Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Iran Talks Are A Fight Over Narrative | Dershowitz, Spitzer Debate Abraham | Next POTUS’s Mideast Mess | Michael Oren: “I’m Not Running”

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BIBI ON FACE THE NATION: “I think the relationship between Israel and the United States is very, very strong. I mean, there is bipartisan support for Israel, which we appreciate. And not only that, I think support for Israel among the American people is at an all time high. Because when Americans, when they look around the Middle East and they see ISIS beheading Americans, they see the chants “death to American” in Tehran, they see the fluidity – that’s an understatement – the fact that one state after another is collapsing. And they see this democratic state of Israel, admittedly a beleaguered democracy, but one that stands for American values of democracy and personal liberty and free speech and an organized society, a high-tech society. People instinctively understand that Israel is America’s best ally in the Middle East. The best ally of the United States. And you know, in Israel we think America is our best ally too. There’s a very, very strong bond there. And yes, we can have disagreements between governments. That happens in the best of families, but we are one family.”

ON IRAN: “Iran is not your ally. Iran is not your friend. Iran is your enemy. It’s not your partner. Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel, just as the P5+1, the United States and the world powers are negotiating with Iran a nuclear agreement, the Ayatollah Khamenei, the ruler of Iran, calls for the annihilation of Israel. He just did that four days ago. He specified nine ways and reasons by which Israel should be destroyed. He’s participated in rallies and chants of ‘Death to America’, ‘Death to Israel’. This is not a friend, neither in the battle against ISIS nor in the effort, the great effort that should be made to deprive him [of] the capacity to make nuclear weapons. Don’t fall for Iran’s ruse. They are not your friend.” [TranscriptVideo]

IRAN TALKS: “Nuclear Deal With Iran Runs Into Obstacles” by David E. Sanger, Steven Erlanger, & Jodi Rudoren in the New York Times: “Today, Mr. Obama needs a foreign policy accomplishment more than ever, and he sees time running out on his hope of changing the calculus in a Middle East where Americans are, against his instincts, back on the ground. But the forces arrayed against a deal are formidable — not just Mr. Khamenei and the country’s hard-liners, but newly empowered Republicans, some of his fellow Democrats, and many of the United States’ closest allies. As negotiators head back to Vienna this week for what they hope will be the final round of talks, Mr. Obama’s top national security advisers put the chance of reaching an agreement this month at 40 to 50 percent. “In the end this is a political decision for the Iranians,” Mr. Obama told a small group of recent visitors to the White House, a statement that could be true for him as well.”

“Israeli officials play down their influence in Congress on the issue and disagree internally on the merits of a deal; some in the intelligence agencies see advantages to more intrusive inspections in Iran. “We have no formal status and no real capacity” in the talks, said Yuval Steinitz, the strategic affairs minister who has been Israel’s primary point man, apart from the prime minister himself, on Iran. “We can only convince, we can only speak and explain.”… “What the Iranians are looking for is a narrative of victory,” one American diplomat said last week, “a way to say the West backed down, and admitted Iran will be able to produce its own nuclear fuel one day, in unlimited quantity.” What Congress needs, the diplomat said, “is a narrative that Iran was forced to dismantle what it has.” Satisfying both, he added, “is what makes the politics of this so much harder than the physics of slowing the bomb program.” [NYTimes] • “Doubts about a nuclear deal with Iran as talks near deadline” [WashPost] • “Sen. Kirk discusses Iran & ISIS” [YouTube] • “Congress prepares for final Iran push” [Al-Monitor]


MICHAEL OREN: Not Running for any political post: “Former ambassador to the United States Michael Oren reacted with amusement to a report over the weekend that he would be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top choice for a reserved slot on the Likud’s next Knesset list. Since returning from Washington, there has been speculation about Oren running for Knesset with various parties, including one that is being formed by former minister Moshe Kahlon. Oren is currently teaching at the Herzliya Interdisiplinary Center (IDC) and completing a book on his time in Washington that is due to be published in June. “I have read many reports on supposed political affiliations in the Israeli press,” Oren told The Jerusalem Post Saturday night. “I’m not running for anything. I’m teaching at IDC, writing a book, and advancing issues important to this country.” [JPost]

BIBI BACKS JEWISH NATION-STATE BILL: The Israeli Prime Minister is supporting a bill that would legally recognize Israel’s Jewish character in addition to its democratic one. The bill is still in the drafting stages and is already facing many challenges.” [WashPostReutersHaaretz] • “Amid talk of reelections, Netanyahu plans—then cancels—Likud meeting; Naftali Bennett: If Jewish nation-state bill doesn’t pass, coalition will fall apart” [Haaretz] • Hareidim Say ‘No’ to Netanyahu [Arutz Sheva]

TANK VS. TALMUD: Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Soldiers — by David Wainer and Alisa Odenheimer in Businessweek: “As Israel seeks to boost growth and reduce income inequality, one issue putting the brakes on both are the large numbers of Haredi men who opt out of the workforce in favor of religious study, living on their wives’ salaries, government stipends and child allowances. That’s because Haredim typically believe that a man’s highest calling is learning ancient Jewish texts — and that secular values threaten their traditional lifestyle. Their commitment to Talmudic studies means that only about 46 percent of working-age men in the community were employed in 2011, compared with 78 percent of all Israeli adult males. For a nation in a near-constant state of war — the fighting this summer in Gaza killed more than 70 Israelis and 2,000 Palestinians — the army is a respected bulwark of security. And since it has become something akin to an incubator for tech startups, fueling one of Israel’s key growth engines and helping young people gain job skills, getting Haredim into the army is an important step in integrating them into the economy.” [Bloomberg]

SCENE YESTERDAY: “At Educational Event, a Modern Legal Interpretation of a Biblical Story” by Vivian Yee in the New York Times: “The facts were undeniable: The defendant, one Abraham (no known surname), had teetered on the brink of stabbing his son Isaac to death, only to be stopped by divine intervention. The setting, too, seemed at least mildly favorable: the soaring Fifth Avenue sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El, with twin menorahs on either side of the courtroom. But who could begrudge him? When the defendant in question is the father of the Jewish people, it seems only right that the trial — even if it is only a mock trial done for educational purposes — should take place in one of the country’s most eminent Reform synagogues, with two of New York’s most prominent Jews sparring over his fate. For the prosecution: Eliot Spitzer, a former governor and attorney general of New York. For the defense: Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard Law School professor who was one of Mr. Spitzer’s former professors but is perhaps better known for defending O. J. Simpson and other notorious clients.”[NYTimes]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 5:00 PM, Congressman Doug Lamborn will introduce Father Gabriel Naddaf at an Israel Forever Foundation event titled “Israel: A Safe Haven for Christians in the Middle East.” • At7:00 PM, Elie Wiesel, Prof. Noah Feldman, Ambassador Samantha Power, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach will speak on “Genocide and the Jews: A Never-Ending Problem” at the Cooper Union in New York City.

TOP-OPS: “Before the Beheadings — Remembering a time when Islamist extremists wanted to persuade reporters, not kill them,” by Jeffrey Goldberg [Atlantic] • “Yes, America Should Be the World’s Policeman,” by Brett Stephens [WSJ] • “Sweden’s ‘State of Palestine’ Offense — Before the rest of the European Union follows suit, members may want to consider the Swedes’ history.” by Barry Fisher & Peter Sichrovsky [WSJ]

**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**

ROBERT SATLOFF: “The Next President’s Mideast Mess: Try as he might, there’s just too much for Obama to fix in the next two years” in Politico Magazine: “Even God, it seems, is tired of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute—and the never-ending standoff between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. When a third intifada threatened to erupt recently following Israel’s temporary closure of Muslim prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in response to stone-throwing against Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below, Palestinian leaders called for a “day of rage,” and Israel dispatched more than 1,000 riot police to prepare for the worst. Commentators across the political spectrum competed with “I-told-you-so” predictions about the start of another Palestinian uprising. And then it poured. A torrential, almost biblical rain kept Palestinian crowds down and Israel’s powder dry—for the moment, at least. It will likely take an even more dramatic brand of divine intervention to prevent a slew of worsening Mideast problems—renewed Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Islamic terrorism, Iranian nukes and so on—from landing squarely on the desk of the next U.S. president, whether it’s Hillary Clinton or anyone else.” [Politico]

2016 WATCH– RUBIO’S DECISION LOOMS: “Rubio has also been increasingly vocal about foreign policy, setting up a strong contrast both with President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and erstwhile primary opponents like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), all while attacking Obama’s immigration moves…If he runs, Rubio has a real chance to become the establishment favorite in the race, though he will face competition for that mantle from Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) should they run.” [TheHill]

—“The Fable of Rand Paul” by Frank Bruni: “Adopting a stark, absolutist stance, he initially said that he opposed all foreign aid. Then he carved out an exception for Israel. First he expressed grave skepticism about taking on the Islamic State. Then he blasted President Obama for not taking it on forcefully enough. His language about Russia went from pacific to truculent. His distaste for Medicare went from robust to tentative. These adjustments suggest not just political calculation but, in some instances, amateurism. He’s a work in remarkably clumsy progress, with glimmers of recklessness and arrogance, and he often seems woefully unprepared for the national stage.” [NYTimes]

SEN. AL FRANKEN: “‘Sure’ there will be a challenger to Hillary Clinton” by Peter Sullivan in The Hill: “Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if Democrats need a spirited primary, Franken said of Clinton, “I very much doubt that she’ll be the only one. I’m sure someone will jump in.” “I don’t know how you make someone else viable, they have to make themselves viable, but I’m sure that there will be a number of other people in the race,” Franken added.” [TheHill] • “NY GOP Chair: de Blasio will take 2016 nomination over Hillary” [NYPost]

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: “Booker Gets More from Wall Street Than Any Member of Congress” by Sarah Gonzalez: “Sen. Cory Booker received $1.87 million from the securities and investment industry, making him the top recipient of Wall Street money this election cycle, according to federal election donations analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics. Booker also received more money from real estate groups than any other member, as well as more from the entertainment and tech industries, accountants, and groups considered to be pro-Israel.” [WNYC] • “Rahm Emanuel Campaign Haul Draws Notice for Reliance on Finance Firms” [Bloomberg]

NOAM SCHEIBER: “Valerie Jarrett’s Defenders Have Misunderstood My Profile of Her” in the New Republic: “One of the reasons I was keen to write a long profile of Valerie Jarrett is that she inspires so much speculation and debate—speculation about her role in the White House; debate about whether it’s helpful or harmful to the president. I thought that producing a definitive story on the subject might be a public service. Alas, my story seems to have only added to the speculation and debate surrounding Jarrett. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a magazine piece, but it does suggest the mission wasn’t entirely successful. So, herewith, a second attempt to set the record straight.”[NewRepublic]

MICHAEL KARP PROFILE: “For U. City mogul: When a school fails, (re)build a new one” by Alexandra Sternlicht: “Michael Karp is sitting in the faculty office at Belmont Charter School, the elementary school he founded in 1997. “I think we need more teacher assistance,” he tells 2008 Graduate School of Education alumna Claire Cohen, the school’s director. Before she can respond with her usual curt: “Michael!” Karp adds, “I’m willing to pay for it.” Karp, a 1964 College graduate, will use every outlet within the system to end poverty in West Philadelphia. And if that isn’t enough, he’ll buy a new outlet. Tapping the ball of his hand on the table, he explains, “With my economic circumstances, if I don’t have the confidence and the willingness to say what I think, then who does?”

“Belmont Charter is only five blocks away from where Karp began in real estate. The 71-year-old GSE and Wharton dropout started buying student homes in University City when he lived next to White Dog Cafe as a GSE student. With a Penn International Relations Diploma and a $30,000 loan from his father, Karp bought 3908 Walnut (which is now Du Bois College House), 3701 Chestnut, and 3916 and 3914 Pine. As the founder of University City Housing Company, he was the first University City landlord to make over West Philly homes with the goal of optimizing them for students. He currently owns roughly 20 percent of the undergraduate housing market. Although his University City properties only account for 15 percent of his real estate holdings, West Philadelphia runs “in [his] blood” because of his 40-something years of residency here. “I learned the needs of the community by becoming part of the community,” Karp says. Since he moved out of West Philadelphia to Haverford in 1988, he has sold ATX Telecommunications for $900 million, served on Penn’s Board of Trustees and taught every single one of his five kids Hebrew before kindergarten. Although Karp’s main source of revenue comes from his privately owned companies that he’d “rather not list,” every dollar he earns fortifies his commitment to Jewish and educational philanthropy.” [DailyPennsylvanian]

STARTUP NATION: Israeli start-up ThetaRay turns to math to detect cyber threats [Haaretz] • Start-up pitches high-tech glue for surgical leaks [USA Today] • Faces Of The Startup Nation: Q&A With Mobli Mogul Moshe Hogeg [No Camels] • Photo App Pico Wins Reader’s Choice After Relocating from Israel to Philly [Tech Cocktail]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Daniel Arbess’s Perella Weinberg’s Xerion Fund to Close, Return Money [Bloomberg] • Israel’s Playtech Raises $315M In Convertible Bonds, Mulls Acquisitions [No Camels] • Marc Andreessen loves working with Israelis [Twitter] • George Soros reduces Teva stake [Globes] • Why did Apple take the Israeli flag out of Mac OS Yosemite? [Quartz] • Hedge Fund Sticks to Losing Bet on Netanya-based MagicJack Shares [Bloomberg] • Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg propose $130 million park pier in Hudson River [DailyNews]

OBIT: “Charley J. Levine, legendary PR rep, dies at 62: Back in the days before they could switch on CNN or go online and read the New York Times, and when the profession of public relations was in its infancy in Israel, it was hard to get one’s calls returned. But there was one oasis in Jerusalem where foreign reporters knew they would consistently be treated with respect and professionalism from a tall, kind man named Charley J. Levine, and his team of hardworking young professionals. Levine’s staff knew how to respond quickly to a stressed-out journalist on deadline, and was always polite and upbeat – even when the same journalist had rejected their last three story pitches. Charley J. Levine, who died on Sunday at 62 years old, founded that oasis – CLC communications – in 1983, a firm that he built into such a desirable entity, serving big names in industry and non-profit organizations, that it was acquired by international giant Ruder Finn, and was transformed into Ruder Finn Israel, where he served as CEO.”[Haaretz] • “Dorian Paskowitz, Jewish Doctor and Surfer Who Lived an Endless Summer, Dies at 93” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “Jewish trainer and Muslim boxer form peaceful pairing” by Brian Heyman in LoHud: “In the Middle East, there’s tension. Here there’s none between a 72-year-old Jewish trainer, a longtime Rockland County resident living these days in Orangeburg, and an 18-year-old Muslim amateur boxer from New Jersey. This is a left-right combination that works. “Work the body and pivot,” Steve Bratter told the slim, 5-foot-8 Shahbaz “Ali” Choudhry, shadow boxing during a recent workout at Ace’s Boxing. “Good, good, good.” They have been associated for about two years. Choudhry’s family came over from Pakistan in the 1980s. He was born in Manhattan but raised mostly in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Bratter, meanwhile, is a Bronx native. And he’s a big supporter of Israel.” [LoHud]

Elliot Tebele — “The man behind Instagram’s funniest feed”: “So how did a college dropout who grew up in the Syrian Orthodox Jewish enclave of Gravesend, Brooklyn, end up the unofficial adopted son of Seinfeld? “I’m definitely a hustler,” Tebele admits.” [NYPost]

NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS: “The Invention of the Jewish Nose” by Sara Lipton [NY Books]

DESSERT: “Meet NYC’s Youngest Kosher Baker, Nechamit Rosen” by Rachel Delia Benaim [Forward]

That’s all folks; have a great day!
**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**

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