Daily Kickoff

Bloomberg’s balloon | Doran defends Erdogan | Spotted at SOMOS

Good Monday morning!

In New York City, President Donald Trump is slated to speak at a wreath-laying ceremony ahead of the Veterans Day parade in Madison Square Park. 

Tonight in New York, the America-Israel Friendship League is holding its annual Partners for Democracy awards dinner. A special tribute will mark the recent passing of attorney and longtime AIFL chairman Ken Bialkin. 

At 9PM EST, former Vice President Joe Biden will participate in a live CNN town hall in Iowa. Last night, Tom Steyer discussed his father’s prosecuting of Nazis in Nuremberg and the rise in antisemitism as he took questions from Iowan voters in a similar format. 

Sheldon lands POTUS: The Israeli-American Council (IAC) announced on Monday that Trump will speak at its annual summit in South Florida on December 7.

👉 Received this from a friend? Subscribe to the Daily Kickoff.

DRIVING THE CONVO — Bloomberg throws a wrench into 2020 race

Michael Bloomberg’s renewed effort to pursue a bid for the presidency has thrown the 2020 Democratic primary into disarray just three months before the Iowa caucuses. The Wall Street Journalreported on Friday that Bloomberg is banking on success in states that will be voting on Super Tuesday in March, rather than targeting early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which go to the polls in February. 

Trial🎈: A poll released Sunday shows Bloomberg with only 4% support among Democratic primary voters, and sources close to the former New York City mayor toldAxios the announcement was “partly a trial balloon to gauge interest.”

Democratic campaign strategist Hank Sheinkopf tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that Bloomberg’s argument could be convincing. His candidacy brings to the Democratic race a combination of electability and a record on cross-generational issues that voters care about, something Biden is lacking, he said. According to Sheinkopf, Bloomberg’s wealth and his strategy to skip the early primary states could make him “the 77-year-old change candidate who can afford to run the race any way he chooses and doesn’t have to participate in the debates.” 

Money counts: Top Bloomberg aide Howard Wolfson toldThe Atlantic, “Mike has a history of spending what it takes to win. It doesn’t hurt us — it helps us… Having the resources to do the job is important.” 

Billionaire support: Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman, who recently admonished Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) over her tax and Medicare proposals, welcomed Bloomberg’s possible entry and offered his support. Recode’s Jason Del Rey reported on Saturday that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called Bloomberg months ago and asked if he would run. 

Us vs. them: Supporters of Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) quickly pointed to Bloomberg’s wealth and the support he’s getting to further rally the left wing of the party.

Dogwhistle claims: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Sanders supporter, is drawing fresh criticism over comments she made on Twitter,  sharing a link to Cooperman’s support, adding, “I wonder why” with a thinking face emoji. On Sunday, Omar retweeted several of her supporters who defended her by noting that the Minnesota lawmaker is supporting a Jewish candidate for the Democratic nomination.

View from Bidenland: Andrew Weinstein, a major Democratic donor and a member of Biden’s national finance committee, tells JI: “While I have enormous respect and appreciation for the life-changing work Mayor Bloomberg is doing to enact common sense gun-safety reforms, I do not see either the need or the lane for him to enter this crowded primary.” Weinstein added that Bloomberg’s candidacy is “unlikely to change” Biden’s frontrunner status. 

Hot take: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens argues “a Bloomberg candidacy would be a gift to Democrats” if they’d believe that “trouncing Donald Trump is essential to the preservation of liberal democracy.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Mike Doran on Trump’s Syria pullout

Mike Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, defended President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out U.S. troops and abandon the Kurds in northeastern Syria during an appearance at the Jewish Leadership Conference (JLC) held at the Grand Hyatt in New York City on Sunday. 

Fixing errors: “The pullout of American troops from northern Syria was not a mistake,” Doran stressed. “It was the beginning of a rectification of a mistake, it is not bad for Israel, and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is not the enemy of Israel.” 

Proxy fight: Doran argued that the Kurdish party, the PKK, “historically is the ally of the Iranians and the Russians, and we’ve borrowed an Iranian/Russian proxy to go kill ISIS and never demanded that they stopped their relations with the Russians and the Iranians.”

Holding a grudge: Doran also suggested that the hostility Erdogan has shown towards Israel, and his antisemitic comments in recent years, are due to the fact that the U.S. “has been arming, training, equipping, building up, and expanding the geographic expanse of the PKK. I can’t say that this hostility is gonna melt away as we move away from the PKK,” he added. “But every problem we have with Turkey becomes more manageable when we’re not arming, training and equipping the PKK.”

Iran, Iran, Iran: According to Doran, the Israelis are keeping the U.S. focused on the maximum-pressure campaign against Iran. “One thing I have learned in government, is the U.S. government is a big, dumb beast and it’s not in control of its limbs,” he said. “You solve the Iranian problem by whacking Iran,” he asserted. “Whenever Netanyahu talks to Trump, he should say, ‘Whack Iranians.’ Nothing else. That’s it. And get the big, dumb beast focused on what it should be focused on.” 

What to expect this week: Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on Wednesday. The two leaders will hold a joint press conference in the East Room after their Oval Office meeting. 

On the ground: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said on Sunday that some 600 U.S. troops will remain in northeastern Syria to continue counterterrorism operations against ISIS. Meanwhile, CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. visited Israel over the weekend to meet with the IDF’s top brass. 

COALITION CONUNDRUM — Gantz, Netanyahu trade barbs as Lieberman dangles ultimatum

With 10 days until the expiration of Benny Gantz’s mandate to form the next Israeli government, the Blue and White leader appears no closer to forging a coalition deal. 

War of words: At a memorial for former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin yesterday, Gantz accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of incitement mirroring the period before Rabin’s 1995 assassination, and of putting his personal interests above security, while Netanyahu slammed his political rivals for turning a memorial into a “blatantly political and reckless” event.

The kingmaker: Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Lieberman issued an ultimatum to Netanyahu and Gantz, warning that if either man refuses his terms for a unity government, he will back the other candidate for prime minister. Lieberman’s demands include Gantz accepting President Reuven Rivlin’s framework, in which Netanyahu would serve first in a rotation agreement, and Netanyahu agreeing to break up his 55-seat right-wing bloc. 

U-turn: Lieberman, in an about-face, indicated he would be open to joining Gantz in a minority government supported by the Joint List from outside the coalition. In response, Netanyahu said the Yisrael Beytenu leader was coordinating with Gantz and the Arab political party to bring him down. 

Gig games: Netanyahu appointed New Right’s Natfali Bennett as defense minister in his caretaker government, a move widely seen as a ploy to cement the Likud’s ties to the right-wing parties, and prevent them from considering joining a Gantz-led coalition.  


The New Normal is Not Normal: Register today for ADL’s Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate, November 21 at the Javits Center. Tickets are $225. 

Be Featured:Email Comms@JewishInsider.com to inform the JI readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.


🗳️ Impossible Choice: The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland highlights the dilemma of left-leaning British Jews, who want to see the Tory government unseated — but are appalled by the antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. [TheGuardian]

😡 Why the Hate? Michael Damiano writes in Boston Magazine about the increase in antisemitic incidents across Massachusetts, in particular in the Boston area, and talks to Jewish community members who have been the targets of hatred in recent months. [BostonMag]

🥊 Fighting History:German boxer Max Schmeling was long considered a Nazi puppet. But the heavyweight champion actually saved the life of two Jewish teenage brothers in Berlin during Kristallnacht, leaving behind a complicated legacy. [OZY


👩 First Look:The New Yorker‘s Margaret Talbot profiles Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who is fifty-nine and just started her tenth term this October, asking ‘is the Supreme Court’s fate in Elena Kagan’s hands?’

🏡 On the Bank:The Wall Street Journal’s Felicia Schwartz takes an inside look at the Israeli settler community, which has turned isolated West Bank settlements into an attractive place among the Israeli public. 

⚖️ International Intrigue: The Israeli Supreme Court ruled yesterday to extradite to the United States a Russian hacker, whose fate is being linked to an American-Israeli woman held in Russia on trumped-up drug charges.

🇮🇱🇯🇴 Cold Peace: Jordan has taken full sovereignty over two small areas of land leased 25 years ago by Israel, as ties between the countries are further strained. 

📉 Cut Back: WeWork announced a 90-day game plan✎ EditSign on Friday that includes divesting from its non-core businesses and job cuts across several units. WeWork officials, including ex-CEO Adam Neumann, have been sued by minority shareholders hoping to recoup their losses. Meanwhile, the WSJ reports WeWork faced SEC scrutiny prior to cancelling their IPO.

📡 Stepping Away: Haim Saban has relinquished control over Israel’s Partner Communications, paving the way for Hong Kong’s Hutchison to take over. 

💰 Certified Ventures: BuiltUp, a new venture fund based in Tel Aviv and New York, will be investing exclusively in kosher real estate tech startups, reports Calcalist. 

👱‍♀️ History in the Commonwealth: Eileen Filler-Corn was selected as the first female and Jewish speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates on Saturday, after Democrats flipped the state legislatures in last week’s election.

🕍 On The Hill: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), is set to introduce this week a resolution commemorating the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht. The measure also supports efforts to raise awareness about the Holocaust and reaffirms the U.S. commitment to “eradicate the continuing scourge of antisemitism at home and abroad.” 

🇬🇧 Across the Pond: Jeremy Corbyn pledged on Saturday to investigate claims that a Labour shadow minister sang “Hey Jews” to the tune of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” on a bus trip with colleagues last year. Meanwhile, a Scottish Labour candidate stepped down after the revelation that she authored a blog post in which she compared Israel to a child abuser. 

🎓Campus Beat: Officials at The George Washington University are concerned after a Snapchat video circulated featuring two students discussing bombing Israel.   

⚰️Grave Desecration: Around 75 headstones were toppled recently at a Jewish cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska, and more than 80 graves at a Jewish cemetery in Denmark were vandalized.    

🤷‍♂️ Where is Bob? Iran’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged on Sunday that former FBI agent Bob Levinson “is missing” since visiting the country in 2007, but denied a report that the regime had opened a criminal case against him.

👨‍🍳 Food Prep: Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov has joined the advisory council of an Israeli culinary school, the Galilee Culinary Institute at Kibbutz Gonen, expected to open in 2021.


Close to 150 people attended the 3rd annual AIPAC reception at the SOMOS Conference in Puerto Rico, organized in collaboration with the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican & Hispanic Task Force.

Speakers included AIPAC Northeast Political Director Jason Koppel, Northeast Outreach Director Aldrin Enis, Israel’s Consul General Ambassador Dani Dayan, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, Reps. Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY); and Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

Spotted: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, State Senators Brian Benjamin, Jamal Bailey, Brad Hoylman, James Sanders and Toby Stavisky; Assemblymembers Michael Blake, Kevin Cahill, Steven Cymbrowitz, Maritza Davila, Harvey Epstein, Walter Mosley, Kimberly Jean Pierre, Diana Richardson, Nily Rozic, Al Taylor, Latrice Walker and David Weprin; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmembers Diana Ayala, Justin Brannan, Barry Grodenchik, Karen Koslowitz, Mark Levine, Keith Powers, Donovan Richards and Ydanis Rodriguez; Jesse Campoamor, Ruth Hassell Thompson, Michael Miller, David Greenfield, John Calvelli, Bob Kaplan, Alex Carciente, Andrew Gross, Anthony Lemma III, Facia Class, Sandra Ung, Victoria Schnepps, George Arzt, Derrick Davis, Arthur Goldstein, John Emerick, Jon Greenfield and Darren Rigger.


Former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Ambassador Norm Eisen turns 59…

Russian-born venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner turns 58… Attorney in Los Angeles, Gerald I. Neiter turns 86… Former Democratic U.S. Senator from California (1993-2017), Barbara Levy Boxer turns 79… Television personality Marc Summers (born Marc Berkowitz) turns 68… Founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman turns 65… Founder and president of D.C.-based Plurus Strategies, David Leiter turns 65… President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman turns 62… Author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman turns 62… Talk show host and president of Talkline Communications, Zev Brenner turns 61…

Founder of NYC-based alternative investment firm Portage Partners, Michael Leffell turns 61… Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR, Melissa Balaban turns 55… Emmy Award and People’s Choice Award-winning television producer, Jason Nidorf “Max” Mutchnick turns 54… Member of the Knesset for the Gesher/Labor party, Orly Levy-Abekasis turns 46… Defender for the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, Daniel Steres turns 29… Harvard University astrophysics and physics student in the Class of 2020, Shelly Tsirulik turns 22… Surprise, Arizona resident, Shula Kantor

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered daily in a must-read newsletter.