Apr
25

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Daily Kickoff: Israel’s Defense Minister arrives in DC | Supreme Court conservatives rule against Israeli victims | The Rabbi who changed Obamacare

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PROFILE — “Meet the other mayor of Lakewood: How one man’s vision reshaped a school and community” by Stacey Barchenger in the Asbury Park Press: “Four dire words had Rabbi Aaron Kotlerscrambling up Capitol Hill in 2010. The phrase, “who is not married,” was tucked on page 14 of the 906-page tome of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The words were a tiny parenthetical overlooked by many during the chaotic moment as Congress was passing health care reform. The statement, though, had a profound meaning to Kotler, the president of Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha, the largest Orthodox Jewish yeshiva, or college, outside of Israel.”

“Kotler went to Washington with goals to get meetings and get those four words deleted. “Try to buttonhole, same thing just as everyone else on Capitol Hill is doing,” he recalled recently of his mad-dash to Congress. “The beauty of the legislative system is that people can do that.” … Students at Beth Medrash Govoha often marry in their mid-20s. Obamacare extended the time those students could stay on their parents’ health insurance to age 26, but that four-word provision drawing Kotler’s concern threatened to cancel the insurance for couples who married young. So Kotler went to Washington, and when then-President Barack Obama signed the historic bill, those four words were gone.”

“Howard E. Friedman exemplifies the connections that Kotler brought to Beth Medrash Govoha — and how Kotler gets them there. Friedman is a former head of AIPAC and a political donor who hosted President Obama for a $32,000-a-plate dinner at his home in Baltimore… [Friedman connected Kotler with Obamacare’s architect, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana] … As kids, Kotler and Friedman attended the same summer camp in New York state… The Baltimore resident said Kotler has been successful because of what Friedman saw on a ski slope in Utah more than a decade ago — a charisma and an inability to say something was impossible. “When he was learning how to ski he just wouldn’t give up,” Friedman said… “He pushes and pushes and pushes,” Friedman said, “until he gets something done.” [APP]

FROM APP’S FEATURE ON BMG: “The college opened in 1943 with 13 students in a Tudor mansion at the center of what was then a town known for chicken farming. Poultry once outnumbered people here. Now, 75 years later, the institution of about 6,700 students costs $50 million a year to run and has transformed the township into an economic powerhouse… Charles and Seryl Kushner, parents to President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, are benefactors whose surname is emblazoned on the school’s rotunda. Board members include billionaire investors, investment bankers and a media company director.” [APP]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — “Murdoch, Kravis, Schwarzman Among Trump Guests at Macron Dinner” by Jennifer Epstein and Jennifer Jacobs: “Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, leveraged buy-out billionaire Henry Kravis and Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman were among the guests Tuesday at the first state dinner of Donald Trump’s presidency… Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Fluence Corp chairman Ron Lauder… also were among the corporate titans attending the White House celebration…  Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger walked past reporters using a cane and was followed by a man with a wheelchair.” [Bloomberg] • Full list of attendees [CNN

“A National Security Aide’s Departing Wish: Cooking for the State Dinner” by Mark Landler: “Michael Anton, a classically trained chef who favors French cuisine, resigned on April 8 in a phone call with President Trump, the night before General McMaster’s successor, John R. Bolton, started work. As he packed up his office the next day, he made a special request of the current chief of staff, John F. Kelly: that he be allowed to come back for a day to work as a line cook in the White House kitchen, helping to prepare Mr. Trump’s state dinner for President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte. At first bewildered by the request, Mr. Kelly readily gave his blessing.” [NYTimes]

IRAN DEAL — “Trump, Macron call for ‘new’ nuclear deal with Iran” by Andrew Beatty: “[Trump] described the deal as “insane” and “ridiculous,” despite European pleas for him not to walk away. Instead, Trump eyed a broader “deal” that would also limit Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for militant groups across the Middle East. “I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger, maybe, deal,” said Trump, stressing that any new accord would have to be built on “solid foundations.”

“Macron admitted after meeting Trump that he did not know whether the US president would walk away from the nuclear deal… “I can say that we have had very frank discussions on that, just the two of us,” Macron told a joint press conference… Putting on a brave face, he said he wished “for now to work on a new deal with Iran” of which the nuclear accord could be one part… Trump — true to his background in reality TV — teased his looming decision… “We’re going to see what happens on the 12th.”” [AFPWashPost]

Sen. Ted Cruz tweets“These proposed European ‘fixes’ don’t address the missiles Iran would actually build, the inspection problems that would actually arise, or the eventual sunsets as they would actually occur. They would only constrain the Iranians from doing things they never would have done.”

Eli Lake writes… “Trump, Macron and Merkel Have an Opportunity in Iran’s Crisis: Any deal to fix it might save the regime at a moment the world should let it fall. A step in the other direction, like re-imposing sanctions, could give the regime a pretext to spark a nuclear crisis and distract the Iranian people from the regime’s misrule…Trump, Macron and Merkel have an opportunity… [to] use negotiations over the nuclear deal to maintain the uncertainty that discourages foreign investment in Iran. Every week of inaction… buys more time for the next Iranian revolution.”[BloombergView

“The Iran Regime-Change Crew Is Back” by Vali Nasr: “These days, those regime-change evangelists having shrugged off the lessons of the Iraq war, are back at the helm of U.S. foreign policy. John Bolton, Donald Trump’s new national-security adviser, has long advocated regime change in Iran, and more recently has argued that the administration should openly embrace it as a foreign-policy goal.” [TheAtlantic]

HEARD THIS AM: Top policy planning official at State Dept. Brian Hooktells NPR’s Steve Inskeep that the Iran Deal is not binding in any way and simply a political agreement made by a previous administration. “This JCPOA is not a treaty. It’s not an executive agreement, it has no signatures, it has no legal status. It is a political commitment by an administration that’s no longer in office.” [Twitter] • Full interview with Hook [NPR]

“As Donald Trump Eyes Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korea Is Watching” by Christopher Dickey: “North Korea, which has close and controversial ties to Iran, will be watching closely, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif notes that any leader, including Kim Jong Un, would see little value in agreements with Washington that would last only as long as the term of the president who signed them. So, while Trump may have high hopes for his upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the “Little Rocket Man” he decided to describe on Tuesday as “very honorable,” Zarif is blunt: “People will not be prepared to give if the take is only temporary.”” [DailyBeast]

HEARD THIS MORNING — NYTimes columnist Bret Stephens on Morning Joe: “Listening to the President reminded me his ‘fire and fury’ remarks that he directed at Kim Jong Un just a few months ago, and now, of course, he’s entertaining negotiations with the North Koreans. So with this President, you never know. I argued strenuously against the Iran deal back in 2015. I think it has critical flaws… The real question is whether he can renegotiate the agreement… My question about this administration is whether it has the intellectual capacity and the seriousness to see through a renegotiation of a very flawed deal. Under a different Republican administration, I’d feel more confident about the idea of withdrawing from it completely.”

HAPPENING AT 10:30AM: Macron will address a joint meeting of Congress. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has invited Fran Greenberg, a Holocaust survivor and Paris native, as his guest for the speech. “She is a tribute to the triumph of the human spirit and a reminder of why we must remain vigilant against hatred across the globe,” Brown said in a statement. [CSPAN

DRIVING THE DAY: “For their part, Israeli officials moved to shape Mr. Trump’s thinking as well. Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli Defense Minister, said he planned to leave for the United States on Tuesday night so that he could meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and John R. Bolton, the president’s new national security adviser and a longtime opponent of the Iran nuclear agreement. The meetings, he said on Twitter, were to discuss “Iran’s expansion in the Middle East and Syria.”” [NYTimes]

 Liberman arrived this morning at Newark Liberty International Airport where he then boarded Amtrak to DC. The Defense Minister was welcomed by Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, Chaplain of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department [Pic]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Russian SC chief meets Israeli, Iranian counterparts” by Itamar Eichner, Alexandra Lukash and Nir Cohen: “Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev met separately on Tuesday with his Israeli and Iranian counterparts—Eytan Ben-David and Ali Shamkhani… The meetings were held in the Russian resort town of Sochi, and Patrushev discussed “Middle East developments” with the two officials.” [Ynet• Russia says it will soon deliver new air defense systems to Syria [ToI]

Dennis Ross writes… “Russia Risks a Wider Mideast War: So long as the Israelis said nothing publicly, neither the Iranians nor Hezbollah had to retaliate to avoid losing face. But with the Iranians losing at least seven Qods Force officers in the Israeli attack, and the Russians declaring Israeli responsibility, the Iranians have been exposed… Putin wanted it known this was not an American strike. He is allergic to anything that suggests American power might be shaping events in Syria. Russia is the arbiter… The president’s stated determination to get out of Syria and “let others take care of it” no doubt also emboldens both Russia and Iran—and tells the Israelis they are on their own.” [WSJ]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt at the American Jewish Committee’s Women’s Leadership Board Spring Luncheon in New York: “I’ve seen the wonder in the eyes of Syrian parents when they realize Israelis don’t want to kill them, but to help them. If one can find hope in something as terrible as the war in Syria, imagine what can happen with a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Greenblatt, who was introduced by former Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell via video, also discussed the peace process, according to excerpts released by AJC: “Past failures do not absolve us of the responsibility to try. I ultimately believe there may be a clear path toward peace… True, lasting peace will be only as strong as the moral values that underlie it.” [Pic]

“Israel scraps contested plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants” by Ruth Eglash: “The government’s announcement Tuesday that it was abandoning the effort to send the migrants to unidentified African countries — widely reported to be Rwanda and Uganda — was welcomed as a positive step by advocates for about 36,000 migrants in Israel. But the move is also likely to bring even more uncertainty to those who have no official status here.” [WashPost]

Tom Friedman writes… “Israel’s Got Its Own Refugee Dilemma: African ‘Dreamers’: [Taj] Haroun said he and his friends are trying to explain to Israel’s government and business community what an asset they could be: “Israel has a lot of companies working all over Africa. We could be their ambassadors and representatives.” Why not? They speak Hebrew, know Israel and know Africa. “We are normal people,” he added, “with dreams like everybody else’s dreams — to have your family safe and be able to contribute to your society.”” [NYTimes]

“Israel and South America: Strange Bedfellows or Great New Besties?” by Nick Fouriezos: “Many other Latin American countries are cozying up to Israel, and the reasons go beyond Trump and America. It starts with religious ties. “There are a lot of Christians and evangelicals in South and Central America,” [Eli] Hazan says, and they feel tied to the Jewish cause, which in turn ties their leaders. Also, about a “third to a quarter” of Israeli backpackers visit South America after their mandatory military service, a relationship built over decades of visiting Jewish relatives in those countries as part of their post-military “rite of passage,” as Chaim Noy, a tourism studies professor at Ashkelon Academic College in Israel, puts it.” [Ozy]

REPORT — “Mike Pompeo to head U.S. delegation to embassy ceremony” by Gil Hoffman: “Mike Pompeo… is slated to lead the delegation of some 250 American officials and Jewish leaders at a ceremony inaugurating the United States Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday. It was previously reported that United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would head the delegation.” [JPost]

TALK OF THE NATION — “Supreme Court: Foreign corporations can’t be sued under U.S. law for human rights abuses” by Richard Wolf: “The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that an Arab bank cannot be held liable for a decade of terrorist attacks against Israel under an obscure 1789 law… Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by the court’s four other conservative justices, said only Congress can make such a decision. The ruling was 5-4… Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented and was joined by the court’s three other liberal justices… The decision was a blow to some 6,000 foreign victims, including survivors and relatives, of suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel and the Palestinian Territories from 1996 to 2005.”[USAToday]

STATE-SIDE — Missouri House OKs boycott on companies boycotting Israel: “The Missouri House is advancing a proposal to ban public contractors from protesting Israel. House lawmakers gave the bill initial approval in a voice vote Tuesday.” [Fox2Now]

ON THE HILL — House unanimously passes bill to help Holocaust survivors obtain restitution, seized assets: “The measure approved Tuesday requires the State Department to report on the progress of certain European countries toward the return of or restitution for wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets, including property, art and other movable property… The Senate unanimously approved its version of the bill in December… The bill now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.” [JTA]

Lawmakers near deal on Kushner-backed prison reform plan” by Heather Caygle: “Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee are nearing agreement on a bipartisan prison reform bill that could be approved by the panel as soon as Wednesday and reach the floor in early May… Getting the legislation signed into law would be a coup for Kushner, who has struggled to land a policy win despite a sprawling portfolio that at times has included everything from negotiating peace in the Middle East to trying to combat the opioid epidemic.” [Politico

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Michael Cohen, Amid Bewildering Stormy Chaos, is Still Holding Out Hope for Survival” by Emily Jane Fox: “[Cohen] sometimes sits with an espresso at his usual table in Sant Ambroeus, with his phone buzzing and beeping. Sometimes they’re messages of support from old friends, telling him they’re behind him and that he is going to be some sort of phoenix rising from the ashes-that there will be book deals, movie deals, all sorts of offers down the road. More often, however, it’s reporters seeking comments he can’t give. For someone who relishes defending himself, staying quiet is not easy, the people familiar with Cohen’s thinking said.”

“Not being in communication with Trump also weighs on Cohen. The president did call him several days after the F.B.I. raid, and publicly said that what happened to Cohen was a ‘disgraceful situation.’ But their relationship had shifted since Trump took office. Cohen, who sees the Trumps as family, has only visited the White House a handful of times, including the White House Hanukkah party in December.” [VanityFair

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork documents reveal it owes $18 billion in rent and is burning through cash as it seeks more funding [BusinessInsider] • Kushners’ Loan for Troubled N.J. Site Backed by Web Lender[Bloomberg• Aby Rosen’s RFR lands $74M loan for Gowanus acquisition[TheRealDeal] • Joe Lonsdale’s 8VC has closed its second early-stage fund with an eye on logistics and biotech [TechCrunch] • NYC Developer Michael Stern Gets Loan for Condo Project in Glutted Miami Area[Bloomberg• Mobile credit card startup called Extend will announce it has a $3 million investment led by Steve Cohen’s Point72 Ventures [CNBC• Kanye West fires manager Scooter Braun [PageSix

“What about Bob? Behind the Leadership Drama Holding Up a Viacom-CBS Deal” by Keach Hagey and Joe Flint: “Over cookies and snacks in late March, [Bob] Bakish and Viacom Chief Financial Officer Wade Davis pitched CBS board members on their vision for wringing $1 billion in synergies out of the merger. The CBS directors later told their Viacom counterparts that they were impressed by Mr. Bakish’s presentation… So Viacom’s camp and [Shari] Redstone were shocked when CBS made an initial offer on April 3 that carved out no role for Mr. Bakish… Viacom immediately countered with a proposal that would name Mr. Bakish as [Leslie] Moonves’s No. 2 and give him broad responsibilities.” [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION — “Former BP CEO joins Israeli co Windward’s board” by Nati Yefet: “Lord John Browne, 70, formerly the dominant CEO of British Petroleum (BP), is joining the board of directors of Israeli company Windward, founded in 2010 by CEO Amit Daniel and VP product Matan Peled. The big-data company, based on Hashlosha Street in Tel Aviv, analyzes maritime risks through reliable mapping and analysis of all the information about maritime traffic on the oceans and seas.” [Globes]

ACROSS THE POND — “Jewish Leaders Say Their Meeting With Jeremy Corbyn About Anti-Semitism Was A “Disappointing Missed Opportunity”” by Hannah Al-Othman: “Following weeks of criticism of Labour’s handling of antisemitism allegations, [Jeremy] Corbyn met the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies at Westminster on Tuesday evening in a bid to repair relations. While Corbyn described the meeting as positive and constructive, the groups released a joint statement that made clear their dismay at the party leader’s response. It was followed by an even stronger statement from Labour Against Anti-Semitism… to describe what it saw as the “arrogance and complacency” of Corbyn and his team as “astonishing.” [BuzzFeed

HOLLYWOOD — “Hank Azaria Says He’d Be Willing to “Step Aside” From ‘Simpsons’ Apu Role Following Controversy” by Patrick Shanley: “Hank Azaria dropped by the Late Show on Tuesday night to promote the new season of his IFC comedy Brockmire, and also address the recent controversy surrounding one of the characters he voices on The Simpsons, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The character, an Indian immigrant who runs Springfield’s local convenient store, was the subject of the recent documentary, The Problem With Apu, which criticized Azaria’s voice portrayal as portraying a stereotype. When asked about the controversy surrounding his character, Azaria said… “The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad,” the actor went on. “It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people.””[HollywoodReporter]

“Natalie Portman Is No Prize” by Vivian Bercovici, former Canadian Ambassador to Israel: “Local gossip among the chattering classes in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem has it that the Israel Genesis Prize is a response of Russian-Israeli oligarchs who resented feeling sidelined in the fishbowl of Jewish power, which tends to be dominated by Americans. So, they pooled their considerable resources to create what some refer to as the “Jewish Nobel Prize.” … Rather than pandering to bankable stars who draw glitter and gold, perhaps they will refocus on the many exceptionally deserving individuals beavering away in obscurity and bereft of the obnoxious hubris with which Natalie Portman is afflicted.” [CommentaryMag]

SPORTS BLINK — Robert Kraft celebrates Meek Mill’s release from prison” by Tanya Ray Fox: “Two weeks after Robert Kraft told media that Meek Mill “shouldn’t be here” after a visit with the rapper in prison alongside Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin, the New England Patriots owner – and Meek Mill’s millions of supporters – got their wish. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s high court ordered the immediate release of Meek Mill… The Patriots Twitter account posted photos of Kraft and Meek Mill together on Tuesday.” [PatriotsWireDailyNews] • Meek Mill thanks 76ers Owner Michael Rubin [BleacherReport]

