Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: July 13, 2017

Javanka land in Sun Valley amid anti-Trump tone | Greenblatt's water deal | Zuckerberg's road trip rules | Sam Altman's United Slate

JI Staff
Jason Greenblatt Trump's Middle East envoy in Jerusalem, July 13, 2017.
Jason Greenblatt Trump's Middle East envoy in Jerusalem, July 13, 2017.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS
JI Staff

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SUN VALLEY 2017: “Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump to Attend Sun Valley Media and Tech Conference” by Brent Lang: “The pair will pay for their own travel to Sun Valley, Idaho, where the event is held. They will also pay for their accommodations The annual conference is put on by Allen & Co., an investment bank with ties to Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and other industries. Warren Buffett, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, Snap chairman Michael Lynton, Viacom vice chairman Shari Redstone, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, and Discovery CEO David Zaslav are among the bold-faced names who have flocked to the resort.” [Variety] Pics of attendees [DailyMail]

DRIVING THE CONVO: "The big talk this week is the presence of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on the guest list. With kids in tow, the pair left DC amid the email scandal and arrived in Sun Valley on Wednesday afternoon. This has annoyed at least a few folks back at the White House, who chafe at the way Jared and Ivanka leave town in times of crisis. Last April, the pair were spotted in ski gear in Whistler (a JI scoop!) while the president and his aides were embroiled in leaks and infighting. Their trip this week has also raised eyebrows in Sun Valley, where some of the discussions on the first day had a distinctly anti-Trump tone..." [CNN]

HEARD EARLIER -- "Media mogul Barry Diller on Trump: 'I think it's just a joke. Hopefully it will be over relatively soon.'" by Anita Balakrishnan: "He hasn't done anything, really. I think it's just a joke. Hopefully it will be over relatively soon," Diller said. "It inexplicably began and it will inexplicably end." The comment came in a wide-ranging interview with CNBC at the Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference in Idaho. Diller has been friendly with Trump family members Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner over the years, he said, but he added that he probably wouldn't bring up issues from the current administration with them." [CNBC]

"Another session that had people talking was this morning’s session where well-known hedge fund managers Stanley Druckenmiller and Baupost Group’s Seth Klarman told the executives that many people confuse the performance of the stock market with the health of our economy, but that is not necessarily a great indicator. “They gave out a lot of data and investment information about our economy and how to determine growth,” said one attendee. “It was great because they really spoke their minds.” The panel was moderated by The New York Times/CNBC journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin." [Deadline]

Sun Valley session today: King Abdullah II from Jordan will speak one-on-one with talk show host Charlie Rose.

Paging Amb. Dermer... "Amid the barbecues and cycling outings, investors on the guest list, including Warren Buffett, will have the opportunity to mingle with CEOs from America’s biggest companies and dignitaries such as Yousef Al Otaiba, United Arab Emirates ambassador to the U.S." [Bloomberg]

TOP TALKER: “US anti-boycott laws could come into play in Qatar crisis” by Josh Lederman: “Under obscure tax and export provisions designed decades ago to protect Israel, U.S. companies can be punished if they accept a foreign country's demand to comply with a boycott not supported by the United States While President Donald Trump has voiced support for the Saudi-led bloc, the United States isn't backing the Qatar boycott That could put American companies in a difficult position, even if so far there haven't been any public indications of Saudi Arabia or its allies issuing a Qatar-or-us ultimatum. Some groups, sympathetic to the concerns about Qatar, have been pressuring U.S. businesses to cut ties."

