Daily Kickoff: Day 8 in search for kidnapped boys | Drudge Headline: Jews flee… (France) | Rangel Compares Tea Party to Hamas | Cavs Want Blatt

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

DAY 8: “A week of raids and arrests, but no hard lead to the kidnappers” by Avi Issacharoff:“The terrorist group that was able to kidnap the three Israeli teens from the Alon Shvut hitchhiking stop last Thursday will likely go down in the annals of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israeli intelligence forces as one of the most dangerous and sophisticated cells to have been active in the West Bank in recent years.“To disappear for more than a week with the entire Israeli army and intelligence force in hot pursuit is no easy task. Clearly, much thought and many resources were dedicated to it. Which begs the question: could it be that all this was a local initiative by a local Hamas cell acting of its own accord? Or was it a case of a few terrorists who instigated an attack under explicit orders from the political leadership of Hamas or, alternatively, its senior military leadership?” [ToI] (more…)

Daily Kickoff: P5+1 Talks Resume Today; Senators on Sanctions; Shelly Berkley to Touro; Ari Emanuel, with $2.5B Bid, set to become King of Hollywood

Top Talker: Senators Menendez, Kirk and Schumer Circulate New Iran Sanctions Bill: “Three top senators, including two Democrats, have begun circulating a draft of a new Iran sanctions bill that critics say could violate the terms of an agreement struck between Iran and the United States in Geneva last month. The bill, set for introduction by the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, along with top sanctions hawks Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), defies the Obama administration’s repeated requests for Congress to hold off on any new legislation that could imperil last month’s interim nuclear pact with Iran while talks continue towards a comprehensive final deal. (more…)

Daily Kickoff: Untold Story of Iran Negotiation that Worked; Fischer to Fed; Why Jewish Wall Street Titans want Hillary & Christie in 16; CIA Arabists

Behind the Scenes: Thirteen Jewish Prisoners in Iran – The Untold Story of a Negotiation That Worked: As the Israeli government and its most ardent backers in the United States continue to ramp up their criticism of the Obama administration’s pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, they might do well to heed the lessons from the last time they were involved in arms-length diplomacy with their arch-enemies in Tehran. Nearly a decade ago, the U.S. Jewish community and the United Nations played a key role in a series of secret negotiations to win the release of thirteen Jews imprisoned in Iran.

–In 1999, the story started almost predictably. Security agents arrested thirteen Jewish residents of the southeast Iranian city of Shiraz, including five merchants, a rabbi, two university professors, three teachers in private Hebrew schools, a kosher butcher and a 16-year-old boy, accusing them of spying for Israel. After an elaborate, partially televised show trial, 10 were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, while Israel organized a high-level pressure campaign globally to win their release. The prisoners were gradually freed in small groups, with the news kept under wraps until the barest of details were leaked in March 2003, a month after the last one left Iran for Israel. But the inside story, never told until now, appears to show that opposite sides can make a deal, no matter how limited the scope. In interviews, the two key players in the negotiations – U.S. Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein and Giandomenico Picco, then a UN diplomat – revealed a delicate diplomatic minuet in the shadows that finally coaxed Iran to release the prisoners. (more…)

Jewish Insider Daily Kickoff – Dec. 3

First Look – Ron Dermer profile in Politico Magazine by Ron Kampeas — ‘Bibi’s Brain’ Comes to Washington: Can Dermer, dubbed “Bibi’s Brain” by an American Jewish publication and “Bibi’s Mirror” by an Israeli newspaper, reset the fraught relationship between Obama and Netanyahu? The “yes, he can” argument goes something like this: No one knows Netanyahu better than Dermer, who is also one of the few Israelis to really understand the American political landscape. “Ron Dermer’s significance now cannot be overrated,” says Ari Shavit, a writer for the liberal Haaretz newspaper. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is probably the loneliest head of state one can imagine,” Shavit told me. “There are very few people he truly trusts and appreciates, and Ron Dermer is one of them. If Washington plays it right and Dermer plays it right and they enable America and Israel to start a new page—a new dialogue in which leading American players will find a way to his heart and mind while he finds a way to their hearts and minds—it might be good news.”

–The other view is that Dermer will entrench in Washington a bunker mentality that has isolated Netanyahu and helped perpetuate the breakdown in relations with Israel’s closest and most important ally. “Among the White House’s inner circle—Denis McDonough, Ben Rhodes—Dermer is a red flag,” says Barak Ravid, Haaretz’s political correspondent, referring respectively to the White House chief of staff and deputy national security adviser. “They see him as the guy who incited Congress and Jewish organizations against Obama.” It’s a reputation that Dermer’s defenders say is unfair—it does not take into account missteps by Obama and his team, and understates Netanyahu’s determinative role in shaping relations with Washington. But it is a reputation that continues to dog Dermer nonetheless. When I asked about him, a Democratic source on the Hill who is close to Jewish groups blamed Dermer for distributing talking points on Iran, critical of the White House, to Republican members of Congress. Asked for evidence, the source said, “Who else?”

–Nicolas Muzin, the director of coalitions for the House Republican Conference, says Dermer was respectful and never partisan in his pitch—but emphatic. “He’s been trying to make the case that the sanctions relief is more than dollar value because it’s the change in momentum [that really matters],” Muzin says, underscoring an Israeli claim that the $7 billion the Obama administration says Iran could earn from eased sanctions may be a low-ball figure.

His predecessor Michael Oren says he believes that Dermer can and will overcome the suspicion that he was an architect of the Netanyahu-Obama tensions. “I understand that was the perception of him, but the reality is going to be different, because it has to be,” Oren told me. “He’s going to understand that to be an effective ambassador, he has to be scrupulously bipartisan.” Differences over Iran will be a test. “Clearly the prime minister is not impressed with this arrangement,” Oren adds. “Does that mean you actively campaign against it, lobby against it, or are you briefing people on the Hill? I have a feeling it will be the latter. Over the next six months, Israel will try to have a close conversation with the administration over what we consider a safe deal.” Can Dermer straddle the line between presenting Israel’s case and pressuring the United States to embrace it? “Lobbying has a negative connotation. Lobbying is putting pressure on someone,” Oren notes. “What an ambassador does is explain. That doesn’t involve attacking the president’s position but explaining ours.” [PoliticoMag]

Scene Last Night – JINSA (The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) awarded the 2013 Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award to Senator Mark Kirk in DC; Michael Bloomberg threw his final Hanukkah bash as NYC Mayor [Video] & announced he plans to use the $1M from the Geneses Prize “to promote commerce between the people in Palestine and the people in Israel”; Florida Gov. Rick Scott hosted a Hanukkah party in the Governors mansion; Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick lit the menorah at the Mass. State House: (more…)