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HEARD LAST NIGHT — Speaking at a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia last night, President Trump indicated that Israel will be asked to pay a higher price in a future peace deal with the Palestinians after he ‘took Jerusalem off the table’ with the embassy move last May.
“If there’s ever going to be peace — remember I said it — with the Palestinians, it was a good thing to have done,” Trump said about the Jerusalem move, “because we took it off the table. Because every time there were peace talks, they never got past the fact of Jerusalem becoming the capital, so I said let’s take it off the table.”
Trump added: “And you know what? In the negotiation, Israel will have to pay a higher price — because they won a very big thing. But I took it off the table… Now it’s off the table. There is nothing to negotiate about. But they will get something very good because it’s their turn next. Let’s see what happens. It’s very interesting. I’ve always heard that’s the toughest deal of all deals; that’s called peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” [Video]
Aaron David Miller tells us: “Trump hasn’t taken Jerusalem off the table. He’s made Jerusalem the table — the most important focal point of the negotiation. If by Israel paying a big price he means that the U.S. will accept a proposed Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem too, okay. If not, he’ll need to hang a ‘closed for season’ sign on the ultimate deal.”
National Security Advisor John Bolton sought to clarify Trump’s comments at a press conference in Jerusalem this morning: “It was not an issue of quid pro quo. He’s made the point, I think, several times that this issue has been a hang-up in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and as he said last night as well, he’s taken that issue off the table. As a dealmaker, as a bargainer, he would expect that the Palestinians would say, “Okay great, so we didn’t get that one, now we want something else.’ And we’ll see how it goes. But the fundamental point is that ultimately this is something that the parties are going to have to agree on… They will decide between themselves what if anything the price of that was.”
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “President Donald Trump will not “turn on Israel,” Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) said on Wednesday… Trump, according to Hanegbi, is trying to “find a way into” the hearts of the Palestinians to regain their confidence in the US as an “honest broker.” … Deputy Minister Michael Oren (Kulanu) said that Trump’s comments were “expected.” [JPost]
— Bolton says no timetable on peace plan: “John Bolton said a “lot of progress” has been made, but he refused to say what the plan entailed or when it may be publicized.” [AP]
— Jared Kushner and Trump’s Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt met yesterday with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani. “We discussed the situation in Gaza and the administration’s peace efforts,” Greenblatt tweeted.
— Tal Shalev reports: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met with Qatari Foreign Minister al-Thani while in Cyprus in June.
— Bolton on Iranian presence in Syria: “What [Russian President Vladimir Putin] was saying was that Iranian interests in Syria were not coterminous with Russian interests in Syria and that he would be content to see the Iranian forces all sent back to Iran. It wasn’t a question where they might be inside Syria. We were talking about the complete return of both regular and irregular Iranian forces. But he said, ‘I can’t do it myself.’ So the point was that perhaps joint US-Russian efforts might be sufficient. Now, I don’t know that that’s right either, but it’s certainly one of the subjects that I’ll be discussing with my Russian counterpart in Geneva tomorrow to try and follow up on the discussions on Syria that President Putin and President Trump had in Helsinki on that subject.” [Video]
Bolton: U.S. not discussing recognition of Israel’s Golan hold — by Dan Williams: “The Trump administration is not discussing possible U.S. recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the Golan Heights, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said… “I’ve heard the idea being suggested but there’s no discussion of it, no decision within the U.S. government,” Bolton told Reuters… “Obviously we understand the Israeli claim that it has annexed the Golan Heights — we understand their position — but there’s no change in the U.S. position for now.” [Reuters]
AMERICANS’ VIEW OF BIBI — 17% of Democrats, compared to 64% of Republicans, have a favorable view of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Americans’ views of several of the leaders measured are highly partisan. Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to feel positively about Netanyahu, reflecting their greater support for Israel and perhaps Trump’s own close relationship with the Israeli leader… Netanyahu’s current 37% favorable rating is similar to Gallup’s last several measurements, taken between 1999 and 2015.”
“Netanyahu was viewed more positively in December 1998 after signing a U.S.-brokered peace treaty with the Palestinians known as the Wye agreement.”[Gallup; Chart]
Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro emails us… “The approval ratings of foreign leaders by the American public may not be the most meaningful measure, and in any case, Netanyahu’s overall ratings have remained quite consistent through the years. But these results do underscore the importance of trying to maintain a bipartisan consensus around Israel, and not allowing it to become subject to the same partisan tensions that define almost everything else these days. Netanyahu has work to do in that regard, and so do Democrats and Republicans in the U.S.”
Former advisor to seven Israeli Prime Ministers, Shalom Lipner tells us… “The widening gap between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to support for Israel precedes the Trump era. What stands out strikingly in the Gallup numbers is the increasing politicization of America’s global relationships. When it comes to leaders with whom Trump gets along (or appears to) — e.g. Netanyahu, and even Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un — Republicans view them more favorably than Democrats. Obviously, there are real ideological underpinnings to this polemic, but tribalism is evidently a strong motivating factor in determining public attitudes toward Trump’s frenemies.”
DRIVING THE CONVO — Cohen pleads guilty, implicates Trump in payoff scheme — by Devlin Barrett, Carol Leonnig, Philip Bump and Renae Merle: “In a guilty plea entered in a Manhattan federal courthouse, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen implicated Trump directly in some of his acts, saying he arranged to pay off two women to keep their stories of alleged affairs with Trump from becoming public before Election Day — in coordination with the then-candidate… Cohen pleaded guilty after prosecutors warned that he risked more than a dozen years in prison.” [WashPost]
Michael Cohen Nails the Casket Shut on His Former Boss — by Emily Jane Fox: “Whether Cohen would be able to surrender voluntarily was a matter of concern for him… He had wanted avoid a perp walk, which his children, who are around college-age, would inevitably have had to witness. Last week, he made jokes about setting up a chair in front of the court house in the middle of the night so as to allow agents to take him in immediately.”[VanityFair]
Video by Matthew Chayes: “Lock him up!” hecklers jeer at Michael Cohen as he leaves court after pleading guilty. [Video]
HOW IT PLAYED — A One-Two Punch Puts Trump Back on His Heels — by Mark Landler, Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump’s advisers spent hours working on a statement that was attributed to his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, but privately several said they could not come up with something to explain away Mr. Cohen’s admissions beyond calling him a liar… People close to Mr. Trump privately acknowledged that the declarations from Mr. Cohen, made under oath in open court, could have significant political ramifications.” [NYTimes]
Alan Dershowitz — Michael Cohen’s guilty plea ‘not nearly as deadly lethal’ for Trump as many suspect: “This is the beginning of a story that will unravel over time, but it’s not nearly as deadly lethal as some have portrayed it as being,” Dershowitz… said during an interview on Fox News.” [WashExaminer; Mediaite]
Bret Stephens tweets: “I’ve been skeptical about the wisdom and merit of impeachment. Cohen’s guilty plea changes that. The president is clearly guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. He should resign his office or be impeached and removed from office.”
As Mueller’s Siege Tightens, Trump’s Twitter Rage Crests — by Gabriel Sherman: “Over the weekend, Jared Kushner described Trump’s mood as “rip-shit,” according to one of the advisers. “Total meltdown” was how another adviser put it. “He’s extremely frustrated,” a Republican close to the White House said.” [VanityFair]
TRANSITION — Ari Schaffer has left his job as Associate Director of Research at The White House to serve as a special advisor for communications at the Commerce Department, according to Politico Playbook. During the 2016 presidential election, Schaffer worked at the GOP opposition research firm America Rising PAC.
WHITE HOUSE NOMINATION — President Trump has nominatedJeffrey Ross Gunter, a dermatologist from California and a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s board of directors, to become the next U.S. Ambassador to Iceland. In 2016, Gunter served on the Trump transition finance committee.
Trump tweets this morning: “Thank you to Democrat Assemblyman Dov Hikind of New York for your very gracious remarks on Fox & Friends for our deporting a longtime resident Nazi back to Germany! Others worked on this for decades.”
IRAN DEAL — Top U.K. Envoy Breaks With Trump Administration Over Iran Policy — by Jessica Donati: “Jeremy Hunt, the U.K.’s new foreign secretary, signaled on Tuesday that his country’s view remains unchanged… “We do have a genuine difference of opinion because we think the best way to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to stick with the nuclear deal,” Mr. Hunt told an audience at the United States Institute of Peace.” [WSJ]
Germany urges EU payment system without U.S. to save Iran deal: “It is indispensable that we strengthen European autonomy by creating payment channels that are independent of the United States, a European Monetary Fund and an independent SWIFT system,” [German Foreign Minister Heiko] Maas wrote in the Handelsblatt business daily. “Every day the deal is alive is better than the highly explosive crisis that would otherwise threaten the Middle East.” [Reuters] • Israel employs Chinese companies operating in Iran[Globes]
Israel mocks Iran’s ‘indigenous’ fighter jet as copy of obsolete F-5: “The Iranian regime unveils the Kowsar plane and claims that it is ‘the first 100% locally-manufactured Iranian fighter jet,’” Ofir Gendelman, Netanyahu’s Arabic language spokesman, wrote on Twitter. “It boasts about its offensive capabilities. But I immediately noticed that this is a very old American war plane (it was manufactured in the ‘50s). It is from the F-5 class of jets which has not been in use for decades.” [ToI]
Sprawling Iranian influence operation globalizes tech’s war on disinformation — by Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Tony Romm and Ellen Nakashima: “Iran was behind a sprawling disinformation operation on Facebook that targeted hundreds of thousands of people around the world, the social media company said Tuesday night… The Iranian effort dated to 2011 and had ties to state media operations in that country, Facebook said, involving hundreds of accounts on both Facebook and its sister site, Instagram.”[WashPost]
Hudson Institute Ken Weinstein writes about being the targetof Fancy Bear, a Russian cyber-espionage group… “If Fancy Bear’s intention is to embarrass or intimidate us, it won’t work. Hudson fellows will continue to speak their minds on public-policy matters… At Hudson Institute we have proudly worked with our friends in the administration to promote American national security, and will continue to do so.” [WSJ]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Ken Weinstein on CNN with Wolf Blitzer — Blitzer: Are you surprised the President has not responded on Twitter or elsewhere to this Microsoft development? Weinstein: “I’m sure he will. I’m not surprised. There’s a lot going on today.” [Video]
MSNBC’s ‘Headliners’ is looking for dirt on Jared Kushner — by Sara Nathan: “Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will be the subject of a new episode of MSNBC’s “Headliners,” Page Six has learned. Network staff have already been calling Kushner’s colleagues and friends for dirt, we’re told… An MSNBC insider said the episode will air in the fall.”[PageSix]
MIDTERMS — Zuckerberg and his co-founder pour millions into midterm initiatives: “Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz are mounting campaigns to get voters to approve housing and criminal justice reforms at the ballot box in November.” [Axios]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle headlined a fundraiser in support of Rep. Lee Zeldin (D-NY) in Nissequogue, Long Island. The event was co-hosted by Ari Fleischer and Steve Louro, who quit his post as regional finance chairman for the New York Republican Party over objections to the new tax reform law last year.
Dem candidates bring diversity to Florida governor’s race — by Brendan Farrington: “In a state with a long-standing tradition of electing white, Christian men, Florida’s Democratic primary could produce the state’s first black or woman governor or the second Jewish governor in its history… Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine or billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene… could become the state’s only Jewish governor besides David Sholtz, who served from 1933 to 1937, but both said that’s not important to them.
“I don’t think it really matters to most Americans any more what your race is, or your religion or your nationality of your gender. I think people are looking for someone who they think can solve their problems, or make their lives better,” Greene said. “If the person you’re choosing happens to have something in common with you, that’s just a little bonus.” Levine had similar thoughts but did say the Democratic side of the ballot better represents the people of Florida.” [AP]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Disney Is Considering News Role for Ben Sherwood After Fox Deal [Bloomberg] • Stewart Butterfield’s Slack Raises $427 Million More, at $7.1 Billion Valuation [NYTimes] • Leslie Moonves Quoted ‘The Godfather’ to Prepare for Redstone Battle [Variety] • Liz Wessel: On my first day as a CEO of WayUp, half my face was swollen from getting my wisdom teeth out — but the 2 meetings I had with investors completely changed my life[BusinessInsider] • Fox 2000, Scooter Braun Partner for K-Pop Movie [HollywoodReporter]
Israel bans Juul e-cigarettes citing ‘grave’ public health risk: “Israel on Tuesday outlawed the import and sale of e-cigarettes made by Silicon Valley startup Juul Labs, citing public health concerns given their nicotine content… In a statement Tuesday, Juul Labs said it was “incredibly disappointed” with what it called a “misguided” decision by the government in Israel… The ban, which goes into effect in 15 days, was signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the health portfolio.” [Reuters]
Israel eases gun controls following lone-wolf attacks: “Israel has changed its gun regulations to enable hundreds of thousands more civilians to apply for licences, a move authorities say will increase security but others argue will stoke violence… A source in the public security ministry, however, estimated that only 35,000 people will be interested in applying for gun licences under the new regulations.” [YahooNews]
Lana Del Rey Will Now Visit Palestinian Territories After Israel Concert — by Halle Kiefer: “Lana Del Rey has written yet another note doubling down on her decision to perform in Israel, saying it does not preclude the fact that her “views on democracy and oppression are aligned with mostly liberal views.” She does say, however, that in addition to Israel, she will also now be extending her trip to Palestine to visit and perform for children in both regions. That visit, she says, is in response to Roger Waters’s call for action. “I want peace for both Israel and Palestine,” she writes.” [Vulture; Instagram]
HOLLYWOOD — Natalie Portman to direct, star in Dear Abby-Ann Landers biopic: “Natalie Portman has closed a deal to direct and star in an untitled biopic about the identical twin sisters who wrote advice columns as Abigail Van Buren and Ann Landers. The sisters were born in 1918. Dear Abby was launched in 1956 by Pauline Esther Friedman in the San Francisco Chronicle. Her twin sister was born Esther Pauline Friedman and won a contest in 1955 to take over the “Ask Ann Landers” advice column in the Chicago Sun-Times. The competing columns led to the sisters having a bitter professional rivalry that lasted the rest of their lives. Portman will play both sisters for the project.” [Variety; HollywoodReporter]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Trump adviser Larry Kudlow hosted publisher of white nationalists at his home — by Robert Costa: “The publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism was a guest last weekend at the home of President Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow… Kudlow said Tuesday that [Peter] Brimelow was a guest at his birthday party at his Connecticut home and has been someone he has known “forever,” going back to their work in financial journalism. Kudlow expressed regret when he was described details of Brimelow’s promotion of white nationalists on Vdare.com. “If I had known this, we would never have invited him,” Kudlow said.” [WashPost]
Trayon White paid back constituent fund for ‘inappropriate’ Nation of Islam donation — by Fenit Nirappil: “The D.C. lawmaker at the center of an anti-Semitism controversy earlier this year paid back his constituent services fund for a $500 donation he made to an out-of-town event where Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan derided Jews… Campaign finance officials closed their investigation on July 25 without additional penalty after [D.C. Council member Trayon] White (D-Ward 8) showed he personally reimbursed the constituent services fund.” [WashPost]
Why the “wrong side of the tracks” is usually the east side of cities:“In this short talk about a surprising insight, anthropologist and venture capitalist Stephen DeBerry explains how both environmental and man-made factors have led to disparity by design in cities from East Palo Alto, California to East Jerusalem and beyond — and suggests some elegant solutions to fix it.” [Ted2018]
DESSERT — Kosher caterer shortlisted for ‘Oscars’ of the food world: “A kosher caterer from London was left open-mouthed this week after being shortlisted for the “Oscars of the catering world.” Food Story… was named on a short-list of three for ‘Event Caterer of the Year’ at the Foodservice Cateys… with the ultimate winners to be announced at an event on 12 October at London’s Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel.” [JewishNews]
Honeys for Rosh Hashana — by Florence Fabricant: “Honey to beckon a sweet year is a traditional treat for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which will start at sundown Sept. 9. These assorted Waxing Kara raw honeys — all kosher in varieties like buckwheat, wildflower, spring and Florida orange blossom — come from a 102-acre farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.”[NYT]
BIRTHDAYS: Hedge fund manager and philanthropist, Paul Elliott Singerturns 74… Chairwoman of Israel’s Strauss Group, Ofra Strauss turns 58… Emmy Award winning television news journalist, formerly the weekend anchor of CBS Evening News, Morton Dean (born Morton Dubitsky) turns 83… Author, journalist, Yale Law graduate, he founded the magazine “American Lawyer” and the cable channel Court TV (now TruTV), he recently co-founded NewsGuard, which rates the legitimacy of online news sites, Steven Brill turns 68… Former Chief of Staff to US Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby turns 68… Portland, Oregon’s Marque Lampert Schererturns 68… Chairman of Israel Military Industries (now know as IMI Systems), he was a member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party (2006-2015) and served in multiple cabinet posts, Yitzhak Aharonovich turns 68… Encino, California’s Robin Elcott turns 62…
Former MLB outfielder, then investment banker, he was the US Ambassador to New Zealand (2015-2017) and has served as President of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida, Ambassador Mark Gilbert turns 62… Former investment banker who left his job to run a Los Angeles-based homeless service provider, he is now a professor at USC and a trustee of Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Adlai W. Wertman turns 59… Co-founder of Marquis Jet, one of the largest private jet card companies, former rapper and part owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Jesse Itzler turns 50… Director of strategic partnerships at the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Deborah Hochberg turns 45… Political consultant and investor, Michael Fragin turns 45… Project coordinator for “The Conversation: Jewish In America,” (an annual invitation-only, 48-hour gathering sponsored by The Jewish Week), Rachel Saifer Goldman… Co-Executive Director of Christians United for Israel, Shari Dollinger Magnus turns 41… Joyce Fox… Margie Berkowitz…