Jul
31

Author:

Comment

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

Have our people email your people. Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here

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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

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

Jul
30

Author:

Comment

Daily Kickoff: Saudi King reiterates pro-Palestinian stance | Dem divide over Israel reflected in House bills | CBS’ Latest (Off-Screen) Drama

Have our people email your people. Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN JERUSALEM — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was seen filming former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee playing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ at a BBQ hosted by Simon Falic at his residence in Talpiot, Jerusalem. Also in attendance: The Prime Minister’s son Yair Netanyahu, former and brief White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, Ken Abramowitz, and Dr. Joe Frager. [VideoPic]

— US ambassador makes rare visit to settlement, after terror attack:”US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman traveled to the Adam settlement north of Jerusalem on Monday where he met with the family of 31-year-old Yotam Ovadia, who was killed in the Thursday attack by a Palestinian who had sneaked into the settlement.” [ToI]

ULTIMATE DEAL — As U.S. pushes for Mideast peace, Saudi king reassures allies — by Stephen Kalin: “Saudi Arabia has reassured Arab allies it will not endorse any Middle East peace plan that fails to address Jerusalem’s status or refugees’ right of return… King Salman’s private guarantees to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his public defense of long-standing Arab positions in recent months have helped reverse perceptions that Saudi Arabia’s stance was changing under his powerful young son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, diplomats and analysts said.”

“A diplomat in Riyadh briefed on [Jared] Kushner’s latest visit to the kingdom said King Salman and MBS had seen him together: “MBS did the talking while the king was in the background.” … Kushner and fellow negotiator Jason Greenblatt have not presented a comprehensive proposal but rather disjointed elements, which one diplomat said “crossed too many red lines.”

A senior Arab diplomat in Riyadh quoted by Reuters: “In Saudi Arabia, the king is the one who decides on this issue now, not the crown prince. The U.S. mistake was they thought one country could pressure the rest to give in, but it’s not about pressure. No Arab leader can concede on Jerusalem or Palestine.” [Reuters]

— “As one diplomatic source… described the change in the Saudi approach, “they told the administration, ‘what we could do for you before Jerusalem, we won’t be able to do now.’” [Haaretz]

Aaron David Miller tells us… “It was two newbies — MBS and Kushner — looking up to one another, both whom I think misread what the other was prepared to do, and, I think, the primary misreading was on our side. Clearly, the Saudis are trying to get the Saudi position back to the mainstream. I think the Saudis overcommitted and the Americans were amenable to hearing what they wanted to hear. I don’t doubt the fact that Kushner heard from MBS that he will support what Kushner is doing. I just think that as time went on, particularly after the Jerusalem embassy announcement, it created a whole new frame for the Saudis that they couldn’t endorse.”

Sisi urges Israeli public to seize ‘a great opportunity for peace’ — by Michael Bachner: “We have a great opportunity to achieve peace in the region and solve the Palestinian issue,” [President Abdel Fattah al-] Sisi said in an address at a conference for youth at Cairo university carried by the country’s media. “This solution will not take away from your security or stability,” he added, clarifying that he was directing his words at Israelis… “Egypt’s policies are clear,” he added. “We support all UN decisions, the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and [an Israeli withdrawal] to pre-1967 borders.” [ToI]

Egypt’s Sisi says Palestinian reconciliation would help revive peace talks with Israel: “Sisi’s remarks came during his meeting in Cairo with President of the U.S.-based World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder. The Egyptian president stressed that restoring legitimacy in the Gaza Strip and ending the internal Palestinian division would help push forward efforts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and reach a just solution to the Palestinian issue, presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said.” [Xinhua]

— “Sisi and Lauder reviewed Egypt’s efforts to achieve political solutions to the crises in the region which respects the sovereignty of states, without interference in their domestic affairs. They also reviewed a number of regional issues with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on top of the list, Rady said.”[EgyptTodayPic]  

TALK OF THE REGION — Erdogan dismisses Trump’s threat of sanctions over detained American pastor — by Kareem Fahim: “[President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, speaking to reporters during a visit to South Africa, also confirmed a report in The Washington Post that Trump had intervened to help secure the release of a Turkish citizen held by Israel on terrorism charges. But he denied that Turkey had offered to release the pastor, Andrew Brunson, in exchange for Trump’s intervention. “That type of negotiation didn’t happen,” Erdogan said.” [WashPost]

Trump seeks to revive ‘Arab NATO’ to confront Iran — by Yara Bayoumy, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel: “The Trump administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region… The plan to forge what officials in the White House and Middle East have called an “Arab NATO” of Sunni Muslim allies will likely raise tensions between the United States and Shi’ite Iran.” [Reuters]  

ON THE HILL — The Senate is expected to vote this week on 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 and agreed-upon increases in Israel’s security assistance. [CSPAN]

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party — by Rachel Oswald: “What many Palestinian rights activists are most excited about is legislation from Rep. Betty McCollum, a nine-term Democrat from Minnesota, that would prohibit Israel from using any of the billions of dollars in annual aid received from Congress for “the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill treatment of Palestinian children.” The bill has 28 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats… A number of the co-sponsors of McCollum’s bill — such as Reps. Ro Khanna of California and Pramila Jayapal of Washington State — are newly elected, signaling a generational shift within the Democratic Party.” [RollCall]

TURTLE BAY TRANSITION? — via Yossi Melman: Prime Minister Netanyahu has extended Danny Danon’s term as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN by another six months. The leading candidate to replace him is David Keyes, Netanyahu’s spokesperson to foreign media since March 2016.

THE DAILY KUSHNER — Still Standing, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Step Back in the Spotlight — by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers: “Several times Mr. Trump joked that he “could have had Tom Brady” as a son-in-law. “Instead,” the president said, according to five people who heard him, “I got Jared Kushner.” And yet, after 18 months of bruising internal White House conflicts and bitter criticism that they have failed to be a moderating influence on the president, both Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump… are still in Washington and still working as aides to Mr. Trump. They are as comfortable — and as close to the center of the president’s orbit — as they have ever been.”

“I have greatly enjoyed working collaboratively with so many extraordinarily devoted and competent people,” Mr. Kushner said through a spokesman… “But those who have tried to undermine the president have found me to be an obstacle.” [NYTimes]

HEARD THE OTHER NIGHT — Alan Dershowitz and Michael Avenatti clashed about Trump and Michael Cohen’s tape on CNN’s AC360 Friday evening program. But then it got personal — Avenatti: “You need to go back and concentrate on what invites you’re getting on Martha’s Vineyard since that appears to be what you’re really good at.” Dershowitz: “Well, I’m about to head off to a party. So I have to leave in a minute.” Avenatti: “Good luck to that.”

Avenatti: “You know what I want to know? I want to know about the relationship between you and Donald Trump. I think you ought to disclose the extent of the relationship. How did you get that positive book review?”Dershowitz: “Happy to disclose it… I’ve met him three times in my life. All three times dealing with the Middle East. I have no relationship with him.”[Video]

2020 WATCH — Mayor Garcetti’s presidential ambition: Is he serious? — by Steve Lopez: “A lot of political insiders guess [Eric] Garcetti is more interested in branding himself as a contender so he gets consideration for a Cabinet post if a Democrat beats Trump, or because it might help in a run to replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein when she retires.” [LATimes]

Ginsburg suggests she has at least five more years on the Supreme Court — by Dan Berman: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she hopes to stay on the Supreme Court until the age of 90. “I’m now 85,” Ginsburg said on Sunday. “My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.” She has already hired law clerks for at least two more terms. “You can’t set term limits, because to do that you’d have to amend the Constitution,” Ginsburg said. “Article 3 says … we hold our offices during good behavior. And most judges are very well behaved,” she added, to laughter.” [CNN]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Iran’s Rial at Historic Low as U.S. Sanctions Loom[WSJ] • KKR Gains Momentum Among Rivals After Switching to a Corporation [Bloomberg]  • These Hedge Funds Are Doing Great but Don’t Want Your Money [WSJ• At Rich Kid Summer Camp, Big Banks Try to Hook Heirs for a Lifetime [Bloomberg] • WeWork is just one facet of SoftBank’s bet on real estate [TechCrunch]

CBS Board to Meet on Les Moonves’s Role After Misconduct Allegations — by Edmund Lee: “The board of CBS Corporation spent most of the weekend discussing what immediate actions it should take involving Les Moonves, the company’s chief executive, after a published report that included allegations of sexual misconduct from six women. At least two of the board’s 14 members have questioned whether Mr. Moonves should continue to run the company during an internal investigation.” [NYTimesWSJ] • Accusations of misconduct against CBS CEO Les Moonves may enable Shari Redstone to finally carry out a merger with Viacom[BloombergLATimes

GOOGLE CAMP SCENE — by Chris Spargo and Sarah White: “It was a stylish crowd that was first to arrive for the start of Google Camp on Sunday. Karlie Kloss, fresh off a modeling shoot in Beijing, touched down at the airport in Palermo before being flown to the Vedura Resort in a helicopter to meet up with fiancee Joshua Kushner. The supermodel… gave her followers a look at Barry Diller’s massive yacht Eos, which he arrived to Google Camp on alongside his wife Diane von Furstenberg and CBS This Morning host Gayle King.”[DailyMail]

Karlie Kloss converted to Judaism to marry Josh Kushner — by Richard Johnson: “Karlie Kloss is kosher, a family insider confirms… Ivanka studied for her conversion at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on East 85th Street, but it is not known where Kloss was instructed… Rabbi Shmuley Boteach told me, “The Kushners are deeply observant. Charlie Kushner has an afternoon prayer service in his office every day.” [NYPost]

Trump appointee condemns Zuckerberg’s comments on Holocaust deniers — by Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene“Paul Packer, appointed by President Trump as chairman of the U.S. Commission to Preserve America’s Heritage Abroad, an independent government agency, has sent an official letter to Mark Zuckerberg condemning his comments on Holocaust denial and calling on Facebook to change its content policy… The company has had a draft of the letter since last week, Packer said, and he met with senior Facebook executive Joel Kaplan this week in D.C. to raise his concerns.”[Axios

INTERVIEW — Religion Looms Large for Education Official in Charge of Civil Rights — by Michelle Hackman: “As an elementary-school student, Ken Marcus once wandered down a street just outside his predominantly Jewish hometown of Sharon, Mass., when a group of children spotted him. “They started throwing rocks and yelled for me to go back to my ‘Jew town,’” he recalled in an interview this week. The episode, Mr. Marcus said, shaped his view on the need for greater civil-rights protections—and particularly for a more vigorous battle against anti-Semitism in the U.S. That led him to found the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which pursues legal avenues to fight discrimination against Jews, especially on college campuses. It has now brought him to the Education Department, where he was confirmed last month as head of the civil-rights division.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Vandals paint Nazi symbols on wall at Jewish temple in Indiana — by Deanna Hackney and Jay Croft: “Nazi images, including a swastika, were discovered Saturday morning painted on a structure that is part of a Jewish synagogue in Indiana, the temple said. The swastika and two iron crosses were on a brick wall that goes around a dumpster at the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel, just north of Indianapolis. The synagogue has not been attacked before and has not received threats or harassing calls, said Lindsay Shipps, the temple’s media representative. Shabbat services were not delayed.” [CNNIndyStar]

The ‘New Anti-Semitism’ in France — by Adam Nossiter: “The solemn boulevards and quiet side streets of the 17th Arrondissement in Paris suggest Jewish life in France is vibrant: There is a new profusion of kosher groceries and restaurants, and about 15 synagogues, up from only a handful two decades ago. But for residents like Joanna Galilli, this area in northwestern Paris represents a tactical retreat. It has become a haven for many Jews who say they have faced harassment in areas with growing Muslim populations… “They spit when I walked in the street,” she said, describing reactions when she wore a Star of David.” [NYT]

A Jewish Revival: Communities Return to Cities in Poland, Sicily and Myanmar  — by Stephen Starr: “Back in 1910, [Jewish community in Yangon] even boasted the city’s first Jewish mayor. But the Japanese, after their 1941 invasion, suspected Jews of spying for the British and sent some to concentration camps. Many Jews fled then, and most others left when the post-independence government nationalized private businesses in the 1960s. But with the country’s then–military rulers opening Myanmar up to the world seven years ago, at least 80 expat Jews have moved there to help rebuild the country and return it to the international fold while also reinvigorating Yangon’s tiny Jewish community of just about 10 people… At a time when Jewish communities from Paris to New York City to Manchester, England, are facing increasing threats, a rebirth is happening in Yangon and a host of other cities — such as Oporto, Portugal; Palermo, Sicily; Brighton, England; and Kraków, Poland — where they had almost disappeared.” [Ozy]

Yuval Noah Harari Rebuffs Israeli Consulate Event in Protest of New Israeli Laws: “Best-selling Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari declined to participate in an Israeli consulate event in Los Angeles, in protest at Israel’s enactment of the Nation-State and surrogacy laws. Prof. Harari explained through a representative that he is “proud of his Israeliness,” but that the consulate is the long arm of Israeli government policy.” [Haaretz]

LongRead: The Man Who Captures Criminals for the D.E.A. by Playing Them — by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee: “On the afternoon of February 9, 2011, in a suite at the City Hotel in Bucharest, two men, hoping to sell a stash of Russian military-grade weapons on the black market, met with an ebullient businessman in his sixties named Yianni. A short man with a neatly trimmed beard and a bulging midriff, Yianni was, the men had learned, a financier entrusted by the Taliban to buy armaments. As is advisable when broaching the sale of millions of dollars’ worth of illicit goods, the men—a thirtysomething Iranian-American who once worked as a translator for the U.S. Army and a Chicago-based Israeli-American in his mid-fifties—began their negotiations with caution. But after several meetings they were reassured by Yianni’s confident manner and social ease…” [NewYorker]

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Israeli Character Uses Fake Pedophile Detector on Alabama Judge Roy Moore on ‘Who Is America?’ — by Jean Bentley: “The former Alabama judge, who lost an open Senate seat in his state after being accused of an inappropriate encounter with a 14-year-old girl, was interviewed by Baron Cohen’s anti-terrorist expert character in a technology-focused segment about a scanner that can sense pedophiles. It beeped when he ran it in front of Moore, who became increasingly frustrated and eventually cut the segment short. “I’ve never had an accusation of such things,” he said, before standing up and ending the interview. “I support Israel, I don’t support this kind of stuff,” he said.” [HollywoodReporterVideo]

— Sacha Baron Cohen Tried to Prank Me. Here’s How I Knew It Was a Scam — by Michael Caputo: “The short pitch from Ashley Winthrop, calling herself a producer with Yerushalayim Television, was a familiar mix of producer’s flattery and information. She was happy to inform us Michael Grimm had been “chosen as one of Israel’s ‘70 at 70’ for his strong support of the state of Israel.” … Things were smelling fishier and fishier. I grew skeptical, and made a few excuses to rebuff her…” [Politico]

