Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: August 20, 2019
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Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: August 20, 2019

Democratic candidate Steve Bullock decries Trump tweet ‘chaos,’ barring of Omar and Tlaib; Sen. Kristen Gillibrand questions Israel’s commitment to US alliance

Montana Governor Steve Bullock walks to a meeting during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/AP
Montana Governor Steve Bullock walks to a meeting during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/AP

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2020 PROFILE — Steve Bullock: Trump’s foreign policy via tweet causes chaos — by JI’s Ben Jacobs: Steve Bullock may be the first Democratic presidential hopeful to willingly compare himself to Rick Santorum. It’s not that he shares the former Pennsylvania senator’s conservative views or penchant for sweater vests. It’s simply that he’s an underdog in his presidential bid who is convinced he can make it.

The two-term Montana governor spoke to Jewish Insider over pizza in Washington D.C. just after an interview on “Fox News Sunday” in which he compared putting Ken Cuccinelli in charge of immigration policy to “putting Putin in charge of election security.” The statement about the arch-conservative former Virginia attorney general made headlines, a rare feat for Bullock, who entered the 2020 presidential race in May and did not qualify for the first debate in June as a result.

Bullock, who touts that he is the only Democratic candidate to have won in a Republican state, has often expressed his frustration with the debate rules set by the DNC. “The rules were well-intentioned,” but have rewarded candidates like billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent $10 million to reach the 130,000 unique contributors needed to qualify for the third debate in September. “That’s not grassroots democracy and I don’t think it’s probably good for the campaigns and it’s not good for the voters.” 

On foreign policy, Bullock expressed his disappointment that the Israeli government refused to let two members of Congress, Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), enter the country: “Any elected representative from Washington D.C. ought to be able to go to Israel.” He pointed a finger at President Donald Trump’s tweets forcing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hand in making the decision to ban the two congresswomen from Israel. Bullock also pointed to past statements by Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, that the two would be allowed to enter the country.

“That just shows you can’t have the chaos being caused by tweets and personal spite,” said the Montana Democrat. “There’s just no way to conduct foreign trade or foreign policy. And you know we’re still waiting two-and-a-half years in for this secret plan and how we’re going to have Middle East peace. We’ve been promised for two-and-a-half years. He’s made it actually a lot harder to get to a two-state solution.”

Bullock also condemned U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s decision to applaud the ban of Tlaib and Omar. When asked if it was appropriate, the Montana governor said “absolutely not, absolutely not.”

Bullock wouldn’t weigh in on whether Netanyahu was a racist, saying “it’s not up to me.” Instead, the governor said: “I don’t think that Netanyahu should be doing the president’s bidding. And I think this was more about the president’s bidding than it was about welcoming elected officials from our country who might have different views.” Click here to read the full feature: [JewishInsider]

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) questioned the Israeli government’s commitment to the U.S.-Israel alliance following its decision last week to bar entry to two members of Congress.

“Congress has a duty to make decisions about whether we give aid, how we protect allies such as Israel with qualitative military edge,” she said. “I don’t know why Netanyahu would want to deny members of Congress to come to Israel if they expect us to be that never-ending partner and friend.” 

The 2020 presidential candidate further suggested that the president should hold Israel “accountable” for its decision to bar entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), although she didn’t illustrate what that meant. “I think our obligation, as an ally and as a friend is to hold them accountable when they’re wrong,” Gillibrand explained. “And I think any time you are undermining basic free speech rights and human rights, you’re going in the wrong direction.” [JewishInsider]

Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC — which has hosted fundraisers for Gillibrand in the past — tells JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that while his organization “had great hopes for her,” he’s not surprised by the New York senator’s comments since it’s unclear now “where she stands on anything.”

Chouake pointed to Gillibrand’s vote against the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, known as S.1, and her support of the Iran nuclear deal. “Frankly, she keeps saying how pro-Israel she is. But I think she has to rethink what she’s saying,” Chouake said. “If you always have an excuse to say the wrong thing or vote the wrong way, you are not doing the right thing.”

Chouake stated that Omar and Tlaib “singled themselves out as people who are antisemitic” by “facilitating BDS — which is an antisemitic movement — and facilitating damage to Israel” and insisting on planning a trip of their own. “They had the opportunity to go with 70 of their fellow Congresspeople on a trip to Israel… If they came like anyone else, it wouldn’t have been an issue.” 

REPORT — Netanyahu singled out Tlaib and Omar as the “antithesis” of “strong bipartisan support for Israel in the United States Congress” in a June 2 letter to Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), The Washington Post reported on Monday. The letter was a response to a call issued by 17 Democratic lawmakers — including Tlaib and Omar — to intervene in the planned deportation of Omar Shakir, the director of the Human Rights Watch office in Israel, for his support of BDS.

Netanyahu’s luck in forging a strong alliance with Trump and the GOP “could run out” if the president loses re-election to one of the many Democrats who spoke out against Israel’s decision, The Associated Press notes.

RECESS RUCKUS — Reps. Tlaib and Omar blasted Israel’s move to deny their group entry as U.S. members of Congress at a press conference in St. Paul, Minnesota on Monday.

Tlaib said she struggled with the decision to decline Israel’s offer to visit her grandmother in the West Bank, but decided she couldn’t travel until she was a “free, American, United States congresswoman.” Holding back tears, Tlaib recalled watching her family experience “dehumanizing checkpoints” during a prior trip to the region.

Omar, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested that Congress should reconsider U.S. aid to Israel as a response. “We give Israel more than $3 million [the real figure is closer to $3 billion] in aid every year. This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region and the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East. But denying [a] visit to duly-elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally. And denying millions of people freedom of movement or expression or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy.”

Despite the cancellation of the planned trip, Omar encouraged her colleagues to travel to Israel. “We have a responsibility to conduct oversight over our government’s foreign policy and what happens with the millions of dollars we send in aid,” Omar said. “We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us. So I call on all of you to go… Meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear.” [Video]

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement: “Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have a well-documented history of antisemitic comments, antisemitic social media posts and antisemitic relationships. Israel has the right to prevent people who want to destroy it from entering the country.”

Writing in The Washington Post, Gershom Gorenberg asks… “Is Israel a vassal state now? Netanyahu seemed to be the Trump-whisperer. He had it figured: Compliment Trump, ignore the stink of antisemitism around him, and the president would do whatever you want — move the embassy to Jerusalem, recognize annexation of the Golan Heights, erase the two-state solution from U.S. policy. Who needs Democrats? Who needs Congress?” [WashPost]

Jewish Insider continued its discussion on Monday about “the idea of Israel vs. the State of Israel.” Thinkers from Abe Foxman to Daniel Gordis, Amanda Berman and Jonathan Sarna, as well as JDCA’s Ron Klein, and Michael Salberg, formerly at Conference of Presidents, weighed in. [JewishInsider]

OUT TODAY — The secret to Israelis’ startup success? — by JI’s Amy Spiro: You could read Inbal Arieli’s new book, Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as a guide to business innovation or parenting. Either way, Arieli’s ideas are likely to raise eyebrows among some Americans, which is in many ways exactly what the author wants.

Chutzpah, published today, paints a remarkably sunny picture of Israeli education and parenting, portraying the country’s societal approaches to upbringing as the ideal breeding ground for innovation, entrepreneurship and startup success.

“I think Israeli kids are actually training the relevant muscles that will enable them in the future to adapt to the future, whatever that will be,” Arieli told Jewish Insider during a recent interview in Tel Aviv. And though the kibbutz model is long in the past and approaches to parenting are ever-changing, “in the context of entrepreneurship and in the context of innovation… I’m very optimistic about what’s happening in Israel.”

Arieli’s book traces the upbringing of the average Israeli — from nursery school through childhood to enlisting in the army and even the prevalent practice of a post-army trip around the world — through the lens of preparing them for life as an entrepreneur. Every step along that journey, she argues, equips Israelis with the skills and savvy to be successful in the start-up economy. 

After serving in Unit 8200, the IDF’s elite intelligence unit, and working for 20 years in Israel’s technology sector, Arieli believes she has found the secret sauce behind Israel’s remarkable startup success. Helicopter parents — and others at varying points along the parenting spectrum — may take issue with Arieli extolling the virtues of kindergarteners playing in a junkyard, children setting their own bonfires, and the army handing a rifle to every 18-year-old in the country. But Arieli believes that everyone who reads Chutzpah can take the concepts behind it to their own conclusions.

“The idea is not to replicate Israel,” she said. “The idea is definitely not to replicate the military. The idea is to take some of the frameworks and principles behind them and adapt them to different communities, different neighborhoods, different types of people, different ages. But it’s all about the principles behind it.”

Those principles include instilling in young people the tools to explore without fear, to innovate and experiment from a young age, to be independent and take on responsibility as teens and to not be afraid of failure. Read Arieli’s advice for her three sons and her views on BDS and business in the full profile: [JewishInsider]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — American chutzpah vs. Israeli chutzpah ―are they really all that different? Using anecdotes and stories ranging from Sodom and Gomorrah to Hollywood television pitches, Malcolm Gladwell does a deep dive into the contrast on the latest episode of his Revisionist History podcast. [RevisionistHistory]

TALK OF THE REGION — Palestinian Authority police have threatened to crack down on a scheduled upcoming LGBT gathering, The Associated Pressreported. According to AP, police said Sunday they would “pursue this gathering” and seek charges against anyone involved in it. Separately, on Monday PA President Mahmoud Abbas fired all his advisors and demanded they return money already paid to them. Palestinian officials said the decision was part of an effort to cut costs and recuperate funds after a halt in Israel delivering tax revenues.

IRAN WATCH — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview that aired Monday that the United States and its allies are “the source of instability in the region.” But Zarif said Iran wouldn’t take military action against the U.S., saying: “We will not. We have never done that, in the past 250 years. We have defended ourselves. And we have taught good lessons to those who invaded us.”

Holt also spoke with Ali Shamkhani, the head of Iran’s National Security Council, who said that the risk of war is low, but “in the case of war, the U.S. will be in a very terrible situation, and its regional allies as well.” Shamkhani also said that signing the 2015 nuclear deal was a mistake. [Video]

On Monday, an Iranian oil tanker set sail for Greece after it was freed from detention in Gibraltar. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the release was “unfortunate,” and State Department officials say they have warned Greece and other Mediterranean nations against aiding the tanker. 

2020 BRIEFS — Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have similar ideasbut competing paths to 2020 victory… Warren offers public apology over her claim to tribal heritage… Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has centered his campaign around climate, unlikely to qualify for CNN’s climate change town hall… After the likely demise of Bill de Blasio’s campaign, what comes next?… Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defended her push for then-Sen. Al Franken to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations — but she’s not opposed to his political comeback.

DONOR CIRCUIT — Kamala Harris courts big donors in the Hamptons — by Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou and Amanda Gordon: “Teslas and Maseratis lined the street as Kamala Harris greeted guests… at a fund-raiser hosted by movie executive Jamie Patricof and his wife Kelly as the summer of Democratic fund-raisers rolled on in East Hampton… In the woods of Water Mill, at the home of public-relations executive Michael Kempner, Aretha Franklin and Alicia Keys songs played in the background as… Centerview Partners’ Blair Effron and Citigroup’s Ray McGuire waited to hear Harris’s pitch… It was Harris’s chance to meet big Wall Street names: Democratic donor Nicolas Rohatyn, Blackstone’s Bennett Goodman, Alibaba executive J Michael Evans… and Chad Leat, formerly at Citigroup.”

“Front-runner Biden raised money at the waterfront residence of Sherry and Alan Leventhal, the chairman of Beacon Capital Partners, in Cape Cod this weekend.” [Bloomberg]

Writer and filmmaker Ben Howe on why Evangelicals support Trump in an interview with The Atlantic’s Emma Green: “Trump’s appeal is not judges. It’s not policies. It’s that he’s a shit-talker and a fighter and tells it like it is. That’s what they like. They love the meanest parts of him.” [TheAtlantic]

** Good Tuesday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jeffrey Epstein created trust with $578 million days before suicide [Bloomberg] • Sotheby’s sale to Patrick Drahi attracts new investor criticism [FinancialTimes] • Leon Black’s Apollo Global looking to buy $2.4B Hilton time-share operator [NYPost• Viacom and CBS executives to earn big bucks in merger deal [WSJ• Ukrainian tycoon Vadim Shulman lists Malibu mansion for nearly twice what he paid [RealDeal• Israeli tycoons’ holding groups have been cut down to size [Haaretz] • Israeli bitcoin holders take on banks [Globes• Dimri joins bidding for Africa-Israel [Globes]

SPOTLIGHT — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo names Eric Gertler as new state economic czar — by Jimmy Vielkind: “Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, announced the appointment of Mr. Gertler as president and CEO of Empire State Development on Monday… Mr. Gertler, who is 56 years old, is executive chairman of U.S. News & World Report and worked as co-publisher of the New York Daily News from 2015 to 2017… Mr. Gertler has been a member of the ESD board since June 2018, and accompanied Mr. Cuomo earlier this year on a trip to Israel.” [WSJ]

GROOVY INTERVIEW — Woodstock ‘69 co-founder reflects on the festival that defined a generation — by JI’s Melissa Weiss: Fifty years ago, hundreds of thousands of music lovers flocked to upstate New York with only the vaguest idea that they were about to be a part of history. Billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” Woodstock would leave a lasting mark on the American psyche. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the festival, JI spoke to Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang about the legacy of that historic weekend.

“We were dealing with the civil rights movement and women’s rights and the beginning of the concern for the planet and trying to end what we thought was an unjust war,” Lang said of the original festival. “And today we have Black Lives Matter and we have the #metoo movement and we have climate deniers in the White House and that’s really what… motivated us to have another festival, to sort of reengage the public in those issues because everybody’s got to take responsibility.” [JewishInsider]

HOLLYWOOD — Emotions stir in Jerusalem as HBO’s ‘Our Boys’ hits local airwaves — by Rami Ayyub: “‘I wish I could reach into the screen and grab hold of my son,’ [Mohammad] Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, told Reuters, her voice breaking, soon after watching the first two episodes of the series, a co-production of HBO and Israel’s Keshet International and produced by Movie Plus. ‘The show brought me right back to the pain, to the day he was kidnapped,’ she said… But some bereaved Israeli families have said the show largely glosses over the murder of the three Israeli teens, who are referenced throughout the series but not included as characters.” [Reuters]

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” season 3: Midge is going on the road — by Yohana Desta: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is back. No, not that ill-fated 30-cent gas tie-in, or the Drybar tie-in, or the Hollywood Roosevelt stay tie-in—but the show! The actual show! In the midst of heavy Emmy campaigning for season two, Amazon dropped a teaser for season three of the award-winning series… Season three will hit Amazon on December 6.” [VanityFair]

COMING SOON — Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an entertainment industry non-profit organization dedicated to promoting arts as a means to peace in the Middle East, will honor several music business executives — including Aaron Bay-Schuck, Jacqueline Saturn, Troy Carter, Walter Kolm and Ziggy Marley — at its second annual Celebrating Ambassadors of Peace gala on Sep. 26 at the Holmby Hills home of entertainment attorney Gary Stiffelman.[Variety]

SPORTS BLINK — Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — by Lorenzo Reyes: “Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, currently the coach of Olympiacos Piraeus, announced in a letter posted to Greek team’s website that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. [The Israeli-American] Blatt, 60, said he was diagnosed with the condition ‘a few months ago’ and said he has experienced weakness in his legs, fatigue, and balance and strength issues. Despite the diagnosis, Blatt said he intends to maintain his job and ‘find ways to continue my life as normally as possible.’” [USAToday] • Read the letter in full here [Eurohoops]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Why many evangelical Christians now celebrate Jewish holidays — by Dan Hummel: “Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians have adopted Jewish dress, practices and Hebrew language in prayer and worship. These range from the anodyne (blowing shofars and wearing prayer shawls) to liturgical (singing in Hebrew and mirroring synagogue Torah readings) to the overtly political (adopting Jewish symbols in Christian Zionist branding and partnering with Israel to promote shared interests)… the development of this new practice is about more than just politics. It is also historical and theological. Marking the somberness of Tisha B’Av has become a way to atone for Christian atrocities against Jewish people.” [WashPost]

Man accused of threatening an Ohio Jewish center declared himself a white nationalist in a documentary, police say — by Dakin Andone, Amir Vera and Eliott McLaughlin: “The man accused of threatening to shoot up a Jewish community center in Youngstown, Ohio, once appeared in a documentary on the Unite the Right rally, where he acknowledged being a white nationalist, police say… In the documentary, Reardon tells an interviewer that he doesn’t consider himself a neo-Nazi, but he is a white nationalist and a member of the alt-right… The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation said it had arranged for extra security at the community center and area synagogues.” [CNN]

California high-school students sang Nazi song and gave Hitler salute — by Davis Richardson: “Video reviewed by The Daily Beast shows about 10 members of the boys’ water polo team at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California, throwing the salute once used to greet Adolf Hitler while singing a Nazi marching song played for German troops during World War II. It’s the second such incident in the region in the year… Rabbi Peter Levi, director of the Anti Defamation League’s Orange County chapter, criticized the school for apparently failing to address the incident with the community.” [DailyBeast

— According to The Washington Post, the school said Monday it “strongly” condemned the video, but administrators “would not say how students were disciplined or why officials did not immediately tell the school community about the incident.” [WashPost]

ACROSS THE SEA — Hong Kong protesters love Pepe the Frog. No, they’re not alt-right — by Daniel Victor: “Ask the Anti-Defamation League, and they will tell you Pepe the Frog is a hate symbol, a cheerleader of racism and antisemitism, a friend of alt-right extremists… So it can be a bit jarring to see Pepe in his new role: a pro-democracy freedom fighter in the Hong Kong protests, siding with the people in their struggle against an authoritarian state. The protesters here hold signs with his image, use stickers of him in messaging apps and discussion forums, and even spray paint his face on walls… Mari Law, a 33-year-old protester,,, said it did not matter because Pepe did not carry the same toxic reputation in Hong Kong. Most of the protesters don’t know about the alt-right association, he said.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT — Jewish Food Festival feeds spirit of inclusion — by Jon O’Connell: “From his seat behind the cash register, Steve Sherman did more than take orders for corned beef and schnitzel sandwiches. Hungry guests who put in orders with him at the five-day Jewish Food Festival’s kickoff Sunday in Nay Aug Park [in Scranton, Pennsylvania] might have been greeted in the language of their ancestors… While fun for Sherman and the kaleidoscope of guests he served on Sunday, his multilingual hospitality fed a greater spirit of inclusion and harmony that festival organizers strive for every year.”[CitizensVoice]

West End of London’s only kosher restaurant Reubens to reopen after rescue by restaurateur — by Joanna Bourke: “A London dining entrepreneur has saved the West End’s only kosher restaurant and plans to reopen it after a major makeover. Restaurateur Lee Landau has bought the lease for Reubens which closed suddenly this year and has ‘significant’ plans to revamp the venue. It comes three months after the deli and restaurant… shut ‘due to a family bereavement.’” [EveningStandard]

REMEMBERING — Liane Russell, who studied radiation’s effects on embryos, dies at 95 — by Katharine Q. Seelye: “Dr. Liane B. Russell, a pioneer in the study of the dangers of radiation on developing embryos, whose findings are the reason doctors today ask women if they are pregnant before giving them X-rays, died on July 20 in a hospital in Oak Ridge, Tenn… Liane Brauch was born on Aug. 27, 1923, in Vienna… Lee was 14 when Germany invaded Austria in 1938. The family, which was Jewish, was able to escape by surrendering their home and Mr. Brauch’s business and leaving behind all  their belongings.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Laguna Hills’s Phoebe Bryan turns 78… Director of the National Economic Council at the White House, Larry Kudlow turns 72… Former Secretary of Labor for the State of Kansas, Lana Goodman Gordonturns 69… Born in Rehovot, Israel, he served as the mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba until 2014, Samuel Michael “Sam” Katz turns 68… Senior director at NYC-based investment bank Maxim Group, Jay A. Knopf turns 63… Member of Congress representing Illinois’ 10th, Brad Schneider turns 58… Chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s National King David Society, Suzanne Barton Grant turns 58…

Vice chairman and president of strategic growth at Mastercard, Ambassador Michael Froman turns 57… Moroccan-born French-Israeli billionaire and founder of the Altice Group, Patrick Drahi turns 56… Former British Ambassador to Israel, the first Jewish UK ambassador to be posted to Tel Aviv, he is now the CEO for NHSX, Matthew Gould turns 48… Director of media relations at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Ari Goldberg turns 46… Executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Abigail Michelson Porth turns 44…

Deputy director and one of the founders of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, Karen Brunwasser turns 43… Senior advisor and resident scholar of Jewish/Israel philanthropy at The Paul E. Singer Foundation, previously a lecturer at Brandeis University, Rachel Lea Fish, Ph.D. turns 40… VP managing the Iowa office of Cornerstone Government Affairs and executive committee member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, David Ryan Adelman turns 38… Real estate agent, author and television personality on “Million Dollar Listing” Los Angeles, Joshua Daniel “Josh” Flagg turns 34..

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