Daily Kickoff

Interview with GOP challenger Joe Walsh | Peace plan delayed, again | The Hillary donor now giving six figures to Trump

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, right, stands behind President Donald Trump, left, during a news conference as he announces a revamped North American free trade deal, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. The new deal, reached just before a midnight deadline imposed by the U.S., will be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It replaces the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which President Donald Trump had called a job-killing disaster. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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MEET THE CANDIDATE — Joe Walsh, the one-term former Illinois congressman who launched a primary challenge against President Donald Trump this week, spoke with JI’s Ben Jacobs about his seemingly quixotic quest to unseat the incumbent Republican president. 
 
Walsh said he wouldn’t be running “if I just had a problem with a policy or two of this president.” Rather he views Trump as “completely unfit to be president.” He doesn’t believe, however, that the administration is devoid of accomplishments. Walsh praised Trump’s judicial picks as well as “some good deregulation” and “pro-Israel stuff [like] moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” and “his firm stance against Iran.” 

But the radio show host balanced this against other concerns about Trump’s policies. “[Trump] doesn’t give a damn about the debt,” said the Republican hopeful, who also condemned the president for “screwing things up at the border and not building a foot of a new wall.”
 
Walsh insisted that he is “still a Tea Party guy. I believe in limited government, free trade and free markets.” The former congressman argued that the Republican Party “has abandoned all those issues. [It] no longer stands for limited government, no longer stands for the rule of law and no longer stands for free trade.”
 
The former congressman believes that if Republican voters are presented with a conservative alternative where “you don’t get all the bull***t, all the drama and all the insulting tweets,” that they will eventually opt for him. His strategy is to simply “call Trump out everyday” and hope that eventually Republican voters will see how — under Trump — the economy slows and “he tweets us into a recession.”
 
Although the former congressman acknowledged that he won’t have the funding Trump does, he’s “optimistic about financial resources,” both in terms of what his campaign can raise and what outside groups can do on his behalf. “There is quiet support out there, people seem to be more willing to contribute financially than be public.” [JewishInsider]

MATTIS SPEAKS OUT — Former Defense Secretary James Mattis shared his views publicly for the first time since departing the Trump administration. In an essay penned for The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, ahead of the September 3rd publication of his new book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, Mattis wrote: “What concerns me most as a military man is not our external adversaries; it is our internal divisiveness. We are dividing into hostile tribes cheering against each other, fueled by emotion and a mutual disdain that jeopardizes our future, instead of rediscovering our common ground and finding solutions. All Americans need to recognize that our democracy is an experiment — and one that can be reversed. We all know that we’re better than our current politics.”

But, according to a review in The Guardian, the former defense secretary “avoids direct criticism of his former boss but offers some pointed comments that will probably be seized on by opponents of the president.” Speaking about his decision to step down last year, Mattis wrote: “When my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with allies, no longer resonated, it was time to resign.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told supporters on Wednesday that he expects the Jared Kushner-led Israeli-Palestinian peace plan to be rolled out “very soon after the election.” 

Earlier in the day, Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt shared on Twitter that the Trump administration has decided not to release the plan “or parts of the plan” before the September 17 Knesset elections. 

The Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff raised the possibility that the plan might include some measures “that could upset some Netanyahu voters,” or that the peace plan simply “doesn’t exist.” 

Israela Oron, a retired brigadier general in the IDF, told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh on Wednesday that “the timing of the peace plan is very important, but more important than the timing is the substance… we need to maintain the option of a two-state solution. Otherwise, we unfortunately will not be a Jewish state anymore.” Oron, who was one of the signatories of a recent letter to Congress warning against the White House supporting annexation, said such a move would have “consequences in the international arena, and very severe consequences on the security of Israel.”

STATE VISIT — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is expectedto travel to Israel on Friday to inaugurate a diplomatic office in Jerusalem as an extension of Honduras’s embassy in Tel Aviv. “For me it’s the recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” Hernandez said.

ISLAND FRIEND — On Thursday, the tiny island nation of Nauru became the latest country to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he commended the nation’s “important decision.” 

UPCOMING TRIP — Trump spoke on the phone with Polish President Andrzej Duda on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for his upcoming trip to Warsaw beginning Saturday. The president will attend ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II. 

IRAN WATCH —  A secret U.S. cyberattack against Iran in June wiped out a critical database used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to plot attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. According to the report, Iran is still trying to recover the information and restart some of the computer systems taken offline, but, “at least temporarily,” the U.S. attack has degraded its ability to target vessels crossing that route. 

The Treasury Department announced on Wednesday the imposition of sanctions on several Iranians for providing the Iranian regime with material to develop weapons of mass destruction. “As the Iranian regime attempts to use complex schemes to hide its efforts to bolster its WMD program, the U.S. government will continue to thwart them at every turn,” Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

The Israel-Iran shadow war escalates and breaks into the open — by David Halbfinger, Ben Hubbard and Ronen Bergman: “Some analysts suggested that the approaching Israeli election encouraged Mr. Netanyahu’s tough stance, while [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah also could not appear to be weak at a time when American sanctions have hurt his group’s finances.” [NYTimes]

AT THE U.N. — Danny Danon’s term as Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. has been extended until December. His four-year posting was supposed to end in September, but due to the Israeli election and the fact that a replacement has yet to be picked, the prime minister proposed to extend Danon’s term until the end of the year. 

FLORIDA MATTERS — Trump’s efforts to use Israel as a ‘political football’ against Jewish voters backing the Democratic Party may have the opposite effect, thus narrowing his chances to win the battleground state of Florida, Michael Wilner writes in McClatchy. According to Democratic pollster Jim Gerstein, since Jewish voters make up four percent of the electorate in the Sunshine State, even marginal shifts among Jewish voters could shift Florida back into the blue column. In 2016, Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in the state was less than one percent.

POLL OF JEWISH VOTERS — A new Morning Consult poll, published on Wednesday for Politico, showed that 71 percent of Jewish voters disapprove of Trump, statistically unchanged from his standing in July. The poll also found that 79 percent of Republican Jewish voters approve of the president.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, wrote in a report on Tuesday: “The data show that despite Trump’s commentary, Jews in the U.S. are both highly likely to identify as Democrats and vote for Democratic candidates and to express views that are highly loyal to Israel. There is little evidence of a change in these trends, or that this situation creates the kind of Jewish cognitive dissonance that Trump asserts should be the case.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) writes… “As Democrats continue to support Israel, Trump undermines Jews: My Jewish identity empowers me to be a Democrat and support the state of Israel. Those do not work at cross purposes. In fact, they go hand in hand.” [USAToday]

ACROSS THE POND — On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz in London. [Pic]

A visit by former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Australiadrew protests and a police presence on Wednesday night. Livni spoke at Moriah College in Sydney while several dozen pro-Palestinian activists protested outside, and police officers stood guard.   

2020 BRIEFS — Kirsten Gillibrand drops out of 2020 Democratic presidential race… Democratic candidates jostle and gripe as debates winnow the field… Candidates are blitzing Jay Inslee’s phone, asking for climate policy advice… Beto O’Rourke campaign said on Wednesday that it ejected Breitbart reporter from speech because he’d been disruptive at past events. … Tom Steyer’s mega-millions debate gambit flops… Bill de Blasio fails to draw support for 2020 bid — even from longtime allies…

DONOR CIRCUIT — Former Hillary Clinton donor Stephen Rosenberg is using a secret shell company to back Trump — by Brian Schwartz: “Real estate investor Stephen Rosenberg once had an open checkbook for Democrats running for higher office, including Hillary Clinton. That changed after Donald Trump was elected president… Rosenberg’s company, SR 2018 LLC, is listed as a six-figure donor to the Trump Victory committee… The company’s name consists of Rosenberg’s initials, while the mailing address of the LLC is identical to that of his real estate investment firm, Greystone.” [CNBC]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Carl Icahn opposes new directors chosen by Occidental CEO [Reuters• Estee Lauder is latest target of anti-Trump boycott group [YahooFinance• Israel falls in line with global monetary easing wave [FinancialTimes] • Chippewa Lake becomes first testing site of new algae bloom technology produced by Israeli company [News5Cleveland] • There are Israeli CEOs who will suffice with $1 million salaries [Haaretz• Upstate retreat of EGOT winner Marvin Hamlisch asks $8M [NYPost]

SPOTLIGHT — Florida GOP hires Peter O’Rourke as executive director — by Jacob Ogleson: “Florida Republicans are tapping Peter O’Rourke, a former U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary, as their new executive director. GOP donors and supporters from across the nation heralded the hire. ‘Gov. DeSantis’ leadership has been transformational for Florida, and we must ensure that the state’s Republican Party is being led by someone who is able to deliver results,’ said Nevada casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and wife Dr. Miriam Adelson in a statement. Israeli-American businessman Ike Perlmutter and wife Laurie, Palm Beach GOP donors, credited DeSantis for the hire.” [FloridaPolitics]

Israeli energy exports won’t make Europe more pro-Israel — by Charles Ellinas: “Political will and support from the Israeli government and the United States are not enough to overcome price constraints. Natural gas is, after all, being bought and sold by commercial companies. And these firms and their investors are risk-averse and prioritize profits above all else.”[ForeignPolicy]

World’s toughest job is open at the Berlin Jewish Museum — by Leonid Bershidsky: “Sept. 1 is the deadline to apply for the post of director of the Berlin Jewish Museum. It could be the toughest job in the world: It involves maneuvering between the interests of the German government, the country’s Jewish community, international Jewish organizations, the Israeli government and diverse groups within academia. The previous director, Peter Schaefer, who resigned under pressure on June 14, failed to find the right balance.”[Bloomberg]

HOLLYWOOD — Sacha Baron Cohen takes dramatic turn in Netflix’s ‘The Spy’ trailer — by Jackie Strause: “Netflix released the first look at Sacha Baron Cohen’s dramatic TV turn. ‘The Spy’ sees [Baron Cohen] traveling back to the 1960s to play Israeli clerk-turned-secret agent Eli Cohen as he goes deep undercover inside Syria on a perilous, years-long mission to spy for Mossad. Written and directed by Gideon Raff, the real-life spy thriller is based on true events. The six-episode limited series releases Sept. 6.”[HollywoodReporter]

SPORTS BLINK — New England Patriots’ special-teamer Nate Ebner reflected on his first visit to Israel this summer in an essay publishedthis week. Ebner traveled to the Jewish state in June along with a group of his teammates and the team’s owner, Robert Kraft. “The part of Israel that left the biggest impact on me was the people. Israelis are such a proud and deeply patriotic people. The attachment they feel to their homeland was inspiring, and as a visitor it made the trip feel that much more special,” Ebner wrote on The Players Tribune. “Back home, I’m not really outspoken when it comes to having been raised Jewish… being around so many people who were not only open, but who were also so proud of their Jewish heritage was a pretty amazing experience.”

PROFILE — The baroness fighting to protect children online — by Natasha Singer: “[Beeban] Kidron, who was born a commoner, helped lead a campaign to remake how Facebook, Google and other tech companies treat children online in Britain. Two years ago, she persuaded her peers in Parliament to push through sweeping new rules meant to stop online services from exploiting children’s personal data to manipulate their behavior. The changes are meeting fierce resistance, with tech companies and trade groups lobbying to weaken the new rules before they are codified this year.” [NYTimes]

Richard Serra is carrying the weight of the world — by Deborah Solomon: “Three exhibitions of [Richard Serra’s] new work will open simultaneously, in mid-September, at the Gagosian Gallery’s spaces in Chelsea and on the Upper East Side… Mr. Serra, the best-known living sculptor in America, might seem out of step with our increasingly virtual world… His mother, Gladys Fineberg, was a housewife of Russian-Jewish descent whom the artist recalls as an avid reader of 19th century French novels and contemporary Americans like Hemingway. His father, Tony, was a Spanish-American laborer who was born in Peru.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE NATION — Charlottesville victims use post-slavery KKK law to go after hate groups — by Hannah Allam: “The plaintiffs suffered injuries, trauma, loss of work and other lingering problems from the ordeal. The defendants are leaders in the white nationalist movement, and the ultimate goal of the civil suit is to put them out of business. ‘The message is that if you conspire to attack innocent people, to attack innocent people of color, to attack Jewish people, then you will be held accountable,’ [Liz] Sines said.”[NPR]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Cuomo calls for state cops to investigate attack on Brooklyn rabbi — by Tina Moore: “[New York] Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday called for a State Police investigation into a possible hate crime in which an unhinged man beat a rabbi with a rock in a Brooklyn park a day earlier. ‘I am sickened to learn of the vicious attack on a Hasidic Jewish man in Lincoln Terrace Park in Brooklyn,’ Cuomo said. ‘This incident is unfortunately just the latest in a string of horrific antisemitic attacks happening across the state and the country — part of the cancer of division and hate that has been injected into the body politic of this nation.’” [NYPost]

Avital Chizik-Goldshmidt writes… “Why does no one care about violence against Orthodox Jews? The Orthodox are the Jews of the Jews. We are othered, shamed, and ridiculed for our religious practices — by non-Orthodox-Jews and non-Jews alike. And that rhetoric often escalates into downright dehumanization. And almost no one will stand up for us. Even when Orthodox Jews are brutally attacked, those with power limit their reaction to a single tweet.” [Forward]

NY Attorney General Tish James condemns ‘deeply disturbing’ video on Rockland County GOP FB page attacking proposed multi-family development for Hasidic Jewish community — by Cathy Burke: “New York state’s top prosecutor Wednesday night issued a blistering rebuke of a ‘deeply disturbing’ video posted on the Rockland County Republican Party’s Facebook page that portrays proposed housing development for the Hasidic Jewish community as a “threat.” With throbbing, ominous music playing in the background, the video, titled ‘A storm is brewing in Rockland,’ warns that over-development threatens the area… ‘This video is deeply disturbing and should be removed and condemned immediately by the Rockland County Republican Party,’ New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.” [NYDailyNews]

The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted Wednesday that the video is “absolutely despicable. It is pure antisemitism, and should be immediately taken down. The Rockland County Republican Party is an embarrassment and has no place associating itself with our party.”

New Hampshire Sen. Hassan leads talk on keeping houses of worship safe — by Holly Ramer: “Leaders of Islamic, Christian and Jewish faith communities joined law enforcement Tuesday for a discussion led by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan. They described hiring security guards and locking their doors in the wake of deadly shootings at houses of worship in other states and overseas…  At Temple Beth Jacob of Concord, volunteers monitor video footage of entrances for suspicious activity before and after services, said Rabbi Robin Nafshi… ‘There has been many a Friday night that I have thought to myself, “Is tonight the night we die?”’ she said. ‘It scares me and yet I know we cannot afford police presence at our services.’ Nafshi’s synagogue was not one of the seven New Hampshire houses of worship that recently were awarded $150,000 in federal grants to improve security, despite the fact that she has been targeted by a white supremacist who has posted her photo online with a ‘Despicable Jew of the Day’ caption.” [AP]

Pritzker Family Fund endows photography collection at National Library of Israel — by Marcy Oster: “The collection of more than 2 million images — chronicling Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine and Israeli society and culture from the mid-nineteenth century to the present — will continue to be digitized following a major financial gift from the Pritzker Family Fund, the National Library announced on Tuesday. The collection includes photo albums, individual photos, postcards, personal collections and archives of private photographers and photographic agencies… The Pritzker gift also will allow future exhibition of the collection, as well as its expansion.” [JTA]

HAMPTONS SCENE — “Vector Group CEO/Douglas Elliman head Howard Lorber, New York Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis, and top brokers Dolly and Jenny Lenz attended the Chabad of Southampton Jewish Center’s 18th annual gala, which was held at the Bridgehampton home of Libbie Mugrabi… The gala, which honored Lieba Nesis… raised close to $1 million.” [NYPost]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Marciano Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 — by Yitz Applbaum: “Perfect. That is the only word that comes to mind when describing the Marciano Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. Both the experience of drinking this wine, which will be available for Passover 2020, and the Napa estate where the wine is produced induce nirvana. The floors of the Marciano Estate are clean enough to eat off of and the wine maker is part old European aristocracy and part modern genius. Spending time at the winery and tasting the 2017 barrel sample are experiences I will remember for life.”

“This wine is stunning. Bold. Adventurous. It coats the mouth in a film of ripe blueberries with the occasional protrusion of black plums. The finish of Bing cherries has been sustained on my palate for three days. This wine should be decanted for at least several hours.” [PicPic]

BIRTHDAYS: Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (2013-2017), Jacob Joseph ‘Jack’ Lew turns 64… Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1995-1999), Robert Rubin turns 81… Lakewood, California resident, Joe Lissakturns 85… Long-time movie and television actor, Elliott Gould turns 81… Hotel and real estate developer, co-founder of Ogden CAP Properties and co-founder of Dog Tag Bakery, Connie Milstein turns 73… Former Dean of Duke Law School, David F. Levi turns 68… Los Angeles resident, Warren B. Stern turns 67… Senior Counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, Amy L. Nathan turns 64…Director of operations at Kesher Israel in Georgetown, she was born in Havana, Cuba, Laura Kamer-Israel turns 59…

Journalist and former editor for The Jerusalem PostLisa Frydman Barrturns 55… Partner at DC-based HLP&R Advocacy, Jerr Rosenbaum turns 47… Election law guru in the DC office of Clark Hill PLC, Charles R. Spiesturns 47… Hip-hop fashion designer, entrepreneur and artist, Marc Ecko(born in Lakewood, NJ as Marc Milecofsky) turns 47… Head of School at Bnei Akiva Schools in Toronto, Rabbi Seth Grauer turns 41… Winner of the Tiberias Marathon in January 2019 with a time of 2:42, Haredi mother of five children, Bracha “Beatie” Deutsch turns 30… Associate director in the office of federal and regional affairs for DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser, Robin Rubin… Adam Shapiro

LABOR DAY WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: SVP and global head of communications for SoftBank, Gary L. Ginsberg turns 57 on Friday… Also on Friday, co-founder of the Maoz leadership network in Israel, Deborah Cogen Swartz turns 59… On Saturday, world renowned violinist and conductor, Itzhak Perlman turns 74… And on Sunday, Alan Dershowitz turns 81… The first Jewish speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus turns 60… Warner Bros. EVP for Comms, Dee Dee Myers turns 58… JINSA’s Harris Vederman turns 49… On Monday, TMZ’s Harvey Levin turns 69… Lions Gate Entertainment CEO Jon Feltheimer turns 68… Chicago serial entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky turns 50… Managing director of the Israeli office of Koch Disruptive Technologies, Eli Groner turns 49…

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