— Where is Baron Cohen? Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary’s A-list summer break with Sacha Baron Cohen, Isla Fisher, Bono, Matthew McConaughey and Chris Rock [DailyMail]

DESSERT — New food truck Bibi’s Kitchen now open in the Encino area: “A new kosher Israeli food truck has rolled into the neighborhood. Located at 5113 Zelzah Ave. in Encino, the fresh arrival is called Bibi’s Kitchen. The mobile spot combines classic and familiar Mediterranean dishes in an effort to break street food conventions with elevated fare that is far from ordinary, the eatery says on its Yelp page.” [ABC7-LA]

REMEMBERING: Judith Appelbaum, a Guide for Would-Be Authors, Dies at 78 — by Anita Gates: “Judith Appelbaum, whose almost 60-year career in book publishing became a crusade to make the industry better — for writers, publishers and readers — died on Wednesday at her home in Bedford, N.Y… Judith Ethel Pilpel was born in Manhattan on Sept. 26, 1939, the daughter of Robert Pilpel, an executive of various humanitarian organizations, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and Harriet (Fleischl) Pilpel, a lawyer and women’s rights advocate.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Co-founder and now chairman emeritus of the tax-preparation company H&R Block, Henry Wollman Bloch turns 96… Commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1992 to 2015, Allan Huber “Bud” Selig turns 84… Of Counsel to the law firm of Hatton, Petrie & Stackler in Aliso Viejo, CA, Ronald E. Stackler turns 81… Film director over many decades, Peter Bogdanovich turns 79… The first woman justice on the Nebraska Supreme Court, when she was 14 years old she won two gold medals and a silver medal as a swimmer at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, Justice Lindsey Miller-Lerman turns 71… Actor, director and producer, Ken Olin turns 64… Billionaire businessman, of Uzbek Bukhari background, known as the “King of Diamonds,” Lev Leviev turns 62…

Born in Moldova, made aliyah in her late 20s, elected as Mayor of Arad in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, now serving in the Knesset for the Kulanu party, Tali Ploskov turns 56… Former Southwest Regional political director for AIPAC, leading the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign, Michael Glassner turns 55… A descendant of the French branch of the Rothschild family, he is the chairman of the Edmond de Rothschild Group, a private Swiss bank established by his father, Benjamin de Rothschild turns 55… Emmy Award winning actress, comedienne and producer, Lisa Kudrow turns 55… Best-selling non-fiction author, contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines, he is a co-creator of the HBO series “Vinyl,” Rich Cohen turns 50… District director for Congressman Jerrold L. Nadler [D-NY10], Robert Gottheim turns 47…

Childhood actor, he served as a law clerk in 2008 for Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg, the only blind person to clerk for the US Supreme Court, now a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur, Isaac Lidsky turns 39… News reporter and producer at Southern California public radio station KCRW, where he produces “DnA: Design and Architecture,” Avishay Artsy turns 38… President and founder in 2013 of Dallas-based ECA Strategies, Eric Axel turns 38… Division director at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Lewis Sohinki turns 38… New Media editor at the Times of Israel, Sarah Tuttle-Singer turns 37… Director of policy and public affairs for the Jewish Community of Denmark, Jonas Herzberg Karpantschof turns 36… Winner of the Miss Israel pageant in 2014, Mor Maman turns 23… Regional field director at Greg Pence for Congress, Joshua Weintraub

Jul
27

Author:

Comment

Daily Kickoff: Who’s who attending Google Camp | PayPal CEO Dan Schulman on practicing Krav Maga | Where Russian elite dine in Tel Aviv

Have our people email your people. Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here

DEEP DIVE — A fist bump, then a rancorous call: How Trump’s deal to free an American pastor in Turkey fell apart — by Carol Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Kareem Fahim and Karen DeYoung: “President Trump thought he had a deal. His NATO meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month had ended with a smile, a fist-bump and what Trump thought was an agreement to free Andrew Brunson, the American pastor imprisoned in Turkey… The deal was a carom shot, personally sealed by Trump, to trade a Turkish citizen imprisoned on terrorism charges in Israel for Brunson’s release. But it apparently fell apart on Wednesday, when a Turkish court, rather than sending the pastor home, ordered that he be transferred to house arrest while his trial continues.”

