Daily Kickoff

The Mooch’s message to Israeli leaders | AOC’s counterpart in Israel | Schwarzman’s chutzpah

AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

Stav Shaffir leaves a bar after meeting voters in Tel Aviv on Feb. 26, 2015.

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JI INTERVIEW — Scaramucci: Trump is not a true friend of the State of Israel — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: Former White House communications director Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci has a message for Israeli leaders: Be careful not to get too chummy with President Donald Trump, “because he burned everybody.”

Fairweather friend: “If you’re an Israeli politician, be careful because you think he’s your friend. He’s not your friend,” Scaramucci said in an interview with Jewish Insider on Friday. “He’s only using you for his own self-interest. And the minute you no longer become useful to him, he will drop you like a hot potato in a very detached, narcissistic way.”

Booting Bolton: The former West Wing staffer said the firing of National Security Advisor John Bolton last week is “just a continuation of the pathological mania of [Trump’s] personality… If you’re getting better press than him, if you’re better-looking than him or if you’re more talented than him, he’ll try to drop you in his personal fire to appease himself. He makes sacrifices of loyal people into the Trump personal volcano because he has very low self-esteem.” 

Eye on 2020: Scaramucci told JI he is dedicated to defeating Trump in 2020, and is confident the president will be replaced by another Republican on the ballot next year. “I predict that I will be supporting the Republican nominee in November of 2020 and that Republican will not be Donald Trump.” But Scaramucci is not yet ready to commit to any of the current challengers. 

Click here for the full interview and Scaramucci’s view on his relationship with Orthodox Jews: [JewishInsider]

JI PROFILE — Can AOC’s Israeli counterpart build Israel’s version of the Democratic Party? — by JI’s Amy Spiro: Israelis have a choice in this week’s election between an anarchist halachic state and a liberal democracy, argues left-wing Israeli lawmaker Stav Shaffir. “I think today, the differences between the democratic Israel and those on the right is very clear,” Shaffir told Jewish Insider during an interview last week at a cafe in south Tel Aviv. “On the right, what they want is an anarchist revolution, a libertarian halacha state and annexation of the West Bank.” Those on the left, she continued, “understand that we need to have a border between us and the Palestinians, we need a two-state solution to keep Israel Jewish and democratic — to all of its citizens, Jews and Arabs — and we need to stop the Orthodox monopoly on every bit of our religion.”  

Liberal luminary: Shaffir, 34, is one of the more recognizable figures on the Israeli left, and it’s not just because of her fire-red hair. She first rose to public fame as one of the leaders of the 2011 social justice protests, which oversaw tent cities popping up across Israel to protest high housing costs. In 2013, at age 27, she was elected to the Labor Party, becoming the youngest female member of Knesset in history. After the April elections, Shaffir competed in the Labor leadership primary, and lost to former Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Several weeks after that vote, Shaffir left Labor and resigned as an MK to join with Meretz and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to form the Democratic Union, taking the party’s number two spot. 

On the U.S.-Israel relationship: Netanyahu has “made Israel a partisan issue in the United States,” she said. “He failed to create that sense of brotherhood with our brothers and sisters in the United States… An Israeli prime minister needs to have a good relationship with every American president,” Shaffir said, but Netanyahu has burned bridges with Democrats, including with his “stupid move” to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). “I completely disagree with what [those congresswomen] say, but every congressman and woman should be invited to Israel regardless of their opinions,” Shaffir said. “It’s better to have them come and visit, and meet Israelis, to see how things are here. To see that Israel is not exactly the way that the BDS people describe it to them.” 

Regarding BDS on college campuses: “I hear the same things in colleges — they think that all of Israelis are like Netanyahu, they think that Israelis are racist. But when young Jewish Americans get the real picture of what Israel is, then they understand the complexity that we have here in the political discourse… Those who are now in college, in 10 years will be in Congress. And we need them to understand Israel and the complexity of it.”

On building a Democratic Party: “I’m trying to do everything in my power to build connections with the [U.S.] Democrats as well… I think that we have a lot in common. I think that we and Democrats all around the world are now facing a threat to democracy. And that threat comes from the populist front on the right, which uses racism, incitement and fear as their main political tools.” Shaffir says her party will reach out to the Democratic Party and “do everything to keep Israel a bipartisan issue in the States.”

On comparisons to AOC: “I see everything that she’s doing because people send it to me and say ‘look what your sister is doing,’” joked Shaffir. “I think she’s doing really important work, and I think the young generation of Democrats [around the world] should work together on many issues.” Shaffir said while she’s heard Ocasio-Cortez speak about Israel, “I would like her to visit Israel and see what Israel really is — not just through the lens of those over there who try to portray Israel in a certain way.”

Click here for the full profile and Shaffir’s thoughts on her controversial colleague, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak: [JewishInsider]

TRUMP TWEETS — Trump gave Netanyahu another potential boost in the remaining days before the Israeli elections. In a Saturday morning tweet, Trump said that he told Netanyahu during a phone conversation that he will support a U.S.-Israel mutual defense treaty “that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries.” 

Date scheduled: The president also revealed that the two will meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, assuming Netanyahu will travel to New York after the election. 

Pact details: Netanyahu described the defense pact as “historic” and “great” in TV interviews on Saturday evening. “I’m going to get us a defense pact that will provide us with security for centuries, but for that I need your votes,” Netanyahu declared to voters. Netanyahu’s chief rival, Benny Gantz, assailed the idea as a “grave mistake,” arguing it would strip Israel of military autonomy. 

Credit: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — who along with the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) pushed for the U.S. to enter into a mutual defense agreement with Israel — welcomed the presidential declaration. 

Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff tweeted“If this is the grand pre-election gesture Netanyahu was counting on from POTUS, it must fall short of expectations. A phone call to ‘discuss the possibility’ of a treaty is unlikely to inspire too many voters to switch from some other party to Likud.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro wrote that anyone who favors a U.S.-Israel defense pact “should be appalled by Trump’s cheap politicization of the idea in a lame pre-election tweet.” 

Flashback: Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk noted that former President Bill Clinton made the same offer to Ehud Barak in 2000. 

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Netanyahu convened his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday in the Jordan Valley to approve legal status for the outpost of Mevo’ot Yericho. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was first opposed to the move, but gave his backing after Netanyahu convinced him that the Trump peace plan would likely put such outposts at risk for evacuation and “that there is urgency in the decision to establish the settlement by the government at this time.” 

On Monday morning, Netanyahu vowed to also annex the Kiryat Arba settlement and the Jewish neighborhood of Hebron during a radio interview. 

Around the corner: Netanyahu told cabinet ministers that Trump’s peace plan rollout is expected “within days” of Tuesday’s election. However, outgoing White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said last week, as reported by Jewish Insider, that the administration has yet to make a decision whether to release the plan before the formation of a new government. 

Where’s the map? Yamina Chairwoman Ayelet Shaked urged Netanyahu on Sunday to share the details of Trump’s peace plan with the Israeli public, after her party released an alleged “map” that depicts more than 90% of the West Bank as under Palestinian control and divides Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s spokesperson called the map “fake news.” A U.S. official told The Jerusalem Post that the map posted by former minister Naftali Bennett “and his claim that this represents the vision for peace of the Trump administration — [are] highly inaccurate.” 

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — John McLaughlin — Netanyahu’s pollster who also works for Trump — suggested in an interview on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Friday that Benny Gantz’s pollster Joel Benenson is part of a group of former Obama officials determined to defeat Netanyahu “so they can get the Iran deal back. It’s so transparent.” 

SUNDAY TALK — Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh following an event in Brooklyn, New York: “I don’t think that the president of the U.S. ought to get involved in in the Israeli election the same way the Israeli prime minister shouldn’t get involved in the American elections. In a democracy, the country needs to stand on its own, and [Netanyahu] ought to stand on his own.” 