"The Counter Extremism Project, which includes former Sen. Joe Lieberman and is run by former U.N. Ambassador Mark Wallace, sent letters to American Airlines and others warning them to stop dealing with Qatar earlier this month Given Trump's position on the crisis, it's unclear if his administration would punish U.S. companies for cutting ties with Qatar.” [AP] Qatar and its opposing quartet: What's next in the standoff? [CNN]

"Iran’s Stature Grows as Rivals Quarrel" by Yaroslav Trofimov: "With regional heavyweight Turkey taking Qatar’s side, the collapse of the Sunni alliance isn’t the only good news for Tehran. The growing alienation between the Trump administration and European nations, particularly Germany and France, is also making any new concerted international effort to pressure Iran increasingly unlikely." [WSJ]

DRIVING THE DAY: "Trump envoy mediates water deal between Israel, Palestinians" by AFP: "Jason Greenblatt hailed an "important step forward" in a wider regional water deal, as Israel announced it would provide more than 32 million cubic metres of water to the Palestinians annually. "Water is a precious commodity in the Middle East. The United States welcomes the agreement reached by the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel which will allow for the sale of up to 33 million cubic metres of water from Israel to the PA," Greenblatt said at a signing ceremony in Jerusalem." [DailyMail]

-- "At a joint press conference in Jerusalem, Greenblatt adamantly refused to take any questions regarding his bid to relaunch peace negotiations." [ToI]

KAFE KNESSET -- Peace talks in the fall -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Kafe Knesset has learned that the POTUS special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, who is on his sixth visit to the region this week, said in some of his meetings that the plan and goal is to renew the process in the fall. Greenblatt has reiterated time and again that Palestinian economic prosperity is high on the US agenda and is crucial for building trust between the sides. He refused to take any questions about the process this morning during a special press conference convened today to announce a new Israeli-Palestinian water agreement, but he did stress that the water agreement is “an example of what can be achieved when the sides work together” and reminded that “President Trump has clarified that promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace is one of his highest priorities.”

At Wednesday's press conference, when Kafe Knesset asked both sides what lessons could be learned from the successful dialogue on water to promote the political process between Netanyahu and Abbas, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi did give “my dear friend Jason” one piece of advice: "The discrete nature of the negotiations and contacts is one of the secrets of our success. It ensures that it is more serious and that we are not dragged into other issues.” Read today's entire Kafe Knesset, including how Bibi's friends are dropping like flies amid the corruption scandals, here [JewishInsider]

In a statement responding to the House Armed Services Committee’s amended National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2018 budget, the White House suggested that an additional $558 million for Israeli missile defense funding was a “misuse” of funds: “Misuse of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Funds: The Administration is concerned by the use of OCO funds for items not related to contingency operations, including an additional $558 million for Israel missile defense funding. The bill also proposes using OCO to fund additional end strength, ships, and homeland defense. Funding these enduring requirements in OCO would complicate the funding stability for associated outyear costs and runs contrary to the purpose of OCO.” [WhiteHouse] Congress plans to debate the NDAA today [CSPAN]

TAYLOR FORCE ACT -- Senators Demand Action on Palestinian Terror Payments -- by Aaron Magid: During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday, Elliott Abrams testified in favor of the Taylor Force Act while former Ambassador Dan Shapiro urged the bill to be amended. One proposal floated by Shapiro was to add a national security waiver — similar with the six-month waiver on moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — that would allow President Donald Trump to waive the requirement of cutting off aid if viewed as appropriate. In response to a suggestion by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) about possibly shifting assistance to non-governmental organizations or peace projects, Abrams expressed skepticism. “If the penalty for spending money on terrorists is well it goes from box one to box two, that’s not much of a penalty. I think Palestinians need to be told: this has got to stop.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “People sense weakness. Cut it all. Cut every last penny of it. Restart it when they (PA) change their behavior.” Paul also suggested that it’s up to Israeli lawmakers to take the first step. “If the Knesset can’t even withhold the tax money what kind of message are we sending?” he asked. “If the Knesset is listening to us, for goodness sake you have got to do at least that first step.”

Ranking Democrat Ben Cardin (D-MD) expressed disappointment that no representative of the Trump administration was present at the hearing to offer the executive branch’s view on this legislation. [JewishInsider]

Noah Pollak, advocating in favor of the Taylor Force Act, emails us... "The hearing showed that a bipartisan consensus exists for addressing the problem of Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists. Having spoken to members and staff we are increasingly confident a strong bill will be approved out of committee with bipartisan support. "

ANOTHER TRUMP WALL? “Trump lawyers want wall between Kushner, president” by Jonathan Swan: “President Trump's outside legal team wants to wall off Jared Kushner from discussing the Russia investigation with his father-in-law Members of Trump's legal team — which is led by longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz, and includes conservative legal firebrand Jay Sekulow — are trying to cloak their startling demand with the two-word message to Kushner: Nothing personal Members of Trump's legal team are frustrated that Kushner has been discussing the investigation with the president, according to the sources.” [Axios]

“With Glare on Trump Children, Political Gets Personal for President” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman: “[Jared] Kushner, colleagues say, has kept up a regular work schedule, meeting on Wednesday with Gary D. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, to discuss the administration’s impending moves on trade. He is also in touch with Jason D. Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s Middle East envoy, who is in Israel for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Colleagues of Mr. Kushner said he had remained focused and upbeat despite the drumbeat of negative headlines — a trait they ascribe to his experience dealing with the legal troubles of his father, Charles Kushner, who was convicted of tax evasion and witness tampering.” [NYTimes]

ICYMI: "‘Jared Kosher’: Fox News Ticker Misidentifies Jared Kushner" [DailyBeast]

COLLISION: “Trump helicopter accident kept under wraps” by Emily Smith: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were initially rumored to have been aboard at the time, but Trump insiders denied they were involved.” [NYPost]

"Democrats clamor for Jared Kushner's security clearance to be revoked" by David Smith, Sabrina Siddiqui, Ben Jacobs and Amanda Holpuch: “Norm Eisen, the former ethics tsar in Barack Obama’s administration, told the Guardian on Wednesday: “Given the nature of the meeting... I think, certainly, the security clearance should be re-evaluated. One must balance the principle of innocent until proven guilty with the less prudential standards that go into giving a security clearance” On Capitol Hill, Democratic senators were happy to talk about Kushner. Connecticut’s Chris Murphy... said: “I don’t know why Jared Kushner still has a job He watched his father-in-law go on TV and say, ‘No one in my campaign talked to the Russian government.’ He knew that was false.” ... New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich... was terse when asked about his role as one of the president’s top advisers. “Then he should act like a senior adviser,” Heinrich said.” [Guardian]

NOAM VS. ALAN -- Norm Eisen tweets with about recent Alan Dershowitz Op-Ed about the need to investigate if meeting with Russian lawyer was illegal: “There is much in this Alan Dershowitz piece that I agree with. Note that he's (slowly!) coming around to possibility crimes were committed.” [Twitter]

Dershowitz: "I'm happy Norm Eisen is slowly coming to my view: we shouldn't rush to yell "lock her/him up" unless clear breach found of existing statute.” [Twitter]

“Photo surfaces of evangelical pastors laying hands on Trump in the Oval Office” by Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “Photos of the gathering were posted by Johnnie Moore, who handles media relations for several pastors and ministries Moore said that many of these leaders are in regular communication with the White House, including with [Jared] Kushner He said many of the leaders there are hoping the White House will appoint someone to become an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, a position that was held by Rabbi David Saperstein until Trump took office.” [WashPost]

2020 WATCH: “Sanders won't take 2020 presidential bid 'off the table'” by Ben Kamisar: "I am not taking it off the table, I just have not made any decisions. And I think it's much too early," [Bernie Sanders] said in an interview set to air Thursday morning with SiriusXM Progress' "Make it Plain with Mark Thompson." "Our job right now is to take on all of [President] Trump’s reactionary proposals ... There's a whole lotta fights that we have to fight. It is just too early to be talking about an election 3 1/2 years from now." [TheHill]

SPOTLIGHT: “Mark Zuckerberg Hits the Road to Meet Regular Folks—With a Few Conditions” by Reid J. Epstein and Deepa Seetharaman: “Mr. Ball said Mr. Zuckerberg’s representatives instructed them not to relay verbatim quotes from their discussions with him if asked by reporters Despite his world-wide fame, Mr. Zuckerberg isn’t always recognized by his surprise hosts. In June, he attended an Iftar dinner in Minneapolis. Mr. Zuckerberg arrived after the prayers and the other people in the room, who were mostly refugees from Somalia, didn’t know who he was, said attendee Mohammed Jama The Zuckerberg entourage, which can be up to eight people, includes a professional photographer. His aides said there is no prohibition against others snapping pictures As Mr. Zuckerberg was leaving, he made one request, Mr. Moore (a Democratic union steelworker who was a volunteer for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign) said. “He said, ‘If there are any news reporters that call you, just make sure you tell them I’m not running for president.’” [WSJ]

"With the United Slate, Sam Altman presents a political vision for California and the U.S." by Jonathan Shieber: "As the country grapples with income inequality, a lack of affordable housing, and a potential labor crisis brought on by technological advancements like artificial intelligence and automation, Y Combinator president Sam Altman is launching a new initiative to try and create political solutions in his home state and potentially the nation. The new initiative, which Altman launched today, is a combination of a political platform and a call for candidates that the 32-year-old tech millionaire can support in their bids for governor, lieutenant governor, and Congress." [TechCrunch]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: David Einhorn’s Hedge Fund Sheds More Than $400 Million in Investor Outflows [WSJ] Hedge fund titan Paul Singer scores big win after NRG Energy surges 25% in single day [CNBC] AstraZeneca's CEO Soriot to join Israeli drugs company Teva: report [Reuters] Kushner’s Co. rushin’ to sell two buildings in Brooklyn Heights [NYPost] Robert Kraft, Fred Wilpon among six owners to buy into new esports venture Overwatch League [ESPN] Mystery of Bob Iger’s Sun Valley absence solved [NYPost] WeWork has a new COO, Jen Berrent [TechCrunch] New Lloyd, Same Goldman: The CEO survived the financial crisis and then cancer. Now he’s pushing a bold commitment to trading that’s out of favor in the industry. [Businessweek]

“Hungary to take down controversial Soros posters” by Lili Bayer: “Hungary’s government will take down controversial posters featuring U.S. financier George Soros, Hungarian online news portal Index reported Wednesday... In its justification for ending the campaign, the government said it had originally planned for the campaign to end on July 15.” [Politico]

WATCH -- Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon tells Christiane Amanpour Netanyahu should condemn Hungary: “We have to distinguish. On the Hungarian case, the ambassador was very right (in criticizing the government). What is going on in Israel with the money of George Soros actually delegitimizing the state of Israel as a Jewish state is a different story You know, when it comes to anti-Semitism, we should be on a very clear side to defend Jewish people, including George Soros.” [CNN]

“Israel Seeking Saudi Flight Agreement to Bring Pilgrims to Mecca” by Jonathan Ferziger and Yaacov Benmeleh: “Israel is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to allow it to send special Hajj pilgrimage flights to Mecca “Reality has changed,” Kara said in an interview this week at his office in Jerusalem. “This is a good time to make the request, and I’m working hard on it.” Kara said he’s spoken to government officials in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries about the Hajj plan and they’re “ready to do it, but it’s very sensitive and it’s still a matter of negotiation.” [Bloomberg]

Bipartisan Letter Demands Answers on Bob Levinson -- by Aaron Magid: Nearly two dozen lawmakers led by Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) published a letter to President Donald Trump imploring the White House to increase diplomatic efforts to secure the release of U.S. citizen Bob Levinson detained in Iran for ten years. “We request that you reengage with Tehran and make it clear that continued delay in returning Bob is another obstacle Iran must overcome if it wants to improve relations with the United States,” they wrote. Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, declined to respond to Jewish Insider’s request for comment on the White House’s efforts to secure Levinson’s release or his current medical condition in Iran. [JewishInsider]

“Alan Gross, after spending 5 years in a Cuban prison, is starting over in Israel” by Ron Kampeas: “Gross, 68, wanted to tell me his news: He and his wife, Judy, had made aliyah “It came through on May 3, which is Golda Meir’s birthday, and a day after my birthday, which is also Herzl’s birthday,” he said. “It was long overdue. I’d been going there for more than 40 years, and I’d worked in Israel and around the region.” As a contractor who worked in development, Gross was especially busy in Israel and the Palestinian areas working on joint Israeli-Palestinian development after the launch of the Oslo peace talks in 1993. “I was in Israel probably 60 times before I made aliyah,” he said. Alan and Judy Gross live in Tel Aviv Gross could not pinpoint a time he started thinking about making aliyah. “I can’t say Cuba had anything to do with it,” he said. “I don’t think my Jewish background had anything to do with my treatment.”” [JTA]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Accusations and Rancor as Elite School’s Leader Departs” by Kate Taylor: “The dispute comes down to a meeting between them on Oct. 20 During the meeting [Jessica] Bagby mentioned that two parents had contacted her with concerns about the Conversations About Race program. She then asked [George] Burns, “You know what the problem here is?” When he asked what it was, he wrote, she said apparently referring to the parents who had complained, “It’s the Zionists — the Jews.” Mr. Burns wrote that he was stunned and told her that there were plenty of Jewish families who supported the program and families of different backgrounds who opposed it. Mr. Burns said she then made an additional comment about “this group of Jewish parents” who were complaining about the program.” [NYTimes]

"Sheldon Silver’s 2015 Corruption Conviction Is Overturned" by Benjamin Weiser: "In vacating Mr. Silver’s conviction, the appellate court cited a United States Supreme Court ruling last year involving Bob McDonnell, a former Republican governor of Virginia, that narrowed the definition of the kind of official conduct that can serve as the basis of a corruption prosecution. Prosecutors may retry Mr. Silver, a 73-year-old Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who served for more than two decades as Assembly speaker." [NYT]

"H.L. Mencken's Cultured Pearl to return for candidate's campaign launch" by Sarah Meehan: "The smell of red onions sauteing over a gas stove wafted through Nate Loewentheil’s house on Patterson Park as he and his father, Stephan Loewentheil, prepared a second batch of “Marvelous Marty's Mexican Chili” on Monday morning... Loewentheil, 31, is running for a spot representing Maryland’s 46th District in the state House of Delegates during next year’s midterm elections. He most recently served as a special assistant to President Barack Obama and a senior policy adviser at the National Economic Council, where he led the White House task force on Baltimore. He holds both a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Yale University." [BaltimoreSun]

BIRTHDAYS: Teacher for 27 years in the Los Angeles United School District (1964-1991), president of the San Fernando Valley Council of NA'AMAT USA, Zita Gluskin turns 91... Scottsdale, Arizona resident, Howie K. Kipnes turns 78... One of the highest box-office grossing actors ever, his maternal grandmother was Anna Lifschutz, a Jewish immigrant from Minsk, he is best known as the title character in the Indiana Jones film series, Harrison Ford turns 75... Radio and television talk show host, co-host of "Pardon the Interruption" on ESPN since 2001 with Michael Wilbon, former sportswriter and columnist for The Washington Post, Anthony Irwin "Tony" Kornheiser turns 69... Director of governmental and regulatory affairs for Calpine Corporation's East Region (Calpine is an operator of 83 electric power plants), Stuart Widom turns 60... Manager of institutional affairs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Jennifer Rebecca Goodman Lilintahl turns 37... Co-founder and COO of Bubby, a tech enabled yenta-like matchmaking app, previously an official at AIPAC and AJC Global, Sarah Persitz turns 32... Co-founder and president at Time Flash, a digital time capsule service, Jared Kash turns 24... Founding Partner and CEO of Trinnacle Capital Management, Eric Kohlmann Kupper... Louis Panzer...

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