The Daily Kickoff: October 12, 2018
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The Daily Kickoff: October 12, 2018

Foiled Paris bomb plot raises fears that Iran is planning attacks in Europe; Rand Paul joins senate effort to block funds for a war with Iran

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting, in Tehran, Iran, January 2, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting, in Tehran, Iran, January 2, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

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SIREN — Foiled Paris bomb plot raises fears that Iran is planning attacks in Europe — by Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet and Joby Warrick: “Iranian leaders, under pressure from domestic protesters, Israeli intelligence operatives, and the Trump administration, which is reimposing economic sanctions lifted under President Barack Obama, are making contingency plans to strike at the country’s adversaries in the event of open conflict… Iran has assigned different units and organizations to conduct surveillance of opposition figures, as well as Jewish and Israeli organizations, in the United States and Europe, the officials said. The Iranians are preparing what one Israeli official called “target files” of specific people or groups that Iran could attack.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL — Rand Paul joins Senate effort to block funds for a war with Iran — by Alex Ward: “Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) quietly signed on to a Democrat-led bill prohibiting the use of federal money for a war against Iran without Congress’s express approval… The Prevention of Unconstitutional War With Iran Act of 2018 is sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), and Paul becomes the ninth senator — and the first Republican — to put his name on the bill.” [Vox]

ON THE GROUND — Netanyahu tours US Navy guided-missile destroyer in Ashdod — by Itamar Eichner: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that the visit of US Navy guided-missile destroyer to the Port of Ashdod for the first time in 19 years, symbolizes the Trump administration’s “full support” for Israel’s policy against the Iranian entrenchment in Syria.” [Ynet]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer at JINSA’s national leadership conference in DC: “There are lots of things that were said about the Iran deal that were not true, a lot of things. And it wasn’t an honest debate at the time. People said that this deal blocks Iran’s path to the bomb. It doesn’t. Now, if they would’ve said that we believe, with the highest certainty, that it will temporarily block its path, that would be a somewhat accurate statement. But they didn’t. They said it blocks Iran’s path to a bomb. The truth is that it paves Iran to a nuclear arsenal.”

“This is why the decision of President Trump to withdraw from the deal is so important. Now, Trump didn’t solve the problem yet with the sunset clause because the deal is still there, and we still have a regime that is committed to doing everything it can to endanger Israel, endanger our neighbors, and endanger the world. But what this decision did is that it weakened that regime.”

“Look, I would’ve loved to have been in a position, as Israel’s Ambassador, the first three years that I was here where I could walk through the White House and thank the Obama Administration for confronting Iran every single day. It would’ve made my job much easier. But it didn’t happen. And the opposition to that has nothing to do with what President Obama thinks on all these issues that concern Americans. It has to do with the difference of opinion that we had on a matter of national survival for Israel.”

“[Netanyahu’s] speech to Congress (in 2015), in my mind, should not have been a matter of controversy at all. And as I said before, I think if former President Obama was hooked up to a lie detector podium, and he said he believes the nuclear deal with Iran made America and Israel safer, I think he would be seen as speaking the truth. I don’t question his motives. I just disagree with the policy. I think it was going to have the exact opposite effect. And I think likewise, when you look at Israel, don’t question our motives. The Prime Minister of Israel sees this deal as a threat to the survival of his country.”

Dermer expressed hope that the Democratic presidential candidates would not express support in ending Trump’s Iran policy and returning to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal: “What I’m hopeful for is that even though people clearly took sides on this debate, and they’re still in the political arena —I’m hoping that the facts on the ground and what has happened, both the failed experiment over about a year and a half of two years from the President who started to change that policy and the success of actually restoring these sanctions will convince people that no matter what they thought then, here’s the reality we have today, and we should not go back into that deal.” [Pic]

Israel’s DC envoy refuses to meet J Street, snubs other left-wing Jewish groups — by Eric Cortellessa: “Since taking his post as Israel’s ambassador to the United States in 2013, Ron Dermer has refused to meet with J Street… Beyond J Street, which has sent multiple written requests for a meeting… and for him to address its galas and conferences, the ambassador has not met with other leading left-wing Jewish groups, including the New Israel Fund or Americans for Peace Now… Those groups, however, have not sought a meeting in the frequent and persistent way J Street has.” [ToI]

Turks tell U.S. officials they have audio and video recordings that support conclusion Khashoggi was killed — by Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson and Anne Gearan: “The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month.”

“Mohammed [Bin Salaman] has… become a key strategic partner in particular to Jared Kushner… Kushner has tried to promote Mohammed to skeptical national security officials, who have long viewed him as an impetuous and ruthless leader who has an overly simplistic view of the complex challenges the United States faces in the Middle East. During a bill signing Thursday in the Oval Office, President Trump called Khashoggi’s suspected killing “a terrible thing,” but stopped short of assigning blame.” [WashPost]

Elliott Abrams, during a panel at the JINSA conference: “Maybe if we would have been tougher with the Saudis on some of the other actions they took and the mistakes they have made, when this opportunity arose, maybe someone in Riyadh would have said, ‘This is a bad idea. It’s not worth it.'”

Dina Powell tells Trump she doesn’t want UN job — by Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin: “Dina Powell told the White House on Thursday that she’s not interested in serving as the next U.N. ambassador… Powell spoke to the president on Thursday and asked that her name be removed from consideration… Powell indicated to Trump that she was honored to be discussed but felt it wasn’t the right time for her family to take the post, the person said. Powell… also told the president that she would be happy to continue to informally advise the White House.” [AP]

Nancy Brinker under consideration for UN ambassador — by Jim Acosta and Kate Sullivan: “The White House reached out to Nancy Brinker, the founder of the Susan G. Komen foundation, on Wednesday to ask if she would be open to consideration for US ambassador to the United Nations… Brinker went through Senate confirmation before serving as US ambassador to Hungary and as the chief of protocol at the State Department during President George W. Bush’s administration. “ [CNN

MIDTERMS — Adelson drops tens of millions more to save the GOP Congress — by Alex Isenstadt and Jake Sherman: “Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is pumping tens of millions of dollars more into Republican Party coffers in an 11th-hour push… The contributions were made to a pair of GOP super PACs tied to congressional Republicans, Senate Leadership Fund and Congressional Leadership Fund. The figures would almost certainly make Adelson… the biggest GOP donor of the 2018 election cycle.” [Politico] • “The newest donations… have totaled at least $25 million — and possibly more.” [NYTimes]

Republicans Abandon Vulnerable Lawmakers, Striving to Keep House — by Alexander Burns: “In a memo circulated to Republican donors this week, Corry Bliss, who helms the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC funded heavily by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson… said Republicans were facing a “green wave” of Democratic money, as Democratic challengers raise enormous sums online and donors like Michael R. Bloomberg… pour millions into anti-Republican ads.” [NYTimes

“The road to the Democratic majority in the House runs through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California,” said Israel “Izzy” Klein, a Democratic lobbyist with the Klein/Johnson Group, and a former communications director for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.” [RollCall]

NORPAC, which bills itself the nation’s largest pro-Israel political action committee, is hosting two fundraisers for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is facing a tougher-than-expected re-election bid, this month. Today, Michael Wildes is hosting a breakfast for Menendez at the offices of Wildes and Weinberg in Manhattan. Another fundraiser will be hosted by AIPAC President Mort Fridman on October 21 in Teaneck, New Jersey.

NORPAC President Ben Chouake tells us… “I think Menendez is in decent shape. He’s vulnerable because of two reasons. One, he’s running against a self-funder, who can write a check for a million dollars a week to his own campaign. We are making a lot of phone calls. We’ve raised a lot of money for the Senator and moreover, he has a long legacy of service to this state and it’s a Democratic-leaning state. Quite frankly, the fact that we endorse him, obviously, helps him because even among people who lean right this is the vote they would likely cast for the Democratic incumbent.”

Democrats try to flip Washington district for the first time —by Sally Ho: “As part of a surge of women seeking office for the first time, Dr. Kim Schrier’s candidacy will test how far a “blue wave” can go in the only congressional district that substantially blends Washington’s wide-ranging political spectrum, from the ultraliberal far eastern Seattle suburbs to solidly conservative rural areas.” [AP]

House candidate Elissa Slotkin tells Lisa Lerer why she decided to challenge Rep. Mike Bishop in Michigan’s 8th District: “Slotkin and her brother had pushed their mother into reinstating her health insurance, which she had dropped after losing her job. But she let the new policy lapse… A few weeks later, she walked into an emergency room and learned she had stage-four ovarian cancer… Nearly a decade later, Ms. Slotkin watched her congressman, Mike Bishop, a Republican, smiling and standing alongside the president at an event to celebrate the House passing its version of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “Something in me just broke,” she said.” [NYT]

FL GOV — Ron DeSantis, Andrew Gillum working overtime to court Jewish voters — by Anthony Man: “The focus on Jewish voters has been heightened for weeks — akin to the levels usually seen in presidential campaigns — and shows no signs of letting up before Election Day. The candidates are making emotional pitches, including Democrat Gillum asserting that he might not have been born if not for a Jewish couple’s kindness to his grandparents and introducing them to Florida. Republican DeSantis has positioned himself as a truer friend to Israel and asserted anti-Semites are close to Gillum.” [SunSentinel]

ON THE TRAIL — I Listened to All Six Trump Rallies in October. You Should, Too — by Susan Glasser: “In Trump’s telling at these rallies, he is the hero of every story. All ideas, big or small, flow through him now that he is President. He personally ordered the Ambassador in Israel to renovate a building for the new American Embassy there using “beautiful Jerusalem stone.” (Never mind that all buildings in the city are required to be faced with it.)” [NewYorker]

Michael Cohen is now a registered Democrat — by Jonathan Swan: “Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney who until June served as the Republican Party’s deputy finance chair, today changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat…” [Axios]

Emily Jane Fox‏: “Worth noting that Cohen cannot vote, since he pleaded guilty to federal crimes.”

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: A Billionaire’s Sears Fiasco Is Finally Nearing Its End [Bloomberg] • Ex-Donald Trump adviser Gary Cohn joins blockchain start-up [FinancialTimes] • Kushner family selling Chicago office tower[ChicagoTribune] • With Howard Lorber’s blessing, Eklund-Gomes team is expanding [TheRealDeal] • Leon Black’s Apollo Management could help McClatchy with Tribune bid [NYPost]

PROFILE — Jami Gertz Got Game: How an Actress Became an NBA Team Owner — by Seth Abramovitch: “Today, the 52-year-old actress is starring in a new role: She’s the public face of the Hawks, the team her 59-year-old billionaire husband, Tony Ressler, purchased in 2015 for $720 million… “I get it,” Gertz says during a break in schmoozing, acknowledging the weirdness of her journey from screen ingenue to billionaire’s wife and basketball team owner. “It’s not your everyday Hollywood actress tale.”

“Everyone thinks I married a rich guy,” she tells me the following day over lunch. “But I made more money — way more money — than Tony when I met him. I paid for our first house. I paid for our first vacation. I married him because I fell in love with him.” … Gertz, who was raised in a Jewish working-class family in Glenview, Illinois (her dad sold siding), was taken with the 27-year-old Ressler, a tall, handsome Jewish boy from Long Island who wouldn’t shut up about the L.A. Lakers. “He was a nice guy with a job,” says Gertz. “Which is what any Jewish girl from Glenview would want. It would have been nice if it was a doctor or a lawyer, but a banker was OK, too.”

“It wasn’t long, however, before Ressler was earning enough to start paying for the vacations. In 1990, he co-founded private-equity firm Apollo Global, then, seven years later, launched his hugely successful Ares Management. “We’re a $125-ish billion asset manager,” he says when asked to clarify what Ares does. “I guess the right quote would be, ‘We’re the most amazing investment firm in the history of the universe.'”

Running a basketball team has turned out to be something of a full-time job, but Gertz and Ressler have thrown themselves into it. The couple relocated to Atlanta, where they’re building a house, in order to fully focus on the Hawks. As for their friends back in L.A., not all are thrilled with the move. “We’d prefer Jami and her husband Tony to spend all of their time in L.A.,” says Disney CEO Bob Iger, adding, “but we are excited about their stewardship of the Hawks.” [HollywoodReporter]

Rube Goldberg exhibit opens Friday: Meet the sly cartoonist behind the contraptions — by Stephan Salisbury: “The Art of Rube Goldberg,” the first comprehensive exhibition of the great cartoonist’s work since a retrospective at the Smithsonian Institution in 1970, the year of his death, is now poised to open at the National Museum of American Jewish History… More than 30 of his famous invention drawings will be featured, but the exhibition covers the entire sweep of Goldberg’s career, from the earliest days and his first cartooning hits, like “Foolish Questions,” to his post-Second World War political cartoons…” [Philly]

Celebrity Jewish-Arab wedding stirs mixed feelings in Israel: “A surprise celebrity wedding bridging Israel’s Jewish-Muslim divide drew mixed public reaction on Thursday in a country where such inter-marriage is extremely rare. Wednesday’s nuptials of Tsahi Halevi, an Arabic-fluent Jewish actor, and Lucy Aharish, a Muslim anchor on a top Hebrew news show, followed a four-year romance that, friends said, they had kept secret to avoid falling foul of cultural sensitivities. “We Are Signing a Peace Accord,” the couple joked on their wedding invitation.” [Reuters]

CAMPUS BEAT — Study Abroad Programs Enter the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict — by Gabby Deutch: “Serious conversations about real challenges in Israel (and there are many—just talk to any Israeli, or read the editorial pages of Israeli newspapers) aren’t happening on American college campuses, because pro-Israel students have to spend all their time and energy making the basic argument that Israel has a right to exist. What’s most depressing about study abroad becoming the latest battleground in the conflict is that living in Israel offers American students their best chance to develop a sophisticated understanding of the country and its policies.” [TheAtlantic]

— On college campuses, a question of what constitutes anti-Semitism [CSMonitor]

Israel fines New Zealand women $18,000 for urging Lorde concert boycott — by Eleanor Ainge Roy: “Judge Mirit Fohrer ruled that Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab of New Zealand must pay damages to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel totalling more than NZ $18,000 for writing a letter urging [Lorde] to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv… It is believed to be the first effective use of a 2011 Israeli law allowing civil lawsuits of anyone who encourages a boycott of Israel.” [TheGuardian]

ACELA CORRIDOR — When Stu Loeser caught up with his former boss, Senator Chuck Schumer, on an Amtrak train from DC. [Pic

Conservative writer and strategist Noah Pollak sat next to Sen. Bernie Sanders on a flight from DC to Vermont last night.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Co-founder of private equity firm Granite Capital International and GOP fundraiser, in August 2017 he was confirmed as the United States Ambassador to Italy, Lewis Eisenberg turns 76… President of Los Angeles-based Community Advocates, Inc., he is the former Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, David A. Lehrerturns 70… CEO of Wakefield, Massachusetts based CAST, a nonprofit whose mission is to transform education for students with disabilities, Linda Gerstleturns 66… SVP of Investments and private wealth advisor at UBS Financial Services, he also serves as President of NY-JCRC, Charles S. Temel turns 65… Dermatologist in Los Angeles, Lamar A. Nelson, MD turns 64… Editor of the WSJ Weekend Review, Gary Rosen… Executive Director of Start-Up Nation Central, Wendy Singer… Goldman Sachs Managing Director Raanan Agus… Actress, Alexandra Smothers turns 45… White House correspondent for The Atlantic, Rosie Gray… Program officer at Alliance for Middle East Peace, Fatima Fettar turns 27… Argentine fashion model and artist, Naomi Preizler turn 27…

SATURDAY: Music composer and alto saxophonist, Lee Konitz turns 91… Sonia Bordo turns 81… Former deputy assistant secretary at the USDA, now an attorney working on organic food law, Richard D. Siegel turns 79… Musician, singer, songwriter, best known for his lead role in the Simon & Garfunkel duo, Paul Simon turns 77… Former White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush (2001-2003), now a sports media consultant, Ari Fleischer turns 58… Film director, producer and screenwriter, Amy J. Berg turns 48… Award winning actor, comedian, and screenwriter, Sacha Baron Cohen turns 47… Author, novelist and blogger who rose to prominence as an editor at Gawker, Emily Gould turns 37… Harvard Law grad, now an associate at Seattle’s Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, he served for two years at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (2012-2014), Josh Friedmann turns 30… Rick Lamke

SUNDAY: Emeritus professor of history at the University of London, Shula Eta Winokur Marks turns 80… Fashion designer, philanthropist and business executive, Ralph Lauren (born Ralph Lifshitz) turns 79… Former Major League Baseball player (1965-1972) for the Reds, Mets, Cubs and Athletics, Art Shamsky turns 77… Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve (1994-1996), co-founder and a vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network, Princeton professor, Alan Blinder turns 73… Author, political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Norman Ornstein turns 70… Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi turns 57… CEO of Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha, the largest yeshiva in the US, Rabbi Aaron Kotler turns 55…

Born in Teheran, raised in Beverly Hills, earned a Ph.D. at USC, she was appointed in 2017 as SVP of international affairs for the ADL, Sharon Nazarian turns 51… Founding partner and managing director of Glover Park Group, a communications, consulting and advocacy firm, he was previously senior advisor and traveling chief of staff for Vice President Gore, Michael Feldman turns 50… Actress and singer, best known for playing the role of Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes in the Hulu original series Marvel’s Runaways, Ariela Barer turns 20… Son of Jared and Ivanka, Joseph Frederick Kushnerturns 5… President and co-founder of the R Street Institute, a DC based free-market think tank, Eli Lehrer... International trade attorney who held senior posts in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Ira Shapiro… Marsha Grossman…

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