Daily Kickoff: Trump clarifies Two States statement | Yitzhak Tshuva and Noble Energy invest in Egyptian pipeline | Lime scooters headed to Israel

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DRIVING THE DAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will both address the UN General Assembly this afternoon. [Livestream]

JOSTLING: “An Israeli official said Mr. Netanyahu had requested a meeting with Mr. Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N., but the Palestinians declined to meet. A U.S. official said that the Palestinians also didn’t accept requests from the Trump administration to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.” [WSJ

Video — A look back at Netanyahu’s memorable UN moments [i24News]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Following his endorsement of the two state solution during a morning meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Trump clarified his new position at a press conference held at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel: 

“I think we’re going to go down the two-state road, and I’m glad I got it out, and Jared [Kushner]… is also going to be very fair with the Palestinians. He understands it takes two people to be happy, two groups of people to be happy. Everybody has to be happy… You know what I did today? By saying that I put it out and if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that, but nobody wanted to say it. It is a big thing to put it out. Now, the bottom line, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me. If they want two states, that’s okay with me. I’m happy if they’re happy. I’m a facilitator… I think probably two state is more likely.”

Trump on how he views solving the Middle East conflict: “I think it is in one way more difficult because it is a real estate deal because you need metes and bounds and you need lots of carve-outs and everything. It is actually a little tougher deal, but another way it works better because you have people governing themselves.” [Video]

Flashback — 2-26-2016 — Rubio to Trump: ‘Palestinians aren’t a real estate deal’ [CNN]

HOW IT PLAYED — Trump supports 2-state solution for the first time — by Barak Ravid: “The Palestinians have been anxiously waiting for Trump to say this. In the 20 months since he assumed office, Trump refrained from supporting the two state solution even though presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all supported a Palestinian state… It will be interesting to see if Trump’s overture towards Abbas and the Palestinians will be reflected in the Palestinian president’s speech.” [Axios

— Chemi Shalev: Trick or treat, Trump’s endorsement of two-state solution changes reality, because words matter [Haaretz]

Former advisor to seven consecutive Israeli Prime Ministers, Shalom Lipner emails us… “It’s hard to believe that Trump has suddenly become enamored with the two state program. The more plausible scenario is that someone with the President’s ear proposed that he drop the phrase into his comments as a decoy to deflect some of the heat surrounding his administration’s Middle East diplomacy. His later clarification echoes his words of February 2017 and, to my mind, provides a better barometer of his views. The dealmaker in him just wants any deal that will hold, i.e. that the parties will embrace, but it’s almost impossible to see that happening anytime soon.”

ZOA’s Mort Klein, who strongly praised Trump “superb” UN speech, tells us… “With Trump’s record of being the greatest pro-Israel ever, and his support for Israel aggressively defending itself, I am sure that the only way Trump would promote a Palestinian state would be if it were demilitarized, accepted Israel as a Jewish state, ended and rescinded the naming of schools, streets and sports teams after Jew killers, stopped paying Arabs to murder Jews, stopped promoting violence and hatred of Jews in their schools, media and speeches, and guaranteeing regular elections, ending Abbas’ dictatorship. Therefore, the odds of Trump establishing a legitimate, human-rights-loving and a democratic Palestinian state is zero. So I am not worried about this statement.”

BIBI’S TAKE — “In a briefing to Israeli reporters after the meeting with Trump, Netanyahu said he was not caught by surprise by Trump’s statement… Netanyahu said Jared Kushner… told the President during the meeting that different players have different interpretations of the term “Palestinian state.” Netanyahu said he reiterated Kushner’s remark and told Trump that the question will be whether the Palestinian state will be ‘more like Costa Rica or more like Iran.’ … I am sure that every U.S. peace plan will reflect that.”[Axios]

“The president of the US is a true friend of Israel,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party on Twitter. “However, it must be emphasized that as long as the Jewish Home party is part of Israel’s government, there will not be a Palestinian state which would be a disaster for Israel.”

LAST NIGHT — Netanyahu met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel [PicVideo]

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinian Ambassador to US: ‘Trump’s remarks contradict his actions’: “The Palestinian envoy to the US Husam Zomlot… said that Trump’s “statements contradict his actions. His policy is destroying any chance for peace.” [Ynet]

ON THE HILL — The House passed legislation yesterday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the late President of Egypt Anwar Sadat recognizing his contributions to peace in the Middle East. The effort was spearheaded by Ezra Friedlander, Shafik Gabr, Isaac Dabah, and Tzili Charney of the Anwar Sadat Congressional Gold Medal Commission. The bill now heads to the president’s desk.

The House also passed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act, bipartisan legislation to further combat Hezbollah’s access to the international financial system. And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act, bipartisan legislation — introduced by Senators. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) — that mandates sanctions against members of Hamas and Hezbollah responsible for the use of human shields.

TALK OF THE REGION — Is the Israel-Russia honeymoon over? — by Ben Caspit: “Despite the initial assessment that the Russians would absorb the loss of their jet and make do with a public protest, it now looks like Moscow plans to change the rules of the game along Israel’s northern front and deny Israel free “access rights” and its almost complete freedom of activity.”

“Israel has few illusions about how Trump could change this miserable situation. Netanyahu was not expected to ask Trump to declare war on Putin. Rather, he was going to try to convince the US president to make some gesture to Putin on issues important to Russia, in exchange for Putin reducing tensions on the new front that just opened against Israel. It will still take a few days before we know if Trump was receptive to this request, and even more important, if he actually plans to uphold his side of it.” [Al-Monitor]

Netanyahu: Trump gave guarantees over Israeli operations in Syria — by Raphael Ahren: “Israel managed to obtain several guarantees from US President Donald Trump regarding its freedom of operation in Syria… “I received what I asked for. I came with specific points and I got them,” [Netanyahu] told reporters in a briefing following his meeting with Trump.” [ToI] • Iran says Israel will ‘regret’ further attacks on Syria [Reuters]

Angela Merkel’s Ugly Romance With the Iranian Regime — by Benjamin Weinthal: “The mainstreaming of Iran’s mullah regime by the Merkel administration has moved at an astonishingly fast pace since world powers reached the JCPOA with Tehran in July 2015.” [Tablet]

Rich Goldberg writes… “What Trump must do to stop Europe from end-running his Iran sanctions: Some former top officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations are advising Treasury to embrace a “compromise” path where SWIFT does not disconnect Iranian banks in November but, instead, strengthens its monitoring of Iran’s illicit transactions going forward. But the president should see that plan for what it is: a dressed-up version of the status quo and exactly what JCPOA supporters want.”[NYPost]

Biden, Boehner and Blair join Jewish group in push to keep strong US ties with NATO and EU: “We rise in defense of the precious alliance of democracies — and its treaties, institutions and norms — that has sustained peace and generated prosperity from the Cold War to the present day,” the statement posted Wednesday by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said… Among those signing on are Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden and Republicans such as former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, and Stephen Hadley… Also signing was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.” [JTA]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Sessions Aide, a Trump Loyalist, Is Seen as Ascendant Amid Rosenstein Chaos — by Katie Benner and Maggie Haberman: “Matthew G. Whitaker, the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would become the acting No. 2 official at the Justice Department, his White House counterpart, John F. Kelly, told him over the phone on Saturday morning… By late Monday morning, the plan was moot. Mr. Rosenstein was no longer committed to resigning, at least without assurances he was doing so on amicable terms with the president.”

“Mr. Trump has privately told aides that he believes that Mr. Rosenstein disparaged him. But in a news conference on Wednesday after attending the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Trump said he might delay a planned meeting with Mr. Rosenstein set for Thursday. He added that his preference was to leave Mr. Rosenstein to “finish” the job overseeing the special counsel investigation.” [NYTimes] • Trump’s Plan May Be to Save Rosenstein, Push Out Sessions After the Midterms [VanityFair]

MUELLER WATCH — The Trump lawyers you don’t see are the ones driving dealings with Robert Mueller — by Gloria Borger, Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz: “One recent summer day, President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani flatly stated that the President would not answer any questions from the special counsel about obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation…  At the same time, another pair of key attorneys for the President, Jane and Marty Raskin, were busy trying to coordinate calls with a lawyer on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. They continued to negotiate details of that possible deal for the President to answer questions — including, potentially, about obstruction… The lawyers are close to receiving a round of written questions from Mueller’s investigators.” [CNN]

Rudy Giuliani Photographed With White Nationalist Mayoral Candidate  — by Will Sommer: “Giuliani posed for pictures with a right-wing media personality turned mayoral candidate accused of promoting white nationalism and anti-Semitic literature. The candidate, Faith Goldy, is a far-right YouTuber who is running to be mayor of Toronto… She went to the fatal Charlottesville white supremacist march in August 2017 as a correspondent for right-wing Canadian outlet Rebel Media, but was fired from the site after discussing the event on a show hosted by neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.”[DailyBeast]

HAPPENING TODAY: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, will testify before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee starting at 9:45 am EDT. Kavanaugh is expected to respond to Ford’s claims following her testimony. [CSPAN]

— Headline: “The Orthodox Jewish Mother, Arrested Ten Times, Who’s Protesting Kavanaugh” [Forward]

MIDTERMS — Wife of Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter donates $1.5 million to Ron DeSantis campaign for Florida Governor [FloridaPolitics]

Cuomo rakes in cash after primary — by Will Bredderman: “Gov. Andrew Cuomo… has raised $436,582 since crushing actress-activist Cynthia Nixon by 30 points on Sept. 13… Of that, $66,600 came from Harrison and James LeFrak, sons of Richard LeFrak and scions of one of the city’s most prominent real estate dynasties. The donations from the clan are notable because Cuomo has focused his campaign on opposing President Donald Trump, a close friend of Richard LeFrak… The governor’s campaign also got… $30,000 from biographer Susan Hertog, wife of financier Roger Hertog—another Trump ally and donor to right-leaning think tanks.”[CrainsNewYork]

Shalom Lipner writes… “Big money donors defecting from GOP raise new tensions over Israel: For the likes of [Leslie] Wexner and [Seth] Klarman – people with stellar credentials as stalwart patrons of Israel – who seek Trump’s overthrow, might they conclude that their distaste for Trump can’t possibly coexist with their love for Israel? … The impending U.S. midterms and the prospect of early elections in Israel guarantee that these tensions will not disappear. What remains far from certain though are the fortunes of the U.S.-Israel partnership when its strongest advocates are hell-bent on unseating the person most responsible for it.” [TheHill]

Netanyahu backs US envoy’s handling of sexual misconduct claims against aide — by Raphael Ahren: “In his first public statement on the [David Keyes] matter, Netanyahu told reporters: “I’m sure Ambassador Dermer acted entirely properly and appropriately.” He noted that “the matter is currently being probed by the Civil Service Commission, and we will let the investigation take its course.” [ToI]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Noble Energy, Israeli Tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva Buying 39% Stake in Egyptian Gas Pipeline Company [Haaretz• Acquisition Streak May Hamper Attempts to Upscale the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange [CTech• Delay approved for Kushner group’s Journal Square tower project[JerseyJournal] • Roman Abramovich Reportedly Denied Swiss Residency[HaaretzESPN] • Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker: How to Create the Workforce of the Future [Fortune]

STARTUP NATION — Former Israeli PM Barak to chair medical marijuana company: “Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been appointed chairman of an Israeli medical marijuana company…. InterCure says Barak will lead its global growth strategy. In a statement, it said Barak’s “stature” will be helpful for the company’s development. The company, which is publicly traded in Israel, intends to change its name to Canndoc Pharma.”[ABCNews]

Scooter-Rental Startup Lime Is Expanding in Israel, Vienna — by Nate Lanxon: “Lime, most recently valued at $1.1 billion, plans to release its scooters onto the streets of “at least one, but most likely two cities,” in Israel within the next 30 days, said Caen Contee, vice president of international expansion for the San Mateo, California-based startup. Contee said the company has been “in conversations” with local mayors and other officials in Israel for about three months to define a cooperative way to enter the market.” [Bloomberg]

WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook And Why He Left $850 Million Behind — by Parmy Olson: “Mark Zuckerberg first reached out to [Jan] Koum over email in April 2012, leading to lunch at Esther’s German Bakery in Los Altos. Koum showed the email to Acton, who encouraged him to go. “We weren’t shopping our company,” Acton remembers today. “We had no exit planned.” But two things sparked Zuckerberg’s mega-offer in early 2014. One was hearing that WhatsApp’s founders had been invited to Google’s Mountain View headquarters for talks, and he did not want to lose them to a competitor. Another was a document analyzing WhatsApp’s valuation, written by Morgan Stanley’s Michael Grimes, that someone had shown to the deal teams at Facebook and at Google.”

“In August 2018, when Forbes sat down with Acton, another source said Koum was sailing on a yacht in the Mediterranean, far away from everything.”[Forbes]

CAA’s Michael Ovitz Writes His Memoir — And Re-Writes Hollywood History — by James Andrew Miller: “The author of an oral history of the storied talent agency reviews its co-founder’s new memoir, ‘Who Is Michael Ovitz?,’ and his recollection (and revisionist retelling) of Michael Eisner feuds, Ron Meyer’s gambling and more: “It’s like he wants to get to heaven but doesn’t want to die.” … It’s good, candid stuff, but unfortunately for the reader, Ovitz’s goal with the book to emerge as respected and liked gets in the way of him being totally transparent about how he acted to get there. He rarely showcases the raw, unforgiving and, yes, brutal way he sometimes thought about and acted toward others. It’s like he wants to get to heaven but doesn’t want to die.” [HollywoodReporter]

MEDIA WATCH — Website Revs Up, With New York Magazine’s Help, to Cover More Local News — by Jaclyn Peiser: “Ben Smith, the editor of BuzzFeed News, will be the chairman of The City’s board of directors… “Journalism is a utility like water in a city — the place will fall apart without it,” Mr. Smith said in explaining why sites like The City were important. “I don’t think anyone imagines that The Village Voice fell apart because they ran out of bad landlords for them to cover.” [NYTimes]

TRANSITION — Ira Forman, former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, has joined Human Rights First as a senior advisor for combating anti-Semitism.

TALK OF OUR NATION — Seeing Ally Against Muslims, Some German Jews Embrace Far Right, to Dismay of Others — by Melissa Eddy: “The move among members of the group, the Jewish Alternative for Germany, comes amid a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the country… “The AfD is the only party in Germany that focuses on Muslims’ hatred for Jews, without playing it down,” Dimitri Schulz, who is Jewish and joined the organization in 2014, said in a policy statement defining the new group’s purpose… “We disagree with the notion of a few Jews that it could be in the interest of Jewish people to join the AfD in order to have an influence on their politics,” read a blistering editorial in Jalta, a magazine covering Jewish life in Germany.” [NYTimes]

— Heard on NPR’s Morning Edition: Digging Up Lithuania’s Jewish History [NPR]

DESSERT — Downtown Detroit’s new Fort Street Galley food hall reveals its vendors — by Mark Kurlyandchik: “Allenby is named in honor of a street in Tel Aviv where Goldberg ate one of the best pita sandwiches of his life during a formative 10-day trip to Israel. “I wanted to do that quality of sandwich because the food was amazing there,” he said.” [DetroitFreePress]

BIRTHDAYS: Investor and pioneer in the commercial real estate industry, Sam Zell (born Shmuel Zielonka) turns 77… Co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank turns 76… State Treasurer of Ohio, Josh Mandel turns 41… Physicist and emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, Fred Singer turns 94… Director of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate (1979-1983), member of Knesset (1988-1992) and later served as Israel’s ambassador to the Philippines, Major General (retired) Yehoshua Sagi turns 85… Antitrust and business litigator at the Locke Lord law firm, Stephen J. Landes turns 73… Ellen Sandler turns 69… President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (2004-2017), Jeffrey M. Lacker turns 63… Award-winning journalist at the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Fortune Magazine and the Washington Post, now President of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers Public Relations, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum turns 62…

Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, he was first elected in 2002 and every two years since, he is married to a Minneapolis rabbi, Marcia Zimmerman, Frank Hornstein turns 59… Comedian and author, frequent guest on both Letterman and Conan O’Brien, Marc Maron turns 55… Member of the House of Representatives since 2005, Chairperson of the DNC from 2011 until the summer of 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz turns 52… Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at Dallas Jewish Monthly, Judy Tashbook-Safern turns 52… Rabbi and kabbalist with ties to many leading businessmen and political figures in both Israel and the US, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto turns 45… Architect, entrepreneur and author, Marc Kushner turns 41… Consultant at Deloitte, she was previously a Hebrew teacher and coordinator of Jewish programs at Zeta Beta Tau, Alexa Wertman Brown turns 28…




Daily Kickoff: Trump endorses the two-state solution for the first time | Tal Keinan’s book on Judaism’s future | Has anyone seen Roman Abramovich?

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NOW AVAILABLE — Tal Keinan of Clarity Capital is out with a new book titled God Is in the Crowd: Twenty-First-Century JudaismFrom the publisher — “Tal Keinan was born to a secular Jewish family in Florida. His interest in Judaism was ignited by a Christian minister at his New England prep school and led him down the unlikely path to enlistment in the Israel Air Force. Using his own dramatic experiences as a backdrop, and applying lessons from his life as a business leader and social activist, Keinan takes the reader on a riveting adventure, weaving between past, present, and future, and fusing narrative with theory to demonstrate Judaism’s value to humanity and chart its path into the future.”

We asked Tal to share with JI readers what he’s proposing: 

Keinan tells us: Crowd Wisdom. A crowd will only be wise if (a) its members are all answering the same question (b) they are independent in their inputs (c) they are of diverse backgrounds and (d) there is some consistent and objective aggregation mechanism for their inputs. These conditions existed in the diaspora of the past 2,000 years and the idea is to now create a virtual diaspora that consists of…

1. A technology platform that poses the question, solicits independent and diverse input, and aggregates the inputs.
2. And educational endowment that enlarges the crowd of participants, and inspires a critical mass of its members to become “experts” in the issues of Jewish governance.
3. A legislative mechanism to translate the crowd’s opinion into action.

JI: You write about giving every Jew a vote, who would they be voting for and why?

Keinan: They would be voting for the president of Israel. That function would be something like the current Chairman of the Jewish Agency, but with legislative teeth. His or her mandate would be exclusively over matters that make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people. These include eligibility for full citizenship in Israel under the law of return, custody of Jewish holy sites, Israel’s relationship with non-Israeli Jewish communities. The office would have no jurisdiction over matters unrelated to Israel’s status as a nation state of the Jews, for example healthcare, defense, education, etc.

JI: Are you confident you’ll be able to obtain buy-in from the Israeli government and from a wide spectrum of the Jewish community to become more organized/centralized?

Keinan: I am confident I will not! At least not at first. Many of the book’s ideas upset current power structures. My hope is that by laying out the diagnosis clearly, enough of us will realize that the stakes are high and they justify radical thinking. This crowd will have to find its voice organically. It will not be led from the top. My hope is that the book offers a focal point around which this urgent conversation can begin.

You can read an excerpt of Tal’s book here [NationalPost]

TALK OF THE PARTY CIRCUIT — by Amanda Gordon: “At the Metropolitan Opera House, a new production of “Samson and Delilah” opened the season, with dancers cavorting and climbing up and down a giant gold temple. All for a story revolving around a Biblical man well-endowed with hair follicles but lacking great judgment in women. As for the couples on the scene, I couldn’t find a man who lets his wife cut his hair, but Bruce Kovner, chairman of CAM Capital, said he lets his wife arrange his haircuts.

Some guests could only talk about their hair in the past. “I had a Jewish Afro in my 20s,” said Peter Gelb, the Met Opera’s general manager… Running Harvard University since July hasn’t yet caused any major hair loss for Larry Bacow, who was about a mile away at the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. Heck, his hair might even be growing faster after the announcement last week that Harvard raised $9.6 billion in its most recent campaign. But he wasn’t the only one with a fine mane at the Museum of Natural History event… Those who don’t have to wear baseball caps in the sun include Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein, and Alan Dershowitz…” [Bloomberg]

HAPPENING TODAY — Michael Bloomberg will host world leaders at the Plaza Hotel in NYC for the Bloomberg Global Business Forum. Speakers include British Prime Minister Theresa May, Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, former President Bill Clinton, David Solomon of Goldman Sachs, and BlackRock’s Larry Fink, among others.

HOLIDAY CATCHUP — DURING SUKKOT… Russia promisedto upgrade Syria’s defense systems after the recent rift with Israel… The Trump administration warned Russia it would be a ‘major mistake’ if it supplied Syria with advanced missiles… The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal on Monday agreed to keep working to maintain trade with Iran… Jordanian King Abdullah told Jewish leaders on Friday that he has “no idea” what is included in the Trump peace plan… White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say whether Trump has confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after the NY Times reported that Rosenstein had discussed secretly recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment… Rosenstein is set to meet with Trump on Thursday… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and OCC head Joseph Otting want to overhaul the Community Reinvestment Act, in part based on their experiences running OneWest Bank…

AT THE UN: In his UN speech, President Trump condemned Iran’s regime as a “corrupt dictatorship,” and called on “all nations” to isolate Iran. Trump singled out India, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Poland as worthy partners… On Mideast peace, Trump said the United States was no longer “held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again”… Macron swiped at Trump stating that trampling on Palestinians won’t resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… and Trump is unlikely to forgive UN for laughing at him during his speech…

Trump on a meeting with Iran: “I think that, at some point, they’re going want to negotiate. I have said no, so far. It was me that said no, not them… And I think that at some point we will have meaningful discussions and probably do a deal. I don’t see how it works for them otherwise, because otherwise, they’re going to be in the worst economic trouble of any country anywhere in the world.”

Trump tweets“Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!”

DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations Headquarters. At the start of their meeting, President Trump mentioned the Jerusalem Embassy move and reiterated his support for Israel’s right to defend itself. For the first time since taking office, Trump endorsed the two state solution. “I like [the] two state solution,” Trump said. “You may have a different feeling. I don’t think so,” Trump told Netanyahu, “but I think [the] two state solution works best.”

Trump also repeated that Israel will have to “pay something” in exchange for moving the embassy to Jerusalem: “I took probably the biggest chip off the table, and so obviously we have to make a fair deal. Deals have to be good for both parties, otherwise you don’t have a deal,” Trump stated. “So something will have to be done. But that’s a very big chip (Jerusalem). Israel got the first chip, and it’s a pretty big one — there’s no question about that.”

— Quick reactions from experts: Aaron David Miller tells us… “Since he never mentioned it before, this is an indication that this will be in the peace plan, when it’s presented. What he did today was make a pretty clear statement, in principle.”

— Elliott Abrams emails us… “First, endorsing the two-state solution is nothing new and will be in the peace plan. As to chips, that arises in the context of significant PLO concessions. I’m not holding my breath.”

— Former U.S. Amb. Dan Shapiro: “Trump has often said, correctly, that bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace requires acknowledging certain truths, like that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It’s good to see that he finally got around to acknowledging another one: that the two-state solution is the best (actually only) way to end the conflict. I don’t understand why it took so long. The acknowledgement is welcome, but the delay in getting here lengthened the already long odds of success if and when Trump’s peace plan is presented.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold a meeting today with senior officials representing 40 countries and international organizations to discuss ways to block or influence the U.S. Middle East peace plan. It will take place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, under the theme: “Salvaging the Two-State Solution, Defending the International Rules-Based System.” [Axios]

Israel’s Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni met with Abbas last night in New York. In a statement, Livni said she urged Abbas to resume talks with the United States “on the basis of the principle of the two nation-states.” [Pic]

The World Jewish Congress will join UNESCO for a special discussion on the power of education in preventing racism and discrimination, with a particular focus on anti-Semitism at the UN headquarters. Speakers include UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, WJC President Ron Lauder, and Professor Deborah Lipstadt, among others.

ON THE HILL — Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to President Trump urging him to publicly press Iran to return Robert Levinson.

Former Ambassador Dan Shapiro writes… “How to make Russia back off in the Middle East: A solidarity visit to Israel by a senior US defense official is in order. The United States should encourage a chorus of other countries to join in condemning Iranian military adventures in Syria. This week’s UN Security Council session that Trump will chair presents an excellent opportunity.” [NYPost

HEARD YESTERDAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) annual summit in New York City: “This [Iranian] regime – this regime led by Rouhani and Zarif – provides over $100 million each year to terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The most hypocritical part about this is that the Ayatollah claims he cares about Palestinians. But from 2008 to 2017, Iran gave a total of $20,000 to the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees. Meanwhile, the United States gave nearly $3 billion over the same period, 150,000 [times] more money to support the Palestinians than the terror regime in Iran.”[Video]

National Security Advisor John Bolton: “I might imagine [Iran] would take me seriously when I assure them today: If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay… The United States is not naive. We will not be duped, cheated or intimidated. The days of impunity for Tehran and its enablers are over.” [Video] • John Bolton Warns of ‘Terrible Consequences’ for Those Doing Business with Iran [NYTimes]

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, UAE ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba and State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook discussed the Iranian threat in a panel discussion. Israeli Mossad Director Yossi Cohen’s remarks at a later panel were off-the-record. [Newsweek]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: For Nikki Haley, a lower profile as Trump heads back to the U.N. — by Anne Gearan and John Hudson: “A pair of incidents in which Haley announced policies or plans that were quickly changed also raised questions about her footing in the administration as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton took over from more passive and ideologically moderate aides… At the same time, Haley’s influence at the United Nations has been blunted by Trump policy decisions that many other nations opposed, including recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, cutting aid to Palestinians and announcing a U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council.”

“Haley’s unapologetic defense of Israel cemented her support among a pro-Israel donor class that could prove useful if she pursues higher political office. “She scored points with the people she wanted to score points with, especially the AIPAC crowd,” [a] former official said… Though Haley could walk away from the Trump administration at any time claiming experience with some of the weightiest foreign policy issues of the day, she appears less prone to an early exit than others, said a senior administration official… “I do get the rumors of who’s on the up and who’s on the down, and Nikki’s name just hasn’t come up lately,” the official said.” [WashPost]

HEARD THIS MORNING — Haley on Fox & Friends: “I have not thought once about running for president. You know, these things when people talk about 2020. I would never run against the President. I would campaign for the President. I mean, without questions, he’s done such a great job. And so, I am good about not thinking about the future.”

DONOR CIRCUIT — Kushner’s mission improbable: Winning over wealthy Trump skeptics — by Alex Isenstadt: “The 37-year-old Trump senior adviser has attended at least four donor gatherings since August, and those close to [Jared Kushner] say he may soon appear at more. He has been in regular contact with Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson… The two spoke last week… Dan Senor, a former George W. Bush administration official and confidante of Singer and House Speaker Paul Ryan, has helped Kushner navigate some of his outreach.”

“After Labor Day, Kushner attended a dinner at New York City’s Pierre Hotel that drew an elite crowd of donors, think tank leaders, and foreign policy elders from both parties… With Paul Singer at one side of a long table and Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban at the other, Kushner… engaged in a free-flowing conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process… In an interview, Saban said he and Kushner speak several times a month… “He clearly has the president’s ear. He clearly, when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship, is familiar with the issues and has access at the highest level,” said Saban, who added that he remains a Democrat.” [Politico]

Sheldon Adelson Sees a Lot to Like in Trump’s Washington — by Jeremy Peters: “Mr. Adelson in particular enjoys a direct line to the president. In private in-person meetings and phone conversations, which occur between the two men about once a month, he has used his access to push the president to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and, more recently, cut aid to the Palestinians… Republican control of the House and the Senate is so vital to maintaining these policies, the Adelsons believe, that they have given $55 million in the last few months to groups dedicated to making sure it stays that way. That makes them… the biggest spenders on federal elections in all of American politics.”

— Ari Fleischer talks matzo during Sukkot (15/15): “I think there are a lot of leaders in the establishment Jewish community for whom Donald Trump is not the kind of guy they’d want to break matzo with, but they sure like his policies and what he’s doing.” [NYTimes]

Aaron David Miller writes… “Jared Kushner’s Jewishness Won’t Doom His Peace Plan. This Will: The problem with Trump’s Middle East team is not that it’s made up of “a bunch of Orthodox Jews” as Haim Saban put it… Trump’s team, helmed by Kushner, Greenblatt and David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer, are pursuing an approach that hews far more closely to a Netanyahu narrative… right now, it seems as though the Trump Administration, both in their approach toward Israel and their pressure campaign against the Palestinians, are doing a lot of lawyering for the Israelis — instead of for a deal that both can accept.” [Forward]

MIDTERMS — Why Cory (Not-Running-for-Anything) Booker Is Stumping Nonstop in New Jersey — by Nick Corasaniti: “With his home state suddenly a key battleground in the midterms — with four of the five Republican-held seats considered vulnerable and an unexpectedly tough battle to salvage the Democratic seat of his friend and mentor Senator Robert Menendez — Mr. Booker was blitzing more familiar terrain on a late September weekend, as the not-running-for-anything-right-now senator continued his relentless presence on the campaign trail… Mr. Booker’s growing national presence brought the obvious question: “Is there any chance that you would run for president?” said Ruthanne Swartz, 73, as she pushed her cart through a parking lot after Mr. Booker’s rally with [Tom] Malinowski. The senator paused, turned to the woman and smiled. “I’m honored, but I’m focused on the midterms first,” he said.” [NYTimes]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Safra Catz’s Oracle Acquires Tel Aviv-Based User Training Startup Iridize [Calcalist] • Janice Min is joining Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video startup NewTV [Deadline] • When Mark Zuckerberg Asserted Control, Instagram’s Founders Chafed [NYT] • Michael Dell’s MSD Capital buying 1 Hotel South Beach for more than $500M[TheRealDealCommercialObserver] • Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry invests $250K in Milwaukee corporate rental startup [Bizjournals] • Israel’s tech scene is red-hot, but there are few Arab-led startups — Itzik Frid, a top venture capitalist, thinks he knows why [BusinessInsider]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Ohio’s Schottensteins fund Green Growth Brands pot operations — by Craig Giammona: “A cannabis company backed by the retail fortune of Ohio’s Schottenstein family has raised about $65 million as it prepares to be publicly traded in Canada. Green Growth Brands, which is run by former Victoria’s Secret and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. executive Peter Horvath, has purchased an existing marijuana operation in the Las Vegas area and is looking to get licenses to operate in Massachusetts, Florida and New Jersey.” [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION — Chicago company to buy on-campus food ordering service Tapingo for $150M — by Ally Marotti: “Tapingo’s technology enables users to order ahead at on-campus cafes, restaurants and other stores. It can be integrated with college meal plans. Tapingo has about 90 employees and is co-headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, and San Francisco… Once the deal closes, the company will have clearer plans on whether any Tapingo employees will come to Chicago, Grubhub spokeswoman Katie Norris said. Having a presence in Israel will open Grubhub up to the tech talent in the region.” [ChicagoTribune]

Has Anyone Seen Roman Abramovich? The Last Days of Londongrad — by Stephanie Baker, David Hellier and Irina Reznik: “Arguably the most secretive Russian billionaire, Abramovich hasn’t given an interview in more than a decade. “To be exact, it’s been 12.5 years!” his spokesman, John Mann, wrote in an email. Having bought homes in Aspen, Colo., the south of France, Moscow, New York, St. Barts, and Tel Aviv, Abramovich is almost constantly on one of his jets. Nonetheless, he’s the very avatar of Londongrad, the nickname given to the British capital because of the high number of wealthy Russians there… A major donor to Jewish causes in Russia and a funder of more than a dozen Israeli tech startups and venture capital companies, Abramovich left two days later with an Israeli passport in hand, allowing him to travel to the U.K. for up to six months visa-free. (It’s unclear when he applied for citizenship.)” [Bloomberg]

Florida man register to lobby for Israel, Haiti — by Theodoric Meyer and Marianne LeVine: “Josue Larose, a Florida lobbyist notorious for registering hundreds of inactive PACs and super PACs over the years, has registered to lobby for the Israeli and Haitian governments through his company, the American Federal Lobbying Firm. In an unusual move, Larose registered with Congress under domestic lobbying rules, even though the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires lobbyists for foreign governments to register with the Justice Department instead… Both registrations state that Larose will lobby the White House, Congress and various agencies to secure more than $900 million in aid for each country.” [PoliticoInfluence]

Israel opens high-speed rail link between Tel Aviv airport and Jerusalem — by Ori Lewis: “Israel opened a high-speed rail link between Tel Aviv’s international airport and Jerusalem on Tuesday, part of a $2 billion project that has drawn Palestinian complaints over its route through small parts of the occupied West Bank. The train will cut travel time between Ben-Gurion Airport and a new, 80-metre-(260-foot)-deep underground terminal at the entrance to Jerusalem to around 20 minutes.” [Reuters]

HOLLYWOOD — How Hollywood Redeemed Mel Gibson — by David Sims: “When rehabilitating one’s reputation and celebrity, a huge factor is, of course, time. The shocking revelations of Gibson’s behavior are currently several years old. Gibson himself appears to understand the effectiveness of framing his actions as part of the distant past, thus downplaying their continued relevance.” [TheAtlantic]

ACROSS THE POND — Corbyn says UK will immediately recognize Palestinian state if he’s elected: “The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said Wednesday that he would immediately recognize a Palestinian state if elected to lead the country… “And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognize a Palestinian state as soon as we take office,” Corbyn announced, receiving the most prolonged standing ovation in the speech.” [ToI]

Jewish event at Labour conference abandoned after bomb scare — by Kevin Rawlinson: “The building hosting the event in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter was evacuated after a phone call from a man specifically mentioning Jews and saying that two devices would cause mass casualties.”[TheGuardian]

TRANSITION ― Erika Naegeli has been promoted as the media relations associate at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, replacing Ian Byrne, who will attend Johns Hopkins SAIS and study international economics and strategic studies, the first year in Bologna, Italy. Naegeli was previously a research assistant with the Iran Security Initiative at The Washington Institute.

Isaac Dovere, currently chief Washington correspondent at Politico and host of the “Off Message” podcast, is joining The Atlantic. h/t Playbook

DESSERT — The Jewish deli is having a moment in places where you’d least expect it — by Michael Kaminer: “Memories drove Jerrod Rosen, 37, to open Rye Society, the compact deli he debuted in July in Denver’s buzzing River North Art District. “My mom had four sisters, and my dad had three. There were lots of Jewish holidays with lots of food,” said Rosen… “I wanted to open a place with soul that would pick up those traditions. Denver didn’t have one.” … Beneath giant portraits of Larry David, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman — “a Jewish hall of fame,” he said with a laugh — Rosen serves macrobiotic plates, kale salads and a “grown-up grilled cheese” called the Gentile alongside family-recipe matzoh ball soup and his Aunt Cindy’s rugelach.” [WashPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Vice Chairman and a Director of Capital International, Inc. and long-time Board Chair of the Hudson Institute, Walter Phillips Stern turns 90… Stage, film and television actor, he is best known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” appearing in Dos Equis beer commercials (2006-2016), Jonathan Goldsmith turns 80… Edward Karesky turns 71… CEO of Israel Longhorn Project, dedicated to bringing Texas Longhorn Cattle home to Israel, Robin Rosenblatt turns 70… Five Towns (NY) resident, Barry Mandelturns 70… Former chairman and CEO of the French engineering conglomerate Alstom, he is on the board of Sanofi, a global heathcare company and is the son of Holocaust survivors, Patrick Kron turns 65… Senior political adviser to President Bill Clinton during his second term and co-author of a New York Times best-seller on the future of politics in the United States, Doug Sosnikturns 62…

Teaneck-resident with a Jersey City dental practice, Paul Lustiger, DDS turns 62… Historian, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Kagan turns 60… Chief of Staff to Ohio Senator Rob Portman, following a long career as a DC lobbyist, Mark Isakowitz turns 52… Head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets men’s basketball team, he was the 2017 ACC Coach of the Year, Josh Pastner turns 41… Former Communications Director for NY Governor Paterson, Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Jane Harman, she now heads a NYC based PR firm, Risa Beth Heller tuns 39… NYC-based senior editor of global digital video programming at Bloomberg LP, Henry Seltzer turns 33…




Daily Kickoff: Bradley Tusk dishes on Schumer’s craving for press and Bloomberg’s campaigns | Putting the Talmud online | Gordon Ramsay in Jerusalem

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TALK OF OUR NATION — The quest to put the Talmud online — by Noah Smith: “When Joshua Foer, author of “Moonwalking With Einstein” and creator of the travel website Atlas Obscura, sat down one day to find a modern, complete English translation online of the Talmud, or Jewish Oral Law, he came up mostly empty, save for some pirated PDFs and a host of anti-Semitic sites. Frustrated, he called a friend he had met a decade earlier on a trip to Israel, Brett Lockspeiser, an engineer who had worked at Google, to see what he thought about putting English translations of the Talmud and other foundational texts of Judaism in one place online that anyone could access free.”

“I saw a really historic opportunity to do something huge,” Foer said in a phone interview… Last year, after years of work and negotiations, Foer and Lockspeiser finally succeeded in their quest. Through a nonprofit they created called Sefaria, the men are bringing the Talmud online in modern English, and free of charge.” [WashPost]

HOLIDAY HEADLINE — Canadian who moved to Israel invents ‘Airbnb for sukkahs’ [CJNews]

Jewish-American Journalist Thomas Friedman — There’s a Crisis Between U.S. Jewry and Israel: “Giving an example for the widening fissure he sees between Israel and the world’s second largest Jewish community, Friedman told [Makor Rishon] how his shul unanimously decided to stop its annual fundraising for Israel Bonds after the controversy surrounding the egalitarian prayer space in the Western Wall, which was meant to allow Jews from different streams of Judaism to pray in a mixed environment… “This wasn’t the rabbi’s decision, but ours,” Friedman said. “There was no resistance against it in the [shul] management.”

“Friedman said he supported the move because “If Israel doesn’t respect what we do in the diaspora, and our way of life, why should we raise money for it?” claiming that similar decisions were made in many other shuls across the U.S. “We weren’t the first and were very much not alone in that situation,” he said. Friedman insists, however, that he is not boycotting Israel, and noted he and his wife donated a scholarship to three Jewish Stanford students so they could visit it.” [Haaretz

ON SHELVES TODAY — Strategist and venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, who worked for Chuck Schumer, Michael Bloomberg, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, among others, is out with a new book titled The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics.

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Tusk reviewed his book on the Charlie Brennan show on KMOX ― On what led him to testify against his former boss Rod Blagojevich: “Blagojevich once asked me to extort Rahm Emanuel. who now is the mayor of Chicago, and Rahm’s brother, Ari Emanuel, who’s one of the biggest Hollywood legends out there, because Rod had promised Rahm $2 million for an athletic facility in Rahm’s district. Rahm was a congressman from Chicago at the time, and then said, ‘I’m not giving him this money until Rahm’s brother Ari holds the fundraiser for me.’ Obviously, you can’t connect a government grant with a personal political fundraiser. Rahm had called me to ask kind of what the holdup was. I asked Rod. Rod said, ‘Tell him I want my fundraiser,’ and luckily I realized I can’t do that. And so instead, I put a stop to it and reported it, and then had to testify to it in both corruption trials. But, clearly it was the right thing to do, otherwise, I’d be sitting with him in jail right now.”

Tusk on managing Bloomberg’s 2009 reelection campaign: “Anthony Weiner was actually our biggest competition in 2009 for mayor. This is before his scandals, so he could have won. I talk in the book about how we really had to just viciously knock him out of the race, and do all kinds of things. Like, for example, he used to play hockey every Tuesday night in Manhattan, and we knew eventually he’d be in goal one night when his peers were in Washington voting on something. So we hid a photographer in the stands every Tuesday night. And then finally one night, some vote came up in the House, people were voting, Anthony was busy playing hockey. We took a picture, gave it to The New York Post. Front page next day: ‘Puck Off.’ A lot of those things persuaded Anthony not to run against Mike.”

“And then this other piece in the book around 2016 and we really put together a campaign for Mike to run for President as an independent. He ultimately chose not to, and the book really gets into sort of how and why. Probably a mistake in retrospect, but to have a guy who has the kind of resources and credibility to at least seriously consider it and make it credible was a lot of fun. Sadly, he didn’t go for it, but people are now talking about 2020.”

On Schumer vs. Hillary: “Chuck Schumer’s known as the most media-hungry politician in America. And Chuck is one of these guys, if he was a running back, it’d be three yards and a cloud of dust, right? And, really kind of clawed his way from State Assembly of New York, to Congress, to the House of Representatives, to the Senate. And finally, he was in a place, as a senior senator from New York, where he could get as much attention as he wanted, which all works until the junior senator is also the most famous woman in the world. Hillary, of course, didn’t pay any of those dues. She just went from the White House, bought a house in New York, ran for Senate and won. We would have to do 50 press conferences to get as much attention as she would get by just taking the wrong elevator in the Senate building. And it drove [Schumer] crazy. A lot of my job became finding ways to screw with her, and really make her entry into the Senate difficult. And even though that had nothing to do with serving the people of New York and it had nothing to do with Chuck’s duties as Senator, he just was so jealous of her he couldn’t help it.” [KMOX]

Tusk on a possible Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on Axios’ Pro Rata podcast with Dan Primack: “I think the only real distinction between what you saw in 2016 and what you’re hearing now is the realization that the country at the moment is so partisan that, whereas an independent run in 2016 might have been feasible, it would be really tough in 2020. And I think that’s what he’s really been saying. Whether or not he chooses to run is still a totally open question.” [Axios

DRIVING THE WEEK — Trump to shift focus on weapons of mass destruction amid rift with allies over the Iran nuclear deal — by Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris: “The White House backed off a plan to devote the Security Council session to Iran, responding to protests from European officials, who feared that it would showcase divisions over the nuclear deal, which they continue to honor. Mr. Trump’s aides also worried that it could backfire on him by giving Iran’s leaders a platform to confront him. Now the meeting will be devoted to countering weapons of mass destruction.”

“Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, plans to attend the General Assembly, but Mr. Trump is not actively seeking a meeting with him, according to a senior administration official. That does not rule out the possibility that the two men could run into each other.”

“While the Europeans are relieved that Mr. Trump tweaked the agenda of the Security Council session to take the spotlight off Iran, they scheduled their own meeting for Monday during which foreign ministers from the other signatories to the deal — Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China and Iran — will pledge their fealty to it.” [NYTimes]

On Wednesday, Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, among other world leaders, the White House announced yesterday.

HEARD YESTERDAY — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in a press briefing: “What I can tell you is that this is the week we all wait for, where we can all put U.S. interests in the spotlight, make it a really big prominent thing with all the administration coming in. They are going to come and do their thing and we’re all going try to see if we can get some good peace and security agreements passed.” [Video]

“Haley said a large team of American officials, including Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top advisers, would roam the U.N. to tackle a host of issues, from non-proliferation to counter-narcotics and migration issues. [WSJ]

HAPPENING ON TUESDAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, and Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook are among featured speakers at the United Against Nuclear Iran annual summit held at the Westin Grand Central in Manhattan.

REPORT — IDF chief warns US steps could harm Israel, inflame West Bank: “IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot warned the Security-Cabinet at the beginning of the week that there is a more than moderate chance that a violent conflagration could erupt in the West Bank, adding that the US decision to choke the Palestinian Authority (PA) of financial funds is counterproductive for Israel and could inflame matters in the area…” [Ynet] • Avigdor Lieberman angered by leak of West Bank security warning [NG]

Netanyahu support for Trump on UNRWA exposes political-military divide — by Joshua Mitnick: “Every single Israeli government has permitted UNRWA to operate. When it is so enmeshed in Palestinian society, ordering an abrupt aid cut can lead to catastrophic consequences for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” says Peter Lerner, a reserve Israeli military spokesman who also was the spokesman for the army agency that liaises with UNRWA. “The instability risked by the UNRWA cut could require the IDF to mobilize more forces in the West Bank and create more friction with the civilian population,” Mr. Lerner says. “The military will have to deal with counter-terrorism, and it will divert focus from Israel’s biggest threats: Iran and Hezbollah.” [CSMonitor]

WAR OF WORDS — Hezbollah leader and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged harsh rhetoric over a possible conflict yesterday. In a speech, Hassan Nasrallah claimed Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring precise missiles have been proven ineffective. “I tell Israel no matter what it did to cut the route, it is over. It has already been achieved,” he said, adding that Hezbollah “now possesses precision missiles and non-precision and weapons capabilities.”

Netanyahu responded in kind later in the day: “I heard Hezbollah’s bravado. It came from the same person who said after 2006 [Second Lebanon War] that if he knew what Israel’s response would be to the kidnapping of our three soldiers, he would have thought to consider twice whether to do it. So today I suggest that he think not twice but twenty times because if he confronts us he will get a crushing blow that he cannot even imagine.”

MIDTERMS — GOP congressman jokes about Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped, by Abraham Lincoln — by Reis Thebault: “In his opening statements at an election debate Thursday, a South Carolina congressman kicked things off with a joke. “Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news on the Kavanaugh hearings?” Rep. Ralph Norman (R) asked the audience at a Kiwanis club in his district. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out saying she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.” The opening remark prompted scattered laughter inside the room, but Democratic observers — in South Carolina and elsewhere — didn’t find it funny.” [WashPost

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who recently came under firefor attending a fundraiser with an alleged Holocaust denier in July, this week endorsed an alt-right activist criticized for anti-Semitism, Mother Jones reported. Gracey Larrea-Van Der Mark, a candidate for a school board seat in Huntington Beach, California, attended an alt-right protest in 2017 against a meeting that she described as being run by “elderly Jewish people.” One of her YouTube channel playlists dubbed “Holocaust hoax?” includes half-a-dozen anti-Semitic videos.

— Rohrabacher’s Democratic challenger, Harley Rouda, in a statement: “Dana’s embrace of a school board candidate who professes bigoted ideas, who associates with white supremacists and anti-Semites, means Dana is embracing hate.”

DONOR CIRCUIT — Bill Maher gives $2 million to House and Senate Democratic super PACs — by Maggie Severns: “Comedian Bill Maher was among several wealthy backers of Democratic causes in August, donating $2 million to super PACs affiliated with House and Senate Democrats… Newsweb Corporation Chairman Fred Eychaner donated a total of $8 million to House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC, making him the biggest single donor to the groups in August. Billionaire financier George Soros donated a combined $2.8 million, and real estate broker George Marcus donated $2 million. Seth Klarman… also donated a combined $2 million to House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC in August. Maher also has some company from the Hollywood set: Director Steven Spielberg also donated a total of $400,000 to the groups.” [Politico]

Batya Ungar-Sargon writes… “How Trump Turned American Jews — And Their Money — Away From Israel: Of course, leaving the Republican Party is hardly leaving Israel. But it does mean that these billionaires will not be putting their money in what many view as the most pro-Israel administration the U.S. has seen in generations… And in an age when Senator Bernie Sanders is taking Israel to task over Gaza, presumptive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez won’t commit to a two-state solution, and newly elected congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is pushing for withdrawing aid, the Democratic party is increasingly willing to criticize the Israel government and hold it to account. It’s this party that American Jewish billionaires are flocking to and bringing their money — thanks to Trump.” [Forward]

Rashida Tlaib Isn’t Waiting Until She Gets to Congress to Help Other Women — by Celeste Katz: “First thing I did was—I wanted to go uplift other women, and I went to go help Ilhan,” Tlaib says of Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat whose Congressional primary win, which came a week after Tlaib’s, gives her a chance to be the first Somali American Muslim woman in the House. Of course, using her newfound star power to illuminate the campaigns of others isn’t just about shared religious faith for Tlaib, who grew up in Detroit as the eldest of 14—yes, 14—kids born to Palestinian immigrant parents. It’s about class. It’s about community.” [Glamour]

— Ilhan Omar, running to for Keith Ellison’s seat in Minnesota, was asked on The Intercept’s Deconstructed podcast whether on issues of foreign policy, on issues of war and peace, on issues of Middle East, Israel, “do you think you’re going to be forced to kind of moderate your lines and take a quieter…? Omar replied: “No, I am very clear about where my values are when it comes to the Middle East, when it comes to war, when it comes to, you know, the kind of foreign policy we should be engaging in.” [TheIntercept]

After Cynthia Nixon’s Loss, Working Families Party Ponders Its Next Step — by Jimmy Vielkind: “Rebecca Katz, an adviser to [Cynthia] Nixon, said the actor remained concerned about a mail advertisement sent by the New York State Democratic Committee that accused Ms. Nixon of being “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.” “Before the Democrats can truly be united, Governor Cuomo has to take responsibility for the mailer, say the accusations it contained were 100% false and apologize to Cynthia,” Ms. Katz said.” [WSJ]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Stephen Miller wins again: Haley, other foes excluded from immigration meeting — by Dan De Luce and Julia Ainsley: “Over the past several months, former officials and humanitarian organizations say, Miller restricted who would take part in the deliberations, while ensuring like-minded associates were in key positions at the State Department. Unlike last year’s deliberations on refugees, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and her office were excluded from the inter-agency discussions on the issue and did not attend last Friday’s meeting where the cap was set, even though her staff argued she should be included, current and former officials said.” [NBCNews]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Hackers Went after Disgraced GOP Fundraiser. Now He Is After Them — by David Kirkpatrick: “[Elliott] Broidy… is not going quietly. His lawyers said this week that, after more than 80 subpoenas and months of cyber-forensic analysis, they had managed to identify as many as 1,200 other individuals targeted by the same cyber criminals. The list of names the lawyers have compiled, they argue, will bolster Mr. Broidy’s case that the rulers of Qatar… had targeted him for his advocacy against them.” [NYTimes

MUELLER WATCH — Michael Cohen spoke to Mueller team for hours; asked about Russia, possible collusion, pardon — by George Stephanopoulos, Eliana Larramendia and James Hill: “Michael Cohen has participated over the last month in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours with investigators from the office of special counsel, Robert Mueller… The special counsel’s questioning of Cohen… has focused primarily on all aspects of Trump’s dealings with Russia… Investigators were also interested in knowing, the sources say, whether Trump or any of his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen.” [ABCNews

** 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 **

STARTUP — Sneaker “stock market” co-founded by Dan Gilbert rockets to success — by Adam Finkel: “The roots of StockX began when Dan Gilbert, observant of his son’s interests, had the inkling of an idea to create a sneaker stock market. Gilbert asked serial entrepreneur Greg Schwartz of Bloomfield Hills to take the lead on this effort… Shortly after Gilbert brought Schwartz into the idea, they realized they needed more than just business, e-commerce and technology expertise. They needed an expert in the sneaker culture and they found that in Josh Luber, 40, who became a co-founder of the business and its CEO.” [TheJewishNews]

SPOTLIGHT — How An App Funded By Sheldon Adelson Is Covertly Influencing The Online Conversation About Israel — by Ishmael N. Daro: “The app was developed by the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, the Israeli university that hosted the “war room” in 2014, as well as by two American non-profits, the Israeli-American Council and the Maccabee Task Force. All three are supported financially by Sheldon Adelson… Act.IL has been promoted by the Israeli government, including on a website run by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs… The founder and CEO of Act.IL, Yarden Ben Yosef, is a former army intelligence officer who told the Forward last year that he is in regular contact with the country’s military and security establishment over the app’s content, and that Act.IL is largely staffed by former intelligence officers. Despite these links, however, both Act.IL and the Israeli government deny any formal relationship.” [BuzzFeed]

SPOTTED IN JERUSALEM — Celebrity chef and TV star Gordon Ramsay was spotted touring the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday. “First time in Jerusalem, and this place is crazy – crazy!” Ramsay said in his Instagram story. According to Ynet, Ramsay is in Jerusalem filming a campaign for the NICE software company which is headquartered in Ra’anana. [JPostVideo]

SPORTS BLINK — Israeli NASCAR driver hopes to show his country in a new light — by Joe Marusak: “Israeli NASCAR driver Alon Day hopes TV viewers get a new impression of his country when they tune in to Saturday’s Cup series race at Richmond Raceway. The 26-year-old Day will make his 2018 Cup series debut driving the BK Racing No. 23 Best Bully Sticks Toyota Camry in the Federated Auto Parts 400. He is the first NASCAR driver from Israel to compete in the Cup series, according to a news release from his sponsor.”[CharlotteObserver]

HEADLINE — Neighbors broke agreement, continued construction on Jewish holidays — by Priscilla DeGregory: “An Upper East Side man is suing his neighbors for not stopping construction during the Jewish holidays. Jacques Blinbaum claims in his Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit that he signed a contract in January with his neighbors — Hong Kong fashion exec Alfred K. T. Chan and Chan’s wife, Fiona Cibani — allowing them access to his property… As part of the agreement, the couple agreed to halt construction during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the suit says. But work continued on Sept. 10 and 11…” [NYPost]

REMEMBERING — Alan Abel, professional hoaxer and ‘20th-century court jester,’ dies at 94 — by Harrison Smith: “Mr. Abel, 94, died Sept. 14 at his home in Southbury, Conn. — nearly 40 years after he managed to fake his own death and get it printed in the New York Times… He worked as a concert drummer and percussionist before becoming a full-time hoax artist… Among his earliest hoaxes was a political campaign for one “Yetta Bronstein,” a fictitious Jewish homemaker from the Bronx who sought the presidency in 1964 and 1968. With the slogans “Put a mother in the White House” and “Vote for Yetta and things will get betta,” Bronstein — voiced by Mr. Abel’s wife and frequent collaborator, Jeanne Abel — ran on a platform that included replacing congressmen’s salaries with commissions and putting truth serum into the Senate water fountain.” [WashPost]

DESSERT — A Guide to the Sleeper Hits of the Jewish Deli — by Rachel Myerson: “So here’s a fun confession: my favorite Thursday night activity is to get high, dress up in my most modest ensemble, and gorge myself on cheap, stodgy Jewish food in Hasidic neighborhoods after dark. For those seeking a similar dose of sentimental nosh—or simply seeking nourishing, unpretentious eats, allow me to introduce you to the true stand-outs of the Ashkenazi kitchen that your deli probably doesn’t deliver — Cholent, Vorschmak, Holishkes, Potato Kugel and Yaptzik, P’tcha.” [Munchies]

A store that’s a Charlotte tradition is moving, and making other big changes too — by Kathleen Purvis: “Gleiberman’s Kosher Mart, a Charlotte institution for kosher meat and products, is moving to a new location with some more changes… Kosher Mart started on Independence Boulevard in 1990, the only full-service kosher market in the Carolinas.” [CharlotteObserver]

New deli Kosher Palate brings barbecue, sandwiches and more to Far North Dallas: “Looking for a place to score kosher barbecue and sandwiches? This new Dallas deli has you covered. Called Kosher Palate, the newcomer is located in Far North Dallas.” [Hoodline]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: One of the highest grossing Hollywood box office producers of all time, plus the producer of many commercially successful TV shows, Jerry Bruckheimer turns 75… Legal scholar whose White House position followed his 27 years at University of Chicago Law School and preceded his current post as professor at Harvard Law School, Cass Sunstein turns 64… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party since 2003, Yisrael Katz turns 63… One-half the renowned film-making team of the Coen Brothers, Ethan Jesse Coen turns 61… Attorney, author, conservative talk show host and president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, Mark R. Levin turns 61… Russian oligarch Leonid Nevzlin turns 59… Emmy Award-winning talk show host, actress and producer, Ricki Lake turns 50… Editor of Kveller, she was previously the managing editor of the Real Deal’s Luxury Listings magazine, Lisa Keys turns 42… Assistant Director at TAMID Group (organizes internships in Israel for American business students), Nathan Gilson turns 28… SVP at polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Anna Greenberg Ph.D… Mia Appelbaum… iCenter’s Scott Frankel

SATURDAY: Former Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, David Stern turns 76… Brooklyn-resident, Jay Kanter turns 73… President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles (1992-2009), now a consultant at the LA-based Glazer Foundation, John Fishel turns 70… Nobel Prize laureate, astrophysicist and professor of physics at UC-Berkeley, Saul Perlmutter turns 59… Member of Knesset since 2003, has held multiple Israeli cabinet portfolios, and, until 2017, he was the chairman of the Labor party, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog turns 58… Director of development at the Los Angeles Conservancy, Elizabeth “Liz” Leshin turns 58… Managing director of Calico Real Estate and president of Community Veterinary Partners, both based in Philadelphia, he is a past trustee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Daniel Eisenstadt turns 49… Writer-at-large for The New York Times focused on the personalities in business, politics and media, she is the author of “Chasing Hillary,” Amy Chozick turns 40… Deputy editor of Tablet magazine and host of “Unorthodox,” its weekly podcast, Stephanie Taylor Butnick turns 31… Former Senior Writer at the Jewish Journal and Jewish Insider, now manager of scripted video content at Forward Publishing, Jared Sichel turns 29…

SUNDAY: President of Chanel, the French fashion house (1986-2004), he continues to be Chanel’s Vice Chairman of the Board, Arie L. Kopelmanturns 80… Business Manager for Los Angeles Cardiovascular Medical Group, Angela Maddahi turns 58… Vice chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, she is a Birmingham, Alabama resident, Sheryl W. Kimerling turns 57… Co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, Todd Ricketts turns 49… Former US Ambassador to the EU following a Supreme Court clerkship and a White House career, now a managing director at the Institute of International Finance, Kristen Silverberg turns 48… President of Santa Monica-based PR firm, Tower26, she was the director of communications for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti (2015-2017), Naomi Seligmanturns 46… Washington bureau reporter for The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt turns 35… Saber fencing champion, he represented the US at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Eli Dershwitz turns 23… Israeli ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled

Kafe Knesset for October 19

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mr. Liberman Goes to Washington: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman departed last night on a four-day visit to Washington, DC and New York City. This is the second time…

Kafe Knesset for October 18

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hamas not welcome: Last night the Security Cabinet concluded a two-day session debating the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. A joint statement was issued describing Israel’s new “red…

Kafe Knesset for October 17

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

To evacuate or not to evacuate? New Labor chair Avi Gabbay has been making headlines for a few days now with a series of statements signaling an apparent…

Kafe Knesset for October 16

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bibi versus the Police: With the continued corruption investigations against Netanyahu, the Prime Minister has taken his responses up a notch. Now he is not only blaming the…

Kafe Knesset for October 9

Monday, October 9, 2017

Family man: Israelis are very familiar with Bibi’s family story. They are especially familiar with his legendary brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed leading the Entebbe raid in…

Kafe Knesset for October 4

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Liberman “believes” Trump: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman gave a lengthy pre-Sukkot interview to Walla. After declaring Syrian President Assad’s victory, he also had some interesting answers to share…