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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: “Billionaire Republicans Privately Diss Trump” by Michelle Celarier: “The new dark mood was on display at the Robin Hood Investment Conference last week at 50 Varick Street, an event space in downtown Manhattan. The Robin Hood conference is an annual event where about 1,000 investors pay as much as $7,500 each for two days of talks by a dozen of the best brains in finance… Barry Sternlicht, a billionaire real-estate investor, hotel mogul, and self-described Trump friend and golf partner, seemed to have soured on the president. “I expected him to go to the middle, because I thought he wanted to be great,” he said of Trump, according to an audio of his off-the-record talk obtained by New York. “I played [golf] with Donald Trump and his golf game is like his presidency,” he said…”
“Frequent GOP donor Seth Klarman… offered a much harsher assessment of Trump to his peers. “The president is a threat to democracy. He has attacked journalists and he’s threatening to take away NBC’s license,” Klarman said, according to an audio recording of his remarks. “He’s attacking judges. He’s violating all sorts of democratic norms, from the emoluments clause to questioning the election and threatening to lock up his opponent. People don’t focus on this but Nazi Germany had a constitution before Hitler came to power and at the end of the war they had the exact same constitution. It lasted all the way through, but democracy didn’t.”” [NYMag]
“Moishe Mana, unplugged: Investor dishes on his plans for Wynwood, unloads on POTUS” by Francisco Alvarado: “Mana related the discrimination his family faced as Jews in Iraq before emmigrating to Israel to the current climate in the Trump era toward minorities and immigrants. “When he was chosen to be the Republican nominee, I declared it the moral bankruptcy of America,” Mana said. “We have to endure his craziness and all his crazy ideas. He is doing destructive things on all kinds of issues.” [TheRealDeal]
TOP TALKER: “Bannon declares war on Singer in call with Trump” by Jonathan Swan: “In a Friday night phone call, President Trump’s former chief strategist and enforcer Steve Bannon told Trump he was going “off the chain” to destroy Paul Singer… Trump agreed with Bannon that it needed to be done… (Though I’m also told that Trump has since told at least one other person that Singer is “on the team” — suggesting that maybe he’s telling everyone what they want to hear.)… A source familiar with the arrangements told me that Singer has already made a “major commitment” and cut substantial checks to outside groups to support the president’s tax reform push.” [Axios]
BACKSTORY: “Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier” by Ken Vogel and Maggie Haberman: “The Free Beacon, funded in large part by the New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, hired the firm, Fusion GPS, in 2015 to unearth damaging information about several Republican presidential candidates, including Mr. Trump. But The Free Beacon told the firm to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016… The revelation of The Free Beacon’s involvement with Fusion GPS threatens a rapprochement between Mr. Trump and Mr. Singer, who donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural fund and has visited the White House on multiple occasions… On Friday, an associate said Mr. Singer had not been aware of the dossier or Mr. Steele’s involvement in Fusion GPS’s research until January, when BuzzFeed published the dossier.” [NYTimes]
MEDIA WATCH: “Inside CNN and Time Warner, Fear Simmers as the AT&T Merger Looms” by Joe Pompeo: “The question has been hanging in the air for the better part of a year inside the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle: will AT&T leave CNN President Jeff Zucker in his job when—if—it completes its acquisition of Time Warner? For months, AT&T, a Dallas-based telecom giant with no news or entertainment experience to speak of, has been evasive about this question. “Can’t they say anything nice about the guy?” one Time Warner executive remarked to me recently.”
“Some at Time Warner have been charitable about his reticence. “If you’re [AT&T CEO] Randall Stephenson,” said one executive, “here’s what you don’t want to do, and everyone’s telling you this: don’t say something that can become a quote that [Trump] can take and create a problem for you with.” With the union edging ever closer to consummation, AT&T has finally decided to give Zucker a public thumbs-up. A company spokesman provided the following statement from John Stankey after I reached out to discuss this story: “We don’t comment upon anyone’s employment at a company we don’t yet own. But, as it relates to CNN, it’s clearly a great organization, they are having a great year, and Jeff Zucker is doing a terrific job.” [VanityFair]
SPOTTED on Saturday in NYC: Josh Kushner and Karlie Kloss listening to a Shabbat lecture by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks near Washington Square Park.
“Ivanka Trump, Amid West Wing Crisis, Celebrates Her Birthday” by Emily Jane Fox: “If the mood in Trumpworld was gloomy, there was no sign of discontent Saturday night, as the president and first lady strode into the gilded lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C… Ivanka Trump, the First Daughter and assistant to the president, was celebrating her 36th birthday two days early. It was a surprise dinner, and Ivanka… was joined by several friends from Manhattan, including her brother-in-law Josh Kushner. Her husband, Jared Kushner, joined after just returning from an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia.” [VanityFair]
DRIVING THE CONVO: The Israeli government’s plan to move ahead with a bill that would annex West Bank settlements to Jerusalem seems to have been stalled due to objections from the Trump administration. “The Americans turned to us and inquired what the bill was about. As we have been coordinating with them until now, it is worth (to continue) talking and coordinating with them. We are working to promote and develop the settlement enterprise,” Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers yesterday, according to Haaretz. The bill’s sponsor, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, toldNRG that he would continue to push the bill despite misgivings by the White House. Katz also said that he was somewhat surprised by the pressure from the US to shelve the plan, noting that top US officials Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman had been notified of the proposal months ago.
Greenblatt and Friedman met with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. A senior US official told The Times of Israel the meeting was “a general check-in on peace conversations.” The meeting took place after Greenblatt returned from an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia accompanying Jared Kushner and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell last week.
KAFE KNESSET — Trump administration’s diplomatic “blitz” — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The diplomatic scene appears to be heating up, and a flurry of meetings and travels inside and out of the region is building an impression that something could be going on. Yesterday, the White House confirmed Jared Kushner’s secret visit to Saudi Arabia, and Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman visited Bibi. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon discreetly made his way to Ramallah, to meet with Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah and other high-level Palestinian officials. This is the second time Kahlon met Hamdallah this year, constituting the highest-level open channel between Jerusalem and Ramallah, and the first time since Palestinian reconciliation was announced.
“We talked about things that were stuck, after the security cabinet authorized us to move forward with some things,” Kahlon said, keeping things vague, but emphasizing that the meeting was about economic and not diplomatic issues… The meeting had been postponed for months, due to recurring terror attacks. Kafe Knesset has learned that the godfather of the get-together was Jason Greenblatt, who met Kahlon last week and urged him to meet Hamdallah and move forward with several economic initiatives and make progress. As a proud father, after the meeting Greenblatt tweeted: “Meaningful steps forward on key economic issues – revenues, customs, and investment – that help support the search for peace.”
Jerusalem is buzzing with rumors, speculation, and headlines about an upcoming breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and according to one well-informed source — the Palestinian issue was also big during Steve Mnuchin’s visit last week. “Trump’s envoys are determined to present him with an achievement by the end of the year, and are now on a ‘blitz’ pushing to move forward, either politically or economically,” the source said. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
Ambassador Nikki Haley reverses Congressional testimony on U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority — by Aaron Magid: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley backtracked on remarks she made to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) this summer regarding Washington’s economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Answering a June 28 query from Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Haley testified, “We give quite a bit of money to the Palestinian Authority: directly, bilaterally.” However, in response to a written follow-up question from a member of Congress — first obtained by Jewish Insider — Haley corrected herself this month. “Since 2014, the U.S. has not provided direct budget assistance to the Palestinian Authority,” she said.
Haley’s reversal on US assistance to the PA were not the only comments the former South Carolina Governor appeared to retract from the June 28Congressional hearing. While testifying, Haley declared that Qatar “funds Hamas.” Yet, Buzzfeed’s John Hudson reported on Friday that Haley corrected these comments and later wrote to members of Congress that Doha “does not fund” Hamas. [JewishInsider]
IRAN DEAL: “Iran Says Its President Turned Down a Meeting With Trump” by Zaid Sabah: “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rebuffed a request from U.S. President Donald Trump to meet at the United Nations in New York in September… “A request indeed was made by the U.S. side but it wasn’t accepted by President Rouhani,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said at a press conference on Sunday.” [Bloomberg] • Nuclear deal won’t stop Iran from producing missiles, Rouhani says [LATimes]
STATE-SIDE — Wisconsin becomes 24th US state to bar or condemn anti-Israel BDS movement: “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued an executive order last Friday to ban state agencies from engaging in businesses with ties to the anti-Israel BDS movement…. With the passing of the order, Wisconsin became the 24th U.S. state to enact official measures condemning BDS… The initiative came just before Walker departed on a trip to Israel at the head of a 15-member business delegation. The delegation will be in Israel until Nov. 2.” [JNS]
2018 WATCH: “Two Aides With California Democratic Connections Leave Feinstein Challenger’s Team” by Ruby Cramer: “Kevin de León, the Democratic leader of the California State Senate, lost two key consultants after launching his bid to challenge a sitting five-term senator… The two former de León officials, his longtime election lawyer Stephen Kaufman and his fundraiser Stephanie Daily Smith, do not work for the incumbent candidate, Dianne Feinstein. But both work for leading California Democrats who support the 84-year-old senator, including California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, US Sen. Kamala Harris, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.” [BuzzFeed]
SCENE LAST NIGHT in Detroit — by JI reader Adam Finkel: Nearly 2,500 attendees came to the sold-out Yeshiva Beth Yehudah Annual Event. Held in Detroit, the event honored Lear CEO Matt Simoncini and featured Senator Cory Booker as the evening’s guest speaker. Ford CEO Jim Hackett was general chairman of the event. Booker offered a rousing speech about the need for civility in American politics and how Jewish individuals impacted several pivotal moments during his life. The event was held at Detroit’s Renaissance Center.
Spotted: Nancy and Jim Grosfeld, Matt Lester, Larry Wolfe, Scott Kaufman, Miryam Rosenzweig, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Congressman Sander Levin, Dr. Conad Giles, Mickey Shapiro, Sen. Booker’s Chief of Staff Matt Klapper, Gary Shiffman, Reverend Wendell Anthony, and legendary Yeshiva leader Gary Torgow. [Instagram]
** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Maryland investigating Kushner Companies over apartments [CNNMoney] • A founder who sold his last startup for ~$50 million wants to make iconic TV for teens in the YouTube era [BI] • Lord & Taylor, WeWork and the Death of Leisure [NYTimes] • Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich buys 4th townhouse on street as slap in face to de Blasio[NYPost; Curbed]
STARTUP NATION: “Armies Race to Deploy Drone, Self-Driving Tech on the Battlefield” by Robert Wall: “As with drones in the air, Israel has been an early adopter of land-based systems. The Israel Defense Forces deployed an unmanned ground vehicle along some of its borders to look for signs of possible incursions and keep troops away from cross-border sniper fire… Erez Peled, marketing vice president for Israel’s Elbit Systems Inc., ran the joint venture that developed the original Israeli border patrol car. He says that “technology wise, we clearly we can be there.” “The problem is conceptual,” Mr. Peled said. “Armies need to decide what they want.”” [WSJ]
HOLLYWOOD: “Gal Gadot Backs Out of Awards Dinner Honoring Brett Ratner” by Gene Maddaus: “Gadot was set to present the Tree of Life Award to Ratner at a dinner for the Jewish National Fund on Sunday at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. However, the actress recently backed out of the event… Nina Gordon, a spokeswoman working on Sunday’s event, said the organization was told that Gadot had a scheduling conflict. “Apparently she is stuck on promo stuff for ‘Justice League’ for China, and she’s not going to be back in time,” Gordon said… In an Instagram post on Friday, Gadot said: “That’s it for now, China. Thank you for having us.”” [Variety]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “How a WWII-era forger saved lives, one fake document at a time” by Anderson Cooper: “Adolfo Kaminsky took us to the street where he ran his secret lab, right under the nose of the Nazis. It was located in a narrow attic room in the center of Paris, just blocks from the Cathedral of Notre Dame. There, Kaminsky and three others used chemicals and other tools of the forging trade to create and alter documents, all the while avoiding detection by pretending they were artists… Using everyday items, like this sewing machine he still has, he created perforations in stamps. He salvaged metal from junk shops, and used wood blocks and inks to create rubber stamps. He also manufactured paper and reproduced watermarks, letterheads and official signatures.” [CBSNews]
“Why Israel Is Giving Syrians Free Spaghetti (And Health Care)” by Neri Zilber: “Though its future is as uncertain as the Syrian civil war, the Good Neighbor administration seems to be making more permanent plans. At a makeshift crossing on the border, the IDF recently erected a small white brick hut – with blast walls and metal detectors – to better vet the incoming Syrians (suicide bombings are a concern). There’s also the new medical clinic. Built on the site of an abandoned IDF post, the clinic sits on the other side of the heavily fortified border fence: still technically Israeli territory since the fence was built at a relative remove from the official ceasefire line, yet inside Syria for all practical military purposes.” [PoliticoMag]
ACROSS THE POND: Jeremy Corbyn turns down dinner with Israeli PM — by Kate Ferguson: “The Labour leader was invited to attend the event which is being thrown to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which helped pave the way for a Jewish state. But he has reportedly snubbed the invite and is sending his shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry instead.”[DailyMail] • 100 Years After the Balfour Declaration, a Commemoration Rekindles Mideast Quarrels [WSJ]
“Jewish Philanthropists Create a Prize for Christian Missionaries” by Donald McNeil: “Christian missionary hospitals in Africa… are now competing for a major award: a $500,000 prize created specifically for them by a Jewish businessman-philanthropist and his wife, a rabbi. The L’Chaim Prize for Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service was founded last year by Mark and Erica Gerson. L’chaim is typically translated as “to life.” But it “really means ‘to lives’ — it’s plural,” argued Mr. Gerson. “There’s no such thing as a Jewish life lived alone.”” [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Burglars use pol’s office to break into kosher deli” by Max Jaeger: “Burglars broke into the office of Brooklyn state Sen. Simcha Felder over the weekend — but that was just the appetizer, police said. The thief used Felder’s second-floor office and adjacent stairwell to gain access to the popular Mechy’s deli in the same building on the first floor, where they stole $5,000 but no food or merchandise. “They certainly weren’t desperate for pastrami,” Felder deadpanned about the 1412 Ave. J break-in in Midwood.” [NYPost]
“In Paris falafel war, it’s neighbor vs. neighbor in the city’s changing Jewish quarter” by Shashank Bengali: “They line up like pilgrims at a sacred site and cradle the famous offering in their hands, swaddled in paper and napkins that soon prove hopelessly insufficient. The crowd that jams Paris’ old Jewish quarter at midday is drawn by what some describe as one of the world’s best falafel sandwiches. Five shops selling falafel and shawarma sandwiches line the narrow, cobbled Rue des Rosiers. But unknown to most visitors, the neighbors have engaged in a quiet, bitter war for years.”
