Oct
29

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Daily Kickoff: Jewish community comes together to mourn for victims of Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

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TALK OF OUR NATION — Tree of Life Synagogue Victims Remembered as Guardians of Their Faith — by Simon Romero, Jennifer Medina and Timothy Williams: “The shooting rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue left 11 people dead, including the Rosenthal brothers, Ms. Fienberg and Mr. Wax. Many of those who perished were advanced in years. Some, like Rose Mallinger, who was 97, were alive while the Holocaust was devastating Jewish communities around Europe. They were the steady anchors of a faith community that had changed over the years but persisted as a source of devotion, camaraderie and memory.” [NYTimes] • The lives lost in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting [WashPost]

“Normally, a group of children would have been moving toward their weekly Shabbat class, but one of the children had a conflict on this Saturday, [Chuck] Diamond said, so the session was postponed to Sunday. According to the synagogue’s online calendar, it was the only Saturday in the past month without the youth gathering.” [WashPost]

Holocaust Survivor Cheated Death At Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre By 4 Minutes — by Josh Nathan-Kazis: “Judah Samet was four minutes late to synagogue. Services at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh start at 9:45 A.M. Samet, who is 80 years old, pulled into a handicapped spot in front of the building on the morning of October 27 at 9:49. “Somebody knocked on my window,” Samet said the next day. “There was this guy. Very calm and respectful. [He] told me, you better back up, there is an active shooting going on in your synagogue.” … Samet was born in Hungary. He turned eight years old at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany… He has been a member of Tree of Life Congregation for fifty-five years.” [Forward]

Prohibition on Electronics Left Many Orthodox Jews in Dark About Pittsburgh Shooting — by Shayndi Raice and Lucette Lagnado: “Barbara Seghal, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., came home from synagogue on Saturday afternoon to find a letter tacked onto her front door. It said, “With hope for a finer world.” Inside was a handwritten note from her Christian neighbors saying, “please accept our sympathy for the event in Pittsburgh and our sincere hope for a loving world.” Ms. Seghal, who is Orthodox, said she ran over to her neighbors to see what had happened but they weren’t home.” [WSJ]

ON THE SCENE — Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life rabbi regrets not being able to help more people during shooting: “The Tree of Life’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, is being hailed as a hero for saving many of his synagogue congregants during Saturday’s deadly attack. Myers had just begun his sermon when a gunman began shooting… “CBS This Morning” co-host Bianna Golodryga asked Myers how he’s coping with the trauma. He responded, “Badly.” “I could only save some. The people in the back of the sanctuary I could not save,” Myers said.” [CBSNews]

A Broken Jewish Community — by Emma Green: “As Squirrel Hill mourns those who were killed and prays for those who are still in the hospital, it’s also mourning a loss of innocence: Anti-Semitism is here, present, and real in their community. “I’m the child of two survivors. I know that my parents had normal lives until their lives were disrupted by the Nazis,” said Avi Baran Munro, the head of the Community Day School, a private Jewish elementary and middle school in the neighborhood… Ada Perlman, 14, stood in a bright red peacoat and cried, surrounded by friends. “I always heard about anti-Semitism, but I never thought it would happen in my own community,” she said, through tears… “I’m worried people aren’t going to want to come to shul anymore,” Perlman said.” [TheAtlantic]

Pittsburgh Jewish Community Mourns Victims in Mass Synagogue Shooting: ‘Hate Isn’t Going to Win’ — by Amir Tibon: “We love walking around this area, it’s a walking neighborhood,” said [Steve] Bennet… “We usually walk every Saturday morning, and we always pass by the Tree of Life Congregation. It’s part of our routine. This morning we were also planning to do that, but as we got close, a police officer jumped in our path and said we have to turn around; can’t go that way, because there is an active shooter situation.” [Haaretz]

Lou Weiss writes… “Amalek Comes to Pittsburgh: Saturday’s murderer was Amalek brought to life, as he mainly killed old and mentally challenged members of all three of the resident congregations… What happened to our wonderful, close community Saturday has now become the business not only of Jews but of all civilized human beings. The heartbreak will never go away. The best way to honor the people who were murdered would be to emulate their decency and goodness.” [WSJ]

COMING TOGETHER — Synagogue shooting ‘will not break us. It will not ruin us,’ rabbi says at vigil [CNN] • “We will rebuild.” Tree of Life rabbi Jeffrey Myers tells 2,000 mourners at memorial [Bloomberg] • Hundreds of Washington’s Jewish community rally outside the White House[Washingtonian] • New York Raises Prayer Of Unity, Peace After Synagogue Massacre [CBSNewYork] • Empire State Building goes dark in honor of Pittsburgh synagogue victims [TheHill] • AJC Calls on Jews and Allies to #ShowUpForShabbat [AJC]

Netanyahu thanks Trump in condolence letter to Pittsburgh Jews: “Over the centuries, Jews have been subjected to every kind of savage attack imaginable — from blood libels and massacres to pogroms and genocide — for nothing more than the ‘crime’ of being Jewish,” Netanyahu wrote in the open letter. He thanked Trump “for unequivocally condemning this heinous crime and for pledging to fight those who seek to destroy the Jewish people.”[ToI]

Israel Opposition Chief Says Pittsburgh Shooting Should Teach Jews To Make Aliyah: “[Israel’s Labor leader Avi] Gabbay called “upon the Jews of the United States to immigrate more and more to Israel, because this is their home.” In a tweet on Sunday morning, Deputy Minister Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, strongly took issue with Gabbay… “The Conservative Jews of Pittsburgh were sufficiently Jewish to be killed because they were Jews but their movement is not recognized by the Jewish State,” Oren wrote.” [Forward]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — For Trump, Dutiful Words of Grief, Then Off to the Next Fight — by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “It took the importuning of his Jewish daughter and son-in-law to craft a powerful statement of outrage at anti-Semitism after Saturday’s slaughter at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Then Mr. Trump went back into partisan mode, assailing his enemies.”

“Two White House officials, Jason Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, traveled to Pittsburgh on Saturday a few hours after the shooting, and were still there on Sunday. Urged on by his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, the president made plans to travel to Pittsburgh this week. But he saw no reason to dispense with his campaign schedule or adjust his message.” [NYTimes]

Jason Greenblatt tweeted Sunday afternoon: “Just arrived in Pittsburgh to attend an interfaith gathering & vigil. Walking through the airport with a heavy heart and pit in my stomach. Stunned by this horrific & tragic Anti-Semitic attack on the Jewish community here. We stand with Pittsburgh.”

Jewish leaders tell Trump he’s not welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism — by Morgan Gstalter: “Eleven members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice penned a letter to Trump… “Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” the group wrote.” [TheHill

Dana Milbank writes… “Trump’s America is not a safe place for Jews: After the shooting, Trump read from the teleprompter the proper denunciation of anti-Semitism. But proceeding with a rally mere hours after the massacre, he galvanized the crowd with the same complaint the alleged Pittsburgh killer cited in social media before the carnage: the migrant caravan… Trump closed with his usual vow to fight “others” who are trying to “destroy our proud American heritage.” White supremacists get the message.” [WashPost]

Adam Serwer“The Tree of Life shooter criticized Trump for not being racist or anti-Semitic enough. But with respect to the caravan, the shooter merely followed the logic of the president and his allies: He was willing to do whatever was necessary to prevent an “invasion” of Latinos planned by perfidious Jews.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt emails us… “We are deeply concerned that anti-Semitism is being normalized in public life. There are television ads being run by mainstream political candidates and parties that invoke the specter of Jewish philanthropist George Soros to instill fear in voters’ hearts. This year, there are a record number of right-wing extremists and bigots running for office
 
“It’s clear that the Pittsburgh shooting suspect was immersed in the so-called alt-right’s social media universe. On Gab, he shared anti-Semitic and white supremacist memes and outwardly expressed his hatred for immigrants and Jews. He even went so far as attacking HIAS and ADL. The attack in Pittsburgh sadly further reinforces that online hate is not some idle threat that just lives online. There are serious consequences to allowing online hate to go unchecked. Technology companies need to work harder and faster to curb the vicious violence-inducing harassment on their platforms.”

“What’s also needed now is for leaders to lead – we need more good people on both sides of the aisle to reject anti-Semitism and prejudice in all forms. That can go a long way toward ensuring the safety and security of the Jewish community in the United States.”

Former Senator Norm Coleman tells us… “Yes, I am disturbed by the deep divisions in this country, which are evidenced by the political divides in Washington and throughout the Country. However, the anti-Semitism that fed the monster that murdered Jewish worshippers on Saturday is a disease that transcends today’s political divide. It has been with us for centuries. It’s rearing it’s ugly head with renewed virulence throughout the globe today. We see it here in the U.S. on college campuses in the form of a BDS movement. We see it in the attacks on the Jewish State.”

“Yes, we would be well served by greater efforts to bridge the partisan divide and tone down the harsh political rhetoric. But the evil that motivated the killings that took place on Saturday is grounded in a hatred for Jews that should not be explained away as a manifestation of harsh political rhetoric. Anti-Semitism is the evil that must be addressed.”

Norm Eisen: “My heart is broken. We mourn for those we have lost. But we Jews have, for millennia, endured murderous attacks and we will with grief survive today. I must, however, reject the president’s disingenuous condolences because he belied them in his frivolous, joking speech last night. And more fundamentally, it is because he and his enablers created the climate of hate that triggered this outrage. There can be no doubt that Trump’s and his cronies’ lies and inflammatory rhetoric regarding the caravan, exploiting it for political gain, helped cause this terrible crime — not to mention his insistence on continuing to make assault weapons like that used today available to killers. So please spare us the standard ‘thoughts and prayers,’ Mr. Trump. We will provide our own.”

HEARD ON TV — Ambassador Ron Dermer on MSNBC: “I saw what President Trump said yesterday at a rally in Illinois. I’m not aware of a single non-Israeli leader that has made such a strong statement in condemning anti-Semitism meaning he said to those who seek to destroy the Jewish people, we will destroy them. I have never heard a non-Israeli leader say that and we appreciated that… The difference in this president is that he has Jews in his family. So, I think there’s no question in my mind that he wants to confront the anti-Semites.”

“I think the problem is that when people attribute anti-Semitism to one side of the political debate, they make a very big mistake… One of the big forces on college campuses today is anti-Semitism. And those anti-Semites are usually not neo-Nazis, on college campuses. They’re coming from the radical left. We have to stand against anti-Semitism whether it comes from the right or whether it comes from the left.” [Video]

Jeffrey Goldberg on CBS’ Face the Nation: “Yes, Donald Trump has been trying. He’s been reading statements about anti-Semitism that seem appropriate. But as we see in his rallies, he quickly veers from those statements and goes right back to division.”

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly, on suggestion that synagogues should have armed guards, in an interview with CNN: “The Jewish community, and every faith community, is built around having its doors open… and we cannot allow ourselves to give in to a feeling that we all have to hide behind gates and locked doors and armed guards in order to be American. The promise of America is that we live in freedom, in safety, and with a sense of community and opportunity.”

Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein tells us… “There is a government program that provides some security assistance to Jewish institutions. I would like to see it enhanced. We know that it’s impossible to secure every Jewish institution a hundred percent, but a lot more could be done. We have to train people in the community how to respond, and we have to have better protection at our institutions.”

MIDTERMS — How Republicans and Democrats are talking up the Pittsburgh shooting on the trail — by Dave Weigel: “The Democratic response so far has been to bemoan the state of our politics but hint that the president needs to fix it. “We can decide whether to create an America in which old hatreds are rekindled and new ones are given life,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement representative of what Democrats were saying. “No one sets the tone more than the President of the United States.”

“Republicans want voters to ask whether the Democratic Party got us to this point and is dodging responsibility… On Sunday, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers suggested that the media was enabling a double standard whereby Republicans were associated with the fringe and Democrats were not. “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee continues to support Leslie Cockburn and Scott Wallace, who have said bigoted and anti-Semitic things,” Stivers said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” [WashPost]

Republicans Rushing to Save House Seats From Onslaught of Democratic Money — by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns: “Much of the Democrats’ unanticipated firepower comes from one source: Michael R. Bloomberg, the liberal former New York City mayor who may run for president, plans to spend about $20 million on House advertising through his super PAC, Independence USA, in the final week of the campaign, a Bloomberg adviser said.” [NYTimes]

After leaving the Republican Party, Wexner starts giving to Democrats, too — by Jim Siegel: “[Leslie] Wexner gave $10,000 to the Ohio House Democratic caucus, and another $10,000 to House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton. That is the first time he has ever given to either of them, and his first direct donations to any Democrat in at least five years. In addition, Abigail Wexner gave $5,000 to Strahorn and $10,000 to the House Democrats. But Les Wexner hasn’t abandoned Republicans… He gave $10,000 to Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, and $10,000 each to the Senate and House Republican caucuses.” [Dispatch]

House majority leader deletes tweet saying Soros, Bloomberg, Steyer are trying to ‘buy’ election — by Devan Cole: “House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy posted and later deleted a tweet last week that suggested three Jewish, billionaire Democratic donors were attempting to “buy” the 2018 midterm elections.” [CNN]

Michigan House races: Vice President Mike Pence is expected to campaign today for Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI-08), who is being challenged by Elissa Slotkin, and for Lena Epstein, the Republican candidate running for the open seat in the 11th Congressional District.

2020 WATCH — Cory Booker in NH: America is ‘in amoral moment’ —by Paul Steinhauser: “Booker’s jam-packed Sunday swing through New Hampshire – to help Democratic candidates running in next month’s election – was his first visit in more than two years to the state the holds the first primary in the race for the White House… “I’m really so obsessed and focused on the midterms, I’m literally putting thousands of miles on the road, so I’m not even focusing on that,” he said… “I’m going to run through the tape,” he said. “And the first thing I’m going to do is rest. A day off on the seventh, and then start thinking about 2020.” [ConcordMonitor]

Selling Donald Trump: A First-Time Campaign Manager Tries to Defy the Doubters — by Maggie Haberman: “In early 2018, [Brad] Parscale was chosen by the president’s son Eric and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to lead the 2020 re-election effort. The process made clear that, this time around, the president’s family will be heavily involved from the start. “He knows how to do it in a Trumpian way,” Mr. Kushner said in a brief interview. “He has the president’s trust and the trust of the family. I can’t think of a better person to run the campaign.” [NYTimes]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Palestinian president vows to thwart Trump peace plan: “Speaking at the opening of a rare meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s central council, [Mahmoud] Abbas said Palestinians were facing perhaps the “most dangerous stage” in their history… Abbas compared the expected Trump proposal to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which saw the British government commit to the creation of a state for Jews in historic Palestine. “If the Balfour Declaration passed, this deal will not pass,” he pledged.” [DailyMail

— “The plot against the Palestinian people isn’t over. As we have declared, we are against the ‘Deal of the Century.’ East Jerusalem is our capital, the same capital that was occupied in 1967,” Abbas said.” [Haaretz]

Oman says time to accept Israel in region, offers help for peace — by Dan Williams: “Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, told a security summit in Bahrain… Oman is relying on the United States and efforts by President Donald Trump in working toward the “deal of the century” (Middle East peace), he added.” [Reuters]

TALK OF THE REGION — Netanyahu’s Oman Visit Sets Off Israeli Cabinet Rush to Gulf — by Jonathan Ferziger: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprise visit to Oman pried open a door to the Persian Gulf usually shut to Israelis, and several of his cabinet members are following him through. Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, a Druze Arab citizen of Israel, will attend a conference in Dubai of the International Telecommunications Union on Monday, while Transportation Minister Israel Katz will participate next week in another international conference in the Omani capital, Muscat. Culture Minister Miri Regev has been in the United Arab Emirates since Friday, accompanying Israel’s national judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam.” 

“It’s a sign that Israel and the Arab world are moving closer,” said Michael Oren, Netanyahu’s deputy minister for public diplomacy.” [Bloomberg]

— “Mr. Netanyahu sees countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman as crucial potential allies in a Middle East that is realigned around opposition to Iran and is less concerned about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land without a signed peace deal. U.S. officials hope Saudi Arabia and other states can pressure Palestinians to come to the table and accept the Trump administration’s terms.” [WSJ]

Elliott Abrams tells us… “That the Sultan would meet with Netanyahu despite the freeze in Israeli-Palestinian relations does suggest that relations with Israel will be judged independently. If it’s useful for Oman they’ll do it, whatever the Palestinians think. The invitation to Abbas looks like a diplomatic cover to me: an excuse for inviting Bibi. As to the Trump peace plan, it suggests that Oman will not simply reject the plan instantly as the Palestinians will, but may temporize. I expect that like the other Arab states they will thank Trump for trying, hew to the Arab Plan of 2002, and call for negotiations.”

“One thing this invitation may do is spur the Qataris to invite Bibi. Why not? The Sultan has provided cover, and the Qataris know the Saudis won’t invite him so they may see a chance to gain an advantage here.”

Dore Gold emails us… “For a long time Israel has enjoyed quiet ties with a number of Arab states. Oman was always special for a number of reasons. It supported the 1977 peace initiative of President Sadat of Egypt when much of the Arab world was opposed. In the 1990’s it allowed Israel to open a low profile economic office in Muscat, the Omani capital. What is important now is that under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos, Oman permitted an open and well-publicized visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Something big is happening in the Middle East despite the efforts of Iran to wreck the new mood in the region.”

IRAN SANCTIONS — Trump Faces Complaints That New Iran Sanctions Are Too Weak — by Matt Lee and Susannah George: “A battle is brewing between the Trump administration and some of the president’s biggest supporters in Congress who are concerned that sanctions to be re-imposed on Iran early next month won’t be tough enough… “The president asked for maximum pressure, not semi-maximum pressure,” said Richard Goldberg, a former aide to a Republican senator and senior adviser to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a group that supports punishing Iran with sanctions. “Maximum pressure includes disconnecting Iranian banks from SWIFT.” [USNews]

AT THE UN — US to counter UN vote on Cuba embargo with amendments calling out human rights abuses — by Adam Shaw: “The U.S. on Wednesday is expected to put forward several amendments to balance the U.N. General Assembly’s annual condemnation of the U.S. embargo on Cuba… It is unclear whether the U.S. policy will bring many on board — where the U.S. is frequently a pariah. Last year only Israel voted with the U.S. out of the 193-member body against the Cuban resolution.” [FoxNews]  

** 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: Oracle founder Larry Ellison discloses big personal stake in Tesla [CNBC] • Billionaires Warren Buffett, Sheldon Adelson battle over Nevada ballot measure on electricity supply [FoxNews] • Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not considering selling the club [SkySports] • Penny Pritzker discusses her P33 initiative aimed at boosting Chicago’s standing as a tech center with Bloomberg TV [Bloomberg] • Howard Lorber buys 620 Park Ave co-op for wife [TheRealDeal] • Robert Kraft’s new Nike Air Force 1 sneakers to be released Thursday [NBCSports]

MEDIA WATCH — The Skimm Brains: 7 million people wake up to their newsletter, and their voice, every morning — by Noreen Malone: “By any measure, the Skimm, founded in 201 by Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, is an insane success. The newsletter is a Frankensteining of clear, sober-minded news aggregation with a tone imitating the way young women supposedly talk to one another. It has grown by more than 100 percent since Donald Trump took office and has 7 million subscribers, twice as many as the New York Times. (The Times’ Morning Briefing news roundup has 1.6 million.) … In its comprehensive breadth and mix, the Skimm recalls the kind of briefing sheet TV-morning news show hosts and producers might get from lower-level staffers — talking points, in other words, for the cord-cutting generation, most of whom don’t watch the Today show.” [TheCut]

Fox condemns rhetoric used by Lou Dobbs guest as channel’s star host faces growing criticism — by Oliver Darcy: “On Sunday, the network’s senior vice president for programming, Gary Schreier, released a statement denouncing what many people called an anti-Semitic trope used by a guest on Dobbs’ show earlier in the week… The comment in question was made by Chris Farrell, a board member of the right-wing organization Judicial Watch, during Thursday night’s episode of Dobbs’ show. During a segment about the caravan of migrants moving toward the U.S.’ southern border, Farrell called the State Department ‘Soros-occupied’ territory.” [CNN]

ACROSS THE POND — Jeremy Corbyn could face US sanctions over ‘terrorist support,’ says lawyer Alan Dershowitz — by Andrew Gilligan: “America’s best-known lawyer is backing an investigation into whether Jeremy Corbyn should face US sanctions as a supporter of terrorism. Alan Dershowitz said he wanted to see if Corbyn, who has described the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends,” could be placed under an embargo by Washington.” [TheTimes]

Far-right, pro-Israel Bolsonaro wins Brazilian presidency: “Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro has won Brazil’s elections, taking an unassailable lead Sunday in the race for the South American nation’s presidency… Bolsonaro is highly divisive among Jewish voters: He is ardently pro-Israel, but has also run a campaign pledging to restore law and order and fight corruption with language some have called “fascist” and worse. Bolsonaro has declared he will move the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. His first international trip as president, he said, will be to Israel, with which he will seek to broaden the dialogue. And he promised to close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.”[ToI

SPORTS BLINK — In first, Israeli anthem plays in Abu Dhabi after judo gold: “Israel’s national anthem was played at a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after one of its athletes won gold in what was thought to be a first in the Gulf emirate. The playing of the national anthem and Israeli Sports Minister Miri Regev’s attendance at the tournament were the latest milestones in the country’s bid for rapprochement with Arab states… It was the first time an Israeli delegation participated there under its national flag, after the International Judo Federation warned UAE organizers they would cancel the competition unless all athletes were allowed to participate on an equal footing.”[YahooNews]

BIRTHDAYS: Haifa-born director and screenwriter of animated and live-action films including The Lord of the Rings, Ralph Bakshi turns 80… Dean of the Yale School of Management (1996-2005), he has served as a federal prosecutor, as a managing director on Wall Street and in the Nixon, Ford, Carter and Clinton administrations, Jeffrey E. Garten turns 72… Academy Award winning actor, who played Yoni Netanyahu in the 1976 film Victory at Entebbe, Richard Dreyfuss turns 71… CEO of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of its namesake foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, Dimitri Simes turns 71… Director of the social justice organizing program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Mordechai E. Lieblingturns 70…

Pulitzer Prize winning author and long-time editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick turns 60… Bernard Greenberg turns 59… Sports agent who has negotiated over $2 billion of NFL player contracts, Drew Rosenhaus turns 52… Mathematician, cryptologist, computer programmer and professor of mathematics and computer science, Daniel J. Bernstein turns 47… Television producer, writer and actor, best known for NBC’s The Office (2005-2013) and Parks and Recreation (2009-2015), Michael Schur turns 43… Educational consultant at Hermiona Education in Princeton, New Jersey, Leora Eisenberg turns 20…

Oct
28

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Daily Kickoff: Special edition on yesterday’s synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh

Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here or for early access via Debut Inbox

This is a special Sunday edition of the Daily Kickoff given yesterday’s tragic event in Pittsburgh

Victims In Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Begin To Be Identified: “The identities of the victims that were inside the Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday are now being released. The 11 victims that were killed in the shooting were identified as: Joyce Fienburg, 75-year-old, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65-years-old, of Ross Township; Rose Mallinger, 97-years-old, of Squirrel Hill; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66-years-old, of Edgewood; Cecil Rosenthal, 59-years-old, of Squirrel Hill; David Rosenthal, 54-years old, of Squirrel Hill; Bernice Simon, 84-years-old, of Wilkinsburg; Sylvan Simon, 86-years-old, of Wilkinsburg; Daniel Stein, 71-years-old, of Squirrel Hill; Melvin Wax, 88-years-old, of Squirrel Hill; and Irving Younger, 69-years-old, of Mt. Washington.” [CBSPittsburgh]

“In a rampage described as among the deadliest against the Jewish community in the United States,[Robert Bowers] stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation… Though a bris, a ceremony to mark a child’s birth, was among the ceremonies taking place Saturday, no children were among the casualties.” [NYTimes] • For 20 minutes, synagogue shooter turned a brit milah into a bloodbath [ToI]

ON THE SCENE REPORTING ― by David Shribman, executive editor of the Post-Gazette: “It didn’t require social media for the news of the shooting at the Tree of Life to spread. The news was in the air, along with the shock and the sadness, the grief and the gruesome details, the worst of which were confirmed within hours. You could hear it in the sirens that broke the stillness of the morning and shattered the serenity of the Saturday routines at the cleaners, at the shoe store, at the hotcake house… This was, to be sure, a 21st century event. Gunfire in a house of worship. Text messages flying at the speed of bullets… And of course: Confusion, and then clarity, over how many dead, how many wounded.” [PostGazette]

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto: Saturday was “one of the darkest days in the history of Pittsburgh. We’ve been ripped apart. This is going to be a very difficult time for our city. But we’ll be there to help each other and lift each other up, and pull people together.” [Haaretz]

Daniel Gilman, chief of staff for Mayor Peduto, writes… “[Yesterday] was one of the hardest days of my life. As a Pittsburgher, [a] proud member of the Jewish Community, and Chief of Staff of the City. Today, I lost friends – people I had known my whole life. I have friends and family grieving. I have a community struggling with hate and violence. I have heroic first responders who risked their lives to save dozens. I also have the best City in the world behind me. Pittsburgh will always be stronger than hate. We will always build bridges. We will work through this together. Thank you Pittsburgh!”

Bearing Witness — by Billy Shore: “My sister Debbie and I have probably been to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood where we grew up a few dozen times for bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and other services… For us, the mass shooting this Saturday morning evoked the interviews we’ve all seen in previously unheard of places where someone is saying “we never thought something like that could happen here.” Now the voices sound eerily like our own, because they are.”[ShareOurStrength]

Bari Weiss, who had bat mitzvah at Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, writes… “A Massacre in the Heart of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: The heartbreaking coincidence is that the Jewish emphasis on the open door, on welcoming the stranger, is exactly what the Jews of Tree of Life and the Jews of every synagogue big and small in every far-flung corner of the globe were reading about this Shabbat morning. They were reading from the chapters of Genesis we refer to as Vayera. The Torah portion opens on Judaism’s founding father and mother: Abraham and Sarah. Three men show up to their tent — strangers — and the couple welcomes them: feeding them, giving them shade and washing their feet.” [NYTimes]

“Love thy neighbor. No exceptions.” — Tom Hanks, who is filming a movie about Mister Rogers in Pittsburgh, shared a photo of a sign in front of a house in Pittsburgh following the shooting. “Again, to me this photo is the spirit of Pittsburgh- with a broken heart today for those in Squirrel Hill” [Pic]

MEDIA WATCH — Alana Newhouse‏: “The entire Tablet staff will be in Pittsburgh all week—as reporters, volunteers, etc. We’ll be based at the JCC but mobile. Come by or email us with any need.”

COMING TOGETHER — After a mass synagogue shooting, a post-Shabbat service draws thousands — by Ron Kampeas: “For many in the crowd, the shooting seemed of a piece with recent horrors: The 13 pipe bombs that a Florida man, obsessed with President Donald Trump’s enemies, had sent to leading liberals and Democrats; the Parkland shootings; the deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017; the man in Kentucky who killed two blacks at a Kroger and tried to enter a black church. “We usually don’t get that in Squirrel Hill,” said Tamara Bizyayev, a nurse who came to the vigil with her husband, Alex Kosheni. “God is the center of the town,” she said, and pointed her chin at the church that stood hard by the Jewish community center… There were similar vigils Saturday night across the country, non-Jews coming together with Jews to express solidarity.” [JTA]

— Rabbi Keren Gorban of Temple Sinai, which like other Squirrel Hill synagogues went in lockdown Saturday morning, had the crowd learn and repeat a chant in Hebrew for: “May you spread your shelter of peace over us.” And Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, said Muslims had already raised $15,000 to aid the Pittsburgh Jewish community in its response to the tragedy.” [PostGazette]

Hundreds Of New Yorkers Gather To Say Kaddish For Victims Of Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting — by Jen Chung: “Bundled up against the cold and drizzling rain, hundreds of attendees in Union Square sang Jewish songs and said Kaddish, a Hebrew prayer commonly recited following the death of a loved one. Led by local rabbis, attendees also participated in the Havdalah ceremony, lighting braided candles and reciting additional prayers to commemorate the end of the Sabbath.” [GothamistVideo]

WHITE HOUSE PHOTO — President Donald Trump briefed by national security aide Michael Burnett aboard Air Force One about the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

President Donald Trump ordered the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff at the White House, U.S. embassies, and upon all public buildings and grounds. Trump also told reporters yesterday that he intends to visit the Pittsburgh synagogue, but did not give a time frame.

Trump in his first public reaction to the shooting during a speech in Indianapolis: “Our minds cannot comprehend the cruel hate and the twisted malice that could cause a person to unleash such terrible violence during a baby naming ceremony. This was a baby naming ceremony at a sacred house of worship on the holy day of Sabbath. Anti-Semitism and the widespread persecution of Jews represents one off the ugliest and darkest features of human history. The vial, hate-filled poison of anti-Semitism must be condemned and confronted everywhere and anywhere it appears. There must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America or for any form of religious or racial hatred or prejudice.” [CSPAN]

Following his remarks, Trump invited Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Indianapolis to offer a prayer for the victims [Video] • Trump and Sendrow hugged after the prayers [Pic]

Trump at a campaign rally in Illinois: “The scourge of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated and it cannot be allowed to continue… We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters to defeat anti-Semitism and vanquish the forces of hate… We must draw a line in the sand and say very strongly, Never again!” [CSPAN]

HOW IT PLAYED — Trump Calls for Unity After Synagogue Shooting, Then Swiftly Denounces Democrats — by Katie Rogers and Jeffery Mays: “Amid a growing outcry, the president seemed to soften his tone as the day went on, even as he disparaged [Nancy] Pelosi in Indiana and delivered a partisan political message in Illinois. As he crisscrossed the Midwest, he spoke with his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who are both Jewish… With 10 days to go until the midterm elections, the president at first wavered on whether to continue with his schedule on Saturday. He briefly considered canceling, but seemed ready to move forward after a rabbi and pastor delivered prayers onstage at the farmers’ conference.” [NYTimes]

IN JERUSALEM — Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting opened with a moment of silence for the victims. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video statement: “The entire people of Israel grieve with the families of the dead. We stand together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. We stand together with the American people in the face of this horrendous anti-Semitic brutality.”

Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan visited the scene on Saturday night. [PicDayan will attend the funerals of the victims and participate in public mourning events. He will also meet with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, and members of the Jewish community.

SCENE IN TEL AVIV — The municipal building in Tel Aviv was lit up in the colors of the American flag last night in solidarity with the victims of the deadly shooting  [Pic

DRIVING THE CONVO — The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting comes amid a yearslong rise in anti-Semitism — by Tara Isabella Burton: “In the last year for which complete data is available, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)… found that there had been 1,986 reported anti-Semitic incidents in the United States that year… The surge between 2016 and 2017 was the highest increase in incidents on-record since the ADL started reporting on them in 1979.” [Vox] • For American Jews, Pittsburgh synagogue massacre is culmination of worst fears [WashPost]

Ann Lewis, who served as White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton, emails us… “My reaction is grief – and anger. Grief for the lives lost, thinking of the pain and fear, the parents and children in every Jewish community, and wondering if they will be safe when they go to synagogue or Hebrew school to learn and pray in the United States of America? I am angry at the deliberate use of political rhetoric that evokes anti-Semitic imagery; the ads that could be illustrations for the Protocols of The Elders of Zion.”

Leon Wieseltier: “This was the darkest day in the history of American Jewry. Though physical attacks on American Jews have occurred before, anti-Semitism in America has usually not taken violent forms — but now we have witnessed a massacre of Jews because they are Jews on American soil. In America, an unprecedented abomination. If this atrocity is not typical of our American history, however, it is increasingly typical of our American times. The American Jewish community has been inducted into the contemporary horrors. The Tree is our Mother Emmanuel, our Pulse; and we have also been given a taste of what our brothers and sisters in France have endured. Will our children now greet armed guards as they enter our Jewish schools?”

“There are many observations that must be made about the political origins of this lethal madness, but I am too shaken for politics right now. Before we vote, we weep. As the worshippers in Squirrel Hill read about the binding of Isaac, no angel appeared to stop a slaughter. At this moment we are, above all, mourners. These are days of sorrow and solidarity, of lamentation and law enforcement.”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism: “Today is for grieving. As a Jewish community, we must come together in solidarity to support those who are grieving and mourn with them. To speak the names and honor the lives of the innocent people who were murdered, and help in any way possible to comfort their loved ones. Tomorrow is for acting. There is not a simple answer to solve the systemic issues of hate, of incitement to violence, and of excessive access to weapons of war. We must maintain our focus on acting to combat the deep and destructive issues, and the incitement no matter from whom it comes, that are leading to a ceaseless chain of senseless hate and death.”

Tevi Troy: “Anti-Semitism is and has long been an unfortunate reality. Add that to the increasing American problem of mass shootings — every president since Reagan has presided over more mass shootings than his predecessor— and we see the horror of Pittsburgh. It is incumbent upon all of us, left and right, Jew and Gentile, American and not American, to unite to fight the scourge of Anti-Semitism wherever it exists. It’s not endemic to one party, to one country, to one religion; it is something that manifests itself in too many ideologies and too many parts of this world. We need a united effort to combat it in all its forms.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tweets“I’m a Jew. I grew up in Pennsylvania. My conservative synagogue was the center of my life. This mass shooting, like the one a few miles from my home, feels intensely personal. Again. We’re divided on so much, but can we come together to condemn hatred and violence? Just that?”

Rabbi Sharon Brous“America is waking up. Our grief and indignation are fueling our moral imagination. We have to use our voices, our money, our connections, whatever public platform and whatever political capital we have to call out the insanity of a culture of hatred and access to deadly weapons. We need to harness our anger, fear and grief, and bring it all to the polls on Nov. 6th.”

INBOX TRAFFIC — American Jewish Groups Vow to Fight Antisemitism Following ‘Deadliest Attack on Jews in US History’ [AlgemeinerForward]

HEARD ON TV — ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt on CNN with Brooke Baldwin: “The notion that our houses of worship become houses of slaughter is the kind of things we should not tolerate… We cannot let the white supremacists, the bigots and the haters win… We need our leaders to lead and to call this out when it happens, immediately, intentionally and honestly with sincerity – to say that hate has no place in our country… And I wish that our elected leaders would turn down the rhetoric.”

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS, on CNN: “The problem is that there is a growing space in this country for hate speech, and hate speech always turns into hate actions, and that’s what we are seeing again this week. Our focus has to be in fighting hate. We can’t stand by, as individuals or as organizations or as governments, when people spew hatred against Jews, against refugees.”

Ambassador Ron Dermer tweets“The Jewish state mourns with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh over this horrific attack. ה’ ינקום דמם. To all the antisemites out there on Twitter: !עם ישראל חי”

Franklin Foer writes… “A Prayer for Squirrel Hill—And for American Jewry: After the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Gary Cohn couldn’t bring himself to resign from his job. After Squirrel Hill, Jared Kushner and Sheldon Adelson will likely stand their ground. In response to this massacre, every synagogue will protect itself with great security, with more cameras and more guards…. Any strategy for enhancing the security of American Jewry should involve shunning Trump’s Jewish enablers. Their money should be refused, their presence in synagogues not welcome. They have placed their community in danger.” [TheAtlantic

John Podhoretz“Donald Trump should be assigned no such blame, even if the shooter were the president of the Donald Trump Fan Club, because he pulled no trigger and committed no crime. Period. To do that, to assign blame, is to whitewash the crime itself and the criminal’s responsibility for it… Where I won’t let Trump off the hook here is the way in which he does nothing to try to calm the political atmosphere and rather seeks to secure an advantage from the way it roils. He should be better than this, because everyone should, and he’s not, and that’s both sad and bad.”

Jeffrey Herf“[Trump’s] response to the horrific news that a gunman had killed 11 people and wounded six at Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh made it clear that Trump doesn’t actually understand the nature of anti-Semitism at all. After the shooting, on the airport tarmac… Trump didn’t utter a single word about anti-Semitism. Instead, he resorted to the talking points of the National Rifle Association regarding the need for armed guards in the synagogue, as if an armed guard with a pistol could have been a match for this lunatic armed, yet again, with an AR-15-style assault rifle.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach“President Trump, who has been a huge supporter of Israel, and has a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren, is in an important position to speak out against this attack and the growth of this disgusting anti-Semitism. He must give a major speech to tell the country and the world that America stands with its Jewish citizens and will do all it can to protect the Jewish community against the world’s oldest hatred.”

Olivia Nuzzi‏ tweets“Before noon today, I asked the White House if Donald Trump would be reassessing his use of phrases with anti-Semitic implications like “globalist” and if not, how he justifies the continued use of that term. I received no response, but during his remarks in Indiana, he said this: “We don’t worry much about the globalists. We want to take care of the globe, too, but we have to take care of ourselves before we start worrying about others.”

Jonathan Schanzer“If you’re blaming one person, one party, one movement for anti-Semitism, you really don’t understand the problem. Today’s fascist will be tomorrow’s left wing extremist or jihadist. Don’t ignore what this murderer believed. But also don’t ignore that he shares a hatred embedded in other extremist ideologies that span the political spectrum: the oldest hatred.”

Sam Stein writes… “I Grew Up in a Place Where I Felt Safe from Anti-Semitism—It was the United States: This is what the shooter was targeting: not individuals but the very elements that bind those individuals together—a sense of spirituality, a place of worship, and centuries of tradition. He was targeting the seamlessness with which the Jewish community has fit into America’s social fabric. He wanted that younger me to not be so flippant about anti-Semitism, to not feel so removed from the atrocities that had accompanied Jews elsewhere. And, to a degree, I’m afraid he has succeeded. I will raise my son Jewish. And though I admit to feeling conflicted in the current moment, I know that I will do so proudly because to do otherwise is to allow this monster to determine our people’s collective identity.” [DailyBeast]

Howard Fineman“I covered Ku Klux Klan rallies, court-ordered busing, “dirty tricksters” of the right from Richard Nixon to Paul Manafort, and Trump rallies across the country. None of that shook my belief that the country could somehow harvest the energy of protest against “elites” for some eventual good. Now I am not so sure. The pendulum seems to be swinging more wildly and widely every day. The whole machinery feels in danger of racing out of control.”

Why the Tree of Life Shooter Was Fixated on the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society — by Masha Gessen: “Bowers isn’t the only person apparently obsessed with HIAS. The extreme right has been vilifying the organization for some time. The anti-Semitic right has accused HIAS of bringing immigrants to the United States in a scheme that is somehow designed to benefit Jews. On the Jewish far right, the Zionist Organization of America has attacked HIAS and other Jewish organizations for lobbying to admit Syrian refugees to the U.S. and has accused HIAS of doing so for profit.” [NewYorker]

Attacks on Jewish people rising on Instagram and Twitter, researchers say — by David Ingram: “Separate researchers who were independently looking at the two social networks said that attacks on Jewish people had spiked on both services ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, similar to a rise in harassment that occurred before the 2016 presidential election… Jonathan Albright, a Columbia University researcher who directs a center on digital forensics, told NBC News that the amount of anti-Semitic material posted to Instagram and tied to Soros was possibly the worst sample of hate speech he had seen on the popular photo-sharing app.” [NBCNews]

The Conspiratorial Hate We See Online Is Increasingly Appearing In Real Life — by Charlie Warzel: “Connecting the online footprints to tragedies in the physical world also reveals an undeniable truth: that the dichotomy between an online world and “real life” is (and has always been) a false one. The hatred, trolling, harassment, and conspiracy theorizing of the internet’s underbelly cannot be dismissed as empty, nihilistic performance. It may be a game, but it’s a game with consequences. And it’s spilling into the physical world with greater, more alarming frequency.” [BuzzFeed]

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Daily Kickoff: Tom Barrack’s standing in Trump world | White House envoy to Israel next week | Jordan joins Rubenstein and Guber in e-sports group

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FIRST LOOK — Tom Barrack Got Trump Right, Then Things Went Wrong — by Caleb Melby: “Trump’s inauguration marked the peak of Barrack’s influence. The president-elect named him chairman of the inaugural committee, and he raised a record $106.7 million—important to a man who likes to claim records. On the day Trump took the oath of office, Barrack was seated behind Trump’s brother Robert and in front of Sheldon Adelson… Even as he celebrated, however, some within Colony [Capital] worried. Management reminded employees that the firm had achieved new prominence thanks to the political activities of its founder, but many found that, to the contrary, its association with the president was producing headwinds. Fundraising in Europe, where Trump was unpopular, had become more difficult, and a pickup in Israeli interest wasn’t enough to close the gap.”

“Barrack’s diplomatic efforts were backfiring, too. Trump made Saudi Arabia the first stop on his first overseas trip in May 2017, partly as a result of Barrack’s lobbying. But a month later, just as MBS was being named crown prince, he and other Gulf leaders announced a blockade of Qatar… Barrack was blindsided, one friend says. Trump’s tweet in support of the maneuver was a blow to Barrack’s credibility with his Qatari investors… After the blockade began, Barrack reached out to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson… to help contain the fallout. But Kushner, who’d built a relationship with MBS and backed the blockade, had more influence with Trump.” [Bloomberg]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Israel’s Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni at the Israel Policy Forum annual event in Manhattan: “When President Trump had his first meeting with Netanyahu (in Feb. 2017), he said, you know what? I want a deal. I really don’t care if it’s one state, two states, or three states. I was happy. I will tell you why. Because in order to have a deal you need two sides. So, if the idea is to reach a deal. you need to put something on the table that both sides can live with.”

“I don’t know what in [Trump’s peace plan]. I am not sure there is anybody that really knows. I hope that it will be something that both sides would agree to. I am not sure that this is the situation. I hope and pray that this will not be something that the Palestinians would say no to, and in Israel, it would be an excuse to say again and again, and again, that there’s no partner on the other side, so let’s annex the territories and forget the idea of two states for two people.”

“So, on one hand, I hope that it would be positive, and frankly, I am also scared and worried that this would lead us to more frustration, violence, and complete lack of hope.” [Video]

Sir James Wolfensohn, who was recognized for his work served as President of the World Bank Group and as Special Envoy for the Gaza disengagement for the Quartet in 2005, discussed gaining acceptance in Arab countries: “It gave me the opportunity on behalf of, not only the World Bank but also the Jewish people to say quite frankly to all the friends in the Arab countries, which I visited very frequently, just what was the intent and the ideas of Israel and the Jewish community around the world.” [Video

IPF Chair Susie Gelman: “Being pro-Israel does not mean cheerleading on behalf of the policies and actions that are at odds with Israel’s Jewish, democratic, and secure future. We reserve the right to wear the pro-Israel mantle proudly and out of love for the state and the people of the Jewish homeland.” [Pic

SPOTTED: Amb. Martin Indyk, Rep. Nita Lowey, Robert Goodkind, Susie Stern, Alisa Levin, Jim Walker, Larry Gottlieb, Robert Sugarman, Robert Elman, Marc Stanley, Peter Joseph, Charles and Rita Bronfman, David Halperin, Michael Koplow, Martin Irom, and Jonathan Greenspun,

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Middle East peace envoy to travel to Israel next week — by Barak Ravid: “Jason Greenblatt… will travel to Israel to continue talks with Israeli officials on the White House’s upcoming peace plan… Israeli officials said Greenblatt will stay in Israel for almost a week and meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials and politicians… At this stage, it is highly unlikely that Greenblatt will meet with Palestinian officials.” [Axios]

Ben Caspit reports: “According to a senior Israeli Cabinet member, the reason Netanyahu is forced to capitulate to Hamas in Gaza is to avoid inflicting a military blow on them and instead “contain” the violence on the border fence… because he is waiting tensely for Trump’s peace program. Meanwhile, Netanyahu does not want a flare-up on the Palestinian front, as he fears this would create a false impression of emergency and goad Trump into publicizing his program. The prime minister is playing for time, and this foot-dragging arouses criticism from his voter base.” [Al-Monitor]   

Khashoggi killing complicates Trump’s peace plan — by Jonathan Swan: “The Palestinian leadership won’t deal with the White House after the Jerusalem embassy decision, and there’s no obvious avenue to engage them before the plan’s release. But the one thing Kushner’s team has going for it: Expectations of success couldn’t be lower.” [Axios]

ON THE HILL — President Trump signed yesterday the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act, which strengthens and expands the scope of economic and financial sanctions imposed by the original Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act in 2015. “We will target, disrupt, and dismantle [Hezbollah’s] operational and financing networks… and we will never forget what they did to our great Marines in Beirut,” Trump said during a signing ceremony marking the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing in 1983. The bill was co-authored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Trump on Iran sanctions: “On November 5th, all U.S. sanctions against Iran lifted by the nuclear deal will be back in full force — every sanction that we had on there originally, which if they would have just left it a little bit longer, it would have been so much easier than what we’ve been through over the last number of years… And they will be followed up with even more sanctions to address the full range of Iran’s malign conduct. We will not allow the world’s leading sponsor of terror to develop the world’s deadliest weapons. Will not happen.” [CSPAN]

U.S. Hesitates Over Scope of Finance Sanctions on Iran — by Ian Talley and Laurence Norman: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled that the U.S. may not force Belgium-based financial-messaging service Swift to disconnect Iranian banks from the global banking network… But other powerful voices close to the president, including national security adviser John Bolton, are ready to sanction Swift should it ignore Washington’s call to disconnect Iranian institutions.” [WSJWashExaminer

Saudi Spy Met With Team Trump About Taking Down Iran — by Betsy Woodruff and Erin Banco: “Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, the Saudi intelligence chief taking the fall for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hobnobbed in New York with Michael Flynn and other members of the transition team shortly before Trump’s inauguration. The topic of their discussion: regime change in Iran… The New York meetings were attended and brokered by George Nader… [and] Israeli social media strategist Joel Zamel, who has been questioned by Mueller for his role in pitching top campaign officials on an influence operation to help Trump win the election… Steve Bannon was involved as well in conversations on Iran regime change.”

“According to communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, Zamel flew to New York to help pitch the Iran idea to Assiri and Trump’s team, delivering a bound presentation full of tactics to undercut the country’s government.”[DailyBeast]

DEEP DIVE — $6 Billion of Iranian Money: Why Israeli Firm Black Cube Really Went After Obama’s Team — by Chaim Levinson and Hagar Shezaf: “The pursuit of [Ben] Rhodes, [Colin] Kahl and [Caroline] Tess was supposed to yield intelligence that would then enable a number of legal operations. The first was the location of unknown Iranian assets, such as bank accounts in the Gulf states or the Far East. The second was assistance to Iran in hiding its assets in violation of U.S. or international law. If it turned out that a certain bank helped Iran hide assets, Black Cube believed it would be possible to sue it. The third was assistance to Iran in shifting money in violation of American or international laws.”

“If it were possible to prove that the Obama administration officials acted illegally – an allegation that has never been proven – in a case like this, you could sue the banks or the U.S. government in order to get Iranian money… The Black Cube background document includes mention of “gathering intelligence leveraging the banks to disclose information on Iranian assets.” [Haaretz

PALACE INTRIGUE — John Bolton’s Whisper Campaign to Oust Mattis — by Lara Seligman: “Bolton and Mira Ricardel, the deputy national security advisor… believe [Defense Secretary James Mattis] is “not ideologically aligned” with President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a former senior defense official. The two are trying “to build the sense that he is done for,” the former official said… But Mattis’s allies insist the defense secretary will not resign. If Trump wants him out—and that’s still a big “if,” they say—the president will have to fire him.” [ForeignPolicy]

MIDTERMS — Top Super-PACs Have $113 Million for Final Push to Election — by Bill Allison and John McCormick: “Billionaires with ties to Wall Street donated tens of millions to the groups, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, brokerage firm founder Charles Schwab and hedge fund executive Stephen Schwarzman, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures filed Thursday. Bloomberg gave $20 million to the Senate Majority PAC, while philanthropist Herbert Sandler gave $1.5 million and media mogul Haim Saban gave $1 million.” [Bloomberg]

Michael Bloomberg drops $9.5 million on ads targeting GOP Reps. Rohrabacher and Knight in midterm election — by Michael Finnegan: “Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee has launched a major ad campaign aimed at unseating Republican Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa and Steve Knight of Palmdale… Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC reported spending $4.4 million on advertising against Rohrabacher and $5.1 million to promote Knight’s Democratic challenger, Katie Hill.” [LATimes]

Holocaust memorial group unwittingly funded Rep. King’s meeting with far-right Austrians — by Mike Debonis: “Rep. Steve King met with members of a far-right Austrian party with historical Nazi ties during a European trip financed by a Holocaust memorial group… King spoke to the Unzensuriert site Aug. 24 in Vienna, a day after concluding a five-day journey to Jewish and Holocaust historical sites in Poland, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The trip… was financed by From the Depths, an international nonprofit that seeks to educate lawmakers about the Holocaust.”

“In an interview Thursday, King… accused his “political opposition” of “ginning this up” ahead of the Nov. 6 election… King described his travels in Poland as a “very, very powerful experience” but also described later visiting historical sites separately from the From the Depths group to get a “Polish perspective” on the Holocaust… King defended his meetings in Vienna with Freedom Party members, noting that its leaders are participating in the Austrian government and that they “completely reject any kind of Nazi ideology or philosophy.”

“On Thursday, King… went on to repeat unfounded allegations that Soros, as a young teenager in occupied Hungary, collaborated with authorities against his fellow Jews. “Me pointing out the activities of George Soros is a matter of pointing out the facts, and there is no reason to refrain from the real truth,” he said. “I don’t think about George Soros as a Jew. I think about him as an operator, a leftist operator that’s been engaged in upsetting freedom and [being] more or less an enemy of conservatism.” [WashPost]

FL Gov — Gillum says he supports Israel; DeSantis gets Pence’s help — by Terry Spencer: “[Andrew Gillum] told about 500 people at Temple Kol Ami Emmanu-El near Fort Lauderdale that he will not appoint anyone who supports a boycott of Israel, and he backs funding to provide security to Jewish schools. Gillum told the crowd of mostly supporters that he is a “deep and unapologetic supporter of Israel” and has visited the country three times… He said he will “stand up any time anti-Semitism rears its head.” [ABCNews

IL Gov — Pritzker Breaks Campaign Finance Record, Annoys Illinois With $80 Million Of Ads — by Tony Arnold: “Campaign finance records show [J. B.] Pritzker has spent about $80 million on digital and TV advertising so far, ranging from casting Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner as a failed governor to declaring his love of puppies. While Pritzker has enjoyed the luxury of a double-digit lead over Rauner in recent polls, his ads show no sign of slowing down.” [NPR]

CO Gov — Jared Polis Wants to Disrupt Colorado Politics —by Lisa Wirthman: “Polis—the first openly gay person elected to Congress, who, if he wins, would be both Colorado’s first gay and Jewish governor—is seeking to lead the state with his unique blend of policy expertise, startup acumen, and fearless gumption. And with 39 percent of voters (and half of voters 25 and under) refusing to affiliate with a political party, Colorado is a state ripe for political disruption. “I like to think of myself as somebody who is bold and always offers new ideas,” Polis says… Polis credits his parents—who he calls every day (as his mother testified in a recent Facebook comment)—for instilling in him a sense of civic duty.” [5280]

2020 WATCH — Bernie Sanders Isn’t Tired. He’s “Just Waking Up” — by Ruby Cramer: “At 77, Bernie Sanders might say he’s old, but he will never tell you he’s tired. On the tour, built to drive Democratic turnout in college towns and liberal pockets of red states like Iowa and Arizona, Sanders is greeted as part celebrity, part familiar face… On the road, Sanders is obsessive about how many people are following his tour via Facebook and Twitter. Of the staff he’s brought along with him, nearly half are dedicated to video and social media. At every stop, they chase after him with a camera. Everything is filmed and livestreamed and tweeted.”

