Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: August 21, 2017

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Trump talks to chief strategist Steve Bannon during a swearing in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 22, 2017.
Trump talks to chief strategist Steve Bannon during a swearing in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 22, 2017.Credit: Carlos Barria/REUTERS
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LongRead: “Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington” by Patrick Radden Keefe: "If you squint, Trump and Icahn look alike. Both grew up in Queens and have an outer-borough chip on their shoulders. Both first came to tabloid prominence against the gaudy backdrop of the nineteen-eighties. Both are brash, plainspoken street fighters, examples of an American archetype: the populist rich guy. But Trump comes from the wealthy enclave of Jamaica Estates, whereas Icahn grew up in a lower-middle-class family in Bayswater. His mother, Bella, was a schoolteacher; his father, Michael, was a failed opera singer who, even though he was an atheist, became the cantor in a local synagogue, because he loved the music. Carl was an only child, born toward the end of the Depression, in 1936. Throughout his youth, his father railed against the robber barons, condemning the concentration of extreme wealth."

"Icahn is a serious chess player; as a young man, he considered becoming a chess master but decided not to, because there was no money in it. He paid his way through Princeton, in part, with poker earnings, and he has played the game with Leon Black, the founder of Apollo Global Management; Sam Waksal, the ImClone founder, who went to prison for insider trading; and the onetime junk-bond king Michael Milken, who has also done time for white-collar crime. “Waksal, Milken, Ivan Boesky,” the former Icahn employee said. “Carl has never got into trouble. But he’s played with everyone who did.” In his business dealings, Icahn is a master of the bluff. “Carl views the legal norms as a starting point for a negotiation, rather than a moral compass,” a financier who has faced off against him told me."

"In the nineties, when Icahn was fighting for control of Marvel Comics, the company’s C.E.O., a veteran of the Israeli Army, likened dealing with him to negotiating with terrorists. Icahn prefers to describe himself in more righteous terms, as a warrior for stockholders who have been disenfranchised by inattentive corporate boards and myopic executives." 

"Icahn and Trump maintained a loose friendship during the ensuing decades, one that was hardly as intimate as Trump likes to make it sound. The very notion of a relationship that transcends mercenary self-interest may be alien to Icahn. Once, in a court proceeding, he said, “If the price is right, we are going to sell. I think that’s true of everything you have, except maybe your kids and possibly your wife.” “Possibly?” the judge asked. “Possibly,” Icahn said, adding, “Don’t tell my wife.”

Norm Eisen, who served as Obama’s Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform, argues that Icahn is “not just an outside kibbitzer” but a formal adviser who should be subject to constraints. “He gets a title,” Eisen said On Friday, August 18th, four days after the White House disavowed Icahn to me, he tweeted, “Today, with President Trump’s blessing, I ceased to act as special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform.”" [NewYorker

TOP TALKER: “Steve Bannon Readies His Revenge: The war on Jared Kushner is about to go nuclear” by Gabriel Sherman: “Bannon, who was the only West Wing advisor to publicly support the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, is especially galled at being scapegoated as an anti-Semite in its wake... Bannon’s allies lay out a more complicated backstory. Bannon, they say, lobbied Trump aggressively to move America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but was blocked by Kushner. And, according to three Bannon allies, Bannon pushed a tougher line against the Palestinians than Kushner did. In May, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the White House, Bannon stayed home. “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist,” Bannon texted a friend.” [VanityFair

BEHIND THE SCENES: "Bannon Was Set for a Graceful Exit. Then Came Charlottesville” by Jeremy Peters and Maggie Haberman: “New York real estate investor friends told Mr. Trump that the situation with Mr. Bannon was untenable: Steve Roth on Monday, Tom Barrack on Tuesday and Richard LeFrak on Wednesday With little process to speak of, tensions over policy swelled. Ideological differences devolved into caustic personality clashes. Perhaps nowhere was the mutual disgust thicker than between Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Bannon openly complained to White House colleagues that he resented how Ms. Trump would try to undo some of the major policy initiatives that he and Mr. Trump agreed were important to the president’s economic nationalist agenda, like withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. In this sense, he was relieved when Mr. Kelly took over and put in place a structure that kept other aides from freelancing."

“Those days are over when Ivanka can run in and lay her head on the desk and cry,” he told multiple people. Mr. Bannon made little secret of the fact that he believed “Javanka,” as he referred to the couple behind their backs, had nave political instincts and were going to alienate Mr. Trump’s core coalition of white working-class voters... He also advised that ideological softening would buy the president no good will from Democrats or independent voters, whom Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump believe Mr. Trump still has a chance of reaching. “They hate the very mention of his name,” Mr. Bannon told them. “There is no constituency for this.” His advice for the president: “You’ve got the base. And you grow the base by getting” things done.”" [NYTimes

QUITE THE HEADLINE -- “How Jewish convert Ivanka got 'Bannon the Barbarian' to go” by Caroline Graham: "A source said: ‘Jared and Ivanka helped push him out. They were concerned about how they were being viewed by the Jewish community.’” [DailyMail

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach now says ‘Bannon and I are not close buddies’ -- by Aaron Magid: Boteach had been a vocal supporter of Bannon. In May, his tweet - a selfie with Bannon in front of a whiteboard with a to do list at the White House - went viral. But on Friday, Boteach claimed, “Bannon and I aren’t close buddies.”  Boteach emphasized, “I have many issues where I have serious disagreements with Bannon but I have always found him — in the occasions that I have had the opportunity to speak with him — to be very open to hearing ideas that are different to his.” [JewishInsider

SHELDON BACKS MORT -- A day after Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, claimed that media reports about Sheldon Adelson disavowing his campaign against McMaster were “fake news” and “rubbish,” Klein emailed Sheldon and Miriam Adelson: "You "disavow" my reports on McMaster are hurtful. Are they accurate?"

On Friday morning, Adelson replied to Klein via his assistant Betty Yurcich “I am sorry that you feel hurtful but I never used the word "disavowed." I don't know enough about the McMaster case nor do I want to say I know about your attack and that I supported it financially and morally."

"Up until recent articles, I had no knowledge of anything about McMaster - just what I read in the newspaper. Yesterday I spoke with Safra Katz, who told me about a dinner she had with him recently and it certainly enlightened me quite a bit."

"The word "disavow" came from the reporter who prepared it. Quotes that I was "perfectly comfortable" are inaccurate. My representative never used that phrase. What I do know is that Morton Klein is the strongest Zionist I know and carries on campaigns for what he sincerely and profoundly cares about. Politics is your full time job. It's not my full time job. I can't get involved in every campaign and every debate. Now that I have talked to somebody with personal experience with McMaster, I support your efforts. Not that I am looking to get deeply involved in this debate. Sheldon G. Adelson”

Worth noting: Agree with Klein or not, emailing your top donor that his comments 'are hurtful' takes guts. It might not be a smart fundraising tactic but it shows a level of sincerity that many other organizational leaders lack. 

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Arab foreign ministers welcome US Mideast mediation” by AFP: “The Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers expressed support Saturday for US Middle East peace efforts at a Cairo meeting ahead of a White House delegation visit to the region They "look forward to the US administration intensifying its efforts in the coming period.”” [Yahoo

“Abbas: I Met Trump's Envoys 20 Times and Still Don't Understand Their Peace Plan” by Barak Ravid: "I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States," [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas [told a Meretz party delegation.] "Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained I can’t understand their conduct with us," he said... adding that "Inside [Trump's] country, there is chaos in the administration." [Haaretz

“Israeli opposition says Abbas tried to resume security ties with Israel” by Dan Williams: "We recently communicated with them (Israeli security officials) in an attempt to resume some kind of cooperation But they have not returned an answer, something that has prevented progress in thawing ties," [Abbas] was quoted as saying A Netanyahu aide, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said: "These reported remarks are simply incorrect." [Reuters

"'Grave concern' in Israel in light of US positions on Syria” by Ronen Bergman: “There is "grave concern" in Israel after a delegation of high ranking Israeli defense officials sent to Washington was not able to secure a commitment from the Americans to ensure any agreement to end the war in Syria would include the evacuation of Iranian military forces from the country Israeli intelligence officials said the delegation "presented sensitive, credible and highly disturbing intelligence information," backed by documents and photographs, which showed the ever-growing spread of Iranian influence in Syria The Israeli defense officials' talks with their American counterparts were described as detailed and professional, while the atmosphere was described as friendly The delegation members, who returned to Israel over the weekend, reported they noticed "a kind of embarrassment and lack of a clear position in the American administration As far as they're concerned, the matter is still wide open.” [Ynet

“Has US sacrificed Israel for Syria deal?” by Ben Caspit: “One minister told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now What is most worrisome is that this time, it was President Donald Trump who threw us to the four winds — though viewed as Israel’s great friend. It turns out that when it comes to actions and not just talk, he didn’t deliver the goods.” [Al-Monitor

Washington Post editorial Trump may be planning to make a very bad decision on the Iran deal: "Despite much heated rhetoric, the Trump administration is doing little to counter Iranian aggression... In only one area has the Islamic Republic’s toxic ambition been relatively contained: the production of material for use in nuclear warheads Yet perversely, Mr. Trump is matching his passivity toward Iran’s regional meddling with an apparent determination to torpedo the nuclear pact.” [WashPost

"Former CIA deputy director: Trump is politicizing the US intelligence-gathering process” by John Bowden: “In an interview with CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," former CIA Deputy Chief David Cohen said that Trump's conclusion that Iran had violated the nuclear deal... was "disconcerting." "What the president has said is that in his judgment, Iran is not complying, and then he has asked a group in the White House to provide him with justification, with intelligence to support his preconceived notion that Iran is not complying with the nuclear deal," Cohen said.” [TheHill

“Hezbollah Is Running Rings Around U.N. Monitors in Lebanon” by Danny Danon: “Over the past year alone, we have shared with the Security Council new information detailing how border towns have become Hezbollah strongholds We also shared with the council intelligence revealing how the Iranians use civilian airlines to smuggle dangerous arms into southern Lebanon To rectify this situation, and avoid a new conflict, the Security Council must make real changes to Unifil’s mandate.” [WSJ

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Seeking Reset, Trump Dines With Some of His Biggest Donors” by Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel: “Other donors also were invited to Thursday’s dinner but did not attend, including Paul Singer, the New York hedge fund billionaire. He declined the invitation weeks ago because he was going to be on vacation Mr. Singer also is a major donor to Jewish causes, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, which criticized Mr. Trump this week over his response to the events in Charlottesville Mr. Singer’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment on whether he felt similarly about Mr. Trump’s response.” [NYTimes

"Melania Trump Is Starting to Step Into the Void Left by Ivanka and Jared" by Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein: "It was not lost on insiders or the public that she, not her husband or her husband’s daughter or son-in-law, was the first to react publicly to the violence in Charlottesville following a gathering of neo-Nazis and white supremacists... So far... Javanka has produced vanishingly few concrete policy wins and done little to keep the Trump presidency from going off the rails. Often, they’re on vacation during the moments of peak crisis... “She actually is what Ivanka [Trump] has cultivated an image of,” said a senior White House official." [DailyBeast]

“Mnuchin tells Yale classmates: Trump does not equate neo-Nazis with peaceful protesters” by Yeganeh Torbati: “[Steven] Mnuchin, who is Jewish, added: "While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways I don't believe the allegations against the president are accurate, and I believe that having highly talented men and women in our country surrounding the president in his administration should be reassuring to you and all the American people," he said.” [Reuters; NYTimes

“President Jabberwock and the Jewish Right” by Bret Stephens: “The president’s Jewish supporters are left to wonder why the Iran deal remains in force, the United States Embassy is still in Tel Aviv, Bashar al-Assad is stronger than ever, the Israeli government is outraged by the deals the administration has cut with Russia at Israel’s strategic expense, and Jared Kushner has not proved a worthy strategic heir to Henry Kissinger  If conservatism is supposed to teach anything, it’s that, even in politics, character counts above everything. Trump’s Jewish supporters, like so many on the right, ignored the lesson. After Charlottesville, they’ve discovered too late that the price of that support will fall, as it so often has, disproportionately on them.” [NYTimes

Jewish Dems Launch New National Group -- by Jacob Kornbluh: The new group, The Jewish Democratic Council of America, was originally set to launch in October in place of the present National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) and the Jews for Progress PAC. However, President Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protests compelled the founders of the JDCA to accelerate the timeline. “Clearly today, there seems to be a calling for a rebuilding of Jewish Democrats’ vision in politics – to elect people that will support local and state national policies that are supportive of the Jewish community’s values,” Former Congressman Ron Klein, Acting Chairman of the new organization, explained. [JewishInsider

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: "Israeli minister: Efforts to portray Trump as anti-Semitic are pathetic: "Efforts to portray Trump as anti-Semitic are pathetic," [Economy and Industry Minister Eli] Cohen said, adding that of all the U.S. presidents, Trump is "one of the most sympathetic toward Israel."" [IsraelHayom]  Israel Minister: Preserving Ties With Trump Bigger Priority Than Denouncing Neo-Nazis [HuffPost

ANTI-BOYCOTT ACT: “Pro-Israel group asks RI delegation to support bill to quash boycotts of Israel” by Patrick Anderson: “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse “has not taken a position on the bill,” said spokeswoman Meaghan McCabe in an email Sen. Jack Reed’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the current federal boycott bill.” [ProvidenceJournal

COMING SOON: "Michael Bloomberg is the new Clinton" by Mike Allen: "Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to bring together more than 30 heads of state and 100 CEOs in New York on Sept. 20, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly, as part of a plan to move into the elite space once held by the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting... Former President Bill Clinton, who has said he wants other organizations to join him in the CGI mission, will speak at Bloomberg Philanthropies' Global Business Forum in an unofficial handoff." [Axios]

** 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 BRIEF: Mobileye Co-founder Quits Hebrew University in Dispute Over Royalties [Haaretz] Israeli investors, close to selling the biggest hotel complex in Bucharest [RomaniaInsiderShell to Mull Buying Israeli, Cyprus Gas for Egypt Plant [Bloomberg]  Jared Kushner's firm seeks arrest of Maryland tenants to collect debt [BaltimoreSun

SPOTLIGHT: “The Benefits of Standing by the President” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Ben Protess and Michael Corkery: “Interviews with four people briefed on the deal revealed that the Saudis had been discussing a possible partnership with a number of other firms as well, and formally decided on Blackstone only after [Stephen] Schwarzman had started advising the president. In addition to Mr. Schwarzman’s prominence, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund was drawn to the firm’s record of generating huge investment returns and building new business lines, from real estate to hedge funds While Mr. Schwarzman’s support for the president caused a public relations headache for Blackstone this past week, friends say he is not the type of corporate leader to express regrets about taking on a prominent role in Washington Mr. Schwarzman speaks with Mr. Trump as much as once a week, typically about the economy though also about social policy.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Fear, resolve and more security at Charlottesville’s temple” by Ben Finley: “We were in a different world than where we had been previously,” [Diane Gartner] Hillman, 69, said Friday, as a stream of people entered the synagogue, now guarded by three police officers out front Many people in Charlottesville who aren’t Jewish have come to Beth Israel to show their solidarity, [Cale] Jaffe said. “What gives me hope going forward is knowing so many people in the larger Charlottesville community feel that way and are there with us.” [AP

MEDIA WATCH: "The Rise And Rise And Rise Of Israel’s Right-Wing Media" by Miriam Berger: "Erel Segal has an agenda and he wants you to know it. The forty-six-year-old Israeli is the charismatic and pugnacious host of a nightly news show called “The Patriots” on a new channel trying to model itself after Fox News “The Israeli media is clearly biased against the government and the right wing,” the fast talking Segal told BuzzFeed News. "Now it’s much more healthy and reasonable that a media person should be without a mask. Everyone knows that I belong to the right wing. But I'm fair about it.” “Nobody,” he said “believes in objectivity anymore.” [BuzzFeed

“Benjamin Netanyahu, Perennial Underdog” by Natan Sachs: “The never-ending, cynical invocation of the political base’s grievances—something Netanyahu and others have now perfected—had severe consequences for Israeli society and politics. Even as he secured political power, Netanyahu preferred to play the role of leader of the opposition, to perpetuate a sense of victimhood among his supporters rather than transform his numerous political victories into agency, empowerment and, above all, responsibility.” [TheAtlantic

KAFE KNESSET -- Labor’s after its leader, already -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: A month and a half after his surprise against-all-odds victory in the Labor leadership primaries, Avi Gabbay is launching his first insiders political battle. Gabbay is on the way to a mega-clash with the party establishment. Yesterday, Gabbay announced a series of proposed changes to the party’s constitution. The proposed changes are aimed mainly at bolstering Gabbay’s control of the party and reducing the power of the party apparatus. The main focus of the changes – which will be brought to a vote at a party convention in the coming weeks – is to cut off authority from the party’s general secretary, who was democratically elected just half a year ago, and to allow Gabbay to personally appoint 4 or 5 people to the party’s Knesset slate for the next election, and not the party members... Eran Hermoni, the party secretary-general is already launching a counter effort to ensure Gabbay’s plans do not succeed. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Arthur Finkelstein, Innovative, Influential Conservative Strategist, Dies at 72” by Sam Roberts: “As a gay, Jewish libertarian, Mr. Finkelstein helped elect homophobic candidates, once polled South Carolinians on whether they would support a rival candidate identified as a Jewish immigrant, and supported gay rights and abortion rights as what the political consultant Roger Stone, another of his protégés, called, in a phone interview, “a situational conservative.” He later choreographed campaigns by his friend Ronald S. Lauder, the cosmetics heir, against Rudolph W. Giuliani in the 1989 Republican mayoral primary and in Israel, where he was recruited by supporters of Mr. Netanyahu and other conservative candidates of the Likud Party.” [NYTimes Arthur Finkelstein, the Man Who Saved Netanyahu’s Career - and Forever Changed Israeli Politics [Haaretz

“Jerry Lewis, comedy king and master of slapstick, dies at 91” by Adam Bernstein: “He was born Jerome Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, the son of Jewish vaudevillians who performed at New York-area resorts After quitting high school in 1942 — he said it was because of the flagrant anti-Semitism of his principal in Irvington, N.J. — Mr. Lewis honed his “record act,” a routine in which he mimed lyrics of operatic and popular songs playing on a phonograph.” [WashPost

“The Costs of Workplace Rudeness” by Jennifer Breheny Wallace: “In a 2015 study published in the journal Pediatrics, 24 teams of doctors and nurses specializing in neonatal intensive care at four hospitals in Israel participated in a simulation that involved a preterm infant (a man-nequin) suffering from a medical complication. The teams were randomly assigned to receive rude treatment—an “expert” from the U.S. made disparaging remarks, suggesting that they “wouldn’t last a week” in his department—or neutral treatment. Performance in the simulation was scored by judges unaware of these conditions. “The results were scary,” says Dr. Erez. “The teams exposed to rudeness gave the wrong diagnosis, didn’t resuscitate or ventilate appropriately, didn’t communicate well, gave the wrong medications and made other serious mistakes.”” [WSJ]

TRANSITION: Rich Goldberg, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s former chief of staff and often known as the "architect of Iran sanctions" while working for Sen. Mark Kirk, is launching a Chicago-based strategic consulting firm. The new firm, RG Solutions, will offer communications and crisis management consulting services to a wide range of corporate, non-profit and political clients. h/t Chicago Sun Times

CLARIFICATION: In Thursday's Daily Kickoff, we included news of Ambassador Dan Shapiro joining Columbia/Barnard Hillel, the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, as a visiting scholar in residence for the 2017-18 academic year. While Shapiro will spend time on campus in the fall and spring semesters, he will continue to live in Israel for the next year and also continue in his role as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at INSS.

DESSERT: “Africans Have Heated Views About Rice, Just Ask Mark Zuckerberg” by Joe Parkinson: “Mr. Zuckerberg’s apparent endorsement of Nigerian jollof while visiting Lagos last summer set off a storm of celebrations in Nigeria and howls of protest elsewhere in the region. “I was told not to compare the jollof rice of neighboring countries,” Mr. Zuckberg said, after tasting the Nigerian variety. “But it was awesome.” Now a new TV show, “The Jollof Rice Challenge,” will try to settle the dispute once and for all, putting chefs from 10 nations head to head in a Lagos contest being billed as Pop Idol meets MasterChef.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: Russian-born Internet entrepreneur, he co-founded Google and is the president of Google's parent company Alphabet, Forbes estimates his net worth at $45 billion, Sergey Brin turns 44... Retired owner of Effective Strategy Consultants, Boynton Beach resident, Irwin Wecker turns 82... Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (with chambers in Chicago), the first woman appointed to this court, Judge Ilana Kara Diamond Rovner turns 79... President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2012, L. Rafael Reif turns 67... Israeli physician who was a member of the Knesset (1999-2003), he now serves as mayor of Ashdod (Israel's largest port and its sixth largest city), Dr. Yehiel Lasri turns 60... Co-founder of BlueLine Grid, he was previously an Assistant US Attorney in Los Angeles (1994-2000) and a member of the Los Angeles City Council (2001-2009), Jack Weiss turns 53... Manager of strategic partnerships for UJA-Federation of New York's Day School Challenge Fund, she is a former litigator at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, Chavie N. Kahn... Global head of public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, he held several national posts in the Republican Party (including Party Chair from 2005-2007) and the George W. Bush administration, Ken Mehlman turns 51... MLB pitcher for 8 teams in a long career (2000-2015), he was the starting picher in three of Team Israel's first four games in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, all of which the team won, Jason Marquis turns 39... Senior strategist at PSB Research (PSB is a part of Y&R and WPP), named a non-partisan “Rising Star” by Campaigns & Elections magazine, Adam Rosenblatt turns 32... Associate Area Director for AIPAC in Philadelphia, previously she worked for AIPAC in Washington, Erica N. Miller turns 32... Tzippy Baitch... Lynn Sharon... Elon Issashar...

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