personal feelings, it’s right to welcome the president when he comes to town after a national tragedy. But there were disagreements even among those who didn’t want Trump to come. Bend the Arc focused its protest on defending immigrants and minorities and denouncing white nationalism and anti-Semitism. If Not Now shared those goals, but added to them: Diana Clarke… told me that the goal of the “civil disobedience” that followed the main protest “was to have a public space for mourning for folk murdered on Saturday that did not celebrate the police.”

“Perhaps it’s fitting that Pittsburgh’s Jews are turning this horrible moment into a chance to fight for what they believe—even if they occasionally fight with one another. It is, in its own way, a defiant return to normalcy. “Isn’t that what we do?” [Joshua] Friedman said. “We argue.” [TheAtlantic]

Leslie Wexner blames Trump’s rhetoric for Pittsburgh synagogue shooting —by Alana Abramson: “For Les Wexner, Saturday’s shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue wasn’t just an attack on his faith; it was a reaffirmation of his decision to leave the Republican Party… “I think it’s more than coincidence,” Wexner told TIME… “I think that clearly it’s the tone at the top.”[Time]

Amb. David Friedman to Jews: Stop fighting over Pittsburgh massacre: “The monster who killed 11 precious souls in Pittsburgh must also be denied a victory,” Friedman said at a solidarity event the Anti-Defamation League hosted Wednesday night at Beit Hatfutsot… in Tel Aviv… “We must never allow him the satisfaction that he so craves of inflicting lasting damage upon the Jewish people… We can never allow ourselves to be divided over the pointless exercise of assigning blame to anyone but the killer himself. It plays right into his sick and demented mind.” [JPost]

Behind the Scenes of Trump’s Fraught, Controversial Visit to Pittsburgh — by Emily Jane Fox: “Staffers were going back and forth on the topic over the weekend. Jason Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, who work closely with [Jared] Kushner, were dispatched to Pittsburgh on Sunday to attend public events as the faces of the administration. Privately, they stopped by area schools and spoke to local leaders and community members to take the temperature about how a presidential visit would be perceived. As part of the process, Kushner was involved in the details of the visit coming together, including joining advance calls to set up what the president might do when he did visit.” [VanityFair]

Pittsburgh rabbi was ‘pleasantly surprised’ by Trump — by Megan Keller: “The president was very warm, very consoling,” Jeffrey Myers said… “He put his hand on my shoulder and the first question he asked me was, ‘rabbi, tell me how are you doing?’ And I must say, throughout the time we spent together, I was pleasantly surprised by a warm and personal side to the president that I don’t think America has ever seen.” [TheHill]

HEARD ON THE TRAIL — President Trump at a campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida: “After this day of unity and togetherness, I came home and, sadly, turned on the news and watched as the far-left media once again used tragedy to sow anger and division. Sadly, they took a small group of protesters [who were] far away from where we were. We could not have been treated better, the first lady and myself. But we’re representing the presidency, and [the media] did everything in their power to try to play it up and push people apart.” [Video]

MIDTERMS —Congressional candidate says Jews need to arm themselves, are ‘stupid’ to attack Trump —by Bill Gallo: “Jews in America today are in danger of being beaten and killed for just being Jews just like my grandparents when they lived in Eastern Europe more than 100 years ago,” Republican Seth Grossman said in a press release… Grossman went to Twitter Wednesday morning with a series of posts calling for Jews in the U.S. to arm themselves.” [NJAdvance]

Embattled Iowa Lawmaker King Says Ted Cruz Expressed His Support — by Sahil Kapur: “Representative Steve King of Iowa, who has been abandoned by Republican leaders and donors over his embrace of white nationalists and for rhetoric that has been denounced as racist, said he got a supportive phone call from Senator Ted Cruz of Texas… Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier called the conversation “a personal call, and Senator Cruz told him the same thing he said to reporters today,” she said. Cruz was quoted by the Dallas Morning News as calling King’s remarks “disappointing” and divisive but he didn’t condemn the congressman.”[Bloomberg]

NJ Senate — Democrats in an All-Hands-on-Deck Scramble to Save Menendez in New Jersey — by Nick Corasaniti and Jonathan Martin: “New Jersey’s leading Democrats — including [Cory] Booker, who has been spending much of his time out of state preparing for a widely expected presidential bid — are pleading for voters to rally behind [Bob] Menendez. The senator’s campaign has sought to highlight the stakes by broadcasting a commercial portraying a vote for [Bob] Hugin as a vote for Mr. Trump.”[NYTimes]

Midterms in Hamptons: Where Both Sides Love Israel and Being Jewish Doesn’t Matter — by Brian Schaefer: “Republican Lee Zeldin and his Democratic challenger Perry Gershon both more or less subscribe to their respective party’s lines… But there’s one issue on which both are aligned: Israel… Both candidates agree that the Trump administration’s relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last May was the right move. “Zeldin and I are in agreement that the American embassy belongs in Jerusalem,” Gershon tells Haaretz. “We disagree on how the move was done, but once it’s done I don’t believe you should move it back.”

“Unfortunately, politics have divided us more than united us, and the fact that both candidates are Jewish doesn’t help the situation,” says Rabbi Joshua Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons… “The Democrats in our community aren’t comforted that Zeldin is Jewish, and the Republicans aren’t comforted that Gershon is Jewish,” he adds. ” [Haaretz]

This Democrat Is Trying To Win A Trump-Loving District By Taking Trump’s Style — by Darren Sands: “Trump, himself an outer-borough guy, remains wildly popular here on Staten Island, where [Max] Rose, a 31-year-old vet, is running as a Democrat in a district that extends into Brooklyn and leans Republican. Rose leaned in and sounded a little like one of those Democrats who say that even though Trump’s vision for the country was flawed and dark and divisive, it was still a vision… He’s contorted himself into a political force: a gregarious but relatable policy wonk, a veteran for the forgotten man in the straight-talking, swashbuckling, swamp-draining mold of Donald Trump.”[BuzzFeed]

Son, daughter oppose father’s election to Missouri House: “The son and daughter of a Missouri House candidate are urging people not to vote for him because he regularly espouses racial and homophobic views and dislikes Jews and Muslims. Steve West, 64, gained attention after winning the August Republican primary for a northwest Missouri House seat when word spread about views he frequently expressed on a radio show.” [AP]

DC DISPATCH — Trump Won’t Punish Allies for Buying Iranian Oil Despite Sanctions — by Laura Kelly: National Security Advisor John Bolton said Wednesday that the Trump administration is unlikely to impose harsh punishments on American allies who continue to buy Iranian oil after new sanctions are imposed on November 5. “We want to achieve maximum pressure but we don’t want to harm friends and allies either and we’re working our way through that,” Bolton said, addressing the Alexander Hamilton Society.

Despite the expected setback, Bolton said the effect of the August sanctions have already borne fruit and that Iranian crude oil purchases have decreased in China and European businesses are “fleeing the Iranian market.” “I think people understand there has to be fundamental change in the behavior of the Iranian regime to get them back to the [negotiating] table.” [JewishInsider] • As New Sanctions Loom, U.S. Push Against Iran Faces Steep Obstacles [NYTimesWSJ]

ON THE HILL — Khashoggi Killing Spurs Senate Fury Over Nuclear-Power Talks — by  Ari Natter and Ethan Bronner: “A group of Republican senators is urging a halt to talks on selling U.S. nuclear power equipment to Saudi Arabia in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi… [Sen. Marco] Rubio is considering introducing legislation to block a U.S.-Saudi nuclear pact through a legally binding joint resolution of disapproval… A House bill introduced by Florida Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in March would require congressional approval for so-called 123 agreements if they don’t maintain the “gold standard” barring enrichment and reprocessing of uranium… A growing number of senators seemed to share [that] view, bolstered by Israel’s publicly stated concern that nuclear proliferation in the Arab world, even with a budding ally like Saudi Arabia, was a threat to its security.” [Bloomberg]

Norm Coleman on CNN: “So I work for the Saudis on dealing with the Iranian threat to the region. Whatever’s gone on [with Khashoggi] is terrible, and let’s figure that out. But the bottom line is the strategic relationship is going to continue. And so what I can do to be helpful to make sure that Iran cannot do its mischievous deeds in the region, cannot threaten the existence of Israel — if I can be helpful in that regard, I’m going to try to continue to be helpful.”[Video]

Aaron David Miller and Hillel Zand write: “In the Middle East, Progress Without Peace: Netanyahu appears to be dealing with an Arab world ready to engage incrementally with Israel despite that fact that a peace deal is not forthcoming. In a volatile and combustible Middle East, the prime minister should enjoy his thaw while it lasts.” [TheAtlantic]

ON THE GROUND — Iran Ally Hezbollah Pays Syrian Rebels to Switch Sides — by Sune Engel Rasmussen and Suha Ma’aye: “Iran’s ally Hezbollah is paying former U.S.-backed rebels to switch sides and join a growing force in southern Syria, deepening its presence near Israel’s border after appearing to withdraw to avoid Israeli airstrikes, according to activists and a former rebel commander.” [WSJ]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Carl Icahn Commences Litigation Against Dell Technologies [BloombergReuters] • McKinsey’s Work for Saudi Arabia Highlights its History of Unsavory Entanglements [NewYorker] •
Michael Milken tells David Rubenstein how he changed Wall Street [Bloomberg] • How Mark Zuckerberg Became Too Big to Fail [NYTimes] • Australian-Israeli startup creates water-based fuel for electric vehicles [ToI] • Ben & Jerry’s Israel distances itself from political US flavor [JPost]

HAPPENING TODAY — BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, entrepreneur Peter Thiel, among others, are discussing how to navigate the challenges ahead at the NYTimes’ DealBook’s annual conference, titled Playing for the Long Term, in New York City. [LiveUpdates]

SPOTLIGHT —  The Scientist, The Investor And The CEO: How ‘Shots Fired!’ Technology Turned A Profit — by Elizabeth MacBride: “[Gary] Lauder, a grandson of cosmetics entrepreneur Estee Lauder, is a venture capitalist, though he rarely seeks publicity. He makes a handful of $500,000-$4 million investments each year. Last year, he made eight, he told me in an interview over the summer at the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Seminars, where I met him… He also collects maps. As he was scouting for maps to buy one day in 1998-99, he ended up in the map room of the U.S. geological survey in Menlo Park. He noticed a story on a bulletin board about triangulating gunshot sounds the same way that seismographs locate earthquakes, which led him to Dr. Bob’s work and ShotSpotter. A few years later, shortly after 9/11, Lauder remembered the story and found Dr. Bob…”[Forbes]

MEDIA WATCH — Here’s How Much Bots Drive Conversation During News Events: “On Sunday, one day after the [Pittsburgh synagogue] shooting, bots were driving 23 percent of the Twitter activity related to the incident, according to “These big crises happen, and there’s a flurry of social media activity, but it’s really hard to go back and see what’s being spread and get numbers around bot activity,” says Ash Bhat, a Robhat Labs cofounder. So the team built an internal tool. Now they’re launching it publicly, in hopes of helping newsrooms measure the true volume of conversation during breaking news events, apart from the bot-driven din.”[Wired] • From Silicon Valley elite to social media hate: The radicalization that led to Gab [WashPost]

CNN cools on hiring Trump alums — by Jason Schwartz and Gabby Orr: “CNN president Jeff Zucker has told people inside and outside the network that he’s not interested in hiring former officials he perceives as complicit in spreading falsehoods or spurious talking points… There is no hard rule in place, however, and Zucker would be interested in what he views as independent-minded officials who he thinks have avoided damaging their credibility, another of the people said, citing Nikki Haley, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as an example.” [Politico]

PROFILE — Can Israeli Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni Connect With American Jews? — by Abraham Riesman: “On a dreary Wednesday in late September, Tzipi Livni, the leader of the opposition in the Israeli government and a three-time near-miss candidate for prime minister, walked into a Jewish diner in midtown Manhattan with a sole publicist and no security detail, pursing her lips and raising her eyebrows as if to say, “Nu, this is the dump I’m stuck in?” She was in town for a few days on a meeting spree with foreign dignitaries during the U.N. General Assembly. I’d picked the location as a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see how one of the most prominent Jews in Israeli public life would react to an establishment that exemplified the sort of American Jewishness I’ve grown up with.”

“As it turned out, she was a little bewildered. She eschewed food in favor of a grapefruit juice (I told her that anything she ordered was on me, and she pointed to her gut and said, “It stays on me, later, so.”) and couldn’t quite suss out why she was there. “What makes this diner Jewish, by the way?” she asked. I told her it was the ambience, but also the cuisine: bagels, lox, challah rolls. “Okay,” she replied, “because what I see is the ketchup, so.” I asked her if ketchup is definitionally non-Jewish. “It’s basically American,” she said… The impasse may seem small, but it’s indicative of a larger disconnect that Livni and the rest of the Israeli opposition struggles with today.” [NYMag]

The Israeli Model Bar Refaeli Just Starred In A Clothing Ad Promoting “Freedom” By Showing Her Taking Off A Niqab — by Rose Troup Buchanan and Ikran Dahir: “Israeli model Bar Refaeli has starred in an Israeli clothing company’s advert that depicts her taking off a niqab in a campaign titled “freedom is basic.” The advert was published Oct. 29 on Instagram and YouTube… Both Refaeli and Hoodies had deleted the posts from their Instagram, as of Oct. 30… The beginning of the video is overlaid with Hebrew, which reads: “Iran is here?” before showing Refaeli taking off the niqab and hijab she is wearing.” [BuzzFeed]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Brooklyn Heights Residence Vandalized With Swastikas Amid Uptick In NYC Anti-Semitic Incidents — by Jame Offenhartz: “A residence in Brooklyn Heights was vandalized with swastikas and racial slurs on Tuesday night… A spokesperson for the NYPD tells Gothamist that there have been a total of 142 anti-Semitic hate crimes reported this year, up from 126 at this time in 2017. It appears that 26 of those incidents occurred in the last three weeks alone.” [Gothamist]

A Family Recovered Most of What the Nazis Stole. But Not This — by Catherine Hickley: “The family of Paul Rosenberg, a renowned Paris art dealer whose gallery had exclusive arrangements with Braque, Matisse and Picasso, has worked tirelessly, with tremendous success, to recover the 400 works the Nazis looted from him… But one pastel portrait by Edgar Degas, an image of particular importance to Paul Rosenberg, has proved to be maddeningly elusive… “It has been completely frustrating,” said Marianne Rosenberg, Paul’s granddaughter and an art dealer with a gallery in New York. “Something appears, then it disappears again and you lose it for another 20 years.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Rabbi of Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Congregation, Mitchell Wohlberg turns 74… Country singer, songwriter, novelist and humorist, his failed bid for Governor of Texas in 2006 won him 13% of the votes in a six-way race, Richard Samet “Kinky” Friedman turns 74… Pioneering investor in the personal computing industry, founder of Lotus and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mitch Kapor turns 68… Senior Rabbi at Beit T’Shuvah, a nonprofit Jewish addiction treatment center and synagogue community in Los Angeles, Mark Borovitz turns 67… Management analyst at the US Department of Energy, he was formerly a staffer for VPOTUS Dan Quayle (1989-93), Les Novitsky turns 61… Managing Director in the DC-office of AIPAC since 2014, he was previously AIPAC’s Western States director based in Los Angeles (2002-2014), Elliot Brandt turns 5-0…

Actress, born in Odessa, she is best known for her roles on All My Children, Days of Our Lives and General Hospital, Alla Korot turns 48… Principal at Calabasas, California-based CRC-Commercial Realty Consultants, he is a vice-chair of the real estate and construction division of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Brian Weisberg turns 46… Associate in the DC office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, she was a law clerk for USDC Judge Ellen Hollander in Baltimore, Clare F. Steinberg turns 30… Senior associate at the DC-based PR firm M+R, he was previously a communications fellow at the Schusterman Family Foundation, Mitchell Caminer turns 25… Pitcher in the KC Royals organization, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and became an Israeli citizen in 2018 so that he can play for Israel in the 2020 Olympics, Gabe Cramer turns 24… Researcher and producer for CNN’s political unit, Marshall Cohen… Grassroots engagement director since 2017 for Teach NYS at the at Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, she was previously AIPAC’s Director of South Shore Long Island, Annie Peck Watman




Daily Kickoff: Closing arguments from Jewish D’s & R’s | Natalie Portman clarifies she has no issue traveling to Israel | Gary Ginsberg to SoftBank

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TRANSITION — SoftBank Hires a Veteran Corporate Image-Maker — by Michael J. de la Merced and Andrew Ross Sorkin: “SoftBank plans to announce on Wednesday that it has hired Gary Ginsberg, a former top adviser to Rupert Murdoch, as its global head of communications. He will be based in New York and report to Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s founder and chief executive, and Marcelo Claure, its chief operating officer… Mr. Ginsberg’s most recent job was at Time Warner, where he was in the middle of the fight to defend its sale to AT&T.” [NYTimes]

Ginsberg commented“I have admired SoftBank’s evolution and growth for many years, and I’m thrilled to be joining them now at such a dynamic time when the Company’s mission to invest in some of the world’s most critical and defining new technologies has never been more important.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — Republicans and Democrats Struggle to Own Conversation on Jewish Vote — by Jacob Kornbluh: For the Republican Jewish Coalition following the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and the decision to back out of the Iran deal, Trump’s pro-Israel bona fides speak for themselves. But while the GOP feels confident in its appeal to pro-Israel voters, it struggles to dismiss what the Jewish Democratic Council of America describes as a troubling pattern of lending a sympathetic ear to neo-Nazis and white supremacists. In a set of dueling interviews with Jewish Insider, Matt Brooks and Halie Soifer, serving as executive directors of their respective organizations, parried each others’ criticisms and pounced on the vulnerabilities of the other side.

Brooks cited Trump’s achievements since taking office as proof that Republicans are the pro-Israel party. “The consequence of Donald Trump being elected president is that we now have a United States Embassy in Jerusalem, we now have recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We have ended the flawed Obama deal with Iran,” he listed. Democrats, however, see a growing culture of hatred as the larger issue affecting Jews. “What we have seen since Trump came to office is really, to some degree, the legitimization of Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, who all appear to have come out of the woodwork,” JDCA’s Soifer charged.

In turn, Brooks pointed to the Democratic Party’s acceptance of candidates “who advocate virulently anti-Israel positions,” singling out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, House candidates running unopposed in the general election. “Their silence and their unwillingness to stand up and to push back on these views and on these candidates fosters an environment in which people believe that holding these views and espousing these views is now part of the acceptable dialog,” he stated.

Soifer denied moral equivalency, saying she “would not equate Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and Holocaust deniers, all of whom are running for office as Republicans, with those on the left who may have espoused different views with regard to Israel.” Read in full here [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) discussed the future of support for Israel among Democrats during a panel — along with Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX, Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) — titled “Legislative Priorities and Decisions for the upcoming 116th Congress” hosted by Ken Fisher and Ezra Friedlander Tuesday morning in Midtown Manhattan.

“I do not think that support Israel in Congress has eroded,” said Nadler. “I do believe there’s a long-term threat of that happening, but not now. And the threat goes back a long ways. I helped form an organization called Liberal Democrats for Israel at the 1976 Democratic Convention. So, as far back as then, we saw developments that necessitated in our opinion that we have an organization of liberal Democrats for Israel. And the truth is there is, on the far left, a very strong anti-Israel opinion, and very slowly and very gradually that’s been seeping to the less far left. And it is starting to seep into the Democratic party.”

“Now, I have said for a long time, I don’t worry about this generation of Democratic Congressmen with respect to Israel. I worry about the people who are now in college or law school who’ll be Congressmen 20 years from now because that’s where I see a possibility of change. Then you have the Republican Jewish Coalition, which for partisan reasons seeks to do everything to say that Democrats are not pro-Israel and that becomes part of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, we are fighting to maintain Democratic support Israel and we have.”

“There have been headlines recently about various people winning primaries who are not pro-Israel. And it’s true. And some of these people, maybe we can work with and some maybe we can’t. That remains to be seen. But it’s a small number. You’re talking five or six people out of 435 districts. So, this should be kept in perspective.” [Pic

MIDTERMS —  The Hope of Rashida Tlaib — by Esther Wang: “No profile of Tlaib fails to note that she will become the first Muslim American woman in Congress (along with Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar if she wins, as she is likely to do), and the first Palestinian American woman… It is clear that America’s progressives are ready to anoint Rashida Tlaib as one of the new national faces of the left flank of the Democratic Party… And while much has been made of her ethnicity and her religion, Tlaib credits her victory in large part to her message, pointing out that less than five percent of her district is Arab American.”

“But is Tlaib’s district ready for her? She won her primary by less than 900 votes… The party establishment, and Detroit’s political class, were almost uniformly united against her. If there had been just one or two fewer candidates in the race, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t be talking about Rashida Tlaib at all.” [TheSlot]

Iowa Jewish Leaders Condemn Steve King After His Meeting With Far-Right Austrian Org — by Gideon Resnick: “We are writing from the depths of our grief, in horror at the news of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh,” wrote Alan Steckman, of Adas Israel, and John Pleasants of the Ames congregation, according to a draft of the letter viewed by The Daily Beast. “We feel we must speak out because our Congressional Representative, Steve King, is an enthusiastic crusader for the same types of abhorrent beliefs held by the Pittsburgh shooter.” [DailyBeast]

Stivers ‘could not stay silent’ on Steve King — by Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan: “Steve Stivers, who leads the National Republican Congressional Committee, had been briefed on racially charged comments made recently by Iowa Republican Steve King… And so with not even a heads-up to GOP leaders, Stivers went on Twitter and blasted his colleague. He “could not stay silent,” said one source familiar with his thinking.” [Politico]

King responded in a statement posted on Twitter: “These attacks are orchestrated by nasty, desperate, and dishonest fake news… Establishment Never Trumpers are complicit.”

— King tells Jewish Insider via email that his tweet comprises his response to Stivers until after the election. “Then I will have more to say.”

How the 2018 midterms became the most expensive in history — by Fredreka Schouten: “Large Republican donors are helping make up the difference in crucial races… Among big donors, Nevada casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, lead the way. They have handed out more than $113 million to groups aiding GOP candidates. It’s the most money the Adelsons have ever disclosed spending in an election cycle. Democratic mega-donors also are giving big sums… Tom Steyer had donated $51 million to federal races through mid-October. And… Michael Bloomberg also is writing large checks to help Democrats.” [CNN] • George Soros, undeterred by bomb threat, leaves the door open to more midterm contributions [CNBC]

Republican Campaign Mailer Fuels Anti-Semitism Complaints In State Senate Race — by Neil Vigdor and Shawn Beals: “A campaign mailer showing a Jewish candidate for state Senate with a fistful of money is drawing condemnation for what critics say is its blatant anti-Semitic imagery. It was sent out by Republican Ed Charamut and targets Democratic state Rep. Matthew Lesser, his opponent in the race for the 9th Senate District seat… “I started getting text messages about it when I was at a forum with teachers in Cromwell [on Monday], people said they got an anti-Semitic flyer,” Lesser said. “I did not believe them, I thought there was a mistake. Someone showed it to me and I think it would be a gross understatement to say I was surprised.”[HartfordCourant]

Instagram Is Teeming With Anti-Semitism — by Taylor Lorenz: “While many users see Instagram as a bastion of lifestyle, entertainment, and humor content, the platform is also rife with anti-Semitism. Before it was removed, a search for the word Jews revealed 11,696 posts with the hashtag “jewsdid911,” The New York Times reported on Monday. It took me only three clicks to find a slew of anti-Semitic memes on Tuesday morning.”[TheAtlantic

TALK OF OUR NATION ― The Jews of Pittsburgh Bury Their Dead — by Emma Green: “When one person dies, members of the Jewish community often step in to care for the body and the family. When 11 people die, the whole community becomes part of the mourning process. The logistics are complicated. Eleven bodies have to be accompanied, washed, and buried. Eleven funerals have to be planned. Families move into an intensive period of mourning, called shiva, that lasts for up to seven days after the burial. In many circles, the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters of the dead will say a special prayer, the kaddish, in the year following the death. For them, and for the Pittsburgh Jewish community, the sense of loss will likely last far beyond that. As one rabbi said, now there will always be a time before the shooting, and a time after.” [TheAtlantic] • At a Pittsburgh Crime Scene, Jewish Volunteers Guard the ‘Bodies of Holy Martyrs’ [NYTimes

Pittsburgh Honors Two Brothers, ‘Gentle Giants’ of the Community — by Emma Green: “The Tree of Life building is still closed, so other synagogues in the area have opened their doors to host funerals. A letter from a friend of the family’s was read at the brothers’ funeral on Tuesday at Rodef Shalom, a historic reform synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was from a Catholic priest. Addressing Cecil and David’s parents, he wrote that God had “created your sons in his image,” a sentiment that captured the core theme of the funeral.” [TheAtlantic] • Armin Rosen on the funeral of David and Cecil Rosenthal [Tablet]

MOURNING TOGETHER — Hundreds gather in Miami Beach to remember synagogue shooting victims — by Liane Morejon: “There is simply no place for hate, not here, not anywhere, and furthermore there are absolutely no good people who stand on the side of hate. Period,” said Norman Braman, the former president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.”[Local10] • Andrew Cuomo says fabric of America is ‘stressed and frayed’ during synagogue shooting vigil [NYPost]

‘I’m Dr. Cohen’: The powerful humanity of the Jewish hospital staff that treated Robert Bowers [WashPost]

Pittsburgh Unites in Grief, Even as It Splits Over Trump’s Visit — by Campbell Robertson, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Trip Gabriel: “The presidential visit, welcomed by some in Pittsburgh, unwanted or vigorously opposed by many others, began with a motorcade into the city and a visit to the Tree of Life synagogue. Mr. Trump lit memorial candles in a vestibule near where the shooting unfolded, and placed stones and white roses from the White House outside… Mr. Trump was accompanied by the first lady, Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. They were greeted by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, the spiritual leader of the Tree of Life congregation… Later, Mr. Trump… sat for about an hour with Peg Gottfried, the widow of Richard Gottfried, one of those killed on Saturday.”[NYTimes]

— “Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., accompanied the president and first lady during their visit, as did… White House advisers who are Jewish, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.” [TheHillPic]

Josh Marshall“This is a touchy subject. Many will disagree with me. But I find it offensive and bizarre that this was choreographed so that the Israeli Ambassador is the one who greeted the President first at the Tree of Life synagogue. The President is not visiting Israel.”

BEHIND THE SCENES — Amid Scrutiny, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Shaped Trump’s Pittsburgh Response — by Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman: “[Trump’s] son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who keeps a photograph of his grandparents, both Holocaust survivors, in his West Wing office, and a mezuza on the doorway, as well as his daughter Ivanka… have quietly and persistently shaped the president’s response to one of the nation’s deadliest cases of anti-Semitism… And it has been Mr. Kushner, in particular, who has been phoning Trump allies and encouraging them to support the president.” [NYTimes]

Meet Jason Greenblatt, the longtime Trump attorney sent to Pittsburgh after synagogue shooting — by John Fritze: “Though he initially planned to speak at Hillel Academy, a private Orthodox Jewish day school in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, school officials said they didn’t want to subject students to speeches. Instead, Greenblatt attended morning prayers and spoke with students and staff individually. Rabbi Sam Weinberg, principal at Hillel Academy, said Greenblatt’s presence was “very low key” and “very apolitical.” Greenblatt’s message as he wandered the halls was that “the world Jewish community” was grieving with Pittsburgh, according to Weinberg. “He didn’t come with a photographer,” Weinberg said, adding that Greenblatt asked permission before noting his visit on Twitter. “I found him to be very sensitive.” [USAToday] • Greenblatt writes: What I learned from my visit to the Tree of Life Synagogue [FoxNews]

Pittsburgh Jews Give Trump a Furious Reception — by Allison Kaplan Sommer and Amir Tibon: “While Trump and his family lit candles in memory of the victims, thousands of people rallied outside to protest Trump’s divisive rhetoric… Protesters held signs that read, “President Hate, Leave our state,” “Words matter,” “Ban assault rifles, Be a leader” and “Trump will lie about this too.” [Haaretz]

Trump tweets this morning: “Melania and I were treated very nicely yesterday in Pittsburgh. The Office of the President was shown great respect on a very sad & solemn day. We were treated so warmly. Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away. The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!”

