Daily Kickoff: Remembering Dr. Charles Krauthammer | Will Trump’s peace plan be ‘Gaza first’? | How Rep. Seth Moulton won Mike Bloomberg over

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REMEMBERING — Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur, dies at 68 — by Adam Bernstein: “Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and intellectual provocateur who championed the muscular foreign policy of neoconservatism… died June 21 at 68… Known for acerbic, unsparing prose and hawkishness on U.S. and Israeli security matters, Dr. Krauthammer long directed his moral indignation at the “liberal monopoly” on the news cycle… On Israeli-Palestinian relations, he acknowledged the suffering on both sides but firmly defended the Jewish state in what he saw as its existential battle for survival.”

“Dr. Krauthammer said his politics were shaped by growing up in the post-Holocaust years with Jewish parents who had escaped the Nazis in Europe. He grew up attuned to the “tragic element in history,” he once told a C-SPAN interviewer. “It tempers your optimism and your idealism… You don’t expect that much out of human nature. And you are prepared for the worst.” [WashPost

“Mr. Krauthammer was born on March 13, 1950, in Manhattan to Orthodox Jewish immigrants. His father, Shulim, a lawyer who spoke nine languages, came to New York from Ukraine through France and Cuba, where he met Thea Horowitz, who would become his wife. She had left Belgium the day the Germans invaded, May 10, 1940, and later translated American military manuals for the Free French army.” [NYT]

Things that matter, in the words of Charles Krauthammer — “Everyone’s Jewish,” Sept. 25, 2006 — “Apart from its political irrelevance, it seems improbable in the extreme that the cowboy-boots-wearing football scion of Southern manner and speech [former Virginia governor George Allen] should turn out to be, at least by origins, a son of Israel. For Allen, as he quipped to me, it’s the explanation for a lifelong affinity for Hebrew National hot dogs. For me, it is the ultimate confirmation of something I have been regaling friends with for 20 years and now, for the advancement of social science, feel compelled to publish.”

“Do we really mean ‘never again’?” Jan. 30, 2015 — “On the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, mourning dead Jews is easy. And, forgive me, cheap. Want to truly honor the dead? Show solidarity with the living — Israel and its 6 million Jews.” [WashPost]

George Will writes… “Charles Krauthammer’s death leaves a huge void: Dictating columns when not driving himself around Washington in a specially designed van that he operated while seated in his motorized wheelchair, crisscrossing the country to deliver speeches to enthralled audiences, Charles drew on reserves of energy and willpower to overcome a multitude of daily challenges, any one of which would cause most people to curl up in a fetal position… Some people are such a large presence while living that they still occupy space even when they are gone.” [NYPost]

UPDATE — Morton Klein emails us this morning… “ZOA learned from a FARA filing (Foreign Agents Registration Act) report this week that a donation from a wealthy businessman to buy two tables at the ZOA Gala Dinner last year may very well be linked to Qatar funds he received. Even though this gift was perfectly legal, and since ZOA would never knowingly accept funds from Qatar, ZOA has returned the entire $100,000 to the donor. It should be understood that ZOA received the money purely as a donation to support our pro-Israel work on campuses, on Capitol Hill, in the courts, in the media and in Israel. There was never a hint of a quid pro quo or conditions placed with this donation. Neither ZOA or Morton Klein ever praised or lobbied for Qatar and, in fact, have strongly and publicly criticized Qatar’s actions and policies. (which can be found at ZOA .org). It’s also important to point out that during days of wall-to-wall meetings with Qatar’s Emir, Speaker of their Parliament and other Qatari officials with whom Mort Klein met, we distributed a comprehensive 50 page research report which detailed all of ZOA’s demands for specific changes in Qatar’s policies affecting Israel and the Jewish people. This report can also be found at ZOA.org.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jared Kushner and Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt in Jerusalem this morning on the final leg of their Middle East tour.

White House readout: “Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt returned to Israel and met today with Ambassador David Friedman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They discussed the means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated, while maintaining Israel’s security. They further discussed the continued commitment of the Trump Administration and Israel to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

The Prime Minister’s Office in a statement: “Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his gratitude for President Trump’s support for Israel. The teams discussed advancing the diplomatic process, developments in the region and the security and humanitarian situations in Gaza.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman called it a “great meeting” and shared a photo of the group of five in Jerusalem. [Pic]

Trump’s Palestinian aid-for-peace moves face tough challenges — by David Wainer and Margaret Talev: “The Trump administration’s Middle East negotiators… will be discussing ways to avert a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and create jobs in the West Bank while in the region this week, said two Israeli officials… The U.S. believes a stronger Palestinian economy could bolster peace prospects, a White House official said… “I have no doubt the administration would like to be able to show that it’s affecting matters on the ground, because that would create a more favorable context” for presenting the peace plan, said Dennis Ross, a former U.S. diplomat who was involved in efforts to resolve the conflict. Still, “that doesn’t mean that you get the Palestinians immediately back to the negotiating table,” he said.”[Bloomberg

— “Jordanian King Abdullah II said Thursday that there will not be peace in the Middle East without establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.” [Reuters

Jordan king heads to US for Trump meeting: “Jordan’s King Abdullah II set off for the United States on Thursday for talks with US President Donald Trump on Middle East issues including the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the palace said. Accompanied by his wife Rania, the monarch is also scheduled to meet with senior officials from the Trump administration and members of Congress… His meeting with Trump is expected to take place at the White House on Monday.” [YahooNews]

Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, tells us… “I think this is the ‘check the box’ trip. If Trump wants to present a peace plan then they have to go through the motions and the reality of coming up with a plan. But the U.S. cannot assume that it can shower Israel with honey so that it would be impossible for Netanyahu to say no. You can’t buy Bibi no matter what you give him. If you are going to ask him to do hard things then you are going to end up having to fight him, and I don’t think they want to fight him.”

“There will be things in this plan Bibi won’t like, but in my judgment, it will allow Bibi to say to the President that after several considerations, ‘I have reservations, but I give you a yes, but.’ But I don’t think they will have enough for the Arabs to make sure that MBS stands up and endorses the plan full stop. The Palestinians will almost certainly say no.”

“With some course correction, if they wanted to, the administration could create a credible basis for negotiations. I just don’t think that given where the President stands on Israel, given the headaches that will arise with Evangelicals if they touch the Jerusalem issue in a way that would satisfy the Palestinians, I think you are going to end up with a fight. And since Trump has come to a conclusion that the real glory is North Korea, it would be worth fighting with the Israelis under only one set of circumstances, and that is if Trump could actually get a deal. But there are so many things wrong with this approach, and there are so many moving parts that I can’t believe that Greenblatt, Kushner and Trump believe that this could create a basis for negotiations.”

Tamara Cofman Wittes‏ tweets“Israelis I’ve spoken to seem to think there might be a real peace plan or at least some language hard for Bibi to accept, for example on Palestinian statehood. I’m not so sure. I imagine that what Greenblatt/Kushner are hearing from leaders in Israel and the Gulf is mostly about Gaza… Gaza is what creates political and PR problems for Gulf leaders, not the fate of the West Bank… Gaza is the subject of the only serious international meeting Greenblatt has convened in DC so far. And I bet he thinks Gaza can be the platform for a new US new peace initiative…”

“My prediction: if/when The plan is finally released, it will be “Gaza first.” It will mobilize international including Gulf aid to improve Gaza Palestinians’ lives with projects while seeking to undermine/displace Hamas rule there… It will seek to use success in Gaza to raise hopes and lay groundwork for the resumption of negotiations on final status. It might suggest others join those negotiations in place of previous bilats. But it might not specify when negotiations might resume, on what basis, or to what end.”

ROYAL VISIT — British milestones in Holy Land set traditional foundation for royal visit — by Maayan Lubell: “Prince William will become on Monday the first British royal to pay an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, 70 years after British forces withdrew from the Holy Land leaving behind the divisions that remain to this day… He will stay in Jerusalem at the King David hotel, once the headquarters of British authorities… William will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He will also visit religious sites, Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust dead, and the tomb of his great-grandmother Princess Alice.” [Reuters]

UK defends calling Jerusalem Old City part of ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ — by Raphael Ahren: “The British ambassador to Israel on Thursday defended describing Jerusalem’s Old City as being part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” in the itinerary for Prince William’s upcoming visit to Israel and the West Bank. “All the terminology that was used in the program was consistent with years of practice by British governments. It’s consistent with British government policy,” David Quarrey said… “It’s the first official visit by a senior member of the royal family. I think it’s going to be a great success,” the ambassador said.” [ToI]

ON THE GROUND — Iran, Hezbollah Pull Back From Israeli Border At Russia’s Request, Syrian Watchdog Group Says — by Jason Lemon: “Iran, Hezbollah and other Tehran-backed militias in Syria have begun withdrawing from the disputed Golan Heights border with Israel, a watchdog group announced Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the militants were headed 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the border, in response to Russian demands following previously reported negotiations between Moscow and Israel.” [Newsweek]

Amos Harel writes… “In recent weeks, it seems the Pompeo document is beginning to take effect. It is not just the apparent avalanche of American companies, and to a lesser extent European firms, that are abandoning planned deals with Tehran. The Iranians are beginning to feel the pressure in other places too, along the entire Shi’ite Crescent – the front on which they leveraged their influence in recent years, from Lebanon and Syria in the north to Bahrain in the east and Yemen in the south.” [Haaretz]

HEARD YESTERDAY ON NPR’S FRESH AIR — Emily Jane Fox, author of the new book Born Trump, on reports that Ivanka Trump helped convince her father to sign an executive order to end the separation of families at the U.S. border“Knowing what I know, having reported on Ivanka Trump for Vanity Fair for almost three years now … it’s hard to make that justification that she would be the person who has that much influence, only because we have seen time and time again stories leaked to the press about [how] Ivanka expressed her concern over the travel ban, Ivanka expressed her concern behind the scenes over the Paris Climate Accord. And in those instances, her private advocacy made no difference… I think it would be significantly overstating her influence to say that the president changed his mind on Wednesday because of what Ivanka Trump showed him on Tuesday.” [NPR]

The West Wing Is Fracturing Over Trump’s Callous Migrant-Family Policy — by Gabriel Sherman: “There are echoes of Charlottesville, with the president digging himself deeper, even as the midterms loom. “This is brutal,” said one Republican close to the president. “Trump is riding high in the polls, and it’s playing into his mental state that he’s invincible.” … “Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border,” an outside White House adviser said. “He’s a twisted guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waffen-SS.”” [VanityFair]

White House aide Miller targeted in backlash over family separations — by Nancy Cook: “Among White House insiders, there is a sense that the president’s senior adviser for policy is a bad front man for the issue he’s most passionate about. Miller stayed entirely out of the spotlight during days of mounting political pressure… “He led the president down a path that again ended in disaster,” said one Republican congressional staffer. “The Muslim ban and the immigration executive order are things that have activated both sides of the aisle and caused widespread pushback and disgust. I just think the president should think twice before following in his lead in the future on these issues.” [Politico]

2018 WATCH — Moulton urges Bloomberg to back vets’ races — by Liz Goodwin: “Eight years ago, a young Marine Corps veteran approached Mayor Michael Bloomberg while Bloomberg was eating a hamburger with his then-girlfriend at J.G. Melon on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Marine interrupted Bloomberg’s meal to tell him that he had strong feelings on the mayor’s controversial support for a group that wanted to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Bloomberg braced himself. “This is going to ruin my hamburger,” he thought. “I really appreciate your stance on the mosque because I think you’re upholding the values that I fought for overseas,” the veteran told Bloomberg, shocking the mayor.”

“Years later, the mogul is now helping that veteran, Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, in Moulton’s political time of need. Bloomberg announced this week he’s spending $80 million this cycle to boost Democratic candidates, which, according to longtime aide Howard Wolfson, will include at least some of the military veterans Moulton has helped assemble to run for House seats.” [BostonGlobe]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Does Apollo Need Investors? Leon Black mastered the art of raising capital. His successors don’t want to [InstitutionalInvestor] • Shari Redstone’s Path to Power [WSJ] • Trumps and Kushners Cut Ties on Hotel Deals That Raised Eyebrows [NYTimes]  Israeli named as new CEO of Virgin Atlantic [ToI] • Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess visits Israel, meets with Netanyahu and the CEOs of Gett and Mobileye [Globes] • Jonathan Litt wants Hudson’s Bay to tap into its real estate potential[TheRealDeal] • Showfields signs lease to take over NoHo retail building [NYPost

SPOTLIGHT: Two Titans’ Rocky Relationship Stands Between Comcast and Fox — by Shalini Ramachandran and Keach Hagey: “Throughout this drama, Comcast appears to have been on the outside looking in. One big reason is [Brian] Roberts’s strained relationships with the other executives at the table: 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman Mr. Murdoch, who is selling prime pieces of the empire he created over six decades, and Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger. “Rupert loves Bob Iger, though their politics are completely different,” a person close to him said. “He doesn’t want Brian Roberts.” [WSJ]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker discussed the Trump Administration’s recent action to enforce its immigration policy on the Recode Decode podcast with Kara Swisher: “I don’t get the [administration’s immigration] policy. I really don’t understand it. First of all, we’re a country of immigrants. I’m the great-granddaughter of an immigrant. I went back to Ukraine, which is where my family came from. I went to the 75th anniversary of Babi Yar, where the 32,000 Jews were killed. Frankly, I wouldn’t be alive today if my great-grandfather had not immigrated. We have benefited from immigration. We’ve benefited not just economically but as the mosaic that is our country has benefited from all kinds of thinking.” [Recode]

Charlottesville rally organizer requests permit for ‘white civil rights rally’ in Washington — by Sophie Tatum: “The organizer of last year’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is looking to hold a “white civil rights rally” in front of the White House in August. National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst confirmed Thursday an application for the event from Jason Kessler has been received. The event has been approved but the permit has not yet been issued, as the National Park Service is gathering information from the organizers about the event’s details… The dates requested by Kessler, August 11-12, mark the one-year anniversary of the events in Charlottesville.” [CNN]

Jerusalem backlash casts shadow over Eurovision contest — by Tia Goldenberg: “When the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israelis hoped other countries would follow suit. Instead, the move has created a backlash. The latest setback threatens the contested city’s hopes of hosting the 2019 Eurovision song contest — an affair that has become something of a national obsession… Hosting the competition in Jerusalem could present a predicament for the public broadcasters that make up the European Broadcasting Union, sparking criticism that they are taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EBU took the unusual step of announcing this week that it will choose the host city after a bid process. Israel is expected to present four cities as potential hosts, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”[AP]

Anti-Israeli Former MP George Galloway Spotted Dining at an… Israeli Cafe — by Eylon Aslan-Levy: “Anti-Israel politician George Galloway was spotted having lunch at an Israeli cafe in London’s Camden Market on Thursday afternoon. Galloway, a former British MP, is known as one of the vociferous voices against Israel in Britain. He is a firm supporter of a boycott against Israel, who once declared Bradford—the northern English city where he was the local MP—as an “Israeli free zone”… Yet, all these staunchly anti-Israeli opinions did not stop Galloway from walking into an Israeli-owned cafe and enjoying a quintessentially Israeli breakfast: A shakshuka, which he picked from a menu that included such Israeli delights as challah bread, borekas, and Jerusalem salad.” [Tablet]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYA leading securities, corporate and M&A attorney, he is a founding partner of the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Martin Lipton turns 87… United States Senator from California since 1992, Dianne Feinstein turns 85… Jerusalem-born 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, she is the director of a research center at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ada Yonath turns 79… UK judge, who chaired high profile hearings on ethics in the media, prompted by the 2011 News of the World phone hacking affair, Sir Brian Henry Leveson turns 75… Winner of the the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics, professor at Brown University, J. Michael Kosterlitz turns 75… A justice on Israel’s Supreme Court (2004-2014), previously she was the Israeli State Prosecutor (1996-2004), Edna Arbel turns 74… Member of the California State Assembly since 2012, Richard Hershel Bloom turns 65… Immediate past President of the UJA – Federation of New York, Alisa Robbins Doctoroff… Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Jonathon Shulkin turns 59… Democratic member of Congress since 2001, he is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff turns 58… Creator of the Android operating system which he sold to Google, Andrew E. “Andy” Rubin turns 56… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party since 2009, he is currently serving as Minister of Tourism, Yariv Gideon Levin turns 49… VP of Jewish and Israel Initiatives at the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, Rafi M. Roneturns 47… Second baseman for MLB’s Los Angeles Angels since 2018, Ian Kinsler turns 36… Russian-Israeli Internet entrepreneur, Lev Binzumovich Leviev turns 34… Baltimore-based endodontist, Jeffrey H. Gardyn, DDS turns 32… Israeli-born NBA player since 2009, Omri Casspi turns 30… Outfielder in the Washington Nationals organization, started all three games for Team Israel in the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier round, Rhett Wiseman turns 24… 

SATURDAYProfessor of medicine and health care policy at Harvard, Samuel O. Thier, M.D. turns 81… Real estate developer and co-founder of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer turns 78… Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, for 40 years, the grandson of a synagogue cantor, James Levine turns 75… Senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in DC, Robert D. Kaplan turns 66… Writer who has been published by the New York Times and the Mobile Press-Register, Roy Hoffman turns 65… Los Angeles-based activist, restaurateur and fundraiser, a 2008 Lifetime Television movie starring Renée Zellweger portrayed her cancer fighting efforts, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz turns 65… Klezmer expert, violinist, composer Yale Stromturns 61… President and CEO of Amplify Public Affairs, Robin Strongin turns 59… Award-winning actress and producer, Kyra Sedgwick turns 53… Member of the front office of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles since 2000, General Manager (2010-2014) and then EVP of football operations of the Eagles, Howie Roseman turns 43… Founder of Innovation Africa to bring more reliable electricity to developing communities throughout Africa, Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari turns 40… Actress and comedienne, best known for playing Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on Seasons 4 and 5 of CBS’s sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Melissa Rauch turns 38… Actress, singer and model, Marielle Jaffe turns 29… Ethiopian-born Israeli model who won the title of Miss Israel in 2013, Yityish Aynaw turns 27… Josh Lauder turns 23… Communications Assistant at West End Strategy Team, Jessica Johnson

SUNDAY: Former chief rabbi of Denmark (1969-1996), Rabbi Bent Melchior turns 89… Businessman and philanthropist, Sir Donald Gordonturns 88… Member of Congress (D-NJ-8) from 1993-1995, Herb Klein turns 88… Activist investor, a co-founder of Trian Fund Management, Nelson Peltzturns 76… Former Chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, Seymour “Sy” Sternberg turns 75… Professor of Jewish theology at the American Jewish University and chairman of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff turns 75… Founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Rabbi Avraham Haim Yosef (Avi) Weiss turns 74… Former Secretary of Labor (1993-97), author and professor at UC Berkeley, Robert Reich turns 72… Former Chief of Staff of the IDF and then Israeli Defense Minister, Lt. General (reserve) Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon turns 68… Member of the Canadian House of Commons from Hamilton, Ontario since 2006, he is a former CEO of Promise Keepers Canada, David Sweet turns 61… Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College, a co-educational Jewish day school with over 1,500 students from K to 12, located in Melbourne, Australia, Rabbi James Kennard turns 54… The first on-air talent of the NFL Network, Rich Eisen turns 49… Israeli businesswoman and owner of the soccer team, Hapoel Beer Sheva, her brother-in-law is the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, Alona Barkat turns 49… Author and columnist, Shulem Deen turns 44… Singer and songwriter Ariel Pink, born Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, turns 40… Editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti turns 37… VP of Houston-based RIDA Development, Steven C. Mitzner turns  32… A 2015 contestant on Jeopardy! winning 13 consecutive episodes, Matthew Barnett “Matt” Jackson turns 26… Chief Creative Officer at WildBrow MediaWorks, Peter Grossman… Sam Gill… Lois Charles… Ruth Weinstein… Mo Gruber




Daily Kickoff: Is Bloomberg running? | New Jewish Agency Chairman: Isaac Herzog | Sara Netanyahu charged with fraud | Brian Roberts vs. Bob Iger

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2018 WATCH — Michael Bloomberg Will Spend $80 Million on the Midterms. His Goal: Flip the House — by Alex Burns: “Mr. Bloomberg… has approved a plan to pour at least $80 million into the 2018 election, with the bulk of that money going to support Democratic congressional candidates, advisers to Mr. Bloomberg said… After moving freely between elite circles in both parties for years, Mr. Bloomberg is now poised to become one of the Democrats’ most important benefactors.”

“His spending on House campaigns appears likely to exceed the involvement of donors like Sheldon Adelson, the Republican casino billionaire who recently donated $30 million to a “super PAC” aligned with Speaker Paul D. Ryan… Bloomberg’s 2018 effort is to be overseen by Howard Wolfson, a close adviser who is a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”

“Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a centrist Democrat who recently hosted Mr. Bloomberg at an event on Capitol Hill, said the former mayor could be most helpful in the “purple-ish” areas where Democrats hope to gain the most ground… “From my perspective, I want more pro-business, moderate Democrats in Congress next year.”

FIRST JEWISH POTUS? “In a sign of Mr. Bloomberg’s deep alienation from the Republican Party, he has recently told associates that if he were to run for president in 2020, he would likely do so as a Democrat… It is unclear whether Mr. Bloomberg, who would be 78 on Election Day in 2020, is actively contemplating another presidential campaign or simply leaving the door open to the possibility.” [NYTimes]

— Is Bloomberg making a big step to run for president as a Democrat? — by James Pindell: “I have no doubt that the mayor wants to see a check on the excesses of Trump,” said David Axelrod, former chief strategist to President Obama. “But if Bloomberg, who was a Democrat once, were to announce his full reentry into the party prior to a run, this would be one good way to do it.” [BostonGlobe]

Michael Cohen resigns from RNC committee post, sources say — by Eliana Larramendia and Zunaira Zaki: “In his resignation letter to Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chair, Cohen cited the ongoing special counsel investigation as one reason for his departure…Cohen also criticized the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the southern border, the first time he’s distanced himself from the president. “As the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching,” Cohen wrote.” [ABCNews

RJC AD BUY — The Republican Jewish Coalition announced yesterday its first independent expenditure of the 2018 election cycle — a $530,000 ad buy to defend Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s seat in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District. The 30-second ad highlights the first-term incumbent’s Democratic challenger Scott Wallace’s support of the BDS movement as head of the Wallace Global Fund.

GOP Senate nominee Corey Stewart endorsed Paul Nehlen months after he shared white nationalist content — by Andrew Kaczynski: “In a video obtained by CNN’s KFile, Nehlen and Stewart can be seen together at an event at the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC… on November 2, 2017… “He’s going to do great work for us in the Senate,” Nehlen says of Stewart in the video. “He’s going to do great work for us in the Senate. I’m thrilled about Corey. Yeah. Thrilled about Corey running.” Stewart, responding to Ruby, says he hopes Nehlen is elected and praises him as a “real conservative.” … The timing of the endorsement undercuts his current explanation that he had only praised Nehlen prior to him making “bigoted” statements.” [CNN]

Memoir by father of Florida state attorney candidate raised as campaign issue — by Michael Braun: “Standing on the steps of the old Lee County Courthouse (in Florida) on Wednesday, attorney Chris Crowley pitched a challenge to Chief Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox about a 10-year-old book written by her father recounting his life growing up in Palestinian territories. “I’m very concerned about my opponent,” Crowley said, “having a radical anti-Semitic, anti-Israel book dedicated to her.”” [NewsPress]

AT THE UN — Allies Disappointed by ‘Big Bang’ of US Walkout From UN Body — by Jamey Keaten: “The U.N.’s Human Rights Council resumed work Wednesday after a U.S. pullout that one Western diplomat called a “Big Bang” for the Geneva body, as Russia blasted the move by the Trump administration and key allies expressed disappointment… Defending the move, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said Wednesday “we don’t need advice by the U.N. or other international bodies on how to govern ourselves.” Bolton told Fox News the decision was made by President Donald Trump weeks ago.” [AP

Haley Blames Watchdog Groups for U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Rights Council — by Gardiner Harris: “In a scathing letter, Nikki R. Haley… criticized [human rights watchdog] organizations for opposing her failed push last month for a General Assembly vote on changes to the council.” [NYTimes]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli officials concerned by U.S. pullout from human rights council — by Barak Ravid: “Senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials tell me the timing of the U.S. withdrawal is problematic because it comes a few months before current UN human rights commissioner Prince Zaid Bin Raad ends his term. They hoped the U.S. would at least stay… to ensure the person appointed for the job is more balanced. The Israeli officials say there are at least two big anti-Israeli initiatives which will be much harder to block or deal with now that the U.S. has left the council: The publication of the database or “Black list” of Israeli and international companies which operate in the Jewish settlements… and the Golan Heights… [and] the formation of a commission of inquiry on the violent clashes on the border between Israel and Gaza.” [Axios]

Former UN Ambassador Susan Rice tweeted the Axios story, adding: “No sh*t, guys.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — U.S. close to releasing Mideast peace proposal that Palestinian leadership may immediately reject — by Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris: “The proposal is likely to be released within weeks, with the aim of beginning negotiations between the parties, perhaps as early as this summer, diplomats and other officials said… “If [Mahmoud Abbas] doesn’t give it a read… well shame on him,” a senior Trump administration official said. “How does that help the Palestinian people?” The exact timing of a release is not set… “We have one shot, right? We want to get it right.” [WashPost

Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh yesterday to discuss humanitarian aid to Gaza, and “the Trump Administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” according to the White House. The visit came a day after Kushner and Greenblatt met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman. The U.S. negotiation team will met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and visit Qatar today before heading to Israel for the weekend.

Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute, discussed the importance of Kushner’s visit to Jordan in an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh: “King Abdullah is probably the only leader who has good relations with all three main actors: Israel, the Palestinians and the U.S., and as such is seen by the U.S. Administration as a key player. Yet, in recent months there has been some worry in Jordan that it is being crowded out of its traditional role in the peace process. The visit by Kushner serves the dual purpose of consulting with King Abdullah and assuring him of the centrality of Jordan’s role. Nonetheless, the Kushner-Greenblatt trip is said to be focused more on Gaza stabilization than a peace deal, and Jordan’s main role is to bring Abbas to the table. Jordan is the only country that can do that. But given Jordan’s other preoccupationsthese days, I doubt they are overly eager to expend political capital on applying pressure on Abbas.”

Al-Omari on the Abdullah-Bibi meeting in Amman on Monday: “The Abdullah-Bibi relationship got tense after the Embassy and Al-Aqsa incidentslast year. The visit by Bibi was important to clear the air. But I think it is a step too far to say they are coordinating on a peace plan, simply because as of yet this plan has not been revealed, and the two countries have opposing views on some key issues (and similar views and interests on others). Instead, Bibi’s visit focused on other issues, many of which aimed at improving Jordan stability (red-dead canal, West Bank trade).”

Kushner’s ties to Israeli firms at issue as he visits region on peace mission — by Michael Kranish: “The diplomatic stakes for Kushner are extraordinarily high as he prepares to arrive in Israel on Friday, seeking to fulfill a challenge made by his father-in-law, President Trump, who said last year that if Kushner “can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.” For Kushner, the trip could be a reputation maker or breaker… Aaron David Miller… said Kushner’s Israeli ties make his peace mission even more challenging because of perceptions of bias. In the past, he said, he and some others on the U.S. negotiating team were accused of favoring Israel’s position because they were Jewish, but that “doesn’t even begin to match the pro-Israeli bias” of Kushner.” [WashPost]

ON THE GROUND — ‘Israel Might Have No Choice but to Launch a Large-scale Military Operation in Gaza,’ Minister Says — by Yaniv Kubovich: “Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday that Israel might be forced to launch a “large-scale military operation” in the Gaza Strip.”[Haaretz]

Will Gaza kites lead to war with Israel? — Shlomi Eldar: “A Hamas source… told Al-Monitor that the leadership was surprised by the kites’ effectiveness… People are getting tired of the demonstrations, sensing that they have served their purpose and that now it is the turn of the kites. That is why for now, Hamas will only turn out limited numbers of protesters, while letting the young people “drive the Israelis crazy with fire,” said the source.” [Al-Monitor] • Why Palestinians risk their lives to protest near Gaza-Israel fence[NBCNews]

Jason Greenblatt tweets“Hamas continues to fail the Palestinians of Gaza – arson kites & balloons & many mortar & rocket attacks directed against Israelis. How can the international community help when murderous Hamas leaders continue to squander the resources of Gaza? The people deserve better. And now, Hamas & the PA, who have been fighting one another for over a decade, are each cynically claiming that the US is trying to divide Gaza and the West Bank, instead of acknowledging that we are trying to help the Palestinians in Gaza. What hypocrisy.”

REPORT — Netanyahu to extend Ambassador Ron Dermer’s term in D.C. — by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided, in an unorthodox move, to extend the term of Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer by another year… In March last year, Netanyahu passed a decision in the cabinet to extend Dermer’s term from four to five years… On Sunday, Netanyahu will pass another decision in the cabinet. The draft decision copy… says that “Special circumstances on the world stage in general and especially in the U.S.-Israeli relationship” call for extending Dermer’s term.” [AxiosNews10]

Isaac Herzog to head Jewish Agency despite Netanyahu’s objection — by Amir Alon and Itamar Eichner: “Opposition leader Isaac Herzog was selected Thursday as the next chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Jewish Agency’s search committee will present its decision on Sunday to the organization’s board of governors and recommend that Herzog serve in the position for four years… Following the committee’s decision, Netanyahu decided to cancel a meeting of the coordination committee between the government, the Jewish Agency and the WZO, which was scheduled for Monday.” [Ynet]

— Herzog will assume his new position on August 1st, He is expected to quit the Knesset and step down as Opposition Leader by the end of July. Labor Leader Avi Gabbay, who is not a Knesset Member, will select a new leader of the opposition.

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Sara Netanyahu Charged With Fraud for Ordering $100k Worth of Meals From Gourmet Chefs — by Revital Hovel: “Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was indicted on Thursday for alleged systematic fraud involving hundreds of thousands of shekels in connection with meal expenses incurred at the Prime Minister’s Residence.” [Haaretz]

Although the prime minister is not implicated in this case, the charges against his wife could have far-reaching consequences for [Netanyahu’s] political standing and appear likely to damage his public image.” [WashPost]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Ivanka Trump stayed silent for days as border crisis mounted — by Catherine Lucey and Jonathan Lemire: “President Donald Trump confided that his daughter urged him to find a solution. But despite days of heart-wrenching images of children being pulled from their immigrant parents, [Ivanka] stayed publicly quiet until Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order designed to keep families together… It wasn’t the first time that Ivanka Trump, as well as her husband… Jared Kushner, had tried to fly under the radar during crisis and tumult in her father’s administration. Kushner has been in the Middle East working on the administration’s peace plan… And Ivanka Trump was in California this week.” [AP]

Here’s What Ivanka Trump’s Rabbi Thinks About Families Being Separated at the Border — by Nicole Goodkind: “[Rabbi Levi] Shemtov, who serves as the spiritual leader of TheSHUL, where Ivanka Trump regularly attends services with her husband and children, says that a solution to the problem will require compromise. “One thing we’ve seen is that everybody yelling at each other is not the solution,” he said. “Perhaps if each of the sides could bring a few people together and find a resolution it would be good not only for the people directly affected but for the nation generally.” … Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion, declined to comment on the situation.”[Newsweek

Trump aide Stephen Miller, meet your great-grandfather, who flunked his naturalization test — by Lisa Belkin: “A photo of Nison (aka Max) Miller stares out from the screen, sullen and stern, in faded black and white. “Order of Court Denying Petition” is the title of the government form dated “14th November 1932,” to which it is attached, the one in which Miller is applying for naturalization as an American citizen. And beneath the photo, the reason given for his denial: Ignorance. Nison Miller is the great-grandfather of White House adviser Stephen Miller… “The point isn’t to play ‘gotcha,’” says Renee Stern Steinig, a former president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island, who first found the Miller naturalization application last summer…” [YahooNews]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: CBS Battle With Shari Redstone Moves Forward; Judge Combos Suits, Declines Stay [Deadline] • Tech Entrepreneur Makes Israel’s First Real Estate Purchase With Bitcoin [Haaretz] • Ira Rennert, Arnold & Porter Head Toward Settlement in $214M Malpractice Case[AmericanLawyer] • Israeli Consulting Firm Sues Hadassah For $20M Over Missing Compensation [Forward• Ashkenazy buys AMC theater for $53M[TheRealDeal• Starwood sells apartment complex in Pompano to Harbor Group International for $55M [TheRealDeal]

SPOTLIGHT — Brian Roberts and Bob Iger Go Head-to-Head in the Battle for Fox — by Cynthia Littleton: “Bob Iger and Brian Roberts are two very different people and leaders, with a history of prickly relations, who want the same thing: spoils of Rupert Murdoch’s empire… The battle between Disney and Comcast has captivated the industry because it’s a rare public brawl over a marquee name — the most high-profile Hollywood M&A tussle since Sumner Redstone and Barry Diller went at it over Paramount Pictures in 1993.”

“Those who know Iger say that the motivating reason behind his agreement to extend his contract through the end of 2021 was that he was determined to oversee the Fox acquisition and position Disney for the next century. He knows the Fox deal would be part of his legacy as his retirement looms… Although he’s out on a limb after selling shareholders and investors on the merits of the 21st Century Fox assets, sources who know Iger say he’s not likely to wage a long public fight… Roberts, on the other hand, has more room to maneuver in the bidding so long as Wall Street more or less agrees.” [Variety] • Bob Iger: Disney Has ‘Much Better’ Chance of Closing Fox Deal Than Comcast [Variety]

MOT STEREOTYPE? The Variety cover is an illustration of Iger and Roberts facing off with aquiline noses created by Tim O’Brien  

PAST HISTORY — by Edmund Lee: “The bad blood between Disney and Comcast goes back to at least 2004, when Comcast tried to swallow Disney whole. The Disney board fought off that attempt, but Mr. Iger and his top lieutenants have not forgotten it. And Comcast apparently does not have the fondest feelings for Disney: The Jurassic Park rides at the company’s Universal theme parks include Disney’s famous mouse-ears hat floating in the water next to a raft that a dinosaur has destroyed.” [DealBook]

Gary Cohn Is Searching for His Third Act — by William Cohan: “After departing the administration in March, Cohn has split time between his apartment on the Upper East Side and his house in the Hamptons, perhaps quietly pondering his options among his pals and advisers. In April, someone familiar with his thinking suggested that Cohn might entertain becoming the C.E.O. of a media or technology company, or start his own private-equity or money-management firm… Cohn appeared to be pondering less traditional opportunities, too. Anthony Scaramucci, his former White House colleague, told me that Cohn had recently said he was even thinking about doing something in “crypto.”” [VanityFair]

Paul Simon will hold his farewell concert in Queens — by Rachel DeSantis: “Paul Simon’s final performance on his Farewell Tour will be a homecoming in Queens. The singer will be homeward bound Sept. 22 to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, it was announced Wednesday, wrapping up an international tour that kicked off in May. The concert’s setlist will cover the entirety of his legendary career… All of Simon’s personal net proceeds will be donated to a previously selected cause to be announced at a later date.”[NYDailyNews]

SPORTS BLINK — Abramovich helps sick Israeli children attend World Cup: “Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich has donated a six-figure sum to the Israeli charity “Fulfilling Dreams,” which together with other donations, has allowed 30 seriously ill Israeli children to attend the World Cup in Russia, CNN reports… Abramovich was made aware of the charity by his close friend, the former Chelsea manager Avram Grant.” [GlobesCNN]

England fans filmed performing Nazi salutes and singing anti-Semitic songs in World Cup 2018 bar in Russia — by Aaron Flanagan: “A group of England fans have been filmed performing Nazi salutes and singing anti-Semitic songs in a bar in Russia. The video features a group of men in Volgograd, the city where England played Tunisia in the World Cup on Monday night, raising their arms and shouting ‘sieg-heil’… “We strongly condemn the actions of the people in this video,” the FA said in a statement.”[Mirror]

BIRTHDAYS: Former member of the US House of Representatives (1993-1995), mother-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Marjorie Margolies (formerly known as Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky) turns 76… Institutional investment banker in NYC and Greenwich, Connecticut, he is a former US Ambassador to El Salvador (2007-2009), Charles L. Glazer turns 75… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Charles of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi which became the largest in the world, appointed to the House of Lords in 1996, Baron Maurice Saatchi turns 72… UK cabinet minister in both the Thatcher and Major governments, Sir Malcolm Leslie Rifkind turns 72… Creditors rights’ attorney at Chicago-area Blitt & Gaines, David Stephen Miller turns 68… Senior counselor at The Reis Group, Peter Perl turns 68… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party since 2013, he was the head of Jerusalem branch of the Israel Police (2000-2003) and then an attache at the Israeli embassy in Washington, Mickey Levy turns 67… CEO of Amir Development in Beverly Hills, Keenan Wolens turns 60 (h/t Orna Wolens)…

Washington Institute fellow and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS, David Makovsky turns 58… Former general manager of Bloomberg Politics, Tanya Rebecca Singer turns 45… Former Trump aide, hired and fired three times, Sam Nunberg turns 37… Born in Melbourne, Australia, now living in San Francisco, co-founder and CEO of Kaggle, a data science platform acquired by Google in March 2017, Anthony Goldbloom tuns 35… Manager of Originals Documentary Publicity at Netflix, she was previously a communications officer at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jacqueline (Jackie) Berkowitz turns 34… Digital editor at the Washington Examiner, she was previously the Washington bureau chief at The Blaze and was a reporter for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Madeleine Morgenstern (h/ts Playbook)… Director of communications and marketing at the New York Community Trust, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, David L. Marcus… Susan Gutman… Daniel Padilla




Daily Kickoff: Mort Klein defends Qatar trip after report of payments | Saban’s email to Senators who signed Bernie’s letter | Israeli Couscous in NYC

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REPORT: Mike Huckabee Praised Qatar Without Revealing He Was Paid $50,000 by Qatar — by Dan Friedman: On Friday, Joseph Allaham, a former owner of kosher steakhouses in New York, retroactively registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for Qatar. In the paperwork… Allaham noted that he had paid $50,000 on November 23, 2017, to Blue Diamond Horizons, a Florida corporation run by [Mike] Huckabee… Huckabee was an expensive get for Qatar. His trip cost more than the $50,000 payment he received from Allaham.”

“Dr. Joseph Frager, a gastroenterologist and pro-Israel activist who supported Huckabee’s 2016 presidential bid, last month also registered as a foreign agent for Qatar, and he reported that he was paid $50,000 by Muzin’s firm for Qatar-related work. Frager told Mother Jones that the fee was in part for helping facilitate Huckabee’s January visit… And for its $50,000, the Qatari government got a positive tweet out of him.”

“Allaham reported that his work for Qatar including making a $100,000 donation in October to Our Soldiers Speak, a New York-based charity that organizes trips by officers in the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli National Police to speak on college campuses in other countries… The contribution came on October 30, a few days before the group’s annual gala, where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the time the CIA director, was the keynote speaker.”

“Allaham also made two $50,000 contributions to [Mort] Klein’s group, the Zionist Organization of America. The first was on November 2, shortly before the group’s annual dinner. The second came on January 23, a few weeks after Klein visited Doha.” [MotherJones]

— Flashback to Feb 26, 2018: “ZOA and Morton Klein have no potential financial motive or ulterior purpose here. ZOA and Mr. Klein’s preparation time and effort, and the time Mr. Klein spent on his exhausting 13 hour trip each way to and from Qatar, cost us staff money.” [Haaretz

Mort Klein told us by phone this morning… “We are now looking into it thoroughly. In the next 24 to 48 hours, if we determine that this money clearly came from Qatar, we will return the money immediately. Any money that the ZOA has received for the past 25 years has come from private individuals, never from any country. To this minute, my complete understanding was that it came from a private individual. If I thought that any money came from Qatar, I would never have accepted it.”

“I assumed this was a wealthy businessman (Joseph Allaham) who was giving ZOA a check. I’ve had many wealthy business people who have given me 100k and plus. That happens all the time. And I knew that Allaham brought Malcolm Hoenlein, Alan Dershowitz and Mike Huckabee to Qatar. In my eyes this made him look like a legitimate individual. To me, them going, koshered the trip. I never did a thing for Qatar. Whatever money I got — whether it is from Qatar or not — I never did anything for them. I never wrote an article praising them, I never lobbied for them.”

“My whole trip was wall-to-wall meetings with officials from Qatar. Al Jazeera was going to release a four part series called The Israel Lobby, which would have increased anti-Semitism in America and hatred towards Israel. That was a horrible documentary, and I urged them to kill this. And because of my work it never aired. This was a big achievement of my going to Qatar. It’s not like I went there and went to the beach… Qatar asked me a month ago to come back. They wanted to set up meetings with top officials at Al Jazeera, but I rejected this because too many people thought that I shouldn’t have gone to Qatar in the first place.”

HEADLINE DEPT: “Saudi Moves Forward With Plan to Turn Qatar Into Island” [Bloomberg]

DRIVING THE CONVO — As was previously anticipated, the U.S. announced its withdrawal yesterday from the U.N. Human Rights Council. “For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias,” Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said in a joint appearance with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department on Tuesday. “The council’s continued and well-documented bias against Israel is unconscionable. Since its creation, the council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than against the rest of the world combined,” Pompeo added.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the U.S. move as a “courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies” of “a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights.”

REACTION — Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the move in a statement: “By withdrawing from the council, we lose our leverage and allow the council’s bad actors to follow their worst impulses unchecked — including running roughshod over Israel.”

Elliott Abrams, a former Republican diplomat and now a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the Human Rights Council’s bias against Israel was too much to ignore. “There is always an argument for staying, which is that the United States will be in a better position to help defend Israel,” Mr. Abrams said. “But this council is hopelessly compromised, so leaving is the right choice.” [NYTimes]

Dore Gold, former Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, emails us… “The UN Human Rights Council was founded on the basis of noble ideals but in recent decades it evolved into a body that violated the most important legal principle for any legal body: equality before the law. It discriminated against the State of Israel and avoided criticism of states engaging in crimes against humanity. America had no veto power there to halt this deterioration. I will never forget its sponsorship of the Goldstone Report alleging that the IDF deliberately killed Palestinian civilians. Goldstone, whom I debated, later renounced this modern blood libel, but it undoubtedly contributed to new anti-Semitic outbursts in the world community.”

HOW IT PLAYED: “The announcement comes just a day after the U.N.’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, criticized the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that has resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the border.” [NBCBloomberg]

WHAT’S NEXT? “The council is scheduled to discuss Israel and the Palestinian territories on July 2, according to its agenda.” [Bloomberg]

MEANWHILE — Dozens of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, which quickly retaliates — by Noga Tarnopolsky: “Sirens rang out throughout the night in southern Israel early Wednesday as 45 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, Israeli authorities said. In response, the Israeli military struck the strip, aiming at 25 targets it said were associated with Hamas, the militia that governs the Palestinian territory.” [LATimes]

“Democratic Megadonor Haim Saban Attacks Senators for Urging Humanitarian Aid to Gaza Strip” — by Alex Emmons: “Saban emailedthe senators, some at their personal addresses, to directly express his displeasure with a letter organized last month by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt… calling for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “act urgently in order to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.”… “Senators, for you to listen to Senator Sanders and accuse Israel of being the main culprit is outrageous, misinformed, offensive and shows a lack of understanding of the region’s basic fundamentals,” Saban wrote. “Do your homework, unless you have chosen to blindly follow Senator Sanders’ ill advised, misinformed, simplistic, and ignorant lead.” [TheIntercept]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — Jordan’s king tells Kushner: Mideast peace requires two state solution — by Barak Ravid: “According to a statement from the Jordanian royal court, King Abdullah told [Jared] Kushner and [Jason] Greenblatt… the peace talks must be re-launched between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of the 2 state solution and the Arab peace initiative.” [Axios]

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tells us… “Kushner and Greenblatt’s visits to the Arab states could be largely about drumming up support for a major initiative to address the humanitarian disaster in Gaza while maintaining pressure on Hamas. That would make sense. But if they were to lay the groundwork for the release of a peace plan intended to bring the parties to the table, that faces much steeper odds.”

“With the United States unable to engage directly with the Palestinians after the Jerusalem decision, and with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders facing domestic political constraints that rule out compromise, any U.S. plan is likely to be dead on arrival with one or both sides. The idea that the Arab states could rescue a plan presented in such unfavorable circumstances, or would stick their necks out to try if it looks unacceptable to the Palestinians, seems far-fetched.”

PLO Executive Committee member Jibril Rajoub to i24News: “[Kushner] can come and leave, but believe me nothing will change on the ground. Kushner, Mushner has to recharge the batteries and recognize the reality that we are under occupation.” [Video]

THE TRUMP EFFECT — Settler housing construction drops to six-year low under Trump — by Tovah Lazaroff: “From January to March of this year, ground was broken on only 250 settler housing starts, according to data released Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. It’s the lowest recorded number in any single quarter since 2012…” [JPost

Religious Leaders Condemn Family Separations—but Not Necessarily Trump — by Emma Green: “Many of the groups that have been most vocal against the border policy are already outspoken Trump skeptics. Among the ranks of Trump’s closest allies… the condemnation has been more tempered… For some groups, the choice to speak out is a major shift: The Orthodox Union, which represents many Modern Orthodox Jewish congregations in the U.S., honored Sessions as the keynote speaker at its annual conference last week. Shortly after, the president of the group, Moishe Bane, released a statement opposing the “zero-tolerance policy,” … On the whole, though, the news… has only served to underscore the existing postures of conservative religious groups. Those who tend to prefer condemning Trump publicly have done so. Those who prefer working directly with the administration have either kept their silence or spoken with caution.” [TheAtlantic]

Ivanka encouraged Trump to act to stop separations, made calls to lawmakers — by Betsy Klein, Sunlen Serfaty and Tal Kopan: “Ivanka Trump met with her father, President Donald Trump, on Tuesday to discuss the images of immigrant families being separated at the US-Mexico border, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told CNN. “She offered the President her support and she said she would talk to any member of Congress to help find a legislative solution to the issue,” Gidley said.” [CNN]

— Trump holds forth during private dinner with supporters — by Jonathan Swan: “Trump, letting loose, discussing his decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: “They told me it’d cost $1 billion” to build an embassy in Jerusalem. “I’m about to sign it — Donald J. — then said: ‘This is way too expensive; not a Trump deal.’ I call David Friedman [his ambassador to Israel]. He says, … ‘I can do it for $180,000.’ I said, ‘David’ — I’ve never said this — ‘you’re making me look cheap. Get the good marble! Spend $400,000.'”[Axios

Michael Cohen Wants Trump to Pay His Legal Fees — by Rebecca Ballhaus and Rebecca Davis O’Brien: “Cohen has frequently told associates in recent months he is frustrated that the president hasn’t offered to pay his legal fees, which he has said are ‘bankrupting’ him… He has said he feels that Mr. Trump owes him after his years of loyalty to the former real-estate developer.” [WSJ]

SPOTTED: Eric Trump at the UJA Real Estate Division’s annual luncheon at Cipriani on 42nd. The event honored Vornado’s David Greenbaum who was introduced by Steven Roth.

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Police suspect Hollywood mogul was go-between for PM, newspaper chief — report: “Police investigators reportedly have evidence that Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan… also acted as a middleman in a suspected illegal deal discussed by the prime minister and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes… that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in exchange for more favorable coverage from Yedioth… Police are trying to convince Milchan to come to Israel, either to be interrogated or to testify about the case.” [ToI]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Florida Officials Approve Plan to Build Largest U.S. Mall — American Dream Miami by the Ghermezian family [WSJ] • Marsha Soffer sues Ritz-Carlton, Miami Beach developer over delays [RealDeal]• Icahn Wins Majority on SandRidge Board [WSJ] • AT&T is getting ready to acquire all of Otter Media, the streaming video company it co-owns with Peter Chernin [Recode] • Is the Era of the Superstar Media Executive Over? [Variety• Alex Fenkell and Jordan Katzman’s SmileDirectClub has been growing like crazy [BusinessInsider]

STARTUP NATION — Israel now boasts 166 cybersecurity startups, including 16 that raised more than $50 million — by Chris O’Brien: “YL Ventures, an Israeli seed-focused venture fund, today released its first CyberMap… A quick scan of the dataset, which lists 166 startups, shows that 16 of those have each raised more than $50 million in venture capital and another 18 have raised more than $30 million.” [VentureBeat] • Netanyahu warns of cyber risks that can down fighter jets [Reuters]

How an Art Dealer Became an Up-and-Coming Painter — by Boris Kachka: “[Jon] Mesler’s “real office” is upstairs, a cluttered nook presided over by paintings of rabbis… Mesler was a landlord before he was an art dealer. While earning his M.F.A. at the San Francisco Art Institute, he put his subsidized loan into high-yield accounts, paid the principal back right after graduation and pocketed the interest. After striking out as a painter, he borrowed $30,000 from his mother and bought a building in Los Angeles’s Chinatown… One of his renters was David Kordansky, a serious-minded dealer whose gallery soon took off… I wonder to myself whether his midlife turnaround, so new and fragile, will really last. What happens when real critics chime in on his work, when the novelty of his art and his gallery wear off, when the busy season ends on Newtown Lane for the fifth or 10th time and winter sets in again? I ask Kordansky this a week later. “It’s the Jewish thing to worry about where he’ll be in 10 years,” he says.” [NYTimes

TRANSITION — The Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy has hired Martin Sweet as Director of its newly launched GU Politics Forum. Sweet served as Marco Rubio’s director of Jewish outreach in the 2016 presidential campaign and as a senior advisor in his Senate reelection campaign. [GeorgetownUniversity

Julia Ioffe, who has previously written for POLITICO magazine, HuffPost’s Highline, the New Yorker and New Republic and most recently worked at the Atlantic, is joining GQ as a correspondent. h/t Playbook

DESSERT — Lodge Bread Co. Expands With Kosher Hummus Spot Along Pico Boulevard — by Farley Elliott: “The group behind Culver City hit Lodge Bread Company is moving into Pico-Robertson next, offering up a Kosher hummus-focused restaurant called Hasiba… The 1,000 square foot space will seat a few dozen people across communal seats only, with room for a tiny patio up front and a hearth to bake off pita to order… Their Instagram feed is already clogged with blistery shots of puffy pita bread and creamy-looking, hummus.” [EaterLA

Couscous Bar Kish-Kash Opens Today in the West Village — by Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld: “Couscous is many things… and, at least according to chef and restaurateur Einat Admony, who opens today what she calls New York’s first couscous bar, a 21st-century business plan. The chef, who has made her name at restaurants like Balaboosta, Bar Bolonat, and Taïm by mining her multicultural Israeli heritage, is determined to indoctrinate New Yorkers weaned on Near East and other boxed brands into the airy, fluffy, altogether novel pleasures of hand-rolled couscous… At her new West Village restaurant Kish-Kash, named for the sieve used in its production, she takes a quick-serve approach to a notoriously time-consuming recipe.” [GrubStreet]

Natalie Portman hosts vegan after-party following factory farming exposé — by Ian Mohr: “Appropriately the after-party for Natalie Portman’s exposé on factory farming, “Eating Animals,” was a vegan affair. The Sundance Selects doc, narrated and produced by Portman and based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, has been called by critics “a lesson in vegetarian fortitude,” “an effective piece of agitprop suffused with sadness” and “a philosophical examination of the potential for human kindness to trump our love of bacon.” [NYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Weston, Florida resident Harold Kurte turns 89… Author of over 70 books including four series of children’s books, Dan Greenburg turns 82… Born in Baghdad, made aliyah in 1950, served as a member of Knesset for the Ratz party and then the Meretz party (1984-2009), he served as Minister of Industry and Trade (1999-2000), Ran Cohen turns 81… Detroit-based pawnbroker, reality TV star, author and speaker, Leslie “Les” Gold turns 68… Senior political editor at NBC News and adjunct professor at CUNY’s Baruch College, Gregg Birnbaum turns 58… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion, founding editor of Klal Perspectives and popular lecturer on Jewish law, thought and philosophy, Rabbi Moshe Hauer turns 53… Politico’s White House and Justice Department reporter, Josh Gerstein 48… Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro turns 45… Journalist and EMT in NYC, formerly media editor for Gawker and director of public relations for the Village Voice, Maggie Shnayerson turns 37… Jennifer Bernstein turns 33… Associate Executive Director at Hillel Montreal, Beverley Shimansky… Alan Schulman

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…