Daily Kickoff: Why Kushner dropped Trump’s Saudi conspiracy theory from platform | Bush network feeling ‘betrayed’ by Fleischer | Meet Ranan Steiger

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CONVENTION SCENE — “A Pop-Up Restaurant in Downtown Cleveland Brings Kosher Cuisine to the GOP Convention” by Yair Rosenberg: “From fried chicken to boneless ribs to bagels, a wide variety of kosher fare is available at a pop-up restaurant just minutes away from the Quicken Loans Arena, where the Republican National Convention is taking place. A joint project of the Chabad of Downtown Cleveland and the local Chef Dave’s catering service, the restaurant has become a hub for kosher-keeping delegates, aspiring political candidates, and an array of Jewish activists and journalists. At one table, you might find Yoni Appelbaum, the Washington bureau chief of The Atlantic, discussing anti-Trump efforts on the convention floor with New York congressional candidate Phil Rosenthal. In another corner, Israeli journalist Tal Schneider huddles with American Jewish correspondent Jacob Kornbluh. (Jared and Ivanka Trump, however, have yet to be spotted.)” [TabletMag]

“Sheldon Adelson arrives, but stays silent on Trump” by Kenneth Vogel: “Gingrich, a close Adelson confidant and longtime beneficiary of the billionaire’s political spending, arrived soon after, telling Politico that he didn’t think the Star of David tweet bothered Adelson, though he wouldn’t speculate on when Adelson was going to donate. “I have no idea,” he said, though he asserted that Adelson is not backing away from his support for Trump. “No, I doubt it,” he said when asked whether Adelson was getting cold feet.” [PoliticoWashPost]

ON THE SIDELINES — “Paul Ryan Delivers Earnest Unity Sermon To Fractured Convention” by McKay Coppins: “Pointing to the in-state rivalries between teams like the Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, and TCU Horned Frogs, Ryan said, “You guys are at each other’s throats … [But] when one team advances to a big bowl game or a national championship, don’t you root for the Aggies? Don’t you root for the Longhorns?” The ballroom full of Texans erupted in laughter, boos, and shouts of, “No!” Ryan chuckled, taken aback, and said, “Start thinking that way, OK?” And then, “Holy moly, this explains everything right now.”

“A few hours before Ryan delivered his speech, he presided over the official vote to nominate Trump as the Republican nominee. On the convention floor, Dan Senor — a veteran Republican strategist and former top aide to Ryan — hovered at the edge of the New York delegation. As one of the party’s most adamant anti-Trump voices, Senor said he had only come to the floor so he could walk out once Trump was nominated. “It’s surreal,” Senor said. “The GOP is about to nominate someone with the wrong temperament, the wrong character, and the wrong worldview to be president. It’s pathetic to watch so many leaders of the Republican Party pretend to be excited about it.” Including Ryan? “No comment,” Senor said.” [BuzzFeed]

Senor tweets: “I’ve attended GOP conventions for 20 yrs. Never heard quieter floor during roll call. Did ops staff hand out ambien to delegates?” [Twitter]

TOP TALKER: “How Melania Trump’s Speech Veered Off Course and Sparked an Uproar” by Maggie Haberman and Michael Barbaro: “It was the biggest speech of Melania Trump’s life, and her husband, Donald, wanted it to be perfect. The Trump campaign turned to two high-powered speechwriters Matthew Scully and John McConnell… It was Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, who commissioned the speech from Mr. Scully and Mr. McConnell. But Ms. Trump decided to revise it, and at one point she turned to a trusted hand: Meredith McIver, a New York City based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books… The two original speechwriters were not aware of how significantly the speech had been changed until they saw Ms. Trump deliver it on television Monday night, along with the rest of the country.” [NYTimes]

“Who is running Trump’s campaign?” by Eli Stokols: “It was one of Donald Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories – that Saudi Arabia was behind 9/11, and the U.S. government is covering it up… But when the Republican platform committee set about putting Trump’s words into policy, calling for the declassification of 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report relating to Saudi Arabia, the plank was quietly shelved. The identity of the person whose behind-the-scenes intervention helped scuttle the deal was, perhaps, a surprise: Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.”

Kushner is the campaign’s unofficial ambassador to Jewish donors who fretted that the release of damaging information about Saudi Arabia could alter the balance of power in the Mideast. But the intervention – by one of Trump’s family members seeking to rein in his more destabilizing positions – has become increasingly common. Now, Kushner is making key hires, fine-tuning and sharpening Trump’s speeches and serving as the central emissary behind the scenes, meeting privately last month with Paul Ryan, having direct conversations with billionaire Sheldon Adelson and asserting influence on everything from Trump’s search for a running mate—he pushed hard for Newt Gingrich, largely at Adelson’s behest—to his tweets.” [Politico]

“Ivanka Trump Calls Her Father, Donald, ‘the Messenger of the People’” by John Santucci, Suzan Clarke and Kaitlyn Folmer: “Ivanka Trump, a convert to Judaism, stressed that her father “clearly did not think that was the Star of David,” adding: “My father’s track record of … advocating for Jewish people and for Israel is unimpeachable for a very long time, whether it being the grand marshal of the Israel Day Parade at a time when it was not advantageous to do so.” She added that her father has been “remarkably supportive” of her and her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three children.” [Yahoo]

“In one 16-year-old Jewish boy, the face of the anti-hate protest” by Tim O’Shei: “Ranan Steiger works for a catering service in the neighborhood near the Republican National Convention. It was 2 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon. The lunch rush was over, so Ranan, who’s 16, asked his boss if he could go outside for a while. He’d done the same thing Monday and ended up helping a Jewish group with handouts in Public Square. At 5 o’clock, five members of the Westboro Baptist Church – a small and well-known hate group – took the stage. During their half-hour time slot, Ranan said, one of the Westboro speakers saw his kippah and said, “You’re going to hell. You’re a Jew. You’re going to hell!” As Ranan heard the words, he walked up to the man and started staring him down. He held up the sign, and as the man kept talking – including comments on Judaism – Ranan started yelling back: “I don’t care. Go away! Lose your voice! Lose your voice!” [BuffaloNews]

“Jewish Republicans wonder how to vouch for Trump when he won’t help out” by Ron Kampeas: “Tevi Troy, a deputy secretary of health under President George W. Bush and a formidable Jewish community validator for past Republican candidates, said no one has been in touch this year, but that may be because he’s not on any of the relevant lists. Troy had opposed Trump during the primaries, but once it became clear in May that Trump would be the nominee, he said he was open to persuasion. “I don’t think they’re targeting messages specifically to the Jewish community,” he said. That could cost Trump significant advantages, both in much-needed funding for the campaign and in votes. On the other hand, Troy said, how one validates candidates may be changing, with more folks going to social media to solicit information and opinions. “The Jewish community is a vocal one, there are a lot of bloggers, a lot of tweeters” pushing out the pro-Trump message, he said.” [JTA]

“The Trump Convention: A Painful Moment for the Bush Family Network” by Jonathan Martin: “Representatives of the last Republican White House are effectively in exile from presidential politics these days, dispirited by their party’s embrace of Donald J. Trump, the nominee, and feeling betrayed by former friends who are backing him. After Ari Fleischer announced his support on Twitter for Mr. Trump in May, one of his former colleagues, Tony Fratto, responded: “Then we don’t have anything to say to each other.” In an interview, Mr. Fratto, who served in the Bush Treasury Department and White House, was still angry. “You were the White House spokesperson when Trump said the president lied the country into the death and maiming of people unnecessarily,” he said of Mr. Fleischer. “How can Ari be O.K. with that?” Such a betrayal, Mr. Fratto said, was “unforgivable.” Mr. Fleischer said he still considered Mr. Fratto a friend, but lamented that “Trump has split the party.”” [NYTimes]

“Republican Jews Trust Trump on Israel” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Marc Zell, the co-chair of Republicans Overseas Israel chapter, stated that all of his initial concerns about Trump “have disappeared” when the GOP Platform Committee approved new Israel language that dropped any reference to the two-state solution.” [JewishInsider]

Rabbi Rick Jacobs: “The GOP is playing a dangerous game with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” [DailyNews]

Dr. Walid Phares, Trump’s foreign policy advisor on i24News: “Donald Trump doesn’t want to go ahead of the Israelis and the Palestinians and start talking about his architecture for an issue that is very, very difficult for the Israelis, the Palestinians and Arabs in general. He wants to sit with both Israelis and Palestinians in the middle of the table so both sides will feel there is a real moderator. We know that Mr. Trump has as good relations as any politician with the Israeli side. What he needs to do now is convince the Palestinians along with Arab allies. And then he will listen to both sides, he is a good negotiator, and he will try to get to a historic deal that will not just preserve peace but bring prosperity for both sides.” [i24]

**Good Wednesday Afternoon! 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: Peter Thiel’s Embrace of Trump Has Silicon Valley Squirming [NYTimes] • Extell to raze 10 buildings in Diamond District [RealDealdnaInfo] • Abe Foxman’s Son Steps Down as Editorial Director of InStyle Magazine [Forward