“On July 14, after traveling from the NATO gathering to his golf club in Scotland, Trump placed a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… Trump… asked his Israeli ally if he would release Ebru Ozkan, a 27-year-old Turkish woman who was detained in Israel on charges of acting as a smuggler for Hamas… Erdogan’s government had expressed anger over Ozkan’s June 11 arrest as she attempted to fly home from Israel’s international airport in Tel Aviv. But the case was apparently considered weak by the Israeli court… On July 15, the day after Trump and Netanyahu spoke, Ozkan was deported from Israel.” [WashPost

REPORT — U.S. pressing Israel to implement pipeline project with Jordan — by Barak Ravid: “The U.S. is pressing Israel to implement a deal is has signed several years ago with Jordan for building the Red-Dead joint project… Last summer Israel froze the project in an attempt to use it as leverage to get the Jordanians to reopen the Israeli embassy in Amman. When the embassy crisis ended several months ago the Jordanians expected Israel to unfreeze it, but the Israelis refused… Senior Jordanian officials called White House officials and raised their concerns that Israel appeared to be trying to pull out of the project, requesting U.S. intervention.”

“U.S. ambassador to Jerusalem David Friedman, White House Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner raised the issue with their Israeli counterparts. A national security council spokesman told me: “The United States told Israel that the U.S. supports the project and expects Israel to live up to its obligations under the Red-Dead agreement or find a suitable alternative that is acceptable to Israel and Jordan.” [Axios]

Netanyahu May Have to Choose Between Trump and China — by Asaf Shalev: “New data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows that Israeli exports to China reached $2.8 billion in the first half of 2018, a 73% increase compared to last year. China was the destination country for 8.7% of Israeli exports for the last six months… The cozying up between the two countries may prove to be awkward for Netanyahu in his relationship with the White House… Netanyahu… has worked to be a close friend to both foreign powers— two countries that now appear to be locked into a trade war with each other.”[Calcalist]

ON THE GROUND — Islamic State fired at Israel in bid to draw it into Syria, says ex-intel chief — by Jacob Magid: “The former head of the IDF’s military intelligence [Amos Yadlin] said Thursday that the firing of a pair of missiles from Syria into the Sea of Galilee a day earlier was likely an effort by the Islamic State group to draw Israel into a confrontation with the Syrian regime… He also said Israel must remain wary of a possible IS attack, with the “desperate” jihadist group on the “verge of collapse” in the Golan Heights.”[ToI]

Dov Zakheim writes… “Moscow Holds the Key to Peace Between Jerusalem and Damascus: Only Russia can press Assad to abide by the 1974 agreement. Only Russia has any chance of maneuvering Tehran into agreeing to withdraw its forces sufficiently far from the Golan Heights to assuage Jerusalem.” [ForeignPolicy]

Shalom Lipner writes… “The Summer of Israel’s Contentment: These are surreal times in Israel. Despite being surrounded by conflict on almost every border, Israelis are surprisingly at ease with their regional predicament… Notwithstanding a nominal concern that fighting could escalate, Israelis trust that the Israel Defense Forces can protect them against all comers. Life in the country continues according to its own idiosyncratic rhythm.”[ForeignPolicy]

Australian PM Turnbull says ‘no reason to believe’ Trump is planning Iran strike — by Gareth Hutchens: “Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says he has “no reason” to believe US president Donald Trump is preparing to bomb Iran’s nuclear capability imminently, despite reports to the contrary. The Australian ABC reported on Friday that senior ministers in the Turnbull government were preparing for the possibility the United States could bomb Iran’s nuclear capability, perhaps as early as next month.” [TheGuardianABC] • Iranian General Locks Horns With Trump, Escalating Threat-Filled Feud [NYT]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the Ministerial To Advance Religious Freedom held at the State Department: “Just 70 years after the Holocaust, attacks on Jews, even on aging Holocaust survivors, are growing at an alarming rate. Last year, hate crimes against Jews hit a record high in the United Kingdom. And in the same period of time, there were an average of nearly four attacks against Jews every day.”

“In France and Germany, things have gotten so bad that Jewish religious leaders have warned their followers not to wear kippahs in public for fear that they could be violently attacked, and in too many cases, that’s exactly what’s happened… It is remarkable to think that within the very lifetimes of some French Jews — the same French Jews that were forced by the Nazis to wear identifiable Jewish clothing — that some of those same people are now being warned by their democratic leaders not to wear identifiable Jewish clothing. These acts of violence and hatred and anti-Semitism must end.”[Video

LOOKING AHEAD — How Trump Won Re-election in 2020 — by Bret Stephens: “With neither a recession nor a major war to run against, Democrats sought instead to cast the election in starkly moral terms. Yet by Election Day, the charge that Mr. Trump is morally or intellectually unfit for office had been made so often that it had lost most of its former edge among swing voters…” [NYTimes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Trump Organization Finance Chief Called to Testify Before Federal Grand Jury — by Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Rebecca Ballhaus, Michael Rothfeld and  Alexandra Berzon: “Allen Weisselberg, a longtime financial gatekeeper for President Donald Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in the criminal probe of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen… Mr. Weisselberg is considered a witness in the investigation… [A] former executive said Mr. Trump would sometimes point out to him how Mr. Weisselberg had been loyal to him for decades.” [WSJ]

HEARD ON MORNING JOE — Timothy O’Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion: “The other thing that is significant beyond [Weisselberg’s] relationship with Donald Trump is this starts to bring the investigation into Donald Trump’s wallet… There were two people within the Trump Organization that Trump relied on to do business. One was Jason Greenblatt, who was the lawyer for the Trump Organization — he signed off on everything. And Allen Weisselberg, who was the money man.”

Cohen claims Trump knew in advance of 2016 Trump Tower meeting — by Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein and Marshall Cohen: “Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower… Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller… Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr. By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians… Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.”

“According to people who have discussed the matter with Cohen, he has expressed hope that this claim about the Trump Tower meeting will help him reach out to Mueller and possibly lessen his legal troubles.” [CNN]

— Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time: “[Cohen] has been lying all week. I mean, he’s been lying for years… The man is a liar. A proven liar. There’s no way you’re going to bring down the president of the United States on the testimony uncorroborated of a proven liar. I guarantee you this guy is a proven liar.” [Video]

Trump tweets this morning: “I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!”

WHITE HOUSE BOOK CLUB — Trump tweets“Alan Dershowitz, a brilliant lawyer, who although a Liberal Democrat who probably didn’t vote for me, has discussed the Witch Hunt with great clarity and in a very positive way. He has written a new and very important book called “The Case Against Impeaching Trump,” which I would encourage all people with Trump Derangement Syndrome to read!”

A Kushner Ally Was Up for a Federal Post. Then the F.B.I. Began Digging — by Jesse Drucker, Emily Steel and Danny Hakim: “Ken Kurson is a confidant of Rudolph W. Giuliani… And he is a close friend of Jared Kushner… This spring, those relationships appeared to yield a prestigious offer from the Trump White House: a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities… First, Mr. Kurson had to undergo a government background check. As part of that process, the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned about allegations that he had harassed a New York doctor in 2015…”

“Mr. Kurson said in an interview last week that he withdrew from consideration for the government post around early June, citing the amount of paperwork involved in the vetting process. Mr. Kurson’s lawyer, Marc Mukasey, said the F.B.I.’s questioning was related only to the background check. “That is a completely different ball of wax from a criminal investigation,” he said.”[NYTimes]

House Speaker rejects Rosenstein impeachment effort — by Daphne Psaledakis and Nate Raymond: “House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday rejected a move by fellow Republicans to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein… Earlier, Rosenstein’s boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, expressed confidence in the career civil servant… “My deputy, Rod Rosenstein, is highly capable. I have the highest confidence in him,” Sessions said during an appearance in Boston.” [Reuters]

** 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: U.S. Probes Web of Businesses for Ties to Alleged Hezbollah Supporters [WSJ] • Ziel Feldman’s HFZ adds to NoMad assemblage with $30M buy [TheRealDeal] • WeWork China raises $500M to triple the number of cities it covers [TechCrunch] • Jon Steinberg’s Cheddar, the company behind a financial news-focused streaming network for millennials, is cutting deals with small cable operators [WSJ] • Audrey Gelman’s The Wing expands Manhattan footprint [TheRealDeal]

HAPPENING ON SUNDAY — Google will host mega-wealthy celebrities and business leaders for a private summit, known as the Google Camp, at the Verdura Resort in Sicily. Expected participants, according to CNN’s PACIFIC newsletter, include Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg, John & Ann Doerr, Kevin Durant and Cassandra Anderson, Daniel and Sofia Ek, Mike and Michelle Fries, Brian and Veronica Grazer, Reed Hastings, Ben and Felicia Horowitz, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Gayle King, Rich and Jana Kleiman, Josh Kushner and Karlie Kloss, Robert and Luz Kyncl, Martin and Millie Lau, Carolyn McCall and Peter Frawley, Lorne Michaels, Neal and Hema Sareen Mohan, James and Kathryn Murdoch, Guy and Michelle Alves Oseary, Jonah Peretti and Andrea Harner, Richard Plepler and Lisa Plepler, Eric Schmidt, Shane and Tamyka Smith, and Evan Spiegel.

MEDIA WATCH — ‘I Quit, I Quit!’ Boardroom Turmoil Aggravates Univision’s Problems — by Shalini Ramachandran and Benjamin Mullin: “After a Univision Communications Inc. board meeting in December, tensions erupted between the media company’s billionaire chairman and its then-chief executive. Univision disclosed a big earnings shortfall not long after Chief Executive Randy Falco renewed his contract, angering Chairman Haim Saban and other directors. For his part, the CEO complained he was tired of Mr. Saban and his top deputy micromanaging the company, emailing and calling his direct reports—even asking what they thought of Mr. Falco… In Mr. Falco’s office, the two men screamed at each other. Staffers could hear them one floor below.”

“One source of Mr. Falco’s disenchantment was the rise of Isaac Lee, an executive who joined as president of news in 2010 and shot through the ranks, forging ties with Televisa and Mr. Saban. Mr. Lee vacationed with Televisa board members. At times, Mr. Falco would join a videoconference from New York and discover Mr. Lee sitting with Mr. Saban in his Los Angeles office… In a written statement, Mr. Saban said, “the past is water under the bridge.” He said the board is “very excited” about [Vincent] Sadusky, the new CEO, and believes he “will help lead the company to great success in the future.” [WSJ]

NYT CORNER OFFICE INTERVIEW — PayPal CEO Dan Schulman on practicing martial arts: “I practice Krav Maga. I spent some time in Israel when I was young, and they have what’s called Youth Military Training there, so I started then. That was when I was in my teens, and I’ve been doing Krav since then.”

— Have you ever gotten hurt? Schulman: “Oh my gosh. I mean, look at my knuckles. These are all from punches. I’m always black or blue or I have some scar on my face. I’ve dislocated my shoulder. I’ve had stitches. If you look carefully on my face, stitches here, stitches here. Smacked into a mat here, here. That’s how you learn how to be cool, calm and collected in very stressful situations. But the overrunning philosophy of Krav is that the best way to win a fight is to not get into a fight. It’s very Zen in that way. How do you de-escalate situations? We spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s translated into the way that I think about business as well.” [NYTimes]

TEL AVIV SCENE: “Israel’s Rick’s Café for Russian Jewish Oligarchs” by Sophie Shulman: “From the outside, Shallot restaurant is no different from numerous other establishments in the area—a wide-ranging mix of Falafel joints, and medium to high-end eateries. But on a good day, the personal wealth of Shallot’s patrons can be in the billions. Sporting a modern design, Shallot is a stronghold of Israel’s new super-rich Russian immigrants. Roman Abramovich, one of Israel’s wealthiest new citizens, dines here, sometimes with David Davidovich, his one-time assistant and now a billionaire businessman on his own right. Exiled oligarch Leonid Nevzlin is a repeating customer, sometimes dining with his son-in-law, Israeli lawmaker Yuli Edelstein. The kosher menu is a mix of chicken kiev and caviar with the local hummus and tahini. It appears to fit the taste of the Russian elite.” [CTech]

Doctor says he’s sorry for posts on white nationalist sites — by Stephen Groves: “Dr. Dov Bechhofer, a resident radiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, was removed from duty this week after an anonymous article on the blogging site Medium identified him as an online commenter on a website that promoted white nationalism… He also said he favored “‘tempered’ anti-Semitism” despite being Jewish himself… Bechhofer’s father is a rabbi who is a leader of the group Orthodox Jews Against Racism and Discrimination… Bechhofer began commenting on white-supremacist websites in the fall of 2016.” [AP]

Roseanne Barr Says She Believes She’s Been “Forgiven” After Controversial Tweet: “Roseanne Barr said she believes she’s been “forgiven” for her Valerie Jarrett tweet at a live podcast recording at the New York Comedy Club Thursday night. [Shmuley] Boteach introduced her as a “Jewish celebrity who takes her Jewishness very seriously.” He added, “at whatever expense to your career.” … In the aftermath of her tweet about Jarrett, Barr said she was afraid to go outside and “hiding in my mom’s basement,” comparing her experience to The Twilight Zone. When Boteach asked her what she learned from the experience, she said, “I figured out that the voice of the Jewish people is always left out, that’s what I thought.”” [HollywoodReporter]

— Barr on Fox News’ Hannity program: “That is a tweet about asking for accountability from the previous administration about the Iran deal, which Valerie Jarrett is the author of, and that was what was in my head… [Critics] were saying it’s racial when it’s political… And then everybody started saying I was a racist, which is like the worst thing you can call a Jewish person, especially one who, like me, grew up with Holocaust survivors.” [Video]

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — Halie Soifer, Executive Director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), and her husband Andrew Kauders hosted a fundraiser for Michigan House candidate Elissa Slotkin at their residence in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Wednesday. Attendees included Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Matt Nosanchuk, Barbara Goldberg Goldman, and Ann Lewis. [Pic] • Soifer presented Slotkin with a homemade cake featuring the candidate’s logo [Pic]

DESSERT — Ample Hills Unleashes a Massive New Ice Cream Playground in Red Hook — by Stefanie Tuder: “With the help of an $8 million investment, co-founders Jackie Cuscuna and Brian Smith are turning 421 Van Brunt St. at Beard Street into an ice cream destination with the capability to produce 500,000 gallons a year… It’s no secret that Ample Hills is chasing after Ben & Jerry’s, and this factory is a step in that pursuit. Disney CEO Bob Iger has been a major ally in that goal, collaborating on a Star Wars pint and sending samples to Jimmy Kimmel, Mike Nichols, J.J. Abrams, Tom Hanks, and Oprah.” [EaterNY]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Television producer Norman Learturns 96… Former CIA Director (1995-1996) and Deputy Secretary of Defense (1994-1995), now a professor emeritus at MIT and on the boards of multiple Fortune 500 companies, John M. Deutch turns 80… Steven M. Mizel turns 79… Immediate past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Stephen M. Greenberg turns 74…  Editor and producer at Israel’s Channel 1 TV, Yarin Kimor turns 66…  Comedienne, writer, producer and actress, Carol Leifer turns 62…  Journalist at the Christian Science Monitor since 1981 and now its Washington Bureau Chief,Linda Feldmann turns 59…  Former VP of global communications, marketing and public policy at Facebook (2008-2018), Elliot Schrage turns 58…  Member of the Hungarian Parliament (1990-2009) and member of the European Parliament since 2009, Tamás Deutsch turns 52…  Chief of Staff of the House Republican Conference, Jeremy Deutsch turns 42…  Sales and customer service representative at Travilah Beer and Wine, Benjamin Rothenberg turns 36…

SATURDAY: Survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau as a teen, he emigrated to Israel and became an artist, his work, mostly Holocaust themed, appears in the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem and the US Capitol, Yehuda Bacon turns 89…  Chicago radio news personality, Walter Jacobson turns 81…  Former US District Court Judge in Manhattan (1988-2006), then US Attorney General (2007-2009), now of counsel at the international law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton,Michael Mukasey turns 77… Swedish industrialist, chairman of the Nobel Foundation (manager of the Nobel Prize) from 2005 to 2013, his father was the chairman of the Swedish branch of the World Jewish Congress, Marcus Storch Ph.D. turns 76… In 1986 she became first woman in the IDF to hold the rank of Brigadier General, she was a member of Knesset (2006-2009), Amira Dotan turns 71…  President of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, Richard N. Haass turns 67…  Sports columnist, commentator and author of 36 sports-related books, John Feinstein turns 62… French-Israeli hairdresser and entrepreneur, Michel Mercier turns 57… Sports executive, attorney and former president of basketball operations for the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves (2009-2013), David Kahn turns 57…  Co-founder and CEO of the personal genomics and biotechnology company “23andMe,” Anne Wojcicki turns 45…  CEO of NYC-based Xukuma, LLC (a consulting firm), Jennifer Lew Goldstone…  Managing Partner at Resolute Venture Partners and former White House liaison to the Jewish community, Jay Zeidman turns 35… Director of baseball research and development for the Washington Nationals, Sam Mondry-Cohen turns 31… Political Reporter at BuzzFeed, Ruby Cramer… Partner and managing director of private investment bank DH Capital, he serves on the boards of American Jewish World Service and Hazon, Marty Friedman Larry Gordon

SUNDAY: Billionaire banker and energy executive, he is the chairman of BOK Financial Corporation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, George Kaiser turns 76… Newspaper columnist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth and author of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, Meir Shalev turns 70… Denver-based trial lawyer (formerly a prosecutor, now a criminal defense attorney), film producer and author Kenneth Eichner turns 64… Economics journalist Peter S. Goodman turns 52… Twin brothers, Los Angeles based philanthropists and businessmen, Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz and Yisroel Zev Rechnitz turn 47… Vice President for Community Engagement at BBYO, Jayme David turns 41… Director of the Straus Center at Yeshiva University, he is also the Rabbi of NYC’s Congregation Shearith Israel (often called The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue), Rabbi Meir Soloveichik turns 41… Senior producer of data-based news and investigations at CNN, Aaron Kessler turns 39… Rabbi Levi Welton turns 35… Former Obama White House aide, then a venture capital investor for Steve Case, now a VP in the NYC office of SKDKnickerbocker, Herbie Ziskend turns 33… Former director of Israel and Jewish Advocacy at the Baltimore Jewish Council, now managing a political campaign for the Maryland legislature, Adrienne Potter Yoe… and her twin sister, Moira Yoe Bauer, who works in NYC on corporate governance and sustainability at Prudential Financial, both turn 31… Assistant editor of The Agenda at Politico, Danny Vinik turns 28… Uriel Wassnerturns 24… Deputy Editor at Politico Pro, previously at Kaiser Health News, CQ and Newsday (the latter for almost 20 years), Carol Eisenberg Jason Levin

State Dept: Friedman’s Meeting Palestinian Negotiators ‘Perhaps an Upgrade’

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s meeting with senior Palestinian negotiators is “not a downgrade but perhaps even an upgrade,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said…

State Dept: Israel Takes Trump’s Concerns About Settlements Into Account

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Israeli government has “implemented a policy” that takes President Donald Trump’s concerns about settlement construction “into account” despite the recent announcement that it advanced plans…

Kafe Knesset for July 11

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Last night, hundreds of Labor party activists gathered in Tel Aviv to witness the results of the party’s leadership runoff. Activists broke out in tears of excitement as…

Despite US Pressure, Most Palestinians Support Terrorist Payments

Thursday, July 6, 2017

In the face of increased pressure from the Trump administration and Congress to end Palestinian terrorists’ payments, a new poll released on Wednesday showed that an overwhelming majority…

Republicans and Democrats Dispute Iran Sanctions Delay

Friday, June 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – With the House still unable to pass Iran sanctions legislation, Members of Congress are disputing the source of delay, naturally based on party lines. Representative Ted…

Haley Defends UNRWA’s Schools and Healthcare Against Congressional Attacks

Thursday, June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON – Amidst an onslaught of Congressional criticism, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for aiding Palestinians. “I will say…