Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Israel at 70 — Jeffrey Goldberg on the Jewish community’s dilemma | Women’s March Leader: Boycott Starbucks over ADL partnership

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HEARD LAST NIGHT — Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) moderated a discussion with Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic, and Bret Stephens, contributing columnist for The New York Times, about the lessons Israel has learned over the past 70 years. The event titled “Israel at 70: Beyond the Headlines” was held at Beth Tfiloh Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. [Pic]

Goldberg on the community’s dilemma: “If you are on the Right, you say it’s the Iranian axis that poses an existential threat to Israel. If you are on the Left, you say it’s not that; it’s Israel’s inability to come to an agreement with the Palestinians so that it remains a Jewish majority and democratic state… You know, it’s the difficulty of being Jewish. There are multiple demands on your attention and multiple demands on your morality. It’s not just about surviving, it’s not just about preventing a Holocaust. It’s also about behaving in way that also makes you proud to be Jewish. This is the dilemma in our community that people are going to the two extremes of saying the problems of Israel are solely external, this Iranian Hezbollah threat, or that the problems are solely internal, Israel’s unwillingness to grapple with the Palestinian issue. I think there are arguments to be made on both sides.”

–Side note: Goldberg tells us a lot of his thinking around the aforementioned dilemma has been influenced by conversations with Yossi Klein Halevi, author of the upcoming book: Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.

Sen. Cardin asked Goldberg if he agreed with the Washington Post Op-Ed from this week titled, “Partisanship is compromising our special relationship with Israel.” Goldberg: “It’s interesting. The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was just in America. I went to a couple of events with him, I met with him as did Bret I think. What was interesting about these events is that there were no Democrats at all at these dinners, it was all Republicans and I was thinking to myself, that if we’re not careful, I’m seeing the future of US-Israel relations in the current US-Saudi relationship. I’m afraid we’re moving in that direction. The key to Israel’s success in American politics has been that it’s not a partisan issue.”

Bret Stephens on new National Security Adviser John Bolton: “I’ve known John for many years, he’s whip-smart and nothing like the caricature of being out of control. I’m happy with the Pompeo-Bolton combination because one of my fears is that Trump’s fundamental instincts are isolationist and they can temper that.”

To conclude the conversation, Beth Tfiloh’s Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg asked the panelists: “Come January 2020, will Donald Trump be the President of the United States and why do you feel that way?”

Stephens: “Donald Trump will be the impeached and soon to be re-elected President of the United States.”

Goldberg: “I thought Hillary Clinton was going to be President until about 11:10PM on election night so you don’t want to get predictions from me.”

Cardin: “I have confidence in the American people. I really do. I don’t think Donald Trump represents the Republican Party. I believe the Republican Party will nominate a different person for president in 2020.”

ISRAEL AT 70 — Israel will kick off its 70th-anniversary celebrations today, beginning at sundown with the annual torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl (1:00PM ET). Israel’s Prime Minister will attend the ceremony for the first time since 1998 and light a torch on behalf of all the Israeli governments since its founding, and then deliver remarks. [Livestream]

“Israel Celebrates Its 70th Israeli Style: With Rancor and Bickering” by Isabel Kershner: “Israel’s landmark 70th anniversary celebration… was meant to be a stunning display of unity that transcends the usual divisions and cacophony of life here. But the ceremony… has already been marred by weeks of unseemly politicking and almost farcical twists and turns… Much of the rancor has been over Mr. Netanyahu’s role in what is traditionally a nongovernmental ceremony run by the speaker of Parliament… Just one day before the event, the fight was still on over how many words Mr. Netanyahu would get to speak as opposed to the Knesset speaker, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein. As of Tuesday evening, Mr. Edelstein was to be allowed 700 words, and Mr. Netanyahu 500.” [NYTimes]

“Intel CEO, and 300 of his drones, to attend Israel’s independence celebrations” by Shoshanna Solomon: “The chief executive officer of Intel Corp., Brian Krzanich, will join Israel for Wednesday night’s celebrations… As part of the show on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, Intel’s Shooting Star drones… will light up the Jerusalem skies with star-like images of the Star of David, the peace dove, the walls of Jerusalem and Theodor Herzl, along with music. The drones… are equipped with LED bulbs and are able create more than four billion color combinations.” [ToI] • Israel at 70: Satisfaction and grim disquiet share the stage [ABCNews]

SCENE ON THE HILL — The Israeli-American Council hosted around 60 Republican and Democratic members of Congress during a luncheon yesterday at the Library of Congress to mark the 70th birthday of the state of Israel. Featured guests included House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL). [Pic]

SPOTTED: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN); IAC’s Director of Policy and Gov’t Affairs Abigail Cable, IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet, Alex Shively, AIPAC’s Marvin Feuer, Adam and Gila Milstein, Sara Aronson, Sarah Stern, Shawn Evenhaim, Jake Kastan, Jonathan Day, Israeli Embassy’s Reuven Azar, White House’s Paul Teller, Nick Muzin, Yossie Hollander, David Milstein, Naty Saidoff, Gilly Arie.

According to a tipster, prior to the lunch Congressman Joe Wilson hosted a small private reception featuring NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers, Lee Zeldin, Mike Gallagher, Adam Milstein, along with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. The discussion centered around Republican efforts to keep the House in 2018.

Israeli writer Amos Oz: Trump did one thing that every other country should also do: “I don’t know what will happen in Jerusalem but I know what should happen. Every country in the world should follow the example of president Trump and move the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But simultaneously there should be an embassy of all countries in the world in East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine.” [DW]

Shmuel Rosner writes… “The Luckiest Jews in History: Being the luckiest Jew ever is a blessing and a burden. The more we have, the more obligated we are to guard it and the more afraid we are to lose it… Not even the lucky Jew can ignore [the] challenges that hover like clouds over the future of Jewish sovereignty and success.” [NYTimes

REPORT — “Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump mull attending Jerusalem embassy opening” by Raphael Ahren: “Kushner, one of Trump’s top aides, and his wife… have been asked to represented the US administration at the celebrations surrounding the embassy inauguration, according to officials in Jerusalem and Washington. However, the Jewish power couple has not finalized travel plans, the officials added.” [ToI]

PROFILE — “The PR Guru Behind Trump’s Mouthpieces Speaks” by Lacey Rose: “Tucked away on the 12th floor of a Flatiron-area office building lies the publicity firm founded by former Democratic operative Matthew Hiltzik. Until November 2016, the 22-person Hiltzik Strategies was best known for having represented such news-magnet stars as Katie Couric, Justin Bieber and Glenn Beck. Then Trump happened, and suddenly two of Hiltzik’s PR proteges, Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel, became key White House confidants of the president and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, respectively… “They have different strengths,” says Hiltzik… “But they both go about their business with humility and keep the focus on their clients, colleagues and principals instead of making it about themselves.” … Asked whether either might return to Hiltzik Strategies, he laughs. “I probably can’t afford them.”” [HollywoodReporter]

DRIVING THE DAY — “White House makes first legislative move on prison reform” by Stef W. Kight and Jonathan Swan: “The Trump administration will get behind a criminal justice proposal for the first time when Jared Kushner meets with lawmakers to push for a bill to rehabilitate prisoners through educational programs, vocational training and therapy to reduce recidivism rates… The bill, Collins-Jeffries, is expected to get a vote in the House Judiciary Committee next week.” [Axios]

TOP TALKER — “Sanctions Flap Erupts Into Open Conflict Between Haley and White House” by Peter Baker, Julie Hirschfeld Davis andMaggie Haberman: “It was not the first time Mr. Trump has yelled at the television over something he saw Ms. Haley saying. This time, however, the divergence has spilled into public in a remarkable display of discord that stems not just from competing views of Russia but from larger questions of political ambition, jealousy, resentment and loyalty. The rift erupted into open conflict on Tuesday when a White House official blamed Ms. Haley’s statement about sanctions on “momentary confusion.” That prompted her to fire back, saying that she did not “get confused.” According to several officials, the White House did not inform Ms. Haley that it had changed course on sanctions, leaving her to hang out alone.”

“Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Ms. Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020. Aides to both scoff at such suggestions, but the slightest hint of such a pairing would be likely to enrage Mr. Trump… The talk was exacerbated in recent days when Mr. Pence named Jon Lerner, Ms. Haley’s deputy, as his new national security adviser, while allowing him to keep his job at the United Nations. That plan collapsed within 48 hours.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Israel Conferred With U.S. on Strike in Syria to Target Iranian War Gear” by Dion Nissenbaum and Rory Jones: “Israeli officials told the Trump administration about the planned strike in advance so that the U.S. was aware of their plans to directly target an Iranian base, according to two people briefed on the plans… Since taking office last year, Mr. Trump has allied himself with Mr. Netanyahu, giving Israel strategic backing for its efforts to target Iran’s expeditionary military operations in Syria… Mr. Netanyahu called Mr. Trump two weeks ago to talk about Iran and Syria… Mr. Netanyahu also told Mr. Trump about the planned strike on the Iranian base, said one person briefed on the call… The Israeli strike came five days later, on April 9.” [WSJ]

“Israel hints it could hit Iran’s ‘air force’ in Syria” by Dan Williams: “Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian “air force” deployed in neighboring Syria… Roni Daniel, military editor for Israeli TV station Mako, said the disclosure was a signal to Iran that its deployments in Syria “are totally exposed to us, and if you take action against us to avenge (the T-4 strike) these targets will be very severely harmed.” [Reuters]

“Saudis Weigh Offering Troops for Syria Force” by Margherita Stancati: “Saudi Arabia is considering contributing troops as part of a broader international coalition to help stabilize Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, the kingdom’s foreign minister said on Tuesday. “We are in discussions with the U.S. and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis about sending forces into Syria,” the minister, Adel al-Jubeir, said…” [WSJ]

“Iran’s Real Enemy in Syria” by Karim Sadjadpour: “At a time of economic hardship, Tehran has provided billions of dollars to help Assad crush Islamist rebels. The question is why… Distilled to its essence, Tehran’s steadfast support for Assad is not driven by the geopolitical or financial interests of the Iranian nation, nor the religious convictions of the Islamic Republic, but by a visceral and seemingly inextinguishable hatred for the state of Israel.”

“Today the Tehran-Damascus axis has come to resemble a mutually exploitative love affair: Iran likes Syria for its body (which borders Israel and serves as Tehran’s waystation to Hezbollah), and Syria likes Iran for its money. In exchange for Iranian largesse, Assad has forsaken his sovereignty… After seven years, and with billions of dollars of sunk costs, an assertive Russian partner, and a U.S. president that aspires to withdraw from the region, Tehran feels vindicated in Syria.” [TheAtlantic]

INTERVIEW — “Emmanuel Macron Opens Up About Iran and His New Pal in the West Wing” by Tom Sanction: “I appreciate the forthright conversations I have with President Trump as they help us understand each other,” [Macron says]. “Whether it be on the Iran deal or on trade, I believe we can actually reach a common ground. Both France and the United States want to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb and wish to put an end to distorting trade practices…” [VanityFair]

VIEW FROM DC — “Lindsey Graham “unnerved” after Syria briefing” by Alan He: “Everything in that briefing made me more worried, not less,” the South Carolina Republican said after a briefing lawmakers had with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford on Tuesday. “This makes no sense to me.” … Graham feared that if the U.S. stays on its current course, Syria will fall into the hands of the Russians and Iranians, which would be a nightmare scenario for Israel. Graham said there is no military strategy currently on the table to deal with the influence of Iran and Russia. “It seems to me the president is going to pull out of Syria as soon as he can.” [CBSNews]

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice writes… “Trump’s Problem in Syria? It Was Obama’s Too: Despite their evident differences, the Obama and Trump administrations have proven more alike than not… The United States should keep avoiding direct conflict with Russia; limit the risk of Israel coming to blows with Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah; and defuse the conflict between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, whose help America still needs against Islamic State. This does not mean allowing Russia and Iran free rein. Rather, the United States must push back firmly and smartly, preferably with allies, whether with respect to chemical weapons or other outrages.”[NYTimes]

STATE OF THE PARTY: “The GOP ‘Has Become the Caricature the Left Always Said It Was’” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “For all the trouble and turmoil Jennifer Rubin has faced from finding herself out of place in domestic politics, her heart is in foreign policy. She was one of the most reliable critics of Obama’s presidency, attacking him for what she saw as a lack of commitment to the value of American leadership, blundering into the nuclear negotiations with Iran and pursuing a foreign policy “disastrous for America and disastrous or freedom around the world.” “Many of the criticisms that I had about Obama’s foreign policy are now being replayed within the prism of Donald Trump,” Rubin said… Rubin stands by that critique of the Trump administration… “I have often observed that if you had the Trump administration without Trump, they would be doing a lot of sane things.”” [PoliticoMag]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Sean Hannity’s Ties to Two More Trump-Connected Lawyers” by Rosie Gray: “On May 25, 2017, KFAQ, a radio station based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, received a cease-and-desist letter signed by two lawyers for Hannity: Victoria Toensing and Jay Alan Sekulow…. Sekulow is also identified in the letter page as a “Counsel for Sean Hannity.”[TheAtlantic

TRUMP WHISPERER — “Hannity’s rising role in Trump’s world: ‘He basically has a desk in the place’” by Robert Costa, Sarah Ellison andJosh Dawsey: “There is a small group of people who Trump speaks with who truly don’t have to be obsequious,” a veteran Trump ally said. “Sean [Hannity] is one of them,” the ally added, and said that Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman, veteran investor Carl Icahn and first lady Melania Trump “may be the only others on that list.” [WashPost]  

** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kushners and Vornado Have Worst Year at Manhattan Office Tower [Bloomberg] • Shari Redstone’s effort to reunite her family-controlled media groups CBS and Viacom is being complicated by concerns that independent shareholders in CBS could drag any deal into lengthy and expensive legal action [FinancialTimes] • Judge splits NY hedge fund trial as one defendant turns on others [Reuters] • Israeli AI company Cortica denies rumors it is being bought by Tesla to work on its Autopilot driver-assistance feature [BusinessInsider] • Spotify in Israel: Streaming Giant Finds Its Footing a Month After Launch [Variety

SPOTLIGHT — “Steven Cohen Targets High-Frequency Trading With ‘Dark Pool’ Venture” by Alexander Osipovich: “Billionaire Steven A. Cohen is backing a startup that aims to prevent high-frequency traders from eating away at the profits of stock-pickers like himself. The venture-capital arm of Mr. Cohen’s firm, Point72 Asset Management LP, was the first investor in Imperative Execution Inc… The launch comes as Mr. Cohen has been working to clean up his image… Imperative is entering a crowded market with about a dozen exchanges and more than 30 other dark pools. To win business, it must convince brokers to route their customers’ orders to IntelligentCross.” [WSJ]

“Your favorite podcasts are being adapted for TV” by Jill Disis: “Gimlet’s first project is the ABC sitcom “Alex, Inc,” an adaptation of “StartUp,” a podcast about Gimlet founder Alex Blumberg’s experience creating his company. The show, which was produced by Sony Pictures and stars Zach Braff of “Scrubs,” debuted last month to mixed reviews… Another series of specials based on the political podcast “Pod Save America” is coming to HBO this fall.” [CNNMoney] • Jeffrey Katzenberg-Led WndrCo Invests $11.5 Million in U.K. Audio Streamer Mixcloud [Variety

Documentary explores Israel’s discriminatory ‘ancestral sin’: “An electrifying new documentary series on the problematic integration of Middle Eastern Jews by Israel’s European founders in the 1950s has reopened old wounds of an ethnic divide within Judaism ahead of the country’s 70th anniversary festivities… “The Ancestral Sin” has ignited outrage and disbelief by arguing that the immigrants were systematically marginalized by seemingly bigoted bureaucrats. The controversy has exposed just how raw sentiments are about the history of relations between Mizrahi Jews, from the Middle East and North Africa, and those from Europe, known as Ashkenazim… The series leans on transcripts from meetings of the Jewish Agency… as well as officials’ correspondence and personal diaries. It includes interviews with academics, North African immigrants and a bureaucrat from the time.” [APNews]

“Israel at 70: the drummer, the baker, the rescuer” by Amir Cohen: “Dressed in a traditional Bukharan floral gown and embroidered cap, 85-year-old Allo Alaev plays the doyra – a central-Asian frame drum. The Alaevs came to Israel from Tajikistan in 1991… The master percussionist is accompanied by two sons and five of his grandchildren playing rhythmic, fast-tempo folk music on an accordion, violins and a darbuka drum.” [Reuters]

TOP TALKER — Starbucks’ Howard Schultz vows bias training day is just the beginning: “CBS This Morning’s Gayle King sat down with Starbucks’ executive chairman Howard Schultz. “I’m embarrassed, ashamed. I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level. I think I take it very personally as everyone in our company does and we’re committed to making it right. The announcement we made yesterday about closing our stores, 8,000 stores closed, to do significant training with our people is just the beginning of what we will do to transform the way we do business and educate our people on unconscious bias,” Schultz said.” [CBSNews]

“Women’s March Leader: Boycott Starbucks Over Partnership With Jewish Group” by Peter Hasson: “Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory on Tuesday called for a boycott of Starbucks over the coffee company’s partnership with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)… The ADL previously criticized Mallory’s support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a notorious racist and anti-Semite… ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt… is one of several civil rights leaders working with Starbucks for the coffee company’s “racial bias training” on May 29.” [DailyCaller]

TALK OF THE TOWN — City panel OKs policy banning exchanges with Israeli police: “A North Carolina city council voted Monday to prohibit its police department from engaging in international exchanges with agencies whose officers receive military-style training… Some opponents viewed the petition as a display of anti-Semitism… A police spokesman said the department hasn’t engaged in any exchanges with Israel and doesn’t plan to. WRAL-TV reports former Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez spent a week in Israel undergoing training.” [AP]

“Brooklyn synagogue pulls its money out of Chase bank to promote climate change. Will others follow suit?” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “Congregation Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood is removing its savings from JPMorgan Chase, making it the first U.S. synagogue to publicly divest from a bank or other corporation “to explicitly oppose the funding of fossil fuel and other related projects dangerous to the world in which we live,” according to a statement.” [JTA

SPORTS BLINK — “Triumphant Blatt sets sights on return to basketball’s biggest stage” by Allon Sinai: “The New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets fired their head coaches last week… [David] Blatt has already been linked with the two recent openings in New York and Orlando, with the Israeli considered to be among the top candidates for the Knicks job. The Turkish league is still ongoing, but Blatt will travel to the United States next week for an interview with Knicks executives, hoping to beat out competition from David Fizdale, Mark Jackson and Jerry Stackhouse.” [JPost]

DESSERT — “Vegetarian Mainstay Govinda’s Finally Opens Its Pizza Shop” by Rachel Vigoda: “About four years ago, owner Haryasva Dasa, a Hare Krishna monk who goes by Hari, got the vegan community [in Philadelphia] buzzing with news of an upcoming Govinda’s pizza shop… It took a bit longer than expected, but that pizza shop is now open. It’s perfect timing, since much-loved vegan pizzeria Blackbird just had to temporarily close its Queen Village location. The original Govinda’s (1408 South Street) is a certified-kosher fast food joint known for its (meat and dairy-free) cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteaks, and sandwiches. The new pizzeria, also kosher, sells slices, and a wide range of hot dishes… The shop is almost entirely vegan, but there is an option for a pie made with real mozzarella, which Hari says was a request from the kosher Jewish community.” [EaterPhilly]

BIRTHDAYS: Biochemist, geneticist and winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1985, Joseph L. Goldstein turns 78… Managing director of fundraising consultants Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, formerly CEO of Ampal-American Israel Corporation and the Jerusalem Foundation, Michael Jaffeturns 78… Saul Bernstein turns 73… President of DeForest Concepts, a consulting firm in Burlington, Vermont, previously a member of the Vermont State Senate (2002-2013) and co-founder in 1984 of Jogbra, Hinda Miller turns 68… Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona (2004-2012) after two terms on the Phoenix City Council, Phil Gordon turns 67… Composer, pianist and musicologist, Robert M. Greenberg turns 64… College basketball coach for 34 years, including 22 years as head coach at Long Beach State, the University of South Florida and Virginia Tech, now an ESPN analyst, Seth Greenbergturns 62… Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of four acclaimed books, Susan Faludi turns 59…

Editor of Commentary magazine, columnist for the New York Post, former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, John Mordecai Podhoretz turns 57… VP of University and Community Life at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, rabbi emeritus of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth R. Brander turns 56… VP and Deputy General Counsel at Scholastic Inc, Mark Seidenfeld turns 55… Executive Director of the American Zionist Movement since March 2017, he was previously Assistant EVP of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Herbert Block turns 53… Emmy Award-winning actress known for her work on daytime television, Tamara Braun turns 47… Film director, producer, writer and actor, who as a director and producer is most closely associated with the horror genre, Eli Roth turns 46… Chabad Rabbi, founder and executive director of the Aspen Chabad Jewish Community Center, Mendel Mintz turns 43… Partner in the white collar and cybersecurity practices of Paul Hastings, he was previously an assistant secretary for cyber policy at the Department of Homeland Security, Robert P. Silvers turns 38 (h/t Playbook)… Political director for AIPAC’s Florida region, Evan Philipson turns 29… Dov Maimon