Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: US & Iran to team up on Iraq; Scott Walker Eyes 2016 As He Visits Lakewood, NJ; Moise Safra Passed Away at 79; Top 20 Israeli StartUps

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

DRIVING THE DAY: For the first time in over a year, Israeli PM Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke together on the phone today: The call was initiated by Abbas who condemned both the kidnapping of three Israeli boys and the series of “Israeli violations” – a reference to Israeli military raids and arrests in the West Bank since the boys disappeared on Thursday. [Reuters] — Since Saturday, 150 people have been taken into custody as the search for the boys continues [JPost] — Kerry Points Finger at Hamas in Israelis’ kidnapping [JTA] — BuzzFeed: Who Was Behind The Kidnapping Of Three Israeli Teens, And Why Are They So Hard To Find? [BuzzFeed] — At 11:30am, PM Netanyahu will hold a meeting at the IDF central command in Jerusalem and give a statement to the press. 

HAPPENING TODAY: U.S. & Iran hold direct talks this afternoon with the EU’s Ashton present: This follows a working lunch between Ashton and Iran’s Zarif. Officially the discussion is on nuclear negotiations and not Iraq. Jerry Seib: Iran and U.S. Unite over Iraq Crisis: “The United States and Iran rarely see each other as allies. However with new uprisings in Iraq threatening the Shiite led government, installed previously by the United States, both see a reason to work together.” [WSJ]—At 2PM, The Atlantic Council hosts a panel on “How to Unwind Iran Nuclear Sanctions” with Kenneth Katzman and Cornelius Adebahr, moderated by Barbara Slavin: “With the deadline for an Iran deal fast approaching, a key element will be how to coordinate US and European sanctions relief with Iranian confidence building measures. Authors Kenneth Katzman and Cornelius Adebahr will explore US and EU sanctions, respectively, looking at the evolution of sanctions over the past decade and the most feasible path to providing meaningful relief in the event that Iran agrees to significant curbs on its nuclear program.” [AtlanticCouncil]Moise Safra, Jewish Brazilian Billionaire Banker, Passes Away At 79: “Moise Y. Safra, a member of the Safra family of financiers, who for over half a century have catered to an affluent clientele spanning from São Paulo to New York and Monte Carlo, died on Friday of a heart attack, two sources with knowledge of the situation said. He was 79. Safra was one of eight children from a family of Jewish financiers with roots in mid-19th century Aleppo, Syria. His father, Jacob Safra, moved to Brazil after World War II to continue the family tradition. Working with his father and brother, Joseph, Moise helped build a bank that brought their Middle Eastern financial expertise to the Brazilian market. At the time of his death, Moise Safra had a net worth of $3.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“Moise made news last year when he reportedly partnered with Chinese real estate billionaire Zhang Xin to acquire a 40% stake in the General Motors GM Building in Midtown Manhattan. The deal valued the property at $3.4 billion, and the two billionaires reportedly paid $700 million in cash, plus assumed debt. He also paid $810 million in 2012 for an office building in London. A community center being built for Syrian Jews on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and scheduled for completion this year will bear Moise’s name. Moise is survived by his wife, Chella Cohen Safra, and five children: Jacob, Azuri, Edmundo, Esther and Olga. His burial took place at noon Sunday at the Cemitério Israelita do Butanta in Sao Paulo.” [Bloomberg] [Reuters] [Forbes]

Cantor Talks Up Jewish Faith During Hampton Synagogue Visit: Defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor headlined a private fundraiser in the Hamptons Saturday morning that raised more than $100,000 for state Sen. Lee Zeldin, also a Jewish Republican, in NY’s 1st Congressional District. Cantor also visited a Hampton’s synagogue where he spoke before nearly 300 congregants. He did not directly address his loss Tuesday to David Brat, but he told worshippers at the synagogue that he was “optimistic for the future” and spoke of his faith. “The true test for all of us is to endure and remember our higher calling, not only as Americans but as Jews,” he said. [Newsday] “Having been through what I’ve been through this week … as Jews we have studied the Torah, we read every week in some way, shape or form, and are reminded about personal setbacks — but we are also reminded about optimism of the future, about that bigger goal, that bigger vision that we as Jews are about.. Our country, this democracy, is about action, it is about participating, it is about speaking your voice and let it be heard.” [NY Post]

— Cantor: Religion Didn’t Play A Role In Primary Defeat: “I don’t even want to impute that to anybody.. I knew that I’m going to continue to try and work with the lessons that I’ve learned from my early years in Hebrew school, learning about the Old Testament and much greater leaders than I with personal setbacks, but always focused on being optimistic about the future.” [CNN]

2016 WATCH: Scott Walker Gets Ready, Visits Orthodox Jewish Enclave of Lakewood, NJ:“Scott Walker is already thinking about how to defeat Hillary Clinton. “You gotta move it from a personality race, because if it’s a personality race, you got a third Clinton term,” the Wisconsin governor told a lunchtime crowd of about 30 last Tuesday assembled at the Lakewood, N.J., home of Rich Roberts, one of his biggest financial backers. “The only way we win that election is to transform her personality to Washington versus the rest of us. Senator Clinton is all about Washington, everything about her is all about Washington.”

“Walker is up for reelection in November — his third time on the ballot in four years, he likes to point out — but it is almost certainly his presidential ambitions that brought him to the Orthodox Jewish enclave of Lakewood, where he toured the town’s yeshiva and lunched with Roberts and his friends. Roberts has always donated to Republicans, but after selling his pharmaceutical company for $800 million in 2012, he began pouring a lot more money into the coffers of GOPers, including Walker, Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Senator Rand Paul (Ky.), and former Florida congressman Allen West.

“With Walker at his side, Roberts recounted receiving threatening e-mails after donating $50,000 to ward off Walker’s recall from the governorship. “With three days to go until the election, now I’m receiving all these threats, so what am I going to do? I wired him another $50,000,” Roberts said to laughter and applause. As Walker shook hands, posed for pictures, and spoke to the group gathered in Roberts’s dining room and an adjoining room — men and women separated by a wall, as is the Orthodox Jewish custom — the broad outlines of a campaign platform were clear. In a 20-minute speech and a question-and-answer session that followed, he touted his expansion of school vouchers to religious institutions, cited his victory on tort reform, and recounted staring down Wisconsin’s public-sector unions and the protesters who stormed the state on their behalf.” [NationalReview]

MASSACHUSETTS PRESENTS: THREE JEWISH GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES: Two Jewish Democrats were qualified on Saturday to take part in the September primary for the next governor of Massachusetts.. Steve Grossman, Massachusetts State Treasurer and former chair of AIPAC and the Democratic National Committee, and Don Berwick, former Medicare chief, were qualified for the primary ballot in voting by party delegates at the state’s Democratic convention held Saturday… A third Jewish candidate, Evan Falchuk, son of former Hadassah national president Nancy Falchuk, is running as an independent in the race to replace outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick in the fall. Massachusetts has never had a Jewish governor. [JTA]

**Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

STARTUP NATION: Business Insider – 20 Hottest Startup From Israel: “1. CyActive 2. Bizzabo 3. ironSource 4. FeeX 5. Consumer Physics 6. Checkmarx 7. Reduxio 8. Yotpo 9. BillGuard 10. CyberArk 11. Taboola 12. MyHeritage 13. Kenshoo 14. GetTaxi 15. Celeno 16. Kaiima 17. OutBrain 18. Conduit 19. Altair Semiconducter 20. Mobileye [BusinessInsider] — Hong Kong tycoon does little business in Israel but loves it just the same; predicts many more Chinese firms opening up in Israel [Haaretz] — 21 Israeli Startup Founders Share Their Advice For Entrepreneurs Relocating To Israel [FoundersGrid]

—Will Bibi’s Chinese Choo-Choo Train Save Israel and Transform the Middle East? “A bold new freight railway bypassing the Suez Canal may annoy Egypt and the United States, but that’s not the goal… The rail line’s forward progress offers a picture of the complex ways China’s involvement in the region will transform Israel’s trade, infrastructure, and regional relationships, as well as provide new security challenges and domestic debates. What seems clear is that as Israel adapts its infrastructure to increasing trade with a rising Asia, the country’s landscape—political, economic, and actual—will also be transformed.” [TabletMag]

—Trillion-Dollar Rebuff Spurs African Road Trip: “Israel’s government is leading 50 executives this week on a tour of Africa in a bid to diversify business interests amid the threat of international boycotts and irritation over new corporate taxes. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is seeking deals in the world’s fastest-growing economies for companies including defense contractor Elbit Systems Ltd., irrigation equipment maker Netafim Ltd. and billionaire Idan Ofer’s Israel Chemicals Ltd. Israeli companies and politicians are “sensitive to the issue of isolation,” said Terence Klingman, head of research at Psagot Investment House Ltd. in Tel Aviv. There’s a push to spread the export base to “countries that are more agnostic about the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations,” he said. International funds that manage more than $1 trillion have divested from Israeli companies as Palestinians have turned to economic sanctions in their campaign to end Israel’s 47-year-old occupation of the West Bank.”[Bloomberg]

NYTimes: “A Muslim Entrepreneur Follows a Kosher Model to Mainstream Success”: “What it takes for an ethno-religious food to cross over into the mainstream is, first of all, buy-in from the general public — a perception that this food has something of value that other food does not,” said Sue Fishkoff, author of the book “Kosher Nation.” That something, she continued, might be a sense, even if inaccurate, that the food is healthier, purer or of higher quality because it has been produced under religious supervision… The challenge for a halal product, then, is a foundational one. Instead of entering a marketplace that has an innocuously favorable view of a religion and its clergy, such as Judaism and Christianity enjoy in America, a brand like Saffron Road runs the risk of colliding with and even provoking Islamophobia. All of which makes its commercial success more notable, and one might say more heartening.” [NYTimes]

Paragraph from Politico article “Hobby Lobby aims for Obamacare win, Christian nation”:“In recent years, however, the Greens have begun to take on a more high-profile role. Mart Green, who runs the Mardel chain of Christian bookstores, financed a controversial documentary in 2010, “Little Town of Bethlehem.” A sympathetic portrayal of the Palestinian cause, the film has been shown on hundreds of college campuses, to the dismay of pro-Israel activists. The documentary, and others like it, “have persuaded well-meaning young people that Israel is the greatest evil of our time,” said David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel. “It’s really quite sad.” [Politico]

Survey seeks better count of North Jersey Jews: A survey of Jewish residents currently being conducted in North Jersey is expected to provide hard numbers to flesh out a decade-long trend of population growth, particularly among Orthodox Jews… “The results of the comprehensive survey are likely to demonstrate the existence of a rising Jewish population, concentrated in blossoming Orthodox enclaves around Teaneck, Bergenfield, Fair Lawn and Englewood, according to survey organizers and local rabbis.” Jason Shames, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, which is supervising the survey: “I’m expecting to see some growth, not a lot, but growth in the overall Jewish population in this area. And I’m expecting a higher Jewish demographic density in certain areas.. While the picture nationally is mixed, here we expect to have stronger Jewish connections.” [The Record] — Proposed Orthodox school up for a vote in Jackson [APP]

OBJECT LESSONS: “Working Around God: Technology, the Pace of Life, and the Shabbos Elevator”: “I live in a historically Jewish building in New York City. On most days, its two elevators service each section of this rather monolithic structure—just enough to keep up with the flow of residents going up and down. But come Friday evening, one of the cars is switched into Shabbos mode, meaning that it stops at every single floor automatically, backing the tenants up like resentful clogs in beige-yellow arteries. It does so for religious reasons, since many observant Jews avoid pressing electric buttons on Shabbat… When I first moved into this building, I found its “kosher elevator” bizarre, anachronistic, and amusing. Five years later, I still find it bizarre, but not nearly so quaint…” [AtlanticMag]

WSJ Book Review: ‘Rebbe’ by Joseph Telushkin and ‘My Rebbe’ by Adin Steinsaltz: “‘Are you Jewish?” If you’ve lived in a large American city in the past 30 years and look the part, chances are that a young Hasidic man has approached you with this question. Men who answer “yes” are given a quick tutorial in donning tefillin, ritual objects worn by Jewish men during prayer; women receive Sabbath candles with instructions to recite ancient blessings. It all seems suspiciously cultlike, but these bearded enthusiasts aren’t out to convert anyone. They are emissaries of Chabad (also known as Lubavitch), a religious movement whose goal is to expose more Jews to Judaism—unconditionally. Two new biographies of Chabad’s great 20th-century leader, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-94), help explain how one man turned a decimated sect into a world-wide presence.”[WallStreetJournal]

That’s all folks, have a great Monday!

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