DRIVING THE CONVO — The FBI released its annual report on hate crime statistics yesterday. The overall number of hate crimes in 2017 was up 17 percent from 2016, with a 37 percent rise in crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions, which was highlighted by the ADL. Last year, 938 anti-Semitic incidents were reported, up from 684 incidents in 2016.
The findings call into question recent suggestions by Israeli officials that anti-Semitism is not on the rise in the U.S., despite incidents like last month’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. On November 1, Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett said he’s “not at all sure that there’s a surge in anti-Semitism in America.” Of the 2016 ADL report, he said, “I am not sure those are the facts. I am not at all dismissing the importance and the severity of the worst and deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of America. I am just saying that we have to look at the numbers and the facts themselves and adopt common-sense measures.”
Last week, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer cited the ADL statistics to show anti-Semitism is actually on the wane. “In 2016, according to FBI statistics, there were 684 hate crimes against Jews in America,” Dermer noted. “Many people feel that the heated rhetoric during the campaign in 2016 had contributed greatly to the rise of anti-Semitism. Perhaps it did. But here is something you probably don’t know: In 2008, those same FBI statistics show that there were over 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents in America. In the year 2000, there were over 1,100.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tells us: “The FBI data on hate crimes confirms what we have been saying all along: there was a clear increase of anti-Semitic hate crimes and other acts of hate against Jews in 2017. This report provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America. That begins with leaders from all walks of life and all sectors of society forcefully condemning anti-Semitism, bigotry and hate whenever it occurs.”
THE CONVERSATION — Hearing senior Israeli politicians argue that data shows fewer anti-Semitic attacks in recent years struck some in the Jewish community as odd. As one observer pointed out, “When have we ever seen Israeli politicians take an opportunity to seemingly downplay concerns of anti-Semitism?” Yesterday’s FBI data doesn’t support the Israelis’ argument. And the question remains: What was motivating the Israelis to emphasize the decreased numbers?
Among the explanations we’ve heard is that PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Bennett and Dermer genuinely believe America is different and Jews are much safer in the U.S. Other explanations point to the Trump factor.Israeli officials didn’t like how Trump was blamed for fostering the environment of hatred which influenced the Pittsburgh shooter, and sought to redirect a narrative that Jews are less safe under a President that Israel favors. Others speculate that the Israelis saw an opportunity to provide Trump with cover from criticism and in the process collect points that — with a rather transactional president — could be cashed in later regarding other policy matters important to Israel.
Perhaps a more generous reading of Bennett and Dermer’s talking point is that they didn’t intend to downplay anti-Semitism in the U.S. but rather to point out that hatred against Jews is not a new problem, and that in fact, it used to be much worse. However, by emphasizing how 2016’s numbers are significantly lower while cautioning against blaming the president, they came across as arguing that anti-Semitism has decreased in the Trump era.
Ed. note: As of press time, the Israeli Embassy in DC has not provided further comment.
Aaron David Miller tells us: “There’s a big difference between what’s appropriate and welcome — the Israeli government’s providing reassurance, support and a warm embrace to American Jews in the wake of the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history — and what’s not; launching a campaign days before the midterms to validate the performance of a US president and to defend him against charges that his rhetoric has not to some degree encouraged a climate of extremism and hate.”
“There’s no causality between Trump’s words and the Pittsburgh killer’s murderous deed. But you’d have to be willfully obtuse not to see any connection whatsoever between the increase of anti-Semitic incidents and his enabling language. Let Americans debate this on their own. We didn’t need Israel in the mix. As a member of the American Jewish community, I think the Israelis wandered way off the highway on this one and crossed the line.”
Abe Foxman: “Dermer is right that anti-Semitism in the U.S. goes back to the beginning of America. He is also right that we cannot afford to make anti-Semitism a political issue. Trump is not to blame for Pittsburgh, nor for the rise of anti-Semitism, regardless if it’s a 57 percent or 27 percent increase. But Trump needs to be held accountable. His rhetoric has been and is extreme, polarizing, and denigrating of minorities. He has destroyed all the taboos of civil discourse. And his hateful rhetoric has emboldened and legitimized anti- Semites and other bigots.”
Gal Beckerman writes… “American Jews Face a Choice: Create Meaning or Fade Away: A shared sorrow may have provided the briefest taste of unity after Pittsburgh, but anti-Semitism is not what defines the experience of Jews in America today; assimilation is. To hear the professional worriers in the Jewish community, it’s love, not hate, that poses the bigger existential challenge… The infrastructure of Judaism, from the synagogue to the long-established liberal denominations, is being steadily abandoned.”[NYTimes]
TOP TALKER — Israel’s Defense Chief Resigns, Slams Netanyahu for ‘Surrendering to Hamas Terror’ — by Chaim Levinson: “Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday and called for elections to be held as soon as possible… “There is no other definition, no other significance, but a capitulation to terror,” [Lieberman] said, adding: “What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security.”
“Habayit Hayehudi (headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett) said that unless the defense portfolio goes to Bennett, the party will also quit the coalition.” [Haaretz]
A Battle in Gaza Neither Side Wanted Ends Quickly — by Isabel Kershner and David Halbfinger: “That the battle began at all was unexpected. Neither Israel nor Hamas wanted a fight. Both had been taking steps, with Egypt’s mediation and Qatar’s financing, to cool tensions along their border and ease Gaza’s growing economic desperation… Shimrit Meir, an Israeli analyst of Palestinian politics, said the Gaza factions sensed that Israel’s eagerness to contain the fighting and avoid a full-blown ground conflict gave them unusually capacious room to maneuver.” [NYTimes] • How Israel’s Freakish Air Defenses Stop Gaza’s Rockets [DailyBeast]
ON THE HILL — Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) spoke to Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh about Sen. Cory Booker’s recently-announced support for the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, bipartisan legislation Cardin co-sponsored, in the hallways of the Senate Russell Office Building yesterday: “It’s the right thing to do. This bill clearly protects American companies from being intimidated to boycott Israel. So it’s a bill that should pass without much controversy, and I’m pleased to see Senator Booker, who’s well respected here, supporting it.”
Could this lead to other potential 2020 candidates, like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, coming out in support of the bill?
Cardin: “Yeah, I don’t believe this bill should be controversial. What it does is protect companies from being intimidated to participate in a foreign boycott. It doesn’t prevent anyone from doing what they want to do from the point of view of their own personal activity. It’s a bill that is important for America. It was important 40 years ago when we passed the Arab Boycott bill. It’s important today to deal with international organizations, and that’s what this bill does.”
Cardin on the Democratic wins in the midterm elections: “I think it’s good to have the House under Democratic control. I think it will act as a check and balance on the President and his use of powers. But I don’t think it will affect a lot of the foreign policy issues because I think there’s general agreement. Certainly, our relationship with Israel is strongly supported by both Democrats and Republicans.”
2020 WATCH — Mike Bloomberg talks to The Associated Press about the timing of a possible presidential bid — by Steve Peoples: “[Bloomberg] said his decision would have little to do with other Democratic presidential prospects… “Thanksgiving, Christmas and then maybe a few weeks into January — that’s when you really gotta sit down, talk to your advisers and say, ‘Look, do I have a chance?’ I think I know why I would want to run. I think I know what I think this country should do and what I would do. But I just don’t know whether it’s possible,” Bloomberg told the AP… Yet this political season marked a permanent shift in his political identity, he said. “I will be a Democrat for the rest of my life,” Bloomberg said.”
“Bloomberg acknowledged he has already formulated his justification for a presidential bid, but he declined to share it when asked. Still, he offered a message to any critics who might not think he belongs in today’s Democratic Party. “I don’t think anybody has done more on the environment, on gun safety, on immigration, go right down the list,” Bloomberg said… “If you find anybody that’s done more on these issues than I have… please give me a call. I’d like to hire ’em.” [AP]
Peter Beinart writes… “Will the Left Go Too Far? Facing militant GOP opposition, Obama abided by a series of restraints—based upon custom, not law—that circumscribed his agenda. The next Democratic president is less likely to do so. That’s partly… because the next Democratic president will likely face much more pressure than Obama did from the activist left… That will leave future Democrats with a choice. They can limit their ambitions to whatever Republicans won’t block. They can dramatically expand the use of reconciliation, which might require replacing the Senate parliamentarian. Or they can make it harder—or even impossible—to filibuster legislation. These latter steps would… enrage Republicans and fuel the sense that, post-Trump, anything goes.” [TheAtlantic]
DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump to announce support for criminal justice overhaul proposal — by Jeremy Diamond: “Trump is scheduled to announce on Wednesday that he is supporting the latest iteration of the First Step Act, a bill that his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has been working to craft and build support for alongside a bipartisan group of senators… The President has wavered on whether to throw his support behind the bill in recent months, but the sources said he was swayed to back the bill on Tuesday after meeting with Kushner.” [CNN]
PALACE INTRIGUE — Top Pence aide resurfaces as leading candidate to replace Kelly — by Christopher Cadelago, Andrew Restuccia and Ben Schreckinger: “Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers has reemerged as a leading candidate to succeed White House chief of staff John Kelly… [Ayers] enjoys warm relations with some of the most important figures in the President Donald Trump’s orbit: his eldest son, Don Jr., his eldest daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner… At the White House’s election night gathering last Tuesday, Kelly steered clear of the president and his family. Ayers, meanwhile, was seen huddling with the president.” [Politico]
TRUMP DIPLOMACY — Inside Trump’s Paris temper, election woes and staff upheaval — by Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker: “As he jetted to Paris last Friday, President Trump received a congratulatory phone call aboard Air Force One. British Prime Minister Theresa May was calling to celebrate the Republican Party’s wins in the midterm elections… but her appeal to the American president’s vanity was met with an ornery outburst. Trump berated May for Great Britain not doing enough, in his assessment, to contain Iran.”
“The president also was angry and resentful over French President Emmanuel Macron’s public rebuke of rising nationalism… And that was after his difficult meeting with Macron, where officials said little progress was made as Trump again brought up his frustrations over trade and Iran.” [WashPost]
—Trump, stung by midterms and nervous about Mueller, retreats from traditional presidential duties — by Eli Stokols: “Jordan’s King Abdullah was in Washington on Tuesday and met with Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, but not the president.” [LATimes]
Trump Nominates Retired General as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia — by Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt: “President Trump announced on Tuesday that he will nominate Gen. John P. Abizaid, a retired commander of forces in the Middle East, as his new ambassador to Saudi Arabia… The selection, if confirmed by the Senate, will finally give the president a representative of his own in Riyadh at a time when the relationship with Washington has grown strained over the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”[NYTimes]
Elliott Abrams emails us: “It has been a great mistake to leave the post vacant for two years, and that mistake was increasingly clear during the Khashoggi crisis. The Saudis usually ask for someone who’s personally close to the president but no such person was available, so the next best thing was a prominent general. Abizaid has experience in the region and speaks Arabic. I hope he gets confirmed and out there very fast, and not months down the road.”
Graham Calls Saudi Prince ‘Unstable’ and Sees Sanctions Ahead — by Steven Dennis and Karen Leigh: “An influential policy hawk in Congress who frequently advises President Donald Trump, [Senator Lindsey] Graham said he and other like-minded colleagues don’t yet have a plan of action, but lambasted the leadership of Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old de facto ruler, widely known as MBS. Prince Mohammed “has been unstable and unreliable and I don’t see the situation getting fixed as long as he’s around,” Graham said.” [Bloomberg]
TRANSITION — Trump taps Neomi Rao to succeed Brett Kavanaugh on D.C. Circuit court — by Felicia Sonmez: “President Trump announced Tuesday that he has nominated regulatory czar Neomi Rao to fill the seat vacated by Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Rao [is] administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget.”[WashPost] • Rao is married to Alan Lefkowitz [News18]
FLORIDA RECOUNT — Bill Nelson lawsuit asks federal court to waive recount deadline — by Scott Powers: “What we are saying is all counties should be committed, understanding that they need to work expeditiously and they need to work under the statutory regime as it exists; but paramount to that is that they assure accuracy and completion in the work,” Nelson’s lead recount lawyer Marc Elias said in a news conference Tuesday evening. “And if that means they need to have some additional time they ought to be able to have that time to assure that everyone’s vote is treated equally and with equal dignity.” … Elias argued Tuesday night that Nelson’s team just wants to give counties enough extra time to be careful, not some big, indefinite period.” [FloridaPolitics; TheHill]
Charlie Spies, a Republican election law attorney, emails us… “Rick Scott has already won the election. Scott won by over 12,500 votes, and no recount in the post-HAVA (Help America Vote Act of 2002) era has changed anything close to that number of votes. The Democrat efforts aren’t even a Hail Mary pass because they are already out of plays, now they are simply trying to change the rules of the game and find a way to add votes after the time expired. The effort won’t work, Scott will be certified as the winner, and law enforcement will evaluate what action to take regarding Broward and Palm Beach counties flouting of Florida law in the administration of elections.”
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Ratner family feels cheated by $11.4bn Forest City sale [FinancialTimes] • SoftBank has committed $3 billion to WeWork in a deal that values the company at about $45 billion [WSJ] • Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, says Facebook is addictive like cigarettes [MSNBC] • Steve Cohen raises $5bn from outside investors [FinancialTimes] • Joshua Kushner’s start-up Oscar Health sues Florida Blue for allegedly running Obamacare insurance monopoly [CNBC] • Richard Plepler’s HBO has announced that the final “Game of Thrones” season will debut in April [CNN] • Dexia Israel accepts Discount Bank’s $181 mln cash offer [Reuters] • Dips and spreads lift Israeli foodmaker Strauss’s third-quarter profit [Reuters]
WeWork’s Rise: How a Sublet Start-Up Is Taking Over —by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “WeWork has gobbled up leases for so much space in so many cities, there’s a compelling case to be made that its landlords wouldn’t be able to afford for it to go under. Because of WeWork’s size, “they have more power in a down market,” said Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the longtime real estate investor and founder of Colony Capital.” [NYTimes]
Architects, activists slam Jerusalem Old City cable car plan — by Isabel Debre: “An Israeli plan to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s historic Old City has united architects and Palestinian activists in opposition to a project they say is both an eyesore and a ploy to entrench Israeli control over the city’s contested eastern sector. Developers say the proposed project is meant to relieve snarling traffic and will ferry some 3,000 tourists an hour… The cable car would run 1,400 meters (nearly one mile), launching from the First Station, a popular food and cultural center in West Jerusalem, sailing over the city’s ancient valley, stopping at Mount Zion… and proceeding through the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan before alighting at the tourist center.”[ABCNews]
JERUSALEM MAYORAL RESULTS — Moshe Leon elected Jerusalem Mayor in dramatic finish — by Tal Schneider: “In the tightest of races for Jerusalem Mayor, right-wing candidate Moshe Leon beat his independent secular rival Ofer Berkovitch in a nail-biting dramatic finish in the second-round runoff by 51.46% to 48.54%… Leon, an accountant and former director-general of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, will become the first-ever mayor of Jerusalem of Sephardi descent… This election exposed the deep rift in the Jerusalem ultra-orthodox community with the Hasidic (Agudat Yisrael) wing failing to endorse Leon, while the Lithuanian-Haredim (Degel Hatorah) backed Lion. Berkovitch, who led for most the vote counting, said, “The result was not good but does give the foundations of hope for a new Israel.” [Globes]
Shalom Lipner emails us… “As the dust settles on the race for City Hall, Jerusalemites – and their new mayor, Moshe Leon – will wake up to confront the same mundane problems as before, including: the exodus of young people and income earners from the capital, a housing crunch and failing municipal services. Low voter turnout reflects a general malaise, with plenty of residents ready to lament their predicament, but not even ready to cast their ballots. Moving forward, the acute challenge for Leon will be to govern as representative of all the city’s inhabitants, at a time when he holds no independent power base — Leon’s faction did not win one single City Council seat — and will thus be entirely beholden to the special interests who helped him win election and will comprise his coalition.”
TALK OF THE TOWN — Camp Hess Kramer and Camp Hilltop helped give life to the Chicano movement of the ’60s. They were destroyed in fire: “One of the first things Rabbi Alfred Wolf did after joining the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in 1949 was start a camping program for children. Wolf envisioned a place that would be the antithesis of the Nazi Germany he escaped… The rabbi built two camps in Malibu: the beach side Hess Kramer and its sister camp Hilltop. In the 1960s, they became another home for a group of young Latinos who helped launch the Chicano movement. On Monday, the camps’ director, Seth Toybes, confirmed that Camp Hilltop was destroyed by the Woolsey fire.” [LATimes]
SPORTS BLINK — Chelsea in talks over match against New England Revolution to highlight fight against anti-Semitism: “Last week, Robert Kraft, the owner of the Revolution and the New England Patriots, told the World Jewish Congress he had spoken to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich about a game that would see both men donate $1 million to the fight against anti-Semitism… Sources told ESPN FC that talks remain in the early stages, with the match set to take place in New England. Kraft had indicated it could be played in the spring, but Chelsea’s packed schedule means the only available date at that time would be the March international break, when many of their biggest names would be representing their countries.” [ESPN]
SCENE YESTERDAY IN DC — Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) addressed a Congressional reception — hosted by Ezra Friedlander and Shafik Gabr, International Chairman of the Anwar Sadat Congressional Gold Medal Commission, and attended by Egyptian Ambassador to the U.S. Yasser Reda — marking the passage of the Anwar Sadat Centennial Celebration Act at the Senate’s Kennedy Caucus Room. [Pic; Pic]
SPOTTED: Sol Goldner, Tzili Charney, Aubrey Sharfman, Stanley Treitel, Gil Kapen, Joseph Stamm, Isaac Dabah, Shafik Gabr, Amb. H. Russell Taub, Ken Abramowitz, Aryeh Goldberg, Suhail Khan, Prof. Marshal J. Breger, Jack Avital, Rep. Darrell Issa, Matt Nosanchuk, Nick Muzin, Yeruchem Silber, Chesky Blau, Gabriella Friedlander, Shai Franklin, Sharon Wilkes, Pamela Thiessen, Rep. Claudia Tenney, Rep. Bradley Byrne, and Senator Chris Van Hollen.
COMING SOON — Leonard Cohen Exhibition to Come to New York — by Sara Aridi: “Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything,” first presented by the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, will make its first stop on a worldwide tour at the Jewish Museum in April. It will be on view there until September before traveling to Copenhagen and San Francisco. Organized by the curators John Zeppetelli and Victor Shiffman, the multimedia exhibition features commissioned works by international artists and pays tribute to Cohen’s music, poetry and lyrics.” [NYTimes]
DESSERT — Kosherfest Is Putting A New Spin On The Jewish Food Industry: “For three decades, “Kosherfest” has been wowing many in the Jewish food industry… “There are so many types of food that people never ever thought would be kosher, today is kosher,” the event’s founder, Menachem Lubinsky explained. Lubinsky founded Kosherfest 30 years ago and looked to bring together industry professionals so they could brainstorm and share new products… With more than 420 booths and over 7,000 visitors from 21 countries, it’s the world’s largest kosher-certified products trade show in the world.” [CBSNewYork]
BIRTHDAYS: Vice chairman of The Atlantic and managing director of media at Emerson Collective, Peter T. Lattman turns 48… Former president of the University of Chicago (1993-2000), where he continues to teach economics, Hugo F. Sonnenschein, Ph.D. turns 78… Cellist and professor at Moscow Conservatoire, Natalia Gutman turns 76… Former professional body-builder who played two seasons with the New York Jets, Mike Katz turns 74… Los Angeles community leader, Stanley Treitel turns 74… Member of the UK’s House of Lords since 2010, he is a former Chairman of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, Baron Jeremy Beecham turns 74… British Labour party member of Parliament since 1997, Dame Louise Joyce Ellmanturns 73… Managing editor of Bloomberg’s opinion section, Jonathan I. Landman turns 66… Democratic member of the New York State Assembly since 2001 from Brooklyn, Steven H. Cymbrowitz turns 65…
US Secretary of State (2005-2009), now on the faculties of Stanford University and the Hoover Institution, Condoleezza Rice turns 64… Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama throughout his eight year term in the White House, Valerie Jarrett turns 62… Senior communications officer at the Detroit-based William Davidson Foundation, Cynthia Shaw… President of Middlebury College in Vermont since 2015, Laurie L. Patton turns 57… Partner at the Santa Monica-based law firm of Murphy Rosen, Edward A. Klein turns 55… Senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, professor of political science at George Washington University and associate editor of The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, Sarah A. Binder turns 54… Deputy National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes turns 41… Founder of White Light Strategies, known for her innovative approaches to philanthropy including the Giving Circles Fund and the One Percent Foundation, Lana Talya Volftsun Fern turns 32… Senior Director at Albright Stonebridge Group, he was previously a speechwriter for Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta, Jacob Freedman…
DRIVING THE DAY — Jerusalemites are heading to the polls today to elect their mayor for the next five years. The two candidates in the runoff election, Ofer Berkovitch and Moshe Leon, are locked in a tight race to replace outgoing mayor Nir Barkat after the Agudath Israel faction decided not to endorse any candidate due to internal politics. Leon — initially regarded as the frontrunner — has the backing of much of the ultra-Orthodox (Shas and Degel HaTorah factions) and right-wing parties in the city. Berkovitch, 35, who represents the secularist flank of the city, hopes the divisions among the ultra-Orthodox vote will leave him with an open path to win.
This was not an issues-based campaign, rather a lot of political maneuvering and handshaking between the candidates, according to Amy Spiro, a writer for the Jerusalem Post. Leon, who is religious, emerged as the victor in the first round, beating the Haredi candidate Yossi Deitch. Leon, 57, is now viewed as the ‘Haredi’ candidate running against a secular opponent. Leon was also endorsed by Barkat, who won his reelection bid against Leon in 2013 due to a split within the ultra-Orthodox community.
WHY IT MATTERS — “The result is less important than the extraordinary dynamics in the Haredi community leading up to it,” Anshel Pfeffer, a writer for Haaretz and a resident of Jerusalem, tells Jewish Insider. “For the last 25 years, the different factions in the ultra-Orthodox world, despite their disagreements, could usually be relied upon to get together at the crucial moment before elections. What we’re seeing in the last few weeks is an unprecedented breakdown both in the Haredi leadership and the grassroots. It’s not just the split between Hasidim and Lithuanians, it’s a generational divide, between those who automatically carry out the instructions of the rabbis and a younger generation who are more prepared to vote on their own views and inclinations.”
Pfeffer added, “On the streets of Jerusalem’s Haredi neighborhoods, you can meet today young people who openly admit that they are voting what they want. That’s new and it will have long-term implications for Israeli politics and for the Haredi-Likud alliance that existed for the last two decades.”
According to Jeremy Saltan, a Bayit Yehudi insider, the fact that Leon has the overwhelming support from the coalition government — which enjoys a majority in the country nationally ― will give him the edge in this race. “Berkovitch is a welcome name in the opposition, but unwelcome in the majority of the coalition government,” Saltan told Jewish Insider.
Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, tells us: “What’s at stake is the ability of people like my children to imagine a future for themselves in Jerusalem. This is one of those moments that requires an angry prophet to rise up in Jerusalem and point the finger at the political manipulators who are playing politics with the jewel in our crown, Jerusalem. I think this is a crucial election and the two candidates could not be more clear about the kind of Jerusalem that each represents, and I’m deeply worried for the future of my city if it falls into the wrong hands. Leon will be a tool for the far right and the ultra-Orthodox, who together will squeeze the vitality out of Jerusalem. Berkovitch represents those who want to see Jerusalem remain pluralistic, open to the world, the capital of all Israelis who live there.”
ON THE GROUND — Cost of Botched Gaza Spy Mission? Israel’s Back on Brink of War — by David Halbfinger: “After a botched intelligence mission by undercover commandos left seven Palestinian fighters dead, the militant group Hamas and other armed factions mounted an intense and escalating rocket and mortar barrage across much of southern Israel that continued into Tuesday morning… More than 400 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel, and the Israeli military said it had struck more than 100 military targets in Gaza… Each side repeatedly warned the other to back down, but refused to do so itself… Israel’s security cabinet was meeting on Tuesday, and officials said the government was spurning, for the moment, offers by Egypt and the United Nations to try to broker a cease-fire.” [NYTimes; TheGuardian]
— “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to strike a careful balance between preventing what would be the fourth war with Gaza since 2007 while also facing increased pressure from others in his cabinet to deal a decisive blow to Gaza ruler Hamas.” [WSJ]
LATEST UPDATE: The Israeli security cabinet concluded its meeting on the Gaza situation at the army’s headquarters in Tel Aviv after seven hours of marathon discussions. A senior Israeli diplomatic official appeared to confirm that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
TALK OF THE REGION — Recording Is Seen to Link Saudi Crown Prince More Strongly to Khashoggi Killing — by Julian Barnes, Eric Schmitt and David Kirkpatrick: “Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated last month, a member of the kill team instructed a superior over the phone to “tell your boss,” believed to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, that the operatives had carried out their mission, according to three people familiar with a recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing collected by Turkish intelligence. The recording, shared last month with the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.”
“Investigators were unlikely to collect a piece of evidence that incontrovertibly links the crown prince to the killing, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who is set to lead the House Intelligence Committee next year. “You are not going to have any of the people who carried out the murder speak openly about who they got their orders from or who is in the loop on it,” Mr. Schiff said in an interview. “That is not realistic to expect.”[NYTimes]
— U.S. says audio recording of Khashoggi killing does not implicate Saudi crown prince — by Shibani Mahtani and Louisa Loveluck: “National security adviser John Bolton, speaking on the sidelines of a regional summit in Singapore, said that he had not listened to the tape himself, but that it was the assessment of “those who have listened to it” that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler is not implicated.” [WashPost]
ON THE HILL — Bipartisan Sentencing Overhaul Moves Forward, but Rests on Trump — by Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman: “A bipartisan group of senators has reached a deal on the most substantial rewrite of the nation’s sentencing and prison laws in a generation, giving judges more latitude to sidestep mandatory minimum sentences and easing drug sentences… Lawmakers and outside advocates involved in the push expect Mr. Trump to render his judgment on the package as soon as this week. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and the leading voice within the White House for the changes, is likely to brief Mr. Trump on the bill during a broader discussion of legislative priorities with top policy officials on Tuesday.”[NYTimes]
Two ex-CIA officers are coming to Congress. Here’s how they want to improve security policy — by Cat Zakrzewski: “Former Central Intelligence Agency officers Abigail Spanberger and Elissa Slotkin won their House races last week and will be representing Virginia and Michigan respectively. They’re coming to Washington at a time when Congress is expected to address a wide range of cybersecurity issues… Very few lawmakers have experience in cybersecurity or even more broadly in the technology industry.”
“Spanberger was an operations officer for the CIA for eight years with a focus on international counterterrorism. Before joining the CIA, Spanberger worked as a federal law enforcement officer, working on narcotics and money laundering cases with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The CIA recruited Slotkin after Sept. 11, 2001, to be a Middle East analyst. Slotkin, who is fluent in Arabic, did three tours in Iraq. She later became the director of Iraq policy at the National Security Council and then moved to the State Department and the Pentagon, rising to acting assistant secretary of defense for international security.” [WashPost]
DONOR CIRCUIT — Money troubles: The GOP’s problem with cash — by Alex Isenstadt: “Among the lessons Republicans say they learned this year is that the party can no longer just rely on a few billionaire megadonors like Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson… While the 85-year-old Adelson remains a crucial source of funding, Republicans concede their advantage in billionaire giving has narrowed considerably… Some Republicans, however, see reason for optimism. In July, the Republican Jewish Coalition, an organization partly funded by Adelson, launched an ActBlue-like portal inviting supporters to give small donations to a list of endorsed candidates. The effort generated about $400,000 in contributions, an indication to its proponents that conservative small donors could be drawn to such a platform.” [Politico]
2020 WATCH — Sherrod Brown for president? He’s thinking about it — by Jessica Wehrman: “Sen. Sherrod Brown, who won a third term last week to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate, said Monday he is considering running for president in 2020. Brown… said he’s hearing “sort of a crescendo” of interest in him seeking the White House… “We’re hearing it increase, so we’re thinking about it as a result,” he said, adding, “we’re not close to saying yes.” David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron, said Brown considering a run “makes a whole lot of sense.” “If he were to secure the nomination, Ohio would absolutely be in play, which is pretty enormous considering the 18 electoral votes it brings along with it,” he said.” [ColumbusDispatch]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, mysteriously arrives in Washington — by Shannon K. Crawford and Luke Barr: “Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney and close associate, arrived in Washington, D.C., Monday morning, accompanied by one of his own criminal defense lawyers. The purpose of Cohen’s travel is unclear.” [ABCNews]
Harvey Weinstein’s Secret Weapon Is a ‘Bloodhound’ NYPD Detective Turned Private Eye — by Lachlan Cartwright and Pervaiz Shallwani: “Herman Weisberg is the man the rich and famous turn to when they need someone investigated, or to shut down blackmail plots and extortion threats. Current and former associates describe him as a “bloodhound” investigator with an expertise in finding and interrogating witnesses. That includes Weinstein’s defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, who credits Weisberg for a recent string of successes against prosecutors. “Whatever success I may have in the Weinstein case, Herman has played a substantial part in those accomplishments,” Brafman told The Daily Beast.” [DailyBeast]
** 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: Palantir Has a $20 Billion Valuation and a Bigger Problem: It Keeps Losing Money [WSJ] • Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital proposes office complex – likely HQ – in Miami Beach [TheRealDeal] • Bird e-scooters expands Israel operations to Ramat Gan [Globes]
STARTUP NATION — Competition to AmazonGo Is Coming From an Unlikely Source — by Yaacov Benmeleh: “Shufersal Ltd., Israel’s largest supermarket chain, is partnering with local startup Trigo Vision Ltd. to eliminate the need for cashiers in its 272 stores, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. Trigo’s platform uses a feed from ceiling cameras to identify items in a customer’s shopping cart, which are tallied to produce the bill. It’s surprising Israel would be among the first countries to say farewell to the supermarket checkout line, as its startups traditionally pay little attention to the domestic market.” [Bloomberg]
The Tycoons Ruled Over Israel. Then Came Billionaire Paul Singer — by Yaacov Benmeleh: “Two weeks into the year, Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. disclosed a large stake in Israel’s biggest telecommunications company and demanded an overhaul of the board. Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp. had been effectively controlled for years by Shaul Elovitch through holdings that allowed him to translate a small upfront investment into a tight grip on the company. Then within a few months, Singer replaced the Elovitch loyalists with independents… It was a lesson in activism for the country’s investors. For years, they had watched how a few tycoons influenced boardrooms through layers of debt-laden companies that gave them a disproportionate voice in strategic decisions… After Elliott’s campaign, more shareholders started to follow suit, taking on Israel’s largest grocery chain and its second-biggest oil refinery.” [Bloomberg]
MOVING ON — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Shops Around for a Cable News Gig — by Maxwell Tani: “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may finally get paid for a job he’s been doing for free for years: offering opinions on national politics. Emanuel… has attended meetings in New York with top executives at MSNBC and CNN in recent weeks, and discussed a potential future as a cable news pundit… In recent months, the outgoing Democratic mayor has been represented by agents with William Morris Endeavor, the talent agency and entertainment behemoth where his brother Ari Emanuel is the co-CEO.” [DailyBeast]
TRANSITION — Former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa joins Washington lobbying firm — by Theodoric Meyer: “Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who made an unsuccessful run for California governor earlier this year, is joining a Washington consulting firm… [as] co-chairman of Mercury, which lobbies for clients from Hyundai to the governments of Qatar and Turkey… Villaraigosa is Mercury’s highest-profile hire since the firm was caught up last year in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” [Politico]
REMEMBERING — Stan Lee, creator of superheroes, dies at 95 — by Alexander Remington and Michael Cavna: “Stan Lee, a writer and editor often credited with helping American comics grow up by redefining the notion of a superhero, including the self-doubting Spider-Man… died Nov. 12 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 95. Mr. Lee’s name became synonymous with the company that would become Marvel Comics, which he joined as a teenage assistant and stayed with for much of his adult life… Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York City on Dec. 28, 1922, the eldest son of Romanian Jewish immigrants. His father was a dress cutter who was frequently out of work. Mr. Lee came by his pen name as a teenager. He claimed he changed his name not because of anti-Semitism, like many comic book artists, but because he wanted to preserve his real name to write a real book.” [WashPost]
RISING STAR — Broadway’s Next Evan Hansen? A 16-Year-Old High School Junior — by Gabe Cohn: “On Jan. 30, Andrew Barth Feldman will be taking over the role of Evan Hansen — a high school senior with social anxiety — in the Broadway musical, which won six Tony Awards in 2017, including the award for best musical and best performance by a leading actor in a musical for Ben Platt. The show currently stars Taylor Trensch. Mr. Feldman will be the first teenager to lead the Broadway cast. His audition for “Dear Evan Hansen” in July was his first for a Broadway show.” [NYTimes]
NEW FORBES 30 UNDER 30 LIST — Forbes released its 2019 list of rising young entrepreneurs in North America this morning. Included on this year’s list: Leah Cohen-Shohet, VP of Symphony, a 300-person, four-year-old startup offering secure messaging for Wall Street firms… Charlie Javice, founder of Frank, which aims to ease the application process for student loans… Aliza Rosen, Senior Product Manager at Twitter… Betches Media, women’s lifestyle and entertainment site co-founded by CEO Aleen Kuperman, COO Samantha Fishbein and CCO Jordana Abraham… Newsletter The Morning Brew, launched by CEO Alex Lieberman and COO Austin Rief… Jerusalem-based reporter Trey Yingst, Foreign Correspondent, Fox News… Addie Lerner, Principal at VC firm General Catalyst… Arielle Zuckerberg, Partner at Coatue Management… Abe Sutton, Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar…
DESSERT — How Impossible Foods makes its plant-based “blood” — by Adele Peters: “Inside an office at Impossible Foods’ Silicon Valley R&D center, a researcher holds up what looks like a bowl of blood and a spoon. “This is heme,” she says. It was made with a protein found in the roots of soybean plants, but it has the same slightly metallic taste and the aroma of blood. And it’s the innovation that has given the Impossible Burger its meteoric rise… The goal is to convert meat lovers, not feed vegetarians, in order to help shrink beef’s outsize environmental footprint. Impossible wants to give customers the same experience as they would have with meat.” [FastCompany]
BIRTHDAYS: Harold Waldenberg turns 98… Israeli industrialist with holdings in energy, real estate and automobile distributorships, Gad Zeevi turns 79… Philosopher and professor at CUNY since 2002, Saul Kripke turns 78… Chief Rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Shmuel Riccardo Di Segni turns 69… Long-time NPR political editor focused on Congressional races, now publisher of the independent “Political Junkie” blog and podcast, Kenneth Rudin turns 68… Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit since 1997, he was nominated by President Obama to the Supreme Court in 2016 but was never granted a confirmation hearing by the Senate, Judge Merrick Garland turns 66… Once the controlling stockholder of a large Israeli conglomerate, Nochi Dankner turns 64… San Jose, California resident, Katherine (Katya) Palkin turns 50… Somali-born activist who has served in the Dutch parliament and as a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, Ayaan Hirsi Ali turns 49… Retired Israeli government minister for the Shas party, Ariel Atias turns 48…
Founder of Pailet Financial Services, a predecessor agency of what is now the Dallas office of the Marsh & McLennan, Kevin Pailet turns 47… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Kulanu party, Meirav Ben-Ari turns 43… Host of NBC’s “Rossen Reports,” investigative journalist and author of a book on avoiding consumer scams, dangers and catastrophes, Jeff Rossen turns 42… President of baseball operations for MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, he previously served as the general manager for the Tampa Bay Rays, Andrew Friedmanturns 42… Israeli rapper and record producer, generally known by his stage name “Subliminal,” Yaakov (Kobi) Shimoni turns 39… Judoka who won three national titles (2000, 2002 and 2004), she competed for the US at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Charlee Minkin turns 37… PR and communications director in the office of Ronald S. Lauder, Mark Botnickturns 34… Relief pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Troy Neiman turns 28… Communications director at Christians United For Israel, Ari Morgenstern…
VETERANS DAY — The Jewish Boxer Who Helped the Allies Turn the Tide of World War I — by Matthew Pearl: “Benjamin Kaufman, a tenacious boxer from Brooklyn, stuck by his men and never shied away from a fight. His grit helped America win in the Argonne. Born March 10, 1894, Kaufman spent his earliest years on a farm upstate before the family settled in Brooklyn. Between his foreign heritage (his parents came from Russia) and being Jewish—not to mention his eight older siblings—he had to learn to defend himself. “Unless you could fight in East New York in Brooklyn at that time, you just didn’t have a chance,” he later recalled.”
“Jews were a disproportionately large percentage of the U.S. military in the First World War, and the government even appointed a number of Jewish chaplains to serve the Armed Forces. Still, suspicion and distrust of minorities festered. Jewish communities in America were a relatively recent phenomenon and retained a foreign aura. The U.S. military, like most institutions, was rife with anti-Semitism, and a Jewish soldier had to carefully navigate it. The war provided an international stage to showcase their contributions.” [DailyBeast]
TOP TALKER — Saudis Close to Crown Prince Discussed Killing Other Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi’s Death — by Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman and David Kirkpatrick: “Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom… George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting. He had met previously with Prince Mohammed, and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials. Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies.” [NYTimes]
Jackson Diehl writes… “Why is Israel tossing a lifeline to Jamal Khashoggi’s killers? Netanyahu’s problem is that in betting so heavily on Mohammed and Trump, he took a large risk with two very unstable actors, each of whom has polarized their political systems. If Mohammed survives… he will be weakened and wary. He won’t be able to deliver the Palestinians for Trump’s peace plan… Trump, too, has been weakened by the Democrats’ capture of the House of Representatives — and so has Netanyahu.”
“While key Democratic leaders in the incoming House, including likely speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), are staunchly pro-Israel, many of their new rank and file will not be. And a lot of Republicans, as well as Democrats, will be repelled by Netanyahu’s appeals on Mohammed’s behalf.” [WashPost]
Once Censored, Billionaire Saudi Prince Returns to Spotlight — by Benoit Faucon and Summer Said: “Billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal has returned as the kingdom’s public face for global investors… Another sign of Prince al-Waleed’s return to the royal court’s graces is his fresh spree of deals with international investors… He also is in talks with Leonard Blavatnik, owner of Warner Music Group, and other executives to invest in his Riyadh-based entertainment company, Rotana Media Group.” [WSJ]
TRANSITION — A former head of the Mossad has joined controversial Israeli spy firm Black Cube — by Adam Pasick: “Efraim Halevy, the former head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, has joined the board of Black Cube… Black Cube may soon face a US congressional subpoena seeking information about its operations targeting Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, former Obama national security officials who helped to forge the Iran nuclear deal. Democrats on the House government oversight committee unsuccessfully requested the subpoena in July, when they were in the minority; they are set to retake control in January following last week’s US midterm elections.” [Quartz]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan will be published “soon” — by Barak Ravid: “White House Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a speech at a closed event in London earlier this week that the U.S. “will soon be ready to publish” President Trump’s long awaited [peace] plan.” [Axios]
Abbas threatens new measures against Hamas — by Khaled Abu Toameh: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas… speaking during a rally in Ramallah on Sunday marking the 14th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat… lashed out at the US and Israel… “There is an American conspiracy in the form of the deal of the century, and there is an Israeli conspiracy to implement the deal,” Abbas said… Abbas said that the PLO Central Council… has decided to make a series of “decisive decisions” in the coming days to determine the future of Palestinian relations with Hamas, Israel and the US.” [JPost]
ON THE GROUND — Covert Israeli military operation in Gaza exposed, igniting new tensions — by Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha: “A senior Israeli military officer and seven militants, including a Hamas commander, were killed overnight Sunday after a covert operation by Israel inside the Gaza Strip appeared to have been exposed, sparking an exchange of fire, airstrikes and later a barrage of rocket fire… The Israeli military remained tight-lipped over exact details of the incident late Sunday night. A statement from the army’s General Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot only said a special force had been engaged in a “very meaningful operation for Israel’s security.” … Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris over the weekend to return to Israel.” [WashPost; NYTimes]
Netanyahu calls Paris conversation with Putin ‘very important’ — by Dan Williams: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin at World War One commemorations on Sunday, their first meeting since the downing of a Russian plane during an Israeli air raid in Syria in September. “The conversation with President Putin was good and businesslike. I would even describe it as very important,” Netanyahu told reporters after the ceremony in Paris, adding that he also spoke there with U.S. President Donald Trump.” [Reuters]
Raphael Ahren reports: “Some 70 world leaders attended the central memorial event Sunday on the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, but only Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not arrive at the venue with a bus like everyone else, but were ushered in separately. During the solemn event, Netanyahu and his wife Sara sat in the front row, next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and only a few meters away from Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.” [ToI]
Wife of GOP megadonor to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom — by Quint Forgey: “Miriam Adelson will receive the medal along with six other “distinguished individuals” at a ceremony on Friday, the White House said… In its brief biography of Miriam Adelson, the White House described her as “a committed doctor, philanthropist, and humanitarian,” as well as “a committed member of the American Jewish community.” [Politico]
HOW IT PLAYED ― Miriam Adelson gave the GOP millions. Trump is giving her the Medal of Freedom — by Michael Brice-Saddler: “The release does not mention that the Adelsons also contributed at least $87 million to GOP candidates in the 2018 midterms… Adelson’s selection… raised some questions about her qualifications for the award and also whether the White House was rewarding a donor.” [WashPost] • Elvis, Babe Ruth, Miriam Adelson: Trump’s Very Trumpy Picks for the Medal of Freedom [VanityFair]
COMING SOON – Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the keynote address at the annual conference of the Israeli American Council on Friday, November 30th, in South Florida. The IAC is largely funded by Sheldon and Mirian Adelson.
HAPPENING TODAY — Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, will be honored for his 60 years of ministry at an event hosted by CUFI in Jerusalem. Ambassador David Friedman is expected to deliver remarks in honor of Hagee. “The State of Israel is fortunate to have you on our side,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to say in a video address, according to excerpts obtained by Jewish Insider.
ON THE HILL — “The House has a light floor schedule this week… Expect plenty of non-controversial items including “the posthumous award of a Congressional Gold Medal to Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl in recognition of his acts of valor during World War II.” [Axios]
MIDTERMS — Dana Rohrabacher Loses, Eroding Republican Foothold in California — by Adam Nagourney: “Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican fixture in California who represented Orange County for 15 terms, has lost his bid for re-election… [Harley] Rouda, 56, is a former Republican turned Democrat who became a symbol of the Democratic efforts to win back Congress this year. Mr. Rohrabacher, 71, was viewed as particularly vulnerable because he defended Russia in the midst of allegations about its efforts to intervene in elections in the United States.” [NYTimes]
— During the campaign, Rohrabacher came under fire for attending a fundraiser with an alleged Holocaust denier and endorsing an alt-right activist criticized for anti-Semitism. “It’s clear that Dana Rohrabacher has embraced anti-Semitism and individuals who support it,” Rouda charged in an interview with Jewish Insider last month.
DEEP DIVE — Inside Bill Browder’s War Against Putin — by Marie Brenner: “Browder’s eldest son, Joshua, was monitoring the Helsinki press conference from Palo Alto. The 21-year-old, who helps oversee his father’s digital operation, was taken aback when [Vladimir] Putin, with an expression of feline self-satisfaction, declared: “Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. . . . We have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions, so we have an interest in questioning them.” Joshua immediately texted his father: “Now you have truly made it.” He heard nothing back. Then Joshua felt gut-punched. He saw Trump nod at Putin and call the idea of both sides questioning the other’s suspects as “an incredible offer.” The younger Browder recalled being “shocked. I was really concerned. I was picturing Department of Homeland Security agents coming for him.” [VanityFair]
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — A White House Challenge: Balancing the Roles of the First Lady and First Daughter — by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers: “As her role has evolved, Ivanka Trump has let family friends know in the clearest terms that she is in the White House to help her father by using her charm and contacts to cut through Washington’s bureaucracy, particularly with Congress… Like her father, Ms. Trump is acutely aware of her news coverage: A rotating cast of White House aides have often tried to get her credit in the news media for issues she has worked on. Her meetings are often summarized by the White House press office and emailed to reporters, a move that is not routinely extended to other senior advisers to Mr. Trump.”
“Ivanka Trump’s interest in politics had led her to forge alliances with moderate Republicans, including Senator Susan Collins of Maine, as well as with newly minted Trump confidants like Mr. Graham.” [NYTimes]
2020 WATCH — Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz assembles an elite PR team as he considers running for president — by Brian Schwartz: “Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf said he believes Schultz is putting together a group that could help in a variety of ways if he chooses to run for president. “He wants to show people he can put together a team quickly and the best presidential campaigns have people from multidisciplinary sectors, from the private sector to those in political work. It’s smart. The Clinton’s first campaign had film makers. So did Ronald Reagan,” Sheinkopf said.” [CNBC]
Deval Patrick’s Presidential Prospects — by Jeffrey Toobin: “Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is a businessman, but so are Michael Bloomberg, Howard Schultz, and Tom Steyer. Still, Patrick would enter the race with one significant distinction: he is a kind of political heir to Barack Obama, and enjoys broad support from people close to the former President… “Deval is a very genuine person, a very empathetic person,” David Axelrod, who has been a strategist for Patrick as well as for Obama, told me. “He is a guy who makes people feel comfortable. He’s very principled, you can see that—just like Obama.” [NewYorker]
** 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: Dr. Karnit Flug to conclude term as Bank of Israel governor [JPost] • Elliott and Veritas team up to buy Athenahealth for $5.5bn [FinancialTimes] • Facebook has named Anne Kornblut to the new position of Director of News, New Initiatives [Axios] • Why Did Facebook Fire Palmer Luckey, a Top Executive? Hint: It Had Something to Do With Trump [WSJ] • 10 Israeli Startups Shaping The Cities Of Tomorrow [Forbes] • Israeli cyber firm NSO in talks to buy Fifth Dimension [Reuters]
TALK OF THE VALLEY — Tech C.E.O.s Are in Love With Their Principal Doomsayer — by Nellie Bowles: “The futurist philosopher Yuval Noah Harari worries about a lot. He worries that Silicon Valley is undermining democracy and ushering in a dystopian hellscape in which voting is obsolete. He worries that by creating powerful influence machines to control billions of minds, the big tech companies are destroying the idea of a sovereign individual with free will… But lately, Harari is anxious about something much more personal. If this is his harrowing warning, then why do Silicon Valley C.E.O.s love him so? “One possibility is that my message is not threatening to them, and so they embrace it?” a puzzled Mr. Harari said one afternoon in October. “For me, that’s more worrying. Maybe I’m missing something?”
“When Mr. Harari toured the Bay Area this fall to promote his latest book, the reception was incongruously joyful. Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, threw him a dinner party. The leaders of X, Alphabet’s secretive research division, invited Mr. Harari over… “I’m drawn to Yuval for his clarity of thought,” Jack Dorsey, the head of Twitter and Square, wrote in an email, going on to praise a particular chapter on meditation.” [NYTimes]
STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — YieldStreet wants to make exotic bets available to individual investors online — by Josh Saul and Claire Boston: “YieldStreet is selling alternative investments normally reserved for billionaires and hedge funds to individuals who are so-called accredited investors… It all began when [Milind] Mehere… joined forces with Dennis Shields and Michael Weisz to create a digital platform… Weisz worked from 2009 to 2013 as an analyst at a unit of Centurion Credit Management, a hedge fund that in 2011 became part of Platinum Partners… YieldStreet supports loosening the definition of accredited investor. “We believe firmly that the concept is outdated,” Weisz says… If YieldStreet gets its way, it will be poised to grow. It doesn’t lack ambition. “I think we only have one real competitor,” Weisz says, “and that would be Goldman Sachs.” [Bloomberg]
STARTUP NATION — Desperate for Tech Talent, Israel Turns to an Untapped Labor Pool: Palestinians — by Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber: “Israel’s innovative technology sector—which inspired the nickname “Startup Nation”—faces a shortage of 10,000 software programmers and engineers, the government says, posing one of the biggest threats to economic growth outside of war with its neighbors. The reasons include competition from American companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon and Microsoft Corp. that are willing to pay high salaries for Israeli talent. Israel’s immigration laws also make it difficult to import skilled non-Jewish workers.” [WSJ]
HOLLYWOOD — Gerard Butler posts image of Malibu home burned in wildfire — by Danielle Garrand: “The Woolsey and Hill Fires have been blazing through Southern California, forcing some residents to flee their homes and hope there will be something left when they come back. Actor Gerard Butler returned to his Malibu residence Sunday and posted a devastating photo showing it in ruins.” [CBSNews]
— Amy Spiro tweets: “Last month, visiting Israel, Gerard Butler said he hoped his house in Los Angeles would burn down so he’d have an excuse to stay in Israel. This week… Gerard Butler’s house in Los Angeles burned down.”
PROFILE — Ofer Berkovitch: The secular mayor candidate challenging Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox bloc for the soul of the holy city — by Raf Sanchez: “Ofer Berkovitch, a 35-year-old city councilor… is facing off in Tuesday’s election against Moshe Lion, a Right-wing politician who once worked for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. While Mr. Lion is only moderately religious, he has courted ultra-Orthodox leaders… Mr. Berkovitch, the underdog in the race, has accused his opponent of “backroom deals.” “We’re not against the ultra-Orthodox, we want to serve everyone. But we want to have services for everyone, not one community above the other,” he said… He goes into Tuesday’s final round of the election as the underdog. But not all the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have backed Mr. Lion and some have scorned him because of his links to Israel’s secular defence minister. Mr. Berkovitch is hoping those divisions among ultra-Orthodox voters will leave open up a path for him to reach the mayor’s office.” [Telegraph]
How Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra of Israeli and Arab musicians is faring in the current political climate — by Mark Swed: “Classical music is a very important element in a human being’s life,” stresses Daniel Barenboim, who is sitting in his office at the Staatsoper unter der Linden, Berlin State Opera, which he has headed since 1992… His West-Eastern Divan Orchestra formed in 1999 to train young Israeli and Arab musicians together. And right now he is moving WEDO across America… Barenboim… is just as adamant in his condemnation of violence on both sides as he is on Israel’s right for security. As for anti-Semitism: “It must be fought and as hard as possible; there is no excuse for it.” [LATimes]
Scott Shay writes… “What is unique about anti-Semitism? It is not the Jews’ success, nor their actual power that is the source of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has often proliferated at times when the Jews were poor and powerless. Jews who tried returning to their home towns in Europe after surviving the concentration camps could certainly attest to that. Rather, it is the Jews’ historic connection with monotheism that has made them the central target of this projected idolatry.” [PostGazette]
SCENE OVER THE WEEKEND — Met Council CEO David Greenfield and Rabbi Mendel Zarchi hosted a reception Friday night at the annual SOMOS conference, a confab of Hispanic officials in Puerto Rico at the Chabad Center in San Juan. Speakers included Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who spoke about the special relationship between New York and Israel. [Pic]
SPOTTED: NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Councilmembers Justin Brannan, Barry Grodenchik, Karen Koslowitz, Mark Levine, Ruben Diaz Sr., Daniel Dromm, Rafael Espinal, Robert Holden, Rory Lancman, Carlina Rivera, Ydanis Rodriguez, Helen Rosenthal and Alika Amprey Samuel; Assemblymembers Steve Cymbrowitz, Rodneyse Bichotte, Michael Blake, Nily Rozic, Alfred Taylor, Latrice Walker and David Weprin; State Senator Mike Gianaris, Rabbi Michael Miller, Jason Goldman, Lew Fidler, Phil Goldfeder, Dave Mertz, Joel Lefkowitz, Tuli Weiss, Jeff Leb, Ben Segal, Zack Fink, Yoav Gonen, and Jennifer Fermino.
SPOTTED: Rabbi Michael Miller, David Greenfield, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), NY Attorney General-elect Tish James, Andrew Gross, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Haley Broder, Phil Goldfeder, Councilman Mark Levine, and Jeff Leb.
REMEMBERING — Scholar Who Escaped Nazis Dies After a Push by a Subway Rider in a Rush — by Ashley Southall: “[Kurt] Salzinger, 89, and his wife were on their way to Macy’s Herald Square on Oct. 27, when a hurried straphanger rushed past them on a subway platform in Penn Station, the police said. The man shoved the couple out of his path with an arm that knocked them both to the ground… Dr. Salzinger… was hospitalized with bleeding of the brain from the fall, and later contracted pneumonia… He died on Thursday… Mr. Salzinger was born in Vienna in 1929. As the Nazis marched into the country in 1938, he escaped with his father, mother and older brother, through an underground Jewish network.” [NYTimes]
Overlooked No More: Rose Zar, a Holocaust Survivor Who Hid in Plain Sight — by Melissa Eddy: “Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times… Unlike Anne Frank and thousands of other Jews who spent all or part of World War II sequestered in attics, caves or sewers, Rose Zar survived the Holocaust by hiding in the open. In October 1942, when she was 19, her father feared that the Nazis were closing in on the ghetto where they lived, in Piotrkow, Poland. Zar… grabbed her suitcase and forged passport and left her family behind. For the next three years, she would move around Poland, disguising herself as a Roman Catholic named Wanda Gajda… Zar died on Nov. 3, 2001, in South Bend.” [NYTimes]
Herb London, Conservative Thought Leader, Passes at 79 — by John Gizzi: “The news that Herb London died Sunday morning at age 79 was a devastating blow to conservatives in his home state of New York and nationwide… London rose to fame as Dean of New York University’s Gallatin Division, a program where students designed their own curricula… He later went on to head the Hudson Institute and, in recent years, started the London Center for Policy Research. There he oversaw studies of public policy and wrote scholarly papers and books on topics from the U.S. relations with Iran to the fiscal perils of New York State.” [Newsmax]
BIRTHDAYS: Professor of History at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck turns 77… Counsel at the Poughkeepsie, New York law firm of Gellert, Klein & MacLeod, he was a member of the New York State Senate (1990-2012), Stephen M. Saland turns 75… Sportscaster for NBC since 2006, after 29 years at ABC, Al Michaels turns 74… Attorney in NYC, Bernard Wachsman turns 65… Member of the New York State Assembly since 2006 (and re-elected last week), her district includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Linda Rosenthal turns 61… Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the National Book Award for “Challenger Deep,” Neal Shustermanturns 56… Author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Wolf turns 56… Mayor of Oakland, California since 2015 (re-elected last week), Elizabeth Beckman “Libby” Schaaf turns 53…
President of The Cranemere Group (a private equity firm based in NYC, London and Frankfurt), he was previously director of President Obama’s National Economic Council (2014-2017), Jeffrey Zients turns 52… British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne “Jo” Coburn turns 51… SVP and general manager of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine turns 47… Member of the Knesset since 2006 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov turns 47… Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh turns 43… Film and television actress, Jordana Ariel Spiro turns 41… Matthew D. Berkman turns 34… Director of State Operations at Ad Hoc, a software firm for governments, he is also chairman of loop88, a creative advertising agency focused on Pinterest, Dave Weinberg…
Between Trump and Sisi: Even before stepping up to the marble United Nations General Assembly podium this afternoon, Netanyahu can mark this as a very successful visit. The…
Making amends: Netanyahu dedicated yesterday afternoon to patching up relations with Jewish leaders. First, he met with WJC president Ronald Lauder, marking the end of a lengthy silent…
A blessed distraction for Bibi: Netanyahu’s Latin American tour continued this week. So far, he can call the trip a success on a few levels. Sure, when Bibi…
Haredi-IDF Bombshell: Last night, the Israeli High Court threw a wrench in Netanyahu’s coalition. The court gave the government a year to pass a new law regulating the…
Iran, Iran, and Iran again: High on PM Netanyahu’s agenda yesterday, as he launched his historic Latin America visit in Buenos Aires, was Iran. He visited the sites…
Neo-Nazis embrace Yair Netanyahu: The Netanyahus consider their oldest son, Yair, to be their “heir to the throne.” But if we had to compare him to the British…