Aug
28

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Daily Kickoff: West Wing ‘interventionists’ and NFL characters, Milken crowd’s influence grows in Trump era | Report: Saudi King keeping MBS in check

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HEARD IN THE HAMPTONS — Milken, Mnuchin Join Blankfein in the Hamptons to Fix World — by Amanda Gordon: “Fashion was hardly the point of Michael Milken’s whirlwind four-day stay in the Hamptons, during which he oversaw about 20 power sessions put on by the Milken Institute and hosted by billionaires at their homes… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed affordable housing and opportunity zones… For Richard LeFrak, the panel at his home in Southampton had him rethinking his SoLe Mia development in Miami… Lloyd Blankfein took part in the panel on education where Merryl Tisch told him he should run the New York City school system when he steps down as Goldman Sachs CEO. Other offers are coming. “We’re going to try to recruit him,” Milken said.”

“Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham talked foreign policy. WorldQuant founder Igor Tulchinsky hosted a panel on predictions, and Mike Novogratz of Galaxy Investment Partners hosted one on blockchain… Tony Ressler of Ares Management… participated in other sessions. Mark Ein, owner of the Washington Kastles of World TeamTennis, was looking into buying an eSports team after the session at Steve Cohen’s house featuring Noah Whinston, the 24-year-old founder of the Immortals. Ein also won the elite division of the doubles tennis tournament… and thanked David Rubenstein for the job out of Harvard Business School that gave him enough time to play tennis.”

Pollster Frank Luntz’s take on a pardon for Milken? “I think he’s on his way to sainthood, which is hard to get if you’re Jewish.” [Bloomberg]

TALK OF THE MILKEN CROWD — Mark Leibovich’s new book on the NFL; excerpted in the NYT today: “Several N.F.L. owners had known Trump for years, with Robert Kraft being his highest-profile friend among them. (Kraft has given him a Super Bowl ring.) But Kraft, too, is a politician, of sorts, who seems to do his best to please as many audiences as he can; in part through having mastered the art of saying quite different things for public and private consumption. His friendship with Trump provides a case in point.”

“Kraft loves being a presidential buddy but is also aware that many of his plutocrat friends don’t approve. So Kraft is quick to mention to his friends — privately — that he disagrees with Trump on many issues and with many of the incendiary things the president has done and said. But he would rather have the presidential ear and try to be a positive influence.” [NYTimesMag]

— Leibovich writes that NFL powwows “are like ESPN reporter Adam Schefter’s bar mitzvah.”

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Trump Rejects White House “Intervention” and Goes It Alone — by Gabriel Sherman: “Two sources briefed on the matter told me that senior officials talked about inviting Rudy Giuliani and a group of Trump’s New York real-estate friends including Tom BarrackRichard LeFrak, and Howard Lorber to the White House to stage an “intervention” last week. “It was supposed to be a war council,” one source explained. But Trump refused to take the meeting, sources said. “You know Trump—he hates being lectured to,” the source added.”

“Even Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are unsettled that Trump is so gleefully acting on his most self-destructive impulses as his legal peril grows. According to a source, Jared and Ivanka told Trump that stripping security clearances from former intelligence officials would backfire, but Trump ignored them. Kushner later told a friend Trump “got joy” out of taking away John Brennan’s clearance.” [VanityFair]

New Pence book deems VP a ‘shadow president’ — by Elizabeth Landers: “The authors deem Pence a “replacement president,” pointing to his recent trips this year to Israel and South Korea where he presided over “landmark events.” [CNN]

— “[Andrea] Neal even compares Pence to the Bible’s Queen Esther.”[TheGuardian

JARED INSIDER — Kushner and Lighthizer Pressed for Deal Before Mexican President Leaves Office — by Vivian Salama and Michael Bender: “Behind the scenes, three individuals are said to have led the talks over the finish line: Mr. Trump’s top adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner; U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; and Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray… Mr. Kushner developed relationships with Mexican officials, and his closeness to Mr. Trump was leveraged at key moments, including on intellectual-property issues.”

“Messrs. Kushner and Videgaray had met during Mr. Trump’s campaign jaunt to Mexico City. The relationship between them developed “beyond a working relationship into a friendship,” according to one person with knowledge of their dynamics… Mr. Videgaray, according to the official, visited the White House as many as 45 times since Mr. Trump took office… Mr. Videgaray has been to Mr. Kushner’s home as many as 10 times.” [WSJ

HEARD YESTERDAY — Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle with Laura Ingraham: “Jared has been absolutely instrumental. I would say that we would never have arrived at this day without Jared’s hard work, with his vision and just his courage. You know, we have been through some rough matches in this relationship. We’ve had our moments where it seemed we were almost falling apart. And at those very difficult times, Jared was there, holding up the relationship and enabling this moment to happen.”

PRIMARY DAY — Voters in Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma head to the polls today for Republican and Democratic primaries. [Vox]

RACES TO WATCH — FLORIDA: In the 9th Congressional District, former Congressman Alan Grayson is challenging incumbent Rep. Darren Soto to reclaim the safe Democratic seat he gave up in 2016 for a failed U.S. Senate bid.

Alan Grayson’s Last Stand — by Mark Pinsky: “Grayson is confident about his chances, yet philosophical about possibly losing this time. It would not necessarily be the end of his political career—“I could run for state office or federal office”—he says, but winning this time would give him “the advantage of helping people in their lives,” he says.” [PoliticoMag]

In the 16th District, Jan Schneider and David Shapiro are competing in a Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) in the fall. In the 18th District, Lauren Baer, of Baer’s Furniture family, is running in a Democratic primary to take on incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), who is also facing a GOP primary challenge. In the 23rd District, Joe Kaufman is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for another rematch against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz avoided a primary challenge after Tim Canova, who ran against her in 2016, decided to run as an independent.

In the 27th District, 9 Republicans and 5 Democrats are seeking their respective party’s nomination to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R). The seat is rated ‘Lean Democratic’ by the Cook Political Report.

Florida’s gubernatorial race: Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL06) and Adam Putnam are running in the Republican primary to replace outgoing Governor Rick Scott (R), who’s running for the U.S. Senate against Senator Bill Nelson (D). DeSantis, backed by President Donald Trump, was a strong advocate for the Jerusalem Embassy move. Putnam worked with Israeli water technology companies in his capacity as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture.

— On the Democratic side: Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and real estate investor Jeff Greene are among the seven candidates vying to take back the governor’s office for Democrats, which would be the first in 20 years.

‘Sick of Losing,’ Democrats Race to the End of a Wild Florida Primary for Governor — by Patricia Mazzei and Jonathan Martin: “Mr. Levine… realized quickly that he cut a similar profile to Mr. Greene. Both are self-made Jewish entrepreneurs from South Florida, and voters appeared to confuse them. So Mr. Levine refined his message, comparing Mr. Greene, who until recently was a member of President Trump’s elite Mar-a-Lago club, with another wealthy Palm Beach real-estate investor turned politician with no prior government experience. “We have a president who’s in this situation,” Mr. Levine said after a recent debate in Palm Beach Gardens. “We are not going to test you on the top job.” [NYTimes]

— Philip Levine signs vandalized with Nazi swastikas — by Steven Lemongello: “The two signs, in western St. Petersburg, were both vandalized with black spray paint marking out the Nazi symbol. “As Governor, I will never be held hostage to hatred, or bigotry, or intolerance,” said Levine, who is Jewish. “Never. All candidates should speak out against this intolerable behavior. We are better than the haters, bigger than the bigots, and tomorrow we will show them why.” [OrlandoSentinel]

ARIZONA: Deedra Abboud, a Muslim American, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ09) are running in the Democratic primary to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R). Abboud, former Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Arizona chapter, is a supporter of the two-state solution. Sinema has a controversial past on Israel. A bruising GOP primary between Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02), Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward could leave the Republican victor vulnerable in November.

HAPPENING TODAY: U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and the State Department’s Special Envoy for Iran, Brian Hook will speak at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ National Security Summit in Washington, DC at 10:00 AM EDT. Haley will also be presented with the FDD’s Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Statesmanship Award by Chief Executive Mark Dubowitz. [Livestream

TALK OF THE REGION — Trump is busting the myths that prevent Middle East peace — by Benny Avni: “Jonathan Schanzer… argues that as Trump’s presentation of his “deal of the century” peace plan nears, Washington is seeking to weaken the Palestinian Authority… Now vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Schanzer observes that Trump is sharply veering away from traditional US peacemakers who “brought Israel and the Palestinians to the table as equals, as if the Palestinians have significant power.” [NYPost

Israel, US seek to redefine Palestinian refugees — by Ben Caspit: “UNRWA is an organization that — instead of solving the refugee problem — perpetuates it,” former UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told Al-Monitor… “UNRWA has become a monster employing tens of thousands of people in order to perpetuate a whole industry. This makes any attempt to discuss a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.”

— When the president announced Aug. 23 that now it’s the Palestinians’ turn to “get something very good” in return for the embassy move, it did not generate much worry in Jerusalem. If Trump resolved the refugee issue and the Jerusalem issue so elegantly, jokes a high-placed Likud minister, then all that remains is for Israelis to hope that he will revoke his recognition of the Palestinian people. [Al-Monitor]

Netanyahu sees path to Palestinian peace in Israeli-Arab ties: “Many Arab countries now see Israel not as their enemy but as their indispensable ally in pushing back Iranian aggression,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Lithuania’s LRT public broadcaster which aired on Monday. [YahooNews]

Saudi king tipped the scale against Aramco IPO plans: “The shelving of the Aramco IPO is a major blow to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform program, which aims to fundamentally transform Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent, state-driven economy. It suggests [King Salman] is keeping the new unilateral power of the young prince… in check… Most notably, when MBS gave the impression last year that Riyadh endorsed the Trump administration’s still nebulous Middle East peace plan, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the king made a public correction… “The king is obsessed with the idea of how history will judge him. Will he be the king who sold Aramco, who sold Palestine?” a source said.” [Reuters]

— Michael Koplow: “This story illustrates why MBS cannot just upend longstanding Saudi policy on the Palestinians, Jerusalem, and the peace process either. MBS may act like the king and he might even be one yet, but at the moment he’s out over his skis.”

ON THE GROUND — Egypt and Qatar are working on 2 very different deals for Gaza; both are stalled — by Avi Issacharoff: “Intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks have stalled, for a start, with another round of discussions in Cairo between senior Fatah officials and Egyptian intelligence on the topic having ended recently without yielding results… The real problem is more substantive: Doha and Cairo are taking two very different paths to a calmer future — and those paths do not even end up at the same destination.” [ToI]

REPORT — US offers to pull out of Syria if Iran leaves country’s south: “The United States has reportedly told the Assad regime it will remove its forces from Syria if Iran removes its forces from the country’s south, where it borders Israel and Jordan, Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported on Tuesday. The report first appeared in the Beirut-based Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Akhbar daily newspaper. The Americans, according to Al-Akhbar, also asked that American energy companies be allowed to pursue oil interests in eastern Syria… The Syrian regime rejected the American proposal.” [IsraelHayom]

REMEMBERING JOHN MCCAIN — Pallbearers, speakers announced for McCain’s DC memorial service and Capitol ceremony — by Emily Birnbaum: “The pallbearers, who will help carry his coffin at the Washington National Cathedral memorial service on Saturday afternoon, include… former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.)… Tributes and readings will be offered by former President George Bush, former President Barack Obama, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).” [TheHillAxios]

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro writes… “John McCain Made Israelis Feel He Was One of ThemAlthough he was rarely in Israel more than a day, there was invariably a buzz in the air when McCain was on the ground. If we stopped in a hotel lobby or a restaurant or went out for a stroll, Israelis immediately recognized him and came up to shake his hand… I think Israelis respected McCain because of his strong record of support for Israel’s ability to defend itself, but also because the arc of his life resonated so strongly with their experience.” [Haaretz

Frank Bruni writes… “Death in the Age of Narcissism: Just before and after John McCain’s death on Saturday, I read many tweets, Facebook posts and essays that beautifully captured his importance. I read many that were equally concerned with the importance of their authors: Here’s how much time I spent around McCain. I’m also close to his daughter Meghan. This is the compliment he once gave me. This is what I said back….”

“Were these hymns to McCain or arias of self-congratulation? The line blurred as the focus swerved from the celebrated to the celebrator. I blame social media, which can make some kind of immediate response seem almost compulsory, like a homework assignment. It’s a midwife to bad judgment and a narcissism multiplier, with its promise of likes and shares.” [NYTimes]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Roman Abramovich will demand an offer of at least £2.5 billion to consider selling Chelsea [TheTimes• Kushner Companies and Michael Cohen Accused of Falsifying Building Permits to Push Out Tenants [NYTimes] • Tinder co-founder Sean Rad claims he was forced to sell his Match and IAC stock over threat of being fired [TheVerge] • Campbell’s Dan Loeb rejection could set off ugly proxy fight [NYPost]

STARTUP NATION — Israeli Startup Fiverr Eyeing IPO at $1 Billion Valuation — by Eran Azran: “Fiverr, the Israeli startup that provides an online marketplace for freelance services, is gearing up for an initial public offering in the United States that will value the company at $1 billion… The company, founded in 2010 by Shai Wininger and Micha Kaufman, has begun meeting with potential Wall Street underwriters with a target date for completing the offering at the start of next year, sources said.” [Haaretz

Top Facebook communications exec Rachel Whetstone is departing for Netflix — by Kara Swisher: “Rachel Whetstone is leaving the top corporate communications job at Facebook and will take one running public relations for Netflix… Whetstone… arrived just over a year ago to run comms for WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. But she quickly was dragooned to help deal with the buzzsaw of controversy about many fraught issues…” [Recode]

Holy nights: New Marriott rooms to get Bible, Book of Mormon — by  Dee-Ann Durbin: “Marriott International, which bought Starwood two years ago, has begun putting copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in the recently-acquired hotels… Starwood — which was founded by Jewish businessman Barry Sternlicht in 1991 — also includes nearly a dozen brands such as the St. Regis, Le Meridien, Aloft and Four Points. Some brands, however, are holier than others. Starwood’s 50 W hotels… won’t get the books.”[AP]

INTERVIEW — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro talks about the anti-Semitism he faced leading the investigation of the clergy sexual abuse case: “My faith and my family are central to my life and ground me. We do celebrate the Sabbath each week together as a family. As a person of deep faith, I was deeply offended by the weaponization of faith that we found in the grand jury investigation. I am in public service because Scripture teaches us that no one is required to complete the task, but neither are we free to refrain from it. Everyone has a responsibility to get off the sidelines, get in the game and do their part.”

Did you ever encounter any pushback fighting the Catholic Church on this issue as a Jewish man?

