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DRIVING THE CONVO — 25 Years After Oslo Accords, Mideast Peace Seems Remote as Ever ― by David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner: “The Oslo accords, first unveiled on the White House lawn with a handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat on Sept. 13, 1993, culminated in mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization… and the first formal agreements in a phased effort to resolve the century-old conflict… Today, however, the Oslo process is moribund, having produced neither a peace agreement nor a Palestinian state.”
“In hindsight, many analysts say, it was a mistake for the Palestinians to let the Israelis defer talk of core issues of the conflict… until final-status talks… “What they got,” said [Daniel] Kurtzer, who remembers a sinking feeling evident on the faces of some Palestinians at the 1993 ceremony, “was poorly negotiated.” Others question the wisdom of entrusting the P.L.O. with any counterterrorism responsibility early on. “Arafat didn’t do enough to stop terror,” said David Hacham, who represented the Israeli defense ministry in the Oslo process. “Either because he couldn’t, or because he didn’t see it as important enough at the time.” [NYTimes]
‘The Oslo Diaries,’ a documentary on the secret talks in the early 1990s that led to the Oslo peace accords, will air tonight on HBO at 8 PM EDT.
SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Washington Institute hosted an advanced screening of the HBO film, followed by a panel with Joel Singer, Ghaith al-Omari and David Makovsky and moderated by Dennis Ross. SPOTTED: Susie Gelman, Esther Kurz, Marvin Feuer, Jonathan Schwartz, Jake Walles, Arthur and Barbara Berger, Dina Gold, Ralph Nurnberger, Wolfgang Pordzik, and Daniel Serwer.
Daniel Levy, who served as an Israeli peace negotiator under Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, writes… “The Oslo Accords Are Dead, but There Is Still a Path to Peace: On this Oslo anniversary, those who care about Israeli-Palestinian peace should set aside nostalgia for a missed opportunity and think instead about the conditions that once made that tantalizing prospect possible—and which could still be within our reach.” [ForeignPolicy]
Jeff Jacoby writes… “The Oslo handshake, 25 years on: The crowd swooned at the White House that day, but it was Rabin whose instincts were right. He should have trusted his intuition and refused to take that anti-nausea pill. Instead he shook hands with a mass killer, and led his nation into disaster.”[BostonGlobe]
The Washington Institute’s Ghaith Al-Omari: “Why Trump’s Closure of the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in Washington Could Backfire: While the Palestinians may have so far withstood American pressure, they are back in a situation similar to the pre-Oslo days: despite enjoying the support of many in the international community, they are unable to advance their cause because of the lack of U.S. support.” [Time]
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres: American Power Is in Decline, the World Is ‘in Pieces’ — by Uri Friedman: “Asked whether he is worried about a severe disruption like the United States withdrawing entirely from the United Nations, the secretary-general gave an answer that was noteworthy less for what he said than for what he didn’t say: that such a scenario was unthinkable. “I will do everything possible to avoid it,” he responded.” [TheAtlantic]
REPORT — Israel, Saudi Arabia poised to ink Iron Dome sale: “Saudi Arabia has procured an Israeli-made Iron Dome defense system, the Persian Gulf-based Alkhaleej Online website reported Thursday… According to the report, the deal will be brokered by a third party, most likely the United States.”[IsraelHayom]
Haley says Iran is ‘feeling the pain’ from Trump’s revived sanctions — by Gregg Re: “Iran is “feeling the pain” from the sweeping sanctions revived by President Trump in August, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told Fox News… “They feel weak and we are suffocating them to the point that they have to address ballistic missiles; they have to address their support on terrorism,” Haley told “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier.” [FoxNews] • Iranians Can’t Leave Home, as Sinking Currency Stymies Travel [WSJ]
Bret Stephens writes… “To Thwart Iran, Save Idlib: The Trump administration might still think it can fire off a few cruise missiles and the odd tweet in the face of Assad’s depredations. If so, it will wind up as a midwife to the mullahs’ ambitions, however many sanctions the president might otherwise slap on Tehran.” [NYTimes]
PRIMARY DAY — New York voters will head to the polls today to pick their candidates for the November general election [Vogue]
RACES TO WATCH — Governor: Andrew Cuomo, the two-term incumbent, is being challenged by actress and activist Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary for governor. The winner will face Republican Marc Molinaro, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, and independent Stephanie Miner in the fall general election. Recent polls show Cuomo with a comfortable lead. Nonetheless, Nixon is counting on several missteps made by Cuomo’s team over the weekend to have an impact on the results.
Former Cuomo Aide Drafted Language for Inflammatory Anti-Semitism Flier — by Jesse Mckinley: “Lawrence S. Schwartz, the former secretary to the governor, inadvertently signed off on the flier after its language was drafted by David Lobl, a former special assistant to the governor who was volunteering with the re-election campaign, the campaign said… The correspondence, dated Sept. 1, shows Mr. Lobl outlining text that was later replicated almost verbatim on the back side of the mailer.” [NYTimes]
Grace Rauh: “A Cynthia Nixon aide tells me the anti-Semitic mailer attacking Nixon seems to have broken through. Aide says they’ve heard from voters who are questioning Nixon’s support of Israel. Mailer appears to be working as intended.”
PIC — Nixon’s Jewish supporters share a cinnamon-raisin-lox bagel outside City Hall after press conference condemning Gov. Cuomo for the anti-Nixon mailer [Pic]
Lieutenant governor: Councilman Jumaane Williams, backed by Senator Bernie Sanders, is challenging incumbent Kathy Hochul. If Williams pulls off an upset, he could appear on the same ticket as Cuomo in November.
Attorney General: Public Advocate Letitia James, law professor Zephyr Teachout, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and Leecia Eve are competingfor the seat vacated by former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Teachout is backed by Bernie Sanders and The Jewish Vote, a progressive organization. James, the established candidate, is the favorite candidate among Orthodox Jewish voters.
Headline… Eating Matzo Ball Soup with Zephyr Teachout [GQ]
State Senate: Blake Morris, a progressive candidate supported by Nixon, is challenging Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), a 3-term incumbent who caucuses with the Republicans, in the State Senate’s 17th District. Felder has faced criticism within the Democratic Party for holding up the state budget over oversight measures of the yeshiva education system. The Orthodox Jewish community has rallied behind Felder…
Julia Salazar, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is challenging incumbent State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan in the 18th District. Salazar has faced immense scrutiny over the past few weeks… Zellnor Myrie is challenging incumbent Jesse Hamilton in the 20th District, which includes the Crown Heights Chabad community…
Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), who led the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference, is facing a tough reelection bid in the 34th District, challenged by Alessandra Biaggi, a lawyer who worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, who is being supported by mainstream Democrats…
Ross Barkan, a former journalist at the New York Observer, is running in the Democratic primary in the 22nd District to take on Republican Marty Golden in the fall. Barkan quit the Observer, owned by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, after it was revealed that the then editor in chief, Ken Kurson, helped draft Trump’s speech to AIPAC in 2016.
“When I quit the Observer, I never imagined I’d run for office,” Barkan told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh in an interview. “It was in no part of my mind. I told people at the time this wasn’t about Trump’s politics, necessarily, though I found them abhorrent, and it wasn’t about the AIPAC conference. It was about the fact that my editor, who was supposed to be keeping this firewall between Jared Kushner, who was helping to run the Trump campaign, and the New York Observer, was breaking that firewall. Just as if my editor had helped Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton write a speech, I would have quit. I felt, how could I work for a publication where the person who is overseeing my reporting is also an active participant in a presidential campaign?”
After he quit the Observer, Barkan freelanced for several local publications. In an opinion piece for City and State NY in 2016, he criticized the City Council’s anti-BDS resolution. Barkan also criticized Israel’s response to the Gaza protests last May. “I do believe you can both be a proud Jew and have criticisms of the government,” he explained. “I am a proud American, and I criticize the American government. Just as Barack Obama and Donald Trump are not infallible, I don’t think Benjamin Netanyahu is infallible. There are a lot of people who feel that no government should be above criticism. That all being said, I am very proud of my Jewish identity, and I take it very seriously. I experienced anti-Semitism myself as a child. Both my parents spent time in Israel, so I know the issue well.”
MIDTERMS — Republican House Candidate: Joe Lieberman only supported Iraq War because he’s Jewish: Jim Hagedorn, the Republican nominee in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District once wrote that former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman supported the Iraq War because he is Jewish. The letters spelling out “Jew or Arab” were bolded in the original post. Hagedorn, who has a history of making incendiary comments on his blog “Mr. Conservative,” was named by the NRCC as one of its “Young Guns” in a fundraising program last week. NRCC chairman Steve Stivers told reporterslast week he was unaware of Hagedorn’s past comments. In a statement to The Daily Beast yesterday, NRCC spokeswoman Maddie Anderson called Hagedorn’s remarks “inappropriate.”
McCain family ‘disappointed’ with GOP attack ads using his words — by James Arkin and Zach Montellaro: “In Michigan, the NRCC’s ad showed [John] McCain criticizing Elissa Slotkin, a former Obama administration official, while she was testifying before a Senate committee in 2014… The ad attacking Slotkin featured McCain telling her she “either don’t know the truth, or you are not telling the truth.” Slotkin is running in Michigan’s 8th district against Republican Rep. Mike Bishop.”
“Democrat Tom Malinowski, who is running in a battleground New Jersey House district, is also running an ad featuring McCain. The ad shows a clip of McCain praising Malinowski for his record opposing torture during Malinowski’s confirmation hearing to be an assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration… Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, criticized Malinowski for using McCain’s praise for political gain… “To wait until the passing of Senator McCain to release a political ad featuring his kind words, and implying support for Malinowski, a claim that McCain is no longer here to refute, is disgusting,” Brooks said.” [Politico]
— Benji Schwartz, Malinowski’s Communications Director: “This is another sad attempt by the RJC to politicize support for Israel — a commitment shared by most Americans of both parties — to distract from their lackluster candidate. The RJC knows that Tom is a strong backer of Israel, and they know Tom and the late Senator McCain had a friendship built upon mutual respect and a dedication to core American values.”
The RJC launched this week a $1 million television and digital ad campaign against Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). The ad, entitled “Roots,” highlightsHeitkamp’s support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. “This issue is important to the RJC, but importantly, it matters to all Americans and North Dakotans who care about national security,” RJC’s Matt Brooks said in a statement.
— Last month, Christian United for Israel (CUFI) launched a six-figure TV campaign urging Heitkamp to support the Iran Hostage Act.
2020 WATCH — Hickenlooper moves closer to 2020 presidential bid — by David Siders: “Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is edging closer to a potential run for president, following what he called an ‘encouraging’ summer mulling a campaign. ‘What I saw was an interest … a genuine interest in terms of what we’ve done in Colorado,’ Hickenlooper said.” [Politico]
ON THE HILL — The House passed yesterday the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, which codifies the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Obama Administration and Israel in 2016. The legislation was introduced by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The Senate’s version passed on August 1.
— In a speech on the House floor, Deutch thanked Ros-Lehtinen for her “ardent and unwavering support for our ally Israel throughout her nearly 3 decades in Congress.” [Video]
The House has postponed a voteon a bipartisan bill that would elevate the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to the rank of Ambassador (appointed by the President and requiring Senate confirmation) and prohibit the person from being double-hatted with another portfolio of issues. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who co-sponsored the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act in 2004.
Republican Rep. Steve King Promotes Another Well-Known White Supremacist On Twitter — by Christopher Mathias: “For the second time in three months, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has promoted the views of a prominent white nationalist on Twitter. In a tweet posted early Wednesday afternoon, King quote-tweeted Lana Lokteff, a host for the white nationalist media outfit Red Ice… In his tweet, King argued incorrectly that Nazis were part of a left-wing movement.” [HuffPost]
Eric Trump accused of anti-Semitism after ‘shekels’ remark — by Brent Griffiths: “But don’t you think,” [Eric] Trump said on Fox News, “people look through the fact that you can write a sensational nonsense book, CNN will definitely have you on there because they love to trash the president, and it will mean that you sell three extra books and you make three extra shekels, at the behest of the American people, of our country and our president that is doing a phenomenal job by every quantifiable metric — is that really where we are? I think people read through this.”
A number of writers and journalists on social media questioned why Trump would mention “shekels,” seemingly oblivious to the anti-Semitic connotation coming amid the High Holy Days. “Eric Trump said this morning that Bob Woodward made ‘three extra shekels at the behest of the American people’ with his book,” Bill Kristol… wrote… “Is Eric too stupid to know he’s being anti-Semitic?” [Politico; RawStory]
— “In a brief phone call on Wednesday, Eric Trump declined to comment on his use of the term. “Oh stop, it’s nonsense,” he said.” [WashPost]
Matthew Gertz tweets jokingly: “Very few people know this but the weather machine is coin-operated, three shekels per use.”
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Bob Woodward reacting to Eric Trump’s comments on CNN’s AC360: “I just hope no one would talk like that, frankly… Anyone who talks like that, whether it’s a dog whistle or whatever the intent is, it’s not fitting — I mean, part of the point of this book is that we need to have a serious debate about serious issues, and to use invective rhetoric, or whatever it might be, it sets us back.”
Even Ivanka’s liberal New York haters like her on Instagram — by Annie Karni: “Ivanka Trump’s “likers” include billionaire hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, a major Democratic donor and a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton… “Ivanka and Jared are old friends and I like seeing pictures of her and her kids,” Lasry said. “It has nothing to do with politics, but with being friends with someone for a long time.” Even so, those “likes” from Democrats have become a point of fascination among those in her old Manhattan social set. “There is a cocktail party game where everyone opens Ivanka’s pictures to see who in their contact list liked a photo,” said one major New York socialite. “It’s always a surprise.” … David Geffen, known as one of Hollywood’s biggest Democratic donors, “liked” a photo of the Kushner family gathered at Blair House during inauguration weekend in 2017.” [Politico]
SIGHTINGS: Ivanka Trump was spotted lunching with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) yesterday in the Senate Dining Room. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) hosted Jared Kushner for dinner with House Republicans at Joe’s on 15th Street. [Playbook]
Ann Coulter Daydreams About Trump Whacking Jared Kushner —by Lloyd Grove: “If Trump realized that Jared Kushner was ruining his presidency and shot him, and then he fired the U.S. attorney investigating the crime, that would be a textbook case of obstruction of justice,” Coulter writes [in her new book, Resistance Is Futile! How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind]… “But Trump hasn’t shot Kushner, and he probably won’t, since he doesn’t even realize that Kushner is wrecking his presidency.”[DailyBeast]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Why CBS’s Board Turned Against Leslie Moonves [NYTimes] • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish Avoids CBS Talk, Trumps Paramount Turnaround [HollywoodReporter] • At Campbell Soup, Heirs Hold the Key as Activist Daniel Loeb Tries to Remake Board [WSJ] • Tamir Sapir failed to report $194M from partial sale of 11 Madison: IRS [TheRealDeal] • WeWork shells out $100 million for a software startup called Teem [TechCrunch] • Jacob Weisberg Leaves Slate to Join Malcolm Gladwell in Podcast Venture[NYTimes] • Roman Abramovich’s UES megamansion is for ex Dasha Zhukova [NYPost; DailyMail]
Florida mansion used to host political fundraisers asks $8M — by Jennifer Gould Keil: “A posh Palm Beach County manse once used to host fundraisers for American presidential candidates, including the late Sen. John McCain, is now on the market for $7.99 million. Former owner Lothar Mayer, the 87-year-old ex-president of Liberty Hardware Manufacturing, hosted parties that were also attended by Democrats, like former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Joe Lieberman.” [NYPost]
SPOTLIGHT — Bike Maker Peloton Claims Flywheel Copied Its Technology — by Sara Randazzo: “Peloton claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas, that Flywheel… created a copycat of Peloton’s bike using the company’s proprietary patents… The alleged scheme to copy the technology includes a cameo from Michael Milken… At a conference for high-net-worth investors, Mr. Milken approached Peloton Chief Executive John Foley as a potential investor “and pressed for—and obtained—information from Foley about Peloton’s technology and business strategy,” according to the lawsuit.”
Peloton, represented by Hueston Hennigan LLP, alleges Mr. Milken didn’t disclose a multimillion-dollar investment he had made in Flywheel and that Mr. Milken passed on the information to the competitor. A representative for Mr. Milken, who isn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said “any claim that he acted improperly is totally without merit.” [WSJ]
LongRead — Where in the World Is Larry Page? — by Mark Bergen and Austin Carr: “Page has long been reclusive, a computer scientist who pondered technical problems away from the public eye, preferring to chase moonshots over magazine covers. Unlike founder-CEO peers (Mark Zuckerberg comes to mind), he hasn’t presented at product launches or on earnings calls since 2013, and he hasn’t done press since 2015.”
“He leaves day-to-day decisions to Pichai and a handful of advisers. But a slew of interviews in recent months with colleagues and confidants, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were worried about retribution from Alphabet, describe Page as an executive who’s more withdrawn than ever, bordering on emeritus, invisible to wide swaths of the company. Supporters contend he’s still engaged, but his immersion in the technology solutions of tomorrow has distracted him from the problems Google faces today.”
“People who know him say he’s disappearing more frequently to his private, white-sand Caribbean island… Along with Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who’s now Alphabet’s president, Page even occasionally holds court at the company’s weekly all-hands “TGIF” meetings at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. He sometimes fields questions from employees… Page has reached a point where he takes on only rare projects that deeply fascinate him, like the sci-fi pursuits at X, Alphabet’s secretive research lab.” [Bloomberg]
Leaked video: Google Leadership’s Dismayed Reaction to Trump Election — by Allum Bokhari: “The video is a full recording of Google’s first all-hands meeting following the 2016 election… It features co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, VPs Kent Walker and Eileen Naughton, CFO Ruth Porat, and CEO Sundar Pichai… Co-founder Sergey Brin can be heard comparing Trump supporters to fascists and extremists. Brin argues that like other extremists, Trump voters were motivated by “boredom,” which he says in the past led to fascism and communism.” [Breitbart; Axios]
INTERVIEW — Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy? The most famous entrepreneur of his generation is facing a public reckoning with the power of Big Tech — by Evan Osnos: “I asked Zuckerberg about his aversion to opening up. “I’m not the most polished person, and I will say something wrong, and you see the cost of that,” he said. “I don’t want to inflict that pain, or do something that’s going to not reflect well on the people around me… In an alternate world where there weren’t the compounding experiences that I had, I probably would have gotten more comfortable being more personal, and out there, and I wouldn’t have felt pushback every time I did something. And maybe my persona, or at least how I felt comfortable acting publicly, would shift.”
“In one of our conversations, I asked Zuckerberg whether he finds it insulting when people speculate that he lacks emotions. “Insulting?” he asked, and then paused for several seconds to consider. “I don’t find it insulting. I don’t think it’s accurate. I mean, I definitely care a lot. There’s a difference between letting emotions drive impulsive decisions and caring.” [NewYorker] • Mark Zuckerberg posts 3,200-word battle plan to fight election meddling[FastAndCompany]
Watch — Zuckerberg blowing a several-foot-long shofar on Rosh Hashanah.”I got a little carried away on my Teruah,” Zuckerburg wrote. [Video]
Netanyahu Shared Fake News About Soros. Now He and Facebook Have to Answer to the Court —by Nati Tucker: “Netanyahu and Facebook will have to explain why they allowed the spread of a false story on Netanyahu’s Facebook page that claimed – falsely and misleadingly – that billionaire George Soros was cooperating with the Iranian regime. The lawsuit was filed in Tel Aviv District Court by attorney Shachar Ben-Meir… Ben-Meir is demanding that the court issue a declaratory order stating that Netanyahu’s account did distribute false news, and that it therefore order Facebook to reduce exposure to the post significantly.” [Haaretz]
12 women cite pattern of improper behavior by PM’s aide Keyes — by Raphael Ahren: “A total of 12 women have accused David Keyes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson to the foreign media, of inappropriate behavior toward them and other women… Several sources, furthermore, have said that Keyes’s alleged improper behavior toward women, which took place before he was appointed Netanyahu’s spokesman in 2016, was so well-known that he was asked to stay away from certain offices that he used to frequent in New York.” [ToI] • Israeli lawmaker asks PM to suspend aide accused of assault [AP]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Nazis Stole His Renoir. His Granddaughter Finally Got It Back — by James Barron: “The canvas, painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the last year of his life, had belonged to Alfred Weinberger, a Parisian collector and dealer who was Jewish… Mr. Weinberger’s granddaughter and only heir, Sylvie Sulitzer, had never seen it — until Wednesday, when the painting, “Two Women in a Garden,” became the centerpiece of an emotional ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan… Among the officials were William F. Sweeney Jr., the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, and Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, who said before the ceremony that the outcome “brings some measure of justice to the Weinberger family and to Madame Sulitzer.”[NYTimes]
California transit agency allows ad from Holocaust denial group — by Sam Levin: “Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) officials defended their decision to allow ads for the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has classified as a hate group that aims to “defend Nazism” and spread Holocaust denial propaganda. The electronic billboards, which say “History Matters!” and provide the name of the California-based organization, are in rotation at two Bart stations in San Francisco.” [TheGuardian]
Paul McCartney: ‘Hey Jude’ isn’t about the Jews — by Amy Spiro: “Paul McCartney had no idea anybody would associate the now iconic Beatles song “Hey Jude” with the Jews. That was, until he got a very angry phone call… The song, he said, was originally going to be called Hey Jules, for John Lennon’s son Julian. But later, McCartney decided he preferred the name Jude instead. “I didn’t realize it meant Jewish,” the singer said in the video published on Monday… One day in 1968, McCartney said, “I got this furious phone call from this guy, Mr. Leon, who was Jewish, he said: ‘What are you doing, how dare you do this.'” The singer added that “in Hitler’s day, in the Nazi thing, ‘Juden raus’ meant Jews out. And I didn’t connect.” [JPost]
BIRTHDAYS: Television executive who held high level programming positions at CBS, ABC and NBC, Fred Silverman turns 81… Chairman of global brokerage at CBRE, Stephen Siegel turns 74… Senior investigative reporter at The Daily Caller News Foundation, Richard Pollock turns 67… CEO of The Mellman Group, a polling and consulting firm whose clients include leading political figures and Fortune 500 companies, Mark S. Mellman turns 63… Ice dancer, who, with her partner Michael Seibert, won the 1981 and 1985 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Judy Blumberg turns 61… CEO at Civil Media Foundation, she was formerly CEO of NPR (2009-2011), SVP at NBC News (2011-2014) and head of news partnerships at Twitter (2014), Vivian Schiller turns 57… Comedian who earned the title “Roastmaster General” for his Comedy Central celebrity roasts, Jeff Ross (born Jeffrey Ross Lifschultz) turns 53…
Attorney General of North Carolina since January 2017, he was previously a member of the North Carolina Senate (2009-2016), Joshua “Josh” Steinturns 52… Member of the Los Angeles City Council since 2013, he was previously a member of the California State Assembly (2008-2013), Robert J. Blumenfield turns 51… Founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, Eli Beer turns 45… Attorney, triathlete and director of Maryland government and community relations at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, Meredith Mirman Weisel turns 43… Member of the Colorado House of Representatives since 2012, Jonathan Singer turns 39… Senior analyst at progressive polling and strategic firm Lake Research Partners, Gary Ritterstein turns 35… David Behmoaras turns 27… Founder and president of Reshet Capital, she is also the co-founder of Supersonas, an Israeli women’s business network in NYC, Betty Grinstein… Encino, California resident, Orrie Wilner…
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Over the Rosh Hashanah holiday… The White House shut down the PLO office in DC… National Security Advisor John Bolton threatened the International Criminal Court in Hague with sanctions… Les Moonves resignedfrom CBS… Andrew Cuomo aides were revealed to be pitching BDS-related stories against Cynthia Nixon. The Cuomo campaign blamed a mailer tying Nixon to anti-Semitism on a constituency representative… New York tax investigators met with Michael Cohen’s attorney, defying federal prosecutors’ request… Trump aide Stephen Miller was slammed by his childhood rabbi in Rosh Hashana sermon… Iran’s nuclear chief warned in an interview that Iran will increase uranium enrichment to 20 percent if the nuclear deal falls apart…
TOP TALKER — Trump administration adopts new definition of anti-Semitism in schools — by Michael Stratford: “The Trump administration is changing how the Education Department investigates allegations of discrimination against Jewish students, backing an approach that is favored by pro-Israel groups but that critics worry will stifle free speech on campus. The policy change was outlined in a letter last month by Kenneth Marcus, who leads the department’s Office for Civil Rights… Marcus wrote in the letter that the Education Department, in its investigations into discrimination, would adopt the “working definition” of anti-Semitism that is “widely used by governmental agencies” including the State Department.”[Politico]
— Flashback: In December of 2016, the Senate unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act to expand the Department of Education’s definition of anti-Semitism. However, the House bill, sponsored by Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), was stalled in the Judiciary Committee after Republican Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte voiced concerns with the legislation. [JewishInsider]
— Context: Education Dept. Reopens Rutgers Case Charging Discrimination Against Jewish Students — by Erica Green: “The new head of civil rights at the Education Department has reopened a seven-year-old case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University… In a letter to the Zionist Organization of America… Kenneth Marcus informed ZOA that he would specifically be reviewing one of the three allegations made in its 2011 complaint, which said that a liberal, pro-Palestinian group, Belief Awareness Knowledge and Action, imposed an admissions fee on Jewish and pro-Israeli students who attended an event called “Never Again for Anyone.” [NYTimes]
— Noah Pollak points out: “[The Belief Awareness Knowledge and Action group] is not a “liberal, pro-Palestinian group.” It’s a [Students for Justice in Palestine] cutout that promotes BDS, endorses terrorism, and calls for the destruction of Israel.”
— Lahav Harkov also criticized the NYTimes story: “This is appalling. NYT positions itself against the IHRA definition of antisemitism IN ITS REPORTING not even in an opinion piece. (Plus, this reporter is totally ignorant of the precedents of Title VI applying to discrimination vs religions)”
From a profile of Mark Zuckerberg in this week’s New Yorker by Evan Osnos: “Zuckerberg’s solution was to ban “hate speech” and impose lesser punishments for “misinformation,” a broad category that ranged from crude deceptions to simple mistakes. Facebook tried to develop rules about how the punishments would be applied, but each idiosyncratic scenario prompted more rules, and over time they became byzantine. According to Facebook training slides published by the Guardian last year, moderators were told that it was permissible to say “You are such a Jew” but not permissible to say “Irish are the best, but really French sucks,” because the latter was defining another people as “inferiors.” [NewYorker]
‘NO DAYLIGHT’ — U.S. Pressure on Palestinians Raises Middle East Tension — by Michael Gordon and Felicia Schwartz: “The move to shut the PLO office is the latest in a series of steps by the administration that appear to be moving away from the 1993-95 Oslo accords… Dennis Ross… said that “if the administration has an interest in somehow reaching out to Palestinians in advance of presenting its peace plan, its recent steps…will surely make that task much more difficult.” [WSJ] • Max Boot: Trump’s bear hug risks crushing Israel [WashPost]
HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert at a press briefing: “The office could reopen in the future. They could, but we would certainly like them to take some meaningful steps in that direction of advancing peace.”
VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinians to Consider Severing Israel Ties, Erekat Says — by Abbas Al Lawati: “The Palestinian Authority vowed to reconsider its cooperation with Israel… Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah that the full range of political, economic and security ties would be reassessed in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision on Monday to shut the Palestinian mission in Washington.”[Bloomberg]
“Trump Shutters the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission — and Middle East Peace” — by Robin Wright: “During the first ten months of the Trump Administration, the top Palestinian diplomat in Washington, Husam Zomlot, was summoned to the White House every two or three days, he told me. He spent many hours with Jared Kushner… I reached Zomlot by phone on Monday, in Ramallah, the West Bank capital, in between crisis meetings with the Palestinian leadership… “The peace process as we knew it has definitely just received a lethal bullet to its heart,” he told me. “This Administration is using bullying as a tactic and trying to blackmail us.” He called the U.S. announcement “a reckless act in blind execution of Israel’s wish list that started with Jerusalem.” [NewYorker; WSJ]
REPORT — Abbas to ‘Personally Insult’ Trump in UN Speech: “PA sources told Channel Ten that Abbas “plans a very critical speech at the end of September and will place the blame for the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East on Trump personally. He plans on using very undiplomatic language, to say the least,” the sources said.” [News10; Hamodia]
Washington Post’s Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash talk to 25-year-old Israelis and Palestinians on the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords signing ceremony. [WashPost]
Aaron David Miller writes… “25 years ago this week, Mideast peace seemed inevitable. Now it’s further away than ever: This week on the 25th anniversary of the Oslo agreement, U.S. hopes and dreams of Arab-Israeli peacemaking lie broken and shattered. The Trump administration has shed any pretense of being an honest or effective broker.” [USAToday]
— How This Brooklyn-Based Artist is Transforming Palestinian Folk Art — by Rebecca Bengal: “Since his first solo American show at Los Angeles gallery Anat Ebgi last year, [Jordan] Nassar has been embraced by collectors and curators on both sides of the Middle East divide and globally. He’s currently making work for upcoming exhibitions at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv and the Third Line in Dubai, and he has just been announced as one of 16 finalists for the Museum of Arts and Design’s inaugural Burke Prize for contemporary craft…” [WSJ]
NOW AVAILABLE ― Excerpts of Bob Woodward’s new book titled Fear: Trump in the White House — When Derek Harvey, Trump’s top Middle East adviser on the National Security Council, warned the White House about the threat from Hezbollah (Chapter 14): “Harvey went to see Jared Kushner, who had a small office adjacent to the Oval Office. Kushner sat back, crossed his legs and listened to Harvey’s case. Harvey’s number one worry in the Middle East was Hezbollah… Hezbollah was a perfect proxy for Iran to use to pressure and attack Israel, whose air bases could be pummeled with rockets. Israel’s defenses of Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missiles would be inadequate. Harvey argued there was potential for a catastrophic war, with immense humanitarian, economic and strategic consequences.”
“In the summer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington (Ron Dermer) and its national security adviser wanted Harvey to come to Israel. McMaster said Harvey couldn’t go, though he gave no reason. In early July, Harvey arranged to meet with senior intelligence officials from Mossad, military intelligence, and representatives from the Israeli Air Force and Army. McMaster, angry with Harvey, would not let him move forward.”
Harvey and Kushner thought Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his first trip overseas, and arms deal would benefit Israel: “Making Saudi Arabia the first presidential trip could go a long way to signaling that the Trump administration had new priorities. It was also very attractive to Harvey that the president’s first trip might be to his region because all the other senior NSC staffers would be clamoring to have the first trip in theirs. A summit in Saudi Arabia would also benefit Israel… Harvey knew to focus rigorously on such a suggestion from Kushner, who was obviously not just another senior presidential adviser…”
“Harvey was as well connected as any intelligence officer to Israeli intelligence and knew that Kushner had established his own connections there… Kushner told Harvey he had important and reliable intelligence that the key to Saudi Arabia was the deputy crown prince, the charismatic 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS… When McMaster learned of Kushner’s Saudi summit idea, he asked Harvey nervously, ‘Who’s pushing this? Where’s it coming from?'”
“Kushner said that if the United States was going to stay engaged in the region, they needed to help the Saudis and Israelis succeed. The president was not going to continue paying the bills for U.S. defense in the Middle East when the primary beneficiaries were the countries in the region, according to Kushner… Get the Saudis to buy more, Kushner said. If they bought weapons systems, it would help the U.S. economy and job creation… At times the Saudis were not delivering enough on contracts or arms purchases. ‘I’ll make a phone call,’ Kushner said to Harvey. He phoned MBS directly and the Saudis increased their arms purchases… Trump finally gave the go-ahead and the trip to both Saudi Arabia and Israel was announced on Thursday, May 4… Harvey believed the summit had reset the relationships in a dramatic way, a home run.”
Rex Tillerson lobbied Trump to certify Iran deal: “When [Reince] Priebus briefed Trump on Tillerson’s proposal, the president retorted, ‘You aren’t going to jam this down my throat!’ Priebus ran shuttle diplomacy between the president and the secretary of state. ‘They’re not in violation,’ Tillerson said… Tillerson went to see the president. ‘This is one of my core principles,’ Trump said. ‘I’m not in favor of this deal. This is the worst deal that we have ever made, and here we are renewing this deal.’ Since it was only for 90 days, he would go along. ‘This is the last time. Don’t come back to me and try to renew this thing again. There’s going to be no more renewals. It’s a shitty deal.’ Mattis found a diplomatic, quieter way to agree with Tillerson. ‘Well, Mr. President,’ Mattis said, ‘I think they are probably in technical compliance.'”
“Priebus and Tillerson and McMaster made sure they were “calendaring”—as they say in the White House—when the next 90-day renewal would come up. ‘They’re in violation,’ Trump said in a meeting before the July 17 deadline, ‘and you need to figure out how the argument is going to be made to declare that.’ One day Tillerson came to the dining room next to the Oval Office to see Trump and Priebus and explain to the president again that there was no violation. ‘They are in violation,’ Trump insisted, ‘and you should make the case that this agreement is done and finished.’ … CIA Director Pompeo did not disagree with Tillerson’s arguments on Iran and the reality of the Iran deal, but he, like Mattis, handled it more softly with the president… ‘I’m never signing one of these recertifications again,’ Trump said. ‘I can’t believe I’m signing this one. There’s no way you’re going to get me to sign another one.'” (Chapter 16)
NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY RESULTS: Levi Sanders, the son of Senator Bernie Sanders, and former Obama administration official Maura Sullivan fell short in their respective bids for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. The winner of the Democratic primary, Chris Pappas, will face off against Republican Eddie Edwards for the toss-up seat of retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).
MIDTERMS — Peter Roskam and Democratic challenger face off in debate over past comments — by Mary Ann Ahern: “In one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country — Republican incumbent Peter Roskam and Democrat Sean Casten clashed over President Donald Trump in their debate at the Daily Herald Monday… “He’s compared the president of the United States to Osama bin Laden, he said there are Nazis that are working in the White House,” Roskam said. “Peter has taken a number of things out of context and I don’t claim to remember everything that I’ve ever tweeted,” Casten responded.” [NBCChicago]
NEW YORK PRIMARIES — New York voters will go to the polls on Thursday to select Democratic and Republican nominees for statewide offices.
Over the weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running for a 3rd term, came under fire for a mailer — aimed to boost turnout among Jewish voters — that suggested his challenger Cynthia Nixon supports the BDS movement and would turn a blind eye towards anti-Semitism. Cuomo later distanced himself from the mailer and his campaign identified the creator as “an individual helping the campaign on constituency outreach.”
Nixon called the mailer “deeply offensive” and demanded an apology. “To use this in this nasty and untruthful way — it’s really Trumpian,” she said in an interview. The NYTimes, which had endorsed Cuomo’s reelection, called on Cuomo to apologize and “describe Ms. Nixon as a worthy opponent who abhors anti-Semitism.”
CYNTHIA NIXON ON BDS — On BDS, Nixon says she’s not a supporter but supports the rights of those who are — by Jacob Kornbluh: “I am not a supporter of BDS, I have never been a supporter of BDS,” Nixon proclaimed at a press conference on Sunday. “I am a supporter of a two-state solution… I do not personally support BDS, but I support the right of those who do to speak about it.” Nixon indicated to Jewish Insider that she would revoke Cuomo’s executive order on BDS because it is “trampling on people’s civil liberties.”
Nixon also told us she stands by her 2010 support of Israeli artists for boycotting a performance in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. “My signing of the letter had nothing to do with the appropriateness or inappropriateness of performing there,” Nixon explained. “It had to do with the protection of Israeli artists. It was a letter that was signed by a 150 English and American artists.”[JewishInsider]
Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout, competing in a four-way Democratic primary to replace former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s seat, was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday. Teachout will hold a campaign event with House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outside a Kushner Co. building in Long Island City this afternoon.
Real estate and insurance firms tout AG candidate to Jewish voters — by Will Bredderman: “A new business-backed political action committee hopes to convince religious Jews that supporting Letitia James for attorney general is a mitzvah.” [CrainsNewYork]
This Week in Julia Salazar: She had a trust fund, her ancestors were Catholic elites, and she has a new version of her conversion story — by Garance Franke Ruta: “Interviews with [Salazar] and with Jewish religious leaders show her story about converting to Reform Judaism could not have happened as she has described it to multiple reporters, because the person she now says guided her conversion process was not an ordained rabbi and also was, in any case, not affiliated with Columbia University the year she initially said she converted through the Columbia/Barnard Hillel… And she now says, for the first time, that she was certified by a beit din, though she has no record of it. “I just did not keep my records,” she told me.” [NYMag] • This Is the Story of How a Campaign Goes Off the Rails [RollingStone]
— Netanyahu Spokesman Denies Sexual Assault Claim by N.Y. State Senate Candidate Julia Salazar — by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “Julia Salazar… publicly accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman, David Keyes, on Tuesday of sexually assaulting her in 2013. Keyes denied the claims to Haaretz… On Tuesday evening, Keyes once again denied Salazar’s charges, telling Haaretz, “This false accusation is made by someone who has proven to be repeatedly dishonest about her own life. This is yet another example of her dishonesty.” [Haaretz]
HAPPENING TODAY — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in New York.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Awaiting Sentencing, Cohen Grapples with Trump’s Good Luck — by Emily Jane Fox: “Caught in limbo as he awaits sentencing, Michael Cohen spent a reflective Rosh Hashanah weekend with family in Long Island… Cohen no longer has an office to go to each day, or clients to call… Under the conditions of his bail, he is permitted to leave the Southern or Eastern Districts of New York only to go to Florida, where some members of his family live, or to Illinois, where he has some business, and to Washington, D.C.” [VanityFair]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Blackstone Agrees to $500 Million NYC Apartment Deal [Bloomberg] • Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities just put a huge Coney Island assemblage on the market [TheRealDeal] • Bryan Goldberg and his Bustle Digital Group will relaunch gossip blog Gawker in 2019 [NYPost] • Prying inside Alex Sapir’s real estate empire [TheRealDeal] • Boston investor Seth Klarman is top donor to pro-transgender equality group [Bizjournals] • Volkswagen Trial Offers Hedge Funds a Chance to Settle Old Scores [NYTimes] • The Incredible Shrinking Hedge Fund [Bloomberg]
STARTUP NATION — Drone delivers food and drinks at North Dakota golf course — by Scott Gleeson: “The company providing the drones is FlyTrex, an Israeli start-up which has already found success in the food delivery business in Iceland this year. For the drones to be a permanent fixture at the golf course, they’d need an FAA permit… However, the open spaces provided by a golf course make an ideal test market, CEO Yariv Bash told CNN.” [USAToday]
C-SUITE — With Leslie Moonves out, Shari Redstone emerges the winner in the fight over control of CBS — by Meg James: “In one dramatic swoop, CBS announced the departure of longtime CEO Leslie Moonves amid a widening sexual harassment scandal, installed an acting CEO and announced six new members to its board. Gone were the old-timers, friends of Sumner Redstone, who were some of Moonves’ strongest allies… Not mentioned in CBS’ statement was that Shari Redstone… was deeply involved in the group’s selection…
“This may look like a compromise resolution at first blush, but it’s not,” Los Angeles investment banker Lloyd Greif said. “Shari won this round — big. Les Moonves must feel like he got run over by an 18-wheeler.” The retirement of long-serving board members and Moonves’ resignation handed Redstone a major victory and could eventually strengthen her influence in shaping the future of the storied media company that her family controls.” [LATimes] • Strauss Zelnick Among New CBS Board Members [Variety]
A Top Goldman Banker Raised Ethics Concerns. Then He Was Gone — by Emily Flitter, Kate Kelly and David Enrich: “James C. Katzman, a Goldman partner and the leader of its West Coast mergers-and-acquisitions practice, dialed the bank’s whistle-blower hotline in 2014 to complain about what he regarded as a range of unethical practices… Senior investment-banking executives at the firm — including David M. Solomon, now Goldman’s incoming chief executive — urged Mr. Katzman to move past his complaints… Mr. Katzman refused. In 2015, he left Goldman and was required to sign a confidentiality agreement that he believed prevented him from sharing his concerns with board members or regulators… Goldman’s board will be briefed on his interactions with Mr. Katzman at its scheduled board meeting on Thursday, said two people who have been briefed on the plans.” [NYTimes]
MEDIA WATCH — The Atlantic’s new cover: “Is Democracy Dying?” — by Brian Stelter: “The Atlantic is rolling out this special issue on Wednesday and Thursday… The mag says “the editors have assembled some of the top voices on law, race, history, and the constitution, to look at the slow-motion crisis to democracy in America, and what can be done to right the ship.” Among the contributors: Justice Stephen Breyer, Anne Applebaum, Ibram X. Kendi, Amy Chua, Yoni Appelbaum, and Jeffrey Rosen.” [ReliableSources; TheAtlantic]
LongRead: The real Goldfinger: the London banker who broke the world — by Oliver Bullough: “The main buyers of these bonds were individuals, usually from eastern Europe but often also from Latin America, who wanted to have part of their fortune in mobile form so that if they had to leave they could leave quickly with their bonds in a small suitcase,” Fraser wrote in his autobiography. “There was still a mass migration of the surviving Jewish populations of central Europe heading for Israel and the west.”[TheGuardian]
TALK OF THE TOWN: Nazi Collaborator or National Hero? A Test for Lithuania — by Andrew Higgins: “For the tiny village of Sukioniai in western Lithuania, the exploits of General Storm, a local anti-Communist hero executed by the Soviet secret police in 1947, have long been a source of pride… All along, though, there have been persistent whispers that General Storm, whose real name was Jonas Noreika, also helped the Nazis kill Jews. But these were largely discounted as the work of ill-willed outsiders serving a well-orchestrated campaign by Moscow to tar its foes as fascists. Blaming Russian propaganda, however, has suddenly become a lot more difficult thanks to Mr. Noreika’s own granddaughter, Silvia Foti, a Lithuanian-American from Chicago who has spent years researching a biography of her revered relative and went public in July with her shocking conclusion: Her grandfather was a fierce anti-Semite and Nazi collaborator.” [NYTimes]
HEARD ON ROSH HASHANAH — Key Trump aide Stephen Miller condemned by childhood rabbi — by Andrew Gumbel: “Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom, a progressive reform synagogue in the beachside city of Santa Monica where Miller grew up, devoted his sermon marking the Jewish New Year to a striking denunciation of Miller… “Honestly, Mr. Miller, you’ve set back the Jewish contribution to making the world spiritually whole through your arbitrary division of these desperate people,” the rabbi said. “The actions that you now encourage President Trump to take make it obvious to me that you didn’t get my, or our, Jewish message.” … Rabbi Comess-Daniels found a receptive audience, which greeted his words with rapturous applause.” [TheGuardian; NYDailyNews]
FASHION WEEK — At a Celeb-Filled 50th Anniversary Show, Ralph Lauren Was Back on Top, Doubters Be Damned — by Jacob Gallagher: “Mr. Lauren’s Friday night Central Park soirée on the second night of New York Fashion Week was a celluloid dream-scene come to life. Attendees included actors (Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Pierce Brosnan, Jessica Chastain), Grammy winners (Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen) and corporate titans (Barry Diller, Martha Stewart).” [WSJ]
SPORTS SCENE — Djokovic Has Schwarzman’s Support as Billionaires Gather at U.S. Open — by Gillian Tan: “Novak Djokovic clinched his third U.S. Open and 14th major crown Sunday night… The three-hour match was witnessed by a crowd of more than 23,000 — including billionaires from Wall Street and Silicon Valley… Dotted across suites and lower-bowl of the stadium were KKR & Co.’s Henry Kravis, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, actress Meryl Streep and art curator Vito Schnabel, seated next to Wendi Deng… Decked out in several layers, Blackstone Group’s Stephen Schwarzman said before the match that he was pulling for Djokovic.” [Bloomberg]
Karlie Kloss Says She’s ‘Chosen to Be With’ Josh Kushner ‘Despite the Complications’ From His Trump Ties —by Alyssa Bailey: “[Kloss] would not confirm or deny rumors she is converting to Orthodox Judaism for him the way Ivanka did before marrying his brother. “At the end of the day, I’ve had to make decisions based on my own moral compass—forget what the public says, forget social media,” she said of the relationship’s strings generally. “I’ve chosen to be with the man I love despite the complications.”[Elle; Vogue]
TRANSITION: Former VA chief, fired by Trump, to serve as Sanford’s chief innovation officer — by Patrick Springer: “David Shulkin, a physician whom President Donald Trump tapped to head health care for veterans and later fired, will serve as Sanford Health’s chief innovation officer. Shulkin’s portfolio will put him in charge of Sanford’s research, clinical genetic medicine, Profile weight loss and world clinic programs.”[GrandForksHerald]
DESSERT: Philly region gets its first all-kosher supermarket — by Kristin Holmes: “House of Kosher, on Bustleton Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, is believed to be the first major all-kosher supermarket in the region… Having such an expansive store — 13,000 square feet and about to grow — “is a big thing,” said [Yael] Tkachuk, showing off the fish head she purchased for a ceremonial dinner plate to be displayed during the High Holidays.” [Philly]
BIRTHDAYS: 20-term Democratic Congressman (served in office from 1975-2015) from Los Angeles, Henry Waxman turns 79… 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, University of Chicago behavioral economist, Richard H. Thaler turns 73… Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama White House (2014-2017), he was previously Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky (2011-2014) and mayor of Louisville (1986-2011), Jerry Abramson turns 72… US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, he was Governor of Kansas (2011-2018) and a US Senator (1996-2011), Sam Brownback turns 62… Miami based Chairman of American Principles Super PAC, Eytan Laor turns 59… Internet entrepreneur and a pioneer of VoIP telephony, Jeff Pulver turns 56…
Attorney specializing in the recovery of looted artworks during the Holocaust and featured in the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” E. Randol (Randy) Schoenberg turns 52… Sherri Jankowski turns 51… Author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Max Boot turns 49… South Dakota native, now serving as deputy chief of staff for Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota-1), he was previously legislative director at Christians United for Israel, Jason Stverak turns 45… Israeli singer, songwriter and musician, who has performed around the world, Idan Raichel turns 41… AIPAC’s area director for Philadelphia and South Jersey, Kelly Lauren Stein… Sara Greenberg…
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Ed note: With Rosh Hashanah beginning on Sunday evening, we would like to wish all JI readers a happy, healthy and productive New Year! The Daily Kickoff will be on holiday schedule the next few weeks. Shana Tova!
A TRUMPIAN ROSH HASHANAH CALL — President Donald Trump’s pre-High Holidays conference call with Jewish community leaders and rabbis featured two lawyers, a former U.S. Senator, and a group of Holocaust survivors. During the call, President Trump described U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to the group of Jewish leaders as “your Ambassador” and Israel’s peace negotiations with the Palestinians as “your negotiations.”
Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sat around the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office along with the host of the call, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
In a brief opening statement, Trump noted his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. He also acknowledged a group of Holocaust survivors, who were gathered at the office of New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind in recognition of the move to deport former Nazi guard Jakiw Palij to Germany.
The President then invited Friedman to deliver an update on the expansion of the new embassy in Jerusalem. “We have about 150 people working there already. We’re beginning phase two of the construction period, which is beginning in a week or two,” Friedman said. “And we will roughly double the size by June of 2019.” Friedman also noted that the embassy has become a “major tourist site” in Israel. “People come there almost every day. People just pull up their cars in front of the embassy, they get out, take pictures. I see some people praying there. I have actually seen many people crying there,” he said.
Opening up the call for questions, Trump gave Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz — who he described as a “terrific gentleman and a great lawyer” — the first opportunity to pose a question. “Should the Jewish community be optimistic that you could help bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict that we all pray for all the time?” Dershowitz asked, after praising Trump for moving the Embassy to Jerusalem. “I think the answer to that is a very strong yes — you should be,” Trump responded. RJC National Chairman Norm Coleman followed with a question about the Iran deal. [JewishInsider]
HIGHLIGHTS — “My connection to Judaism is also personal. I am the very proud father of a Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and my son-in-law, who I’m very proud of also — I will say that very loudly — Jared, and my several Jewish grandchildren, namely three beautiful Jewish grandchildren that I love.”
What price will Israel pay for Jerusalem move? “Now, does that mean Israel is going to do something that will be good for the Palestinians? Yes. What is it going to be? I can’t tell you.”
Trump on U.S. aid to the Palestinians: “The United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money. And I’d say, ‘You’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.’ And that’s going to have a little impact.”
On the Iran deal: “The Europeans are finally leaving… You know, they tried to play hardball for a little while but they’re now leaving and they’re doing the right thing.” [Transcript]
Celebrating the High Holy Days, Eric Garcetti-Style — LA Mayor Eric Garcetti discussed his Jewish faith, how he spends the High Holidays, and support for Israel in the Democratic Party in an interview with the Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok:
Q: Will you attend other synagogues over the High Holy Days?
Garcetti: “I’m going to be at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. I think for Kol Nidre, I’m going to be at Temple Aliyah. And we’re going to try to get to an Orthodox synagogue, B’nai David-Judea. And maybe, if I have time, go to the [Pico Union] Project. It’s great, it’s awesome. [It] makes me feel at home in a Latino neighborhood with Jewish practice and the strands woven in from the surrounding areas.”
Q: How do you feel about the wing of the Democratic Party that is anti-Israel?
Garcetti: “I think that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Democrats. I think they’re progressive Democrats who understand that sometimes the overly conservative politics of Israel don’t represent them, but it is a core part of who we are that Israel should be defended and she should be uplifted and our loyalty should be about improving her, not about abandoning her.” [JewishJournal]
DRIVING THE CONVO — Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist, was caught in yet another controversial comment that could be perceived as offensive to the Jewish community. In an interview with the Daily Beast yesterday, Bannon blasted the coverage of John McCain’s funeral, derisively referring to the events as the “High Holy Days.”
“It’s not just the coverage of it, but it’s also the way it was set up and the way it was crafted,” Bannon said. “This was the High Holy Days. This permanent political class, you saw them there at this funeral. This was High Civic Religion, the High Holy Days. Trump didn’t create North Korea. He didn’t create Afghanistan. He didn’t create Iran. He didn’t create Venezuela. That was all dumped on him by that crowd that was there.” [DailyBeast]
Playbook’s Jake Sherman tweets: “I don’t know if this is offensive to all Jews, but it’s offensive to this Jew, who will celebrate the high holy days next week.”
Edward-Isaac Dovere: “That thing where a guy who’s been suspected of fomenting white supremacist feelings and prodding Trump’s reaction to last year’s Nazi march in Charlottesville makes a joke off the upcoming Jewish holidays.”
Bannon used the same term last November, celebrating “the first anniversary of the high holy day of MAGA” during a speech at a Michigan Republican Party dinner:
Errol Morris Defends Controversial Steve Bannon Documentary — by Brent Lang: “American Dharma” premiered this week at the Venice Film Festival to largely positive reviews. It will screen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival… Bannon was eager to participate in the project when Morris first pitched him on the idea… [Morris] was unnerved by Bannon’s characterization of French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron as a “little Rothschild banker.” “I’m a Jew, there’s no secret about that,” said Morris. “I don’t like to think I’m overly sensitive to anti-Semitic remarks, but there was something about the way that Bannon said it that made me sit upright. Macron was indeed a Rothschild banker [before entering politics] but the use of that expression in that context wasn’t just a dog whistle to racists. It’s a whistle whistle.” [Variety]
TRUMP DIPLOMACY — Trump Administration Pressures Paraguay to Move Embassy to Jerusalem — by Cristina Maza: “Vice President Mike Pence spoke yesterday with President Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay to discuss Asuncion’s recent announcement to delay the official move of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Vice President strongly encouraged President Abdo Benitez to follow through with Paraguay’s previous commitment to move the embassy as a sign of the historic relationship the country has maintained with both Israel and the United States,” a White House statement read. The statement went on to say that “President Abdo Benitez underscored Paraguay’s lasting partnership with Israel and the leaders agreed to work towards achieving a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [Newsweek]
— Paraguay president calls Israel’s embassy move ‘exaggerated’: “I regret Israel’s decision. The reaction of closing the embassy was a little exaggerated and we urge authorities to reconsider it,” Abdo Benitez said at a news conference… He said Paraguay would “stick to international law and the United Nations’ resolution that still considers it a territory in conflict” between Israel and the Palestinians.” [ABCNews]
Trump Rewrites Rules of the Game in Middle East Peace Talks — by David Wainer: “By coming in and unilaterally rewriting the rules of the game, the Trump administration is removing itself from the role of mediator,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former U.S. State Department diplomat… “Many of these steps don’t make sense if you try to square them with an effort to reach a solution to the conflict.” [Bloomberg]
— Listen to Jason Greenblatt’s interview with The Land of Israel Network [TheLandofIsrael]
— U.S. Ambassador David Friedman released a humorous Rosh Hashanah video in which he searches for a small jar of honey that went missing during the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. [YouTube]
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a surprise visit to a family seated around the Rosh Hashanah table to list off his achievement over the past year. [Video]
TRANSITION: Salam Fayyad, former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, has joined the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy (CMEP) as a distinguished fellow. [Brookings]
WHITE HOUSE PROMOTION: Avi Berkowitz has been promoted to Deputy Assistant to the President and Advisor to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner. Berkowitz previously served as Special Assistant to the President and assistant to Kushner.
GONE VIRAL: Jared Kushner waited for a full two minutes outside locked doors at the offices of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for NAFTA negotiations. Kushner ignored shouted questions from reporters assembled on the street. [Video]
— Ken Vogel tweets: “Hey, it’s Jared. I’m outside. Can someone let me in? … Jared KUSHNER, the president’s son-in-law … I’m here for the NAFTA negotiations … Can someone unlock the door? … There are reporters out here asking me about the op-ed, & it’s getting awkward.”
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — It Wasn’t Me: Pence, Pompeo and a Parade of Administration Officials Deny Writing Op-Ed — by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Eileen Sullivan: “The writer’s use of the word “lodestar” sent some looking for those who had been known to use the word in public utterances. Since former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said “honor was John’s lodestar” in his eulogy at Mr. McCain’s funeral, that again made some wonder if it meant the author had been present. Among the advisers to Mr. Trump who were at the funeral were John F. Kelly, the chief of staff; Jon Huntsman, the ambassador to Russia; Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer; [John] Bolton; and [Dan] Coats, as well as Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” [NYTimes]
— “In Oval Office huddles Thursday, White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and senior adviser Jared Kushner, among other aides, tried to convince the president that he could trust them and others in his inner circle. They argued that the author was probably a lower-level employee.” [WashPost]
Donald Trump Agreed Jared Kushner Shouldn’t Serve in White House: Woodward Book —by Jessica Kwong: “In his forthcoming book… Bob Woodward writes that then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus “decided to escalate, make a big play” of a June 15, 2017, Washington Post story with the headline, “Special Counsel Is Investigating Jared Kushner’s Business Dealings.” … “He told Trump that Jared should not be in the White House in an official capacity.” Trump would normally ignore or dismiss such attacks on Kushner, Woodward wrote. “This time he paused, slowed down, and became reflective. He looked at his chief of staff,” the book stated. “The response was jarring, so different.” “You’re right,” Trump is quoted saying.” [Newsweek]
IRAN DEAL WATCH — U.N. nuclear watchdog chief undergoes medical procedure — by Francois Murphy: “The head of the U.N.’s nuclear inspectorate [Yukiya Amano] has undergone an unspecified medical procedure and will not return to Vienna, where the agency is based, for roughly a month… Amano’s treatment comes at a sensitive time, since the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Iran accord in May… Amano will also miss one of the busiest periods of the year for his agency. In addition to a quarterly meeting of its 35-nation Board of Governors next week, it is due to hold an annual meeting of all its member states the following week.” [Reuters]
2018 WATCH — An Arrest? An Affair? Keith Hernandez? Just Another Day in the Julia Salazar Campaign — by Jesse McKinley: “In the latest twist in the Zelig-like story of Julia Salazar — born-again democratic socialist, would-be immigrant and actual New York State Senate candidate in Brooklyn — news broke on Thursday of her 2011 arrest involving a dispute with the ex-wife of the former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez. The charge? Attempted identity theft… The revelations only added to the snowballing, stranger-than-fiction tale of Ms. Salazar, whose insurgent campaign has been buffeted by a series of articles outlining discrepancies in her personal biography.” [NYTimes; Tablet]
RACE TO WATCH NEXT TUESDAY — Levi Sanders, the son of Senator Bernie Sanders, and Maura Sullivan, a former Defense Department official in the Obama administration, are among 11 candidates competing in a Democratic Party primary for the open seat being vacated by Shea-Porter (D) in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Aryeh Bourkoff interviews Take-Two interactive CEO and ZMC Founder Strauss Zelnick on his KindredCast podcast [SoundCloud] • Ashton Kutcher dishes on what it takes to make it in Silicon Valley [Pitchbook] • Groupon founder Eric Lefkofsky reportedly buys $31 million Florida penthouse [CrainsChicago] • Real Estate Investor Edward Minskoff Giving $30 Million To Michigan State [AP] • Daniel Loeb’s Third Point aims to Replace Campbell Soup’s Entire Board [WSJ] • Carl Icahn Still Opposes Dell Deal on Valuation Concerns [Bloomberg]
‘The Cakemaker’ Wins Israel’s Best Picture Award, Becomes Its Oscar Submission —by Amy Spiro: “German-Israeli film “The Cakemaker” won best picture at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Thursday evening, an accolade that automatically makes it the country’s submission to the foreign-language film category at the Oscars. The film was written and directed by Ofir Raul Graizer, an Israeli who lives in Berlin… On Thursday, “The Cakemaker” picked up five other Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, including best screenplay, best director and best actress.” [Variety]
SPORTS BLINK — New Hall of Fame exhibit tells story of catcher-spy Moe Berg: “The Baseball Hall of Fame has opened a new exhibit on Moe Berg, the major league catcher-turned-spy whose story was the subject of a Hollywood film released this summer… The New York City-born son of Russian-Jewish immigrants was an Ivy League graduate who played more than 660 games over 15 seasons for the Dodgers, White Sox, Indians, Senators and Red Sox… The exhibit chronicles his athletic and espionage exploits through his baseball artifacts and wartime documents.” [AP]
ACROSS THE POND — Labour Members Want To Know How Iran’s Press TV Was Able To Live-Tweet A No-Confidence Vote Against A Pro-Israel MP — by Mark Di Stefano: “On Thursday night, the social media accounts for the UK arm of Press TV posted images and footage to Twitter and Facebook showing local members from the Enfield North CLP meeting narrowly passing a motion against Labour’s Joan Ryan. It comes as Labour party leadership attempts to deal with accusations of antisemitism from prominent members of the British Jewish community… The chair of the Enfield North CLP is now demanding an investigation into the breach… Joan Ryan – who’s considered a Labour moderate and chairs the parliamentary party’s Labour Friends of Israel group – narrowly lost a no confidence motion against her 92-94.” [BuzzFeed]
“I survived the Warsaw ghetto. Here are the lessons I’d like to pass on” by Stanislaw Aronson: “Now 93 years old and living in Tel Aviv, I have watched from afar in recent years as armchair patriots in my native Poland have sought to exploit and manipulate the memories and experiences of my generation. They may think they are promoting “national dignity” or instilling “pride” in today’s young people, but in reality they are threatening to raise future generations in darkness, ignorant of the war’s complexity and doomed to repeat the mistakes for which we paid such a high price. But this is not just a Polish phenomenon: it is happening in many parts of Europe, and our experiences hold lessons for the whole continent.” [TheGuardian]
DESSERT — The $5 Kosher Falafel On The Lower East Side — by Shira Feder: “As Jewish food takes a turn towards the Middle Eastern, falafel shops are sprouting up all over town… One such shop is Falafix, a newly kosher certified shop. where everything on the menu is under $5.” [Forward]
With few GW options, students struggle to keep kosher: “When Meir Lesches arrived on campus his freshman year, he didn’t realize that his biggest struggle would be finding something to eat. Lesches, now a sophomore, has always followed a strict kosher diet – but a lack of on-campus kosher options caused him to lose 30 pounds last year, he said. There are just five kosher-friendly vendors on GWorld – a shortfall Lesches said made him consider transferring to schools with “stronger” kosher choices, like New York University.” [GWHatchet]
BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Palm Beach, Florida resident, the school at the Westchester (NY) Jewish Center bears her name, Beverly Cannold turns 93… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, he was a managing director of Marks and Spencer, Baron Andrew Zelig Stone turns 76… Political columnist for Time Magazine and author of the novel “Primary Colors,” Joe Klein turns 72… Color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts along with John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman turns 72… Billionaire owner and CEO of Gristedes Foods,John Catsimatidis turns 70… Pulitzer Prize winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, now Director of Literary Journalism at UC-Irvine, Barry Siegel turns 69… Minneapolis area school counselor and language arts teacher, Sandra Sevig turns 69… Chairman of the Mathematics Department at UCSD, Efim Zelmanov turns 63… Global co-chair of the Israel practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins, Stuart Kurlander turns 56…
Bahraini Ambassador to the US (2008-2013) after four years in the Bahraini Parliament (2005-2008), Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo turns 54… Associate professor at George Washington University, author, lecturer, and community scholar of Manhattan’s Jewish Center, Dr. Erica Brown… Award-winning special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of four best-selling books (book topics include John Paulson, fracking and athletes overcoming challenges), Gregory Zuckerman turns 52… Screenwriter, producer and director of many successful films and TV shows, Alex Kurtzman turns 45… Author of two New York Times best sellers and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon turns 45… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Shomrei Emunah since 2010, Rabbi Binyamin Marwick turns 41… Contributing Editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, previously National Political Editor at the Washington Post, Maralee Schwartz… Executive assistant at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Karen McCormick…
SATURDAY: Billionaire and philanthropist, owner of L Brands, Leslie H. “Les” Wexner turns 81… United States Senator from Vermont and 2016 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders turns 77… Born in Egypt to Jewish refugee parents from Europe, she is a Labour party member of the UK House of Commons since 1994 and a harsh critic of Jeremy Corbyn, Dame Margaret Eve Hodge (née Oppenheimer) turns 74… Pharma executive Samuel D. Waksal turns 71… Chairman of Douglas Elliman and its parent company, NYSE listed Vector Group, also chairman of Nathan’s Famous, Howard Mark Lorber turns 70… Billionaire owner of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie turns 67… Born in Casablanca, made aliyah in 1962, he was co-chair of the Jewish National Fund (2012-2017), and was previously a member of Knesset for the Likud (2003-2005) and then the Kadima party (2005-2012), Eli Aflalo turns 66… CEO of Weight Watchers since July 2017, Mindy Grossman turns 61… British physician, neuroscientist and engineer, Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Daniel Wolpert turns 55…
Billionaire, born in Azerbaijan (then part of the Soviet Union), he is reported to be the most successful real estate developer in Russia owning many luxury hotels and shopping centers, Zarakh Iliev turns 52… Australian businessman and philanthropist, James Douglas Packer turns 51… Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, PA, Rabbi Andrea Merow turns 49… Aspen, Colorado resident, Adam Goldsmith turns 49… Founder in 2010 of Atlanta-based JewishGPS, LLC, designed to help guide Jewish organizations in a variety of aspects of Jewish education, Robyn Faintich turns 45… Principal and co-founder of Berlin Rosen, Jonathan Rosen turns 40… Yale University graduate, Gabby Deutch… and her twin sister, a graduate of Vanderbilt, Serena Deutch, daughters of Congressman Ted Deutch, both turn 22… The Jewish Agency’s Gilad Peled… Jay Abarbanel… Philip Ehrensaft…
SUNDAY: President of Israel since 2014, Reuven Rivlin turns 79… Orlando real estate investor and manager, Harris Rosen turns 79… Commentator Daniel Pipes turns 69… Fourth president of Yeshiva University (2003-2017), Richard Joel turns 68… A founder of the Shas party, previously Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem (1983-1998) and a member of Knesset (1999-2015), Nissim Mordechai Ze’ev turns 67… Founding president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, Martin Kramer turns 64… Editorial director of Schocken Books (the Judaica imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is part of Penguin Random House), Altie Karper turns 62… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Shari Arison turns 61…
CFO since April 2017 of New Science Ventures, Lloyd Eric Appel turns 55… Actor Adam Sandler turns 52… Born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, he made aliyah in 2004 and served in the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party (2013-2015), Dov Lipman turns 47… Global lead at McKinsey & Company’s public and social sector practice advanced analytics group, Sacha Frédéric Litmanturns 45… Founder of the Silverstein Group, Rustin Silverstein turns 42… SVP of Tiedemann Wealth Management since August 2017, Michael B. Greenwald turns 35… Startup founder Ben Lang… Beverly Hills resident, Barbara Schechter… Suzy Stone…
MONDAY: CEO of Shamrock Holdings, he has served in leadership roles on the boards of Walt Disney Company, Tadiran, USC, HUC-JIR and the LA Jewish Federation, Stanley Gold turns 76… Founder and CEO of NYC-based hedge fund JS Capital Management LLC, he is the son of George Soros, Jonathan Soros turns 48… Director of the Mid Atlantic Region of Agudath Israel, Ariel Sadwin turns 43…
TUESDAY: Founder and president of Appaloosa Management, new owner of the Carolina Panthers, David Tepper turns 61… CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mark Dubowitz turns 50… Journalist Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt…
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…