REFLECTION: “Would JFK Jr. Have Run for President? His Best Friends Reveal His Last Days” by Liz McNeil: “According to Gary Ginsberg, a close friend who was with John the night before he died, “That last night he was very focused on two things: finding a buyer for George and his political future.”  He adds: “I guess no coincidence since the two were linked together. By July 1999 I think he could take great comfort that he had started and led a successful business, had fulfilled his mission to cover politics in a colorful, non-ideological way that would make it appealing for people who had never bought a political magazine before, and was now in a position to do something new. He had been thinking about running for the N.Y. Senate seat – he even had meetings about it that spring – but by July had concluded he would focus his attention on running for governor of N.Y. in 2003.” [PeopleMag]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “A small island of Judaism in Hawaiian politics” by Lisa Klug:“Hawaii’s current elected officials with Jewish ties include Democrat state senate incumbent Russell Ruderman and Republican incumbent state senator and Minority Floor Leader Sam Slom. At least two other lawmakers, State Representative Nicole Lowen of Hawaii, the Big Island, and State Senator J. Kalani English of Maui, were both born to Jewish fathers. One more Hawaiian legislator, US Senator Brian Schatz (Dem.) represents the “Aloha State” in Washington, D.C.” [ToI]

INBOX — On sidelines of the RNC, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger met with Ambassador Liora Herzl, the Deputy Director General for North America and Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel for the Mid-Atlantic Region to discuss current events and strengthening the Ohio Israel partnerships in business, academia, & research. Also present in the meeting were key members of the House Majority Leadership: Reps. Ron Amstutz, Tim Derickson, Kirk Schuring, and senior staff. Howie Beigelman, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, facilitated the meeting and was in attendance as well. [Pic]

In Jerusalem — the leadership of the Orthodox Union met yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and two of his advisors Jonathan Schachter and Eli Groner. [Pic]

KAFE KNESSET — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: There is a new crisis in the Israeli coalition, and this time it’s about the media. Last night, Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted that he is “deeply concerned” about a number of initiatives pushed by Prime Minister Netanyahu (also Minister of Communications) that seem destined to strengthen Netanyahu’s grip on large parts of the Israeli press. Last month, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also accused Netanyahu of trying to hurt press freedom in the country. The problem with Bennett’s criticism is that under the coalition agreement his party signed with Likud upon entering the government, it agreed not to oppose any legislation by Netanyahu in the field of media and communications. If he chooses to do so now, Netanyahu could accuse him of breaking the coalition agreement. The chances this crisis will lead to a change in the government make-up is very small, but it is leading to tensions between the Prime Minister and his rival-partner.

​Last night, t​he Knesset approve​d a new bill that allows members of the parliament to vote one of their own out of the club. The bill, called “the impeachment law,” allows the Knesset to kick out a sitting member i​f 90 members of the Knesset vote in favor of impeachment. ​The vote was scheduled to last hours, as the​ ​opposition presented hundreds of reservations to it, but at the last minute​, they withdrew​ their concerns​, catching the coalition by surprise – and without enough votes to pass the legislation. Some members of the government had to rush to vote in t-shirts. The opposition failed to block the law, but it did make the government sweat​.​​​

The Labor Party is mostly worried that the bill will be used against it before the next elections: Likud will declare a vote on kicking out one of the Arab members of Knesset; ​i​f Labor votes in favor, it will lose support on the Arab street and among the left, while if it votes against, Likud will blame it for supporting ​those they perceive to be “anti-Israel” in the Knesset.​ It remains to be seen if the law’s opponents will try to take it to the ​S​upreme ​C​​​​ourt.

BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire, art collector and NYC real estate developer, Sheldon Solow turns 88… United States Senator from Maryland, Barbara Mikulski, on the verge of 30 years in the Senate following 10 years in the House, turns 80… NY Times columnist, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman turns 63… Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Barbara Risman turns 60… Senior Vice President at lobbyist Capalino+Company, Fred Kreizman…
Broadcast and digital media executive, Farrell Meisel… Singer who burst on the scene as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol, Efraym Elliott Yamin turns 38… Marcie Orley…

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Daily Kickoff: White House compares Boris Johnson to Ron Dermer | GOP begs Adelson | Trump reneged on FIDF pledge | Natalie Portman on Judaism

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SHOTS FIRED — White House compares Boris Johnson to Israeli Amb Dermer: “White House spokesman Josh Earnest indirectly compared new British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to Israeli envoy Ron Dermer when asked if the US administration would be able to work with someone who has been vocally critical of Obama. “I got questions of this variety when Prime Minister Netanyahu had announced that Ambassador Dermer would be the Israeli envoy to the United States. What I said in that situation is what I’ll say here,” Earnest said. Earnest then went on to highlight the fact that the US and UK’s special relationship “transcends any single personality.” Johnson has referred to Obama as the “part-Kenyan President [with an] ancestral dislike of the British Empire,” and compared Hillary Clinton to “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.”” [ToIVideo]

Ambassador Dermer to Attend GOP & Dem Conventions: “In Philadelphia, Dermer will discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship at an event hosted by former Congressman Robert Wexler, president of the Washington-based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, on Thursday of the Democratic convention.” [JewishInsider]

PRETTY PLEASE?! — “GOP Cleveland organizers beg Adelson for $6 million” by Alex Isenstadt and Shane Goldmacher: “In a letter to the Adelsons, obtained by Politico, the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee revealed the names of more than two dozen prominent corporations and individuals who have reneged on a collective $8.1 million in pledged donations. “We would greatly appreciate if you would consider a $6,000,000 contribution to the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee to help us cross the finish line,” states the letter, which was dated July 12. The convention begins July 18.” [Politico]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Donald Trump Postpones Naming Running Mate” by Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman and Ashley Parker: “Trump’s presidential campaign signaled strongly on Thursday that he would name Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate, but abruptly postponed a long-planned unveiling of the Republican ticket after an attack that left dozens dead in France. Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he was delaying his announcement after the “horrible attack” in Nice. He did not specify when the event would go forward. The delay has the potential to complicate a partnership with Mr. Pence, who must file papers in Indiana by noon on Friday withdrawing from his re-election campaign in order for Republicans to field a new candidate for the race.” [NYTimes]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: “Trump tells donors that he will announce his running mate over the weekend” by Seema Mehta: “He did not mention Pence’s name during his remarks at the fundraiser, according to a person who attended the reception at the mansion of philanthropist Carla Sands, the widow of real-estate mogul Fred Sands. About 200 donors contributed $2,700 to $449,400 per person to attend. About 60 who donated at least $25,000 or raised at least $27,000 also attended a dinner of pan-seared salmon and fresh fig salad with Trump.” [LATimes]

Dan Senor on Charlie Rose: “If the Trump campaign’s goal is to reassure conservatives and give a sense that Trump — he may be a wild card but he will have some constraints around him, I actually think Mike Pence is the safest.”

–On donors skipping Cleveland: “A good barometer for big donor support is which ones show up at the convention. If they show up at the convention, all they have to do is to donate $10,000 or more to the RNC — I don’t think Adelson shows up. But he’s supporting Trump — and donors who are excited about the candidacy, are committed to the campaign, and want to play a big role in the campaign, historically, have come to the convention. McCain, I think, had 600 or 700 major donors come to the convention. Romney had about 1,500, in 2012, come to his convention. It will be interesting to see next week who actually shows up. If they break the 100 mark of major donors who attend, I will be shocked. I think donor enthusiasm is very low right now. Even those who are supporting him, are telling me they are having the hardest time getting phone calls returned.” [Bloomberg]

Eric Cantor on Mike Pence: “I think he is actually a nice compliment to the Donald Trump candidacy; will provide some of that strong, moral compass that Mike has always provided in the House. So I think, if it’s Mike Pence, it’s a good pick.” [Bloomberg• Cantor said he’s not planning to attend the convention

“Likely Trump VP ‘cherishes Israel,’ met Netanyahu, passed anti-boycott laws” by Rebecca Shimoni Stoil: “While Trump has run afoul of some Jewish Republicans for his failure to disavow anti-Semitic imagery and rhetoric from his supporters, Pence is well-known among Republican lawmakers as a longstanding supporter of Israel. And while former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was the vice presidential hopeful with the closest ties to the largest pro-Israel Republican donor, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Pence himself has direct ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pence also has a warm relationship with AIPAC.” [ToI]

“The Indiana Synagogues That Mike Pence Forgot” by Drew Gerber: “The man widely named as Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick was the local congressman for the area in 2009 when he told an AIPAC conference that “I know of no synagogues in my district.” Indiana-born Wendy Soltz, who has a PhD in American Jewish history, said it is typical for the average person in Indiana to not know about Jewish communities in their midst. But that it doesn’t excuse an elected official like Pence.” [Forward]

TOP TALKER: “Donald Trump once promised to donate to a charity helping Israeli soldiers. He didn’t. Somebody else paid for him” by David Fahrenthold: “In 2007, Donald Trump promised a donation to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a U.S.-based charity that provides aid to Israeli military personnel and the families of fallen Israeli soldiers. He didn’t pay, a spokesman for the charity said Thursday. A 2007 story in the Jerusalem Post gave an amount for Trump’s pledge: $250,000.” [WashPost]

