Daily Kickoff: Amb. Friedman says Trump’s ‘both sides’ remark “wasn’t fine” | Bob Kraft introduced Dershowitz to Trump | Victoria Coates’ new role


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TOP TALKER: “Israel Wants Russia and U.S. to Know It Can Wreck Syria Deal” by David Wainer: “Current and former senior Israeli security officials say Netanyahu wants Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump to take Israel’s security concerns into account as they try to stabilize Syria. Moshe Ya’alon, who served as Israel’s defense minister during the war, said Israel may be forced to strike militarily if Iran isn’t expelled. “We had the expectation that a deal between Trump and Putin would deal with the Iranian threat on our border,” Ya’alon said in an interview in Tel Aviv. “It’s clear that if there is no solution, in the end we might have to take action ourselves.” … Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Moscow… expects Netanyahu and Putin “will try to find a solution in which the Iranians can stay in Syria under Russian control,” with no military units and no military bases.” [Bloomberg

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: 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 senior Foreign and Defense Ministry officials, as part of “a regular and ongoing dialogue between Israel and the White House,” a senior Israeli official said. At the same time, the Prime Minister’s office went out of its way to reject recent criticism of the US administration and clarify that the dialogue is productive and strong. Before embarking to Russia, PMO officials briefed reporters that the security delegation lead by Mossad head Yossi Cohen came back from the White House last week “very satisfied with the US thorough understanding of the Israeli positions about the increasing Iranian presence in Syria and agreed to continue constant contact on the matter.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Talks Reassure Israel That U.S. Wants Iran Out of Syria” by Eli Lake: “Last Thursday, a senior delegation of Israelis started consultations with their U.S. counterparts to begin planning a wider strategy to pressure Iran, Hezbollah and other Shiite militias to leave the Levant… One senior National Security Council official told me the plan was to make it “less pleasant for Iran to stay than to leave.” A senior Israeli official confirmed that the two sides agreed to work together on a regional strategy to address Iran’s efforts to expand its presence in Syria and Lebanon… Trump’s team has also pursued cooperation with Russia in Syria, but has not sought such cooperation with Iran… The meeting last week with the Israelis helped smooth an important ally’s ruffled feathers.”

“The meeting also counters a narrative put out by McMaster’s adversaries in Washington that he is hostile to Israel. The Israeli official told me that he was particularly generous with his time, inviting the delegation to his home for dinner and impressing on the Israelis the importance the president places on countering Iranian influence in the Middle East… Both Israeli and U.S. officials tell me they expect more working-level follow-ups on the consultations.” [BloombergView]

“Kushner heads to Israel for latest attempt at peace deal” by Tracy Wilkinson and Noah Bierman: “Kushner, [Jason] Greenblatt and Dina Powell have spent the last two days in the region meeting leaders from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia… They will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders separately Thursday… The State Department, which would normally lead the search for a diplomatic solution, has taken a back seat to the Kushner missions. “We provide backup assistance to them and attend meetings with them,” said Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman. “And then upon their return we do a debrief and have conversations about what they learned and where things stand.”” [LATimes

“McMaster adds muscle to Kushner’s Middle East peace effort” by Annie Karni: “By bringing on Victoria Coates, Greenblatt would get a senior point of contact on the NSC who would be fully devoted to his project. McMaster, too, was pleased with the arrangement: it helped integrate what Greenblatt and Kushner had been doing with his NSC desk. The group saw it as a win-win-win, and the move was quickly finalized. Coates, an art historian and a longtime Republican foreign policy adviser, was promoted to senior director of international negotiations and moved offices to sit with Greenblatt’s team in the Old Executive Office Building, across the street from the White House.”

“The move, White House officials and outside advisers said, underscored the administration’s commitment to brokering a Middle East peace deal, even amid recent setbacks in the region. And it showed the unorthodox administration giving a bigger partnership role in the region to the NSC — the traditional forum where foreign policy decisions are brokered… Coates is a spirited choice to work with Kushner and Greenblatt, two Trump loyalists who are new to politics and foreign policy. Former colleagues described her as whip-smart but high-intensity and sometimes territorial.” [Politico]

Kushner met with King Abdullah II in Jordan yesterday: “Talks focused on efforts to push forward the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and re-launch serious and effective negotiations between the two sides based on the two-state solution, which is the only way to end the conflict, a Royal Court statement said. His Majesty stressed the pivotal role of US, underlining President Trump’s commitment to working for a peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” [JordanTimes] • Saudi crown prince discusses Mideast peace with U.S. officials [Reuters

“Frustrated with US, Abbas said to be weighing dissolving the PA” by Dov Lieber: “According to the report in the Lebanese daily Al Hayat… Abbas is waiting for Kushner and Trump’s envoy to the region Jason Greenbelt to give him a written response to his conditions for returning to the negotiating table, namely “freezing settlement construction in the West Bank and working towards a two-state solution.”” [ToI

“Palestinians have spent decades battling Israel. Now they’re battling each other” by Shira Rubin: “The Middle East’s next war may not be another flare-up between Israel and the Palestinians. It could be a civil war between the Palestinians themselves… Hamas’s street cred is based on more than just rhetoric. Over the years, Hamas has said that its use of violence has succeeded in bringing Israel to the negotiating table. Abbas, on the other hand, has little to show after years of issuing statements about peace and shaking hands with his Israeli counterparts… Hamas’s sustained rule on the strip ironically supports its primary enemy, Israel, which has long insisted that Abbas cannot be a partner for peace because he has no sway over the Gaza Strip. That leaves Abbas stuck uncomfortably between Hamas and Israel… Abbas needs Israel’s security backing, and its American funders, to prevent Hamas from challenging Abbas’s rule in the West Bank.” [Vox

JI INTERVIEW — Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, explained the broad pessimism about a chance for substantial progress during Kushner’s Middle East tour. “I am pretty skeptical – just because you have chaos going on in the U.S. right now, chaos obviously in Israel — with the Prime Minister under investigation — and a coalition that really has no interest in pursuing the two-state solution,” Goldenberg said in a phone interview with JI’s Aaron Magid. “On the Palestinian side, you have total dysfunction as well, and they are all absorbed in their own potential future succession issues and internal Hamas-Fatah competition. And the Gulf states are also at each other’s throats with this whole Saudi-Qatar mess.”

Re tensions over Iranian presence in Syria: “The notion that the US will keep Iran out of large chunks of Syria that Iran is already in and where Assad holds power, I think that’s unrealistic. That ship has sailed,” he explained. “I actually think the United States should be willing to have some forces on the ground to enforce some of these ceasefires especially in the southwest where we are worried about the Jordanian and Israeli borders.”

Comparing the tensions between Jerusalem and the Trump administration on Syria with the dispute over the Iranian nuclear deal, Goldenberg emphasized the current situation is hardly extraordinary. “Israel is unwilling to accept any risk whereas the U.S. is willing to accept more risk and that causes greater disagreement,” he added.
Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

SCENE IN JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Netanyahu met with a bipartisan Congressional delegation last night at his office in Jerusalem. Netanyahu “thanked them for supporting Israel; discussed regional security challenges,” according to a PMO readout. [Pic]

Amb. David Friedman: Trump’s ‘Both Sides’ Remark ‘Wasn’t Fine’ — by Jacob Kornbluh: “I think the reaction wasn’t fine,” Friedman told reporters during a ceremony celebrating the arrival of El Al’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Tel Aviv. But Friedman – who served as one of Trump’s advisors on Israel and Jewish-related matters during the presidential campaign — maintained that the President  “was treated very unfairly in the media. People should give him a chance, and I think he will really do a great job for America. These incidents don’t reflect who he is, what the U.S. administration is.” [JewishInsider]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: “Donald Trump defends Charlottesville responses, omits reference to ‘many sides’” by Eric Bradner: “”What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America. And tonight, this entire arena stands united against the thugs who perpetrate hatred and violence,” Trump told the crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center, adding, “I strongly condemn neo-Nazis, white Supremacists and the KKK.” Trump spent roughly 15 minutes near the top of his remarks going through each of the three public statements he made in response to the violence at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville… Trump omitted his reference to “many sides” … and his reference to “both sides” last Tuesday, comments seen as equating neo-Nazis with counterprotesters.” [CNN

“At Rally, Trump Blames Media for Country’s Deepening Divisions” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman: “Removing his statements about the violence from his jacket pocket, Mr. Trump glibly ticked off a list of racist groups that he had been urged to explicitly denounce, and ultimately did two days later… “I hit ’em with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there, Let’s see. K.K.K., we have K.K.K.,” Mr. Trump said.” [NYTimes

Abe Foxman (now on Twitter @FoxmanAbraham) emails us… ”How terribly sad tonight. A president unwilling or unable to face up to the truth. He may never be able to set it straight as long as he denies the truth.”

On CNN, Foxman recalls meeting with Trump over Mar-a-Lago: “I learned 30 years ago, this man can’t take criticism and won’t apologize. And you know what? He hasn’t changed one iota.” [CNN

“CNN’s Don Lemon Unloads on Trump’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Facts’ in Phoenix” by Matt Wilstein: “What we have witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts,” Lemon said. “Someone who came out on stage and lied directly to the American people. And left things out that he said in an attempt to rewrite history, especially when it comes to Charlottesville.” [DailyBeast

Noa Tishby on Trump: “If you have been following Scott Adams, you know why. Adams speaks eloquently about Trump’s magical powers of persuasion… Adams also points out that Trump doesn’t necessarily lie. I mean, he clearly DOES LIE but he also uses something Adams has referred to as “Emotional Truth.” In a nutshell, Trump is not saying things that can be backed up with any facts, but to a lot of people it kinda sorta sounds true. He may not have seen a tape of Arabs dancing on rooftops ‪after 9/11 — but it emotionally sounds like it could be true enough, doesn’t it? And it’s not like he can prove that Obama “wiretapped” him, but in the wake of the confusing unmasking news, doesn’t it sound like some of it could maybe possibly be true?” [JewishJournal]

“Binyamin Netanyahu is soft on anti-Semitism when it suits him” by The Economist: “To some it looks as if Mr Netanyahu only sees anti-Semitism in those who oppose his policies.” [Economist]

DRIVING THE DAY: “U.N. ambassador says Trump has not decided his next move on Iran nuclear deal” by Anne Gearan: “We have no decision made. The president doesn’t have a decision made,” [Nikki] Haley said in an interview. “What we are doing is trying to find out as much information as we can.” Haley will be in Vienna on Wednesday for meetings with the International Atomic Energy Agency… Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, complained to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano that Haley’s visit was intended to sow doubt about the agreement… Haley dismissed Iran’s implication that she is searching for ammunition. “I find it interesting that Iran is so worried about me going to Vienna,” she said. “If they don’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t be concerned about me asking questions of the IAEA.”” [WashPostReuters

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “After US cuts, delays aid to Egypt, Kushner snubbed in Cairo” by Menna Zaki: “White House adviser Jared Kushner and visiting U.S. officials were snubbed by the Foreign Ministry in Cairo on Wednesday in apparent protest over the Trump administration’s move to cut and delay aid to Egypt. Egypt’s top diplomat, Sameh Shoukry, was to meet with the U.S. delegation headed by Kushner, but a modified version of the minister’s schedule showed the meeting had been called off, shortly after the Americans landed in Cairo… Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was still due to meet with the American delegation.” [AP

BANNON VS. KUSHNER: “Emails: Breitbart editor pledges to do ‘dirty work’ for Bannon, smears Ivanka” by Oliver Darcy and Jake Tapper: “A self-described “email prankster” seemingly fooled top editors at Breitbart over the weekend into believing he was Steve Bannon… In the emails, Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow pledged that he and several other top editors would do Bannon’s “dirty work” against White House aides… Marlow suggested he could have Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump ousted from the White House “by end of year” and shared a personal smear about their private lives…  In another email thread, the prankster seemed to fool Joel Pollak, Breitbart’s senior editor-at-large. “No one can figure out what [Ivanka Trump and Kushner] do,” Pollak wrote.” [CNNMoney

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Trump and McConnell Locked in a Cold War, Threatening the G.O.P. Agenda” by Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin: “During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.”[NYTimes

“How Alan Dershowitz Went From Hillary Donor to Trump’s Attack Dog on Russia” by Betsy Woodruff: “A person familiar with the president’s legal affairs said there are concerns Dershowitz has talked about legal affairs with Trump. Dershowitz told The Daily Beast this isn’t true. He said he and the president have spoken, but never privately. He said the two men spoke at Mar-a-Lago once when Dershowitz dined there with Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy… Besides Ruddy, Dershowitz and the president share a number of friends and acquaintances, including Patriots owner Bob Kraft. The two men met years ago in Kraft’s suite at a Patriots game, he said…”

“Norm Eisen, the chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, sometimes spars with Dershowitz on cable news and on Twitter. And like many of the most prominent legal figures in Washington, he was once one of Dershowitz’s students at Harvard Law. “Agree or disagree, he’s absolutely consistent in advocating for the narrowest possible reasonable application of criminal law and of the importance of not politicizing it,” Eisen said.”[DailyBeast]

** 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: Saudi Aramco IPO Sparks Rush to Privatize in Middle East [WSJ• KKR closes in on $3 billion pledge from New York City pension system [Crains] • Herbalife has a plan that could ‘squeeze’ hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman [BusinessInsider] • Teddy Sagi’s Playtech expands its financial trading business [TheTimes]

“Trump’s Billionaire Donors Miss Out on Post-Election Stock Gains” by Brendan Coffey and Jack Witzig: “Trump’s wealthiest supporter is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose fortune has risen 4 percent since the election, making him the world’s 24th-richest person with $31.5 billion.”[Bloomberg]

PROFILE: “He’s No Casino Mogul But Steve Winn Ranks as a Billionaire Too” by Brendan Coffey: “You’re forgiven if you think Steve Winn is a billionaire casino mogul. “I am routinely told that I’m not the real Steve Wynn, which is always good for a laugh,” said Winn, the 70-year-old founder and chief executive officer of RealPage Inc., a maker of software for managing multifamily rental properties. While the business may not have the glitz and glamour of the Vegas Strip, it’s still lucrative and has helped him amass a $1.1 billion fortune…”

“As for being a billionaire, Winn said it isn’t “relevant to really any part of me.” And it wasn’t even needed for his father to get VIP treatment when he checked in at the Mirage in Las Vegas. When it came up in conversation that he was Steve Winn’s father, the staff thought he was referring to the hotel’s founder. “Dad said he didn’t understand why he got the presidential suite for only $500 per night.” [Businessweek]

Former White Nationalist Derek Black on ‘The Daily’ podcast: “Derek Black, a former white nationalist and a godson of David Duke, spoke with Michael Barbaro in an episode of “The Daily” … [Black] describes his experience growing up in a white nationalist family… and how he turned on the white nationalist movement… “He had read my posts on Stormfront going back years — even the stuff when I was a teenager — and he doubted that he was going to convince me of anything, he just wanted to let me see a Jewish community thing so that if I was going to keep saying these anti-Semitic things that at least I had seen real Jews. It was ultimately in private conversations with a person I met at the Shabbat dinners … we would talk about things. Not only white nationalism, but eventually white nationalism… And we did that over a year or two on one thing after another until I got to a point where I didn’t believe it anymore.”” [NYTimes]

“Billy Joel dons Jewish star against Neo-Nazis” by Lisa Respers: “Joel, whose parents are Jewish, wore the symbolic yellow stars on the front and back of his jacket while performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City… Ray, his 31-year-old daughter with Brinkley, also posted about it on social media. “THAT’S MY POP!!! Proud Jewish New Yorker Through & Through!!!!! REPRESENT! STAND STRONG,” she wrote.” [CNN

COMING SOON: Jerry Seinfeld’s First Netflix Special Gets Premiere Date: “Jerry Before Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld’s first stand-up special since 1998’s I’m Telling You for the Last Time, is set for a Netflix premiere on September 19. In the special, Seinfeld will return to The Comic Strip in New York City, where he started his career… The special is part of a $100 million deal Seinfeld made with Netflix that also includes old and new episodes of his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” [DailyBeast]

MEDIA WATCH: “Mic’s drop: How Mic exploited social justice for clicks, and then abandoned a staff that believed in it” by Adrianne Jeffries: “The site started in 2010 as PolicyMic, an evenhanded, forgettable politics website where unpaid contributors posted commentary that could be upvoted by other site members. The PolicyMic origin story was that Chris Altchek, a Goldman Sachs banker who leaned conservative, was always debating his friend Jake Horowitz, a foreign policy columnist for who leaned liberal. The two had fierce debates about the issues of the day, and they wanted to convert that spirit into a website “to help our generation talk about the issues that really matter,” Horowitz said.” [TheOutline]

SPORTS BLINK: “Patriots gave President Trump Super Bowl ring as thank-you for White House visit” by Scott Gleeson: “Patriots spokesman Stacey James told USA TODAY Sports that during the team’s championship visit, Trump mentioned to Kraft, a longtime friend, how honored he was that the Patriots were the first team to visit the White House during his presidency. Although the team came bearing traditional gifts on that occasion — a jersey and a helmet — Kraft decided that another gesture was necessary… James said that of the five times the Patriots have visited the White House, this one included the best treatment — in Kraft’s eyes — by allowing the most time with the President and including the most impressive White House tour. James said that Trump received a customized ring that mirrored what Patriots players and staff received following their Super Bowl victory.” [USAToday

DESSERT — “The team behind Hawaiian-founded art festival POW! WOW! recently headed to Israel and Jordan for a road trip to connect with its roots. The team described the trip as taking them “back to the festival’s humble beginnings with a small family road trip – couch surfing around Israel and Jordan to collaborate, contribute, share culture, and beautify communities with art.” You can watch what went down on POW! WOW!’s Israel and Jordan road trip in the above video, which was released by the festival to mark the experience.” [HypeBeast]

BIRTHDAYS: Professor Emeritus at MIT and 1987 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Solow turns 93… Owner of many car dealerships and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1985 to 1994, Norman Bramanturns 85… Retired South African hotelier, he was a leading international developer and operator of destination resorts and luxury hotels, Sol Kerznerturns 82… Owner of Paper Capers, a stationery, custom invitation and gift store located in Livingston New Jersey, Leslie Mayesh turns 70… Former MLB player (1969-1978), he was the first designated hitter in MLB history (on 4-6-1973) and was the manager of the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox in the Israel Baseball League (2007), Ron Blomberg turns 69… General Counsel of Eastern Savings Bank in Hunt Valley, Maryland, Richard Zeskind turns 60… Member of Knesset since 1996, representing the Labor Party, Eitan Cabel turns 58… South African-born entrepreneur, he is the founder and was the CEO and later Chairman of Wonga, a British financial technology company (one of the first fin-techs in the world), Errol Damelin turns 48… ESPN’s and ABC’s sportswriter, reporter and author, he has won eight Emmy Awards, Jeremy Schaap turns 48… Rabbi Josh Kohl turns 47… Israeli supermodel, born in Haifa, Mor Katzir turns 37… Senior advisor for policy and speechwriter for President Donald Trump, he was previously the communications director for then-Alabama senator, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Stephen Millerturns 32…

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Daily Kickoff: Ahead of Kushner’s visit, Bibi goes to Sochi; “The Russians set the facts on the ground in Syria” | Abbas’ 45 day ultimatum for talks


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JI INTERVIEW — Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and President Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protests in an interview with JI’s Aaron Magid: Fresh off a trip to Israel, Smucker slammed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for justifying payments to families of terrorists in a meeting with the Republican Congressional delegation. “It was absolutely amazing when asked about the payments to families of terrorists, that were either imprisoned or killed, [Hamdallah] tried to justify it. We were very disappointed in his approach and explanations with that particular issue,” Smucker said. He expressed strong backing for the Taylor Force Act. “It’s very clear that those payments are being made. For the PA to incentivize terrorism, essentially, is completely unacceptable.”

Smucker on Charlottesville: “What we saw in Charlottesville was particularly horrifying after just coming from Israel and visiting the Holocaust museum (Yad Vashem). We should be absolutely unequivocal in our denunciation of these groups: they are simply not acceptable. It is unbelievable that there are still groups in our country today that believe they are better than others based on the color of their skin or religion. The President will speak for himself. I obviously cannot tell you what he was thinking when he said [there were fine people on both sides], but I think it’s important for the American people to hear from its leaders that we will not stand for this type of activity.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE CONVO — President Trump used his primetime address to the nation last night to clean up his “both sides” comments in response to the Charlottesville protests: “Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people. When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we sent to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.” [CSPAN]

HEARD YESTERDAY — House Speaker Paul Ryan during a CNN Town Hall: “I do believe that [Trump] messed up in his comments on Tuesday, when it sounded like a moral equivocation, or at the very least moral ambiguity, when we need extreme moral clarity… And I’m pleased with the things he just said tonight to add clarity to the confusion that I think he gave us on Tuesday.”

CNN host Jake Tapper: “I think the issue.. is the reluctance to criticize President Trump for specifically saying things like ‘very fine people were marching in that rally’ that had swastikas and anti-Semitic signs and there were not any ‘very fine people’ in that rally… It wasn’t morally ambiguous. It was morally wrong.”

Ryan: “I have a hard time believing, if you’re standing in a crowd to protest something and you see, you know, all these anti-Semitic slogans… that you’re good with that and you’re a good person… You’re not a good person if you’re there… And that’s why I think it was not only morally ambiguous, it was equivocating. And that was wrong.  That’s why I think it was very, very important that he has since then cleared that up.” [CNN

“Ryan says Trump messed up but opposes censure” by Scott Bauer: “Ryan was asked at a town hall organized by CNN in his Wisconsin congressional district whether he would back the resolution that comes following Trump’s comments about the Charlottesville, Virginia, rally. The question came from Rabbi Dena Feingold, the sister of former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who grew up in the same city as Ryan. Ryan said censuring Trump would be “counterproductive.” “If we descend this issue into some partisan hack-fest, bickering between one another … what good does that do to unify this country?” Ryan said, adding that it would be the “worst thing we could do.”” [AP

TRUMP EFFECT: “Donations to Anti-Defamation League surge in US” by AFP: “ADL spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara said donations like the one from James Murdoch — head of Fox News, who last week announced a million-dollar donation — as well as those from corporations like Apple, Uber and MGM Resorts yielded a rise of “1,000%” last week, compared to the weekly average donations since the beginning of the year… On Monday, the big bank J.P. Morgan also joined the ranks of the donors, Alcantara said. The bank announced a million dollar-gift to be shared by the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center.” [Yahoo

Rep. Jerry Nadler on race and anti-Semitism in the age of Trump — Off Message with Edward-Isaac Dovere: “As for the Jewish aides to the administration who defend Trump, including his daughter and son-in-law Jared Kushner… Nadler says they need to get real. “I don’t care what Jared Kushner said about the fact that Donald Trump loves, loves him and Ivanka and other people,” Nadler said. “He was willing to traffic in anti-Semitism. He was willing to use anti-Semitic imagery. And then, when caught up in it, refused to repudiate it, and denied that it was what it clearly was.”” [Politico]

“President Trump Maintains Support in New York City’s Religious Communities” by Stephen Nessen: “Members of New York City’s Evangelical and Hasidic communities turned out to vote for Donald Trump for president, and they continue to support him, despite his tepid and mixed responses to white supremacists who rally in his name… In Borough Park, Brooklyn, which gave Trump 68 percent of the vote, many in the ultra-orthodox community also said the president had done enough to condemn hate groups. “He said KKK is not good, whatever, he did what he has to do,” Chaim Shmedra, 24, said. “He could criticize more, but he’s doing a great job.””[WNYC] • Orthodox Resistance to Trump Grows — In Secret Social Media Groups [Forward]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “Is It Time for Trump Aides to Resign?” by Eliot A. Cohen: “Gary Cohn is a Jewish philanthropist: He paid a price, not in emotional discomfort but in his integrity, in staying silent while the president made excuses for anti-Semites shouting slogans that hark back to Hitler’s brown shirts. One’s country can ask those who volunteer to serve it in uniform to put their lives on the line… But the hazards of battle do not require surrendering your soul: just the reverse, risking it all can mean reaffirming your highest values. The country does not, however, have the right to ask you to sacrifice your moral core, what makes you who you are.” [TheAtlantic] • Gary Cohn, Trump Agoniste, Contemplates the End [VanityFair]

“Trump Official Once Praised a Defender of Holocaust Deniers; Now she’s in charge of family planning policy” by David Corn: “Earlier this year, President Donald Trump appointed Teresa Manning, a leading anti-abortion activist, to be a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services… But there was one item in her résumé that did not receive attention: She had once praised a defender of Holocaust deniers… In the preface to Back to the Drawing Board, Manning… called contributors to the book “statesmen, scholars, doctors, lawyers, judges, activists, and mothers.” And at [a 2003] conference, she remarked that they included “people that I have respected and admired my entire professional life.” Presumably, her accolades applied to [Joe] Sobran, whose controversial association with Holocaust deniers and whose “contextually anti-Semitic” writings were publicly known within conservative circles at the time.” [MotherJones]

“Why the White House Needs Another Bannon” by Tevi Troy: “Trump likes to think of himself as the whole show—his own strategist, his own communications guru, his own political whisperer… But this is one area in which Trump really does need the help: He doesn’t have the patience, the background, or the interest to be able to articulate a consistent conservative-friendly vision and to get other conservatives on board. Bannon’s absence means the White House lacks someone who can attempt to create a coherent narrative for the administration’s efforts… Not filling the role would be a self-inflicted wound, while filling the role with the wrong person would be a missed opportunity.” [PoliticoMag

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Kushner in Middle East for peace talks” by Annie Karni: “While everyone was busy gazing into the solar eclipse on Monday, White House adviser Jared Kushner had quietly snuck away to the Middle East… Accompanying Kushner on Tuesday in the Gulf states were deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt… A White House aide and an outside adviser familiar with the trip planning said Kushner departed on Sunday and is set to arrive in Israel Wednesday night for meetings on Thursday. The traveling American delegation was meeting with leaders from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the days before. It was not clear why the White House would announce the trip but then keep the details of Kushner’s departure under wraps.” [Politico]

“PA to give Trump team ultimatum on peace plan” by Shlomi Eldar: “A senior Palestinian source… said a decision had been reached after lengthy negotiations at top PA levels… to present Kushner and Greenblatt with a clear ultimatum: Unless progress is made within 45 days on launching talks with the Israelis, the Palestinians will consider themselves no longer committed to the US channel and will turn to an alternative plan on which they have been working for the past two years… The Palestinians understand that the current occupant of the Oval Office tends to act impulsively, and such a move could prompt him to take out his anger on Abbas — but “we have no choice,” said the source.” [Al-Monitor

KAFE KNESSET — Dasvidaniya, Bibi — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: 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 years, and the second meeting in 2017. Iran, of course, will top the agenda for the meeting. President Putin will hear about Jerusalem’s concerns arising out of the diplomatic attempts to end the fighting in Syria. These diplomatic efforts are creating, according to Israeli officials, an Iranian territorial contiguity between Tehran and the Mediterranean.

The meeting with Putin comes against the backdrop of a clear disappointment in Jerusalem with the Trump administration and its level of attention to Israeli interests. “The Americans are sympathetic, but they are not willing to back words with deeds. We are not in the administration’s priorities. They are preoccupied with other issues, and there is a feeling that they have very limited attention span,” a senior Israeli Minister told Kafe Knesset. The Minister explained that the American vacuum over Syria – which was created in the Obama administration but has also been transformed into a Trump government policy – “has given increased importance to the strategic dialogue with the Kremlin, especially after Russia increased its military involvement in Syria. This has required close military coordination with the Russians to prevent friction. The Russians fill the American void and they are the ones who determine the facts on the ground. We want to make sure that the facts on the ground do not hurt us.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset — featuring Bibi’s privacy and the latest with the Kotel — here[JewishInsider]

“U.S. pushing to quash U.N. ‘blacklist’ of firms doing business in Israeli settlements” by Anne Gearan: “The Trump administration is urging the United Nations not to publish what it calls a “blacklist” of international firms that do business in Israeli settlements… “The United States has been adamantly opposed to this resolution from the start” and has fought against it before several U.N. bodies, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said… “We have made clear our opposition regarding the creation of a database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and we have not participated and will not participate in its creation or contribute to its content,” she said. In a statement Monday, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, called the [U.N. Human Rights Council] moves toward publication of the list “an expression of modern anti-Semitism.”” [WashPost

IRAN DEAL: “Iran Says Can Produce Highly Enriched Uranium in Days if U.S. Quits Deal” by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin: “Iran can resume production of highly enriched uranium within five days if the nuclear deal it struck with world powers in 2015 is revoked, Iran’s atomic chief was quoted by state media as saying on Tuesday… “The president’s warning was not baseless,” Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi said…  “If we decide, we can reach 20 percent (uranium) enrichment within five days in Fordow (underground nuclear plant),” he added.” [Reuters]

2018 WATCH: Police Investigate Alleged Twitter Hack of Senate Candidate: “The Michigan State Police is investigating after Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lena Epstein said someone hacked her campaign’s Twitter account last week and “liked” posts from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Epstein, who is Jewish, has said any suggestion that she supports “this type of hateful ideology is extremely disturbing.”” [USNews

2020 WATCH: “How potential 2020 Democrats are honing their foreign policy chops” by Jeremy Herb: “[Cory] Booker’s seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is another path for senators harboring presidential ambitions — it’s the committee Obama served on ahead of his 2008 run. In the early months of the Trump administration, the panel gave Booker a seat at the table for some of the most contentious confirmation hearings, including those of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson… and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman… When Friedman testified, Booker elicited an apology for the nominee’s comments suggesting Obama was anti-Semitic and that Kaine was an Israel basher.” [CNN

“Nikki Haley says she had ‘personal’ talk with Trump about Charlottesville” by Diamond Naga: “Well, I had a personal conversation with the president about Charlottesville, and I will leave it at that,” Haley said on CNN… But when asked afterward, she would not confirm or deny whether Trump understood he made a mistake with his racially charged comments. “The president clarified so that no one can question that he’s opposed to bigotry and hate in this country.” [Politico]

** 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 BRIEF: Jim Crown’s Aspen Skiing, KSL Capital venture adds Utah’s Deer Valley to growing resort portfolio [DenverPost] • Ghermezian’s Meadowlands ‘American Dream’ Project To Be Complete By 2019[CBSNorthJersey] • Gary Barnett’s luxury condo tower rises on ‘gritty’ South Street [NYPost] • ASRR to buy out partner in Surfside condo project[TRD] • Israel’s TowerJazz to set up China chip plant with Tacoma Semi[Reuters] • Paul Singer’s Black Knight Unhorses Warren Buffett [DealBreaker]

“Billionaire Moguls Join Musk, Bezos in Race to Outer Space” by Tom Metcalf: “While technology tycoons dominate, the list also includes casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who’s backing SpaceIL — a lunar mission.”[Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: “After Imperva And Mobileye, Here’s What’s Next For Israeli Startups” by Peter Cohan: “What’s most interesting to me is that at least one company — run by Israel’s most prolific info sec company founder, Shlomo Kramer, is that Israel is beginning to develop enough talent in marketing and sales that his latest company is able to operate out of Israel instead of being run from Silicon Valley. Tel Aviv is the center of Israel’s startup scene even though its top talent is educated 52 miles away at Haifa’s Technion. As Edouard Cukierman, Managing Partner and Founder of Catalyst Funds, said in an August 10 interview, “When I was at the Technion, the joke was ‘What is the nicest place in Haifa? The highway to Tel Aviv.’ Entrepreneurs want to be in Tel Aviv — it’s a place of fun; whereas Haifa is a serious place for studying.””[Forbes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Digital media veteran Ross Levinsohn takes over the LA Times as it fires top editors” by Peter Kafka: “Ross Levinsohn has worked at all kinds of media companies, but he’s never managed a newspaper before. Now he’ll run a big one: He’s the new publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times. Levinsohn made his digital reputation by helping News Corp acquire Myspace way back in 2005, a move that kicked off a wave of digital M&A. And he tried to buy Hulu multiple times, while working for multiple organizations. In 2013, he went to work for Guggenheim Partners, which owned several media trade publications, and planned on writing big checks to bulk that group up.” [ReCode]

TOP TALKER: “Louise Linton’s Couture Draws Ire on Instagram, and She Lashes Back” by Maggie Haberman and Mikayla Bouchard: “The wife of the Treasury secretary on Monday night took a page from President Trump’s social media playbook for punching down. Louise Linton, the labels-loving wife of Steven Mnuchin, replied condescendingly to an Instagram poster about her lifestyle and belittled the woman, Jenni Miller, a mother of three from Portland, Ore., for having less money than she does. The brouhaha began when Ms. Linton posted a photograph of herself disembarking a military jet emblazoned with official government markings. She had joined her husband on a quick trip to Kentucky with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.” [NYTimesNYPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN: Jewish congregation reflects on letter by George Washington: “An annual letter reading at the nation’s oldest synagogue in Newport took on new relevance in the aftermath of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The letter was written nearly 230 years ago by George Washington and addressed to Newport’s Jewish community. It promised that the country would give “bigotry no sanction, no persecution no assistance.” … Former Harvard University Dean Martha Minow asked members of the congregation to stand up for their beliefs.” [AP

“Asian American doctor: White nationalist patients refused my care over race” by Kristine Phillips: “John Henning Schumann, a Jewish doctor, said he’s had encounters with patients that sometimes result in awkward conversations. “I’ve been asked point-blank by patients if I’m Jewish,” Schumann wrote last week in a column published by NPR…  Sometimes, after saying that he is Jewish, patients surprise him with their response: “Good. I always like Jewish doctors, because they’re the smart ones.” Schumann said that “positive prejudice” is better than the alternative, and he often takes the compliment.” [WashPost

BIRTHDAYS: Philanthropist and hedge fund manager, specializing in acquiring distressed debt, Paul Elliott Singer turns 73… Chairwoman of Israel’s Strauss Group, a large dairy and food company, Ofra Strauss turns 57… Emmy Award winning television news journalist, formerly the weekend anchor of CBS Evening News, Morton Dean (born Morton Dubitsky) turns 82… Former Chief of Staff to the Vice President Dick Cheney, Scooter Libbyturns 67… Portland, Oregon’s Marque Lampert Scherer turns 67… Chairman of Israel Military Industries (now know as IMI Systems), he was a member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party (2006-2015) and served in multiple cabinet posts, Yitzhak Aharonovich turns 67… Encino, California’s Robin Elcott turns 61… Former MLB outfielder, then investment banker, fundraiser for both Obama presidential campaigns, more recently he was the US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa (2015-2017), Ambassador Mark Gilbert turns 61… Former investment banker who left his job to run a Los Angeles-based homeless service provider, he is now a professor at USC and a trustee of Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Adlai W. Wertman turns 58…  Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Deborah Hochberg… Deputy mayor of Lawrence, NY, political consultant and investor, Michael Fragin turns 44… Project coordinator for “The Conversation: Jewish In America,” an annual invitation-only gathering sponsored by The Jewish Week, Rachel Saifer Goldman… Associate Director in the Atlanta regional office of Christians United for Israel, Shari Dollinger Magnus turns 40… Joyce Fox… Margie Berkowitz

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Daily Kickoff: Bannon allies accuse Kushner of blocking Jerusalem embassy move | What Adelson replied to Mort Klein | Why Icahn resigned as WH advisor


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LongRead: “Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington” by Patrick Radden Keefe: “If you squint, Trump and Icahn look alike. Both grew up in Queens and have an outer-borough chip on their shoulders. Both first came to tabloid prominence against the gaudy backdrop of the nineteen-eighties. Both are brash, plainspoken street fighters, examples of an American archetype: the populist rich guy. But Trump comes from the wealthy enclave of Jamaica Estates, whereas Icahn grew up in a lower-middle-class family in Bayswater. His mother, Bella, was a schoolteacher; his father, Michael, was a failed opera singer who, even though he was an atheist, became the cantor in a local synagogue, because he loved the music. Carl was an only child, born toward the end of the Depression, in 1936. Throughout his youth, his father railed against the robber barons, condemning the concentration of extreme wealth.”

“Icahn is a serious chess player; as a young man, he considered becoming a chess master but decided not to, because there was no money in it. He paid his way through Princeton, in part, with poker earnings, and he has played the game with Leon Black, the founder of Apollo Global Management; Sam Waksal, the ImClone founder, who went to prison for insider trading; and the onetime junk-bond king Michael Milken, who has also done time for white-collar crime. “Waksal, Milken, Ivan Boesky,” the former Icahn employee said. “Carl has never got into trouble. But he’s played with everyone who did.” In his business dealings, Icahn is a master of the bluff. “Carl views the legal norms as a starting point for a negotiation, rather than a moral compass,” a financier who has faced off against him told me.”

“In the nineties, when Icahn was fighting for control of Marvel Comics, the company’s C.E.O., a veteran of the Israeli Army, likened dealing with him to negotiating with terrorists. Icahn prefers to describe himself in more righteous terms, as a warrior for stockholders who have been disenfranchised by inattentive corporate boards and myopic executives.”

“Icahn and Trump maintained a loose friendship during the ensuing decades, one that was hardly as intimate as Trump likes to make it sound. The very notion of a relationship that transcends mercenary self-interest may be alien to Icahn. Once, in a court proceeding, he said, “If the price is right, we are going to sell. I think that’s true of everything you have, except maybe your kids and possibly your wife.” “Possibly?” the judge asked. “Possibly,” Icahn said, adding, “Don’t tell my wife.”

Norm Eisen, who served as Obama’s Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform, argues that Icahn is “not just an outside kibbitzer” but a formal adviser who should be subject to constraints. “He gets a title,” Eisen said… On Friday, August 18th, four days after the White House disavowed Icahn to me, he tweeted, “Today, with President Trump’s blessing, I ceased to act as special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform.”” [NewYorker]

TOP TALKER: “Steve Bannon Readies His Revenge: The war on Jared Kushner is about to go nuclear” by Gabriel Sherman: “Bannon, who was the only West Wing advisor to publicly support the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, is especially galled at being scapegoated as an anti-Semite in its wake… Bannon’s allies lay out a more complicated backstory. Bannon, they say, lobbied Trump aggressively to move America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but was blocked by Kushner. And, according to three Bannon allies, Bannon pushed a tougher line against the Palestinians than Kushner did. In May, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the White House, Bannon stayed home. “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist,” Bannon texted a friend.” [VanityFair

BEHIND THE SCENES: “Bannon Was Set for a Graceful Exit. Then Came Charlottesville” by Jeremy Peters and Maggie Haberman: “New York real estate investor friends told Mr. Trump that the situation with Mr. Bannon was untenable: Steve Roth on Monday, Tom Barrack on Tuesday and Richard LeFrak on Wednesday… With little process to speak of, tensions over policy swelled. Ideological differences devolved into caustic personality clashes. Perhaps nowhere was the mutual disgust thicker than between Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Bannon openly complained to White House colleagues that he resented how Ms. Trump would try to undo some of the major policy initiatives that he and Mr. Trump agreed were important to the president’s economic nationalist agenda, like withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. In this sense, he was relieved when Mr. Kelly took over and put in place a structure that kept other aides from freelancing.”

“Those days are over when Ivanka can run in and lay her head on the desk and cry,” he told multiple people. Mr. Bannon made little secret of the fact that he believed “Javanka,” as he referred to the couple behind their backs, had naïve political instincts and were going to alienate Mr. Trump’s core coalition of white working-class voters… He also advised that ideological softening would buy the president no good will from Democrats or independent voters, whom Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump believe Mr. Trump still has a chance of reaching. “They hate the very mention of his name,” Mr. Bannon told them. “There is no constituency for this.” His advice for the president: “You’ve got the base. And you grow the base by getting” things done.”” [NYTimes

QUITE THE HEADLINE — “How Jewish convert Ivanka got ‘Bannon the Barbarian’ to go” by Caroline Graham: “A source said: ‘Jared and Ivanka helped push him out. They were concerned about how they were being viewed by the Jewish community.’” [DailyMail

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach now says ‘Bannon and I are not close buddies’ — by Aaron Magid: Boteach had been a vocal supporter of Bannon. In May, his tweet – a selfie with Bannon in front of a whiteboard with a to do list at the White House – went viral. But on Friday, Boteach claimed, “Bannon and I aren’t close buddies.”  Boteach emphasized, “I have many issues where I have serious disagreements with Bannon but I have always found him — in the occasions that I have had the opportunity to speak with him — to be very open to hearing ideas that are different to his.” [JewishInsider

SHELDON BACKS MORT — A day after Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, claimed that media reports about Sheldon Adelson disavowing his campaign against McMaster were “fake news” and “rubbish,” Klein emailed Sheldon and Miriam Adelson: “You “disavow” my reports on McMaster are hurtful. Are they accurate?”

On Friday morning, Adelson replied to Klein via his assistant Betty Yurcich… “I am sorry that you feel hurtful but I never used the word “disavowed.” I don’t know enough about the McMaster case nor do I want to say I know about your attack and that I supported it financially and morally.”

“Up until recent articles, I had no knowledge of anything about McMaster – just what I read in the newspaper. Yesterday I spoke with Safra Katz, who told me about a dinner she had with him recently and it certainly enlightened me quite a bit.”

“The word “disavow” came from the reporter who prepared it. Quotes that I was “perfectly comfortable” are inaccurate. My representative never used that phrase. What I do know is that Morton Klein is the strongest Zionist I know and carries on campaigns for what he sincerely and profoundly cares about. Politics is your full time job. It’s not my full time job. I can’t get involved in every campaign and every debate. Now that I have talked to somebody with personal experience with McMaster, I support your efforts. Not that I am looking to get deeply involved in this debate. Sheldon G. Adelson”

Worth noting: Agree with Klein or not, emailing your top donor that his comments ‘are hurtful’ takes guts. It might not be a smart fundraising tactic but it shows a level of sincerity that many other organizational leaders lack.

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Arab foreign ministers welcome US Mideast mediation” by AFP: “The Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers expressed support Saturday for US Middle East peace efforts at a Cairo meeting ahead of a White House delegation visit to the region… They “look forward to the US administration intensifying its efforts in the coming period.”” [Yahoo

“Abbas: I Met Trump’s Envoys 20 Times and Still Don’t Understand Their Peace Plan” by Barak Ravid: “I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States,” [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas [told a Meretz party delegation.] “Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained… I can’t understand their conduct with us,” he said… adding that “Inside [Trump’s] country, there is chaos in the administration.” [Haaretz

“Israeli opposition says Abbas tried to resume security ties with Israel” by Dan Williams: “We recently communicated with them (Israeli security officials) in an attempt to resume some kind of cooperation… But they have not returned an answer, something that has prevented progress in thawing ties,” [Abbas] was quoted as saying… A Netanyahu aide, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said: “These reported remarks are simply incorrect.”[Reuters

“‘Grave concern’ in Israel in light of US positions on Syria” by Ronen Bergman: “There is “grave concern” in Israel after a delegation of high ranking Israeli defense officials sent to Washington was not able to secure a commitment from the Americans to ensure any agreement to end the war in Syria would include the evacuation of Iranian military forces from the country… Israeli intelligence officials said the delegation “presented sensitive, credible and highly disturbing intelligence information,” backed by documents and photographs, which showed the ever-growing spread of Iranian influence in Syria… The Israeli defense officials’ talks with their American counterparts were described as detailed and professional, while the atmosphere was described as friendly… The delegation members, who returned to Israel over the weekend, reported they noticed “a kind of embarrassment and lack of a clear position in the American administration… As far as they’re concerned, the matter is still wide open.” [Ynet

“Has US sacrificed Israel for Syria deal?” by Ben Caspit: “One minister told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now… What is most worrisome is that this time, it was President Donald Trump who threw us to the four winds — though viewed as Israel’s great friend. It turns out that when it comes to actions and not just talk, he didn’t deliver the goods.” [Al-Monitor]

Washington Post editorial… Trump may be planning to make a very bad decision on the Iran deal: “Despite much heated rhetoric, the Trump administration is doing little to counter Iranian aggression… In only one area has the Islamic Republic’s toxic ambition been relatively contained: the production of material for use in nuclear warheads… Yet perversely, Mr. Trump is matching his passivity toward Iran’s regional meddling with an apparent determination to torpedo the nuclear pact.” [WashPost]

“Former CIA deputy director: Trump is politicizing the US intelligence-gathering process” by John Bowden: “In an interview with CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” former CIA Deputy Chief David Cohen said that Trump’s conclusion that Iran had violated the nuclear deal… was “disconcerting.” … “What the president has said is that in his judgment, Iran is not complying, and then he has asked a group in the White House to provide him with justification, with intelligence to support his preconceived notion that Iran is not complying with the nuclear deal,” Cohen said.” [TheHill

“Hezbollah Is Running Rings Around U.N. Monitors in Lebanon” by Danny Danon: “Over the past year alone, we have shared with the Security Council new information detailing how border towns have become Hezbollah strongholds… We also shared with the council intelligence revealing how the Iranians use civilian airlines to smuggle dangerous arms into southern Lebanon… To rectify this situation, and avoid a new conflict, the Security Council must make real changes to Unifil’s mandate.” [WSJ

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Seeking Reset, Trump Dines With Some of His Biggest Donors” by Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel: “Other donors also were invited to Thursday’s dinner but did not attend, including Paul Singer, the New York hedge fund billionaire. He declined the invitation weeks ago because he was going to be on vacation… Mr. Singer also is a major donor to Jewish causes, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, which criticized Mr. Trump this week over his response to the events in Charlottesville… Mr. Singer’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment on whether he felt similarly about Mr. Trump’s response.” [NYTimes]

“Melania Trump Is Starting to Step Into the Void Left by Ivanka and Jared” by Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein: “It was not lost on insiders or the public that she, not her husband or her husband’s daughter or son-in-law, was the first to react publicly to the violence in Charlottesville following a gathering of neo-Nazis and white supremacists… So far… Javanka has produced vanishingly few concrete policy wins and done little to keep the Trump presidency from going off the rails. Often, they’re on vacation during the moments of peak crisis… “She actually is what Ivanka [Trump] has cultivated an image of,” said a senior White House official.” [DailyBeast]

“Mnuchin tells Yale classmates: Trump does not equate neo-Nazis with peaceful protesters” by Yeganeh Torbati: “[Steven] Mnuchin, who is Jewish, added: “While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways… I don’t believe the allegations against the president are accurate, and I believe that having highly talented men and women in our country surrounding the president in his administration should be reassuring to you and all the American people,” he said.” [ReutersNYTimes

“President Jabberwock and the Jewish Right” by Bret Stephens: “The president’s Jewish supporters are left to wonder why the Iran deal remains in force, the United States Embassy is still in Tel Aviv, Bashar al-Assad is stronger than ever, the Israeli government is outraged by the deals the administration has cut with Russia at Israel’s strategic expense, and Jared Kushner has not proved a worthy strategic heir to Henry Kissinger…  If conservatism is supposed to teach anything, it’s that, even in politics, character counts above everything. Trump’s Jewish supporters, like so many on the right, ignored the lesson. After Charlottesville, they’ve discovered too late that the price of that support will fall, as it so often has, disproportionately on them.” [NYTimes

Jewish Dems Launch New National Group — by Jacob Kornbluh: The new group, The Jewish Democratic Council of America, was originally set to launch in October in place of the present National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) and the Jews for Progress PAC. However, President Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protests compelled the founders of the JDCA to accelerate the timeline. “Clearly today, there seems to be a calling for a rebuilding of Jewish Democrats’ vision in politics – to elect people that will support local and state national policies that are supportive of the Jewish community’s values,” Former Congressman Ron Klein, Acting Chairman of the new organization, explained. [JewishInsider

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Israeli minister: Efforts to portray Trump as anti-Semitic are pathetic: “Efforts to portray Trump as anti-Semitic are pathetic,” [Economy and Industry Minister Eli] Cohen said, adding that of all the U.S. presidents, Trump is “one of the most sympathetic toward Israel.”” [IsraelHayom] • Israel Minister: Preserving Ties With Trump Bigger Priority Than Denouncing Neo-Nazis [HuffPost

ANTI-BOYCOTT ACT: “Pro-Israel group asks RI delegation to support bill to quash boycotts of Israel” by Patrick Anderson: “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse “has not taken a position on the bill,” said spokeswoman Meaghan McCabe in an email… Sen. Jack Reed’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the current federal boycott bill.”[ProvidenceJournal]

COMING SOON: “Michael Bloomberg is the new Clinton” by Mike Allen: “Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to bring together more than 30 heads of state and 100 CEOs in New York on Sept. 20, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly, as part of a plan to move into the elite space once held by the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting… Former President Bill Clinton, who has said he wants other organizations to join him in the CGI mission, will speak at Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Global Business Forum in an unofficial handoff.” [Axios]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEF: Mobileye Co-founder Quits Hebrew University in Dispute Over Royalties [Haaretz• Israeli investors, close to selling the biggest hotel complex in Bucharest [RomaniaInsider] • Shell to Mull Buying Israeli, Cyprus Gas for Egypt Plant [Bloomberg] • Jared Kushner’s firm seeks arrest of Maryland tenants to collect debt [BaltimoreSun

SPOTLIGHT: “The Benefits of Standing by the President” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Ben Protess and Michael Corkery: “Interviews with four people briefed on the deal revealed that the Saudis had been discussing a possible partnership with a number of other firms as well, and formally decided on Blackstone… only after [Stephen] Schwarzman had started advising the president. In addition to Mr. Schwarzman’s prominence, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund was drawn to the firm’s record of generating huge investment returns and building new business lines, from real estate to hedge funds… While Mr. Schwarzman’s support for the president caused a public relations headache for Blackstone this past week, friends say he is not the type of corporate leader to express regrets about taking on a prominent role in Washington… Mr. Schwarzman speaks with Mr. Trump as much as once a week, typically about the economy though also about social policy.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Fear, resolve and more security at Charlottesville’s temple” by Ben Finley: “We were in a different world than where we had been previously,” [Diane Gartner] Hillman, 69, said Friday, as a stream of people entered the synagogue, now guarded by three police officers out front… Many people in Charlottesville who aren’t Jewish have come to Beth Israel to show their solidarity, [Cale] Jaffe said. “What gives me hope going forward is knowing so many people in the larger Charlottesville community feel that way and are there with us.” [AP

MEDIA WATCH: “The Rise And Rise And Rise Of Israel’s Right-Wing Media” by Miriam Berger: “Erel Segal has an agenda and he wants you to know it. The forty-six-year-old Israeli is the charismatic and pugnacious host of a nightly news show called “The Patriots” on a new channel trying to model itself after Fox News… “The Israeli media is clearly biased against the government and the right wing,” the fast talking Segal told BuzzFeed News. “Now it’s much more healthy and reasonable that a media person should be without a mask. Everyone knows that I belong to the right wing. But I’m fair about it.” “Nobody,” he said “believes in objectivity anymore.” [BuzzFeed]

“Benjamin Netanyahu, Perennial Underdog” by Natan Sachs: “The never-ending, cynical invocation of the political base’s grievances—something Netanyahu and others have now perfected—had severe consequences for Israeli society and politics. Even as he secured political power, Netanyahu preferred to play the role of leader of the opposition, to perpetuate a sense of victimhood among his supporters rather than transform his numerous political victories into agency, empowerment and, above all, responsibility.” [TheAtlantic

KAFE KNESSET — Labor’s after its leader, already — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: A month and a half after his surprise against-all-odds victory in the Labor leadership primaries, Avi Gabbay is launching his first insiders political battle. Gabbay is on the way to a mega-clash with the party establishment. Yesterday, Gabbay announced a series of proposed changes to the party’s constitution. The proposed changes are aimed mainly at bolstering Gabbay’s control of the party and reducing the power of the party apparatus. The main focus of the changes – which will be brought to a vote at a party convention in the coming weeks – is to cut off authority from the party’s general secretary, who was democratically elected just half a year ago, and to allow Gabbay to personally appoint 4 or 5 people to the party’s Knesset slate for the next election, and not the party members… Eran Hermoni, the party secretary-general is already launching a counter effort to ensure Gabbay’s plans do not succeed. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Arthur Finkelstein, Innovative, Influential Conservative Strategist, Dies at 72” by Sam Roberts: “As a gay, Jewish libertarian, Mr. Finkelstein helped elect homophobic candidates, once polled South Carolinians on whether they would support a rival candidate identified as a Jewish immigrant, and supported gay rights and abortion rights as what the political consultant Roger Stone, another of his protégés, called, in a phone interview, “a situational conservative.” … He later choreographed campaigns by his friend Ronald S. Lauder, the cosmetics heir, against Rudolph W. Giuliani in the 1989 Republican mayoral primary… and in Israel, where he was recruited by supporters of Mr. Netanyahu and other conservative candidates of the Likud Party.”[NYTimes• Arthur Finkelstein, the Man Who Saved Netanyahu’s Career – and Forever Changed Israeli Politics [Haaretz

“Jerry Lewis, comedy king and master of slapstick, dies at 91” by Adam Bernstein: “He was born Jerome Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, the son of Jewish vaudevillians who performed at New York-area resorts… After quitting high school in 1942 — he said it was because of the flagrant anti-Semitism of his principal in Irvington, N.J. — Mr. Lewis honed his “record act,” a routine in which he mimed lyrics of operatic and popular songs playing on a phonograph.” [WashPost

“The Costs of Workplace Rudeness” by Jennifer Breheny Wallace: “In a 2015 study pub­lished in the jour­nal Pe­di­atrics, 24 teams of doc­tors and nurses spe­cial­iz­ing in neona­tal in­ten­sive care at four hos­pi­tals in Is­rael par­tic­i­pated in a sim­u­la­tion that in­volved a preterm in­fant (a man-nequin) suf­fer­ing from a med­ical com­pli­ca­tion. The teams were ran­domly as­signed to re­ceive rude treat­ment—an “ex­pert” from the U.S. made dis­parag­ing re­marks, sug­gest­ing that they “wouldn’t last a week” in his de­part­ment—or neu­tral treat­ment. Performance in the simulation was scored by judges unaware of these conditions. “The results were scary,” says Dr. Erez. “The teams exposed to rudeness gave the wrong diagnosis, didn’t resuscitate or ventilate appropriately, didn’t communicate well, gave the wrong medications and made other serious mistakes.”” [WSJ]

TRANSITION: Rich Goldberg, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s former chief of staff and often known as the “architect of Iran sanctions” while working for Sen. Mark Kirk, is launching a Chicago-based strategic consulting firm. The new firm, RG Solutions, will offer communications and crisis management consulting services to a wide range of corporate, non-profit and political clients. h/t Chicago Sun Times

CLARIFICATION: In Thursday’s Daily Kickoff, we included news of Ambassador Dan Shapiro joining Columbia/Barnard Hillel, the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, as a visiting scholar in residence for the 2017-18 academic year. While Shapiro will spend time on campus in the fall and spring semesters, he will continue to live in Israel for the next year and also continue in his role as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at INSS.

DESSERT: “Africans Have Heated Views About Rice, Just Ask Mark Zuckerberg” by Joe Parkinson: “Mr. Zuckerberg’s apparent endorsement of Nigerian jollof while visiting Lagos last summer set off a storm of celebrations in Nigeria and howls of protest elsewhere in the region. “I was told not to compare the jollof rice of neighboring countries,” Mr. Zuckberg said, after tasting the Nigerian variety. “But it was awesome.” Now a new TV show, “The Jollof Rice Challenge,” will try to settle the dispute once and for all, putting chefs from 10 nations head to head in a Lagos contest being billed as Pop Idol meets MasterChef.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: Russian-born Internet entrepreneur, he co-founded Google and is the president of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Forbes estimates his net worth at $45 billion, Sergey Brin turns 44… Retired owner of Effective Strategy Consultants, Boynton Beach resident, Irwin Wecker turns 82… Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (with chambers in Chicago), the first woman appointed to this court, Judge Ilana Kara Diamond Rovner turns 79… President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2012, L. Rafael Reif turns 67… Israeli physician who was a member of the Knesset (1999-2003), he now serves as mayor of Ashdod (Israel’s largest port and its sixth largest city), Dr. Yehiel Lasri turns 60… Co-founder of BlueLine Grid, he was previously an Assistant US Attorney in Los Angeles (1994-2000) and a member of the Los Angeles City Council (2001-2009), Jack Weiss turns 53… Manager of strategic partnerships for UJA-Federation of New York’s Day School Challenge Fund, she is a former litigator at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, Chavie N. Kahn… Global head of public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, he held several national posts in the Republican Party (including Party Chair from 2005-2007) and the George W. Bush administration, Ken Mehlman turns 51… MLB pitcher for 8 teams in a long career (2000-2015), he was the starting picher in three of Team Israel’s first four games in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, all of which the team won, Jason Marquis turns 39… Senior strategist at PSB Research (PSB is a part of Y&R and WPP), named a non-partisan “Rising Star” by Campaigns & Elections magazine, Adam Rosenblatt turns 32… Associate Area Director for AIPAC in Philadelphia, previously she worked for AIPAC in Washington, Erica N. Miller turns 32… Tzippy Baitch… Lynn Sharon… Elon Issashar

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Photo by Jacob Kornbluh

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