Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: August 5, 2019

Lindsey Graham lashes out at Iran over tanker seizure; Bernie talks like a Jew from Brooklyn and you need to get over it; The cold case team searching for Anne Frank’s betrayer

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, speaks during the National Education Association Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum, July 5, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, speaks during the National Education Association Strong Public Schools Presidential Forum, July 5, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here or for early 7AM access via Debut Inbox

COMING SOON — ‘OUR BOYS’ ON HBO: The contentious, dramatic events that marred the summer of 2014 in Israel will be dramatized in the HBO series “Our Boys,” which premieres a week from today on August 12.

On June 12, 2014, three Israeli teenagers — Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’er and Naftali Fraenkel — were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. After a nationwide search of more than two weeks that left the country on edge, their bodies were found dumped in a field. Two days later, the burned body of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir was discovered in a western Jerusalem forest. “Our Boys” follows the Shin Bet’s investigation into Abu Khdeir’s murder, revealing an unexpected story that the show’s creators believe is worth retelling — for both dramatic and political reasons. 

Joseph Cedar, one of the Israeli creators of the show, explained to Jewish Insider why the miniseries focuses more on the murder of Abu Khdeir, and less on the killing of the three Israeli teens or the ensuing Israeli-Gaza war. “There’s also a political reason for us focusing on the aggression and not the victimhood,” he said. “Holding onto victimhood creates more aggression. Examining your own aggression prevents the next victim. We’re not interested in our own victimhood, not because we don’t sympathize with the pain but, because we have an interest in stopping the cycle.” Read our full preview of “Our Boys” here [JewishInsider] • Watch the trailer[HBO]

WORTH NOTING: “Our Boys” was greenlit by Richard Plepler — who until just a few months ago served as HBO’s chairman and CEO — after he was pitched the idea by Avi Nir of Keshet Media. It’s notable because Plepler credits a documentary he produced in 1990 about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the first intifada — that caught the attention of then-CEO of HBO, Michael Fuchs — with bringing him to HBO in the first place.

MAJOR TRANSITION — William Daroff has been appointed CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Daroff, who is currently the senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America, will replace Malcolm Hoenlein, who served as executive vice chairman of the organization for the past 33 years.

TOP TALKER — At least 29 people were murdered in mass shootings in the United States over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The Anti-Defamation League expressed deep sadness” following the mass shooting in El Paso. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that “thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. We have documented a rise in extremist activity, both online and in our communities.” The American Jewish Committee called for greater gun control measures, while the Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso said it was concerned about increased gun violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his cabinet meeting on Sunday with comments on the attacks, tweeting that “In the past 24 hours we have witnessed 2 murderous attacks in Texas and Ohio. On behalf of all government ministers and all citizens of Israel I send condolences to the bereaved families, best wishes for recovery to the injured and solidarity with the mourning of the American people.”

2020 Democrats, appearing on the Sunday talk shows, blamed President Donald Trump for using rhetoric that is appealing to white nationalists, with some candidates calling the president himself a white nationalist. “[Trump] is fueling a climate that is tearing at the fabric and fueling an environment where white supremacists and people who have ill will are finding more and more license to strike out against the vulnerable,” Sen. Cory Booker charged on CNN’s State of the Union.

On Sunday afternoon, Trump told reporters: “Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it… I will be making a statement tomorrow at about 10 o’clock.”

Washington Examiner editorial… “Trump must name and condemn the evil of white nationalism: Trump ought to use the bully pulpit to become a leading crusader against white nationalism and racism… Trump should deliver a prime-time speech as soon as possible that names the evil at play here and denounces it.” [WashExaminer]

Ivanka Trump tweeted on Sunday: “White supremacy, like all other forms of terrorism, is an evil that must be destroyed.”

FIRST LOOK — Ivanka’s Eternal Ambitions — by Vanessa Grigoriadis: “The Hamptons season was in full, humid swing when Ivanka Trump went missing at its most important geezer party. Each Fourth of July weekend, Lally Weymouth, the 76-year-old daughter of the Washington Post’s former owners, celebrates her birthday with an event that’s like a “D.C.–New York–glitterati bar mitzvah,” says Anthony Scaramucci… Weymouth’s crowd is the mix of politicos, media personalities, and financiers that drives Americans crazy — they’re supposed to hate each other, not party together — from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to Democratic fund-raiser Alan Patricof to ex-titans like former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.”

“This is the scene Ivanka liked before she arrived at the White House, a scene that occasionally tolerated her father but more often excluded him… But this year Ivanka didn’t go to Lally’s to kiss the ring. Did she think her role as adviser to the president meant she was better than them, this crowd whose members travel here from midtown helipads, own four or five houses, and have their names emblazoned in fine stainless-steel letters on cancer wings?” [NYMag

IRAN WATCH — Iran seized a foreign tanker in the Gulf on Wednesday night, the third such seizure in a month, the Fars news agency reported on Sunday. Seven crew members were arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Rafael Grossi, an Argentine diplomat who is in the running to take over the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after the death of Yukiya Amano, told the Financial Times that the agency had to “tell it as it is” when it comes to reporting about Iran’s attempt to violate the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

REPORT — The White House extended an invitation to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last month, The New Yorker reported on Saturday. The offer was delivered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) during a meeting with Zarif in New York on July 15th.

According to the report, Zarif outlined Tehran’s conditions on engaging in talks with the U.S. about their nuclear program, but said he expected a more gracious offer. When Paul suggested that he would lay out his demands to the president in person, Zarif said the decision was not his to make. In the end, Iran’s leaders refused to approve such a meeting “at this time.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in a statement posted on Twitterthat such a meeting “would dramatically undercut our position of strength against Iran. It sends a message the more provocative you are the more we want to talk with you. Our Arab allies & Israelis would feel more at risk and more likely to act alone. [The] U.S. has nothing to meet with Iranians about until they change their behavior.”

Graham’s criticism is noteworthy after The Daily Beast reported on Thursday that the senior Republican senator has been tapped by the Trump administration to find an alternative to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), emails JI: “It’s always a bad idea to show the regime in Iran that you’re desperate for a deal. We learned that lesson from Obama and Kerry’s unbridled eagerness which resulted in the fatally flawed Iran nuclear deal. Trump should be careful of repeating that mistake or he will end up with a deal just as bad, or worse.”

Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), tells JI: “I think this offer was made to the wrong person and at the wrong time. First, Zarif doesn’t have the decision-making authority as foreign minister and he’s not the person to whom the president of the United States should be speaking to. The administration should aim for dialogue with someone who derives his authority from the supreme leader because it is Ayatollah Khamenei who has constitutional control over the armed forces and foreign policy. Second, Tehran needs the talks more than Washington does. Iran’s economy is on life support, not the United States. The U.S. government can’t be seen as more desperate to talk than Iran.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Sources in Jordan reported that King Abdullah II rejected a recent request to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the king is skeptical about Trump’s reported plan for a summit at Camp David and believes that Jared Kushner’s recent visit was aimed at helping Netanyahu win the upcoming Israeli election. According to Haaretz, the prime minister’s office denied the report.

CONGRESS ON THE MOVE — A congressional delegation (CODEL) of Democratic House members is embarking on a weeklong visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories starting today. The 41-member delegation is led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chair of the House Democratic Caucus. During their visit, the delegation will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Benny Gantz, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. They will also meet with young Palestinian entrepreneurs, Israeli civil society leaders, and peace activists, Hoyer’s office said.

The trip is sponsored by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). A group of Republican freshman congressmen are expected to arrive on Friday for a similar trip.

2020 WATCH — Detroit Jews are caught between a rock named Trump and a hard choice among Democrats — by Ron Kampeas: “The picture emerged of a community stuck between a rock and a hard place, grappling with a president that most Jewish voters revile for his apparent biases and a Democratic Party that appears increasingly driven by its Israel-critical left wing. Locally, a large Muslim-American community’s sympathies often extend to Israel’s regional rivals and enemies… At the Jewish federation round table, there was a consensus: The Palestinian-American freshman in the 13th District has got to go.” [JTA]

The NRCC is accusing Democrats of antisemitism — including Jewish members of Congress — by Gabe Schneider: “The House campaign arm of the Republican party has made name-calling a part of its strategy for 2020… As part of this campaign of ruthlessness, they’ve called House Democrats ‘deranged’ and ‘socialists.’ (A lot.) They’ve called Minnesota’s Collin Peterson ‘cranky.’ They’ve also called House Democrats ‘antisemitic.’… One big problem with leveling the charges of antisemitism far and wide: several of the House Democrats labeled as antisemitic are themselves Jewish. And Rep. Emmer is not.” [MinnPost]

2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden mounted a fierce defense of Obama legacy after the debate attacks… How Bernie Sanders changed the health-care debate… Elizabeth Warren has lots of plans. But not on health care… Kamala Harris: We are not without hope on gun reform… A string of gun deaths reshapes the Democratic primary.

Bernie talks like a Jewish man from Brooklyn and you need to get over it — by Leila Ettachfini: “Following the debate, many American Jews voiced their disappointment over critiques against Sanders’s speech patterns. While linguist and professor of contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College Sarah Bunin Benor said she doesn’t believe these critiques of Sanders’s speech are inherently antisemitic, she does agree that they reveal an unfamiliarity with the way Jews, particularly Jewish New Yorkers, speak… According to The Yiddish Book Center, 47 percent of Jews report having been told their style of speech was too aggressive, compared to 36 percent of non-Jews.” [Vice]

DONOR CIRCUIT — Rookie bundlers power Buttigieg fundraising surge — by Maggie Severns and Daniel Strauss: “‘There is a tremendous cooperative spirit about being helpful to each other’ among Buttigieg bundlers, said Susan Turnbull, a former vice chair of the DNC and a donor to the campaign. ‘People want to support each other and make everyone successful.’” [Politico

Big-name GOP donors boost Gardner in 2020 — by Robin Bravender: “Casino magnate [Sheldon] Adelson and his wife, Miriam, each maxed out to Gardner’s campaign in June.” [ColoradoIndependent]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Israel’s Channel 13 News reported on Sunday that Sheldon Adelson told police investigators that he won’t meet with Netanyahu after “reading in the paper” about this alleged efforts to undermine Israel Hayom through Knesset legislation.

The top 40 Likud Party candidates pledged their allegiance to Netanyahu on Sunday, a day after Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Lieberman said he would support a different Likud leader, naming Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Other political parties mocked the pledge on Monday, with Labor staging a “pledge to human beings,” Ayelet Shaked announcing a “commitment to right-wing values” and the Democratic Union staging 40 life-size cardboard cutouts of Netanyahu, each with the name of a different Knesset member, outside Likud Party headquarters.

Netanyahu apologized on Sunday to his country’s ambassador to Panama, a member of Israel’s Arabic-speaking Druze minority, after he and his family were given extra security screening before departing from Tel Aviv’s airport.

** Good Monday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Ron Perelman’s massive Apollo fundraiser to end after 10 years [PageSix] • Bauer Media Group acquires website building startup Camilyo [Calcalist] • Israel Defense Ministry unveils ‘combat vehicle of the future’ [Bloomberg] • The launch of Spacecom’s communications satellite, Amos 17, has been delayed until Wednesday [Globes Palestinian app helps drivers avoid Israeli checkpoint bottlenecks [Reuters]

SPOTLIGHT — ‘Minnow swallowing a whale’: How the smallest bank in America grew into the biggest in Michigan — by Chad Livengood: “‘We should buy a bank in Michigan, because nobody’s buying banks in Michigan,’ longtime Detroit real estate developer Gary Torgow recalls [David] Provost telling him. Torgow, who served on Provost’s board at the Bank of Bloomfield Hills, bought into the idea and the pair identified the brand-new, teeny-tiny First Michigan Bank in Troy, which at the time had $700,000 in assets and was the smallest bank in America based on deposits… Twelve years later, Torgow and Provost have their hands on the wheel of TCF Bank, now the nation’s 27th-largest bank with $47 billion in assets and $35 billion in deposits.” [Crains]

HOLLYWOOD — Gal Gadot will play Hedy Lamarr in a new Showtime limited series — by Kevin Fitzpatrick: “Months after rumors circulated about a Hedy Lamarr Showtime series, the network has confirmed that Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot will not only star in a limited series about the industry legend, but executive produce the project as well… The series will be written and executive produced by The Affair co-creator Sarah Treem, joining executive producers Warren Littlefield (The Handmaid’s Tale), Katie Robbins (The Last Tycoon) and Gadot’s husband Yaron Varsano.”[VanityFair]

Batwoman EP confirms Kate will be Jewish — by Nicole Drum: “Not only will Kate Kane/Batwoman be an out lesbian, but she’ll be Jewish as well. During The CW’s Batwoman presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday, Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries confirmed that Kate Kane will be a Jewish woman and will be presented that way, even if it’s only one part of who she is. ‘Kate Kane is a Jewish woman,’ Dries said. She went on to explain that, while her religious background is ‘not a huge thing’ in terms of overall story, they are looking for ways to make it clear that her Jewish identity is represented on screen.” [ComicBook]

LONG READ — A cold case team is searching for who betrayed Anne Frank — by Sydney Combs: “After more than two years of hiding above her father’s warehouse, Anne Frank and seven others were discovered by Nazi German and Dutch officials on August 4, 1944. The search for who — or what — might have exposed their location continues 75 years later. Today, historians, data scientists, and even a cold-case forensic team are using new technology to identify the informant—with some suggesting that, perhaps, Frank was discovered by accident.” [NationalGeographic]

You can read Yuval Noah Harari’s book in Russian, except for the parts about Russia — by Ivan Nechepurenko and Alexandra Alter: “Andrei Chernikov, an information-technology specialist from western Ukraine, was near the end of Yuval Noah Harari’s book ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century‘ when he stumbled onto something that concerned him directly — a description in the ‘Post-Truth’ chapter of how Russia’s government in 2014 attempted to hide its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Mr. Chernikov, 35, was reading a hard copy of the book in Ukrainian, but when he switched to the Russian e-book version on his tablet, the same chapter contained different material. Instead of events in Crimea, it began with an analysis of President Trump’s statements to illustrate the proliferation of fake news in the modern world…  The New York Times found that the Russian version of the book was heavily censored, with mentions of the fighting in Ukraine and Crimea removed and criticism of the Russian government toned down or cut, among other changes.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THE TOWN — Four more charged in Jewish ‘cult’ alleged kidnapping plot — by Andrew Denney: “Four more alleged members of Lev Tahor, an extremist Jewish sect based in Guatemala, have been charged with taking part in a plot to nab two children who are living with their mother upstate and take them back to their father at the group’s compound.. The defendants allegedly had the children dress in nonreligious clothing to disguise who they were and then flew them from Pennsylvania to Mexico.” [NYPost]

How the fate of a rapper’s mural lit a fuse in Crown Heights — by Hannah Dreyfus: “The owner of a new kosher steakhouse in Crown Heights wanted the mural painted over, according to the rumor… But a story that began with concern over the preservation of a neighborhood’s cultural heritage rapidly devolved into threats and hate speech… On July 23, New York State Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson and Rabbi Yaacov Behrman, a Chabad-Hasidic community liaison, organized a meeting for community members and local politicians at Meat, the kosher steakhouse in the middle of the controversy… suddenly, community council president James Caldwell interrupted the heated discussions to say there had been a major misunderstanding. It turns out that about 10 days before the meeting, Apolinar Severino, the owner of the building housing the mural, had told Mr. Caldwell that he claimed full responsibility for attempting to paint over the image of Mr. Price.” [NYTimes]

Rabbi: Family of Sahara Sam’s drowning victim showed ‘grace and dignity’ — by Sheri Berkery: “After [Rabbi Yisroel Tzvi Serebrowski] learned a 9-year-old boy from Brooklyn had drowned during a camp outing at the West Berlin water park, he was soon on his way to a hospital again… Once at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, Serebrowski was struck by the overwhelming support for a grieving family who was far from home… The parents, who are part of a close-knit Hasidic Jewish community, do not speak English, he said. ‘I told them, ‘We did everything we could for your child. We did what we would do for our own child. We didn’t leave your child alone for a moment. I hope that gives you some measure of comfort.’ …Even in the face of unimaginable grief, the boys’ parents showed composure, Serebrowski said.” [CourierPost]

Christie’s teams up with the FBI to help return vases looted by the Nazis to the heirs of their Jewish owner — by Naomi Rea: “Christie’s auction house teamed up with the FBI’s art crime team in New York to return a pair of Nazi-looted vases to their rightful owners. The bronze, fire-gilded, Louis XVI vases, which are estimated to be worth around $120,000, were returned [on] August 1, to the descendants of their original Jewish owner in a ceremony held at the U.S. embassy in Berlin… Christie’s researched the history of the vases after they were consigned to the auction house for sale by an unnamed collector or dealer.” [ArtNetFoxnews]

After flight from Israel diverted to Cleveland Hopkins, this Clevelander made sure no passengers went hungry — by Susan Glaser: “The massive Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner that landed unexpectedly at Cleveland Hopkins airport this week was impossible for Dan Eleff to ignore. First, it’s not an airplane that normally flies to Cleveland. Second, it was filled with travelers from Israel, many of whom, Eleff speculated, keep kosher and might get hungry if their unplanned layover in Cleveland dragged on into the night. So Eleff, of Beachwood, an ordained rabbi who runs the travel website DansDeals[dot]com, sprung to action, buying food for the travelers and then delivering it to the airport.” [ThePlainDealer]

DEEP DIVE — How Nigeria’s Jews are getting caught in a new separatist war — by Orji Sunday: “Africa’s most populous nation has seen its Jewish population double over the past five years to an estimated 10,000 people. Synagogues in the country have also doubled in this period, from fewer than 10 to at least 20 today. But now, the community finds itself increasingly caught in a violent battle between Nigerian authorities and a revived secessionist movement for the creation of Biafra, which briefly existed as a separate nation in the 1960s.” [Ozy]

DESSERT — Kosher deli on ‘Billionaire’s Row’ takes landlord to court to fight eviction — by Kathianne Boniello: “A longtime kosher deli that says it’s the lone holdout against a big Billionaire’s Row demolition project wants a judge to save it from eviction. Cafe Classico, which has been around for 19 years and has a lease through 2040, sits in a five-story building next to a gaping hole in West 57th Street… The restaurant claims landlord 35 West Realty Co. has threatened to give it the boot over insufficient insurance coverage…  But the landlord is really just looking for a reason to get the eatery out so it and another developer can continue with the ‘major development project’ set for the space, Cafe Classico claims in a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.” [NYPost

Kosher food merger opens new chapter for famous name — by Joseph Berger: “This week Kayco, formally known as the Kenover Marketing Corporation, announced that it had reached an understanding with the Manischewitz Company to acquire its panoply of products… The company’s portfolio will be trimmed down to its Season brand, known for sardines that are popular with nonkosher consumers… Since by some estimates the two companies make up more than 50 percent of the kosher market, the announcement was seen in the kosher world as the equivalent of General Motors acquiring Ford.” [NYTimes]

REMEMBERING — Harvey Frommer, prolific chronicler of baseball’s ‘golden age’ in New York, dies at 83 — by Matt Schudel: “When he was growing up in Brooklyn, Harvey Frommer played third base on sandlot teams and often took the trolley to Ebbets Field to watch the Dodgers. He once met the team’s biggest star, Jackie Robinson… He may not have had the talent to make the Dodgers as a player, but Dr. Frommer went on to chronicle the team’s history, as well as the fortunes of other New York teams, in dozens of books, many of which were about baseball… Dr. Frommer… eventually became an Ivy League professor, teaching courses on sports journalism and oral history at Dartmouth College. He was 83 when he died Aug. 1 at his home in Lyme, N.H.” [WashPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Member of the New York State Senate (1961-1994) where he served as Minority Leader (1975-1991), a founding partner of the New York law firm of Ohrenstein & Brown, Manfred Ohrenstein turns 94… CEO of Delphi Financial Group, an insurance company with some $10 billion in assets, he serves on the board of directors for the Manhattan Institute and the Lincoln Center Film Society, Robert Rosenkranz turns 77… Author of many nonfiction books, including The Portable Curmudgeon, Zen to Go, and Advice to Writers, Jon Winokur turns 72… Historian, Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff turns 71… Banker, once known as “Austria’s woman on Wall Street” and founder of Bank Medici in 1994, Sonja Kohn turns 71…

Former Soviet Refusenik, he made aliyah in 1987 and was elected to the Knesset in each of the last eight elections since 1996, he is the Speaker of the Knesset since 2013, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein turns 61… Member of the British House of Lords, he was chief executive of the Office of the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and then chief executive of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, Baron Jonathan Andrew Kestenbaum turns 60… Songwriter, author, political columnist and noted baseball memorabilia collector, Seth Swirsky turns 59… Chair of the Department of Jewish History at Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Dahan High School, he was previously a senior editor at Baltimore Jewish Times (1999-2012), Neil Rubin Ph.D. turns 56… Actor who starred in “Weekend at Bernie’s,” his father and grandfather were both rabbis, Jonathan Silverman turns 53…

Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Kulanu party, Roy Folkman turns 44… Long-time member of the Israeli national soccer team who also played in Europe’s UEFA Champions League, Gil Vermouth turns 34… Former AIPAC staffer, now a lobbyist for the Wireless Infrastructure Association and an adjunct professor at American University, Matt Mandel turns 42… Comedian, writer, actor and member of the comedy duo Jake and Amir, Jacob Penn Cooper Hurwitz turns 34… Baseball pitcher for the Sioux Falls Canaries of the American Association, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Tyler Daschier Herron turns 33… Director of Jewish Affairs for New York State’s Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Michael E. Snowturns 28… Leslie Saunders..

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed