Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Daily Kickoff – Nov. 8

West and Iran May Be Near Nuclear Deal: “After years of fruitless negotiations, Western and Iranian diplomats are on the verge of an agreement that would freeze Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of some economic sanctions.” [Bloomberg]

Netanyahu: Geneva offer to Iran is a ‘historic mistake’: Addressing Israeli and Diaspora leaders in Jerusalem as a new round of talks on Iran’s rogue nuclear program got under way in Geneva, Netanyahu said, the proposals “on the table in Geneva” would “ease the pressure on Iran in return for ‘concessions’ that aren’t concessions at all.” He said Israel completely oppose these proposals, which would leave Iran with a capacity to build nuclear weapons. “I believe that adopting [these proposals] would be a mistake of historic proportions. They must be rejected outright,” he added.” [TOI]

Senator backs off vow to mark up Iran sanctions: “Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) told The Hill in a statement that he would wait to see if any progress was made in diplomatic talks in Geneva before making a decision. Earlier in the day he told Reuters that he’d wait for this week’s talks to be over with but that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “wants to mark up.” [TheHill]

According to the Associated Press – Sec. Kerry will make an unexpected visit to Geneva today for Iran nuclear talks. Kerry’s last-minute decision to join the talks suggests a deal could be imminent. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Kerry has not been formally invited by the Europeans to join the talks. [Associated Press]

Life as a reporter traveling with John Kerry around the Middle East – by Mark Landler in “Kerry Takes a Personal Approach to Mideast Peace”: “Traveling around the Middle East with Secretary of State John Kerry, particularly for a reporter whose last State Department tour was with Hillary Rodham Clinton, is a seat-of-the-pants experience. Itineraries are notional. Improvisation is the rule. In the last 24 hours, Mr. Kerry’s aides warned that he might fly back to Israel after his stop in Jordan, then minutes later said that was a false alarm. The next morning they confirmed that he would, in fact, travel to Tel Aviv on Friday for breakfast with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after dinner here with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. And after that? Who can say? Mr. Kerry seems perfectly willing to upend his schedule based on his instinct that staying a little longer, holding another meeting, flying to another capital, can nudge forward peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” [NYTimes]

Frustrated Kerry’s Peace Critique a Heavy Slap in Netanyahu’s Face — A patently bitter secretary of state asks why Israel keeps taking Palestinian land, and why the Israeli public doesn’t seem to care about it; warns lack of progress may lead to a 3rd Palestinian intifada“For the first time since he managed to restart the talks in July, Kerry dropped his statesman-like public impartiality, and clearly spoke from the heart — and what emerged were a series of accusations that amounted to a forceful slap in the face for Netanyahu. It was a rhetorical onslaught that the prime minister cannot have expected and one he will not quickly forget.” [TOI]

Obama Administration MindMeld as told through Jeffrey Goldberg’s column — “For Help on Iran, Netanyahu Must Look to West Bank”: “Netanyahu fears that the removal of even one brick from the wall of sanctions would cause the entire edifice to crumble. And he’s right: There are many countries, and certainly many multinational conglomerates, that are eager to go back to business as usual in Iran; any softening, even temporarily, in the sanctions program, could spur at least some of them to rush in. We may be at a kind of “peak sanctions” moment right now. The nightmare for Israel and the Arabs is that the Iranians, who are in Geneva for only one reason — to gain sanctions relief — will get the relief they want without being forced to permanently mothball their nuclear facilities. Netanyahu may be overreacting, but his fears aren’t absurd: Negotiators for the West seem a bit overeager to make a deal with Iran, and a bit too worried about offending Iranian regime sensibilities, especially when you consider that it is Iran, not the U.S., that should, in fact, be desperate for a deal.

–So why are the prime minister’s complaints being ignored? Two reasons. The first reason is that U.S. President Barack Obama has him boxed in. Netanyahu can’t launch a unilateral strike on Iran now that the U.S. is actively negotiating with its leaders. That would just be outre. So Netanyahu is in a time-out of sorts — and therefore semi-marginalized. The second reason is one Netanyahu, so far at least, has refused to comprehend. His unwillingness to permanently freeze settlement growth on the West Bank, to make the sort of grand gesture toward the Palestinians that would advance the peace process, has caused even those in Washington and Europe who are sympathetic to his stance on Iran to write him off as generally immovable and irrational. Of course, the growth of settlements has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran is not seeking the capability to build a nuclear weapon in order to bring about a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Netanyahu argues that these are two separate issues, and he’s correct. Except that, in the world of international diplomacy, they are inextricably linked. The Obama administration hears Netanyahu’s demands for more action on Iran and tries — so far, fairly successfully — to meet that call for action. But when the Obama administration turns around and asks Netanyahu to make the sort of gestures that might advance the peace process, it more often than not gets stonewalled.” [Bloomberg]

Aaron David Miller’s Long OpEd – Is Israel Doomed? [ForeignPolicy]

Al Jazeera Claims It Did Not Pay For Swiss Institute To Investigate Arafat Death: “Al Jazeera said on Thursday that it didn’t pay for Arafat’s exhumation or for forensic tests done on his person or belongings. “We were not part of any of that. The PA exhumed the body in accordance with the wishes of Arafat’s wife,” said Osama Saeed, a spokesman for Al Jazeera in Doha, referring to the Palestinian Authority. “All we did was pen the report.” Saeed said that during the initial investigation into Arafat’s last effects, Al Jazeera was involved in moving the items to the forensic lab at the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland and commissioning a test on them. Saeed said he believed the lab did the tests pro bono. On Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported that a Swiss study of Arafat’s remains showed evidence that the Palestinian leader may have died from polonium-210 poisoning. While Al Jazeera has broadcast reports arguing that the results are nearly conclusive, other experts who have examined the report have questioned the accuracy of its findings.” [BuzzFeed]

Detailed Critique – No firm proof Arafat was poisoned – by the International Weekly Journal of Science; [Nature]

Elliot Abrams OpEd – Al Jazeera Backs the Muslim Brotherhood:  [Council on Foreign Relations]

@SenJohnMcCain tweeted: Must Read – “The U.S. not Iran, has the upper hand in nuclear negotiations” – An OpEd by Ray Takeyh, senior fellow at Council on Foreign Relations: “Another issue that has paradoxically redounded to U.S. advantage was Rouhani’s trip to the U.N. General Assembly. Both U.S. and Iranian officials unwisely raised expectations in September and fed a media narrative of an imminent historic breakthrough between two old nemeses. Such raised expectations work to the disadvantage of Iran rather than the United States. Suddenly, the hard-pressed Iranian public has come to expect imminent financial relief. Should the negotiations not yield an accord in a timely manner, it is Khamenei, not President Obama, who would face a popular backlash. A disenfranchised and dispossessed population is an explosive political problem for Khamenei. The Western powers should not be afraid to suspend negotiations or walk away, should the Iranians prove intransigent. Ironically, stalemated negotiations are likely to pressure Iran into offering more concessions.

–During the past decade, two U.S. administrations have confounded their critics by crafting a formidable sanctions architecture and adroitly managing an unruly alliance system. It is important to have a proper estimation of the Islamic Republic — a second-rate power with a third-rate nuclear program. Khamenei presides over a government that is despised by its constituents and distrusted by its neighbors. U.S. sanctions policy has offered its diplomats indispensable leverage. Washington is in a position to demand the most stringent of nuclear accords and should pay scant attention to Iran’s oft-proclaimed red lines. An agreement that not only buys time but also prevents Iran from permanently reconstituting its nuclear weapons ambitions is within grasp. With patience and firmness, a great diplomatic victory can still be claimed.” [WashingtonPost]

ICYMI – Another reason to stop Iran – BBC News: Saudi nuclear weapons ‘on order’ from Pakistan [BBC] Saudis also teaming up with Pakistan to train Syrian rebels and overthrow Assad: [FP]

Inside the Treasury Department’s War on Iran – Yochi Dreazen reports: “The Treasury Department has gone after dozens of state-owned enterprises like the Iranian central bank, but it hasn’t stopped there. Treasury analysts have also spent years painstakingly identifying Iranian front companies around the world, from construction firms to insurance companies, and then lashing each of them with sanctions. The measures have robbed Tehran of billions of dollars of much-needed cash.” [ForeignPolicy]

First Look – The Tower Magazine November Issue: Why Are There Jihadists In Minnesota? What happens when terror groups start recruiting the children of hard-working immigrants to the United States? – by Aiden Pink: “Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States, and over the last six years, at least 22 Somali-American men have left the Twin Cities and joined al-Shabab, two of whom as recently as July 2012. These are only the confirmed cases; in fact, some community members say the number could be as high as 40. Dozens more from Minnesota and around the country have been indicted for providing material support to the terrorist group. Virtually all have been convicted. Many were inspired by recruitment videos like the one described above. Moreover, the FBI is “proceeding as if recruitment efforts are still occurring here in Minnesota,” according to Kyle Loven, a spokesman for the agency’s Minneapolis branch. What would cause Somali-Americans to leave Minnesota—a state that has, for the most part, accepted them with open arms—to fight for a terrorist organization that heralds America’s destruction? And what can be done to reverse this worrying trend? I flew back to Minneapolis, where I was raised, to try to answer these questions. While there, I discovered a few men who, amidst indifference and fear, have sacrificed their time and income in hopes of steering their community away from supporting terrorism.” [TheTower]

Deep Dive – A Very Dangerous Boy; Joseph Hall’s Murder Trial – Last week, a judge in California finally decided the fate of a violent and damaged child who murdered his neo-Nazi father a few years ago, when he was just 10 years old. Amy Wallace reports on the tragic, impossible case of Jeff and Joseph Hall: A son kills a father and the question is why. In the case of 10-year-old Joseph Hall, the answer seemed simple: The boy had been raised around hate. Just hours before Joseph palmed a loaded Rossi .357 magnum and fired it into his father’s skull, the boy had sat in his suburban tract house in Riverside, California, under a huge red, white, and blue flag that was tacked near the ceiling next to a heating vent. The flag sported a black swastika framed by the letters “USA” and “NSM,” for the National Socialist Movement. That afternoon Joseph’s father, Jeff—a rising star in the nation’s largest neo-Nazi group—was leading a monthly meeting.

–At 4 a.m. the following morning, May 1, 2011, Jeff lay on his back on that same lumpy couch, sleeping off a whiskey bender. The lights were on in the living room, as was the TV, and Joseph stepped around his father’s splayed sneakers as he got up close, taking aim just behind Jeff’s left ear. He used four fingers to cock the gun, two to fire it. The bullet entered just inches from the German military iron cross tattoo—overlaid with a skull—that Jeff had inked on the back of his close-shaven head. When police arrived, the boy admitted what he’d done, but still, the first officers on the scene assumed he would not be arrested. Joseph was so small. And Jeff —his once-imposing body now lifeless, his swastika flag still draped overhead—was clearly a bad guy, right? The front-page headline in The New York Times connected the dots: “Neo-Nazi Father Is Killed; Son, 10, Steeped in Beliefs, Is Accused.” The boy had been raised around hate. You reap what you sow. The answer seemed simple. It was anything but.” [GQ]

DINNER CIRCUIT: Top Talker – George W. Bush to headline fundraiser for Texas proselytizing group: “Next week on Nov. 14, former President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser in Irving, Texas, for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization’s mission “is to bring Jewish people into a personal relationship of faith with Yeshua the Messiah, knowing their acceptance will eventually mean life from the dead.” This year’s event is designed to bring in funds for the group’s proselytizing operations. And the former president is helping out with more than just speech-making. The most expensive of the ticket packages, which range from $100 to $100,000, includes 20 invitations to a VIP reception and photo opportunity with Bush, 10 signed copies of Bush’s book Decision Points, and passes to tour the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.” [Mother Jones]

Gov. Mike Huckabee, U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Sheldon & Miriam Adelson to Headline ZOA Dinner: “The Zionist Organization of America is proud to announce that former Presidential candidates Gov. Mike Huckabee and U.S. Congressmember Michele Bachmann, as well as global philanthropists/humanitarians Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson, will headline the ZOA Brandeis Dinner on Sunday, November 24, 2013, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Mr. James Tisch and Mr. Ken Bialkin are Co-Chairs of the Dinner. Mr. Tisch is CEO of Loews Corp. and a past Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Mr. Bialkin is a senior partner at the law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and is also a past Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.” [ZOA]

Christians United For Israel founder Pastor John Hagee honored by Jewish leaders at a dinner to raise money for Meir Panim, an organization which works to fight hunger in Israel. [JNS]

Convincing Millennials to ‘Marry a Nice Jewish Boy’ – by Emma Green in The Atlantic: “Although many religious people want to marry someone of the same faith, the issue is particularly complicated for Jews: For many, faith is tied tightly to ethnicity as a matter of religious teaching. Jews do accept conversion, but it’s a long and difficult process, even in Reform communities—as of 2013, only 2 percent of the Jewish population are converts. Meanwhile, the cultural memory of the Holocaust and the racialized persecution of the Jews still looms large, making the prospect of a dwindling population particularly sensitive.

–The lesson, then, that many Jewish kids absorb at an early age is that their heritage comes with responsibilities—especially when it comes to getting married and having kids. In large part, that’s because Jewish organizations put a lot of time and money into spreading precisely this message. For the Jewish leaders who believe this is important for the future of the faith, youth group, road trips, summer camp, and online dating are the primary tools they use in the battle to preserve their people.” [Atlantic Magazine]

William @Daroff OpEd – Fostering Inclusion and Independence: “Anytime the Jewish community focuses on the issue of becoming more inclusive and engaging new people in Jewish life, I reflect on the way in which we, as Jews, are taught to value the protection of the most vulnerable among us. “You shall not insult the deaf,” reads Leviticus, “or place a stumbling block before the blind.” In Judaism, we understand this to mean that we must actively remove the stumbling block, actively work to uphold those who need upholding.” [TOI] Viral Video – The middle school football team who went behind their coaches’ backs to do something incredible for Keith Orr, a special needs child. [YouTube]

Quebec introduces legislation to prohibit public employees from wearing religious symbols: “The Quebec government moved forward Thursday with a proposed law that would ban public employees from wearing overt religious symbols, setting the stage for a showdown over the place of religion in the province. The law would forbid government employees from wearing Muslim headscarves, Jewish kippas, Sikh turbans and larger-than-average crucifixes. It would also prohibit citizens from covering their faces while receiving public services, such as applying for driver’s licenses, for the purpose of identification. Thousands of Muslims, Sikhs and Jews have marched through Montreal’s streets to denounce what they call an affront on religious freedom. Many have said they would lose their jobs rather than comply with the law.” [WashingtonPost]

US asks Germany to publish list of Nazi-looted artworks: “The United States has asked Germany to publish a list of 1,400 Nazi-looted works of art that were found in a Munich apartment last year during a German tax evasion probe, U.S. officials said on Thursday. Jewish groups have urged that the origins of the artworks be researched as quickly as possible, so that, if looted or extorted, they can be returned to their original owners. For some families missing art constitutes the last personal effects of relatives killed during the Holocaust.” [Reuters]

2016 Watch: In Jewish Hollywood, Clinton’s a Star – In the prelude to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary season, the split between the Hollywood mogul David Geffen and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton represented an early and embarrassing sign of trouble for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Geffen, previously one of the Clintons’ most generous benefactors, criticized the former first lady as overly ambitious and called the former president “a reckless guy.” Hollywood divided, quickly and sharply, between Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama, then a senator. When Mrs. Clinton arrives here on Friday to accept an award at an A-list charity event organized by, among others, the producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, she will find a decidedly more embracing climate.Conversations with a range of Hollywood figures suggest that there is widespread — if not so starry-eyed — support for Mrs. Clinton should she decide to run for president in 2016, a stark contrast with 2008, and an important early indication of Mrs. Clinton’s standing with some of the biggest donors in the Democratic Party. “If she ran, I would support her — no question,” Mr. Geffen said in an interview. “I think she’s the best candidate currently available for either party.” Last month, she headlined a $25,000-per-couple luncheon in Beverly Hills hosted by the Israeli entertainment entrepreneur Haim Saban to raise money for Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia governor’s campaign.” [NYTimes]

