Gillibrand’s priority as POTUS? Engage Iran | Nikki Haley talks 2024 with Miriam Adelson | Paul Singer & David Rubenstein’s Aspen panel
Ed note: In honor of July 4th, and in effort to give the extremely hard-working JI team a small breather, we will not be distributing the Daily Kickoff next week. Happy Independence Day!
DEM DEBATE — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said during the second night of the Democratic primary debates in Miami, Florida, that her top priority in restoring U.S. relations damaged under President Donald Trump would be engaging with Iran.
Moderator Chuck Todd asked the candidates: You’re likely going to have to reset a relationship between America and another country or entity if you become president… What is the first relationship you would like to reset as president?
Gillibrand: “President Trump is hell-bent on starting a war with Iran. My first act will be to engage Iran to stabilize the Middle East and make sure we do not start an unwanted, never-ending war.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at the conclusion of a discussion on foreign policy: “Let me be very clear. I will do everything I can to prevent a war with Iran, which would be far worse than [the] disastrous war with Iraq.”
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) said that the situation on the southern border echoed his mother’s experience in the Holocaust: “When I see those kids at the border, I see my mom, because I know she sees herself,” Bennet said. “Because she was separated from her parents for years during the Holocaust in Poland. And for Donald Trump to be doing what he’s doing to children and their families at the borders… The president has turned the border of the United States into a symbol of nativist hostility that the whole world is looking at.”
SNAP ANALYSIS — Biden the main target at the Democratic debate — by JI’s Ben Jacobs: It was not Joe Biden’s finest night. The former vice president was left stumbling when Kamala Harris attacked him for his opposition to busing children to schools to boost desegregation efforts in the 1970s. He couldn’t fully rebut the attacks and voluntarily cut short his remarks, saying: “my time’s up, sorry.” His exchange with Kamala Harris will loom over both nights of the debate. It provided the type of viral moment that will be constantly replayed on cable news and that will live on in political history.
It doesn’t doom Biden’s campaign by any means. It’s still June and, by any measure, he is the frontrunner. However, he left blood in the water.[JewishInsider]
‘My Time Is Up. I’m Sorry’ — by David Graham: “The potential double entendre, applying to both his answer on the debate stage and his command of the Democratic race, was not lost on anyone who heard it. Whether it will become fact remains to be seen. Biden’s political death has been foretold many times.” [TheAtlantic]
Bullock won’t seek to re-enter Iran deal ‘word for word’ — by JI’s Ben Jacobs: Montana Governor Steve Bullock said he would not necessarily seek to re-enter the 2015 Iran deal “word for word” if elected, in a televised town hall in New Hampshire on Thursday. “I’d be happy to make some changes” to the nuclear accord, he said.
The Montana governor joins New Jersey Senator Cory Booker as the second Democratic presidential candidate to express willingness to renegotiate the deal in the past day. [JewishInsider]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it is “wrong” and a “mistake” for the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to pledge that they would rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal if elected.
“I think that any objective look at the consequences of doing that would come to the conclusion that it would actually hurt the interests of the United States and the region and so on,” Netanyahu said in conversation with Israel Hayomeditor-in-chief Boaz Bismuth at the Israel Hayom conference Thursday evening, held at the Davidson Center in Jerusalem’s Old City. “To go back to the JCPOA means letting Iran get nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu added: “President Trump has said he will not let Iran get nuclear weapons. I, as the prime minister of Israel, tell you: I will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. It’s a mistake to go back to the JCPOA.” [JewishInsider]
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Mideast Peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also addressed the gathering.
HIGHLIGHTS — Haley told Dr. Miriam Adelson during the summit that “2024 is a long way away.” Asked about her future political ambitions, Haley said: “I can say with great clarity that I know I’m too young to stop fighting. But I’m also very much enjoying private life.” She also praised the White House Mideast peace efforts as “courageous,” and said the plan is “well thought out, detailed, doable.”
Greenblatt, addressing the forum, said that peace might be attainable “if people stop pretending settlements — or what I prefer to call neighborhoods and cities — are the reason for the lack of peace.” He also said that there are “no guaranteed results. Success can only be achieved, if at all, with direct negotiations between the parties, not by bypassing negotiations, not by more UN resolutions, not by international conferences.”
Friedman told the crowd that President Barack Obama left Israel “a parting gift of betrayal.” The U.S. ambassador also had some harsh words for today’s media, saying, “news anchors have no misgivings about sharing their views with the audience, perhaps shading their reporting to fit their ideological leanings.”
