Jun
8

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Daily Kickoff: Unique instructions for Bibi’s flight crew | Why Bernie won’t endorse his son’s campaign | George Soros and the Triple Crown

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Brian Stelter reports — CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61: “Anthony Bourdain, the chef and gifted storyteller who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61. CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.”

Flashback to 2013 — Bourdain reveals Jewish heritage during show in Israel: “Focusing on what he called “the most contentious piece of real estate in the world,” Bourdain used the episode to reveal his own Jewish heritage: “I’ve never been in a synagogue. I don’t believe in a higher power,” he told viewers. “But that doesn’t make me any less Jewish, I don’t think.” During the show, Bourdain puts on tefillin by the Western Wall, takes a walking tour of the Old City with famed international chef Yotam Ottolenghi, eats a meal with an American-born settler, chats with members of the first all-Palestinian race car team in Ramallah, and eats fire-roasted watermelon and other Palestinian foods in Gaza.” [ToI]

RUDY ON THE ROAD — Palestinian Authority is a “renegade group; terrorists and thieves.” — Rudy Giuliani referring to the Palestinian Authority’s success in pushing the Argentinian national team to cancel friendly match in Jerusalem during in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “You don’t let terrorism frighten you into not doing what you already agreed to do.”

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem was important “for the same reason it would have been important for Argentina to go through with this game. There was only one reason not to move the embassy: fear. America, the greatest military power on earth, should not be affected by fear.” [JPost]

CAVEAT — Pompeo: Giuliani doesn’t speak for administration — by Kevin Liptak and Sophie Tatum: “I know Rudy. Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes to this [North Korea] negotiation and this set of issues,” Pompeo said Thursday when asked about Giuliani’s comments [in Israel]… “I took him as being in a small room and not being serious about the comments,” Pompeo said during a briefing at the White House. “I think it was a bit in jest. We are focused on the important things.”[CNN]

Giuliani Speaks for Trump. Except When He Doesn’t — by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Giuliani also ventured into Middle East peace as Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has developed a plan to resolve the decades-old dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians… The former mayor told Israeli reporters that he had seen Mr. Kushner’s secret peace plan and that it made “all the sense in the world.” But Mr. Giuliani called The Wall Street Journal afterward to say he only knew what had been in news reports. “I have not seen any secret plan or been told about one,” he said. “I based my comments on the publicly available discussion of the plan.” [NYTimes]

Giuliani discussed Bibi’s cigars at an event hosted by the OneFamily Foundation: “Cowards can’t protect people. So Donald Trump seeks his guidance from the soul of America. And I think your prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) does because he’s really — he may not like it when I say it, he’s really an American. He loves America, he knows American politics, as well I bet as I do. And my goodness they’re now torturing him because he loves cigars. I love cigars and I’ve had more than one with him and… so did Winston Churchill, by the way.” [Video]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — The Odd Instruction Given to the Crew on Netanyahu’s El Al Flight — by Yossi Verter: “In the past two years, since the eruption of criminal investigations against him, [Netanyahu] seems to have become a more frequent flyer than ever. His wife, Sara, always goes with him… On Monday, the couple left for Germany, France and England… The flight attendants were given a page of guidelines about how to comport themselves vis-a-vis the prime minister and his wife… Among the don’ts, one instruction stood out: Under no circumstances are you to address the prime minister directly. Every approach to him is to be made solely through his wife.”

“This anecdote will strike a chord with people knowledgeable about the history of the relations between Bibi and Sara. The two first met in the 1990s on an El Al flight. He was deputy foreign minister in the government of Yitzhak Shamir; she, a stewardess, “blonde with a bob haircut and shy eyes. The two exchanged a few words, no more,” as journalist Ben Caspit writes in his recently published biography of Netanyahu. “During a stopover at Schiphol Airport in Holland, the flight attendant left him a note with her name and phone number.” [Haaretz]

TRUMP DIPLOMACY — Donald Trump is undermining the rules-based international order: “The split with the Europeans makes co-ordinating pressure on Iran harder and creates a “major disconnect between the objective and the means,” says Martin Indyk… “For all those who say there’s no chance this can work, there’s a part of me that says: well, I wonder,” says Dennis Ross of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. A new alignment of interests between Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states helps. “If it’s properly handled there is a way to push back against the Iranians in the region,” says Mr Indyk.” [Economist]

Trump Says Abandoning Iran Deal Has Already Curbed Tehran’s Bad Behavior — by Mark Landler: “Iran is not the same country that it was a few months ago,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference… “They’re a much, much different group of leaders,” he concluded… Some experts, in trying to interpret Mr. Trump’s comments, pointed to Israel’s recent military strike on Iranian forces in Syria, the pullout of foreign companies from Iran, and the deepening woes of the Iranian economy as signs of how Iran’s position has weakened in the past few weeks. “Before we pulled out of the Iran deal, Iran’s leadership was arrogant and on the march,” said Mark Dubowitz… “What I think he means is that he’s cut them down to size.” [NYTimes]

UK now ‘far more likely’ to back Israel and Trump on Iran nuclear deal — by Lee Harpin: “The British government is now “far more likely” to side with Israel and President Trump against Iran following the meeting this week between Prime Minister Theresa May and Benjamin Netanyahu… Sources on Wednesday evening said Mr Netanyahu was left with “hope and belief” that the best chance of real success in breaking continued support for the Iranian deal was with Britain… One Israeli diplomat insisted: “There’s certainly a feeling that Britain is currently the weakest link in the European resistance to Trump’s policy.” [TheJC]

TALK OF THE REGION — Deal With Turkey Threatens Trump’s Iran Strategy — by Eli Lake: “On June 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, appeared to reach an understanding that U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters and political leaders would pull out of the [Syrian town of Manbij]… A deal between the U.S. and Turkey on Manbij is important because the Turks had threatened to attack the city if Kurdish militias didn’t leave. At the same time, the deal could undermine the Trump administration’s goal of working with allies to roll back Iran’s presence in the Middle East… The threat from Turkey could force the Kurds who fought against the Islamic State to seek their own peace with the Assad regime, jeopardizing Trump’s Iran strategy.” [BloombergView]

Can Voters Bring Down Turkey’s Erdogan? — by Borzou Daragahi: “Muharrem Ince… is the main opposition candidate running against Turkey’s longtime leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for president of Turkey… In contrast to his usual energetic, combative image, the 64-year-old Erdogan appears tired and easily flustered on the campaign trail… In Ince, the president has met a worthy opponent, a streetfighter who’s 10 years younger and has roots in the same rough Black Sea town of Rize that Erdogan’s family comes from.” [DailyBeast]

Key figures in Gulf crisis sever ties with Qatar — by Ben Schreckinger: “Joey Allaham, a Syrian-born restaurateur and entrepreneur who had been helping Qatar make politically useful investments and curry favor with the American Jewish community, told POLITICO that he has recently cut ties with the country… His defection comes at the same time that another top Qatari agent, Nick Muzin, a former adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is also stopping work for the wealthy monarchy.”

“Efforts by Allaham, who is Jewish, included outreach to prominent American advocates of Israel, including Alan Dershowitz, an informal Trump adviser, and Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America… Dershowitz and Klein both traveled to Qatar in January to discuss improved relationships with the Jewish community, a move that stoked controversy in Israel and among American Zionists… In a further blow to Qatar’s diplomatic efforts, Klein on Wednesday backed away from any rapprochement, reiterating his condemnation of the country. “I’ve lost confidence that they’re at all serious about changing,” he told POLITICO… Allaham told POLITICO that he would register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for the work he performed for Qatar.” [Politico]

A DAY EARLIER… Elliott Broidy to Get Information in Case Against Qatar — by Bob Van Voris and Caleb Melby: “A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that Joey Allaham… must turn over any records showing ties to the government of Qatar. Broidy claims Allaham worked as an unregistered agent for the Middle Eastern nation and has ties to one if its lobbyists, Nicholas Muzin… U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan gave Allaham 72 hours to comply.” [BloombergWSJ]

DRIVING THE DAY — Israel and Hamas Take Steps to Avoid War After Violent Cycle — by Felicia Schwartz and Abu Bakr Bashir: “The demonstrations are set for the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan… Still, appeals to protest by Gaza’s rulers, the militant and political group Hamas, are more subdued. The loudspeaker announcements and posters imploring Gazans to gather at the border fence… have largely been absent this time. For their part, Israeli officials said the military would bring more nonlethal equipment to confront any violent protesters. Israel’s military also said it also dropped leaflets in the Gaza Strip warning residents not to approach the border’s security fence.” [WSJ]

— “Some of the Palestinians protesting as part of the “March of Return” will display Holocaust-themed clothes, including a striped uniform representing the garb Jews were forced to wear in Nazi camps. The protest’s organizers say that the theme is intended to send a message that the Palestinians are not responsible for the Holocaust, yet they pay the price for it.” [Haaretz]

Israeli Video Portrays Medic Killed in Gaza as Tool of Hamas — by Herbert Buchsbaum: “The tightly edited video shows a woman identified as the medic, Rouzan al-Najjar, throwing what appears to be a tear-gas canister… In a second scene, according to the video, Ms. Najjar tells an interviewer, “I am here on the front line and I act as a human shield.” … The video… did not try to make the case that Ms. Najjar’s actions provided a justification for her shooting. Rather the clip… appeared to be part of the battle over her story’s narrative and an effort to chip away at Ms. Najjar’s image of fresh-faced innocence.” [NYTimes]

STARTING SUNDAY IN JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, foreign diplomats, and Knesset Members are expected to address the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Global Forum kicking off on Sunday through Tuesday in Jerusalem.

ON THE HILL — Kenneth Marcus, who founded the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, was approved by the Senate as the next Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education for Civil Rights along party lines (50-46).

2018 WATCH — The Most Powerful Conservative Couple You’ve Never Heard Of — by Stephanie Saul and Danny Hakim: “Few political donors are as influential, yet little known, as Liz and Dick Uihlein. The Midwestern couple has joined the upper pantheon of Republican donors alongside names like Koch, Mercer and Adelson. They have spent roughly $26 million on the current election cycle, supporting more than 60 congressional candidates, working outside the party establishment to advance a combative, hard-right conservatism, from Washington to the smallest town.” [NYTimes

Sheldon Adelson: the casino mogul driving Trump’s Middle East policy — by Chris McGreal: “Adelson’s influence has never been greater. The imprint of the 84-year-old’s political passions is seen in an array of Donald Trump’s more controversial decisions… Daniel Levy, a former member of Israeli negotiating teams with the Palestinians and policy adviser to the then Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, said that Adelson’s money had helped resurface neoconservative policies which had been discredited after the US invasion of Iraq.” [TheGuardian

Senator Bernie Sanders hasn’t endorsed his son in N.H. Congress run — by James Pindell: “Sanders has refrained from endorsing Levi Sanders in his only son’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for a New Hampshire congressional seat… Levi Sanders seemed to take his father’s firm stand on the sidelines with good humor when contacted by the Globe… “You know I’m not Bernie’s son. I’m the son of Larry David’s fourth cousin,” he quipped in a brief conversation, referring to the distant blood tie between the comedian and the senator.”

“Bernie Sanders provided a statement to the Globe… “Levi has spent his life in service to low income and working families, and I am very proud of all that he has done,” he said. “In our family, however, we do not believe in dynastic politics. Levi is running his own campaign in his own way.”” [BostonGlobe]

Virginia US Senate candidate previously paid anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim figure for fundraising list” by Andrew Kaczynski: “During his failed primary bid for Virginia governor in 2017, Republican Corey Stewart paid far-right commentator Paul Nehlen $759 dollars as a “fundraising commission,” in May… Video surfaced earlier this week of Stewart praising Nehlen in January 2017… The Washington Post reported earlier Thursdaythat Stewart said he no longer considers Nehlen a hero. “That was before he went nuts and started spewing a bunch of stupid stuff,” Stewart told the Post.” [CNN]

“As Keith Ellison Leaves Congress, One Likely Replacement Faces Criticism for Anti-Israel Views” by Armin Rosen: “One potential candidate who may replace Ellison is Minnesota state Sen. Ilhan Omar, the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker and a declared candidate for the August 14th vote… If elected, Omar appears likely to continue Ellison’s approach to Israel, if not intensify it… In late 2012… Omar… tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” … Omar spoke forcefully against Minnesota’s anti-BDS law on the floor of the state Senate and once suggested that the University of Minnesota should divest from State of Israel bonds.” [Tablet]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Stormy Daniels’ ex-attorney rips former client and her new lawyer in countersuit that includes Cohen” by MJ Lee and Scott Glover: “Keith Davidson, the lawyer who formerly represented adult film star Stormy Daniels, filed a defamation claim Thursday against Daniels and her current lawyer, Michael Avenatti, as well as a separate claim against Michael Cohen… for allegedly illegally recording phone calls with Davidson.” [CNN]

“With Keith Davidson Talking to the Feds, Michael Cohen Faces Growing Pressure” by Emily Jane Fox: “There is a sense among Cohen’s inner circle that he is exasperated and without allies in Washington, despite what some read as the hidden message in Trump’s recent pardons… Cohen did not see the presidential pardons and commutations Trump issued last week as a signal that Cohen would get his own pardon, or that he should stay strong and not agree to cooperate with investigators. “Those people he pardoned had been convicted and already served time,” one of these people said. “That’s not at all the same thing.” … Cohen, who once vowed he would “take a bullet” for Trump, declined to comment. His e-mail signature no longer identifies him as the personal attorney for the president.” [VanityFair]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Glencore Faces New Legal Challenge Against Congo Cobalt Mine [Bloomberg] • Carl Icahn Squeezes a Better Deal From AmTrust [Barrons] • Activist investors back plan for companies to limit quarterly guidance [NYPost• Warren Buffett tells Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon: “I’m a big believer in the Israeli economy.” [Pic]

SPOTLIGHT — One NYC Developer, Two Projects and $3.4 Billion of New Condos — by Oshrat Carmiel: “New York developer Ziel Feldman is unleashing about $3.4 billion worth of new condos onto the Manhattan market, at prices that guarantee him an exclusive buyer pool — and lots of competition. He’s listing 95 units at the Belnord, a century-old Upper West Side building getting an overhaul by architect Robert A.M. Stern, where the cheapest three-bedroom apartment will cost $5 million. He’ll also start sales for the 236 condos at the Eleventh, rising near the High Line park in Chelsea with a futuristic design by Bjarke Ingels. Two penthouses there are tagged at $70 million apiece, a purchase price that would set a downtown record.” [Bloomberg]

Real estate tycoons, musicians mingle at Domino Park preview — by Ian Mohr: “Real estate moguls and rockers alike mixed at the preview of Two Trees Management’s Domino Park on the Williamsburg waterfront Wednesday night… At the event were developer of the park, Jed Walentas and his father, Two Trees founder David Walentas, Eliot Spitzer and Larry Silverstein. Also spotted were Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner… and NPR host Ira Glass.” [PageSix]

TALK OF THE VALLEY — How to talk about God in Silicon Valley — by Oliver Staley: “There’s a strong current of belief in Silicon Valley, but it’s not in organized religion. The San Francisco Bay Area is among the least religious regions of the US, according to the Pew Research Center, with only 42% of adults saying they believe in God with absolute certainty (compare that to 71% in Atlanta). Traditional religion in the Bay Area is being replaced with another sort of faith, a belief in the power of technology and science to save humanity. It’s a creed that says poverty and disease are simply programming challenges yet to be solved, bad code to be debugged.There’s a reason technologists use words like “evangelist” and “mission” to talk about themselves and their work.” [Quartz

SPORTS BLINK — A Secretive Owner of Triple-Crown Contender Justify: George Soros — by Melissa Hoppert and Matthew Goldstein: “If the strapping chestnut colt Justify wins the Belmont Stakes on Saturday to become just the 13th horse in history to claim horse racing’s Triple Crown, two of the three groups that have an ownership stake in the horse’s breeding rights will be front and center during the celebration… A third group, a secretive entity that holds the remaining 15 percent, will remain out of the spotlight because it vigorously avoids any public attention. It is a company controlled by top employees of the billionaire investor George Soros. Mr. Soros’s connection to Justify, which was not previously reported, has garnered little notice in the sport despite the horse’s rousing success in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes because his group tries to operate almost invisibly.” [NYTimes]

— Last Year: “After attending race growing up, Baltimore-raised owner Seth Klarman soaking in Preakness victory” [BaltimoreSun]

TRANSITION — Lahav Harkov, the Jerusalem Post Knesset reporter and one-time Kafe Knesset contributor, has been moved to the position of News Editor of the Jerusalem Post and Managing Editor of the online site.

DESSERT — There’s A Kosher Cheese Pop-Up In SoHo Now — by Shira Feder: “If you’re a food adventurer, tantalized by the notion of chasing cheese to the far ends of the SoHo area… put on your detective trench-coat and track The Cheese Guy down to his small, temporary SoHo popup at449 Broadway near Grand Street, inside Broadway Market Co. No official end date is in sight for this pop-up. The cheeses are all certified OU or OK.” [Forward]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Bat Shlomo 2014 Chardonnay — by Yitz Applbaum: Over the years I have found, somewhat counter-intuitively, that drinking Chardonnay in cool weather helps to bring out the floral nature of the grape. However, to enjoy a Chardonnay on a minus-five-degree day while in Saint Petersburg, Russia during Passover, requires a really bold, thick-skinned, hearty Chardonnay. The Bat Shlomo 2014 Chardonnay is just what the doctor ordered.

This Chardonnay is quite meaty. It starts out with a zesty punch which will make you pucker. By the time this wine gets to your mid-palate, you are tasting green apples which practically ripen on your tongue. The finish coats your whole mouth with creamy butter, all without the traditionally Californian vanilla or oak. This wine makes for a very memorable experience. The wine is aged in new French oak for 10 months. This wine goes brilliantly with stinky blue cheese, or, if you are in a brave mood, spicy aged salami (although obviously either one, not both). [BatShlomo]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYComedian and actor, Jerry Stillerturns 91… Hebrew University mathematics professor and Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Aumann turns 88… Partner in the Cincinnati-based law firm of Aronoff, Rosen & Hunt, he was a member of the Ohio State Senate (1967-1996), Stanley J. Aronoff turns 86… Founder of the Family Dollar Stores chain of discount stores in 1959, he remained chairman and CEO until 2003, Leon Levine turns 81… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil turns 76… South African businessman and philanthropist, formerly the Chairman of De Beers, Nicky Oppenheimerturns 73… Hedge fund founder and manager, Selwyn Donald Sussmanturns 72… Detective novelist Sara Paretsky turns 71… The Juilliard School’s classical pianist, teacher and performer, Emanuel Ax turns 69… Community affairs coordinator at UCLA’s Leve Center for Jewish Studies, Mary Enid Pinkerson turns 67… Member of Knesset since 2015 from the Zionist Union party, professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yona turns 65… Principal at Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based O2 Investment Partners, Robert Harris (Rob) Orley turns 63… Journalist, stand-up comedian, author, cartoonist, blogger and occasional commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Aaron Freeman turns 62… Assistant Vice President for Campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazinturns 57… Lead director of UK-based L1 Energy, co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets turns 55… Winner of many Emmy and SAG awards, star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies turns 52… Actor and screenwriter, he is married to the sister of baseball executive Theo Epstein, Daniel Paul “Dan” Futtermanturns 51… Former Congresswoman, survivor of an assassination attempt near Tucson in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords turns 48… Actor who starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” Mark Feuerstein turns 47… Deputy Chief of Staff for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli turns 39… Rabbinic fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Jewish Emergent Network at DC’s historic Sixth & I Synagogue, Suzy Stone turns 38… Businesswoman, art collector Dasha Zhukova turns 37… Denver-based chief marketing officer at Layer3 TV, Eric J. Kuhn turns 31… Offensive tackle for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, his Hebrew name is “Mendel,” Mitchell Schwartz turns 29… Michael Fishberg

SATURDAYStandup comedian Jackie Mason turns 90… Journalist for 30 years at CBS, Marvin Kalb turns 88… Retired Israeli diplomat who served as ambassador to Italy and France and World Chairman of Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal, Aviezer “Avi” Pazner turns 81… Author, journalist, lecturer and social activist, founding editor of Ms. Magazine, mother of identical twin daughters, Robin Pogrebin and Abigail Pogrebin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin turns 79… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Maurice of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Charles Saatchi turns 75… Diplomat, Pentagon official, political writer, policy analyst, Shakespeare historian, Kenneth Adelman turns 72… Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network (a broker/dealer network) and chairman of Southworth Development (golf and leisure business), Joseph Deitch turns 68… Professional mediator, previously a syndicated advice columnist in many Jewish newspapers (1995-2006), Wendy J. Belzberg… Formerly Israel’s military attaché in DC (2005-09) who went on to become the IDF’s Chief of General Staff, Benjamin “Benny” Gantz turns 59… Producer, playwright and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin turns 57… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, an opposition research firm for political campaigns, Jeff Berkowitz turns 39… Jerusalem-born actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman turns 37… Online producer, writer and director, who together with his brother Benny, are best known for their React video series which has over five billion views on YouTube, Rafi Fine turns 35… Principal at DC-based Precision Strategies, Jeffrey Francis (Jeff) Solnet turns 26… Serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies, Daniel Fine turns 25… Deputy press secretary for VPOTUS Joe Biden during most of his second term (2014-2017), Stephen Spector… Craig Appelbaum

SUNDAY: Author of award-winning books about her experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, Aranka Davidowitz Siegal turns 88… Emmy Award-winning TV journalist who has worked for CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and PBS, he is the author of 13 books, Jeff Greenfield turns 75… Strategic communications director at the Generation to Generation program powered by Encore[dot]org, Stefanie “Stef” Weiss turns 60… Former Attorney General and then Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer turns 59… President of Skokie-based Pharmore Drugs, Avi H. Goldfeder turns 59… Film, television and stage actress, singer and author, Gina Gershon turns 56… Melbourne native, now Associate Vice President of strategic partnerships at the Birthright Israel Foundation and director of community education at NYC’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Rabbi Daniel Kraus turns 37… Executive director of NYC-based Encounter Programs, Yona Shem-Tov… Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner newspaper, Dovid Efune… Cathy Miller

Jun
7

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Daily Kickoff: Bibi on BBC declares the Iran deal dead | Rudy Giuliani’s viral dance at Machneyuda | BHL’s new play | BDays: Les Crown, Wendy Sherman

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WORN OUT? — “Chuck Todd touts mock ‘cure’ for Trump news fatigue” by Joe Concha: “NBC and MSNBC host Chuck Todd touted a mock cure for news fatigue on “Meet the Press Daily” on Wednesday by offering up a fake pharma commercial for a faux drug Oblivia that warns against taking if suffering from “POTUS.” The sketch comes as Pew Research found in a pollreleased Tuesday that nearly 7 in 10 Americans “feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days.” “The Trump presidency has just consumed the news cycle as well as all of the oxygen in the room,” Todd said.” [TheHillVideo]

WHERE’S JOHN? — “Bolton takes back seat, but remains looming North Korea summit presence” by Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom: “While the hawkish [John] Bolton – who has adopted a lower-key approach in recent days – is expected to be in Singapore for the talks on Tuesday, Pompeo has taken the lead as the administration assumes a softer tone towards Pyongyang ahead of the summit… Trump… has not frozen Bolton out on North Korea and he remains a key player… Bolton… has “taken the hint” to assume a lower profile and is mindful that his earlier clashes with Pyongyang could cause problems that should be avoided.” [Reuters]

“National Security Adviser John Bolton has yet to convene a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit with North Korea next week, a striking break from past practice that suggests the Trump White House is largely improvising its approach to the unprecedented nuclear talks.” [Politico]

“With rival camps in his inner circle, Trump’s ideas on North Korea have evolved” by Tracy Wilkinson: “Inside the Trump administration, a camp opposing Bolton had been gaining traction. Some advisors worried the president had set unattainable goals, and that he might agree to a deal in Singapore… that could be potentially dangerous to U.S. interests. Senior State Department officials feared Bolton was setting Trump up for failure.” [LATimes]

TOP TALKER — “Three European allies ask U.S. not to enforce secondary sanctions over Iran trade” by Karen DeYoung: “France, Britain and Germany warned the Trump administration in a letter released Wednesday that “as close allies,” they expect the United States not to enforce secondary sanctions against their companies doing business with Iran… The letter sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, comes as Trump prepares to meet with leaders of the three European governments… at the Group of Seven summit on Friday… Senior European officials have acknowledged that they are not optimistic about receiving such U.S. waivers.” [WashPost]

“Foreign leaders who embraced Trump now feel burned” by Matthew Nussbaum: “Foreign leaders are learning that hand-holding, golf games, military parades and other efforts to personally woo President Donald Trump do not guarantee that Trump won’t burn them on key policy issues… Some world leaders are reaping the benefits of flattery. Saudi Arabia rolled out the red carpet for Trump during his spring 2017 visit and has seen unprecedented support from the U.S. The same largely goes for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What makes the difference, [a] former official said, is that those regimes take a transactional approach… And Trump was already largely in agreement with those countries before his election.”[Politico]

“Europe under pressure as Iran ‘nears nuclear red line'” by Clare Byrne and Eric Randolph: “French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Iran on Wednesday that its plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity took it close to a “red line.” …  “The Iranians must realize that if they violate the accord they will face new sanctions,” he told Europe 1 radio. A spokesman for the German foreign ministry also described the plan as “not helpful at this time” saying it did not “contribute to the building of trust, in which Iran should also have an interest.”” [YahooNews]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweets“We’re watching reports that Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity. We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran is aware of our resolve. It’s another example of Iran foolishly squandering its resources. It should surprise no one if protests in Iran continue.”

BIBI ON THE BBC — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is not seeking to persuade European powers to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran because it is already “dead” adding “because of the force of the economic sanctions of the United States” that would be reinstated in the coming months. [BBC]

HEARD THIS MORNING — Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu touting the American economy as leverage at the Policy Exchange think tank in London: “If you are a European company or an Asian company or any company and you have to choose whether to do business with Iran or forgo doing business with the United States, you have to choose an economy that is about 3% the size of the American economy or you forgo an economy with 21 trillion dollars GDP, that’s a no brainer… My impression is that everybody understands the economic realities.” 

“I’ve done very well with U.S. presidents, those I agree with and those I disagreed with. The main disagreement with Obama was on Iran and I was quite forthright about it. There is no disagreement between President Trump and me on Iran, and I appreciate that very much.” [ITVVideo]

— “Netanyahu on Gaza Protesters: Israel Tried Non-lethal Methods, but Hamas Wants Them to Die” by Noa Landau: “We tried water cannon, we tried tear gas and none worked… Given our record, we probably will figure out something. The last thing we want is violence [or] confrontation.” When an audience member pressed Netanyahu on this issue, the premier said: “We tried other ways, it doesn’t work. Hamas wants them to die.” [Haaretz]

Israeli official says European leaders agree Iran troops must be removed from Syria: “A senior diplomatic official on Wednesday told Israeli reporters the leaders of France, Britain, and Germany have reached a “general agreement” regarding the removal of Iranian forces from Syria… Netanyahu also spoke to journalists in London, telling them “my main goal was to bring international agreement that Iran would leave Syria.”” [ToI]

REPORT — Netanyahu Offered Syria Four-way Land Exchange Deal in 2009, Former Aide Says” by Jonathan Lis: “According to [Uzi] Arad, Netanyahu offered in talks mediated by the United States an international land swap that would have allowed most of the Jewish towns in the Heights to remain in place… The plan… would have had Jordan give Syria land along their shared border that would be equivalent in area to land Israel would retain in the Golan Heights. Saudi Arabia would give Jordan a 10-kilometer strip of land south of Aqaba and would get a similar area of land from Jordan along their shared border. Jordan endorsed the idea, but it was never presented to the Saudi government.” [Haaretz]

“Schachter steps down as PM’s foreign policy advisor” by Herb Keinon: “Jonathan Schachter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser, will be stepping down after serving nearly seven years in the Prime Minister Office… Schachter, who immigrated from Chicago, took over as Netanyahu’s top foreign policy adviser after Ron Dermer was appointed as ambassador to the US in 2013… No replacement has yet been named.” [JPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago: In the first two decades since Israel’s establishment, “we didn’t have any kind of strategic relationship with the United States. On the contrary, we had the moral support of some political leaders like Harry Truman, like Sen. [Robert] Wagner, Hubert Humphrey. It was different figures… But we did have the support of Jewish communities in this country, and those were very difficult times for Israel… You supported us with money, you supported us with money to buy arms to defend ourselves. In those two decades when no one else was here for Israel, and we were literally fighting for our lives, you were here for Israel, and your parents and grandparents were here, and the first thing I want to tell you is thank you; thank you for that. And now we are in a different place in the world, we are a rising power… It’s a remarkable story, and you were there when this story didn’t exist and you helped make that story happen.”

Dermer on the Iran deal debate in 2015: “I don’t think people were on the other side of that issue — no one here in this room wants any harm to come to Israel. I hundred percent believe that. I believe that when President Obama said that he thought that deal made America safer and made Israel safer, I think he was being sincere, and I will say it now even when he is not President of the United States. I just believed then and believe now that he was wrong. We saw this deal then – and we see this deal – as a threat to the survival on the State of Israel. Not the security of the State of Israel, but the survival the State of Israel, which was why it was so important to the Prime Minister to come and speak about an issue that touches on the survival of the State of Israel. Remember that 75 years ago Jewish people did not have a voice, and now we do, and one of the things about having a voice is to use it on critical, existential issues for your country, and we did.”

— Dermer tossed the first pitch at Chicago’s Wrigley Field yesterday: After last month’s pitch at Nationals Park, Dermer quipped “2 Balls, 0 Strikes, Who’s Next?”  [Video]

SPOTTED IN JERUSALEM — “Rudy Giuliani… found some time to visit Mahane Yehuda, an open-air marketplace in the center of Jerusalem. At a restaurant there, he was filmed on camera dancing to the Major Lazer song “Watch Out For This” with a few female patrons, and whipping a cloth napkin over his head.” [VideoBusinessInsider]

— Asawin Suebsaeng tweets“Just had Giuliani on the phone for something completely unrelated, and asked him about the video; he laughed and said “yea that was great” lol.”

MUELLER WATCH — “Ivanka Trump Was In Contact With A Russian Who Offered A Trump-Putin Meeting” by Anthony Cormier, Jason Leopold and Emma Loop: “During the campaign, [Ivanka] connected her father’s personal lawyer with a Russian athlete who offered to introduce Donald Trump to Putin to facilitate a 100-story Trump tower in Moscow… There is no evidence that Ivanka Trump’s contact with the athlete — the former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov — was illegal or that it had anything to do with the election… But congressional investigators have reviewed emails and questioned witnesses about the interaction… and so has special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.” [BuzzFeed]

“Israeli firm under FBI scrutiny in Trump probe allegedly targeted BDS activists” by Simona Weinglass, David Horovitz and Raphel Ahren: “Psy-Group, a mysterious Israeli company that is reportedly being investigated by the FBI in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe… was also involved in covert anti-BDS efforts, according to a lawsuit against the company… It briefly asserts that the Psy-Group operative who registered the outlawbds website went on to hire one “Amin Razvi (‘Razvi’), an individual residing in India,” to carry out work related to outlawbds.com.”[ToI]

THIS WEEK’S PRIMARY RESULTS — “The year’s biggest day of primaries left Jewish incumbents (mostly) safe” by Ron Kampeas: “The Wednesday snapshot for Jewish voters: Jewish incumbents appear safe for the most part, and the fretting about a far-right incursion into Republican precincts is overstated — but not entirely put to rest… The one Jewish incumbent who could face difficulties is Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat in northern New Jersey’s 5th District, who unseated a seven-term Republican in 2016. Gottheimer, who was uncontested in the primary, is a freshman in a district that could well swing right again.” [JTA]

“Sara Jacobs Hopeful Mail Ballots Will Put Her in 49th District Runoff” by Chris Jennewein: “Congressional candidate Sara Jacobs told supporters Wednesday morning that she remains hopeful of being in a runoff as “tens of thousands” of mail ballots remain to be counted in San Diego and Orange counties… The winner of the runoff in the 49th District will succeed Rep. Darrell Issa, who announced his retirement from Congress earlier this year.” [TimesofSanDiego]

“Democrats Luz Rivas and Jesse Gabriel elected to Assembly from San Fernando Valley” by Kevin Modesti: “Gabriel, an attorney, outdistanced Justin Clark, a 19-year-old Cal State Northridge student, with 63.9 percent of the vote to 36.1 percent in the other runoff in the 45th District to complete the term of Matt Dababneh, who also stepped aside in late 2017.”[DailyNews]

Big spending by George Soros, liberal groups fails to sway D.A. races in California: “California voters appeared to reject liberal challengers in three closely watched district attorney races… Incumbent district attorneys in Sacramento, San Diego and Alameda counties led by large margins… The elections… garnered national attention this year after a consortium of wealthy liberal donors, headlined by New York billionaire George Soros, pumped millions of dollars into the races.” [LATimes]

“Menendez’s Grip on Senate Seat Loosens After Punishing New Jersey Primary” by Elise Young:“[Lisa] McCormick… was an underfunded political unknown yet managed to draw 38 percent of the vote Tuesday… The narrower-than-expected margin of Menendez’s win suggests that some Democratic voters aren’t happy with the senator.” [Bloomberg]

** 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: How WeWork became the most hyped startup in the world [Wired] • Marcus, Casper, Oscar: Why Startups Are Obsessed With Human Names [Bloomberg• Bill Ackman can thank ADP, Chipotle for his comeback [NYPost] • Sam Zell Uses Vulgarity While Saying He Promotes Women on Merit [Bloomberg] • Israel’s Zebra raises $30m from billionaires Nacht, Kahn for x-ray reads [ToI] • Israeli firm Gazit-Globe invests about $40M in Brooklyn shopping center [TheRealDeal] • NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer and wife list Malibu home for $125M amid split [NYPost Joshua Steiner, head of industry verticals at Bloomberg, is leaving the company at the end of June [TBN]

STARTUP NATION: “The Hybrid and Gaza Sky Geeks are helping Arab-Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs overcome adversity” by Jonathan Shieber: “The billions of capital and transformational opportunity that building startups affords to economies has largely been denied entrepreneurs in Israel’s Arab community and in Palestine. However, two organizations in the country and in the violence-stricken Gaza strip are working to provide access. One is The Hybrid, an Israeli government-backed initiative out of Nazareth that is trying to bring the benefits of the tech economy to Israel’s Arab population. The other is Gaza Sky Geeks, an Alphabet-backed initiative based in Gaza…” [TechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT: “In Brilliant New Play, Bernard-Henri Lévy Takes On the Follies of Brexit” by David Patrikarakos: “One of the world’s greatest philosophers lies soaking wet. The famous open necked white shirt—as ever unbuttoned almost to the waist—is plastered to his chest. Bernard-Henri Lévy is splayed out in a freestanding white bathtub on a stage surrounded by just under 1,000 people who have just gasped in shock. The perennially elegant Lévy has—for the briefest of moments—stepped out of character. Last Exit Before Brexit is many things: a play, a monologue, a piece of performance art, but above all it is a cri de coeur from a deeply European man to a recalcitrant Britain. And it is a powerful one. For Lévy, Brexit—the UK’s decision, taken in a referendum last year, to exit the European Union—was a colossal mistake, one that will damage not just Britain but the EU itself.” [TabletMag]

“The surprising history of “God Bless America,” the patriotic hymn Trump might have forgotten” by Julie Zauzmer: “The song was written by an immigrant. Irving Berlin arrived in New York at age 5 as Israel Baline, the son of a cantor fleeing persecution of the Jews of Russia. During World War I, Berlin wrote “God Bless America.” The title was a phrase his immigrant mother fervently repeated during Berlin’s childhood, his daughter later said. Berlin decided to cut the song from the revue he wrote it for initially. It did not debut on the radio for another 20 years. When it did, the backlash began almost immediately. A Jewish immigrant, critics said, should not get to celebrate this country as his.” [WashPost]

SPORTS BLINK — “NBA commissioner encourages players to keep “speaking out for their values”” by Haley Britzky: “NBA Commissioner Adam Silver voiced support for players to continue “speaking out on issues that are important to them,” before Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Earlier this week the leaders from each team, Steph Curry and LeBron James respectively, explained that they would not attend the traditional White House celebration to honor the championship team if invited.” [Axios] • Dan Gilbert appears to tweet and delete shot at NBA referees with box score [YahooSports]

“Argentina match cancellation leaves Israeli fans frustrated” by Ania Bessonov and Ruty Korotaev: “Thousands of Israeli soccer fans were left disappointed after the Argentinian national soccer team announced on Tuesday that they are canceling their scheduled exhibition match against Israel… “We knew the Palestinian opposition to hosting the game in Jerusalem would happen,” said 21-year-old IDF soldier, Liron Artuz. “But we didn’t think it would actually affect them enough to cancel because so much money was put into it. People are actually really surprised and very disappointed… People love the Argentinian national team and Messi is one of the biggest names – not just as an athlete, but one of the biggest names in Israel… Every kid in Israel goes to school with a Messi backpack.”” [JPost]

View from Argentina: “In the streets of Argentina’s capital some people… focused their ire on the management of the national soccer team. “Not that we needed it but it again showed how the management of Argentine football is a huge mafia,” said Lorena Quiroga, a 40-year-old small business owner. “All they care about is money, not the players.” There was also concern the matter would upset the psyche of players ahead of the World Cup… “This will really bring down the team’s enthusiasm at a time when they should be focused on the game,” said Gustavo Taboada, a 25-year-old electrician.” [NYT]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “Councilman wants to host gender-segregated beach days” by Rich Calder and Nolan Hicks: “A Brooklyn lawmaker is renting a government-owned beach to host two gender-segregated swim days this summer for his Jewish and Muslim constituents. But since the beach would normally be closed those two days, City Councilman Chaim Deutsch says he’s hopeful of avoiding a fight over the separation of church and state at tax-funded facilities. “I have a lot of Orthodox Jewish and Muslim constituents in my district who have never been able to go to the beach before,” the Brooklyn Democrat told The Post.” [NYPostDailyNews]

TRANSITION — American Jewish University names Dr. Jeffrey Herbst as President: In a statement released Jun 6, AJU said that Herbst’s appointment was unanimous. The decision came 10 months after Robert Wexler stepped down from the position last September. [JewishJournal]

DESSERT: “Israelis Play Tourists in a Bedouin Town in the Negev” by Isabel Kershner: “For $28, the six-hour Ramadan Nights trip promised a guided bus tour of “the secrets” of Rahat, as well as traditional debka dancing and sweets-making workshops, shopping in the no-frills market and home hospitality for iftar… Amit Larom, 41, deals in American real estate and came from a village between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with his wife, Hadas, and their 5-year-old son. He said he had taken the tour “to experience a bit of Ramadan.”” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Prominent Chicago-based businessman, reported to own large stakes in General Dynamics, Maytag, Hilton Hotels, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Bulls, among many other companies, Lester Crown turns 93… Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence turns 59… Developer of the cardiac defibrillator and other cardiovascular innovations, he also won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in nuclear disarmament, Bernard LownMD turns 97…  Former five-term Democratic Congressman from California (1983-1993), he now serves as President of the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners, Mel Levine turns 75… Senior Counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group, previously Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (2011-2015) and lead negotiator of the Iran nuclear agreement, Wendy Ruth Sherman turns 69… Senior Advisor in the Office of Inspector General at the US State Department, he earned a Ph.D. in political science in 1981 from Yale, Hillel N. Weinberg turns 66… Director of voice, creativity and culture at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Isaac Luria (born Isaac Goldstein) turns 35… Managing editor of The New Yorker, Emily S. Greenhouse turns 32… Actress and model, Emily Ratajkowski turns 27… Andrea Gonzales

Jun
6

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Daily Kickoff: Inside Jan Koum’s expensive split from Facebook | Nick Muzin no longer representing Qatar | Uproar over Argentina’s ‘friendly’ snub

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PODCAST PLAYBACK — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and author James Patterson discuss their new novel, The President is Missing, in which a fictional president fights a cybersecurity attack amid intense political dysfunction, on Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast.

Bill Clinton on researching the cyber field: “One of the things that surprised me, half of all the private capital on planet Earth going into private sector cyber defense was going to Israel. And I know the Israelis have been working on this for a long time, it started off when they were worried about, this was years ago, just the elemental threat of cell phones as terror weapons and it’s continued.” [HBR]

TRENDING — “A Growing List of U.S. Diplomats Acting Undiplomatically” by Gardiner Harris: “This week, Richard Grenell, the newly installed United States ambassador in Berlin, outraged some in Germany when he told Breitbart London that he wanted to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe,” a direct political threat to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition… Last week, David M. Friedman, the ambassador to Israel, told an Israeli newspaper, “There’s no question Republicans support Israel more than Democrats,” making an explicitly partisan argument that is generally forbidden among ambassadors… There is nothing new about ambassadors making unfortunate remarks. But the growing list of top envoys who have provoked controversy even in posts of close allies, where diplomatic duties largely include party-giving and anodyne cheerleading, has been unusual — and, for the Trump administration, potentially perilous.” [NYTimes]

“Merkel ally downplays irritation with new US ambassador” by David Rising: “A leading member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party downplayed irritation with the new U.S. ambassador, suggesting that outspoken opinions from the appointee of President Donald Trump are just something to get used to.” [AP]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert on the recent comments made by Grenell and Friedman“Ambassadors have a right to express their opinion. They’re representatives of the White House, whether it’s this administration or other administrations, and we hear them voicing their opinions. And they’re sometimes opinions that people may or may not like. And there is a right to free speech as well… We’re not supporting any political party. That’s not what we do. We support democracy. We support countries figuring out for themselves who they want to vote in for office. I think what Ambassador Grenell was doing was merely highlighting that there are some parties and candidates in Europe who are doing well right now.”

— “Representative Eliot Engel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, responded that ambassadors should keep their personal opinions to themselves. “If a foreign ambassador tried to get involved in American politics, I’d want to see that person on the next flight home,” he said. “This is the second time in as many weeks that an American ambassador has gotten too involved in politics,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. I hope Secretary Pompeo either convinces these officials to abide by the norms of diplomacy or finds replacements who will do so.” [NYT]

“Jilted Democrats fume over Trump-Netanyahu lovefest” by Bryant Harris: “There is clearly a political electoral wedge being driven by Republicans, and I think President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu are contributing to that,” Ron Klein, the chairman of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, told Al-Monitor… Republicans counter that Democrats are unwilling to acknowledge the embassy relocation as a victory for a president they disdain. Pressure from their base, they say, has caused pro-Israel Democrats to lash out at Friedman as a channel for their frustration. “It’s tough for them to separate their pro-Israel attitudes from their attitudes when it comes to Republicans and the president,” Neil Strauss, the digital director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Al-Monitor.” [Al-Monitor]

“American Muslims on Trump’s iftar: Thanks, but no thanks” by Daniel Burke: “On Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s White House will host its first iftar, the sundown meal that breaks fasts during the holy month of Ramadan… But many American Muslims say they are reluctant to break bread with Trump, citing the President’s rhetoric and actions toward Muslims and other religious and racial minorities. Many American Muslims said they suspect Trump’s iftar is aimed at placating the country’s allies overseas, rather than making genuine connections with their community, with whom the president has had a troubled relationship.” [CNN]

NEW THIS AM — Lobbyist Nick Muzin tweets: “Stonington Strategies is no longer representing the State of Qatar. I am proud of the work we did to foster peaceful dialogue in the Middle East, to increase Qatar’s defense and economic ties with the United States, and to expand humanitarian support of Gaza. I look forward to speaking out in the days ahead about the challenges we faced and what more needs to be done. #AmYisraelChai”

“Embattled Qatar Is Rich Enough to Get By for Another 100 Years” by Mohammed Sergie: “It’s been a year since Saudi Arabia and three of its Arab allies hit Qatar with an economic embargo over ties to Iran and the alleged funding of terrorism. To listen to the Saudis, the embargo has been a great success… Not exactly. The country’s imports and exports are up, according to the International Monetary Fund. Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita thanks to massive reserves of natural gas, is on track to post a budget surplus in 2018.” [Bloomberg]

IRAN DEAL — “Secret Obama-era license let Iran tap dollars” by Josh Lederman and Matt Lee: “The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that under President Barack Obama, the Treasury Department issued a license in February 2016, never previously disclosed, that would have allowed Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman from Omani rials into euros by exchanging them first into U.S. dollars… The effort was unsuccessful because American banks — themselves afraid of running afoul of U.S. sanctions — declined to participate… Issuing the license was not illegal. Still, it went above and beyond what the Obama administration was required to do under the terms of the nuclear agreement.”[AP]

HAPPENING TODAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street to discuss “how best we can prevent [Iran] from developing a nuclear weapon.” Yesterday, after meeting with Netanyahu in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of ‘escalation’ with Iran and reiterated his opposition to Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. Macron also claimed that the Jerusalem Embassy opening provoked the deadly Gaza border protests last month. “If this leads to people dying it’s not a celebration,” he said. Netanyahu, on his part, told reporters that he did not ask France to withdraw from the Iran deal because “I think it is basically going to be dissolved by the weight of economic forces.” Instead, the Israeli leader said, his focus was “to stop Iranian aggression in the region.” Macron said he shares Netanyahu’s concerns over Iran’s presence in the region.

William Galston writes… “Bibi Is Bent on Taking On Iran Alone: Sometime soon, President Trump will likely face a raft of fateful decisions. Will his administration, which has aligned with Mr. Netanyahu on issue after issue, give Israel the green light to attack Iran? If so, how much will it do to support this attack? If Iran’s retaliation targets America’s assets and allies, will the U.S. seek to contain the conflict or escalate it? Will U.S. aims expand to include regime change, which Mr. Trump’s national security adviser supports?” [WSJ]

Barak Ravid tweets“Netanyahu in first comment on Trump-Kim summit: I have enough to do with [the] denuclearization of one country (Iran) so I don’t want to get into this. President Macron & I spoke about North Korea. I wish Trump a lot of luck in his efforts to denuclearize North Korea.”

“As Trump Preps for Singapore, a Look at Past Summits That Succeeded—or Flopped” by Robin Wright: “Summitry can also fall short even when it initially succeeds. In 1978, Jimmy Carter hosted Prime Minister Menachem Begin, of Israel, and President Anwar Sadat, of Egypt, for twelve tense days at Camp David. The talks almost failed, but, in the final minutes, as the adversaries were preparing to leave, they embraced the idea of peace in the volatile Middle East and an Arab state formally recognized by Israel. Peace summits brokered by the United States since then have made limited progress, including two summits orchestrated by the first Bush Administration, in Madrid, in 1991, and by the Clinton Administration, again at Camp David, in 2000. (The one breakthrough, in 1993, which resulted in the Oslo Accords, was launched secretly by Norway.)” [NewYorker

ON THE GROUND — “In Syria, a Russian move causes friction with Iran-backed forces” by Laila Bassam and Tom Perry: “A Russian troop deployment in Syria near the Lebanese border this week caused friction with Iran-backed forces including Hezbollah which objected to the uncoordinated move… The situation was resolved on Tuesday when Syrian army soldiers took over three positions where the Russians had deployed near the town of Qusair in the Homs region… “Perhaps it was to assure the Israelis,” said [a military] commander.” [Reuters]

“Oren disputes Rhodes’ account of Israeli reaction to delaying Syria strikes” by Lahav Harkov: “[Michael] Oren, now Deputy Minister for Diplomacy, said that while he was not on the phone with Netanyahu and Obama during that conversation, what [Ben] Rhodes wrote does not reflect Israel’s position at the time… In fact, Oren said, he was so shocked by Obama’s decision, that he cut himself while shaving when he heard about it. “We were surprised and concerned,” he recalled.” [JPost] • Ben Rhodes on NPR’s Fresh Air [NPR]

Yair Lapid calls on the world to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights — by Hezki Baruch: “Speaking at a Knesset conference, Lapid said, “I turn from here to US President Donald Trump: After the courageous step you took for Israel, in recognizing Jerusalem as our capital and moving the Embassy – recognize Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights… The first thing the word needs to see is that when it comes to the Golan Heights, there’s no coalition and opposition in Israel.”” [Arutz7]

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro writes… “U.S. recognition of Israeli Golan Heights claim would raise hopes, pose risks: The U.S. and Israel might each have a reason to hold off on formal recognition. U.S. partners among the Syrian opposition generally ignore the Golan issue, but even those who detest Bashar al-Assad might feel forced to pledge fealty to the goal of recovering Syrian territory lost to Israel. And Israel’s highest strategic priority — gaining Russia’s assistance in pushing Iranian military elements out of Syria — could be threatened if Russia saw a U.S. Golan Heights declaration as unnecessarily humiliating to their client, Assad.” [Axios]

REPORT — PA warned Paris that Gaza border clashes financed by Iran: “Iran is fully financing and pushing the Hamas demonstrations,” Salman al-Harfi, the Palestinian ambassador to France, reportedly told a [French] government official. “The PA has no choice but to support the demonstrations because so may of the participants are demonstrating against the economic situation.” [ToINews10]

MUELLER WATCH — “Mueller was investigating Trump adviser as unregistered agent of Israel, his wife says” by Rosalind Helderman: “Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos… said the special prosecutor’s office claimed to have evidence that [George] Papadopoulos had worked on behalf of Israel without registering as a foreign agent while he was serving as an energy consultant… Papadopoulos… worked as a researcher for the Hudson Institute… and then as an independent energy consultant, before he was named as a volunteer foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign in March 2016. A person familiar with the Hudson Institute said no one from the think tank has ever been contacted by the special counsel’s office regarding Papadopoulos’s work there, including on Israel-related issues.” [WashPost]

Giuliani says Mueller’s team is trying to frame Trump: “[Rudy] Giuliani… says Wednesday in Israel that Mueller’s team includes “13 highly partisan Democrats … (who) are trying very very hard to frame him to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong.” Speaking to the Globes capital market conference in Tel Aviv, Giuliani says Trump has the power to pardon himself but won’t because he is innocent.” [AP]

“Kim Jong Un Begged for Summit ‘on His Hands and Knees,’ Giuliani Says” by Felicia Schwartz: “After Mr. Trump canceled the meeting, Mr. Giuliani said: “Well, Kim Jong Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in.” … Mr. Giuliani counseled a similar approach to Trump administration negotiations with Palestinian officials in a future Middle East peace process.” [WSJ]

STATE-SIDE — “New York Senate Passes Bill Banning Funds To Pro-BDS Individuals, Groups” by Ben Fractenberg: “State institutions are currently barred in New York from directly taking part in a boycott against allied countries, but the current bill, which still needs to pass the Assembly before going to the governor, would extend the ban to prevent contracts or investments to pro-BDS non-state entities.” [Forward]

** 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: David Tepper has gone full activist on healthcare giant Allergan [BusinessInsider] • Len Blavatnik’s Clal in talks to sell Taavura stake [Globes] • Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital Strikes Gold in GitHub Deal [Bloomberg] • Matt Murray Named Editor in Chief of The Wall Street Journal [WSJ] • Shari Redstone Weighs Options: Merge CBS and Viacom, Sell or Go Shopping? [HollywoodReporter]

SPOTLIGHT: “Behind the Messy, Expensive Split Between Facebook and WhatsApp’s Founders” by Kirsten Grind and Deepa Seetharaman: “How ugly was the breakup between Facebook Inc. and the two founders of WhatsApp, its biggest acquisition? The creators of the popular messaging service are walking away leaving about $1.3 billion on the table… The WhatsApp duo of Jan Koum and Brian Acton had persistent disagreements in recent years with Mr. Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who grew impatient for a greater return on the company’s 2014 blockbuster $22 billion purchase of the messaging app, according to the people.”

“In many ways, Facebook and WhatsApp couldn’t have been more different. Facebook from its beginning in 2004 leveraged access to user information to sell targeted advertising that would be displayed as people browsed their news feeds… It is also the antithesis of what WhatsApp professed to stand for. Mr. Koum, a San Jose State University dropout, grew up in Soviet-era Ukraine, where the government could track communication, and talked frequently about his commitment to privacy. Mr. Koum, 42, and Mr. Acton, 46, became friends while working as engineers at Yahoo Inc. The men are also close personal friends, bonding over ultimate Frisbee, despite political differences. Mr. Koum, unlike Mr. Acton, has publicly expressed support for Donald Trump.” [WSJ

“Dani Dayan roasts Dr. Ruth Westheimer at her birthday party” by Mara Siegler: “At the bash at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — where 350 guests toasted the diminutive doc — Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York, joked that [Westheimer] the chatty grandma asks every detail about people’s sex lives — including those of his driver and security detail. “The driver always blushes,” Dayan said. A film crew was on hand to tape the event for a documentary, “Dr. Ruth,” about her extraordinary life.” [PageSix]

HOLLYWOOD — “A first look at Hollywood’s ‘Operation Finale’” by Amy Spiro: “The first trailer for the upcoming Hollywood film Operation Finale was released this week, showcasing the dramatic retelling of the hunt for Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann… Isaac (Star Wars, X-Men) is joined in the film by the legendary Oscar winner Ben Kingsley , who plays Eichmann. Several famous Israeli faces also appear in the film, including Fauda’s Lior Raz, who will play Isser Harel, then-director of the Mossad, and Ohad Knoller (Srugim, Munich), who plays Mossad agent Ephraim Ilani. American actor Michael Aronov – who portrayed Israeli negotiator Uri Savir in the Broadway play Oslo – plays Mossad agent Zvi Aharoni in the movie.” [JPost

SPORTS BLINK — “Israel in uproar over Argentina pre-World Cup friendly snub” by Aron Heller: “The sports-crazed nation of Israel was in uproar Wednesday over Argentina’s abrupt cancellation of a World Cup warmup match following pro-Palestinian protests, with some of the country’s leaders accusing Lionel Messi and his teammates of caving to terrorism. Israel was eagerly awaiting the sold-out international friendly scheduled for Saturday night at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium and the arrival of some of the world’s best players… But after a fierce Palestinian campaign, which included images of Argentina’s white and sky-blue striped jersey stained with red paint resembling blood and threats to burn Messi posters, Argentina’s football federation announced it was skipping the event… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene, to no avail.” [AP]

— “For the BDS movement… the cancellation of the highly anticipated match is perhaps its biggest coup to date.” [WashPost]

DESSERT — “New kosher restaurant finds a fit in urban core” by Drew Dixon: “Ricki Ben Simon said she had long wanted to open a restaurant based on food prepared in the kosher tradition. Gili’s Kitchen Catering and Bakery at 126 W. Adams St. in Downtown Jacksonville is the embodiment of Ben Simon’s objective. “We want as many customers as possible,” Ben Simon said. “We are the kosher restaurant and the Jewish community is pretty big. So, there was a need for that.” [JaxDailyRecord]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives and now Vice Chair of investment bank Moelis & Company, Eric Cantor turns 55… Billionaire, art collector and philanthropist, the only person to create two Fortune 500 companies in two industries, Eli Broad turns 85… US District Court Judge since 1994, on senior status since 2005, serving in the Eastern District of New York, Frederic Block turns 84… Rabbi at Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa since 1967 (now emeritus), writer, broadcaster, activist and former co-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Rabbi Reuven Bulka turns 74… Real estate entrepreneur, member of the Pritzker family and executive chairman of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Thomas Pritzker turns 68… Diplomat who has served as Israel’s ambassador to South Sudan (2012-2014) and Egypt (2014-2016), Haim Koren turns 65… Two-time Tony Award winner for acting, also a playwright and voice actor, Harvey Fierstein turns 64…

Comedienne, political critic, musician and author, Sandra Bernhard turns 63… Radio news personality, she is currently employed by iHeartRadio WOR-AM in NYC, Lisa Glasberg (better known as “Lisa G”) turns 62… Israeli conductor and musician, Nir Brand turns 57… Managing Director and the Chief Interactive Strategist for The Glover Park Group, Jonathan Kopp turns 52… Best-selling author, journalist and television personality, she has focused on addiction and recovery as well as relationships, Anna Benjamin Davidturns 48… Writer and founder of the Washington Free Beacon, Michael L. Goldfarb turns 38… ABC News reporter, Katherine B. Faulders turns 27… VP at Black Rock Group, formerly press secretary for the Carly Fiorina campaign, Anna Epstein turns 27… Writer and digital editor in AIPAC’s DC headquarters, Allie Freedman… Steve Patner

Kafe Knesset for June 12

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Labor versus BB: NO: The Haaretz expose revealing a secret Netanyahu-Herzog-Sissi meeting…

Lawmakers Discuss Bolstering Financial Pressure Against Hezbollah

Friday, June 9, 2017

WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Thursday devoted to increasing the economic pressure against Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization which has fought multiple…

Kafe Knesset for June 9

Friday, June 9, 2017

Haley’s High Heels: After a private helicopter tour of the country’s borders yesterday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley kicked off her third day in Israel at a meeting this morning…

Cardin Expresses Skepticism Over House Bill Targeting Qatar for Hamas Support

Thursday, June 8, 2017

WASHINGTON – Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) expressed concern over a bipartisan House legislation that would sanction Qatar for its ongoing financial…

Lawmakers Express Increasing Concern for Qatar’s Support of Hamas

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

WASHINGTON– With Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE cutting diplomatic relations with Qatar earlier this week, Members of Congress highlighted the problematic nature of Doha’s longstanding backing of…

Kafe Knesset for June 7

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Queen Haley: Early this morning, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley…