Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: August 27, 2018

Remembering Senator John McCain | Trump admin cuts aid to Palestinians | How Fanatics' Michael Rubin got his start

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Late Senator John McCain in Beverly Hills, California, May 28, 2008
Late Senator John McCain in Beverly Hills, California, May 28, 2008Credit: AFP
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REMEMBERING — Lawmakers across the political spectrum, world leaders, and Jewish leaders are mourning the passing of Senator John McCain, who died Saturday after a battle with brain cancer. The funeral will take place on Thursday at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona with former Vice President Joe Biden speaking. McCain will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Friday, followed by a full dress funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to speak at the service. A private funeral is planned for Sunday afternoon.  As a Nation Mourns McCain, Trump Is Conspicuously Absent [NYT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described McCain as “a great supporter of Israel.”

Natan Sharansky writes... "John McCain understood why I refused to leave prison: “I understand why you refused to be released on the USSR’s terms two years ago,” he told me then (in 1986), referring to a deal I rejected, to the shock and consternation of many western supporters... [McCain] knew how it would have been used to break the spirit of other dissidents... McCain understood my reasons because he himself had made the same choice... McCain’s first-hand knowledge of these realities and truths shone through his endeavors throughout his long and illustrious political career." [ToI]

Jeffrey Goldberg writes... "John McCain Would Have Passed the Anne Frank Test: We spoke every so often about the Holocaust, and its supposed lessons... I told him then that he would most definitely pass the Anne Frank Test. He was unfamiliar with the concept (mildly surprising, given that his best friend was Joe Lieberman)... McCain laughed at the compliment. Then he became serious. “I like to think that in the toughest moments I’d do the right thing, but you never know until you’re tested.” ... “I’m pretty sure you’d kill Nazis to defend Anne Frank,” I said. He smiled. “It would be an honor and a privilege.” [TheAtlantic]

Inside John McCain's 'Three Amigos' friendship — by Arlette Saenz: “The time really to get to know your colleagues is when you were fortunate enough to travel with them somewhere because you were on the plane together, you were talking, you were reading,” [former Senator Joe] Lieberman, whom McCain even considered naming as his running mate during his 2008 presidential campaign, said... “This Three Amigo business was more than three different kinds of guys who became friends and sort of had a great time traveling around the world,” he added. “I think we really tried to stand for something.” [ABCNews

— Flashback: John McCain on Converting to Judaism: “Everyone was saying Joe’s the most wonderful guy, the usual crap you hear,” McCain says. “So I got up, I was the last guy, and I say: ‘I’m here to announce that I’m converting to Judaism. Because for all these years with Joe, I’ve had to eat that crappy salmon. I had to ride the damn Shabbat elevator. I’ve observed Shabbat to a point where I couldn’t even ride in a goddamn car. I’ve had all of the bull associated with this religion, and I’ve gotten not a single benefit. So I’m converting to Judaism.’ Lieberman then stood up and announced that before McCain could convert, he must first have a proper bris." [JewishInsider]

— Last December, McCain was honored at the Saban Forum for his support of the U.S. - Israel alliance [Pic]

Schumer wants Senate building named for McCain: "Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will introduce a resolution to rename the Senate's Russell office building after the late Sen. John McCain. In a statement Saturday night, a short time after McCain died, Schumer said, "Nothing will overcome the loss of Senator McCain, but so that generations remember him I will be introducing a resolution to rename the Russell building after him." [CNN; CBS]

McCain’s death marks a new era for congressional checks on Trump -- by Karoun Demirjian: "Sen. John McCain’s death heralds a sea change for congressional challenges to the Trump administration on national security... “I don’t like to picture a Senate without Bob Corker and John McCain . . . sometimes we butted heads hard, but I never doubted for a second that they were serious,” former secretary of state John F. Kerry said in an email. McCain and Corker both grilled Kerry fiercely over the Obama administration’s policies, including the deal with Iran to end crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program." [WashPost; WSJ]

DRIVING THE CONVO — US cuts aid to Palestinians, cites policy differences — by Matt Lee: "The Trump administration has decided to cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians... The State Department notified Congress of the decision Friday in a brief, three-paragraph notice... It said the administration will redirect the money to “high priority projects elsewhere.” 

— "The notice did not give an exact amount of the funds to be cut, but said they had been approved in 2017 as part of a $230.1 million package in economic support funds for the Palestinians." [AP

Palestinians Blast Trump’s Aid Cut as Political ‘Blackmail’ -- by Isabel Kershner: “This administration is dismantling decades of U.S. vision and engagement in Palestine,” Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s general delegation to the United States, said in a statement. “This is another confirmation of abandoning the two-state solution and fully embracing Netanyahu’s anti-peace agenda... Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work.” [NYTimes

Former IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner writes... "Trump's Hardball Policy on the Palestinians Will Blow Up in Israel's Face: While it is Trump's prerogative to pick and choose whom to support, and how to support them, the ramifications of these abrupt steps will only empower the radicals. The deal of the century can't be made with Israel alone, and hardballing the Palestinian into submission is likely to blow up on Israel’s doorstep." [Haaretz

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tweets"Nearly every year since the 1990s, the U.S. Palestinian aid program faced holds & other delays in Congress. Clinton, Bush, & Obama Admins had to negotiate to free the money. And you know who the most effective lobbyist was to get Congress to relent? The Israeli Embassy in DC... More likely, this decision represents a terrible decision by Trump's team, which seems to think it will put pressure on the Palestinians to come to the table (it won't)."

Marty Peretz writes in the NYTimes — The West Bank Model Is a Failure: "For lovers of Israel, this is the time to make our voices heard. Delegitimization of Israel cannot be tolerated from any quarter. It can’t be tolerated from the increasingly vocal Marxist-influenced contingent of the left for whom all oppression is like all other oppression... But the calumnies of the left do not, ever, justify supporting the delegitimization of democratic Israel from Israel’s right-wing government and the messianic idolaters it bows before."

"The Israeli model cannot be exported into the West Bank: It is a fact of historical circumstance. The present law — accidentally or not, and probably not — will import the West Bank model into Israel. That will be a catastrophe." [NYT]

REPORT — Trump to Demand Recognized Palestinian Refugees Be Capped at Tenth of Current Number: "The Trump administration is about to announce a change in policy regarding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)... According to the News Company, a report that is set to be published by the administration at the beginning of September will cap the number of Palestinian refugees at half a million - about a tenth of the UN's number." [Haaretz

Aaron David Miller tweets"Middle East peace is out of reach. But Trump is willfully pursuing the most gratuitous and self destructive policy toward Israel and the Palestinians in decades. There’s only honey for one and vinegar for the other. It is stupid, counter-productive and even unnecessary politically." 

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Trump's peace plan during a press briefing in Lithuania on Friday: “It is his business if he wants to promote it. He occasionally comments on the matter, and it may come, though I see no urgency in the matter... The Americans are thinking about it. They aren’t blind. But I don’t know — when they suggest it, we’ll see.” 

Netanyahu warns Jews still under threat: "For the Jewish people, what has changed in these 75 years? Not the attempts to destroy us, they still seek to destroy us," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told around 300 Lithuanian Jews gathered in Vilnius's Choral Synagogue. The Israeli leader identified what he termed new existential threats facing the Jews, with Iran and the Islamist movement Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip being among them. "What has changed is our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves... This is a magnificent change of history." [YahooNews

Conservative delegates endorse moving Canadian Embassy to Jerusalem — by John Paul Tasker: "Conservative Party members voted overwhelmingly to compel the next Conservative government to move the Canadian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." [CBC]

Duterte gives Israel trip 'gift' to retiring military, police officials — by Chad de Guzman: "[Philippine] President Rodrigo Duterte is adding members to his Israel delegation: retiring military and police officers... But Duterte just shrugged off reports that he will be going to the Middle Eastern country for medical purposes. "If they operate on my brain, then better. That would be no problem." ... The President will visit Israel from September 2 to 5, two years after his remarks comparing his anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust. From Israel, he will then fly to Jordan." [CNNPhilippines

ON THE GROUND — Iran says ‘no third party’ will limit its support to Syria — by Albert Aji: "Iran says its presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Syrian government. “No third party can affect the presence of Iranian advisers in Syria,” Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami told reporters in Damascus. His comments came at the start of a two-day visit to Syria, where he met with the Syrian President Bashar Assad and other senior officials." [AP]

INSIDE THE ADMIN — Artificial Intelligence Is Now a Pentagon Priority. Will Silicon Valley Help? — by Cade Metz: "In a May memo to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis implored him to create a national strategy for artificial intelligence. Mr. Mattis argued that the United States was not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China and other countries. With a final flourish, he quoted a recent magazine article by Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, and called for a presidential commission capable of “inspiring a whole of country effort that will ensure the U.S. is a leader not just in matters of defense but in the broader ‘transformation of the human condition.’” Mr. Mattis included a copy of Mr. Kissinger’s article with his four-paragraph note." [NYTimes]

MIDTERMS — Amid controversy, NY State Senate candidate aims to clarify her Jewish identity — by Charles Dunst: "New York State Senate candidate Julia Salazar is pushing back against an article on a Jewish website describing discrepancies in her Jewish and family biography... “My parents weren’t religious when my brother and I were growing up,” Salazar wrote over Facebook Messenger. “Some of my extended family are Jewish; many are Catholic. Others converted from Judaism to Catholicism. My dad didn’t identify as Jewish." Citing this “extended [Jewish] family,” Salazar told JTA,”I converted, but my engagement with Judaism came from learning about my family background." [JTA

PIC: Dr. Richard Roberts hosted a luncheon yesterday for Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in Lakewood, New Jersey [TheLakewoodScoop]  

IN THE SPOTLIGHT... Michael Cohen thanks GoFundMe donors, birthday well-wishers: "Michael Cohen is tweeting thanks to people who’ve sent him birthday wishes and who’ve contributed to his legal defense fund... Cohen’s GoFundMe page, dubbed the “Michael Cohen Truth Fund” has raised close to $160,000 from about 3,000 donations. One anonymous donor gave $50,000." [AP

Chemi Shalev writes... "If Trump Falls, the Testimonies of Cohen, Pecker and Weisselberg Could Spark an anti-Semitic Backlash: The Jewishness of the three former Trump aides who have now decided to testify against him could mar the artificial tranquility and, in a worst-case scenario, spark a dangerous wave of anti-Semitism. American Jewish leaders would do well to prepare for such a stormy day." [Haaretz

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: U.S., Mexico said poised to reach NAFTA deal, negotiated by Robert Lighthizer and Jared Kushner, as soon as today [Bloomberg]  WeWork to Open Jerusalem Coworking Space [Calcalist]  Adam Neumann hosted Lorde at the annual 'summer camp' gathering for WeWork staffers [VanityFair]  Chelsea deny reports Roman Abramovich is considering selling club [TheGuardian

PROFILE: Glenn Greenwald, the Bane of Their Resistance — by Ian Parker: "One of Greenwald’s debating assets is charmlessness. He brings scant greenroom bonhomie onstage, and rarely smiles; he seems content to risk appearing disagreeable, or wrongheaded... [Eli] Lake was measured and genial. After the segment, Greenwald felt dissatisfied. “I just know Eli too well,” he said. “We’ve just fought and argued on every medium.” Lake’s views were “horrible”—he was a “hard-core neocon and a loyalist to Israel”—but he “doesn’t take himself super seriously.” ... Lake later told me that he thinks Greenwald is mistaken in believing “that everything that the U.S. government does is malevolent.” But he added, “In a weird way, I’m grateful that there’s somebody as articulate, unrelenting, and consistent as Glenn making that argument.” [NewYorker

TALK OF THE TOWN: Miami’s fake Saudi prince withdraws his guilty plea on charges of swindling millions — by Jay Weaver: "Anthony Gignac, who authorities say posed as a member of the Saudi royal family to impress wealthy South Florida investors so he could rip them off, has been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea on impersonating a foreign government official, identity theft and fraud charges... When Anthony Gignac set his sights on Miami, he targeted super-rich real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer of Turnberry Associates... At first, Soffer fell for the con man’s pitch to buy an interest in one of his hotels, even lavishing $50,000 in luxury gifts on the “sultan,” according to sources familiar with a federal investigation." [MiamiHerald

A Year on From Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s Jewish Community Still Traumatized — by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: "Of the 26,000 Jewish households in Houston, some 2,000 lost their homes to Hurricane Harvey’s devastation... A year on, 55 percent of Houston’s Jewish Family Service clients are not yet back in their homes, says its CEO Linda Burger. So while they pay rent on their temporary housing or double up with family members, they are also making mortgage payments on ruined homes... Like individual families, Jewish institutions are still struggling. Houston’s Jewish senior nursing home, Seven Acres, evacuated residents from the first floor during the hurricane and hasn’t been able to move anyone back yet." [Haaretz]  Troubled Waters: A Year After Harvey, Has Houston Learned Anything? [TexasMonthly]

Jewish Heirs Take on an Art Foundation That Rights Nazi Wrongs — by William Cohan: "The German Lost Art Foundation operates a database of art likely looted by the Nazis... But now the foundation is being criticized for removing from public view 63 works by the Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele... The removal — a rare step — is being challenged by the heirs of a popular Viennese cabaret performer, Fritz Grünbaum, whose sizable art collection, including 81 Schieles, was inventoried by Nazi agents in 1938 after he had been sent to a concentration camp where he died. The heirs say the Schieles in question were definitely Grünbaum’s property and confiscated by the Nazis. Earlier this year, they persuaded a New York State court of the merits of their claim, and a judge ordered that two of the Schieles... be returned to the family." [NYTimes

LongRead: The Liberty of Nations — by Yoram Hazony: "A more compelling anti-nationalist position was proposed by Elie Kedourie in his 1960 book “Nationalism,” which founded an entire academic movement devoted to analyzing the shortcomings of nationalism. Kedourie, an Iraqi-Jewish scholar who admired the Ottoman and British empires, understood that nationalism is not a mental state. It is a political theory that suggests the world is governed best when it is divided into diverse nations, each having independence and self-government... Nationalism is “a chain reaction, a vicious circle,” Kedourie wrote, observing that minorities on the wrong side of an international border become “a foreign body in the state” and are persecuted by the majority as it strives either to assimilate or expel them. Perhaps most important, Kedourie believed that nationalist agitation over borders had precipitated the devastating conflicts of the 20th century." [WSJ

SPORTS BLINK — Falcons Owner Arthur Blank Once Ripped Robert Kraft For Donald Trump Support — by Joshua Schrock: "In New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich’s new book “Big Game, The NFL In Dangerous Times,” Blank recounted a time that he ripped his good friend Kraft for his support of Trump... “I said, ‘You f*****, you’ve given him a lot of money,’ “ Blank told Kraft. “You have influence and spend time with him,’“ Blank persisted. “‘Robert, there are things he’s saying and doing that are not great for this country. And the smartest people in the world today, you know they’re viewing him as a four-year mistake.’” [NESN; NBCSports]

Entrepreneur Michael Rubin Got an Early Start — by Alexandra Wolfe: "By the time the e-commerce entrepreneur and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin was eight years old, he was making money selling vegetable seeds, homemade stationery and snow-shoveling services. By the time he turned 11, he had set up his own ski-tuning shop in his parents’ basement. At 16 he found himself deep in debt—some of his ski inventory wasn’t selling, and he had splurged on a new Porsche for himself before even getting his license. His father had to bail him out... Today, the e-commerce entrepreneur owns businesses such as Fanatics and Rue Gilt Groupe, and is worth an estimated $3 billion."

"In the next several years, Mr. Rubin hopes to buy an NFL team. Last spring, he was bidding to buy the Carolina Panthers but says that he dropped out when it looked like the price would go higher than he was willing to pay... Looking back, Mr. Rubin says that he wishes he’d had more of a childhood. “I could never get to class on time because I was buying and selling clothes,” he says. “I was moving so fast.” If he could do it all over again, he thinks that he could have waited until graduating from college to start his business. “I’d probably be a normal kid and not be so rushed.” [WSJ

REMEMBERING — Neil Simon, Broadway Master of Comedy, Is Dead at 91 — by Charles Isherwood: "Neil Simon, the playwright... who helped redefine popular American humor... died on Sunday in Manhattan... Mr. Simon and Woody Allen... were probably equally significant in shaping the currents of American comedy in the 1960s and ’70s... Together they helped make the comedy of urban neurosis — distinctly Jewish-inflected — as American as the homespun humor of “Leave It to Beaver.” ... Mr. Allen and Mr. Simon, who shared roots in the urban Jewish lower middle classes, were also united by the classic funnyman’s ability to inspire belly laughs by the millions in other people while managing to find the dark clouds hovering insistently over their own fates." [NYTimes

Princeton Lyman, U.S. ambassador who helped guide South Africa out of apartheid, dies at 82 — by Matt Schudel: "Princeton Lyman, a career diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and later to South Africa, where he helped engineer the transition from the country’s apartheid era of white supremacy to a multiracial, democratically elected government in the 1990s, died Aug. 24 at his home in Silver Spring, Md... Princeton Nathan Lyman was born Nov. 20, 1935, in San Francisco. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania who ran a corner grocery store in a largely African American neighborhood." [WashPost]

DESSERT — Kosher Dairy Marks 80 Years At Center Of East Village Life — by Caroline Spivack: "[B&H Dairy] was founded by Abie Bergson in 1938 for a generation of Jewish immigrants, serving Yiddish comfort-staples including crisp latkes, knishes and borscht... Today, it is run by an Egyptian Muslim, Fawzy Abdelwahed, and his Polish Catholic wife, Ola Smigielska, who try and keep things consistent... Locals who began noshing on blintzes when they were kids now bring their children to the restaurant for the timeless grub, but also to mingle with cashiers, waiters and cooks who have worked at the restaurant for years." [Patch

The Invitation-Only Kosher Gourmet Dinner Club — by Shira Feder: "At The Musket Club, the new kosher gourmet dinner club that operates on word-of-mouth, the menu only comes at the end of the meal. The chefs want the food to be a surprise, and it often is." [Forward]

Magazine names Covenant winemaker a ‘40 under 40’ innovator — by Alix Wall: "Jonathan Hajdu, associate winemaker at Covenant Winery, a kosher business in Berkeley, has been named one of Wine Enthusiast magazine’s “40 Under 40 American Tastemakers.” [JWeekly]

BIRTHDAYS: Former director of the White House National Economic Council in the Trump administration (2017-2018), he was previously the president and COO of Goldman Sachs (2006-2017), Gary Cohn turns 58... Ambassador of Israel to Poland, she previously was Consul General in San Francisco (1989-1992), ambassador to Ukraine (1999-2003) and ambassador to Russia (2007-2010), Anna Azari turns 59... Director of international affairs in the Peres & Associates firm after serving as an advisor to President Shimon Peres, he was previously an Israeli diplomat, Nadav Tamir turns 57... Washington editor-at-large of The Atlantic and editor-in-chief of AtlanticLIVE, the magazine's live events series, Steve Clemons turns 56...

Israeli-born professor of computer science at Stanford University focused on artificial intelligence, she is a 2004 winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Daphne Koller turns 50... Member of the Illinois House of Representatives (2011-2013) and the Illinois Senate since 2013, he was previously an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, Daniel Biss turns 41... Senior adviser at FDD, former deputy chief of staff for Sen. Mark Kirk and chief of staff for Gov. Bruce Rauner, Richard Goldberg turns 35... Co-founder of theSkimm, Danielle Merriah Weisberg turns 32... Michael Weiss turns 24... Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Shai Babad... Yuval Sapir... Talia Rubin...

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