Daily Kickoff: What Sen. Bob Menendez’s trial has to do with ‘tzimmes’ stew | Mike Doran on JCPOA | Gloria Allred’s Crusade | BDay: Walter P. Stern


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PROFILE: “Gloria Allred’s Crusade: The attorney takes on Bill Cosby, rape law, and Donald Trump” by Jia Tolentino: “She was born Gloria Rachel Bloom on July 3, 1941, to two doting Jewish parents, Morris and Stella. Stella was English; she and Morris had met, Gloria says they told her, “in Baltimore, on a streetcar named desire.” Both left school after the eighth grade. Morris worked six days a week as a door-to-door salesman, hawking Fuller brushes and photographic enlargements, and the family (Gloria was the only child) lived in a row house in southwest Philly. They didn’t attend synagogue together—Morris was too busy, and Stella explored many religious ideas, going to a church one week and an Ethical Culture meeting the next—but Gloria went there for Sunday school, and was confirmed.”

“Allred was approached years ago by people who wanted her to run for a seat in the California State Senate; she didn’t seriously consider it, she told me. She isn’t particularly religious, but she believes in the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, that it is the job of individuals to repair the world. “Each one of us has the responsibility of turning a negative experience into a positive experience,” she had told me the previous week, in Los Angeles. “Maybe that’s why these bad things happened. Maybe that’s the purpose—if there is a purpose, and I don’t know that there is. But a human being likes to think there is.” [NewYorker]

TZIMMES, THE TALK OF THE SEN. MENENDEZ TRIAL — by Matt Friedman: “Earlier, before the trial broke for Rosh Hashanah last Wednesday, Judge William H. Walls compared his decision on permitting certain evidence to a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish stew with “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.” [Abbe] Lowell told Walls that the stew was called tzimmes, that it’s traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah and that he would bring some to share with the court. Lowell on Monday made good on that promise, bringing containers full of tzimmes for Walls and even the prosecution. “This is a new meaning of serving the government,” Lowell said as he handed some to prosecutors.” [Politico

 “Walls, who had previously said he has to watch his sodium intake, asked whether it was a salty dish. Lowell assured him it was “sugary.” “Sweet as in sweet New Year,” Lowell said.” [NJ Advance]

Hollywood talent manager Scooter Braun posted on Instagram: “L’shana tova. Have a happy new year. For a split second I almost didn’t share this message because of all the hate I see online for my heritage and culture. But no. I’m a proud Jew so happy new year. And if you are a proud Christian or Muslim be proud. If you are who you are, whether it be race, religion, sexual orientation, or you just like being different… Be you. Never be afraid to express it and embrace others for being exactly who they are. This year may we all be better TOGETHER. So once again…. l’shana tova and happy new year. Much love.” [Instagram] • From last week: “Scooter Braun on philanthropy, working with Kanye and trying times with Justin Bieber” [CBSNews]

BREAKING OVERNIGHT: “Palestinian kills 3 Israelis in settlement near Jerusalem” by Aron Heller: “A Palestinian gunman on Tuesday killed three Israeli security men and critically wounded a fourth outside a West Bank settlement before being shot dead, in one of the deadliest attacks of a two-year spate of violence. Israeli officials said the attacker was a 37-year-old father of four, with a valid work permit in Israel and a troubled personal life who appeared to have acted alone. The attack comes at a tense period amid the Jewish high holidays and is likely to complicate the mediation efforts of U.S. peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who just arrived in the region for meetings with Israeli and Palestinians leaders.” [AP]

Greenblatt tweets: “My family & I are horrified by the attack in Har Adar. Shame on Hamas & others who praised the attack. All must stand against terror! We pray for the victims of today’s attack at Har Adar, and their loved ones as well.” [Twitter]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The tragic news of the Har Adar terror attack took over the agenda of the weekly cabinet meeting, which was postponed from Sunday and convened this morning. The traditional wave of political reactions and calls for punitive measures focused this time on revoking work permits for Palestinians, as the terrorist who stabbed the three Border Policeman to death had a permanent work permit. Economy Minister Eli Cohen said that all work permits should be suspended until after the holiday season, and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said the attack will have “grave consequences on employing Palestinians and easing movement restrictions.”

Netanyahu, in his opening statements, stopped short of announcing any collective punishment for now, announcing three immediate steps in response to the attack: demolishing the terrorist’s house, imposing a curfew on his village, and revoking entry permits from his family. Netanyahu also pointed a finger at Palestinian incitement and demanded Abu Mazen “condemn the attack and not justify it,” a talking point echoed by all of his cabinet ministers, with some saying the attack is proof there is “no partner” on the Palestinian side. Deputy FM Tzipi Hotevely said the attack is a “message” for the US administration, just as Jason Greenblatt arrives in Israel for another round of peace talks, and the attack is likely to complicate his already complicated mission. Several right-wing ministers and MKs stressed that in the midst of terror, there is no room for economic gestures and initiatives for the Palestinians, and others – Like Bayit Yehudi’s Uri Ariel – demanded settlement construction as a suitable reaction. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

UN Mideast envoy says Israel ignoring UNSC resolution — by Edith Lederer: “Israel is not complying with a UN Security Council resolution demanding a halt to all settlement activity and instead is continuing to expand settlements, making a two-state solution “increasingly unattainable,” the UN envoy for the Mideast said Monday. Nickolay Mladenov told the council that in the three months since June 20 Israel’s settlement activity “continued at a high rate, a consistent pattern over the course of this year.” [AP

DRIVING THE CONVO: “How Trump Can Improve the Iran Deal” by Mark Dubowitz and David Albright: “We propose the president “fix” U.S. policy by making it clear he does not accept the Iran deal’s dangerous flaws. He should insist on conditions making permanent the current restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and the testing of advanced centrifuges and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, as well as the buying and transferring of conventional weaponry. He must insist on unfettered access for U.N. weapons inspectors to Iranian military sites.” [WSJ

HEARD YESTERDAY — Hudson Institute fellows Michael Doran and Peter Rough, along with Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution discussed President Trump’s policy on Iran in a panel “The Trump Administration and the Middle East: What Should America Do Next?” hosted by the Hudson Institute and moderated by the think tank’s Senior Fellow Lee Smith.

Highlights — Doran: “As much as I abhor the JCPOA, I don’t think that trashing it at this moment is the priority. The priority is Syria and breaking up this (Iranian) beltway. If we are not going to compete with the Iranians in Syria, we are not going to roll back the JCPOA. There has to be a paradigm shift in Washington about competing with the Iranians in the region.”

Doran on Syria ceasefire: “We should use our own considerable air defense assets to send a message to tell the Iranians and the Russians that if they violate that (Syrian) belt, they’ll be in trouble. Eastern Syria should be American dominated territory… We should adopt the Israeli red lines as our own and send a message to the Russians that we are with the Israelis. That increases their deterrence and empowers the Israelis.”

O’Hanlon on Egypt: “President Sisi is [Hosni] Mubarak on steroids… I don’t think we should be giving Egypt the same amount of aid as in better days — not that there were such incredibly better days. I would be giving half as much aid these days.” [Video

“Europeans say Trump can win on Iran without ripping up nuclear deal” by Laura Rozen: “In a sense, this administration has changed the climate on Iran,” British Ambassador Kim Darroch said at a panel of four European ambassadors at the Atlantic Council. “It is succeeding. … But let’s keep the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].” Darroch said he has noticed an intensification of contacts over the past couple of months between the Europeans and experts within the US administration on how to increase the pressure on Iran… Whether or not Trump certifies next month is “basically a domestic issue,” French Ambassador Gerard Araud said. “What matters will be the consequences. We are not going to criticize the president for certification or decertification. That is your problem.” [Al-MonitorNYTimes]  

“Iran’s supposed missile launch was fake, US officials say” by Lucas Tomlinson: “The video released by the Iranians was more than seven months old – dating back to a failed launch in late January, which resulted in the missile exploding shortly after liftoff, according to two U.S. officials. President Trump had originally responded to the reported launch in a late-Saturdaytweet, saying, “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel… Not much of an agreement we have!”” [FoxNews

ON THE HILL — House committee to vote Thursday on Hezbollah sanctions bill — by Aaron Magid: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s bill — introduced by the Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY) —  further restricts Hezbollah’s ability to fundraise and recruit along with cracking down on foreign states that do business with the Lebanese terror group, including Iran. Additionally, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will also markup a bill on Thursday that condemns Hezbollah for its usage of civilian shields during warfare while imposing sanctions on individuals who are involved in this practice. [JewishInsider]

JARED INSIDER: “How Jared Kushner Is Dismantling a Family Empire” by Rich Cohen: “His future seemed certain. But, as Kushner’s great-grandparents would’ve said, kicking it in the shtetl, Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht. Man plans, God laughs… Jared Kushner is six feet three and thin—rangy if you like him, reedy if you don’t. He has dark eyes and brown hair, a broad smile, and a facial expression, captured in newspapers, that goes from surprised to amused to flat. Something about him remains opaque, unknowable. Something held in reserve.” [VanityFair]

“Jared Kushner’s lawyer, fooled by ’email prankster,’ offers window into private email controversy” by Natasha Bertrand: “Top Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell engaged in an email exchange with a prankster posing as client Jared Kushner on Monday, at one point telling the prankster that he needed “to see all emails” sent and received from a private email account the president’s son-in-law had set up in December… On Monday, the prankster wrote to Lowell from the email address “” asking what he should do with “some correspondence on my private email … featuring adult content… Lowell replied: “Don’t delete. Don’t send to anyone.  Let’s chat in a bit.” [BusinessInsider]

“At Least 6 White House Advisers Used Private Email Accounts” by Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman: “Other advisers, including Gary D. Cohn and Stephen Miller, sent or received at least a few emails on personal accounts, officials said. Ivanka Trump… used a private account when she acted as an unpaid adviser in the first months of the administration, Newsweek reported Monday. Administration officials acknowledged that she also occasionally did so when she formally became a White House adviser… Most of Mr. Trump’s aides used popular commercial email services like Gmail. [jared] Kushner created a domain,, in December to host his family’s personal email. That domain was hosted by GoDaddy on a server in Arizona, records show.” [NYTimesNewsweek]

HAPPENING TODAY: “Trump Dinner at NYC’s Le Cirque Seeks Up to $250,000 Per Couple” by Zachary Mider and Jennifer Jacobs: “Some of the biggest names in U.S. finance and real estate are expected to gather at New York’s Le Cirque restaurant on Tuesday as President Donald Trump raises money for the Republican National Committee… Many of the anticipated attendees, such as the executives Howard Lorber and Steve Witkoff, come from New York real-estate circles where the president’s career began.” [Bloomberg]  

SPOTTED in Playbook: “Michael Flynn last night having dinner at Char Bar, the kosher restaurant in Foggy Bottom. Asked what his mood was these days, he replied: “My mood is good. Very good.” [Politico]

“Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in federal prison” by Matt Zapotosky: “Disgraced former U.S. congressman Anthony Weiner, whose exchange of illicit messages with a teenager wound up playing a role in the 2016 presidential election, was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison… The penalty marks a stunning downfall for the New York Democrat whose propensity for sending lewd photos to women repeatedly derailed his career in politics, and — in a roundabout way — might also have affected Hillary Clinton’s bid to become president… Weiner is scheduled to report to prison on Nov. 6, prosecutors said.” [WashPost

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: From Bistricer to Rockpoint: The new Starrett City deal is a far cry from what might have been [RealDeal] • Wells Fargo Bank provides apartment construction loan for Sole Mia in North Miami by Soffer and LeFrak [Bizjournals] • Inside the $524 Million Bucks Arena & Entertainment Mecca [MilwaukeeMag

HOLLYWOOD: “Can a Hollywood Celebrity Find the Truth About Trump and Russia?” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “[Rob] Reiner is trying to break through to Trump voters over Russia’s unprecedented meddling in the 2016 election. His new project is The Committee to Investigate Russia, a website gathering news and information on the various Russia inquiries that he hopes will help spur a 9/11-type, bipartisan commission that will bring everything together in a definitive report and make concrete recommendations. On its board are former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, prominent Never Trumpers David Frum, the Atlantic senior editor… So far, Reiner says, he has donated about $100,000 of his own money, and sits on its board of advisers. He says he and his wife will “probably put more in as is needed.”” [Politico]

“The Abbie Hoffman of the Right: Donald Trump” by David Brooks: “In the late 1960s along came a group of provocateurs like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and the rest of the counterculture to upend the Protestant establishment. People like Hoffman were buffoons, but also masters of political theater…  America is seeing nearly as much cultural conflict as it did in the late 1960s. It’s quite possible that after four years of this Trump will have effectively destroyed the prevailing culture. The reign of the meritocratic establishment will be just as over as the reign of the Protestant establishment now is.” [NYTimes]  

“‘We Believe Deeply In Lox And Bagels’: What It Means To Be A Secular Jew” by Michel Martin: “Bob Garfield, co-host of WNYC’s On The Media… on what it means to be a secular Jew: “There’s this bizarre, sometimes hostile ambivalence about the religion and the culture from which we spring. You know, it’s a big part of the American-Jewish community. The best way I can put it to you is this, Michel: We don’t read much Torah, but we’ve read every word Philip Roth ever wrote. We don’t necessarily even believe in God, but we believe deeply in lox and bagels. So we, on one hand, are not really participants in the spiritual part of the religion, but we’re as Jewish as can be.”” [WAMU

SPORTS BLINK: “Hank Greenberg: Caught Between Baseball And His Religion” by Noam Hassenfeld: “Let’s be real clear,” Aviva [Kepmner] says. “Hank Greenberg did not play on Yom Kippur in ’34, as Hitler was rising in Europe, and that’s what made it even more powerful. And after what happened in Charlottesville, I hope some more Jewish baseball players don’t play on Yom Kippur.” [WBUR

BIRTHDAYS: Vice Chairman and a Director of Capital International, Inc. and long-time Board Chair of the Hudson Institute, Walter Phillips Stern turns 89… Stage, film and television actor, he is best known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” appearing in Dos Equis beer commercials (2006-2016), Jonathan Goldsmith turns 79… Escondido, California resident, Edward Karesky turns 70… CEO of Israel Longhorn Project, dedicated to bringing Texas Longhorn Cattle home to Israel, Robin Rosenblatt turns 69… Five Towns (NY) resident, Barry Mandel turns 69… Former chairman and CEO of the French engineering conglomerate Alstom, he is the son of Holocaust survivors, Patrick Kron turns 64… Senior political adviser to President Bill Clinton during his second term and co-author of a New York Times best-seller on the future of politics in the United States, Doug Sosnik turns 61… Teaneck-resident with a Jersey City dental practice, Paul Lustiger, DDS turns 61… Historian, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Kagan turns 59… Chief of Staff to Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Mark Isakowitz turns 51… Head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets men’s basketball team, he was the 2017 ACC Coach of the Year, Josh Pastner turns 40… Former Communications Director for NY Governor Paterson, Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Jane Harman, she now heads a NYC based PR firm whose past clients have included Jared and Ivanka, Risa Beth Heller tuns 38… NYC-based senior editor of global digital video programming at Bloomberg LP, Henry Seltzer turns 32 (h/t Playbook)…

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Daily Kickoff: Surprise speaker at Rosh Hashanah service: Justice Ginsburg | Kraft ‘deeply disappointed’ by Trump’s NFL comments | Gadot to host SNL


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JI EXCLUSIVE: White House explains redirected funds to Palestinians — by Aaron Magid: A White House official confirmed Jewish Insider’s report from Wednesday that the Trump administration had quietly transferred an additional $20 million to Palestinian wastewater programs after the funds were frozen in an Egyptian economic aid package. “The State Department came to us and said they had identified this particular piece of money and these were, if I recall, FY2016 (Fiscal Year) funds that disappear at the end of September,” the White House official told Jewish Insider last week.

However, the Trump administration source objected to an assertion made by a Congressional aide that the Trump administration was rushing to move the funds to West Bank water programs before the Taylor Force Act could be passed. “There was a particular window for this so that the money would be used. TFA (Taylor Force Act) would have no impact on this even if they passed it tomorrow. There wasn’t an ‘oh my gosh, let’s get this money before Taylor Force passes,’” the White House official added. The official said that there were numerous Palestinian projects that the U.S. would like to support. “But when you have terrorists stabbing American citizens in the back and tax paying dollars used to support these people, the President said very clearly to President Abbas in both Washington and Bethlehem in May, this is intolerable to us.”

On a separate note, the White House official declined to opine regarding an announcement from Hamas last week that the U.S. designated terror group would dissolve the Gaza administrative committee and move towards a unity government. “Our feeling is very much wait and see. There have been lots of attempts at this before,” the White House official noted. “We appreciate the Egyptians (mediation) efforts to try and come to some resolution to do this.” [JewishInsider]

“Trump Told Abbas: We’re Working on New Peace Deal, but Need More Time to Formulate It” by Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury: “Palestinian and U.S. sources said Trump requested that Abbas give him time to draft the proposal and avoid taking any measures that would impede the process… Senior Palestinian figures said the Palestinian Authority agreed to wait for the U.S. proposal to be presented before taking any significant diplomatic steps.” [Haaretz]

KAFE KNESSET — Trump’s mystery peace plan — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Jason Greenblatt is on his way back to Israel for another round of peace talks followed by a family Sukkot holiday, and the Israeli PM wanted to welcome him with a warm hug. Yesterday, Netanyahu convened the Security Cabinet for a three hour meeting, during which he briefed the ministers on his last trip to the US and his meeting with President Trump. According to a well-informed source, Netanyahu told the ministers he is interested in “pleasing” Greenblatt and the administration with new economic gestures. The PM specifically discussed a plan to build a new industrial zone near the city of Tulkarem and expanding the road to the West Bank city of Rawabi, but none of these plans were actually approved. Approvals have been postponed until further discussions.

Netanyahu also told the Security Cabinet that he decided to postpone by a week or two the upcoming meeting of the Civil Administration’s planning committee. The planning committee has several settlement construction projects on the agenda. The PM explained the rationale for the postponement “because we have no interest in annoying the friendly administration.” President Trump, Netanyahu added, is “determined to get the ultimate deal, and is putting a lot of weight and importance on the matter.” Netanyahu said he presented Israel’s positions to POTUS, and that Trump is preparing a plan. When one of the ministers asked what the plan is – Netanyahu declined to answer and said “I still don’t know.” On the Iranian issue and the future of the Iran deal, Netanyahu said he’s waiting for Amb. Ron Dermer to arrive in Israel, and that he would convene the Security Cabinet again ahead of the 15th of October, the decertification deadline. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

“How Trump can get Mideast peace talks back on track” by Dannis Ross: “The Saudis could be asked to announce that they will send a delegation to Israel to discuss common threats in the region and security assurances under the rubric of the Arab Peace Initiative. In return, Israel could announce that because of its commitment to two states for two peoples, it will not build outside the settlement blocs and will forswear sovereignty in the areas that are east of the security barrier.” [NYDailyNews]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Former Quartet Mideast envoy Tony Blair on The Global Politico podcast with Susan Glasser: “I think in relation to the peace process, there is an opportunity for this presidency, indeed for any presidency, to get an alliance between the state of Israel and the Arab nations, provided you can deal with and resolve the Palestinian issue in a fair way. But there is a greater willingness, I think, from the Arab world, to reach an agreement, and to move on, and to focus on those twin objectives: connected rule-based economies, religiously tolerant societies. There’s a great desire there particularly with the new leadership in the Middle East than there’s ever been, so I do think there’s a big opportunity there, and I think that the White House understands that, and the question is obviously how you implement it.” [Politico]

