Daily Kickoff: US expected to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council | Natalie Portman on former friend Jared Kushner | The Herring Trade War of 1877

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TALK AT THE UN: “Talks with the United States over how to reform the main U.N. rights body have failed to meet Washington’s demands, activists and diplomats say, suggesting that the Trump administration will quit the Geneva forum whose session opens on Monday. A U.S. source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the withdrawal appeared to be “imminent.” … Diplomats said it could also lead to Israel being even more isolated in the Human Rights Council.” [Reuters]

Classified Israeli report raises doubts over Trump-Kim summit — by Barak Ravid: “A classified report from Israel’s foreign ministry raises doubts over President Trump’s optimistic statements about his summit with Kim Jong-un… Trump’s readiness to accept Kim’s demand to halt U.S. military exercises with South Korea is a retreat by the U.S. and an acceptance of China’s “freeze-for-freeze” approach. The Israeli foreign ministry analysts note that the U.S. had previously rejected the Chinese position. “Regardless of the smiles in the summit many in Japan, South Korea and the U.S. Congress doubt that North Korea is sincere in its intentions. Our assessment is that regardless of President Trump’s statements about quick changes that are expected in North Korean policy, the road [to] real and substantive change, if it ever happens, will be long and slow.” [Axios]

Former Ambassador Marc Ginsberg emails us… “Ironic that on the heels of his meeting with Trump, Kim Jong Un’s next appearance on the world stage will be to welcome Syria’s Bashar al Assad. Kim has pumped chemical weapons, missile tech, and North Korean workers into Syria, and North Korea was largely responsible for the construction of the Syrian nuke reactor destroyed by Israel in Operation “Outside the Box” in 2007. If Trump wants to contain Syria’s chemical weapons program, a good place to start is in Pyongyang.”

Dov Zakheim writes… “Kim looks the winner in round one: The current understanding between Kim and Trump may not be a complete American giveaway either, as some critics are asserting. Yet, as the joint communiqué makes abundantly clear, Trump has yielded far more than he will ever acknowledge. The self-proclaimed master of the art of the deal may have concluded in the first few minutes of his meeting with Kim that the outcome would be successful. What is less obvious is who actually came away with the greater success.” [TheHill]

Derek Chollet writes… “Singapore Was Just the First Episode of Trump’s North Korea Show: Coming attractions include the diplomatic play with Iran… Remember that Trump didn’t just want to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, but to pull out of the whole of the Middle East, and what better way to do that than to make peace with Iran? Sure, leaders in the Gulf and Israel would be apoplectic. But they have to know that in Trump’s world, there are never any friends, only business associates who can be jettisoned for higher profits.” [ForeignPolicy]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH: Trump team fears ‘dead on arrival’ Mideast peace plan — by Michael Wilner: “White House officials have not yet settled on that time frame and may delay its rollout into the fall or even beyond… “You can’t put something out where everybody says, ah, this is dead on arrival,” [a WH] official said… “And the same exact document that may be dead on arrival on a Monday might not be dead on arrival on a Thursday.”

“Israeli sources tell the Post that the peace team appears at times in disagreement over the timing of the launch, claiming that Friedman once successfully lobbied Trump for a delay and continues to advocate for a protracted rollout… Friedman denied that he wants to delay the launch up to a year and dismissed accusations of friction within the team… “We are close friends, the three of us, that have known each other for two decades,” Friedman told the Post. “We’ve also known the president for almost two decades. We’re completely loyal to him and the agenda of reaching a peace agreement– maybe that’s unique in Washington.” [JPost]

Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, tweets“Fresh off the Singapore confab, there are reports that Trump’s next big foreign policy splash will be the release of an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan… This would be a terrible mistake on so many levels… The plan will be dead on arrival because the Palestinians have refused to talk to the administration for the past 6 months since the Jerusalem embassy announcement. How can you be the mediator if one side won’t even talk to you?”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine deal targets Saudi alliance, not peace — by Akiva Eldar: “The prevailing view among Israeli and Palestinian officials… is that the Trump administration views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a mere hurdle on the way to forging a strategic US-Israeli-Arab alliance against Iran and its proxies. According to these officials… US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman… has ascertained that the deal… would be tailored to fit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… In this situation, Israel and Saudi Arabia would welcome the US plan and urge the Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel based on the new blueprint. The Palestinians would flatly reject the plan… The Saudis would blame the Palestinians for the collapse of the deal and would renounce the 2002 Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative that conditions normalization of Arab ties with Israel on its withdrawal from the occupied territories.” [Al-Monitor]

Putin and Netanyahu agree to coordinate on Syria — by Maria Kiseleva: “Russia’s President Vladimir Putin agreed to strengthen coordination on Syria with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call, the Kremlin said… They discussed joint efforts to ensure security in the area of the Syrian-Israeli border, Kremlin said.” [USNews]

Russia breaks from pack, holds national day reception in Jerusalem — by Herb Keinon: “The annual Russia Day celebration put on by the Russian embassy took on added significance on Thursday because it was held in Jerusalem, the first national day to be held in the capital by any country in recent memory. “I am delighted to be here,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… said in the picturesque Sergei Courtyard in Jerusalem. “I am honored to celebrate Russia Day here with you in Jerusalem, and I predict we will celebrate many, many more Russia Days in Jerusalem,” he said.” [JPostVideo]

JARED INSIDER — Kushner basks in glow of winning World Cup bid — by Annie Karni: “[Jared] Kushner has been telling associates he is thrilled about the U.S. winning its joint bid with Canada and Mexico to host the World Cup in 2026 — in part because he sees it as a legitimate diplomatic win that he can claim some credit for. “He’s very pumped,” said one person familiar with his thinking. “First time I’ve heard him genuinely happy in over a year.” Indeed, Team Jared was quick to point to the World Cup as a victory for the son-in-law, who’s built strong relationships with many of the major players in the Middle East who in turn cast votes for the winning bid — as well as with partners Canada and Mexico.” [Politico]

2026 World Cup could help Robert Kraft score soccer stadium in Boston — by Sean Philip Cotter and Dan Atkinson: “Bob Kraft and the New England Revolution moved the ball up the field in their quest to boost soccer and build momentum for a stadium in downtown Boston with yesterday’s FIFA announcement that the 2026 World Cup will be held in North America… Kraft was part of the three-nation team that won the 2026 bid.”[BostonHerald]

Trump tweets this morning: “Thank you for all of the compliments on getting the World Cup to come to the U.S.A., Mexico and Canada. I worked hard on this, along with a Great Team of talented people. We never fail, and it will be a great World Cup! A special thanks to Bob Kraft for excellent advice.”

Natalie Portman’s biting comments about former friend Jared Kushner — by George Back: “Kushner and Portman attended Harvard together. He wasn’t the best student, Portman claims, but they were friends. In fact, they were good enough friends that Portman attended Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s wedding. As Colbert pushed Portman to discuss her friendship with Kushner, the Oscar winner said, “There’s not a lot funny to say about someone you were friends with becoming a supervillain.” [Yahoo]

BREAKING — Cohen signals openness to cooperating with federal investigators — by Kara Scannell: “Michael Cohen has indicated to family and friends he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators to alleviate the pressure on himself and his family… Cohen has expressed anger with the treatment he has gotten from the President, who has minimized his relationship with Cohen, and comments from the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani… The treatment has left him feeling isolated and more open to cooperating… Asked by reporters Friday if he was worried about Cohen cooperating, Trump said, “I did nothing wrong, nothing wrong.” He also said he hasn’t spoken with Cohen “in a long time,” adding, “I always liked Michael and he’s a good person.” [CNN]

2018 WATCH — That Bernie Sanders CIA Guy Running for Congress From Woodstock — by Armin Rosen: “[Jeff] Beals moved over to the State Department in 2002. A fluent Arabic speaker—something that would make him a rarity in all of American electoral politics—he was the political officer in the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem in charge of keeping tabs on the Palestinian political scene from 2002 to 2004… Beals wouldn’t speak in much detail about what policies he would advocate in Congress—he passed on endorsing or opposing cuts to military aid to Israel, for instance. But he believes peace is possible… Beals is married to a Palestinian woman from Nazareth he met when he was based in Jerusalem, and has two young children. He is, perhaps, one of the only people to spend their formative years in the Israeli-Palestinian cauldron and come out of it feeling better about the human race… While still in his early 20s, he traveled through central Europe to write a book about his family’s Holocaust history.” [Tablet]

Maloney all smiles with diplomat who likened drug war to ‘Final Solution’ — by Carl Campanile: “Rep. Carolyn Maloney… posted a photo on Facebook of her schmoozing at the recent Philippine Independence Day parade with the Philippine’s Representative to the UN, Teodoro Locsin… Locsin caused a stir when he tweeted: “I believe that the Drug Menace is so big it needs a FINAL SOLUTION like the Nazis adopted.” [NYPost]

Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families — by Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday used a Bible verse to defend his department’s policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border from Mexico, suggesting that God supports the government in separating immigrant parents from their children. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind…”[WashPost]

— A day after hosting Jeff Sessions at the Orthodox Union annual mission to DC, OU President Moishe Bane released a statementcriticizing the Trump Administration’s border enforcement policies: “As an Orthodox Jewish organization whose values are anchored in those of the Torah and Jewish history, we are deeply concerned about any steps taken that affect families and the parent/child relationship. The family is viewed by the Torah as a sacred institution and fundamental building block of society… Thus, we believe that immigration, asylum and border security policies must also be fashioned and implemented in a manner that takes all steps possible to keep parents and children united.”

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Facebook policy and communications head Elliot Schrage will step down after a decade [Recode] • Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp has hired Subject Matter to lobby on “issues related to opioids.”[PoliticoInfluence• Naty Saidoff to Buy Shari Arison’s Company for $310m [Haaretz] • Glencore Tests U.S. Sanctions Resolve With Dan Gertler Payments [Bloomberg] • CEO of Restoration Hardware Gary Friedman was inspired by Warren Buffett during the home design giant’s turnaround [CNBC] • Gary Vaynerchuk is launching a new men’s media brand about the collision of entrepreneurship and pop culture [BusinessInsider]

MEDIA WATCH — Will AT&T Be Able to Handle HBO? — by John Koblin: “Will these telecommunications executives be able to put up with the producers, directors and stars whose work gave the network 29 Emmys last year? And on the personal level, how will the relationship go between Richard Plepler, the smooth-talking, perpetually tanned chief executive of HBO, and the man who would be his new boss, Randall Stephenson, a former national chairman of the Boy Scouts of America? The two executives seem as different from each other as the companies they run.” [NYTimes]

Top suitors vying for former Time magazines — by Keith Kelly: “Ari Emanuel’s William Morris Endeavor is said to be in the game to buy Sports Illustrated, one of four former Time Inc. titles that the current owner Meredith is auctioning off. Mark Shapiro, WME president and a onetime executive vice president and programming director at ESPN, is said to be driving the deal…”[NYPost]

Facebook’s New Political Algorithms Increase Tension With Publishers — by Ben Sisario: “Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The New York Times Company, accused Facebook of unintentionally “supporting the enemies of quality journalism” by using algorithms that can mischaracterize news as partisan political content. Mr. Thompson was speaking at a panel discussion in New York, which also included Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships… Ms. Brown cited the importance of safeguarding elections and said the problems with political ads were “something we are deeply concerned about. We hear you.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — Nationals owner Ted Lerner, 92, to cede control of club to his son, Mark — by Barry Svrluga: “Ted Lerner, the Washington real estate magnate who became the owner of the Washington Nationals a dozen years ago, will cede control of the club to his son, Mark… The move was approved unanimously by baseball’s 29 other owners, who were meeting this week at the league’s offices in New York… Since the Lerners bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million in 2006, there had been no clear path of succession should Ted Lerner, now 92, step aside… Though Mark Lerner said his father would still have input, the family is preparing for a full transition.” [WashPost]

A Literal U.S.-Canada Trade War Over Herring — by David Singerman: “Today, America and Canada fight over dairy and aluminum. In the late 19th century, they fought over frozen herring—and these trade wars meant real violence… In December 1877, the first of more than two dozen Gloucester ships had arrived in Fortune Bay, in the island’s southeast. But the herring kept the fleet waiting: By Saturday, January 5th, there were still no fish in the bay. On the 6th, the herring appeared at last, and the Americans, eager to bring the first cargoes back to New England, began to lay their seines. Witnesses on board the ships testified later that over two hundred Newfoundlanders “gathered on the beach and demanded that the seines be taken up, giving a pretext that it was unlawful to fish on the Sabbath.” This crowd then began, the Gloucester shipowner John Pew attested in a petition to the Treasury, “a war-like demonstration.” They overpowered the crews, tore up Pew’s seines, and liberated all the herring.” [TheAtlantic] • The Atlantic’s David Graham tweets: YUM! KIPPER WAR

“My Wife Hated the Idea of Marriage, But That Didn’t Stop Her from Proposing to Me” — by Dan Schwerin, former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton: “Growing up as the daughter of a right-wing rabbi in an Orthodox Jewish community in Southern California, YJ (short for Yael Julie) had chafed at the expectation that a woman’s highest ambition should be to get married as soon as possible and immediately start having babies. When her high school friends found husbands at age seventeen and applied to small Jewish colleges, she charted a different path. Her resistance never faded. In her mid-30s, a fully secular Ivy League–educated lawyer and State Department diplomat, she still felt a fierce need to assert her independence. She even hated going to weddings. The idea of having her own was out of the question.” [Vogue]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried turns 94… British billionaire, knighted in 1989, Baron David Alliance turns 86… Co-founder with his father and brothers in 1961 of Canadian radio and television conglomerate Astral Media, he was president and CEO from 1996 until its $3.3 billion sale to Bell Canada in 2013, Ian Greenberg turns 76… Gerald S. Adler turns 76… Former president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, Stuart C. Turgel turns 70… Former president of the National Rifle Association (2005-2007) where she has served on the board since 1992, Sandra S. (Sandy) Froman turns 69… Billionaire, vice president of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, he has rebuilt a synagogue and a community center in Estonia, Alexander Bronstein Ph.D. turns 64… President and CEO of the public relations firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman turns 64… Born and educated in NYC, he moved to Warsaw in 2000 and became Chief Rabbi of Poland in 2004, Rabbi Michael Schudrich turns 63… Rabbi of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield, NJ, Yaakov Neuburger turns 63… Beverly Hills-based attorney at Harder LLP specializing in entertainment, intellectual property and litigation, he is a former board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams turns 51… Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy managing editor at The New York Times where he manages the NYT’s digital platforms, Clifford J. Levy turns 51… CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash (born Dana Ruth Schwartz) turns 47… News and finance reporter at both CNN and CBS simultaneously, Bianna Golodrygaturns 40… Former director of speechwriting for Hillary Clinton, he was also the principal collaborator on HRC’s two memoirs (published in 2014 and 2017), Daniel Baum Schwerin turns 36… NYC-based public affairs manager for DC and regional communications at Google, Rebecca Michelle Ginsberg Rutkoff turns 33 (h/t Playbook)… Director of American Values at the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Joel Winton… Director of Board Relations at Birthright Israel Foundation, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani… Digital journalist and producer for ABC News, daughter of Max Weinberg (longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), Ali S. Weinberg Rogin… Elli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter

SATURDAY: Former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, Elaine Bloom turns 81… Former Mayor of Portland, Governor of Oregon and later a member of Jimmy Carter’s cabinet, Neil Goldschmidt turns 78… Brigadier-General (retired) in the IDF, then a member of Knesset (1992-1999), since 2007 he is chairman of Ha’aguda Lema’an Hachayal, a non-profit IDF veterans group, Avigdor Kahalani turns 74… Chairman of AG International Law, Allan Gerson turns 73… Graduate and later Dean of Yeshiva College, US ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) for President Bill Clinton, and US ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) for President George W Bush, Daniel C. Kurtzer turns 69… Rickey Wolosky Palkovitzturns 69… Chief investigative correspondent at Yahoo! News, Michael Isikoffturns 66… Overland Park, KS resident, Matthew Elyachar turns 58… Managing director and founder in 2008 of NYC-based Marathon Strategies, Philip Keith (“Phil”) Singer turns 43… Israeli investigative journalist, Ronen Bergman turns 46…

SUNDAY: Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs in the Carter administration, now a UN Special Representative, Matthew Nimetzturns 79… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to retired Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin, George Akerlof turns 78… Elected in 2015 as a member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi turns 68… Commissioner and then Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (2004-2013), now a partner at the law firm of Davis Polk, Jonathan David (“Jon”) Leibowitzturns 60… Fashion designer, daughter of Reva Schapira, Tory Burch turns 52… Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen (born Genack) turns 51… Principal in the Chicago office of Civitas Public Affairs Group, David Elliot Horwich turns 42… VP for the Economic Program at Third Way, Gabriel Aron (“Gabe”) Horwitz turns 42… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, David Eric Feinman turns 39… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, NJ, Rabbi Michael Bleicher turns 34… College football reporter for The All-American, Nicole Auerbach turns 29… Member of the United States Ski Team’s alpine skiing program, Jared Goldberg turns 27… Shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Scott Burcham turns 25… Editor-in-Chief for the international news channel i24News bureau in Washington, Mounira Al Hmoud… Michael Warner… Michael Freund




Daily Kickoff: Sessions upset with Kushner’s pardon push | WeWork raising again | CNN’s Jeff Zucker extended through 2020 | UJA honors Troy Carter

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SPOTLIGHT: “Madoff Trustee Reaches $280 Million Accord With Merkin Funds” by Erik Larson: “Almost a decade after Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme collapsed, the trustee unwinding his fraud struck another settlement with one of the con man’s earliest investors — a $280 million deal with the hedge-fund operator and philanthropist J. Ezra Merkin. The accord, announced Wednesday, allows the 65-year-old Merkin to avoid what would have been the first major trial in a lawsuit by the trustee since the unraveling of Madoff’s fraud in 2008 wiped out $17.5 billion in principal for thousands of investors.”

“Yeshiva University, a modern Orthodox Jewish institution, invested with Madoff through Merkin and lost about $100 million. Madoff and Merkin both sat on the school’s board… Merkin has said he was simply another a victim of a sophisticated scam. Under the agreement terms, the Merkin entities, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in Madoff’s firm, will get a belated claim in the bankruptcy case… But the deal requires Merkin to use those funds to finance his settlement and to distribute the remaining money to Ascot investors who are ineligible to get money from the trustee because they weren’t direct Madoff customers.” [BloombergWSJ]

DEEP DIVE — How the King of New York Kosher Restaurants Helped Qatar Win Over American Jewish Leaders — by Hannah Dreyfus and Dan Friedman: “In the fall of 2017… [Joseph] Allaham approached Dershowitz… at a Sabbath service at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan to invite him to Qatar… Last month, Muzin filed a report with the Justice Department noting that the Qatari embassy had paid his firm $204,000 in December 2017 and January 2018 for “travel reimbursement.” … Dershowitz returned to Qatar in early March 2018 to present a lecture on the law and the media at the Northwestern University Qatar campus. The speech was sponsored by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, an organization controlled by the family of Qatar’s emir… In an interview with Mother Jones, Dershowitz would not say if he was paid for the lecture. Dershowitz says his airfare was covered, but “I have no idea who paid.”

“Malcolm Hoenlein visited Qatar in December on an Allaham-arranged trip. He says he was there for one day and met Emir al-Thani. He also met separately with other officials, including the head of Al Jazeera… Allaham has known Hoenlein since at least 2010, when he helped arrange a meeting between Hoenlein and Syrian President Bashar Assad. Last year, Allaham attended Hoenlein’s daughter’s wedding. As his guest, Allaham brought a younger brother of Qatar’s emir. Hoenlein says this member of the Qatari ruling family did not give his daughter a gift.” [MotherJones]

— Qatar’s Efforts to Influence American Jews Continue to Unravel — by Armin Rosen: “In the statement… sent to Tablet, Allaham claims as much: “The Broidy case and ending my work for Qatar are not related. I had planned for a while on announcing my resignation this Friday. The Broidy case sped up faster than a lot of people thought, so it’s a coincidence the two things are happening in the same week.” But it’s just as possible that there are more revelations on tap about Allaham’s work with Qatar—and about Muzin’s. For instance, phone records revealed during the discovery process showed over 1,000  calls between Allaham and [Mort] Klein’s numbers during a year-long period ending in mid-May; phone records also show 36 calls between Muzin’s number and Klein’s home phone number, along with roughly 100 calls and texts between the two men’s cell phones over a 9-month period ending in May.”[Tablet]

WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURES — Kris Bauman, who was President Trump’s point person on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the National Security Council, is leaving the White House on Friday, Politico Playbook reportedyesterday, citing to two sources familiar with the move. Bauman was General (Ret.) John R. Allen’s Chief of Staff when Allen served in the Obama administration as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense on Middle East Security. He joined the administration in May 2017, replacing Yael Lempert, who left to work at the State Department. ZOA’s Mort Klein opposed his appointment, labeling him pro-Hamas.

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Mideast peace plan won’t have pro-Israel bias, U.S. officials say — by Barak Ravid: “Senior U.S. officials involved in drafting President Trump’s Middle East peace plan pushed back on claims from Palestinian leadership… that the plan will be biased in favor of Israel. One official told me… “If we wanted to draft a ‘Bibi plan’ that is not fair, balanced, realistic and appropriate we could have done that 17 months ago. I don’t think characterizing it as a ‘Bibi plan’ is a fair characterization of our plan. There will be parts of the plan both sides are going to not like.” … One senior official told me: “Look what happened two days ago in North Korea. Things change and we have long term view of this.” [Axios

— Top U.S. Officials: Peace Plan Will Be Basis for Talks, Not ‘Take It or Leave It’ Document — by Amir Tibon: “The current administration is considering making its peace plan available to the public, but only after its final version is shared with the leaders in the region. “We want the public to know what is in it, at the right time, because the public needs to support it, not just the leaders,” said one official.”

“When asked if it is possible that following his summit with Kim [Jong Un], Trump will lose interest in an Israeli-Palestinian deal since he no longer needs a foreign policy achievement to present to the American public, one official used a metaphor from Trump’s real estate career to explain why he’s convinced that that’s not going to happen. “The president built Trump Tower, and then what did he do after that? He went and he built another five Trump Towers,” the official said. “He didn’t just stop with one.” [Haaretz

Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman addressed an Orthodox Union delegation at the White House but, according to two sources, warned the group at the outset not to ask them about the peace plan. [Pic]

Vice President Pence spoke to the Southern Baptist Convention — recap by Julie Zauzmer: “Pence drew the most sustained ovations when he mentioned the Trump administration’s action of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and when he described Trump as “the most pro-life president in American history,” two extremely popular issues among evangelicals.” [WashPostVideo]  

Chemi Shalev writes… “The Secret of Israel’s Trumpmania? He’s One of Our Own: The U.S. President speaks the blunt “dugri” that Israelis cherish. He abhors convention, thrives on provocations, detests political correctness, ignores human rights, mocks liberals and leftists, torments immigrants and trashes the media on a daily basis. Even the fact that he has isolated America in the Western world speaks in his favor: Welcome to the club, Israelis would say.” [Haaretz]

TURTLE BAY — UN Assembly blames Israel for Gaza violence, but not Hamas — by Edith Lederer: “The U.N. General Assembly approved a Palestinian-backed resolution Wednesday blaming Israel for violence in Gaza after narrowly rejecting a U.S. demand to add a condemnation of attacks on Israel by Gaza’s Hamas rulers… The U.S. motion was approved on 62-58 vote, with 42 abstentions. But General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak declared that under an assembly rule, a two-thirds majority was needed so the amendment failed. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley appealed, citing another rule that says only a majority vote was required. After a short break, Lajcak then put the U.S. appeal to a vote. The U.S. narrowly lost that vote 66-73 with 26 abstentions. Finally, the assembly voted on the original Palestinian-backed resolution, approving it 120-8 with 45 abstentions.” [AP]

— “Loud applause greeted the outcome of the vote posted on a digital board in the cavernous General Assembly chamber.” [NYTimes]

Robert Satloff tweets“Silver lining in ⁦UN⁩ vote critiquing Israel: 62 countries, a plurality, voted with USG on amendment to condemn Hamas. Small but important step in right direction.”

INSIDE THE ADMIN — The Silence of John Bolton — by Rosie Gray: “The secretary of state is supposed to be the nation’s chief diplomat and top foreign-policy adviser to the President,” former Bush administration national-security official Elliott Abrams said in an email. “This is what people like Kissinger, Jim Baker, George Shultz, and Condi Rice were and what it seems Pompeo is now. The system works best this way, with the national-security adviser an inside player making sure that all relevant perspectives get to the president and that his decisions are implemented. Bolton appears to be playing exactly that role, to the surprise of some of his critics. If we now enter long and complex negotiations with NK over denuclearization, several agencies (State, DOD, CIA, DIA, and more) will have to be involved and that coordinating job is why we have an NSC. So it seems to me so far so good for Bolton.” [TheAtlantic]

JARED INSIDER — Sessions Fumes as Kushner Pushes Pardons — by Gabriel Sherman: “[Jared] Kushner’s absence from the G7 and Singapore summits is being discussed and parsed by Trump advisers. “He’s staying out of everything,” one administration official told me… Talk of Kushner returning to New York has quieted. “Jared is winning,” a former West Wing staffer said. But instead of trying to fix problems around the globe, Kushner has refocused on a much narrower agenda… aggressively lobbying his father-in-law to pardon more people. It’s part of Kushner’s strategy to repair his reputational damage with liberals.”

“In recent months, Kushner has cultivated a close relationship with CNN host and criminal-justice reform advocate Van Jones. “Jared is obsessed with Van,” one Trump adviser said. Kushner invited Jones to the White House multiple times and the two communicate frequently… The Kushner-Jones alliance has infuriated some Republican members of the administration, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “He hate, hate, hates it,” a person close to Sessions said…. Sources say Trump may even like that Sessions is outraged because Trump is looking for anything that will get Sessions to quit.” [VanityFair]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Sessions backs Supreme Court decision in favor of Christian baker — by Candice Norwood: “Speaking at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s annual Leadership Mission in Washington, Attorney General Jeff Sessions characterized an increasingly hostile environment for people with religious convictions. He then commended the Supreme Court’s decision to support Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. “There is no need for the power of government — no need for the state’s power — to be arrayed against an individual who is honestly attempting to live out — to freely exercise — his sincere religious beliefs,” Sessions told the gathering of the Advocacy Center… During his address on Wednesday, he announced… the Justice Department had filed a lawsuit against Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, for violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act [by preventing] an Orthodox Jewish congregation from expanding into a larger synagogue.” [Politico] • Watch the speech [CSPAN]

PIC: The OU’s Nathan Diament presented Sessions with a plaque from Deuteronomy 16:20: “Justice, Justice shall you pursue.” [Pic]

— OU President Mark Bane explained the verse: “Why does it repeat ‘Justice’ twice? Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (in Poland) offered the following comment. The Bible repeats the word ‘Justice’ twice to teach us that, of course, we must pursue justice but not only must we pursue justice to its end but we must pursue it through a just means… Our prayer to you is that God will bless you and your colleagues at the department with the wisdom to serve America through the pursuit of justice and through the means of justice.”[Video

Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the group at a luncheon on Capitol Hill that he’s proud the Taylor Force Act passed [Pic]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN DC: The Simon Wiesenthal Center hosted a private screening for their new documentary film on Shimon Peres, Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres, at the Kennedy Center. The two hour film, narrated by George Clooney, features interviews with three former Presidents. Last night’s event was chaired by Norm Brownstein and Howard Friedman. [Pic]

Attendees included Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Rep. Ken Buck, Rep. Jim Himes, Rep. Bobby Rush, Larry Mizel, Dawn Arnall, Chemi Peres, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Rabbi Meyer May, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Marvin Feuer, Avi Jorisch, Tara Brown, Ari Mittleman, Alex Friedman, Amy Rotenberg, Mark Rotenberg, Rabbi Stewart Weinblatt, Simcha Weinblatt, Ezra Friedlander, Corey Meyer, Logan Tessler.

TOP TALKER — Michael Cohen, Trump’s Fixer, Parting With Lawyers as Federal — by Alan Feuer, William Rashbaum and Maggie Haberman: “Prosecutors conducting the inquiry have not yet approached Mr. Cohen to seek his cooperation… But as the investigation continues, and with Mr. Cohen’s legal team in flux, the pressure on him to cooperate with the government may well intensify… The dispute between Mr. Cohen and his lawyers involves the payment of his legal bills, part of which are being financed by the Trump family.”

