Oct
19

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Daily Kickoff: Israel stays quiet on Saudi crisis | Ron Lauder meets with top PA officials; WH says he wasn’t sent by Trump | Kloss Kushner wedding

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SCENE LAST NIGHT — Nikki Haley Pokes Fun at Trump, and Herself, at Al Smith Dinner — by Rick Gladstone: “For about 17 minutes Thursday night in the New York Hilton ballroom, Haley… tried her hand at one-liners before a crowd of 700 guests at the annual Al Smith charity dinner, a high-powered event of the political and Roman Catholic elite hosted by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan… Having breakfast with Cardinal Dolan a few weeks ago to prepare for her speech, she told the crowd, “I asked, ‘Was there anything I could do to really boost attendance?’ And he said, ‘Why don’t you resign as U.N. ambassador?’” [NYTimes]

The diplomat also saved some mild ribbing for Trump: “The president called me this morning and gave me some really good advice,” she said. “He said if I get stuck for laughs just brag about his accomplishments. It really killed at the UN. I’ve got to tell you.” [NYPost]

Haley and her husband, Michael, were surrounded by powerful figures in New York government, finance, media, real estate and philanthropy. They included Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, the Wall Street financier Stephen A. Schwarzman.” [NYTVideo]

REPORT — Trump considering Richard Grenell for U.N. ambassador — by Andrew Restuccia: “President Donald Trump is now seriously considering Richard Grenell, the controversial U.S. ambassador to Germany, to replace Nikki Haley at the United Nations… Grenell met with officials at the White House last week to discuss the job.” [Politico]

HEARD ON THE TRAIL — President Trump during a campaign rally in Missoula, Montana: “Israel has a wall. Bibi Netanyahu – think of it – he said it worked 99.9 percent, their wall. They have a big wall. It’s in the form of a very tough fence, but they have a wall. Schumer knows this.”

MIDTERMS — GOP Ad Channels Anti-Semitism to Portray George Soros as Puppetmaster — by Spencer Ackerman: “The ad, literally titled “Owns,” ties Minnesota congressional aspirant Dan Feehan, a Democrat, to George Soros… In “Owns,” funded by the National Republican Campaign Committee, Soros is an Oz-like figure hovering over stacks of cash… “Just remember,” the narrator intones, “the left owns Feehan,” while Soros’ intense, baggy-eyed visage floats in the storm clouds above Feehan, [Colin] Kaepernick, an Antifa protester, oil drums on fire and, flanking the candidate, piles of money. “He’ll never be for you.” [DailyBeastVideo]

Senator Bob Menendez in an interview with the New Jersey Jewish Link: “Regardless of what party is leading the U.S. government, or the Israeli government for that matter, the bond between the United States and Israel transcends partisan divides. There may be disagreements between us from time to time over specific policies, but I truly believe that the bond between Israel and the United States is timeless in the sense that it is guided by common values such as our love of freedom, belief in human rights, thirst for scientific progress and innovation and commitment to the rule of law.”

MAKE NEW YORK GREAT — Will Trump Make New York Democrats the New Lords of Capitol Hill? — by Jennifer Steinhauer: “If the Democrats retake the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, New York would play a larger role in Washington than it has in a generation. Representative Jerrold L. Nadler would head the powerful House Judiciary Committee, charged with investigations into Mr. Trump’s administration. Representative Eliot L. Engel would become chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Representative Nita M. Lowey would take the helm of the House Appropriations Committee — the first woman to do so.” [NYTimes]

2020 WATCH — Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, tells The New York Times he could live with Mike Bloomberg as president: “As an executive he would be a good president. I can’t see how I could ever endorse him because of some of the positions I think he would bring into the government, and a lot of his people who are very left-leaning. But would I be comfortable that he is qualified to be president? Sure.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — Three former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel criticized the Trump Administration’s decision to transform the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem into a ‘Palestinian Affairs Unit’ within the U.S. Embassy.  “The downgrading of U.S. representation to the Palestinian people and placing it under the authority of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel is yet another blow to the Palestinians after the closure of their mission in Washington,” Martin Indyk, who served as Ambassador to Israel under President Bill Clinton, told Jewish Insider. The move “emphasizes just how broken the relationship is and just how far away we are from Trump’s ‘deal of the century.’”

Indyk suggested that Friedman may also be eying the Consulate location on Agron Street in Jerusalem to serve as his official residence. “Once the Embassy to Israel was relocated to Jerusalem it was only a matter of time before Ambassador Friedman set his sights on the Consulate with its elegant, historic residence in the heart of downtown Jerusalem,” Indyk speculated.

Friedman’s predecessor, Ambassador Daniel Shapiro asserted in an email that it is “very unlikely that the Palestinian Authority will engage the US government through the Embassy.” Shapiro added, “This decision downgrades diplomatic relations with the Palestinians. It is not consistent with the goal of achieving a two-state solution, and that is how it will be understood by both sides.” [JewishInsider]

Daniel Kurtzer, who served as Ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush, writes… “The administration’s decision to close the Consulate… will further downgrade our dialogue with Palestinians, which is already quite fractured. It will send an unmistakable signal that Palestinian views and perspectives will be assessed by Washington through a lens defined by our relationship with Israel.” [NYDailyNews

Elliott Abrams emails us: “The separation was never sensible. Under that system, the CIA would deal with the Mossad and Shin Bet about everything in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, and the Defense Attache would deal with the IDF about everything in all those places too — but the ambassador and his diplomatic staff were forced to stay out of anything involving the Palestinians. That’s nuts. It meant our ambassador could not work with Salam Fayyad when he was prime minister, for example. This is a much more logical arrangement.”

David Makovsky speculates“Could it be that in return for Secretary Pompeo becoming an interlocutor with the Saudis (sharing the portfolio with Jared Kushner), the quid pro quo from State was closing of U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and enhancing WH control over another key foreign policy issue run by Kushner?”

Ghaith Al-Omari tells us: “The fact that the Consulate reported directly to HQ gave Washington an unfiltered ground truth that helped decision-makers in DC understand and navigate Palestinian politics. The nuanced understanding of Palestinian dynamics and the networks that some Consuls General developed enabled them to effectively implement American policies and achieve American objectives vis-à-vis the Palestinians. This tool will now unfortunately no longer be available to American diplomacy.”

AIPAC, while thanking Trump for the move, reiterated their support for a two-state solution in a series of tweets: “AIPAC remains fully supportive of direct negotiations leading to a two-state solution – a Jewish state of Israel living in peace with a demilitarized Palestinian state.”

BACKCHANNEL? —Ron Lauder met Palestinian officials on Trump’s behalf in bid to jump-start peace talks: “According to a Hadashot TV news report Thursday, Lauder met with senior Palestinian officials “behind Israel’s back” and without the knowledge of Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt… The report said Lauder urged [them] to work with the Trump administration to jump-start talks and told him he would be positively surprised by the US president’s peace plan. Lauder also met with Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian peace negotiator; and the PA’s intelligence chief, Majid Faraj.” [ToI

NSC Spokesman Garrett Marquis in a statement: “The report in Channel 2 is false. Ambassador Lauder is a friend of the President but he was not sent by the White House to meet with the Palestinians on the President’s behalf — secretly or otherwise.”

The Battle for Young Evangelicals’ Views on Israel Could Determine the Future of U.S. Policy — by Amir Tibon: “Many young Evangelicals, unlike their parents, don’t want their first interaction with Israel to be based on either politics or eschatology,” [Bishop Robert] Stearns says, referring to the theological concern with the end of times. The reason for that, he explained, is that they prioritize other issues, such as social justice, human rights and community building. The problem, however, is that “many aren’t aware of other kinds of engagements with the country.” … Stearns believes that in order to attract young Evangelicals to Israel, “that’s something we have to change.”[Haaretz]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — In Shift on Khashoggi Killing, Trump Edges Closer to Acknowledging a Saudi Role — by Maggie Haberman, Mark Landler, Michael Schmidt and Eric Schmitt: “Mr. Trump stopped short of saying the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death. But he acknowledged that the allegations that the prince ordered the killing raised hard questions about the American alliance with Saudi Arabia… “This one has caught the imagination of the world, unfortunately,” Mr. Trump said in a brief interview with The New York Times… In conversations with allies, the president has begun to distance himself from Prince Mohammed, 33, saying he barely knows him. And he has played down the relationship that Mr. Kushner has cultivated with the Saudi heir.” [NYTimes

Saudis May Blame Intelligence Official for Killing Jamal Khashoggi — by David Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard: “Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, has been urging the president to stand by the prince, according to a person close to the White House… Mr. Kushner has argued that the crown prince can survive the outrage just as he has weathered past criticism.” [NYT]

In Washington, Israel Stays Quiet As Anger Grows Over Saudi Arabia — by Emily Tamkin: “The Israelis are “in a very difficult position,” Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, told BuzzFeed News. “They count very much on Saudi Arabia,” which is “central to their strategic concept of the region.” On the other hand, “They wouldn’t want to use capital to argue against a strong conclusion” that Saudi Arabia is in the wrong. “They’re not going to defend this indefensible concept,” said Shapiro.” [BuzzFeed]

— FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer writes… “The killing of Jamal Khashoggi has upended Washington’s policy debates. Many of the same experts pushing for sanctions against Saudi Arabia have previously argued, in other contexts, that sanctions don’t work.” [TheAtlantic]

** 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: Sears’s Edward Lampert Was a Wizard. Now He’s Coming to Terms With Failure [NYTimes] • Sam Tabar wants to eliminate the middlemen from real estate deals, but says it can be a tough sell[TheRealDeal] • Daniel Loeb’s Third Point turns up the heat on Campbell Soup [FinancialTimes] • Showtime chief executive David Nevins is getting a piece of Leslie Moonves’s old job at the CBS Corporation [NYTimes]

Facebook hires Nick Clegg as head of global affairs — by George Parker and Tim Bradshaw: “Facebook has hired Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, to head its global affairs and communications team… Mr Clegg, 51, will move to Silicon Valley in January to succeed Elliot Schrage… He agreed to take on the job after months of wooing by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who told Mr Clegg he would have a leading role in shaping the company’s strategy.” [FinancialTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — Falcon Edge’s Gerson Said to Field, Reject Russia Fund’s Advance — by Caleb Melby: “In the weeks after Donald Trump’s stunning election win, Rick Gerson… was at the Four Seasons in New York for a meeting with members of the president’s transition team. Then came a break in the Seychelles, the nation off the coast of Africa — which has since been identified as a private meeting ground for Erik Prince and a Russian money manager… That January 2017 outreach, which hasn’t previously been reported, raises the prospect that Gerson was viewed as a potential line into the incoming administration by influential Russians.”

“Gerson has known Kushner for more than a decade. Gerson’s brother, Mark Gerson, is an investor in Cadre, a real estate investing startup co-founded by Kushner and his own brother, Josh Kushner, a venture capitalist. Both Kushners maintain a stake in the company, which has done business with their family real estate company Kushner Cos. and has considered investments from international firms while Jared Kushner has served in the administration.” [Bloomberg]

Karlie Kloss Weds Joshua Kushner in ‘Intimate and Moving’ Jewish Ceremony in New York: “A rep for the supermodel, 26, confirms to PEOPLE the couple wed on Thursday evening. Kloss and Kushner held a small, Jewish ceremony in upstate New York, with under 80 people in attendance. They will also host a larger celebration for friends and loved ones in the spring… “The wedding was intimate and moving. The couple was beaming with happiness,” a friend who attended the ceremony tells PEOPLE.” [People]

HOLLYWOOD — ABC to Adapt Israeli Romantic Comedy Series ‘Baker and the Beauty’ — by Joe Otterson: “ABC has given a put pilot commitment to an American adaptation of the Israeli series “The Baker and the Beauty,” Variety has learned. The new version of the one-hour romantic comedy series follows the Miami love story between a simple baker and an international superstar… “ [Variety]

HOUSES OF WORSHIP — ISIS Overlooks a Synagogue in Mosul — by Bernard-Henri Lévy: “In the fall of 2016 I began filming a documentary about the battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State. I made a promise to myself and to my crew: Whatever risks and obstacles the war unpredictably produced, we would reach the burial ground of the prophet Jonah on the Tigris River—right in the middle of the city.”

“The goal was met. Though the site was buried in rubble and ash, one of our film’s scenes would show the final resting place of the most enigmatic and provocative biblical prophet. When my crew and I deemed our mission accomplished, we savored a double satisfaction: We had covered the first half of the war to destroy ISIS and also rediscovered an important site in the biblical narrative and Jewish history.” [WSJ]

Court permits U.S. student to enter Israel, despite attempt to ban her over BDS ties — by Ruth Eglash: “The case of Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old Florida native who argued against her deportation order in three court hearings, leaves a question mark over the law, passed in 2017, that takes aim at the international BDS movement. Alqasem, whose father is of Palestinian heritage, is the first person to appeal the ban… Ruling on her case Thursday, the Supreme Court of Israel said there was not satisfactory cause to bar her entry. Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, whose ministry is charged with implementing and monitoring the law, said in a statement that the Supreme Court had “granted BDS a great victory.” [WashPost]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Ephod Ebiatar — by Yitz Applbaum: Yesterday, I witnessed a novel technology in Tel Aviv. It was a speaker set that projected sound beams directly into the listener’s ears without the need for any in-ear appliances. Only the intended listener could hear the sounds, and in 360 degree surround sound, while the rest of the room could not hear it at all.

This technology reminded me of a great wine I had drank the preceding Friday night at dinner with my son. It was the 2016 “Ephod” from a winery call Ebiatar. The wine is made with fifty percent Cabernet Sauvignon and fifty percent Petit Verdot. The Cabernet grape took over my whole mouth in a total 360 degree experience. The Petit Verdot exploded specifically in my mid-palate, as if projected directly there. It felt like I was drinking two wines at the same time, having two different wonderful experiences at the same time. There was a lot of pomegranate tartness in the middle palate, the opening was very grapey, and the finish lingering. From the time I bought the bottle till the time it hit my glass was about one hour. I would suggest letting this wine sit in your cellar for six months and then start drinking it with a large steak. [Wine1980]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Born in Vienna, Austria, oceanographer and professor emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, Walter Munk turns 101… South African-born developmental biologist, professor emeritus at University College of London, Lewis Wolpert turns 89… Born in Israel during the British Mandate period, he was the long-time CEO of Aramark Corporation (1981-2015) and presently serves as chairman of the University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees, Joseph Neubauer turns 77… Executive Director of “Second Thought: a US – Israel Initiative,” former Israeli diplomat with multiple US postings, Yoram Ettinger turns 73… Retired hospitality executive, Michelle Fischler turns 70… Founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquistturns 62…

Mayor of Jerusalem since 2008, Nir Barkat turns 59… Chief Rabbi of Kiev and all of Ukraine since 1990, he has also served as a VP of the World Jewish Congress since 2009, Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich 54… Founding president and CEO of Global Policy Initiatives, he was the White House Jewish Liaison in the Clinton administration, Jay Footlik turns 53… Elementary and pre-school educator at various Jewish schools in Houston, Shira Moses turns 52… Director of development at NYC-based Israel & Co., he is a graduate of Cardozo School of Law, Evan Majzner turns 36… David Ochs turns 35… Pittsburgh-based digital editor and designer, Lindsay Applebaum turns 33… DC-based digital micro-targeting analyst, equities trader and financial marketer, Elie Litvin turns 26…

SATURDAY: Economist who earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” during his tenure as the chief economist at Salomon Brothers during the 1970s, Henry Kaufman, Ph.D. turns 91… Poet, essayist and literary critic, who has taught at Wellesley College, UC Berkeley and Boston University, Robert Pinsky turns 78… Miami Beach-based real estate developer, Russell W. Galbut turns 66… Music composer for many films, winner of six Grammys and an Emmy Award, Thomas Newman turns 63… Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Katamon area, Rabbi Binyamin (Benny) Lau turns 57… Russian TV and radio journalist, he is a member of the Russian Jewish Congress, Vladimir Solovyov turns 55… United States Senator from Hawaii since 2012, following 8 years in the Hawaii House of Representatives and two years as Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Brian Schatz turns 46… Classical violinist and a 2008 winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Leila Josefowicz turns 41… Senior advisor and director of strategic engagement for Massachusetts State Senator Eric P. Lesser, Michael Clark turns 29…2016 Columbia Law grad, now an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Evan G. Zuckerman turns 29…

SUNDAY: Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu turns 69… Emmy Award winning reality courtroom personality, “Judge Judy,” Judith Sheindlin turns 76… News anchor who worked for 36 years in Philadelphia (appearing at various times on all three major local stations) and author of three books on the Beatles, Larry Kane (born Lawrence Kanowitz) turns 76… Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard University, Shaye J. D. Cohen turns 70… Director of policy and government relations at Health Care For All, Brian Rosman turns 60… Russian born classical composer and pianist, emigrated to NYC at four years old, a graduate of Julliard, Lera Auerbach turns 45… Non-profit manager previously at Soaringwords and Areivim Philanthropic Group, Dori Tenenbaum turns 32… Director of Data and Evaluation at NCSY and the Orthodox Union, Dan Hazony turns 31… Jerusalem-based journalist for Breaking Israel News and Israel365, Eliana Rudee… Mitch Davis

Oct
18

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Daily Kickoff: Jerusalem Consulate to no longer report directly to Washington | Story behind ‘Netflix for books’ | Tribute to Israel’s old train

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CHANGE AT 18 AGRON — After Jerusalem embassy move, US changes status of consulate: “The United States says it is placing its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians under the authority of its embassy to Israel. The State Department said Thursday that merging the Jerusalem Consulate with the newly opened Jerusalem Embassy will achieve “significant efficiencies.”

Why it matters: “For years, the consulate has served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians, reporting straight to the State Department in Washington. Placing it under the authority of the embassy could be seen as suggesting American recognition of Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank.” [AP]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement: “We will continue to conduct a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem through a new Palestinian Affairs Unit inside the U.S. Embassy Jerusalem.”

MIDTERMS — Iowa 04: Rep. Steve King Endorses Neo-Nazi Sympathizer Faith Goldy — by Pilar Melendez: “Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who is currently running for re-election, tweeted an endorsement late Tuesday evening for Faith Goldy, a white supremacist, right-wing YouTube star running for the mayor of Toronto… King’s endorsement of Goldy is just the latest in a long series of public declarations from the congressman indicating a shift from simply being an “immigration hardliner” to being openly sympathetic to far-right, racist ideologies.” [DailyBeast]

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks told Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg“The RJC has been deeply troubled by a number of Rep. King’s statements and associations recently. As a result we have not endorsed him, contributed to him or hosted events with him.”

Hollywood Figures Raise for California House Democrats at Wasserman Event: “Six Democratic candidates hoping to flip House seats in California raised more than a half-million dollars at a fundraiser on Tuesday at the home of Laura and Casey Wasserman, drawing donors such as Haim Saban, Brian Grazer, Dana Walden, and Chris Silbermann. A source said that more than $600,000 was raised at the event, which featured candidates Josh Harder, T.J. Cox, Andrew Janz, Katie Hill, Gil Cisneros, Katie Porter, Harley Rouda, and Mike Levin. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) headlined the event, which drew about 200 people.” [Variety]

New Jersey 07: In a televised debate aired on C-SPAN last night, Republican Congressman Leonard Lance challenged his Democratic opponent, Tom Malinowski, over his support of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal: “I think the people of the Congressional District and the people of New Jersey have the right to recognize that I was a strong opponent of the Iranian nuclear agreement and you were a strong proponent of it. I do not think it was in the national security interest of the U.S. and I do not think it was in the national security interest of our closest allies… Can you guarantee that none of that funding [released] went for terrorism against the U.S. or against our closest allies?

Malinowski: “For years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations it was our highest objective, with respect to Iran, to end that country’s nuclear program… and we reached an agreement that the head of the Israeli defense forces said set back Iran’s nuclear program by over 10 years. And it was not a perfect deal. There were flaws in the deal. It did not do enough to counter Iran’s support for terrorism. It did not do enough to counter Iran’s other malign activities. Now here’s what happened in the last year: the Trump Administration managed to get agreement from the Europeans, from our allies in NATO, to get tougher on Iran on those issues. We turned our backs on that agreement, and instead of the Europeans working with us to counter Iran, Iran is working with the Europeans to counter us. We are alone. We are in no position to protect Israel, and you have no plan to resolve that problem.” [CSPAN]

Lance: “I am much more, strongly pro-Israel than Mr. Malinowski.” [Video]

STATE VISIT — New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will visit Israel this weekend on his first overseas trip as governor, which included a 5-day trade mission to Germany. During his 4-day visit, Murphy will meet with business leaders, innovators, announce joint economic development projects, meet with college leaders and students, and visit Yad Vashem and the Western Wall. The New Jersey governor is also expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a source familiar with the planning of the trip.

2020 WATCH — Michael Bloomberg Can Buy Popularity, but Can He Buy the Presidency? — by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “There’s the real possibility that a Bloomberg 2020 primary run would go down much like Meg Whitman’s 2010 campaign for California governor… Bloomberg’s team knows it. They know that if he runs, they’ll have to get him into the mind-set of his first mayoral campaign, which he knew he would likely lose, rather than his 2016 presidential exploration, when he refused to take a chance unless his team could tell him he’d win. Not a lot of people are expecting that [Kevin] Sheekey or anyone else will get Bloomberg to pull the trigger, once he finishes having fun toying with the idea and really looks at the data. “You don’t get to be where he is,” said one person who’s talked with him about running, “by being an idiot.” [TheAtlantic]

Nikki Haley dishes on her time in Trump administration in private talk with conservatives — by Oli Coleman and Ian Mohr: “Days before her resignation as US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley gave a private talk to the Council for National Policy… and she reportedly revealed behind-the-scenes details of her time in the Trump administration… Max Blumenthal, managed to infiltrate the session and reported that Haley told the gathering that she was initially offered the job of secretary of state but that, “I thought the job should go to someone who didn’t have the same learning curve.”

“When she was offered the UN role, Haley reportedly recalled, “I told [Trump], ‘Honestly, I don’t even know what the UN does,’ ” to which the crowd “erupted with sympathetic laughter and applause,” Blumenthal writes. She also told the highly secretive group that she met with Henry Kissinger every two months.”[PageSixDailyMail

LUNCH INTERVIEW — John Kerry talks the Iran Deal in an interview with Edward Luce: “Trump’s supporters allege that Kerry gave too much away to the Iranians because he was so keen to win a Nobel Peace Prize, I say… “They just don’t know what they’re talking about,” Kerry says, his voice rising. “They say that because it sounds good. The reality is that we got the toughest, most transparent arms-control agreement on the planet. We have the ability for life to inspect any facility in Iran when we want.” One or two people are looking over at our table. “I’m sorry,” Kerry says. “I feel passionate about this because it’s not true.” [FinancialTimes

ON THE GROUND — Netanyahu Rival Says Israel Too Soft as Gaza on Verge of War — by Jonathan Ferziger and Michael Arnold: “We haven’t shown enough of a steel fist there,” [Naftali] Bennett, a longtime political rival within Netanyahu’s governing coalition, said Tuesday… “We’ve been mighty soft on the fence, and that softness invites an increase in attacks.” Egyptian and United Nations diplomats were in Gaza on Wednesday to try to broker an agreement that would prevent the current round of violence from boiling over… Israel’s Security Cabinet met about Gaza late into the night Wednesday.” [Bloomberg]

‘Game change’ coming in Israeli response to Gaza terror, Gallant says — by Yvette Deane: “Housing Minister and former IDF Southern Commander Yoav Gallant hinted on Thursday that Israel will carry out a stronger response against Hamas in the Gaza strip. “I do not refer to the content of the cabinet discussions, but I can say one thing very explicitly — the game is about to change. We will no longer accept the fire terror,” Gallant said.”[JPost]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) raised more than $32 million at their annual gala held at the New York Hilton Midtown. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was scheduled to speak at the event, but had to return to Israel due to recent security developments. [Pic]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Khashoggi disappearance prompts Kushner retreat from Saudi frontlines —by Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond: “Jared Kushner has remained intentionally in the background this week as West Wing officials feared a more public role would prompt backlash…  The sources said Kushner is wary of overstepping, mindful of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s purview as the nation’s top diplomat… Kushner remained in Washington, attending West Wing meetings as scheduled and exuding a calm demeanor amid mounting questions about whether he put too much trust in Prince Mohammed.” [CNN

“Kushner… has emphasized internally the importance of Saudi Arabia to prospects for Middle East peace, officials said.”

“At a recent fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for the Protect the House committee, Trump… complained about how much the United States spends to support Saudi Arabia… “Ah, those schmucks,” [an] attendee recalled Trump saying, noting that he elicited laughter from the audience. [WashPost]

INSIDE THE ADMIN — by Shane Harris: “One of the president’s closest advisers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said many senior members of the administration concluded more than a week ago that the Saudis had killed Khashoggi. “The only question is, was it directed from the crown prince or the king — or was it a group that was trying to please him?” Giuliani said in an interview… Even if the president doesn’t come round to that view, the White House’s relationship may be indelibly altered by Khashoggi’s death. “I know the bloom is off the rose with the crown prince,” Giuliani said.” [WashPost]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israel torn between Saudi Arabia, Turkey on Khashoggi affair — by Ben Caspit: “Behind the scenes, Israel continues to side with Saudi Arabia. As such, it has no choice but “overlook” the Khashoggi incident. “The fight against Iran stunts everything else,” one senior Israeli minister told Al-Monitor… “Israel’s national security and the Iranian threat top our agenda, whereas Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs are less important and less interesting [to Israel] right now…  [Trump] understands handling the Iran issue is more important now, and democracy will have to wait.” [Al-Monitor]

Rod Rosenstein Defends Mueller Probe as ‘Appropriate and Independent’ — by Sadie Gurman: “In an expansive interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Mr. Rosenstein offered a forceful defense of the [Mueller] inquiry, saying the public would have faith in its findings. “People are entitled to be frustrated, I can accept that,” he said, in a nod to attacks on the probe from some conservatives and Republicans. “But at the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence, and that it was an appropriate use of resources.” [WSJ]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… Michael Cohen meets with prosecutors investigating Trump’s family business, charity — by Erica Orden: “Michael Cohen and his attorney met Wednesday with a group of state and federal law enforcement officials investigating various aspects of President Donald Trump’s family business and charitable organization.” [CNN]

** 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: Jeff Sutton’s Wharton Properties and Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities score $305M refinancing for 530 Broadway [TheRealDeal] • Anne Wojcicki, the CEO of Silicon Valley DNA testing startup 23andMe shares the health product she hopes to sell next [BusinessInsider] • Retired NSA Director Mike Rogers will join Israeli cybersecurity foundry Team8 as senior advisor [Calcalist]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — This startup is the ‘Netflix for books,’ with unlimited access to a huge library for a monthly fee. Now, it’s getting the New York Times, too ― by Nick Bastone: “Scribd’s mission is “to change the way the world reads,” but its CEO Trip Adler says that mission came about by chance. “We kind of got into books a little bit accidentally,” Adler told us. Initially, Adler and his co-founder Jared Friedman set out to help Adler’s father publish an academic paper online — a process that took upwards of 18 months before the first iteration of Scribd was built. At the time, there were blogs for publishing a few paragraphs of text, Adler explains, but blogs didn’t work for publishing a 10-page academic thesis or scientific paper. And so, Scribd was born as a place to put longer documents on the web.”[BusinessInsider]

HOLLYWOOD — Megan Ellison’s Harsh New Reality: Fewer Films, “More Responsible” Finances — by Kim Masters: “Though some insiders say they remain upbeat about Annapurna’s prospects, the company’s operations now are being reviewed by an executive (with experience in business, but not in Hollywood) dispatched by Ellison’s father, Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Megan, 32, “wasn’t running a financially responsible organization,” says a person with knowledge of the situation. “Larry respects money and wants it to be run in a more responsible way.” The company is not going to greenlight any movies for more than a year, this person adds. An Annapurna insider disputes that but says Megan has recognized the need to make changes in the film operation and wanted her father’s input.”[HollywoodReporter

TOP TALKER — Twitter Won’t Suspend Louis Farrakhan For His Tweet Comparing Jews To Insects — by Joseph Bernstein: “[Louis] Farrakhan... yesterday tweeted a video clip of a speech in which he denied that he was anti-Semitic, with the caption, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” The tweet appears to violate Twitter’s proposed new policies around “dehumanizing” tweets… However, a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the rules have not yet taken effect, so Farrakhan’s language is not in violation of any extant policy.” [BuzzFeed]

Chelsea Clinton tweeted: “Comparing Jews to termites is anti-Semitic, wrong and dangerous. The responsive laughter makes my skin crawl. For everyone who rightly condemned President Trump’s rhetoric when he spoke about immigrants “infesting our country,” this rhetoric should be equally unacceptable to you.”

TALK OF THE TOWN — Medical student reflects on patient reactions to her hijab: “Yssra Soliman, who has worn a hijab since the eighth grade, was afraid patients would refuse her care because of her dress and religion. But just when she thought her fears would be realized, she was surprised. “A patient’s mom stopped me and she was Hasidic Jewish and said, I’m so proud of you as a Jewish girl working so hard to become a doctor,” she told News 12. “I had to tell her I’m not Jewish, I’m Muslim and my parents emigrated from Egypt. She just laughed and said… I’m still really proud of you.” [News12]

A Train Ride Back to the Old Israel — by Matti Friedman: “The old Israel is represented in this case by the main casualty of the new train: the historic Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line, which has been running on and off since 1892 and isn’t likely to run much longer… The old train has a modest cult following, of which I’m a proud member, and I’d hate to see it pass from the world without proper tribute… “I ride the old train because it lets me see landscapes that haven’t changed in thousands of years,” Deborah Harris, a Jerusalem literary agent and another of the train’s aficionados, told me. “It feels like traveling through space and time.” … The train’s birth, six years before Herzl boarded, was the doing of a Jewish businessman from the old Sephardic community of Jerusalem, Joseph Effendi Navon, with the help of Swiss and French investors and the blessing of the sultan in Istanbul. The company laid just one track to save money, according to a history of the line by Anthony Travis of Hebrew University.” [NYTimes

Correction — In Yesterday’s Daily Kickoff we mistakenly identified the newly appointed President of ZAKA Search and Rescue USA, Edward A. Mermelstein, as “Edward Perlmutter.” Our apologies to Mr. Mermelstein.

DESSERT — North Jersey Newlyweds Put Modern Twist On Old-School Deli — by Cecilia Levine: “Sal and Jacqueline Yehudiel of Fort Lee, who tied the knot in August, will be opening Humble Toast on Queen Anne Road Oct. 22. “We want to be a great restaurant that happens to be kosher,” Sal Yehudiel said…Yehudiel, born in Israel and raised in Fair Lawn, is a trained chef who has years of experience. He worked his way up to becoming an executive chef at Downtown Disneyland in Anaheim, California.” [Cresskill]

