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DRIVING THE DAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will both address the UN General Assembly this afternoon. [Livestream]
JOSTLING: “An Israeli official said Mr. Netanyahu had requested a meeting with Mr. Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N., but the Palestinians declined to meet. A U.S. official said that the Palestinians also didn’t accept requests from the Trump administration to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.” [WSJ]
Video — A look back at Netanyahu's memorable UN moments [i24News]
DRIVING THE CONVO — Following his endorsement of the two state solution during a morning meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Trump clarified his new position at a press conference held at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel:
"I think we’re going to go down the two-state road, and I’m glad I got it out, and Jared [Kushner]... is also going to be very fair with the Palestinians. He understands it takes two people to be happy, two groups of people to be happy. Everybody has to be happy... You know what I did today? By saying that I put it out and if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that, but nobody wanted to say it. It is a big thing to put it out. Now, the bottom line, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me. If they want two states, that’s okay with me. I’m happy if they’re happy. I’m a facilitator... I think probably two state is more likely."
Trump on how he views solving the Middle East conflict: "I think it is in one way more difficult because it is a real estate deal because you need metes and bounds and you need lots of carve-outs and everything. It is actually a little tougher deal, but another way it works better because you have people governing themselves." [Video]
Flashback — 2-26-2016 — Rubio to Trump: 'Palestinians aren't a real estate deal' [CNN]
HOW IT PLAYED — Trump supports 2-state solution for the first time — by Barak Ravid: "The Palestinians have been anxiously waiting for Trump to say this. In the 20 months since he assumed office, Trump refrained from supporting the two state solution even though presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all supported a Palestinian state... It will be interesting to see if Trump's overture towards Abbas and the Palestinians will be reflected in the Palestinian president's speech." [Axios]
-- Chemi Shalev: Trick or treat, Trump’s endorsement of two-state solution changes reality, because words matter [Haaretz]
Former advisor to seven consecutive Israeli Prime Ministers, Shalom Lipner emails us... "It's hard to believe that Trump has suddenly become enamored with the two state program. The more plausible scenario is that someone with the President's ear proposed that he drop the phrase into his comments as a decoy to deflect some of the heat surrounding his administration's Middle East diplomacy. His later clarification echoes his words of February 2017 and, to my mind, provides a better barometer of his views. The dealmaker in him just wants any deal that will hold, i.e. that the parties will embrace, but it's almost impossible to see that happening anytime soon."
ZOA's Mort Klein, who strongly praised Trump "superb" UN speech, tells us... "With Trump's record of being the greatest pro-Israel ever, and his support for Israel aggressively defending itself, I am sure that the only way Trump would promote a Palestinian state would be if it were demilitarized, accepted Israel as a Jewish state, ended and rescinded the naming of schools, streets and sports teams after Jew killers, stopped paying Arabs to murder Jews, stopped promoting violence and hatred of Jews in their schools, media and speeches, and guaranteeing regular elections, ending Abbas' dictatorship. Therefore, the odds of Trump establishing a legitimate, human-rights-loving and a democratic Palestinian state is zero. So I am not worried about this statement."
BIBI'S TAKE — "In a briefing to Israeli reporters after the meeting with Trump, Netanyahu said he was not caught by surprise by Trump's statement... Netanyahu said Jared Kushner... told the President during the meeting that different players have different interpretations of the term "Palestinian state." Netanyahu said he reiterated Kushner's remark and told Trump that the question will be whether the Palestinian state will be 'more like Costa Rica or more like Iran.' ... I am sure that every U.S. peace plan will reflect that." [Axios]
"The president of the US is a true friend of Israel," said Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party on Twitter. "However, it must be emphasized that as long as the Jewish Home party is part of Israel's government, there will not be a Palestinian state which would be a disaster for Israel."
LAST NIGHT — Netanyahu met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel [Pic; Video]
VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinian Ambassador to US: 'Trump's remarks contradict his actions': "The Palestinian envoy to the US Husam Zomlot... said that Trump's "statements contradict his actions. His policy is destroying any chance for peace." [Ynet]
ON THE HILL — The House passed legislation yesterday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the late President of Egypt Anwar Sadat recognizing his contributions to peace in the Middle East. The effort was spearheaded by Ezra Friedlander, Shafik Gabr, Isaac Dabah, and Tzili Charney of the Anwar Sadat Congressional Gold Medal Commission. The bill now heads to the president's desk.
The House also passed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act, bipartisan legislation to further combat Hezbollah's access to the international financial system. And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act, bipartisan legislation — introduced by Senators. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) — that mandates sanctions against members of Hamas and Hezbollah responsible for the use of human shields.
TALK OF THE REGION — Is the Israel-Russia honeymoon over? — by Ben Caspit: "Despite the initial assessment that the Russians would absorb the loss of their jet and make do with a public protest, it now looks like Moscow plans to change the rules of the game along Israel's northern front and deny Israel free “access rights” and its almost complete freedom of activity."
"Israel has few illusions about how Trump could change this miserable situation. Netanyahu was not expected to ask Trump to declare war on Putin. Rather, he was going to try to convince the US president to make some gesture to Putin on issues important to Russia, in exchange for Putin reducing tensions on the new front that just opened against Israel. It will still take a few days before we know if Trump was receptive to this request, and even more important, if he actually plans to uphold his side of it." [Al-Monitor]
Netanyahu: Trump gave guarantees over Israeli operations in Syria — by Raphael Ahren: "Israel managed to obtain several guarantees from US President Donald Trump regarding its freedom of operation in Syria... “I received what I asked for. I came with specific points and I got them,” [Netanyahu] told reporters in a briefing following his meeting with Trump." [ToI] Iran says Israel will 'regret' further attacks on Syria [Reuters]
Angela Merkel’s Ugly Romance With the Iranian Regime — by Benjamin Weinthal: "The mainstreaming of Iran’s mullah regime by the Merkel administration has moved at an astonishingly fast pace since world powers reached the JCPOA with Tehran in July 2015." [Tablet]
Rich Goldberg writes... "What Trump must do to stop Europe from end-running his Iran sanctions: Some former top officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations are advising Treasury to embrace a “compromise” path where SWIFT does not disconnect Iranian banks in November but, instead, strengthens its monitoring of Iran’s illicit transactions going forward. But the president should see that plan for what it is: a dressed-up version of the status quo and exactly what JCPOA supporters want." [NYPost]
Biden, Boehner and Blair join Jewish group in push to keep strong US ties with NATO and EU: “We rise in defense of the precious alliance of democracies — and its treaties, institutions and norms — that has sustained peace and generated prosperity from the Cold War to the present day,” the statement posted Wednesday by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said... Among those signing on are Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden and Republicans such as former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, and Stephen Hadley... Also signing was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair." [JTA]
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Sessions Aide, a Trump Loyalist, Is Seen as Ascendant Amid Rosenstein Chaos — by Katie Benner and Maggie Haberman: "Matthew G. Whitaker, the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would become the acting No. 2 official at the Justice Department, his White House counterpart, John F. Kelly, told him over the phone on Saturday morning... By late Monday morning, the plan was moot. Mr. Rosenstein was no longer committed to resigning, at least without assurances he was doing so on amicable terms with the president."
"Mr. Trump has privately told aides that he believes that Mr. Rosenstein disparaged him. But in a news conference on Wednesday after attending the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Trump said he might delay a planned meeting with Mr. Rosenstein set for Thursday. He added that his preference was to leave Mr. Rosenstein to “finish” the job overseeing the special counsel investigation." [NYTimes] Trump’s Plan May Be to Save Rosenstein, Push Out Sessions After the Midterms [VanityFair]
MUELLER WATCH — The Trump lawyers you don't see are the ones driving dealings with Robert Mueller — by Gloria Borger, Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz: "One recent summer day, President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani flatly stated that the President would not answer any questions from the special counsel about obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation... At the same time, another pair of key attorneys for the President, Jane and Marty Raskin, were busy trying to coordinate calls with a lawyer on special counsel Robert Mueller's team. They continued to negotiate details of that possible deal for the President to answer questions — including, potentially, about obstruction... The lawyers are close to receiving a round of written questions from Mueller's investigators." [CNN]
Rudy Giuliani Photographed With White Nationalist Mayoral Candidate — by Will Sommer: "Giuliani posed for pictures with a right-wing media personality turned mayoral candidate accused of promoting white nationalism and anti-Semitic literature. The candidate, Faith Goldy, is a far-right YouTuber who is running to be mayor of Toronto... She went to the fatal Charlottesville white supremacist march in August 2017 as a correspondent for right-wing Canadian outlet Rebel Media, but was fired from the site after discussing the event on a show hosted by neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer." [DailyBeast]
HAPPENING TODAY: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, will testify before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee starting at 9:45 am EDT. Kavanaugh is expected to respond to Ford’s claims following her testimony. [CSPAN]
-- Headline: "The Orthodox Jewish Mother, Arrested Ten Times, Who’s Protesting Kavanaugh" [Forward]
MIDTERMS — Wife of Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter donates $1.5 million to Ron DeSantis campaign for Florida Governor [FloridaPolitics]
Cuomo rakes in cash after primary — by Will Bredderman: "Gov. Andrew Cuomo... has raised $436,582 since crushing actress-activist Cynthia Nixon by 30 points on Sept. 13... Of that, $66,600 came from Harrison and James LeFrak, sons of Richard LeFrak and scions of one of the city's most prominent real estate dynasties. The donations from the clan are notable because Cuomo has focused his campaign on opposing President Donald Trump, a close friend of Richard LeFrak... The governor's campaign also got... $30,000 from biographer Susan Hertog, wife of financier Roger Hertog—another Trump ally and donor to right-leaning think tanks." [CrainsNewYork]
Shalom Lipner writes... "Big money donors defecting from GOP raise new tensions over Israel: For the likes of [Leslie] Wexner and [Seth] Klarman – people with stellar credentials as stalwart patrons of Israel – who seek Trump's overthrow, might they conclude that their distaste for Trump can't possibly coexist with their love for Israel? ... The impending U.S. midterms and the prospect of early elections in Israel guarantee that these tensions will not disappear. What remains far from certain though are the fortunes of the U.S.-Israel partnership when its strongest advocates are hell-bent on unseating the person most responsible for it." [TheHill]
Netanyahu backs US envoy’s handling of sexual misconduct claims against aide — by Raphael Ahren: "In his first public statement on the [David Keyes] matter, Netanyahu told reporters: “I’m sure Ambassador Dermer acted entirely properly and appropriately.” He noted that “the matter is currently being probed by the Civil Service Commission, and we will let the investigation take its course.” [ToI]
** Good Thursday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Noble Energy, Israeli Tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva Buying 39% Stake in Egyptian Gas Pipeline Company [Haaretz] Acquisition Streak May Hamper Attempts to Upscale the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange [CTech] Delay approved for Kushner group's Journal Square tower project [JerseyJournal] Roman Abramovich Reportedly Denied Swiss Residency [Haaretz; ESPN] Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker: How to Create the Workforce of the Future [Fortune]
STARTUP NATION — Former Israeli PM Barak to chair medical marijuana company: "Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has been appointed chairman of an Israeli medical marijuana company.... InterCure says Barak will lead its global growth strategy. In a statement, it said Barak's "stature" will be helpful for the company's development. The company, which is publicly traded in Israel, intends to change its name to Canndoc Pharma." [ABCNews]
Scooter-Rental Startup Lime Is Expanding in Israel, Vienna — by Nate Lanxon: "Lime, most recently valued at $1.1 billion, plans to release its scooters onto the streets of “at least one, but most likely two cities,” in Israel within the next 30 days, said Caen Contee, vice president of international expansion for the San Mateo, California-based startup. Contee said the company has been “in conversations” with local mayors and other officials in Israel for about three months to define a cooperative way to enter the market." [Bloomberg]
WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook And Why He Left $850 Million Behind — by Parmy Olson: "Mark Zuckerberg first reached out to [Jan] Koum over email in April 2012, leading to lunch at Esther’s German Bakery in Los Altos. Koum showed the email to Acton, who encouraged him to go. “We weren’t shopping our company,” Acton remembers today. “We had no exit planned.” But two things sparked Zuckerberg’s mega-offer in early 2014. One was hearing that WhatsApp’s founders had been invited to Google’s Mountain View headquarters for talks, and he did not want to lose them to a competitor. Another was a document analyzing WhatsApp’s valuation, written by Morgan Stanley’s Michael Grimes, that someone had shown to the deal teams at Facebook and at Google."
"In August 2018, when Forbes sat down with Acton, another source said Koum was sailing on a yacht in the Mediterranean, far away from everything." [Forbes]
CAA's Michael Ovitz Writes His Memoir — And Re-Writes Hollywood History — by James Andrew Miller: "The author of an oral history of the storied talent agency reviews its co-founder's new memoir, 'Who Is Michael Ovitz?,' and his recollection (and revisionist retelling) of Michael Eisner feuds, Ron Meyer's gambling and more: "It's like he wants to get to heaven but doesn't want to die." ... It’s good, candid stuff, but unfortunately for the reader, Ovitz’s goal with the book to emerge as respected and liked gets in the way of him being totally transparent about how he acted to get there. He rarely showcases the raw, unforgiving and, yes, brutal way he sometimes thought about and acted toward others. It’s like he wants to get to heaven but doesn’t want to die." [HollywoodReporter]
MEDIA WATCH — Website Revs Up, With New York Magazine’s Help, to Cover More Local News — by Jaclyn Peiser: "Ben Smith, the editor of BuzzFeed News, will be the chairman of The City’s board of directors... “Journalism is a utility like water in a city — the place will fall apart without it,” Mr. Smith said in explaining why sites like The City were important. “I don’t think anyone imagines that The Village Voice fell apart because they ran out of bad landlords for them to cover.” [NYTimes]
TRANSITION — Ira Forman, former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, has joined Human Rights First as a senior advisor for combating anti-Semitism.
TALK OF OUR NATION — Seeing Ally Against Muslims, Some German Jews Embrace Far Right, to Dismay of Others — by Melissa Eddy: "The move among members of the group, the Jewish Alternative for Germany, comes amid a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the country... “The AfD is the only party in Germany that focuses on Muslims’ hatred for Jews, without playing it down,” Dimitri Schulz, who is Jewish and joined the organization in 2014, said in a policy statement defining the new group’s purpose... “We disagree with the notion of a few Jews that it could be in the interest of Jewish people to join the AfD in order to have an influence on their politics,” read a blistering editorial in Jalta, a magazine covering Jewish life in Germany." [NYTimes]
-- Heard on NPR's Morning Edition: Digging Up Lithuania's Jewish History [NPR]
DESSERT — Downtown Detroit's new Fort Street Galley food hall reveals its vendors — by Mark Kurlyandchik: "Allenby is named in honor of a street in Tel Aviv where Goldberg ate one of the best pita sandwiches of his life during a formative 10-day trip to Israel. "I wanted to do that quality of sandwich because the food was amazing there," he said." [DetroitFreePress]
BIRTHDAYS: Investor and pioneer in the commercial real estate industry, Sam Zell (born Shmuel Zielonka) turns 77... Co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank turns 76... State Treasurer of Ohio, Josh Mandel turns 41... Physicist and emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, Fred Singer turns 94... Director of the IDF's Military Intelligence Directorate (1979-1983), member of Knesset (1988-1992) and later served as Israel's ambassador to the Philippines, Major General (retired) Yehoshua Sagi turns 85... Antitrust and business litigator at the Locke Lord law firm, Stephen J. Landes turns 73... Ellen Sandler turns 69... President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (2004-2017), Jeffrey M. Lacker turns 63... Award-winning journalist at the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Fortune Magazine and the Washington Post, now President of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers Public Relations, Jeffrey H. Birnbaum turns 62...
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, he was first elected in 2002 and every two years since, he is married to a Minneapolis rabbi, Marcia Zimmerman, Frank Hornstein turns 59... Comedian and author, frequent guest on both Letterman and Conan O'Brien, Marc Maron turns 55... Member of the House of Representatives since 2005, Chairperson of the DNC from 2011 until the summer of 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz turns 52... Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at Dallas Jewish Monthly, Judy Tashbook-Safern turns 52... Rabbi and kabbalist with ties to many leading businessmen and political figures in both Israel and the US, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto turns 45... Architect, entrepreneur and author, Marc Kushner turns 41... Consultant at Deloitte, she was previously a Hebrew teacher and coordinator of Jewish programs at Zeta Beta Tau, Alexa Wertman Brown turns 28...
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