HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld telling a group gathered at the University Club in NYC for a Hudson Institute policy luncheon, “I was having dinner one time with Shimon Peres and my daughter at a Chinese restaurant in Tel Aviv of all places and Peres said something along the lines of ‘if a problem has no solution, it’s not a problem to be solved but rather to be coped with over time.’ The idea that anyone from the U.S. can shove the people of that region together, be externally imposed, seems to me to be unrealistic. It’s going to take time and will require a degree of acceptance on everyone’s part. At the moment you don’t have that, you have people who are determined to not have a Jewish state exist.”
Spotted at lunch: Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Kenneth Bialkin, Hudson Board of Trustees President Sarah Stern, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Amb. Bruce Gelb, Fox News’ Kimberly Guilfoyle, Reuben Jeffrey, Hudson CEO Ken Weinstein, Scooter Libby, Herbert & Jeanie Siegel, Seymour Zises, Margaret Whitehead, Allen Adler, Hudson VP William Luti, Joshua Landes, Ravenel Curry, and Remley Johnson.
“A History of Sustainable Violence” by Aaron David Miller: “There’s a reason why Israelis and Palestinians haven’t made true and lasting efforts for peace — their conflict is now the status quo.” [ForeignPolicy]
“Tony Blair: Sunni States Will Normalize Ties With Israel if It Negotiates on the Basis of the Arab Peace Initiative” by Barak Ravid: “Provided the Israeli government is ready to commit to a discussion around the Arab peace initiative … it would be possible to have some steps of normalization along the way to give confidence to this process. With the new leadership in the region today that is possible. A lot will depend on the response of the Israeli government to President Sissi’s initiative and to the Arab peace initiative, and to whatever steps the Israelis are ready to take,” Blair said.” [Haaretz]
“Pro-Israel heavyweights press hard for 2 states” by Ron Kampeas: “Two complementary U.S. and Israeli working papers to be launched next week propose immediate actions Israel can take to prepare the ground for two states and a longer-term security structure that aims to satisfy Palestinian ambitions for sovereignty and Israeli security needs. The organization behind the push, the Israel Policy Forum, is not new to such initiatives. In the last 18 months or so, the Israel Policy Forum has signed to its board Alan Solow, Robert Sugarman, Robert Elman, Robert Goodkind, and Susie Gelman.” [JTA]
KAFE KNESSET — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: The deal is done: After a year of exchanging nasty insults, Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman are back together. This morning, the pair signed the now coalition deal, which would make Lieberman Israel’s next Defense Minister. Lieberman agreed, among other things, to accept Netanyahu’s demand not to support any legislation regarding changes to the media landscape in Israel. This is important because in Netanyahu’s previous government, as Foreign Minister, he supported the “Israel Hayom” bill, which was meant to make it illegal to distribute Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Netanyahu paper for free.
In other news, Stars and Stripes took over the Knesset, as the Israeli parliament for the first time held a special day marking American Jewry’s contribution to the State of Israel. MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) welcomed the Ruderman Foundation, JFNA, the Jewish Agency and the JPPI to the Knesset. A number of committees dedicated their debates to issues relating to Jewish Americans’ connections to Israel, and PM Netanyahu unveiled a photo exhibition, “Stripes, Stars and Magen David.” Spotted: U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, MFA Director General Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassadors to the U.S. Moshe Arens, Sallai Meridor, and Michael Oren, Former Mossad head Efraim Halevi, Shira Ruderman, JFNA Chair Richard Sandler, and former Israeli Embassy spokesperson Lior Weintraub.
