Daily Kickoff: Paul Singer on his politics and philanthropy | WH-Jerusalem comms bottleneck | Dem Senator’s tense ZOA speech | Natalie Portman BDay

Have our people email your people. Share this sign up link with your friends 

PEER-TO-PEER: In rare interview, Paul Singer discusses his upbringing and how he views politics and philanthropy: Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management, demonstrated his Jewish humor and opened up about his upbringing, love for music, and the philanthropic causes he supports during a rare wide-ranging interview with David Rubenstein, host of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” on Bloomberg TV, at the Bloomberg Invest New York summit this week.

Rubenstein: Where does the name Elliott come from? Singer: “My middle name. I thought it was better than Paul.”

Singer’s Jewish mother’s reaction when he gave up practicing law to enter the world of business: “Can you earn a living?” Rubenstein: I assume she is proud of you — Singer: “Yes she is”DR: Does she recognize that giving up the practice of law was probably a good idea? PS: “I hesitated because…” DR: Because she’s Jewish?… PS: “She hasn’t been in great shape for the last several years…” DR: But when she was in better shape, she must have called you today, ‘You are doing great’? PS: “Never. She called me once and said, ‘Your reports are too long.’”

Political affiliation — Rubenstein: Were you always a Republican? Singer: “I was a Stevensonian Democrat in 1956 and a Kennedy liberal. But starting with Goldwater I became a conservative.”

Singer on Trump: “I voted for him. I was not going to vote for Hillary Clinton as some of my Republican friends did. And I became optimistic about some of the opportunities – in economic growth, regulatory reforms, and tax reform.” DR: Did you know him before he was elected president? PS: “I did not. I invested in his bonds a couple of times (laughter). They were [high] on the date of issue.”

If Trump offered him an administration post:“I would say, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. President, but I am doing what I love doing and I’d be happy to render whatever help I can as a private citizen.”

As one of the early signers of the Giving Pledge, here’s how Singer views his philanthropy: “I am very interested in supporting Jewish causes, particularly Israel and the economic stability and growth of Israel, the acceptance of Israel, [and] the normalization of Israel’s relationships with other countries. I am also interested in the rule of law and I am interested in campuses – free speech on campus.”

Legacy and a dig at the NY Times — Rubenstein:
Let’s suppose the New York Times were to ask somebody to write an obituary for Paul Singer and let’s suppose they ask you to write the obituary, what would you like to see as the headline of what you had accomplished in your life? Singer: “Could it be the Wall Street Journal? It would help me think better (laughter)… ‘He tried to make a difference. He protected a lot of people’s capital over a long period of time. He was steady, reliable.’” Video of the interview and full recap by Jacob Kornbluh here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Unfilled State Dept. posts hamper daily Israeli-US ties” by Herb Keinon and Michael Wilner: “Understaffing in the State Department since the inauguration of President Donald Trump is affecting everyday communication between Jerusalem and Washington… There’s basically only one guy – Jason Greenblatt,” said a source who advises the president’s Middle East team. “That’s it. There’s no office, there’s no bureaucracy. Ron [Dermer] might talk to Jared [Kushner], and Jared might talk to Jason. But there’s no assistant secretary of state. There’s no special envoy. There’s no under-secretary, there’s no deputy secretary.” … The [Israeli] official said that the channel between the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House is important, “but it can only handle so much, only the most pressing issues – they can’t get to the day-to-day things that are important.” Michael Oren, deputy minister for diplomacy, said that the situation “does impact on us.” It is “important to have addresses,” he said.” [JPost

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Dept. spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Israel’s announcement about 2,500 units in the West Bank: “President Trump has talked about this consistently, and he has said, in his opinion, unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance the peace process. He’s been pretty clear about that. It doesn’t help the prospect for peace. That is something that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is important to this administration, and they will keep promoting that. They remain optimistic.”

Nauert on the report that Abbas has dropped his demand for a full settlement freeze: “I’m not aware of any diplomatic conversations about that very topic.” [Transcript

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says Israel is ‘closer than ever’ to regional peace deal: “We are far closer to an agreement than ever before,” Liberman told Channel 2 on Thursday… When asked how the deal would come together, Liberman responded: “Because Trump has arrived on the scene and because, as I keep saying, the Arab countries have internalized that their problem is not Israel. Israel can be a solution to the problem.” … “If you’re asking me whether Netanyahu is making every effort,” he added, “yes, he is. I can testify that he is making a great many efforts.” [ToI

–Aaron David Miller: “Extraordinary statement by senior Israeli official. Either Emperor has no clothes or…price for Gulf Arabs is one Israel’s willing to pay.” [Twitter]

“Trump didn’t know the Middle East could be so complicated” by Fareed Zakaria: “One of the great successes of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy was that they were able to woo Egypt into the American sphere, while simultaneously preserving an alliance with the shah of Iran… If the Trump administration wants stability in the Middle East, it should help broker a new balance of power. This cannot happen purely on Saudi terms. Iran is a major player in the region, with real influence, and its role will have to be recognized… This would not cede anything to Tehran. Iran’s influence would be countered by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Haley’s high heels in Israel — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov:After a private helicopter tour of the country’s borders yesterday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley kicked off her third day in Israel at a meeting this morning with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the meeting, Liberman gave Haley a present: a special figurine of a high heel shoe embroidered with pearls and gold, with a plaque dedicated “to the USA’s New Sheriff.”  Liberman referred to Haley’s AIPAC speech last March, in which she declared that her high heels are not a fashion statement but a symbol of her intention to “kick them every single time” she sees something wrong. “You are a true friend of Israel, and we appreciate the great help and struggle you are waging against those who try to hurt us and defame us. So in gratitude I am giving you this souvenir and you are invited to use it if necessary …”

Moscow first? After the disappointment with President’s Trump delay on the much anticipated US Embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel is continuing the campaign and perhaps shifting the focus of the campaign to the east. Likud Minister Zeev Elkin called on Moscow yesterday to beat the US to the point and be the first country to announce an Embassy move. Speaking at a Russian Embassy event marking the country’s National Day in Tel Aviv, Elkin said “I cannot but wish that you and your country take advantage of the half-year hiatus that the President of the United States has unfortunately taken to win the competition between the two powers and be the first country to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem – before the Americans. This year in built Jerusalem!” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

ON THE HILL — House Members discuss bolstering financial pressure against Hezbollah — by Aaron Magid: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing yesterday devoted to increasing the economic pressure against Hezbollah. Dr. Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Studies (WINEP), called for harsher sanctions against Tehran due to its ongoing support of Hezbollah. While not undermining the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, “more vigorous action could be taken against entities such as the IRGC Quds Force, Mahan Air, and a host of other Iranian entities involved in Tehran’s support for terrorism,” he suggested.

