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Ed note: With Rosh Hashanah beginning on Sunday evening, we would like to wish all JI readers a happy, healthy and productive New Year! The Daily Kickoff will be on holiday schedule the next few weeks. Shana Tova!
A TRUMPIAN ROSH HASHANAH CALL — President Donald Trump’s pre-High Holidays conference call with Jewish community leaders and rabbis featured two lawyers, a former U.S. Senator, and a group of Holocaust survivors. During the call, President Trump described U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to the group of Jewish leaders as “your Ambassador” and Israel’s peace negotiations with the Palestinians as “your negotiations.”
Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sat around the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office along with the host of the call, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
In a brief opening statement, Trump noted his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. He also acknowledged a group of Holocaust survivors, who were gathered at the office of New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind in recognition of the move to deport former Nazi guard Jakiw Palij to Germany.
The President then invited Friedman to deliver an update on the expansion of the new embassy in Jerusalem. “We have about 150 people working there already. We’re beginning phase two of the construction period, which is beginning in a week or two,” Friedman said. “And we will roughly double the size by June of 2019.” Friedman also noted that the embassy has become a “major tourist site” in Israel. “People come there almost every day. People just pull up their cars in front of the embassy, they get out, take pictures. I see some people praying there. I have actually seen many people crying there,” he said.
Opening up the call for questions, Trump gave Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz — who he described as a “terrific gentleman and a great lawyer” — the first opportunity to pose a question. “Should the Jewish community be optimistic that you could help bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict that we all pray for all the time?” Dershowitz asked, after praising Trump for moving the Embassy to Jerusalem. “I think the answer to that is a very strong yes — you should be,” Trump responded. RJC National Chairman Norm Coleman followed with a question about the Iran deal. [JewishInsider]
HIGHLIGHTS — “My connection to Judaism is also personal. I am the very proud father of a Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and my son-in-law, who I’m very proud of also — I will say that very loudly — Jared, and my several Jewish grandchildren, namely three beautiful Jewish grandchildren that I love.”
What price will Israel pay for Jerusalem move? “Now, does that mean Israel is going to do something that will be good for the Palestinians? Yes. What is it going to be? I can’t tell you.”
Trump on U.S. aid to the Palestinians: “The United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money. And I’d say, ‘You’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.’ And that’s going to have a little impact.”
On the Iran deal: “The Europeans are finally leaving… You know, they tried to play hardball for a little while but they’re now leaving and they’re doing the right thing.” [Transcript]
Celebrating the High Holy Days, Eric Garcetti-Style — LA Mayor Eric Garcetti discussed his Jewish faith, how he spends the High Holidays, and support for Israel in the Democratic Party in an interview with the Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok:
Q: Will you attend other synagogues over the High Holy Days?
Garcetti: “I’m going to be at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. I think for Kol Nidre, I’m going to be at Temple Aliyah. And we’re going to try to get to an Orthodox synagogue, B’nai David-Judea. And maybe, if I have time, go to the [Pico Union] Project. It’s great, it’s awesome. [It] makes me feel at home in a Latino neighborhood with Jewish practice and the strands woven in from the surrounding areas.”
Q: How do you feel about the wing of the Democratic Party that is anti-Israel?
Garcetti: “I think that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Democrats. I think they’re progressive Democrats who understand that sometimes the overly conservative politics of Israel don’t represent them, but it is a core part of who we are that Israel should be defended and she should be uplifted and our loyalty should be about improving her, not about abandoning her.” [JewishJournal]
DRIVING THE CONVO — Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist, was caught in yet another controversial comment that could be perceived as offensive to the Jewish community. In an interview with the Daily Beast yesterday, Bannon blasted the coverage of John McCain’s funeral, derisively referring to the events as the “High Holy Days.”
“It’s not just the coverage of it, but it’s also the way it was set up and the way it was crafted,” Bannon said. “This was the High Holy Days. This permanent political class, you saw them there at this funeral. This was High Civic Religion, the High Holy Days. Trump didn’t create North Korea. He didn’t create Afghanistan. He didn’t create Iran. He didn’t create Venezuela. That was all dumped on him by that crowd that was there.” [DailyBeast]
Playbook’s Jake Sherman tweets: “I don’t know if this is offensive to all Jews, but it’s offensive to this Jew, who will celebrate the high holy days next week.”
Edward-Isaac Dovere: “That thing where a guy who’s been suspected of fomenting white supremacist feelings and prodding Trump’s reaction to last year’s Nazi march in Charlottesville makes a joke off the upcoming Jewish holidays.”
Bannon used the same term last November, celebrating “the first anniversary of the high holy day of MAGA” during a speech at a Michigan Republican Party dinner:
Errol Morris Defends Controversial Steve Bannon Documentary — by Brent Lang: “American Dharma” premiered this week at the Venice Film Festival to largely positive reviews. It will screen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival… Bannon was eager to participate in the project when Morris first pitched him on the idea… [Morris] was unnerved by Bannon’s characterization of French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron as a “little Rothschild banker.” “I’m a Jew, there’s no secret about that,” said Morris. “I don’t like to think I’m overly sensitive to anti-Semitic remarks, but there was something about the way that Bannon said it that made me sit upright. Macron was indeed a Rothschild banker [before entering politics] but the use of that expression in that context wasn’t just a dog whistle to racists. It’s a whistle whistle.” [Variety]
TRUMP DIPLOMACY — Trump Administration Pressures Paraguay to Move Embassy to Jerusalem — by Cristina Maza: “Vice President Mike Pence spoke yesterday with President Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay to discuss Asuncion’s recent announcement to delay the official move of its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Vice President strongly encouraged President Abdo Benitez to follow through with Paraguay’s previous commitment to move the embassy as a sign of the historic relationship the country has maintained with both Israel and the United States,” a White House statement read. The statement went on to say that “President Abdo Benitez underscored Paraguay’s lasting partnership with Israel and the leaders agreed to work towards achieving a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [Newsweek]
— Paraguay president calls Israel’s embassy move ‘exaggerated’: “I regret Israel’s decision. The reaction of closing the embassy was a little exaggerated and we urge authorities to reconsider it,” Abdo Benitez said at a news conference… He said Paraguay would “stick to international law and the United Nations’ resolution that still considers it a territory in conflict” between Israel and the Palestinians.” [ABCNews]
Trump Rewrites Rules of the Game in Middle East Peace Talks — by David Wainer: “By coming in and unilaterally rewriting the rules of the game, the Trump administration is removing itself from the role of mediator,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former U.S. State Department diplomat… “Many of these steps don’t make sense if you try to square them with an effort to reach a solution to the conflict.” [Bloomberg]
— Listen to Jason Greenblatt’s interview with The Land of Israel Network [TheLandofIsrael]
— U.S. Ambassador David Friedman released a humorous Rosh Hashanah video in which he searches for a small jar of honey that went missing during the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. [YouTube]
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a surprise visit to a family seated around the Rosh Hashanah table to list off his achievement over the past year. [Video]
TRANSITION: Salam Fayyad, former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, has joined the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy (CMEP) as a distinguished fellow. [Brookings]
WHITE HOUSE PROMOTION: Avi Berkowitz has been promoted to Deputy Assistant to the President and Advisor to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner. Berkowitz previously served as Special Assistant to the President and assistant to Kushner.
GONE VIRAL: Jared Kushner waited for a full two minutes outside locked doors at the offices of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for NAFTA negotiations. Kushner ignored shouted questions from reporters assembled on the street. [Video]
— Ken Vogel tweets: “Hey, it’s Jared. I’m outside. Can someone let me in? … Jared KUSHNER, the president’s son-in-law … I’m here for the NAFTA negotiations … Can someone unlock the door? … There are reporters out here asking me about the op-ed, & it’s getting awkward.”
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — It Wasn’t Me: Pence, Pompeo and a Parade of Administration Officials Deny Writing Op-Ed — by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Eileen Sullivan: “The writer’s use of the word “lodestar” sent some looking for those who had been known to use the word in public utterances. Since former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said “honor was John’s lodestar” in his eulogy at Mr. McCain’s funeral, that again made some wonder if it meant the author had been present. Among the advisers to Mr. Trump who were at the funeral were John F. Kelly, the chief of staff; Jon Huntsman, the ambassador to Russia; Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lawyer; [John] Bolton; and [Dan] Coats, as well as Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” [NYTimes]
— “In Oval Office huddles Thursday, White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and senior adviser Jared Kushner, among other aides, tried to convince the president that he could trust them and others in his inner circle. They argued that the author was probably a lower-level employee.” [WashPost]
Donald Trump Agreed Jared Kushner Shouldn’t Serve in White House: Woodward Book —by Jessica Kwong: “In his forthcoming book… Bob Woodward writes that then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus “decided to escalate, make a big play” of a June 15, 2017, Washington Post story with the headline, “Special Counsel Is Investigating Jared Kushner’s Business Dealings.” … “He told Trump that Jared should not be in the White House in an official capacity.” Trump would normally ignore or dismiss such attacks on Kushner, Woodward wrote. “This time he paused, slowed down, and became reflective. He looked at his chief of staff,” the book stated. “The response was jarring, so different.” “You’re right,” Trump is quoted saying.” [Newsweek]
IRAN DEAL WATCH — U.N. nuclear watchdog chief undergoes medical procedure — by Francois Murphy: “The head of the U.N.’s nuclear inspectorate [Yukiya Amano] has undergone an unspecified medical procedure and will not return to Vienna, where the agency is based, for roughly a month… Amano’s treatment comes at a sensitive time, since the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Iran accord in May… Amano will also miss one of the busiest periods of the year for his agency. In addition to a quarterly meeting of its 35-nation Board of Governors next week, it is due to hold an annual meeting of all its member states the following week.” [Reuters]
2018 WATCH — An Arrest? An Affair? Keith Hernandez? Just Another Day in the Julia Salazar Campaign — by Jesse McKinley: “In the latest twist in the Zelig-like story of Julia Salazar — born-again democratic socialist, would-be immigrant and actual New York State Senate candidate in Brooklyn — news broke on Thursday of her 2011 arrest involving a dispute with the ex-wife of the former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez. The charge? Attempted identity theft… The revelations only added to the snowballing, stranger-than-fiction tale of Ms. Salazar, whose insurgent campaign has been buffeted by a series of articles outlining discrepancies in her personal biography.” [NYTimes; Tablet]
RACE TO WATCH NEXT TUESDAY — Levi Sanders, the son of Senator Bernie Sanders, and Maura Sullivan, a former Defense Department official in the Obama administration, are among 11 candidates competing in a Democratic Party primary for the open seat being vacated by Shea-Porter (D) in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Aryeh Bourkoff interviews Take-Two interactive CEO and ZMC Founder Strauss Zelnick on his KindredCast podcast [SoundCloud] • Ashton Kutcher dishes on what it takes to make it in Silicon Valley [Pitchbook] • Groupon founder Eric Lefkofsky reportedly buys $31 million Florida penthouse [CrainsChicago] • Real Estate Investor Edward Minskoff Giving $30 Million To Michigan State [AP] • Daniel Loeb’s Third Point aims to Replace Campbell Soup’s Entire Board [WSJ] • Carl Icahn Still Opposes Dell Deal on Valuation Concerns [Bloomberg]
‘The Cakemaker’ Wins Israel’s Best Picture Award, Becomes Its Oscar Submission —by Amy Spiro: “German-Israeli film “The Cakemaker” won best picture at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Thursday evening, an accolade that automatically makes it the country’s submission to the foreign-language film category at the Oscars. The film was written and directed by Ofir Raul Graizer, an Israeli who lives in Berlin… On Thursday, “The Cakemaker” picked up five other Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, including best screenplay, best director and best actress.” [Variety]
SPORTS BLINK — New Hall of Fame exhibit tells story of catcher-spy Moe Berg: “The Baseball Hall of Fame has opened a new exhibit on Moe Berg, the major league catcher-turned-spy whose story was the subject of a Hollywood film released this summer… The New York City-born son of Russian-Jewish immigrants was an Ivy League graduate who played more than 660 games over 15 seasons for the Dodgers, White Sox, Indians, Senators and Red Sox… The exhibit chronicles his athletic and espionage exploits through his baseball artifacts and wartime documents.” [AP]
ACROSS THE POND — Labour Members Want To Know How Iran’s Press TV Was Able To Live-Tweet A No-Confidence Vote Against A Pro-Israel MP — by Mark Di Stefano: “On Thursday night, the social media accounts for the UK arm of Press TV posted images and footage to Twitter and Facebook showing local members from the Enfield North CLP meeting narrowly passing a motion against Labour’s Joan Ryan. It comes as Labour party leadership attempts to deal with accusations of antisemitism from prominent members of the British Jewish community… The chair of the Enfield North CLP is now demanding an investigation into the breach… Joan Ryan – who’s considered a Labour moderate and chairs the parliamentary party’s Labour Friends of Israel group – narrowly lost a no confidence motion against her 92-94.” [BuzzFeed]
“I survived the Warsaw ghetto. Here are the lessons I’d like to pass on” by Stanislaw Aronson: “Now 93 years old and living in Tel Aviv, I have watched from afar in recent years as armchair patriots in my native Poland have sought to exploit and manipulate the memories and experiences of my generation. They may think they are promoting “national dignity” or instilling “pride” in today’s young people, but in reality they are threatening to raise future generations in darkness, ignorant of the war’s complexity and doomed to repeat the mistakes for which we paid such a high price. But this is not just a Polish phenomenon: it is happening in many parts of Europe, and our experiences hold lessons for the whole continent.” [TheGuardian]
DESSERT — The $5 Kosher Falafel On The Lower East Side — by Shira Feder: “As Jewish food takes a turn towards the Middle Eastern, falafel shops are sprouting up all over town… One such shop is Falafix, a newly kosher certified shop. where everything on the menu is under $5.” [Forward]
With few GW options, students struggle to keep kosher: “When Meir Lesches arrived on campus his freshman year, he didn’t realize that his biggest struggle would be finding something to eat. Lesches, now a sophomore, has always followed a strict kosher diet – but a lack of on-campus kosher options caused him to lose 30 pounds last year, he said. There are just five kosher-friendly vendors on GWorld – a shortfall Lesches said made him consider transferring to schools with “stronger” kosher choices, like New York University.” [GWHatchet]
BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Palm Beach, Florida resident, the school at the Westchester (NY) Jewish Center bears her name, Beverly Cannold turns 93… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, he was a managing director of Marks and Spencer, Baron Andrew Zelig Stone turns 76… Political columnist for Time Magazine and author of the novel “Primary Colors,” Joe Klein turns 72… Color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts along with John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman turns 72… Billionaire owner and CEO of Gristedes Foods,John Catsimatidis turns 70… Pulitzer Prize winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, now Director of Literary Journalism at UC-Irvine, Barry Siegel turns 69… Minneapolis area school counselor and language arts teacher, Sandra Sevig turns 69… Chairman of the Mathematics Department at UCSD, Efim Zelmanov turns 63… Global co-chair of the Israel practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins, Stuart Kurlander turns 56…
Bahraini Ambassador to the US (2008-2013) after four years in the Bahraini Parliament (2005-2008), Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo turns 54… Associate professor at George Washington University, author, lecturer, and community scholar of Manhattan’s Jewish Center, Dr. Erica Brown… Award-winning special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of four best-selling books (book topics include John Paulson, fracking and athletes overcoming challenges), Gregory Zuckerman turns 52… Screenwriter, producer and director of many successful films and TV shows, Alex Kurtzman turns 45… Author of two New York Times best sellers and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon turns 45… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Shomrei Emunah since 2010, Rabbi Binyamin Marwick turns 41… Contributing Editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, previously National Political Editor at the Washington Post, Maralee Schwartz… Executive assistant at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Karen McCormick…
SATURDAY: Billionaire and philanthropist, owner of L Brands, Leslie H. “Les” Wexner turns 81… United States Senator from Vermont and 2016 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders turns 77… Born in Egypt to Jewish refugee parents from Europe, she is a Labour party member of the UK House of Commons since 1994 and a harsh critic of Jeremy Corbyn, Dame Margaret Eve Hodge (née Oppenheimer) turns 74… Pharma executive Samuel D. Waksal turns 71… Chairman of Douglas Elliman and its parent company, NYSE listed Vector Group, also chairman of Nathan’s Famous, Howard Mark Lorber turns 70… Billionaire owner of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie turns 67… Born in Casablanca, made aliyah in 1962, he was co-chair of the Jewish National Fund (2012-2017), and was previously a member of Knesset for the Likud (2003-2005) and then the Kadima party (2005-2012), Eli Aflalo turns 66… CEO of Weight Watchers since July 2017, Mindy Grossman turns 61… British physician, neuroscientist and engineer, Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, Daniel Wolpert turns 55…
Billionaire, born in Azerbaijan (then part of the Soviet Union), he is reported to be the most successful real estate developer in Russia owning many luxury hotels and shopping centers, Zarakh Iliev turns 52… Australian businessman and philanthropist, James Douglas Packer turns 51… Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, PA, Rabbi Andrea Merow turns 49… Aspen, Colorado resident, Adam Goldsmith turns 49… Founder in 2010 of Atlanta-based JewishGPS, LLC, designed to help guide Jewish organizations in a variety of aspects of Jewish education, Robyn Faintich turns 45… Principal and co-founder of Berlin Rosen, Jonathan Rosen turns 40… Yale University graduate, Gabby Deutch… and her twin sister, a graduate of Vanderbilt, Serena Deutch, daughters of Congressman Ted Deutch, both turn 22… The Jewish Agency’s Gilad Peled… Jay Abarbanel… Philip Ehrensaft…
SUNDAY: President of Israel since 2014, Reuven Rivlin turns 79… Orlando real estate investor and manager, Harris Rosen turns 79… Commentator Daniel Pipes turns 69… Fourth president of Yeshiva University (2003-2017), Richard Joel turns 68… A founder of the Shas party, previously Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem (1983-1998) and a member of Knesset (1999-2015), Nissim Mordechai Ze’ev turns 67… Founding president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, Martin Kramer turns 64… Editorial director of Schocken Books (the Judaica imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is part of Penguin Random House), Altie Karper turns 62… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Shari Arison turns 61…
CFO since April 2017 of New Science Ventures, Lloyd Eric Appel turns 55… Actor Adam Sandler turns 52… Born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, he made aliyah in 2004 and served in the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party (2013-2015), Dov Lipman turns 47… Global lead at McKinsey & Company’s public and social sector practice advanced analytics group, Sacha Frédéric Litmanturns 45… Founder of the Silverstein Group, Rustin Silverstein turns 42… SVP of Tiedemann Wealth Management since August 2017, Michael B. Greenwald turns 35… Startup founder Ben Lang… Beverly Hills resident, Barbara Schechter… Suzy Stone…
MONDAY: CEO of Shamrock Holdings, he has served in leadership roles on the boards of Walt Disney Company, Tadiran, USC, HUC-JIR and the LA Jewish Federation, Stanley Gold turns 76… Founder and CEO of NYC-based hedge fund JS Capital Management LLC, he is the son of George Soros, Jonathan Soros turns 48… Director of the Mid Atlantic Region of Agudath Israel, Ariel Sadwin turns 43…
TUESDAY: Founder and president of Appaloosa Management, new owner of the Carolina Panthers, David Tepper turns 61… CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mark Dubowitz turns 50… Journalist Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt…