Daily Kickoff: John Kerry’s new book details his relationship with Bibi and why the Obama admin didn’t veto UNSC 2334 | Urban renewal in Neve Shaanan

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FIRST LOOK — An exclusive sneak peek at former Secretary of State John Kerry’s upcoming book titled Every Day Is Extra  

In the book set to be released on September 4, a copy of which was obtained by Jewish Insider, Kerry writes about the failed Middle East peace initiative he undertook after becoming Secretary of State, what drove his optimism that he would succeed in solving final status issues, how both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas failed to live up to expectations, and why the Obama administration decided to abstain at the UN Security Council on UNSC 2334 in December of 2016.

Pragmatic Bibi: “What I found most promising was Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence to me personally that he was willing to take risks, willing even to put his government coalition at risk, to make peace if his conditions are met.” These conversations, going back years, helped Kerry convince a ‘skeptical’ President Obama that it was worth trying to reinvigorate the peace process and put Netanyahu’s “willingness to make tough compromises” to the test.

Kerry recalls Netanyahu agreeing to release pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners to pave a way for the resumption of peace talks for 9 months after issuing an ultimatum. “I told Bibi in no uncertain terms, ‘If you’re not willing to release them, I understand — but this won’t work and I’m done with it.’ When he was confronted with this deadline, for the first time, he said, ‘Okay, let me see what I can do.'”

Bibi’s high bar: “Bibi’s attitude was ‘I’m open to solving this problem if I can have all my needs met.’ That included his political needs with his coalition… Bibi was fond of saying, ‘Take all my excuses away.’ Kerry contrasts these comments to the conversations he had with Tzipi Livni, a minister in Netanyahu’s government and now Israel’s Opposition Leader, in which she expressed Israel’s need to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all.

Kerry recounts a conversation he had with Netanyahu following President Obama’s speech to the Israeli public during his visit to Israel in 2013: “A few days later, I met with Bibi at the King David Hotel. He looked me dead in the eye and said, John, I’m willing to give this effort a try, but there are two things you should know: first, everyone in this region lies all the time and you Americans have a hard time understanding that; second, the most I can do may be less than the least Abbas could ever accept.’ That statement really stayed with me. Bibi was raising the bar, perhaps impossibly.”

How Bibi rejected Gen. John Allen’s security plan: Kerry describes in detail the plan that was presented to Israel’s then-Defense Minister Moshe Bogie Ya’alon, which included U.S. troops on the border of a future Palestinian state and Israeli troops in close proximity after a gradual withdrawal from the West Bank, ready to return “in full force within hours” if any threat emerged. But on the morning after the meeting between Kerry, Gen. Allen and the Israeli leaders, Netanyahu insisted that the IDF must maintain a long-term presence in the West Bank, the duration of which would be decided unilaterally by Israel.

“It was now clear to all of us that Bibi was not interested in actually addressing the security questions in a way that could allow for the eventual withdrawal of the IDF,” Kerry writes. “I concluded that this wasn’t about security. I wondered what Bogie Ya’alon had said to Bibi the night after we’d left… I let him know I thought he was creating an insurmountable stumbling block if he couldn’t accept the best advice of one of his ally’s most brilliant military minds. He smiled and said we’d table the discussion for now.”

The Pollard-for-peace deal: In 2014, the Obama administration considered releasing Jonathan Pollard to save the peace talks. Obama was very skeptical about releasing Pollard because he didn’t believe Netanyahu was serious about creating a Palestinian state. But he didn’t rule it out, according to Kerry, “I think more because he wanted to support me and his team than because he had any confidence Bibi would follow through.” Netanyahu, he writes, was urged to come up with a credible offer to convince Obama it was worth releasing Pollard and convince the Palestinians to agree for the extension of peace talks. “I told Bibi point-blank, ‘You’re not doing this for Abbas. You’re doing it to empower us to get what you want.'” In the end, it was Abbas who foiled the deal by announcing he was going to join several international organizations and violating the terms agreed upon with the Israelis. The move gave Netanyahu the “ammunition” he needed to blame the Palestinians for rejecting peace.

On President Obama’s decision not to veto UNSC 2334 in December of 2016“We all understood the political firestorm we would face if we didn’t veto the resolution… There were some who argued for sucking it up because it wasn’t worth the political price. President Obama wasn’t willing to make a decision that he thought was counter to U.S. interests simply because of the politics.”

— Kerry suggests that Trump’s appointment of David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel impelled Obama to act: “President-elect Trump had announced he was going to appoint an ambassador to Israel who was a hard-core proponent of the settlements and an avowed opponent of the two-state solution. At the same time, the Israelis had shown themselves to be completely disdainful of our policy by starting a process of formally legalizing outposts… We could not defend in the UN Israeli actions that amounted to a massive and unprecedented acceleration of the settlement enterprise.”

Kerry writes that following fierce Israeli criticism, he felt the need the respond, receiving Obama’s backing for a speech he later delivered at the State Department: “I remember sitting with former undersecretary of state Wendy Sherman in my office with a draft of the speech I was planning to give about the resolution. Wendy and I both have strong ties to the Jewish community. She reminded me of what we both understood: ‘Mr. Secretary, If you give this speech, you’re going to lose some friends.’ I looked out of the window of my office over the Mall in Washington and said to Wendy, ‘I understand that. But I have done a number of things in my life because I thought it was the right thing, not because it was easy.'”

OTHER NOTABLE HIGHLIGHTS — Kerry acknowledged that the warm reception President Obama received when he visited Israel in March of 2013 “made the White House wish the president had traveled there during his first term.”

— Kerry on meeting with Netanyahu after the FAA suspended flightsto Israel during Operation Protective Edge: “It was the few times I saw Bibi very subdued, absent his normal energy and bravado. To see the leader of Israel under siege like that really touched me… I saw Bibi in that moment more vulnerable than I’d ever seen him before.”

When Kerry accused Netanyahu of leaking a confidential draft of a ceasefire deal with Hamas: “We were in the middle of negotiating it based on your input. Now I see it in the press? This is outrageous,” Kerry told Bibi in a phone call. “The humanitarian cease-fire was your idea. And now you leak this document to make it sound like I am trying to advance Hamas’s position?” An “element of personal trust had been lost,” Kerry writes.

Kerry on Bibi’s 2015 speech to Congress: “As an unwavering supporter of Israel who always viewed my differences with Bibi through a political, not personal lens, I was disappointed in him… I thought we deserved better than a speech that hit below the belt.”

Kerry on the Iran nuclear deal: “We always maintained our ability to bomb Iran if they didn’t comply.”

When Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif almost blew up the Iran deal: “This is insulting. You’re trying to threaten me!” he exclaimed, getting up to leave. “Never threaten an Iranian.” A brief silence followed, before Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov broke the tension: “Or a Russian!” [Simon&Schuster]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Trump discussed Iran during at a campaign rally in Evansville, Indiana: “If you look at what’s happening to Iran, they are not too happy. When I came into office, Iran was like this big power, and it was just a question of when are they going to take over the whole Middle East… They were looking at the Mediterranean far away. They were going to take it all over. And I said you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to terminate this stupid deal made by the previous administration. And I can tell you one thing: Iran is not looking at the Mediterranean any longer. Hopefully, that will all work out between us and Iran, but they have to live by a certain set of rules.” [Video]

Trump Says Iranian Regime May Collapse Because of His Policies — by John Micklethwait, Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev: “When I came into here, it was a question of when would they take over the Middle East,” Trump said Thursday in an Oval Office interview… “Now it’s a question of will they survive. It’s a big difference in one and a half years.” [Bloomberg]

Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal writes… “Why Republicans Stick With Trump: Since the campaign, Mr. Trump has abandoned many of his previous positions and embraced traditional conservative views… In February 2016, Mr. Trump claimed he would not take sides between Israel and the Palestinians, saying he would be “sort of a neutral guy.” Sen. Marco Rubio labeled this “an anti-Israel position.” … Yet… time and again, he has proved to be a reliable ally for Israel.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE REGION — Trump administration to end U.S. funding to U.N. program for Palestinian refugees — by Karen DeYoung and Ruth Eglash: “The Trump administration has decided to cancel all U.S. funding of the United Nations aid program for Palestinian refugees… In an announcement to be made within the next several weeks, the administration plans to voice its disapproval of the way the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, spends the funds and to call for a sharp reduction in the number of Palestinians recognized as refugees.” [WashPost

“Elizabeth Campbell, a spokeswoman for the United Nations relief agency, said that it had not yet been informed by the Trump administration that the government intended to end all financial support.” [NYT]

U.S. Official Says ‘No Change’ Planned in Policy on Palestinian Refugees, Contrary to Reports — by Amir Tibon: “The Trump administration is currently not planning to change its policy regarding the Palestinian “right of return,” a State Department official said on Thursday. The official said… that there is “no change at this time.” [Haaretz]

Jordan to lead fundraising for U.N. Palestinian agency after U.S. cuts — by Suleiman Al-Khalidi: “Jordan said on Thursday it would lead a campaign to raise funds for the U.N. agency that supports Palestinian refugees, to help it survive after the United States cut its funding. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said a meeting next month in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly would mobilize support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to continue core education and health services.”[Reuters] • Germany to boost funds for Palestinians after US cut [Ynet]

FDD’s Richard Goldberg: “Lots of sudden “controversy” about reports that the Trump administration might finally pull the plug on one of the greatest scams of the last 70 years: the myth of Palestinian refugees and its institutional manifestation UNRWA. But, it’s neither controversial nor sudden… Just another important step toward peace.”

Aaron David Miller: “The administration’s recent actions reflect an intent to redefine the parameters of U.S. policy in a way that will virtually assure rejection by Palestinians and key Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, thereby relieving pressure on Israel.” [Axios

Palestinians claim US interfering in their affairs — by Liad Osmo: “Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in response to… Jason Greenblatt’s comments regarding the PA handling of the Gaza issue: “The US government is interfering in internal Palestinian affairs and we will not allow this. Greenblatt is part of a scheme to transform the Palestinian issue from one of a nation yearning for independence into a mere humanitarian issue. The nation won’t accept this,” Rudeineh said.”[Ynet]

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Prime Minister Netanyahu at the renaming ceremony for the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center: “In the Middle East, and in many parts of the world, there is a simple truth: There is no place for the weak. The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end, peace is made with the strong.” [Transcript]

— The excerpt, which was tweeted out by Netanyahu’s official Twitter account, drew over 1,000 responses on Twitter.

Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi tells us… “Jewish history commands us to be strong and self-reliant. But it also forbids us from turning power into an ultimate value, which becomes a form of idolatry. We were powerless for two thousand years and were often slaughtered, but we didn’t crumble and we didn’t disappear from history, because we had an inner spiritual strength. Glorifying power debases us as a people.”

Hacking a Prince, an Emir and a Journalist to Impress a Client — by David Kirkpatrick and Azam Ahmed: “The rulers of the United Arab Emirates had been using Israeli spyware for more than a year, secretly turning the smartphones of dissidents at home or rivals abroad into surveillance devices. So when top Emirati officials were offered a pricey update of the spying technology, they wanted to make sure it worked, according to leaked emails submitted Thursday in two lawsuits against the spyware’s maker, the Israel-based NSO Group… Because Israel deems the spyware a weapon, the lawsuits note, the NSO Group and its affiliates could have sold it to the Emirates only with approval by the Israeli Defense Ministry.” [NYTimes

HAPPENING ON SUNDAY — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will kick off a four-day trip to Israel, the first such visit by a Philippine president since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1957. Duterte is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, tour Yad Vashem, and inaugurate a new Holocaust memorial in Rishon Lezion.

— David Horovitz writes… “Why are we opening our doors to him? As of this writing, Duterte is facing two complaints of murder and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court for alleged indiscriminate killings… His government acknowledges almost 5,000 deaths and 50,000 arrests in the drug war; human rights groups put the figures far higher, and say most of those dead are the urban poor… Rodrigo Duterte will land in Israel on Sunday night — professing friendship, seeking weaponry. This man has no place here.” [ToI

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Police say Sara Netanyahu suspect in Israel corruption case: Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israel’s prime minister, is suspected by authorities of accepting bribes in a corruption case involving Israel’s telecom giant… It was not immediately clear how Sara Netanyahu, who as the premier’s wife does not hold public office, might be charged with bribery.” [APLATimes

JARED INSIDER — Jared Kushner ramps up push for criminal justice reform — by Seung Min Kim and Anne Gearan: “Jared Kushner… is suddenly enjoying some renewed momentum on one of his prime projects — criminal justice reform — while facing major tests on a potential Mideast peace deal and a trade agreement with Mexico. The senior White House adviser with the seemingly ever-expansive portfolio spoke in a rare public setting on Thursday, making a surprise appearance on a conference call with reporters to promote criminal justice reform efforts on Capitol Hill.” [WashPost]

DRIVING THE DAY — US Canada Trade Talks Take On ‘Intense Rhythm’ — by Paul Vieira and Jacob Schlesinger: “Marathon trade talks between the U.S. and Canada moved into what Canada’s chief negotiator called “an intense rhythm,” as the two sides rushed to try to strike a deal by the Friday deadline… Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who arrived in Washington on Tuesday, met Thursday morning with Mr. Lighthizer and Jared Kushner… Messrs. Kushner and Lighthizer have been in talks with Canadian negotiators for at least six hours a day.” [WSJ]

COMING SOON: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will receive the Henry M. Scoop Jackson Award at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) annual awards dinner on October 10th at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. In recent years, the award was given to serving Senators and House members.

FOGGY BOTTOM — Satterfield emerges as leading candidate for U.S. envoy to Egypt: “David Satterfield, a veteran U.S. diplomat with deep experience in the Middle East, is the leading candidate to be nominated as U.S. ambassador to Egypt… Satterfield’s post as the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East will end if the U.S. Senate confirms David Schenker as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Satterfield has that job on an acting basis for nearly a year.” [Reuters]

Homeland Security staffer with white nationalist ties attended White House policy meetings — by Nick Miroff: “Ian M. Smith, a Department of Homeland Security analyst who resigned this week after he was confronted about his ties to white nationalist groups, attended multiple immigration policy meetings at the White House… Smith quit his job Tuesday after being questioned about personal emails he sent and received between 2014 and 2016… The messages… depict Smith engaging in friendly, casual conversations with prominent white supremacists and racists. In one email from 2015, Smith responded to a group dinner invitation whose host said his home would be “judenfrei,” a German word used by the Nazis during World War II.” [WashPostThe Atlantic]

SPOTLIGHT — Nobody Knows the Trump Organization Like Allen Weisselberg — by Shahien Nasiripour and Caleb Melby: “Weisselberg’s importance to the president eclipses his title. After more than 40 years serving the family, including Donald’s father, Fred, he’s the only person not named Trump whom the president trusts with his money… He “knows of every dime that leaves the building,” Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie wrote of Weisselberg last year.” [Bloomberg]

— “100 percent he didn’t,” Trump said Thursday in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News, when asked whether Weisselberg had turned on him or put him in legal jeopardy. “He’s a wonderful guy,” adding that the cooperation was related to “a very limited period of time.” [Bloomberg]

PROFILE — Why longtime Clinton strategist Mark Penn Is Sounding Trumpy — by Annie Karni: Penn is “comfortable with a comparison to Alan Dershowitz, the Democratic law professor who has become a favorite of Trump’s and a pariah on Martha’s Vineyard because of what people interpret as his vociferous defenses of the president. Dershowitz, however, doesn’t like that comparison. “Mark Penn is more involved in political assessments than I am, and his politics are slightly more conservative than mine are,” Dershowitz said in an interview. “I draw a sharp distinction between us. I would never use the term ‘Deep State.’ I attribute good faith to the Mueller investigation.” (Penn wrote a column last month titled, “The Dishonesty of the Deep State.”) [PoliticoMag]

REMEMBERING JOHN MCCAIN: Former colleagues and family members will pay tribute to the late John McCain at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda at 11 AM EDT. Speakers include Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. [CSPAN]

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer will represent the Israeli government at the weekend memorials in Washington, D.C.

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: There Is Only One Antidote to Silicon Valley’s Ills… Their Engineers [VanityFair] • Sheryl Sandberg is donating her entire 10% stake in her late husband’s company, SurveyMonkey, to charity after it goes public [BusinessInsider] • Sumner Redstone Goes Nationwide In Pre-Labor Day Legal Fights Over His Health [Deadline] • Bernie Sanders Is Officially Getting Under Jeff Bezos’s Skin [VanityFair] • How a business bootcamp is fostering Palestinian-Israeli collaboration [PBS

Tel Aviv Tries to Connect an Isolated Neighborhood — by Neri Zilber: “Israel’s left-wing activists and NGOs have, since the beginning of the migrant influx a decade ago, seen the Neve Shaanan neighborhood as a testing ground for liberal values, providing shelter for those fleeing war and oppression in countries like Sudan and Eritrea. Thus, despite the relative poverty of the area, there are determined sprouts of urban renewal: In August of last year, the Tel Aviv municipality helped establish a tech accelerator, co-working space, and training center for the neighborhood, The Platform… The idea for The Platform initially came from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which provided seed money for the project.” [CityLab]

A Building With Kosher Flourishes — by Jane Margolies: “A new Upper West Side co-op development called in a “kosher consultant” to advise it on how to ensure that the project would be attuned to the needs of observant Jews… To keep kosher at the strictest level, some Jews commission extensive renovations to install double kitchen sinks and two dishwashers — one for meat, the other for dairy. At the Chamberlain, at 269 West 87th Street, however, all that infrastructure is already installed… Given the building’s location, just east of West End Avenue — with its parade of Jewish families strolling to services on Saturdays, and the many synagogues, yeshivas and day schools in the area, the developers considered how to accommodate the needs of prospective buyers who might be observant Jews.” [NYT

‘Operation Finale’ and Israel’s improbable transformation — by Thane Rosenbaum: “The film [Operation Finale starring Sir Ben Kingsley] provides contemporary audiences with a reminder that targeted assassinations are not the only way to achieve international justice… Israel… could have clandestinely rid the world of Eichmann with a single bullet and avoided the condemnation it received for having abducted a citizen of a sovereign state… Operation Finale, the actual name the Israelis gave to the mission to apprehend Eichmann, was conceived as a coda to the Holocaust, a way of bringing justice to the Jewish people by putting the Holocaust itself on trial for the world to see.” [CNN]

Iran’s Jewish community is the largest in the Mideast outside Israel — by Kim Hjelmgaard: “Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian Jew, says life has improved for Jews under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Javedanfar left the country for Israel in 1987 as a teenager… Javedanfar said, for example, that Jewish children in Iran are no longer required to attend school on the Sabbath… He quickly pointed out: “The regime is not too concerned about its Jews as long as they don’t become involved in politics and don’t say anything positive about Israel.” [Nejat] Golshirazi the rabbi… also said Jews in Iran often enjoy extra social freedoms that Muslims do not, such as the ability to consume alcohol in a private setting…” [USAToday]

— Al Jazeera headline“Iran’s only Jewish hospital grapples with fallout of US sanctions”

REMEMBERING — Iosif Kobzon, Singer Dubbed ‘Soviet Sinatra,’ Dies at Age 80: “Iosif Kobzon, an iconic Russian crooner and political figure dubbed “the Soviet Sinatra” for his decades-long career, has died… Kobzon was born into a poor Jewish family in the eastern Ukrainian town of Chasov Yar in 1937 — in the darkest hour of purges instigated by Soviet leader Josef Stalin… He recorded albums with songs about World War II written by leading Soviet songwriters, sang opera arias as well as Russian and Ashkenazi Jewish folk songs and rediscovered dozens of popular songs dating back to the 1920s…. In 1989, Kobzon was elected to the first Soviet parliament. In the same year, as an influential member of the Soviet Jewish community, he participated in the talks that restored Soviet-Israeli diplomatic ties, which had been cut after the 1967 Mideast War.” [AP]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYTelevision and film actor, performer, director and producer, Larry Hankin turns 78… Howard Crim turns 76… World renowned violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman turns 73… Screenwriter for television and film, Lowell Ganz turns 70…2004 Nobel laureate in Physics and professor at California Institute of Technology, Hugh David Politzer turns 69… Professor of Journalism at American University and author of six books on marriage and relationships, Iris Krasnow turns 64… Owner of thoroughbred race horses including the 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Ahmed Zayat (a/k/a Ephraim David Zayat) turns 56… Deputy Communications Director at United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Jess Levin turns 34…

Senior director at Waxman Strategies, he was previously an account director at Racepoint Global, Nick Horowitz turns 33… Assistant counsel and manager of government relations at Cardinal Infrastructure, Bennett E. Resnik turns 30… Deputy Opinion Editor at The Forward, Laura E. Adkins… New York Times reporter in the Washington bureau covering Congress, Thomas Kaplan

SATURDAY — Harvard Law School professor (1967-2016), a scholar on constitutional and criminal law, he has represented a series of celebrity clients and is now a regular CNN contributor and political analyst, Alan Dershowitzturns 80… Conductor, author and composer, Leonard Slatkin turns 74… Israeli rock singer, lyricist and composer, he is often referred to as “The King of Israeli Rock,” Shalom Hanoch turns 72… Member of the Texas House of Representatives since 2005 and Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives since 2009 (the first Jewish Speaker in Texas), Joe Straus turns 59… EVP for worldwide corporate communications at Warner Brothers, following a DC career that included being the White House press secretary during the first two years of the Clinton administration, Dee Dee Myers turns 57…

Rabbi of Kehillat Etz Chayim of Detroit, Asher Lopatin turns 54… Clinical sciences group lead in the global product development group at Pfizer, Malca Resnick turns 54… Director of national outreach for the Jewish Institute for National Security of America since 2013, Harris Vederman turns 48… Novelist and playwright whose parents, Faye Kellerman and Jonathan Kellerman are both best-selling authors, Jesse Kellerman turns 40… Video producer at MSNBC, Amitai Perline turns 33… Linda Feldman… Nancy Finkel

SUNDAY — Los Angeles-based attorney who was part of the “Dream Team” that successfully defended OJ Simpson in 1995, he is a co-founder of two businesses, LegalZoom and RightCounsel, Robert Shapiro turns 76… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Shearith Israel Congregation since 1987, Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer turns 74… Lincolnwood, Illinois resident, Tobi Kelmer turns 72… Tech entrepreneur, he was the founder and CEO of AppliedTheory (1995-2002), now a consultant at Xynetics Group, Richard Mandelbaum turns 72… Born in a DP camp following the Holocaust, a member of the Knesset since 1999 for the United Torah Judaism party, he currently serves as Israel’s Deputy Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman turns 70… Television producer, attorney, legal analyst and celebrity reporter, he is the founder of celebrity news website TMZ, Harvey Levin turns 68… CEO since 2000 of Lions Gate Entertainment, the leading Canadian independent film studio, Jon Feltheimer turns 67…

Retired President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Lee Wunsch turns 66… Editor in Chief of Yahoo News, author of a book on President Obama’s war on terror, formerly Managing Editor of Newsweek, Daniel Klaidman turns 54… Washington correspondent for the Fox News Channel, James Rosen turns 50… Founder of Israeli media organization TheMarker and a deputy publisher of the Haaretz daily newspaper, he is also a clinical professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Guy Rolnik turns 50… Serial entrepreneur, co-founder and chairman of Groupon and co-founder of two other public companies and a venture capital firm, Eric Lefkofsky turns 49… Refugee from Iran in 1979, now the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust at the US Department of Justice, Makan Delrahimturns 49… Executive Producer at PBS’s Frontline, the flagship investigative journalism series at PBS, Raney Aronson-Rath turns 48… DC-based US tax policy reporter for The Wall Street Journal since 2015, he previously held similar posts at Bloomberg News and Congressional Quarterly, Richard Rubin turns 40… Seth Zweifler turns 27…

MONDAY — Pioneer of the modern cable television industry, chairman and CEO of Warner Cable Communications (1973-1983), Gustave M. Hauserturns 89… Betty Lederman turns 74… Actor, producer, author and voice artist, best known for portraying Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos, more recently he has appeared as a regular in CBS’s “Blue Bloods,” Steve Schirripaturns 61… Historian and progressive journalist who has written three books on the rise of the American conservative movement (focused on Goldwater, Nixon and Reagan), Eric S. “Rick” Perlstein turns 49… CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Avital Ingber turns 37… Venezuelan-born son of two United Nations officials, he is a digital media and political strategist who is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Left Hook Communications, Joel Kliksberg turns 34… Managing Partner of Tax Equity Advisors and former director of the DOE’s $50 billion loan programs office, Jonathan Silver




Daily Kickoff: “The less united Europe is, the better” — says Israel’s Michael Oren

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SIREN — One Dead, 17 Sickened From Salmonella Linked to Kosher Chicken — by Tyler Pager: “A person in New York has died and 17 people from four states were sickened from a salmonella outbreak linked to chicken from the largest kosher poultry producer in the United States, Empire Kosher, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. The outbreak started in September 2017 and the last case was reported in June 2018.” [NYTCNN]

Snapchat’s Snap Map Is Currently Showing “Jewtropolis” Instead Of “New York City” — by Ryan Broderick: “Outraged Snapchat users started tweeting screenshots on Thursday morning of their Snap Maps displaying “Jewtropolis” instead of “New York City.” The name change appears to be the fault of Mapbox, the third-party mapping data startup that Snapchat uses to power its Snap Map. [BuzzFeedNBC]

DEEP DIVE — The New Lobbying: Qatar Targeted 250 Trump ‘Influencers’ to Change U.S. Policy — by Julie Bykowicz: “Longtime New York restaurateur Joey Allaham visited Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue late last year with an offer for lawyer Alan Dershowitz. Come visit Doha, the capital of Qatar, by invitation of the emir… The professor… didn’t know he was on a list of 250 people Mr. Allaham says he and his lobbying-business partner, Nick Muzin, identified as influential in President Trump’s orbit… “We want to create a campaign,” Mr. Allaham says he told Qatari officials in his business pitch soon after the blockade, “where we are getting into his head as much as possible.” The Qataris agreed to their influencer-list proposal, and the pair quickly set sights on Mr. Dershowitz.”

“They also arranged meetings in the U.S. between Qatari officials and some Trump associates, they say, including Steve Witkoff, a fellow New York developer with no history in politics… Messrs. Allaham and Muzin say they stopped working for Qatar in June; federal filings show they remain registered agents of Qatar. In July, they formed a lobbying and investment-advisory firm, Stonington Global… Messrs. Allaham and Muzin decline to say if they have clients.” [WSJ]

TRENDS — Nationalism Is Bringing Together Israel and Eastern Europe — by David Wainer and Milda Seputyte: “Netanyahu has been busy building ties with a region increasingly at odds with the European mainstream… The axis of nationalist dissent that’s split Europe… presents an opportunity for him. “Israel’s interest is to break up European unity on Israel-related issues,” says Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and a deputy minister in Netanyahu’s office. “To me, the less united Europe is, the better. I’m optimistic about that. A united Europe hasn’t been a blessing for this country.”

“For [Viktor] Orbán and other Eastern European leaders, Israel also offers an all-important route to Washington… “Netanyahu can upgrade their access to the White House,” says Alon Liel, a former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “Contact with Netanyahu is half the way to Washington.”[Bloomberg]

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolski write… “What Is Trump Getting for Sucking Up to Saudi Arabia? The U.S. should tell the Saudis that it wants to work with them on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that has a chance of succeeding—and acknowledge that this will require addressing both Israeli and Palestinians concerns on Jerusalem and statehood. If the U.S. is prepared to stand up and outline a credible path toward a two-state solution with a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem, it should expect the Saudis to find more dramatic ways to demonstrate their public acceptance of Israel in the region.” [PoliticoMag]

TALK OF THE REGION — In a statement issued yesterday, Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for seeking to undermine ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas in Gaza: “The Palestinian Authority cannot criticize from the sidelines. The Palestinian Authority should be part of the solution for the Palestinians of Gaza and Palestinians as a whole. If not, others will fill that void,” Greenblatt said. “Leadership is about making hard choices… It is time for the Palestinian Authority to lead the Palestinian people – all Palestinians – to a better future.”

Trump Wants to Help Israel by Cutting Aid to Palestinians. Why are Some Israelis Worried? —by Neri Zilber: “It’s clear to me that there will be a storm and [these steps] may lead to a wave of terror,” Col. Grisha Yakubovich, a retired Israeli military officer who served in the unit that oversees civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, told me. The administration is clearly hoping that the economic pressure will get the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table… But Eviatar, the retired Israeli intelligence officer, said the chances of success were not high. “They’ll get the opposite result,” he told me, referring to the Trump team. “The Palestinians won’t come back to the table. It just won’t happen.” [ForeignPolicy]

Trump turns away from the Palestinians — by Laura Rozen: “Our role traditionally has been firefighter,” [Ilan] Goldenberg, who now heads Middle East programs at the Center for New American Security, told Al-Monitor. “Now we are acting like the arsonist. … Here we are encouraging them to do stupid things.” [Al-Monitor]

UNGA WATCH — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said in an interview today with the Voice of Palestine that Abbas will announce his “categorical rejection” of Trump’s peace plan in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly next month. Maliki added that Abbas will present his UN Security Council speech from last February as the alternative plan for peace.

REPORT — Palestinian President Abbas’ Health Seriously Deteriorating: “Palestinian sources claimed Wednesday evening that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ health has seriously deteriorated, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported. According to the report, senior officials who visited Abbas recently in honor of the Eid al-Adha holiday were surprised to learn that he did not remember them at all. The Palestinian president only manages to work in his office for a couple of hours a day.” [Haaretz]

— Palestinian official tells Times of Israel: “The president has been coming to work regularly. He has been coming to work for four hours in the morning and early afternoon and then again in the evening for five hours.”[ToI]

ON THE GROUND — No Matter Who Wins the Syrian Civil War, Israel Loses — by David Kenner: “We can do a lot,” Yaakov Amidror, a former national-security adviser for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told me. “We cannot do everything, but we can do a lot to force the Iranians to decide if they are ready to pay the price” for their intervention in Syria.”[TheAtlantic]

At Dimona reactor, Netanyahu warns Israel’s foes they risk ruin — by Dan Williams: “Those who threaten to wipe us out put themselves in a similar danger, and in any event will not achieve their goal,” [Netanyahu] said during a ceremony to rename the complex, near the desert town of Dimona, after the late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres… “The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) will continue acting with full determination and with full might against Iran’s attempts to station forces and advanced weapons systems in Syria.” [Reuters]

Declassified Interrogation Reports Show How Much Iran Shaped Iraq War — by Michael Gordon and Ben Kesling: “Recently declassified U.S. interrogation reports shed new light on one of Iraq’s most prominent Shiite political figures and Iran’s role in training and arming Iraqi militias that attacked U.S. troops during the Iraq war. The interrogations of Qais al-Khazali, the leader of a major Shiite militia group that is trying to carve out a political role in Iraq, were conducted a decade ago after he was captured by the American-led coalition.” [WSJ]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Allies fear Trump isn’t prepared for gathering legal storm — by Philip Rucker, Carol Leonnig, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker: “The president and some of his advisers have discussed possibly adding veteran defense attorney Abbe Lowell, who currently represents… Jared Kushner, to Trump’s personal legal team if an impeachment battle or other fights with Congress emerge after the midterm elections… Lowell declined to comment, and people familiar with the talks said it was unclear whether he would have the time for or interest in working for Trump, considering that he already represents Kushner.” [WashPost]

Don McGahn to Leave White House Counsel Job This Fall, Trump Says — by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman: “Allies of Mr. McGahn said on Wednesday that he believed the story was planted by his critics to force the president’s hand and hasten the timeline of announcing his departure. Among those critics have been Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Ms. Trump complained bitterly to her father about The Times report this month, which detailed how some in the White House were unaware of the extent of Mr. McGahn’s cooperation with Mr. Mueller.” [NYTimes]

— Trump tweets this morning: “Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner had NOTHING to do with the so called “pushing out” of Don McGahn.The Fake News Media has it, purposely, so wrong! They love to portray chaos in the White House when they know that chaos doesn’t exist-just a “smooth running machine” with changing parts!”

