Daily Kickoff: Trump’s tweet part of a larger Iran strategy? | NYTimes on Signature Bank | Cory Booker’s Hamptons funders | ‘Shtetl Skills’

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BREAKING — Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace earlier today. The Russian-made Sukhoi jet crossed two kilometers (1.2 miles) into Israeli airspace before a pair of Patriot missiles shot it down. IDF spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus confirmed that the plane was Syrian and that Israel communicated with Russia prior to the strike to ensure the jet was Syrian and not a Russian aircraft. “The only thing we know about the aircraft is that it crashed, most likely in the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights,” he added.

TALK OF THE REGION: Russia wants to push Iran 65 miles from Israel’s border in Syria — by Barak Ravid: “Russia wants to push Iranian forces, Hezbollah and Pro-Iranian Shiite militias 65 miles from the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights, a senior Israeli official said after a meeting in Jerusalem between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov… “This is fine, but eventually, we need to get the Iranians from Syria completely,” Netanyahu told Lavrov.” [AxiosHaaretz]

TEHRAN WATCH — U.S. Toughens Rhetoric on Iran Following Trump’s Tweet — by Jessica Donati and  Nancy Youssef: “On Monday morning, the rhetoric hadn’t prompted the Pentagon to move any U.S. military assets, nor generated a sense of urgency to shift the U.S. military posture near Iran, Pentagon officials said. While the U.S. once maintained a carrier strike group in the Middle East, there is none there now. The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier left the region last week and the Navy has no immediate plans to replace it, two defense officials said.” [WSJ]

— “According to multiple administration sources and briefings over several weeks with senior officials, the crackdown on Iran was long planned, and is entirely consistent with Trump’s long-stated objectives… The pre-planned strategy was timed to set the stage for the re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran three weeks from now.” [NBCNews]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Will Trump pull a North Korea on Iran? — by Nahal Toosi: “Analysts say there are signs that Trump’s approach to Iran could echo his approach to North Korea. After all, Trump has already sought to meet with Iranian officials, and his advisers won’t rule out future engagement. He’s eager to strike deals on the world stage. And Iran holds important leverage in places where Trump would like to withdraw U.S. troops, such as Syria… If Iran were to offer Trump some sort of a deal involving its own drawback from a part of Syria, Trump may leap at it, details and allies be damned.” [Politico]

Mark Dubowitz emails us… “Trump’s tweet is an important statement of deterrence and resolve. The president has once again put the Islamic Republic of Iran on notice that any interference with international shipping or any other actions will be met with U.S. force. Since the administration began its tough rhetorical campaign in February 2017, Iranian harassment of shipping and missile tests dropped precipitously. One shouldn’t underestimate the extent to which these tough statements deter a regime that only understands power.”

Aaron David Miller tweetsThe disconnect in Trump’s Iran policy is stunningly obvious — he won’t talk to Iran; can’t contain and won’t confront it. And so we drift with an other-worldly undeclared regime change policy at best doomed to fail, and at worst triggering conflict that leads nowhere.”

CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “Russia might be the answer to keep an eye on this situation because Trump wins both ways with what he did with this tweet. He wins because he gets a distraction. People are talking about it. I’m talking about it… And if it does get sideways because of his provocation, he can turn to Russia and say, I need Russia to cool it down. They can help us. Iran respects them and trusts them. And in that, he would not only justify his suppleness with Putin in the interest of working together, but he would have created his own proof that he did the right thing with Putin in the first place.” [Video


HEARD LAST NIGHT — Israel’s Ambassador Ron Dermer at CUFI’s Night to Honor Israel in DC: “Anyone see President Trump’s tweet yesterday? I think it’s safe to say that there’s a new sheriff in town – a sheriff who is making clear that the days when the most powerful nation on earth will accept threats from Iran are over… Iran now faces a strong headwind from a Trump administration determined to ratchet up the pressure. That policy is working… Truth is before President Trump came into office, Iran’s regime was riding high. Today, it’s on the ropes.”

“Over the decades, Israel has been blessed with strong supporters in Congress on both sides of the aisle. We have been blessed with Presidents, Democrat and Republican alike, who were steadfast friends of Israel… But there has never been a US administration more supportive of Israel than the Trump administration – frankly, it is not even close. From President Trump to Vice President Pence to Secretary Pompeo, from Ambassador Bolton to Ambassador Haley to Ambassador Friedman, from Jared Kushner to Jason Greenblatt to Sarah Sanders, this is an administration that sees Israel as an ally and that treats Israel as an ally. Today the alliance between Israel and America has never been stronger.” [CSPANTranscript

— In this week’s New Yorker: Is Poland Retreating from Democracy? — by Elisabeth Zerofsky: “In late June, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, of Law and Justice, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a joint statement that their dispute had been resolved. Morawiecki said that the offenses described in the Polish Death Camps amendment had been modified from criminal to civil. “Those who say that Poland may be responsible for the crimes of World War Two deserve jail terms,” Morawiecki had said earlier. “But we operate in an international context and we take that into account.” (A former Polish diplomat said that the U.S. had used “brutal political blackmail” to get the Poles to do what the Israelis wanted.)” [NewYorker

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at CUFI: “Just about one month before I arrived [at the UN], the previous American administration allowed a terrible resolution to pass. That resolution condemned Israel in the most outrageous way. It was a shameful day for America. So when I arrived, I assured the Israeli Ambassador that on my watch that would never happen again, and I’m proud to say the opposite has happened.”

“In all that we’re doing – whether it’s the embassy decision, or UNESCO, or the Human Rights Council, or pushing for votes against Hamas, our approach on Israel is tied together by one major idea. The idea that runs through all of it is the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country. We demand that Israel not be treated like some sort of temporary provisional entity or pariah.” [CSPAN]

Spotted by a JI reader on Sunday night: Ambassador Haley on an 8:01PM Amtrak Northeast Regional from NYC to DC. According to our tipster, Haley’s entourage included close to 10 aides and security personnel.

U.S. Freeze on Palestinian Aid Threatening Coexistence and Humanitarian Groups, Warn Officials — by Amir Tibon and Jack Khoury: “The funding freeze has also hurt local companies that USAID uses as contractors for economic projects, as well as Jewish-Arab coexistence groups that rely on American financial support for their activities… The Taylor Force Act doesn’t restrict the $35 million intended for the PA security forces, while the rest of the money approved by Congress… is intended for hospitals in East Jerusalem and USAID contractors.”

“If they are trying to pressure Abu Mazen [Abbas], then this is not the way to do it,” said Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel… “Abu Mazen can live with this freeze. Most of the money isn’t going to the PA anyway.” … Shapiro told Haaretz that during his time as ambassador, “There was one group of people that constantly encouraged us to support humanitarian and economic projects through USAID: Israeli security officials.” [Haaretz] • Abbas vows to continue stipends to terrorists even with PA’s ‘last penny’ [ToI]

Sen Lindsey Graham announced at the CUFI summit this morningthat he’s going to introduce a new clause to the Taylor Force Act to punish Palestinian ministers who carry out the ‘pay for slay’ program. “We are going to consider them agents of terrorism. We are going to name names.”

Israel, Hamas trapped over prisoner exchange — by Ben Caspit: “Hamas holds the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul… Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar cannot allow himself to return the bodies without receiving a hefty payment in Palestinian prisoners. Israel can’t allow itself to release Palestinian terrorists in exchange for the corpses of its soldiers, but it also can’t reach any agreement with Hamas before the bodies of these soldiers are returned to Israel for burial. Neither party can break through this barrier, so they are trapped in the same blood-soaked alleyway in a situation that repeats itself regularly with the precision of a Swiss watch. At this point, it is every weekend.” [Al-Monitor] • Israel Eases Restrictions on Gaza’s Only Commercial Crossing [WSJ]

UN rights chief sharply criticizes Israel over Gaza killings — by Edith Lederer: “Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a video address to the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that… there are “serious concerns” that Israeli accountability mechanisms don’t comply with international standards of “independence, impartiality, and effectiveness.” [AP]

ON THE HILL — Cruz Bill Would Sanction Terrorists for Using Human Shields — by Jenna Lifhits: “The bill, led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, enables the Trump administration to sanction members of foreign terrorist organizations that use civilians to shield themselves from attack. Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram are among the designated terror groups that could be targeted under the newly introduced measure… Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal are among the Democrats who back the bill.” [TheWeeklyStandard]

COURTS & CRITICS — Liel Leibovitz writes… “Is Brett Kavanaugh Bad for the Jews? It was so dismaying to see the ADL release a statementdenouncing Judge Brett Kavanaugh minutes after President Trump announced his nomination to the Supreme Court… Why would a group dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism engage in this sort of partisan warfare? The answer lies with the group’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt… A former junior aide in the Clinton White House and special assistant to President Obama, Mr. Greenblatt has frequently steered the ADL into the murky waters of party politics… By focusing increasingly on the battles of the Democratic Party, and by weighing in on matters far removed from its traditional mandate, the ADL is leaving American Jews behind.” [WSJ]

An ADL spokesperson responds: “For more than a century, ADL has fought anti-Semitism — no matter the source. At times, we anger people from one political persuasion; at times, others. But this has not — and will not — change our commitment or our course.”

— The ADL official noted that the group has always called for strong questioning of a Supreme Court nominee, but in the case of Kavanaugh, the ADL believes he deserves special scrutiny because some of his views conflict with ADL policies formulated before Greenblatt became head of the group.

2018 WATCH — The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) launched an online candidate contribution portal yesterday, including its first wave of midterm endorsements. The group is backing 6 GOP House candidates — Reps. Barbara Comstock (VA), Peter Roskam (IL), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Leonard Lance (NJ), Keith Rothfus (PA), and Young Kim, running to replace retiring Congressman Ed Royce (CA) — along with 3 Senate hopefuls — Mike Braun (IN), Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND), and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. These races, according to RJC’s Executive Director Matt Brooks, are critical to the Republicans maintaining control of the House and the Senate. 

— Brooks tells us: “We are pleased to endorse and support these terrific pro-Israel candidates.” Brooks pointed to the RJC’s first $530K ad buy in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District against Democrat Scott Wallace highlighting his record of supporting pro-BDS groups. The race was then upgraded from “toss up” to “Lean R” by the Cook Report. “We look forward to doing the same elsewhere,” he said.

GOP Congressman Calls Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‘This Girl … Or Whatever She Is’ — by Jennifer Bendery: “Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Saturday referred to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democratic congressional nominee who is seen as a rising star in her party, as “this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.” … The 39-year-old DeSantis goes on to insult Ocasio-Cortez… for criticizing the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians… “There’s never been a Palestinian state. You’re just repeating these canned, left-wing talking points, and you’re somehow the savior of the Democratic Party? Good Lord,” DeSantis said of that interview. “She has no clue what she’s talking about.”” [HuffPost

2020 WATCH — via Shane Goldmacher‏Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is heading to the Hamptons this weekend for several fundraisers… Saturday evening at the home of Lisa and Steve Eisenstein in Southampton… Saturday afternoon: Tracy Maitland hosts him in Bridgehampton for “Cocktails & Conversation. Late Saturday, Carolyn Tisch Blodgett and Will Blodgett host him for the same in Water Mill. Sunday brunch/breakfast at the home of Yael and Ben Ringel in Sagaponack.”

A Republican group is digging up dirt on business leaders who could take on Trump in 2020 White House race — by Brian Schwartz: “Super PAC America Rising is gearing up for battle against potential candidates such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and former Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, according to people familiar with the plan. Apple CEO Tim Cook, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Disney CEO Bob Iger and… Tom Steyer are also in its sights.” [CNBC]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… The Cohen vs. Trump Battle Ratchets Up — by Emily Jane Fox: “For months, friends and advisers have been telling Cohen that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Rudy Giuliani, among other people in Trump’s inner circle, have been eroding his relationship with the president. People close to [Michael] Cohen speculated over the weekend whether the release of the recording was part of such a strategy… “If they think for a second that the efforts to discredit me aren’t known to me, they are sadly mistaken,” he has told friends. “Did they think I was just going to roll over and die?” [VanityFair] • Feds have 12 Michael Cohen audio recordings [CNN]

“How a Small Bank Became a Go-To Lender to the Trump Family” by Emily Flitter and Jesse Drucker: “When Michael D. Cohen needed $17 million to buy a Manhattan apartment building in 2015, he went to Signature Bank. Years earlier, he had helped initiate a relationship between Signature and Mr. Trump, and the bank became an unlikely go-to lender for the future president and his extended family. Signature provides a window into the intersecting financial interests of Mr. Cohen and the Trump and Kushner families. Signature’s interactions with some of its most famous clients are attracting attention from regulators.”

“We recognize we are not perfect,” Signature’s chairman, Scott A. Shay, said in a statement. “However, any allegation that we knowingly or somehow actively abet tenant harassment is frankly a slander against Signature Bank and an unfair impugning of the reputations of many hardworking colleagues who strive to be a positive force for not only our shareholders and depositors but our community as well.” [NYTimes]

** 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: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Takes PayPal Stake, Sees Shares Hitting $125 [Bloomberg]  Leon Cooperman, the Hedge Fund Billionaire, Says It’s Time to ‘Fold ’Em’ [NYTimes] • Would Mark Zuckerberg Have Been Fired at Another Company? [VanityFair] • Tel Aviv And Dubai Are Climbing The List Of Priciest Airbnb Cities [Bloomberg]

Billy Joel Explains Why He Wore a Star of David to a Concert Last Year — by Chavie Lieber: “Last summer, Billy Joel appeared onstage at Madison Square Garden wearing a yellow Star of David… In an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday night, Joel said President Donald Trump’s remarks on how there were good people “on both sides” of the incidents in Charlottesville ignited his choice. “I had to do something that night,” he said… ”My family suffered,” he added. “And I think I actually have a right to do that.” Joel elaborated on his decision to wear the yellow star in an interview with Vulture. “To me, what happened in Charlottesville was like war,” he said… “When those guys see punks walking around with swastikas… I was personally offended. That’s why I wore that yellow star. I had to do something, and I didn’t think speaking about it was going to be as impactful.” [RackedVulture]

LongRead: The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage — by Doug Bock Clark: “When Trump won, [Mickey] Bergman and [Bill] Richardson recognized a golden opportunity to free Otto à la the release of American hostages in Iran at the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s inaugural presidential term. The two fringe diplomats put together a photo-op-worthy proposal for the Trump plane to pick Otto up in advance of the inauguration, before bureaucracy hemmed in the new president. They didn’t receive a no from North Korea, which they knew from past diplomacy with them was often a signal of positive interest.”

“The challenge that we had was that we could not get Donald Trump,” Bergman said. “We tried to go through Giuliani, Pence, Ivanka. Nothing during the transition. I’m assuming they were in chaos over there. I don’t think it ever crossed his desk, because I think he would have actually liked it.” … When Trump learned of Otto’s condition, he doubled down on the order for [Joseph] Yun to rush to Pyongyang and bring Otto home…” [GQ]

KAFE KNESSET — Tzipi Livni Named Opposition Leader After Herzog’s Departure — by Chaim Levinson and Jonathan Lis: “Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay and Tzipi Livni announced Monday they have agreed for her to be appointed head of the opposition. Livni will take the seat in the stead of Isaac Herzog, who has been named Jewish Agency chief… As part of the deal, Livni promised to run jointly with Gabay in the next elections, though the terms of their alliance remain in murk. Gabbay cannot serve as opposition leader since he is not a lawmaker.” [Haaretz]

— JPost’s Lahav Harkov emails us: “Livni isn’t the head of Zionist Union, so all the opposition leader position means is that she gets to give a rebuttal whenever Netanyahu speaks in the Knesset, and to meet with most visiting foreign leaders. I don’t see a significant difference between how she would do that and what Herzog did. Her speeches may be a bit more fiery, but that’s about it.”

HEADLINE FROM CAPRI: “Karlie Kloss Surprises Joshua Kushner and Flips Off the Paparazzi” [VanityFair]

TALK OF OUR NATION — by Ruth La Ferla in the NYTimes: “Five years ago, Lauren Shields… wrote an article for Salon called “My Year of Modesty.” It chronicled the nine months Ms. Shields spent literally under wraps, having shed the makeup, short skirts, spindly heels and other trappings of conventional Western femininity for loosefitting, trailing skirts or jeans and a head wrap… “At the time I lived in Brooklyn and noticed that Orthodox Jewish women there dressed modestly in a way that didn’t look like a costume. So I basically began dressing like an Orthodox Jewish woman. The big difference is that instead of a long skirt, I was usually in jeans.”” [NYT]

From identifying plants to making cheese, ‘shtetl skills’ are reviving a more traditional way of life — by Anya van Wagtendonk: “Shtetl Skills” began five years ago, the brainchild of Nati Passow, the Jewish Farm School’s co-founder and executive director. A descendant of Holocaust survivors, Passow wanted to connect his organization’s commitment to urban sustainability and food justice with the practical skills that “you might need to survive should there be a massive disruption in the world order, or even just in your life,” he said. “Judaism, at its foundation, has a lot of connections to food and farming,” Passow said…” [TheInquirer]

BIRTHDAYS: Vice Chairman of Promontory Interfinancial Network, he was a partner at Covington & Burling, US Ambassador to Romania (1994-1997) and President of the American Jewish Committee, Alfred H. Moses turns 89… Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who worked for ABC News (1978-1983) and CBS’s 60 Minutes (1983-1997), Lowell Bergman turns 73… Israeli physician, author and playwright, he is the younger brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, Iddo Netanyahu turns 66… Political pollster and consultant, he was the strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Joel Benenson turns 66… Los Angeles attorney, he has served as a board member of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the United Jewish Federation and Sinai Temple, Michael Jeffrey Bordy turns 66…

Retired offensive lineman in the NFL, he played for the Green Bay Packers (1986-1990) and the Dallas Cowboys (1991-1992) where he won in Super Bowl XXVII, now a motivational speaker, Alan (Shlomo) Veingrad turns 55… Secretary for the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet since 2007, previously Kentucky State Treasurer (1999-2007), author of “The Liberal Case for Israel,” Jonathan Miller turns 51… President of Access Computer Technology in West Bloomfield, Michigan, he is a rabbi, entrepreneur and social media expert, Jason Miller turns 42… Co-founder and partner at Orfin Ventures, an incubator and deep-tech venture fund, Adam Finkel turns 32… Sarah Citrenbaum… Rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom, the largest Jewish congregation in the San Fernando Valley, a 2008 graduate of JTS, previously a rabbi in Biloxi, Mississippi, Noah Zvi Farkas turns 39… Yale Law School student Shlomo Klapper




Daily Kickoff: Details on the Putin-Bibi-Trump deal on Syria | Kushner threatens to abandon Gaza First plan | The Israeli author who loves Amazon

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DRIVING THE DAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo harshly criticizedIran’s leaders in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library yesterday, comparing them to a “mafia” and conmen. Pompeo stopped short of calling for regime change, but he announced stepped-up US government broadcasting in Farsi.

Pompeo: “During the time of the nuclear deal, Iran’s increased oil revenues could have gone to improving the lives of the Iranian people. Instead, they went to terrorists, dictators, and proxy militias. Today, thanks to regime subsidies, the average Hizballah combatant makes two to three times what an Iranian firefighter makes on the streets of Iran.”

FIRE AND FURY 2.0? Trump Warns Iran’s Rouhani to ‘Never, Ever Threaten’ the U.S. — by Nick Wadhams: “President Donald Trump launched a new broadside against Iran, warning of unspecified “consequences” if Hassan Rouhani continues threatening America… The threat — similar to ones Trump issued last year in warning North Korea about its rapidly improving nuclear weapons program — risks leading to a speedy escalation if neither side backs down.” [BloombergWashPost]

— “The escalation of bellicose rhetoric comes just three weeks before the first round of banking sanctions suspended under the nuclear deal is reimposed.”[WashPost]

HEARD THIS MORNING — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Fox & Friends: “The only person that’s inciting anything is Iran. [Trump] is going to continue to be tough on this topic. He’s certainly not going to tolerate the leader of Iran making threats against Americans.”

Julia Ioffe tweets“Prediction: in a year, Trump has a summit with Rouhani in some neutral city—Dubai?—on which 1,500 journalists will descend, at which point, Trump and his supporters will claim that he averted war with Iran.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for his “strong stance” on Iran in remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said that Trump and Pompeo were taking a clear position against “Iranian aggression” after years that “the Iranian regime was pampered by world powers.” Netanyahu added: “In this context, I must point out that our diplomatic and military cooperation with the U.S. is at an all-time high.”

CONFERENCE CIRCUIT — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Christian United for Israel (CUFI) 13th annual summit in Washington, DC via satellite. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Pastor John Hagee will speak at the gathering this evening. [Livestream

On Tuesday morning, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); and Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), as well as Paul Teller, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, will address the conference.

CUFI’s Co-Executive Director Shari Dollinger tells us… “What will strike you is even though the event in the same building as the annual AIPAC Policy Conference (Walter E. Washington Convention Center) is how dramatically different the events are in terms of the participants. Our participants are from all 50 states, and for the folks that come, this is really a very serious financial sacrifice in some cases and a big deal for them to get off work. You are going to see a cross-section of America. They are deeply passionate about many issues, but the issue that they come to Washington for is Israel and Israel alone. Our members are excited and activated after the embassy move.”

— CUFI, which crossed the 4.3 million member mark this week, will also honor the life of slain veteran Taylor Force and celebrate the passage of the Taylor Force Act, which Dollinger says, CUFI helped pass by driving more than 1 million emails to every office on Capitol Hill. Ari Morgenstern, Communications Director for CUFI, added that the pro-Israel group is confident that the Trump administration will fully implement the Taylor Force Act.

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — As Violence Flares, Kushner Threatens to Abandon a Plan B for the Mideast: Rebuilding Gaza — by Mark Landler: “Declaring that no foreign investors are willing to pour money into Gaza during what they label a Hamas-driven conflict, [Jared] Kushner and [Jason] Greenblatt… are rethinking their efforts to rebuild Gaza’s economy as a way of opening the door to a broader peace accord. “Hamas has driven Gaza to a state of desperation,” Mr. Kushner said on Sunday. “Provocations will not be rewarded with aid.” Hamas leaders, he said, needed to demonstrate “a clear intent for a peaceful relationship with their neighbors” in order for aid and investment money to flow.” [NYTimes]

Trump administration stays on the sidelines as U.N. envoy pushes for peace in Gaza — by Loveday Morris: “The Americans have cut aid for UNWRA, so how dare they speak about the humanitarian situation in Gaza,” said Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator. “The Americans have disqualified themselves from any kind of role.” [WashPost]

Ambassador Nikki Haley, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman write… “The peace proposal we will make will be similarly realistic, recognizing the legitimate needs of both Israel and the Palestinians as well as the interests of the broader region. No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.” [CNN]

TALK OF THE REGION — Hundreds of Syrian White Helmets evacuated to Jordan through Israel: “The Israeli military in coordination with its U.S. and European allies evacuated hundreds of Syrian rescue workers known as the White Helmets from near its volatile frontier with Syria, in a complex and first-of-a-kind operation. The evacuees… were transported to Jordan… Israel’s military said the overnight operation was “an exceptional humanitarian gesture” at the request of the United States and European allies due to an “immediate threat to the (Syrians) lives.” [CBSNewsCNN]

— Ambassador David Friedman tweets“Acting at the direction of President Trump, I had the privilege to work with the Israeli Government & my incredible colleagues at State & NSC in coordinating Israel’s daring rescue of #WhiteHelmets and their families from Syria. Thank you Israel for the great humanitarian effort!”

Israel says it fired ‘David’s Sling’ interceptor at rockets launched in Syria: “Israel’s launched its “David’s Sling” air defense system on Monday as a precaution against rockets fired within neighboring Syria, setting off sirens in northern Israeli communities.” [Reuters

HAPPENING TODAY — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meetwith Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today in Jerusalem.

Inside the Putin-Netanyahu-Trump deal on Syria — by Josh Rogin: “Administration sources… tell me that Trump is now fully on board with the Putin-Netanyahu deal over Syria… Administration sources said, although nobody can be sure because Trump hasn’t fully briefed his own staff, the understanding is that Putin walked Trump through the terms of the Syria deal… Under the new deal, Russia agrees to keep Iranian troops and proxy groups 80 kilometers, or about 50 miles, from Israel’s border (if they can), and Putin promises not to object if Israel strikes Iranian assets in southern Syria.”[WashPost]

INTERVIEW — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger talks about the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in an interview with the Financial Times: “It was a meeting that had to take place. I have advocated it for several years. It has been submerged by American domestic issues. It is certainly a missed opportunity. But I think one has to come back to something. Look at Syria and Ukraine. It’s a unique characteristic of Russia that upheaval in almost any part of the world affects it, gives it an opportunity and is also perceived by it as a threat. Those upheavals will continue. I fear they will accelerate… The mistake NATO has made is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something very different to a Westphalian [western idea of a state] entity. And for Russia this is a challenge to its identity.” Do you mean that we provoked Putin, I ask. “I do not think Putin is a character like Hitler,” Kissinger replies. “He comes out of Dostoyevsky.” [FinancialTimes]

2018 WATCH — Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart exchange jabs in first Virginia Senate debate — by Ben Jacobs: “Kaine raised Stewart’s past associations with white supremacists such as the Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul Nehlen… Stewart attacked Kaine for standing by Leslie Cockburn, a Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia who co-wrote a book the New York Times called “Israel-bashing for its own sake”. Kaine said: “You can be critical of someone’s foreign policy and not be an anti-Semite”. He added: “I don’t have to agree with her foreign policies; her foreign policy views aren’t necessarily mine.” In response to a follow-up question from the Guardian, a spokesman for Kaine told the Guardian: “He said he doesn’t agree with every foreign policy position. I do not believe he has read her book.””[TheGuardian]

** 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: Accused Russian agent Butina met with U.S. Treasury, Fed officials including Stanley Fischer [Reuters] • Hedge Funds Set to Face Off Over Debt-Ridden Windstream [WSJ] • Leon Cooperman to Convert Omega Advisors to Family Office at Year End [InstitutionalInvestor] • Thor Equities gives up ownership of Upper East Side building [TheRealDeal] • Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Leaving The Atlantic [WashPostNYT]

TOP TALKER: Daniel Gordis writes… “Soul-Searching After a Rabbi Was Detained in Israel: Diaspora Jews, much to their frustration, have virtually no impact on Israel’s policies. If anything, the newly passed Jewish Nation-State law essentially codifies that fact. What remains to be seen is whether rank-and-file Israelis will begin to worry that Israel is following in the path of numerous European countries that, like the U.S., are in the grips of regimes with hard-right inclinations. Until a few days ago, there was little reason to believe that Israelis were ready to be roused. How ironic it would be if the detaining of a Conservative rabbi sparked the conversation that Israelis desperately need to have.” [BloombergView]

Elli Fischer writes: “Take it from one who performs Orthodox weddings outside the Chief Rabbinate: The Haiyun case is no big deal… I accuse those who equate Israel with Iran and Saudi Arabia, who have begun posting their own pictures as “WANTED” signs on social media, of distorting the reality that the Israeli authorities have clearly chosen to look the other way.” [ToI]

Israel’s New Law Inflames the Core Tension in Its Identity — by Emma Green: “Over the long and tortured seven-year history of this bill, it has essentially been emptied of almost all of the content that the right-wing folks who supported it at the beginning sought for it to contain,” said Noah Efron, a professor at Bar-Ilan University… “If the right-wing government has worked for seven years on a bill that in its first forms had teeth, and in the end they pass a weakened bill that’s symbolic … is that a sign of strength or of weakness?”

“On some parts of the Israeli left, though, the reaction has been vastly different. “It fits so well with the narrative on the left that it’s almost not questioned: that Israel is sliding towards an abyss of non-democracy, of rising commitment to ethnocracy,” said Efron. “There are people who really felt as though: This is it. This is the day I’m marking on my calendar, the day when Israeli democracy ended.” For his part, Efron thinks “that’s crazy,” even though he identifies with the political left himself. He doesn’t think the bill matters nearly so much, especially because it has minimal practical effect.” [TheAtlantic]

CAMPUS BEAT — Stanford Student Threatens to ‘Physically Fight Zionists’ on Campus — by Adam Rubenstein: “Hamzeh Daoud, a rising junior at Stanford, took to Facebook on Friday afternoon to declare that he’ll “physically fight Zionists on campus next year.” Angered by the Israeli government’s passage of its “basic law,” Daoud said that he’ll physically fight Zionists on campus “if someone comes at me with their ‘Israel is a democracy’ bullshit…” By Friday evening… he edited it, changing the word “physically” to “intellectually.” [TheWeeklyStandard]

Max Fisher writes… “Israel Picks Identity Over Democracy. More Nations May Follow: Democracy’s growth has stalled globally. Though the causes for this are not fully known, the trend is marked, in part, by once-healthy democracies rolling backward. Conventional wisdom holds that this is because of mismanagement or the self-interest of leaders. But maybe this is wrong. Forced to choose between putting democracy or identity first, people may not always pick democracy.” [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — The Authors Who Love Amazon — by Alana Semuels: “For most of Prime Day, Amazon’s annual sales bonanza, an unfamiliar face topped the site’s Author Rank page: Mike Omer, a 39-year-old Israeli computer engineer and self-published author… Omer told me he has now sold more than 10,000 books through Amazon, and that his books have also been borrowed more than 10,000 times on Kindle Unlimited… “What made this possible is Amazon,” he told me. “It can expose me to millions, or tens of millions of readers.” … Omer’s experience has been like a dream, he told me.” [TheAtlantic]

SCENE THE OTHER DAY: “David Geffen headed into port on Sunday, stopping for lunch at La Scoglio with a few friends after spending the day sailing around Capri and southern Italy… The group included musicians Paul McCartney, supermodel Karlie Kloss, designer Misha Nonoo, billionaires Henry Kravis and Barry Diller, Hollywood-agent-turned-media-adviser Michael Kives and venture capitalist Joshua Kushner… Geffen posted about the ‘fabulous lunch’ before later sharing a photo of the group aboard Rising Sun.”[DailyMailInstagram]

SPORTS BLINK: 7-year-old chess champ can’t compete in Tunisia tourney because she’s Israeli: “Schoolgirl Liel Levitan from Haifa is unable to accept an invitation to play in the World Chess Championship because host nation Tunisia will not allow Israelis to compete… The International Judo Federation on Friday stripped the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia from hosting two international tournaments due to their failure to guarantee equal treatment of Israeli athletes.” [ToI

DESSERT — In search of perfect pastrami: Your guide to the Jewish delis of Los Angeles — by Jenn Harris: “While the deli culture in Los Angeles isn’t as robust as in New York City, if you grew up in this city, chances are you can trace at least one significant life moment to the Saran-wrap-laden counters of a Jewish deli.” [LATimes] • How Does the Owner of Katz’s Deli Do His Job? [Slate]

REMEMBERING — Jonathan Gold, Food Critic Who Celebrated L.A.’s Cornucopia, Dies at 57 — by Pete Wells: “Jonathan Gold, the restaurant critic whose curious, far-ranging, relentless explorations of his native Los Angeles helped his readers understand dozens of cuisines and helped the city understand itself, died on Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 57… Mr. Gold wrote about restaurants for Gourmet, California and Los Angeles magazines, but the bulk of his reviews appeared in two newspapers: LA Weekly, where in 2007 he won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, and The Los Angeles Times, where he had been the chief critic since 2012.” [NYT]

BIRTHDAYS: US District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, appointed by President Carter in 1979, assumed senior status in 1999, he is a past President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Judge Avern Cohn turns 94… World-reknowned pianist and conductor, Leon Fleisherturns 90… Banker who distributed $60 million to his 400 employees when he sold City National Bank of Florida in 2008, Leonard L. Abess turns 70… Retired appellate court judge, born in Bucharest, Romania, raised in Los Angeles, at age 35 he was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Reagan, Judge Alex Kozinski turns 68…

Real estate investor who made his fortune in the trade and manufacture of fertilizer in the former Soviet Union, Alexander Rovt turns 66… Freelance journalist and a former reporter and columnist for Glamour magazine, she is the widow of Daniel Pearl and wrote a book about his kidnapping and murder in Pakistan in 2002, Mariane Pearl turns 51… Director of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Museum since 2016, Rachel Goslins turns 49… Dov M. Katz turns 48… Contributor to Time, Joel Stein turns 47… Activist and fashion designer, Monica Lewinsky turns 45… Reporter for The Washington Post, Perry Stein turns 29… Baseball outfielder in the New York Mets organization, he was the starting right fielder for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Zach Borenstein turns 28… Associate at The Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Joseph Stern… Melissa Brown




Daily Kickoff: Zuckerberg clarifies remarks on Holocaust deniers | For many world leaders, the path to DC runs via Bibi | Notorious RBG in Song

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DRIVING THE CONVO — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg caused an uproar yesterday for comments that appeared to defend having Holocaust deniers on his platform

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Kara Swisher on the Recode Decode podcast. “It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.'”

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted“Holocaust victims feared that after they were murdered- they would be forgotten and denied. Mark Zuckerberg did both!”

— ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt added in a statement: “Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews. Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination.”

— Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper: “Holocaust denial is the quintessential ‘fake news.’ The Nazi Holocaust is the most documented atrocity in history, allowing the canard of Holocaust denial to be posted on Facebook, or any other social media platform cannot be justified in the name of  ‘free exchange of ideas’ when the idea itself is based on a falsehood.” [JewishJournal]

— Deborah Lipstadt writes: “What Zuckerberg fails to understand — even though he claims this was not his aim — is that by saying deniers aren’t “intentionally” getting things wrong, he leaves open the possibility that they could be right.” [CNN

Zuckerberg later tried to clarify his remarks: “There’s one thing I want to clear up. I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that,” he wrote in an email to Recode… “These issues are very challenging,” he added, “but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.”

HELSINKI SUMMIT— As Russians describe ‘verbal agreements’ at summit, U.S. officials scramble for clarity — by Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Anton Troianovski: “Important verbal agreements” were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday… Antonov also said that Putin had made “specific and interesting proposals to Washington” on how the two countries could cooperate on Syria. But officials at the most senior levels across the U.S. military, scrambling since Monday to determine what Trump may have agreed to on national security issues in Helsinki, had little to no information Wednesday… Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did not attend Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting with Trump and has not appeared in public this week or commented on the summit.” [WashPost]

— Trump will meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in the Oval Office at noon.

Bret Stephens: “Assuming Mike Pompeo and John Bolton still have their own senses intact, they too should resign following the epic disgrace of the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki on Monday. So should their senior staff.” [NYT]

Iran Says Trump Sought Meeting With President 8 Times at U.N. Last Year — by Rick Gladstone: “White House and State Department officials did not immediately respond to the Iranian assertion, made by President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, at a cabinet meeting… “Trump asked the Iranian delegation eight times to have a meeting with the president,” Mr. Vaezi said… Iran’s Foreign Ministry previously said an American request for a Trump-Rouhani meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly last September had been declined. Some Iranian state media have reported that Mr. Trump even invited Mr. Rouhani for dinner during that period.” [NYTimes

STATE VISIT — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met this morning with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. At a joint press conference ahead of their meeting, Netanyahu called Orban a “true friend of Israel” and praised him for combatting anti-Semitism. [Video]

— “All of the Jewish citizens in Hungary are under the protection of the government,” Orban said, according to a Hebrew translation of his remarks to reporters in Hungarian… “We are proud that in Hungary, self-identifying Jews, who celebrate and preserve Jewish tradition can feel safe.” [Reuters]

 “President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday warned visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban against the rise of neo-fascism, in what appeared to be an unsubtle dig at the right-wing leader. “I know what you are doing against anti-Semitism. I know the efforts. But we have to remember, when we say never again — neo-fascism and neo-fascist groups are a real danger to the very existence of the free world,” Rivlin told Orban, speaking in English. “It brings racism, it brings hatred” against its targets’ faith or nationality, Rivlin added.”[ToI]

DEEP DIVE: Netanyahu and Orbán: An Illiberal Bromance Spanning From D.C. to Jerusalem — by Anshel Pfeffer: “The legendary political strategist Arthur Finkelstein… was recommended to Orbán and masterminded his 2010 reelection campaign. The New York State-based Finkelstein, who passed away last year, only made short, usually secret, appearances in the countries where he advised… The man Finkelstein sent as project manager for the 2010 Orbán campaign was his partner, George Birnbaum, who had previously lived in Israel and worked for Netanyahu as a senior aide in the ’90s. Members of the Chabad synagogue in central Budapest remember the Orthodox Birnbaum going there for prayers and Shabbat lunch, so he could be in walking distance of Orbán’s Saturday rallies.”

“Despite Orbán’s affinity with Trump, he wasn’t high on the new administration’s priority list. “The message that Orbán is in the Trump camp didn’t filter down fast enough to the State Department,” says a well-connected official in Budapest. “Bureaucracies are slow everywhere and Orbán looked to Netanyahu to help him out with that.” … During Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest last year, Orbán asked for assistance, and Israel’s ambassador and Netanyahu confidant Ron Dermer was set to work on opening doors to the administration.” [Haaretz]

The path to Washington passes through Jerusalem — by Ben Caspit: “Until recently, Netanyahu had been viewed in the global arena as a serial liar and con man who could not be trusted… Today, however, Netanyahu is seen as one of the strongest, most well-known leaders in the world, a mega celebrity in global halls of influence and a mover and shaker on the international stage. Everybody is knocking at his door. Netanyahu has transformed from persona non grata at the White House into the leader with the most influence over the current US president…  Today, the path to Washington passes through Jerusalem. This fact is clear as day to leaders of the universe.” [Al-Monitor]

TALK OF THE NATION — Israeli parliament passes bill defining country as the nation-state of the Jewish people — by Noga Tarnopolsky: “The new law defines Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish nation, with “a singular right to national self-determination within it.” “This is a defining moment,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said immediately after the bill passed. “Long live the state of Israel!” … Arab members of Israel’s parliament confronted Netanyahu as he left the venue. “You passed an apartheid law, a racist law!” shouted Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Arab Joint List. “Why are you afraid of the Arabic language?” Netanyahu replied: “How dare you talk this way about the only democracy in the Middle East?”” [LATimes]

PIC OF THE DAY — Netanyahu was spotted reading the Economist magazine in the Knesset plenum as the vote proceeded through the night. [Pic] • Bibi also participated in a selfie with controversial Likud MK Oren Hazan, famously known for the Trump selfie [Pic

TALK AT THE UN — Palestinians protest US visa denial to experts to come to UN — by Edith Lederer: “The Palestinians are protesting the U.S. refusal to grant visas to six experts from the prime minister’s office to come to the United Nations to present a report on Palestinian implementation of U.N. goals for 2030. The Palestinian U.N. ambassador, Riyad Mansour, told two reporters Wednesday that Israel “complicated the matter” by refusing to allow several of the experts to travel from Ramallah to Jerusalem where the U.S. Consulate is located to check on their visas.” [AP]

HEARD YESTERDAY — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley explained the U.S. withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council is a speech at The Heritage Foundation: “The Human Rights Council has been, not a place of conscience, but a place of politics. It has focused its attention unfairly and relentlessly on Israel… No other country – not Iran, not Syria, not North Korea – has an agenda item devoted solely to it. Agenda Item Seven is not directed at anything Israel does. It is directed at the very existence of Israel.” [Video]

COMING SOON — Chris Christie to ‘set record straight’ in ‘Let Me Finish’ — by Hillel Italie: “Hachette Books confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the former New Jersey governor’s “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics” is scheduled for next January 29. According to a statement from Hachette, Christie plans to “set the record straight” on his time as a key Trump campaign supporter in 2016 and being “unceremoniously booted” from the transition team after Trump’s upset victory… He will provide “frank appraisals” of such fellow Trump insiders as Steve Bannon, Corey Lewandowski and Jared Kushner, whose father, Charles Kushner, was sent to prison when Christie was a federal prosecutor.” [AP]

DNC alleges Secret Service blocked it from serving lawsuit to Jared Kushner — by Kara Scannell and Noah Gray: “The Democratic National Committee tried and failed three times to serve Jared Kushner with a lawsuit at his Manhattan apartment and was turned away by a US Secret Service agent when it attempted to deliver the packet to the White House senior adviser’s Washington, DC, home… The Secret Service agent told the server “figure out another way to attempt service,” the DNC alleged.” [CNN]

2018 WATCH — Democratic House candidate (NY14) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed yesterday that she is learning more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from J Street, Jewish Voices for Peace, and “Palestinian rights organizations.” Ocasio-Cortez spoke at an event for Mic’s new Facebook Watch program “Mic Dispatch.”

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: New Pritzker investment fund takes in $1.8 billion [Crains] • Comcast Drops Out of Bidding War With Disney for 21st Century Fox Assets [Variety• Viacom to Remain Independent Amid CBS Merger Push, Says CEO [HollywoodReporter] • CBS Directors Had Prior Talks on Contesting Redstone Control [Bloomberg] • Kushner Companies’ $500M plan to create a new mega mall gets OK from N.J. town [NJAdvance] • Martin Selig updates plan for tower on Seattle’s waterfront [BizJournals• Madison Square Garden Announces Lease Deal with Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp for Vegas Sphere Venue [Billboard] • Robert Kraft close to buying Spanish soccer team [NBCSports] • Discovery Extends CEO David Zaslav’s Contract Through 2023 [Variety] • Seymour Stein Is Leaving Warner Music and Sire Records, the Label He Launched 51 Years Ago [Billboard]

MEDIA WATCH — Interview with CBS News president David Rhodes by Marisa Guthrie:  

Your boss, Leslie Moonves, is in a very public skirmish with Shari Redstone, the major shareholder of CBS Corp. Many have speculated that if he loses this battle, he’ll have no choice but to leave the network. So what is CBS without Les?

Rhodes: Leaving aside the corporate governance drama we’ve all read about, we couldn’t have done any of the things you see us doing without not just his support but also his engagement. And that includes the talent, where he always has not just an opinion but an important role in working through these decisions with management.

Did you talk to him about firing Charlie [Rose]?

Rhodes: Every significant decision that happens here, he is a part of.

Including that one?

Rhodes: Absolutely. You wouldn’t do something like that without having the conversation anyplace, but especially here. Not just because that’s the hierarchy but also because he’s really good at this. [HollywoodReporter]

The Atlantic embarking on a hiring spree: “For more than 160 years, says Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine has been “preoccupied by issues of the American idea and American governance and the American presidency.” But the Atlantic is now embarking on a “radical expansion of our coverage,” says Goldberg, which entails ramping up daily coverage of these core areas.” [MorningMedia]

Gaza startup struggles to recover after Israeli airstrike — by Najib Jobain and Fares Akram: “The office of Haweya for Information Technology was among dozens of buildings damaged on Saturday in a flare up violence between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza… The startup was featured in an Associated Press story in 2015 as a model of the emerging high-tech entrepreneurship trying to overcome Gaza’s isolation and access restrictions… Its owner and founder, Mohammed Qudih, estimated the damages from the airstrike at around $13,000.” [AP]

With Weddings in Cyprus, Israelis and Lebanese Bridge a Divide — by Ben Hubbard: “Where are you from?” a Lebanese bride asked a wedding party at an adjacent table one morning. “Israel,” a man in the party responded. The bride’s eyes widened. She murmured that she was from Lebanon. “Ahlan wa sahlan,” the Israeli man said, Arabic for “welcome.” “Are you getting married today?” the Israeli bride asked. The Lebanese bride nodded. “Congratulations, and good luck,” the Israeli bride said. Later, the Lebanese couple asked that their names not be published for fear of legal trouble at home, where interactions with Israelis can be treated as a crime. “The media around you, they say it is forbidden to be in the same place, that they are the enemy,” the Lebanese bride said. “But they are people, too.” [NYTimes]

Israel Detains Conservative Rabbi for Performing non-Orthodox Weddings — by Aaron Rabinowitz, Josh Breiner and Noa Shpigel: “Rabbi Dov Haiyun of Moriah Congregation in Haifa… was detained following a complaint filed against him by the Rabbinical Court in Haifa for allegedly “marrying those who are not eligible to be married.” … The incident was the first time police attempted to enforce a 2013 law forbidding performing weddings outside the Rabbinate.” [Haaretz]

SPORTS BLINK — ‘Not an Ending, But a Beginning’ for Israel Lacrosse — by Hillel Kuttler: “Forty-six national teams stood behind their flags for the opening ceremony of the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship last Thursday evening at Netanya Stadium. The pageantry — rhythmic gymnastics-like dancers, songs, official welcomes, referees’ oaths and fireworks — capped a stunning doubleheader for David Lasday, Israel Lacrosse’s chief operating officer. Moments earlier on the same turf, his club had defeated Jamaica, 11–3, in its opener.” [USLaxMag]

More than 140 survivors of sexual abuse honored with Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPYs — by Michael Rothman: “Aly Raisman listed off the many years that women spoke up and then were told, “You are wrong.” “For too long, we were ignored,” she said… Raisman appeared on “Good Morning America” the morning of the awards show to speak about what this honor means to her and the other survivors. “Getting that award with this incredible army of survivors is very, I mean, it’s hard to put into words,” she said. “I don’t even know if it’s really sunk in yet.” “We’ve all been through something really horrible, but we’re all gonna get through it together,” she added.” [ABCNewsVanityFair]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Lakewood church marks 150 years amid rapid growth of Orthodox Jewish faith — by Stacey Barchenger: “While Lakewood has become a bastion of faith, it’s not the kind that keeps parishioners coming through the white, lattice-windowed front doors of First Presbyterian. Today, Lakewood is best known for its thriving Orthodox Jewish population. An estimated two-thirds of the township’s more than 100,000 residents are Jewish, an increase from about a third of the population in 2000.” [AsburyParkPress]

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life Immortalized In Song — by Nina Totenberg: “The new album Notorious RBG in Song is available now on Cedille Records. Some of the lyrics are based on letters to RBG, which her husband Marty compiled into a book for the Justice’s 50th birthday.” [NPR]

DESSERT — Inside Beyond Meat’s innovative future food lab — by Rina Raphael: “Beyond Meat is no longer the small startup competing against the humble black bean burger. The plant-based meat substitute maker has sold 13 million burgers since its 2016 debut and just last week admitted it is having trouble meeting demand after multiple Whole Foods stores ran out. Beyond Meat constantly tweaks its bestselling burger–the brand plans to soon release its third iteration. Constant tweaking isn’t simple for a company that refuses to incorporate gluten or GMOs, which competitors like the Impossible Burger rely on.” [FastCompany]

Subres Grill Brings the Middle East to North Miami — by Juliana Accioly: “In 1980, Etty Weinberg was vacationing in her native Israel when a friend introduced her to Eli, a young man who, like her, loved to travel and eat. Their hunger for running a business together and experimenting with various cuisines is at the heart of Subres Grill, their kosher restaurant in North Miami.” [MiamiNewTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz turns 65… Johannesburg resident Monty Lasovsky turns 83… Interactive designer, author and artist, in 1986 he married Caroline Kennedy, Edwin Arthur “Ed” Schlossberg turns 73… Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University, he served in the Dutch Senate (1999-2010) and then as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (2010-2012), Uriel “Uri” Rosenthal turns 73… Entrepreneur, hotelier and real estate developer, often referred to as the creator of the boutique hotel concept, he gained fame in 1977 as co-founder of NYC’s Studio 54, Ian Schrager turns 72… Author of three books on baseball, long-time sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN writer and co-host, Jayson Stark turns 67… Chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings (owner of retailers Sears and Kmart), Edward Scott “Eddie” Lampert turns 56…

Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times reporter and author of “The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men,” Eric Lichtblau turns 53… Israeli actress, model and film producer, Yael Abecassis turns 51… Spokesperson to the Arab media in the Israel Prime Minister’s Office, Ofir Gendelman turns 47… Co-Chairman and CEO of of CheckAlt, an independent provider of treasury and lockbox solutions, Shai Stern turns 44… Entrepreneur, two-time author and strategic marketing consultant, Alexis Blair Wolfer… Founder, CEO and Director at TradeRoom International, Ezra David Beren turns 33… ProPublica reporter Isaac Arnsdorf turns 29… Henry Emmanuel Hublet… Zach Houghton

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…