DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “A new inside account of Obama’s Israel ire” by John Podhoretz: “When it’s released June 23, the new book by bestselling historian Michael Oren is going to be the talk of Washington and Jerusalem — not to mention everywhere people take an interest in the relations between the United States and Israel, which is to say, in many if not most places on the planet. It’s an ultimate insider’s story told while all the players save Oren are still in place… It’s not that there’s lots of breaking news in “Ally” that will startle people. Rather, it makes news on almost every page with its incredibly detailed account of the root hostility of the Obama administration toward the Jewish state.” [NYPost; Amazon]
MK Michael Oren at Herzliya Conference: “At the end of the day, Israel has no substitute for the United States of America as its ultimate ally. The U.S. is not only the supplier of vital strategic support such as Iron Dome as we saw last summer, the United States is also our source for diplomatic Iron Dome in international organizations that are not always amenable to the Jewish state.” [YouTube]
Prime Minister Netanyahu at Herzliya Conference: “I know I’m often portrayed as the nuclear party pooper and that would be okay if I was the only voice against the impending deal with Iran but I speak with quite a few of our neighbors and nobody in our region believes this deal will block Iran’s path to the bomb. It’s worth noting that no one from this region is at the table. Someone once said ‘if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.'”
“I talked to Jack Lew yesterday. I called him up and said we are family. We speak respectfully with family. We can disagree but we respect each other, so with the greatest respect, I say if Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.”
“We don’t want a one state solution. I remain committed to a solution of two states for two peoples (applause). That’s the only thing you clap for?! I said in Bar Ilan, the solution is a demilitarized Palestinian State that recognizes the Jewish state. These are not conditions for entering the talks but these are the foundation for enduring peace between us and the Palestinians.”
“I was heartened that two states in the United States have adopted anti-boycott legislation. I understand there’s a move in the U.S. Congress to expand it and that’s very important. There are many other things we need to do but the first thing is we need to unite. We need to speak with one voice against the threats that I described and for the peace that we desire.” [YouTube]
How it played: “Israeli PM wants Arab states to press Palestinians back to peace talks” [Reuters] • “Israeli PM Says Arab Leaders Also Wary Of Iran Nuclear Deal” [AP] • “Netanyahu talks a lot, says little, in strikingly uninspiring Herzliya address” [ToI]
“Why didn’t Netanyahu attack Iran?” by Ben Caspit: “Caroline Glick, who is known for her hawkish, right-wing views, claimed that in 2010, two members of the panel Gabi Ashkenazi and Meir Dagan “were given an order to prepare the military for an imminent strike against Iran’s nuclear installation, and they refused.” Quick to protest these allegations, Dagan got into a vociferous argument with Glick. “It was an illegal order,” he said. “You were not there. You don’t know what happened there.”” [AlMonitor]
TOP TALKER: “Spy Virus Linked to Israel Targeted Hotels Used for Iran Nuclear Talks” by Adam Entous and Danny Yadron: “Kaspersky, in keeping with its policy, doesn’t identify Israel by name as the country responsible for the hacks. But researchers at the company indicate that they suspect an Israeli connection in subtle ways. For example, the company’s report is titled “The Duqu Bet.” Bet is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet.” [WSJ]
IRAN TALKS: “U.S. Finds Peeling Back The Iran Sanctions Onion No East Task” by Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee: “The Obama administration may have to backtrack on its promise that it will suspend only nuclear-related economic sanctions on Iran as part of an emerging nuclear agreement, officials and others involved in the process tell The Associated Press. Administration officials vehemently reject that any backtracking is taking place, but they are lumping sanctions together differently from the way members of Congress and critics of the negotiations separate them.” [AP] • “U.S. military chief seeks to reassure Israel on Iran threat” [JewishJournal; NYTimes]
“Work on a West Bank Site Gives Rise to Suspicions” by Jodi Rudoren: “The old stone compound set amid Palestinian farmland between the cities of Bethlehem and Hebron has a relatively new fence. The compound, with eight buildings spread over 9.5 acres and a sign that calls it “House of Blessing,” was a church-run hospital in the 1950s, and it later became a hostel. It had sat dormant since around 2000, until the conservative Jewish-American philanthropist Irving I. Moskowitz began a major renovation project there a few months ago.” [NYTimes] • “Business Owners in Israeli Settlements Confront Boycott Threat” [WSJ]
2016 WATCH: “Paul’s effort to boost Israel bona fides gets rejected” by Nahal Toosi: “Sen. Rand Paul’s attempt to burnish his pro-Israel credentials hit an obstacle called the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. The Kentucky Republican — who is trying to dispel lingering notions that he doesn’t support Israel — offered up an amendment to a State Department policy bill that would cut off U.S. taxpayer funding to the Palestinian Authority. But the proposal has many detractors — Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) noted that many in Israel’s government do not support it… In the past, Paul has suggested the U.S. should cut off all foreign aid, including to Israel. He has backtracked on that idea, however, and has sought to improve his standing with the pro-Israel community as he’s ramped up his presidential run.” [Politico; Statement]
Heard last night: Rand Paul, at a Baltimore County GOP dinner, railed against foreign aid saying “one thing that annoys the hell out of me is when we take money, borrow it, and we send it to countries that hate us, that burn our flag and chant ‘Death to America.’ I say not one penny more (applause).” [Video]
“Behind the Jeb Bush campaign shake-up” by Marc Caputo and Alex Isenstadt: “As in any campaign reshuffling, there are conflicting accounts about the level of squabbling and back-stabbing that took place, but most sources familiar with the campaign’s inner workings agreed that both Kochel and Bradshaw had different personalities that sometimes didn’t mix… To those in the campaign, it had been clear for some time that Bradshaw was looking to shake things up. With Jeb’s official launch approaching, she had only a limited amount of time to do so.” [Politico] • “In his first foreign speech of the 2016 campaign, Jeb Bush criticized what he called dramatic declines in U.S. military spending” [AP] • “Super PAC backing Jeb Bush unlikely to hit $100 million by end of June” [WashPost]
SPOTTED at Larry Ellison’s house last night for a Marco Rubio fundraiser, according to a source in the room, the chairman of the Woodmont Companies and president of the Koret Foundation, Tad Taube; Vector Capital’s Alex Slusky; and Blumberg Capital’s David Blumberg.
SCENE LAST NIGHT: American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), led by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, held their annual dinner at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in our nation’s capital. Speakers included Rep. John Lewis who, in a rare display of bipartisanship, presented Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy with the AFL leadership award; Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer; HUD Secretary Julian Castro; and the White House’s Matt Nosanchuk. Spotted: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Lois Frankel, D.C. Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau, former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, Jewish D.C.’s ‘Mayor’ William Daroff, Amb. Stu Eizenstat, Amb. Norm Eisen, Simon Falic, Louis & Manette Mayberg, David Butler, Diana & Michael David Epstein, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, The Orlo Fund’s Aaron Orlofsky, Laura Blumenfeld, Ron Halber, Jeff Mendelsohn, Jonathan Missner, Shai Franklin, Max Berry, Twitter ‘Guru’ Avi Mayer, Harris Vederman, Jason Epstein, Michael Landau, Sarah Stern, and Jordana Cutler.
–A new initiative called the ‘Washington Torah Project’ was unveiled at the dinner. The idea is to write an entire Torah scroll, with the involvement of around 18,000 Washington Jews, at various relevant landmarks throughout town including the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Institute of Peace, etc.
SPOTLIGHT: “34 Letters from Powerful People Advocating a Light Sentence for Petraeus” by Leah Finnegan: Individuals who wrote letters include Sen. Diane Feinstein, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, Jane Harman, Sander Gerber, Ken Mehlman.” [Gawker]
BUSINESS BRIEFS:“Leon Cooperman on Wall Street Week discusses philanthropy” [WSW] • “David Tisch’s Spring launches free shipping on every order” [TechCrunch] • “Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen ships out pet pig after he gets too fat” [NYPost]
STARTUP NATION: “Geek Shortage Stymies Israel’s Tech Boom” by Gwen Ackerman:“Israel’s technology miracle is threatened by a dearth of people in the very professions that made it happen: engineers and computer scientists. It’s not exactly the image of Israel depicted in the 2009 book Start-Up Nation, which described how the country was able to produce more tech startups per capita than any other nation. Now 10,000 engineers are needed on top of the current 20,000 to ensure that the sector can grow, says Yoav Chelouche, co-chairman of Israel Advanced Technology Industries, an umbrella association.” [Bloomberg] • “Israeli start-up spins web of deception to foil hackers” [Reuters]
“These Ex-Israeli Surveillance Agents Hijack Your Browser To Profit From Ads” by Thomas Fox-Brewster: “Given Israel ‘dominates advertising, period,’ adds Goldi, it should be no surprise the injection game is full of former intelligence officials. 8200 is also the biggest unit in the IDF and military service is compulsory in Israel. Many leave to go into various tech markets, not just security.” [Forbes]
“Google boss Eric Schmidt: Israelis succeed because you don’t follow the rules” by Sagi Cohen: “”Israel is booming in terms of entrepreneurship because you have a culture that allows you to challenge authority and question everything. You don’t follow the rules,” Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said in an address to hundreds of students and researchers at the Weizmann Institute. Schmidt is currently on a short visit to Israel.” [YNet] • Schmidt meets with Netanyahu [MFA]
REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: “Sam Nazarian sells SLS South Beach for $125M” [RealDeal] •“Zlotowitz’s new equity platform will source limited partner cash” [Rew] • “Gem Institute Buys Additional Floor at Gary Barnett’s Diamond District Tower” [Observer] • “Cure, run by Elan Katz, Drs. Joseph Feldman and Jake Deutsch, is leasing the property for “a little bit over $100 per square foot” from real estate investor Rubin Schron” [Crains]
HOLLYWOOD: “ABC’s Bernie Madoff scandal drama is filling out its cast. Blythe Danner has been tapped to co-star opposite Richard Dreyfuss in the multiple-episode drama inspired by chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross’ book The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.” [HollywoodReporter]
DESSERT: “Kahlua makers file suit over ‘copycat’ kosher booze” by Selim Algar and Joey Rinaldi: “The Absolut Co. is suing a Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish liquor distributor for selling a rabbi-approved knockoff of Absolut’s famed Kahlua coffee liqueur that Absolut says tries too hard to confuse consumers. A man who answered the phone at Happy Wines confirmed that the Kahfua brand is in demand by pious Jews because Kahlua is not kosher. He would not comment on the lawsuit.” [NYPost]
ON THIS DAY IN… 1967: “The Six-Day War ended as Israel and Syria agreed to observe a United Nations-mediated cease-fire.” [AP]
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