Looking Beyond Tel Aviv for Israel’s New Restaurant Scene — by Debra Kamin: “It’s been a decade or so since the Tel Aviv gastronomic scene came to global attention, catapulting local sons like Meir Adoni and Eyal Shani to success in Paris and New York. But amid the din and rising prices that comes with so much hype, Tel Aviv restaurateurs are now moving north in search of quieter pastures… A string of new chef-run restaurants is transforming this once-sleepy patch into Israel’s newest culinary destination.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Co-founder and former chairman of Qualcomm, Irwin M. Jacobs turns 85… Grammy Award winning songwriter of over 150 hits including “Somewhere Out There” from the movie “An American Tail,” in partnership with her husband Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil turns 78… Former US ambassador to Morocco, the first Jewish ambassador to an Arab country (1994-1998), he was the CEO of the One Voice Movement Foundation and Peaceworks LLC, Marc Ginsberg turns 68… Principal analyst at Kiernan Group Holdings, he is a homeland security and counterterrorism expert, Joshua B. Sinai, Ph.D. turns 67… Bakersfield, California-based attorney focused on adoption and reproductive law, Marc D. Widelock turns 67… Film producer and founder and head of Dimension Films, former co-chairman of Miramax Films and the Weinstein Company, Robert “Bob” Weinstein turns 64…

Political strategist, organizer, activist, commentator and writer, he is the president of a consulting firm, the Economic Future Group, Jonathan Tasiniturns 62… Senior lecturer at MIT, he was Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (2009-2014) and held high level positions at the US Treasury during the Clinton administration (1997-2001), Gary Gensler turns 61… ESPN television host, sports reporter, and anchor, Rachel Nichols turns 45… Managing director of development and academic programs at American Enterprise Institute, Suzanne Gershowitz… Correspondent at GQ and The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe turns 36… Politico’s White House reporter, Annie Karniturns 35… VP of eCommerce at Israel365, Ayal Kellman turns 33… Executive chairman at Berman Capital Advisors, LLC, a former president at the Birthright Israel Foundation, David Fisher

Oct
17

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Daily Kickoff: “With exception of Israel, I trust every Middle East country about as much as I trust gas station sushi” — U.S. Senator John N. Kennedy

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FIRST LOOK — Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Remaking the Democrats’ Foreign Policy In His Own Image — by Derek Robertson: “Senator Sanders, who hasn’t ruled out launching another bid for the presidency in 2020, has begun to roll out a much more robust foreign policy platform… Sanders’ new focus on the global dimensions of crony capitalism, corruption, and human rights has earned him some unlikely fans—one of whom is none other than Jake Sullivan.”

“Robert Malley, the president of the International Crisis Group and a former Obama national security official… described how Sanders has grown into a role where he assuages the worst fears of the center-left while maintaining his progressive bona fides… “The gift the Trump’s presidency has inadvertently given to the progressive wing of the party is to… clarify that one could reject conventional foreign policy views which have led to the war in Iraq and 17 years of a failed war on terror without necessarily embracing an inward-looking, isolationist approach,” Malley said. “Trump’s very peculiar way of rejecting the policies of the past—by ignoring democracy and human rights; embracing autocrats; confusing business interests with national interests—has served as a foil for them.”

“And of course, Sanders isn’t alone in the field of progressives hoping to expand their vision beyond America’s borders (and maybe those of their current political office). Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) earned herself a high-profile spot on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee after the 2016 election, and her first foreign trip as a senator in 2014 was to Israel, a politically critical U.S. ally.” [PoliticoMag]

— Worth noting: “Matt Duss, the former president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and left-leaning foreign policy wonk, now serves as Sanders’ official foreign policy advisor.”

HEARD THIS MORNING — Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) on CNN’s New Day: “There are no democracies in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel. With the exception of Israel, I trust every Middle Eastern country about as much as I trust gas station sushi.” [Video]

ROAD TO THE MIDTERMS — The battle for the Jewish vote in New Jersey’s 7th District — by Jacob Kornbluh: In a press release earlier this year, the campaign of incumbent Republican Congressman Leonard Lance accused Democratic candidate Tom Malinowski of being an “anti-Israel lobbyist” referencing Malinowski’s prior role as a lobbyist for Human Rights Watch. Last week, however, the Congressman himself appeared reluctant to repeat the charge when asked about the “anti-Israel lobbyist” label.

“I’ll just point out where he and I disagree fundamentally on issues related to Israel,” Lance explained sitting in his campaign headquarters in Westfield, New Jersey. Proceeding to read off a printed page, Lance listed disagreements ranging from support for the Iran nuclear deal to United Nations resolutions critical of Israel and even supplying American bulldozers to the Israel Defense Forces. During Malinowski’s time at Human Rights Watch, the group lobbied then-Senator Hillary Clinton to reconsider her support for Israel’s security barrier, describing it as illegal activity in the “occupied West Bank.”

Lance’s supporters have also sought to tie Malinowski to actions taken by President Obama at the United Nations Security Council. According to Ben Chouake, President of NORPAC, Malinowski’s tenure at the State Department in the Obama administration is a cause for concern. “I think the Obama State Department was a disaster,” Chouake told Jewish Insider. “I don’t consider that a badge of honor, especially in an area that has an awful lot of people that are concerned about the UN resolution (UNSC 2334 that was critical of Israeli settlements).”

In an emailed statement to Jewish Insider, Malinowski insisted that he “did not support abstaining” on the December 2016 vote at the UN Security Council. He further accused Lance of trying “to create divisions that will help his re-election,” which he called “profoundly irresponsible.” Malinowski added, “Our partnership with Israel is built on bipartisan support. Those who politicize it by suggesting that one party believes in it more are endangering its foundations.” [JewishInsider

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, who joined Malinowski on the campaign trail last week, tells us: “Tom Malinowski has a strong record, in and out of government, of support for Israel’s security, for its right of self-defense, and for its ability to do so, as guaranteed by the $38 billion MOU for military assistance signed in 2016 and now coming into force… Those who choose to make Israel a partisan political football do Israel no favors. Tom has the decency, the intellect, and the values that the Jewish community appreciates.”

HEARD LAST NIGHT ― Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, for accepting campaign contributions from J Street during a TV debate: “Congressman O’Rourke is fond of saying he doesn’t take PAC money, but the truth is different. For example, the J Street PAC, which is a rabidly anti-Israel PAC has raised over $160,000 for Congressman O’Rourke because of his many votes against the nation of Israel.” [CSPAN]

Aaron Davis, J Street’s National Political Director, responded in a statement: “As the political home for the pro-Israel, pro-peace majority of American Jews, we take attacks from Ted Cruz as a badge of honor.”

New York 11: Democratic House candidate Max Rose is claiming growing momentum in his longshot bid against Republican Congressman Dan Donovan. Donovan, the only Republican House member in New York City, is favored to win his reelection bid. The Rose campaign said in a news release yesterday that they have raised over $1.6 million in the last quarter with $1.4 million cash-on-hand heading into the final month of the campaign, compared to Donovan’s reported $277,000 cash-on-hand.

— In a recent campaign adDonovan described his Democratic opponent as “not one of us” for raising millions from out-of-district donors. The ad features a cropped photo of Rose on a background of flowing green dollar bills.

Colorado Gov: Polis’ personal spending on governor race reaches $22.3 million, outside spending tops $43.6 million statewide — by Sandra Fish: “Democrat Jared Polis poured another $2.5 million into his run for Colorado governor, bringing his total personal investment in the campaign to $22.3 million, according to campaign-finance reports.” [ColoradoSun]

POLL OF JEWISH VOTERS — A newly released online poll conducted by pollster Mark Mellman for the Jewish Electoral Institute (JEI) shows that 74 percent of U.S. Jews plan on voting for Democratic candidates for Congress this fall. About the same amount, 75 percent, disapprove of President Donald Trump. Approval of Trump’s Israel policy is at 51%, and 44% approve of the Jerusalem Embassy move.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Jewish voters believe the Democratic Party is “pro-Israel,” including 84% of those who identify themselves as Democrats, and 52% say that a candidate’s support for Israel is “very important.”

2020: 74% say they will vote for the Democratic presidential nominee, while 26% will vote to reelect Trump for a second term. And only 6% say Trump’s Israel policy will cause them to consider voting for him despite disagreements on other important issues. Another 20% say they support Trump’s policy on Israel, but “disagree with him on too many other important issues.”

Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) Executive Director Halie Soifer: “This poll proves what we have known for a long time: Americans Jews have a natural home in the Democratic Party due to its progressive, pro-Israel values.”

Data mining gets religion as campaigns target voters of faith: “Data has increasingly become the currency of political campaigns… “Before you knew it, you had this incredible profile of people,” said Steve Rabinowitz, co-founder and president of Bluelight Strategies… As elections focus more on mobilizing voters of known views… those profiles have become increasingly valuable… But traditional data hasn’t reflected beliefs. Religious information isn’t available for purchase from the census, from banks or from anyone else. “Nobody gathers religion,” Rabinowitz said.”

“Facebook has been a game changer, said Rabinowitz… As an example, Facebook has made it easier to create a model for likely Jewish voters and drive ads toward them. “You could say, ‘I want to target every Rosenbaum and Rosenthal and Rosen, and so on and so forth,’” said Barney Keller, a partner at Jamestown Associates, which produced media for Donald Trump’s campaign. “You can just use that as a way to target potentially Jewish voters. That’s the way a lot of it is done.” Rabinowitz has tried in the past to build a Jewish voter file. “It’s exceptionally difficult,” he told RNS.” [ReligionNews

IN BRAZIL — Right-winger would follow Trump’s lead on foreign policy — by Anthony Boadle: “One of the clearest signals would be moving Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following Trump’s cue, as neighboring Paraguay has done. Brazil has long supported a two-state solution for the conflict over Palestine and in 2010 recognized the Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with Israel. However, Jair Bolsonaro has said Palestine is not a country and vowed to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem and close the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.” [Reuters] • In Australia, Jewish voters split over embassy switch to Jerusalem [TheGuardian]

US envoy looks to boost Israel-Palestinian business cooperation in West Bank — by Jacob Magid: “US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met on Tuesday with a group of Israeli and Palestinian business leaders to discuss the joint economic ventures they are working to launch in the West Bank… The closed-door meeting took place in the city-settlement of Ariel and was organized by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an NGO that promotes Israeli-Palestinian commercial partnerships beyond the Green Line. Critics said this was another instance of Friedman breaking with US policy and supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”[ToI

DRIVING THE CONVO — Khashoggi Disappearance May Disrupt Trump Administration’s Plans to Squeeze Iran — by David Sanger: “Officials said the dilemma comes at a terrible moment for the Trump administration, which will reimpose harsh sanctions against Tehran on Nov. 4, with the intent of cutting off all Iranian oil exports. But to make the strategy work, the administration is counting on its relationship with the Saudis to keep oil flowing, and to work together on a new policy to contain Iran in the Gulf…  The strategy would present a common front with the Saudis, and cast Iran as the source of almost all instability in the Middle East. That argument, officials have now acknowledged, is now in jeopardy.” [NYTimes]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo writes… “We think a deal with the [Iranian] regime is possible. In the absence of one, Iran will face increasing costs for all its reckless and violent activity around the world. President Trump prefers not to conduct this campaign alone; he wants U.S. allies and partners on board.” [ForeignAffairs]

Former NSC official: “Anybody that says that we should blow up the peace plan or that we should basically blow up finally having some Middle Eastern unity over Iran, if they think we should do that over the death of one person, it’s a little ridiculous,” the former official said.” [YahooNews

Jared Kushner ‘deeply involved’ in White House response to Khashoggi’s disappearance — by Hunter Walker: “One source familiar with Kushner’s work said he is playing an important role in deciding how the White House will react to Khashoggi’s disappearance and communicating with the Saudi government. “He’s deeply, deeply involved in what’s going on,” the source said of Kushner…” [YahooNews

“The elite’s embrace of M.B.S. had been one of the chief foreign-policy goals of the Trump White House, particularly Jared Kushner. Saudi Arabia was crucial to Kushner’s yet-to-be-released Middle East peace plan that involved building a Sunni-Israeli alliance to broker peace with the Palestinians and counter an expansionist Iran. “Jared had a vision from the very beginning,” a former West Wing official said.” [VanityFair]

VIEW ON THE HILL — Lindsey Graham says “toxic” Mohammed bin Salman “has to go” — by Zachary Basu: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Fox & Friends Tuesday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) “can never be a leader on the world stage,” and that regardless of what President Trump does, Graham is going to move to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.” [Axios

Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) in a phone interview with Jewish Insider“I think we need to be smart, thoughtful and measured, but there needs to be a meaningful response to this incident. It needs to be diplomatic, it needs to potentially involve some economic power and we need to debate and discuss that and figure out what kind of response exactly we want. The administration will probably do some things on their own and then in Congress, we need to look at that response. Saudi Arabia is an ally in the fight against Iranian aggression. But that said, I think it’s important that we stand up for freedom of the press and human rights. You can’t just kill somebody you don’t like, even when you are a friend.”