“When Mi-Va-Mi opened in 1999, L’As had already been in business for two decades, founded by Isaac Peretz, a Russian Jew from Tel Aviv, and his Tunisian-born wife, Daisy, whom he met in Israel. He followed her to the Marais, where she grew up. They opened a small grocery that sold falafel on the side, slowly adding tables and chairs before converting it to a full-time restaurant in 1997… Other falafel shops have sprung up too, but Peretz dismissed them as imitators. “They have just Xeroxed our business,” he said. “They haven’t invented anything.” While he is cordial with the others, Peretz can barely hide his contempt for Mi-Va-Mi, which was started by a Russian from the same section of Tel Aviv as his father.” [LATimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Ivanka ‘Yael’ Trump turns 36… Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Caro turns 82… Law professor, formerly: president of the University of Minnesota (1997-2002), chancellor of the University of Texas System (2002-2008), president of the University of California (2008-2013), Mark Yudof turns 73… Actor, best known for his portrayal of “The Fonz” in the “Happy Days” sitcom, Henry Winkler turns 72… NBC’s anchor, reporter and commentator, married to former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchellturns 71… Israeli, violinist, violist and conductor who appears in concerts around the world, Shlomo Mintz turns 60… Wireless communications pioneer with over 80 patents, he served as CEO of Qualcomm (2005-2014) and is now executive chairman, a co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Paul E. Jacobs, Ph.D. turns 55… Partner in the DC office of Buckley Sandler, he served as the Attorney General of Maryland (2007-2015), Douglas F. “Doug” Gansler turns 55…
Former Chief of Staff to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, David Kroneturns 51… Political correspondent for The New York Times and a political analyst for CNN, Maggie Haberman turns 44… Partner in the LA office of Crowell & Moring, he is a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia and was most recently the chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, Paul M. Rosen turns 39… AARP’s director of media relations as to Social Security and Medicare, Joshua Eric Rosenblum turns 39… National Journal and National Journal Hotline reporter covering political races in the US House of Representatives, Ally Mutnick turns 25… Consultant for grassroots and advocacy at DC-based Locust Street Group, Rebecca Schieber turns 25 (h/ts Playbook)… Founding Director at Tech Tribe and Director of Social Media for Chabad, Mordechai Lightstone…
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TOP TALKER: “State Department Scraps Sanctions Office” by Robbie Gramer and Dan De Luce: “Former officials and experts are torn on whether or not eliminating the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office will undercut the State Department’s ability to oversee sanctions. Sanctions have become a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy toward adversaries such as Iran and North Korea. Daniel Fried, a now-retired career diplomat who served as the coordinator for sanctions policy through February 2017, cautioned against misinterpreting the move. “You can’t read into that a lack of commitment to sanctions,” he told FP… “It’s not as if [the administration] is gutting sanctions altogether.”” [FP]
ON THE HILL — “Congress moves flurry of bills to counter Iran” by Bryant Harris: “House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, continues to push for adoption of his bill urging the State Department to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has a companion bill in the Senate… McCaul told Al-Monitor that his bill is currently held up by staff on the House Judiciary Committee who believe that designating terrorist organizations should remain strictly within the purview of the administration. “Maybe we’ll work with leadership to put it to the floor anyway,” he said.” [Al-Monitor]
If Congress was in charge of negotiating Middle East peace — by Aaron Magid: In a September 28 interview with Walla News, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman promised that the Trump administration would unveil within months a peace proposal to Israelis and Palestinians. With few details emerging from the White House, Jewish Insider asked several Members of Congress what they think should be included in a U.S. plan.
Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee noted, “Nobody is going to go for dividing Jerusalem… I think it will be a nonstarter for Israel. It ought to be a nonstarter for any Judeo-Christian country.” The Florida lawmaker emphasized that he supports a two state solution but contends that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Regarding the Palestinian demand for a right of return to be included in any proposal, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican during the George W. Bush administration, added, “What kind of refugees? Are they literate, are they going to be criminals or radicalized? That’s a whole other can of worms.”
“If the Palestinians believe that they need a capital in Jerusalem, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable position to take at the negotiating table,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) explained. The Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee pointed to the Geneva Accords as a model, a 2003 initiative between Israelis and Palestinians that would have established a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders with land swaps on a 1:1 basis. “What the final peace agreement will likely look like is not the problem. The problem is engaging in a process that gets everybody to yes and then lets the hecklers on each side not attack the negotiators,” Ellison said. [JewishInsider]
“Trump taps Jewish community advocate as civil rights chief at Education Department” by Valerie Strauss: “Kenneth L. Marcus of Virginia is being nominated as assistant secretary for civil rights at the education agency, taking over the same responsibilities that he filled under Bush… Trump’s nomination of Marcus comes not long after the president was criticized for blaming “both sides” for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville… Marcus… is president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law in Washington. The center, according to its website, is an independent, nonpartisan institution for public interest advocacy, research and education whose mission “is to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and to promote justice for all.” … Marcus has been vocal in criticizing supporters of what is known as the Palestinian-led BDS.” [WashPost]
“Harvey Relief Program Nixes Requirement to Not Boycott Israel” by Daniel Arkin: “A storm-battered Texas city has nixed part of a Hurricane Harvey repair grant application that required residents to vow in writing that they would not boycott Israel. The Dickinson City Council voted on Tuesday to remove that provision of the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund application.” [NBCNews]
“Top minister says settlement boycott equals Israel boycott” by Aron Heller: “Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan told The Associated Press that all boycotts against Israel are illegitimate… “A boycott is a boycott. If you want Jews not to live there because you think that is preventing peace and you think it belongs to someone else, then in a democratic country you have the tool,” he said… “My policy is to move from defense to offense … to expose the true face of the boycott activists. They have kidnapped the human rights vocabulary,” he said from his high-rise office outside Tel Aviv… “We have many achievements against the BDS but I think it is still a threat that could develop with time into a significant threat,” he said. “It is still alive and breathing.””[ABCNews]
“US on Jerusalem annexation bill: Israel, Palestinians must support peace” by Tovah Lazaroff: “The United States indicated that it could be opposed to the greater Jerusalem bill that the Israeli Legislative Committee is expected to vote on Sunday… “My understanding is that that piece of legislation is in the early stages of development,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said… “I know that it has to go through several steps before it would even become law,” Nauert said. But as a general comment, she said, “We continue to encourage both sides to take appropriate actions to ease tensions and build an environment that would support concluding a conflict-ending peace agreement.” [JPost]
2018 WATCH: “Big GOP donors launch group to elect Republican women” by Eliana Johnson: “Winning for Women arose from a series of joint fundraising committees set up over the past two cycles and supported by some of the Republican Party’s biggest donors, including… TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts and his son, Todd, and the hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. The group hopes to swell its ranks to 400,000 by November 2018.”[Politico]
“Jewish Republican Group Looks to Grow’ by Ryan Torok: “The group — Jewish Republican Alliance — is in the process of applying for nonprofit status and is trying to distinguish itself from the more established Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). Karasik said in a phone interview that he and many Alliance members are former RJC members, but he felt the RJC had become “less of a grass-roots organization and more centrally based.” In a phone interview from Washington, D.C., Alex Siegel, the RJC deputy director, said he is pleased to have an additional organization working to engage Republican Jews. “There are opportunities for both organizations to succeed in the Jewish community,” he said.” [JewishJournal]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Trump associate Cohen sold four NY buildings for cash to mysterious buyers” by Peter Stone Greg Gordon: “While serving as a top executive at the Trump Organization for a decade, Cohen himself was a sometime New York real estate wheeler dealer whose companies appear to have netted as much as $20 million in profit by flipping properties to mysterious buyers… This June, at a D.C. fundraiser for the Republican National Committee and his re-election campaign, Trump heaped praise on Cohen, who’s now a national deputy finance chair for the RNC, but hinted at the legal clouds hanging over Cohen. “Michael is a great lawyer, loyal, a wonderful person, talented, loves being on television,” said Trump, according to an audio recording first reported by the New York Times. “I miss you man.”” [McClatchy]
** 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: David Rubenstein, co-CEO of Carlyle Group, discusses the company’s succession plan, keeping the company’s edge, diversification and investing in Saudi Arabia [Bloomberg] • How Amy Gutmann and other Phila. leaders are wooing tech giant Amazon for HQ2 [TheDP] • Barry Sternlicht Says Boston Has Good Shot at Landing Amazon for HQ2 [Bloomberg] • How Politics Have Complicated Business For Kushner Companies [NPR] • Oscar Health’s Mario Schlosser and Joshua Kushner: The individual market will thrive in the long run [Axios]
STARTUP NATION: “Workey launches ‘Tinder for recruitment’” by Steve O’Hear: “I’m a millennial, we did something bad to the HR market,” says Ben Reuveni, co-founder and CEO of Israeli career development and recruitment startup Workey. Part confessional, part company pitch, he argues that, different to the generation before it, millennials change jobs every two years, while so-called Generation Z are even more fickle. To address this trend and potentially build a decent business on top of passive job hunting, Workey has built something akin to a ‘Tinder for recruitment’. The iOS app, initially launched in the U.S. and Israel, takes the form of a chatbot to ask you a series of questions related to your current job and the types of opportunities you are looking for.” [TechCrunch]
PROFILE: “Adam Pritzker Might Have the Solution to Fashion’s Retail Problem” by Dena Silver: “Adam Pritzker is one of those bold entrepreneurs who isn’t afraid to compare his business to others in the market. “I think the best way to talk about a brand is to talk about the people we admire,” he explained to the Observer… By focusing on just four areas—finance, capital, content and sales—Assembled Brands specializes in building the business side of promising companies. According to Pritzker, designers can benefit from his plan to “lower their costs, increase their distribution and build brands that have a precise and a bold aesthetic.” [Observer]
“Oscar hopeful ‘Foxtrot’ locked in Israel’s culture war” by Ilan Ben Zion: “Foxtrot was nominated for Best Film in Venice, where it won the runner-up Grand Jury Prize in September. It then swept the Ophir Awards, Israel’s most prestigious film honors, taking eight categories, including best film. The winner of the Ophir Best Film is submitted as the country’s Oscar submission… The film explores a number of issues in Israeli society, from the lingering effects of the Holocaust, to Israeli machismo and the role of Jewish tradition among secular Israelis… [Samuel] Maoz said the purpose of his art is “not to reflect reality, but to express it, to exaggerate it… to convey a message, to arouse a reaction, to open a discussion, to create dialogue.”” [ABCNews]
“Einstein scribbled his theory of happiness in place of a tip. It just sold for more than $1 million” by Rachel Siegel: “Gal Wiener, chief executive of the auction house, said the bidding on that note began at $2,000 and escalated for about 25 minutes, the Associated Press reported. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” read the other note, written on a blank sheet of paper. That note sold at auction for $240,000 and was initially estimated to sell for a high of $6,000… Roni Grosz, the archivist overseeing the Einstein archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the AFP that the notes help uncover the innermost thoughts of a scholar whose public profile was synonymous with scientific genius. “What we’re doing here is painting the portrait of Einstein — the man, the scientist, his effect on the world — through his writings,” Grosz said. “This is a stone in the mosaic.”” [WashPost]
HEARD THIS WEEK — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaking at AEI’s 2017 Irving Kristol Award Annual Dinner: “Beloved friends, I want to thank you from the depths of my heart for your generosity tonight. I was almost about to say that I’m moved beyond words, but the truth is no rabbi ever was moved beyond words. (Laughter.) At the Burning Bush, Moses, the first rabbi of all time, said, “I am not a man of words,” and then proceeded to speak for the next 40 years. (Laughter.) So let me say briefly how grateful I am…” [Video]
DESSERT: “Aaron Franklin Goes Kosher For The Brisket King Of NYC” by Casey Cheek: “You stand in line and the smells fill your nose. The barbecue looks amazing. You find your table and sit down with a beautiful spread in front of you. And then, you watch your buddies eat. Because you, you have a strict religious dietary restriction. That’s the dilemma for a Jewish pit master from Brooklyn. So Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly, teamed up with famed Austin pit master Aaron Franklin to figure out how to give a religious Brooklynite the real deal.” [TexasStandard]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Producer and director of many popular films including Animal House, Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Twins, Ivan Reitman turns 71… Rabbi at Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom since 1985, Gary Glickstein turns 70… Author, actress and comedienne, Fran Lebowitz turns 67… EVP of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a director of English football club Manchester United, both teams owned by his family, Bryan Glazer turns 53… Television meteorologist, currently working for The Weather Channel, Stephanie Abrams turns 39… Legislative assistant for Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY-17), she was previously director of government affairs for JFNA, Elizabeth (Liz) Leibowitz turns 29… San Diego attorney, Gordon Gerson…
SATURDAY: Spiritual leader of the Village of New Square (Rockland County, NY), Rabbi Dovid Twersky turns 77… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, she also serves as Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Sofa Landver turns 68… Philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gatesturns 62… Member of the Knesset for Likud since 2015, he serves as the Deputy Minister of Construction, he was mayor of Beit She’an (2002-2013), Jackie Levy turns 57… Manager of MLB’s Oakland Athletics since 2011, after a 10 year career as an MLB catcher, he has been named Manager of the Year in both 2007 (Diamondbacks) and 2012 (A’s), Bob Melvin turns 56… Actress best known for her recent TV roles as Judy Miller in CBS’s “Still Standing” and as Debbie Weaver in ABC’s “The Neighbors,” Jami Gertz… Creator and editor of the Drudge Report, previously an author and host of radio and TV shows, Matt Drudge turns 51… Member of the Knesset for Likud since 2015, Oren Hazanturns 36… Larry Berlin…
SUNDAY: Haifa-born director and screenwriter of animated and live-action films including The Lord of the Rings, Ralph Bakshi turns 79… Dean of the Yale School of Management (1996-2005), he has served in the US Army, as a federal prosecutor, as a managing director on Wall Street and in the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations, Jeffrey E. Garten turns 71… Academy Award winning actor, who played Yoni Netanyahu in the 1976 film Victory at Entebbe, Richard Dreyfuss turns 70… CEO of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of its namesake foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, Dimitri Simes turns 70… Director of the social justice organizing program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Mordechai E. Lieblingturns 69… Pulitzer Prize winning author and long-time editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick turns 59… Sports agent who has negotiated over $2 billion of NFL player contracts, Drew Rosenhaus turns 51… Mathematician, cryptologist, computer programmer and professor of mathematics and computer science, Daniel J. Bernstein turns 46… Leora Eisenberg…
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KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Dozens of Likud ministers and MKs gathered in the cabinet room to celebrate Bibi’s 68th birthday. Perhaps because of the police investigations underway, no one brought any gifts, but Netanyahu’s eldest, Yair, gave a rare statement, which could be interpreted as his birthday gesture to his father. After months of rumors about his future political plans, Yair Netanyahu said he has no intention to follow his father’s steps. “I admire the price you pay for the nation and the land, but I will never enter politics,” Netanyahu Junior said, while both his parents nodded and applauded.
Earlier this month, Bibi had already distanced himself from Yair’s rumored path, and in a Fox News interview said that he does not want his children to follow his political steps. Does this mean no more “Yair Hun,” controversial right wing Facebook posts? Not necessarily and a Netanyahu confidant told Kafe Knesset that Yair is very much interested in right wing media, though “he wanted to push off the attacks and the ambush he has been going through in recent weeks, and the whole family thought it was a good idea to put those rumors of a future in politics to rest.” [KafeKnesset]
TRANSITIONS — Netanyahu’s special envoy Isaac Molcho announced that he will be leaving his post by the end of February. It might be the end of an era. Molcho is probably one of Bibi’s closest advisors, and has been an essential confidant, envoy, and loyalist since he first assumed the post in 1996. Molcho’s unique advocacy and negotiating style even has a professional name: “Molchoism”, as several sources pointed out: “it’s common to hear people in DC say ‘don’t Molcho me.'”
PMO sources briefed Kafe Knesset that Molcho had asked to be relieved of his duties a year ago but that Netanyahu convinced him to stay. But now Molcho wishes to spend more time with his family… All of this comes against the backdrop of growing public scrutiny of Molcho’s volunteer activities and mixture of private business and public activity. This scrutiny, pundits believe is the real reason for Molcho’s request to be relieved from his duties. The State is supposed to reply today to looming petitions at the Supreme Court in which the State is supposed to explain why Molcho is still serving as Bibi’s advisor in light of the investigation of the Submarine affair, a/k/a File 3000, in which Molcho’s partner, Netanyahu’s lawyer, David Shimron, is a suspect.
Kafe Knesset learned that one of the leading candidates to replace Molcho is another old-time close associate and advisor of the PM, Dore Gold. Gold was the director general of the Foreign Ministry, between June 2015 and October 2016, and is currently the director of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold has been participating in meetings with Molcho and has been in contact with US administration officials for a few weeks now, as part of preparations for an American peace plan that could be formulated in the coming weeks.
The Prime Minister’s office confirmed that “Dori Gold is certainly one of the candidates to replace Molcho. The Prime Minister will announce the identity of the replacement soon.” Gold told Kafe Knesset that “I did not sign any contract and will continue to be president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. I am happy to assist the Prime Minister in everything and give him my input.” Gold expressed regret over Molcho’s resignation and said that Molcho was “a tremendous asset to the state.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]
“According to Intelligence Minister, Israel willing to resort to military action to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons” by Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo: “If international efforts led these days by U.S. President Trump don’t help stop Iran attaining nuclear capabilities, Israel will act militarily by itself,” Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said in an interview in Tokyo. “There are changes that can be made (to the agreement) to ensure that they will never have the ability to have a nuclear weapon.” [Reuters]
ON THE HILL — “Iran Sanctions Over Support for Hezbollah Pass U.S. House” by Anna Edgerton: “The U.S. House passed new sanctions in response to Iran’s support for Hezbollah… Two bills received bipartisan support Wednesday and represent the first action from Congress against Iran… A third measure addressing ballistic missiles is set for a vote Thursday.” [Bloomberg]
“Corker in talks with Cardin on Iran nuclear deal” by Elana Schor: “[Bob] Corker said Wednesday that his conversations with [Ben] Cardin… are in good faith and ongoing. “There’s no rush,” Corker told reporters. “We’d like to see if it’s possible to have a bipartisan bill. This bill, we’d hope would pass with 80 to 85 votes by the time we’re through with it.” … “We won’t do anything that violates the” terms of the 2015 deal, Cardin said of his fellow Democrats, adding that “we have to have the understanding and support of Europe.”
