FIRST LOOK — Jared Kushner is modeling Trump’s defense after Netanyahu, according to Michael Wolff in Siege: Trump Under Fire, set to be released on Tuesday June 4.
Jewish Insider obtained an advance copy of Wolff’s book. The key passages below are Wolff’s; as they’re read, it’s worth noting that his reporting and sourcing has been called into question, often convincingly.
“Kushner’s model, he told friends, was Israeli prime minister and family friend ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu,” Wolff writes. “Whatever charges were leveled against him, Bibi, ever attentive to his base, was able to fend them off because he could always be counted on to win his next election.”
Inside Henry Kissinger and Jared Kushner’s relationship — “Kushner saw Kissinger as a key to his great leap forward. The older man — he was then ninety-four — was flattered by the younger man’s attentions. Kushner was not just deferential and solicitous, he enthusiastically embraced the Kissinger doctrine — the belief that mutual interest ought to form the basis for sagacious moves on the international chess board in the quest for ultimate advantage. Kushner, without illusions about his father-in-law’s lack of interest in foreign policy matters, saw himself, just as Kissinger had once seen himself, as the wiser and more focused adviser to a less sophisticated president.”
“And while others might think Kissinger had become an elderly gas bag — and that he was, as ever, a shameless social climber — Kushner believed that Kissinger could provide him with special advantage in his new Washington world. Kushner dropped his new friend’s name shamelessly: ‘Henry says…’ ‘I was just talking to Henry…’ ‘I’d like to get Henry’s take on that…’ ‘Let’s loop Henry in…’”
“Kushner even floated the suggestion of Kissinger as secretary of state, relaying this idea back to Kissinger. Even as Trump’s foreign policy began to careen in uncharted directions — casual saber rattling, daily tariff threats, slavish embrace of despotic figures — Kissinger, enjoying his heightened prestige, remained tempered and supportive, reassuring his wide circle of concerned foreign policy experts and international businessmen that the drama and the tweets were irrelevant, that an impulsive Trump was contained by a thoughtful Kushner. But in early 2017, Kissinger, lobbied by Kushner to write an encomium about the young man for Time’s annual list of the hundred most influential people, seemed forced to balance his own status-seeking inclinations against Kushner’s lack of foreign policy bona fides.”
Kissinger later turned on Kushner, criticizing Trump’s foreign policy — “A few months before the [Jamal] Khashoggi murder… [Henry] Kissinger had attended a luncheon hosted by a small group of influential New York lawyers. Kissinger brought Rupert Murdoch along. Both men had aided the rise of Jared Kushner and, quite despite their better instincts, both had urged an open mind regarding the Trump administration… But now, at the lunch… a disgusted Kissinger ripped Trump and Kushner in the most fundamental and visceral way. ‘The entire foreign policy is based on a single unstable individual’s reaction to perceptions of slights or flattery. If someone says something nice about him, they are our friend; if they say something unkind, if they don’t kiss the ring, they are our enemy.’”
“After the Khashoggi murder, Kissinger, with renewed contempt, told friends that Kushner, in forging a relationship with MBS, had missed the point about the Saudis.” Read our preview of Wolff’s book here [JewishInsider]
Trump and Bibi’s Bad Week: They’re both at war with those who would investigate them. But are they winning or losing? — Susan Glasser writes from Jerusalem: “Many analysts now view Trump and Netanyahu in the context of the rise of authoritarian-minded right-wing populists across the Western world. Is it a delayed backlash to the great recession of 2008? A revolt by the white working class? There’s still little agreement. Meanwhile, it’s hard to disagree about the effectiveness of many of the techniques employed by Trump, Netanyahu, and the other new populists who seek to weaken individuals and institutions that could serve as constraints on their power.” [NewYorker]
ROAD TO THE KNESSET — The first day of the new Knesset election campaign on Thursday was dominated by two leaders of the right — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman. The former defense minister railed against what he called a “campaign of discreditation,” after Netanyahu branded him a “leftist.” He accused Netanyahu’s supporters of nurturing a “personality cult” and suggested some of Netanyahu’s aides required a “reputable and experienced psychiatrist.”
Netanyahu, in a prime-time televised address, presented himself as an indispensable world statesman, speaking of his special relations with the Trump administration and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Netanyahu branded Lieberman as a “serial saboteur” obsessed with toppling right-wing governments on “a personal whim.”
In his speech, Netanyahu held up a copy of an updated State Department map that shows the Golan Heights as part of Israel that Jared Kushner brought with him on his visit to Israel. “This map had not been updated since the Six Day War,” Netanyahu said. “Well, it has been updated, it just got an update. … That is to say, there are very important developments here.” Holding up the map to the camera, Netanyahu pointed to a note scribbled on the map: “Here is the signature of Trump, and he writes ‘Nice.’ I say, ‘Very nice!’”
The first set of polls published on Thursday showed Netanyahu would be unable to form a majority government without Lieberman.
WHY IT MATTERS — Newsweek’s Marc Schulman: “Even if a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms in September, there will be little time to pass bills to provide him with immunity from prosecution.” [Newsweek]
TRENDING — The fight between Netanyahu and Lieberman is also likely to shift the election narrative to religious-versus-secular issues rather than the right-left security paradigm that has buoyed Netanyahu’s political career.
Former MK Michael Oren called it a “sea-change” in Israeli politics. “Now the major issue is not the threat to Israelis’ lives but the threat to their way of life posed by ultra-Orthodox,” he said on the BBC 4 radio program. Oren added that Lieberman had been able to harness fears among Israelis of religious coercion and of the growing influence of the Haredi parties.
Wall Street Journal editorial board… “Israel’s Election Do-Over: Mr. Netanyahu’s success in turning the country into a regional power and making Israelis more secure has made intra-Jewish divisions more salient. This messy culture war could define Israeli politics in coming years as much as the Palestinian conflict.” [WSJ]
HEARD YESTERDAY IN NYC — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman criticized the Obama administration’s approach to Israel during a speech at Yeshiva University’s 88th Commencement at Madison Square Garden: “Should Israel still negotiate with the Palestinians even though Israel did not steal their land? Of course it should, precisely because we are not suggesting, as our predecessor did — that Israel return to the bargaining table as a thief returning to the scene of a crime. Precisely for that reason, there is a basis for discussion.” [JewishInsider]
Friedman also announced that he will be part of the U.S. delegationto Jared Kushner’s ‘economic workshop’ in Bahrain next month, an event described as the first phase of the Trump peace plan.
The U.S. ambassador declined to comment on whether the Israeli election will now delay the presentation of the peace plan. “I don’t know. I am here right now. I cannot address it here,” Friedman told Jewish Insider in New York on Thursday.
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is seeking to bring an amendment limiting military action against Iran to a vote on the Senate floor. “He’ll be pushing for that, he’s going to try to bring it up to the floor. But it’s ultimately a leadership decision which amendments get a vote,” an aide in Kaine’s office told JI. [JewishInsider]
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) called former Secretary of State John Kerry a “snake” and “bad guy” in reaction to a report that Mr. Kerry met with Palestinian officials and advised them to wait out the end of the Trump administration before engaging in peace negotiations with the Israelis.
“John Kerry really needs to stop being such a snake, undercutting US foreign policy at every turn,” Zeldin tweeted. “He is such a bad guy & was a horrible Secretary of State, picking up his pro-Iran, pro-Palestinian meddling now to a whole new level.”
PODCAST PLAYBACK — Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) discussed the need for a new strategy with Iran, the danger of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, and the ‘terrifying’ antisemitism that is on the rise in an interview with Seffi Kogen on the AJC passport podcast.
Kogen: We’re hearing talk from the administration of war with Iran or some kind of military engagement, we’re also hearing from Democratic primary contenders about wanting to reenter the deal should they be elected in 2020.
Deutch: “Now we made a decision to leave the Iran deal when there was at least a discussion taking place about how to strengthen it and address some of the shortfalls in the deal. The sunset provisions, for example, the access to military sites, the missile piece, so we’re not in those discussions now. But as we go forward, we can’t simply make this a decision about whether to reenter the deal or not reenter the deal, not when things have changed so dramatically. There are some of the presidential candidates, I think who rightly understand, and are laying out a position that says, if there’s going to be a renegotiation with Iran on the deal, it needs to be a strengthened deal. We need to address those shortfalls like we were doing with our allies before we withdrew. Simply saying I’m going to go back to where we are given everything that’s changed since, I don’t think is the right approach and just fails to acknowledge the actions by Iran since then and the necessary discussions that have to take place with our allies going forward.”
Kogen: Our listeners here are advocates. You are someone who is advocated to every day. What message would you have for them to be the best advocates that they could possibly be?
Deutch: “When we’re talking about standing up to the BDS, that means not allowing this to become a partisan, political issue. But it means, as we said before, pointing out the problems with BDS and why it’s not helpful and recognizing that there’s a 3,000 year connection between the Jewish people and the State of Israel… and being clear about what that history is and not allowing the suggestion that Israel was somehow created simply to resettle Jews after the Holocaust. It’s important to just be clear about what the narrative is, what the history is, not backing away from it.” [AJCPassport]
SCENE IN JERUSALEM — Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Thursday. Netanyahu also met with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis [Pic]
TOP TALKER — Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri made an antisemitic comment on Wednesday, just days after meeting with an American-Jewish member of Congress, Eliot Engel. “How do you identify a Jew? Simple: if you see a pregnant woman, throw a gold coin under or near her. If the fetus jumps out of its mom’s womb and takes gold, you’ll immediately know it’s a Jew,” Berri said in an interview with Al Joumhouria, a Lebanese daily newspaper. Engel met with Berri in Beirut on Saturday on an official visit to the region.” [JewishInsider]
TALK OF THE REGION ― Saudi Arabia hosted leaders of other Arab states to discuss security in the Middle East on Thursday. Saudi King Salman called for emergency meetings of both the Arab League and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in Mecca following the attacks on Saudi oil assets earlier this month. “The absence of a firm and dissuasive response to Iran’s acts of sabotage in the region has encouraged it to continue and strengthen them in the way we see today,” the Saudi king charged.
REPORT — A small group of former Obama administration officials reached out to their contacts in the Iranian government, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, over the last two months urging them to keep their cool, the Daily Beast reported on Friday.
2020 WATCH — Nikki Haley begins experiment in political life after Trump — by Eliana Johnson: “[Haley] is emerging as a fundraiser and surrogate for 2020 Republican Senate candidates, and next month will begin zigzagging across the country to campaign for a trio of GOP senators… Though they have not set a firm date, Haley has spoken with senior adviser Jared Kushner and the president himself about joining him on the campaign trail in 2020, according to a source familiar with the discussions.” [Politico]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Shari Redstone’s CBS and Viacom merger negotiations expected to resume [LATimes] • Carl Icahn sues Occidental, calling $38 billion Anadarko deal ‘fundamentally misguided’ [WSJ] • Bloomberg reporter Ivan Levingston talks about the role of ultra-orthodox Jewish men and Arab women in Israel’s labor market [Stephanomics]
MEDIA WATCH — The Atlantic, Anonymous Content Sign First-Look Deal — by Brent Lang: “The Atlantic’s president Bob Cohn said the Atlantic is routinely approached by producers who are interested in turning the magazine’s stories into shows or movies. It is represented by UTA and the talent agency has already been working with the Atlantic’s staff to find articles that could inspire programming or movies. Cohn estimates that roughly a dozen potential projects have been identified. The first-look deal with Anonymous Content will help the company be more proactive, he argued.” [Variety]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Anti-Semitic note left on mural at Jewish Children’s Museum — by Ellen Moynihan and John Annese: “A mural outside the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights meant as a place to record good deeds was marred with a message of hate on Thursday — ‘Hitler is coming.’ … The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit responded and took the note, said Museum Co-Founder Devorah Halberstam… Governor Cuomo directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist the NYPD in the investigation on Thursday evening.” [NYDailyNews]
Witnessing the Holocaust — by Nina Siegal: “‘Teacups’ is one of the disturbing images in an exhibition called ‘Persecution of the Jews in Photographs: The Netherlands, 1940-1945’ that runs through Oct. 6 at the National Holocaust Museum in Amsterdam. The display will then move to the Topographie des Terrors, a documentation center in Berlin, from late October to April 2020. René Kok and Erik Somers, World War II researchers at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, spent eight years assembling some 400 photographs for a book on the subject, and along the way, they decided to present a selection of them in exhibition form. Mr. Somers said in an interview that most of the images of Jewish persecution that had previously been exhibited were taken by those doing the persecuting: Nazi occupiers documented their activities for leaders in Germany, while Nazi sympathizers used photographs of Jewish people to accompany articles in decidedly antisemitic pamphlets.” [NYTimes]
Israel to auction prefab classrooms donated by EU to Palestinians — by Oliver Holmes: “Israel’s defense ministry plans to hold an auction next week to sell two prefabricated classrooms that were donated to Palestinian schoolchildren by the EU. The Civil Administration… tore down and confiscated the classrooms last October. They had been intended for 49 students, in grades one to six, in Ibziq.” [Guardian]
During Ramadan, late-night gyms boom in the Gaza Strip: “During Islam’s holiest month of Ramadan, Techno-Gym transforms into a late-night hot spot for young men struggling to stay in shape. In addition to self-discipline and prayer intended to bring adherents closer to God, the month is famed for its lavish meals and heavy desserts that follow a daylong fast.” [NYPost]
WINE OF THE WEEK — Terra di Seta Special Reserve Chianti Classico 2013 — by Yitz Applbaum: “I generally believe the practice of pairing particular wines with particular foods is often taken to an extreme. I find this exercise can burden a meal, a wine, and overwhelm the participants. However, this past Shabbat I took wine pairing to an extreme. I took one simple food, paired with a specific wine, and spent hours literally, physically, mixing the two together. There is an Italian cookie, often misidentified as biscotti, called a Cantucci. It is made with almonds and eggs formed into an oblong shape. I spent hours dipping this cookie into the Terra di Seta Special Reserve Chianti Classico 2013.”
“The Terra di Seta Special Reserve Chianti Classico 2013 is a complex wine. It is made of one-hundred percent Sangiovese grapes and it is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. Tasting it soaked into Cantucci made deciphering the mid palate far clearer. It is the flavor of peach jam dirtied by a spoon used for orange marmalade. The finish on this wine is spicy, a lot like the taste of the cloves. This wine is ready to drink now and should be given 45 minutes to breathe in a decanter. You can drink this wine alone, but to fully enjoy it one ought to have it with the floating crumbs and soggy debris of the Cantucci cookie floating around.” [TerraDiSeta]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: United States Postmaster General (1988-1992) under Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, he was a bank executive both before and after his federal service, Anthony Melchior Frank turns 88… Investment advisor working at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, Alfred Phillip Stern turns 86… Owner of one of the nation’s largest privately held industrial empires, Ira Leon Rennert turns 85… Food critic at Voguemagazine since 1989 and judge on Iron Chef America, he is the author of the 1996 award-winning book “The Man Who Ate Everything,” Jeffrey Steingarten turns 77… Founder and retired CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council (1985-2009), Alvin “Al” From turns 76… Author, pundit and a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Bernard Richard “Bernie” Goldberg turns 74…
Comedian, actress and TV producer, Susie Essman turns 64… Founder and chairman of the Katz Group of Companies with operations in the pharmacy, sports (including the Edmonton Oilers), entertainment and real estate sectors, Daryl Katz turns 58… Reality television personality, best known for starring in and producing her own matchmaking reality series, The Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo TV, Patti Stanger turns 58… Jerusalem-born inventor, serial entrepreneur and novelist; founder, chairman and CEO of CyberArk Software, Alon Nisim Cohen turns 51… Toronto-born investor and entrepreneur, Andrew Rivkin turns 50… Former Democratic mayor of Annapolis, Maryland (2009-2013) after having served as a member of the Anne Arundel County Council (2006-2009), Joshua Jackson “Josh” Cohen turns 46…
Assistant Director of Community Outreach at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Melissa York turns 43… Attorney and NYT-bestselling author of the Mara Dyer Trilogy, Michelle Hodkin turns 37… Head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Zoox, a robotics start-up based in Silicon Valley, Bert Eli Kaufman turns 37… Director of program management at Zume, Zoe Goldfarb turns 36… Stephanie Oreck Weiss turns 35… Senior managing director at Politico, Brad E. Bosserman turns 34… Community Rabbi at GatherDC, Aaron Potek turns 33… NYC-based politics editor for BuzzFeed News, Matt Berman turns 30… Harvard student in a post baccalaureate premedical program, previously at i24News, ABC and NBC, Amital Isaacturns 30… Brad Goldstein turns 26… Amos N. Guiora… Bari Rogoff…
SATURDAY: Actress, the younger sister of celebrated playwright Arthur Miller, Joan Maxine Miller Copeland turns 97… Born in Calgary, raised in NYC, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, pianist and conductor, Yehudi Wynerturns 90… Holocaust survivor as a child, he served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel (1993-2003) and twice as Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv (1993-1998 and 2005-2017, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau turns 82… NYC-based attorney, author of two books regarding the history and operations of El Al, owner of 40,000 plus pieces of memorabilia related to El Al, Marvin G. Goldmanturns 80… Berkeley, California attorney, Thom Seaton turns 73… Pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay area, Elliot Charles Lepler, MD turns 71… Gail Stone turns 69… Founding editor of The American Interest, he was previously a speechwriter for Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Adam M. Garfinkle turns 68…
Former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, Matthew Winkler turns 64… Former IDF officer and now a London based political scientist and writer, Ahron “Ronnie” Bregman turns 61… Majority owner of MLB’s Oakland Athletics, his parents were the co-founders of Gap, Inc., he is the chair of Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Foundation, John J. Fisher turns 58… Founding editor and publisher of the Dayton Jewish Observer, Marshall J. Weiss turns 52… Senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast, Spencer J. Ackerman turns 39… Comedian, writer, actress and producer, Amy Schumer turns 38… Executive Director of MoveOn[dot]org Political Action since 2013, Ilya Sheyman turns 33… Deployment strategist at Palantir Technologies, Naomi S. Kadish turns 24… Isabel Keller turns 22… Sarah Shallmen…
SUNDAY: Executive director of the American Jewish Committee since 1990, David Harris turns 70… Former member of the British Parliament from Manchester (1983-1997) and then a member of European Parliament from Northwest England (1999-2009), David Anthony Gerald Sumberg turns 78… Co-founder of ReelAbilities, a film festival by, or about, people with disabilities, Anita Altman turns 74… Israeli entrepreneur and inventor, founder of Indigo Digital Press (1977) and The Landa Group (2003), known as the father of commercial digital printing, Benny Landa turns 73… Johns Hopkins University professor and a pioneer in the field of cancer genomics, Dr. Bert Vogelstein turns 70…
Writer-at-large for New York magazine since 2011, following a 31-year career at the New York Times (1980-2011), he was also an executive producer for HBO’s recently concluded “Veep,” Frank Rich turns 70… Chief development officer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jordan E. Tannenbaum turns 69… National Hockey League Commissioner since 1993, Gary Bettman turns 67… Carla Beth Sanchez turns 67… Founder of Newark-based IDT Corp and numerous affiliates and spinoffs including an energy exploration company, Genie Energy, Howard S. Jonas turns 63… Aerospace engineer and a former NASA astronaut, he flew on three shuttle missions, Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour and took along a memento from the U.S. Holocaust Museum into space, Mark L. Polansky turns 63…
Dinorah Cecilia Baroody turns 61… General manager of NYC’s Harmonie Club, Davina Weinstein turns 53… Special counsel focused on land use and zoning at NYC-based law firm Goldstein Hall, Jessica Ashenberg Loeserturns 42… Chief development officer for the Obama Foundation, Jordan David Kaplan turns 41… Director of technology at Santa Monica-based Action Network, Jason S. Rosenbaum turns 35… Co-founder and CEO of The Wing, Audrey H. Gelman turns 32… Head of growth and product marketing at Neura, Inc., Jared R. Fleitman turns 27… Development officer at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Benjamin Sheridan turns 27…