May
16

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Daily Kickoff: ‘Renegade Jew’ | Bill Clinton: ‘I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state’ | BuzzFeed on the Orthodox Snapchat Sensation Surgeon

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BACKSTORY: “How Donald Trump Got Tapped to Lead New York’s Israel Day Parade” by David Freedlander: “The event’s organizers were simply looking to raise the parade’s profile, and trying to make the event more inclusive by finding someone who was not Jewish to lead it… Potasnik contacted Howard Lorber, the chairman of Douglas Elliman and one of the few New York real-estate tycoons friendly with the reality-TV star. Lorber proposed the idea to Trump — the two marched together at one point — and Trump quickly accepted… “I don’t think you could put the word regret on it,” said Juda Engelmayer. “Has he said or done anything as far as Israel, or as far as the parade is concerned that would make you regret? I don’t think so. It’s not like we asked a young Adolf Hitler to be the grand marshal.”” [NYMag]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Sheldon Adelson Is Poised to Give Donald Trump a Donation Boost” by Jonathan Martin: “Adelson told Trump in a private meeting last week that he was willing to contribute more to help elect him than he has to any previous campaign, a sum that could exceed $100 million, according to two Republicans with direct knowledge of Mr. Adelson’s commitment… Mr. Adelson and his wife, Miriam, met with Mr. Trump and his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, at the St. Regis Hotel in Midtown Manhattan while Mr. Adelson was in town for a gala dinner to benefit the World Values Network.. Mr. Trump assured the Adelsons that he was dedicated to protecting Israel’s security, an issue about which the couple are passionate.” [NYTimes]

Matchmaker? “It’s a very big signal,” Newt Gingrich said. “Everyone knows that Sheldon is a very serious man and to have Sheldon come in as strong as he did” will encourage other influential Republicans to get behind Trump, the Georgia Republican said.” [TheHill]

Yair Rosenberg: “Adelson styles himself as a staunch supporter of Israel and its security, and has given millions of dollars towards those causes over the course of his career. He recently claimed that Trump would be “good for Israel.” But his endorsement of the candidate—setting aside whatever one might think of Adelson’s hawkish outlook—shows that he critically misunderstands what it means to be “pro-Israel.” That’s because what is good for America is good for Israel and what is bad for America is bad for Israel.” [TabletMag]

“Trump: Bad for the Jewish Republicans?” by Katie Glueck: “Without question, I think there were probably more Jews willing to jump over to the Republican aisle, precisely because of the Iran deal and the Republican Party’s staunch opposition to it,” said Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush who also served as a Bush White House Jewish liaison and worked for Jeb Bush. “But I don’t think the opportunity exists anymore, largely because Trump is just anathema to many Jews, including Jewish conservatives.” [Politico]

MEDIA WATCH: “‘Renegade Jew’ Trends On Twitter After Breitbart Story On Bill Kristol’s #NeverTrump Plan” by Ed Mazza: ““Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew Prepares Third Party Effort to block Trump’s Path to White House,” read the headline of the article by Jewish writer David Horowitz. While the term “renegade Jew” is used only in the headline and not in the story, there were more than 1,500 tweets using the phrase on Sunday night.” [HuffPost]

“Bill Clinton: ‘I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state’” by Brianna Gurciullo: “Clinton was explaining his wife’s policy positions in Ewing Township, New Jersey, when a spectator yelled, “What about Gaza?” “She and the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt stopped the shooting war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza,” Clinton responded. “She said neutrality is not an option,” the spectator said, prompting boos from the audience, but Clinton told them to stop. “Depends on whether you care what happens to the Palestinians as opposed to the Hamas government and the people with guided missiles,” the former president answered. “They were human beings in Gaza,” the audience member said. “Yes, they were,” Clinton said. “And Hamas is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas, and they are smart.”

“I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state. I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza,” Clinton said. “There’s nobody who’s blameless in the Middle East, but we cannot really ever make a fundamental difference in the Middle East unless the Israelis think we care whether they live or die. If they do, we have a chance to keep pushing for peace,” Clinton said. “And that’s her position. Not to agree with the Israeli government on everything, not to pretend that innocents don’t die, not to pretend that more Palestinian children don’t die than Israeli children. But that we can’t get anything done unless they believe, when the chips are down, if somebody comes for them we will not let them be wiped out and become part of the dustbin of history.” [PoliticoVideo]

Who is former President Clinton referring to when he says “and the people with guided missiles”? We asked Aaron David Miller who told us: “I think he’s referring to Hamas’s missiles, though it’s a very imprecise formulation. If you read the whole Politico piece, the most significant takeaway is that both Bill — who fashions himself to be the most pro-Israeli President in US history — and Hillary — promising to be if she’s elected — believe that the special relationship with Israel is the key to US influence in delivering an agreement even while both are committed to a state for the Palestinians too.”

