Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: August 14, 2017

Israeli officials doubt US taking their concerns on Syria seriously | Pence calls out neo-Nazis by name | Drahi looks to buy Yedioth

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a joint press conference with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos at the presidential guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia, Aug. 13, 2017.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a joint press conference with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos at the presidential guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia, Aug. 13, 2017.Credit: Fernando Vergara/AP

Have our people email your people. Share this sign up link with your friends 

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Bibi to send delegation to the White House” by Jonathan Swan: “The Israeli government appears to be signaling confidence in [H.R. McMaster] and his colleagues in the White House's national security team. A senior administration official tells me Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is sending leading security officials from his government to the U.S. later this week to meet with McMaster, Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt... The meetings "will primarily focus on Israeli security matters vis a vis Lebanon and Syria and are not focused on the ongoing peace conversations." Jared Kushner and Greenblatt helped arrange the meetings, which have been several weeks in the making.” [Axios

KAFE KNESSET -- Israeli frustration with US position on Syria -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: As Haaretz reported last week, senior Israeli officials held secret talks with the US and Russia before the South Syria cease-fire deal, and presented Jerusalem’s reservations. Two senior Israeli officials told Kafe Knesset that there are ongoing efforts to convey Jerusalem's concern with the permanent Iranian presence the agreement establishes. "It is the biggest challenge we are dealing with these days, and we are trying to create as much pressure as we can, though we are doubtful that our goals are being considered by the US," one of them said. Another senior source told Kafe Knesset that "it appears that quiet diplomacy efforts are failing on this matter, no one is taking our concerns into account.” 

Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett decided that quiet diplomacy is not enough. Bennett launched a Hasbara campaign last week in an attempt to rally US public opinion to Israel's positions. First, he published a WSJ op-ed in which he warned of Iran's intentions to use the Syrian post-war arrangements to expand to the Mediterranean. On Thursday evening, Bennett posted an English-speaking Facebook video in which he urged "to get together and stop Iran before it's too late." According to Bennett, "While we fight ISIS, the real danger is growing. Right now, Iran is building a Shiite corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean coast. This corridor is an Iranian dream. It is a highway to transfer weapons. It is a highway to transfer extremism. It will bring Iranian aircraft to striking range of Europe. It will bring Iranian ships and submarines to the Mediterranean.” Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

White House sees ‘opportunity for peace' following Temple Mount crisis: Jared Kushner is expected to return to the Middle East region later this month in a continued effort to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Kushner will be joined by Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell. The U.S. negotiation team will be meeting with leaders from Israel, Palestinian Authority, and Gulf states – Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Senior White House official: Trump believes that the restoration of calm in Jerusalem after the recent Temple Mount crisis “has created an opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace that began early in his administration... The President has asked that these discussions focus on the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combatting extremism, the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there, strengthening our relations with regional partners and the economic steps that can be taken both now and after a peace deal is signed to ensure security, stability and prosperity for the region.” [JewishInsider

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at start of weekly cabinet meeting yesterday: “Of course, we will welcome them as always.”

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH: “PA official says Palestinians 'excluded' from peace efforts” by Daniel Siryoti: “A senior official who works under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas even told Israel Hayom that apart from the lack of faith and the disagreements between Abbas' staff and the team appointed by Trump, Abbas has completely lost faith in Kushner "Washington is marching to Israel's drum and accepting every mistake it makes, while dismissing the Palestinians," the official said.” [IsraelHayom]  Palestinian official: Trump's true test is his support of two states [JPost

“Could there be a worse time for the arrival of a US peace delegation?” by Avi Issacharoff: “When Abbas first became prime minister in 2003, then-Israeli premier Ariel Sharon described him as a “chick without feathers.” That description could now be extended beyond Ramallah. Three ragged birds (Trump, Netanyahu and Abbas), dogged by political and legal troubles that severely limit their maneuvering room, are unlikely to find the will or political capability to advance any sort of peace agreement.” [ToI

Can the Trump administration prevent another Gaza war? -- by Aaron Magid: Within a span of six years, Israel and Hamas have fought three bloody resulting in thousands of casualties. Gaza remains one of the most sensitive and explosive areas dividing Israelis and Palestinians. A senior Israeli military official noted in April that the severe electricity crisis facing Gaza may lead to an imminent clash. With the Trump administration announcing last week that it will send top advisors to the region once again to secure the “ultimate deal,” the question remains what is the most effective U.S. policy to prevent a fourth Hamas-Israel war and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza? 

“If the administration’s concern was the plight of Gazans then there would and should have been some pushback when (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas decided to cut off funding for the electricity,” explained Grant Rumley, a researcher at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). ... Professor Alan Dershowitz called for a hawkish U.S. approach towards Gaza. “The policy should be to see the destruction of Hamas and see the people of Gaza wanting to associate themselves with the peace camp and the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “I don’t think the U.S. should be helping Gaza economically since every time they have been given resources, they have diverted it to terror tunnels and rockets." 

White House official tells us... “The United States continues to look for ways that we can lawfully expand our assistance to the people of Gaza and alleviate their suffering.  When we have more concrete details to provide, we will do so." [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE CONVO: “White House Acts to Stem Fallout From Trump’s First Charlottesville Remarks” by Glenn Thrush and Rebecca R. Ruiz: “A statement on Sunday — issued more than 36 hours after the protests began — condemned “white supremacists” for the violence that led to one death It was not attributed directly to Mr. Trump, who often uses Twitter to communicate directly on controversial topics The email was sent “in response” to questions about Mr. Trump’s remarks, in which he blamed the unrest “on many sides” while speaking on Saturday... The president’s reluctance to speak out with force and moral indignation against the white nationalists who incited the most serious racial episode of his presidency elicited deep feelings of disappointment spanning the ideological spectrum."  

"Mr. Trump consulted a broad range of advisers before speaking on Saturday, most of whom told him to sharply criticize the white nationalist protesters Two hard-edge economic populists — Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and Stephen Miller, a senior adviser — spoke with Mr. Trump repeatedly on Saturday Mr. Trump listened attentively but repeatedly steered the conversation to the breakdown of “law and order,” and the responsibility of local officials to stem the violence.” [NYTimes

NY Post editorial Trump badly missed the mark on Charlottesville: “It shouldn’t be that hard to summon up a few Trumpian terms like “losers” and “really, really bad people” to describe the hundreds of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white supremacists You don’t have to be any kind of radical to be anti-Nazi.” [NYPost

Alan Dershowitz : "The president has a special obligation to condemn those bigots who claim to act in his name. I hope he will do that." [Twitter]

Bill Kristol “I've got to say, I'm sick of the imploring & pleading with Donald Trump to say the right thing. He said what he meant & meant what he said.” [Twitter

“Scaramucci criticizes Trump’s Charlottesville statement: ‘I think he needed to be much harsher’” by Kristine Phillips and John Wagner: “[Anthony Scaramucci] also said that Trump’s aides and advisers are “probably reluctant” to be truthful with him and suggested that the president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, would be the ones who can do that. “I don’t think you’re going to change the president,” Scaramucci said... “But I think it’s important for the people around him to give them direct advice, to be blunt with him.”” [WashPost]  Ivanka Trump said the things her dad wouldn’t on Charlottesville [NYDailyNews

PENCE STEPS IN -- Vice President Mike Pence in Colombia: "We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms I will say I take issue with the fact that many in the national media spent more time criticizing the president’s words than they did criticizing those that perpetrated the violence to begin with.”

“‘Jews will not replace us’: Why white supremacists go after Jews” by Yair Rosenberg: “They immediately went after the Jews. At their Friday night rally at the University of Virginia, the white nationalists brandished torches and chanted anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans The attendees proudly displayed giant swastikas and wore shirts emblazoned with quotes from Adolf Hitler. One banner read, “Jews are Satan’s children.” And James Fields Jr., the man who is accused of mowing down protesters that day “had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler,” according to his high school history teacher. None of this should surprise us. The United States’ white nationalists have made no secret of their special hate for Jews, particularly during the 2016 campaign and its aftermath.” [WashPost

"Why Won't Trump Call Out Radical White Terrorism?" by Jeffrey Goldberg: "It is true that Obama calibrated his rhetoric on the subject of terrorism to a degree even his closest advisers sometimes found frustrating... But Obama... believed that any sort of rhetorical overreaction to the threat of Islamist terrorism by an American president would create panic, and would also spark a xenophobic response that would do damage to America’s image, and to Americans Muslims themselves... [Trump's] decision to maintain a neutral stance on the activities of the racist and anti-Semitic right has opened him to charges of hypocrisy; Trump is now refusing to speak plainly about the nature of a particular terrorist threat, a sin he continually ascribed to his predecessor." [TheAtlantic

PALACE INTRIGUE -- “Anti-McMaster campaign is about to get uglier” by Jonathan Swan: “Some White House officials were startled by the force of a recent statement by the conservative pro-Israel group, the Zionist Organization of America. On Wednesday, ZOA's president Mort Klein issued a report accusing McMaster of being hostile towards Israel and unserious about the threats of Iran and radical Islamic terrorism One of the GOP's top donors, Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, funds Klein's group. I've asked an Adelson rep whether the billionaire donor signed off on ZOA's call for Trump to fire McMaster. The Adelson rep hasn't responded. Bannon is one of the few senior administration officials that the ZOA trusts on Israel.” [Axios

McMaster is a friend to Israel -- by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: “Israeli officers and scholars who have worked with McMaster say that he was always highly appreciative of Israel and of its contributions to the security of the US. They attest to his broad support for and admiration of the IDF And whatever the reasons may have been for his decision to relieve certain senior National Security Council officials of their duties, antisemitic or anti-Israeli sentiments were certainly not part of the calculus.” [JPost

“Trump advisers signal the knives are out for Bannon” by Dan Merica: “Two senior Trump advisers signaled Sunday that the knives are out for Steve Bannon Bannon is seen as pursuing his own agenda, which does not mesh with the power structure Kelly is putting in place, the source added National security adviser H.R. McMaster was asked three times by NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday whether he can work with Bannon in the White House. McMaster dodged the question each time.” [CNN

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Fired White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci on ABC’s This Week: “If the president really wants to execute that legislative agenda that I think is so promising for the American people then he has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense He's got to move more into the mainstream, he's got to be more into where the moderates are and the independents are that love the president I think the president knows what he's going to do with Steve Bannon.” [ABCNews

JI TRIVIA -- congrats to JI readers Noah Silverman, Eli Schechner and Adam Rubenstein who identified at least 30 individuals in the photo of Republican members of Congress with Prime Minister Netanyahu last week including...

Lillian Pinkus, Michael Kassen, Rob Bassin, Ed Miller, Mitch Davidson, Kevin McCarthy, Ron Dermer, Michael Oren, David Keyes, David Kustoff, Roberta Kustoff, French Hill, Martha Hill, Karen Handel, Steve Handel, Warren Davidson, Lisa Davidson, Keith Rothfus, Lloyd Smucker, John Rutherford, David Young, John Faso, Mary Frances Faso, Jim Banks, James Comer, Andy Biggs, Cindy Biggs, Glenn Grothman, Trent Kelly, Sheila Kelly, Mike Johnson, Kelly Johnson, Jodey Arrington, Don Bacon, Angie Bacon, Jack Bergman, Randy Hultgren, Christy Hultgren, Greg Gianforte, Susan Gianforte, and Claudia Tenney.

IRAN DEAL: “Iran’s nuclear ambitions growing as it gains ground from IS, Mossad head warns” by Judah Ari Gross: “The Mossad chief (Yossi Cohen) noted that in the two years since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal Tehran has not abandoned its desire to develop nuclear weapons, and that the agreement “only reinforced that trend and strengthened Iranian aggression in the region.” During his presentation to the ministers, Cohen said Iran was now enjoying economic growth and international contracts in the deal’s wake. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Cohen’s presentation by noting “that Israel is in no way beholden to international treaties signed by Iran,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.” [ToI]  Iran lawmakers raise missile, Guard spending to challenge U.S. [AP]

“PM appoints new national security adviser: Meir Ben-Shabbat” by Judah Ari Gross: “Ben-Shabbat, who previously served as a senior official in the Shin Bet security service, is scheduled to begin in the position on Tuesday, Netanyahu said at the start of this week’s cabinet meeting....The 51-year-old father of four also led the security service’s Cyber Directorate and its National Directorate for Thwarting Terror, Espionage, Research and Policy.” [ToI

** Good Monday 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: Why Robert Mueller Has Trump SoHo in His Sights [VanityFair]  London's junior stock market faced renewed criticism today after AIM-listed Israeli tech firm Telit parted ways with chief Oozi Cats [EveningStandard]  Israel's Onavo Gives Facebook Inside Peek at Rivals’ Users [WSJ]  Sam Nazarian's SBE Entertainment still committed to Hakkasan Group merger [ReviewJournal]  Alice Rogoff’s Alaska Dispatch News files for bankruptcy; new publishers emerge [ADN; NewsMiner]  Patrick Drahi's Altice Is Considering Seeking Equity Funds for Charter Bid [Bloomberg] A Brief History of How Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich Conquered the Art World [Artnet] Obama treasury secretary Jack Lew: Financial risks 'substantial' [BBC

MEDIA WATCH: "French-Israeli Entrepreneur Patrick Drahi in Talks to Buy Israel's Largest Daily Yedioth Ahronoth" by Nati Tucker: "Under the terms of deal reportedly being discussed Drahi, who controls Netherlands-based multinational telecoms company, Altice, would initially buy the 34% in the Yedioth group controlled by the bankrupt tycoon Eliezer Fishman and shares of other smaller shareholders, including members of the Mozes family. At a later stage, Arnon Mozes, who controls a 24% bloc of the publishing group and runs it, would sell his shares. None of the parties to the sale would comment on the reports or responded by press time." [Haaretz]

STARTUP NATION: “International venture capital partnership to bring Israeli energy startups to Colorado” by Eric Douglas: “The Israel-Colorado Innovation Fund is a venture capital firm established in April by Gili Elkin, an Israeli citizen but a native of Berkeley, Calif., who worked in Silicon Valley representing venture capital firms. After moving back to Israel for a short period of time, she decided to try her hand in Colorado, a place she believes is fertile ground for new companies.” [DenverPost

PROFILE: “Wall Street Trader Chris Arnade Seeks Redemption for ‘Intellectual Grift’” by Matt Wirz: “The journey from bond trader to the Bakersfield parking lot began in a ramshackle house in San Antonio, Fla. [Chris] Arnade’s father, a Jewish university professor who escaped Nazi Germany, and mother, a socialist activist, raised him and six siblings in the conservative, Catholic town His parents skimped on new clothes and car repairs so they could take the family on far-flung academic research trips and all of the children went to college, a rarity in San Antonio at the time, he says.” [WSJ

“Meet the Russian-American Hacker Who's on Your Side” by Eugene S. Robinson: “Nothing about the playworld of plastic dolls held much purchase for Michael Borohovski, a New York native and the only son of Russian immigrants who’d hooved it out of the Soviet Union for Israel as soon as they could. His interests trended toward the mysteries inside machines That decision, taken in 2011, took the form of Tinfoil Security, which offered simple, automated security tools, precisely when the security space was heating up. Their company launch also dovetailed with Ken Ross, longtime Silicon Valley angel investor, turning his interest to DevOps. “Scanning apps that are being developed before they go to market,” said Ross, who put his money where his mouth was, “was a smart way to stop the bad guys before they could do much damage.”” [OZY

“Trump Tower, a Home for Celebrities and Charlatans” by Jacob Bernstein: “Steven Spielberg, an enthusiastic donor to Mrs. Clinton who had the use of a pied-à-terre in Trump Tower purchased for him by Universal Pictures, barely stayed at the place, despite its views of Central Park, and offered it to the candidate as a crash pad on grueling campaign days.” [NYTimes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: "Netanyahu Loyalist Faces Prospect of Sending Patron to Trial" by David Wainer and Jonathan Ferziger: "Inside Benjamin Netanyahu’s “aquarium,” the glassed-in suite of offices that houses Israel’s prime minister and his senior staff, Avichai Mandelblit was a big fish. As cabinet secretary... Mandelblit supported Netanyahu through parliamentary budget battles, missile wars against Hamas and a showdown with former U.S. President Barack Obama over the Iran nuclear deal... In making this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t choice, Mandelblit finds himself in a similar bind as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose office is investigating allegations of Russian interference in the election that brought to power the man who appointed him: Donald Trump... Admirers call him an ethical and professional civil servant who hasn’t hesitated to challenge Netanyahu in the past." [Bloomberg]

“Netanyahu’s Fate Doesn’t Determine Israel’s Future” by Shmuel Rosner: “The truth is, Mr. Netanyahu has held office only a little longer than Barack Obama or George W. Bush served as president, a little less time than Tony Blair was Britain’s prime minister and quite a bit less than Angela Merkel has been the chancellor of Germany What happens when Mr. Netanyahu goes? Maybe, in the end, not that much When Mr. Netanyahu goes, Israel will lose some things and gain others. It will lose stability, experience, a steady hand — it will gain a fresh start and, possibly, less bickering for a while.” [NYTimes

COMING SOON: “Conan O'Brien heading to Israel in late August to 'help Jared Kushner' by Ran Boker: “Late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien is expected to arrive in Israel at the end of August to film a segment for his TBS show... O'Brien is expected to be in Israel for five days during which he will film the segment in different locations across the country. O'Brien announced his visit.. on Twitter Friday night, writing: "Breaking: Conan O'Brien sends Conan O'Brien to Israel to help Jared Kushner. Stay tuned." The filming in Israel will be produced by Assaf and Roni Nawi of the Nawi Pro production company.” [Ynet

“World's oldest man, a Holocaust survivor, dead at 113” by Ian Deitch: “Israel Kristal, the world’s oldest man who lived through both World Wars and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp has passed away just a month short of his 114th birthday, his family said Saturday Last year Guinness World Records awarded Kristal a certificate as the world’s oldest man at his home in Haifa, Israel. Kristal was born to an Orthodox Jewish family near the town of Zarnow in Poland in 1903 Kristal himself only celebrated his bar mitzvah last year, a hundred years later than usual. He missed his bar mitzvah... because of World War I.” [AP

DESSERT: “A Brief History of Lemonade” by Amanda Foreman: “One of the earliest references to lemons can be found in a 10th-century Arabic book on farming, and medieval Egyptians may have made an early version of the beverage. By 1100, documents suggest, Jewish traders in Cairo were selling and exporting a bottled drink called qatarmizat, which contained sweetened lemon juiceBy the early 1780s, a German-Swiss jeweler named Johann Jacob Schweppe devised a new method, using a compression pump, that made quality mass production easier. By the early 1830s, the lemonade-stand business in Europe had been “disrupted” by the ready availability of Schweppes fizzy lemonade.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: Board member of the UJA Federation-New York, co-president of American Friends of Shalva and president of the Hamptons Synagogue, Carol Levin turns 73... Member of the New York State Assembly and Chapter President of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Charles D. Lavine turns 70... Director of the Department of Neurosurgery and Professor of Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Oncology and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins, Henry Brem, M.D. turns 65... US District Court Judge in South Carolina, he previously served as President of the Columbia (SC) Hebrew Benevolent Society and the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, Judge Richard Mark Gergel turns 63... Professor, author, legal analyst and political analyst, he served as the director of Jewish outreach for Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign, Martin J. Sweet turns 47... Former AIPAC and Republican Jewish Coalition staffer, now a Republican candidate for Congress running in the 10th District of Illinois, Jeremy Wynes turns 38... Russian-born political strategist, investment banker and attorney, he is currently the chief political analyst at Sinclair Broadcast Group after a ten week stint in the Trump White House, Boris Epshteyn turns 35... Ukrainian-born, moved to Los Angeles at the age of seven, she has appeared in dozens of films, Mila Kunis turns 34... Ryan Smith... Dylan Cooper... Tim Carney...

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]