“He is particularly interested in how his reach compares to traditional news outlets… “Ari! Ari.” He turns to Ari Rabin-Havt, another senior adviser. “What did we get? A million and a half, 2 million people watching that income inequality town meeting?” “A million and a half — 1.6 million,” Rabin-Havt answers. “We had far more people than CNN that night,” says Sanders.” [BuzzzFeed

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Dan Loeb sues Campbell Soup in bid to delay annual meeting [NYPost] • Larry Ellison criticizes Apple for fighting FBI request to hack shooter’s iPhone [BusinessInsider] • Google reportedly protected Andy Rubin [Bloomberg] • Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, says the pressure of higher wages is having an impact on the hotel business [CNBC] • Adam Pritzker’s Assembled Brands Raises $100M in Capital from Oaktree to Provide Credit Financing to Next Generation Brands [BusinessWire]

VIDEO FROM TEL AVIV — Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff reminisces on a Davos meeting with the late Shimon Peres during a conversation with Dr. David Agus at the Prime Minister’s Israeli Innovation Summit on Thursday. [Video]

University Backed by George Soros Prepares to Leave Budapest Under Duress — by Benjamin Novak and Marc Santora: “Now, as Hungary drifts toward authoritarian rule under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the [Central European University] says it is being forced to close its Budapest campus, portraying itself as a victim of Mr. Orban’s efforts to vilify Mr. Soros… On Thursday, university officials said they would stop admitting new students in Budapest after failing to resolve a dispute with the government over a new law that appeared to require it to open a branch in the United States. “For 18 months, we have defended our right to remain as a U.S. degree-granting institution in Budapest, but we are unable to secure the guarantees we need from the Hungarian government to preserve our academic freedom,” the university’s president, Michael Ignatieff, said at a news conference… Mr. Ignatieff said that the university’s central operations would be moved to Vienna.” [NYTimes]

In Two New Books, Unhappy Conservatives Ask: What Now? — by Jennifer Szalai: “The Corrosion of Conservatism” does double duty as a mea culpa memoir and a political manifesto, detailing [Max] Boot’s “heartbreaking divorce” from the Republican Party after decades of unstinting loyalty. He charts a political trajectory that gave his life social and emotional meaning. As the 6-year-old son of Jewish refuseniks, Boot emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1976; at 13, he was inducted by his father into the world of “learned, worldly, elitist” conservatism with a gift subscription to National Review.” [NYT]

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND — Over 1 million to ditch phones for Day of Rest, says South Africa’s chief rabbi — by Yaakov Schwartz: “This year, the Shabbat Project, which begins sundown on Friday, October 26 and lasts for 25 hours until the conclusion of the Jewish day of rest, has grown to include participants in over 1,400 cities across 98 countries worldwide. [South African Chief Rabbi Warren] Goldstein, who is Orthodox, said that unifying diverse groups of Jews was one of his major goals in founding the program – as can be seen by the project’s tagline: “Keeping it Together.” [ToI]

SPORTS BLINK — Michael Jordan jumps into e-sports, joining Team Liquid ownership group: “Basketball legend Michael Jordan will invest in the Los Angeles-based e-sports ownership group aXiomatic Gaming… during a $26-million round of Series B funding. The round is being led by Jordan, investing through his family office, and Declaration Capital, the family office of Carlyle Group billionaire co-founder David Rubenstein… Lakers legend and current president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who also owns part of the Dodgers, is a major investor. The firm’s ownership group includes Dodgers and Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber.” [LATimes]

HEADLINE — “Schmaltz Makes Key Play as Blackhawks Beat Rangers 4-1” [NYTimes]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Flam Family Heritage — by Yitz Applbaum:“Sometimes the best things in life are right in front of your nose and you just cannot see them. I have passed the Flam Family Reserve at the Ben Gurion Airport duty free shop hundreds of times and never thought to buy it. This past Shabbat I needed to be in Dublin and picked up the bottle as I was running to catch a flight. The Family Heritage ended up brightening an otherwise dreary and cold Shabbat dinner.”

“This wine is brilliant. It is cacophony of five different grapes. The Cabernet Franc and Merlot give you an earthy mushroom flavor, while the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot blend together like a mixed bowl of fresh blueberries and sour cream. This wine can lift you out of any sour mood you may be in and make you feel good about yourself and your surroundings. This wine pairs exceptionally well with sea bass or cod. I would strongly suggest putting as many bottles of this as you can fit in your suitcase while this wine remains available.” [FlamWinery

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turns 71… Actress who has appeared in 25 films plus 68 episodes of Will & Grace, Shelley Morrison (born into a Sephardic family as Rachel Mitrani) turns 82… South African judge who led the notorious 2009 UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Richard Goldstone turns 80… Actress best known as one of Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981 TV series), Jaclyn Smith (family name was Kupferschmidt) turns 73… Evie Sullivanturns 72… Rabbi of Congregation K.I.N.S. and Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy, both in Chicago, he is a past president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Leonard Matanky, Ph.D. turns 60… Director of Communications at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy since 2011, he was formerly at Hillel, Jeffrey Rubin turns 59… Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiffturns 57… Founding Partner and President of Global Strategy Group, who served for 15 years as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Jefrey Pollock turns 47… Figure skater who won a 2006 Olympic silver medal, plus three World Championship medals and the 2006 U.S. Championship, Alexandra Pauline “Sasha” Cohen turns 34… Senior product manager at CoStar Group, Danielle Feldman (h/t Playbook)… Alberto Calo… Evan May

SATURDAY: Gordon Gerson turns 82… Producer and director of many popular films including Animal House, Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Twins, Ivan Reitman turns 72… Rabbi at Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom (1985-2018), now Rabbi Emeritus, Gary Glickstein turns 71… Author, actress and comedienne, Fran Lebowitz turns 68… Specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the Congressional Research Service (an arm of the US Congress), Dr. Kenneth Katzman turns 59… EVP of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a director of English football club Manchester United, both teams owned by his family, he is the son of the late Malcolm Glazer, Bryan Glazer turns 54… Television meteorologist, currently working for The Weather Channel, Stephanie Abrams turns 40… Appropriations associate and foreign affairs legislative assistant for Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY-17), she was previously director of government affairs for JFNA, Elizabeth (Liz) Leibowitz turns 30… Co-founder of Arch, Ryan Eisenman

SUNDAY: Actress best known for her TV roles as Judy Miller in CBS’s “Still Standing” and as Debbie Weaver in ABC’s “The Neighbors,” she is an owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Jami Gertz turns 53… Spiritual leader of the Village of New Square (Rockland County, NY) and Hasidic Rebbe of Skverer Hasidism worldwide, Rabbi Dovid Twersky turns 78… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, she also serves as Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Sofa Landver turns 69… Philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates turns 63… Sixth President of Iran (2005-2013) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turns 62… Member of the Knesset for Likud since 2015, he serves as the Deputy Minister of Construction, he was mayor of Beit She’an (2002-2013), Jackie Levy turns 58… Manager of MLB’s Oakland Athletics since 2011, Bob Melvin turns 57… Creator and editor of the Drudge Report, previously an author and host of radio and TV shows, Matt Drudge turns 52… Member of the Knesset for Likud since 2015, Oren Hazan turns 37… Larry Berlin

Kafe Knesset for August 18

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bait and switch: As usual, the Barcelona terror attack was widely and quickly denounced by everyone in the Israeli political system. But the PM appeared to be putting…

Kafe Knesset for August 17

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Alternative realities: The front pages of the two biggest Israeli newspapers – Noni Mozes’s Yediot Aharonot and Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom, are many times mirror images of each…

RJC, Orthodox Groups Reject Trump’s ‘Both Sides’ Remarks

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jewish groups, with some members that have been more sympathetic to President Trump in recent months, have joined the widespread criticism against the President for drawing a moral…

State Dept Annual Report Critiques Israeli Actions in West Bank

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

WASHINGTON – In a move likely to upset conservative supporters of President Donald Trump, a new State Department report released on Tuesday criticized both Israeli and Palestinian policies…

Kafe Knesset for August 16

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Just one side: President Trump’s controversial press conference, backtracking from his condemnation of white supremacists in Charlottesville in favor of blaming “both sides,”drew strong criticism in Israel. Justice…

Kafe Knesset for August 15

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eyes on Pyongyang: The Israeli media has been following the US-North Korea standoff quite closely in recent days. Several media outlets have sent special correspondents to report from…