Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: June 26, 2019

Senator Chuck Schumer to support bipartisan anti-BDS legislation; a rape case and a wedding strain ties between Arab and Jewish villages; the gay Jewish matador from Brooklyn

Illustrative: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, speaks at the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at Washington Convention Center, in Washington, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Illustrative: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, speaks at the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at Washington Convention Center, in Washington, March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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

JI SCOOP — Chuck Schumer to support anti-BDS legislation: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will announce today his support for a bipartisan anti-BDS measure. The resolution (S.Res. 120), introduced by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), expresses opposition to “efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.”

Schumer tells Jewish Insider“I strongly support this resolution and firmly oppose the BDS movement targeting Israel. S.Res.120 is led by Senator Cardin and Senator Portman and I proudly join the bipartisan group of senators and representatives pushing for its passage. I have long believed that the BDS effort is a profoundly biased campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel, and I look forward to Congress passing the resolution with overwhelming bipartisan support.” [JewishInsider]

TONIGHT AT 9 PM ET — Ten 2020 candidates — Cory Booker, Bill de Blasio, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan and Elizabeth Warren — will participate in the first night of the first set of Democratic presidential debates, held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida and aired live on NBC.

JI INTERVIEW — Former Senator Joe Lieberman told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that he won’t be watching the Democratic presidential debates this week — but he’s keeping an eye on the race. Lieberman spoke to JI’s Amy Spiro on the sidelines of the Shurat Hadin Conference in Jerusalem. [Pic

The former senator won’t be watching the debates, and not just because of the seven-hour time difference. “We’re staying with our children in Ramat Beit Shemesh,” Lieberman told JI, “and they don’t have a television!”

Asked about the crowded primary field, Lieberman said: “I’m following — but I don’t have much to say.” The former senator said he has known “Joe Biden for a long time, we go way back and I have the highest regard for him.” But, he added, he knows many of the other contenders. “Amy Klobuchar is a very good friend of mine,” he said. “I had her in a class that I taught at Yale.” So for now, the former senator said, “I’m standing back.” [JewishInsider]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — On the side of the Aspen Ideas Festival, Laura and Gary Lauder hosted a dinner at their home together with The Paul E. Singer Foundation. The featured speaker for the evening was the New York Timescolumnist Bret Stephens who discussed the challenges of ‘the new antisemitism.’ [Pic]

SPOTTED: Paul Singer, Terry Kassel, Marc Rowan, Carolyn Rowan, Steven Rattner, Maureen White, Bob Steel, Gillian Steel, Dan Senor, Campbell Brown, Ronnie Heyman, Joanna Jacobson, John Ehrenkranz, Dan Och, Jane Och, Daniel Lubetzky, Michelle Lubetzky, Ron Simms, Vicki Simms, Beth Friedman, Josh Friedman, Jeff Keswin, Bob Oberndorf, Susan Oberndorf, Jay Lefkowitz, Elena Lefkowitz, Ellen Davis, Mark Dichter, Tobey Dichter.

BAHRAIN SUMMIT — On Tuesday, the Trump administration began the formal rollout of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, with Jared Kushner describing it as “the opportunity of the century” at the start of a two-day “economic workshop” in Manama, Bahrain.

“We can turn this region from a victim of past conflicts into a model for commerce and advancement throughout the world,” Kushner told the gathering. “To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict… one that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people. However, today is not about the political issues. We will get to those at the right time.”

Among those in attendance were International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli-Canadian businessman Sylvan Adams, Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group; Dina Powell, a Goldman Sachs executive; Emirati billionaire Mohamed Alabbar, Haim Taib, Israeli president of British-based Mitrelli; former IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, reserve general Yoav Mordechai and director-general of Sheba Medical Center, Prof. Yitshak Kreiss.
Several faith leaders are also in attendance at the Bahrain summit,including Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rabbi Marc Schneier, an adviser for interfaith affairs to the king of Bahrain; and Montreal-based Rabbi Mayer Gniwisch.

New York Times reporter David Halbfinger described the scene:“The two-day ‘Peace to Prosperity Workshop’ brought Arab dignitaries in dishdashas and headdresses together with skullcap-wearing Orthodox Jews from Israel and the United States.”

WATCH — Jason Greenblatt and participants at historic morning services (Shaharit) at the old synagogue in Manama, Bahrain dance to “Am Yisrael Chai.” [Video]

HOW IT PLAYED — Jared Kushner Pushes Trump Peace Plan in Bahrain[WSJ• In Bahrain, U.S. tries to promote Mideast peace through prosperity[NYTimes• Kushner presents vision of a Middle East at peace but no details how to get there [WashPost• Jared Kushner is trying to sell his Middle East plan at a conference in Bahrain. It’s not going well [Vox] • In Bahrain, air of Israeli-Arab normalization and a message to Iran [Haaretz

Washington Institute’s David Makovsky, who is attending the summit, shared his first day impression in a phone interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: “At the opening event there was a sense that they’re trying to engender a sense of enthusiasm about an issue that has been relegated to the margins. So I think it’s good that this enthusiasm seems to be building and we’ll see what happens. The only problem is that the economic possibility is linked to a grand, final status end-of-conflict deal. So if there is no political breakthrough, there’s no economic breakthrough, and the problem has been — sadly — in the Middle East, that whenever it’s all or nothing, it’s usually nothing.”

Makovsky said his “hope for the second day is that even if it’s not in the formal program, that in the corridors you will see people saying, well, maybe we don’t have to wait till the end of the conflict, and maybe the economic stabilization measures on the ground would demonstrate to the people in Gaza and the West Bank that people care about them. And my only fear is that that will run up against the Trump administration’s approach of maximal pressure — which is not linked to this issue only, but in general — which is: I’m not doing anything in the short term if I don’t get the long term result I want.”

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinian-American businessman Sam Bahour, who described the summit as a “nice snow job,” said on a video conference call hosted on Tuesday by J Street: “I’ve never been a fan of this [PA] leadership or the previous one, but today… I would say the vast majority of Palestinians, definitely the private sector, today we are all Saeb Erekat. [The Trump administration] basically gave us a platform to unify around, and instead of being able to unify for better governance and unify for a better Palestinian strategy, what they gave us… cause to unify around, sadly, I’d say, is the existing leadership to recycle itself based on these U.S. blunders.”

Bahour added: “We were very close, very close to having elections this year. In January, we got President [Mahmoud] Abbas to actually publicly say that elections will take place in six months. Thank you, Mr. Trump, because of this process you’ve created, those have all been… kicked down the road.” [Video]

IRAN WATCH — On Tuesday, President Trump threatened Iran with possible military action if the regime continues with its provocations and attacks or defies U.S. calls to engage in talks over its nuclear program. “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration,” Trump tweeted. “No more John Kerry & Obama!”

Trump also told reporters in the Oval Office that Washington is “ready to do whatever” Tehran wants to do, but insisted that he doesn’t need an exit strategy if war breaks out with Iran. “I don’t do exit strategies,” he said. 

REPORT — U.S. officials confirmed to CNN on Tuesday that while he called off a military strike on Iranian targets last Thursday, President Trump approved a major cyberattack on an Iranian proxy group with forces in Iraq and Syria called Kata’ib Hezbollah.

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) is likely to join two other House Republicans — Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) — in a push to limit President Trump’s military options on Iran. This week, a bipartisan group of members introduced an amendment — attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — to prohibit the use of funds to attack the Islamic Republic without congressional approval.[JewishInsider]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he’s open to a vote on a similar Democratic-led amendment to the Senate version of the NDAA, although without significant Republican muscle behind it, it is likely to fail. While the Senate and House will each pass their own respective NDAAs, lawmakers from both chambers will convene to reconcile the two.

Sen. Angus King (I-ME), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, tells JI he is worried that “Israel could be collateral damage” if the situation with Iran escalates. “Iran may not send missiles over here, ‘cause I don’t think they can. They can send them to Israel,” King said. “That’s my concern and I think that we have to realize that we’re not the only people with [a] significant stake in this process.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) tells JI he would have supported Trump’s military strike on Iran, but respects his decision to pull back. “I also support the fact that the president’s the one that has to make that decision,” he added.

Steve Drazkowski, a Republican Minnesota state representative, is calling for an ethics investigation into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over alleged state campaign finance violations.

NEW YORK PRIMARY ELECTION — Tiffany Cabán, a 31-year-old progressive candidate backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) declared victory in a closely watched race against a Democratic Party favorite, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, to succeed the late Queens District Attorney, Richard Brown.

David Greenfield, a former NYC Councilmember,‏ tweeted: “If you work in New York politics and don’t recognize the monumental power shift that took place tonight you need to find a new profession.”

2020 BRIEFS — Is Cory Booker too nice? (And is that bad?)… Allison Kaplan Sommer on where Elizabeth Warren stands on Israel… Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ plan is democratic militarism…

Once the poorest senator, ‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden has reaped millions in income since leaving the vice presidency — by Matt Viser: “Nestled on a wooded lot in McLean, [Virginia], the nearly 12,000-square-foot residence… is currently home to Joe Biden. He and his wife, Jill, rented it after leaving the vice presidential quarters at the Naval Observatory in 2017. The house had been purchased for $4.25 million in June of 2016 by Mark Ein, a wealthy venture capitalist who lives next door.” [WashPost]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly looking to cancel the upcoming Israeli elections and form a coalition with his biggest rival party, Kachol Lavan. But Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, the leaders of Kachol Lavan, are pouring cold water on the speculation, saying that they won’t even consider a unity government while Netanyahu is still leading Likud. And Netanyahu himself has denied reports that a rotation agreement was ever offered to Gantz or Lapid.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has confirmed he is working to call off the September 17 election, and he has the backing of many parties. A vote of 80 MKs would be needed to overturn the dissolution of the Knesset, but it’s looking unlikely to pan out that way.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced Wednesday that he will be holding a press conference at 6 PM local time with an announcement on the race.

** Good Wednesday 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: Baupost’s Seth Klarman loses in Allergan deal while David Tepper gets a win [Bloomberg• Eli Broad joins the ranks of billionaires calling for higher taxes on themselves [NYTimes• Ivan Glasenberg’s Glencore cuts out intermediaries as trading giant faces scrutiny [Bloomberg• Jeffrey Soffer now owns the Turnberry resort in Miami after split with his sister and business partner Jackie Soffer [RealDeal• CBS, Viacom CEOs won’t attend Sun Valley mogul conference amid merger talks[HollywoodReporter]

MORE BRIEFS: Buy low-tops, sell high-tops: A sneaker exchange is worth $1 billion [NYTimes• Israeli urban tech startup Venn raises $40 million[Reuters• RwandAir launches direct flights to Israel [CNBC• Beresheet 2.0’s moon project scrapped [Calcalist] • Leumi moving HQ from Tel Aviv, shedding 700 staff [Globes]

SPOTLIGHT — Is Economic Opportunity a Catalyst for Peace at Israeli Company SodaStream — or PR for Israel — or Both? — by Cristina Maza: “In the middle of the Negev desert, just a little over 10 miles from the conflict-ridden Gaza Strip and next to the world’s largest Bedouin city, [Daniel] Birnbaum has opened a factory [Soda­Stream] that employs Jews, Palestinians and Bedouin men and women who work side-by-side… Birnbaum has personally fought to obtain work permits for the 120 Palestinians employed in his factory so that they can travel from the West Bank past the Israeli checkpoints to get to work. But even the decision to build SodaStream’s factory in the Negev has been colored by politics… Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement, said that he sees SodaStream’s closure as a success that is ‘in line with our commitment to end Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights.’ SodaStream, however, says that it moved the factory to the Negev because it needed more space to continue its expansion.” [Newsweek]

A Rape Case and a Wedding Strain Ties Between Arab and Jewish Villages — by David Halbfinger: “[B]ack-to-back furors in Deir Qaddis and Modiin Illit made for a roller coaster of suspicion and shame that have left people in both communities reeling. These towns, joined at the economic hip but separated by a checkpoint and a steel fence, have coexisted, mostly peacefully, for nearly a quarter-century, since Modiin Illit was carved out of land confiscated from Deir Qaddis and four other Palestinian villages. Today, dozens of Arab car-repair garages are kept humming by customers from Modiin Illit, who ignore the signs warning Jews not to enter because the prices are unbeatable. Over time, the lives of these Arabs and Jews have become intricately interwoven. But the rape case and the wedding demonstrated the limits of that coexistence, and just how quickly the bitter political dispute that overlays everything in the occupied West Bank can obliterate the little sprouts of humanity that take root beneath it.” [NYTimes]

HEARD AT ASPEN IDEAS — Dani Shapiro, author of the recently published memoir Inheritance, discussed her ‘feeling of otherness’ while growing up in a Jewish home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Shapiro shared her story during a panel discussion titled “The Art of the Memior” at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday:

“What contributed to my feeling of otherness was that there was this massive secret that was kept from me about my very identity. Yes, I grew up in this observant Jewish world but every day of my life — this is not an exaggeration — someone told me that I didn’t look Jewish. Every day,” she explained. “When I was three years old I was a Kodak Christmas poster child, wishing the entire world a Merry Christmas… and in my household being told ‘oh that’s so funny, we’re pulling the wool over all of their eyes.’”

“And, of course, I was in fact… my biological father is from Western Europe, his family came over here on the Mayflower. So that was hidden within me… Our identities are the received stories from the time we are very, very young — they’re what we’re told about ourselves and then they become our stories. But I was formed by what I didn’t know… I grew up with the sense that there was something that didn’t add up about me because it didn’t. It was ultimately very liberating to know and I think that turned me into a writer.”

HAPPENING TODAY — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be interviewed by Cass Sunstein at the Aspen Ideas “Afternoon of Conversation” at 4:30 PM EST. [AspenIdeas]

PROFILE  — This Hulking Lawyer Leads the Courtroom Charge Against Apple — by Nick Fouriezos: “[Mark] Rifkin, 58, has a competitive streak. The former shot-putter and offensive lineman at Princeton University considered the NFL — even signing an agent — before tackling the law. With an uncanny calm under pressure, he’s become one of the nation’s foremost antitrust lawyers, named both a ‘Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar’ by Law360 and a ‘trailblazer’ by the National Law Journal. He challenges monopolies in any form, from representing college football players suing the NCAA for pay, to consumers forced to pay royalties for using the song Happy Birthday. The latter, called a ‘lawsuit for the ages’ by The New York Times, led to a $14 million settlement and the popular song moving to the public domain.”

“It’s Rifkin’s recent work taking on a true giant — technology behemoth Apple, one of the world’s most valuable companies — that has him starring before the U.S. Supreme Court. ‘I guess Goliath needs to have somebody on his side too, but I naturally gravitate to David,’ the looming lawyer says, his hushed tone understating the grandiosity. ‘We all root for the underdog.’” [Ozy]

The Gay Jewish Matador From Brooklyn — by Corey Kilgannon: “[Sidney] Franklin, who died in 1976 when he was 72, was the first Jewish-American to reach the elite status of ‘matador’ in Spanish bullfighting circles. He was also gay. His sexual identity was an open secret among those who knew him, but remained unknown to the public… While Pride Month celebrates the progress that L.G.B.T. people have made in living openly gay lives, social taboos during Mr. Franklin’s heyday pressured other closeted men to assume the trappings of a straight life, perhaps even marrying a woman as a cover, something Mr. Franklin did not do.” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH — Jewish Week Editor To Step Down After 26 Years: “Gary Rosenblatt, considered the ‘dean of Jewish journalism,’ who shepherded The Jewish Week into the digital age, nurtured two generations of reporters and established the paper as perhaps the country’s preeminent Jewish weekly, announced this week that he plans to step down as editor and publisher at the end of September… The Jewish Week board announced that Rich Waloff… will become publisher, and Robert Goldblum, managing editor for the past 26 years, will continue in his post. A new editor is expected to be named by the board in the coming weeks.” [JewishWeek]

LONG READ — The Hidden Cost of GoFundMe Health Care — by Nathan Heller: “For those who want their hearts broken, the story of Zohar and Gabi Ilinetsky, the parents of one-year-old twins, is a world to live inside. [The couple] met in Israel, where he grew up, and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, her childhood home… To their delight, Gabi gave birth to twins: a boy, a girl. They called the children Yoel and Yael… At four months, [Yoel] was given a diagnosis of Canavan disease, which causes rapid degeneration of the brain and, almost always, death in childhood… Testing showed that Yael had Canavan, too.”

“Now they were facing the terminal brain decay of both kids. Through their own research, the Ilinetskys found a physical-therapy program called NeuroMovement, which purports to cultivate brain plasticity… For the Ilinetskys, the challenge was cost… [I]n December, they requested two million dollars on the Internet fund-raising platform GoFundMe… they raised more than a quarter of a million dollars in the first two months… And yet, to hear the Ilinetskys tell it, their campaign so far has been a bust. ‘If you’re not supported by a page that has millions of followers, it’s not going to happen,’ Zohar said. ‘Or if you’re not supported by a P.R. company,’ Gabi added.” [NewYorker]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Cuba restores oldest Jewish cemetery as Havana is spruced up — by Andrea Rodriguez: “Slowly, the oldest Jewish cemetery in Cuba is beginning to be rehabilitated, along with the memory of many of the island’s early Jewish forebears. The restoration is the result of an initiative by the government-run city historian’s office to spruce up Havana ahead of the 500th anniversary of its founding in November. Across the city, streets are being paved, monuments are being polished and historic sites are being restored.” [AP

SPORTS BLINK — Teenager Jack Hughes is first Jewish player to be No. 1 overall pick in National Hockey League draft — by Marc Brodsky: “Jack Hughes, even at 18, is no stranger to making history. And now he’s done it again, becoming the first Jewish player to be drafted No. 1 overall by the National Hockey League. The New Jersey Devils picked Hughes… on Friday. He’s the son of a Jewish mother and Catholic father… who attended Catholic high school but had a bar mitzvah. ‘We did Passover when we were younger,’ the teen phenom told ‘The Michael Kay Show’ on ESPN Radio on Monday.” [JTA]

SPOTTED LAST NIGHT — at Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s going-away party at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.: President Donald J. Trump, Ivanka Trump, Rick Perry, Sean Spicer, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Kevin McCarthy, and Raj Shah. [PicPic

DESSERT — McDonald’s Israel to introduce vegan burgers — by Shany Moses: “McDonald’s Israel, the largest fast food chain in the country, will introduce a hamburger made of wheat and soybeans in six weeks. The hamburgers, which were developed by Swiss food manufacturer Nestle, are already on sale at McDonald’s outlets in Europe.” [Globes

Is a Jewish deli with no meat still a Jewish deli? — by Alix Wall: “If a Jewish deli has no animal products, can it be called a Jewish deli? Julie Podair clearly thinks the answer to that Jewish kōan is a resounding ‘yes.’ She’s the proprietor of Goldie’s Vegan Deli, a startup that features vegan lox made from carrots — called Goldielox, of course. Currently she sells her food at popups and to a few clients.” [JWeekly]

BIRTHDAYS: British Labour party member of Parliament for 42 years until 2017, David Winnick turns 86… David Marks turns 73… Retired co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, Robert Siegel turns 72… Founder of Grover Strategies, he is an attorney and public affairs strategist, he was Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (2009-2011), Alan Solow turns 65… Managing director of Emerging Star Capital and CEO of Transclick, he is the author of a biography of President Bill Clinton, Robert E. Levin turns 64… Chairman of the board of CBS, founder and CEO of ZMC (originally known as Zelnick Media Capital), Strauss Zelnick turns 62…

Professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland, she is known for her work on sleep patterns and behavioral well-being, Amy Ruth Wolfson, Ph.D. turns 59… Once the wealthiest of all Russian oligarchs, then a prisoner in Russia and now living in exile in Switzerland, Mikhail Khodorkovsky turns 56… Novelist and journalist, most notable as the author of the Magicians trilogy, Lev Grossman… and his twin brother, author and video game designer, Austin Grossman both turn 50… Dean of Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business since last month and author of bestsellers The Founder’s Dilemmas and Life Is a StartupNoam T. Wasserman turns 50…

President and founder of Reut Group, a Tel Aviv-based nonpartisan and nonprofit policy think tank, Gidi Grinstein turns 49… Political commentator, YouTube personality, comedian and talk show host, Dave Rubin turns 43… Director of operations communications at American Airlines, Ross Feinsteinturns 37… Associate in Mayer Brown’s DC office, in both the government and global trade group and the cybersecurity and data privacy group, Michael “Mickey” Leibner turns 31… MBA and MPP candidate at the University of Chicago, Asher J. Mayerson turns 26…

Most Popular
read more: