IMPEACHMENT SPOTLIGHT — President Donald Trump continued his attacks on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as he hosted the president of Finland, Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, at the White House on Wednesday. At a joint press conference, the president nicknamed the Jewish lawmaker “Shifty Schiff.” Trump also claimed that Schiff “helped write” the whistleblower complaint, and accused the California congressman of treason.
Rapid fire: “We’re not fooling around here,” Schiff told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We don’t want this to drag on for months and months, which appears to be the administration’s strategy.”
Big deal: Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who argued against impeachment last month, came out in favor of the Trump inquiry during a town hall meeting in his Staten Island district on Wednesday. “I will not shirk my duty, I will not violate my oath. I will support and I will defend the United States Constitution,” Rose told the crowd at the Jewish Community Center. “He received a round of raucous applause,” The City reported.
Inside the White House: At a meeting with conservatives and GOP Hill aides on Wednesday morning, Paul Teller, special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, “quizzed the group about whether it thought a long or short impeachment process would play better with the president’s base,” The New York Times reported. Teller also reportedly told the group that Trump would likely support bringing impeachment to a vote on the Senate floor to claim victory at the end of the process.
From Mideast peace to swamp wars: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, “is expected to continue to give the president advice on impeachment privately, regardless of the way the West Wing structures any formal response,” Politico reported. According to The New York Times, Kushner, “has told colleagues he is comfortable with the current structure supporting the president — one that also gives him freewheeling power.”
DEPARTURE LOUNGE — Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, is expected to leave the administration to return to the private sector, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich will take over Mandelker’s portfolio in the next few weeks, according to Bloomberg News.
Why it matters: Mandelker was at the center of the Trump administration’s Iran policy as its sanctions chief.
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, emails JI: “Sigal Mandelker brought extraordinary expertise, experience, energy and commitment to the role and deserves the gratitude of all Americans. I anticipate that her replacement will be equally talented and committed and that there will be no change in the administration’s commitment to maximum economic and financial pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
SCENE IN JERUSALEM —U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met with a group of visiting members of Congress in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The bipartisan delegation included Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Andy Harris (R-MD), Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Joe Wilson (R-SC). [Pic]
HAPPENING NOW — The 22nd Knesset is being sworn in this afternoon in Jerusalem — despite the many political uncertainties looming overhead. President Reuven Rivlin is slated to address the gathered lawmakers at 9 a.m. EDT. [KnessetChannel]
Arab boycott: Not all 120 incoming Knesset members will be in attendance, as the 13 members of the Joint List have vowed to boycott the inauguration, in protest of police inaction on ongoing violence in Arab communities.
Backing down: Yair Lapid, the co-leader of Blue and White and the head of Yesh Atid, announced at the Knesset Thursday that he will give up his rotation deal with Benny Gantz for prime minister if Blue and White forms a national unity government with Likud.
Dashed truce: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his onetime ally turned nemesis Avigdor Lieberman met Thursday morning for less than an hour. A spokesman for Netanyahu said no progress was made toward cutting a deal, while Lieberman said the only path forward is to form a unity government.
Cementing power: Netanyahu is considering holding a snap Likud primary to reinforce his hold on the party’s leadership, and quash rumors that he could be ousted from within if he fails to form a government. Within minutes of the announcement, longtime rumored challenger Gideon Sa’ar tweeted: “I’m ready.”
Buzz on Balfour: Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and lawyers for Netanyahu sat down for the second day in a row on Thursday for a pre-indictment hearing on a litany of corruption charges. Wednesday’s hearing lasted for 11 hours, and lawyers for the prime minister told reporters they were confident that all the charges would be dropped, despite Mandelblit recommending an indictment.
OFF THE TRAIL — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) underwent a heart procedure on Tuesday, leading him to cancel campaign events “until further notice.” Fellow candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination universally responded with good wishes for Sanders on Wednesday after his health scare was revealed.
In a statement, the Sanders campaign said: “During a campaign event yesterday evening, Sen. Sanders experienced some chest discomfort. Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted. Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.”
Other candidates made public statements wishing him well, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), at an event Sanders was also supposed to attend in Las Vegas. After the announcement, the Sanders campaign canceled a planned television ad buy in Iowa but insisted “it’s only postponement.”
How it played — BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer reports: “At age 78… two things [Bernie] hates are converging: real physical limitations, and a focus on his health and personal life that will distract from his ‘political revolution’… The thing that was bothering him most, [Sanders aides] said, was having to step away from the trail.” [BuzzFeed]
Alan Abbey, director of internet and media at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, who covered Sanders — when he was mayor — for the Burlington Free Press 35 years ago, tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “I wish Bernie Sanders a refuah shelaima and a quick recovery. That said, despite his apparent success in raising money, now would be the right moment to retire his campaign and take a position as a senior statesman and supporter of progressive change in America. His candidacy was never going to succeed, but what he has succeeded in doing is changing the terms of discourse in America and raising issues of critical importance. Continuing his campaign now will only lead to a defensive position that will bring out the worst in his combative nature.”
2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden fires back at Trump: ‘You’re not going to destroy me’… Andrew Yang raised $10 million in the third quarter… Michael Bennet raised $2.1 million… Silicon Valley billionaires’ strange new respect for Elizabeth Warren… 12 candidates qualify for October Democratic debate…
** Good Thursday 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: How Ari Emanuel’s outsize IPO dreams were dashed [HollywoodReporter] • Adam Neumann’s side bet Selina seeks $500 million property fund [Bloomberg] • WeWork Japan gets new CEO, days after We Company founder quits [Reuters] • Kushner goes to Broward, buying site near Fort Lauderdale train station [RealDeal] • Israeli fintech co Rapyd raises $100m [Globes] • Entertainment 360 prepping dramas from Gabriel Sherman, Craig Gillespie and Jay Carson [HollywoodReporter]
MORE BRIEFS: Stanley Fischer may have the answer if Israel rate stops at zero [Bloomberg] • CVC close to buying 25 percent of Israeli advertising tech firm IronSource for $450 million [Haaretz] • Elbit wins $23m US Marines binocular order [Globes] • Second suspect in SodaStream insider trading probe revealed [Calcalist] • Viral content companies Taboola and Outbrain to merge [Calcalist]
COMING SOON — Richard Branson, co-founder of the Virgin Group, will visit Israel to speak at Calcalist’s “Business Is an Adventure” event at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv on October 24. The event will mark Virgin Atlantic’s new daily Tel Aviv to London Heathrow route launched last week.
SPOTLIGHT — A home smart system that helps with religious observances — by Cecilie Rohwedder: “Every Friday night, as Shabbat starts in Jay and Lauren Hofstatter’s home in Boca Raton, Fla., all televisions automatically shut down, ground-floor lights come on and bedroom lights switch off. A cozy home theater, closed off during the week, is programmed to unlock — not for watching television, but for family time after the evening meal… ‘I love technology,’ says Mr. Hofstatter, 34 years old and president of online retailer Daily Sale, based in Pompano Beach, Fla. ‘When we decided to go with a home-automation system, we knew there had to be something out there that adapts to the Jewish lifestyle.’ … Chowmain Software & Apps, an Australia-based software developer that built the software connecting the Hofstatters’ system to the Hebrew calendar, also offers a version for Muslim homeowners who want to program their homes to notify them of the call to prayer five times a day.” [WSJ]
STATE VISIT — Actress and singer Demi Lovato revealed on Instagram on Tuesday that she recently returned from a trip to Israel, where she explored her spirituality and “connection to God.” She added, “There is something absolutely magical about Israel.” Hours later, after a wave of online backlash over the trip, Lovato posted and then quickly deleted an apology on her Instagram story. “I accepted a free trip to Israel in exchange for a few posts,” she wrote. “No one told me there would be anything wrong with going or that I could possibly be offending anyone… This was meant to be a spiritual experience for me, NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT.”
LOOKING FOR LOVE — A new study✎ EditSign released by the Jewish dating app JSwipe on Wednesday revealed that most users of the app find it important to marry a Jewish mate. The survey of 4,000 users also found that 87% of them practice Judaism in some form, with Passover being the most celebrated holiday, though 51% said they don’t keep kosher in any way.
TALK OF THE TOWN — A series of billboards across New York City promoting Jewish engagement have raised eyebrows and induced giggles. The campaign by the nonprofit JewBelong includes one ad that reads, “Even if you think kugel is an exercise you do for your vagina . . . JewBelong,” and another proclaiming, “So you eat bacon. God has other things to worry about.”
Antisemitism in New York: Police are searching for two suspects who were caught on surveillance video vandalizing a synagogue in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn during Rosh Hashanah. “This is a shocking act of hate. We will find the perpetrators and hold them responsible,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted on Wednesday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to offer assistance to the NYPD in the investigation. “This incident unfortunately underscores the need for State Police to increase their patrols around houses of worship during the Jewish high holidays this year,” Cuomo said.
Upstate hate: Warren County sheriff officers are investigating graffiti and a swastika discovered on Wednesday on a sign in front of the Queensbury Masonic Temple and Masonic Historical Society.
Hate mail: Antisemitic fliers were dropped off at several local businesses in downtown Whitefish, Montana, on Monday night, the second night of Rosh Hashanah, according to the Montana Human Rights Network. The fliers displayed phrases with references to Adolf Hitler and white nationalist David Lane.
Across the sea: Polish police are investigating graffiti and a swastika discovered drawn on the wall of the former Krakow ghetto on Tuesday. The graffiti was immediately removed by municipal workers. Adam Bartosz of the Committee for the Protection of Monuments of Jewish Culture in Tarnow said he believes that the act of vandalism is associated with the elections for the Polish national parliament.
ACROSS THE POND — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Labour Party leaders “fratricidal antisemitic Marxists” in his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday. Calling for the completion of Brexit at the end of this month, the prime minister chastised opposition MPs for delaying the withdrawal. In characteristically imaginative language, Johnson praised the “chutzpah… distributed across the U.K.”
Meanwhile, Dame Louise Ellman, a Jewish Labour MP, is facing a motion calling for her resignation that is slated to be debated on the evening of Yom Kippur. Ellman is under fire for once saying she “understands why Jews would seriously consider leaving Britain if Corbyn became PM.”
Going back in time: Chris Rollston from the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at The George Washington University has obtained 20 ancient shards — known as ostraca — that could contain the names and titles of Jewish soldiers who were involved in the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70) against the rule of the Roman Empire.
TRANSITION — Cora Cahan, who served for nearly three decades as president of the New 42nd Street nonprofit organization, is set to become president and chief executive of the Baryshnikov Arts Center in N.Y.
DESSERT — Hummus shop that made a splash in New York City opening soon in downtown Charleston, South Carolina — by Hanna Raskin: “‘People are waiting in line to get this hummus,’ Ori Barziv of Sunshine Hummus says. ‘It’s really the best. I wouldn’t open if it wasn’t the best hummus I ever tasted.’ When the first Sunshine Hummus last year opened in New York City, critics declared it a worthy successor to Michael Solomonov’s much-lauded Dizengoff, which briefly occupied a Chelsea Market stall.” [PostandCourier]
The South’s best challah is hiding in this Memphis cookie shop — by Katie Strasberg Rousso: “Ask any Memphian where to buy a challah, and they’ll point you in the same direction. Tucked away in Eastgate Shopping Center, Ricki and her daughter Aviva bake dozens of challahs each week. That easily turns into hundreds during the holidays — a far change from the days of making loaves in their home kitchen and selling them off of their dining room table decades ago.” [SouthernLiving]
REMEMBERING — Martin Bernheimer, tartly eloquent music critic, dies at 83 — by David Allen: “Martin Bernheimer, a classical music critic noted for witty, withering writing that won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1982, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. Martin Bernheimer was born on Sept. 28, 1936, into a Jewish family in Munich. His… father, Paul, was a partner at Haus Bernheimer, a prominent antiques business in Munich. After the family business was damaged on Kristallnacht, when synagogues and Jewish businesses, homes and schools were attacked, Paul and his brothers were sent to Dachau, but they later managed to go free.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Global Head of Music for YouTube, Lyor Cohen turns 60… Jerusalem-born talent agent and venture capitalist, author of “Jews Who Rock” regarding Jewish influences on the music industry, Guy Oseary turns 47… Venture capitalist and political strategist, Bradley Tusk turns 46… Retired professor of American literature at Monmouth College and co-founder of Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey, Dr. Robert M. Rechnitz turns 89… Talk radio show host, Michael Medved turns 71… Former member of Congress, now President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance, Allyson Y. Schwartz turns 71…
Theoretical physicist and professor at Rutgers, Daniel Friedan turns 71… Westport, Connecticut based holistic health coach, Orna Stern turns 64… Lisa Gordon Leff turns 62… Art collector and dealer, reputed to own with his family over $5 billion of art, David Mugrabi turns 48… Rabbi of Congregation Ohr Torah in North Woodmere, NY and author of “We’re Almost There,” Dovid M. Cohen turns 47… Executive director at the Jewish Book Council, Naomi Firestone-Teeter turns 36… The assistant rabbi at Park East Synagogue in Manhattan, Benjamin Goldschmidt turns 32…