Daily Kickoff

Biden advisor Stu Eizenstat on why other 2020 Dems are wrong about conditioning aid to Israel


Good Monday morning!

In a phone call yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump discussed Iran and “other critical bilateral and regional issues.” 

Netanyahu is reportedly considering traveling to London tomorrow to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the leaders of Britain, France and Germany on the sidelines of the annual NATO summit

2020 watch: Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced Monday morning that he was ending his longshot bid for the Democratic nomination. The field is now down to 16 candidates, following former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak’s decision on Sunday to end his campaign

Tonight in New York, noted Jewish cookbook author Joan Nathan will be honored by the Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot’s “Essen with the Best” gala. 

Also in New York, Jew in the City hosts its annual “All Star Awards” event at Lincoln Center. Mayim Bialik will be presented with the group’s Keter Shem Tov award. 

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INTERVIEW — Stu Eizenstat on Trump’s settlement policy, 2020 primary

In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh, Stuart “Stu” Eizenstat, who was one of former President Jimmy Carter’s closest aides, discussed the Trump administration’s reversal of the 1978 State Department’s legal view of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. 

Why now? “This announcement by [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo is somewhat gratuitous. It comes out of the blue, and it comes at a time when there is already an impasse in the negotiations,” said Eizenstat, who served as Carter’s chief domestic policy advisor. He explained that Democratic and Republican presidents haven’t used the term ‘illegal’ when referring to Israeli settlements, but have rather criticized the expansion of settlements as something that undermines the two-state solution. 

Profound change: Eizenstat suggested that if the announcement was meant to clear the way for the next Israeli government to annex part of the West Bank, “this would be a very profound change. That would be an absolutely fundamental break, more so than just whether the settlements are technically legal or illegal, and would put into question the whole issue of Israel as a majority Jewish state.”

On 2020 candidates expressing support for conditioning aid to Israel: “I strongly disagree with [conditioned aid], because as much as I think [annexation] would be disastrous for Israel’s future, that aid is not economic aid,” he said. “It’s military aid, and the military aid is not used for tanks to go into the West Bank. It’s used to protect Israel against external enemies and that’s essential for Israeli security. We need to separate out Israel’s security needs from the political dimension with the Palestinians.” Eizenstat added that the candidates are just “wrong” because “there is no economic aid,” pointing to the deal he spearheaded in 1998 as undersecretary of state, in which Israel phased out its economic assistance from the U.S.

Advising Joe: Eizenstat told JI that he’s been serving as former Vice President Joe Biden’s advisor on foreign policy and domestic matters, although he isn’t officially on the campaign team. “I continue to believe that Joe Biden is the best candidate and the one who, I think, has the greatest opportunity to defeat President Trump,” he added.

TOP TALKER — New survey on antisemitism in the United Kingdom

A new report produced by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, King’s College London, and YouGov found, for the first time, that far-left antisemitism outnumbers far-right antisemitism in Britain. Overall, 42% percent of Jews surveyed considered leaving the U.K., a record high. With fieldwork conducted in 2018 and 2019, the study included over 3,600 responses.

By the numbers: 84% of Jewish respondents consider Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn a threat to them. Four in five believe the Labour Party “harbors” antisemites. On Israel, among the very left-wing, 60% believe Israel treats the Palestinians “like Nazis,” while 42% believe support for Israel damages the U.K.

In context: King’s College Senior Lecturer Daniel Allington, who designed the study, explained to JI: “It’s certainly not unprecedented for the leader of a mainstream British party to hold antisemitic views, but to my knowledge it has never before happened that virulently antisemitic white supremacists such as David Duke and Nick Griffin have endorsed a left-wing political leader because of the perceived overlap between his views and their own. While there is a clear tradition of antisemitism on the British left, just as there is on the British right, there was a long period in which it was very much confined to the fringes. So it’s hard to overstate the scale of what has happened under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The Labour Party used to be the most pro-Zionist party in the U.K. Now just look at the state of it.”

David Toube, director of policy at Quilliam International, told JI: “Conspiratorial antisemitism has long had a strong attraction to those on the far left and the far right.” Toube explained, “The crucial difference is that the left believes itself to be anti-racist and virtuous. It has therefore developed few antibodies to antisemitism. On multiple occasions, Corbyn has associated with, praised or engaged with antisemites and antisemitic works. It is clear that he simply doesn’t recognize antisemitism when he sees it. That is likely because he has internalized many of these views, himself.”

“For this reason, whenever a left project fails, electorally or economically, some left activists explain that failure in terms of the pernicious influence of Jews.”

In an interview with Sky News on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn was asked by host Sophy Ridge, “Why do 87% of British Jews say they think you are antisemitic?” Corbyn responded: “I simply say this: there is no place anyway for antisemitism in our society ever.” The Labour leader also insisted that his party has “apologized for and regret any degrees of antisemitism anyone has suffered.”

DEEP DIVE — A tale of sex, blackmail and the Israeli election

Over the weekend,The New York Timesdetailed how prominent lawyers David Boies and John Stanley Pottinger discussed presenting an allegedly compromising video of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Sheldon Adelson.

The tapes that weren’t: The story begins with a man who called himself Patrick Kessler and claimed to have thousands of hours of footage of prominent men commiting crimes — recovered from secret cameras at the homes of Jeffrey Epstein. Kessler told Boies and Pottinger that the tapes featured Barak, Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and others. 

Well-laid plans: The lawyers eventually realized that the tapes almost certainly didn’t exist. But before that realization, they made plans, which included attempting to affect the recent Israeli election. Pottinger and Boies told Kessler that they would fly to Las Vegas to convince Sheldon Adelson to publish the photos and purported video. “There is no question that Adelson has the capacity to air the truth about [Barak] if he wants to,” Pottinger told Kessler at the time.

Backtrack: Speaking to The New York Times after discovering that Kessler is more of a con-man than a whistleblower, Pottinger said he ”never intended to sell photos of Mr. Barak to Mr. Adelson. ‘I just pulled it out of my behind,’ he said, describing it as an act to impress Kessler.”

Flashback: The relationship between Barak and Epstein did come to the forefront of the news cycle surrounding the recent Israeli election. Photos of Barak outside Epstein’s Manhattan home were regularly circulated, though Barak declined to discuss his relationship with Epstein. The scandal is not considered to have played any significant role in the election outcome, which saw Barak’s Democratic Union finish with five seats (Barak chose to place himself 10th on the combined list).

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Mike Bloomberg’s Seder plate

Journalist Emily Jane Fox discussed the time she shared a Passover Seder with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now a presidential candidate, on the “Inside the Hive with Nick Bilton” podcast:

“I believe it was in 2012. It was at a fellow billionaire’s private Passover Seder… and around the table was Mike Bloomberg, who was mayor [of New York City] at the time, Barbara Walters, [Rep.] Steny Hoyer, Katie Couric, Bon Jovi, Mark Ronson… And then people like me, who were basically the help. Funnily enough, this Passover Seder was unlike any Passover Seder I’d been to, for 50 billion reasons, but I think it was a seven-course meal… And Mike Bloomberg called ahead of time to ask what was being served, and I don’t think it pleased him.” 

“So while everyone was served — we had a soup course, and salad and whatever else — while everyone else was being served the normal meal, Mike Bloomberg just got a different fruit course every time. So like one time he got tropical fruit, and one time he got melons, and one time he got berries… Mike Bloomberg got seven courses of fruit because he called and requested that. And I thought it was a very interesting thing.” 

Listen to the full podcast here.


🗳️ On the Trail: Tory Newmyer details in The Washington Post how Goldman Sachs is seeking to rebrand itself with the launch of statewide small-business programs and forums as wealth takes center stage in the Democratic presidential race. [WashPost]

🎣 Fish in the Pond:The Financial Timesfeatures the campaign of former Labour MP Luciana Berger, now a Liberal Democrat candidate, and how she’s giving voters in Finchley and Golders Green — deemed to be the largest Jewish district in the U.K. — the chance to cast a ballot for neither the Tory Party’s Brexit plan nor Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. [FinancialTimes

🇬🇹🇮🇱 Warm Ties: Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Carle explores the “unlikely friendship” between Guatemala and Israel, including a Passover Seder held on a soccer field and Israeli technicians managing the radar at the airport in Guatemala City. [WSJ]


🇮🇷 Iran Unrest: At least 180 people in Iran have been killed in a government crackdown on unarmed protesters around the country across several days of violence.

🤯 Coalition Conundrum: Despite a three-hour meeting yesterday, Likud and Blue and White appear no closer to forming a unity government and averting a third election ahead of the deadline next week.  

🖋️ Editor’s Note:The Washington Post editorial board asserts that Netanyahu “is risking the destruction of what might be a solid legacy” by insisting on holding on to power and dragging Israel to a third election. 

🏘️ Facts on the Ground: Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday ordered planning to begin for a Jewish enclave in the city’s long-shuttered Hebron market.  

🕴🕴️ Talk of the Region: A group representing 100 Palestinian businessmen, called the Palestinian Business Network, has severed ties with Ashraf Jabari, a Hebron-based businessman who attended the U.S.-led economic workshop in Bahrain earlier this year. The vote took place as Jabari was holding meetings with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. as part of a tour organized by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce. 

🤭 Heard The Other Day: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) compared the conditions at the detention centers along the U.S. border to the situation of the people in Gaza “under oppression” during her keynote address at the annual “Palestine Convention” in Chicago over the weekend. “Do you know what I saw on the border? I saw Gaza,” she told conference-goers. 

🎤 Bad Joke: Comedian Louis C.K. sparked online outrage for joking that he’d “rather be in Auschwitz than New York City” during an appearance in Tel Aviv last week. The large Israeli audience reportedly “broke out in laughter and applause.” 

🏈 Sports Blink: Michigan versus Ohio State, one of the fiercest rivalries in sports, is also a grudge match between top donors Stephen Ross and Lex Wexner. But Ross and Wexner find themselves in precarious positions, as each has come under scrutiny for their respective relationships with President Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.   

📺 Hollywood: “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Alex Borstein sits down with the Wall Street Journal‘s Chris Kornelis to talk about ambition, what it takes to make it in Hollywood, and her own TV guilty pleasures.

🍷Happy Hour:The Wall Street Journal shines a spotlight on the new Hudson Yards private club and its dining options, recently opened in partnership with developer Stephen Ross, investor Marvin Shanken and restaurateur Kenneth Himmel.

🎄 Holiday Fools: Amazon came under fire for selling Christmas ornaments and bottle openers decorated with photos of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

🎥 Bad Reviews: Originally celebrated for including a Jewish holiday in its annual winter content, the Hallmark Channel is under fire for employing antisemitic tropes in its Hanukkah movies.

🚌 Shabbat on the Trolley: Tel Aviv’s launch of public transportation on Shabbat has led to “redrawing the lines in the country’s culture wars between religious and secular citizens,” according to The Associated Press

🎓 Campus Beat: The Students’ Society of McGill University in Montreal voted to call for a student to resign from the body for accepting a trip to Israel with Hillel. 

🕍 Talk of the Town:The Philadelphia Inquirerlooks into the decline of Judaism in rural and small-town America and how the Jewish communities find strength in these smaller numbers. 

🍗 Schnitzel’s Competition: Fast-food chain KFC is expected to open its first Israel branch in the city of Nazareth later this month — its fourth attempt at entering the country’s marketplace. The menu, to the dismay of observant fried chicken addicts, will not be kosher. 


Comedian Tiffany Haddish performed an impromptu version of “Hava Nagila” on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” last night to promote her new Netflix comedy special “Black Mitzvah,” which will be released tomorrow. 


Member of the Knesset since 2009 for the Likud party, she’s served as Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs since 2015, Tzipi Hotovely turns 41…

UC Berkeley emeritus history professor and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Leon Litwack turns 90… Partner at Personal Healthcare LLC, Pincus Zagelbaum turns 73… Moroccan-born drummer with a career in contemporary Jewish music, Isaac Bitton turns 72… EVP and media director at Rubenstein Communications, Nancy Haberman turns 72… French historian, professor at University of Paris 13 and author of 30 books on the history of North Africa, Benjamin Stora turns 69… Partner in the Madison, Wisconsin law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, she is a class action and labor law attorney, Sarah Siskind turns 67…

Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Ohel Moshe, Rabbi Zvi Teichman turns 67… Education and automotive sales manager at the Los Angeles Business JournalLanna Solnit turns 63… Cleveland resident, Joseph Schlaiser turns 61… Emmy Award-winning actress, her father was a rabbi who died in 2011, Rena Sofer turns 51… Visiting assistant professor of political science at Bucknell University, Eleanor L. Schiff turns 43… Sephardi/Portuguese actress best known for playing Special Agent Kensi Blye in CBS’s “NCIS Los Angeles,” Daniela Ruah turns 36…

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