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Ed note: Hope you all had a wonderful Passover holiday!
WHILE WE WERE AWAY: The New Yorker revealed that new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has a cat named ‘Moshe’ … Fast Company’s April cover story highlighted Yair Rosenberg’s anti-hate Imposter Bot and how Twitter sided with the trolls… Philanthropist and feared corporate raider Samuel Belzberg passed away at 89… Bernie Sanders called the killing of Palestinian demonstrators ‘tragic’ … Hungarian populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban wona new term. Israeli PM Netanyahu called to congratulate and invited Orban to visit Israel… Former President Bill Clinton admitted he tried to help Peres beat Netanyahu in 1996… Robert Mueller is investigating the work of Israeli start-up Wikistrat that has undertaken projects for the United Arab Emirates… The US Supreme Court rejected a bid to make the PLO pay $655 million in damages to six terror victims in Israel… Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy suffered a setback in suit against Qatar over emails… The New York Times profiled Charles Rivkin, former U.S. Ambassador to France and now the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America…
The Kushner family flew a Trump 757 to Saratoga, Wyoming for Passover… Charlie Kushner gave an interview to the NYT where he challengedinvestigators to “go knock yourselves out for the next 10 years. We didn’t do anything wrong.” … The Times also reported “there are tensions between Jared and Josh over Mr. Trump.” … Maureen Dowd wrote a piece titled ‘Javanka vs. the Klossy Posse‘ and quoted friends of Josh’s girlfriend Karlie Kloss who “are upset, claiming that Ivanka has not been as supportive to Karlie as she could have been during her trial by fire imposed by the Kushner parents over the conversion issue” … According to a source, Josh and Karlie celebrated Passover in NYC and not Saratoga [Pic]
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman concluded his U.S. trip this past weekend visiting with both former Presidents Bush 41 & 43 in Houston, Texas. The MBS road trip included meetings with Jewish leaders, interfaith leaders, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein. Last week, the Saudi Crown Prince — at the suggestion of Jared Kushner — dined with media mogul Haim Saban, political strategist Dan Senor, and Jonathan Nelson in Beverly Hills to help MBS identify “potential areas of quiet cooperation” between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The following day, MBS attended another Hollywood dinner hosted by Brian Grazer and Ari Emanuel. Guests included Disney CEO Bob Iger, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, filmmaker Ron Howard, Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, Kobe Bryant, Goldman Sachs executive Dina Powell and Bridgewater Associates Co-CEO David McCormick.
In an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the Saudi Crown Prince recognized the Jewish people’s right to “their own land” and predicted“good and normal relations” with Israel if an Israeli-Palestinians peace deal is reached.
THE MOST INTERESTING READ FROM LAST WEEK — “A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East” by Dexter Filkins in the April 9th issue of The New Yorker: “In his work with the White House, is Mohammed bin Salman driving out extremism, or merely seizing power for himself? M.B.S., like his ally Jared Kushner, is young, ambitious, and determined to change the balance of power in the region. “They want to break it up,” a former official said. Read the full piece here [NewYorker]
Notable Paragraphs — How the Saudis and Emirates helped kick out Morsi from Egypt: “When Morsi got elected, the Saudis and the Emiratis went into overdrive,” a former senior American diplomat told me. According to several former American officials, M.B.Z. and Bandar bin Sultan, the director of Saudi intelligence, began plotting with others in their governments to remove Morsi from power. Egypt’s generals were already organizing against him. Bandar and M.B.Z. reached out to the Egyptian defense minister, General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and promised twenty billion dollars in economic aid if Morsi were deposed… As the coup took shape, Bandar and Sisi used Mohammed Dahlan, a Palestinian confidant, to carry messages and money to collaborators in the Egyptian military.”
— Speculation on Kushner Co’s role in Qatar blockade: “Some Qataris speculate that Kushner endorsed the blockade partly out of frustration over a failed deal with his family’s real-estate firm. In April, a month before the summit, Qatar’s finance minister, Ali Sharif al-Emadi, flew to New York to examine new investment opportunities. According to a financial analyst with knowledge of the meeting, among the hopefuls were Kushner’s father, Charles, and his sister Nicole. They came seeking money to rescue the family’s signature property, 666 Fifth Avenue. “He asked for just under a billion dollars,” the financial analyst told me. The Qataris declined, citing dubious business logic. “They could have bought the building—believe me, they have the money,” the analyst said. “They just didn’t think it would ever pay off.” The analyst worried that refusing the deal had a political cost. “Here’s a question for you: If they had given Kushner the money, would there have been a blockade? I don’t think so.”
— When MBS summoned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh: “According to two former American officials active in the region, he was held for eleven hours. “The Saudis put him in a chair, and they slapped him repeatedly,” one of the officials told me. (Hariri’s spokesman denied this.) At the end, in a surreal video that was played on Saudi television, Hariri, looking exhausted and drawn, read a resignation speech, claiming that he had fled Lebanon to evade an Iranian plot to kill him… Ultimately, the plan collapsed when most of the Lebanese political establishment protested Hariri’s captivity. “The whole country is unified around him,” a senior Hezbollah leader told me.”
— Hariri’s synagoge connection: “Several days after his return, I went to see Hariri in Beirut. He lives in the Beit al-Wasat neighborhood, inside a high-walled compound of exquisitely restored villas with views of the Mediterranean; a few doors down sits the Maghen Abraham synagogue, destroyed during the civil war and rebuilt with the help of Hariri’s family. Despite the grand surroundings, he seemed less a returning hero than an exhausted former prisoner. “I don’t want to talk about what just happened,” he said, slumped behind his desk. “M.B.S. was right, O.K.? What he is trying to do is right.”
— Inside the Ritz-Carlton ‘prison’ in Riyadh: “Some of those who had been inside the Ritz-Carlton reported that the captors spoke English to one another, which raised the possibility that M.B.S. had recruited foreigners to help him.” [NewYorker]
DRIVING THE WEEK: “Trying to end the Gulf dispute” by Jonathan Swan: “Trump has a consequential meeting on Tuesday with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. The President badly wants to end the feud between the Gulf nations… A senior administration official told me: “The overarching goal is to end this dispute, which the president believes is only helping the Iranians. POTUS takes seriously the message he received from many Gulf leaders that Qatar was a major terrorist financing problem but he also believes the pressure put on them from the U.S. and allies has led to real change.” [Axios]
ULTIMATE DEAL: Senior administration officials are insisting that despite the setbacks, Trump’s Middle East peace plan is still on the agenda as a “realistic and sellable” proposal.
— “Abbas sets conditions for hearing out Trump’s forthcoming peace plan” by Adam Rasgon: “We will not listen to anything that comes [from the Trump administration], regardless of what it is, unless if the two-state solution [is endorsed] and east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine is recognized,” Abbas said at a meeting of the Fatah Central Committee. “If that happens, we can talk about rest of the issues remaining on the table.” [JPost]
Trump’s dinner guests: Trump has made a habit of quietly hosting dinners in the White House for friends and political allies, Politico reported. Among the guests, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Rupert Murdoch and real-estate developer Richard LeFrak. In the weeks after former NEC director Gary Cohn criticized Trump’s response to the Charlottesville march, Cohn managed to redeem himself and impress the President during a dinner in the White House residence. Last Tuesday, Trump dined with Oracle’s Safra Catz and venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
Bibi’s Flip-Flop: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu caved under pressure from his base and canceled a historic agreement reached with the UN refugee agency that would have seen thousands of African migrants given temporary status in Israel, while the rest resettled in Western countries. U.S. Jewish groups, who initially praised Bibi, urged him to reconsider the deal. The reversal suggested Bibi hasn’t yet given up on the idea of early elections.
TOP TALKER: “U.S. officials confirm Israel hit Syria after suspected Ghouta chemical attack” by Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube: “Israel carried out air strikes against a Syrian air base early Monday morning and informed the U.S. in advance, two U.S. officials told NBC News. Russia’s Defense Ministry said two Israeli aircraft targeted the T4 air base in Homs province, firing eight missiles.” [NBCNews]
— “The strikes came a day after President Trump warned that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his Russian and Iranian backers would have a “big price to pay” after dozens of people were killed near Damascus in what rescue workers said was a chemical attack. [NYT]
REPORT — “Netanyahu couldn’t convince Trump to rethink Syria policy” by Barak Ravid: “The phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump — which took placelast Tuesday — failed… The Israeli source said Netanyahu was the one who initiated the call. The prime minister’s aides asked the White House to organize the call as soon as possible last Tuesday while knowing Trump was going to have a national security council meeting on Syria the same day. The Israeli source added that eventually “Netanyahu’s call was too late” and the President made clear he has made up his mind and that the pullout from Syria was a matter of time.” [Axios] • Liberman signals Trump didn’t consult with Israel on Syria withdrawal [ToI]
TRANSITION — Two new appointees are expected to be thrust into the limelight and define America’s foreign policy ahead with John Bolton starting his first day as National Security Advisor today, and Mike Pompeo’s Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on Thursday.
“Trump’s top national security spokesman to leave White House” by Eliana Johnson: “National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said Sunday that he plans to leave the White House — a move that will leave President Donald Trump without one of the earliest and sharpest defenders of his “America First” foreign policy… The announcement of Anton’s departure coincides with that of McMaster, whose last day was Friday, and with the arrival of John Bolton.” [Politico]
SUNDAY SHOWS — Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) on the U.S. possibly withdrawing from Iran deal on Face the Nation: “If the United States violates the agreement, we are isolating America, not Iran, from the international community. By all indications, Iran has not violated the agreement. Yes, I disagreed with the agreement from the beginning, but this is an agreement. Iran is complying with it and the United States would be marginalized by withdrawing from the agreement. So I hope that the President will recognize that we need to work with our European allies to make sure we’re in lockstep against Iran.” [Video]
TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Though Deadly, Gaza Protests Draw Attention and Enthusiasm” by David Halbfinger: “Palestinians seem energized and enthusiastic about sustaining a generally nonviolent form of protest — even if it is Israel’s harsh response to it and the mounting Palestinian death toll that has put their conflict with Israel back on the international agenda… The Israelis, for a variety of reasons, have long been worried about such a shift. And they now find the world paying attention as they use disproportionate force to prevent what they believe could be a catastrophic breach in the Gaza fence…” [NYTimes] • Palestinian Journalist Killed In Gaza Protest [NPR]
Jason Greenblatt tweets: “When the leadership of Gaza renounces violence & ceases to threaten its neighbors, it will find an outstretched hand from the US, ready to help improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. Such a step forward can yield tremendous opportunity.”
HEARD YESTERDAY — Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumershared his personal connection to Israel during an interview at the Israel Summit at Harvard: “I remember one of my first experiences when I went to Israel: there were Jewish garbagemen — in America, we have never seen Jewish garbagemen — I mean, in Israel, every Jew did everything, and that was an amazing experience. I like the Israelis because they are a little bit like we Brooklynites — very direct, maybe sometimes too direct… I don’t go back as often as I’d like, but every time I go I feel strengthened and revitalized, not just as a Jew but as a human being because it’s an amazing human endeavor.” — 19:45 minute mark [Video]
— Amar’e Stoudemire discussed Judaism and life in Israel during a conversation with Jon Frankel, correspondent for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO: “My family is from the ancient Tribes of Israel. So we’re considered to be Israelites… We read the Old and New Testament, but we only follow the laws and the holidays of the Old Testament. ” Frankel: You enjoyed your matza over the last eight days? Stoudemire: “I did. I had to make sure I had a glass of wine after every bite man, it just drys out your mouth.” JF: Should I push my luck, and ask you whether you enjoyed the gefilte fish? AS: “Man, I’m not a big fan of the gefilte fish.”
Amar’e on applying for Israeli citizenship — JF: Shimon Peres… had asked you at one point to play for the national team, is that right? AS: “Yeah, he did, he asked me that. I wasn’t sure at the time because at the time I was in the middle of my NBA career… But then after I started playing for Jerusalem, I started thinking about maybe applying for citizenship and making Aliyah. And so if that was the case, then there would be a chance that I can play for the national team… I’m in the process of converting now, simply to get acclimated to the culture in Israel and also to apply for citizenship. But even if I don’t get citizenship, I’m still going to be an advocate, spokesperson for Israel. I’m going to always go back to visit.” — 01:15:00 [Video]
** 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: Larry Summers Compares Trump’s Amazon Attack to Italy Under Mussolini [Bloomberg] • Larry Silverstein is buying ABC’s Upper West Side campus for $1B: report [TheRealDeal] • Michael Novogratz is searching for redemption in cryptocurrencies [NewYorker] • George Soros Prepares to Trade Cryptocurrencies [Bloomberg] • Sumner Redstone Wouldn’t Have Last Word on a CBS-Viacom Merger [WSJ] • Vornado Says It Has ‘Handshake’ for Kushners to Buy It Out of 666 Fifth [Bloomberg; NYTimes] • Kushner, CIM to Get $600 Million JPMorgan Loan for Brooklyn Site [Bloomberg] • Sports car maker Porsche invests in Israeli startup Anagog [ToI] • How Tech Grows In 5,000-Year-Old Jerusalem [Forbes]
COMING SOON… “Zuckerberg Gets a Crash Course in Charm. Will Congress Care?” by Kevin Roose, Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel: “In preparation for [Mark] Zuckerberg’s testimony, his first such appearance, Facebook has spent the last couple of weeks trying to transform its public image from a defiant, secretive behemoth into a contrite paragon of openness, announcing a string of new privacy and anti-abuse measures and making company executives available for numerous interviews. It has also hired a team of experts, including a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, to put Mr. Zuckerberg, 33, a cerebral coder who is uncomfortable speaking in public, through a crash course in humility and charm. The plan is that when he sits down before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg will have concrete changes to talk about, and no questions he can’t handle.” [NYTimes] • Zuckerberg Says He’s Not Resigning [TheAtlantic]
Harvard professor Jonathan Zittrain offers a suggestion: “Zuckerberg controls 60 percent of Facebook’s shareholder votes. So he doesn’t have to worry about next month’s subscriber count or how to deflect a hardball question from a committee chairman. He can contemplate posterity with big ideas geared to a public interest… To get a sense of the new approaches he should take, consider why Congress is calling hearings. The core offenses begin with classic and now pervasive online privacy violations… On the policy front, we should look to how the law treats professionals with specialized skills who get to know clients’ troubles and secrets intimately… The legal scholar Jack Balkin has convincingly argued that companies like Facebook and Twitter are in a similar relationship of knowledge about, and power over, their users — and thus should be considered “information fiduciaries.” [NYTimes]
SPOTLIGHT: “Lauder gave $1.1m to group producing anti-Muslim ads in 2016” by Eric Cortellessa: “The Center for Responsive Politics revealed that [Ron] Lauder… was among the largest contributors to an ad campaign waged by Secure America Now… Throughout the election, the right-wing neoconservative group released three mock advertisements that stoked fears of Muslim influence in the United States.“ [ToI] • Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, called for Lauder to resign as president of World Jewish Congress
A Lauder spokesperson emails us… “Mr. Lauder donated to Secure America Now to support their work in opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. He had nothing to do with any of the group’s other activities. Mr. Lauder has consistently supported interfaith respect and dialogue. He would never be involved with insulting people of faith.”
LongRead: “This Is What It Was Like Learning To Report Before Fake News Was The Biggest Problem In The World” by Ben Smith: “You learn how to be a reporter in large part by making mistakes, and I made most of my worst ones in Belarus. I’ve been thinking about them lately because so much of what we were wrestling with then feels relevant: questions about American and post-Soviet power, about the allegiances and responsibilities of reporters, and about the power of narratives. I’ve been thinking, in particular, about what I did to a young Belarusian activist named Alexei Shydlovski back in 2001, and when I returned to the subject recently I found I’d been wrong about more than I realized…”
“The main lesson I should have learned was about making predictions, about trusting the confidence of my American culture and of official sources on both sides, of imagining I knew more than I did. Even in the era of Steven Spielberg’s The Post and of a kind of glorification of the work of journalists, good reporting doesn’t offer easy lessons. It’s an uncertain business, and a necessarily anarchic one.” [BuzzFeed]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “In Bukhara, 10,000 Jewish Graves but Just 150 Jews” by Andrew Higgins: “Home to one of the world’s oldest and, in centuries past, biggest Jewish communities, Bukhara — a fabled city of ancient ruins and Islamic architectural treasures in central Uzbekistan — has a Muslim population of more than 270,000 people but, according to most estimates, only 100 to 150 Jews… [Lyuba] Kimatova said there were only four or five families left who kept kosher and followed Jewish traditions. The rest, she said, “do not really live like Jews anymore.” … Until last month, the city had two dueling rabbis who knew the rituals of slaughter, but each was old and very sick, and too feeble to wield a butcher’s knife. The older rabbi has now died, delivering yet another blow to a community with a storied history stretching back millenniums but steadily running out of living members.” [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE TOWN — “Close friend of man killed in Trump Tower fire says President once called victim ‘crazy Jew'” by Esha Ray: “Todd Brassner, a 67-year-old art dealer who lost his life Saturday in the Trump Tower fire, despised building owner Donald Trump, a friend of the victim told the Daily News. The feeling was evidently mutual, with now-President Trump allegedly calling Brassner a “crazy Jew” soon after the art dealer moved into the Fifth Ave. high-rise more than two decades ago.” [NYDailyNews] • Art Collector and Bon Vivant Dies in Trump Tower Home He Couldn’t Sell [NYTimes]
HOLLYWOOD — “Fox adapting Israeli show ‘Nevsu'” by Amy Spiro: “Nevsu, a Reshet comedy that began airing in Israel last year, tells the story of an Israeli man of Ethiopian descent married to an Ashkenazi woman and raising a daughter together along with their extended families… And now, Fox is creating its own version of the show – this time set in Minnesota. The new series, titled Culture Clash, is set to feature an African refugee family, a traditional Midwestern clan and a marriage that joins the two together.”[JPost]
PROFILE: “The Unorthodox Matchmaker” by Marisa Meltzer:“Yocheved Lerner-Miller is a matchmaker for Orthodox Jews who come from unorthodox backgrounds… Even though Ms. Lerner-Miller, 55, lives in Kensington, she jokingly referred to the section of Crown Heights south of Eastern Parkway around Kingston Avenue as her shtetl. Ms. Lerner-Miller has earned a reputation in the community for pairing up oddballs and outliers — words she uses affectionately and with which she identifies.” [NYTimes]
SPORTS BLINK — Warriors waive Omri Casspi to clear playoff roster spot for Quinn Cook: “The Golden State Warriors waived forward Omri Casspi after their loss to New Orleans on Saturday… Sources told ESPN earlier this week that Casspi has inflammation as well as a bone bruise on the side of his right foot that is preventing him from running or jumping… Casspi appeared in 53 games this season, starting seven, averaging 14 minutes of playing time, 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds.” [ESPN]
DESSERT: “Baseball Rules Are Complicated Enough, Now Add Passover” by Gabriel Rubin: “Nearly half of Major League stadiums have special concession stands that serve kosher offerings for most of the season, but the items don’t pass muster during Passover… Before a Mets game that Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov of Munster, Ind., attended with relatives in 2016, he poured kosher for Passover wine into seltzer bottles, wrapped them in towels and stashed them at the bottom of a backpack. The ploy got the goods past security guards…” [WSJ]
“There’s No Seder Like a Showbiz Seder: On the fourth night of Passover, Tony winners and their friends gathered for an a cappella version of “Go Down Moses” and many other surprises” by Katherine Rosman: “Unleavened,” as this night was billed, was organized by Adam Kantor, an actor appearing in “The Band’s Visit”; Benj Pasek, the lyricist of “La La Land,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “The Greatest Showman”; and four other friends… “The idea is to look at the Passover story about the passage from slavery to freedom and to contextualize it for 2018,” Mr. Kantor said… As guests (of many ethnicities and faiths) arrived, they found small round tables, like tree stumps in a pillow forest, on which small dishes of olives, horseradish and parsley were set by stacks of matzo…”
“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do here,” said Katie Couric, when she walked into the room, red wine imported from the Galilee region of Israel in a plastic cup in her hand… The guests settled onto their pillows, and Cécile McLorin Salvant… soon brought chatter to a halt with her rendition of “Go Down Moses,” sung a cappella. Then Amichai Lau-Lavie, the founding rabbi of Lab/Shul… welcomed everyone to the Jewish Passover Seder, which he called, “the most complicated dinner party in history.” [NYTimes]
SPOTTED at a Passover seder hosted by Michael Greenwald at his family’s Brookline, Massachusetts home: Barbara and Michael Greenwald, Marisa Greenwald Kenney, Kerry Healey, Beth, Curt and Mark Myers, Cofer and Suzzane Black, Stephen and Francine Trachtenberg, Meghan O’Sullivan, Daniel Lippman and Alice Lloyd, Michelle Kosinski, Sheika Najla Al-Thani, Sheika Amna Al-Thani, Al-Daana Al-Mulla, Ali Abdullatif AlYahya, Hamad Al-Hajri, Saba Al-Fuhaid, Anna Morris, Robert and Lo Marie Obrien, Jonathan and Jerry Weinberger, Lisa Randall, Paul and Tracy Palandjian, Stefan and Heidi Selig, Farah Pandith. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: President of CNN Worldwide since 2013, Jeff Zucker turns 53… Retired singer-songwriter, satirist, and mathematician, Thomas Andrew “Tom” Lehrer turns 90… Board certified internist in Studio City, California, Lester Garfinkel, MD turns 83… President emeritus of the Duberstein Group, a government relations and lobbying firm in Washington, and a prominent Democratic party activist, Michael S. Berman turns 79… Retired fighter pilot and brigadier general in the Israeli Air Force, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest-ever and longest serving combat pilot, Uri Gil turns 75… EVP of real estate and business development at nationwide homebuilder KB Home, vice-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, previously a partner at Sidley & Austin, Albert Zane Praw turns 70… Rhode Island resident Gail T. Kritz turns 66… Fashion designer for his own world-wide chain of eponymous stores, previously creative director for Louis Vuitton (1997-2014), Marc Jacobs turns 55…
Visual artist, performance artist and co-founder of the arts ensemble Processional Arts Workshop, known for his creation of the large-scale puppet performance works, Alex Kahn turns 51… Attorney, author, political commentator, movie critic and blogger, Debbie Schlussel turns 49… VP at the Marino Organization, a NYC-based strategic communications firm, previously an advisor to New York governors Spitzer and Paterson, Ross M. Wallenstein turns 40… Actress and writer best known as the model for the RGX body spray commercials, Rachel Sarah Specter turns 38… Israeli actress who has appeared in Israeli films, Italian films and US television programs, Moran Atias turns 37… San Francisco-based associate at Bertram Capital, Soraya Hoberman… Figure skater, she competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in pairs skating and a team event, Paige Conners turns 18… Jonathan Bollag… Herbert Levine…
BIRTHWEEK: Television journalist, political director for NBC News and moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, Charles David “Chuck” Toddturned 46… Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and political writer, longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine on national security matters, Seymour Myron “Sy” Hersh turned 81… Russian-born businessman, emigrated to Israel in 1972, appointed in 2005 as President of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities of Russia, Arcadi Aleksandrovich Gaydamak turned 66… New York Associate at UN Watch, Dan Smith… Co-author of Politico’s Playbook and our frequent birthday collaborator, Daniel Lippman turned 28 (on Saturday)…
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Ed Note: Greetings from JI’s Helsinki bureau. Below are some items for Passover — reading material to escape the daily news crush or, at the very least, to get you through the seder. Thank you to the volunteer JI-ers who helped us put this special edition together.
News cycle permitting, the Daily Kickoff will be on break until after Passover. In the meantime, if you’re experiencing any withdrawal, follow us on Twitter.
Pesach/Passover means different things to different people. So, whether you’re thinking about…
…a great story of hope…
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks: “Pesach is the oldest and most transformative story of hope ever told. It tells of how an otherwise undistinguished group of slaves found their way to freedom from the greatest and longest-lived empire of their time, indeed of any time. It tells the revolutionary story of how the supreme Power intervened in history to liberate the supremely powerless. It is a story of the defeat of probability by force of possibility. It defines what it is to be a Jew: a living symbol of hope.” [KorenPublishers]
…or remembering the Exodus from Egypt….
Rabbi Sharon Brous: “Passover is the centerpiece of the Jewish moral imagination and the Jewish collective memory, and so every aspect of Jewish liturgy, of the calendar, of the Jewish experience in the world is in some way rooted in the experience of the Yetziat Mitzrayim, of the Exodus from Egypt.”[PBS]
FOR YOUR LAST MINUTE HAGGADAH PRINTING NEEDS — “15 are the Haggadah commentaries… 8 are the English translations of the Haggadah…. 2 are the versions of the Hebrew Haggadah (Ashkenazi and Edot haMizrach)…. 1 is God (in Heaven and Earth)… and it’s also the one website where all this information lives, for free and for everyone.” [Sefaria]
Jonathan Safran Foer: “In the absence of a stable homeland, Jews have made their home in books, and the Haggadah — whose core is the retelling of the Exodus from Egypt — has been translated more widely, and revised more often, than any other Jewish book. Everywhere Jews have wandered, there have been Haggadot — from the 14th-century Sarajevo Haggadah (which is said to have survived World War II under the floorboards of a mosque, and the siege of Sarajevo in a bank vault), to those made by Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel during Operation Moses.” [NYTimes]
“The Book of Exodus: A double rescue in wartime Sarajevo” by Geraldine Brooks: “Servet [Korkut] remembers very clearly the day her husband came home for lunch with the Haggadah still under his jacket. “I knew he had a book from the library, and that it was very important,” she recalled. “He said, ‘Take care, don’t tell. No one must know or they’ll kill us and destroy the book.’ ” Over the midday meal, he pondered what to do with the Haggadah. That afternoon, he drove out of the city, to Visoko, where one of his sisters lived, on the pretext of visiting her. From there, he took the book to a remote village on nearby Trescavica, where his friend was hodza, or imam, of the small local mosque. There, Servet said, the Haggadah was hidden among Korans and other Islamic texts for the duration of the war. When it was safe, “the hodza brought it back to us, and Dervis returned it to the museum,” she said.” [NewYorker]
…or 280 characters…
JI-er Noam Neusner posts… “If you’re on Twitter and you’re interested in learning more about Passover (which starts on Friday night), this week my dad is posthumously tweeting a ton of insights about Passover and its meaning…His tweets come from his books — I just load up the words on Hootsuite.” [Twitter]
….or intellectual fare….
Civil War Seder: “In the midst of the bloodiest conflict in American history, after a long winter in West Virginia backcountry, this plucky group of Jews improvised a unique version of an ancient tradition, cobbling together the tastes and symbols of Passover under truly unusual circumstances.” [JewishReviewOfBooks]
…or simply what’s on the menu…
Put Some Spring in Your Passover Seder with the Jewish Food Society’s Naama Shefi — “Passover begins at the end of this week, and as is the case with most holidays, old traditions come to mind. In the case of the Seder dinner, you’ve got your brisket, your charoset, your matzo ball soup. “I think about tradition too, for sure,” Naama Shefi, the founder of the Jewish Food Society, told WNYC. “But then I really think about spring. Growing up in Israel, for me, Passover equals spring. I think about the first artichokes of the season, and fava beans, and peas. That’s my starting point.” And when it comes to “traditional” food among the Jewish diaspora, there’s no one single source. “It’s important to remember that the Jewish people lived for thousands of years all around the world,” Shefi said, “They created their own cuisines that were the result of a constant negotiation between the local food traditions, their kashrut rules, and special foods for the holiday.” For this year’s Seder, Shefi’s table will feature Turkish stuffed onions and tomatoes, steamed artichokes with lemon, chopped liver, and a matzo ball soup with a Mexican twist.” [WNYC]
…we wish you a happy and healthy Passover — Chag Kasher V’Sameach!
And now the news…
TRUMP TUMULT — “Trump ousts Veterans Affairs chief Shulkin, nominates personal physician to replace him” by Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Josh Dawsey and Lisa Rein: “President Trump on Wednesday ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin after turmoil in the agency’s senior ranks generated weeks of unflattering headlines… The president announced the move on Twitter… [John] Kelly called Shulkin Wednesdayafternoon and told him he was losing his job, a White House official said. “It was just a courtesy. Thanks for your service,” this person said, describing the call… Shulkin’s biggest weakness [Phillip] Carter said, was that he didn’t connect with the president’s allies. “That was always festering beneath the surface — he was an Obama holdover,” Carter said.” [WashPost]
— Shulkin writes in the New York Times… “As many of you know, I am a physician, not a politician. I came to government with an understanding that Washington can be ugly, but I assumed that I could avoid all of the ugliness by staying true to my values. I have been falsely accused of things by people who wanted me out of the way. But despite these politically-based attacks on me and my family’s character, I am proud of my record and know that I acted with the utmost integrity. Unfortunately, none of that mattered. As I prepare to leave government, I am struck by a recurring thought: It should not be this hard to serve your country.” [NYTimes]
TOP TALKER — “Shake-Up Remakes Kushner’s Role” by Peter Nicholas and Felicia Schwartz: “The nomination of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and the appointment of John Bolton as national security adviser could also curb Mr. Kushner’s sway if foreign diplomats, who have been courting the president’s son-in-law as an alternative to Mr. Tillerson, turn more to the traditional U.S. diplomatic machinery… In talking with friends, Mr. Kushner has joked about the Middle East views of Mr. Bolton… The “Orthodox Jews” working toward a Middle East peace deal… are now looking like “the moderates,” Mr. Kushner has told people.”
“Coming off the latest White House shake-up, Mr. Kushner is engaging in diplomacy of a more personal sort as he and Messrs. Bolton and Pompeo carve out their respective roles… Mr. Kushner has made clear he wants to work collaboratively with Mr. Pompeo… Mr. Kushner has a longer history with Mr. Bolton, having dealt with the incoming national security adviser during the campaign. When Mr. Bolton visited the White House, he often stopped in to see Mr. Kushner. Over the past year, Mr. Kushner has called Mr. Bolton for advice, including about the operations of the United Nations.” [WSJ]
REGIME CHANGE OR MAYBE SAUDI-LED DEAL? — “U.S. ambassador to Israel: If Abbas won’t negotiate, someone else will” by Barak Ravid: “David Friedman made his comments in an interview with… a newspaper called “Shviee” which is distributed in synagogues in Israel… “Time doesn’t stand still…and if he is not interested is negotiating – I am sure somebody else will. Vacuums tend to be filled. If [Mahmoud Abbas] creates a vacuum I am sure somebody will fill it. And we will move forward (on the peace process). The U.S. wants to help the Palestinian people – if the leadership is not on the same page then so be it, but we will not abandon the desire to improve the life of Palestinians.”
“In the interview Friedman spoke about Abbas’s latest speech, in which he called the U.S. ambassador a “son of a dog.” Friedman said he was not insulted personally by the derogatory remark. He added: “He did a disservice to his people…those types of comments are very undiplomatic and make it more difficult for the U.S. to have serious conversations about serious issues. Calling me names is not going to improve the situation of the Palestinians.”” [Axios]
Former Ambassador Martin Indyk tweets: “So now it’s regime change time in Palestine? Great way to promote peace!”
SIGHTING: Trump’s Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt walking yesterday at 6th Avenue and 57th Street in NYC. Worth noting: Saudi Crown Prince MBS had been staying in the neighborhood.
LOOMING — “Israel warns it may use lethal fire on Gaza border protests” by Laurent Lozano and Adel Zaanoun: “Israel has warned that its soldiers could use live fire if Gaza Palestinians try to breach the border with Israel during a mass rally planned for Friday… It is expected to kick off more than six weeks of protests throughout the Palestinian territories leading up to the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem around May 14. Israeli armed forces chief Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot said… reinforcements, including more than 100 special forces snipers, had been deployed to the border and the army was prepared for all scenarios… “The instructions are to use a lot of force,” he said.” [AFP]
PROFILE — “‘Tibi, Not Bibi’: The Palestinian Who Stood up to Pence on Why He Could Be the Region’s Next Leader” by Jack Moore: “As the election of President Donald Trump and the policies of a right-wing Israeli coalition government render a two-state solution more distant than ever, Ahmad Tibi believes the region’s next leader could an Arab lawmaker. In one word, him. “Tibi will be the prime minister, not Bibi. From the sea to the river, we are more. It’s a nightmare for the Israelis,” he said… In a one-state solution, the deputy speaker of the Knesset is confident that he would win enough votes if that state held equal rights for Arabs and Jews, and a one-person, one-vote system. But Israel will prevent this outcome, he predicted… “I really support the vision of a two-state solution. But both Netanyahu and Trump killed it,” he said.” [Newsweek]
TURTLE BAY — Germany denies deal to give Israel UN council seat: “Pro-Israel activists in the United States have accused Berlin of not honoring an agreement struck almost 20 years ago… to let Israel run uncontested for one of the non-permanent seats reserved for the [WEOG] regional group, but Germany denies that such a pledge was made. “It’s always been the case in the past that there are different candidacies,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told journalists in New York… “We do not run against anyone. We are running for a seat at the Security Council.” Israel, Germany and Belgium are vying for the two seats reserved for the regional group… on June 8.” [YahooNews]
IRAN DEAL TALKS — “European powers press for Iran sanctions to buttress nuclear deal” by Robin Emmott and John Irish: “The new measures proposed by London, Paris and Berlin were discussed by the EU’s 28 ambassadors and could include members of Iran’s most powerful security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)… In Brussels at the closed-door meeting, the three pushed for agreement on possible travel bans and asset freezes before a foreign ministers’ meeting next month… Diplomats pointed to the next EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on April 16, the last formal gathering on the EU agenda before Trump’s May deadline… But another diplomat said: “It will be complicated because this will need time to convince the member states.”” [Reuters]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon at a United Nations Security Council meeting on peacekeeping: “To the permanent members of this Council I have a simple message: do not miss this opportunity. In 45 days the clock will run out and the rules of the game will change. You now have a choice to make. Either choose to work with the Americans and support their genuine efforts to make the Middle East a safer place — or choose Iran and enable a dangerous regime. I urge you to make the right choice.”
“Does Israel need France more than France needs Israel?” by Rina Bassist: “Netanyahu is heavily invested in Trump, but this does not mean that he will neglect the rest of the world, especially Europe. He knows that if there is one European leader that Trump likes, it’s French President Emmanuel Macron. He also knows that if Trump’s Middle East peace plan fails, the European Union is likely to step in… European foreign policy is being championed and shaped by the pro-EU Macron, especially on the Iranian file. Both Jerusalem and Washington share this assessment of Macron, although he has so far failed to change Trump’s mind on Iran.”
“Given this, the cross-cultural Israel-France Season might offer Netanyahu a golden opportunity. He has already confirmed his attendance at one of the main events at the Grand Palais in Paris in June. Associates of the prime minister say that the international timetable works in his favor. If indeed Trump nixes the Iran deal in May, then Netanyahu will arrive in Paris as a winner… For the moment, Netanyahu is trying to channel dialogue toward what unites Israel and Europe, instead of what divides them.” [Al-Monitor]
STATESIDE — New law lets Mississippi invest in bonds issued by Israel: “A new Mississippi law will allow the state treasury to invest up to $20 million in bonds issued by Israel. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has traveled to Israel several times, signed Senate Bill 2051 Tuesday. The law takes effect July 1. It will authorize Mississippi to use excess general funds to invest in Israeli bonds. Investments must be made in U.S. currency.” [AP]
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START UP NATION: “A Big Chunk of Israel’s Tech Scene is Actually Based in New York” by Gerrit De Vynck: “More than 350 startups with Israeli founders have set up shop in New York, up from 60 five years ago, says Guy Franklin, general manager of SOSA NYC, a local tech hub for his countrymen and who has cataloged the phenomenon. Three of the five biggest funding rounds in New York last year were for companies run by Israelis or Israeli-Americans: co-working business WeWork, real estate app Compass and ride-sharing company Via.”
“Israelis are going to the next level,” says Erel Margalit, founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners and one of Israel’s best-known venture capitalists. “They’re second- or third-time entrepreneurs, they’ve now moved to the U.S. — primarily to New York — in order to engage with the businesses.” … New York is… a natural fit for Israelis because it has long had strong business and cultural ties to Israel, with thousands of Israelis living in the city and the largest Jewish community in the U.S. “The Israeli community is a close and tight community where everyone is helping everyone,” Franklin says.” [Bloomberg]
SPOTLIGHT: “Executive Who Sold Self-Driving Truck Start-Up to Uber Departs” by Daisuke Wakabayashi:”Lior Ron — who along with Anthony Levandowski sold Otto to Uber in 2016, six months after leaving Google — was in charge of Uber Freight, a truck shipment booking service. Most of Uber Freight’s business does not involve the company’s autonomous trucks. The departure followed a fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Ariz. An Uber spokesman, Matt Kallman, said the departure was unrelated to the crash in Tempe, but he would not elaborate on why Mr. Ron had left or the timing of his exit.” [NYTimes]
–Watch Lior Ron interview Omri Casspi at ICON’s launch event in San Francisco [Video]
BUBBE’S INFLUENCE: “Slack is developing tools to tell if you treat men and women differently” by Leah Fessler: “CEO Stewart Butterfield indicated that Slack was beginning to address concerns, by developing tools to analyze communication trends on its platform, at the Wharton People Analytics Conference in Philadelphia on March 23. In response to a question from Wharton management professor Mae McDonnell on whether Butterfield ever worries that private Slack chat “channels” can reinforce exclusion, CEO also joked, “I worry about everything. I have a Jewish grandmother.” [Quartz]
Mayim Bialik writes… “Confronting politics and finding meaning on my trip to Israel: I spoke at the 6th Global Forum on Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem last week. I was invited by the Consul General of Los Angeles, Sam Grundwerg… I was asked to meet with President Trump’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and I was nervous about it since I do not understand many of his positions. I politely gave him a piece of my liberal mind about his boss, suggesting that the President would have fewer problems with the “liberal media” if he would simply stop tweeting insults to actors and countries with nuclear weapons capabilities. Even though Friedman stood by his political leanings and I stood by mine, it was a respectful, if colorful, conversation. Politics is indeed part of the problem, but I decided to find a way to speak about my experience with anti-Semitism without making it about who I voted for. And I am glad I did: leaving politics aside – I hoped – we could all focus on where we are united…” [GrokNation]
ACROSS THE POND — Jeremy Corbyn admits hundreds of anti-Semitism cases referred in Labour since 2015: “In an interview with the Jewish News, Mr. Corbyn said action was being taken to crack down on the issue, adding that 150 people have been expelled or have resigned from the party. There are 74 cases still pending, which Mr. Corbyn said must be dealt with “as quickly as possible.” … Mr. Corbyn has insisted anti-Semitism will be the “first priority” of the Labour’s new General Secretary, adding that a legal team would be appointed to ensure there is a “proper approach”. “Any abuse that’s done is certainly not in my name,” he said.” [SkyNews]
Bret Stephens writes… “Jeremy Corbyn, Accidental Anti-Semite: Corbyn is now urgently seeking meetings with Jewish leaders while saying he is “sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.” Note the passive voice. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic incidents in Britain hit a record high last year. Corbyn’s rise may not be the cause of it, but it’s unmistakably a symptom. Countries that care about the safety of Jews don’t elevate leaders who have spent their careers being dismissive of it.” [NYTimes]
HOLLYWOOD — “Harvey Keitel to Star in Pavel Lungin’s ‘Esau,’ Modern Retelling of Biblical Story” by Debra Kamin: “Harvey Keitel, Lior Ashkenazi (“Foxtrot”) and Mark Ivanir (“Homeland”) will headline “Esau,” the first English-language film from acclaimed Russian-French director Pavel Lungin. “Esau,” which is being adapted from the novel of the same name by Israeli author Meir Shalev, follows a 40-year-old writer who returns to his family home after half a lifetime to face the brother who stole both his love and livelihood. The story is a modern twist on the biblical story of Jacob and Esau in the book of Genesis… Other cast members are Yulia Peresild (“Battle for Sevastopol”), Kseniya Rappoport (“The Unknown Woman”), and Shira Haas (“Princess”, “Foxtrot”). A cameo from Israeli theatrical grand dame Gila Almagor has also been announced.” [Variety]
“Scarlett Johansson to Star in Taika Waititi’s ‘Jojo Rabbit’ for Fox Searchlight” by Justin Kroll: “Scarlett Johansson is in final negotiations to star in Fox Searchlight’s World War II film “Jojo Rabbit,” sources tell Variety. The project is Taika Waititi’s follow-up to “Thor: Ragnarok,” and centers on a young boy in Hitler’s army who finds out that his mother, to be played by Johansson, is hiding a Jewish boy in their home… With Johansson now on board, Waititi will now look to cast the young boy role.” [Variety]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Steven Spielberg in an interview with Israel’s Hadashot News on Israel’s 70 anniversary: “You are only as old as you feel, and I think Israel – because of its youth – is a young and vital country and probably doesn’t feel a day over 20.” – Min. 46 [Mako]
REMEMBERING — “Johan van Hulst, Dutch schoolteacher who saved hundreds of Jewish children during Holocaust, dies at 107” by Ellie Silverman: “Dr. van Hulst, who was credited with saving more than 600 Jewish babies and children during World War II and, in 1972, was named Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem, died March 22 in Amsterdam…” [WashPost]
DESSERT — “Rosenberg’s Bagels cuts hours at kosher store” by Aaron Kremer: “Denver bagel chain Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen is trimming the hours at one of its three locations.Owner Joshua Pollack, a New Jersey native and CU grad who founded the business in Five Points in 2014, said he can’t find enough employees who show up to work, so he’s paring back… Pollack said… customers accustomed to the other two locations would be surprised to find a different menu at the kosher location. He said every day customers tried to order a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. “We’d have to spend time explaining what kosher meant,” he said.” [BusinessDen]
CHAMETZ SOLD – Zak the Baker: “I no longer own Zak The Baker! Just sold it to Rémi for the week of Passover. Bakery will be closed from March 30th until April 7th. Back in action on the 8th, until then, TRADITION.”[Instagram]
“3 kosher cocktail recipes to enjoy during the holidays” by Emily DeCiccio: “Heading over to a Passover Seder? Manischewitz is likely to be ubiquitous, but it’s not the only type of beverage you can bring to or imbibe with your hosts. Master bartender Kenneth McCoy, the creative director of Public House Collective in New York City, delivers some kosher mixed drink options to impress everyone at the celebration…” [FoxNews]
Wine company says kosher wines are not just for Jewish events: “Kosher wines once had a reputation for being sweet and syrupy, but Royal Wine vice president Jay Buschbaum says that this is no longer the case. The company produces its own wines and grape juice under the Kedem brand and distributes hundreds of kosher wines from around the world. “The objective is first that they be great wines and that just happen to be kosher,” Buschbaum says… “We guesstimate about 5 to 10 percent of people who are drinking this are kosher consumers,” he says. “They are drinking it just because they like it.” [NJNews12]
PASSOVER WINE PICKS — by Yitz Applbaum: “I find it impossible to limit myself to just the four required cups of wine for Seder night. To celebrate the four-cup tradition, I find myself choosing good wines which are more easily semi-gulped, and then for the meal itself, I reward myself and my family with four exceptional bottles to celebrate our being freed from slavery. The four bottles used in obligatory rite are, of course, themselves wonderful wines. Their cost, though, are slight easier to absorb than the dinner cups. The four freedom-cups enhance the latter half of the Seder, which, by cup six, glides by.
First dinner cup: Hevron Heights Armageddon. This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Syrah. This wine is aged 24 months in French oak barrels and one can taste blackberry skins and jam-y currents.
Second dinner cup: Black Tulip 2014. This brilliant wine is so differently experienced by different people, that I will leave it to the reader to discover her own unique tastes. [Tulip]
Third cup: Lueria Grand Vital 2014. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, this wine lets your palate rest in between two massive wine experiences. The subtle Bordeaux flavors give one’s palate a moment while brightening up the meal, along with a mixture of licorice and cinnamon.[LueriaWinery]
Last dinner cup: Flam Noble 2013. I drank this Cabernet-monster last night in Jerusalem. It is a wine which will stay in my taste-memory for a long time. The swirling raspberry sorbet mixed with deep pools of chocolate stay resident in one’s mouth for hours.” [FlamWinery]
BIRTHDAYS: Hollywood mogul, co-CEO of entertainment and media agency William Morris Endeavor, Ariel Zev “Ari” Emanuel turns 57… Evolutionary biologist, geneticist, academic and social commentator, professor of zoology and biology at Harvard for many years, Richard Lewontin turns 89… Florida plaintiff’s attorney, he earned a $300 million fee for suing the tobacco industry, the University of Florida law school bears his name, Fred Levin turns 81… Chemist, professor at both Hebrew University and UCLA, winner of the 1974 Israel Prize, Raphael David Levine turns 80… Attorney, NYT best-selling author, sports agent for many athletes including Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Kirby Puckett and Eddie Murray, Ronald M. Shapiro turns 75… Houston-based labor law, employment law and personal injury attorney, active in Jewish organizations, Carol Nelkin turns 73…
Orthopedic surgeon, former professional boxer, entrepreneur, author, speaker, screenplay writer, movie producer and philanthropist, Harold “Hackie” Stuart Reitman, MD turns 68… Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for economics, University of Chicago professor Roger Myerson turns 67… Billionaire investor, computer scientist and founder of D. E. Shaw & Co., a hedge fund based upon high-speed quantitative trading, David Elliot Shawturns 67… Chairman of consulting firm Roubini Global Economics and professor at NYU, he was a senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration, Nouriel Roubini turns 60… pro-Israel activist JoAnne Papir... National Press Secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, David A. Bergstein turns 30… Analyst at Aurora Energy Advisors, he was the student commencement speaker at his 2013 George Washington University graduation, Alexander Zafran turns 27… Senior administrative assistant in Christie’s impressionist and modern art group, Annie Rosen… Adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute in the program on Arab politics, former special assistant to President Obama, Eric Pelofsky… Born in Atlanta, raised in Johannesburg, now VP of business development at Crowdpac, Liz Jaff…
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TOP TALKER: “Sheldon Adelson Facilitated EPA Connection for Israeli Firm” by Timothy Puko: “The Environmental Protection Agency has signed a deal to test technology from an Israeli company whose executives were twice granted access to EPA chief Scott Pruitt at the request of Republican Party donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. The EPA agreed to test a water-purification system developed by Water-Gen Ltd. , an Israeli technology company whose board includes Harvard legal scholar and television pundit Alan Dershowitz.”
“Adelson declined to comment. But a person close to Mr. Adelson said that while he has no financial interest in Water-Gen, he has been impressed with its work… Professor Dershowitz reportedly demonstrated Water-Gen’s technology on stage at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington last year. And the company’s website touts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bragging about the technology at the same event this year. It “improves on Moses,” Mr. Netanyahu said in video posted by the company. “He brought water from a rock. They bring water from thin air.” [WSJ]
— Josh Dawsey tweets: A great WSJ correction: “An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Benjamin Netanyahu said Moses brought water from Iraq. He said the water was brought from a rock.”
MBS ROAD SHOW: “Mohammad bin Salman US visit: Leaked itinerary shows Saudi crown prince to meet Oprah, politicians and media bosses” by Bethan McKernan: “On Tuesday alone in New York City, MBS is believed to have met with ex secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and Michael Bloomberg. Other notable media meetings include dinner with The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, Rupert Murdoch, Jeffrey Goldberg.”
“He is also meeting past luminaries such as Barack Obama, John Kerry, General David Petraeus and Condoleezza Rice, as well as paying a visit to George W Bush’s Texas ranch. Other notable meets outside of politics include Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook of Apple and the CEOs of Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Uber, the Walt Disney Company and Lockheed Martin.” [TheIndependent]
–As we exclusively reported yesterday, MBS also met with Jewish leaders including the heads of AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, the Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL, AJC and B’nai B’rith.
HEARD AT SAUDI-US CEO FORUM: “Dina Powell: Trump found “partner” in Saudi crown prince during 2017 meeting” by Joyce Karam: “Ms Powell, speaking on Tuesday at the Saudi-US CEO Forum 2018 in New York, recounted the early thaw between Washington and Riyadh. When Mr Trump was elected in November of 2016, one of his first priorities was to tackle the terrorist threat and “we had to engage quickly and meaningfully in the region”, she said. Prince Mohammed, then deputy crown prince, “reached out [to the US administration] and built strong relations with Jared [Kushner] and others”, with both sides pushing ahead on what could be achieved, Ms Powell said.” [TheNational]
BIG DEAL — “Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Plan World’s Largest Solar Project” by Vivian Nereim and Stephen Cunningham: “Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding to build a $200 billion solar power development that’s exponentially larger than any other project. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, known for backing ambitious endeavors with flair, unveiled the project Tuesday in New York at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman…. Saudi Arabia also plans to build at least 16 nuclear reactors over the next 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion.” [Bloomberg]
SPOTTED: Saudi Crown Prince MBS, Mike Bloomberg and Josh Steiner at Starbucks in NYC [Pic] h/t Sheekey Daily Read
— What they were discussing: “Misk Foundation Partners with Bloomberg to Advance Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 with Major Investments in Financial Training and Global Market Capabilities” [PressRelease]
“Saudi Crown Prince, on U.S. Visit, Urges Tough Line on Iran” by Ben Hubbard: “Delaying it and watching them getting that bomb, that means you are waiting for the bullet to reach your head,” Prince Mohammed… said Monday during his first meeting with editors and reporters from The New York Times… He said that the current nuclear agreement should be replaced with one that would ensure that Iran never obtained a nuclear weapon while also addressing Iran’s other activities in the Middle East.” [NYTimes]
“John Kerry warns against leaving the Iran deal” by Carol Morello: “Speaking to the World Affairs Council at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia, Kerry… called it the “strictest, most transparent, most accountable arms control agreement on the planet today.” “If we pull back from what they have done, it will be 30 years before another president will ever sit down with Iranians to negotiate,” said Kerry… Kerry suggested Iran would likely take immediate steps to enrich more uranium and other actions now prohibited… “Why would anyone want to leap ahead 15 years, and make it happen now?” Kerry asked.” [WashPost]
Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz writes… “On Iran and North Korea: Don’t trust, and verify, verify, verify: If Trump withdraws the United States from the agreement, with Iran complying and with our allies clearly committed to its continuation, he will have compromised the most stringent nuclear verification standard ever achieved, with no credible prospect for restoring or improving it. Such a move would… undercut vital arguments for verification of any agreement reached with North Korea.” [BostonGlobe]
“Iran’s Facing a Mutiny From Within the Mosque” by Geneive Abdo: “The controversy over the detention of Ayatollah Hussein Shirazi this month is reigniting an important debate over whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should be able to claim divine sanction for his unlimited powers to rule the state… The younger Shirazi reportedly called the supreme leader “the pharaoh” during one of his recent lectures, providing the pretext for his arrest…” [BloombergView]
INSIDE THE ADMIN — “Can Jim Mattis Hold the Line in Trump’s ‘War Cabinet’?” by Robert F. Worth: “On April 19 last year, I joined Mattis on a weeklong tour of the Middle East and North Africa… The Saudis welcomed Mattis like a long-lost brother, thrilled to meet an American leader who shared their feelings about Iran. Their dislike of Obama and his diplomatic rapprochement with Tehran was no secret, but it was amazing to see how openly and eagerly they were embracing the new administration. Mattis did not disappoint…”
“The following night, I visited a Saudi I’ve known for years who was briefed on Mattis’s closed-door sessions with King Salman and his advisers. My friend seemed beside himself with pleasure and poured me a glass of white wine as he praised Mattis. “He said, ‘As long as the mullahs are ruling Iran, there will be no stability in the Middle East,’ ” he said, grinning broadly and seeming to nourish hopes that this was some sort of code for a looming carpet-bombing of Tehran.”” [NYTimesMag]
“Don’t Blow Up The Iran Deal. Trump’s Strategy Is Working” by Eli Lake: “While discarding the Iran deal now would be a mistake, Trump does deserve credit for throwing its future into doubt. We all know the drill. Every six months Trump is required to waive the secondary oil and bank sanctions the agreement lifted… And every six months, he has hemmed, hawed and threatened not to do it… Some critics might say that Trump has to follow through on his promise or he will lose credibility. He can just as easily delay his decision, point to the European negotiations, and follow through on his own promised plan to ramp up non-nuclear sanctions on Iranian entities.” [BloombergView]
“John Bolton Told Israel: ‘Condi Rice Sold You Out,’ Ex-Official Says” by Noga Tarnopolsky: “Dan Gillerman served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN in 2006 when Bolton was U.S. ambassador and told The Daily Beast that “in more than one case, Ambassador Bolton called me and alerted me to the fact that his mission—the United States mission to the UN—was about to vote against Israel and asked that I alert the prime minister, who at that time was Ehud Olmert.” Gillerman added, “In more than one case the prime minister called the president, who was then George W. Bush, and got him to overrule the State Department.”
“The “most striking” example came in August 2006 when the UN Security Council was considering Resolution 1701, with the purpose of ending a month-long war between Israel and the Islamist militant group Hezbollah… “In that case John Bolton got in touch with me at about 8 o’clock in the evening, which was 3 in the morning in Israel, calling to say ‘You have to call your prime minister and tell him that Condi Rice sold you out to the French.’” [DailyBeast]
TRUMP TUMULT: “‘He knows he is done’: Veterans Affairs chief lies low amid rumors he’ll be ousted” by Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux: “Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has lived in presidential purgatory for weeks… “I think he wakes up every day wondering if this is the day he’s going to get fired,” said one Shulkin ally… “He knows he is done,” although the uncertainty “is wearing on him, there is no doubt about that.” Despite rumors of his ouster, Shulkin… has kept a busy schedule… Shulkin, say people close to him, is under no illusions that he still has the president’s confidence. He has long feared that Trump will mete out the same fate on Twitter as some of his former colleagues have. To that end, the secretary is laying low.” [WashPost] • Famous for ‘You’re Fired,’ Trump Offers V.A. Chief Silence [NYTimes]
THE DAILY KUSHNER — “White House denies probe into loans to Kushner company” by Stephen Braun: “Even as White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders firmly denied any formal investigation into [Jared] Kushner, she acknowledged that the White House Counsel’s office often plays a role in checking whether ethics guidelines have been met by administration officials. “While the White House Counsel’s office does follow-up with staff to assist with compliance with various ethics standards, it is not probing whether Kushner violated the law,” Sanders said.” [AP]
SCENE YESTERDAY — President Trump hosted a delegation of Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis in the Oval Office to sign a proclamation marking March 27, 2018 as Education and Sharing Day, in honor of the 116th birthday of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Levi Shemtov gave the President a silver menorah and a leather-bound Passover
PIC OF THE DAY — Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt hosted a group of students from Yeshivat HaKotel at the White House last night. [Pic]
Countering TV report, White House says Trump ‘undecided’ on Jerusalem visit: “US President Donald Trump has not yet decided if he will travel to Israel in May, when the US opens its new embassy in Jerusalem… the White House said Tuesday. The comment followed an Israeli TV report based on Israeli sources that said Trump had ruled out visiting Israel for the opening. Asked to confirm the Hadashot TV news outlet report, White House spokesman Michael Anton told The Times of Israel the matter was “not decided.” [ToI; Mako]
VIRAL — “Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu has mild viral illness, hospital tests show” by Amir Tal and Ingrid Formanek: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was taken to a hospital on Tuesday where he was diagnosed with a mild viral illness of the upper respiratory system… Netanyahu, 68, was released early Wednesday after a series of exams… “Thank you all for worrying. I’m on my way home,” he tweeted… “I’m sure a little rest and a hot soup will sort things. Goodnight.” … The Prime Minister’s personal physician, Dr. Tzvi Herman Berkovich, thinks Netanyahu did not complete the period of rest needed for full recuperation since his illness two weeks ago, and his symptoms worsened.” [CNN]
HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Ambassador Ron Dermer delivered the keynote for Westminster’s Churchill Fellows Weekend at Westminster College on Sunday: “Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. has a connection to Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech, famously delivered in Fulton. “He wrote it while he was on vacation in Miami Beach, Florida, which is where I was born and raised,” Ambassador Ron Dermer said… “Winston Churchill was a faithful friend of Jews,” Dermer said. Specifically, Churchill was a lifelong, strong supporter of the formation of a Jewish state, he explained… “Churchill would be proud of the remarkable state we have accomplished,” Dermer added… Today, his picture stands behind the desk of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” [FultonSun; Video]
INTERVIEW — Outgoing Jewish Agency Chief Natan Sharansky disagrees with Ron Lauder — by Judy Maltz: “In a farewell interview with Haaretz, Sharansky was asked whether he shared the concerns voiced by World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder… Lauder’s problem, according to Sharansky, is that he doesn’t understand it takes two to tango when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The way he puts it, if Israel wanted to have a two-state solution, they would have it,” Sharansky says.” As if the solution were entirely in our hands and there wasn’t another side to this.”
“On the issue of religious extremism… he argues, Lauder is wrong to claim that the problems all began with the current government. “I know it’s very easy to blame Bibi for everything, but this is something that began back with [David] Ben-Gurion and the Labor Party,” he says… “Often, when I’ve had arguments with Bibi, he asks me whether I think things would be different under a Labor coalition,” Sharansky says. “‘Look at history,’ he tells me. And you know what? Unfortunately, history is on his side.” [Haaretz]
PRISON REFORM BY BALLOT — What If Prosecutors Wanted to Keep People Out of Prison?” by Nick Tabor: “For almost three decades, George Soros has been quietly funding efforts to end the drug war and reduce the inmate population. Throughout the ’90s and 2000s, he was behind almost every state ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and has given millions in grants for liberal legal scholarship. It was [Scott] Colom’s luck that in 2015 he’d adopted a new strategy: backing progressives in local elections, specifically DAs, who every day make decisions about whom to charge, with how serious of a crime; whether to engage in plea negotiations; how much prison time, if any, to recommend… Soros got interested in the power of district attorneys in the aftermath of the deaths of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray… While opponents of the Soros spending, which has reached roughly $10 million, say it interferes with the local democratic process, it’s getting the kind of results he… hoped for.” [NYMag]
“Virginia GOP dumps leader who claimed only Christians are fit to run for office” by Antonio Olivo: “Fredy Burgos… was voted off the State Central Committee over the weekend, a state party spokesman said Monday… Burgos faced a backlash last month from party leaders when he posted a Facebook comment saying that only Christians are fit to run for office. The comment was viewed as anti-Semitic because Burgos had been campaigning for Tim Hannigan in his successful bid over Mike Ginsberg, who is Jewish, to become the party’s committee chair in Fairfax County.” [WashPost]
2018 WATCH — “Mitt Romney Is Not Joining the Resistance” by McKay Coppins: “As a senator from Utah, the 71-year-old Romney will likely have an extremely safe seat from which he is free—perhaps for the first time in his political career—to be unabashedly who he is, without any serious threat of electoral blowback. That could lead him to hold the president accountable in ways that other Capitol Hill Republicans have shied away from… But those expecting him to take up the fight against the more traditionally conservative elements of Trump’s agenda will be disappointed.” [TheAtlantic]
“Obama will appear at McCaskill fundraiser in Beverly Hills” by David Siders: “Former President Barack Obama will appear at a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in May… a sign Obama is edging into the midterm elections. Obama is listed as a special guest at the May 6fundraiser hosted by the actress Katie McGrath, film studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and others Los Angeles-area heavyweights.” [Politico]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Josh Kushner’s healthcare startup is now worth $3.2 billion [Axios] • Uri Levine: I Co-Founded Waze And I’m No Longer Going To Own A Car [Forbes] • VC Firm Linked With Roman Abramovich Backs Israeli Real Estate Startup RealX [Calcalist] • El Al Sues Israel After Air India Flies Through Saudi Airspace [NYTimes]
SPOTLIGHT — “A New Film Studio From the Moguls Behind Justin Bieber and Marvel” by Joe Coscarelli: “For the powerful music manager Scooter Braun, there were a few mythic figures who proved influential in his formative years… “I read a book about my mentor David Geffen when I was 19, and he said music was the fastest way in because a song could change your life in a night while film and TV takes years,” Mr. Braun, 36, said recently at his casual home office. “I actually always wanted to be in film.” … For his next Geffen-esque act, he is leaping more fully into film, partnering with David Maisel, the founding chairman of Marvel Studios, to form a new company, Mythos Studios, which aspires to make its own hit comic-book movie franchises in live-action and animated formats.” [NYTimes]
“Robert Mercer’s Secret Adventure as a New Mexico Cop” by Zachary Mider: “For most of the past six years, as Mercer became one of the country’s political kingmakers, he was also periodically policing Lake Arthur, according to the department… The story of his adventures in Lake Arthur, which hasn’t been previously reported… shows just how far a man of means will go to get something he can’t buy: the right to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in America… In 2012 several of Mercer’s associates had set up a nonprofit in Georgia blandly named the Law Enforcement Education Organization. Among the founders were Mercer’s son-in-law George Wells and Wells’s longtime friend Peter Pukish—both of whom were also Lake Arthur volunteers… In 2016, Centre acquired South Carolina’s PTR Industries Inc., the maker of a civilian version of a Cold War-era German battle rifle called the G3… Mercer didn’t get into the gun business to get rich; the Bloomberg Billionaires Index values his wealth at almost $1 billion. But his family seems to be having fun. They’ve shown off their guns to political allies, taking them to a vault deep under the streets of Manhattan or to the warehouse near Las Vegas and pointing out some of the more remarkable weapons.” [Bloomberg]
“Facebook’s Zuckerberg Said to Agree to Testify Before Congress Over Data Privacy” by Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel: “[Mark Zuckerberg] has agreed to testify in at least one congressional hearing over the social network’s handling of customer data… Specifically, he plans to appear next month before the House Energy and Commerce Committee… Mr. Zuckerberg may make other appearances; he has also been asked to testify before the Senate and House Judiciary and Commerce Committees.” [NYTimes]
PREMIERING TODAY — “‘Alex, Inc.’ is a sitcom about a podcast about a podcast company. How did that get on TV?” by Sonia Rao: “Zach Braff plays a fictionalized version of [Alex] Blumberg in the series, which premieres Wednesday night. Just as Blumberg left his gigs as a “This American Life” producer and “Planet Money” co-founder behind, Alex Schuman quits his unspecified radio job in order to found his own company.” [WashPost]
HOLLYWOOD — “Steven Spielberg nixes Carl’s Jr.’s ‘SpielBurgers’ dreams” by Sandra Gonzalez: “Since Sunday, the restaurant chain [Carl’s Jr.] has been touting a rebranded version of its charbroiled sliders called “Spielburgers,” in honor of director Steven Spielberg and his new film, “Ready Player One.” … On Tuesday, Spielberg dashed the fast food company’s “SpielBurger’ dreams in a video posted to the Twitter account for his production company, Amblin Entertainment. “They’re pretty good but I’m passing. Cease and desist. Can’t do it,” Spielberg said in the video. “Sorry, guys.” … On Tuesday, a representative for Carl’s Jr. acknowledged in a statement to THR that the “social stunt” was an attempt to “get the attention of Spielberg and his team to celebrate the launch of Ready Player One.”” [CNN; HollywoodReporter]
TALK OF THIS TOWN — “Bagels, lox and apologies at breakfast to discuss D.C. lawmaker’s anti-Semitic comments” by Fenit Nirappil: “After claiming a Jewish banking dynasty controls the climate and federal government, D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr.’s path to atonement included a bagels-and-lox breakfast with fellow lawmakers and local Jewish community leaders. The Tuesday morning meal — catered by a kosher supermarket and served in a D.C. government building — turned into a chance to air grievances and begin healing… Lawmakers and Jewish leaders at the breakfast made clear they were content with his attempt to make amends.” [WashPost]
TALK OF THE NATION — “A new epithet emerges for Parkland teens calling for more gun control: Nazis” by Eli Rosenberg: “Memes comparing the Parkland students to Nazis have circulated at the fringes for days, but on Tuesday seemed to find a wider audience. Alex Jones, the conservative host of Infowars known for spreading baseless conspiracy theories, depicted two of the most prominent students, Emma González and David Hogg, in a jarring video that spliced images and videos of them into what appeared to be Nazi footage.” [WashPost]
“What Farrakhan Shares With the Intersectional Left” by Chloe Valdary: “Intersectional theory and Farrakhan’s message have a lot in common: They both promote the idea that life’s meaning can be found by dividing people into a hierarchy of virtue where those with histories of oppression have supreme value over those who belong to communities who have engaged in oppression historically. Unpacking this toxic doctrine and offering an alternative is necessary for fostering better relationships between communities involved in coalition-building in progressive spaces, both on the street and in the classroom.” [Tablet]
COMING SOON — David Litt, a former Obama speechwriter and author of “Thanks, Obama,” has announced a new book called ‘Parties on the Fault Line: Adventures in a Troubled Democracy — and Why Fixing it is Easier Than You Think.’ [Playbook]
TRANSITION — Ronen Bergman, investigative journalist and military analyst for Yediot Ahronot, has joined the New York Times Magazine as a staff writer. [NYT]
SPORTS BLINK: “Carolina Panthers Headed Toward Record Sale Price” by Ken Belson: “Sports bankers and people involved in the process expect the Panthers to sell for around $2.5 billion. So far, there are six bidders, according to a person with knowledge of the process, though only four are publicly known. David Tepper, the founder of the hedge fund Appaloosa Management and a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers; Michael Rubin, the chairman of Fanatics, the sports merchandise company; and Ben Navarro, who owns Sherman Financial Group, an investment firm; have made bids to buy the team. The three offers were between $2 billion and $2.2 billion. Alan Kestenbaum, the chief executive of Bedrock Industries, has also bid, though it’s unclear at what price.”
“Certain N.F.L. owners have already started to make their preferences known. Many owners have said that, all bids being equal, they prefer Tepper because he already owns a stake in the Steelers, which he would have to sell if he bought the Panthers, and because he has the financial wherewithal, with a net worth of roughly $11 billion.” [NYTimes]
DESSERT — “Umami Burger Debuts Two All-Vegan Impossible Burgers” by Anna Starostinetskaya: “Restaurant chain Umami Burger debuted this week two new vegan Impossible Burger options to its menu at locations nationwide… “Since our initial launch, we have seen a tremendous response from our fanbase as well as first-time guests who have come in specifically to try the Impossible Burger, and it inspired us to expand our innovative partnership with Impossible Foods even further,” SBE (the restaurant’s parent company) CEO Sam Nazarian said.” [VegNews]
“Matzo S’mores: Brilliant? Or Brooklyn?” by Charles Passy: “[Adrienne] Sherman, of Bridgewater, N.J., uses a s’mores-making kit, which also includes chocolate, from Manischewitz Company, called “S’more Matzo.” “Just plain matzo gets old,” she says… Enterprising outfits, bakers and chefs are trying to reverse tradition and give the holiday staple a culinary makeover… At the Naga Bakehouse, a family-run bakery in the Vermont town of Middletown Springs, matzo gets the artisan treatment. Husband-and-wife founders Doug Freilich and Julie Sperling use locally sourced wheat in their flour and bake their matzo—or “Vermatzah,” as they call it—in a wood-fired oven. Pieces are wrapped in parchment paper and tied with yarn before being boxed. The taste is a bit nutty, Ms. Sperling says, with a “hint of the fire.”” [WSJ]
“East High boys missing prom, cooking comes first” by Samara Kalk Derby: “A team of four East High School students are foregoing their junior and senior prom to compete at the highest level of a national culinary competition. “It’s a bummer, but it will be worth it in the long run,” said Gabe Wasserman, a junior, who is on the East team with his twin brother, Isaac. The team won first place in the ProStart Invitational culinary Midwest competition held earlier this month and will go on to represent Wisconsin at the National ProStart Invitational in Providence, Rhode Island the weekend of April 27… Because his family has kept kosher his entire life, the team let that guide them toward their eventual menu and the elimination of pork, shellfish and not mixing meat and dairy. “Obviously, that takes away a lot of different food options,” Wasserman said.” [WisStateJournal]
MAZAL TOV: “Couple achieves ‘Diamond Status’ in Delta-themed wedding” by Emma Kate Protis: “Airline fanatics and Medallions Bess Wohlner and Jeremy Simons recently pledged their love in a Delta-themed wedding. As the airline has held a significant place in their relationship, the Memphis couple thoughtfully wove all things Delta into their wedding, including airport code table assignments and boarding lanes to line the dance floor… Jeremy met Bess in rabbinical school in 2009. The friends frequently flew out of Delta’s Los Angeles hub for student assignments. Bess agreed to do a “mileage run” with Jeremy and purchase trips from one Delta city to the next to accrue SkyMiles…” [Delta]
BIRTHDAYS: Professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics, Jerome Isaac Friedman turns 88… Investor and philanthropist, chairman and CEO of the Hartz Group, Leonard N. Stern turns 80… Expert on the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, supporter of women’s health issues and wife of former US Senator and VP-candidate Joe Lieberman, Hadassah Lieberman… Iranian-born billionaire, CEO of Los Angeles-based toy company MGA Entertainment,Isaac Larian turns 64… Member of the Knesset since 2006, previously a journalist, Shelly Yachimovich turns 58… CEO of the American Health Policy Institute and a presidential historian, he was a White House aide and Jewish Liaison in the George W. Bush administration (2005-2007) and Deputy HHS Secretary (2007-2009), Tevi Troy turns 51… Film producer Brett Ratner turns 49… Journalist Jake Adelstein turns 49… Author of six best-selling novels including in 2003 “The Devil Wears Prada” based upon the author’s time as an assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Lauren Weisberger turns 41… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Likud party, Makhlouf “Miki” Zohar turns 38… MLB outfielder, who has played for the Boston Red Sox in 2010 and 2012 and for the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and 2016, now with the Atlantic League’s New Britain Bees, Ryan Kalish turns 30… Rising real estate star Zach Sokoloff turns 29… Glenview, Illinois native, Genie Kutchins… Tarzana, California native, Marlene R. Bane… Gus Kayak… Dr. Ivan Hronsky…
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