GOP Jewish leader says community is ‘comforted’ by Trump: “I think the president is great on our issues,” Neil Boylan Strauss, national spokesman for the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Hill.TV… “We’re also comforted by the fact that he has plenty of Jewish voices around him, and we’re comfortable with how he has acted on Jewish issues, whether it’s support for Israel, whether it’s something like condemning the attacks,” he said.” [TheHill

ZOA’s Mort Klein tells us… “It was the absolute right thing to do, for Trump to go to Pittsburgh to show his own devastation by this horrific massacre. As you know, there are many extreme left-wing Jews who have told him not to go to Pittsburgh, I assure you if he did not go to Pittsburgh they would condemn him for insensitivity and lack of concern. These are not people who are looking at this rationally, they despise Trump and they’ll attack him no matter what. They have not gotten over that their heroine Hillary Clinton is not president. They are very upset that he’s trying to keep illegals out of the country. They want to appease our enemies like Abbas.”

HEARD ON CABLE — Former Meet the Press host David Gregory on CNN with Wolf Blitzer: “I think when the president uses what I consider to be anti-Semitic tropes, when he talks about himself as a nationalist, when he gives in any way comfort to those who would express anti-Semitic views, I think it’s dead wrong. I think he has an obligation in the name of his Jewish son-in-law and daughter, who’s a convert, and his Jewish grandchildren, to specifically denounce anti-Semitism and go farther… There are a lot of Republican Jews who look at him and say he’s a stalwart supporter of Israel, we’re behind this guy and that has created the split.”

“What I don’t like is that Jews are dividing politically instead of saying, ‘Let’s remember Jewish virtues. You know, we can talk about Israel. There’s divides about Israel. But it’s also about hold up the treatment of the stranger, the treatment of immigrants, and be able to find some consensus… I’ve said it privately to Israeli representatives in this country, I think they have an obligation to not just stoke the political divide in this country that Trump has created among Jews. I just think it’s bad for the Jewish community writ large in America.”

Gloria Borger remembering 97-year-old Rose Mallinger on CNN Newsroom: “You know, everyone has a Bubby in their family.”

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett tweets“Using the horrific anti-Semitic massacre to attack President Trump is unfair and wrong. As Israel’s Minister of Diaspora, I came to Pittsburgh to offer the State of Israel’s support and sympathy to the Jewish community and all the American people… President Trump is a true friend of the State of Israel and to the Jewish people. With President Trump we never have to worry if he has our backs. He has delivered on every promise. This is something we will never forget.”

HAPPENING TODAY — The Council on Foreign Relations will host Bennett for a conversation with CFR Distinguished Fellow Martin Indyk.

Michael Oren writes… “What Israel Owes American Jews: Threatened by rising anti-Semitism, American-Jewish communities need to know that Israel is behind them and not only in words… By recognizing Conservative and Reform Jewry, Israel will not only defy the anti-Semites but also, more important, reaffirm itself.” [NYTimes]

Brian Cuban writes about his childhood experience with his brother Mark in Squirrel Hill: “Mark and I  battled for control of the black and white television. I preferred cartoons. Mark preferred movies. I changed the channel. Mark pushed me aside and turned it back… Our grandmother’s basement meant hidden treasure. Books written in Russian or Yiddish. They smelled of must and mold, but to a ten-year-old child, it was the smell of adventure and places far away.”

Jews assail ‘Christian rabbi’ who appeared with Pence, and so does his own movement — by Corky Siemaszko: “Loren Jacobs, who was invited onstage by Vice President Mike Pence to speak at a rally in Michigan for a GOP congressional candidate, was defrocked 15 years ago, according to a spokeswoman for the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations… Meanwhile, mainstream Jewish leaders and experts on the faith said they could not fathom why GOP congressional candidate Lena Epstein, herself a longtime member of a Detroit–area synagogue, invited Jacobs at all to her rally Tuesday because in their eyes he’s not even a real Jew, let alone a rabbi.” [NBCNews

TOP TALKER — Denmark Says It Foiled Iranian Assassination Plot — by Laurence Norman: “Danish authorities this month arrested a Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent for allegedly planning the assassination of the leader of an ethnic Arab separatist group, Denmark’s Security and Intelligence services said… Tuesday’s announcement was the latest in a series of allegations that Tehran is sponsoring acts of violence in Europe.” [WSJ]

Barak Ravid“Israeli Mossad gave Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) the information about the assassination attempt planned by Iranian intelligence service against the leader of the Iranian opposition organization ASMLA, Israeli official tells me.”

** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? 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: Wilf Family Launches Investment Firm For Sports, Entertainment [Patch] • Bradley Tusk, a political ‘fixer’ for tech companies, has a plan to make voting from your phone a reality [Recode] • Mark Zuckerberg Is Still Losing Users [VanityFair]

TV venture from Katzenberg and Whitman draws inspiration from Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ — by Alex Sherman: “Speaking alongside Quibi CEO Meg Whitman on Tuesday at Axios’ Smarter Faster Revolution event, [Jeffrey] Katzenberg said that after reading Brown’s mystery thriller, a light bulb went off in his mind about media consumption. “The Da Vinci Code” has more than 100 chapters… “Publishers and editors have said to authors, if you don’t want to stop in the middle of a chapter, don’t write them longer,” Katzenberg said, in an interview with Dan Primack of Axios, at the University of California at Los Angeles. “A series for us will be two to three hours in length but comes in breaks or chapters that can be watched on the go.” [CNBCAxios]

SPOTLIGHT — Campbell Soup and Executive ‘Accelerate’ His Exit After George Soros Tweet — by Amie Tsang: “Campbell said the company and the executive, Kelly Johnston, the vice president of government affairs for 16 years, had agreed to “accelerate” his retirement after he said on Twitter last week that a foundation led by George Soros… was the driving force behind a caravan of thousands of migrants headed toward Mexico’s border with the United States… Keith R. McLoughlin, Campbell Soup’s interim chief executive, wrote to Patrick Gaspard, the president of Open Society Foundations, last week to tell him that Mr. Johnston’s remarks did not represent the company’s position and were “inconsistent with how Campbell approaches public debate.” [NYTimes]

PROFILE — Adam Grant Is (Not) Superman — by Emily Goulet: “[Grant] has to field his emails — he gets up to 200 a day — which include advice requests from strangers and high-level conversations with some of the world’s most influential business leaders, who look to him as a confidant and trusted friend. He also has to prep for season two of his popular TED podcast, WorkLife; write an op-ed for the New York Times; and contribute to the many groups that count him as a member… and Wharton People Analytics, a research initiative he co-directs. And at some point, he needs to go home to his grand French-country-style spread on the Main Line and spend time with his wife and three kids…” [PhillyMag]

COVER STORY — Natalie Portman: Voice of Light — by Dorga Chew-Bose: “She was born Neta-Lee Hershlag, in Jerusalem, in 1981. Her parents relocated to the United States in 1984 and Portman became a dual citizen… Portman has not shied away from expressing her political opinions, which have made headlines, especially when it comes to her country of birth. She describes her relationship to Israel as “very complicated, like family—you love it more than anything else in the world and you also are more critical of it than anything else in the world.”

“Last spring, there was an uproar when she declined to accept the 2018 Genesis Prize in person. “I’d like to clarify I have no issue traveling to the country. They may have issues with it now, but I don’t,” she says. “I was choosing not to attend an event where I was supposed to be onstage with Prime Minister Netanyahu, sitting next to him, which felt like an endorsement. So there is a distinction.”

