Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Kickoff

New Yorker Mag First Look – Letter From Budapest – Anti-Semite and Jew, The Double Life of a Hungarian Politician: “The day was chilly but clear, the crowd energetic. Some were in quasi-military uniform, others in hooded sweatshirts emblazoned with patriotic symbols. Dozens of flags fluttered in the breeze. The red-white-and-green tricolor of modern Hungary was prominent, but so was a flag with red and white stripes, remembered by most Hungarians as the symbol of the wartime Fascists. There were hundreds of banners bearing the word “Jobbik,” shorthand for Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom—Movement for a Better Hungary—the name of Hungary’s far-right political party.

–Jobbik’s supporters had gathered outside the offices of the European Commission in Budapest to denounce the European Union. Like many other Euroskeptic parties, Jobbik objects to the multinational European project, and to criticisms of any sort from Brussels. Unlike others, Jobbik dresses up its attacks on Europe with theatrics. This demonstration, in January, 2012, was no exception. Gábor Vona, the Party’s photogenic young leader, stood in front of a giant slogan, “Shall We Be Members, or Shall We Be Free?”—a pun on a famous line by Sándor Petőfi, the great poet of Hungary’s 1848 revolution, “Shall we be slaves or shall we be free?”—and called for Hungary’s withdrawal from Europe. Another Jobbik leader, Előd Novák, dressed in what appeared to be a black Mao jacket, doused a European Union flag with lighter fluid and set it on fire. As the crowd shouted “Let it burn!,” a Jobbik member of parliament stamped on the flag. “Perish, European Union!” he cried. . . .

​—Blatant anti-Semitism is a risky electoral strategy—the majority of Hungarians would not support it—and so Jobbik’s leaders deny that they are anti-Semitic. But they drop hints that their voters understand. Jobbik loudly and frequently criticizes Israel, and has ostentatiously invited Iranian businessmen to Budapest to meet with party leaders. In 2010, Vona and Szegedi held a rally around a statue of Mihaly Karolyi, a Roman Catholic aristocrat who was Hungary’s Prime Minister during the First World War. In an almost avant-garde mashup of symbols, they put a kippah on the statue’s head and a sign in his arms that read, “I am responsible for Trianon” — implying that the peace treaty signed in 1920 in Trianon, which diminished Hungary’s territory by two-thirds, was the fault of the Jews.” [New Yorker]

Transition – Peter Beinart leaving the Daily Beast for The Atlantic and Haaretz; Open Zion blog to be shut down: “Peter Beinart, the liberal Jewish blogger, is leaving The Daily Beast for The Atlantic Media Company, where he will serve as contributing editor for both The Atlantic and National Journal. Beinart will also join the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as a senior columnist. Beinart, a former New Republic editor, joined the Daily Beast in November 2008 and in 2012 launched “Zion Square” — later changed to “Open Zion” — a blog dedicated to “an open and unafraid conversation about Israel, Palestine, and the Jewish future.” Formerly a fixture on the AIPAC speaking circuit, he has in recent years become a hero on the Israeli left — and a pariah on the right — for advocating against Israeli settlements and in support of a two-state solution.” [Politico]

​U.N. Rights Council’s Israel Embarrassment: “The goals of the United Nations Human Rights Council are laudatory: a non-partisan forum designed to promote the highest levels of human rights adherence by nations around the world. Unfortunately, the current council fails to perform its mission as it has descended into concerning itself more with local politics and decades old ideological conflicts. Due to the council’s disproportionate condemnation of Israeli policies, the body loses legitimacy to honestly judge human rights performance and weakens the stature of the United Nations around the world.

–After an 18-month boycott, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended his country’s boycott of the council by participating in the country’s annual review earlier this week. In Iran’s vicious attack on Israel’s record, its U.N. representative called Israel the “regime” and refused to acknowledge the name Israel even when interrupted by the Israeli official asking him which regime he was discussing. If Iran is not willing to recognize another UN member state’s right to exist for political purposes, it should not sit on the UNHRC and judge Israel’s performance as Iran is clearly biased. The representative from the non-democratically elected Omani regime called for all Palestinian prisoners be released from Israeli jails. This is despite many of the Palestinian prisoners are incarcerated for engaging in brutal terror attacks killing Holocaust survivors, women, and children in cafés and buses.

–No other country would ever be asked to release all of its prisoners, especially those who have committed such horrible atrocities. Possibly, the most absurd rebuke came from Syria who called for all “Syrian citizens” living in the Israeli Golan Heights to be permitted to visit their families in Syria. The hypocrisy of a nation whose leader has murdered tens of thousands of his own people and used chemical weapons on innocent civilians is unspeakable. Only at the U.N. would such a spectacle of such repressive regimes criticizing Israel be tolerated. Regrettably, the human rights council has failed in its mission to protect human rights by turning the council into a political pawn. While Israel should be lauded for attending this biased forum, significant changes must be made lest the council become a laughingstock of the world.” [Forward]

Israel’s Iran Mindmeld – thinks US will make ‘reversible gestures’ to Iran: With a further round of nuclear talks between world powers and Iran set to take place in Geneva later this week, Israeli officials think that the U.S. is prepared to offer “reversible gestures” to Iran. [Israel Hayom]

Report – White House Dividing Pro-Israel Leaders on Nuclear Iran: “Pro-Israel leaders on Monday expressed alarm over what they characterized as the Obama administration’s efforts to sow division among Jewish leaders in order to advance a policy that they say would permit Iran to cross the nuclear threshold. Rifts emerged between the leaders of four top Jewish groups over the weekend following an “intense” meeting last week with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and other top officials at the White House, according to several insiders.” [Free Beacon]

Max Fisher asks – Would the world blame Israel if Iranian nuclear talks fail? [Washington Post]

From Cold War to Cold Peace? Ex-Mossad Chief Sees Possible Opening: “I come away from this with a sense of possibility, by no means a certainty, that there might be an opening, in which one can turn around the thorniest problem of all: the deep-seated rejection of Israel by the current regime in Iran,” Efraim Halevy, former head of the Israeli intelligence service the Mossad, told Al-Monitor in interviews on the sidelines of a conference on Middle East security issues in Istanbul this week convened by the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs. “This will not be obtained overnight.”

–“If the Iranians think straight, ..they must realize it is inconceivable that they [would be] able to change the basics of the relationship between Iran and the U.S.whilst maintaining the level of denial and enmity they now have to Israel,” said Halevy, who conducted secret negotiations with Jordan’s King Hussein that led to the historic 1994 peace treaty between the two countries.” [Al Monitor]

U.S. to propose Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in January, senior MK tells Haaretz: Meretz chairman Zahava Gal-On said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of this during their seven-hour meeting in Rome two weeks ago. Kerry is due to arrive in Israel Tuesday night and will meet Wednesday with Netanyahu and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. [Haaretz]

A Ultra-Progressive’s Criticism of Max Blumenthal’s New Anti-Israel Book – “it gives Islamists a pass”: “Mr. Blumenthal can publish books exposing Israel’s dark side forever, but jihadists still want to chop off his head in the back alleys of Mogadishu, Karachi or Damascus. Why? Because he’s an American and a Jew. Mr. Blumenthal visited Egypt, but he hasn’t seen enough of the region. If he had, he might appreciate why many Egyptians rejoiced at the military takeover this summer, its shutdown of the Brotherhood and a proposed constitution banning religious political parties.

–Mr. Blumenthal should spend the next four years in Saudi Arabia, which has been spending billions building extremist mosques and networks globally since before Mr. Blumenthal was born. He will need a second passport without the Israeli stamp to do it, but he should put in some time in countries where blasphemers are jailed (or worse), free speech is nonexistent and women live like chattel under the odious Shariah laws—all supported by our petrodollars. Where is the progressive writer who will brave the “Islamophobia” label and take a hard look at the movement’s anti-democratic tendencies, homophobia, medieval misogyny? Mr. Blumenthal won’t step over that line, because, in his set, to do so is to stand with Pam Geller and the Koran burners in Florida. Inside the salons and universities at the heart of the American liberal establishment—Mr. Blumenthal’s natural habitat—progressives accommodate radical Islam as a badge of tolerance.” [New York Observer]

Report: Israel Failed to Activate Top Secret System Ahead of Yom Kippur War – “Israel’s military intelligence chief during the 1973 Yom Kippur War rejected repeated requests from an aide to activate a top secret warning system that might have foiled the surprise Arab attack, according to newly declassified documents from Israel’s state archives.” [Free Beacon]


SAC to Plead Guilty and Pay $1.2 Billion for Insider Trading: “With an admission that caps a decade-long investigation, SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund owned by Steven A. Cohen, will become the first large Wall Street company in a generation to confess to criminal conduct.” [NYTimes]

​Wilfs score partial victory as judge declines to let new company run apartment complex: “After several consecutive losses in the lawsuit filed over revenues from a garden apartment complex in Montville, Minnesota Vikings owner Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf and two relatives scored a partial victory today. A Superior Court judge in Morristown announced a compromise ruling in the dispute over who will temporarily manage the 764-unit Rachel Gardens, where Wilf, his brother and cousin were found to have systematically cheated two partners for more than 20 years. Judge Deanne Wilson refused to appoint an independent management company sought by partners and siblings Josef Halpern of Brooklyn and Ada Reichmann of Toronto to temporarily run the complex.

–It was a disappointment for the brother and sister, who in September were awarded $84.5 million in damages by Wilson in their lawsuit against the Wilfs. Wilson ruled that the Wilfs’ Short Hills real estate management office may continue to direct the finances of Rachel Gardens, but the partners’ accountant must have “oversight” of financial transactions and full access to any documents he requests, whenever he “reasonably” wants them. Under Wilson’s main ruling issued in August, the partnership is to be dissolved and the complex is to be sold. However, the Wilfs will continue to direct the finances on a temporary basis while they appeal Wilson’s decision, a process that their lead attorney, Sheppard Guryan, estimated will take “at least two years” in a lawsuit that is already 21 years old. “I know it’s not what you want,” Wilson said to both sides. But she pointed out that her ruling “deals with the issues that each side has.” Attorneys for Halpern and Reichmann had requested that Lincoln Property Co., a major, national realty company, be appointed as temporary manager of the complex. “It doesn’t seem right that the people who falsified records should continue to control the money,” said Reichmann’s attorney, Price Gielen.” [Star Ledger]

Will Home Building Be Barry Sternlicht’s Next ‘W Hotel’? – “Real estate mogul Barry Sternlicht has a track record of ruffling feathers in the real estate industry with new ideas and aggressive deal-making. Will he do the same in home-building? And today, he’s helped create a top 10 largest homebuilder in the nation. Irvine, Calif.-based TRI, of which Sternlicht’s Greenwich, Connecticut-based Starwood Capital owns 38 percent, announced today it would purchase another publicly-traded builder Weyerhaeuser. The combined company will control 30,000 lots around the nation, with strongholds in California, Colorado and Texas. Before today, TRI had 2,700.” [UpStart]

Argentina WIns Stay Extension in Hedge Fund Fight: “A federal appeals court gave Argentina a rare legal victory in its battle with Elliott Management and other hedge-fund holdouts from its 2001 default. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which has twice ordered the country to pay the holdouts or default on the new bonds it issued to creditors that accepted its restructuring, refused to lift its stay of those orders. The court said that the stay would remain in place to allow Argentina to make a second appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last month decided not to hear its case.” [FINalternatives]

Emblaze-Danker group offers to buy Israel’s IDB Development: An investment group led by mobile technology firm Emblaze has offered to buy up to 100 percent of debt-ridden conglomerate IDB Development. Emblaze, controlled by Ukrainian businessman Alexander Granovsky, along with IDB Chairman Nochi Dankner and two other investors would inject 1.55 billion shekels ($438 million) into IDB – 900 million of which would be paid at the closing, IDB said in a statement on Sunday. [Reuters]

StartUp Nation – OurCrowd signs strategic agreement with GE Ventures: “Equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd has closed a strategic co-investment partnership with GE Ventures, the corporate venture capital unit of GE. Under the agreement, GE Ventures will have the right to co-invest with OurCrowd in select early stage companies in the areas of energy, healthcare, software and advanced manufacturing. OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said, “GE brings unequalled expertise and experience in a broad range of technologies and businesses that will add real value to our portfolio companies and to our investor community. To partner with a company of GE’s size and stature will allow OurCrowd to help break new ground in innovation finance.” [Globes]

Jerusalem Venture Partners closes 7th fund worth $120M: “JVP was founded in 1993 by Erel Margalit. Since his days at the helm more than half the firms fund’s have broken the $100M value mark, the big one being fund #4 which closed at over $400M. In total, JVP has managed over $1B in investment capital to date (including the current fund). Notable successes coming out of the previous 6 funds include QlikTech, XtremIO, CyOptics, Netro Corp, Chromatis Networks, Precise Software and Cogent Communications. All in all the firm is responsible for helping to build over 95 companies, 26 of those posting some of the most memorable exits in Israel’s startup history with 15 by way of M&A and 11  by way of NASDAQ IPO. Total transaction value for the 26 exceeds $17B.” [GeekTime]

Dessert – Starbucks’ Tea Spin-off Will Be Kosher, Just Waiting for ‘Rabbi to Bless It’: “Having conquered coffee, Starbucks is now moving into tea. The coffee giant’s newest venture, Teavana, launched with a tea bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he doesn’t expect the new venture to be as big as the coffeehouse chain (“tea lacks the major caffeine count,” he explains). But he is hoping to draw in kashrut-keeping consumers. “It will be [kosher]. It hasn’t been certified,” Schultz told Forbes. “No rabbi has come in to bless it yet!” It looks like Schultz, who is Jewish, has fallen prey to the common misconception that kosher status is conveyed via a blessing. But if Teavana is to succeed by peddling its drinks at $4.95 a cup, it will need the blessing of luxury tea fans.” [Tea News Direct]

Thats all folks, have a great Tuesday! 

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