Jul
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Daily Kickoff: Sun Valley Summit | Reality catches up to Trump admin on Mideast peace | Bibi retracts Soros statement | Profile: Yair Shimansky

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton” by Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman: “The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner… In his statement, Donald Trump Jr. said he asked Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner to attend, but did not tell them what the meeting was about… [Natalia] Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer invited to the Trump Tower meeting… recalled that after about 10 minutes, either Mr. Kushner or Mr. Manafort left the room… The Trump Tower meeting was disclosed to government officials in recent weeks, when Mr. Kushner, who is also a senior White House aide, filed a revised version of a confidential form required to obtain a security clearance.” [NYTimesWashPost]

Norm Eisen tells us… “It’s another strand in the web of contacts with Russians by Kushner and others associated with the Trump campaign. If nothing else, the Trump team’s willingness to take the meeting conveyed the signal that the campaign was ready to receive help from Russia. And it clearly got that help, big time, in the form of hacking, propaganda, bots and other cybercrimes and misconduct. There’s also a pattern of lying about or omitting these many contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, in this case represented by of Don Junior’s changing stories. The special counsel will let us know what it all amounts to.”

“Who Is Rob Goldstone, Donald Trump Jr.’s Russian Connection?” by Dave Goldiner: “Rob Goldstone, the man who set up the explosive meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a politically connected Russian lawyer, is a British Jewish music publicist who has worked with the Trumps on the Miss Universe pageant.” [Forward]

SPOTLIGHT: “Aby Rosen’s brazen battles” by Konrad Putzier: “Last August, Rosen installed a more than 20-foot-tall billboard at RFR’s 337 Lafayette Street development site in Noho that read “Vote Your Conscience!” — a nod to Sen. Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Donald Trump. The fact that he was business partners with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on the $375 million Watchtower acquisition and subsequent office conversion in Brooklyn Heights only added to the intrigue…”

“Rosen said he spoke about the poster with Kushner — whom he claims to keep in touch with even after the 36-year-old real estate scion decamped to the White House — and that the two argued about Trump’s platform in the run-up to the election. “We always talk about ‘This is right, this is wrong, you’re in the wrong camp, I wouldn’t have done that,’” he said. “He knows where I stand, I know where he stands,” Rosen added. “Deep down I think he has more of a Democratic mindset, but you know maybe [the Republican party] is a good party to be with right now … What you make out of that, that’s going to be the judgement.” [RealDealMag]

–Noteworthy tidbit about Rosen’s new restaurant in the Seagram Building: “The Four Seasons restaurant will be replaced by two new eateries — one of them merely called the Grill, which Trump White House advisor Reed Cordish is backing.”

TOP OP: “Why Does Donald Trump Keep Dissing Jews?” by Frank Bruni: “Trump has established a pattern of offending — or at the very least ignoring — Jews. The most recent example was just last week, when he declined to pay his respects at a Holocaust memorial in Warsaw that other American presidents routinely visited… Ivanka converted to Judaism to marry Jared Kushner, and the couple’s key roles in the White House mean that Trump has observant Jews at the very core of his presidency — and of his life. But that didn’t stop him from making remarks to Jewish Republican donors in December 2015 that seemed to play into an anti-Semitic stereotype. “I’m a negotiator — like you folks,” he said, later adding: “Is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room?”

“A prominent Jewish Republican put it well. “I think Trump is such a pathological narcissist that the act of telling people who love you that you reject them — he can’t get around that,” he told me, interpreting Trump’s reasoning this way: “What can be wrong with them? They’re for me!” Trump is disinclined to denounce any constituency or tactics that elevate him to the throne, where he’s sure that he belongs… He doesn’t understand the message of zipping through Yad Vashem when predecessors lingered, because he’s less concerned with the weight of his office than with the whims and convenience of Donald Trump. It’s all about him, always — and if he’s sure in his own heart that he’s good with Jews, then he shouldn’t have to prove it.” [NYtimes

“Can Conservatives Find Their Way?” by Tevi Troy: “At a surface level, some issues do appear to unite current conservatives: disdain for anticonservative and anti-Republican bias in the mainstream media; support for conservative judges like Neil Gorsuch, who joined the Supreme Court in April; and support for Israel. But these issues themselves are insufficient, as well as more limiting. As Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at Hoover, told me, “those three things alone don’t make a governing agenda.”… Jonah Goldberg put it to me, “Trump is like a magnet next to a compass,” making it harder for conservatives to find true north as they argue over whether it is the duty of conservatives to support him or the duty of conservatives to oppose him…” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s nationalists triumphant after Europe trip” by Michael Crowley: “The influence of nationalist White House advisers, like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller — along with Trump’s own raw instincts — were on clear display. And all represent setbacks for the likes of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, who are trying to steer Trump’s policies in a more conventional direction. “Overall the trip embraced nationalism much more than internationalism,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.” [Politico]

“Attack, Attack, Attack: Why does Trump double-down every time it seems like he should retreat? Because Steve Bannon is back in his boss’s good graces” by Joshua Green: “[Steve] Bannon’s feud with Kushner has quieted down. And so far, while at least ten White House officials and former aides, including Kushner, have retained lawyers in the special counsel’s probe, distancing themselves from Trump, Bannon is not among them. Instead, he’s back in the bunker alongside a boss who is often angry, always under fire, and, on the matter of Russia, increasingly isolated from all but a handful of advisers and family members…. “[Marc] Kasowitz is a junkyard dog, exactly the guy Trump needs in his corner right now,” says Barry Bennett, a former campaign adviser.” [NYMag 

“The Road to Donald Leads through Ivanka” by David Böcking And Vanessa Steinmetz: “The so-called Ivanka Fund… also provides a boost to the G-20 hostess Angela Merkel. Amid the extremely difficult negotiations with the U.S. president on other issues addressed by the summit, the joint project announced on Saturday served to lighten the mood. It was a bright spot for which Merkel was more than willing to accept a joint appearance with Trump and his daughter… For Merkel, though, Ivanka presents an opportunity to gain the ear of a president who continues to act erratically.” [Spiegel] • Trump: Ivanka’s Life Would Be Much Easier If I Wasn’t Her Father [TIME

A White House official emails: “Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt flew to Israel on Sunday night to meet with Ambassador David Friedman. While the primary purpose of his trip is to meet with the Ambassador now that he is on the ground and fully installed in his position, Greenblatt will also likely be taking meetings relevant to both the Israelis and the Palestinians… This trip is an interim visit as talks continue about potential next steps. President Trump has made it clear that working towards achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a top priority for him.”

ICYMI: Friedman hosted his first 4th of July celebration at the Ambassador’s residence in Herzliya last week – the second time he hosted a party in Israel since his bar mitzvah. [JewishInsider] 

“Israeli Labor Party to Pick Netanyahu Opponent in Primary Runoff” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Israeli Labor Party members went to the polls Monday for a runoff election between two candidates hoping to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… Amir Peretz, a former defense minister and labor federation head, is going head to head against Avi Gabbay, ex-chief executive officer of Israel’s biggest telecommunications company, Bezeq The Israeli Telecommunication Corp., for the chance to head Labor’s slate in the next national election, scheduled for November 2019. Commentators have given Peretz the edge.” [Bloomberg]

Trump administration hits roadblocks for Israeli-Palestinian talks — by Aaron Magid: Elliott Abrams told Jewish Insider, “There is a gap now between the optimism of the transition period and the very early days of the administration and the lack of actual progress. For example, it’s July and there has been no meeting yet between [PM Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Mahmoud] Abbas.” Grant Rumley, a researcher at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracies, explained that the Trump team “seem to be getting bogged down in the negotiations about the negotiations, which is kind of a staple of the peace process these days. Ultimately [the Palestinians] still want to know that this administration envisions a two state solution the way Obama, Bush and Clinton did before them. I am not sure Abbas knows how far he can go with this without these assurances. For any big push to happen, the Palestinians will want to know it ends where previous administrations stated the goal is.”

At the same time, Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf Institute, credits the President for his active involvement on this issue. “The designation of Jared Kushner, the President’s trusted son-in-law, as the point person is an indication that this is (led by) the White House and not the State Department. That means the President put some amount of his personal and political prestige on the line,” he said.

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “I give [Kushner and Greenblatt] high marks for demonstrating the President’s personal interest and commitment both to Israel’s security and helping the Palestinians achieve their aspirations. Some of the language is a little bit different but I think the overall policy is much more similar. The commitments demonstrated to Israel’s security is also quite similar and important. The desire to engage Arab states more is also similar. The insistence on a sustained Palestinian commitment is also very consistent. I actually think there is much more continuity than change.” [JewishInsider]

“Trump Is In Danger of Pulling a Reverse Obama” by Ilan Goldenberg: “The administration’s overemphasis on the question of Palestinian prisoner payments may be creating a new precondition for negotiations – this time on the Israeli side. Whereas President Obama’s early push on settlements inadvertently created preconditions on the Palestinian side that persisted throughout his presidency, President Trump may be about to accidentally do the reverse.” [MatzavBlog]

ON THE HILL — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) will be holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the Taylor Force Act. Former senior George W. Bush administration official Elliot Abrams will testify in a sign of Chairman Bob Corker’s (R-TN) seriousness of passing such a bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will also hold a hearing on Wednesday for President Donald Trump’s nominee for FBI Director Christopher Wray. Given the controversial firing of former FBI Director James Comey, Wray’s hearing will likely be heated with both Democrats and Republicans using the platform to launch attacks on the opposing party’s handling of the Russia investigation. Additionally, after the Senate passed by an overwhelming margin (97-2) sanctions legislation targeting Iran last month, the bill still has not passed the House amid ongoing partisan disputes mainly regarding sanctions against Russia, which is tied to the same legislation. Those interested in applying tougher pressure against Tehran will likely lobby House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership to advance the bill.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis tells the Mercer Island High School Islander: “The Iranian people are definitely not the problem, it’s the regime that sends agents around to murder ambassadors in Pakistan or in Washington DC. It’s the regime that provides missiles to Lebanese Hezbollah or the Houthi in Yemen… It’s going to be very hard to deal with them. What you have to do eventually is what then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, which was to move sanctions, economic sanctions, against them and force them to the negotiating table because they want to stay in power.” [MIHS]

“At Private Dinners, Pence Quietly Courts Big Donors and Corporate Executives” by Ken Vogel: “The dinners are “a smart way for Vice President Pence and his team to recognize major supporters of his and the president’s agenda, and build resources that are going to be necessary for the upcoming battles,” said Charles Spies, a leading Republican election lawyer.”[NYTimes

2020 WATCH: “Andrew Cuomo Could Beat Trump … If He Can Win Over the Left First” by David Freedlander: “He’s beginning to travel out of state, including serving as policy chair for the Democratic Governors Association. He responded to a series of anti-Semitic incidents around New York by jetting off to Israel… “I’ll just be brazen and say it. If he decides to run for president, he’d be a really good president,” said Ken Sunshine, a public relations consultant for A-list celebrities and a longtime adviser to both Cuomos.” [PoliticoMag

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Sun Valley Summit: Potential Deal Discussions Could Turn Political” by Paul Bond: “A couple hundred media moguls are expected in Sun Valley, Idaho, starting Tuesday for the annual, multiday Allen & Co. summit, and speculation is that — in between conversations related to a stormy political climate — executives from Verizon, CBS Corp. and other major companies may be sizing up some of the smaller entities for possible acquisitions. A recent New York Post report said that Verizon may be considering making an offer for Disney, but while the former’s CEO Lowell McAdam is expected to attend the gathering, the latter’s CEO Bob Iger is not.” [HollywoodReporterNYPost]

** 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: Buyout firm Apollo to buy golf course operator ClubCorp for $1.1 billion [Reuters] • Paul Singer is thinking about swooping in on Warren Buffett’s latest deal [BusinessInsider] • Israel seeks managers for state-backed technology funds [Reuters] • Inside Gary Barnett’s $4B tower [TRD] • Priscilla Chan is running one of the most ambitious philanthropies in the world [Recode] • Sheldon Adelson Paid a Secret Visit to an Army Base While in Israel [Haaretz] • Israel Is Buying Drones That Fly With Machine Guns [Jalopnik]

“On Netanyahu’s Orders: Israel’s Foreign Ministry Retracts Criticism of anti-Semitism in Hungary and Strongly Attacks Soros” by Barak Ravid: “At the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry on Sunday retracted a statement issued the previous day by the Israeli ambassador to Hungary, which had called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán… to halt a poster campaign against Jewish-American financier George Soros on the grounds that it was fueling anti-Semitism… [The statement said,] “In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.” … The posters appearing all over Hungary over the past few days feature a picture of Soros laughing and are captioned, “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh.” Some of the posters were glued to the floor of train cars in Budapest and other cities, so that anyone boarding the train would have to step on them.” [HaaretzABCNews

“The Story of Jay-Z: Decoding the historical context behind the emcee’s economic nationalism on his new album 4:44” by Adam Serwer: “Perhaps the most concise and perplexing statement of [Shawn] Carter’s new unambiguous love for capitalism comes in a couplet on the second track, “The Story of O.J.”… On one jarring line, Carter states, “You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” Carter’s admonition is meant to encourage black people to imitate what he perceives to be a Jewish strength of ethnic solidarity and financial prowess… But the line is nonetheless startling because it invokes the anti-Semitic canard that Jews maintain financial control of everything you see… Carter is also drawing on an old tradition of using American Jews as a model of a downtrodden people who found success in America.” [TheAtlantic] • Guy Oseary: “In my opinion, Jay is giving the Jewish community a compliment.”[Instagram]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Israeli list of unrecognized US rabbis points to rift” by Ilan Ben Zion: “The list, obtained by The Associated Press, includes a number of prominent Orthodox rabbis in North America… The rabbinate, which oversees religious rituals for Israeli Jews, such as weddings, births and burials, would not say why it had rejected the overseas rabbis’ credentials or provide the criteria for securing their recognition… Another member of the list, Rabbi Adam Scheier, who leads an Orthodox congregation in Montreal and has ties with [PM Justin] Trudeau, called it “an affront to the hard work and devotion of so many of my colleagues – of all denominations.” … Rabbi Daniel Kraus of Kehilath Jeshurun, a major Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan, also is on the list. Kraus serves with Haskel Lookstein, the rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump. Lookstein’s name was not on the list, and while his conversions have been questioned by the rabbinate in the past, they are now accepted.” [AP

“Sen. Al Franken is back to telling jokes” by Avishay Artsy: “In an interview with the Jewish Journal… Franken reflected on his journey and what comes next… In your interview with Marc Maron on the podcast WTF, you said you are “very Jewish but not devout.” In what ways do you think of yourself as very Jewish? [Al Franken:] “I’m not devout in the sense that I observe all the holidays. You know, I observe the High Holy days. I’m a Reform Jew, what can I say. But I culturally am extremely Jewish. I think part of it has to do with, there’s a lot of Jewish comedians… I identify very much as a Jew. I had that very much pounded into my head. I was born in 1951 so not long after the Holocaust and that Jewish identity means a lot to me. I married out of the faith, I married a Catholic girl, but our kids are half Irish Catholic and half European Ashkenazi Jew. But they really see themselves as Jews… My son married a woman who’s also half Jewish, and they identify themselves as a Jewish family. So it’s a bit of a cultural identity. I mean, my son lives on the Upper West Side, for god’s sake. They’re within spitting distance of Zabar’s.” [JewishJournal