“It’s more than just a footnote that “Harvard graduate” occupies part of Portman’s biography. (She was one of many research assistants to Alan M. Dershowitz, who recently consulted for Weinstein’s legal team and came out in support of Brett Kavanaugh. “I pretty much disagree with him on everything he’s doing right now,” says Portman, adding, “Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising to see.”)”

“She reads everything—there is no end to her curiosity. It’s never homework, it’s pleasure,” says her Jackie co-star, the writer and director Greta Gerwig, recalling that Portman threw the cast and crew an “epic” Hanukkah party.” [VanityFair]

— Flashback to May 11, 2018: What we’ve learned about the Natalie Portman and Genesis Prize Foundation saga [JewishInsider]

INTERVIEW — Maggie Haberman interviews Barbra Streisand about her new album, the musical embodiment of her singular dislike of President Trump: “I would lie awake at night with Trump’s outrages running through my head, and I had to do another album for Columbia Records, so I thought, why not make an album about what’s on my mind? And that became the title of the first song. I am so grateful to have music in my life as a way to express myself.”

“The interview was conducted before the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Asked about it on Monday via email, she sent a response that faulted Trump for divisive rhetoric and added: “My heart aches for these innocent people and the centuries-old attitude of somehow blaming Jews for all the ills of the world.” [NYTimes]

SCENE THE OTHER DAY — Kim Kardashian West was honored Monday night with the first Gift of Life Impact Award at the Gift of Life Marrow Registry gala at the SLS Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. Kardashian was recognized for her tweet in support of a young Jewish father named Adam Krief, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer and required a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Adam’s widow, Lia Mantel Krief, presented Kardashian West with the award for leveraging the power of a single person to mobilize many to act.“I made a simple tweet. Knowing that it could change someone’s life, that’s the easiest thing that I could possibly do,” Kardashian West said in in remarks after receiving the award. [Video]

MAZEL TOV — Rob Saliterman, a former Bush administration official and Google and Snap alum, and Lara Crystal, co-founder and co-CEO of Minibar Delivery, emailed friends and family: “We are grateful and thrilled to announce the arrival of Samuel Charles Saliterman [Tuesday] at 12:56 p.m. at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.” [Pich/t Playbook

Mazel tov to Yossi Raskas, Deputy Director of the City of David, on his engagement yesterday to Gila Chernick.

DESSERT — What does it take to make a restaurant kosher? (Hint: It’s intense) — by Karon Liu: “A rabbi walks into a restaurant carrying a blowtorch. There’s no punchline, it’s literally part of Rabbi Mendel Brogna’s job. As the head mashgiach of the Kashruth Council of Canada, Brogna’s job is to supervise the kosher status of restaurants and catering venues to ensure the food and cooking equipment is up to the standards of Kashrut… Brogna keeps a giant blowtorch attached to a propane tank in the trunk of his car ready to heat up the inside of ovens as well as pots and pans.” [TheStar]

BIRTHDAYS: Founding partner at Lanx Management, former President of AIPAC (2006-2010), Chairman of the Orthodox Union and father of Sir Alex, Howard E. (Tzvi) Friedman turns 53… Entrepreneur, bestselling author and philanthropist, he is CEO and co-founder of Mission U and founder of Pencils of Promise, Adam Braun turns 35… Actor with a lengthy career in film, television and theatre, Ron Rifkin turns 79… British historian, born in Baghdad, emeritus professor of International Relations at Oxford, Avi Shlaimturns 73… Author, historian and journalist, formerly editor of The New York Times Book Review, he is the writer-at-large for the UK-based Prospect Magazine, Sam Tanenhaus turns 63… Journalist and author, she is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has contributed articles to Vogue, Rolling Stone and Esquire, her 1998 book was made into the award-winning movie Adaptation (2002), Susan Orlean turns 63…

Finance and real estate executive, managing partner of Arel Capital, a private equity real estate firm based in NYC, previously he was the chief investment officer of Gottex Fund Management, Richard Leibovitch turns 55… National Director for Progressive Engagement at AIPAC, Marilyn Rosenthal… British lawyer who has served in many communal roles including as CEO of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (2005-2013) and COO of World ORT (2014-2015), Marc Jonathan (Jon) Benjamin turns 54… Director of development for Foundation for Jewish Camp, he describes his role as a “gelt-shlepper,” Corey Cutler turns 51… Rabbi-in-residence at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester (NY), she is the founder of Midrash Manicures, combining Jewish education and creative nail art, Yael Buechler turns 33… Global marketing campaign manager for PwC, Spencer Herbst turns 27… Pittsburgh native, Masha Shollar turns 26…




Daily Kickoff: Trump to get mixed welcome in visit to Pittsburgh after synagogue massacre

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DRIVING THE DAY — President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Pittsburgh this afternoon to meet with the families of the victims of the synagogue massacre. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who reportedly persuaded Trump to visit Pittsburgh, will accompany the President, as well as Jason Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, who were dispatched to Pittsburgh over the weekend.

Tree of Life community leaders were split on whether to welcome Trump to Pittsburgh. Bend the Arc, a national organization for progressive Jews focused on social justice, also circulated an open letter — signed by more than 35,000 people — telling Trump he’s not welcome in the city unless he denounces white nationalism and stops “targeting” minorities. Mayor William Peduto warnedthat Trump would be a distraction from some of the funerals taking place Tuesday. But Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading services at Tree of Life during Saturday’s shooting, said that “the President of the United States is always welcome.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders “dismissed suggestions that Trump’s rhetoric has contributed to a hostile climate in the country… In a voice breaking with emotion, Sanders noted that Trump’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish. “Anti-Semitism is a plague to humanity,” Sanders said. “We all have a duty to confront anti-Semitism in all its forms and everywhere and anywhere it appears.” [NPR]

Survivors relive horrors at Tree of Life [AP] • First 3 people to help treat synagogue shooter were Jewish, hospital president says [Bradenton]

Bloomberg blames Trump for ‘inciting’ hate after Pittsburgh shooting — by Cristina Alesci and Eli Watkins: “When he goes around getting people to scream and hate, bad things happen and you saw the results here,” said [Mike] Bloomberg. He went on to say that the President “should be unifying and instead he is exciting people, inciting people.” … “The President’s words matter more than anybody else and his job, I’ve always thought, is to be a unifier, not to be the leader of a party, but to be the leader of this country,” Bloomberg said.” [CNN]

— “Trump has some defenders in the Jewish community, however. Ken Kurson, a close friend of Kushner’s, recalled seeing Trump at a bris for one of his grandchildren, Theodore Kushner, and that he had never seen the president do or say anything that struck him as anti-Semitic. “My personal opinion is the president reacted very forcefully and appropriately with real emotion,” Kurson said. “The words he used mattered to me. He instantly called it an anti-Semitic act. That’s important for the world to hear, to hear him attach a moral component.” [WashPost]

“Rabbi Levi Shemtov, founder of TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital, a Washington temple attended by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said the president can use this moment to demonstrate his capacity to heal. “Personally, I absolutely do not believe the president is anti-Semitic,” Shemtov said. “On the contrary, especially if one speaks to his associates going back decades, you will find the opposite to be the case.” [WashPost]

MEDIA WATCH — Julia Ioffe Apologizes For Saying Trump Has Radicalized More People Than ISIS — by David Taintor: “Appearing on a panel on CNN, Ioffe said, “This president, one of the things that he really launched his presidential run on is talking about Islamic radicalization. And this president has radicalized so many more people than ISIS ever did.” … Later in the same hour, Ioffe apologized on air for the comment. “I do want to clarify, I think I spoke in the heat of the moment. This has been a very emotional and personally painful time for me. I think I exaggerated, and I apologize for that,” Ioffe said.” [TPMVideo

Rabbi David Wolpe writes… “The Misguided Rabbis of Twitter: We can only be a Jewish people when we don’t excommunicate each other—for religious reasons or political reasons or cultural reasons. Everyone is welcome to pray in my synagogue, right or left, no matter how much I as rabbi may object to your views. Because we do not pray as Democrats or Republicans, but as Jews.” [Tablet]

Alana Newhouse: “Over the next few days, as funerals take place and shivas begin, it will once again be our responsibility to bring order back to our thinking—first, to accept clearly what just happened in Pittsburgh, and then to think and act bravely about our history, about our values, about how to live safe and good and meaningful lives. After spending aninut in Pittsburgh, where most of the Tablet staff has been this week, we believe the lesson here is clear: The internet has given us the illusion of connection. Politics has given us the illusion of control. Only community gives us the reality of both.” [Tablet]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Pittsburgh Killing Aftermath Bares Jewish Rifts in Israel and America — by David Halbfinger: “Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, said the Pittsburgh shootings had exposed an even deeper and more worrisome divide between the two populations. “Each sees the other as in some sense threatening its most basic well-being,” he said. “American Jews don’t understand the depth of the Israeli sense of betrayal over the Iran deal. And Israelis don’t understand why American Jews regard Trump as a life-and-death threat to the liberal society that allowed American Jewry to become the most successful minority in Jewish history.” [NYTimes]

Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt: Israel Chief Rabbi Didn’t Dismiss Progressive Synagogues. Stop Twisting Words To Sow Division [Forward]

For European Jews, a horrifying sight on the other side of the Atlantic — by James McAuley: “In recent years, deadly anti-Semitic violence has become a mainstay of European headlines… Now, European observers wonder whether Americans will confront the problem of anti-Semitism… “I used to think that the United States is the guarantor of Jewish security worldwide, and now it’s not the case any more,” said Sergey Lagodinsky, a member of the assembly of the Jewish community of Berlin. “From the European Jewish perspective, this haven that we thought the U.S. is for Jews is no more there.” [WashPost] • For Europe’s Jews, Worship Comes With a Heavy Dose of Security [WSJ]

COMING TOGETHER — Thousands gather in D.C. to mourn 11 killed at Tree of Life synagogue — by Julie Zauzmer: “At Adas Israel synagogue, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) joined Jewish congregants and clergy of many faiths in singing Jewish words of sorrow and resolve… The 1,400-seat sanctuary at one of the District’s largest congregations was filled to overflowing, and organizers of the memorial service said that 2,500 more people were watching on a live stream in as many rooms of the synagogue as possible. The line stretched down the block; many more couldn’t fit in the building. Hundreds stood outside, where Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) spoke and people sang “Oseh shalom,” “make peace,” while the flashing blue lights of police cars lighted faces wet with tears.” [WashPost]

Muslim crowdfunding site raising $150K for synagogue victims — by Joe Tacopino: “A crowdfunding website that supports causes for Muslim Americans has launched a campaign to help victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting — and the effort has already raised more than five times its original goal. The campaign on the website Launchgood quickly reached its $25,000 goal on Saturday and have increased it to a sizable $150,000.” [NYPost]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Fox News host Laura Ingraham in an interview with President Trump: When you hear people use the phrase “anti-Semitism” to describe anything connected to you, you have a Jewish daughter, you have grandchildren who are Jewish — what’s your reaction to that?

Trump: “And I just received an award from Bibi Netanyahu, thanking me because I moved the, as you know, the embassy to Jerusalem, making Jerusalem the capital of Israel and I just did that — now how many presidents said they were going to do it and they never did it? Many, many presidents.” [Video]

MIDTERMS — Trump and aides struggle to balance midterm attacks with empathy after synagogue massacre ―  by Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: “The president’s plans to ratchet up his political attacks in the final seven-day sprint to the midterm elections have been complicated by a wave of separate and tragic crises… Behind the scenes at the White House, aides have been debating how to strike the right note between Trump’s closing campaign pitch and playing the role of national consoler… Trump received advice from allies who urged the importance of sounding presidential, but he was at times annoyed by what he viewed as unnecessary and gratuitous counsel.” [WashPostTime]

OOPS… “Rabbi cites Jesus in prayer for synagogue victims with Pence” — by Zeke Miller: “Rabbi Loren Jacobs of Messianic congregation Shema Yisrael offered a prayer for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre… The major denominations of Judaism reject Messianic Judaism as a form of Judaism, and Jacobs’ participation was condemned by Jews on social media. A Pence aide tells The Associated Press that Jacobs was invited to pray at the event by GOP candidate Lena Epstein… Epstein says… anyone attacking her or Pence over the prayer is “guilty of nothing short of religious intolerance.” [APCSPAN]

Gabrielle Birkner: “First Roy Moore’s lawyer, now Mike Pence’s “rabbi.”

— “Pence spoke Monday afternoon at an event in Oakland County for U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, who is facing a challenge from Democrat Elissa Slotkin, and Lena Epstein, who is running against Democrat Haley Stevens for an open congressional seat.”

“Former Vice President Joe Biden will campaign Thursday in Lansing with Slotkin.” [CharlotteObserver]

Rep. Steve King’s rhetoric under scrutiny in wake of Pittsburgh shooting — by Clare Foran: “King, in particular, is facing sharp criticism for comments he has made criticizing diversity in the United States and immigration as well as George Soros… King… defended himself in a recent interview with The Washington Post after the shooting in Pittsburgh, saying that he is not anti-Semitic. “How do you call Steve King anti-Semitic?” he said.”[CNN]

GOP presses ahead in casting Soros as threat amid criticism that attacks are anti-Semitic — by Mike Debonis: “The National Republican Congressional Committee continued airing an ad Monday criticizing a Minnesota Democratic candidate and Iraq War veteran over his job at a foundation funded in part by Soros. The Michigan Republican Party promoted a digital ad depicting Soros among forces “looking to rig Michigan’s elections.” [WashPost]

Texas Senate — Beto O’Rourke’s Huge Facebook Bet — by Alexis Madrigal: “Through October 20, O’Rourke alone had spent $5.4 million advertising on the platform, according to Facebook’s Ad Archive Report… O’Rourke’s opponent, Senator Ted Cruz, had spent only $427,000 on Facebook, about 1/13th as much as O’Rourke. Much of O’Rourke’s Facebook-ad buy seems to be going toward short videos of the candidate talking to crowds or directly to the camera… While O’Rourke had spent more than $15 million on television ads through mid-October, Cruz and associated PACs had spent $12 million and were on pace to nearly catch up there.” [TheAtlantic]

First Came Trump, Then Came Beto: Ted Cruz And The Brutal Politics Of Likability — by Katherine Miller: “Cruz understands, better than most, the direction of politics. Before the 2016 primary, he correctly isolated the attributes Republicans wanted in their 2016 nominee: anti-establishment, conversant in the culture, someone who’d embody an “us versus the elites” paradigm…  Two years later, as Cruz has gestured toward the right’s fringe, some conservatives have retroactively justified their vote for Trump with his administration’s willingness to advance certain causes, like changing the tax code or moving the embassy to Jerusalem or, especially, putting conservative judges on federal courts. But these are all things that Cruz and most of the 2016 Republican field would have tried to do in the White House.” [BuzzFeed]

Maryland Gov — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will join Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous today on the campaign trail in Bethesda, Maryland. Speakers at the evening rally will also include lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Susie Turnball and Rep. Jamie Raskin.

New York Gov ― New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the grand rabbis of Satmar and Skver yesterday in upstate New York, to secure the support of a powerful voting bloc ahead of election day. [PicPicPic]

Days after attempted attack, George Soros jumps into NY Senate battle — by Chris Bragg: “Liberal billionaire and philanthropist George Soros… has jumped into the battle for the New York state Senate, Board of Elections records show. On Friday, a new labor-backed independent expenditure group, Progress NYS, reported taking in $100,000 from Soros, who runs the hedge fund Soros Fund Management.” [TimesUnion]

TALK OF THE REGION — As Israel Targets Iran in Syria, U.S. Officials Warn of Reprisals — by Gordon Lubold and Felicia Schwartz: “Iran and Hezbollah cannot be allowed to build an arsenal of weapons on Israel’s border that threatens the region,” a White House spokeswoman said in a statement… At the Pentagon, however, U.S. military officials have expressed greater alarm. Their concern is that Iran believes the Israeli strikes stem from American intelligence fed to the Israelis specifically so they will launch the attacks.“ [WSJ]

Iranian militias must leave Syria, US anti-ISIS envoy tells The National  — by Mina Aldroubi: “Washington’s enduring political and military mission is to ensure a stable and independent Syria free from Iran-backed militias, Brett McGurk told The National. “No one wants them there. We even hear from the Russians that they shouldn’t be there. We’ve taken that and said for a stable Syria these forces must leave,” Mr. McGurk said at a military conference in Bahrain.” [TheNational]

Israel Decides Against Toppling Hamas in Gaza, Seeks to Weaken It — by Yaniv Kubovich and Noa Landau: “Political and military leaders have concluded that it would be better for Israel not to overthrow the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip… The instructions to defense officials are to deter Hamas and weaken it, but in a way that will not put its control of Gaza at risk. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to support efforts to reach an agreement that will restore quiet to the south.” [Haaretz

** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? 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: Activist hedge fund Third Point wants Campbell Soup to explore a split [WSJ] • Intel Capital, Sequoia Back Blockchain Startup StarkWare in $30 Million Round [Calcalist] • Volkswagen, Intel, and Mobileye will launch a self-driving taxi service in Israel in 2019 [TheVerge]

HAPPENING TODAY — Jeffrey Katzenberg to speak about the workforce evolution in a conversation with Axios’ Mike Allen at the Smarter Faster Revolution at UCLA.

Is the Case Against Harvey Weinstein in Jeopardy? — by Jan Ransom: “The case against Mr. Weinstein appears to be fraying. A detective failed to turn over important evidence to prosecutors. A judge dismissed part of the indictment. Evidence has emerged undermining the allegation of one of the accusers… Mr. Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has argued that the entire indictment was contaminated because prosecutors failed to show the grand jury evidence favorable to his client. He has said he will ask the judge to throw the charges out. ” [NYTimes]

US government broadcaster to punish workers for Soros report — by Matt Lee and Luis Alonso Lugo: “The U.S. government’s international broadcasting agency says it will discipline employees responsible for a television report on philanthropist George Soros that violated its professional ethics and standards. The U.S. Agency for Global Media says that those who produced the report would be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into “apparent misconduct” and may face disciplinary measures… The report on Soros aired in May on Spanish-language Radio Television Marti network, which broadcasts to Cuba. It described him as a “Jewish multi-millionaire” influencing nations through nongovernment groups.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN — A Palestinian’s failed bid to become mayor of Jerusalem highlights his community’s challenge — by Ruth Eglash: “A Palestinian businessman and activist born and raised in the city, [Aziz] Abu Sarah was not only breaking a 50-year taboo within his own community, he also faced a legal battle because he is not an Israeli citizen.  Yet even he was surprised at the intense pressure from both Israelis and Palestinians that upended his campaign. Municipal elections take place across Israel on Tuesday, but few cities are being watched as closely as Jerusalem… “I don’t feel a failure, I do feel disappointed,” he told The Washington Post on Sunday. “But I think we succeeded in stirring the water. We got people to talk about the problems of Jerusalem.” [WashPost]

LONG READ — The Get-Rich-Quick Scheme That Almost Killed a German Soccer Team: An electrician’s odd plot to make $607,933.50 by setting off bombs in Germany in April of 2017 — by Thomas Rogers: “In previous months in Germany, Islamic State terrorists had set off a suicide bomb at a music festival, killed nine people with a truck, and attacked train passengers with an ax. Two years earlier, a match between Germany and the Netherlands was called off after Israeli intelligence suggested an imminent bombing by Islamic extremists.” [Bloomberg]

SCENE LAST NIGHT ― Howard Lorber, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, was presented with the National Leadership Award at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 25th anniversary New York Tribute Dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan. [Pic

BIRTHDAYS: Ivanka ‘Yael’ Trump turns 37… Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Caro turns 83… Law professor, formerly: president of the University of Minnesota (1997-2002), chancellor of the University of Texas System (2002-2008), president of the University of California (2008-2013), Mark Yudofturns 74… Actor, best known for his portrayal of “The Fonz” in the “Happy Days” sitcom, Henry Winkler turns 73… NBC’s anchor, reporter and commentator, married to former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchellturns 72… Israeli violinist, violist and conductor who appears in concerts around the world, Shlomo Mintz turns 61… Meat packing executive, sentenced to 27 years in prison in 2009 for fraud, he was pardoned by President Trump in 2017 after serving eight years, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkinturns 59… Wireless communications pioneer with over 80 patents, he served as CEO of Qualcomm (2005-2014) and later executive chairman, he is a co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Paul E. Jacobs, Ph.D. turns 56…

Partner in the DC office of Buckley Sandler, he served as the Attorney General of Maryland (2007-2015), Douglas F. “Doug” Gansler turns 56… Former Chief of Staff to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, David Krone turns 52… Political correspondent for The New York Times and a political analyst for CNN, Maggie Haberman turns 45… President of The Gold Standard, LLC, a DC-based political development and advocacy firm, Jeremy Seth Gold turns 43… Partner in the LA office of Crowell & Moring, he is a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia and was most recently the chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, Paul M. Rosen turns 40… AARP’s director of media relations as to Social Security and Medicare, Joshua Eric Rosenblum turns 40… National Journal and National Journal Hotline reporter covering political races in the US House of Representatives, Ally Mutnick turns 26… Consultant for grassroots and advocacy at DC-based Locust Street Group, Rebecca Schieber turns 26… Founding Director at Tech Tribe and Director of Social Media for Chabad, Mordechai Lightstone

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…