Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Kickoff – Nov. 6

Top Talker – Report: Iran and Israel met for secret talks – “Iranian and Israeli diplomats, as well as those from the U.S. and Arab countries, participated in a secret meeting last month to discuss the possibility of an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East, according to The Jerusalem Post. Diplomats told the Israeli newspaper Tuesday the meeting occurred Oct. 21-22 in a hotel in Glion, Switzerland. The envoys expressed their positions, but the Israeli representatives had no direct communication with the Iranians and Arabs, the report says. An Arab diplomat told Reuters, however, “that they were there, the Israelis and Iran, is the main thing.”

–More than a dozen delegations attended the meeting along with Jaakko Laajava, Finland’s undersecretary of state, who is responsible for organizing the conference, a diplomat said in the reports. The source also described the meeting as “quite constructive,” and suggested another meeting would take place in November. “This was a completely procedural meeting,” a foreign ministry official in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. President Obama tasked Secretary of State John Kerry with navigating peace talks with the Iranians on their nuclear program. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in September he would not produce nuclear weapons and told Obama he’s open to negotiating the limits of his country’s program with the international community. During his international trip Tuesday, Kerry said in Poland the U.S. does not yet have a deal with Iran. The G-5 — the U.S., France, Britain, Russia and China, plus Germany — are slated to hold a new round of negotiations in Geneva on Thursday and Friday.” [The Hill]

A Loyal Ally to Netanyahu Moves to Center Stage as Iranian Talks Heat Up – Yuval Steinitz, a philosopher-turned-politician and former peace activist, is Netanyahu’s point person on Iran; by Ben Birnbaum: “In recent months, Steinitz, a former philosophy professor who specialized in metaphysics, has made a quiet comeback. With the Iranian nuclear issue again dominating the international agenda, Steinitz has emerged behind the scenes—and increasingly in public—as the government’s point person on the subject. Last month, he made his third American trip this year, meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and members of Congress in Washington to lobby against easing sanctions. He has also become a regular interlocutor for visiting European foreign ministers. Last week, he appeared on the BBC’s HARDtalk to share Israel’s reservations about the nuclear talks, just weeks after delivering a PowerPoint presentation on the issue to a roomful of skeptical international journalists at the King David Hotel. Now advisers close to Netanyahu say he’s the leading candidate to replace Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister if a Jerusalem court finds Lieberman guilty of political corruption — a ruling expected on Wednesday. Either way, Steinitz is back in the room.” [TabletMag]

Iranian Minister Says Nuclear Deal Is Possible This Week: “Two days before negotiations resume in Geneva between Iran and the United States and other Western powers aimed at ending a fight over the disputed Iranian nuclear program, the country’s foreign minister sounded an optimistic note on Tuesday, saying a deal was possible as soon as this week. “I believe it is even possible to reach that agreement this week,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with France 24, a major television network here, before meeting with the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius.” [NYTimes]

BuzzFeed – ADL Leader Supports Congressional Push For New Iran Sanctions But WOn’t Lobby For It Himself: “Anti-Defamation League chairman Abe Foxman supports a push in Congress for heavier Iran sanctions even though he won’t personally lobby for them right now, he told BuzzFeed on Tuesday. Foxman reiterated that he had agreed to pause his organization’s push for new sanctions but said, “It’s a very nuanced position. I still believe that sanctions work and will continue to work and that you should not roll back the sanctions. Whether or not this month we need to go forward, that’s a judgment question.” “If nothing happens” in the Geneva talks, Foxman said, “we’ll be out there very strong advocating for additional sanctions.” [BuzzFeed]

Adam Garfinkle OpEd – The Triangle Connecting the U.S., Israel, and American Jewry May Be Coming Apart – For decades, shared interests kept all three players in a mutually beneficial relationship, but its end might not be such a bad thing: “American Jewry is in for a real shock: The “special relationship” between the United States and Israel is fast eroding. The strategic, cultural, and demographic alignments that gave rise to and sustained for more than half a century the special relationship between the United States and Israel are all changing. These changes have independent sources, and the relevant dynamics are playing out in different ways and at different rates. But make no mistake: They are connected to and influence one another.” [TabletMag]

JTA – Whither the Jewish macher? Upstarts increasingly setting Jewish agenda: “From matters of state to determinations of what should and should not offend Jews, the major Jewish organizations have been forced to contend in recent years with individuals or small activist groups that increasingly determine which issues dominate the communal agenda. Recent controversies over religious freedom in the military and American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have been driven not by the country’s largest Jewish groups but by individuals who bypass traditional channels of Jewish advocacy.” [JTA]

Obama Should Have Listened to the Emanuel Brothers About Obamacare: “Rahm pushed the president to delay health care reform; Ezekiel warned the White House couldn’t handle the implementation.” [ChicagoMag]

Avi Schick OpEd – State AGs in the Dock: Are state attorneys general about to be slapped down at the Supreme Court? [Slate]

New York Town Divided as Prayer Case Heads to Supreme Court: “Before all of those mundane matters, however, there was one considerably more controversial item on the agenda: a moment of prayer, a practice that has been a religious aperitif to the town’s civic business for more than a decade. But that could soon change. On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether those prayers — almost always delivered by Christian clergy members to the assembled audience — violate the First Amendment clause that prohibits the establishment of religion. The court’s ruling, expected next June, could be one of the most significant church-state decisions in 30 years, and could affect the nature of such invocations in municipal meetings nationwide.” [NYTimes]

Senator Marco Rubio – Why I believe legislative prayer is constitutional expression of religious freedom: “Wednesday morning, I plan to attend oral arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States for the case of Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway. There, I’ll observe what will be an important moment in our country’s long tradition of protecting religious liberty. The Town of Greece is the latest party to be thrust into the middle of our country’s debate over the right to public religious expression, and all it did to deserve this was allow prayer before sessions of its town council.” [FoxNews]

German Officials Provide Details on Looted Art: “It is almost certainly the biggest trove of missing 20th-century European art discovered since the end of World War II, and the first glimpse of it on Tuesday brought astonishment but also anger and the early stirrings of what will likely be a prolonged battle over who owns the works. For the first time, German authorities described how they discovered 1,400 or so works during a routine tax investigation, including ones by Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and a host of other masters. Some were previously not known to have existed. Others appear to have disappeared around the time the Nazis raided German museums and public collections in the late 1930s to confiscate works they classified as “degenerate.” The heirs of Jewish and other German collectors whose missing artworks may be among those discovered minced few words, accusing the Germans of failing to live up to the spirit of the 1998 Washington accords on restituting confiscated art or works that sellers were forced to give up for rock-bottom prices in order to flee Nazi Germany.” [NYTimes]

StartUp Nation

Google’s Waze Acquisition Clears FTC Hurdle: “Google Inc.’s $1 billion acquisition of Waze, the Israeli maker of mapping apps, will not be challenged by the Federal Trade Commission, the company said Tuesday. Google bought Waze in June in what was widely seen as a move to boost the Internet giant’s already strong position in mapping. In August, Google said users of Google Maps would be able to get real-time traffic information from Waze, which offers reports on traffic and road conditions from a community of users.” [Wall Street Journal]

SodaStream Plans to Come Back and Squirt Coke, Pepsi in Super Bowl: “Last year SodaStream got stymied in its efforts to take direct aim at Coke and Pepsi with an ad during the Super Bowl. But this year the Israeli startup has promised to come right back at the soft-drink giants with an in-your-face spot during the next Big Game on February 2 at Met Life Stadium. The difference, SodaStream International CEO Daniel Birnbaum told Advertising Age, is going to be that Fox is airing this year’s telecast while CBS is the network that denied SodaStream’s efforts to air an ad last year depicting exploding Coke and Pepsi bottles to dramatize SodaStream’s environmental pitch about “saving” bottles.” [brandChannel]

Business Briefs

Apollo Said to Seek Increasing Fund Size to $17.5 Billion: “Apollo Global Management LLC (APO), the private-equity firm run by Leon Black, is seeking permission from investors to raise the limit on its new buyout fund to $17.5 billion to meet client demand, according to three people familiar with the matter. Apollo, which had initially sought to cap Apollo Investment Fund VIII LP at $15 billion, is trying to increase the amount after investors expressed interest in putting in as much as $20 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the New York-based firm’s plans are private.” [Bloomberg]

Sternlicht on Quantitative Easing: It’s a heroin addiction — The Federal Reserve should start tapering its massive bond-buying immediately, because the program is creating unhealthy asset inflation, real estate mogul and investor Barry Sternlicht told CNBC on Tuesday. “All my friends who are money managers,” he said, “they’re much closer to the sell button than they ever were before,” especially, since the S&P 500 Index has gained about 24 percent so far this year.” [CNBC]

Obamacare & the technological solution: Joshua Kushner, Principal, Thrive Capital, talks about how he decides which companies to invest in and his work with “Oscar,” his own foray into the health care business.” [Yahoo Finance]

Vikings’ Wilf should pay $15 million in attorney fees in N.J. case, arbitrator says: “An arbitrator recommended Tuesday that Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf pay more than $15 million in attorney’s fees to former business partners they defrauded in a failed New Jersey real-estate venture that could end up costing the Vikings executives about $100 million. Special master Stephen Orlofsky agreed with plaintiffs Ada Reichmann and Josef Halpern that the Wilfs should pay full court costs in addition to $84.5 million in damages they were awarded in connection with a 21-year-old New Jersey lawsuit.

–Orlofsky, a former U.S. district judge, was assigned to determine whether the Wilfs were liable for litigation costs the sides incurred in the case before Morris County Judge Deanne Wilson, who ruled in August that the Vikings executives had committed fraud and violated New Jersey’s civil racketeering laws. “Plaintiffs prevailed on virtually every issue at trial, obtained an overwhelmingly favorable result, and should be awarded the vast majority of the attorneys’ fees and costs that they seek,” Orlofsky wrote in a 132-page report obtained by the Pioneer Press. Wilson is scheduled to hear arguments about Orlofsky’s report Dec. 12.” [Pioneer Press]

Jewish Billionaire Braman gets big Bank of America loan: “Miami billionaire Norman Braman’s auto dealership received a $37.5 million mortgage from Bank of America to expand. The loan to 2060 Biscayne Boulevard LLC will allow the Braman BMW dealership on the site to begin its expansion with a seven-story, 100,000-square-foot showroom and parking garage.” [South Florida Business Journal]

Rosen sees new future for pre-war NYC buildings: “Aby Rosen’s RFR is in a rare position — it has two entire vacant properties on the rental market and 75 percent of a third. The buildings are 285 Madison Ave. at East 40th Street, the former Y&R tower which RFR bought with partner Greek Oak Real Estate last year for $190 million; 350 Madison Ave. near East 45th, which it bought in March for $261.5 million; and 90 Fifth Ave., a building which Rosen had planned to sell until longtime tenant Forbes defaulted on its lease, giving him the chance to “re-imagine” it. Both 285 Madison (530,000 square feet) and 90 Fifth (137,000 square feet) are vacant, while about 75 percent of 350 Madison’s 400,000 feet are up for grabs — around 967,000 square feet. Rosen sees the simultaneous availabilities as a great opportunity. “We consider it an advantage,” Rosen said, giving him the chance to “re-imagine” the pre-war buildings with nearly $150 million in total capital improvements. They’re not only to modernize the properties with commonplace lobby and infrastructure upgrades, but to adapt floor plates to tap into the swelling market for more flexible office space. Rosen’s faith in the three addresses lies in the growth of tech, media, entertainment and creative firms proliferating in Midtown South and increasingly drawn to Midtown itself.” [NYPost]

Something to Talk About: How Angella Nazarian’s First “Women A.R.E.” Conference Came to Be: “Angella Nazarian wound up in Los Angeles on a fluke. At age 11, while on a trip to visit her brothers, who were studying here, the Islamic Revolution broke out in her native Iran. She chose to remain in L.A. rather than return to a country in turmoil. She’s settled in nicely. She married into a prominent Iranian Jewish family: Her brother-in-law Sam Nazarian founded SBE, which owns an assortment of nightclubs and restaurants along with hotels, including the SLS at Beverly Hills. And she helps run the family’s charitable foundation.” [LA Mag]

Dessert – J Soho (Formerly Known as “Jezebel”) to Close This Week: “The posh downtown restaurant formerly known as Jezebel, “J Soho” or “The J”, is closing its doors later this week (after Thursday). This may not come at a shock to those who have read their Yelp reviews and to many who have recently eaten there. While I did have a positive experience back in January, there were many who didn’t share that experience.  The restaurant will reopen as a non-kosher entity after its close.

–While its concept was definitely unique for the kosher world: the decor, bar (w/sommelier), menu items, etc., it did not fully catch on with the orthodox Jewish community and hit initial snags with problem chefs and a kosher supervision that was not as widely held as they would have liked. The prices were also a bit of a concern for most who visited the restaurant. They removed the name Jezebel after switching kosher certifying agencies to the OU earlier this year. The art from the restaurant was definitely unique and different. The decor was definitely a highlight of the quirky downtown restaurant. Perhaps as a sign of what was to come, last week while hosting an event for ~100 kosher food writers and professionals (us included), the restaurant sent out lackluster dishes that disappointed most in attendance.” [YeahThatsKosher]

Huffington Post – 50 Stunning Synagogues From Around The World (Photos): [HuffPost]

YouTube – The Substance of Hasidic Style: “Discover the connection between the style and lifestyle of Hasidic Jews in StyleLikeU’s Uniform feature on the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.” [YouTube] [HuffPostLive]

Introducing The Israel App: A Smarter Israel Experience – [YouTube]

Thats all folks, have a great Wednesday! 

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

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