Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: September 27, 2017

Corker's retirement sets up potential race between two Jewish candidates | David Frum on Trump and Israel | Randi Zuckerberg's mission

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In this May 10, 2017 file photo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill
In this May 10, 2017 file photo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks to reporters on Capitol HillCredit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
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DRIVING THE DAY: "Jamie McCourt, Trump's nominee to serve as envoy to France, has deep ties to Baltimore" by John Fritze: "Jamie McCourt — a former co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers whose father founded the Baltimore-based appliance and electronics chain Luskin's — will appear Wednesday before a Senate committee considering her nomination to one of the most plum assignments in the U.S. diplomatic corps: Ambassador to France... McCourt told the Jewish Journal in a 2009 interview that she grew up in a non-religious Jewish household that was “ardently Zionist.” She described herself as “a proud supporter of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community” on the website of her investment firm, Jamie Enterprises."

"In that sense, McCourt’s foreign policy perspective appears to be aligned with the pro-Israel rhetoric Trump espoused on the campaign trail. His administration has so far taken a more traditional U.S. approach to Israel and its Middle East neighbors. “I’ve always had an attraction to Israel,” McCourt told an English-language news website in Israel last year. “I feel that the personality of Israel suits my personality. It’s the non-sleeping, action at all times, work hard, play hard, love life and you only get one shot at it.”" [BaltimoreSun]

HEARD LAST NIGHT -- David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, at a community conversation discussion, on the challenges of Trump's America at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, hosted by the Jewish Journal: "What I would say to anyone who's supported Donald Trump because he is good for Israel... He has betrayed every creditor he's ever had, he betrayed every employee he's ever had, and he's betrayed every wife he's ever had. Why are you so special? So if you're concerned with a robust Israel, Donald Trump is not good for Israel, even if at any given moment -- just because he's so absent -- he's less intrusive and irritated to some Israeli leaders than Barack Obama was." [Video]

TOP TALKER: “Corker to retire after 2018” by Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan: “Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker will retire from the Senate after two terms Corker's open seat will give Democrats some hope of an upset win, which could potentially be a majority-maker in the narrowly divided Senate. James Mackler, a young lawyer and Army veteran, is already in the contest Rep. David Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney who took over Fincher’s seat in Western Tennessee after 2016, could also consider a bid.” [Politico; Tennessean]

REACTION -- Congressman David Kustoff (R-TN): "For more than 20 years, Bob Corker has been a strong voice for Tennesseans at the local, state and federal level. His current chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee is evidence of the great respect he earned from his colleagues in the Senate. I am thankful for his friendship and passion for public service.”

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) tells us... “Senator Corker has been easy to work with, and we have developed an excellent relationship since beginning our careers in Congress in 2006. Bob is highly respected for his knowledge of the issues, especially foreign policy. He has exhibited moments of independence reminiscent of past great Tennessee Senators. I have enjoyed his friendship and collegiality since serving together in Tennessee State government, and I will miss serving with him in Congress.”

RJC National Chairman and former Senator Norm Coleman: Corker’s “thoughtful, integrate leadership will be missed. Those of us committed to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship will lose a champion who could get things done, most recently garnering bipartisan support for the Taylor Force Act in the Foreign Relations Committee and on the floor of the Senate. He achieved similar success just last month in targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and its Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) with tougher sanctions. I’ve known Bob Corker since his days as mayor of Chattanooga. Having been a mayor myself, I understood his relentless focus on results, not rhetoric. He may have Senator in front of his name, but I bet he had ‘Mayor’ stitched in his underwear. In these times of bitter, partisan divide, Bob Corker’s thoughtful, principled approach will be sorely missed.”

FYI: James Mackler, the first candidate to announce he is entering the Tennessee’s Democratic primary ahead of the 2018 elections, is married to Rabbi Shana Goldstein Mackler of The Temple Congregation Ohabei Sholom in Nashville. [Forward]

“Corker’s departure will hit foreign relations the hardest” by Karoun Demirjian: “The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker (R-Tenn.) has earned accolades as one of the body’s most committed champions of bipartisanship Corker has been the GOP’s top foreign policy voice for the entirety of the debate over the Iran deal. He linked arms with Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) early on to codify a unique opportunity for Congress to reject the multilateral nuclear pact with Tehran. Though Corker opposed the deal vehemently, he stuck to the terms of the deal that was struck, effectively presiding, in 2015, over its preservation. Next month, it will be up to Corker to again steer the Iran deal — or not — through its next challenge, should the president refuse to certify that Tehran is in compliance with that nuclear deal.” [WashPost]

"Is Trump about to reveal his Mideast peace plan?" by Shlomi Eldar: "The Palestinian source believes that when Netanyahu understood that Trump meant business, he convened his ministers to prepare for what he foresees as a diplomatic offensive that must be foiled... “Netanyahu surely knows much more than he’s letting on to his ministers,” the Palestinian official told Al-Monitor. He added that... the principles are already known and clear to both Abbas and Netanyahu. “That’s why [Netanyahu is] worried,” said the official. “So far there has not been a public declaration [about two states],” the source said. “But we know the American plan will result in Palestinian independence, in a state within the 1967 borders."" [Al-Monitor]

KAFE KNESSET -- Israel versus Palestinians 0-1 -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: The Israeli diplomatic efforts against the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to gain international recognition suffered a severe blow this morning in Beijing. Interpol’s General Assembly, meeting in Beijing, voted in favor of accepting the Palestinian application to join the agency. Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin called to immediately cancel all economic gestures for the Palestinians approved by Israel in the past two years and revoke all VIP entry permits given to senior Palesetinian officials. “Israel cannot stand by and keep silent faced with a Palestinian diplomatic war. The PA should not benefit from Israel’s economic gestures while they wage a battle and incite against us here and around the world.” On the other hand, Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni said it was a “bad decision” but accused the government of creating a “vacuum in the political arena.” Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

SCENE LAST NIGHT -- Tel Aviv Edition: It was a crowded A-List turnout of many of Israel’s top analysts and journalists last night at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. The gathering was to bid farewell to Yael Feldboy, the Embassy’s press officer who is retiring after working with twelve US Ambassadors. Feldboy’s tenure includes Samuel Lewis (who started in 1977) until the current Ambassador, David Friedman. Feldboy witnessed almost four decades of highs and lows including countless diplomatic debacles and successes in the US-Israel alliance.

Feldboy’s former boss, Ambassador Dan Shapiro, made a toast, (while the incumbent Ambassador David Friedman’s absence was widely noted in cocktail whispers), followed by veteran journalist Udi Segal who recalled press conferences with Colin Powell. Senior members of the embassy staff paid tribute to Feldboy’s career. All of the top media Who’s Who were spotted mingling – including Yonit Levi, Nahum Barnea, Aluf Ben, Chemi Shalev, Ben Caspit, Barak Ravid, Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom’s Boaz Bismuth, Amos Regev, Ilil Shachar, Tal Schneider, former IDF spokesperson Avi Beneyahu and former Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Igal Palmor. [KafeKnesset]

ON THE HILL -- Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan discussed the Trump administration’s Mideast peace push during a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday. In response to a question posed by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Sullivan said, “The President himself is personally committed to this process, as other Presidents have been. I think the commitment of this Administration is clear to the peace process I would say that Secretary Tillerson, though, has been involved as well – he was with President Trump when the President visited Israel in June.”

Sullivan on Bob Levinson: “The Levinson case is a priority for this Administration as are all the other American hostages held worldwide. Just as a note, I have met and spoken with the Levinson family on multiple occasions. I have a picture on my desk of Bob Levinson, which reminds me every day that he’s our longest held hostage in Iran This Administration has no higher priority than bringing home all of those Americans, including Mr. Levinson. You have my word on that.” [Video]

Rep. Lamborn presented with report indicting UNRWA textbooks -- by Aaron Magid: Officials from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Middle East Forum presented a new report to Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) yesterday blasting UNRWA for allegedly including calls for incitement and violence against Israelis in its curriculum. The researchers, Dr. Arnon Groiss and Jonathan Halevi, will also be meeting with the staff of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York today. “UNRWA needs to be held accountable for allowing these horrible teachings to exist in the Palestinian school books. They should know better than to let incitement to hatred and violence be taught to young kids,” Lamborn explained after meeting with the researchers. [JewishInsider]

IRAN DEAL: “Trump’s Top General Says Iran Honoring Nuke Deal” by Paul Mcleary: “The briefings I have received indicate that Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations,” Gen. Joseph Dunford wrote in answers to questions in advance of his hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee “It makes sense to me that our holding up agreements that we have signed, unless there’s a material breach, would have an impact on others’ willingness to sign agreements,” Dunford said It would be better for Washington to “focus on leveraging our partners that were part of that agreement to deal with the other challenges that we know Iran poses,” Dunford said.” [FP]

"Trump’s plan to stop Iran in Syria is MIA" by Josh Rogin: "Privately, current and former administration officials admit that there is little prospect of evicting Iran and Assad from the large parts of southeast Syria... The plan to prevent Iran from solidifying a Shiite crescent of control from Tehran to the Mediterranean rests on stopping Iran on the Iraqi side of their border with Syria, which will also be far from easy, officials admit... State Department officials continue to point to the political process as the means for preventing Iran from exerting control over large parts of Syria in perpetuity. They argue that after the fighting stops, Assad and Iran will have to come back to the negotiating table to get the international aid spigot turned on." [WashPost]

“Trump Wants To End The Iran Nuclear Deal, But That Could Revive A Bitter Cyberwar” by Kevin Collier: “Now, as President Donald Trump threatens to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal — and unspoken cyber truce — there are fears the war might reignite. It could be costly. The last known time that Iranian hackers significantly damaged an American target, in 2014, it cost American gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson millions. Adelson, a friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a major Republican donor, had been highly critical of the Obama administration's attempts to negotiate an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program. Then, on Oct. 22, 2013, at Yeshiva University in New York City, he went a step further, suggesting that instead of talking, the US should bomb the Iranian desert. If that wasn't enough to bring the Iranians to heel, he said, then the US should nuke Iran's capital. The Iranians fired back, but quietly. Within a month, Iranian hackers were probing the systems of Adelson's Las Vegas Sands casino, and by Feb. 9, 2014, they'd acquired the login credentials of a senior computer systems engineer. The next day, thousands of computers on Sands networks were wiped clean of files.” [BuzzFeed]

“The GOP can't quit Obamacare repeal because of their donors” by Andrew Prokop: “This pressure seems to be able to move votes. One moderate senator, Dean Heller (R-NV), conspicuously switched from being a public critic of repeal efforts to a strong supporter of Graham-Cassidy. That came after he reportedly got an earful from Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, two billionaire GOP donors in his state.” [Vox]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: "Trump’s Le Cirque Fundraiser Pulls in $5 Million for Republicans" by Zachary Mider and Margaret Talev: "Casino mogul Steve Wynn... [was] seen entering the closed-door event, as was Florida lobbyist and fundraiser Brian Ballard... Trump wasn’t the only draw. Gary Cohn, his top economic adviser and the former president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., spoke at the fundraiser, according to guest Bob Wright... According to Wright, Trump praised Cohn, who said last month the administration must do a better job of condemning neo-Nazis." [Bloomberg]

Ken Vogel: “SPOTTED at Trump funder tonight: Marc Kasowitz, lawyer who got booted from Trump legal team after emailing critic: "Watch your back, bitch."” [Twitter]

"Another Top Administration Official Resigns After Criticizing Trump" by Tina Nguyen: "Chuck Rosenberg’s exit comes weeks after he accused the president of having “condoned police misconduct.” [VanityFair]

ALABAMA ELECTION: In a closely watched Senate race yesterday, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, defeated the establishment Republican candidate, Luther Strange, in a special primary runoff for Jeff Sessions' seat. Moore was backed by ousted White House aides Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. On the positions page of his website, Moore emphasizes, "We must remember that Israel is the United States' most important ally and partner in the Middle East and should reject agreements or policies that undermine Israel's security. We should pass the Taylor Force Act and move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem."

Flashback: "When Alabama Compares Gay Marriage to the Holocaust" by Larisa Thomason: "If you’d even consider asking “What’s the difference?” between Nazi Germany’s systematic murder of six million Jews and legal gay marriage, consider running for a seat on Alabama’s State Supreme Court. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore made just that comparison on June 29. “Could I do this if I were in Nuremberg say that I was following the orders of the highest authority to kill Jews? Could I say I was ordered to do so?” The shocked interviewer reminded Moore that the Nuremberg trials had been about murder, not gay marriage. “Is there a difference?” he asked." [Forward]

CONSENSUS VIEW: Roy Moore’s victory and Bob Corker’s retirement are fresh indicators of a Senate that’s coming apart [WashPost]

** Good Wednesday 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: Mark Cuban lent the Mavericks team plane to a Puerto Rican player to bring relief supplies to his home country [BI] Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood invests $250M in Yotel [RealDeal] Kushners resurrect plans for Journal Square towers [JerseyJournal] Regulator asks Israeli lenders to redefine foreign banking strategy [ToI] NSW and Israel announce R&D innovation program [ZDNet]

STARTUP NATION: "Playbuzz raised $35 million for its platform that aims to help publishers engage with the 'Snapchat generation'" by Sam Shead: "Founded in 2012 by Shaul Olmert and Tom Pachys, Playbuzz has developed a platform that 1,500 publishers and brands use today to create "fun" and "engaging" content. The company claims that content in its network reaches hundreds of millions of people every month... During the US presidential elections, Playbuzz was used by the Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton campaigns, as well as by the news outlets reporting on them. Viola Growth led the round, and was joined by return backers Disney, Saban Ventures, 83North, Carmel Ventures, Firstime and Oded Vardi." [BI; VB]

SPOTLIGHT: “Randi Zuckerberg Is On A Mission To Bring Girls Into STEM” by Liz Posner: “Since leaving Silicon Valley and opening shop in New York City, Zuckerberg has turned to exploring her deepest passions. “Something that’s true of Jewish heritage in general is that when you have a mission statement for what you do, you get so excited to get out of bed every morning to do what you do,” she said An early employee of Facebook, and elder sister to Mark Zuckerberg, she is pretty well-qualified to guide American families into the world of technology “My Jewish identity is hugely important to me,” she said. “I remember going to Hebrew school and asking, ‘Why are we spending so much time studying the past?’ Now when I look at the tech industry, I see people only thinking about the future, asking what’s coming down the pipeline. It’s really important to study the past, which is not something I see many leaders doing. That’s where my Jewish heritage and religion come into play. Jews think about the roots of issues, and that’s something I think about in my business.”” [Forward]

TALK OF OUR NATION: "N.Y. transplant is South Dakota's lone rabbi: 'You really see what God made here'" by Sharyn Jackson: "[Stuart] Jacobs, who was born and raised in the Bronx, is part of a tiny community of Sioux Falls Jews that has long gathered to pray and commune without a permanent rabbi... “I was starved for a leader,” said Beverly Christensen, who has lived in South Dakota for 24 years. Enter Mendel Alperowitz. A clergyman without a congregation, Alperowitz moved to this city on the prairie to serve as a kind of Pied Piper for the Jews who don’t have a spiritual home. “My goal is that there should not be a single Jew in the state of South Dakota who feels that they don’t have a way to express their Judaism,” he said." [StarTribune]

"When Kosher Food Ran Short In Houston After Hurricane Harvey, Dallas Caterers Mobilized" by Courtney Collins: "Chaim Goldfeder owns Texas Kosher BBQ, based in Dallas. The second the roads opened after the catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, he hauled his mobile kitchen down to Houston. The giant smoker on the back got a real workout. "Six hundred pounds of brisket at a time," he says. "We do about 140 three-pound chickens at a time. And just to give you an idea, that will feed about 700 people." Many people, who had been living off Chex Mix from the convenience store, told Goldfeder that his roast beef and peach cobbler was the first actual meal they'd had in a week." [KeraNews]

“Jewish National Fund goes west with new president, eyes the future of Israel” by Jacob Kamaras: “JNF says Dr. Sol Lizerbram of San Diego is not only the group’s first national president from the West Coast, but also one of the first national presidents from that part of the country for any major Jewish organization. Lizerbram, 69, is a former health adviser to California Governor Jerry Brown and the co-founder HealthFusion.” [JNS]

"Memories of an Anti-Semitic State Department" by Dennis Ross: "I remember well the time in 1990, when I was the head of the State Department’s policy planning staff, I was visited by a diplomatic security investigator who was doing a background check on someone who had listed me as a reference. At one point, the investigator asked me a question that is routine in these background checks: Was this person loyal to the United States? I answered yes, without a doubt. But his follow-up question was if this person had to choose between America’s interests and Israel’s, whose interests would he put first? ... “Why would you ask that question?” I asked... He answered, “Because he is Jewish.” So I went on: If he was Irish and had to work on problems related to Ireland or if he was Italian and had to work on Italy, would you ask that question? ... He suddenly realized that I was Jewish. And, at that point, he changed the subject." [NYTimes]

TWO GUARDIAN OP-EDS TODAY: "Why is George Soros being dragged into the same-sex marriage debate?" by Jason Wilson: "The Australian Conservatives are just the latest group to invoke the figure of George Soros as the shadowy string-puller behind the fight for marriage equality. Sifting through their Facebook page, you can find a meme urging the group’s supporters to “Stop the Globalist Agenda: Vote No”. Alexander Reid-Ross, Portland State University lecturer and author of the study of fascism, Against the Fascist Creep, says that the meme “is definitely antisemitic... Soros represents to the antisemite today what Rothschild would have represented to a fascist in the 1930s: ‘the international Jew’ who is weakening ‘our’ ethnic stock by diluting our cultural values with cosmopolitan ideas that invite a foreign invasion of immigrants and terrorists.”" [Guardian]

"Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place" by Jonathan Freedland: "When distinguished men of the left are echoing, even inadvertently, the language of Holocaust denial, when the leader of Britain’s biggest trade union is rehashing the age-old notion of a Jewish conspiracy, you know you have entered a dark place. It’s not impossible to navigate your way out. But first you have to admit that you’ve got badly lost." [TheGuardian]

"Jared Kushner Registered To Vote As a Woman" by Ashley Feinberg: "According to the records held by the New York State Board of Elections, Jared Corey Kushner is a woman... "Kushner can't even fill out the most basic paperwork without screwing it up, so it's a mystery why anyone thinks he's somehow going to bring peace to the Middle East," says Brad Bainum, a spokesperson for American Bridge, a liberal opposition research hub and the group that first identified Jared's voter slip-up." [WiredMag]

HOLLYWOOD: 'The Four' -- Israeli Pilot Blueprint for FOX Show: "The Four" -- the show that FOX is producing for air next year -- is a product of an Israeli pilot... The Israeli version is called "The Final Four" but the FOX format is almost identical. The show begins with 4 amazing singers, and then a series of challengers come along, one by one, trying to knock the 4 singers out of their seats." [TMZ]

DESSERT: “Kosher? Historic ruling lets Israeli diners decide” by Michele Chabin: “On Sept. 12 the High Court of Justice ruled that although the rabbinate is and will remain the only body empowered to issue a kashrut, or kosher food, certificate, restaurants may inform diners of the kashrut standards they keep “It’s clear to everybody that this ruling spells the end of the rabbinate’s monopoly over kashrut,” said Aaron Leibowitz, an American-born Modern Orthodox rabbi who founded Hashgacha Pratit “It’s only a matter of time until the kashrut law itself is repealed,” he predicted.” [RNS]

BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire philanthropist, investor and pioneer in the commercial real estate industry, Sam Zell (born Shmuel Zielonka) turns 76... State Treasurer of Ohio, he has announced plans to challenge US Senator Sherrod Brown in 2018, Josh Mandel turns 40... Physicist and emeritus professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, Fred Singer turns 93... Director of the IDF's Military Intelligence Directorate (1979-1983), member of Knesset (1988-1992) and later served as Israel's ambassador to the Phillipines, Major General (retired) Yehoshua Sagi turns 84.... Billionaire, co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank turns 75... Antitrust and business litigator at the Locke Lord law firm, Stephen J. Landes turns 72... Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Nursing Home Quality, and Trustee at Milken Family Foundation, Ellen Sandler... President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (2004-2017), Jeffrey M. Lacker turns 62...

Consultant at Deloitte, she was previously a Hebrew teacher and coordinator of Jewish programs at Zeta Beta Tau, Alexa Wertman turns 27 (h/t Playbook)... 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 58... Comedian and author, frequent guest on both Letterman and Conan O'Brien, Marc Maron turns 54... Member of the House of Representatives since 2005, Chairperson of the DNC from 2011 until the summer of 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz turns 51... Social media pioneer who held high profile positions at AOL and other large firms, Judy Tashbook-Safern turns 51... Rabbi and kabbalist with ties to many leading businessmen and political figures in both Israel and the US, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto turns 44... Architect, entrepreneur and real estate developer, he is a first cousin of Jared Kushner, Marc Kushner turns 40...

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