Daily Kickoff

According to Poland’s president, Israel’s Foreign Minister deserves blame for uptick in Polish antisemitism


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HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Polish president suggests Israel is responsible for recent antisemitic attacks in Poland — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Polish President Andrzej Duda blamed an uptick in recent antisemitic attacks in Poland on Israeli rhetoric during a meeting at the Polish Consulate in New York on Wednesday with American Jewish leaders.  

According to several participants in the meeting, Duda said Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s comments earlier this year about Polish antisemitism were a “humiliation” and were the reason for an increase in antisemitic attacks against Jews in Poland. The Polish leader also told the group — which included representatives from AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League — that people in his country had advised him not to travel to Israel until Katz apologizes for the comment. 

A kerfuffle broke out over the president’s comments, according to two witnesses at the meeting who described the scene to JI. Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg, who was recently awarded Poland’s Order of Merit, defended the president’s comments and stated that Israeli Jews “like Israel Katz” are responsible for the rise in antisemitism. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, according to the source, cut Mosberg off, saying he couldn’t let his comments go unchallenged. [JewishInsider]

View from Jerusalem: 
Blue and White’s Yair Lapid tweeted Friday morning: “No Mr. Duda, Israel is not responsible for antisemitic attacks in Poland. The people responsible are antisemitic Poles, like those who aided the murderers of Jews in the Holocaust 70 years ago.”

The Polish Embassy released a statement from the president’s spokesperson, Blazej Spychalski, saying, “The quote is not only inaccurate. It is plainly not true. President Duda never said that ‘Israel is responsible for recent anti-Semitic attacks in Poland.’ All participants of the said meeting can corroborate this. The ‘Jewish Insider‘ made this up.”

Worth noting: The embassy statement did not address Duda’s alleged accusation against Katz himself.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — who is at the center of the ongoing impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump — also met with representatives from Jewish organizations on Wednesday. According to a statement released by his office, Zelensky — who is Jewish — asked the communal leaders to help attract U.S. and Israeli investors to Ukraine. He also expressed his commitment to combating antisemitism. [Pic]

HEARD AT UNGA — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to cancel all diplomatic agreements with Israel if the next government applies Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. In his remarks, Abbas also accused the U.S. of “supporting the Israeli aggression against us,” and said that U.S. policy is “pushing large segments of the Palestinian people to lose hope in the possibility of long-awaited peace.” He declared that Trump’s peace plan “is rejected, is rejected, is rejected.”

New face at the marble podium: Later in the day, in his debut appearance at the U.N., Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz implored world leaders to support Trump’s “maximum pressure policy” against Iran. “We must stop Iran today, in order to prevent war tomorrow,” he said. 

Calling out hypocrisy: Katz also blasted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for comparing Israel’s Gaza policies to the Nazi treatment of the Jews. “I want to say to him: You that brutally opress the Turkish people, slaughter the Kurdish minority and support the terror organization Hamas, you are the last one that can lecture Israel,” Katz said. “You are not the Sultan and Turkey is not the Ottoman Empire. Shame on you.” 

ROAD TO UNITY — Negotiation teams from Likud and Blue and White metagain Friday morning in Jerusalem in an attempt to reach a unity coalition deal. But the two delegations couldn’t even agree on how to begin the meeting, as Blue and White objected to Likud inviting media to the event for a photo-op. 

No flexibility: Likud officials indicated that the party has no intention of entering the government without the rest of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox bloc, which Blue and White is unlikely to ever agree to. Despite meeting for more than four hours, neither side appeared remotely optimistic Friday afternoon.

Third election? Likud Minister Yariv Levin said whoever “thwarts” building a unity government will be responsible for triggering a third election. And Blue and White laid the blame for that possibility squarely with Likud, saying that Netanyahu wants a third vote and that’s why he’s refusing to drop his preconditions for a unity deal.

Legal spotlight: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s much-delayed pre-indictment hearing is scheduled for next week in Jerusalem. Netanyahu appealed on Thursday to have the hearing broadcast live on television, but his request was denied by the attorney general.

ACROSS THE POND — Deputy Labour leader planned to chastise party over antisemitism — by JI’s Sam Zieve Cohen: Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, found himself under siege by his own party this past week. On Tuesday, Watson was scheduled to speak at Labour’s conference in Brighton, but chose to withdraw at the last minute. The cancellation came after a weekend of turmoil for Watson, who faced an insurrection by allies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn plotting to unseat him. After the failed rebellion, some conference-goers planned a dramatic walk-out during Watson’s speech. But they never had the chance. His speaking slot was instead taken by Corbyn.

After the cancellation, Watson confirmed in an interview with The Jewish Chronicle that he had planned to chastise his own party for multiple incidents of antisemitism in recent years. “In my speech I was going to say that it is not just about being anti-racist, even if you mean it,” Watson claimed. [JewishInsider]

Jenny Manson, co-chair of Jewish Voice for Labour, is set to speak at an anti-racism event on Yom Kippur eve. Manson has previously downplayed reports of a rise in antisemitism in Labour under Corbyn. 

TOP-OP — Former Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky writes… “Why BDS fails my 3D test on antisemitism:If we watch a 3D movie without 3D glasses, we see a blurred, partial picture. But when we put on our 3D glasses everything becomes clear — and when we use the 3D test for antisemitism we can easily distinguish between legitimate criticism and antisemitism… My 3D test shows that if we see these same tools of delegitimization, demonization and double standards that were used against Jews in the past being used against the collective Jew, the Jewish State, today — we know we are witnessing a new face of the old antisemitism.” [Newsweek]

The Hudson Institute’s Douglas J. Feith writes: “Proceed with caution on a defense pact with Israel: American and Israeli officials have long refrained from negotiating a mutual defense treaty because it was judged unnecessary and potentially harmful to both countries. Israelis worried mainly about their own freedom of action; they didn’t want to have to ask U.S. permission before taking steps to defend their state. U.S. officials didn’t want to have to grant or deny such permission — or to ‘own’ Israeli military operations.” [WSJ]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sat down for a conversation with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the inaugural lecture of the Christie Institute for Public Policy (CIPP) at Seton Hall law school in Newark, New Jersey. Cuomo criticized the impeachment inquiry into the president, and said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi only launched it because she was “dealing with pressure from her caucus.”

2020 BRIEFS — Anxious Joe Biden allies may unleash Super PAC… Biden advisors weigh new Wall Street tax as Warren, Sanders pitch aggressive levies on wealthy… Biden gives donors reading from Ukraine whistle-blower complaint… Hillary Clinton predicts ‘illegitimate president’ Trump will lose in 2020… 

LOOK TO THE PAST — The art of the political cameo — by Tyler Foggatt: “In the early nineties, [Martin Guigui] turned on C-Span and saw Sanders, by now a congressman, giving a speech. ‘Bernie’s delivery,’ Guigui said. ‘It just struck me — it reminded me of a rabbi.’ Guigui got to work on a script. Three years later, they filmed at a Holiday Inn Express near Lake Champlain, in Vermont. Sanders came dressed in a blue suit and a red tie. ‘The costumer said, ‘You look perfect. Don’t change a thing,’’ Guigui recalled. Sanders, all business, pointed out some typos in the script. ‘And he brought his own yarmulke!’ Guigui said. ‘That was a detail I hadn’t put in.’” [NewYorker]

** Good Friday 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: Ari Emanuel’s Entertainment group Endeavor shelves plan for IPO [FinancialTimes• Joel Gluck’s Israeli bond issuance falls through as Williamsburg rental project faces financing crunch [RealDeal] • Israel’s Elbit Systems wins $85 mln U.S. Navy contract [Reuters• Len Blavatnik to inject NIS 100 million into Reshet 13 [Globes] • Ruby Schron lands $500M refi for sprawling Queens apartment portfolio [RealDeal]

NO WE CAN’T — The fallout from the resignation of WeWork CEO Adam Neumann continued on Thursday. The company has halted signing any new leases with property owners, the Financial Times reported. According to the Wall Street Journal, WeWork is moving to purge nearly 20 friends and family members of Neumann and his wife, Rebekah, from the company. The WSJ report also said the firm is going to cut thousands of jobs and sell its private jet. Reuters reported that Neumann actually cast a vote against himself during the company’s board of directors meeting earlier this week. 

BOOK SHELF — Jonathan Safran Foer wants you to stop eating meat — by JI’s Melissa Weiss: What if making one specific decision every day could contribute to saving the planet? Author Jonathan Safran Foer argues just that in his new book, We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast. Foer spoke with Jewish Insider about the book, the Jewish case for combating climate change, and how lowering human consumption of animal-based products may be the key to saving the environment. Foer, a vegetarian since childhood, argues that cutting out animal-derived products is one of the greatest, most immediate things any individual can do to reduce their carbon footprint. [JewishInsider 

SPOTLIGHT — Caltech gets $750 million for climate research from Resnicks — by Shelby Grad: “Billionaire California agriculture titans Stewart and Lynda Resnick have donated $750 million to Cal Tech for climate change research in what officials say is the second-largest gift to a U.S. academic institution… The Resnicks are among Los Angeles’ wealthiest individuals and socialites. They are L.A. arts patrons and owners of POM Wonderful and other agricultural brands… In a news release, the family said they hoped their donation would make a difference.” [LATimesNYTimes]

Meet the Soviet-born businessmen tangled in Trump’s impeachment inquiry. They live in Florida — by Nicholas Nehamas, Kevin G. Hall, Tess Riski and Ben Wieder: “Two South Florida businessmen from the former Soviet Union could find themselves dragged into an impeachment inquiry targeting President Donald Trump over their political activities in Ukraine. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were cited — although not by name — in a government whistleblower complaint released Thursday alleging improper behavior by the president. Parnas and Fruman helped introduce Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, into top Ukrainian political circles, according to widespread media accounts.” [MiamiHerald]

Say Hallelujah and pass the remote — by Joanne Kaufman: “Temple Israel, a Reform synagogue in suburban Detroit, undertook a substantial renovation a few years ago. The makeover included a spruced-up atrium and social hall, new display cases, and the installation of two video screens flanking the pulpit. The screens made their debut in 2017 during Rosh Hashana services with a slideshow designed to underscore the theme of Rabbi Jen Lader’s sermon. The medium-is-the-message topic: the role of technology in enhancing communal experiences. ‘It felt risky to use the screens as the foundation of a High Holiday service,’ Rabbi Lader said. ‘But the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with people saying they understood things in a completely different way.’” [WSJ]

PROFILE — The Palestinian entrepreneur bringing power to Gaza:“When Palestinian entrepreneur Majd Mashharawi left Gaza for the first time in 2017, she counted herself lucky… during her visit to Japan, what most caught her eye were the lights in the streets. The Palestinian enclave she comes from is notorious for its power cuts. Mashharawi, 25, decided to do something about the problem on her return to Gaza. Her solution was to launch SunBox, a company that aims to create access to energy by providing, among other things, affordable, off-grid solar kits to families.” [TheGuardian]

INTERVIEW — Lew Wolff, CEO of Wolff Urban Development, discussed his interest in investing in the Yavneh Day School in Los Gatos in an interview with George Avalos for the Mercury News: “I’m very active in Yavneh Day School, which is a Jewish school in Los Gatos. Two of my grandchildren went there. It’s a great school, it gives the kids a sense of community. I’m striving to help that school grow. I would like to see that school become more diverse, to reach out to all children of all religions… The school plays an important role in Silicon Valley not just because of its robust academics, but because of its community engagement. The school, for example, has an annual day of coding where it hosts kids from any school in the area to learn how to code. It’s a vital part of who we are as a region, and it’s important that youth begin to understand how to work together in this way.” [MercuryNews]

HOLLYWOOD — Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made 9 figures each in huge ‘Seinfeld’-to-Netflix deal — by Tim Baysinger and Tony Maglio: “With their mega-’Seinfeld’-to-Netflix deal, which insiders have valued at $500 million-plus, co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld continue to make huge money on a show that last aired a new episode during the Clinton administration. Both David and Seinfeld stand to make nine figures each.” [TheWrap]

In praise of ‘Transparent’s Shelly Pfefferman, the underappreciated Jewish mother — by Jami Attenberg: “It takes nearly 19 minutes for Shelly Pfefferman to show up onscreen in the ‘Transparent’ pilot, with a sensible, short gray haircut, offering to cut some cantaloupe for her daughter, Ali. The scene lasts less than two minutes. This is how we will see Shelly for most of the first season: on the fringes, Jewish-mothering, or at least performing the tasks of a Jewish mother… She’s a nicknamer, a pincher, a squisher, and a noodge, too. She frets over how other Jews might judge her actions or lifestyle. When her husband, Ed, disappears during episode five, she is less worried about finding him than seeming like she isn’t worried, at least in the eyes of the soon-to-be-visiting rabbi: ‘I’ll be the talk of the temple, the lady who lost her husband.’” [Vulture]

TALK OF THE NATION — The Anti-Defamation League added the “OK” hand gesture to its online database of hate symbols used by white supremacists on Thursday. “Even as extremists continue to use symbols that may be years or decades old, they regularly create new symbols, memes and slogans to express their hateful sentiments,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. The ADL also added the “Dylann Roof Bowlcut,” an image of the hairstyle worn by the white supremacist who killed nine people at the Charleston church in 2015.

WINE OF THE WEEK — Beracha Rkatsiteli 2016 — by Yitz Applbaum: “I recently visited Georgia, a beautiful country nestled between Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia. The purpose of my visit was not to taste wine, but rather to help discover ways of bringing the spirit of entrepreneurship from Israel to underdeveloped, though talent-filled, Georgia. Imagine my great surprise when I discovered Georgia boasts the earliest wine production in history, many thousands of years of continuous production. There is a bustling and robust wine industry to this day. The grapes are not grapes that I am familiar with, but the beauty of the wine mirrors the beauty of the country.”

“The Beracha Rkatsiteli 2016 is a stark wine. It hits your front-palate with a tartness which is almost like tannin from a red wine. By the time the taste gets to your mid-palate it has a Chenin blanc texture and distinct cheeriness. The finish is a magnificent blend of citrus and sherry. The wine is approachable and it tasted great with all of the local cuisine. The wine enhanced the flavors of each dish. Drink this wine with Khachapuri, a pizza-like dish which melts in your mouth and pairs brilliantly with this wine.” [BerachaWine]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, Fred Singer turns 95… Former director of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate (1979-1983), member of Knesset (1988-1992) and later Israel’s ambassador to the Philippines, Yehoshua Sagi turns 86… Investor and pioneer in the commercial real estate industry, Sam Zell (born Shmuel Zielonka) turns 78… Co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank turns 77… Of counsel, antitrust and business litigator at the Locke Lord law firm, Stephen J. Landes turns 74…

Board member of the Milken Family Foundation, Ellen Sandler turns 70… Senior Washington correspondent for i24 News, Dan Raviv turns 65… Former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Jeffrey M. Lacker turns 64… President of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers Public Relations, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum turns 63… Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and married to a Minneapolis rabbi, Frank Hornstein turns 60… Comedian and author, Marc Maron turns 56…

Member of the House of Representatives since 2005, Debbie Wasserman Schultz turns 53… Publisher and editor-in-chief at Dallas Jewish MonthlyJudy Tashbook-Safern turns 53… Strategic advisor on programming and projects in the Middle East and North Africa for America Abroad MediaJoseph Braude turns 45… Former State Treasurer of Ohio (2011-2019), Josh Mandel turns 42… Architect, entrepreneur and author, Marc Kushner turns 42… Senior consultant at Deloitte, Alexa Wertman Brown turns 29…

SATURDAY: Scottish television producer and executive, Sir Jeremy Isaacsturns 87… Swiss-born Governor of Vermont from 1985 to 1991 (the first Jewish woman elected to govern any state), Madeleine May Kunin turns 86… Physician and theoretical biologist, a former MacArthur fellow, Stuart Kauffman turns 80… Former President of Warner Home Video, Warren Lieberfarb turns 76… French businessman, Alain Wertheimer turns 71… Brooklyn, N.Y. native, Jerry Weiss turns 65… Teaneck, New Jersey-based real estate attorney, Gary E. Miller turns 63…

Pediatrician and author of the book “Winning A Debate with An Israel Hater” about the fight against BDS, Dr. Michael Harris turns 61… Bestselling author and magazine journalist, Ben Greenman turns 50… Winner of four Olympic gold medals for the USA in swimming in 2000 and 2004, Leonid “Lenny” Krayzelburg turns 44… High school math teacher in the Miami-Dade County public schools, Hadassa Levenson turns 30… Social secretary at the Israeli Embassy in DC, Ayelet Cohen turns 27…

SUNDAY: MIT professor and 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, Rainer Weiss turns 87… Retired CEO of Southern California-based LinQuest Corporation, Leon Biederman Ph.D. turns 72… Director of Regional Affairs and Development at AIPAC, Brian Shankman turns 47… Candidate for a graduate degree in urban planning at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Aron Chilewich turns 28… Associate at DC-based S-3 Public Affairs, Shawn Pasternak turns 27… Film and television actress best known for her role in the ABC comedy “The Neighbors,” Clara Mamet turns 25…

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