Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Profiles – John Kerry in Vogue; BW on Gary Barnett; Jay Zeidman in HBJ 40u40; Reuters on Erel Margalit | Tehran Anti-Zionist Conference

DRIVING THE DAY: NYC Mayor De Blasio to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning. [h/t @jacobkornbluh] • President Obama will speak in Chicago on the topic of American strength and leadership. [h/t @ZekeJMiller]

BIBI AND OBAMA MAY STILL HAVE A BIT OF CHURCHILL AND ROOSEVELT IN THEM:At the White House on Wednesday, the man who wanted to be Franklin Roosevelt hosted the man who wanted to be Winston Churchill. However, things may not be quite so clear cut. On the complex relationship between the two heads of state, Ari Shavit writes, “The man who wanted to be Roosevelt no longer acts like Roosevelt. He doesn’t want to see the Iranian danger as it is and is seriously considering a compromise with Iran, the implications of which could be catastrophic. And the man who wanted to be Churchill doesn’t act like Churchill. Instead of persuading the U.S. president, seducing him and turning him into an ally, he treats him like an enemy. Churchill sacrificed the British Empire to enlist America against the Nazis, while Netanyahu prefers to keep the Israeli empire at any cost, and that’s why he’s losing America. His insistence on building more and more foolish settlements is alienating the White House and letting the Iranians build more and more advanced centrifuges” [Haaretz]

—“The crux of the U.S.-Israeli disagreement is that Netanyahu wants Tehran completely stripped of its nuclear capability, while Obama has suggested he is open to Iran continuing to enrich uranium on a limited basis for civilian purposes. While Netanyahu put the emphasis on Iran, Obama was quick to focus on the bloody 55-day Gaza conflict.” [Reuters] — Video: President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with reporters before meeting in the Oval Office. [CSPAN]

BIBI REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OF EAST JERUSALEM BUILDINGS: “It is better to know the material before deciding to take such a stance,” Netanyahu responded to the White House statement. “Arabs in Jerusalem are free to purchase apartments in the western [part of the] city and no one is arguing against it,” Netanyahu said. “I have no intention of telling Jews they can’t buy apartments in East Jerusalem. This is private property and an individual right. There cannot be discrimination – not against Jews and not against Arabs,” he added. “This goes against values that the United States also believes in.”… “It didn’t happen by chance,” he said, accusing the Israeli NGO Peace Now of a “clear” attempt to sabotage his meeting with U.S. President Obama that took place later that day. “This demonstrates a lack of national responsibility,” he added.” [Haaretz] — Netanyahu on NPR Morning Edition today [NPR]

REPORT: Kerry said to be planning peace talks under Arab auspices: According to the report, which did not quote any officials on the matter and could not be independently verified, Kerry wants negotiations to last two months and involve nations such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Netanyahu hinted at the possibility of such a track on Wednesday, when he called for Arab involvement in the peace process during a press conference with Obama in the White House.” [ToI]

FIRST LOOK — VOGUE FEATURE ON KERRY: “Back in June, Kerry traveled to the tiny French village of Saint-Briac-sur-Mer to do something he never could have done while running for president—celebrate his European roots. Kerry’s mother, a descendant of the Forbes shipping family, grew up here on an estate calle Les Essarts, which was destroyed by the Nazis and then rebuilt as an enormous blue-shuttered chateau the family still owns today… I have been traveling with Kerry for several days–from Warsaw to Beirut to France—and though I have caught glimpses of his playful side, the Secretary of State has largely lived up to his reputation for reserve.”

“Kerry practices just the sort of vigorous diplomacy President Obama spoke about at West Point—but his relentlessness, especially on issues as seemingly intractable as Israeli-Palestinian peace, has been bruising at times. Does America wield the influence in the world that it once did? Critics say that Kerry’s go-for-broke diplomatic style raises just this question–and that he has wasted time on problems the U.S. cannot solve; supporters say that if Kerry achieves a breakthrough in even one of his major endeavors–say, a nuclear breakthrough with Iran—he could be one of the most important Secretaries of State in recent history.” [John Kerry’s Second Act” by Suzy Hansen; Vogue October Issue Available at Newsstands]

BUSINESSWEEK: “Gary Barnett, New York City’s Controversial Luxury Real Estate Master” by Devin Leonard: “Barnett has become the unlikely arbiter of stratospherically priced real estate in New York. “He has a great sense of the luxury market,” says Donald Trump. Typically, New York real estate developers aspire to emulate their wealthy clients. They buy homes on Park Avenue. They summer in the Hamptons. Barnett lives in a two-story house in middle-class Richmond Hill, Queens, with his second wife, Ayala, who together have 10 children. He vacations in the Poconos, a place that advertises its charms on local television. “My kids like it,” Barnett says. “It’s nice and quiet.” People who have worked closely with Barnett say he’s more attracted to the cerebral side of his profession. They say he loves assembling land and development rights, often in secret, and using them to construct unexpectedly large and lucrative projects such as One57.”

“Barnett didn’t always frequent galas at five-star hotels; he wasn’t even always Gary Barnett. He was born Gershon Swiatycki, the son of a Talmudic scholar. He grew up on the Lower East Side, eventually getting a graduate degree in economics at Hunter College. Then, in 1980, while on vacation in Florida, he met Muller, daughter of the founder of a Belgian diamond company, S. Muller & Sons. Barnett married her and entered the family business in Antwerp, where he worked for 12 years as a trader of precious stones. In the early 1990s, still living in Antwerp, Barnett started investing in American real estate with money from his wife’s family. He stayed up late, managing his properties by telephone. He became one of the largest commercial landlords in Wichita. To hear Barnett tell it, he was just messing around. “I didn’t know anything about anything,” he says. After several years, Barnett got serious and moved back to New York.” [Businessweek]

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TOP-OP: How Iran Duped the US – by David Frum: “The talks began because the United States possessed powerful means of compulsion against Iran: from sanctions, to sabotage, to military force. But the rulers of Iran took the measure of their opposite numbers. They recognized that their counterparts were nearly as averse to using those means of compulsion as were the Iranians themselves. A stick that your adversary dreads using is no stick at all. The United States also had carrots to offer, above all the relaxation of sanctions and a more normal U.S.-Iran relationship. Yet even before ISIS advanced in northern Iraq, the Obama administration had made up its mind that this carrot was something that the United States needed even more than Iran did. Just as a stick that you dread using is no stick at all, so a carrot that you yourself crave ceases to be much of a carrot. The unsurprising result: The United States—which began the nuclear talks from a position of strength—has acted throughout the negotiations like the weaker party. The U.S. visibly hungered for a deal, and Iran took advantage of that hunger.” [Atlantic]

—TIME MAG: “America’s Real Problem in Iran: Ayatullah Khamenei” by Michael Crowley [Time] •Carter — “I Could’ve Wiped Iran Off the Map”: “Former President Carter said in an interview on Wednesday that “I could’ve been reelected if I’d taken military action against Iran, shown that I was strong and resolute and manly and so forth.” [The Hill]

TOP TALKER: “Antiwar Activists, 9/11 Truthers Gather In Tehran For Anti-Zionist Conference” by Rosie Gray: “A number of American and European antiwar activists and conspiracy theorists have gathered in Tehran for a conference aimed at addressing supposed Zionist control of the United States, according to Iranian press reports and the Anti-Defamation League. According to a PressTV article about the conference, the gathering’s “goal is to unveil the secrets behind the dominance of the Zionist lobby over US and EU politics.” [BuzzFeed]

ERIC CANTOR FIGHTS SUBPOENA IN BANK OF CHINA TERROR-FUNDING CASE: Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center announced on Wednesday that former US House majority leader Eric Cantor is fighting its attempt to subpoena him in the Bank of China terrorism-financing case The NGO hopes the former Virginia congressman’s testimony will help it prove the bank strong-armed Israel into obstructing a former Israeli government agent’s testimony. [JPost]

JAY ZEIDMAN PROFILE: “Zeidman, who was named a 2014 Houston Business Journal 40 Under 40, is no stranger to tackling challenges head-on, from being the first Jewish student body president at Texas Christian University to starting his own business. Zeidman’s company, PulmonaryRx — a respiratory services company — began with three people and has grown to 31 employees across four cities. Prior to starting his own company, Zeidman was a staff assistant and liaison to the Jewish community for the George W. Bush administration. In this role, he communicated the administration’s policies to the Jewish and business communities. Zeidman said he believes in being involved in the community and being passionate about everything in life, whether it is his career or an important cause.” [HBJ]

RISING STAR — ISRAELI HIGH-TECH ENTREPRENEUR TURNS HIS FOCUS TO POLITICS: Erel Margalit has packed a lot in, from frontline combat in Lebanon to a PhD in philosophy at Columbia University, advising Jerusalem’s former mayor and launching a billion dollar venture capital firm. Now his focus is politics, and trying to reboot the original “start-up nation”. After 20 years of building up companies via the Jerusalem Venture Partners fund that he created – including some of Israel’s most successful start-ups – he stood as a candidate for the left-of-center Labour Party in elections last year and won a seat in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. [Reuters]

STARTUP NATION: A new Israeli company, VideoDubber, has found a way to streamline the dubbing process for films (as a substitute for subtitles) at a fraction of the traditional cost. [Haaretz] •  “Within sight of Jerusalem’s Old City stands a modernist building housing one of Israel’s most successful venture capital firms, the backer of scores of start-ups over the past 20 years that have generated nearly $18 billion for investors. Jerusalem Venture Partners has picked a string of high-tech winners over the years despite its location away from the rest of Israel’s flourishing industry, which is largely based on the Mediterranean coast north of Tel Aviv. Last week, shares in cybersecurity firm Cyberark, which JVP has been building up for over a decade, surged after their initial public offering on Nasdaq, rising 85 percent in three days to value the company at around $880 million.” [Reuters]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Lawsuit Filed After ‘Killing Jews’ Ads Rejected” by Larry Neumeister: “A pro-Israel group sued the city’s transit authority on Wednesday, asking a court to force it to accept a bus advertisement including the phrase “Hamas Killing Jews” after it was rejected on the grounds its display could incite violence. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization headed by blogger Pamela Geller that’s behind the advertisement. The lawsuit sought a ruling forcing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to lift its objections and an award of unspecified damages for violations of the First and 14th amendments.” [AP]

HAPPENING TODAY: GOP Donor Paul Singer Hosts DC Conference: “The American Unity Conference is set to begin Thursday morning at the Hay Adams Hotel on H and 16th streets, N.W. It’s hosted by the same pro-LGBT Republican advocates behind the American Unity Fund and the American Unity PAC, related groups that seek to elect pro-LGBT Republican candidates and encourage GOP support for LGBT rights. Both organizations are funded by Paul Singer, a billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist who backs LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. His son, Andrew Singer, is gay.” [WashingtonBladeNYTimes] • At 8PM, Henry Kissinger in Conversation with Richard Haass at [92Y]

KOSHER DC — CHAR BAR OPEN: “Eli’s – a place to see and be seen in our nation’s capital for the past 10 years shut its doors  last week. But fear not, owner Sima Soumekhian just opened another kosher restaurant, Char Bar, 2142 L St., which some already are referring to as an up-scale Eli’s.” [WJW]

SPOTTED: Mayor Bill De Blasio, Shelly Silver, & Mariano Rivera at kosher NYC steakhouse Prime Grill. [PageSix]

That’s all folks; have a great day!
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