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Daily Kickoff: Why did Cory Booker vote against Taylor Force Act in committee? | Ari Harow’s unenviable dilemma | Ray Allen on going to Auschwitz

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TAYLOR FORCE ACT — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the revised Taylor Force Act yesterday in bipartisan fashion (17-4). The legislation would cut off U.S. economic assistance that “directly benefits” the Palestinian Authority until they cease payments to families of terrorists. While yesterday’s committee vote is just one step in the process towards passage, every Republican on the committee along with six Democratic Senators supported the bill. Only four Senators — Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) — opposed the measure.

–Amendments added: Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) added an amendment on Thursday morning, which was approved by the committee, that places the cut off of U.S. funds in a one year escrow, allowing the Palestinian Authority to earn the money if the terror payments end and the law is overturned. However, members voted down another amendment proposed by Kaine which would have allowed Ramallah to earn back the assistance even if the law was not repealed.

–Initial confusion about Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s vote: After the vote, the Senate clerk announced that the results were 16-5. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was not present so she voted by proxy and it appeared to sound that she opposed the bill. However, Micah Johnson, Corker’s Communications Director, confirmed to Jewish Insider that the bill total was 17-4 with Shaheen voting for the legislation. Full recap here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER — Question on the mind of many JI readers — why did Sen. Booker, who has long standing ties with the Jewish and pro-Israel community, vote against the Taylor Force Act yesterday?

In an exclusive statement to Jewish Insider, Sen Booker emailed us the following: “PA support for terrorist payments is plainly reprehensible and must be stopped. The path to accomplish this is highly complex, as evidenced by the Israeli government’s own reluctance to cut off sources of revenue to the PA despite their ability to do so without any help from the United States. There has been a failure to assure the Foreign Relations Committee that vital, stability-producing humanitarian programs would not end up facing cuts from this bill. I was deeply disappointed that yesterday’s committee vote was held despite there being so many important questions left unanswered about its impact on a volatile region, millions of civilians and America’s closest ally.”

“There have long been mixed signals and conflicting recommendations coming from both US and Israeli national security officials about whether the bill would achieve its desired ends without worsening the security situation. As recently as the day before the vote there was confusion among State Department officials over provisions in the bill and exactly what impact they would have on Israel’s security and the stability of the region.”

“With so many questions unanswered and the consequences so grave, I withheld my support for this version of the legislation yesterday. I’m continuing to seek answers to these questions and pursuing amendments that I offered to this legislation that will help prevent unintended humanitarian consequences and outcomes that would threaten Israel’s security. I hope these concerns are addressed quickly and well before the full Senate considers this legislation, so that this bill can receive my support.” [JewishInsider]

Noah Pollak, a leading advocate for the Taylor Force Act, emailed us: “After the vote yesterday, the single biggest theme of the emails and calls that poured in was: ‘What happened to Cory Booker?’ His arguments for opposing the bill are either wrong on the facts (TFA will cut off all humanitarian aid to the Palestinians) or unserious (TFA will destabilize the region). No, this has the appearance of being a political decision — a choice to associate himself with the Linda Sarsour wing of the party, which he believes is ascendant. This was a bad decision on moral and policy grounds, and it will turn out to be a bad decision on political grounds as well.”

Rabbi Clifford M. Kulwin from Livingston, New Jersey: “Senator Booker has been a close friend for nearly twenty years. I know first hand of his love for and respect of Israel. His committee vote was clearly bad politics for him. He genuinely believes the issue to be complex and the legislation as presently written not in the best interests of either Israel or the US. To suggest his vote was motivated by political consideration is nonsensical and demeans one of the most moral people I know.”

JI EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Force Act Could Hinder Greenblatt’s Water Deal — by Aaron Magid: The passage of the Taylor Force Act in its current form would bar U.S. participation in the water agreement trumpeted by Jason Greenblatt last month, an informed Congressional staffer told Jewish Insider. “The bill, if enacted as passed out of Committee, would halt any assistance that ‘directly benefits’ the Palestinian Authority, the aide explained. “So, yes, U.S. assistance to the Red-Dead water agreement falls under directly benefiting the PA, and would not be able to continue.”

There was confusion on Wednesday during a meeting between the State Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) staffers. Aides were trying to discern whether the Trump administration believed that the Taylor Force Act would also cut humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians because of the ambiguity of the language that funding be restricted to programs that “directly benefit the Palestinian Authority.” The Congressional staffer claimed that the meeting was an “insult” to the Senate oversight committee (SFRC) with the State Department attempting to “obfuscate, undermine and delay.”

A State Department official told Jewish Insider, on condition of anonymity, “The Department often has informal discussions on technical aspects of legislation with Congressional staff. The Administration looks forward to continuing discussions with Congress on this bill as it moves forward.”

When asked for comment, a White House official did not directly address the water agreement but said the following about the Taylor Force Act in general: “The administration has made clear its position on payments to terrorists and their families. We will continue to work with Congress as this legislation proceeds to ensure it both encourages the PA to end the payments and supports our efforts to advance peace.” [JewishInsider

PALACE INTRIGUE: “McMaster gets new cover in West Wing skirmish” by Bryan Bender, Josh Dawsey and Nahal Toosi: “[John] Kelly told McMaster this week that he wanted him to remain as national security adviser, said two senior White House aides, and has encouraged him to make any staffing changes he deems necessary. McMaster took that as a green light this week to oust top intelligence aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick… Kelly’s arrival did not lead directly to Cohen-Watnick’s dismissal, officials said, but was months in the making… In recent weeks… McMaster has bristled at White House aides close to Trump whom he perceives as undercutting his authority. He seethes over every national security leak and lashes out over negative news stories he thinks are spread by his enemies… While he has occasionally clashed with Kushner, the influential son-in-law, has a better relationship with him these days, a White House official with direct knowledge said.” [Politico

— “Sources tell Al-Monitor that State Department, Pentagon and NSC professionals who argue for a more pragmatic approach feel they may gradually be getting the upper hand in policy debates. “McMaster has cleaned out some problems, but Trump is still Trump,” a former US official told Al-Monitor. “He still listens to Bannon and [his son-in-law Jared] Kushner and crew.” [Al-Monitor]

“McMaster Goes to War—Against His White House Enemies” by Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng and Kimberly Dozier: “Two senior administration officials say the combative adviser to the president Sebastian Gorka is safe from the latest clean sweep, in part because the president likes him (especially when Gorka is on TV repping the White House and sparring with cable-news hosts); he reports to Bannon, not the NSC; and he’s popular with the Trump base.” [DailyBeast]

Mark Dubowitz‏: “If you think changes at the NSC signal a less tough-minded Iran policy, you have no idea what you’re talking about.” [Twitter]

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “John Kelly Quickly Moves to Impose Military Discipline on White House” by Glenn Thrush, Michael Shear and Eileen Sullivan: “In discussions with Mr. Trump about moving to the White House, Mr. Kelly also insisted that Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, who is also a White House adviser, report to him. They both agreed, in part because they wanted to see Mr. Priebus ejected as quickly as possible, and in part because they recognized Mr. Trump’s presidency needed to be professionalized… Aides said the ouster of Mr. Cohen-Watnick was intended as a show of confidence from Mr. Kelly to Mr. McMaster. Mr. Kushner did not object to the decision, and had conceded that Mr. McMaster was going to fire his friend three weeks ago.” [NYTimes]

Joe Scarborough writes… Ivanka and Jared, move back to New York: “Trump’s shocking victory led his son-in-law to believe he could reinvent government like Al Gore, micromanage the White House like James Baker and restructure the Middle East like Moses. Kushner’s confidence seemed to reach its apex whenever the subject turned to Middle East peace. His bizarre belief that the world began anew the day Trump was inaugurated was exposed again this week when a leaked audiotape caught Kushner telling White House interns: “We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books.” … Vice presidents, not daughters, should sit in G-20 summits. And a secretary of state should broker Middle East peace. Not an inexperienced 36-year-old son-in-law… The best thing they can do for their country is to move back to New York and let professionals run the White House.” [WashPost

“Top PLO official to ‘Post’: Kushner cannot broker peace with Israel” by Ben Lynfield: “Of course he’s not qualified because he disqualifies himself,” [PLO executive committee member Hanan] Ashrawi told The Jerusalem Post…. “His talk was really problematic. It betrays not just deep bias but a lack of knowledge of the history itself and therefore of the needs and requirements for a solution,” Ashrawi said… Abdullah Abdullah, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who supports Abbas, also said Kushner “is not fit to be a mediator in a peacemaking process.” [JPost

“King Abdullah to visit PA in Ramallah” by Elior Levy: “In the short visit, which is expected to last several hours, Abdullah is expected to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his Ramallah compound… The King’s last visit to the Palestinian territories took place five years ago.”[Ynet

“It’s time to stop kowtowing to Turkey” by Yair Lapid: “In addition, Israel should raise, either directly or through the United States, the question of Turkey’s membership in NATO and why an Islamist country that supports the Muslim Brotherhood remains a member. We should raise with the Trump administration the question of whether it might be time to reassess storing tactical nuclear weapons in an Islamic state, as the United States does at the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.” [JPost]

“Ex-Dodgers owner Jamie McCourt up for ambassadorship to France after switch from Belgium” by A.J. Perez: “[Jamie] McCourt, one of Trump’s top fundraisers during his presidential campaign, was originally nominated in June to become the ambassador to Belgium. (McCourt speaks French, one of the official languages of Belgium.) The White House, however, revealed her new assignment in a list sent to this week to the Senate, which will need to confirm McCourt before she takes her new post.” [USAToday]

–Vanity Fair’s description of a young Jamie McCourt: “Jamie Luskin, the Jewish daughter of a middle-class appliance-chain owner from Baltimore—“the cheapest guy in town,” or so claimed Jack Luskin’s ads.”

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Travis Kalanick has hired “CEO advisory” firm Teneo to improve his tarnished image [Recode] • Can Wendy Silverstein rescue New York REIT? [RealDeal] • David Cordish takes on Shaq in promotional free-throw contest at Live Casino [Bizjournals] • Israel, US grads dream up ideas in Birthright Ventures program [ToI

SPOTLIGHT: “Does the Bible say there’s oil in Israel? Thousands are paying a Dallas company to find out” by Jeff Mosier: “Sefander Knotts is a believer and willing to back her conviction up with money. Although Knotts describes herself as broke, she finds enough spare money to invest in a Dallas company that’s never earned a dime in its 17-year search for oil in a country that produces almost no oil. With the Bible as its North Star, Zion Oil & Gas has spent more than $150 million of investors’ money on a “special task, in a special country” — Israel. Knotts became a backer of Zion after watching a promotional video on YouTube of its quest to find oil in the Holy Land. Through the years, thousands of believers like Knotts helped Zion with the millions of dollars it needed to keep drilling dry holes in the prophesied land. “I’m going to keep investing for as long as it takes,” said the 43-year-old Knotts, who splits time between a rental and RV in middle Tennessee with her husband.”[DallasNews]

KAFE KNESSET — Bribery, fraud, and breach of trust — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: These three suspected Netanyahu crimes, which were laid out black in white in an official Police memo yesterday, are going to hover over the political system for at least the next few weeks. The suspicions against Netanyahu were already the subject of widespread speculation by various analysts and commentators over the past year, but this is the first time that the Police have publicly and officially detailed the suspicions against the Prime Minister. The Police memo appeared as part of a request for a gag order which was signed today regarding details of negotiations with Ari Harow over a state witness agreement.

A senior minister who met with Netanyahu this week told Kafe Knesset that Bibi appeared to be “troubled.” The lead news story every day during this past week was about the legal status of one or more of Bibi’s closest confidants. The phrase “critical mass” is being whispered more and more, even by some of Bibi’s partners, who are quietly contemplating that the rope around the PM’s neck is tightening. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Ari Harow’s Unenviable Dilemma As He Becomes State’s Witness Against Netanyahu” by Gil Hoffman: “In a private conversation in the Knesset cafeteria Thursday, an MK who was once a top official in an intelligence agency cautioned against comparing what security prisoners were subjected to in the past to retrieve information to prevent terror attacks to what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow is enduring now. He said it is unlikely that Harow has been threatened with being thrown in boiling water if he does not deliver the goods and incriminate Netanyahu. But the MK acknowledged that Harow is under a tremendous amount of pressure right now.”

“Those who know Harow well have said that in an effort to make Harow cave in whatever information he might have, the police have made his life a living hell. They questioned him for 14 hours immediately upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport after back-to-back redeye flights. They have given him a hard time whenever he leaves the country. Harow cannot discuss any details of his case while police are leaking information nonstop that he can neither confirm nor deny. The former little league baseball star is on an unfair playing field, because he must obey by rules that the police do not enforce on themselves.” [JPost]• Netanyahu’s former aide turns state’s witness in bribery cases [Reuters]

“Ehud Barak: Internet troll or comeback wannabe?” by Lahav Harkov: “There is nothing more fun than sitting in New York and watching Israel react,” Barak said recently to a close associate who asked about his social media stardom, denying that this is a move toward a second political comeback. But it’s hard to believe that’s the whole story. Barak is investing a lot of time in these videos – though apparently not any money, as a former aide said he makes them himself – and it seems unlikely that the reason for making the clips would be just the satisfaction of making Netanyahu squirm.” [JPost]

“Bethlehem graffiti lampoons Trump embrace of Israeli wall” by Dan Williams: “On the concrete barricades erected by Israel around parts of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, giant spray-painted images of Trump have given constricted Palestinians some comic relief. “I’m going to build you a brother,” the U.S. leader tells the wall in one mural. In another, he hugs an Israeli army watch-tower, with heart-shaped emojis added alongside paint splashes and soot stains left by Palestinian demonstrations. The artist, who goes by the alias @LushSux and who Australian media have said comes from Melbourne, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.” [ReutersAP]

IF YOU ONLY READ ONE ITEM — “Why I Went to Auschwitz” by former NBA player Ray Allen: “I thought I knew what the Holocaust was, and what it meant. I went to Poland with a few close friends to learn more. But I wasn’t prepared for how deeply the visit would affect me. I had seen so many documentaries and films on Auschwitz, but nothing really prepares you for being there. The first thing I felt when I walked through those iron gates was … heavy. The air around me felt heavy. I stood on the train tracks where the prisoners of the camp would arrive, and I felt like I could hear the trains coming to a halt. I had to take a breath to center myself. It was so immediate. So overwhelming. We walked through the barracks and gas chambers and what I remember most is what I heard: nothing. I’ve never experienced silence like that… One question keeps repeating over and over and over in your mind: How can human beings do this to one another? How does somebody process that? You can’t. This is not history. This is humanity. This is now. This is a living lesson for us as a people.” [ThePlayersTribune]

“Hateful Conspiracy Theorist Backed by Jewish Politician Josh Mandel is Now Hyping Anti-Semitic Propaganda” by Yair Rosenberg: On Tuesday afternoon, Cernovich started pushing a campaign to discredit National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who is despised by the alt-right for his perceived effort to root out their sympathizers in the administration. Those who followed the link to the web-site, however, were immediately greeted with this bigoted graphic. The notion that the Rothschild family manipulates world affairs, of course, is a classic anti-Jewish canard. After the cartoon’s anti-Semitism began drawing attention, it was cropped slightly on the web site to hide the Rothschild bit at the top–as though a cartoon asserting that America’s administration is controlled by puppetmaster Jewish financier George Soros is somehow less anti-Semitic.” [Tablet]

HEARD YESTERDAY on Morning Joe — The Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe recalls coming to U.S. as an immigrant: “I was 7. It is very easy to learn a language at that age. My parents were 30, they didn’t speak very much English at all. My mom is a doctor and my dad is a computer scientist. My dad had a job in two weeks. They are amazing contributing members of American society. They are more American than anybody I know. But I also just think about the massive immigrant communities that came over over hundred years ago from places like Germany, Italy and Poland, that lives in these enclaves – they had printed their own newspapers in their own language – in Yiddish, in German and in Czech – and people were worried about their assimilation. Places like the Lower East Side, for example, where a lot of Jewish immigrants lived and spoke only in Yiddish. Who speaks Yiddish now? You know. Who reads newspapers in Yiddish now, or in German, in Czech? English is a pretty easy language to learn and it’s pretty easy to assimilate in the U.S. American culture does its work.” [MSNBC]

SPORTS BLINK: “Israeli super-agent Pini Zahavi, the architect of Neymar’s transfer to PSG?” by Jérémie Elfassy: “With the soccer “transfer of the century” materializing with the arrival of Brazilian player Neymar in Paris in the coming hours, the name of Pini Zahavi has again come to the forefront of the sporting world. The 73-year-old Israeli former journalist is the man who has orchestrated a move considered unthinkable in the sporting world up until recently, whereby Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) will pay 222 million Euros to snatch the Brazilian from FC Barcelona, a record-breaking sum.”

“After time serving in the Israeli army and a brief period of studying economics, Zahavi began a career as a sports journalist, at Israeli news organizations Hadashot Sport and Yediot Ahronoth. During this time, he began to forge strong ties to prominent figures in Israeli football, inviting foreign clubs to play friendly matches in Israel, before his involvement in his first transfer – the move of Israeli defender Avi Cohen from Maccabi Tel Aviv to Liverpool FC for 200,000 pounds in 1979.” [i24News]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY44th President of the United States, Barack Obama turns 56… Political donor, and casino magnate, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation including casinos in Las Vegas, Macao and Singapore, Sheldon Adelson turns 84… Professor of American history at Yeshiva University and Stern College, expert on the history of McCarthyism, Dr. Ellen Schrecker turns 79… Talmudic scholar, head of the rabbinical court of Mekor Haim in Queens, New York and a prominent leader of New York’s Sephardic Jewish community, Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Haim turns 77… Member of the Knesset since 2013 for the Yesh Atid party, she served as mayor of Herzliya between 1998 and 2013, Yael German turns 70… Long-time member of the Knesset for Likud (1992-2015) including multiple ministerial positions, Silvan Shalom turns 59… Executive producer of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” Michael Gelman turns 56… Executive Editor of PwC’s management magazine “Strategy + Business,”  previously editor of global finance for Daily Beast and Newsweek, Daniel Gross turns 50… Co-founder of the music and culture magazine The Source, former director of programming for the Wynn Las Vegas and current editor-in-chief for Cuepoint at Medium, Jonathan Shecter (also known as Shecky Green) turns 49… CEO of Aspiration (a financial services firm), author, former White House speechwriter, business consultant, prosecutor, Navy reserve officer and chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, Andrei Cherny turns 42… Executive Director of European Union of Jewish Students, Jonathan Keyson turns 25… Natalie Roberts… Evelyn Murphy

SATURDAY: Member of the New York State Senate (1961-1994) where he served as the Minority Leader (1975-1991), a founding partner of the New York law firm of Ohrenstein & Brown, Manfred Ohrenstein turns 92… Historian, Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff turns 69… Banker, once known as “Austria’s woman on Wall Street”  and founder of Bank Medici in 1994, Sonja Kohn turns 69… Former Soviet Refusenik, made aliyah in 1987, elected to Knesset in each of the last seven elections since 1996, now Speaker of the Knesset since 2013, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein turns 59… Member of the British House of Lords, he was chief executive of the Office of the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and then chief executive of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, Baron Jonathan Andrew Kestenbaumturns 58… Songwriter, author and political columnist, Seth Swirsky turns 57… Actor who starred in “Weekend at Bernie’s” and whose father and grandfather were both rabbis, Jonathan Silverman turns 51… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Kulanu party, Roy Folkman turns 42… Long-time member of the Israeli national soccer team who also played in Europe’s UEFA Champions League, Gil Vermouth turns 32… Former AIPAC staffer, now lobbyist for the Wireless Infrastructure Association and adjunct at American U, Matt Mandel… Leslie Saunders

SUNDAYBeverly Hills-based family law attorney, founding partner of Jaffe and Clemens, Daniel J. Jaffe turns 80… Casino owner, three time winner of the World Series of Poker, and former executive of Wilsons Leather and Rainforest Cafe, Lyle Berman turns 76… Founder and spiritual leader of The Elijah Minyan in San Diego, Wayne Dosick turns 70… Austrian businessman with many US, Israeli and Eastern European investments, Martin Schlaffturns 64… Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, formerly Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2012-2013), Tara D. Sonenshine turns 58… NASA astronaut who spent 198 days on the International Space Station during 2008, he brought bagels from his family’s bagel store in Montreal into space on his first mission into orbit, Gregory Chamitoff turns 55… Famed computer hacker, now a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick turns 54… At-Large member of the board of directors at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, board member of Hillel at Stanford University (from which she graduated in 1987), Susie Sorkin turns 52… Television and radio sports anchor on ESPN and ABC, one-half of the “Mike & Mike” team (now in its last year), Mike Greenberg turns 50… HBO’s boxing commentator and recently appointed co-host of ESPN’s First Take, Yiddish speaking Max Kellerman turns 44… Billionaire and former CEO of transportation network company Uber, Travis Kalanick turns 41… CEO at ReUp Education, Nitzan Pelman turns 41… Creative director and graphic designer at Facebook, Rachel Gogel… Director of Public Affairs at the American Council on Education, Jonathan Riskind… Senior Policy Advisor to Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Corey A. Jacobson… Writer and producer for ABC News, Jessica I. Goldberg

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Aug
3

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Daily Kickoff: Trump uses Zivotofsky case to complain re sanctions bill | AIPAC backs Taylor Force Act | Spotted on Geffen’s yacht | Shaq vs. Cordish

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DOWN UNDER: “Bondi synagogue ban over terrorism risk leaves Jewish community shocked and furious” by Joe Hildebrand: “A local council has banned the construction of a synagogue in Bondi because it could be a terrorist target, in a shock move that religious leaders say has caved in to Islamic extremism and created a dangerous precedent. The decision, which has rocked the longstanding Jewish community in the iconic suburb, was upheld in court this week as the nation reeled from the alleged airline terror threat and debate raged over increased security measures at airports and other public places.” [News.Au]

JEWISH JOURNAL COVER STORY: “The Temple Mount, California edition: Anti-Semitic sermons test Muslim-Jewish bonds” by Ryan Torok and Nicholas Cheng: “The July 21 remarks by Imam Mahmoud Harmoush of the Islamic Center of Riverside and Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis drew strong condemnation from Muslim and Jewish leaders, fearful that such incendiary language could erode relations. The effect was like picking at a scab on a slow-healing wound. Since the terror attacks of 9/11, American Jewish and Muslim groups have made a concerted effort to forge bonds of understanding and cooperation. Those have been nursed along despite the ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, not to mention the enduring friction between Israelis and Palestinians.” [JewishJournal]

2020 WATCH: “Zuckerberg hires former Clinton pollster Joel Benenson” by Annie Karni: “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have hired Democratic pollster Joel Benenson… as a consultant… Benenson’s company, Benenson Strategy Group, will be conducting research for the Zuckerberg-Chan Initiative, the couple’s philanthropy… The hiring of Benenson is sure to fuel renew speculation that Zuckerberg is getting more serious about how he plays in the political and policy worlds. Speculation, however, maybe the beginning and the end of the Zuckerberg for President story.” [Politico

But first, Zuckerberg’s plan for fake news… “Facebook Drowns Out Fake News With More Information: Starting Thursday, when Facebook’s U.S. users come across popular links—including made-up news articles—in their feeds, they may also see a cluster of other articles on the same topic. The “related articles” feature, which will roll out widely in the U.S. after months of testing, is part of Facebook’s strategy to limit the damage of false news without censoring those posts.” [WSJ]

TOP TALKER: “H.R. McMaster Cleans House at the National-Security Council” by Rosie Gray: “Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 31-year-old former Defense Intelligence Agency officer… was let go from the council this week… According to a senior administration official familiar with the matter, Cohen-Watnick is expected to move to another job within the administration. The official said that there had been a plan to keep Cohen-Watnick in the job until a new position was finalized, but that Cohen-Watnick was called in to a meeting with McMaster on Wednesday in which McMaster informed him he would be leaving now… A source close to Kushner said “Jared is a big fan of Ezra’s and is grateful for his contributions to the administration as part of the NSC but obviously completely defers to General McMaster on all NSC personnel decisions. He looks forward to seeing what’s next for Ezra.”” [TheAtlantic

“Inside the McMaster-Bannon War” by Michael Warren: “The national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, has removed three NSC aides loyal to Trump aide Steve Bannon in the last three weeks… For some time, Steve Bannon has been considering leaving the White House… A newly emboldened H.R. McMaster, purging Bannonites with the backing of John Kelly (and the president), could hasten his exit.” [TWS 

Far-right Israeli columnist Caroline Glick writes: “The Israel angle on McMaster’s purge of Trump loyalists from the National Security Council is that all of these people are pro-Israel and oppose the Iran nuclear deal, positions that Trump holds. McMaster in contrast is deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump. According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews.” [Facebook]

DRIVING THE DAY — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the Taylor Force Act during a business meeting that began at 10:00am. The legislation would suspend aid that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority until they end payments to families of terrorists.

AIPAC backs Taylor Force Act in letter to Senators — by Aaron Magid and Jacob Kornbluh: “We urge all members of the committee to work together to move this important legislation forward and to VOTE YES to report the bill from committee,” Brad Gordon and Marvin Feuer, AIPAC’s Directors on Policy and Government Affairs, wrote in a letter to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We are hopeful that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee markup will produce a strong, bipartisan bill that will send a very clear message to the Palestinian Authority: Stop these payments to terrorists and their families or your assistance will be cut.”

Noah Pollak, an advocate in favor of the Taylor Force Act, said that AIPAC’s formal backing is a “welcome development and something we have been encouraging for many months. We hope that AIPAC will now put its considerable resources behind promoting the bill, even if it is not possible to earn a perfectly equal number of Republican and Democratic votes.”

Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), added, “Once this bill became bipartisan, it became easier for a wider range of groups to support it.” When informed of AIPAC’s support of the bill, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the decision was helpful. While AIPAC’s view on the Taylor Force Act isn’t conditional for Rubio, the pro-Israel organization’s position “is influential with me,” he added.

Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, tells us… “For too long, some supporters of Israel have feared cutting funding to the PA because it would ‘destabilize’ a supposed peace partner. Now, hopefully, [they] all understand that continuing to fund the PA while it funds murder legitimizes their policy and keeps peace further away. The Palestinian government’s salaries for convicted terrorists is not just a reward for murder, it is murder-for-hire.” [JewishInsider

The Republican Jewish Coalition sent a letter urging Senators to reject amendments that would dilute the final bill before being sent to the Senate floor [Doc]

ON THE HILL — Senators’ Views on anti-BDS Bill Diverge — by Aaron Magid: Independent minded Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told Jewish Insider, “I haven’t looked at the specific language, but if it bans the ability to protest, I don’t know how that could possibly be constitutional.” In contrast to Paul, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) wholeheartedly backed the legislation, “I think it’s pro-free speech. I think it’s self-explanatory.”

But, for Democrats, criticism of the bill by progressive advocacy groups is pushing liberal lawmakers in an uncomfortable position. When Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was asked last week by Jewish Insider about his view on the legislation, he declined to voice support or opposition. Senator Tom Udall — arguably the most progressive Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — similarly declined to offer any substantive comment. “I’ve got to get briefed on the whole thing before the deal comes up,” he noted. [JewishInsider]

Video: An Israeli social media user Hen Mazzig added clips to an Al Jazeera video explaining the BDS movement and the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Twitter took down the video citing a DMCA violation. As of press time, the video is still available here [Facebook]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Trump aide dismisses Statue of Liberty ‘huddled masses’ poem” by Russell Contreras: “Senior White House aide Stephen Miller told reporters the poem written by Emma Lazarus about the “huddled masses” is not part of the original Statue of Liberty… The statue was a gift from France commemorating its alliance with the United States during the American Revolution… Writers and authors later asked Emma Lazarus, a poet and descendant of Jewish immigrants, to write a sonnet to be sold at an auction to raise money for a pedestal to hold the Statue of Liberty. She wrote “The New Colossus” on Nov. 2, 1883, inspired by the plight of immigrants and refugees and her own experiences.” [AP

Fifteen minutes of defame — “White House aide blasts CNN reporter for ‘cosmopolitan bias’ in bizarre exchange” by Nolan D. McCaskill: “White House senior adviser Stephen Miller smiled as he volunteered to “take one actual last question” at Wednesday’s news briefing… He probably wishes he’d gone ahead and ceded the floor. Seven minutes later, Miller found himself apologizing to CNN’s Jim Acosta over the fiery, bizarre, combative and confusing exchange that had just ended. The dialogue culminated in the senior White House aide lobbing insults at a member of the White House press corps, prompting Acosta to note that he’d just been called “ignorant” on television. The explosive episode occurred as Miller took questions from reporters on a bill endorsed Wednesday by President Donald Trump that seeks to cut legal immigration to the United States in half.” [PoliticoWatch the full exchange here [YouTube

Brian Stelter in Reliable Sources: “Some other commentators took exception to Miller saying that Acosta, the son of a Cuban immigrant, displayed a shocking “cosmopolitan bias.” “The way Miller leaned into the word ‘cosmopolitan’ while answering Acosta has a long and ignoble history in 20th century authoritarianism, especially the anti-Semitic variety,” Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce writes.” [CNN]

“Glenn Thrush Rips Stephen Miller After Tense, ‘Scaramucci-esque’ Briefing Exchange” by Joe DePaolo: “[MSNBC] Host Nicole Wallace opined that Miller was getting mad during the exchange… “I don’t think Stephen Miller got mad,” Thrush said. “I think Stephen Miller got air time. And I think he enjoyed it immensely. He was not getting off that stage. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was standing around long enough to have charged him rent.” He added, of Miller’s performance, “It was [Anthony] Scaramucci-esque.”” [Mediaite

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “U.S. Attorney Subpoenas Kushner Cos. Over Investment-For-Visa Program” by Erica Orden, Aruna Viswanatha and Byron Tau: “The subpoena concerns at least one Jersey City, N.J., development financed in part by a federal visa program known as EB-5: twin, 66-floor commercial-and-residential towers called One Journal Square… A spokesman for the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office, which issued the subpoena, declined to comment… Mr. Kushner’s personal attorney said in a statement Wednesday that he had recused himself from “matters concerning the EB-5 programs.”” [WSJ]

JARED INSIDER: “The Temple Mount crisis ended Trump’s Palestinian honeymoon. The Kushner tape made things worse” by Raphael Ahren: “We’re not saying that Trump is the most pro-Israel president in history. We’re not blaming him for anything,” a senior official in the Palestinian leadership told The Times of Israel on Wednesday. “But if he wants to have a peace process, we need to know what we’re talking about.”[ToI

“His Health Crisis Made Public, Palestinian Envoy Pushes On” by Isabel Kershner: “[Saeb] Erekat said he had spoken with [Jared] Kushner “more than once” and had held at least 19 meetings since February with American officials. Among them was Jason D. Greenblatt… whom Mr. Erekat described as having good “listening skills.” Mr. Erekat said he was surprised by Mr. Kushner’s comments expressing doubt about a solution, not least because Mr. Kushner had emphasized how serious Mr. Trump was about seeking one. Mr. Erekat added that administration officials have said “many times that they are not against two states,” but they have not stated it as their position.”[NYTimes]

“Relations between Israel and Jordan have become ‘very dangerous’” by Noga Tarnopolsky: “In the eyes of many Israelis, there was something uncomfortably familiar in what was perceived as Netanyahu’s disrespect toward Abdullah. “It’s Obama all over again,” fumed a former senior Israeli diplomat… The diplomat was referring to Netanyahu’s chilly relations with former President Obama, including a 2015 address to a joint session of Congress that he delivered without coordination with the White House… “This is the result of a longtime, ongoing, obstinate policy that doesn’t even bother for the sake of appearances to be considerate to any partner, friend or foe. It is simply a continuous state of non-communication,” the former diplomat said.” [LATimes]

“Under Trump, a Hollowed-Out Force in Syria Quickly Lost C.I.A. Backing” by Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt: “[President Barack Obama] changed his mind the following year, signing a presidential finding authorizing the C.I.A. to covertly arm and train small groups of rebels at bases in Jordan. The president’s reversal came in part because of intense lobbying by foreign leaders, including King Abdullah II of Jordan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who argued that the United States should take a more active role in trying to end the conflict.” [NYTimes]

COMING SOON: “Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at UN same day as Trump” by Herb Keinon: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak to the UN General Assembly on September 19, the same day that US President Donald Trump will make his maiden address to the world body, UN Ambassador Danny Danon said on Wednesday. Since the date for the address has just been finalized, efforts have not yet begun to arrange a meeting between the two leaders… The prime minister is expected to fly to the US a couple of days before the UN event.” [JPost

KAFE KNESSET — The Latest with Bibi — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The news cycle continues to be dominated by Netanyahu’s criminal entanglements with various reports emerging over the past 24 hours. Last night the main TV news shows opened with a reports about Ari Harow, Bibi’s former Chief of Staff, becoming a state’s witness. According to these reports, Harow will provide details on issues that have to do with all of the ongoing investigations.

At the same time, Netanyahu received some American legal support this week, as Alan Dershowitz gave a series of interviews in which he defended the Prime Minister and accused the opposition of “using the judicial system as a political tool.” In a front page interview in Adelson’s Israel Hayom, Dershowitz addressed the similarities between the legal affairs of the Netanyahu family and the Trump family. “It is a similar tactic to spread endless accusations and hope that one of them could eventually stick. Meanwhile the news diverts the leader’s attention from what he is trying to accomplish.”

Dershowitz staunchly brushed off any criminal aspects of both Trump and Bibi, stating: “I have been teaching criminal law for 50 years, and I am very knowledgeable about all the laws, and I can not find any proof of any accusation against Trump that would be a federal offense.” Dershowitz explained that he similarly does not find any criminal signs in Bibi’s behavior: “Even if his talks with Yedioth Ahranoth happened, what is criminal about it? Every politician in history tried to reach understandings with the media … and in any case it did not happen. It was just talk. If we would bring politicians to justice based only on what they say, all the politicians in the world today would be under investigation.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin Says We Will Care for Transgender Vets We Displace: “Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin says his department has compassion for the transgender vets whom the President is kicking out of the military. We got the Secretary Wednesday on Capitol Hill and he spoke with resolve … if anyone — transgender people included — serves in the military, they will get medical and other care for life.” [TMZ]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Rouhani Starts Second Term With Trump’s Shadow Hanging Over Tehran” by Golnar Motevalli and Ladane Nasseri: “Trump’s decision to expand non-nuclear sanctions on Iran has been a setback for [Hassan] Rouhani… The curbs have spooked major banks and hindered Iran’s oil-led economic recovery, delaying the president’s efforts to spread the benefits of his diplomacy to poorer Iranians… An uncompromising assault on the nuclear deal would have even more far-reaching consequences, said [Ali] Vaez at Crisis Group. The accord’s collapse “would shift the mainstream of Iranian politics to the right,” forcing Rouhani and his chief ally — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif — to adopt a more confrontational approach, he said.” [Bloomberg

“Trump signs what he calls ‘seriously flawed’ bill imposing new sanctions on Russia” by Abby Phillip: “Trump noted that he supported tough measures to punish the three regimes (Russia, Iran and N. Korea), and said that he will honor the review period prescribed in the bill. But in a potential warning to lawmakers that he might not observe those parts of the law, Trump added that he would “give careful and respectful consideration” to other provisions that direct the administration to undertake diplomatic initiatives.”[WashPost

“Like other presidents, Trump signs a bill with his fingers crossed” by Michael McGough: “Even as he approved the legislation, Trump insisted on issuing a “signing statement” registering constitutional objections to parts of it. For example, he asserted that two sections of the bill “purport to displace the president’s exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments, including their territorial bounds, in conflict with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Zivotofsky vs. Kerry.” The sections the president objects to state that the United States doesn’t recognize the acquisition of various territories by force or the Russian annexation of Crimea. Trump says he doesn’t disagree with those statements as policy, but he notes, absolutely correctly, that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives the president, not Congress, the power to recognize foreign governments.”

“That was the holding in the 2015 case of Zivotofsky vs. Kerry.Zivotofsky was Menachem Zivotofsky, an American boy born in Jerusalem in 2002, whose parents wanted the State Department to list his place of birth on his passport as “Israel.” The State Department refused, despite a law passed by Congress ordering it to do so at the request of a citizen born in those circumstances. The justices ruled for the State Department, holding that the Constitution’s text and structure grant the president the power to recognize foreign nations and governments. And no president has yet recognized Jerusalem as part of Israel.” [LATimes] • Trump’s Signing Statement on the Russia Sanctions Bill, Explained [NYTimes]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Ari Emanuel’s WME-IMG Takes on Another $1.1 Billion in Outside Money [HollywoodReporter] • David Rubenstein’s Carlyle Group has no plans to increase its $100B fundraising target, despite investor demand [BizJournalsBloomberg• James Packer rejoins Crown Resorts board[TheAustralian] • Take a rare look at the enormous mansions hidden behind the Hamptons’ famously high hedges [BusinessInsider]

“Saint-Tropez gets sinking feeling as luxury yacht owners ditch the ‘billionaires’ harbour'” — “St-Tropez officials are lamenting the sinking number of yachts that have berthed at the glittering French Riviera resort’s marina this year. They say that revenue at the iconic marina has fallen 30 percent since the start of 2017; luxury yacht owners are instead choosing destinations like Spain or Italy, where berthing fees, fuel and crew costs are lower. While many more superyachts appear to be sailing around Italy and Greece, many are still docking in St-Tropez, according to official marine sites. Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse, which is 533 feet and too large for any marina, is moored off the Cap d’Antibes.” [NYPostTelegraph]

–David Geffen posts a pic from his 454-foot luxury yacht Rising Sun near Sicily: “Michael Hess, Dasha Zhukova and me taken by Bob Iger on Rising Sun.” [Instagram

REMEMBERING: “Jeff Brotman, Founder of Retail Juggernaut Costco, Dies at 74” by Sam Roberts: “Jeff Brotman, a founder of Costco, which became one of the world’s largest retailers… died on Tuesday in Medina, Wash… Jeffrey Hart Brotman, a grandson of Jewish immigrants from Romania, was born on Sept. 27, 1942, in Tacoma, Wash., to Pearl and Bernard Brotman… Mr. Brotman also drew attention as a campaign fund-raiser for Democratic candidates and, with his wife, as a philanthropist whose beneficiaries included the University of Washington and the Seattle Art Museum.” [NYTimes

MEDIA WATCH: Reporter says ‘state run Russian propaganda outlet’ pushed him to cover Seth Rich conspiracy theory — by Hunter Walker: “[Andrew] Feinberg alleged Sputnik wanted him to bring up a news article that’s at the center of the lawsuit in the White House press briefing room… “It was, ‘We want you to ask about Seth Rich and just, you know, ask about the case and if it those revelations should put an end to the Russia hacking narrative and the investigation,” said Feinberg. According to Feinberg, his bosses handed him a termination letter when he declined. He described the situation as “disturbing.” “It’s really telling that the White House is pushing the same narrative as a state run Russian propaganda outlet,” Feinberg said.”[YahooNews• Confusion, anger inside Fox News over lack of answers in network’s Seth Rich probe [CNNMoney

“A Mossad Show Heavy on Spycraft Recounts Eichmann’s Capture” by Jason Farago: “Eichmann’s abduction in Argentina and prosecution in Israel are the subject of “Operation Finale: The Capture and Trial of Adolf Eichmann,” a new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan. The show goes longer on spy thrills than on moral and legal perplexities, though that may have been inevitable given its co-organizer: none other than the Mossad, the intelligence service that is Israel’s equivalent of the C.I.A.” [NYTimes]

BOOK REVIEW: “Mahmoud Abbas: Negotiator Turned Autocrat” by Adam Rubenstein: “The success of this book (“The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas”) rests in its ability to analyze Mr. Abbas not only as a diplomatic figure but also as a politician with his own domestic concerns. Too often, writing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its key players denies readers insight into domestic Palestinian affairs. Not here. Messrs. [Grant] Rumley and [Amir] Tibon treat readers to their combined expertise and understanding of internal Palestinian politics. Mr. Abbas’s story, as they argue, is a tragic one. He appeared to be the man with the greatest political potential on the Palestinian side to make peace with his neighbors. Instead, he has turned into a power-consolidating silencer of dissent who eulogizes some of the more contemptible impulses of Palestinian nationalism.”[WSJ

TALK OF OUR NATION: Daniel Shapiro writes… Israel and American Jewry: Stepping Back from the Brink: “The crisis over the Kotel and the conversion bill took many Israeli political leaders by surprise, which itself is evidence of a deep disconnect between Israeli leaders attuned to Israeli voters, and the attitudes of American Jewish leaders and activists. Anyone who spends time these days in American Jewish communities cannot fail to take notice of the anger, disgust, and feelings of personal betrayal.”[INSS

“The Jewish People in 2017: Fault Lines, Threats, and Opportunities” by Shalom Lipner: “The prism through which [Trump] views the Jewish community—reflected by the comparatively hawkish Orthodox faction that backed him, and to which his daughter, son-in-law, and even ambassador to Israel belong—is one that sees Israel as a bulwark against Islamist extremism and upholds (at least in principle) its essential right to settle the Jewish homeland. This complicated calculus has generated the following equation: The governments of Israel and America, together with a plurality of Israelis, appear ideologically aligned behind current Israeli policy toward the peace process. At the same time, sitting on the other side of the scale are many American Jews whose personal belief systems are antithetical to those of Trump, Netanyahu, and the majority of the Israeli electorate.” [Tandfonline

TALK OF THE TOWN: “New York congregation owns oldest U.S. synagogue, court rules” by Chris Kenning: “A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a New York Jewish congregation is the rightful owner of the nation’s oldest synagogue, in Rhode Island, along with a set of bells worth millions. The decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston marks the latest turn in a long-running legal battle that began when members of the Touro Synagogue in Newport tried to sell a set of ritual bells, called rimonim, worth some $7.4 million. New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel attempted to block the deal, citing an 18th century agreement that named it a trustee.” [Reuters]

“Menashe Is a Moving Drama of Hasidic Life” by David Sims: “Though Menashe (played by Menashe Lustig) is quite a relatable ne’er-do-well, his story is set in Hasidic Jewish Brooklyn, one of America’s most insular communities… But Menashe is wise not to be preachy, or to make sweeping judgments about Hasidic life. Weinstein’s workmanlike camera style allows him to act as a bystander who has gotten closer to a world that’s still sealed-off (the director struggled to convince Hasidic actors to participate in the project). In grounding the story in a particular personality, and the familiar connection between a father and son, Weinstein has created a subtly powerful work of human drama, driven by the charismatic, if frustrating, man at its center. Menashe bodes well for Weinstein’s future as a storyteller; it succeeds at taking older cinematic traditions of everyday storytelling and using them to help illuminate a world most viewers know little about.” [TheAtlantic

SPORTS BLINK: “Shaquille O’Neal to battle Maryland casino owner David Cordish in free-throw contest” by Callie Caplan: “Have you ever wanted to watch an NBA Hall of Famer battle a casino owner in a free throw competition?… Shaquille O’Neal will be in Hanover on Thursday evening to do just that against Live! Casino owner David Cordish…. Aside from having 20 seasons of NBA experience and a 7-foot-1, 325-pound stature, he likely has confidence facing a 77-year-old better known for his Baltimore-based real estate and entertainment company than sinking foul shots. But don’t count Cordish out.” [BaltimoreSun

DESSERT: “Catskills’ Culinary Revival Lures Newcomers” by Charles Passy: “For generations, many New Yorkers referred to the Catskills as the Borscht Belt, a nod to the Jewish resorts that once dominated the upstate region and were likely to feature the Eastern European beet soup on their menus. These days, the beets that one comes across at Catskills restaurants are likely to be of the heirloom variety and served in gourmet-minded preparations—say, a salad with shaved and roasted beets in an apple-cider vinaigrette.” [WSJ]

BIRTHDAYS: Retired Head Coach of both the NFL’s KC Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Marv Levy turns 92… English actor, author, playwright and theatre director, known for his roles as the villain in both James Bond and Rambo films, Steven Berkoff turns 80… Prominent Sephardic rabbi and rosh yeshiva in Tel Aviv, he was a member of the Knesset for the Shas party (1992-1996) and served as Deputy Minister of Education and Culture, Rabbi Moshe Maya turns 79… EVP of the UJA-Federation of New York (1993-2015), Vice Chancellor of JTS (1985-1993) and Education Director at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA (1980-1985), John S. Ruskay turns 71… Chairman and CEO of NYC-based commercial real estate brokerage firm Savills Studley, Mitchell S. Steir turns 62… Board Member of both the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and the LA Museum of Contemporary Art, Orna Amir Wolens turns 56… Political journalist, a Rhodes Scholar and Editor-in-Chief of Slate Group, Jacob Weisberg turns 53… Russian-born Canadian entrepreneur, he is the lead developer of the 65-story Trump International Hotel in Toronto and President of the Jewish Russian Community Centre of Ontario, Alexander Shnaider turns 49… Member of the New York Daily News editorial board and the paper’s opinion editor, Josh Greenman turns 44… National Security Advisor in the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, previously senior policy advisor to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Jeffrey A. Dressler turns 33… Carrie Keller-Lynn turns 30… Program Officer at The Natan Fund, Adina Poupko… Director of community engagement for the New York region of the Anti-Defamation League, Erica Greenblatt… Former aide to Senator Schumer, then senior adviser to President Clinton at the White House and thereafter, now President of DC-based Freedman Consulting, LLC, Thomas Z. Freedman… Ariana Kaufman

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]

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Daily Kickoff: Kushner’s thoughts on ME peace | Gillibrand withdraws support for anti-BDS bill | When Stripe’s founder visited Israel & Ramallah

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TOP QUOTE — Jeffrey Goldberg on why politics has become a form of religion: “Everybody needs religion, it just manifests itself in some way. People need to believe in something larger than themselves, they need to affiliate with something transcendent. I think for Bernie Sanders-type people, I think Bernie Sanders has become a religious figure… Religion came about because humans desired something transcendent, something that would explain mysteries that even science couldn’t explain, something that unifies them against darker, larger forces, and politics plays that role for a lot of people. That’s one of the reasons it gets so personal. That’s one of the reasons that political language becomes so hypermoralized. It’s not that your opponent is wrong, it’s that he’s evil. And that manifests itself on all sides of the political debate.” [RadioAtlantic]

ON THE HILL — Senate Updates the Taylor Force Act — by Aaron Magid: An updated version of the Taylor Force Act was released yesterday, signaling increased momentum towards passing the legislation. Based on the recommendation of Elliott Abrams, the new text contains an exemption for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. The legislation would also allow continued payments towards Palestinian humanitarian programs as the bill only restricts funding to programs, which “directly benefit the Palestinian Authority.” While some pundits, including former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and former Obama administration official Ilan Goldenberg, proposed inserting a National Security Waiver allowing the president the ability to delay implementation, no such waiver exists in the updated version. The bill also obligates the U.S. Secretary of State to submit a report annually attesting to the Palestinians’ fulfillment of ending the terror payments. [JewishInsider]

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet on Thursday morning for a business meeting to discuss the Taylor Force Act [SFRC]

“The Smart Way to End ‘Pay to Slay’” by David Makovsky, Dennis Ross and Lia Weiner: “Rather than placing the bulk of U.S. aid on the chopping block, legislation must be crafted to incentivize the PA to reform its behavior — not further downgrade its ties with the United States and Israel. This seems to be the sentiment of senior members of Congress on both sides of the aisle… Being smart counts for more than being right. And, the smart approach is one that also recognizes that innocent Palestinians, who have not been able to vote in an election for more than a decade, should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control.” [ForeignPolicy]

THE ULTIMATE DEAL — Kushner On Middle East Peace: “What Do We Offer That’s Unique? I Don’t Know” by Ashley Feinberg: “On Monday, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke to a group of congressional interns… The speech… offered a rare insight into the man who President Trump has tasked with… creating peace in the Middle East, among other tasks. It’s the latter, though, that’s both the most deeply personal for Kushner (a staunch supporter of Israel) and that prompted him to embark on his longest, most rambling answer during yesterday’s question-and-answer session.”

Highlights — “What I’ve determined from looking at it is that not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years we’ve been doing this… We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation… What do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know… We’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on.”

Kushner on the Temple Mount Crisis: “There were… two Israeli guards killed at the Temple Mount… so Israelis [unintelligible] putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount, which is not an irrational thing to do…. So then what happens is they start inciting it. They say look, you know, this is a change to the status quo… And that really incited a lot of tension in the streets… So ultimately we were able to work with them, and we were able to get the Israelis to take down to the different forms of surveillance that the Jordanians were okay with, and we talked with the Palestinians the whole time to try to get their viewpoint on it.” [Wired Listen to the full audio here [Wired]

Kushner to interns: “I did a lot of dumb things, I bought a newspaper—which was … very interesting” [Twitter]

“What Kushner’s Leaked Speech Gets Wrong About Mideast Peace” by Aaron David Miller: “For a would-be peacemaker, if you ignore history it will bury you… You don’t need to be a historian to be a successful negotiator, but knowing which gripes matter and which ones don’t is crucial… I was stunned, too, by Kushner’s quip that “not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years we’ve been doing this.” Remember the Israeli-Egyptian and Israeli-Jordanian peace treaties? Those weren’t chopped liver…  The only three Americans to ever succeed in Arab-Israeli peacemaking—Kissinger, Carter and Baker—all operated off a pro-Israeli script. But they also were prepared to push the Israelis along with the Arabs. You can’t do Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking without applying ample amounts honey and vinegar. Nobody is going to plant a tree in Israel in honor of Jared Kushner should he succeed—at least not immediately.” [Politico

“Trump’s plan for Mideast peace fades” by Ben Caspit: “A senior Israeli political figure admitted to Al-Monitor… that, “As of now, Trump’s peace initiative looks like it is completely bogged down.” He added, “The Palestinians have lost trust in the peace negotiations teams. Greenblatt is rapidly approaching the status of persona non grata, just like Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. The president is not involved, and it looks like he has distanced himself considerably from Middle East affairs, particularly given the serious problems he has inside the White House.” …A senior Israeli minister speaking on condition of anonymity added, “The Americans aren’t really a presence here. They let us do whatever we want. They don’t set the tone, and they don’t dictate the agenda.” [Al-Monitor]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) withdraws from the Israel Anti Boycott Act — by Jacob Kornbluh and Aaron Magid: Gillibrand asked Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) yesterday to remove her name from the anti-BDS legislation following pressure by the ACLU and other liberal advocacy groups. Glen Caplin, a senior advisor to the NY senator told us: Gillibrand “opposes BDS and has a different read of the bill. However, considering there are many people who have a different read of the bill, the bill is ambiguous. She believes it needs to be rewritten and she would support the bill if it were rewritten to specifically address those concerns.”

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), a supporter of the bill, told JI’s Aaron Magid, “It’s been pretty much a settled law as far as this is a commercial activity that you can’t be listening to a boycott by Arab countries. So I don’t think it’s a legal issue or a constitutional issue at all. On this matter, I don’t agree with them (ACLU).”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said that while he remains a co-sponsor at this time, “there are some issues with the bill that need to be considered and addressed, which I am doing and talking to my colleagues. While we are in the process of negotiations, I am not going to comment further.”

NY Post editorial… “Kirsten Gillibrand’s profile in cowardice: Add New York’s once-moderate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to the ever-growing list of Democrats who live in mortal fear of alienating the party’s hard-left base. Or to the ranks of senators who apparently don’t even read the bills they co-sponsor.” [NYPost

Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore) still supports the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, and he says the ACLU has misinterpreted the effect the bill would have on Americans and their ability to protest Israeli policies. “This bill continues to allow anyone to boycott Israeli products or to say they intend to boycott Israeli products,” says Henry Stern, a spokesman for Wyden’s office. “This bill wouldn’t prevent anybody or punish anybody for making those choices. It does nothing to restrict Americans’ speech. This bill doesn’t create any new penalties either—it uses the same language as a 40-year-old law that prevents American commercial activity from participating in concerted boycotts led by foreign governments.” [WWeek]

HILL SUMMER TRAVEL — House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-D) is leading a delegation of 19 House Democrats on a weeklong trip to Israel. The delegation will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and military officials. They will also travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. The trip is organized by AIPAC’s American Israel Education Foundation.

PROMOTIONS: “Trump’s Peace Envoy Expands His Team” by Amir Tibon: “Victoria Coates, a member of President Trump’s National Security Council, was recently promoted to the position of senior director for international negotiations, in which she will be working under Jason Greenblatt… In recent weeks, the NSC has been in discussions with the State Department over the possibility that a number of diplomats and policy experts from the department would begin working directly for Greenblatt… Greenblatt has relied on the State Department for information, advice and technical arrangements, but the NSC is looking to “staff up” his team.” [Haaretz]

“Military academic Mike Bell promoted to top Middle East adviser on NSC” by Connor O’Brien and Andrew Restuccia: “Retired Army Colonel Michael Bell has been promoted to the top Middle East adviser on the National Security Council, two White House officials said. Bell, who was most recently the NSC director of Persian Gulf affairs, is now the senior director for the Near East. He succeeds Derek Harvey, who was dismissed last week by national security adviser H.R. McMaster.” [Politico]

KELLY’S WHITE HOUSE: “A reset of her own: Ivanka Trump moves forward” by Betsy Klein: “The couple “have a lot of admiration and respect for (John Kelly) and his ability to professionalize the West Wing and are eager to follow his lead,” [a White House] official said. “They want this to work,” the official said… The West Wing shakeup — if it is successful in minimizing damaging leaks and other harmful distractions — presents Trump with the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and set a new narrative focused on her specific priorities and work.” [CNN

Politico publishes the transcript of Trump’s recent interview with the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker — by Josh Dawsey and Hadas Gold: “Ivanka Trump stopped by the Oval Office during the interview, telling Baker she heard he was there and wanted to say hello… “And I liked your editorial today, very nice. (Laughs.)” the transcript quotes Ivanka Trump as saying. “Oh, good, good. Well, you see, you know, my colleagues write those, so they’ll be – they’ll be –” Baker said, likely referring to the editorial section that is separate from the news section at the newspaper, before being cut off by the president. “You did a good job,” Trump said. “Yeah, you really did,” Ivanka Trump added. “Thank you very much. Thank you,” Baker replied. “You did a good job,” Trump continued before referring to Kushner: “He’s a good – he’s a good boy.” “They wrote a very nice editorial, so very good,” Ivanka Trump said.”

POTUS on Russian lawyer meeting: “Look at Jared, everybody – we do appreciate the editorial – but everybody said Jared Kushner. Jared’s a very private person. He doesn’t get out. I mean, maybe it’s good or maybe it’s bad what I do, but at least people know how I feel. Jared’s this really nice, smart guy, who’d love to see peace in the Middle East and in Israel, OK?” [Politico

”How will Trump handle the boredom?” by David Suissa: “It will be a battle to watch. On one side, you have a taskmaster who has been given authority to bring order to the castle, and on the other, you have an impulsive boss who loves drama and whose attention span is measured in tweets. The more Kelly succeeds, the more boredom he will bring to the White House. This will force our president to concentrate on things like… policy.” [JewishJournal]

TOP TALKER: “Behind Fox News’ Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale” by David Folkenflik: “On April 20, a month before the story ran, [Ed] Butowsky and [Rod] Wheeler — the investor and the investigator — met at the White House with then-press secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering. The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky boasting that Trump himself had reviewed drafts of the Fox News story just before it went to air and was published… On May 14, about 36 hours before Fox News’ story appears, Butowsky leaves a voicemail for Wheeler, saying, “We have the full, uh, attention of the White House on this. And tomorrow, let’s close this deal, whatever we’ve got to do.” … Spicer says he is not aware of any contact, direct or not, between Butowsky and Trump. And Butowsky now tells NPR he has never shared drafts of the story with Trump or his aides — that he was joking with a friend.” [NPRWashPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “It doesn’t bother me that the Press Secretary would take a meeting with somebody involved in the media about a story. None of that was disclosed. They had a conversation and that was the end of it… The President didn’t have knowledge of this story. The White House didn’t have any involvement in the story.”

IRAN DEAL: “Iran Says New U.S. Sanctions Violate Nuclear Deal” by Rick Gladstone: “Iran said on Tuesday that it had lodged a complaint with the commission that polices possible violations of the Iranian nuclear agreement… The commission includes representatives from all seven countries in the accord… and is coordinated by Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top foreign policy official.” [NYTimes]

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained his position on the Iran deal during the State Department press briefing yesterday: “It is important in my view that we coordinate as much as we can with our European allies and with Russia and China, who are signatories as well, because the greatest pressure we can put to bear on Iran to change behavior is a collective pressure… It’s an agreement that should serve America’s interests first and foremost, and if it doesn’t serve that interest, then why would we maintain it? … I think there are a lot of alternative means with which we use the agreement to advance our policies and the relationship with Iran. And that’s what the conversation generally is around with the President as well, is what are all those options.”

“Averting a Third Lebanon War” by Mark Dubowitz and [Rep.] Mike Gallagher: “Sanctions lifted under the Iran nuclear agreement should be restored. Blacklist the Central Bank of Iran and expel Iranian banks from the Swift banking system. Some will worry this financial pressure could put the Iranian nuclear agreement at risk. So be it. This is the price Iran must pay for pushing the region into another bloody confrontation. And if sanctions don’t succeed, Israel should be given the wide berth it needs to address the threat using all means at its disposal.” [WSJ]

Ben Rhodes resurfaces: “If Trump tears up Iran Deal even though Iran is complying, why would China or DPRK think he’d stick to a nuclear deal on Korean Peninsula?” [Twitter]

2018 WATCH: “Want to know if Democrats can take back the House? Keep an eye on this Orange County race” by Amber Phillips: “The Orange County-area seat represented by Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.) is a typical, affluent suburban Republican district that went for Clinton over President Trump by nearly nine points. That made it one of the most pro-Clinton Republican-held districts in the nation… No surprise then, that Royce, who has been in office for more than two decades, has at least five potential Democratic challengers… Royce is the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and… has $3 million cash on hand.” [WashPost

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Netanyahu’s Former Chief of Staff Ari Harowin Talks to Become State Witness” by Revital Hovel: “Law enforcement authorities are getting close to reaching a state’s witness agreement with Ari Harow, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff. Harow, who was very close to the prime minister, has been linked to two pending investigations against the prime minister.” [HaaretzTelegraph• Flashback: Who really is Ari Harow? [JPost]

KAFE KNESSET — Criminal Cucumber Season — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: It is the beginning of what is known in Israel as the “cucumber season,” that time of the summer in which most of the country slows down, as well as the news cycle. But this year, as various police probes involving the PM and his closest confidants advance, it appears the media will have quite enough headlines to keep busy. This afternoon, Sarah Netanyahu is set to arrive at the Lahav 433 (Israel’s version of the FBI) headquarters for another investigation in the “residence affair.” This is the case in which she is suspected of alleged fraud, breach of trust and misuse of public funds for private expenses at the PM’s residence. The police already recommended last year that Sarah Netanyahu be indicted the case. The investigation today is one of the final steps ahead of concluding the case and submitting an official recommendation by the State Prosecutor.

Meanwhile, Balfour’s residents might be concerned about other recent developments, as the state is now engaged in advanced negotiations to turn Ari Harrow, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, into a state witness… If the law enforcement efforts come to fruition, Harrow will be the second state witness enlisted as part of the ongoing probes into Netanyahu and his associates, following Miki Ganor, the Israeli representative of the ThyssenKrupp ship company, who has signed a deal as part of the submarine affair investigation, aka file 3000, and his testimony is expected to incriminate Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron… Netanyahu’s personal media advisor Nir Heffetz issued a response today in which he “reiterates to all of the concerned media outlets that there will be nothing because there was nothing.” However, as the list of former aides and confidants starring in criminal headlines continues to grow longer, Netanyahu sure would be happy to shift the cucumber season agenda far from where it is now. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** 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: LogMeIn buys Israeli AI startup for $45M [Bizjournals] • Kushner Companies caught in legal battle with New York restaurant owners [FoxNews] • Jared Kushner stepped down from 266 ‘corporate positions.’ What does that mean? [WashPost] • TPG to Invest in Israeli Cyber Security Firm GuardiCore [Reuters] • High-Profile Lawyers Targeted in Mexico Spyware Scandal Involving Israel-based NGO Group [NYT] • Activist Shareholder Doubles Down Against $7.4 Billion Sabra Merger [SeniorHousing] • Houston-area business leaders — including Fred Zeidman — submit letter in opposition to ‘bathroom bill’ [Chron• Arianespace, Avio launch 10th Vega rocket, orbit two Israeli-made satellites [SpaceNews] • Israeli taxman seeks $45 million from Coca Cola over royalties: report[Reuters] • Macron Should Call Billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Bluff [Bloomberg] • P&G hits back at Peltz, says investor not entitled to board seat [Reuters]

LongRead: “How Two Brothers Turned Seven Lines of Code Into a $9.2 Billion Startup” by Ashlee Vance: “In May, Patrick [Collison] went on a five-day tour of Israel to meet with investors and young entrepreneurs and tout these products. Much of the trip felt like he was still in Silicon Valley: At Google’s Tel Aviv office, he talked to startup founders amid “Tech It Easy” posters and potted plants with stickers reading “You are outstanding!” Midway through the trip, he went to Ramallah, in the West Bank. About 50 people were at the offices of Leaders, a Palestinian organization that runs the region’s only technology park… During his talk, Patrick explained to [Odeh] Quraan and the others that he could identify with feelings of isolation because of his upbringing in rural Ireland… Audience members told him they were set to deliver a petition with more than 100,000 signatures to PayPal chiding the company for allowing Israeli settlers to use the service but not Palestinians. Patrick countered that Stripe wants to expand its business in Palestine and anywhere else entrepreneurs need help.” [Businessweek

“Tales From Inside an Israeli ER” by Matthew Stein: “Dr. Ofer Merin, Shaare Zedek Hospital, Israel… “From a purely medical point of view, treating terror victims is no different than other patients, but there are differences. First, terror victims come to the hospital in a much more critical condition, which means treatment is more urgent…. To make things more complicated, in many of these incidents, we had to treat the terrorist alongside the victims. Sometimes, if their condition is more critical, we’ll operate on the terrorist first. We’re extremely strict with treating patients as patients without judging them, but explaining this to the victims and their families is not easy.”” [Ozy]

“Ex-Trump lawyer, Marvel superhero chairman in epic Palm Beach feud” by Alexandra Clough: “[Marc] Kasowitz is representing Canadian businessman Harold Peerenboom in a years long lawsuit against Isaac Perlmutter, the chairman of Marvel Entertainment and a Trump pal… If Kasowitz feels inclined to hold back against Perl­mutter because of his friendship with Trump, Kasowitz isn’t showing it.” [PalmBeachPost

“Booker Doesn’t Regret Fundraising With Jared And Ivanka In 2013, But “Wouldn’t Take A Dime From Them Now” by Katherine Miller: “No,” he told the hosts of BuzzFeed News podcast Another Round on Saturday. “Listen, I wouldn’t take a dime from them now, but this was a time when they were Democrats. I mean, they were supporting Hillary Clinton, uh, and the Kushner family were big New Jersey Democrats, and really helped to fight against Chris Christie and a lot of other folks.” … He said he had not had a conversation with Kushner or Trump “really since the — since well before the election.” “I literally have people saying, ‘I’m unfollowing you on Facebook ’cause you are in league with the Kushners, and the Trumps,’ and I’m like, ‘What planet are you from? Are you listening to the media here?’ I’m leading, in the Senate, criticism of those folks.” [BuzzFeed]  

“The ‘Rock Star’ Activist Leading the Resistance: The ACLU’s political director and possibly the most powerful Muslim in American politics” by Daniel Malloy: “In 2000 at Harvard, [Faiz] Shakir was co-chair of Islam Awareness Week. The week’s final event, which Shakir says he did not plan or attend, was in coalition with other local colleges and sent proceeds to the Holy Land Foundation, a charity supporting Palestinians. HLF was later shut down by the feds, and its leaders were found guilty of sending money to Hamas. Foes also labeled Shakir an anti-Semite, based mostly on personal tweets by people who worked under him at ThinkProgress. Shakir says the accusations have “no merit,” but they stung. “It cut pretty deeply,” Shakir says. “It’s the type of thing I’ve been working my life against. I was always deeply involved in forging relationships across ethnic and religious differences.” [Ozy

“When Progressives Embrace Hate” by Bari Weiss: “It turns out that this “homegirl in a hijab,” as one of many articles about her put it, has a history of disturbing views, as advertised by . . . Linda Sarsour… There’s no doubt that Ms. Sarsour is a regular target of far-right groups, but her experience of that onslaught is what makes her smear all the more troubling… What’s more distressing is that Ms. Sarsour is not the only leader of the women’s movement who harbors such alarming ideas. Largely overlooked have been the similarly outrageous statements of the march’s other organizers… Recall that only a few months ago, Keith Ellison, a man with a long history of defending and working with anti-Semites, was almost made leader of the Democratic National Committee.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THE TOWN: “In Borough Park, a Councilman Departs but the Feud Goes On” by Shane Goldmacher: “The battle of Borough Park between Mr. Hikind, a 67-year-old who has been in office since 1983, and Mr. Greenfield, 38, is a classic generational struggle for power in one of the densest concentrations of Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish voters in America… “Complicated,” Mr. Greenfield said. “That’s my word. Complicated.” What exactly set off the dispute during Mr. Greenfield’s brief tenure as Mr. Hikind’s top aide more than a decade ago remains a mystery. Neither man would discuss it. “I really don’t want to talk about that,” Mr. Hikind said. “That’s for the book.” [NYTimes• Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s son, Yoni, jumps in race for City Councilman David Greenfield’s seat [NYDailyNews]

“Uneasy Welcome as Ultra-Orthodox Jews Extend Beyond New York” by Joseph Berger: “Skyrocketing real estate prices in Brooklyn and Queens are forcing out young ultra-Orthodox families, which are establishing outposts in unexpected places, like Toms River and Jackson Township in New Jersey, the Willowbrook neighborhood on Staten Island and in Bloomingburg, N.Y., in the foothills of the Catskills. The influx, however, has provoked tensions with long-established residents, as the ultra-Orthodox seek to establish a larger footprint for their surging population.” [NYTimes]

“My summer at Morgan State University” by Adam Neuman: “‘Morgan State University?’ My mother had now asked me on three separate occasions if this was officially where I had selected to enroll in coursework during the summer of 2012. I nodded and smiled. From grade school and beyond, the majority of my life experiences were solely centered around Jewish interaction and connection. My exposure to people of various faiths, backgrounds, races, and the other intricacies that made humans, well, human, had remained limited. The notion of veering off of a simpler course startled my mother. It also startled me. But, frankly, I was poorer because of it. My lack of exposure had hindered my mind and my soul. So, yes, yes, and yes were the three responses to my mother.” [BaltimoreSun]

JI reader Josh Hantman emails…
 “My buddy Dave Kay, a 32 year old British Israeli tour guide, husband and father of an adorable 2 year old, has been fighting stage 4 cancer for the last year. He is a big mensch with a massive heart, and now he needs some help. We’re looking to raise a small amount to help him get the treatment he needs. #SaveDave” [YouCaring]

BIRTHDAYS: Jerusalem born actor, who moved to the US as a child, and has appeared in over 400 TV episodes, Nehemiah Persoff turns 98… Co-founder and chairman of NYC-based real estate development firm, Rockrose Development Corporation, Henry Elghanayan turns 77… Long-time member of Knesset, in the Likud party (1984-2006) and the Yisrael Beiteinu party (2009-2015), he  also held several ministerial posts, Uzi Landau turns 74… Retired colonel in the US Army and a recipient of the Medal of Honor and 7 other medals, he taught at West Point and serves as a military analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, Jack H. Jacobs turns 72… Long-time librarian, now residing in Houston, Irene Seff turns 71… Associate / Executive Director of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (1978-2006), then Director of HUC-JIR’s Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (2007-2015), Richard A. Siegel turns 70… Nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, columnist for the Jewish Journal, author and public speaker, Dennis Prager turns 69… Op-Ed columnist for the International New York Times, he has worked as a foreign correspondent in fifteen different countries, Roger Cohen turns 62… Democratic member of the US House of Representatives for Nevada’s 3rd congressional district since 2017, she is planning to run  for the US Senate in the 2018 election, Jacklyn Sheryl Rosen turns 60…

Owner of Newton, Massachusetts-based MPG Promotions, Elliot Mael turns 52… ATP professional tennis player (1983 to 1996), who was once ranked sixth best in the world, Aaron Krickstein turns 50… VP of Sales for Hearst Television, Eric J. Meyrowitz turns 47… Former reporter for both the AP and Wall Street Journal, now the DC-based national security reporter for The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg turns 43… Speechwriter and executive communications program manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Steve Rabin turns 39… CEO of a multi-national toy and gift company, Isaac William (“Zevy”) Wolman… Director of special projects at the DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Julia Nayfeld Schulman turns 33… Actress best known for her 1999 “Pepsi Girl” role as a 7 year old, and later for subsequent teen roles, Hallie Kate Eisenberg turns 25… VP and General Counsel of Yeshiva University, Andrew ”Avi” Lauer… Harriet Cohen

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Screenshot via YouTube/IsraeliPM

Kafe Knesset for July 25

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jordan crisis solved: After several nights with very little time to sleep, Netanyahu opened his morning with a positive photo-op, welcoming to his office the Israeli Ambassador to…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for July 21

Friday, July 21, 2017

Metal detector dilemmas: A tense weekend is starting at the end of a fabulous week for the PM. Netanyahu concluded a five-day visit to France and Hungary, a…

Courtesy of The Washington Institute

Kafe Knesset for July 20

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Budapest Dispatch – An “asterisk” on the marred submarine deal: Netanyahu gave some clarity on the corruption scandal surrounding Israel’s purchase of German submarines. Speaking to Israeli journalists…

Netanyahu Europe

Kafe Knesset for July 19

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Budapest dispatch – Bibi’s hot mic incident: Some journalists wait a lifetime for a “fly on the wall” moment, and reporters accompanying Bibi on his European trip got one…

Photo by Jacob Kornbluh

CUFI Warns Trump of Failing to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WASHINGTON – Speaking before a crowded gathering of pro-Israel supporters at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) annual summit on Monday, former Congressman Allen West warned President Donald…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Trump Certifies Iran Complying with Nuclear deal, Promises New Sanctions

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration certified on Monday night in its quarterly review that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear agreement while also warning about Tehran’s malign…