The Daily Kickoff: October 8, 2018

The future of the Democratic Party’s support for Israel; Inside YAMAM, Israel’s special police unit

Professor Alan Dershowitz participates in a panel discussion at the Institute for National Security Studies in Ramat Aviv on December 11, 2013. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90/via JTA)
Professor Alan Dershowitz participates in a panel discussion at the Institute for National Security Studies in Ramat Aviv on December 11, 2013. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90/via JTA)

Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here or via Debut Inbox

DRIVING THE CONVO — A New Wave of Democrats Tests the Party’s Blanket Support for Israel — by Catie Edmondson: “A cluster of activist Democrats — most of them young, most of them cruising toward House seats this fall — has dared to breach what has been an almost inviolable orthodoxy in both political parties, strong support for Israel, raising the specter of a crack in the Democratic Party that Republicans could use to attract Jewish supporters… They include Ilhan Omar… Rashida Tlaib… [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez… and Leslie Cockburn.”

“I do worry that there are some on the extreme left of our party who adopt slogans” that are creating tensions, said Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California and a pro-Israel voice in the party.”

“Others dismissed the newcomers as a fringe, with little influence. “We’re talking about a handful of people; they’re certainly not going to move Congress’s wall-to-wall support for Israel,” said Ron Halber, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. “Could it turn into a ripple? Perhaps. You have a unique combination of forces right now.” His greater concern, he said, is that President’s Trump’s friendly relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is getting Israel’s narrative “caught up in the anti-Trump fervor, which is not fair to Israel.” [NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY ― Professor Alan Dershowitz on Fox & Friends: “I’m a Democrat, but I will fight the Democrats… I’m going to fight for a Democratic House, but once it happens, I’m going to fight against the Democrats abusing [the] House… I’m not going to allow these radical Democrats, these hard-left Democrats, to make me leave the party that I’ve supported for 50 years of my life.” [Video

ROAD TO THE MIDTERMS ― Democratic challenger Harley Rouda discussed his campaign against incumbent Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher for California’s 48th Congressional District in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh.

Democrats see an opportunity to defeat Rohrabacher, a Kremlin favorite who has been implicated in the Mueller probe and who recently came under fire for attending a fundraiser with an alleged Holocaust denier in addition to endorsing an alt-right activist criticized for anti-Semitism. A recent New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll shows Rohrabacher and Rouda tied at 45 percent.

“It’s clear that Dana Rohrabacher has embraced anti-Semitism and individuals who support it,” Rouda told Jewish Insider in a phone interview. “And we have seen that done repeatedly, where he has embraced the nationalistic attitudes of some of the folks in the 48th District that have supported his campaign. It is not representative of the vast majority of voters, and for many of the voters, they didn’t realize he and/or his friends had such anti-Semitic views.”

Rouda pointed to Rohrabacher’s comments following the Charlottesville protests, with the Republican Congressman calling it ‘a total hoax’ set up by Clinton and Sanders supporters. “That’s how ludicrous he’s become with some of his comments,” Rouda exclaimed. “Between that and the company he’s keeping and supporting, as well as his recent endorsement of Gracie van der Mark, shows that he’ll stoop to any low in an effort to embrace the far-right extremists.”

Rouda, backed by the mainstream Jewish Democratic Council of America as well as J Street, says he does not support the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Rouda further stated he’s not concerned about declining Democratic support for Israel. “I don’t see a shift, personally,” he said, “In fact, I’m a little more worried about the white nationalists that are part of the Republican Party moving more in a direction that is anti-Israel than anything I’ve seen in the Democratic Party.” [JewishInsider]

Rep. Rohrabacher sent us the following statement in response to Rouda’s charges of associating with anti-Semites: “I have a long track record, even before my work with Ronald Reagan, of support for Israel. There are certainly people who support me who I don’t agree with on certain issues. As Ronald Reagan said many times about people who supported him, they sign on to my philosophy, I don’t sign on to theirs. If anything Harley says is to be taken seriously, let’s hear him condemn the militants and radicals in the Democratic Party who hate Israel and hate Jews.”

INBOX TRAFFIC — Both the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Jewish Democratic Council of America focused in on the upcoming elections in their communication regarding Kavanaugh’s confirmation as Supreme Court Justice on Saturday.

RJC’s Matt Brooks said in a statement: “The process of confirming Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was difficult and contentious – and clear evidence of the tremendous importance of the upcoming midterm elections. Without a Republican majority in the Senate, Judge Kavanaugh could well be the last Trump nominee for any post to be confirmed.”

JDCA’s Halie Soifer: “[Saturday’s] vote is a stark demonstration of the importance of elections and the undeniable reality that elections matter. The Jewish Democratic Council of America understands that nothing less than the future of our democracy is at risk, and are more determined than ever to vote our values – and support Democratic candidates – in November.”

Wall Street Is Booming Under Trump. But Many of Its Donors Are Embracing Democrats — by Shane Goldmacher: “Some of the industry’s prominent Republican donors have flipped parties entirely, most notably Seth Klarman, a hedge fund manager and former top Republican contributor, who is now pledging to give as much as $20 million to help Democrats in 2018. “You would expect, with the economy doing as well as it is today, that there would be a desire to keep the status quo,” said Thomas R. Nides, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton now working on Wall Street. But he said, “I don’t think people care. They’re worried about the direction of the country.” [NYTimes]

VA SEN — After Virginia Jewish community center vandalized, Virginia Senate candidate Stewart tweets about Kavanaugh while Kaine calls the graffiti ‘insidious’ ― by Antonio Olivo: “Given the negative weight that Corey A. Stewart’s past ties to white supremacists have had on his Senate campaign, it might have been a no-brainer Saturday for the Virginia Republican to immediately condemn the swastikas painted overnight on the walls of the Washington region’s largest Jewish community center. Instead, even after Sen. Tim Kaine (D) — his opponent in the Nov. 6 election — called the vandalism “insidious” on Twitter, Stewart spent the day applauding the Senate vote to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

“When reached by telephone for comment Saturday evening, Stewart said he was not aware of the incident. “That’s the first I’m hearing of it, but that’s obviously terrible,” he said… After learning the details, he said: “Obviously that type of bigotry and anti-Semitism is not welcomed anywhere in Virginia.” [WashPost]

FL GOV — Andrew Gillum makes appeal to Jewish voters, and Jewish leaders vouch for him — by Anthony Man: “There are some who would like to misconstrue what my relationship is with the Jewish community. But they don’t know the stories that I can tell about that relationship,” Gillum said. “I don’t have to be born to a Jewish mother and father to know the value of tikkun olam, the value of what it means to be repairers of the world, to stand in the gap on behalf of people. And in fact that has been the very testament of my life up to this point.” [SunSentinel]

— “The mayor of Tallahassee walked into one of the most dependable voting precincts in South Florida wearing a yarmulke and touted his ties to Florida’s Jewish community. In the company of the Jewish former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gillum delivered a short speech in which he spoke about his three trips to Israel during his time in office in Tallahassee and his family’s history.” [TampaBay] • See Bloomberg’s campaign yarmulke [Pic]

2020 PREVIEW? — Mike Bloomberg reminisces about South Florida, also known as “NYC’s Sixth Borough” — “South Florida always had a mythical status for our generation,” said Bloomberg, 76. “Growing up there were two promised lands. One had Jerusalem and Olive trees. And the other was Miami Beach, and had Wolfie’s deli. Now Wolfie’s may be gone, but the memory of their kosher pickles will certainly live on forever.” [SunSentinel]

PROFILE — The Worst Job in American Politics: Why does J.B. Pritzker want to be governor of Illinois? ― by Theodoric Meyer: “Pritzker doesn’t seem like a billionaire on the campaign trail… With his booming voice, he almost could pass for a local union boss, if not for the Apple Watch on his wrist. Pritzker’s great-grandfather, Nicholas Pritzker, was a Jewish Ukrainian immigrant who arrived in Chicago with his parents as a child in 1881 and later founded the law firm that began to build the Pritzker fortune… Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker was born far from Illinois, in California, where his father, Donald, had moved in 1959 to help run the newest Pritzker business, the fledgling Hyatt hotel chain.”

“Pritzker talks on the campaign trail about his early interest in progressive politics, spurred by his parents. “My mother was very progressive,” he told me. “And so many of the candidates that we were out advocating for were — back then the word ‘progressive’ hadn’t taken hold, so everybody called them liberal Democrats.” [Politico

Cory Booker makes 2020 Iowa debut ― by David Weigel: “Booker’s Iowa visit, the first by a Democrat considered a top-tier presidential candidate in 2020, was rapturously received by activists who had lost nearly every office in their state… His speech, delivered to about 1,400 Democrats at an event designed to stoke presidential speculation, dealt with the anguish over Kavanaugh’s confirmation with a digression into Booker’s personal story…” [WashPost

HEARD ON THE TRAIL  President Trump acknowledged Kansas-born Michael Glassner ― now Chief Operating Officer for Donald J. Trump for President ― at the start of a campaign rally in Topeka, Kansas on Saturday: “Do you know Mike? He’s fantastic.” [Pic]

TOP TALKER ― Jamal Khashoggi Disappears, a Mystery Rattling the Middle East — by David Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard: “Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident, met two friends for lunch last Monday in London to discuss a newspaper column he had drafted lamenting the lack of free speech in the Arab world. “Everyone is fearful,” he wrote. But Mr. Khashoggi appeared to have little fear about his plans for the next day: to pick up a document from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul… On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Khashoggi entered the consulate. He has not been seen since. Turkish investigators say that a team of 15 Saudi agents killed him inside the consulate.”[NYTimes]

— “The bizarre mystery surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance is part of a broader trend since the appointment, in June of last year, of the young Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman… In an interview with Bloomberg this past Wednesday, the crown prince dismissed reports of Khashoggi’s abduction as unfounded “rumors,” and vowed to probe the case alongside Turkish authorities.” [NewYorker]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed his relationship with Trump in an interview with Bloomberg News: “I love working with [Trump]. I really like working with him and we have achieved a lot in the Middle East, especially against extremism… We worked together also, together with more than 50 countries, to agree on one goal in the Middle East and most of those countries are going through with that strategy. Now we are pushing back against extremists and terrorists and Iran’s negative moves in the Middle East in a good way.” [Bloomberg] • Trump’s Saudi Policy Lets MBS Think He Can Get Away With Murder, ex-U.S. Officials Say [Haaretz

DEEP DIVE ―  Inside the Top-Secret Israeli Anti-Terrorism Operation That’s Changing the Game — by Adam Ciralsky: “Governments around the world are quietly turning to YAMAM, Israel’s special police force, for help with their most intractable security problems. And now, elite commandos publicly reveal the tactics that have made it one of the most fearsome counterterrorism units in the world.”

“I’ve been out with the YAMAM on operations,” John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, told me… “There are a lot of outfits that have a lot of knowledge and do a lot of training, but that’s different from a lot of experience.” He pointed out that for every terrorist attack in Israel that makes the news, there are 10 that are prevented by YAMAM acting on perishable intelligence provided by Shin Bet…”

Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, concurs: “We have a lot to learn from [Israel—YAMAM in particular] in terms of how they use technology as a force multiplier to combat an array of threats. Over the last 15 years, we at D.H.S. have partnered with them on almost every threat.” [VanityFair]

Palestinian Killed 2 Israelis in West Bank Attack — by Isabel Kershner: “A Palestinian man fatally shot two Israeli co-workers and injured a third in an Israeli-run factory in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, an attack that Israeli officials described as terrorism. The killings shattered the calm in an industrial park long praised by Israelis as a symbol of peaceful coexistence.”[NYTimes]

REPORT ― Netanyahu said to tell cabinet Israel preparing for Gaza offensive: “Netanyahu spoke of the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to “choke” Gaza during the weekly cabinet meeting… and said: “If the reality of civil distress in Gaza is diminished, that is desirable, but that is not certain to happen, and so we are preparing militarily — that is not an empty statement.”

“Angered by the reported funneling by Qatar of aid to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was said on Saturday to be planning on cutting the flow of funds to the Hamas-run coastal enclave… The Kan public broadcaster reported Saturday that Abbas had a tense phone call with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in which the latter warned Abbas that additional measures against the Gaza Strip would endanger the security of Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula.” [ToI] • Israel places new restrictions on Gaza after protests [AP]

Jason Greenblatt on Trump’s peace plan: US won’t propose Israel-Jordan-Palestinian confederation — by Raphael Ahren: “We’re not looking at a confederation model,” [Jason] Greenblatt told The Times of Israelduring a recent meeting in New York… “[The peace plan] will include a resolution to all of the core issues, including the refugee issue, and will also focus on Israel’s security concerns,” he said. In fact, he added, the proposal will “be heavily focused on Israeli security needs.” [ToI]

We’re ‘Providing Assistance’ to Student Denied Entry to Israel and Held at Airport, U.S. Embassy Official Says ― by Noa Landau: “An official at the U.S. Embassy in Israel said on Sunday that the United States was aware of the detention of Lara Alqasem, a Palestinian-American student who was denied entry into Israel last week and has been held at the Ben-Gurion Airport for the past five days over her alleged activism for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. “We are aware of the case and our Embassy is providing consular assistance,” the embassy official told Haaretz.” [Haaretz

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Lifestyle of Israeli prime minister’s wife under scrutiny as she goes on trial in Jerusalem — by Ruth Eglash: “A relaxed and smiling Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared before a Jerusalem judge Sunday, the first hearing in a long-anticipated trial that will likely shed light on what critics often describe as her and her husband’s opulent and self-indulgent lifestyle… The prime minister is not directly named in the case but a very public trial against his wife could have far-reaching implications for his political standing and could harm his image at a time when he is said to be considering an early election.” [WashPostCNN] • New poll shows Netanyahu would win election [JPost

** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? 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: Roman Abramovich Transfers $92.3 Million in Manhattan Property [NYTimes] • Juul Hires Washington Insiders as Battle Shifts From Schoolyards to Capital [WSJ] • WeWork taps Lemonade to offer insurance to WeLive members [TechCrunch] • Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel goes from Tinseltown power broker to global mogul with deal after deal [Telegraph]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — A 26-year-old founder has a solution to what Bill Gates calls an ‘unnecessary roadblock’ to college — by Myelle Lansat: “In late 2016 and early 2017, Charlie Javice, a 26-year-old University of Pennsylvania grad, sat with close to 1,000 students in the South Bronx helping them fill out financial aid request forms. “Just by sitting and counseling all of these students — every story is unique but every problem is kind of a pattern that emerges, and it’s how you can fix a piece of technology and application process that dates back to the 50s,” Javice told Business Insider. Later, Javice turned her field work into Frank, an online platform she founded that works with students to complete the FAFSA process in as little as four minutes, for free. To date, Frank has helped more than 300,000 students receive $7.5 billion in financial aid.” [BusinessInsider]

HOLLYWOOD SCENE — SB Projects founder Scooter Braun, Geffen Records President Neil Jacobson and Warner Music Group Global VP of A&R Aton Ben-Horin were recognized as “Ambassadors of Peace” by Hollywood organization Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) on Thursday night.

Scooter Braun described being the grandchild of Holocaust survivors – his grandfather was in Dachau and his grandmother Auschwitz. But despite those hardships, his grandmother lit up every room she entered, he said, also recounting the moment when his client Justin Bieber name-checked her from the stage at his Tel-Aviv concert and also took her by the hand as the group viewed the Yad Vashem museum on that same trip. “The best way to change the world is to have an open, honest dialogue for peace and understanding on all sides,” Braun told Variety. Later “winging” his acceptance speech, he called for “everyone to also play in the West Bank, or any country where their voice can be heard to make a change.” [Variety]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Swastikas painted on Northern Virginia Jewish community center — by Joe Heim: “For the second time in 18 months, a Jewish community center in Fairfax County has been vandalized with spray-painted swastikas on its exterior walls.” [WashPost

Chicago’s Rogers Park crime spree renews fears for Orthodox Jewish community — by Elyssa Cherney and Madeline Buckley: “In recent years, many of the estimated 25,000 Orthodox Jews who live in the area have witnessed acts of vandalism and threats to Jewish schools and synagogues. But the recent killings of [Eliyahu] Moscowitz and 73-year-old Douglass Watts… have stirred fresh concerns among the community…”[ChicagoTribune]

BAbayit marks Start of Second Year, Expands in NYC and Israel: “One year ago… BAbayit’s founders – all Jewish communal leaders in their 20s – moved into a spacious Upper West Side apartment and threw open the doors to their peers. In the year since, the apartment has played host to dozens of Shabbat meals, speakers, events, and special davening opportunities, attracting over 1,000 people.” [EJewishPhil]

SCENE YESTERDAY IN NYC — Sheikh Dr. Mohammed al-Issa, General Secretary of the Muslim World League and Saudi Arabia’s former Justice Minister, toured the American Sephardi Federation at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.

DESSERT — DC’s Soupergirl soups will make a pitch on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ — by Jeff Clabaugh: “Sara Polon, who started fresh soup company Soupergirl with her mother Marilyn in 2008, will appear on ABC’s “Shark Tank” on October 21. Polon, a former stand-up comedian, has grown the business to 35 employees and two retail locations in D.C., a home soup-delivery service and an expanding retail network including local farmers’ markets, more than 50 Whole Foods and other natural-goods stores throughout the Mid-Atlantic and 20 Costco stores from Massachusetts to D.C.” [WTOP

REMEMBERING — Sonia Orbuch, who fought Nazis as a girl, dies in California: “Sonia Orbuch, who survived the Holocaust as a teenager in eastern Europe by joining a resistance group that was sabotaging the Nazis, has died in Northern California… In 2009, she wrote her autobiography, “Here, There Are No Sarahs,” and helped found the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, which honors the memory of the 20,000 to 30,000 Jews who fought in resistance groups in World War II.” [AP]  

Vladimir Radunsky, 64, Dies; Protean Children’s Book Illustrator — by Daniel E. Slotnik: “Vladimir Radunsky, an illustrator who used an abundance of artistic styles to create captivating children’s books about subjects including Albert Einstein, a rapping dog and a towering stalk of asparagus, died on Sept. 11 at a hospital near his home in Rome… Vladimir Victorovich Radunsky was born on March 1, 1954, into a secular Jewish family in Perm, Russia, where his father, Victor, was teaching at a naval school.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Leah Koenig turns 91…Founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Isadore “Issy” Sharp turns 87… Columnist and businesswoman, Rona Barrett (born Rona Burstein) turns 82… Author of hundreds of horror fiction novels whose books have sold over 400 million copies, R. L. Stine turns 75… Attorney General of Maryland, Brian E. Froshturns 72… Academy Award-winning film producer and director, Edward Zwick turns 66… Director of Strategic Initiatives at AIPAC, has served on the boards of Mazon, Panim, and Seeds of Peace, Jonathan Kessler turns 62… Movie director and occasional actress and producer, Shira Piven turns 57… Member of the US House of Representatives for Tennessee’s 8th congressional district since 2017, David Kustoff turns 52… Scholar-in-residence at UJA-Federation New York, a blogger for the Times of Israel and a contributor to the Huffington Post, Rabbi Menachem Creditor turns 43… Entertainment reporter and sports commentator, Ben Lyons turns 37… Agustin Estrada… Founder of Knock Knock Give A Sock, Adina Lichtman

Most Popular
read more: