Daily Kickoff: Details on the Putin-Bibi-Trump deal on Syria | Kushner threatens to abandon Gaza First plan | The Israeli author who loves Amazon

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DRIVING THE DAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo harshly criticizedIran’s leaders in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library yesterday, comparing them to a “mafia” and conmen. Pompeo stopped short of calling for regime change, but he announced stepped-up US government broadcasting in Farsi.

Pompeo: “During the time of the nuclear deal, Iran’s increased oil revenues could have gone to improving the lives of the Iranian people. Instead, they went to terrorists, dictators, and proxy militias. Today, thanks to regime subsidies, the average Hizballah combatant makes two to three times what an Iranian firefighter makes on the streets of Iran.”

FIRE AND FURY 2.0? Trump Warns Iran’s Rouhani to ‘Never, Ever Threaten’ the U.S. — by Nick Wadhams: “President Donald Trump launched a new broadside against Iran, warning of unspecified “consequences” if Hassan Rouhani continues threatening America… The threat — similar to ones Trump issued last year in warning North Korea about its rapidly improving nuclear weapons program — risks leading to a speedy escalation if neither side backs down.” [BloombergWashPost]

— “The escalation of bellicose rhetoric comes just three weeks before the first round of banking sanctions suspended under the nuclear deal is reimposed.”[WashPost]

HEARD THIS MORNING — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Fox & Friends: “The only person that’s inciting anything is Iran. [Trump] is going to continue to be tough on this topic. He’s certainly not going to tolerate the leader of Iran making threats against Americans.”

Julia Ioffe tweets“Prediction: in a year, Trump has a summit with Rouhani in some neutral city—Dubai?—on which 1,500 journalists will descend, at which point, Trump and his supporters will claim that he averted war with Iran.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for his “strong stance” on Iran in remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said that Trump and Pompeo were taking a clear position against “Iranian aggression” after years that “the Iranian regime was pampered by world powers.” Netanyahu added: “In this context, I must point out that our diplomatic and military cooperation with the U.S. is at an all-time high.”

CONFERENCE CIRCUIT — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Christian United for Israel (CUFI) 13th annual summit in Washington, DC via satellite. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Pastor John Hagee will speak at the gathering this evening. [Livestream

On Tuesday morning, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), as well as Paul Teller, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, will address the conference.

CUFI’s Co-Executive Director Shari Dollinger tells us… “What will strike you is even though the event in the same building as the annual AIPAC Policy Conference (Walter E. Washington Convention Center) is how dramatically different the events are in terms of the participants. Our participants are from all 50 states, and for the folks that come, this is really a very serious financial sacrifice in some cases and a big deal for them to get off work. You are going to see a cross-section of America. They are deeply passionate about many issues, but the issue that they come to Washington for is Israel and Israel alone. Our members are excited and activated after the embassy move.”

— CUFI, which crossed the 4.3 million member mark this week, will also honor the life of slain veteran Taylor Force and celebrate the passage of the Taylor Force Act, which Dollinger says, CUFI helped pass by driving more than 1 million emails to every office on Capitol Hill. Ari Morgenstern, Communications Director for CUFI, added that the pro-Israel group is confident that the Trump administration will fully implement the Taylor Force Act.

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — As Violence Flares, Kushner Threatens to Abandon a Plan B for the Mideast: Rebuilding Gaza — by Mark Landler: “Declaring that no foreign investors are willing to pour money into Gaza during what they label a Hamas-driven conflict, [Jared] Kushner and [Jason] Greenblatt… are rethinking their efforts to rebuild Gaza’s economy as a way of opening the door to a broader peace accord. “Hamas has driven Gaza to a state of desperation,” Mr. Kushner said on Sunday. “Provocations will not be rewarded with aid.” Hamas leaders, he said, needed to demonstrate “a clear intent for a peaceful relationship with their neighbors” in order for aid and investment money to flow.” [NYTimes]

Trump administration stays on the sidelines as U.N. envoy pushes for peace in Gaza — by Loveday Morris: “The Americans have cut aid for UNWRA, so how dare they speak about the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” said Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator. “The Americans have disqualified themselves from any kind of role.” [WashPost]

Ambassador Nikki Haley, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman write… “The peace proposal we will make will be similarly realistic, recognizing the legitimate needs of both Israel and the Palestinians as well as the interests of the broader region. No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.” [CNN]

TALK OF THE REGION — Hundreds of Syrian White Helmets evacuated to Jordan through Israel: “The Israeli military in coordination with its U.S. and European allies evacuated hundreds of Syrian rescue workers known as the White Helmets from near its volatile frontier with Syria, in a complex and first-of-a-kind operation. The evacuees… were transported to Jordan… Israel’s military said the overnight operation was “an exceptional humanitarian gesture” at the request of the United States and European allies due to an “immediate threat to the (Syrians) lives.” [CBSNewsCNN]

— Ambassador David Friedman tweets“Acting at the direction of President Trump, I had the privilege to work with the Israeli Government & my incredible colleagues at State & NSC in coordinating Israel’s daring rescue of #WhiteHelmets and their families from Syria. Thank you Israel for the great humanitarian effort!”

Israel says it fired ‘David’s Sling’ interceptor at rockets launched in Syria: “Israel’s launched its “David’s Sling” air defense system on Monday as a precaution against rockets fired within neighboring Syria, setting off sirens in northern Israeli communities.” [Reuters

HAPPENING TODAY — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meetwith Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem.

Inside the Putin-Netanyahu-Trump deal on Syria — by Josh Rogin: “Administration sources… tell me that Trump is now fully on board with the Putin-Netanyahu deal over Syria… Administration sources said, although nobody can be sure because Trump hasn’t fully briefed his own staff, the understanding is that Putin walked Trump through the terms of the Syria deal… Under the new deal, Russia agrees to keep Iranian troops and proxy groups 80 kilometers, or about 50 miles, from Israel’s border (if they can), and Putin promises not to object if Israel strikes Iranian assets in southern Syria.”[WashPost]

INTERVIEW — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger talks about the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in an interview with the Financial Times: “It was a meeting that had to take place. I have advocated it for several years. It has been submerged by American domestic issues. It is certainly a missed opportunity. But I think one has to come back to something. Look at Syria and Ukraine. It’s a unique characteristic of Russia that upheaval in almost any part of the world affects it, gives it an opportunity and is also perceived by it as a threat. Those upheavals will continue. I fear they will accelerate… The mistake NATO has made is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian [western idea of a state] entity. And for Russia this is a challenge to its identity.” Do you mean that we provoked Putin, I ask. “I do not think Putin is a character like Hitler,” Kissinger replies. “He comes out of Dostoyevsky.” [FinancialTimes]

2018 WATCH — Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart exchange jabs in first Virginia Senate debate — by Ben Jacobs: “Kaine raised Stewart’s past associations with white supremacists such as the Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul Nehlen… Stewart attacked Kaine for standing by Leslie Cockburn, a Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia who co-wrote a book the New York Times called “Israel-bashing for its own sake”. Kaine said: “You can be critical of someone’s foreign policy and not be an anti-Semite”. He added: “I don’t have to agree with her foreign policies; her foreign policy views aren’t necessarily mine.” In response to a follow-up question from the Guardian, a spokesman for Kaine told the Guardian: “He said he doesn’t agree with every foreign policy position. I do not believe he has read her book.””[TheGuardian]

** 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: Accused Russian agent Butina met with U.S. Treasury, Fed officials including Stanley Fischer [Reuters] • Hedge Funds Set to Face Off Over Debt-Ridden Windstream [WSJ] • Leon Cooperman to Convert Omega Advisors to Family Office at Year End [InstitutionalInvestor] • Thor Equities gives up ownership of Upper East Side building [TheRealDeal] • Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Leaving The Atlantic [WashPostNYT]

TOP TALKER: Daniel Gordis writes… “Soul-Searching After a Rabbi Was Detained in Israel: Diaspora Jews, much to their frustration, have virtually no impact on Israel’s policies. If anything, the newly passed Jewish Nation-State law essentially codifies that fact. What remains to be seen is whether rank-and-file Israelis will begin to worry that Israel is following in the path of numerous European countries that, like the U.S., are in the grips of regimes with hard-right inclinations. Until a few days ago, there was little reason to believe that Israelis were ready to be roused. How ironic it would be if the detaining of a Conservative rabbi sparked the conversation that Israelis desperately need to have.” [BloombergView]

Elli Fischer writes: “Take it from one who performs Orthodox weddings outside the Chief Rabbinate: The Haiyun case is no big deal… I accuse those who equate Israel with Iran and Saudi Arabia, who have begun posting their own pictures as “WANTED” signs on social media, of distorting the reality that the Israeli authorities have clearly chosen to look the other way.” [ToI]

Israel’s New Law Inflames the Core Tension in Its Identity — by Emma Green: “Over the long and tortured seven-year history of this bill, it has essentially been emptied of almost all of the content that the right-wing folks who supported it at the beginning sought for it to contain,” said Noah Efron, a professor at Bar-Ilan University… “If the right-wing government has worked for seven years on a bill that in its first forms had teeth, and in the end they pass a weakened bill that’s symbolic … is that a sign of strength or of weakness?”

“On some parts of the Israeli left, though, the reaction has been vastly different. “It fits so well with the narrative on the left that it’s almost not questioned: that Israel is sliding towards an abyss of non-democracy, of rising commitment to ethnocracy,” said Efron. “There are people who really felt as though: This is it. This is the day I’m marking on my calendar, the day when Israeli democracy ended.” For his part, Efron thinks “that’s crazy,” even though he identifies with the political left himself. He doesn’t think the bill matters nearly so much, especially because it has minimal practical effect.” [TheAtlantic]

CAMPUS BEAT — Stanford Student Threatens to ‘Physically Fight Zionists’ on Campus — by Adam Rubenstein: “Hamzeh Daoud, a rising junior at Stanford, took to Facebook on Friday afternoon to declare that he’ll “physically fight Zionists on campus next year.” Angered by the Israeli government’s passage of its “basic law,” Daoud said that he’ll physically fight Zionists on campus “if someone comes at me with their ‘Israel is a democracy’ bullshit…” By Friday evening… he edited it, changing the word “physically” to “intellectually.” [TheWeeklyStandard]

Max Fisher writes… “Israel Picks Identity Over Democracy. More Nations May Follow: Democracy’s growth has stalled globally. Though the causes for this are not fully known, the trend is marked, in part, by once-healthy democracies rolling backward. Conventional wisdom holds that this is because of mismanagement or the self-interest of leaders. But maybe this is wrong. Forced to choose between putting democracy or identity first, people may not always pick democracy.” [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — The Authors Who Love Amazon — by Alana Semuels: “For most of Prime Day, Amazon’s annual sales bonanza, an unfamiliar face topped the site’s Author Rank page: Mike Omer, a 39-year-old Israeli computer engineer and self-published author… Omer told me he has now sold more than 10,000 books through Amazon, and that his books have also been borrowed more than 10,000 times on Kindle Unlimited… “What made this possible is Amazon,” he told me. “It can expose me to millions, or tens of millions of readers.” … Omer’s experience has been like a dream, he told me.” [TheAtlantic]

SCENE THE OTHER DAY: “David Geffen headed into port on Sunday, stopping for lunch at La Scoglio with a few friends after spending the day sailing around Capri and southern Italy… The group included musicians Paul McCartney, supermodel Karlie Kloss, designer Misha Nonoo, billionaires Henry Kravis and Barry Diller, Hollywood-agent-turned-media-adviser Michael Kives and venture capitalist Joshua Kushner… Geffen posted about the ‘fabulous lunch’ before later sharing a photo of the group aboard Rising Sun.”[DailyMailInstagram]

SPORTS BLINK: 7-year-old chess champ can’t compete in Tunisia tourney because she’s Israeli: “Schoolgirl Liel Levitan from Haifa is unable to accept an invitation to play in the World Chess Championship because host nation Tunisia will not allow Israelis to compete… The International Judo Federation on Friday stripped the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia from hosting two international tournaments due to their failure to guarantee equal treatment of Israeli athletes.” [ToI

DESSERT — In search of perfect pastrami: Your guide to the Jewish delis of Los Angeles — by Jenn Harris: “While the deli culture in Los Angeles isn’t as robust as in New York City, if you grew up in this city, chances are you can trace at least one significant life moment to the Saran-wrap-laden counters of a Jewish deli.” [LATimes] • How Does the Owner of Katz’s Deli Do His Job? [Slate]

REMEMBERING — Jonathan Gold, Food Critic Who Celebrated L.A.’s Cornucopia, Dies at 57 — by Pete Wells: “Jonathan Gold, the restaurant critic whose curious, far-ranging, relentless explorations of his native Los Angeles helped his readers understand dozens of cuisines and helped the city understand itself, died on Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 57… Mr. Gold wrote about restaurants for Gourmet, California and Los Angeles magazines, but the bulk of his reviews appeared in two newspapers: LA Weekly, where in 2007 he won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, and The Los Angeles Times, where he had been the chief critic since 2012.” [NYT]

BIRTHDAYS: US District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, appointed by President Carter in 1979, assumed senior status in 1999, he is a past President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Judge Avern Cohn turns 94… World-reknowned pianist and conductor, Leon Fleisherturns 90… Banker who distributed $60 million to his 400 employees when he sold City National Bank of Florida in 2008, Leonard L. Abess turns 70… Retired appellate court judge, born in Bucharest, Romania, raised in Los Angeles, at age 35 he was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Reagan, Judge Alex Kozinski turns 68…

Real estate investor who made his fortune in the trade and manufacture of fertilizer in the former Soviet Union, Alexander Rovt turns 66… Freelance journalist and a former reporter and columnist for Glamour magazine, she is the widow of Daniel Pearl and wrote a book about his kidnapping and murder in Pakistan in 2002, Mariane Pearl turns 51… Director of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Museum since 2016, Rachel Goslins turns 49… Dov M. Katz turns 48… Contributor to Time, Joel Stein turns 47… Activist and fashion designer, Monica Lewinsky turns 45… Reporter for The Washington Post, Perry Stein turns 29… Baseball outfielder in the New York Mets organization, he was the starting right fielder for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Zach Borenstein turns 28… Associate at The Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Joseph Stern… Melissa Brown




Daily Kickoff: Zuckerberg clarifies remarks on Holocaust deniers | For many world leaders, the path to DC runs via Bibi | Notorious RBG in Song

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DRIVING THE CONVO — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg caused an uproar yesterday for comments that appeared to defend having Holocaust deniers on his platform

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Kara Swisher on the Recode Decode podcast. “It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.'”

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted“Holocaust victims feared that after they were murdered- they would be forgotten and denied. Mark Zuckerberg did both!”

— ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt added in a statement: “Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews. Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination.”

— Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper: “Holocaust denial is the quintessential ‘fake news.’ The Nazi Holocaust is the most documented atrocity in history, allowing the canard of Holocaust denial to be posted on Facebook, or any other social media platform cannot be justified in the name of  ‘free exchange of ideas’ when the idea itself is based on a falsehood.” [JewishJournal]

— Deborah Lipstadt writes: “What Zuckerberg fails to understand — even though he claims this was not his aim — is that by saying deniers aren’t “intentionally” getting things wrong, he leaves open the possibility that they could be right.” [CNN

Zuckerberg later tried to clarify his remarks: “There’s one thing I want to clear up. I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that,” he wrote in an email to Recode… “These issues are very challenging,” he added, “but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.”

HELSINKI SUMMIT— As Russians describe ‘verbal agreements’ at summit, U.S. officials scramble for clarity — by Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Anton Troianovski: “Important verbal agreements” were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday… Antonov also said that Putin had made “specific and interesting proposals to Washington” on how the two countries could cooperate on Syria. But officials at the most senior levels across the U.S. military, scrambling since Monday to determine what Trump may have agreed to on national security issues in Helsinki, had little to no information Wednesday… Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did not attend Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting with Trump and has not appeared in public this week or commented on the summit.” [WashPost]

— Trump will meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in the Oval Office at noon.

Bret Stephens: “Assuming Mike Pompeo and John Bolton still have their own senses intact, they too should resign following the epic disgrace of the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki on Monday. So should their senior staff.” [NYT]

Iran Says Trump Sought Meeting With President 8 Times at U.N. Last Year — by Rick Gladstone: “White House and State Department officials did not immediately respond to the Iranian assertion, made by President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, at a cabinet meeting… “Trump asked the Iranian delegation eight times to have a meeting with the president,” Mr. Vaezi said… Iran’s Foreign Ministry previously said an American request for a Trump-Rouhani meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly last September had been declined. Some Iranian state media have reported that Mr. Trump even invited Mr. Rouhani for dinner during that period.” [NYTimes

STATE VISIT — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met this morning with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. At a joint press conference ahead of their meeting, Netanyahu called Orban a “true friend of Israel” and praised him for combatting anti-Semitism. [Video]

— “All of the Jewish citizens in Hungary are under the protection of the government,” Orban said, according to a Hebrew translation of his remarks to reporters in Hungarian… “We are proud that in Hungary, self-identifying Jews, who celebrate and preserve Jewish tradition can feel safe.” [Reuters]

 “President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday warned visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban against the rise of neo-fascism, in what appeared to be an unsubtle dig at the right-wing leader. “I know what you are doing against anti-Semitism. I know the efforts. But we have to remember, when we say never again — neo-fascism and neo-fascist groups are a real danger to the very existence of the free world,” Rivlin told Orban, speaking in English. “It brings racism, it brings hatred” against its targets’ faith or nationality, Rivlin added.”[ToI]

DEEP DIVE: Netanyahu and Orbán: An Illiberal Bromance Spanning From D.C. to Jerusalem — by Anshel Pfeffer: “The legendary political strategist Arthur Finkelstein… was recommended to Orbán and masterminded his 2010 reelection campaign. The New York State-based Finkelstein, who passed away last year, only made short, usually secret, appearances in the countries where he advised… The man Finkelstein sent as project manager for the 2010 Orbán campaign was his partner, George Birnbaum, who had previously lived in Israel and worked for Netanyahu as a senior aide in the ’90s. Members of the Chabad synagogue in central Budapest remember the Orthodox Birnbaum going there for prayers and Shabbat lunch, so he could be in walking distance of Orbán’s Saturday rallies.”

