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JI PROFILE: Inside Senator Bob Corker’s Realist Doctrine — by Aaron Magid: It was a rare and dramatic moment of Congressional foreign policy activism. On June 26, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, singlehandedly blocked all U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and five other Arab regimes until the public feud between those countries and Qatar ended. With no resolution in sight, Corker’s decision to withhold consent has prevented the White House from shoring up military ties with Saudi Arabia. Corker’s move came just two weeks after 47 of his Senate colleagues objected to arms sales to Riyadh in a tight vote, with many citing human rights violations and the country’s “indiscriminate killing” in Yemen. At the time, Corker insisted that Saudi Arabia had not intentionally bombed civilians and sided with 52 other lawmakers to proceed with the arms deal.
The rollercoaster month highlighted how a lawmaker from Tennessee, with a worldview distinct from the neoconservatives who typically dominate GOP foreign policy, wields significant influence over U.S. diplomacy. Welcome to Senator Bob Corker’s realpolitik foreign policy doctrine: maintaining strong ties with U.S. allies while rejecting arguments to prioritize human rights concerns when implementing sensitive international agreements.
During a recent sit-down interview with Jewish Insider in his Senate office, the affable Corker explained that he is neither “an ideologue or a neo-con” but rather a “pragmatic realist.” “I am a business guy and want to constantly figure out ways of advancing our national interest, but I am not locked into an ideological frame,” he said. Corker has tried to adopt a more realpolitik strategy putting aside ideological concerns in favor of maintaining productive ties with both Israel, its neighboring Arab states and international institutions. He declined to co-sponsor legislation that would defund the United Nations after the passage of UNSC 2334 as well as legislation demanding the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. At the same time, Corker marshalled support in recent months to advance the Taylor Force Act out of committee.
Last month, Corker met with Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt. Recalling the discussion, Corker appeared to lack the Trump administration’s enthusiasm to invest the White House’s limited resources on Israeli-Palestinian talks. “It’s interesting to me that they are pursuing it, but there are a lot of other issues that I think could be resolved and are resolvable. I don’t think this one, in the short term, is one of those,” Corker asserted. While some in the Trump administration may be trying to secure the “ultimate deal” for ideological reasons, Corker’s focus on pragmatic goals in the turbulent Middle East highlights his realism doctrine.
Jared Kushner tells us: “Senator Corker is a leading voice on some of the most serious issues facing our country and provides valuable guidance, advice and input both when he agrees and disagrees with us. It has been a tremendous honor to work with him on various projects including the President’s first international trip.”
When Corker initially entered Congress, “he questioned the value of being in the Senate,” noted Norm Coleman, who currently serves as Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “I don’t know if he found the Senate that exciting: there was a lot of talk and not a lot of action.” Yet, Corker’s rise to Chairman of Foreign Relations has now offered him a substantive and influential role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. Read the full profile on Sen. Corker here [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET — Eyes on Pyongyang — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Israeli media has been following the US-North Korea standoff quite closely in recent days. Most politicians, however, are keeping a distance from the topic, and have not responded to inquiries on the latest events. Likud minister Tzahi Hanegbi explained earlier this week that “we do not want to be dragged into the North Korea clash. We trust that the US leadership will know how to deal with the North Korean aggression, which is just like Iranian aggression.”
Kulanu Deputy Minister and former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren told Kafe Knesset today that “everyone is looking at the situation. We are and the Iranians are as well. Israel has an interest in the US taking a strong stand against the North Korean nuclear program. North Korea is an enemy country and supports our enemies. North Korea built the Syrian nuclear reactor. Syria is a close ally of Iran, therefore Iran is a North Korean ally. Israel has an interest in what happens because of the Iranian nuclear program. The North Koreans have violated international agreements just like the Iranians are trying to, and because it affects our allies Japan and South Korea.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
NEW DETAILS: “Headed by Mossad Chief, Israeli Defense Delegation to Fly to Washington for White House Talks on Syria” by Barak Ravid: “The delegation will be headed by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, and he will be joined by the head of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, as well as the head of the Defense Ministry’s political-security department, Zohar Palti… “Talks will focus on Israel’s security needs vis-a-vis Syria and Lebanon, and will not deal with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” [a] White House official said. “The delegation’s arrival in Washington is a powerful sign of the trust between Israel and McMaster.”” [Haaretz] • Has US sacrificed Israel for Syria deal? [AlMonitor]
“The Pentagon Fills Hezbollah’s Shopping List” by Tony Badran: “Yet even in the fever-dreams of Hezbollah’s bunker-bound leader, Hassan Nasrallah, it seems unlikely that anyone in the group imagined that the Pentagon would simply ship the advanced American gear they sought to obtain to Lebanon, gratis. But On Monday, US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard revealed that the Pentagon has done exactly that – or near enough to make Hassan Nasrallah jump for joy inside his bunker. In remarks delivered at the Port of Beirut, Ambassador Richard reviewed the material contents of a $100 million contribution that the US is making to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which last month provided support to Hezbollah in a joint military operation in northeastern Lebanon.” [TabletMag]
“Tony Blair’s Middle East envoy work secretly bankrolled by wealthy Arab state” by Edward Malnick: “Tony Blair’s work as a Middle East envoy trying to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict was secretly funded by a wealthy Arab state which also employed him as a paid adviser, leaked emails seen by the Telegraph reveal. The United Arab Emirates quietly financed Mr Blair’s London office while he also received millions in consultancy fees from the state and the sovereign wealth fund of its capital, Abu Dhabi… A spokeswoman for the former Labour leader said he received the money to bankroll the travel expenses of him and his staff. But she insisted there was no conflict of interest between this and the work he did as envoy for the Office of the Quartet.” [Telegraph; DailyMail]
TOP TALKER: “Bannon in Limbo as Trump Faces Growing Calls for the Strategist’s Ouster” by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “Mr. Trump has now relegated [Steve] Bannon to a kind of internal exile… At a recent dinner at the White House with [Jared] Kushner and [John] Kelly, before Mr. Trump decamped for a working vacation at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., the president listened while one of the guests, Mr. Murdoch, a founder of Fox News, said Mr. Bannon had to go. Mr. Trump offered little pushback, according to a person familiar with the conversation, and vented his frustrations about Mr. Bannon… Mr. Bannon’s ability to hang on as Mr. Trump’s in-house populist is in part because of his connections to a handful of ultrarich political patrons, including Sheldon G. Adelson, the pro-Israel, Las Vegas-based casino magnate.”
“Mr. Bannon’s protégé, chief speechwriter and policy director, Stephen Miller… has become one of the president’s favorite aides. Despite his image in the news media as a confrontational ideologue, Mr. Miller has proved to be a deft operator who has ingratiated himself to Mr. Kushner. Still, Mr. Bannon is a survivor… This spring, as Mr. Kushner pressured Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Bannon, the president shot back at his son-in-law. He was not going to get rid of him, he said, just because Mr. Kushner wanted him to go.” [NYTimes]
“Sheldon Adelson comes out in support of H.R. McMaster” by Jonathan Swan: “Andy Abboud, who represents Adelson, tells me: “Sheldon Adelson has nothing to do with the ZOA campaign against McMaster. Had no knowledge of it. And has provided zero support, and is perfectly comfortable with the role that McMaster is playing.” … Klein is increasingly isolated in his opposition to McMaster. His only senior ally inside the White House is Bannon; the rest of the senior staff has united in disgust at the outside campaign against McMaster. David Friedman, Trump’s staunchly pro-Israel ambassador, is vouching for McMaster, though he was unable to convince Klein.” [Axios]
Abboud tells CNN… “[Adelson] has heard from many people that McMaster is good on many Israeli issues… He hasn’t spoken to Mort Klein about it.”[CNN]
–Klein is currently on a speaking tour in Europe and could not immediately be reached for comment.
DRIVING THE CONVO: “Trump Condemns Racists but Creates New Uproar” by Glenn Thrush: “Racism is evil,” said Mr. Trump, delivering a statement from the White House at a hastily arranged appearance meant to halt the growing political threat posed by the unrest. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” … Shortly before leaving the capital, Mr. Trump attacked the news media for blowing the episode out of proportion.” [NYTimes]
“What Donald Trump didn’t say when he talked about white supremacists” by Juana Summers: “Yet the statement also lacked one powerful — and critical — component: Trump failed to specifically reject support of the white nationalists, racists and bigots who say they back him… This was a missed opportunity for the White House. But — unfortunately — the President will likely soon have another opportunity, as the white nationalist Richard Spencer has announced his plans to hold another rally in Charlottesville.”[CNN]
VIVID RECAP: VICE News Tonight correspondent Elle Reeve went behind the scenes with white nationalist leaders, including Christopher Cantwell, Robert Ray, David Duke, and Matthew Heimbach—as well as counter-protesters. VICE News Tonight also spoke with residents of Charlottesville, members of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Charlottesville Police. [Video]
“Trump Adviser Schwarzman Condemns Hatred After Virginia Violence” by Melissa Mittelman: “Blackstone Group LP’s Steve Schwarzman, who leads one of President Donald Trump’s business advisory forums, called for efforts to “heal” wounds… “Bigotry, hatred and extremism are an affront to core American values and have no place in this country,” Schwarzman said in an emailed statement Monday. “Encouraging tolerance and understanding must be a core national imperative and I will work to further that goal.” … On Saturday, at a party in East Hampton raising money for Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Schwarzman questioned criticism of Trump’s response, saying he didn’t think the president’s comment faulting “many sides” for the violence was far-reaching.” [Bloomberg]
ADL ‘troubled’ by Trump’s reluctance to denounce Alt-Right — by Jacob Kornbluh: During a press call yesterday, ADL CEO Jason Greenblatt cautioned that Trump’s statements “are no longer sufficient.” He criticized Trump for sending a message to “white supremacists and extremists rallying around his rhetoric” and for “his unwillingness to consistently and forcefully denounce their behavior.” Trump’s rhetoric, Greenblatt added, “was not a subtle dog whistle, but like a bullhorn and a signal for them to try and rise and take a seat at the center of the public conversation.”
Greenblatt tells us… “We have seen a pattern of the President equivocating in the face of intolerance, and an unwillingness to call out white supremacists, to name neo-Nazis, or to attack the alt-right. Let’s just say it’s hard to understand what his intentions are. I can’t discern what’s in his head or in his heart. At the ADL, we can only deal with the impact. And the impact is an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents. The impact is an increased tempo of white supremacist activity across the country. The impact is as we saw this weekend, unbridled violence from the worst elements of society. And so we find it very troubling that it has taken so long and it has been a serial issue.”[JewishInsider]
HEARD YESTERDAY – Van Jones on CNN’s AC360: “You have the father of a Jewish daughter in the White House, and some of the worst anti-Jewish and anti-black statements I’ve ever heard were pouring out of Charlottesville from these white supremacist groups. [Trump] had a rare opportunity – as the father of a Jewish daughter – to step forward and speak personally — personally about his feelings, and he didn’t do it, today or before.”
“Explaining Trump’s Charlottesville Behavior” by John Podhoretz: “Trump was not only feeding his inexhaustible maw for attention. He was reaching a group of disaffected Americans entirely on the margins of American life, politically and culturally and organizationally. The dedicated prole-media audience, which might make up 5 or 6 percent of the electorate, is not enough to make a base. But it’s enough to make a nucleus. And what they knew is that he didn’t dismiss them. They knew he was listening to them. They knew he wanted to talk to them, wanted to hear from them.” [CommentaryMag]
ANTI-BOYCOTT ACT: “Why some Jewish groups aren’t happy with Cory Booker” by Jonathan Salant: “Almost half the Senate, 49 of 100 lawmakers, are sponsoring the bill, as are 254 of 435 House members. Only four of New Jersey’s 14 members of Congress, Booker and Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-9th Dist.), Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th Dist.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.), are not on board. Booker, who has called BDS “an anti-Jewish movement,” is reviewing the legislation, spokesman Jeff Giertz said.”[NJAdvance]
SCENE YESTERDAY: Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan Meets With Israeli Ambassador: “Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan met with Ron Dermer, Ambassador of Israel to the United States, on Monday in separate events… Milligan attended a private luncheon in Little Rock hosted by the Jewish Federation of Arkansas, and then attended a ceremonial bill signing later that afternoon with Governor Asa Hutchinson and members of the State Board of Finance. “Soon after I took office, we were approached by representatives from an Israeli development corporation about the potential of bringing legislation to Arkansas that would allow the state to invest in bonds backed by Israel. We connected the representatives to Sen. Rapert, and through that connection, Act 644 was born,” Milligan said. Act 644 expands Arkansas’ investment opportunities to include the State of Israel.”[BoonevilleDemocrat; ArkansasOnline]
“Daughter of US Ambassador David Friedman makes aliyah” by Raphael Ahren: “Talia Friedman, a nurse in her 20s, boarded an aliyah flight in New York on Monday… “As a father, I celebrate my daughter Talia’s realization of a life long dream to become part of the State of Israel,” Ambassador Friedman told The Times of Israel on Monday evening. “Our entire family is bursting with pride at Talia’s vision and determination to help strengthen Medinat Yisrael [the State of Israel] — one of America’s strongest and most important allies.” … Friedman is not the only member of US President Donald Trump’s team to have children moving to Israel this month. Jason Greenblatt… on Sunday tweeted that his triplets are headed to the Jewish state for a gap year program of Jewish studies.” [ToI; JPost]
“Steve Israel Explains How Republicans Tried – and Failed – to Turn Jewish Voters Against the Democrats” by Amir Tibon: “When asked to sum up Obama’s legacy on the United States’ relationship with the Jewish state, [Steve] Israel used the words “conflicted” and “complicated.” His reasons: “The optics of the relationship were not good. The appearance was not positive. The headlines were all about tensions and disputes… This created an enormous sense of frustration for me, because I would go to town hall meetings and hear people accuse the administration of being anti-Israel, when in fact there were unprecedented levels of cooperation between Israel and the United States on the defense and intelligence fronts.” … As for President Donald Trump’s Israel policy, the former Congressman said it’s still too early to pass judgement… “I’m an outspoken critic of Trump and his policies on many issues, but with regards to Israel, I think he deserves more time to articulate a policy and implement it.”” [Haaretz]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: With 66M Monthly Visits, Yaron Ben Shaul’s HomeTalk Is On Its Way To Become The Next Houzz [Forbes] • Israeli Billionaire Beny Steinmetz Detained in Investigation [NYTimes; Reuters] • Montage’s Alan Fuerstman Is Hoping To Continue His Magic Touch With Pendry [Forbes] • Israel Medical Marijuana: Joint Panel Approves Government-Run Export Plan [IBTimes]
STARTUP NATION: “The tech industry is hiring Israeli engineers as fast as the army can produce them” by John Detrixhe: “There are about 90 Israeli companies listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, the most of any non-US nation apart from China. The sheer number of big foreign companies setting up shop in the country may eventually damage the startup sector, though, by snapping up the best engineers, choking off the supply of talent to innovative upstarts.” [QZ]
MEDIA WATCH: “Google cuts ties with neo-Nazi site for ‘inciting violence’” by Yaron Steinbuch: “Google has joined web hosting company GoDaddy in revoking the domain registration of the neo-Nazi website after it posted an article mocking an anti-hate crusader killed in Charlottesville… The Daily Stormer moved its registration to Alphabet Inc’s Google Domains… The domain was registered with Google a little before 11 a.m. EST and the company announced plans to revoke it at 1:56 p.m. EST.”[NYPost]
TALK OF THE TOWN — New York Gets Tougher on Community Center Bomb Threats: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law new penalties for those who make bomb threats against community centers. The Democratic governor approved the legislation Monday.” [AP]
“Boston Holocaust Memorial vandalized again, 1 arrested” by Macy Corica: “A witness tells Boston 25 News someone threw a rock at the memorial, shattering the glass. Police say the teen was detained by two bystanders until officers arrived. He will be charged with willful and malicious destruction of property… It was just over a month and a half ago when the memorial was vandalized… The memorial was recently rededicated after the damaged glass was replaced.” [Fox25]
“Outrage as Swiss hotel orders ‘Jewish guests’ to shower before swimming” by Nina Larson: “A Swiss hotel that posted signs telling Jewish clients to shower before using the pool and restricting their access to the facility’s freezer has unleashed outrage and official complaints from Israel… Paradies manager Ruth Thomann, who signed the notices, meanwhile insisted to Swiss daily 20Minutes that she was not an anti-Semite, and acknowledged that her “choice of words was a mistake.” She explained to the Blick daily that the apartment hotel currently had a lot of Jewish clients, and that other guests had complained that some of them did not shower before using the pool and had asked her to do something.” [AFP]
HOLLYWOOD: “Elizabeth Reaser joins Netflix’s ‘Haunting of Hill House’ Series” by Kate Stanhope: “Grey’s Anatomy grad Elizabeth Reaser and Kate Siegel (Hush) have all joined the drama, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Reaser, who will next be seen in NBC’s Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, is also known for her work in the Twilight films, The Good Wife and Mad Men. She is repped by UTA and Stone Genow. Siegel, whose other credits include Castle and Mob City, is repped by TCA/Jed Root.” [HollywoodReporter]
HAMPTONS SCENE: J-Rod hit the Hamptons’ hottest party” by Emily Smith: “J-Rod (Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez) hung out… at the bash at Ronald Perelman’s estate the Creeks in East Hampton… Also there were power brokers such as Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Harvey Weinstein, Discovery Communications’ David Zaslav, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, LionTree’s Aryeh Bourkoff, former Viacom boss Tom Freston, who was seen huddling with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.” [PageSix; VanityFair]
BIRTHDAYS: Founder of Slim-Fast which he sold to Unilever in 2000 for $2.1 billion, S. Daniel Abraham turns 93… Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Stephen Breyer turns 79… Irvin Farberturns 87… Treasurer of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, Chaim Chesler turns 68… Principal of Atlas Philanthropy, a consulting firm assisting charitable organizations with fundraising projects, Margot Atlasturns 48… Senior Director of Programming at MassChallenge (a global non-profit startup accelerator), Rachel Spekman turns 34… Director of communications, marketing strategy and content for Lemonade, a VC-backed startup in the peer to peer insurance industry, Yael Wissner-Levy turns 33… Product designer at Weight Watchers, Talia Siegel turns 26… Global growth and experimentation manager at UberEATS, Ezra Mosseri turns 24… Real estate and business law attorney in the Baltimore law firm of Abramoff Neuberger, Meir Neuberger… Joe Farry… Sel Gerber… David Summer…
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