Inside Stephen Miller’s hostile takeover of immigration policy — by Nahal Toosi: “Over time, though, even Trump has become aware of how far to the right Miller is on the issue, and he listens to other voices, a former White House official said. “Trump will sometimes say, ‘Well, yeah, but you’re so tough on this stuff, Stephen,’” the former official said. Still, Trump also sees how well the hard-line stance plays with his Republican base, and he relies on Miller to flesh out much of his immigration policy.” [Politico]

2018 WATCH — Alma Hernandez, millennial Mexican-American Jewish woman, wins in Arizona primary: “Alma Hernandez, a 25-year-old Mexican-American Jew, finished in the top two in her Democratic primary for the Arizona statehouse… there are two open spots for state representative — allowing her to advance… If elected, Hernandez would be the first Hispanic Jewish woman to hold elected office in the state, if not the country.” [JTA]

BACKGROUND — Hernandez converted to Judaism in 2015 after learning that her maternal grandfather was Jewish. “She is involved in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee… She ends many of her Tweets with hashtags that demonstrate her multicultural leanings: #IStandWithIsrael… Straddling two identities can, at times, raise minor conflicts. For example, being a progressive Democrat who vocally supports Israel’s right to defend itself is “hard right now,” concedes Hernandez. “But you need to stand up for what you believe in.” [FastCompany]

Albany Hopeful Julia Salazar Defends Jewish Identity — by Doug Chandler: “Interviewed on the outdoor patio of her Bushwick headquarters last Friday, Salazar… said she underwent a formal conversion in 2012 with a Reform rabbi at Columbia/Barnard Hillel after a two-month conversion course. Pressed for details, she said the course was taught by someone she believes was a rabbinic intern who left before the end of it for paternity leave. She also said she chose not to have any formal ceremony marking her conversion.”[JewishWeek]

Peter Thiel Makes His First Six-Figure Donation for the Midterms — by Bill Allison: “Billionaire investor Peter Thiel made his first big midterm donation to the Republican National Committee, giving $101,700 to the GOP in July through a joint fundraising committee that also raises money for President Donald Trump’s re-election committee.”

“Billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam are the biggest donors in the midterms, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, with $55.7 million in contributions to Republican candidates, party committees and supporting super-PACs.” [Bloomberg]

MD GOV — Most Hogan cash comes from Maryland; Jealous finds donors here and nationally — by Erin Cox: “Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner, his wife, Annette, and their son Mark together donated $15,875 to the Larry Hogan campaign… Some of Ben Jealous’s top contributors were billionaires George and Alexander Soros, billionaire Tom Steyer, and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs and founder of the advocacy group the Emerson Collective. Other major donors include David Trone, a Potomac Democrat running for Congress and his wife, June.” [WashPost]

2020 WATCH — Mulling 2020 run, LA mayor to visit South Carolina Democrats — by Meg Kinnard: “Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is returning to South Carolina next month… The Charleston County Democratic Party said Wednesday that Garcetti will give the keynote address at next month’s Blue Jam… This is Garcetti’s second trip in a year to South Carolina, home to the first-in-the-South presidential primary.” [AP] • Los Angeles to rename Rodeo Road after former President Barack Obama [CBSNews]

Cuomo, Citing God and Death, Rules Out 2020 Presidential Run — by Shane Goldmacher: “In his firmest denial of presidential ambitions yet, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday that, if re-elected, he would finish a full third term as New York’s governor — or die trying. “The only caveat is if God strikes me dead,” Mr. Cuomo said during Wednesday night’s debate with Cynthia Nixon.” [NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: BlackRock’s Decade: How the Crash Forged a $6.3 Trillion Giant [Bloomberg] • Mike Bloomberg Moves New Forum for Elites From China Amid Fallout of Trade War [NYTimes] • Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management to Buy Aspen Insurance for $2.6 Billion [InsuranceJournal] • Billionaire Patrick Drahi Will Soon Have to Swallow His Pride [Bloomberg] • Koch brother paid cash for Joseph Chetrit’s $40M mansion [TheRealDeal] • Paul Singer’s hedge fund values Sky at more than $34B [NYPost] • WeWork close to inking huge lease at 1 WTC[TheRealDeal] • i24NEWS begins English broadcasts in Israel [Globes]

MEDIA WATCH — The Sale of Time, Fortune, and S.I. Enters the 9th Inning — by Joe Pompeo: “Among media insiders, the Fortune sale in particular has provoked a rather tenacious piece of gossip: that Salesforce C.E.O. Marc Benioff either was, or still is, or had been but is no longer, in the mix.” [VanityFair]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Slack CEO & co-founder Stewart Butterfieldtalks about growing up as Dharma (his birth name) in a small fishing village in Lund, British Columbia on the Bloomberg Studio 1.0 podcast with Emily Chang: “My mom tells this funny story: around a mile away from us there was another family and they had a son who was, maybe, 6 months younger than me and his name was Noah, and he was the only other kid I knew. So it turns out that I understood Noah to mean ‘other’ child as opposed to that was his name. [Once] she took me on a train to go see family back East. I have never been anywhere where there are this many people around, and I go onto the train and I go, ‘Noah, noah, noah, noah’ – because I didn’t realize that there were other children. So that’s a little bit weird.” [Bloomberg]

HOLLYWOOD — Happy 25th anniversary to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, a show that could have only ever happened in America — by Joshua Rivera: “The first thing you have to understand about Power Rangers is that it is a monster of mad science, cobbled together in a lab by a businessman who saw an opportunity to turn around a show kids would love for cheap. Haim Saban is the first reason Power Rangers is uniquely American, and only partly because he’s the reason why the show exists. Born in Egypt to a Jewish family, Saban would eventually immigrate to the States in the ’80s to start Saban Entertainment. One day Saban, the story goes, saw the Japanese show Bioman, and never got over it.” [GQ]

SCOTUS WATCH — Jay Lefkowitz, a senior partner at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm, writes… “Brett Kavanaugh Is a Mensch: I was a young partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis and had been involved in several religious-freedom cases, so I wasn’t surprised when the [Temple Adat Shalom] synagogue asked me to represent them pro bono. I asked another young partner at the firm, Brett Kavanaugh, to join me… The point person for the congregation was Matt Nosanchuk, who later became President Obama’s liaison to the Jewish community…”

“Despite our political differences, Brett and I found common ground with Matt on the issues in the case… The sensitivity and professionalism that Brett brought to the Adat Shalom case have always been his hallmarks. I had the pleasure of working together with Brett on other matters in private practice and again when we were colleagues in the [George W. Bush] White House. Brett combines great intellect with superb judgment and equanimity.” [NationalReview]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Schlepping to Camp to Keep Yiddish Alive — by Leslie Brody: “Just as at many summer camps, there are cabins, a lake and campfire singalongs. The main draw to Yiddishland, however, is the language… The annual weeklong retreat, held earlier this month, draws a small but growing group of devotees to Hopewell Junction, N.Y., about 70 miles north of New York City. For many, learning Yiddish offers a nostalgic link to Jewish roots and grandparents from Eastern Europe who spoke it every day… Formally called “Trip to Yiddishland,” it has more than doubled its enrollment since it was founded 11 years ago by the Workmen’s Circle.” [WSJ]

ACROSS THE POND — Jeremy Corbyn ignored Israeli Labour’s invitation to visit Yad Vashem, Isaac Herzog says: “Jeremy Corbyn ignored an invitation from Israel’s Labour Party to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem… Isaac Herzog told the JC he wrote to the Labour leader to make the offer in 2016 but never received a reply.” [TheJC]

No, Jeremy Corbyn Did Not Give a Speech at the Wedding of a Palestinian Holocaust Denier —by Yair Rosenberg: “Back in 2010, Corbyn spoke at [Husam] Zomlot’s wedding, where photos captured him celebrating with the bride and groom… The resulting headline? “The day Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech at wedding of a Holocaust ‘denying’ PLO man.” The only problem with this narrative-affirming story is that it’s not true. The basis for the claim is a 2014 interview Zomlot gave to the BBC, where he appeared to suggest that both the Holocaust and the ISIS murder of journalist James Foley were “fabricated” by Israel. But a closer listen to the exchange reveals that Zomlot’s real offense was not atrocity denial, but his poor English.”[Tablet]

REMEMBERING — Henry Arnhold, Patriarch of a Storied Banking Family, Dies at 96 — by Emily Flitter: “Henry Arnhold, the last member of a generation of prominent German Jewish bankers who escaped Nazi persecution, re-established their family business in the New World and later helped rebuild Dresden after the fall of the Iron Curtain, died on Aug. 23 at his home in Manhattan… Mr. Arnhold’s governing principle, according to his family and close friends, was to seek companionship and joy — through good food, tennis and art — while eschewing any dark view of humanity that might accompany his status as a Holocaust survivor… He employed George Soros there for a decade beginning in the early 1960s, and after Mr. Soros began accumulating his billions the firm served as his prime broker.” [NYTimes]

‘Man of the Shadows’ Benjamin Blumberg Dies at 95 — by Ofer Aderet: “Benjamin Vered, originally Blumberg, who died on Wednesday at 95, held the most sensitive security positions in Israel for three decades. Some of the operations he orchestrated – at times with the help of producer Arnon Milchan – resembled scenes from a Hollywood thriller. In 1968, according to foreign media, Benjamin Blumberg ran a global operation to smuggle “yellow cake” (natural uranium) to the nuclear reactor in Dimona. The “cake,” originating in the Congo, was loaded in Antwerp on a ship owned by a Mossad-owned straw company and moved at sea to an Israel-bound Zim ship. At the same time, Blumberg somehow made sure American inspectors, who were sent to the reactor, didn’t notice what was going on there behind the scenes.”[Haaretz]

DESSERT — Beyond Bagels: Your Guide to the Iconic Jewish Food of NYC — by Tracy Soren: “If you grew up with a Jewish grandmother, you’re likely more than familiar with dishes like chopped liver and borscht. But if you didn’t, your knowledge of the cuisine might not go much further than your go-to bagel and lox—in which case, it’s time to change that… From the institutions of the Lower East Side to new-school deli counters stocked with Dr. Brown’s, here’s how to eat your way through the city’s Jewish food scene, one knish at a time.” [PureWow]

Arthurs Nosh Bar: The Saint-Henri Jewish(ish) deli with lines out the door — by Carey Polis: “This is the place for people who are serious about brunching but require actually good food versus the unlimited mimosas and pale omelets that plague too many spots. Arthurs Nosh Bar fills up quickly with a mix of girlfriends catching up over brunch, young families, and out-of-towners in the know. On nice days, snag a seat outside if you can.”[BonAppetit]

Karlie Kloss will wed Josh Kushner ‘on his New Jersey farm in 2019’ in front of guests like Taylor Swift and Ivanka Trump — by Heidi Parker: “Karlie Kloss and Josh Kushner… will wed in New Jersey in 2019, according to Life & Style magazine, and the event will be small with only family and the closest of friends.  Family includes his brother Jared, who is married to Ivanka Trump, and friends will include her best pal Taylor Swift.”[DailyMail]

BIRTHDAYS: Founding partner of 25Madison, a new startup studio and incubator, and former Executive Vice President of Time Warner, he was the founding editor of “George” together with JFK, Jr., Gary L. Ginsberg turns 56 (see Gary’s birthday Q&A with Politico this morning)… Basketball star in both the US and Israel, a first round pick of the Baltimore Bullets in the 1965 NBA draft, Tal Brody turns 75… Stand-up comedian Lewis Black turns 70… Hasidic Rebbe of Zvhil-Mezhbizh, based in Boston, Miami and Jerusalem, Rabbi Yitzhak Aharon (Ira) Korff turns 69… Producer for CBS News “48 Hours,” Murray Weiss turns 67… Israeli vocalist who sings in Hebrew, Turkish and Spanish, he was a judge in the inaugural season of “The Voice Israel” on Israeli television, Shlomi Shabat turns 64… Rosh yeshivah at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa and the rabbi of Kibbutz Lavi, he served as a member of the Knesset for the Meimad party (2002-2003), Rabbi Yehuda Gilad turns 63…

Active in CJP (the Jewish Federation of Boston), co-chair of Acharai (CJP’s volunteer leadership development program) and a co-founder of Maoz (a leadership network in Israel), Deborah Cogen Swartz… Business manager of the Perth Amboy (NJ) Free Public Library, Herschel Chomsky turns 58… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, former executive editor of The Times of London where he remains a weekly political columnist, and is now associate editor, Baron Daniel Finkelstein turns 56… Associate Producer at Fox News Channel, Eldad Yaron turns 45… Director of search and analytics for Politico, Mitchell Schuler turns 41… Founding partner of the Boston office of 4CM+M and a leading political fundraiser in Massachusetts, Julia Hoffman turns 36… Account director in the national issue advocacy practice of BerlinRosen Public Affairs, Margy Levinson (h/ts Playbook)… Mati Geula Cohen




Daily Kickoff: Sheldon-backed Ron DeSantis to face Soros-backed Andrew Gillum in Florida Governor race

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PRIMARY RESULTS — FLORIDA: In the 6th Congressional District, Nancy Soderberg, a former Bill Clinton National Security aide and U.S. Representative at the United Nations, won the Democratic primary to replace Rep. Ron DeSantis. In J Street’s endorsement of her candidacy, the group highlighted Soderberg’s role in passing the UN Security Council resolution endorsing Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.

In the 9th District, former Congressman Alan Grayson got trounced by incumbent Rep. Darren Soto, losing his comeback bid by 33 percentage points. In the 16th District, Democrat David Shapiro claimed victory over Jan Schneider to take on incumbent Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) in the fall. In the 18th District, Lauren Baer won the Democratic primary to compete against incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R). In the 19th District, David Holden advancedto take on incumbent Rep. Francis Rooney (R).

In the 22nd District, incumbent Rep. Ted Deutch (D) cruised to an easy reelection. In the 23rd District, Joe Kaufman will once again challenge incumbent Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) in a 3-way race with independent Tim Canova. In the 27th District, Maria Elvira Salazar and former Bill Clinton Cabinet member Donna Shalala will face off to claim the seat of retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R). The seat is rated ‘Lean Democratic’ by the Cook Political Report. Rep. Lois Frankel’s seat, in the 21st District, was uncontested.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR RACE: Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL06) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won their respective parties’ primaries to compete for the open seat vacated by outgoing Governor, and current senatorial candidate, Rick Scott (R). Gillum, backed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer, scored an upset win against the two leading candidates Gwen Graham and Philip Levine, and real estate investor Jeff Greene. DeSantis was backed by President Donald Trump and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson.

— Donors on Desantis’ ‘Finance Leadership Team‘ include: Roger Hertog, Phil Rosen, Rebekah Mercer, Bernie Marcus, George Lindemann, Simon Falic, Cherna Moskowitz, Marc Goldman, Carlyn and Lothar Mayer, Mark and Erica Gerson, Elissa and Edward Czuker, along with Elliott Broidy.

— RJC Vice Chair Phil Rosen tells us: “Ron DeSantis is one of the great friends of Israel in politics and the world today. I’ve been with him to Israel three times. He led the effort to move the embassy to Jerusalem way before President Trump and the administration took it on. He even went to Jerusalem to scout out locations. On every issue he’s been a great friend of Israel. He led the effort on Iran. He’s also a great leader for the state of Florida and I think he’ll be one of the greatest Governors.”

— How Ron DeSantis won the Fox News primary — by Marc Caputo: “It has felt a lot like I’m running against the Seinfeld candidate,” [Adam] Putnam said. “The campaign’s being run out of studio. They have a smattering of celebrity guest appearances. And at the end of the day, it’s all about nothing. But unlike Seinfeld, it’s not funny.” [Politico

— Andrew Weinstein, a Florida-based attorney and prominent Democratic donor, emails us: “Last night was a great night to be a Florida Democrat. Turnout was through the roof, and in nominating Andrew Gillum, the party chose an exciting and dynamic candidate for governor who will help turn the state blue again. I am absolutely certain that the party will immediately come together to support his candidacy. The Republicans, on the other hand, selected a Trump wannabe with an A+ rating from the NRA and an undistinguished career in Congress. Pick any issue — immigration, gun safety, LGBT rights, healthcare — and DeSantis has a position contrary to that of most Floridians. Florida elections are always close, but in Gillum the Democrats have a candidate with a real shot at taking the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years.”

Outgoing Governor Rick Scott secured the GOP Senate nomination to challenge incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D).

ARIZONA: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9) will face off against Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ-2) for Senator Jeff Flake’s seat after winning their respective primaries.

MIDTERMS — GOP tries to tie torch-bearing Charlottesville protest to Democrat in Va. Congressional race — by Laura Vozzella: “The Republican Party of Virginia has distributed a flier that accuses a Democrat running for Congress of being anti-Semitic. The party bases that allegation on a 1991 book Leslie Cockburn co-wrote that is highly critical of U.S.-Isaeli covert operations. “Racists in Charlottesville chanted ‘Jews will not replace us.’ Leslie Cockburn’s book adds fuel to the fire,” reads the mailer, which mixes pictures of torch-bearing protesters with photos of Cockburn and her book, “Dangerous Liaison.” “Reject anti-Semitism. Reject Leslie Cockburn.” [WashPost]

C.I.A. Officer-Turned-Candidate Says PAC Obtained Her Security Application — by Michael Tackett: “Abigail Spanberger, the Democratic candidate challenging Representative Dave Brat of Virginia [in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District], sent a cease-and-desist letter to Corry Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which has raised more than $100 million to help Republicans in the midterm elections… Ms. Spanberger said in [an] interview that she had become suspicious that the application had been leaked because Republican-aligned groups conducting “push polling” in the race had been asking respondents whether they knew she had once taught at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., an international baccalaureate program.” [NYTimes

Cruz allies sound alarm about Texas Senate race — by Alex Isenstadt: “Republicans are sounding the alarm about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s closer-than-expected reelection contest… The White House… has been monitoring the contest. Two senior Republicans said they expected President Donald Trump, who fought bitterly with Cruz during in the 2016 presidential race, to hit the trail for the Texas Republican ahead of the November election.” [Politico]

Pro-Israel group helps raise $500,000 for embattled Menendez: “A leading pro-Israel political action committee says it has helped raise over $500,000 for Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J… who is in an unexpectedly tight race… The most recent NORPAC fundraiser for Menendez was on Monday, at $1,000 a plate.” [JTA]

2020 WATCH — Bloomberg to headline Pennsylvania Democratic fundraiser — by David Siders: “Michael Bloomberg will headline a Democratic Party fundraiser in Pennsylvania in October, as the billionaire mulls a run for president in 2020.” [Politico]

TALK OF THE REGION — U.S. to End All Funding to U.N. Agency That Aids Palestinian Refugees — by Colum Lynch: “The Trump administration has decided to end funding altogether [to UNRWA], several sources told Foreign Policy… The decision was made at a meeting earlier this month between President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo… The administration has informed key regional governments in recent weeks of its plan.”

“The decision underscored the influence of Kushner and Nikki Haley… who have overcome resistance to the cuts from the Pentagon, the U.S. intelligence community, and the State Department under the leadership of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.” [ForeignPolicy

HEARD YESTERDAY — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ National Security Summit in Washington, DC: “If the region doesn’t invest in those areas, why are we being faulted for not investing in those areas? They have to have skin in the game. They’re the ones that fight me every day on Israel issues, but yet they don’t give a penny more than they have to.”

“Our job is not to take the beatings that you give us, saying we’re not kind to Palestinians and then turn around pay for them. Our job is to make sure that, look, we’ll be a partner with you, but only on a partner basis of something you believe in. So you show us you care, and then we’ll come back and decide if we’re going to give.” [Video]

— State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert at a press briefing: “I think we believe at this time that it is not providing value to the U.S. taxpayer.”

ON THE HILL: “UNRWA needs to be reformed,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who serves on the Senate foreign aid panel, told Al-Monitor. “Cutting off aid is also not the solution. There’s something in between that.” … “We have to be a little careful,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told Al-Monitor. “I’m not in any way criticizing what [the Trump administration is] doing, but we have to be a little bit careful in not emboldening Israel too much as it relates to Gaza.” … Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who sits on both the Foreign Relations Committee and foreign aid spending panel, told Al-Monitor that the aid cuts “will lead to more desperation on the part of those people who live in Gaza and have the potential to produce further violence.” [Al-Monitor]

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH: During its weekly meeting held in Ramallah City yesterday, the Palestinian Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, condemned the Trump administration’s “persistent attempts to blackmail” the Palestinian leadership to succumb to the “meaningless so-called ‘Deal of the Century'” through drastic cuts in U.S. assistance. [MaanNews]

REPORT — Abbas backs demilitarized Palestinian state, says funds better spent on schools: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of visiting Israeli academics that he preferred devoting funds to education and institutions than to an army, the Kan public broadcaster reported. “I support a state along the 1967 borders without an army. I want unarmed police forces with batons, not guns,” Abbas reportedly said in Ramallah.” [ToIKan] • Abbas says he opposes solution to refugee issue that would ‘destroy Israel’ [ToI]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on a conference call with the American Jewish Congress: “There’s no schedule [for the rollout of Trump’s peace plan]. I would imagine that we will roll something out. I hesitate even to put a month on it because it has shifted as we continue to listen and talk to people. So it’s not imminent. There are some rumors that we might present something at the UN [General Assembly]. It’s not going to happen. We will release it. We’re just trying to think of when we think is the right time, garnered to get the most positive response and maybe make the most progress.”

Friedman also clarified Trump’s comments last week that Israel will pay ‘a higher price’ for the Jerusalem embassy move: “The President feels that if the parties are lucky enough to be sitting in a room and making progress, he might say to the Israelis, ‘Look, can you do a little bit more? Look what we did for you. Is there’s something more that you could do?’ It’s not that he has something specific in mind, but just that under the circumstances that the United States has engaged in really significant good faith efforts to strengthen Israel and strengthen its historical multi-thousand-year connection to Jerusalem, maybe the Israelis could make it clear by leaning in a little bit as well. That’s all it meant… I was there when the [Jerusalem] decision was made. I was there watching it and advocating for it in real time. There is not and there never was any demand made of Israel that they do anything in exchange for the Embassy move.”

During the conference call, Friedman boasted about Trump’s high popularity in Israel: “President Trump has the highest popularity rating in Israel of any country in the world. You know, if his popularity rating were this high in the United States I don’t think the Democrats would even field a candidate [in 2020].”

IRAN SANCTIONS — Iran ‘put on notice’ for ‘continued mischief’ in Middle East, says US Defense Secretary — by Mythili Sampathkumar: “Defense Secretary James Mattis called Iran the “single biggest destabilising element” in the Middle East during a rare press conference at the Pentagon along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford… He warned they are “going to be held to account for it” but did not going into detail about what that entailed.” [IndependentRealClearPolitics]

Nikki Haley Warns That Iran Could Become ‘the Next North Korea’ — by Uri Friedman: “U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that she “never thought the Iran deal could be fixed.” … “You could change it to be a better deal, but you couldn’t change it to be a good deal,” she said during an appearance at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies… Haley described Iran as part of the Trump administration’s broader challenge of confronting nuclear proliferation among U.S. adversaries. “Look at North Korea. Look at how we’re pulling teeth to get them to stop” their nuclear-weapons program, she noted. “We’re not gonna get Iran to stop [once it acquires nuclear weapons].” [TheAtlantic]

— Brian Hook, Special Envoy on Iran, at FDD: “I think we tolerated a lot of Iranian bad behavior to get the Iran nuclear deal, and we tolerated much worse behavior to keep the Iran deal going… If you look at the gains that Iran has made during the period from the adoption of the deal to the present, you can’t deny them. You can’t deny those gains. They’re concrete, they’re real and they’re across the Middle East… Now that we’re out of the deal, it has really given us a great deal of diplomatic freedom to pursue the initiatives, whether it’s sanctions, deterrence, diplomacy that can address the entire range of Iran’s violent and destructive behavior.” [Transcript]

Richard Goldberg and Behnam Ben Taleblu write… “You Can Run, but You Can’t Hide From Iran Sanctions: Given the current strength of the U.S. dollar and the deterrent power of secondary sanctions, no legitimate actor will want to use a payment channel that cannot do business in dollars and subjects all participants to a total cutoff from the U.S. financial system…”[WSJ]

A city where Israel, U.S. are condemned and Trump is mocked as leader of the free world — by Kim Hjelmgaard: “At the entrance to the school [in Qum, Iran], two murals of the flags of Israel and the United States had been painted on the ground so that they could be trampled on over and over again – an effortlessly repeatable insult to two nations that Iran’s religious leaders have long disliked.” [USAToday] • Iran’s hard-line former president has reemerged on Twitter, and he’s tweeting about Serena and LeBron [WashPost]

ON THE GROUND — Iran says to maintain military presence in Syria despite U.S. pressure — by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin: “Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami visited Damascus on Saturday for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and senior military officials. He signed a deal for military cooperation in a meeting with his Syrian counterpart… “The continued presence of Iranian (military) advisers in Syria was part of this military cooperation agreement between Tehran and Damascus,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Tehran’s military attache to Damascus, Abolqassem Alinejad, as saying.” [Reuters

SCENE IN DC: Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin yesterday in Washington, DC. “Fantastic to see Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon again,” Mnuchin tweeted. “Israel is a great friend and ally to the USA!” [Pic]

Israel, US to set up joint team to enforce Iran sanctions — by Michael Bachner: “Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and his American counterpart, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, agreed Tuesday to set up a joint team to improve the enforcement of financial sanctions on Iran in the high-tech field, Kahlon’s office said.” [ToI]

— Kahlon also met with Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt to discuss “joint Israeli-Palestinian economic projects supported by the United States.” [Pic]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… Attorney for Michael Cohen keeps changing his story on Trump Tower meeting — by Jim Sciutto and Carl Bernstein: “Lanny Davis has offered many variations of his client’s knowledge regarding the meeting in Trump Tower but says he is now less certain about Cohen’s claims. “I should have done a much better job of speaking with more suspicion than certainty, and I regret my mistake,” Davis told CNN.” [CNN]

Touring Michael Cohen’s New York — by Tyler Foggatt: “One imagines future tourists signing up for a tour of Michael Cohen’s New York, as they do for other city legends… The other day, a test run was attempted. First stop: the town of Lawrence, near J.F.K. Airport, where Cohen grew up, the son of a nurse and a surgeon who had emigrated from Poland after the Holocaust. His street, Rolling Hill Lane, is a lush cul-de-sac with two-story houses and the odd McMansion. Cohen’s home, which has been renovated since he lived there, has beige siding, white windows, and a bright-red door with a shiny gold handle. The side yard contains a jungle gym and a trampoline.” [NewYorker

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israeli businessman Nochi Dankner to serve three years in prison after appeal rejected [Reuters] • American Dream Meadowlands, being developed by the Ghermezian family’s Triple Five, to generate $1.2B In income, 16K jobs [Patch] • Ritz-Carlton Residences Miami Beach developer hit by another lawsuit over construction delays [RealDeal] • Sumner Redstone’s Attorneys Agree to Hearing on His Mental Fitness [Variety] • In a Push to Enter IoT Market, Gil Shwed’s Checkpoint Develops a Mini-Firewall[Calcalist] • The rise of giant consumer startups that said no to investor money [Recode]

PROFILE — New Panthers owner Tepper putting his stamp on organization — by Steve Reed: “A smiling David Tepper jogged down a small makeshift runway at a crowded gymnasium, crouching as he went to slap hands with wildly cheering elementary school children clad in blue Carolina Panthers T-shirts while music blared. After finishing his short jog, the Panthers owner smiled back at the crowd and seemed to soak in the moment. The self-made multi-billionaire hedge fund owner is 60, but still remembers his days growing up in Pittsburgh in a lower-income household.” [AP]

Voters Want Supreme Court Arguments Televised, But Justices Think Mystery Should Stay — by John Bonazzo: “Everyone loves Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but until this summer’s documentary RBG, the general public didn’t know much about her. It’s not her fault—despite Ginsburg’s viral popularity, the Supreme Court remains the most mysterious branch of government. There’s an easy fix to that, according to a new C-SPAN survey: televising oral arguments… The most worrisome trend is that 52 percent of respondents couldn’t identify a single Supreme Court justice. Ginsburg was the most popular judge, with 25 percent of those surveyed naming her.” [ObserverCSPAN]

HOLLYWOOD — Amandla Stenberg Defends Her Upcoming Controversial Holocaust Film ‘Where Hands Touch’ — by Elizabeth Wagmeister: “The romantic period piece from filmmaker Amma Asante revolves around the romance between two German teenagers — Stenberg as a biracial young woman coming of age during the time of the Holocaust and George MacKay as a member of the Hitler Youth — and when Variety posted a first look image from the film back in early 2017, social media users criticized the drama for romanticizing Nazis. Asante quickly took to social media to defend her project and clarify her purpose, writing, “This film does not romanticize Nazis in any way.” [Variety]

SPORTS BLINK — Red Sox star defends Hitler post: ‘Stand by 2nd Amendment’ — by Hannah Withiam: “J.D. Martinez stood by his 2013 pro-gun Instagram post featuring Adolf Hitler while speaking to the media Tuesday… Martinez said he did not mean to offend anyone with the post, explaining his motivation at the time as honoring his family’s struggle with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.” [NYPost]

ACROSS THE POND — Deborah Lipstadt writes: “Jeremy Corbyn’s Ironically Ahistorical Anti-Semitism: It’s not a new problem in British politics. Maybe Corbyn should be reminded of the retort offered by Benjamin Disraeli, the U.K.’s only prime minister of Jewish origin, when attacked in the House of Commons for being a Jew. “Yes, I am a Jew. And when the ancestors of the right honorable gentlemen were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.” [TheAtlantic]

TRANSITION — Wendy Sherman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, was appointed as director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. She will also teach courses and advise students about public service and leadership development. Sherman will remain senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group. [HarvardGazette]

A Guide To The Jewish High Holy Days In D.C. — by Lauren Landau: “As September approaches, our Jewish friends are preparing for year 5779. Whether you’ve got apologies to issue before Yom Kippur, round challot to bake apples into, or just want to get a good deed in before the Jewish year wraps, we’ve got you covered. Here are events spanning from religious to more Jew-ish. L’shana tova, from all of us at DCist.” [DCist]

DESSERT: Hummus doesn’t have to be a dip. These five DC restaurants turn it into a satisfying meal — by Tim Ebner: “On Tuesday, [Ronen] Tenne and his partner, Nick Wiseman, will open Little Sesame, a downtown eatery that aims to encapsulate the flavors of the hummus found in Israel, and is an expansion of their counter-service Dupont Circle shop that closed earlier this year. It’s one of several spots around Washington — and across the United States — that are challenging how most Americans eat hummus. Rather than serving hummus as a dip with carrots or celery, these shops serve warm and freshly whipped bowls of the dish as the star of a meal.”[WashPost]

— A Hotelier, Ian Schrager, Who Knows How to Make Chefs Feel at Home [NYT]

BIRTHDAYS: Former US Secretary of the Treasury (2013-2017), Jacob Joseph ‘Jack’ Lew turns 63… Former US Secretary of the Treasury (1995-1999), Robert Rubin turns 80… Lakewood, California resident, Joe Lissakturns 84… Long time movie and television actor, Elliott Gould (born Elliott Goldstein) turns 80… Philanthropist and real estate mogul, she is an attorney and co-founder of Ogden CAP Properties and co-founder of Dog Tag Bakery, Connie Milstein turns 72… Dean of Duke Law School since 2007, he was previously a US District Court judge based in Sacramento (1990-2007), David F. Levi turns 67… Los Angeles resident, Warren Stern turns 66… Senior Counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, Amy L. Nathan turns 63… CEO of the Consumer Technology Association and author of the New York Times best-seller “Ninja Innovation,” Gary Shapiro turns 62…

Journalist, blogger and former editor for the Jerusalem Post, Lisa Frydman Barr turns 54… Election law guru and head of the DC office of Clark Hill PLC, Charlie Spies turns 46… Hip-hop fashion designer, entrepreneur and artist, he is the founder and chief creative officer of Ecko Unlimited, Marc Ecko(born in Lakewood, NJ as Marc Milecofsky) turns 46… Rosh Yeshiva and Head of School at Bnei Akiva Schools in Toronto, Rabbi Seth Grauer turns 40… Director of government relations in the philanthropy practice at DC-based Van Scoyoc Associates, she was previously a manager at Jewish Women International, Robin Rubin… Partner at DC-based HLP&R Advocacy (a government affairs and public policy firm), he was previously a chief of staff or legislative director for four members of Congress (2003-2016), JerrRosenbaum… Adam Shapiro

Kafe Knesset for September 1

Friday, September 1, 2017

The BB-Sheldon Hotline: So just how close are Bibi and Sheldon and what is the extent of the PM’s involvement in Adelson’s freebie, Israel Hayom? That was the…

Kafe Knesset for August 31

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bibi against Meni Naftali: PM Netanyahu’s Rosh Hashana toast was, as promised, quite a show. Two thousand Likud activists gathered at the Avenue Conference Center near the Ben…

Kafe Knesset for August 30

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bibi launches Rosh Hashana toast season: It is that time of the year again, as the Jewish New Year approaches. Politicians are starting to make the rounds with…

Kafe Knesset for August 29

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Greenblatt’s tour: The President’s special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, stayed on after the senior White House delegation visited the region last week. According to senior Israeli sources, Greenblatt is…

Kafe Knesset for August 28

Monday, August 28, 2017

Guterres in Jerusalem: The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived in Israel yesterday for his first visit to the region. His first meeting was last night, as he…

Kafe Knesset for August 25

Friday, August 25, 2017

Trump-Netanyahu Instagram diplomacy: The Kushner-Greenblatt-Powell short visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah hardly made headlines this morning. The niceties of the Kushner-Netanyahu meeting, and the smiles in the Ramallah…