Jewish Insider Kickoff
REPORT – Israel Angered by U.S. Leaks of Submarine Missile Attack on Syria: “Israeli government officials voiced anger at U.S. press leaks traced to the Pentagon following the July 5 Israeli missile attack on the Syrian port of Latakia that destroyed a shipment of Russian-made anti-ship missiles, according to U.S. officials. Senior Pentagon officials, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter who is currently visiting Israel, discussed the leaks during meetings with Israeli officials this week. The Israelis argued in private meetings and other exchanges that the disclosures could lead to Syrian counterattacks against Israel and should have been coordinated first with Tel Aviv.” [Free Beacon]
DENIED – Ruling denies Jerusalem-born Americans the right to list Israel as birthplace: “A law enabling Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on U.S. passports is unconstitutional because it infringes on the president’s executive power, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Tuesday. In 2003, Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky, the parents of Jerusalem-born Menachem Zivotofsky, filed a lawsuit demanding that the U.S. State Department enforce the law passed by Congress in 2002 so that Menachem could list “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on his passport. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the appeals court needed to rule on the enforcement issue. But Judge Karen Henderson of the appeals court’s three-judge panel wrote on Tuesday that the president—not the legislative branch—“exclusively holds the power to determine whether to recognize a foreign sovereign.” This U.S. has not officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem since the Jewish state gained independence in 1948.” [JNS]
HAPPENING TODAY: After fiercely fought campaign Israel set to name new chief rabbis – “One of the fiercest and most intense elections in Israel’s history will conclude on Wednesday when the new Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbis are chosen at Jerusalem’s Leonardo Hotel. The rabbis will be chosen by an electorate of 150 people including 80 rabbis representing religious councils and 70 non-rabbis, who represent the government, the Knesset and local authorities. The vote will be held over three hours in the afternoon before Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan announces the results at 8 p.m. The Ashkenazi race pits Shoham Chief Rabbi David Stav against Modi’in Chief Rabbi David Lau and Merkaz Harav yeshiva head Ya’acov Shapira. Beersheba Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and Jerusalem Rabbinical Court head Eliyahu Abergel quit the race for Sephardi chief rabbi on Tuesday, leaving four candidates: Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Hazon Ovadia yeshiva head Yitzhak Yosef, High Rabbinical Court Judge Zion Boaron and Kiryat Ono Chief Rabbi Ratzon Arusi.” [Jerusalem Post]
FORBES COVER STORY – PEACE THROUGH PROFITS? Inside the Secret Tech Ventures That Are Reshaping The Israeli-Arab-Palestinian World: “With official relations between Palestinians and Israelis still poisonous after a century of conflict, any constructive dialogue is newsworthy. Nearly 100 times over the past two years Israeli high-tech experts and Palestinian entrepreneurs have gotten together in the hope of making Israel’s “Startup Nation” economic miracle a cross-border affair. And it’s just one of dozens of business-driven dialogues quietly–in many cases secretly–proliferating across the Holy Land. “The way to end this conflict is to create a very large middle class and be inclusive in how you go after it across all individuals, regardless of age, religion or gender,” says John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, the most actively involved American tech executive in a coordinated effort that includes de facto diplomats from the likes of Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. “If you can address those issues and you can get others involved, then you can have a shot at peace in the Middle East.”
Of course, there’s already billions of dollars’ worth of trade flowing between the West Bank and Israel, given their proximity and the latter’s border control over the former. Even in Gaza, whose leaders have a stated goal of destroying the Jewish state, commerce furtively passes back and forth on a massive scale. April’s Dead Sea meeting, however, represents something much more far-reaching and rarely discussed. Rather than just trading goods, hundreds of Israeli and Palestinians are becoming actual business partners and colleagues in startups that are slowly transforming the Palestinian economy, at least in the West Bank. It’s not easy. Over the course of reporting this story FORBES interviewed scores of high-tech leaders on both sides of the border. Nearly all expressed fears and worries over how their comments would be perceived. (Many insisted on full anonymity; FORBES was granted access to the Dead Sea training session only on the condition that we keep its exact location a secret.) On the Palestinian side a large contingent myopically equates any collaboration with treachery, even if it strengthens the local economy (and especially if it’s perceived to strengthen Israel’s). While most in the Jewish state would view these partnerships positively, a sizable minority fear that Palestinians armed with the skills and technology that have driven Israel’s prosperity would use them against Israel in a future war.
Yet for all the mutual suspicion, collaborate they do. Buoyed by training, investment or partnerships from Israelis or Israeli subsidiaries of American companies, more than 300 Palestinian technology firms now employ 4,500 people, FORBES estimates, up from just 23 firms in the six-year period leading up to 2000. More are on the way: There’s at least $100 million in venture cash from Israeli or Western sources either looking for deals or recently put to work in Palestinian or Israeli Arab startups (with the latter community, representing one-fifth of the country’s citizenry, increasingly agitating to get in on the action). Meanwhile, Chambers and his peers at U.S. technology giants have pushed their Israeli subsidiaries to outsource research and development projects to Palestinian startups or to hire local Arabs. This is the real backdrop for the renewed peace talks lurching forward under the aegis of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Feckless politicians will invariably look to blame the other side for inaction. The private sector’s detente is delivering results right now, with the intention of creating enough interconnected prosperity to make a lasting peace in everyone’s economic self-interest.” [Forbes]
Forward headline – “Christian Israel-Backers Blast Obama on Peace:” “Christian evangelical supporters of Israel sent a strong message of opposition to President Obama on Iran and the renewal of Mideast peace talks as they convened last night for their annual Washington conference. A series of speakers who took the stage at the conference, which hosted 4,200 members of Christians United for Israel from across the nation, stressed Israel’s right to defend itself against Iran by taking military action and spoke out against attempts to force Israel to accept a peace plan based on the 1967 borders. In a passionate speech to the assembled Christian audience, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations, added that the “cost of action,” when it comes to Iran, “may be great, but the cost of inaction may be much greater.” Hoenlein, who was honored with CUFI’s annual Defender of Israel award, called the support Israel receives from Christians in the United States “our nuclear weapon.” [Forward]
‘Operation Last Chance’ – “The Simon Wiesenthal Center launched on Tuesday what it is calling “an unprecedented poster campaign” in the streets of major German cities, to publicize its “Operation Last Chance II project,” which offers rewards of up to 25,000 euros for information which will help facilitate the prosecution of war criminals.” [Arutz Sheva]
CONGRATS TO UNITED HATZALAH: “When Jerusalem resident Eli Beer implemented a neighborhood-based volunteer emergency response system to Israel in 2006, he wasn’t dreaming of prizes, only of saving lives. But in recognition of the fact that United Hatzalah of Israel has brought together some 2,100 trained volunteers from every sector of Israeli society to respond to medical emergencies in Arab and Jewish neighborhoods without discrimination, Beer and Arab-Israeli United Hatzalah-East Jerusalem leader Murad Alyan were chosen to receive the 2013 Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the New York-based Institute of International Education.”[Israel21c]
TEVA DEVELOPING NEW MEDICINES TO TREAT BRAIN DISORDERS: “Israel-based Teva, the world’s largest generic drugmaker, is seven months into a sweeping reorganisation as it seeks to mitigate lost revenue from increased competition from copies of its best-selling branded multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. Teva is investing $15 million over five years and has already given grants to more than 50 projects at Israeli universities to tackle diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “I am convinced that this effort will yield not just one or two drugs but will yield a great understanding how the brain works, what types of diseases affect the brain and Teva and other companies will benefit from it,” Jeremy Levin, Teva’s CEO, told reporters.”[Reuters]
SCHULTZ TO HAVE STARBUCKS GO GREEK: “Coming soon to a Starbucks near you: Greek yogurt. In a partnership with Danone SA (BN), the world’s largest coffee shop operator will start selling the dairy product in its cafes next year and in food retailers in 2015. The plan helps address two of Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz’s key concerns: offering healthier fare and helping Starbucks Corp. colonize the grocery store.” [Businessweek]
Behind the Setbacks – What is holding the American Dream Meadowlands entertainment and shopping center back?: “Less than seven months before the National Football League’s 2014 Super Bowl comes to New Jersey, the American Dream Meadowlands entertainment and shopping center should be preparing for an onslaught of visitors to the region. Instead, wire fence and weeds surround the unfinished project, whose facade of multicolored rectangles fronting the turnpike was once called the “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America,” by Governor Chris Christie. Holdups over financing, property control, lawsuits and labor contracts have stalled the $3.7 billion, decade-old project.
Triple Five Group, an Edmonton, Alberta-based developer, agreed with Christie in December 2010 to take over the project. It planned to invest $1.76 billion, after $1.9 billion was spent by previous companies, to create a 7.5 million-square-foot (697,000-square-meter) retail goliath that would be the world’s largest mall. After objections from the Jets and Giants, the project’s size has been cut back to 2.8 million square-feet. Triple Five, owned by Edmonton’s Ghermezian family, scrapped the Xanadu name and veered from the retail-heavy plan, adopting the entertainment component from two of its properties, the Mall of America in Minnesota and the West Edmonton Mall. In May 2011, it projected American Dream would open in 2013 and would attract 55 million visitors a year. Since then, the company has scaled back its forecast to 40 million visitors. Its plan called for attractions including a skydiving simulator, an ice-skating rink and domed-over water park, along with 250 shops and 70 restaurants. In May, it received permission from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns and controls the site’s land, to add a glass-enclosed theme park inspired by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA) movies.
The mall site is near MetLife, an 82,500-seat, open-air stadium that opened in 2010. The New York Football Giants Inc. and New York Jets LLC sued Triple Five and the sports authority on May 30, saying the mall “will clog the complex’s already congested transportation networks.” Triple Five, as Ameream LLC and Ameream Developer LLC, countersued, accusing the teams of obstructing the development. The company, meanwhile, continues to negotiate with lenders that still hold the reins on the project. Alan Marcus, a Triple Five spokesman, said it plans to resume construction next month. More than a third of the $1.76 billion in financing would be in the form of incentives and tax-free borrowing, pending approvals from state and local governments. Key to the financing is the Bergen County Improvement Authority, which hasn’t seen revenue projections and tax valuations for its biggest-ever deal. Triple Five is urging the authority to be the conduit issuer of $600 million in bonds tied to a state development grant and payments in lieu of taxes. “We really can’t even explain anything to our commissioners because we haven’t received anything,” Robert Garrison, the authority’s executive director, said on July 18. Marcus said Triple Five is working on state approval for the bonds, and declined to release any revenue projections. The developer, he said, is looking for “the right-priced money.” Without a tax-exempt municipal-bond commitment, “we would not be able to complete, in private markets, the capital structure necessary to complete the project’s financing,” Tony Armlin, a Triple Five vice president, said at an authority meeting on Feb. 21.” [Bloomberg]
BUZZFEED – Meet Carl Icahn: Wall Street’s Loudest (And Richest) Mouth – “Along with immense wealth often comes a big personality and fiery temper. Carl Icahn possesses all three of those attributes. A formidable billionaire hedge fund manager, activist investor, and general tough guy from a “rough neighborhood in Queens,” Icahn is without question the loudest and most entertaining mouth on Wall Street. Icahn, 77, made his billions after founding investment firm Icahn & Co., later Icahn Enterprises, in 1968. After focusing on risk arbitrage and options trading, he turned his attention to activist investing — taking minority positions in large corporations and forcing changes in leadership, strategic direction, or just outright hostile takeovers. Icahn’s ruthless corporate persona is matched only by his quirky sense of humor. He is known to ham it up for CNBC cameras, or even a late night audience at comedy clubs throughout Manhattan. Here’s a handy guide to some of Icahn’s most memorable fights, enemies, and zingers.” [Buzzfeed]
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY PROS LOCK HORNS: “Last summer, when Jeff Blau, chief executive of Related Cos., was approached by a young vice president with what he saw as a great buying opportunity, no one at the company thought it would trigger one of the fiercest commercial real-estate brawls in years. The battle, which is headed for a showdown this week, pits Related, controlled by billionaire Miami Dolphins-owner Stephen Ross, against the Portnoy family of Boston, which controls a property empire worth more than $20 billion. It also shines a spotlight on the world of real-estate investment trusts that are run by external management companies.” [WSJ]
One57’s Taxpayer Subsidies: “The closer you look at the huge tax breaks that the state Legislature secretly bestowed on the city’s priciest condo building, the more outrageous they get — and the more they demand investigation by Gov. Cuomo’s new anti-corruption commission. The ultrarich tenants of the ultraluxurious tower going up at 157 W. 57th St. stand to reap a whopping 94% discount on their property taxes during their first years of ownership. [New York Daily News]
UPDATE – IMF backs off plan to file with US Supreme Court in Argentina debt case: “The International Monetary Fund no longer plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review Argentina’s case in its decade-old legal battle with holdout creditors due to a lack of support from the U.S. government, the IMF said on Tuesday. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde had planned to recommend that the IMF’s board approve a friend-of-court brief in support of the case by the end of this week, but decided not to. The brief would have been the first the IMF filed with the highest court in the United States. Over the last decade, holdout investors and Argentina have sparred in the U.S. courts over the South American country’s $100 billion default in 2002. Holdouts declined to take part in two restructurings in 2005 and 2010 that drew participation from 93 percent of bondholders, who accepted returns as low as 25 cents on the dollar. Investors including Aurelius Capital Management and NML Capital, a unit of billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer‘s Elliott Management, have refused a deal and are suing Argentina to recover the full value of their assets.” [Reuters]
INTERCEPTED – Ex-NFL QB losses possesions: “Ex-NFL quarterback Vince Young got quite a wake-up call Monday morning — from Harris County deputy constables armed with court papers to enforce a $1.7 million judgment against him. The $1.7 million was from a high-risk loan Young took out during the 2011 NFL lockout from the New-York firm Pro Player Funding. Sean Bellew, attorney for Pro Player Funding, said they were well within their rights, and pursued this avenue as a last resort after spending a year chasing Young for the money he owes.” [KHOU]
Anaheim Ducks to become Mighty once again: “In 2006, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks lost their might. Don’t worry. It wasn’t an accident. Sold by the Walt Disney Company in 2005, one of the first changes new owner Henry Samueli made was a full rebrand, putting some distance between the club and the near-flawless 1992 film that spawned them, updating the colour scheme and losing the all-important modifier. At the beginning of the 2006-07 season, the Mighty Ducks ended and the Ducks began. But if the reports are true, in 2013-14, the Ducks’ 20th season, the Mighty Ducks will be return, at least for one night.” [Yahoo Sports]
PRESSURE ON SNYDER TO CHANGE TEAM NAME: “Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said he’ll never consider changing the team’s nickname despite growing pressure from outside the organization because the name has racist connotations. But two Hall of Fame players who played during the team’s heyday in the 1980’s say it may be time for a change. Former wide receiver Art Monk and former cornerback Darrell Green suggested during a radio interview on Monday that it may be time to consider changing the team’s name. “[If] Native Americans feel like Redskins or the Chiefs or [another] name is offensive to them, then who are we to say to them ‘No, it’s not’?” Ten members of Congress sent a letter to Snyder in May urging him to change the name because it is derogatory toward Native Americans. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded in a letter to lawmakers saying that the name “is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” [Newsday]
Clothing tycoon attacked for refusal to sign safety deal: “Sir Philip Green‘s clothing empire has been criticised for shunning a new initiative aimed at improving safety standards at Bangladeshi clothing manufacturers in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in April. The tycoon’s brands, which include TopShop, BHS and Miss Selfridge, are notable absentees from a list of supporters of the Bangladesh Safety Accord, which is backed by 80 top high street brands ranging from Marks & Spencer and Next to Primark and H&M.” [Guardian]
‘Hacked’ – Syrian Electronic Army claims it hacked Israeli-based Viber: “The Syrian Electronic Army, known for hacking the Twitter accounts of the Associated Press, The Guardian, and other news sources, is now claiming to have hacked the website and database of messaging app Viber. The Hacker News reported that Viber’s support subdomain had been defaced with a “Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army” banner and an apparent screenshot of a device database. “Dear All Viber Users [sic], the Israeli-based ‘Viber’ is spying and tracking you,” reads a message at the top. “We weren’t able to hack all Viber systems, but most of it is designed for spying and tracking.”
Viber responded saying that it was indeed compromised due to an employee falling for the phishing scams often used by the Syrian Electronic Army. “It is very important to emphasize that no sensitive user data was exposed and that Viber’s databases were not ‘hacked,'” the statement reads in part. “Sensitive, private user information is kept in a secure system that cannot be accessed through this type of attack and is not part of our support system.” [The Verge]
RECOGNITION – Voice recognition is useful. Israeli Beyond Verbal has raised $1 million to prove that emotion recognition could be too: “Anyone could tell you that communication isn’t necessarily what you say but how you say it. We have evolved to communicate through our gestures, posture, pitch, and cadence as well as our vocabularies, allowing us to convey different emotions without necessarily changing the words we use. Humans can pick up on those signals fairly easily. Machines can’t — and that’s exactly what Beyond Verbal, an Israel-based startup, is trying to change.” [Pando Daily]
KOSHER Slaughter’s Young Blood: “Kosher butchering isn’t what it used to be, and the butchers are looking a lot different these days, too. When Zac Johnson, a young, Orthodox Jewish educator in Berkeley, Calif., wants to eat kosher meat, he doesn’t look in a butcher shop. He’ll drive to a nearby farm, pick the live free-range hen he likes best, and schecht it in his backyard. Or, if he wants beef, he’ll order it online. That means Johnson has been trained in shechita, or kosher slaughter, which stipulates that a trained individual kill and carve mammals and fowl in a prescribed fashion, in addition to making certain the body has no prohibited defects.” [Jewish Week]
BRINGING HIS ‘VOICE’ TO SYNAGOGUE: “Singer-songwriter Todd Kessler, season 3 contestant and member of Team Ceelo on NBC’s hit show, “The Voice,” will bring his talents to Palm Beach on Aug. 3 when he appears in concert at The New Synagogue. The private concert and social is a showcase event to introduce the synagogue’s new initiative to draw young adults between the ages of 21 and 35 to the temple.” [Sun-Sentinel]
Thats all folks, have a great Wednesday!
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