IRAN DEAL: Trump points to Iran missile test in criticizing nuke deal: “Video of the test firing of a Khoramshahr medium-range ballistic missile aired Friday on Iran’s state TV… Trump tweeted Saturday about the public unveiling of the missile: “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”” [AP

“Iran nuclear deal is best option, says Israeli general” by Anshel Pfeffer: “Uzi Eilam, 83, a retired brigadier-general who for a decade was director-general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said that while he had no doubt that Iran wanted to develop nuclear weapons the agreement signed in July 2015 was “the best of options”. “The most critical element is fissile material. When you don’t have fissile material you don’t have a nuclear bomb,” he told the Israeli news website Walla. “The agreement blocks Iran’s path to fissile material.”” [TheTimes

HEARD YESTERDAY — Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on CNN with Fareed Zakaria: “Let me stress one thing that has been a myth here in the United States, and we need to dispel this myth. They say there is a sunset clause in the deal. There is no sunset clause. Iran has committed itself never to develop nuclear weapons, both as a member of the NPT and in the deal itself.” [Video

“Trump Has Created Leverage Against Iran. Now He Needs a Closer” by Eli Lake: “At this point Trump should consider appointing a special envoy for fixing the Iran deal… It should be someone like John Bolton… Unfortunately, Bolton has already made it clear that he opposes the nuclear deal altogether… The ideal candidate to negotiate for the Trump administration would be an opponent of the original deal: That stance gives a negotiator credibility.” [BloombergView

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Kushner used private email to conduct White House business” by Josh Dawsey: ““Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business,” Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner, said in a statement… “Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.” Aides who have exchanged emails with Kushner on his private account… include… National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and spokesman Josh Raffel… In some cases, those White House officials have emailed Kushner’s account first… There is no indication that Kushner has shared any sensitive or classified material on his private account… Aides say he prefers to call or text over using email.” [Politico

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “Enforcer or ‘choke point’? Kelly seeks to bring order to chaotic White House” by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker: “Kelly has required that Ivanka Trump… go through him first when she wants to speak with her father about anything involving the administration, a requirement she has so far followed. In the run-up to the United Nations General Assembly in New York… a number of foreign governments and organizations reached out to her to set up meetings — all of which she ran by Kelly and his team before adding them to her schedule… Other senior staffers — such as Reed Cordish and Chris Liddell of the Office of American Innovation, who both work with Jared Kushner… on long-term domestic policy initiatives — have more amorphous positions, and Kelly is trying to more clearly define their roles.” [WashPost

GARY’S STILL IN: “Yellen and Cohn Said to Be on Shortlist to Lead Federal Reserve” by Kate Kelly and Binyamin Appelbaum: “The White House has created a list of about a half-dozen candidates to be the next leader of the Federal Reserve, including its current chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, and the president’s chief economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn… The list also includes Jerome H. Powell, a member of the Fed’s board of governors; Kevin Warsh, a former Fed governor; and the Stanford University economist John B. Taylor… Mr. Trump has deputized four officials to lead the selection process for the Fed’s next chairman… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; two of Mr. Cohn’s aides on the National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz and Andrew Olmem; and John DeStefano, the White House personnel director.” [NYTimes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… GOP Funds Donald Trump’s Defense in Russia Probe With Help From a Handful of Wealthy People” by Rebecca Ballhaus: “In April, billionaire Len Blavatnik gave $12,700 to the RNC’s legal fund, on top of donations of about $200,000 to other RNC accounts. He also gave the legal fund $100,000 in 2016, according to FEC filings. The contribution from Mr. Blavatnik came during the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings of Russian meddling in the U.S. election… Mr. Blavatnik… is a longtime business partner of Viktor Vekselberg, who is one of the richest men in Russia and has close ties to the Kremlin.” [WSJ

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Former US ambassador Dan Shapiro said set to testify in Netanyahu graft case” by Raoul Wootliff: “Shapiro will reportedly give testimony to Israeli police in the coming weeks… Netanyahu is said to have asked Shapiro and then-US secretary of state John Kerry in 2014 to intervene and arrange a long-term US visa for Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan.” [ToI]

2020 WATCH: “Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sure sounds like a 2020 presidential candidate” by Aaron Blake: “Schultz spoke with The Washington Post at a job fair for young people on Wednesday… It wasn’t difficult imagine him delivering the same words in a stump speech in Des Moines. “The worst thing that we all, whether we be businesspeople or private citizens — we should not be embracing indifference right now,” Schultz said at the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. “We have to be engaged, we’ve got to speak out, we’ve got to be involved, we gotta stand up for the things that we know are true. And I think the country, in many ways, is in need of a moral, a cultural and an economic transformation.”” [WashPost

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on Facebook [WashPost] • 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki explains the DNA testing company’s privacy protections [Recode] • Dan Doctoroff on Rebuilding New York After 9/11 [Citylab] • How Israeli Expats In Silicon Valley Produce Winning Startups [Inc]

STARTUP NATION: “SAP is buying identity management firm Gigya for $350M” by Ingrid Lunden: “SAP, the German enterprise software giant… has acquired Gigya, a firm that helps online properties manage customer identities and profiles… (Gigya is based out of Mountain View, CA, but its R&D is based in Israel, and its founders are Israeli). Analytics firm Zirra also told TechCrunch that the company was valued at around $250 million in its last valuation… Gigya today manages some 1.3 billion customer identities across hundreds of sites.” [TC

“Facebook wishes a happy Jewish New Years to a random group of users” by Kerry Flynn: “Some Facebook users were greeted with a “Happy New Year” message on the top of their News Feeds Wednesday and Thursday in celebration of Rosh Hashanah… It wasn’t available to everyone, though, and some of the users saw it shared on Twitter that, nope, they weren’t Jewish. Others said, at the very least, they never self-identified to Facebook that they were Jewish.” [Mashable]

“Justice Ginsburg surprise speaker at Jewish new year service” by Jessica Gresko: “If you are a member of a minority group, particularly a minority group that has been picked on, you have empathy for others who are similarly situated,” [Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg] said during about 20 minutes of answering questions from attorney Kenneth Feinberg… The service she attended was organized by Sixth & I, a historic synagogue… “The Jewish religion is an ethical religion. That is, we are taught to do right, to love mercy, do justice, not because there’s gonna be any reward in heaven or punishment in hell. We live righteously because that’s how people should live and not anticipating any award in the hereafter.” [ABCNews]

