Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: New Yorker on AIPAC | Uber Israel Debut Today | Roger Zakheim Profile | Oren Loves The Smell Of Cows | Israel Advances to EuroBasket

FIRST LOOK: “Friends of Israel: The lobbying group AIPAC has consistently fought the Obama Administration on policy. Is it now losing influence?” by Connie Bruck in the New Yorker: “AIPAC has more than a hundred thousand members, a network of seventeen regional offices, and a vast pool of donors. The lobby does not raise funds directly. Its members do, and the amount of money they channel to political candidates is difficult to track. But everybody in Congress recognizes its influence in elections, and the effect is evident…”

—IRON DOME: “The Senate, preparing for its August recess, hastened to vote on the Iron Dome funding. At first, the appropriation was bundled into an emergency bill that also included money to address the underage refugees flooding across the Mexican border. But, with only a few days left before the break began, that bill got mired in a partisan fight. Harry Reid tried to package Iron Dome with money for fighting wildfires, and then offered it by itself; both efforts failed, stopped largely by budget hawks. “If you can’t get it done the night before recess, you bemoan the fact that you couldn’t get it done, and everybody goes home,” a congressional staffer said. Instead, Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, the Republican leader, decided to stay over, even if it meant missing an event at home. The next morning, with the halls of the Senate all but empty, an unusual session was convened so that McConnell and Reid could try again to pass the bill; Tim Kaine was also there, along with the Republicans John McCain andLindsey Graham. “There were five senators present and literally no one else!” the staffer said. “They reintroduced it and passed it. This was one of the more amazing feats, for AIPAC.”

—CHALLENGES: AIPAC’s spokesman, Marshall Wittmann, said that the lobby had no loyalty to any political party, in Israel or in the U.S., and that to suggest otherwise was a “malicious mischaracterization.” Instead, he said, “we are a bipartisan organization of Americans who exercise our constitutional right to lobby the government.” For AIPAC, whose stated mission is to improve relations between the U.S. and Israel, it is crucial to appeal across the political spectrum. In recent years, though, Israel has become an increasingly divisive issue among the American public… This difference represents a schism among American Jews—AIPAC’s vital core. For decades, the Jewish community was generally united in its support for Israel. Today, a growing number of American Jews, though still devoted to Israel, struggle with the lack of progress toward peace with the Palestinians. Many feel that AIPAC does not speak for them.”

—ON IRAN TALKS: “Obama’s aides were alarmed by the possibility that AIPAC might endorse new sanctions legislation. They invited Howard Kohr, the group’s chief executive officer, and officials from other prominent Jewish organizations to briefings at the White House. Members of the Administration’s negotiating team, together with State Department officials, walked them through the issues. “We said, ‘We know you guys are going to take a tough line on these negotiations, but stay inside the tent and work with us,’ ” a senior Administration official recalled. “We told them directly that a sanctions bill would blow up the negotiations—the Iranians would walk away from the table. They said, ‘This bill is to strengthen your hand in diplomacy.’ We kept saying, ‘It doesn’t strengthen our hand in diplomacy. Why do you know better than we do what strengthens our hand? Nobody involved in the diplomacy thinks that. ’ ”

—TENSION: “AIPAC worked to mobilize its friends in Congress. Mark Kirk, a Republican senator from Illinois and a major beneficiary of AIPAC-related funding, began pressing to pass a new sanctions bill. “He was saying, ‘We’re in negotiations with a wolf in sheep’s clothing!’ ” a former Senate aide recalled. The bill, co-sponsored by Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, was drafted with considerable input from AIPAC. This was the first time in decades that the lobby had challenged the sitting U.S. President so overtly. The Obama Administration was furious. “It’s one thing to disagree on some aspect of the peace process, on things that are tough for Israel to do,” the senior Administration official told me. “But this is American foreign policy that they were seeking to essentially derail. There was no other logic to it than ending the negotiations, and the gravity of that was shocking.”

—THREAT FROM THE RIGHT: “Ironically, there is also a threat to AIPAC from the right. Many American conservatives were enraged by the perception that AIPAC had surrendered in the fight for Iran sanctions… For AIPAC’s most severe conservative critics, its attempts to occupy a diminishing sliver of middle ground are unacceptable. Recently, Sheldon Adelson, who funded AIPAC’s new office building a few years ago, has been increasing his support for the right-wing Zionist Organization of America… Several people affiliated with the right-wing Jewish movement told me that significant donors are talking about founding a new organization.” [NewYorker]

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Palestinian President Prepares New UN Appeal” by Mohammed Daraghmeh and Ibrahim Barzak: President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to unveil his proposal as part of a “day after” plan following the current war in the Gaza Strip, likely at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership on Tuesday, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not yet been made public. He declined to elaborate, saying only that he would tell the United Nations in an address next month that the Palestinians want independence immediately. “Otherwise, this opportunity will be lost forever,” he said. An aide to Abbas said the plan would include an appeal to the Security Council, whose resolutions are legally binding, to call for an end to Israel’s occupation of lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war.” [AP]

–Netanyahu Signals Expansion of Air Attacks in Gaza: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the battle with Hamas is likely to drag on into September and signaled that Israel plans to expand air attacks in civilian areas, an indication that the country is prepared for a war of attrition. Speaking hours after the funeral for an Israeli child killed in a mortar attack on Friday, the Israeli leader called on Gazans to immediately evacuate areas with militant activity nearby.” [WSJ]

MUST WATCH: Ambassador Michael Oren talked about his love for the smell of cows at a JUF Chicago dinner on Thursday night [YouTube]

RISING STAR: “Roger Zakheim: Springing to America’s Defense: …You Should Care Because this Beltway kid is determined to build a stronger America” by Tracy Moran:“Family debates over supper lead to indigestion for most, but they gave Roger Zakheim a taste for civic duty and public policy. “I grew up in a home where if you were agreeing with whoever was at the table with you, that didn’t really earn respect,” the 36-year-old D.C.-based lawyer says. He’s the son of Dov Zakheim, a former Reagan and George W. Bush defense official, so he’s had his fair share of family debates. Roger has spent the better part of the last decade working for the U.S. House Armed Services Committee (HASC), and he was co-chair of the Romney for President Defense Working Group, where he helped set the candidate’s defense and national security priorities. He’d likely be a defense official in any future GOP administration, and while “Roger Zakheim” is not a household name yet, he’s one of the people who can shape events in Washington as much as better-known politicians… Much like the half-court shot he made as a junior to win a high school basketball game in Silver Spring, Maryland, Roger is full of surprises. He’s a modern Orthodox Jew with a hankering for country music; his wife, Tamar, has been warned: “If I have a midlife crisis, you’ll know it if I’m in my Ford F-150.” [Ozy]

TOP TALKER: “Time retracts IDF organ harvesting allegation” – JTA: “Time magazine retracted allegations that Israeli soldiers harvested and sold Palestinian organs. On Sunday, the magazine deleted the allegations from a two-minute video on its website about the Israel Defense Forces and added a correction, writing at the end, “Correction: The original version of this video cited a contested allegation in a 2009 Swedish newspaper report as fact. The allegation has been removed from the video.” [ToI] — Related: “The Matter of Time: What should a magazine company be now? The most storied one in America has to come up with an answer fast” [NYMag]

WSJ EDITORIAL: “What Hamas Does to Palestinian Moderates” – “One of the myths about the Middle East is that there would be peace if only Israel courted Palestinian moderates. This might be possible if any Palestinian who harbored such a thought wasn’t summarily executed… The practice goes back to the days of the British mandate when the mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini killed Palestinians open to a Jewish presence. During the anti-Israel uprisings in the 1980s, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction that still rules the West Bank murdered some 800 Palestinians for alleged collaboration. The Palestinians will never have peace as long as they keep murdering anyone who wants it.” [WSJ]

WHY IS QATAR STILL HOSTING THE WORLD CUP?: “Club Med for Terrorists” by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, in the New York Times: “This hasn’t stopped the Persian Gulf monarchy from serving as a Club Med for terrorists. It harbors leading Islamist radicals like the spiritual leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a religious fatwa endorsing suicide attacks, and the Doha-based history professor Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, whom the United States Department of Treasury has named as a “terrorist financier” for Al Qaeda. Qatar also funds a life of luxury for Khaled Meshal, the fugitive leader of Hamas… It is time for the world to wake up and smell the gas fumes. Qatar has spared no cost to dress up its country as a liberal, progressive society, yet at its core, the micro monarchy is aggressively financing radical Islamist movements. In light of the emirate’s unabashed support for terrorism, one has to question FIFA’s decision to reward Qatar with the 2022 World Cup… Given Qatar’s considerable affluence and influence, this is an uncomfortable prospect for many Western nations, yet they must recognize that Qatar is not a part of the solution but a significant part of the problem. To bring about a sustained calm, the message to Qatar should be clear: Stop financing Hamas.” [NYTimes] — “Qatar Denies Funding Extremist Islamic State Group” [AP]

2016 WATCH: Sen. Rand Paul Calls Hillary A ‘War Hawk’: “In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Kentucky Republican predicted a “transformational election” if the Democrats nominate “a war hawk like Hillary Clinton.”… “I think that’s what scares the Democrats the most, is that in a general election, were I to run, there’s gonna be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say, `You know what? We are tired of war,'” Paul said. “We’re worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war, because she’s so gung-ho.” [AP]

“The Christie-Giuliani Connections: Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani Share More Than a Party Affiliation” by Heather Haddon: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has had a lot in common with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for a long time—two Northeast Republicans known for their tough talk, Italian-American roots and taste for the national spotlight. Now, as Mr. Christie considers a run for president in 2016, other similarities have emerged. They share political aides and have drawn support from the same donors. The governor could contemplate a path to the White House not unlike Mr. Giuliani’s 2008 attempt, although with the prospect of a different outcome. [WSJ] Jewish Angle:Giuliani was a favorite of many pro-Israel donors including, as mentioned in the article, Paul Singer.

**Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us 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: “Embattled Uber Takes Its Next Fight to Israel” by Yaacov Benmeleh:“Doing business in Israel this summer has involved periodic trips to bomb shelters, among other war-related precautions, but Uber has soldiered on. The global car-booking company plans to introduce its service in Tel Aviv today… Regulation isn’t likely to be Uber’s biggest obstacle in Tel Aviv, Israel’s financial and technological hub. The company will have to contend with GetTaxi on its home turf. The Tel Aviv-based startup raised $150 million in funding two weeks ago, and its cab-hailing app is practically ubiquitous in Israel. The country is home to 20 of the two-dozen cities in which GetTaxi operates.”[Bloomberg] — “Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak flies into Israel for the first time as rockets fly by” [ToI]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Hasidic village sues to block Orange County casino” – AP: “The lawsuit filed by the village of Kiryas Joel in Orange County alleges that officials in two nearby communities offered support for the project without analyzing the impact it would have on the village. The lawsuit says the casino would burden the local sewer system and generate an “undesirable” level of traffic and other negative impacts… Cordish Companies and Penn National Gaming are the developers behind the proposal, one of several competing for an upstate casino license.” [WSJ] — “Family of Missing Millionaire Battles Over Estate” [CBS] — Profile: “Michael Bloomberg’s Harder Sell” [NYTimes] — “CNN Chief Jeff Zucker: News operation will do less with less” [AJC]

INFIGHTING: “Jewish Agency, Diaspora Ministry spat may turn off philanthropists” by Sam Sokol: “Government funding for projects is dependent on Diaspora Jewry matching the Israeli outlay by a 2:1 ratio, necessitating a large fund-raising effort. Such an effort may be placed in jeopardy by the current infighting, according to philanthropist Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Philanthropists are looking for impact, not involvement in an initiative plagued by political infighting. I think the political maneuvering between JAFI and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs spells doom for this initiative. News of the political dispute surrounding the initiative will drive away any philanthropists who were seriously considering investing in it.” [JPost]

SPOTTED: Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in a suit and tie at the Chabad of Southampton’s 13th Annual Dinner and Silent Auction, at the home of Aela and Don Morgan, honoring Irwin Simon.

AP: “De Rothschild, Grande Dame of Wine, Dies at 80” by Jamey Keaten: “In a 1999 interview with French newspaper Liberation, she said: “When your name is Rothschild, everyone thinks you had an easy childhood.” Hers – during World War II – was not. Her father, a scion of the fabulously wealthy Jewish banking family, fled to England to join Gen. Charles de Gaulle’s expatriate administration. She stayed behind with her mother Elisabeth, who believed that her Catholic religion would spare her deportation. But in 1944, just two months before the Allies liberated Paris, the Nazis deported her mother to Ravensbrueck, Germany, where she died the next year. De Rothschild, in her comments to Liberation, recalled that she herself was spared deportation only because one German officer thought of his own daughter, who was about the same age, when he saw her.” [AP]

HOLLYWOOD: “More Than 190 Hollywood Notables Sign Pro-Israel Statement Criticizing Hamas” – THR: “A pro-Israel activist organization is circulating a list of at least 190 names of high-profile Hollywood industry figures — studio heads, directors, producers, actors and managers — who have signed a statement criticizing the actions of Hamas. Actors Kelsey Grammer, Sarah Silverman, Minnie Driver, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Seth Rogen, Josh Charles and Tony Goldwyn; showrunners Aaron Sorkin, Diane English, Mayim Bialik, Doug Ellin and Greg Berlanti; directors Ivan Reitman and William Friedkin; producers Avi Arad, Scooter Braun, Jerry Weintraub, Avi Lerner; execs Ryan Kavaunagh, Sherry Lansing and Amy Pascal and mogul Haim Saban are just a few of the names that appear on the statement.” [HollywoodReporter]

OBSERVED: “Thousands Protest in Staten Island as Sharpton Vows March on D.C.” by Will Bredderman: “Several people carried signs comparing Mr. Garner’s and Mr. Brown’s deaths to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [Observer]

SPORTS BLINK: Israel progresses to Euro basketball championship: “Israel’s national basketball team on Sunday progressed to the EuroBasket, also known as the European Basketball Championship, after beating the Netherlands by a score of 83 to 60. The game, which was nominally hosted by Israel, was held in Nicosia, Cyprus, due to the flaring of hostilities between Israel and Gaza Strip-based Hamas. The national team’s coach, Erez Edelstein, has repeatedly remarked that the task of qualification was made more difficult by the additional travel that hosting games away from home entailed. Israel’s outstanding scorer was NBA star Omri Casspi with 22 points.” [i24News]

BIRTHDAYS: Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz) turns 65… Adam Friedman turns 20…

That’s all folks, have a great Monday! 

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

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