Daily Kickoff: Iran fires top banker for not foreseeing Trump’s withdrawal | Dershowitz criticizes nation-state law | Facebook buys Israel’s Redkix

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INSIDE THE ADMIN — Jared and Ivanka dig in for the long haul — by Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan: “A White House official with direct knowledge of the situation told Axios that in recent months, Jared and Ivanka have spent a good deal of time with the president in the private dining room adjoining the Oval Office and in the residence. West Wing watchers note that they weren’t accompanied by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly… Whenever Kelly departs, Javanka will be further empowered. They have outlived their enemies, and have a firmer grip on power than ever. No wonder friends say they are feeling emboldened, and aren’t going anywhere.”

“Both will also play roles in the midterms and 2020 presidential campaign: Jared will continue his behind-the-scenes role working on politics with reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Eric Trump. Ivanka will likely be onstage at key moments and in strategic locations, such as the suburbs where Trump is vulnerable with college-educated women.” [Axios]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Bibi Netanyahu rejected the timing of a Russian proposal to host a summit between the Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, Barak Ravid reported this morning. In their meeting in Jerusalem on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Netanyahu that Abbas has already agreed to meet. Netanyahu did not outright reject the offer to meet with Abbas, but maintained that it could not take place before the Trump peace plan rollout.

Trump team preparing economic plan as part of Mideast peace proposal — by Steve Holland: “A long-awaited Middle East peace plan from the Trump administration will include what the White House is calling a robust economic plan… Trump’s envoys are also working on the most detailed set of proposals to date for the overall plan, the White House official said in a briefing with reporters on Monday… A rollout strategy was being developed, the official said.” [Reuters]

— “Earlier this week, Kushner and Greenblatt met in Washington with the head of Egypt’s intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, to discuss the situation in Gaza and Egypt’s attempts to prevent another war between Israel and Hamas.”[Haaretz]

— RESULTS: U.S. Releases $195 Million in Military Aid to Egypt — by Jared Malsin: “The Trump administration released $195 million in military aid to Egypt… A State Department spokesperson said the funds had been released in recognition of “steps Egypt has taken over the last year in response to specific U.S. concerns.” [WSJ]

After Trump cuts aid, U.N. relief agency lays off staff in Gaza and West Bank — by Loveday Morris: “The U.N. Relief and Works Agency… said it had cut 154 employees in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another 113 in Gaza. About 580 other staff in Gaza will be moved to part-time contracts… The cuts in Gaza are “making an intolerable humanitarian crisis even more life threatening,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.”[WashPost]

REPORT — Paris turns into Mossad’s playground — by Tamar Shabak: “Paris has become a center of operations for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, according to an article published this week in French newspaper Le Monde. The article, titled “The Mossad’s shadow hovers over Paris,” cites senior French intelligence officials, one of whom claimed that “The city is the Mossad’s playground. The Chinese and the Russians may be our enemies, but let us not forget the Israelis and the Americans are also conducting themselves with great aggression.” … “Our ability to respond to their actions is limited because they rush to use the ‘diplomatic card’ and complain to the French prime minister and president’s offices,” the French intelligence official vented.” [Ynet]

HAPPENING TODAY — After Trump’s Threat to Iran, White House Convenes a Policy Meeting — by Michael Gordon, Nancy Youssef and Peter Nicholas: “National Security Adviser John Bolton is scheduled to hold a meeting Thursday of Pentagon and other top officials on the administration’s emerging strategy on Iran… The discussions are to take place among members of the administration’s Principals Committee, a Cabinet-level panel on national security issues that Mr. Bolton chairs and whose members include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among other senior officials.”

“Any strategy requires a clear objective and the means to pursue that objective,” said Dennis Ross, a former diplomat who is at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Right now, I am not sure what the objective is, and the only means being used are rhetoric and sanctions.” [WSJ]

Iran’s Top Banker Is Dismissed in Shake-Up as U.S. Sanctions Take a Toll — by Rick Gladstone: “Iran’s central banker was fired on Wednesdayin the first senior shake-up since the United States abandoned the nuclear agreement nearly three months ago and restored sanctions, moves that worsened an already weak Iranian economy. The dismissed official, Valiollah Seif… had been widely assailed for… failing to foresee that the Trump administration would withdraw from the nuclear agreement.”

“Mr. Seif may have been further impaired by the Trump administration’s decision, after reimposing sanctions, to blacklist him for what it called his role in money transfers to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant organization that the United States regards as a terrorist group. The blacklisting made it difficult for international bankers to deal with Mr. Seif without risking American penalties.”[NYTimes]

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write… “Trump Has Acted Foolishly On Iran. Let’s Hope He Avoids War: Should the unpredictable Trump try to engage Iran in negotiations, he’d have to recommit to the nuclear accord and likely satisfy Iran with additional concessions should he want to alter it.” [NPR]

Israel detects Russian shift on Iran’s presence in Syria — by Ben Caspit: “Ironically, when it comes to the issue of Iran in Syria, we have a rare case of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hassan Rouhani and Bashar al-Assad all sharing a common interest,” a very senior military source told Al-Monitor… “All of these leaders want Iranian forces to get out of Syria.” [Al-Monitor]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “I can tell you that each time I have spoken with President Trump, both before Helsinki summit and after, Iran has been a central point that we have focused on with respect to U.S. policy in Syria. I’m confident it will remain so.”

ON THE HILL — House Republicans Mount a Long-Shot Bid to Impeach Rod Rosenstein — by Katie Benner: “A group of House Republicans escalated their feud with the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, on Wednesday, introducing articles of impeachment in a long-shot bid to oust the official overseeing the special counsel inquiry into Russian election interference… The group of 11, led by Representatives Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, would need the support of a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to convict Mr. Rosenstein.”[NYTimes]

ROAD TO THE MIDTERMS — Interview with Perry Gershon, a Democratic challenger in New York’s 1st Congressional District running against Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin — by Jacob Kornbluh: Gershon, who volunteered on the presidential campaigns of Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart in the 1980s before starting a career in real estate, says he reignited his political activism following the election of President Trump. “It goes arm in arm with my beliefs as a Jew that I think we need to fight against what Donald Trump represents. I think he’s a threat to American democracy as we see it.” Gershon described Zeldin as a “Trump enabler” and criticized the Republican for seeking the support of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.

Gershon on the Iran deal: “I do not agree with the Trump administration’s approach. I think that JCPOA was flawed but basically, a good deal. I think pulling out of it was an error on the Trump administration’s part. I think it’s critical that we do everything we can to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. And the Iran deal, though imperfect, was a helpful step towards achieving that agenda. I don’t think whether I would have supported it or opposed it in 2015 is relevant. The fact is, we were in the Iran deal and we should’ve stayed there. The Iran deal gave concessions to Iran and those were some costs, but we’ve already given those concessions. So if we pay too big of a price, we’ve already paid it.” Read the full interview [JewishInsider]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jeffrey Katzenberg has closed his first $1 billion round of funding for WndrCo’s “New TV,” a mobile video platform that will aim to cater to our increasingly limited attention spans with short-form premium content [CNN-Pacific] • Murdoch and Iger to Skip Fox and Disney Shareholder Votes [NYT] • Facebook buys Israeli messaging company Redkix [ReutersRecode] • Mark Zuckerberg Loses $16.8 Billion in a Snap as Facebook Plunges [Bloomberg] • How Silicon Valley Has Disrupted Philanthropy [TheAtlantic] • Nestle CEO Defends Chairman After Criticism From Activist Loeb [Bloomberg] • Sam Zell to exit Chicago office market with sale of O’Hare complex [RealDeal] • US firm Upserve buys Israel restaurant tech startup SimpleOrder [ToICTech]

SPOTLIGHT — Sergio Marchionne’s Death Thrusts Agnelli Heir Into Spotlight — by Eric Sylvers: “John Elkann, head of the Italian family that controls Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, boarded his private jet last Friday in Turin, Italy, to fly to Zurich, where he went to a hospital to see his most important employee: FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne. The next day, Mr. Elkann, heir of Italy’s Agnelli family and chairman of Fiat Chrysler, announced the longtime CEO was seriously ill and wouldn’t be returning to the company. The 42-year-old owner swiftly appointed new management for the U.S.’s third-largest car maker and two other key family assets, including race-car maker Ferrari NV… The sudden turn of events is a wrenching change for Mr. Elkann, the scion of one of Europe’s most storied business dynasties, which was struggling to salvage a near-bankrupt car maker when the young Agnelli heir asked Mr. Marchionne to take the helm in 2004.” [WSJ]

— From Elkann’s Wikipedia page: “Born in New York City, John Elkann is the first son of Alain Elkann, a New York-born journalist and writer of French Jewish and Italian Jewish background.”

Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s latest: “The Big Business of Being Gwyneth Paltrow: Inside the growth of Goop — the most controversial brand in the wellness industry.” [NYTimesMag]

PROFILE — At 70, Founding A Cannabis Startup Can Be Quite A Trip — by Yaron Carni: “While her fellow startup founders e-scoot to co-working spaces around Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard — Israel’s version of Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road — Professor Leah Boehm, 70, rides her motorcycle the 40KM (24 miles) to Kibbutz Revadim in southern Israel every morning… At an age when most of her peers opt for retirement, look after their grandchildren, or go on long holidays abroad, Boehm co-founded and is building a new startup to tackle the inefficiencies in cannabis growing.”

“Boehm recognizes that she doesn’t fit the mold of a young startup founder, and that’s a good thing. “The concept that younger founders are energized risk-takers who have more free time and fewer family obligations sometimes makes us overlook the most knowledgeable and experienced of founders with a lot of passion for innovation,” she says.” [Forbes]

TOP TALKER — Alan Dershowitz says Israel ‘harder to defend’ after nation-state law: “Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and staunch supporter of Israel told i24NEWS “it was harder to defend Israel after the nation-state bill” passed last week… Dershowitz called Israel’s nation-state law “unnecessarily provocative,” explaining that it “only gives ammunition to the opposition.”” [i24News] • Finance minister says ‘hastily’ passed nation-state law is mistake, needs fixing [ToI]

MEDIA WATCH — Jerusalem Post Fires Cartoonist Over Caricature Mocking Netanyahu, Likud Lawmakers — by Itay Stern: “The Jerusalem Report, a news magazine published by Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post, fired on Tuesday the illustrator Avi Katz after a cartoon of his mocked an image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud lawmakers taking a selfie that was published following the passage of the nation-state law. The cartoon depicted the politicians as pigs… Despite the clear homage to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” … many people on social media were quick to compare it to anti-Semitic caricatures.” [HaaretzIndependent

ACROSS THE POND — Jewish newspapers claim Corbyn poses ‘existential threat’ — by Kevin Rawlinson and Pippa Crerar: “The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph each produced similar front pages for their Thursday editions attacking the Labour party’s decision not to fully absorb an internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism into its code of conduct, and its wider record on the issue since Corbyn became leader in 2015. In their joint editorial, they said the party was until recently the natural home for the Jewish community, but that Labour had “seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel” and now faced being seen as institutionally racist…” [TheGuardian]

Before the Holocaust, Jewish Suffering Had One Name: Kishinev — by Anthony Julius: “In Kishinev, a provincial city of the Russian Empire (now Chisinau, Moldova), on April 19-20, 1903, 49 Jews were murdered… This was the “Kishinev pogrom,” a “dreadful moment” in Jewish Diaspora life, Steven J. Zipperstein writes in his impressive, heart-wrenching new book on the subject, “Pogrom.” The episode is so little known now that its facts are likely to come as a shock to most readers. Yet until the late 1930s it was practically synonymous with anti-Semitism. The word “pogrom,” which Kishinev concretized, “was believed to capture accurately centuries of Jewish vulnerability, the deep well of Jewish misery,” Zipperstein writes. It was the state directing mob violence, a phenomenon that would reach its apogee in the Holocaust.” [NYTimes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Israeli Consulate in New York hosted a farewell reception for Deputy Consul General Amir Sagie, who is departing after a 4-year term, at Hudson Yards in NYC. Speakers at the event included Consul General Dani Dayan, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein, JCRC’s Michael Miller, and Andrew Gross. Sagie will serve as a senior advisor to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely upon his return to Israel. [Pic]

SPOTTED: Dr. Michal Bejerano-Sagie, Izzy Tapoohi, Noam Gilboord, David Pollock, Alicia Post, Mendy Carlebach, Mark Levenson, Eli Slavin, Councilman Kalman Yeger, Jennie Berger, Elizabeth Gioia, Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Judge Bruce Balter, Galit Peleg, Almog Elijis, Shani Dilian, Zack Pyzer, Sivan Aloni, Michael Alexander, Elizabeth Velez, Samuel Schear, and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.
DESSERT — Kosher Restaurant Puts On Receipt: ‘Immigrants Cooked Your Food And Served You Today’ — by Kylie Lobell: “Katsuji Tanabe, the restaurateur, executive chef, and owner of Mexikosher in Manhattan and Flushing, Queens, is now serving up immigrant support at his restaurants. The “Top Chef” alum and Japanese-Mexican immigrant is printing receipts at his establishments that say, “Immigrants cooked your food and served you today #ITookaRisk.” [Forward]

BIRTHDAYS: Photographer and documentary film maker, Elliott Erwitt turns 90… Member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes turns 90… Mayor of Las Vegas (1999-2011), where he was succeeded by his wife, he is a noted criminal defense attorney who once served as president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Oscar Goodman turns 79… Administrator at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston (1972-1982), chancellor of the California State University system (1991-1998) and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1998-2006), Barry Munitz turns 77…

Member of the Florida House of Representatives since 2012, representing southern Broward County, Richard Stark turns 66… Sports columnist, tv and radio personality, he works for ESPN’s Charlotte-based SEC Network since 2014, Paul Finebaum turns 62… SVP of strategy and growth and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Health Intelligence, Alan H. Spiro, MD, MBA turns 66… Correspondent for ABC News, a co-anchor for Nightline and the weekend edition of Good Morning America, Daniel B. “Dan” Harris turns 47… Israeli born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman turns 36… Israeli born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein turns 35… Political correspondent at Israel’s Walla News and self-described “political junkie,” Tal Shalev




Daily Kickoff: Trump brags about ignoring world leaders calling to dissuade Jerusalem move | How Lacob & Guber beat Larry Ellison to buy the Warriors

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TALE OF THE TAPE — CNN obtains secret Trump-Cohen tape — by Chris Cuomo, Kara Scannell and Eli Watkins: “Presidential candidate Donald Trump is heard on tape discussing with his attorney Michael Cohen how they would buy the rights to a Playboy model’s story about an alleged affair Trump had with her years earlier… On the tape Cohen also says, “I’ve spoken with (Trump Organization chief financial officer) Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with funding.”” [CNN]

— Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis tells Axios’ Mike Allen that the tape’s release sends the message: “I am no longer the previous Michael Cohen that you knew — taking a bullet for Donald Trump, saying anything to defend him, being a good soldier… That is over.”

— “Rudy Giuliani said he spoke to the president Tuesday night and described him as “discouraged.” “He’s disappointed his own lawyer recorded him,” Giuliani said.” [WashPost]

Trump tweets this morning: “What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things? I hear there are other clients and many reporters that are taped – can this be so? Too bad!”

New Cohen Tape Surfaces a Bigger Trump Fish — by Timothy O’Brien: “[Allen] Weisselberg isn’t a bit player in Trumplandia and his emergence on the Cohen-Trump recording – as someone possibly facilitating a scheme apparently meant to disguise a payoff – should worry the president. Weisselberg has detailed information about the Trump Organization’s operations, business deals and finances. If he winds up in investigators’ crosshairs for secreting payoffs, he could potentially provide much more damaging information to prosecutors than Cohen ever could about the president’s dealmaking.” [BloombergView]

BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Two Trump Allies, Seeing Unlimited Opportunity, Instead Drew Scrutiny — by Ken Vogel, Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman and David Kirkpatrick: “[Elliott] Broidy was a client of [Rick] Gates, and had paid him at least $125,000. For that money Mr. Gates advised Mr. Broidy on how to pursue both a contract for his business and appointments for his associates and provided insight into the new administration’s foreign policy plans, according to interviews as well as internal emails and documents obtained by The New York Times… After the inauguration, Mr. Gates began receiving monthly consulting payments for help navigating the new administration from a company headed by [Tom] Barrack, Colony NorthStar, which paid Mr. Gates $20,000 a month, and one owned by Mr. Broidy, which paid Mr. Gates $25,000 a month.” [NYTimes]

— On Monday, lawyers representing Broidy filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Jamal Benomar, who served as a special adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The suit alleges that Benomar had frequent contact with senior Qatari officials and with members of the Qatari team that carried out the hack of Broidy’s email server and then “helped to mastermind the dissemination of stolen materials to the media and other third parties.” [WSJ]

Ivanka Trump Closing Her Namesake Fashion Brand — by Rebecca Ballhaus and Suzanne Kapner: “Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter, is closing her namesake fashion brand, more than a year after she formally separated herself from the company and entered the White House as a senior adviser… “After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington,” she said. “So making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners.” [WSJ]

Ivanka Trump’s Latest Business Moves Signal a New Ambition — by Emily Jane Fox: “In some ways, this latest move reflects some level of self-preservation. Back in New York, her friend group is smaller, the invitations fewer and farther between, and the city’s denizens are still seething over her father’s election. Sure, she slinks in for meetings or hair appointments or small dinners with confidants every now and then, but former friends note there is not exactly a welcoming committee waiting upon her arrival.” [VanityFair]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Palestinian envoy says US peace plan is ‘dead upon arrival’ — by Edith Lederer: “Riyad Mansour told reporters that after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6 the United States “lost the qualification to be the only party to supervise the political process.” … “It seems to me that people in Washington, D.C. — they still think that ‘we are the only game in town. It’s us or nothing,'” Mansour said. “We are not a player to accommodate their desires.”” [AP]

Palestinians to Lead U.N.’s Biggest Bloc of Developing Countries — by Rick Gladstone: “The biggest bloc of developing countries at the United Nations has chosen the observer state of Palestine as its next leader… a decision that could cause new tensions with Israel and the United States… The bloc often speaks as one voice in the General Assembly… In an emailed statement, Israel’s ambassador, Danny Danon, was strongly critical. “The goal of the Group of 77 originally was to facilitate the economic advancement of underdeveloped nations,” he said. “It is unfortunate that it will now become a platform for spreading lies and incitement.” [NYTimes]

HEARD AT THE UN — Haley pressures Arab states to step up on Palestinian aid: ‘We are not fools’ — by Adam Shaw: “At a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, [Nikki] Haley noted there is “no end” to speeches from Arab states criticizing Israel’s actions in the region… “If those words were useful in the schools, the hospitals, and the streets of their communities, the Palestinian people would not be facing the desperate conditions we are discussing here today,” she said…

— Haley continued: “Americans are very generous people. We are humanitarian oriented… But we are not fools. If we extend a hand in friendship and generosity, we do not expect our hand to be bitten. And as we extend our hand, we also expect others to extend theirs as well.” [FoxNews]

— UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Nickolay Mladenov: Israel and Hamas were “minutes away” from another “devastating confrontation” in Gaza on Saturday… “Unless we begin in earnest the crucial work required to change the current deteriorating dynamics, another explosion is almost a certainty.” [AP]

Israeli minister sees Gaza-style measures for U.S.-Mexico border — by Dan Williams: “The United States could apply some of the security measures used for Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip to its own frontier with Mexico, an Israeli cabinet minister said on Tuesday. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan last month hosted his U.S. counterpart, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen… “She told me there is certainly a lot to learn here, and I reckon that some of this will certainly be implemented in what the United States is setting up on its border with Mexico,” Erdan told Israel’s Ynet TV.”[Reuters

HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Kansas City, MO: “Earlier this year, I recognized the true capital of Israel, Jerusalem, where we just opened the American Embassy. They thought it would never be named. And after it was named, they thought it would never get built, and I built it within four months.”

— NEW DETAILS: “When it came [the] time, and when people were hearing rumors about it, I was inundated from calls of every leader from all over the world, imploring me, even demanding that we not do it, to a point where I never took their calls. I called them back after I did it. You know, it’s one of those jobs, ‘Let me call them back.’ I was getting calls from kings and presidents and dictators. And when I knew what it was about, I’d say, ‘Tell them I’ll call them next week.’ Then I called them and I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you felt that way. Well, it’s too late.'”

TRUMPIAN LINE: “We did it. We’re proud of it. It’s there. Enjoy it.” [CSPAN]

— WORTH NOTING – On the embassy’s website: “Please note when making an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem that you must select Jerusalem as the city and Jerusalem as the country. If you choose Israel as the country, the system will automatically redirect you to make an appointment at the Branch Office in Tel Aviv.” h/t Allison Sommer

Trump on Iran: “We will see what happens, but we’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster ”

— Trump’s defense secretary, Jim Mattis, declined to directly answer a question about whether he was concerned that Trump’s rhetoric might ratchet up tensions in the region… “It’s time for Iran to shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation. It cannot continue to show irresponsibility as a revolutionary organization that is intent on exporting terrorism, exporting disruption, across the region,” said Mattis… “So I think the president was making very clear that they’re on the wrong track.” [Reuters]

HAPPENING TODAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on “American Diplomacy to Advance Our National Security Strategy” at 3PM EDT [CSPAN]

ON THE HILL — Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced legislation this week to reform U.S. contributions to UNWRA so that the group limits their scope to the original refugees from 1948 and not include descendants who in some instances did not even grown up in the Middle East.

Lamborn tells us: “We don’t accept UNWRA’s unique definition, which is not used anywhere else in the UN when it comes to dealing with refugees. They need to get back to their original definition and original mission, and then, in light of that, we will adjust the funding accordingly. The number will go down because we’re dealing with a much smaller number of people as opposed to their current number, which is 5.3 million Palestinian refugees. We know the number is a fraction of that.”

TALK OF THE REGION — With Syria focused on ending war, it’s unlikely downed jet was threat to Israel — by Avi Issacharoff: “There is little to suggest the Syrian air force had any intention of striking Israeli targets; rather, the pilot was probably busy bombing rebel targets adjacent to the Syria-Jordan-Israel border triangle as part of a wide Syrian and Russian offensive… If the pattern in other areas is any guide, soon enough this triangle region, too, will also be under Syrian control and quiet may return to Israel’s Golan frontier.” [ToI] •

Bennett: Jewish Nation-State Law harms Druze — by Gil Hoffman: “Education Minister Naftali Bennett took a surprising stand Wednesday when he accused his own government of making a mistake in the Jewish Nation-State Law that passed last Thursday… Bennett’s change of heart came after holding many discussions with what he called “our Druze brothers.” … “It has become clear that the manner in which the Nation-State Law was enacted was very damaging, especially to them and to anyone who has tied his fate to the Jewish state,” Bennett said.” [JPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Israel’s nation-state law: “We hesitate to respond – or to answer questions about other country’s legislation… We are certainly aware of that new law. I’d have to refer you to the Government of Israel for the specifics of that law and their position on that. But I can tell as a general matter, and as it pertains to this, that we believe in equality of all persons before the law.”

2018 WATCH — Romney has a massive campaign cash advantage over Wilson — by Bryan Schott: “[Mitt] Romney pulled in more than $2.4 million in campaign contributions from April to July… Among Romney’s contributors are GOP megadonors Sheldon Adelson and Frank Vandersloot, and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.” [UtahPolicy]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Untold Story — How Joe Lacob and Peter Guber won the Warriors and Oracle founder Larry Ellison lost (worth the read but behind a paywall) [TheAthletic] • Anne Wojcicki’s 23andMe Gets $300 Million Boost From GlaxoSmithKline To Develop New Drugs [Forbes] • Seagram Heiress Clare Bronfman Arrested For Ties To Alleged Sex Cult [TheCut] — Clare Bronfman was released on a $100 million bond [Crains] • Kushner Real Estate Group purchase $56M N.J. property, continue apartment-buying spree [NJAdvance]

ASPEN, the most interesting local news town — “The Spy Who Drove Me” — by Julia Ioffe: “It all started last Wednesday night, after the first day of the Aspen Security Forum, perhaps the most high-level annual gathering of national security types: spooks, former spooks, people who rely on spooks to set U.S. foreign policy, people who write about spooks, people who study spooks, and any politicians who want to participate in the forum. That night, I stood waiting for an Uber… Finally, a car pulled up and our designated Uber driver, a woman I’ll call Gloria, welcomed us in. She was an older woman, somewhere in her sixties, and had a sweet and heavy Hispanic accent.”

“It was all very standard Uber chit-chat fare: Have you been to Aspen before? What brings you here? “So what’s going on with North Korea?” Gloria asked. “What are people saying?” I murmured something as I dug around Instagram. “You know, I’ve been to North Korea,” Gloria said. I looked up. “What?” I asked, startled. “How? When?” “As part of a delegation.” “What kind of delegation?” I asked. Gloria was silent, driving through the dark streets.”

“[The next morning] I texted Gloria and asked her to pick me up in downtown Aspen and take me back to the conference site… “Since I saw your face yesterday, I’ve been wondering,” she said, “are you from a Russian background?” Suddenly, I was jolted from my self-flagellating reverie. How the hell did Gloria know I was from Russia? I certainly hadn’t mentioned it, and my last name wasn’t on my Uber profile. And, since I’m Jewish, I don’t even look particularly Russian—that is, classically Slavic. What else did Gloria know, and how did she know it?” [GQ]

Pink recalls bringing family to Berlin Holocaust memorial — by Amy Spiro: “Singer Pink opened up to friend and actress Reese Witherspoon in a recent episode of her new talk show, and discussed an emotional moment on tour with her family. “We went to Berlin and the Holocaust Memorial,” Pink told Witherspoon in a recent episode of Hello Sunshine…  The singer told Witherspoon that her then 6-year-old daughter Willow’s reaction to the visit was deeply moving. “She was like, ‘wait, so [grandma’s] Jewish… my mom’s Jewish, well then I’m Jewish,'” Pink recalled her daughter saying. “‘Well then this could have been us,’ and at six, it’s just like, to watch those wheels turn,” the singer, born Alecia Beth Moore, recounted.” [JPost]

MAZEL TOV: Karlie Kloss Is Engaged to Joshua Kushner: ‘Their Hearts Are Full’ — by Colleen Kratofil: “Supermodel Karlie Kloss and her boyfriend Joshua Kushner are engaged after six years of dating! … Prior to their engagement, a source tells PEOPLE that Kloss converted to Judaism in early June (a step Ivanka Trump also took before her engagement to the elder Kushner brother).” [PeopleNYT]

VIRAL — “Move over Horah, dancing with jet packs are the new hot Jewish wedding ritual.” [BarstoolSports]

One of Instagram’s biggest influencers wants influencers to know the end is near — by Chloe Melas: “The Fat Jewish, whose real name is Josh Ostrovsky, says the online phenomenon that made him a tidy sum of money has nearly run its course. The end of the influencer age, he says, is nigh. The future lies in making real things for real people. “Everybody just wants to be an influencer now. Nobody wants to get a job,” he told CNNMoney in a recent interview…” [CNN

DESSERT — Shops Come and Go. But 2 New York Photographers Don’t Want to Forget — by Laura Holson: “James and Karla Murray have lived in the East Village for 22 years. And they have highlighted some of the family-owned stores they frequented in “Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S.,” a mixed media art installation recently opened in Seward Park on the Lower East Side. All of the storefronts represented, except for Katz’s Delicatessen, have shuttered.” [NYTimes

‘Food Fight,’ a new kosher web series — by Jeanne Muchnick: “Rorie Weisberg, a health coach and founder of Full n’ Free, is competing against three other contestants in “Food Fight,” airing at Kosher[dot]com/foodfight. Her challenge: To create a dish that’s more beautiful, better executed, and above all, more delicious than the rest — all within a half-hour time period and using one key ingredient. The series, which runs once per week, premiered July 25 and was filmed in Tarrytown.” [Lohud]

BIRTHDAYS: Journalist, writer and author, the mother of John Podhoretz, Midge Decter (born Midge Rosenthal) turns 91… Cinematographer, whose work includes “The Empire Strikes Back,” Peter Suschitzky turns 77… Member of the New York City Council since 2014, Alan N. Maisel turns 72… Born in Casablanca, nightclub owner, entrepreneur and film producer, he produced “The Woman in Red” and “Weekend at Bernie’s,” Victor Drai turns 71… Former IDF Brigadier General (he was part of Operation Entebbe in 1976), a former leader of the National Religious Party, then a member of Knesset (2003-2009), now President of Genie Oil and Gas, Efraim “Effi” Eitam turns 66… Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist, formerly of the Washington Post editorial board (2002-2006), Anne Applebaum turns 54…

Retired MLB pitcher (1988-1997) from the small Jewish community in the Dominican Republic, he maintains a kosher home (not to be confused with the current NY Mets player of the same name), José Bautista turns 54… Israeli journalist, television news anchor on Channel 10 and author of a non-fiction book and a novel, Oshrat Kotler turns 53… Senior managing director of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Steven Weil turns 53… Member of the Los Angeles City Council, representing a district in the San Fernando Valley, Mitchell Englander turns 48… NYC-based criminal defense attorney, Arkady L. Bukh turns 46… Head coach of the men’s basketball team at Kent State University, Rob Senderoff turns 45… Baseball pitcher in the Oakland Athletics organization, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Joseph “Joey” Samuel Wagman turns 27… Erin Seidler




Daily Kickoff: Trump’s tweet part of a larger Iran strategy? | NYTimes on Signature Bank | Cory Booker’s Hamptons funders | ‘Shtetl Skills’

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BREAKING — Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace earlier today. The Russian-made Sukhoi jet crossed two kilometers (1.2 miles) into Israeli airspace before a pair of Patriot missiles shot it down. IDF spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus confirmed that the plane was Syrian and that Israel communicated with Russia prior to the strike to ensure the jet was Syrian and not a Russian aircraft. “The only thing we know about the aircraft is that it crashed, most likely in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights,” he added.

TALK OF THE REGION: Russia wants to push Iran 65 miles from Israel’s border in Syria — by Barak Ravid: “Russia wants to push Iranian forces, Hezbollah and Pro-Iranian Shiite militias 65 miles from the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights, a senior Israeli official said after a meeting in Jerusalem between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov… “This is fine, but eventually, we need to get the Iranians from Syria completely,” Netanyahu told Lavrov.” [AxiosHaaretz]

TEHRAN WATCH — U.S. Toughens Rhetoric on Iran Following Trump’s Tweet — by Jessica Donati and  Nancy Youssef: “On Monday morning, the rhetoric hadn’t prompted the Pentagon to move any U.S. military assets, nor generated a sense of urgency to shift the U.S. military posture near Iran, Pentagon officials said. While the U.S. once maintained a carrier strike group in the Middle East, there is none there now. The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier left the region last week and the Navy has no immediate plans to replace it, two defense officials said.” [WSJ]

— “According to multiple administration sources and briefings over several weeks with senior officials, the crackdown on Iran was long planned, and is entirely consistent with Trump’s long-stated objectives… The pre-planned strategy was timed to set the stage for the re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran three weeks from now.” [NBCNews]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Will Trump pull a North Korea on Iran? — by Nahal Toosi: “Analysts say there are signs that Trump’s approach to Iran could echo his approach to North Korea. After all, Trump has already sought to meet with Iranian officials, and his advisers won’t rule out future engagement. He’s eager to strike deals on the world stage. And Iran holds important leverage in places where Trump would like to withdraw U.S. troops, such as Syria… If Iran were to offer Trump some sort of a deal involving its own drawback from a part of Syria, Trump may leap at it, details and allies be damned.” [Politico]

Mark Dubowitz emails us… “Trump’s tweet is an important statement of deterrence and resolve. The president has once again put the Islamic Republic of Iran on notice that any interference with international shipping or any other actions will be met with U.S. force. Since the administration began its tough rhetorical campaign in February 2017, Iranian harassment of shipping and missile tests dropped precipitously. One shouldn’t underestimate the extent to which these tough statements deter a regime that only understands power.”

Aaron David Miller tweetsThe disconnect in Trump’s Iran policy is stunningly obvious — he won’t talk to Iran; can’t contain and won’t confront it. And so we drift with an other-worldly undeclared regime change policy at best doomed to fail, and at worst triggering conflict that leads nowhere.”

CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “Russia might be the answer to keep an eye on this situation because Trump wins both ways with what he did with this tweet. He wins because he gets a distraction. People are talking about it. I’m talking about it… And if it does get sideways because of his provocation, he can turn to Russia and say, I need Russia to cool it down. They can help us. Iran respects them and trusts them. And in that, he would not only justify his suppleness with Putin in the interest of working together, but he would have created his own proof that he did the right thing with Putin in the first place.” [Video


HEARD LAST NIGHT — Israel’s Ambassador Ron Dermer at CUFI’s Night to Honor Israel in DC: “Anyone see President Trump’s tweet yesterday? I think it’s safe to say that there’s a new sheriff in town – a sheriff who is making clear that the days when the most powerful nation on earth will accept threats from Iran are over… Iran now faces a strong headwind from a Trump administration determined to ratchet up the pressure. That policy is working… Truth is before President Trump came into office, Iran’s regime was riding high. Today, it’s on the ropes.”

“Over the decades, Israel has been blessed with strong supporters in Congress on both sides of the aisle. We have been blessed with Presidents, Democrat and Republican alike, who were steadfast friends of Israel… But there has never been a US administration more supportive of Israel than the Trump administration – frankly, it is not even close. From President Trump to Vice President Pence to Secretary Pompeo, from Ambassador Bolton to Ambassador Haley to Ambassador Friedman, from Jared Kushner to Jason Greenblatt to Sarah Sanders, this is an administration that sees Israel as an ally and that treats Israel as an ally. Today the alliance between Israel and America has never been stronger.” [CSPANTranscript

— In this week’s New Yorker: Is Poland Retreating from Democracy? — by Elisabeth Zerofsky: “In late June, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, of Law and Justice, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a joint statement that their dispute had been resolved. Morawiecki said that the offenses described in the Polish Death Camps amendment had been modified from criminal to civil. “Those who say that Poland may be responsible for the crimes of World War Two deserve jail terms,” Morawiecki had said earlier. “But we operate in an international context and we take that into account.” (A former Polish diplomat said that the U.S. had used “brutal political blackmail” to get the Poles to do what the Israelis wanted.)” [NewYorker

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at CUFI: “Just about one month before I arrived [at the UN], the previous American administration allowed a terrible resolution to pass. That resolution condemned Israel in the most outrageous way. It was a shameful day for America. So when I arrived, I assured the Israeli Ambassador that on my watch that would never happen again, and I’m proud to say the opposite has happened.”

“In all that we’re doing – whether it’s the embassy decision, or UNESCO, or the Human Rights Council, or pushing for votes against Hamas, our approach on Israel is tied together by one major idea. The idea that runs through all of it is the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country. We demand that Israel not be treated like some sort of temporary provisional entity or pariah.” [CSPAN]

Spotted by a JI reader on Sunday night: Ambassador Haley on an 8:01PM Amtrak Northeast Regional from NYC to DC. According to our tipster, Haley’s entourage included close to 10 aides and security personnel.

U.S. Freeze on Palestinian Aid Threatening Coexistence and Humanitarian Groups, Warn Officials — by Amir Tibon and Jack Khoury: “The funding freeze has also hurt local companies that USAID uses as contractors for economic projects, as well as Jewish-Arab coexistence groups that rely on American financial support for their activities… The Taylor Force Act doesn’t restrict the $35 million intended for the PA security forces, while the rest of the money approved by Congress… is intended for hospitals in East Jerusalem and USAID contractors.”

“If they are trying to pressure Abu Mazen [Abbas], then this is not the way to do it,” said Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel… “Abu Mazen can live with this freeze. Most of the money isn’t going to the PA anyway.” … Shapiro told Haaretz that during his time as ambassador, “There was one group of people that constantly encouraged us to support humanitarian and economic projects through USAID: Israeli security officials.” [Haaretz] • Abbas vows to continue stipends to terrorists even with PA’s ‘last penny’ [ToI]

Sen Lindsey Graham announced at the CUFI summit this morningthat he’s going to introduce a new clause to the Taylor Force Act to punish Palestinian ministers who carry out the ‘pay for slay’ program. “We are going to consider them agents of terrorism. We are going to name names.”

Israel, Hamas trapped over prisoner exchange — by Ben Caspit: “Hamas holds the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul… Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar cannot allow himself to return the bodies without receiving a hefty payment in Palestinian prisoners. Israel can’t allow itself to release Palestinian terrorists in exchange for the corpses of its soldiers, but it also can’t reach any agreement with Hamas before the bodies of these soldiers are returned to Israel for burial. Neither party can break through this barrier, so they are trapped in the same blood-soaked alleyway in a situation that repeats itself regularly with the precision of a Swiss watch. At this point, it is every weekend.” [Al-Monitor] • Israel Eases Restrictions on Gaza’s Only Commercial Crossing [WSJ]

UN rights chief sharply criticizes Israel over Gaza killings — by Edith Lederer: “Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a video address to the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that… there are “serious concerns” that Israeli accountability mechanisms don’t comply with international standards of “independence, impartiality, and effectiveness.” [AP]

ON THE HILL — Cruz Bill Would Sanction Terrorists for Using Human Shields — by Jenna Lifhits: “The bill, led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, enables the Trump administration to sanction members of foreign terrorist organizations that use civilians to shield themselves from attack. Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram are among the designated terror groups that could be targeted under the newly introduced measure… Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal are among the Democrats who back the bill.” [TheWeeklyStandard]

COURTS & CRITICS — Liel Leibovitz writes… “Is Brett Kavanaugh Bad for the Jews? It was so dismaying to see the ADL release a statementdenouncing Judge Brett Kavanaugh minutes after President Trump announced his nomination to the Supreme Court… Why would a group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism engage in this sort of partisan warfare? The answer lies with the group’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt… A former junior aide in the Clinton White House and special assistant to President Obama, Mr. Greenblatt has frequently steered the ADL into the murky waters of party politics… By focusing increasingly on the battles of the Democratic Party, and by weighing in on matters far removed from its traditional mandate, the ADL is leaving American Jews behind.” [WSJ]

An ADL spokesperson responds: “For more than a century, ADL has fought anti-Semitism — no matter the source. At times, we anger people from one political persuasion; at times, others. But this has not — and will not — change our commitment or our course.”

— The ADL official noted that the group has always called for strong questioning of a Supreme Court nominee, but in the case of Kavanaugh, the ADL believes he deserves special scrutiny because some of his views conflict with ADL policies formulated before Greenblatt became head of the group.

2018 WATCH — The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) launched an online candidate contribution portal yesterday, including its first wave of midterm endorsements. The group is backing 6 GOP House candidates — Reps. Barbara Comstock (VA), Peter Roskam (IL), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Leonard Lance (NJ), Keith Rothfus (PA), and Young Kim, running to replace retiring Congressman Ed Royce (CA) — along with 3 Senate hopefuls — Mike Braun (IN), Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND), and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. These races, according to RJC’s Executive Director Matt Brooks, are critical to the Republicans maintaining control of the House and the Senate. 

— Brooks tells us: “We are pleased to endorse and support these terrific pro-Israel candidates.” Brooks pointed to the RJC’s first $530K ad buy in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District against Democrat Scott Wallace highlighting his record of supporting pro-BDS groups. The race was then upgraded from “toss up” to “Lean R” by the Cook Report. “We look forward to doing the same elsewhere,” he said.

GOP Congressman Calls Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‘This Girl … Or Whatever She Is’ — by Jennifer Bendery: “Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Saturday referred to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democratic congressional nominee who is seen as a rising star in her party, as “this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.” … The 39-year-old DeSantis goes on to insult Ocasio-Cortez… for criticizing the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians… “There’s never been a Palestinian state. You’re just repeating these canned, left-wing talking points, and you’re somehow the savior of the Democratic Party? Good Lord,” DeSantis said of that interview. “She has no clue what she’s talking about.”” [HuffPost

2020 WATCH — via Shane Goldmacher‏Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is heading to the Hamptons this weekend for several fundraisers… Saturday evening at the home of Lisa and Steve Eisenstein in Southampton… Saturday afternoon: Tracy Maitland hosts him in Bridgehampton for “Cocktails & Conversation. Late Saturday, Carolyn Tisch Blodgett and Will Blodgett host him for the same in Water Mill. Sunday brunch/breakfast at the home of Yael and Ben Ringel in Sagaponack.”

A Republican group is digging up dirt on business leaders who could take on Trump in 2020 White House race — by Brian Schwartz: “Super PAC America Rising is gearing up for battle against potential candidates such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and former Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, according to people familiar with the plan. Apple CEO Tim Cook, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Disney CEO Bob Iger and… Tom Steyer are also in its sights.” [CNBC]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… The Cohen vs. Trump Battle Ratchets Up — by Emily Jane Fox: “For months, friends and advisers have been telling Cohen that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Rudy Giuliani, among other people in Trump’s inner circle, have been eroding his relationship with the president. People close to [Michael] Cohen speculated over the weekend whether the release of the recording was part of such a strategy… “If they think for a second that the efforts to discredit me aren’t known to me, they are sadly mistaken,” he has told friends. “Did they think I was just going to roll over and die?” [VanityFair] • Feds have 12 Michael Cohen audio recordings [CNN]

“How a Small Bank Became a Go-To Lender to the Trump Family” by Emily Flitter and Jesse Drucker: “When Michael D. Cohen needed $17 million to buy a Manhattan apartment building in 2015, he went to Signature Bank. Years earlier, he had helped initiate a relationship between Signature and Mr. Trump, and the bank became an unlikely go-to lender for the future president and his extended family. Signature provides a window into the intersecting financial interests of Mr. Cohen and the Trump and Kushner families. Signature’s interactions with some of its most famous clients are attracting attention from regulators.”