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Sylvan Adams, an Israeli-Canadian businessman, shared his first-hand experience at the Bahrain summit: “Much of the real action throughout was on the sidelines, as business people from different backgrounds engaged enthusiastically with one another. There was absolutely no hostility towards Israel; quite the contrary, as Arab officials were looking for Israelis to bring their ingenuity, and invest in their countries… I left with a feeling of cautious optimism. Now, we need to see if pressure from their people and neighboring Arab countries, who currently subsidize their existence, can force the Palestinian leadership to re-consider its intransigence in the hope for a better future.” [JewishNews]
On Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh toldReuters that he felt the Kushner initiative “will not really materialize and it’s not going to go anywhere. Bahrain was just simply a terrible exercise. I think it’s an economic workshop that has been fully and totally divorced from reality.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu pounced on the PA’s rejection of the Trump plan at the Israel Hayom conference: “I do not understand how it can be that the Palestinians, who need to look out for their people, receive proposals for massive investments worth tens of billions of dollars, and say: ‘We are not interested.’ This tells you that the ideology is much stronger and does not allow them even to help their own people. Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt were in Jerusalem and showed me the details of the plan. This plan is very strong. It has a deep idea, which is fundamentally important and genuine, and that is to replace welfare with investments.”
RBG awards grant to bilingual Israeli school network promoting Jewish-Arab coexistence — by Dina Kraft: “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has decided to grant $9,000 to a network of bilingual Hebrew and Arabic schools in Israel… The grant to schools operated by Hand in Hand, which has created a new model for Jewish and Arab children to study and grow up together, comes from prize money she was awarded in winning the 2019 Gilel Storch Award from a Stockholm-based organization called Jewish Culture in Sweden.” [Haaretz]
IRAN WATCH — Iranian officials said Friday that a meeting in Vienna on the 2015 deal is the “last chance” to save the accord after the U.S. withdrawal last year. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who is in Vienna, said Iran had run out of “strategic patience,” and that it will “not tolerate remaining unilaterally committed to the nuclear deal.”
Meanwhile, diplomats in Vienna and those attending the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, said Iran is just days away from exceeding the maximum amount of enriched uranium allowed by the deal, in retaliation for crippling U.S. economic sanctions imposed in the past year.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday he would try to convince President Trump to suspend some sanctions on Iran to allow for negotiations to help defuse the crisis. But in Osaka on Friday, Trump said there is “absolutely no time pressure” on the issue.
REPORT — Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed in closed-door testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May that he was constantly blindsided by Jared Kushner on key diplomatic matters. A redacted transcript of Tillerson’s charged testimony was published by the Washington Post on Thursday.
Tillerson recalled finding out that Kushner had met with Arab leaders to discuss the Saudi-Qatar dispute in May 2017 without being notified or given prior notice. “I was surprised,” Tillerson told the committee. He also confirmed that Kushner and then-White House senior advisor Steve Bannon had dinner with the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to learn about their plans to impose a blockade on Qatar.
According to Tillerson, Kushner wouldn’t even coordinate with the local U.S. embassies when he was travelling abroad, an issue he raised with the president’s son-in-law. Kushner promised to “do better,” but “not much changed,” Tillerson said.
The former top diplomat also revealed that prior to his Senate confirmation he was briefed by Elliott Abrams, a former Bush administration official, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We got Elliott Abrams on the phone to talk to me about Israel and the Palestinian situation and the history of how things had evolved within the Palestinian areas, and it was quite interesting,” Tillerson said.
HEARD ON CABLE — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) doubled down on her “concentration camps” comments in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s The Lead.
Tapper: What do you say to Americans — especially survivors of the Holocaust or individuals who are related to survivors of the Holocaust, who say, ‘Look, academically you’re right the term concentration camp did not necessarily mean death camp. But colloquially when most people hear it they think death camp, they think Holocaust and you’re undermining your argument, and you’re hurting us — hurting our feelings, hurting our emotions, hurting our memories.’ What do you say to those Holocaust survivors?
Ocasio-Cortez: “I have many in my district and our Jewish community has rallied around this issue, because when we talk about concentration camps, if we do not also talk about Japanese internment, if we don’t talk about the Boer War, if we don’t talk about the many times that this has happened in the history of humanity, then we also erase the suffering of those people.”
“In fact, this is an opportunity for us to talk about how we learn from our history in order to prevent it from ever happening in any form, at any step. Whether it’s a concentration camp, or whether it is the final steps of that phase — from happening and even at the earliest steps we have to make sure that dehumanizing and that ‘Never Again’ means never again for anyone.” [Video]
ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Nitzan Horowitz, a former Meretz MK, was voted in as the party’s leader in a closed primary of delegates Thursday night. Horowitz ousted Tamar Zandberg after just a year in the position, becoming the first openly gay party leader in Israel’s history.
Horowitz served two terms as a Meretz MK before launching an unsuccessful bid for Tel Aviv mayor, and spending several years working as a reporter for Channel 12 News. Horowitz’s win makes it likely that Meretz will attempt to unite with other left-wing parties before the September election. Meretz will hold another closed primary for its electoral slate in July. Labor is set to pick a new leader on July 2.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Moody’s, Israel’s Team8 to create cyber risk standard for businesses [Reuters] • Paul Singer sees significant market downturn ahead [Bloomberg] • Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Digital Group buys Nylon, plans to relaunch print edition of fashion and culture mag [Variety] • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb joins Pfizer’s board of directors [CNBC] • Israel issues first 50-year bonds for 500 million euros [Reuters]
HEARD AT ASPEN — Republican consultant Karl Rove entertained the crowd with an impression of Henry Kissinger, of whom he said, “the guy loves political gossip, the more salacious, the better.” [AspenIdeas]
Rove, who served as senior advisor to President George W. Bush, gave JI an appraisal of current senior advisor Jared Kushner: “We never really know how advisors work out because their success or failures reflect in the administration. He’s clearly been given major responsibilities on immigration, Mideast peace, innovation, and criminal justice reform — which was a big success. Again, it’s evidence of his ability to get the president, his principal involved in it. I don’t know whether that depended on the fact that he’s his son-in-law, or not, but it was a big success for the president.”
On a panel titled, ‘The Prosperity Mirage,’ investors David Rubenstein and Paul Singer shared their views on whether the economy is as good as it looks. Rubenstein joked to the panel’s moderator, Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker, that “as I’ve said, if you’re Jewish you always expect the worst” before proceeding to give a positive take on the state of the economy.
Rubenstein and Singer discussed the current trends in political approaches to the economy. Singer noted that there “has been a tremendous increase in inequality… and the growing inequality is part of the equation of this trend toward populism — the drift in politics in America — and Europe in particular — towards the extremes, away from the center. And I think that looks like, and to a large extent is, class warfare.”
Rubenstein said he believes “the center of the Democratic Party has drifted left.” Singer agreed with his assessment, adding that, by contrast, “the center of gravity of the Republican party and the conservative movement hasn’t really changed very much.” Watch the full panel discussion [Video]
RISING STAR — A next-generation Rubenstein seeks investments in healthy food — by Heather Perlberg: “Gabrielle ‘Ellie’ Rubenstein is getting into the family business. The 31-year-old daughter of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein formed Manna Tree Partners last year to invest in companies focused on healthy food… The 2010 Harvard University graduate… saw the opportunity to create Manna Tree while making food investments at Declaration Capital, which manages her family’s fortune… For now, Manna Tree is relatively small, operating with a team of nine, including six women. Ellie Rubenstein says the next generation of asset managers will focus on helping companies grow without taking complete control.” [Bloomberg]
INTERVIEW — Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff says he’s confused by some of the criticism of his $900 million plan to remake Toronto’s waterfront — by Aria Bendix: “It’s been almost two years since Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs announced its plan to build a high-tech neighborhood in Toronto… Doctoroff said 21,000 people have visited the site in the last year, the majority of them enthusiastic… But members of the Block Sidewalk campaign have expressed concern that, as an affiliate of a large tech company, Sidewalk Labs will be more accountable to shareholders than residents. ‘If somebody is always going to be opposed to a tech company playing a role in their city, then it’s going to be hard to convince them, but I also hope people will begin to understand Sidewalk Labs for what it is,’ Doctoroff said. ‘What we are is a place-making company.’” [BusinessInsider]
Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig: ‘Rock music is dead, so it’s more joyful to me’ — by Ben Beaumont-Thomas: “Father of the Bride, [the most recent studio album by Vampire Weekend], closes with the elegant ballad ‘Jerusalem, New York, Berlin.’ It references the Balfour declaration of 1917, which saw Britain set out Palestine as a home for the Jewish people. ‘I know I loved you then, I think I love you still / But this prophecy of ours has come back dressed to kill,’ [Ezra] Koenig sings, setting his Jewish cultural pride against the infernal perpetual motion of the Israel-Palestine conflict… ‘I don’t know what it’s like to go serve in the military when I’m 18, or to have had family members who were murdered when a bus blew up in Tel Aviv,’ [Koenig says]. ‘But I do know what it’s like to be a Jewish person who grows up in New Jersey. So when I see a Jewish person who grew up in New Jersey talking about what the military needs to do and how evil the Palestinians are, I can easily put myself in their shoes and say: shut up.’” [TheGuardian]
COMING SOON — Yada Yada Yada: ‘Seinfeld Experience’ to come to New York City — by Charles Passy: “Called the ‘Seinfeld Experience,’ the exhibit, scheduled to open in the fall, is a collaborative venture between Warner Bros. Consumer Products, which is part of the Warner Bros. entertainment conglomerate, and Superfly, a company known for producing music festivals… In a statement released Thursday, comedian Jerry Seinfeld made light of the exhibit, saying, ‘Because I am Seinfeld, for a long time, I was the only person to actually have the Seinfeld experience.’” [WSJ]
SPORTS BLINK — Julian Edelman gets his own Showtime documentary — by Curt Schleier: “Showtime is airing a documentary on New England Patriots star Julian Edelman… For much of the time he is interviewed on screen in the documentary, he wears a visible Star of David necklace, and the narrator refers to him at one point as a ‘short Jewish guy.’ But the film doesn’t get into Edelman’s Jewish identity.” [JTA]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Former N.J. sheriff — revealed as racist on tape — laid off cop because he’s Jewish, lawsuit claims — by Anthony Attrino: “When Michael Saudino was elected Bergen County sheriff in 2010, a police officer working for him offered to introduce him to various Jewish organizations, according to a lawsuit filed Monday. ‘I don’t need any votes from them,’ Saudino allegedly snapped before walking away… The officer, Gary Bendit, 44, claims in court papers Saudino laid him off in 2017 because he’s Jewish… [Saudino] didn’t know Bendit was Jewish, he told NorthJersey[dot]com on Wednesday.” [NorthJersey]
Picasso sold by German Jewish businessman to fund escape from Nazis to stay at New York’s Met — by Amy Woodyatt: “A Pablo Picasso painting sold by a German Jewish businessman to fund his escape from Nazis should stay in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, an appeals court has ruled… The painting had belonged to Paul and Alice Leffmann, who sold the artwork to a private dealer in 1938 to raise funds to flee fascist Italy for Switzerland… Laurel Zuckerman, the Leffmann’s great-grandniece, argued that her ancestors sold the ‘masterwork’ for $12,000 under duress, therefore voiding the transaction… Chief Judge Katzmann… wrote that there was an ‘unreasonable’ delay in the demand for the return of the artwork.” [CNN]
NORTHERN NEIGHBORS — Religious suppression north of the border — by Avi Schick: “One of New York state’s great civic leaders once began a meeting by observing that I wore a yarmulke at work. I’d just been nominated as president of New York’s economic development agency. I told him that headgear hadn’t seemed to hinder Cardinal Edward Egan’s effectiveness. We got down to business and got along fine. This incident came to mind last week when the National Assembly of Quebec passed a law barring public employees from wearing religious clothing or symbols at work.” [WSJ]
ACROSS THE POND — Labour antisemitism row: MPs attack decision on Chris Williamson: “More than 100 Labour MPs and peers have criticised the decision to readmit MP Chris Williamson into the party. They expressed ‘hurt and anger’ at the ruling and said Jeremy Corbyn must withdraw the party whip. The Derby North MP was suspended after saying Labour had ‘given too much ground’ in the face of criticism over anti-Semitism in the party. Eleven frontbenchers, including deputy leader Tom Watson, are among those criticising the ruling.” [BBC; AP] • Jeremy Corbyn says he ‘was not involved’ in Williamson decision [JewishNews]
DESSERT — Logan Street Market preview: Cold Smoke Bagels to ‘revitalize’ Jewish cuisine — by Kevin Gibson: “After running a restaurant for better than a decade in New York, Louisville native Alexander ‘Sasha’ Chack saw an opportunity in his hometown (in Louisville, Kentucky) — specifically at Logan Street Market, where his new store Cold Smoke Bagels will operate… ‘There’s a new fad of being creative’ with Jewish food, Chack, 34, points out. ‘Hipsters in New York will take the train to Brooklyn just to buy herring and smoked fish.’” [InsiderLouisville]
REMEMBERING — Jennie Ilene Litvack, the wife of Washington Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff, passed away at age 55.
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Owner of NYC’s United Equities Companies and Chairman of Berkshire Bank, Moses M. Marx turns 84… Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, Brian L. Roberts turns 60… Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award-winning actor, movie director, composer and comedian, Mel Brooks (born Melvin James Kaminsky) turns 93… Laguna Woods, California resident, she is a retired hospital administrator, Saretta Platt Berlin turns 89… Former United States Senator from Michigan (1979-2015), now on the faculty at Wayne State University Law School, Carl Levin turns 85… Former member of Congress for 16 years and now CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Jane Harman turns 74…
Political consultant, community organizer and author, he is married to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Robert Creamer turns 72… Novelist, journalist, conservative commentator and senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, Mark Helprin turns 72… Author of crime fiction for both adults and children, Peter Abrahams turns 72… Documentary producer and director and television editor for broadcast and cable production companies, James Ruxin turns 71… West Orange, NJ resident, Saralee Rosen turns 71… Member of the California State Senate (2012-2016), following two terms in the State Assembly (2008-2012), he was previously an administrator and professor at San Diego State University, Martin Jeffrey “Marty” Block turns 69…
Partner at Chicago-based CPA and consulting firm of Morrison & Morrison since 1981, Mark Zivin turns 68… Founding partner of NYC law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, Marc Kasowitz turns 67… Haaretz‘s Amira Hass turns 63… Rabbi of the Har Bracha community, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed turns 58… Principal of GPS Investment Partners, chairman of Chiron Investment Management, former president of Apollo Global Management, Marc Spilkerturns 55… Actress and singer, Jessica Hecht turns 54… Former member of Knesset (2013-2019) as a member of the Labor Party / Zionist Union, Michal Biran turns 41… Toltzy Kornbluh turns 38… J.D. candidate at Georgetown University Law Center, she was previously the social secretary to the Ambassador of Israel in Washington, Molly Rosen turns 27… Mark Winkler…
SATURDAY: Chairman of Carnival Corporation and owner of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Micky Arison turns 70… Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Soloveitchik turns 70… CEO of Aliya Marketing Group, a fundraising consulting group for not-for-profits, Joshua Karlin turns 60… Attorney General of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit turns 56… Screenwriter, director and producer, he has won nine Emmy Awards for his work on AMC’s “Mad Men” and HBO’s “The Sopranos,” Matthew Hoffman Weiner turns 54… Senior Rabbi of Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Congregation since February 2019, he was previously the CEO of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Steven C. Wernick turns 52…
Los Angeles-born political consultant in Israel and former Chief of Staff to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ari Harow turns 46… British Labour party member of Parliament, first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2017, she has been outspoken against the rise of antisemitism in her own party, Ruth Smeethturns 40… President and dean of Phoenix-based Valley Beit Midrash, he is also the founder and president of Uri L’Tzedek, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz turns 38… Campaign finance consultant, David Wolf… Steven Kohn… Sara Sansone… Fred Gruber...
SUNDAY: Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry and professor emeritus at Stanford University, Paul Berg turns 93… Rapid City, South Dakota resident, Leedel Chittim Williamson turns 75… Palm Beach Gardens, Florida resident, podiatrist, Dr. David Peter Bartos turns 74… Executive coach to nonprofit leaders, he was the founding director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage (1986-1999) and former chair in the Judaic Studies Program at GWU, David Altshuler turns 70… Former New York State Assemblyman (1983-2018), his district included Borough Park, Dov Hikind turns 69…
Former Harvard professor and author of books on the Holocaust and antisemitism, Daniel Goldhagen turns 60… Senior editor at The Atlantic, author of nine books and former Bush 43 speechwriter, David Frum turns 59… Reggae and alternative rock musician, Matisyahu (born Matthew Paul Miller) turns 40… Chief of staff for U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), he is a former chief of staff for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and then senior director at Purple Strategies, Kyle Justin Plotkin turns 37… Senior software engineer at Bloomberg LP, Noam Lustiger turns 36… Deputy director at Israel Action Network, Stephanie Hausner turns 35… Michal Adar…