ON THE GROUND — Trump administration has new plan to drive Iran out of Syria — by Courtney Kube and Carol Lee: “The new [U.S.] strategy would not involve the U.S. military directly targeting and killing Iranian soldiers or Iran’s proxies… [but] could strike the Iranian military if it felt threatened.” [NBCNews]

Colin Clarke and Ariane Tabatabai write… “Preventing a broader conflagration between [Israel and Iran] in Syria will be an essential part of the new Iran containment strategy. As such, it may be the only way to force Iran to commit to downsizing its military footprint in Syria in any meaningful way, making diplomacy a critical tool in the pursuit of this new policy.”[TheAtlantic]

Kimberly Guilfoyle: Trump’s support blocks Iran from wiping Israel ‘off the map’ — by Paul Bedard: “Kimberly Guilfoyle, vice chair of the Trump-aligned super PAC America First Action, told the Republican Jewish Coalition that the president’s arm-in-arm relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has worked to keep peace in the region. “Make no mistake, this president doesn’t gamble with Israel’s security the way the last president did. This president has a great relationship with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, unlike the last occupant of the White House,” said Guilfoyle… She added to applause, “Never forget Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and many other bad actors in the region would wipe Israel off the map tomorrow if they could, but with a strong partnership between Bibi and Trump that will not happen.”[WashExaminer]

Sen. Graham jokes his own DNA test would reveal Iranian roots, which would be ‘terrible’ — by William Cummings: “Sen. Lindsey Graham joked about the results of the DNA test shared by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying his own DNA test would probably determine he is Iranian, which would be “terrible.” As the South Carolina Republican’s segment on “Fox & Friends” came to a close, host Steve Doocy suggested Graham come back to the show with the results of his own genetic analysis… “I’ll probably be Iranian. That’d be, like, terrible,” Graham quipped… “They have great people, just bad leaders,” said Kilmeade… “Yeah, bad leaders,” Graham agreed. “I’m not in the Ayatollah branch.” [USAToday]

IDF attacks over 20 Gaza targets after rocket fire — by Itay Blumenthal and Elior Levy: “The IDF attacked over 20 targets, including a terror tunnel, in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning in retaliation for rocket fire that hit a home in Be’er Sheva… An IAF aircraft also attacked a terror cell… said to belong to an “errant” radical faction, which was formerly part of Fatah and now has close ties to Iran.” [Ynet]

HAPPENING TODAY — IDF Chief of  Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will address the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) gala at the New York Hilton Midtown. Other speakers include Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and Consul General Dani Dayan.

** 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: Starwood CEO Barry Sternlicht Eyes Expansion Into Private Equity, Venture, Credit [Bloomberg] • Barry Diller Calls on Google to Be Regulated [Skift] • Jared Kushner Still Not Involved in Startup Cadre, Co-Founder Says [Bloomberg] • Aventura Mall developer Don Soffer sells South Florida mansion for $6M [Bizjournals] • Carl Icahn has taken a stake in Dollar Tree [NYPost]

MEDIA WATCH: Craig Newmark, Newspaper Villain, Is Working to Save Journalism — by David Streitfeld: “Craig Newmark, so often accused of destroying journalism, is now doing his best to revive it. In the late 1990s, Mr. Newmark, a former IBM programmer, built Craigslist. On Wednesday, New York Public Radio announced a $2.5 million gift from Mr. Newmark to expand its newsroom. That brings his total philanthropic efforts involving media in the last year to $50 million, much of it centered on New York.” [NYTimes]

STARTUP NATION: Cognata raises $18.5M as race to deploy autonomous vehicles quickens — by Kirsten Korosec: “Cognata has raised $18.5 million in a funding round led by Scale Venture Partners, fresh capital that the Israeli autonomous simulation startup will use to meet demand for technology that will help companies speed up the deployment of self-driving vehicles.” [TechCrunchReuters] • Israeli startup Vayavision has raised $8m in seed funding led by Viola Ventures, Mizmaa Ventures and OurCrowd [Globes]

US, Israel issue joint Hanukkah postage stamp: “In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of U.S.-Israel diplomatic relations, Israel Post and the US Postal Service have issued a joint stamp for Hanukkah at the American Center in Jerusalem, Tuesday. The event was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman… The Hanukkah stamp is available for purchase at IPC branches in Israel and sells for NIS 8.30.” [Arutz7USPS

A Jewish prayer book owned by Marilyn Monroe is going up for auction — by Spencer Parlier and Christina Zdanowicz: “The book belonged to screen icon Marilyn Monroe, and it’s going up for auction on November 12 by J. Greenstein & Co. auction house in Cedarhurst, New York. Monroe converted to Judaism in 1956 upon marrying playwright Arthur Miller. According to the Jewish Museum in New York, Monroe took her conversion seriously, citing her relationship with the Millers’ family rabbi, Robert E. Goldburg, as they used to study Judaic texts together. “It’s worn, there is no question about it. It has been clearly used,” Jonathan Greenstein told CNN.”[CNN]

SPOTTED YESTERDAY — at the installation of Edward Perlmutter as Board Chairman of ZAKA-US in NYC: Ambassador Danny Danon, Edward Mermelstein, ZAKA founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, Michael Miller, Malcolm Hoenlein, Ronn Torossian, Gennady Perepada, Boris Lantsman, Gaukhar Kapparova, Aiya Tulemaganbetova, Shai Franklin, David Ben-Hooren, Menachem Bar-Shalom, and David Rose. [Pic

BIRTHDAYS: Founder of Maniv Investments in 1997 and Maniv Mobility — Israel’s first venture capital fund dedicated exclusively to the new mobility future — Michael Granoff turns 5-0… Hedge fund manager, he is the co-founder of AQR Capital Management, Cliff Asness turns 52… Rheumatologist and founder of the San Diego Arthritis Medical Clinic in 1975, Dr. Michael Keller turns 73… Rochester, NY resident, Peggy Futerman turns 61… Rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky turns 58… Professor of economics at Harvard who served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2012-2014), Jeremy Chaim Stein turns 58… CEO and founder of Crosscut Strategies, a DC-based public affairs firm, he was a senior advisor at OMB (2009-2012) and holds a doctorate in politics from Oxford University,  Kenneth Baer turns 46… Author and staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, Ariel Levy turns 44… Born in Haifa, raised in Sunnyvale, California, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Quixey, a search startup for apps (2009-2017), Tomer Kagan turns 35… Director and Co-Founder of OpenMind, Caroline Mehl… Ramsey, New Jersey-based licensed professional counselor with a Ph.D. in biological sciences, Dr. Shemsi Prinzivalli

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