Jul
21

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Daily Kickoff: Senators Cardin, Portman respond to ACLU criticism of Israel Anti-Boycott Act | Tom Bossert on how the Trump admin views the Iran deal

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HEARD AT THE ASPEN SECURITY FORUM — President Donald Trump’s chief counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert discussed Trump’s certification of the Iran deal: “Our president has been very clear that he believes [the JCPOA] is a bad deal. I believe [the Iranians] have every reason to comply with the letter of a bad deal. It’s a bad deal, so of course, it’s in favor of them… There is no reason to believe that the deal did or did not change their aspirations… We are talking about the arrangement and compliance and the spirit of it- whether they did or did not pay their rent on time or whether they mitigated that letter by paying it late. What I am trying to indicate here is that the Iranians pattern of behavior is more troubling than just the four corners of this document. They have continued to take hostages and they need to release or return Bob Levinson.”

Bossert on cyber security cooperation with Israel: “I flew to Israel and made this arrangement with the Israelis. We announced our first bilateral cyber arrangement between the U.S. and Israel. The administration will probably announce others.” [YouTube

CIA Director Mike Pompeo: “When it comes to Iranian compliance with the agreement, Iran is a “bad tenant”, Pompeo said. He likened their compliance to a renter who did not pay rent until the landlord demanded it and then sent a bad check. He said the US president, Donald Trump, had been working with Gulf states and Israel to find a common way to push back against Iranian aggression in the region. What won’t work is appeasing Tehran or forcing them into compliance, he said. “When we have our strategy in place, I’m confident you will see a fundamental shift in policy” towards Iran, Pompeo said. ” [AP]

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) writes in USA Today…“The alternative was a better deal or no deal at all. A better deal is no myth and was absolutely achievable without question. No deal was a better option than what we agreed to. Iranian leadership was desperate for this deal to prop up the current regime, which is the wrong regime. But for some very odd reason, the United States continued to negotiate from weaker and weaker positions. With too much at stake, this historically bad deal should not have been entered into in the first place and not be allowed to continue as is.” [USAToday

DRIVING THE DAY — Israel limits Muslim access to Jerusalem site amid tensions: “At one point, an Israeli police officer told the crowd in Arabic that ahead of the noon prayers, worshippers would be able to enter without going through metal detectors. After consultations with religious leaders, the crowd rejected the offer, insisting that the devices have to be removed altogether. Israeli police said in a statement that the metal detectors will remain in place, but suggested police may at times choose to only conduct spot checks. “Israeli police can decide on the level of checks,” said police spokeswoman Luba Samri.” [AP]

“Muslim worshipers confront police as Israel maintains metal detectors at holy site” by Ruth Eglash and William Booth: “Israeli minister Erdan told The Washington Post on Thursday that the measures were implemented purely for security reasons and to prevent copycat attacks. “Many, many mosques around the world have exactly the same security checks, and many use metal detectors. Any protest over this is really an issue over who has sovereignty at the Temple Mount,” he said.” [WashPost]

“Abbas asks Kushner to intervene in Temple Mount crisis” by Elior Levy and Hassan Shaalan: “During their conversation, Abbas attempted to solicit a US commitment to ordering Israel to back away from the area by explaining to Kushner the severity of the crisis, warning that it could spiral out of control if Israel doesn’t withdraw its beefed-up presence and immediately take the detectors down.” [Ynet]

KAFE KNESSET — Metal detector dilemmas — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Following his five-day visit to France and Hungary, Bibi drove straight from the airport to the Tel Aviv Defense Ministry headquarters, where he convened a special security consultation. This was followed by a four-hour long late night Security Cabinet meeting. In the past few days, the top security brass has been engaged in internal fighting over the metal detectors at the Temple Mount’s entrances. The Police, supported by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, have been opposed to the removal of the metal detectors, and on the other side – the IDF and the Shin Bet are pushing to dismantle the metal detectors in order to defuse tensions and lower the risk of a violent outburst. As always, the disagreements turned political, and Naftali Bennett and the other right-wing ministers pressured Netanyahu all week not to succumb to the Palestinian demands. The PM decided to share the decision-making, perhaps predicting a political fallout from either course of action. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Jerusalem — an urgent issue for Trump administration” by Aaron David Miller: “This administration has been far more serious than any of its predecessors about moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This mini-crisis should not only give it pause but create a permanent hold on that plan. If mags on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif threaten violence, what would result from the American decision to move the embassy, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? … Second, the Trump administration ought to scale back its fantastical rhetoric on reaching the ultimate deal — a deal that would not only need to resolve borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem’s status as the capital of two states, but also the issue of overlapping sacred space on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.” [CNN]

HAPPENING TOMORROW AT ASPEN SECURITY FORUM — One State/Two State: Is the “two state solution” dead once and for all? In a panel moderated by NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian, Aaron David Miller, Natan Sachs, former US Amb to Israel Edward Walker, and Palestinian strategic affairs advisor Husam Zomlot will discuss the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians with President Trump in the White House.[AspenSecurity]

REVEALED: “Netanyahu Secretly Met With UAE Foreign Minister in 2012 in New York” by Barak Ravid: “The meeting was held on September 28, 2012, during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. A day earlier, Netanyahu gave his “red line” speech about stopping Iranian nuclear weapons production… The sources said bin Zayed only agreed to the meeting after a long period during which Netanyahu sent messages to senior UAE leaders through intermediaries. The meeting was held in the Loews Regency Hotel on the corner of East 61st Street and Park Avenue, where Netanyahu was staying during his visit. The UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, accompanied bin Zayed to the meeting.” [Haaretz]

“Billionaire Florida GOP donor rails against Trump” by Matt Dixon: ““I am out of the political process. Too disgusted, too expensive, too supportive of ego maniacs whose words have the value of quicksand,” Mike Fernandez wrote in an email to a Republican fundraiser seeking political contributions. In the email, the fundraiser was referred to as “Debbie,” but in an interview he would not identify her… In his email to the unidentified Republican fundraiser, Fernandez recalled a trip he and Weatherford took to Israel, where they met with the late Shimon Peres, the country’s former president and prime minister who died two years ago and was a friend of Fernandez. In the email, Fernandez said that Peres gave one message to Weatherford: “Great leaders serve, they don’t rule.”” [Politico

TRUMP TUMULT: “Trump reshuffling legal team” by Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, Pamela Brown and Jeremy Diamond: “Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s longtime personal attorney who has been the lead lawyer on the Russia investigation, will see his role recede… Kasowitz’s role is changing because the needs are more Washington-centric and Kasowitz has done his primary job of putting the team together. Instead, attorney John Dowd, along with Jay Sekolow, will now be the President’s primary personal attorneys for the investigation… Meanwhile, Mark Corallo has resigned from his position as spokesman and communications strategist for Trump’s legal team, a senior administration official told CNN Thursday night.” [CNNPolitico]

“Trump Aides, Seeking Leverage, Investigate Mueller’s Investigators” by Michael Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and Matt Apuzzo: “Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation… The shake-up comes weeks after Mr. Dowd and Mr. Kasowitz had a face-to-face meeting with [Robert] Mueller. The lawyers said they hoped Mr. Mueller would conduct a thorough investigation but asked that he wrap it up in a timely manner because of the cloud it had cast over the presidency.” [NYTimes]

Norm Eisen tells us… “Trump pardoning others, much less himself, or firing Mueller, would set off a firestorm the likes of which would exceed Watergate. Nor does a president in my view have self-pardon powers. And a government official like Trump “investigating the investigators” can quickly become obstruction of justice, as Sheriff Lee Baca and those around him discoveredwhen they were successfully prosecuted for doing just that. So Trump and his team had better beware.

“That said, it’s a good team. Cobb as special counsel on the inside, and Dowd as outside counsel bring to the job over a century of experience on criminal and Congressional investigations. I met Dowd on my first day at work as a lawyer and often came across him in my two decades of DC white-collar practice. He’s tough and with Cobb, a formidable pair. As for Kasowitz, he’s a great lawyer who was pressed by his client into a D.C. role he didn’t want; who served the client well by lining up counsel with the right experience; and who is now stepping back from the investigation because that is what his client’s needs dictate. He’s a much different person then the caricature of him that emerges if you only read the particular incidents that received recent press coverage. He and his firm colleagues are very fine lawyers.”

WH APPOINTMENTS — “Trump expected to make Scaramucci communications director” by Jonathan Swan: “President Trump is expected to announce that Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci will be White House communications director… Trump’s plans to appoint Scaramucci came as a surprise to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who found out after the plans had already been made.” [Axios]

— “Scaramucci met with Trump and his daughter Ivanka in the Oval Office on Thursday where Trump offered him the job, a source with knowledge of the situation said.” [NBCNews]

David Martosko‏: “Trump administration official tells me this morning that the expected Scaramucci appointment to comms director job is not happening.”[Twitter]

“Trump Picks Richard Grenell, Former Diplomatic Aide, as Envoy to Germany” by Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump made the offer last week at the White House during a visit by Mr. Grenell, who agreed to take the job if confirmed… Mr. Grenell served four United States ambassadors to the United Nations and worked especially closely during the Bush administration with Ambassador John R. Bolton… Among his roles at the United Nations was working with the Germans on the issue of sanctions against Iran. He has been deeply critical of Iran, and of the deal.” [NYTimes]

PALACE INTRIGUE:  “White House Aides “Furious” with Kushner and Ivanka’s Sun Valley Trip” by Emily Jane Fox: “As much as their attendance got tongues wagging in Sun Valley, their decision to skip town for a billionaire get-together as the West Wing raged ignited flames within the White House. Some aides are “furious” with their decision to attend, according to two people familiar with the reaction. “The optics couldn’t be worse,” one explained.” [VanityFair]

“Steve Bannon’s disappearing act” by Eliana Johnson and Annie Karni: “Bannon’s internal retreat has coincided with distance from other White House aides — most surprisingly [Stephen] Miller, a personal and ideological ally of many years. The two are “no longer working together in any substantive way,” according to a top White House aide. Miller has followed a divergent path, integrating himself into the White House’s staff and building a strong relationship with less-ideological figures like McMaster and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with whom he has developed an increasingly close relationship as the two have collaborated on dozens of presidential speeches and policy initiatives.” [Politico

TOP TALKER: “Jared Kushner’s White House connection still being used to lure Chinese investors” by Drew Griffin and Curt Devine: “The promotions are posted in Chinese and refer to Kushner Companies as “real estate heavyweights,” going on to mention “the celebrity of the family is 30-something ‘Mr. Perfect’ Jared Kushner, who once served as CEO of Kushner Companies.” One posted online in May by the company US Immigration Fund, a private business based in Florida, also contains a reference to Kushner’s appearance on the cover of December’s Forbes Magazine, under the headline “This guy got Trump elected.” … A Kushner Companies spokesperson, in response to CNN’s questions about the webpages, said “Kushner Companies was not aware of these sites and has nothing to do with them. The company will be sending a cease and desist letter regarding the references to Jared Kushner.”” [CNN] • The Trump presidency may not have helped Kushner Companies [Economist

“Jared Kushner meets with Lindsey Graham” by Tom LoBianco, Manu Raju, Ashley Killough and Jeremy Herb: “Jared Kushner met Thursday with Sen. Lindsey Graham on Capitol Hill, though the South Carolina Republican said the two discussed immigration policy and not congressional investigations into Russian interference in last year’s US presidential election…Kushner… smiled as he left the meeting but did not answer shouted questions… Graham told CNN he didn’t feel it was appropriate to bring up the Russia meeting in Trump Tower while talking health care and immigration with Kushner. “There’s a way to do this, and there’s a process and it will be followed,” Graham told CNN. “He’ll get to tell his side of the story about all this stuff, and I’m curious to see how it comes out.”” [CNN] • Kushner speech to congressional interns delayed [TheHill]

ON THE HILL — Bipartisan sanctions against Hezbollah introduced in Senate and House — by Aaron Magid: Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) co-sponsored the Senate bill while Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced the House bill. The bill would assign new sanctions against foreign individuals or companies that assist the Lebanese terrorist organization while strengthening the financial penalties against Hezbollah for narcotics trafficking.

“In the time since the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act was signed into law in 2015, Hezbollah has continued to do Iran’s bidding in the region by threatening Israel’s security and fighting in Syria in support of the murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Shaheen said. Added Rubio, “Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and continue to pose grave threats to the United States and our allies, including the democratic state of Israel.”

Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH) respond to ACLU criticism of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act: “Nothing in the bill restricts constitutionally-protected free speech or limits criticism of Israel or its policies. Instead, it is narrowly targeted at commercial activity and is based on current law that has been constitutionally upheld… The legislation does not encourage or compel persons to do business with Israel, nor does it punish individuals or companies from refusing to do business with Israel based on their own political beliefs, for “purely pragmatic reasons,” or for no reason stated at all.” [Medium]

SCENE AT THE WH:” Trump Unleashes A Show Of Force During New Product Demo At White House” by Randy DeSoto: “That 1,000 pounds is about the same as a punch from a professional boxer,” the business leader also noted. Trump interjected, “People never knew that about me.” “Some of us do,” quipped Reed Cordish from the White House Office of American Innovation, who was standing nearby. “They find out,” Trump responded. “They’ll find out.” [WesternJournalism]

2020 WATCH: “Interior Dept. ordered Glacier park chief, other climate expert pulled from Zuckerberg tour” by Lisa Rein: “The decision to micromanage [Mark] Zuckerberg’s stop in Montana from 2,232 miles east in Washington, made by top officials at the Interior Department, the National Park Service’s parent agency, was highly unusual — even for a celebrity visit. It capped days of internal discussions — including conference calls and multiple emails — among top Interior Department and Park Service officials about how much the park should roll out the welcome mat for Zuckerberg… Interior Department press secretary Heather Swift made it clear that she did not want Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow involved in the tour… And the Park Service’s public affairs staff was instructed not to post anything about Zuckerberg’s visit on its Facebook or other social media accounts.” [WashPost]

2018 WATCH: “Josh Mandel sides with ‘alt-light’ blogger over Anti-Defamation League” by Andrew J. Tobias: “In a tweet Thursday, Ohio Treasurer and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel expressed support for a prominent California blogger whom the Anti-Defamation League included on a list of figures the league believes are associated with the “alt-right” movement. The Anti-Defamation League this week included the blogger, Mike Cernovich, on a post called “From Alt Right to Alt Lite: Naming the Hate.” … In an email, Erica Nurnberg, a Mandel campaign spokeswoman, said: “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and as a Marine who defended our freedom, Treasurer Mandel believes the ADL is dead wrong for creating hit lists on American citizens. Of all organizations, the ADL should know that making target lists of people based on their political beliefs is a dangerous practice and slippery slope.”” [Cleveland

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Loophole Closed: Hedge-Fund Managers Prepare Huge Tax Checks [WSJ] • Dynamic Yield Raises $31 Million From Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Others [NYTimes] • Syte.ai, a visual search startup just for fashion, closes $8M Series A [TC] • Apollo Global Preparing IPO for ADT That Could Take Place Around Year-End [WSJ] • Israel considering infrastructure spending to close gap and boost productivity [CNBC]

