Daily Kickoff

Lindsey Graham traveling to Israel again | Larry Ellison back to work & diaper changing | Roman Abramovich donates $5M to Jewish Agency

Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina) and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the Israel-Gaza border area, on March 10, 2019.

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HEARD YESTERDAY — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) confirmed to Jewish Insider a July trip to Israel to work out details for a U.S.-Israel defense treaty to counter the Iranian threat. He later elaborated on his plans during a speech at the Endowment for Middle East Truth in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night.

“So, here’s the next thing, here’s our marching orders. I’m going to Israel in July. We’re going to sit down and we’re going to talk about what a security agreement would look like,” he said. “But I think it’s important to send a signal in the 21st century. If you’re intending to destroy Israel, you have to go through us. And it will not turn out well for you.”

Graham said that any deal would protect the sovereignty of the Israeli Defense Forces and that  U.S. intervention would occur if Israel is facing an existential threat. “So, we’re trying to find a way to cobble this together, express it in terms that reinforces Israel’s security, never undermines the IDF’s ability to independently defend the state of Israel, but sends a clear signal to Iran and others, that if your goal is to destroy the state of Israel, you achieve that goal at your own peril.”

Graham said his goal is to bring a treaty to the Senate “sometime next year” and described it as the “next thing to do to solidify” the U.S.-Israel relationship. 

JI’s Laura Kelly spoke to Graham earlier on Wednesday about his upcoming trip, his support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and talk of unilateral annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Asked if annexing any parts of the West Bank would hurt or help a two-state solution, Graham said that while he believes there’s an understanding that certain Israeli communities in the West Bank would remain part of Israel under a deal, that he would be “careful about annexing right now, as we’re trying to navigate, you know, this relationship.” [JewishInsider]

Also featured at the EMET event were Representatives Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Ted Deutch (D-FL).  

In his remarks to the crowd, Zeldin called on the German government to designate the political wing of Hezbollah a terrorist organization. “We are calling for the German government and many others as well to designate Hezbollah, in its entirety, as a terrorist organization.” German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have said they will not designate the whole organization as a terrorist entity. 

Deutch dedicated his over 20-minute speech to the dangerous rise of antisemitism in the U.S. Deutch called for a vote “soon” on Rep. Brad Schneider’s (D-IL) bipartisan resolution opposing BDS. “We need the opportunity to publicly show that opposition to BDS by voting on that resolution soon,” the Florida congressman said. 

LAST NIGHT IN NYC — Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and an MK in the 20th Knesset, was the keynote speaker at the National Museum of American Jewish History “Only in America” gala held at 583 Park Avenue. [Pic] Oren was introduced by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik. [Pic] The gala honored the museum’s chair Phil Darivoff. [Pic]

Speaking of his own achievements and the historical connection between Israel and America, Oren remarked, “Israel is a country in which 40 years ago, a young American could arrive in the middle of a rainy night with nothing more than a backpack, serve in the IDF, raise a family, always struggling, and yet that former American could someday be sworn in as an elected member of Knesset, help represent Israel to the world. A man who would one day interact with not one, but three American presidents. And I cannot tell you how many times I was in the White House with meetings and the only non-Jew in the room would be the president of the United States. All the rest of us, Israelis and Americans, were Jewish. What a testament to the power of Jewish history.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH —On Wednesday, Iraq and Lebanon announced that they won’t send any representatives to the Kushner-led ‘economic workshop’ in Bahrain later this month. The United Nations announced that it is sending Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the West Bank and Gaza, as their representative to the summit.

Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a statement to the Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian leadership “will realize that their refusal to attend the workshop is short-sighted.”

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said in an interview with Israel Hayom’s Boaz Bismuth that “Israel should not be worried” about the Trump peace plan because “one of the main goals” that the White House Mideast peace team focused on “was to not hurt the national security interests of Israel.”

“I think everybody needs to go into it with an open mind, everybody should want a peace plan,” Haley said in the interview published on Thursday. “Everybody should want to make way for a better situation in Israel and I think it can happen. So rather than pushing back against what we don’t know, I hope everybody would lean in on what the possibilities of what the peace plan could look like and think of a better life for everyone… I think it is worth taking that chance. It is worth trying for.”

Professor Alan Dershowitz writes… “Trump’s Ambassador Is Right on Israel’s Annexation. His Posturing, pro-Palestinian Critics Are Wrong: I know, because I participated – albeit in a small way – in the drafting of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 back in 1967, when Justice Arthur Goldberg was the United States Representative to the United Nations. I had been Justice Goldberg’s law clerk, and was then teaching at Harvard Law School. Justice Goldberg asked me to come to New York to advise him on some of the legal issues surrounding the West Bank. The end result was that the binding English version of the United Nations Resolution deliberately omitted the crucial word ‘all,’ and substituted the word ‘territories,’ which both Justice Goldberg and British Ambassador Lord Caradon publicly stated meant that Israel was entitled to retain some of the West Bank.” [Haaretz]

IRAN WATCH — On Thursday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei toldJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who is visiting Tehran in a bid to ease tensions between the U.S. and Iran — that his country will not repeat its “bitter experience” of negotiating with the United States. “I don’t consider Trump as a person worthy of exchanging messages with. I have no response for him and will not answer him,” Khamenei told Abe, in remarks aired on state television.

DEVELOPING STORY — Two oil tankers — Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous — have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Iran says that 44 sailors and crew members have been rescued by its navy from the two tankers and have been taken to the Iranian island of Jask. The U.S. Navy’s fifth fleet said it was assisting the tankers. 

ON THE HILL — On Wednesday, R. Clarke Cooper, the assistant secretary of state in the bureau of political-military affairs, defended the Trump administration’s use of an emergency declaration to move forward with arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In what was described as a contentious hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Cooper argued that suspending the purchases would have offered an opening to sales from China and Russia.

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel (D-NY) said in his opening statement that the administration’s declaration of an emergency in order to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia are “phony,” “made up” and an “abuse of law.” 

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America welcomedfinal language issued by the Treasury Department that, in part, preserves tax-credit scholarships for families who send children to Jewish day and non-public schools.

HAPPENING TODAY — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will bring the Cruz-Kaine bipartisan resolution condemning antisemitism resolution to the Senate floor,Politico’s Daniel Lippman reported on Wednesday.

2020 WATCH — Eliot Engel to face far-left challenger in 2020: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will face a progressive challenger in next year’s Democratic congressional primary. Andom Ghebreghiorgis, a 33-year-old activist from Mount Vernon, New York — who launched his campaign for the 16th Congressional District on Wednesday — is hoping to replicate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory against fmr. Congressman Joe Crowley from Queens.

In his campaign launch announcement, first previewed by the Washington Post, Ghebreghiorgis lambasted Engel’s foreign policy approach: “Our representative’s hawkish record is clear: he voted for the Iraq War, voted against withdrawing the U.S. from Afghanistan, opposed the Iran Nuclear Deal, supported Trump’s decision to unilaterally move the U.S. Embassy to Israel and supported Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights. Humanity does not benefit from these militaristic policies that we typically expect to be supported by the Republican Party.”

Ghebreghiorgis mentioned in his remarks that he spent some time in Ramallah as a special education teacher to highlight his international experience. [JewishInsider]

2020 BRIEFS — Howard Schultz announced on Wednesday campaign staff cuts, summer hiatus… In a letter to supporters, Schultz said he is taking the summer off in order to recover from back surgery… Despite pause, Schultz sticks with strategist Steve Schmidt… 23 Democrats are running for president. Do any of them know what they’re doing?… Pete Buttigieg seizes on the top-tier status with 2nd-quarter fundraising blitz…

Peter Beinart writes… “Netanyahu has changed the Democratic Party — one candidate at a time: Most Democratic politicians have never had to justify their support for unconditional military aid because it’s never been a subject of debate in Washington. But, once forced to justify that position on a stage with two candidates, Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, who are questioning it, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden will find it almost impossible to defend.” [Forward

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Israel Democracy Institute’s Yohanan Plesner writes… “How to End Israel’s Political Impasse: Israel just experienced one of the worst political crises in its short history… This mess could have been avoided if two simple political reforms had been implemented. The largest party in the Knesset would form the governing coalition and, once in place, the new government would not require a vote of investiture to begin its term… Candidates across the political spectrum should see it as a wake-up call. Instability is damaging Israel’s economy and could have real implications for its security.” [ForeignPolicy]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Facebook worries emails could show Mark Zuckerberg knew of questionable privacy practices [WSJ• Henry Kravis’ KKR is buying Business Insider and Bild publisher in a $7.7 billion deal [CNN• Avi Shua’s Orca Security scores $6.5M seed round to solve cloud native security [TechCrunch• WhatsApp Co-Founder Jan Koum assembles $80 million Atherton compound [Variety• Here are the numbers behind Michael Dell’s record purchase of the Boca Raton Resort [RealDeal]

MORE BRIEFS: Dmitri Alperovitch’s cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike soars in Wall Street debut [WSJ• Titans of real estate in ‘shock’ over New York rent law deal [NYTimes] • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defends decision to replace new MTA board appointee Michael Lynton as a simple swapping of players [NYPost• Israel power company asks Fortnite to drop pole-climbing in game [Reuters

STARTUP NATION — World’s largest brewer opens Israeli cybersecurity unit as attacks mount: “Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s largest beer maker, said on Thursday it was opening a cybersecurity unit in Israel to help protect itself from a growing number of attacks… AB InBev’s Tel Aviv hub will focus on analyzing threats and potential attacks, said Luis Veronesi, vice president of global security and compliance.” [Reuters

‘Sad’ investors say they had no choice but to close Four Seasons — by Steve Cuozzo: “Big names in finance and real estate who invested in the Four Seasons restaurant revival are miserable they were forced to close the place after less than a year — but said they had no choice. Real estate powerhouse Bill Rudin, who was married at the original Four Seasons, termed the closing ‘obviously sad.’ … One customer called it a ‘ghost town’ on a midweek afternoon when only four tables were filled. ‘One table had Barry Diller but he isn’t enough,’ the customer said.”

“In July 2017, Four Seasons operating partner Alex von Bidder emailed his then-partner Julian Niccolini that they had raised and deposited $18.25 million from 23 backers. Among them: Edgar M., Matthew and Sam Bronfman; Bill Rudin’s cousin Eric Rudin; and financiers Stephen SchwarzmanPaul TaubmanSteve Rattner and Joe Plumeri. Several others had committed but not yet delivered funds, including former AIG chief Hank Greenberg, who was ‘in’ for $1 million, according to the memo. Edgar Bronfman said the Four Seasons simply failed to take in enough revenue.” [NYPost]

SPOTLIGHT ― Larry Ellison Returns to War (and Diaper Changing) ― by Kevin McLaughlin: “It is a delicate moment for Oracle. The rise of cloud computing providers like Amazon, the dominant player in the category, threatens the database giant’s long-term relevance in the tech industry, as businesses increasingly rent online versions of the software they once bought from companies like Oracle. For Mr. Ellison, known for legendary rivalries with figures like [Bill] Gates, Oracle’s battle with cloud competitors seems to be having a tonic effect. ‘One amazing thing about Larry is how he has stayed active and influential for such a long time,’ said Scott McNealy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who sold his company to Oracle and has known Mr. Ellison since the early 1980s.”

“Mr. Ellison—the world’s seventh richest person, according to Bloomberg—has long been known for his lavish tastes, which include yacht racing, airplanes and real estate (he owns most of the Hawaiian island Lanai). But in his eighth decade, he seems to have found contentment elsewhere. He is the father of two toddlers, according to multiple people who know Mr. Ellison. At an event at his home in San Francisco last fall, Mr. Ellison told a group of entrepreneurs about his delight at spending time with his young children. ‘This is the happiest I have ever been,’ he said… ‘He’s changing diapers,’ one of the people who knows Mr. Ellison said.” [TheInformation]

Why Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker Abandoned Trump After Coming Out as Trans — by James Reginato: 
“In 1881, Naphtali ben Yakov Pritzker arrived in Chicago, a 10-year-old penniless Jewish immigrant from Ukraine. Nicholas, as he later was known, taught himself English, worked his way through law school, and opened a law firm, which thrived. Today his descendants rank as America’s seventh-richest family, with a $29 billion fortune derived from investments, a conglomeration of nuts-and-bolts manufacturing businesses, and Hyatt hotels.”

“[Jennifer Natalya Pritzker] has also been highly active in politics. In the view of some, the startling thing about her is her choice of party. The Pritzker clan has long been decidedly socially liberal and Democratic— the governor and the former commerce secretary are Jennifer’s first cousins — and Chicago itself is deep blue. But the colonel is blood red. A top Republican donor, she has written big checks to the likes of John McCain, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump, for whom she voted. The curtain over Jennifer’s personal life began to lift in July 2017, when President Trump tweeted his intention to ban transgender people in the military, reversing an Obama-era directive.”[VanityFair]

Roman Abramovich gives $5m to Jewish Agency to fight against antisemitism — by Jeremy Sharon: 
“Russian oligarch and philanthropist Roman Abramovich has given $5m. to the Jewish Agency for Israel to assist in its efforts to combat antisemitism around the world. Abramovich… gave his donation due to rising antisemitism in Europe, the U.S., and beyond and will be used by JAFI’s ‘International Unit,’ which engages in various operations and activities to combat antisemitism.” [JPost]

COMING SOON ― Patriots’ Kraft to receive warm welcome in Israel ― by Josef Federman: “Israel is rolling out the red carpet for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who arrives next week to collect the Genesis Prize… The ceremony on June 20 would mark Kraft’s highest-profile public appearance since he was charged in February with soliciting a prostitute at a Florida massage parlor. He has pleaded innocent… In addition to collecting the $1 million award, he is scheduled to have lunch with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and deliver the keynote speech at a lavish ceremony hosted by comic Martin Short. Dozens of VIPs are expected at the invitation-only event, including leaders of Jewish organizations, top business and political figures and the prime minister.” [AP]

SPORTS BLINK — Toronto Raptors Jewish co-owner says team will visit Israel if it wins NBA championship: 
“The Toronto Raptors are one win away from the NBA championship — and a free trip to Israel. The team’s Jewish billionaire co-owner, Larry Tanenbaum, said he will bring the club to visit if it wins the title. The Raptors are up 3 games to 1 in the best-of-7 Finals over the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. But the Canadian squad could not seal the deal at home in Game 5 on Tuesday, losing by a point, and must win either at Golden State on Thursday in San Francisco or at home in the decider to take the basketball crown.” [JTA]

CAMPUS BEAT ― Cadet to be removed from Army ROTC for ‘pro-Nazism’ tweets: “A cadet will be removed from the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps for posting racist, anti-Semitic and ‘pro-Nazism’ messages on social media. U.S. Army Cadet Command spokesman Maj. Robert Carter said Wednesday that Martha Gerdes is on a ‘leave of absence’ from the program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte pending her disenrollment from the ROTC… Gerdes was a student at Davidson College when the Army began investigating in November.” [AP]

IN THE EAST WING YESTERDAY — President Trump and Polish President Duda spoke at a gala for the Jewish community and Polish American leaders. [Pic]

Spotted: 
Elan Carr, Tom Yazdgerdi, and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL). 

NYC SIGHTING — Paul McCartney chatting with Jean Shafiroff at the Jewish Board benefit at the Plaza. [PageSix]

DESSERT — How Chinese-Mexican chef Alex Chang gave Israeli food in Los Angeles his own unique twist — by Charley Lanyon: “Along the way [Alex Chang] kept his head down but his eyes open, picking up experiences, flavors and techniques that would go on to define his cooking at The Exchange, the Israeli restaurant in the lobby of the trendy Freehand Los Angeles hotel… Chang knew the trendy hotel game, and he was comfortable in the kitchen at some of the hottest and most scrutinized restaurants. However when it came to Israeli food – both cooking and eating it – he had zero experience… His crash-course education in Israeli food was eye-opening. He immersed himself in Israeli and Middle Eastern cookbooks, and then took a seven-day trip to Israel.” [SouthChinaMorningPost

Craving gefilte fish and sushi? A new kosher restaurant in Queens combines them in a roll — by Josefin Dolsten: 
“Sushi Kingdom & Asian Fusion [in Kew Gardens Hills] may look like a typical kosher Japanese joint, but in addition to classic dishes… the menu offers rolls stuffed and topped with traditional Jewish food. There’s a gefilte fish roll, where the traditional Ashkenazi loaf is wrapped with seaweed and rice and topped with carrot and horseradish. Another roll is topped with such a generous serving of cholent, the heavy bean stew traditionally served on Shabbat afternoons, that it nearly disappears. A falafel-filled roll is deep fried and served atop hummus or tehina.”[JTA]

REMEMBERING — Velvel Pasternak, Preserver of Hasidic Music, Is Dead at 85 — by Joseph Berger: “Velvel Pasternak, a leading publisher of Jewish music who recorded and transcribed, and thus preserved, the singular melodies that had typically been passed along by tradition within Hasidic sects, died on Tuesday in Oceanside, N.Y.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Engineer and computer scientist, professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock turns 85… Founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 81… Senior advisor for George Soros’s Open Society Institute, he served in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations, Morton Halperin turns 81… Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co. (1983-1997), Chancellor of Brown University (1998 to 2007) and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 79… Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York since 1992, he is currently the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Nadlerturns 72… Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel (2004-2017), he was previously Attorney General of Israel (1997-2004), Elyakim Rubinsteinturns 72…

Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD turns 64… National political correspondent for National Public Radio, Mara Liasson turns 64… Co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham “Ben” Horowitz turns 53… Internet entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Overtime, a digital sports platform, he was previously the Head of Digital at William Morris Endeavor, Daniel Porter turns 53… Yoga instructor, Jenny Eisen Verderyturns 52… Family Court Judge of the City of New York, serving in Brooklyn, Judge Erik S. Pitchal turns 47…White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, he was previously at Politico and the Wall Street JournalEli Stokols turns 40…

Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, a high-rise residential development firm active in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Miami, Michael Stern turns 40… President of the Northern Region at AT&T, Marissa Shorenstein turns 40… Actor, the son of Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving, Max Samuel Spielberg turns 34… Film and television actress, she starred in the CBS sitcom “Two Broke Girls” (2011-2017), Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 33… Founder and CEO of NYC-based ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm, he is also a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, Benjamin H. Weingarten turns 31… Retired football player, he won the 2010 Outland Trophy (as the best collegiate interior lineman), he was a first round NFL draft pick and played for 4 seasons in the NFL (2011-2014), Gabe Carimi turns 31… Samantha Magnes turns 24…