“One person with knowledge of the legal staffing change said Mr. Trump’s camp was “very displeased” with the way the Cohen investigation had so far been conducted… But the president has also indicated to allies that he is worried that if he pushes Mr. Cohen away too hard, it could increase the likelihood that Mr. Cohen will offer information to the government.” [NYTimesWSJ

2018 WATCH — How Corey Stewart Could Endanger Other Virginia Republicans — by Michael Tackett and Trip Gabriel: “The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s campaign arm, said it would not support Mr. Stewart, who lags far behind Mr. Kaine in fund-raising and has a history of cozying up to white supremacists and anti-Semites… The real worry for national Republicans — and the hope for Democrats — is that Mr. Stewart’s nomination may cost some incumbent Republicans in Virginia their seats in Congress.” [NYTimes] • GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward disavows anti-Semite Paul Nehlen [CNN

Rep. Steve King retweeted a neo-Nazi, and doesn’t seem sorry about it — by Zack Beauchamp: “On Monday, Iowa Rep. Steve King made headlines for retweeting a British neo-Nazi, Mark Collett… It’s been more than a day now and King has neither deleted his tweet nor apologized for signal-boosting an anti-Semite.” [Vox]

Trump’s departed — sometimes disgraced — staff hit the campaign trail — by Anita Kumar And Katie Glueck: “[Sebastian] Gorka… is slated to rally and raise money with [Sean] Spicer on behalf of Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York on June 28. “I will support anyone who is a fighter, fed up with the domination of RINOs, and who wants to Make America Great Again,” Gorka said in an email.” [McClatchyDC]

** 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: WeWork Is Raising Funds at $35 Billion Valuation, SoftBank Executive Says [Bloomberg] • Ivan Glasenberg’s Glencore writes off $7 billion of debt to end legal battle in Congo[SydneyMorningHerald] • Two Cybersecurity Companies with Links to Israel Placed on U.S. Blacklist [Calcalist] • Real estate mogul Sam Zell made another offensive comment about women recently, source says [Politico] • Brad Pitt’s Israeli MIT crush still going strong with billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman [NYPost]

MEDIA WATCH — Jeff Zucker Renews at CNN Through the 2020 Election — by Joe Pompeo: “I’ve learned that the veteran broadcast executive, who has served as president of Time Warner’s cable news channel since 2013, signed a new deal several months ago that will keep him at CNN through the 2020 election… Zucker’s future at CNN has been one of the biggest question marks hanging over journalists at the network ever since they began bracing for life under AT&T many months ago.” [VanityFair] • AT&T’s Time Warner Prize—A Load of Hollywood Headaches [WSJ]

REPORT: “As the world pays tribute to Anthony Bourdain days after his death, the culinary star was cremated in France on Wednesday, a source tells PEOPLE. His ashes will be flown back to the United States on Friday, the source adds.” [PeopleMag]

My Dinner With Drake — by Amos Barshad: “It was for Heeb magazine, a spiky publication that imagined itself as the home for discerning, self-effacing Jewish hipsters… The ensuing reader comments were appropriately on-brand for the Heeb readership. Like: “I really do hope he follows his mom’s desire and marries a nice Jewish girl—and I really hope that girl is me!” and “I’m a Black Jewish Canadian mom with a beautiful son of my own. Drake’s story is a 1-in-a-billion fairytale. If he continues to be proud of who he is, the success will always follow.” We know now how the story goes. He did not marry that one Jewish girl. But he did succeed and succeed and succeed until—at some point, maybe around a half-a-decade ago—he became totemic.” [Pitchfork

Spotify’s Troy Carter Receives UJA Music Visionary Award, Minus Fellow Honoree Daniel Ek — by Jem Aswad: “If there’s one single event in the music industry year besides the Grammys that draws more top-flight executives than any other, it’s the United Jewish Appeal’s luncheon, which raises money for the organization and honors a different executive or executives with its Music Visionary of the Year accolade. This year, the honorees were Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Troy Carter… Musical entertainment was provided by R&B singer H.E.R. and Grammy-nominee Leon Bridges, and NBA legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving and iconic soul singer Patti LaBelle — both of whom have known Carter since his childhood in Philadelphia — paid homage to him.”[Variety]

What’s So Funny About Orthodox Judaism? This Comic Has One Answer — by Jason Zinoman: “At the Theater Center in Times Square… a slickly funny stand-up show, “Strictly Unorthodox,” presents a more culturally marginal Jewish perspective. An ultra-Orthodox Jew from England, Ashley Blaker has built an act about the rituals of an insular, deeply traditional community that treats much of modern culture and society with suspicion… This is pitched to a mainstream audience, but his live set also caters to an observant Jewish audience, and appealing to both is the challenge of his show. Mr. Blaker, a producer at the BBC whose credits include “Little Britain,” jokes that he might be the only person who works in television who doesn’t own one… He does not perform during the Sabbath, and in an effort to accommodate religious audiences who do not want to sit next to a member of the opposite sex, some of his performances feature seating segregated by gender.” [NYTimes]

TOP PICS — John Mulaney, a stand-up comedian and a writer on Saturday Night Live, shared a picture of Benjamin Netanyahu working out at the hotel gym while in Paris last week [Pic

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted AIPAC Board Chair Lillian Pinkus and a leadership delegation in Berlin this week [Pic

HEARD YESTERDAY — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Magen David Yeshivah in Brooklyn, New York: “New York is proud of its relationship with the Jewish community. We celebrate our relationship with the Jewish community… And we stand shoulder to shoulder with the state of Israel always and forever. And whenever there’s a question of, who is the ally to Israel? New York will stand up and say, it starts with us.” [Video]

At the event, hosted by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, Cuomo announced a $5.8 million award for nonprofit schools, daycare centers and cultural museums in Brooklyn through the state’s new $25 million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program. Cuomo called the OU’s Allen Fagin a ‘mensch’ and joked, “In Italian, we would call Allen a mensch. He is, yes, it was Italian first, a mensch.” He also poked fun at his younger brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, at an earlier event at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway in Long Island: “I have three sisters, two of three sisters married Jewish men. One married an Irish man. None married an Italian. I don’t know why none of my sisters married an Italian. I have a theory, because I have a younger brother named Chris, who I think was not a good role model as an Italian.”

Cuomo tells Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh: “I am one hundred percent supportive of the Jewish community. I always have been and I always will be. My father [Mario Cuomo] was before me. As governor, I have been a stronger supporter of Israel than any governor in the history of the State of New York. I don’t want to get into a competition with my father on who is a stronger supporter of Israel, but I will take a tie with my father, and that will never change.”

DESSERT — Smokey Joe’s Joins Expanding Array of Kosher Foods at ShopRite — by Bracha Schwartz: “Joe Godin was back in his element, serving samples of his special cornbread and onion jam at the new and expanded kosher food section of ShopRite in Englewood on Sunday, June 11. Since his restaurant Smokey Joe’s in Teaneck closed in 2016, Godin has focused on his catering business. Now he’s branching out with a line of packaged fresh products exclusively for ShopRite.” [NJJewishLink]

BIRTHDAYS: 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump turns 72… Civil rights activist with the NAACP in the US and for Peace Now when she lived in Ashkelon (1972-1983), June Shagaloff Alexander turns 90… Retired Soviet nuclear scientist, now writing from Skokie on Jewish intellectual spirituality, Vladimir Minkov Ph.D. turns 85… Member of Knesset (1988-2003) and twice Israel’s Minister of Finance, Mayor of Arad for twenty years and son-in-law of former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol, Avraham (“Beiga”) Shochat turns 82… Senior Vice President for Synagogue and Rabbinic Initiatives at the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Dr. Beryl Geber turns 81… Former French UN Ambassador (2000-2002), French Ambassador to the USA (2002-2007), then diplomatic advisor to former French Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy (2007-2012), Jean-David Levitte turns 72… Writer, critic, philosopher and magazine editor, Leon Wieseltier turns 66… Russian-born billionaire and philanthropist, now a UK resident, Leonard “Len” Blavatnik turns 61…

Principal at M+R Strategic Services, a consulting firm for non-profits with 130 employees, William Benjamin (“Bill”) Wasserman turns 59… Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, previously an Emmy Award-winning television news anchor on NBC (2003-2007) and CNN (2008-2010), Campbell Brown turns 50… Global communications executive at Nike, previously an official at USAID, Daniel M. Gaynor turns 37… NYC-based businessman, living in the US since 2003, he is the son of Russian oligarch and former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Pavel Khodorkovsky turns 33… New Leadership Network Director at AIPAC, Lilly Rapson turns 27… Freelance writer specializing in European and Israeli politics, Liam Hoare… Joanna Lerner… Julia Cohen, a reporting fellow at the Daily Caller News Foundation… Dan Schwerin, former director of speechwriting for Hillary Clinton (h/ts Playbook)…




Daily Kickoff: Kushner to tour Middle East next week | Will Trump’s base allow him to force concessions from Bibi? | What Dr. Ruth told Dr. Kissinger

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TOP TALKER: “A federal judge ruled Tuesday that AT&T can proceed with its blockbuster acquisition of Time Warner without any conditions, marking a historic defeat for the Justice Department that could rewrite the media landscape and set the stage for other deals.” [WSJ]

Gary Ginsberg, Time Warner’s executive vice president, said in a statement that U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s “resounding rejection of the government’s arguments is confirmation that this was a case that was baseless, political in its motivation and should never have been brought in the first place.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Whether it was or not, the case always felt political. The Justice Department’s attempt to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner never made sense on the merits of the case… The calculus for companies considering mergers — or any decision — shouldn’t be whether they think a president will seek to block or approve it on a whim.”

“Trump’s immediate praise of the Walt Disney Company’s proposed acquisition of a big chunk of 21st Century Fox — which is owned by his pal Rupert Murdoch — only added to the sense that he is the one pulling the regulatory strings. If Makan Delrahim’s reasons for seeking to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal were genuine, Mr. Trump’s behavior only undermined the credibility of his own people.” [DealBook]

WHAT’S NEXT: AT&T plans to close its purchase of Time Warner no later than June 20th [Reuters]

“Ahead of an official rollout planned for next week, John Stankey, a veteran AT&T executive chosen to oversee the newly acquired Time Warner assets, is supposed to have individual conversations with the heads of HBO (Richard Plepler), Warner Bros. (Kevin Tsujihara), and Turner Broadcasting (John Martin) in the coming days, people familiar with the plans told me. Plepler and Tsujihara aren’t expected to be going anywhere (“All signs point to them staying,” one source told me), but Martin is more of a wild card, and many within the company expect that he will leave one way or another.” [VanityFair]

JEFF ZUCKER’S FUTURE? — Alan Murray writes: “I suspect the president’s non-stop criticism of CNN will make it impossible for AT&T to make major changes at the network, for fear of being seen as bowing to White House pressure. CNN President Jeff Zucker, ironically, may have the president to thank for his continued employment.” [Fortune]

FIRST LOOK — Who Is Behind Trump’s Links to Arab Princes? A Billionaire Friend — by David Kirkpatrick: “Confusion about your friend Donald Trump is VERY high,” Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates emailed back when [Tom] Barrack tried to introduce the candidate… Mr. Trump’s image, the ambassador warned, “has many people extremely worried.”Mr. Barrack’s email correspondence with Ambassador Otaiba… was provided to The New York Times by an anonymous group critical of Emirati foreign policy, and it illustrates the formative role Mr. Barrack played as a matchmaker between Mr. Trump and the Persian Gulf princes.”

“A month after his first outreach to Ambassador Otaiba, Mr. Barrack wrote again on May 26 to introduce Mr. Kushner, who was preparing for a role as a presidential envoy to the Middle East. “You will love him and he agrees with our agenda!” Mr. Barrack promised in another email… Mr. Barrack’s efforts began to pay off. Mr. Kushner met Ambassador Otaiba in May 2016… When Mr. Trump won in November, Ambassador Otaiba was eager to pull Mr. Barrack even closer… “Thanks to you, I’m in consistent contact with Jared and that has been extremely helpful, for both sides I think,” Ambassador Otaiba wrote Mr. Barrack. They celebrated again in May 2017, when Mr. Trump made his first foreign trip as president, to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia… “It all started with you and JK and I so congratulations on a great beginning,” Mr. Barrack wrote to Ambassador Otaiba.” [NYTimes]

REAL DONALD TRUMP TO REAL MAHMOUD ABBAS — Adam Entous, author of the recent New Yorker story, How Trump, Israel And The Gulf States Plan To Fight Iran, shared a photo this morning of Trump’s note to Mahmoud Abbas, written over a copy of Michael Goodwin’s op-ed ‘Abbas’ Jew hatred exposed.’ Trump wrote, “Mahmoud, Wow – This is the real you? Best Wishes, Donald J. Trump.” [Pic]

— HEARD ON NPR’S MORNING EDITION — Steve Inskeep: So Netanyahu wants to be closer with Arab nations – with U.S. help, and that’s working out for him. Netanyahu wanted the U.S. out of the Iran deal and more confrontation with Iran, that’s working out for him. Netanyahu wanted pressure put on the Palestinians to accept a lesser deal, that’s working out for him. But is it still possible that he’ll be asked to pay a price by President Trump, that one day President Trump will say, ‘Now I need you to make some real concessions to the Palestinians because I actually do want an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal?’

Entous: “I think that’s something that makes Bibi nervous, according to officials that we spoke to for the story. He’s worried that because of Trump’s popularity in Israel, because of the things that he’s done, such as moving the embassy to Jerusalem, it is going to be very difficult for Netanyahu to say no to Trump, if and when he comes and asks for concessions. But I think one needs to look also at Trump from the perspective that he’s going to be seeking at some point, probably, reelection, and in order to be reelected his base of support are Evangelicals Christians in the U.S. and Orthodox Jews. The issue is, is he willing to upset his domestic base that potentially Bibi is unable to accept, and that certainly strong hawks that support Israel in the U.S. will see, potentially, as a betrayal of commitments that they believe Trump made and why they supported him in the first place to become president.” [NPR]

ROAD TO PEACE — Kushner to visit Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for peace plan talks — by Barak Ravid: ”Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, will travel to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia next week to discuss the next stages of the peace effort and the crisis in Gaza… Kushner and Greenblatt want to discuss lingering questions they have as they finish drafting the peace plan, including the optimal time for launching it.”

Trump admin official: “The peace team didn’t ask for a meeting [with the Palestinians] for this trip. The Palestinian leadership will know Kushner and Greenblatt are in the region and if the Palestinian leadership wants to meet, Kushner and Greenblatt are ready to meet.”

WHERE’S FRIEDMAN? “U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is visiting Washington this week. The U.S. official stressed that contrary to several press reports, Friedman was not summoned to Washington to talk about the peace plan but was there for regular meetings. “Ambassador Friedman wanted to catch up with Kushner and Greenblatt before they head to the region”, the U.S. official said.” [Axios

JARED INSIDER — Kushner’s 2017 Apartment Deal Shows Turn Toward Israeli Firms — by Caleb Melby and  David Kocieniewski: “A line of credit Kushner and his father hold with Israel Discount Bank jumped to as much as $25 million during the past year, from under $5 million in late 2017, his most recent financial disclosure shows… Kushner listed a single property loan as a personal liability — a debt affiliated with Quail Ridge, a New Jersey apartment complex that his family purchased in September. Psagot Investment House, Israel’s largest asset manager, invested alongside the family firm, Kushner Cos.” [Bloomberg]

Gabriel Sherman on what Kushner is up to after regaining top security clearance: “Now, Kushner openly flaunts his status in front of Kelly, having had his clearance restored. According to a Republican in frequent contact with the White House, Kushner recently stood up and walked out of a meeting that Kelly was leading. Kushner has told people that Kelly will be gone by the end of summer, according to a person who’s spoken with him recently. “Jared is strutting around with his balls out,” said the Republican.” [VanityFair]

AT THE UN — Palestinians seek UN vote blaming Israel; US wants changes — by Edith Lederer: “The Palestinians… are hoping an emergency meeting of the U.N. General Assembly… will adopt a resolution deploring what it calls Israel’s “excessive use of force,” particularly in Gaza… Arab and Islamic nations decided to go to the 193-member assembly, where there are no vetoes, following the U.S. veto of virtually the same resolution in the Security Council on June 1.”

“U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley sent a letter to all U.N. member states Tuesday calling the proposed General Assembly resolution “fundamentally imbalanced” for “ignoring basic truths about the situation in Gaza” and not mentioning Hamas. She proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the Gaza-Israel border fence, “thereby putting civilians at risk.” … Haley said the amendment “is not controversial” and simply condemns “behavior we should all recognize as harmful to the Palestinian people.” The letter said the amendment would be voted on before the resolution.” [AP]

PIC OF THE DAY — German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Henry Kissinger in Berlin yesterday.

Dr. Ruth, Dr. Kissinger, and Trump’s Cruelty to Families — by George Packer: “We were guests at a dinner in New York for Angela Merkel… It was the fall of 2015, the height of the migrant crisis in Europe. Germany had announced that it would admit a million refugees, most of them fleeing the civil war in Syria. Merkel had come under heavy criticism for the decision, and, during the soup course, Kissinger—ninety-two years old, eight decades removed from his own experience as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany—let the Chancellor have it. Of course, he said, he could admire the humanitarian impulse to save one person, but a million? That would change “German civilization.” … Merkel listened, in her focused way, and didn’t argue, except to say, “What choice do we have?”

“When Kissinger… finished, Merkel turned to Dr. Ruth [Westheimer], on her left. Did she have anything to add? … She told us the story of the Evian Conference, held on Lake Geneva, in July, 1938, where countries from around the world gathered to debate the plight of Germany’s Jews. In the end, only one country—the Dominican Republic—agreed to take in a substantial number of Jewish refugees… Four months after the failure of Evian, in November, came Kristallnacht… Two months later, in January, 1939, Ruth’s mother placed her on a train with other German Jewish children bound for Switzerland—part of the Kindertransport… “The Evian Conference gave us no help,” Dr. Ruth said. “If not for the Kindertransport, I would not be here today. I hope something more comes from this conversation about the Syrian refugees than came from Evian.” At this point she was looking directly at Kissinger.” [NewYorker]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “The Fracturing of the Jewish People” by William Galston: “Although both American and Israeli Jews believe that they are part of one people, and that they benefit from one another’s strength, they are divided by citizenship. Relying on the idea of shared peoplehood, 53% of American Jews believe that it is appropriate for them to influence Israeli security issues. Speaking as citizens of a sovereign state, 68% of Israelis disagree.” [WSJ]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Iran deal comparisons cloud Trump’s North Korea summit — by Matt Lee: “For Iran deal proponents… the Singapore summit was evidence of Trump’s lack of preparedness and poor negotiating skills. Iran deal opponents, meanwhile, seemed willing to wait and see… Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a Trump advocate and fervent Iran deal foe, urged patience and sought to dispel suggestions that the president had unwisely plunged into a meeting with a dictator after having withdrawn from the accord with Tehran. He noted, as did other Trump allies, that North Korea already had nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them whereas Iran did not.” [AP

Netanyahu hails Trump’s ‘historic’ summit with North Korea — by Dan Williams: “This is an important step in the effort to strip the Korean peninsula of nuclear weaponry,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “President Trump is also taking a firm stance against Iran’s attempt to obtain nuclear weaponry, as well as its belligerence in the Middle East.”[Reuters]

Aaron David Miller writes… “Trump’s hooked on the history books: I saw a similar process in the early 1990s when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat offered then-President Bill Clinton a dance on history’s stage via the Oslo peace process… Before this is done, we’ll likely see Trump, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-In clasping hands ending the Korean war. Judging by Trump’s demeanor… he’s hooked. This historic summit offers him the possibility of a ride into the history books, and he’ll likely fall in love with the process designed to keep it alive.”[CNN]

Eli Lake writes… “Once Trump Saw Kim as a Tyrant. Now He Treats Him Like a Statesman: Trump’s verbiage here is reminiscent of Barack Obama’s 2015 Nowruz message to the Iranian people. Back then Obama said, “My message to you, the people of Iran, is that together we have to speak up for the future that we seek.” Obama knew, when he said this, that the Iranian people had no say in the future of their country’s nuclear program. The only person who did was the supreme leader to whom Obama wrote a series of respectful letters. The same dynamic is at play with Trump and North Korea. Trump must know that most North Koreans despise their dictator.”[BloombergView]

Otto Warmbier’s Parents Praise Trump And Hope ‘Something Positive’ Comes From North Korea Summit: “Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a brief statement… that they appreciated the president’s comments about their son and family… “Hopefully something positive can come from this.”” [Time]

DHS SECRETARY TOURS ‘THE WALL’ — U.S. official eyes Israel’s Egypt border for Mexico wall ideas — by Dan Williams: “U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen inspected Israel’s fenced-off border with Egypt on Tuesday for ideas for the U.S. border with Mexico, where President Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall, Israel Radio reported. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angered Mexico last year by publicly backing Trump’s call and pointing to the towering, sensor-rigged Egyptian border fence as a possible model… “She understood the challenges and opportunities that exist there,” [A U.S.] official said, without elaborating.”[ReutersPic]   

MUELLER WATCH — Insiders Fear Trump Is Lurching from One Nuclear Showdown to Another — by Gabriel Sherman: “Donald is very worried,” said a Republican close to Trump. The difference is that Trump is now more unshackled than at any point in his presidency, meaning that firing [Robert] Mueller or [Rod] Rosenstein remains a possibility. “We’ve entered the era of primal Trump,” one outside adviser told me. Trump allies view the legal cloud hanging over Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as at least as ominous as the obstruction investigation. According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now… “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” a former White House official said. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.” [VanityFair]

Democrats Want To Interview Ivanka Trump In The Russia Probe — by Emma Loop: “Multiple Democrats on the committee leading the congressional investigations into Russian election interference say they want to interview Ivanka Trump… about BuzzFeed News’ reporting that Ivanka Trump connected the weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov, with her father’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who was working on the Trump Tower project, “and what her role might have been in that.” [BuzzFeed]

2018 WATCH — Corey Stewart, Confederate symbols defender, wins GOP nomination in Virginia Senate race — by Eric Bradner: “Corey Stewart, the bombastic conservative who built his public image on championing Confederate symbols, won the Republican Senate nomination in Virginia… He now faces Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, the party’s 2016 vice presidential nominee and a heavy favorite for re-election, in November’s midterm election… [Stewart] attended a news conference with the leader of the white supremacist protest that later resulted in the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville… Stewart blamed the violence on “both sides.”” [CNNRichmondTimesDispatch]

2020 WATCH — Jason Kander to speak at Democratic state convention as activists gear up for general election — by Brianne Pfannenstiel: “Let America Vote founder and potential 2020 presidential candidate Jason Kander will rally Iowa Democrats at their state convention Saturday… Kander… has already traveled to Iowa several times this year.” [DesMoinesRegister]

** 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: Compass CEO Ori Allon announced he is transferring ownership of Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Club to focus on the future growth of his company [CTech] • Blackstone and KKR pursue stake in Swiss sports data group [Reuters• Apollo Confidentially Files to Start Pipeline Buyout Company [Bloomberg• Meredith sets date for final bids for Time, Sports Illustrated [NYPost] • Shareholder Discontent Brews at WPP in Wake of Martin Sorrell [WSJ]

PROFILE — 6 months in, Philly DA Larry Krasner cementing national stature among reform advocates — by Chris Palmer: “Six months into his first term, Krasner has made waves locally by dismissing and shaking up staff, enacting bold new policies, and making headline-grabbing decisions in several high-profile cases… Krasner is also just one of several prosecutors across the country promising reform. Some peers… also received a campaign boost from political organizations tied to billionaire George Soros, whose super PAC contributed $1.5 million to Krasner’s candidacy in 2017.” [Philly]

HAPPENING TODAY — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to keynote the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center annual mission to Washington, DC. Sessions is expected to focus on religious liberty and security for religious schools and synagogues, according to the organizers. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) will speak at the OU’s luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building.

STATE SIDE — The New York State Senate passed a measure yesterday requiring the State Education Department to review specific school districts’ teaching guidelines and issue regulations necessary to ensure school districts are providing history lessons about the Holocaust. The State Education Commissioner would also be required to deliver a report on findings to the Legislature and the Governor so that all stakeholders can better understand statewide school districts’ aptitude for teaching this type of curriculum.

Anne Frank House museum unveils virtual reality tour: “The Amsterdam museum dedicated to Anne Frank’s life launched a virtual reality tour of the cramped quarters where the Jewish diarist and her family hid from Nazis during World War II, marking what would have been her 89th birthday Tuesday. The Anne Frank House said the 25-minute tour means people won’t have to visit the museum to see the annex where the Franks and four other Jews hid from July 1942 until they were discovered in August 1944 and deported to concentration camps.” [AP]

Visiting Jerusalem, Miss Iraq is embraced by Israelis, praised for her bravery: “Iraq’s representative at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant — whose Instagram photo last year with her Israeli counterpart forced her family to flee the Middle Eastern country — was cheered and hugged this week by shoppers at an iconic Jerusalem market during an extraordinary visit to Israel. “It actually felt weird — the people look like my people. And the city looks like Damascus, like Syria, and I’ve been there, so everything seems familiar to me,” Sarah Idan said in a TV item aired Tuesday by Hadashot. While Idan toured the Mahane Yehuda market, she encountered numerous Israelis of Iraqi origin, one of whom told her she would like to go back to Iraq.” [ToIPic]

DESSERT — Queens Deli Ben’s Best Will Close After 73 Years — by Serena Dai: “Rego Park deli Ben’s Best, open for 73 years, will be closing at the end of the month due to a decline in business. Owner Jay Parker, whose father Benjamin opened the deli in 1945, says that people aren’t coming in anymore, blaming new bike lanes that nixed about 200 parking spaces. He’s open to selling it — but he can’t keep it running anymore, he says. The deli is one of the city’s best, known for a dark and rich pastrami, as well as a kreplach soup and rolled beef.” [EaterNYPIX11]

BIRTHDAYS: Engineer and computer scientist, professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock turns 84… London-born, now living in Gstaad, Switzerland, billionaire founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 80… Senior advisor for George Soros’s Open Society Institute, he served in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations, winner of a 1985 MacArthur genius fellowship, Morton Halperin turns 80… Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co. (1983-1997), Chancellor of Brown University (1998 to 2007) and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 78… Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from New York since 1992, Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Nadler turns 71… Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel (2004-2017), he was previously Attorney General of Israel (1997-2004), Elyakim Rubinstein turns 71… Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD turns 63…

National political correspondent for National Public Radio, Mara Liassonturns 63… Co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham “Ben” Horowitz turns 52… Founder and CEO of Overtime, Daniel Porter turns 52… Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, Michael Stern turns 39… Actor, the son of Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving, Max Samuel Spielberg turns 33… Film and television actress, she starred in the CBS sitcom “Two Broke Girls” (2011-2017), Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 32… Founder and CEO of NYC-based ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm, Benjamin H. Weingarten turns 30… Retired football player who fasts on Yom Kippur, he won the 2010 Outland Trophy (as the best collegiate interior lineman), he was a first round NFL draft pick and played for 4 seasons in the NFL (2011-2014), Gabe Carimi turns 30… Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council at the University of Virginia while studying for her Masters in Public Policy, AIPAC intern, Samantha Magnes turns 23…

Kafe Knesset for November 30

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The embassy, again? Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem made it back into the headlines last night. Israel’s Channel 2 reported that officials in Jerusalem…

Kafe Knesset for November 28

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shaming and acceptance: The tension between the Israeli government and segments of US Jewry continues to make headlines, and yesterday Channel 2 sent out a push notification with out…

Kafe Knesset for November 21

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Knesset marked the 40th anniversary today of the historic 1977 speech by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.  The event was, of course, filled with messages of peace,…

Kafe Knesset for November 16

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan: The top-secret White House Middle East peace effort to design the “ultimate deal” and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major discussion topic…

Kafe Knesset for November 14

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Netanyahu and friends: As Bibi’s investigations are expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, we can expect many more leaks of evidence and testimony. Last night, TV channels…

Kafe Knesset for November 9

Thursday, November 9, 2017

After more than six months of investigation, officers from Lahav 433 (the the National Crime Unit of the Israeli Police) are set to meet the Prime Minister again…