Shapiro“Certainly I’ve experienced anti-Semitism. There were a number of statements, emails. I don’t read a lot of my social media, but social media postings like that, that were just clearly anti-Semitic. I frankly don’t pay any of that much mind. If at the end of the day, your response to the grand jury report, which uncovered this type of horrific abuse and cover-up, is to attack me with an anti-Semitic slur, then frankly you’ve got the issue.” [NYTimes

ACROSS THE POND — Labour frontbencher used taxpayers’ cash in bid to gag assistant — by  Georgia Edkins: “A Labour MP paid off his Jewish Parliamentary assistant with taxpayers’ money after she accused him of religious discrimination… Khalid Mahmood, the shadow foreign minister for Europe and MP for BirminghamPerry Barr, was taken to an employment tribunal by his former lover and assistant Elaina Cohen… Claims of religious discrimination first surfaced when Mr. Mahmood disciplined Miss Cohen after she called another Labour MP, Naz Shah, an ‘anti-Zionist’ in a tweet in 2016… The shocking revelation comes as hundreds of complaints of anti-Semitism against Labour Party members are thought to remain unaddressed, according to The Times.” [DailyMailTelegraph]

Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Corbyn’s ‘Zionist’ remarks ‘most offensive’ since Enoch Powell [TheJC]

Eli Lake writes… “Jeremy Corbyn’s Warped Worldview: All decent people should stand athwart Labour’s drift into darkness. At the same time, to focus on Corbyn’s anti-Semitism is to miss the wider context of his worldview. He embraces not only the rogues, fanatics and terrorists that despise Israel. He likes the ones that despise America and the U.K., too.” [BloombergView]

SPORTS BLINK — An Unlikely Courtside View of an Unlikely Qualifier — by Marc Stein: “[Julia] Glushko had just put herself in the main draw of the United States Open for the first time since 2014, securing her spot with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory in final-round qualifying over the Russian teenager Anastasia Potopova… With the retirement of the former world No. 11 Shahar Pe’er last year, Glushko is now Israel’s top-ranked woman.” [NYTimes]

Alice Paul Tapper, daughter of Jake, has picture book coming: “Jake Tapper isn’t the only author in his family… Alice Paul Tapper, who turned 11 on Monday, has collaborated with illustrator Marta Kissi on “Raise Your Hand.” The book originates from an idea Alice and fellow Girl Scouts developed after Alice noticed that on a school trip the boys spoke up and girls remained quiet.”[AP

TRANSITION: Daniel Mitzner has been appointed as Teach Advocacy Network’s newly-created position of Director of State Political Affairs. Mitzner previously served as AIPAC’s director of the Brooklyn, Queens & Staten Island region.

BIRTHDAYS: Tech executive, social activist and author, she is the COO of Facebook since 2008 having been VP of global sales at Google (2001-2008), Sheryl Sandberg turns 49… Independent international trade and development professional, Bernard Kupferschmid turns 87… Professor Emeritus of quantum physics at Tel Aviv University, Yakir Aharonov turns 86… Retired general counsel of Queens College of the City University of New York, Jane Denkensohn turns 70… Canadian businesswoman and philanthropist, she is the founder and CEO of retail chain Indigo Books & Music and co-founder and past Chair of Kobo, Heather Reisman turns 70… Founder and CEO of Health Innovation Strategies, she was previously the VP of Innovation at Biogen and Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, Naomi Fried, Ph.D. turns 52… First deputy commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and a lecturer at Columbia Law School, Kai Falkenberg turns 45… Israeli soldier held captive for over 5 years (2006-2011) by Hamas, Gilad Shalit turns 32…

Aug
27

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Daily Kickoff: Remembering Senator John McCain | Trump admin cuts aid to Palestinians | How Fanatics’ Michael Rubin got his start

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REMEMBERING — Lawmakers across the political spectrum, world leaders, and Jewish leaders are mourning the passing of Senator John McCain, who died Saturday after a battle with brain cancer. The funeral will take place on Thursday at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona with former Vice President Joe Biden speaking. McCain will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Friday, followed by a full dress funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to speak at the service. A private funeral is planned for Sunday afternoon. • As a Nation Mourns McCain, Trump Is Conspicuously Absent [NYT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described McCain as “a great supporter of Israel.”

Natan Sharansky writes… “John McCain understood why I refused to leave prison: “I understand why you refused to be released on the USSR’s terms two years ago,” he told me then (in 1986), referring to a deal I rejected, to the shock and consternation of many western supporters… [McCain] knew how it would have been used to break the spirit of other dissidents… McCain understood my reasons because he himself had made the same choice… McCain’s first-hand knowledge of these realities and truths shone through his endeavors throughout his long and illustrious political career.” [ToI]

Jeffrey Goldberg writes… “John McCain Would Have Passed the Anne Frank Test: We spoke every so often about the Holocaust, and its supposed lessons… I told him then that he would most definitely pass the Anne Frank Test. He was unfamiliar with the concept (mildly surprising, given that his best friend was Joe Lieberman)… McCain laughed at the compliment. Then he became serious. “I like to think that in the toughest moments I’d do the right thing, but you never know until you’re tested.” … “I’m pretty sure you’d kill Nazis to defend Anne Frank,” I said. He smiled. “It would be an honor and a privilege.” [TheAtlantic]

Inside John McCain’s ‘Three Amigos’ friendship — by Arlette Saenz: “The time really to get to know your colleagues is when you were fortunate enough to travel with them somewhere because you were on the plane together, you were talking, you were reading,” [former Senator Joe] Lieberman, whom McCain even considered naming as his running mate during his 2008 presidential campaign, said… “This Three Amigo business was more than three different kinds of guys who became friends and sort of had a great time traveling around the world,” he added. “I think we really tried to stand for something.” [ABCNews

— Flashback: John McCain on Converting to Judaism: “Everyone was saying Joe’s the most wonderful guy, the usual crap you hear,” McCain says. “So I got up, I was the last guy, and I say: ‘I’m here to announce that I’m converting to Judaism. Because for all these years with Joe, I’ve had to eat that crappy salmon. I had to ride the damn Shabbat elevator. I’ve observed Shabbat to a point where I couldn’t even ride in a goddamn car. I’ve had all of the bull associated with this religion, and I’ve gotten not a single benefit. So I’m converting to Judaism.’ Lieberman then stood up and announced that before McCain could convert, he must first have a proper bris.” [JewishInsider]

— Last December, McCain was honored at the Saban Forum for his support of the U.S. – Israel alliance [Pic]

Schumer wants Senate building named for McCain: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will introduce a resolution to rename the Senate’s Russell office building after the late Sen. John McCain. In a statement Saturday night, a short time after McCain died, Schumer said, “Nothing will overcome the loss of Senator McCain, but so that generations remember him I will be introducing a resolution to rename the Russell building after him.” [CNNCBS]

McCain’s death marks a new era for congressional checks on Trump — by Karoun Demirjian: “Sen. John McCain’s death heralds a sea change for congressional challenges to the Trump administration on national security… “I don’t like to picture a Senate without Bob Corker and John McCain . . . sometimes we butted heads hard, but I never doubted for a second that they were serious,” former secretary of state John F. Kerry said in an email. McCain and Corker both grilled Kerry fiercely over the Obama administration’s policies, including the deal with Iran to end crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.” [WashPostWSJ]

DRIVING THE CONVO — US cuts aid to Palestinians, cites policy differences — by Matt Lee: “The Trump administration has decided to cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians… The State Department notified Congress of the decision Friday in a brief, three-paragraph notice… It said the administration will redirect the money to “high priority projects elsewhere.”

— “The notice did not give an exact amount of the funds to be cut, but said they had been approved in 2017 as part of a $230.1 million package in economic support funds for the Palestinians.” [AP]

Palestinians Blast Trump’s Aid Cut as Political ‘Blackmail’ — by Isabel Kershner: “This administration is dismantling decades of U.S. vision and engagement in Palestine,” Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s general delegation to the United States, said in a statement. “This is another confirmation of abandoning the two-state solution and fully embracing Netanyahu’s anti-peace agenda… Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work.”[NYTimes]

Former IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner writes… “Trump’s Hardball Policy on the Palestinians Will Blow Up in Israel’s Face: While it is Trump’s prerogative to pick and choose whom to support, and how to support them, the ramifications of these abrupt steps will only empower the radicals. The deal of the century can’t be made with Israel alone, and hardballing the Palestinian into submission is likely to blow up on Israel’s doorstep.”[Haaretz]

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tweets“Nearly every year since the 1990s, the U.S. Palestinian aid program faced holds & other delays in Congress. Clinton, Bush, & Obama Admins had to negotiate to free the money. And you know who the most effective lobbyist was to get Congress to relent? The Israeli Embassy in DC… More likely, this decision represents a terrible decision by Trump’s team, which seems to think it will put pressure on the Palestinians to come to the table (it won’t).”

