NEW BOOK — Former British Prime Minister David Cameron reflects on the Iran nuclear deal, the Middle East peace process and his relationship with Israel in a new book out today, titled For the Record.
Two-faced solution: In the book, Cameron expresses his disappointment that — during his tenure as prime minister from 2010-2016 — there was no progress in the Middle East peace process. If anything, he laments, it “went backwards.” According to the former Tory leader, the two-state solution shifted into a “two-faced solution,” in which Western leaders told the Israelis and Palestinians only what each wanted to hear. “I wanted to be tougher on both,” Cameron writes, while describing himself as a “friend of Israel.”
No, you can’t: Cameron puts part of the blame on former President Barack Obama. Obama, he writes, was “the most pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian president in history,” yet was reluctant “to take the risks in order to achieve peace.” Additionally, the former U.S. president was “distracted” by the Arab Spring and ”anything he did propose to put pressure on Israel was rejected by Congress.”
Believing Bibi: Cameron says he had hoped that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be able to make peace after agreeing to a settlement freeze in 2010. “Sometimes the most bullish figures make the best peace partners,” he writes, before coming to the conclusion that Netanyahu only “talked a good game.” Continued settlement expansion by the Israeli government, he says, made a two-state solution “less likely.”
Persuading Netanyahu to hold back on striking Iran: Cameron also details the efforts that took place to thwart a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities after it became clear that Israel would strike preemptively out of self-defense. “The country’s prime minister, Netanyahu, was constantly talking in apocalyptic terms,” he writes. “Defence Forces were rehearsing attacks. Obama knew that he had to convince Netanyahu that the U.S. would do the job better than the Israelis ever could, if all other measures failed and Tehran got too close to the red line.”
No action: At one point in the summer of 2012, Cameron recalls, Iran got a few months away from a bomb and there were increasing signs that Israel was preparing once again to strike in Iran. “To this day I’m not quite sure why Netanyahu didn’t act,” he ponders. [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE DAY — President Donald Trump is expected to address the U.N. General Assembly at 10 a.m. ET. [CSPAN]
New Iran deal:Trump responded positively to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposal to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran. “I respect Boris a lot and I am not surprised at all that he was the first one to come out and say that,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in New York. “Whatever your objections to the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal.” Trump didn’t rule out a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UNGA. “We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters earlier on Monday.
Summit sidelines: French President Emmanuel Macron met Monday with Rouhani in New York, and said he urged Iran to take steps to defuse tensions. “In the current situation, the path of de-escalation was narrow, but more necessary than ever, and that the time had come for Iran to take it,” his office said. Macron and Trump are slated to meet today.
Call me, maybe: Trump told reporters during a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that the U.S. doesn’t need France as mediator. “Iran wants to do something, and I don’t think we need a mediator,” Trump said of Macron’s efforts. “He’s a friend of mine, but we’re not looking for any mediators. They know who to call.”
Door is closed, says Zarif: But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on Sunday that Trump “closed the door to negotiations,” following the imposition of sanctions on Iran’s central bank on Friday. Zarif blamed the sanctions on the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “FDD, [its executive director] Mark Dubowitz, wanted to make sure neither this president nor his successor will be able to normalize relations with Iran,” Zarif said.
In response, Dubowitz tells JI:“In America, think tanks research, analyze and offer policy ideas. Elected officials and their deputies make the decisions. Mr. Zarif, having lived in America for so many years, might have been expected to be familiar with the customs of a free country. Apparently, he did not pay close attention. We will fully support normalization when the Islamic Republic of Iran acts like a normal nation and ends its support for terrorism and other destructive activities.”
HEARD YESTERDAY — Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Concordia Annual Summit at the Grand Hyatt New York: “[Trump] does not want to get into another war in the Middle East. He’s made that very clear. And so he’s doing things that he believes are effective… The sanctions against Iran are obviously effective or Iran would not be reacting in the way they are reacting and taking the risks in the region that they are taking. So I don’t know if the president needs to do a whole lot more than what he’s done so far.” [Video]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, in New York on Monday. The two discussed the Middle East peace process and the “obstacles” it faces along the road, according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
Word from Abbas: During a meeting with members of the Palestinian-American community in New York, Abbas said the PA boycott of the Trump administration will continue until the White House changes its policies toward the Palestinians. Abbas “affirmed the Palestinian position rejecting the U.S. dictation policy and decisions which he stressed are completely biased toward the Israeli side,” WAFA reported.
Another delay? A senior U.S. official was quoted as saying to Arutz Sheva that the rollout of the Trump peace plan “will be significantly delayed” due to the uncertainty of the next Israeli government makeup. A source with knowledge of the administration’s efforts told JI that no decision has been made yet.
Meet and greet: Trump envoys Ambassador David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt met with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at the U.S. Embassy branch office in Tel Aviv on Monday. The three discussed “the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, security challenges within the region and efforts to promote peace,” according to a readout shared by the embassy. [Pic]
Spotted by a JI reader: Canadian-Israeli tycoon Sylvan Adams met with Greenblatt at the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem. [Pic]
ROAD TO UNITY — Netanyahu and Gantz sat down for a meeting in Jerusalem on Monday for the first time since last week’s election. The leaders of Likud and Blue and White began the meeting in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin, but sat together for more than two hours after Rivlin departed. [Pic]
Me first: The two leaders are negotiating a unity government deal, but are reportedly locked in a dispute over who will serve first in a rotation agreement. After their meeting, Netanyahu and Gantz issued a brief statement that they had discussed “moving forward with unity.”
Mediator: Rivlin, according to his office, told the two leaders that “it is our responsibility to bring about a situation that will establish a government that will bring stability, dialogue and a closing of the rifts in our country.”
Sticking points: After the long meeting Monday night, both Netanyahu and Gantz reportedly told their supporters that they were not backing down on any key points. Netanyahu stressed that he represented the “entire nationalist camp” in the negotiations, while Gantz said he would not back down from his pledge to head the next government and not sit with Netanyahu.
Kingmaker: Before his meeting with Netanyahu, Gantz sat down with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, though few details were released. After the meeting, Lieberman said that the “whole argument now centers around who will serve as first and who second as the prime minister.”
Next steps: The negotiating teams of Likud and Blue and White are slated to hold a meeting today to discuss further deals of a unity deal. Gantz and Netanyahu said they will return to Rivlin’s office on Wednesday for another sit-down discussion.
TOP-OP — Daniel Gordis writes… “Benny Gantz can’t heal the rift between U.S. Jews and Israel: If and when even seemingly moderate Jewish Israeli voices object publicly to including Israel’s Arab Parliament members in the coalition, American Jews — imbued with America’s commitment to universalism — will most likely see a blemish in a democracy’s obligation to be ethnically blind… If the rift between American Jews and Israel is to be healed, salvation will come… in beginning an overdue conversation between the world’s two largest Jewish communities, to deepen our understanding of each other’s differences, successes and vulnerabilities.” [NYTimes]
ON THE TRAIL — Pete Buttigieg: College football is ‘problematic’ — by JI’s Ben Jacobs in Elkader, Iowa: Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg said he had moral qualms about being a college football fan and found it “problematic” on Monday. In response to a question from Jewish Insider about the issues with following a sport where unpaid athletes risk serious injury, Buttigieg said, “First, you need to look at what we owe students. Obviously the model says you get an education in exchange for contributing this way, plus the sport is supposed to be its own reward, but I don’t think that that’s really fair anymore.” [JewishInsider]
2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden tells donors: ‘I’m not going to take a punch and not punch back’ at President Trump… DNC raises the qualification threshold for November debate… Cory Booker’s campaign raised more than $500,000 as of Monday morning, following a campaign memo warning he might drop out without a fundraising surge… Ilhan Omar says Biden is not the candidate who will bring change…
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork turmoil puts spotlight on JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs [FinancialTimes] • SodaStream exec arrested on insider information suspicions [Globes] • Sheryl Sandberg outlines Silicon Valley’s plan to fight online extremism [CNN] • Israeli university nonprofit moving to 199 Water Street [CommercialObserver]
MORE BRIEFS: Tech moguls get approval for Israel’s first new bank in decades [Bloomberg] • Toby Moskovits plans her first big Bronx project [CommercialObserver] • In Israel, foodtech investment nearly tripled over five years [Calcalist] • Hot in merger talks with Partner [Globes]
Ultimate WeDeal: WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann has reportedly started talks with board directors and investors to work out a settlement that will keep him in the company with a more limited role after a group of investors attempted to vote on his dismissal. According to Reuters, Neumann is discussing whether he would transition into a chairman role and give up his position as CEO or remain as CEO but with an independent chairman joining the board. The board challenge has been put on hold until the talks produce an outcome, the report said.
BOOK SHELF — Two Jews and a gentile pen a book on Judaism — by JI’s Amy Spiro: A lot of people who pick up the new book A Field Guide to the Jewish People: Who They Are, Where They Come From, What to Feed Them…and Much More. Maybe Too Much More likely have the same question: Dave Barry is Jewish?
Take two: No, the award-winning humor columnist is not a member of the tribe. But that hasn’t stopped him from teaming up for the second time with Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel to pen an extremely Jewish book. After the success of 2017’s For This We Left Egypt?, Barry, Mansbach, the author of Go the Fuck to Sleep, and Zweibel, an Emmy Award-winning TV writer, joined together once again to write a hilarious, rambling, confusing and even occasionally insightful comprehensive guide to the Jews.
Back together: What made them reunite for this book? “You know, I have no other friends besides Dave and Alan,” jokes Mansbach, during a four-way conference call with Jewish Insider earlier this month. In many ways the phone interview mirrored the book, veering off in tangents, patched together by three different voices and causing this reporter to burst out laughing on multiple occasions.
True enough: Both the book and the conversation seamlessly weave together truthful information and sarcastic quips with complete fabrications and head-scratching assertions. For example, this entry in the chapter on Jewish lifecycle events: “In olden days it was traditional for the bride in a Jewish wedding to circle the groom seven times, once for each dwarf.” Or the comment that “Jews bury quickly. While other religions tend to wait upwards of a week to have a funeral, we often start making arrangements if a person merely oversleeps.”
Other projects: “We thought about doing a book on Presbyterian humor,” said Mansbach. “It ended up being more of a pamphlet,” added Zweibel. “It was actually the subject line of an email,” chimed in Barry, the son of a Presbyterian minister. Click here for the full interview, and the list of Jews the authors wish were not members of the tribe: [JewishInsider]
SPOTLIGHT — Real estate mogul’s son adds winery to North Fork acres — by Jennifer Gould Keil: “Stefan Soloviev — the 44-year-old son of real estate mogul Sheldon Solow — is buying the Peconic Bay Winery in October — adding to the roughly 150 acres of planted vines he already owned on the North Fork, located on the tip of Long Island… There are no wines for sale, yet Soloviev — who changed his name to the way it was before his Russian Jewish family immigrated to the US — must first hire a winemaker, who will oversee all 200 acres of vineyards, said Stacey Soloviev, his partner and ex-wife. The team is still ‘two or three years away’ from producing wines available for sale, said Stacey, the mother of 11 of Soloviev’s children.” [NYPost]
LIFE BEHIND BARS — Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is reportedly living “like a celebrity” in prison and acting like the “mayor” of the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution, according to Page Six. “He’s literally the mayor of the prison. He’s doing great,” Cohen’s attorney David Schwartz told the New York tabloid. “The other inmates call him ‘Mr. Mayor.’” Cohen also sent a note to Page Six over the weekend disputing a previous report that former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has taken on a new role of serving as his spiritual guru. “Omarosa is not my spiritual advisor (I’m Jewish),” Cohen wrote. [JewishInsider]
SPORTS BLINK — The battle to reform a soccer club notorious for racist fans reveals Israel’s deep divide — by Steven Zeitchik: “The hardcore supporters of Jerusalem’s Beitar soccer club are proud their team has never signed an Arab Muslim player… But in a striking move, a Tel Aviv tech magnate who bought the team last year is taking on La Familia. Moshe Hogeg has pledged to rid the fan base of racism and nativism… and signed an African player named Ali Mohamed. La Familia read that as a challenge, though Mohamed is actually Christian. Hogeg’s effort to remake Beitar Jerusalem and reform its fans has become a flash point in Israel’s class wars, which pit an old-line working class against the nouveau riche.” [WashPost]
CAMPUS BEAT — Columbia University is under fire again for inviting the notoriously antisemitic prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, to speak on campus Wednesday. In 2007, the university was condemned for hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger defended the invitation in a letter to student groups, including Students Supporting Israel. “This form of open engagement can sometimes be difficult, even painful,” Bollinger wrote, “But to abandon this activity would be to limit severely our capacity to understand and confront the world as it is, which is a central and utterly serious mission for any academic institution.”
TALK OF THE TOWN — The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia is expected to launch the first-ever exhibition on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg next month. “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” open Oct. 4 through Jan. 12, 2020, promises “an entertaining and deeply personal look at key moments” from Ginsburg’s life.
Central Park scene: A ‘Yiddish for Dogs’ class was held in Central Park on Sunday by the Workmen’s Circle. Dogs and their owners learned how to respond to commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ in Yiddish, according to ABC’s “Eyewitness News.”
ACROSS THE POND — U.K. Labour Party adopts anti-Israel agenda — by JI’s Sam Zieve-Cohen: The U.K.’s Labour Party formally adopted on Tuesday a slew of anti-Israel agenda items as part of its party platform for the next general election. The opposition party, which has recently faced numerous accusations of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, appeared to only wade deeper into controversy.
On the fourth day of the 2019 Labour conference in Brighton, delegates voted to support a boycott of Israeli settlement goods, and called for a moratorium on trade agreements with the Jewish state. This appeared to be the first time the party has formally adopted a BDS policy. According to reports, the nearly unanimous vote followed audible shouts of “Free Palestine” throughout the event space.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber denounced the move, calling the Labour party a “home for anti-Jewish racists and Israel haters.” [JewishInsider]
LONG READ — Poland’s ruling party puts an extraordinary museum of Polish-Jewish history into limbo — by Masha Gessen: “[Dariusz] Stola may or may not be the director of Warsaw’s Polin, the museum of the history of Polish Jews, which opened in 2014 and is probably the most ambitious and successful new museum in Eastern or Central Europe in a decade. Stola hasn’t been at work since the end of February. He told me that he still hopes to return… the question of his reappointment as the director of Polin has been the subject of a protracted, highly politicized battle.” [NewYorker]
WHEN IN ROME — Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were among the prominent attendees at the wedding of fashion designer Misha Nonoo and oil company heir Michael Hess at the 17th century Villa Aurelia in Rome on Friday. Nonoo was the matchmaker who introduced Markle to Harry. [Pics]
MEETING OF MINDS — Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, met with alumni of the Israel Collaboration Network’s SV101 immersion program earlier this week. [Pic]
TRANSITIONS — New York attorney Rachel Sims has been appointed as the Orthodox Union’s first general counsel. In her new role, Sims will manage the OU’s legal and compliance work.
Avinoam Bar-Yosef, the president and founding director of the Jewish People Policy Institute, will step down in the fall of 2020. JPPI has assembled a search committee to choose Bar-Yosef’s replacement.
BIRTHDAYS: Retired Israeli diplomat who served as Israel’s ambassador to Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Rafael Eldad turns 70… CEO of American Media, David Pecker turns 68… Attorney and former Judge Advocate, Michael Alan Weiss turns 66… CEO at The MAI Group, William Gross turns 60… President of Princeton University, Christopher L. Eisgruber turns 58… EVP of governmental affairs at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Chanina Sperlin turns 56…
Professor at University College London and non-executive director at Warner Music Group, she is a great-granddaughter of former British Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz, Noreena Hertz turns 52… Executive director of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, Jessica Schumer turns 35… Political reporter at The Associated Press, Alexandra Jaffe turns 30… Actor, singer and songwriter, Ben Platt turns 26…