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on CBS’s “Face the Nation”: “I certainly hope that the people of Israel make a different decision. And my hope is that they recognize that his existence, his policies, his rhetoric really is contradictory to the peace that we are all hoping that that region receives and receives soon. Just right now if you look at the annexation that’s taking place — for many of us in Congress there has been long-standing support for its two-state solution and this annexation now is going to make sure that that peace process does not happen.” [Video]


• Daniel Gordis writes… The Netanyahu show is finally fizzling out
• The Times: Netanyahu’s threat to annex West Bank crash-lands at home
• AFPA look at the corruption scandals facing Israel’s Netanyahu
• NYTimes: Ugly breakup of Israel’s odd couple could turn an election
• WaPo’s Jackson Diehl writes If Netanyahu wins Israel’s election, the Mideast doomsayers may finally be proved right
• Reuters: Netanyahu sharpens focus on settlements, two days before ballot
• Financial Times: Lieberman challenges Netanyahu’s hold on the right
• WSJ: Netanyahu’s alliance with Trump tests Israel’s bond with U.S. Jews

It’s all about turnout: Israeli Arab political leaders are trying to raise turnout after a record-low showing in April… Netanyahu has made Arabs a focal point of his campaign… Yardena Schwartz details why Netanyahu fears Arab voters… 

A do or die for Haredi parties: Israel’s ultra-Orthodox mobilize in a fight for the soul of the Jewish state in knife-edge election… How ultra-Orthodox perks set the election agenda… 

What the tech community thinks: OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved explained in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest that the Israeli tech sector has proven in the past it could withstand this level of uncertainty if there’s a deadlock in the results. “It’s really as though the Israeli tech industry is completely orthogonal to what goes on geopolitically,” he said. 

Hot take — Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg writes… “The truth about Bibi, Israel’s very dispensable man: Netanyahu isn’t a strategic genius who remade Israel’s position in the world. He’s a communications genius who was in the right place at the right time and expertly recast that coincidence into a campaign credo.” [Tablet]

TALK OF THE REGION — Strikes on oil plants in Saudi Arabia over the weekend have inflamed tensions and prompted finger-pointing as oil prices soared. The coordinated strikes knocked out more than half of the Saudi oil output, which is more than 5% of the global supply. On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the airstrikes, a charge it denied. On Sunday evening, Trump tweeted — without naming Iran — that the U.S. has “reason to believe that we know” who is responsible for the attack and that the country is “locked and loaded depending on verification.”

Eli Lake writes… “If Trump continues to pursue negotiations with Iran’s regime, he will be inviting more attacks on America’s allies. This is exactly the strategy — and the consequences — followed and paid by his predecessor, Barack Obama, in his second term.” [Bloomberg]

IRAN TALKS — Iran on Monday ruled out the possibility of a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this month. “Neither is such an event on our agenda, nor will it happen,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi in remarks carried by state TV. “Such a meeting will not take place.”

The Iranian statement came just a day after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump may still meet Rouhani in New York. “The conditions must always be right for this president to make a deal or take a meeting,” she said. Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Friday that Israel has received reassurances that the U.S. will not grant Iran any sanctions relief even if such a meeting takes place. 

Trump tweeted on Sunday evening: “The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)” 

Visa ban: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chair, said in an interview on “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd: “I would say we should deny the visas for the Iranian delegates who are planning on coming into the United States — into New York — next week” for the General Assembly. 


COMING SOON — The Jewish Leadership Conference (JLC) aims to develop a new political and cultural vision for American Jewry. The 3rd Annual Conference on Jews and Conservatism will take place on November 10 in New York. Join Henry Kissinger, Judge Neomi Rao, Yoram Hazony, Malcolm Hoenlein, R’ Meir Soloveichik, Ruth Wisse, John Podhoretz, and many more. Legendary Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz will receive this year’s Herzl Prize. REGISTER HERE.


2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden delivered on Sunday his most significant speech yet on race, says silence on hate ‘is complicity’… Biden’s rivals learn that attacks only made him stronger… Bernie Sanders bashes Biden, embraces Trump supporter during Nevada campaign stop… Kamala Harris was ready to brawl from the beginning… Andrew Yang ‘forgives’ new ‘SNL’ comic Shane Gillis for ‘Jew ch–k’ slur… Bill de Blasio still thinks he has a shot at the White House

** Good Monday 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: Bob Iger departs board of Apple, Disney’s new streaming competitor [NYTimes• Takedown by Elliott’s Paul Singer of AT&T is on the money [FinancialTimes] • WeWork IPO spells rough landing for CEO Adam Neumann [Reuters• Seth Klarman’s Baupost poised to cash in on PG&E insurance bet [WSJ

MORE BRIEFS: New York uncovers $1 billion in Sackler family wire transfers [NYTimes] • Purdue Pharma files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy [NYTimes• Treasury plans canceling VAT exemption on online imports [Globes] • Blackstone seals $4.7bn deal to buy Canada’s Dream Global Reit [FinancialTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — Stephen Schwarzman’s lifelong audacity — by Miriam Gottfried: “Mr. Schwarz­man’s chutz­pah has helped him de­velop a side ca­reer as a solver of other peo­ple’s prob­lems, in­clud­ing those of the past two U.S. pres­i­dents. From a young age, he has had few qualms about ap­proach­ing au­thor­ity fig­ures—in­clud­ing the colonel in charge of his Army Re­serve unit and the dean of Har­vard Busi­ness School—and point­ing out prob­lems at their or­ga­ni­za­tions.’” [WSJ]

Israel prepares to unleash AI on health care — by Dov Lieber: “The government last year announced a $264 million initiative to begin to combine those millions of records into a giant unified system, one that takes decades of individual patients’ information and puts it all in the same format so medical data looks the same across all health-care institutions…. Israel’s plans rely on patients giving their consent for their clinical data to be transferred from the HMOs to the government system. Patients who agree will be asked to supply genetic information and other additional data as well.” [WSJ]

INTERVIEW — David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery, talked about his Jewish roots and the launch of a new series with Steven Spielberg in an interview with i24News: “‘I love Israel, Tel Aviv is fantastic… When you go to Israel there’s just a tremendous amount of energy, technology and IP.’ …Famed Holocaust survivor, author Elie Wiesel was a significant influence on Zaslav as he ‘stood for that pure ideal, that we as Jews should stand up for everyone… because those around us did not stand up for us.’ Zaslav also elaborated on a new documentary series he is launching in October with director Steven Spielberg, named ‘Why We Hate.’ ‘Conditions today are very similar to what the conditions were in the 20s and early 30s,’ said Zaslav.” [I24News]

HOLLYWOOD — Hitler comedy ‘Jojo Rabbit’ primed for Oscars after winning top Toronto award — by Benjamin Lee: “Second World War comedy ‘Jojo Rabbit’ has won this year’s people’s choice award at the Toronto film festival, a prize that’s seen by many as a major predictor of Oscar success. The film, which follows a young German boy who turns his idol Adolf Hitler into an imaginary friend, is written and directed by Taika Waititi, who also stars in the film.” [TheGuardian]

PROFILE — How one photographer captured burning issues across the Israeli-Palestinian divide — by Tamir Kalifa: “I lived in the town of Beit Awwa in the southern West Bank for almost a month across seven visits between November 2017 and April 2019. I photographed the burns [from e-waste recycling efforts], the Palestinians affected by them, and the broader e-waste sector… To me — an American-Israeli who grew up between the D.C. suburbs of Maryland and Israel — the burns, the noble attempt to stop them, the little-known e-waste sector and the community enduring despite the circumstances defied the common tropes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It felt like a story worth telling.” [NYTimes]