“Despite Orbán’s affinity with Trump, he wasn’t high on the new administration’s priority list. “The message that Orbán is in the Trump camp didn’t filter down fast enough to the State Department,” says a well-connected official in Budapest. “Bureaucracies are slow everywhere and Orbán looked to Netanyahu to help him out with that.” … During Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest last year, Orbán asked for assistance, and Israel’s ambassador and Netanyahu confidant Ron Dermer was set to work on opening doors to the administration.” [Haaretz]

The path to Washington passes through Jerusalem — by Ben Caspit: “Until recently, Netanyahu had been viewed in the global arena as a serial liar and con man who could not be trusted… Today, however, Netanyahu is seen as one of the strongest, most well-known leaders in the world, a mega celebrity in global halls of influence and a mover and shaker on the international stage. Everybody is knocking at his door. Netanyahu has transformed from persona non grata at the White House into the leader with the most influence over the current US president…  Today, the path to Washington passes through Jerusalem. This fact is clear as day to leaders of the universe.” [Al-Monitor]

TALK OF THE NATION — Israeli parliament passes bill defining country as the nation-state of the Jewish people — by Noga Tarnopolsky: “The new law defines Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish nation, with “a singular right to national self-determination within it.” “This is a defining moment,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said immediately after the bill passed. “Long live the state of Israel!” … Arab members of Israel’s parliament confronted Netanyahu as he left the venue. “You passed an apartheid law, a racist law!” shouted Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Arab Joint List. “Why are you afraid of the Arabic language?” Netanyahu replied: “How dare you talk this way about the only democracy in the Middle East?”” [LATimes]

PIC OF THE DAY — Netanyahu was spotted reading the Economist magazine in the Knesset plenum as the vote proceeded through the night. [Pic] • Bibi also participated in a selfie with controversial Likud MK Oren Hazan, famously known for the Trump selfie [Pic

TALK AT THE UN — Palestinians protest US visa denial to experts to come to UN — by Edith Lederer: “The Palestinians are protesting the U.S. refusal to grant visas to six experts from the prime minister’s office to come to the United Nations to present a report on Palestinian implementation of U.N. goals for 2030. The Palestinian U.N. ambassador, Riyad Mansour, told two reporters Wednesday that Israel “complicated the matter” by refusing to allow several of the experts to travel from Ramallah to Jerusalem where the U.S. Consulate is located to check on their visas.” [AP]

HEARD YESTERDAY — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley explained the U.S. withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council is a speech at The Heritage Foundation: “The Human Rights Council has been, not a place of conscience, but a place of politics. It has focused its attention unfairly and relentlessly on Israel… No other country – not Iran, not Syria, not North Korea – has an agenda item devoted solely to it. Agenda Item Seven is not directed at anything Israel does. It is directed at the very existence of Israel.” [Video]

COMING SOON — Chris Christie to ‘set record straight’ in ‘Let Me Finish’ — by Hillel Italie: “Hachette Books confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the former New Jersey governor’s “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics” is scheduled for next January 29. According to a statement from Hachette, Christie plans to “set the record straight” on his time as a key Trump campaign supporter in 2016 and being “unceremoniously booted” from the transition team after Trump’s upset victory… He will provide “frank appraisals” of such fellow Trump insiders as Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski and Jared Kushner, whose father, Charles Kushner, was sent to prison when Christie was a federal prosecutor.” [AP]

DNC alleges Secret Service blocked it from serving lawsuit to Jared Kushner — by Kara Scannell and Noah Gray: “The Democratic National Committee tried and failed three times to serve Jared Kushner with a lawsuit at his Manhattan apartment and was turned away by a US Secret Service agent when it attempted to deliver the packet to the White House senior adviser’s Washington, DC, home… The Secret Service agent told the server “figure out another way to attempt service,” the DNC alleged.” [CNN]

2018 WATCH — Democratic House candidate (NY14) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed yesterday that she is learning more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from J Street, Jewish Voices for Peace, and “Palestinian rights organizations.” Ocasio-Cortez spoke at an event for Mic’s new Facebook Watch program “Mic Dispatch.”

** 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: New Pritzker investment fund takes in $1.8 billion [Crains] • Comcast Drops Out of Bidding War With Disney for 21st Century Fox Assets [Variety• Viacom to Remain Independent Amid CBS Merger Push, Says CEO [HollywoodReporter] • CBS Directors Had Prior Talks on Contesting Redstone Control [Bloomberg] • Kushner Companies’ $500M plan to create a new mega mall gets OK from N.J. town [NJAdvance] • Martin Selig updates plan for tower on Seattle’s waterfront [BizJournals• Madison Square Garden Announces Lease Deal with Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp for Vegas Sphere Venue [Billboard] • Robert Kraft close to buying Spanish soccer team [NBCSports] • Discovery Extends CEO David Zaslav’s Contract Through 2023 [Variety] • Seymour Stein Is Leaving Warner Music and Sire Records, the Label He Launched 51 Years Ago [Billboard]

MEDIA WATCH — Interview with CBS News president David Rhodes by Marisa Guthrie:  

Your boss, Leslie Moonves, is in a very public skirmish with Shari Redstone, the major shareholder of CBS Corp. Many have speculated that if he loses this battle, he’ll have no choice but to leave the network. So what is CBS without Les?

Rhodes: Leaving aside the corporate governance drama we’ve all read about, we couldn’t have done any of the things you see us doing without not just his support but also his engagement. And that includes the talent, where he always has not just an opinion but an important role in working through these decisions with management.

Did you talk to him about firing Charlie [Rose]?

Rhodes: Every significant decision that happens here, he is a part of.

Including that one?

Rhodes: Absolutely. You wouldn’t do something like that without having the conversation anyplace, but especially here. Not just because that’s the hierarchy but also because he’s really good at this. [HollywoodReporter]

The Atlantic embarking on a hiring spree: “For more than 160 years, says Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine has been “preoccupied by issues of the American idea and American governance and the American presidency.” But the Atlantic is now embarking on a “radical expansion of our coverage,” says Goldberg, which entails ramping up daily coverage of these core areas.” [MorningMedia]

Gaza startup struggles to recover after Israeli airstrike — by Najib Jobain and Fares Akram: “The office of Haweya for Information Technology was among dozens of buildings damaged on Saturday in a flare up violence between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza… The startup was featured in an Associated Press story in 2015 as a model of the emerging high-tech entrepreneurship trying to overcome Gaza’s isolation and access restrictions… Its owner and founder, Mohammed Qudih, estimated the damages from the airstrike at around $13,000.” [AP]

With Weddings in Cyprus, Israelis and Lebanese Bridge a Divide — by Ben Hubbard: “Where are you from?” a Lebanese bride asked a wedding party at an adjacent table one morning. “Israel,” a man in the party responded. The bride’s eyes widened. She murmured that she was from Lebanon. “Ahlan wa sahlan,” the Israeli man said, Arabic for “welcome.” “Are you getting married today?” the Israeli bride asked. The Lebanese bride nodded. “Congratulations, and good luck,” the Israeli bride said. Later, the Lebanese couple asked that their names not be published for fear of legal trouble at home, where interactions with Israelis can be treated as a crime. “The media around you, they say it is forbidden to be in the same place, that they are the enemy,” the Lebanese bride said. “But they are people, too.” [NYTimes]

Israel Detains Conservative Rabbi for Performing non-Orthodox Weddings — by Aaron Rabinowitz, Josh Breiner and Noa Shpigel: “Rabbi Dov Haiyun of Moriah Congregation in Haifa… was detained following a complaint filed against him by the Rabbinical Court in Haifa for allegedly “marrying those who are not eligible to be married.” … The incident was the first time police attempted to enforce a 2013 law forbidding performing weddings outside the Rabbinate.” [Haaretz]

SPORTS BLINK — ‘Not an Ending, But a Beginning’ for Israel Lacrosse — by Hillel Kuttler: “Forty-six national teams stood behind their flags for the opening ceremony of the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship last Thursday evening at Netanya Stadium. The pageantry — rhythmic gymnastics-like dancers, songs, official welcomes, referees’ oaths and fireworks — capped a stunning doubleheader for David Lasday, Israel Lacrosse’s chief operating officer. Moments earlier on the same turf, his club had defeated Jamaica, 11–3, in its opener.” [USLaxMag]

More than 140 survivors of sexual abuse honored with Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPYs — by Michael Rothman: “Aly Raisman listed off the many years that women spoke up and then were told, “You are wrong.” “For too long, we were ignored,” she said… Raisman appeared on “Good Morning America” the morning of the awards show to speak about what this honor means to her and the other survivors. “Getting that award with this incredible army of survivors is very, I mean, it’s hard to put into words,” she said. “I don’t even know if it’s really sunk in yet.” “We’ve all been through something really horrible, but we’re all gonna get through it together,” she added.” [ABCNewsVanityFair]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Lakewood church marks 150 years amid rapid growth of Orthodox Jewish faith — by Stacey Barchenger: “While Lakewood has become a bastion of faith, it’s not the kind that keeps parishioners coming through the white, lattice-windowed front doors of First Presbyterian. Today, Lakewood is best known for its thriving Orthodox Jewish population. An estimated two-thirds of the township’s more than 100,000 residents are Jewish, an increase from about a third of the population in 2000.” [AsburyParkPress]

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life Immortalized In Song — by Nina Totenberg: “The new album Notorious RBG in Song is available now on Cedille Records. Some of the lyrics are based on letters to RBG, which her husband Marty compiled into a book for the Justice’s 50th birthday.” [NPR]

DESSERT — Inside Beyond Meat’s innovative future food lab — by Rina Raphael: “Beyond Meat is no longer the small startup competing against the humble black bean burger. The plant-based meat substitute maker has sold 13 million burgers since its 2016 debut and just last week admitted it is having trouble meeting demand after multiple Whole Foods stores ran out. Beyond Meat constantly tweaks its bestselling burger–the brand plans to soon release its third iteration. Constant tweaking isn’t simple for a company that refuses to incorporate gluten or GMOs, which competitors like the Impossible Burger rely on.” [FastCompany]

Subres Grill Brings the Middle East to North Miami — by Juliana Accioly: “In 1980, Etty Weinberg was vacationing in her native Israel when a friend introduced her to Eli, a young man who, like her, loved to travel and eat. Their hunger for running a business together and experimenting with various cuisines is at the heart of Subres Grill, their kosher restaurant in North Miami.” [MiamiNewTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz turns 65… Johannesburg resident Monty Lasovsky turns 83… Interactive designer, author and artist, in 1986 he married Caroline Kennedy, Edwin Arthur “Ed” Schlossberg turns 73… Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University, he served in the Dutch Senate (1999-2010) and then as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (2010-2012), Uriel “Uri” Rosenthal turns 73… Entrepreneur, hotelier and real estate developer, often referred to as the creator of the boutique hotel concept, he gained fame in 1977 as co-founder of NYC’s Studio 54, Ian Schrager turns 72… Author of three books on baseball, long-time sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN writer and co-host, Jayson Stark turns 67… Chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings (owner of retailers Sears and Kmart), Edward Scott “Eddie” Lampert turns 56…

Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times reporter and author of “The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men,” Eric Lichtblau turns 53… Israeli actress, model and film producer, Yael Abecassis turns 51… Spokesperson to the Arab media in the Israel Prime Minister’s Office, Ofir Gendelman turns 47… Co-Chairman and CEO of of CheckAlt, an independent provider of treasury and lockbox solutions, Shai Stern turns 44… Entrepreneur, two-time author and strategic marketing consultant, Alexis Blair Wolfer… Founder, CEO and Director at TradeRoom International, Ezra David Beren turns 33… ProPublica reporter Isaac Arnsdorf turns 29… Henry Emmanuel Hublet… Zach Houghton




Daily Kickoff: Bibi boasts how he convinced Trump on Iran | Sharansky on Israel’s ties with anti-Jewish leaders | Ocasio-Cortez rethinks two states

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TOP TALKER — How Sacha Baron Cohen fooled the nation’s leaders — by Ben Schreckinger and Didi Martinez: “Last October, a woman calling herself Ashley Winthrop emailed [former Congressman Joe] Walsh on behalf of the made-up production company First Liberty Pictures and invited him to be interviewed for a ‘docu-style series’ about terrorism to be broadcast on Israeli television. “For the on-camera appearance,” Winthrop proposed, Walsh “would meet with a gentleman from Israel who … has developed unique anti-extremist techniques that very few in the world are privy to.”

“In February, Walsh received an inquiry from “Alexis Rothe” from the fictitious Yerushalayim Television. In an email, “Rothe” informed Walsh he had been named to Israel’s “70 at 70” list in honor of the 70th anniversary of the nation’s founding. “The people of Israel understand that they owe their very existence to the unwavering support of powerful figures like Congressman Joe Walsh,” she wrote. “We have already sat with Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch, Larry Ellison, Bono, and Steven Spielberg.”

“Walsh’s wife checked out the website domain from which Alexis emailed him, yerushalayimtv[dot]com, which is now defunct but at the time was live and appeared to list television content in Hebrew… A couple of days later, the Walshes returned to Chicago and asked the Israeli consulate to take a look at Yerushalayim’s website. The consulate told them the website was fake… The couple considered hiring a private investigator but decided it was too expensive and instead resigned themselves to waiting for the video’s release.” [Politico]

One of Who Is America?’s Suckers Claims He Knew He Was Being Conned — by Laura Bradley: “Philip Van Cleave, president of the gun-rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League, recapped his entire experience with the Showtime series back in February, in a Facebook post on the group’s page, warning members that somebody was trying to trick right-wing gun advocates… When Van Cleave initially balked at the idea of arming young children, he said that “Morad” showed him what appeared to be a newscast from Israel, with text in Hebrew, about a 4-year-old stopping a terrorist attack using his father’s gun. Still, Van Cleave said he remained unconvinced, and suspected he was being set up.” [VanityFair]

CNN’s Brian Stelter in Reliable Sources — Underwhelming start for Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show?: “Episode one premiered on Sunday. Although Showtime was eager to promote other metrics for the show — including sign-ups for its streaming service and on-demand viewing — the linear rating for the premiere was tepid at best: 327,000 viewers, per Nielsen. So the show’s biggest dividend could be in media coverage, which is no small detail for a pay channel that relies on subscribers.”

IRAN DEAL WATCH — Iran files suit in international court against U.S. over sanctions— by Toby Sterling: “Iran has filed a lawsuit against the United States alleging that Washington’s decision in May to impose sanctions after pulling out of a nuclear deal violates a 1955 treaty between the two countries, the International Court of Justice said on Tuesday… A State Department official said the application was without merit and the United States would fight it in the court.” [Reuters]

Iran builds new centrifuge rotor factory: nuclear chief — Babak Dehghanpisheh: “Iran has built a factory that can produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, the head of its atomic agency said on Wednesday… Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the new factory did not in itself break the terms of the agreement.” [Reuters]

In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal: “In the video, which the Kan public broadcaster said was filmed two weeks ago, Netanyahu can be seen speaking to activists and senior members from his Likud party. “We convinced the US president [to exit the deal] and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement,” Netanyahu says in the video. “And we didn’t give up.”” [ToIVideo

Walter Russell Mead writes… “Is Helsinki Trump’s Iran Deal? While the press celebrated rather than pilloried him for it, Mr. Obama also made overtures to a U.S. adversary (Iran) over the heads of longtime allies (Israel and the Gulf states). Mr. Trump’s Russia overtures over Germany’s head are just as ill-considered… A fresh start with Russia appears to be as much of an idée fixe for Mr. Trump as outreach to Iran was for his predecessor.” [WSJ]

HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump in remarks to the press at the beginning of a meeting with members of Congress at the White House: “We discussed Israel and the security of Israel [at the meeting in Helsinki] and President Putin is very much involved now with us in a discussion with Bibi Netanyahu on working something out with surrounding Syria, and specifically with regards to the security and long-term security of Israel.”

Why Netanyahu liked what he saw from Trump in Helsinki — by Ian Lee: “Donald Trump went into his meeting Monday with Vladimir Putin in Finland deeply concerned about national security. It wasn’t the security of American citizens, however, but rather those of Israel that the US President appeared to have on his mind… It’s worth dwelling a moment on this. While most if not all of the US national security establishment views Russia as a major threat, Israel sees things very differently. It is very happy with what it sees as a successful strategic relationship between Putin and Netanyahu… It seems that Trump delivered for Israel, if not the US.” [CNN]

— “Analysts said that the summit’s most productive talks were on Syria, where the two leaders agreed to work together and guarantee Israel’s security.”[WSJ]

INTERVIEW — Outgoing Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky talks with LA Times reporter Noga Tarnopolsky: 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose coalition party was established by Nazis, recently visited Israel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will be welcomed in Jerusalem next week despite running an openly anti-Semitic campaign. Has Israel abandoned its role as a defender of Jews? 

Sharansky: “Israel has the right to pursue state interests but it cannot be blind regarding anti-Jewish leaders. We can’t change electoral results. But it’s crucial the Israeli government remain in constant dialogue with Jewish communities everywhere. In every case, there must always be a visible correlation between a nation’s attitude to Jews and to Israel. Israel has to stand against anti-Semitism on the left and on the right. Both those who like Israel and hate Jews and those who like Jews and hate Israel are not our allies.”

President Trump defended neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, Va.

Sharansky: “Israel should have been more forceful about those remarks.”

What do you say to liberal American Jews who feel bereft with the Trump and Netanyahu governments in power?

Sharansky: “I welcome liberal anger today, but I ask myself where is the anger of respectable Jewish organizations when Black Lives Matter or feminist marches adopt anti-Israel positions that are inseparable from the anti-Semitism? If I were an American liberal I would ask myself day and night why 41% of women voted for Trump, and I’d worry less about Israel.” [LATimes]

Stepping down, Sharansky pleads for ‘advisory Knesset’ to heal Diaspora ties — by David Horovitz: “Sharansky, 70, proposed setting up a forum where Israeli and Diaspora leaders “can meet and discuss their disagreements publicly.” He stressed that it could only have an advisory role, and thus could not be described as a senate or a parliament. But simply by meeting on a regular basis, and having public discussion, he said, it could reduce tensions.” [ToI]

AT THE KNESSET — Knesset members to vote on contentious Nation State bill: “A parliamentary committee has approved a final draft of the Nation State bill, paving the way for the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to vote on its passage into law Wednesday… One clause of the bill downgrades the Arabic language from official to “special” standing. Lawmakers removed a clause allowing the establishment of “separate communities” that was criticized as racist, replacing it with a clause encouraging “Jewish settlement.” [ABCNewsToI]

Prominent Jewish Donor to Israel Questioned by Airport Security Over ‘Palestine’ Pamphlet — by Amir Tibon: “The incident involving attorney Meyer Koplow took place on Sunday and has drawn strong criticism from the American-Jewish community in recent days. A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the questioning took place because of the discrepancy between Koplow’s “Zionist activities” and the English-language, pro-Palestine pamphlet found in his baggage… During a visit to Bethlehem with Encounter, Koplow said he was handed a Palestinian propaganda pamphlet in English… Koplow said he had forgotten about the pamphlet until his questioning at Ben-Gurion Airport.” [Haaretz
REPORT: Israel worked to build Hungary’s Orban a bridge to Trump White House — by Barak Ravid: “An Israeli official tells me Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, and other Israeli foreign ministry officials approached members of the Trump administration and asked them several times to open a new page with [Prime Minister Viktor] Orban… The Israeli lobbying efforts seem to have borne fruit in recent months. In May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met his Hungarian counterpart in Washington — the first such meeting in years… Israel told the Hungarians it lobbied in their favor, the officials say, and the Hungarians even thanked Israel for those efforts.” [Axios]

— Orban is set to arrive in Israel today. Orban will meet on Thursday with President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, including a follow-up dinner at the Prime Minister’s residence, tour Yad Vashem and visit the Western Wall.

TALK OF THE REGION — Israeli general clashes with cabinet hardliners over response to balloon threat — by Mehul Srivastava: “Naftali Bennett, the rightwing education minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, was involved in a heated dispute with a military chief at a cabinet meeting on Sunday after the veteran commander rebuffed his demand that the armed forces shoot and kill anyone releasing the devices. Chief of the general staff Gadi Eisenkot declined to target the arsonists, many of whom are children… The Israeli army has held back on doing so, primarily because they do not think it would be an effective response, said a military official… “There is a very real dilemma,” a second Israeli military official said. “You can’t start a war over some balloons, but you can’t do nothing either.” [FinancialTimes]

Hamas instructs members to stop balloon terrorism — by Elior Levy and Matan Tzuri: “Egypt has decided to give Hamas a few days to put a stop to or at least significantly reduce the incendiary balloons in the wake of Hamas’s insistence that it cannot stop the incendiary balloons all at once.”[Ynet]

In West Bank, 99.7% of Public Land Grants by Israel Go to Settlers — by Isabel Kershner: “Over five decades in control of the West Bank, Israel has marked out hundreds of thousands of acres as public land… But only 400 of those acres — 0.24 percent of the total allocated so far — have been earmarked for the use of Palestinians, according to official data obtained recently by an anti-settlement group after a freedom of information request.”

— “According to the Hague regulations, as long as the land is not privately owned, then the occupying power has got the right to enjoy it,” said Alan Baker, a retired Israeli diplomat and former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Citing the rule of usufruct, he said, “You can enjoy the apples but can’t cut down the tree.” It is on this basis that Israel approves settlement building. Mr. Baker, who lives in Har Adar in the West Bank, noted that his home, like all those in the settlements, is built on land lent from the Israel Lands Authority. “If any political arrangement requires us to leave, we are committed to returning the land,” he said.” [NYTimes]

HAPPENING TODAY — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will address the U.S. withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council in a speech at the Heritage Foundation at 4:00 PM EDT. [Livestream]

HEARD YESTERDAY ON THE HILL — Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) during a hearing on Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights at the House Subcommittee on National Security: “We can only imagine how much worse the threats to Israel’s north would be — and threats to the security of the broader region would be — if the Golan was in the hands of what remains of the Syrian regime, or Iran, or Hezbollah, or ISIS. By recognizing the Golan as part of Israel, the U.S. would send a clear that Syrian belligerence will not be rewarded, that Israel’s victory over its aggressor has consequences.”

Former Ambassador Dore Gold: “U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty would set an important example for others. Three U.S. administrations consistently confirmed that they envisaged that at the end of the day, Israel must remain on the Golan Heights. That core bipartisan principle of past U.S. policy cannot be realized in the long term without Israeli sovereignty over the Golan confirmed.” [Video]

— “When asked if Trump is open to recognizing the occupied territory as part of Israel proper, a White House spokesperson simply said, “There has been no change in our position on the Golan Heights.” [Al-Monitor]

ZOA’s Mort Klein, who also testified at the hearing, tells us… “What is important is America making it clear that it will never have to give up the Golan Heights for security reasons… And maybe when Syria and the Palestinian Authority will see that America is no longer supporting its absurd demands, and hopefully other countries following America’s lead, only then will the Arabs see it’s hopeless to be getting any more with pressure of the world on Israel and begin to think about real peace. So this is only a positive step towards peace.”

PROFILE: Turkey’s Jared Kushner — with even more power — by Laura Pitel: “From the moment he entered politics just three years ago, it was clear that Berat Albayrak would not be constrained by the limits of his official energy brief. As the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former business executive soon found himself setting out the Turkish government’s position on military operations, joining high-level overseas visits and accompanying his wife’s father on the campaign trail. Few expected, however, that Erdogan would be bold enough to put his 40-year-old protégé in sole charge of the economy at a time of mounting concerns about its health… Foreign investors… remain nervous about how the economy will fare in the hands of a member of the Erdogan family who is a largely unknown entity.”[Ozy

2018 WATCH — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backtracks on her support of the two-state solution? During a panel hosted by Democracy Now! at NYU on Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez was asked if she is “still for a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine?” as expressed in a previous interview to PBS. “Well, you know I think this is a conversation that I am engaging in with activists right now because this is huge, especially over this weekend, and this is a conversation that I’m sitting down with lots of activists in this movement on and I’m looking forward to engaging this conversation,” she responded. 51:03 minute [Video]

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, former Senator Joe Lieberman implores voters in New York’s 14th Congressional District not to support the Democratic nominee and instead vote for the defeated incumbent Congressman, Joe Crowley, on a third-party line: “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t speak much about foreign policy during the primary, but when she did, it was from the DSA policy book—meaning support for socialist governments, even if they are dictatorial and corrupt (Venezuela), opposition to American leadership in the world, even to alleviate humanitarian disasters (Syria), and reflexive criticism of one of America’s great democratic allies (Israel)… Mr. Crowley faces a difficult choice. I know because I faced the same one in 2006 after losing a Democratic primary. I ran as an independent because I wanted all the voters to decide whether I deserved to continue to serve them in the Senate.” [WSJ]

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has A Big Israel Problem – On The Left And The Right — by Batya Ungar-Sargon: “Israel has long been the third rail of American politics. The right will oppose anyone who dares speak up against the occupation, even if they do so from a place where they acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. And the far left will oppose anyone who dares acknowledge Israel has a right to exist, even if they are committed to solving Israel’s civil rights abuses against the Palestinians. Usually in opposition to one another, the bigotries of both the far left and the right have converged on the young socialist candidate.” [Forward]

— Ocasio-Cortez will appear for the first time with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the campaign trail, stumping for Democratic House candidates in Wichita and Kansas City on Saturday.

MUELLER WATCH — Trump Decided Russia Indictments Should Come Pre-Summit, Sources Say — by Chris Strohm and Jennifer Jacobs: “President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead to announce new Russian election-hacking indictments before his meeting with Vladimir Putin rather than after — in the hopes it would strengthen his hand in the talks, according to accounts from people familiar with the decision. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went to Trump last week and offered him the choice: before or after the Putin summit on Monday in Helsinki? Trump chose before.” [Bloomberg

** 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: Steve Ballmer discusses Microsoft and philanthropy on “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations”[Bloomberg] • UFC Martial Arts, run by Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor gets Russian backing to expand in the country [Bloomberg] • Ron Burkle sues for cut of Weinstein Company sale [NYPost]

MEDIA WATCH: Univision and Televisa’s chief of content, Isaac Lee, steps down — by David Ng: “Isaac Lee, the chief content officer of Univision Communications who led the company’s combined programming unit with Mexico’s Televisa and who oversaw such diverse content as Gizmodo and the satirical news site the Onion, is stepping down from his post after more than seven years with the Spanish-language broadcaster… The company said Lee will start his own production company developing the same type of diverse, independent content designed for a global audience.” [LATimesVariety]

How Benny Blanco Became the Most Popular Oddball in Pop Music — By Joe Coscarelli: “Born Benjamin Levin to nonmusical but ever supportive (if skeptical) parents — a father in the “intimate apparel business” and a mother who worked in assisted living — Mr. Blanco was an aspiring rapper until he realized “no one cares what a chubby Jewish kid from Virginia thinks,” and began making beats instead. He recalled spamming artists on Myspace from his school library, and weekend trips to New York, where he slept in a Times Square McDonald’s and tried to land meetings.” [NYTimes]

‘Fiddler on The Roof’ Review: A Richer, Deeper Interpretation — by Edward Rothstein: “Fidler afn Dakh.” Sounds crazy, no? But at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, that is what is presented: “Fiddler on the Roof,” a classic American musical, entirely performed in a language now rarely heard (Yiddish), neither spoken by its director (the Broadway veteran Joel Grey) nor by most of the cast (which includes some players from the most recent Broadway production). Yet the result is thrilling: It is almost as if “Fiddler on the Roof” (1964) were being restored to some primal form. And though Russian and English translations are projected on sides of the stage, they are often unnecessary. When Tevye—the dairyman who regularly argues with God and quotes Scripture—dreams of being a wealthy man and sings “Ven ikh bin a Rotshild,” can anyone doubt the meaning?” [WSJNYT]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Judge: Jewish heritage can be basis for race discrimination— by Michael Kunzelman: “The nation’s highest court hasn’t defined what “race” means under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, U.S. Magistrate Mark Hornsby said in a court filing Friday. But he concluded that Jewish citizens have been treated as a racial or ethnic group entitled to the law’s protection against employment discrimination… The magistrate issued his findings in a civil case football coach Joshua Bonadona filed against Louisiana College in February. Bonadona claims the college’s president, Rick Brewer, refused to approve his hiring because of what he allegedly called the applicant’s “Jewish blood.”” [AP]

ACROSS THE POND — Labour MP labels Corbyn an ‘antisemite’ over party’s refusal to drop code — by Heather Stewart and Jessica Elgot: “Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of being an antisemite by a senior Labour MP during an angry public confrontation in parliament on Tuesday, after the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) refused to ditch a controversial new code of conduct on antisemitism… Margaret Hodge, the former chair of the public accounts committee, approached Corbyn behind the Speaker’s chair [and] called him “an anti-Semitic racist.” … When Corbyn protested, she replied: “It is not what you say but what you do, and by your actions you have shown you are an anti-Semitic racist.”” [TheGuardian]

HEARD THIS MORNING — British Prime Minister Theresa May at the Prime Minister’s Questions: “The Labour Party is trying to redefine anti-Semitism to allow people to say that ‘Israel is a racist endeavor.’ The Chief Rabbi says that what the Labour Party is doing is sending an ‘unprecedented message of contempt’ for British Jews. Even some of [Jeremy Corbyn’s] own MPs are saying it is anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is racism. The Labour Party should accept that. The Right Honorable Gentleman (Corbyn] should accept that, and we should all sign up, as the Conservative Party has done, to the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and all its annexes.” [Video]

TRANSITION: Jessica Chait, formerly Chief of Staff to UJA-Federation of New York’s CEO Eric Goldstein has been appointed as the Met Council’s Food Czar, a newly-announced position created by CEO David Greenfield.

DESSERT — Anti-Gentrification Group Protests New Kosher Cafe in Boyle Heights — by Mona Holmes: “An anti-gentrification group called Defend Boyle Heights led a protest at the kosher Asher Caffe & Lounge last Thursday, which coincided with the East LA cafe’s grand opening date. According to Boyle Heights Beat, the group demanded a neighborhood boycott and claims owner Asher Shalom is a Trump supporter with anti-immigrant views.” [EaterLA]

BIRTHDAYS: Cognitive therapy psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, Aaron Temkin Beck turns 97… Hidden with his mother in a school attic in Poland during WW2, theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he has also published plays and poetry, Roald Hoffmann (born Roald Safran) turns 81… Leader of the Alberta party since 2018, he was previously the mayor of Edmonton, Alberta (2004-2013) and Minister of Health in the Alberta provincial government (2014-2015), Stephen Mandel turns 73… Politician, legislator and former Prime Minister of Peru (2008-2009), Yehude Simon Munaro turns 71… Executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (1985-2009) including during the 1994-95 MLB strike, now executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, Donald Fehr turns 70… Finance and nursing home executive, attorney, founder of two banks and chairman of the Israel Discount Bank of New York (2006-2007), Leonard Grunstein turns 66…

Former Israeli Police spokesman, he is now a senior national radio broadcaster in Israel, Elihu Ben-Onn turns 64…… Elliott Broidy turns 61… Yitz Woolf turns 43… Assistant Professor in the Cyber Science Department at the US Naval Academy and formerly an attorney at Covington & Burling, Jeffrey Michael Kosseff turns 40… Kiev-born, Australian writer, advocate, commentator and lawyer, he is the director of public affairs at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Alexander Ryvchin turns 35… Visual designer at Lockwood Strategy Lab, she was previously a digital media associate at NYC-based The Workmen’s Circle, Lauren Friedlander turns 29… VP of development and strategy at 70 Faces Media (parent company of JTA), Shuli Karkowsky… Chairperson of the Jerusalem-based World Union of Jewish Students, Yosef Tarshish… Izi Doenyas… Rhoda Rosen… Jan Allen… Regina Brenner… Ted Rosenberg

Kafe Knesset for June 23

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Just in time for Shabbat… Religious issues are on everyone’s lips today, with…

How WeWork’s Miguel McKelvey Met His Israeli Co-Founder

Thursday, June 22, 2017

WeWork cofounder Miguel McKelvey discussing how he first met Adam Neumann on NPR’s How I Built This podcast hosted by Guy Raz: “While I was working for the [architecture] firm, I…

Kafe Knesset for June 22

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Herzliya Conference Highlights — Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman: The Palestinians do not…

Kafe Knesset for June 21

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Herzliya Conference highlights: Dozens of politicians, defense officials, academics, government officials and experts are…

The Atlantic Dissects the Alt-Right at 6th and I

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WASHINGTON – With the rise of American identity politics, leading writers from the Atlantic discussed the alt-right ideology and it’s future on a Monday evening panel. Speaking before…

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Kotel fight heats up: The Western Wall is back on the political agenda,…