Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: September 4, 2019

2020 Dems urged toward nuance on Iran deal; Bill de Blasio appoints head of new office on hate crimes; Trump labor aide quits after anti-Semitic Facebook posts surface

Democratic presidential candidates former US vice president Joe Biden and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont speak at the same time during the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic presidential candidates former US vice president Joe Biden and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont speak at the same time during the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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EXCLUSIVE — 2020 Dems urged toward nuance on Iran deal — by JI’s Ben Jacobs: Two top Democratic strategists on Jewish issues have sent a memo to presidential campaigns urging them to take a nuanced approach to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal.

Steve Rabinowitz, a veteran of the Clinton White House and a number of Democratic campaigns, and Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, urged Democratic presidential hopefuls not to “turn the issue into an ideological purity test” and instead focus on “how to achieve longer lasting restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, and, separately, to address Iran’s threatening behavior in the region.” 

Rabinowitz and Keyak, who are partners at Bluelight Strategies, argue that “doing so certainly cannot be achieved if the next president unilaterally rejoins the JCPOA without regard to its terms.” They point out that “while candidates may declare that they are for getting back into the Iran deal, the JCPOA as we know it won’t exist for us to return to in a few years.”

The memo suggests candidates on the campaign trail pledge to “seek to reenter a diplomatic agreement with Iran, while simultaneously engaging in multilateral negotiations to extend some of the most important elements of the Iran deal that will be expiring around 2021 or in the few years after.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said the memo is “realistic in the sense it counsels against the idea you can simply act as though that decision [to pull out] didn’t take place.” He also said the memo could be a useful resource but is “not a hard and fast approach.”

Tommy Vietor, an Obama White House veterancalled the memo “terrible advice,” and said that instead Democrats should “get back in the deal and then renegotiate [a] longer deadline.” [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said in a conversation with Mike Doran at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., that the “Deep State is alive and well” within the Treasury and State Departments and that its “number one objective” is to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Cruz charged that federal employees who oppose President Donald Trump’s policies intend to keep the deal “on life support” in the hope that a possible Democratic administration re-enters the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the Trump administration withdrew from in May 2018. “Their objective is just to wait out Donald Trump,” he said. “They’re convinced he’s leaving in January 2021, and so it’s a waiting game.” 

According to the Republican senator, “Every single day, the Deep State at [the] Treasury and State is working to frustrate President Trump’s decision” to withdraw from the deal and increase economic pressure on Iran. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Tuesday morning with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire to discuss a proposal that would grant Iran a $15 billion credit line if Tehran adheres to the terms of the international accord. Cruz said, “I hope and pray that Mnuchin is not deceived and that he does not go down a path that would lead him to be the Neville Chamberlain of the modern day,” referring to the British prime minister whose foreign policy of “appeasement” contributed to Nazi Germany’s territorial gains across Europe in the late 1930s. [JewishInsiderVideo]

At the event, Cruz also said that he viewed Israel’s raid on Entebbe in 1976 as “a very Texan approach.” Israel’s message with the mission, Cruz said, was “saying to its enemies: if you take our citizens hostage, they may die, but you’re going to die.”

DEEP DIVE — The secret history of the push to strike Iran — by Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti: “Interviews with dozens of current and former American, Israeli and European officials over several months reveal the startling details of how close the Israeli military came to attacking Iran in 2012; the extent to which the Obama administration felt required to develop its own military contingency plans in the event of such an attack, including destroying a full-size mock-up of an Iranian nuclear facility in the western desert of the United States with a 30,000-pound bomb; how Americans monitored Israel even as Israel monitored Iran, with American satellites capturing images of Israel launching surveillance drones into Iran from a base in Azerbaijan; and previously unknown details about the scope of Netanyahu’s pressure campaign to get Trump to leave the Iran deal.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE REGION — On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said European powers have two months left to save the 2015 nuclear deal, but warned that Tehran was preparing for further breaches of the pact that would have “extraordinary effects.” Iranian officials in Paris today gave mixed signals in response to a French proposal to offer Iran $15 billion in credit lines in exchange for returning to compliance with the agreement.

On Tuesday the IDF proclaimed that Hezbollah and Iran have built a precision-missile factory in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The Israeli military said that “in fear of strikes” by Israel, Hezbollah had moved key equipment from the site to “civilian locations in Beirut.” Fox News reported Tuesday that Iran has established a new military base in Syria — with the approval of the ayatollah — and is planning to house thousands of troops affiliated with the Iranian al-Quds Forces there.

TALK OF THE CITY — Bill de Blasio appoints head of new office on hate crimes — by JI’s Jacob Kornbluh: On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of Deborah Lauter as executive director of the newly created Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes.

