Daily Kickoff: Ivanka breaks with her dad on attacking media | Yiddish Theater disinvites Ocasio-Cortez | Gillibrand on losing George Soros’ support

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HEARD THIS MORNING — Ivanka Trump in conversation with Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen at the Newseum in DC: “Every day I walk in the White House and that means something. It’s very special. And I never, ever let myself forget the privilege that I have to serve our country.”

In introducing the morning’s conversation, Mike Allen noted that “RSVPs for this event have broken all our records in 12 years of doing conversations like this. You’ve gotten more response than Bill Gates or Mark Cuban.” Ivanka reacted: “That’s pretty impressive.”

Ivanka on her future: “I am 36 years old, so I have a long life ahead of me, and I don’t know what it holds for me. At some point, I will likely return to the private sector, but I don’t have a timetable.”

Allen: So you might live in Washington permanently?

Ivanka: “Or not go back to that business (the fashion brand). I just don’t know. I am really passionate about the work i am doing here and I am committed to it.”

Allen: So you might spend the rest of your life in the ‘swamp’?

Ivanka: “Well, that’s highly unlikely.” [Video]

Allen: Do you think the media is the ‘enemy’ of the people?

Ivanka: “No, I do not. I can share my own personal perspective. I have certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate. So I have some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripe especially when they sort of feel targeted. But no, I do not feel that the media is ‘the enemy of the people.'”

Ivanka added that the news about family separations at the border was a “low point” during her time in the White House: “I felt very strongly about that and I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children… Immigration is incredibly complex as a topic. Illegal immigration is incredibly complicated. I am the daughter of an immigrant, my mother grew up in communist Czech Republic, but we are a country of laws… These are not easy issues, these are incredibly difficult issues and like the rest of the country, I experienced them in a very emotional way.” [CNN]

DRIVING THE CONVO — As Israel Enshrines Its Jewish Identity, Its Druze Minority Feels Abandoned — by Dov Lieber and Felicia Schwartz: “Scores of former senior military and police chiefs are pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to revise a recent law enshrining the country as a Jewish nation-state to include the Druze, an ethnic minority ingrained in military and civic life… On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu’s office offered a draft of a plan to address the community’s complaints, including legislation that would “anchor” the status of the Druze in law, offer benefits for minority-group members who serve in the military and recognize Druze’s contributions to protecting Israel.” [WSJ]

REPORT: Israel assures U.S. Jewish “nation-state” law won’t lead to discrimination — by Barak Ravid: “Senior U.S. officials asked senior officials in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office for clarification over the [new nation-state] law… The Israeli Prime Minister’s office confirmed the issue was raised during a meeting between Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz, and U.S. ambassador David Friedman… At this stage, the White House accepts the clarifications from Netanyahu’s office. Nevertheless, the U.S. is following the protests in Israel against the bill, and criticism about it in the Jewish community in America.”

“One of the critics of the law was Alan Dershowitz, who is perceived as being close to President Trump. Dershowitz spoke publicly against the law in an interview to i24 news channel.” [Axios]

PROFILE: Stav Shaffir Speaks for Us, Too — by Armin Rosen: “Despair is not a political strategy.” It isn’t an option for American Jews, either, Shaffir stressed. “One of the things that I wish for American Jews to understand, especially for the American liberal democratic camp of American Jews, is the amount of influence that the extreme right wing in Israel is getting from the American right,” she said. [Tablet]

— FIRST LOOK: Adam Rubenstein profiles “Kid Trump” — Charlie Kirk, the 24-year-old founder of Turning Point USA: “Charlie Kirk calls himself “the luckiest 24-year-old ever to exist.” He started the group six years ago instead of going to college and now has 130,000 high school students, undergrads, and recent college graduates on board in what he calls the fight “to save Western civilization.” [WeeklyStandard]

UPCOMING: National Security Advisor John Bolton will visit Israel from August 12th—13th amid Israeli concerns about the Trump Administration’s approach to Iran, according to Hadashot’s Dana Weiss.

— John Bolton Brings a Nuclear Superhawk Into the White House: “John Bolton has quietly gotten his very own John Bolton, and his name is Tim Morrison. Morrison possesses a hostility to negotiated restrictions on U.S. nuclear weapons that rivals Bolton’s own, as well as an expertise on nuclear issues undisputed by even his harshest critics… He’s a stridently partisan person who constantly insisted on confrontation with the [Obama] administration,” said a former official at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).” [DailyBeast]

Israel warns Iran of military response if it closed key Red Sea strait — by Ori Lewis: “If Iran will try to block the straits of Bab al-Mandeb, I am certain that it will find itself confronting an international coalition that will be determined to prevent this, and this coalition will also include all of Israel’s military branches,” Netanyahu said at a passing out parade for new naval officers in Haifa. [Reuters]

ON THE GROUND — Israel says Assad back in charge, Syrian front likely to be quieter: “Israel described the Syrian civil war as effectively over on Thursday and predicted that the Golan Heights frontier between the countries would be quieter with central rule by Damascus restored there… “From our perspective, the situation is returning to how it was before the civil war, meaning there is a real address, someone responsible, and central rule,” [Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman] told reporters, referring to a decades-old standoff between Israel and Syria.” [Reuters]

Israel Kills Seven Armed ISIS Terrorists Approaching Syria Border — by Yaniv Kubovich: “Seven Islamic State terrorists were killed in an Israeli attack overnight Wednesday in Syria’s Golan Heights. The terrorists came as close to 200 meters to the Israel-Syria border, at which point Israeli troops launched an attack against them.” [Haaretz]

Netanyahu cancels Colombia trip, citing Gaza situation: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled a trip to Colombia planned for next week due to the situation around the Gaza Strip, an Israeli official said on Thursday.” [Reuters]

U.S. quietly released funding a few weeks ago to the Palestinian Authority security forces: “Top Trump administration officials have talked up America’s years of assistance to Palestinians — even as the administration has taken steps to curtail its own contributions. “The United States has given billions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians. We’ve done nothing but help,” a senior administration official told NPR… “Anybody who thinks that the United States has to engender more goodwill with them after all this country has done for them is not necessarily looking at the full picture.”

“The U.S. quietly released funding a few weeks ago to the Palestinian Authority security forces. The money supports them working with Israel to maintain security in the West Bank, the State Department said. Now the administration is deciding which other Palestinian aid projects it might unfreeze, based on whether the projects meet national security interests and policy goals and provide “value to U.S. taxpayers,” a State Department official said, without specifying.” [NPR

Israel inaugurates Jewish heritage center in hotly contested East Jerusalem neighborhood — by Erin Cunningham: “Amid high security, senior Israeli ministers and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a staunch supporter of Israel, attended the ceremony on a narrow, trash-strewn street in the Silwan neighborhood, a recent flash point for tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israel government says the center will honor Yemenite Jews who lived here in the 19th century and has allocated $1.2 million to develop the site.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL — Yesterday, the Senate passed (87-10) the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. The legislation includes the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, which authorizes the 10-year MOU (memorandum of understanding) signed between Israel and the Obama administration in 2016, $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation and up to $50 million for U.S.-Israel counter-tunnel cooperation. The bill now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

Israeli-born New York Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens) sent a follow-up letter addressed to President Trump urging the administration to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Department of State for a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism. “The Special Envoy has played a unique and important role in the effort to fight against anti-Semitism and for human rights. Please appoint a Special Envoy to help eradicate anti-Semitism and do not allow this important post to remain vacant,” Rozic wrote.

TOP TALKER: Kirsten Gillibrand Pays The Price For Speaking Out Against Al Franken — by Amanda Terkel: “Most prominently, Gillibrand has attracted the ire of billionaire George Soros, who has long funded Democratic candidates and causes. Soros recently said he wasn’t sure whom he was supporting for 2020, but that it absolutely wouldn’t be Gillibrand. He accused her of going after Franken, “whom I admire,” to “improve her chances” for president. “If standing up for women who have been wronged makes George Soros mad, that’s on him,” Gillibrand said in a statement to HuffPost… When someone does something wrong, you have to speak up and be counted, whether it’s President Trump, or a Democratic colleague.”” [HuffPost]

Ocasio-Cortez Invite To Shoah Museum Backfires— by Stewart Ain: “The Immigrant Arts Coalition was trying to make a match — hold a conference on immigration and women’s empowerment at the museum and feature the future face of the Democratic Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez… But… it turned out not to be a match made in heaven. The National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, which is currently performing “Fiddler on the Roof” at the museum and is listed as a co-sponsor of the conference, was not informed in advance that Ocasio-Cortez… had been invited to speak next Sunday.”

“The group’s chairman, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, said he was informed by an irate board member whose neighbor learned of it from a flyer in the mail. “Absent a public reassessment by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez of her unfair and extremist position [on Israel], she dishonors both the Immigrant Summit and the museum by her scheduled appearance,” Wiesenfeld said in a statement.” [JewishWeek]

HAPPENING TODAY: Primary Threat Targets One of Two Jewish Republicans in the House — by Simone Pathé: “The next test of President Donald Trump’s endorsement power will come in Tennessee, where a little-known freshman — one of two Jewish Republicans in the House —  is being outspent more than 2-to-1… Most Tennessee political operatives think Rep. David Kustoff will survive… But they acknowledge that 2018 is an unpredictable year. A loss would make Kustoff the fourth House incumbent and the third Republican to fall in a primary this year.” [RollCallIndependent]

2020 WATCH — Republicans abuzz over Schmidt’s divorce from GOP — by Ben Schreckinger, Eliana Johnson and Daniel Lippman: “Steve Schmidt’s public break from the GOP and quiet departure from his corporate PR gig earlier this summer are fueling speculation in Republican circles that he’ll advise a presidential bid by his longtime client, former Starbucks chief Howard Schultz… “I don’t have any plans to be on a political campaign, and I would never jump into one too lightly,” Schmidt said in an interview. “Howard Schultz is a hell of a man, a hell of a leader. I’m proud to call him a friend, but there’s no campaign, and I don’t have anything to tell you.” … Few of Schmidt’s peers believe that. The moves, and speculation about Schmidt’s future, have not escaped the notice of Republican operatives.”[Politico]

MUELLER WATCH — Trump Pushes for Interview With Mueller Against Lawyers’ Advice — by Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman: “For the past week, Mr. Trump has expressed frustration about the confluences of investigations that have dogged him. The president told his advisers that the Russia inquiry and a separate federal investigation in Manhattan into his former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, have undermined him for too long and need to be brought to an end.” [NYTimes]

Learning From Henry Kissinger — by Jeremi Suri: “The authors of “Kissinger the Negotiator,” James K. Sebenius, R. Nicholas Burns and Robert H. Mnookin, are an all-star trio of experts on negotiation in business, law and diplomacy. They have focused on Kissinger because he is unsurpassed for the range and intensity of his negotiations as national security adviser and secretary of state… Kissinger repeatedly told Soviet, Chinese and other leaders that they should work only with him, encouraging disregard for the rest of the American government. This personalization of his negotiations runs against the authors’ advice about building a strong team. Kissinger was, in fact, a terrible team player. And many of his negotiations, particularly with the Soviet Union and the Middle East states, proved unsustainable after his departure.”[NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Les Moonves’s Long, Slow, Potentially Lucrative Walk Down the Plank [VanityFair• 23andMe and other home test companies pledge new privacy guidelines on using people’s DNA [Mashable] • Hillary Clinton, Steven Spielberg Bringing Women’s Voting Drama to TV [HollywoodReporter]

Hope Hicks dines with Manhattan power broker: “Hope Hicks was spotted on a lunch date with Manhattan power broker Aryeh Bourkoff — the man once linked to the creation of an alleged Trump TV network… at hot spot Avra Madison on the Upper East Side… A source told us: “Aryeh is incredibly successful and well-connected, and has been generous offering career advice to a wide range of people.” … Hicks is still close with Kushner and Ivanka Trump.”[PageSix]

HOLLYWOOD: Netflix Won’t Offer Louis Farrakhan Documentary — by Amanda Svachula: “It appeared that “The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan: My Life’s Journey Through Music,” would be available for streaming on Netflix on Aug. 1, according to a now-deleted MondayTwitter announcement from Mr. Farrakhan’s account… The film was not actually supposed to be scheduled, but, because of an “internal miscommunication,” appeared to be on various platforms, a spokesperson for Netflix said in an email… Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center… said he immediately called up the Netflix chief executive, Ted Sarandos, who told him that a “glitch” had occurred, and the movie would not be released. Rabbi Hier said it would be terrible to give Mr. Farrakhan “legitimacy” on such a national level by streaming this documentary.”[NYTimes]

Israelis tickled by Sacha Baron Cohen’s grotesque caricature — by Aron Heller: “The reaction has mostly been astonishment about the accuracy of the portrayal. He really got some of our traits down,” Einav Schiff, a TV critic for the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, said with a chuckle. “Everyone here knows an ‘Erran Morad’ but I haven’t recognized any outrage or embarrassment about the character. It’s mostly been ridicule for these Americans who have fallen for him.” [AP]

Congressman avoids becoming Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest fool — by Marisa Schultz: “Katie Vincentz, communications director for [Rep. Lee] Zeldin, said his staff became wary when they checked out the TV station — Yerushalayim Television — and found it had minimal presence online and very little social media activity. Also, the producer had an American name. “To be candid, it was a little suspicious that someone who was the producer of Yerushalayim Television in Israel would be ‘Julia Harris’,” Vincentz said.”[NYPost]

NYTimes’ bureau chief for Jerusalem David Halbfinger on the tech he’s using when reporting from Gaza and the West Bank: “Probably the most vital tech tool I carry is the lightest: a paper clip to switch SIM cards. I’ve been here less than a year and finally got a local number from the Palestinian provider Jawwal, which has good coverage across Gaza and can be quickly replenished at countless retail shops… I juggle the Gaza and New York phones depending on which has the stronger signal.” What tech tools do you use to navigate the language barrier in Hebrew and Arabic? “I depend way too heavily on Google Translate, both for work and in my personal life. For accurate translations I rely on an excellent support staff, but in scanning social media I routinely turn to automated translations — far more than I’d like.”[NYT]

Travel service identifies Jerusalem as ‘Israeli settlement’ — by Yaron Steinbuch: “A Dutch travel reservation service called Jerusalem an “Israeli settlement” … “I thought it was a hoax until I checked it out and saw it with my own eyes,” Michael Freilich, editor in chief of the Joods Actueel in Antwerp, said after a reader tipped him off to Booking[dot]com’s faux pas about the capital city… Hours after Freilich complained Tuesday, Jerusalem appeared on as actually being in Israel.” [NYPost]

ACROSS THE POND: British Jews Find Their Voice — by Ben Judah: “Once British Jews would never have thrown around synonyms for genocide so carelessly, at such a delicate and important moment… What has changed is not so much the community, but the environment of British politics. This is Brexit Britain. A country known for its moderation has suddenly discovered extremism… The Jewish community is no longer so polite. Now we see incendiary headlines, vigilante Twitter accounts, left-wing and pro-Corbyn Jews branded as traitors.” [TheAtlantic]

CAMPUS BEAT — Josh Nathan-Kazis on anti-BDS groups: “When a BDS vote comes to a U.S. college campus today, a pro-Israel cavalry arrives, whether or not they’re called. The list of Jewish groups that do anti-BDS work on campuses is bafflingly long. A partial tally includes StandWithUs, AEPi, CAMERA, the David Project, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Jerusalem U, AIPAC, Sheldon Adelson’s Maccabee Task Force, and the Zionist Organization of America. The total amount of American Jewish and Israeli government funds flooding the anti-BDS effort is easily in the tens of millions of dollars each year.” [Forward]

SPORTS BLINK — Israel baseball team in 2020 Olympics: That’s the goal: “If you thought Israel’s strong showing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic was unexpected, how about seeing an Israeli baseball team in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo? “It would be incredible,” said Peter Kurz, president of the Israel Baseball Association… Kurz is serious about constructing an Israeli baseball team that will be ready to compete in Olympic qualifying rounds in Europe in the fall of 2019. The roster would include several American professional players who intend to make aliyah this fall; all players must have an Israeli passport to compete in the Olympics.” [JPost]

DESSERT: Where to Surf, Eat, Drink, and Dance in Tel Aviv — by Natalie Compton: “Tel Aviv’s beachfront promenade is a feast for the eyes (and the ‘gram) on any given sunset. The sea shimmers, the palm trees sway. Happy dogs trot alongside six-packed owners. After dark, the streets only get busier. Tel Aviv has one hell of a nightlife scene.” [GQ]

BIRTHDAYS: Jerusalem-born actor, who moved to the US as a child, and has appeared in over 400 TV episodes, Nehemiah Persoff turns 99… Co-founder and chairman of NYC-based real estate development firm, Rockrose Development Corporation, Henry Elghanayan turns 78… Long-time member of Knesset, in the Likud party (1984-2006) and the Yisrael Beiteinu party (2009-2015), he also held several ministerial posts, Uzi Landau turns 75… Retired colonel in the US Army and a recipient of the Medal of Honor and seven other medals, he taught at West Point and serves as a military analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, Jack H. Jacobs turns 73… Long-time librarian, now residing in Houston, Irene Seff turns 72… Nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, columnist for the Jewish Journal, author and public speaker, Dennis Prager turns 70… Op-Ed columnist for the International New York Times, he has worked as a foreign correspondent in fifteen different countries, Roger Cohen turns 63…

Democratic member of the US House of Representatives for Nevada’s 3rd congressional district since 2017, she is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate in the 2018 election, Jacklyn Sheryl Rosen turns 61… Owner of Newton, Massachusetts-based MPG Promotions, Elliot Mael turns 53… VP and General Counsel of Yeshiva University, Andrew ”Avi” Lauer turns 51… ATP professional tennis player (1983 to 1996), who was once ranked sixth best in the world, Aaron Krickstein turns 51… SVP of Sales for Hearst Television, Eric J. Meyrowitz turns 48… Former reporter for both the AP and Wall Street Journal, now a DC-based national security reporter for The New York Times where he won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018, Matthew Rosenbergturns 44… Product marketing manager at Google, Stephen L. Rabin turns 40… CEO of a multi-national toy and gift company, a founding member of Mesila of Baltimore (a non-profit financial advisory organization) and The Jewish Entrepreneur (a mentoring program), Isaac William (“Zevy”) Wolman turns 34… Director of special projects at the DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Julia Nayfeld Schulman turns 34… Actress best known for her 1999 “Pepsi Girl” role as a seven year old, and later for subsequent teen roles, Hallie Kate Eisenberg turns 26… Harriet Cohen




Daily Kickoff: Israelis blindsided by Trump’s comments on Iran but ‘reassured’ no shift in U.S. policy | Speaker Paul Ryan discovers Jewish roots

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DRIVING THE CONVO: House Speaker Paul Ryan uncovers Jewish roots on PBS show — by Beth Harris: “The Wisconsin Republican discovered his family history while filming a segment for the upcoming season of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.” Gates said Tuesday at a TV critics meeting that he traced Paul Ryan’s heritage back to his 10th great-grandfather born in 1531 in Germany. The research showed Ryan is 3 percent Ashkenazi Jewish.”

“You could have knocked him over with a feather and then he was very proud of it,” Gates said of Ryan’s reaction. “We don’t know who that Jewish person was, but we know it was on his mother’s German line, which makes sense. So somebody who was a Christian German slept with a Jewish German person and that’s where that came from.” [APWashPost]

Politico’s Jake Sherman tweets“Paul Ryan is the first Jewish speaker of the House.”

— Ryan’s Press Secretary AshLee Strong replies“Breaking.”

Former Paul Ryan advisor Dan Senor tells us that Ryan called him late at night on July 11th to break the news. “I have something really exciting to tell you, I just learned that I’m part Jewish. I’m officially a member of the family!” Senor jokingly replied, “Just our luck, we Jews finally get a Jewish Speaker except it’s a Speaker that’s about to retire!”

Senor noted that during their time together on the campaign trail, he and Ryan would sometimes share Shabbat dinner. Senor said he would make the Kiddush and Motzi and Ryan knew some of the blessings from Jewish family friends in Janesville. “Perhaps now he can use them every Friday night,” Senor said.

TALK OF THE REGION — PA slams US ambassador for ‘provocative’ visits to settlements — by Khaled Abu Toameh: “The Palestinian Authority… accused the US administration and its “Zionist staff” of working towards imposing their policies on the international community. The PA’s condemnation came after Friedman paid a condolence visit Monday to the family of Yotam Ovadia who was stabbed to death Thursday in a terrorist attack in Adam.” [JPost

Amb. Friedman responds“Yesterday I visited a young widow grieving the death of her husband, murdered last week by a Palestinian terrorist. I was heartbroken by her tears and those of her in-laws who had lost their only son. Today, the PA Foreign Ministry condemned my visit. Nothing more to say.”

Mike Huckabee says he may buy home in West Bank settlement: “Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee… laid bricks and spread cement Wednesday in a new neighborhood in Efrat. He says he may one day “purchase a holiday home” there. Huckabee… says he’s sure President Donald Trump would have been pleased to join him, “because he is a builder and he loves to see construction sites.”” [AP]

INTERVIEW — White House Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt talked with Hamodia’s Sara Lehmann about the Trump administration’s Middle East policy:

Greenblatt on the two-state solution: “Different people think it means different things, and in isolation, it does not really mean anything… The Israeli Palestinian conflict is so nuanced, so complicated. No one understands what a two-state solution really means, particularly when it comes to issues related to Israel’s security or recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. There are just too many layers… Without the right context, it’s just a slogan, which is why we don’t use it.”

Does Bolton agree? — Greenblatt: “In terms of President Abbas, we have not advocated for regime change. That’s not for us to do. We don’t dictate to others who to choose as their leaders or negotiators.”

Support for Nikki Haley: “I’m sure you’re also well aware of Ambassador Haley’s work at the U.N. She’s been doing an unbelievable job for Israel, defending Israel, and trying to reset the conversation at the U.N. I think she is making changes; she is dedicated to this.”

Greenblatt on whether he gets the Dershowitz Martha’s Vineyard treatment: “Most of my friends respect what this administration is trying to accomplish. I’ve definitely experienced a few people who are just anti-the Trump Administration and have therefore cut off ties with me. That has been very disappointing to me. You know people for ten, twenty years and then they turn their nose up at you in the street. Thankfully, it’s been very few but it’s surprising… I also think, after a year and a half, people understand that coming up to me at shul to tell me we can never achieve peace or explain their way to achieve peace isn’t the way to help the administration. So we’ve gotten past that as well.” [Hamodia

HEARD LAST NIGHT — President Trump touted the Jerusalem Embassy move at a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida: “We took an existing building, we played around with it; we renovated it, we fixed it up. We used Jerusalem stone, one of the finest stones, actually, in the world.”

— Claims no one else would have moved the embassy: “Can you imagine Crooked Hillary doing that? Honestly, can you imagine? (‘lock her up’ chants) In all fairness to her, could you imagine anybody else doing that? Nobody else was going to do that.” [CSPAN]

— Trump on Iran: “I hope it works out with Iran. They are having a lot of difficulties right now. I hope it works out well, and I have a feeling they will be talking to us pretty soon. And maybe not, and that’s okay too.” [CSPAN

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley aboard Air Force 1: The President “has been clear on what he wants from Iran, and that is to end its destabilization efforts, its actions of being the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. And he’s been tough on Iran for that very reason… We’ve ramped up sanctions on Iran, and we’ve bolstered some of our partnerships to try and put more pressure on Iran. So this continues. But as he said yesterday… he does want to meet, he wants to come to a solution. And when we have an announcement, we’ll let you know.”

Ordinary Iranians on Trump Talks Offer: ‘Why Not Try the Americans?’ — by Thomas Erdbrink: “Jamshid Moniri, a 45-year-old building contractor sweating under the Tehran summer sun, summed up what many ordinary Iranians think. “Of course we should talk to Trump,” he said on Tuesday. “What is wrong with talks? We’d be nuts not to talk to him.” [NYTimes]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: Trump comments on Iran don’t signal policy shift, U.S. assures Israel — by Barak Ravid: “Senior U.S. officials reassured Israel today that regardless of President Trump’s public call for direct and unconditional talks with Iran, there is no change in the administration’s tough policy against the Iranian regime, Israeli officials tell me… Trump’s statement on talks with Iran blindsided the Israeli government… After the statement, Israeli officials asked whether there had been a change in policy, an official said.” [Axios

— “Yaakov Amidror, a former national security advisor, joked that Israelis should always worry about everything, but on a more serious note estimated that Trump’s remarks do not yet signal a significant departure from his aggressive approach toward the regime.” [ToI]

Former advisor to seven Israeli Prime Ministers, Shalom Lipner emails us… “Was safe to assume that Iran – at least for now – would stick with righteous indignation and refuse Trump’s initial overture. But that could easily change. Iranian leaders are undoubtedly studying the North Korean precedent. And it might not be long before we have a repeat of Singapore, where a hostile leader (Kim Jong-Il) signed a mostly meaningless document with Trump and was offered respect and rehabilitation in return. Tehran could do worse than to make a similar transaction. And then Israel could have a big problem with Trump if it maintained its belligerent stance toward his administration’s newest friend and partner.”

Dore Gold, former Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emails us… “The worst thing Israel could do with President Trump’s Iran statement is to take what are the inevitable tactical shifts in diplomacy and read into them much larger strategic changes that Washington might contemplate. It must be recalled that there is a wide chasm between the U.S. and Iranian positions which make a full rapprochement between them highly unlikely. President Trump withdrew from the Iran agreement, calling it “defective at its core.” Yet Iran still clings to the agreement and shows no sign of any willingness to modify it. The U.S. wants Iran out of Syria, but Iran remains steadfast in insisting that it will remain. Overall, Iran’s expansionist ambitions are visible from Morocco to Iraq and Yemen. It is now openly threatening the freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.”

“Historically, the U.S. has always been prepared to give diplomacy ‘another chance’ – like the famous meeting between Secretary of State James Baker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz before the First Gulf War. That meeting was hardly a signal that President Bush (41) was about to accept the policies of Saddam Hussein.”

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tweets“Trump’s famous unpredictability now enters his Iran policy. He says he wants to meet Rouhani without preconditions. Pompeo then rushes out to list a series of preconditions. The trouble, if you are an ally of the United States, is: who do you believe? Trump’s record on such summits, which he prefers be improvisational, rather than well-prepared, raises concerns… A clever Iranian play might be to draw Trump into talks. Because if Trump actually gets in a room with the Iranians, God only knows what could happen. Certainly, his advisers and America’s allies don’t know.”

Aaron David Miller writes… “Trump’s Iran offer is just more ‘all about me’ diplomacy: We should have channels to Tehran, if only to lessen the dangers of an unnecessary and dangerous war. But without a broader policy toward Iran, a summit with a senior Iranian is not only a key to an empty room, but another one of Trump’s unproductive and potentially dangerous “all-about-me” summits.” [CNN]

ON THE GROUND — Russia says Iranian forces pulled back from Golan in Syria; Israel unsatisfied — by Polina Nikolskaya and Dan Williams: “Iranian forces have withdrawn their heavy weapons in Syria to a distance of 85 km (53 miles) from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, TASS quoted a Russian envoy as saying on Wednesday, but Israel deemed the pullback inadequate… [Alexander] Lavrentiev said Iranian service personnel whom he described as advisors could be among Syrian army forces who remain closer to the Israeli border.” [Reuters]

ISRAEL — DIASPORA RELATIONS: Dennis Ross and Stuart Eizenstat write… “We’re Staunch Zionists. And We Are Worried About Israel’s Democracy: The Israeli government and public need to become more aware of the long-term consequences of steps that may, over time, weaken Israel’s democracy. Israel can ill afford to lose a majority of Democrats or a substantial percentage of American Jewry; throughout its history, the American Jewish community has been and remains a pillar of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. It needs to remain so, and that is why we are speaking out now.” [Forward]

Gershom Gorenberg writes… “Netanyahu weakens support for Israel in the United States: With a few exceptions, the Israeli media has paid scant attention to Democratic dissatisfaction. Immediate crises on the borders take up too much bandwidth… As for Netanyahu, he appears oblivious. Perhaps Israeli diplomats have cautioned him that his actions could affect the attitude of a changed Congress after November, or of a Democratic administration after Trump. If so, there’s no sign he’s listening.” [WashPost]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: Kelly Agrees to Remain Chief of Staff Through 2020 at Trump’s Request — by Rebecca Ballhaus, Byron Tau and Peter Nicholas: “White House chief of staff John Kelly told staff on Mondaythat President Trump had asked him to remain in his post through the 2020 election… Mr. Kelly told staff he agreed to the president’s request.” [WSJ]

— “There also have been recent discussions inside Trump’s orbit about Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as a possible successor to Kelly. A Trump loyalist who also is close to Ivanka Trump and Kushner, Mnuchin was being encouraged by some allies to consider the post… But Mnuchin did not seriously entertain the entreaties and is happy in his role…” [WashPost]

2018 WATCH — Trump endorsed David Kustoff (R-TN), a Jewish Republican in Congress, for reelection: “Congressman David Kustoff has been a champion for the Trump Agenda – I greatly appreciate his support. David is strong on crime and borders, loves our Military, Vets and Second Amendment. Get out and vote for David on Thursday, August 2nd. He has my Full and Total Endorsement!”

— Flashback: In an interview with Jewish Insider last March, Kustoff rated Trump’s performance an “A.”

Ted Cruz bashes Beto O’Rourke for accepting funds from J Street PAC; Democrat notes they are from individuals — by Rachel Cohrs: “Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign is criticizing his challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, for accepting contributions collected by a political action committee that backs candidates based on their support of a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cruz released a statement Mondayderiding O’Rourke for taking $167,408 in contributions this election cycle collected by the J Street PAC. The PAC did not contribute directly to O’Rourke– it bundled donations on O’Rourke’s behalf… O’Rourke has made rejecting PAC money a calling card of his campaign.” [DallasNews]

Muslim candidates band together in Michigan — by David Weigel: “[Rashida] Tlaib… would join Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) as the second Palestinian American in Congress. At a forum at a Detroit synagogue on Friday night, she told Jewish voters that she wants more integration between Jews and Muslims in Israel. “We need to be much more honest about the fact that the walls are not working,” Tlaib said in an interview. “We need to be honest about the dehumanization on both sides, frankly. And more importantly, we need to be not choosing a side. What I bring to the table, growing up in a Palestinian American household, and coming to Detroit, is an understanding that there’s so much comparison between what happened there and what happened to African Americans here.”” [WashPost]

SPOTLIGHT: Russian Agent And A GOP Operator Left A Trail Of Cash, Documents Reveal — by Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier: “Last summer, [Paul] Erickson sent two wires for $15,000 to a California company established by the son and brother of Jack Abramoff, a disgraced former lobbyist who is Erickson’s longtime friend, political ally, and business partner. The company, Landfair Capital Consulting, was incorporated in March 2017. Abramoff’s son, Alex, a recent college graduate, is the CEO and sole director; Abramoff’s brother, Robert, is the registered agent. Because the company was newly established and based out of the home of Alex Abramoff, who does not list it on his public profiles, bank investigators flagged it as a possible shell company established to hide Jack Abramoff’s interests. Abramoff has not been accused of wrongdoing.” [BuzzFeed]

Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina Told American CEO: Send Cash to Moscow — by Betsy Woodruff: “The story starts in June 2008, with legendary American businessman Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the one-time CEO of insurance and financial services giant AIG. Greenberg’s Starr Russia Investments III bought 20 percent of Investtorgbank, a Russian bank.” [DailyBeast]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Shari Redstone’s Company Accuses CBS Executives of Destroying Evidence [HollywoodReporterDeadline] • CBS Alleges Videotape of Ailing Mogul Sumner Redstone Felled Board Member [WSJ] • Kobre & Kim Partners With Bentham on $30M Fund Aimed at Litigating Claims for Israeli Start-Ups [TheRecorder] • The story of the 37-year-old who took over the New York Times and is taking on Trump [WashPost]

Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at Treasury Chris Campbell is leaving his post. Marc Rowan, co-founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, told Politico’s Ben White: “He’s just an incredibly smart and incredibly nice guy. Democrats and Republicans really loved Chris and found him to be a straight shooter. He’ll be very attractive in New York between his time at Treasury and before that at Senate Finance.”

SHELDON & SCOTUS: Kavanaugh Sided With Trump Casino in 2012 to Thwart Union Drive — by Josh Eidelson: “Judge Brett Kavanaugh sided with Trump Entertainment Resorts’ successful effort to thwart a unionization drive at one of its casinos… The casino has since shut down. But labor advocates point to the case — as well as ones where he backed management at Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Venetian hotel and at SeaWorld after an orca killed a worker — as evidence that Kavanaugh may hobble enforcement of workplace laws and the already-embattled union movement.” [Bloomberg]

MEDIA WATCH: Kushner Family Newspaper Cuts Ties With Writer Who Attacked Kremlin Foes — by Steven Perlberg: “The Kushner family–owned New York Observer has cut ties with a writer who has, since 2014, authored dozens of pro-Kremlin articles for the website, the most recent a story in April offering Russia’s spin that the British staged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons…” [BuzzFeed]

The Times Appoints Cliff Levy to Lead Metro, Throwing a Monkey Wrench in the Future Executive-Editor Runoff — by Joe Pompeo: On Tuesday afternoon, The New York Times [announced] the appointment of Cliff Levy, a veteran reporter, editor, and digital-newsroom seer of sorts, to lead the Metro section… But the real story behind the Levy appointment has implications beyond what happens at Metro… According to Times sources familiar with the process, the move was pitched to Levy as an important gesture, and one that would make him a stronger candidate for executive editor when the time comes.” [VanityFair]

Noah Pollak tweeted a 12 part thread: “A thread about Forward reporter Josh Nathan-Kazis using Al Jazeera as a source on a forthcoming story in which he will smear pro-Israel groups that are working to combat the BDS movement…”

Pollak emails us: “I have seen emails from Josh Nathan-Kazis in which he states that his forthcoming report is based on materials leaked to him by Al Jazeera — specifically transcripts of secret recordings made by a spy Al Jazeera sent to Washington to infiltrate Jewish groups. Those recordings were supposed to form the basis of an Al Jazeera “documentary” promoting ugly tropes about Jewish political power, but the Qatari regime compelled Al Jazeera to shelve it. At what point was The Forward going to inform its readers that the basis for its allegations is a film too extreme even for Al Jazeera? Here’s something else Forward readers should know: Mr. Nathan-Kazis hasn’t seen video or heard audio to substantiate the “transcripts.” He and his editors are simply trusting that documents supplied by a notorious anti-Israel activist in Qatar are accurate.”

When asked for The Forward’s response, Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner declined to comment about the publication’s work in progress but added, “Much, if not all, of what Noah Pollak asserts is not true.”

Documentary Examines Largest Immigration Raid In U.S. History: “What started was the biggest immigration raid in U.S. history: 389 immigrants were detained of which 287 ended up being deported,” says Univision’s Almudena Toral, who produced “America First,” a new documentary on the [Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse plant in Postville, Iowa] raid… “This town has a high percentage of immigrants, but still, the county where it’s located at voted majority for Trump, over 58 percent for Trump. And it wasn’t unusual. We met a lot of Trump supporters. The interesting thing is that a lot of them voted for Trump on a one-issue basis. So some of the ones that lived in Postville were pro-immigration, but for example, the economics and jobs [were] a huge issue for them, so they voted for him that way, or [on] national security, some of the Jewish people.” [WBUR]

ACROSS THE POND: Corbyn apologizes over event where Israel was compared to Nazis — by Sarah Marsh: “Jeremy Corbyn has apologized for speaking at an event where the actions of Israel in Gaza were compared to the Nazis. The Labour leader acknowledged he had appeared with people “whose views I completely reject” when he hosted a Holocaust Memorial Day event in 2010, while he was a backbench MP. He apologised for the “concerns and anxiety” it had caused.” [TheGuardian

SPORTS BLINK — New book reveals Tom Brady freaked out at Patriots owner Bob Kraft after Deflategate: “In the new book 12: The Inside Story of Tom Brady’s Fight for Redemption, authors Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge claim that the quarterback was caught completely off-guard on May 19, 2015, when Kraft announced he would not appeal the loss of multiple draft picks, $1 million fine and four-game suspension for Brady in a press conference alongside NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.” [DailyMailNYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Formerly CEO of multi-billion travel and hotel franchisor Cendant Corporation, now CEO of 54 Madison Partners LLC, Henry Silverman turns 78… Israeli film director and screenwriter, winner of the Israel Prize and Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University, Ram Loevy turns 78… Founder and chairman of NYC-based Midtown Equities, a major developer of nationwide real estate projects, he started his career as the owner of a record label and then as a video game publisher, Joseph Cayre turns 77… President of Brandeis University from 1994-2010, he is now a professor at Brandeis and the president of the Cleveland-based Mandel Foundation, Jehuda Reinharzturns 74… Egyptian-born British businessman, graduate of both Oxford and Harvard Business School, he has been described as “the father of British venture capital,” Sir Ronald Mourad Cohen turns 73…

Israeli born businessman and film producer, later CEO of Marvel Studios, Avi Arad turns 70… Santa Monica, California resident, Eric Biren turns 66… Long-time media writer for The Washington Post, then at the Daily Beast, and now at Fox News, Howard Kurtz turns 65… US diplomat now serving as the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Cuba, he was the US Ambassador to Bolivia (2006-2008) and the Philippines (2013-2016), Philip Seth Goldbergturns 62… Elected for three terms in the Minnesota Senate (2006, 2010 and 2012), she ran for the US House of Representatives in 2016, Terri E. Bonoffturns 61… Born in Israel, raised in Cleveland, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience and the director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D. turns 59… Government relations strategist in the DC office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, previously chief of staff for Senator Al Franken and more recently senior counselor to the Secretary of HHS, Andrew (“Drew”) Littman turns 57… Senior Rabbi of the British movement for Reform Judaism, Laura Naomi Janner-Klausner turns 55… SVP for External Relations and Chief Communications Officer at The Center for Strategic and International Studies, H. Andrew Schwartz turns 50…

Former US Ambassador to Israel (2011-2017), Daniel B. Shapiro turns 49. When asked what’s a fun fact people in DC might not know, Shapiro tellsPolitico’s Birthday of the Day section: “I met my wife, Julie, at Jewish summer camp (in Wisconsin) when we were 14 years old. So we prioritize sending our daughters to a camp similar to the one we attended, and try to spend at least one weekend visiting and guest lecturing each summer. We are hoping to get at least one son-in-law out of it.”

The son of two Hebrew University professors, himself a professor of mathematics at Princeton (since 2004) and Hebrew U (since 2009), winner of the 2010 Fields Medal, Elon Lindenstrauss turns 48… HAFTR and YU graduate, tech entrepreneur and political correspondent, Ari Zoldan turns 42… CEO of Moishe House, David Cygielman turns 37… Staffer for Hillary Clinton in her Senate and State Department posts, now an SVP at corporate and personal branding firm Main & Rose, David Helfenbein turns 32… Communications and policy specialist and analyst in the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, previously president of the Binghamton University Zionist Organization, Yael Rabin turns 26… Director of New York Government Relations at Agudath Israel of America since 2017, previously Executive Director of the Boro Park Jewish Community Council, Yeruchim Silber… Treasurer of the Harvard Law School Republicans, Asher Perez… Vice President of Student Engagement and Leadership at Hillel International, she is a co-founder of Ask Big Questions, a national initiative of Hillel,  Sheila Katz… Culver City, California resident, Allene Prince




Daily Kickoff: Trump floats summit with Iran without preconditions | Israel’s UNRWA dilemma | Paul Grinberg has eaten at 99 of the 100 top restaurants

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PODCAST PLAYBACK — Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield talks about growing up in the remote backwoods of British Columbia, Canada on NPR’s How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz: “[My parents] had restored an old log cabin that was built around the turn of the last century. Didn’t have running water until I was 3, didn’t have electricity till I was 4… My mother’s father, who came from Poland to Montreal in between World War I and World War II, was coming to visit them. And they had a bathtub in the front yard and, you know, just like trying to eat the food that they were growing and didn’t have many possessions. And he was like, ‘I can’t believe I escaped the shtetl in Poland and sent all of you to university, and now you’re back living in this dump.'”

Raz: You are now a billionaire, I mean, at least on paper. Does that eliminate stress in your life? Does that mean that everything’s set? Everything is taken care of?

Butterfield: “One nominal correction, we’ve been around for a long time as a company and I have four co-founders so I’m not even a billionaire on paper (laughter). Yeah, it certainly makes my life easier… There’s all that research that beyond a certain amount of money it doesn’t make your life any better.”

“I really feel like there’s three levels of wealth in the world. The first level is I’m not stressed out about debt. People who no longer worry about their credit card bills or student loans. Level two is I don’t care what stuff costs in restaurants. There’s a level where suddenly it doesn’t really matter. And then the ultimate level of wealth is I don’t care how much vacation costs, how expensive the hotel is or which flight we go on. Beyond that, I really don’t think it makes any difference. So I feel incredibly fortunate and it’s great to have all these resources but I’m just going to give almost all of it away because I don’t get any additional happiness in spending it. And there’s a lot of suffering in the world and a lot of inequality and I think that’s a place the whole company can make a difference.” [NPR

DRIVING THE CONVO — Vowing to make sure the Iranian regime “never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon,” and just over a week after threatening Iran with military means, President Trump instantaneously opened the door yesterday to a meeting with Iran’s leaders without preconditions.

“I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” Trump said during a press conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “I don’t know that they’re ready yet. They’re having a hard time right now. But I ended the Iran deal; it was a ridiculous deal. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I’m ready to meet any time they want to. And I don’t do that from strength or from weakness. I think it’s an appropriate thing to do. If we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet.”

Possible date: September 18-25 alongside the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

HOW IT PLAYED — Trump says he’s willing to meet Iranian President Rouhani ‘anytime’ and without preconditions — by Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Felicia Sonmez: “Direct presidential negotiations with Iranian leaders would be another break with Republican orthodoxy and a potential point of friction with Israel and with Arab allies in the Persian Gulf who are united in opposition to Iran.” [WashPost]

— “In a televised interview later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed preconditions for such a meeting, in contrast to Mr. Trump’s offer.” [WSJ; CNBC

JINSA’s Michael Makovsky tells us… “I am banking on the Iranians to spare us such a summit in the near future. Given Trump’s recent summits with the North Korean leader and with Putin, I think it’s best that the President learned from them before hurdling towards another one. I think the issue though is less about pre-conditions than about building leverage and having clear objectives. And one mistake with the Putin summit is — setting aside the fact it was one-on-one and we don’t fully know what was said — that we didn’t build enough leverage with the Russians before the summit.”

“The main issue with the Iranians is their expansion into Syria, and I think that before even consider any such dialogue with the Iranians it’s important for the U.S. to boost its leverage in Syria and the region, and at the minimum bolstering Israeli military capabilities and bolstering our support for the Syrian Kurds.”

— Washington Institute’s David Makovsky tweets“Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is probably counting on Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei to scuttle the sudden offer of Donald Trump to meet to Iranian President Rouhani. Bibi may not be able to count on Trump in this instance but can count on the Ayatollah.”

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz tells us that the Iranian regime, faced with the risk of a dying economy that could possibly lead to the end of the Islamic Republic, would likely take Trump’s offer and meet “sometime soon.”

However, Dubowitz cautioned: “The Mullahs will want to drag out these negotiations into 2021 on the assumption that Trump will be out of office and a more flexible U.S. president will be in place. Trump should be careful not to fall into this trap. It’s critical for the Trump Administration to maintain the maximum pressure until all of the twelve demands on Iran laid out by Secretary Pompeo are fully met.”

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross emails… Trump’s comments “reflect that Trump is about a deal with the Iranians, not regime change. Iran is unlikely to say yes now, but the worse their economy becomes, the more they will look for a way out. Now, however, they will ratchet things up. Hence the Houthis firing on Saudi oil tankers off the Bab el Mandeb, something that has the Saudis suspending tankers going through the Red Sea. That can lead to a rise in oil prices. The Iranians will seek to show they can hurt our interests as we pressure them.”

Martin Indyk tweets“Now America’s Middle East allies taste what it’s been like for Japan and Europe to watch while Trump embraces their adversaries. For BB, MBS and MBZ it’s their worst nightmare.”

CFR’s Richard Haass‏ tweets“It is one thing to meet without preconditions, something else to meet w/o careful preparations and a notetaker. Both the Singapore and Helsinki summits disappointed and arguably caused more problems than they solved; we do not want or need that with Iran.”

Wendy Sherman, the leading U.S. negotiator of the 2015 nuclear deal under President Obama, tweets“Mr. President, Iran just might have a precondition — rejoin the community of nations in support of the JCPOA that ensures Iran can never obtain a nuclear weapon.”

VIEW FROM TEHRAN: Hours before Trump’s statement… Tehran had poured cold water on talks with Washington. “With current America and these policies, there will definitely not be the possibility of dialogue and engagement, and the United States has shown that it is totally unreliable,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a weekly news conference on Monday. [Reuters]

THOUGHT — Aaron David Miller‏ tweets“We’re like suckers — rats in [a] maze — responding to every tweet, comment by the first President unable to define the national interest apart from his own overriding desire to be the story all day every day.”

ON THE GROUND — Syrian government retakes Golan Heights frontier with Israel: “The Syrian government regained control of the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the first time in seven years on Monday, after Islamic State-linked militants gave up their last pocket of territory in the area.” [AP]

— “Israel has reportedly asked Russia to ensure that Syrian government forces do not harm or massacre civilians in the south of the war-torn country as they complete their takeover of the area.” [ToI]

Russia Says It ‘Cannot’ Kick Iran Out of Syria Like Israel and U.S. Want — by Tom O’Connor: “They (the Iranians) are playing a very, very important role in our common and joint effort to eliminate terrorists in Syria. That is why, for this period of time, we see as non-realistic any demands to expel any foreign troops from the entirety of the Syrian Arab Republic,” [Russian Ambassador Anatoly] Viktorov told Israel’s Channel 10 news… “We can talk with our Iranian partners very frankly and openly, trying to persuade them to do or not to do something,” he added. When asked if Russia could expel Iran by force, he answered: “We cannot.” [NewsweekNews10]

TALK OF THE REGION: Israel’s ‘UNRWA dilemma’ — by Ben Caspit: “On the one hand, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees does not have many fans in Israel… There is another side to the coin, however, and it involves a single date: Sept. 1. On that day, tens of thousands of Palestinian students are scheduled to start the new school year… Many Palestinian schools, especially primary schools, are financed by UNRWA, which has announced that given its dire finances due to the freezing of American aid, the schools cannot be opened. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is well aware that this poses a major problem, potentially generating the energy and critical mass to ignite the Palestinian street in the West Bank at any moment.” [Al-Monitor]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Jason Greenblatt‏ tweets“Met today with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah at the White House. We had an important conversation about current dynamics in the Middle East and the Administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.”

Rob Malley writes… “What Saudi Arabia’s position means for Trump’s Israel–Palestine strategy: Although Saudi Arabia is counseling Washington to wait for a more favorable regional context before unveiling its ideas, the administration might not feel it needs Saudi public acceptance. More likely, the U.S. will go forward with its plan — even in the face of absolute rejection by the Palestinian leadership, which it has given up on — if the administration can bank on a “yes, but” from Israel… and a “no, but” from key Arab countries.” [Axios]

Huckabee, Scaramucci: No ‘unpredictability’ on Trump’s support for Israel — by Herb Keinon: “When you analyze the president, he is really one of the most consistent people you will ever meet,” said Anthony Scaramucci… “The president has a lot of posturing in his personality because he knows that will force people to the table to get the objectives that he wants.” But when it comes to policy – be it tariffs, trade, or Israel – Trump is “very consistent,” he said.

“Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee… said that Trump is “absolutely committed to the relationship and alliance to Israel,” and there is no “unpredictability” in that support… The president, Huckabee said, has “already shown that he is respectful of Israel’s right to a sovereign, secure space,” adding that in the plan “I can pretty much guarantee you that Jerusalem will not be divided.”” [JPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Huckabee at a dinner hosted by Dr. Joe Frager at the King David Hotel ln Jerusalem: “Israel gets treated around the world a lot like my daughter (White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) got treated at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.”

Is U.S. Embassy lifting ban on official West Bank settlement visits? — by Tovah Lazaroff: “US Ambassador David Friedman’s condolence call in the West Bank settlement of Adam on Sunday, left settler politicians wondering if a policy change had been made to allow American officials to visit Area C. “It seems as if we are talking about a change in US policy with respect to the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria,” a spokesman for the Binyamin Regional Council said in a statement… Efrat Council head Oded Revivi said, “It is encouraging to see Israelis treated equally by the [Trump Administration] without paying attention to where they live.” [JPost

THIS AM IN ASPEN: Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will speak about her newest book, Fascism: A Warning, at the Aspen Chabad Jewish Community Center.

COMING SOON: In a new book, Bob Woodward plans to reveal the ‘harrowing life’ inside Donald Trump’s White House — by Manuel Roig-Franzia: “Simon & Schuster announced that it will publish “Fear: Trump in the White House” by Bob Woodward on Sept. 11… In the book, Woodward’s 19th, the 75-year-old journalist and author “reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies,” the publisher’s release states.” [WashPost]

2020 WATCH: Inside the Trump 2020 Campaign’s Wild Attempt to “Keep America Great” — by Gabriel Sherman: “With eyes on 2020, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are pushing Trump to adopt more moderate positions… According to a former White House official, Kushner and Ivanka have also been polling more inclusive language on transgender rights. “The 2020 campaign is about the rehabilitation of Jared and Ivanka,” the source said. In late June, one outside Trump adviser explained to Kushner that the population of white voters shrinks by one million every year. Kushner expressed alarm at the speed of the changing demographics, a source familiar with his thinking told me… It is widely assumed among Trump advisers that Kushner, who was instrumental in the hiring of Parscale, will depart the White House at some point after the midterms to oversee the 2020 campaign.”

“The possibility that Trump won’t run in 2020 has motivated Republicans serving in his administration to position themselves in ways that would be unthinkable in a normal White House. U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who is widely considered to have presidential aspirations, has staked out the Establishment lane. She’s courted Wall Street donors at private dinners in Manhattan and has socialized with former Paul Ryan adviser Dan Senor and his wife, Campbell Brown.”

“Haley rarely mentions Trump in her public speeches. According to a Republican close to Trump, Trump has been annoyed with this omission. “He’s gotten feedback she never mentions his name at events,” the Republican close to the White House said. “Nikki is ambitious. She’s going to run. It’s just a question of when,” a former West Wing official said. “Her staff is very careful when they speak to other people. They always say 2024; one of Haley’s people told me 2024 is code for 2020.” [VanityFair]

David Brooks writes… “The Third-Party Option: To have a chance, the third-party candidate would have to emerge as the most radical person in the race. That person would have to argue that the Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of a Washington-centric power structure that has ground to a halt. That person would have to promise to radically redistribute power across American society.” [NYTimes]

Dershowitz Scolds MSNBC Panel: ‘Don’t You Dare Accuse Me’ of Defending Trump — by Tamar Auber: “Things got heated on MSNBC’s Kasie DC on Sunday as former Assistant US District Attorney Mimi Rocah, Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, and host Kasie Hunt battled it out over if Dershowitz was actually, in his arguments, making a case for President Donald Trump… “You are implying in a kind of McCarthyite way that I am somehow defending Trump and that I am making his case. Shame on you,” Dershowitz scolded. He added: “I am making a civil liberties case. I am not part of the Trump defense team and don’t you dare accuse me of doing that… I would be making the identical case if Hillary Clinton had been elected and they were trying to stretch the law the way all four of you are trying to stretch the law to target somebody who you disapprove of.” [Mediaite]

Former Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in first interview since resignation: “I put my heart in the job. I miss the whole job. I loved that job, I loved the job as Senator… It was very meaningful for me and bittersweet, I would like to still be there.”

On running for office again: “I don’t know. I haven’t ruled it out, and I haven’t ruled it in.” [CBSMinnesota]

** Good Tuesday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork Will Renovate UBS Office in Its Biggest Design Deal [Bloomberg] • Alli Webb Couldn’t Stand Working With Her Brother. Then They Started a $100 Million Company Together [Inc] • Kushner’s Cadre Fails to Win Backing From SoftBank [Bloomberg] • Uber shutting down self-driving trucks division, after purchasing Israeli company Otto nearly two years ago, to focus its efforts on self-driving cars [TechCrunch]

STARTUP NATION — YellowHead launches data visualization for app store optimization — by Dean Takahashi: “Israel-based YellowHead is launching a data visualization platform for ASO so that developers can get better results from ads. The new data analysis tool brings together data from the Google Play Developer Console and App Store Connect via applications programming interface integration, and it turns the results into actionable insights. The tool automatically updates data on a daily basis in a completely private and secure manner.” [VentureBeat]

CBS to Appoint Outside Law Firm to Handle Probe Into Moonves Allegations — by Joe Flint and Keach Hagey: “CBS Corp.said its board of directors was in the process of selecting an outside law firm to handle an independent investigation into allegations Chief Executive Leslie Moonves sexually harassed women. No other actions were taken on the matter at the Monday board meeting… CBS’s statement Monday made no mention of Mr. Moonves’s status.” [WSJ]

— “Les Moonves was spotted out on Sunday night at Nobu Malibu with his wife, Julie Chen, and a group of friends. Said a Hollywood insider of Moonves: “Les is out instead of hiding . . . He went to one of the biggest, most powerful places in Hollywood. That is a statement. If you want to see anyone or be seen, you’re going to Nobu.” Also at the eatery, we hear, were NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, his former son-in-law Tobey Maguire, hip-hop producer Scott Storch, Haute Living COO Seth Semilof and PR exec Ronn Torossian.” [NYPost]

After Les Moonves’s Downfall, CBS Investors Fear the Reign of Shari — by William Cohan: “If Moonves ultimately goes, as seems likely, it will presumably be just a matter of time before Shari tries to merge CBS and Viacom once more. And that’s what CBS investors fear most… With Moonves gone, there will be less impetus for the blood feud to continue. Look for [Joe] Ianniello and the CBS board to find a way to settle with Shari, with her getting the better part of that outcome… That Shari now has the best chance to not only be her father’s successor but to openly defy his wishes—while he is still alive, no less—is the ultimate irony, as she herself must realize.” [VanityFair]

HOLLYWOOD — ‘Fauda’ Star Lior Raz to Co-Star With Ryan Reynolds in Michael Bay’s ‘Six Underground’ — by Borys Kit: “Lior Raz, co-creator and star of the Israeli TV political thriller Fauda, is joining Ryan Reynolds in Six Underground, the action pic that Michael Bay is directing. Netflix and Skydance are behind the project, which is scheduled to begin shooting next month in locales such as Italy and the United Arab Emirates… Character details for Raz were being kept secret. Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger are producing Six Underground, along with Bay and Ian Bryce.” [HollywoodReporter]

INTERVIEW — Israel’s Herzog vows to bridge Jewish divide — by Aron Heller: “Three years after he narrowly missed out on becoming prime minister of Israel, Isaac Herzog says he looks forward to becoming the “prime minister of the Jewish people” in his new role as chairman of the Jewish Agency… “I was ready to be prime minister of Israel. I wanted to be prime minister of Israel. And yet now I am actually intrigued by this new challenge,” he said… Ahead of taking office at the Jewish Agency on Wednesday, he said he met with all members of the country’s governing coalition to deliver a stern warning. “I explained to them openly and I said it both publicly and privately: ‘Everything you say and hear in Israel hurts the hearts and gives a lot of pain to our Jewish brothers and sisters outside who love Israel, who respect Israel and who are part of its strength,’” he said. “There are enough elements who want to tear up this relationship, so calm down.” [AP]

ACROSS THE POND — Corbyn ally says ‘Jewish Trump fanatics making up’ antisemitism claims — by Verity Bowman and Pippa Crerar: “Peter Willsman, a member of the party’s national executive committee, was taped at a meeting this month when the NEC refused to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. Willsman said he would “not be lectured” by Jewish supporters of the US president “making up duff information without any evidence at all.” [TheGuardian]

— “A senior Labour source confirmed to Sky News that Mr. Corbyn was present at the meeting while Mr. Willsman made his remarks about anti-Semitism.” [SkyNews]

REMEMBERING: Herman Shine, One of the Few to Escape Auschwitz, Dies at 95 — by Daniel Slotnik: “At least 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the complex of three main camps and dozens of sub-camps in German-occupied Poland that had the heinous distinction of being the largest killing center of the Nazi regime during World War II. About 1.1 million people died there. Fewer than 200 escaped and lived. One was Herman Shine. Indeed, Mr. Shine lived to be one of the last surviving escapees from Auschwitz. He died on June 23 at 95 at his home in San Mateo, Calif.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT: After Eating at 99 of the World’s Best Restaurants, a Gourmet Whiffs at 100 — by John Clarke: “Paul Grinberg set out to eat at the world’s top 100 restaurants. Since 2011, he has had meals at 99 of them. Yet the last restaurant on his list—a small members-only sushi house in Japan—has remained maddeningly out of reach. “I can’t get into one restaurant in Tokyo? That’s just crazy!” said Mr. Grinberg, who lives in Orinda, Calif., and manages international operations for Encore Capital Group , a finance company in San Diego.”

“All that eating hasn’t added much to his 5-foot-6 140-pound frame, in part because of regular workouts. He was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family that kept kosher and rarely went out for meals. Today, he rebels against his frugal upbringing with extravagant tasting menus that can feature as many as 20 courses. “When I do something, I’m all in,” he said. “Obsession is part of my personality.” He said he can’t decide on his favorite dish but his favorite food is toro sushi, or tuna belly.” [WSJ]

BIRTHDAYS: District Attorney for Manhattan for 35 years (1975-2009), Robert M. Morgenthau turns 99… Graduate of Yale Law School in 1951, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights (1985-1992), chairman of the American Jewish International Relations Institute, Ambassador Richard Schifter turns 95… Investment banker, chairman and president of Blum Capital, he is married to US Senator Dianne Feinstein, Richard C. Blum turns 83… Actress, who went on to become CEO of Paramount Pictures and president of production at 20th Century Fox, Sherry Lansing turns 74… Nobel laureate in Economics in 1997, known for his quantitative analysis of options pricing, long-time professor at both Harvard and MIT, Robert C. Merton turns 74… Scholar, professor, rabbi, writer and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust, Michael Berenbaum turns 73…

Founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, in 2015 he bought a 16th century copy of the Babylonian Talmud for $9.3 million, Leon David Black turns 67… Author of 31 best selling mystery novels, many with Jewish themes, Faye Kellerman turns 66… Software entrepreneur, he is president of Ameinu and serves on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency since 2008 (where he is also a member of the Executive Board since 2017), Kenneth Bob turns 66… Manhattan-based criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, radio talk show host and television commentator, Ronald L. Kuby turns 62… TV personality and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban turns 60… Senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center, he was the director of the Los Angeles office of the American Jewish Committee (2017-2018), Dan Schnur turns 55…

Born into a practicing Catholic family in Nazareth, Israel, investor and majority owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores turns 54… Writer, known for her best-selling memoir “Prozac Nation,” Elizabeth Wurtzel turns 51… Manager of MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies, he was an MLB outfielder (1998-2010), the first player known as the “Hebrew Hammer,” Gabe Kapler turns 43… Political activist and the founder and president of Stand Up America, a progressive advocacy community, he is also the president of Hudson River Ventures, Sean Simcha Eldridge turns 32… Senior manager of corporate communications at Samsung Electronics North America, Danielle Meister Cohen turns 30… Aryeh Canter turns 28… CEO at Leenie Productions (a multi-media company), she serves on the board of the Northbrook, Illinois-based Haym Salomon Center, Helene Miller-Walsh… Adam Rosenberg… David Goldenberg… Richard Rosenstein

JI Viewpoints on 2nd Anniversary of Iran deal

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “Two years into the deal, I think that the indications are that Iran is in compliance with…

Kafe Knesset for July 14

Friday, July 14, 2017

Calls to change the status quo on Temple Mount: After this morning’s terrorist attack on the Temple Mount, in which three assailants opened fire, killing two border policemen,…

State Dept Questions if Taylor Force Act ‘Accomplishes’ Objective of Stopping Terror

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Top State Department official notes Palestinian progress in cutting terror payments WASHINGTON – A top State Department official expressed skepticism regarding the efficiency of the Taylor Force Act…

Bipartisan Letter Demands Answers on Bob Levinson

Thursday, July 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – Nearly two dozen lawmakers led by Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) published a letter to President Donald Trump imploring the White House to increase…

Kafe Knesset for July 13

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dropping like flies: The walls seem to be closing in on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as several of his closest allies have been implicated in corruption scandals. Yesterday…

Kafe Knesset for July 12

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Gabbay Effect: The Labor Party has jumped in the polls a day after Avi Gabbay won the leadership contest. Under Isaac Herzog, the party had taken a nosedive…