Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: March 27, 2018

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting with Jewish leaders today in NYC | Broidy sues Muzin | How Trump's vendetta could end up helping Zucker's CNN

JI Staff
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin SalmanCredit: Cliff Owen/AP
JI Staff

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SCOOP: We're told that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, is expected to meet with Jewish leaders later today in New York City. Groups represented at the meeting will include AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, Jewish Federations of North America, ADL, AJC and B'nai B'rith.

SPOTTED YESTERDAY: MBS, along with approximately 50 Saudi and Secret Service agents, enjoying an afternoon visit to Bar Masa on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center. NYPD SWAT teams were seen stationed outside the TWC. [Pic]

Also yesterday: MBS, sans royal robes, met with executives from Softbank including Masayoshi Son and Ron Fisher. [Pic] Noteworthy: Robert Reffkin, CEO of the Softbank-backed Compass, appears in the back of the photo but his Israeli co-founder Ori Allon does not. Also missing is WeWork's Israeli CEO Adam Neumann whose company received a $4.4B investment from Softbank last year.

"Everyone Loves Israel Now: There's much more to the Arab world's newfound friendship with Israel than ganging up on Iran" by Shai Feldman and Tamara Cofman Wittes: "The new regional environment also presents Israel with new dilemmas it did not face when Sunni Arab states were uniformly hostile...Traditionally, Israel has used its considerable political influence to prevent the United States, Europe, and even Russia from selling Arab militaries advanced technology that might erode the country’s vaunted “qualitative military edge.” ... But what to do now that the eager seekers of such weapons and technology are Israel’s newfound “friends”? Can Israel afford the risk that in the future these states — which would then be much better equipped — might return to open confrontation?" [ForeignPolicy]

"Saudi crown prince comes under fire as he visits US" by Bruce Riedel: "The Saudi requests for looser restrictions on their plans to acquire nuclear power reactors were undermined by the crown prince’s public promise to seek nuclear weapons if Iran tries to do so if the nuclear deal collapses... Israel has been more critical of any loosening in the nuclear power requirements for Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lobbied against any deal for the Saudis, according to press reports. The Saudis' lobbying campaign will face formidable opposition if the Israelis are determined to block a deal. The pretense that the Saudi and Israeli governments are collaborating discretely against Iran will also be exposed." [AlMonitor]

TOP TALKER: “Trump Fund-Raiser Files Hacking Lawsuit Against Qatar” by David Kirkpatrick: “Lawyers for Elliott Broidy, a Republican fund-raiser close to President Trump, on Monday filed a lawsuit accusing the government of Qatar of hacking into his emails The lawsuit also claims that a Republican lobbyist, Nicolas D. Muzin of Stonington Strategies, conspired with Qatar to exploit the hacked emails to damage Mr. Broidy’s reputation... It specifically accused Qatar of orchestrating the hacking after Mr. Muzin “identified Plaintiff Broidy as an individual who was opposing the State of Qatar’s efforts to improve its image and relationships in Washington, D.C. and who was aligned with its regional rivals, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”

In a statement, Mr. Muzin said, “Mr. Broidy’s lawsuit is an obvious attempt to draw attention away from his controversial work, and is as flimsy as the promises he reportedly made to his clients.” [NYTimes; WashPost]

THE DAILY KUSHNER -- “White House Probes Loans to Kushner’s Business” by Byron Tau and Erica Orden: “The Office of Government Ethics told a Democratic lawmaker in the letter that the White House is probing whether a $184 million loan from the real-estate arm of Apollo Global Management LLC and a $325 million loan from Citigroup Inc. may have run afoul of the rules and laws governing the conduct of federal employees. Both loans went to the Kushner Cos.... [Jared] Kushner met with top executives of both Citi and Apollo before each loan was disbursed OGE, an independent agency, is charged with helping executive-branch officials avoid conflicts of interest. Its role is advisory and educational in nature, rather than enforcement.” [WSJ]

Jimmy Carter says John Bolton as national security adviser is "worst mistake" Trump has made: "I have been concerned at some of the things he's decided. I think his last choice for national security adviser was very ill-advised. I think John Bolton has been the worst mistake he's made," Carter told "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell. [CBSNews]

REPORT -- “Bibi to Europe: You have to pick America or Iran” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French and German foreign ministers who visited Jerusalem today that he predicts "with high probability" that President Trump is going to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal on May 12th According to the Israeli officials Netanyahu told the European foreign ministers: "We can debate whether it (U.S. withdrawal from the deal) is a good thing or a bad thing, but it is just the reality. Then you Europeans will have to choose between the small economy of Iran and the huge economy of the U.S." [Axios]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah: “The President... is insistent on changes both at the congressional level working with Congress, and also with our European partners. If changes aren't made, the President is prepared to potentially withdraw from the agreement.”

“U.S. Experts Say Why Trump Should Support Iran Deal” by Rick Gladstone: “The group, including 50 retired military officers and at least four former American ambassadors to Israel, added its voice to a fractious debate over the accord “President Trump should maintain the U.S. commitment to the Iran nuclear deal,” the signers said in the statement... Former ambassadors who signed include Daniel C. Kurtzer, who served in Israel and Egypt; James B. Cunningham, who served in the United Nations, Israel and Afghanistan; Thomas R. Pickering, a former under secretary of state who served in Israel and William C. Harrop, who served in Israel and as the State Department’s inspector general.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE REGION -- “Jews, Arabs nearing population parity in Holy Land: Israeli officials” by Jeffrey Heller: “We estimate the (Palestinian) population in Judea and Samaria at between 2.5 million and 2.7 million,” Colonel Uri Mendes, COGAT’s deputy director told a session of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Avi Dichter, the committee’s chairman and a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, responded that with the addition of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinians, that meant there was now a total of about five million Palestinians living in the two territories Adding them to the 1.84 million Arabs living inside Israel, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), would bring the total number of Arabs in Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories to around 6.5 million.” [Reuters] MK Ahmad Tibi: Vision of Arab PM in Israel is drawing near [Ynet]

Noted Israeli author and columnist Yossi Klein Halevi emails us... "It doesn't matter if we're near parity or if we are 60-40, as the annexationists claim, either way points to the undoing of Israel as a democracy. My own response is contained in my new book, where I've re-committed myself, after years of post-second intifada trauma, to a two-state solution. Not that I think we have a chance of negotiating peace with the current Palestinian leadership; we don't. But maybe with the changes happening in the region, especially the Sunni countries' fear of Iran, there is a chance for a new regional arrangement."

JERUSALEM EMBASSY WAIVER -- "Israel fast-tracks wall, escape route for new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem" by Dan Williams: " Israel has expedited construction permits to enable temporary quarters for the U.S. Embassy to open in Jerusalem as planned in May... Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said in a statement that he would empower the Jerusalem municipality to waive the permits that would have been required for a wall and an escape route at the interim site... The Israeli planning permit waiver for the Embassy will be good for three years, the Finance Ministry statement said." [Reuters]

“Trump gets big cheers at Jewish-Christian gala at Mar-a-Lago” by Matt Morgan: “Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who founded the [the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews] 35 years ago to help Israel and Holocaust survivors, said part of the reasons he picked Trump’s private club was because he was hoping for a presidential visit at the event. While Trump left to go back to Washington around 4 p.m., he did record a 34-second video message that got a rousing cheer from the audience when it was played at the gala... The crowd loudly cheered about a half-dozen times after various speakers mentioned Trump’s decision for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy there."

-- "[Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper said one of the only times he wished he was back in office was when Trump made his speech about Jerusalem. He wished he could have stood beside him and done the same.” [PalmBeachPost]

IN JERUSALEM -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her delegation met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem yesterday. Ambassador David Friedman also attended. [Pic] Pelosi also met with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem [Pic]

STATESIDE -- "Kansas Legislators Try to Save Law Against Boycotting Israel" by John Hanna: "Kansas legislators are trying to salvage a law prohibiting state contractors from boycotting Israel after a federal judge blocked its enforcement, advancing a bill Monday to narrow the ban so it no longer would apply to individuals or small contracts. The state House approved the measure, 93-30, sending it to the Senate. Enacting the bill's changes would resolve the federal lawsuit that led to it being put on hold, according to an attorney involved." [AP]

HAPPENING TODAY -- New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will announce a new partnership with Israel that will accelerate the pace of innovation in the global marketplace during a keynote address at the Advanced Energy Conference held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Chief Scientist at Israel's Ministry of Economy and Industry and Chairman of Israel Innovation Authority, will represent the Israeli government, along with Consul General in New York Dani Dayan.

2020 WATCH -- “In Iowa Stop, Kristol To Discuss ‘Expecting the Unexpected in 2020’” by Ethan Stoetzer: “With his upcoming visit on Wednesday to Iowa’s Cornell College in Mount Vernon, on the heels of a planned appearance two weeks ago at a prominent political event in New Hampshire (postponed due to weather), Bill Kristol is certainly creating a stir. The influential conservative commentator and co-founder of The Weekly Standard will be a guest of Cornell College as part of its Roe Howard Freedom Lecture series, and will discuss “American Politics in the Age of Trump,” and what’s ahead in 2020 Kristol told InsideSources that he’s not currently planning for a 2020 run, rather looking to “encourage the people of Iowa,” about the state and future of America’s politics ahead of the 2020 presidential discussion.” [InsideSources]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Rachel Zoe's Zoe Report Acquired by Bryan Golderg's Bustle [HollywoodReporter] Ari Emanuel's Endeavor Acquires Streaming Technology Company NeuLion for $250 Million [Deadline] Fintech Company Broadridge Buys Enterprise Communication Startup ActivePath [Calcalist] Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief's Morning Brew is a daily business briefing built for millennials [TechCrunch]

MEDIA WATCH: "Inside Time Warner, Growing Merger Skepticism” by Joe Pompeo: "Numerous conversations I’ve had in recent weeks, with CNN employees and people close to Jeff Zucker, suggest that neither he nor the rank and file are very anxious about the outcome one way or another. Time Warner has been a great home for CNN, the argument goes, while the prospect of life under AT&T is more of a great unknown... Ironically, it could turn out that Trump’s vendetta against CNN could work to the advantage of Time Warner shareholders.” That same logic would apply to a negative ruling coming down before June 21, in which case AT&T would then need to convince Time Warner to stick it out with them on appeal."

"At least one notable deal-maker is betting that AT&T will indeed come to terms with the government. “I don’t think this trial’s gonna go all the way to May or June,” LionTree’s Aryeh Bourkoff said during that F.T. gabfest. “There’s enough at stake here for both companies to try and contain it and get at a settlement.” [VanityFair]

SPOTLIGHT -- James Packer: Resignation puts focus on 'high-flier' mental health: "Australian billionaire James Packer has received much public praise since quitting his gaming empire due to mental health reasons... He has since sought treatment at a high-end hospital in the US and has been joined for support by his mother and at least one close friend... "This makes Packer a lonely figure in business, but at the same time a brave and important one," John Brogden, chairman of Australian crisis support service Lifeline, wrote in The Australian Financial Review... Mr Packer has sought help at the Pavilion clinic at the McLean Hospital, Boston, which offers a 14-day programme for $55,300." [BBC]

"Travis Kalanick's Return and the 'Bad Boys' Who Come Back" by Erin Griffith: "After he resigned from Uber in June 2017, [Travis] Kalanick spent time hobnobbing at elite conferences like Davos and getting good at smartphone games. This month, he announced 10100, a fund for his personal investments... 10100 acquired a controlling stake in City Storage Systems, a holding company which invests in distressed real estate assets, for $150 million."

"Kalanick is fueling his comeback with his own money—earned from selling Uber shares—but it wouldn’t be surprising if outside investors stepped in to back him. In tech, scandals never seem to stick to a person for long. Ousted bad boys are somehow able to change the narrative." [Wired]

"‘Billions’ Season 3 Premiere: The Next Big Thing" by Sean T. Collins: "The setup for a lavish once-a-year dinner get-together for the biggest hedge-fund managers in Manhattan is depicted in loving detail — and attended by the real-life trading titans Michael Adam Karsch, Marc Lasry and Michael Platt, playing themselves." [NYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION -- "Mega-Funders Increasingly Setting The Communal Agenda" by Gary Rosenblatt: "According to a new study commissioned by the Avi Chai Foundation, about 250 Jewish foundations backed by Jewish mega-funders are donating vast sums — at least half million dollars a year each — to drive new initiatives primarily aimed at engaging millennials rather than providing ongoing support for mainstay social services... Is that a good or bad thing for American Jewry? It depends who you ask and what their goals are. Some would point to the remarkable growth and generosity of these major foundations that are now giving about a billion dollars a year to Jewish causes. Others might bemoan the diminished agenda-setting role of the Jewish federation system and its noble concept of collective giving." [JewishWeek]

JFNA’s William Daroff responds to Jonathan Weissman in a letter to the editor “Vocal About Anti-Semitism: Our Jewish federations and community relations councils build bridges with our non-Jewish neighbors and elected officials, because we know that the fight against anti-Semitism is also the fight against injustice. With increased threats, we have fortified communities with our Secure Community Network initiative, which provides tools to protect against violent attacks Anti-Semitism takes many forms today, and we continue to speak loudly against them and to adapt to fight these challenges by building strong and resilient Jewish communities.” [NYTimes]

ACROSS THE POND -- "Labour ignored formal complaint over antisemitic mural, emails suggest" by Matthew Weaver: "Sam Shemtob, a music publicist and Labour supporter who voted for Corbyn as leader, repeatedly raised concerns about Corbyn’s 2012 Facebook post backing the Los Angeles-based street artist Mear One, over a painting featuring numerous antisemitic tropes. After the party ignored Shemtob’s social media comments about Corbyn’s post he lodged a formal complaint in February 2017. In an email to the party, under the subject line “antisemitism complaint,” Shemtob accused Corbyn of endorsing Nazi-style propaganda. He told the Guardian that if the party had acted to address his concerns it could have avoided the current row." [TheGuardian]

HEARD THE OTHER DAY -- Labour MP John Mann on the AJC Passport podcast: "Jeremy Corbyn needs to demonstrate publicly, unequivocally, his support for the Jewish people, his support for Jewish causes -- that's easy -- but as well his outright opposition to all forms of anti-Semitism, his action plan for dealing with it, both within the Labour Party, on the left, and in wider society, and his unequivocal support for the Zionist state of Israel. That's what he needs to do. He hasn't done it in those terms yet. The sooner he does it, the better." [SoundCloud]

“The brutal killing of a Holocaust survivor raises anti-Semitism fears in France” by James Mcauley: “[Mireille] Knoll’s killing raised anxieties over a troubling trend without a clear solution. “There are two contradictory elements here,” Bernard-Henri Lévy, the prominent French writer active in Jewish causes, said in an interview. “One the one hand, it’s true that Republican institutions are exemplary and do everything they can in the face of a rising anti-Semitism. But on the other, I am obligated to say that Jews are again being killed on the streets of Paris by virtue of being Jewish.” “Even in the 1930s, that was not the case in such an extent,” he said.” [WashPost]

"93-year-old Holocaust survivor finally receives his bar mitzvah" by Enjoli Francis and Rob Hess: "A month before Samuel Heider was to be bar mitzvahed, a rite of passage for every Jewish teen, World War II broke out. On Saturday, in what was an incredibly emotional moment for him, and just days before his 94th birthday in April, Heider finally received his bar mitzvah. The bar mitzvah and service was held at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Dayton, Ohio." [ABCNews]

SPORTS BLINK: "Robert Kraft on lending Patriots plane to transport Parkland students: 'We didn't hesitate a minute'" by Mike Jones: “When they called and asked, ‘Would you send a plane and help take the wounded kids and their families and kids who couldn’t go on a normal plane, because it’s not right?' We didn’t hesitate a minute,” Kraft explained Monday afternoon at the NFL’s annual meetings. Kraft finds himself in a unique position because although he’s a lifelong Democrat, he also counts President Trump among his personal friends. He didn’t mince words, however, as he expressed his displeasure with the ongoing disputes over gun control and the accompanying political gridlock in addressing the matter. “I have a big problem with what’s going on in Washington and the divisiveness, and no one’s listening to one another." [USAToday]

TRANSITIONS -- Mara Gay, a City Hall reporter for the Wall Street Journal, is joining the New York Times editorial board as the lead opinion writer on state and local affairs. [NYTimes]

-- Daniella Greenbaum, an assistant editor at Commentary magazine, is joining Business Insider as a columnist for the politics team.

DESSERT -- “A Restaurant With Original Salvador Dali Paintings Is Opening in Meatpacking” by Serena Dai: “The Woodstock, opening next week at 446 West 14th St., comes from James Morrissey — the same guy behind splashy ’70s-chic bar The Vnyl that plays music picked out by Entourage actor Adrian Grenier. The 120-seat bar and restaurant is a partnership with developer Thor Equities’ David and Joe Sitt, which owns the property. Morrissey’s big sell is that all cocktails, which will change seasonally, cost $10.” [EaterNY]

“Stoudemire Takes a Shot at Kosher Wine Market” by Florence Fabricant: “Fill glasses at your Seder with the new Israeli kosher for Passover wines from the Stoudemire Cellars label, owned by the former basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire, and your dinner will have another reason to be different. Mr. Stoudemire, who is a member of the Hebrew Israelite community, loves Israel (he’s a frequent visitor) and red wine” [NYTimes]

"Where To Go Out For A Passover Seder In New York City" by Melissa Kravitz: "Passover starts the evening of Friday, March 30th. And though Passover seders traditionally occur at home, if your plans fell through, or you just prefer to go out, a handful of New York City restaurants will be hosting Passover dinners, ranging from the strictly kosher soirees to chic and kosher-ish get togethers in Manhattan hotspots. Make a grand Exodus from your apartment and book a seat at one of these New York City seders this Passover." [Forbes]

BIRTHDAYS: Canadian psychologist and educator, she was the first female Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario (1992-1996), Reva Appleby Gerstein turns 101... Sports cartoonist and writer whose art has been used by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and hung above each Hall of Fame bust, Murray Olderman turns 96... Chairman emeritus of Warner Bros. Records, a 2003 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, music executive Mo Ostin turns 91... Founder in 1961 of Business Wire, a news release service which he has since sold to Berkshire Hathaway, he has donated in excess of $700 million to charities, Lorry I. Lokey turns 91... Federal judge on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, reputed to be the judge most frequently reversed by the Supreme Court, last active service appellate judge appointed by President Carter, Stephen Reinhardt turns 87... Composer, violinist and improviser who has been active in the presentation of new music and dance since the early 1960s, Malcolm Goldstein turns 82... Founder of of one of the the oldest and largest private equity firms globally, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Thomas H. Lee (family name was Leibowitz) turns 74...

Principal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal (1991-2013), and co-founder of Recode, Walter S. Mossberg turns 71... Sports agent who consistently represents the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, he is widely reputed to be the real-life inspiration of the sports agent in the film "Jerry Maguire" in 1996, Leigh Steinberg turns 69... Host of the "Matty in the Morning Show" in Massachusetts on KISS 108, has been on the air since 1981, Matt Siegel turns 68... Member of the Knesset representing the United Torah Judaism party, Yisrael Eichler turns 63... Director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany, cultural commentator and essayist, Susan Neiman turns 63... Economist and banker, reportedly the wealthiest man in Latvia, Valerijs Kargins turns 57... Smooth jazz saxophonist, recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Dave Koz turns 55... COO of the Maimonides Fund, Daniel Gamulka turns 51... CEO since 2004 of BBYO (an organization launched almost 100 years ago, formerly B'nai B'rith Youth Organization), Matthew Grossman turns 47...

Founder and CEO of the Movement Vision Lab, a grassroots think tank, political commentator and community organizer, Sally Kohn turns 41... Assistant Professor of Poetry at Columbia University School of the Arts, author of five full-length collections of poetry, Dorothea Lasky turns 40... MSNBC correspondent who debuted on the network in September 2015, Jacob Hirsch Soboroff turns 35... Professional baseball outfielder, signed to minor league contracts by a number of MLB teams, starred for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Blake Shane Gailen turns 33... Son of Jared and Ivanka, Theodore James Kushner turns 2... Executive Director at Milwaukee's Grand Avenue Club (a mental health center), holder of a Ph.D. in sociology from Boston University, Rachel Forman... AIPAC's Associate Director for Westchester County (NY) and Riverdale, Adam Engel... David Greenbaum...

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