Kushner’s big interview | 2020 Dems address AJC | Inside Fauda Season 3
THE RUNDOWN: The Jewish conference circuit is in Washington, D.C. this week with the ADL and AJC hosting their annual conferences. Democratic presidential candidates and international parliamentarians are addressing AJC delegates while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer attend the ADL’s gathering. We’re covering both events so follow along for updates.
Over the weekend, California Dems rejected anti-Israel resolutions at their convention. On Sunday, The New York Times ran an important piece on the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also known as MBZ. Last night, Axioson HBO aired an interview with Jared Kushner. And the Washington Post reported on Sec. Pompeo’s off-the-record meeting last week with the Conference of Presidents — Pompeo isn’t too optimistic about the peace plan. More below:
HEARD ON AXIOS ON HBO — White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner discussed the Middle East peace plan and the U.S. relationship with Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) in an interview with Axios political reporter Jonathan Swan.
HIGHLIGHTS — Kushner, asked if he understood why the Palestinians would not trust him when presenting the peace plan: “I do believe they want to have a better life, and I do believe they are not going to judge anything based on trusting me or trusting anyone else. They’re going to judge it based on the facts and then make a determination. Do they think this will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not?” [Video]
Kushner questioned whether the Palestinians can govern themselves: “The hope is that they over time will become capable of governing… There are some things the current Palestinian government has done well, and there are some things that are lacking. And I do think that in order for the area to be investable, for investors to want to come in and invest in different industry and infrastructure and create jobs, you do need to have a fair judicial system, you need to have freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions.”
Kushner avoided saying explicitly whether the plan would include a two-state solution: “I do think they should have self-determination. I’m going to leave the details until we come out with the actual plan.”
REPORT — Pompeo admits to Jewish leaders that Trump’s peace plan may be rejected: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted last week in a closed-door, off-the-record meeting with leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that “one might argue” that the peace plan is “unexecutable” and that it might not “gain traction,” according to the Washington Post. “It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, ‘It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me,’ that is, ‘It’s got two good things and nine bad things, I’m out.’”
According to the report, Pompeo also told attendees that the State Department had given “quite a bit of consideration” to what it would do if the plan “doesn’t gain traction.”
President Trump appeared to agree with the secretary of state over his son-in-law when asked about Pompeo’s reported skepticism about the peace plan. “He may be right,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn before departing for a trip to Europe. “If we can get a Mideast peace plan that would be good. And when Mike says that, I understand when he says that, because most people think it can’t be done. I think it probably can. But as I say often, we’ll see what happens.”
Trump also expressed his displeasure with the continual delay of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan because of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political problems. “Israel is all messed up with their election. I mean that came out of the blue three days ago, so that’s all messed up. They ought to get their act together,” Trump said. “I mean, Bibi got elected, and now all of a sudden they’re going to have to go through the process again until September? That’s ridiculous. So we’re not happy about that.” [JewishInsider]
SECOND OPINION — Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) found the silver lining in Israel’s political crisis following his visit to the region last week.
“I just got back from Israel. I watched a vibrant fight for prime minister — it was in the process of all of that — and every single person covering it asked me what I thought about the standstill,” Engel told the crowd at the Met Council legislative breakfast in New York City on Sunday. “What I took from it is that Israel is a vibrant democracy. And those of us who love Israel, should be proud of it and support it, just like the U.S.”
Engel shared more about his trip in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh: “When I first signed up to go there, I had no idea that there would be an election, so it was exciting to be there. I met with my friends at the Knesset to share part of Israeli democracy with them. Look, it’s tough. We all run for re-election. But, you know, there’s no permanent stay in a democracy. We have to try and convince the voters each time. I know Netanyahu is doing it, I know his opponents are doing it, and the people of Israel are doing it.” [JewishInsider]
DEEP DIVE — The Most Powerful Arab Ruler Isn’t M.B.S. It’s M.B.Z. — by David Kirkpatrick: “Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has often told American officials that he saw Israel as an ally against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel trusted him enough to sell him upgrades for his F-16s, as well as advanced mobile phone spyware. To many in Washington, Prince Mohammed had become America’s best friend in the region, a dutiful partner who could be counted on for tasks from countering Iranian influence in Lebanon to funding construction in Iraq.” [NYTimes]
HEARD YESTERDAY AT AJC — Democratic primary comes to American Jewish Committee — by Laura Kelly: All ‘viable’ 2020 presidential candidates, including President Donald Trump, were invited to send greetings by video to attendees of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) global conference, in Washington D.C. Twelve Democratic candidates accepted the AJC’s invite. Former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) led the forum on Sunday afternoon.
Biden, during his four and a half minute address, spoke of the clashes in Charlottesville, touted the Obama administration’s record on Israel, and also called on the U.S. to “help the Palestinians return to the peace table.”
Senator Booker, in his 45-second message, quoted the Jewish scholar Hillel, “We know what Hillel said, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? I am only for myself, than what am I? If not now, then when?’” Booker concluded his remarks with a Hebrew valediction “Yasher Koach,” translated as ‘may your strength be firm’ as he congratulated the organization on its mission.
Buttigieg spoke of his trip to Israel and the West Bank with AJC and expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “One of the concerns we shared with our Israeli hosts when we were visiting is the extent to which support for Israel has become a partisan issue in the United States,” he said. “I think that’s a trend we need to work hard to end. We need to make sure that we are steadfast in our support for Israel and for the US-Israel alliance, while also taking into advance a policy direction that’s going to lead to peace and security for Israeli and Palestinian people. I’m committed to doing that as president.”[JewishInsider]
LIST OF THE TWELVE 2020 DEMS: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, John Delaney and Jay Inslee.
WORTH NOTING: Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar appear to have declined the AJC’s invitation. We’ll report back if any of them change their mind over the next 30 hours…
AJC POLL — A new poll of 1,006 American Jews over the age of 18, conducted by research firm SSRS on behalf of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) showed that 50 percent of Jewish Americans support the recent U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, while 39 percent oppose the move. On the president’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, a majority — 54 percent — disapprove of his conduct, including 45 percent who strongly disapprove. Only 36 percent approve.
Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, 49 percent of respondents said they identify with the Democratic Party, while 18 percent are aligned with the Republican Party. Approximately 20 percent of U.S. Jews consider themselves as independents.[JewishInsider]
WATCH — NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, now a Democratic presidential candidate, marched at the Celebrate Israel parade in Manhattan on Sunday. “We say yes to Israel, we say no to BDS,” the mayor told the crowd. [Video; Video]
IRAN SANCTIONS — “The Trump administration delayed new sanctions” on Iran’s petrochemical sector in an attempt “to dial back tensions that have threatened to spiral out of control” with Tehran, the Wall Street Journalreported on Friday. The Treasury Department had planned to implement new sanctions in mid-May that for the first time detailed which Iranian petrochemical entities are off limits to foreign companies, and could still move forward with them.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on Friday that Iran has stayed within the main restrictions of the 2015 nuclear deal.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after a meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis that the Trump administration is ready for talks with “with no preconditions… We’re ready to sit down with them, but the American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this Islamic Republic, this revolutionary force, is going to continue.”
Iran also appeared to soften its stance on possible talks with the U.S. over its nuclear program. On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggestedthat he may be willing to engage if the U.S. showed respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into negotiations. But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told ABC’s This Week’ on Sunday: “It’s not very likely because talking is the continuation of the process of pressure. He is imposing pressure. This may work in a real estate market. It does not work in dealing with Iran.”
ON THE GROUND — Israeli jets allegedly targeted the T-4 airbase in northern Syria late Sunday night, a day after Israel admitted that it struckSyrian targets on Saturday in retaliation for rocket fire toward the Golan Heights.
The Trump administration has reportedly made it clear to the Kremlin that the U.S. fully supports Israeli airstrikes in Syria as long as pro-Iranian forces are still operating in the country. A senior U.S. official told Ch. 13’s Barak Ravid that the State Department and White House officials have conveyed the message to the Russians several times in the last few months.
Bloomberg reported on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected an Iranian request to buy S-400 missile defense systems, concerned that it would stoke more tension in the Middle East.
Rejuvenated Hamas Tests Israel in High-Stakes Brinkmanship — by Felicia Schwartz: “Hamas leaders have indicated they don’t want to fight a fourth war with Israel, but they have used the prospect of conflict as a blunt tool to extract Israeli concessions, Hamas and Israeli officials say.” [WSJ]
TALK OF THE REGION — On Saturday, Saudi King Salman told leadersof the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries gathered at a summit in Mecca: “The Palestinian cause is the cornerstone of the works of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and is the focus of our attention until the brotherly Palestinian people get all their legitimate rights. We reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of any measures that would prejudice the historical and legal status of Quds (Jerusalem).”
COMING SOON — The annual July 4th reception, hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, will be held for the first time this year in Jerusalem. The reception, which was held until last year in the backyard of the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya, will be held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on July 2, according to the Jerusalem Post.
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — David Horovitz writes… “Netanyahu’s election gambit keeps him alive, but the crown is slipping: [Netanyahu’s] midnight maneuver, forcing new elections, was his only way out. It keeps him in office at least until September (and ensures he will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister on July 16). It keeps open the possibility that he could win again, and… just possibly force through the legislation in the first few weeks of a new government to save him from a likely criminal trial. Netanyahu, in short, is still in the fight. But the crown is slipping.” [ToI]
Chemi Shalev writes… “Alter Egos Trump and Netanyahu, Partners in Slime, Set to Help Each Other: Netanyahu is reportedly planning to invite Trump to visit Israel, ostensibly to participate in a ceremony marking the promised renaming of a Golan village in honor of the president who recognized Israeli sovereignty over the area. In practice, Trump will be on the stump for Netanyahu wherever and whenever he can. And if Netanyahu wins on September 17, expect him to return the favor, big time.” [Haaretz]
Anshel Pfeffer writes in The Atlantic: “There are Israeli parties that in the past campaigned on curbing the power of the ultra-Orthodox, but these usually came from the political left or center… Lieberman, who is now emerging as the first serious rival to Netanyahu on the right in a decade, is gambling that there are enough right-wingers fed up with the alliance with the religious parties who will redraw the map of Israeli politics, making him the new kingmaker with the power to unseat Netanyahu.” [TheAtlantic]
Dov Zakheim writes… “Netanyahu, Trump’s peace plan victims of failure to form Israel government: Avigdor Lieberman may have done Israel a service. Whatever his motives… he has sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a message that he is not invincible. In addition, he has, perhaps unwittingly, sent the Trump administration a message that its Middle East peace plan… may never come off. Both are important, indeed critical, messages.” [TheHill]
2020 BRIEFS — Bernie Sanders’s first ‘grass-roots fundraiser’ of the 2020 campaign was held at a nightclub in San Francisco… Democrats expandprimary map, spurred by social media… Pete Buttigieg’s campaign strategy aims to replicate McCain’s 2000 race, says campaign staff… Inside Elizabeth Warren’s battle plan to win Iowa — and the nomination… A protester grabbed Kamala Harris’ microphone at San Francisco forum. Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, helped escort him offstage… Bill de Blasio blamed his staff for missing a 9/11 memorial event…
MORE BRIEFS: Trump to kick off his re-election campaign on June 18 in Orlando. Jared Kushner pushed the idea of recreating the descending escalator ride at Trump Tower, but that idea was rejected because of the conflict of interest it might suggest… How these Democratic billionaires — Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, Donald Sussman, James and Marilyn Simons, and George Soros — could help shape the 2020 election…The Fox News primary? How Trump’s favorite network became a Democratic power player… For 2020 Dems, the town hall meeting is a golden opportunity, Steve Rabinowitz writes.
Cory Booker and the Orthodox rabbi were like brothers. Now they don’t speak — by Kevin Sullivan: “Boteach said it happened in September 2015, when Booker announced his support for the Iran deal… Booker sighed heavily when told of Boteach’s contentions. He said the falling-out was not over Iran: ‘I have lots of friends I disagree with over the Iran deal, and we’re still friends.’ He said he withdrew from Boteach long before the Iran deal, because, he said, Boteach had begun using their friendship for self-promotion… ‘If I’m not talking about Shmuley, then he thinks I’m not honoring my experience,’ Booker said. ‘I speak about my Jewish connections and my connections to L’Chaim often still to this day.’”
“Booker has rarely criticized Boteach publicly and declined to provide specifics. But someone who knows both men well offered one example he said was ‘part of a pattern.’ He said Booker felt betrayed in October 2013 when Boteach publicized what was meant to be a private, after-midnight visit to Schneerson’s grave in Queens.” [WashPost]
Boteach said in a statement: “Cory’s penchant of late to follow the political winds have seen his own political fortunes dim considerably. Americans are seeing him in the wake of the Iran vote, and choosing to even condemn the Jerusalem embassy move, as someone who is catering to the most extreme elements of the Democratic Party, many of whom are sadly anti-Israel.”
** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email [email protected] **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: As Slack prepares to go public, its CEO, Stewart Butterfield, is holding his tongue [NYTimes] • The Endeavor IPO makes no sense — except as a monument to Ari Emanuel’s talent [VanityFair] • Latham Farms acquired by Rochester developer David Flaum in joint venture [TimesUnion] • Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, to visit Israel in August [Haaretz] • The Tamar Gas Consortium, responsible for operating one of Israel’s largest natural gas fields, began a trial to stream gas from Israel to Egypt on Friday [Calcalist]
PROFILE — The Trump-Loving Israeli Doctor Offering Aid to Palestinians — by Steven Davidson: “Dr. Yitzchak Glick, 59, moved with his family as a teenager from New York City to Israel in 1974. After serving in the 1982 war in Lebanon, Glick decided to pursue medicine, in part because of the regular interaction with Palestinians it often entails. ‘I felt very strongly that the more people get to know each other on a personal level, the more we are likely to advance peace,’ he says. In 1998, the avid softball player and die-hard Cleveland Indians fan permanently settled in Efrat, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank… Glick became friendly with the Palestinian workers renovating his home. They started asking him medical questions, and he gladly answered them. Then came their friends, and over time seemingly everyone in the Palestinian villages become acquainted with the Orthodox doctor from Efrat providing free medical advice.” [Ozy]
FAUDA 3.0 — Israeli thriller series ‘Fauda’ digs in for darker third season — by Dan Williams: “‘Fauda,’ an Israeli TV series that has become a Netflix hit for its unsparing portrayal of undercover commandos who pose as Palestinians to pursue Hamas guerrillas, promises to dig deeper into the conflict in its third season. The first two seasons took place mostly in the occupied West Bank. This time, showrunners Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz have set much of it in the Gaza Strip… ‘This is going to be much more dark, much more emotional,’ Raz, who also plays Fauda’s tortured lead character, told Reuters at a dusty, smoke-wreathed underground Tel Aviv power plant repurposed to look like a Hamas tunnel and bunker network.” [Reuters]
STATE-SIDE — At state convention, California Dems reject anti-Israel language in resolutions — by Dan Pine: “The Resolutions Committee of the California Democratic Party has substantially rewritten six resolutions, deleting or softening language harshly critical of Israel. On Friday, at the party’s state convention in San Francisco, the committee passed four of the resolutions as rewritten, prompting the original authors to withdraw their names and co-sponsors. Two other resolutions were withdrawn. The resolutions dealt with a variety of issues related to anti-Semitism, Israel, Palestine and American involvement in the region.” [Jweekly]
STATE VISIT — Cuomo announces upcoming Israel trip at parade — by Jacob Kornbluh: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he will travel to Israel in the summer to express solidarity with the Jewish community. “As a sign of solidarity, at this time of crisis for the Jewish people, I’m going to be doing another trip to Israel… right after the legislative session and I invite my Jewish colleagues to join us as a sign of solidarity,” Cuomo told reporters before marching in the annual Celebrate Israel parade on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. [JewishInsider]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Haredim in Caps and Gowns: Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, men and women alike, are making new inroads in universities — by Paula Jacobs: “Thanks in part to such university programs, as well as academic tutoring, mentoring, and other support services, Haredi university students in Israel are beginning to achieve considerable academic success. Today Haredi men and women are enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs at secular universities, veering toward majors that offer strong professional opportunities such as law and social work. Haredim have also overcome their limited academic backgrounds in science and math to earn undergraduate degrees in civil engineering, computer science, and geo-information systems, and a few are now M.A. and Ph.D. candidates.” [Tablet]
TRANSITION — Yuval Levin, founding editor of National Affairs, has joined the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) as a resident scholar. Levin will direct a new social, cultural, and constitutional studies research division at AEI.
DESSERT — New Bakers Are Taking Over East Village Kosher Icon Moishe’s Bake Shop — by Carla Vianna: “New bakers are taking over the now-closed Moishe’s Bake Shop at 115 Second Ave., though original owner Moishe Perl may still be involved in ‘some capacity,’ according to EV Grieve. The East Village kosher bakery has been closed since March for renovations, though at first there were rumors that it was closed for good. Yet Perl says the bakery will reopen under new leadership, and once it does, it may have a new name: Formerly Moishe’s.” [EaterNY]
BIRTHDAYS: Canadian economist who has held both high-level government and academic posts, Sylvia Knelman Ostry turns 92… Italian physician, writer and essayist on a wide range of Biblical and Jewish topics, he served as President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities from 1998-2006, Amos Luzzatto is 91… Richard J. Munitz turns 81… Alice Heyman turns 81… Attorney, author, political candidate, law professor, businesswoman and international civil servant, she was awarded both a Ph.D. in political science and a J.D. from Yale, Jan Schneider turns 72… Algerian-born, French citizen, Tel Aviv-based attorney, elected in 2012 to serve as an overseas representative to the French parliament representing the southern Mediterranean region, Daphna Poznanski-Benhamou turns 69…
Director for legislative strategy, policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Ester Kurz turns 68… Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he heads its program in Judezmo (or Ladino) studies, David Monson Bunis turns 67… President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston since 2007 where he has worked since 1985, he holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Eric S. Rosengren turns 62… Chief cantor of Vienna, Austria’s Israelitische Kultusgemeinde since 1992, lyrical tenor, Shmuel Barzilai turns 62… Rabbi at the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles since 1987, he became senior rabbi in 2003, Steve Leder turns 59… Member of the British Parliament for the Conservative Party since 2001, Jonathan Djanogly turns 54…
Executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, Jason Moss turns 45… Actress and model best known for her role as Nicole Walker on the NBC’s daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives (1998-2018), Arianne Zucker turns 45… Los Angeles-based PR consultant at Winning Progressive after 15 years in NYC (2004-2019), earlier he was the press secretary to Howard Dean (2003-2004) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (1999-2003), Eric M. Schmeltzer turns 44… Director of annual giving and alumni relations at the San Francisco Day School, Lauren Becker turns 33… DC-based reporter at The Wall Street Journal covering the US Department of Education and national education policy, Michelle Hackman turns 26 (h/t Playbook)… Israel on Campus Coaliton’s Brandon Beigler turns 27…