“Jews around world concerned by far-right breakthrough in German election” by  by Francesco Guarascio and Andrea Shalal: “Early projections gave the AfD ((Alternative for Germany) 13.5 percent of the vote, allowing it to enter the Bundestag for the first time, as Germany’s third-biggest party. The far-right has not been represented in parliament since the 1950s… Ronald Lauder… called Chancellor Angela Merkel a “true friend of Israel and the Jewish people” and decried the AfD’s gains at a time when anti-Semitism was increasing across the globe.” [Reuters] • German nationalists seek to allay fears; show cracks at top [AP]

“The Jewish Immigrants Who Helped the U.S. Take on Nazis” by Arthur Allen: “After being deployed to the front, the émigrés joined five-man interrogation and mobile radio teams that often were led by American-born officers… Some of the unit commanders were brazenly anti-Semitic. “Our captain wore his friendliness to Germans on his sleeve. We felt very uncomfortable,” recalled Ritchie Boy Henry Schwab in a 1996 interview… “The army policy was we were fighting a war against the Germans…” Gerald Bamberger, another Ritchie Boy, concurred: “The Holocaust at that time was not discussed. Not as an American soldier under those circumstances.” The Ritchie Boys, with great discipline and loyalty to the U.S. cause, were trained to ask questions of tactical value to the advancing U.S. armies. The fate of Europe’s Jews did not arise… During the post-WWII period, young German-born Jewish American troops like Henry Kissinger, Albert Rosenthal and Victor Brombert had more to offer Germany, and America’s objectives there, than the typical occupying troops.” [Politico]

“From Poland to Lithuania: A Writer’s Search for Her Jewish Past” by Charly Wilder: “With its cobbled streets and 19th-century rowhouses, Plock’s old Jewish district looks like a film set. Nearly all the remnants of its thriving Jewish community, which once made up nearly half the population, are long gone or repurposed beyond recognition… Nearly the entire population of Jonava was wiped out by World War II and the Holocaust; the current residents were brought in afterward from other parts of Lithuania and the Soviet Union, said Renate [Kilinskaite], many to build and staff the state-owned Achema factory. Today, most of the buildings in the Old Town look darkened and disused, remote from the postwar city built up around it.” [NYTimes]

“The World’s Largest Book Club” by Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs: “In her memoir, “If All the Seas Were Ink,” Literary agent Ilana Kurshan tells the story of how she recovered from her divorce, in part through daily study of the Talmud… For Ms. Kurshan, such study provided a kind of intellectual stimulation that distracted her from the sorrow of her divorce.” [WSJ]

MEDIA WATCH: “Atlantic editor-in-chief talks career in journalism” by Jonathan Douglas: “What advice would you give to a student aspiring toward a career in journalism? “Don’t. Well, let me add to that. I discourage people from looking into journalism. Mine was a more stable era in journalism. It has to be your obsession. You’re never going to make a ton of money. It’s a very unstable business right now. So I discourage people. But if they keep coming back, two or three or four times, then we can talk.”” [BrownDailyHerald]

COMING SOON: Gal Gadot to Host Saturday Night Live: “Gal Gadot, who played the female superhero in the box-office blockbuster (Wonder Woman), has been tapped to host Saturday Night Live, NBC announced Thursday… Gadot will host Oct. 7 with musical guest Sam Smith.” [THR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “In Central Park, Teaching Dogs to Sit (in Yiddish)” by Alix Strauss: “The class was organized by Workmen’s Circle, a progressive Jewish community and education nonprofit. “People want to teach their dog Yiddish,” said David Dossick, the event manager at the Circle… Steve Zelman, 69, from Sutton Place, Manhattan, was there with Ollie, his longhaired miniature dachshund to “meet some nice Jewish dogs,” he said. Edna Schwartz, also 69, came in from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, with Puma, her miniature poodle, for the training aspect. “My family would yell at us in Yiddish, so this reminds me of my childhood,” she said.” [NYTimes

SPORTS BLINK — Did Trump flip the bird at Robert Kraft? “Kraft said Sunday he was ‘deeply disappointed’ in the president who said ‘disrespectful’ players who don’t stand for the national anthem should be fired. When asked about the jibe from Kraft, a strong supporter of Trump during his campaign, he appeared to brush it off saying: ‘He has to take his ideas and go with what he wants.’ … But as he spoke to reporters, he chose to use his middle finger to sweep back his hair. And viewers on social media were quick to point out that the gesture looked an awful lot like the President of the United States was surreptitiously flipping his critic the bird.” [DailyMailVideo]

“Redskins players, owner link arms during anthem following Trump’s criticism” by Liz Clarke: “While most Raiders players remained seated for the playing of the anthem Sunday night, a majority of the Redskins stood, linking arms, with owner Dan Snyder joining them, flanked by cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Josh Norman.” [WashPost]

Jason Kander tweets re NFL‏: “Patriotism isn’t about making everyone stand and salute the flag. Patriotism is about making this a country where everyone wants to.” [Twitter

MAZEL TOV — RYDER JONAH SHERMAN, son of Irene and Jake Sherman, was born Friday morning at 3:45am at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Northwest Washington. [Playbook]

BIRTHDAYS: Pioneering woman television anchor/host of Today, The View, 20/20 and the ABC Evening News, Barbara Walters (family name Abrahams) turns 88… CEO and Board Chairman of Budget Rent A Car (1968-1989), he is the former owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins where he won the Stanley Cup in 1992, Morris Belzberg turns 88… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, expert on prison reform, Baroness Vivien Helen Stern turns 76… Former member of Knesset (1996-1999), he also served as Israel’s ambassador to France (1992-1995) and Israel’s ambassador to the the United Nations (1999-2002), Yehuda Lancry turns 70… Israeli television anchor/host and one of the most popular Israeli singers of all time, Yardena Arazi turns 66… Founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, a large enterprise cloud computing company, Marc Russell Benioff turns 53… Novelist, screenwriter, television producer and director, co-creator of the award-winning HBO series “Game of Thrones,” David Benioff (born David Friedman, Benioff is his mother’s maiden name) turns 47… Son and grandson of leading British rabbis, he has led congregations in London and Moscow and is presently the senior rabbi at the Beverly Hills Synagogue, Rabbi Pinchas Eliezer “Pini” Dunner turns 47… Bloomfield Hills, Michigan resident, Mary Elizabeth Aaron turns 47… Milwaukee-born member of the Wisconsin State Assembly (first elected in 2014), Jonathan Brostoff turns 34… Yanky Rodman

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Daily Kickoff: Trump admin quietly rushes to fund Palestinian programs before Taylor Force Act is enacted | Watch Conan in Israel | Shana Tova!


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Ed note: With Rosh Hashanah beginning this evening, we would like to wish all JI readers a happy, healthy and wonderful New Year! We’ll be back next week. 

JI EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration quietly transfers $20M to Palestinian programs — by Aaron Magid: The Trump administration has quietly directed an additional $20 million towards projects that would ‘directly benefit’ the Palestinian Authority, three Capitol Hill sources told Jewish Insider. “It means that the Trump administration is trying to get money out of the door before Taylor Force (Act) goes into effect,” a Congressional aide explained. In August, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson withheld $30 million of economic aid from Egypt, citing Cairo’s harsh restrictions on human rights organizations. Congressional staffers asked the administration about the reprogramming of this funding and were told that $20 million of the sum would be spent on West Bank and Gaza programs that would “directly benefit” the P.A. [JewishInsider]

2024 WATCH — Haley passes ‘Shana Tova’ test: Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, US Ambassador Nikki Haley and ambassadors from other countries participated in a Shana Tova video produced by Israel’s mission. “Happy New Year to all of our friends, whether it’s in the United States, Israel or around the globe. Shana Tova. We wish you all the best, in health, happiness and peace. God bless,” Ambassador Haley said in her video message. [Video]

Vice President Mike Pence on the Jewish High Holy Days: “The most important word during this most important period of the Jewish year is “Teshuvah,” or Repentance. Teshuva tells us we can change. It tells us that what we have been until this moment need not limit what we can become from this moment. It says we can be better tomorrow than we were today, and that in the affairs of humankind, nothing is fixed. Of all the manifold gifts bestowed upon us by the Almighty, is there any gift greater than the power He gave us to change?”

DRIVING THE DAY: “As the Clintons Step Back From Global Stage, Bloomberg Steps Up” by Shane Goldmacher: “[Mike] Bloomberg [is hosting] a reorganized and rebranded Bloomberg Global Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, drawing a high-powered crowd and speakers from Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, to President Emmanuel Macron of France. In a symbolic passing of the guard, [Bill] Clinton [was] the first speaker on the day’s agenda almost exactly a year after he urged attendees “you have to keep this alive” in a farewell address at the last Clinton Global Initiative. “He doesn’t just happen to be the first speaker,” said Kevin Sheekey, one of Mr. Bloomberg’s top advisers…. “There is a bit of a handoff.” The speaker and panelist list is impressive and wide-ranging.” [NYTimes• Watch the livestream[Bloomberg]

“The US Government In Exile Has A New President” by Ben Smith: “The former New York mayor is inheriting not a conference, but a platform for an alternative American diplomacy… “Nations are bound together by trade and investment, and while chief executives are not diplomats, they can be voices for cooperation on issues where the private sector can be constructive — from infrastructure to climate change,” [Bloomberg] said in an emailed comment Tuesday. “Actions taken by the private sector, while not replacing official diplomatic channels, can often carry more weight than words spoken (or tweeted) by public officials.” … Bloomberg’s new stage is a sign that on the issues on which he’s already begun to dog Trump — climate change, in particular — the former mayor is likely just getting started.” [BuzzFeed

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Anxious world lobbies Trump on Iran nuclear deal” by Nahal Toosi: “Former aides to President Barack Obama are growing increasingly worried that Trump will reject the advice of some of this top advisers and declare Tehran in violation of the agreement… That would open the door Congress to reimpose sanctions that many experts say could provoke Iran to restart its nuclear program… “We have an unmoored flame-thrower in the Oval Office who acts more out of spite and reprisal than principle,” said Ned Price, a former Obama National Security Council spokesman who helped make the official case for the nuclear deal… Arab countries hostile to Iran have mostly been quiet on the subject… “It’s not high on our list” of things to discuss with the administration, one Arab official said…”

“Trump has at least one prominent defender: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… “That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it,” Netanyahu said. Caught between competing arguments, some analysts think Trump might look once again to his favorite foil: Obama. “It’s his own internal logic chain,” said Aaron David Miller… “It all starts from his prime directive, which is to dismantle everything that his predecessor has done.” [Politico

“Netanyahu pitches his UN address to one man: Donald Trump” by Nicole Gaouette: “Netanyahu “had an audience of one,” said David Makovsky, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He sees a chance to somehow either jettison the agreement or more vigorously enforce it. And that could be where they end up.”” [CNN

TRUMP TAKES NOTE: “With Combative Style and Epithets, Trump Takes America First to the U.N.” by Peter Baker and Rick Gladstone: “The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Mr. Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.” The tough words cheered the delegation from Israel, whose prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, applauded from the gallery and called it the boldest speech he had heard at the United Nations in 30 years. In his own address later, he said Mr. Trump had “rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran an embarrassment” and pointed to North Korea as an example.” [NYTimes Twitter Trump and Teleprompter Trump merge on global stage [Politico]

Ben Rhodes‏: “Trump threatened to kill 25 million people and 10s of thousands of Americans at UN. Mooch and Spicey are interesting stars! Bibi loves it!” [Twitter]

Closing ranks with Israel, Tillerson takes aim at ‘sunset clause’ in nuclear deal: “If we’re going to stick with the Iran deal there has to be changes made to it. The sunset provisions simply is not a sensible way forward,” Tillerson said [on Fox News]. “It’s just simply … kicking the can down the road again for someone in the future to have to deal with.” [YnetFoxNews]

“GOP foreign affairs chair Ed Royce: US should stay in Iran deal, ‘enforce the hell out of’ it” by Eli Watkins: “I think we should enforce the hell out of the agreement and thereby force compliance on the part of Iran,” Royce, a California Republican, said in an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” … Royce said he believed Iran was “violating the spirit of the agreement,” but he said the lifting of sanctions under the Iran deal meant the US lost a considerable amount of leverage that went directly to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. “They now have this money,” Royce said. “And so in a way, the toothpaste is out of the tube.” [CNN]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Chris Christie at the UANI summit at The Roosevelt: “I would be very surprised if he does not decertify the JCPOA… I am just telling you that I know the guy for the last 15 years and if I had to guess, that’s my guess of what’s going to happen – because of what I’ve heard him say during the campaign and what I think he believes philosophically, which is: a bad deal is worse than no deal.”

Jeb Bush at a panel with former Governor Bill Richardson: “I think once in awhile, the chaotic nature of the President is helpful… North Korea is a rogue nation, Iran is a rogue nation… These are regimes that need to be called out, and President Trump is pretty good at it. But what’s lacking, perhaps, is a consistent, coherent policy to back that up.”

Richardson: “If Iran is complying… I think we should retain that… Side agreements are still worth doing. But if we pull out, we are not going to get nothing.”

Richardson on the U.S -Israel relationship: “One thing I do like about the president’s policy – it seems that our relationship with Israel is back on track. That’s fundamental. Although, Prime Minister Netanyahu — I have always liked him, but there he goes and endorses an issue important to me – that I don’t like – and that’s the wall with Mexico. Why is he endorsing the wall with Mexico because he wants to please Trump? I want Prime Minister Netanyahu to know there is a Democratic Party in the U.S. that should not be ignored.”

Jeb jokes: “Does he want Mexico to pay for it, Governor?”

HOW IT PLAYED: “New York crowd gets glimpse of President Jeb(!)” by Katie Glueck: “A bespectacled Bush… was relaxed and genial during much of his appearance… He showed up to assess the Trump administration’s foreign policy so far… “Generally, in the post-World War II era, there’s been a broader [foreign policy] consensus,” he said. “I think President Trump, with his foreign policy team intact, is moving in that direction. I may be wrong, his impulses contradict that from time to time, but I can tell all the people analyzing the tweets…I would follow more what we’re doing rather than what he says.” On the campaign trail, Bush once plaintively encouraged an audience to “please clap.” And in response to that assessment of the current president, there came a smattering of applause.” [McCaltchyDC] • Donald Trump wasn’t the only politician who gave a foreign policy speech today[TampaBayTimes]

HEARD TODAY — Trump ahead of meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas: “Israel is working very hard toward the same goal… So we will see if we can put it together. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. But I think we have a good chance (for peace).” [Video

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Muzin’s work for Qatar raises eyebrows” by Theodoric Meyer: “The relatively small world of Jewish Republicans in Washington hasn’t been able to stop talking about Nick Muzin… Muzin’s decision to work for Qatar was the talk of Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s Rosh Hashanah party last week, according to three sources present, as well as the Republican Jewish Coalition’s meeting in Washington the next day. “His name was on everybody’s lips,” one source said. “Everybody was talking about it.” — There were “three main areas of puzzlement about Muzin” at the Dermer party, according to another attendee: Why “he would work for a client as grotesque as Qatar”; how he intended to sell Jewish leaders on meeting with Qatar, which has been accused of funding the Palestinian group Hamas; and why he wasn’t getting paid more for such controversial work.” [Politico

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is organizing a protest outside the Qatari embassy in Washington, DC next Thursday to “demand the Qatari government use its influence over the terrorist group Hamas to unconditionally and immediately return the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul.”

“Trump Warned Saudis Off Military Move on Qatar” by Jennifer Jacobs: “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates considered military action in the early stages of their ongoing dispute with Qatar before Donald Trump called leaders of both countries and warned them to back off… Trump, who initially sided with the Saudi-led bloc, had a change of heart because of evidence that a prolonged dispute with Qatar will serve as an advantage to Iran… Trump met with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday… Trump confronted the Qatari leader with what one U.S. official said is evidence that Qatar is still engaged in terrorism-related activity and told him it has to stop.” [Bloomberg]

ON THE HILL — Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), and James Lankford (R-OK) yesterday introduced the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which would make houses of worship eligible for FEMA Public Assistance program grants. Under the Stafford Act, houses of worship are ineligible for FEMA grants for the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of private nonprofit facilities. “Religious non-profit organizations, including churches, synagogues… and community centers should not be excluded from federal disaster assistance just because they are faith-based,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Bernie Sanders, Jewish Senate Colleagues Blast Netanyahu for Blocking Equality Among Israeli Jews” by Judy Maltz and Amir Tibon: “The seven Democratic senators are Ron Wyden (Oregon), Ben Cardin (Maryland), Dianne Feinstein (California), Al Franken (Minnesota), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Sanders (Vermont). “We fear actions like the conversion bill and the suspension of the Kotel agreement will strain the unique relationship between our two nations, particularly if the majority of American Jews see the movements to which they are committed denied equal rights in Israel,” the senators wrote. “Given all the challenges Israel faces on the international state, we urge you not to alienate committed Zionists.”” [Haaretz]

“Ellison compares illegal immigrants to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany” by Josh Delk: “Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is comparing giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to giving shelter to Jews fleeing the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. “And if you ask yourself ‘What would I do if I was a gentile in 1941, if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis? Would I give them sanctuary?'” Ellison said Monday in comments on President Trump’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”[TheHill]

Ambassador David Friedman on Charlottesville: “I’m not saying there’s no anti-Semitism, but nothing close to what has been in the news lately. I haven’t studied it, but from my own experience, the hard-core anti-Semites that you see on television, the real ugly ones, are a tiny tiny tiny minority of the U.S. population… Anti-Semitism from the right – neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan – that’s ugly, it’s unacceptable, and almost everyone who sees it immediately recoils from it. They say it’s horrible. Anti-Semitism from the left has been cleverly repackaged as anti-Israelism. That’s something that you can discuss at a cocktail party in Manhattan or Beverly Hills and no one will throw you out of the room. You can talk about how Israel is becoming an apartheid state and how Israel shouldn’t really exist, and it is much more acceptable because at first it doesn’t sound like the Ku Klux Klan, it sounds like an intellectual argument.” [IsraelHayom]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Michael Wright Exiting As Amblin Partners CEO; Steven Spielberg Takes Reins [Deadline] • Sony Pictures Classics Buys ‘Foxtrot,’ Israel’s Ophir Winner and Oscar Entry [IndieWire] • Bond King Bill Gross Falls to the Middle of the Pack [Bloomberg• Adelson, Wynn make Forbes list of top business minds [ReviewJournalForbes] • Billionaire Warren Buffett sings a duet with Stevie Wonder at star-studded Forbes 100th anniversary [DailyMail] • NYPost: Jann Wenner really blew it with Rolling Stone [NYPost]

LISTS, LISTS, LISTS — JPost announces “50 Influential Jews Of 2017.” Jared and Ivanka are 1, Gal Gadot at 2, and Israeli PM Netanyahu at 3. Interesting pick: Disney CEO Bob Iger at 9. [JPost] • The Algemeiner’s Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life [Algemeiner]

STARTUP NATION: “Augmedics is building augmented reality glasses for spinal surgery” by Romain Dillet: “Meet Augmedics, an Israeli startup working on augmented reality headsets for surgeons performing spinal surgery. Instead of making you look away from your patient, the device acts as a heads up display and gives you greatly enhanced perception.” [TechCrunch]

“A D.C. rabbi enlists some comic book collaborators for a blessed project” by John Kelly: “Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld… knew exactly where to turn: Brian [Ash], a classmate from his Yeshiva high school in the Bronx who used to sit at the back of class drawing caricatures of rabbis. Brian brought in Yehudi [Mercado] and the trio perfected the game… The game is called AlefBlessed… The back of each card contains textual references to the blessing in question. Ohev Sholom gives packs of the cards to its young members and sells them online. “When I printed 50,000, everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” Herzfeld said. “We’re almost out of them. I’m getting calls from rabbis around the world: ‘Please ship me some AlefBlessed cards.’ I’ve been contacted by two Judaica distributors who want to sell it.”” [WashPost]

Conan Meets With Refugees, Chats With Gal Gadot in Israel Special: “Speaking to some pedestrians, the host asks what the Israeli attitude is towards President Trump. “It’s a good show for us,” one of them replies. “Did you know that the president’s son-in-law is working very hard on making a peace plan [for the Middle East]. Jared Kushner has been studying very hard on the issue of Middle East peace,” O’Brien explained to the group, before pulling out a copy of the book Middle East Peace for Dummies and proclaiming that Kushner “read two pages and got confused and went home.” … At one point, O’Brien says that [Gal] Gadot is “the whole reason” he came to Israel, before excitedly knocking on the star’s door. Although he can’t contain his enthusiasm, Gadot seems less interested.” [THR Conan O’Brien’s Trip To Israel Was Hilarious — And Heartbreaking [HuffPost

“Evangelical Christians Head to Jerusalem to Rally Behind Israel” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Thousands will pour in from more than 80 countries to the streets of Jerusalem in early October for an annual march celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Jewish festival of Sukkot… “After the elections, being pro-Israel became a part of the establishment, rather than part of the opposition,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz… “I do believe that this year’s increase in tourism and overall growth in charitable giving can be partially attributed to the fact that the Trump administration is seen to be extremely pro-Israel.” Although some fundraisers haven’t seen a Trump-related uptick in donations, Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, saw the U.S. president’s May visit as a peerless opportunity to recruit Christian support.”[Bloomberg]

“You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Celebrate Rosh Hashana” by Bari Weiss: “The morning of Jan. 1 is when the counting of calories recommences: We join Weight Watchers; we splurge on gym memberships. Rosh Hashana requires a deeper kind of counting. That process is called “heshbon hanefesh,” literally an “accounting of the soul.” The stocktaking requires serious reflection on the past year… The remembering is not just a private act: We are required to ask for forgiveness for those we have hurt during the past year. Some rely on mass emails, but we are meant to be as specific as possible, to make the apologies personal and precise. It’s like the ninth step of A.A. But every year.” [NYTimes]

“As building booms in Chelsea area, rabbis hope for Jewish renaissance” by Laura Crimaldi: “Walking in Chelsea’s waterfront one day, [Rabbi Sruli] Baron said an older man in a car pulled up beside him, slammed on the brakes, and rolled down the window. “What’s your name? What are you doing here?” the man asked. “I can’t remember the last time I saw an Orthodox Jew walking around Chelsea.” That history, Baron said, holds great promise for the Jewish community’s future in the area. “It’s just fascinating to imagine that so much Jewish life was here,” he said. “The history allows us to envision in real, practical ways the rich future that the community could have.””[BostonGlobe]

BIRTHDAYS: After a 40 year career at the New York Times, he founded The Hill and then helped launch Politico, journalist and author Martin Tolchinturns 89… Florida real estate developer who acquired 785 acres of mostly swamp land in South Florida for $6 million in 1967 and converted it to Aventura and Turnberry Isle Resort, Donald Soffer turns 85… Author, television personality and philanthropist, she is the widow of Aaron Spelling, Carole Gene “Candy” Spelling turns 72… Long-time SVP at Booz-Allen after a career than included two White House staff positions, former CEO of Special Olympics International, Bruce Pasternack turns 70… Engineer, inventor, philanthropist, co-founder of Broadcom and owner of the Anaheim Ducks, Henry Samueli turns 63… Rabbi of Congregation Beit Torat Chaim of Jakarta, Indonesia and the founder and director of Outreach Judaism, a counter-missionary organization, Rabbi Tovia Singer turns 57…

Civil rights attorney, author and legal analyst on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News and MSNBC, Lisa Bloom turns 56… Founder of PFAP Consulting, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, Ph.D. turns 35… National security, homeland security and foreign policy advisor to Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), James Mazol turns 31… Associate director of the Middle East Program at the DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, previously a political assistant at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Emily Grunewald turns 30… MBA candidate at Columbia Business School, she was a summer associate at New Enterprise Associates during 2017, Alison Bogdonoff turns 28… OneTable’s Zoe Plotsky turns 25… Manhattan resident, Isabel Tsesarsky turns 23… Bloomberg LP’s legal reporter, Drew Singer… Membership manager of the Sacramento-based California Solar Energy Industries Association, Carter Lavin (h/t Playbook)… Lauren Ackerman

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Kafe Knesset for September 8

Friday, September 8, 2017

Boom! After months of investigations, deliberations, leaks and discussions over Sara Netanyahu’s alleged criminal affairs – Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has officially announced that the PM’s wife will…

Screenshot 2017-09-06 at 1.31.37 PM

Kafe Knesset for September 7

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mum’s the word: Israeli officials, as always, kept mum this morning as the country woke up to news of an air strike on a military factory in Syria….


Amendment cutting US aid to UNRWA & UNHRC advances

Thursday, September 7, 2017

WASHINGTON – An amendment from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that would sever U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) — an agency that exclusively assists…


Rep. Pocan blasts Palestinian Authority for arresting Amro

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WASHINGTON – As one of the more outspoken Congressmen regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) spearheaded a June letter advocating on behalf of Palestinian activist Issa…

netanyahu plane

Kafe Knesset for September 6

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

From Hollywood to the interrogation room: The first rule of Fight Club is that there is no Fight Club. So maybe the fact that “Fight Club” producer Arnon…


Kafe Knesset for September 5

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Chief of Staff Curse: The criminal rope involving Netanyahu’s present advisors, past advisors and associates is increasingly tightening in recent days. The Police have shifted into high…