Torah students who choose the army reveal Israel’s bitter divide — by Oliver Holmes: “[Yehuda Meshi-Zahav] was one of the first Haredi rabbis to promote the idea of serving in the army, and his son, Netanel Meshi-Zahav, has just left a Haredi paratrooper unit. The 22-year-old spent a lot of his time helping so-called ‘lone soldiers,’ men whose families had abandoned them. As his father had embraced mainstream Israeli society, he knew both sides, and also acted as an aide to non-religious officers who might not understand the Haredi background… With time, the soldiers caught up and, he boasts, Haredi units now often win many army sporting competitions… Meshi-Zahav’s family supports him but he feels the pressure other Haredi soldiers feel in their communities, where they may be labelled traitors.” [TheGuardian]

CAMPUS BEAT — Yeshiva University announced on Thursday the creation of the Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The center, which will be located on YU’s Wilf Campus, will provide school and university educators with the resources and programs needed to teach about the Holocaust to a new generation of students. It will also offer graduate programs in the discipline.

TALK OF THE TOWN — Police have arrested and charged a 36-year-old man with arson over the burning of the Adas Israel synagogue in Duluth, Minnesota last week. At a press conference on Sunday, Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken said Matthew J. Amiot was booked on first-degree arson charges, but that “at this moment in time there is no reason to believe this is a bias or hate crime.” The fire completely destroyed the 117-year-old building as well as six Torah scrolls. Phillip Sher, a lifelong member of Adas Israel, said Sunday that “true Judaism is in the heart, not in the building.”

Inside the building: Officials are investigating after a swastika was found drawn on the third floor of a Department of Homeland Security building in Washington. Principal Deputy Undersecretary for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Brian Murphy wrote an email to employees stating that “there is no room in the workplace for such symbols of hate. And there is no room in the workplace for those who ascribe to such a thing.”

SCENE YESTERDAY — Over 150 elected officials, community leaders and yeshiva representatives attended the Agudath Israel of America’s annual legislative breakfast in Brooklyn, New York. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and New York State Assistant Education Commissioner Christina Coughlin addressed the event, titled a ‘Celebration of Yeshiva Education.’ [Pic]

TRANSITION — Charlie Spies, a veteran Republican operative and election lawyer, has joined Dickinson Wright. h/t Playbook

DESSERT — 12 kosher-friendly restaurants in South Florida — by Alona Martinez: “This exclusive steakhouse from David Grutman is a partnership with David “Papi” Einhorn, who grew up in Brooklyn in a kosher household. While their new eatery is not kosher, it does play homage to some of Einhorn’s favorite childhood dishes by offering kosher-friendly latkes, wagyu pastrami and chicken schnitzel. There’s also the namesake Papi Steak, a 32-ounce glatt kosher dry aged bone-in ribeye.” [EaterMiami]

BIRTHDAYS: Argentinian physician and author, Esther Vilar (born Esther Katzen) turns 84… Defense policy advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43, Richard Perle turns 78… Montebello, California resident, Jon Olesen turns 75… Founder and CEO of OurCrowd, Jonathan Medved turns 64… Senior account executive at The ForwardFern Wallach turns 63… Award-winning illusionist, David Copperfield (born David Seth Kotkin) turns 63… Unsuccessful candidate for Congress from Wisconsin in 2018, formerly the VP of political affairs and political director for J Street, Dan Kohl turns 54… Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Riverdale, New York, Rabbi Dov Linzer turns 53…

Contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and a correspondent for GQJason Zengerle turns 46… Israel’s only Olympic Gold medalist (to date), Bronze in Atlanta 1996; Gold in Athens 2004, windsurfer Gal Fridman turns 44… Jerusalem-born founder and chairman of “Over The Rainbow – the Zionist Movement,” a World Zionist Congress faction, Tzvi (Tziki) Avisar turns 41… Growth and member success at CareJourney, Suzy Goldenkranz turns 33… Banking reporter at The Wall Street JournalRachel Louise Ensign turns 31… CEO and Co-Founder at Zignal Labs, Josh Ginsberg (h/ts Playbook)…

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