“Democrats remain deeply skeptical that Corker can craft a bill that meets Trump’s demand for stronger terms for the Iran pact without blowing up the entire agreement. “I think Sen. Corker is trying to be constructive, to bring together Democrats who support the deal and Republicans who oppose it,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said… Corker said on Wednesday that he is “of course” open to changes to his and Cotton’s initial framework that would get Cardin on board, suggesting that an official roll-out of the bill initially expected as soon as this week could slip.” [Politico]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Panel clashes over next steps in Iran debate at the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Mark Wallace, CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran, testified that Congress should pass additional legislation that would reimpose nuclear sanctions on Tehran if the sunset clauses were not eliminated while also intensifying restrictions against the country’s ballistic missile program… However, Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former senior official in the Obama administration, pushed back against Wallace’s proposal. “The problem is that it impossible for the United States to unilaterally alter fundamental terms of the deal or to imagine that our allies and other parties will agree to try to do so,” he explained.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) blasted the JCPOA for not addressing Tehran’s ballistic missile program and Iranian support for terrorist organizations including Hezbollah and Hamas… Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a supporter of the JCPOA, said such expectations of the 2015 nuclear agreement were unrealistic. “When Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon negotiated the Salt I (arms control) agreement, did they insist that all negative behavior on the part of the Soviet Union be incorporated into that agreement?” Connolly asked rhetorically. “They did not.” Gordon replied. [JewishInsider]
JARED INSIDER: “Kushner will take a diminished role on Trump’s China trip” by Annie Karni and Andrew Restuccia: “Kushner’s shrinking role on the international stage is seen by some White House officials as another sign of Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, standardizing a previously unorthodox power structure. Other White House aides say it’s evidence of a lean administration finally filling out and now running at full power… Kushner, for his part, still participates in China policy meetings at the White House… But now, instead of serving as the point man, he’s one voice at a table that includes more than a dozen Cabinet secretaries and senior White House officials.” [Politico]
ADMIN TRAVEL — Vice President Pence to visit Israel and Egypt in December” by Ken Thomas and Jill Colvin: “Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday that he will travel to Israel and Egypt in late December… The vice president’s trip is expected to take him to Israel during Hanukkah, where he’ll discuss the prospects for a Middle East peace agreement in separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Pence is also expected to address U.S. policy toward Iran and highlight Israel’s space program — a favorite issue. Pence is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and highlight U.S.-Egypt cooperation on security issues.” [AP]
“US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to visit Israel Thursday” by Tal Schneider: “US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin is visiting Israel [today] in his first visit since taking office. Mnuchin landed [yesterday] in Saudi Arabia for a round of meetings with Middle Eastern ministers of finance. Following meetings in Jerusalem on Thursday and Friday, Mnuchin will fly to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. In Israel, he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, and will tour Yad Vashem.” [Globes] • Video of Mnuchin meeting with Netanyahu[Twitter]
“Jewish Agency snubs Netanyahu ahead of upcoming board meeting” by Raphael Ahren: “The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors… is opening its third and last meeting of 2017 on Sunday in the capital’s David Citadel Hotel… Netanyahu, who usually addresses Jewish Agency Board of Governor meetings at least once a year, has not been invited to speak or to meet with the organization’s leadership… The last time Netanyahu publicly addressed the Jewish Agency was in November 2016 at the Knesset.” [ToI]
“New conservative-leaning think tank launched in Jerusalem” by Herb Keinon: “The Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) bills itself as Israel’s “new conservative security think tank” that “seeks to counter debilitating currents in Israeli defense and diplomatic discourse and recapture the mainstream in Zionist security thinking.” Efraim Inbar, who headed the BESA Center for 24 years… is the president of the new institute… Eran Lerman, a former deputy head at the National Security Council, said the institute will deal with the basic issues of national security, with an emphasis “on the struggle for the future of Jerusalem.”” [JPost]
STATE-SIDE: “As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up” by Jonathan Martin and Jeremy Peters: “On Wednesday, Joe Straus, the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, announced that he would not run again, an indication that the Washington fever was spreading. Mr. Straus, a pragmatist with deep ties to the Bush family who had tangled with his state’s hard-liners, delivered a plea that Republicans “appeal to our diverse population with an optimistic vision,” but he still chose flight over fight.” [NYTimes]
2020 WATCH: “What L.A.’s Mayor Would Do If He Were President” by Laura Bliss: “Steve Clemons, the editor-at-large of Atlantic Live and the panel moderator… asked how Garcetti would translate his progressive transportation policies on a national stage, given the opportunity. The mayor did not miss a step. First, he described an infrastructure bill that would fund transportation projects that “prize innovation.” … Second, he’d want to fund the full lifetime of transportation projects—not just their construction.” [CityLab]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Trump Decides Against Gary Cohn for Fed Chair[Bloomberg] • David Horovitz: Why binary options ban is only a small victory in the war on Israeli corruption [ToI] • Michael Dell’s EMC Bet Looking Shaky[TheInformation] • Jeffrey Katzenberg, Evan Spiegel Join Paley Board, Sumner Redstone Shifts to Emeritus [Variety]
PROFILE: “How Did David Rubenstein—Yes, That David Rubenstein—Become a TV Star?” by Ben Woffard: “At 68, David Rubenstein is now host of his own show on Bloomberg Television. The half-hour program—The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations—plops him beside fellow CEOs of the billionaire class, with the occasional sports star and military general thrown in… The show, at first, raised eyebrows. Given his reputation—Rubenstein is known for an unprepossessing manner and an almost enforced personal awkwardness—the prospect of loosing him onscreen seemed about as plausible as asking Clarence Thomas to host Fear Factor.”
“Indeed, Rubenstein’s not-made-for-TV persona turns up in every episode as he engages his subjects with a sorrowful deportment that appears vaguely related to sitting shiva. He scowls. He slouches. (He’s been advised, he says joshingly, to “sit up more straight.”) With a jaw that unlatches errantly and a gaze that wanders, he has the aspect of a man continually in deep recall for a geometry exam. But this is a setup, of sorts, for the show’s atonement: his oddball humor, which earns audience laughs during every shoot.” [Washingtonian]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “‘Diller Island’ Is Back From the Dead” by Charles Bagli: “The site of Pier 55, a planned arts center on the Hudson River backed by the entertainment mogul Barry Diller. The plan was revived Wednesday, more than a month after it had been canceled… The revival of the project was like “Lazarus,” [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo said in an interview… “Sometimes you just have to believe.” … Mr. Diller, who had seemed distressed when he canceled the project, said Mr. Cuomo had called him shortly before announcing that a deal had been made. When the governor asked him how he felt, Mr. Diller said he replied, “I feel great, I’m excited again.”” [NYTimes]
MEDIA WATCH: “Five women accuse journalist and ‘Game Change’ co-author Mark Halperin of sexual harassment” by Oliver Darcy:“During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me,” Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesdaynight. “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.” MSNBC, where Halperin makes frequent appearances on “Morning Joe,” said early Thursday that Halperin would leave his roles at that network and as an analyst at NBC News.”[CNN]
FLASHBACK to episode 11 of The Circus, originally aired March 27, 2016: Quote from host Mark Halperin on Donald Trump’s speech at AIPAC: “Trump walks into a huge, tough crowd, gives a well-crafted speech, he shifts on his positions on Israel, ticking the boxes on all the erogenous zones of the American Israel lobby, and walks out triumphant, where the expectations and scrutiny were sky high.” [Showtime]
“Scaramucci Holocaust Poll Donation Will Fund Nazi Hunter’s Work” by Stav Ziv and Celeste Katz: “Anthony Scaramucci’s $25,000 apology-donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) will go toward funding the efforts of its Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, the organization announced… Scaramucci spokesman Howard Bragman told Newsweek that the former White House communications director also is planning to travel to Israel in November. “Looking back,” Bragman said of the controversial poll, “it would have been nice if it didn’t happen—but since it did happen, we are trying to make the best of it.”” [Newsweek]
“Design for London’s New Holocaust Memorial Is Unveiled” by Anna Codrea-Rado: “A team led by David Adjaye, the Ghanaian-British architect behind the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, has won a competition to design a new Holocaust memorial in London. The winning proposal envisages an elevated memorial site in Victoria Tower Gardens, a park near the Houses of Parliament, and an underground learning center.” [NYTimes]
Theresa May sends message to mark Great Shabbat Switch Off: “Prime Minister Theresa May has sent a short message of good wishes via social media to all those taking part in this weekend’s Great Shabbat Switch Off for Shabbat UK. The Chief Rabbi said of the initiative: “Separation from mundane work and empty distraction is necessary to reinvigorate one’s soul; to find space for meaningful engagement with our friends and families in a noisy world of media and communications which constantly demand our attention.””[TheJC]
SPORTS BLINK: “Judo Federation chastises Abu Dhabi over Israeli treatment” by Ian Deitch: “The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam is reportedly banning Israeli athletes from wearing their country’s symbols on uniforms, and is singling Israel out with a ban on displaying its flag or playing its anthem. A letter from the IJF to the president of the UAE Judo Federation… says “all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.” … The letter was sent to the World Jewish Congress, which represents over 100 Jewish communities, and had asked the IJF to intervene and “protect the rights of the Israeli national judo team and keep the spirit of sport free of political discrimination.”” [AP]
BIRTHDAYS: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turns 70… Actress who has appeared in 25 films plus 68 episodes of Will & Grace, Shelley Morrison (born into a Sephardic family as Rachel Mitrani) turns 81… South African judge who led an infamous 2009 UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Richard Goldstone turns 79… Actress best known as one of Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981 TV series), Jaclyn Smith (family name was Kupferschmidt) turns 72… Evie Sullivan turns 71… Rabbi of Congregation K.I.N.S. and Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy, both in Chicago, he is a past president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Leonard Matanky, Ph.D., turns 59… Director of Communications at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy since 2011, he was formerly at Hillel, Jeffrey Rubin turns 58… Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff turns 56… Founding Partner and President of of Global Strategy Group, who served for 15 years as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs,Jefrey Pollock turns 46… Figure skater who won a 2006 Olympic silver medal, plus three World Championship medals and the 2006 U.S. Championship, Sasha Cohen turns 33… Alberto Calo… Evan May…
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