ASPEN SCENE: The Paul E. Singer Foundation and Start-Up Nation Central hosted an evening reception and panel discussion on the sidelines of the Ideas Festival at the St. Regis hotel in downtown Aspen. Dan Senor moderated the discussion titled “The opportunity of life-changing innovation & the challenge of today’s populist politics.” Featured panelists included host of CBS’ Face the Nation John Dickerson, former CIA Director David Petraeus, Founder & President of Elliott Management Paul Singer, and CEO of Start-Up Nation Central Eugene Kandel — dubbed ‘Israel’s Larry Summers’ by Dan Senor.
John Dickerson on the ‘edginess’ during this year’s election: “I would argue the edginess has gone unaddressed for so many cycles, and people believe that their elections could be the vehicle to address their edginess, and they constantly kept getting disappointing results. So if you go through the drive-thru and ask for a ham sandwich and they hand you a cup of coffee, you’re irritated. They keep going through the drive-thru and they keep getting coffee.” Senor: “Especially irritating since for most people in this audience they’re Jewish.” (laughter) Dickerson: “Ok — or you order coffee and they keep giving you a ham sandwich (laughter), that’s the better analogy and now they’re giving you a suckling pig (laughter). The offense is greater the number of times you’ve gone through. It’s been happening for a while and we’re now at potentially a crisis point with the edginess.”
Dickerson: “The reason this keeps getting worse is that the system of politics basically incentivizes conflict. Mitt Romney said today he spent 70% of his time raising money when running for president. How do you raise money? Do you say things are going pretty well and I’d like to make some marginal changes? Or do you say ‘holy cow, we’re headed for doom, send your money now?’ The fundraising that is now required incentivizes and requires more extreme talk. If everything is at a crisis point then compromise with my opponent is no longer so possible.”
Paul Singer on Brexit: “In the discussion, what you’ve seen and heard is the pain of leaving this club. You’ve heard very little of ‘this is why it is so great for you in the U.K., to be subject to Brussels telling you what to do in thirty different areas.’ It’s not being pitched as ‘this is so cool, why are you leaving?’ It’s ‘you’re gonna be sorry you left this club.’ Of course, five or six other nations are sitting there saying, ‘wow, we don’t like this impingement on our sovereignty either but things are going to go very badly if we drift away’… The populism that you see in the US, in the UK, this is a result of what I think of is a tremendous distortion of public policy. Central banks have held up the markets. The middle class in the developed world is not doing so great. The clock is ticking on populism in a number of countries getting more and more extreme. If the developed world cannot develop sustainable, real growth then you ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of populism.”
Gen. David Petraeus, who is personally invested in at least two Israeli startups: “Start-Up Nation should be rewritten. It should be title ‘Scale-Up Nation’ and if I and a bunch of others have anything to do with it that’s what’s going to happen. What’s happened in Israel is up until recently, many startups get going and have a valuation of $150M which is pretty awesome and so they sell. Now they’re starting to scale-up. This is really going to be exciting because now you’ll have to have an affiliate in the U.S. which is extraordinary.”
Eugene Kandel: “Israel’s cyber security output is about 10% of global cyber security efforts. 20% of the world’s cyber VC money went into Israeli startups last year. We’re one of the most attacked nations on earth on every day. We’re defending ourselves, why not help defend everyone else too. It doesn’t require boots on the ground.”
SPOTTED: Terry Kassel, President of the Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson, Karen Davidson, Laura Lauder, Simone Friedman, Campbell Brown, Deborah Hochberg, Art & Dahlia Bilger, Phyllis & David Cook, Ed Levy, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, Marjan Greenblatt, Reut’s Gidi Grinstein, Betty Grinstein, Ron & Victoria Mann Simms, Shel & Marianne Lubar, Lisa & Larry Singer, Gordan Segal, Abigail Trenk, Tobey Gordon-Dichter & Mark Dichter, Golda & Sheldon Friedstein, Orly Friedman, Jeffrey Grinspoon, Margo Pritzker, and Paul Edgerley.
HEARD LAST NIGHT at Jeffrey Goldberg’s Third Annual Comedy Night at Belly Up: “One of my great heroes Jason Rezaian is here,” Goldberg began. “I ran into him earlier today and told him he should come to comedy night. He asked ‘is it good?’ And I said ‘compared to what?’ And he said ‘solitary confinement in an Iranian prison (laughter) and I said ‘look I don’t want to prejudge this or over promise.’ (laughter)… “This has a become a very popular ticket at Aspen. We’ve discussed over the past year possibly moving this to a larger venue. We’ve looked at the ballroom at the St. Regis, the Greenwald Pavilion, we looked at doing it on David Rubenstein’s plane (laughter), we’ve looked at doing it in Lynda Resnick’s bathroom (laughter), not the master bathroom but the powder room.” (laughter)
“We’ve decided to keep this at the Belly Up. Thank you Michael Goldberg, the proprietor of the Belly Up. Michael is many things including a very very large Jew. If only the Jews of Europe were as big as Michael they would mess with someone else. (laughter) Michael’s brother is professional wrestler Bill Goldberg. When he enters an arena, in just a speedo and the speedo is so tight there’s no doubting that he’s Jewish (laughter) Think about it for a minute, you’ll get it. (laughter) He enters an arena and there’s 20,000 people screaming ‘Goldberg, Goldberg’ and it’s not a prelude to a pogrom, it’s an unbelievable thing. His whole career is a testament to American openness and tolerance and pluralism and I know that’s all coming to end unfortunately but it was good while it lasted.” (laughter)
Comedians included Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, New York Times’ columnist David Brooks, Lynda Resnick, SiriusXM host Pete Dominick, SNL writer Katie Rich, Maz Jobrani, The Atlantic’s Emily Yoffie, former Obama speechwriter David Litt, HBO’s Travon Free, Atlantic Mag editor Scott Stossel, Aspen Institute’s Eric Motley, Alex Wagner, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, and Bob Costas of NBC Sports.
David Brooks: “I’m the conservative columnist for the New York Times, a job I liken to being Chief Rabbi of Mecca. (laughter) Some of you know I wrote a book on character about a year ago and over the course of that I’ve learned that just writing a book on character doesn’t mean you have good character, reading a book on character doesn’t mean you have good character, but buying a book character however… (laughter) When I moved to D.C., my spiritual life went cold. I was secular at the time but my then wife decided to convert to Judaism, then she decided to study for the rabbinate, she decided to keep a kosher home, and this is how we know god must exist cause only he would go this far out of his way to screw me this badly. (laughter) That got me thinking if god does exist, will sentence me to hell for my sins? Will I spend all of eternity playing twister with Ted Cruz?” (laughter)
OTHER ASPEN HIGHLIGHTS — Jeffrey Goldberg: “Oh, there are Jews in journalism?” David Rothkopf: “Yes, it’s the matzah ceiling, we’ve broken through.” [Twitter] • Yuri Milner: “Probably the most interesting questions are the ones that don’t lead to any profit” [Twitter] • Mitt Romney channeling Ben Rhodes: “You can’t read about yourself in the news and worry about what some 25-year-old is writing about you” [Twitter] • Bryan Stevenson: “Germany wants you to reflect at Auschwitz. We don’t have places like that to reflect on American slavery” [Twitter] • Syrian-American composer & pianist Malek Jandali: “The brutal dictator Assad is destroying synagogues, churches, culture” [Twitter]
“GOP donor Paul Singer says Trump would cause a depression” by Jeff Cox: “The most impactful of the economic policies that I recall him coming out for are these anti-trade policies,” Singer said during a panel discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. “And I think if he actually stuck to those policies and gets elected president, it’s close to a guarantee of a global depression, widespread global depression.” Singer said Wednesday that he may not vote for anyone in the race between presumptive nominees Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, and joked he is considering writing himself in.” [CNBC]
Gary Rosenblatt: “Among “Israel firsters” — those who vote primarily on what they believe is best for Israel — I find more and more people saying they may well vote for Trump, based on their dislike and distrust of Clinton and their reasoning that Trump will stand up for Israel more forcefully and openly than Clinton.” [JewishWeek]
“ADL Calls on GOP to Adopt Same Israel Language Approved by Dems’ by Jacob Kornbluh:“The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Wednesday praised the Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee for affirming America’s “longstanding commitment to Israel’s security” and the pursuit of the two-state solution and called on the Republican Party to approve “similarly strong and unifying language” in its platform so that both platforms ‘reflect America’s strong bipartisan support for Israel.’” [JewishInsider]
“Poll: 92 Percent Comfortable with Jewish Vice President” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Ninety-two percent of U.S. voters say they are comfortable with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump choosing a Jewish running mate, a new Quinnipiac poll, published on Wednesday showed. As many as 78 percent said they would feel “very comfortable” with a Jewish Vice President. Among Democrats, 78 percent felt very comfortable with a Jewish Vice President. Republicans were a bit less accepting of a minority Vice President across the board. Sixty-nine percent were “very comfortable” with a Jewish pick.”[JewishInsider; WashPost]
“Graham: White House fighting anti-ISIS package because it funds Israel” by Joel Gehrke: “Secretary of State John Kerry wants $1 billion of that funding to focus on Iraq, Syria and Libya, according to Graham, who also wants to send money to regional allies such as Jordan and Israel. “John Kerry is on my side,” the South Carolina Republican told the Washington Examiner. “The problem is this sort of animosity, I guess, toward Bibi and his government.” Graham said he raised the issue during the classified briefing and received a warm reception from a powerful trio of Democrats.. “I’ve got a lot of Democrats come up to me and said ‘this is ridiculous,'” Graham said. “I had Schumer — I had a bunch of people come up and say ‘I want to help you get more money for Israel because they’re under threat, and I want to help the region as a whole.'” [WashExaminer]
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: “Carlyle CEO Rubenstein Says Brexit Won’t Cause ‘Calamity’” by Lexi Nahl: “David Rubenstein, co-founder of Carlyle Group LP, said Britain’s vote to exit from the European Union will depress U.K. economic growth and mergers and acquisitions activity, but won’t have disastrous effects.” [Bloomberg]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Ronald Perelman Donates $75 Million for Arts Complex at World Trade Center Site” by Michael Cooper: “Less than a year since he stepped down as the chairman of Carnegie Hall after clashing with its staff, Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire businessman, announced Wednesday that he was donating $75 million to revive plans to build a performing arts center at the World Trade Center site.” [NYTimes]
TOP TALKER: “Jeremy Corbyn Reported To Compliance Unit After Appearing To Compare Actions Of Israel To ISIS” by Siraj Datoo and James Ball: “The leader of the Labour party has been reported to the party’s compliance unit after he appeared to compare the actions of the Israeli government with that of the terrorist organisation ISIS. Jeremy Corbyn was speaking at the launch of the party’s report into anti-Semitism and racism on Thursday… “To assume that a Jewish friend or fellow member is wealthy, part of some kind of financial or media conspiracy, or takes a particular position on politics in general, or on Israel and Palestine in particular, is just wrong. Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu Government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations,” he said.” [BuzzFeed; Haaretz]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “Secret Tunnel Built By Jewish Prisoners To Escape Nazis Found” by Ed Mazza: “Shackled by their German captors, 80 prisoners from the Stutthof concentration camp were sent to a site of mass killings in Lithuania. There, they were ordered to dig up the graves and burn the bodies. At night, the captives were imprisoned in the pit that had been used for mass executions. Now, scientists using ground-penetrating radar and other high-tech methods have uncovered the tunnel in Ponar that the “Burning Brigade” quietly dug for months using only spoons and their bare hands in an attempt to escape. The Israel Antiquities Authority said the prisoners in the pit cut their shackles with a nail file on April 15, 1944 — the night of Passover — and 40 crawled through the tunnel and into the forest. However, they were quickly discovered and only 12 survived to tell the world what happened.” [HuffPost]
BIRTHDAYS: New York State Assemblyman whose district includes Borough Park, Dov Hikind turns 66… Reggae and alternative rock musician, Matisyahu (born Matthew Paul Miller) turns 37… Michal Adar… Leedel Chittim Williamson… Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry and professor emeritus at Stanford University, Paul Berg turns 90… Former Harvard professor and author of books on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, Daniel Goldhagen turns 57… Senior editor at The Atlantic and former Bush 43 speechwriter, David Frum turns 56… Former Chief of Staff to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and now Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Periscope, a McKinsey company, Kyle Plotkin…
**Join us for Friday Night in Aspen: On July 1st, Jewish Insider will host a Friday Night Dinner, nourished by OneTable, on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival in downtown Aspen. The dinner will feature a conversation between Leon Wieseltier and Julia Ioffe along with an upscale Israeli/California wine tasting courtesy of our weekly wine columnist Yitz Applbaum. Details and request for invitation here**