Jun
19

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Daily Kickoff: Kushner returns to Middle East as he reconsiders his legal team | Meet the ‘Most Kosher Bacon’ in Congress | Sebastian Junger’s Tribe

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KUSHNER STUDYING ABROAD — “Jared Kushner to Travel to Middle East in Effort to Advance U.S. Peace Efforts” by Carol E. Lee: “Mr. Kushner plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss “their priorities and potential next steps” in the peace process, [a] White House official said. He is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday. Jason Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s top representative on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, plans to arrive in the region two days earlier.”

“The White House official stressed that no major breakthroughs are expected during the trip and said there is no expectation for three-party talks at this time. “It’s important to remember that forging a historic peace agreement will take time, and to the extent that there is progress, there are likely to be many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, sometimes together and sometimes separately, to the region,” the official said, “and possibly many trips by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington, D.C., or other locations as they pursue substantive talks.”” [WSJWashPost

Jason Greenblatt tweets: “Excited to be traveling back to Israel and the Pal. territories to continue the discussion about the possibility of peace.”

Why it matters — Aaron David Miller tells us… “First, that despite reports of special counsel investigation into his business dealings, Kushner is determined to signal he’s alive well and working. Second, Trump had made it unmistakably clear that Kushner’s his guy on this issue from the get go. It’s been six months, time to make his debut. Finally, they may believe that sending Kushner will create a greater sense of seriousness and urgency. But what they’re missing is that it’s not the mediator; it’s the parties who won’t make the key decisions. It’s a good thing they’ve signaled there are no breakthroughs on this trip; because there won’t be any.”

KAFE KNESSET — What Kushner and Greenblatt may see — by Tal Shalev: Kushner and Greenblatt intend to continue to promote the administration’s peace efforts, but they might also get a taste of the brewing – even boiling – political tensions their plans are already creating. For instance, during their stay, Kushner and Greenblatt might pass by a protest tent facing the Prime Minister’s office these days. The head of the Beit El Regional Council, Shai Alon, is intensifying his campaign against Netanyahu, demanding the government live up to its 2012 commitment to build 300 new housing units in the settlement… As part of the campaign, the Beit El Regional Council released a video today, headlined “Netanyahu – the man who lies again and again,” and this afternoon residents are planning a rally, and are expected to be joined by Likud and Jewish Home ministers and MKs, who have embraced their demands. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

JI INTERVIEW — Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE) discussed his decades-long military career, support for Israel and what it’s like being a backer of President Donald Trump’s agenda in Congress during an interview with JI’s Aaron Magid. “I was raised in a home where my dad was very pro-Jewish. He taught me early, ‘Those who bless Israel will be blessed,’ quoting Genesis,” Bacon noted. Adding that during his three decades of military service, while serving in Europe and NATO, he worked with Israeli defense officials on missile defense.

The GOP cornhusker enjoys using his last name for political use.During the campaign, he asserted that “a vote for Bacon will always be a vote against pork.” During the interview, the Nebraska lawmaker pointed out that at AIPAC events, he’s frequently introduced as the “most Kosher bacon anybody’s ever met.”

Bacon on Trump’s Middle East peace push: “All of our presidents come in with this vision that we can broker some major peace deal. I’m not convinced we can with the Palestinians until they recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. As long as they are paying families to commit suicide operations, I just don’t see a reasonable chance of an agreement with them. I would have encouraged Trump not to push down that path because I don’t see a good negotiating partner. I just think until the Palestinians show more earnestness in wanting to have peace, I wouldn’t push Israel to do it.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

AIEF BRINGING DC PARTISANS TOGETHER: “Israel trip calms some D.C. tensions” by Daniel Lippman: “A number of former top Trump campaign officials and prominent Democrats say that their trip last week to Israel helped them dial down the bitter partisanship of current-day Washington. Trump campaign alumni Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, former Obama White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, and Paul Begala were among the participants in the seven-day trip that ended Saturday… The trip was sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation and organized by AIPAC political director Rob Bassin; other trip-goers included Juleanna Glover, Corry Bliss, Trey Nix, Brad Todd and Jeffrey Pollack…”

“The 16 American political and Washington operatives traveled the entire country from the border of Lebanon to the Gaza Strip and also spent time in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, meeting with government officials in the Knesset, entrepreneurs and business leaders. On the trip, “You’re actually on a bus for a couple hours and you’re talking about your career, your job, the company that you work for, the things that you’ve done in your past, your kids. It really made some strong connections,” said J. Toscano. Burton noted the “stark contrast” between all the security challenges that Israel faces and “then you come home and see the abject stupidity in the debate over Shakespeare in the Park in New York City.” [Politico

Spotted hanging in the West Wing — Trump’s Israel Photos: Two pictures from President Trump’s recent visit to Israel are currently hanging in the hallways of the West Wing… One photo is the President inserting a personal note between the monumental stones during his historic visit to the Western Wall. The other photo is of Trump grasping the hand of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a speech on Middle East peace at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Kushner Is Said to Be Reconsidering His Legal Team” by Ben Protess,  Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Sharon LaFraniere: “Some of [Jared] Kushner’s allies have raised questions about the link between his current lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, and Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia… Given the president’s sentiments, he might view any link to Mr. Mueller with suspicion, including Ms. Gorelick’s representation of Mr. Kushner, according to one person who has been contacted about the matter. An official close to the president disputed that, saying Mr. Trump is pleased with Ms. Gorelick’s representation of his son-in-law… People within Mr. Kushner’s circle recently reached out to some courtroom litigators about possibly joining his legal team. Among the lawyers contacted, one person said, was Abbe D. Lowell, a prominent trial lawyer whose previous clients include Jack Abramoff, the powerful Republican lobbyist, in a corruption scandal that shook Washington in 2005. Mr. Lowell is currently defending Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, against federal corruption charges.” [NYTimes]

Blake Hounshell: “Very clear pattern with Kushner stories. See a bad one coming, plant a positive one in a different outlet.” [Twitter]

“In Hamptons House, a Link to Manafort and Jared Kushner’s Dad” by Andrew Martin: “Jared Kushner was a junior at Harvard when an enterprising political operative was drawn into his family’s orbit. His name: Paul Manafort. The Kushners and the Manaforts, it turns out, go way back — at least when it comes to two of New York’s great obsessions: money and real estate. Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, received a mortgage on a 10-bedroom home in the Hamptons on Long Island. The $150,000 loan was made by NorCrown Bank, in Livingston, New Jersey, whose chairman was Kushner’s father, Charles, the patriarch of the family real estate empire and, at the time, a Democratic powerbroker in New Jersey.” [Bloomberg]

“Meet the man managing Trump’s biggest crisis yet” by Eliana Johnson, Josh Dawsey and Josh Gerstein: “Veteran GOP operative Mark Corallo is known for accepting tough crisis-management cases, but even he wasn’t daredevil enough to accept the job an embattled President Donald Trump considered him for last month: White House communications director. Instead, Corallo chose to stay outside the building, becoming the top spokesman for Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz.” [Politico Trump’s tough-talking outside counsel Mark Kasowitz may do him more harm than good[NYDailyNews]

DRIVING THE DAY — Top technology industry leaders are expected to attend the first White House tech summit organized by Jared Kushner’s Office of American Innovation. President Trump will participate in the American Technology Council roundtable in the afternoon.

— “Attendees are expected to include Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Oracle’sSafra Catz, and venture capitalist John Doerr, among others.” [Axios] • For Tech CEOs, Not Attending White House Summit Is Greater Risk [WSJ

ULTIMATE DEAL: “Trade talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia mark a historic first” by Michael Binyon and Gregg Carlstrom: “Saudi Arabia and Israel are in talks to establish economic ties… Arab and American sources said that the links would start small: allowing Israeli businesses to operate in the Gulf, for example, and letting El Al, the national airline, fly over Saudi airspace. However, any such progress would bolster the alliance between Iran’s two most implacable enemies and change the dynamics of the many conflicts destabilising the Middle East.” [SundayTimes

“Palestinian pilgrims to fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia” by Itamar Eichner: “The United States, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel have recently been conducting secret negotiations to coordinate the first flight of Palestinian pilgrims from Ben Gurion airport to Saudi Arabia, with a short layover on the way, probably in Jordan… The Americans initiated the matter as a result of President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel… A senior Israeli source said… the flight would be carried out through a foreign company that is neither Israeli nor Saudi. The Palestinians will be able to make pilgrimages to the holy places in Mecca and Medina. This is the closest to a direct flight that has yet to be offered.” [YNet

“Abbas eyes Merkel as Plan B if Trump fails on Mideast peace” by Uri Savir: “A senior Palestinian minister close to President Mahmoud Abbas told Al-Monitor… “We are showing great flexibility, as directed by President Abbas, on the phrasing of the condition to freeze settlement construction — restraining it to the existing built areas of settlements.” … According to Palestinian sources, a special Abbas envoy visited Riyadh last week, in the midst of the crisis with Qatar, to coordinate positions and the insertion of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative into the negotiation process… Yet, given Trump’s domestic troubles and Netanyahu’s positions, he believes Ramallah must have a fallback position in the diplomatic realm. “Unlike many others in the international community, the Palestinian president has not given up on Donald Trump,” he said. “But should Trump disappoint, like others in the international community, we have decided to opt for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in conjunction with French President Emmanuel Macron, to take the lead in preventing a deadlock in the peace process.”” [Al-Monitor

“Israel Gives Secret Aid to Syrian Rebels” by Rory Jones, Noam Raydan and Suha Ma’ayeh: “The Israeli army is in regular communication with rebel groups and its assistance includes undisclosed payments to commanders that help pay salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons, according to interviews with about half a dozen Syrian fighters. Israel has established a military unit that oversees the support in Syria—a country that it has been in a state of war with for decades—and set aside a specific budget for the aid, said one person familiar with the Israeli operation… Israel’s aim is to keep Iran-backed fighters allied to the Syrian regime, such as the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, away from the 45-mile stretch of border on the divided Golan Heights, the three people said.” [WSJ

2020 WATCH: “How Jason Kander Won by Losing” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “He’s clearly a star and everybody knows it,” said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who campaigned for Kander (when he ran for Senate against Sen. Roy Blunt in 2016) and has continued checking in with him by phone… “He’s the funniest of the candidates that we’ve had since I started doing this.” … And maybe, just maybe, he’s running for president in 2020 anyway. By then, he would only be 39 — seven years younger than Obama was in 2008. When I put this to Kander during our interview, he danced: “Politicians never say never to anything.” Which is what, as I pointed out to him, people who are running for president tend to say… “I’m really focused on making sure we still hold elections right now,” Kander said. “And maybe one day I’ll be in one.”[Politico

** 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: Investors welcome tougher Israeli regulations[CNBC] • Israel to build quantum communications tech lab [ZDNet] • Billionaire John Paulson Joins Valeant’s Board of Directors [Bloomberg] • George Lindemann sells Palm Beach home 21% below asking price [TRD• Dodgers President Stan Kasten understands the task before Jeanie Buss [LATimes]

HEARD IN CANNES: “Ari Emanuel says leaving ICM was his toughest moment” by Claire Atkinson: “Ari Emanuel’s dramatic, Hollywood script-worthy exit from talent agency ICM more than 20 years ago was the mogul’s biggest professional fight, the WME/IMG co-CEO recalled on Sunday. “It was the day we walked out of ICM,” Emanuel admitted Sunday at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, asked to recall his most trying times in a session called “Survival of the Fittest.” “We were sued and we had no money and no clients. It was a bad situation.” Emanuel exited ICM in 1995 to set up a rival new agency and attracted talent agents across the business to launch Endeavor.” [NYPost]

“Sebastian Junger Focuses on Syria” by Alexandra Wolfe: “Mr. Junger grew up in Belmont, Mass., the son of a mother who is a painter and a Jewish physicist father who fled to the U.S. from Europe at the beginning of World War II. He found the wealthy suburb cold and sterile. “It just felt like a bubble,” he says… In his latest book, “Tribe,” he looks at the human need for community. He came up with the idea for the book after wondering why he got depressed when he left Sarajevo for short breaks in the 1990s. He found that soldiers felt the same way when they left the battlefield, as did people who left cancer wards as survivors. They missed the community they had left. “All of a sudden, I got it,” he says. “There’s a theme here.” What people instinctively want, he says, is to belong to small groups with a clear purpose. Too many of us are missing that sense of community and purpose in our increasingly isolated modern lives, he says.” [WSJ]

“He Thought He’d Be Your Rabbi. Now, He’ll Get You a Mortgage” by Ron Lieber: “Perhaps it was preordained that David Frankel would become a mortgage banker… His path to the industry was neither straight nor narrow. In the summers, he left for Jewish sleepaway camp, an experience that helped lead him to rabbinical school in Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York — places where his alma mater, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, had campuses. He graduated, and while the career didn’t stick, many of the texts and values did. As best as he can tell, he is the only ordained rabbi who spends his days helping people get the right home loan… So he thought he might be a camp director or a rabbi at a Hillel, a Jewish organization on college campuses. But as much as he loved text study and translation, he eventually figured out that his outspoken nature and skills were not a perfect match for the rabbinate… Today, he works for a direct lender called Guaranteed Rate.”[NYTimes

“These penthouses are bringing suburbia to the city” by Hana R. Alberts: “Victor had a bar mitzvah here and we had 50 to 60 people,” [architect Andrew] Tesoro added.” [NYPost

WEEKEND WEDDING: Ari Schaffer, a research analyst in the White House communications shop, married Marissa Schwartz, a senior analyst at The Advisory Board Company, yesterday at the Rockleigh Country Club in New Jersey. The two met at Kesher Israel Synagogue in Georgetown. [Pic] h/t Playbook

SPOTTED: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending the wedding of David Keyes, the Prime Minister’s foreign media adviser and spokesperson. [PicInstagramh/t Adam Finkel

BIRTHDAYS: Journalist, academic and political figure, active in the Democratic party, she served as US Ambassador to the Netherlands (1978-1981) in the Carter administration, Geri M. Joseph turns 94… Binnie Stein turns 78… Attorney, investment banker, film producer, deputy mayor of NYC (1982-1985), EVP of Cushman & Wakefield (2004-2010), commissioner of NY / NJ Port Authority since 2013, Kenneth Lipper turns 76… Owner of Pittsburgh-based Wenkert Healthcare Services, after a long career as a territory sales manager for GlaxoSmithKline (1992-2014), Harry E. Wenkert turns 61… President and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson turns 60… Investment advisor and broker at the Sherman Oaks, California office of Morgan Stanley, Inna N. Zalevsky turns 60… Overland Park, KS resident Kathi Shaivitz Rosenberg turns 58… Director of communications for New York State Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz since 2012, Adrienne M. Knoll turns 57… Moscow-born, Russian activist, member of the executive committee of the World Jewish Congress (1991-1996) and EVP of of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (2001-2008), Valery Engel Ph.D. turns 56… Co-founder of Centerview Partners, a boutique investment bank based in NYC, he hosted Barack Obama (2014) and Hillary Clinton (2015) for fundraisers in his Upper East Side Manhattan home, Blair Wayne Effron turns 55… Singer-songwriter, voice actress, dancer, choreographer, actress and television personality, she was a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18, Paula Abdul turns 55… Member of Knesset for the Zionist Union party since 2015, in the 1990s she was a legal advisor to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin turns 47… Founder of JSwipe, a Jewish dating app created in 2014, David Austin Yarus turns 31… Founder and executive director of Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad, which helps Jewish students studying abroad, Alexander Jakubowski turns 25… Jessica Brown

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Jun
16

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Daily Kickoff: How Bennett plans to give Bibi a headache with Washington | Kushner bets on Obamacare in the Trump Era | Inside Israel’s Female Prison

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COMING SOON — FRIDAY NIGHT IN ASPEN: For the second year in a row, Jewish Insider is partnering with OneTable and The Paul E. Singer Foundation to host a Friday night dinner on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival. The dinner, two weeks from today on June 30th, will also feature an upscale Israeli and California wine tasting from our own Yitz Applbaum. The dinner is open to all – whether you’re 25 or 65, we’ve got a seat at the table for you. RSVP Here [OneTable]

STATE VISIT: “Montana, Brown and Staubach give Israeli football huge boost” by Aron Heller: “Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Roger Staubach and Mike Singletary were among the 18 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who arrived for a weeklong visit to the Holy Land to meet some of the 2,000 active players in Israel’s various leagues and to learn about the growth of gridiron in the country. Scores of young players, fans and officials erupted upon the arrival of the delegation, a group donning their signature gold Hall of Fame jackets that included Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter, Dave Casper, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, “Mean” Joe Greene, Willie Lanier, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith and John Stallworth. The mission was organized by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has been sponsoring the sport in Israel since it was launched in 1999.” [ABCNews]

Tzipi Livni tweets: “Met with a delegation of football Hall of Famers led by Robert Kraft. Talked to them about Israel, its challenges & opportunities for peace.” [Twitter

HEARD YESTERDAY — Bipartisan backing builds for Taylor Force Act — by Aaron Magid: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told an audience at the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Leadership Mission to DC yesterday that he “feels so strongly” about the Taylor Force Act. “If the President is unable to get Palestinians to cease these payments, Congress is going to act,” Schumer said. “We must end the practice of Palestinians rewarding those who kill Jews,” announced Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “We are working very hard with our colleague Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who sponsored the Taylor Force Act, to define it in a way that meets that goal but doesn’t undermine in some respects the potential challenges that the state of Israel has.” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) reiterated his enthusiasm for the legislation. “We need to bring it up. We need to vote on it. We need to pass it,” he said.

However, some Democrats expressed skepticism. Senator Jeanne Shaheen(D-NH) emphasized, “I am not sure that it’s in anyone’s interest to cut off assistance to the Palestinian Authority.” Supporting the spirit of the bill, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) was concerned about the potential fallout of a complete cut-off. “To the extent that it is a targeted way to remove financial support for the despicable practice of providing bonuses for the families of suicide bombers or terrorists, I will support that. To the extent that it is overly broad and cuts off all assistance to all Palestinian entities, I don’t think that’s in the security interest of Israel or the Palestinian Authority,” he said. [JewishInsider]

KAFE KNESSET — How Bennett plans to give Bibi a headache with Washington — by Tal Shalev: Against the backdrop of right wing discontent with the limitations placed upon settlement construction, the Jewish Home party is planning another move. This move could eventually turn into a trap for Netanyahu, and put him between his electoral base and the US administration. In two weeks’ time, Naftali Bennett intends to propose a new bill, which will require a special majority of 80 MKs in order to change or amend the Basic law of Jerusalem. This law was originally passed by the Knesset in 1980. The law provides that Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel and states that no portion of the city will be transferred to any foreign entity. The amendment, if passed, would make any possibility of dividing parts of the city and transferring them to Palestinian rule practically impossible, and could also terminate any possibility of holding a referendum on the matter.

The question of Jerusalem is a consensus issue among the coalition parties. Bennett believes that the coalition memebers, even the PM himself, will find it very hard to oppose the bill. Especially since Netanyahu is a signatory on an identical bill from 2007, which was initiated by Likud’s Gideon Saar but failed to advance under Ehud Olmert’s coalition. The Jewish Home party wisely copied Saar’s bill, which was also signed by President Rubi Rivlin, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who were all at the time Likud opposition MKs. However, as the US administration is attempting to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the bill essentially aborts the ability to even discuss the status of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, and could prompt the Palestinians to strong reactions. A senior political source told Kafe Knesset that this bill could turn into “a big political hot potato,” as the US might pressure Netanyahu to lay off while his political base and party will be pushing in the opposite direction.

Bennett told Kafe Knesset today that this is a “strategic move” and that he intends to push the legislation in the current Knesset session. “The Trump era is an opportunity to fortify Jerusalem and to ensure that it is the heart of the Jewish people and, as such, is undividable. This bill is aimed at preventing any future situation in which a specific political constellation could lead to dividing Jerusalem. 50 years ago we united Jerusalem and today we need to promise that it will never be divided again.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog charged that “Bennett with his own hands is destroying the chances for peace and any process. He is not concerned about the fate of Jerusalem, but only wants destruct the prospect of a political settlement which would secure Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Israel’s UN Envoy Urges Likud Officials: Press Netanyahu to Extend My Term” by Barak Ravid: “Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, has recently asked senior aides of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend his term from three to four years, but received a cool, evasive response, Likud officials said… The cabinet’s decision on his appointment stipulates that he will serve three years, until August 2018, with an option of extending the term for a fourth year. Likud officials said Danon had believed until a few weeks ago that elections in Israel would be held earlier than scheduled and planned to end his term as soon as Likud primary elections were announced… When he realized elections will be held only in 2019, he asked to extend his term to enable him to run in the Likud primaries, as a UN ambassador rather than as a private citizen, they said.” [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Special counsel is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings” by Sari Horwitz, Matt Zapotoskyand Adam Entous: “Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election… “We do not know what this report refers to,” said Jamie Gorelick, a lawyer for Kushner. “It would be standard practice for the Special Counsel to examine financial records to look for anything related to Russia. Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about Russia-related matters. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.” [WashPost• Why Is Robert Mueller Probing Jared Kushner’s Finances? [TheAtlantic]

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warns against anonymous sources” by Ryan W. Miller: “Rosenstein told Americans Thursday to be “skeptical” about stories with anonymous sources. “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated,” Rosenstein said in a statement…  Although Rosenstein’s statement Thursday does not mention any specific story, the warning comes the same day as a Washington Post story citing an anonymous source reported that Mueller was investigating the business dealings of the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Many on social media were quick to call Rosenstein’s statement “bizarre” and “unusual.”” [USAToday]

Trump tweets: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” [Twitter]

Leaks against Trump are hurting Israel — by Elliott Abrams: “I don’t know whether the President’s disclosure [to the Russians] infuriated Israelis, but I know that the NYTimes’s unprincipled and irresponsible disclosure damaged not only Israel but our own safety. It helped ISIS… That leak, and the decision of the Times to print the story, endanger Israeli security, and American security. To what end? What is achieved?” [Newsweek

ON THE HILL — The Senate overwhelmingly passed the new Iran sanctions bill targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program by a 98-2 vote. The bill includes new sanctions on Russia and adds new powers for Congress to block President Donald Trump from rolling back any sanctions against the Russian government.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who along with Republican Rand Paul were the only Senators to oppose the sanctions bill, said: “I have voted for sanctions on Iran in the past, and I believe sanctions were an important tool for bringing Iran to the negotiating table,” Sanders said in a statement. “But I believe that these new sanctions could endanger the very important nuclear agreement… That is not a risk worth taking, particularly at a time of heightened tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its allies.”

Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced new bipartisan legislation yesterday to bolster Israel’s efforts to detect, map, and eliminate tunnels used by Hamas. The United States-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act would authorize $47.5 million for the Department of Defense to carry out research, development, testing, and evaluation of anti-tunnel capabilities on a joint basis with Israel. Schneider recently introduced bipartisan legislation that requires the administration to consult with Israel on any future regional arms sales to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge in the region.

“Qatar says fighter jets deal shows deep U.S. support” by Tom Finn: “A $12 billion deal to buy U.S. F-15 fighter jets shows Qatar has deep-rooted support from Washington, a Qatari official said on Thursday, despite President Donald Trump’s repeated accusations that Doha supports terrorism… “This is of course proof that U.S. institutions are with us but we have never doubted that,” a Qatari official in Doha said… In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman said the United States continued to work with Qatar and other governments in the region and the planes deal had been years in the making.” [Reuters]

Why Trump Should Stand Down in the Gulf Crisis — by Dov Zakheim: “Washington should impress upon the Saudis and Emiratis not to humiliate the Qataris to the point where GCC-wide defense cooperation becomes a non-starter. Doha must be allowed to save face…. Similarly it may be asking too much to get Doha to break with Iran; Qatar is not the only Gulf state that does business with the Iranians. Instead, the key is to get Doha to stop supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, and other radical groups, whether directly or indirectly through so-called “private” donations.” [FP

** 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: Israel’s blockchain blockbuster [CNBC] • Swiss entrepreneur seeks Israeli high-tech investments [Globes] • Flush With Cash, Top Quant Funds Stumble [WSJ] • Slack is raising another $500 million — and has attracted interest from a range of big buyers like Amazon [Recode Uber Gaffe Is Latest Drama in Storied Career of Billionaire David Bonderman[WSJ]

“Oscar Health and the Cleveland Clinic will offer co-branded health insurance plans in Ohio” by Lydia Ramsey: “Oscar Health, the $2.7 billion health-insurance startup, is going to start offering health insurance plans alongside the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for the first time.  Oscar was co-founded by Josh Kushner, whose brother Jared is one of President Donald Trump’s senior advisers. The health insurer originally focused on offering insurance through the Obamacare exchanges. The new plans with the Cleveland Clinic, a 96-year-old academic medical center, will also be offered on the exchanges.” [BIWashPost] • A Kushner Bets on Obamacare in the Era of Trump [Bloomberg]

“Meet the Wall Street analyst the big media companies love to hate” by Eric Johnson: “Google BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield… is okay with having haters in Hollywood and much of the big-media landscape… “Nobody ever likes when you criticize what they’re doing,” he said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “I think some companies are far better at handling criticism than others. Every company is welcome to their own way of running their business, but we’re not going to stop doing what we do.” [Recode]

“David Litt became a speechwriter for President Obama at 24—here’s how he found the confidence to do it” by Catherine Clifford: “I was 24 and he was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and it was just a short stop at the airport, so for people who have been writing speeches for a long time this was not a big deal. For me it was the biggest deal that had ever happened ever, obviously,” says Litt. “It was almost surreal. I was watching on the livestream and it was just this very strange thing where you’re like, ‘I had some of these thoughts and now they are leaving the mouth of President United States.’ … The truth about working in the White House is it’s so stressful and high pressure that if you can make it, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re you know the right age or whatever else,” he says.” [CNBC]

ONGOING DEBATE: Rabbi David Wolpe, the Senior Rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, recently set off an impassioned debate encouraging rabbis to keep politics off the pulpit in the Trump era. “You can love Torah and vote for Trump. You can love Torah and think Trump is a blot on the American system,” Rabbi Wolpe wrote in a June 7th Op-Ed for the Jewish Journal. “What you may not do, if you are intellectually honest, is say that the Torah points in only one political direction… I want to know what my rabbi thinks of Jacob and Rachel, not of Pence and Pelosi.”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, responded in an Op-Ed, emphasizing, “The Judaism that I believe in does not limit Torah lessons to the parchment of our Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls), nor to the tables around which we convene for communal Torah study. The Judaism that I live compels me to use those lessons to understand the most urgent challenges we face. And since the beginning of the enlightenment, rabbis of all streams have felt compelled to use the evolving institution of the sermon to bear prophetic witness to pressing societal and communal challenges their congregants faced.”

Rabbi Wolpe wrote a response, reiterating his stance that “using the rabbinate to promote policies is exploiting one form of authority to enforce another.” He added: “As a rabbi, my task is to bless, to teach values and texts and ideas and rituals, to comfort, to cajole, to listen and learn, to grow in spirit along with my congregants, to usher them through the transitions of life, to create a cohesive community, to defend the people and land of Israel, and to reinforce what most matters.” [JewishJournal]

“Whom Have You Brought to Shabbat?” by Daniella J. Greenbaum: “For Jews like [Shai] Schmidt—respectful of tradition but personally unobservant—there are relatively few substitutes (for Shabbat dinner). But Aaron Kaplowitz and Shimon Shmooely hope to change that with a series of dinners called “+1” that they have begun hosting in New York. For the first dinner on March 10, the two 30-somethings invited 18 guests from across the religious, professional and social spectra. These 18 were then asked to invite someone to the next dinner. The pattern will repeat each time, culminating in a fifth and final dinner for 288 attendees later this year… At the first one, billionaire philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, whose foundation provided funds for the first two dinners, spoke about her focus on Jewish continuity and pluralism… At the second dinner, Ambassador Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, fielded questions about his personal political views and the current policies of the government in Jerusalem.” [WSJ

“Inside Israel’s Only Female Prison” by Tom Seymour: “There are just 200 women in prison in the Holy Land. And they’re all in one place – Neve Tirza. Situated in Ramla, not far from Tel Aviv, and first opened in 1968, Neve Tirza is a small, dilapidated and dangerously overcrowded place. The size of most of the cells is 13 square metres, including a toilet and shower. Each cell is home to around six women, who often share their sleeping space, either out of choice or necessity. Israeli photographer Tomer Ifrah was sent to Neve Tirza, back in 2013, to take a portrait of a prisoner for an Israeli magazine. Seeing the potential for a larger project, he found the prison warden’s office, knocked on her door, and negotiated further access. Over repeated visits, Ifrah has now taken more than 500 images from within the prison, as part of the joint Israeli/Palestinian photography project Frames Of Reality. The women in Neve Tirza are not separated by beliefs or ethnicity. Jewish and Muslim women share cells, showers, food and beds, alongside women of all kinds of ethnic and national identities.” [Refinery29]

TRANSITIONS — Global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) announced yesterday the promotions of four members of its investing team. Andrew Schoen has been promoted to Principal. [NEA]

UCLA Jewish history professor hired as Center for Jewish History CEO: David Myers, the Sady and Ludwig Kahn professor of Jewish history at UCLA, has been named CEO and president of the Center for Jewish History in New York City. The museum is a collaborative home for five partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society; American Sephardi Federation; Leo Baeck Institute; Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. [JewishJournal]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — in Los Angeles: Israel’s Consul General just moved into his new digs in Los Angeles, and hosted his first event: a Muslim iftar, or break fast meal. “Thank you for helping us open up our home for the first time,” said Consul General Sam Grundwerg. “I think it’s really making a statement.” Grundwerg welcomed about 50 guests to hear a panel discussion on tolerance and Muslim-Jewish relations with basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabar, music impresario Russell Simmons, Mohammed Khan, Director of Interfaith Outreach at King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, and New York Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Following the discussion, the Muslim guests broke the day-long Ramadan fast with dates and juice as consular officials and Grundwerg’s wife Julia cleared chairs and laid down a large rug.  About a dozen of the Muslim guests then held a prayer service in the consul’s living room. All the guests then joined for a kosher buffet meal in the backyard. SPOTTED: Richard Sandler, Chairman of Jewish Federations of North America; City Councilman Paul Koretz, Homeland and 24 actor Navid Negahban; Mayor Ali Sajjad Taj of Artesia, Howard Rosenman, Jonathan Baruch, Simi Teitlebaum, Imam Jihad Saafir, Rabbi Naomi Levy, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Soraya Deen, founder of the Muslim Women’s Speaker’s Movement, David Suissa and Rob Eshman of TRIBE Media.[Video]

SIGHTING — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is back in New York: Last night, he attended an event for United Hatzalah of Israel at the home of Art and Adina Gerber in Lawrence, New York. [Pic]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Diplomat and attorney, 1965 President of the Harvard Law Review, Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs in the Carter administration, now a UN Special Representative, Matthew Nimetz turns 78… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin, George Akerlof turns 77… Elected in 2015 as a member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi turns 67… Commissioner and then Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (2004-2013), now a partner at the law firm of Davis Polk, Jonathan David (“Jon”) Leibowitz turns 59… Fashion designer, daughter of Reva Schapira,Tory Burch turns 51… Manhattan-born to a rabbinic family, made aliyah in 1993, active in interfaith peace initiatives, Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen (born Genack) turns 50… Principal in the Chicago office of Civitas Public Affairs Group, David Elliot Horwich turns 41… VP for the Economic Program at Third Way, Gabriel Aron (“Gabe”) Horwitz turns 41… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, David Eric Feinman turns 38… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, NJ, he is also a a licensed psychotherapist and outreach coordinator for Project SARAH, a domestic violence prevention program, Rabbi Michael Bleicherturns 33… College basketball and college football reporter at USA Today, Nicole Auerbach turns 28… Member of the United States Ski Team’s alpine skiing program, Jared Goldberg turns 26… Shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and the qualifier round in 2016, Scott Burcham turns 24… Editor-in-Chief for the international news channel i24News bureau in Washington, Mounira Al Hmoud… Menora Levitsky… Michael Warner… Michael Freund

SATURDAY: Assistant to the President for Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives in the Trump administration, Reed Cordish turns 43… Talent manager and music business mogul, he owns two record labels and represents musical artists including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, Scott Samuel “Scooter” Braun turns 36… Chicago-based attorney, author of a treatise on real estate law, he served as an Alderman on the Chicago City Council (1975-1979), Solomon Gutstein turns 83… Lake Worth, Florida resident, Shlomo Nezer turns 70… Croatian entrepreneur, previously the Minister of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship in the Croatian Government (1995-1997), Davor Stern turns 70… Rabbi at Temple Isaiah and the JCC in Palm Springs, CA, previously in congregations in Israel and Stockholm, Rabbi David James Lazar turns 60… Executive of the William Pears Group, a large UK real estate firm founded by his father and grandfather,Trevor Steven Pears (family name was Schleicher) turns 53… Baseball pitcher, a first round pick of the NY Yankees in 2008, he pitched for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and during the qualifier round in 2016, Jeremy Bleich turns 30… Esther Lifshitz… Jeffrey H. Gardyn, DDS… Rachel Hazan

SUNDAY: Journalist, academic and political figure, active in the Democratic party, she served as US Ambassador to the Netherlands (1978-1981in the Carter administration, Geri M. Joseph turns 94… Binnie Stein turns 78… Attorney, investment banker, film producer, deputy mayor of NYC (1982-1985), EVP of Cushman & Wakefield (2004-2010), commissioner of NY / NJ Port Authority since 2013, Kenneth Lipper turns 76… Owner of Pittsburgh-based Wenkert Healthcare Services, after a long career as a territory sales manager for GlaxoSmithKline (1992-2014), Harry E. Wenkert turns 61… President and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson turns 60… Investment advisor and broker at the Sherman Oaks, California office of Morgan Stanley, Inna N. Zalevsky turns 60… Overland Park, KS resident Kathi Shaivitz Rosenberg turns 58… Director of communications for New York State Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz since 2012, Adrienne M. Knoll turns 57… Moscow-born, Russian activist, member of the executive committee of the World Jewish Congress (1991-1996) and EVP of of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (2001-2008), Valery Engel Ph.D. turns 56… Co-founder of Centerview Partners, a boutique investment bank based in NYC, he hosted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for fundraisers in his Upper East Side Manhattan home, Blair Wayne Effronturns 55… Singer-songwriter, voice actress, dancer, choreographer, actress and television personality, she was a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18, Paula Abdul turns 55… Member of Knesset for the Zionist Union party since 2015, in the 1990s she was a legal advisor to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin turns 47… Founder of JSwipe, a Jewish dating app created in 2014, David Austin Yarus turns 31… Founder and executive director of Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad, which helps Jewish students studying abroad, Alexander Jakubowski turns 25… Jessica Brown

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Daily Kickoff: Tillerson warns Palestinians: Trump could lose patience | Comcast CEO Brian Roberts preparing for the Maccabiah Games | Vocativ pivots

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HEARD YESTERDAY — Tillerson warns the Palestinians: Trump has a limited window of patience — by Aaron Magid: Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the Palestinians about the consequences of failing to take tangible steps towards peace and continuing payments to families of terrorists. “The President has been very clear with the Palestinian Authority [about the] actions he expects them to take,” said Tillerson. “He has a certain window of patience, a certain window which he will remain engaged and be interested… At some point, he is going to become disinterested. And when we become disinterested, that will certainly alter our level of support.”

Tillerson clarified his comments on Monday that the Palestinians have changed their policy on ‘martyr’ payments: “Those were assurances that were given to me on the most recent trip to Bethlehem. We have had conversations with them and told them they cannot continue these types of payments and expect that the American people to see any explanation for why they do that… We’ve taken the position to the Palestinian Authority in a very unequivocal way: ‘You either take care of this yourself or someone else will take care of it for you.’ … They have indicated that they would… They did say we have to support widows and orphans. I said, ‘Widows and orphans are one thing. Attaching payments as recognition of violence or murders is something the American people could never accept or understand.’”

On moving the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem: “That decision is under evaluation by the President… He has not made that decision to my knowledge.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) asked Tillerson if the State Department would “closely scrutinize” the recent $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and ensure they would not “adversely impact” Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) and oppose the transfer of F-35 aircraft? “We will ensure that all of those sales meet all of our obligations both to Israel and to others,” Tillerson replied. [JewishInsider

LATEST ON THE TAYLOR FORCE ACT — Sen. Bob Corker tells JI’s Aaron Magid: “We’re working on it and getting buy-in from all those interested in this bill.” JI: What is your stance on a complete cut-off of US aid to the Palestinians? Corker: I’m not saying what I oppose or don’t oppose. I’m just saying we are going to have a Taylor Force-like Act passed out of our committee before August recess.”

Sen. Ben Cardin: “I very much support what Senator Graham (R-SC) is attempting to do. I talked to Senator Graham several times about it. I talked to Senator Corker about it. I think we understand the bill may need some adjustments.” JI: Do you continue to oppose a complete cut-off of US aid to the Palestinians? Cardin: “I didn’t say that at all. I never said that.”

“Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Visit Israel Soon to Discuss Renewed Peace Talks, Israeli Official Says” by Barak Ravid, Jack Khoury and Amir Tibon: “A senior Israeli official stated that Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy on the peace process, will come to the region soon to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The official said that the visit may take place next week or right after Ramadan ends June 24.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — Trump, Israelis, Palestinians, and the Settlers — by Tal Shalev: The US special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, is due back in Israel for meetings with the government and the PA next week to continue President Trump’s peace efforts. Kafe Knesset has learned that Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, is expected to meet the PA Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, for the second time within the month in the upcoming weeks… Meanwhile, an old Israeli plan – to expand the Palestinian city of Qalqilya – is creating vocal discontent among the settlers and right wing politicians. The plan includes approval of 14,000 new housing units and is intended to provide a solution for Palestinian natural growth. This is part of the “carrot and stick plan” which was presented by Defense Minister Liberman last August and approved by the cabinet a month later.

Yesterday, MKs Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked issued an ultimatum demanding that the Qalqilya plan be halted unless and until 14,000 Jewish housing units are also approved in West Bank Area C. Bennett and Shaked voted against the “carrot and stick” plan at the cabinet meeting last September and yesterday they said said “it was and remains a reward for terrorism which advances the Palestinian takeover of Area C. Given the very limited scope of construction which was approved for Israeli communities, the Qalqilya plan’s significance increases and must be stopped.”

The Prime Minister’s Office rejected the critics’ claims as “incorrect and even absurd” stressing the plan was already approved last year and that since then more than 10,000 housing units have been approved in the settlements. Liberman slammed Bennett and Shaked’s “very puzzling announcement,” claiming that the current government “is the best for the settlement enterprise” adding that thousands of housing units were approved in the first half of 2017. “We are conducting a balanced policy, with one hand committed to promote and develop Jewish settlements, and the other one responsibly safeguarding our national interests in the international arena.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

GLATT FOR GREENBLATT AT UAE EMBASSY‏: “Thank you Amb. Al Otaiba for inviting me to the Iftar dinner at UAE Embassy & for providing me with kosher food. Ramadan Kareem!” [Pic

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Trump Has ‘Narrow Window’ to Pursue Mideast Peace, Livni Says” by Jonathan Ferziger and Michael Arnold: “Frankly, this is a president that nobody wants to say no to,” [Tzipi Livni] said in an interview… “We have different players and we have President Trump as the choreographer.” … Livni sees an opportunity Netanyahu must seize. “The timetable is very narrow,” she said. “Tomorrow, everything can change.” Given her experience leading peace talks, Livni was among the Israelis consulted by U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt earlier this year in his preparations for Trump’s diplomatic campaign. She declined to discuss their meetings.” [Bloomberg

TOP TALKER: Tillerson suggests State Department may be better off without anti-Semitism envoy post — by Jacob Kornbluh: “One of the questions I’ve asked is, if we’re really going to affect these areas, these special areas, don’t we have to affect it through the delivery on mission at every level at every country? And by having a special envoy, one of my experiences is, mission then says, ‘oh, we’ve got somebody else that does,’ and then they stop doing it,” he said during a hearing at the House Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations subcommittee, according to the JTA’s Ron Kampeas. The Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has ceased operations since April 28.

REACTIONS: Abe Foxman, Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, tells us: “Respectfully that is a lame excuse… This one person had at their disposal the totality of the State Department and the global missions. It made a difference for many Jews under threat who had experienced anti-Semitism. Not renewing this position will send a message that this president and his administration care less or not at all (about fighting anti-Semitism). By the way, the greatest threat of global anti-Semitism today comes from radical jihadist Islam – clearly a serious concern for this administration.” 

Former envoy Ira Forman emails… “I am afraid that the Secretary does not understand how the office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism works. I am confident that if he and his staff actually talk to our Department professionals at our embassies in our regional bureaus and even experts outside of government he will find unanimous support for the Special Envoy’s work.”

Rep. Ted Deutch: “What kind of message does it send to countries and Jewish communities around the world if the United States so easily cuts the office of the leading government envoy sounding the alarm on rising anti-Semitism?” [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump huddled with donors on day of Comey testimony” by Tara Palmeri and Kenneth Vogel: “On the same day last week that fired FBI Director James Comey delivered his damaging Senate testimony, President Donald Trump’s team summoned about a dozen top donors to the White House to rally support for Trump’s agenda. The donors — including Ken Griffin, Doug DeVos, Tom Hicks, Jr., Rebekah Mercer, Todd Ricketts, Tom Saunders, Paul Singer and Dick Uihlein — gathered in the Roosevelt Room on June 8 for a briefing from Trump’s legislative director Marc Short… These people said Trump himself stopped by the briefing to greet the donors, while Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway also spent time at the event.” [Politico]

“Can Jared Kushner’s SWAT Team of Mini-Mes Protect Him in the White House?” by Emily Jane Fox: “The lieutenants on the SWAT team share both his well-heeled pedigree, notable lack of political experience, and, in some cases, unfamiliarity to the Republican Party… In the basement of the West Wing, Reed Cordish, an assistant to the president who has been a lead on both Infrastructure Week and Workforce Development Week, shares an office with his counterpart Chris Liddell… They’re a stairway and a quick walk away from Josh Raffel, the office’s recently-appointed communications officer, who sits across from Avi Berkovitz, a special assistant to the president and Kushner’s assistant, who keeps all the Office of American Innovation’s trains running on time… As a group, they meet most days and break out into smaller groups to convene more often. Sometimes Kushner brings in pizza and beer for them, or invites them for dinner at the Kalorama home he shares with Ivanka Trump.”[VanityFair]  

ON THE HILL: “Senate backs legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia” by Patricia Zengerle: “The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for new sanctions punishing Russia for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election… The vote was 97 to two for the legislation, filed as an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill… The Iran bill, including the Russia sanctions amendment, was expected to pass the Senate on Thursday or later on Wednesday. To take effect, the measure would also have to pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by Trump… The only two “no” votes on the Russia bill were from Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul.” [Reuters]

“Obama’s Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, discusses the Iran deal in an interview about his legacy — by Alexis C. Madrigal: “Our hope, as was President Obama’s hope, was to minimize the role of nuclear weapons over time and certainly to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. With Iran, they have made a very strong commitment to never having a nuclear weapon. So, it is my expectation that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon. If they attempt to go there, it will be known and actions will be taken to, shall we say, discourage that. The Iran agreement stands on its own: If 15 years from now—or whatever is left of 15 years, 13.5 years—we chalk up the score, and say, yup, the [deal] was followed to the letter and now Iran is free to develop its peaceful nuclear program as it chooses, the deal was a success.” [TheAtlantic] • U.S. Accuses Iranian Naval Vessel in ‘Unsafe’ Strait of Hormuz Encounter [WSJ]

Trump visits Scalise in hospital — from the White House pool report: 
“[The] Trumps met with Scalise doctors, including Dr. Ira Rabin, Vice President for Medical Operations… Dr. Rabin was seen accompanying the Trumps to the exit when they left.” [Pic

“Suspect in congressional shooting was Bernie Sanders supporter, strongly anti-Trump” by Jose Pagliery: “On Wednesday, Senator Sanders publicly acknowledged that Hodgkinson had volunteered for his presidential campaign last year, but he denounced the violence as “despicable.”” [CNN]

“Robert Becker, who was the state director for Sanders’ presidential campaign in Iowa, told Yahoo News that Hodgkinson did not make an impression. “Nobody remembers this guy. That doesn’t mean he didn’t come in and knock some doors one Saturday, but he didn’t stand out,” said Becker. “Nobody remembers him.” [YahooNews]

“Eric Cantor praises injured Capitol Police officers who kept him safe” by Scott Wise: “Krystal Griner and David Bailey… the Capitol Police officers shot and injured during Wednesday morning’s attack… were members of former House majority leader Eric Cantor’s security detail…. “I was honored to have them serve in my security detail when I was majority leader. Their acts of bravery and heroism demonstrated this morning during the horrible attack in Alexandria are consistent with the individuals I know who never tired of being on alert no matter the threat,” [Cantor said].” [WTVR

“It feels like America is descending into chaos” by John Podhoretz: “We all know the kindling is there. The baseball-field shooter was a consumer of far-left anti-Republican media; it would only take one consumer of media on the other side to seek to equalize the suffering to ignite a national powder keg. I don’t want to invoke all the clichés of the past decade but you know them all — we’re a divided nation, we’re all living in our own bubbles, we don’t even accept the same facts and we hate each other. The problem is these clichés are largely true.” [NYPost]

“When Prayer Alone Does Not Suffice” by David Frum: “Even as Americans keep the latest victims of a mass shooting in their thoughts, they have an obligation to figure out how to prevent any recurrence… Prayer refreshes the soul and clears the mind. It opens the way to repentance and improvement. But prayer alone does not lift from human beings the duty to do what they have the power to do. And that’s not my personal opinion. It’s also the opinion, emphatically declared, of the God to whom believers in the Bible address their prayers. In the stately words of the King James translation, Isaiah 1:15: ‘And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.’”[TheAtlantic]

SCENE YESTERDAY IN DC: Steve Clemons hosted and moderated a conversation in the library of the Watergate Hotel titled “Watergate 45 Years Ago And Now?,” featuring Atlantic Magazine editor Scott Stossel, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins and Thomas Mallon, author of Watergate: A Novel. The event was co-hosted by the ownersof The Watergate Hotel, Rakel and Jacques Cohen. [Video]

SPOTTED: Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Sally Quinn, Quinn Bradlee, Yael Luttwak, James Barbour, Jed Shein, Annie Groer, David and Danielle Frum, Tomicah Tillemann, Indira Lakshmanan, Allen Abel, Kevin Chaffee, Grover Norquist, Michael Mael, Gary Silversmith, and U.K. Ambassador Kim Darroch. h/t Playbook

IN NYC: The Hudson Institute hosted their annual Board of Trustees reception at the penthouse apartment of Joe and Marlene Ricketts. The event featured a conversation with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley moderated by Hudson CEO Ken Weinstein. SPOTTED: Wally and Betsy Stern, Sarah Stern, Mark Rosenblatt, Paul Singer, Todd Ricketts, Sylvie Legere, Joe and Marlene Ricketts, Barbara Winston, Joel Winton, Annie Dickerson, Joshua Landes, Bryna Landes, Chris DeMuth, Jeffrey Berenson, Ed Cox, Bob Immerman, Larry Leeds, Walter Russell Mead, Lewis Libby, John Walters, Matt Hunter, Brian Blake, Stan and Barbara Atkins, Jeffrey Peek, Gabriel Berger, Jon Lerner, Michael Haley, Cheryl Halpern, Cheryl Fishbein, Margaret Whitehead.

IN LOS ANGELES: The American Friends of Yad Vashem celebrated its “Generation to Generation” 2017 Gala last night before a packed ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The featured honoree was KISS co-founder and singer Gene Simmons, along with his mother Flora Klein. “My name is Chaim Witz,” the legendary singer said in Hebrew when he took the stage, his voice choked with emotion. “I am an Israeli. I am a Jew.”  Simmons, dressed in a dark jacket and wearing his trademark sunglasses and pile of jet black hair, repeated the same phrase in Hungarian, then in German. Then he translated it into English. Simmons accepted the Legacy Award for his mother Flora Klein, who remained home in Long Island. As a 14 year-old girl, Klein was deported to Auschwitz, where she saw her mother, brother and entire extended family killed.  She survived, moved to Haifa, where Simmons was born in 1949. Simmons credited his mother for his drive, toughness and hopefulness. “’Any day above ground is a good day,’ she always says,” said Simmons.

Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson presented Rita Spiegel and the Spiegel Family with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Adelson said it was Rita’s father Abraham Spiegel, who survived Auschwitz with his wife Edita, who inspired him to get involved in Jewish philanthropy. The night’s other honorees were Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff, producers of the movie, Denial. Also in attendance: Consul General of Israel Sam Grundwerg, Leonard Wilf, chairman of ASYV, Gala Chair Karen Sandler, Samara Hutman, Jay Sanderson, Marilyn and Tom Spiegel, Ron Meier, William Bernstein, Jess Dolgin, Jake Farber, Herb Glaser, Paul Stanley, and Jeffrey Glassman.

** 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: Israel’s prime minister: Mediterranean pipeline would be ‘revolution’ [WashPost] • American Dream Deferred: Goldman Delays Pricing of Mall Bonds [Bloomberg] • Altice USA moving HQ from Bethpage to Long Island City [Newsday]  Yellen Deflects Question on Whether She Would Stay on at Fed [Bloomberg] • Ben Lerer’s Group Nine Media says it got 114M social engagements last month [TechCrunch] • Stewart Butterfield’s Slack, the Group-Chat App Everyone Hates to Love, Could Be Worth $9 Billion… And Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos could be a buyer [VanityFair]

SPOTLIGHT: “‘Deep web’ publication lays off 22 in shift to video” by Keith Kelly: “Vocativ, a four-year old web site that billed itself as a company searching for investigative stories from the “deep web,” has laid off 22 staffers — nearly all of its editorial staff — as it shifts gears to a video-only company. Vocativ was founded by Israeli businessman Mati Kochavi, who made a fortune by selling to the Abu Dhabi government closed circuit surveillance cameras produced by Logic Industries, a subsidiary of his AGT International. Early in its life, Vocativ was losing $20 million a year, sources said… Kochavi also developed a close connection with Hollywood super agent Ari Emanuel. Emanuel was frequently spotted in editorial meetings at Vocativ, sources said.” [NYPost] • Flashback to 2013: “Vocativ Brings The Tools Of The Spy World Into The Newsroom” [Forbes]

PEER-TO-PEER: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts talked with David Rubenstein about his love of the game of squash and his experience competing in the Maccabiah games in the latest episode of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations”

Rubenstein: In college you were a squash player and an all-American squash player…

Roberts: “I love the sport and the best players in the world, which I never was close to, are super and superb athletes and as good as any athletes, I think, in any sport. When I got to Penn I got a squash coach and he really drilled into me hard work, winning, strategy, tactics. I went on and played a great run in squash and had a chance to compete internationally after college.”

Rubenstein: So now you compete still at the Maccabiah games. You’ve won the gold medal there and the silver medal, and you are now going to play again there?

Roberts: “My children have both done it. My two daughters and my son said, let’s you and I do it, dad. So we are going to go this summer to Israel and compete one more time. It will be my sixth time. I proposed to my wife on one of the trips. It has had a really significant meaning in my life to be able to compete, represent my country, be a Jewish athlete, and at the same time share my family experiences as we have all played the sport and had a lot of fun with it.”

Rubenstein: “You are now in your 50s. Is it hard to get in shape to play in the Maccabiah games when you are in your 50s?

Roberts: “I was retired for about 10 years and it is very hard – in a short answer – every body part of mine hurts right now from training. But it gives you a purpose. I guess I like goals. It is very similar to Comcast, and you don’t always win, but it is fun to try.” [JewishInsider]

“Israeli author David Grossman wins Man Booker International prize” by Sian Cain: “David Grossman’s “ambitious high-wire act of a novel”, A Horse Walks into a Bar, set around a standup comic’s rambling and confessional routine in an Israeli comedy club, has won the Man Booker International prize for the year’s best fiction in translation. Set in a small Israeli town, the novel is focused entirely on the act of comedian Dovaleh Greenstein. Taking to the stage to needle his audience with vulgar and aggressive jokes, Greenstein’s repellent performance begins to crumble as he reveals a fateful and gruesome decision he once made, which has haunted him ever since… Grossman, a bestselling writer of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books who has been translated into 36 languages, will share the £50,000 prize with his English translator, Jessica Cohen.” [Guardian

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Non-kissing cousins! Deutsch fighting challenge from family member” by Julianne Cuba: “Community Board 14 member Kalman Yeger, who announced last week he is running for the Council, is slamming his cousin-in-law and competitor for the seat, incumbent Councilman Chaim Deutsch, claiming he makes too much money from his private real estate to be an effective member of the city’s legislative body. “He’s one of the few council members who earns an outside income … while we are paying him to do a job,” said Yeger during a phone call on June 13. “It’s an outrage we are being ripped off.”… Yeger held a fund-raiser last month and has $84,615 in the bank for his campaign to oust the man who is married to Yeger’s cousin Sara.” [BrooklynDaily]

DESSERT: “The ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ Is Now a Tequila Drinker” by John Kell: “On Wednesday, Astral Tequila unveiled new advertisements that will feature [Jonathan] Goldsmith—who starred as the pitchman for Dos Equis beer for about a decade—instead advocating adult beverage drinkers enjoy tequila. “I told you, I don’t always drink beer,” Goldsmith says in the spot. “Astral Tequila.” In the ad, he notably does not mention Dos Equis by name.” [Fortune]

BIRTHDAYS: Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried turns 93… Iranian-born British billionaire, his companies employ 70,000 people in 67 countries, he was knighted in 1989 and made a life peer in 2004, Baron David Alliance turns 85… Co-founder with his father and brothers of Canadian radio and television conglomerate, Astral Media in 1961, he was president and CEO from 1996 until its $3.3 billion sale to Bell Canada in 2013, Ian Greenberg turns 75… Author, attorney, public speaker and president of the National Rifle Association (2005-2007) where she has served on the board since 1992, Sandra S. (Sandy) Froman turns 68… Billionaire, entrepreneur, currently living in Estonia, vice president of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, he has rebuilt a synagogue and a community center in Estonia, Alexander Bronstein Ph.D. turns 63… President and CEO of the public relations firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman turns 63… Born and educated in NYC, he moved to Warsaw in 2000 and became Chief Rabbi of Poland in 2004, Rabbi Michael Schudrich turns 62… Beverly Hills-based attorney at Harder Mirell & Abrams specializing in entertainment, intellectual property and litigation, former board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams turns 50… Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy managing editor at The New York Times where he manages the NYT’s digital platforms, Clifford J. Levy turns 50… CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash (born Dana Ruth Schwartz) turns 46… News and finance anchor at Yahoo! News and contributor to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, previously a weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, Bianna Golodryga turns 39… Director of Board Relations at Birthright Israel Foundation, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani turns 31… Digital journalist and producer for ABC News, daughter of Max Weinberg (longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), Ali S. Weinberg Rogin turns 30… Gerald Adler… Eli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter… Stuart Turtle… Joel Winton

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