Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: November 7, 2017

Interview with Danny Danon | The Mooch going to Israel | Natalie Portman awarded Genesis Prize | Tel Aviv, 'Vegan capital of the world'

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FILE PHOTO: New White house Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, 'The Mooch'(R) in Washington, U.S. July 21, 2017
FILE PHOTO: New White house Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, 'The Mooch'(R) in Washington, U.S. July 21, 2017Credit: Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

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TOP TALKER: “Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies: The film executive hired private investigators, including ex-Mossad agents, to track actresses and journalists” by Ronan Farrow: “In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein... began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations... The firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature. Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her..."

"'Last fall, Weinstein began mentioning Black Cube by name in conversations with his associates and attorneys. The agency had made a name for itself digging up information for companies in Israel, Europe, and the U.S. that led to successful legal judgments against business rivals. But the firm has also faced legal questions about its employees’ use of fake identities and other tactics... One [contract]. dated July 11, 2017... states that the project’s “primary objectives” are to “provide intelligence which will help the Client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper” and to “obtain additional content of a book which currently being written and includes harmful negative information on and about the Client,” who is identified as Weinstein in multiple documents. (In one e-mail, a Black Cube executive asks lawyers retained by the agency to refer to Weinstein as “the end client” or “Mr. X,” noting that referring to him by name “will make him extremely angry.”)." [NewYorker

KAFE KNESSET -- The Submarine Affair -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: After two days of guessing and hinting as to whom the Police detained in their investigation of the Submarine Affair, the court-imposed gag order expired this morning. The headlines broke the news revealing the identity of the last Netanyahu confidant to visit the Police investigation rooms: Isaac Molcho. Molcho was arrested on Sunday and has been questioned for over 20 hours, two days in a row, on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust as part of the File 3000, a/k/a the Submarine Affair.

The Molcho interrogation occurred while his partner, lawyer David Shimron, was questioned in a separate room. Shimron represented the German shipyard ThyssenKrupp's representative in Israel. According to media reports, Molcho claimed he had no connection to the affair whatsoever, but his addition to the long list of Netanyahu associates involved in various criminal affairs is notable, and also sheds light on his decision to retire from his job as Bibi's special envoy, just last week. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

INTRIGUE: "Why is the head of the OU Kashrut department in Qatar?" by Yair Ettinger: "A small group of Jewish leaders is currently visiting the Gulf state... The senior rabbinic figure on the delegation is Menachem Genack... head of the Orthodox Union’s (OU) Kashrut Division. The trip was organized by Nick Muzin, a prominent Jewish Republican operative who is on retainer by the Persian Gulf nation to establish ties with the American Jewish community. The group is scheduled to meet with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Allen Fagin, the OU’s Executive Vice President, said that Genack’s visit was private and was not connected to his work with the Jewish organization." [JPost

JI INTERVIEW -- Danny Danon, Israel's Ambassador to the UN -- by Jacob Kornbluh: So has the UN job tamed the once Likud hardliner? “Absolutely,” Danon tells Jewish Insider in an interview at his 2nd Avenue office. “I understand world diplomacy much better because that is what I do all day. You deal with global issues all day long, so your understanding is much better, but I didn't change my values..." Contrasting the Obama administration and the Trump administration, Danon said, “I was sitting in the Security Council when the U.S. allowed the shameful resolution to pass in last December. It was a low moment between Israel and the US that the U.S. actually pushed for that resolution to pass. And today we have a great friend, Ambassador Haley, who stands with Israel." 

While in the U.S., Danon meets quite regularly with American Jewish business leaders and donors, but insists that he is not following Bibi's model of using the position to develop personal alliances since he has already served as a Knesset Member and in the cabinet. “I know the Jewish community from before and I'm also a little bit older than the Prime Minister when he was in this position,” Danon explained. “I had connections with donors in the past. And actually, to be frank, we met on more occasions when I was in Israel. I'm in New York now. I don't get to travel a lot outside of New York." 

Lightning Round: Favorite activity in private time? “I enjoy walking in Central Park on Shabbat, when it's not too cold. I like to walk fast. I can allow myself to jog a little bit.” Favorite Broadway play? “I would say Fiddler on the Roof was the most exciting one I saw.” Favorite New York dish? “Deli sandwiches. You don't get them in Israel." Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) discussed the need for bipartisanship on Israel even in the age of Trump during a panel at the final session of the IAC conference: "I can't think of anything more important than making sure that support for Israel continues to be a bipartisan objective because Israel has one friend in the world and Israel will be in much worse shape if Israel has only one half of one friend in the world. There is a Trump derangement syndrome [within the Democratic Party] - that whenever Trump says anything we have to be the opposite... We have to make sure that America is pro-Israel regardless of who is in Congress and who is in the White House and resist the Trump derangement syndrome." 

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC): "We have a new president with Donald Trump whose first focus is not on some type of vague peace process. His focus is to establish and maintain a strong relationship with the State of Israel, and it's so refreshing that instead of focusing on something that can't even be identified, that we have a president who has made it clear that he wants to work with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu... Hey, President Trump is for Israel, and he wants to reverse the tragic lack of veto that occurred last December." 

Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer: Trump's speech addressing the Iran nuclear deal "was the second best day since I have been ambassador." 

Dermer on the peace process: “I’m more optimistic now because I see a change in the region. The Arab governments are in a different place than they were five years ago, certainly ten years or 15 years ago, because they see our interests as being aligned with theirs Many things are happening underneath the surface, many remarkable things.”

"Egypt's al-Sisi says Israelis 'can be convinced of peace'" by Roi Kais: “We are trying, together with all sides who can contribute their part to this issue. The United States is the main world power that can steer the peace process toward a better future,” the Egyptian president said during the interview with the Arabic London-based [Asharq Al-Awsat] newspaper... “We, the Arabs, can convince public opinion in Israel of the advantages of peace...  The region is in need of peace because its absence has cost the region a high price and is draining its energy.” [Ynet]

"As Trump Goes, So Goes Netanyahu: Why is a master political survivor like the Israeli prime minister mimicking the moves of the rookie U.S. president?" by Daniel Gordis: "Netanyahu has clearly noted that Trump’s tactics are working... Trump’s unpredictability is also an enormous challenge for Netanyahu as he seeks to protect Israel in a turbulent region that the president clearly does not understand. It seems that the prime minister has opted for fawning as a protection against any future dustup with the American president. It is clever, and in the short run, it may work for Israel. But the dangers of this strategy are far-reaching. Trump’s attacks on the press, the judiciary and even America’s culture of civility will do damage, but that can be undone by the leaders who will follow. Israel’s democracy, however, is not two-and-a-half centuries old; it is less than 70." [BloombergView]

DRIVING THE CONVO: "‘Game of Thrones’ Comes to Saudi Arabia" by Elliott Abrams: "Crown Prince Mohammed has spoken of a more modern Saudi Arabia, at least when it comes to the role of religion and the rights of women... But political liberalization is not in the cards... Few were in doubt about Crown Prince Mohammed’s ambition. Now there will be equal certainty about his determination. Those who think he’s going to fail, or hope he does, are on notice. This modernizer thinks the path forward is an absolute monarchy. Get out of his way." [NYTimes]

"Is Saudi Arabia Pushing Israel Into War With Hezbollah and Iran?" by Daniel B. Shapiro: "With Assad clearly having survived the challenge posed by Saudi-backed rebels, the Saudi leadership may hope to move its confrontation with Iran from Syria to Lebanon. By pulling Hariri out of his office, they may hope to ensure that Hezbollah gets stuck with the blame and responsibility for Lebanon’s challenges... That could, the Saudis may believe, lead Hezbollah to seek an accelerated confrontation with Israel as a means of unifying Lebanese support for their dominance." [Haaretz]

REPORT -- Israel aligns with Saudis against Iran in Lebanon: "According to Channel 10, following Hariri's resignation, Israel's Foreign Ministry sent a message to all Israeli embassies around the world, instructing them to appeal to the highest political echelons in their host countries, asking that the nations of the world oppose the interference in Lebanon's internal politics by the Hezbollah terrorist organization. The directive is unusual as it involves the internal politics of another country... The Foreign Ministry also asked Israel's ambassadors to convey an unusual message of support for Saudi Arabia in light of the war it is engaged in against Iranian proxies in Yemen." [INN; TwitterIran's foreign minister blames Jared Kushner for fueling Middle East turmoil [BI]

THE MOOCH GOES TO ISRAEL -- OJC Announces Executive VIP Tour of Israel with Wall Street Mogul Anthony Scaramucci: "The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce... has announced that it will host a trip to Israel on Sunday, November 19th through Wednesday, November 22nd. Former WH comms director Anthony Scaramucci will be a guest on the trip... “Our excitement to partner with Anthony Scaramucci in this quest knows no bounds,” says Duvi Honig, Founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce." [JewishPress]

** Good Tuesday 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: Activist William Ackman Loses Bid for ADP Board Seats [WSJBusinessInsider]  Signature Bank's Scott Shay: What You Should Know Before Joining a Board [Entrepreneur] Jon Steinberg's Cheddar and WeWork form remote studio partnership [Axios]  Isaac Chetrit shopping Diamond District buildings for $200M [RealDeal]

MEDIA WATCH: "21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of the company to Disney" by David Faber: "21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of the company to Walt Disney Co., leaving behind a media company tightly focused on news and sports, according to people familiar with the situation." [CNBC]  Disney CEO Bob Iger Would Forever Secure His Legacy With Fox Deal [TheStreet]

HOLLYWOOD: "Natalie Portman Honored in Israel With 'Jewish Nobel Prize'" by Josef Federman: "Natalie Portman has been awarded Israel's 2018 Genesis Prize in recognition of her commitment to social causes and deep connection to her Jewish and Israeli roots... The $1 million award, known as "the Jewish Nobel Prize," is granted each year to a person recognized as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through professional achievement and commitment to Jewish values. The Oscar-winning actress said she was "deeply touched and humbled" by the recognition." [AP]

TALK OF THE NATION: "The Quiet Religious-Freedom Fight That Is Remaking America" by Emma Green: "Seventeen years ago, Congress unanimously passed a law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, to prevent cities and towns from using zoning as a weapon against groups that want space to worship. At the time, everyone cheered a rare moment of legislative success. In practice, though, few congregations have the time, knowledge, money, or energy to pursue the legal process set up by RLUIPA, leaving many in a desperate limbo with no place to pray..."

"The congressional testimony on RLUIPA  includes alarming anecdotes about local officials acting with hostility toward religious bodies. One New Jersey lawyer recounted a hearing on an Orthodox Jewish group’s zoning application where an objector stood up, turned to the yarmulke-wearing crowd, and said, “Hitler should have killed more of you.” These cases of outright bias get the most attention from the U.S. Department of Justice, which has the power to enforce RLUIPA." [TheAtlantic]

TRANSITION -- Eric Trager joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s majority staff as the professional staff member covering the Middle East and North Africa. [Twitter]

DESSERT: "What happened to the big Jewish delis in Chicago?" by Louisa Chu: ""I think, in the next couple of years, we're going to start seeing an influx of maybe not-so-traditional Jewish delis," said [Max] Stern. "Places where you can get classic deli sandwiches and some other things. More of a modern 'world' deli instead of just a modern Jewish deli." ... Chicago has never been known as a deli town, but Chicagoland has in fact sustained dozens of neighborhood delis in the city and suburbs for decades. If the new generation of deli owners and diners has its say, we may yet become a "newish" Jewish-style delicatessen destination." [ChicagoTribune]

"This is the vegan capital of the world" by Jasmine Phull: "In Tel Aviv, “there is a real emphasis on freshness of produce,” says vegan restaurant owner Merav Barzilay. Though he founded Meshek Barzilay on an organic farm 15 years ago, he says it was an easy choice to move to the city. Tel Aviv’s proximity to fresh vegetables “means a customer can eat a tomato the same day it was picked in the field.” [Independent]

BIRTHDAYS: Neuropsychiatrist, a 1944 graduate of Yeshiva of Flatbush and 2009 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, Eric Kandel turns 88... United States Senator from Minnesota (1978-1991) and now on the boards of AIPAC and JINSA, Rudy Boschwitz turns 87... Stage, screen and television actor, Barry Newman turns 79... MIT professor in electrical engineering and computer science, Barbara Liskov turns 78... Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2002-2010), the last four years of which he served as Vice Chairman, Donald Kohn turns 75... University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard, expert on Shakespeare and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stephen Greenblatt turns 74... Professor of music at the Norwegian Academy of Music and founding member of jazz ensemble Moscow Art Trio, Mikhail Alperin turns 61... Canadian entrepreneur and CEO of Canadian Arctic luxury apparel company, Canada Goose, Dani Reiss turns 44... 

Senior director of corporate reputation at GE, she was previously a deputy press secretary in the Obama White House (2014-2017), Jennifer B. Friedman turns 37... RN at Johns Hopkins Hospital following multiple media stints, Avi Zenilman turns 33... Campaign reporter at Politico, focused on House and Senate races, she was formerly a news assistant at the New York Times, Elena Schneider turns 27... Toronto-native, he is the founder and CEO of Count Me In, a global youth empowerment organization, Shane Feldman turns 23... Co-Founder and CEO at NYX Technologies, Tomer Aharonovitch... Principal at Foothill Enterprises, Mary Streit...

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