Daily Kickoff: Tillerson warns Palestinians: Trump could lose patience | Comcast CEO Brian Roberts preparing for the Maccabiah Games | Vocativ pivots


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HEARD YESTERDAY — Tillerson warns the Palestinians: Trump has a limited window of patience — by Aaron Magid: Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the Palestinians about the consequences of failing to take tangible steps towards peace and continuing payments to families of terrorists. “The President has been very clear with the Palestinian Authority [about the] actions he expects them to take,” said Tillerson. “He has a certain window of patience, a certain window which he will remain engaged and be interested… At some point, he is going to become disinterested. And when we become disinterested, that will certainly alter our level of support.”

Tillerson clarified his comments on Monday that the Palestinians have changed their policy on ‘martyr’ payments: “Those were assurances that were given to me on the most recent trip to Bethlehem. We have had conversations with them and told them they cannot continue these types of payments and expect that the American people to see any explanation for why they do that… We’ve taken the position to the Palestinian Authority in a very unequivocal way: ‘You either take care of this yourself or someone else will take care of it for you.’ … They have indicated that they would… They did say we have to support widows and orphans. I said, ‘Widows and orphans are one thing. Attaching payments as recognition of violence or murders is something the American people could never accept or understand.’”

On moving the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem: “That decision is under evaluation by the President… He has not made that decision to my knowledge.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) asked Tillerson if the State Department would “closely scrutinize” the recent $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and ensure they would not “adversely impact” Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) and oppose the transfer of F-35 aircraft? “We will ensure that all of those sales meet all of our obligations both to Israel and to others,” Tillerson replied. [JewishInsider

LATEST ON THE TAYLOR FORCE ACT — Sen. Bob Corker tells JI’s Aaron Magid: “We’re working on it and getting buy-in from all those interested in this bill.” JI: What is your stance on a complete cut-off of US aid to the Palestinians? Corker: I’m not saying what I oppose or don’t oppose. I’m just saying we are going to have a Taylor Force-like Act passed out of our committee before August recess.”

Sen. Ben Cardin: “I very much support what Senator Graham (R-SC) is attempting to do. I talked to Senator Graham several times about it. I talked to Senator Corker about it. I think we understand the bill may need some adjustments.” JI: Do you continue to oppose a complete cut-off of US aid to the Palestinians? Cardin: “I didn’t say that at all. I never said that.”

“Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Visit Israel Soon to Discuss Renewed Peace Talks, Israeli Official Says” by Barak Ravid, Jack Khoury and Amir Tibon: “A senior Israeli official stated that Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy on the peace process, will come to the region soon to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The official said that the visit may take place next week or right after Ramadan ends June 24.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — Trump, Israelis, Palestinians, and the Settlers — by Tal Shalev: The US special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, is due back in Israel for meetings with the government and the PA next week to continue President Trump’s peace efforts. Kafe Knesset has learned that Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, is expected to meet the PA Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, for the second time within the month in the upcoming weeks… Meanwhile, an old Israeli plan – to expand the Palestinian city of Qalqilya – is creating vocal discontent among the settlers and right wing politicians. The plan includes approval of 14,000 new housing units and is intended to provide a solution for Palestinian natural growth. This is part of the “carrot and stick plan” which was presented by Defense Minister Liberman last August and approved by the cabinet a month later.

Yesterday, MKs Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked issued an ultimatum demanding that the Qalqilya plan be halted unless and until 14,000 Jewish housing units are also approved in West Bank Area C. Bennett and Shaked voted against the “carrot and stick” plan at the cabinet meeting last September and yesterday they said said “it was and remains a reward for terrorism which advances the Palestinian takeover of Area C. Given the very limited scope of construction which was approved for Israeli communities, the Qalqilya plan’s significance increases and must be stopped.”

The Prime Minister’s Office rejected the critics’ claims as “incorrect and even absurd” stressing the plan was already approved last year and that since then more than 10,000 housing units have been approved in the settlements. Liberman slammed Bennett and Shaked’s “very puzzling announcement,” claiming that the current government “is the best for the settlement enterprise” adding that thousands of housing units were approved in the first half of 2017. “We are conducting a balanced policy, with one hand committed to promote and develop Jewish settlements, and the other one responsibly safeguarding our national interests in the international arena.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

GLATT FOR GREENBLATT AT UAE EMBASSY‏: “Thank you Amb. Al Otaiba for inviting me to the Iftar dinner at UAE Embassy & for providing me with kosher food. Ramadan Kareem!” [Pic

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Trump Has ‘Narrow Window’ to Pursue Mideast Peace, Livni Says” by Jonathan Ferziger and Michael Arnold: “Frankly, this is a president that nobody wants to say no to,” [Tzipi Livni] said in an interview… “We have different players and we have President Trump as the choreographer.” … Livni sees an opportunity Netanyahu must seize. “The timetable is very narrow,” she said. “Tomorrow, everything can change.” Given her experience leading peace talks, Livni was among the Israelis consulted by U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt earlier this year in his preparations for Trump’s diplomatic campaign. She declined to discuss their meetings.” [Bloomberg

TOP TALKER: Tillerson suggests State Department may be better off without anti-Semitism envoy post — by Jacob Kornbluh: “One of the questions I’ve asked is, if we’re really going to affect these areas, these special areas, don’t we have to affect it through the delivery on mission at every level at every country? And by having a special envoy, one of my experiences is, mission then says, ‘oh, we’ve got somebody else that does,’ and then they stop doing it,” he said during a hearing at the House Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations subcommittee, according to the JTA’s Ron Kampeas. The Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has ceased operations since April 28.

REACTIONS: Abe Foxman, Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, tells us: “Respectfully that is a lame excuse… This one person had at their disposal the totality of the State Department and the global missions. It made a difference for many Jews under threat who had experienced anti-Semitism. Not renewing this position will send a message that this president and his administration care less or not at all (about fighting anti-Semitism). By the way, the greatest threat of global anti-Semitism today comes from radical jihadist Islam – clearly a serious concern for this administration.” 

Former envoy Ira Forman emails… “I am afraid that the Secretary does not understand how the office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism works. I am confident that if he and his staff actually talk to our Department professionals at our embassies in our regional bureaus and even experts outside of government he will find unanimous support for the Special Envoy’s work.”

Rep. Ted Deutch: “What kind of message does it send to countries and Jewish communities around the world if the United States so easily cuts the office of the leading government envoy sounding the alarm on rising anti-Semitism?” [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump huddled with donors on day of Comey testimony” by Tara Palmeri and Kenneth Vogel: “On the same day last week that fired FBI Director James Comey delivered his damaging Senate testimony, President Donald Trump’s team summoned about a dozen top donors to the White House to rally support for Trump’s agenda. The donors — including Ken Griffin, Doug DeVos, Tom Hicks, Jr., Rebekah Mercer, Todd Ricketts, Tom Saunders, Paul Singer and Dick Uihlein — gathered in the Roosevelt Room on June 8 for a briefing from Trump’s legislative director Marc Short… These people said Trump himself stopped by the briefing to greet the donors, while Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway also spent time at the event.” [Politico]

“Can Jared Kushner’s SWAT Team of Mini-Mes Protect Him in the White House?” by Emily Jane Fox: “The lieutenants on the SWAT team share both his well-heeled pedigree, notable lack of political experience, and, in some cases, unfamiliarity to the Republican Party… In the basement of the West Wing, Reed Cordish, an assistant to the president who has been a lead on both Infrastructure Week and Workforce Development Week, shares an office with his counterpart Chris Liddell… They’re a stairway and a quick walk away from Josh Raffel, the office’s recently-appointed communications officer, who sits across from Avi Berkovitz, a special assistant to the president and Kushner’s assistant, who keeps all the Office of American Innovation’s trains running on time… As a group, they meet most days and break out into smaller groups to convene more often. Sometimes Kushner brings in pizza and beer for them, or invites them for dinner at the Kalorama home he shares with Ivanka Trump.”[VanityFair]  

ON THE HILL: “Senate backs legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia” by Patricia Zengerle: “The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for new sanctions punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election… The vote was 97 to two for the legislation, filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill… The Iran bill, including the Russia sanctions amendment, was expected to pass the Senate on Thursday or later on Wednesday. To take effect, the measure would also have to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by Trump… The only two “no” votes on the Russia bill were from Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul.” [Reuters]

“Obama’s Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, discusses the Iran deal in an interview about his legacy — by Alexis C. Madrigal: “Our hope, as was President Obama’s hope, was to minimize the role of nuclear weapons over time and certainly to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. With Iran, they have made a very strong commitment to never having a nuclear weapon. So, it is my expectation that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon. If they attempt to go there, it will be known and actions will be taken to, shall we say, discourage that. The Iran agreement stands on its own: If 15 years from now—or whatever is left of 15 years, 13.5 years—we chalk up the score, and say, yup, the [deal] was followed to the letter and now Iran is free to develop its peaceful nuclear program as it chooses, the deal was a success.” [TheAtlantic] • U.S. Accuses Iranian Naval Vessel in ‘Unsafe’ Strait of Hormuz Encounter [WSJ]

Trump visits Scalise in hospital — from the White House pool report: 
“[The] Trumps met with Scalise doctors, including Dr. Ira Rabin, Vice President for Medical Operations… Dr. Rabin was seen accompanying the Trumps to the exit when they left.” [Pic

“Suspect in congressional shooting was Bernie Sanders supporter, strongly anti-Trump” by Jose Pagliery: “On Wednesday, Senator Sanders publicly acknowledged that Hodgkinson had volunteered for his presidential campaign last year, but he denounced the violence as “despicable.”” [CNN]

“Robert Becker, who was the state director for Sanders’ presidential campaign in Iowa, told Yahoo News that Hodgkinson did not make an impression. “Nobody remembers this guy. That doesn’t mean he didn’t come in and knock some doors one Saturday, but he didn’t stand out,” said Becker. “Nobody remembers him.” [YahooNews]

“Eric Cantor praises injured Capitol Police officers who kept him safe” by Scott Wise: “Krystal Griner and David Bailey… the Capitol Police officers shot and injured during Wednesday morning’s attack… were members of former House majority leader Eric Cantor’s security detail…. “I was honored to have them serve in my security detail when I was majority leader. Their acts of bravery and heroism demonstrated this morning during the horrible attack in Alexandria are consistent with the individuals I know who never tired of being on alert no matter the threat,” [Cantor said].” [WTVR

“It feels like America is descending into chaos” by John Podhoretz: “We all know the kindling is there. The baseball-field shooter was a consumer of far-left anti-Republican media; it would only take one consumer of media on the other side to seek to equalize the suffering to ignite a national powder keg. I don’t want to invoke all the clichés of the past decade but you know them all — we’re a divided nation, we’re all living in our own bubbles, we don’t even accept the same facts and we hate each other. The problem is these clichés are largely true.” [NYPost]

“When Prayer Alone Does Not Suffice” by David Frum: “Even as Americans keep the latest victims of a mass shooting in their thoughts, they have an obligation to figure out how to prevent any recurrence… Prayer refreshes the soul and clears the mind. It opens the way to repentance and improvement. But prayer alone does not lift from human beings the duty to do what they have the power to do. And that’s not my personal opinion. It’s also the opinion, emphatically declared, of the God to whom believers in the Bible address their prayers. In the stately words of the King James translation, Isaiah 1:15: ‘And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.’”[TheAtlantic]

SCENE YESTERDAY IN DC: Steve Clemons hosted and moderated a conversation in the library of the Watergate Hotel titled “Watergate 45 Years Ago And Now?,” featuring Atlantic Magazine editor Scott Stossel, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins and Thomas Mallon, author of Watergate: A Novel. The event was co-hosted by the ownersof The Watergate Hotel, Rakel and Jacques Cohen. [Video]

SPOTTED: Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Sally Quinn, Quinn Bradlee, Yael Luttwak, James Barbour, Jed Shein, Annie Groer, David and Danielle Frum, Tomicah Tillemann, Indira Lakshmanan, Allen Abel, Kevin Chaffee, Grover Norquist, Michael Mael, Gary Silversmith, and U.K. Ambassador Kim Darroch. h/t Playbook

IN NYC: The Hudson Institute hosted their annual Board of Trustees reception at the penthouse apartment of Joe and Marlene Ricketts. The event featured a conversation with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley moderated by Hudson CEO Ken Weinstein. SPOTTED: Wally and Betsy Stern, Sarah Stern, Mark Rosenblatt, Paul Singer, Todd Ricketts, Sylvie Legere, Joe and Marlene Ricketts, Barbara Winston, Joel Winton, Annie Dickerson, Joshua Landes, Bryna Landes, Chris DeMuth, Jeffrey Berenson, Ed Cox, Bob Immerman, Larry Leeds, Walter Russell Mead, Lewis Libby, John Walters, Matt Hunter, Brian Blake, Stan and Barbara Atkins, Jeffrey Peek, Gabriel Berger, Jon Lerner, Michael Haley, Cheryl Halpern, Cheryl Fishbein, Margaret Whitehead.

IN LOS ANGELES: The American Friends of Yad Vashem celebrated its “Generation to Generation” 2017 Gala last night before a packed ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The featured honoree was KISS co-founder and singer Gene Simmons, along with his mother Flora Klein. “My name is Chaim Witz,” the legendary singer said in Hebrew when he took the stage, his voice choked with emotion. “I am an Israeli. I am a Jew.”  Simmons, dressed in a dark jacket and wearing his trademark sunglasses and pile of jet black hair, repeated the same phrase in Hungarian, then in German. Then he translated it into English. Simmons accepted the Legacy Award for his mother Flora Klein, who remained home in Long Island. As a 14 year-old girl, Klein was deported to Auschwitz, where she saw her mother, brother and entire extended family killed.  She survived, moved to Haifa, where Simmons was born in 1949. Simmons credited his mother for his drive, toughness and hopefulness. “’Any day above ground is a good day,’ she always says,” said Simmons.

Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson presented Rita Spiegel and the Spiegel Family with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Adelson said it was Rita’s father Abraham Spiegel, who survived Auschwitz with his wife Edita, who inspired him to get involved in Jewish philanthropy. The night’s other honorees were Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff, producers of the movie, Denial. Also in attendance: Consul General of Israel Sam Grundwerg, Leonard Wilf, chairman of ASYV, Gala Chair Karen Sandler, Samara Hutman, Jay Sanderson, Marilyn and Tom Spiegel, Ron Meier, William Bernstein, Jess Dolgin, Jake Farber, Herb Glaser, Paul Stanley, and Jeffrey Glassman.

** 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: Israel’s prime minister: Mediterranean pipeline would be ‘revolution’ [WashPost] • American Dream Deferred: Goldman Delays Pricing of Mall Bonds [Bloomberg] • Altice USA moving HQ from Bethpage to Long Island City [Newsday]  Yellen Deflects Question on Whether She Would Stay on at Fed [Bloomberg] • Ben Lerer’s Group Nine Media says it got 114M social engagements last month [TechCrunch] • Stewart Butterfield’s Slack, the Group-Chat App Everyone Hates to Love, Could Be Worth $9 Billion… And Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos could be a buyer [VanityFair]

SPOTLIGHT: “‘Deep web’ publication lays off 22 in shift to video” by Keith Kelly: “Vocativ, a four-year old web site that billed itself as a company searching for investigative stories from the “deep web,” has laid off 22 staffers — nearly all of its editorial staff — as it shifts gears to a video-only company. Vocativ was founded by Israeli businessman Mati Kochavi, who made a fortune by selling to the Abu Dhabi government closed circuit surveillance cameras produced by Logic Industries, a subsidiary of his AGT International. Early in its life, Vocativ was losing $20 million a year, sources said… Kochavi also developed a close connection with Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel. Emanuel was frequently spotted in editorial meetings at Vocativ, sources said.” [NYPost] • Flashback to 2013: “Vocativ Brings The Tools Of The Spy World Into The Newsroom” [Forbes]

PEER-TO-PEER: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts talked with David Rubenstein about his love of the game of squash and his experience competing in the Maccabiah games in the latest episode of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations”

Rubenstein: In college you were a squash player and an all-American squash player…

Roberts: “I love the sport and the best players in the world, which I never was close to, are super and superb athletes and as good as any athletes, I think, in any sport. When I got to Penn I got a squash coach and he really drilled into me hard work, winning, strategy, tactics. I went on and played a great run in squash and had a chance to compete internationally after college.”

Rubenstein: So now you compete still at the Maccabiah games. You’ve won the gold medal there and the silver medal, and you are now going to play again there?

Roberts: “My children have both done it. My two daughters and my son said, let’s you and I do it, dad. So we are going to go this summer to Israel and compete one more time. It will be my sixth time. I proposed to my wife on one of the trips. It has had a really significant meaning in my life to be able to compete, represent my country, be a Jewish athlete, and at the same time share my family experiences as we have all played the sport and had a lot of fun with it.”

Rubenstein: “You are now in your 50s. Is it hard to get in shape to play in the Maccabiah games when you are in your 50s?

Roberts: “I was retired for about 10 years and it is very hard – in a short answer – every body part of mine hurts right now from training. But it gives you a purpose. I guess I like goals. It is very similar to Comcast, and you don’t always win, but it is fun to try.” [JewishInsider]

“Israeli author David Grossman wins Man Booker International prize” by Sian Cain: “David Grossman’s “ambitious high-wire act of a novel”, A Horse Walks into a Bar, set around a standup comic’s rambling and confessional routine in an Israeli comedy club, has won the Man Booker International prize for the year’s best fiction in translation. Set in a small Israeli town, the novel is focused entirely on the act of comedian Dovaleh Greenstein. Taking to the stage to needle his audience with vulgar and aggressive jokes, Greenstein’s repellent performance begins to crumble as he reveals a fateful and gruesome decision he once made, which has haunted him ever since… Grossman, a bestselling writer of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books who has been translated into 36 languages, will share the £50,000 prize with his English translator, Jessica Cohen.” [Guardian

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Non-kissing cousins! Deutsch fighting challenge from family member” by Julianne Cuba: “Community Board 14 member Kalman Yeger, who announced last week he is running for the Council, is slamming his cousin-in-law and competitor for the seat, incumbent Councilman Chaim Deutsch, claiming he makes too much money from his private real estate to be an effective member of the city’s legislative body. “He’s one of the few council members who earns an outside income … while we are paying him to do a job,” said Yeger during a phone call on June 13. “It’s an outrage we are being ripped off.”… Yeger held a fund-raiser last month and has $84,615 in the bank for his campaign to oust the man who is married to Yeger’s cousin Sara.” [BrooklynDaily]

DESSERT: “The ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ Is Now a Tequila Drinker” by John Kell: “On Wednesday, Astral Tequila unveiled new advertisements that will feature [Jonathan] Goldsmith—who starred as the pitchman for Dos Equis beer for about a decade—instead advocating adult beverage drinkers enjoy tequila. “I told you, I don’t always drink beer,” Goldsmith says in the spot. “Astral Tequila.” In the ad, he notably does not mention Dos Equis by name.” [Fortune]

BIRTHDAYS: Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried turns 93… Iranian-born British billionaire, his companies employ 70,000 people in 67 countries, he was knighted in 1989 and made a life peer in 2004, Baron David Alliance turns 85… Co-founder with his father and brothers of Canadian radio and television conglomerate, Astral Media in 1961, he was president and CEO from 1996 until its $3.3 billion sale to Bell Canada in 2013, Ian Greenberg turns 75… Author, attorney, public speaker and president of the National Rifle Association (2005-2007) where she has served on the board since 1992, Sandra S. (Sandy) Froman turns 68… Billionaire, entrepreneur, currently living in Estonia, vice president of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, he has rebuilt a synagogue and a community center in Estonia, Alexander Bronstein Ph.D. turns 63… President and CEO of the public relations firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman turns 63… Born and educated in NYC, he moved to Warsaw in 2000 and became Chief Rabbi of Poland in 2004, Rabbi Michael Schudrich turns 62… Beverly Hills-based attorney at Harder Mirell & Abrams specializing in entertainment, intellectual property and litigation, former board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams turns 50… Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy managing editor at The New York Times where he manages the NYT’s digital platforms, Clifford J. Levy turns 50… CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash (born Dana Ruth Schwartz) turns 46… News and finance anchor at Yahoo! News and contributor to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, previously a weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, Bianna Golodryga turns 39… Director of Board Relations at Birthright Israel Foundation, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani turns 31… Digital journalist and producer for ABC News, daughter of Max Weinberg (longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), Ali S. Weinberg Rogin turns 30… Gerald Adler… Eli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter… Stuart Turtle… Joel Winton

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Daily Kickoff: Momentum for Taylor Force Act, Sen. Manchin now a co-sponsor | Jason Greenblatt, the next Tevi Troy? | Eduardo Elsztain’s $700M gamble


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BREAKING THIS AM: “Rep. Steve Scalise — as well as a congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force — was shot Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, in what sources are calling an apparent “deliberate attack.” As of 9:45 a.m. ET, Scalise was in stable condition but undergoing surgery, according to a statement from his office.” [CNN]

ON THE HILL: Corker Hopes to Pass Taylor Force Act by August — by Aaron Magid: Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee indicated on Tuesday that the committee will vote on the Taylor Force Act before Congress goes on recess in August. “It’s my hope that before we go home for the August recess that we will have passed out of committee a Taylor Force-like piece of legislation” to address the issue of Palestinian Authority payments to families of terrorists, Corker said during a public hearing on the State Department’s budget featuring Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Addressing the PLO’s payments, Tillerson noted, “Let me assure you Senator, it was discussed directly when President Abbas made his visit with his delegation to Washington. The President (Trump) raised it and I had a much more detailed bilateral with him (Abbas) later that day. I told him: ‘You absolutely must stop making payments of family members of quote martyrs.’ I said it’s one thing to help orphans and children but when you designate the payment for that act: That has to stop.” [JewishInsider]

“Despite Tillerson reassurance, Palestinians not stopping ‘martyr’ payments” by Ali Sawafta: “Palestinian officials say there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis, contradicting comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson… “There have been talks about making the payments in a different way, but not ending them,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on discussions held with the Americans. “They could perhaps be labeled differently,” he said, suggesting the description “martyr” could be dropped, but he added: “They are not going to be stopped.”” [Reuters]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Secretary Tillerson’s statement, that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has changed its policy of paying salaries to families of terrorists, caught Jerusalem by surprise. Early this morning a senior PMO official clarified that “Israel has no knowledge of any change in Palestinian policy, which continues to pay to the families of terrorists. The Palestinian Authority continues to praise, incite and encourage terrorism through payments.” A few hours later, the Knesset approved a first reading of a new law that would deduct the PA’s terrorism payments from the Israeli tax revenues that are distributed to the PA.

The new law was approved by a wide cross section of members, with 78 MKs voting in support and only 13 voting against. The bill, sponsored by opposition MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), was supported by the government coalition as well as by the Zionist Union. The Arab MKs were fuming over the consensus support. Joint List (Arab) MK Yosef Jabarin presented the opposition to the bill, which he defined as a “populist bill and collective punishment. There is hardly a Palestinian family that does not include a security prisoner.” Jewish Home’s Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan blasted “just declare that you support terror.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

Taylor Force Act, now with bipartisan backing: The measure currently has 13 co-sponsors, including Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) who recently added his name to the bill. [JewishInsider]

Sander Gerber, who lobbied Manchin on the issue, tells us: “Like others, Senator Manchin was shocked to learn that the PA has a formal legal and bureaucratic infrastructure to incentivize violence against Israel- funded by donor countries. The American taxpayer should applaud his stand to keep our dollars out of the hands of terror sponsoring entities.”

AIPAC Spokesman Marshall Wittmann: “We strongly support the legislation’s goals and we are working with Congress to build broad bipartisan support that will require the Palestinian leadership to end these abhorrent payments.”

“Senate Narrowly Backs Trump Weapons Sale to Saudi Arabia” by Helene Cooper: “Senators voted, 53 to 47, to pave the way to sell $500 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, batting back an effort to block the deal and saving Mr. Trump from what would have been a major embarrassment… Trump administration officials spent the hours before the vote frantically making phone calls and holding briefings with lawmakers to stave off a defeat, which would have been the first time in decades that a congressional body summarily rejected a weapons sale to Saudi Arabia.” [NYTimes]

Dore Gold’s latest — “This past Sunday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for dismantling UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency). He charged that the very existence of UNRWA “perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem rather than solves it.” [JPost]

An insider tells us: “Bibi’s backing of UNRWA reform is a big deal beacuse for the longest time the obstacle to getting it done has been the Israelis.”

“Jewish groups struggle to gain White House access points” by Michael Wilner: “Presidents since Jimmy Carter have hired White House Jewish liaisons to serve as point men for the community. But the position has been vacant since January 20, and the White House has no plans to fill it, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday… Jason Greenblatt was behind the guest list for an Israeli Independence Day reception in April, which included more conservative-leaning Jewish groups, said one attendee. Tom Rose, a close confidante of Vice President Mike Pence, has become another critical connection for several Jewish organizations. Greenblatt may become the next Tevi Troy, a George W. Bush administration official who served in 2003 as both deputy cabinet secretary and Jewish liaison, said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy for the Orthodox Union.” [JPost]

“Trump’s Personal Lawyer Boasted That He Got Preet Bharara Fired” by Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott: “Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, has boasted to friends and colleagues that he played a central role in the firing of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, according to four people familiar with the conversations. Kasowitz told Trump, “This guy is going to get you,” according to a person familiar with Kasowitz’s account. Those who know Kasowitz say he is sometimes prone to exaggerating when regaling them with his exploits. But if true, his assertion adds to the mystery surrounding the motive and timing of Bharara’s firing.”[ProPublica]

“Trump Stews, Staff Steps In, and Mueller Is Safe for Now” by Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, supported firing Mr. Comey, but he has been less pugnacious lately, administration officials said. Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, has adopted a more temperate tone, telling her husband that she believed the appointment of Mr. Mueller would speed resolution of the Russia scandal and expressing her view that he would be exonerated, according to two people with direct knowledge of her advice.” [NYTimes]

NYPOST’S ‘DEEP DIVE’: “Ivanka and Jared don’t let Sabbath get in the way of golf” by Gabrielle Fonrouge and Bruce Golding: “President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law don’t let their religious practices interfere with their love of the links at his Bedminster country club. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner follow the Jewish prohibition on Sabbath business transactions by not paying the caddy who carries their golf bags on Saturdays until the next day, a club worker said. Their tips are generous — usually $100 on top of the $200-per-round, the worker said. But experts in Jewish law say that playing golf on Saturdays isn’t kosher — even without exchanging cash or using carts, which the couple shuns.” [NYPost• Expect the Post to get a fair amount of complaints about running this…

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Adelson’s Sands Joins Casinos in Fight Against Clean-Energy Bill [Bloomberg] • Uber Director David Bonderman Apologizes and Resigns for ‘Inappropriate’ Comment About Women [WSJRecode• Ahoy! Michael Dezer buys former Nautical Furnishings warehouse in Fort Lauderdale for $6M [RealDeal] • Naomi Klein Is Sick of Benevolent Billionaires[NYTimes] • What does the future hold for Arabic entrepreneurs in Israel? [TechCrunch] • Israeli cybersecurity firm Tufin opens U.S. HQ in Boston, sees IPO in future [BizJournals]

SPOTLIGHT: “Soros Protege Makes a $700 Million Gamble” by Yaacov Benmeleh and Pablo Rosendo Gonzalez: “Eduardo Elsztain thought he could succeed where dealmakers like Jared Kushner, Patrick Drahi and Matthew Bronfman didn’t: In Israel, the land of his business dreams. The Argentine businessman has achieved plenty elsewhere. Back in 1990, it took him just an hour to persuade George Soros to give him $10 million to invest. He parlayed that and other investments into a holding company that by 1997 had made about $360 million in acquisitions…”

“But in the Jewish state, he has spent five years and almost $700 million trying to turn around IDB Development Corp., Israel’s largest conglomerate. There’s no telling whether he’ll pull it off. He needs to sell a key asset to help repay $1.5 billion to debtholders in the next three years—while fighting regulators’ demands. “Most people told me ‘Beware: you’re going to Israel and you will lose money.’ I heard it 1,000 times,” Elsztain, 57, said over a kosher breakfast at Bloomberg headquarters in New York in April, adding that he’s seen worse conditions in Argentina. “We are committed to this investment.” If Elsztain succeeds, he’ll be turning recent history on its head. About 10 wealthy foreign Jews have foundered in Israel in the past few years, either paying too much for assets, or getting into conflict with regulators and partners, or walking away from deals.” [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: “Chinese fund MizMaa to invest $100m in Israel” by Idan Rabi: “A new venture capital fund originating in China will invest $100 million in Israel, sources inform “Globes.” The new fund is called MizMaa Ventures – a combination of the Hebrew words for east and west. The fund began operating a year ago, and has operated under the radar up until now. MizMaa has obtained funding from three wealthy Chinese families, with most of the money coming from the Chen family, believed to be the 58th wealthiest family in the world. Leading MizMaa’s activity is Chinese investment banker and former JPMorgan Asia Investment Banking VP Catherine Leung, together with former Bank of America executive Isaac Applbaum, who lives in San Francisco, and also chairs the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.” [Globes]

SPOTTED IN ISRAEL — Peter Thiel giving a talk on entrepreneurship yesterday at the Peres Center for Peace [Pic• See Thiel’s book Zero to One in Hebrew [Pic] h/t Adam Finkel

Former PM Ehud Barak posted a photo with Thiel in Tel Aviv [Pic]

SPORTS BLINK: “Alex Rodriguez swings for the fences in the business world” by Rachel Cao: “The baseball legend recounted how he started investing in a small duplex that grew into a large entity called ARod Corp., which manages more than 15,000 apartment units in 12 states… Rodriguez listed big name investors such as Barry Sternlicht, Marc Lasry and Warren Buffett as some of his mentors in the ways of finance and business, but he also acknowledged he needs to put in the work to succeed.” [CNBC]

Warriors to decide on White House visit ‘when and if necessary’ —“Shortly before the team issued its statement, Warriors owner Joe Lacob was asked about a potential White House visit during an interview with ESPN’s First Take. “I can’t believe we’re getting this question already,” Lacob said. “But honestly, that’s something we’ll worry about at the time. That’s a long time from now.”” [ESPNCNN]

DESSERT: “Israeli Cuisine Is Complex, Contentious, and on the Rise in New York” by Sierra Tishgart: “In just the last year or so, that’s changed completely: Israeli-leaning Nur, Miss Ada, and Kubeh have opened in New York in 2017, joining other relative newcomers like Timna, Dizengoff, Bar Bolonat, Glasserie, and Nish Nush. Israeli chef Elior Balbul will introduce Alenbi, an Israeli fine-dining restaurant, in Crown Heights this summer. This phenomenon in New York follows what’s happening around the country: The James Beard Foundation crowned Mike Solomonov “Outstanding Chef” for Philadelphia’s Zahav, and gave a “Rising Star Chef” award to Zachary Engel, of Shaya in New Orleans. In L.A, Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson earned Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” title for Kismet, and Sqirl’s Jessica Koslow will open an 8,000-square-foot, all-day restaurant named Tel, as in Tel Aviv, early next year.” [GrubStreet]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Around a hundred Jewish community leaders and activists gathered at the Israeli Embassy in Washington to honor LGBT pride month. The featured speaker was Talleen Abu Hana, who was the first winner of the Miss. Trans Israel beauty pageant. The event began with a moment of silence for the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub. Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer also spoke and noted that LGBT organizations have operated openly in Israel for the past 40 years. “Our country allowed me, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, to end the war between my soul and my body. So if Israel made peace for me, it shows that our country is a country of peace,” Abu Hana added. The event was held in conjunction with the Congressional LGBT equality caucus and A Wider Bridge.

SPOTTED: JFNA’s William Daroff, Jason Attermann, Jewish Agency’s Avi Mayer, Rabbi Jack Moline, AIPAC’s Marvin Feuer & Marilyn Rosenthal, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, Liz Leibowitz, Argentinian Embassy’s Sergio Gunella, JFNA’s Bruce Maclver, B’nai Tzedek’s Rabbi Stuart, A Wider Bridge’s Arthur Slepian, Matt Nosanchuk, Robert Saferstein.

BIRTHDAYS: 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump turns 71… Writer, editor and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Leon Wieseltier turns 65… Emmy Award-winning television news anchor on NBC (2003-2007) and CNN (2008-2010), now Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, Campbell Brown turns 49… Russian-born billionaire and philanthropist, now a UK resident, Leonard “Len” Blavatnik turns 60… Civil rights activist with the NAACP in the US and for Peace Now when she lived in Ashkelon (1972-1983), June Shagaloff Alexander turns 89… Retired Soviet nuclear scientist, now writing from Skokie on Jewish intellectual spirituality, Vladimir Minkov, Ph.D. turns 84… Member of Knesset (1988-2003) and twice Israel’s Minister of Finance, Mayor of Arad for twenty years and son-in-law of former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol, Avraham (“Beiga”) Shochat turns 81… Senior Vice President for Synagogue and Rabbinic Initiatives at the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Dr. Beryl Geber turns 80… Former French UN Ambassador (2000-2002), French Ambassador to the USA (2002-2007), then diplomatic advisor to former French Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy (2007-2012), Jean-David Levitte turns 71… Political activist Pamela Geller turns 59… Principal at M+R Strategic Services, a consulting firm for non-profits with 130 employees, William Benjamin (“Bill”) Wasserman turns 58…  Global communications executive at Nike, previously an official at USAID, Daniel M. Gaynor turns 36… NYC-based businessman, son of Russian oligarch and former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Pavel Khodorkovsky turns 32… Freelance writer specializing in European and Israeli politics, Liam Hoare… Joanna Lerner

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Daily Kickoff: Not just bar mitzvah gifts, Warren Buffett promotes Israel bonds | JI Interview: Rep. Jim Banks | How Daniel Schwartz saved Burger King


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HAPPENING THURSDAY: “Warren Buffett to encourage investing in Israel bonds” by Jonathan Stempel: “Billionaire investor Warren Buffett will travel to New York this week to help Israel sell government bonds… Development Corporation for Israel, which underwrites the bonds in the United States and is commonly known as Israel Bonds, said Buffett will meet privately on Thursday with U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Brazilian investors who have each signaled plans to buy between $1 million and $5 million of the bonds… The event will include a luncheon with Larry Silverstein, who helped found Silverstein Properties and is the developer of the One World Trade Center site in Manhattan. Buffett owns $5 million of Israeli bonds in his personal portfolio, Israel Bonds said.” [Reuters]

CLERGY SURVEY: “Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows” by Kevin Quealy: “Like their congregants, religious leaders have sharply divided themselves along political lines. Leaders and congregants of Unitarian and African Methodist Episcopal churches are overwhelmingly Democratic, as are those of Reform and Conservative Jewish synagogues. Those of several Evangelical and Baptist churches are overwhelmingly Republican. If religious denominations were states, almost all of them would be considered “Safely Democratic” or “Safely Republican,” with relatively few swing states… “They’re like members of Congress,” [researcher Eitan] Hersh said. “They have constituents, but they’re also expected to lead.”” [NYTimes

The findings: 82% of Reform rabbis and 71% of Conservative rabbis are registered Democrats. Among Orthodox rabbis, 39% identify as Democrats and 25% Republicans. [FullResults]

TOP TALKER: “Mattis Quietly Keeps Distance From Trump’s Most Divisive Moves” by Helene Cooper. Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt: “At a time when other military brass in the Trump administration — retired and active duty — have shed their cloaks of political neutrality, [Defense Secretary Jim] Mattis has avoided publicly backing the president’s most divisive moves. “For him to do his job, he has to be apolitical,” said Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon’s top financial officer in the first term of President George W. Bush… Mr. Zakheim contrasted the relative reticence of Mr. Mattis with the support of Mr. Trump on partisan issues by the other generals in the administration — John F. Kelly… and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL — The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs announced last night a bipartisan deal that would advance a floor vote on the Iran sanctions bill. The amendment — attached to the bill imposing new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic-missile testing, support of terrorism and human-rights violations — maintains and substantially expands sanctions against Russia in response to its violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, continued aggression in Syria, and interference in the 2016 election. The deal would also give Congress at least 30 days to review and block President Trump from lifting or easing Russia sanctions. A procedural vote is expected Wednesday.

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz emails us… “Heartening to see broad bipartisan support for targeting two of the most severe threats to the security of the United States and our Middle Eastern and European allies. In particular, Iranian and Russian complicity in the Syria slaughter created a jihadist Chernobyl which fueled the rise of ISIS, terror attacks in Europe and the U.S., and an Iranian and ISIS threat on Israel’s Syrian border.”

ANOTHER AMENDMENT: “John Cornyn amendment targets Iran’s largest airline” by Susan Ferrechio: “Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn plans to introduce an amendment… [that] would require Homeland Security to list airports where Mahan Air operates and come up with increased security measures for Americans traveling to those airports. Mahan Air, Cornyn said “is a conduit for personnel, weapons, and a violent ideology throughout the region.”” [WashExaminer]

IRAN DEAL: “Iran says Trump administration will end up abiding by nuclear deal” by Gwladys Fouche: “Unfortunately the behavior from the new administration in Washington is not very promising,” [Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad] Zarif told reporters… “We believe that at the end of the day they will find it necessary to abide by the deal. I believe the U.S. administration will find it in the interest of the United States, as well as the interest of international peace and security, to live up to its commitments.”[Reuters]

HAPPENING TODAY: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be testifying this morning at 10:00 AM before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal. This will be Tillerson’s first Congressional testimony since he assumed his post. One can likely expect tough questions from Democrats about how the State Department will be prioritizing foreign assistance and human rights programs in their yearly spending, especially given aid cuts to key US allies such as Jordan and Morocco. He will also be appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. During Tillerson’s confirmation hearing, Senator Marco Rubio asked pointed questions about the US relationship with Russia, which will likely be a prominent theme in today’s session. [Livestream

JI INTERVIEW — Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) discussed his service in Afghanistan, his work in Congress, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a wide-ranging interview with JI’s Aaron Magid. Banks was first elected to serve in the Indiana State Senate in 2010, and upon military deployment to Afghanistan in September 2014 he took a leave of absence. His wife Amanda temporarily took over for him in the state legislature. Banks even managed to win an election campaign while serving in Afghanistan and was sworn in to the new term while deployed overseas. He then decided to run for Congress. “While I was deployed, my predecessor (Marlin Stutzman) announced that he was running for the Senate,” Banks recalled. “So, I came home, walked off the plane and immediately became a candidate. It struck me that my experience in Afghanistan was unique and that I am the most recently deployed member of Congress and that valuable experience could lend itself a great deal of credibility to what I do here.”

Banks on Trump’s Mideast peace push: “We are a long way off from drawing any conclusions. So far, I have been pleased with the rhetoric of the campaign to his early leadership in his administration: the attention that he has provided Israel by visiting, and Netanyahu very graciously has shown support for President Trump and his interactions. That goes a long way in telling me that this president is fulfilling a pro-Israel agenda that he campaigned on… In my experience serving in Afghanistan to serving in Congress believe fundamentally that the stronger that Israel is the better off America is and Israel is securing peace in that region so I believe anything America can do to further support a strong Israel is the greatest deterrent to those who aren’t acting in the best interest of America and creating havoc in that part of the world.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

“Friend Says Trump Is Considering Firing Mueller as Special Counsel” by Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman: “A longtime friend of President Trump said on Monday that Mr. Trump was considering whether to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the president’s campaign and Russian officials… Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, scoffed at the idea that the president might fire Mr. Mueller. “If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller,” Mr. Schiff said in a tweet. “Don’t waste our time.”” [NYTimes• ‘Jared Kushner could take it over’: Anderson Cooper skewers rumor Trump may fire special counsel Mueller [RawStory]

“Historian Sarna warns of anti-Semitic backlash in US if Kushner indicted” by Amanda Borschel-Dan: “We ought to be prepared for that eventuality. Somebody ought to be writing a memo,” said [Prof. Jonathan] Sarna. “If [Jared] Kushner is indicted, we need to be prepared… The people who will make hay of Mr. Kushner always knew that there was a Jewish conspiracy — even before there was such a thing. But smart Jewish leaders need to be forward looking,” Sarna told The Times of Israel.” [ToI]

“Trump insider pursuing bid for FBI building contract, raising questions of conflict of interest” by Matthew Mosk: “Vornado Realty Trust, a giant New York real estate firm whose founder and chairman, Steven Roth, is a longtime friend of and occasional adviser to Trump, is one of three finalists for the rights to develop a new FBI headquarters and campus in the Washington, D.C., region… Through business partnerships with both the Trump Organization and the Kushner Co., Roth’s firm has a level of financial co-dependence with the first family… Through a spokesman, Kushner told ABC News he will work hard to avoid any conflict between his White House work and his family business. “Jared takes the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration,” a White House official told ABC News.” [ABCNewsNYDailyNews]

VIRAL VIDEO: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday mocked President Trump’s first cabinet meeting, in which he oddly sought praise from his cabinet secretaries. “I just thought we’d go ’round the room.” Schumer turns to some of his aides seated around a conference table in a video posted on Twitter. “Your tone was perfect,” says one staffer about a Sunday morning television appearance. “Michelle, how’d my hair look coming out of the gym this morning?” Schumer asks another staffer. “You have great hair. Nobody has better hair than you,” she replies. A third staffer interrupts, “Before we go any further, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda.” The video ends with Schumer banging his hand on the table and bursting out in laughter. [Video]

“Trump Reportedly Told Russia About Israeli Hack of ISIS; Republicans Don’t Care” by Jeremy Stahl: 
“Republicans in Congress have shown little interest in investigating the episode. I spoke with Rep. Darrell Issa—a member of the House Oversight Committee… and the congressman told me that the matter was “settled.” … “No, it’s not a settled matter and no our committee has not gotten any information and our committee hasn’t looked into this or anything else,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a member of the judiciary committee from New York, told me on Tuesday… “The Republicans are stonewalling… We don’t know what the secret information was. We’ve heard reports in the press, but we don’t know that for a fact and we ought to.”” [Slate]

Israeli cabinet minister Israel Katz on Army Radio: “I can say that under the directives of President Trump, the intelligence ties between Israel and the US have been deepened and expanded, and there is definitely cooperation.” [INN]

“Why The Striking Taxi Drivers at Ben Gurion Airport Are Right” by Michael Eisenberg: “If you have flown into Ben Gurion airport recently or been reading any Israeli newspaper, you know that it is impossible to get out of the airport without arranging road transportation in advance or by taking the train (which does not go to Jerusalem). Ever since Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz broke the monopoly of the Hadar-Lod Taxi company and reduced their fares by 12%, the still-extant cab monopoly has been on strike…on and off. Why did Katz do this when the solution of just bringing in Lyft, Didi, Uber or Gett is so obvious? Because like all politicians he does not want to give up control. He does not want to let the free market work. He wants to issue a tender and set the prices so the cabbies are beholden to him (many are Likud voters).” [Medium]

“If you support Israel, you can’t support more arms sales to Saudi Arabia” — by Sen. Rand Paul: “The United States must also take into full consideration whether providing more arms to Saudi Arabia is beneficial to our ally in the region – Israel. It would seem counterproductive to provide weapons that might someday be used against Israel. If the past is any indication, any time we sell weapons to an adversary of Israel, the Israelis are forced to purchase more and newer weapons which only escalates an arms race in the Middle East.” [FoxNews]    

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Patrick Drahi’s Altice IPO pricing values U.S. business at up to $22 billion [Reuters] • Sunset on 57th Street: The end of an era for the asset management industry [InstInvestor• Meet the man who is replacing Uber’s second in command: David Richter [Recode] • David Rhodes, Ari Emanuel fight prompted Scott Pelley’s ‘Evening News’ exit [NYPost• Ivanka Trump Brand Ended Deal With Japanese Firm Over Government Ties [NYTimes

SILICON WADI: “Despite conflicts, Mideast research center to launch in fall” by Karin Laub: “A top-notch research center that brought together Iran, Israel and other Mideast antagonists is launching operations this fall in hopes of boosting scientific discovery with the help of a powerful microscope and opening a window to a better future for a region beset by war, boycotts and closed borders… Israel’s Science Ministry reported a growing interest in the project among Israeli scientists. During a visit to SESAME last week, physicists and engineers, among them an Iranian, an Egyptian and a Palestinian, were working quietly on the beam lines.” [AP]

PROFILE: “How a 36-year-old Wall Street prodigy saved Burger King” by Hayley Peterson: “Daniel Schwartz had spent a decade working his way up the corporate ladder on Wall Street when he decided to test his skills in a different trade: cooking burgers and cleaning toilets at a Burger King restaurant in Miami… The investment-banking analyst turned private-equity whiz kid had just been named CEO of the fast-food chain, the second-biggest burger company in the world… At 32, he was one of the youngest major restaurant CEOs in history… Last year, the company’s total sales had grown to $18.2 billion and it opened 735 new Burger King restaurants worldwide.” [BI]

“The e-mail, workout and sleep habits of highly successful billionaire Mark Cuban” by Catherine Clifford: “Tech billionaire Mark Cuban says he conducts business almost exclusively via email. To be constantly connected, he carries two phones: one Android, one iPhone. “With access, I’m always available; I can always communicate,” says Cuban… In a recent episode of The Thrive Global Podcast, host Arianna Huffington asked Cuban if the constant flood of unanswered emails ever leaves him feeling overwhelmed. “I guess I go through so many emails, I’ve kind of become immune to that,” says Cuban. He checks emails whenever he has an extra minute… “If I’m sleeping six, seven hours and working out one hour, there’s another 16 hours that I have access to my phone,” he says.” [CNBC]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Einstein letters on God, McCarthy, Israel go up for auction” by Ilan Ben Zion: “A collection of letters written by Albert Einstein is set to go to auction next week… They were sent to quantum physicist David Bohm, a colleague who fled the United States for Brazil in 1951 after refusing to testify about his links to the Communist Party to the House Un-American Activities Committee… Einstein said the foreseeable future didn’t portend a “more reasonable political attitude” in the United States… One idea that came up was relocating to Israel… But despite Einstein’s ties to Israel’s Hebrew University, he believed the country offered limited opportunities. Einstein himself declined an offer in 1952 to become Israel’s president… “Israel is intellectually active and interesting but has very narrow possibilities,” the Nobel laureate wrote. “And to go there with the intention to leave on the first occasion would be regrettable.”” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Investment banker killed by bus becomes first Citi Bike fatality” by Tina Moore, Kevin Sheehan and Natalie Musumeci: “A Manhattan investment banker and former Israeli army staff sergeant became the Big Apple’s first Citi Bike fatality Monday morning when he was hit by a bus. Dan Hanegby, 36, of Brooklyn Heights was riding on West 26th Street near Eighth Avenue in between a coach bus and a parked car when he lost control of the bike and fell to the ground… Hanegby, a married father of two who worked as a director of the investment banking division for Credit Suisse Group, was then struck by the bus, sources said.” [NYPost]

DESSERT: “The latest trend I loathe in restaurants: No space between tables” by Tom Sietsema: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things that I’m not supposed to hear,” says frequent restaurant-goer Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “Not state secrets,” he says, but not information fellow diners would share publicly about, say, campaign missteps or awful bosses.” [WashPosth/t Howard Mortman

BIRTHDAYS: Retired Israeli general, diplomat and politician, he served at various times as Israel’s ambassador to Tanzania, Guatemala and El Salvador, Yitzhak Pundak turns 104… Engineer and computer scientist, professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock turns 83… London-born, now living in Gstaad, Switzerland, billionaire founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 79… Senior advisor for George Soros’s Open Society Institute, he served in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations, winner of a 1985 MacArthur genius fellowship, Morton Halperin turns 79… Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co. (1983-1997), Chancellor of Brown University (1998 to 2007) and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 77… Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from New York since 1992, Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Nadler turns 70… Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel since 2004, he was previously Attorney General of Israel (1997-2004), Elyakim Rubinstein turns 70… Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD turns 62… National political correspondent for National Public Radio, also a contributor at the Fox News Channel, Mara Liasson turns 62…

Tech entrepreneur and co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham “Ben” Horowitz turns 51… Internet entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Overtime, a digital sports platform, he was previously the Head of Digital at William Morris Endeavor, Daniel Porter turns 51… Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, a high-rise residential development firm active in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Miami, Michael Stern turns 38… Actor, the son of Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving, Max Samuel Spielberg turns 32… Film and television actress, she starred in the CBS sitcom “Two Broke Girls” (2011-2017), Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 31… Founder and CEO of NYC-based ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm, Benjamin H. Weingarten turns 29… Professional football player who fasts on Yom Kippur, he won the 2010 Outland Trophy (as the best collegiate interior lineman), a first round NFL draft pick, played for 4 seasons in the NFL (2011-2014), Gabe Carimi turns 29… Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council at the University of Virginia while studying for her Masters in Public Policy, AIPAC intern, Samantha Magnes turns 22…

CORRECTION: Rabbi Levi Shemtov turned 49 yesterday not 57.

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]


Kafe Knesset for June 12

Monday, June 12, 2017

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


Lawmakers Discuss Bolstering Financial Pressure Against Hezbollah

Friday, June 9, 2017

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

Photo by AIPAC

Kafe Knesset for June 9

Friday, June 9, 2017

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

Photo via Facebook/Sen. Ben Cardin

Cardin Expresses Skepticism Over House Bill Targeting Qatar for Hamas Support

Thursday, June 8, 2017

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


Lawmakers Express Increasing Concern for Qatar’s Support of Hamas

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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

Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Kafe Knesset for June 7

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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