Sep
14

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Daily Kickoff: Trump to dial Rabbis after all | Ivanka on her White House role | Daimler invests $60M in Israeli startup StoreDot | Larry Mizel BDay

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DRIVING THE CONVO — President Trump will hold a pre-High Holidays conference call on Friday with Synagogue Rabbis despite a boycott from rabbis who belong to the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements, Maggie Haberman reported. Trump “will send well wishes for the upcoming holidays and discuss his administration’s progress on issues of interest to the Jewish community,” the email invite reads. Rabbi Marvin Hier, Trump’s inauguration rabbi who criticized the President over his response to the Charlottesville protests, confirmed to Jewish Insider that he was invited to participate on the call.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism, tells us he did not receive an invite, “but if I were, I would dial in, out of respect for the President of the US.”

Graham Roth, Communications Director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, emails… “Our position has not changed. Reform rabbis, along with Reconstructionist and Conservative rabbis, decided to forgo hosting the annual High Holiday call with the President this year. This was not a decision made lightly, but the President’s lack of moral leadership in the wake of Charlottesville made it necessary.”

“Rabbis To Tiptoe Around Trump” by Stewart Ain: “Rabbi Arthur Schneier at Park East Synagogue in Manhattan said he opted not to speak about the political divisions in the country because “we have overriding issues that are life threatening — earthquakes and wildfires and a potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea… Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan — the only one of a dozen rabbis interviewed… who said he would be taking on the president directly.” [JewishWeek

FIRST LOOK: “Ivanka Trump: ‘I will not be distracted by the noise’” by Courtney Weaver in the Financial Times: “At sundown on August 12, about 24 hours after neo-Nazis marched in the streets of Charlottesville… Ivanka Trump was at President Donald Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, marking the end of the Jewish Sabbath. Back online after disconnecting their devices for Shabbat, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner finally saw footage of the subsequent violence and the growing uproar over the president’s tepid condemnation… Overnight, the first daughter plotted her move. In the early hours of Sunday morning, she spoke out against the hate groups in a tweet. Separately, she advised her father to take a firmer stance against the neo-Nazi groups – something he did the following day…”

“Ivanka and Kushner departed for Vermont for a short holiday… Within 24 hours, the president had reasserted in a press conference that “both sides” had been responsible for the violence… Kushner got on the phone and tried to mitigate the situation. Ivanka, meanwhile, attempted to do what she had come on vacation to do: tune out… A few days later, she saw a short documentary that Vice News had made… For Ivanka, the documentary made Charlottesville hit home in a way that other White House controversies had not. “Seeing those images and hearing [Ivanka’s] name invoked later on obviously made it very personal,” someone familiar with her thinking told me.” [FT]

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Kushner’s White House role ‘crushed’ efforts to woo investors for NYC tower” by Michael Kranish and Jonathan O’Connell: “They were crushed by this,” said Thomas Barrack, a friend of Trump and Kushner’s… Kushner’s move to the White House “just about completely chilled the market, and [potential investors] just said, ‘No way — can’t be associated with any appearances of conflict of interest,’ even though there was none.” Laurent Morali, who became president of Kushner Cos. last year, said in an interview that he is marketing a 60-year-old aluminum-clad building “that is not competitive” with more-modern properties….”

“In 2010, Barrack’s company acquired part of the distressed debt on 666 Fifth Avenue. He invested $45 million and eventually made a profit, he said… In 2011, Trump called Barrack to arrange a meeting for Kushner. As Barrack recalled it, “Donald called and said: ‘Look, I have no idea what’s going on. Jared has some deal you have an interest in.’ ” Kushner flew to California and told Barrack about his plan to salvage the project. He came alone, without lawyers, and Barrack was impressed… After 75 minutes, Barrack agreed to help, concluding that “it seems like it is in everyone’s interest to restructure this.” He said he called Trump and told him: “You should get down on your knees that your daughter found this kid. He is out of central casting. He was respectful, he was totally up to date on the facts and the numbers and had a very persuasive demeanor.”

“Barrack said that when Kushner went to the White House, his father, Charles — who had helped devise the redevelopment proposal — must have known that his efforts would be undermined… “This was [Charles’s] dream and his baby,” Barrack said. “When Jared decided to go to Washington, he probably had a heart attack.” As a result of the Kushner focus, Barrack said, investors have to ask themselves, “Are they willing to take the scrutiny of what comes along with” investing with Kushner Cos.?” [WashPost

TOP TALKER: “Rice told House investigators why she unmasked senior Trump officials” by Manu Raju: “Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year… Multiple sources have confirmed to CNN that [Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan] met at the time with [Mike] Flynn, [Jared] Kushner and [Steve] Bannon. The three-hour discussion focused on a range of issues, including Iran, Yemen and the Mideast peace process.” [CNN

BIBI’S US VISIT — Netanyahu sees window of opportunity on Iran deal — by Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash: “Israel’s opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal is nothing new, but analysts say Netanyahu likely sees a new window of opportunity to change it. Global concern over North Korea’s nuclear program is mounting, while Trump has repeatedly signaled a desire to kill the Iran deal… According to [a] Army Radio report, Netanyahu will also ask Trump to prevent Iran from conducting research in the nuclear field and developing advanced-stage centrifuges, with much higher power. In addition, the report said, Israel will demand that Iran cease developing long-range missiles and add a clause limiting Iran’s support of organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, that Israel and the United States consider terrorist groups.” [WashPost• Netanyahu maintains battle against Iran deal ahead of UN meeting [Al-Monitor

“Ahead of sanctions deadline, Obama officials urge Trump to uphold Iran deal” by Eric Cortellessa: “Either directly or indirectly, ripping up this deal by the United States is the worst thing we could do for American national security,” said Wendy Sherman, a former undersecretary of state who was the chief negotiator of the deal… “I think it will be very interesting to see what happens next week at the UN General Assembly, when everyone will be in the same place at the same time — and whether there’s further discussion in this regard about where the agreement is.” [ToI] • Michael Singh: Trump Can Make the Most of a Bad Iran Deal [NYTimes

“Trump’s case against the Iran nuclear deal has very little to do with nuclear weapons” by Zack Beauchamp: “Trump has vocally attacked the Iran deal, like he has many pieces of President Obama’s legacy, and hates being forced to publicly certify that it’s working. Adhering to the deal is humiliating and feels like a betrayal of his campaign promises. It’s very likely that he hates being put in a position where he is forced either to accept Obama’s deal or face the reality that destroying it would do more harm than good.” [Vox]

“Qatar diplomatic crisis engulfs a major US military base” by Jon Gambrell: “Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base, a crucial staging ground for U.S. operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, is one of several American military outposts across the Gulf that are intended to serve as a bulwark against Iran…”[AP] • ‘The severity of the dispute is unprecedented’: Qatar has spent $40 billion countering the Saudi-led blockade [BI]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Treasury Secretary Mnuchin requested government jet for European honeymoon” by Justin Fishel, Brian Ross and Jordyn Phelps: “Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested use of a government jet to take him and his wife on their honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy earlier this summer… The highly unusual ask for a U.S. Air Force jet, which according to an Air Force spokesman could cost roughly $25,000 per hour to operate, was put in writing by the secretary’s office but eventually deemed unnecessary after further consideration of by Treasury Department officials… A spokesman for the Treasury Department told ABC News that the secretary requested government travel for his honeymoon out of a concern for maintaining a secure method of communication.” [ABCNews]

ON THE HILL — Joe Lieberman on Bernie Sanders’ Single Payer Bill: ‘Wonder Drug Stuff’ Sold at ‘County Fairs’” by Gideon Resnick: “Whether you call it a public option or you call it Medicare for All, what the advocates are really talking about is a governmentally controlled health care system,” former senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said in a phone interview… “Why is it happening now? I guess it’s a response to the failure of the Republicans to repeal Obamacare… For Democrats to respond to the Republican failure on health care by sort of offering a kind of a panacea for all your ills, this is like the wonder drug stuff that people used to sell at county fairs in America. It won’t work and it will really hurt the country financially.” [DailyBeast]

TRUMP-SCHUMER: “Pelosi and Schumer Say They Have Deal With Trump to Replace DACA” by Maggie Haberman and Yamiche Alcindor: “A total of 11 people were seated at the table in the Blue Room of the White House on Wednesday night, with the first 30 minutes of the meeting focused on China trade issues, according to one person briefed on the dinner. The meal served was Chinese food, an intentional nod to China trade, on which Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer hold their closest views.” [NYTimes

“Trump’s Flirtation With Democrats Leaves Both Parties Uncomfortable” by Adrian Carrasquillo: “Sam Nunberg… said Trump’s deals with Democrats are only going to lead to “a bunch of crap that betrays the people that elected him. The president sooner or later is going to have to realize that Pelosi and Schumer will only work with him on one action item — impeaching his ass. When he starts to realize that, then maybe he’ll get smart on these deals,” Nunberg said.” [BuzzFeed

** 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: EBay partners with Alan Tisch’s fashion marketplace Spring in growing rivalry with Amazon, Wal-Mart [CNBC] • Adam Braun’s MissionU raises $8.5 million to give students a debt-free education [VB] • ‘It feels like the ocean is full of money,’ but it could evaporate, says global investor Barry Sternlicht [CNBC] • Israeli startup StoreDot raises $60 million from Daimler, others for electric car batteries that charge in 5 minutes[VentureBeatTC]

ISRAEL’S TOP 100 — according to TheMarker: “The ranking, complied from 35,000 online votes, comprises civil servants… elected officials, financial services, businesspeople (including Shahar Waiser the founder of Gett and Adam Neumann the founder of WeWork)… Mobileye’s Amnon Shashua is 13th. Prime Minister Netanyahu is ranked 1st. The editors also named four technology industry luminaries as Israel’s “Tech Ambassadors”, placing them jointly at number 21. The four are Start-Up Nation Central CEO Eugene Kandel, entrepreneur and DLD chairman Yossi Vardi, SOSA NYC general manager Guy Franklin, and collaboration network ICON founder Yasmin Lukatz.” [ToITheMarker]

STARTUP NATION: “Is Israeli tech behind iPhone X’s new facial recognition feature?” by Shoshanna Solomon: “Israel’s Channel 2 reported Wednesday that Israeli technology is partially behind the facial recognition technology of Apple Inc.’s new flagship device, the iPhone X. An Apple spokesman in Israel declined to comment on the Channel 2 report. But in February, the Calcalist financial website said the US giant had acquired Israel’s Realface, a cybertechnology startup whose facial recognition technology can be used to authenticate users, for several millions of dollars.” [ToI]

“How I ended up in an Apple Watch video that was played at the Apple Keynote” by Avi Lichtenstein: “In late July of this year I was contacted out of the blue by a casting agency. The casting agency told me told me that they really liked the blogpost I had written about the Apple Watch and wanted to potentially include me in a documentary they were shooting… After signing the NDA, they filled me in on the details about the project. All they could say at the time about my role in the video was that they would shoot me at a Shabbat dinner or a Bar Mitzvah… Initially they had me shooting on a Saturday, but when I explained that I was a Sabbath observer they were very accommodating and rearranged the schedule so I’d be able to shoot on Sunday instead.” [Medium]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Billionaire Diller’s Plan for Elaborate Pier in the Hudson is Dead” by Charles Bagli: “Barry Diller said Wednesday that he was pulling the plug on his family’s commitment to build and operate a $250 million performance center on an undulating pier 186 feet off the Hudson River shoreline… Some critics called the plan a monument to a billionaire’s ego, and it was quickly nicknamed “Diller Island.” Mr. Diller’s decision about the project, called Pier 55, came amid settlement discussions between the Hudson River Park Trust, which was overseeing the project, and the plan’s opponents, a small civic group backed by Douglas Durst of the New York real estate family.”[NYTimes]

Cuomo Compares Michael Bloomberg With FDR — by Jillian Jorgensen: “Governor Cuomo heaped praise on a New York City mayor Wednesday — going so far as comparing him to both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Cuomo’s own late father. But Hell hasn’t frozen over — he was talking about former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was the star of the show Wednesday as officials gathered for a highly choreographed ribbon-cutting to dedicate the campus of Cornell Tech…” [NYDailyNewsWSJ

MEDIA WATCH: “She bet on the future of print news and bought Alaska’s largest daily paper. Now she’s lost it in a bankruptcy fire sale” by Rick Anderson: “I don’t see an end to print,” said [Alice] Rogoff, a former publishing executive in Washington, D.C… “If I could see it, I’d be preparing for it. We’re not.” That was evident this week. The paper, founded in 1946, was on the verge of shutting down when a federal bankruptcy judge approved a deal in which a pioneering Alaska family purchased it for $1 million… Rogoff personally lost millions. She had taken out a $13 million personal bank loan to help purchase the paper from McClatchy Newspapers and still owes the bank $10 million, the records show. “ [LATimes]

“Larry King reveals lung cancer diagnosis” by Christine Burroni: “Larry King revealed on Wednesday that he was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer and had successful surgery this summer… “On July 17, I had the surgery here at Cedars,” King said. “They took it out. It was malignant. They were going to take it out if it was malignant or benign. They tested it. They said, ‘You are fine.’ It was stage 1.”” [PageSix]

TRAVEL: $180 from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv? WOW: “Starting this week, the Iceland-based economy airline will begin flying to Tel Aviv from the Los Angeles via Keflavik International Airport for as little at $179.99 one-way. The price, which is far lower than the standard coach fare, will be available for a limited time, and for a limited number of seats (50) per flight.  The airline flies out of LAX to Tel Aviv one or two times each week.” [JewishJournal] • Israel’s EL AL Airlines Partners With ViaSat For In-flight Wi-Fi For New Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft [SpaceWatchME]

