Daily Kickoff: Spinning Ossoff’s loss | Heard at Herzliya | What Yossi Klein Halevi told Jason Greenblatt | Israel’s missing Yemenite children affair


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GA06 ELECTION RESULTS: Democrat Jon Ossoff fell short in his bid for a vacant U.S. House seat, losing to Republican Karen Handel by almost 4 percentage points.

Ossoff’s loss means that Georgia still awaits its first Jewish member of Congress since Democrat Elliott Levitas left office in 1985… “About 8 percent of the district is Jewish, representing 40 percent or more of the population of Jewish Atlanta. It was a long night for those who campaigned for Ossoff, such as lawyer Matt Weiss, a member of the American Jewish Committee ACCESS steering board… “It’s obviously disappointing. It’s a very Republican district, so it’s always going to be tough,” Weiss said. “He made enormous progress in taking what was an 8- or 9-point Republican district and coming very close. Hopefully he’ll have another opportunity to do something else in politics.” [ATLJewishTimes• What Kind Of Democrat Will Be The Next Jon Ossoff? [BuzzFeed]

RJC Board Member Phil Rosen‏: “Most important for Israel – this was a resounding defeat of J Street which raised a chunk of the $26mm Osoff raised for this election.” [Twitter]

J Street spokeswoman Jessica Rosenblum tells us… “JStreetPAC is proud to have supported Jon Ossoff, who managed a double-digit swing in a district no one thought would have been competitive a year ago, all while standing up for the nuclear agreement with Iran, supporting bold US leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and making the case for keeping our doors open to refugees. We are under no illusion as to the hard work that lies ahead of the 2018 elections, as we work to build a bulwark in Congress to protect and defend diplomacy-first policies. We are focused, energized and ready for the fight.”

Dem strategist Aaron Keyak emails: “It would have been much better if Ossoff won — and he was closer than anyone initially expected — but the Republican euphoria about holding onto a Republican seat is premature. They should be happy this morning but yesterday’s election is only one data point in an intense campaign leading up to the midterms. The fight continues. Lots of work to do.”

“What Democrats can learn from spending $30M on a House race — and losing” by John Podhoretz: “That $30 million could’ve funded six House races next year in which Democrats would’ve had a better shot than they did here… The Georgia results ought to be a warning shot for Democrats, not a battle cry. They have to be smarter. They have to spend their money more wisely. They have to win where they can, not where they hope to. As for Republicans and Trump: They, too, need to be cold-eyed and ruthless about what last night meant… Triumphalism would be short-sighted and foolish. This was no triumph. They dodged a bullet.” [NYPost]

Kellyanne Conway tweeted last night after the results came in: “Laughing my #Ossoff” [Twitter]

Representative Jacky Rosen (D-NV) confirmed to Jewish Insider that she plans on running against incumbent Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) in 2018. Rosen’s statement is the first on-the-record confirmation from the Congresswoman of her Senate campaign. Rosen’s spokesperson added that a formal announcement would come shortly. [JewishInsider]

JARED IN ISRAEL — Kushner lands in Israel, rushes to visit Malka family: “Kushner touched down in Israel on Wednesday morning before paying a visit to the family of 23-year-old MSG. Hadas Malka, who was murdered last Friday in a combined shooting and stabbing terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City… He was joined by US Ambassador David Friedman… A close friend of the Malka family said that the duration of the visit lasted for approximately half an hour. “He offered the condolences to the bereaved family from the US president, who spoke to his son-in-law on the way and asked that he be kept updated about the visit,” the friend said. “(Kushner) said that the President himself asked him to express condolences on behalf of the United States.”” [YNetNYPost]

Jared then visited Prime Minister Netanyahu and was joined in the meeting by Amb. David Friedman, Jason Greenblatt and Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer [PicsVideo]

Norm Eisen on Kushner’s visit: “I am of the school that you should always try. And I think, based on my own experience, it is no disadvantage if – like Trump, Greenblatt and Kushner – you are strongly associated with one side (with Israel). I frequently hosted Israelis and Palestinians on economic matters in Prague, using it as a meeting place away from the conflict. I think that everybody knew that I was a fervent Zionist and nobody cared. If anything, it enabled me to credibly push people towards the middle… But there’s a big caveat. The one thing you shouldn’t do is to excite beyond realistic expectations because when those expectations are disappointed, it can have consequences, including violence in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem. But even though I tend to be critical of this administration in other areas, I do think that they have, so far, avoided that, and they are proceeding in a careful way.”

Yesterday, Jason Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem. No readouts were provided by the Prime Minister’s Office or the White House after the meeting.

What Yossi Klein Halevi told Jason Greenblatt — by Jacob Kornbluh: Greenblatt also met yesterday with noted Israeli author and columnist Yossi Klein Halevi and tweeted about it. In an email to Jewish Insider, Klein Halevi said he shared with Greenblatt his belief that the administration would be wise to focus on mediating an interim agreement rather than a comprehensive deal, “which I don’t believe is possible anytime soon,” he wrote. “I also said that there’s not much that the Palestinian leadership can really offer Israel — or is willing to offer Israel — and that the most likely tradeoff Israel will get for concessions in the territories will come from our Arab neighbors in the form of normalization.”

Klein Halevi praised Greenblatt’s approach to the region: 
“Jason Greenblatt is a superb listener. At least at this stage, he’s come to listen more than to speak. After years of hearing lectures from the Obama administration, this is a refreshing change.” [JewishInsider

“Trump Administration Pressuring Israel to Move Ahead With Peace Deal, Senior Israeli Minister Moshe Kahlon
 Says” by Barak Ravid: “There’s mounting American pressure to advance a deal,” Moshe Kahlon told a conference in central Israel on Tuesday. “Something has happened. The American government feels it can reach an agreement, maybe because the good ties with the Israeli government allow Trump more influence than was possible during Obama’s term.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — Herzliya conference highlights — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: 
Dozens of politicians, defense officials, academics, government officials and experts are convening this week for the Annual Herzliya conference, under the headline “Israel’s Strategic Balance – Opportunities and Risks.” Throughout the three days of the conference, various issues are on the agenda, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, the war against ISIS, the Palestinian peace process and regional peace initiatives. Here are some of the highlights from the first two days:

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on his dialogue with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Kahlon said: “This discourse is important and I am motivated by the interests of the Israeli people – if the Palestinians also benefit from it – I don’t mind. I am careful not to get into political issues. Hamdala told me, ‘We are doing a good job between us, the PA is satisfied with the economic ties, but without a political agreement it is very difficult.’ I think that the Palestinians aren’t ready for a political agreement. I got that impression from conversations with them. Who’s right: us or them? The truth is somewhere in the middle. They themselves say: Let’s get through these years. We have internal problems, problems with Gaza, etc. I don’t see them going now in the direction of an agreement.”

Ambassador Dennis Ross on the regional peace efforts: “There is a strange paradox today. There is a desperation amongst Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states for the US to stay in the region. There is a desire to ensure that the US isn’t going to retreat, and there is fear that after Raqqa and Mosul that the US may say mission accomplished and won’t stay there. That gives the Trump administration leverage with them. If the administration uses the leverage and says: OK – here is what we want from you on the peace issue they may well do that, but they will say if we are going to reach out to Israelis we have to show that we are delivering something for the Palestinians which they cannot deliver themselves.”

Former Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo: “I don’t think that a real move within the Arab countries will happen before they see something on the Palestinian issue. We might have excellent security and intel relationships but to make a real move will be only after we see some kind of movement by the Israeli government towards some kind of solution with the Palestinians.”

Former Obama advisor and CFR fellow Phil Gordon: “I will be surprised if anyone has success on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It was hard or unreachable for the past 30 years but arguably the conditions are worse now. Abbas is now 82 years old, in the 12th year of his 5 year term.  He is just not in a position to make political concessions that he can sell to his public. I don’t think the conditions are ripe for that ultimate deal. Saudis said to me in private discussions that ‘Israel is not killing us – Iran and ISIS are killing us’ but that doesn’t mean that they are willing to play the public role that would be necessary to give the Palestinians the cover.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Saudi King Salman Ousts Nephew as Crown Prince, Installs Son” by  Nicholas Parasie, Margherita Stancati and Summer Said: “The new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is the elderly monarch’s 31-year old son and minister of defense… He replaces as crown prince Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a nephew of the king, who was stripped of all his positions, including interior minister. His ouster effectively ends the political career of a royal who was one of Washington’s most trusted security partners and was known as the country’s counterterrorism czar.” [WSJ] • State Department Demands Saudis Prove Terror Allegations Against Qatar [WSJNYTimes

Dan Shapiro writes: “For Israelis, a dynamic Saudi leader who shares their strategic outlook and openly acknowledges that it places them in the same camp, is nearly a dream come true. At the same time, MBS has demonstrated a penchant for confrontation with neighbors and adversaries quite unlike previous Saudi rulers, and his campaigns have not always been well-coordinated with the United States.” [Haaretz]

ON THE HILL – New sanctions on Russia and Iran hit House roadblock” by Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian: “The sanctions bill, known as the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, passed the Senate last week on a 98-to-2 vote. But this week, House staff flagged the bill for violating the constitutional provision that only the House can originate bills raising revenue for the government… House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has supported stronger sanctions on both Russia and Iran but has not specifically committed to bringing the Senate bill to the House floor… Rep. Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee… [called] the roadblock “nothing but a delay tactic” and said “anything short of an up-or-down vote on this tough sanctions package is an attempt to let Russia off the hook.” … If the House committees each get an independent shot at the bill, “it’ll be a big mess,” said one senior Senate Democratic aide.”[WashPost

WHAT THE WEST WING IS READING… “The Trump administration is working to free American hostages in Iran” by Josh Rogin: “The Trump administration has quietly ramped up its involvement in trying to free two Iranian Americans being held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, including one who is in very poor health. The effort is now not only a focus of the administration’s approach to Iran, but also part of an overall increase of attention to the plight of Americans held unjustly abroad.” [WashPost] • Detained Americans Fast Facts [CNN]

“Ivanka Trump on Capitol Hill, teams up with Rubio on tax reform” by Ashley Killough, Grace Hauck and Emily Karl: “Ivanka Trump met privately Tuesday morning for about an hour with Sen. Marco Rubio and other lawmakers on the Capitol Hill to discuss “pro-family” tax reform… Nebraska Rep. Deb Fischer, who introduced a bill this year to give tax credits to companies offering paid maternity and paternity leave, participated in Tuesday’s meeting… Fischer said the discussions are “still in the talking stage” and the point of the meeting was to make the White House “aware of what we all have here in the Senate and also in the House.”” [CNN• Rubio, Ivanka joke about ‘alleged’ failed hug [AP

“Nikki Haley Tells UN: States Supporting Terror Group Hamas Should Face Consequences” by Amir Tibon: “The United Nations Security Council gathered on Tuesday for a periodic discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with America’s envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, saying that states that support Hamas should pay a price for it. “We need to pressure Hamas to end its tyranny over the people of Gaza, we should name Hamas as the group responsible when rockets are fired from Gaza, and designate it as a terror organization in a resolution with consequences for anyone who supports it,” she said. “We stand with Israel against forces of terror,” she said.” [Haaretz] • Israel flouting U.N. Security Council settlement demand: U.N. envoy [Reuters]

TRUMP TRANSITION: “Grenell under consideration to be ambassador to Germany” bu Josh Dawsey: “Richard “Ric” Grenell, a former United Nations official and prominent backer of President Donald Trump, is under consideration to be ambassador to Germany… It is unclear if Grenell will get the nod, officials said, as internal disagreements remain about a number of ambassador jobs… The 50-year-old Grenell is often acerbic on Twitter… He is generally perceived as intelligent about foreign affairs. But he is also seen as “potentially problematic,” according to one White House official.” [Politico

“Why Trump’s Foreign Policy Can’t Be Stopped” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: “Trump lives in a Darwinian dog-eat-dog world where America needs to look to its own interests and cut the best deals it can — allies and adversaries be damned (perhaps minus Putin)… Trump also benefits because in [James] Mattis he has an experienced, intelligent, and sensible advisor who understands and accepts America’s responsibilities for global leadership and spends much of his time advising U.S. allies to ignore the tweetstorms from the man behind the curtain. Vice President Mike Pence, [Rex] Tillerson, and [H. R.] McMaster have also helped to calm the jittery nerves of allies… and, in the process, provide cover and legitimacy to Trump’s behavior.” [FP]

“Trump’s Not Ready for a Crisis: The White House national security team is still in transition, nearly five months on” — by Douglas Lute, who recently served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO: “We pay a heavy price for the ongoing extended transition. Without the team in place and procedures set, decision-making becomes ad hoc and unpredictable, leading to mistakes and poor execution. Coordination suffers, as the players are not on the same page, leading to misstatements and a perception of internal disputes… While we undergo this too-slow transition, the world continues to spin. Without our national security team and process in place, we are living on borrowed time before we confront a significant national security crisis that overnight becomes our first priority. Opponents deliberately will test us, friends will move on in their own interests, natural disasters will happen… We cannot afford 2017 to be a year of endless transition.” [PoliticoMag]

“Trump’s silent surge in the Middle East — and the slippery slope to war” by John Podesta and Brian Katulis: “In the Middle East’s tinderbox, for every action there’s a reaction, and it is not clear that the Trump administration has thought through what could go wrong — such as the possibility of slipping into a direct war with Iran or U.S. troops facing chemical weapons attacks by the Islamic State… The United States needs to work with partners to defeat terrorist groups and counter destabilizing policies from countries such as Iran. But in five months, the Trump administration has exposed the country to greater risks without a clear strategy.” [WashPost] 

** 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: An insider describes the Bayrock Group, its links to the Trump family and its mysterious access to funds. It isn’t pretty. [Bloomberg] • Israeli-owned Dutch company in legal battle over fiber optics in Miami[JPost] • Israeli plastics company opens first U.S. operations in Gaston County[Bizjournals• Intel to collaborate with Israel’s Team8, Illusive on cybersecurity [ReutersFortune• Israeli blockchain companies that shoot for the stars [CNBC• Josh Kushner’s Oscar Health Will Expand Obamacare Footprint In Five States [ForbesBloomberg] • Uber Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns as CEO [NYTimes] • The summer of Alice Rogoff’s discontent [MustReadAlaska]

“Mnuchin Says He Divested Stake in Hollywood Financing Company” by Anousha Sakoui and Max Abelson: “The Treasury secretary, who had promised to sell his stake in a Hollywood financing company known as RatPac-Dune by last week, said in a filing released Tuesdaythat he has completed all divestitures under his ethics agreement… That would mean the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive and one-time hedge fund manager will no longer back major motion pictures such as “Wonder Woman” while helping run the economy for President Donald Trump.” [Bloomberg

SOUND BITES – Michael Bloomberg talked Trump last night on CNN’s AC360: “Donald Trump.. had a saying, ‘make America great again.’ I don’t know what ‘again’ means, but ‘America’? That’s patriotic. And ‘great’ — that’s a good word. And I thought it’s not quite that simple. But we do live in a world of 140 characters. And slogans matter… I never understood… why Hillary couldn’t find somebody to give her a good tagline. That’s what she should have done I always thought.” [JewishInsider]

“The Secret Room, the Nazi Artifacts and an Argentine Mystery” by Russell Goldman: “In a hidden treasure room dedicated to celebrating the Third Reich, Argentine police officers have found a trove of Nazi artifacts, including a bust of Hitler, that they believe were taken to the country by fugitive Germans… The police also found toys and musical instruments, including a box of harmonicas, emblazoned with swastikas and Nazi symbols, that would have been used to indoctrinate children… “We know the history, we know of the horrible experiments conducted by Josef Mengele,” said Ariel Cohen Sabban, president of the Delegation of Israelite-Argentines Associations, the country’s largest Jewish organization. “When I see these objects,” Mr. Sabban said, “I see the infamy of that terrible era of humanity that has caused so much damage, so much sadness.”” [NYTimes]

“Missing babies: Israel’s Yemenite children affair” by Yolande Knell: “In the years after the creation of the Israeli state hundreds of babies went missing. Their parents, mostly Jewish immigrants from Yemen, were told their children had died, but suspicions linger that they were secretly given away to childless families – and newly released documents have revealed some disturbing evidence…”

“Working with [MK] Nurit Koren, MyHeritage, a company that researches family ancestry, recently began offering help to Yemenite Jews who have a missing child, or who think they were secretly adopted. Leah Aharoni, who has long been convinced that her daughter, Hanna, could be alive and searching for her biological family, gave a DNA sample… to be checked against others in a new database for Yemenite-Israelis. “I want to find out where my daughter went. I want her to know that I didn’t abandon her, that I love her,” Leah says… A few months ago, Yehuda Kantor became the first person to be reunited with his biological family through the MyHeritage testing programme.” [BBC

“Why Have Jewish Orgs. Been Silent About Otto Warmbier’s Death?” by Liel Leibovitz: “Otto Warmbier, an American student at the University of Virginia—who was active in Hillel and who went on Birthright, where he received a Hebrew name—died yesterday after being arrested and tortured by North Korea. You’d think that the cluster of handsomely funded Jewish organizations that fly the banner of promoting and protecting Jewish life in America and abroad would notice and acknowledge Warmbier’s murder. So far, though, American Jewish officialdom has been deafeningly silent. The odious Anne Frank Center… didn’t bother taking a break from bashing Donald Trump to lament a young Jew put to death by the world’s worst offender of human rights. Nor did the ADL, an organization quick to stand up with Linda Sarsour as she denied Jews their right to self-determination but not so swift when the victim was a young Jewish man whose crime was pulling a silly prank at his hotel.” [Tablet• Otto Warmbier’s family objects to autopsy [NYPost

MEDIA WATCH — “Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump surrogate, now defends him as a Sinclair TV pundit” by Paul Farhi: “In his initial pieces for Sinclair, the owner of the largest string of TV stations in the nation, Epshteyn has played much the same role he did during the presidential campaign — as a Trump booster and defender. His “Bottom Line With Boris” segments have echoed positions taken by Trump himself… Epshteyn appears by himself on his two-minute segments, making him more akin to commentators such as Fox’s Sean Hannity or MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.” [WashPost]

“Under New Editor, Adelson’s Israel Hayom Quietly Getting Less Netanyahu Friendly” by Nati Tucker: “[Boaz] Bismuth also has more ambitious editorial plans than his predecessor Amos Regev did… Bismuth is pressing reporters to get scoops and is highlighting them on the front page. He is also following the advice of the U.S. consulting team and making the newspaper’s website more dynamic. Breaking stories and scoops now go up on the site before they appear in the newspaper. For readers, however, the biggest change of all is how Israel Hayom presents itself. It is quietly trying to jettison the image of Netanyahu’s newspaper and become a newspaper of the center-right… Photos of Sara Netanyahu attending events or traveling with her husband abroad, once a staple of the paper, have largely disappeared from its pages. But articles that present the prime minster in a bad light still don’t get published.” [Haaretz]

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — American novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon on Israel national radio: “Every morning I wake up and in the seconds before I turn my phone on to see what the latest news is, I have this boundless sense of optimism and hope that this is the day that [Trump] is going to have a massive stroke and be carted out of the White House on a gurney. And every day, so far, I have been disappointed in that hope, but, you know, hope springs eternal.” [Kann]

Israel Prime Minister Compares Peace Policy to NFL Football: “Netanyahu told a group of NFL Hall of Famers that his approach to peace is “no different” from how a football player prepares for victory … be strong or else. The meeting was arranged by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft… “You seek peace but you’ve got to be strong. If you’re not strong you’ll never get peace and if you’re not strong you’ll be more in turmoil and the worst thing is you’ll lose… Your game is no different from ours. The only difference is if we lose the consequences are immutable. And we’ve had enough of that in our history. So we won’t let that happen again.”” [TMZ]

“Jim Brown meets with Browns Backers of Israel” by Andrew Gribble: “Browns legend Jim Brown met Tuesday with the Israel chapter of Browns Backers as he traveled through the country with 17 other Pro Football Hall of Famers. Brown is participating in the weeklong “Touchdown in Israel II”…  The Browns Backers Worldwide (BBW) is considered to be one of the largest organized fan clubs in all of professional sports with members and Clubs established throughout the world.” [CLVBrowns]

Israeli Alon Day is set to make NASCAR debut: “Alon Day will become the first driver from Israel to ever compete in NASCAR’s top series next weekend in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 driving the BK Racing No. 23 EarthWater Limited Toyota Camry. Day, a 25 year-old native of Tel Aviv, Israel, was named Israel’s 2016 “Athlete of the Year”… “I’m very excited to make my debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next week in Sonoma,” said Day. He continued, “Being the first Israeli who is going to race in NASCAR’s highest Series is a dream come true.”” [RacingNews]

DESSERT: “Hidden message reveals ancient soldiers’ thirst for wine” by Chris Mercer: “Scientists from Tel Aviv University used ground-breaking image technology to uncover an eroded message on the shard of pottery, found near the site of an ancient fortress and dating to around 600 BC. Their research revealed an order for wine, oil and flour, most likely from soldiers stationed at the fortress, located near to the modern-day Israeli city of Arad… ‘It begins with a request for wine – “If there is any wine, send [quantity]” – as well as a guarantee for assistance if the addressee has any requests of his own,’ researchers said.” [Decanter]

“Christian-Born Teaneck Pizza Shop Owner Feels Connected To Kosher Community” by Cecilia Levine: “A Jewish star hangs around Hanna Mendez’ neck as she tends to business in her Teaneck store. But Mendez, who recently took over Cedar Lane’s Pizzalicious — and added frozen yogurt section Berrylicious to it — is not Jewish: She was born and raised a Christian in Mexico. “People will never understand when you’re not Jewish but you feel that you are,” said Mendez of White Plains, N.Y. “It’s something that pulls so hard.” [DailyVoice]

“Restaurant Review: Is This Silver Lake Israeli Spot Worth the Hype?” by Besha Rodell: “Chef-owner Conor Shemtov… grew up in Los Angeles, but his father is Israeli, and he’s spent a lot of time eating in Israel. As such, this is being billed as an Israeli restaurant, a distinction that’s becoming common as a catch-all designation for restaurants with jumbled Middle Eastern influences.” [LAWeekly]

** FRIDAY NIGHT IN ASPEN: For the second year in a row, Jewish Insideris partnering with OneTable and The Paul E. Singer Foundation to host a Fridaynight dinner on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival. The dinner, on June 30th, will also feature an upscale Israeli and California wine tasting from our own Yitz Applbaum. The dinner is open to all – whether you’re 25 or 65, we’ve got a seat at the table for you. RSVP Here [OneTable] **

BIRTHDAYS: Former member of the US House of Representatives (1993-1995), mother-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Marjorie Margolies (formerly known as Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky) turns 75… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Charles of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi which became the largest in the world, appointed to the House of Lords in 1996, Baron Maurice Saatchi turns 71… UK cabinet minister in both the Thatcher and Major governments, Sir Malcolm Leslie Rifkind turns 71… Creditors rights’ attorney at Chicago-area Blitt & Gaines, David Stephen Miller turns 67… Senior counselor at The Reis Group, a PR firm, since 2013, following 32 years of experience as an award-winning journalist with The Washington Post, Peter Perl turns 67… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party since 2013, he was the head of Jerusalem branch of the Israel Police (2000-2003) and then an attache at the Israeli embassy in Washington, Mickey Levy turns 66… Washington Institute fellow and adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins SAIS, David Makovsky turns 57… Former general manager of Bloomberg Politics, Tanya Rebecca Singer turns 44… Former Trump aide, hired and fired three times, Sam Nunberg turns 36… Born in Melbourne, Australia, now living in San Francisco, co-founder and CEO of Kaggle, a data science platform acquired by Google in March 2017, Anthony Goldbloom turns 34… Director of communications and marketing at the New York Community Trust, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, David L. Marcus… Susan Gutman… Daniel Padilla

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Daily Kickoff: Hear the voice of Jared | Dina Powell visits AIPAC | Flip Side: Israel’s complicated relationship with neighbors makes its food so good


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DRIVING THE DAY — GA06 SPECIAL: “Both Parties Look to Georgia to Send a Message” by Clare Foran: “The special election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is down to the wire and too close to call as voters head to the polls on Tuesday to decide who will replace former Republican representative Tom Price, who now serves as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.” [TheAtlantic]

The debate over Jon Ossoff’s “outsider” status reveals the core of the race” by Jeff Stein: “Though born in the district, Ossoff, 30, is the son of an Australian immigrant mother and a Jewish father of Russian-Lithuanian descent. He would be only the second Jew elected to represent Georgia in Congress, and the first in decades.” [Vox]

RJC’s Matt Brooks emails: “The GA 6 race has taken on national significance as the Democrats have tried now for the 3rd time (MT/KS and now GA) to make this a referendum on President Trump. The candidate they’ve chosen is a young, inexperienced Junior staffer who doesn’t live in the district and who worked for a Congressman who called Jewish settlers “termites.” In addition Ossoff has been heavily funded by J Street. Karen Handel by comparison is an accomplished and highly qualified candidate. The RJC has worked hard on her behalf and has raised very significant money for her. In the end while this will be a close race, I’m confident that by tonight Karen Handel will be the next Congresswoman from that district.”

Democratic donor Andrew Weinstein tells us: “Georgia 6 is a reliably Republican district that’s been in GOP hands since 1979. Tom Price won the district by 23 points in 2016 and Romney carried it in 2012 by the same margin. That a 30 year old Democrat who has never held elected office before is even competitive there should cause some sleepless nights for Republicans regardless of the outcome. President Trump currently has a 38% approval rating. When a Presidents approval is below 50%, their party typically loses somewhere around 30 seats in the House. The Democrats need a net pickup of 24 seats to retake the majority. Though the midterms are still a long way away, and a lot can happen between now and then, an Ossoff win will be viewed by many as a sign of a wave election. That perception alone is guaranteed to impact incumbent retirements, candidate recruitment, fundraising, & grassroots enthusiasm. Once that wave starts to build, it’s hard to stop it.”

“Jon Ossoff’s secret weapon in tight Georgia race: Jewish moms and daughters” by Ron Kampeas: 
“Ossoff… has cultivated Jewish voters: Leah Fuhr, the campaign’s political affairs manager, has organized a number of outings for Jews for Ossoff… Fuhr says she is surprised at the strength of Jewish support. “Jews here tend to lean more Republican than nationally,” she says. “But in this election, he’s getting more Jewish support.” … But talk to his Jewish backers and the first issues they mention are universal: women’s rights and Trump’s pledge to roll back the health care reforms of his predecessor, Barack Obama.” [JTA

EXCLUSIVE — Dina Powell visited AIPAC’s Board — by Aaron Magid: 
White House Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell accepted an invitation to meet with AIPAC’s National Board over lunch last week where she had a broad range foreign policy discussion on the latest developments in the Middle East and, in particular, those relating to Israel. AIPAC Spokesman Marshall Wittmann confirmed the meeting in an email to Jewish Insider on Monday. “We were pleased to host Ms. Powell at our Board meeting, and we had a good exchange of views and perspectives,” Wittmann said. [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Jared Kushner Is About to Plunge Into Middle East Diplomacy” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman: 
“A senior administration official said Mr. Kushner’s trip to the Mideast had been planned for several weeks… Several officials said this could be the first trip in which Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt delved into the nitty-gritty of a possible peace agreement — borders, security and other questions that have bedeviled American peacemakers for decades — by asking both sides to list their priorities for negotiations… Mr. Kushner’s participation, officials said, will raise the stakes for both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.” [NYTimes]

HEARD, NOT SEEN, YESTERDAY — WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer in off-camera, no-audio gaggle: “This is a continuation of the President’s trip and conversations that he began in Israel to further Middle East peace and make incremental changes in the right direction… I think part of it is to figure out how to make incremental change that results in a lasting peace. Part of this is really to utilize the trust that has been built up, and not have these negotiations out in public. But I think that they had a very successful visit when the President was over there and they’re going to continue to build on that.”

–Rosie Gray asked Steve Bannon why White House briefings are now off camera. He texted back: “Sean got fatter.” h/t Yoni Appelbaum [TwitterAtlantic]

“Trump ups the ante in diplomatic process by dispatching Kushner to region” by Herb Keinon: “Kushner’s arrival and involvement in the process “raises the stakes for everyone,” [Daniel] Shapiro said (in a conference call on Monday organized by the Israel Project), with the President’s son-in-law essentially daring each of the parties to say “no.” “My guess is that they won’t… My supposition is that no party will want to say ‘no.’ They may say, ‘ yes, but;’, or, ‘yes, with reservations.’” [JPostToI]

Jason Greenblatt tweets: “Before my meeting with Netanyahu, I met with Yitzhak Molcho this morning. He shared his experience in how to build peace… Ahead of Jared Kushner’s visit to the region, today I met with Palestinian leaders to further our discussions on how to achieve peace… Met with Yossi Klein Halevi today and heard his perspective on peace. Appreciate Yossi’s insight and time.” [Twitter]

Bibi’s tweetstorm: 
“Palestinian President Abbas tells the world that he educates Palestinian children for peace. That’s a lie. Last week, the Palestinian Authority named a public square after Khaled Nazzal, a Palestinian terrorist chief… Naming yet another public square for a mass murderer teaches Palestinian youngsters to murder Israelis. That’s the very opposite of peace… President Abbas: stop poisoning the minds of Palestinian youth. Educate for peace, not terror.” [TwitterNewsweek]

TIMING DEPT: “Ground broken for first new West Bank settlement in 25 years” by Sue Surkes and Jacob Magid: “Netanyahu announced Tuesday that ground had been broken for the construction of the first Israeli West Bank settlement in 25 years. The new settlement, to be known as Amichai, is to accommodate residents of the illegal Amona outpost, which was evacuated in February in line with court orders because it was built on private Palestinian land.” [ToIBBC• Settlement tours: a new frontline in Israel’s ideological conflict [Reuters]

IRAN DEAL: “The CIA’s Secret Talks With Obama’s Arab Back Channel” by Eli Lake: While Obama used Oman’s good relations with Iran to advance his diplomacy with Iran, the Trump administration sees its ties to Iran as a problem. This was part of the delicate message Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and Trump’s deputy national security adviser, General Ricky Waddell, delivered to Qaboos in a secret visit to Muscat on June 11… One U.S. official told me that Pompeo and Waddell were careful not to ask the Sultan to cut ties with Iran. That would be impossible for the Omanis, given their economic dependence on Iran. But the message was clear that Oman should take more action to stop Iran’s resupplying of the Houthis.” [Bloomberg]

TOP TALKER: “Michael Flynn, Trump’s Ex-National Security Adviser, is Target of New House Inquiry Related to His Dealings in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East” by Jeff Stein: “Newsweek reported on June 9 that Flynn had traveled to Egypt and Israel in the summer of 2015 as an adviser on a project to pursue a joint U.S.-Russian-Saudi business venture to develop nuclear facilities located in—and financed by—Saudi Arabia. He did not report that trip… As the Elijah Cummings-Eliot Engel letter on Monday noted, “According to a financial disclosure form that General Flynn submitted after he was fired as National Security Advisor, he did not begin advising X-Co Dynamics Inc./IronBridge Group until August 2015,” two months after his trip to Israel and Egypt.  “I met him in Israel on the end of a two-stop trip,” Thomas Cochran, a physicist advising the ACU group, told Newsweek. “This project makes no sense unless it has the complete support of the Israeli government.””[Newsweek]  

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — “For Jay Sekulow, New Trump Lawyer, Public Stumble Is Out of Character” by Charlie Savage: “Mr. Sekulow was born to a Reform Jewish family in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, according to a first-person account he posted on the website jewsforjesus.org. When he was a teenager, his family moved to Atlanta, where he attended the Atlanta Baptist College because it was a short distance from his house… As a student there, he wrote, he became convinced that Jesus was the savior predicted by Hebrew prophets. “I wasn’t concerned about how my parents would respond,” he wrote. “It didn’t enter my mind that they might be upset. After all, Jesus was a Jew. I knew that much. I didn’t see what the big deal would be about my believing he was the Jewish Messiah.” His parents, he wrote, accepted his decision.” [NYTimes

“Mueller team lawyer brings witness-flipping expertise to Trump probes” by Karen Freifeld: “Andrew Weissmann, who headed the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s team last month, is best known for two assignments – the investigation of now-defunct energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn, New York – that depended heavily on gaining witness cooperation… Kathryn Ruemmler, who served as White House counsel under former President Barack Obama, said Weissmann is willing to take risks to secure witness testimony that other prosecutors might not… “He’s not afraid to lose, and that is sometimes an unusual quality,” Ruemmler said of Weissmann.” [Reuters]

“Let’s Not Get Carried Away” by David Brooks: “There may be a giant revelation still to come. But as the Trump-Russia story has evolved, it is striking how little evidence there is that any underlying crime occurred — that there was any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians… There’s just something worrisome every time we find ourselves replacing politics of democracy with the politics of scandal. In democracy, the issues count, and you try to win by persuasion. You recognize that your opponents are legitimate, that they will always be there and that some form of compromise is inevitable… The politics of scandal is delightful for cable news. It’s hard to build ratings arguing about health insurance legislation. But it’s easy to build ratings if you are a glorified Court TV, if each whiff of scandal smoke generates hours of “Breaking News” intensity and a deluge of speculation from good-looking former prosecutors.” [NYTimes]

“How the Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration” by Peter Beinart: “Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats became more and more confident that the country’s growing Latino population gave the party an electoral edge. To win the presidency, Democrats convinced themselves, they didn’t need to reassure white people skeptical of immigration so long as they turned out their Latino base… As the Democrats grew more reliant on Latino votes, they were more influenced by pro-immigrant activism… Liberals must take seriously Americans’ yearning for social cohesion. To promote both mass immigration and greater economic redistribution, they must convince more native-born white Americans that immigrants will not weaken the bonds of national identity. This means dusting off a concept many on the left currently hate: assimilation.” [TheAtlantic]

2018 WATCH:” Sources: Heller gets Democratic opponent for 2018 race” by Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett: “Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) plans to run against Republican Sen. Dean Heller for his Senate seat in Nevada, according to multiple people familiar with her plans… Rosen is expected to formally announce in a couple weeks, according to one source. The recruitment of Rosen has the strong imprint of former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada… After Reid settled on Rosen, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “closed the deal” and talked to Rosen four or five times to convince her to run, that person said.” [Politico] • Read our recent profile of Rep. Rosen: From Synagogue President to Member of Congress [JewishInsider]  

** 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: Israel’s Bezeq Sinks After Chairman Called Into Securities Probe [Bloomberg] • Inventor Dean Kamen: Next big thing engineered organs, not AI [Axios] • Soros Says U.K. Is Approaching ‘Tipping Point’ as Brexit Bites [Bloomberg] • Amazon Prime Picks up Israeli Comedy Series Worldwide [HollywoodReporter]

VOICE OF JARED — “After 150 days, Jared Kushner speaks” by Michael A. Memoli: “Jared Kushner.. is often seen at the president’s side. But until Monday, he had never been heard by much of the public. So Kushner’s otherwise unremarkable voice proved to be among the more interesting things at the kick-off event of what the White House is calling “Tech Week.” On the administration’s 150th day, the 36-year-old adviser spoke before reporters and television cameras to discuss one of the initiatives he’s leading: a review of how private-sector solutions could be adapted to modernize government’s technological infrastructure… All told, Kushner spoke for just under seven minutes.” [LATimesVideo]

How It Played: Jared Kushner Actually Has A Voice [HuffPost] • Kicking off Tech Week, Jared Kushner rallies tech leaders against floppy disks[TechCrunch] • “He’s a beautiful little bar mitzvah boy reading a speech his father wrote him, the meaning of which largely evades his soft mind.”[TheSlot]

TALK OF OUR NATION: Teen raises $15K to send Holocaust survivor to Israel: “A Southern California teen raised about $15,000 to send an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor to Israel so the man can meet his last living relative and finally receive his bar mitzvah, according to a newspaper report Monday. Drew Principe, 17, said he came up with the idea for a fundraiser after meeting Henry Oster during a school assembly in January. Oster… and his family were deported by Nazis from their home in Cologne, Germany, a few weeks before he was supposed to celebrate his bar mitzvah… He was sent to a few different camps before being liberated at 17 and eventually moving to Los Angeles to become an optometrist. Principe discovered that Oster had never been to Israel, so the teen decided on the spot to give the man a bracelet he had bought on a trip to the Holy Land a few years ago. The bracelet has the Shema, a Jewish prayer, inscribed on it. “It really is a gesture that cannot be measured,” Oster told the Ventura County Star… “I have not taken this off except for the shower.”” [APDailyMail]

“A rabbi, a reverend and an imam have a plan for peace in middleAmerica” by Dan Simon: “Nebraska’s largest city (Omaha) will soon also be known as the home of interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding. A rabbi, a reverend and an imam (no, it’s not a setup joke) are partners in a decadelong quest to bring together the three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — to share and worship on the same property. It’s called Tri-Faith Initiative… The location chosen for the sacred endeavor is the old golf course of Highland Country Club, a “Jewish Club” developed in the 1920s when Jews were excluded from other clubs in the city and around the country… “If you can’t create peace in the Middle East — what about Omaha?” quipped Rabbi [Aryeh] Azriel, [the former senior rabbi at Omaha’s Temple Israel].” [CNN

“‘I felt afraid’: Lawsuit claims public university fostered anti-Semitism on campus” by Susan Svrluga: “A group of students and community members filed a lawsuit Monday against San Francisco State University and its leaders, alleging that the public school has fostered a climate of anti-Semitism “marked by violent threats to the safety of Jewish students on campus.” “I didn’t have the right to speak on my own campus; I felt afraid as a Jewish student,” said Jacob Mandel, who just graduated from San Francisco State… The lawsuit grew out of a confrontation in April 2016 when Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, was invited by SF Hillel to speak. Protesters yelled chants such as “Get the f— off our campus” and “Long live the intifada! Intifada, intifada!” using a microphone and bullhorns to drown out the speaker.” [WashPost

KAFE KNESSET — Kotel fight heats up — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The Western Wall is back on the political agenda, and once again, the Haredi parties and their supporters are pitted against the Conservative and Reform streams of American Jewry. On the heels of demands by Shas and UTJ to Netanyahu that the government cancel its decision to expand a pluralistic section on the southern end of the Western Wall, the Chief Rabbinate came to the Knesset with demands to have its own representation in court, separate from the government, since it disagrees with the Cabinet’s resolution on the egalitarian section.

The Justice Ministry, however, put its proverbial foot down, saying that the government can only present one position to the courts. MKs raucously debated the issue – but the strife came from within the coalition, and there are even disagreements within the Likud. Meanwhile, Likud MK David Amsalem continued his Shas-esque tirades against Reform Judaism, tweeting: “[US President Donald] Trump came to the Kotel, respected Jewish values, and entered the men’s section without his wife. Who doesn’t respect us? Reform. Who wants to help them? Apparently the government and the High Court.” … No word yet on what Trump’s Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt thinks, but he did visit the Kotel, tweeting a photo and that he “prayed for an end to violence and that we would experience the blessings of peace.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

HEARD LAST NIGHT The Atlantic dissects the alt-right at 6th and I — by Aaron Magid: Leading writers from The Atlantic discussed the alt-right’s ideology and its future last night at the 6th and I Synagogue in DC. Commenting on the usage of “America First” to describe the President’s foreign policy, Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg emphasized, “There’s politically correct and there’s Nazi slogans, right? It’s true that human beings can get used to anything but when a leading candidate for President of the US hears a Nazi-ish slogan and continues to use it, that’s a relatively novel experience in modern American politics.”

Political reporter Rosie Gray explained that one of the challenges of covering the alt-right was that there is no actual statistical data quantifying the number of alt-right American activists. Interestingly, she clarified that senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon shouldn’t be characterized as part of the alt-right movement. “Under his (Bannon) leadership, Breitbart has shown itself as alt-right curious but I wouldn’t lump Steve Bannon with Richard Spencer,” Gray said. When asked which member of the Trump administration appears to be most receptive to hardcore nationalist ideas, Gray selected Stephen Miller, the former Congressional aide to Senator Jeff Sessions. “Do they (alt-right) know that he’s (Stephen Miller) Jewish?” Goldberg quipped. [JewishInsider]

MEDIA WATCH: “The Not-So-Bitter Rivalry of Dean Baquet and Marty Baron” by Joe Pompeo: “Baron and Baquet are the two most important newspaper editors in America right now, at a time when the media is tackling the most epic and consequential story of the past 40 years… When it comes to inside reports from intelligence and national security agencies, the Times and the Post, with their expanding rosters of veteran correspondents, have the greatest institutional advantages. In particular, the investigations into whether the Trump team colluded with Russia in the 2016 election have played to the historic strengths of both newspapers. … The result has been a resurgence of ink-stained combat that makes NYT v. WaPo the most compelling journalistic rivalry since the days of Baquet and Baron’s respective forefathers, Abe Rosenthal and Ben Bradlee… Baron was born and raised in Tampa, the son of Jewish immigrants who arrived in the U.S. from Israel via Paris in 1954.” [PoliticoMag]

TRANSITION: “HuffPost’s Sam Stein leaving for the Daily Beast” by Erik Wemple: “Days after HuffPost announced a round of layoffs, one of its longtime voices is making a leap of his own accord: Sam Stein, the site’s senior politics editor, is joining the Daily Beast in a similar capacity… Nearly a decade ago, Stein was among three staffers… who launched the site’s Washington bureau in a one-office room at the Watergate… He covered Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and made history in February 2009 when he became the first legitimate online-only reporter to pose a question to the president at a press conference.” [WashPost

SPOTTED — at the annual New York Board of Rabbis Humanitarian Awards Dinner last night at the Pierre in NYC: Rabbi Joe Potasnik, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Robert Tucker, Vincent Pitta, JCRC’s Michael Miller, William Berger, Steve Cohen, Rabbi Debbie Bravo, Rabbi Lester Bronstein, David Alpert, Michael Lipman, Stefan Sansone, Stephen Palmese, Diana Gerson, WNBC anchor David Price, Meir Laufer, Ezra Friedlander, Pinny Ringel, and Alicia Post.

SPORTS BLINK: “Amar’e Stoudemire has 3 options after ‘roller-coaster’ season in Israel” by Marc Berman: “Amar’e Stoudemire is back from the Holy Land with a championship in tow, and he has not ruled out a return to the NBA — and the Knicks. Stoudemire arrived back in Miami on Sunday after his Hapoel Jerusalem club, despite being the fourth seed in playoffs, captured the Israeli Premier League championship on Thursday with an 83-76 victory over Maccabi Haifa. Now, what’s next? Stoudemire said he enjoyed living in Israel (he’s applied for citizenship). “To play and win a championship my first year there, I could just call it quits and leave as a champion,’’ said Stoudemire, who never made it to the NBA Finals. “That could be an option. Another option is maybe to play with a team that needs quality veteran leadership here in the NBA. That could be an option. Or I could go back and defend the title for a back-to-back. I have time to think about it. Those are my three options.” [NYPost]

Heard in Israel — “Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis: NFL’s been cagey on concussions” by Aron Heller: “Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis says the NFL has taken advantage of its players by not sharing with them all the information it had about the risk of concussions. After viewing an innovation expo in Jerusalem that included a presentation from ElMindA, an Israeli neuro-technology company that can help the NFL diagnose concussions, Bettis said Monday that he was encouraged by the progress but still perplexed about how transparent the league has been over the years.” [AP]

DESSERT: “Israel’s complicated relationship with other nations is what makes its food so good” by Debra Kamin: “On Friday mornings at Dizengoff Center, one of the flagship malls in central Tel Aviv, the term “food court” takes on a whole new meaning. Carts peddling home-cooked dishes from Iraq, Iran and Tunisia are wheeled in, as are those packed with delicacies from Italy, Morocco and old Europe. At the Persian stand, well-dressed young Israelis queue up for Gondi, an Iranian spin on matzo-ball soup; at the Tunisian stall, they grab steaming bowls of chicken and whole eggs in the shell that has been enjoyed in Tunis for centuries…”

“But to Israelis, the Friday food fair at Dizengoff Center is not an EPCOT-style bonanza of foreign cuisine. It is one of the most accurate — and appetizing — cross-sections of Israeli food to be found in the Jewish State. The colorful smorgasbord on hand is both totally Israeli, and also not Israeli as all, because of one simple fact: there is no true definition of Israeli food, because for Israeli food, like Israelis themselves, nationality is complicated.” [Mic]

** FRIDAY NIGHT IN ASPEN: For the second year in a row, Jewish Insideris partnering with OneTable and The Paul E. Singer Foundation to host a Fridaynight dinner on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival. The dinner, on June 30th, will also feature an upscale Israeli and California wine tasting from our own Yitz Applbaum. The dinner is open to all – whether you’re 25 or 65, we’ve got a seat at the table for you. RSVP Here [OneTable] **

BIRTHDAYS: Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro turns 44… Academy Award, SAG and Golden Globe award winning actor, Martin Landau turns 89… Weston, Florida resident Harold Kurte turns 88… Writer, humorist, journalist and author of over 70 books including four series of children’s books, Dan Greenburg turns 81… Born in Baghdad, made aliyah in 1950, served as a member of Knesset for the Ratz party and then the Meretz party (1984-2009), served as Minister of Industry and Trade (1999-2000), Ran Cohen turns 80… Detroit-based pawnbroker, reality TV star, author and speaker, Leslie “Les” Gold turns 67… Senior political editor at NBC News and adjunct professor at CUNY’s Baruch College, Gregg Birnbaum turns 57 (h/t Playbook)… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion, founding editor of Klal Perspectives and popular lecturer on Jewish law, thought and philosophy, Rabbi Moshe Hauer turns 52… Politico’s White House and Justice Department reporter, Josh Gerstein turns 47… Journalist and EMT in NYC, formerly media editor for Gawker and director of public relations for the Village Voice, Maggie Shnayerson turns 36… Jennifer Bernstein turns 32… Associate Executive Director at Hillel Montreal, Beverley Shimansky… Alan Schulman

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Daily Kickoff: Kushner returns to Middle East as he reconsiders his legal team | Meet the ‘Most Kosher Bacon’ in Congress | Sebastian Junger’s Tribe


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KUSHNER STUDYING ABROAD — “Jared Kushner to Travel to Middle East in Effort to Advance U.S. Peace Efforts” by Carol E. Lee: “Mr. Kushner plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss “their priorities and potential next steps” in the peace process, [a] White House official said. He is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday. Jason Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s top representative on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, plans to arrive in the region two days earlier.”

“The White House official stressed that no major breakthroughs are expected during the trip and said there is no expectation for three-party talks at this time. “It’s important to remember that forging a historic peace agreement will take time, and to the extent that there is progress, there are likely to be many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, sometimes together and sometimes separately, to the region,” the official said, “and possibly many trips by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington, D.C., or other locations as they pursue substantive talks.”” [WSJWashPost

Jason Greenblatt tweets: “Excited to be traveling back to Israel and the Pal. territories to continue the discussion about the possibility of peace.”

Why it matters — Aaron David Miller tells us… “First, that despite reports of special counsel investigation into his business dealings, Kushner is determined to signal he’s alive well and working. Second, Trump had made it unmistakably clear that Kushner’s his guy on this issue from the get go. It’s been six months, time to make his debut. Finally, they may believe that sending Kushner will create a greater sense of seriousness and urgency. But what they’re missing is that it’s not the mediator; it’s the parties who won’t make the key decisions. It’s a good thing they’ve signaled there are no breakthroughs on this trip; because there won’t be any.”

KAFE KNESSET — What Kushner and Greenblatt may see — by Tal Shalev: Kushner and Greenblatt intend to continue to promote the administration’s peace efforts, but they might also get a taste of the brewing – even boiling – political tensions their plans are already creating. For instance, during their stay, Kushner and Greenblatt might pass by a protest tent facing the Prime Minister’s office these days. The head of the Beit El Regional Council, Shai Alon, is intensifying his campaign against Netanyahu, demanding the government live up to its 2012 commitment to build 300 new housing units in the settlement… As part of the campaign, the Beit El Regional Council released a video today, headlined “Netanyahu – the man who lies again and again,” and this afternoon residents are planning a rally, and are expected to be joined by Likud and Jewish Home ministers and MKs, who have embraced their demands. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

JI INTERVIEW — Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE) discussed his decades-long military career, support for Israel and what it’s like being a backer of President Donald Trump’s agenda in Congress during an interview with JI’s Aaron Magid. “I was raised in a home where my dad was very pro-Jewish. He taught me early, ‘Those who bless Israel will be blessed,’ quoting Genesis,” Bacon noted. Adding that during his three decades of military service, while serving in Europe and NATO, he worked with Israeli defense officials on missile defense.

The GOP cornhusker enjoys using his last name for political use.During the campaign, he asserted that “a vote for Bacon will always be a vote against pork.” During the interview, the Nebraska lawmaker pointed out that at AIPAC events, he’s frequently introduced as the “most Kosher bacon anybody’s ever met.”

Bacon on Trump’s Middle East peace push: “All of our presidents come in with this vision that we can broker some major peace deal. I’m not convinced we can with the Palestinians until they recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. As long as they are paying families to commit suicide operations, I just don’t see a reasonable chance of an agreement with them. I would have encouraged Trump not to push down that path because I don’t see a good negotiating partner. I just think until the Palestinians show more earnestness in wanting to have peace, I wouldn’t push Israel to do it.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

AIEF BRINGING DC PARTISANS TOGETHER: “Israel trip calms some D.C. tensions” by Daniel Lippman: “A number of former top Trump campaign officials and prominent Democrats say that their trip last week to Israel helped them dial down the bitter partisanship of current-day Washington. Trump campaign alumni Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, former Obama White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, and Paul Begala were among the participants in the seven-day trip that ended Saturday… The trip was sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation and organized by AIPAC political director Rob Bassin; other trip-goers included Juleanna Glover, Corry Bliss, Trey Nix, Brad Todd and Jeffrey Pollack…”

“The 16 American political and Washington operatives traveled the entire country from the border of Lebanon to the Gaza Strip and also spent time in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, meeting with government officials in the Knesset, entrepreneurs and business leaders. On the trip, “You’re actually on a bus for a couple hours and you’re talking about your career, your job, the company that you work for, the things that you’ve done in your past, your kids. It really made some strong connections,” said J. Toscano. Burton noted the “stark contrast” between all the security challenges that Israel faces and “then you come home and see the abject stupidity in the debate over Shakespeare in the Park in New York City.” [Politico

Spotted hanging in the West Wing — Trump’s Israel Photos: Two pictures from President Trump’s recent visit to Israel are currently hanging in the hallways of the West Wing… One photo is the President inserting a personal note between the monumental stones during his historic visit to the Western Wall. The other photo is of Trump grasping the hand of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a speech on Middle East peace at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Kushner Is Said to Be Reconsidering His Legal Team” by Ben Protess,  Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Sharon LaFraniere: “Some of [Jared] Kushner’s allies have raised questions about the link between his current lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, and Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia… Given the president’s sentiments, he might view any link to Mr. Mueller with suspicion, including Ms. Gorelick’s representation of Mr. Kushner, according to one person who has been contacted about the matter. An official close to the president disputed that, saying Mr. Trump is pleased with Ms. Gorelick’s representation of his son-in-law… People within Mr. Kushner’s circle recently reached out to some courtroom litigators about possibly joining his legal team. Among the lawyers contacted, one person said, was Abbe D. Lowell, a prominent trial lawyer whose previous clients include Jack Abramoff, the powerful Republican lobbyist, in a corruption scandal that shook Washington in 2005. Mr. Lowell is currently defending Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, against federal corruption charges.” [NYTimes]

Blake Hounshell: “Very clear pattern with Kushner stories. See a bad one coming, plant a positive one in a different outlet.” [Twitter]

“In Hamptons House, a Link to Manafort and Jared Kushner’s Dad” by Andrew Martin: “Jared Kushner was a junior at Harvard when an enterprising political operative was drawn into his family’s orbit. His name: Paul Manafort. The Kushners and the Manaforts, it turns out, go way back — at least when it comes to two of New York’s great obsessions: money and real estate. Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, received a mortgage on a 10-bedroom home in the Hamptons on Long Island. The $150,000 loan was made by NorCrown Bank, in Livingston, New Jersey, whose chairman was Kushner’s father, Charles, the patriarch of the family real estate empire and, at the time, a Democratic powerbroker in New Jersey.” [Bloomberg]

“Meet the man managing Trump’s biggest crisis yet” by Eliana Johnson, Josh Dawsey and Josh Gerstein: “Veteran GOP operative Mark Corallo is known for accepting tough crisis-management cases, but even he wasn’t daredevil enough to accept the job an embattled President Donald Trump considered him for last month: White House communications director. Instead, Corallo chose to stay outside the building, becoming the top spokesman for Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz.” [Politico Trump’s tough-talking outside counsel Mark Kasowitz may do him more harm than good[NYDailyNews]

DRIVING THE DAY — Top technology industry leaders are expected to attend the first White House tech summit organized by Jared Kushner’s Office of American Innovation. President Trump will participate in the American Technology Council roundtable in the afternoon.

— “Attendees are expected to include Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Oracle’sSafra Catz, and venture capitalist John Doerr, among others.” [Axios] • For Tech CEOs, Not Attending White House Summit Is Greater Risk [WSJ

ULTIMATE DEAL: “Trade talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia mark a historic first” by Michael Binyon and Gregg Carlstrom: “Saudi Arabia and Israel are in talks to establish economic ties… Arab and American sources said that the links would start small: allowing Israeli businesses to operate in the Gulf, for example, and letting El Al, the national airline, fly over Saudi airspace. However, any such progress would bolster the alliance between Iran’s two most implacable enemies and change the dynamics of the many conflicts destabilising the Middle East.” [SundayTimes

“Palestinian pilgrims to fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia” by Itamar Eichner: “The United States, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel have recently been conducting secret negotiations to coordinate the first flight of Palestinian pilgrims from Ben Gurion airport to Saudi Arabia, with a short layover on the way, probably in Jordan… The Americans initiated the matter as a result of President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel… A senior Israeli source said… the flight would be carried out through a foreign company that is neither Israeli nor Saudi. The Palestinians will be able to make pilgrimages to the holy places in Mecca and Medina. This is the closest to a direct flight that has yet to be offered.” [YNet

“Abbas eyes Merkel as Plan B if Trump fails on Mideast peace” by Uri Savir: “A senior Palestinian minister close to President Mahmoud Abbas told Al-Monitor… “We are showing great flexibility, as directed by President Abbas, on the phrasing of the condition to freeze settlement construction — restraining it to the existing built areas of settlements.” … According to Palestinian sources, a special Abbas envoy visited Riyadh last week, in the midst of the crisis with Qatar, to coordinate positions and the insertion of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative into the negotiation process… Yet, given Trump’s domestic troubles and Netanyahu’s positions, he believes Ramallah must have a fallback position in the diplomatic realm. “Unlike many others in the international community, the Palestinian president has not given up on Donald Trump,” he said. “But should Trump disappoint, like others in the international community, we have decided to opt for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in conjunction with French President Emmanuel Macron, to take the lead in preventing a deadlock in the peace process.”” [Al-Monitor

“Israel Gives Secret Aid to Syrian Rebels” by Rory Jones, Noam Raydan and Suha Ma’ayeh: “The Israeli army is in regular communication with rebel groups and its assistance includes undisclosed payments to commanders that help pay salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons, according to interviews with about half a dozen Syrian fighters. Israel has established a military unit that oversees the support in Syria—a country that it has been in a state of war with for decades—and set aside a specific budget for the aid, said one person familiar with the Israeli operation… Israel’s aim is to keep Iran-backed fighters allied to the Syrian regime, such as the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, away from the 45-mile stretch of border on the divided Golan Heights, the three people said.” [WSJ

2020 WATCH: “How Jason Kander Won by Losing” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “He’s clearly a star and everybody knows it,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who campaigned for Kander (when he ran for Senate against Sen. Roy Blunt in 2016) and has continued checking in with him by phone… “He’s the funniest of the candidates that we’ve had since I started doing this.” … And maybe, just maybe, he’s running for president in 2020 anyway. By then, he would only be 39 — seven years younger than Obama was in 2008. When I put this to Kander during our interview, he danced: “Politicians never say never to anything.” Which is what, as I pointed out to him, people who are running for president tend to say… “I’m really focused on making sure we still hold elections right now,” Kander said. “And maybe one day I’ll be in one.”[Politico

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Investors welcome tougher Israeli regulations[CNBC] • Israel to build quantum communications tech lab [ZDNet] • Billionaire John Paulson Joins Valeant’s Board of Directors [Bloomberg] • George Lindemann sells Palm Beach home 21% below asking price [TRD• Dodgers President Stan Kasten understands the task before Jeanie Buss [LATimes]

HEARD IN CANNES: “Ari Emanuel says leaving ICM was his toughest moment” by Claire Atkinson: “Ari Emanuel’s dramatic, Hollywood script-worthy exit from talent agency ICM more than 20 years ago was the mogul’s biggest professional fight, the WME/IMG co-CEO recalled on Sunday. “It was the day we walked out of ICM,” Emanuel admitted Sunday at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, asked to recall his most trying times in a session called “Survival of the Fittest.” “We were sued and we had no money and no clients. It was a bad situation.” Emanuel exited ICM in 1995 to set up a rival new agency and attracted talent agents across the business to launch Endeavor.” [NYPost]

“Sebastian Junger Focuses on Syria” by Alexandra Wolfe: “Mr. Junger grew up in Belmont, Mass., the son of a mother who is a painter and a Jewish physicist father who fled to the U.S. from Europe at the beginning of World War II. He found the wealthy suburb cold and sterile. “It just felt like a bubble,” he says… In his latest book, “Tribe,” he looks at the human need for community. He came up with the idea for the book after wondering why he got depressed when he left Sarajevo for short breaks in the 1990s. He found that soldiers felt the same way when they left the battlefield, as did people who left cancer wards as survivors. They missed the community they had left. “All of a sudden, I got it,” he says. “There’s a theme here.” What people instinctively want, he says, is to belong to small groups with a clear purpose. Too many of us are missing that sense of community and purpose in our increasingly isolated modern lives, he says.” [WSJ]

“He Thought He’d Be Your Rabbi. Now, He’ll Get You a Mortgage” by Ron Lieber: “Perhaps it was preordained that David Frankel would become a mortgage banker… His path to the industry was neither straight nor narrow. In the summers, he left for Jewish sleepaway camp, an experience that helped lead him to rabbinical school in Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York — places where his alma mater, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, had campuses. He graduated, and while the career didn’t stick, many of the texts and values did. As best as he can tell, he is the only ordained rabbi who spends his days helping people get the right home loan… So he thought he might be a camp director or a rabbi at a Hillel, a Jewish organization on college campuses. But as much as he loved text study and translation, he eventually figured out that his outspoken nature and skills were not a perfect match for the rabbinate… Today, he works for a direct lender called Guaranteed Rate.”[NYTimes

“These penthouses are bringing suburbia to the city” by Hana R. Alberts: “Victor had a bar mitzvah here and we had 50 to 60 people,” [architect Andrew] Tesoro added.” [NYPost

WEEKEND WEDDING: Ari Schaffer, a research analyst in the White House communications shop, married Marissa Schwartz, a senior analyst at The Advisory Board Company, yesterday at the Rockleigh Country Club in New Jersey. The two met at Kesher Israel Synagogue in Georgetown. [Pic] h/t Playbook

SPOTTED: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending the wedding of David Keyes, the Prime Minister’s foreign media adviser and spokesperson. [PicInstagramh/t Adam Finkel

BIRTHDAYS: Journalist, academic and political figure, active in the Democratic party, she served as US Ambassador to the Netherlands (1978-1981) in the Carter administration, Geri M. Joseph turns 94… Binnie Stein turns 78… Attorney, investment banker, film producer, deputy mayor of NYC (1982-1985), EVP of Cushman & Wakefield (2004-2010), commissioner of NY / NJ Port Authority since 2013, Kenneth Lipper turns 76… Owner of Pittsburgh-based Wenkert Healthcare Services, after a long career as a territory sales manager for GlaxoSmithKline (1992-2014), Harry E. Wenkert turns 61… President and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson turns 60… Investment advisor and broker at the Sherman Oaks, California office of Morgan Stanley, Inna N. Zalevsky turns 60… Overland Park, KS resident Kathi Shaivitz Rosenberg turns 58… Director of communications for New York State Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz since 2012, Adrienne M. Knoll turns 57… Moscow-born, Russian activist, member of the executive committee of the World Jewish Congress (1991-1996) and EVP of of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (2001-2008), Valery Engel Ph.D. turns 56… Co-founder of Centerview Partners, a boutique investment bank based in NYC, he hosted Barack Obama (2014) and Hillary Clinton (2015) for fundraisers in his Upper East Side Manhattan home, Blair Wayne Effron turns 55… Singer-songwriter, voice actress, dancer, choreographer, actress and television personality, she was a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18, Paula Abdul turns 55… Member of Knesset for the Zionist Union party since 2015, in the 1990s she was a legal advisor to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin turns 47… Founder of JSwipe, a Jewish dating app created in 2014, David Austin Yarus turns 31… Founder and executive director of Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad, which helps Jewish students studying abroad, Alexander Jakubowski turns 25… Jessica Brown

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