Daily Kickoff: NYTimes on Cantor’s Jewish Donors; Senate Hearing on Iran Today; Pulver’s Zula Raises $3M; David Yarus’s ‘Kosher Tinder’ App – JSwipe

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

TOP TALKER: Eric Cantor announced at a press conference yesterday that he will step down as House Majority Leader and will not attempt to run as a write-in candidate in the fall. Cantor began the press conference by invoking his Judaism: “Growing up in the Jewish faith, going to Hebrew school, reading the old testament, I learned a lot about individual setbacks but I also learned that each setback is an opportunity and that there’s always optimism for the future. While I may have suffered a personal setback last night, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of this country.” [Video] In a closed door meeting of the House Republican Conference, Cantor said, quoting a Holocaust survivor: “Suffering is part of life, misery is a choice.”  (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…)