KUSHNER MIDEAST TOUR — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to meet Jared Kushner in Ankara on Wednesday. Erdogan told NTV television on Tuesday that he and Kushner would discuss conflicts in the Middle East as well as economic relations.
It’s worth noting that Kushner is not visiting Egypt or Jordan on this trip, two countries likely critical to any peace plan rollout, as the primary goal of his current Middle East tour is raising funds for a large financial investment with the Palestinians and Israel’s other neighbors. According to former U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk, the number Kushner has in mind is $65 billion, a rather ambitious fundraising goal.
“Kushner is trying to raise $65 billion in funds to support not just the Palestinians but also Egypt and Jordan. So there’s no reason to go there on this trip. They’re supposed to be beneficiaries, not donors,” Indyk explained to Jewish Insider.
Asked how much of the $65 billion he thinks the Trump administration will be willing to put up, Indyk replied: “Somewhere between ‘effes and shum davar‘ (zero and nil). Actually, I have no idea but it’s probably the second question the potential donors will ask. The first question will be: ‘What’s in the plan?’ And since it could cause an upheaval in Israel if any part of the plan leaks, he [Kushner] probably can’t answer that.”
New government documents reveal Jared Kushner’s Secret Service codename as ‘Mechanic’ — by Justin Rohrlich: “Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner’s Secret Service codename is “Mechanic,” a new government filing reveals.” [Quartz]
Top Israeli minister to Trump: Reveal plan before the election: “Israeli cabinet minister Naftali Bennett is calling on President Donald Trump to reveal his much-anticipated ‘Deal of the Century’ for Middle East peace before the upcoming Israeli election. Bennett… says Tuesday that Trump is leaving Israelis in the dark before a crucial election and ‘friends do not keep secrets’ from each other.” [AP]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — by JI’s Laura Kelly: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told a group of Jewish Democrats that Israel as a bipartisan issue is being put at risk by people who would like to separate the Jewish community and the Democratic Party. [Pic]
At a reception hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), the majority leader said Democratic members were united in criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for touting an anti-Semitic trope on Twitter. “Well we made some criticism when one of them said something we thought was not appropriate and gave the wrong message of anti-Semitism, but she apologized… I said, ‘We’re prepared to criticize our own,’” Hoyer said.
Over a dozen members of Congress came out to the event, held at the Liaison Hotel in Washington, DC. “We are a wonderful noble country and in the last few years, there have been real attempts to derail that,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said at the opening of the event, before heading to a fundraiser across the hall.
Also speaking at the event were freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who voiced greater action in confronting anti-Semitism, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who promoted Jewish values as central to democratic values, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that strong support of Israel is essential for America’s national security. “I know that the Israelis are key to our national security as well, in terms of their partnership, in terms of their sharing information with us — we’ve got to end this notion that somehow one party or the other is promoting stronger ties with Israel. We should all be promoting stronger ties.”
William Daroff of the Jewish Federations of North America said, “I think it’s important in the current environment to ensure that there is a pro-Israel majority on both sides of the aisle and there are certainly forces on the right and the left to wedge support between the U.S. and Israel and we need to vigilantly, we need to be vigilant across the board and across the spectrum.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar deletes the controversial tweets that drew charges of anti-Semitism — by William Cummings: “Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) seems to have deleted the tweets that drew accusations of anti-Semitism from both Republican and Democratic colleagues two weeks ago.”[USAToday]
ARGUMENT — No More Mr. Nice Jew: How to deal with those who hate us? — by Edward Luttwak: “Those who favor ‘dialogue’ with the likes of Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar appear to be driven by the delusion that our enemies would not be so if only they knew us better, or stood in solidarity with them on issues of mutual concern… The good news is that we live in a democracy, and there is another election coming up soon enough. Let their opponents receive all proper encouragement and support, both local and national… When it comes to those who proclaim anti-Jewish hate, the American Jewish community needs to follow the examples set by British and French Jews when confronted with even greater threats: Stop dialoguing and start winning.” [Tablet]
JI INTERVIEW — Dov Zakheim,
“The next Israeli prime minister will have to begin repairing that, partly by reaching out to the Democrats and partly by at least working with the Palestinians, whereas now I think it’s impossible with Netanyahu,” Zakheim continued. “And not only is it impossible with Netanyahu, I think he’s jeopardizing the entire relationship that the U.S. has worked on with the Gulf and other Muslim countries. It’s going to be very, very difficult to convince the Gulf leaderships that they can work with a guy who’s willing to have on his team people who are ready to throw the Arabs into the desert. The Jews always say the Arabs want to throw them into the sea. Well, you now have people who want to throw the Arabs into the desert. It’s fraught with difficulties.”
“I think the impression that people have already developed for some time and this move reinforces is that Bibi is not about Israel. Bibi is about Bibi. And given all the other issues that have already been there: the friction over the Palestinians, the friction over religious issues, this is just on top of them all. And I think, when it comes to AIPAC or the AJC or the other organizations that have spoken out, I think this simply was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Deborah Lipstadt resigns from synagogue over defense of Israeli extreme right: “Deborah Lipstadt, the prominent Holocaust historian, is resigning her membership in her local synagogue because it belongs to a movement that defended an Israeli political deal with the extremist right wing. Lipstadt belonged to Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta, an Orthodox congregation. The rabbi of Lipstadt’s synagogue, Adam Starr, himself condemned the statement in a Facebook post, writing, “Not in my name and not in my shul’s name!” But Lipstadt still felt that she could not continue to be associated with Young Israel, despite having fond words for her synagogue and rabbi.” [ToI]
— American Friends of Likud said in a statement on Tuesday that it was ‘disappointed by the overt interference into the elections in Israel by certain leaders of American Jewish organizations,’ and calling the criticism by organizations like AJC and AIPAC ‘insulting and obtrusive.’ The criticism sends an ‘unmistakable message to the Israeli public,’ it charged, ‘that these American Jewish leaders are casting their uninvited votes in the election against the Likud, the Prime Minister’s party, and that Israeli voters should vote the same way.’ [ToI]
ON THE HILL — Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer and attorney, will testify publicly before the House Oversight and Reform Committee at 10 AM EST, one day after a closed-door hearing with the Senate Intelligence committee. On Thursday, he’ll testify in another private session with the House Intelligence Committee. [CSPAN] • Read Cohen’s opening statement here [NYT]
At around the same time, former secretary of state Madeline Albright is scheduled to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, giving an assessment of the Trump Administration’s foreign policy.
ON THE GOLAN — Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) introduced a resolution recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Tuesday. An identical proposal was filed in the House by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI).
The bill changes long-standing U.S. policy that any decision on control over the Golan Heights would occur in a peace deal between Israel and Syria. The Republican Senators, instead, say that Israeli control of the area is in the national security interest of the U.S. and is a punishment to Syrian President Bashar al Assad for war crimes in that country. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) signed on as co-sponsors. The House version has at least 13 Republican co-sponsors.[JewishInsider]
— At the moment, this bill is only being co-sponsored by Republican members although Democratic members have previously told Jewish Insider that they support recognition.
HAPPENING TONIGHT — Former UN Ambassador to the U.S. Nikki Haley will be the guest of honor at a dinner with about 20 of Manhattan’s top GOP donors. The dinner will be the first of a series being organized by Paul Singer to spotlight key surrogates for the congressional races of 2020.” [Axios]
AT THE UN — Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon welcomed the nomination of Kelly Craft to replace Nikki Haley at the United Nations on Tuesday. “With her previous experience as part of the US delegation to the 61st General Assembly, Craft is no stranger to the United Nations,” Danon told Jewish Insider. “I have no doubt she will continue the strong positions Ambassador Nikki Haley took and look forward to working with her to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he added. [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET — Bibi Cuts Moscow Trip Short; Dershowitz Enters the Fray — by Neri Zilber: Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later today for the first official summit between the two since last September’s downing (by Syrian air defenses) of a Russian military jet — an act the Kremlin blamed on Israel. On the agenda: Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. Yet Bibi cut his Moscow trip short — he’ll be flying back this evening, instead of tomorrow — amid growing speculation that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will issue his decision on the PM’s three corruption cases imminently, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. For his legal and public defense, Netanyahu conscripted Prof. Alan Dershowitz, who issued an open letter to Mandelblit arguing that charging the PM for crimes related to his dealings with the media could “endanger democracy and freedom of the press.” Netanyahu released a video last night quoting extensively from Dershowitz’s letter and called for the AG to “seriously reconsider” pursuing charges. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
2020 WATCH — Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the University of Delaware that after several meetings with his family, “there’s a consensus” that they want him to run for president… Bernie Sanders’ media strategists split from his 2020 presidential campaign… Hillary Clinton is not a candidate. She looms over 2020 anyway.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Insight Venture Partners Acquires Israeli Fund’s Portfolio [WSJ] • Equity investing will have harder time than debt investing, says hedge fund manager Marc Lasry [CNBC] • YieldStreet Raises $62M To Bring Alternative Investing To The Masses [Fobes] • Wynn Resorts to Pay $20 Million Fine Related to Sexual Misconduct Investigation [WSJ] • Boeing nominates former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to its board of directors [CNBC] • Israeli Accelerator theDock Partners with U.S. Tank Barge Operator Kirby Corp [Calcalist]
STARTUP NATION — Israeli Startups Shine In The $92 Billion Cybersecurity Market — by Gil Press: “In 2018, Israeli startups received $1.19 billion or almost 20% of global VC investments in cybersecurity, up 47% from the previous year, according to a new report from Start-Up Nation Central. Another report, published by Strategic Cyber Ventures, shows that Israel has surpassed China last year as the hottest spot for VC investments in cybersecurity companies outside of the U.S.” [Forbes]
TALK OF OUR NATION — Becoming a dad after death: Is preserving a Jewish bloodline worth creating a child who will never know her father? — by Shira Rubin: “Over the past two decades, posthumous reproduction has occurred throughout the world in modest but growing numbers… In Israel, IVF is one of the rare issues supported by nearly all sectors, regardless of religion or sexuality, in an infamously divided society. ‘There’s a very strong urge to have children here,’ said Julia Pozniansky… ‘There’s tradition, family, 2,000 years of persecution in which we’ve needed to rise from the ashes to create life.’ Like many Jewish Israelis, Pozniansky sees reproduction as a way to replenish the numbers of the Jewish people, in the wake of the Holocaust and millennia of Jewish suffering.” [Undark]
SPOTLIGHT — Daniel Barenboim Seemed Untouchable. Now He’s Accused of Bullying — by Christian Marquardt: “Mr. Barenboim, 76, has long been considered untouchable in Berlin, where he is music director of the Staatsoper — the city’s premier opera house — and principal conductor for life of its orchestra, the Staatskapelle… But cracks have begun to emerge in the conductor’s image as Mr. Barenboim has been accused of bullying and humiliating members of the Staatskapelle… Mr. Barenboim dismissed the accusations. ‘I was born in Argentina, so there’s a bit of Latin blood in my body, and I get upset now and then,’ he told RBB, a German broadcaster.”[NYTimes]
ACROSS THE SEA — Drones launched to help preserve Europe’s Jewish cemeteries: “A private organization is expanding its work preserving old Jewish cemeteries in Europe by employing aerial drones to map burial sites in countries where the Holocaust decimated local Jewish populations. The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative said Tuesday that teams plan to survey 1,500 Jewish cemeteries in Slovakia, Greece, Moldova, Lithuania and Ukraine this year.” [AP]
DEEP DIVE — The real story of the Green Book, the guide that changed how black people traveled in America — by P.R. Lockhart: “Filmmaker Yoruba Richen, whose new documentary The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, premiered on the Smithsonian Channel on February 25, talks about the history of the Green Book, how the book was used to build community among African Americans during a time of formal and informal segregation… ‘The Green Book was first published in 1936 by Victor Green. He was a postal worker, and he had a Jewish friend who had a book that listed places in the Catskills where Jewish people could go to. And Green says, “This would be great for black people — we need a book like this.'” [Vox]
TALK OF THE TOWN — How Fairfax Became the Mecca of Streetwear: An Oral History — by Karizza Sanchez: “This is the story of how a subculture transformed an unassuming Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles into the epicenter of streetwear, and then how that mecca became mainstream. This is also the story of the people who built Fairfax into a streetwear destination and the obstacles they faced, the chaotic lineups, the unforgettable celebrity sightings, and the lasting legacy of the block.”[Complex]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — The Met Council honored Jeffrey Feil, a New York-based real estate developer, at its inaugural real estate cocktail reception held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: Performance artist and film-maker, Eleanor Antin turns 84… Writer and illustrator of children’s books, Uri Shulevitz turns 84… William Drykos turns 80… Investor and philanthropist, Chair of Julliard, Vice Chair of Lincoln Center and on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera, Bruce Kovnerturns 74… Judith Meyer turns 74… Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Alan Harvey Guth turns 72… Grand “Pa” of Dov, Joe and Rael et al., Michael Gervis turns 72… Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Julia Neuberger turns 69… Film and television actor, he starred as FBI Agent Stan Beeman on the FX series “The Americans” (2013-2018), Noah Emmerich turns 54… Jewish leader involved with the UJA of New York, Suzy Appelbaum turns 57… VP of regional operations and advancement at the Anti-Defamation League, David S. Waren turns 56… Founder of Spanx, she is also a part owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Sara Blakelyturns 48… Senior Washington editor for NBC News, Rebecca Sinderbrandturns 42… Singer-songwriter, composer and prayer leader, creative director at Romemu and director of engagement at Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal,Sam Benjamin “Shir Yaakov” Feinstein-Feit turns 41… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Jewish Home party, Bezalel Smotrich turns 39… SVP of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays, Chaim David Bloomturns 36… Massachusetts State Senator since 2015 and former Obama White House aide where he was one of the originators of the White House Seder, Eric P. Lesser turns 34… Alana Berkowitz… Lenore Wax…