SPORTS BLINK: “Giro d’Italia becomes first grand tour to go outside Europe with Israel set to host first three stages of 2017 race” by Tom Bassam: “The first stage is expected to depart from Jerusalem, with race organisers, RCS, to unveil the exact route of the three-day leg in Israel next week. Italian and Israeli ministers will make the announcement, along with retiring former winner Alberto Contador… More than 175 of the world’s best cyclists will arrive in Israel for the race, one cycling’s top three stage races along with the Tour and La Vuelta.” [DailyMail]

Israel says international marathon body playing politics: “The Israel Marathon Association said Thursday that the Association of International Marathons and Distances Races has displayed a “discriminatory nature” against the Bible Marathon that “will certainly result in great anger” among runners around the world. Next month’s Bible Marathon stretches from central Israel to the settlement of Shiloh.” [AP]

SCENE IN JAFFA: Dr. Henry Kissinger attended a memorial event yesterday to mark a year since the passing of Shimon Peres at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv-Yafo. “To me, it was an honor to be his friend. It was a privilege to be his contemporary,” said Kissinger. “My affection and admiration for Shimon existed side by side with occasional doubts about the feasibility of his vision on a foreseeable timescale.” [PicTwitter]

SPOTTED: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, John Chambers, Orit Gadish, Joe Schoendorf, Meredith Rose Burak, Leora Strauss, David Lobl, and Amos Oz.

BIRTHDAYS: CEO of of MDC Holdings (parent company of Richmond American Homes), Chairman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and AIPAC board member, Larry A. Mizel turns 75… Actor, writer and director with a fifty year career in film and TV, first known for his role in the original Star Trek television series, Walter Koenig turns 81… Founder of Vemont-based Kidrobot, a retailer of art toys, apparel and accessories, and Ello, an ad-free social network, Paul Budnitz turns 50… Managing director and co-head of the alternative investments group at NYC-based corporate communications firm Kekst and Company, he is also the president of the Young Israel of New Rochelle, Mark A. Semer turns 47… Comedian, television actor, writer and producer, Elon Gold turns 47… Public relations professional, formerly of ABC News, Courtney Cohen Flantzer turns 39… Founder at Mindchat Research Amy Kauffman (h/t Ken)… Senior Associate Editor at The Atlantic, he was previously a congressional reporter for The Hill and a Washington correspondent for The New York Sun, Russell Berman turns 34… New York Times metro reporter, Matt Flegenheimer turns 29… Founder and owner of ARA Capital, a British firm with holdings in e-commerce and energy, he is the son of billionaire Roman Abramovich, Arkadiy Abramovich turns 24… Los Angeles based attorney, Roxana Pourshalimi

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Sep
13

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Daily Kickoff: Congress reacts to Bibi’s plea to remove sunset clause from JCPOA | Sen. Graham’s MOU amendment | Remembering Newark’s Jerry Gottesman

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HAPPENING TODAY: “High Tech and High Design, Cornell’s Roosevelt Island Campus Opens” by Elizabeth Harris: “The campus was born of a 2010 competition started by the Mike Bloomberg administration… Cornell University and its partner, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, were declared the winners and awarded $100 million along with a stretch of city-owned land on Roosevelt Island. “High-tech companies and new, small companies that will be the next big companies, they tend to be created where the founders go to school,” the former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in an interview. “You see that in Silicon Valley. Here was a chance to get a bunch of people educated and create the economy of the future for New York City.”” [NYTimes

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Mrs. Rhoda Dermer hosted their annual Rosh Hashanah reception in a tent on the front lawn of their Maryland residence.

Highlights from Dermer’s remarks: “Like category 4 hurricanes, Israel should be an issue that brings people together, and tonight is a time to be grateful that Israel is an issue that brings people together… Rosh Hashanah is also a time to think about the year that was and the year to be. As for the year that was — this is hard for me to admit but for the first time in 69 years, Israel was actually more boring than America. For years I’ve been telling people that Israel is such an exciting place that Israelis actually go to Manhattan to unwind (laughter)… But today, Israel’s political system and hectic media environment have nothing on DC. So congratulations Washingtonians, and let me take this opportunity to recommend that all of you come to Israel for a little R&R over the Jewish holiday… It’s true that Israel is disappointed to have lost our title as the most exciting place on the planet but… Israel is looking forward to the year ahead.”

Dermer on the Iran deal: “Israel hopes that the coming weeks will bring about a dramatic change in the trajectory of that deal that will ultimately either fix it or cancel it. Israel looks forward to working with the U.S. and its other allies to implement a tougher policy towards Iran in the months and years ahead.”

On Taylor Force Act: “Israel hopes that the passage of the Taylor Force Act will finally send a message to the Palestinian Authority that the days when it is internationally acceptable to pay people to kill Jews are over.”

SPOTTED in the big tent: Wolf Blitzer, Sam Feist, Danielle Heyman Feist, Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Merle Bari, Jason Greenblatt, Josh Raffel, Abe Foxman, Ann Lewis, Loribeth Weinstein, Bob Cohen, Howard Friedman, Howard Kohr, Norm Eisen, Lindsay Kaplan, Sander Gerber, Nathan Diament, Boris Epshteyn, Lauren Tanick, Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Lee Zeldin, Mort Klein, Tom Rose, Ken Weinstein, David Milstein, Matt Nosanchuk, Shmuley Boteach, Aaron Keyak, Avi Goldgraber, Roger Hertog, Danny Ayalon, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Henry Waxman, Janet Kessler, Yarden Golan, Cliff May, Evan May, Jason Isaacson, Eli Lake, Aaron David Miller, Max Weinberg, Ali Rogin, Josh Rogin, Noah Pollak, Daniel S. Mariaschin, Joel Mowbray, Stacy Burdett, Ron Kampeas, Nathan Guttman, Michael Wilner, Josh Lederman, Ron Prosor, Sarah Abonyi, Miriam Smallman.
 
DRIVING THE CONVO — Should the US listen to Netanyahu on the sunset clause? — by Aaron Magid: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Congressional delegation last month that the United States should remove the sunset clause from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.

“At a minimum, we should remove the sunset clause. The [nuclear] deal itself has been devastating,” Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) told Jewish Insider. “The sunset clause lifts the restrictions and allows Iran to make very steady progress or to actually turn the corner. I would not be happy with only doing that. I think we should walk away from the deal.”

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) agreed with Cheney. “Ten years for them in the grand scheme of things is a blink of the eye and then gives them the ability if they want to say: We lived up to our end of the bargain and now you have to live up to your end and let us produce this weapon. That would be a complete departure from anything we’ve done,” he explained.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) argued that ending the sunset provision would “nullify” the JCPOA “since you are opening up the deal.” The Arizona lawmaker added, “You have all of these international partners that agreed to certain embargoes. I don’t think we have the full support of all these other nations to pull out of the deal unilaterally and they would follow and join with us to impose (new) restrictions.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) also emphasized the importance of respecting the multilateral nature of the JCPOA. “I don’t think the US should unilaterally try to change any part of the Iran nuclear deal,” he said.

While some analysts refer to the JCPOA as the “Iran deal,” the State Department has emphasized that such a label is inaccurate. In a letter to then-Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), the State Department under the Obama administration noted, “The JCPOA is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document. The JCPOA reflects political commitments between Iran, the P5+1.”

Even though the JCPOA was not a signed agreement, analysts are reluctant to discard the importance of adhering to its clauses. Michael Makovsky, President of JINSA told Jewish Insider that the JCPOA is “incorporated in a UNSC resolution 2231 that we (U.S.) did vote for and does have legal validity.” Makovsky added that “there could be renegotiations if the Iranians agreed with it,” but he was highly skeptical that Tehran would voluntarily reimpose restrictions. “We can’t dictate to them (Iran). For them to agree, they would really have to capitulate. It’s really inconceivable. Why would they ever give something like that up?” he concluded. [JewishInsider]

“The U.S. Is Testing Support for Extending Iran Nuclear Limits” by Nick Wadhams: “U.S. diplomats have approached European officials to see if they would join in demanding an extension to limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment that are set to expire in 2025 and 2030 under the nuclear accord reached in 2015… State Department and Pentagon officials have approached counterparts from France, Germany and the U.K… The administration is also weighing whether to pressure the International Atomic Energy Agency to more rigorously enforce the current terms of the deal by gaining access to military sites… People familiar with internal discussions said [Nikki] Haley’s team didn’t work out her speech with Tillerson and his team in advance.” [Bloomberg

KAFE KNESSET — Deal or no deal — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Journalists following Netanyahu to Buenos Aires got a preview of what he’ll likely tell President Trump next week: When it comes to Iran, no deal is better than a bad deal. “Let me take this opportunity to clarify. I’ll be straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it or cancel it. This is Israel’s position.” The JCPOA “paves the way of Iran to a nuclear arsenal,” he said. “It is a bad agreement that needs to be changed.” Netanyahu said he was responding to “stories about Israel’s purported position,” like one in Reuters quoting US officials who said Trump’s top national security advisers want to keep the deal intact, “as do US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, despite their reservations about Iran’s adherence to the agreement.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“The trickiest feature of having a more aggressive U.S. strategy on Iran” by Shmuel Rosner: “The real dilemma for the Trump administration… is whether to counter Iran even though it is holding to a problematic deal. Putting it more bluntly: It is the U.S.’s choice whether it wants to breach the deal to make room for a better policy… If the U.S. scraps the Iran deal and raises the level of pressure on the country and its forces and proxy allies, it could achieve the second objective only to find out that Iran rushed back to expedite its nuclear program.” [JewishJournal]

NORTH KOREA: “Time for America to Act on North Korea, Alone If Necessary” by Dov Zakheim: “The UN Security Council has approved the “strongest sanctions ever” against North Korea… They are not, however, the “strongest sanctions ever” passed by the Security Council. The sanctions on Iran prior to the 2015 nuclear agreement… were considerably tougher… President Trump has recently demonstrated that he can indeed work with a bipartisan majority in the Congress; he should join hands with that majority to impose the very sanctions his administration proposed, and failed to obtain, at the United Nations.” [NationalInterest]

Netanyahu says Israel endorses independence for Kurds: “In an announcement early Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says Israel rejects the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and considers it a terrorist organization. However, the statement says Israel “supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”” [AP] • Eli Lake: Iraq’s Kurds Have Earned Their Right to Independence[BloombergView]

“The Trump administration is trashing Middle East peace negotiations: Three recent statements reveal deep bias in their approach” by former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer: “The fact that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians continue to support the two-state outcome is apparently of little interest to this administration. Under these circumstances, Israelis and Palestinians would be much better off if Trump, his ambassador and his spokespeople took their self-described deal-making elsewhere, lest they continue to cause damage to the already-slim prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” [NYDailyNews]

ON THE HILL — “Senate could reverse billions of dollars of cuts to Israeli defense sector” by Bryant Harris: “Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has filed an amendment to the annual defense bill that would allow Israel to continue to spend more than a quarter of US military assistance to buy equipment from domestic, rather than US, firms. The amendment would represent a payday of more than $8.5 billion for the Israeli defense sector, but some critics say it would put the entire 10-year, $38 billion agreement in jeopardy… “If Congress chooses to rewrite portions of the MOU [memo of understanding], any provision of the MOU could be called into question,” said [Daniel] Shapiro. “That undercuts the stability of US defense assistance to Israel that the MOU was meant to provide.”” [Al-Monitor

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on $75M add. Funds to Israel: “Israel is an important, trusted ally of the United States. That hasn’t changed and that won’t change… I know that Israel is in the position to be able to get that funding and that is something that we support… They’re going to get the money.”

REPORT: “McMaster Sparked a Row With the Israeli Delegation at a White House Meeting on Hezbollah” by David Steinberg: “National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly brought NSC Senior Director on Counter-Terrorism Mustafa Javed Ali to the White House meeting with Israel. Ali, a McMaster appointee, is described by a senior administration source as being “opposed to Hezbollah’s designation as a terrorist organization.” … The Israeli delegation demanded that Mustafa Javed Ali leave the room… Sources reported that McMaster went on to explicitly dismiss the Israelis’ specific concerns about Hezbollah. McMaster was said to “blow off” this major Israeli concern, and to be “yelling at the Israelis” during the meeting.” [PJMediaNana10

AJC POLL (of 1,000 Jews over age 18): Just 21 percent of American Jews have a favorable opinion of the job President Trump has been doing, while 77% has an unfavorable view, according to the AJC’s Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion. However, among Orthodox Jews, 71% view Trump’s performance favorably, while 27% view his performance unfavorably. Overall, among U.S. Jews, 26% approve Trump’s handling of the Iran nuclear issue and 67% disapprove. Trump does best on U.S.-Israel relations. 54% approve while to 41% disapprove. In 2015, when the survey asked the same question about President Obama, responses were evenly divided, 49%-49%. [AJC]

TOP TALKER: “Steve Bannon’s Nazi Problem” by Tina Nguyan“In August 2016, Bannon called Breitbart “the platform of the alt-right,” yoking his site to an ugly strain of American politics at the expense of his own allies. “I’ve talked to people who work with him, and they said, ‘They don’t know why he said that,’” said Morton Klein, echoing several other Bannon associates I’ve spoken to over the past several months… Complicating the issue are the rank-and-file Web-based Breitbart constituency that Bannon calls the “Pepes,” after the cartoon frog often used in memes promoting far-right ideology… “Bannon sees the Pepes as kind of like trolls, and not like the Nazis like Richard Spencer and David Duke,” explained the person who spoke to Bannon. “Everybody’s kind of struggling with it… But that’s different, categorically, than neo-Nazis at rallies throwing Nazi salutes and throwing up Nazi flags.”” [VanityFair

ANTI-BOYCOTT ACT: “It’s time to update America’s important anti-boycott law for Israel” by Jonathan A. Greenblatt and Stuart Eizenstat: “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, like its 1977 predecessor, is designed to protect U.S. businesses and individuals from being pressured into a discriminatory economic boycott of Israel or other friendly nations by international governmental organizations. While Congress has a heavy agenda, this bill should be passed promptly, before another “blacklist” of U.S. companies becomes a reality.” [WashPost

STATE-SIDE: “Gov. Reynolds: Iowans see opportunities in Israel” by Rod Boshart: “Gov. Kim Reynolds… who returned to Israel as leader of a delegation that signed agreements with universities — including Tel Aviv University and the Volcanic Institute — invited Netanyahu to visit Iowa, telling him “the World Food Prize would be a phenomenal event” for him to participate in.” [TheGazette

** 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: Ben Smith on the bad new politics of big tech [BuzzFeed] • 23andMe confirms $250 million round led by Sequoia [TC• The rise and fall of New York City’s ‘Taxi King’ [BusinessInsider] • Ray Dalio Says ‘It Would Be Terrible’ If Gary Cohn Left the Administration [Bloomberg] • The easy money has already been made off the retail meltdown, Marc Lasry says [CNBC]

“Ousted NSC Official Takes Job at Oracle” by Kate Brannen: “Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who was fired from the National Security Council in August, has landed a new job at the Washington, D.C. office of Oracle, the Silicon Valley software giant… The Trump administration already has ties to the company. Safra Catz, CEO of the company along with Mark Hurd, was on the executive committee of the Trump transition team, making her unique among Silicon Valley executives.” [JustSecurity]

“US Ambassador Friedman welcomes tech giant Oracle’s expansion in Israel” by Max Schindler: “Here’s special recognition to Oracle for having 20 years in the State of Israel,” Ambassador David Friedman said as he began his speech in heavily American-accented Hebrew before making a shout-out to the company’s CEO. “Please extend my best wishes to Larry Ellison, who’s a great friend to Israel.” … The ambassador then toasted the company as a rabbi blew into the shofar.” [JPost

“Israel’s first-ever Africa summit has been canceled setting back its quest to find global alliances” by Khanya Mtshali: “President Faure Gnassingbé, who is facing calls to step down after 15 years of ruling the west African nation, informed Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the event would no longer take place… The cancelation of the Africa-Israel summit, slated to take place between Oct. 23 and 27, will upend Israel’s efforts to build trade partnerships in Africa, and secure global allies in its attempts to gain a seat on the United Nations (UN) security council next year.” [QZ]

“Barbra Streisand Praises Former Israeli Leader Shimon Peres in Upcoming Documentary” by Lauren Huff: “”He was gifted with the ability to listen to others who did not share his views, and still remain determined to find a path forward,” Streisand says in a new clip from the film, titled Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres. “President Peres was all about love and compassion. He was a giver, not a taker,” she added. Joining Streisand in the film are Barack Obama, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Bill Clinton.” [THR]

“How Shimon Peres Helped Grow Israel Into a Startup Nation” by Chemi Peres: “In No Room for Small Dreams, my father relates that he was once asked by the young founder of a startup what the most important lesson about innovation he’d learned over the years was… My father responded that he’d learned a crucial lesson early in life. As a young man who’d been born in a small town in Poland and had come to work the land in what later became the State of Israel, he saw that the state was built not with natural resources, but rather by innovators and entrepreneurs… “We learned that the treasures hidden in ourselves are far greater than anything that can be found in the ground,” he told the young entrepreneur.” [Fortune]

MEDIA WATCH:  “Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush Take the Next Step with Trump” by Joe Pompeo: “The duo’s ambition for the as-yet-untitled book… is to do something that goes beyond the palace intrigue (though there’ll be plenty of that as well) to tell a larger story about who Trump is, why the country chose him, and what it all says about America and where we’re headed. They’ve told people that they want the book to be “durable,” and that, “We want this to mean something.”” [VanityFair]

REMEMBERING: “From a single parking lot in Newark to a $4B empire: Hundreds gather to remember Jerry Gottesman” by Rich Bockmann: “Jerry Gottesman oversaw a real estate empire worth a reported $4 billion, but he didn’t own a tie that cost more than $24 unless someone bought it for him. “We were not interested in being real estate big shots,” Gottesman said of his early days buying property in the 1960s in a pre-recorded video tribute that was shown during his memorial service Tuesday. But from a single parking lot that he and his brother Harold bought on Edison Place in Newark, New Jersey in 1956, Gottesman built a real estate empire on both sides of the Hudson River and in Baltimore that’s now reportedly valued at $4 billion. Gottesman died of pneumonia while on a trip to Israel Sunday at the age of 87… Gottesman didn’t spend on lavish displays of wealth. He left the majority of his fortune to Jewish educational causes, representatives said.” [RealDeal]

BIRTHDAYS: Television executive who held high level programming positions at CBS (1970-75), then ABC (1975-78), and then NBC (1978-81), Fred Silverman turns 80… Chairman of global brokerage at CBRE, a worldwide commercial real estate services company, Stephen Siegel turns 73… Senior investigative reporter at The Daily Caller, previously at the Washington Examiner and ABC News, Richard Pollock turns 66… CEO of The Mellman Group, a polling and consulting firm whose clients include leading political figures and Fortune 500 companies, Mark S. Mellman turns 62 (h/ts Playbook)… Ice dancer, who, with her partner Michael Seibert, won the 1981 and 1985 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Judy Blumberg turns 60… Media consultant, formerly CEO of NPR and head of news partnerships at Twitter, Vivian Schiller turns 56…

Comedian who earned the title “Roastmaster General.” for his Comedy Central celebrity roasts, Jeff Ross (born Jeffrey Ross Lifschultz) turns 52… Attorney General of North Carolina since January 2017, he was previously a member of the North Carolina Senate (2009-2016), Joshua “Josh” Stein turns 51… Member of the Los Angeles City Council since 2013, he was previously a member of the California State Assembly (2008-2013), Robert J. Blumenfield turns 50… Founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, a non-profit, fully volunteer emergency medical services organization, Eli Beer turns 44… Attorney, triathlete and director of Maryland government and community relations at the the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, Meredith Mirman Weisel turns 42… Member of the Colorado House of Representatives since 2012, Jonathan Singer turns 38… Senior analyst at progressive polling and strategic firm Lake Research Partners, Gary Ritterstein turns 34… Analyst at NYC’s Mission Capital Advisors, David Behmoaras turns 26… Founder and president of Reshet Capital, a boutique investment firm helping Israeli companies access global markets, Betty Grinstein… Encino, California resident, Orrie Wilner

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12

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Daily Kickoff: Bibi to meet with Jewish leaders, privately | Both parties enlist lawyer Abbe Lowell | That time Larry David cleared a man of murder

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ANTI-BOYCOTT ACT: Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) told Jewish Insideryesterday that she has “not seen” the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to form an opinion about supporting the legislation. “I didn’t know they (Senators Rob Portman and Ben Cardin) had a bill. I’ll take a look at it,” she added. The legislation would expand the 1970s era laws prohibiting compliance with boycotts against Israel by foreign governments to include boycotts organized by international organizations. The California lawmaker is considered a possible candidate for the 2020 presidential election.

IRAN DEAL: “Trump to weigh more aggressive U.S. strategy on Iran – sources ” by Jonathan Landay, Arshad Mohammed and Steve Holland: “President Donald Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive U.S. responses to Iran’s forces, its Shi‘ite Muslim proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups… The proposal was prepared by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other top officials, and presented to Trump at a National Security Council meeting on Friday… It could be agreed and made public before the end of September.” [Reuters]

“Focus on Iran Spurs Trump’s Bid to End Gulf Crisis” by Fiona MacDonald: “Trump told Kuwaiti officials visiting the White House last week that Gulf Arab monarchies can’t effectively counter growing Iranian regional influence if they’re busy fighting each other… The “real challenge” for the U.S. and its Gulf Cooperation Council allies is Iran, Trump told the Kuwaiti delegation… The president told his visitors he would “put an end to the dispute very soon.”” [Bloomberg] • In Persian Gulf, computer hacking now a cross-border fear [AP]

“In PR Push, Qatar Trying to Arrange Meeting With Jewish American Leaders” by Amir Tibon: “Qatar is trying to arrange meetings between its senior leadership and the heads of major Jewish American organizations during the United Nations General Assembly next week… The offer was made by Nick Muzin, a public relations adviser whom Qatar recently hired… One Jewish leader who refused to meet with the Qataris is Mort Klein… who told Haaretz on Tuesday, “It looks very much like this is a public relations attempt to moderate Qatar’s image as a country that supports and funds terrorism.”” [Haaretz

“Israel is courting Syrian ‘hearts and minds’ to keep Hezbollah away” by Loveday Morris: “Israel has now treated more than 3,000 wounded Syrians, military officials say… Israel has transferred 360 tons of food, nearly 120,000 gallons of gasoline, 90 pallets of drugs, and 50 tons of clothing as well as generators, water piping and building materials… “There was an understanding that if we weren’t there, somebody else would influence them,” [Brig. Gen. Eli] Ben-Meir said. The humanitarian motivation was “huge,” he added. “But the more it got bigger and expanded, the more it had to do with winning these hearts and minds.” Closer ties also mean richer intelligence.”[WashPost]

Elliott Abrams: Israel is protecting itself from Iran. We should, too: “Israel’s strategic situation has been seriously damaged in the last several years because there is now an Iranian presence in Syria. The Israelis are not going to go into Syria and try to drive Iran, the Shia militias, and Hezbollah out, but they are trying to establish some limits to acceptable Iranian behavior. In my view this ought to be part of U.S. policy in the region as well.” [Newsweek

“Trump supports $75m. additional aid to Israel beyond Obama-era MOU” by Michael Wilner: “During the 2016 negotiations, Israel’s leadership signed a side letter promising to return any aid appropriated by Congress exceeding the $3.1 billion set aside for this fiscal year. But Congress ignored that provision, cutting Israel an additional $75 million in aid in its latest appropriations bill. A report in the right-leaning Washington Free Beacon… claimed that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wanted Israel to return the check… But a senior State Department official said that report was incorrect. “The administration is committed to ensuring that Israel receives the assistance that has been appropriated by Congress,” the official said.” [JPost

— Flashback: Ambassador David Friedman told us last year, “Under a Trump administration… the U.S. will not be limited in its support for Israel by the terms of the MOU.” [JewishInsider

SCOOP: Our Kafe Knesset team reported last week that, unlike years past, Netanyahu is not planning to attend any public events with the Jewish community during his visit to New York and is instead only holding private meetings with Jewish community leaders. We can confirm that invites were sent yesterday for a private meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister next Sunday.

KAFE KNESSET — Iran, Iran and Iran again — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: On the top of Netanyahu’s agenda yesterday, as he launched his historic Latin America visit in Buenos Aires, was Iran. He visited the sites of the two deadly terror attacks that rocked the city’s Israeli Embassy and Jewish community center in the 1990s. “The time has come to place full and complete responsibility on Iran for the attacks,” Netanyahu said. The PM commended his host, President Mauricio Macri, for renewing the investigation of the attacks in the South American capital, after years of his predecessor’s cover-up of Iranian and Hezbollah involvement. Teheran is still the main source of global terrorism, the PM pointed out in two speeches.

The premier is probably already thinking of his big speech next week at the UN General Assembly, in which Iran is expected to be a dominant motif. Iran will also take center stage during the PM’s meeting with President Trump. Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said yesterday that the PM’s “first mission on his trip to the US is to demand that President Donald Trump freeze, change or cancel the Iran deal, which in its current form protects Iran and leads to a future nuclear Iran.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

UNGA WATCH: “Will Abbas confront Trump?” by Shlomi Eldar: “Abbas has already made his decision, and he plans an assertive speech, which, according to [a senior Palestinian official] will reveal the “real face of Netanyahu.” “Netanyahu is a peace rejectionist, so there’s no way of advancing the diplomatic process toward a permanent arrangement with the Israelis.” This is what, according to the source, Abbas intends to say to the assembled representatives, even though it is clear to him… that such a dramatic statement would bring an end to the honeymoon period with the Trump administration… Abbas… also plans to announce that he is considering renewing… an application to the International Court of Justice at the Hague… Hussam Zumlut, the Palestinian ambassador in Washington, and [Riyad] Mansour are advocating maintaining an escape hatch and not angering the Americans too much.” [Al-Monitor]

ON THE HILL — Sanders sponsors Congressional forum on Palestinian village Susiya — by Aaron Magid: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is sponsoring a briefing on Capitol Hill to highlight the cause of the Palestinian village, Susiya, which is designated for demolition by the Israeli Army, a Senate staffer confirmed to Jewish Insider. The California-based Rebuilding for Peace is slated to fly-in children from from the West Bank villages of Susiya and Al-Aqaba along with Gaza for the event on September 19th. While the briefing marks International Peace Day which is September 21, due to the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, it has been moved to the 19th to allow those celebrating to attend, according to a copy of the invitation. [JewishInsider]

“Senate approves resolution condemning white supremacist groups” by Jordain Carney: “The resolution — introduced last week by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — cleared the upper chamber by unanimous consent. The Senate measure formally condemns “the violence and domestic terrorist attack” that occurred last month around a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville… The resolution urges Trump and his Cabinet to “address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”” [TheHill

“Trump gives new hope to Jewish push for FEMA assistance to houses of worship” by Ron Kampeas: “Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others),” Trump said on Twitter… Nathan Diament, the Washington director of the Orthodox Union, which has led advocacy for the policy change, said that Trump needed only to order the change; there was no statute barring emergency funds from going to houses of worship… “There’s a little bit of distance between the president tweeting and actual policy,” he told JTA on Monday. “We also want it codified in legislation.” [JTATheAtlantic]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “The Characters Who Tried to Make ‘Trump Tower Moscow’ a Reality” by Betsy Woodruff: “It was a dream years in the making—and helped along the way by two New York real estate tycoons, one of whom is considered the right-hand man of an oligarch linked to an infamous money laundering investigation.  Naturally, this man is also considered a friend of Vladimir Putin. The two tycoons—Alex Sapir and Rotem Rosen—accompanied Donald Trump on his 2013 trip to Russia, where they reportedly tried to pull strings behind the scenes with to make Trump Tower Moscow a reality.” [DailyBeast]

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Some Trump Lawyers Wanted Kushner Out” by Peter Nicholas, Rebecca Ballhaus and Erica Orden: “Some of President Donald Trump’s lawyers earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down as senior White House adviser because of possible legal complications related to a probe of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election and aired concerns about him to the president… The president’s lawyers were not united in the view that Mr. Kushner should step down… Mr. Trump wasn’t persuaded that Mr. Kushner needed to leave… Mr. Kasowitz in a statement said: “I never… recommended to the President that Mr. Kushner should step down from that position and I am not aware that any other lawyers for the President made any such recommendation either.””[WSJ] • Trump lawyer Ty Cobb: Ex-White House staffers trying to sabotage Kushner [TheHill]

“Both Parties Turn to Lawyer Abbe Lowell in High-Stakes Cases” by Del Quentin Wilber: “Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell has represented high-profile clients on both sides of the political spectrum—a Republican governor, a conservative super-lobbyist and a former Democratic vice-presidential nominee—and  even played a key role in defending President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings. Now, he is simultaneously representing major players in separate cases that could have big implications for both parties. Last week, Mr. Lowell launched his courtroom defense of Sen. Bob Menendez… Mr. Lowell is also representing Jared Kushner.”

“He is brilliant and organized, so taking on several wars at once doesn’t seem to faze him,” said Jack Abramoff, a conservative lobbyist whom Mr. Lowell helped obtain a plea deal that in 2008 resulted in a four-year prison term for his role in a wide-ranging corruption and influence-buying scandal. Mr. Lowell, a trim and balding 65-year-old who favors the dark-suit uniform of D.C. lawyers, declined an interview request.” [WSJ]

“Ivanka Trump had breakfast with Janet Yellen as the president considered the Fed chair’s renomination” by Jim Puzzanghera: “The president’s daughter and Yellen dined at the Fed from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on July 17, according to Yellen’s calendar, which the Fed releases to the public with about a one month lag.” [LATimes

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “How Steve Bannon Is Preparing For War” by Tarini Parti and Adrian Carrasquillo: “A pro-Trump outside group — Great America PAC and its affiliated nonprofit, Great America Alliance — is evolving into a big-money vehicle that could be used by Bannon and his allies… casino mogul Sheldon Adelson [is] considering writing checks to the group… “Don’t discount the influence Bannon still has,” the former White House official said. The source pointed in particular to the way Bannon has publicly talked about economic adviser Gary Cohn, a frequent Breitbart target. “When he calls Cohn ‘disloyal,’ he knows what he’s doing, he knows the president is going to watch. That’s a trigger for the president.” [BuzzFeed]

Steve Bannon weighs in on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in the White House: “In Bannon’s “60 Minutes” conversation with Charlie Rose… he said Kushner, the president’s daughter and Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, and the factions within the administration “absolutely” have his support… Bannon also said he thinks Kushner and Ivanka are “terrific people.”” [CBSNews]

–Trump watched the “60 Minutes” interview and liked it, telling friends and aides he was appreciative of the praise Bannon offered for him and his policies… [WashPost]

“Gorka, Ousted Trump Adviser, Predicts More White House Shake-Ups” by Andrew Rafferty and Paul Goldman: “You don’t have to pick up a government paycheck to be in discussion with the president or helping him. And one thing about the president, if you’re loyal to him, he’s loyal to you,” Gorka [told NBC News]. Gorka also left the door open to both him and Bannon returning to the administration. “I predict… that soon, perhaps before Christmas, the president will be removing high-ranking individuals from inside his administration because he will realize who he’s surrounded with.” [NBCNews

MORE KAFE KNESSET — Gorka in Israel: Among a long list of keynote speakers at the International Institute For Counter-Terrorism conference who also mentioned Iran, was President Trump’s former advisor Sebastian Gorka. Gorka endorsed Bibi’s strategic vision. “I have become convinced there is a bigger problem than Sunni Jihadists, and unfortunately there is a nation that understands the bigger problem and has been trying to tell us since 1979 – and that is Israel. … We need to learn from our Israeli friends that Israel is and was right about the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran”. Gorka’s invitation to the conference stirred controversy in the US, but here in Israel it was hardly noticed. Nevertheless, Gorka expressed his gratitude to the ICT director, Boaz Ganor. “When the going gets tough, that’s when you find out who your real friends are, Boaz Ganor included,” he said. [KafeKnesset]

Gorka also visited the Western Wall: A photo of Gorka with a well-fitted yarmulke was posted on Twitter by Rabbi Uri Pilichowski from Yeshivat Migdal Hatorah in Modi’in. “I drove Seb Gorka to Israel’s Western Wall in Jerusalem yesterday. I spent hours talking to him. He is a true friend of Israel & the Jews,” Pilichowski tweeted. [Pic]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Seth Klarman’s Baupost Plans to Return Some Investor Money [Bloomberg• Bradley Tusk made $100 million helping Uber conquer New York. Now he’s helping other startups disrupt the status quo [CrainsNY] • Israeli company to build US-Mexico border wall prototype[Ynet

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Pro-Charter School Group Pays State $425,000 For Failing To ID Donors” by Steve LeBlanc: “Investigators say [Families for Excellent Schools-Advocacy] raised more than $15 million from individuals and then contributed it to the Great Schools Massachusetts Ballot Question Committee in a manner intended to disguise the true source of the money. The money represented 70 percent of the $21.7 million reported received by the charter school committee… Boston hedge fund manager Seth Klarman contributed the most of any single donor: $3 million.”[WBURUSNews]

“The secret of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy” by Seth Mandel: “One reason for the city’s resurgence was the mayor elected amid the madness: Ed Koch, who used his larger-than-life, happy-warrior persona to give New York the psychological jolt it needed. Moskowitz notes (in her memoir out Tuesday) that Koch zeroed in on quality-of-life improvements, like the subway cars plagued with graffiti and loud music… It worked. Moskowitz, then in high school and living upstate, returned with her parents and brother… In 1999, she won a City Council seat and joined the Education Committee, where she probed for the sources of the dysfunction and mismanagement rife in the city’s schools.” [NYPost]

LESSONS FROM THE PAST: Harvey, Irma, Jose … and Noah” by David Brooks: ““Noah was righteous but not a leader,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observes. A leader takes responsibility for those around him and at least tries to save the world, even if people are too wicked to actually listen… Noah, by contrast, opts to withdraw from the corrupt world, in order to remain untainted… Noah is a good man, but his story is a lesson in the dangers of blind obedience. The God of the Hebrew Bible wants respect for authority and deference to law. But He doesn’t want passive surrender… Today we live amid many floods. Some, like Harvey or Irma, are natural… People are still good at acting individually to tackle problems… But we have trouble with collective action, with building new institutions, or reviving old ones, that are big enough to deal with the biggest challenges. That’s because we have trouble thinking about authority.” [NYTimes

“Why Elie Wiesel’s ‘Night’ Still Matters So Much to Me — And All Of Us” by Samantha Power: “I am so very sad that my children will not have the chance to talk metaphysics with the master. But let me offer another reason that God is smiling today. As our nation goes through difficult days, “Night” is a book that is firmly ingrained in that small canon of literature that kids and young adults read when they are growing up in America… So, while the void is enormous… for our world, I too am filled with profound joy knowing that my 7-year-old boy and my 4-year-old girl — like Elie’s grandkids, and their children after them — will wade into big questions for the first time with Elie Wiesel as their guide.” [Forward]

HOLLYWOOD: “Attacked by Rotten Tomatoes” by Brooks Barnes: “Hollywood is blaming a website: Rotten Tomatoes. “I think it’s the destruction of our business,” Brett Ratner, the director, producer and film financier, said at a film festival this year… Mr. Ratner’s sentiment was echoed almost daily in studio dining rooms all summer, although not for attribution, for fear of giving Rotten Tomatoes more credibility.” [NYTimes]

“In which Larry David clears a man of murder” by Radley Balko:“Okay, so maybe not Larry David himself. But the upcoming Netflix documentary “Long Shot” tells the story of how extra footage from David’s show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” confirmed the alibi of Juan Catalan, who had been accused of murdering a state’s witness in a gang-related shooting. Given David’s penchant for taking his shows meta, maybe we’ll see an episode next season about this. Of course, it would need to happen in a way that provides enormous inconvenience for David’s character.” [WashPost• Original report from 2004 [CNN]

PROFILE: “Jennifer Meyer’s Goal? ‘Jewelry You Wear All the Time’” by Rachel Felder: “There’s the fact that her father is Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal… But Ms. Meyer, 40, has built her business since 2005 by focusing on something that’s resonated with customers: delicate jewelry that is feminine and casual enough to wear every day… Jewelry-making was not a lifelong goal for Ms. Meyer, although as a child she did spend afternoons making rings and medallions with her paternal grandmother, Edith Meyer, who designed enamel pieces in a tiny Santa Monica apartment, its kitchen crowded with a kiln.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT: “Harry & Ida’s Opens a Luncheonette and More Food News” by Florence Fabricant: “Will and Julie Horowitz, a brother-and-sister team, have opened a financial district offshoot of Harry & Ida’s Meat & Supply, their grocery and casual dining spot in the East Village with an Old World point of view and an emphasis on local, homemade smoked and pickled foods. This branch, called Harry & Ida’s Luncheonette (the name refers to the Horowitzes’ great-grandparents), is more spacious and serves plates priced at less than $15. “We take ideas from our heritage,” Mr. Horowitz said.” [NYTimes

“What Happens When You Add a Cryptocurrency Experiment to Shabbat Dinner” by Arick Wierson: “After the Challah was passed around, Richie surprised his guests by unveiling that this Shabbos would have a specific theme—a cryptocurrency theme, to be exact. And that’s when things began to get a little odd. Welcome to the first Initial #ShabbatCoin Offering, or ‘Kosher IDO (Initial Dinner Offering).’ Shabbat Shalom!” he said.” [Observer]

BIRTHDAYS: 20 term Democratic Congressman (1975-2015) from Los Angeles, Henry Waxman turns 78… Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama White House (2014-2017), he was previously Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky (2011-2014) and mayor of Louisville (1986-2011), Jerry Abramson turns 71… Governor of Kansas since 2011, he was a US Senator (1996-2011) and is now awaiting confirmation to become the US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback turns 61… Miami based Chairman of American Principles Super PAC, Eytan Laor turns 58… Internet entrepreneur and a pioneer of VoIP telephony, Jeff Pulverturns 55… Attorney specializing in the recovery of looted artworks during the Holocaust and featured in the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” E. Randol (Randy) Schoenberg turns 51… Sherri Jankowski turns 50… Senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Max Boot turns 48… South Dakota native, now serving as legislative director at Christians United for Israel, Jason Stverak turns 44… Israeli singer, songwriter and musician, who has performed around the world, Idan Raichel turns 40… AIPAC’s area director for Philadelphia and South Jersey, Kelly Lauren Stein turns 31… Sara Greenberg …

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Photo: Amos Ben Gershom GPO

Kafe Knesset for August 24

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bibi-Putin bromance – the aftermath: Before Bibi headed to Putin’s dacha in Sochi, politicians across the political spectrum wished him luck. But now that the meeting is over,…

Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Netanyahu tells Congress: Remove sunset clause from Iran deal

Thursday, August 24, 2017

WASHINGTON – During a meeting with Republican Congressmen this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the lawmakers to “get rid of the sunset clause” from the 2015…

via Twitter/ @ofirgendelman

Kafe Knesset for August 23

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

While Bibi is meeting Putin in Sochi, the US special envoy to Syria, Michael Ratney, is in Jerusalem this week, Kafe Knesset has learned. Ratney will be meeting…

Courtesy of Rep.  Lloyd Smucker

Rep. Smucker Rebukes Palestinian PM for Terror Payments

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – Fresh off a trip to Israel with 32 other Republican House Members, Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) slammed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for justifying payments to…

Photo credit: Kobi Gideon (GPO)

Kafe Knesset for August 22

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dasvidaniya, Bibi: Netanyahu is preparing for a day trip to Sochi, Russia. There, he will be meeting President Putin tomorrow for the sixth time in the past two…

netanyahu plane

Kafe Knesset for August 21

Monday, August 21, 2017

Instructions from the top? This Saturday night marked the 39th consecutive week of protests near Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit’s home. The demonstrators continue to call for Netanyahu to…