“Oy vey! Check Point Software shares dive after CEO blames Yom Kippur for weak forecast” by Jack Guez: “If you dig deeper into the report you’ll see the company’s co-founder and CEO, Gil Shwed, is blaming Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement for the lower third-quarter guidance. The 25-hour fast, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, happens to fall on the last day of the company’s third-quarter book. That means the company’s Israel offices will be closed, and they will also close early the day before Yom Kippur. Shwed told analysts the company does a large part of its sales at the end of each quarter, but because of the holiday they’re trying to get sales teams and customers to finish their business before the start of Yom Kippur, sundown on Sept. 29. In a research note after the conference call, Cowen & Co. said the Yom Kippur excuse was “legitimate.” They believe the timing of the holiday could shave $30 million off the company’s bottom line in the third quarter.” [CNBC

“Israeli Aid Gives an Unexpected ‘Glimmer of Hope’ for Syrians” by Isabel Kershner: “This week, the Israeli military revealed the scope of the humanitarian aid project, which it calls Operation Good Neighbor and which began in June 2016 along the Israeli-Syrian boundary on the Golan Heights… Military officials say they coordinate directly with Syrian doctors and village leaders to gauge needs… “The aid creates a positive awareness of Israel on the Syrian side,” said Col. Barak Hiram, the commanding officer of Israel’s 474 Golan Brigade, adding that it could lay the “first seeds” of some form of future agreement.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THE TOWNS: How to run a city: Forty mayors go back to school: “Thanks to a $32m gift his charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, along with Harvard’s Business and Kennedy Schools, has created a year-long programme designed for serving mayors. The inaugural cohort began studying on July 17th. Forty mayors, 30 of them from American cities, including the mayors of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Phoenix and Mobile, spent three days back at school in New York… Running a city is harder than running a company, says Mr Bloomberg: the media spotlight is glaring, pressure from unionised workforces can make it hard to cut even bad programmes and regulation can throttle innovation.” [Economist

FLASHBACK to AIPAC’s 2014 Policy Conference when Sen. John McCain ‘considered’ converting to Judaism [Video

“Stop saying John McCain will beat cancer because he’s a fighter” by Philip Klein: “A member of my extended family died with glioblastoma four Julys ago. He was a man who was born in a Stalin-era gulag, where he spent his early childhood. A victim of anti-Semitism, he fled the Soviet Union for Israel with his mom as a teenager and served as a soldier during the Yom Kippur War. He eventually immigrated to the United States, where he built a family. Possessing a rare combination of grit and cheerfulness, his formative experiences made him unflappable during events in life that others would have considered crises. When diagnosed, he took it in stride and tried every treatment available to him — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, clinical trials — and he even dabbled in homeopathy. At every step, his loving and supportive family was at his side. But he passed away 20 months after his diagnosis. And it wasn’t because he was less courageous, or had any less fight in him, or had a worse attitude, than somebody with the disease who might have hung on for a few more years.” [WashExaminer

“How to Survive a Lavish Wedding” by Jen Doll: “Once upon a time invitations featured coded language: For instance, requesting ‘the honor of your presence’ versus ‘the favor of your company’ told you whether it would be held in a place of worship versus a home,” he said. “Or the use of the word ‘and’ versus the word ‘to,’ that is, “the marriage of someone and someone versus someone to someone.” The first indicates a Jewish wedding; the second a Christian one.” [NYTimes]

DEATH AND MARRIAGE: “How Arline Jacoby, Artist, Spends Her Sundays” by Alexis Cheung: “I read the obituaries religiously, but only about people I think are going to be interesting. I also like reading about people who are getting married. I’m Jewish, and I like to see if they were married by a rabbi. It’s just one of my things.” [NYTimes

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — in DC: The African Middle Eastern Leadership Project (AMEL) is now an official NGO after hosting its national launch event at the offices of Covington and Burling in DC on Wednesdaynight. The AMEL Project, which trains and empowers the next generation of human rights activists in the Middle East and Africa, is led by a young Sudanese Muslim activist named Mohamed Abubakr, who told the audience that he was willing to defy the Sudanese government’s laws by becoming friends with Israelis. Those laws can carry a punishment up to a death sentence. Mohamed’s willingness to build bridges also inspired Senator Mark Kirk and Ambassador Dennis Ross, who are both on AMEL’s advisory board, to speak at the launch event.

Ambassador Dennis Ross: “You [AMEL] remind me what are the things that I consider to be important. And I hope that everyone who is here will recognize that you’re looking at not only a special person, but you’re looking at an interesting collection of younger people who’ve decided they are not going to settle; they are not going to accept. They are not going to wait for the world to change, they are going to change the world.”

SPOTTED: Congressman Brad Schneider, Justin Hefter, Steven Hefter, Sam Neuberger, ADL’s Evan Bernstein, ADL’s Melanie Robbins, Tiffany Harris, Mary Ann Weiss, Steve Rabinowitz, Interfaith Alliance’s Rabbi Jack Moline, Daniel Charles.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYChilean born classical music composer whose themes include many Jewish topics, Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University, Leon Schidlowsky turns 86… Escondido, California resident, Leonard Simon Zoll turns 81… CEO of Sony/ATV, a large music publishing firm, he was previously general counsel to the LeFrak Organization and then chairman and CEO of EMI Music Publishing Worldwide, Martin Bandierturns 76… Jerusalem-born, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics at Bar-Ilan University, he has published more than 600 articles and 11 books and serves on the editorial board of five scientific journals, Shlomo Havlin turns 75… Criminal defense attorney, known for representing many politicians, celebrities and organized crime defendants, currently defending “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, Benjamin Brafman turns 69… Comedian and actor, best known for his five seasons on Saturday Night Live (1985-1990), Jon Lovitzturns 60… Chief Rabbi of Russia since 1993 and president of the Conference of European Rabbis (an organization with 700 members), Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt turns 54… Founder, president and CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and the Electrification Coalition, both promoting policies and actions to reduce our dependence on oil, Raphael “Robbie” Diamondturns 43… African-American pro-Israel campus student activist at the U of New Orleans, she is presently director of strategic partnerships at Jerusalem U, a Jerusalem-based educational organization, Chloé Simone Valdary turns 24… President of the Jewish community of Malaga, Spain, Elias Cohen

SATURDAYSecretary of Veterans Affairs (the only Trump Cabinet appointee confirmed by a 100-0 vote), he served as Under Secretary of the VA during the last two years of the Obama administration, David Shulkin turns 58… Israeli actress, prominent in both theatre and fiim, Gila Almagor turns 78… British Conservative Party member of Parliament for 36 years (1974-2010), a leading figure in the fight against human trafficking in the UK and world-wide, Anthony Steen turns 78… Historian, author and Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1975, Judith Walzer Leavitt turns 77… British biochemist and Professor at the University of Dundee in Scotland since 1971, Sir Philip Cohen turns 72… Actor, director and comedian, Albert Brooks (born Albert Lawrence Einstein) turns 70… Past president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Detroit, owner of Nodel Parks (operator of 40 manufactured home parks in eight states), Richard Martin Nodel turns 69… Winner of eight Academy Awards, eleven Grammy awards, pianist and composer of many Disney movie musical scores, Alan Menken turns 68… Born in Norwalk, Connecticut and now based in Munich, Germany where he is the managing director of a public affairs firm and works to ensure that the Holocaust and its many victims are not forgotten, Terry Swartzberg turns 64… Founding partner of the DC-based intellectual property law firm, Greenberg & Lieberman, his focus is on Internet law and domain name litigation, Stevan Lieberman turns 52… Television journalist and news anchor who has worked for Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and Al Jazeera America, David Shuster turns 50… Director of the Field Operations team at the Pew Charitable Trust, Elise Shutzer turns 37… Former White House assistant press secretary, now a writer for the documentary series VICE on HBO, Reid Cherlin turns 36… General Treasurer of the State of Rhode Island since his state-wide election in 2014, he previously worked as a VP at Trillium Asset Management, Seth Magaziner turns 34… Talia Thurm turns 26… Actor and voice actor, his career started when he was 10-years old, he starred as Eric in Netflix’s “Santa Clarita Diet,” Skyler Gisondo turns 21… Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, Jason Guberman-Pfeffer… Michael Suissa… Yoela Palkin… Cindy Masters

SUNDAYUS 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 93… World-reknowned pianist and conductor (despite a medical condition that deprived him of the use of his right hand for many years), Leon Fleisher turns 89… Banker who distributed $60 million to his 400 employees when he sold City National Bank of Florida in 2008, Leonard L. Abess turns 69… 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 67… Billionaire businessman and real estate investor who made his fortune in the trade and manufacture of fertilizer in the former Soviet Union, Alexander Rovt turns 65… 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 50… Dov M. Katz turns 47… Controversial journalist who wrote for the Los Angeles Times and is a regular contributor to Time, Joel Steinturns 46… Former White House intern in 1995-1996, at the center of a scandal involving President Bill Clinton, now an activist, television personality and fashion designer, Monica Lewinsky turns 44… Baseball outfielder in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, he was the starting right fielder for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Zach Borenstein turns 27… Associate at The Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Joseph Stern… Melissa Brown

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Daily Kickoff: Bipartisan backing for Temple Mount metal detectors | Meet the candidate: Elissa Slotkin | Jeffrey Katzenberg’s plan for ‘New TV’

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — The White House voiced its concerns yesterday about recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. In a statement, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called upon Israel and Jordan “to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions and to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo. The United States will continue to closely monitor the developments.”

“Netanyahu faces pressure to remove metal detectors from Jerusalem holy site” by Ruth Eglash: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must decide before Friday whether he will keep or remove metal detectors placed earlier this week at the entrances to the al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City. As of Thursday, the prime minister’s position regarding the metal detectors had not changed after holding security consultations, an Israeli official told The Washington Post. A showdown between worshipers and police is expected on Friday, the Muslim holy day, unless Israel removes the metal detectors and relaxes its security.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL — Republican and Democratic House Members support Temple Mount metal detectors — by Aaron Magid: “We should support the actions of Israel installing the metal detector and support their right to do that in any way that we can,” Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) told Jewish Insider. According to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), “When you have one side taking action to protect people’s security and the other side is taking action to harm people’s security, it’s hard to be neutral and make it out as both sides are right. I don’t think it’s necessary to apply an equal amount of pressure on both sides.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump, noted, “I don’t know how you can object to metal detectors. There are many synagogues and mosques in the world that have metal detectors to walk in. When they are necessary for security, we should be urging that every reasonable measure be taken to provide for people’s safety.” Given the rising number of attacks, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) explained, “I understand the respect for the holiness of the site but you have got to keep people safe unfortunately in this day and age. I would be sympathetic to Israel.”

“Huge increase in PA terror funding in 2017” by Itamar Marcus: “The PA expenditure for salaries to terrorist prisoners has risen by a huge 13%… and the expenditure for payments to families of “Martyrs” has gone up by 4%… In 2017, the PA’s total expenditure for directly funding terror is 1.237 billion shekels or $355 million.” [PMW]

Trump Administration’s Mixed Signals on Taylor Force Act — by Aaron Magid: The White House agrees with the “high-level goals” of legislation aimed to stop the Palestinian Authority’s payments to families of terrorists’ an administration official told us. “While the Administration agrees with the high-level goals of the Taylor Force Act, it is currently in Congress’s hands and we will continue to closely monitor the specifics of the legislation,” the administration official said. Last week, Stuart Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, expressed skepticism regarding the efficiency of the Taylor Force Act in combating Palestinian terrorism. “It is not clear that the Taylor Force Act as currently drafted would help accomplish these objectives,” he said during a House hearing. [JewishInsider

ON THE HILL — U.S. State Department Faces Cuts, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Programming Untouched” by Amir Tibon: “The projected U.S. State Department and Foreign Operations budget for 2018 includes a deep $5.6 billion cut in funding, as presented by the House Appropriations Committee. One policy issue that won’t be affected by cuts, however, is peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. Out of the entire “reconciliation programs” budget of $26 million around the world… the bill plans to direct almost 40 percent of the budget “for reconciliation activists between Israelis and Palestinians.” The amount, $10 million, is the same amount appropriated to the cause of peace in the region for 2017.” [Haaretz]

“43 Senators Want to Make It a Federal Crime to Boycott Israeli Settlements” by Eric Levitz: “In an official statement denouncing the bill, [ACLU] the civil-liberties group noted that businesses and individuals who do no business with Israel for purely pragmatic reasons would not be subject to criminal punishment — only those who do so on the basis of their political beliefs. Which is to say, “the bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”” [NYMag

–MoveOn[dot]org tweeted yesterday: “Regardless how you feel about BDS, Congress must reject action to criminalize free speech & peaceful protest. The Democrats in House and Senate must say no to H.R. 1697/S. 720. Free speech and peaceful protest are integral to democracy.” [Twitter]

JI INTERVIEW — Elissa Slotkin, a former Obama administration official who also served at the CIA and the Pentagon, discussed her congressional run against incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Bishop in an interview with JI’s Aaron Magid: A Hebrew and Arabic speaker, Slotkin’s last post was Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security affairs during the end of the Obama administration. During her time in the Pentagon, she visited Israel at least six times and helped bring the F-35 fighter jets to Israel. Striking a close friendship with Amos Gilad, the former Director of the political-military affairs bureau at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, she also worked on U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs including the Iron Dome.

Slotkin on Trump’s Mideast peace push: “The only way that this gets done is through strong American leadership. The only way that the two sides (Israel and the Palestinians) even come to the table is if the U.S. with a very strong lead convenes pushes both sides to make forward progress on the issue. But, if the parties are unwilling to come to the table, then, unfortunately, we are in a number of additional years with the same conflict with the same problems.” [JewishInsider

“Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow” by Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous: “The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside… Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests… The move to end the secret program to arm the anti-Assad rebels was not a condition of the cease-fire negotiations, which were already well underway, said U.S. officials… “It’s probably a nod to reality,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration official… “This is a force that we can’t afford to completely abandon,” Goldenberg said. “If they are ending the aid to the rebels altogether, then that is a huge strategic mistake.”” [WashPost

Shalom Lipner: “Putin victory = Iran win = lots of unhappy Jews and Sunni Arabs in the Middle East tonight.” [Twitter]

“Netanyahu puts Trump on notice over Syria” by Ben Caspit: “An Israeli source intimately familiar with what is happening behind the scenes told Al-Monitor emphatically, “This is not just some disagreement. This is a real clash, pitting Israel against Russia and the United States. It reflects Israel’s conspicuous disappointment with the way that the Americans let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin outmaneuver them, leading to the sellout of Israeli interests in the Golan Heights and Lebanon versus the Shiite axis.” … “The Americans completely conceded to the Russians,” a senior Israeli military official told Al-Monitor… “The very names of Iran or Hezbollah do not appear in the agreement, and there is no expression of Israeli concerns at all. Our security needs are completely ignored.”” [Al-Monitor

“Why Israel Can’t Support a Cease-Fire in Syria” by Shmuel Rosner: “Israel is following Iran’s patient game, and what it sees is Iranian and Hezbollah operatives in the area between Damascus and the Golan Heights. It sees a gradual process that ultimately strengthens Iran and its proxies, and leaves them in charge of strategic areas in Syria, including right on Israel’s border. The way Israel sees it, the cease-fire… is a gain for Iran, whose advance amid the gradual surrender of the Islamic State makes a mockery of vows to contain its growing influence. It is a loss for Israel.” [NYTimes]

“US accuses Lebanon’s Hezbollah of weapons buildup” by AFP: “Ambassador [Nikki] Haley expressed alarm over the build-up of weapons by Hezbollah, a situation that demands the international community’s attention to prevent the further escalation of regional tensions,” said a statement by the US mission. She stressed that the international community must “apply more pressure on Hezbollah to disarm and cease its destabilizing behavior, especially toward Israel.” [DailyMail

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — “Rosenstein casts shade on Comey’s leak of memos on Trump talks” by Josh Gerstein: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested in an interview aired Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey broke with Justice Department policy when he arranged to leak memos about his conversations with President Donald Trump… Rosenstein… was also asked whether [Robert] Mueller’s relationship with Comey made Mueller a less than ideal choice. “I made the decision to appoint Director Mueller based upon his reputation… But, I can assure you that if there were conflicts that arose, because of Director Mueller or anybody employed by Director Mueller, we have a process within the department to take care of that,” Rosenstein said.” [Politico] • Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions [NYTimes

PTI: At one point during Trump’s Oval Office interview with the NYTimes yesterday, his daughter Ivanka arrived at the doorway with her daughter, Arabella, who ran to her grandfather and gave him a kiss. He greeted the 6-year-old girl as “baby,” then urged her to show the reporters her ability to speak Chinese. She obliged. [NYTimes]

“Jared Kushner to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee Monday” by John Santucci and Benjamin Siegel: “White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling on Monday, July 24, ABC News has learned. The closed-door session sets up what could be one of the most highly anticipated interviews for lawmakers to date.” [ABCNews

“Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny” Ben Protess, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Jesse Drucker: “Mr. Kushner’s company bought the space from Africa Israel Investments, a company owned by Lev Leviev, which has a sizable real estate portfolio in Russia.” [NYTimes

“Why is Jared Kushner by far the least popular Trump family member?” by Jason Le Miere: “Part of that reaction may be down to Kushner’s lack of visibility. Unlike Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka, Kushner is rarely heard from in public, whether giving interviews, speeches or on social media. Or perhaps Kushner is less popular with the president’s base because he has been portrayed as a Democrat and a moderating voice. Or it could also be due to the fact that he is an Orthodox Jew. Although Ivanka Trump has converted to Orthodox Judaism, it is Kushner who has been the target of concerted anti-Semitic abuse.” [Newsweek

** 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: Inside Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Plan to Revolutionize Entertainment on Mobile Screens [Variety] • Abramovich’s steel company hit by costly repair work [TheTimes] • 10 Israeli start-ups that are gunning for the self-driving car market [CNBC] • Israeli Spreadsheet management co DataRails raises $6m [Globes] • Viber acquires Chatter Commerce, maker of mobile shopping keyboard ShopChat [VentureBeat] • De Blasio to Durst: Back off on Barry Diller’s Pier 55 [RealDealNYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Univision Draws Interest From Potential Bidders Amid IPO Delays” by Matt Jarzemsky, Arian Campo-Flores, Sarah Rabil and Joe Flint: “[John] Malone and [Greg] Maffei met with Univision backers billionaire Haim Saban and Providence Equity Partners’ Jonathan Nelson at the Sun Valley media conference this month, the people said. However, the two sides were far apart on valuation, and it is unclear if a deal—with Mr. Malone or anyone else—could be reached. It is also unclear what terms were discussed. Univision’s owners also haven’t ruled out an IPO in the first half of next year, some of the people said.” [WSJ]

COVER OF BUSINESSWEEK: “The Sinclair Revolution Will Be Televised. It’ll Just Have Low Production Values” by Felix Gillette: “If you encountered [Boris] Epshteyn at the Trump National Golf Club bar in Bedminster, N.J., you might expect him to hard-sell you on a real estate investment in the Urals or, failing that, a delicatessen in Newark… Three times a week he records brief video commentaries that are sent to Sinclair’s 65 or so newsrooms around the country… In recent segments, Epshteyn has praised the Trump administration’s trade policies, encouraged states to cooperate with his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, critiqued Democrats’ lack of a “coherent and authentic” message, and knocked other news outlets for their insufficiently admiring coverage of Trump.”[Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: “6 Reasons Israel Became A Cybersecurity Powerhouse Leading The $82 Billion Industry” by Gil Press: “The young people serving in 8200 and similar IDF units experience real-life and leading-edge cybersecurity challenges and solutions. But as these units work like startups, they also get to experience teamwork, leading other people, having responsibility for making significant decisions, and surviving failure, all a great preparation for entrepreneurial life.” [Forbes

PROFILE: “Avi Gabbay, Israel’s Surging New Threat to Benjamin Netanyahu” by Bernard Avishai: “Fifty years old, balanced, affable, and gregarious, Gabbay projects the gravitas one sensed in Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries… But the parallel with Obama ends there. Gabbay’s story is not that of an unlikely minority candidate who organized at the grassroots… For decades, the Party has suffered from the same time type of disconnect from working-class voters that now seems to plague the Democratic Party in the U.S. Gabbay is trying to bring that dynamic to an end… Before Gabbay, Mizrahim who disapproved of Likud’s support for settlers and the ultra-religious struggled to find common ground with Labor’s Ashkenazi élites, intellectual socialists, and union hacks. Gabbay, the former kid from a transit camp who rose to run an iconic corporation, might bridge the gap… In this, Gabbay’s election may be a lesson for American Democrats as well.” [NewYorker

KAFE KNESSET — Barak is back — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Former PM and Defense Minister Ehud Barak is still enjoying his status as Internet-commenter-in-chief and put up yet another video on his Facebook page, this time comparing Netanyahu to a Mafia don. “The time hasn’t come to put this to an end? What, have we gone crazy?” Barak asked, listing the various corruption scandals that have come to light in the last year. “Everything all around is criminal, but the boss is clean. Where is this familiar from? That’s right, ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Godfather.’  It is similar, but without the style. But there, it is the movies, and here, it is real life. Even there, when they decided to bring it all down, they couldn’t prove the submarines. The Godfathers were sent to jail over lawn furniture and electricians.” For those on the Ehud Barak style watch — he wasn’t wearing a puffy jacket this time. Barak was wearing a pink button-down shirt, and standing in a backyard with ivy and a wooden porch behind him, a style of house that looks more American than Israeli. Barak’s Israeli Facebook followers have been wondering where his videos are made – a source told Kafe Knesset this week that he is still in New York. That, of course, still does not explain why he wore a winter jacket in his previous video. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Decrying ‘betrayal,’ Hungarian Jews say Netanyahu ignoring them” by Raphael Ahren: “Wrapping up his three-day trip to Hungary, Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday delivered addresses in the headquarters of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary… Both prime ministers focused their remarks on bilateral ties, neglecting to directly address the community… The chilly reception for the prime minister — including scathing criticism from the Jewish community’s president — underlined Hungarian Jewry’s unhappiness with Netanyahu’s decision to embrace Orban despite accusations of anti-Semitism… Highlighting the community’s angst over the issues, Mazsihisz President Andras Heisler delivered a speech ahead of the two leaders, lambasting Orban for the Horthy and Soros controversies, and Netanyahu for the non-recognition of non-Orthodox Jewish streams in Israel.” [ToI]

“Israel and George Soros” by Itai Bardov, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in DC: “George Soros has a consistent record of reckless antipathy toward Israel… Mr. Soros supports N.G.O.s that libel Israel by falsely accusing it of genocide and war crimes. One N.G.O. Mr. Soros funds wrote the same number of reports from 2000 to 2010 blasting Israel, the one democracy in the Middle East, as it wrote against Iran, Syria and Libya combined. This double standard, not Mr. Soros’s supposed “humanitarianism,” is why many are rightly critical of him. There is no contradiction between speaking honestly about Mr. Soros and simultaneously fighting anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.” [NYTimes

“Israeli Student’s Use of Auschwitz Artifacts in an Art Exhibit Prompts a Furor” by Megan Specia: “The student, Rotem Bides, told Israeli news outlets this week that she had collected the objects during five visits to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp… Ms. Bides said that her grandparents were Holocaust survivors — one grandfather was in Auschwitz — and that the art was intended to explore her personal history… Ms. Bides later told The New York Times that the items “are not from the Auschwitz camp and not from the Auschwitz museum, but from the nearby area,” but she declined to elaborate…The artwork was meant to be part of an exhibit starting on July 26 at Beit Berl College in Kfar Saba, a city near Tel Aviv, Israel. But the college removed it… after reports circulated that it contained stolen artifacts.”[NYTimes]

“Radiohead finally take the stage in Israel, play their longest concert in 11 years” by Alex Young: “Defying protests and calls for a cultural boycott, Radiohead took the stage at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday night… Radiohead certainly let their music do the talking on Wednesday night, as the band served up a 27-song set that amounted to their longest performance in 11 years… According to reports from the ground, Yorke spoke sparsely throughout the night, saying at the end of the show, “A lot of stuff has been said about this, but in the end, we played some music.”” [COSBBC

“Is Israeli spy thriller False Flag, the new Homeland” by Gerard Gilbert: “False Flag is being marketed as “the new Homeland”, perhaps inevitably since the global hit starring Claire Danes as CIA agent Carrie Mathison began life as the low-budget Israeli TV drama called Prisoners of War. “It’s a big compliment but the big difference is the focus”, says False Flag’s co-creator Amit Cohen. “Homeland puts the focus on the professionals and does it in an amazing way, but the uniqueness of False Flag is that it is told from the point of view of ordinary people… They don’t know anything about the espionage world. This is their first encounter with the world of shadows. We didn’t put the focus on terrorists or spies – we were looking at Israeli society and Israeli characters to tell the story.”” [Independent

“Nev Schulman is getting married in the Hamptons this weekend” by Christine Burroni: “The ceremony is set to take place in Schulman’s father’s back yard, “where Nev used to run around as a kid,” and the reception will follow on the beach where Schulman took Perlongo on their second date… Perlongo will walk down the aisle in a gown by Israeli designer Inbal Raviv and jewelry by Edgar Mosa.” [PageSix

DESSERT: “Kosher bourbon: Buffalo Trace, Jewish owned since 1992” by Alfred Miller: ““Whisky Alert” read the top of the 2010 memo. Issued by an association of groups that grant kosher status to food products, the memo revealed serious doubts about whether the products of Franklin County’s best-known brand were in fact kosher. With its purchase by Sazerac Company in 1992, Buffalo Trace had become a Jewish-owned company, said the author of that memo, Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, referring to Sazerac Chairman William Goldring. For Jews who keep kosher and also enjoy a bit of Buffalo Trace bourbon, that poses a problem due to a relatively obscure Jewish dietary law related to Passover.” [StateJournal]

REMEMBERING: “Raymond Sackler, Psychopharmacology Pioneer and Philanthropist, Dies at 97” by Sam Roberts: “Dr. Raymond Sackler, a pioneer in psychopharmacology, a medicinal products entrepreneur and a leading philanthropist whose family made a fortune from the opioid painkiller OxyContin, died on Monday in Greenwich, Conn. They were major benefactors who helped finance the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (home to the Temple of Dendur), the Freer and Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, British cultural institutions, schools in Israel and scores of scientific, academic and cultural programs. Raymond Raphael Sackler was born on Feb. 16, 1920, in Brooklyn to Isaac Sackler and the former Sophie Ziesel, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who ran a grocery store.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire, art collector and NYC real estate developer, Sheldon Solow turns 89… Retired after 30 years in the US Senate (D-MD) following 10 years in the House of Representatives, Barbara Mikulski turns 81… President of the National Endowment for Democracy (a private, congressionally supported grant-making institution) since its 1984 founding, Carl Gershman turns 74… Long-time member of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as a consul to Hong Kong and ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben-Zeev turns 73… Commissioner on the US Commission on Civil Rights (2011-2016), Assistant Secretary of HUD in the Clinton administration, presently Vice Chair of the Board of Bank of San Francisco, Roberta Achtenberg turns 67… NY Times columnist, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman turns 64… Molecular geneticist at NYC-based Rockefeller University and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Jeffrey M. Friedman turns 63… Broadcast and digital media executive, managing director of FDM Azerbaijan LLC and Azerbaijan International Film Company, both based in Baku, Farrell Meisel turns 62… Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Barbara Risman turns 61…

Past president of the Women’s Department at the Jewish Federation of Detroit, her late father was the US Ambassador to Norway (1997-2000), mother of fashion designers Matthew and Alex, Marcie Hermelin Orley turns 58… Political director of CNN, where he oversees the political coverage across all of CNN’s platforms, David Marc Chalian turns 44… Co-author of “Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame,” he is a staff writer at The Atlantic and a fellow at the New America Foundation, former editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer turns 43… Singer who burst on the scene as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol, Efraym Elliott Yamin turns 39… Senior Vice President at lobbyist Capalino+Company, Fred Kreizman turns 39… Managing partner of the communications firm of Main & Rose, writer, speaker and advocate, Beth Doane turns 34… Utility player for MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies, he started at third base for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Ty Kelly turns 29… Sheila Ganjian Navi turns 27… Graduate of Rockville, MD’s Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy and University of Pennsylvania, now a business analyst at McKinsey & Company, Etan Raskas turns 25… Institutional sales associate at BlackRock in San Francisco, Jonathan Tamir Alden turns 25… Associate at Chicago-based kCura, an e-discovery software company, former AIPAC staffer, Ashley Abramowicz… Jack Guggenheim… Goldie Fields

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Daily Kickoff: Bibi’s hot mic — “we’re not OK on Iran” | Wayne Berman for WH Chief of Staff? | Prince William and Kate pay respects at Stutthof camp

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KAFE KNESSET — BIBI’S HOT MIC — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Some journalists wait a lifetime for a “fly on the wall” moment, and reporters accompanying Bibi on his European trip got one today. Arriving at the V4 Visegrad conference venue — bringing together leaders from Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland — Israeli journalists were awaiting an official press conference. Coincidentally, we all opened the headphones that were given out for simultaneous translation only to hear Bibi and his counterparts in their closed door meeting. For about 15 minutes the reporters eavesdropped on the conversation, providing a glimpse into Bibi’s real thinking.

“I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive or if it wants to shrivel and disappear. I am not very politically correct. I know that’s a shock to some of you. It’s a joke. But the truth is the truth. Both about Europe’s security and Europe’s economic future. Both of these concerns mandate a different policy toward Israel,” Netanyahu said. Bibi urged the countries to change the trend. “The EU is the only association of countries in the world that conditions the relations with Israel, that produces technology and every area, on political conditions. The only ones! Nobody does it. It’s crazy. It’s actually crazy. There is no logic here. The EU is undermining its security by undermining Israel. Europe is undermining its progress by undermining its connection with Israeli innovation by a crazy attempt to create political conditions,” he said.

Europe wasn’t the only hot topic. Netanyahu also said Israel “had a big problem,” with the Obama administration and its policies on Iran and Syria. “I think its different now. Vis-a-vis Iran, there is a stronger position. The US is more engaged in the region and conducting more bombing attacks [in Syria], which is a positive thing. I think we are OK on ISIS. We’re not OK on Iran,” he said.

After about 15 minutes, the PM’s press team realized what was happening and the broadcast was stopped, but not before the recording was distributed and all media outlets broke out with push notifications about the incident. When the official presser started, Netanyahu addressed the matter, and said in Hebrew that he “will be brief because I understand the Israeli press is already well briefed.” However, despite the obvious embarrassment, the incident is not necessarily bad for Bibi, as it proves he actually delivers the same messages both inside closed doors and outside as well.  His staunch defense of Israel will definitely earn him some points with his base, and prompted some speculation and theories that perhaps the hot mic wasn’t unintended. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset today [JewishInsider]  

HEARD YESTERDAY —  State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on reports of Netanyahu expressing skepticism about Trump’s peace efforts: “I know that we have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and this administration has talked a lot about the importance of promoting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

ON THE HILL — Jason Greenblatt: “An honor to meet with Sen. Bob Corker today to discuss Israeli/Palestinian peace. Our conversation covered many topics including Taylor Force.” [Twitter]

A WH official tells us… “Jason went to hear about the Taylor Force Act not to share the WH opinion about it.”

TOP TALKER: “Saudi King’s Son Plotted Effort to Oust His Rival” by Ben Hubbard, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt: “Before midnight, Mohammed bin Nayef was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister… At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired… One American official and one adviser to a Saudi royal said Mohammed bin Nayef opposed the embargo on Qatar, a stand that probably accelerated his ouster. Sometime before dawn, Mohammed bin Nayef agreed to resign…” [NYTimes]

“Qatar’s Critics Scale Back Demands in Diplomatic Bid” by Farnaz Fassihi: “Diplomats from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt told reporters that they had altered their demands from 13 detailed requests to six generalized ones focused on “principles.” … Qatar’s ambassador to the U.N. dismissed the new demands as a move to save face amid international pressure on the group to end the standoff.” [WSJ]

IRAN DEAL: “Iran FM accuses Trump of trying to undermine nuclear deal” by Laura Rozen: “We still do not know what they want to do,” [Mohammad Javad] Zarif said today. “They have been talking about scrapping the deal… But they seem to have come to the realization that scrapping the deal is not something that would be globally welcome. [So] they now try to make it impossible for Iran to get the benefits from the deal.” Zarif spoke to a small group of American journalists at the Central Park residence of Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations… The “JCPOA is not a deal that anyone loves,” Zarif said. “It was the only deal possible… We could not get a better deal… I assure [you], the US could not get a better deal.” … The JCPOA “was negotiated and drafted based on mutual distrust,” Zarif said. “It is not an agreement based on trust… [You] will see mistrust in every sentence and paragraph of deal. And it is mutual.” [Al-Monitor]

Zarif on new sanctions: “It violates the spirit of the deal. We will look at it and see whether it violates the letter of the deal. And we will act accordingly.”[CBSNews]

Deputy Minister Michael Oren: Trump was “clearly not ripping up the deal any time soon.” [JPost]

“4 good reasons Trump shouldn’t scrap the Iran nuclear deal or goad Iran to pull out” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: “Playing around with a nuclear agreement — however imperfect — that is keeping Iran’s finger off the nuclear trigger, is both irresponsible and dangerous. If this is the course the Trump administration follows, it’s likely to find itself with the worst of both worlds: an Iran with nuclear weapons expanding its influence in the region. Perhaps in some parallel universe this could be claimed as a beautiful victory that will make America great again, but on planet Earth that just isn’t going fly.” [USAToday

“Source: Some White House staff worry Kushner security clearance in jeopardy” by Sara Murray and Jeremy Diamond: “White House officials are concerned that Kushner may not be granted a final security clearance, an administration official told CNN on Monday… As a top White House official, Kushner was granted an interim security clearance. Kushner met with the FBI on June 23 to be interviewed for his permanent security clearance… A source close to Kushner said his legal team sees no basis under which Kushner’s security clearance would be denied… Sanders, the No. 2 White House spokeswoman, affirmed Tuesday that Trump has faith in Kushner. “The President has confidence in Jared,” she said.” [CNN] • Why Jared Kushner Will Be Able to Keep His Security Clearance [NewYorker]

“Democrats target Ivanka Trump security clearance amid Kushner scrutiny” by Heidi M Przybyla: “A group of 20 House Democrats is calling on the FBI to review Ivanka Trump’s security clearance… “We are concerned that Ivanka Trump may have engaged in similar deception,” the House Democrats wrote in a letter.” [USAToday]

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Trump aides move on after health care loss” by Annie Karni and Eliana Johnson: “Ivanka Trump made an appearance at a global robotics competition celebrating girls from Afghanistan pursuing careers in STEM. Meanwhile, her husband, White House adviser Jared Kushner — who has taken little interest in the health care bill since its early, troubled days in the House, when he went skiing in Aspen with his family — was busy leading a meeting with his Office of American Innovation. In the West Wing, chief strategist Steve Bannon took a meeting with Wayne Berman, a Republican operative and board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition whose name has surfaced as a potential future chief of staff.” [Politico

“Here are the ‘three easy things’ that Chuck Schumer thinks can shore up Obamacare” by Ed O’Keefe and Sean Sullivan: “On Tuesday, Schumer said he told his Democratic colleagues during their weekly luncheon, “Sit down with Republicans. I welcome it.” But he insisted that any bipartisan deal cannot include tax cuts for wealthier Americans or cuts to the Medicaid program… And then there’s this: Schumer said he hasn’t spoke directly to Trump in months and to Vice President Pence in several weeks… “He’s tweeted at me much more than he’s talked to me lately,” Schumer said of the president.” [WashPost]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — “Meet Donald Trump’s Lawyer: A Messianic Jew Who Loves Jesus and Hates BDS” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “[Jay Sekulow] is representing the Gush Etzion Foundation, one of over a dozen defendants, in al-Tamimi vs. Adelson – a 2016 lawsuit brought by Palestinian activist Bassem al-Tamimi and others. The latter contend that the defendants, a group of U.S. nonprofits, philanthropists and corporations led by American casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, are guilty of war crimes against Palestinians, among other accusations. Sekulow’s co-counsel in the case is Marc Zell, co-chair of Republicans Abroad Israel… He said he had been brought into the Tamimi case by Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon because “the folks in Gush Etzion” needed a “tough” lawyer. “I like being a tough lawyer,” he declared. “And when you know the story of Gush Etzion, it brings out the toughest part of who you are.”” [Haaretz]  

2018 WATCH: “Illinois’ 2018 gubernatorial race is already nearing the $100 million mark with 16 months to go” by Stephen Wolf: “Wealthy investor J.B. Pritzker dominated the money race by self-funding $14 million even as he accepted no donations… While the Democrats have to first get past a crowded primary, [Gov. Bruce] Rauner will have built up a fully operational Death Star by the time the general election arrives. He raked in $20.6 million during the second quarter and finished June with $67.6 million cash-on-hand…  A whopping $20 million of Rauner’s haul, or all but $600,000, came from just a single source: hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin… Pritzker already spent a staggering $9.3 million in the second quarter.” [DailyKos

** 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: David Zaslav’s Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks in Talks to Combine [WSJ] • Struggles at Procter & Gamble Draw Scrutiny of Nelson Peltz [DealBook] • How Paul Singer plans to transform the biggest American power producer without getting burned [CNBC] • Jacob M. Safra Buys Jackie Kennedy’s Childhood Home [MansionGlobal] • Uber-style app ‘Careem’ goes off beaten track in Palestinian West Bank [Reuters] • Jonathon Triest’s Ludlow Ventures has closed its second fund with $45 million [TechCrunch] • Israel-based Cyberbit makes another move in Maryland [Technical.ly]

STARTUP NATION: “Mangrove raises $170M for its new fund to invest in Europe and Israeli startups” by Mike Butcher: “Luxembourg-based Mangrove Capital Partners, one of Europe’s leading early stage venture capital firms, has raised $170 million for its latest fund. Mangrove V will be used to invest across Europe and Israel. Mangrove put $8 million into Wix.com, and that resulted in a $550 million exit when it became the largest tech IPO to come out of Israel. Mangrove now has over $1bn under management and a team of twelve, which includes partners in Berlin and Tel Aviv.” [TechCrunch] • Israel tech firms raise $1.26 billion in 2Q 2017 [ToI]

“Prince William and Kate ‘intensely moved’ by visit to Holocaust camp” by Aubrey Allegretti: “Prince William and Kate spent more than an hour at the Stutthoff camp, just outside of Gdansk, where 65,000 people were killed by the Nazis. They toured the site, which is now a museum, meeting senior staff and signing a visitors book before being taken to a barracks and shown shoes left by Holocaust victims… Afterwards, the Royal couple met survivors of the camp, including two Britons who were returning for the first time. They listened while Zigi Shipper and Manfred Goldberg, both 87, led a prayer.” [SkyNews]

BOOK REVIEW: “The Red Cross and the Holocaust” by Samuel Moyn: “What began as an organization meant to curb the barbarity of warfare has found it difficult to live down its most grievous mistake: cozying up to the Third Reich, remaining silent about the Holocaust and later helping Nazis escape justice. In his last book, “Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Justice” (2011), historian Gerald Steinacher chronicled one aspect of this shameful era. His newest effort, “Humanitarians at War: The Red Cross in the Shadow of the Holocaust,” synthesizes what he and other historians have learned about the ICRC’s conduct during this troublesome period before adding new material on what the organization did next. This more comprehensive account of the ICRC’s actions equips the reader to decide whether the organization truly recovered from its wartime and postwar errors.” [WSJ

“Terror at the Temple Mount Puts the Lie to Palestinian Rage” by Eli Lake: “As Martin Kramer, a historian at Shalem College in Jerusalem, told me this week, the attack at the Temple Mount broke a taboo. “The usual Islamist claim is the danger to the mosque and the shrine is from Jews,” he said. “Here there was an actual conspiracy to smuggle weapons into this holy place and Hamas does not condemn it, they praise it. Who poses the greater danger to Al Aqsa?” It’s an excellent question. The answer is that the greater danger to one of Islam’s holiest place these days comes from the Palestinian fanatics who claim to be fighting for its reclamation.” [BloombergView

“Radiohead in Israel: As Opposition Intensifies, Opening Acts Preach Understanding” by Lior Phillips: “Radiohead not only reaffirmed their plans, but in choosing opening acts Dudu Tassa and Shye Ben Tzur for the July 19 show at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, are emphasizing, through art, the cross-cultural understanding and dialog so desperately needed in the area…. Tassa, who had once focused solely on Hebrew rock, now showcases the deeply rooted, potent depth of music written decades ago by Iraqi Jews, and featuring traditional Arabic instruments…” [Variety]

“Don’t tell Radiohead it can’t tour in Israel” by Jeff Blehar: “It’s depressing that Radiohead’s desire to return to a country that has a large, longstanding and vociferously supportive fan base should even be a political issue at all. But it is indicative of the trend in the modern era to politicize everything, and of people’s desire to use culture as a blunt, bludgeoning weapon against their enemies. Ultimately, what is most admirable about Radiohead refusing to buckle to the BDS pressure and media hassle is the fact that it is seeking to float above the politics of the issue entirely.” [NYPost

MEDIA WATCH: Has Trump Turned CNN into a House of Existential Dread?” by Sarah Ellison: ““We may look back in five years and find that CNN was fundamentally changed because of Trump,” one CNN employee told me. “Maybe it will turn out that Trump changed the brand” through his battle with the network… [Jeff] Zucker has made efforts to reassure journalists and on-air talent that the mission of CNN, to conduct journalism and hold the administration accountable, has never been more clear. He took a recent trip to the D.C. bureau to reiterate to staffers that there should be no chilling effect on their reporting as a result of the attacks from the administration, according to one person who was present.” [VanityFair

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Brooklyn’s OY/YO Sculpture Gets a New Home at the Williamsburg Waterfront” by Stephanie Geier: “On July 13th, it was unveiled by NYC Parks and Douglaston Development LLC at the esplanade of the North 5th Street Pier and Park. Many were eager to celebrate its return, with [Deborah] Kass herself attending the ceremony. The sculpture will be open to the public in its new home until July 2018… When facing Brooklyn, it reads “YO,” reflecting urban, Brooklyn slang and the Spanish word for “I am.” When facing Manhattan, it shows just the opposite word, “OY,” the famous Yiddish expression.” [UntappedCities

DESSERT: “Why the Young Heir of Katz’s Deli Decided to Expand for the First Time in 129 Years” by Sierra Tishgart: “That changed last month, when the newish owner, 29-year-old Jake Dell… expanded the business by opening a takeout-only stand in Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market Hall… In a back table at Katz’s, in between greeting elderly regulars and spot-checking the pastrami, Dell explained what motivated this decision… “One of the most important things for me is maintaining tradition and preserving the classics. That’s what people expect from me and from Katz’s… It’s about me preserving this tradition. You can’t re-create everything. You can’t re-create nostalgia. You can’t re-create the smut on the walls or the smell of an old neon sign, but you can bring the food closer to people. I don’t think you can replicate this place.”[GrubStreet]

“Is It O.K. to Fire a Muslim Driver for Refusing to Carry Wine?” by Kwame Anthony Appiah: “The real question is whether em­ployees can be exempted from such disputed activities without causing a business hardship. A supermarket can’t be obliged to retain a butcher whose religion forbids him to handle pork. But neither should it require the vegetable guy with the kipa to fill in at the sausage station. Where to draw the line between accommodations that are reasonable and those that are too demanding? That isn’t a question to be resolved once and for all, ethically or legally.” [NYTimes

MAZEL TOV: Aaron Keyak, co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, emails yesterday… “Late this morning, we had a baby girl! Today’s expansion of the Keyak/Goldgraber clan weighed in at a formitable 8 pounds, 3 ounces and is quite adorable. Mom and the baby are doing great. We’re feeling very excited and blessed!” [Pic]

BIRTHDAYS: Violinist, composer, conductor, and co-founder of the Juilliard String Quartet, Robert Mann turns 97… Survivor of the Holocaust by hiding in a Catholic school, earned a Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, founder of the Newport News-based Holocaust Education Foundation, Peter Fischl turns 87… Johannesburg resident Monty Lasovsky turns 82… Interactive designer, author and artist, in 1986 he married Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late JFK, Edwin Arthur “Ed” Schlossberg turns 72… Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University, he seved in the Dutch Senate (1999-2010) and then as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (2010-2012), Uriel “Uri” Rosenthal turns 72… 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 71… Author of three books on baseball, long-time sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN writer and co-host, Jayson Starkturns 66… Born in a public housing project in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, now Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz turns 64… Ner Israel Rabbinical College’s Rabbi Ezra Neuberger turns 60… Billionaire chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings (owner of retailers Sears and Kmart), Edward Scott “Eddie” Lampert turns 55…

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 52… Israeli actress, model and film producer, Yael Abecassis turns 50… Spokesperson to the Arab media in the Israel Prime Minister’s Office, Ofir Gendelman turns 46… Co-Chairman and CEO of of CheckAlt, an independent provider of treasury and lockbox solutions, previously CEO of Vintage Filings, a NYC-based EDGAR filing firm that he sold to PR Newswire, Shai Stern turns 43… Entrepreneur, two-time author and strategic marketing consultant, Alexis Blair Wolfer turns 33… Founder, CEO and Director at TradeRoom International, Ezra David Beren turns 32… ProPublica reporter covering the Trump administration since 2017, previously at Politico and Bloomberg, Isaac Arnsdorf turns 28… Warren Rapf Henry Emmanuel Hublet

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