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$53.8 MILLION — the amount raised last night at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Gala last night in Los Angeles: For the 11th year, FIDF National Board Member Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, chaired the star-studded gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Guests included prominent business, philanthropic, and political leaders and celebrated names in entertainment, fashion, sports, and technology, including Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg; Dutch LLC CEO Serge Azria and his wife, Florence; Managing Member of R.H. Book LLC and Chairman of Jet Support Services Inc. Robert Book and his wife, Amy; Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz; GUESS Founders Maurice and Paul Marciano; and Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his wife, Joelle. Celebrity guests included Miss Israel 2013 Yityish Titi Aynaw, Gerard Butler, David Foster, Joanna Krupa, Katharine McPhee, Paul Reubens, Melissa Rivers, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. [Pic]
The top donation announced at the event – and the largest single gift in FIDF’s history – was $16.6 million from Oracle Co-Founder, Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison.
SCENE LAST NIGHT — DC EDITION: Approximately 100 guests attended a reception hosted by UK Ambassador Kim Darroch to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration at the British Embassy.
SPOTTED: Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda, Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer (pic) and Joanna Breyer, Tom Rose, Victoria Coates, Reuven Azar, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Mandy Grunwald, Rep. Eliot Engel, Norm Ornstein, Judy Harris, Norman and Laurie Coleman, Louis and Manette Mayberg, Cliff May, Ken Weinstein and Amy Kauffman, Michael Siegel, Shmuley Boteach, Michael Froman, William Daroff, Jeffrey Goldberg and Pamela Reeves, Ann Lewis and Myron Sponder, Ruth Marcus, Bill Knapp and Jeanie Milbauer, David Weinberg, Rob Satloff and Jennie Litvack, Stuart Bernstein, Stuart Rothenberg, Alan Ronkin, Ghaith al-Omari, Harold Rhode, Ruth Marcus, Jennifer Rubin, Shira Ruderman, Lewis and Manette Mayberg, and Michael Makovsky.
BIBI IN THE UK: “Asked if he felt now was the moment for peace in the region, noting Trump’s involvement in peace efforts, he said: “Hope so.” “What’s being discussed now is an American initiative. Obviously we make our interests and our concerns known to Mr Trump. He’s coming with a sort of refreshing ‘can-do’ … they’re trying to think out of the box,” Netanyahu said at London’s Chatham House during a visit to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.” [Reuters]
HOW IT PLAYED: “Balfour Declaration of Support for Jewish Homeland Still Divisive at 100” by David Halbfinger: “It was the moment of conception of what would become the State of Israel — or it was the original sin in which Israel was conceived. The Balfour Declaration, the pivotal, 67-word assurance by the British foreign secretary that promised support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” turned 100 on Thursday, meeting with tributes in Jerusalem and London, and tear gas in Bethlehem.” [NYTimes; WashPost]
DRIVING THE CONVO: Netanyahu softens stance on Iran deal after meeting with British PM Theresa May — by Anshel Pfeffer: “Netanyahu… said that after a diplomatic meeting in London with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the sides were “moving closer in the attempt to find ways to change the nuclear deal (with Iran).” Briefing Israeli journalists… Netanyahu noted that Israel is looking… to reach understandings on increasing oversight on Iran’s nuclear sites as well as imposing new sanctions on Iran for continuing its ballistic missile program… According to Netanyahu, Israel is now focusing its efforts to improve the deal and not see it canceled.” [Haaretz]
ON THE HILL — Congress skeptical about Britain’s upcoming lobbying efforts on Iran deal — by JI’s Aaron Magid: With British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson coming to town next week to lobby Congress to save the Iran Deal, lawmakers expressed skepticism regarding the efforts. “I don’t think it will play any part at all. We are not part of the European Union,” Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) said in reaction to Boris Johnson’s upcoming visit to lobby members of Congress to save the nuclear deal. “A politician from another country coming here to lobby us, he might as well save his airfare and stay home.”
“I respect the transatlantic partnership we have with Great Britain,” noted Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). “We will listen thoughtfully and respectfully to what he (Johnson) has to say, but at least in my case, he’s not going to change my mind.” Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) added, “I don’t know if it will influence any particular members, certainly not myself… First we have to look at American interests.”
Even Democrats appeared to throw cold water on Johnson’s lobbying efforts. “I don’t think it will be very effective at all. What standing does he have? I don’t think we need him to help us understand that issue.” Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) said. “He is certainly more than welcome to be here, but I don’t know that he will sway American lawmakers one way or the other.” An opponent of additional nuclear sanctions, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) argued that foreign diplomats might not be the ideal messenger to persuade U.S. lawmakers. “The best vehicle would be the members here who oppose putting sanctions, talking to other members,” he explained. [JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER: “Inside Trump’s Search for a Fed Leader” by Peter Nicholas, Kate Davidson and Michael Bender: “Weeks after his inauguration, [Trump] told Ms. Yellen during an Oval Office meeting that she was doing a good job and said he considered her, like himself, a “low-interest-rate” person… Ms. Yellen also appeared to have a fan in Ivanka Trump… As recently as mid-October, the president was still privately raising concerns about [Gary] Cohn’s Charlottesville comments… In a private meeting at the White House, the president questioned whether Mr. Cohn was “up to the job” of Fed chairman… As Mr. Cohn’s prospects fell, Ms. Yellen’s appeared to rise. But by September, White House aides had presented the president with three other possible options: Mr. Powell, Mr. Taylor and former Fed governor Kevin Warsh… Mr. Trump sought advice from unexpected places, even talking with casino mogul Steve Wynn, one administration official said…”
“The interview with Mr. Warsh didn’t go as well. Mr. Trump came away underwhelmed. One person briefed on the Warsh interview said Mr. Trump remarked during the meeting about Mr. Warsh’s youth — he is 47 years old — and good looks, leaving the impression that the president believed him too young to be viewed credibly by the markets in the event of a financial crisis. After the interview the president would stumble over Mr. Warsh’s name, referring to him as “Walsh” before correcting himself. “It’s with an R?” he asked his team.” [WSJ]
“Gary Cohn Says He’s Still a Democrat” by Margaret Talev: “Cohn… confirmed he’s still a Democrat in remarks to the Economic Club of Washington… Cohn called Trump’s Fed decision a “spectacular choice” and said “I’m really supportive.” … Cohn said his relationship with Trump is as strong as it’s ever been and that he’ll remain in his job “as long as I possibly can.””[Bloomberg]
THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Jared Kushner’s team turned over documents to special counsel in Russia investigation” by Evan Perez, Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz: “Mueller’s investigators have expressed interest in Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, as part of its probe into Russian meddling, including potential obstruction of justice in Comey’s firing… Kushner voluntarily turned over documents he had from the campaign and the transition, and these related to any contacts with Russia… Two separate sources told CNN that investigators have asked other witnesses about Kushner’s role in firing Comey…White House sources say it was the President alone who made that decision after watching Comey’s congressional testimony May 3. While Kushner and those close to the White House will only say he was in favor of the decision.” [CNN]
“Ivanka Trump Used Private Emails With Treasury Officials” by Nina Burleigh: “Months after Ivanka Trump took an official White House position, she was still using a private email account to communicate with the U.S. Treasury Department… The correspondence also indicates that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were among a select group of regulars, including Cabinet secretaries and actual budget experts and economists, to attend a weekly “Economic Principals Lunch” hosted by National Economic Council (NEC) head Gary Cohn in his office… Ivanka Trump and Kushner were also included in a larger meeting of “NEC Principals” that was to be held on May 9… That meeting, in the White House Situation Room, was canceled. On the invitee list, “Ivanka Kushner” again appears to not have a White House email address, while others do.” [Newsweek]
KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Just as PM Netanyahu took off to London, two new television-sponsored polls were published, giving him some troubling news for the weekend. If elections were held today, both polls showed, Likud would remain the largest party, but Netanyahu would be losing power. A Channel 2 poll gave the Likud 24 seats – six less than in the current Knesset, followed by the Zionist Union and Avi Gabai with 21 seats and Yesh Atid with 20 seats, Jewish Home and the Joint Arab list with 12 mandates each, Kulanu with 8, UTJ with 7, Israel Beitenu and Meretz with 6, and Shas with only 4. A Channel 10 poll gave the Likud 26 seats, Yesh Atid – 22, Zionist Union 19, Joint List 12, Jewish Home 11, Kulanu 7, UTJ 6, Israel Beietenu 5 and Shas 4. The most interesting figure of this poll goes to Left wing Meretz, whose popularity spiked up to give them 9 seats, compared to the 5 they have today, and overall – with Gabai and Lapid – bringing the Jewish center-left anti-Bibi bloc to start at 49.
The rise in Meretz’s popularity is attributed to Left wing peaceniks who are abandoning the Zionist Union in the wake of Avi Gabai’s attempts to expand the party’s electorate, which appears to be succeeding. While polls are taken here with a big grain of salt, a common observation about the latest numbers was that they brush off any speculation that Netanyahu might be inclined to take the country to early elections in order to avoid or stall criminal procedures. Moreover, pundits and analysts have identified a trend: a steady decline in the Likud’s standing. The crazy campaign Netanyahu and his loyalists have been waging against the media and law enforcement authorities, might consolidate the Likud base, but apparently it is driving other voters away. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Leon Black’s Apollo Global eyeing Qdoba [NYPost] • Les Wexner’s L Brands Sales Show Signs of Life [WWD] • WeWork is opening a second headquarters — in San Francisco [Recode] • Jared Kushner’s family company faces more than 170 Baltimore violations [Newsweek]
SPOTLIGHT: “Does Ashkenazy have an inside track at the Plaza?” by Mark Maurer: “After decades of buying and holding real estate in the five boroughs, Ben Ashkenazy scored an industry coup a few months ago when he bought a minority stake in the Plaza Hotel — in what was by far his splashiest New York purchase ever. Sources say that if Ashkenazy — which has $12 billion worth of assets in North America and the United Kingdom — does take control of the hotel, it’s likely to pour cash into the property to overhaul the gold and marble lobby, along with the retail and the building’s historic façade.” [TheRealDeal]
WHAT DAVID MAGERMAN IS READING — “Hedge Fund Billionaire Robert Mercer Will Step Down As CEO Of His Company Following BuzzFeed News Exposé” by Joseph Bernstein: “Robert Mercer, the hedge fund billionaire who has come under media scrutiny for his role in helping elect Donald Trump, announced… he would step down from his role as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies. The decision… followed a BuzzFeed News exposé revealing the connections of Breitbart — partially owned by Mercer — to white nationalists and neo-Nazis.” [BuzzFeed; Bloomberg]
MEDIA WATCH: “DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shutting Down” by Andy Newman and John Leland: “A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union. On Thursday, they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down…The decision puts 115 journalists out of work… They are getting three months of paid “administrative leave” at their full salaries, plus four weeks of severance.” [NYTimes]
“Times of Israel, Asia Times websites hijacked and defaced by suspected pro-Palestine Turkish hackers” by Hyacinth Mascarenhas:“Hackers affiliated with the hacking group Akincila, which means “Raiders” in Turkish, claimed responsibility for the cyberattacks and briefly took over the news websites, replacing their main pages with images of children waving the Turkish flag.” [IBTimes]
TALK OF OUR NATION — Anti-Semitic incidents spike in 2017, especially after Charlottesville, ADL says: “The number of anti-Semitic incidents across the country increased by 67 percent in the first three quarters of 2017 compared to the same time period in 2016, a new report finds… The ADL documented 703 incidents of harassment in the first eight months of 2017, including 162 bomb threats against Jewish institutions… The report says that anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism in elementary and high schools and on college campuses has also been on the rise in 2017.” [CBSNews]
Holocaust survivor pulled from car stuck on train tracks before collision: “A Holocaust survivor and a South Florida woman are sharing their story after she captured the frightening moments when he was saved from an oncoming train, Tuesday night. Police said 93-year-old Henry Flescher was heading westbound on Ives Dairy Road in Aventura when he made a wrong turn onto the train tracks near West Dixie Highway, at around 7:20 p.m. She said other good Samaritans pulled Flescher out of the car in the nick of time. “Honestly, it was insane,” she said.” [WSVN; FoxNews]
SPORTS BLINK: “The most important voice for the Nationals is the one from whom we seldom hear” by Barry Svrluga: “When the Lerners bought the Nationals from Major League Baseball in the summer of 2006 and began this odyssey, Ted Lerner was 80 — with so much ahead of him… All this time later, there is a sense not of desperation but at least of mortality. Who knows how many Fall Classics any of us have left, even those on this side of 92? The dozen World Series since the Lerners bought the Nats have produced eight different champions, including the Cubs, who won for the first time in 108 years, and the Astros, who won for the first time in team history. What Lerner and his family have learned is that, even though someone has to win every year, that task can seem impossibly hard.” [WashPost]
HOLLYWOOD: “[Jerry] Seinfeld gets spectacularly real on the intimacy of performing stand-up for Jews” by Alex Suskind: “Nothing rattles me. But there is nothing like that particular gathering of Jewish people — when you get them in a group they are very different from most of the groups of people that I am in… Obviously I have a stronger connection to them. And I have this connection to Israel. So it’s just very intimate. It’s powerful. I love it. I love that they think I’m their son.” [ToI]
DESSERT: “Why 30,000 Orthodox women belong to this recipe-sharing Facebook group” by Yvette Alt Miller: “What if there was a way to trade time-and family-tested meals with a like-minded bunch of people? That’s where the Facebook page I Don’t Cook But I Give Out Recipes comes in. Born in 2007, it’s the brainchild of two Brooklyn sisters — Goldie Adler Nathan, 35, and Esty Adler Wolbe, 29 — who created a forum to allow kosher cooks from across the globe to trade recipes, swapping information about everything from chicken soup and cholent to Italian desserts and kung pao tofu.” [JTA]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Past chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, Ismar Schorsch, Ph.D. turns 82… Major League Baseball pitcher (1965-1979) with more career victories (174) than any other Jewish pitcher (Koufax included), Ken Holtzman turns 72… Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine, professor at Yale University, James Rothman turns 67… Rabbi at Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields, Illinois since 2000, Paul Caplan turns 65… Actress, comedian, writer, and television producer, best known for the long-running and award winning television sitcom Roseanne (1988-1997), Roseanne Barr turns 65… Comedian, talk show host, political commentator, sports commentator, actor and television and radio personality, Dennis Miller turns 64… Senior contributing editor at The Jerusalem Report, he is an author of books on the stigma of childlessness and on the Balfour Declaration, Elliot Jager, Ph.D. turns 63… Founder, owner and chairman of the NYC-based real estate investment advisory firm, the Carlton Group, Howard Michaels turns 62… Regional Director of Development in West Palm Beach for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Jeanne Epstein turns 53… SVP and counsel at Zurich Financial Services, he is co-chair of the board of the Yeshiva University Museum, Edward Stelzer turns 49… Founder of AKM Consulting, during the 2016 election cycle she served as Finance Director for Priorities USA Action, Amie Kershner turns 39… Amy Rosenbaum… Ben Kirshner… Stu Rosenberg (h/ts Playbook)…
SATURDAY: President and CEO of the Hudson Institute, Ken Weinsteinturns 56… Political scientist Edward Luttwak turns 75… U.S. Representative for Kentucky’s 3rd congressional district, John Yarmuth turns 70… Former IDF paratrooper, he served as the IDF’s Chief of the General Staff (1998-2002), Minister of Defense (2002-2006) and member of Knesset for Kadima (2006-2015), Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz turns 69… Professor of medicine at England’s University of Birmingham, James Max Neuberger turns 68… Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2013, Kenneth I. Gordon turns 58… Professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, Claire Elise Katz turns 53… BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith turns 41… Bob Rubin…
SUNDAY: Founder of F-Cancer, a health organization working for early detection and prevention of cancer, Yael Cohen Braun turns 31… French public intellectual, media personality and author, Bernard-Henri Lévy turns 69… American-born Rosh Yeshiva of the Kamenitz Yeshiva of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yitzchok Scheiner turns 95… Singer, poet and actor, best known as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, Art Garfunkel turns 76… Economist and director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs turns 63… Psychologist, and wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu turns 59… Chairman of Israel’s Yesh Atid Party with 11 seats in the Knesset, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid turns 54… Senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, he focuses on issues of national security and law, Benjamin Wittes turns 48… Business Insider’s Jacob Shamsian turns 24… Communications and Project Coordinator at Los Angeles based Creative Community for Peace, Tara Khoshbin…
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