In an odd moment during the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) asked, “Is Hezbollah — the people who make up Hezbollah — are they all Palestinians?” Rohrabacher added that he had previously assumed that the Palestinian refugees who fled to Lebanon were the ones who created Hezbollah. [JewishInsider] • Bronx Man Accused of Casing J.F.K. Airport for Potential Hezbollah Attack [NYTimes]

How Israel spots lone-wolf attackers: “Since its outbreak in late 2015, there have been hundreds of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis. If the violence has ebbed, it may be in part because the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have become better at forestalling attacks. Israeli spooks reckon they have lessons to offer Western countries struggling to stop lone wolves. These days IDF algorithms monitor the social-media accounts of young Palestinians to look for early-warning signs. These include “tripwire” terms such as the “sword of Allah” or “day of the sword”, associated with the writings of past attackers.” [Economist]

SCENE AT THE ZOA — “Dem Senator’s speech to conservative Jewish group gets tense” by Jonathan Swan: “Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown created a tense moment with a conservative pro-Israel audience when he told them he was concerned about “bigotry and anti-Semitism” at the highest levels of the Trump administration. Addressing the Zionist Organization of America’s event in D.C. on Tuesday, Brown said, “There are a whole lot of members in the Senate, in both parties, that are very concerned about the bigotry and the anti-Semitism in the White House.” It didn’t go down well… A source said there were boos and hisses, and a video shot at the event bears that out, with the crowd cheering every time Brown mentioned [Steve] Bannon’s name.” [Axios

NEW TRUMP GUARD — “Behind Trump’s silence: Why the counterpuncher let others do the punching” by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa: “A president who earlier in the week had been spoiling for a fight with Comey — and who sees his Twitter feed as both megaphone and weapon — was convinced by his personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz and senior aides to stay cool and lay low… Kasowitz and White House advisers… argued to Trump that they had a rapid-response operation in place Thursday to defend him as vociferously as he would defend himself, according to people familiar with the discussions… “Kasowitz was able to persuade the president that he would not give a Washington-style, tepid defense,” said a top Republican figure who is close to the White House. “Trump’s big charge with his staff is that they don’t defend him aggressively. And Kasowitz convinced him that not only will I defend you, but I will attack Comey where there’s room to.”” [WashPost

“‘We Are Going to Fight,’ Trump Says, but Calm Reigns During Comey Testimony” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “His top advisers, especially his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, were worried that the president would defy Mr. Kasowitz and take to Twitter to vent his pique with Mr. Comey… Mr. Kasowitz has met with many top staff members to advise them against discussing issues facing the president, even relatively innocuous ones, telling one aide, “Leave everything to me.” For their part, many of Mr. Trump’s aides were less than impressed by the public performance of Mr. Kasowitz.” [NYTimes]

DIDN’T LAST TOO LONG… “Trump just ended his second-longest Twitter drought since he declared his candidacy” by Philip Bump: “Trump came up tantalizingly short on setting a new record. Had he gone three more minutes, he would have set it, but [the first] tweet was slightly too early.” [WashPost; CNN]

SHABBAT TWITTER WATCH: Will Trump set off a tweetstorm while at his NJ golf course Saturday?

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “Kushner plans to meet with Senate intel staff as soon as this month, source says” by Manu Raju and Tom LoBianco: “Jared Kushner is expected to meet with Senate intelligence committee staff as soon as this month, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. It’s unclear when he will meet with members of the committee, the source added, and no date has been set.” [CNN; NBCNews]

Sen. Cory Booker on Comey’s testimony:”This testimony illustrates why what Kushner and others have been alleged to do is serious, grave and dangerous. The truth must come out.” [Twitter]

“Tech CEOs Cook, Bezos, Catz Said to Attend Kushner-Led Summit” by Mark Bergen  and Brian Womack: 
“The American Technology Council meeting will include a gathering of top executives followed by smaller sessions on particular topics, including those involving tech sales to government agencies, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters… The list of planned attendees include Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos, Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz and International Business Machines Corp. CEO Ginni Rometty, the people said. Alphabet Inc. plans to send Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Facebook Inc. also has been invited to send an executive to the summit, but it hasn’t yet replied to the invitation.” [Bloomberg

“Daniel C. Richman: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know” by Brendan Morrow: “During his Congressional testimony… former FBI Director James Comey said that he instructed a friend to leak a memo to a reporter in order to prompt a special counsel appointment… Comey did not name names, but he was referring to Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia Law School professor… In 2004, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Dan Richman to the position of chairman of the Local Conditional Release Commission… Students at Columbia say that he is an effective mentor and confidante. “I can’t count the number of people who have told me they rely on Professor Richman both inside and outside the classroom,” Elizabeth R. Cruikshank of the class of 2015 said. “And yet despite the sheer number of students who consult him and seek his help, none of those relationships ever feels routine or perfunctory.”” [Heavy]

Joe Lieberman on a paralyzed Congress: “Congress is paralyzed. Republicans can’t even agree with other Republicans. And for the most part, Democrats have endorsed a deliberate strategy of gridlock and resistance. Washington is perpetually engulfed by anonymous leaks and diversions. The end result is that the people’s business has taken a permanent back seat to politics and division. Now, more than ever, we have to recognize the importance of bipartisan action.” [CNN]

UK ELECTION: “‘Corbyn surge’ in London faltered in ‘bagel belt’ suburbs with strong Jewish vote” by Robert Philpot: “As the elections results Friday showed a drift back to Labour that cost Theresa May’s Conservative Party its parliamentary majority and left May battered and discredited, British Jews seemed to move sharply in the opposite direction… Given the closeness of the result, Jewish voters, who are concentrated in a small number of highly marginal seats, may potentially have helped preserve May’s premiership. Early indications had predicted that – in line with its strong performance in the capital – Labour would pull off a number of upset victories in the north London “bagel belt”. Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon and Chipping Barnet were all slated to fall to Corbyn’s party.. Both were contested by leading lights in the Jewish Labour Movement who had faced criticism within the community for attempting to unseat pro-Israel Tory incumbents.” [ToI] • Zac Goldsmith bounces back to regain Richmond Park seat [ITV]

David Horovitz: “Humiliation of May, rise of Corbyn, make gloomy news for Jerusalem: Netanyahu has wanted to believe that political forces in many places worldwide are shifting in what he considers to be Israel’s favor. Not in the UK, they’re not.” [ToI]

Mike Granoff tweets: “Only upside: more English speaking Israelis soon.” [Twitter]

** 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: Teva has multibillion dollar drug [Globes] • Israeli tech firm turns parked car windows into video displays [Reuters] • Michael Cohen Pitched Investors For A Powerful Ukrainian Oligarch’s Company [BuzzFeed] • What’s the future of media? Ask BuzzFeed chairman and HuffPost co-founder Ken Lerer [Recode]

SPOTLIGHT: “Howard Schultz for President?” by Beth Kowitt: “Schultz has made it clear he’s concerned with the country’s direction… The Starbucks chairman is clearly focused on political developments. The day I interviewed him and [Kevin] Johnson in Schultz’s office, where photos of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy sit on the windowsill, the House was scheduled to vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Schultz asked a PR person twice in an hour whether the House had voted yet. Will he run for office? “I don’t have any plans to do that,” Schultz told me, and needless to say, that amounts to something less than a no. A politician couldn’t have said it better.”” [Fortune

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Rabbi Aaron Kotler talks Lakewood development, school funding during ‘Ask the Editor'” by Mike Davis: “Ten years ago, the township of Lakewood surpassed Trenton – the [NJ] state capital – in population. But over the last decade, township officials have been trying to keep up with a skyrocketing population using wildly outdated plans and policies, [Rabbi Aaron] Kotler said… But as for Lakewood residents leaving for the more rural pastures of Jackson, Toms River or Howell? That’s… because they’d grown tired of the city-like development…  But others move to Lakewood from apartment buildings in Brooklyn: For them, a townhouse or duplex is “rural,” Kotler said.” [APP]

MEDIA WATCH: “Vox’s Ezra Klein Explains it All” The editor in chief of Vox on why explaining policy is more important than ever” by Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke: “This is a very proud moment for journalism. I think The New York Times and The Washington Post are genuine champions in this moment. The role that they are playing in democracy is the role that you hear about journalism playing in civics classes. Other people are doing great work, but the Times and the Post have really been leaders. The public is watching, and they are hungry. They know something is wrong, there’s a lot of anxiety out there. There’s a real sense that the mission of journalism is very clear.” [WWD]

“America’s Descent Into Middle Eastern-Style Conspiracy-Theory Madness” by Lee Smith: “The American media has become just like the Arab press, consumed by savvy audiences not for the news it actually publishes but for the various pieces of information disclosed between the lines… What’s interesting here is the light this episode sheds on the modern conspiracy theory itself, the weaponized political narrative that began in Russia with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Thus it’s curious that the origins of the Kremlin Conspiracy can be found in the Kremlin itself… In a country of more than 300 million people, you can find a significant percentage of the population who will believe any wild story you can dream up—whether it’s Pizzagate, UFOs, Obama is a Kenyan Marxist, or the fact that Clinton lost because she was heavily criticized by a Russian television network that .001 percent of Americans watch.” [Tablet]

SPORTS BLINK: “Did LeBron James want Dan Gilbert to trade his ownership of the Cavaliers for the Detroit Pistons?” by Brian Manzullo: “So what I was told to me last night is … LeBron was willing to go back to Cleveland, but he wanted the Cavaliers’ ownership to buy the Pistons, and the Pistons’ ownership would take over the Cavaliers,” [Dan] Patrick said on his radio show… “[Tom] Izzo, friends with the guys who own the Pistons, they were then going to take over the Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert, who’s a Michigan guy, would get to then own the Pistons. And LeBron would then be able to play in Cleveland for the ownership of the Pistons as opposed to Dan (Gilbert).” [Freep]

“Patriots owner’s son piles onto the Jets misery” by Hannah Withiam: “Can’t the Patriots just let the Jets struggle in peace? The son of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Josh, twisted the knife on the Jets’ already miserable offseason by boasting the Patriots’ history of success during a visit to the franchise’s Hall of Fame on Thursday. “It’s a lot better than the Jets’ Hall of Fame, which is nonexistent,” Josh Kraft commented at the event.” [NYPost]

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — Nature vs. Nurture — The Dr. Mona Riklis Ackerman lecture Series on the Psychology of Philanthropy held its annual event last night at the NYU Kimmel Center. A Conversation on the Psychological Development of Philanthropy event included a high powered panel featuring Lisa Silverstein, Jacob Toll, Sarah Ojjeh and moderated by NYU professor Ed Seidman. This is the second installment in the series which last time featured Michael Steinhardt. The lecture series was established by Dr. Ackerman’s children – Bunk1 Founder Ari Ackerman and Dr. Gila Steinbock, in honor of their beloved mom who was a legend in NYC philanthropic circles. It celebrates her life and work as former clinical psychologist while acknowledging her position on the NYU faculty and a member of the NYU board of trustees.

Spotted: Ari Ackerman, Dr. Gila Steinbock, Lisa Silverstein, Jacob Toll, Columnist Richard Cohen, Patricia Duff, UJA President Jeff Schoenfeld, Ralph Lauren marketing director David Lauren, Sixty hotel owner Jason Pomeranc, AIPAC’s Jay Haberman, Marcia Riklis, David Gomberg, Lisa Ernst, Patricia Moran, Steven Gad, Adam Lowe.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYStandup comedian Jackie Mason (born Yacov Moshe Maza) turns 89… Journalist for 30 years at CBS who then became the founding director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, Marvin Kalb turns 87… Retired Israeli diplomat Aviezer “Avi” Pazner turns 80… Author and founding editor of Ms. Magazine, mother of identical twin daughters, Robin Pogrebin and Abigail Pogrebin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin turns 78… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Maurice of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, noted for his art collection and for owning Saatchi Gallery, Charles Saatchi turns 74… Diplomat, Pentagon official, political writer, policy analyst, Shakespeare historian, he was national editor of Washingtonian magazine for more than 17 years, Kenneth Adelman turns 71… Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network (a broker/dealer network) and chairman of Southworth Development (golf and leisure business), Joseph Deitch turns 67… Professional mediator, previously a syndicated advice columnist in many Jewish newspapers (1995-2006), Wendy J. Belzberg turns 59… Formerly Israel’s military attache in DC (2005-09) who went on to become the IDF’s Chief of General Staff, Benjamin “Benny” Gantz turns 58… Producer, playwright and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin turns 56… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, an opposition research firm for political campaigns, previously a White House Jewish liason (2005-2006), Jeff Berkowitz turns 38… Jerusalem born actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman turns 36… Online producer, writer and director, who together with his brother Benny, are best known for their React video series which have billions of YouTube views, Rafi Fine turns 34… Senior associate at DC-based Precision Strategies, Jeffrey Francis (Jeff) Solnet turns 25 (h/t Playbook)… Entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies, which includes NEU, sunglass company Glass-U, medical app Dosed, and Boston based tutoring firm NexTutors, Daniel Fine turns 24… Joe Biden’s Deputy Press Secretary (2014-2017), Stephen Spector… Craig Appelbaum

SATURDAYAuthor of award-winning books about her experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, Aranka Davidowitz Siegal turns 87… Emmy Award winning TV journalist who has worked for CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and PBS, Jeff Greenfield turns 74… Strategic communications director at the Generation to Generation program powered by Encore[dot]org, Stefanie “Stef” Weiss turns 59… Former Attorney General and then Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer turns 58… President of Skokie-based Pharmore Drugs, Avi H. Goldfeder turns 58… Film, television and stage actress, singer and author, Gina Gershon turns 55… Executive director of NYC-based Encounter Programs, designed to transform communal engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yona Shem-Tov… Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner newspaper Dovid Efune… Cathy Miller… Melbourne native, now director of strategic partnerships at the Birthright Israel Foundation and director of community education at NYC’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Rabbi Daniel Kraus turns 36…

SUNDAYHeir to the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, minister in two British governments under prime ministers Major and Thatcher (1990-1994), Sir Timothy Alan Davan Sainsbury turns 85… Columbus, Ohio-based retail mogul, Chairman and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters, Value City Department Stores, DSW and others, sponsor of ArtScroll’s translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Jay Schottenstein turns 63… Hedge fund manager, now managing his own $13 billion net worth, Steven A. Cohen turns 61… Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Yoav Ben-Tzur turns 59… VP of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Duke University, based at Duke’s DC center, Michael J. Schoenfeld turns 55… President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami turns 55… White House Jewish liaison (technically, associate director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement) from 2013 to 2016, Matt Nosanchuk turns 52… Synagogue rabbi in Brooklyn and Perth Amboy, NJ in the 1990s, campus rabbi at UCLA, now national educational director for Olami Worldwide and founder of Shabbat[dot]com, Rabbi Benzion Zvi Klatzko turns 49… Chabad rabbi noted for his web based lectures, succeeded his father for some years as editor-in-chief of the Yiddish weekly Algemeiner Journal, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson turns 45… Israeli attorney Dana Naor Mande’el… Jennifer Rubin

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: Abbas aide says settlement freeze no longer a precondition for talks | Livni-Greenblatt ties | Preet & a Rabbi spotted at Comey hearing

Have our people email your people. Share this sign up link with your friends 

DRIVING THE DAY — THE COMEY SHOW: “Comey’s testimony could turn congressional probes toward question of obstruction” by Ed O’Keefe and Karoun Demirjian: “Barak Cohen, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice at Perkins Coie, said of Comey’s testimony: “There’s enough here to raise serious questions about whether obstruction occurred.” [WashPost

Norm Eisen, former WH ethics czar and a long time defense lawyer who got to know Comey while overseeing an FBI office as Ambassador, tells us… “Comey’s opening statement makes out a prima facie case of obstruction of justice, although that of course is not the same as a conclusive final case. It is the most damaging evidence of a president’s words since the Nixon tapes. But it leaves many questions unanswered. Expect Comey to address some of them today — it would not be like him to not have saved some surprises.”

SPOTTED AT THE HEARING: Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld sitting next to former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara [Pic]

Ari Fleischer‏: “Seems to me key headline is Comey confirming Trump is not under investigation. Isn’t that what collusion w/ Russia was all about?” [Twitter]

HEARD YESTERDAY — NJ Gov. Chris Christie on MSNBC with Nicolle Wallace: “I want to hear, and I think most people want to hear, from Jared Kushner. And he has said that he is absolutely willing to testify.” [MSNBC]

PRESSURE OFF SETTLEMENTS = PRESSURE ON PEACE: “Abbas Will Put Aside Settlement Halt for Peace Talks, Aide Says” by Jonathan Ferziger and Fadwa Hodali: “Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will temporarily shelve his long-standing demand for Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction in order to revive peace talks under the Trump administration, a top adviser said… “We have not made the settlements an up-front issue this time,” [Mohammad Mustafa, Abbas’s senior economic adviser and former deputy prime minister,] said in an interview Monday… “We think it’s better for all of us right now to focus on giving this new administration a chance to deliver.” … Another high-ranking Abbas aide, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said Trump earned Palestinian confidence when he postponed moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.” [Bloomberg]

“Trump Middle East envoy deals with his own palace intrigue” by Jonathan Swan: “A narrative is catching on among pro-Israel hardliners that President Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, is getting too close politically to… [one of Israel’s opposition leaders] Tzipi Livni. The argument… is that Livni has become a “mentor” of sorts to Greenblatt… The (much more boring) reality: Greenblatt and Livni have met and spoken with each other but are hardly close. He met Livni for the first time on Friday March 24, when she visited Washington. Two administration sources with direct knowledge of the encounter said Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer also attended the meeting. Livni then joined Greenblatt for Shabbat dinner. Two days later Greenblatt met with Naftali Bennett, who leads Israel’s right-wing Jewish Home party, and on May 9 he had his second and final meeting with Livni. Dermer and the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman both attended that second meeting.” [Axios]

“Have two ministers annexed Area C of the West Bank?” by Tovah Lazaroff: “Two ministers have discovered a loophole to apply the bulk of new Israeli laws to Area C of the West Bank without formally annexing the region to sovereign Israel. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin have instructed the Ministerial Legislative Committee to only debate government-sponsored bills that provide an option for residents of Judea and Samaria… The new measure, effective immediately, could be through legislation, military edicts or other provisions, said Shaked.” [JPost]

INBOX — Ron Lauder’s World Jewish Congress strongly supports the Taylor Force Act… “These bills will condition U.S. foreign assistance to the PA on its public condemnation of terrorism, it’s taking credible steps to investigate, punish and end acts of terror, and its terminating of payments to terrorists and their families. We applaud these leaders and all the co-sponsors for introducing and supporting these bills and urge all the members of the House and Senate, on both sides of the aisle, to pass them. Combating terrorism is not a partisan issue. We hope all the Senators and Representatives will support and pass the Taylor Force Act.”

ON THE HILL — Increasing Dem Support for Disapproving Saudi Arms Sale — by Aaron Magid: Senate Democrats are expressing growing concern over the Saudi Arabia arms agreement before today’s expected vote of disapproval introduced by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Al Franken (D-MN). Speaking from the Senate Subway yesterday, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told Jewish Insider, that he will be joining Murphy and Paul in disapproval of the agreement. “I believe that the sale of those weapons will simply prolong humanitarian crisis rather than resolve it,” he said. Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) also announced his support: “I have not been able to get satisfactory explanations from our administration in how they are monitoring the human rights issues in regards to the Saudis as well as their long term plans in arming the Middle East. This is part of a long range of arms sale,” Cardin told Jewish Insider. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) noted that he is “inclined to support” the resolution.

— On the Republican side, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), passionate advocates for human rights in the Middle East, explained why they would not support the resolution of disapproval. According to McCain, in order to fight Iran’s aggression, “I believe the best way to bring about progress is to continue the pressure that I have been exerting upon them for years.” Rubio stressed, “I hope it will be carefully monitored… I have a huge problem with Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. But, the pragmatism of the region is one of the considerations.” [JewishInsider]

Cardin Expresses Skepticism Over House Bill Targeting Qatar for Hamas Support — by Aaron Magid: Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) expressed concern over a bipartisan House legislation that would sanction Qatar for its ongoing financial support of Hamas. Cardin told Jewish Insider that there are numerous countries who are “strategic partners of ours that are doing things that we don’t like.” If Congress were to pass legislation sanctioning Qatar as the House bill proposes, Cardin explained, “I would be concerned about our policies as it relates to our strategic partners in the Gulf.” [JewishInsider]

MIDDLE EAST DIPLOMACY: “Trump Has Busy Day in Vortex of Middle East Relations” by David Sanger, Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt: “Rarely has the Trump administration spoken of Iran other than to condemn it as the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism and an aspiring nuclear weapons state. So when the White House woke on Wednesday to images of a possible Islamic State attack on Tehran, it prompted a sharp quandary: How does President Trump condemn the violence without seeming to embrace the victims? Several administration officials said it took most of the day for the White House to work out the terse, curt wording of a statement that sought to show sympathy for the Iranian public even as it pointedly suggested that the behavior of Tehran’s clerical leaders made its people a target… Mr. Trump wrote. “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.” [NYTimes]

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif responded: “Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship.” [Twitter]

IRAN SANCTIONS — “Russia sanctions talks leave Iran bill hanging in the balance” by Elana Schor: “Any failure to reach agreement on a Russia sanctions vote could cause trouble for the Iran sanctions bill to which it may get attached. [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer warned Wednesday that without a deal to vote on punishing Russia, Democrats would find it “very difficult” to cast a vote on passage of the Iran bill, which some in their party wanted to delay in the wake of Wednesday terrorist attacks against Tehran… “We feel strongly that we need a tough, effective package of Russia sanctions to move alongside the Iran sanctions,” Schumer said on the floor Wednesday.” [Politico; USAToday

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the Senate floor: “I have serious concerns about the sanctions on Iran contained in this bill. As we have heard from former Obama administration officials including Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Sherman, these measures could undermine the JCPOA, the very important nuclear agreement signed in 2015. Let us be aware that earlier today the people of Iran suffered a horrific terror attack in which 12 people were killed. The Islamic State has claimed credit for this attack. At a time when tensions are extremely high in that part of the world, our goal must be to find ways to bring people together to reduce tensions rather than to exacerbate this very painful and dangerous situation.” [YouTube] • Sanders, Feinstein call for delay in Iran sanctions vote after Tehran attack [Politico]

On Capitol Hill this morning, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) sponsored a Congressional briefing titled: “50 years of Occupation & Life for Palestinian Children.” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at the Human Rights Watch, and Nadia Ben-Youssef, Director of the Adalah Justice Project, were two of the invited speakers. Senior Foreign Policy advisor for Bernie Sanders, Matthew Duss, was also spotted among the packed crowd. The event is also sponsored by Defense for Children International-Palestine and American Friends Service Committee. Pocan has recently circulated a letter, also sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), calling for the dropping of all Israeli charges against a Palestinian named Issa Amro. [Pic]
SCENE YESTERDAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ambassador Ron Dermer, Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, House Speaker Paul Ryan addressed Israel’s control of an undivided Jerusalem during a first-ever bi-country event to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. The event was broadcast live from the Knesset and Capitol Hill, simultaneously, along with watch parties in all 50 states. Ambassador Dermer thanked the Senate for passing a resolution that recognizes the 3 millennia Jewish presence in Jerusalem and reaffirms the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

In his speech, Knesset Speaker Edelstein said, “For the sake of Jerusalem, let us not remain silent. Let us promise that support for unified Jerusalem remains high on both sides of the aisle, across the political spectrum, and throughout the United States… I therefore call upon the Administration – follow the lead set by the House and Senate. Recognize Jerusalem as the official and unquestioned capital of the State of Israel. Bring your embassy to our capital.” PM Netanyahu did not directly address the administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Instead, he spoke about life in Jerusalem before the 1967 Six Day War. He also reiterated, “America has no better friend than Israel, and Israel surely has no better friend than the United States of America.” [YouTube

Spotted at the Capitol Hill event: Sheldon Adelson, Senator Lindsey Graham, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Pastor John Hagee, Sandy Hagee Parker, Ralph Reed, Richard Sandler, David Harris, Richard Sandler, Jerry Silverman, William Daroff, Nathan Diament, Josh Block, Mike Makovsky, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Matt Brooks, Steve Rabinowitz, Brian Shankman, Elliot Brandt, Eddy Acevedo.

ACROSS THE POND: “Britain’s largest pro-Israel event this year is scrapped amid fears of another London terror attack” by Scott Campbell: “Britain’s largest pro-Israel event this year has been scrapped amid fears of another London terror attack. Organisers had sold 1,000 tickets for A Night to Honour Israel which sees Christians and Jews come together each year for a night of celebration and music. But they have been forced to cancel the event on the orders of security experts in both the US and UK in the wake of this week’s terror attack on London Bridge and last month’s Manchester bombing… But a pro-Palestinian event organised by the Friends of Al-Aqsa is still set to go ahead at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster next month.” [DailyMail

UK ELECTION DAY: “Labour-supporting banner showing Theresa May wearing Star of David earrings removed after complaints of anti-Semitism” by Natasha Clark: “Labour supporters have been forced to take down a giant banner showing Theresa May wearing Star of David earrings – after it was slammed as being anti-Semitic… The banners were unveiled yesterday – but have already been taken down… Local Labour candidate Thangham Debbonaire, who is seeking re-election in Bristol West, denounced the banner and said anti-Semitism had no place in the party. She said in a statement on Facebook: “There is no excuse for this. It is anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in our party and I will not tolerate it.”” [TheSun] • Jewish Conservatives expected to sweep their constituencies in UK general elections [ToI]

** 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: Paul Singer Says System May Be More Leveraged Than 2008 [Bloomberg] • George Soros confident he’ll ‘prevail’ against detractors [WashPost] The Fishman Debt: Is Israel’s Bank Hapoalim Playing Tough or Playing for Time? [Haaretz] • How was Israeli ‘tycoon’ allowed to rack up $1.13b debt to the banks? One word, say critics: Corruption [ToI] • China Defends Arrest of Men Investigating Ivanka Trump’s Shoe Supplier [Time] • The Real Estate Start-Up Jared Kushner Co-Founded Is Now Worth $800 Million [VanityFair] • Crescent Heights lists development site on Alton Road for $9M [TRD] • Douglas Development pitches hotel in Mount Vernon Triangle [Bizjournals] • Ari Horowitz — who is the executive chairman of the String app, a local discovery app — lists penthouse for $30,000/month [NYPost] • WeWork has acquired venture-backed Fieldlens [TC] • Microsoft agrees to buy U.S.-Israeli cyber firm Hexadite [Reuters]

“Who did President Trump bring onstage during his Cincinnati speech?” by James Leggate“President Donald Trump interrupted his speech at Rivertowne Marina Wednesday to invite a pair of New York City real estate developers onstage. Steven Roth of Vornado Realty Trust and Richard LeFrak will have a role as advisors in Trump’s infrastructure plan… “These are great builders, and we’re watching and they’re looking over our shoulders,” Trump said… Roth has partnered on projects with Trump, co-owning a pair of properties worth hundreds-of-millions of dollars. Vornado also has invested in a real estate project with the business owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. LeFrak is a longtime friend of Trump and a member at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.” [WCPO]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “This Email Startup Wants You To Go Shopping In Your Inbox” by Pavithra Mohan: “An eBay newsletter that employs RebelMail’s technology, for example, allows subscribers to take quizzes within the body of the email, while Home Depot customers can now fill out reviews for products they’ve purchased without leaving their email—a change that Rebel founder Joe Teplow says has nearly doubled the number of reviews submitted. In terms of e-commerce, RebelMail also offered the ability to “add to cart.” Teplow cited the example of an Old Navy email that would let customers view photos of a product, choose the desired color and size, and then add the item to their shopping bag… But one of the biggest challenges, according to Teplow, is convincing email marketers… that keeping people in an email for longer, without necessarily encouraging them to click through, is a good idea.” [FastCompanyTC]

HOLLYWOOD: “Israel’s TV Producers Become Heavy Hitters in Exporting Shows” by Ethan Bronner: “Fauda illustrates the transformation of Israeli television from a purveyor of treacly drama and embarrassing slapstick into a high-octane content machine. In the past few years, networks worldwide have picked up dozens of series that originated in Israel—Homeland and In Treatment among them—placing the country of 8 million among the world’s top producers of shows. “Israel is up there with the best,” says Walter Iuzzolino, who runs a British streaming service of foreign shows called Walter Presents. “Their stuff is emotionally poignant, three-dimensional, and never boring.” [Bloomberg]

“How the Jewish identity of ‘Wonder Woman’s’ star is causing a stir” by Sarah Pulliam: Bailey: “[Gal] Gadot’s identity has been noted across Jewish media, including the Jewish Journal, which examined the Jewish essence of her character. “It isn’t just a triumph for women that the new savior of the world is female; it is a triumph for the Jews,” Danielle Berrin wrote… People will politicize anything connected to Israel, said Deborah Lauter, Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice president of policy and programs, but the timing of the film comes during the anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War, which tripled the land under Israeli control. “Anti-Semites will exploit a current event like this,” she said. “They latch onto the popular trend and try to gain legitimacy by talking about it.” … “Wonder Woman” resurfaced debates over Jews and intersectionality, said Yair Rosenberg, senior writer for Tablet Magazine. Jews have been the only white people white supremacists target, but Jews are seen as white privileged and part of the problem, he said. “Everyone who has preconceived views about Israelis will project them onto the film,” he said. “People will use this to hang their hat on certain issues.”” [WashPost]

DESSERT: Which Ice Cream Brand Is Big, Gay — And Defiantly Kosher?” by Michelle Honig: “Kosher ice cream lovers have a lot to celebrate this Pride month, specifically in the form of a pint of Big Gay Ice Cream. That’s because when the ice cream truck-turned-brick-and-mortar shop decided to package its popular soft serve to be sold nationally, it sought and received kosher certification. The pints… are officially under the auspices of the kashrut division of… the OU.” [Forward]

“This Muslim-owned Jewish deli is one of Brooklyn’s best-kept (open) secrets” by Yaakov Schwartz: “Just out of reach of a halo of boutique doughnut shops and yuppie-centric taco stands is David’s Brisket House – sandwiched, as it were, between the gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy… The restaurant’s name itself is somewhat of a misnomer: For one thing, it’s not owned by a David, and the brisket itself, while good, is nothing to write home about. In fact, the deli belongs to Riyadh Gazali, a Yemeni Muslim, and it’s the corned beef and pastrami that are the stars — arguably as good as New York’s famous deli meccas, Katz’s or Ben’s… But while the closet-sized restaurant continues to pump out the Jewish classics as it has for decades, the once-kosher meat is now hallal.” [ToI]

BIRTHDAYS: Businesswoman, friend of Ivanka and Jared, art collector and editor, married to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Dasha Zhukova turns 36… South African businessman and philanthropist, formerly the Chairman of De Beers, Nicky Oppenheimer turns 72… Denver-based chief marketing officer at Layer3 TV, previously the head of social media at United Talent Agency, Eric J. Kuhn turns 30… Offensive tackle for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, Hebrew name “Mendel,” Mitchell Schwartz turns 28… Comedian and actor, originally of the comedy team of Stiller and Meara, later of both Seinfeld and King of Queens, Jerry Stiller turns 90… Hebrew University mathematics professor and Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Aumann turns 87… Long-time Republican member of the Ohio State Senate (1967-1996), the last 7 years of which he served as Senate President, Stanley J. Aronoff turns 85… Founder of the Family Dollar Stores chain of discount stores in 1959, he remained chairman and CEO until 2003, Leon Levine turns 80… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil turns 75…

Hedge fund founder and manager, founder of the Paloma Funds and New China Capital Management, board member of Carnegie Hall, Selwyn Donald Sussman turns 71… Detective novelist, best known for creating the character of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky turns 70… The Juilliard School’s classical pianist, teacher and performer, Emanuel Ax (child of Holocaust survivors) turns 68… Community affairs coordinator at UCLA’s Leve Center for Jewish Studies, awarded a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from USC, Mary Enid Pinkerson turns 66… Member of Knesset since 2015 from the Zionist Union party, professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yona turns 64… Journalist, stand-up comedian, author, cartoonist, blogger and occasional commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Aaron Freeman turns 61… Assistant Vice President for Campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazin turns 56…

Moscow-born, living in the US since 1976, a major figure in the Russian energy sector, lead director of UK-based L1 Energy, co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets turns 54… Winner of many Emmy and SAG awards, star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies turns 51… Actor and screenwriter, married to the sister of baseball executive Theo Epstein, Daniel Paul “Dan” Futterman turns 50… Former Congresswoman, survivor of an assassination attempt near Tucson in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords turns 47… Actor, starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” Mark Feuerstein turns 46… Deputy Chief of Staff for Charlie Baker, the Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli turns 38… Rabbinic fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Jewish Emergent Network at DC’s historic Sixth & I Synagogue, Suzy Stone turns 37… Michael Fishberg

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: Nikki ‘Hurricane’ Haley lands in Israel | Congress on Qatar’s Hamas ties | ‘Israel’s astonishing ’67 concession’ | Lester Crown BDay

Have our people email your people. Share this sign up link with your friends 

TOP QUOTE — David Brooks writing in the NYTimes: “A ridiculously disproportionate percentage of the Giving Pledge philanthropists are Jewish.” [NYTimes]

–Rabbi David Wolpe adds: “Judaism teaches giving. No better system has ever been devised to produce generosity.” [Facebook]

HAPPENING TODAY ON THE HILL: At 2PM EDT, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein are co-hosting a bi-country simultaneous event to honor the 50th anniversary to the reunification of Jerusalem with live video between the U.S. Capitol and the Knesset. The event — organized by Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer — will also feature remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. [LiveStream]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), led by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, held their annual Lamplighter Awards dinner at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in DC. Honorees included House Speaker Paul Ryan, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, and former DC Mayor Anthony Williams. One notable bipartisan highlight of the evening featured Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer introducing Speaker Ryan. Hoyer thanked Ryan for his service and leadership to the country and noted that both he and the Speaker are ‘institutionalists’ who respect the traditions and decorum of the Congress. Ryan returned the compliment explaining that “among both Republicans and Democrats, Steny Hoyer’s word is gold.”

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer also delivered remarks focusing on the change in US policy towards Iran and at the UN. “Those UN votes against us are a product of the past. Any remaining votes are like the Japanese soldier in WWII stranded on an island in the Philippines who wasn’t told the war was over… Although you don’t read about it everyday in the mainstream press, Israel is less isolated than it has ever been. The critical thing we needed was a tailwind from the US and now we have that in the form of Hurricane Haley, along with Hurricane Trump.”

SPOTTED: UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN), Rhoda Dermer, Howard Friedman, Dov Zakheim, Nancy Jacobson, Lisa Spies, Charlie Spies, Nick Muzin, Tevi Troy, Kami Troy, William Daroff, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, Ezra Friedlander, Daniel Mariaschin, Dan Glickman, Michael Landau, Jonny Fluger, Jeanie Milbauer, Bill Knapp, Robbie Greenblum, Michael Herson, Jeff Mendelsohn, Manette Mayberg, Tom Kahn, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Elin Suleymanov, Bulgarian Ambassador Tihomir Stoytchev, Eddie Sugar, Jeremy Furchtgott, Harris Vederman, Ariana Kaufman, Jennie Shulkin, Asher Perez.

ALSO LAST NIGHT, “Vice President Mike Pence headlined a fundraising effort Tuesday to build a war chest to protect Republican House members as both parties gird for the midterm election next year. The event attended by Pence and House leaders honored Las Vegas residents Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, GOP mega-donors to the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Tuesday NRCC fundraising dinner at the Willard InterContinental Washington hotel requested a contribution of $35,000 per couple.” [ReviewJournal]

PRESIDENT-IN-LAW: “Trump Jokes Jared Kushner Is ‘More Famous Than Me’” by Vivian Salama: “The last person President Donald Trump joked was becoming more famous than him was James Comey. Months later, he abruptly fired the FBI director… So when Trump threw out the same joke Tuesday about his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the Twitter universe questioned whether it was an omen. Trump hosted the Senate and House Republican leadership at the White House… While thanking participants for their efforts to advance Trump’s political agenda, he stopped at Kushner, who this week, is featured on the cover of Time. “Jared has actually become more famous than me,” Trump said, prompting laughter from the group and a grin from Kushner. “I’m a little bit upset about that.”” [AP]

From WH pool report: “Rep. Steve Scalise turned to Kushner and said ‘that’s a badge of honor’ as Kushner smiled and kept his hands clasped in front of him.”

“Jared Kushner’s family is a legend in this Belarus town” by Cnaan Liphshiz: 
“Of course I am very proud that there is someone from Novogrudok in the White House,” said Boris Semyonov, a 57-year-old businessman, when asked about the subject last week… “I am waiting for him to visit us.” … “The Kushners were a well-off family that, before the war, owned several shops in the center, was known to many people here,” said Marina Yarashuk, director of the Museum of History and Regional Studies in Novogrudok… “Around here, the Kushners are a big deal, with or without Trump.” [JTA

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — “US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis” by Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz: “US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies… The Qatari government has said a May 23 news report on its Qatar News Agency attributed false remarks to the nation’s ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether President Donald Trump would last in office. Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told CNN the FBI has confirmed the hack and the planting of fake news… On Tuesday, Trump tweeted criticism of Qatar that mirrors that of the Saudis and others in the region who have long objected to Qatar’s foreign policy… Hours after Trump’s tweets, the US State Department said Qatar had made progress on stemming the funding of terrorists but that there was more work to be done.” [CNN]

“Trump Joins the Campaign Against Qatar” by Blake Hounshell: “During the president’s recent meeting in Saudi Arabia with Sheikh Tamim [bin Hamad Al Thani], Trump was publicly effusive in his praise of Qatar. “We’ve been friends for a long time,” he said during a pool spray, “and our relationship is extremely good.” But privately, I’m told, he complained about Qatar’s support for Hamas. It’s not clear how Sheikh Tamim responded, but one person familiar with the conversation said it was not nearly as friendly as Trump’s other encounters with Gulf leaders. Another person briefed on the meeting said the Qataris were puzzled by the exchange, and asked if there were anything specific they could do to be more helpful.” [Politico]

REACTIONS ON THE HILL — by Aaron Magid: Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) told Jewish Insider, “Anybody that supports Hamas is supporting a terrorist organization and we need to take decisive steps to address that. It’s part of the discussion to let them know that this is unacceptable and that we want them to be a peaceful ally in the region and work with their neighbors and us.”

Striking a similar tone, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) called Qatar’s backing of the Palestinian terror group “outrageous.” The Tennessee lawmaker added, “We need to reevaluate our relationship with any nation that is engaging in state sponsoring of terrorism.”

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD): “Qatar is trying to play all sides of the game here and they may have been caught finally. But, we got to be careful because the US has some important assets there that assist us in the fight against terror.”

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) contended that the President’s public attack of Doha was unhelpful to America’s national interests. “To not recognize the fact that we have 10,000 American troops based in Doha and he didn’t actually factor that before he shuoted out his opinion from his Twitter account is fairly disturbing. We should do it through diplomatic channels and official channels instead of using Twitter.”

In contrast, Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) emphasized that President Trump, like all US citizens has a right to his opinion and found no problem with his Twitter criticism. Calling Qatar’s support of Hamas “super problematic,” the Texas lawmaker noted, “George Bush said it after 9/11: no matter whether you house terrorists or a hotbed for terrorists, we are coming after you.” Full report here [JewishInsider]

“Why the Saudi-Qatar rift could actually be about … Israel” by Jake Novak: “In the days leading up to the announcement of the Saudi-Qatari diplomatic freeze, reports began surfacing in the Israeli and Arab press that Riyadh was pushing Qatar to end its relationship with Hamas. And the Saudis are well aware that if Qatar cuts off Hamas, Hamas probably wouldn’t survive. Qatar’s refusal to do so immediately may have been the last straw for the Saudis who have been emboldened to at least appear to step up their anti-terror efforts after President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh last month.” [CNBC]

Ben Rhodes‏ surfaces to tweet: “Given how Trump is going, including full embrace of Saudi worldview, very real and dangerous risk of escalation with Iran.” [Twitter]

“In Geneva Speeches, Nikki Haley Casts U.S. as Rights Champion” by Nick Cumming-Bruce and Somini Sengupta: “The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, took a swipe on Tuesday at Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, criticized the United Nations for what she called its anti-Israel bias and insisted that the Trump administration would champion human rights… “America does not seek to leave the Human Rights Council,” Ms. Haley said [in a speech at the Graduate Institute of Geneva]. “We seek to re-establish the council’s legitimacy.” Pressed by the audience, she would not commit to staying or leaving.” [NYTimes; WashPost]

KAFE KNESSET — Queen Haley lands in Israel — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Early this morning, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley landed in Israel. Haley was greeted by her Israeli counterpart, Ambassador Danny Danon, who will be accompanying her during most of the visit. Haley’s first meeting was with the Israeli PM Netanyahu, who expressed his deep gratitude for her “standing by Israel and the truth.” The warm embrace of Ambassador Haley was apparent in every meeting she has had in Israel so far. “People appreciate the truth,” Bibi told Haley. “We have an ancient Hebrew saying that when people tell the truth, you can sense it and people feel it. They not only understand it, they feel it. And we feel it.”

Haley told Netanyahu she is thrilled by the reactions. “If there’s anything I have zero tolerance for, it is bullying, and the UN behaved so brutally toward Israel simply because it can. We are starting to see a change. I think they know that they cannot go on responding as they have until now, they feel that the tone has changed.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who also attended the meeting, gave Haley a necklace with a gold pendant of a Menorah symbol which was found in excavations in the City of David. President Rivlin, in Haley’s next meeting, echoed the same warm sentiments. “With your support, we see the beginning of a new era. Israel is no longer alone in the United Nations, Israel is no longer the punching bag of the United Nations,” he told her. Haley then said that she feels “a bit embarrassed because all I do is tell the truth. The UN has been abusing Israel for a long time and we will not let it happen anymore.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert in her first on-camera press briefing: “Middle East peace is something that’s very important to this administration. The President and the Secretary have both said they recognize that it will not be easy, that both sides will be forced to compromise. The President has made this one of his top priorities, and we are willing to work with both of those entities to try to get them to come together and make some – and to finally bring about Middle East peace.” [CSPAN]

“Obama’s Detailed Plans for Mideast Peace Revealed – and How Everything Fell Apart” by Amir Tibon: “This is perhaps the most dramatic part of the document, stating that “the new secure and recognized international borders between Israel and Palestine will be negotiated based on the 1967 lines with mutually-agreed swaps whose size and location will be negotiated, so that Palestine will have viable territory corresponding in size to the territory controlled by Egypt and Jordan before June 4, 1967, with territorial contiguity in the West Bank…” Many U.S. and Israeli officials told Haaretz that Netanyahu was aware that this paragraph, which effectively means Israeli acceptance of the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations, would appear in Kerry’s framework. According to these sources, Netanyahu was willing to enter final-status negotiations based on these words. But he had one reservation, which is indeed mentioned in the U.S. document: He wanted to avoid direct usage of the words “territorial contiguity.” [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Trump, furious and frustrated, gears up to ‘punch back’ at Comey testimony” by Robert Costa, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker: “Alone in the White House in recent days, President Trump — frustrated and defiant — has been spoiling for a fight, according to his confidants and associates… Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor and criminal law expert whose television commentary on the Russia probe has caught the Trump team’s attention, said he understands why the president would be motivated to speak out to counter [James] Comey’s testimony. “Every lawyer would tell the president not to tweet, not to react,” Dershowitz said. “But he’s not listening. This is typical. I tell my clients all the time not to talk and they simply disregard it. It’d very hard to tell a very wealthy, very powerful man not to tweet. He thinks, ‘I tweeted my way to the presidency,’ and he’s determined to tweet.”” [WashPost]  

Famed Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz: There are people in the White House ‘trying everything to try and get him to stop tweeting’ [BusinessInsider]

PROFILE: “Marc Kasowitz, ‘Toughest of the Tough Guys,’ Stands Beside Trump” by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Starting in 2006, [Marc E.] Kasowitz’s firm spent years going after the hedge fund managers Steven A. Cohen, Dan Loeb and James S. Chanos on behalf of Fairfax Financial Holdings, claiming they had engaged in a “bear raid” to drive down the company’s stock. The case, after 11 years of back and forth, which judges described as “grappling with a lion’s fearsome hide,” was dismissed… In a separate drama, Mr. Kasowitz has played on both sides of Wall Street’s biggest fighter: Carl C. Icahn. In the 1990s, Mr. Kasowitz worked for Bennett S. LeBow, who owned Liggett Group, one of the big-five tobacco companies. Mr. LeBow and Mr. Icahn, working with Mr. Kasowitz, tried, unsuccessfully, to take over RJR Nabisco… Years later, Mr. Kasowitz’s firm was on the other side of Mr. Icahn in a dispute over casinos. The client? Mr. Trump, along with his daughter Ivanka.” [NYTimes

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH — “Handel, Ossoff clash in Georgia special election debate” by Elena Schneider:“[Republican Karen] Handel also attacked [Jon] Ossoff for his support of the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal, calling Iran “one of the biggest threats.” When pressed on striking a nuclearized Iran, Ossoff said that with military force, “there are complexities involved that a hypothetical cannot fully encompass,” but if Iran poses an imminent threat, “then we should use force to prevent them from striking our allies.”” [Politico

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools [NYTimes] • Steve Ballmer Says Tech Firms Should Be as Accountable as NBA Teams [Backchannel]Silverstein’s Tal Kerret on the future of Downtown’s retail and office markets [TRD] • ASRR Capital teams up with Israeli partners to buy Surfside site for $8.8M [TRD] • Developer Klein Enterprises pitches 400-seat restaurant, amphitheater for Broadway Market complex [BizJournals]

SPOTLIGHT: “Cadre collects $65 million in Series C funding” by Connie Loizos: “Cadre, a three-year-old, New York-based real estate startup, has raised $65 million in Series C funding led by Andreessen Horowitz… Ryan Williams, a Goldman Sachs and Blackstone alum, cofounded Cadre along with Joshua Kushner and Jared Kushner… The deal marks the latest in small but growing string of real-estate-related bets for Andreessen Horowitz, whose general partner (and former OpenTable CEO) Jeff Jordan led the deal.” [TC]

’67 ARTICLES: “The Astonishing Israeli Concession of 1967” by Yossi Klein Halevi: “The astonishing, untold story of the battle for Jerusalem was how ill-prepared Israel was for the most mythic battle of its history: The paratroopers’ conquest of East Jerusalem and the Old City, including the two sites holiest to Judaism, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Even more astonishing was the Israeli decision, at the moment of victory, to concede sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. The Jewish people had just returned to its holiest site, from which it had been denied access for centuries, only to effectively yield sovereignty at its moment of triumph. Shortly after the war, Dayan met with officials of the Muslim Wakf, who governed the holy site, and formally returned the Mount to their control.” [TheAtlantic]

“The Arab World Has Never Recovered From the Loss of 1967” by Hisham Melhem: “It may be difficult for the Arabs of today to seriously reflect on the meaning of the defeat they suffered 50 years ago, given their current calamitous predicament. A half-century ago in the free sanctuary of Beirut, Arabs engaged in introspection and self-criticism, seeking to answer the central questions of their political life: What went wrong, and how did we reach this nadir? That unique moment of guarded hope and promise lasted but a few years. Fifty years later, there is no equivalent to Beirut in which to ask the hard questions about why and how the moment of enthusiasm that followed the 2011 Arab uprisings lasted for only a few months before the peaceful protest movements gave way to violence and civil wars. And in the last half-century, the Palestinian movement — along with its numerous Arab allies — has failed to become a transformational force.” [FP]

“The Six-Day War Was a Step Backward for Zionism” by Michael Koplow: “The Zionism that envisions complete Jewish sovereignty between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea does not account for the complication of approximately 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians living in a state of limbo while their own legitimate national aspirations go unfulfilled. It does not account for Israel’s isolation within its own region and its increasingly difficult relationships with democratic European allies. It does not account for the security, economic, and ethical strains that controlling the West Bank places upon the Israeli state and society.” [TheAtlantic] • Seth Mandel: The literary left’s anti-celebration of Jerusalem’s liberation [NYPost

Calls For #BoycottSears Return Over ‘Free Palestine’ Shirts: “Sears is now selling “Free Palestine” t-shirts – and some shoppers are calling for a boycott over the move. The department store’s website features more than a dozen search results for the word “Palestine”, including shirts that read “Free Gaza”, “End Israeli Occupation” and other similar phrases… Perhaps the most controversial item on the site is a shirt that reads “Free Palestine” over an image of the outline of the entire state of Israel. Jewish advocacy group B’nai B’rith issued a statement saying: “We are appalled at Sears jumping into a geo-political issue by selling glib t-shirts that proclaim ‘Free Palestine’ – seriously?” After reports began circulating on social media, the hashtag “#BoycottSears” reemerged Tuesday morning.” [CBSLA]

DESSERT: “A Guide to Israel’s Stunning Beaches” by Eva Fedderly: “Israel is perhaps best known—and deservedly so—for its holy sites, but its standing as a stellar beach destination often goes unsung. With coastline bordering the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, and the Sea of Galilee, and everything from world-class scuba diving to ancient ruins to explore, the beaches of the Land of Milk and Honey have something for every type of sand lover. Here are the must-visit spots for a day (or a few) in the sun.” [VogueMag]

BIRTHDAYS: Chicago and Aspen-based billionaire, reported to own large stakes in General Dynamics, Maytag, Hilton Hotels, Aspen Skiing Co, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Bulls, among many other companies, Lester Crown turns 92… Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence turns 58… Developer of the cardiac defibrillator and other cardiovascular innovations, he also won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in nuclear disarmament, Bernard Lown MD turns 96… Former 5-term Democratic Congressman from California (1983-1993) Mel Levine turns 74… Attorney Advisor in the Office of Inspector General at the US State Department, earned a Ph.D. in political science in 1981 from Yale, Hillel N. Weinberg turns 65… Director of voice, creativity and culture at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Isaac Luria (born Isaac Goldstein) turns 34… Managing editor of The New Yorker, Emily S. Greenhouse turns 31… Actress and model, Emily Ratajkowski turns 26… Andrea Gonzales

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

Sembler supports Liz Cheney

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Liz Cheney announced Tuesday that she will challenge Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi in a Republican primary next year. While the ‘establishment’ rushed to quickly throw their support behind…

Hatzollah rescues NYC Council Intern after 30 min. wait for FDNY ambulance

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A City Council intern who collapsed during a press conference for mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn this afternoon was forced to wait more than 30 minutes before a Hatzollah…

Israel’s Diplomatic Problems

Monday, July 15, 2013

Israel’s Washington, DC, embassy is having a rough day with two news reports detailing two unrelated problems. Apparently the US is ‘outraged’ with Israel after Israel backed out…

Rick Perry to visit Israel

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday that he will visit Israel in October, a move that signals to the political world that he is seriously considering making another…

Dan Senor hosts Congressman Paul Ryan

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The New York Post’s Page Six reports in a post titled ‘Private Ryan party’ that Dan Señor, co-author of Start-Up Nation and former George W. Bush aide who advised Mitt…

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish college wins $10.6 million in public funds

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jarrett Renshaw and Kelly Heyboer report for The Star-Ledger that Beth Medrash Govoha, a 70-year-old, all-male, Orthodox Jewish rabbinical school in Lakewood, was awarded $10.6 million in New Jersey…