Daily Kickoff: Trump gives Stanley Chera a shoutout | Senators Casey, Scott re-intro bill on antisemitism | David Brooks on the Sabbath
HEARD LAST NIGHT — President Trump during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan: “A friend of mine — he’s very shy, but he’s very rich. He shouldn’t be shy. He’s one of the biggest builders and real estate people in the world, one of the biggest owners of property. I shouldn’t introduce him because you guys won’t like him, because he’s a big owner of property. But you own property, he just owns more of it than you do. And he’s a great guy and he’s been with me from the beginning — Stanley Chera. Stanley!!”
“Those big beautiful buildings in Manhattan, you know, those big beautiful buildings? He owns them. Stanley, how much did you make this month? Stanley is a great guy. He’s been with us all. He loves you, and he’s been with us from the beginning.” [Video]
FYI: New York real estate developer Stanley Chera is the founder of Crown Acquisitions. He was born in 1942 to a Syrian Jewish family. [RealDeal]
DRIVING THE CONVO — The Obama administration had control over the timing of the UN Security Council resolution (UNSC 2334) rollout, an anonymous former Obama official revealed to the New York Times. The White House wanted the resolution to wait until after the 2016 election, so as not to create political problems for Democrats. “There is a reason the U.N. vote did not come up before the election in November,” the unidentified former official told the Times.
This new information contradicts claims made by the Obama administration at the end of 2016 that the White House was caught by surprise when Egypt proposed 2334. President Obama then instructed his U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power to abstain, an effective endorsement of the resolution.
At the time, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer contended that Israel had proof that the White House drove the resolution. White House advisor Ben Rhodes responded to Dermer’s claims in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN. Rhodes stressed “with certainty” that the administration “did not draft the resolution and put this resolution forward. This was something the Palestinians and Egyptians were working on for some time now.” [JewishInsider]
Amb. Dennis Ross emails us: “I am not surprised. There was a lot of anger at Netanyahu in and around the Obama administration, especially after the speech against the prospective Iran deal in Congress. I assumed they would do something after the election. The UNSC Resolution was destructive undoing a lot of work over the years — not to have June 4, 1967 the default border.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro: “This is a garbage claim, made by someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. I recommended we veto the resolution, and wish we had. But the idea that the United States controlled the timing, much less that it was determined by such political calculations, is simply BS. Here is a case where you shouldn’t trust anonymous sources.”
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu once gave Obama a lecture. Now he’s using it to boost his election campaign — by Ruth Eglash: “Netanyahu shared on his social media accounts Thursday a segment from the 2016 PBS Frontline documentary ‘Netanyahu at War.’ The clip features a much-discussed meeting between the two leaders in the Oval Office on May 20, 2011, days after Obama stated publicly that ‘the borders between Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.’ … Sharing the clip on Facebook, Netanyahu wrote in Hebrew that “in the face of all pressure, I will protect our country,” making it clear that in recycling his most famous clash with Obama, he wants to show he can make Israel’s case even under pressure.” [WashPost]
Dennis Ross, who was also featured in the video, told JI he was “not thrilled” to be used in the Israeli prime minister’s reelection campaign. “Being used and in a misleading way is never pleasant.”
The Likud also criticized Yesh Atid MKs for signing a petition in December, 2015 calling on Netanyahu to cancel his planned meeting with then-candidate Donald Trump over Muslim ban proposal, implying that “Lapid-Gantz party representatives called to boycott the President.”
Of note: Trump cancelled the Israel trip in the end after the PM condemned his comments. Trump told Jewish Insider in April, 2016 that he was “disappointed” with Netanyahu over the statement.
In another video, the Netanyahu campaign featured comments made by Sean Hannity, in which the Fox News host calls him “Churchillian” and says that Netanyahu was “the sole voice of moral clarity against modern evil in our time until Donald Trump got into office.”
WHY IT MATTERS — Dan Arbell, an Associate Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) — Americas: “In sharp contrast to his close relationship with Trump, relations with Obama were very tense. In Israel, as you know, Obama is very unpopular. Showing Bibi preaching to Obama while Obama listens on and looks gloomy, plays well with Netanyahu’s base. He’s already been using the line that he alone fought against Obama and the entire world over the Iran nuclear deal. This is another example of him standing up for Israeli interests vis-a-vis an American President.”
HOW IT PLAYED — Netanyahu uses icy relationship with Obama to try to win votes [Reuters] • Netanyahu at war: Netanyahu Resurfaces Frontline Clip of Him Lecturing Obama Amid Re-election Campaign [Frontline]
Arbell: “All Netanyahu cares about and is focused on is April 9. After he wins, he’ll apologize and explain. The damage by then, however, will be irreparable.”
IPF’s David Halperin tells us: “I am sorry to say that this isn’t surprising. I’m sure we’ve reached a moment, a sad state of affairs when Netanyahu believes it’s politically advantageous to share a video in which he publicly appears to be gloating at and lecturing an incredibly popular Democratic president. This may be beneficial for Netanyahu’s personal and political prospects, but it’s disastrous for the long term strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Things like this video adds just more fuel to the fire of a growing debate within the Democratic Party on what its policies should be vis-à-vis an Israeli government that has now been led by PM Netanyahu for soon to be over 10 years and a far-right government that so clearly sides with the political opposition and with a deeply divisive American president who is not exactly beloved in the Democratic Party.”
Alon Pinkas, former Israeli Consul General to New York: “Mr. Netanyahu is reckless and his ingratitude is shameful. Political expediency is no justification for manipulating facts and history and his deliberate assault on bipartisan support for Israel is nothing short of politically criminal. With all due respect to differences they had, President Obama’s contribution to Israel’s security is immense. $38 Billion in military aid, supplemental funding for the Iron Dome, bunker busters munitions and a wide array of intelligence sharing.”
Ben Rhodes wrote on Twitter: “Democrats have to reckon with the fact that the Prime Minister of Israel has a political brand built on fear, racism, open-ended subjugation of Palestinians and gleeful disrespect for Democrats.”
ANOTHER KING BIBI COVER — After being featured on the Time Magazine’s cover in 2012 as King Bibi, Netanyahu got the title back in his bid for a 5th term, this time featured on the cover of The Economist. “The reign of King Bibi is a parable of modern politics: the rise of a talented politician and a long success based on a perplexing mixture of carrying out sound policy and cynically sowing division,” the magazine writes in a series of featured articles about Netanyahu.
— “One result of that sojourn in power is that no Israeli diplomat today need worry about humiliation at the hands of a Republican administration. It is hard to imagine a feather sliding between President Donald Trump’s Republicans and Mr. Netanyahu and his Likud party.” [Economist]
COUNTERPROGRAMMING — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) posted a picture on Thursday with President Obama at an event with freshmen members that took place at the same time as the AIPAC leadership reception earlier this week. “We had a thoughtful discussion about serving our country,” she wrote on Twitter. “The best part was when he looked straight at me and said, ‘I’m proud of you.'” [Pic]
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Rep Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, implored the State Department to treat the threat of white nationalist terrorism as a foreign policy priority, referencing the massacres at a mosque in New Zealand and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh as evidence.
“Just as with Islamist terrorism, we must target white nationalist terrorism, and the networks and ideologies which underpin it globally to safeguard the United States, our allies, and our interests,” Engel wrote in a letter.
Rep. Engel called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to name the New Zealand attacker a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” a mechanism to punish financial backers and disrupt terrorist funding. “Now is the time to combat this scourge with a multifaceted approach – one which includes a global component in which the State Department must be a key player,” he wrote.
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) reintroduced the Antisemitism and Awareness Act this week, an effort to protect students in schools and universities from discrimination stemming from antisemitism.
“As we just passed the five-month anniversary of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, now is an important time as ever to take action to address incidents of religiously-motivated hate crimes,” Sen. Casey wrote in an email to Jewish Insider. “We must not just condemn, but act to stop all forms of religious discrimination and hate. I urge my colleagues in both chambers to support and pass this measure swiftly.”
Sen. Scott first introduced the bill in 2016 although it failed to gain momentum. “It is crucial to have clear and concise language defining anti-Semitism in the event that violence and hatred occurs,” Scott said in a statement. The bill defines antisemitism from language adopted by the State Department from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The bill also gives more authority to punishing incidents of religious discrimination and religiously-motivated hate crimes.
Engel, McCaul Forge Rare Bipartisan Bond — by Susan Crabtree: “Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike McCaul, the panel’s ranking Republican, on Monday shared the stage at the AIPAC conference in Washington and publicly lauded each other’s personal integrity and shared commitment to protecting the U.S.-Israel alliance… Engel and McCaul are hardly natural political allies… But it doesn’t hurt that Engel, who is Jewish, and McCaul are both stalwart defenders of Israel even though Engel’s Democratic caucus is in the middle of a divisive public feud over support for that Mideast ally.” [RealClearPolitics]
AT THE UN — Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, suggested that the U.S. should give Israel ‘South Carolina’ instead of recognizing its sovereignty over the Golan Heights. During a Security Council special session on Thursday, Jaafari said, “America is a wide and vast country, so why doesn’t it give up a state or two of the United States to the Israelis, for example, North Carolina or South Carolina? South Carolina is nice because it’s the land of Senator Lindsey Graham, who supported President Trump in his actions.”
A day before the annual Arab League summit in Tunis, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui told Arab foreign ministers that the country will coordinate with fellow Arab countries to contain any fall out from the U.S. decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.
TALK OF THE REGION — Palestinians Are Getting Fed Up With Hamas for Wretched Conditions — by Amy Teibel: “Privately, some complain that Hamas is too preoccupied with fighting Israel to take care of local needs. Others are fed up with Palestinian divisions that prevent them from effectively lobbying for an independent state… The protests, promoted on social media, never involved more than several hundred people in Jabalia refugee camp, Deir El Balah and Gaza City. But although the dissent has been suppressed, the underlying despair won’t be contained, according to Mustafa al-Sawaf, a political analyst close to Hamas.” [Bloomberg]
As U.S. Tightens Iran Sanctions, Militant Groups and Political Allies Feel the Pain — by Ben Hubbard: “Fighters from Shiite militias and Palestinian factions in Syria say their salaries have been cut and their families pushed out of subsidized apartments. Even the food they receive has worsened, some say, with less meat and more potatoes. A veteran Hezbollah fighter said he and his colleagues had not been paid in January and received only base salaries in February, without the usual bonuses for wives and children… The fighter said the cuts would not push members away from the movement, but acknowledged that they put pressure on families who lacked other income.” [NYTimes]
Sigal Mandelker, under-secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, told reporters in Singapore the United States had placed additional “intense pressure” on Iran this week. Action had been taken this week against a network involved in an Iranian sanctions evasion scheme — a network that includes Iran, UAE and Turkey-based front companies, she said.
2020 WATCH — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had lunch with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while in DC. “We had labneh,” Ocasio-Cortez postedon Twitter… Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is featured in the Hollywood Reporter under the header, ‘From Hollywood to First Gentleman.’… RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said on Fox & Friends that the absence of Democratic candidates at AIPAC shows the party is “anti-Israel.”
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on big business and socialism [BusinessInsider] • Lightstone joining the rush into opportunity zones – real estate projects that benefit tax breaks [Bloomberg] • Ari Emanuel Sells Mandeville Canyon Contemporary[Variety] • Lidar and Israel-based perception startup Innoviz raises $132 million [TechCrunch] • Walmart CEO Doug McMillon arrived in Israel earlier this week for a visit accompanied by a delegation of senior company officials [Calcalist]
SPOTLIGHT — $1 million prize awaits Israeli team if moon landing works — by Marcia Dunn: “The XPrize Foundation announced Thursday it’s offering a $1 million award for a successful lunar landing… SpaceIL, the Israeli nonprofit behind Beresheet, made the final cut in the $20 million Google Lunar XPrize competition, which ended last year without a winner. The new award was inspired by SpaceIL’s perseverance.” [AP]
SPORTS BLINK — The NHL’s Gary Bettman was a sports gambling skeptic. Now he’s a convert — by Matt Bonesteel: “NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman once didn’t think too highly of legalized sports gambling… Fast forward seven years to Thursday, when Bettman was asked about his past opposition to sports gambling at a conference held by the American Gaming Association at the MGM National Harbor casino in Prince George’s County. ‘Oh, that,’ he said, drawing a laugh… If there is one thing that best exemplifies the sweeping changes afoot in pro sports after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last May to nullify PASPA, the federal law that prohibited sports gambling in all but a handful of areas, it might be the commissioner of a major U.S. league appearing before a group of casino executives and industry insiders in a ballroom dressed with all the large-screen accoutrements of a sportsbook… ‘Times have changed,’ Bettman continued after his laugh line.” [WashPost]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Detroit Was an Anti-Vax Hot Spot. Now It’s a Measles Hot Zone — by Trevor Bach: “More than 1,400 people have rushed to three free makeshift clinics to get vaccines or boosters since the outbreak was announced… As of Thursday afternoon, Michigan officials had confirmed 22 measles cases, all but one in Oakland County. The outbreak is already the state’s worst in more than two decades, and is likely to keep growing… Metro Detroit is a hotspot for the anti-vaccination movement, according to a 2018 study in PLOS Medicine.” [DailyBeast]
TOP OP — David Brooks writes… “Longing for an Internet Cleanse: The great philosopher of time is Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. In his great book ‘The Sabbath,’ he points out that the first sacred thing in the Bible is not a thing, it is a time period, the seventh day. Judaism, he argues, is primarily a religion of time, not space. ‘The seventh day,’ he writes, ‘is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, of joy and reticence. In its atmosphere, a discipline is a reminder of adjacency to eternity. Indeed, the splendor of the day is expressed in terms of abstentions.’ The Sabbath, he continues, is not a rest from the other six days. It is the peak experience the other six days point toward. On this day the Orthodox do less and in slowness can glimpse the seeds of eternity.” [NYTimes]
Bagels and War Crimes — by Binyamin Appelbaum: “The heirs of Albert Reimann Jr., who built one of Germany’s largest business empires, maintained for decades that Mr. Reimann and his father had been reluctant Nazis during World War II. Yes, they said, it was regrettable that the company employed slaves and prisoners of war in its chemical factories, but that was the nature of business during the war years. This weekend the Reimann family decided to change its tune, offering an abject apology for the behavior of Albert Reimann Jr., who died in 1984, and Albert Reimann Sr., who died in 1954… The public apology also is good for business. The Reimanns have been on a buying spree, snapping up familiar food and drink brands… When the Reimanns’ holding company acquired the British sandwich maker Pret A Manger last year, the sister of the company’s deceased founder, who happened to be Jewish, declared she was mortified to learn about the Reimanns’ roots.” [NYTimes]
DESSERT — Germany: First postwar kosher restaurant opens in Leipzig: “Hummus, fried fish and matzo ball soup: Those are some of the things you can find on the menu at Cafe Salomon, Leipzig’s first kosher restaurant since World War II… Cafe Salomon’s owner, Jakob Kerzhner, told LVZ that previously kosher-abiding Jews could only have meals ‘at home.’ Most restaurants prepare meat, fish and dairy products in kitchens that do not meet the standards of kashruth, Judaism’s dietary laws.” [DW]
Our Best Passover Recipes: Brisket, Lamb, Matzo Balls and More for Your Seder Table —by Margaux Laskey: “Passover, the seven-day festival that marks the liberation of the Jews from Egyptian slavery, begins this year at sundown on April 19. Here are all the recipes you need for your Seder table, from gefilte fish and haroseth to lamb shanks and brisket.” [NYTimes]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Hollywood mogul, co-CEO of entertainment and media agency William Morris Endeavor, he acquired the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2016 for an estimated $4 billion, Ariel Zev “Ari” Emanuel turns 58… Evolutionary biologist, geneticist, academic and social commentator, he has been a professor of zoology and biology at Harvard for many years, Richard Lewontin turns 90… Florida plaintiff’s attorney, he earned a $300 million fee for suing the tobacco industry, the University of Florida law school bears his name, Fred Levin turns 82… Chemist, professor at both Hebrew University and UCLA, winner of the 1974 Israel Prize, Raphael David Levine turns 81… Attorney, NYT best-selling author, sports agent for many athletes including Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Kirby Puckett and Eddie Murray, Ronald M. Shapiro turns 76… Houston-based labor law, employment law and personal injury attorney, active in Jewish organizations, Carol Nelkin turns 74… Orthopedic surgeon, former professional boxer, entrepreneur, author, speaker, screenplay writer, movie producer and philanthropist, Harold “Hackie” Stuart Reitman, MD turns 69…
Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for economics, University of Chicago professor Roger Myerson turns 68… Investor, computer scientist and founder of D. E. Shaw & Co., a hedge fund based upon high-speed quantitative trading, David Elliot Shaw turns 68… Chairman of consulting firm Roubini Global Economics and professor at NYU, he was a senior economist for the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration, Nouriel Roubini turns 61… Miami businesswoman JoAnne Papir... Adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute in the program on Arab politics, former special assistant to President Obama, Eric Pelofsky turns 48… National Press Secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, David A. Bergstein turns 31… Senior energy consultant at Aurora Energy Advisors, he was the student commencement speaker at his 2013 George Washington University graduation, Alexander Zafran turns 28… Senior administrative assistant in Christie’s impressionist and modern art group, Annie Rosen… Born in Atlanta, raised in Johannesburg, now founder of Leopard Strategies, Liz Jaff…
SATURDAY: Meteorologist, science and health reporter, who was on television in NYC for five decades, he was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, Frank Field turns 96… Musician, music executive and businessman, he was chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Charles Koppelman turns 79… Harvard Professor of Economics and winner of the Israel Prize in 1991, Elhanan Helpman turns 73… Film and television director, Michael Stephen Lehmann turns 62… Comedian, actor, television personality Paul Reiser turns 62… Actor best known for his role as Steve Sanders on the television series “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000), Ian Ziering turns 55… US Special Representative for International Negotiations since January 2017, he was previously the long-time EVP and general counsel of the Trump Organization, Jason Dov Greenblatt turns 52… Tel Aviv-born actress, she appears on television and film in both Israel and the US, Mili Avital turns 47… Mexican-American chef, television personality, cookbook author and food writer, she won a James Beard Award for her PBS television series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” Pati Jinich turns 47…
Treasurer of Oakland County, Michigan, having been elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016, he announced that he will run for County Executive in 2020, Andy Meisner turns 46… Iranian-born LA-based actress, best known for her roles in “Crash” and the “Saw” franchise, also as the mother of the inspirational amputee Ezra Frech, Bahar Soomekh turns 44… Director of communications at the DC Public Library, Gabriela Schneider turns 43… Senior advisor to Ambassador David Friedman at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Aryeh Lightstone turns 39… Author, composer and playwright, market development director of Sh’ma Journal, Robert J. Saferstein turns 36… Chief innovation officer and managing director at Kivvit, Zach Silber turns 31… Foreign policy and national security reporter at the Huffington Post since 2015, Jessica Schulberg turns 31… Professional baseball infielder for MLB’s Houston Astros, he was the MVP of the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, Alex Bregman turns 25… Feature writer for Haaretz, Danna Harman… Ft. Lauderdale resident, Lois Goldberg… Boca Raton resident, Janot Grant David… Cherry Hill, NJ’s Zelda Greenberg…
SUNDAY: Chairman of Apple, Inc. since 2011 and CEO of Calico (an Alphabet R&D biotech venture), he was previously the CEO of Genentech (1995-2009), Arthur D. Levinson turns 69… Music producer, band leader of the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert turns 84… New York Times best-selling novelist, poet and social activist, Marge Piercy turns 83… Playwright of more than 70 plays, screenwriter for movies, director and actor, in 2017 he was the subject of reported allegations of sexual misconduct, Israel Horovitz turns 80… Democratic congressman from Massachusetts (1981-2013), named co-sponsor of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, since 2015 he has served as a director of Signature Bank, Barnett “Barney” Frank turns 79… Syndicated talk radio host on 400+ stations and conservative political commentator under the name Michael Savage, also best-selling author and nutritionist under his real name, Michael Alan Weiner turns 77… Emmy Award-winning movie and television actress, best known for her role in the sitcom Cheers (1982-1993), Rhea Jo Perlmanturns 71… Russian ice dancing coach and former competitive ice dancer, now living in Stamford CT, Natalia Dubova turns 71… David Freedman turns 68… Israeli singer and songwriter, Ehud Banai turns 66… President at the Detroit-based Nemer Property Group, Larry Nemer turns 65…
Show jumping equestrian and 10-time American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year, she is a 2009 inductee into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Margie Goldstein-Engle turns 61… Emmy award winning writer (“24,” “Homeland” and “Tyrant”) Howard Gordon turns 58… Judah Isaacsturns 55… Heir to his grandfather’s NYC real estate fortune, LA-based businessman, film producer and donor to progressive causes, Steve Bing turns 54… Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, elected in 2013 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2017, Andy Berke turns 51… Chief economic correspondent for Politico and author of its “Morning Money” column covering the nexus of finance and public policy, Ben White turns 47… Chief legal correspondent at MSNBC, Ari Melber turns 39… Footballer for Beitar Jerusalem, who has also played for Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham United in the English Premier League, Tal Ben Haim turns 37… Tal Meir Levine turns 36… Internet entrepreneur who is the co-founder and former CMO of Tinder, Justin Mateen turns 33… Jerusalem-born, raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, she was a 2010 contestant on America’s Next Top Model, she went on to join the IDF, Esther Petrack turns 27… John Jacobson… Joel Mittler… Arul Anna Raj… Howie Keenan…