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KAFE KNESSET — What does Trump want? — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Whether Israelis are skeptical or not (78% of Israelis think that there is no chance of a peace agreement with the Palestinians anytime soon), Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt is in Israel pushing something for peace. There have been different reports of what is going to happen next, and the PMO denied all of them. Channel 10 says that the US wants parts of Area C (Israeli control) in the West Bank moved to Area B (Palestinian control). Ma’ariv reported that Netanyahu is considering a plan written by MK Anat Berko (Likud) to transfer Arab neighborhoods that are in Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries but beyond the security barrier to the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile, the PMO and the White House are keeping mum about what happened in Greenblatt’s meeting with Netanyahu on Thursday [Pic]. Abbas also met with Greenblatt yesterday, and he talked to him about the demands of Palestinian terrorists who are on a hunger strike in Israeli prisons. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
Greenblatt tweeted this morning: “Great to be back home after an incredible trip with @POTUS. Thanks to my kids for such a great welcome home sign!” [Twitter] • Flags on the sign: US, Israel, Italy and Saudi Arabia.
PRESIDENT-IN-LAW: “Jared Kushner Under Scrutiny in Russia Probe, Say Officials” by Ken Dilanian, Peter Alexander and Courtney Kube: “Jared Kushner… has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News. Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him… It is not known whether Kushner has received any records requests from federal investigators.” [NBCNews; WashPost]
“Points of focus that pertain to Kushner include: the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation; his relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn; and Kushner’s own contacts with Russians… There is no indication Kushner is currently a target of the probe and there are no allegations he committed any wrongdoing.” [CNN] • Jared Kushner’s Russia Problems [NewYorker]
DEEP DIVE: “Meet the Real Jared Kushner” by David Freedlander: “Those who know him from his days as a young New York real estate magnate and newspaper publisher say that America is just getting to know the Jared Kushner they have always known, that beneath the unflappable golden exterior is someone unafraid to bungee jump or to counter-punch when he feels slighted. “Polite elegance,” said his friend Strauss Zelnick, an entertainment mogul and founder of the private equity firm Zelnick Media Capital, when asked to describe Kushner’s modus operandi. But, Zelnick added, “He’s tough. In an exceedingly polite way, he is as tough as any one is in New York City real estate.” … It has always been part of the Kushner Way: unfailingly polite and urbane on the surface, while searching for the soft underbelly to stick the knife in.” [PoliticoMag] • MAD Magazine gives Trump adviser Jared Kushner the Alfred E. Neuman treatment [WashTimes]
“Lieberman Withdraws From Consideration as FBI Director, Citing Appearance of Conflict of Interest” by Rebecca Ballhaus: “I do believe it would be best to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, given my role as senior counsel in the law firm of which Marc [Kasowitz] is the senior partner,” Mr. Lieberman wrote in the letter dated Wednesday.” [WSJ]
“Joe Lieberman: FBI Appointment Would Have Looked ‘Terrible’” by Andrew Rafferty: “With everything swirling in Washington, you can’t have a director of the FBI coming from the same law firm as the president’s private lawyer. It looks terrible,” Lieberman said in an interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace… While Republicans were largely approving of him becoming the next head of the FBI, Democrats said they would like to see a non-politician with a law enforcement background take the job. “I was disappointed but you know, I guess when I step back from it I wasn’t surprised because everything is so partisan in Washington,” Lieberman said. “There’s still a group, probably in the far left of the Democratic party, who still doesn’t forgive me.” [NBCNews]
SCHWARZMAN’S ART OF THE DEAL: “Blackstone Works With Saudi Arabia on U.S. Infrastructure Investments” by Kate Kelly and Landon Thomas Jr.: “A little over a year ago, the private equity titan Stephen A. Schwarzman sat down with Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and chairman of the kingdom’s largest sovereign wealth fund, in hopes of expanding their relationship. Mr. Schwarzman’s company, the Blackstone Group, already counted Prince bin Salman’s Public Investment Fund as a major client. But the American financier now had a bold new idea: Court Saudi money to invest in projects like tunnels, bridges, airports and other sorely needed infrastructure improvements, predominantly in the United States… Thirteen months and one election upset later, Mr. Schwarzman, who leads an elite committee of business executives advising President Trump, has announced a $20 billion cornerstone investment by the Saudi entity in a soon-to-be-created Blackstone infrastructure fund…” [NYTimes] • Kushners’ Blackstone Connection Put on Display in Saudi Arabia [Bloomberg]
“Why Middle East peace starts in Saudi Arabia” by Charles Krauthammer: “Obama’s tilt toward Iran in the great Muslim civil war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Arabs led by Saudi Arabia was his reach for Nixon-to-China glory. It ended ignominiously. The idea that the nuclear deal would make Iran more moderate has proved spectacularly wrong… After eight years of U.S. policy hovering between neglect and betrayal, the Sunni Arabs are relieved to have America back. A salutary side effect is the possibility of a detente with Israel.”
“That would suggest an outside-in approach to Arab-Israeli peace: a rapprochement between the Sunni state and Israel (the outside) would put pressure on the Palestinians to come to terms (the inside). It’s a long-shot strategy but it’s better than all the others. Unfortunately, Trump muddied the waters a bit in Israel by at times reverting to the opposite strategy — the inside-out — by saying that an Israeli-Palestinian deal would “begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East.” And apart from being delusional, the inside-out strategy is at present impossible. Palestinian leadership is both hopelessly weak and irredeemably rejectionist.” [WashPost]
ON THE HILL — Senate Foreign Relations Committee advances Iran sanctions bill — by Aaron Magid: By an 18-3 vote majority, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced Iran sanctions legislation setting up a full floor wide vote. The bill “imposes mandatory sanctions on persons involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program and those that transact with them” while enforcing an arms embargo of prohibited weapons to and from Iran. S. 722 currently enjoys 48 co-sponsors and with near unanimous Republican backing along with significant Democratic support is likely to be approved by the entire Senate during a floor wide vote.
Prior the vote, Senator James Risch (R-ID) argued that the current sanctions legislation should have been part of the original nuclear deal. “We shouldn’t have to do this,” he added that “these people are not people who want to get on the international stage and take a place with the rest of the countries that want to see peace and harmony.” This provoked one of the tensest moments of the debate, as Senator Tim Kaine (D-VI) quickly interjected, “These people — that’s a tough, tough phrase. We’ve got no beef with Iranian people.”
“Former Obama Officials Relieved By Partial Victory On Iran Sanctions Bill” by Jessica Schulberg: “With a well-coordinated public and private messaging campaign, a group of Obama alumni succeeded in altering two sections of the bill they deemed risky. The amended legislation, approved by a vote of 18-3, changes language that would impose sanctions on anyone the president determines “poses a risk of materially contributing” to Iran’s ballistic missile program, to anyone who “knowingly” contributes to the program… Lawmakers also reworded a section that would have created new conditions for lifting some ballistic missile sanctions that are set to expire in seven years as part of the nuclear deal.” [HuffPost]
— The SFRC also passed by voice vote a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. S. 176 “reaffirms the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–45) as United States law, and calls upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions” while also noting the bipartisan US policy that Jerusalem remains an issue within final status negotiations as part of the two state solution framework. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) co-sponsored the measure. [JewishInsider]
“Pence, House leaders to honor Sheldon and Miriam Adelson at DC fundraiser” by Gary Martin: “Vice President Mike Pence and House leaders will honor Las Vegas residents Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson at a June 7 fundraiser in Washington for the National Republican Campaign Committee… The Washington fundraiser honoring the Adelsons requests contributions of up to $50,000 per couple.” [LVReviewJournal]
–Also on June 7th, Speaker Paul Ryan will be the honorary host of an event on Capitol Hill commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
At Yeshiva University, Dr. Dermer Makes His Jewish Mom Proud — by Jacob Kornbluh: “Doctor Dermer, Doctor Dermer. Finally, after all these years, my Jewish mother can be proud,” the American-born Israeli Ambassador [Ron Dermer] said with a touch of pride in his voice after receiving YU’s honorary doctorate. The Donald Trump connection: “When I was 15, I read a best-selling book by a very successful entrepreneur who had gone to the Wharton School of Business. I wanted to be an entrepreneur too so I decided to study there. But my life ended up taking a very different course. From an interest in business and finance, I became interested in public policy and politics, and later decided to move to Israel determined to serve my new country. The funny thing is, I just saw the author of that best-selling book in Israel and he lives not far from me in Washington. His book is called the ‘Art of the Deal’ and people call him President Donald Trump. I guess reading that book proved to be very useful after all.” [JewishInsider]
LIFE LESSONS — whether on Amtrak or United… “A Palestinian’s first-class seat next to Naftali Bennett” by Jamil Dakwar: “Business class ticket in hand, I proceeded to board the plane, looking for seat 2A. Imagine my surprise to discover, in seat 2B, one of the most right-wing nationalists in Israel’s government… Things got even more interesting when before takeoff, [Minister Naftali] Bennett got on his phone, via a hands-free headset. In listening to him loudly and freely chat away, I deduced that he must have been speaking with a reporter… Bennett provided his opinion and analysis on what he called “the three axes” controlling the narrative that Israel, and especially Benjamin Netanyahu, are peace “refuseniks.”” [972Mag]
2018 WATCH: “Key Republicans Are Encouraging Hillbilly Elegy Author J.D. Vance To Run For Senate In Ohio” by Henry J. Gomez: “The recruiting overtures reflect unease with the early GOP frontrunner, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is seeking a rematch with Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown… “The donors are kind of wishy-washy on Josh,” said one top Republican activist who has discussed a draft Vance scenario with party insiders… Mandel has aligned himself closely with Trump… Little of this endears Mandel to Ohio’s GOP establishment leaders. Many are close to [John] Kasich, who has a chilly relationship with Mandel. But the Kasich faction… enjoys less clout than it once did.” [BuzzFeed]
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SPOTLIGHT: “Mark Zuckerberg shares the prayer he says to his daughter every night” by Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave the commencement address at Harvard University on Thursday, closing his speech by sharing a Jewish prayer called the “Mi Shebeirach,” which he said he recites whenever he faces a big challenge and which he sings to his daughter, thinking of her future, when he tucks her in at night. “It goes, ‘May the source of strength who blessed the ones before us help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing,’ ” he said. “I hope you find the courage to make your life a blessing.” Zuckerberg was quoting a version of the “Mi Shebeirach” prayer for healing that was written by Debbie Friedman, one of the most significant Jewish musicians of the past 50 years.” [WashPost] • Mark Zuckerberg Positions Himself As The Anti-Trump In Speech To Harvard [BuzzFeed]
“Mark Zuckerberg’s Great American Road Trip” by Mike Isaac: “In March, Mark Zuckerberg visited the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the site of a mass murder by a white supremacist. Last month, he went to Dayton, Ohio, to sit down with recovering opioid addicts at a rehabilitation center. And he spent an afternoon in Blanchardville, Wis., with Jed Gant, whose family has owned a dairy and beef cattle farm for six generations. These were all stops along a road trip by Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, across the United States this year. His goal: to visit every state in the union and learn more about a sliver of the nearly two billion people who regularly use the social network.” [NYTimes]
“Bob Iger: New ‘Avatar’ land features Disney’s most advanced ride yet” by Julia Horowitz: “Pandora: The World of Avatar,” which opens at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Florida on Saturday, will feature the most advanced ride the company has ever created, Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNNMoney’s Christine Romans in an interview at the theme park… Iger, who recently extended his contract through July 2019, shrugged off rumors he’s weighing a run for president in 2020. “I haven’t made any plans post-Disney,” he said. Besides, he added, he’s been told it’s a tough gig. “I did have a discussion, actually, with President Obama at one point and Mrs. Obama about who had the more fun job,” Iger said. “They concluded that I did.” [CNNMoney]
WINE OF THE WEEK — Herzog Reserve Single Vineyard 2013 Ink Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon — by Yitz Applbaum: There is a Hebrew saying that has always resonated with me: “a person’s name reflects his personality.” This saying can definitely be applied equally well to the Herzog Reserve Single Vineyard 2013 Ink Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Ink Ranch refers to a magnificent vineyard in Napa Valley but the name also goes a step deeper and describes the nature of the wine.
The wine is a deep, dark purple. This wine has been thoroughly oaked. The Herzog Reserve Single Vineyard 2013 Ink Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon has delicately soft tannins on the front palate, a berry-medley taste and a long supple finish. The finish is characteristic of all Herzog Special Reserve wines. This wine will age well for three to five years. It is best had with veal. Lots and lots of veal. [HerzogWine]
“Meet Roni Saslove, Israel’s pioneering female winemaker” by Lilit Marcus: “The Canada-born, Israel-bred winemaker, sommelier and educator has a love of the outdoors and the wine industry in her blood. Her father, Barry Saslove, founded his namesake Saslove Winery in the Golan Heights in 1991, and it became clear that Roni would be the one of his children to pursue the family business. She worked on her first wine harvest at the age of just fourteen and was immediately hooked… Now, she has become a sort of Israeli wine ambassador, traveling the world on behalf of her homeland and encouraging people around the world to try some of the best wines coming out of Israel. “Israeli wines — kind of like Israel — they’re very complex,” she laughs.” [CNN]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Political commentator and history professor at Brandeis and Georgetown, Walter Ze’ev Laqueur turns 96… World reknowned political cartoonist and journalist, cartoonist for Yediot Aharonot (1957-1967), Life Magazine (1968-1972) and many world-wide newspapers, Ranan Lurie turns 85… Public speaker, teacher and author of more than 30 books on the English language, he writes the weekly column “Looking at Language” that is syndicated in newspapers throughout the US, Richard Lederer turns 79… Member of the US House of Representatives (D – IL 9th) since 1999, Janice Danoff “Jan” Schakowsky turns 73… Emmy award winning SVP of News at NPR, Michael Oreskes turns 63… NYC real estate developer, Chair of The Charles H. Revson Foundation and a Commissioner on the NYC Planning Commission, Cheryl Cohen Effron turns 52… Counsel in the fintech and payments practice at the DC office of Paul Hastings, she was previously a lobbyist for Quicken Loans and Chrysler and a senior aide on Capitol Hill, Dina Ellis Rochkind turns 48… South Florida entrepreneur, Sholom Zeines turns 37… Litigation associate in the Washington office of Covington & Burling LLP, Benjamin L. Cavataro turns 28… Program Assistant at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Morgan Jacobs turns 27… Tel Aviv-based freelance journalist, formerly a producer at NBC News in New York, Yardena Schwartz… Eytan Merkin…
SATURDAY: Author of many best-selling books including fiction such as The Caine Mutiny (1951) and non-fiction such as This Is My G-d (1959), Herman Wouk turns 102… Billionaire businessman and media magnate, until recently the executive chairman of both CBS and Viacom, Sumner Redstone (born Sumner Murray Rothstein) turns 94… National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, Henry Kissinger, winner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize turns 94… Professor of International Marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Philip Kotler turns 86… CEO of British real estate firm Heron International, he has built 168 buildings in nine countries, Gerald Ronson turns 78… Actor, producer and real estate developer, Zack Norman (born Howard Jerrold Zuker) turns 77… School rabbi and director of Jewish studies at The Rashi School, a K-8 Reform Jewish school in Dedham, Massachusetts, Ellen Weinstein Pildis turns 67… Former MLB pitcher (1978-1982) who played for the White Sox and Pirates, Ross Baumgarten turns 62… Former MLB pitcher (1979-1990) who played for the Angels, Red Sox and Brewers, Mark Clear turns 61… Marriage counselor, therapist and author Sherry Amatenstein turns 60… Dallas-based trial lawyer, political activist and Jewish community leader, he served for six years as Chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Marc R. Stanley turns 60… Beverly Hills-based immigration attorney, founder and chairman of the Los Angeles Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, Neil J. Sheff turns 56… Political strategist best known as the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign, David Plouffe turns 50… General Manager of Phibro Israel, Jonathan Bendheim turns 41… Philadelphia Inquirer’s reporter in Trenton, Andrew Seidman… Long time senior editor for The New Republic, now at the New York Times, Rhodes Scholar Noam Scheiber… Associate Director of Development at JCRC of NY, Grant Silverstein… Emily Cohen… Joshua Fitterman…
SUNDAY: Founding rabbi of both Lincoln Square Synagogue in NYC and then later the City of Efrat in the Judean Hills, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin turns 77… UCSF’s neurologist and biochemist, director of UCSF’s Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Stanley Benjamin Prusiner M.D. turns 75… Former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani turns 73… Winnipeg-born attorney, previous campaign chair for Winnipeg’s Combined Jewish Appeal and governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Gail Sheryl Asper turns 57… Member of the Knesset since 2009 on behalf of the Likud party, he serves as Minister of Science, Technology and Space, Ofir Akunis turns 44… Manager of the Executive Office at The Pew Charitable Trusts, Lauren Mandelker turns 36… Real estate entrepreneur, member of the Pritzker family of Hyatt Hotels, Matthew Pritzker turns 35… Special Assistant for Community Affairs (Jewish Liason) for New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, David A. Lobl turns 33… Founder of At The Well, a wellness organization rooted in Jewish spirituality and women’s health, Sarah Michal Waxman turns 31… Associate Editor for the Forward, Thea Glassman turns 26… Harry Weinstein, studying at Fudan University in Shanghai next year as a Zeidman Fellow (in memory of John Fischer Zeidman of DC) turns 18. In honor of his birthday, Harry is encouraging donations to Chai Lifeline (h/t Harry’s dad Ken)… Named for his dad, the late Wall Street Journal bureau chief murdered by Pakistani terrorists a few months before he was born, Adam Daniel Pearl turns 15… Politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News, Adelle Nazarian… Irwin Weiss…
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