“We recognize we are not perfect,” Signature’s chairman, Scott A. Shay, said in a statement. “However, any allegation that we knowingly or somehow actively abet tenant harassment is frankly a slander against Signature Bank and an unfair impugning of the reputations of many hardworking colleagues who strive to be a positive force for not only our shareholders and depositors but our community as well.” [NYTimes]

** 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: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Takes PayPal Stake, Sees Shares Hitting $125 [Bloomberg]  Leon Cooperman, the Hedge Fund Billionaire, Says It’s Time to ‘Fold ’Em’ [NYTimes] • Would Mark Zuckerberg Have Been Fired at Another Company? [VanityFair] • Tel Aviv And Dubai Are Climbing The List Of Priciest Airbnb Cities [Bloomberg]

Billy Joel Explains Why He Wore a Star of David to a Concert Last Year — by Chavie Lieber: “Last summer, Billy Joel appeared onstage at Madison Square Garden wearing a yellow Star of David… In an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday night, Joel said President Donald Trump’s remarks on how there were good people “on both sides” of the incidents in Charlottesville ignited his choice. “I had to do something that night,” he said… ”My family suffered,” he added. “And I think I actually have a right to do that.” Joel elaborated on his decision to wear the yellow star in an interview with Vulture. “To me, what happened in Charlottesville was like war,” he said… “When those guys see punks walking around with swastikas… I was personally offended. That’s why I wore that yellow star. I had to do something, and I didn’t think speaking about it was going to be as impactful.” [RackedVulture]

LongRead: The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage — by Doug Bock Clark: “When Trump won, [Mickey] Bergman and [Bill] Richardson recognized a golden opportunity to free Otto à la the release of American hostages in Iran at the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s inaugural presidential term. The two fringe diplomats put together a photo-op-worthy proposal for the Trump plane to pick Otto up in advance of the inauguration, before bureaucracy hemmed in the new president. They didn’t receive a no from North Korea, which they knew from past diplomacy with them was often a signal of positive interest.”

“The challenge that we had was that we could not get Donald Trump,” Bergman said. “We tried to go through Giuliani, Pence, Ivanka. Nothing during the transition. I’m assuming they were in chaos over there. I don’t think it ever crossed his desk, because I think he would have actually liked it.” … When Trump learned of Otto’s condition, he doubled down on the order for [Joseph] Yun to rush to Pyongyang and bring Otto home…” [GQ]

KAFE KNESSET — Tzipi Livni Named Opposition Leader After Herzog’s Departure — by Chaim Levinson and Jonathan Lis: “Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay and Tzipi Livni announced Monday they have agreed for her to be appointed head of the opposition. Livni will take the seat in the stead of Isaac Herzog, who has been named Jewish Agency chief… As part of the deal, Livni promised to run jointly with Gabay in the next elections, though the terms of their alliance remain in murk. Gabbay cannot serve as opposition leader since he is not a lawmaker.” [Haaretz]

— JPost’s Lahav Harkov emails us: “Livni isn’t the head of Zionist Union, so all the opposition leader position means is that she gets to give a rebuttal whenever Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset, and to meet with most visiting foreign leaders. I don’t see a significant difference between how she would do that and what Herzog did. Her speeches may be a bit more fiery, but that’s about it.”

HEADLINE FROM CAPRI: “Karlie Kloss Surprises Joshua Kushner and Flips Off the Paparazzi” [VanityFair]

TALK OF OUR NATION — by Ruth La Ferla in the NYTimes: “Five years ago, Lauren Shields… wrote an article for Salon called “My Year of Modesty.” It chronicled the nine months Ms. Shields spent literally under wraps, having shed the makeup, short skirts, spindly heels and other trappings of conventional Western femininity for loosefitting, trailing skirts or jeans and a head wrap… “At the time I lived in Brooklyn and noticed that Orthodox Jewish women there dressed modestly in a way that didn’t look like a costume. So I basically began dressing like an Orthodox Jewish woman. The big difference is that instead of a long skirt, I was usually in jeans.”” [NYT]

From identifying plants to making cheese, ‘shtetl skills’ are reviving a more traditional way of life — by Anya van Wagtendonk: “Shtetl Skills” began five years ago, the brainchild of Nati Passow, the Jewish Farm School’s co-founder and executive director. A descendant of Holocaust survivors, Passow wanted to connect his organization’s commitment to urban sustainability and food justice with the practical skills that “you might need to survive should there be a massive disruption in the world order, or even just in your life,” he said. “Judaism, at its foundation, has a lot of connections to food and farming,” Passow said…” [TheInquirer]

BIRTHDAYS: Vice Chairman of Promontory Interfinancial Network, he was a partner at Covington & Burling, US Ambassador to Romania (1994-1997) and President of the American Jewish Committee, Alfred H. Moses turns 89… Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who worked for ABC News (1978-1983) and CBS’s 60 Minutes (1983-1997), Lowell Bergman turns 73… Israeli physician, author and playwright, he is the younger brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, Iddo Netanyahu turns 66… Political pollster and consultant, he was the strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Joel Benenson turns 66… Los Angeles attorney, he has served as a board member of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the United Jewish Federation and Sinai Temple, Michael Jeffrey Bordy turns 66…

Retired offensive lineman in the NFL, he played for the Green Bay Packers (1986-1990) and the Dallas Cowboys (1991-1992) where he won in Super Bowl XXVII, now a motivational speaker, Alan (Shlomo) Veingrad turns 55… Secretary for the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet since 2007, previously Kentucky State Treasurer (1999-2007), author of “The Liberal Case for Israel,” Jonathan Miller turns 51… President of Access Computer Technology in West Bloomfield, Michigan, he is a rabbi, entrepreneur and social media expert, Jason Miller turns 42… Co-founder and partner at Orfin Ventures, an incubator and deep-tech venture fund, Adam Finkel turns 32… Sarah Citrenbaum… Rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom, the largest Jewish congregation in the San Fernando Valley, a 2008 graduate of JTS, previously a rabbi in Biloxi, Mississippi, Noah Zvi Farkas turns 39… Yale Law School student Shlomo Klapper

Kafe Knesset for June 28

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Interview with Tzipi Livni: As the White House is brushing off reports which…

Feinstein ‘Regrets’ Netanyahu’s Western Wall Decision

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that she “regretted” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent move to scrap…

Haley Vows to Veto Any Palestinian For Senior UN Post

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley promised to block the appointment of any Palestinian official for a senior role at the United Nations on…

Kafe Knesset for June 27

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day The religious wars continue: Two days after the controversial government decisions to suspend…

Israel One of Two Countries with Higher Trump Favorability Than Obama

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Pew Research Center released extensive public opinion polling on Monday showing Israel and Russia as the only two countries where President Donald Trump has higher favorability marks…

Kafe Knesset for June 26

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Kotel compromise, conversion on the chopping block: The day after the cabinet capitulated…