Lauter previously served as the national civil rights director at the Anti-Defamation League. In her new position, she will supervise a team of six employees and oversee a budget of $1.7 million in the 2020 fiscal year, according to Colby Hamilton, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. 

The opening of the new office follows a renewed push by New York City Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) and Donovan Richards (D-Queens), who urged the mayor to take immediate action on antisemitism after a rash of recent incidents across New York City. 

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the mayor’s decision to hire Deborah Lauter as executive director,” Deutsch, chairman of the city council’s Jewish Caucus, told Jewish Insider. “She comes highly recommended, and I look forward to working together with her.”

According to City Hall, Lauter has been on the job for a week now, but has yet to meet with de Blasio, who was reportedly in City Hall at the time of the announcement. “I don’t know the mayor’s schedule but I can assure you that everything that’s been communicated to me [indicates] the mayor is taking this extremely seriously,” Lauter told reporters. [JewishInsider

WATCH — The American Jewish Committee (AJC) released a video on Tuesday highlighting the rise of antisemitism in New York City and demanding action. “What would you say if you learned there were over 100 antisemitic assaults in a European city? If Jews were being ambushed, attacked, stabbed, kicked, choked, bludgeoned?” the video asks. [Video]

POSTS OF THE PAST — Trump labor aide quits after antisemitic Facebook posts surface: “A recently appointed Trump Labor Department official with a history of advancing controversial conservative and faith-based causes in court has resigned after revelations that he wrote a 2016 Facebook post suggesting the Jewish-controlled media ‘protects their own.’ Four hours after Bloomberg Law requested comment from the White House and DOL about Leif Olson’s social media post, the department said he has resigned, without elaboration.” [BloombergLaw]

— Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg wrote on Tuesday that the publication “selectively cropped” Olson’s post, which was sarcastic, not antisemitic.

ACROSS THE SEA — Religious Jews in the U.K. are expressing concernthat a snap general election may end up being held on Sukkot. Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears poised to call for a vote this week to push for Brexit to take place at the end of October. On Tuesday, the House of Commons voted 328-301 to block a no-deal Brexit, prompting Johnson to suggest snap elections. The initially proposed date — October 14 — is the first day of Sukkot. Amanda Bowman, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the organization contacted the government to explain the “concerns and difficulties” the community would face if an election was held on October 14.

On Wednesday, Johnson told the parliament that the election would take place on October 15, which is the second day of the festival in the Diaspora. Others pointed out that the date would allow observant Jews to vote for several hours in the evening.

2020 BRIEFS — Joe Biden advisors play down expectations, insist the primary campaign could become a long slog… Biden campaign says it’s returning money from lobbyists… How Elizabeth Warren would address climate change… Why Kamala Harris hasn’t caught fire in the Democratic 2020 race…

The gospel according to Marianne Williamson — by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “[Williamson] was raised Jewish and had been looking for a way to spend her days talking about the higher mind; she wanted to talk about God and spirituality, but what is that job called? Her mother joked that she would pay for her to go to rabbinical school, but that was missing the point. Judaism was just one aspect of what she was talking about.” [NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sacklers’ Purdue prepares ‘free-fall’ bankruptcy as settlement talks stall [Reuters• WeWork prospectus fails to come clean on future profits [FinancialTimes] • NBA considers creating investment vehicle to buy stakes in teams [Bloomberg] • Billionaire Benioffs are making taboo editorial changes at Time [NYPost• Brodsky Org buys rental building from church for $57M [RealDeal]

MORE BRIEFS: Silverstein, Brookfield consider joint bid to develop 5 WTC[CommercialObserver• NJ’s American Dream shopping mecca to open in October [NYPost] • Israel’s Cortica teams with Toyota, BMW in autonomous AI car tech [Reuters] • Visa partners with three Israeli fintech companies [Calcalist]

NEW PARTNERSHIP — Bloomberg Philanthropies is partnering with the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to launch Hazira, a national hub for city innovation in municipalities across Israel. Hazira is slated to bring programming to 12 new cities across Israel over the course of five years. “Our program has had a lot of success working with cities in Israel,” said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “We’re glad to be working with the Ministry of the Interior and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to expand the model nationally to equip more cities to innovate – and we’re looking forward to seeing the results.”

Bloomberg’s i-teams have been working in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv since 2015, and Beersheba since 2017. On Tuesday, representatives of the Interior Ministry, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Peres Center presented the Hazira plan to President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. James Anderson, head of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation team, met Tuesday with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Wednesday with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. [Pic]

SPOTLIGHT — Ralph and Albert Reichmann: An unfortunate end to a remarkable story of immigrants — by Dennis Lennox: “The ultra-Orthodox Jewish brothers Ralph and Albert Reichmann made all the richest of the rich lists after escaping Austria and the horrors of the Holocaust on the eve of World War II to become among the most prominent Jewish businessmen in all of North America. They were the billionaire commercial real estate developers behind London’s Canary Wharf, the World Financial Center in New York City and other iconic developments in Boston, Chicago, their adopted hometown of Toronto and elsewhere. Their developments transformed cityscapes around the world.”

“Now 86-year-old Ralph is suing 91-year-old Albert in previously unreported litigation in Ontario Superior Court. This comes after Ralph was sued by his son, Abraham Reichmann, for shareholder oppression and seeking disclosure for allegedly millions of dollars in unaccounted trust assets. A judge found oppression in that Ralph made payments to himself and to other shareholders of his choosing and found ways to purposely avoid paying Abraham, according to court documents.” [WashTimes]

COMING SOON — HarperCollins announced on Tuesday that it has acquired the world rights to Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown’s upcoming book on the Jeffrey Epstein story.

HOLLYWOOD — ‘Jojo Rabbit’ trailer stars Taika Waititi as an outrageous Adolf Hitler — by Dave McNary: “Director Taika Waititi plays Adolf Hitler, the imaginary friend and confidante of a 10-year-old member of the Hitler Youth in Fox Searchlight’s anti-hate satire ‘Jojo Rabbit.’ The official trailer, which debuted Tuesday, is set in the closing years of the Second World War in Germany… ‘Jojo Rabbit’ will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before hitting theaters on Oct. 18.” [Variety]

MEDIA WATCH — David Karpf, an assistant professor at The George Washington University, responded to New York Times columnist Bret Stephens’s latest column comparing him to a Nazi propagandist after the former called him a ‘bedbug’ on Twitter. “There is something inherently entertaining about the self-proclaimed defender of uncomfortable speech on college campuses coming unglued when he found a sentence on the Internet that he didn’t like,” Karpf wrote. “But the joke turned sour on Friday night, when he published a column that not-so-subtly compares me to a Nazi propagandist.”

TALK OF THE TOWN — NYC health officials say measles outbreak has ended: “A measles outbreak concentrated in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in New York City is over, meaning an emergency order mandating vaccines will be lifted, health officials said Tuesday… But city Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot cautioned that there’s still a threat from ‘one of the most contagious diseases on the face of the earth,’ and urged New Yorkers to still get their children immunized before the start of the new school year.” [NBCNewYork]

Cash-strapped Israeli diplomats turn to Jewish communities for handouts — by Itamar Eichner: “They’re supposed to represent Israel on the international stage, but with budgets slashed and roles diminished, the members of the diplomatic corps are turning to Jewish communities in their host nations to pay for travel and other expenses… The financial woes at the Foreign Ministry mean anyone who needs to take a trip as part of their job must first have it approved by Jerusalem. But due to the lack of funding, almost all ambassadorial trips have been frozen and the visits by ministry personnel abroad have been all but cancelled.” [Ynet]

Germany returns two Nazi-confiscated old masters to the heirs of a renowned Jewish art collector — by Luise Wank: “Germany has returned two late medieval panels to the heirs of a famous Jewish art collector. The religious paintings, which were in Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie (Old Master Gallery), originally formed part of the remarkable art collection of the Jewish businessman Harry Fuld Senior. They are the latest pieces of Nazi-looted art to have been successfully recovered by his heirs, although hundreds of items remain missing.” [Artnet]

DESSERT — Israeli food is the no-diet diet for foodies —  by Heidi Mae Bratt: “Say shalom to your new healthy eating plan. Israeli food — with its emphasis on fresh produce, lean proteins and healthy fat — is having a moment in NYC… Adeena Sussman, Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook co-author and fellow arbiter of cool, just wrote a book on the cuisine called Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen.” [NYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Born in Tel Aviv, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, he is the father of slain WSJ journalist Daniel Pearl, Judea Pearl turns 83… Emeritus professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Lester Brickmanturns 79… Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, Edmundo N. Kraiselburd, Ph.D. turns 76… Attorney who has served as board president of Louisville, Kentucky’s Jewish Family & Career Services, Mark Steven Ament turns 68… Celebrity doctor best known as “Dr. Drew,” David Drew Pinsky, M.D. turns 61… Former Congressman Anthony Weiner turns 55…

Real estate strategic advisor, political strategist and commentator, E. O’Brien (“Obi”) Murray turns 53… Screenwriter best known as the writer of the 2008 film Vantage Point, Barry Louis Levy turns 47… Former member of Knesset for the Labor / Zionist Union party and the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Yehiel “Hilik” Bar turns 44… General partner in Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital, he was a personal aide to President George W. Bush (2006-2009), Jared Weinstein turns 40… Television and film actor, Max Greenfieldturns 39… Development officer at Atlanta’s Jewish Home Life Communities, Melissa Horen Kaplan turns 35… Television and film actor, Carter Mark Jenkins turns 28..

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