Daily Kickoff: The price of oil as Iran waivers expire this week | WeWork IPO | Michael Cohen’s pre-Otisville interview
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Bret Stephens ponders “What happens if Jared and Ivanka divorce tomorrow?” — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens discussed Trump’s Israel policyduring a panel hosted by student groups TorchPAC and Realize Israel at the NYU Global Center in Manhattan.
Stephens said of Trump, that “his transactional concept of foreign policy, his ‘what’s in it for us’ trademark approach — America First — is one that right now contains an exception for Israel, because for whatever reasons he’s pro-Israel. But what happens if Jared and Ivanka divorce tomorrow? Right? No, seriously, imagine Jared cheats on Ivanka and Trump is in a rage: ‘Out with Jared, that scoundrel son-in-law, behaving the way I do?’ Well, then you’re in trouble because the philosophical concept through which Trump conducts foreign policy no longer is necessarily going to make an emotional exception for Israel. And what happens when you get Trump 2.0? That is to say the same kind of foreign policy, but on a more consistent basis. That’s what worries me about Trump.” Read a full recap here[JewishInsider]
At Milken yesterday, White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt briefed a small session of attendees gathered in a Beverly Hilton board room on the administration’s approach to the Middle East. Greenblatt tweeted, “this year’s [Milken Global Conference] theme ‘Driving Shared Prosperity’ couldn’t be more fitting for what Jared, Amb. David Friedman and I hope will be the future of our peace vision for Israel, Palestinians and the region.”
DRIVING THE CONVO — Global oil prices remain largely unchangeddespite the recent move by the Trump administration to apply maximum pressure on Iran by not renewing sanctions waivers for Iranian oil exports. The International Monetary Fund projects that the sanctions could fuel inflation in Iran to 50 percent, the highest level since 1980. Before the U.S. announcement, the IMF had expected Iranian inflation to average 37 percent.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a conversation with The Hill’s Bob Cusack at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.: “We’ve worked with alternative suppliers including alternative suppliers for the countries that we didn’t grant waivers to. We’ve worked on alternative suppliers here in the United States of America. We produce as much crude oil as anybody out there… But with respect to the absence of the granting of waivers and what others may do, sovereign nations make their own choices; individual businesses inside of that will make their own choices. What we can do is prepare a sanctions regime that makes it incredibly costly, and so companies that choose to violate the sanctions that we have in place… we will ensure that they are held accountable for the violations that they engage in. It’s pretty straightforward.”
Maria Jeffrey, a spokesperson for Sen. Cruz (R-TX) tells JI, “Sen. Cruz believes that maximum pressure should mean maximum pressure. That includes taking away Iran’s waivers for raking in billions in oil sales, and it was always clear that global energy markets would be able to adjust without increasing prices.”
FDD’s Mark Dubowitz emails: “The oil markets are well supplied and buyers have other options apart from Iranian crude. As long as the Saudis and Emiratis step in to replace Iranian barrels, prices should remain stable and the maximum pressure campaign against Iranian oil exports can be intensified.”
Washington Institute’s Patrick Clawson: “Iran sanctions have been a part of the global oil picture, but not a huge part. A number of other developments have driven up prices: Venezuela’s troubles, worries about Algeria and Libya, the Saudi + Emirati decision to produce 800,000 barrels/day less than the quotas agreed to late last year.” [JewishInsider]
TALK OF THE REGION — During a phone call on Monday, President Donald Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed a Turkish proposal to create a joint working group on its planned purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, the Turkish president’s office said in a statement.
The Trump administration is pushing to issue an order that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, bringing the weight of American sanctions against a storied and influential Islamist political movement with millions of members across the Middle East. The White House directed national security and diplomatic officials to find a way to place sanctions on the group after a White House visit on April 9 by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.
TALK OF OUR NATION — Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein writes in the New York Times: “A Terrorist Tried to Kill Me Because I Am a Jew. I Will Never Back Down: I do not know why God spared my life. I do not know why I had to witness scenes of a pogrom in San Diego County like the ones my grandparents experienced in Poland. I don’t know why a part of my body was taken away from me… I do not know God’s plan. All I can do is try to find meaning in what has happened. And to use this borrowed time to make my life matter more.” [NYTimes]
INBOX — The Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit of antisemitic incidents recorded a total of 1,879 attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions across the country in 2018, the third-highest year on record since ADL started tracking such data in the 1970s. The overall number of incidents represents a 5 percent decline from 1,986 incidents reported in 2017.
STATE-SIDE — California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a plan to fund $15 million for the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program in the wake of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue shooting.
The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill to address antisemitism in the state on Monday. The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Joe Gruters, a Republican from Sarasota, requires that schools address antisemitic behavior the same way they address racial discrimination. It also defines antisemitic behavior as “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.” The bill was brought up for a vote by Senate leadership in the wake of the Poway synagogue attack.
REPORT — Staffers at the New York Times are alarmed and dismayed by the publication of an antisemitic cartoon against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by the newspaper’s initial response, Brian Stelter reported. “They want to know what readers want to know: How did this get printed?” Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, wrote.
SCENE IN NEW YORK — Over 100 people gathered outside Timesbuilding in Manhattan on Monday to protest the antisemitic cartoon. Attendees held up signs with slogans that included: “Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic, NYT Guilty”, “NYT guilty of 120 years of hatred,” and a sign with a yellow Star of David captioned: “NYT, should I be wearing this too?”
“It’s personally very painful for me,” professor Alan Dershowitz told the crowd. “I have written many many dozens of articles for The New York Times… I have been in the book review, the art section, the magazine, I have been a strong supporter of The New York Times, but when I saw that cartoon it reminded me of a very dark time in Jewish history and I asked myself: ‘How could it have happened?'” [Video]
On Monday evening, the New York Times announced it had decided to cease its relationship with the syndication service that supplied the cartoon. The decision came after ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt submitted a complaint about a second cartoon appearing to denigrate the faith of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and published over the weekend in the paper’s international edition. “It might not be as blatantly anti-Semitic as the first cartoon, but it was clearly insensitive and absolutely offensive after the first piece of propaganda,” Greenblatt explained to the Daily Beast.
During last night’s NYU panel, Bret Stephens said that writing his op-edin response to the antisemitic cartoon in the paper’s international print edition last week was an easy choice.
“The moment I saw the cartoon, I realized, I’m either going to denounce it or feel ashamed of myself,” he said. “It was an emotional decision, it was easy. But most importantly it was easy because the senior leadership at the Times — the editorial page editor James Bennet, and people, in fact, more senior to him — were horrified by the publication of the cartoon. It took them by surprise. These things happen at newspapers, and even if they didn’t agree with every word that I wrote, they understood that it was essential that the paper of record also provide the most biting criticism of the cartoon.” [JewishInsider]
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer at the National Days of Remembrance ceremony on Capitol Hill Monday morning: “We have also seen one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers become a cesspool of hostility towards Israel that goes well beyond any legitimate criticism of a fellow, imperfect democracy. The same New York Times that a century ago mostly hid from their readers the Holocaust of the Jewish people has today made its pages a safe-space for those who hate the Jewish state. Through biased coverage, slanderous columns and anti-Semitic cartoons, its editors shamefully choose week after week to cast the Jewish state as a force for evil.” [Video]
Trump, The Victim — The president tweeted yesterday: “The New York Times has apologized for the terrible Anti-Semitic Cartoon, but they haven’t apologized to me for this or all of the Fake and Corrupt news they print on a daily basis. They have reached the lowest level of ‘journalism,’ and certainly a low point in NYTimes history!”
David Brooks writes… “An Era Defined by Fear: They say that perfect love casts out fear. And maybe there is at least one presidential candidate who will perform the role Franklin Roosevelt performed 86 years ago — identify fear as its own independent force and confront it with hope and optimism. But I’m coming to think governance might be cure. The simple act of trying to solve practical problems. Enough with charisma. Enough with politicians who treat each election as a matter of metaphysical survival, a clash of existential identities.” [NYTimes]
AT THE UN — Speaking to reporters ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East on Monday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon demanded that the New York Times hold accountable those responsible for publishing an antisemitic cartoon that “could have been taken from the pages of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda paper.” The Times issued an apology on Sunday, but according to Israel’s envoy, “I am not in a position of accepting or not accepting the apology, but if somebody made a mistake, I think somebody should be accountable.”
At the meeting, Danon led a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting. [Video]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called for an “international alliance” against Trump’s Mideast peace plan during a meeting with Sweden’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Annika Söder in Ramallah on Monday, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
ON THE HILL – By JI’s Laura Kelly: The ceremony marking National Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust was held at the Capitol on Monday, with speakers focusing on the strength and survival of the Jewish people despite recent tragedies engendered by antisemitism.
At the event, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said, “Eight decades ago, the American government was largely indifferent to the plight of the Jews. Today, the American government is Israel’s greatest ally, strongly supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and generously providing us with tools we need to do that job. And far more important, eight decades ago, the Jewish people were a stateless and powerless people. Today, we are a powerful, sovereign nation with a voice, a refuge, and most importantly, a shield.”
Other speakers included Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, who chanted El Maleh Rachamim, the prayer for the dead; Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker (a daughter of Holocaust survivors); U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Chairman Howard Lorber, Director Sara Bloomfield and Vice Chairman Allan Holt. [Video; Pic]
On the House and Senate floor, Representatives criticized attacks on the Jewish community as becoming too commonplace and familiar, in speeches Monday afternoon.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), before calling out white-supremacist hatred as a driving force behind the attacks on Jewish-Americans, highlighted the attacks on Christian worshippers in Sri Lanka. “We have seen so many different houses of worship attacked in recent weeks. Just one week ago, on Easter Sunday, hundreds of Christian Sri Lankans were massacred in their churches. And what happened at the synagogue in California is rooted in the same white-supremacist hatred and bile that drove attacks against the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh; mosques in New Zealand; and Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston. And so we must recommit ourselves, today and every day, to fighting anti-Semitism – and all forms of bigotry – in our country and around the world.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) called for action in the face of unchecked hatred on the internet, calling it the modern “village squares” where mobs are intoxicated with fear.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said he is afraid that violence directed toward the Jewish community is “becoming too commonplace and we are, even, becoming comfortable with this type of violence against the Jewish people around our country, and even around the world.”
HEARD ON THE TRAIL — Former Vice President Joe Biden kicked off his campaign at a rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Monday, first paying tribute to the Jewish victims of Sunday’s attack on a synagogue in Poway, California and called the fight against antisemitism a “battle for America’s soul.” “Folks, we saw hate in Charlottesville, we saw it again in Pittsburgh, at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in the attack that was the deadliest in American history on a Jewish community,” he said. “ We’re reminded again, that we are in a battle, we are in a battle for America’s soul — I really believe that — and we have to restore it.”
2020 WATCH — Biden gets 6-point launch bounce… Biden, Bernie Sanders stake out ideological poles of Democratic race… Mayor Pete Buttigieg dinedat Sylvia’s in Harlem with Rev. Al Sharpton on Monday… Some 2020 Democrats work with GOP more than you think… Bill Clinton is worried the huge 2020 Democratic field will make it hard to notice someone with ‘rising potential’… As security officials prepare for Russian attack on 2020 presidential race, Trump and aides play down threat…
KAFE KNESSET BRIEF — The 21st Knesset is meeting today for the start of its first session with a swearing-in ceremony of all 120 members, including 49 new members. The ceremony kicks off at 9 AM EST.MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) is expected to retain his speakership post for the third time. Netanyahu met on Sunday with Edelstein and announced his support. MK Yair Lapid, co-leader of Kachol Lavan, the largest party in the opposition (35 seats), also offered his backing. [Livestream]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork Files for I.P.O., Joining Wave of Cash-Burning Start-Ups in Going Public [NYTimes] • Westfield co-chief executive Peter Lowy will step down from the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield board next month [TheAustralian] • BOL Pharma Grows In A Favorable Climate That Made Israel Leader Of $100B Medical Cannabis Market [Forbes] • Inside the Decades-Long Cage Match Between Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss Twins [VanityFair]
MILKEN SIGHTINGS — Eli Miller walking alongside his new boss Steve Schwarzman as they passed by the Bloomberg TV set in the Hilton lobby… Mark Ain and Jim Messina holding court in the lobby nearby… Steven Cohen asked by security to make his lanyard visible as he entered the conference… Norm Coleman schmoozing with Richard Sandler… Marc Mezvinsky in the Wilshire Gardens… Michael Milken enjoying the late night reception at Soho House… with Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary nearby…
HEARD AT MILKEN — Nola Weinstein, Global Head of Culture, Engagement & Experiential Marketing at Twitter, on a panel discussing how to reach the next generation of consumers recalled working the Barbie aisle of her grandfather’s toy store in Brooklyn as a kid over the winter holiday season.[Pic]
Sweetgreen Founder and CEO Jonathan Neman on the same panel argued against brands paying influencers. [Video]
Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, appearing on Bloomberg Television from Milken, predicted that a dramatic change in tax policy under Democratic lawmakers or a rise in interest rates by the Federal Reserve could be a shock to the economy. “If there’s dramatic change in the tax area, if the Democrats win, that would be a disincentive,” Schwarzman said, adding that some policies that Democratic candidates for president are advocating could slow the economy.
Viacom’s Bob Bakish addressed rumors of a possible merger with CBS during a panel on CEOs navigating the tides of change. Bakish said he has directed his team to “stay focused” and “keep moving the company forward… At the end of the year you’re either going to be talking to me or somebody else. What you don’t want to say is, ‘We were on track but we got distracted and we didn’t deliver.’”
To be a successful leader you have to work hard, and you have to be a real person too,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon explaining why he hasn’t given up DJ’ing. [Pic]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Michael Cohen’s Last Days of Freedom — by Jeffrey Toobin: “On May 6th, Cohen will begin serving a three-year sentence at the federal prison in Otisville, New York, seventy-five miles north of Manhattan, leaving in his wake a grieving family, vanishing wealth, and gloating enemies… Prosecutors in the Southern District have rebuffed Cohen’s attempts to offer evidence against Trump and others, thwarting his hope of reducing his sentence or delaying his surrender date… Cohen is one of only two people to receive a substantial prison sentence in the investigation that arose out of the 2016 election… When we met, Cohen remained outraged that he was prosecuted and Trump was not. ‘You are going to find me guilty of campaign finance, with McDougal or Stormy, and give me three years—really?’ Cohen said. ‘And how come I’m the only one? I didn’t work for the campaign. I worked for him. And how come I’m the one that’s going to prison? I’m not the one that slept with the porn star.'” [NewYorker]
Larry King in hospital, recovering from heart procedure — by Anika Reed: “Larry King is recovering in a hospital after undergoing a heart procedure on Thursday, according to Ora TV, the network behind ‘Larry King Now.’ King, 85, was set to have a scheduled angioplasty Thursday when he began experiencing ‘angina and went to the hospital early to be examined… He has been recuperating in the hospital and is scheduled to be released soon. His doctors expect him to make a full recovery.'” [USAToday]
CAMPUS BEAT — Andrew Hamilton, President of NYU, writes in a letter to the Wall Street Journal… “NYU Is Committed to Its Jewish Community: Had it been up to me, SJP would not have received the award—not because of its politics or NYU’s opposition to its pro-boycott, divestment and sanctions positions, but because SJP’s behavior has been divisive.” [WSJ]
SPORTS BLINK — Roman Abramovich’s fight against anti-Semitism proves Chelsea commitment, says Avram Grant — by Nick Purewal: “Former Chelsea manager Grant will join a host of Chelsea representatives on the annual March Of The Living in Poland on May 2, walking across Nazi death camps to commemorate the Holocaust. The 63-year-old Grant hailed Chelsea owner Abramovich for spearheading the Blues’ Say No to Anti-Semitism campaign, urging other top clubs to follow his lead.” [EveningStandard]
EUROVISION 2019 — Israeli Eurovision hero says there’s no place for boycott: “Netta Barzilai told a group of foreign journalists Monday that the Eurovision was established in the wake of World War II to heal a torn continent by being a ‘festival of light.’ She said: ‘For people to boycott light is spreading darkness.'” [WashPost]
BIRTHDAYS: Psychologist, author of several children’s books and self-help books and a glass blower, president of the Saban Family Foundation, Cheryl Saban turns 68… Actress who has starred in Wonder Woman and the Fast and the Furious film series, Gal Gadot turns 34… Head of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Ma’ale Adumim since 1982, he served as dean of Jews’ College (now known as the London School of Jewish Studies) from 1971 to 1982, Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch turns 91… Rabbi, scholar, professor of Jewish studies at Yeshiva University and adjunct professor at Columbia University Law School, Saul J. Berman turns 80… US Ambassador to Portugal (2010-2013), distinguished professor at UMKC, former City Commissioner of Tallahassee, Allan J. Katzturns 72… Brooklyn-based clinical social worker, Marsha S. Rimler turns 72…
Tunisian-born, Israeli Supreme Court justice since 2014, previously Attorney General of Israel (2004-2010), Menachem “Meni” Mazuz turns 64… Partner in the communications and ad agency GMMB, he served as an advisor to President Obama in both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, James David (Jim) Margolis turns 64… Cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his over one hundred magazine covers appearing on The New Yorker and other publications, Barry Blitt turns 61… Partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, she served as a commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2010-2019) and was a US Supreme Court law clerk, Chai R. Feldblum turns 60… Professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she served as president of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (2013-2014), Eva Illouz turns 58… Founding VP of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and diplomatic columnist for The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom newspapers, David M. Weinberg turns 57…
Democratic member of the New York City Council and chair of the Council’s Jewish Caucus, Mark D. Levine turns 50… Washington, DC-based director for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, David Rittbergturns 39… Chief of staff for US Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan), Eric Feldman turns 39 (h/t Playbook)… Director of communications at The New York Times and an adjunct professor at The George Washington University, Ari Isaacman Bevacqua turns 34… Founder of Lubin Strategies, he is a former director of the Obama White House Office of Digital Strategy, Nathaniel (Nate) Lubin turns 32… Press secretary for Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), she was previously deputy press secretary for Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Rachel S. Cohen turns 32… J.D. candidate at The George Washington University Law School, he was previously a manager of digital strategy at the Podesta Group (2012-2017), Daniel Wolman turns 29… Elementary school teacher at Broward County Public Schools, Jenna Luks turns 26… Policy and communications associate at NYC’s Center for an Urban Future, Rachel B. Wolfe turns 23… Idan Megidish… Noam Aricha…