Daily Kickoff: On 9/11, learning from Danny Lewin | Larry Silverstein on rebuilding the WTC | Jon Lerner profile | JI interview with Rep. Val Demings


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Ari Fleisher’s tradition: “Good morning. As I do every year on this day, I will do my best to recall what I saw on September 11, 2001. There was no Twitter then. But I will try to re-live history on twitter so others can know details of what happened behind the scenes.” [Twitter

REMEMBERING: “Learning from 9/11’s first victim” by Marco Greenberg: “On September 11, 2001, Danny Lewin, 31, my best friend, was working away on his laptop in seat 9B aboard American Airlines Flight 11 when he saw the two men sitting right in front of him — they would later be identified as Mohammad Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari — getting up and making their way to the cockpit. A veteran of the Israeli army’s most elite commando unit, Danny tried to stop them, as the 9/11 Commission report indicated, but the man seated right behind him, Satam al-Suqami, drew his knife and slit Danny’s throat, making him, as the report would eventually confirm, the first victim of the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.”

“Danny, of course, would hate that word, victim. He had spent his entire life proving he was anything but. He believed in hard work, setting a personal example, and daring ingenuity; if you asked him, he’d tell you these are the values that have made America great… Danny was a complicated guy, with strong opinions that easily spanned the partisan spectrum and were never obvious or unreasoned, but I know he’d be outraged by seeing how rampant xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism and anti-Semitism have become in our nation, and I suspect he’d be baffled by the tendency, on the left and the right alike, to focus on the accidents of our birth instead of on our infinite human potential.” [NYDailyNews]

TOP TALKER: “Netanyahu’s son removes anti-Semitic meme from Facebook following outcry” by Ruth Eglash: “The image, posted by Yair Netanyahu on Friday, appeared to be a local take on a classic anti-Semitic cartoon suggesting that Jews control the United States. It has appeared widely on extreme alt-right websites. In this instance, it depicted his father’s perceived foes: American Jewish billionaire philanthropist and investor George Soros, outspoken former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, activist Eldad Yaniv, and Meni Naftali, a former housekeeper for the Netanyahus who successfully sued them for mistreatment. Yair Netanyahu, who goes by the name “Yair Hun” on Facebook, had captioned the meme “the food chain.” [WashPost]

KAFE KNESSET — Neo-Nazis embrace Yair Netanyahu — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: David Duke posted a tweet praising Yair, and The Daily Stormer was quite pleased with him. On Sunday, after Bibi’s statement to the press at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, a reporter asked him about it, and the Prime Minister only said “this isn’t a press conference.” Last night, without a word of explanation, Yair deleted the post.

Meanwhile, the gag order on the testimony of Bibi’s former chief of staff Ari Harow is set to expire next week, and if it is indeed removed, new details are expected to emerge about Netanyahu’s alleged criminal affairs. Meanwhile, Haaretz reported today that Netanyahu tried to set Harow up with a job at Channel 10, after supporting the sale of the channel to Russian-born businessman Len Blavatnik. Blavatnik was interrogated by Israeli Police last month in London. The Channel 10 deal and Netanyahu’s contacts with Blavatnik are part of “Case 1000,” in which Netanyahu is suspected of receiving gifts and favors from LA producer Arnon Milchan and other businessmen. According to the report, Netanyahu asked Blavatnik’s people to appoint Harow, who was unemployed at the time, as chairman of the channel 10 news company. That appointment did not work out because of regulatory difficulties. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

PROFILE: “Haley’s UN Brinkmanship Comes With Advice From Low-Key Adviser” by Kambiz Foroohar: “Jon Lerner, a political strategist who helped get Haley elected twice as the Palmetto State’s governor, is the ambassador’s Washington-based deputy. While [Nikki] Haley has talked about the direct access she has to President Donald Trump, the 49-year-old Lerner serves as her eyes and ears on the ground in the nation’s capital: a critical role as Haley’s profile rises in an administration buffeted by leaks and turmoil. Lerner accompanied Haley to Vienna last month to meet International Atomic Energy Agency investigators over Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord opposed by Trump. And he helped draft Haley’s Iran-focused speech in Washington last week…

“In a rare public comment, Lerner described himself in an email as inspired by anti-Communist movements. “My hostility to anti-American authoritarian governments that began with anti-Communism remains my primary motivation,” Lerner wrote. “That manifests itself today in places that include North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia.”” [Bloomberg]

–Ambassador Haley will speak at the opening night of the IAC National Conference on November 3rd at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC. Yesterday, the IAC published a promo video featuring Haley as a “real-life Wonder Woman” [Video]

‘NEW YORK VALUES’: “Inside the Trump-Schumer marriage of convenience” by Mike Allen: “After shunning Trump for months because of possible blowback from the left, [Chuck] Schumer now has supreme leverage in December — hammer time for the debt and spending thickets that were postponed by the deal… My conversations with both sides make it clear that Trump plans to continue playing the field, and Schumer is game to make future deals with Trump as long as they suit the Democratic base.” [Axios

“Palestinians accuse Israel of sabotaging Trump-Abbas meet” by Daniel Siryoti: “The Palestinians have accused Israel of trying to sabotage U.S. efforts to hold a three-way summit… on the sidelines of the assembly… Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed in principle to the summit, but demanded a prior private meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. The Palestinians say further that Trump and his team are amenable to a private meeting, but that it will only take place after Abbas’ speech at the assembly. The reason… is that the Americans want to hear what Abbas says in his speech before sitting down for a meeting, to ensure that he doesn’t incite against Israel… “This report is false. We are having productive conversations but never discussed the U.N. speech and are putting no pressure on them about the speech,” a senior White House official told Israel Hayom.” [IsraelHayom

HEARD YESTERDAY — Prime Minister Netanyahu before boarding to Latin American, U.S. trip: “I look forward to our meeting, to my meeting with President Trump, my friend, in the United States, in New York, and I want to take this opportunity to wish all our friends in the United States that they emerge safe and sound from these difficult times. This storm too shall pass and every citizen of Israel is praying for the safety of the citizens of the United States of America.” [VideoReuters

“Trump’s negotiating skills are urban legends” by Aaron David Miller: “Even Mr. Trump’s delusionary promise to deliver the “ultimate deal” — a conflict-ending accord between Israelis and Palestinians — was an amateur move. Many people, especially Israelis and Palestinians, and Trump’s negotiator son-in-law should know that the deal — or anything close — cannot possibly be achieved. Former Secretary of State James Baker wisely advised me to keep public expectations low. Mr. Trump has done the opposite and engaged in grandiosity that damages his and America’s credibility.” [CNN]

JI INTERVIEW —  Representative Val Demings (D-FL) discussed her upbringing and her recent trip to Israel in an interview with JI’s Aaron Magid. “I see myself as a living witness that dreams really do come true,” Demings said. Having personally risen out of poverty, while facing the challenges of discrimination, the Florida lawmaker added, “I feel that a major part of my job now in the US Congress is to make sure that I am providing opportunities for other people regardless of their religion, gender, how much money they have in the bank.”

Demings returned from Israel last month along with a group of Congressional Democrats led by Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). The lawmakers participated in a Shabbat dinner with an Israeli family, and Demings was particularly inspired by one of the children who currently serves in the military. “The commitment, dedication, and service of the Israeli people were very impressive,” she said.

While meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Demings said she was unable to forget what she called Netanyahu’s “inappropriate” 2015 speech before Congress criticizing the nuclear deal with Iran… After meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian officials, Demings voiced frustration at the Trump’s unwillingness to endorse the two state solution. “The Trump administration’s lack of support for a two state solution indicates to me that he does not have clear understanding of what is going on the region and has not understood both sides what is going on in the region,” she notedRead the full interview here [JewishInsider]

IRMA: “For a Florida congressman, ‘safe room’ becomes his office” by David Cohen: “Florida Rep. Ted Deutch lost track of how many tornado warnings there were. Throughout the day Sunday, the Democratic congressman was forced to shelter from the ferocious effects of Hurricane Irma, even as he attempted to keep atop of the situation, or, as he put it, “trying to stay abreast while running back and forth to the safe room during tornado warnings.” That safe room was actually a walk-in closet in his in-laws’ residence in Boca Raton, on Florida’s Southeast side… Deutch said he and his family… had remained safe and gotten a bit more accustomed to the emergency drill as the day went along. “It was easier to find humor in it at 4 o’clock in the afternoon than 4 o’clock in the morning,” he said.” [Politico

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “New White House Chief of Staff Has an Enforcer” by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “The new chief of staff has tried to shield Gary D. Cohn…  from Mr. Trump’s continuing wrath since the former Goldman Sachs executive went public with his disgust at the president’s response to the deadly violence last month in Charlottesville… [John] Kelly made a point… of throwing his arm around Mr. Cohn in solidarity, in full view of the news media, as they exited Marine One last week on the South Lawn. But he has not always been successful. Several aides said Mr. Trump is freezing out Mr. Cohn by employing a familiar tactic: refusing to make eye contact with Mr. Cohn when his adviser greets him. At a meeting on Thursdayon infrastructure at the White House with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York… Mr. Kelly told participants that Mr. Cohn would lead the meeting. But Mr. Trump… virtually ignored him.” [NYTimes

“Former Sessions aides chart different paths in Trump’s White House” by Andrew Restuccia, Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey: “[Stephen] Miller’s influence with the president has rarely been stronger than in the past few weeks, when, according to two administration officials, he joined with Sessions, his former boss, to convince Trump to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program… Two administration officials said Miller distanced himself from Sessions at the height of Trump’s anger with the former Alabama senator. Miller, according to one senior White House aide, has “risen to a status that’s beyond Sessions.” Lately, however, Kelly has sought to curb Miller’s access to Trump. White House aides have sometimes blamed Miller… for passing along bad information to the president, and he can no longer put printed-out Breitbart articles on Trump’s desk.” [Politico]

“Mueller gives White House names of 6 aides he expects to question in Russia probe” by Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Ashley Parker: “[Robert] Mueller’s office has also told the White House that investigators may want to interview Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. White House officials are expecting that Mueller will seek additional interviews, possibly with family members, including Kushner…  according to the people familiar with Mueller’s inquiry.” [WashPost]

IRAN DEAL: “Iran Nuclear Inspections Double Under Deal Questioned by Trump” by Jonathan Tirone: “Iran has received nearly two snap nuclear inspections a month and almost double the overall number of visits it had just five years ago… International Atomic Energy Agency monitors conducted 402 site visits and 25 snap inspections in the first 12 months since the deal was enacted in early 2016, according to data from reports to IAEA members.” [Bloomberg] • UN atomic chief says Iran meeting terms of nuclear deal [AP]

HEARD YESTERDAY ON 60 MINUTES — Charlie Rose: There’s now talk you may not try to undo the Iran nuclear deal. Steve Bannon: “Decertify? I wouldn’t bet on that.” Rose: But there is talk about that. Bannon: “There’s definitely talk. The apparatus wants him to continue to certify. President Trump wants to get out of the deal and either go make a better deal or just view it from the outside.”

“North Korea ‘secretly helped by Iran to gain nuclear weapons’, British officials fear” by Ben Riley-Smith: “The Foreign Office is investigating whether “current and former nuclear states” helped Kim Jong-Un in his drive to mount nuclear warheads on missiles.  Senior Whitehall sources told The Sunday Telegraph it is not credible that North Korean scientists alone brought about the technological advances.  Iran is top of the list of countries suspected of giving some form of assistance, while Russia is also in the spotlight… “North Korean scientists are people of some ability, but clearly they’re not doing it entirely in a vacuum,” said one Government minister.” [Telegraph

Michael Oren: “British officials say Iran assists North Korean nuclear program. No surprise but what’s the world going to do about it?” [Twitter]

2018 WATCH: “Republican Sen. Bob Corker weighs whether to retire in 2018” by Manu Raju: “Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the influential chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee who was once considered for a spot in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, is weighing whether to call it quits next year. Corker told CNN last week that he has not made a decision about his future, and appeared to confirm Trump’s tweet that he asked the President for political advice about whether to run for reelection. “As far as what am I going to do in the future, I’m still contemplating the future,” Corker said in an interview. “It’s a tremendous privilege to do what I do, and to weigh in on the big issues. … But I have not decided what I’m going to do in the future.” [CNN]

“Nevada treasurer’s candidacy for governor sparks attack ads” by  Colton Lochhead: “On the day of the announcement, a digital and radio ad blitz attacked [Dan] Schwartz as a candidate from a Republican super PAC with ties to GOP megadonors Joe Ricketts and… Sheldon Adelson. Schwartz’s likely primary opponent, Adam Laxalt, received $55,000 in campaign donations from the Adelson family and Sands during Laxalt’s successful 2014 bid for attorney general.” [LVReviewJournal]

2020 WATCH: “How California could jolt the 2020 presidential race” by David Siders and Gabe Debenedetti: “California is pushing forward with a plan to change the state’s primary date from June to March, a move that could scramble the 2020 presidential nominating contest and swing the early weight of the campaign to the west… The earlier primary could benefit at least two potential presidential contenders from California – U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti…” [Politico

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel and China sign $300 million ‘clean-tech’ trade agreement [Reuters] • Netanyahu Taking Along Israeli Business Delegation on Latam Trip [Bloomberg] • Roberto Spindel, head of the Israel – Latin American Chamber of Commerce: Netanyahu’s Latin America trip ‘too short, too late’ [JPost] • Chief executive of Israel supermarket chain arrested [FinancialTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “Larry Silverstein on rebuilding the World Trade Center after 9/11” by Sarina Trangle: “When we first acquired the Twin Towers … about six weeks before 9/11, never dreamed as to what was going to happen … I have now been at this, the rebuilding, for the last 16 years of my life. So it’s been the passion of my life. We’ve come a very long way. You can see the buildings that we’ve erected down here… It didn’t because very quickly after 9/11, I just in my mind concluded that we needed to rebuild the trade center to defeat the terrorists and their attacks — what they sought to do to us on 9/11. Not to have rebuilt would have been a terrible tragedy because then, effectively, they would have won.” [AMNY]

MEDIA WATCH: “How fake news in the Middle East is a powder keg waiting to blow” by Bethan McKernan: “It is common for Lebanese to share news updates and other messages via WhatsApp and SMS, copying and pasting the text to others in their contact lists. Given the context, however, one fake news story which circulated recently raised more than a few eyebrows. “Urgent”, read the message, which purported to be from Reuters news agency. “Hezbollah kidnaps top-ranking Mossad intelligence officers in Israel’s elite class.” The Arabic text went on to quote an unnamed Israeli intelligence officer who said that Israel had decided to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon as a result of the Mossad kidnappings.” [Independent

“Why ‘Fauda’ Is the Best-Kept Secret on Netflix” by Itay Hod: ““Fauda” has become a favorite among Hollywood A-listers… Conan O’Brien, who is currently shooting a special in Israel, filmed a skit with [Lior] Raz, telling the “Fauda” crew that he is a “huge fan.” While few expect a TV show to erase years of animosity between Israelis and Palestinians, “Fauda” has given both sides a little bit of hope…“‘Fauda’ has achieved something  remarkable,” Itay Stern, who covers entertainment for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, told TheWrap. “On one hand, it allows us to look at ourselves from the point of view of the commando soldiers. But it also exposed people to how the other side is thinking.” … Asked what viewers should expect next season, Raz kept his cards close to his vest… The show may not lead to the next Oslo Accord, but it’s already made Raz a hot commodity in Hollywood.” [TheWrap

“The Israeli Film Condemned by Israel’s Cultural Minister Is a Fascinating Look at Grief” Jordan Hoffman: “Foxtrot, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, begins with a ring at the front door, and young mother Dafna (Sarah Adler) fainting when she sees who it is. The two soldiers know exactly what to do… They’ve come to inform Dafna and Michael (Lior Ashkenazi, the hardest working man in the Israeli film industry right now) that their son has died in the line of duty. The next thirty minutes are a terse and precise procedural. With Dafna doped-up in the next room, Michael tries to keep it together in his elegantly furnished home as handlers explain what will happen next. Then, a miracle. It’s all been a mistake. A soldier was killed, but it isn’t their son, just someone with the same name.” [VanityFair

SPORTS BLINK: “Watch Victor Daviet snowboard in Israel” [Transworld

DESSERT: “This Israeli Startup is Making Edible NYC and Other City Maps Out of Chocolate” by Matt Coneybeare: “Founded by Anat Errell and Liat Zvi, Tamtik is an Israeli startup that is looking to bring edible maps of New York City, Tel Aviv, London and other cities to life, each made from gourmet chocolate… The company has launched a Kickstarter campaign where they are seeking a modest $10,000 of pre-orders to get the ball rolling… Tamtik has already raised about 25% of the funding for the urban chocolate maps.”[ViewingNYC

“Looking for the Last of the Power Lunchers: Are the city’s power lunchers gone forever, or just sipping fruit smoothies at Google?” by Simon van Zuylen-Wood: “At any given lunch hour at Davio’s, you’re likely to spot shopping-center mogul Stephen Karp, auto tycoon Herb Chambers, or hedge-fund master of the universe Seth Klarman. John Kerry, when he was secretary of state, was known to usher delegations of foreign diplomats into one of the restaurant’s discreet private dining rooms. Robert Kraft, meanwhile, beelines for the ever-desirable Table 60, which is visible from Arlington Street and offers a panoramic view of the dining room.” [BostonMag]

MAZEL TOV: “Stephanie Taylor Butnick and Benjamin Zachary Cohen were married Sept. 9 at the Old Westbury Golf and Country Club in Old Westbury, N.Y… The bride, 29, is the deputy editor of Tablet magazine… and host of “Unorthodox,” its weekly podcast… The groom, also 29, is a sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal in New York.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Founder and president of Appaloosa Management, a global hedge fund based in Short Hills, New Jersey, David Tepper turns 60… Three time winner of an Academy Award as a lyricist and songwriter, Alan Bergmanturns 92… De Pere, Wisconsin resident, Janis Kohlenberg turns 78… French physicist who was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics, Serge Harocheturns 73… Pediatric nephrologist practicing at the Children’s National Medical Center, Dr. Jonathan Heiliczer turns 67… Member of the New Jersey General Assembly since 2006, Gary Schaer turns 66… Co-executive producer of an 8-hour documentary series on climate change for National Geographic Channel, formerly of ABC and CBS, Jon Meyersohn turns 61… Agoura Hills, California resident, Marian Rubinstein turns 60… Manager of the UK hedge fund, Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP, former director of the Conservative Friends of Israel, Alan Howard turns 54…

London-based, British-French financier and author, he is the CEO and founding partner of Stanhope Capital, the asset management and advisory group, Daniel Pinto turns 51… CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mark Dubowitz turns 49… Israeli journalist, political commentator and investigative reporter, his reports have formed the basis for a number of the pending investigations aimed at PM Netanyahu and his aides, Raviv Drucker turns 47… Executive director at JP Morgan Chase, Daniel E. Berger turns 44… CEO of  government relations firm S4Group, LLC, Yehiel Mark Kalish turns 42… Graduate of Harvard now attending Cardozo Law School, Jessica S. Setless… Journalist whose essays and reports have appeared in the NY Times, Salon, Tablet, the Forward and Haaretz, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt… Udi Ben Zeev

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Daily Kickoff: Sen. Booker now supports Taylor Force Act | Sara Netanyahu to be indicted | Contrasting North Korea and Osirak | Yasmin Lukatz interview


JI EXCLUSIVE — After amendment, Sen. Cory Booker now supports Taylor Force Act — by Aaron Magid: With a significant change in the latest version of the Taylor Force Act, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) will now support the effort — to cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until they cease payments to families of terrorists — after an amendment was agreed to on Thursday by the Appropriations Committee, a Booker aide told Jewish Insider. The New Jersey lawmaker was one of only four Senators to vote against the Taylor Force Act in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month. On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) included the Taylor Force Act in the Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

In the updated version advanced out of the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, the text clarifies that the U.S. funding to the West Bank and Gaza would only be severed for assistance that “directly benefits the Palestinian Authority.” U.S. funding towards humanitarian projects assisting Palestinians would now be permitted, a key demand by Booker who was concerned about the impact of cutting off U.S. aid to Palestinians not involved with committing acts of terrorism… Given the scarcity of floor time in the Senate, it appears more likely that the Taylor Force Act will go to the floor through the annual Appropriations bill rather than in a standalone bill. [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY: During a press conference with the Emir of Kuwait, President Donald Trump expressed hope that the administration’s effort to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would bear fruit but was less confident than in the past. “I believe that the relationships that we have with both can help,” the President explained. ”I think the Palestinians would like to see it happen. I think the Israelis would like to see it happen. And usually, when you have two groups that would like to see something happen, good things can happen. So I think there is a chance that there could be peace.”

BUT…  “But again, I say that a little bit reluctantly.  We’re going to give it our best. We have tremendous talent working on that particular transaction. As you know, David Friedman, the ambassador, is very much involved. We have a great group of people. We’ll see what happens.” [Video]

“U.S. Rebukes Ambassador to Israel: ‘No Policy Shift’ Regarding Occupied Territories” by Amir TIbon: “Friedman said in an interview to the Jerusalem Post last week that the Israeli left-wing is opposing the “alleged occupation” of the West Bank… Heather Nauert, the State Department’s spokeswoman, was asked about Friedman’s choice of words on Thursday and replied: “Our position on that hasn’t changed. The comment does not represent a shift in U.S. policy.” When asked why the sitting American ambassador in Israel therefore used those words, she repeated the same answer, signaling that if Friedman intended to question the status of the West Bank, such an intention does not represent official American policy.” [Haaretz

“Bashing the media is how Trump tries to bond with world leaders” by Callum Borchers: “President Trump used a familiar bonding activity to commiserate with the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, during Thursday’s joint news conference at the White House. The two men shared a laugh at the media’s expense… We’ve seen this before. Trump had barely stepped off Air Force One in Tel Aviv in May when he and the Netanyahus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and wife Sara, broke the ice by complaining about negative media coverage in their respective countries. “The majority of the people in Israel, unlike the media, they love us,” Sara Netanyahu told Trump…. “We have something very much in common,” Trump said.” [WashPost]

NO REXIT, FOR NOW: “Tillerson is working with China and Russia — very, very quietly” by David Ignatius: “The Tillerson approach focuses on personal diplomacy, in direct contacts with Chinese and Russian leaders, and through private channels to North Korea… Tillerson appears to have preserved a working relationship with Trump despite pointedly separating himself from the president’s controversial comments after the Charlottesville unrest. Although Trump didn’t initially like Tillerson’s statement, it’s said he was ultimately comfortable with it… On Syria, Tillerson has warned Putin that the real danger to Russian interests is increasing Iranian power there…  To counter the Iranians, Tillerson supports a quick move by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to capture the lower Euphrates Valley. Trump’s boisterous, sometimes belligerent manner and Tillerson’s reticence are an unlikely combination, and many observers have doubted the relationship can last. But Tillerson seems to roll with the punches — and tweets.” [WashPost

“Israel Has a Playbook for Dealing With North Korea” by Zev Chafets: “North Korea is now truly dangerous — unlike Iraq and Syria, it already has nuclear weapons — and it won’t get less so as time goes on. Trump has said this in no uncertain terms… But if the American president does back down, if Kim Jong Un stays in power, keeps his nuclear warheads and ballistic weapons, and gets away with threatening the U.S. and its allies with nuclear destruction, every friend and foe of Washington will be revisiting its strategic playbook. For Israel, so far away from Korea yet so close to Iranian aggression, that book begins with the Begin Doctrine.” [BloombergView

LongRead: “The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea” by Evan Osnos: “Another option is akin to Israel’s 1981 stealth attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor, the linchpin of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons development, which set back Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons by at least a decade. “That’s a textbook case of a preventive war,” the senior Administration official told me. But the comparison between Osirak and North Korea is limited. In 1981, Iraq had yet to make a bomb, and it had just one major nuclear target, which was isolated in the desert and relatively easy to eliminate. North Korea already has dozens of usable nuclear warheads, distributed across an unknown number of facilities, many of them hidden underground. Even destroying their missiles on the launch pad has become much harder, because the North has developed mobile launchers and solid-fuel missiles, which can be rolled out and fired with far less advance notice than older liquid-fuel missiles.” [NewYorker]

“Airstrikes on Syrian Military Sites Renew Focus on Chemical Weapons” by David Halbfinger and Ben Hubbard: “Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser, said the strike on Thursday went a step further. “The big change now is that somebody decided to go to another level of hitting: to the producing stage,” he said in an interview. As is common with strikes in Syria, Israeli officials declined to comment on it. But Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman…  said in a radio interview on Thursday that Israel was determined to resist Iran’s influence in the region. “Everything will be done to prevent the existence of a Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus,” he said.”[NYTimes]

— “A U.S. official… confirmed that the Israelis carried out the strike.The United States had no involvement in it and was assessing the situation, the official said.” [WashPost]

Wall Street Journal editorial… The Next Middle East War: “Israel may have to make more such strikes in Syria because Iran isn’t likely to give up on this strategic opening… The danger of a proxy war or even a direct war between Iran and Israel is growing, and it will increase as Iran’s presence builds in Syria. Mr. Trump may not like it, but he needs a strategy for post-ISIS Syria that contains Iran if he doesn’t want the U.S. to be pulled back into another Middle East war.” [WSJ

JARED INSIDER: “Trump DACA decision followed months of meetings involving senior Democrat” by Richard Cowan: “No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin has had multiple conversations with Jared Kushner and other top White House officials about how to protect young immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation, the lawmaker said on Thursday. Durbin, in an interview with Reuters, described Kushner as a conduit to his father-in-law… Kushner… held private meetings at the White House with Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in April and July… Besides the White House meetings, Durbin said there were telephone calls with Kushner… Durbin said that Kushner invited Trump aide Stephen Miller to attend one of the White House meetings because of his experience as a Senate aide to Jeff Sessions.” [Reuters]

“Trump Is Disgusted by White Supremacists, Paul Ryan Says, Because His Grandchildren Are Jewish” by Harriet Sinclair: “I really think he’s disgusted by these people,” [Paul] Ryan told the Times. “And from the conversations I’ve had with him, I know he’s disgusted by these people. I mean, good grief, his kids, his grandkids are Jewish,” he added. “So I think he’s disgusted by these people.” [Newsweek]

SCHUMER HONEYMOON: “Trump, jovial after debt deal, turns meeting into a freewheeling affair” by Josh Dawsey: “In an Oval Office meeting with the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations, he repeatedly shook Schumer’s hand and kept him after for a private session, his third chat with the Democrat in 30 hours… During the meeting, he repeatedly told the room how happy he was to work with Schumer on a debt deal, a move that has angered many Republicans.” [Politico

ON THE HILL — ANTI-BOYCOTT ACT: “Alan Dershowitz… told the Washington Free Beacon that Senator Gillibrand’s concerns about the Israel Anti-Boycott Act could be settled with the simple addition of a line stating “no provision of this law shall be construed in a manner that violates the First Amendment.”” [FreeBeacon]

2018 WATCH: “New primary challenger to Feinstein emerges” by Carla Marinucci: “Add another name to the list of progressive Democrats seriously considering a primary challenge to California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein: wealthy financial entrepreneur Joseph N. Sanberg. Sanberg, 38 – co-founder of Aspiration, a socially-conscious investment firm, and a founding investor in Blue Apron… Sanberg had been mulling a governor’s run… Now, sources close to Sanberg say he is being strongly encouraged to make a play for the Senate — and take Feinstein on from the left.” [Politico]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Yasmin Lukatz, the daughter of Miriam Adelson, established the Israel Collaboration Network that connects the Israeli start-up community to Silicon Valley [TheMarker] • Las Vegas Sands Gives Billionaire CEO Adelson 400% Salary Bump [Bloomberg] • Michael Dell extols the benefits of going private, a year after Dell-EMC mega merger [USAToday• Israeli drone maker Airobotics raises $32.5 million in private funds  [Reuters] • David Schottenstein teams up with celebrities on sunglasses venture [ColumbusDispatch] • Israel Story podcast on why the Better Place electric car generated such excitement and inspired such devotion, and why its ultimate demise was so devastating [IsraelStory]

Michael Dell: ‘I’m Glad I Went and Met With the President’: “Dell said, as a Jewish American, he was horrified to see what happened Charlottesville… In the following days, Dell said he was in communication with other business leaders about how to respond – and then events changed. “As we were having that conversation, the president decided to just dissolve the councils,” he said.” [Newsmax

KAFE KNESSET — Boom! — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: After months of investigations, deliberations, leaks and discussions over Sara Netanyahu’s alleged criminal affairs – Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has officially announced that the PM’s wife will be indicted, She will be charged with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly diverting public funds for her own private uses. According to the AG’s statement, during 2010-2013, Netanyahu ordered hundreds of meals prepared by chefs as well as take-out meals worth NIS 360,000 (over $100,000) while employing a full-time official cook at the PM’s Residence. Netanyahu has a “partner in crime” who will also be indicted.

Ezra Saidoff, the former deputy director-general in the Prime Minister’s Office, will also be charged. Saidoff is alleged to have helped Mrs. Netanyahu present a “false representation” that there was no full-time cook at the residence. This enabled billing the external food orders to the State. Saidoff also allegedly falsified invoices to chefs and waiters invited to the residence, in order to pay more for the outside personnel and meals. The original investigation against Sara Netanyahu included three additional affairs – the electrician affair, the “father’s homecare” affair, and the garden furniture affair – all of which the AG decided not to pursue.

The indictment will not be formally issued until Sara Netanyahu goes through a hearing, but one can only imagine the atmosphere on Balfour Street this morning. At least the Netanyahus have something to look forward to. On Sunday evening, they will be taking off for an 11 day overseas trip, starting with a historic first-ever visit by an Israeli PM to Latin America. The trip will conclude in their favorite city – New York City. However, criminal news is likely to follow them abroad as well. On September 17th – the same date Netanyahu is slated to meet President Trump – the gag order expires concerning the testimony of Bibi’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

PREVIEW: “Shimon Peres, in Memoir, Takes on Israel Past and Future” by Isabel Kershner: “Mr. Peres completed work on the book in his final weeks, Chemi Peres said, using it as “his last voice” … Mr. Peres sat and recorded the memoir in English to reach as wide an audience as possible, in the hope, his son said, of inspiring future leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs… The book by no means offers a full accounting or reckoning. Mr. Peres simply does not grapple with the more contentious episodes… “My father was the greatest optimist on earth,” Chemi Peres said. “He believed that the future was the only thing that mattered because the past cannot be changed.” The book, he added, was not meant to settle disputes or disagreements.” [NYTimesThe book, “No Room For Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel,” will be published on Sept. 12.

“Doctors Could Do Nothing to Help Palestinian With Rare ‘Tree Man’ Disease. Then Israel Stepped In” by Benny Johnson: “Muhammad Taluli lives in Palestinian-controlled Gaza and suffers from an extremely rare skin disease called epidermodysplasia verruciformis or “Tree Man” disease… He had traveled to doctors throughout the region for help with no luck. Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian doctors all shrugged their shoulders… Then, as a last resort, Palestinian and Israeli officials agreed to admit Taluli to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center… The prospects of a difficult surgery did not stop the Jewish doctors from operating on the Muslim man… Taluli is now home in Gaza, back with his six children and free of his debilitating disease for the first time in 10 years. He returns with a large assortment of medications used to treat his skin disease. They were all personally paid for by the Jewish doctors who operated on him.” [IJR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Rabbi says state trooper held him at gunpoint in ‘traumatizing’ ordeal” by Reuven Fenton: “The family’s horror began Aug. 7 along I-91 north near Fairlee, Vermont, Rabbi Berl Fink’s wife Sarah told The Post. Berl, who was driving, was ordered out of their 2004 Toyota Camry at gunpoint by Trooper Justin Thompson around 11:30 p.m., as their two teen kids looked on, she said… Now, the family is threatening to sue the Vermont State Police for civil rights violations. Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind said he was “appalled” over the incident and called on Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to investigate the Finks’ allegations.” [NYPost

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Philanthropist, owner of L Brands (which includes Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works), Leslie H. “Les” Wexner turns 80… United States Senator from Vermont and 2016 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders turns 76… Pharma executive Samuel D. Waksalturns 70… Chairman of Douglas Elliman and its parent company, NYSE listed Vector Group, also chairman of Nathan’s Famous, Howard Mark Lorberturns 69… Owner of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie turns 66… Born in Casablanca, made aliyah in 1962, co-chair of the Jewish National Fund starting in 2012, he was previously a member of Knesset for the Likud (2003-2005) and then the Kadima party (2005-2012), Eli Aflalo turns 65… CEO of Weight Watchers since July 2017, she was the CEO of Home Shopping Network (2006-2017) after stints as an executive at Ralph Lauren (1991-2000) and then Nike (2000-2006), Mindy Grossman turns 60… British physician, neuroscientist and engineer, Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Daniel Wolpert turns 54… 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 51… Australian businessman James Douglas Packer turns 50… Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, PA, Rabbi Andrea Merow turns 48… Aspen, Colorado resident, Adam Goldsmith turns 48… 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 44… Principal and co-founder of Berlin Rosen, Jonathan Rosen turns 39… Yale University student Gabby Deutch… and her twin sister at Vanderbilt, Serena Deutch, daughters of Congressman Ted Deutch, both turn 21… The Jewish Agency’s Gilad Peled… Jay Abarbanel… Philip Ehrensaft

SATURDAY: President of Israel since 2014, former Speaker of the Knesset from 2003 to 2006, Reuven Rivlin turns 78… Real estate investor and manager, he operates seven hotels, resorts and retreats with 6,300 rooms in the Orlando metropolitan area, Harris Rosen turns 78… President of the Middle East Forum and publisher of its Middle East Quarterly journal, Daniel Pipesturns 68… Fourth president of Yeshiva University (2003-2017), Richard Joelturns 67… A founder of the Shas party, previously Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem (1983-1998) and a member of Knesset (1999-2015), he also served as a rabbi in Mexico City and Brooklyn in the 1970s, Nissim Mordechai Ze’ev turns 66… Founding president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, where he continues to teach the history of the Middle East, he is also a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Martin Kramer turns 63… Editorial director of Schocken Books (the Judaica imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is part of Penguin Random House), Altie Karper turns 61… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, reported to be the wealthiest woman in the Middle East, her holdings include Bank Hapoalim, Shari Arison turns 60… CFO since April 2017 of New Science Ventures, a NYC-based VC firm, Lloyd Eric Appel turns 54… Actor, comedian, screenwriter, film producer and musician, famous for “The Chanukah Song,” Adam Sandler turns 51… Born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, member of Knesset for the Yesh Atid party (2013-2015), author of three books, he is now a radio host and political correspondent, Dov Lipman turns 46… Global lead at McKinsey & Company’s public and social sector practice advanced analytics group, he is the founder and former CEO of Measuring Success, Sacha Frédéric Litman turns 44… Founder of the Silverstein Group, Rustin Silverstein turns 41… SVP of Tiedemann Wealth Management since August 2017, he was previously a US Treasury official posted to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Michael B. Greenwald turns 34… Co-founder of Mapme, now working on Spoke (a startup service desk app), Ben Lang… Beverly Hills resident, Barbara Schechter… Suzy Stone

SUNDAY: CEO of Shamrock Holdings, Roy Disney’s private investment company, 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 75… Huntington Beach, California resident, Dianne Varon turns 77… Attorney focused principally on the areas of futures and derivatives law, he was EVP and General Counsel at Chicago’s futures broker Rosenthal Collins Group, Gerald Fishman turns 75… Coordinator of the Youth Advisory Council at Independence, Missouri’s Truman Heartland Community Foundation, Henri Goettel turns 71… Houston attorney, Republican party activist, publisher of the Texas Conservative Review, he has served on the boards of AIPAC and Jewish Federations of North America, Gary M. Pollandturns 67… Denver attorney and politician, he served in the Colorado House of Representatives (2003-2011), Joel Judd turns 65… Award-winning journalist who has worked at Forbes, Time and Fortune magazines, he is now the editor of Mideast Dig, Richard Behar turns 57… Founder and CEO of NYC-based hedge fund JS Capital Management LLC, he is the son of George Soros, Jonathan Soros turns 47… Director of the Mid Atlantic Region of Agudath Israel, Ariel Sadwin turns 42… PR strategist Josh Nass turns 26… Jennifer Meyer

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Daily Kickoff: With Cohn likely out, Kevin Warsh new favorite for Fed Chair | Amos Yadlin on last night’s strike in Syria | Tel Aviv’s graffiti tours


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TOP TALKER: “President Trump Unlikely to Nominate Gary Cohn to Become Fed Chairman” by Michael C. Bender, Harriet Torry and Nick Timiraos: “The shift in Mr. Cohn’s prospects for the top Fed job arises largely from his criticism of Mr. Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., the people familiar with the matter said… White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said Mr. Cohn is “focused on his responsibilities…” Mr. Cohn may have doomed his chances for the top Fed job with comments he made to the Financial Times last month, according to people close to the president… Mr. Trump wasn’t aware such a blunt critique was coming… One White House official said the president visibly bristles at the mention of his economic adviser… A White House official said that Mr. Cohn… may be able to repair his relationship with the president.” [WSJ

Jake Tapper: “GOP source close to the White House tells me: Cohn “more likely to get electric chair than Fed Chair.”” [Twitter]

Mike Allen: “White House insiders have been telling us the favorite for Fed chair is Kevin Warsh, an economic official in the George W. Bush White House, and member of the Fed board from 2006 until 2011.” [Axios]

–Worth noting: Warsh is the son-in-law of Trump whisperer Ronald Lauder.

HEARD THIS MORNING — Ousted White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon on Gary Cohn’s criticism of Trump in an interview with 60 Minutes: “My problem, and I told General Kelly this – when you side with a man, you side with him. I was proud to come out and try to defend President Trump in the media that day… You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But… If you’re going to break with him, resign. The stuff that was leaked out that week by certain members of the White House I thought was unacceptable… I’m talking – obviously, about Gary Cohn and some other people. That if you don’t like what he’s doing and you don’t agree with it, you have an obligation to resign.” [CBSNews]

PROFILE: “Donald Trump told Nikki Haley she could speak her mind. She’s doing just that” by Elise Labott: “One of her biggest goals when she arrived at the UN was to fight what she viewed as an anti-Israel bias. In March, at their annual conference, she told the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC “there is a new sheriff in town,” winning applause from the crowd. Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, credits Haley with “ushering in a new era of support for Israel at the UN.” … “The public support has made a huge difference for us,” Danon told me. “I think that member states and the UN agencies now understand they should recalculate their approach.”

“Critics argue that Haley is simply pandering to pro-Israel groups that are important to GOP politics. More than one State Department official has rolled their eyes over what they call Haley’s unabashed support for Israel. Even a senator who supports Haley said her work on the issue “is a bit much” for a UN ambassador. But Haley told me she sees an expansive role for herself. “It is what you want it to be,” she said of the ambassadorship. “I’ve found this is a place where you can move foreign policy. I didn’t not think that before. But this is a place where you can negotiate and this is a place where you can move the ball. I don’t think that has been tapped as much as what I’m attempting to do.” [CNN]

ON THE HILL — Amendment cutting US aid to UNRWA & UNHRC advances — by Aaron Magid: An amendment from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that would sever U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has been advanced by the House Rules Committee. The amendment would also end funding to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The measure will now head to a floor wide vote. An informed Republican staffer told Jewish Insider that this will be the first time in many years that a floor wide vote — possibly as early as today — will proceed on defunding UNRWA.” [JewishInsider]

“U.S. Congressman Proposes $12 Million to Support Israel’s Ethiopian Community” by Amir Tibon: “The amendment was proposed on Tuesday by Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democratic lawmaker and a member of the House Rules Committee… According to Hastings, Israeli organizations that work with the Ethiopian sector “do not have sufficient resources to meet the needs of these communities,” even after the recent addition of Israeli government funding.” [Haaretz

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Lacking a Point Person on China, U.S. Risks Aggravating Tensions” by Mark Landler: “Jared Kushner’s involvement in China has waned; he did not accept an invitation from the Chinese to go to Beijing this month for a visit that some expected would be in preparation for Mr. Trump’s state visit in November… White House officials said no visit was ever scheduled, and hence, none was canceled. Mr. Kushner’s initially prominent role on China policy, they said, ebbed naturally as other officials, including Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Mnuchin, settled into their jobs. Mr. Kushner, they said, remains involved in economic and trade issues regarding China. Some attribute Mr. Kushner’s lower visibility to his overflowing agenda — he is trying to broker a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, not to mention overhauling the federal bureaucracy.” [NYTimes

NEW DEETS: “Trump to speak with Israeli, Palestinian leaders at UN next week” by Margaret Brennan: “A White House official confirmed that two presidential advisers leading the peace initiative, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, would accompany the president to the annual [UNGA] gathering… “Everyone understands how complicated, difficult and challenging this task is, and that it will take time, but we are all feeling hopeful after all of our meetings last month,” a White House official said.” [CBSNews

“Abbas Scales Back Israeli-Palestinian Security Coordination as He Preps for Diplomatic Confrontation” by Amos Harel: “Abbas is thinking about renewing the Palestinian Authority’s applications for acceptance into a host of international organizations. He’ll also be taking a hard line in his address to the UN General Assembly… Security coordination between Israel and the PA hasn’t recovered since the last Israeli-Palestinian meltdown.”[Haaretz]

Netanyahu expresses concern over the PA’s collapse — by Aaron Magid: In a meeting with Members of Congress last month, Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed “concern” for the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) told Jewish Insider on Wednesday.

An Israeli official familiar with the meeting tells us: “It’s not our assessment that the PA is about to collapse. The focus of the meeting was on the importance of the PA recognizing  Israel as a Jewish state, ending their payments to terrorists and stopping the glorification of mass murderers.”

DRIVING THE CONVO: “In Deal With Democrats, Trump Makes a Sudden Turn” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump often invites his daughter Ivanka Trump into meetings to signal their conclusion — or to keep his interlocutors off balance. When she entered the Oval Office toward the end of the discussion on Wednesday, the Republicans in the room reacted with expressions that two people present described as astonishment. [Paul] Ryan… coolly told colleagues that he had come to expect such surprises… A chastened Mr. Mnuchin left the room, in what one witness described as a state of shell shock.” [NYTimes

“The ‘Ivanka drop-by’: Trump’s not-so-secret meeting trick” by Betsy Klein: “Ivanka Trump… “entered the Oval Office to ‘say hello’ and the meeting careened off-topic,” a congressional source briefed on the meeting told CNN’s Deirdre Walsh. Some Republican leaders were “visibly annoyed by Ivanka’s presence,” the source said.” [CNN

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Michael Cohen Would Take a Bullet for Donald Trump” by Emile Jane Fox: “The word “loyal” came up more than a dozen times in the course of our conversations. During a telephone discussion a few days earlier, Cohen joked that maybe if he saw the president in a white sheet at a Klan rally, then he would think twice about lending his support. (Afterward making the comment, Cohen, who is Jewish and the child of a Holocaust survivor, clarified that he was speaking in jest, and that neither he nor the president condone white supremacy.)… He is glad that Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are still there, though he said he warned them not to go down to Washington. “ “They’re under attack also… and I told them it would be ugly for them and I recommended that they not go in. I remember both of them telling me that ‘dad needs our help,’” he said. “Unfortunately, my prediction was correct… There’s things that came out about Jared and his real estate and the finances. This is a family that tries to stay under the radar in terms of their business and I’m sure Charlie [Kushner] is not happy right now at all.”” [VanityFair]

REPORT: “Syria Says Israel Bombed a Military Base” by Ben Hubbard: “Syria accused Israel on Thursday of conducting an overnight strike on a military base said by analysts to house chemical weapons and advanced missiles. The Syrian military reported the attack, saying it killed two people near the town of Masyaf in western Syria and caused unspecified material damage. Israeli officials did not comment on the strike, but a Syrian monitoring group and a former Israeli official said it had targeted a research site that produced chemical weapons.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Mum’s the word — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Israeli officials, as always, kept mum this morning as the country woke up to news of an air strike on a military factory in Syria. But former officials did weigh in – Amos Yadlin, former IDF intelligence chief, published a series of tweets these morning. “The strike reported last night is not routine,” Yadlin informed. “It targeted a Syrian military – scientific center for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict. The factory that was targeted in Masyaf produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians.”

“The strike reported last night is not routine,” Yadlin informed. “It targeted a Syrian military – scientific center for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict. The factory that was targeted in Masyaf produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Iran keeping watchful eye on Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel” by Mahmut Bozarslan: “Israel is among the countries interested in Iraqi Kurdistan affairs. Iran openly opposes the [Kurdish independence] referendum, but Israel declares its support. Their differences have generated speculation that Iran’s military moves are actually against Israel. Political analyst Siddik Hasan Sukru of Erbil is among those who believe claims of Israeli involvement… Sukru insists… that Iran’s priority is to undermine the influence of Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Kurdish region. “Iran’s concern is not about the independence of Kurdistan, but about Israel. Israel’s relations with the Kurdistan region are developing by the day… This is why Iran is on alert: The steps it is taking are against Israel,” Sukru said.” [Al-Monitor]

IRAN DEAL — “France’s foreign minister worried by Trump’s stance on Iran nuclear deal” by John Irish: “The agreement which was passed two years ago enables Iran to give up on a nuclear weapon and so avoid proliferation. We have to guarantee this stance,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to Science-Po university in Paris. “I am worried at this moment in time by the position of President Trump, who could put into question this accord. And if this accord is put into question then voices in Iran will speak up to say: ‘Let’s also have a nuclear weapon.’” [Reuters]

NYTimes editorial… A Devious Threat to a Nuclear Deal: “Ms. Haley misleads further when she argues that it would not constitute an American withdrawal from the deal if Mr. Trump didn’t certify Iranian compliance. That kind of spin will convince no one, and it won’t protect Mr. Trump for being blamed for whatever follows, including outrage from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, which are also parties to the agreement.” [NYTimes

“How Trump Can Reject the Iran Deal Without Actually Killing It” by Eli Lake: “If Iranian compliance is not certified, Trump may be able to have the best of both worlds. He could signal to his supporters that he is keeping his campaign promise by instructing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to rule against Iran. And yet he still would not have killed the nuclear deal; he would simply have punted to Congress.” [BloombergView

Today in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Iowa Governor Kimberly Kay Reynolds, who is leading a 10-day trip to Israel. The two discussed ways to advance cooperation between Israel and Iowa especially in water, technology and agriculture. The Iowa delegation will sign two inter-university agreements, with Tel Aviv University and the Volcani Center. [PicDesMoinesRegister

Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair to keynote memorial for Peres — by Raphael Ahren: “Prime Minister Netanyahu will miss a series of memorial events for former president Shimon Peres next week, as he is traveling to Latin America. Instead, President Reuven Rivlin, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and ex-UK prime minister Tony Blair are scheduled to deliver keynote speeches at events marking one year since the elder statesman’s passing… Kissinger… is scheduled to speak at an event at the Peres Center in Jaffa to be attended by “senior security officials, the Peres family and close friends, and honored guests from Israel and abroad,” according to the center.” [ToI

2018 WATCH: “Gov hopeful Biss dumps alderman as running mate over Israel remarks” by Tina Sfondeles: “Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss has dropped running mate Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa from his ticket amid backlash over comments the rookie alderman made about Israel… “Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and I have reached a difficult decision about our ticket. As of today, I’ll be moving forward with a new running mate,” Biss said in a statement. “Growing up with an Israeli mother, grandparents who survived the Holocaust, and great-grandparents who did not survive, issues related to the safety and security of the Jewish people are deeply personal to me.”” [CHSunTimes] • Read Ramirez-Rosa’s statement here [Facebook]

“In Illinois, a Democrat chooses a socialist running mate, then dumps him” by David Weigel: “In short order, endorsers began criticizing or dumping Biss, and volunteers in some parts of Illinois bolted his campaign. (“Worse than Palin IMO. At least McCain stuck with her,” said one Illinois Democratic source.) The Chicago branch of Our Revolution, Sanders’s political network, issued a statement of “disappointment and shock” with Biss’s move.” [WashPost]

HAPPENING TODAY: Former UN Ambassador John Bolton will headline a fundraiser in Chicago in support of Jeremy Wynes, who’s running for the House of Representatives in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District. Bolton announced his endorsement yesterday. Additionally, the John Bolton PAC will contribute $10,000 to the Wynes campaign.

2020 WATCH: “Pro-Israel group slams Booker in new ad” by Gabriel DeBenedetti“The conservative Committee for Israel nonprofit group is launching a television broadside against Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker on Wednesday, assailing him for voting against a measure that would scale back funding to the Palestinian Authority. “Stabbings, shootings, suicide bombings. Israelis and Americans killed by Palestinian terrorists, and we’re paying for it… Finally, Democrats and Republicans are coming together to stop it,” says the narrator of the 30-second ad, produced by the organization previously known as the Emergency Committee for Israel… “But not Cory Booker. He ran here as a friend to Israel. Just four years later he’s eyeing a run for president and throwing Israel under the bus. Call Booker. Tell him we noticed.” [Politico

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Goldman’s Blankfein on Markets: ‘Things Have Been Going Up for Too Long’ [WSJ] • Xerion CEO Daniel Arbess on U.S. Economy, Corporate Profits [Bloomberg] • Soros kid’s divorce may cost him his art collection [NYPost] • Sale of Brooklyn Housing Complex Would Benefit Trump [NYTimes] • Madoff Investors Recover 72% of Losses With New Trustee Deal [Bloomberg• Why WeWork Thinks It’s Worth $20 Billion[Wired• Emails show clash between Trump appointees and Facebook over Zuckerberg glacier visit [WashPost

“Silicon Valley’s Politics: Liberal, With One Big Exception” by Farhad Manjoo: “You would think that people with enough money to influence the political system would obviously use that influence to increase social and economic inequality in ways that benefit them,” said David Broockman, an assistant professor of political economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business… “What’s surprising to us,” he continued, “is that you could find this group that says, ‘Actually, our taxes should go up and more money should go to things like universal health care, or that we should do more to protect the environment’ — but at the same time believes that regulations and labor unions are a problem.” [NYTimes]

OPINION: “Cult of Bibi has damaged American Israel advocacy” by Ben Judah: “There is something of a Bibi cult of personality in the pro-Israel world that exists in Washington. Initiatives have confused being pro-Israel with being pro-Bibi… But above all, the Bibi cult has blinded pro-Israel advocacy towards Israel itself. Not only has this increasingly blinkered pro-Israel Washington from the Israeli strategic and diplomatic thinking beyond the Prime Minister’s office. The Bibi cult has blinded the pro-Israel community to the overwhelmingly liberal US Jewish community. It is not for nothing the next generation of Jewish billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg or Google’s Sergey Brin are not as close to Israel advocacy as their predecessors.” [TheJC]

Rebuttal from Lahav Harkov: “It’s simple: Netanyahu has been PM for 8 years. That’s why it looks like mainstream pro-Israel organizations are pro-Netanyahu.” [Twitter]

KAFE KNESSET continued — Channel 20, out? Bibi’s beloved Channel 20 may soon be shut down. The channel, to some extent, aspires to be Israel’s version of Fox News, with media personality and critic of the left-wing, Shimon Riklin, serving as the fawning Sean Hannity to Netanyahu’s Trump. The channel was never actually meant to be a news channel. It was granted a government issued broadcast license as a “Heritage” (read: Jewish) channel. Since it is in violation of its license, Cable and Satellite Authority chairwoman Yifat Ben Chai-Sagiv recommended to foreclose on the channel’s NIS 4 million deposit. According to the law, this step, which has never been taken by the regulator in the past, is the legal precursor to shuttering the channel.

This problem would have never come up if Netanyahu had followed through on his policy proposal from when he was still Communications Minister, to open up the Israeli media to the free market instead of the government regulating what channels can be opened… Likud Minister Gilad Erdan pointed out that Channels 2 and 10 violated their licenses many times and were not shut down. Communications Minister Ayoob Kara told Kafe Knesset: “Channel 20 will not be shut down. Everyone has freedom of expression – not just the Left. [The regulator] can’t just let the Left stay open and not the Right. There are problems with the conditions of the license, and they will be dealt with according to law.” [KafeKnesset]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Study finds more than half of young Jews have ‘no religion’” by Shmuel Rosner: “The PRRI survey found that among the 2.3 percent of Americans who identify as Jews, about a third are “cultural Jews.” The study found that among those under age 30, fewer than half, 47 percent, identified as religiously Jewish while 53 percent are Jews of no religion… In sharp contrast, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of Jewish seniors (age 65 or older) are religiously Jewish, while 22 percent identify as culturally Jewish… Note how among young Jews the Orthodox group has already surpassed the Conservative group and is getting close to the Reform group. Also note that close to half of all younger Jews do not belong to any denomination.” [JewishJournal]

“Why Did Israel Let Mengele Go?” by Ronen Bergman: “Documents and interviews reveal that contrary to popular belief, for most of the time that [Josef] Mengele was in hiding, the Mossad wasn’t looking for him at all — or placed finding him far down its to-do list… The Mossad began pursuing Mengele in 1960 based on tips from Simon Wiesenthal, the celebrated Nazi hunter… On July 23, 1962, the Mossad operative Zvi Aharoni (who had identified Eichmann two years earlier) was on a dirt road by the farm where Mengele was believed to be hiding when he encountered a group of men — including one who looked exactly like the fugitive. The Mossad’s South American station chief cabled the headquarters in Israel… But the head of the Mossad at the time, Isser Harel, ordered the matter dropped.” [NYTimes

“The Best Way to See Tel Aviv — Through Graffiti” by Merav Savir“For [Elinoy] Kisslove, it’s important that people see art instead of vandalism. Her aim is to “open people’s eyes beyond the stigma and to introduce them to a world they didn’t know before.” She watches how tourgoers react to the graffiti and uses it as inspiration for her own — she refuses, though, to point out which pieces are hers. Some of Tel Aviv’s graffiti artists, who also prefer to remain anonymous, have provided Kisslove with information about their pieces. A few even stop to talk to the groups when they are caught in the act.” [Ozy

MEDIA WATCH: “TMZ Veteran Who Split With Site’s Founder Emerges as a Rival” by Brooks Barnes: “The Blast is financed by Banijay Group, which is based in France and has become one of the world’s largest independent television production and distribution companies…We weren’t sitting around plotting to launch the next entertainment news site,” said David Goldberg, the chief executive of Banijay Studios North America. “But when talent becomes available, you have to be prepared to jump.” … [Harvey] Levin, 67, essentially created [Mike] Walters… In 2005, when Mr. Levin and Telepictures, now a division of Warner Bros., teamed up to create, Mr. Walters was one of the site’s first employees.” [NYTimes

DESSERT: “Aaron Franklin Made Kosher Brisket, and More A.M. Intel” by Nadia Chaudhury: “Since Franklin Barbecue is temporarily closed because of that fire, pitmaster Aaron Franklin cooked up some kosher brisket for Izzy’s BBQ Addiction, kosher pitmaster Ari White of Wandering Que, and Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. He used a new pit outside of Franklin Barbecue.” [AustinEater

BIRTHDAYS: Palm Beach, Florida resident, formerly of Pound Ridge, Purchase and Rye, New York, the school at the Westchester (NY) Jewish Center bears her name, Beverly Cannold turns 92… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, he was a managing director of Marks and Spencer and is now active in many Jewish and other charities, Baron Andrew Zelig Stone turns 75… Political columnist for Time Magazine and author of the novel “Primary Colors,” Joe Klein turns 71… Color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts, Suzyn Waldman turns 71… Billionaire owner and CEO of Gristedes Foods, the largest grocery chain in Manhattan, John Catsimatidis turns 69… Pulitzer Prize winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, now Director of Literary Journalism at UC-Irvine, Barry Siegel turns 68… Minneapolis area school counselor and language arts teacher, Sandra Sevig turns 68… Russian-born Chairman of the Mathematics Department at UCSD, formerly professor at both Yale and University of Chicago, Efim Zelmanov turns 62…

Global co-chair of the Israel practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins where he is primarily a healthcare and life sciences partner, Stuart Kurlander turns 55… Bahraini Ambassador to the US (2008-2013) after four years in the Bahraini Parliament (2005-2008), both firsts for a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo turns 53… Associate professor at George Washington University, author, lecturer, and community scholar of Manhattan’s Jewish Center, Dr. Erica Brown turns 51… Award winning writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of three best-selling books (book topics are John Paulson, fracking and, most recently, athletes overcoming challenges), Gregory Zuckerman turns 51… Screenwriter, producer and director of many succesful films and TV shows, Alex Kurtzman turns 44… Author of two New York Times best sellers and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon turns 44… 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

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