Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Sen. Carl Levin wants you to read “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean” | Kerry to Vienna for Iran negotiations | The Jon Medved Story

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TOP TALKER: “A Moderate DC Palestinian Group Struggles As Hope For A Two-State Solution Wanes” by Rosie Gray in BuzzFeed: “The American Task Force on Palestine launched in 2003 with the goal of bringing the cause of Palestinian statehood into the mainstream of the U.S. political establishment. Since then it has hung on, with a tiny budget and staff, and its yearly gala often counts high-ranking U.S. government officials and other Washington eminences among its attendees…But things changed for ATFP this year. This summer’s war between Israel and Hamas and the breakdown of U.S.-mediated peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians aiming to broker a two-state solution, which is core to ATFP’s mission, have proven to be a toxic combination to the nonprofit. The group has decided to cancel its annual gala this year, which usually brings in half of its annual fundraising. And its founder says it will have to cut staff and office space. ATFP’s situation is a casualty of a larger shift: The hope for a two-state solution, which is official U.S. policy and regarded by the establishment as the only legitimate way to end the conflict, is running out of steam, causing a major existential crisis for some of those most dedicated to it.” [BF]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Sec. John Kerry will travel to Vienna tonight to check in on the Iranian nuclear negotiations. His date of departure from Vienna is not yet determined” – [Twitter]

IRAN TALKS ROUNDUP: Kerry in “Diplomatic Overdrive”; Scrambling Around Europe Working on Unity Deal [APWSJ] • Republicans Warn Obama Not To “Circumvent” Congress As Iran Talks Deadline Nears [BF] • Britain says not optimistic about Iran nuclear deal by deadline [Reuters] •  Tehran is in possession of some 20,000 centrifuges, half of which are operating. [Politico]

HAPPENING TODAY: The Friends Committee On National Legislation leads a lobbying mission to DC where they will advocate for a deal with Iran. The group will hear from Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut who is a big supporter of diplomacy with Iran. [FCNL] • At 1:00pm, Rep. Ros-Lehtinenhosts a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing: “Examining What a Nuclear Iran Deal Means for Global Security” with witnesses Gen. Michael HaydenMark Dubowitz, and Karim Sadjadpour.[ForeignAffairs] • The Middle East Institute holds its 2014 Annual Conference at the Grand Hyatt in DC. Amb. William J. Burns will deliver the keynote followed by a panel on “After Gaza: Getting Back to the Peace Process” with Shlomo Ben-Ami, Amb. Daniel KurtzerKhalil ShikakiKaheled Elgindy, moderated by Lara Friedman[MEI]

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Former President George W. Bush will headline a benefit dinner this evening for the New Albany Community Foundation at the home of Leslie Wexner, CEO of the L Brands. We’re reminded of when Mitt Romney visited Wexner’s house for a fundraiser. “Some of you know Les Wexner,” Romney told his audience. “He owns Victoria’s Secret, among a number of other enterprises.” “He has a very, very large home,” Romney said. “I remarked to Les, ‘Never has so little fabric bought so big a house.’”

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Bill Clinton spoke at The New Republic’s 100-Year Anniversary Gala in D.C. – “Thank you, Chris, for your introduction, for your leadership, for the new energy and innovation you’ve brought to The New Republic. I’m honored to be here in the presence of Justice Ginsburg, one of my better appointments… And I can’t run for anything, so now I’ll say what I think. It’s a great thing, you know, being an ex-president. You can say whatever you want. And the sad thing is, no one cares anymore. Unless your wife might run for office. Then they care if you… Then they care if you mess up.” [Transcript] 

SCENE YESTERDAY: A bi-partisan, bi-capital crowd gathered on the fourth floor of the Russell Senate Office Building yesterday for a luncheon in honor of the U.S. Israel relationship and special appreciation for Iron Dome funding. Highlights: Sen. Schumer – “I was very glad with Sec. Kerry, who I don’t always agree with on the Middle East, and his strong response to the horrific Jerusalem terror attack. In giving a shoutout to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Schumer called Cubans, “the Jews of the Caribbean” – to which Sen. Carl Levin piped up to urge the crowd to read the book “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean” which Levin called, “a wonderful history of our people going against the Spain after the inquisition.” Sen. Levin said Iron Dome plays a significant role in the Iran nuclear negotiations as it counters Iran’s threat to retaliate against the U.S. if we take out their nuclear weapons with a military option. Levin apologized for the wonky explanation but explained that he’s chair of the Armed Services Committee and these are some the calculations that are dealt with.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski reminded the crowd that she’s a fighter and “the way we show our respect is to fight.” Sen. Mikulski said she loves Israel because “Israel boxes above it’s weight.” To close, Master of Ceremonies Jason Lyons introduced Sen. Ted Cruz by acknowledging the recent event where Sen. Cruz walked off the stage after being booed for supporting Israel. Lyons told the Senator, “this much I can guarantee, you will not be booed off the stage here.” Indeed, the crowd gave Cruz a minute long standing ovation and applauded enthusiastically throughout the speech. Cruz remarked that he has been to Israel three times in the last two years and on one trip he visited Raphael Industries where he joked with them that “naming a company after me, Raphael Ted Cruz, was a bit much.”

Tough Questions for Obama’s State Dept. Nominee Antony Blinken: “Lawmakers urged Mr. Blinken to consult Congress on any nuclear deal reached with Iran. Mr. Blinken said it would be difficult but “not impossible” to reach an agreement with Iran by a Monday deadline, and that doing so would depend entirely on Iran’s willingness to take necessary steps to assure the U.S. and its allies it would effectively cut off a pathway to a nuclear bomb.” [CSPANWSJ]

TOP-OPS: “Land for Death: Israel may face a wrenching choice between its democracy and Jewishness. And that’s normal” by Lee Smith in [Tablet] • “Battle of Jerusalem: What Congress should do now, by Seth Lipsky” [NYPost] • Eric Yoffie: “Coercion and Judaism don’t mix — especially not in Israel”[Haaretz] • Shmuel Rosner: “What should be done about the (Orthodox) rise and (non-Orthodox) decline of Jewish day schools?” [JewishJournal] • Matthew Levitt: “Don’t bank on bankrupting ISIS, but here’s how we shrink its wallet” [TheHill]

**Good Thursday 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**

2016 WATCH: Jim Webb Launches 2016 Presidential Exploratory Committee: “Jim Webb, a veteran of Ronald Reagan’s administration who served one term as a Democratic U.S. senator from Virginia, has launched a presidential exploratory committee. Late Wednesday night, Webb uploaded a 14-minute statement to YouTube, and a campaign site—Webb2016[dot]com—went live.” [Bloomberg]

2016 WATCH: “Scott Walker plots 2016 rollout” by James Hohmann: “In interviews this week, Walker and his top political advisers provided the fullest account yet of his plans for the likely rollout of a national campaign. The 47-year-old Republican intends to use an upcoming legislative session in Wisconsin to push an ambitious agenda that could, in combination with his triumphs over Big Labor, bolster his standing with Republican primary voters: Repealing unpopular Common Core standards, requiring drug tests for welfare beneficiaries and cutting property taxes.” [Politico] • “Let the 2016 Republican Primary Begin” [Bloomberg]

FIRST LOOK – NYTimes Magazine Cover Story: “Chris Christie Is Back” by Mark Leibovich:““If I fix this, you have to start the story with it,” Chris Christie told me, yanking the string of the venetian blind in the diner window. We were eating a late lunch at a place called Howley’s, next to a motor lodge on South Dixie Highway, in West Palm Beach. It was the last Sunday in October, nine days before the midterm elections, and the 4 p.m. twilight was beaming directly into the eyes of the governor of New Jersey. Christie’s communications director, Maria Comella, had already tried and failed to lower the blinds, inadvertently bunching them up even more. I had given it a shot, too. Finally, Christie rose and maneuvered himself across the booth to make his own attempt. Walking with a slight limp, which he occasionally does after sitting for a while, Christie grabbed the strings, one in each hand, tugged a few times and grunted. Then, after a final jerk, the blinds fell splendidly into place. “There’s the lead of your story,” Christie said, letting out a high-pitched laugh and lifting his arms in triumph.” [NYTimesMag] •Mag Cover Features Christie Kissing A Baby While Taking A Selfie [Pic]

MAYOR: NYC has $10M in pledges to host DNC 2016: “Mayor de Blasio crowed Wednesday that the host committee he’s assembled in hopes of capturing the 2016 Democratic National Convention has pledged $10 million of the $100 million cost of running the big show. Members of host committee include:Stuart Appelbaum, Lloyd Blankfein, Jeff Blau, Barry Diller, Jonathan Gray, Kenneth Lerer, Ron Perelman, Bruce Ratner, William Rudin, Jonathan Tisch, Diane von Furstenberg, and Robert Wolf.” [DailyNews]

STARTUP NATION: “The Story of Medved: An exclusive interview the Startup Nation’s leading venture capitalist: “My grandfather came to the US from the Ukraine in 1910,” recalls Jon Medved, CEO and Founder of the VC-equity crowdfunding investment company OurCrowd, in an interview at his Jerusalem office. His speech is a natural mix of English and Hebrew, with some Spanish colloquialisms thrown in. Dressed in an orange and red Hawaiian shirt ─ and with a style that conveys complete calm and confidence ─ Medved breaks every known stereotype about Orthodox Jewish American men who live in Jerusalem.”

“I spent my childhood in a seaside community in California called La Jolla. Later, we moved to Los Angeles, following my father who had become a nuclear scientist and entrepreneur. At the time, he was involved in establishing his first startup, which he later sold to Xerox. I grew up in a very liberal environment ─ very Californian. There was no Jewish element to it. We did not keep the Sabbath or eat kosher food… Nothing mentioned until this point in the life story of Jon Medved, born in 1955, provides any hint that one day, he would be considered by the New York Times to be “one of the ten Americans who has the greatest influence on the Israeli economy;” and that when this day would come, Medved would no longer define himself as a secular Jewish American but as an Orthodox Jewish Israeli.”[YediothAhronoth]

—RoundUp: “Can a creative British banker get Israel’s ultra-Orthodox to work?” [ToI] • Hackers Can Steal Data Wirelessly From PCs That Aren’t Even Online [Bloomberg] • “Israel, India Start To Equip Sea Forces With Barak-8 Defenses” [DefenseNews] • “Modi Revives India-Israel Ties as Terrorism Threat Grows” [Bloomberg]

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH ODC: Some Creative Behavioral Solutions Helped David Schottenstein, Cofounder of Viewabill, Turn A Challenge Into An Asset — by David Zax in Fast Company: “As an entrepreneur, having OCD has been both a blessing and a curse (as anyone who claims it—jokingly or not—probably already knows). Schottenstein founded and sold a menswear company, Astor & Black, and then, with Alan Dershowitz, (created a billable hours tracker), Viewabill. OCD evidently didn’t prevent success, but in recent years, Schottenstein began to feel it getting in the way. After selling Astor & Black, Schottenstein treated himself and his family to a two-week vacation in Israel. But the whole time, he wasn’t able to stop looking at his phone. An Orthodox Jew who is supposed to set aside electronics on the Sabbath, he got in the habit of asking the family’s non-Jewish nanny to check his phone for him every hour. (“She wanted to murder me,” he says.)”

“Schottenstein and his wife visited the doctor in the fall of 2011. Schottenstein recalls that the doctor explained to him that his phone addiction was similar to any other—“I was just shooting up in a different way.” And the doctor was able to tap into something that Schottenstein prides himself on: “One thing I have a lot of is self-control,” he says. The doctor challenged Schottenstein to hand his wife his phone for two hours upon leaving the office, then to email him at the end of the ordeal. “He told me the first 15, 20, or 30 minutes, I’d feel miserable, but the last hour and a half I’d feel fine,” recalls Schottenstein. In truth, he recalls feeling miserable for 45 minutes. “But then my wife and I got talking, and I got engrossed in our conversation, and I didn’t think about the phone until the alarm went off.” Now, whenever Schottenstein and his wife go to dinner with friends, he wordlessly hands the phone off to her. The trick, Schottenstein has found, is to leverage the parts of your OCD that help you stay on task, while discarding the others, he says. “You have to be OCD about dealing with your OCD.” [FastCompany]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Local Iranian-Jewish banker and leader acquitted of federal fraud charges” [JJ] • Vikings Co-Owners Wilf Seek Reversal of $103M Judgement [NJ Law] • “Jack Sitt sues brother and demands a look at Sitt Asset’s books” [RealDeal] • Sam Zell: “There’s no tremendous demand for real estate” [HW]

BEHIND THE HEADLINES: “Behind the scenes of the Uber/BuzzFeed Ben Smith fracas” by Michael Wolff: “In an effort to argue its case with more care and professionalism, Uber has recently organized some background meetings with journalists and what are called in the PR trade, “influentials.” I was invited to one such dinner last week in a private room at the Waverly Inn in New York. In turn I asked Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief, if he’d like to come as my guest. I had understood that the Uber dinner, like other such media meet-and-greets — I’ve been to hundreds over the years — was off the record. I neglected, however, to specifically tell Smith this. In addition to Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, among the 25 or so guests were the actor Ed Norton, a friend of Kalanick, and his wife, film producerShauna RobertsonMort Zuckerman, owner of New York’s Daily News; Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman; Huffington Post chief Arianna Huffington, New Republic owner Chris Hughes; and an executive at Ronald Perelman‘s company, Chris Taylor.” [USA Today]

CAMPUS BEAT: “Princeton Jewish Community Split Over Hillel Stand on Divestment” [Forward] • “With pro-Israel groups all but absent, UCLA student government endorses divestment” [JewishJournal]

Anti-Semitism Debate Roils German Left: “German leftists plunged into an emotional debate over anti-Semitism in their ranks this week, reflecting heightened worries here that rising anti-Israel sentiment could pierce decades of efforts to deal with the Nazi past.” [WSJ] • “German Town Tricks Neo-Nazis Into Marching Against Themselves” [WorldPost]

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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