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HEARD LAST NIGHT — Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz discussed Israel, the Iran deal, and other related topics during an event hosted by Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at Columbia University in NY. Despite expectations that he would be shouted down by protesters, the event was without any disturbances. Dershowitz urged the audience to asked him tough questions.
Highlights: “Some people confuse the hard left with liberals. Liberals support Israel. They may be critical of Israel, but they support Israel. Every liberal senator in the U.S. Senate today, they are all strong supporters of Israel… I think the liberal case for Israel is a very strong one… People say to me all the time, ‘Oh, you’re a Zionist and pro-Israel, you should leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican.’ No way! I’ll never give up the Democratic Party and turn it over to the Keith Ellisons.”
On the Iran deal: “The deal itself is a good deal, if it were permanent. If Iran complies with every single word of the deal, cheats not at all, it will still be in a position to develop a nuclear arsenal much bigger than North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, certainly within 15 years… My view is the Iranians won’t develop nuclear weapons unless they are ready to use it. They’ll always be on the threshold, but they will not make the conversion because they know that when they make the conversion that Israel would attack them, that the U.S. might… So in some respect, President Obama just kicked the can down the road. Iran did not develop nuclear weapons on his watch and it won’t develop nuclear weapons on President Trump’s watch — whether it’d be one term or two terms — but it will certainly develop nuclear weapons within 8-12 years, and Israel will not allow that.”
Turning to the students, Dershowitz added, “You are going to live in dangerous times because very difficult decisions will have to be made on your watch when you in this audience are members of Congress and you will be; when you are working in the White House and you will be…You are going to have to make some of the hardest decisions that any government has ever had to make. Life is not going to be easy for your generation.” [Video]
IN JERUSALEM, Netanyahu’s message to Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt: Palestinian actions harming chances for peace: “Netanyahu told Greenblatt, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman who also attended the meeting in Jerusalem, that the refusal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to condemn Tuesday’s terror attack in Har Adar… gravely undermined the prospects of achieving an accord. In addition, two other international political steps by the Palestinians in the past week showed that the Palestinian leadership was trying to avoid direct negotiations with Israel, he said. Netanyahu highlighted the PA’s successful bid to join Interpol and its efforts to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court.” [ToI]
“Trump’s Ambassador Told Netanyahu: Don’t Go Overboard With Settlements” by Barak Ravid and Yotam Berger: “Netanyahu boasted at the meeting with the heads of Council of Judea and Samaria that he had convinced the Americans to take the distinction between settlement blocs and isolated settlements off the table… One of the settlement leaders who was at the meeting… said that the prime minister told them that at the end of his meeting with the Americans, Friedman insinuated to the Israeli team not to go overboard in regards to pushing new construction in the settlements. Netanyahu quoted Friedman by using the Hebrew equivalent of “grasp all, lose all.”
“One of the participants… noted that Netanyahu tried to demonstrate the amount of American pressure he endured by quoting what senior Trump administration officials had told him and his advisers regarding the settlement building issue. “Tell them what the Americans told you,” Netanyahu said to his chief of staff, Yoav Horowitz. “You can be a pig but don’t be a chazer,'” using a Yiddish term for pig which also refers to a person who is acting selfish. Netanyahu said… that Trump is… “liable to come and lay a piece of paper on the table.”” [Haaretz]
— Friedman in an interview to Walla News: “I think the settlements are part of Israel… There was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank. And I think that’s exactly what, you know, Israel has done. I mean, they’re only occupying 2% of the West Bank. There is important nationalistic, historical, religious significance to those settlements, and I think the settlers view themselves as Israelis and Israel views the settlers as Israelis.” [Walla]
DRIVING THE CONVO: After Trump’s third meeting with Bibi, Middle East experts perplexed with approach — by Aaron Magid: Even back in 2004, when Donald Trump was the host of the reality television show The Apprentice, the real estate developer expressed supreme confidence in his ability to solve the decades long Israeli-Arab conflict. Trump told former Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry that year: “It would take me two weeks to get an agreement.” Nonetheless, in the over 34 weeks since Trump has taken office and after his third round of meetings last week at the United Nations with Netanyahu and Abbas, the peace process remains stagnant. [JewishInsider]
HEARD YESTERDAY — In a phone call with American Jewish leaders yesterday, President Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin stressed the importance of the administration’s approach to the Middle East:“With the election of President Trump we have new hope for peace and reconciliation with our neighbors. Never before, has our cooperation with regional powers been so close and open. There is much to thank the American Administration for this positive development. We hope of course that this is just the beginning, of much warmer connections.”
Rivlin on Israel-Diaspora relationship following recent decisions by the Israeli government on the Kotel and conversion: “When expectations were not met, some people are quick to let go. They talk of separation, of a growing gap, of a crisis that cannot be stopped. That is not our way. We will never let go of you. We will never turn away from our family, outside of Israel. It is time we listen and learn. It is time we learn to really understand each other better. It is time to face, not only what ties us together, but also what makes us different.”
KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Six weeks have passed since the Prime Minister’s Office announced the appointment of former Justice Minister Moshe Nissim, to find a solution to the conversion crisis and lead the efforts to review the government’s conversion policy. But so far, Nissim has not approached any of the relevant actors. The spokespeople for the Israeli Reform and Conservative movements told Kafe Knesset that Nissim has not initiated any contact or dialogue with them. Sources in the Jewish Agency and the Jewish Federations confirmed that no progress has been made on the matter. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
IRAN DEAL: “Iran Says Tougher Inspections of Nuclear Program Come in 6 Years” by Kambiz Foroohar: “If Congress behaves, in 6 yearsfrom now, we will be ratifying the Additional Protocol, the most intrusive inspection regime that is available,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday in an interview with Charlie Rose at the Asia Society in New York. “We will become a party to the Additional Protocol, provided the U.S. takes care of its responsibilities… It took us two years of serious negotiations to reach this deal and 10 years of posturing on all sides… The nuclear deal is done… The U.S. has to make a strategic decision. We will make an appropriate decision based on the circumstances.” [Bloomberg]
“Trump keeps Europe guessing on Iran nuclear deal” by Katrina Manson: ““The [deal] has to fit into a broad strategy and that’s what we’re working on,” US national security adviser HR McMaster told the Financial Times this week. “We’re being very transparent in consulting with our allies and partners as we tee up options for the president.” … Mark Dubowitz said Mr Trump might also certify the deal this time, while threatening not to certify it next time, in January, if the Europeans do not rally the Iranians to “fix” it. “The beauty of that approach is it holds Europeans’ feet to the fire,” he said.” [FT]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — What Trump’s tough talk on Iran means for human rights: “Harsh rhetoric from D.C. only serves to embolden the hard-liners in Iran,” [actress and activist Nazanin] Boniadi told POLITICO’s Luiza Savage in the latest episode of the Women Rule podcast. “The consequence of that is greater oppression for the Iranian people… The hard-liners in Iran are fully aware that if they solve the nuclear issue and they get rid of the nuclear standoff with the U.S., the global attention will shift back onto human rights in Iran,” she said. “That’s the last thing they want.” [Politico]
ON THE HILL: “Bipartisan pair wants commission to oversee Iran deal” by Rebecca Kheel: “Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.)… who supported the Iran deal, and freshman Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) propose creating a 20-member commission in the style of the Helsinki Commission that oversees relations with Europe. Connolly introduced a similar bill in 2015 after the Iran deal was negotiated, but it went nowhere.” [TheHill]
“Sen. Chuck Schumer’s favorite things: See what’s behind his office door” by Mark Weiner: “A dove made out of shrapnel from a Palestinian rocket shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome system in July 2014 sits at the front of Schumer’s desk.” [NYUpstate]
“Bannon’s next move: ‘Repeat Alabama'” by Josh Dawsey: “Bannon says he remains on Trump’s team, but others in the White House have their doubts about the former chief strategist’s allegiance. He has told friends he is over the slights in the White House, but some close to him say he still seethes about a number of top officials, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and economic adviser Gary Cohn, whom Bannon routinely savaged as “Globalist Gary.”” [Politico]
“Bannon’s Back and Targeting China” by Joshua Green: “Bannon, who’s been consulting with Henry Kissinger and other foreign policy veterans, is preparing a project to sound an alarm about what he views as the primary economic threat to America: China.” [Bloomberg]
“Jewish aide who helped launch Trump’s campaign sees him dropping early positions” by Eric Cortellessa: “Nunberg sees the president increasingly moving away from some of the hard-right, anti-establishment inclinations that guided him during his bid for the presidency. “Look at who he hired to serve in the West Wing,” he said, referring to… his favorite target for derision, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, whom he describes as “vehemently anti-Israel and an Islamist sympathizer.” Israeli security officials who’ve worked with McMaster have vigorously rejected the allegations against him… Nunberg also had some choice words for Gary Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council: “Gary is more J Street than ZOA. Look, Gary’s a liberal. I don’t know why he was put in there over somebody like Stephen Moore or Larry Kudlow. I think Jared put him in.” [ToI]
TOP-OP: “I Believe Some of Your Best Friends Are Jewish” by Bret Stephens: “I believe Valerie Plame, the former C.I.A. operative and fading liberal celebrity, when she says she missed the anti-Semitic “undercurrents” in an article she called “provocative, but thoughtful.” I believe her when she says she “zeroed in on the neocon criticism” but missed the article’s more prejudicial elements. The article was titled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” It uses variants of the word “Jew” 22 times. The word “neocons” appears only twice. I believe Plame is telling the truth when she says the subtlety was lost on her.” [NYTimes]
“Bloomberg: I fired advisers who said a billionaire who’s changed parties couldn’t win” by Joe Concha: “The 2016 election, there was a lot of talk, a lot of rumors that you were thinking about running. Were you seriously considering?” asked [CBS “Late Show” host Stephen] Colbert. “Yeah, sure,” Bloomberg, who was rumored to run as an independent, responded. “Okay, you evidently did not see a path to victory,” remarked Colbert. “Well, my advisers told me that a New York billionaire who’s changed parties a number of times couldn’t be elected. So I fired them,” Bloomberg said without cracking a smile.” [TheHill]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Zuckerberg responds to Trump’s claim Facebook was out to get him [CNNMoney] • Gary Cohn: ‘The wealthy are not getting a tax cut’ [Politico] • MLB owners approve sale of Marlins to Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman [MiamiHerald] • The ethos of togetherness promoted by Adam Neumann’s WeWork is essentially a bet on explosive population growth in the world’s metropolises [TheAtlantic]
TOP TALKER: “Nevada Supreme Court sides with Jewish political group in Adelson defamation case” by Sean Whaley: “[Sheldon] Adelson sued the National Jewish Democratic Council over a 2012 online petition calling on former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to reject Adelson’s campaign contributions. The petition attempted to tie Adelson’s contributions to Las Vegas Sands revenues from China and linked to an Associated Press report on a civil case that claimed prostitution was tolerated at Sands’ Macau casinos… Wednesday’s unanimous answer from the five participating Nevada Supreme Court justices held that the online petition was protected speech because it linked to source material about a judicial proceeding.” [ReviewJournal] • Court documents [Scribd]
“Larry David Explains the Difference Between Him and “Larry David”” by Paul Chi: “I loved playing Bernie Sanders,” he said… So, can viewers expect the senator from Vermont to appear on Curb as one of the show’s many celebrity guests? David wouldn’t say, though he did point out that he doesn’t see his own physical resemblance to Sanders… “Come on, it’s impossible for people to really think I’m him. I don’t know if it’s flattering, but it’s fun to imitate him,” said David. “Nobody has ever said to me, ‘Hey Bernie.’ And nobody has ever called me: ‘It’s Senator Sanders. I voted for you.’ That’s never happened!” David would also like fans to know that there is at least one big difference between “real Larry” and “TV Larry.” … “They think that I’m going to be as brutally honest as the guy in the show, and that I’m not nice,” he said. “But I am nice, which makes me sick! I wish I wasn’t.” [VanityFair]
WINE OF THE WEEK — Tura Mountain Peak 2014 — by Yitz Applbaum: After spending decades traveling the world, it is with confidence that I assert that there are few places on this planet as historic and peaceful as the mountains of Samaria. Grapes have been harvested in the Samaria region for over 2,000 years. When visiting the modern wineries there, one can see the many dispersed remnants of what once were “personal wineries” that flourished in the days of old. Vered, the proprietor of the Tura Winery, is a great spokesperson for the region. I recommend a visit if only to hear her eloquently describe the heritage of the viticulture in the region.
The Tura Mountain Peak 2014 is a very bold wine. It is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and is balanced by a dose of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. This wine was aged in new French oak barrels for 22 months. It has cacao notes on the front of the palate which are robust enough to replace your first cup of morning coffee. The finish is also powerful and has a distinct cinnamon note which can lull you into a deep sleep in the evenings. Drink this wine with rib steak. This wine will hold for a long time. [TuraWinery]
BIRTHDAYS: Sociologist whose focus is on world affairs, who serves as a senior research scholar at Yale University, Immanuel Wallerstein turns 87… International Emmy award winning Scottish television producer and executive who also served as General Director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Sir Jeremy Isaacs turns 85… Swiss-born Governor of Vermont (1985-1991) (the first Jewish woman to govern any state), she was also the US Ambassador to Switzerland (1996-1999), Madeleine May Kuninturns 84… Physician and theoretical biologist, a former MacArthur Fellow, Stuart Kauffman turns 78… Former President of Warner Home Video, consultant on digital media technology, and trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, Warren Lieberfarb turns 74… Billionaire French businessman who, with his brother, own the controlling interest in the House of Chanel and a number of famous vineyards, Alain Wertheimer turns 69… Pediatrician and author of the book “Winning A Debate with An Israel Hater” about the fight against BDS, Dr. Michael Harris turns 59… New York Times-bestselling author Ben Greenman turns 48… Born in the Soviet Union, moved to Los Angeles at age 14, winner of four Olympic gold medals for the USA in swimming in 2000 and 2004, Leonid “Lenny” Krayzelburg turns 42…
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