Marty Peretz writes in the NYTimes — The West Bank Model Is a Failure: “For lovers of Israel, this is the time to make our voices heard. Delegitimization of Israel cannot be tolerated from any quarter. It can’t be tolerated from the increasingly vocal Marxist-influenced contingent of the left for whom all oppression is like all other oppression… But the calumnies of the left do not, ever, justify supporting the delegitimization of democratic Israel from Israel’s right-wing government and the messianic idolaters it bows before.”

“The Israeli model cannot be exported into the West Bank: It is a fact of historical circumstance. The present law — accidentally or not, and probably not — will import the West Bank model into Israel. That will be a catastrophe.” [NYT]

REPORT — Trump to Demand Recognized Palestinian Refugees Be Capped at Tenth of Current Number: “The Trump administration is about to announce a change in policy regarding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)… According to the News Company, a report that is set to be published by the administration at the beginning of September will cap the number of Palestinian refugees at half a million – about a tenth of the UN’s number.” [Haaretz]

Aaron David Miller‏ tweets“Middle East peace is out of reach. But Trump is willfully pursuing the most gratuitous and self destructive policy toward Israel and the Palestinians in decades. There’s only honey for one and vinegar for the other. It is stupid, counter-productive and even unnecessary politically.”

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Trump’s peace plan during a press briefing in Lithuania on Friday: “It is his business if he wants to promote it. He occasionally comments on the matter, and it may come, though I see no urgency in the matter… The Americans are thinking about it. They aren’t blind. But I don’t know — when they suggest it, we’ll see.”

Netanyahu warns Jews still under threat: “For the Jewish people, what has changed in these 75 years? Not the attempts to destroy us, they still seek to destroy us,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told around 300 Lithuanian Jews gathered in Vilnius’s Choral Synagogue. The Israeli leader identified what he termed new existential threats facing the Jews, with Iran and the Islamist movement Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip being among them. “What has changed is our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves… This is a magnificent change of history.” [YahooNews]

Conservative delegates endorse moving Canadian Embassy to Jerusalem — by John Paul Tasker: “Conservative Party members voted overwhelmingly to compel the next Conservative government to move the Canadian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” [CBC]

Duterte gives Israel trip ‘gift’ to retiring military, police officials — by Chad de Guzman: “[Philippine] President Rodrigo Duterte is adding members to his Israel delegation: retiring military and police officers… But Duterte just shrugged off reports that he will be going to the Middle Eastern country for medical purposes. “If they operate on my brain, then better. That would be no problem.” … The President will visit Israel from September 2 to 5, two years after his remarks comparing his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust. From Israel, he will then fly to Jordan.” [CNNPhilippines]

ON THE GROUND — Iran says ‘no third party’ will limit its support to Syria — by Albert Aji: “Iran says its presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Syrian government. “No third party can affect the presence of Iranian advisers in Syria,” Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami told reporters in Damascus. His comments came at the start of a two-day visit to Syria, where he met with the Syrian President Bashar Assad and other senior officials.” [AP]

INSIDE THE ADMIN — Artificial Intelligence Is Now a Pentagon Priority. Will Silicon Valley Help? — by Cade Metz: “In a May memo to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis implored him to create a national strategy for artificial intelligence. Mr. Mattis argued that the United States was not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China and other countries. With a final flourish, he quoted a recent magazine article by Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, and called for a presidential commission capable of “inspiring a whole of country effort that will ensure the U.S. is a leader not just in matters of defense but in the broader ‘transformation of the human condition.’” Mr. Mattis included a copy of Mr. Kissinger’s article with his four-paragraph note.” [NYTimes]

MIDTERMS — Amid controversy, NY State Senate candidate aims to clarify her Jewish identity — by Charles Dunst: “New York State Senate candidate Julia Salazar is pushing back against an article on a Jewish website describing discrepancies in her Jewish and family biography… “My parents weren’t religious when my brother and I were growing up,” Salazar wrote over Facebook Messenger. “Some of my extended family are Jewish; many are Catholic. Others converted from Judaism to Catholicism. My dad didn’t identify as Jewish.” Citing this “extended [Jewish] family,” Salazar told JTA,”I converted, but my engagement with Judaism came from learning about my family background.” [JTA]

PIC: Dr. Richard Roberts hosted a luncheon yesterday for Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in Lakewood, New Jersey [TheLakewoodScoop]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… Michael Cohen thanks GoFundMe donors, birthday well-wishers: “Michael Cohen is tweeting thanks to people who’ve sent him birthday wishes and who’ve contributed to his legal defense fund… Cohen’s GoFundMe page, dubbed the “Michael Cohen Truth Fund” has raised close to $160,000 from about 3,000 donations. One anonymous donor gave $50,000.” [AP

Chemi Shalev writes… “If Trump Falls, the Testimonies of Cohen, Pecker and Weisselberg Could Spark an anti-Semitic Backlash: The Jewishness of the three former Trump aides who have now decided to testify against him could mar the artificial tranquility and, in a worst-case scenario, spark a dangerous wave of anti-Semitism. American Jewish leaders would do well to prepare for such a stormy day.” [Haaretz

** Good Monday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: U.S., Mexico said poised to reach NAFTA deal, negotiated by Robert Lighthizer and Jared Kushner, as soon as today[Bloomberg] • WeWork to Open Jerusalem Coworking Space[Calcalist] • Adam Neumann hosted Lorde at the annual ‘summer camp’ gathering for WeWork staffers [VanityFair] • Chelsea deny reports Roman Abramovich is considering selling club [TheGuardian

PROFILE: Glenn Greenwald, the Bane of Their Resistance — by Ian Parker: “One of Greenwald’s debating assets is charmlessness. He brings scant greenroom bonhomie onstage, and rarely smiles; he seems content to risk appearing disagreeable, or wrongheaded… [Eli] Lake was measured and genial. After the segment, Greenwald felt dissatisfied. “I just know Eli too well,” he said. “We’ve just fought and argued on every medium.” Lake’s views were “horrible”—he was a “hard-core neocon and a loyalist to Israel”—but he “doesn’t take himself super seriously.” … Lake later told me that he thinks Greenwald is mistaken in believing “that everything that the U.S. government does is malevolent.” But he added, “In a weird way, I’m grateful that there’s somebody as articulate, unrelenting, and consistent as Glenn making that argument.”[NewYorker]

TALK OF THE TOWN: Miami’s fake Saudi prince withdraws his guilty plea on charges of swindling millions — by Jay Weaver: “Anthony Gignac, who authorities say posed as a member of the Saudi royal family to impress wealthy South Florida investors so he could rip them off, has been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea on impersonating a foreign government official, identity theft and fraud charges… When Anthony Gignac set his sights on Miami, he targeted super-rich real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer of Turnberry Associates… At first, Soffer fell for the con man’s pitch to buy an interest in one of his hotels, even lavishing $50,000 in luxury gifts on the “sultan,” according to sources familiar with a federal investigation.”[MiamiHerald]

A Year on From Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s Jewish Community Still Traumatized — by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “Of the 26,000 Jewish households in Houston, some 2,000 lost their homes to Hurricane Harvey’s devastation… A year on, 55 percent of Houston’s Jewish Family Service clients are not yet back in their homes, says its CEO Linda Burger. So while they pay rent on their temporary housing or double up with family members, they are also making mortgage payments on ruined homes… Like individual families, Jewish institutions are still struggling. Houston’s Jewish senior nursing home, Seven Acres, evacuated residents from the first floor during the hurricane and hasn’t been able to move anyone back yet.” [Haaretz] • Troubled Waters: A Year After Harvey, Has Houston Learned Anything? [TexasMonthly]

Jewish Heirs Take on an Art Foundation That Rights Nazi Wrongs — by William Cohan: “The German Lost Art Foundation operates a database of art likely looted by the Nazis… But now the foundation is being criticized for removing from public view 63 works by the Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele… The removal — a rare step — is being challenged by the heirs of a popular Viennese cabaret performer, Fritz Grünbaum, whose sizable art collection, including 81 Schieles, was inventoried by Nazi agents in 1938 after he had been sent to a concentration camp where he died. The heirs say the Schieles in question were definitely Grünbaum’s property and confiscated by the Nazis. Earlier this year, they persuaded a New York State court of the merits of their claim, and a judge ordered that two of the Schieles… be returned to the family.” [NYTimes]

LongRead: The Liberty of Nations — by Yoram Hazony: “A more compelling anti-nationalist position was proposed by Elie Kedourie in his 1960 book “Nationalism,” which founded an entire academic movement devoted to analyzing the shortcomings of nationalism. Kedourie, an Iraqi-Jewish scholar who admired the Ottoman and British empires, understood that nationalism is not a mental state. It is a political theory that suggests the world is governed best when it is divided into diverse nations, each having independence and self-government… Nationalism is “a chain reaction, a vicious circle,” Kedourie wrote, observing that minorities on the wrong side of an international border become “a foreign body in the state” and are persecuted by the majority as it strives either to assimilate or expel them. Perhaps most important, Kedourie believed that nationalist agitation over borders had precipitated the devastating conflicts of the 20th century.” [WSJ

SPORTS BLINK — Falcons Owner Arthur Blank Once Ripped Robert Kraft For Donald Trump Support — by Joshua Schrock: “In New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich’s new book “Big Game, The NFL In Dangerous Times,” Blank recounted a time that he ripped his good friend Kraft for his support of Trump… “I said, ‘You f*****, you’ve given him a lot of money,’ “ Blank told Kraft. “You have influence and spend time with him,’“ Blank persisted. “‘Robert, there are things he’s saying and doing that are not great for this country. And the smartest people in the world today, you know they’re viewing him as a four-year mistake.’” [NESNNBCSports]

Entrepreneur Michael Rubin Got an Early Start — by Alexandra Wolfe: “By the time the e-commerce entrepreneur and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin was eight years old, he was making money selling vegetable seeds, homemade stationery and snow-shoveling services. By the time he turned 11, he had set up his own ski-tuning shop in his parents’ basement. At 16 he found himself deep in debt—some of his ski inventory wasn’t selling, and he had splurged on a new Porsche for himself before even getting his license. His father had to bail him out… Today, the e-commerce entrepreneur owns businesses such as Fanatics and Rue Gilt Groupe, and is worth an estimated $3 billion.”

“In the next several years, Mr. Rubin hopes to buy an NFL team. Last spring, he was bidding to buy the Carolina Panthers but says that he dropped out when it looked like the price would go higher than he was willing to pay… Looking back, Mr. Rubin says that he wishes he’d had more of a childhood. “I could never get to class on time because I was buying and selling clothes,” he says. “I was moving so fast.” If he could do it all over again, he thinks that he could have waited until graduating from college to start his business. “I’d probably be a normal kid and not be so rushed.” [WSJ]

REMEMBERING — Neil Simon, Broadway Master of Comedy, Is Dead at 91 — by Charles Isherwood: “Neil Simon, the playwright… who helped redefine popular American humor… died on Sunday in Manhattan… Mr. Simon and Woody Allen… were probably equally significant in shaping the currents of American comedy in the 1960s and ’70s… Together they helped make the comedy of urban neurosis — distinctly Jewish-inflected — as American as the homespun humor of “Leave It to Beaver.” … Mr. Allen and Mr. Simon, who shared roots in the urban Jewish lower middle classes, were also united by the classic funnyman’s ability to inspire belly laughs by the millions in other people while managing to find the dark clouds hovering insistently over their own fates.” [NYTimes]

Princeton Lyman, U.S. ambassador who helped guide South Africa out of apartheid, dies at 82 — by Matt Schudel: “Princeton Lyman, a career diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and later to South Africa, where he helped engineer the transition from the country’s apartheid era of white supremacy to a multiracial, democratically elected government in the 1990s, died Aug. 24 at his home in Silver Spring, Md… Princeton Nathan Lyman was born Nov. 20, 1935, in San Francisco. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania who ran a corner grocery store in a largely African American neighborhood.” [WashPost]

DESSERT — Kosher Dairy Marks 80 Years At Center Of East Village Life — by Caroline Spivack: “[B&H Dairy] was founded by Abie Bergson in 1938 for a generation of Jewish immigrants, serving Yiddish comfort-staples including crisp latkes, knishes and borscht… Today, it is run by an Egyptian Muslim, Fawzy Abdelwahed, and his Polish Catholic wife, Ola Smigielska, who try and keep things consistent… Locals who began noshing on blintzes when they were kids now bring their children to the restaurant for the timeless grub, but also to mingle with cashiers, waiters and cooks who have worked at the restaurant for years.” [Patch]

The Invitation-Only Kosher Gourmet Dinner Club — by Shira Feder: “At The Musket Club, the new kosher gourmet dinner club that operates on word-of-mouth, the menu only comes at the end of the meal. The chefs want the food to be a surprise, and it often is.” [Forward]

Magazine names Covenant winemaker a ‘40 under 40’ innovator — by Alix Wall: “Jonathan Hajdu, associate winemaker at Covenant Winery, a kosher business in Berkeley, has been named one of Wine Enthusiast magazine’s “40 Under 40 American Tastemakers.” [JWeekly]

BIRTHDAYS: Former director of the White House National Economic Council in the Trump administration (2017-2018), he was previously the president and COO of Goldman Sachs (2006-2017), Gary Cohn turns 58… Ambassador of Israel to Poland, she previously was Consul General in San Francisco (1989-1992), ambassador to Ukraine (1999-2003) and ambassador to Russia (2007-2010), Anna Azari turns 59… Director of international affairs in the Peres & Associates firm after serving as an advisor to President Shimon Peres, he was previously an Israeli diplomat, Nadav Tamir turns 57… Washington editor-at-large of The Atlantic and editor-in-chief of AtlanticLIVE, the magazine’s live events series, Steve Clemons turns 56…

Israeli-born professor of computer science at Stanford University focused on artificial intelligence, she is a 2004 winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Daphne Koller turns 50… Member of the Illinois House of Representatives (2011-2013) and the Illinois Senate since 2013, he was previously an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, Daniel Biss turns 41… Senior adviser at FDD, former deputy chief of staff for Sen. Mark Kirk and chief of staff for Gov. Bruce Rauner, Richard Goldberg turns 35… Co-founder of theSkimm, Danielle Merriah Weisberg turns 32… Michael Weiss turns 24… Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Shai Babad… Yuval Sapir… Talia Rubin

Aug
24

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Daily Kickoff: Interview with New Jersey Congressional candidate Tom Malinowski | NSC memo in Trump White House warned of Obama Echo Chamber

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UPDATED IN DEBUT — Breaking News: Allen Weisselberg, President Trump’s longtime financial gatekeeper, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to the WSJ.

— Maggie Haberman points out the significance: “Cohen knew about the payoffs related to women and certain details. Weisselberg knows all the rest.”

TOP TALKER — The Conspiracy Memo About Obama Aides That Circulated in the Trump White House — by Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow: “In early 2017, some of Donald Trump’s advisers concluded that they faced a sophisticated threat responsible for “coordinated attacks” on the new Administration. They circulated a memo that… claimed that the “communications infrastructure” that the Obama White House used to “sell Obamacare and the Iran Deal to the public” had been moved to the private sector, now that the former aides were out of government. It called the network the Echo Chamber and accused its members of mounting a coördinated effort “to undermine President Trump’s foreign policy” through organized attacks in the pres…”

“Some of the same conspiracy theories expressed in the memo appear in internal documents from an Israeli private-intelligence firm [Black Cube] that mounted a covert effort to collect damaging information about aides to President Obama who had advocated for the Iran deal.”

From the memo: “Many of the figures in this network were focused on selling Obama’s Iran Deal, so there is something of a Middle East/Iran slant to the network’s membership. Likely Leadership: Responsible for higher-level strategy and higher-level fundraising. Probably also responsible for senior-level political outreach with major Democrat donors (e.g., Tom Nides and Alan Solow) and members of Congress. Ben Rhodes. Likely the brain behind this operation… Jake Sullivan. Former NSA to VP Biden.”

“In a statement, Rhodes described the memo as “a bizarre effort to validate ‘deep state’ conspiracy theories” and said that, “given Trump’s many efforts to intimidate and malign his critics, it’s worth asking how his White House and outside enablers acted on this strange memo.” [NewYorker]

Reactions — Mike Doren replied to Adam Entous: “This article fails to mention the long series of leaks of intel by serving & former Obama officials to friendly reporters re Trump associates (Flynn, Prince, Sessions, Page)—including leaks to you, Adam. But “the Echo Chamber” is a rightwing conspiracy theory. What a joke!”

— Former Obama White House official Colin Kahl: “The fact that a memo like this even exists is a scandal. The NSC’s role to staff the President & coordinate the interagency on foreign policy—it is NOT the job of the NSC to map and target domestic political opponents or collude with outside allies to do so.” [Twitter]

NEW LOOK — More Ops, More Secrets, More Money: Mossad’s Supercharged Transformation — by Chaim Levinson: “The Mossad under [Yossi] Cohen is a large body that uses a variety of means and is active in many countries. For his part, Prime Minister Netanyahu gives Cohen a free hand to do whatever he wishes. The organization’s budget has constantly grown during Cohen’s tenure; it seems that no request goes unfulfilled… Today, even Cohen’s few critics in the defense establishment point out that the agency’s operative capabilities have been upgraded.”

“Overall, he enjoys sharing hints and winks relating to successful operations with journalists, principally from foreign media outlets. About three weeks ago, after the assassination of the Syrian rocket engineer Aziz Asber, which was attributed to Israel, a “senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency” told The New York Times that the Mossad was responsible for the killing. One can only conjecture about the identity of the senior figure who is so well-informed about the operation.” [Haaretz]

DEEP DIVE — For Female Candidates, Harassment and Threats Come Every Day — by Maggie Astor: “It has been two years since Erin Schrode, now 27, lost her Democratic primary and moved on. But the abuse — a toxic sludge of online trolling steeped in misogyny and anti-Semitism that also included photoshopped images of her face stretched into a Nazi lampshade and references to “preheating the ovens” — never stopped… Last year, sexist and anti-Semitic abuse helped drive Kim Weaver, an Iowa Democrat, out of her race against Representative Steve King.” [NYTimes]

ROAD TO THE MIDTERMS — Interview with Tom Malinowski, a Democratic challenger in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, running against Republican Congressman Leonard Lance — by Jacob Kornbluh: Malinowski served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in President Barack Obama’s 2nd term (2014-2017). He also served as a foreign policy speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

While Lance has generally had an easy time getting re-elected for the seat he’s held since 2009, this district is one of 25 GOP-held House districts that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election, and is now ranked as a ‘toss-up” by the Cook Political Report.

“I am myself an immigrant from Poland. My family was not Jewish, but experienced life under the Nazi occupation,” Malinowski said in an in-depth interview with Jewish Insider. “My grandmother and great-grandmother sheltered Jewish friends and neighbors during the war, and I grew up with those stories. That’s where my commitment to defending human rights comes from. That’s where my belief in the importance of protecting Israel comes from.”

Malinowski stated that support for Israel cannot be turned into a partisan issue for short-term political gain. “The argument that it is the Republican Party that is aligning with Israel in the United States can only fuel the movement on the Left to question and challenge the U.S.-Israeli partnership,” he explained. “The more partisan this issue becomes, the more polarized Americans will become on support for Israel.”

Malinowski on the Jerusalem Embassy: “I was fine with the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. When I worked for President Clinton, we used to travel to meet the Israeli government in Jerusalem, because that is the capital and we recognized it in practice. I have no problem with recognizing it formally. I did have a very big problem with inviting, to give the open benediction at the ceremony, a pastor who believes that Jews are going to hell. I think that experience should give all of us some pause as to what’s really going on here.”

On the Iran deal: “I think the deal was not perfect because it did not address some of the most problematic aspects of Iranian behavior, but the deal did set Iran’s nuclear program back by many years, and we did have an offer from the Europeans earlier this year to work with the United States to get much tougher on Iran. The Trump administration inexplicably rejected that deal, and the result is that instead of the United States working with Europe to counter Iran, Europe is now working with Iran to counter the United States. I think that’s bad for our security. I think it’s particularly bad for Israel. The United States is too isolated to effectively counter Iran or protect Israel alone.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]  

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer headlined a fundraiser hosted by NORPAC in support of Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in Englewood, New Jersey. The event was co-hosted by NORPAC President Ben Chouake, and Michael Blumenthal.

DRIVING THE CONVO — Another controversy is brewing over the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, a battle that has heightened since the stunning primary upset by Alxenadria Ocasio-Cortez. This time in New York City’s Borough of Brooklyn. Julia Salazar, who like Ocasio-Cortez is a member the Democratic Socialists of America, is challenging incumbent State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan in the September 13 primary for New York’s 18th State Senate District. She is backed by The Jewish Vote, affiliated with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

— Like her DSA colleagues, Congressional candidates Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, Salazar supports the BDS movement and is against a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BACKGROUND: Salazar comes “from a unique Jewish background,” according to the Forward. She was born in Colombia, and her father was Jewish, descended from the community expelled from medieval Spain. When her family immigrated to the United States, they had little contact with the American Jewish community, struggling to establish themselves financially. At first, while in college, Salazar identified herself as a right-wing pro-Israel Christian.

In 2012, she attended AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in Washington and later traveled to Israel for the first time on a CUFI-sponsored trip. Just a few months later, as she began to develop her Jewish identity at Columbia Univesity, Salazar helped charter Columbia’s J Street U chapter and expressed criticism of Israel in articles for the Columbia Spectator and Mondoweiss. She also protested Israel’s action in Gaza with IfNotNow.

From Tablet’s Armin Rosen: “According to messages from Salazar obtained by Tablet, during her period of pro-Israel activism she told students at Columbia that her mother’s family was from Israel. At one point in the fall of 2012, just a year before keeping a kosher apartment, she described herself as a fervently Christian descendant of Israelis… Based on her activism with CUFI and other available evidence, she appears to have had a Christian upbringing. A 2009 funeral notice for her father… indicates that the service was held at the Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Ormond Beach, Florida. When reached by phone, Alex Salazar, the candidate’s older brother… said that one of their father’s brothers was a Jesuit priest… “There was nobody in our immediate family who was Jewish … my father was not Jewish, we were not raised Jewish,” he said.” [Tablet]

Bari Weiss‏ tweets“The candidate is running on her identity as a Colombian immigrant and Jew of color. But it seems she is neither of those things.”

Salazar responded last night: “To every reporter who’s ever asked, to every person, I have always said that I was not raised religious, that I didn’t have a bat mitzvah, that *I am* Jewish, but never would claim that my big brother is… The author of this piece anonymously called my older brother, pretended to be someone else (my brother said he thought it was a prank call), and asked him invasive questions about his life and about our dead dad.”

Salazar Goes from $70,000 to $200 in Unitemized Donations — by RJ Sonbeek“Under pressure from her opponent’s campaign… Salazar decided to disclose the $70,000 in unitemized donations from the past two filing periods… Now, there is less than $200 left in unitemized donations… The largest individual donations came from Paul Egerman, the treasure of Democracy Alliance and his wife Joanne, who each donated $1,000 on separate occasions.” [KingsCountyPolitics]

2020 WATCH — Jason Kander, who passed on a 2020 presidential run to run for mayor of Kansas City, tells Gabe Fleisher, the young author of the Wake Up To Politics newsletter, that he has no interest to run for president in the future.

Kander added: If Democrats “don’t get 2018 right, then we’re gonna feel really silly for having focused on 2020 beforehand. It’s gonna make it a lot harder for Democrats to win in 2020 as well if we don’t do well in 2018… Remember that the ‘blue wave’ is not a weather event. It’s something we make happen.You can’t sit back and watch the meteorologist report on the Blue Wave, it doesn’t work that way.”

TALK OF THE REGION — Bolton and his Russian counterpart discuss arms control, Syria and Iran — by Karen DeYoung: “After a five-hour meeting in Geneva with Putin adviser Nikolai Patrushev… Bolton said they also discussed Syria and Iran… Bolton said that he rejected, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had in earlier discussions, a Russian proposal to geographically “constrict” Iranian forces to a certain part of Syria — away from Israel’s border — in exchange for U.S. suspension of sanctions it plans to impose on Iranian oil exports in November. Bolton said he explained that the administration’s intention was “to put maximum pressure on the [Iranian] regime and to tighten up the sanctions so that they would be at a minimum equal to the sanctions in effect” before the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.”[WashPostAl-Monitor]

— In an interview with The Associated PressBolton said he had expressed the U.S. “priority of getting all Iranian forces out of Syria,” and that he and Patrushev had discussed “a number of ideas” about how to do that, without specifying. “We’re not going to solve Syria here,” he said.

Bolton announces plan to defund the UN’s Human Rights Council: “We are going to defund the Human Rights Council,” Bolton said, while warning that other U.N. agencies could also be up for cuts in U.S. funding…” [AP] • Israel hails US for halting Human Rights Council funding [ToI]

UN official: Palestinian refugee issue can’t be wished away: “The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees suggested that the United States slashed his budget early this year to punish the Palestinians for their criticism of the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital… “One cannot simply wish 5 million people away,” [Pierre] Kraehenbuehl, commissioner of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said in an interview.” [AP]

Tech Giants Target Accounts Linked to Iran — by Dustin Volz and Robert McMillan: “America’s biggest tech companies are zeroing in on Iran, scrubbing their online networks of fake accounts, videos and social-media posts by the rising cyber adversary aimed at spreading misinformation… The fake accounts promoted “particular narratives and angles in line with Iranian national interests,” such as pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli stories, said Lee Foster, a manager with FireEye’s analysis group.” [WSJ]

FOGGY BOTTOM: Pompeo taps Ford executive to lead North Korea negotiations — by John Hudson: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo… said that Stephen Biegun, the vice president of international governmental affairs at Ford, would handle day-to-day talks with Pyongyang and that the two men would travel to North Korea next week to resume the negotiations…” [WashPost] • Special Envoys Were Once Disdained Under Trump. Now They’re Popping Up All Over [NYT]

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tweets“Great choice, Sec. Pompeo! I worked with Steve Biegun for years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and when he served in the GWBush Administration. He is a top-notch foreign policy professional, and an even better human being.”

— Wendy Sherman tweets‏“New special envoys for Iran, Syria and North Korea but where are the assistant secretaries, the team and most of all the strategy. At same time OMB trying to rescind State funds. Diplomacy is Not for the Faint of Heart!”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — David Pecker, CEO of National Enquirer Publisher, Granted Immunity in Michael Cohen Case — by Nicole Hong and Lukas I. Alpert: “David Pecker, the chief executive of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen and President Trump in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign…” [WSJ

Trump’s National Enquirer Allies Are the Latest to Defect — by Gabriel Sherman: “Pecker’s apparent decision to corroborate Cohen’s account, and implicate Trump in a federal crime, is another vivid example of how isolated Trump is becoming as the walls close in and his former friends look for ways out. “Holy s**t, I thought Pecker would be the last one to turn,” a Trump friend told me.”

“One source close to the White House said Trump is considering announcing he’s revoked additional security clearances to create a new story line. The source added that Trump is even considering taking clearances from former members of his administration, including former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and secretary of state Rex Tillerson.” [VanityFair]

SIGHTING: Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) met with Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America at his district office yesterday. “We discussed many topics including US-Israeli relations and the Never Again Education Act. My support for Israel is unwavering,” Budd tweeted. [Pic]

IMAGE: Israeli Prime Minister showed off the latest books he’s reading while on a flight to Lithuania: Niall Ferguson’s The Square and the Tower and Will Durant’s Heroes of History [Pic]

— Niall Ferguson tweets“Good to see The Square and the Tower being read by a key node in the global network.”

** Good Friday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: In Roman Abramovich’s case, Comcast blames property manager [AspenDailyNews] • In Jaffa, Luxury Hotel Built on Crusaders Era Ruins Draws Social Ire [CTech• Gary Barnett’s Extell refinancing three Manhattan projects with $500M loan from JPMorgan Chase [RealDeal] • Estee Lauder considers locating $14.5 million engineering center on Long Island [Newsday] • NewsGuard, founded by Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz, Wants to Fight Fake News With Humans, Not Algorithms [Wired]

Redef’s Jason Hirschhorn on Recode Media with Peter Kafka: “I had lunch with Bob Iger. And Iger, I’m going to paraphrase here, but we’re having lunch at Disney and Iger says, “You know, you’re an idiot.” And I’m like, “Why is that, Bob?” And he goes, “You give away for free what we pay tens of millions of dollars a year from management consultants for.” So, thus came in the idea of a subscription and paywall.” [Recode]

Bill and Hillary Clinton put on a loved-up display at circus-themed wedding of their longtime donor’s son — by Chris Spargo: “Love was in the air last weekend at the most unlikely of places, as the son of billionaire hedge fund manager Marc Lasry was married in a ceremony that was held on the grounds of Harvey Weinstein’s Connecticut estate… Even more impressive than that feat was the guest list for the event, which included former president Bill Clinton and his former secretary of state wife Hillary Clinton, both of whom are close friends of the father-of-the-groom.” [DailyMail]

Bill Clinton drew a crowd on Martha’s Vineyard, but Hillary Clinton ‘stole the show’ — by Kevin Slane: “Former president Bill Clinton drew a packed crowd on Martha’s Vineyard Wednesday night, discussing politics and his new novel, “The President is Missing,” at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center… Notables in the audience included attorney Alan Dershowitz… According to the [MV] Times… it was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who “stole the show,” walking out onstage with her husband amid screams and cheers.” [Boston]

Treasury Moves to Block New Yorkers’ Path Around Cap on State Tax Deductions — by Richard Rubin: “Treasury’s proposal would also pinch tax-credit programs that benefit private schools in Georgia, Arizona and elsewhere, largely preventing taxpayers there from getting more money back in tax breaks than they contribute in donations.” [WSJ]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Avi Issacharoff, a veteran Israeli journalist covering Palestinian affairs and co-creator of the Netflix series “Fauda” discussed his coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how it inspired Fauda on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast with Dave Davies: “We don’t see prime-time TV shows that are dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And if to be honest, you know, it’s a very boring issue… For Israelis, it’s like – it’s happening every day outside your window or outside your neighborhood. So why would you like to go and see a TV show about that? It’s terrible. You hear it in the news all day…”

“But, of course, as Israelis, you don’t know much about the Palestinian society… I would say that 90 percent of the Israelis didn’t meet Palestinians in their life — and vice versa, by the way. I mean, 90 percent of the Palestinians do not know who the Israelis are or what the Israeli society is like… So it is one of the biggest challenges to show the Israeli public the other side, the enemy side — showing him as not a demon, not demonizing him as many of the media outlets are trying to do — but the opposite and making the audience still like the show, which is totally crazy.” [FreshAir

How the Nazis Got to New York: Immigration Fraud — by Ali Winston: “On June 27, 1949, [Jakiw] Palij walked into the American consular office in Schweinfurt, Germany, and applied for a visa under the Displaced Persons Act, which was meant for people left homeless by the war, said Peter Black, the former chief historian for a Department of Justice unit devoted to deporting former Nazis. Mr. Palij claimed that he had worked as a laborer on his father’s farm in Piadyki, which was then part of Poland, and as a factory worker in Germany during the war. With him was Jaroslaw Bilaniuk, who was from Mr. Palij’s village. Mr. Bilaniuk’s application claimed he worked as a self-employed woodworker in Piadyki and then as a farm laborer in Germany until the end of the war.” [NYTimes]

ACROSS THE POND — Jewish Labour MP ‘feels unwelcome’ after Corbyn comments: “A Jewish Labour MP says she feels “unwelcome” in the party after a video emerged showing Jeremy Corbyn accusing British Zionists of having “no sense of English irony.” Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger described the Labour leader’s comments in a 2013 speech as “inexcusable.” The clip was published on the Daily Mail website as Mr Corbyn makes efforts to tackle anti-Semitism in his party.” [BBC]

Josh Frydenberg appointed treasurer of Australia — by Cnaan Liphshiz: “Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s environment minister, has been appointed to the influential position of the country’s treasurer following a cabinet reshuffle. Frydenberg, 47 swore his oath of office Thursday in parliament while wearing a kippah and placing his right hand on a copy of the Hebrew Bible. He received the promotion following the implosion of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet over dissatisfaction within his party and beyond with his energy policies.” [JTA]

DESSERT — Big Changes Are Happening for Popular Deli Mile End — by Serena Dai: “Popular Jewish-Canadian deli Mile End just lost its opening chef and founder, Noah Bernamoff — but the restaurant has big expansion plans, particularly throughout the South… Joel Tietolman, who became a partner at Mile End in 2012, remains at the restaurant and has brought on Birmingham, Alabama-based chef Adam Grusin as a partner at the company.” [EaterNY]

Spotted in Jewish DC: Alex Levin’s Rosh Hashanah Pop-Up Bakeshop! — by Allison Friedman: “This is the 3rd Annual Rosh Hashanah Pop-Up Bakeshop. Each year, the interest and popularity of this grows exponentially. We have increased our production potential to make sure we have challah and desserts for everyone who is interested. I’ve also done pop-ups in the past for Thanksgiving and other holidays.” [GatherDC]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: President of Harvard University since July 2018, he was president of Tufts University (2001-2011), Lawrence Seldon Bacow turns 67… Co-chair of the Real Estate practice and the Infrastructure practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, he is the vice-chair of Birthright, active in the RJC and serves on many Jewish communal boards, J. Philip Rosen turns 62… CNN political analyst and former moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory turns 48… Professor at UCSD and the 1990 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Harry Markowitz turns 91… Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, he also teaches at Cardozo Law School, Rabbi J. David Bleich turns 82… Retired director of geriatric care management at the law offices of Roy W. Litherland (near San Jose, CA), in 2016 she relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona, Lois G. Tager… Co-founder and president of Infinity Broadcasting (now known as CBS Radio), he eventually became the president and CEO of CBS, then he was the CEO of Sirius Radio (2004-2012), Mel Karmazin turns 75…

Celebrity furniture designer known for his eponymous furniture brand, Dakota Jackson, Inc., he was born in Rego Park, Queens, NY as David Malon, Dakota Jackson turns 69… Senior principal at TSD Communications, she formerly worked in both the Clinton and Obama White House, Ricki Seidman turns 63… Essayist and long-time staff writer for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnikturns 62… Actor, producer and director Steve Guttenberg turns 60… President of Pace University (with campus locations in Manhattan and Westchester County) since August 2017, he was president of Oberlin College for ten years (2007-2017), Marvin Krislov turns 58… Woodland Hills, California resident, she is a professional organizer, Donna Barwald turns 56… 1986 winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Children of a Lesser God, she is the only deaf performer to have won the award, Marlee Matlin turns 53… British Internet entrepreneur, journalist and blogger, he founded Gawker Media, Nick Denton turns 52…

Member of the Colorado House of Representatives (2000-2008), the last four years of which he served as Speaker, Andrew Romanoff turns 52… Regional Director of the Chicago office of the Anti-Defamation League, Lonnie Nasatirturns 49… President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of MLB’s Texas Rangers, Jon Daniels turns 41… Founder and executive director of the bipartisan group New Politics, Emily Cherniack turns 41… CEO of the JCommerce Group, an e-commerce enterprise that services the Jewish community, David M. Perelman turns 29… Communications director for Illinois Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker, Galia Slayen turns 28… Samantha Rose (“Sammy”) Feinstein turns 28… Communications manager for SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, she was previously an assistant White House press secretary and a staffer at the Republican National Committee, Natalie Strom

SATURDAY: Phoenix-based award winning journalist, Leni Reiss… Award winning British novelist, he is known for writing comic novels that revolve around the dilemmas of Jewish characters, and has been described as the “Jewish Jane Austen,” Howard Jacobson turns 76… Founder and senior strategy officer at Mosaic H+H Advisors, Harley Mayersohn turns 69… Born in Haifa, the bass guitarist and co-lead singer of Kiss, Gene Simmons (his birth name is Chaim Witz) turns 69… Chairman of the Board Emeritus at the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Lorin Fife turns 65… Suzanne Schneider turns 42…

Former member of the White House National Economic Council during the Obama administration, he was a recent candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, Nathaniel Loewentheil turns 33… Director of state government affairs for the DC-based Organization for International Investment, Evan Hoffman turns 31… Reporter at The Weekly Standard, Jenna Lifhits… Adam Friedman turns 24… Carina Grossman… Robert Cohen… Founder and Board Chair of Everybody Dance Now!, Jackie Rotman… Program Director at the American Zionist Movement, Alicia Post… Program Director at the St. Paul, Minnesota JCC, Fred Haeusler

SUNDAY: Rabbi (now emeritus) of Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta, noted author, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman turns 91… Iraqi born novelist, now living in Canada, author of more than 40 books on Jewish themes, Naïm Kattanturns 90… Financial advisor in the Baltimore office of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, George Strum turns 80… CEO of Siegelvision, a brand identity consultancy, lan Siegel turns 80… Mayor of Tel Aviv since 1998, following 26 years in the Israeli Air Force, Ron Huldai turns 74… Super-lawyer at the DC law firm of Williams & Connolly, his clients include Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Laura Bush and many others, Robert Barnett turns 72…

Former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives (2000-2006 and again 2010-2016), Irving Slosberg turns 71… Jay Caplan turns 70… Board chair of Gap, Inc., a retail chain founded by his parents, Robert J. Fisher turns 64… Journalist and co-author of the Freakonomics series, Stephen J. Dubner turns 55… Progressive political activist, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue turns 49… Canadian technology and media entrepreneur, Lorne Abony turns 49… Deputy General Counsel at ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), Samantha Eisner turns 43… CEO of Los Angeles-based consulting and PR firm Inside Revolution, Ariel Maurice (“Ari”) Ratner turns 38… John Train… Carrie Shapiro

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…