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Ed note: With Rosh Hashanah beginning on Sunday evening, we would like to wish all JI readers a happy, healthy and productive New Year! The Daily Kickoff will be on holiday schedule the next few weeks. Shana Tova!
A TRUMPIAN ROSH HASHANAH CALL — President Donald Trump’s pre-High Holidays conference call with Jewish community leaders and rabbis featured two lawyers, a former U.S. Senator, and a group of Holocaust survivors. During the call, President Trump described U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to the group of Jewish leaders as “your Ambassador” and Israel’s peace negotiations with the Palestinians as “your negotiations.”
Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sat around the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office along with the host of the call, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
In a brief opening statement, Trump noted his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. He also acknowledged a group of Holocaust survivors, who were gathered at the office of New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind in recognition of the move to deport former Nazi guard Jakiw Palij to Germany.
The President then invited Friedman to deliver an update on the expansion of the new embassy in Jerusalem. “We have about 150 people working there already. We’re beginning phase two of the construction period, which is beginning in a week or two,” Friedman said. “And we will roughly double the size by June of 2019.” Friedman also noted that the embassy has become a “major tourist site” in Israel. “People come there almost every day. People just pull up their cars in front of the embassy, they get out, take pictures. I see some people praying there. I have actually seen many people crying there,” he said.
Opening up the call for questions, Trump gave Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz — who he described as a “terrific gentleman and a great lawyer” — the first opportunity to pose a question. “Should the Jewish community be optimistic that you could help bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict that we all pray for all the time?” Dershowitz asked, after praising Trump for moving the Embassy to Jerusalem. “I think the answer to that is a very strong yes — you should be,” Trump responded. RJC National Chairman Norm Coleman followed with a question about the Iran deal. [JewishInsider]
HIGHLIGHTS — “My connection to Judaism is also personal. I am the very proud father of a Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and my son-in-law, who I’m very proud of also — I will say that very loudly — Jared, and my several Jewish grandchildren, namely three beautiful Jewish grandchildren that I love.”
What price will Israel pay for Jerusalem move? “Now, does that mean Israel is going to do something that will be good for the Palestinians? Yes. What is it going to be? I can’t tell you.”
Trump on U.S. aid to the Palestinians: “The United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money. And I’d say, ‘You’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.’ And that’s going to have a little impact.”
On the Iran deal: “The Europeans are finally leaving… You know, they tried to play hardball for a little while but they’re now leaving and they’re doing the right thing.” [Transcript]
Celebrating the High Holy Days, Eric Garcetti-Style — LA Mayor Eric Garcetti discussed his Jewish faith, how he spends the High Holidays, and support for Israel in the Democratic Party in an interview with the Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok:
Q: Will you attend other synagogues over the High Holy Days?
Garcetti: “I’m going to be at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. I think for Kol Nidre, I’m going to be at Temple Aliyah. And we’re going to try to get to an Orthodox synagogue, B’nai David-Judea. And maybe, if I have time, go to the [Pico Union] Project. It’s great, it’s awesome. [It] makes me feel at home in a Latino neighborhood with Jewish practice and the strands woven in from the surrounding areas.”
Q: How do you feel about the wing of the Democratic Party that is anti-Israel?
Garcetti: “I think that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Democrats. I think they’re progressive Democrats who understand that sometimes the overly conservative politics of Israel don’t represent them, but it is a core part of who we are that Israel should be defended and she should be uplifted and our loyalty should be about improving her, not about abandoning her.” [JewishJournal]
DRIVING THE CONVO — Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist, was caught in yet another controversial comment that could be perceived as offensive to the Jewish community. In an interview with the Daily Beast yesterday, Bannon blasted the coverage of John McCain’s funeral, derisively referring to the events as the “High Holy Days.”
“It’s not just the coverage of it, but it’s also the way it was set up and the way it was crafted,” Bannon said. “This was the High Holy Days. This permanent political class, you saw them there at this funeral. This was High Civic Religion, the High Holy Days. Trump didn’t create North Korea. He didn’t create Afghanistan. He didn’t create Iran. He didn’t create Venezuela. That was all dumped on him by that crowd that was there.” [DailyBeast]
Playbook’s Jake Sherman tweets: “I don’t know if this is offensive to all Jews, but it’s offensive to this Jew, who will celebrate the high holy days next week.”
Edward-Isaac Dovere: “That thing where a guy who’s been suspected of fomenting white supremacist feelings and prodding Trump’s reaction to last year’s Nazi march in Charlottesville makes a joke off the upcoming Jewish holidays.”
Bannon used the same term last November, celebrating “the first anniversary of the high holy day of MAGA” during a speech at a Michigan Republican Party dinner:
Errol Morris Defends Controversial Steve Bannon Documentary — by Brent Lang: “American Dharma” premiered this week at the Venice Film Festival to largely positive reviews. It will screen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival… Bannon was eager to participate in the project when Morris first pitched him on the idea… [Morris] was unnerved by Bannon’s characterization of French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron as a “little Rothschild banker.” “I’m a Jew, there’s no secret about that,” said Morris. “I don’t like to think I’m overly sensitive to anti-Semitic remarks, but there was something about the way that Bannon said it that made me sit upright. Macron was indeed a Rothschild banker [before entering politics] but the use of that expression in that context wasn’t just a dog whistle to racists. It’s a whistle whistle.” [Variety]
TRUMP DIPLOMACY — Trump Administration Pressures Paraguay to Move Embassy to Jerusalem — by Cristina Maza: “Vice President Mike Pence spoke yesterday with President Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay to discuss Asuncion’s recent announcement to delay the official move of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Vice President strongly encouraged President Abdo Benitez to follow through with Paraguay’s previous commitment to move the embassy as a sign of the historic relationship the country has maintained with both Israel and the United States,” a White House statement read. The statement went on to say that “President Abdo Benitez underscored Paraguay’s lasting partnership with Israel and the leaders agreed to work towards achieving a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [Newsweek]
— Paraguay president calls Israel’s embassy move ‘exaggerated’: “I regret Israel’s decision. The reaction of closing the embassy was a little exaggerated and we urge authorities to reconsider it,” Abdo Benitez said at a news conference… He said Paraguay would “stick to international law and the United Nations’ resolution that still considers it a territory in conflict” between Israel and the Palestinians.” [ABCNews]
Trump Rewrites Rules of the Game in Middle East Peace Talks — by David Wainer: “By coming in and unilaterally rewriting the rules of the game, the Trump administration is removing itself from the role of mediator,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former U.S. State Department diplomat… “Many of these steps don’t make sense if you try to square them with an effort to reach a solution to the conflict.” [Bloomberg]
— Listen to Jason Greenblatt’s interview with The Land of Israel Network [TheLandofIsrael]
— U.S. Ambassador David Friedman released a humorous Rosh Hashanah video in which he searches for a small jar of honey that went missing during the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. [YouTube]
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a surprise visit to a family seated around the Rosh Hashanah table to list off his achievement over the past year. [Video]
TRANSITION: Salam Fayyad, former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, has joined the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy (CMEP) as a distinguished fellow. [Brookings]
WHITE HOUSE PROMOTION: Avi Berkowitz has been promoted to Deputy Assistant to the President and Advisor to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner. Berkowitz previously served as Special Assistant to the President and assistant to Kushner.
