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SPOTLIGHT — Trump Staffer Tried to Recruit Lobbyists for Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich — by Betsy Woodruff: "Two lobbyists... told The Daily Beast that [Daniel] Gelbinovich approached them and told them he was trying to help Roman Abramovich... find a lobbyist to help keep him from being added to the Treasury Department’s sanctions list... Gelbinovich was a low-level staffer on the Trump campaign... frequently booking travel for senior staff... John Mann, a spokesperson for Abramovich, said the oligarch did not sign off on any outreach to D.C. lobbyists... Gelbinovich, for his part, claimed that none of the lobbyists he contacted agreed to represent Abramovich." [DailyBeast]
GOOD DEAL — WhatsApp Co-Founder’s ‘Rest and Vest’ Reward From Facebook: $450 Million — by Deepa Seetharaman and Kirsten Grind: "After WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum announced he was leaving Facebook in late April, he has continued showing up at least monthly at the social-media giant’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. His incentive for making the appearances: about $450 million in stock awards, according to people familiar with the matter."
"A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment on Mr. Koum’s schedule, but said he remains employed at the company, working on “various projects and helping transition WhatsApp leadership.” As part of selling WhatsApp to Facebook, Mr. Koum earned about 24.85 million restricted shares... The stock has vested in quarterly increments, with the final period taking place in mid-November of this year." [WSJ]
TOP TALKER — Israel's Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett responds to Ron Lauder's recent NYT piece critical of Israeli government... "Israel Is Proud of Who We Are: While I normally would happily respect the views of Jews all over the world — as different or as similar as they may be to my own — on this claim I cannot remain silent. Keeping Israel as the Jewish nation-state does not threaten the future of the Jewish people; it safeguards it. Protecting Jewish traditions, just as they safeguarded our people through two millenniums of exile, is the only way to be sure that Israel can continue to be a strong and vibrant democracy in a very difficult region."
"While I welcome the concern of our Jewish brethren, alongside many friends of Israel around the world, and while I have full faith in their love for Israel and the Jewish people, I would urge all to remember that disagreement isn’t dangerous. But what damages us is when we forget what binds us together, what would happen if we were to or run away or turn our backs to one another. And Israel will never turn its back on its brothers and sisters around the world." [NYTimes]
Flashback — March 19, 2018: Bennett to Lauder at the opening session of the 6th annual Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem: “What are you doing? What are you doing, man? What are you doing?” Lauder: “You are my inspiration.” [Video]
Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni in a letter to American Jewish organizations: "It is no secret that there is a deep debate within Israel about her identity and the meaning of being a Jewish democratic state. Jewish communities around the world should be able to take part in this debate. I know that the concern of those of you who are worried about new political trends in Israel and legislation in the Knesset comes, like mine, from a place of deep love for Israel."
REPORT — Shin Bet has denied 250 people entry into Israel this year: "The Shin Bet security service has denied entry into Israel to some 250 people since the beginning of the year, citing reasons such as involvement in terror or fears they would engage in spying while in the country, the Kan public broadcaster reported Wednesday." [ToI] Detentions of US activists raise questions about whether Israel has 'blacklists' of its critics [CNN]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH: Trump's Mideast peace team — Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Jared Kushner and special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt — in a joint statement: “No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.”
ON THE GROUND: Truce goes into effect on Israel-Gaza border, and goods flow into Palestinian enclave again — by Noga Tarnopolsky: "A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas... went into effect Wednesday evening, ending four months of conflict along the volatile border... The agreement provides for a halt to rocket firings and the launching of incendiary balloons and kites on the part of Hamas, and, on Israel’s side, the reopening of Kerem Shalom, the only commercial crossing into Gaza, and the lifting of limitations on a permitted fishing zone of nine miles..." [LATimes; Haaretz] Head of Egyptian intelligence reportedly visits Tel Aviv to discuss Gaza truce [ToI]
-- "Egyptian officials and the United Nations envoy in the region are now trying to broker a broader arrangement for a long-term truce that would allow significant investment in development projects in Gaza." [NYT]
VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the opening session of the PLO Central Council: "We were the first to fight against it and we will continue to fight against it until it falls. This is the 'slap of the century.'" [JPost; Wafa]
-- Palestinian president lashes out at US over Gaza situation: "Abbas... said of U.S. officials: “I swear to God, they are liars.” Abbas added that he believes the U.S. is trying to promote Gaza aid projects to serve its own interests." [AP]
Max Boot writes... "I’ve been visiting Israel since 1998. The path to peace is shrinking: Uprooting 8,000 settlers from Gaza was traumatic enough; moving at least 80,000 out of the West Bank would be far harder, especially given the political strength of the settler lobby. The religious right is more powerful in Israeli politics (and the Israeli army) than it was in 1998, while the left is weaker... Among both Israelis and Palestinians, support for a “two-state” solution has waned since 1998."
"But not all is gloom and doom. One of the most hopeful things I saw on my visit was a matzoh factory in Jerusalem where Palestinian employees happily work alongside Orthodox Jews, showing that, on a human level, coexistence is still possible." [WashPost]
Israeli Military Clears Itself of Wrongdoing in 2014 Gaza War’s ‘Black Friday’ — by Isabel Kershner: "Known as “Black Friday,” Israel’s assault on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Aug. 1, 2014, was one of the deadliest and most scrutinized episodes in the 50-day war that summer. On Wednesday, the Israeli military cleared itself of wrongdoing in the bitterly contested episode." [NYTimes]
ARGUMENT: Former Ambassador Dennie Ross writes that Iran may be throwing a tantrum over the reimposition of U.S. sanctions but will likely seek a way to indirectly renegotiate a deal with the Trump administration as the economy falters and pressure rises in Iran. [ForeignPolicy]
MIDTERMS — Democratic Michigan House candidate Rashida Tlaib in an interview with In These Times: "Palestinians are attacking me now, but I am not going to dehumanize Israelis. I won’t do that... Many [Israelis] are marching, saying no to Netanyahu’s apartheid policies. There’s a movement in Israel I support that wants an Israel that embraces Palestinians... I do not support aid to a Netanyahu Israel and I’m pro-humanity."
Tlaib on BDS: "I‘m an ACLU card member. I stand by the rights of people who support BDS. Allow the students to be a part of the movement."
What about a two-state solution vs. one-state?
"One state. It has to be one state. Separate but equal does not work." [IntheTimes]
Batya Ungar-Sargon writes... "These Women Of Color Are Poised To Make History In Congress. But What Does It Mean For Israel? What the Jewish diaspora community needs from its elected officials is no longer unconditional support for Israel; it’s fair criticism... These are all questions that the Jewish community is currently grappling with – just like these new soon-to-be congresswomen. It seems wrong to hold them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves." [Forward]
Christian United for Israel (CUFI) has launched a statewide, six-figure TV and digital ad campaign urging Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to support the Iran Hostage Act. The ad, titled "Take a Stand Against Iran" highlights Heitkamp's support of the Iran nuclear deal. Cpl. Grant Neal, a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, says in the ad, "Thank God President Trump ripped that deal up. But Heitkamp sided with Obama. We're less safe because of it." The ad concludes, "Tell Senator Heitkamp to get tough on Iran." [Video]
STATESIDE — GOP Governor Candidate John Cox Shares Story Comparing Long California DMV Waits To Holocaust — by Nick Miller, Andrew Nixon and Ben Adler: "Republican gubernatorial candidate and businessman John Cox told a story during a California DMV visit on Wednesday that compared the much-criticized long lines and waits to surviving concentration camps during the Holocaust... “You know, I met a Holocaust survivor in Long Beach. He survived concentration camps, and he said this was worse. He’s 90 years old and he had to wait four hours down in Long Beach. Can you imagine that?” Cox says.
"Campaign spokesman Matt Shupe said Cox mistold the story... “He was saying that it reminded him of pre-war Germany” when Jews had to wait in lines to be processed.” “In no way does he mean this as a slight to the Jewish community,” Shupe added. “He misspoke. It’s very unfortunate. But it’s nothing more than that.” [CapRadio]
Polis just dropped $3 million into TV ads in the governor’s race -- by Joey Bunch: "Jared Polis is demonstrating the perks of being rich. The Democratic gubernatorial nominee and tech millionaire on Wednesday announced a jaw-dropped television ad buy: $3 million for October... Polis has put in more than $12.4 million so far toward his campaign, compared to about $2.5 million raised by his Republican opponent, Walker Stapleton." [ColoradoPolitics]
2020 WATCH: Trump confidant sees Michael Bloomberg as potential 2020 threat — by Steve Holland and Ginger Gibson: "Corey Lewandowski, who remains in close touch with the president after serving as his campaign manager during part of the 2016 campaign, told reporters that Bloomberg has the advantage of not being a Washington insider, has the wealth to finance a campaign and holds policy positions popular among Democrats. Bloomberg is an “American success story” who would be “very competitive.” [Reuters]
Harvey Levin Is Casting the TMZ Primary — by Felix Gillette and Gerry Smith: "Levin’s chumminess with Trump was hardly a secret to TMZ’s staff... TMZ’s coverage has since become more critical. According to the two former editorial staffers, sometime around the start of 2018 the restrictions on anti-Trump stories mysteriously loosened. They never got a memo explaining why, but TMZ’s website is now rife with clips of celebrities criticizing the president. Recent videos have included actor Mickey Rourke calling him a “garbage can” and Levin referring to Trump’s July closed-door meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a disaster.”
"What changed? According to a person with knowledge of the relationship, not long ago Levin and Trump talked on the phone regularly. But they had a falling-out over the president’s repeated efforts to ban transgender troops from serving in the U.S. military—a policy Levin finds repugnant... According to the source, Levin and Trump haven’t spoken for months." [Bloomberg]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: New CEO at Ben & Jerry’s Plans to Whip Up Activism, ‘Whirled Peace’ [WSJ] Elliott Lawyer Warns Korea Better Brace for More Activist Funds [Bloomberg] DJ David Guetta Buys Miami Condo From New York Billionaire Richard LeFrak [WSJ]
INTERVIEW — Rabbi Abba Cohen, Vice President for Federal Affairs and Washington Director and Counsel at Agudath Israel of America, talks Trump in an interview with Mishpacha: "We’ve had a very productive relationship with the administration, particularly in the area of religious liberty... We have also found the administration to be very supportive in regard to our top domestic priority — working to help and protect Jewish schools. At the same time, we have differences with the administration. Certainly, some of the positions that they’ve taken on legal immigration — particularly in regard to refugees — are not positions that we share." [Mishpacha]
ACROSS THE POND: Labour prepares the ground for compromise on antisemitism code — by Jessica Elgot and Heather Stewart: "Labour is preparing the ground to amend its anti-Semitism code of conduct to align with International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines... The Guardian understands the party is open to adopting the full IHRA definition, with all its examples, after it has finished conducting a consultation with the Jewish community. Labour hopes to settle the issue before its party conference at the end of September." [TheGuardian]
What France Means When It Talks About ‘Anti-Semitism’ — by Karina Piser: "Focusing on Muslim antipathy towards Jews lets the rest of the country off the hook... Violence between French Muslims and Jews has also routinely corresponded to upticks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The notion of a “new anti-Semitism,” then, overlooks both anti-Semitism’s endurance in France—including among non-Muslims—and the way more than a half-century of Jewish-Muslim hostility in the Middle East has played into this trend." [NewRepublic]
HOLLYWOOD — Israeli ‘Tzeva Adom’ film named semifinalist at NBC festival — by Amy Spiro: "Tzeva Adom: The Color Red, a short film about an unlikely relationship across the Gaza-Israel border, is one of the semifinalists at the upcoming NBC Universal Short Film Festival. The 20-minute film was written by C. Ashleigh Caldwell, directed by Michael Horwitz and stars Shani Atias, the younger sister of Moran Atias... Earlier this month, the film was named one of the 15 semifinalists at the festival... Finalists will be selected and screened in October in Los Angeles." [JPost]
Jerry Seinfeld talks about the 10th season of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and Seinfeld in an interview with screenwriter Dan Amira: "Jokes are not real. People assume that when you say something that you believe it. It’s purely comedic invention... You use Twitter mostly for self-promotion. Why no Twitter jokes? I don’t hear the laugh. Why waste my time? It’s a horrible performing interface. I can’t think of a worse one. I always think about people that write books. What a horrible feeling it must be to have poured your soul into a book over a number of years and somebody comes up to you and goes, “I loved your book,” and they walk away, and you have no idea what worked and what didn’t. That to me is hell." [NYT]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — Isaac Mizrahi: Studio 54, 'Clutchy' Parents and His Big Brown Cadillac: "Before Isaac Mizrahi was a fashion powerhouse, before he was a judge on Project Runway: All Stars, he was a schoolboy in Brooklyn raised by parents he describes as both “religious religious” and “clutchy clutchy.” It was in this backdrop that Mizrahi first started to feel out his own identity and explore New York’s thriving ’70s club scene. As is still the case with so many American teenagers, Mizrahi’s ticket to freedom came in the form of his first car: a second-hand Cadillac Deville." [Ozy]
DESSERT: Inside NYC’s most dramatic restaurant wars — by Beth Landman, Steve Cuozzo and Lauren Steussy: "The Four Seasons finally reopened Wednesday after a two-year construction saga. The most fabled restaurant in New York City history is reborn — shrunken but beautiful — three blocks south of the Seagram Building that was its home for nearly 60 years... Four Seasons owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder claim to have a waiting list of old-timers clamoring for reservations... Since Seagram landlord Aby Rosen booted the Four Seasons when its lease was up in July 2016 and replaced it with Major Food, there’s been no love between the restaurateurs."
"Once, during the long closure, Henry Kissinger — a devotee of the old house’s $40 baked potato — called Niccolini and von Bidder over to his limo, which was stopped on Park Avenue. “So when are you going to open your place?” von Bidder recalls Kissinger growling. Preview meals over the past week drew fashion designer Joseph Abboud, philanthropist Charles Bronfman, famed residential broker Dolly Lenz and practically every big commercial real estate dealmaker in town." [NYPost]
REMEMBERING: Moshe Mizrahi, 86, Who Won an Oscar for ‘Madame Rosa,’ Is Dead — by Richard Sandomir: "Moshe Mizrahi, an Israeli director whose “Madame Rosa,” one of several movies he made in France, won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film in 1978, died on Aug. 3 at a hospital in Tel Aviv... Two films that he shot in Israel — “I Love You Rosa” (1972) and “The House on Chelouche Street” (1973) — were nominated for Oscars for best foreign-language film. (Neither won.)" [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Former member of Congress from New Jersey, Richard Alan "Dick" Zimmer turns 74... Sportscaster who is known as the "Voice of the Dallas Cowboys," he has broadcast the Cowboys since 1976, Brad Sham turns 69... President and CEO of the Business Roundtable, he was previously the White House Chief of Staff (2006-2009) following three years as OMB Director (2003-2006), Joshua Brewster "Josh" Bolten turns 64... Gerald Platt turns 64... Former IDF fighter pilot, he served as commander of the Israeli Air Force (2004-2008) and then as CEO of El Al (2010-2014), General Eliezer Shkedi turns 61... Senior partner in the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and an AIPAC board member, Steven C. Demby turns 60... Founder of Value Retail Plc and co-owner of the New York Islanders professional hockey team, Scott David Malkin turns 60... Sports journalist and executive, she spent 17 years on-air at ESPN/ABC and CBS covering Super Bowls to NBA and MLB playoffs, now she is a founder of Walk Swiftly Productions, Bonnie Bernstein turns 48...
Senior staff writer for Politico Magazine and editor-at-large of The Agenda, Miami Beach resident, Michael Grunwald turns 48... Senior editor of Kol HaBirah (a Jewish newspaper and media company that serves the Washington and Baltimore Jewish communities), Kami Troy turns 44... CEO of digital marketing agency 360i, Sarah Hofstetter turns 44... Co-founder and co-CEO of The Creative Counsel, South Africa’s largest advertising agency, in 2014 he was named by GQ as one of the Best Dressed Men of the Year, Gil Oved turns 43... Events Director for the Republican Governors Association, Patricia W. "Tricia" Moffatt turns 40... Producer for CBS's Emmy Award-winning daytime talk show "The Talk," Matthew Silverstein turns 37... Project Manager at Tel Aviv Global, she was the executive assistant to the ambassador at the Embassy of Israel in Washington (2016-2018), Galit Tassi... Associate at Blackrock, founder of Music Matters, Phillip Schermer... Staffer in the New England office of J Street, Cooper Boyar... Ellen Weissfeld... Marshall Cohen... Dave Jacobsen...
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