HOLLYWOOD: “Amy Pascal’s Hollywood Ending, Complete With Comeback Twist” by Brooks Barnes: “Ms. Pascal… seems to have emerged stronger and happier, having reinvented herself as a producer through her company, Pascal Pictures. She will deliver three films to three different studios this year, with more than a dozen more movies on the assembly line… Ms. Pascal, who is married to Bernard Weinraub, a former New York Times reporter, and has a 17-year-old son, Anthony, said she was thrilled to have more time to spend with her family… “I’m at peace,” she said… Encouraged by blockbuster results for movies like “Wonder Woman,” Hollywood is racing to champion female directors and characters. Ms. Pascal was often at her best as a studio executive… “I’m not trying to correct or counterbalance,” Ms. Pascal said… “I’m interested in women because I am a woman, and that’s what I understand.”” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: Sinclair triples down on Boris Epshteyn — by Hadas Gold: “Sinclair Broadcasting chief political analyst and former Trump White House official Boris Epshteyn… will now appear on Sinclair stations across the country nine times per week for his “Bottom Line with Boris” segments, the company confirms.” [Politico]

“How Politico’s Next Generation Took Over Washington” by Sarah Ellison: “It’s been a year since Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and Daniel Lippman took over Politico’s Playbook newsletter, the always insightful, relentlessly insidery bible for Washington’s swamp-creature class. Since then, the three have crisscrossed the country, launched a podcast, an afternoon newsletter, and thrown themselves into the event business. They also just sold a book about the backroom deals and dramas on Capitol Hill, scheduled for release after the 2018 midterm elections, provisionally titled “A Hill to Die On.”” [VanityFair]

PROFILE: “The Jeweler Shaking Up the 600-Year-Old Diamond Industry” by Nick Dall: “One of the only jewelers whose team takes stones through every step in the process — from bruting and polishing diamonds to turning them into jewelry — Yair Shimansky is an unmitigated success story with 10 stores in South Africa and one opening in New York later this year. Shimansky grew up in Israel, spending months at a time with his sea captain father and part of high school in London, where he developed a lasting distaste for wearing a suit and tie. After completing military service, he spent two years in Japan and moved to South Africa for what was supposed to be a short visit. But instead of returning to Israel, he started selling jewelry at flea markets around Durban — at first importing silver pieces and later crafting his own designs.” [Ozy]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Orthodox Jewish mom uses emoji in fight for women’s rights” by Erin Durkin: “Adina Miles, an Orthodox Jewish mom and popular social media personality from Flatbush… took out an ad in the Flatbush Jewish Journal to thank City Councilman Chaim Deutsch for joining her for a local graffiti cleanup. The ad featured a photo of herself smiling next to the Brooklyn pol and a crew of volunteers. But the paper refused to run a photo of her unblurred face, saying it violated modesty rules. They also refused to print the word “girl” in her moniker — so she slapped an emoji laughing so hard tears pour out of its eyes over her face, hoping to draw attention to the absurdity of the rule.” [NYDailyNews

DESSERT: “Sara Kramer, a New York Native, Finds Herself at Home in Los Angeles” by Oliver Strand: “Sitting at the counter of Kismet, the airy restaurant she opened this year with Sarah Hymanson on a not-quite-fashionable stretch of Hollywood Boulevard on the edge of Los Feliz, she talks about Southern California ingredients with the same casual boosterism that makes real estate agents bring up the climate. “Local citrus, local dates,” said Ms. Kramer, 31, a native of New York. “This is really the ideal place for us to be making this kind of food.” By “this kind of food,” Ms. Kramer meant her elegant approach to Israeli cooking… “I love this flaky malawach,” she said of a crispy, buttery, supple pastrylike bread you pull apart with your fingers. She said she grew up eating malawach made by her mother, who is Peruvian and Israeli.” [NYTimes

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — in Jerusalem: Last Wednesday night at Beit Hansen, Oklahoma-based philanthropist Lynn Schusterman was awarded the Builder of Jerusalem prize by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. In her remarks at the ceremony, Schusterman noted “I accept this award on behalf of those who believe in Jerusalem as a model of diversity, tolerance, belonging and coexistence. And who believe that Israel is the homeland for all the Jewish people.” Also in attendance: Stacy Schusterman, Sandy Cardin, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, Saul Singer, Wendy Singer of Start-Up Nation Central, Isabel Maxwell, Charlene Seidle of the Leichtag Foundation, and approximately 300 guests attending the annual ROI Summit.

BIRTHDAYS: Russian born mathematician, later a professor at UC Berkeley, Grigory Isaakovich Barenblatt turns 90… Broadway composer, whose scores include Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage aux Folles, Jerry Hermanturns 86… Stan Udaskin turns 71… NYC born author, now living in Jerusalem, Naomi Ragen turns 68… Member of Holland & Knight’s public policy and regulation group, previously a member of the US House of Representatives for Florida’s 22nd congressional district (2007-2011), Ronald “Ron” Klein turns 60… Member of the New York State legislature: Assembly (1995-2004) and Senate (since 2005), representing parts of Bronx and Westchester Counties, Jeffrey D. Klein turns 57… One of the chief film critics for The New York Times, Anthony Oliver (A.O.) Scott turns 51… NYC-based PR consultant, formerly on Bill Clinton’s post WH staff, M Public Affairs and Glover Park Group, Elie Jacobs turns 39… H. Alan Scott turns 35… Founder, creative director and designer for a fashion line bearing her name, she is the daughter of CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz, Kimberly Ovitzturns 34… VP of political and advocacy for BuzzFeed, Rena Shapiro… Managing editor of the Cleveland Jewish News, Bob Jacob… President of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey (mid-2014 to mid-2017), now chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Network Advisory Committee, Leslie Dannin Rosenthal… Michael F. Lewis… Kayla Sokoloff

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Jun
29

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Daily Kickoff: Spotted at Aspen Ideas | Muslim and Jews in America | Haley defends UNWRA | Israeli women in high-tech | Bret Stephens joins MSNBC

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Ed note: The Daily Kickoff newsletter is going on vacation for the week of July 4th but, rest assured, we’ll still be posting news and scoops to JewishInsider.com. 

SPOTTED AT ASPEN IDEAS: Paul Singer and Haim Saban schmoozing with Start-Up Nation Central CEO Eugene Kandel outside the SNC tent [Pic] … Also at the Start-Up Nation Central tent, Dan Senor and Seth M. Siegel with Fareed Zakaria [Pic] … A slightly more subdued Jeffrey Goldberg, in his new Atlantic Editor in Chief role, MC’ing the Ideas Festival comedy night [Pic] … Aspen Institute trustee Lynda Resnick at comedy night joking about the various applicants — including Michael Flynn, James Comey, Sean Spicer — vying to replace Walter Isaacson as Aspen Institute President [Pic] … Andrea Mitchell playing the fiddle [Pic]

Jeffrey Goldberg comparing Trump and Yasser Arafat: “At a certain point, we have to treat [Trump] as an adult and say this is a lie. And by the way, all politicians lie. This is not a unique situation we are in, it’s exaggerated. I remember years ago, I interviewed Yasser Arafat twice within a 48-hour period. In the first interview, I asked him if he thought a two-state solution was possible and he said, yes absolutely. Forty-eight hours later, I asked him the question again and he said it’s not possible… I think both times he was telling the truth. And so there is this cognition issue that we have to deal with which is – [Trump] believes the things that he’s saying to be true to be true in a genuine way. He’s being honest with himself that he thinks the lies are true.” [YouTube]

Panel on Muslims and Jews in America — featuring Abdullah Antepli, Founding Director of Duke University’s Center for Muslim Life and The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. Antepli: “We have to start acknowledging that Jews and Muslims are not doing well… I always consider myself or call myself, a recovering anti-Semite. I say ‘recovering’ because if you’re exposed to hate early on and if hate got into your system so early in your life, it takes a lifelong struggle to get that poison out of your system. In the secular, ultra-nationalist, chauvinistic education that I have received in my secular household (in Turkey), the first book I read about Jews and Judaism, at the age of 12, was the children’s version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the second book was Henry Ford’s International Jew and the third book was Mein Kampf… What saved me was studying Islam and getting exposed to mainstream Islamic theology… and thankfully, I met many wonderful Jews later in my life, which allowed me to take the nearest exit and drive in the opposite direction as fast as I can.”

“Let’s not kid ourselves. Jews and Muslims in the Middle East, they are not locking arms and singing Hineh ma tov uma naim shevet achim gam yachad. And Jews and Muslims in France and England, they are not singing Ose shalom bimromav hu yaase shalom aleynu. Things are tense and many boats have sailed.” But here in America, despite the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… because of this beautiful country, because the kind of context that we are in, and because of the Muslim and Jewish communities — two very similar, very complimentary faith communities in the U.S., the ships have not sailed yet.”

Jeffrey Goldberg: ”I was just singing Hineh ma tov to myself… If you think about it from a Jewish theological perspective, it’s a lot easier for a Judaism, as a faith system, to walk together with Islam… Obviously, on a political and social level, it should be easier than it is to walk together. The Jewish story in America, we are just further down the road of the same story than the Muslim American community is today, even in terms of the controversies of being a Muslim in America today. If you remember, in the ‘20s and ‘30s, Jews were considered by a majority of Americans as an alien and possibly dangerous presence. In 1926, when the immigration was shut off, when there was a travel ban imposed on Jews, it was the same fear of the other that was causing that.”

Antepli: “I hope I didn’t suggest that Jews and Muslims in America should part, ignore, suspend their loyalties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… because it’s not possible. It’s simply not possible and it would be so unfair to the deep loyalties of these communities and deep attachment to their part of the world. But I still believe, can Jews and Muslims in America meet each other where they are? An overwhelming majority of Jews in North America, they consider themselves Zionist, pro-Israeli… And an overwhelming majority of my community, including myself are pro-Palestinian… Despite this breakdown, it is to me pathetic and it’s so sad if Jews and Muslims in America are seeing themselves as the foot soldiers for a proxy war in the Middle East and they have nothing to tell each other other than the talking points of this political conflict on each side of the aisle.

Antepli: “In the words of Einstein — to me, he’s one of the greatest rabbis of the 20th century — what we have been doing so far…”

Goldberg: “I like the Jewish pronunciation of Einstein, by the way, I really do…”

Antepli: “There are two types of ongoing Jewish-Muslim conversations in North America. One, a group of Jews of Muslims come together and completely ignore — intentionally don’t talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…

Golberg: “These are those horrible endless interfaith seders…

Antepli: “Exactly… They talk about hummus, kosher chicken, halal chicken, and davening amidah, praying magrib together. Like – it’s all nice. But we have seen over and over the decades, this doesn’t have enough teeth and strength to prevent the kind of increasing polarization, increasing anti-Semitism in the Muslim community, increasing Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry in the Jewish community. Both communities are becoming more vulnerable and more and more hearts and minds are poisoned by hate… The second type of conversation is, they come and all they talk about is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Everybody comes with the self-serving facts and they start throwing facts to one another… And if we keep doing this and expecting different results — in the words of Rabbi Einstein — we are insane. We have to do something differently.” Watch the full session here [YouTube]

Wajahat Ali joking at Aspen Ideas comedy night: “Moderate Muslims, we are like Jews, really. Less self-loathing, more anger. Better food, less power.”

BATTLE OVER STATE: “Tillerson blows up at top White House aide” by Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s frustrations with the White House have been building for months. Last Friday, they exploded… The episode stunned other White House officials gathered in chief of staff Reince Priebus’s office, leaving them silent as Tillerson raised his voice. In the room with Tillerson and [Johnny] DeStefano (the head of the presidential personnel office) were Priebus, top aide Jared Kushner and Margaret Peterlin, the Secretary of State’s chief of staff. The encounter, described by four people familiar with what happened, was so explosive that Kushner approached Peterlin afterwards and told that Tillerson’s outburst was completely unprofessional… and told her that they needed to work out a solution.” [Politico]

“Tillerson and Mattis Cleaning Up Kushner’s Middle East Mess” by Mark Perry:  Tillerson’s aides, I was told, were convinced that the true author of Trump’s statement (on Qatar) was U.A.E. ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, a close friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. ‘Rex put two-and-two together,’ his close associate says, ‘and concluded that this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters. Otaiba weighed in with Jared and Jared weighed in with Trump. What a mess.'”[AmericanConservative]

HEARD THIS MORNING — Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe: “What Rex Tillerson did was not unprofessional. What Rex Tillerson did was patriotic, and way overdue…  Donald Trump wants his son in law to be the de facto Secretary of State… They are thinking ‘we don’t really need a Secretary of State, Jared’s going to be running everything himself.’ They’ve now gotten into a situation, they said it — I’ll testify under oath they said it repeatedly — Jared’s going to be the de facto Secretary of State… Let Rex Tillerson do his job or name Jared Kushner secretary of state.”

“Trump tweets shocking assault on Brzezinski, Scarborough” by Brian Stelter: “On Thursday morning, while MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” was on the air, Trump posted a pair of hateful tweets about co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Trump claimed that Scarborough and Brzezinski courted him for an interview at Mar-a-Lago around the New Year’s Eve holiday. “She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” the president wrote. MSNBC responded with this statement: “It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.” [CNN]

BIBI-ADELSON RELATIONS: “Netanyahu, Bennett vie for Adelson’s support at West Bank event” by Raoul Wootliff: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett both lavishly praised billionaire Jewish businessman Sheldon Adelson at an event Wednesday amid speculation the casino magnate was shifting his support from the former to the latter. Adelson was in Israel to lay the cornerstone for a new School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Ariel University in the West Bank settlement. During his speech, Netanyahu switched to English to hail Adelson and his wife Miriam as “not only good friends but huge supporters of the people of Israel and the State of Israel.” Bennett did likewise… But it was the optics of the event that suggested Adelson may be inclining to put his immense financial clout, and the influential Israel Hayom newspaper backing, behind Bennett. At the celebratory meal, it was Bennett who sat next to Adelson, and the two were spotted heartily toasting one other during a lengthy private conversation.”[ToI]

RUDY IN ISRAEL: “Rudy Giuliani: Trump Will Dispel ‘Nonsense About Putin’ During Upcoming European Trip” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “President Donald Trump will emphasize the U.S. commitment to NATO in his upcoming trip to Eastern Europe and plans to “assure” the countries bordering Russia that “the United States is there to support them,” said former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, speaking in Tel Aviv on Wednesday… The former mayor said he would be accompanying Trump on the July 5 trip.” [Haaretz

THE TRUMP TREATMENT — Israel to roll out red carpet for Modi:“Israel is going all out to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country, the first ever by an Indian premier… Mr. Netanyahu would be present at the Ben-Gurion airport along with the protocol team on July 4 to welcome Modi… Mr. Netanyahu, in a rare show of warmth, will also take Mr. Modi personally to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to show some of the rare exhibits related to the Indian-Jewish heritage… On top of all this, Mr. Netanyahu would also be accompanying “his friend” during his much awaited address to the Indian community at the Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv on July 5 in the evening.” [TheHindu

“India’s Modi to sleep in Trump’s bed in Israel” by Greer Fay Cashman: “After the big bear hug that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave US President Donald Trump in Washington this week, the news is that he will be the next occupant of Trump’s bed – well, not exactly. When Modi arrives in Jerusalem next week, he will be given the same luxury suite at the King David Hotel that Trump stayed in during his visit.” [JPost

LIKUD STAR IN NY: “Gideon Sa’ar warns American Jews two-state solution ‘a mistake’” by Moran Azulay: “Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar said Wednesday that it would be “a mistake to return to the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria as a solution to the conflict.” Speaking during the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in New York, Sa’ar warned of the consequences of the idea. “The establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria would flood the area with Syrian and Palestinian refugees and with radical Islamic elements who would arrive in order to lead the fight against the Jewish state. Israel will have no control over it then,” Sa’ar said.” [Ynet]  

ON THE HILL — by Aaron Magid: A Congressional letter calling on the Israeli government to drop military charges against Palestinian activist Issa Amro has obtained 32 signees, the highest number of support for an overtly pro-Palestinian initiative. Addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the letter notes, “United Nations human rights experts expressed concern that Mr. Amro is “being unfairly targeted due to his legitimate and peaceful human rights work.” Led by Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), the letter received support from Deputy Democratic National Chair (DNC) Keith Ellison (D-MN), Karen Bass (D-CA), and Ro Khanna (D-CA). However, the letter did not win support from any top Democrats such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Haley Defends UNRWA’s Schools and Healthcare Against Congressional Attacks — by Aaron Magid: Amidst an onslaught of Congressional criticism, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for aiding Palestinians. “I will say there’s also good that comes out of UNRWA: what they do with the schools and healthcare. You do see value in it,” Haley said on Wednesday when speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Haley explained, “There is so much resentment between the Palestinians behind that fence and Israel: that an uneducated Palestinian versus an educated Palestinian.” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PN) then interrupted Haley and asked her how much longer should the United States continue to fund UNRWA given the perceived lack of reforms. Haley responded, “The schooling and the health care for those groups in there (Palestinians), I mean, there’s no other place for them to get it. There’s a population there that does need to have that.” [JewishInsider]

Haley also took the opportunity to praise senior advisor Jared Kushner’s efforts to reach a long lasting peace agreement. “When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I think he’s (Kushner) being very effective in terms of when I was there, there’s hope. I felt it. Both sides realized they’ve got to come to the table.” [CSPAN]

“Haley: Trump’s tough line already bearing fruit at U.N.” by Alex Zietlow: “[Nikki] Haley defended the Trump administration’s 2018 U.N. budget request, which has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill this week… Mr. Trump’s budget was “making a point,” Ms. Haley argued, “and it worked.”” [WashTimes] • The UN is giving up on Trump [Politico]

“Corker: Russia-Iran sanctions talks hit new hiccup” by Elana Schor: “Although “there is no language issue” remaining with the Russia sanctions bill, Corker told reporters, “another little thing that’s more of a political issue” has arisen to hold up an agreement on advancing the legislation. The Tennessee Republican, who met earlier Wednesday with Democratic counterpart Sen. Ben Cardin, declined to comment on the nature of the political problem…. As recently as Tuesday afternoon, Cardin said he was inclined to sign off on the House’s proposed change to the congressional review provision. “I think I’m okay with it” based on a staff-level review of the House-drafted language, Cardin told reporters, warning that other Democrats may not have all agreed.”[Politico]

“How Trita Parsi and NIAC Used the White House to Advance Iran’s Agenda” by Hassan Dai: “After Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential elections… Patrick Disney, an NIAC lobbyist and the coordinator for CNAPI (Campaign for New American policy on Iran) declared: “This is a chance to demonstrate that our group and our position is now the ‘center of gravity’ on the Iran issue. With Obama in the White House, it is no longer acceptable for staffers to say they only hear from the far-right hawks on Iran–we’re here and we’re going to push for a positive agenda.” … The convergence of views between the Obama administration and the pro-Iran lobby helped NIAC and its partners to evolve from a pressure group to a high-level White House player… According to official records, NIAC President Parsi, visited the White House 33 times between 2013 and 2016.” [TabletMag]

“The Squeeze Is On Against Hamas” by Grant Rumley: “Israel, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, and several Arab countries are dialing up the financial and diplomatic pressure on Hamas — but they may also be setting the region on a path for war. This joint squeezing of Hamas in Gaza comes at a time when one of its most important foreign patrons, Qatar, is also under more pressure than ever. The move may end up pushing Hamas back into Iran’s embrace after years of estrangement. Hamas’s military wing has been a consistent advocate for re-establishing ties with Tehran… The multiple threats to Hamas’s lifelines could also push the group into a corner, a position that has led to conflict with Israel in the past.” [ForeignPolicy]

** Good Thursday 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: Sycamore Wagers $6.9 Billion That Shira Goodman’s Staples Can Thrive Again [Bloomberg] • As David L. Cohen named Phila. Theatre Co. chair, the Comcast exec has a call for businesses[Bizjournals] • Alice Rogoff’s Alaska Dispatch deals with lawsuits; companies say the paper isn’t paying its bills [Ktva]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli women laying the foundation for biggerrole in high-tech” by Ferry Biedermann: “When VC crowdfunding company OurCrowd last week launched a new initiative to link some of the largest companies in the world more closely to Israeli startups, it was led by its business development partner Laly David. She’s fully involved in investment decisions, a rarity for a woman in Israel… Merav Cohen is another Israeli self-described serial entrepreneur who’s taken an initiative to help women CEOs and founders of startups. WMN in the port of Tel Aviv… is not only a co-working space but also an “ecosystem” to facilitate women-led ventures, she says.” [CNBC

“Israel Leans Closer to Ultra-Orthodox Jews, Upsets U.S. Groups” by Rory Jones: ““This despicable decision sends an unmistakable message to diaspora Jewry, one of divisions and of alienation,” said Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s office who is against the government suspension.” [WSJ]

“Federations dispute story over stopping donations to Israel” by Alyssa Schmitt: “Gordon Hecker, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Columbus, denies he planned to stop all donations from his federation to Israel… because of Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu’s recent announcement suspending the 2016 agreement to expand prayer at the Western Wall… Jason Shames, the CEO of the Northern New Jersey Jewish Federation, also was mentioned in the story saying the decision would impact his federation’s relationship with Israel as well. “Wherever it came from it’s all fabricated,” Shames told the CJN. “The federation has not considered any changes of our existing supportive programs in Israel or Israel in general.””[CJN

MEDIA WATCH: “CNN boss in crosshairs if AT&T-Time Warner merger approved” by Claire Atkinson and Emily Smith: “AT&T will look to “neutralize” CNN President Jeff Zucker after it buys Time Warner, The Post has learned… “There was early talk about the way Zucker managed that wasn’t a good fit for the new organization,” one source said. “They were eyeing ways to neutralize him.” That desire leaves Zucker facing an uncertain future that includes the possibility of getting unceremoniously dumped, one source said… “What would be the reason to fire him?” one CNN insider asked, adding AT&T would risk losing credibility and perhaps top news talent.” [NYPost

Bret Stephens joins MSNBC and NBC as an on-air contributor: “MSNBC show host Nicolle Wallace announced the news on her program Wednesday afternoon when Stephens joined the show to discuss health care. “We’re so, so, so lucky and happy to have you,” Wallace said.”[Mic]

TRANSITION: Talia Alter has been promoted as AIPAC’s Northeast Deputy Political Director.

DESSERT: There’s a California chef making waves in the Mahane Yehuda district” by Jessica Ritz: “[Todd] Aarons… opened Crave Gourmet Street Food last October in a particularly buzzy pocket of Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market district. Locating it steps from the vendors inside the legendary shuk, he joined forces with three partners to bring a culinary edge to Israel, thanks to the chef’s SoCal-influenced palate and an unorthodox approach to the restaurant business… Its eclectic menu makes perfect sense to diners who are familiar with California’s food truck culture and the state’s culinary cross-pollination of Asian and Latin American influences… After all, diasporic mashups are an inherent part of Israeli cuisine and culture. And Aarons’ kosher cheeseburgers don’t hurt the appeal. “ [JewishJournal

“This Is the Orthodox Community’s Go-To Cool Sandwich Shop” by Patrick Kuh: “There are plenty of Jewish delis in L.A. that are not kosher (hello, Langer’s), but there may be only one kosher sandwich shop that isn’t a deli. Opened in March across from Pan Pacific Park by chef Eric Greenspan, Fleishik’s is where Orthodox men in black hats and schoolgirls in tartan pinafores queue up with customers who might usually opt for the pork belly at Animal. Because as Greenspan proves, rotisserie brisket layered over beet horseradish with crunchy chicken-skin gribenes and fried onions is exactly the kind of flavor-packed dish anybody would want to line up for.” [LAMag]

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise ship operator (includes Carnival, Cunard, Holland America and others), and owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Micky Arison turns 68… CEO of Aliya Marketing Group, a fundraising consulting group for not-for-profits, previously at JFNA (2016),  the LA Federation (2014-2016) and the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island (1996-2004), Joshua Karlin turns 58… Attorney General of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit turns 54… Screenwriter, director and producer, he has won nine Emmy Awards for his work on AMC’s “Mad Men” and HBO’s “The Sopranos,” Matthew Weiner turns 52… CEO of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Steven C. Wernick turns 50… Los Angeles-born, moved to Israel at 12 years old, political consultant, campaign strategist and former Chief of Staff to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ari Harowturns 44… British Labour party member of Parliament, first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2017, she has been outspoken against the rise of anti-Semitism in her own party, Ruth Smeeth turns 38… Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice movement, Shmuly Yanklowitz turns 36… Campaign finance consultant, who has raised money for Hillary and the DNC, David Wolf… Steven Kohn… Sara Sansone… Fred Gruber

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Daily Kickoff: Nikki Haley on why the US blocked Fayyad’s UN appointment | Kafe Knesset interview with Tzipi Livni | Meet rising star Alex Friedman

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SCENE LAST NIGHT: Start-Up Nation Central and The Paul E. Singer Foundation held a dinner last night on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival in the backyard tent of Laura and Gary Lauder’s Aspen residence. The evening, titled Driverless Cars: When? Where? What Do We Need to Know?featured a discussion with Amnon Shashua, the co-founder and chairman of Mobileye (recently acquired by Intel for $15B), moderated by David Leonhardt of the New York Times. “2021 is the year we can launch driverless cars. It’s achievable and not science fiction,” said Shashua who will soon be leading Intel’s autonomous driving division. Shashua explained the technology will be ready in 2019 but “it takes two years to test in order to prove that the risk of fatalities is at least three orders of magnitude lower than what we have currently.” [Pic]

During Q&A, Haim Saban asked Shashua about the millions who could lose jobs as a result of driverless vehicles and about the safety of the computers. “My computer at home broke down this morning, what is preventing the car’s computer from doing the same?” Saban then joked, “I think that I just destroyed the whole business” (laughter). Shashua responded that “this computer will never break down because there are redundancies built in. There is dual steering, redundancy breaking.” As for jobs, Shashua predicted that this transition “will unfold over at least two decades so I think people will have time to get new jobs.” [Pic]

Dan Senor called up New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to the stage to give the perspective of a municipal leader grappling with these issues. Landrieu told the crowd, “we’re already preparing for it, but there’s not gonna be a lot of autonomous vehicles heading to duck hunts in rural Louisiana anytime soon (laughter) so we’re focusing this as an urban agenda item for now.”

Later in the evening, Senor moderated a panel featuring Eran Shir, co-founder and CEO of Nexar which is creating the world’s largest open vehicle-to-vehicle network, along with the CEO of Start-Up Nation Central, Eugene Kandel. [Pic]

SPOTTED: Terry Kassel, Paul Singer, Karen Davidson, Cheryl Saban, Haim Saban, Amnon Shashua, Dan Senor, Campbell Brown, Laura Lauder, Gary Lauder, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Katie Couric, John Molner, Andrea Mitchell, Bonnie Lautenberg, Steve Leber, Mitch Julis, Amb. John Loeb, Derek Thompson, Daphna Linzer, Richard Haass, Susan Mercandetti, Bob and Susan Oberndorf, Walter Isaacson, Eliot Gerson, Vicki and Ron Simms, Bill and Leslie Elkus, Henry Elkus, Phyllis and David Cook, Diane Troderman, Josh Troderman, Bruce and Vicki Heyman, Francis and Dionne Najafi, Emily Einhorn, Daniel Einhorn, Carrie Walton, Michael Dimock, Seth Siegel, Daniel Lippman, Daniel Bonner, Talia Lefkowitz, Deborah Hochberg, Annie Dickerson, Joel Winton, Amitai Raziel, Raphael Ouzan, Tamar Remz, Betty Grinstein, Gabriel Erem, Byron Edwards, Bill Weidman, Larry Singer, Lisa Singer, Lewis Kassel, Max Karpel, Anne Kornblut.

HEARD AT ASPEN IDEAS — Wendy Sherman discussing the Iran deal in conversation with Jane Harman (whose birthday is today): Bill Burns had been the Undersecretary [of State for Political Affairs]. He had gone to an initial meeting with Iran, which was a big historic moment when the Americans entered the room with Iran, and Bill became deputy secretary of state, and early on, I said to him, ‘Do you want to keep the Iran file? You know, it’s a big deal.’ He said, ‘It’s all yours!”

Sherman on the Iranians: “Let me be really clear here: basically, in Iran there are hardliners and there are hard hardliners. We all talk about Rouhani as a moderate. He’s a very conservative cleric. So no one should have, you know, some belief that he’s going to all of a sudden open up Iran and it’s going to become a full-fledged democracy. It’s not going to happen. I have a lot of faith in the young people in Iran… But if there’s change, it’s going to be a long time in coming.”

On not shaking hands with the Iranians: “I had a discussion with them about how I grew up in a Jewish community that had a lot of Orthodox Jews and I couldn’t shake their hands either. It was really an odd and interesting discussion.”

On why the U.S. didn’t focus on Iran’s behavior: “No deal can carry the weight of everything. This is a Rubik’s Cube that was complicated enough. So to try to pile on all of Iran’s bad behavior would have, I think, been virtually impossible as a negotiation. But beyond that, and I had said this publicly, all of the Gulf states said to me at the beginning of this, do not discuss any regional issues in side rooms. Stay only focused on the nuclear deal because you cannot discuss our future if we are not in the room, which is sensible. And then, as the deal started to look like it might get done, they all said to me, how can you do this deal without solving all the other problems. I understand both. I really do.”

On coordinating with Israel: “Before and after every round, I met with, spoke with, or had a secure video conference with Israel, which provided enormous technical assistance to us.”

Harman: Wendy and I were in Israel at a security conference (INSS) right after the deal and she explained the enormous pain, personally, pain for someone who happens to be Jewish dealing with their own community, and I just think maybe you want to talk about that a little bit…  

Sherman: “It was very tough and I wanted to go to Israel to this conference to speak. It was very difficult to have a community that I love and feel a part of be so against what I was doing. I knew that the technical professionals in Israel thought we did a good job and that we had improved Israel’s security. And I understood and appreciated that the Prime Minister at a political level had a different view. I never questioned the PM’s right to make that decision… General [Yaakov] Amidror, who was National Security Advisor during a lot of this time, was at this conference and we hugged and kissed and we have moved forward.”

On Saudi Arabia, Gulf states’ warming relations with Israel as a result of the Iran deal: “I would urge you all to read an Op-Ed written by Phil Gordon in the Washington Post, which argues that if everybody think that suddenly there’s a kumbaya moment between the Gulf States and Israel, think again… I don’t think the Gulf states have any interest in being very public about their relationship with Israel.”

Jane Harman on Middle East peace: “There is some reason to think that because our president views this deal between [the Palestinians] and Israel as a deal of deals that attention will be paid — the neighborhood is now more aligned — I am not saying totally aligned — with Israel than it was, and there is an opportunity — not that it will happen — of what’s called an outside-inside solution.”

Sherman: “I’m not surprised that Jared Kushner had a difficult trip to the Middle East. It’s a tough problem.” [Pic]

Coming soon: Sherman announced yesterday she’s writing a memoir on her career in public service… Full recap of the session here [JewishInsider]

SIGHTINGS… Bob Stillman thanking Wendy Sherman for her service and asking a question about sunset clauses in the Iran deal. Sherman made sure to point out to the crowd that Bob is the Chair of AIPAC’s Greater Washington division [Pic Emma Green and Jeffrey Goldberg discussing the role of religion in public life [Pic Peter Lattman and Seth Siegel at the Start-Up Nation Central tent [Pic] … Talia Lefkowitz and Harry Zieve Cohen at the tent [Pic]

ON THE HILL — Haley Vows to Veto any Palestinian For Senior UN Post — by Aaron Magid: During a hearing before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee yesterday, Haley was asked in a heated exchange by Rep. David Price (D-NC) about the administration’s decision to veto the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the role of UN head of political mission to Libya in February. “I will tell you that Mr. Fayyad is as you say, he’s very well qualified and is a good, decent person… However, “it was not about Mr. Fayyad,” Haley explained. “It’s about the fact that the U.S. does not recognize Palestine… And because that is how he was presented, we did oppose that position.” Haley then confirmed that the U.S. would not support the appointment of any Palestinian individual until they are formally recognized by the U.S. as a state. [JewishInsider

Haley testified on Tuesday that Iran has not violated the 2015 nuclear deal. “In reference to the JCPOA, we’re not seeing any violations of that,” she said when speaking before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The former South Carolina Governor also warned Iran and Russia regarding the usage of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. My hope is that the President’s warning will certainly get Iran and Russia to take a second look, and I hope that it will caution Assad,” Haley explained.

Senator Feinstein ‘Regrets’ Netanyahu’s Western Wall Decision — by Aaron Magid: Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that she “regretted” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent move to scrap the Western Wall plan. “I think in this modern day of age: To say, when you have a dramatic historic artifact that has an overwhelming religious interpretation” where both men and women can’t pray together is a “mistake,” the Jewish California lawmaker noted. [JewishInsider]

STATE VISIT — AIPAC leaders to arrive in Israel for special meeting on Kotel crisis: The AIPAC delegation is being led by the organization’s President Lillian Pinkus and CEO Howard Kohr. Israeli officials who were in touch with AIPAC said the lobby organization is concerned that the Israeli cabinet decision on Sunday to cancel an earlier decision to build an egalitarian prayer plaza at the Western Wall could undermine support for Israel in Congress. “Part of the support for Israel on Capitol Hill is based on the idea that Israel is a democracy and safeguards peoples’ freedom and rights,” one official said. “The cabinet decision sends a different message.” [JPost]

“Bibi hits a wall” by David Suissa: “I’m a Jew first and an Israeli second,” I remember [Netanyahu] saying once at a Manhattan synagogue. Will he be able to say that next year at AIPAC, or at an American synagogue? Will anyone believe him? What American Jews are hearing today is that Bibi is an Israeli politician first and a Jew second. That is the price he is paying for appeasing intolerance. What I find especially sad about this affair is that Bibi knows how to build bridges — with non-Jews… But while he built those bridges, he allowed another bridge to fray—the bridge between his government and the Jews of the world.” [JewishJournal]

FRIEDMAN SPEAKS: “Weighing in on Western Wall crisis, new US envoy calls for Jewish unity” by Raphael Ahren: “Yesterday, I heard something that I thought I’d never hear before… I heard a major Jewish organization say that they needed to rethink their support for the State of Israel,” Friedman said at a B’nai B’rith journalism awards ceremony in Jerusalem. “That’s something unthinkable in my lifetime, up until yesterday. We have to do better. We must do better.” Friedman admitted that in the past he has been “as guilty as anyone else of having entered the partisan divide that has unfortunately to some extent fractured the Jewish community… But it has to end… We have to turn the page.”

“Although organizers billed his speech as his “first policy speech since arriving in Israel,” Friedman did not address the Israeli-Palestinian peace process… “We’re working very hard on a peace process,” he said. “There’s an expression in English: Those who talk don’t know, and those who know don’t talk. So here I actually know so I won’t talk. I don’t see any real purpose in jumping the gun on some sensitive discussions.” [ToI]

WATCH — Friedman: “I will confess to you, I also read Arutz Sheva – I hope it’s okay – and I also read Israel Hayom, but I also read Haaretz. So I try to get a balanced view of what’s going on here. This is a very complicated country for such a small country.” [YouTube

“Abbas looks to new Saudi crown prince for Mideast initiative’ by Shlomi Eldar: “The Palestinian representatives’ biggest disappointment was Greenblatt, who had previously seemed to them devoid of prejudice and also efficient and determined. They had gotten the impression at the beginning of his mission that he was not easily swayed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the source said. He added, however, the combination of Greenblatt and Kushner does not bode well for the Palestinians. According to the source, things occasionally became so heated… that it seemed on the verge of a blowup. Kushner surprised the Palestinians when he hinted that there was no guarantee that Trump would insist on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations if he concluded that a diplomatic breakthrough was not a possibility… Now the Palestinians have another target — Mohammed bin Salman, the man appointed Saudi crown prince June 21. The plan is to get the prince on board with their cause so he can help them right the unfair slant they see on the American team.”[Al-Monitor]

HEARD YESTERDAY – State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on reports that Trump is considering to withdraw from the peace process: “This is something that I was involved with and on the phone with over the weekend, hearing from some of the folks who had been traveling with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt as well. And that’s just false. The President has made Israeli-Palestinian peace one of his top priorities… We understand and recognize that this is not going to be a one-shot deal. It’s not going to be handled in one meeting or one trip. It is no surprise also that some meetings and conversations may be a little bit more difficult than others. Some will be more challenging. The President has said himself that it is not going to be an easy process, that both sides – the Israelis and the Palestinians – will have to give a bit in order to be able to get to a peaceful arrangement, which we hope to see. But we are not pulling out in any way, shape, or form of this as being one of our priorities.”

KAFE KNESSET — Interview with Tzipi Livni — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: As the White House is brushing off reports which indicate that President Trump might be considering backing off from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, former Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni told Kafe Knesset today she believes that the President should present his own list of core principles on the table and use it to kick off negotiations.

“This is something that Obama did not do – and it is an opportunity for President Trump. Obama hesitated. But all you need to do is present a paper with just a few sentences. Talking about where are we going. Separation from the Palestinians. Two states for two peoples. A demilitarized Palestinian state. They already agreed on it, so why not write it? Pre-1967 border lines plus swaps has already been agreed as a base for negotiations. By putting these simple principles on the table — both leaders — Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, would be forced to make decisions. I respect the fact that the President doesn’t want to force both sides to accept content, but he should force them to make decisions. And in the past Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to negotiate on the basis of these principles.” Read the full interview and today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Who’s afraid of Trump? Not enough Republicans — at least for now” by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker: “Trump allies have encouraged major GOP donors to reach out to senators who oppose the bill. Las Vegas casino moguls Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn have both spoken by phone with [Senator Dean] Heller to prod him along, according to people familiar with the discussions.” [WashPost]

Ken Vogel: “NEWS: Sheldon Adelson, who spent $$ to elect Dean Heller, is “not happy” with Heller’s AHCA opposition; called to express displeasure, I’m told.” [Twitter]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Nestlé, the $265 billion target of an activist hedge fund just announced $21 billion in share buybacks [BusinessInsider] • Making Ivanka Trump shoes: Long hours, low pay and abuse [AP] • Fiverr launches a Pro tier and acquires video production marketplace Veed [TC] • Steven Elghanayan’s firm secures $78M to refi Soho office building [TRD] • “In its announcement on Tuesday, Pandora said that Jason Hirschhorn, a former executive at Myspace and MTV Networks who runs a popular news aggregator, had joined the board.” [NYTimes]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli spy agency launches fund to invest in tech ” by John Reed:“Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, is setting up an investment fund for high-technology start-ups, in a move that highlights the symbiosis between the country’s business community and its security apparatus. The fund would be looking for new technologies, including encrypting information at high speed, personality profiling based on online behaviour, flexible rob­otics, miniaturised systems, and “all-terrain capabilities and silencing solutions for land, sea and air,” a government statement said.”[FT