DEEP DIVE: “Inside the Plan to Undo the Iran Nuclear Deal” by Indira A.R. Lakshmanan: “A year after the celebration in Vienna, Mark Dubowitz hasn’t abandoned the fight. He and his allies—a constellation of pressure groups, analysts, lobbyists and lawmakers—are leading a less headline-grabbing but equally relentless challenge to Obama’s signature foreign policy legacy. Dubowitz, FDD’s executive director, still has hopes of dramatically altering the terms of the Iran deal, and he and his crew of some 20 sanctions experts, terrorism analysts, nuclear advisors, human rights researchers and Persian-speaking colleagues are working feverishly in their “wonk room,” as he calls it, in a gray office building above a Subway sandwich shop six blocks from the White House.” [PoliticoMag]

**Good Friday 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: Google Buys Israeli Web Content-sharing App Developer Kifi [Haaretz] • Singer’s Elliott Takes Stake in SABMiller [FINalternatives] • Property Developers Balk at Co-Living Firms[TheInformation] • Marvel CEO countersues Toronto businessman for defamation [Globe&Mail]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Customers keep jumping into Manhattan’s Four Seasons’ decorative pool for a swim as the famous restaurant prepares to close its doors forever” by Kiri Blakeley: “‘Friday night. Disgrace and no respect from the tenant leaving,’ captioned real estate developer Aby Rosen, one of the owners of the Seagram Building, in which the eatery is located, on an Instagram post.” [DailyMailDealbreaker

FIRST LOOK — The Emails of Natalie Portman and Jonathan Safran Foer: Natalie Portman — “You know, the word “Hebrew” (ivri, as in a nationality, like Abraham the Hebrew) comes from the root for “to cross over” — la’avor. I think it’s related to Jews being nomadic people, or maybe Abraham being the first one to cross a river in the Bible? But it does feel like a state that is emblematic of our people, and maybe all people — that we are always in the midst of replacing one fulfilled desire with a new desire, accepting a new piece of knowledge with another question.”

“When I first encountered Buddhist thought in my 20s, I was so confused. I’m supposed to be content with what’s going on here and now? I realized how much Judaism for me was connected to yearning — to wanting what you don’t have — which is maybe why Israel is so complicated emotionally for Jews: It’s built into the emotional structure of our religion to yearn for a homeland we don’t have.”

So then if we have it, what do we yearn for? We say “next year in Jerusalem” as if we are still in exile. But maybe Jerusalem as an idea is never attainable — so we can keep longing for it even when we have it, like a spouse you desire eternally. You keep feeling that you can’t get them, as if it were the perpetual beginning of a flirtation. Jerusalem does have an aura. The air feels thicker there. It feels like the city, itself, is manipulating, pushing passions around.”

“I love that Erich Fromm thing about Shabbat being the ability to suspend time. The reason we aren’t allowed to move a book from one place to another on Shabbat, or turn on a light, or buy something — it’s not because it’s “work,” and work isn’t allowed on the Sabbath. It’s because those things would show the passage of time. And Shabbat is the one day when we can stop time.” [NYTStyleMag]

TOP-OP: “Jewish Baby Boom Alters Israeli-Palestinian Dynamic” by Yaroslav Trofimov [WSJ]

Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: “Sometimes you get very lucky and happen upon a new wine which mirrors, or almost anticipates, your mood and environment. Walking in the sunny streets of Barcelona’s old town, there is a great wine shop where I stumbled upon a remarkable kosher Spanish wine. The purveyor was kind and so I tasted and drank abundantly in this wine store – the wine that took the show was the Capcanes la Flor del Flor de Primavera 2012. Starting with its beautiful label it was an all-encompassing experience.”

“This wine is made from Grenache grapes. They are aged in predominantly in new French oak for 14 months. This wine reminds me of a rose. It is of a very vibrant color, and one is immediately put in a good mood upon smelling it.  It has a magnificent nose filled with hints of slightly sour blueberries. The mid mouth fills your palate with the taste of your first morning coffee without any of the bitterness. Go to Barcelona and feast upon this wine from early morning until late at night.” [RoyalWine]

