DRIVING THE WEEK — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: The campaign against Iran over its aggression in the Middle East and the future of the Iranian nuclear deal are expected to be a “major topic” at the annual United National General Assembly this week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday. The U.S. is likely to lobby countries to back a U.N. Security Council resolution on Iran and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also convene a meeting of Gulf and Middle Eastern allies to discuss countering the Islamic Republic, the White House said on Friday.
What to expect: President Donald Trump will address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday morning. “Obviously our overarching concern with Iran’s escalatory violence is going to be a theme,” an administration official told reporters on Friday. The official added that the president will not reveal details of the anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace plan during his address.
Prominent world leaders missing this year’s gathering include Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are scheduled to be in New York, but they are not expected to meet with Trump. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is due to address the U.N. on Wednesday.
Why it matters — via the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Gordon, Vivian Salama, and Courtney McBride: “Short of international action by the U.N., Mr. Trump has the option of using the world body as a venue for top-level consultations with foreign partners to expand Washington’s own maximum pressure campaign against Tehran. Even that avenue, however, faces potential challenges for Mr. Trump, who isn’t currently scheduled to meet with many of the leaders who would be instrumental in a campaign to step up the pressure on Iran.” [WSJ]
Never say never: Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Sunday morning, Trump said that he has “no intention” of meeting with Rouhani in New York, but “nothing is ever off the table completely.” Trump further proclaimed, “I’m a very flexible person.” Mnuchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that a meeting is “highly unlikely given the current circumstances.”
Worth watching: Pompeo is expected to speak at the United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) annual summit at the Lotte New York Palace on Wednesday.
IRAN WATCH — The Pentagon announced on Friday it will deploy additional U.S. troops and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The move, intended to beef up security in the region, indicates that a military strike against Iran has been put off for now. “I think the strong person’s approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday. On Sunday, Rouhani called on Western nations to “distance” themselves from the region.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday: “I’m not confident that we can avoid a war. I’m confident that we will not start one but I’m confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it.”
BEHIND THE SCENES — Inside Trump’s aborted attack on Iran — by Peter Baker, Eric Schmitt and Michael Crowley: “By the time President Trump met with congressional leaders on the afternoon of June 20, he had already decided to retaliate against Iran for shooting down an American surveillance drone… Without consulting his vice president, secretary of state or national security adviser, he reversed himself and, with ships readying missiles and airplanes already in the skies, told the Pentagon to call off the airstrikes with only 10 minutes to go. When Vice President Mike Pence and other officials returned to the White House for what they expected would be a long night of monitoring a military operation, they were stunned to learn the attack was off.” [NYTimes]
HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview on “Face the Nation” that the escalation with Iran was “foreseeable” once the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal. Kerry also noted that the JCPOA “averted” war with Iran while regional leaders were vouching for war. He recalled Netanyahu deciding to “come to America and ask for a green light to bomb.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) writes in The New York Post that it’s time for Trump to invoke the snapback mechanism on the U.N. Security Council resolution (UNSC 2231), which includes the sunset clause. “It’s time to tear up that deal once and for all,” Cruz implored.
Turtle Bay debut: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft vowed on Friday — in her first speech at the U.N. Security Council monthly meeting — that she would maintain strong U.S. support for Israel. “Israel will have no better friend than Kelly Craft,” said Craft, who replaced former Ambassador Nikki Haley.
HAPPENING TODAY — Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will discuss Trump’s foreign policy approach and what a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran means for the future of the Middle East at the Concordia Annual Summit at the Grand Hyatt New York. Ivanka Trump is also a featured speaker and will discuss her Women’s Global Development initiative.
ISRAELI COALITION WRANGLING — President Reuven Rivlin completed his second day of consultations with political parties on Monday, and invited both Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz to a meeting in his office this evening. The call capped off two days of meetings between Rivlin and delegations from each party in the 22nd Knesset, which ended with neither leader garnering more than 60 recommendations.
History made: On Sunday, Rivlin met with Blue and White, Likud, the Joint List, Shas and Yisrael Beytenu. In a dramatic development, the Joint List recommended Gantz as prime minister, the first time an Arab political party has recommended any candidate since Yitzhak Rabin in 1992.
Split list: While Joint List leader Ayman Odeh made the recommendation Sunday in the name of all 13 of the party’s members of Knesset, the Balad faction later said it did not support the decision, and wished to subtract its three seats from the tally of those recommending Gantz. After a letter from Balad leader Ahmad Tibi, Rivlin said Monday he would remove Balad’s three seats from the recommendation.
Coalition calculation: Unsurprisingly, Blue and White on Sunday recommended Gantz and Likud recommended Netanyahu. Avigdor Lieberman, however, recommended neither man for the job, instead continuing his call for a unity government containing both parties. On Monday, Shas recommended Netanyahu, as did United Torah Judaism and Yamina. Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Union recommended Gantz, leaving Netanyahu with 55 nods compared to Gantz’s 54.
No, you go first: Political analysts are speculating that both Gantz and Netanyahu want each other to have the first shot at building the coalition — and fail. Some observers believe the political leaders think that going second will give them more leeway and leverage for success. Rivlin has continued to indicate that he will push for a unity coalition, as well as any scenario that avoids a third election.
Odeh explained his historic decision in an op-ed featured in The New York Times: “Every time I take my youngest daughter, Sham, to her school, I see a passage written on the wall from the Book of Psalms: ‘The stone that the builders rejected became a cornerstone.’ By choosing to recommend Mr. Gantz, we have proven that cooperation between people, Arab and Jewish, is the only principled political strategy that will lead to a better future for us all.” [NYTimes]
HOW IT PLAYED — Arab parties back Benny Gantz as Israeli leader, to end Netanyahu’s grip [NYTimes] • Arab parties throw support behind Gantz as they seek to block Netanyahu [WashPost] • Israel’s Arabs emerge from sidelines to back Netanyahu rival [Bloomberg] • Why the Arab alliance’s endorsement of Gantz is a big deal [Haaretz]
Buzz on Balfour: Bruised Netanyahu gets cold shoulder from world leaders — by Mehul Srivastava: “Mr. Netanyahu also this week had to endure the ignominy of being ignored by the man he has described on an almost daily basis as his friend: U.S. President Donald Trump… The week before, as polls predicted Mr Netanyahu’s dismal election showing, Vladimir Putin made the Israeli leader wait hours before a meeting, according to one Israeli foreign ministry official, who said Russia’s president was wary of being used as a prop in Israeli elections.” [FinancialTimes]
Hot takes: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens concludes that the “reports of death turn out to have been greatly exaggerated. Israeli democracy is doing fine, thanks.” Aaron David Miller explains in CNN why “no one should ever count the wily and willful [Netanyahu] out of the game” and what a national unity government would look like. According to veteran reporter Benny Avni, “Bibi fatigue is real,” and even if he survives this period, “the one-man rule that marked most of his time in office is likely over.”
The New York Times editorial board notes that “In the past, Mr. Netanyahu overcame the resistance by capitalizing on his image as a strong guarantor of national security. But faced with a party formed by three former military chiefs of staff… Mr. Netanyahu no longer appears indispensable for security.” Anshel Pfeffer writes in The Economist that “the era of King Bibi is surely coming to a close,” losing “the aura of invincibility given by four terms and 13 years in power.”
Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi tells JI that he believes Netanyahu “has become a great liability to Israel” and that a national unity government headed by Blue and White helps “put Israel back into proper focus.” He added that the election results are a “great boost” to American Jewry who are “trying to convey a more complex Israel.”
View from the Diaspora: Eric Fingerhut, the new head of the Jewish Federations of North America, shared a photo on Friday of him shaking hands with Benny Gantz at the state memorial ceremony for the late President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Thursday. “I was honored to… have the opportunity to speak briefly with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz,” he wrote on Facebook. [Pic]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt is slated to meet with Benny Gantz and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman in Tel Aviv today. This is the first meeting between Netanyahu’s rival and an administration official since the election. Greenblatt met with Rivlin on Sunday. “Greenblatt came to say farewell to the president as he ends his term in the region,” the president’s office said in a statement. [Pic]
In a farewell essay published on Friday, Greenblatt wrote that he is “deeply hopeful” that the peace plan will appeal to Israelis and Palestinians “enough to start down the hard road of negotiating a peace agreement.”
Trick or treat: Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) 90-year-old grandmother has offered to host Trump in the city of Beit Ur Al-Faqua, near Ramallah, when he releases the peace plan. “But only as a guest — not as a politician,” Muftia Tlaib said in an interview with USA Today.
Heard the other day: Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, offered his advice to the next Israeli prime minister during a private event hosted by the Israel Policy Forum in New York on Wednesday. “Don’t succumb to the temptation to take more unilateral steps,” he said, “Reign in settlement construction and expansion. Keep your eye on the big prize: normalizing relations with the Arab states. That requires a commitment to the two-state solution and progress on resolving the Palestinian question.” [Pic]
Jared’s travels: White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is slated to attend the Future Investment Initiative economic conference in Riyadh next month. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin may also attend, and other tentative attendees include businessman Tom Barrack; David Malpass, president of the World Bank; and Eric Cantor, former House majority leader.
ON THE HILL — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced last week new legislation to transfer $75 million to the Palestinian Authority to boost Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. The legislation is part of the 2020 state and foreign operations bill.
Outside pressure: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) was influenced by lobbying from Qatar to water down a bill sanctioning sponsors of Palestinian terrorism, the New York Post charges.
War powers: Two unlikely allies, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are teaming up on legislation that would require congressional authorization for any attack against Iran. Gaetz said when he and Khanna “got to talking about the good we can do to stand against forever wars, this Iran situation captured our focus.”
ON THE TRAIL — JI’s Ben Jacobs is on the campaign trail in Iowa, where a rain-drenched Pete Buttigieg told supporters Sunday night that “standing in the rain is an act of hope.” The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, spoke to a crowd of hundreds at a rally in Waterloo, Iowa, in an amphitheater on the banks of the Cedar River. The crowd, brandishing umbrellas brought from home or ponchos handed out by the campaign, mostly stayed in their seats to listen to Buttigieg give his standard stump speech as he ended the first full day of his bus tour across the Hawkeye State.
Buttigieg’s remarks were well received by the crowd, who applauded his pledge to be a president whose actions would lower blood pressure rather than raise it. Volunteers brandishing microphones in the crowd did not bother to disperse for questions from attendees. Instead, those who wished to speak to Buttigieg approached him after the event under the canopy covering the stage. Others hurried back to someplace warm and dry, certain that — considering they live in Iowa — this won’t be their only chance to question a presidential candidate.
The Polk County Steak Fry: An ersatz tradition in Iowa politics — by JI’s Ben Jacobs on the ground in Des Moines, Iowa: The descendant of an annual fundraiser held by former Senator Tom Harkin in Indianola, Iowa, has transmuted into a presidential cattle call of gargantuan proportions. Candidates parade into the venue with crowds of supporters and marching bands. They take turns grilling steak and pouring beer for television cameras before taking the stage to give 10-minute sales pitches to a crowd of thousands. For big-name candidates, Saturday’s event was yet another photo opportunity. For candidates struggling in the polls, the event was an extended retail stop.
A lot at stake: Perhaps the highest stakes of the day were for Cory Booker. The New Jersey senator’s campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, released a memo earlier that day stating that the campaign needed to raise $1.7 million by the end of September in order to mount a viable campaign to win the nomination. [JewishInsider]
INTERVIEW — Disney CEO Bob Iger explained in an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd why he gave up on his desire to run for president in 2020. Aside from his wife’s reluctance, Iger said, he doubted that Democratic voters would support a successful businessperson as their nominee. “I think the Democratic Party would brand me as just another rich guy who’s out of touch with America, who doesn’t have any sense for what’s good for the plight of the people,” he said. [NYTimes]
2020 BRIEFS — Elizabeth Warren surges and Joe Biden fades in close Iowa race, new poll shows… Democratic opponents search for plan against Warren… Scrutiny over Trump’s Ukraine scandal may also complicate Biden’s campaign… Warren and Bernie Sanders compete in side primary in New York… Why many Muslims treat Sanders like a rock star… Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) launched a Senate bid on Saturday…
Lauder vs. Bernie: Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, is calling on Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to remove Linda Sarsour from his campaign surrogate list. “Linda Sarsour is a virulent antisemite… and any candidate who associates with her is guilty of handing a megaphone to antisemites around the country,” Lauder told the New York Post. “What’s even more disturbing is that Bernie Sanders, the only Jewish candidate, has chosen an antisemitic surrogate.”
Top talker: Republican Senate hopeful Jason Lewis, the current frontrunner to challenge Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) in Minnesota, is under fire for past comments alleging that the “Jewish lobby” controls the Republican Party. [JewishInsider]
** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sheldon Adelson warned Trump about impact of U.S.-China trade war [WSJ] • Haim Saban to return controlling stake in Israel’s Partner Comms [Reuters] • TD took Jeffrey Epstein’s money after Deutsche Bank kicked out felon [Bloomberg] • Facebook has acquired Israeli Servicefriend, which builds ‘hybrid’ chatbots, for Calibra customer service [TechCrunch]
MORE BRIEFS: Investor offers to inject $250m into Delek’s Ithaca [Globes] • AT&T boss Randall Stephenson met with activist investor Jesse Cohn to discuss strategy [WSJ] • Germany’s Adler Real Estate to buy Israel’s ADO Group for 708 mln euros [Reuters] • Amazon’s Israeli website is live [Calcalist]
SPOTLIGHT — WeWork board to meet today to vote on Adam Neumann’s removal — by Cory Weinberg: “Directors of WeWork’s parent, We Co. [including SoftBank’s Ron Fisher], are scheduled to meet Monday morning to discuss the potential removal of Adam Neumann as CEO… Removal of Neumann would be an extraordinary move by investors, who have poured more than $11 billion in to WeWork over the past seven years and empowered Neumann with near-total control. Earlier this month, the company put in place a provision that would allow the board to fire Neumann… The discussion of Neumann’s possible replacement comes days after the real estate firm delayed plans to go public until some time in October, at the earliest.” [TheInformation; WSJ] • WeWork’s IPO backpaddling leaves Israel’s two largest banks at risk [Calcalist]
PROFILE — Ben Platt unleashes his inner egomaniac in ‘The Politician’ — by Kathryn Shattuck: “Growing up in Los Angeles, Platt — one of five showtune-obsessed siblings whose father, the producer Marc Platt, cranked up cast albums in the car — admits that his own ambitions were honed young. A theater nerd at the Harvard-Westlake School alongside the scions of other entertainment families, he added the roles of Benji Applebaum in ‘Pitch Perfect’ and Elder Cunningham in the Chicago production of ‘The Book of Mormon’ (later moving to Broadway) to his resume not long after graduation.” [NYTimes]
SPORTS BLINK — In historic first, Israel’s national baseball team qualifies for Tokyo Olympic Games — by Itamar Katzir: “For the first time in the country’s history, Israel’s national baseball team qualified on Sunday for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020…. The Israeli team, comprised entirely of Jewish American players from the second and third leagues in the United States… finished fourth in the European Championship, garnering a spot at the pre-Olympic tournament that took place in Italy last week. This week the Israeli team won five out of six games it played, paving the path for a spot at the Olympic games.” [Haaretz]
Robert Kraft fired Antonio Brown over ‘threatening’ texts to accuser — by Sara Dorn: “New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was ‘enraged’ when he learned of threatening messages Antonio Brown sent to one of the women accusing him of sexual harassment… Kraft then decided with coach Bill Belichick to release Brown.” [NYPost]
HOLLYWOOD — Alex Borstein, accepting her Emmy Award last night for best supporting actress in a comedy for her work on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” dedicated the win in part to her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor: “She was in line to be shot into a pit and she said ‘What happens if I step out of line,’ and [the guard] said ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will,’ and she stepped out of line. And for that I am here, and for that my children are here. So step out of line, ladies. Step out of line.” Tony Shalhoub also won best supporting actor for his role in “Mrs. Maisel.”
SCENE LAST NIGHT — ‘Incitement’ wins Ophir Award for best picture, becomes Israel’s Oscar submission — by Amy Spiro: “‘Incitement’ was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. The movie was directed by Yaron Zilberman and co-written by Zilberman and Ron Leshem, creator of the original Israeli TV series ‘Euphoria’ and the Oscar-nominated ‘Beaufort.’” [Variety]
SCENE SATURDAY NIGHT — The Philos Project held its Nexus Gala in SoHo. Attendees included Robert Nicholson, Shadi Hamid, Sohrab Ahmari, Jason Willick, Allan Arkush, Micah Meadowcroft, Amb. Alberto Fernandez and Harry Cohen.
TALK OF THE NATION — The New York Post editorial board proclaimed that, even now, “The Women’s March still has an antisemitism problem.” Despite ousting Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland and Tamika Mallory, and then voting out one of their replacements, Zahra Billoo, “its members still include: Charlene Carruthers, who… dropped an extended Twitter rant about the ‘massacre in Gaza’… Samia Assad, [who] retweeted a video with the caption ‘Israel = worse than the devil.’… [and] Rinku Sen, [who]… called Zionism… a ‘movement that claims all of the land from Iraq to Egypt for Ashkenazi (white) Jews.’ This is no course correction: The Israel-haters have colonized the Women’s March, and they’re not letting go.”
TALK OF THE TOWN — An improbable relic of Auschwitz: a shofar that defied the Nazis — by Ralph Blumenthal: “Judith Tydor Schwartz, an expert on the Holocaust, says her father, Chaskel Tydor, a longtime prisoner entrusted as work dispatcher at one of the more than 40 Auschwitz subcamps, contrived on Rosh Hashana 1944 to send fellow prisoners on a distant detail where they might safely, and privately, pray. He did not know that they carried something with them. But when they returned, she said, one confided to her father that a shofar had been produced and blown… On Monday, a week before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year 5780, and 75 Rosh Hashanas since that clandestine act of faith, that ceremonial ram’s horn, about 10 inches long with a right-angled curve like a smoking pipe, will be installed at the Museum of Jewish Heritage near Battery Park in Manhattan. It is part of ‘Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away,’ a traveling exhibition from Poland.” [NYTimes]
UAE’s first official synagogue to open in multi-faith complex in 2022: “Construction on the United Arab Emirates’ first official synagogue will begin next year and be completed by 2022… The synagogue will be part of the multi-faith ‘Abrahamic Family House’ complex in Abu Dhabi, which will also feature a mosque and church of which full construction will be completed in 2022.” [Reuters]
SCENE IN JERUSALEM — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s daughter got married at Jerusalem’s Tower of David last night. Guests in attendance included Sheldon Adelson, as well as outgoing White House Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt.
Musical ties: Pop star Demi Lovato, in Jerusalem for a private visit, met Sunday with members of the Shalva Band, the group of musicians with special needs who performed during the intermission at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May. Last week, Lovato, an actress and singer, was spotted visiting the Western Wall.
DESSERT — District Pickle brings kosher deli sandwiches to American University — by Samantha Cooper: “District Pickle, which opened Sept. 5, is the first fully kosher restaurant at [American University,] which has 1,600 Jewish students… Jason Benkendorf, the Hillel director at American University, said that District Pickle is the result of the university switching food vendors last summer.” [WashJewishWeek]
REMEMBERING — Annette Kolodny, feminist critic and scholar, dies at 78 — by Katharine Seelye: “Annette Kolodny, a literary and cultural critic who was a pioneer in the field of ecofeminism, drawing parallels between the subjugation of the environment and the subjugation of women, died on Sept. 11 at her home in Tucson… in 1974… she landed a teaching job at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. When she was denied tenure, Dr. Kolodny, who was Jewish, charged the university under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with sexual discrimination and antisemitism.” [NYTimes]
D.C. political analyst, champion for statehood Mark Plotkin dies at 72 — by Mark Segraves and Gina Cook: “Mark Plotkin, a fixture in Washington, D.C., politics for decades, has died… Plotkin was a political commentator and analyst for radio stations WAMU and WTOP.” [NBCWashington]
BIRTHDAYS: Former president of Chanel, Arie L. Kopelman turns 81… CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris turns 70… Mark J. Dollinger turns 69… Co-chairman and COO of Chesapeake Realty Partners, he is also a founding partner of Boulder Ventures, Josh E. Fidler turns 64… Senior analyst at AIPAC, Colin M. Winston, Ph.D. turns 64… Partner at Steptoe & Johnson, Darryl Nirenberg turns 60… Business Manager for Los Angeles Cardiovascular Medical Group, Angela Maddahi turns 59… Israeli ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled… Vice chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, she is a Birmingham, Alabama resident, Sheryl W. Kimerling turns 58… Co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, Todd Ricketts turns 50…
Former U.S. Ambassador to the EU and now EVP for policy at the Business Roundtable, Ambassador Kristen Silverberg turns 49… President of Santa Monica-based PR firm Tower26, former director of communications for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Naomi Seligman turns 47… Managing director of the Foundation at Alpha Epsilon Pi, Jay Feldman turns 38… Author of Moonwalking with Einstein, an international bestseller published in 34 languages, co-founder of the non-profit Sefaria, Joshua Foer turns 37… Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington bureau reporter for The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt turns 36… News Program Lead at Facebook, Gabriella Schwarz turns 31… Abby Glassberg turns 29 (h/ts Playbook)… Saber fencing champion, he represented the U.S. at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2017 Maccabiah Games, Eli Dershwitz turns 24…
Weekend birthday: Bryan Leib, 2018 candidate for U.S. Congress