Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: September 26, 2018

Trump endorses the two-state solution for the first time | Tal Keinan's book on Judaism's future| Has anyone seen Roman Abramovich?

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U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikky Haley, Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton arrive at the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2018
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikky Haley, Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton arrive at the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2018Credit: AFP
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NOW AVAILABLE — Tal Keinan of Clarity Capital is out with a new book titled God Is in the Crowd: Twenty-First-Century Judaism: From the publisher — "Tal Keinan was born to a secular Jewish family in Florida. His interest in Judaism was ignited by a Christian minister at his New England prep school and led him down the unlikely path to enlistment in the Israel Air Force. Using his own dramatic experiences as a backdrop, and applying lessons from his life as a business leader and social activist, Keinan takes the reader on a riveting adventure, weaving between past, present, and future, and fusing narrative with theory to demonstrate Judaism’s value to humanity and chart its path into the future."

We asked Tal to share with JI readers what he's proposing:

Keinan tells us: Crowd Wisdom. A crowd will only be wise if (a) its members are all answering the same question (b) they are independent in their inputs (c) they are of diverse backgrounds and (d) there is some consistent and objective aggregation mechanism for their inputs. These conditions existed in the diaspora of the past 2,000 years and the idea is to now create a virtual diaspora that consists of...

1. A technology platform that poses the question, solicits independent and diverse input, and aggregates the inputs.
2. And educational endowment that enlarges the crowd of participants, and inspires a critical mass of its members to become “experts” in the issues of Jewish governance.
3. A legislative mechanism to translate the crowd’s opinion into action.

JI: You write about giving every Jew a vote, who would they be voting for and why?

Keinan: They would be voting for the president of Israel. That function would be something like the current Chairman of the Jewish Agency, but with legislative teeth. His or her mandate would be exclusively over matters that make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people. These include eligibility for full citizenship in Israel under the law of return, custody of Jewish holy sites, Israel’s relationship with non-Israeli Jewish communities. The office would have no jurisdiction over matters unrelated to Israel’s status as a nation state of the Jews, for example healthcare, defense, education, etc.

JI: Are you confident you’ll be able to obtain buy-in from the Israeli government and from a wide spectrum of the Jewish community to become more organized/centralized?

Keinan: I am confident I will not! At least not at first. Many of the book’s ideas upset current power structures. My hope is that by laying out the diagnosis clearly, enough of us will realize that the stakes are high and they justify radical thinking. This crowd will have to find its voice organically. It will not be led from the top. My hope is that the book offers a focal point around which this urgent conversation can begin.

You can read an excerpt of Tal's book here [NationalPost]

TALK OF THE PARTY CIRCUIT — by Amanda Gordon: "At the Metropolitan Opera House, a new production of “Samson and Delilah" opened the season, with dancers cavorting and climbing up and down a giant gold temple. All for a story revolving around a Biblical man well-endowed with hair follicles but lacking great judgment in women. As for the couples on the scene, I couldn’t find a man who lets his wife cut his hair, but Bruce Kovner, chairman of CAM Capital, said he lets his wife arrange his haircuts.

Some guests could only talk about their hair in the past. “I had a Jewish Afro in my 20s," said Peter Gelb, the Met Opera’s general manager... Running Harvard University since July hasn’t yet caused any major hair loss for Larry Bacow, who was about a mile away at the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. Heck, his hair might even be growing faster after the announcement last week that Harvard raised $9.6 billion in its most recent campaign. But he wasn’t the only one with a fine mane at the Museum of Natural History event... Those who don’t have to wear baseball caps in the sun include Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein, and Alan Dershowitz..." [Bloomberg]

HAPPENING TODAY — Michael Bloomberg will host world leaders at the Plaza Hotel in NYC for the Bloomberg Global Business Forum. Speakers include British Prime Minister Theresa May, Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, former President Bill Clinton, David Solomon of Goldman Sachs, and BlackRock's Larry Fink, among others.

HOLIDAY CATCHUP — DURING SUKKOT... Russia promised to upgrade Syria's defense systems after the recent rift with Israel... The Trump administration warned Russia it would be a 'major mistake' if it supplied Syria with advanced missiles... The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal on Monday agreed to keep working to maintain trade with Iran... Jordanian King Abdullah told Jewish leaders on Friday that he has “no idea” what is included in the Trump peace plan... White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say whether Trump has confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after the NY Times reported that Rosenstein had discussed secretly recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment... Rosenstein is set to meet with Trump on Thursday... Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and OCC head Joseph Otting want to overhaul the Community Reinvestment Act, in part based on their experiences running OneWest Bank...

AT THE UN: In his UN speech, President Trump condemned Iran’s regime as a “corrupt dictatorship,” and called on "all nations" to isolate Iran. Trump singled out India, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Poland as worthy partners... On Mideast peace, Trump said the United States was no longer “held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again”... Macron swiped at Trump stating that trampling on Palestinians won't resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... and Trump is unlikely to forgive UN for laughing at him during his speech...

Trump on a meeting with Iran: "I think that, at some point, they’re going want to negotiate. I have said no, so far. It was me that said no, not them... And I think that at some point we will have meaningful discussions and probably do a deal. I don’t see how it works for them otherwise, because otherwise, they’re going to be in the worst economic trouble of any country anywhere in the world."

Trump tweets: "Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!"

DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations Headquarters. At the start of their meeting, President Trump mentioned the Jerusalem Embassy move and reiterated his support for Israel's right to defend itself. For the first time since taking office, Trump endorsed the two state solution. "I like [the] two state solution," Trump said. "You may have a different feeling. I don't think so," Trump told Netanyahu, "but I think [the] two state solution works best."

Trump also repeated that Israel will have to "pay something" in exchange for moving the embassy to Jerusalem: "I took probably the biggest chip off the table, and so obviously we have to make a fair deal. Deals have to be good for both parties, otherwise you don't have a deal," Trump stated. "So something will have to be done. But that's a very big chip (Jerusalem). Israel got the first chip, and it's a pretty big one — there's no question about that."

-- Quick reactions from experts: Aaron David Miller tells us... "Since he never mentioned it before, this is an indication that this will be in the peace plan, when it's presented. What he did today was make a pretty clear statement, in principle."

-- Elliott Abrams emails us... "First, endorsing the two-state solution is nothing new and will be in the peace plan. As to chips, that arises in the context of significant PLO concessions. I’m not holding my breath."

-- Former U.S. Amb. Dan Shapiro: "Trump has often said, correctly, that bringing about Israeli-Palestinian peace requires acknowledging certain truths, like that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It's good to see that he finally got around to acknowledging another one: that the two-state solution is the best (actually only) way to end the conflict. I don't understand why it took so long. The acknowledgement is welcome, but the delay in getting here lengthened the already long odds of success if and when Trump's peace plan is presented."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold a meeting today with senior officials representing 40 countries and international organizations to discuss ways to block or influence the U.S. Middle East peace plan. It will take place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, under the theme: "Salvaging the Two-State Solution, Defending the International Rules-Based System." [Axios]

Israel's Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni met with Abbas last night in New York. In a statement, Livni said she urged Abbas to resume talks with the United States "on the basis of the principle of the two nation-states." [Pic]

The World Jewish Congress will join UNESCO for a special discussion on the power of education in preventing racism and discrimination, with a particular focus on anti-Semitism at the UN headquarters. Speakers include UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, WJC President Ron Lauder, and Professor Deborah Lipstadt, among others.

ON THE HILL — Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to President Trump urging him to publicly press Iran to return Robert Levinson.

Former Ambassador Dan Shapiro writes... "How to make Russia back off in the Middle East: A solidarity visit to Israel by a senior US defense official is in order. The United States should encourage a chorus of other countries to join in condemning Iranian military adventures in Syria. This week’s UN Security Council session that Trump will chair presents an excellent opportunity." [NYPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) annual summit in New York City: "This [Iranian] regime – this regime led by Rouhani and Zarif – provides over $100 million each year to terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The most hypocritical part about this is that the Ayatollah claims he cares about Palestinians. But from 2008 to 2017, Iran gave a total of $20,000 to the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees. Meanwhile, the United States gave nearly $3 billion over the same period, 150,000 [times] more money to support the Palestinians than the terror regime in Iran." [Video]

National Security Advisor John Bolton: "I might imagine [Iran] would take me seriously when I assure them today: If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay... The United States is not naive. We will not be duped, cheated or intimidated. The days of impunity for Tehran and its enablers are over." [Video] John Bolton Warns of ‘Terrible Consequences’ for Those Doing Business with Iran [NYTimes]

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, UAE ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba and State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook discussed the Iranian threat in a panel discussion. Israeli Mossad Director Yossi Cohen's remarks at a later panel were off-the-record. [Newsweek]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: For Nikki Haley, a lower profile as Trump heads back to the U.N. — by Anne Gearan and John Hudson: “A pair of incidents in which Haley announced policies or plans that were quickly changed also raised questions about her footing in the administration as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton took over from more passive and ideologically moderate aides… At the same time, Haley’s influence at the United Nations has been blunted by Trump policy decisions that many other nations opposed, including recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, cutting aid to Palestinians and announcing a U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council.”

“Haley's unapologetic defense of Israel cemented her support among a pro-Israel donor class that could prove useful if she pursues higher political office. “She scored points with the people she wanted to score points with, especially the AIPAC crowd,” [a] former official said… Though Haley could walk away from the Trump administration at any time claiming experience with some of the weightiest foreign policy issues of the day, she appears less prone to an early exit than others, said a senior administration official… “I do get the rumors of who’s on the up and who’s on the down, and Nikki’s name just hasn’t come up lately,” the official said.” [WashPost]

HEARD THIS MORNING — Haley on Fox & Friends: "I have not thought once about running for president. You know, these things when people talk about 2020. I would never run against the President. I would campaign for the President. I mean, without questions, he's done such a great job. And so, I am good about not thinking about the future."

DONOR CIRCUIT — Kushner's mission improbable: Winning over wealthy Trump skeptics — by Alex Isenstadt: “The 37-year-old Trump senior adviser has attended at least four donor gatherings since August, and those close to [Jared Kushner] say he may soon appear at more. He has been in regular contact with Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson… The two spoke last week... Dan Senor, a former George W. Bush administration official and confidante of Singer and House Speaker Paul Ryan, has helped Kushner navigate some of his outreach.”

"After Labor Day, Kushner attended a dinner at New York City’s Pierre Hotel that drew an elite crowd of donors, think tank leaders, and foreign policy elders from both parties… With Paul Singer at one side of a long table and Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban at the other, Kushner… engaged in a free-flowing conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process... In an interview, Saban said he and Kushner speak several times a month… “He clearly has the president's ear. He clearly, when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship, is familiar with the issues and has access at the highest level,” said Saban, who added that he remains a Democrat.” [Politico]

Sheldon Adelson Sees a Lot to Like in Trump’s Washington — by Jeremy Peters: "Mr. Adelson in particular enjoys a direct line to the president. In private in-person meetings and phone conversations, which occur between the two men about once a month, he has used his access to push the president to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and, more recently, cut aid to the Palestinians... Republican control of the House and the Senate is so vital to maintaining these policies, the Adelsons believe, that they have given $55 million in the last few months to groups dedicated to making sure it stays that way. That makes them... the biggest spenders on federal elections in all of American politics."

-- Ari Fleischer talks matzo during Sukkot (15/15): “I think there are a lot of leaders in the establishment Jewish community for whom Donald Trump is not the kind of guy they’d want to break matzo with, but they sure like his policies and what he’s doing.” [NYTimes]

Aaron David Miller writes... "Jared Kushner’s Jewishness Won’t Doom His Peace Plan. This Will: The problem with Trump’s Middle East team is not that it’s made up of “a bunch of Orthodox Jews” as Haim Saban put it... Trump’s team, helmed by Kushner, Greenblatt and David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer, are pursuing an approach that hews far more closely to a Netanyahu narrative... right now, it seems as though the Trump Administration, both in their approach toward Israel and their pressure campaign against the Palestinians, are doing a lot of lawyering for the Israelis — instead of for a deal that both can accept." [Forward]

MIDTERMS — Why Cory (Not-Running-for-Anything) Booker Is Stumping Nonstop in New Jersey — by Nick Corasaniti: "With his home state suddenly a key battleground in the midterms — with four of the five Republican-held seats considered vulnerable and an unexpectedly tough battle to salvage the Democratic seat of his friend and mentor Senator Robert Menendez — Mr. Booker was blitzing more familiar terrain on a late September weekend, as the not-running-for-anything-right-now senator continued his relentless presence on the campaign trail... Mr. Booker’s growing national presence brought the obvious question: “Is there any chance that you would run for president?” said Ruthanne Swartz, 73, as she pushed her cart through a parking lot after Mr. Booker’s rally with [Tom] Malinowski. The senator paused, turned to the woman and smiled. “I’m honored, but I’m focused on the midterms first,” he said." [NYTimes]

** 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: Safra Catz's Oracle Acquires Tel Aviv-Based User Training Startup Iridize [Calcalist] Janice Min is joining Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video startup NewTV [Deadline] When Mark Zuckerberg Asserted Control, Instagram’s Founders Chafed [NYT] Michael Dell’s MSD Capital buying 1 Hotel South Beach for more than $500M [TheRealDeal; CommercialObserver] Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry invests $250K in Milwaukee corporate rental startup [Bizjournals] Israel's tech scene is red-hot, but there are few Arab-led startups — Itzik Frid, a top venture capitalist, thinks he knows why [BusinessInsider]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Ohio’s Schottensteins fund Green Growth Brands pot operations — by Craig Giammona: "A cannabis company backed by the retail fortune of Ohio’s Schottenstein family has raised about $65 million as it prepares to be publicly traded in Canada. Green Growth Brands, which is run by former Victoria’s Secret and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. executive Peter Horvath, has purchased an existing marijuana operation in the Las Vegas area and is looking to get licenses to operate in Massachusetts, Florida and New Jersey." [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION — Chicago company to buy on-campus food ordering service Tapingo for $150M — by Ally Marotti: "Tapingo's technology enables users to order ahead at on-campus cafes, restaurants and other stores. It can be integrated with college meal plans. Tapingo has about 90 employees and is co-headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, and San Francisco... Once the deal closes, the company will have clearer plans on whether any Tapingo employees will come to Chicago, Grubhub spokeswoman Katie Norris said. Having a presence in Israel will open Grubhub up to the tech talent in the region." [ChicagoTribune]

Has Anyone Seen Roman Abramovich? The Last Days of Londongrad — by Stephanie Baker, David Hellier and Irina Reznik: "Arguably the most secretive Russian billionaire, Abramovich hasn’t given an interview in more than a decade. “To be exact, it’s been 12.5 years!” his spokesman, John Mann, wrote in an email. Having bought homes in Aspen, Colo., the south of France, Moscow, New York, St. Barts, and Tel Aviv, Abramovich is almost constantly on one of his jets. Nonetheless, he’s the very avatar of Londongrad, the nickname given to the British capital because of the high number of wealthy Russians there... A major donor to Jewish causes in Russia and a funder of more than a dozen Israeli tech startups and venture capital companies, Abramovich left two days later with an Israeli passport in hand, allowing him to travel to the U.K. for up to six months visa-free. (It’s unclear when he applied for citizenship.)" [Bloomberg]

Florida man register to lobby for Israel, Haiti — by Theodoric Meyer and Marianne LeVine: "Josue Larose, a Florida lobbyist notorious for registering hundreds of inactive PACs and super PACs over the years, has registered to lobby for the Israeli and Haitian governments through his company, the American Federal Lobbying Firm. In an unusual move, Larose registered with Congress under domestic lobbying rules, even though the Foreign Agents Registration Act requires lobbyists for foreign governments to register with the Justice Department instead... Both registrations state that Larose will lobby the White House, Congress and various agencies to secure more than $900 million in aid for each country." [PoliticoInfluence]

Israel opens high-speed rail link between Tel Aviv airport and Jerusalem — by Ori Lewis: "Israel opened a high-speed rail link between Tel Aviv’s international airport and Jerusalem on Tuesday, part of a $2 billion project that has drawn Palestinian complaints over its route through small parts of the occupied West Bank. The train will cut travel time between Ben-Gurion Airport and a new, 80-metre-(260-foot)-deep underground terminal at the entrance to Jerusalem to around 20 minutes." [Reuters]

HOLLYWOOD — How Hollywood Redeemed Mel Gibson — by David Sims: "When rehabilitating one’s reputation and celebrity, a huge factor is, of course, time. The shocking revelations of Gibson’s behavior are currently several years old. Gibson himself appears to understand the effectiveness of framing his actions as part of the distant past, thus downplaying their continued relevance." [TheAtlantic]

ACROSS THE POND — Corbyn says UK will immediately recognize Palestinian state if he’s elected: “The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said Wednesday that he would immediately recognize a Palestinian state if elected to lead the country... "And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognize a Palestinian state as soon as we take office,” Corbyn announced, receiving the most prolonged standing ovation in the speech." [ToI]

Jewish event at Labour conference abandoned after bomb scare — by Kevin Rawlinson: "The building hosting the event in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter was evacuated after a phone call from a man specifically mentioning Jews and saying that two devices would cause mass casualties.” [TheGuardian]

TRANSITION ― Erika Naegeli has been promoted as the media relations associate at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, replacing Ian Byrne, who will attend Johns Hopkins SAIS and study international economics and strategic studies, the first year in Bologna, Italy. Naegeli was previously a research assistant with the Iran Security Initiative at The Washington Institute.

Isaac Dovere, currently chief Washington correspondent at Politico and host of the "Off Message" podcast, is joining The Atlantic. h/t Playbook

DESSERT — The Jewish deli is having a moment in places where you’d least expect it — by Michael Kaminer: "Memories drove Jerrod Rosen, 37, to open Rye Society, the compact deli he debuted in July in Denver’s buzzing River North Art District. “My mom had four sisters, and my dad had three. There were lots of Jewish holidays with lots of food,” said Rosen... “I wanted to open a place with soul that would pick up those traditions. Denver didn’t have one.” ... Beneath giant portraits of Larry David, Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman — “a Jewish hall of fame,” he said with a laugh — Rosen serves macrobiotic plates, kale salads and a “grown-up grilled cheese” called the Gentile alongside family-recipe matzoh ball soup and his Aunt Cindy’s rugelach." [WashPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Vice Chairman and a Director of Capital International, Inc. and long-time Board Chair of the Hudson Institute, Walter Phillips Stern turns 90... Stage, film and television actor, he is best known as "The Most Interesting Man in the World" appearing in Dos Equis beer commercials (2006-2016), Jonathan Goldsmith turns 80... Edward Karesky turns 71... CEO of Israel Longhorn Project, dedicated to bringing Texas Longhorn Cattle home to Israel, Robin Rosenblatt turns 70... Five Towns (NY) resident, Barry Mandel turns 70... Former chairman and CEO of the French engineering conglomerate Alstom, he is on the board of Sanofi, a global heathcare company and is the son of Holocaust survivors, Patrick Kron turns 65... Senior political adviser to President Bill Clinton during his second term and co-author of a New York Times best-seller on the future of politics in the United States, Doug Sosnik turns 62...

Teaneck-resident with a Jersey City dental practice, Paul Lustiger, DDS turns 62... Historian, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Kagan turns 60... Chief of Staff to Ohio Senator Rob Portman, following a long career as a DC lobbyist, Mark Isakowitz turns 52... Head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets men's basketball team, he was the 2017 ACC Coach of the Year, Josh Pastner turns 41... Former Communications Director for NY Governor Paterson, Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Jane Harman, she now heads a NYC based PR firm, Risa Beth Heller tuns 39... NYC-based senior editor of global digital video programming at Bloomberg LP, Henry Seltzer turns 33...

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