Daily Kickoff

The confidence of American Jewry | Jared Kushner talks Judaism | Pics from Pompeo meeting | 2020 Dems start to seek big donors



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THE RUNDOWN: We obtained photos from inside Sec. Pompeo’s infamous Conference of Presidents meeting, as he qualified his comments in an interview. A congressional Black-Jewish Caucus was announced yesterday at the AJC Global Forum. Also at the AJC, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer called on 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to reconsider vows to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. More below:

HEARD AT ADL SUMMIT — ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt during a conversation with Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi 
at the ADL National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. on Monday: “There is almost no one sitting in this room today who remembers a time when the Jews didn’t have sovereignty. I mean, that is an historical anomaly. And I deeply believe that whether you know it or not, whether it’s a conscious part of your identity or it’s unconscious, the confidence the Jewish community in this country has, the spring in our step and what we do here is in large part, I do think, animated and enabled by the success of the state of Israel.”

“Even if you are not in touch with it, it’s there and it enables us — it has enabled us to succeed and thrive here in a way which exceeds what happened throughout our history for thousands of years.”

Yossi Klein Halevi: “I am trying to be an optimist both about Israel and American Jewry because I think that it has a certain self-fulfilling quality. And I also think that there’s a great deal for us to still be optimistic about. We are living, to my mind, in the most extraordinary moment in Jewish history, and I really believe that we are seeing the two most interesting Jewish experiments that we have ever had. We are seeing not just a sovereign Jewish state — we have had sovereignty in the past. But nothing that we’ve ever experienced in ancient times can compare to the reach and the influence and the self-confidence that the state of Israel generates.”

“And at the same time, we have never had a Diaspora community like American Jewry. And the fact that these two experiments emerged more or less simultaneously post World War II is really a gift that we are still struggling to absorb. And in that sense, I think that we need to find a certain inner balance between a resolve for dealing with threats, both external and internal — and we have our share of internal threats in some ways. Those worry me more, to be honest — and yet at the same time, we have never had the resources, the capabilities to deal with threats as we have it now.” [CSPAN]

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) addressed the ADL conference, praising the organization for its work combating antisemitism and hate speech toward other minority groups. “Early in his administration, President Trump brought into the White House people like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka and others who built their careers on dog-whistling to racists, antisemites, and xenophobes,” Hoyer charged in his remarks.

The Majority Leader also praised House passage of the anti-hate resolution, that came as a response to statements made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that were widely condemned as antisemitic. “In February, we brought a resolution to the House Floor condemning hate and passed it with unanimous Democratic support. Our resolution condemned antisemitism specifically and strongly. It also included a broader condemnation of the other forms of hatred… Because, like [the] ADL, Democrats recognize that every form of hatred is tied together, and we can only win the fight against bigotry, inequality, and intolerance if we stand together, united.” 

AJC GLOBAL FORUM DAY 2  — Recap by JI’s Laura Kelly: House representatives announced the formation of the first bipartisan Black-Jewish caucus. The announcement was delivered at the AJC Global Forum on Monday.

Members of Congress called the move an effort to build on the shared history of the two minority groups, especially at a time of rising white nationalism, antisemitism and hate crimes. [JewishInsider]

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) 
recorded a video message for the AJC Global forum, her staff confirmed to Jewish Insider. A spokesman for AJC said it “may have been an oversight” why Gillibrand wasn’t included in a list of presidential candidates, made available to JI, who recorded video messages for the organization’s annual conference.

Inquiries to the campaigns of Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Amy Klobucharabout why they didn’t participate went unanswered.

Gillibrand’s video is expected to stream today, along with pre-recorded messages from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH).

An AJC spokesperson told JI: “Due to time constraints, not all videos are showing in the plenaries. They are going up on our website.“ Watch the candidates’ videos here: [AJC]

Video messages from Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris(D-CA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) streamed throughout the day Monday, with each candidate expressing their vision of the U.S.-Israel relationship and concern for the rise in deadly antisemitic attacks in America.

“Israel is a strong ally, an important friend to the United States. Good friends can disagree and candid expression of concerns does not diminish our friendship, we can and should have an open policy debate,” Warren said in her remarks. “But let’s be clear, antisemitism has no place in democracy.” 

Harris pledged unwavering support for security assistance to Israel and for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “And I believe, Israel should never be a partisan issue, I will do everything in my power to ensure broad and bipartisan support for Israel’s security and right to self defense. That is why I strongly support America’s security assistance to Israel and I am committed to strengthening the American-Israeli defense relationship,” Harris said. 

On the deadly attacks on the Chabad of Poway, Harris said, “I also believe that we need to speak the truth that antisemitism is real in this country. We cannot stand by while antisemitism, hate crimes and bigotry are on the rise, this violence and hate are alarming and simply unacceptable. No one should have to worry about their children’s safety when they drop them off at the JCC.”

Bennet called Israel a “stalwart ally in an unpredictable region” and reaffirmed his support for “robust” security assistance. On antisemitism, the senator called for recommitting to fighting hate in all its forms. “We have an obligation to our children to leave them a future where hatred is not accepted,” Bennet said.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer in conversation with AJC’s David Harris — On the 2020 Democratic candidates vowing to reenter the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal: “I hope those candidates would reconsider because it would be very dangerous for the state of Israel… I hope that all of these candidates will not get locked into a political position. I don’t think they studied the whole issue, I don’t think they’ve had all the briefings, which I think makes the job of organizations like this even more important, tell them the facts. There were a lot of hopes in 2015. There were a lot of question marks about what would be. Now we’re living in exclamation points. We know what happened, let’s not go back to the same failed experiment. Let’s do something else.”

On partisanship in Congress relating to the U.S.-Israel relationship: “Most of the concerns actually focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Which, less so in the last couple of years but before that became, really a focus of the U.S.-Israel relations in a way that — It’s an important issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and we should work to resolve the conflict and achieve peace. But as I said, Israel is going to be — in my view — the most important ally of the United States in the 21st century. So it should not be an issue that simply dominates the conversation between Israel and the United States. It’s not in Israel’s interest and I don’t think it’s in America’s interest.” [JewishInsider]

Netanyahu: No ‘big difference’ between GOP and the Democratic Party on Israel — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu downplayed the growing partisan divide between the Republican and Democratic parties in support of Israel during a satellite address at the AJC conference. “On the whole, I think that it’s a very good time in U.S.-Israel relations,” Netanyahu told the crowd. At the same time, he emphasized, “I don’t think there’s a big difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as I have known it over the years” on Israel.

To illustrate the bipartisan nature of U.S. support for Israel, Netanyahu pointed out that while he had “differences with President Obama, at the same time the two of us signed a memorandum of understanding that enabled Israel to get very generous American military assistance over the next decade. And I’m very appreciative of that.”

According to the Israeli prime minister, “the people that I know” in the Democratic Party, “are staunch supporters of Israel, and I hope it will remain the same. If it changes that obviously will concern us. I think it should concern everyone.” [JewishInsider]

Netanyahu also said that Israel maintaining security over the West Bank is non-negotiable in any peace plan with the Palestinians. [JewishInsiderVideo]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Jared Kushner traveled to Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the Trump peace plan with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. 

As the Trump peace plan is hitting some roadblocks, and with the 2020 election fast approaching, conservative and pro-Israel allies of the administration are urging the White House to put a hold on the expected rollout of the Mideast peace plan, Politico reported on Monday. “Releasing the plan now would make the U.S. seem unserious,” James Carafano, a senior foreign affairs scholar at the Heritage Foundation told Politico. “It’s better to wait, perhaps even until after the U.S. elections.”

CLARIFICATION DEPT — On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that he did not suggest that the Trump peace plan could be perceived as being one-sided in favor of Israel. Pompeo’s clarification came after the Washington Post quoted Pompeo as telling leaders of the Conference of Presidents that he “can get why people think this is going to be a plan that only the Israelis could love.”

In an interview with Sinclair TV while in Switzerland, Pompeo explained that he was just “articulating” the perception that the plan will be one-sided because of the administration’s pro-Israel policies is “inaccurate” and “fundamentally untrue.” Pompeo also told Sinclair TV’s James Rosen that he hasn’t spoken yet to Trump about the recording. [JewishInsider]

PHOTOS — Inside the infamous Pompeo meeting at Conference of Presidents — click here for photos of the event [JewishInsider]

INTERVIEW — Professor Alan Dershowitz
 discussed his views of PM Netanyahu in an interview with Israel’s Kikar Shabbat website: “If I have one criticism, I think, he has to sometimes put his own political ambitions second to statesmanship, and he does it for the most part. But I hope that he doesn’t reject the Trump offer for a two-state solution. I think he will accept it. He is a statesman though. Israel has never had a better statesman in terms of diplomatic relationships. On balance, I think he’s one of Israel’s great, great leaders of all time.” [Video]

Eli Lake writes… “The Dark Side of Israel’s Cold Peace With Saudi Arabia: When Israeli and Saudi officials publicly acknowledged their quiet thawing of relations in 2015, the U.S. and other Western allies were encouraged… This cold peace has its benefits. But in the last year, a darker side has come into focus. The Saudis’ phone hacking is enabled by a privately owned Israeli company called the NSO Group Ltd. Its cyberweapon suite, Pegasus, has come under deserved scrutiny in the last year because governments have misused the weapon to hack the phones of journalists and human-rights activists.” [Bloomberg]

IN THE GULF — The USS Abraham Lincoln remained outside of the Persian Gulf to avoid a military confrontation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in the region, the Associated Press reported on Monday. “You don’t want to inadvertently escalate something,” Capt. Putnam Browne, the aircraft carrier commanding officer told the AP.

REPORT  — The intelligence linking Iran to the attack of four Saudi oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last month was presented to the U.S. by the Israeli Mossad, Kan 11 reported on Monday. The Israeli sources described the alleged Iranian attack on as “a pretty good commando operation.

2020 BRIEFS —  As Bernie Sanders reprises his greatest hits, Elizabeth Warren is surging… In an interview, Sanders slammed ‘anti-Semitic article’ about his wealth… On Sunday, Sanders became the first presidential candidate to ever address the California Democratic Party’s Arab American Caucus… Pete Buttigieg on Franken resignation process: ‘I would not have applied that pressure’ until we knew more… Kamala Harris’ husband Douglas Emhoff steps into the spotlight… 

In need of cash, Democratic presidential hopefuls turn to wealthy donors — by Michelle Ye Hee Lee: “’There’s not an unlimited pool of cash, even in the small-dollar sense,’ said Tom Nides… a longtime Democratic fundraiser. ‘The candidates have no choice now. They’re going to have to do both, like it or not. They’re all doing it.’… One of those donors is Robert Wolf, a former investment banker and an Obama supporter. He said he has met with about a dozen candidates, which included a recent one-on-one with O’Rourke, and has given money to 10 presidential contenders.” [WashPost]

Kushner Sees a Problem in Trump’s Fund-Raising, but Not Everyone Agrees — by Maggie Haberman and Annie Karnie: “Mr. Kushner has cast a disapproving eye on the fund-raising apparatus run primarily by the Republican National Committee, and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, whose close relationship with Mr. Trump is said to irk him. At a dinner he organized last month in the White House residence, Mr. Kushner brought together Ms. McDaniel; Brad Parscale, the campaign manager; and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who ran Mr. Trump’s fund-raising in 2016, along with a group of big donors like Stephen A. Schwarzman… to discuss the fund-raising strategy for 2020.” [NYTimes

UNDERCOVERED — Jared Kushner discusses Judaism and the role of God in his life 
in an interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios aired on HBO Sunday evening.

Swan: I’m Jewish, you’re Jewish. To what extent does your Judaism inform how you live your life?

Kushner: “Well, I think that the religion I have, in Judaism, is probably similar to what a lot of other religions give to people which is a code of values where you have to be judging yourself, make sure that what you’re doing always is the right thing and that you feel good about it.”


Swan: Ten years ago, you and Ivanka were a few months out from getting married. If I had time-traveled back then and I said to you, ‘In ten years time, in 2019, Donald Trump will be president and you, Jared Kushner, will be trying to negotiate peace in the Middle East.’ What would you have said to me?

Kushner: “I would have said, absolutely no chance.”

Swan: Do you ever reflect on that?

Kushner: “What I have learnt is that we don’t just make the waves. We have to surf the waves as well as we can. God makes the waves. And so…”

Swan: He’s made some pretty big ones for you.

Kushner: “I think he has also given me the ability to handle the challenges and the opportunities that I have been faced with and presented with. I have learned from things in the past — from successes, from mistakes — and I just come in every day and try to do my best.” [JewishInsider]

** Good Tuesday 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: Micky Arison’s Carnival will pay $20m over pollution from its cruise ships [AP]• David Bistricer’s Clipper Equity plans $204M conversion of UWS rental [RealDeal] • Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. and hotelier Andrew Zobler reach a deal to save the NoMad Hotel in Manhattan from foreclosure [WSJ• Meet the Dallas duo who bought Harvey Weinstein’s company and scored an instant hit [DallasNews• Hollywood producer Peter Chernin seeks to raise funds to battle anti-abortion laws [NYTimes] • Online insurance company Lemonade heading for New York IPO [Calcalist]

ACROSS THE SEA — Doctor thought to be 1st Jewish person voted mayor in Greece: “A 65-year-old doctor is believed to be the first Jewish person elected mayor in Greece. Independent candidate Moses Elisaf won 50.3 percent of the vote in the municipal election in the city of Ioannina. He told The Associated Press on Monday his election as one of Greece’s 332 mayors shows ‘stereotypes and prejudices’ are being overcome.” [AP]

DESSERT — As these Israeli chefs show, it doesn’t have to be treif to taste good — by Jessica Steinberg: “The moment for kosher cooking has arrived with a cadre of Israeli chefs, who were once more accustomed to treif, now separating their milk from their meat. Celebrity Israeli chefs Meir Adoni, Yoram Nitzan, Eyal Shani and several others have moved into the kosher sphere over the last few years, accommodating the growing number of kosher diners seeking fine dining, and the ingredients (and wine lists), that go with it.” [ToI]

REMEMBERING — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s wife Nechama dies at 73: 
“Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, has died. She was 73. The president’s office announced Tuesday she had passed away of lung failure, three months after receiving a transplant. Nechama Rivlin had been ill for years, but still regularly appeared in public alongside her husband with a mobile oxygen device… Nechama Rivlin was a popular first lady who focused on the arts, the environment and children with special needs.”[AP]

BIRTHDAYS: Survivor of the Holocaust via the Kindertransport, sniper for the Haganah and renowned sex therapist, a documentary of her life was just released, Ruth Westheimer (“Dr. Ruth”) turns 91… Co-founder of Boston Properties and owner of U.S. News & World Report, Mort Zuckerman turns 82… Emeritus professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology, David Kristolturns 81… Professor of organic chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science and winner of the 2012 Israel Prize, David Milstein turns 72… Beverly Hills attorney, Marlene Diane Greenly turns 71… Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court since 1999 and Chief Justice for two years (2017-2019), Stephen J. Markman turns 70…

Judge on the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia since 2018, he was the longest tenured member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (42 years from 1974 to 2016), Mark B. Cohen turns 70… Lineman for the Miami Dolphins (1973-1984), which included 3 Super Bowl appearances and 4 Pro Bowls, he is now a judge on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida (Miami-Dade County), Ed Newman turns 68… British journalist Melanie Phillipsturns 68… First-ever Jewish governor of Hawaii (2002-2010) and then Chief Operating Officer of Illinois (2015-2016), she serves on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Linda Lingle turns 66…

Co-founder of Ripco Real Estate, a leading NYC metro area brokerage and management firm focused on retail tenants, Todd Cooper turns 57… French-Israeli entrepreneur, angel investor in over 300 start-ups, Jeremie Berrebiturns 41… DC-based photographer and founder of Revamped Media, Inc., Daniel Swartz turns 40… Reporter for the Washington Post covering Congress, Colby Itkowitz turns 36… Israeli supermodel, she co-hosted last month’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Bar Refaeli turns 34… Director of marketing and communications at The Jewish Education Project, Adam E. Soclof turns 34… Communications, policy advisor and press secretary for Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Florida-22), Jason Hillel Attermann turns 31… Digital producer at Spectrum News, Gena Wolfson turns 30… Ken Moss… Judah Gross

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