Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: August 10, 2017

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Actress Natalie Portman before the 83rd Academy Awards, February 27, 2011.
Actress Natalie Portman before the 83rd Academy Awards, February 27, 2011.Credit: AP
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TOP TALKER: “Israel Held Secret Talks With Russia, U.S. Over Cease-fire in Southern Syria” by Barak Ravid: “Israel, the United States and Russia held a series of secret meetings early last month in Amman and in a European capital regarding the cease-fire in southern Syria The Israeli team included top representatives of the Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, Mossad and the Israel Defense Forces. The American team was led by President Donald Trump’s special envoys on Syria, Michael Ratney and Brett McGurk The Israelis told the Russians and the Americans that they had to demand from the Iranians that the Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah and the Shi’ite militias in Syria must leave the country.” [Haaretz

"Facing Palestinian criticism, White House says closeness to Israel is an asset” by Michael Willner, Adam Rasgon and Herb Keinon: “This is a way for the Palestinians to try and message the administration: We have to see some sign that you in fact take our interests into account,” said Dennis Ross. White House officials say that Abbas takes the Trump team more seriously knowing that Kushner and Greenblatt are personally close with the Israelis – a distinction from members of the Obama administration. “What they mean to say is that, ‘because we’re close to the Israelis, we have the ability to influence Israeli behavior,’” Ross said. “And that indeed could benefit the Palestinians, to an extent.” [JPost]  Abbas issues new demands of Israel, but is quietly still arresting terror suspects [ToI]

JARED INSIDER: “Behind The Jared And Ivanka PR Machine” by Steven Perlberg: “On a Thursday late last month... Jared Kushner paused in the West Wing to chat with ABC’s Jonathan Karl and his daughter, who worked as a CNN summer intern. Kushner told Karl’s daughter that it must be interesting to be a reporter, because you always have to figure out who is going to lie to you When Kushner thought he noticed another reporter, New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, recording the exchange, he was startled and said it was off the record. He then uncomfortably asked Nuzzi to delete the recording, which she did not do. A few minutes later, after Kushner had left, a Secret Service agent and a press assistant approached Nuzzi and told her she was not permitted to record (she is).”

“A product of the ruthless New York corporate arena, [Josh] Raffel conducts the “blocking and tackling” for Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, routinely making the couple available for off-the-record chats, sources say. He’s smart and good-humored, and reporters who’ve battled with him say he comfortably oscillates between friendly chatter and aggressiveness. One White House reporter said he’s the most competent staffer in the West Wing Sources say Raffel is intensely loyal to the couple The couple trusts Raffel, whom Kushner has known for years, more than the White House communications department, and, according to sources close to them, they want him to be their press steward.” [BuzzFeed

DRIVING THE CONVO: "Elizabeth Warren Comes Out Against Senate's Anti-BDS Bill" by David Colon: "Warren, who was never a sponsor of the bill, was asked about it by a constituent at a town hall last night. In response, she said that while she disagreed with BDS, she also said that 'outlawing free speech-protected activity violates our basic constitution.'" [Gothamist]

NY Post editorial Democrats’ latest anti-Israel turn: "The White House hopefuls may be responding to the shift by the party’s base against Israel Then again, [Chuck] Schumer is 66 and [Steny] Hoyer 78, while [Cory] Booker’s 48 and [Kirsten] Gillibrand 50. In the Democratic Party, reliable support for Israel looks to be a thing of the past.” [NYPost

An NJDC spokesman emails us... "Saying that the Democratic Party is anti-Israel is both detached from reality and an easy way to kill bipartisan pro-Israel support. We must work to keep fighting for the US-Israel relationship as a bipartisan issue, especially during the erratic Trump administration. This is too important of an issue to fall victim to increasing partisanship."

ON THE HILL -- Four Democratic Senators advocate for Palestinian Issa Amro -- by Aaron Magid: Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson advocating for Palestinian activist Issa Amro who has been charged by the Israeli military court system, a Congressional staffer told Jewish Insider. A similar petition was submitted in the House and backed by 34 Democrats.

“It was a private letter raising the case of Issa Amro asking him to monitor the case citing the State Department’s own human rights report, which had mentioned Amro’s case,” the Senate staffer explained. Ha’aretz reported that Amro’s charges are for “spitting at a settler, obstructing soldiers and insulting them.” ... “We fear that Israeli military courts deliberating over Mr. Amro’s charges will be unlikely to render a fair and impartial verdict given that the conviction rate within that system is 99.74 percent,” the House letter noted. 

Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of Law at Northwestern University, blasted the Democratic House letter and told us last month, “Just as Israel does not seek to politicize the treatment of U.S. security detainees, U.S. Congressmen should not meddle in this matter.”

DRIVING THE DAY -- Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S.” by Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun: “This is a more dangerous moment than faced by Trump’s predecessors,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit group in Washington. “The normal nuanced diplomatic rhetoric coming out of Washington hasn’t worked in persuading the Kim regime of American resolve. This language underscores that the most powerful country in the world has its own escalatory and retaliatory options.” [NYTimes

HEARD YESTERDAY - Former Senator Joe Lieberman on i24News’ Crossroads: “I know that a lot of people will criticize President Trump for the language he used towards North Korea today, but as far as I am concerned, we have tried just about everything else and it hasn’t worked So, I don’t mind the strong language. The question is: what next? Because this is an unstable, unpredictable leader of North Korea.. [Prompting China to act] could be the most immediate the most positive response to what President Trump has said. The Chinese may worry that they don’t know exactly what President Trump would do. He might take military action, which would destabilize the entire area, probably create massive refugees flows from North Korea into China, which the Chinese don’t want.”

Eliot A. Cohen: "America Is Not Ready for a War in North Korea" [TheAtlantic]

MORE ON TRUMP'S PLATE -- “Iranian drone comes close to U.S. fighter jet: U.S. official” by Idrees Ali: “An unarmed Iranian drone came within 100 feet (31 meters) of a U.S. Navy warplane as it prepared to land on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, a U.S. official said on Tuesday This appears to be the first time an Iranian drone has come dangerously close to a U.S. fighter plane in the Gulf.” [Reuters

"Getting Trump Out of My Brain" by David Brooks: "If Trump falls in disgrace or defeat, and people’s partisan pride is no longer at stake, I hope that even his supporters will have enough moral memory to acknowledge that character really does matter... But where are people going to go for a new standard of decency? They’re not going to go back to the old WASP ideal. That’s dead. Trump revealed the vacuum, but who is going to fill it and with what? I could describe a similar vacuum when it comes to domestic policy thinking, to American identity, to America’s role in the world. Trump exposes the void but doesn’t fill it. That’s why the reaction against Trump is now more important than the man himself." [NYTimes]

WSJ editorial... McMaster and the Commander: "Mr. Trump may worry about the damage Mr. Bannon and his allies could do to his Administration if he is no longer part of the White House team. But if his minions continue to vilify his colleagues inside the White House, how can anyone tell the difference?" [WSJ]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Investigations Intensifying, Israel Imagines Life After Netanyahu” by Isabel Kershner: “There is, as yet, no clear contender to replace Mr. Netanyahu An Israel without Mr. Netanyahu at the helm would, in any case, be an unfamiliar place for its inhabitants, the Middle East and the world The Israeli leader has also become a fixture at the annual meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, showcasing a combative, theatrical style of diplomacy.... His tenure has been one of impasse in the Palestinian peace process. But inside Israel, he is credited with having maintained stability as Arab neighbors descended into chaos. A departure would leave Israel, its allies and its enemies in uncharted terrain The notion that there is nobody to replace Mr. Netanyahu holds “until it happens,” Professor [Gadi] Wolfsfeld said. “They said nobody could replace Ben-Gurion.”” [NYTimesLATimes

KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Thousands of Likudniks are expected to gather this evening in Tel Aviv for a mass rally and demonstration of support for Netanyahu. The rally was scheduled in the wake of all of the PM's legal troubles and the Likud has been preparing quite a buildup for the event. Bibi himself is the keynote speaker and everyone is waiting for his speech, in which he is likely to address the latest developments in his investigations. A senior Likud figure told Kafe Knesset that he believes Netanyahu will be putting on quite a show. "It will be a declaration of war - on everyone - from the media to the Left - and even on law enforcement authorities." 

Not in the bag anymore? As if Netanyahu doesn’t have enough to worry about, senior United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni referred to an interesting letter in a talk to yeshiva students this week, according to a Walla! News report. Gafni recounted that Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, who was the undisputed head of the Lithuanian Haredi community while he was alive, wrote a letter to former Prime Minister Menachem Begin while he was negotiating peace with Egypt that it is permissible to evacuate settlements for peace. “Concessions made only for peace are not considered concessions, and when God has mercy on us and the time comes, the ceded land will all be returned to us,” Rabbi Shach wrote... Haredi parties have long been reliable members of any right-wing government. Is Gafni hinting to Netanyahu that they aren’t his natural partners anymore anymore? Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

2020 WATCH -- “Fundraising slows at pro-Trump super PACs” by Megan Wilson: “Future45, which collected $20 million of its $25 million in donations from Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson during the 2016 campaign, had zero donors so far this year Of all the pro-Trump super PACs, Future45 had the least left in its coffers and also the smallest amount of operating costs in the first half of the year— spending just over $19,000, which could indicate it is shutting down or going on hiatus.” [TheHill

“Mark Zuckerberg’s Political Ambitions Are Grander Than You Think” by Nick Bilton: “The reaction to the rumors, though, were sometimes stranger than the potential of a Zuckerberg presidency. On the left, a lot of people applauded the notion of a tech genius running for office... Some in the alt-right reduced the prospect of Zuckerberg, who is of Jewish heritage, in the White House to horrifying racist screeds... One person who interacts with Zuckerberg on a regular basis theorized that maybe Zuckerberg is leaving open the option to run for office one day in the very distant future, or that he could try running for lesser office to better understand how government works.” [VanityFair

** 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: After A Comeback, Anne Wojcicki's 23andMe Faces Its Next Test [FastCompany]  By Buying Israeli Mobileye, Intel Jumps Firmly Into Driverless Car Race [NYTimes]  Nielsen buys AI sports marketing co vBrand [Globes]  WeWork grows Seattle footprint with biggest deal yet in a project developed by Martin Selig [ConstructionDive]  With $5.3 million in funding, Yinon Weiss' CarDash wants to change how you get your car serviced [TechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT: "It’s Not Just You: These Super Successful People Suffer From Imposter Syndrome" by Stephanie Vozza: "You might be surprised at the people who admit to feeling like an imposter. While a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society at Harvard University, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg felt she didn’t deserve to be there. “Every time I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself,” she writes in her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. “Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself — or even excelled — I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up.”

"Actress and fellow Harvard alum Natalie Portman shared her continued feelings of inadequacy with the school’s 2015 graduating class in a commencement speech. “Today I feel much like I did when I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999,” she said. “I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”

"Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz admitted to being insecure: “Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the CEO. They’re not going to tell you that, but it’s true.” Schultz says a CEO’s willingness to feel insecure is not a weakness, but only when used properly. “I would say one of the underlying strengths of a great leader and a great CEO—not all the time but when appropriate—is to demonstrate vulnerability, because that will bring people closer to you and show people the human side of you.” [FastCompany]

PROFILE: "The Hotelier Who Reinvigorated a New York Neighborhood Heads to Vegas" by Nikki Ekstein: "With his next project, New York’s NoMad, Andrew Zobler put himself in charge of the whole thing, including operations. “I wanted to prove to myself and to the world that I could create a hotel,” he says... With the opening next year of the Park MGM in Las Vegas, which he’s undertaking with the namesake casino giant, Zobler is looking beyond boutique hotels to megaproperties with mega social scenes... Convention hotels, Zobler says, don’t have to be as boring as they usually are: “To me, that’s the next chapter.”" [Bloomberg]

--"Despite his reluctance, when Zobler does talk about his background, it’s very telling. He starts with his two larger-than-life grandmothers. He inherited his ambition from his Holocaust-survivor paternal grandmother. “She had the idea that we survived for a reason,” he says. “That we should do something of importance.” He attributes his aesthetic sense to his maternal grandmother, Sydell, for whom the company is named." [Surface]

"El Chapo Gives Up Public Defenders and Hires a Private Lawyer" by Alan Feuer: "While traveling in Israel on Tuesday, [Jeffrey] Lichtman confirmed in an email that he had been retained by Mr. Guzmán, whom he will now defend against a sprawling international conspiracy indictment that was filed against him in January by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn." [NYTimes]

"FBI: Teen Sold Bomb Threats Against Schools, Jewish Centers on the Dark Web” by Kelly Weill: “Michael Kadar, 19, was arrested in Israel in March, under suspicion that he was behind a wave of bomb threats targeting U.S. institutions. When Israeli police raided the Kadar’s bedroom, they found a flash drive containing the teen’s personal records on his alleged bomb threats U.S. officials allege in newly unsealed court documents that he was running a bomb threat business on the dark web marketplace AlphaBay The post offered refunds for unsuccessful bomb threats, and tiered pricing ranging from $30 for a single threat, to $90 for “emailed bomb threat to a school districts\multiple schools + framing someone for it.”” [DailyBeast; NYTimes

MEDIA WATCH: "When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism" by Franklin Foer: "Makers of magazines and newspapers used to think of their product as a coherent package—an issue, an edition, an institution. They did not see themselves as the publishers of dozens of discrete pieces to be trafficked each day on Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Thinking about bundling articles into something larger was intellectually liberating... Journalism has performed so admirably in the aftermath of Trump’s victory that it has grown harder to see the profession’s underlying rot. Now each assignment is subjected to a cost-benefit analysis—will the article earn enough traffic to justify the investment? Sometimes the analysis is explicit and conscious, though in most cases it’s subconscious and embedded in euphemism." [TheAtlantic]

TRANSITION -- Hadas Gold tweets: "I’m starting a new chapter and a new beat! I’m joining CNN to cover European politics, media, & global business. This is a bittersweet moment - I LOVE Politico and the people here. I am forever indebted to Politico, my editors and colleagues. I joined Politico 5 years ago -- my first real journalism job. There aren't enough words to express my gratitude to for giving me a chance. I’m excited for this new opportunity CNN covering Europe's changing dynamics and how it deals with U.S." [Twitter]

“Welcoming Gretchen Hammond to Tablet” by Alana Newhouse: “Starting this month, Gretchen Rachel Hammond will be writing full-time for Tablet, as part of a year-long fellowship at the magazine On June 24, Hammond broke the news that three women flying Pride flags festooned with the Star of David were forced by organizers to leave Chicago’s Dyke March—setting off a massive news story and a national conversation about anti-Semitism on the left. One week later, Gretchen was reassigned to nonjournalistic duties at the paper.” [Tablet

“Remembering Arlene Gottfried: Legendary New York City Street Photographer” by Paul Moakley: “Gottfried, who died at 66 on Aug. 8 of complications from cancer, according to her family, was born and raised in Brooklyn with her sister, Karen, who became a muse for much of her work, and a surprisingly camera shy brother, the comedian Gilbert Gottfried As a shy, young Jewish girl with a head of curly hair, her identity was ambiguous and could fit in anywhere. She always carried a camera and as she got older, she carried a point-and-shoot in her purse. Over the span of three decades, Gottfried published five books that taken together can serve as photo albums of her life.” [TIME

SPORTS BLINK: “Blatt remaining patient as he waits for another NBA opportunity” by Allon Sinai: “I have an end game and that end game is that I would really like to go back to the NBA,” Blatt told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “There were no changes in the NBA this year from a coaching standpoint and my real goal is to try next year to get back into the league as a head coach. It may happen and it may not happen. But I wanted to leave that door open for myself if the opportunity arises.” [JPost

"The New Moneyball, With Lots and Lots of Money" by Jared Diamond: "Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi took over the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office before the 2015 season and quickly drew the ire of a city built on the power of stardom. Inheriting a record payroll and massive expectations, they began running the Dodgers less like baseball’s wealthiest organization and more like the small-market teams they came from: They shunned the most expensive free agents and headline-grabbing trades in favor of protecting the farm system and adding complementary pieces of the puzzle." [WSJ]

'NEW AIR-KRAFTS' -- Patriots Become 1st NFL Franchise to Buy a Team Plane: "They only figuratively own the New York Jets, but the defending champions now own two wide-body jets. According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, the Patriots bought a pair of 767 Boeing aircrafts." [BleacherReport; ESPN]

DESSERT: "At Nur, an Open-Armed Approach to Middle Eastern Flavors' by Pete Wells: "For long commutes, few chefs can top the one that Meir Adoni has been making since he opened a Middle Eastern restaurant called Nur on East 20th Street in April. He splits his time between Manhattan; Tel Aviv, the site of his two other restaurants; and his home outside Jerusalem... The plates have energy. At times, in fact, they don’t know when to quit. The sauces and powders and garnishes proliferate so quickly that it’s hard to keep count... Nur’s menu embraces Morocco and Libya in North Africa, in addition to Israel, Yemen and Syria; again, it’s hard to keep count. His vision of his part of the globe is pluralistic." [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Physicist and venture capitalist, co-founder and general partner of New Markets Venture Partners, Donald M. "Don" Spero, Ph.D. turns 78... Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ABC News for more than 20 years, then a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Carl Robert Zelnick turns 77... Host of Showtime's "Inside Comedy," son of a Rabbi, he has appeared 130 times on Johnny Carson, David Steinberg turns 75... Romance novelist with 19 books on the NYT bestseller lists, Barbara Delinsky (born Barbara Ruth Greenberg) turns 72... Author of 36 Jewish themed books, founder of Rossel Books, he lectures on Israel, the Holocaust, Bible, archaeology, spirituality, Jewish history and Jewish education, Seymour Rossel turns 72... Psychologist and bestselling suspense novelist, Jonathan Kellerman turns 68... Southern California resident, Faith Schames turns 66... Member of the Minnesota Senate since 2007, following four years in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Ronald Steven "Ron" Latz turns 54... Chief of Staff for Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Amy B. Rutkin turns 48...

Kiev-born, member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 2007 from Montgomery County, Kirill Reznik turns 43... Reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times since 2017, previously Chief Investigative Reporter for Politico (2007-2017), Kenneth P. Vogel turns 42... Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, Jacob Baime turns 32... South Pasadena, California resident, Giovanna Fradkin... Senior counselor at at Dezenhall Resources since April 2017, previously communications director for the Republican Jewish Coalition and an RNC alum, Fred Brown... Partner at Hilltop Public Solutions, who served as Special Advisor to NYC Mayor de Blasio, Rebecca Kirszner Katz... Researcher at the London School of Economics, previously a public affairs / political intern in the DC office of SKDKnickerbocker, Isaac Lederman... Amanda Isaacson... Elise Aronson (h/ts Playbook)... Dan Zimerman... Mark Shapiro...

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