DESSERT: “A Look At The Jewish Deli In Boston — Past And Present” by Emma-Jean Weinstein and Shira Springer: “Most estimates say the Jewish deli hit its peak all the way back in the 1930s, but we’re seeing a bit of a resurgence here in Boston. Mamaleh’s Delicatessen opened in Kendall Square this week, and Exodus Bagels and Steinbones are set to open soon.” [WBUR]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen turns 64… Nobel laureate in Physics and author of “The G-d Particle,” Leon M. Lederman turns 94… Four time winner of the World Series of Poker, Mickey Appleman turns 71… Former UK Labour Party member of Parliament, now CEO of NYC-based International Rescue Committee, David Miliband turns 51…

Former State Department official under JFK and LBJ, later VP of Continental Airlines, and then Managing Editor of the NY Times, James L. Greenfield turns 92… Billionaire, former member of Knesset, winner of the Israel Prize, real estate developer and philanthropist, Stef Wertheimer turns 90… Former high ranking civilian official in the Bush 43 Pentagon, now a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. Douglas J. Feith turns 63… World reknowned violinist, violist, and conductor, Pinchas Zukerman turns 68… President of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, Doug Herzog turns 57… Co-founder of both Apollo Global Management and Ares Management, and owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Tony Ressler turns 57… Chantal Low… Chicago based philanthropist, Rivka Zell… Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and screenwriter, Tony Kushner turns 60… Former White House aide (2006-2009) and now Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Univision, Steven M. Levine… Former White House Jewish Liaison under Bush 43 Scott Arogeti, now at Rubicon Global… Eric Reiner, Director of Corporate Development at Dynamic Yield in NYC…

Play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Charley Steiner turns 67… Founder and CEO of Zeta Interactive, David A. Steinberg turns 46… Melanie Beatus… Senior adviser for strategic communications at Hillel International, Matt Berger… Gil Galanos, CEO at Israel & Co…

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Daily Kickoff: Rabbi Haskel Lookstein to speak at GOP Convention | Kushner blocking Christie’s VP bid | Tina Price elected Hillel Chair

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VEEP-STAKES: “Trump advisers split on VP pick” by Eli Stokols and Nolan McCaskill: “Kushner, the millionaire real estate developer who has emerged as a de facto campaign manager in recent weeks, is said to strongly oppose putting Christie on the ticket. Notably, Christie was the federal prosecutor who put Kushner’s father in prison a decade ago… Kushner would prefer Gingrich, according to multiple sources involved in campaign deliberations. That’s at least in part driven by his relationship with GOP mega-donor and Republican Jewish Coalition founder Sheldon Adelson, who is pushing Gingrich, as well as his own antipathy toward Christie.” [Politico] • “Trump Son-In-Law Blocking Christie VP Bid” [HuffPost]

“The Case for Newt” by Rich Lowry: “Gingrich’s big upside is that, perhaps outside of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, he is the most glib politician of the past 30 years. Not only would he defend Trump ably, he would put whatever Trump says in the most impressive light possible. You could shake Gingrich awake at 3 a.m., tell him Trump just came out for nationalizing the banks, and he would rattle off a five-minute riff on how it has always been the policy of the future and the country is lucky to have such a radical agent of change. He can embed Trumpism in a larger, more sophisticated argument about the country than Trump can, and do it vastly more eloquently. This wouldn’t ordinarily be a qualification for a VP pick, but Trump is running a media campaign.” [PoliticoMag]

@JacobKornbluh: Guess it’s not Ivanka! @EricTrump tells @seanhannity Donald Trump wants his veep to “work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” #Sabbath [Twitter]

“Here’s Donald Trump With His New Grandson” by Megan McCluskey: “Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump recently welcomed TIME’s cameras into his office at Trump Tower. There he played the doting grandfather while posing with his eighth grandchild— 3-month-old Theodore James—during a photoshoot for TIME’s July 25 issue, kissing the now 3-month-old boy on the cheek while glancing up at the camera.” [TimeMag]

CONVENTION PREVIEW — Zeke Miller tweets: “Among GOP convention speakers: Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who performed Ivanka’s conversion” [TwitterFullList]

Top Rabbinical Court Rejects Conversions By Ivanka Trump’s Rabbi: “Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court has ruled against Nicole, a 31-year-old woman who was appealing a decision not to recognize her conversion to Judaism. Nicole underwent an Orthodox conversion in New York by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who also oversaw the conversion of Ivanka Trump.” [JewishWeek]

“Wall Street shuns Trump’s Cleveland convention” by Ben White: “Many Wall Street executives staying away from Cleveland are taking their cues from some of the biggest names in the industry who have distanced themselves from Trump. Paul Singer, founder of giant hedge-fund group Elliott Management and among the most influential donors in the GOP, said at the Aspen Ideas conference in Colorado last month that a Trump presidency would be a disaster… “Any corporation will look at this from the perspective of whether or not they would want their CEO sharing a stage at Davos, Aspen or Sun Valley with the Republican nominee,” said Julleana Glover, a public affairs executive with extensive GOP campaign experience. “If the answer is no, they won’t be going to Cleveland.”” [Politico]

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Trump Victory hosts an evening with Donald Trump in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. Event chairs include Jamie Luskin McCourt, Elissa & Edward Czuker, Melanie & Bobby Rechnitz, Miriam & Michael Miller, along with Trump Victory Chair Lewis Eisenberg and Vice Chair Elliott Broidy. [InvitePDF]

Trump Tweets: “The Republican platform is most pro-Israel of all time!” [Twitter]

Clinton Slams Trump for Promoting ‘Anti-Semitic Image’ — by Jacob Kornbluh: During a speech at the Old State House in Springfield, Illinois —the site of Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ speech— Clinton argued that from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s ban on Muslims to his “promotion of an anti-Semitic image pushed by neo-Nazis,” a Trump presidency would have “dangerous repercussions in America and around the globe.” [JewishInsider]

Abe Foxman on Trump’s tweet: “I look at results, and the results were that whoever did it, when they realized that it was insensitive or wrong or maybe misinterpreted, they took it off in two hours. To me, that’s what’s important.. I think he was wrong in defending it, but the campaign understood and knew quite well, very quickly, that it may cause mischief, and it may be interpreted as anti-Semitism, and they removed it. So, you know, the fact is that it was no longer out there… You know what, hello, he took it off, and therefore it wasn’t in the campaign. When he defended it, if they’d put it back, you and I would have an issue. But they didn’t put it back.” [Slate]

“Maddow: I’m studying Hitler to prep for Trump” by Joe Concha: “What’s the worst-case scenario for America if he wins? It can be pretty bad. You don’t have to go back far in history to get to almost apocalyptic scenarios… Over the past year I’ve been reading a lot about what it was like when Hitler first became chancellor. I am gravitating toward moments in history for subliminal reference in terms of cultures that have unexpectedly veered into dark places, because I think that’s possibly where we are.” [TheHillRollingStone]

TOP TALKER: “Ginsburg expresses ‘regret’ over remarks criticizing Trump” by Robert Barnes: In a statement issued by the Supreme Court public information office, Ginsburg said: “On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them. Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.” [WashPost]

ONE YEAR LATER: “Iran Sticks to Terms of Nuclear Deal, but Defies the U.S. in Other Ways” by David Sanger: “The Iranians, defying the expectations of the deal’s most vociferous critics, gave up 98 percent of their nuclear material. They dismantled thousands of centrifuges and filled the core of a major plutonium reactor with cement. Inspectors roam their facilities. By late January, even Israel’s top military officer said he was impressed. “The deal has actually removed the most serious danger to Israel’s existence for the foreseeable future,” Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, told a conference in Tel Aviv, “and greatly reduced the threat over the longer term.”

“But if the celebrations inside the White House this week appear muted, it is in part because very little about the Washington-Tehran relationship outside the strict parameters of the 130-page agreement has improved. Tehran is still sending its forces to support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and to gain influence in Iraq, and now has begun to honor its fallen soldiers there as heroes. Taking advantage of a newly worded United Nations resolution that merely “calls upon” Iran to limit its missile testing, it has kept up a steady pace of tests, with more and more capable weaponry.” [NYTimes]

On The Hill Today — Secure America Now and Vincent Harris created a Pokémon Go Snapchat filter titled “42 Senators Voted For The Bad Iran Deal — Can you catch them all?” [Pic]

“House votes to bar heavy water purchases from Iran” by Patricia Zengerle: “The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday to block the purchase of “heavy water” from Iran, defying President Barack Obama’s veto threat a year after the announcement of the landmark Iran nuclear agreement. The House passed the “No 2H2O from Iran Act” by 249-176, with support coming almost exclusively from Republicans.” [Reuters]

“Corker has a new Iran sanctions bill, but bipartisan support may be hard to come by” by Karoun Demirjian: “The chairman’s bill would prohibit the president from waiving any sanctions in order to enter into any new agreements with Tehran – a provision, Corker said, that is meant to make sure Congress has a say in any future deals with Iran. But most Democrats have not signed on to the legislation yet, even though several oppose the nuclear deal with Tehran. Instead of Cardin, Corker is teaming up with Foreign Relations Committee Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Joe Manchin (D-WVa.)”[PowerPost]

Jennifer Rubin: “Israel’s ambassador suggests things may be better after Obama” [WashPost]

KAFE KNESSET — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: Israeli papers are buzzing today about a continuing inquiry into the affairs of Prime Minister Netanyahu. While the investigation has not yet been declared “official,” reports suggest that it centers around money from foreign donors. Authorities have begun interviewing those close to the Prime Minister, including detaining former Netanyahu chief of staff Ari Harow for questioning at Ben-Gurion Airport this morning.

On another front, after a legal and public relations struggle that lasted more than a week, it appears that Be’er Sheva, Israel’s fifth largest city and the capital of the Negev, isn’t going to have its own gay pride parade, as the local police decided not to approve the organizers’ request to march in the city’s main streets today. The decision was criticized by politicians on the center-left, and also by the city’s mayor, Rubik Danilovitch, but was upheld by the courts, after the police expressed concern that the parade would be attacked by extremists.

**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: How Private Equity Found Power and Profit in State Capitols [NYTimes] • Seth Klarman’s Baupost Posts 4% Return in First-Half Rebound [Bloomberg] • Gary Barnett Closes on UES Gristedes Site for $93M [Observer] • Sitt closes on 432 Park pad after trying in vain to flip contract[RealDeal] • David Samson, a Christie Associate, to Plead Guilty to a Felony [NYTimes] • Anne Wojcicki’s 23andMe’s new platform gives researchers easier access to DNA data [VentureBeat]• Peugeot tests Israeli range-extender technology in electric car push [Reuters]

STARTUP NATION: “Israel Tries to Lure Giant Tech Companies With Incentives” by David Wainer: “Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon wants to cut corporate taxes for companies that conduct research and development in Israel and register intellectual property there, according to a ministry official who spoke on customary condition of anonymity. Taxes would drop to as little as 6 percent from the current range of 16 percent to 25 percent, with top benefits going to companies with more than 10 billion shekels ($2.59 billion) in annual global sales.” [Bloomberg

SPOTLIGHT: “From aviation, to biotech, to taxi dispatcher? The road to founding Via” by Anthony Noto: “Via, which launched in New York, was co-founded by Daniel Ramot, an Israeli entrepreneur who — with fellow co-founder Oren Shoval — tweaked a transportation model that already exists in Israel and adapted it for the States. Now, they’re steering the company to new destinations. It’s driving passengers now in Manhattan and Chicago and soon expanding to Brooklyn and Washington, D.C.” [Upstart]

APPOINTMENT — “Hillel International announced today the election of Tina Price as chair of its board of directors. With more than 20 years of experience in Jewish philanthropy, including six years on the Hillel International Board of Directors, Price will use her new position to guide the organization as it works to meet its goal of inspiring every Jewish student to build an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.”

FLASHBACK — reposted from 1978: “Don’t Mess With Roy Cohn” by Ken Auletta: “To his clients, Roy is like a faith healer. “He’s almost a mother’s helper,” says builder Sam Lefrak. “He doesn’t tell you he’s going to lose, like most lawyers.” When the federal government was suing the Trump organization for discriminating against minorities in their housing projects, Don Trump searched for a lawyer. “They all said. ‘You have a good case, but it’s a sticky thing,'” remembers Trump. Then he met Cohn for the first time at a party, explained his predicament, and was thrilled when Roy instantly declared, “Oh, you’ll win hands down!” “The mere sending of a letter from Roy Cohn has saved us a lot of money,” says builder Donald Trump. “When people know that Roy is involved, they’d rather not get involved in the lawsuits and everything else that’s involved.” [Esquire]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Hasidic Parents Aim to Boost Education Standards” by Leslie Brody: “A new coalition in the Hasidic community is pledging to improve instruction for their children, following complaints that dozens of New York City yeshivas fail to provide enough secular education. The coalition, Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools, or PEARLS, hired a team to create lessons in math and English that they believe will meet state standards.” [WSJ]

“In Vermont, a Jewish community rises like the mountains” by Lisa Wangsness: “A number of the growing Jewish congregations in Vermont, including Stowe’s, have transformed from informal Shabbat suppers into lay-led congregations now maturing into stable communities. Robert Schine, a professor of Jewish studies at Middlebury College, said a strain of post-denominational Judaism that downplays religious and political divisions seems to be flourishing here.” [BostonGlobe]

The New Orleans Jewish Community Center Uptown is Expanding: “The New Orleans Jewish Community Center Uptown is planning to expand, adding a new building and reconfiguring its swimming area. The expansion got the OK from the City Planning Commission at its meeting this week.” [Curbed]

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Rohr and Tabacinic’s NCH Capital Wins Greek Development Deal

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Monday, January 7, 2013

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

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Wilf brothers work quietly behind the scenes to help Vikings turn things around

Thursday, January 3, 2013

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