Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: November 21, 2017

What was said at McMaster's dinner with Safra Catz? | 'The Mooch' in Israel | Mike Bloomberg on Iger 2020 | Spotted at Shemtov wedding

JI Staff
Safra Catz, co-chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.
Safra Catz, co-chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
JI Staff

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TOP TALKER: "Sources: McMaster Mocked Trump’s Intelligence At A Private Dinner" by Joseph Bernstein: “Over a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz... McMaster bluntly trashed his boss The top national security official dismissed the president variously as an “idiot” and a “dope” with the intelligence of a “kindergartner,” the sources said The meeting, Oracle senior VP for government affairs Ken Glueck said, was about China, and “none of the statements attributed to General McMaster were said.” ... According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, administration officials threatened to retaliate against several figures with knowledge of the July dinner if they spoke to BuzzFeed News. Asked whether he had made his statement under pressure from the administration, Glueck responded, “ridiculous.”

“News of the July dinner first surfaced in August, when Axios reported that Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson decided to support a campaign alleging that McMaster was anti-Israel after speaking with Catz about her meeting with the national security adviser... Of Kushner... McMaster said he had no business being in the White House and should not be involved in national security issues. “[Catz] said the conversation was so inappropriate that it was jaw-dropping,” another source told BuzzFeed News According to sources, Catz was so alarmed by the tenor of McMaster’s comments about President Trump and Israel that she confided her concerns to several administration officials, as well as Adelson.” [BuzzFeed]

--Critics of the report: "Kate Brannen, deputy managing editor at Just Security, noted that Ezra Cohen-Watnick — whose ouster from the National Security Council spurred efforts by Trump loyalists to force McMaster out — took a job at Oracle in September. Oracle also hired Josh Pitcock, former chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence. "This story smells a bit funky," noted Jenna McLaughlin, an intelligence reporter at Foreign Policy, adding, "At some point, if you've got a bunch of Oracle sources who did not attend an event they're speaking about, with a history of hating McMaster, telling you things... time to question the motivation behind said 'tips.'" [BusinessInsider]

DRIVING THE DAY: “UN envoy says conflict likely if Palestinians fail to agree” by Edith Lederer: “Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council that “critical intra-Palestinian talks” are scheduled to open in Cairo on Tuesday... But the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process warned of the consequences and likely conflict if the Hamas-Fatah agreement fails. “Whether it would be triggered by a meltdown of law and order in Gaza, by the reckless action of extremists or by strategic choice, the result will be the same — devastation and suffering for all,” Mladenov said." [AP]

"Palestinian Foreign Minister: Trump Admin Reconsidering Move to Close PLO Mission in D.C." by Jack Khoury: "The Trump administration began to reconsider the move following threats by the Palestinian Authority’s leadership that Ramallah would cut its ties with Washington, Maliki told the official Voice of Palestine radio station. Maliki added that the Trump administration must reexamine all the laws passed by Congress since 1987 defining the Palestine Liberation Organization as a terrorist organization." [Haaretz]

"Palestinians point finger at Israel for crisis with US" by Shlomi Eldar: “The Palestinians are convinced that Tillerson’s threats must be the doings of Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer According to the [Palestinians] source, Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot sent reports in real-time that Dermer was conducting an “ugly and manipulative” struggle against the Palestinian office in Washington and tried to convince officials in the administration to close the office or at least curb Zomlot’s activities in the capital According to an Israeli diplomatic source... there was nothing inappropriate about the behavior of Dermer The Israeli source added that it would be an exaggeration to think that Tillerson's threats on the Palestinians are only the results of Israeli diplomatic activity.” [AlMonitor]

IRAN POLICY: “U.S. sanctions individuals, entities for Iran-linked counterfeiting” by Lisa Lambert: “The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday sanctioned a network of individuals and companies it said counterfeited Yemeni bank notes potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.” [Reuters; WSJ]

Sen. Ben Cardin in an interview on The Global Politico podcast with Susan Glasser: "Congress has a limited role in regards to the nuclear agreement with Iran... We’ve already done that; we passed a bill this year imposing new sanctions on Iran for their non-nuclear violations In regards to the nuclear agreement I don’t know how much Congress can do in that regard, but certainly, we can support the administration I think Congress will try to be cooperative with the President, but, quite frankly, within the nuclear agreement, we have to work with our [European] partners.” [Politico]

'THE MOOCH' IN ISRAEL -- Former, and very brief, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was greeted warmly by Likud and Bayit Yehudi Knesset Members and ministers as he keynoted the launch of the Israeli chapter of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce at King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The Mooch peppered his speech with Yiddish phrases, even telling jokes at his own expense. “I know what tzuris is - because, you know, I was in the White House,” he quipped. “Some people think that coming to Israel for just 5 days is a very short trip, but I remind them that since I only spent 11 days in the White House, it’s almost half of a Scaramucci.” He also recalled taking a course on Yiddish literature at Tufts University called From Shtetl to Suburbia. “And I can tell you, I am one of the few goys out there the knows the difference between a sheigetz and a shiksa.” [Video] Read Aaron Magid's full dispatch from the King David Hotel [JewishInsider]

-- WATCH: The Mooch before reciting Shehecheyanu in Hebrew: “Now I am going to do something I promised myself I am not going to do. I don’t know if you've ever seen Mayor [Mike] Bloomberg speak Spanish? Well, I am going to break out into Hebrew in about two seconds.” [Video]

YESTERDAY IN JERUSALEM -- Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) met with Prime Minister Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem. "They discussed the challenges and opportunities we face in the region and the potential for deepening cooperation in water management, agriculture, cyber security and more, " the PMO's said in a statement. "The PM expressed his deep appreciation for America's commitment to Israel's security." [Pic]

2018 WATCH: “Can a Jew from liberal Miami Beach be Florida’s next governor? Philip Levine is betting yes” by Amy Sherman: “I knew this African-American guy, believe it or not, who won the state twice and was elected president of the United States twice, and an older Jewish guy almost got the Democratic nomination for president,” former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, says. The last Jews elected statewide were in the 1970s: U.S. Sen. Richard Stone and Attorney General Robert Shevin. Stone, now 89 and living in Maryland, says being Jewish wasn’t an obstacle to running statewide — the main hurdle was being from Miami Beach. “It can be done, as I’ve shown, but people are normally more comfortable with a nearby neighbor running for office than someone from a longer way away,” he said.” [JTA]

2020 WATCH: “From City Hall to the White House? Eric Garcetti May Try to Defy the Odds” by Adam Nagourney: “In the course of an hourlong interview in his office, Mr. Garcetti, 46, a Democrat, made clear that, as unlikely as it might sound, he is considering a run for president, after announcing he would not run for governor. “There are 23 states that have a population smaller than Los Angeles,” he said His background reflects the rich texture of the city that he governs and where he was raised. He is both Jewish and Mexican Joel Benenson, who was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and served as Mr. Obama’s pollster, said the biggest thing Mr. Garcetti had going for him was the unsettled political field “I wouldn’t say get out of the way,” Mr. Garcetti said. “That’s not how I function. I say there’s room for all of us.”” [NYTimes]

Mike Bloomberg on Disney CEO Bob Iger possibly running for president: "Bob Iger is a good friend, and he's on the board of my foundation. We've talked about government and politics, I'm sure. I don't remember any specific conversation. He's a very smart guy. He cares very much about the environment and public education. He seems to have an interest in politics, which I would encourage. I don't know we ever discussed literally should he run for president or shouldn't he run for president." [HollywoodReporter]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: How a Handful of Billionaires Kept Their Friend Harvey Weinstein in Power [Fortune] The Education of Mark Zuckerberg: The Facebook founder has discussed "community" more than 150 times in public. A close reading reveals his road map for the platform’s future. [TheAtlantic] Barry Sternlicht's Starwood Retail to issue up to $280 billion in bonds in Tel Aviv [Haaretz] How Israeli women techies are opening doors for each other in Silicon Valley [ToI]

PODCAST PLAYBACK -- How I Built This with Guy Raz on Ben & Jerry's Ben Cohen And Jerry Greenfield: "In the mid-1970s two childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to open an ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont. Their quirky little shop packaged and sold unusual flavors like Honey Coffee, Mocha Walnut, and Mint with Oreo Cookies. In 1981, the regional brand spread across the country after Time magazine called it the "best ice cream in America." Today, Ben & Jerry's is one of the top selling ice cream brands in the world. And, like the original founders, the company doesn't shy away from speaking out on social issues." [NPR]

"Dan Gilbert and son Nick discuss their health care journey" by Jay Greene: "Businessman Dan Gilbert and his son Nick opened up Tuesday about their family's journey through the health care system to treat Nick's rare genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis, that caused tumors to form on his brain and eventually nearly blinded him... Gilbert said he has collected a number of what he called "Nick-isms" over the years, comments that Nick has made about his family, to the public and to health care providers. For example, when Nick was 3 years old, one of the family goldfish died. A babysitter flushed the dead fish down the garbage disposal. "We had to explain it to you. Where did it go? ... We explained that the goldfish went up to heaven," said Gilbert, asking Nick to recall what he said. Nick replied, "So heaven is in the garbage disposal?"[CrainsDetroit]

TALK OF OUR NATION -- Holocaust survivor opens art museum in hometown Vilnius: “Painter and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak on Monday opened a museum of his allegorical work inspired by Jewish history in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, more than half a century after he held his first exhibition as a nine-year-old inside its wartime ghetto "For me to be here is somehow to come back to the very beginning of the beginning. It is also a possibility to express my gratitude to Christians who helped me survive," he said before the opening ceremony attended by several hundred people.” [Yahoo]

"In secular France, a female rabbi dares to bring religion into public life" by James McAuley: "In a country where official Jewish life is overwhelmingly Orthodox, Delphine Horvilleur is something of a scandal, a married mother of three who defies centuries of gender norms in a manicured corner of French public life. A cause celebre, she remains unrecognized by France’s central Jewish authority... But what is perhaps most scandalous about “Madame le Rabbin,” as she is often called... Horvilleur is insisting that religion should play a role in this Western society... “It’s as if religion is a museum, or — as we say in France, a madeleine of Proust,” Horvilleur said... "Our goal is to reenter into history — to say, ‘We are what we are, but our texts, our beliefs, they are not locked in a box.’”" [WashPost]

“Liberal Jewish Group Demands The New School Apologize for Sarsour Panel, Collects Nearly 10,000 Signatures in Four Days” by Liel Leibovitz: “Enraged by The New School’s actions (hosting a panel on anti-Semitism featuring Linda Sarsour), Zioness, a “new initiative that empowers progressive and feminist Zionists who wish to engage in movements to advance civil rights, social justice and equality for all,” disseminated a petition late last week calling on the university to apologize Since it was introduced less than a week ago, nearly 10,000 people have signed the petition." [Tablet]

Amanda Berman, Zioness' co-founder emails us: "Shocking to see an institution like The New School hosting a panel on anti-Semitism that itself perpetuates, exacerbates and excuses anti-Semitism. I'm pretty confident they would not sponsor a discussion of 'alternative views' of any other form of systemic bigotry. While the Jewish community rarely agrees on anything, the outrageousness of this panel has united us from left to right."

KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: The Knesset marked the 40th anniversary today of the historic 1977 speech by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The event was, of course, filled with messages of peace, and the guest of honor was Egyptian Ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat. Speaking in Arabic, Khairat called upon his listeners to complete Sadat’s vision for regional peace and to seek an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, based on the two state solution.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, in what could easily be seen as a message to the Trump administration, said: “We are used to the idea of peace being forced upon us, but here is an example that peace can be made without mediators.” Of course, that statement is not quite accurate, and the Carter administration was involved in the negotiations, but with a possible Trump ultimate deal plan looming, she has her reasons to present things differently. “We are all waiting for a Palestinian Sadat to be born, but the conflict will not just be solved when there is a Palestinian Sadat and an Israeli Begin, but when the Palestinians’ world view is no longer based on rejecting the existence of the Jewish People.” Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

MEDIA WATCH: “John King on CNN, Wolf Blitzer” by Lisa Weidenfeld: “I love Wolf like a brother. I have never arm-wrestled Wolf Blitzer, though But Wolf is a unique figure to me because Wolf was the senior White House correspondent when I switched from print to television I had worked for 12 years at the Associated Press. It was my family, it was my home, it was the only job in journalism I knew, even though I moved from Providence to Boston and then to Washington. My bosses were my mentors and my friends. They had allowed me to cover campaigns when I was a kid. They sent me off to war when I was young. So here I was going into this new environment. I was petrified; I was horrible at it. In a business that has a lot of egos and a lot of strange people, Wolf is just—he’s a Buffalo kid and I’m a Dorchester kid. He’s just the most decent human being you will ever meet in your entire life. And he’s such a gentleman. He’s just a quiet leader, carries himself with dignity.” [BostonMag]

COMING SOON: “‘Fauda’ 2 to air in Israel on New Year’s Eve” by Jessica Steinberg: “The “Fauda” wait is over. The second season of the award-winning Israeli political thriller, co-created by Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, premieres December 31 on Israel’s Yes TV, and will follow a few months later on Netflix.” [ToI]

SPOTTED -- at wedding of Yitz Ceitlin and Shana Shemtov, the daughter of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) Director Rabbi Levi & Nechama Shemtov, in Crown Heights, New York: Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who recited a blessing under the chuppah [Pic], Rabbi Berel Lazar, Malcolm Hoenlein, William Daroff, NYC Councilman David Greenfield, Tevi and Kami Troy, Howard Friedman, Tom Kahn, Lewis Mayberg, Jeffery (Yaakov) Cohen, Ed Miller, Nathan Diament, Mitchell Silk, Sander Gerber, Nat Lewin, David Prager, Shmuley Boteach, and Yaacov Behrman.

DESSERT: “Pastrami Will Be Flown In for RiNo’s New Jewish Deli” by Josie Sexto: “Originally from Colorado, [Jerrod] Rosen spent time in New York training under Thomas Keller at Per Se, and Danny Meyer at Tabla Rosen is teaming up with Denver chef consultant Ryan Leinonen The two promise to bring “the best of traditional Jewish comfort food” to Denver Rye bread will be baked in–house daily, and pastrami will be flown in from New York’s Carnegie Deli.” [Eater]

BIRTHDAYS: British entrepreneur and philanthropist, Baron Harold Stanley Kalms turns 86... Academy Award-winning actress, director, producer and occasional singer, she founded The Hawn Foundation to help underprivileged children, Goldie Hawn turns 72... Founder, Chairman and CEO of Men's Wearhouse (1973-2013), currently holding these same positions at Generation Tux, an online tuxedo rental platform, George Zimmer turns 69... Beverly Hills resident, Julie Shuer turns 65... Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group, Thomas Rothman turns 63... VP of wealth management at the San Francisco office of Taylor Frigon Capital Management and serves on AIPAC’s National Council, Jonathan Wornick turns 54... CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jonathan A. Greenblatt turns 47... Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and political commentator, editor of the Jerusalem Post (2002-2004), moved from the WSJ to the New York Times in 2017, Bret Stephens turns 44... Born in Teheran, his family emigrated after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, he is the founder and publisher of the business magazine The Real Deal, Amir Korangy turns 44... Political Director of ABC News, Rick Klein turns 41... US foreign service officer, Danielle Monosson turns 41... Reporter at Bloomberg News, Max Abelson turns 33... Judy Brilliant... Ruth Shapiro...

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