GONE VIRAL: Jared Kushner waited for a full two minutes outside locked doors at the offices of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for NAFTA negotiations. Kushner ignored shouted questions from reporters assembled on the street. [Video]
— Ken Vogel tweets: “Hey, it’s Jared. I’m outside. Can someone let me in? … Jared KUSHNER, the president’s son-in-law … I’m here for the NAFTA negotiations … Can someone unlock the door? … There are reporters out here asking me about the op-ed, & it’s getting awkward.”
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — It Wasn’t Me: Pence, Pompeo and a Parade of Administration Officials Deny Writing Op-Ed — by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Eileen Sullivan: “The writer’s use of the word “lodestar” sent some looking for those who had been known to use the word in public utterances. Since former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said “honor was John’s lodestar” in his eulogy at Mr. McCain’s funeral, that again made some wonder if it meant the author had been present. Among the advisers to Mr. Trump who were at the funeral were John F. Kelly, the chief of staff; Jon Huntsman, the ambassador to Russia; Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer; [John] Bolton; and [Dan] Coats, as well as Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” [NYTimes]
— “In Oval Office huddles Thursday, White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and senior adviser Jared Kushner, among other aides, tried to convince the president that he could trust them and others in his inner circle. They argued that the author was probably a lower-level employee.” [WashPost]
Donald Trump Agreed Jared Kushner Shouldn’t Serve in White House: Woodward Book —by Jessica Kwong: “In his forthcoming book… Bob Woodward writes that then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus “decided to escalate, make a big play” of a June 15, 2017, Washington Post story with the headline, “Special Counsel Is Investigating Jared Kushner’s Business Dealings.” … “He told Trump that Jared should not be in the White House in an official capacity.” Trump would normally ignore or dismiss such attacks on Kushner, Woodward wrote. “This time he paused, slowed down, and became reflective. He looked at his chief of staff,” the book stated. “The response was jarring, so different.” “You’re right,” Trump is quoted saying.” [Newsweek]
IRAN DEAL WATCH — U.N. nuclear watchdog chief undergoes medical procedure — by Francois Murphy: “The head of the U.N.’s nuclear inspectorate [Yukiya Amano] has undergone an unspecified medical procedure and will not return to Vienna, where the agency is based, for roughly a month… Amano’s treatment comes at a sensitive time, since the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Iran accord in May… Amano will also miss one of the busiest periods of the year for his agency. In addition to a quarterly meeting of its 35-nation Board of Governors next week, it is due to hold an annual meeting of all its member states the following week.” [Reuters]
2018 WATCH — An Arrest? An Affair? Keith Hernandez? Just Another Day in the Julia Salazar Campaign — by Jesse McKinley: “In the latest twist in the Zelig-like story of Julia Salazar — born-again democratic socialist, would-be immigrant and actual New York State Senate candidate in Brooklyn — news broke on Thursday of her 2011 arrest involving a dispute with the ex-wife of the former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez. The charge? Attempted identity theft… The revelations only added to the snowballing, stranger-than-fiction tale of Ms. Salazar, whose insurgent campaign has been buffeted by a series of articles outlining discrepancies in her personal biography.” [NYTimes; Tablet]
RACE TO WATCH NEXT TUESDAY — Levi Sanders, the son of Senator Bernie Sanders, and Maura Sullivan, a former Defense Department official in the Obama administration, are among 11 candidates competing in a Democratic Party primary for the open seat being vacated by Shea-Porter (D) in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Aryeh Bourkoff interviews Take-Two interactive CEO and ZMC Founder Strauss Zelnick on his KindredCast podcast [SoundCloud] • Ashton Kutcher dishes on what it takes to make it in Silicon Valley [Pitchbook] • Groupon founder Eric Lefkofsky reportedly buys $31 million Florida penthouse [CrainsChicago] • Real Estate Investor Edward Minskoff Giving $30 Million To Michigan State [AP] • Daniel Loeb’s Third Point aims to Replace Campbell Soup’s Entire Board [WSJ] • Carl Icahn Still Opposes Dell Deal on Valuation Concerns [Bloomberg]
‘The Cakemaker’ Wins Israel’s Best Picture Award, Becomes Its Oscar Submission —by Amy Spiro: “German-Israeli film “The Cakemaker” won best picture at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Thursday evening, an accolade that automatically makes it the country’s submission to the foreign-language film category at the Oscars. The film was written and directed by Ofir Raul Graizer, an Israeli who lives in Berlin… On Thursday, “The Cakemaker” picked up five other Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, including best screenplay, best director and best actress.” [Variety]
SPORTS BLINK — New Hall of Fame exhibit tells story of catcher-spy Moe Berg: “The Baseball Hall of Fame has opened a new exhibit on Moe Berg, the major league catcher-turned-spy whose story was the subject of a Hollywood film released this summer… The New York City-born son of Russian-Jewish immigrants was an Ivy League graduate who played more than 660 games over 15 seasons for the Dodgers, White Sox, Indians, Senators and Red Sox… The exhibit chronicles his athletic and espionage exploits through his baseball artifacts and wartime documents.” [AP]
ACROSS THE POND — Labour Members Want To Know How Iran’s Press TV Was Able To Live-Tweet A No-Confidence Vote Against A Pro-Israel MP — by Mark Di Stefano: “On Thursday night, the social media accounts for the UK arm of Press TV posted images and footage to Twitter and Facebook showing local members from the Enfield North CLP meeting narrowly passing a motion against Labour’s Joan Ryan. It comes as Labour party leadership attempts to deal with accusations of antisemitism from prominent members of the British Jewish community… The chair of the Enfield North CLP is now demanding an investigation into the breach… Joan Ryan – who’s considered a Labour moderate and chairs the parliamentary party’s Labour Friends of Israel group – narrowly lost a no confidence motion against her 92-94.” [BuzzFeed]
“I survived the Warsaw ghetto. Here are the lessons I’d like to pass on” by Stanislaw Aronson: “Now 93 years old and living in Tel Aviv, I have watched from afar in recent years as armchair patriots in my native Poland have sought to exploit and manipulate the memories and experiences of my generation. They may think they are promoting “national dignity” or instilling “pride” in today’s young people, but in reality they are threatening to raise future generations in darkness, ignorant of the war’s complexity and doomed to repeat the mistakes for which we paid such a high price. But this is not just a Polish phenomenon: it is happening in many parts of Europe, and our experiences hold lessons for the whole continent.” [TheGuardian]
DESSERT — The $5 Kosher Falafel On The Lower East Side — by Shira Feder: “As Jewish food takes a turn towards the Middle Eastern, falafel shops are sprouting up all over town… One such shop is Falafix, a newly kosher certified shop. where everything on the menu is under $5.” [Forward]
With few GW options, students struggle to keep kosher: “When Meir Lesches arrived on campus his freshman year, he didn’t realize that his biggest struggle would be finding something to eat. Lesches, now a sophomore, has always followed a strict kosher diet – but a lack of on-campus kosher options caused him to lose 30 pounds last year, he said. There are just five kosher-friendly vendors on GWorld – a shortfall Lesches said made him consider transferring to schools with “stronger” kosher choices, like New York University.” [GWHatchet]
BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Palm Beach, Florida resident, the school at the Westchester (NY) Jewish Center bears her name, Beverly Cannold turns 93… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, he was a managing director of Marks and Spencer, Baron Andrew Zelig Stone turns 76… Political columnist for Time Magazine and author of the novel “Primary Colors,” Joe Klein turns 72… Color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts along with John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman turns 72… Billionaire owner and CEO of Gristedes Foods,John Catsimatidis turns 70… Pulitzer Prize winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, now Director of Literary Journalism at UC-Irvine, Barry Siegel turns 69… Minneapolis area school counselor and language arts teacher, Sandra Sevig turns 69… Chairman of the Mathematics Department at UCSD, Efim Zelmanov turns 63… Global co-chair of the Israel practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins, Stuart Kurlander turns 56…
Bahraini Ambassador to the US (2008-2013) after four years in the Bahraini Parliament (2005-2008), Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo turns 54… Associate professor at George Washington University, author, lecturer, and community scholar of Manhattan’s Jewish Center, Dr. Erica Brown… Award-winning special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of four best-selling books (book topics include John Paulson, fracking and athletes overcoming challenges), Gregory Zuckerman turns 52… Screenwriter, producer and director of many successful films and TV shows, Alex Kurtzman turns 45… Author of two New York Times best sellers and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon turns 45… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Shomrei Emunah since 2010, Rabbi Binyamin Marwick turns 41… Contributing Editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, previously National Political Editor at the Washington Post, Maralee Schwartz… Executive assistant at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Karen McCormick…
SATURDAY: Billionaire and philanthropist, owner of L Brands, Leslie H. “Les” Wexner turns 81… United States Senator from Vermont and 2016 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders turns 77… Born in Egypt to Jewish refugee parents from Europe, she is a Labour party member of the UK House of Commons since 1994 and a harsh critic of Jeremy Corbyn, Dame Margaret Eve Hodge (née Oppenheimer) turns 74… Pharma executive Samuel D. Waksal turns 71… Chairman of Douglas Elliman and its parent company, NYSE listed Vector Group, also chairman of Nathan’s Famous, Howard Mark Lorber turns 70… Billionaire owner of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie turns 67… Born in Casablanca, made aliyah in 1962, he was co-chair of the Jewish National Fund (2012-2017), and was previously a member of Knesset for the Likud (2003-2005) and then the Kadima party (2005-2012), Eli Aflalo turns 66… CEO of Weight Watchers since July 2017, Mindy Grossman turns 61… British physician, neuroscientist and engineer, Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Daniel Wolpert turns 55…
Billionaire, born in Azerbaijan (then part of the Soviet Union), he is reported to be the most successful real estate developer in Russia owning many luxury hotels and shopping centers, Zarakh Iliev turns 52… Australian businessman and philanthropist, James Douglas Packer turns 51… Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, PA, Rabbi Andrea Merow turns 49… Aspen, Colorado resident, Adam Goldsmith turns 49… Founder in 2010 of Atlanta-based JewishGPS, LLC, designed to help guide Jewish organizations in a variety of aspects of Jewish education, Robyn Faintich turns 45… Principal and co-founder of Berlin Rosen, Jonathan Rosen turns 40… Yale University graduate, Gabby Deutch… and her twin sister, a graduate of Vanderbilt, Serena Deutch, daughters of Congressman Ted Deutch, both turn 22… The Jewish Agency’s Gilad Peled… Jay Abarbanel… Philip Ehrensaft…
SUNDAY: President of Israel since 2014, Reuven Rivlin turns 79… Orlando real estate investor and manager, Harris Rosen turns 79… Commentator Daniel Pipes turns 69… Fourth president of Yeshiva University (2003-2017), Richard Joel turns 68… A founder of the Shas party, previously Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem (1983-1998) and a member of Knesset (1999-2015), Nissim Mordechai Ze’ev turns 67… Founding president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, Martin Kramer turns 64… Editorial director of Schocken Books (the Judaica imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is part of Penguin Random House), Altie Karper turns 62… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Shari Arison turns 61…
CFO since April 2017 of New Science Ventures, Lloyd Eric Appel turns 55… Actor Adam Sandler turns 52… Born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, he made aliyah in 2004 and served in the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party (2013-2015), Dov Lipman turns 47… Global lead at McKinsey & Company’s public and social sector practice advanced analytics group, Sacha Frédéric Litmanturns 45… Founder of the Silverstein Group, Rustin Silverstein turns 42… SVP of Tiedemann Wealth Management since August 2017, Michael B. Greenwald turns 35… Startup founder Ben Lang… Beverly Hills resident, Barbara Schechter… Suzy Stone…
MONDAY: CEO of Shamrock Holdings, he has served in leadership roles on the boards of Walt Disney Company, Tadiran, USC, HUC-JIR and the LA Jewish Federation, Stanley Gold turns 76… Founder and CEO of NYC-based hedge fund JS Capital Management LLC, he is the son of George Soros, Jonathan Soros turns 48… Director of the Mid Atlantic Region of Agudath Israel, Ariel Sadwin turns 43…
TUESDAY: Founder and president of Appaloosa Management, new owner of the Carolina Panthers, David Tepper turns 61… CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mark Dubowitz turns 50… Journalist Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt…
SCENE LAST NIGHT — Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda hosted Jewish leaders, diplomats, journalists and members of Congress in a tent on the front lawn of their Chevy Chase, Maryland for an annual Rosh Hashanah reception.
“From my vantage point as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, it is hard to imagine a better year than the past year,” Dermer began his remarks, highlighting President Trump’s decisions to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
Dermer also paid tribute to the late Senator John McCain, whom he described as “a great friend of Israel and a great champion” of the U.S.-Israel alliance. “One of the things I personally found most admirable about Senator McCain was that he was a fierce fighter who knew the difference between an adversary and an enemy,” Dermer added.
Dermer concluded his remarks with a message of unity: “The Jewish people are a very big tent. In fact, we have always been a very big tent. We began as twelve tribes. And in fundamental ways, we are still many tribes. Look around you. In this tent are people across the political, ideological and religious spectrum. Democrats and Republicans. Liberals and Conservatives. Reform and Orthodox. As for views on Israel, I suspect if I put a ballot box by the door, nearly every party in the Knesset would get a healthy share of the votes. But we should always remember that despite our differences, we are still one people. My hope for the coming year is that as we all continue to fight for what we believe in, we remember that those inside the tent are not enemies. Rest assured, there will always be plenty of enemies outside the tent.” [Pic]
SPOTTED: Wolf Blitzer, Jane Harman, Marty Baron, Ann Lewis, Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Ted Deutch, Gabby Deutch, Rep. Brad Schneider, Rep. Lee Zeldin, Rep. David Kustoff, Ron Klein, Elliott Abrams, Sam Feist, Danielle Feist, Jason Greenblatt, Martin Indyk, Stu Eizenstat, Leon Wieseltier, Howard Berman, Henry Waxman, Joe Kristol, Mark Dubowitz, Cliff May, Evan May, Jonathan Schanzer, Michael Tuchin, Rabbi David Saperstein, Mort Klein, William Daroff, Heidi Krizer Daroff, Lily Daroff, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
Richard Heideman, Phyllis Heideman, Paul Berger, Rabbi Jonathan Schnitzer, Ellen Hershkin, Mira Resnick, Harold Luks, Nathan Diament, Sarah Stern, Paul Teller, Harold Rhode, Jonny Fluger, Amir Tibon, Aaron Keyak, Steve Rabinowitz, Adam Kredo, David Bernstein, Matt Nosanchuk, Boris Epshteyn, Lauren Tanick, Joel Mowbray, Karen Paikin Barall, Allan Barall, Josh Kram, Mark Hetfield, Mark Levin, Jason Isaacson, Stacy Burdett, Omri Ceren, David Weinberg, Susie Turnbull, Omri Nahmias, Israel Maimon, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, Josh Lederman, Miriam Smallman, and Vivian Bass.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted yesterday: “I received a call this morning from the Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu. I appreciate the Prime Minister for calling today to express his condolences on the passing of Sen. John McCain… I enjoyed working with Senator McCain to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. This work will never stop and my commitment to Peace through Strength remains steadfast.”
TODAY AT 12:15 PM: President Donald Trump will hold a High Holidays conference call with Jewish community leaders and rabbis.
— Headline: “Last-minute invite appears to treat White House call with rabbis as an afterthought” [ReligiousNews]
FIRST LOOK — The New Republic asked 12 writers to address the relationship between American Jews and Israel: “Many American Jews now report that their position on Israel has become either ambivalent or outright negative. What does this mean for Israel’s role in American Jewish identity? The New Republic asked a dozen thinkers for their reflections on the evolving relationship between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora in America. Here are their thoughts, personal and political.” [NewRepublic]
Dennis Ross on Israel’s Prerogatives; Joshua Cohen on Israel’s Season of Discontent; Michael Koplow: Fraught Relationship, Fated Bond; Ruth Margalit on the Perils of the Ultra-Orthodox Alliance; Theodore Ross: Who’s Afraid of Criticizing Israel?; Talia Lavin: A Memoir of Disillusionment; Jeremy Ben-Ami: Don’t Give Up; Jacob Bacharach: A Homeland in America; Gideon Levy: What Israel Needs From American Jews; Elisheva Goldberg: The intersectional Jewish America; Batya Ungar-Sargon on Two Ways of Being Jewish; Yehuda Kurtzer: The Deep Sources of a Great Divide.
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — White House Searches for Anonymous Inside Critic — by Michael Bender: “White House aides launched a search for the anonymous author of an opinion column who claimed Wednesday to be part of a secret group of officials inside the administration acting as a check on President Trump’s “worst inclinations.” … The writer was identified only as a senior administration official… Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.)… told reporters Wednesday night that the op-ed wasn’t a surprise to many officials. “This is what all of us have understood to be the situation from Day 1,” Mr. Corker said.” [WSJ]
— “Trump reacted to the column with “volcanic” anger and was “absolutely livid” over what he considered a treasonous act of disloyalty… According to one Trump friend, he fretted after Wednesday’s op-ed that he could trust only his children.” [WashPost]
Woodward’s Reality Bomb Is Blowing Up the West Wing — by Gabriel Sherman: “Two sources said Trump is particularly angry with former economic adviser Gary Cohn… “He hates that people are leaking. They think they can take things off the Resolute desk because of this idea they’re ‘saving’ the country,” one senior West Wing official said… One source said Cohn called up his former colleagues to ask them how he came off in the book. “Gary wanted to make sure he didn’t compromise himself that much,” a source who spoke with Cohn said.”
“Even Trump’s family is concerned the president is in deep trouble. After attending John McCain’s funeral, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump told Trump he needs to get control of himself. A person briefed on the conversation recalled, “Jared told him if they’re going to last in Washington they can’t be this far off the mark with the establishment.” [VanityFair]
Another passage from Woodward’s book — by Tom Mccarthy: “Jared Kushner made a few stabs at brokering a deal on immigration reform with congressional leaders, Woodward reports, and he seems to have waded into, and then mostly out of, Middle East policy. But Kushner’s main role in the campaign was to help make spending decisions for his father-in-law, to which the answer was almost always “no”, according to Fear. “He doesn’t have a lot of cash,” Kushner is quoted as saying.” [TheGuardian]
CFR’s Richard Haass tweets: “In Woodward book, Egypt’s Sisi says “Donald. I’m worried about this investigation. Will you be around?” Now he, others are reading the anon op-ed. So we have uncertainty about Donald Trump future combined with uncertainty over the present. US cannot be effective in the world.”
REPORT: The White House is discussing potential replacements for Jim Mattis — by Josh Rogin: “The speculation about who replaces Mattis is now more real than ever,” said a senior White House official who was not authorized to speak about internal matters. “The president has always respected him. But now he has every reason to wonder what Mattis is saying behind his back. The relationship has nowhere to go but down, fast.” [WashPost]
#CHUTZPAH — Iran accuses Trump of ‘bullying’ other countries into anti-Tehran stance: “Iran’s foreign minister has accused Donald Trump of trying to hijack the United Nations security council for the purposes of “bullying others” to turn against Tehran… “There’s only one UNSC resolution on Iran … Donald Trump is violating it & bullying others to do same,” Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter. “Now he plans to abuse presidency of SC to divert a session – item devoted to Palestine for 70 yrs – to blame Iran for horrors US & clients have unleashed across (Middle East) #chutzpah.”[TheGuardian]
— Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan tweets: “You know, Mr. Zarif? It’s always that way. You start hashtagging Hebrew words. Then you suddenly find yourself singing #HavaNagila in the shower. Then wearing a #KovaTembel. And here we are: you became a #Zionist! Welcome (or best ברוך הבא) to the club!”
Outcry from Israel after Paraguay moves its Jerusalem embassy back to Tel Aviv — by Oliver Holmes: “Paraguay has reversed a decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after just three months, prompting anger from Israel which responded by shuttering its embassy in Asunción and recalling its ambassador… Former president Horacio Cartes personally inaugurated the new diplomatic site… However, Paraguay’s new president, Mario Abdo Benítez, who took office last month, reviewed the choice and his foreign minister told reporters on Wednesday that the decision had been changed.” [TheGuardian; Newsweek]
Israel’s top court says West Bank village can be demolished — by Aron Heller: “Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for the demolition of a Bedouin village in the West Bank… The court rejected an appeal to block the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar… The United Nations, the European Union and others have expressed concern over the fate of Khan al-Ahmar, which is just east of Jerusalem.” [AP]
US ambassador believes Golan will be ‘part of Israel forever’ — by Ariel Kahana: “In an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom… [David] Friedman says that “I can’t imagine a circumstance where the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria. I cannot imagine, frankly, a circumstance where the Golan Heights is not a part of Israel forever…” Friedman stressed that the Trump administration may consider official recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory in the future.” [IsraelHayom; NYTimes]
— Martin Indyk tweets: Yet again US Ambo in Israel decides to change US policy. Does @jdgreenblatt45 (Jason Greenblatt) agree or is the Ambo freelancing?
Hussein Ibish writes… “Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Makes Palestinians Disappear: If Trump and Kushner really imagine that stripping Palestinians of their claims regarding Jerusalem and refugees will coerce them into abandoning any aspirations for independence and first-class citizenship, they’re in for a surprise. But if they’re just trying to set up a pretext for castigating the Palestinians as the party that “said no to peace,” it’s a sound stratagem.” [BloombergView]
ON THE GROUND — In Secret Program, Israel Armed and Funded Rebel Groups in Southern Syria — by Elizabeth Tsurkov: “Israel secretly armed and funded at least 12 rebel groups in southern Syria that helped prevent Iran-backed fighters and militants of the Islamic State from taking up positions near the Israeli border in recent years… The military transfers, which ended in July of this year, included assault rifles, machine guns, mortar launchers and transport vehicles… Israel also provided salaries to rebel fighters, paying each one about $75 a month… The payments, along with the service Israel was getting in return, created an expectation among the rebels that Israel would intercede if troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad tried to advance on southern Syria. When regime forces backed by Russian air power did precisely that this past summer, Israel did not intervene, leaving the rebel groups feeling betrayed.” [ForeignPolicy]
SCOTUS WATCH — Kavanaugh stumbles when grilled on whether he discussed Mueller probe — by Elana Schor: “Nearly 12 hours into Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing, Kamala Harris opened with a tantalizing query: Has the Supreme Court nominee ever discussed Robert Mueller’s probe with a lawyer at Kasowitz Benson & Torres, President Donald Trump’s longtime law firm? ‘Be sure about your answer, sir,’ Harris asked Kavanaugh. Trump’s high court pick appeared nonplussed, responding that ‘I’m not sure I know everyone who works at that law firm,’ but the California Democrat — a veteran prosecutor known for her tenacious questioning and high on her party’s 2020 presidential short lists — would not let up.” [Politico; Video]
Rep. Pete King (R-NY) on interruptions at Kavanaugh’s Senate hearing in a Facebook post: “Let me make it clear that I would say the same thing if right wing agitators resorted to mob rule — as I did when I condemned the neo-Nazis and White Supremacists in Charlottesville last summer… I fully understand and respect Senators who have serious questions for Judge Kavanaugh. That is their right and obligation. Nazi Beer Hall tactics, however, have no place in a democracy.”
INBOX — Student leaders at Hillel International today launched MitzVote, a non-partisan campaign to register and engage 100,000 voters on more than 100 college campuses across the United States. Hillel International worked with Mik Moore (co-creator of 2008’s The Great Schlep with Sarah Silverman) to produce a video, Today You Are A… Voter. Featuring popular actors and comedians, it mimics a bat mitzvah mazel tov video, with friends and family congratulating Hannah, a typical college first-year student, on her MitzVote.
Want to Be the Next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Be Careful What You Wish — by Jesse McKinley: “As next week’s Democratic primary draws near, scrutiny of Julia Salazar’s history has revealed numerous inconsistencies in her background that threaten to undermine her candidacy… Born into a Catholic family, Ms. Salazar said she converted to Judaism in her early 20s, and has been a part of a number of groups devoted to Jewish causes. Ms. Salazar said her interest in Judaism is rooted in family history and their Sephardic roots in Spain, and was spurred as she was mourning her father’s death from prostate cancer in 2009…”
“Ms. Salazar’s mother said that neither side of the family was Jewish, though she confirmed her late husband’s family had a Sephardic background, and that Julia had been curious about it. “That’s where her interest stems from,” she said, noting that her daughter had traveled to Israel during college. “This is not something that was invented for the purposes of this campaign.” [NYTimes]
** 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: CBS board offering CEO Les Moonves $100 million in stock as exit package [CNBC] • Sharon Waxman’s The Wrap is adding a subscription business, by buying a subscription business [Recode] • WeWork Fails in Bid to Lease Space in New York’s World Trade Center [WSJ] • Under the sea: antiquities make way for Israel’s Leviathan pipeline [Reuters] • Bloomberg Forum in Beijing for Business Elites Is Put Off, Chinese Hosts Confirm [NYTimes]
Virtual reality tour brings biblical-era Jerusalem to life — by Ilan Ben Zion: “The Tower of David Museum, which is housed in the Old City’s ancient stronghold, plans to launch the high-tech guided tour this month ahead of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The virtual reality guide, “Step into History,” offers visitors a chance to “walk in the streets of Jerusalem and enjoy the present and take a look back to the past,” said Tower of David Museum director Eilat Lieber.” [ABCNews]
PROFILE: Palestinian Journalist Declares Jerusalem Mayoral Run — by David Brennan: “Aziz Abu Sarah is a cosmopolitan figure, who divides his time between Washington, D.C. and Jerusalem. The journalist has traveled the world working for National Geographic among other publications, and has been involved in many joint Israeli-Palestinian projects in his home city… Sarah plans to focus his campaign on the city and its residents, avoiding larger practical questions of peace deals.” [Newsweek]
Roy Moore Sues Sacha Baron Cohen for $95M Over ‘Who Is America?’ Appearance — by Ashley Cullins: “Sacha Baron Cohen is being sued for defamation by Roy Moore over his appearance on the actor’s controversial Showtime series — and the embattled former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice is seeking $95 million in damages… “Defendant Cohen’s character falsely and fraudulently introduced a false and fraudulent ‘device’ supposedly invented by the Israeli Army to detect pedophiles,” state the complaint… Moore is suing Cohen, along with CBS and Showtime, for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud.”[HollywoodReporter]
Goat Yoga, Mosh Pits, Glow Sticks: Younger Jews Reinvent Yom Kippur — by Shayndi Raice: “This year, some rabbis, eager to woo younger people to High Holiday services, are holding programs in a beer garden, replacing deep reverential bows with goat yoga and celebrating the end of the season with glow sticks in a mosh pit… Many Jews still want to attend a synagogue, listen to a cantor and hear a rabbi’s sermon on the holiest days of the year. Robert Smith, a 77-year-old retired engineering professor who lives in Syracuse, N.Y., and attends the Conservative synagogue Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas, said he finds programs like Yom Kippur in a bar to be “strange,” especially if the point isn’t to lead young Jews back to a traditional Jewish life.” [WSJ]
DESSERT — Denver Jewish Deli Nosh-Off — by Daliah Singer: “The Mile High City’s lineup of Jewish-inspired delis nearly doubled when Rye Society Delicatessen & Picklery and Leven Deli Co. opened their doors (in RiNo and the Golden Triangle, respectively) in July. Now, with the High Holidays around the corner—Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on September 9—it’s time to celebrate the new spots by pitting them against local deli vets in a battle based on four classic Jewish eats.” 
For this Greek immigrant, Jewish New Year brings back sweet memories — and foods — of home — by Susan Barocas: “[Paulette Nehama’s] childhood home in Greece always had some ready to serve with strong coffee or tea to anyone who stopped by for a visit, which meant lot of extra biscottakia, also called paximadakia, had to be made for such Jewish holidays as Rosh Hashanah… Apple preserves called mylo tou koutaliou were another traditional Rosh Hashanah dish in Nehama’s childhood home. The name means “apple spoon sweets” because they were traditionally served on individual spoons with a glass of water to welcome guests.” [WashPost]
REMEMBERING: Sheldon S. Cohen, IRS commissioner who computerized agency, dies at 91 — by Adam Bernstein: “Sheldon S. Cohen, a tax lawyer and certified public accountant who helped set up the first presidential blind trust, for Lyndon B. Johnson, and then helped fully computerize the IRS as Johnson’s commissioner of internal revenue, died Sept. 4… Mr. Cohen, a longtime resident of Somerset, Md., was an officer in Jewish, community and legal groups. He also advised foreign countries on their tax systems.” [WashPost]
BIRTHDAYS: Member of the US House of Representatives since 1983 (D-MI-9), he was Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (2010-2011), Congressman Sander Levin turns 87… Short Hills, New Jersey resident who is the co-founder and CEO of Murray Hill Properties, a NYC-based real estate development and property management firm, Norman Sturner turns 78… Beverly Hills-based public relations consultant, Mara Kochba turns 76… Retired director of the Robotics Laboratory at the Technion, Jacob Rubinovitz turns 71… Democratic member of the New York State Assembly from a district within Brooklyn since 1981, she chairs the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, Helene Weinstein turns 66… Oncologist and bioethicist, the older brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel, he is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Ezekiel Jonathan “Zeke” Emanuel turns 61… Co-founder in 2008 of Kol HaNeshamah: The Center for Jewish Life and Enrichment, Dr. Adena Karen Berkowitz turns 59…
Former New Jersey Governor (2010-2018), Chris Christie turns 56… Native of NYC’s Lower East Side and Brooklyn, Treasurer of Southfield, Michigan, Irv “Moishe” Lowenberg turns 50… Director in the NYC office of AIPAC, he is a co-founder and chairman emeritus of Fuel For Truth, an Israel advocacy organization, Joe Richards turns 46… Chief Communications Officer at Bloomberg LP since 2012, formerly assistant press secretary in the White House (1997-2001), Jason Schechter turns 44… Rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis, Avi S. Olitzky turns 37… Communications advisor at the Commerce Department, Ari Schaffer turns 27… Australian born entrepreneur, now living in NYC, he is the co-founder of the technology and social media company Monkey Inc. and Executive Director at HPS Investment Partners, LLC, Ben Pasternak turns 19… Senior advisor at Israel’s United Nations delegation, he was previously a senior analyst at Avascent, a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and an AIPAC alum, Daniel Flesch… Toronto-based publisher and philanthropist, Elisa Morton Palter... Madi Portugal…
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EXCLUSIVE — Haim Saban and Paul Singer hosted a dinner with the Trump peace team last night: Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, Haim Saban and Paul Singer convened a private dinner on Tuesday evening in New York City featuring U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Jared Kushner, and Jason Greenblatt. The kosher-catered dinner, held in a private room at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side, brought together a politically diverse group of twenty Jewish business and communal leaders.
According to sources familiar with the event, the gathering was an opportunity for the senior administration officials to discuss their emerging plans for an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It isn’t clear what, if any, specific details from their plans were shared during the two-hour-long dinner. However, winning support from influential leaders across the political spectrum has been a priority for the administration.
Attendees at Saban and Singer’s dinner included foreign policy experts Elliott Abrams and Martin Indyk, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, former Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg, Start-Up Nation author Dan Senor, Israel Policy Forum leaders Charles Bronfman and Susie Gelman, Tikvah’s Roger Hertog, former New York Observer editor Ken Kurson, Guess Jeans’ Maurice Marciano, Ira Rennert, Bob Book, and former Conference of Presidents’ Chair Jim Tisch. [JewishInsider]
Earlier on Tuesday, Haley told reporters at the United Nations that the timing of the peace rollout is “getting close” adding, “I have read the plan. It is thoroughly done. It is well-thought-out from both sides — the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
Also on Tuesday, The State Department denied a report that Trump sought a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. “The press report that President Trump requested a meeting with President Abbas is untrue and misleading,” State Department Spokesperson Edgar Vasquez said in a statement. According to a report from Hadashot TV News, Abbas sent Trump a list of demands, including ‘significant diplomatic gestures’ and the dismissal of Greenblatt and Jared Kushner from the Middle East negotiation team.
Video — Palestinians burn photos of Trump in front of the American House in Ramallah [YouTube]
HEARD LAST NIGHT — U.S. Ambassador David Friedman during a Rosh Hashanah toast at his residence in Herzliya: “Since 1994, the United States has thrown more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Without minimizing the importance of medical treatment and quality education for children — and we don’t minimize that, not even for a minute — we found that these expenditures were bringing the region no closer to peace or stability, not even by a millimeter.” [Video]
UNGA — Trump Plans to Take Aim at Iran in U.N. Session — by Michael Schwirtz: “President Trump plans to preside over a session of the United Nations Security Council this month “to address Iran’s violations of international law” and press world leaders to adopt a more assertive approach to the country… The decision raises the possibility of a face-to-face confrontation between the president and Iranian officials, perhaps even President Hassan Rouhani, who according to United Nations protocol would be invited to participate in the session.” [NYTimes; Bloomberg]
— “Trump isn’t seeking a Council resolution or statement, but rather an opportunity to openly discuss what the U.S. calls Iran’s “violations of international law” and its regional policies… By personally hosting a debate on Iran, Mr. Trump will elevate a sidelined Council issue to a major event.” [WSJ]
Israel says it struck Iranian targets in Syria 200 times in last two years — by Dan Williams: “Israel has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday… According to regional sources, Israel began carrying out military strikes in Syria in 2013 against suspected arms transfers and deployments by Iranian forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies.” [Reuters]
TOP TALKER — Gary Cohn and Ivanka Trump are among those featured in the first reported excerpts of Bob Woodward’s upcoming book titled Fear: Trump in the White House.
When Cohn took action ‘to protect the country’: “Former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn saw a draft letter he considered dangerous to national security on the Oval Office desk. The letter would have withdrawn the US from a critical trade agreement with South Korea. Trump’s aides feared the fallout could jeopardize a top-secret national security program: the ability to detect a North Korean missile launch within just seven seconds… “I stole it off his desk,” Cohn told an associate. “I wouldn’t let him see it. He’s never going to see that document. Got to protect the country.” [CNN]
— “Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Cohn, who is Jewish, was especially shaken when one of his daughters found a swastika on her college dorm room… When Cohn met with Trump to deliver his resignation letter after Charlottesville, the president told him, “This is treason,” and persuaded his economic adviser to stay on.” [WashPost]
Ivanka Trump, when told she was a ‘staffer’ by Steve Bannon: “I’m not a staffer! … I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter and I’m never going to be a staffer.” [WashPost]
Zeke Miller: “In Woodward book (pp 83): “Mattis was worried about Iranian expansion. At one point he later referred to ‘those idiot raghead mullahs.'”
Trump wanted to kill Bashar al-Assad after chemical attack: “Let’s f–king kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f–king lot of them,” Trump said… [James] Mattis told the president that he’d get right on it. But after hanging up, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” [NYPost]
— Israeli minister: no knowledge of Trump ordering Assad killed: “I do not know of any such instruction. He (Trump) is also denying it, by the way,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM. “In any event, what can be said is that in the framework of the coordination between the United States and Israel … the subject of the Syrian regime is certainly part of the discussions. Israel did not take a decision to topple Assad.” [YahooNews]
Where Will the Trump Investigations Go Next? — by Adam Davidson: “The one person who likely knew as much or more than [Allen] Weisselberg about recent business, aside from Trump himself, is Ivanka—“she knows a million times more than Don, Jr.,” my source said. Ivanka personally handled many of the most problematic deals.”
“Most of the dozen or so lawyers who work in Trump headquarters spend most of their time doing routine legal work… Jason Greenblatt… may be an exception; he may know a fair bit about Trump’s more troubling deals. Greenblatt’s rise came just as the Trump Organization was in the early stages of its frenzy of overseas dealmaking with people who were convicted of crimes or whose past deals showed potential signs of money laundering, sanctions violations, and other financial crimes. Greenblatt, several Trump Organization lawyers told me, was responsible for conducting due diligence on partners.”[NewYorker]
Michael Cohen Prayed With Al Sharpton at Breakfast. But Other Democrats Stay Away — by Maggie Haberman: “The Rev. Al Sharpton sat at a table at the Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue one morning last week, his shoulders hunched as he prayed with an unlikely dining companion: Michael D. Cohen. Mr. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, had asked Mr. Sharpton to meet him for breakfast not long after he pleaded guilty in a federal court in Manhattan to an array of charges. “He seemed to be resolved that he was facing some time,” Mr. Sharpton said of his second meeting with Mr. Cohen in recent months. “He even asked me to pray with him, and we did at the table.” [NYTimes]
SCOTUS WATCH — A Kavanaugh Supporter Was Accused of Making a White Power Symbol. She’s a Descendent of Holocaust Survivors — by Mahita Gajanan: “A former White House staffer was accused by some on Twitter of making a white supremacist symbol during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday — causing her husband to publicly defend her and point out that she is Jewish, Mexican-American and the descendant of Holocaust survivors. The online furor about Zina Gelman Bash’s alleged hand symbol spread on Twitter Tuesday — despite attempts by supporters and journalists to point out her heritage.” [Time]
RAHM STEPS DOWN — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he won’t run for re-election next year — by Bill Ruthhart: “Pugnacious and ever confident, Rahm Emanuel never has been one to back away from a political fight. But on Tuesday, he did just that, abruptly dropping a bid for a third term as Chicago’s mayor… In an interview, the mayor described his personal and professional lives as two planes preparing to land on separate runways, making the timing right to step away from public life… “I’ve decided not to seek re-election,” said Emanuel, who took office as Chicago’s first Jewish mayor in 2011.” [ChicagoTribune]
In an emotional speech — at times pausing to hold back tears — Emanuel also reflected on his Jewish background: “I want to thank my grandfather, who at the age of 13 took an enormous chance — a century ago — immigrating here from Eastern Europe to flee the pogroms prosecuting Jews to meet a third cousin he did not know, in a city whose name he could not pronounce. In four Congressional runs, on the north and northwest sides of Chicago, and in two races for mayor, you the people of Chicago and on the north side cast aside old history and voted for a Jewish kid with the middle name Israel. I will always be profoundly grateful for that, and what it means to my family.” [Video]
David Axelrod, who served alongside Emanuel in the Obama White House, tells the Chicago SunTimes: “I wasn’t shocked by his decision. He didn’t make this decision lightly… Rahm has been considering other things in life beyond this job. But I don’t think he mapped out his next steps,” Axelrod said. “I know he’ll be in great demand. But he’s not in a hurry to figure it out.”[ChicagoSunTimes]
Rabbi Jack Moline, the Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance and described as Rahm’s rabbi, tells us… “Rahm told me when he decided to run eight years ago that he would serve two terms and out. I know he has gone back and forth on continuing, but if he made this decision it is because it is what is best for the city he loves. He is a young man in political years. I am certain there is, at least, one more chapter left, and I am certain it will be something in which he is the agent of change for the better.”
“My experience with Rahm is that he is energized by challenges and has no interest in honorific positions. In fact, one of the people he most admired was Shimon Peres who made a huge impression on him as President of Israel with his energy and vision. My hope for my friend is that he will take some time for himself. My hope for the guy I admire is that once he does that, he gets back in the game.”
ANOTHER PRIMARY UPSET — Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley scored a stunning upset last night in Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District, defeating 10-term Rep. Michael Capuano. Pressley is poised to become the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts in November, especially as there are no Republican candidates in the race.
Pressley has drawn comparisons to House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who ousted veteran Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District. But unlike Ocasio-Cortez — who supported her candidacy — Pressley is more aligned with the Democratic Party establishment. Less known are her views on Israel. In the primary, Pressley refused to take a position on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.
Alex Goldstein, former campaign press secretary for Gov. Deval Patrick and a senior advisor to Pressley, told us by text message… “I am deeply humbled to have been a small part of this special campaign and to work with an extraordinary leader like Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. Since day one, Councilor Pressley ran a campaign focused on addressing the systemic and entrenched inequalities of the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District that have left far too many people behind for far too long. It’s a great night for the Commonwealth. L’shana tova to all.”
Bernie Sanders tees off on Trump in Labor Day visit to key presidential primary state — by Paul Steinhauser: “Sanders’ son, Levi, a New Hampshire resident, is one of 11 Democrats currently running for the open congressional seat in the state’s 1st District. However, the elder Sanders has stayed neutral in the race and has refrained from endorsing his son… Still, the senator did give his son a very quick shout-out near the beginning of the speech, saying, “Let me also thank my son Levi, who is here. Levi, stand up.” [FoxNews]
** 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 **
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Sheryl Sandberg’s New Job Is to Fix Facebook’s Reputation—and Her Own — by Betsy Morris: “Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg… has told people the delayed response was one of the company’s biggest mistakes ever. But not the only one. While the technology platform designed and overseen by Mr. Zuckerberg is also to blame for some of Facebook’s challenges of late, units under Ms. Sandberg’s control failed to respond to mounting signs of trouble… Now Ms. Sandberg must fix the mistakes. Urged by his board to be more proactive, Mr. Zuckerberg quietly asked her to lead the company’s efforts to identify and prevent future blowups on the platform. The new job, insiders say, is at least as challenging as the company’s transition to mobile several years ago, which was late and rocky. Ms. Sandberg’s role is likely to be complex, expensive and thankless, people close to the company say, with any failures very public.
“Ms. Sandberg will face her first extended questioning about many of the issues surrounding Facebook on Wednesday, when she is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill about matters regarding foreign interference.” [WSJ]
Getaroom Sold to Private Equity Firm Court Square Capital Partners — by Dennis Schaal: “Getaroom President Bob Diener told Skift Tuesday that he and his business partner for the past 35 years, Getaroom CEO Dave Litman, still maintain a substantial minority stake in Getaroom, and sold the larger stake to help the company reach the next level, including accelerating international expansion. Diener and LItman, former college roommates, co-founded Hotels.com in 1991, and sold a majority stake in that company in 1999 to USA Networks.” [Skift]
Israel’s Leumi stake sale wraps up bank privatisations: “Israel has sold off almost all of its remaining stake in Leumi, the country’s last bank to be fully privatised, for close to 1.9 billion shekels ($525 million). “The era of state holdings in the banks’ shares is over,” Israel’s Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu said in a statement on Wednesday.” [Reuters]
Yuval Noah Harari writes… “Why Technology Favors Tyranny: Nationalization of data by governments could offer one solution; it would certainly curb the power of big corporations. But history suggests that we are not necessarily better off in the hands of overmighty governments… If you find these prospects alarming—if you dislike the idea of living in a digital dictatorship or some similarly degraded form of society—then the most important contribution you can make is to find ways to prevent too much data from being concentrated in too few hands.” [TheAtlantic]
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Yuval Noah Harari discussed his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century in a conversation with Bari Weiss at Times Talks, a New York Times series. [Video]
INBOX — The Charles Bronfman Prize announced yesterday that Amy Bach, Founder and Executive Director of Measures for Justice, as its 2018 recipient. Measures for Justice is the first organization to publicly measure how the entire criminal justice system is performing in all counties across the United States by collecting, analyzing and comparing county-level data. The Charles Bronfman Prize is an annual award of $100,000 presented to a humanitarian under 50 whose innovative work informed by Jewish values has significantly improved the world.
ACROSS THE POND — Labour adopts IHRA antisemitism definition in full — by Dan Sabbagh: “Labour’s ruling body has agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in full after a tense meeting in which an accompanying clarification put forward by Jeremy Corbyn was not accepted. The party leader withdrew his additional statement when it was clear it could not be agreed upon and instead, after a discussion that overran its allotted time by several hours, the national executive committee (NEC) approved the release of brief remarks emphasising freedom of expression on Israel and the rights of Palestinians.” [TheGuardian]
YouTube Flags Video Featuring Holocaust Survivor As ‘Inappropriate Or Offensive To Some Audiences’ — by Paul Miller: “A newly-released video featuring a Holocaust survivor was flagged by social media giant YouTube as “inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.” The nearly three-minute video, released on August 28, bore the designation for one week. Google, YouTube’s parent company, finally removed the label only after an official appeal and a press inquiry. The video, produced by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), highlights [Holocaust survivor Irving] Roth’s work with the largest pro-Israel organization in America. In the video, Roth is seen showing young people — mainly college students — the death camps in Poland.”[DailyWire]
A Daily Caller Editor Wrote for an ‘Alt-Right’ Website Using a Pseudonym — by Rosie Gray: “Scott Greer, an editor and columnist at the Caller, also wrote as “Michael McGregor” for Radix Journal, the publication associated with the “alt-right” figure Richard Spencer.” [TheAtlantic]
A Teacher Made a Hitler Joke in the Classroom. It Tore the School Apart — by Jonathan Mahler: “Ben Frisch opened his Feb. 14 pre-calculus class at Friends Seminary… He then introduced the day’s lesson, involving the calculating of angles of depression and elevation. Frisch straightened out his right arm to demonstrate. He lowered it down and then raised it up. Glancing at his arm, now fully extended and pointing slightly upward, Frisch realized something: He was inadvertently pantomiming the Nazi salute. Frisch is a practicing Quaker, but his father was Jewish, and two of his great-grandmothers were killed at Auschwitz. Mortified, he searched for some way to defuse the awkwardness of the moment. And then he said it: “Heil Hitler!”
“A few students gasped; others exchanged surprised looks or laughed nervously. Instantly aware that his stab at Mel Brooks-style parody hadn’t landed, Frisch lowered his arm and tried to explain himself, telling his students that it used to be common to make fun of Nazis. Only recently, he said, had such jokes become taboo. He resumed the lesson, and the weird moment seemed to be over.” [NYTimesMag]
Anthony Scaramucci explains the annual Day of Jewish Unity: “John McCain’s comes just weeks before the annual Day of Jewish Unity, which is celebrated each year in memory of a rabbi known as the Chofetz Chaim. Acheinu, the outreach arm of the Jewish education organization Dirshu, created this day originally to unify the Jewish people but is also asking people of all faiths worldwide to unite in prayer for global peace and stability… With such a difficult past and a disconcerting present, I completely understand why a Jewish organization feels we need a day to pray in unity for peace.” [TheHill]
SPORTS BLINK: Ahmadinejad’s Quarterback Sneak — by Steve Inskeep: “Iran’s former president marked the coming pro-football season on Monday, writing on Twitter that “unfortunately once again [Colin Kaepernick] is not on an NFL roster. Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.” This was a surprise. In a decade of reporting on and visiting Iran, I had missed Ahmadinejad’s interest in American football… It’s conceivable that Ahmadinejad has become an American sports fan… Whataboutism is the most straightforward way to understand Ahmadinejad’s NFL tweet. In effect he is saying, “See? You Americans punish dissent, too.” [TheAtlantic]
DESSERT — Matzo Balls and Chiles? It’s Rosh Hashana With the Flavors of Mexico — by Priya Krishna: “In the late 1920s, the chef Fany Gerson’s grandparents, Jewish and facing persecution, fled Ukraine and boarded boats bound for New York City. But they weren’t able to immigrate through Ellis Island, for reasons they can’t quite remember — perhaps because of financial turmoil preceding the 1929 stock market crash, or because of limits set a few years earlier on the number of immigrants from certain countries. So they settled in the closest country that would take them: Mexico. … over the years, the family’s colorful surroundings crept into those monochromatic Jewish dishes.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Long-time member of Knesset (1977-2002), he is a law professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Amnon Rubinsteinturns 87… Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, she was appointed in 1979, took senior status in 2014 and inactive status in 2016, Judge Dolores Korman Sloviter turns 86… Author, educator, and activist, best known for his books promoting public education, Jonathan Kozol turns 82… Catherine Nelson turns 70… Rabbi of Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, New Jersey since 1979 and Rosh Yeshiva of the Torah Academy of Bergen County since 1990, Rabbi Yosef Adler turns 67… Judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, JoAnne Fishman Kloppenburg turns 65… New York-based real estate developer, Jacob Frydman turns 61… Russian investigative journalist, she is active in the Russian Jewish Congress, Yevgenia Albats turns 60… Retired Major General in the IDF and the former head of its Manpower Directorate, she was the first woman to be made Major General (the IDF’s second highest rank), Orna Barbivai turns 56…
Chairman of the Board of Investment Canada, a government agency promoting foreign investment into Canada, he was Chairman of Cirque du Soleil, Mitch Garber turns 54… Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and a senior editor at Reason magazine, Jacob Z. Sullum turns 53… Entrepreneur and investor, engaged in numerous transactions in the fields of education, Internet marketing and financial services, he is the chairman of Mentored, an education technology platform, Eric Aroesty turns 48… DC-based reporter at Bloomberg, Holly Rosenkrantz turns 48… Born in the Soviet Union, made aliyah in 1998, she is a member of the Knesset since 2016 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Yulia Malinovsky turns 43… Director in the DC office of Baron Public Affairs LLC, Jeremy Furchtgott turns 27… Mobile strategist at Leanplum, Anthony Klor turns 25… Shoshanna Liebman… Stu Shloss…
WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote next Wednesday on the Taylor Force Act, a critical step in advancing the legislation into law, a Congressional aide…
Spotlight on Dermer: Investigations against the PM and his associates have accelerated this week, along with news reports about some of the suspicions. As Netanyahu’s confidants, lawyers Isaac…
The Submarine Affair: After two days of guessing and hinting as to whom the Police detained in their investigation of the Submarine Affair, the court-imposed gag order expired…
The noose tightens around Bibi: Netanyahu never really gets any quality time off. And, as has happened in the past, his historic visit to London was disrupted by…
Just as PM Netanyahu took off to London, two new television-sponsored polls were published, giving him some troubling news for the weekend. If elections were held today, both…
Netanyahu’s off to London: After an extravagant Australian celebration marking 100 years since the Battle of Beersheba, the Prime Minister is heading to more historical festivities. Netanyahu and…