Good Tuesday morning!
The finance and economy ministers of the United Arab Emirates, accompanied by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Mideast peace envoy Avi Berkowitz, arrived in Israel today to sign several bilateral agreements, marking the first official visit to Israel by a UAE government delegation. Yesterday, the UAE cabinet officially approved the Abraham Accords, which were ratified by the Knesset last week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who welcomed the delegations upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport, said that “the enthusiasm for this peace agreement among our peoples is enormous.” Netanyahu added that “we would not be here today without America’s support,” calling the day a “glorious day for peace.”
U.S. International Development Finance Corp CEO Adam Boehler announced the creation of a new $3 billion joint U.S.-UAE-Israel investment fund headquartered in Jerusalem.
President Donald Trump announced yesterday that Sudan will be removed from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, paving the way for a possible normalization deal with Israel.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning that the Senate will not support the move if Sudan does not address claims by victims of 9/11 and other terror attacks.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)assured members of the Orthodox Jewish community — during a forum hosted by the Orthodox Union yesterday — that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would be a “true trusted ally” of Israel.
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Charting the meteoric rise and fall of WeWork’s Adam Neumann
With a propensity for bombastic proclamations, a tendency to wander around barefoot and a flowing mane of hair atop his 6’5” frame, Adam Neumann took the New York startup world by storm when he launched WeWork a decade ago. But just when the company seemed to be at its peak, everything started to crumble, culminating in Neumann’s ouster from the startup last year. In a new book, New York magazine’s Reeves Wiedeman traces the company’s meteoric path and startling collapse, which grabbed headlines around the globe and shook up the startup industry.
Free fall:“I was surprised at how quickly things went sour,” Wiedeman told Jewish Insider’s Amy Spiro in a recent phone interview ahead of the release of Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork. “It was essentially a span of six weeks between WeWork unveiling its IPO paperwork to Adam being pushed out and the company’s IPO collapse. And I think even people who had been critical of the company to me and skeptical of it — even for them, even for people who thought the company had something coming for a long while — were surprised just how swiftly things turned south.”
Diving deep: To research the book, Wiedeman spoke with more than 200 people connected to Neumann and the company, “from some of the lowest people on the totem pole at WeWork all the way up to the most senior executives,” he said. The author paints an in-depth portrayal of Neumann’s life, from his nomadic childhood — including a several-year stint at Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza border — to his five years in the Israeli Navy and his decision to set up shop in New York, moving in rent-free with his model sister, Adi. Over a decade, Wiedeman writes, “through a mix of grit, luck, charm, ruthlessness, impeccable timing, and chutzpah, he had become, on paper, one of the world’s wealthiest people — a bipartisan American hero.”
Higher authority: While Neumann and his sister grew up with little religious influence, they became more involved in New York, joining first the SoHo Synagogue and later the Kabbalah Center, connecting with a steady stream of Israeli and American Jews who were oftentimes integral to WeWork’s growth. One rabbi encouraged Neumann to keep Shabbat, Wiedeman writes, “as a way of reconnecting with what matters. Adam tried it and found that it helped — at least until Thursday, when his ego would flare back up and he had to start the process all over again.”
Peace push:Neumann also built extensive ties to some of the most consequential figures in the business world, including fellow real estate heavy hitter Jared Kushner, whose prominence only soared after his father-in-law was elected president. “During the campaign, Adam ran over to a group of WeWork employees with a smile on his face and told them Kushner had just called to say that if Trump won, WeWork would be given the task of reimagining America’s post offices and libraries,” Wiedeman wrote. Neumann also felt he could apply his skills to solving the Middle East conflict, buoyed by Kushner’s ascension to the White House. “Adam believed that Kushner, himself, and [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed] Bin Salman were millennial leaders bringing about a better world,” the author wrote. Kushner even called Adam to ask for his help creating a video for the Mideast economic workshop held in Bahrain in June 2019.
Sky’s the limit:“A lot of people in the real estate space, who were WeWork’s competitors in the early days, they just didn’t quite have the ambition to try to build this globe-spanning company,” Wiedeman told JI about what set Neumann apart. “Adam’s ambitions were met with ambitions from investors, and particularly venture capital investors… Adam’s ambition, and his charisma and his ability to convey that to these groups of people, I think was fed by the amount of money that WeWork had. It’s expensive to expand as quickly and as broadly as they did, and that required a lot of money, and Adam was better at raising money than pretty much anyone.”
Bonus: A SoftBank executive revealed yesterday that a $185 million consulting deal signed with Neumann after his ouster last year is no longer in place, because “I think Adam may have violated some of the parts of the consulting agreement.”
Rep. Andy Kim and challenger David Richter address AJC-JI forum
Last night, Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) and Republican David Richter, an attorney challenging Kim for his seat in New Jersey’s third congressional district, addressed a range of issues and provided policy solutions during a candidate forum hosted jointly byJewish Insider and the American Jewish Committee. The two, who have battled in a series of debates in the run-up to the November 3 general election, discussed current events, foreign policy and domestic antisemitism in back-to-back virtual sessions.
Two-state future? “From the congressional perspective, it’s about making sure that we can see what kind of strategy the United States administration is moving forward with that,” Kim, a veteran of the State Department who also served as national security advisor to President Barack Obama, said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We also need to show unequivocally that a two-state solution is something that both parties support, that this is something that is at the core essence of what it is that we think is necessary… It is about that enduring security, enduring peace that we see when it comes to Israel, when it comes to a two-state solution. A two-state solution is really the only solution going forward that will actually yield, in my mind, a viable, enduring security and enduring peace.”
F-35 focus: “Israel is, no question, our strongest ally in the Middle East. But it’s not our only ally,” said Richter, who supports the sale of F-35 jets to the UAE. “And I think given the Abraham Accords, certainly our relationship with the UAE is going to continue to strengthen and grow as well. I think the issue regarding military sales is we don’t ever want this equipment to ever be used against Israel. But I don’t think that’s the intention. We need to support our allies that stand up against Iran. Iran is without question the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East, the greatest threat to long-term stability in the Middle East. And helping the UAE and other nations defend themselves against potential Iranian military threats is incredibly important. So I do support the sale of the F-35 stealth fighter to the UAE.”
Eyeing Iran: Kim, who is of South Korean descent, compared the possibility of a nuclear Iran to North Korea. “We see how the achievement of nuclear power in North Korea has completely changed the dynamics of the Korean Peninsula. I’m very worried about what Iranian nuclear ambitions would mean for the entire Middle East for Israel’s security,” he said. “I hope that we can reopen negotiations. And I think we should, to try to include issues regarding the Quds Force, issues regarding ballistic missile technology and some of the other elements that were absent from the original nuclear deal.”
QAnon no-no: Richter addressed the candidacy of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon conspiracy theory proponent who is the GOP’s nominee for Congress is Georgia’s deep-red 14th district. “Hate has no place in the Republican Party,” Richter declared. “And it certainly has no place in Congress as an elected official. So I would talk to her about her views and making sure that they don’t take root anywhere else in the party, that as an elected official, as a member of Congress — which I expect that she will be given the dynamics of her district — that ends with her. I’d like to change her mind on a lot of what she believes. And hopefully I can in Congress. I think that people can learn and grow over time. And I would do everything I can to make sure that she evolves, and that the things that she believes in don’t grow and certainly don’t become legislation.”
World Zionist Congress begins as factions jockey for top posts
Delegates selected earlier this year will attend the first-ever virtual World Zionist Congress, beginning today and running through Thursday. The 38th global forum was originally scheduled to be held in Jerusalem, following the selection of the body’s 521 delegates. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the sessions and debates will instead be conducted online, limiting much of the socializing and networking that surrounds the Congress.
Playing politics: Ahead of the gathering, members of right-wing and Orthodox Jewish parties — a narrow majority of the Congress’s delegates — jockeyed to form a coalition agreement that would give them control over the WZC’s key institutions, including KKL-JNF and the World Zionist Organization. The move has been met with protestations from some of the non-Orthodox movements concerned about being iced out of major decisions.
Working together: “It’s been probably the most stressful pre-Congress preparations that I have ever been involved with,” Karma Feinstein, the founder and executive director of World Magshimey-Herut and World Herut, said on a webcast hosted by the American Zionist Movement and Israel Action Network on Monday. “One of the beautiful things in the past has always been a wall-to-wall coalition [in the Congress]… where everyone is represented and there is no such thing as leaving somebody out. And this time it’s much more problematic. And we hope that at the end of the day it will be as inclusive as possible.”
Pushback: Leaders of the Masorti (Conservative) and Reform movements, including Hadassah and B’nai B’rith International, wrote a strongly worded letter addressed to leaders of the World Zionist Organization averring that stripping the groups of influence within the body was unacceptable. “Everybody is waiting to see what will be with signing this coalition [deal],” Makor Rishon reporter Zvika Klein said on Monday’s webcast.
Perspective: What would Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, think of the disagreements between the different groups? “In comparison to the question of ‘Uganda, not Uganda,’” Feinstein said of Herzl’s 1906 proposal to create a Jewish homeland in the East African nation, “it’s sort of not a big deal.”
hearts and minds
Charles Bronfman launches initiative to bridge gap between Israel and Jewish diaspora
A new project from philanthropist Charles Bronfman and philanthropy advisor Jeffrey Solomon is aiming to educate Israelis about the role and significance of diaspora Jewry — and bring Israeli and North American Jews closer together. The two men have assembled a team of leading funders and influencers to guide the endeavor, called Enter: The Jewish Peoplehood Alliance, which is slated to kick off its first program in January.
Details: Alon Friedman, Enter’s founding chief executive officer, is based in Israel. In an interview from his Kfar Saba office, he told Jewish Insider’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen that each funder has committed to provide $250,000 a year to Enter for three years to cover overhead expenses. Partners include the Koret Foundation, the Diane & Guilford Glazer Foundation, the Nadav Fund and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation. The initiative’s advisory committee is co-chaired by former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and former Likud Justice Minister Dan Meridor.
Lobbying losses: Past efforts on the part of non-Orthodox American Jewish leaders to lobby top Israeli officials on issues ranging from the Western Wall agreement to the Israeli rabbinate’s control over conversion to Judaism, have been deemed unsuccessful. “Efforts to influence these decisions by flying in a delegation of influencers to lobby, to express concerns…those efforts have not been nearly as effective as any of us would like. It’s not a sustainable approach,” Shapiro said during a Jewish Funders Network webinar introducing Enter to its members this week.
Trial balloon: Its first program, a mifgash, or “encounter,” is called One2One, Solomon said. It aims to, over time, transform Israeli public opinion by teaching Israeli high school students about the history and impact of diaspora Jewry. Beginning in January 2021, the program will pair 400-500 Israelis with Jewish high schoolers in the U.S., Canada and England to practice their English language skills. The program is being developed with Israel’s Education Ministry, which is designing the technical side and the curriculum in consultation with Enter.
🚁 Seeds of Peace:A special rescue mission by U.S. forces of a crashed United Arab Emirates helicopter filled with soldiers, including a young member of the royal family, during an offensive against al Qaeda militants in Yemen in 2017, paved the way to the Abraham Accords, UAE officials tell The Wall Street Journal. [WSJ]
🗳️ Priorities:In Foreign Policy, Allison Meakem highlights the views on the presidential race of Palestinian-American voters living in Dearborn, Michigan. Many want Trump out of office, but also to hold Biden’s “feet to the fire on Palestinian issues.” [ForeignPolicy]
📰 Grey Lady:New York Times media columnist Ben Smith sat down with OneZero’s Alex Kantrowitz to discuss the heated internal politics at the Times — including the purported ax emojis placed next to Bari Weiss’s name on Slack — and the changing nature of newsrooms. [OneZero]
Around the Web
☑️ Palmetto Polls: A new internal poll from the campaign of Republican congressional candidate Nancy Mace in South Carolina’s 1st district, shared with Jewish Insider, shows her in a statistical tie with incumbent Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC).
📲 Under Attack:California State Senator Scott Wiener writes about the QAnon mob that came after him online for being “a progressive, gay, Jewish Democrat.”
🗣️ Debate Over Debate: The Trump campaign is claiming that the third presidential debate, scheduled for Thursday, was supposed to focus on foreign policy, but the topics were shifted.
📵Fake News: Twitter suspended around 80 Iranian-linked accounts that worked to amplify fake news stories and hacked the Israel Hayom Twitter account earlier this month.
😷 Staying Home:A series of U.S. officials, including CIA director Gina Haspel and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, are self-isolating after meeting with Lebanon’s Major Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, who has since tested positive for COVID-19.
📸 Singled Out:Furloughed employees of the B&H photo store claim they were not rehired post-lockdown because they complained about the company’s approach to COVID-19.
🐌 Step By Step: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said yesterday that it could be weeks before COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in hot spots.
📨 Inbox: In a letter to the editor, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt complains that a recent New York Timesop-ed about Louis Farrakhan whitewashes “his record of anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic remarks.”
🖼️ All About Art:Glenn Fuhrman’s family office, Virtru Investment Partners, and Aryeh Bourkoff’s LionTree Partners have acquired a minority stake in the art industry newsletter Baer Faxt.
🎥 Hollywood: Adam Sandler is producing and starring in a new Netflix film titled “Hustle,” about a basketball scout who works to bring a player with a rocky past to NBA glory.
🇬🇧 Across the Pond: British union leader Len McCluskey is under fire for telling longtime Jewish Labour figure Peter Mandelson to go and “count his gold.”
🍰 Babka Brouhaha: “The Great British Baking Show” featured both bagels and babka in recent episodes this season, but the judges’ comments have left some viewers reeling.
🕯️ Remembering: NBC News paid tribute to retired Philadelphia firefighter Joel Weinberg, who died of COVID-19 earlier this year at age 74.
Pic of the Day
Doug Emhoff, husband of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, visited South Florida on a bus tour yesterday to kick off the state’s first day of early voting. He was joined by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) on his stop in Aventura.
Classical violinist and a 2008 winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Leila Josefowicz turns 43…
Economist who earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” during his tenure as the chief economist at Salomon Brothers during the 1970s, Henry Kaufman, Ph.D. turns 93… Poet, essayist and literary critic, Robert Pinsky turns 80… Professor at Ben Gurion University, a daughter of the late Shimon Peres, Tsvia Walden turns 74… One of two Grand Rebbes of Satmar, Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum turns 73… Miami Beach-based real estate developer, Russell W. Galbut turns 68… Actress and director of film and television, Melanie Mayron turns 68… Music composer, winner of six Grammys and an Emmy Award, Thomas Newman turns 65… Former longtime House Budget Committee staff director, now an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University, Tom Kahn turns 65…
Managing director and partner at Beacon Pointe Advisors, Jordan Heller turns 60… Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Katamon area and a leading figure at the Israel Democracy Institute, Rabbi Benny Lau turns 59… Russian TV and radio journalist, he is a member of the Russian Jewish Congress, Vladimir Solovyov turns 57… Democratic vice presidential nominee, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) turns 56… U.S. Senator from Hawaii since 2012, Brian Schatz (D-HI) turns 48… Israeli-born actress, she plays a recurring character on CBS’s “Seal Team,” Alona Tal turns 37… Boston-based progressive outreach director at AIPAC, Michael Clark turns 31… 2016 Columbia Law grad, now an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Evan G. Zuckerman turns 31… Director of Jewish enrichment and education at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Moshe “Moosh” Lencer turns 31…