HOW IT PLAYED: “Ultranationalist lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman named defense minister” [WSJ] • “Israel’s new defense minister could clash with his soldiers” [AP] • “Israel’s New Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Has Threatened to Bomb Egypt and Kill Palestinians” [Time] • “Israel coalition deal brings in its most hard-right government ever” [TheGuardian]
Thomas Friedman: “Netanyahu is a man who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never crossing it, always teasing you (“I’m coming your way — I’m going to make a decision”), only to remain right where he is, balancing between all his rivals, so that he alone survives. Meanwhile, Israel sinks ever deeper into a de facto binational state controlled by Jewish extremists. Soon, this newspaper will have to call Netanyahu what he’s made himself into: “Prime Minister of the State of Israel-Palestine.”” [NYTimes]
Gil Troy: “Many Israelis and Israel-supporters are doubly disappointed. Not only did we lose a shot at a renewed but realistic peace initiative under a Benjamin Netanyahu-Isaac Herzog alliance, but the principled former chief of staff and defense minister Moshe Ya’alon is apparently being replaced by a former corporal Avigdor Liberman, who once contemplated bombing Egypt’s Aswan Dam… Democracy involves losing elections, then loyally accepting leaders you just opposed. Patriotism isn’t probationary, contingent on always getting your way. Instead, patriots seek those ordinary and extraordinary moments reaffirming what our country stands for, independent of its leaders.” [JPost]
BUNDLERS: “Top GOP financiers coalescing around Trump-RNC fundraising effort” by Matea Gold: “At least six top GOP money players have agreed to serve as vice chairs of the Trump Victory Fund… The team includes figures who served as major financial backers of Trump’s past rivals, including New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and former ambassador Mel Sembler… and Los Angeles venture capitalist Elliott Broidy, who serves on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition… The list also includes former Ambassador Sam Fox; Diana and E. Llwyd Ecclestone; former Ambassador Howard Leach, an appointee under President George W. Bush; Dee and Andy Puzder, of California; and Wilbur Ross, of New York.” [WashPost; NYTimes]
When asked why, Sembler responded in a text message: “Trump will be the Republican Party’s nominee.” [WashPost]
Former Ambassador Sam Fox will serve as a “presidential trustee,” according to the list released by the RNC and the Trump campaign. Last December, during an appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s presidential candidate forum, Trump gave a shoutout to Fox, a top Bush supporter and former national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, while explaining his position on helping the Israelis and Palestinians negotiate a “tough” peace deal. “Is that Sam?” Trump asked as he pointed to the audience. “How are you Sam? Good man. Very nice to see you,” Trump said.” [JewishInsider] • Video [CSPAN]
Dan Senor on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect: “Some donors are saying, ‘I don’t want to be seen as being disloyal to the party. So I am giving my name; I am on board, but I am actually not going to do real work.’ Push comes to shove, if this race is really winnable for Donald Trump – in Donald Trump’s mind – and he’s short on resources, he has the capacity to fund it. Why do these guys need to twist their arms raising money?” On a possible third party candidate: “It is still alive. I would say now the odds are — 30-40 percent chance that an independent candidate emerges within the next three weeks.” [Bloomberg]
TOP TALKER: “RJC Condemns Anti-Semitic Abuse of Journalists” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday released a statement condemning the increased anti-Semitic abuse directed toward journalists by what they referred to as supporters of the three presidential candidates. “We abhor any abuse of journalists, commentators and writers whether it be from Sanders, Clinton or Trump supporters,” the statement read. “There is no room for any of this in any campaign. Journalists, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity should be free to do their jobs without suffering abuses, anti-Semitic or otherwise.” [JewishInsider]
Republican Jewish group stands up for journalists facing anti-Semitism, but journalists say it missed the point — by Callum Borchers: “Journalists expressing their dissatisfaction with the RJC seem to feel members of Team Trump are the main culprits. They’re annoyed that the RJC didn’t single out the presumptive presidential nominee from its own party but rather included him — last — on a list of all three active, major-party candidates, as if the offenders are spread evenly among the campaigns.” [WashPost]
“Dems discuss dropping Wasserman Schultz” by Alexander Bolton: “Democrats backing likely presidential nominee Hillary Clinton worry Wasserman Schultz has become too divisive a figure to unify the party in 2016. Wasserman Schultz has had an increasingly acrimonious relationship with the party’s other presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and his supporters, who argue she has tilted the scales in Clinton’s favor. “There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on,” said one pro-Clinton Democratic senator.” [TheHill]
“Democratic Convention Fight Looms Over Israel, Foreign Policy” by Molly O’Toole: “Will language have to change? Of course,” Jim Zogby said. Zogby wants this year’s platform to elevate Palestinian rights and use the word “occupation” to refer to the nearly five-decade Israeli presence in land Palestinians claim for a future state. It’s part of what Zogby described as a need for the Democrats’ policy language, particularly on Israel-Palestine, to “be toughened up a bit to reflect a new consensus.” [ForeignPolicy]
A Dem Insider, working with platform committee members, emailed us… “Bernie has his picks for the committee, and he earned them, but no one who is pro-BDS, or otherwise anti-Israel, will dictate the Middle East policy of the Democratic platform. Period.”
“Why Did Bernie Sanders Put an Obama-Hater on the Democratic Platform Committee?” by Jonathan Chait: “West’s theory is essentially the mirror image of the notion, peddled by Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich, that Obama absorbed a racial ideology from one of his parents. For Obama’s unhinged right-wing critics, that parent is his father. For West, it is his mother… Then you have West’s dismay at Obama’s excessive comfort with wealthy Jews, which he portrays as the result more than the cause of Obama’s lack of interest in helping African-Americans. Sanders’s revolution means giving West’s views more legitimacy and influence in Democratic politics.” [NYMag]
Jeffrey Goldberg: “Still struck by the fact that Bernie Sanders arranged for Cornel West, who calls Obama a war criminal, to help write the party platform” [Twitter]
IRAN DEAL LEAK: “The Secret History of the Iran-Deal ‘Echo Chamber'” by Eli Lake: “Last week I was leaked e-mails and documents from an internal listserv operated by the arms control nonprofit Ploughshares Fund. Beginning in August 2011, Ploughshares and its grantees formed the Iran Strategy Group. Over time this group created a sophisticated campaign to reshape the national narrative on Iran. That campaign sought to portray skeptics of diplomacy as “pro-war,” and to play down the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program before formal negotiations started in 2013 only to emphasize those dangers after there was an agreement in 2015.” [Bloomberg]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Sam Zell: Why I didn’t go into business with Donald Trump” [CNBC] • “Lightstone Group plans 300-key East Village hotel” [RealDeal] • Heather Reisman’s bookstore makes a comeback [TheStar]
T’ruah’s Rabbi Jill Jacobs emails… “Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster of T’ruah will be addressing Nelson Peltz at the Wendy’s Shareholder meeting today, asking why he doesn’t use his influence as the major shareholder in Wendy’s to persuade the company in joining every other major fast food company (incl. McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, Chipotle) in joining the Fair Food Program and ensuring that the workers who pick their tomatoes are protected from slavery and sexual assault, and earn a more just wage.”
SCENE YESTERDAY: The UJA Federation of New York hosted their annual Harvey R. Miller and Leonard M. Rosen Bankruptcy and Reorganization Annual Luncheon with over 1,100 bankruptcy attorneys and restructuring professionals in attendance at the New York Hilton. The event honored Kenneth Eckstein of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel with the Professor Lawrence P. King Award and Jeffrey Goldberg was the featured speaker. Spotted: UJA’s Eric Goldstein, BlackRock President Robert Kapito, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, Aurelius Capital’s Mark Brodsky, Avram Friedman of Davidson Kempner Capital Management, and Andrew Herenstein of Monarch Alternative Capital.
TALK OF OUR NATION: “Survivor’s story: Venetian Ghetto’s last witness to Auschwitz” by Hannah Roberts: “Sitting outside her retirement home in the Venetian Ghetto, wrapped in scarves and a coat, Virginia Gattegno shivers in the spring sunlight. More than 70 years after enduring the Polish winter of 1944, the Auschwitz survivor still feels the cold. She explains: “For us Mediterranean people, who hadn’t experienced cold, that was the cruellest thing, worse than the hunger.” The birdlike 93-year-old is the last witness of the Nazi death camp living in the ghetto today.” [FinancialTimes]
36 UNDER 36 — Meet The Millennials Who Are Remaking The Jewish Community [JewishWeek]
LongRead — by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “Just how normal has weed really become in America? Normal enough to bring your mother to a marijuana convention? What if your mother is a 68-year-old Hasidic woman? Taffy Brodesser-Akner spends one crazy Shabbos exploring the new boundaries of pot, parenting your parents, and our (totally!) paranoid future” [GQ]
DESSERT — Kosher Food Truck Opens in Nashville: “In a city with a dearth of kosher options, especially kosher meat options, Aryeh’s Kitchen just launched this month to fill that void. Aryeh’s Kitchen is a beautifully designed kosher food truck serving the Vanderbilt University campus, and beyond.”[YeahThatsKosher]
BIRTHDAYS: Physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Jack Steinberger turns 95… Academy Award winning film producer and director, responsible for 50 major motion pictures, Irwin Winkler turns 85… Olympic Gold medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics, gymnast Aly Raisman turns 22… Marjorie Moidel turns 88…