Daily Kickoff: Senior Israeli diplomat says the midterm elections ‘are critical for Israel’

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BREAKING THIS AM: The U.S. Secret Service announced Wednesday that it has intercepted two explosive devices sent to the homes of Hillary and Bill Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama. The revelation comes two days after a similar explosive device was found in the mailbox of liberal philanthropist George Soros. CNN’s New York headquarters were also evacuated Wednesday after receiving a suspicious package. The Secret Service has not revealed whether the incidents are related or whether they came from the same source. [AxiosCNN]

There’s Been a George Soros for Every Era of Anti-Semitic Panic — by Spencer Ackerman: “For the far right, from Russia to central Europe and increasingly, America, Soros is the latest Jewish manipulator whose extreme wealth finances puppet groups and publications to drain the prosperity of the Herrenvolk… We may one day look back on this era as the Soros Age of anti-Semitism.” [DailyBeast]

TALK OF THE REGION — Saudi Arabia’s ‘Davos in the Desert’ conference opens under cloud — by Simeon Kerr and Anjli Raval: “The Riyadh investment forum dubbed “Davos in the desert” began under a cloud on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the kingdom was living through “difficult days” following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi… Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman… was greeted with applause when he briefly entered the conference center in the afternoon. But unlike at last year’s event, when he was the unrivaled star of the gathering, Prince Mohammed did not speak and left after about 20 minutes.” [FinancialTimesCNN

— Spotted at the forum: “I’m not doing any media,” said Ken Moelis, the founder and chief executive of Moelis & Company, an investment bank. “It’ll have to be ‘no comment.'” [NYTimes]

Having escaped scrutiny in wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, it’s business as usual for the UAE — by Ryan Grim: “Life goes on as normal for United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, the diplomat who lobbied Washington heavily to support the crown prince’s internal efforts to disrupt the line of ascension and put himself next in line for the throne… Otaiba, according to an invitation obtained by The Intercept, [hosted] a dinner party Tuesday night for former Obama administration Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at his Virginia mansion. The invite identifies Pritzker by her current role as chair of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.” [TheIntercept]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — With MBS and the Khashoggi Murder, Trump Is in a Trap Kushner Helped Build — by Gabriel Sherman: “According to five Republicans briefed on internal White House discussions, Trump is torn between his instincts to fight and punish and the advice he’s receiving from advisers to stick by Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.”

“From the beginning of Trump’s presidency… it was Kushner’s belief—one shared by his father-in-law—that the conflict between Arabs and Israelis was essentially a real-estate problem, a deal to be worked out. “This was Jared’s vision,” one former West Wing official told me. Key to this dealmaking would be the creation of a new strategic alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to counter Iran… Such was Kushner’s confidence that there was West Wing talk about a Nobel Peace Prize for Trump’s work in the region, a former White House official said.” [VanityFair]

Emily Jane Fox reports: “Kushner has communicated with M.B.S. several times over the last week… At the end of [the Citizen by CNN interview], those around Kushner felt like it was a success. He had managed to tout some of his accomplishments while towing the administration’s line on Khashoggi. Afterward, Kushner left the Time Warner Center and headed to more comfortable ground outside the glare of news camera. He sat down with News Corp executive chairman and longtime friend Rupert Murdoch… before taking a flight back to Washington.” [VanityFair]

U.S. Takes Diplomatic Action Against Saudis Believed Tied to Journalist’s Killing — by Peter Nicholas, Courtney McBride and Margherita Stancati: “In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump gave a harsh assessment of Saudi Arabia in light of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, saying he said he was convinced King Salman didn’t know about the killing in advance. Asked about Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s possible involvement, Mr. Trump said: “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.” [WSJ]

HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office: The Saudis “have been a very good ally of ours. They’ve been helping us a lot with respect to Israel. They’ve been funding a lot of things.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Israel expects Macron peace plan if Trump doesn’t release his soon — by Barak Ravid: “Israeli government officials believe French president Emmanuel Macron will propose his own Middle East peace initiative if President Trump doesn’t release his plan in the first few weeks after the November midterm election. Israeli foreign ministry political director Alon Ushpiz made that prediction during a closed-door, classified hearing of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee… Israeli officials and French diplomats told me that in late August, Macron instructed the foreign ministry in Paris to start thinking about ideas for a new diplomatic initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.” [AxiosTV10

“According to Tuesday evening’s TV reports, Ushpiz also told MKs on Monday that Israel expects the Democrats to make gains in next month’s midterm elections, and that this would have mplications for Israel. He reportedly called the midterms “critical” for Israel, and said Israel anticipates the Democrats will make gains in Congress and “things won’t be the same.” [ToI

REPORT — Abbas threatens to end security coordination with Israel: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israeli Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman that if Israel cuts money from the funds the PA pays to terrorists, the Palestinians will end security coordination with Israel… Argaman met Abbas last week in Ramallah… Argaman attempted to walk Abbas back from his positions against Israel.” [JPost]

Palestinian Leaders Are Accused of Using Torture and Arbitrary Arrests to Crush Dissent — by Isabel Kershner: “Human Rights Watch, the New York-based advocacy organization, accused both the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and its rival, Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, of routinely using arbitrary arrest and torture as tools to crush dissent. The systematic practice of torture by the two authorities might amount to a crime against humanity and could be prosecutable at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the report said.” [NYTimes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a conversation with Richard Sandler at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Tel Aviv: “What I am concerned with when it comes to the Jewish people is one thing, and that is the loss of identity… Jewish survival is guaranteed in the Jewish state if we defend our state. But we have to also work at the continuity of Jewish communities in the world by developing Jewish education, the study of Hebrew, having young Jews come to Israel.” [Video]

Netanyahu on the two-state solution: “I said to [former Vice President] Joe Biden and I say this everywhere and I say it publically… Israel and Israel alone will have the security responsibility in the area west of the Jordan Valley. And Joe [Biden] said, ‘But that’s not perfect. That’s not a fully independent state.’ And I said, ‘Okay, it is what it is. You can give it any name you want: state minus; autonomy plus; autonomy plus, plus.’ Sounds like a rating agency or something. But that’s the truth. And this truth is shared much more widely across the political spectrum in Israel than people understand because we’re not going to imperil the life of the state for a label or for a good op-ed for six hours not even in the New York Times.”

Netanyahu on seeing ‘Hamilton’ in New York: “How did I get tickets? Because my cousin’s wife works in the production — that’s how.” [Twitter]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Blaming ‘ultra-Orthodox street,’ Netanyahu defends freezing Western Wall deal” [ToI]

 “U.S. Ambassador David Friedman addressed the GA ahead of the premier’s speech. Saying that while the theme of the assembly was “let’s talk,” Friedman added that it was now his time to talk. Of the rift between U.S. Jewry and Israel, Friedman said, “We in the Diaspora need to give Israel a break.” He also dubbed himself an “unapologetic right-wing defender of Israel. I’m a security hawk.” “Israel is no longer the little brother, Israel is the big brother now. It has the biggest Jewish community,” Friedman said.” [Haaretz]

Alan Abbey, Media Director of the Shalom Hartman Institute, shares his thoughts on attending this year’s GA: “I have been to the last six GA’s, beginning with the previous Israel visit to Jerusalem in 2013. After years of declining enthusiasm, if not numbers, and two years of shock and awe (shock in DC in 2016 in the wake of the Presidential election results, awe in LA in 2017 at how badly things seemed to be going in America), this year’s GA was perkier and zippier than in the past. The North Americans seemed delighted to be in Tel Aviv. Why not? The food was the best it has been in years; an evening with Israeli group-singing phenomenon Koolulam was a blast, and most US political issues were off the table.”

“GA attendees were primed and willing to crack open the difficult nut of Israel-Diaspora Jewry relations. One speaker I heard said that more than sibling rivalry or parent-child disputes, the sessions were most like couples therapy. Much of the talk from the podium – between feel-good videos and music – was at the meta level: lots of talk about talking. But in the hallways and in smaller sessions, real talking, real relationship building, and real emotions occurred. All in all, then, not a bad way to spend a few days.”

Shmuel Rosner writes… “Can a “Talk” Save American Jews? The American leadership… came here feeling that the crisis is because of Israel and its bad behavior. It came here to be reinforced by Israelis who think the same. Most of these Israelis simply dislike the Israeli government and therefore are willing to accept any claim of guilt against it on any matter. The truth of the matter is that this crisis is nothing more than a smokescreen… American Jews struggle with profound challenges. On the way to disengagement, some of them also beat up on Israel. It’s a convenient way to clean the conscience – our challenges are not because of us, they are because of you. Because of Israel. I am sorry to report that Israelis are generally indifferent to these claims, because they don’t face similar challenges. Their identity is stable. Their Judaism is anchored in everyday life.” [JewishJournal

HAPPENING TODAY — Prime Minister Netanyahu — in cooperation with the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation — is hosting the first-ever Prime Minister’s Israeli Innovation Summit at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem. Prominent speakers include Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, Jack Ma, Eric Schmidt, and a number of executives from Google, Facebook and eBay.

On Thursday, Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and the foreign dignitaries will attend the dedication ceremony of the new Peres Center’s Israeli Innovation Center in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

JI INTERVIEW — Chemi Peres, head of the Peres Center of Peace and Innovation, discussed the Center’s work, the legacy of his late father Shimon Peres, and the future of peace in the Middle East in an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh. “The Center is a non-political center. We’re not advocating a two-state solution, or anything else,” Peres said during an interview at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel while on a visit to the U.S. last month. “We want people to come together, to get to know each other, and understand that we can share a better future for all of us. That is the first thing that we do, and continue to do, the work that my father started.”

“In the last three years, we decided to introduce the concept of innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, in order to attract more people to initiate new projects around science, technology and innovation,” he continued. “We believe it could be a platform to further strengthen the relationship between us and our neighbors, and of course, among ourselves. What we are going to show in the visitor’s center is the story of Israel, the life of my father, the story of the Zionist movement, the story of the Jewish people and the story of peace in the world. How, with science and technology and innovation, one can share a better world.”

Peres on the 25th Anniversary of the Oslo Accords: “There were two great achievements in the Oslo Accords. The number one achievement is that the idea that the Palestinians and the Israelis recognize the existence of each other. The second thing is that they gave up on a significant part of the dream of their nation — 22 percent — to have the 67 borders as a beginning of the discussion. Even if you do not recognize their right to become a nation or a people, they are there. They’re a fact on the ground, and this is something that no one can deny. And some people believe that the right solution is to reach some kind of agreement with the Palestinians, so we can continue to be a Jewish and democratic state.”

“I know that my father and Yitzchak Rabin, and the other people that were active in this, were doing it out of their loyalty to their people. This is why I believe that if there are criminals in this process, it’s those who have murdered a Jewish Prime Minister, who was a great Zionist, a great warrior for the state of Israel, and a great believer in the need to bring Israel to a safe harbor. The rest will be judged by history.”

MIDTERMS — Arizona’s Democratic Candidate in Senate Race Takes Heat for Radical Past, but Is Bulletproof on Israel — by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “The neck-and-neck race in Arizona between Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally is among the most closely watched Senate midterm contests… The GOP’s McSally has been working hard to remind voters of Sinema’s past… [but has] generally refrained from criticizing her positions on Israel. That is because “her record has been pretty bulletproof on Israel,” said Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ron Klein… The Republican Jewish Council’s Matt Brooks, however, begs to differ. “Sinema has a long history of holding anti-Israel views,” he charged. “She has been involved in organizations … that have been highly critical of Israel and opposed military aid.”

“Since entering Congress six years ago, Sinema’s voting record has been viewed as one of the most conservative among House Democrats… For Israel watchers, the most significant of those choices were her decision to be among the minority of Democratic senators to oppose the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal in 2015; her co-sponsorship of  the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act in 2014.” [Haaretz]

New York Senate — Agudath Israel of America and the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition will host Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for a “full and complete dialogue on issues of importance, both foreign and domestic” on Sunday in Brooklyn, according to an email invitation shared with Jewish Insider.

Republican super PAC delves into Virginia House race once seen as GOP lock — by Mike DeBonis: “The Congressional Leadership Fund will air ads targeting voters in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, which is held by retiring Republican Thomas Garrett. The race pits distillery owner Denver Riggleman against journalist Leslie Cockburn… Both candidates have support from outside groups as well: Cockburn has the backing of Women Vote, a super PAC affiliated with Emily’s List, while the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund has aired ads attacking her.” [WashPost

INBOX — The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) has launched an effort to mobilize Jewish voters in the midterm elections. The digital adfeatures Trump’s Charlottesville comments and blames Trump for the spike in anti-Semitic attacks across the nation. The JDCA is also running newspaper ads for Senators Bill Nelson and Bob Menendez in the local Florida and New Jersey papers, and online ads in Nevada.

FL Gov — Ron DeSantis Tells Jewish Voters Andrew Gillum Would Hurt Israel As Florida Governor: “Ron DeSantis took his campaign for Florida governor to a Miami-area bagel shop on Tuesday to warn Jewish voters that his opponent, Andrew Gillum, would not be a friend to Israel if elected. DeSantis, the GOP nominee, said Democrat Gillium has supported the “boycott, divest and sanction” movement to punish Israel, supported the Iran nuclear deal and opposed President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “Where does he want the embassy? Ramallah?” DeSantis asked facetiously… “Give me a break,” he added.” [HuffPost] • DeSantis called the Democrat’s positions “warmed over anti-Semitism.” [WLRN]

DeSantis Jewish Outreach Head Attended Anti-Pelosi Protest With Proud Boys — by Ben Fractenberg: “Miami-Dade Jewish outreach chair Corey Breier, who also donated $2,000 to the [DeSantis] campaign, is pictured in multiple Facebook posts and an AP shot holding a DeSantis placard at the Oct. 17 demonstration [with the white nationalist group the Proud Boys] outside a Coral Gables event for Donna Shalala’s House campaign.”[Forward]

White supremacist group targets Florida’s Andrew Gillum in new racist robocall — by Felicia Sonmez and Tim Craig: “Two county Democratic Party chairs told The Washington Post that they received the new robocall Tuesday morning. It features a man impersonating Gillum in a minstrel dialect, while jungle sounds and chimpanzee noises can be heard in the background… The ad then takes an anti-Semitic turn, with the speaker claiming that “it was the Jews who owned the slave trade” and that Jews will be “puttin’ Negros in charge over the white folks.” “All the Jews gon’ vote me, Andrew Gillum, governor of this here state of Florida,” the ad concludes.”

“In an appearance Tuesday evening on MSNBC, Gillum seized on DeSantis’s previous warning to voters not to “monkey this up” by electing him… “It’s not hard to understand why neo-Nazis would take an extension of that and then take it to the next level of extremity,” he said.” [WashPost

2020 WATCH — Top Obama Allies Are Ready To Support A Deval Patrick Presidential Campaign — by Darren Sands: “The brain trust that created the roadmap for Obama’s election has long seen Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts and longtime friend of the former president, as a transcendent political talent. Several former senior Obama administration and campaign officials would be ready to support a Patrick presidential campaign on Day 1… David Axelrod, architect of Patrick’s 2006 governor’s race and Obama’s 2008 campaign, is intrigued by a potential Patrick 2020 campaign, said two former Obama administration sources. So is David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation and former aide to both Obama and Patrick.” [BuzzFeed

** 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: Yael Cohen Braun, The Founder Of FCancer And Motherlucker, Joins Bumble As A Senior Advisor [Forbes] • Swiss Court Lifts Lid on Abramovich’s Aborted Residency Bid [Bloomberg] • Penn Produced the Most Billionaires on Forbes 400 Richest List [Forbes] • Arconic Is Weighing $11 Billion Offer From Apollo Global Management [Bloomberg] • Why Walmart Is Investing In A Startup Founded By Former Leaders Of Israel’s Top Intelligence Unit [Forbes]

STARTUP NATION — Israeli-American start-up hoping to revolutionize recruitment raises $3.5m — by Eytan Halon: “Founded in 2016 by Roi Chobadi and Andy Katz, Stellares’s artificial intelligence-based algorithm provides a platform to accurately identify matches between the personal and professional goals of employees and possible employers. Currently focused on the engineering market in the United States, worth $2 billion in recruitment fees, Stellares intends to expand its platform to the entire US technology sector in the next two to three years – worth approximately $10b.”[JPost]

TOP TALKER — The Real Scandal in Al Jazeera’s Israel Lobby Investigation — by Anshel Pfeffer: “Haaretz recently obtained the entire four episodes of “The Lobby” and, having finally watched them, I can honestly say there was no reason to suppress it…Al Jazeera’s “investigators” don’t think to ask the obvious question. Why is the State of Israel, with its fabled intelligence services, begging a bunch of amateurs for intel? And why, if the threat of BDS is so terrible, does the Israeli Embassy in Washington rely on one young American woman, barely out of college, to collect information on it? The real answer is that the Strategic Affairs Ministry exists only to placate jobless Israeli ministers and it deals with BDS because no serious government department, like the Foreign Ministry, or the Mossad, believes it’s worth wasting resources on a nonexistent problem.” [Haaretz]

Christ at the Checkpoint USA touts peace for Palestinian Christians. Critics call it anti-Semitic — by Tamie Ross: “A gathering to promote peace for Palestinian Christians? Or a forum for bigots and anti-Semites? Those sharply contrasting narratives emerged as a four-day conference called Christ at the Checkpoint USA drew roughly 150 evangelical Christians to this Oklahoma City suburb last week…” [RNS

European parties urged to agree Israel boycott tactics are antisemitic — by Arthur Neslen: “A conference in Brussels backed by the Israeli government is to push for all European political parties to sign up to “red lines” that declare boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) tactics to be “fundamentally antisemitic.” The two-day convention, attended by Israel’s minister of Jerusalem affairs, Ze’ev Elkin, will propose a text for prospective MEPs and political parties to sign up to before European elections in May next year.” [TheGuardian]

BIRTHDAYS: Writer and adjunct instructor at Queensborough Community College, Ira Greenfest turns 75… Stock market analyst who has published books and appears regularly on CNBC and Bloomberg TV, Charles Bidermanturns 72… Retired chief of staff in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Judy Kopff turns 72… Financial planner and president of Laredo, Texas-based International Asset Management, Inc., Joseph Rothstein turns 66… Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Southern California since 1997, Brad Sherman turns 64… Executive editor of The Washington Post since 2013, Martin “Marty” Baron turns 64… Chattanooga-based billionaire and CEO of Mohawk Industries, the world’s largest flooring company, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum turns 64… Program director at the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Alan Divack turns 62…

Co-founder and CEO (1990-2001) of Sirius Satellite Radio (now Sirius XM Radio), he made aliyah in 2002, David Margolese turns 61… Producer of CBS’ 60 Minutes since 2007 after 25 years at CNN, Henry Schuster turns 61… Born in Kiev, billionaire oligarch, he is a supporter of Jewish initiatives in Russia and elsewhere in Europe, an active member of the Russian Jewish Congress and a co-founder of the Genesis Prize, German Khan turns 57… Born in Petah Tikva, earned a Ph.D. from Oxford in 1991, he is a professor of politics at the University of Hull in the UK, Raphael Cohen-Almagor turns 57… Deputy Washington editor of The New York Times and author of “(((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump,” Jonathan Weisman turns 53… Russian born billionaire, philanthropist and owner of the Premier League’s Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich turns 52…

Political communications consultant, she was formerly communications director and deputy chief of staff for Senator Patty Murray, Tovah Ravitz Meehan turns 49… Rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor, born to a Jewish mother in Toronto, he celebrated his bar-mitzvah, Aubrey Drake Graham now known as Drake turns 32… Executive director at Flatbush Community Fund, he was previously assistant executive director at the Jewish Community Council of Marine Park, Yitzy Weinberg turns 32… The Orthodox Union’s associate director of synagogue services and regional director for synagogues (Long Island and Queens), Yehuda Joel Friedman… Founding partner of PR firm Be Clear, he is a former White House spokesman and communications director at the US Department of Education, Matt Lehrich




Daily Kickoff: Jeff Flake recalls the release of Alan Gross from Cuba as his best moment in the Senate

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PODCAST PLAYBACK — Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, on The Axe Files podcast with David Axelrod on how he got his start in politics: “I became sort of politicized when I was in Boston University undergrad school. I became involved, first in the Soviet Jewry movement, and then in the anti-Apartheid movement.”

Axelrod: Why in the Soviet Jewry movement? 

Weaver: “I was a Russian area major at the time and there were a number of Jewish students at BU. I was convinced to go down to an annual lobby they had in DC at that time to lobby members of Congress on behalf of Soviet Jewry, and I had a geography professor who heard I was going and she said, ‘I have a friend I would like you to meet.’ And I met this woman. Her mother was still in the Soviet Union and they weren’t letting her leave. I brought her case, actually, to [Senator] Pat Leahy from Vermont and he raised it with Soviet officials and she was ultimately released. It was an early example to me of political activism paying off.” [AxeFiles

23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki on Recode Decode with Kara Swisher:“Years ago — probably four or five years ago — I spoke at the National Association of Reform Rabbis, and I presented them, “Hey, here’s all the different results people are getting.” People find out they’re 5 percent Jewish, 10 percent Jewish, 15 percent Jewish, and they’re walking into synagogues and are like, ‘We want to join, we’re part of the tribe.’”

Swisher: “You know what I found out? What? I was Jewish. Oh! And African. Okay. And Arabic. Yeah.” [Recode]

KUSHNER ON THE RECORD — White House senior advisor Jared Kushner discussed his relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, the Trump administration’s response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the prospect for peace in the Middle East during a rare interview with Van Jones at the Citizen by CNN forum at the Time Warner Center in NYC yesterday.

Van Jones: You’ve got also on your plate, the Middle East. This situation that happened, it’s so horrific people around the world are concerned about it. Do you believe the Saudi’s account of what happened to that journalist?

Kushner: “I don’t have the Middle East. I was given the Middle East peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians and I’ve dealt with a lot of the other regional partners in that effort. The president has a great foreign policy team led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ambassador Bolton — and Nikki Haley has done a great job at the U.N. — Secretary Mattis. So we’ve got a great team, and I have one small component of it.”

“With regards to the situation in Saudi Arabia, I’d say that right now as an administration we’re more in the fact-finding phase,” Kushner said. “We’re obviously getting as many facts as we can from different places, and then we’ll determine which facts are credible.”

Asked how the crisis with Saudi Arabia complicates the administration’s Middle East policy, Kushner stressed, “I wouldn’t say our strategy in the Middle East relies on Saudi Arabia.  I’d say our strategy in the Middle East relies on what are America’s interests, what are our strategic interests and then how do we utilize all the things that are available to us to try to push those forward… We’re always readjusting and reassessing and we’ll continue to do so.”

HOW IT PLAYED — ‘Where is Jared?’ no more: Kushner cornered on Saudi debacle —by Nancy Cook: “Jared Kushner’s critics say that, when the going gets tough for the Trump administration, Kushner goes quiet. But on Monday, amid the ongoing uproar over a Saudi Arabian journalist’s murder, Kushner unexpectedly stepped into the spotlight instead of avoiding it… It was unclear whether Kushner might have preferred to skip the event — or, as one Republican close to the White House suggested, whether he welcomed it as a safe space to break his silence on the alleged role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman… Kushner’s language was careful, and [Van] Jones did not press him hard on the explosive issue.” [Politico]

Kushner on Trump’s Mideast peace deal: “The president asked me to do the Middle East peace process, which is something that I think we’ve made a lot of progress on. I’m as optimistic as you can be about that… I think that what we’ll put forward will, hopefully, be something that people realize there’s a lot more reasons to be for it than reasons to be against it.  And I think that there’s a bigger gap between the negotiators than there is between the people… I think that what we’re working on will allow, both, the Israelis to have the security they want, and to allow the Palestinian people to have the opportunity that they want, while respecting a lot of the bigger issues.”

Van Jones: 
You know, other people have come up short. And this is the one area that dealing with the Palestinians feels to me, a little different. You don’t have that partner with the Palestinians. You’re good at that partnership finding. How are you going to get it done without the Palestinians with you?

Kushner: “One thing about this file is there’s about 1000 ways to fail.  And, you know, one thing that we determined very early on is that if we are going to fail, we’re not going to fail doing it the same way that people have done it before which is why we’ve taken the approach we have… Our sense is that, when we put our plan out, if there’s reasonable leadership, and if it’s a reasonable plan, then they’ll come to the table and try to fight for how to create the best opportunity, and the best outcomes for their people.” Watch the full Kushner interview [CNN]

REPORT — Trump told Macron he’s ready to pressure Netanyahu to back peace plan — by Barak Ravid: “President Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron last month that he’s ready to put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept his upcoming Middle East peace plan… According to the four Western diplomats, Macron told Trump he has the impression Netanyahu doesn’t really want to move on the peace process “because he loves the status quo.” Trump said he was very close to reaching the same conclusion… Trump added that he has given Netanyahu a lot — like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Trump even mentioned that every year the U.S. gives Israel $5 billion in military aid (the correct figure is $3.8 billion).”

KEY LINE: “I can be as tough with Bibi as I have been with the Palestinians.”[Axios

Aaron David Miller emails us… “This account just isn’t persuasive. I’ve been predicting a blow-up between Netanyahu and Trump for past year and a half, and it hasn’t happened. Why would it occur over a peace plan that — unless it’s full of surprises — is likely going to be DOA. The potential for Bibi and Trump to annoy the hell out of one another has been possible all along. But the US-Israeli relationship – so far – has been all honey and no vinegar.”

Shalom Lipner writes… “After the Midterms, Could a Threatened, Volatile Trump Flip on Israel? A potential thaw in Trump’s relations with Turkey’s President Erdogan could put unfriendly Ankara back in America’s good graces. Meanwhile, fallout from the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi interrogators is all but guaranteed to drive a wedge between Washington and Riyadh – perhaps turning hopeful Israeli-Saudi cooperation into a liability… Frequent turnover among the ranks of senior administration officials has… but also seen the departure of treasured allies such as departing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. This turnstile will be working overtime during midterm season, and the newcomers may be even less capable of restraining Trump’s darker impulses.” [Haaretz

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM CITIZEN BY CNN — Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) shared his best moment in the Senate during an interview with Jake Tapper: “I went down to see Alan Gross, along with Tom Udall from New Mexico, in prison in Havana. And he was not doing well. I came back and the administration had been negotiating for his release… Three planes landing all at once in Havana and then taking off. We brought Alan Gross, the American, back. I’ll never forget the best moment was we were in the air for about half an hour and the pilot came on and said, ‘We’ve now entered U.S. airspace.’ And Alan Gross and his wife was there too. Alan just stood up and shook his fist in the air and just breathed in and out several times and said, ‘Now I know I’m free.’ It was just a moment I’ll never forget. Tough to top that one… Alan sends me a card every December 17, and it’s just something I’ll always remember.” [Video]

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on whether he would ever run for president: “I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that I have no interest of — I did eight years in the Oval Office. I have no interest in returning to the White House.” Moderator Fareed Zakaria: Ever? Emanuel: “I have no interest in doing it, never.” [Video]

SCENE IN JERUSALEM — Retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) met with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday in Jerusalem: “We have never had a better defender of Israel and a better defender of the truth. So I want to thank you,” Bibi told Ros-Lehtinen. [Pic] • The Congresswoman also met with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein [Pic]

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem this morning: “The two discussed ways to deepen cooperation and encourage continued economic development by focusing on encouraging investments in innovation in Israel and New Jersey,” the PMO said in a statement. [Pic] • Murphy also visited the Western Wall [Pic]

MIDTERMS — New York 19: Democratic House candidate, Antonio Delgado, claimed Israel is “not a Jewish democracy” during a live-streamed debate yesterday. “It has become clear to me that being pro-Israel and being pro-peace is critical but I am also pro-democracy. And as currently constructed, you know, Israel is not a Jewish democracy. Those settlements make it so that it can’t be,” said Delgado, who’s running against Rep. John Faso (R) in New York’s 19th Congressional District.

Delgado — who noted that his wife and kids are Jewish — said he was opposed to Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. “I think unilaterally moving in that direction sends a wrong signal to that region,” he explained. Faso called his opponent’s remarks “insulting to its citizens and to our relationship with that nation. It is imperative that the United States stands strong side-by-side with the state of Israel and the Israeli people. Antonio Delgado doesn’t seem to understand that Israel is both a democracy and a Jewish State.”

Delgado clarified his remarks in an emailed statement to Jewish Insider“As I made clear in the debate and in my statements throughout this campaign, I have a deep personal and family connection to the state of Israel. As a member of Congress, I will do everything in my power to ensure it’s security is safeguarded, which is also profoundly in America’s national interest. I am committed to a two-state solution—a Jewish state of Israel and a sovereign Palestinian State—because it is the only way for Israel to fulfill its own aspirations to remain a Jewish democracy for future generations.” [JewishInsider]

NY Sen — The Republican Jewish Coalition is co-hosting a “Farley for Israel rally” tonight in support of Republican Senate candidate Chele Chiavacci Farley, who is running against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), at the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan. Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is featured as the guest speaker.

Pennsylvania 01 — Wallace Snaps, Curses In Synagogue During Debate With Fitzpatrick — by Rick Rickman: “Challenger Scott Wallace lost his cool during a debate with Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. Sunday night at the Congregation Tifereth Israel in Bensalem, Wallace used an expletive and “dropped an f-bomb” in front of those attending. “Ironically, there was a later question about the need for civility in politics,” Fitzpatrick told WBCB. “Well, a good start is to not use vulgarities in the sanctuary of a synagogue in the middle of a congressional debate. Both candidates were standing on the synagogue’s ‘bimah,’ an elevated platform used for reading the Torah during services, when Wallace used the expletive.”

Wallace in a statement: “I apologize for any offense that might have been taken, I am passionate about protecting people from insurance company abuses, and I’m sorry that in this instance, my frustration got the best of me.” [WBCBNews]

Virginia 07 — Dave Brat Tells Incarcerated Addicts He Has a Hard Life, Too  — by Sarah Jones: “Dave Brat is stressed. Four years after booting Eric Cantor from what seemed to be a safe seat in Congress, the Republican representative for Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District has entered troubled waters. Monmouth’s most recent poll places him in a dead heat with his Democratic challenger, Abigail Spanberger, who raised $3.6 million last quarter.” [NYMag]

Texas Senate — Senator Ted Cruz at a campaign rally with President Trump in Houston Texas: “Beto O’Rourke has the most anti-Israel record of any Democratic Senate nominee in the country. Let me give you specifics: In 2014, when Hamas was raining rockets down on Israel, rockets were raining on Israel, Beto was one of eight members of the House of Representatives to vote against funding Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Virtually every Republican voted yes. Virtually every Democrat voted yes. Nancy Pelosi voted yes. Maxine Waters voted yes. But Beto O’Rourke voted no and wouldn’t stand with the people of Israel.” [CSPAN

Chris Evans, Communications Director for the O’Rourke campaign, emails us… “Senator Cruz has voted against more than $22 billion in support to Israel, regularly voted against Iron Dome funding, and has even voted to slash U.S. funding for Iron Dome. Since being elected to Congress, Beto has voted for nearly $20 billion in aid to Israel including almost $4 billion for missile defense systems such as Iron Dome. He also worked to pass an additional $38 billion to support Israel over the next 10 years.”

HEARD ON THE TRAIL — Trump during the Houston rally: “You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, ‘Really? We’re not supposed to use that word.’ You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. Okay? I’m a nationalist. Use that word. Use that word.” [Bloomberg]

Abe Foxman texts us…“It is a word and a title that will make many of us cringe. For those of us who remember history, to hear an American President embrace and describe himself as a ‘Nationalist’ is alarming, and it sends a shiver up our spine.”

DONOR CIRCUIT — Miriam and Sheldon Adelson gave $55 million to conservative Super PACs in September — by Bill Theobald: “Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his physician wife Miriam gave $55 million to three conservative political action committees over a two-day period in September… The Adelsons gave the most, $25 million between them, to the Senate Leadership Fund… The Adelsons gave $20 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund.” [USATodayBloomberg]

ON THE HILL — Senate Dem asks tech companies to look into Saudi propaganda efforts — by Harper Neidig: “Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent letters to Facebook, Google, Reddit and Twitter on Monday asking them… to look into whether Saudi Arabia had employed social media tactics to boost then-candidate Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign… The senator pointed to media reports tying both the Trump campaign and the Saudi government to the Psy-Group, an Israeli firm specializing in intelligence and public influence campaigns… Blumenthal asked each company about the Psy-Group and other firms affiliated with its founder, Joel Zamel, and if they had purchased advertisements or used fake accounts on their platforms.” [TheHill]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Carl Icahn scores $757 million profit after American Railcar announces merger [CNBC] • Josh Kushner announces Thrive VI has totaled $1 billion [Medium] • SoftBank, Walmart, Airbus Partner with Israeli Startup Foundry Team8 [CalcalistReuters] • New Holographic Content Push Planned by Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Partnership [HollywoodReporter]

STARTUP NATION — Israel Startup Rolls Out Tiny Solar Panels for Smart Electronics — by Anna Hirtenstein: “A startup in Israel is implanting tiny solar panels on electronic devices that allows the devices to sustainably generate their own power, the latest sign that falling costs are pushing renewable energy technologies deeper into everyday use. Closely held 3GSolar Photovoltaics Ltd. was founded in 2010 and is based in Jerusalem.” [Bloomberg]

MEDIA WATCH — Despite the Moonves Baggage, CBS Insiders See a Case for Ianniello —by Joe Pompeo: “The C.E.O. hunt is entering a more formal phase. Last week… CBS settled on the executive-recruiting firm Korn Ferry to lead the search… [Joseph] Ianniello last week elevated Showtime boss David Nevins to the new position of chief creative officer. Besides running Showtime, Nevins will assume responsibility for all of the company’s television programming—including its streaming service, CBS All Access—at the precise moment when legacy players, like CBS, are struggling to keep up with increasingly powerful over-the-top insurgents like Netflix and Amazon… Ianniello appears to be positioning the company for the very sort of corporate evolution that one imagines [Shari] Redstone and the board are advocating.” [VanityFair]

Explosive Device Found Near George Soros’s Home in Westchester County — by Sarah Mervosh and William Rashbaum: “An explosive device was found on Monday in a mailbox at the Westchester County home of George Soros… It did not explode on its own, and bomb squad technicians “proactively detonated” it… Mr. Soros was not home at the time. The police said they had turned the case over to the F.B.I.” [NYTimes]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Be Wearing a Hanukkah Scrunchie Year-Round — by Emily Burack: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg loves scrunchies. She wears them all the time… This is why Rabbi Yael Buechler, who founded Midrash Manicures, a company dedicated to “creative religious expression,” recently decided to send RBG a Hanukkah scrunchie… Rabbi Buechler did not expect a reply from RBG. But she got one. As she wrote to Alma in an e-mail, “In the aftermath of pretty challenging SCOTUS news, this letter was really a beacon of hope.” In the letter, RBG writes, “My dear Rabbi: Thank you for today’s surprise, a scrunchie I will wear not only at Hanukkah, but year round.” [HeyAlma]

A Holocaust Memorial Expands in Philadelphia — by Jon Hurdle: “A new downtown plaza built around the “Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs,” a Nathan Rapoport sculpture that has stood on the site since 1964, opened on Monday. The plaza adds to the memorial physical items from the Holocaust and uses technology to allow visitors to hear from survivors, some of them now residents of the Philadelphia area…  The plaza also features a sapling from a silver maple tree that was planted and cared for by children in the Theresienstadt camp in the former Czechoslovakia before many of them were killed at Auschwitz… David Adelman, the foundation’s chairman, said that the foundation was warning about any possible drift toward autocracy.” [NYTimes]

Museum of the Bible in D.C. removes items billed as Dead Sea Scrolls after experts find they are not authentic — by Marisa Iati: “Five of 16 fragments thought to be historical Dead Sea Scrolls that have been displayed at the Museum of the Bible… may not be real after all, the museum announced Monday. The pieces have been removed from exhibition after the Germany-based firm BAM tested them and concluded they might not truly be parts of the ancient manuscripts found in the Qumran Caves of Israel’s West Bank… The museum… sent the five fragments to BAM for analysis in April 2017 after previous studies raised questions about other Dead Sea Scroll fragments owned by the museum.” [WashPost]

First-Of-Its-Kind First Amendment National Conference Held In Pittsburgh — by Julie Grant: “The National Conference on the First Amendment is the first of its kind in the country… “I think everybody has to pass what I call the shoe-on-the-other-foot test, and that is if you promote free speech for your view, would you make the same argument if the shoe were on the other foot?” legal scholar Alan Dershowitz said.” [CBSPittsburgh]

Mark Wilf Announced as New Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America: “On Sunday, October 21, The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) held its annual Board of Trustees meeting at the General Assembly in Tel Aviv, Israel, and unanimously voted to elect Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf as the new chair. “Mark Wilf will be an outstanding chair,” said current JFNA Board Chair Richard Sandler. “In business, his accomplishments are many…As a philanthropist, his generosity is matched by few.” [Vikings]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Cardi B, Rich the Kid perform at dueling bar mitzvah parties — by Mara Siegler and Emily Smith: “The city’s swankiest tweens lived it up over the weekend at dueling lavish bar mitzvahs, we hear. Uptown, Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick’s son Ryan was fêted at the Metropolitan Museum’s Temple of Dendur — the same setting as Vogue’s annual Met Gala — with music by Rich the Kid and DJ Irie. An insider told us the performance by Kid probably cost “between $200,000 and $300,000.” … Meanwhile, at Tao, we hear another birthday boy, named Jake, entered his bar mitzvah flanked by the Knicks City Dancers. Cardi B performed at the downtown bash, calling it “epic” on Instagram.” [PageSix]

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman emeritus of the shopping mall developer Simon Property Group and the principal owner of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, Herbert “Herb” Simon turns 84… Distinguished professor of American and Jewish Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Gerald Sorin turns 78… Filmmaker, actor and producer famous for creating the cult horror Evil Dead series, as well as directing the original Spider-Man trilogy (2002-07), Sam Raimi turns 59… Founder of New Democrat Network and the New Policy Institute, Simon Rosenberg turns 55…

Former Editor in Chief of the New York Observer and Kushner-confidant, Ken Kurson turns 5-0… Director of rabbinic and community engagement at J Street, Shaina Wasserman turns 41… AIPAC’s associate area director for Bergen County NJ and Rockland County NY, Ayelet Kahane turns 30… 2014 graduate of Brown University, now in the 2019 class of Harvard Law, she has worked for Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI-1) and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Annika Lichtenbaum turns 26… MBA Candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Allison Rachesky… 2014 graduate of American University where she was on the Jewish student association board, now a junior digital strategist at Veracity Media, Rachel Shabad turns 26… Richard Rubenstein




Daily Kickoff: Chinese VP lands in Israel | How Khashoggi threatens Trump’s peace plan | How Jews brought Fish & Chips to London

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TRANSITION — Strauss Zelnick Replaces Richard Parsons as CBS Chairman of Board — by Sharon Waxman: “Richard Parsons resigned from the CBS Corporation Board of Directors on Sunday for health reasons and was replaced as interim chairman by Strauss Zelnick, the head of Zelnick Media Capital… The appointment follows a unanimous decision on Sunday by the CBS Board… Parsons and Zelnick… are considered close to Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder of CBS.” [TheWrapWSJ]

Zelnick was just featured on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today where he discussed ‘becoming ageless’ through health and spirituality. [Video]

TRENDS — Wang Xiangwei writes… “China has much to learn from Israel and Jewish diaspora about soft power: Beijing’s decision to task [Vice President] Wang Qishan with elevating ties with Israel is believed to have come after a brainstorming session among Chinese leaders, in which they discussed how to boost China’s innovation and hi-tech industries at a time when ties with the United States have deteriorated and the US has taken decisive steps to curb China’s technological advances. During the session, Wang, a history buff, impressed the others with his firm grasp of Israeli history and its contemporary rise to a hi-tech powerhouse in the world. He will be the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the country in nearly two decades.”[SouthChinaMorningPost]

DRIVING THE WEEK — in Israel: Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Facebook executive David Marcus, venture capitalist Yuri Milner, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt are expected to attend the Prime Minister’s Israeli Innovation Summit 2018, which will take place in Jerusalem on October 24 and 25.

— President Reuven Rivlin kicked off the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly this morning at the Tel Aviv Convention Center with a speech focused on the shared interests between Israel and the Jewish communities in Diaspora. [Program]

GA Event Promises Tough Talk on Issues Dividing Israel and U.S. Jews – but Can It Deliver? — by Judy Maltz: “A look at the program reveals that… Orthodox voices are nowhere to be found and issues that have caused outrage and angst among progressive Jews – who still account for the overwhelming majority in America – are not specifically addressed in the program.” [Haaretz] • Israeli Diaspora Minister Will Be Conspicuously Absent From This Week’s Big Diaspora Event in Israel [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE DAY — U.S. Tries to Uphold Saudi Alliance — by Ian Talley: “An array of lawmakers from both parties urged sanctions on the kingdom as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prepared to visit Saudi Arabia on Monday. Mr. Mnuchin told a small group of reporters that the administration’s relationship with Riyadh was critical to the U.S. campaign to counter Iran’s bid to become the region’s dominant power… He said his message in visiting Saudi Arabia—the primary challenger to Iranian power in the Middle East and a crucial oil supplier—was that the two countries “have very important issues that we continue to focus on,” including combating terrorist financing and countering Iran.” [WSJ]

Trump downplays the Kushner-MBS relationship — by Josh Dawsey: “White House officials said there has been a deliberate effort during the Khashoggi controversy to sideline Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, who has developed a strong relationship with MBS. Trump has grown frustrated with Kushner, White House officials said, though he offered his son-in-law some support in the Post interview. “Jared doesn’t do business with Saudi Arabia. They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything,” he said. “They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other I believe. Jared has done a very good job. I think he’ll make peace with Israel. But there are a lot of setbacks. This is a setback for that.” [WashPost]

— “In recent days, a number of sources I have spoken with have raised the possibility that M.B.S.’s ties to Kushner may have instilled in the crown prince a belief that America would, indeed, turn a blind eye to the murder of Khashoggi. “I think there is a lot to be said [about how] M.B.S. thought he could get away with it, because Jared Kushner was in his pocket, and so was the president for that matter,” [a] former State Department official who worked in the Middle East said. And after all, the Trump administration has largely ignored the war in Yemen; the strange sojourn of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Saudi Arabia; the ill-fated boycott of Qatar; and M.B.S.’s spats with Canada and Germany.” [VanityFair]

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures: “You’ll never convince me that [MBS] didn’t do this… My beef is not with Saudi Arabia the country. My beef is with this young leader who’s taken the law into his own hands.” [TheAtlantic]

Inside the Saudis’ Washington influence machine: How the kingdom gained power through fierce lobbying and charm offensives — by Tom Hamburger, Beth Reinhard and Justin Wm. Moyer: “During an afternoon meeting on March 12, Saudi Ambassador Khalid bin Salman sat at the head of a long table in an embassy conference room, flanked by a whiteboard detailing the prince’s itinerary. His assembled advisers included Norm Coleman, the former Minnesota senator; Marc S. Lampkin, a veteran Capitol Hill adviser who served on President Trump’s transition team; and Democratic strategist Alfred E. Mottur… Eight days after their meeting, the congressional resolution aimed at extracting the United States from what the United Nations labeled “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world” would be defeated — hours after Mohammed was warmly welcomed at the White House at the start of his nationwide tour.”

“Coleman — a dean of the Saudi lobby in Washington and an influential GOP figure who also co-founded a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — said national interests are at stake if the U.S.-Saudi partnership does not endure. “The relationship with Saudi Arabia is critically important, and its partnership in confronting the Iranian threat is critical for U.S. security, for security in the region, including the security of Israel,” he said.” [WashPost]

Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen in remarks at a budget conference held by Israel’s Finance Ministry: “One of the Americans I met recently asked me ‘What might happen if Iran is defeated, if we overcome Iran?’ I told him that if we beat Iran, I may be jobless, if Iran isn’t beaten, I may be homeless.”

— “Cohen said various powers’ handling of Middle East hotspots like Syria “is, of course, very much affected by the change in approach since President Trump took office, which, I think, is very pleasant for us, as the State of Israel. There is a kind of feeling – including in me – that there is a differentiation, between the good guys and the bad guys, being done in a more dichotomous, simpler and clearer manner.” [Reuters]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Khashoggi’s killing threatens Trump dreams for Mideast peace — by Josef Federman: “With the Saudi prince’s credibility facing serious questions following Khashoggi’s death, President Donald Trump may soon have to rethink his Mideast strategy. “It definitely complicates their plans to release their proposal, if indeed they have one,” said Dan Shapiro.”

“A U.S. official familiar with the peace effort said the team remains committed to its plan and does not expect the crisis surrounding the Khashoggi killing to affect it. The official added, however, that the team has not yet discussed the matter since the Saudis confirmed Khashoggi’s death over the weekend, and plans a discussion in the coming days.” [AP]

REPORT — Israel worried US peace plan will include Jerusalem as Palestinian capital — by Itamar Eichner: “Israeli officials are worried that one of the enticements the White House might present to Abbas would be mentioning Jerusalem as the future capital of the Palestinian state. “Trump wants a deal and he’s very serious,” a senior Israeli official said. “To the Americans, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is relatively easy to resolve and is ripe for the picking.”

“The official said that if the Republicans lose power in the upcoming midterm elections, Trump might increase his efforts to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so he could run for his second term with a big foreign policy achievement under his belt… In such a case, the prime minister would likely ask to postpone the release of the peace plan until after the elections in Israel.”[Ynet]

HAPPENING NOW — Jared Kushner and Van Jones are taking part in a discussion about prison reform and working across party lines at Citizen by CNN, a day-long conference held at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. Kushner said at the beginning of the discussion that he is “as optimistic as one could be” on Middle East peace. Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel are also among the featured speakers. [Livestream]

The Next Intifada Might Be Stirring in the West Bank — by Mehul Srivastava: “In interviews, West Bank residents describe a mounting despair that is the result of an emboldened right-wing Israeli government, a belligerent U.S. administration and an indifferent Arab world — especially Saudi Arabia, which has chosen to build covert ties with Israel as it duels with Iran. Their frustration with their own interim government, the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Abbas, has also grown. More than 60 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza want Abbas — whom they deride as corrupt, inept and impotent against Israeli aggression — to resign, and three-quarters think things have become worse since Oslo… “You may think I am being dramatic, but when there’s nothing left to live for, should I not die in a way that matters?” says Adil, a 32-year-old waiting outside an East Jerusalem hospital that has lost U.S. funding.” [Ozy

Jordan Says It Won’t Renew Peace Treaty Land Deal With Israel — by Suleiman Al-Khalidi: “Jordan said on Sunday it would not extend the 25-year deal that allows Israel to use two tracts of territory along its border just as Israel said it was still planning to negotiate an extension. King Abdullah… told senior Jordanian politicians the kingdom wanted to exercise its “full sovereignty” over the two areas… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… acknowledged that Jordan wanted to exercise its option to end the arrangement. But he said Israel “will enter negotiations with it on the possibility of extending the current arrangement.” [Reuters

“The decision came as an unwelcome surprise to Israelis, but was not likely to touch off any immediate diplomatic crisis.” [NYTimes]

YESTERDAY IN JERUSALEM —Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem at the start of a Middle East trip, his third trip to Israel in the past year. “The US-Israel alliance under President Trump has never been stronger,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with Mnuchin. [PicVideo]

Mnuchin also visited Aish HaTorah in the Old City of Jerusalem — led by Rabbi Steven Burg — with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and his senior advisor, Aryeh Lightstone. [PicAnd held a roundtable discussion with Israeli technology leaders on economic issues. [Pic

Mnuchin, along with Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh, Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Pam Patenaude, and Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker attended the U.S.-Israel Economic Conference today in Jerusalem.  [Pic]

MIDTERMS — Michael Bloomberg Bets Big on the Midterm — by Chris Smith: “Bloomberg’s $80 million is being deployed on behalf of just 16 lucky beneficiaries at the moment; the number will likely grow to a still-select group of 20. The current list includes… Mike Levin, who is taking on incumbent Darrell Issa north of San Diego; Elaine Luria, running in a district that covers Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, and part of Norfolk… Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens, in southern Michigan and suburban Detroit, respectively… The bulk of the midterms cash, however, is being spent directly, through Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC. His longtime political adviser, Kevin Sheekey, is involved in the effort, with Howard Wolfson directing the day-to-day strategy.”

”Wolfson is dividing Bloomberg’s money roughly 3–to–1 between traditional TV and digital ads… “Most of our TV stuff will hit late,” Wolfson says, and it will be sharpened by more polls and focus groups. The web spots began running in early September. “We will end up spending north of $10 million just on digital,” Wolfson says. “It will make us the biggest player in digital ads for Democrats this cycle.” [VanityFair]

This house candidate could soon be one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress — by Amal Ahmed: “Rashida Tlaib will become the first Muslim American and Palestinian woman elected to the House of Representatives in November—but she’d rather talk about the heavy-duty trucks that roll through her neighborhood in Detroit… “My activism was birthed in many ways because of my Palestinian heritage,” says Tlaib, 42, a Michigan state representative. “But air quality and environmental justice—that’s something I’m so passionate about.” [TheAtlantic]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Democratic House candidate Susan Wild and Republican Marty Nothstein participated in a debate hosted by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley for the open seat vacated by retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R) in the 7th Congressional District contest. Iran, BDS, and anti-Semitism were among the topics that were discussed. [Pic

FL GOV — Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum spar over race, Trump in contentious Florida governor debate — by Gregory Krieg: “Though his upset victory in the primary was driven by an endorsement from President Donald Trump, DeSantis sought to keep some space from the President, never quite answering whether he considered Trump a good “role model,” and instead talking up the administration’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” [CNNAP]

DeSantis also blasted Gillum for associating himself with groups like the Dream Defenders, which has likened Israel to an ‘Apartheid’ state: “I look at what Andrew has done in terms of aligning himself with groups like the Dream Defenders, who one of their main planks of their platform is to boycott, divest and sanction the state of Israel.  They say Israel is a genocidal apartheid state… I think he should disavow them, because I can tell you this, if you want to unify Florida, taking positions about Israel like that, that may be unifying if you’re running for the mayor of the Gaza Strip. It ain’t unifying here. We’re a pro-Israel state and we need to do that.”

Gillum: “Well, let me just simply say, my relationship with Israel is beyond reproach. I’m the mayor of the city that has a sister relationship in Israel with the city of Ramat-Hasharon.  I’ve been to Israel three times and I’ve had rabbis from my community come to my defense in this regard.” [Video]

PROFILE — Larry Krasner’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration — by Jennifer Gonnerman: “Krasner is one of about two dozen “progressive prosecutors,” many of them backed by [George] Soros, who have won recent district-attorney races… Krasner now oversees five hundred and thirty-seven employees, including some three hundred prosecutors, and an annual budget of forty-two million dollars. With his tailored suits, well-trimmed silver hair, and square jaw, he could be mistaken for a Republican senator, but his speech is freewheeling and at times leaves his spokesperson, Ben Waxman, a thirty-three-year-old former journalist, looking anxious. At lunchtime each day, prosecutors returning from the courthouse stream through the doors of the D.A.’s office, pulling metal carts stacked with boxes of files, and ride an escalator to the mezzanine, then board an elevator to their offices.”[NewYorker

DEEP DIVE — How a Disgraced Republican Fundraiser Is Exposing Qatar’s Shadowy Lobbying Offensive — by Dan Friedman: “[Jamal] Benomar’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, a prominent criminal defense attorney who also represents Jared Kushner, defends his client with a surprising claim. Benomar, Lowell says in a court filing, indeed “advised Qatar on foreign policy issues,” but Lowell says he did so at the direction of the Moroccan government. Lowell declined to answer questions from Mother Jones about why Morocco asked Benomar to advise Qatar, what kind of advice he provided, or whether he was paid for his work. [Elliott] Broidy’s lawyers contend that Benomar was compensated and point to his appointment last month to the board of Lagardère, a French media company partly owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.)” [MotherJones

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: How Stephen Schwarzman’s Blackstone Landed $20 Billion From Saudis for New Fund [Bloomberg] • 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki says ‘one of our biggest competitors’ is fake science on sites like Goop[Recode] • Israel-based Amai Proteins’s sugar substitute aims to avoid a bitter end [WSJ

SPOTLIGHT — He Raised Legal Hell for 35 Years. Now He’s Back — by Corey Kilgannon: “On the day his law license was reinstated this past summer, Stanley L. Cohen got a call from an old friend and client, Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior political leader of Hamas… “He said, ‘You’re up to trouble again already?’” recalled Mr. Cohen, 67. In certain circles in the Middle East, he said, “Word had gotten around very quickly that I was back.” That Mr. Cohen is back — after a prison sentence on federal tax charges that resulted in the suspension of his law license — is certain to infuriate many people. He has spent much of his 35-year law career raising legal hell, defending controversial clients with an audacity that has antagonized his enemies, including United States intelligence figures and many Jewish groups.”

“The lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz — no stranger to controversy himself, having represented O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bülow, among others — said of Mr. Cohen: “I think he’s a horrible human being with horrible values, but I’ve defended worse.” [NYTimes]

Polygamy persists among Israel’s Bedouins but women are pushing for change — by Yardena Schwartz: “Bedouin men who marry multiple wives only register one marriage with Israeli authorities, making the problem difficult to track. Muslim marriages are carried out by Sharia courts, and multiple marriages by one man are rarely reported to authorities. Thus many married Bedouin women are legally considered single. As a result, despite its traditionalism, the Bedouin community boasts Israel’s highest rate of single mothers. Over 10 percent of Bedouin families are single-parent households. Now all of that is changing. In January 2017, the government passed an $825 million plan to improve the socio-economic status of the Bedouin sector, Israel’s most disenfranchised population. Part of that plan was the creation of a government committee to eradicate polygamy and help the women and children who are hurt by it.” [NBCNews]

Battling addiction in Orthodox Jewish community means breaking through silence —by George Itzhak and Dennis Romero: “Talking about substance abuse and addiction in the Orthodox Jewish world is a difficult endeavor that Rabbi Zvi Gluck is well acquainted with. He grew up in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn and said that, “any insular community likes to remain in their bubble so that they deal with things themselves and not have to mix in the outside world into it.” … In 2014, with the support of Jewish philanthropists and community leaders, Gluck created Amudim, a crisis support organization that has taken on two of the most controversial issues in the Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish worlds: sex abuse and addiction. Since inception, Amudim has helped over 5,000 clients, from across the Jewish spectrum.” [NBCNews]

Australia’s Jerusalem ploy fails to avoid by-election beating, risks Muslim backlash — by Tom Westbrook and Colin Packham: “In the kosher cafes of Sydney’s east, Australia’s surprise move to mull recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital won some support but not enough votes to prevent a huge backlash against the government at a crucial weekend by-election. The results, with about a fifth of the Wentworth electorate switching their vote away from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government, are on track to plunge the ruling conservative coalition into political chaos and a parliamentary minority. Its Israel gambit could unravel further.” [Reuters] • Leak of top-secret Asio advice on Israel embassy move referred to federal police [TheGuardian]

SPORTS BLINK — The ones who know Dodgers can pull this off don’t need your belief — by Kevin Kernan: “No one else may believe, but the Dodgers believe they can beat the Red Sox. And that starts at the top with team president and CEO Stan Kasten. In the wild champagne party in the visitors’ clubhouse at Miller Park after the Dodgers’ Game 7 win over the Brewers gave them the NL pennant late Saturday night, Kasten said this of the matchup between the Dodgers and the Red Sox, the first time these franchises have met in the World Series in 102 years: “This is a classic, two great franchises with two of the three oldest stadiums in baseball, it’s going to be as pure a baseball experience that you can have in the modern era, it’s very exciting.” [NYPost]

Greg Joseph’s long journey from Jewish day school to the NFL — by Ed Carroll: “Browns rookie kicker Greg Joseph said it’s been a “wild ride” for him since being cut at the end of preseason by the Miami Dolphins, signing with Cleveland in Week 3 of the regular season, and just days later, playing an integral role in the NFL team’s first victory in nearly two years. To cap his “wild” five-week stretch, Joseph booted a game-winning 37-yard field goal – which was reportedly partially blocked by a defender – in overtime October 7 against the division rival Baltimore Ravens.” [ToI]

Primeau biking through Israel to aid disabled veterans — by Adam Kimelman: “[Keith] Primeau, 46, will participate in Courage in Motion 2018, a five-day cycling trip through Israel to raise money for Beit Halochem, which provides aid to disabled veterans in Israel. Proceeds from the ride will be used toward purchasing cycling equipment, including customized hand bikes and single and tandem bicycles, as well as funding cycling programs. The ride, which will be held Monday through Friday, will take riders from Mitzpe Ramon, in the southern part of the country, north to Jerusalem. Along the way the group will stop to hike at Masada and swim in the Dead Sea.” [NHL

Israeli bodybuilders compete in annual flex-off — by Oded Balilty: “Just short of 80 contestants participated in 14 categories at this year’s Israel’s National Amateur Body Builders’ Association competition… This year’s men’s winner, 25-year-old Or Magdasi of Tel Aviv, beamed, veins bulging, as he lifted his trophy… Magdasi will get a shot at representing Israel at the 2019 Mr. Universe competition in the United Kingdom.” [ABCNews]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian President has been tweeting about American sports. Can he make it as a pundit? — by Zach Helfand: “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s President from 2005 to 2013, oversaw a ban on social media in his country, but last year, perhaps following the example of America’s President, he started tweeting on a new account. On Twitter, the populist hard-liner goes by the handle @Ahmadinejad1956 (a reference to his birth year), and identifies himself as a “Husband, Dad, Grandfather, University Professor, President, Mayor, Proud Iranian.” For the most part, his tweets veer between New Agey aphorisms (“Let’s all love each other”) and political commentary (“the Zionists are always causing problems for the #AmericanPeople . . . #ZionistPlot”).”[NewYorker] • After talking LeBron and Serena, Iran’s ex-president tweets about . . . Michigan football? [WashPost]

CAMPUS BEAT — Chabad opens new house worth $3.2 million — by Maria Harrast: “Chabad at Dartmouth now has a new place in Hanover to call home. On Oct. 14, the Hilary Chana Chabad House — located two blocks from the Green at 19 Allen Street — opened the doors of its new 9,000-square-foot building with a weekend of festivities that culminated in a dedication ceremony on Sunday… It took the [Rabbi Moshe and Chana Gray] just three days to come up with the $1.3 million needed to purchase the property. Sue Ann Arnall, whose daughter Hillary Chana was then in her final year at Dartmouth, pledged $750,000… Ultimately, the Chabad House will act as a hub where students can come together for meals, prayer services, social activities, intellectual events and studying, [Max] Goldman said.” [TheDartmouth]

Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan writes… “Israeli Diplomacy In The Age Of Bots And Trolls: As a Twitter addict myself, I can tell you that checking if Israel is receiving a fair hearing on Facebook and Twitter is like a 24-hour game of whack-a-mole played in the dark. On Israel, and just about every subject imaginable, millennials and Generation Z are exposed to hate-filled or simply inaccurate content. These messages can be coordinated behind the scenes by extremist regimes like Iran, or U.K. opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-Semitic associates.” [Newsweek]

MAZEL TOV — A Celebration Uniting Past, Present and Future (Mom Predicted It) — by Rosalie R. Radomsky: “On Aug. 30, Rabbi Seth Braunstein led a Jewish ceremony at Mad Synagogue in Mad, Hungary. The wedding ceremony at the synagogue was the first since 1944, according to Mariann Frank, a caretaker of the historical site. Viktoria Bedö, 28, is a third-year rabbinical student and Wexner Graduate fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, and has fellowship through Hillel International’s Office of Innovation… [Jonah Chaim] Fisher, 29, works in New York as the director of Gather, a Seeds of Peace program in which he trains and supports entrepreneurs in conflict zones focusing on the Middle East… Ms. Bedö grew up in Budapest in an assimilated Roman Catholic household; Mr. Fisher grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in a Jewish community. “His grandfather was a Holocaust survivor from Munkacs,” she said. “My family is not Jewish and I converted when I was 17,” said Ms. Bedö.” [NYTimes]

REMEMBERING — David Posner, Senior Rabbi of Flagship Reform Synagogue, Dies at 70 — by Sharon Otterman: “At Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, a flagship Jewish congregation in the Reform tradition since the 19th century, services have traditionally been a formal and grand affair, with “thee” and “thou” in the prayer book, an ethereal choir and a towering sanctuary glowing with stained glass. But even amid the splendor, which is always so much greater than any one person, there was something unique about Rabbi David M. Posner, the congregation’s senior rabbi, who died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease on Friday at age 70.” [NYTimes

Man who foiled Nazi nuclear plan dies aged 99: “The leader of a daring World War Two raid to thwart Nazi Germany’s nuclear ambitions has died aged 99, Norwegian government officials said on Sunday. Joachim Roenneberg, serving behind enemy lines in his native Norway during the German occupation, in 1943 blew up a plant producing heavy water, or D2O, a hydrogen-rich substance that was key to the later development of atomic bombs.” [Reuters]

DESSERT — How Fish and Chips Migrated to Great Britain — by Abbey Perreault: “Fish prepared “in the Jewish manner” was sold on the streets of London on any given day. And at the end of the week, eating fish on Friday was a part of religious observance for Jews and Christians alike—as “fish fasting” to avoid consuming warm-blooded animals has been a part of the Catholic tradition for centuries. But the Friday-night tradition was likely chipless until the late-19th century. The general popularity of the potato bloomed late in Europe, and it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the tuber was accepted, due especially to the promotional efforts of a French scientist.”[AtlasObscura]

More than 50 years on, central London Jewish deli Gaby’s is to close — by Harriet Sherwood: “Gaby’s Deli, a landmark Jewish cafe serving salt beef and falafel in the heart of London’s theatreland for more than half a century, is to close at the end of this month… The deli’s proprietor, Gaby Elyahou, an 82-year-old Iraqi Jew, is to retire and his nephew, Menachem Kojman, 72, who helps to run the cafe, has concluded that he can no longer battle against the march of chain restaurants dominating the West End of London… Customers include the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the actor Matt Damon and the director Mike Leigh.” [TheGuardian]

BIRTHDAYS: Australian billionaire, philanthropist and long-time chairman of Westfield Corporation, owner of shopping malls across the globe which he sold in June 2018, Frank Lowy turns 88… Founder and national director of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) of the Orthodox Union,Rabbi Pinchas Stolper turns 87… EVP and chief professional officer of the Orthodox Union since 2014, he was previously chairman of NYC-based law firm Proskauer Rose, Allen Fagin turns 69… Actor who starred in many high-grossing films such as Jurassic Park, Independence Day and sequels of both of those, Jeff Goldblum turns 66… Partner at SKDKnickerbocker and an on-air CNN political analyst, she was the long-time CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, Hilary Rosen turns 60…

Bethesda, MD resident and AIPAC staffer (not the Hillel president), Eric Matthew Fingerhut turns 48… Chief of Staff of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Michelle Gordon turns 47… Former VP in the NYC offices of West End Strategy Team and then Marathon Strategies, Samantha Kupferman turns 35… Dana Tarley Sicherman turns 33… Journalist and writer, he covered New York City Hall and national politics for the New York Observer (2013-2016), he ran for NYS Senate in 2018, Ross Barkan turns 29… Reporter and columnist for The Jewish Journal and Tribe Media, Ryan Torok

Kafe Knesset for June 19

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Israel woke up to the exciting news of a Jared Kushner visit later…

Kafe Knesset for June 16

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Against the backdrop of right wing discontent with the limitations placed upon settlement…

Kafe Knesset for June 15

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Trump, Israelis, Palestinians – and the settlers: The US special envoy, Jason Greenblatt,…

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on the Early Days of Dad’s Company, Maccabiah Games

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts talked with renowned financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein about the company he helped build with his father Ralph, his early life experience, as well…

Kafe Knesset for June 14

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Secretary Tillerson’s statement that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has changed its policy of…

Kafe Knesset for June 13

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Tensions on the southern border continue to exacerbate: On Sunday evening, the security cabinet…