Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: August 28, 2018

West Wing 'interventionists' and NFL characters, Milken crowd's influence grows in Trump era | Report: Saudi King keeping MBS in check | New Pence book deems VP a 'shadow president'

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence salutes members of the U.S. military at the National World War II museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. August 23, 2018
\ JONATHAN BACHMAN/ REUTERS

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HEARD IN THE HAMPTONS — Milken, Mnuchin Join Blankfein in the Hamptons to Fix World — by Amanda Gordon: "Fashion was hardly the point of Michael Milken’s whirlwind four-day stay in the Hamptons, during which he oversaw about 20 power sessions put on by the Milken Institute and hosted by billionaires at their homes... Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed affordable housing and opportunity zones... For Richard LeFrak, the panel at his home in Southampton had him rethinking his SoLe Mia development in Miami... Lloyd Blankfein took part in the panel on education where Merryl Tisch told him he should run the New York City school system when he steps down as Goldman Sachs CEO. Other offers are coming. “We’re going to try to recruit him,” Milken said."

"Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham talked foreign policy. WorldQuant founder Igor Tulchinsky hosted a panel on predictions, and Mike Novogratz of Galaxy Investment Partners hosted one on blockchain... Tony Ressler of Ares Management... participated in other sessions. Mark Ein, owner of the Washington Kastles of World TeamTennis, was looking into buying an eSports team after the session at Steve Cohen’s house featuring Noah Whinston, the 24-year-old founder of the Immortals. Ein also won the elite division of the doubles tennis tournament... and thanked David Rubenstein for the job out of Harvard Business School that gave him enough time to play tennis."

Pollster Frank Luntz’s take on a pardon for Milken? “I think he’s on his way to sainthood, which is hard to get if you’re Jewish.” [Bloomberg]

TALK OF THE MILKEN CROWD — Mark Leibovich's new book on the NFL; excerpted in the NYT today: "Several N.F.L. owners had known Trump for years, with Robert Kraft being his highest-profile friend among them. (Kraft has given him a Super Bowl ring.) But Kraft, too, is a politician, of sorts, who seems to do his best to please as many audiences as he can; in part through having mastered the art of saying quite different things for public and private consumption. His friendship with Trump provides a case in point." 

"Kraft loves being a presidential buddy but is also aware that many of his plutocrat friends don’t approve. So Kraft is quick to mention to his friends — privately — that he disagrees with Trump on many issues and with many of the incendiary things the president has done and said. But he would rather have the presidential ear and try to be a positive influence." [NYTimesMag]

-- Leibovich writes that NFL powwows "are like ESPN reporter Adam Schefter’s bar mitzvah.”

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Trump Rejects White House “Intervention” and Goes It Alone — by Gabriel Sherman: "Two sources briefed on the matter told me that senior officials talked about inviting Rudy Giuliani and a group of Trump’s New York real-estate friends including Tom BarrackRichard LeFrak, and Howard Lorber to the White House to stage an “intervention” last week. “It was supposed to be a war council,” one source explained. But Trump refused to take the meeting, sources said. “You know Trump—he hates being lectured to,” the source added." 

"Even Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are unsettled that Trump is so gleefully acting on his most self-destructive impulses as his legal peril grows. According to a source, Jared and Ivanka told Trump that stripping security clearances from former intelligence officials would backfire, but Trump ignored them. Kushner later told a friend Trump “got joy” out of taking away John Brennan’s clearance." [VanityFair]

New Pence book deems VP a 'shadow president' — by Elizabeth Landers: "The authors deem Pence a "replacement president," pointing to his recent trips this year to Israel and South Korea where he presided over "landmark events." [CNN]

— "[Andrea] Neal even compares Pence to the Bible’s Queen Esther." [TheGuardian

JARED INSIDER — Kushner and Lighthizer Pressed for Deal Before Mexican President Leaves Office — by Vivian Salama and Michael Bender: "Behind the scenes, three individuals are said to have led the talks over the finish line: Mr. Trump’s top adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner; U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; and Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray... Mr. Kushner developed relationships with Mexican officials, and his closeness to Mr. Trump was leveraged at key moments, including on intellectual-property issues." 

"Messrs. Kushner and Videgaray had met during Mr. Trump’s campaign jaunt to Mexico City. The relationship between them developed “beyond a working relationship into a friendship,” according to one person with knowledge of their dynamics... Mr. Videgaray, according to the official, visited the White House as many as 45 times since Mr. Trump took office... Mr. Videgaray has been to Mr. Kushner’s home as many as 10 times." [WSJ

HEARD YESTERDAY — Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso on Fox News' Ingraham Angle with Laura Ingraham: "Jared has been absolutely instrumental. I would say that we would never have arrived at this day without Jared's hard work, with his vision and just his courage. You know, we have been through some rough matches in this relationship. We've had our moments where it seemed we were almost falling apart. And at those very difficult times, Jared was there, holding up the relationship and enabling this moment to happen." 

PRIMARY DAY — Voters in Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma head to the polls today for Republican and Democratic primaries. [Vox]

RACES TO WATCH — FLORIDA: In the 9th Congressional District, former Congressman Alan Grayson is challenging incumbent Rep. Darren Soto to reclaim the safe Democratic seat he gave up in 2016 for a failed U.S. Senate bid. 

Alan Grayson’s Last Stand — by Mark Pinsky: "Grayson is confident about his chances, yet philosophical about possibly losing this time. It would not necessarily be the end of his political career—“I could run for state office or federal office”—he says, but winning this time would give him “the advantage of helping people in their lives,” he says." [PoliticoMag]

In the 16th District, Jan Schneider and David Shapiro are competing in a Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) in the fall. In the 18th District, Lauren Baer, of Baer's Furniture family, is running in a Democratic primary to take on incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), who is also facing a GOP primary challenge. In the 23rd District, Joe Kaufman is seeking the Republican Party's nomination for another rematch against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz avoided a primary challenge after Tim Canova, who ran against her in 2016, decided to run as an independent. 

In the 27th District, 9 Republicans and 5 Democrats are seeking their respective party's nomination to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R). The seat is rated 'Lean Democratic' by the Cook Political Report. 

Florida's gubernatorial race: Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL06) and Adam Putnam are running in the Republican primary to replace outgoing Governor Rick Scott (R), who's running for the U.S. Senate against Senator Bill Nelson (D). DeSantis, backed by President Donald Trump, was a strong advocate for the Jerusalem Embassy move. Putnam worked with Israeli water technology companies in his capacity as Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture. 

— On the Democratic side: Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and real estate investor Jeff Greene are among the seven candidates vying to take back the governor's office for Democrats, which would be the first in 20 years. 

‘Sick of Losing,’ Democrats Race to the End of a Wild Florida Primary for Governor — by Patricia Mazzei and Jonathan Martin: "Mr. Levine... realized quickly that he cut a similar profile to Mr. Greene. Both are self-made Jewish entrepreneurs from South Florida, and voters appeared to confuse them. So Mr. Levine refined his message, comparing Mr. Greene, who until recently was a member of President Trump’s elite Mar-a-Lago club, with another wealthy Palm Beach real-estate investor turned politician with no prior government experience. “We have a president who’s in this situation,” Mr. Levine said after a recent debate in Palm Beach Gardens. “We are not going to test you on the top job.” [NYTimes]

— Philip Levine signs vandalized with Nazi swastikas — by Steven Lemongello: "The two signs, in western St. Petersburg, were both vandalized with black spray paint marking out the Nazi symbol. “As Governor, I will never be held hostage to hatred, or bigotry, or intolerance,” said Levine, who is Jewish. “Never. All candidates should speak out against this intolerable behavior. We are better than the haters, bigger than the bigots, and tomorrow we will show them why." [OrlandoSentinel]

ARIZONA: Deedra Abboud, a Muslim American, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ09) are running in the Democratic primary to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R). Abboud, former Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Arizona chapter, is a supporter of the two-state solution. Sinema has a controversial past on Israel. A bruising GOP primary between Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02), Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward could leave the Republican victor vulnerable in November. 

HAPPENING TODAY: U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and the State Department's Special Envoy for Iran, Brian Hook will speak at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' National Security Summit in Washington, DC at 10:00 AM EDT. Haley will also be presented with the FDD's Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Statesmanship Award by Chief Executive Mark Dubowitz. [Livestream

TALK OF THE REGION — Trump is busting the myths that prevent Middle East peace — by Benny Avni: "Jonathan Schanzer... argues that as Trump’s presentation of his “deal of the century” peace plan nears, Washington is seeking to weaken the Palestinian Authority... Now vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Schanzer observes that Trump is sharply veering away from traditional US peacemakers who “brought Israel and the Palestinians to the table as equals, as if the Palestinians have significant power.” [NYPost

Israel, US seek to redefine Palestinian refugees — by Ben Caspit: “UNRWA is an organization that — instead of solving the refugee problem — perpetuates it,” former UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told Al-Monitor... "UNRWA has become a monster employing tens of thousands of people in order to perpetuate a whole industry. This makes any attempt to discuss a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.” 

— When the president announced Aug. 23 that now it’s the Palestinians’ turn to "get something very good" in return for the embassy move, it did not generate much worry in Jerusalem. If Trump resolved the refugee issue and the Jerusalem issue so elegantly, jokes a high-placed Likud minister, then all that remains is for Israelis to hope that he will revoke his recognition of the Palestinian people. [Al-Monitor]

Netanyahu sees path to Palestinian peace in Israeli-Arab ties: "Many Arab countries now see Israel not as their enemy but as their indispensable ally in pushing back Iranian aggression," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Lithuania's LRT public broadcaster which aired on Monday. [YahooNews]

Saudi king tipped the scale against Aramco IPO plans: "The shelving of the Aramco IPO is a major blow to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform program, which aims to fundamentally transform Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent, state-driven economy. It suggests [King Salman] is keeping the new unilateral power of the young prince... in check... Most notably, when MBS gave the impression last year that Riyadh endorsed the Trump administration’s still nebulous Middle East peace plan, including U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the king made a public correction... “The king is obsessed with the idea of how history will judge him. Will he be the king who sold Aramco, who sold Palestine?” a source said." [Reuters]

-- Michael Koplow: "This story illustrates why MBS cannot just upend longstanding Saudi policy on the Palestinians, Jerusalem, and the peace process either. MBS may act like the king and he might even be one yet, but at the moment he’s out over his skis."

ON THE GROUND — Egypt and Qatar are working on 2 very different deals for Gaza; both are stalled — by Avi Issacharoff: "Intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks have stalled, for a start, with another round of discussions in Cairo between senior Fatah officials and Egyptian intelligence on the topic having ended recently without yielding results... The real problem is more substantive: Doha and Cairo are taking two very different paths to a calmer future — and those paths do not even end up at the same destination." [ToI]

REPORT — US offers to pull out of Syria if Iran leaves country's south: "The United States has reportedly told the Assad regime it will remove its forces from Syria if Iran removes its forces from the country's south, where it borders Israel and Jordan, Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported on Tuesday. The report first appeared in the Beirut-based Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Akhbar daily newspaper. The Americans, according to Al-Akhbar, also asked that American energy companies be allowed to pursue oil interests in eastern Syria... The Syrian regime rejected the American proposal." [IsraelHayom]

REMEMBERING JOHN MCCAIN — Pallbearers, speakers announced for McCain's DC memorial service and Capitol ceremony — by Emily Birnbaum: "The pallbearers, who will help carry his coffin at the Washington National Cathedral memorial service on Saturday afternoon, include... former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.)... Tributes and readings will be offered by former President George Bush, former President Barack Obama, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)." [TheHill; Axios]

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro writes... "John McCain Made Israelis Feel He Was One of Them: Although he was rarely in Israel more than a day, there was invariably a buzz in the air when McCain was on the ground. If we stopped in a hotel lobby or a restaurant or went out for a stroll, Israelis immediately recognized him and came up to shake his hand... I think Israelis respected McCain because of his strong record of support for Israel’s ability to defend itself, but also because the arc of his life resonated so strongly with their experience." [Haaretz

Frank Bruni writes... "Death in the Age of Narcissism: Just before and after John McCain’s death on Saturday, I read many tweets, Facebook posts and essays that beautifully captured his importance. I read many that were equally concerned with the importance of their authors: Here’s how much time I spent around McCain. I’m also close to his daughter Meghan. This is the compliment he once gave me. This is what I said back...."

"Were these hymns to McCain or arias of self-congratulation? The line blurred as the focus swerved from the celebrated to the celebrator. I blame social media, which can make some kind of immediate response seem almost compulsory, like a homework assignment. It’s a midwife to bad judgment and a narcissism multiplier, with its promise of likes and shares." [NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Roman Abramovich will demand an offer of at least £2.5 billion to consider selling Chelsea [TheTimes]  Kushner Companies and Michael Cohen Accused of Falsifying Building Permits to Push Out Tenants [NYTimes]  Tinder co-founder Sean Rad claims he was forced to sell his Match and IAC stock over threat of being fired [TheVerge]  Campbell’s Dan Loeb rejection could set off ugly proxy fight [NYPost]

STARTUP NATION — Israeli Startup Fiverr Eyeing IPO at $1 Billion Valuation — by Eran Azran: "Fiverr, the Israeli startup that provides an online marketplace for freelance services, is gearing up for an initial public offering in the United States that will value the company at $1 billion... The company, founded in 2010 by Shai Wininger and Micha Kaufman, has begun meeting with potential Wall Street underwriters with a target date for completing the offering at the start of next year, sources said." [Haaretz

Top Facebook communications exec Rachel Whetstone is departing for Netflix — by Kara Swisher: "Rachel Whetstone is leaving the top corporate communications job at Facebook and will take one running public relations for Netflix... Whetstone... arrived just over a year ago to run comms for WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. But she quickly was dragooned to help deal with the buzzsaw of controversy about many fraught issues..." [Recode]  

Holy nights: New Marriott rooms to get Bible, Book of Mormon — by  Dee-Ann Durbin: "Marriott International, which bought Starwood two years ago, has begun putting copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in the recently-acquired hotels... Starwood — which was founded by Jewish businessman Barry Sternlicht in 1991 — also includes nearly a dozen brands such as the St. Regis, Le Meridien, Aloft and Four Points. Some brands, however, are holier than others. Starwood’s 50 W hotels... won’t get the books." [AP]

INTERVIEW — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro talks about the anti-Semitism he faced leading the investigation of the clergy sexual abuse case: "My faith and my family are central to my life and ground me. We do celebrate the Sabbath each week together as a family. As a person of deep faith, I was deeply offended by the weaponization of faith that we found in the grand jury investigation. I am in public service because Scripture teaches us that no one is required to complete the task, but neither are we free to refrain from it. Everyone has a responsibility to get off the sidelines, get in the game and do their part."

Did you ever encounter any pushback fighting the Catholic Church on this issue as a Jewish man?

Shapiro: "Certainly I’ve experienced anti-Semitism. There were a number of statements, emails. I don’t read a lot of my social media, but social media postings like that, that were just clearly anti-Semitic. I frankly don’t pay any of that much mind. If at the end of the day, your response to the grand jury report, which uncovered this type of horrific abuse and cover-up, is to attack me with an anti-Semitic slur, then frankly you’ve got the issue." [NYTimes

ACROSS THE POND — Labour frontbencher used taxpayers’ cash in bid to gag assistant — by  Georgia Edkins: "A Labour MP paid off his Jewish Parliamentary assistant with taxpayers’ money after she accused him of religious discrimination... Khalid Mahmood, the shadow foreign minister for Europe and MP for BirminghamPerry Barr, was taken to an employment tribunal by his former lover and assistant Elaina Cohen... Claims of religious discrimination first surfaced when Mr. Mahmood disciplined Miss Cohen after she called another Labour MP, Naz Shah, an ‘anti-Zionist’ in a tweet in 2016... The shocking revelation comes as hundreds of complaints of anti-Semitism against Labour Party members are thought to remain unaddressed, according to The Times." [DailyMail; Telegraph

Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Corbyn's 'Zionist' remarks 'most offensive' since Enoch Powell [TheJC]

Eli Lake writes... "Jeremy Corbyn’s Warped Worldview: All decent people should stand athwart Labour’s drift into darkness. At the same time, to focus on Corbyn’s anti-Semitism is to miss the wider context of his worldview. He embraces not only the rogues, fanatics and terrorists that despise Israel. He likes the ones that despise America and the U.K., too." [BloombergView

SPORTS BLINK — An Unlikely Courtside View of an Unlikely Qualifier — by Marc Stein: "[Julia] Glushko had just put herself in the main draw of the United States Open for the first time since 2014, securing her spot with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory in final-round qualifying over the Russian teenager Anastasia Potopova... With the retirement of the former world No. 11 Shahar Pe’er last year, Glushko is now Israel’s top-ranked woman." [NYTimes]

Alice Paul Tapper, daughter of Jake, has picture book coming: "Jake Tapper isn’t the only author in his family... Alice Paul Tapper, who turned 11 on Monday, has collaborated with illustrator Marta Kissi on “Raise Your Hand.” The book originates from an idea Alice and fellow Girl Scouts developed after Alice noticed that on a school trip the boys spoke up and girls remained quiet." [AP

TRANSITION: Daniel Mitzner has been appointed as Teach Advocacy Network's newly-created position of Director of State Political Affairs. Mitzner previously served as AIPAC's director of the Brooklyn, Queens & Staten Island region. 

BIRTHDAYS: Tech executive, social activist and author, she is the COO of Facebook since 2008 having been VP of global sales at Google (2001-2008), Sheryl Sandberg turns 49... Independent international trade and development professional, Bernard Kupferschmid turns 87... Professor Emeritus of quantum physics at Tel Aviv University, Yakir Aharonov turns 86... Retired general counsel of Queens College of the City University of New York, Jane Denkensohn turns 70... Canadian businesswoman and philanthropist, she is the founder and CEO of retail chain Indigo Books & Music and co-founder and past Chair of Kobo, Heather Reisman turns 70... Founder and CEO of Health Innovation Strategies, she was previously the VP of Innovation at Biogen and Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children's Hospital, Naomi Fried, Ph.D. turns 52... First deputy commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and a lecturer at Columbia Law School, Kai Falkenberg turns 45... Israeli soldier held captive for over 5 years (2006-2011) by Hamas, Gilad Shalit turns 32...