Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: July 8, 2019

Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: July 8, 2019

George Soros and Charles Koch team up to end US ‘forever war’ policy; Trump peace effort traps Jordan between US and Palestinians; Why Israel’s generals are taking on Netanyahu

In this photo from January 26, 2013, George Soros attends the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos. (Eric Piermont/AFP)
In this photo from January 26, 2013, George Soros attends the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos. (Eric Piermont/AFP)

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Ed. Note: We hope you had a fantastic Fourth of July! 

WHILE WE WERE AWAY… JI’s Ben Jacobs reported from Iowa that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) would keep the U.S. embassy in Israel, in Jerusalem. In Iowa, Beto O’Rourke told JI that he’d seek to reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. JI scooped that Democratic Majority for Israel “established a hybrid political action committee to support congressional incumbents facing primary challenges for their pro-Israel stance.”

LAST WEEK… The Palestinian Authority arrested, and later released, a Palestinian businessman who attended the Kushner-led Bahrain summit… On Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas doubled downon his criticism of the Bahrain summit… On Wednesday, Kushner extendedan olive branch to the Palestinian leader. “I have a lot of respect for President Abbas,” Kushner said on a conference call with reporters. “President Trump is very fond of President Abbas. He likes him very much personally.”

Speaking in Japan last Saturday, Trump suggested that if no peace deal is reached between the Israelis and Palestinians during his tenure, “it’ll never happen.”… Visiting Jerusalem, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned that anything less than a two-state solution would be disastrous for Israel… U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt were criticized for using a sledgehammer at the unveiling ceremony of a new archaeological site in Jerusalem’s City of David… Friedman defended it as using an “appropriate tool… to symbolically open a historic underground excavation.”

DRIVING THE DAY — For the second time in a week, Iran is set to violate the 2015 nuclear deal. On Sunday, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, announced that it would begin enriching uranium above the 3.67 percent, increasing the level of enrichment to 5 percent.

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, insisted that the regime still considers the 2015 deal to be valid, but threatened that Tehran will take another step away from the deal in 60 days if there’s no progress in sanctions relief talks with the signatories to the deal.

A statement issued by French President Emmanuel Macron’s office condemned the Iranian announcement, but the French government maintained that invoking the dispute resolution mechanism — which could lead to the reimposition of U.N. sanctions — is “not an option at this moment.” In a phone call, Macron also implored Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to explore by July 15 whether conditions exist for resuming talks in order to save the deal.

Germany said it was “extremely concerned” over the move, while Britain called on Iran to “immediately stop and reverse all activities” and abide by the nuclear deal. The European Union said that the parties to the JCPOA are discussing the creation of a joint commission to look into the issue.

President Trump told reporters on Sunday: “Iran better be careful because you enrich for one reason — and I won’t tell you what that reason is, but it’s no good. They better be careful.” Trump further vowed, “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak at the State Department at 9:15 AM ET [Livestream]

A former senior U.S. military commander tells JI: “Iran’s latest step was predictable given the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the imposition of sanctions, even though Iran had been abiding by the agreement. Beyond that, it is quite possible that Iran will return to the negotiating table at some point next year, as the continued enforcement of the sanctions contributes to a further downturn in the Iranian economy, which is already seeing substantial inflation, significant reduction in growth, and a plummeting currency.”

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz emails us“The administration needs to make it clear to the Europeans that the United States will use all instruments of American power, including force, to stop Iranian nuclear escalation. The ball is in Europe’s court to credibly threaten the snap back of U.N. and EU sanctions along with the political isolation of Tehran unless nuclear escalation and nuclear blackmail ends.”

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the remaining partners in the JCPOA to respond to Iran’s violation. “The enrichment of uranium is made for one reason and one reason only: It’s for the creation of atomic bombs,” Netanyahu said in remarks at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “The leaders of the P5+1 promised and committed themselves to snap back sanctions the minute Iran did that. It just did. Where are you?” [Video]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a 2020 presidential hopeful, in an interview with CBS News: “We finally achieved at least a long-term plan where they were not going to enrich your uranium to the degree that they were. They were going to get rid of a number of these facilities, and by all inspections, that was happening. And what does this guy do? What did President Trump do? He comes in and says I can make you a better deal, I can make you more safe. Well guess what? As of today, we are less safe. Iran is blowing through the caps. They are going to start enriching uranium at a level that could lead to nuclear weapons, and it is much less safe than we were when [Trump] came in as president.” [CBSNews]

BEDFELLOWS — George Soros and Charles Koch team up to end U.S. ‘forever war’ policy — by Stephen Kinzer: “In one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history, [George] Soros and Charles Koch, the more active of the two [Koch] brothers, are joining to finance a new foreign-policy think tank in Washington. It will promote an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing…”

“‘This is big,’ said Trita Parsi, former president of the National Iranian American Council and a co-founder of the new think tank.” [BostonGlobePoliticoMag]

PROFILE — The Fox News general who ‘spooked’ Trump out of attacking Iran — by Eliana Johnson: “As President Donald Trump wrestled on the evening of June 20 with how to respond to Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone, [retired gen.] Jack Keane was making his second appearance of the day on the Fox News Channel… “Our viewers may have forgotten, but during the tanker war in the late ‘80s when [President] Reagan did take some action, we actually made a mistake,” Keane said… Keane’s reference to the United States’ accidental downing of an Iranian commercial airliner in 1988 made a profound impact on the president, who was ‘spooked’ when he learned of the incident… Currently the chairman of the board of the Institute for the Study of War, Keane… is in frequent contact with Foggy Bottom’s current leader, Mike Pompeo.” [Politico]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump Peace Effort Traps Jordan Between U.S. and Palestinians — by Felicia Schwartz and Suha Ma’ayeh: “Officials [in Amman] say a plan that doesn’t satisfy Palestinians’ national aspirations could result in a security crisis for Jordan. The monarchy, which already faces protests over economic issues and political rights, could also have to contend with an influx of Palestinians and unrest across the border in the West Bank, officials said. Jordan relies on U.S. aid to stave off economic collapse and political instability — but fears the Trump peace plan will deepen unrest in the kingdom.”

“A U.S. official said Washington wasn’t threatening to cut aid to Jordan — but that it was an option depending on Jordan’s reaction to the political segment of the Trump plan.” [WSJ]

Dr. Miriam Adelson writes in the Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal and Israel Hayom… “A time of miracles: Trump is a businessman. He sees an Israel that gets things done, with ingenuity and resourcefulness, against the odds and fickle consensus. These are the kind of people he likes to deal with… Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump,’ much like it has a ‘Book of Esther’ celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?” [LVReviewJournal]

JOUSTING OVER JESUS — Activist Linda Sarsour kicked up a Twitter firestorm over the weekend when she tweeted that Jesus was Palestinian. “Jesus was Palestinian of Nazareth and is described in the Quran as being brown copper skinned with wooly hair,” she wrote. Her tweet garnered thousands of responses, many pointing out that Jesus was a Jew from a region known at the time as Judea. Yair Netanyahu, the garrulous son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, replied to Sarsour: “Are you that stupid?… The Bible say that Jesus was born and raised in Judea!”

The American Jewish Committee also weighed in, tweeting: “Mentions of Judea in the New Testament: 48. Mentions of Palestine in the New Testament: 0. Which makes sense, because the name ‘Palestine’ was only applied to the region by the Romans in 135 CE. Try cracking a history book, Linda. It’ll blow your mind.”

Nevertheless, Sarsour reiterated her tweet: “Palestinian is someone born in Palestine or a descendant of Palestinians. Palestinian is a nationality. So when someone says Jesus was born in modern day Palestine that doesn’t negate that he was a Jew.”

HAPPENING TODAY — Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt will address the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. [CSPAN]

President Trump will attend a dinner for the Amir of Qatar, Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani, hosted by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the Department of the Treasury.

The White House has invited cartoonist Ben Garrison, who has been accused of creating ‘a blatantly antisemitic’ illustration, to a “Social Media Summit” on Thursday. “Honored to be invited to the White House!” Garrison tweeted on Friday. “Thank you, Mr. President!”

INTERVIEW — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) downplayed the influence Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) have on policy in an interview with The New York Times. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she said. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

2020 BRIEFS — Kamala Harris stars as 2020 presidential candidates pitch African American voters at Essence Fest… Joe Biden, under fire on race, apologized for remarks on segregationists… In an interview with an Iowa newspaper, Biden said he’d be open to nominating Merrick Garland again for the Supreme Court… Elizabeth Warren starts winning begrudging respect on Wall Street…  Harris and Warren rise in Democratic primary, challenging male frontrunners…

Cory Booker’s brand of advocacy: Show up. Cameras often follow… Pete Buttigieg campaign multiplies in size after huge cash haul… On Friday, Marianne Williamson warned that U.S. elections could become more “like Iran.” Williamson later clarified that Iran was “a cautionary tale, not a direct analogy”… Who will be the first Democratic presidential candidate to drop out?… Billionaire activist Tom Steyer tells friends he plans to enter 2020 presidential race…

2020 Democrats see opportunity on foreign policy — by Steve Peoples: “[Joe] Biden has a loyal cadre of foreign policy advisors, led by Antony Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration… [Kamala Harris] is being advised by Matthew Spence, former deputy assistant secretary of defense; Michèle Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy; Dana Shell, former ambassador to Qatar; David Cohen, former CIA deputy director; former State Department official Phil Gordon and Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.” [AP]

Big foreign policy changes are coming if Trump loses — by Dave Lawler: “On Iran, the leading Democrats are all hitting virtually the same notes. The only division on display in the debates was over whether to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear deal or negotiate an extension first… The Iranians believe they can survive under ‘maximum pressure’ through 2020. Experts tell Axios they don’t even have a clear plan for a second term of Trump.” [Axios]

REPORT — A federal grand jury in New York is investigating whether Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser, “used his position as vice chair of President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders,” The Associated Press reported on Monday.

TOP TALKER — Multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein is expected to be arraigned in federal court in New York this morning on sex trafficking and molestation charges. Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on Saturday, according to the Miami Herald.

Jeffrey Epstein is accused of luring girls to his Manhattan mansion and abusing them — by Ali Watkins and Vivian Wang: “The Upper East Side fortress was previously owned by Leslie Wexner, a business mogul whose companies include Victoria’s Secret. Mr. Wexner was the only known client of Mr. Epstein’s money management firm; he sold the house to Mr. Epstein in the mid-1990s.” [NYTimes]

Professor Alan Dershowitzwho was caught up in the scandal, told The Daily Beast that he is taking a wait-and-see stance “to see what the evidence is.” He added, “I haven’t been in touch with Epstein for a long time.”

RACE TO THE KNESSET — On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new rival, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, traded barbs over the Epstein case. Netanyahu tweeted a report mentioning Epstein’s ties to Barak with the comment “and the media is silent.” Barak replied: “It’s painful to find out that people in my acquaintance are involved in criminal activity. First Netanyahu, now Epstein. I hope that in both cases the truth will ultimately emerge. Period.”

Barak also came under fire for naming his newly-launched political party “The Israel Democratic Party.”

Why Israel’s Generals Are Taking on Netanyahu — by Neri Zilber: “Call it the brass revolt. With Netanyahu in deep political trouble… the officers-cum-politicians hope to succeed this time where they have failed before. But they likely face an uphill campaign: Despite the near total mobilization of Israel’s security establishment against him in recent years, Netanyahu keeps winning… For [Benny] Gantz, [Ehud] Barak, and the others, the true test is whether they can unite in their common mission — and persuade the Israeli public that in this campaign defeat isn’t an option.” [ForeignPolicy]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Adam Neumann’s WeWork to raise billions selling debt ahead of IPO [WSJ] • David Geffen drops $30 million on an empty acre in prime Beverly Hills [LATimes• Stephen Schwarzman’s Blackstone nears $1.1 billion sale of Center Parcs Resorts [Bloomberg] • Sprint-T-Mobile decision and CBS-Viacom talks may overshadow Sun Valley media confab [FoxBusiness]

MORE BRIEFS: Former NBA head David Stern on how sports betting can save TV rights [TheInformation] • Aterian Investment Partners completes the carve-out acquisition of Hain Pure Protein, which is comprised of the Empire Kosher, Kosher Valley and FreeBird poultry brands [YahooFinance]• Israel’s energy dilemma: More natural gas than it can use or export[NYTimes] • U.S.-Israel fund to invest $8.2 million in 9 new joint R&D projects [ToI]

HAPPENING THIS WEEK: “Allen & Co.’s annual business, media and technology conference — the famously secretive conclave of the world’s rich and powerful — is coming back to Sun Valley… The event takes place after the Fourth of July, with panels, presentations and plenty of elbow-rubbing running into the weekend… Its agenda is as secretive as the business that puts it on — and Allen & Co. is invisible… Among invitees: Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the three richest people on the planet, per Forbes magazine; tech execs Tim Cook of Apple, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; and a smattering of the world’s most influential media moguls, like Shari Redstone of CBS and Viacom, Brian Roberts of Comcast and Bob Iger of Disney.” [IdahoMountainExpress]

SPOTLIGHT — Billionaire Bernie Marcus promises fortune to charity (and some to Trump) — by Lisette Voytko: “The latest billionaire to promise to leave his fortune to charity: Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who announced to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he plans to give away 90% of his $5.9 billion fortune to charity (and added he would donate to re-elect President Trump).” [ForbesAtlanta Journal-Constitution

U.S. duty free magnates fund controversial Israeli settlements — by Uri Blau and Josef Federman: “The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous chain of Duty Free Americas shops, funds a generous and sometimes controversial philanthropic empire in Israel… An Associated Press investigation shows that the family has donated at least $5.6 million to settler groups in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past decade, funding synagogues, schools and social services along with far-right causes considered extreme even in Israel… In a response to AP questions through his lawyer, Simon Falic, who spoke on behalf of the family, said Jews should be able to live anywhere in the Holy Land, whether it’s Israel, Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem or the West Bank.” [AP]

Scooter Braun Makes $300 Million Deal for Big Machine Records — by Anne Steele: “Celebrity talent manager Scooter Braun reached a deal to acquire Big Machine Label Group LLC, creating a mini-conglomerate with an array of businesses to help it compete in the streaming-entertainment age. The price was more than $300 million.” [WSJ]

Model Karlie Kloss discussed observing Shabbat in an interview with Vogue magazine“I think we all have a tendency to just keep going. Some people find grounding through meditation. Some find it through exercise. And to each their own, but for me, Shabbat has brought so much meaning into my life. It helps me reconnect to the actual world.” [Vogue]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Hate crimes targeting Jews and Latinos increased in California in 2018, report says — by Hannah Fry: “Despite a slight decline in the overall number of hate crimes reported statewide, incidents targeting Latinos and Jewish people in California surged last year… Antisemitic hate crimes surged 21%… according to a report from the California attorney general’s office released Tuesday.” [LATimes]

Last Tuesday, California State Assemblyman Tyler Diep apologizedfor an antisemitic 2018 campaign ad against his Jewish opponent, Josh Lowenthal, after meeting with local Jewish leaders. “I want to take this opportunity to publicly share my sincere apology to anyone in the Jewish community who was offended by my campaign during the 2018 election,” Diep said in an emailed statement to the LA Times.

Spanish River High’s principal refused to call the Holocaust a fact — by Andrew Marra: “A mother… wanted to make sure, she wrote to the principal [at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida], that her child’s school was making Holocaust education ‘a priority.’ …In an email reply, Principal William Latson… explained that the lessons are ‘not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.’ … Thinking Latson simply had expressed himself poorly, she wrote back, asking him to clarify his comments. ‘The Holocaust is a factual, historical event,’ she wrote. ‘It is not a right or a belief.’ …‘Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,’ he wrote… ‘And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.’” [PalmBeachPost]

ACROSS THE POND — Former British PM Gordon Brown writes… “Labour’s fight against antisemitism must be far more radical: Much as we might like to, we cannot now turn the clock back or undo the hurt that has been caused. Nor can we erase the memory of the damage done. Words will not be enough: we need a radical change of policy, starting at our September conference, not just to eliminate antisemitism but to change the whole culture of our movement… We should automatically expel – and not just suspend – in cases where there is irrefutable evidence of antisemitism or any kind of racism.”[TheGuardian] • Gordon Brown pleads with Jewish voters: Don’t give up on Labour [TheHerald]

TRANSITION — Andrew Gross was hired by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to serve as Executive Director of the New Jersey Israel Commission. Gross previously served as Director of Political Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York.

Josh Block, the CEO and president of The Israel Projectannouncedlast week that he is stepping down from his position, writing that “this month is the right time to conclude my tenure at TIP and pursue new challenges and opportunities.” Block did not give a reason for his departure, but JTA reported that the organization laid off its entire staff without notice or a final paycheck. The chairman of The Israel Project’s board of directors said the organization’s future is currently unclear.

DESSERT — Restaurant charges $24 for a single tomato — by Steve Cuozzo: “Meet the sticker-shock $24 tomato at zany new restaurant HaSalon — maybe the priciest piece of produce ever. Twenty-four dollars. For one tomato… The medium-size fruit I tried from Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani was no jumbo. It would fit in the palm of my hand… The tomato with the terrifying tab is one of many crazy-priced dishes at HaSalon (735 10th Ave. at 49th Street), a self-described ‘party’ where customers dance on table-tops to ear-shattering Israeli and American pop and disco after 10 p.m.” [NYPost

Anheuser-Busch buys ‘The Fat Jewish’ wine brand — by Craig Giammona: “Anheuser-Busch InBev, searching for growth as consumers turn away from mass-produced beer brands like Budweiser and Bud Light, is taking full control of Babe Wine, which was co-founded by Instagram influencer Josh Ostrovsky, known by his handle ‘The Fat Jewish.’” [Bloomberg]

Norwegian Cruise Line to offer kosher food for no extra fee on all ships: “Norwegian Cruise Line launched a new kosher menu for all passengers for no extra charge, on Tuesday. Furthermore, if there is a group of over 60 people, fresh kosher food will be cooked on board in a kosher kitchen.” [JPost]

REMEMBERING — Artist Leon Kossoff, who painted post-war London, dies at 92 — by Jill Lawless: “British artist Leon Kossoff, who painted his home city of London in all its moody, rough-edged glory, has died… Born in London in 1926 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Kossoff grew up in the city’s tough East End and served in the army during World War II before studying at St. Martin’s school of art… His work has been shown around the world, including at London’s National Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.” [AP]

Holocaust survivor Manfred Steinfeld built a furniture empire — by James R. Hagerty: “In July 1938, Manfred Steinfeld’s mother put him on a train that would carry him to Hamburg on the first leg of a journey delivering him to Chicago, safe from the Nazi menace facing Jews in Germany. He was 14 years old. He had a $10 bill sewn inside a pocket. His mother said, ‘Be quiet and do not draw attention to yourself.’ … Mr. Steinfeld, who died June 30 at age 95, never became famous but it is safe to assume you have sat in chairs made by the Chicago-based company he built, Shelby Williams Industries Inc. It became the largest maker of hotel and restaurant seating in the U.S. …In the 45 years he ran the company, it produced 30 million chairs, his family estimated.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: Emmy Award-winning singer and actor, part of the duo “Steve and Eydie,” Steve Lawrence (born Sidney Liebowitz) turns 84… Former Executive Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, Arthur “Art” Abramsonturns 71… Democratic candidate for President of the United States, author, lecturer, and activist, Marianne Deborah Williamson turns 67… Former member of the Michigan State House of Representatives (2009-2013), following four years as Mayor of Farmington Hills (2003-2007), Vicki Barnett turns 65… Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Texas (2006) and for State Attorney General in Texas (2010), Barbara Ann Radnofsky turns 63… Attorney and former United States Ambassador to Belgium (2009-2013), Howard Gutman turns 63…

Counsel with the global law firm Dentons, when he was elected Attorney General of Georgia in 2010 (and re-elected in 2014) he became the first Jewish person in Georgia to win statewide office, Samuel Scott Olens turns 62… Former member of Knesset who had served as Israel’s Foreign Minister, Justice Minister, Agriculture Minister and Housing Minister, Tziporah Malka “Tzipi” Livni turns 61… Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Beaumont, Texas since 2009, Rabbi Joshua S. Taub turns 61… Co-president of Rochester, New York-based Hahn Automotive Warehouse, an automotive aftermarket supplier, Eli N. Futerman turns 61… Chief operating officer of Foundation for Jewish Camp since 2017, after a 30 year banking career, Marina W. Lewin turns 61… Washington D.C. bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraphic AgencyRon Kampeas turns 59…

Managing principal at Albright Stonebridge Group, former Clinton White House senior staffer, Dan K. Rosenthal turns 53… Former ice hockey player, she competed internationally for the U.S. women’s national team, her son was the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft three weeks ago, Ellen Weinberg-Hughes turns 51… Managing director in the Baltimore office of Harbor Group International, Meir Raskas turns 49… Atlanta-based educator, activist and writer, Robbie Medwed turns 38… Corporate associate in the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Alon Sachar turns 35… Policy director at Biden for President, she served during the prior two years as director of policy at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute, Stefanie Feldman turns 31… Tech and foreign affairs correspondent at the Israeli public broadcasting corporation, Amichai Stein

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