Jewish Representation On New York City Council Grows: “When the next City Council convenes in January, there will be 14 Jewish members, up from the current 10.” [JewishWeek]


Goldman Sachs Takes Zen-Like Shabbat Approach – Junior analysts not allowed to work from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m Sunday: [TabletMag] 

Elliot Bohm’s CardCash.com receives $6M in funding from Guggenheim Partners: “CardCash.com, a secure secondary gift card exchange, today announced that it has secured $6 million in growth financing from Guggenheim Partners. CardCash said it will use the funding to continue to enhance its popular exchange on which consumers can buy, sell, and trade the estimated $30 billion of unused gift cards in homes right now. “We are excited to form this strategic partnership with Guggenheim Partners as this will help us realize our strategy and vision,” said Elliot Bohm, an Orthodox Jew and CEO/co-founder of CardCash. “With Guggenheim’s investment, we can expand our brand and service to consumers across America.” [JewishInsider]

Elliot Says It Has No Interest in Argentine Creditor Talks: “Elliott Management Corp., the hedge fund run by Jewish billionaire Paul Singer that owns defaulted Argentine debt, said it’s only willing to negotiate a settlement with the government and has no interest in holding talks with fellow bondholders. “We welcome the idea of good-faith negotiations with Argentina, but we don’t see the point of negotiating with other bondholders,” Elliott, which is seeking full repayment in U.S. courts, said in a statement. “We have approached Argentina countless times about negotiating a resolution to this dispute. It is completely within Argentina’s power to solve this.” [Bloomberg]

StartUp Nation – Windward raises $5M – Helping governments and businesses as they monitor the ocean’s waterways: “Windward, an Israeli startup developing predictive maritime analytics systems & services, announced today the completion of their first funding round valued at $5M. The round was carried out by new Israel based VC fund Aleph. The company was founded in 2010 by Ami Daniel and Matan Peled, both former captains in the IDF Navy.” [GeekTime]

Sports Blink – Brooklyn Brawler Resets the Stage: “In 1996, Dmitriy Salita—a pale, skinny Orthodox Jewish kid—walked into the Starrett City Boxing Gym in East New York, Brooklyn, and asked trainer Jimmy O’Pharrow if he could spar with someone. The line of takers formed quickly. O’Pharrow, a grandfatherly trainer who watched over the kids in the gym, asked Salita if he was sure he wanted to do that. The 13-year-old, who had immigrated to Brooklyn from Odessa, Ukraine, with his family at the age of nine to escape religious oppression, told O’Pharrow he was sure. Salita took a beating and left the gym that day. O’Pharrow thought he had seen the last of him, until he showed up the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that..

–The elderly African-American trainer and the orthodox kid soon formed a bond that would last 15 years, through amateur championships, shots at world championships and only a single career defeat, until O’Pharrow passed away in 2011. Now, at age 30, four years since that lone defeat—a first-round knockout at the hands of WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan—Salita is seeking to rebuild his career and regain his status as a contender, and he will have to do it without his mentor. But he is relying upon the same determination that he showed when he walked into the Starrett City Gym 17 years ago.On Saturday, Salita will fight Gabriel Bracero in a 10-round junior welterweight match at the Aviator Sports Complex in Marine Park. It’s a club show absent from the TV networks that regularly broadcast boxing, but to Salita it is a major step toward regaining his championship form.” [Wall Street Journal]

Dessert – Georgina Bloomberg: Life Lessons I’ve Learned from the World’s Most Famous Mayor: Imagine this: Overnight your dad goes from successful businessman to mayor of New York City. And then stays there for 12 years! As Michael Bloomberg prepares to move out of City Hall, his daughter Georgina, 30, shares the wisdom she’ll be taking with here. 1. Be proud of who you are. 2. Composure Counts. 3. Love is more important than marriage. 4. You have to take risks to do anything great. 5. Know how to handle your critics. 6. Say what’s on your mind. 7. Carve out rituals with those you love. [GlamourMag]

Thats all folks, have a great Friday! 

**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email editors@jewishinsider.com**

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered daily in a must-read newsletter.