“Josh Rosen Details Anti-Semitic Slurs Used Against Him by Opponents During Games” by Rob Golberg: “NFL draft prospect Josh Rosen recently said he has heard a lot of anti-Semitic slurs used against him by opponents so far in his career. “I get a lot of Jewish things,” the former UCLA quarterback said about trash talk, per Michael Silver of NFL.com. “My nose, particularly. I get, like, ‘Stay the f**k down, you Jewish bastard … I’m gonna break your f***g nose, you Jew.'” Rosen, who is usually not afraid to speak his mind, said the taunts don’t bother him.” [BleacherReportNFL]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Pete Souza, the former White House photographer for President Obama, discussed one of the photos he’s most proud of with The Atlantic’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg: “Another one is this from Israel. They were overlooking the city, I believe. It’s taken from behind. There were a whole group of people, including Prime Netanyahu and [Shimon] Peres.. And at one point, the president just sort of raised his hands to say the something and the light just happened to magically fall in his hands, and I saw it happen. It happened so quick. Aesthetically, I love that picture.” [TheAtlantic] • See the pic [Instagram]

DESSERT — “A Kosher Barbecue Joint and Deli Will Soon Open Under One Roof” by Alaena Hostetter: “Just imagine a typical New York Jewish deli where you go in and buy prepared foods and sandwiches. You can sit down or take it to go,” Howard Goldfeder, owner of Kosher Palate [in Dallas, Texas], told CultureMap. “We’ll experiment with other things. We want it to be kosher but we want to have a good time.” [EaterDallas]

“Farm-to-table pastrami and much more at new deli in Providence’s Wayland Square” by Gail Ciampa: “With his business partner, Nick Mazonowicz, [Ben] Lloyd visited eight New York City delis in one day to gather information that would help them design the perfect deli… To try so many places in one day, Lloyd and Mazonowicz resolved that they would only take two bites of each sandwich at each deli. They were on foot and not taking any to-go bags. One server asked why they were leaving so much food on their plates. Far more dramatic was the woman who chased them from a deli into a subway station demanding that they tell her what they knew about the food that caused them to not eat it.” [ProvidenceJournal]

“An Old-School Deli from a Fermentation Expert Opens in Cleveland” by Douglas Trattner: “Chef Jeremy Umansky counts visiting his local Jewish deli on Cleveland’s east side among his most powerful childhood food memories. And stepping into Larder Delicatessen and Bakery, which opens in Cleveland this week, isn’t unlike the experience Umansky would have had on his after-school trips to grab a black-and-white cookie, a few flaky rugelach, and a chocolate phosphate.” [Eater]

BIRTHDAYS: Commissioner of the National Basketball Association since 2014, Adam Silver turns 56… American-British academic, social worker and health spokesman of the Green Party of the UK, he is the older brother of US Senator Bernie Sanders, Larry Sanders turns 83… Chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors, a NYC-based investment advisory firm, Leon G. “Lee” Cooperman turns 75… Rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University since 1973, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Riverdale Synagogue since 1974, Rabbi Mordechai Willig turns 71… Former French Finance Minister and later Managing Director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn turns 69… David Handleman turns 69… Los Angeles-based partner in the energy practice group of the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Beth A. Fox turns 58… Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, focused on the international politics of the Middle East, Michael Scott Doran turns 56… Litigator at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, he served as US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2014-2017) and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun (1992-1993), Andrew H. Schapiroturns 55…

Actor, voice actor, comedian and producer, voices many roles on the “The Simpsons,” descended from a Sephardic family rooted in Thessaloniki, Hank Azaria turns 54… Beersheba-born director, writer, comedian and infomercial pitchman, better known as Vince Offer, Vince Shlomi, or “The ShamWow Guy,” Offer Shlomi turns 54… Editor of Shalom New Haven, the publication of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, Jeannette Brodeur turns 51… Democratic member of the Utah House of Representatives since 2000, currently serving as the Minority Leader, David E. Litvack turns 46… Moscow-born Democratic party strategist and television personality on the Fox News Channel, Julie Roginsky turns 45… Johannesburg-born political commentator, author and senior-editor-at-large for Breitbart News, Joel Barry Pollak turns 41… Attorney turned grocer, she is the founder of Glen’s Garden Market, carved out of the old “Secret” Safeway north of Dupont Circle, Danielle Brody Rosengarten Vogel turns 39… Director in the NYC office of Burson-Marsteller, Kenneth R. Gold turns 32 (h/ts Playbook)… Deputy press secretary for NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, Jaclyn Rothenberg turns 30… Film and television actress, model and singer, Sara Paxton turns 30… Senior political reporter in Manhattan for the news and media website Mic, Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, turns 29… Attorney, partner in the NYC-based law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP, Sandy A. Liebhard… Mike Sponder

Apr
24

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Daily Kickoff: Did Natalie Portman intend to take a public stand on Israel? | Alex Soros interview | Jake Tapper on new novel | Putin’s matzah diet

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INTERVIEW — Alex Soros, son of George Soros and the Founding Chair of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, gave a lengthy interview to veteran Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea for Yedioth Ahronoth (published in Hebrew) while attending a conference in Berlin last week.

HIGHLIGHTS — Soros on Trump: “You know that Donald Trump is the son of a rich father, who grew up rich from childhood. I also grew up in wealth. My father used to warn me — jokingly — as a child: ‘Never be like Trump.’ Trump once offered my father to rent an office in one of the buildings named after him. He thought my father’s name would attract more tenants. ‘You set the price,’ he said but my father refused. Like everyone else in New York, my father knew that Trump was a chronic bankrupter. He did not take Trump seriously.”

“When Trump was elected, I was not surprised, I was sad. Since Trump’s election, I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘The world is in danger. I have to do everything I can to stop it.'”

On Netanyahu: “Despite [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban’s anti-Semitic campaign, Netanyahu invited him and his colleagues from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to hold one of their next meetings in Israel. That disappointed me. I was disappointed that the Israeli prime minister is cynical, does not help the Jews and stand behind them. This is not Israel – it’s Netanyahu. The connection between him and extreme right-wing, anti-Semitic, and corrupt individuals is contrary to Israel’s commitment as a Jewish state.”

Barnea: What does George Soros think of Israel?

Soros: “He thinks that Israel has the right to exist… If it did not matter to him, he wouldn’t have advised me, at the time (after his Bar mitzvah ceremony), to emigrate to Israel. My father would like to see Israel in the image of Yitzhak Rabin. His opinions are more or less the views of Meretz and Labor, and we support a two-state solution.”

On becoming more involved in Israel: “I may increase our activity in Israel. If Sheldon Adelson can invest in Israeli politics, I can, too. I am young. I am open to changing policy.” [Yediot]

REPORT — Natalie Portman told Genesis Prize she was canceling over Gaza, not Netanyahu: “The Hadashot News TV report quotes emails by Portman’s representatives expressing concerns over recent violence in Gaza, saying it would therefore be inappropriate for the Israel-born actress to attend the “Jewish Nobel” award ceremony. The Genesis Prize Foundation responded by telling her… [that] canceling the ceremony would serve Hamas and be a “slap in the face” to the Jewish people… Portman later wrote that she did not want her attendance to be seen as an endorsement of Netanyahu.” [ToI]

According to a source, “Genesis went out of its way to accommodate Portman’s concerns about Netanyahu by agreeing she didn’t have to sit next to him, didn’t have to have him present her with the award and was free to say anything from the lectern she wanted, including whatever critical comments she wanted to level at the current government. However in the end she insisted Netanyahu not be invited to the event, a demand Genesis couldn’t accept both for contractual and moral reasons. A bridge too far.”

We’ve also heard from multiple sources that Portman’s rep asked Genesis to cite a scheduling conflict as the reason the actress could no longer attend the ceremony which raises the question whether Portman ever intended to take a public stand in the first place.

“How Natalie Portman became the latest Israel-Palestine flashpoint” by Zack Beauchamp: “Very few Jews, Israeli or diaspora, support a wholesale boycott of Israel. But views on Netanyahu’s government, specifically, are far more mixed. The fact that Portman is framing her criticism as coming from a place of affection for the Jewish state, not hostility, makes it more likely that other Jews — especially Americans — will take it seriously. “This is an important symbolic moment,” says Jeremy Pressman, a scholar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the University of Connecticut. “She cannot just be written off as a BDS supporter.” [Vox

OUT TODAY — “The Hellfire Club” — a new novel from CNN anchor Jake Tapper. Tapper tells Jewish Insider via email this morning, “The Hellfire Club is about a young congressman and his wife thrust into a conspiracy in 1954 Washington, DC. Charlie Marder is a World War II veteran and academic trying to figure out just how much to compromise to succeed in the fabled DC swamp. There are a couple Jewish characters of note: Roy Cohn, the top aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy, and Charlie’s intern Sheryl Ann Bernstein. It’s not overtly a religious thriller in any way, but readers will recognize themes familiar in Jewish literature and art including bigotry and fighting for justice.” [LittleBrownAmazon]

Ben Smith’s review: “Jake Tapper And The Virtue Of Taking Yourself Seriously… The novel is Tapper’s fourth book but his first work of fiction, and while The Hellfire Club might not get glowing blurbs from James Patterson and Shonda Rhimes if it carried a different byline, its quality is a tribute to taking yourself seriously in all things.” [BuzzFeed]

“Is it anti-Semitic for President Trump to call Chuck Todd ‘sleepy eyes’?” by Julie Zauzmer: “Trump has been referring to Todd’s eyes on Twitter since 2012 — most recently, he used the phrase Sunday when reacting to Todd’s televised comments on North Korea — but he has never explained just what he means about Todd’s eyes. This week, some Twitter users posited a troubling explanation: “Sleepy eyes” might be an anti-Semitic slur that Trump uses to target Todd, who is Jewish… According to the German Propaganda Archive at Calvin College, Nazi politician Julius Streicher (the publisher of the notoriously anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer) wrote a children’s book listing a litany of supposedly Jewish traits, including the drooping eyes stereotype… For his own part, Todd told The Post he didn’t think of the odd nickname as anti-Semitic. “I’ve never taken it that way. If it is a slur, I’ve never heard of it,” Todd said.” [WashPost

TRUMP’S MECHUTAN… “Charles Kushner: ‘I pushed Jared to do the deal’ for 666 Fifth Ave.” by Cristina Alesci: “I pushed Jared to do the deal,” explained Charles, who said Jared expressed reservations about buying the [666 Fifth Avenue] office tower. In a wide-ranging interview with CNN at his company’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan, the elder Kushner didn’t mince words, calling the decision “bad timing and bad judgment.”

“On the transition to the White House, Charles, who said he speaks to Jared every day, declined to say whether he advised Jared to take the job. “Jared thought he could make a positive impact. In the end, I gave him my blessing.” Kushner Companies has made several adjustments since then. “The question in our company today is not ‘what’s the best deal?'” said Charles Kushner recently in his office, which he has adorned with wall-to-wall pictures of his family. Among the photos of his parents, children and grandchildren is one of his daughter-in-law, Ivanka Trump, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “We shy away from anything that could have a negative impact on Jared,” the elder Kushner said.”

“Charles says his other son, Josh — a Democrat who runs a venture capital firm in New York City — is feeling the blowback from peers who oppose the administration… Charles knew the White House job would be hard on his son [Jared] but underestimated the strength of what he called the “opposition” to the administration.” [CNN] • Rezoning likely inspired Kushner Companies’ Park Avenue bid [NYPost]

DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump and French President Emanuel Macron are meeting this morning at the White House. Macron is expected to press Trump to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. “I suspect that this will be a very difficult conversation,” Wendy R. Sherman, former chief U.S. negotiator for the Iran deal, predicts. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters… that Trump is “the best negotiator at the table,” and is well equipped for the discussions. The two leaders will hold a press conference at 11:45 AM in the East Room. [CSPAN]

“U.K. Urges G-7 to Make Case to Keep Iran Deal as U.S. Wavers” by Josh Wingrove: “U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking to reporters Monday at a G-7 summit in Toronto, said… he doesn’t want the U.S. to quit the deal but noted talks are underway for how to save it if that happens. “Clearly a lot of thought is going into how to keep a non-U.S. version,” he said. “Believe me, that is not our preferred option.” … Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan [said]… Trump wants to strengthen the Iran deal “if it can be strengthened,” he said.” [Bloomberg]

Richard Goldberg writes… “Trump shouldn’t give in to Macron’s Iran deal request: Macron arrived in Washington Monday with a seemingly innocuous request for President Trump: Let Europe keep doing business with Iran. But unless Trump wants to make a bad nuclear deal even worse, he should flatly reject Macron’s request.” [NYPost]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Netanyahu turns up volume as Iran deadline nears: “Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told an audience of diplomats in a speech in Jerusalem. “This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed,” he said. [YahooNewsVideo

“Russia says no decision yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria” by Maria Kiselyova and Dan Williams:“Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia had not yet decided whether it would deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria, but would not make a secret of the matter if it took such a decision… A Russian diplomat… said Israel had asked Moscow not to supply the Syrian military with the S-300s.” [Reuters

“Commander of US troops in Syria makes unannounced first visit to Israel” by Judah Ari Gross: “The head of the US military’s Central Command, which is responsible for American activities in the Middle East, arrived in Israel on Monday to meet with senior Israeli officials for talks expected to focus on Syria and tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran… Despite this being the first trip to Israel by Gen. Joseph Votel, the current head of the Central Command, or CENTCOM, the visit has been without fanfare or publicity.” [ToI]

“Behind bloody Gaza clashes, economic misery and piles of debt” by Loveday Morris and Hazem Balousha: “Across the 140-square-mile territory, Gazans are struggling to finance their daily lives. Young people — unable to pay for weddings or homes of their own — are delaying marriage, figures show, while health officials say suicide, once virtually unheard of in Gaza, is on the rise. Universities say students are dropping out because they cannot afford the fees. At the Islamic University in Gaza City, a third of the students did not re-enroll this semester… Beleaguered Gazans do not blame only Israel; pressure is building against Palestinian leaders, too. “It’s because of Hamas,” Ahmed Hamouda, a 25-year-old worker on Gaza’s seafront, said without missing a beat.” [WashPost]  

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) National Conference in New York City: “I hear frequently ideas of doing a reverse Birthright, but it’s not possible. It doesn’t make sense to bring masses of young Israelis to see the Jewish community in America. I never heard of an Israeli that said, ‘Where should I go on my next vacation – in Madrid, or go to see the Jewish American community?’ That’s not a realistic option. So I think the mission to educate Israelis about the American Jewish community is on your shoulders. I don’t see any other way than the American Jewish community taking the responsibility of educating Israelis on who they are, what their aspirations are, and what are the issues that concern them.”

Speaking of which… “Birthright, Only for Israelis” by Liel Leibovitz: “Entitled “An Israeli Hope,” the project will dispatch twenty teams of educators representing every sector of Israeli society on a three-day bus ride across Israel, during which they’ll meet secular and Orthodox Jews, Israeli Arabs and Druze, veteran Israelis and newly arrived immigrants, and just about any other group that makes up the rich and diverse mosaic of Israeli life.”[TabletMag]  

“US envoy says Jerusalem under Israel is ‘model for coexistence in the world’” by Raphael Ahren: “At a panel discussion… U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said intelligence cooperation between the two countries has saved American lives… “The United States benefits tangibly now from this relationship with Israel. There are things I cannot say in this forum, but there are people in the United States today who are safe, who are alive, because of intelligence cooperation that Israel has provided to the United States,” he said.”

“Friedman, who recalled that he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall shortly after the 1967 Six Day War, said that his primary concern when thinking about the future of US-Israel relations was that “people in my country, especially kids, especially Jewish kids, find a way to reconnect more to Israel. Because I do fear that we’re at risk for not having the same kinds of connection, that me and wife had, that our kids have. And it’s a shame.” [ToI]

“In Donald Trump, Israelis hear echoes of an ancient emperor” by Ben Manson: “While Israelis debate whether it’s in Israel’s long-term interests to side with Trump’s pro-Israel evangelical supporters, some Israelis, along with their evangelical allies in America, discern a deeper mystical meaning in current affairs. A small but growing movement on the fringes of Orthodox Judaism in Israel… speculate that Trump’s Jerusalem declaration is a divine sign that indicates that Trump, like Cyrus, will permit the Jews to rebuild the temple.” [YahooNews]

2018 WATCH — “Stephen Colbert jokes about Mayor Emanuel’s re-election chances at Northwestern gala” by Tracy Swartz: “Colbert praised Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and said “it’s like he’s the mayor.” “Is Rahm Emanuel here tonight? He’s not?” Colbert asked the audience at Ryan Fieldhouse in Evanston. “Good, because Morty has a better chance at re-election. Don’t tell Rahm.” [ChicagoTribune

“Emanuel cautions fellow Democrats to drop impeachment talk” by Fran Spielman: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he “couldn’t be angrier” at President Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for his fellow Democrats to talk about impeachment… Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen asked Emanuel whether impeachment was a “good issue” for the mayor’s fellow Democrats to use against Trump. “This is a serious legal and consequential, non-political issue. And my view is, there’s nothing there today that we know” that rises to that standard, Emanuel said.” [ChicagoSunTimesAxios

“This Young Politico Is Helping Her Generation Run for Office” by Daniel Malloy: “After working on Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, Amanda Litman was pulled by the post-2016 crash from fighting for the White House to politicking at its most basic level. The co-founder of Run for Something, Litman is giving liberal millennials the tools to run for local and state office in an effort to build a stronger bench for a party hollowed out by losses during the Obama years. But Litman can sometimes be too democratic for the Democrats — pushing candidates who are challenging party-backed incumbents, or running nearly hopeless races.” [Ozy]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jacob Frenkel Says He’s Not a Candidate for Bank of Israel Job [Bloomberg] • Behind Bill Ackman’s epic battle with Herbalife, Icahn [CNBC• Carl Icahn averts a looming board battle at Newell Brands [NYPost• Glencore’s Prize Cobalt Miner Is Bogged Down Deeper in Congo [Bloomberg• Chetrit lands $83M loan to refi DoBro hotel, rental property [TheRealDeal• David Einhorn thinks Puerto Rican debt will cause insurer to sink [NYPost

STARTUP NATION: “Largest group of international venture capitalists ever in Israel for tech program” by Max Schindler: “280 venture capitalists – in what’s being dubbed as the largest contingent of tech investors ever – are visiting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week as part of the Kauffman Fellows Program, a US-based NGO that runs programming for such investors worldwide…” [JPost]

Indiana governor planning trips to Israel, Europe in May: “The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Gov. Eric Holcomb will lead an “agbiosciences-focused” delegation to Israel during a May 6-11 trip. The delegation’s activities will include attending the Agritech Israel Conference in Tel Aviv. “ [LATimes]

COMING SOON — Israel’s Docaviv Festival to Focus on Women, Refugees for Landmark 20th Edition” by Debra Kamin: “Docaviv, Israel’s only festival devoted exclusively to documentary filmmaking, will celebrate its 20th birthday in May with a jam-packed screening schedule focusing on women’s empowerment, refugees and the ever-complicated politics of globalization. In the lineup are films about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and fashion designer Alexander McQueen.” [Variety]

NYTIMES CORRECTIONS DEPT: “An earlier version of this articleerroneously included a reference to Palestinian actions as an example of the sort of far-right conspiracy stories that have plagued Facebook. In fact, Palestinian officials have acknowledged providing payments to the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis or convicted of terrorist acts and imprisoned in Israel; that is not a conspiracy theory.” [NYTimes]

CAMPUS BEAT — “UC Berkeley students call for removal of ‘antisemitic,’ ‘anti-Israel’ lecturer” by Ilanit Chernick: “Students at the University of California, Berkeley have started a petition calling on the university to remove a lecturer who has been accused of anti-Semitism as well as having a blatant anti-Israel bias… The senior lecturer, Dr. Hatem Bazian, hosted an event in which he invited Arab Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi to give a lecture entitled “Israel: A Democracy or a Colonial Project?” The event… took place on Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers in the country’s wars.”[JPost

Anti-Semitic Wagner letter to be sold in Jerusalem: “A letter written by Hitler’s favourite composer Richard Wagner warning about “corrosive” Jewish influence on culture is to be auctioned in Jerusalem… In it, Wagner wrote that Jewish assimilation into French society meant that it was harder to see that “corroding influence of the Jewish spirit on modern culture”… Wagner would “roll over in his grave” if he knew that a Jew with a beard was going to make money from his letter, Meron Eren from the auction house told AFP.” [BBC

SPORTS BLINK — “When — if Ever — Will the Super Bowl Champion Eagles Visit the White House?” by Ken Belson and Michael Shear: “The Eagles’ owner, Jeffrey Lurie, is considered one of the most liberal in the league… According to the Federal Election Commission, in 2015, Mr. Lurie donated $2,700 to Hillary for America… Mr. Lurie has also made his political leanings known in private league meetings, including last October at N.F.L. headquarters. Weeks after Mr. Trump attacked the league, several dozen owners, players and league executives met to discuss a plan to donate money to an array of groups fighting social injustice. At one point, a player said that it was difficult to trust the owners because they supported Mr. Trump. Mr. Lurie took exception. “Another fact I want to throw out there: Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Mr. Lurie said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The New York Times. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too.”” [NYTimes

TRANSITION — Jerry Silverman will step down next year as president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America. “I wholeheartedly plan to continue at my usual pace until September 2019. My decision is bittersweet,” Silverman wrote in an email to his colleagues. “However, as I have always stated, family comes first.” [JTA

DESSERT — “Putin eats matzah all year round, says Russia’s chief rabbi” by Itamar Eichner: “Russian President Vladimir Putin is particularly fond of matzah and eats the unleavened flatbread…  all year round, according to Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar… Lazar told reporters during the Limmud FSU festival… that Putin eats matzah while drinking tea. “Putin said matzah is tasty, easy and healthy to eat. He eats the matzah I bring him,” the rabbi said.” [Ynet

“Seniors gather to observe the Jewish Sabbath every week – at Wendy’s” by Donna Freydkin: “The new documentary “Wendy’s Shabbat” spotlights a group of California seniors who for a decade have been meeting weekly to observe the Jewish Sabbath at an unlikely venue – a local Wendy’s. Megyn Kelly TODAY welcomes one of them, Roberta Mahler, along with her granddaughter Rachel Myers, who directed the film.” [Today

“Amid Changing Economics, More Israeli Restaurants Opting to Go Kosher” by Adi Dovrat-Meseritz: “Most of the new restaurants that have opened in Israel in the past year are kosher, and many veteran establishments are getting a kashrut certificate even in secular bastions like Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. Celebrity chefs who once took pride in their non-kosher menus are choosing to switch to kashrut. One prominent instance is the chef and television personality Moshe Segev, who recently launched a chain of kosher restaurants under his name, with the first two outlets in Netanya and Be’er Sheva.”[Haaretz

BIRTHDAYS: Film director Richard Donner (born Richard Donald Schwartzberg) turns 88… Rabbi emeritus at Washington’s Adas Israel Congregation, he is a former president of the Rabbinic Assembly, Rabbi Jeffrey A. Wohlberg turns 77… Yeshiva of Brooklyn student who went on to become an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Peabody Award winning singer and actress, Barbra Streisand turns 76… Delray Beach, FL resident, Phyllis Dupret turns 75… Board chairman of financial publisher TheStreet, also on the board of directors of Gannett, he was previously president and publisher of USA Today, Lawrence S. Kramer turns 68… Israeli architect and artist, Ron Arad turns 67… President of Cincinnati-based Standard Textile since 1986, VP of JINSA and the the Israel Policy Forum, Gary Heiman turns 67…

President of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards of the NBA since 2003, himself an NBA player (1977-1986), Ernest “Ernie” Grunfeld turns 63… Award winning author and journalist and the former national editor for Politico, Michael Hirsh turns 61… President of Kirtzman Strategies in NYC, previously a journalist, political reporter and television news anchor (2002-2008), author of books about Bernie Madoff and Rudy Giuliani, Andrew Kirtzman turns 57… Financial advisor for Bernstein Private Wealth Management where he is Carl S. Schwartz, and leader of Baltimore’s Shomrei Mishmeres HaKodesh where he is Rabbi Chaim Schwartz, turns 48… Congressional affairs specialist at the Food and Drug Administration, Laurie Edberg turns 48 (h/t Playbook)… Television writer, producer and film screenwriter, known as the co-creator and showrunner of the television series “Lost” (2004-2010), Damon Lindelof turns 45… National director of AIPAC’s synagogue initiative, Mark H. Waldman turns 44… Brandon Hersh turns 35… Elaine Berke

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BEZOS CREDITS MADOFF — “Inside Jeff Bezos’s DC Life” by Ben Wofford: “Ted Leonsis would go on to become a sounding board for Bezos, who later relayed one of the reasons he’d left Wall Street: “He said, ‘I had a competitor who was kicking my ass,’ ” Leonsis remembers. The prodigious rival: Bernie Madoff. “So,” Bezos cracked to Leonsis, “no Bernie Madoff, no Amazon.”

“Leonsis wasn’t the only large persona from Washington who met with Bezos early on. Around 1995, David Rubenstein, cofounder of the Carlyle Group, one of the country’s largest private-equity firms, read about Amazon in the newspaper and booked a flight to Seattle. When he arrived, Rubenstein was struck by the rundown headquarters, where doors were repurposed as work desks—and more startled by Bezos himself, who greeted his guests just as he was preparing to drive a boxful of orders to the local FedEx. Still, a Carlyle-owned firm acquired Amazon stock worth about $4 million. Before he left, Rubenstein told Bezos, “By my calculations, you’ll be worth $300 million at the IPO.” Bezos said he doubted he’d ever be that rich. The firm eventually sold its shares for about $65 million—a stake that Rubenstein says would be worth about $2.5 billion today. “We were happy to get the cash. And obviously,” he recalls, “had we held on for 20 years, we’d probably be happier.” [Washingtonian]

DRIVING THE WEEK — “As Macron arrives to meet Trump, fate of Iran nuclear deal is front and center” by Karen DeYoung: “French President Emmanuel Macron arrives here Monday, on the first official state visit Trump has hosted for any leader, with a clear agenda. Iran is at the top of a to-do list… After his midday Monday arrival, Macron and his wife will travel by helicopter with the Trumps to Mount Vernon for dinner… On Tuesday morning, Trump and Macron will hold a one-on-one meeting, followed by expanded talks with their delegations… Macron will attend a State Department lunch hosted by [Mike] Pence and a state dinner at the White House on Tuesday. He addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday morning…” [WashPost] • Macron Takes a Risk in Courting Trump, but Has Little to Show for It [NYTimes

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Macron cautioned Trump on Iran, urging him to stick with the Iran nuclear deal. “I’m not satisfied with the situation with Iran but don’t leave the deal without a better option,” said Macron. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is expected to meet with Trump on Friday, defended the nuclear deal in an interview with an Israeli TV channel, saying an imperfect deal is better than no deal and that her country will “watch very closely” to ensure it is being fulfilled.

“The Scramble to Salvage the Iran Nuclear Deal” by Robin Wright: “[Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad] Zarif said any compromise that adds new conditions or interpretations was a non-starter. “We don’t condone it, and we don’t believe it’s useful or fruitful or conducive to a better implementation of the [deal], and they know that to be our position,” Zarif said. “The only scenario that we can deal with is for the Europeans to talk to the Trump Administration to start, once and for all, complying with the deal.” … I asked Zarif if there was a prospect, if the deal dies, that Iran would negotiate again with the United States. “Diplomacy never dies,” he told me.” [NewYorker]

Iranian FM Zarif, PM Netanyahu trade barbs over Iran’s actions in the region: “I do not believe that we are headed towards regional war,” Zarif told CBS’s Face the Nation… He did, however, qualify his statement by saying that “Israel has continued its violations with international law, hoping to be able to do it with impunity because of US support and trying to find smokescreens to hide behind.” … In a ceremony at the General Staff in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countered Zarif’s remarks. “This is the foreign minister of a country that sends armed UAVs (drones) against Israel and missiles at Saudi Arabia,” the premier said at the event… “I am not impressed by words.” [YnetReuters]

RISE AND…? “Palestinian Engineer, Gunned Down in Malaysia, Published Drone Research” by Rory Jones: “Palestinian electrical engineer Fadi al-Batsh was on his way to a mosque outside Malaysia’s capital for dawn prayers when he was shot dead by a helmeted attacker on a motorcycle. Hamas, the Palestinian militant and political organization that governs the Gaza Strip, blamed Israel for Mr. Batsh’s death on Saturday, calling it an assassination. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Mr. Batsh was a member of the group, with “an honorable reputation in science.” An Israeli government spokesman declined to comment.” [WSJ]

JERUSALEM EMBASSY — ”Mnuchin to lead U.S. delegation to Jerusalem embassy opening” by Barak Ravid: “Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is expected to lead the United States’ delegation to the inauguration ceremony of the new American embassy in Jerusalem on May 14th. Another interesting member of the U.S. delegation will be… Jared Kushner… While Israeli officials believe that Ivanka Trump will also be there, Axios’ Jonathan Swan says that her attendance is not yet guaranteed. According to the Israeli officials, around 250 guests will travel from the U.S. to the embassy’s inauguration. They will include around 40 senators and members of the House of Representatives. Other members of the delegation will include Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. special envoy for the peace process.” [Axios]

— “Others on the invite list are all former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel. The Foreign Affairs Ministry plans to host all of the American officials at a special, festive reception held in its Jerusalem offices.  As for the opening ceremony itself, all of Israel’s most senior officials have been invited to attend.” [Ynet

“Netanyahu Struggles to Get European Nations to Follow Trump and Relocate Embassies to Jerusalem” by Noa Landau: “Israel has been pressuring Romania and the Czech Republic over the past few months to… move their embassies to Jerusalem… But domestic pressures in those countries are preventing this step…” [HaaretzJPost]

“State Department strikes ‘Occupied Territories’ from human rights report” by Carol Morello: “The State Department’s annual human rights report released Friday… stops using the phrase “Occupied Territories” to describe Israel’s presence in Gaza and the West Bank… This year, the section is titled “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.” … State Department officials said reports issued by other parts of the government no longer refer to the West Bank and Gaza as the Occupied Territories and that the human rights report is simply catching up to what is now standard practice in the administration.” [WashPost]

REPORT — “Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace” by Jonathan Swan: “In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu… Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not… He’d read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace…”

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: “The President has great relationships with a number of foreign leaders but that doesn’t mean he can’t be aggressive when it comes to negotiating what’s best for America.” [Axios]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Natalie Portman explains boycott of Israeli award ceremony — by Isabel Kershner and Megan Specia: “My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others,” Ms. Portman said. “Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu.” Ms. Portman, who is Jewish and was born in Israel, has starred in such hit movies as “Black Swan” and the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy.”

In her statement Friday, Ms. Portman said: “I am not part of the B.D.S. movement and do not endorse it. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.” “Israel,” she said, “was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values…” [NYTimes] • Read Portman’s full statement here [JI]

“Israeli Minister Says Natalie Portman Bordering on Anti-Semitism as Actor Defends Awards Boycott” by Tom Porter: “Natalie Portman has played into the hands of the worst of our haters and of the worst of the anti-Semites in the Middle East,” Steinitz said in an interview on Sunday… Portman had made a serious mistake and owes Israel an apology, the energy minister said. “Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. Boycotting Israel has elements of anti-Semitism.” [Newsweek]

IPF’s Michael Koplow writes… “Natalie Portman Speaks Loudly For Young American Jews With Snub Of Israel: Portman’s connections to Judaism and to Israel are as strong as any American Jew’s… That she is willing to make such a high profile statement in very publicly refusing to lend her credibility to a Genesis Prize shindig in Israel should terrify the Israeli government and stand as the ultimate cautionary tale. It demonstrates in the strongest possible way why Israel is making a serious error in judgment by dismissing Diaspora Jewish concerns as if they will soon disperse in the wind.” [Forward]

Mayim Bialik tweets on Friday: “How about this as we head into Shabbat: my family just booked our tickets to go to Israel this summer. I know; I was just there. Why again? Because… #Israel. Forever. Always. Shabbat Shalom, Israel.”

ISRAEL AT 70 — Bret Stephens writes… “Jewish Power at 70 Years: Some Diaspora complaints, especially with respect to religion and refugees, are valid and should be heeded by Jerusalem. But to the extent that the Diaspora’s objections are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable when it comes to Israel’s security choices, then the complaints are worse than feckless… For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their safeguard.” [NYTimes

“Israeli minister vows to help Ethiopian Jews move to Israel” by Michael Atsbeha: “[Ayelet] Shaked, on what is reported to be her first official visit to Africa, said she came to find out more about the situation of Ethiopia’s estimated 8,000 remaining Jews. Members of the Ethiopian Jews who attended the meeting told her that they want to move to Israel, where many family members moved years ago… “We know aliyah for Jews that are descendants in other countries happened so swiftly that sometimes even their dogs were also included as they moved to Israel. Are we less important than these dogs?” asked Meles Sidisto, the community head of Ethiopia’s Jews in Addis Ababa.” [AP]

ON THE HILL — “Senate Panel Poised to Vote Against Backing Pompeo Nomination” by Rebecca Ballhaus: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on [Mike] Pompeo’s nomination on Monday evening. All of the panel’s Democrats have said they would oppose the former congressman’s nomination, and they have been joined by one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.” [WSJ]

“Inside the Looming Bolton-Pompeo Showdown” by Abigail Tracy: “Pompeo’s entanglement with the Senate may give [John] Bolton an opening to take over interagency coordination on North Korea, if he can get the N.S.C. under control.” [VanityFair]

TURTLE BAY — “Haley’s pushback draws fans, rattles White House” by Jonathan Lemire and Meg Kinnard: “I feel sorry for Nikki Haley,” said former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. “She has been very tough up there making points. She makes very clear that she’s representing the President. And all of a sudden she’s put into this ridiculous situation of looking as though she is out there by herself on something.” Trump has vented to confidants about the media attention the dustup has received, but he hasn’t given any signal that he wants to dismiss his ambassador… All the attention has restarted some wary West Wing whispers about Haley’s ultimate goals…”

“And on Tuesday, her office mistakenly blasted an email containing a series of press clippings that mention Haley — a message meant for the ambassador herself — to a number of journalists. Among the headlines highlighted, one cited MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough and read, “Scarborough: Nikki Haley would beat Donald Trump if she ran in 2020 GOP primary.” [AP]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Michael Cohen, once at pinnacle of Trump’s world, now poses threat to it” by Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman: “At one point, Cohen topped a list of five candidates for White House counsel… He suggested to some Trump allies that he might make a good chief of staff… Among those opposed, the associates said, were Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. For his part, Cohen had warned Trump against giving Ivanka Trump and Kushner White House jobs, saying the president would be hammered by complaints of nepotism… The rebuff wounded Cohen.”

“Cohen hardly seemed headed for life as a tough-talking “fixer” growing up in an upper-middle-class town on Long Island. He attended a yeshiva day school, and then elite Lawrence Woodmere Academy. His father, a physician, was a Polish-born Holocaust survivor; his mother was a nurse. Cohen described himself as an “agnostic Jew.” As a teenager in the 1980s, he dated Ukrainian emigre Laura Shusterman. Cohen often visited her home in Queens, and he also visited friends in Brooklyn, where Soviet refugees had settled in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.” [WashPost]

Alan Dershowitz says Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is subject of ‘epic battle’ by prosecutors for his cooperation: “Alan Dershowitz said prosecutors are engaged in “an epic battle for the soul and cooperation of Michael Cohen.” … There is “a sword of Damocles hanging over his head,” said Dershowitz, who appeared on a “This Week” panel of lawyers… “After those raids, how serious is the threat to Cohen and Trump?” Stephanopoulos asked. “Oh, it’s a very serious threat,” Dershowitz said. “They have enormous abilities to really put pressure” on a witness.” [ABCNews]

TRUMP VS. MAGGIE — “Trump Criticizes Times Report About His Longtime Lawyer” by Emily Cochrane: “Mr. Trump, in a series of tweets on Saturday morning, accused The Times and one of the reporters who wrote the article, Maggie Haberman, of “going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip.’” Mr. Trump accused The Times of using “non-existent ‘sources,’” though he did not assert that the article was false. He also said that “I don’t speak to” Ms. Haberman and “have nothing to do” with her. In fact, she has interviewed the president twice in the Oval Office and three times by telephone.” [NYTimes

HEARD YESTERDAY — Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources:“You know, sometimes covering the President is difficult to determine what is actually a lie, but this one is crystal clear. Trump said, quote, ‘I don’t speak to her, and I have nothing to do with her.’ And here they are in the Oval Office together. Haberman has interviewed Trump on the record more than a dozen times in 2015… I know she takes these attacks in stride, but I don’t want to. Lying is disrespectful. It’s not disrespectful to Haberman or the journalists, but to the public. We all know the President uses Twitter to deliver talking points to his base, it’s very effective for him. But it’s also disrespectful.” [Video]

2020 WATCH — “Why LA’s Mexican-American-Jewish-Italian mayor is spending time in Iowa and South Carolina” by Maeve Reston and Gabe Ramirez: “In interviews with dozens of voters while traveling with [Eric] Garcetti across the early presidential contest states of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa, his potential to become a major contender was apparent. Voters often said they liked how Garcetti used the story of his grandfather, the Mexican immigrant to the US who fought in World War II and opened his own barbershop, as a touchstone to explain his family’s values and their American story… The joke about Garcetti’s background at City Hall is that the mayor is “1/8 everything.” He grew up eating menudo, a traditional Mexican soup, on weekends in his grandmother’s kitchen. On the Jewish side, it was bagels on Saturday and hanging out with his cousins.” [CNN]

“Michael Bloomberg on a 2020 run: “At the moment I’m not running for president”” by Emily Tillett: “Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg… says that while running for president would be a “great challenge,” he’s not considering a run in the 2020 election “at the moment.” “Well if God said I’d appoint you — I think it’s a great challenge and you’d have to think long and hard, and you know, you’re physically able to do it…” Asked by CBS’ “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan what his odds were for a potential run, Bloomberg responded: “Not very high.” [CBSNews] • Why 2020 may be Michael Bloomberg’s best shot at the presidency [CNN

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Gary Gensler was one of the top financial regulators in the Obama administration. Now, like many other big names from business and government, he is plunging into the world of the blockchain, the data-tracking technology introduced by Bitcoin. [NYTimes] • Los Angeles toy mogul Isaac Larian is abandoning efforts to buy the Canadian stores of Toys R Us and instead plans to sweeten his rejected bid for more than 200 U.S. outlets of the bankrupt retailer [LATimes] • Kushner Companies offers $250M for Park Ave. co-op [NYPost]

PROFILE — “The Rise, Reign, and Fall of W.P.P.’s Martin Sorrell” by Ken Auletta: “A professional obituary for Sorrell, seventy-three, seems in order. Sorrell’s Jewish grandparents immigrated to London from Ukraine, Poland, and Romania. In the poorer East End of London, his grandparents and parents felt the lash of anti-Semitism, a reason that they changed the family name from Spitzberg to Sorrell. To help support his family, his father, Jack, dropped out of school, at thirteen, abandoning the scholarship offered by the Royal College of Music, and eventually went to work as a manager for the brothers Max and Francis Stone, Russian Jews who owned appliance stores. By the time Martin was born, in February, 1945, Jack was the managing director of their seven hundred and fifty stores, and the Sorrells enjoyed a measure of comfort.”

“The historian Simon Schama described Martin as “exuberantly tough” and “full of a kind of cuddly warmth” that is often camouflaged. They were “brotherly close,” he said, with sterling grades, when together they entered Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1963. On Fridays, Martin’s mother would wrap a roast chicken in silver foil and plastic and put it on the train to Cambridge. “I would pick it up,” Martin recalled. “The chicken was still warm.” Schama would make risotto to accompany the chicken. The chicken was kosher, as was all their food. “We were slightly left-wing Zionists” living a semi-bohemian life style, Schama said. Together, they edited and published a glossy magazine, Cambridge Opinion, appearing six times a year, each edition devoted to a single subject.” [NewYorker]

“‘Troubled kid’ turned his life around, then changed how events are planned” by Thomas Heath: “You couldn’t make up a better tale about a wayward kid who makes good than Dan Berger’s story. Grows up in Israel. Moves to the United States at age 9 with his parents. Thrown into a strange school. Doesn’t speak the language. Doesn’t fit in. Plays on his computer until dawn, nearly flunking him out of the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. Sells drugs. Takes drugs. Berger eventually righted his life. He graduated from New York’s Hunter College with a bachelor’s in political science. He followed that up as a point man for former U.S. representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), and then received a master’s in business from Georgetown University. He now runs a D.C. technology/hospitality company he invented called Social Tables. It has 102 full-timers, a band of prestigious investors, and gross revenue that I would place between $15 million and $20 million…” [WashPosth/t Howard Mortman

MEDIA WATCH — “Is Facebook’s Campbell Brown a Force to Be Reckoned With? Or Is She Fake News?” by Nellie Bowles: “Once those shows get started, Ms. Brown wants to use Facebook’s existing Watch product — a service introduced in 2017 as a premium product with more curation that has nonetheless been flooded with far-right conspiracy programming like “Palestinians Pay $400 million Pensions For Terrorist Families” — to be a breaking news destination. The result would be something akin to an online competitor to cable news. Ms. Brown is also pushing paywalls for publishers on the social network, another first for a company that has long avoided circulating any content that users would have to pay for.”

“At Facebook, Ms. Brown became part of an informal cadre on the company’s business side known as the FOSSes, or “Friends of Sheryl Sandberg.” But close association with a powerful figure within the company does not assure her of success. When it comes to decisions related to publishers, the power at Facebook has traditionally been more with the product staff, who tend to be aligned more with [Mark] Zuckerberg and cloistered from meetings with partners… While Ms. Brown has helped Facebook mount its charm offensives at industry events, her efforts to remake Facebook’s relationships with publishers has meant cutting back her visibility to the broader public.” [NYTimes]

— “The New York Times dismisses news of Palestinian payments to terrorists as a ‘far-right conspiracy’” by Liel Leibovitz: “As those of us who are in the reality based community know, the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of terrorists and their families is very, very far from a conspiracy, far-right or otherwise… Read the real news, and you’ll learn that, in 2017, the PA doled out more than $347 million to families of terrorists who had murdered Jews, increasing the amount to $403 million this year… This information, of course, was available to Bowles and to anyone else with Internet access, and only she and her editors may know whether it was malice or sheer incompetence that stopped her from looking up a simple fact before presenting it as an ideologically tainted conspiracy theory… We need journalistic institutions like the Times precisely because we trust them to be more discerning, to sift through the stream of falsehoods for the few glittering nuggets of hard truth. Bowles and her editors did nothing of the sort.”[Tablet]

SCENE SATURDAY NIGHT — Campbell Brown celebrated her 50th birthday party at a rooftop loft in Chelsea. “The evening began with live musical performances by Campbell’s sons, Eli and Asher, and ended with a jam session by Jon Batiste. In between, there were toasts and video sketches by Anne Kornblut, Frank Bruni, Lester Holt, Amy Chiaro, Alexandra Pelosi and Dan Senor.”

SPOTTED: Joel Klein, Nicole Seligman, John Podhoretz, John Heilemann and Diana Rhoten, Dina Powell and Dave McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Allison Williams, Matt Negrin, Lee Woodruff, Romy Drucker, Tal Keinan, Ricky Van Veen, Seth Siegel, Chris Licht, Marc Sternberg, Steven Rubenstein, John Avlon and Margaret Hoover, Andrew Morris-Singer, Corey Morris-Singer, Paul Singer, Terry Kassel, Bari Weiss, Boykin Curry, Bret Stephens, Bruce Feiler, Linda Rottenberg, Chris Altchek, Charlotte Morgan, Dafna Linzer and Bart Gellman, Dan and Margaret Loeb, Jacob Weisberg and Deborah Needleman, Jared Cohen, Jay and Elena Lefkowitz, Bill Kristol, Steve Rattner and Maureen White, Katie Couric and John Milner, Kevin Delaney, Ben Smith, Tali and Boaz Weinstein, Michael Barbaro and Jake Kastan. [Playbook]

A conversation between New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet and Politico editor-in-chief John Harris: “Bennet… has faced a succession of social media uproars over the past year as he revamps and modernizes the Times opinion section. Even as the page has retained its historically liberal bearings, and regularly lacerates President Donald Trump, it is now regarded with suspicion by some loud voices on the left. There was a backlash to Bennet’s hiring of conservative columnist Bret Stephens (who wrote skeptically about the evidence for manmade climate change), as well as to his abortive attempt to bring on tech writer Quinn Norton (the hiring was quickly reversed after Twitter posters exposed a friendship with a neo-Nazi).”[Politico]  

DEEP DIVE — “Koch Dark Money Funds Anti-Israel Darlings: How Stephen Walt became the new foreign policy gatekeeper for the right” by Armin Rosen: “The idea that the Koch brothers… are teaming up with the author of The Israel Lobby to re-align American foreign policy might confuse observers who are used to seeing debates around interventionism or US support for Israel as a simple contest between the right and the left. Yet in 2018, isolationist sentiment and anti-Israel conspiracy theories have found homes on both ends of the ideological spectrum. As Charles Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia who has spoken at Charles Koch Institute-sponsored events and is known for his denunciations of Israeli influence in Washington, commented: “In general I’m pretty much appalled by what those guys do but in this case it seems in the foreign policy realm they’re a useful antidote to militarism in Washington.” [Tablet

TALK OF THE TOWN — “ Under fire for Farrakhan donation, D.C. lawmaker Trayon White says he’s ‘not backing down’” by Fenit Nirappil and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel: “In a Facebook Live video, [White said he was done apologizing and stood by his donation to the Nation of Islam. “I am not resigning, I’m not backing down, I’m not discouraged, I’m not depressed, so run all the media stories you want because my people are going to support me,” White said…” [WashPost]

“‘Anti-Semitic’ firefighter assigned to Orthodox Jewish community” by Susan Edelman: “A former FDNY commissioner’s son who once tweeted “I like Jews about as much as hitler” will join a firehouse in the middle of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn… “For him to be assigned to Borough Park, where you have an incredible number of Holocaust survivors, is an insult to our community,” fumed Assemblyman Dov Hikind.” [NYPost]

“Man Claims He Was Beaten in NYC Because He’s Jewish” by Ida Siegal: “Menachem Moskowitz suffered a black eye and broken rib after he was beaten by a man on a sidealk near Rutland Road and Schenectady Avenue in Crown Heights as he was walking home from a prayer service. Moskowitz said he told the attacker hello, but the greeting apparently set the man off and the suspect began hitting Moskowitz. “He was punching me, tried to put me into a hold and tried to choke me,” Moskowitz said.” [NBCNewYork]

CAMPUS BEAT — Barnard President President Sian Leah Beilock published a letter to the Barnard community today: “I am forwarding a letter I have sent to the Student Government Association (SGA) representative council regarding the results of its recent referendum on whether the College should be asked to divest any holdings from certain companies doing business with Israel… While a majority of students who voted support the referendum, this is less than 30% of Barnard’s student body. Thousands of alumnae have also voiced their opposition to the referendum. For these reasons, Barnard will not take action in response to this referendum.” [Barnard]

No boycott fear, say organisers of ‘Giro’ in Israel: “Organisers of an initial Israeli phase of the next Giro d’Italia cycling contest said on Sunday that they do not fear the event will be boycotted. “We are happy to say that, for the moment, there is full participation by all the teams, and we anticipate no problems,” Daniel Benaim, a Giro official, told a news conference in Tel Aviv… “Thousands of the world’s cyclists” were gathering for what is the “second most important” competition after the Tour de France, said Sylvan Adams, one of the event’s organisers in Israel.” [YahooNews

Ivana Trump talks to Page Six about the Trump family — by Dana Schuster: “Ivana also worries about her daughter Ivanka, who works as assistant to the president, losing her agency in the White House. In fact, she wishes Ivanka would give up any DC political aspirations and focus on her own companies, including her fashion lines. “I would prefer if she would [move back to] New York. Politics is a very dirty business,” she said. “In [fashion], she would be her own boss.” [PageSix

PIC OF THE DAY — Karlie Kloss visiting Israel:

MAZEL TOV — Over the weekend, Daniel Schwarz, Director of Strategic Communications for the House Judiciary Committee Democrats and Communications Director for Rep. Jerry Nadler, (D-NY) proposed to Jamie Geller, Senior Advisor and Communications Director for Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and alum of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “There was a trip to Israel that Rep. Engel was leading. Jerry asked Eliot for his staffer’s information and was able to get Jamie’s cell phone number. The rest is history.” Daniel is the son of Rabbi Sid Schwarz and Sandy Perlstein of Rockville, MD and Jamie is the daughter of Norm and Mary Geller of Chicago, IL. The couple celebrated with family and friends from near and far over the weekend. [Pic]

REMEMBERING — “Avicii’s Ex-Girlfriend Emily Goldberg Reacts to His Death: ‘I Don’t Want It to Be Real’” by Karla Rodriguez: “Goldberg shared 10 personal photos of herself and the musician on Instagram along with a heartfelt message about him. “‘Come on babe, don’t give up on us. Choose me, and I’ll show you love.’ Those are lyrics from a song Tim wrote for me. I wish I could have lived up to them,” she captioned the post on Friday… Goldberg also shared what appeared to be a screenshot of a text exchange between herself and Avicii (real name Tim Bergling) expressing their love for each other.” [USMagazine]

“The monks, the Dachau survivors and the concert that heralded freedom” by Rosie Whitehouse: “On the anniversary of the camp’s liberation, the forgotten story of escaped prisoners who set up a Jewish hospital in a Bavarian monastery has been championed by one Benedictine monk.”[TheGuardian

DESSERT — “Miznon Secures Pita Primacy at Chelsea Market” by Hannah Goldfield: “In 2016, Michael Solomonov, the Israeli-American chef and owner of Zahav, an acclaimed “modern Israeli” restaurant in Philadelphia, opened a stand in Chelsea Market called Dizengoff, specializing in hummus and pita… Two years later, both are still exceptionally good. But it’s lucky for Solomonov that Miznon—the first U.S. outpost of a small, beloved international chain started by the Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani, which opened a few months ago, also in Chelsea Market—doesn’t offer hummus, because when it comes to pita primacy Dizengoff has been knocked off the podium.” [NewYorker]

BIRTHDAYS: Literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, Holocaust scholar and educator, George Steiner turns 89… Stage, television and film actor Alan Oppenheimer turns 88… Marim Weissman turns 79… Oberlin, Ohio resident Patricia Ann Haumann turns 74… Terry Pullan turns 68… Retail industry analyst, he is the former president of JCPenney Credit Services and VP of credit at Macy’s, Steve Kernkraut turns 68… Health services researcher focused on smoking cessation programs for women, maternal health and child health, Judith Katzburg, PhD, MPH, RN, turns 65… Deputy Director of NCSEJ, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, Lesley L. Weiss turns 64… Gary Pickholz turns 60… Uruguayan-born author, software developer and entrepreneur, co-founder of Gryphon Software, Gabriel Wilensky turns 54…

CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, he is the primary proponent world-wide of the Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder turns 54… DC-based Executive Director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, Nathan J. Diament turns 51… Russian Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics (1988), Yelena Shushunova turns 49… Businesswoman, daughter of Ronald Lauder, style and image director for the Estée Lauder Companies, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer turns 48… Director General of Aish HaTorah, previously Eastern Director at the Wiesenthal Center, managing director of OU and international director of NCSY, Rabbi Steven Burg turns 46… SVP of government relations at the Council on Foundations, previously director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Hadar Susskind turns 45… Program officer at Maimonides Fund, she was previously the Israel Program Officer for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Ariella Saperstein turns 35… Co-founder of Edgeline Films, he co-directed and co-produced Weiner, a documentary about Anthony Weiner’s campaign for Mayor of NYC in 2013, Joshua Kriegman turns 38… Digital director at Republican Jewish Coalition, Neil Boylan Strauss turns 33… Former University of Michigan quarterback, now an investor, Alex Swieca turns 26… Editor of the technology section at Mic since 2015, Alexis Kleinman(h/ts Playbook)… Former CEO of the Jerusalem-based non-profit New Spirit, now CEO at Khan Theatre Elisheva Mazya… VP of marketing for Israel365 and the editorial director for Breaking Israel News, Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman

Kafe Knesset for September 20

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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…

Kafe Knesset for September 18

Monday, September 18, 2017

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…

Kafe Knesset for September 15

Friday, September 15, 2017

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…

Kafe Knesset for September 13

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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…

Kafe Knesset for September 12

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

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…

Kafe Knesset for September 11

Monday, September 11, 2017

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…