LongRead: “Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” by Andrew Green: “A year-long investigation by Foreign Policy that included interviews with multiple Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers… reveals an opaque system of shuffling asylum-seekers from Israel, via Rwanda or Uganda, into third countries, where they are no longer anyone’s responsibility. It begins with furtive promises by Israeli authorities of asylum and work opportunities in Rwanda and Uganda. Once the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers reach Kigali or Entebbe, where Uganda’s international airport is located, they describe a remarkably similar ordeal: They meet someone who presents himself as a government agent at the airport, bypass immigration, move to a house or hotel that quickly feels like a prison, and are eventually pressured to leave the country.” [FP]

“What America Can Learn From Israel’s Peripheral Communities” by Eliana Rudee: “According to Tamar Gil, director of resource development for Tor Hamidbar, an organization working to develop the Negev, the number of students who stay in the Negev after university has doubled in the past ten years. For young Israelis, moving to the periphery may be their only realistic ticket to even dream of buying a home… In the United States, young people are already beginning to move to peripheral communities in search of affordable living, but it must be followed by growth of businesses and charitable investments in order to keep them there… The development of Israel’s Negev is the perfect example of creating opportunity out of the periphery.” [Forbes]

“I’m Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars” by Bari Weiss: “It may be wrong to read too much into an ugly incident at a single march, but Jews should take what happened in Chicago as a lesson that they might not be as welcome among progressives as they might imagine. That’s a warning for which to be grateful, even as it is a reminder that anti-Semitism remains as much a problem on the far-left as it is on the alt-right.” [NYTimes

“How Donald Trump and Roy Cohn’s Ruthless Symbiosis Changed America” by Marie Brenner: “There was a party in the mid-1980s… [when] in walked Trump,” recounted [Cohn’s cousin David L. ] Marcus. “Roy dropped everyone else and fussed over him . . . Roy had that ability to focus on you. I felt that Roy was attracted to Trump, more than in a big-brotherly way. “Donald fit the pattern of the hangers-on and the disciples around Roy. He was tall and blond and . . . frankly, über-Gentile. Something about Roy’s self-hating-Jewish persona drew him to fair-haired boys. And at these parties there was a bevy of blond guys, almost midwestern, and Donald was paying homage to Roy . . . I wondered then if Roy was attracted to him.” [VanityFair]

RISING STAR: “Alex Friedman Takes Love of Politics to City Hall” by Justin Silberman: “[Alex] Friedman, who was sworn in as the first Orthodox commissioner on the Baltimore City Youth Commission June 12, said he strongly believes that turning things around for the city starts with youth. In his newly appointed position representing Democratic Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer’s 5th District, Friedman believes he is in prime position to help bring about that change. “The great thing about the Youth Commission is that our influence is as much as we want it to be,” said Friedman, who noted he loves to wear his yarmulke around City Hall… “I’ve always felt a responsibility to be involved with my community in any way possible,” said Friedman, who also interns for House Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) on Capitol Hill. “I have to give a lot of credit to my parents for instilling that in me.”

“Friedman’s mother, Chaya, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge, cites her husband, Howard, as one of their son’s biggest influences. Howard Friedman was president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from 2006 to 2009, making him the first Orthodox president of the pro-Israel lobby group… Chaya recalls that Friedman was first bitten by the political bug when, at the age of 5, he memorized the name of every president and rattled off facts on each one. After each new election, he would get a book containing the names and background information of all 535 members Congress members.” [JewishTimes]

“Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, Who Made Jewish Prayer Books Clear to All, Dies at 73” by Joseph Berger: “Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, who took a small wedding-invitation print shop and turned it into ArtScroll Mesorah, the leading publisher of prayer books and volumes of Torah and Talmud in the expanding Orthodox Jewish world, books notable for their easily readable typography, instructions and translations, died on Saturday in Brooklyn. He was 73… “ArtScroll made it possible for anyone to study Talmud on his or her own,” said Samuel C. Heilman, who specializes in Jewish studies as a distinguished professor of sociology at the City University of New York. The elegant ArtScroll siddur, or prayer book, used for daily Sabbath and holiday prayers is so sought after that more than a million copies have been printed. It is used even by some synagogues in the more liberal Conservative Jewish movement…” [NYTimes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted the annual Jewish Heritage celebration at Gracie Mansion. De Blasio said that during a recent lunch with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in New York, “I reminded him of the fact that my Jewish community is larger than his Jewish community in Jerusalem. And my community is growing, and I am proud of that fact. 1.2 million Jewish New Yorkers. This is the center of the Jewish universe in so many ways.” At the event, the mayor proclaimed June 27th as the “Joe Potasnik Day” in honor of Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis. Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan also addressed the crowd. “It’s very easy to be Jewish, it’s very easy to be pro-Israel in New York,” said Dayan. [JewishInsider

SPOTTED: Assemblymembers David Weprin and Jeff Dinowitz; Councilmembers David Greenfield, Andrew Cohen and Chaim Deutsch; Michael Miller, Phil Goldfeder, David Pollock, Sol Werdiger, Malcolm Hoenlein, Galit Peleg, Avi Fink, Pinny Ringel, Captain Richard Taylor, Charles Temel, Rabbi Gideon Shloush, Stephanie Garry, Ariel Tirosh, Melissa Jane (MJ) Kronfeld, Fred Kreizman, Duvi Honig, Ezra Friedlander, Meir Laufer, Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Kalman Yeger, Yidel Perlstein, Eric post, Alicia Post, George Artz, Jason Koppel, Tali Alter, Jeff Leb, Yeruchim Silber, Josh Mehlman, Herbert Block, Inna Vernikov, Joel Lefkowitz, and Joel Eisdorfer.

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, a Fortune 50 company that includes NBC Universal, Brian L. Roberts turns 58… Personal outside attorney for President Donald Trump, Marc Kasowitz turns 65… Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award winning actor, movie director, composer and comedian, Mel Brooks (born Melvin James Kaminsky) turns 91… Former United States Senator from Michigan (1979-2015), including 8 years as Chairman of Armed Services, now on the faculty at Wayne State University Law School, Carl Levin turns 83… Former member of Congress for 16 years and now CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, she is also a trustee of both the Aspen Institute and USC, Jane Harman turns 72… Political consultant, community organizer and author, husband of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Robert Creamer turns 70… Novelist, journalist, conservative commentator and senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, Mark Helprin turns 70… Documentary producer and director and television editor for broadcast and cable production companies, James Ruxin turns 69… Member of the California State Senate (2012-2016), following two terms in the State Assembly (2008-2012), previously an administrator and professor at San Diego State University, Martin Jeffrey “Marty” Block turns 67… Controversial Israeli journalist and author, her writing is largely sympathetic to the Palestinian point of view, Haaretz’s Amira Hass turns 61… Rabbi of the Har Bracha community in the Shomron and Rosh Yeshiva of the hesder yeshiva there, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed turns 56… Principal of GPS Investment Partners, chairman of Chiron Investment Management, former president of Apollo Global Management, Marc Spilkerturns 53… Actress and singer, Jessica Hecht turns 52… Member of Knesset since 2013 as a member of the Labor Party / Zionist Union, Michal Biranturns 39… Social secretary for the Israeli Embassy in DC, Molly Rosen… Saralee Rosen… Mark Winkler… Mark Ziven… Toltzy Kornbluh… 

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bibi greenblatt

Kafe Knesset for June 15

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Trump, Israelis, Palestinians – and the settlers: The US special envoy, Jason Greenblatt,…

Screenshot via Bloomberg TV

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on the Early Days of Dad’s Company, Maccabiah Games

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts talked with renowned financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein about the company he helped build with his father Ralph, his early life experience, as well…

Knesset plenum

Kafe Knesset for June 14

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Secretary Tillerson’s statement that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has changed its policy of…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for June 13

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Tensions on the southern border continue to exacerbate: On Sunday evening, the security cabinet…

PHOTO: POOL/REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for June 12

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Labor versus BB: NO: The Haaretz expose revealing a secret Netanyahu-Herzog-Sissi meeting…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Lawmakers Discuss Bolstering Financial Pressure Against Hezbollah

Friday, June 9, 2017

WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Thursday devoted to increasing the economic pressure against Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization which has fought multiple…