Jul
26

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Daily Kickoff: Congress passes sanctions bill curbing Trump’s power | How Bibi finally reached Jordan’s King Abdullah | Bob Kraft’s advice to Trump

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FIRST LOOK — Catching up with Eric Cantor: “If You’ve Got That Anger Working for You, You’re Gonna Let It Be” by Elaina Plott: “The 54-year-old now sits on several boards and is a Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Moelis & Company, a boutique investment firm in New York. His work takes him to Davos and Dubai and Tokyo, often just about anywhere but Washington or his old district… But Cantor is still painstakingly abreast of what’s going on in the Capitol, texting often with members such as Kevin McCarthy, his successor, and Patrick McHenry, chief deputy whip, to offer advice and then popping up on cable news to reassure Republicans that the party is just going through “growing pains.”

“While he won’t go so far as to say Trump’s presidency has been a “disaster,” as Boehner recently put it, Cantor admits he’s less than charmed by the state of the West Wing: “The lack of humility right now in the system is striking to me. I’m worried about Trump’s rhetoric. . . . If things keep going like they are now without any real progress, it’s a problem for electoral victories for our party.”” [Washingtonian]

IRAN DEAL — Trump hints at abandoning the Iran nuclear deal when certification comes up again in an interview with the WSJ: “We’ve been extremely nice to them in saying they were compliant,” Mr. Trump said. “Personally, I have great respect for my people, but if it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.” He added: “We’ll talk about the subject in 90 days but I would be surprised if they were in compliance.” [WSJ] • President [Rouhani] says Iran will ‘respond’ if US missile law passes [AP]

HEARD YESTERDAY – Trump talks Iran at a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio: “If that deal doesn’t conform to what it’s supposed to conform to, it’s going to be big, big problems for them. That I can tell you. Believe me. You would have thought they would have said ‘Thank you, United States. We really love you very much.’ Instead, they’ve become emboldened. That won’t take place much longer.”

“U.S. Navy ship fires warning shots near Iranian vessel” by Idrees Ali: “In a statement, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said the patrol craft, named Thunderbolt, fired the warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel after it ignored radio calls, flares and the ship’s whistle… A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Iranian boat was armed but that the weapons were unmanned.” [Reuters]

ON THE HILL — After weeks of uncertainty, the House overwhelmingly passed sanctions legislation against Russia, Iran and North Korea yesterday. The bipartisan vote (419-3) is similar to the bill that won support in the Senate to target Moscow and Tehran. The White House had lobbied against parts of the measure due to fears that this would weaken his authority and impede on relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The three votes opposing the measure all came from Republicans: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Tom Massie (R-KY), and John Duncan (R-TN). “This is a strong, bipartisan bill that will increase the United States’ economic and political leverage,” Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) said.

The White House made no commitment about signing the bill into law. WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement: “While the President supports tough sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia, the White House is reviewing the House legislation and awaits a final legislative package for the President’s desk.”

“House passes Russia sanctions bill, setting up veto dilemma for Trump” by Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian: “Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters Monday that he expects the House bill to pass the Senate, with “minor details” about procedure still to be worked out. Corker said he was exploring ways to ensure the bill would be sent to Trump before the end of the week, when House members are set to leave Washington for a five-week recess. “We’d like to get this thing passed and into law,” he said.” [WashPost]

Congressional hearing highlights the plight of Americans jailed in Iran — by Aaron Magid: Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) chaired yesterday an emotional hearing at the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee which included testimonies by Doug Levinson, the son of Bob Levinson along with Omar Zakka, the brother of detained American Nizzar Zakka. “We are desperate. We have endured the turnover of three administrations,” pleaded Levinson whose father is the longest held civilian hostage in American history. “We have met with anybody and everybody that will listen. We don’t know what else we can possibly do.” Doug Levinson currently works as a Congressional staffer for Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “Year after year, we’ve witnessed U.S. administration officials fail to make my father the priority that he needs to be,” noted Levinson. “We are hopeful with this new administration, but we’ve heard these promises before. We need action.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL): “Iran’s outrageous disregard for international law should give every country, every company – especially every American company, pause as to whether this is a country they should welcome back into the community of nations.” [JewishInsider]

“Metal Detectors Vanish, but Tensions in East Jerusalem Remain” by Isabel Kershner: “President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said the suspension of ties and security coordination with Israel would also continue until Israel removed all additional security measures from the area and pending an examination of the situation.” [NYTimes]

White House statement: “Israel has removed the recently installed magnetometers and cameras, despite the demonstrated need to enhance security at the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif in the wake of the murder of two Israeli police officers at the site on July 14. The United States applauds the efforts of Israel to maintain security while reducing tensions in the region.”

BEHIND THE SCENES: “Jared Kushner Called Jordanian King at Height of Embassy Crisis With Israel and Asked Him to Help” by Barak Ravid: “Netanyahu had tried unsuccessfully Sunday night to reach Jordan’s King Abdullah, who was on the American west coast at the time, to ask him to intervene in resolving the crisis. Netanyahu also called Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and asked him to seek help from the highest level at the White House… Dermer called… Jared Kushner, and America’s special peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt and asked them for help. A senior Israeli official said that Kushner and Greenblatt updated Trump about the developing crisis in Jordan… Trump instructed the two to intervene with the Jordanians and prevent the crisis from escalating… Kushner contacted high-level officials in the Jordanian government and during the night between Sunday and Monday (Israel time) managed to reach Abdullah.” [Haaretz]

“A crisis in the Middle East? Trump would rather play golf” by Yoav Fromer: “Israeli officials used to call Obama naïve and Secretary of State Kerry messianic. I wonder what they would say about Kerry’s successor, Rex Tillerson, who is pleading the Fifth when it comes to Israel. If anyone can remember the last time Tillerson said anything about Israel or showed an interest, they had better update the guys at the Foreign Ministry, because as far as they’re concerned, he has gone AWOL… Netanyahu was so happy when Obama left the White House, but at least he had someone to call during moments of crisis like this. It’s possible he did pick up the phone and call Trump on Sunday, but I’m not sure he had anyone to talk to this time.” [Ynet]

REXATION: “Tillerson ‘taking a little time off’ amid exit rumors” by Chris Perez: “State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday refused to say whether Tillerson was happy in his position, but she did reveal that he had been on vacation this week — despite there being numerous foreign policy issues to deal with.” [NYPost]

“Rexit? Don’t quit yet, Secretary Tillerson” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: “As ineffectual, at times, as Tillerson has been, it cannot be assumed that things couldn’t get any worse under new management. For all his stumbles, the Secretary of State has gotten a few big things right… He has moderated some of Trump’s worst instincts, such as walking away from the nuclear deal with Iran… For all those who hope to wish Tillerson an early and happy retirement, be careful what you wish for, especially if his successor is more ideological and combative and less pragmatic than the more even-keeled Tillerson.” [CNN]

“Trump erroneously says Lebanon is ‘on the front lines’ fighting Hezbollah, a partner in the Lebanese government” by Anne Gearan: “President Trump lumped the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah among militants and terrorists he praised the government of Lebanon for fighting… The only problem? Hezbollah is a political partner of the man standing next to Trump, visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri… “Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah,” [Trump said at a news conference]… Speaking to reporters later Tuesday, Hariri said that Trump had been well-informed about Hezbollah during their meeting. He stepped carefully around the question of whether Trump did not understand the group’s political role and power.” [WashPost]

“Shockingly, Trump Doesn’t Know Who Hezbollah Are Or What They Do” by Benjamin Hart: “Coming amid the other typical madness of a day in the Trump administration – plus that health care vote – Trump’s not-really-excusable mistake barely caused a ripple.” [NYMag]

“Trump, Lebanese leader pledge solidarity against terrorism” by Darlene Superville: “When asked, Trump declined to offer a position on possible tighter sanctions against Hezbollah, but U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley took a hard line against the group on Tuesday. Haley urged the U.N. Security Council to acknowledge that Hezbollah… “is a destructive terrorist force” and “a major obstacle to peace” that is “dedicated to the destruction of Israel.” She said the council must get serious about enforcing its resolutions that have been routinely violated by Hezbollah and its backer Iran.”[AP]

PALACE INTRIGUE: Trump again criticizes Sessions, downplays West Wing feuds — by Gerard Baker, Peter Nicholas and Michael C. Bender: “During the interview, Mr. Trump appeared relaxed in the company of close aides, which included his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications, and Mr. [Gary] Cohn. Mr. Trump praised the arrival of Mr. Scaramucci… suggesting that he would help settle internal unrest and backbiting that has characterized the West Wing. He quipped that this type of palace intrigue was “White House stuff, where they’re fighting over who loves me the most.” Mr. Trump said he has no other immediate changes planned for his senior staff.” [WSJ] • Kushner’s Interest in Drug-Sentencing Limits Is at Odds With Attorney General [WSJ]

David Horowitz, who  has been described as Trump’s intellectual godfather, tweets: “I have to confess, I’m really distressed by Trump’s shabby treatment of Sessions… He made the decision because he’s a by the book conservative. It was a mistake. But so is humiliating him publicly.” [Twitter]

“For America, It Looks Like Chaos. For Trump, It’s Just Tuesday” by Michael Kruse: “Chaos creates drama, and drama gets ink,” former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg told me Tuesday. “This is a new kind of presidency. He’s followed the tabloid model, and it got him to where he is, and it’s the model that will be followed until it doesn’t work. And it has worked. He’s sitting in the Oval Office.” [Politico]

FROM TRUMP’S WSJ INTERVIEW: “You know, I was with Bob Kraft the other night. He came to have dinner with me. He’s a friend of mine. And as he left, he said, Donald, don’t worry about the rich people. Tax the rich people. You got to take care of the people in the country. It was a very interesting statement. I feel the same way.” [WSJ]

2018 WATCH: “Lawyer Who May or May Not Challenge Pascrell Has Raised $750K” by Alyana Alfaro: “Michael Wildes, an immigration lawyer from Englewood… seems to be gearing up for another run at [Rep. Bill] Pascrell in the 9th District. Exactly when he plans to mount that campaign — if ever — remains unclear. But Wildes has nearly $758,000 amassed in a campaign account, according to Federal Election Commission records… Last year, Wildes represented First Lady Melania Trump when claims emerged that she had illegally worked in the United States without a visa when she was a young model.” [Observer]

** 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: Tel Aviv-based startup Prospera, which uses AI and computer vision to guide farmers, harvests $15M [TC• Digital market analytics firm SimilarWeb raises $47 million [Reuters] •  Maniv Mobility Announces Close of First Mobility-only Fund, in excess of $40 million, in Israel [YahooGlobes] • Vega to launch two Earth Observation Satellites for Italy, Israel and France [SpaceDaily] • Israeli professor settles Mobileye insider trading case in U.S. [Reuters]

“Trump Says Cohn and Yellen Are Contenders to Lead the Fed” by Kate Davidson: “Mr. Trump reiterated that he thinks [Janet] Yellen is doing a good job and he has “a lot of respect for her,” and said she is still in the running to serve a second four-year term as leader of the central bank. But he said he also is considering replacing Ms. Yellen with [Gary] Cohn, who became Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council director… “He doesn’t know this, but yes he is,” he said, when asked if Mr. Cohn, who was present during the interview, was a candidate for the job. “I actually think he likes what he’s doing right now.” … As for Ms. Yellen, Mr. Trump said, “She is in the running, absolutely.” “I like her; I like her demeanor. I think she’s done a good job,” he said.” [WSJ]

MEDIA WATCH: “ABC News teams up with ATTN: to produce original news videos for social media” by Sarah Perez: “ABC News announced today it’s teaming up with digital media company ATTN: to develop original news videos that will be distributed across social media sites. The partnership aims to produce videos targeting audiences who no longer tune in to traditional news broadcasts aired on television. ATTN: was started in 2014 by Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno. The company is backed by over $22 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, including from Evolution Media Partners, Cash Warren, Main Street Advisors, Apollo Global Management co-founder Marc Rowan, Paul Watcher, RTS Ventures, Ryan Seacrest’s Seacrest Global Group, Troy Carter, and Ross Levinsohn.” [TechCrunch]

KAFE KNESSET — Yisrael Hayom says “Bye, Bibi.” — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Readers of Yisrael Hayom were shocked this morning to see the following headline: “Removing the metal detectors shows Netanyahu’s helplessness. Israel’s response to the terrorist attack on the Temple Mount was weak and panicked, and the step the Prime Minister took goes against his base of supporters.” Yisrael Hayom, in case you forgot, is the Sheldon Adelson-owned free daily newspaper. So, what is going on? The prevailing theory is that the paper is trying to distance itself from Netanyahu because of “Case 2000,” one of the many corruption cases relating to the PM. Case 2000 is the one in which the publisher of competing paper Yediot Aharonoth, Noni Mozes, offered Netanyahu positive coverage in exchange for support for a bill that would make Yisrael Hayom’s business model illegal. If there is proof that Adelson and Yisrael Hayom are in Netanyahu’s pocket, there might be some campaign finance issues added to the mix. So the solution is to try to prove to Attorney-General Avihai Mandelblit that they are not Netanyahu’s newspaper after all. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

“A young Palestinian vowed to die a martyr, then stabbed 3 members of an Israeli family to death” by William Booth: “Now into this volatile mix President Trump sends his untested Middle East team to make peace, led by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, special envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, all Jewish men with long histories of supporting Israel. This is what they will hear. “I blame Netanyahu for what my son has done. I blame him and the Israeli army for all the blood,” said Abdul Jaleel al-Abed, the knife attacker’s father, who gathered with neighbors at his home, which is now slated for demolition by Israel… “All of us would gladly die for al-Aqsa,” he said… He asked, “What about the Palestinians killed?” Around him, men began to scroll their mobile phones and point to videos showing an Israeli soldier kicking a Muslim worshiper or an Israeli security guard at a settlement firing his rifle at Palestinian protesters.” [WashPost]

ANTI BOYCOTT ACT: “Why an Effort to Thwart Some Boycotts of Israel Fails the Free-Speech Test” by Conor Friedersdorf: “The bill strikes me as constitutionally suspect even if [Ben] Cardin and [Rob] Portman are correct that only companies, not individuals, will be targeted for participating in some boycotts. If a U.S. citizen owns a chain of Mediterranean restaurants, or a plastic-widget factory, or a freight-forwarding service, and declines to do company business with a foreign country, in support of a UN-led boycott against what she regards as human-rights abuses there, it would be an outrage to punish her as a felon.” [TheAtlantic

“Israeli David Grossman’s Play Opens Lincoln Center; No BDS Protesters Show Up” by Taly Krupkin: “In recent weeks, more than 70 artists have called on organizers of this month’s Lincoln Center Festival to cancel the performance of “To the End of the Land,” based on a book by award-winning Israeli author David Grossman. Local police were gearing up for protesters at the debut, on Monday night… But as the cast, crew, guests and audience arrived, the space allocated for the demonstration remained empty: Not one BDS supporter showed up to protest the performance… Among those attending the premiere were Miri Regev, Israel’s culture minister, who in the past has advocated cessation of funding to productions that are critical of the State of Israel… “BDS helped us sell tickets,” said Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York, who was also on hand. “As soon as they heard about calls to boycott, supporters of Israel bought all the tickets.” “We made lemonade out of lemons!” laughed Regev.” [Haaretz

“Margaret Bergmann Lambert, Jewish High Jumper Excluded From Berlin Olympics, Dies at 103” by Ira Berkow: “Margarethe Minnie Bergmann… was an outstanding all-around athlete, excelling in the shot-put, the discus and other events as well as the high jump. “I was ‘The Great Jewish Hope,’ ” she often said. With anti-Semitism on the rise in Germany… she left home at 19 and moved to England, where she won the British high-jump championship in 1935. But when the Nazis pressured her father to bring her home, she returned to Germany to seek a position on the Olympic team. Shortly after winning that June meet, held at Adolf Hitler Stadium in Stuttgart, she received a letter from Nazi officials informing her that she had not qualified.. Her accomplishment was removed from the record book… Her German national high jump record was restored in 2009.” [NYTimes

DESSERT: “Israel Looks to Food Tourism to Attract a Different Kind of Visitor” by Dan Peltier: “Israel and Chef Solomonov launched a partnership last week to bring American journalists to the country for a taste of its various dishes during two press trips guided by Solomonov. The trips will show journalists a behind-the-scenes look at the many of Solomonov’s favorite restaurants around the country and that also highlight ways Israel’s food culture has changed in recent years. The tourism board hopes these freebie press trips turn into positive articles about the country’s food culture.” [Skift]

TRANSITION: Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) elected Dorothy Tananbaum to be its chairperson of the Board of Directors. Tananbaum is also a member of the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors and is the past chair of the Jewish Education Project of New York. She succeeds Stacy Schusterman.

Congrats to Tiffany Harris on being named to The Hill’s 2017 50 Most Beautiful List: “There are 195 countries in the world. Tiffany Harris has been to 67 of them — so far. But there’s one in particular that she can’t get enough of. “I keep finding myself going back to Israel,” Harris says, noting her Jewish roots. “It touches on all the things I really like about traveling and life.” The desk officer for Peace Corps headquarters says she stays active with CrossFit, yoga and biking.” [TheHill]

BIRTHDAYS: Photographer and documentary film maker, Elliott Erwittturns 89… Member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes turns 89… Mayor of Las Vegas (1999-2011), Oscar Goodman turns 78… Administrator at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston (1972-1982), chancellor of the California State University system (1991-1998) and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1998-2006), Barry Munitz turns 76… Member of the Florida House of Representatives since 2012, representing southern Broward County, Richard Stark turns 65… Sports columnist, author, television and radio personality, he works for ESPN’s Charlotte-based SEC Network since 2014, Paul Finebaum turns 61… Chief Medical Officer at Minnesota-based Medica (an insurer for 1.7 million members) and SVP and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Health Intelligence, Alan H. Spiro, MD, MBA turns 65… Israeli born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman turns 35… Israeli born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein turns 34… Kafe Knesset correspondent and self-described “political junkie,” Tal Shalev

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Jul
25

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Daily Kickoff: Evangelicals sing Kushner’s praises | Dershowitz disappointed with Trump admin on Temple Mount crisis | Dan Och bets big on 34-year-old

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DRIVING THE DAY: “House Russia investigators prepare for Jared Kushner’s second day on Capitol Hill” by Tom LoBianco: “The intensity could vary starkly from Kushner’s appearance before the Senate’s Russia investigators just a day earlier, with House Democrats saying they plan to probe for holes in Kushner’s 11-page public statement and also pry into his role. Kushner’s testimony Tuesday is behind closed doors.” [CNN

“What Jared Kushner’s Statement Reveals About Russian Methods” by Julia Ioffe: “Kushner’s description of the meeting is doubly strange, and, if accurate, shows [Russian banker Sergey] Gorkov to be a deft operator, skilled at getting his hooks into his subject. He gave Kushner two gifts: “a piece of art from Nvogorod, the village where my grandparents were from in Belarus,” and “a bag of dirt from the same village.” Though Kushner’s grandparents, both Holocaust survivors, were indeed from Belarus, it seems Kushner may have misremembered the name of the village: Nvogorod seems like a misspelling of Novgorod, one of two ancient cities in Russia by that name. In either case, it seems Gorkov did his research on Kushner—and wanted to show it.” [TheAtlantic]

“Who is the real Jared Kushner?” by Errol Louis: “The White House is asking us to believe that Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, is qualified to run point on an astoundingly broad portfolio of top-level domestic and international affairs, including negotiating Middle East peace… But according to his own statement to Congress, Kushner is so naive, inexperienced and disorganized that he knew nothing of the substance, purpose or fellow attendees of key meetings he sat in on… At a minimum, that doesn’t sound like the behavior of an official prepared to navigate the minutiae of Middle East diplomacy.” [CNN]

HEARD YESTERDAY — WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on AF1: “The president was very proud of Jared voluntarily going to the hill and being very transparent with every interaction that he’s had. He thought Jared did a great job and was very glad that he was able to go through that process and lay everything out and, I think, show the members of that committee as well as everybody else what a witch hunt and hoax this whole thing really is.”

“Jared Kushner has an unusual group is singing his praises: Evangelical leaders” by Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “The group praising Kushner included Southern Baptist pastors David Jeremiah, Robert Jeffress, Ronnie Floyd and Jack Graham, Maryland pastor Harry Jackson, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., former Liberty chaplain Johnnie Moore… Moore said that many evangelicals feel “a connectedness” to Kushner’s Orthodox Jewish faith because it’s so “seamlessly integrated in his life.” Many white evangelicals have warm attitudes toward Jews because they believe God has set them apart as chosen. White evangelicals rate Jews more positively than any other non-Christian religious group, but Jews rate white evangelicals least positively among Christian groups, according to the Pew Research Center.” [WashPost]

“New communications director moves toward possible staff purge at White House” by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker: “Wayne Berman, a longtime Republican operative whose name has been previously floated as a possible chief of staff, is scheduled to meet with Scaramucci on Tuesday at the White House, according to a person familiar with the meeting.” [WashPost

Scaramucci tells Andrew Ross Sorkin: “I was left for dead on the street, and now I’m headed for Air Force One,” Mr. Scaramucci said by phone on Monday, literally on his way toward Air Force One for a quick trip with the president to Beaver, W.Va. [DealBook]

KAFE KNESSET — Bibi would likely back Rudy for AG — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: As it was floated yesterday that Trump might be considering nominating Rudy Giuliani as his new attorney general, it is worth noting that the former NYC Mayor’s legal approach has a big fan in Jerusalem. Last month, Giuliani visited Israel and gave an interview to Walla’s Jacob Eilon. Eilon asked about politicians accepting gifts from friends, amidst the File 1000 investigation proceeding against Netanyahu. It has been alleged that Arnon Milchan supplied the Prime Minister with alcohol and cigars. “They should leave out the cigars, it is getting really petty and silly,” Giuliani replied.

“It looks like it is a politically inspired prosecution. I am very worried, not just here in Israel, but also in the US and all over the world, that we are now criminalizing politics. When there are political differences and the newspapers do not like you and some of your opponents don’t like you — they try to put you under criminal investigations. And personally, as a cigar aficionado, I am one of the most better known cigar smokers in America, they should leave out the cigars.” Netanyahu shared the Walla interview on his Facebook page and has been quoting Giuliani as a legal authority to prove his innocence ever since then. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — Far from the ‘ultimate deal’ President Trump is yearning for, the administration managed yesterday to facilitate an arrangement that ended a weekend standoff between Israel and Jordan following the embassy shooting and aimed at defusing tension in the Middle East over the Temple Mount. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump “for directing Jared Kushner and dispatching Jason Greenblatt to help with our efforts to bring the Israeli embassy staff home quickly.” Greenblatt traveled to Amman after meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem. “We encourage efforts that will help calm tensions [at the Temple Mount] but we leave it to the parties to determine what those efforts might be,” State Department spokeswoman Samantha Sutton told us. “We urge the relevant parties to continue their efforts to ensure the safety and security of this holy site. We leave it to the relevant parties to determine the most appropriate measures.”

Professor Alan Dershowitz told us that he was “disappointed” that Washington did not back Israel more wholeheartedly in this crisis. The Trump administration should have “unequivocally come down on the side of Israel and demand that there be metal detectors and videos to indicate that the highest priorities will be to save human lives and that the Palestinian Authority is dead wrong in using these murders as yet another excuse to incite violence,” he asserted. “I wish the U.S. would take a stronger stance on behalf of the safety and security of Israelis on the Temple Mount.”

The Palestinians are also upset with the Trump administration.Abbas’ dramatic call to cut security ties with Israel on Friday was partially due to feelings that Washington is not invested in finding a resolution to the ongoing conflict, noted FDD’s Grant Rumley. “They’re looking for a commitment not only to the status quo in Jerusalem but also the status quo in U.S. peacemaking, namely that the two-state solution is the destination for the peace process,” he said. “Without hearing that publicly, I think Abbas and the Palestinian leadership will continue to be skeptical of the administration.” According to Ofer Zalzberg, a senior Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group, “The administration seems to underestimate the importance of non-state stakeholders in this conflict: Most importantly, the Palestinian protestors and their leadership in East Jerusalem. Even if (Jordanian King) Abdullah would accept a formula, it’s far from clear that they would be able to get the public to support them to support it and cease the demonstrations.”

However, for Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf State Institute, much of the criticism of the Trump administration approach is unfair. The current U.S. policy is “hands-off, but at the same time I’m not sure how effective (former Secretary of State John) Kerry’s approach really was. It’s hard for me to be overly critical of what look likes a slower and more cautious approach,” Ibish noted. [JewishInsider

Daniel Shapiro writes… With Jerusalem Burning, President Trump Needs to Engage: “U.S. interventions to help deescalate are far more effective at the Presidential and Secretary of State level, because only the relevant heads of state and equivalent figures on the Israel, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Arab sides can take the necessary decisions… President Trump’s silence on these events… undercut his Administration’s diplomatic efforts. Likewise Secretary Tillerson’s complete and mysterious absence from the Israeli-Palestinian arena.” [Haaretz]

“Meeting lawmakers, US envoy hails role in ending Temple Mount crisis” by Raphael Ahren: “Speaking as a guest of the Knesset Caucus for US-Israel relations, in his first appearance at the Israeli parliament, [David] Friedman said he relished the opportunity for the US to play a role in resolving the dispute, describing Monday as a “14” on a scale from 1-10… “And with no fanfare, but a lot of hard work and behind-the scenes discussions by the senior officials in the US and, of course, the prime minister [of Israel] and the king of Jordan, we were able to diffuse a situation very quickly.” … In a gentle reproach to US President Donald Trump, opposition leader Isaac Herzog recommended that Washington get involved sooner the next time there is a major crisis in the region.” [ToI

ZOA calls for Tillerson’s resignation over State Department terrorism report — by Jacob Kornbluh: “In light of the U.S. State Department’s new, bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating error-ridden terrorism report, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) calls on Secretary of State Tillerson to resign,” the ZOA said in a statement. “The ZOA has lost all confidence in Secretary of State Tillerson in his ability to promote President Trump’s Mideast policies, be fair to our greatest ally, the Jewish State of Israel, and to fight the scourge of Islamist terrorism. Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah and ISIS must be thrilled with this Tillerson publication. ZOA calls for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s resignation.” [JewishInsider]

“Unrest bubbles among Trump’s key foreign policy aides: sources” by John Walcott: “[Rex] Tillerson scored a policy win last week when the administration certified, albeit reluctantly, that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear deal… He was upset, however, by fierce internal criticism from Trump, as well as his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and White House aide Sebastian Gorka, over the decision… “The secretary does not feel that White House staff members should be in a position to conduct hostile cross-(examinations) of Cabinet officials,” the official said.” [Reuters]

John Bolton: Trump Wants to Kill Iran Deal: “I’ve previously talked to him about Iran and nuclear proliferation several times. He sees this as a clear threat to the United States and our allies. Perhaps almost alone in government, President Trump sees this as an urgent matter, like the way he sees North Korea. I don’t think this is going to happen again when the next certification letter to congress is due 90 days from now.” [Tablet

“The Qatari foreign minister makes his nation’s case” by Ishaan Tharoor: “Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani… and other Qatari officials maintain that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with their courtship of a democratic political party like the Brotherhood, and pointed out that the other gulf states have their own links with Hamas and other Islamist groups. Thani insisted that Qatar has been working on curbing financing to terrorist and extremist groups elsewhere in the region and was coordinating its efforts with Washington… He also emphasized that there is “no special relationship” between Doha and Tehran, and pointed to how bilateral trade between the UAE and Iran was exponentially greater than Qatar’s.”[WashPost

ON THE HILL — The House of Representatives is expected to vote today on bipartisan legislation that would tighten sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. AIPAC is backing the current bill. “A nearly united Congress is poised to send President Putin a clear message on behalf of the American people and our allies, and we need President Trump to help us deliver that message,” noted Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. [CSPAN]

Press Sec. Sanders: “The President has been very vocal about his support for continuing sanctions on those three countries. He has no intention of getting rid of them, but he wants to make sure we get the best deal for the American people possible. Congress does not have the best record on that. I think you can look at NAFTA, you can look at the Iran deal, and the President wants to make sure that we actually get the best deal for the United States.”

HAPPENING LATER TODAY: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing highlighting the plight of American detainees in Iran. Douglas Levinson, the son of Bob Levinson who also works as a staffer in Senator Bob Menendez’s office (D-NJ) will testify along Omar Zakka, son of Nizar Zakka. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will be chairing the session.

Sen. Bob Menendez tells us… “As the longest held civilian in our Nation’s history, Bob’s detention is a cruel reminder of the ongoing injustice, human rights, and clear violations of international will perpetrated by the Iran regime. But despite the heartbreak, I have had the privilege of witnessing the Levinson family’s unbreakable spirit and courageous commitment to securing Bob’s safe return home. I stand with them and look forward to working with the Administration to demand his immediate and unconditional release. The U.S. government must speak with one voice to prevent Iran from further delaying Bob’s reunification with his family.”

HAPPENING LATER TODAY: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing highlighting the plight of American detainees in Iran. Douglas Levinson, the son of Bob Levinson who also works as a staffer in Senator Bob Menendez’s office (D-NJ) will testify along Omar Zakka, son of Nizar Zakka. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will be chairing the session.

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the Israel Anti Boycott Act: “I saw the bill as an extension of foreign policy to not allow companies to side with foreign entities that were doing boycotts. I support everyone’s right to free speech, I would never do anything to undermine people’s rights to free speech, but I do see how this issue is seriously being debated, and I have asked the ACLU to come meet with me. I am open to looking at it again because I do not want to undermine people’s free speech rights on any level… “I am concerned that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not have a plan for peace, and doesn’t have a vision for peace,” Gillibrand said Saturday at a town hall meeting in the Bronx in New York City, in remarks first reported by Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist news site. [JTA]

JFNA’s William Daroff in a statement: “Jewish Federations strongly disagrees with those who view the act as antithetical to the First Amendment. The act involves commercial business and in no way abridges any individual’s right to freedom of speech, nor does it force any company to do business with Israel. As noted constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz has said about similar laws, such actions do not undermine free speech and ‘BDS activists would still be free to advocate bigotry.’”

TRUMP TUMULT: “Trump White House Tests a Nation’s Capacity for Outrage” by Peter Baker: “Presidents don’t order the prosecution of their defeated opponents in this country,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under Mr. Bush. “It’s never sat well with me. That leads to a divided America.” He added that Mr. Trump “does it to fire up the pro-Trump base of the party.” [NYTimes]

“Trump shames Sessions amid shake-up speculation” by Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson, Nahal Toosi and Daniel Lippman: “NSC staffers threw a surprise birthday party for [H. R.] McMaster early Mondayevening on the balcony of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It was standing room only and paid for by the staffers, one White House official said. Top aides Jared Kushner, Dina Powell and Tom Bossert attended the gathering, where there was singing and chocolate cake for the general, who turned 55 on Monday. “The president would like the leaking to stop about getting rid of McMaster,” Scaramucci said.” [Politico

** 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: Inside Andy Rubin’s Quest to Create an OS for Everything [Wired] • Nexar releases 55K street pics from 80 countries to spur autonomous driving [TC• Aby Rosen’s famed Bowery building locks down temporary retail tenant [NYPost] • Would You Invest with Steven Cohen? [IIMag]

SPOTLIGHT: “This Hedge Fund Is Betting $280 Million on a 34-Year-Old Guy” by Sridhar Natarajan and Katia Porzecanski: “Back in February, [Dan] Och shocked many on Wall Street by elevating [Jimmy] Levin, the star of the firm’s credit business, to co-chief investment officer and handing him an incentive package of $280 million… Och wagered a small personal fortune to make it happen, relinquishing 30 million of his own shares… Och and Levin met when Levin was a counselor and water-skiing coach at a camp in Wisconsin where Och’s children spent part of their summer… After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in computer science, Levin worked for Sagamore Hill Capital Management and then Dune Capital, the now defunct hedge fund founded by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Och finally hired Levin as a distressed analyst.” [Bloomberg]

MEDIA WATCH: “The Agony and the Anxiety of The New York Times” by Joe Pompeo: “Insiders say the baton pass from longtime publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to his 36-year-old son, A.G. Sulzberger, is beginning to feel imminent. Following in his father’s footsteps, the younger Sulzberger has been working as deputy publisher since last October, after being groomed in the newsroom for a few years. Pinch became publisher in 1992 at the age of 40, when his father, Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger, stepped down at the age of 65, the standard retirement threshold for senior Times executives. (Sulzberger Jr. will turn 66 in September.)” [VanityFair]

“The 18 donors who’ve given Cuomo more than $100K” by Bill Mahoney: Mayer Hirsch, a developer in the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, gave Cuomo nine checks totaling a quarter million dollars a week after the governor vetoed a bill that would restrict development in Kiryas Joel…Howard and Abby Milstein… have given Cuomo five-figure sums in recent years… The Durst Organization… Barry Rosenstein… has given the governor $65,000 this term, and his wife and daughters have combined to contribute $82,500. He hosted a fundraiser for Cuomo in East Hampton earlier this month… In addition to being a top donor to the governor, [Ron] Perelman’s holding company MacAndrews & Forbes has been a top destination for former members of Cuomo’s administration, hiring his communications director and secretary in recent years… Hedge funder Steven Cohen, the world’s 92nd richest person according to Forbes, shared a bête noire with Cuomo.” [Politico

“Mr. Trump’s Russian Base Beyond the Kremlin” by Francis Clines: “Putin? Meddle in American politics?” [Mikhail] Rubinsteyn asked in wonderment at his popular Brighton Beach cafe. “Absolutely not. Fake news from Democrats,” he said, echoing the all-purpose dismissal crafted by his beloved President Trump, whose émigré support remains firm in the community… There is much more complexity to Brighton Beach these days, according to Sam Kliger, a sociologist who is director of Russian Jewish community affairs for the American Jewish Committee… Mr. Kliger notes that the community has traditionally been pro-Republican at the presidential level… “Anything that remotely smells of Communism they hate,” Mr. Kliger said, noting how even the focus on government service proposals by Democrats can be mistrusted.” [NYTimes

“Little Girl’s Tearful Meeting With Gal Gadot Shows Why ‘Wonder Woman’ Matters” by Ed Mazza: “Viral footage from Comic-Con in San Diego showed the star comforting a young fan who was wearing a “Wonder Woman” shirt and cape. But the little girl, named Ashley, began to cry when she reached the front of the line. “She was so happy to meet her that she was tearing up,” her mother, Christine Keller, wrote on Twitter. In the footage, Gadot reaches across the table and takes the girl’s hand. “There’s no reason to cry, all right,” Gadot said. “Here we are together.”” [HuffPost

“‘Menashe’ director takes unorthodox path for story of ultra-Orthodox single father” by Naomi Pfefferman: “Filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein… had learned Hebrew as a boy while attending a Conservative Jewish day school in New Jersey but didn’t speak a word of Yiddish…Circumstances improved after Weinstein met Danny Finkelman, a member of the more open Lubavitch Chasidic movement and a producer of music and other videos deemed proper for ultra-Orthodox viewers. It was Finkelman who introduced Weinstein to [Menashe] Lustig on a TV commercial set more than two years ago. Lustig already had made comic YouTube videos in Yiddish and aspired to earn more acting jobs. The filmmaker said he immediately was impressed by Lustig’s performing prowess. Over the next few months, Weinstein became so taken with Lustig’s personal story that he decided to fictionalize it for “Menashe.”” [JewishJournal]

DESSERT: “At Johns Hopkins, clergy try mind-altering drugs for scientific research” by Julie Zauzmer: “In the Hopkins and NYU study, two dozen clergy — including priests, pastors and rabbis — are taking controlled doses of psilocybin, the drug found in psychedelic mushrooms, under the watchful eye of scientists… When the revered rabbinic leader Menachem Schneerson was asked in a letter about LSD in the 1960s, he wrote back that the drug “is not the proper way to attain mystical inspiration, even if it had such a property. The Jewish way is to go from strength to strength, not by means of drugs and other artificial stimulants, which have a place only if they are necessary for the physical health.” But the Hopkins researchers have found Christian, Jewish and Buddhist clergy willing to participate anonymously in their study.” [WashPost

“Finding a Common Language Through Olive Oil” by Florence Fabricant: “These oils have Palestinian and Israeli roots. Palestinian women cultivate and harvest olives from groves north of Galilee for use in the nonprofit company Sindyanna of Galilee’s olive oils, which are made by Israeli women. At Kalustyan’s in New York, Dona Abramson, a manager, has the cold-pressed, fair-trade, extra-virgin olive oils on a shelf between Israeli and Palestinian oils. The store carries three of them.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Author Midge Decter (born Midge Rosenthal) turns 90… Cinematographer, whose work includes “The Empire Strikes Back,” Peter Suschitzky turns 76… Member of the New York City Council since 2014, he  was formerly a member of the New York State Assembly (2006-2013), Alan Maisel turns 71… Born in Casablanca, nightclub owner, entrepreneur and film producer, he produced “The Woman in Red” and “Weekend at Bernie’s,” Victor Drai turns 70… Former IDF Brigadier General (he was part of Operation Entebbe in 1976), a former leader of the National Religious Party, then a member of Knesset (2003-2009), now President of Genie Oil and Gas, Efraim “Effi” Eitam turns 65… Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist, formerly of the Washington Post editorial board (2002-2006), Anne Applebaum turns 53… MLB pitcher for 12 seasons (1988-1997), from the small Jewish community in the Dominican Republic, maintains a kosher home, not to be confused with the Toronto player of the same name, José Bautistaturns 53… Israeli journalist, television news anchor on Channel 10 and author of a non-fiction book and a novel, Oshrat Kotler turns 52… Member of the Los Angeles City Council (where he is the sole member registered as Republican), representing a district in the San Fernando Valley, Mitchell Englander turns 47… NYC-based criminal defense attorney in many high-profile cases, especially involving Russian-born defendants, Arkady L. Bukhturns 45… Baseball pitcher in the Oakland Athletics organization, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Joseph “Joey” Samuel Wagman turns 26… Erin Seidler

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

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24

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Daily Kickoff: How the Trump news cycle helps rogue actors like Iran | Mort on The Mooch | David and Ben Horowitz | Meet NFL lineman Adam Bisnowaty

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TOP TALKER: “We Just Don’t Really Matter” — In the age of Trump, global players — from tech companies to governments — have to shout to break through: “It’s just harder for most products and people to get a word in edgewise,” said Stu Loeser, Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s former press secretary, who now advises a range of businesses on media strategy. Loeser said the media context reminded him a bit of the months after the September 11thterror attacks. “Stories that might be fun in a different environment may come off as frivolous today.”

“The news cycle is so fast and so overloaded that the silver lining is that some of the negative narratives tend to dissipate much more quickly than before,” said Matthew Hiltzik, a veteran New York corporate and crisis communications consultant. “There are certain clients who prefer not being covered and so that helps!”

“The media and political glare on Trump has given rogue actors abroad an opportunity to pursue their aims without attracting too much attention. During the years when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was Iran’s president Iran was an international pariah, with the UN and EU as well as the US rushing to heap on sanctions. With soft-spoken cleric Hassan Rouhani now Iran’s president, Tehran often goes to lengths to sound like the adult in the room. Meanwhile, Iran continues to fire off ballistic missiles, train and arm gunmen across the region, and confront US allies. When Obama was president, Iranian censors struggled to suppress all of his peaceful overtures and public addresses to Iran. Now, whenever Trump or even Sean Spicer is about to give a press conference, Iran state television goes live to Washington. “Iran can say, ‘America really has a bad guy in charge. Look, he’s under investigation,'” a former US intelligence operations officer said. “In the States, we just arrested some Hezbollah operatives affiliated with Imad Mugniyah’s old component. Nobody paid attention.”” [BuzzFeed]

MORT ON THE MOOCH — ZOA’s Mort Klein, who met with new White House Communications Director Anthony Sacaramucci right after Trump’s inauguration to convey his views, reacted to the Mooch’s appointment in a phone interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “Scaramucci is one of the strongest supporters of Israel you will ever find in politics, so I am very happy about this. He’s a very strong supporter of Israel in the ZOA way, not in a mainstream Jewish way. I think people are going to like him, which is, I think, very helpful to this administration’s work. This is a great choice for Trump. I couldn’t ask for anything better as a Director of Communications.”

Q: How much influence do you think he will have on the President’s policies on issues that you care about?

Mort Klein: “Look, if he’s pro-Israel the way I am, it can only help. Whether Trump will listen to him or not, I don’t know. But I can tell you, he cares about Israel in his heart and soul. He even told me that with so many Jewish friends, he feels Jewish. So it’s a great choice for people who care about Israel, it’s a great choice for Trump, and it’s a great choice for the country. Trump has hit a home run with this appointment.”

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Trump wishes Reince would take the hint” by Jonathan Swan: “At the senior level, the only WH official who will go to the mat for Reince’s survival is Steve Bannon. They’ve become allies of convenience in a feud against Jared and Ivanka (“Jivanka,” as Bannon calls them to associates.) Jared and Ivanka distrust Reince, think he’s incompetent, and want him gone ASAP.” [Axios]

— “While Ms. [Sarah Huckabee] Sanders will preside at the daily briefing most days, Mr. Trump has told his advisers he is open to rotating new people into the slot. He is said to be especially high on Sebastian Gorka, a blustery foreign policy official who has been accused of having ties to far-right groups in Europe.” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s ‘Axis of Adults’ Is Breaking Apart” by Eli Lake: “At the last minute, [H.R.] McMaster tried to cancel a trip [Thomas] Bossert took in June to Israel to address a cybersecurity forum, reflecting concerns from other department heads that NSC staffers were overstepping their roles in foreign travel. McMaster eventually withdrew his objections, and Bossert attended the conference in Tel Aviv.” [Bloomberg]

“The Man McMaster Couldn’t Fire” by Rosie Gray: “Some insist that [Jared] Kushner and [Steve] Bannon were willing to expend capital on behalf of Ezra Cohen-Watnick. According to one person with direct knowledge of the meeting, the roots of their loyalty to Cohen-Watnick stem from a briefing he delivered during Trump’s first visit to the White House situation room in February, at which Kushner was present as well as Pence. Kushner and the president were apparently impressed with the young briefer and took an interest in him. “Ezra is deeply thoughtful, hard working, and committed to serving the president,” Kushner said, offering a rare on-the-record comment, which is itself a testament to Cohen-Watnick’s importance… Cohen-Watnick survived, but he’s remained a topic of gossip and a target of leaks—a flashpoint in the ongoing fight over the administration’s foreign policy.” [TheAtlantic]

“The untouchable Hope Hicks” by Annie Karni: “She has joined Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump for Shabbat dinner at their Kalorama mansion.”[Politico]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Kushner to face intel committee on Mondaybehind closed doors” by Devlin Barrett: “[Jared] Kushner is scheduled to meet behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, then be questioned — again in private — by the House Intelligence Committee the following day… Kushner is expected to answer the committee’s questions and not invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to a person familiar with Kushner’s thinking. Kushner is not expected to be under oath during his questioning Monday — but that arrangement still poses significant legal risks to someone under investigation.” [WashPost] • ‘I Did Not Collude,’ Kushner Says in Prepared Remarks to Senators [NYTPolitico]

“Jared Kushner Releases Details on Previously Undisclosed Contact With Russian Ambassador” by Rebecca Ballhaus: “Mr. Kushner said Monday the contacts included meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Luis Videgaray Caso, the secretary of foreign affairs for Mexico… During that meeting, Mr. Kushner said Monday, he asked Mr. Kislyak to “identify the best person…with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his president.” He also expressed a desire for a “fresh start in relations.” Mr. Kushner subsequently had aide Avraham Berkowitz handle another meeting requested by Mr. Kislyak… In his statement Monday, Mr. Kushner acknowledged that he proposed receiving information about military operations in Syria via a secure communications line at the Russian embassy, but he denied trying to establish any “backchannel” and said his interest in talking to Russia via secure means was solely to obtain information about the conflict in Syria.” [WSJ]

“Jared Kushner, the Prince of Having It Both Ways” by Frank Bruni: “We always see his fingerprints but never hear his voice. He throws his weight around, then floats above it all… He’s there but not there: a meddlesome ghost. A puff of smoke… He’s like his father-in-law, though Trump wears his self-pity, fury and ruthlessness right out front, for the whole world to see. Kushner puts a pale mask of calm and courteousness over his. Maybe the senators who question him on Monday will pry it off. Maybe they’ll actually bring some color to his face.” [NYTimes]

GREENBLATT RETURNS TO MIDEAST — Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s envoy to the Middle East is expected to arrive in Israel today to “support efforts to reduce tensions in the region” and “finding a resolution to the ongoing security issues,” according to a senior administration official. Greenblatt “will be closely coordinating with Jared Kushner’s office and the NSC, as well as Ambassador David Friedman and the State Department.”

Kushner and Greenblatt have been in contact over the phone with Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the weekend. Ambassador Friedman also met privately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his residence in Jerusalem on Saturday night to discuss a joint Israeli-Jordanian meeting to clamp down on the tensions, according to Channel 2. The White House did not demand that the Israeli government remove the Temple Mount metal detectors.

KAFE KNESSET — All about the Temple Mount — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The security and diplomatic fallout surrounding the Temple Mount tensions has been the only thing on Netanyahu’s agenda in the past few days.  He is engaged in round the clock talks and consultations to handle the situation. The Security Cabinet is set to convene this evening for the third time since the weekend, after two late night meetings on Thursday and Sunday.  These consultations continue against the backdrop of growing Arab and Palestinian pressure to remove the metal detectors from the Temple Mount entrances. Netanyahu canceled a speech to the Knesset in memory of Likud ideological forebear Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) that was supposed to take place tonight, because of the ongoing meetings. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

Israel says guard at Amman embassy shot after being attacked: “Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that a security guard at the country’s embassy in Jordan opened fire, killing two Jordanians, after being attacked by one of them with a screwdriver. The incident took place on Sundayevening, at a residential building used by embassy staff. Israeli media said Jordan has demanded to conduct an investigation and has prevented Israeli embassy staff from leaving the premises.” [AP]

“Palestinians, Israelis disappointed over US envoy’s talks” by Uri Savir: “The Palestinians didn’t have much luck with the US envoy, especially since he was accompanied in the last round of talks on July 11 by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. They felt that with Friedman accredited to Israel only, so are his views. And so, the talks had little chance to progress. Ramallah leadership assesses that there are no concrete plans by the administration to launch negotiations, except to emphasize how important it is to the president. The PLO official said bitterly, “We begin to sense that the talks are merely supposed to generate a positive impression of the US in Riyadh and in Cairo. We will not continue to play this window dressing role for very long.””[Al-Monitor]

“How Jerusalem’s Top Cop Keeps the Peace” by Judith Miller: “Anyone can chase down and arrest terrorists. That’s the easy part,” [Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevy] tells me through a translator, though he speaks some English. “Denying terrorists the civilian support they crave and need to operate is a far tougher challenge.” The most effective way of mitigating Palestinian hatred, he adds, is to “empower the silent civilian majority, which is sick and tired of the violence, but afraid to say so.” That, he says, is his overarching goal… He is focused not on politics, he says, but on fighting terror through effective policing. Counterterrorism will be “a generation’s work,” he says, particularly in the internet age and in Jerusalem: “In no other city can you cross a national border on foot in 10 minutes.” [WSJ

WHERE IS REX? “A chill emanating from the White House reaches State Department” by John King: “[Rex] Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times. But friends sense a change of late. For weeks, conversations with Tillerson friends outside of Washington have left the impression that he, despite his frustrations, was determined to stay on the job at least through the end of the year… But two sources who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over the weekend said they would not be surprised if there was a “Rexit” from Foggy Bottom sooner that that.” [CNN

ON THE HILL — “Congress Reaches Deal on Russia Sanctions, Setting Up Tough Choice for Trump” by Matt Flegenheimer and David Sanger: “Two senior administration officials said they could not imagine Mr. Trump vetoing the measure in the current political atmosphere, even if he regards it as interfering with his executive authority to conduct foreign policy… Congress has complicated his choice because the legislation also encompasses new sanctions against Iran and North Korea.” [NYTimes] • White House Signals Acceptance of Russia Sanctions Bill [NYTimes

“The Trump team is repeating Obama’s mistakes in Syria” by Josh Rogin: “The Trump administration seems fine with allowing Iran and Assad to take over another large part of Syria. But the Sunni Arabs who live there will not be. “What are we going to do when these people coming back to their homes come under fire from Iranian militias?” asked Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy… The Trump administration is not responsible for past American mistakes in Syria, but it is responsible for what the United States does now.” [WashPost

FP GRADES: “Trump’s First 6 Months Were Terrible, But He Got 3 Things Right” by Derek Chollet [ForeignPolicy]

“Trump’s Foreign Policy: The Conservatives’ Report Card” by Bret Stephens: “The deeper flaw of Trump’s foreign policy isn’t psychological. It’s philosophical. The Trump administration is the first to make an open break with the anti-isolationist postwar consensus of Harry Truman, Arthur Vandenberg and Dean Acheson… It’s not that the administration has done everything wrong, at least by conservative lights… But if serious conservatives believe in anything, it’s that we really are, as Lincoln said, “the last best hope of earth,” and that our foreign policy should be equal to that hope. That’s “hope,” Donald, not “joke.” Grade: O.M.G.” [NYTimes]

“What Truman Can Teach Trump” by Walter Russell Mead: “The threat of jihadist terror on a mass scale, the growing danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of radical regimes, the possibility of debilitating cyberwarfare… these are widely shared concerns for millions of Americans. Even in our current moment of populist retreat, such fears, together with abiding popular attachment to trusted allies such as the U.K. and Israel, are strong enough and real enough to serve as the political foundation for a new wave of American global engagement… A Trumanist approach—popular but not populist, moral but not moralistic—would start by showing some trust in the foreign-policy instincts of the American people. “ [WSJ

BOB LEVINSON UPDATE: On Friday, Trump urged Tehran to return Robert Levinson.. and to release businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer, both jailed on espionage charges. Trump warned that Iran would face “new and serious consequences” if the three men were not released… Robert Levinson left Iran years ago and the Islamic Republic has no information about his whereabouts, foreign ministry spokesman Qassemi said Saturday. “The statements of the White House, as usual, are an example of interference in Iran’s internal affairs and the demands are unacceptable and rejected,” Qassemi said, according to ISNA.” [Reuters

2020 WATCH — “Sanders keeping door open on 2020” by Amie Parnes: ““Yes, is the answer,” said one Sanders associate who helped with the senator’s previous bid… “He thinks he’s earned the right to run again and he believes if he would have been the [Democratic] candidate he would have won against Trump.” The source also suggested that Sanders is making his plans with other candidates in mind. “The last thing he’s going to do is step aside and let Joe Biden take it,” the Sanders associate said.” [TheHill]

“Bush, Cuban: Trump dragging down GOP, billionaires” by Steve Peoples: “Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush lashed out at the Republican president during separate remarks at a summer festival in New York City’s Central Park. Cuban… said he may challenge Trump in 2020. “If he lasts four years, I’ll be there to kick his (butt),” Cuban declared as the young New York crowd roared. “We’ll see. I’m not making any proclamations yet.” Cuban also warned that Trump “might ruin the path” for another billionaire outsider to run for president in the future. “He’s not setting the best example,” Cuban said.” [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: Blackstone in talks to buy 40 percent of Israel cyber firm NSO: report [Reuters] • Futuristic NY Pier Project Pits Billionaire vs. Billionaire [AP] • Jared Kushner sealed Manhattan real estate deal with oligarch’s firm cited in money-laundering case [TheGuardian] • KKR & Co. Near Deal to Buy WebMD [WSJ

“One Family, Many Revolutions: From Black Panthers, to Silicon Valley, to Trump” by David Streitfeld: “If the Trump administration has an intellectual godfather, it’s David Horowitz. Father and son [David and Ben] are a snapshot of America at this moment, a politicized and polarized place full of competing revolutions. They live in different universes: one where President Trump is the answer, the other where he is the problem… “One thing we mostly see eye-to-eye on is that the most important thing is the ability of an individual to live his life and have an opportunity,” said Ben, 51. “How he went from ‘The way to do that is Communism’ to ‘The way to do that is Trump’ is amazing.” He laughed. “That’s where we’re not aligned.” … Father and son usually avoid politics, discuss it when they must, and find common ground to the extent they can. They live with each other’s extremes, especially with regard to race. “We trust each other’s intentions,” Ben said… Despite his distaste for politics, David can’t afford to retire and wouldn’t want to anyway. “It would be like dying,” he said. “I can’t betray my cause.”” [NYTimes

“Donald Trump’s Defenders on the Left” by Peter Beinart: “[Max] Blumenthal and [Glenn] Greenwald loathe Trump. But they loathe hawkish foreign policy more. So they minimize Russia’s election meddling to oppose what they see as a new Cold War… But it’s one thing to oppose defending the American empire. It’s another to oppose defending the American homeland. By intervening in the 2016 election, Russia did not threaten American influence in Afghanistan or Ukraine or Syria. It threatened America itself.” [TheAtlantic

“He Spent Almost 20 Years Funding The Racist Right. It Finally Paid Off” by Aram Roston and Joel Anderson: “Asked whether he considers Jews to be white, [William] Regnery cocked his head and said, “That’s a good question!” Turning to “racial science,” he said that DNA shows Ashkenazi Jews are half white, while Sephardic Jews are not white at all. If he ever gets his ethnostate, he said, he might allow some Jews to live there, but not others. He joked that Paul Gottfried, one of his Jewish allies years ago, would be OK… Regnery seems surprised that, until the rise of Trump, he was repeatedly rebuffed or ridiculed for his racist views. Take his 2004 suggestion for a white dating site, which he said was inspired by JDate, a Jewish dating service, but which was lambasted in the press.” [BuzzFeed

‘Trump’s foe’ Maggie Haberman talks to David Remnick — D.R.: Rupert Murdoch is said to have a very close relationship with Donald Trump… What is that relationship about? Haberman… “Jared Kushner had a bigger relationship with Murdoch than Trump did. Kushner actually was the one who sort of sold Murdoch on Trump, and that something bigger was happening in the country. Jared showed him a video of one of the rallies on his iPhone, back at the end of 2015. Murdoch has always wanted to be an adviser to a President… So he saw the opportunity and jumped on it. And they now talk most days…

D.R.: Who else does Trump talk to in that way? Who else outside the White House is a kind of consigliere, from afar? M.H… He talks to Steve Schwarzman. And then periodically, for a time, but it was more really a Jared relationship, he was talking to Ron Lauder, because Lauder was one of the only people who was telling him what he wanted to hear on the idea that a peace deal was possible with the Palestinians and Israel.” [NewYorker]

“Donald Trump Is Not Invited to the Wedding” by Olivia Nuzzi: “In February, [Joe] Scarborough saw the president a final time, when Jared Kushner invited him back to the scene of the lunch. At first Scarborough said “I don’t remember” when I asked why Kushner had wanted him to visit, but then [Mika] Brzezinski reminded him: “I think he wanted you and Donald to start talking again.” Scarborough agreed: “Jared’s always the one that tries to bring us back together.” Why that’s the case, he said, “you’d have to ask Jared.” But it’s perplexing because “it never ends well, so I don’t know why they think that, and, again, I don’t know why anybody thinks, in either party, that we’re ever going to pull a punch, because we just never do. But, again, I think the biggest shock for Donald — for the president — is that, regardless of whether we saw him or not, we were going to say whatever we wanted to say.” [NYMag

PROFILE: “How an Oregon-born immigrant to Israel found a job giving tours of Hamas tunnels” by Renee Ghert-Zand: “Capt. Libby Weiss spent most of the summer of 2014 in a Hamas tunnel, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else… Her inaugural tour went to Jodi Rudoren of The New York Times and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer…  Since March, Weiss has headed the international social media department, overseeing a team of 14 enlisted soldiers and one junior officer who produces viral content in English, Spanish and French… Growing up as the youngest daughter of Israeli-born parents in Oregon, Weiss never imagined she’d become an IDF officer. And she didn’t know she would live in Israel. “I don’t know if I ever saw myself, at least back as a teenager, immigrating to Israel,” Weiss said. “But we definitely felt connected to Israel. It was part of our identity. I attended a Jewish day school and my parents spoke to us in Hebrew at home. We saw ourselves as Israeli Americans, and we were certainly Zionists.”” [ToI

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Town orders religious group to remove pipes showing boundary” by The Associated Press: “The town of Mahwah has told the South Monsey Eruv Fund to stop installing white PVC pipe on utility poles… The New York religious community was given the OK to post the piping by the utility company that owns the poles, but the town says that they are considered signs and not allowed… The “eruv” was to span 26 miles in Mahwah, across the border from New York.” [NYDailyNews]

MEDIA WATCH: “Israeli Journalist Says Army Radio Tried to Spike Investigative Report Into Sheldon Adelson” by Itay Stern: “In a Facebook post from Saturday, journalist Avner Hofstein also said that Avi Barzilai threatened to fire him unless he disclosed his confidential sources for the investigation… Hofstein… wrote an investigative report linking the possible acquisition of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center by Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, to the latter’s appointment to the organization’s board of directors. The report featured a recording of the executive director of the Hadassah women’s organization in Israel, Audrey Shimron, discussing the interest expressed by the Adelsons in the purchase. Shimron is married to David Shimron, a lawyer for Netanyahu who is the focus of an Israel Police investigation into alleged irregularities in Israel’s purchase of German submarines.” [Haaretz]  

TRANSITION — New York Times names David Halbfinger to be new Jerusalem Bureau Chief: “David and his family will be moving in August, and he will begin work after Labor Day. And after 28 years at The Times, Ian Fisher, our current bureau chief, and a dear friend, colleague and newsroom leader to many, decided he was ready for a change. He is planning to spend the next year with his family in Italy. We will miss Ian and wish him the very best.” [NYTCo]

SPORTS BLINK: “76ers second-round pick Jonah Bolden to play in Israel” by Alex Kolodziej: “The Philadelphia 76ers selected forward Jonah Bolden in the most recent draft, but won’t have the luxury of working with him in the near future. He signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League on a three-year deal, the club announced on Friday… Bolden showcased his versatility in the Summer League, where he averaged 8.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 31.4 percent from beyond the three-point line. He’ll be able to fine-tune his skills overseas while still having negotiating rights with the NBA club.” [FanragSports

“Meet the Giant who wears his Judaism on (and under) his sleeve” by Paul Schwartz: “Adam Bisnowaty, a rookie offensive lineman set to compete in this first NFL training camp with the Giants — players report Thursday — does not hide his Judaism. He wears it proudly, not on his sleeve but inside it, stretching from left elbow to armpit. The tattoo quotes a famous Bible verse — Exodus 3:14 — as Moses, at the Burning Bush, asks God what to call him. God tells Moses “ehyeh asher ehyeh”, which translates to “I am that I am.”” [NYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Vice Chairman of Promontory Interfinancial Network, he was a partner at Covington & Burling, US Ambassador to Romania (1994-1997) and President of the American Jewish Committee, Alfred H. Moses turns 88… Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who worked for ABC News (1978-1983) and CBS’s 60 Minutes (1983-1997), Lowell Bergman turns 72… Israeli physician, author and playwright, he is the younger brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel, Iddo Netanyahu turns 65… Political pollster and consultant, he was the strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Joel Benenson turns 65… Los Angeles attorney, partner in the firm of Isaacman, Kaufman & Painter, he has served as a board member of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the United Jewish Federation and Sinai Temple, Michael Jeffrey Bordy turns 65… Retired offensive lineman in the NFL, he played for the Green Bay Packers (1986-1990) and the Dallas Cowboys (1991-1992) where he won in Super Bowl XXVII, now a motivational speaker, Alan Veingrad turns 54… Secretary for the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet since 2007, previously Kentucky State Treasurer (1999-2007), author of “The Liberal Case for Israel,” Jonathan Miller turns 50… President of Access Computer Technology in West Bloomfield, Michigan, he is a rabbi, entrepreneur and social media expert, Jason Miller turns 41… Co-founder and partner at Orfin Ventures, an incubator and deep-tech venture fund, Adam Finkel turns 31… Rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom, the largest Jewish congregation in the San Fernando Valley, a 2008 graduate of JTS, previously a rabbi in Biloxi, Mississippi, Noah Zvi Farkas… Graduate of Wharton and now in the 2020 Class at Yale Law School, Shlomo Klapper

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PHOTO: REUTERS

State Dept Questions if Taylor Force Act ‘Accomplishes’ Objective of Stopping Terror

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Top State Department official notes Palestinian progress in cutting terror payments WASHINGTON – A top State Department official expressed skepticism regarding the efficiency of the Taylor Force Act…

Levinson family handout via Reuters

Bipartisan Letter Demands Answers on Bob Levinson

Thursday, July 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – Nearly two dozen lawmakers led by Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) published a letter to President Donald Trump imploring the White House to increase…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for July 13

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dropping like flies: The walls seem to be closing in on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as several of his closest allies have been implicated in corruption scandals. Yesterday…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for July 12

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Gabbay Effect: The Labor Party has jumped in the polls a day after Avi Gabbay won the leadership contest. Under Isaac Herzog, the party had taken a nosedive…

photo by Haim Zach / GPO

State Dept: Friedman’s Meeting Palestinian Negotiators ‘Perhaps an Upgrade’

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s meeting with senior Palestinian negotiators is “not a downgrade but perhaps even an upgrade,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said…

Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

State Dept: Israel Takes Trump’s Concerns About Settlements Into Account

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Israeli government has “implemented a policy” that takes President Donald Trump’s concerns about settlement construction “into account” despite the recent announcement that it advanced plans…