Jeffrey Goldberg: “Is There a Hillary Doctrine?” [TheAtlantic]

Heard on Al Jazeera’s “Head to Head” program — Martin Indyk on how the U.S. can serve as an honest broker by being pro-Israel: “I am pro-Israel, but I’m also pro-peace. The United States is pro-Israel and that’s what gives it its influence in the peace process. We are not neutral, we do not claim to be neutral. We have an alliance with Israel, but in order to achieve another interest that we have, which is peace in the region… and legitimate national rights for the Palestinians, we need to be able to influence Israel.” [AlJazeera]

“The Clinton Wonks Forging a Plan for Israel’s Security” by Amir Oren: “The Center for a New American Security in about two weeks will be unveiling its report “A Security System for the Two State Solution.” The chief executive and cofounder of CNAS is Michele Flournoy, a former deputy secretary of defense in the Obama administration who contributed to the report. She’s a candidate for national security adviser or secretary of defense in a Hillary Clinton administration. A coordinator of the teams contributing to the study – an American despite his Israeli-sounding name – is Ilan Goldenberg, who was on Secretary of State John Kerry’s team in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and during Kerry’s mission in the Middle East.” [Haaretz]

SUNDAY SHOWS: “Rice Denies Obama Administration Misled Public on Iran Deal” by Jacob Kornbluh: “There was nothing hidden. There was no effort to or reality of misleading,” Rice said during an interview on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday. “There is nothing that Ben or the president or I or anybody who was involved in explaining the Iran deal to the American public said that wasn’t factually correct. The notion that there was any ball to hide or spin to put on it, I think, is really misguided.” [JewishInsider]

Heard on CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Former Sec. of Defense Bob Gates on Ben Rhodes role in selling the Iran deal: John Dickerson: “One of the conclusions some have drawn in reading that article about the Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes is that he shaped the environment for the Iran deal. That he misled the public. Did you see that from your observation of the Iran deal and its being sold by the White House?” Bob Gates: “Well, I didn’t have that sense. I thought some of the things the White House was saying, in terms of believing that lifting the sanctions could over time lead the regime and Iran to change its stripes and become a normal country, if you will, I always thought that was a stretch. But I didn’t have the sense that people were being manipulated. That was news to me from that article.”

David Samuels responds: “The first is that I am an “ardent opponent of the Iran deal” and “neocon” who, by writing this article, was plotting to sow seeds of mistrust about a policy that I have long assailed. This hot take, which has been tweeted and retweeted by thousands of people, is a fever-dream caricature, one that willfully ignores and obliterates the many hundreds of thousands of words I have written during my 20 years as a reporter… Somehow, for a small group of people with very loud megaphones, the point right now seems to be me — or rather, a digital piñata they have slapped my name on. It seems fair to say that Rhodes won our bet.” [NYTimes]

HAPPENING TODAY — ADL’s National Leadership Summit in DC: At 8:30am, Jeffrey Goldberg will interview Knesset Member Yair Lapid and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer speaks on U.S. – Israel relations at 11:45am. At 1pm, ADL’s Stacy Burdett moderates a panel on ADL issues in the 2016 election with the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus and Peter Madigan.[PressRelease] • Watch live [CSPAN]

COMING SOON — Paris Peace Summit to Proceed Despite Israeli Concerns: “Paris is to host an international meeting in May of 20 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to discuss the peace process. Israel and the Palestinians have not been invited. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his one-day visit Sunday. Netanyahu said that direct negotiations, without preconditions, are the best way to reach a final agreement and that “any other attempt only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict.”” [AP]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Mark Cuban: It would have been ‘fun’ to run against Donald Trump, but it’s too late” [CNNMoney] • “Two Industry Assistants Team to Launch Private Membership Club Gatekeepers”[HollywoodReporter] • “Art collector, Entourage actress and a beer entrepreneur: New York socialites and business execs exposed in the Panama Papers” [DailyMail]

STARTUP NATION: “How Israel is turning part of the Negev Desert into a cyber-city” by Ellen Nakashima and William Booth: “You will not find it in the United States,” said Eviatar Matania, the head of the National Cyber Bureau. “First, we have more enemies than others. We understand that the cyberthreat is here and now. Second, a lot of Israel’s high-tech and innovation culture is in cyber. This is where we can gain an advantage over other countries in defending ourselves. And thus, we see cyber not just as a threat to mitigate, but also as one of our economic engines.” [WashPost]

“Project aims to remove explosives left after 1967 war, giving pilgrims improved access to churches and monasteries” by Rory Jones: “Israel cleared a part of the baptismal site in 2011 and it has since become a popular attraction for visiting Christian pilgrims. Now Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to allow U.S. and U.K.-based demining group HALO Trust to clear the rest of the site—about 136 acres. HALO and Israeli defense officials estimate the area is littered with more than 3,000 antipersonnel and antitank mines and an unknown number of improvised explosive devices. The plan is to clear all the mines within two years.” [WSJ]

“How solar brought Muslims and Jews together in one West Bank village” by Lonnie Shekhtman: “The $100,000 project is harnessing solar energy to power the drawing of water from deep underground to irrigate a grove of palms growing the prized Medjool dates. It is the first large project to be funded by both Jews and Muslims in the United States – including former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – and to be operated by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims on the ground. The solar array is providing an economic boost to 45 farming families in this town of 5,000 Palestinians on the eastern flank of the West Bank who struggle with scarce water and unreliable and expensive electricity.” [CSMonitorNYTimes]

LongRead: “Lights! Camera! Suction! How A Plastic Surgeon Became A Snapchat Sensation: Can this Orthodox Jewish father of five take his gimmick mainstream and still preserve his identity?” by Marisa Carroll: “An Orthodox Jewish, Floridian dad may seem like the unlikeliest star of a platform targeted to teenagers. But early tomorrow morning, under the too-bright Florida sun, Salzhauer will drive through his tony neighborhood to a nondescript office building, pull out his phone, and become Dr. Miami, one of the biggest stars on Snapchat. “Look,” he says. “I think that if I wasn’t an Orthodox Jew, I would probably be divorced and have two kids and be living like some kind of degenerate. We pray three times a day. I have to put on tefillin and there are certain ritualistic things you do every single day. It’s like how someone in AA goes to a meeting at least a couple times a week to remind themselves: If you go off the path, you’re in the gutter. So that is what I’m hoping will work. And I also know that it could all go away.”” [BuzzFeed]

“The Art Museum in Steve Tisch’s Backyard” by Brooks Barnes: “The building, which rose over the last 18 months on what was previously Mr. Tisch’s tennis complex, is a two-story, 4,500-square-foot mini-museum. This was the dramatic reveal. “It has just been finished; the paint is literally just dry,” Mr. Tisch told his guests, including Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, who had pored through Mr. Tisch’s collection to select and organize the artworks on display. “For the Jews here, tonight is the bris.” Everyone laughed. “That’s the Tush!” J. Ben Bourgeois, a longtime friend, said with admiring gusto, using his cheeky nickname for Mr. Tisch.” [NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Sheryl Sandberg’s 2016 Commencement Address at University of California, Berkeley: “One year and thirteen days ago, I lost my husband, Dave… Dave’s death changed me in very profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning. I’m sharing this with you in the hopes that today, as you take the next step in your life, you can learn the lessons that I only learned in death.  Lessons about hope, strength, and the light within us that will not be extinguished.” [TranscriptVideo]

Condolences to Ambassador Norman Eisen on the untimely passing of his brother, Stephen. The funeral will take place on Monday in Los Angeles.

BIRTHDAYS: Real estate developer Charles Kushner, and ‘mechutan’ of Donald Trump, turns 62… Tribe Media President David Suissa… Real estate mogul and collector of modern and contemporary art, Aby J. Rosen turns 56… Proto-punk singer, songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Richman turns 62… Harvard history professor, Emma Georgina Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild banking family of England, turns 68… Actress, television personality and author, Tori Spelling turns 43… Actor and Travel Channel personality, Adam Richman turns 42… Businessman and former CEO of Warner Music Group, Edgar Bronfman Jr. turns 61… Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon… AIPAC’s Natalie Epelman… Sally Oren (yesterday)…

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May
13

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Daily Kickoff: Sheldon finally endorses a candidate | How Jeffrey Schottenstein & LeBron came up with TACKMA | Israel’s lab for growing desert wines

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SCENE LAST NIGHT: Approximately 700 guests of the Israeli Embassy gathered last night at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in D.C. for the annual Israeli Independence Day celebration. ‘Machers, Schnooks and D.C. Cave Dwellers’ schmoozed and networked over Israeli wine and Italian fare. Ambassador Ron Dermer thanked White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough for attending noting, “Having worked in a similar position for Prime Minister Netanyahu, I know that it is never easy to get away – so Denis, I appreciate you being with us.”

Amb. Dermer on differences with the White House: “Now, ladies and gentlemen, there is no denying that Israel has had differences with the Obama administration over the best way to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and over the best way to advance a secure peace with the Palestinians. But the test of a relationship between two countries is not how strong it is when their two governments see eye-to-eye but rather how strong it is when they don’t – and the relationship between Israel and America has passed that test with flying colors.” [Transcript]

Ed note: Apologies in advance if we missed you at last evening’s event. Tevi Troy joked that today’s Daily Kickoff would simply state “Spotted: Everyone” while Rabbi Jack Moline suggested we only list the few folks who were not at the event. 

SPOTTED: Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, new JLOTUS Chanan Weissman, Cruz Chief of Staff Paul Teller sporting his new handmade Lucchese boots [Pic], DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, AIPAC’s Howard Kohr and Bob Cohen, Alan & Judy Gross, State Department’s Ira Forman, Ambassador Norm Eisen tweeting up a storm, Congressman Ted Deutch, Douglas Feith, Schusterman Foundation’s Lisa Eisen and Mary Ann Weiss, State’s Matt Nosanchuk, Brookings’ Dan Arbell, Phil Rosen, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, MassChallenge’s Clara Scheinmann, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Joshua Landes, OU’s Nathan Diament, Victoria Coates, David Milstein, Rabbi Sid Schwarz, William & Heidi Krizer Daroff, Gabriel Scheinmann, Liz Leibowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, Eli Lake, Noah Pollak, Embassy Chief of Staff Jordana Cutler, Steve Rabinowitz, Jeremy Deutsch, Aaron Weinberg, Yarden Golan, Katie Glueck, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Ambassador David Saperstein, Sarah Arkin, B’nai B’rith’s Dan Mariaschin, Jonny Fluger, Jeremy Furchtgott, Ezra Friedlander, AEPi’s Andy Borans, Joseph Raskas, Ezra Gontownik, Julia Schulman, Melissa Weiss, and Mira Kogen Resnick.

Flashback to last year’s event: “White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was spotted coming out from backstage, minutes before Biden’s speech, to grab a few kosher potato puffs off the buffet.” [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “I endorse Donald Trump for president” by Sheldon G. Adelson: “I’ve spent time talking to Donald Trump. Do I agree with him on every issue? No. But it’s unlikely that any American agrees with his or her preferred candidate on every issue… Despite being the grandson of a Welsh coal miner and the son of a Boston cab driver, I’ve had the remarkable experience of being part of almost 50 different businesses in my more than 70-year business career. So, tell me I’m not a conservative enough Republican or I’m too hawkish on Israel or whatever else you may think, but I think I’ve earned the right to talk about success and leadership.” [WashPost]

TWEETS — Shane Goldmacher: Still pretty surprising that Sheldon Adelson’s first endorsement of 2016 is for Donald Trump” • Maggie Haberman: “No mention of Adelson’s primary issue beyond his casinos – Israel – in this op-ed” • Jon Ralston: “Sheldon loves Donald, endorses him in WaPo. Um, Sheldon, you could have done that in your own paper!”

“Journalists Wait for Donald Trump, but Meet Only His Papier-Mâché Model” by Ashley Parker: “As the crowd waited for Mr. Trump, the diverse group of demonstrators — a gaggle of undocumented immigrants, a small cabal of women from the protest group Codepink, and a lone man holding a “Rabbis Against Trump” sign — all vied for attention.” [NYTimes• Shofar sighting [Video]

“No, Donald Trump has not softened his stance on banning Muslims” by Jenna Johnson:“The latest confusion over Trump’s position stemmed from two meandering interviews on Wednesday that led to reports he was retreating in some way from his anti-Muslim policy… Except that Trump has not actually walked anything back. The presumptive Republican nominee still wants to ban nearly all members of the world’s fastest-growing religion from entering the United States in an effort to prevent terrorist attacks.” [WashPost]

David Petraeus: “Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists” [WashPost]

“Temporary Job Opening” by comedian Gary Rudoren, spouse of the NYTimes’ Jodi Rudoren: “The United States of America and Israel are currently looking for a qualified professional to fill the job opening of “President of the United States” in January 2017. Qualified candidates should submit resumes highlighting their experience and thoughts on the U.S.-Israel relationship as well as examples from their past and sober (or outrageous) declarations on the future.” [MomentMag]

“Can Ted Cruz Make Friends, Influence People, And Run For President Again?” by Rosie Gray: “Former Bush administration deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, who was one of Cruz’s national security advisers, also encouraged Cruz to do more work for the party. “He will spend the next few years I assume doing a lot of appearances around the country and I think the best way for him to combat this constant series of hits, particularly from other Republican senators, is just to make himself better known,” Abrams said, suggesting Cruz “get around the country making speeches for Republican state parties, and for candidates running for [the] House and Senate who invite him.”” [BuzzFeed]

Ted Cruz in today’s NYTimes: “America cannot stand idly by while Iran threatens our ally Israel” [NYTimes]

“Trump called Lindsey Graham to discuss national security” by Jessie Hellmann: “The conversation, which lasted about 15 minutes according to the statement, “centered on the national security threats” facing the United States. “I gave him my assessment about where we stand in the fight against [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and the long-term danger posed by the Iranian nuclear deal. He asked good questions,” Graham said.” [TheHillPolitico]

“White House defends aide, fires back at House GOP” by Kathleen Hennessey: “White House spokesman Josh Earnest did not rule out the possibility that deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes would testify before the House oversight committee at a Tuesday hearing on “White House narratives on the Iran deal.” But Earnest tried to brush off the request from Chairman Jason Chaffetz by casting the Utah Republican’s hearing as political theater and challenging the GOP case against the agreement. “I think there are some people who have some explaining to do when it comes to the wildly false accusations that they made about the Iran deal. And it’s not the administration. It’s Republicans who are demonstrably wrong when it comes to the Iran deal,” Earnest said.” [AP]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “It’s the Billionaires vs. the Millionaires in This Hawaiian Resort War” [Businessweek] • David Geffen buys Hamptons home to the tune of $70M [NYPost] • “Ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel are losing the Internet war” [WashPost• “Israel: The going gets rough for diamonds — Exchange is urged to beef up regulation after a trader was accused of fraud” [FinancialTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “What TACKMA means on LeBron James’ hat and on the billboard outside Quicken Loans Arena” by Joe Vardon: “Jeffrey Schottenstein wanted you to know what the part-T, part-lightning bolt on LeBron James’ hat means. So Schottenstein put up two billboards in Cleveland, including one near The Q, visible from the I-90 bridge heading into the city, with the logo featured prominently on both. And TACKMA stands for “They All Can Kiss My (expletive)… James calls not just Jeffrey Schottenstein, but his brothers and father – modern-day patriarch and entrepreneur Jay Schottenstein – his “family.” He said he met the Schottensteins playing state championship basketball games for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at “The Schott,” the main hoops arena on Ohio State’s campus.”

“James learned to tune out his critics in 2011-12, his first of two championship seasons. You could say he adopted a TACKMA attitude, and it worked for him. But the mantra is not his. Schottenstein said he developed it in 2010 while frustrated in his attempt to make his own mark as an entrepreneur and step outside the family’s shadow. He started using TACKMA on shoes and shirts he created through the Nike ID program, and handed them out to family and friends. “I wanted to do something on my own,” Schottenstein said. “I have the capital, I’m blessed to have the capital to do this. I wanted to do something entrepreneurial, grow something from the ground up. TACKMA is bred from that frustration.””[Cleveland]

TRANSITIONS — JDC Names David Schizer its New CEO: “The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is delighted to name David Schizer as its next CEO. Schizer – the Dean Emeritus of Columbia Law School and a noted Jewish community leader – will take the helm of the global Jewish humanitarian organization on January 1, 2017, pending his approval by the JDC Board at its regular Board Meeting next week.” [JDC]

New White House appointment: “Dr. John Ruskay, Appointee for Member, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Dr. John Ruskay is a partner at JRB Consulting Services, a position he has held since 2014. Dr. Ruskay is currently the Executive Vice President-Emeritus of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, where he previously served as Executive Vice President & CEO from 1999 to 2014.” [WhiteHouse]

HUMANS OF NEW YORK features _super_avi — “I’ve thought about what I would say if I could go back in time, and talk to myself before I got cancer. I’d say get ready to not be who you are right now. And get ready to deal with a lot of disappointments and pain. And just keep strong. And never give up. And don’t lock yourself in your room if you get sad or angry. Because nobody can help you if you’re in your room and the problem will get worse. And stop fighting with your brothers and sisters. Because you’re really going to need them soon and they are going to help you so much. And keep watching sports. Because those are really going to cheer you up.” [Facebook]

DESSERT: “Desert wines: How to grow grapes where the ground is a griddle: Daniel Kish once speared fish for a living. Now he makes wine in Israel’s Negev desert. Sipping on Shoshanna, a spicy blend of petite sirah, zinfandel, merlot and shiraz named after his mother, he explains why winemaking there can be so hard. The ground is rocky and parched. The sun is fearfully hot. And the local Thomson’s gazelles adore grapes. “You’ve opened a restaurant in the desert. So of course animals are going to eat,” he says. Mr Kish produces between 6,000 and 7,000 bottles of wine a year; he reckons each costs 45 shekels ($12) to make. They sell for just over twice that at his vineyard on Kish Farm. Keeping the process kosher is costly.” [Economist]

“From Chile to Tokyo: The boom of kosher restaurants worldwide” by Yaniv Pohoryles: “According to Jonathon Myron, the founder of the free mobile app, the precise number of kosher restaurants in the world is constantly changing due to the rapid turnover of openings and closures. The most recent numbers, however, indicate that there are between 3,500-4,000 kosher restaurants in the world, at least 800 of which are located in New York alone.” [YNet]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Actress, writer, producer and director, best known as the creator, writer and star of the HBO series “Girls,” Lena Dunham turns 30… Lawyer, businessman and philanthropist, Sir Sydney Lipworth QC turns 85… Film, television and stage actress, Zohra Lampert turns 79… Actor and producer Harvey Keitel turns 77… UK Labour Party MP since 2010, Luciana Berger turns 35… Technion professor of computer science, Orna Grumberg turns 64… ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor and football sideline reporter, Suzy Kolber turns 52…  Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Howard Wolfson, former Deputy Mayor of NYC, turns 49… Facebook’s chairman, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg turns 32… Canadian molecular biologist and pioneer in human genetics, Louis Siminovitch turns 96… Actor David Krumholtz turns 38… Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, known for her role as Tony Soprano’s daughter, Meadow, turns 35… Google’s Raquel Saxe, alum of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy…

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May
12

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Daily Kickoff: Meet Obama’s new White House Jewish Liaison | Why Iran’s ‘moderates’ prefer Trump to Clinton | Inside Israel’s Secret Startup Machine

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EXCLUSIVE — Meet the new White House Jewish Liaison: The Obama Administration is set to name a new liaison to the Jewish community later today, Jewish Insider has learned. Chanan Weissman will make the transition from the State Department to the White House, becoming the first Modern Orthodox Jew to assume this position for a Democratic administration, according to several sources we spoke with.

Most recently, Weissman served as a spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Matt Nosanchuk, who held the Jewish liaison position for nearly three years, recently transferred to the State Department, à la ‘Trading Places,’ where he is working as a senior advisor in the Office of Religion and Global Affairs. Observers can debate the respective perks of Foggy Bottom and Pennsylvania Avenue but only one job comes with the pressure of managing the Administration’s relationship with a community rarely described as ‘shy.’

The eighth year of any White House presents its own unique challenges. Administrations often cede the spotlight to the election season. President Obama has stressed he will not be a lame-duck president, and questions remain about whether the White House will attempt another push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the final year. According to Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat who participated in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations following the Camp David summit in 2000, there’s no doubt that at some point between now and January 2017, Obama will seek to outline his own version of the Bill Clinton parameters before leaving office. If the White House decides to refocus on the Middle East, one can expect Weissman to play a critical role. [JewishInsider]

Ambassador Norman Eisen: “I first met Chanan years ago at the hashkama minyan at Kesher Israel in DC, when he was starting his career at the State Department. Over cholent, we talked about working in government as observant Jews. I said to myself, someday he will be in the White House.  Now he is! He will be a great White House Jewish liaison, continuing the high standard set by Matt and all his predecessors.”

Tevi Troy, a Bush 43 Jewish Liaison and the second Orthodox Jew to hold the position, tells us: “Congrats to Chanan. I think he’ll do great. I think there’s an advantage but also a challenge to being an Orthodox Jew in this position. The advantage is that you have instant credibility within the community as knowledgable and credible representing the community. The challenge is that the bulk of American Jews are not Orthodox and you have to show you can reach out to all.”

Former Jewish Liaison Scott Arogeti, who was appointed during the final year of the George W. Bush Administration, passed along this note to Chanan: “Being appointed White House Jewish Liaison midway through the final year of an Administration is an honor, and yet one that also comes with a unique challenge. How do you move the ball down the field effectively at a point where the campaign season for your boss’s successor is already in full swing (taking media and public attention along with it) and most major policy battles are likely in the rear view mirror?”

“What accomplishments do you point to in making the case that the Administration you represent has improved the lives of members of the Jewish community? What issues do you champion in attempting to break through the clutter and make your mark? From the last person to have this honor for President George W. Bush to the one who will presumably follow suit for President Obama, I wish you the best. (…oh, and good luck with the final Hannukah Party list!)”

“GOP Jews Want To Hear More From Trump” by Stewart Ain: “Daniel Retter, a New York lawyer who has provided the Trump campaign with ideas on how to handle the estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants living illegally in the U.S., said he recently provided the campaign with the names of potential donors. “There are some very heavy-duty people who gave money to the Rubio campaign, and I’m trying to convince the Trump campaign to reach out to them,” he said. “They are Jewish people with serious bucks who in the past have supported Rubio and [former Florida Gov. Jeb] Bush. They are now just waiting to see if Trump represents their values.”” [JewishWeek]

GOP donor Rich Roberts tells Jared Sichel: “I think Trump has a chance to be very good and I think people are ready for someone who’s going to come in and break up some of that status quo. Trump is now reaching out to experts in a lot of different areas, and that’s a big relief to know that he’s doing that.”

“Jewish Republicans in doubt about Trump” by Robert Wiener: “While he believes Trump “will be good on the issue of Israel because he understands the issue,” Chouake said he may be open to crossing party lines in November if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. “I think Hillary has a record to show for her support of U.S.-Israel relations that is important to a lot of her constituents,” he said.” [NJJN]

“Why many of Iran’s ‘moderates’ say they prefer Trump to Clinton” by Jeremy Shapiro and Ellie Geranmayeh: “Trump is a man Iranians can do with business with… Clinton is known in Tehran as the “sanctions lady,” the person who orchestrated international buy-in to the unprecedented sanctions regime against Iran in 2010 that had a crippling impact on the Iranian economy. Many Iranians we spoke with are concerned that under a Clinton presidency, the United States will introduce a new wave of secondary sanctions to confront Iran’s regional behavior.” [Vox]

Fact Checker: “Kerry’s claim that Iran has only received ‘$3 billion’ from the nuclear deal” by Glenn Kessler: “This was always Iran’s money, but the total amount made available remains unclear. That number reflects only what Iran has transferred back to the country, and belies the fact that U.S. officials are actively urging banks to give Iran even more access to the international banking system. We’re not sure why Kerry used the figure–which he has not repeated–and he did note that the official U.S. government estimate is $55 billion. But that doesn’t excuse such a lowball number, especially if Kerry is arguing that administration claims on the deal have been truthful.” [WashPost]

Suzanne Maloney: “Deception and the Iran deal: Did the Obama administration mislead America, or did the Rhodes profile?” [Brookings]

ON THE HILL: “Senate rejects amendment that inflamed tensions over Iran nuclear deal” by Karoun Demirjian: “Democrats were blocking consideration of the annual energy and water appropriations bill to protest Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) proposal to prevent the United States from using federal funds to purchase heavy water, which is used in some nuclear fuel reactors, from Iran. The Obama administration made clear it considered the proposal a “poison pill” that would cause the president to veto the bill. To get around the standoff, Republican leaders scheduled a vote on Cotton’s amendment but set a threshold of 60 votes for it to be adopted. The vote was 57 to 42.” [PowerPost]

“Harry Reid to Rep. Alan Grayson: ‘I want you to lose'” by Burgess Everett: “Rep. Alan Grayson angrily confronted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday, disrupting a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in front of dozens of staffers and members of Congress. As each member took a turn to speak to Reid, it was Grayson’s turn. He asked Reid if the Nevada senator knows who he is. After Reid answered in the affirmative, Grayson went on the attack. “Say my name, senator. Say my name,” Grayson told Reid as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tried to shut down the confrontation… Grayson responded by angrily waving a printout of Reid’s searing quote that called on Grayson to drop out of the primary race against Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.). “Why’d you say that?” Grayson said, insisting Reid’s statement was false. Reid calmly faced his inquisitor: “I want you to lose. It’s true.”” [Politico]

**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: “David Rubenstein: Next President Likely to Face Recession” [Bloomberg• “Sam Zell Still Says Sell” [Fortune] • “New Rubashkin claims garner support from former attorneys general, judges” [DesMoinesRegister• “Clinton Son-in-Law’s Firm Is Said to Close Greece Hedge Fund” [DealBook• “How to raise money in Israel: A developer’s guide” [RealDeal]

STARTUP NATION: “Inside Israel’s Secret Startup Machine” by Richard Behar: “Much has been made of Israel’s status as “Startup Nation.” Not even the size of New Jersey, with a population smaller than New York City’s, Israel is home to more Nasdaq-listed companies than any country except the U.S. and China. On a per capita basis Israel boasts more venture capital, more startups and more scientists and tech professionals than any other country in the world. To understand these dizzying numbers, you need to understand the mysterious Unit 8200.” [Forbes]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Israel celebrates 68th birthday after solemn Memorial Day: “In a jarring contrast, Israel transitioned Wednesday night from melancholic reflection to remember its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism to joyous Independence Day festivities in celebration of 68 years since the modern Jewish state was formed.” [AP]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC: Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon hosted a special showing of “Fiddler on the Roof” at a Broadway Theatre in honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day. “While I was backstage, I asked if I could play the role of Tevye. I started to sing, ‘If I were a rich man…’ But they told me to stick to be an ambassador,” Danon joked at the start of the evening. SPOTTED: Ambassador Samantha Power, Deputy Ambassador David Roet, Jack and Phyllis Rosen, Greg and Marti Rosenbaum, Michael Miller, Malcolm Hoenlein, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Rabbi Marc Schneier, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, Ronn Torossian, and Elie Bennett.

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT: “The fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg was being honored at the 20th Annual Heritage Dinner at the Museum of Jewish Heritage… Annette de la Renta, Anh Duong, Hamilton South, Seth and Alexi Meyers (on her first night out since having a baby six weeks ago), interior designer Ariel Ashe, Michael Rourke and Wes Powell, Starwood’s Barry Sternlicht and HBO’s Sheila Nevins were just some of the guests who came to support Ms. von Furstenberg.”

“In Belgium in May of 1944, her mother, Liliane Nahmias, was arrested and shipped to Auschwitz. Somehow, she survived and was liberated 13 months later, returning home a mere 49 pounds. Even today, Ms. von Furstenberg explained, “all I read is books on the Holocaust, all I see is movies about the Holocaust,” adding that sometimes her friends mock her for her continued and constant interest. “But I still to this day cannot believe my own mother was there. I am her torch of freedom.”” [WSJ]

“18 of the Most Gadol Jewish People in Fashion” by Nora Crotty: “May is Jewish American heritage month. To honor this momentous occasion, I’ve chosen to highlight 18 (18!) of the most fashion-forward chosen people in the biz.” [Yahoo]

“The paradox of feeling too Jewish — and not Jewish enough” by Ruth Margolis: “Sometimes, I feel like I might have my “Jew” card confiscated for knowing so much less about my birth culture and religion than even non-Jewish New Yorkers. But there are over two million Jews in New York. Jewish culture is woven into the city so you can’t help but soak it up. There are just 269,000 Jews in the whole of the U.K. Back home, I’m a rare bird; here, I’m just another nose.” [TheWeek]

“I Threw My Dog a Bark Mitzvah and All I Got Was This Lousy Jewish Guilt” by Peter Moskowitz: “It wasn’t that celebrating dogs was bad, he said. Judaism has a conflicted relationship with dogs. Jewish scripture tends to paint them as symbols of greed, noise, dirt, and general mischievousness. But other passages view those who take care of animals, though not specifically dogs, as shepherds, even heroes. It was elevating a dog to the human level that offended my uncle.” [Racked]

LongRead: “When Do You Give Up on Treating a Child With Cancer?” by Melanie Thernstrom: “Andrew Levy’s parents knew that the rare and deadly cancer in his blood could not be beaten, so they began to prepare for the worst. Then something mysterious happened… Dan founded a sports-related start-up, then became vice president of small business at Facebook, while Esther worked at Kurbo, a start-up focused on weight management for kids, and taught spin classes at a Jewish community center for fun. Their own families were stable and close-knit; to recall any true adversity in either family, they had to think back to a grandmother of Dan’s whose family perished in the Holocaust.” [NYTimesMag]

DESSERT: “McDonald’s: NSW man loses fight to register ‘McKosher’ trademark for Jewish Scottish restaurant” by Giselle Wakatama: “The trademark applicant, Mark Glaser, told the office hearing he was of Scottish Jewish descent and his ancestors’ surnames included McKosher, MacAdoo, Beadle, Zimmerman, Rosenthal and Glaser. He said he hoped to open a Scottish and Jewish restaurant bearing the name McKosher. But the fast-food giant noted calls by a group of powerful rabbis in Jerusalem for the chain to rebrand kosher-friendly restaurants there as McKosher. “The Jerusalem Rabbinate refuses to certify any of the chain outlets in the capital as kosher so long as there are any non-kosher branches in the city,” McDonald’s lawyers said. “The solution suggested by the Rabbinate is a renaming of the kosher McDonald’s branches to ‘McKosher’.” [ABC]

BIRTHDAYS: Matthew Hiltzik, founder of strategic communications and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies, turns 44… Composer, songwriter, record producer, pianist and singer, Burt Bacharach, who won three Academy Awards and six Grammys, turns 88… British lawyer and member of the House of Lords, Baron Joel Goodman Joffe, turns 84… World reknowned architect and master planner for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, Daniel Libeskind, turns 70…

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