Daily Kickoff: Day 7 in search for kidnapped boys | ‘Heeb’ & ‘Redskin’ | Iran digs in | Study: Listing Religion On Resume Hurts – Unless You’re Jewish

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

SCENE LAST NIGHT: The Endowment for Middle East Truth held its 8th annual dinner last night at the Grand Hyatt in downtown D.C. The evening’s featured speakers were Dr. Charles Krauthammer, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Krauthammer noted that while there are multiple narratives in the Middle East today, there is only one history and one set of facts…. Krauthammer compared middle east news analysis to watching the weather. “The evening news shows present the weather with a map of the entire United States and then five minutes later – when they move on to cover the middle east – Israel takes up the same screen space as the entire U.S… In reality, the Jordan River is like Rock Creek Park after a rainstorm… Mt Olives is a speed bump… And the Sea of Galilee is a pond that could easily disappear in Cape Cod. Your job is to tell Americans the reality and the truth.” (more…)

Daily Kickoff: Day 5 in search for kidnapped boys | Israel concerned about U.S. Iran cooperation | BuzzTorah: BuzzFeed for Jews | Lew to visit Israel

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

DAY 5: Netanyahu: It’s Going To Take Time: “We are here in the midst of a complex operation. We need to be prepared for the possibility that it may take time. This is a serious event and there will be serious consequences. We are working together in a considered, responsible and very determined manner.” Netanyahu urged the international community to decry the kidnapping: “I expect all responsible elements in the international community – some of whom rush to condemn us for any construction in this place or for enclosing a balcony in Gilo – to strongly condemn this reprehensible and deplorable act of abducting three youths.” After 5 days and without mentioning Hamas, the EU finally released a statement: “We condemn in the strongest terms the abduction of 3 Israeli students in the West Bank and call for their immediate release.” [Statement] (more…)

Daily Kickoff: Does Hillary have Christie’s ‘Occupation’ problem?; Bipartisan Senate Letter on PA GOV; Inside Story of (pending) Sterling Ballmer Deal

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

DRIVING THE DAYUPSET IN ISRAEL’S PRESIDENT ELECTION: Dovish Knesset member Meir Sheetrit surprised everyone this morning by surging to 2nd place in the first round of voting. Out of 117 qualified votes, frontrunner Reuven Rivlin came in first place with 44 votes, Sheetrit in second place with 31 votes and former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik with 28 votes. The momentum has now shifted towards Sheetrit as the top two face each other in the second round. WATCH LIVE BROADCAST [Knesset Channel] (more…)

Daily Kickoff: The Jewish Angle of Ken Vogel’s ‘Big Money’ Book; Clinton writes about Alan Gross in memoir; BuzzFeed on U.S.-Hamas back channel talks

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

FIRST LOOK: Ken Vogel’s New Book – ‘Big Money; 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp—on the trail of Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics’: “The main quote in Politico reporter Ken Vogel‘s new book is from Mark Hanna, an early political fundraiser who was famously quoted as saying: “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.” Vogel’s theme throughout the book is “Forget the 1 Percent. Only a tiny elite really matter in big money politics.” It just so happens that the “tiny elite” includes a significant amount of Jewish donors on both sides of the aisle. Jeffrey Katzenberg, George Soros, and Haim Saban on the left. Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer, and Steve Wynn on the right. (more…)

Daily Kickoff: Comparing Bergdahl to Shalit; Jewish U.S. Amb. LeVine’s Trend: Will.i.am in Israel; New Yorker – “What will be with Beny Steinmetz?”

By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

TOP TALKER: Obama administration to work with new PA-Hamas unity government: In what some are calling a new low in the U.S. – Israeli relationship, the Obama administration said on Monday that it will maintain relations and financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, earning a rebuke from Israel. “Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government, but will be watching closely to make sure it upholds the principles (honoring past agreements with Israel, renouncing violence and recognizing Israel) that President Abbas reiterated today,” DoS spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. (more…)

Amb. Dermer presents credentials to Obama

 

 

From today’s Jewish Insider Daily Kickoff email…

First Look – Ron Dermer profile in Politico Magazine by Ron Kampeas — ‘Bibi’s Brain’ Comes to Washington: Can Dermer, dubbed “Bibi’s Brain” by an American Jewish publication and “Bibi’s Mirror” by an Israeli newspaper, reset the fraught relationship between Obama and Netanyahu? The “yes, he can” argument goes something like this: No one knows Netanyahu better than Dermer, who is also one of the few Israelis to really understand the American political landscape. “Ron Dermer’s significance now cannot be overrated,” says Ari Shavit, a writer for the liberal Haaretz newspaper. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is probably the loneliest head of state one can imagine,” Shavit told me. “There are very few people he truly trusts and appreciates, and Ron Dermer is one of them. If Washington plays it right and Dermer plays it right and they enable America and Israel to start a new page—a new dialogue in which leading American players will find a way to his heart and mind while he finds a way to their hearts and minds—it might be good news.”

–The other view is that Dermer will entrench in Washington a bunker mentality that has isolated Netanyahu and helped perpetuate the breakdown in relations with Israel’s closest and most important ally. “Among the White House’s inner circle—Denis McDonough, Ben Rhodes—Dermer is a red flag,” says Barak Ravid, Haaretz’s political correspondent, referring respectively to the White House chief of staff and deputy national security adviser. “They see him as the guy who incited Congress and Jewish organizations against Obama.” It’s a reputation that Dermer’s defenders say is unfair—it does not take into account missteps by Obama and his team, and understates Netanyahu’s determinative role in shaping relations with Washington. But it is a reputation that continues to dog Dermer nonetheless. When I asked about him, a Democratic source on the Hill who is close to Jewish groups blamed Dermer for distributing talking points on Iran, critical of the White House, to Republican members of Congress. Asked for evidence, the source said, “Who else?”

–Nicolas Muzin, the director of coalitions for the House Republican Conference, says Dermer was respectful and never partisan in his pitch—but emphatic. “He’s been trying to make the case that the sanctions relief is more than dollar value because it’s the change in momentum [that really matters],” Muzin says, underscoring an Israeli claim that the $7 billion the Obama administration says Iran could earn from eased sanctions may be a low-ball figure.

His predecessor Michael Oren says he believes that Dermer can and will overcome the suspicion that he was an architect of the Netanyahu-Obama tensions. “I understand that was the perception of him, but the reality is going to be different, because it has to be,” Oren told me. “He’s going to understand that to be an effective ambassador, he has to be scrupulously bipartisan.” Differences over Iran will be a test. “Clearly the prime minister is not impressed with this arrangement,” Oren adds. “Does that mean you actively campaign against it, lobby against it, or are you briefing people on the Hill? I have a feeling it will be the latter. Over the next six months, Israel will try to have a close conversation with the administration over what we consider a safe deal.” Can Dermer straddle the line between presenting Israel’s case and pressuring the United States to embrace it? “Lobbying has a negative connotation. Lobbying is putting pressure on someone,” Oren notes. “What an ambassador does is explain. That doesn’t involve attacking the president’s position but explaining ours.” [PoliticoMag]