Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: August 7, 2017

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File photo: Sen. Ron Wyden talks with reporters following the Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol August 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.
File photo: Sen. Ron Wyden talks with reporters following the Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol August 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Credit: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/AFP

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Tu B'Av: "Google Doodle Celebrates Tu Be'av, Israel's Holiday of Love" by Joseph Hincks: "It's that special time of year again in Israel: Tu Be'av, the day of love. Often referred to as the Jewish version of Valentine's Day, the holiday was treated in Google's time-honored tradition of celebrating amorous dates with... pangolins, of course." [TimeMag]

SCENE IN JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with a group of Democratic members of Congress visiting Israel on a trip led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and sponsored by AIPAC's AIEF affiliate. [Pic] Any JI reader who can correctly identify at least 15 seated individuals in this picture, will receive a shoutout in tomorrow's Daily Kickoff. Email

KAFE KNESSET -- “Business as usual” -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: One of Netanyahu’s confidants told Kafe Knesset: “It is better for us not to be dragged into a battle of containment with all the information coming out, and the best defense line is to show that we are working as usual. If we respond to every report or development, the public will see a PM who is constantly occupied with his legal affairs and they won’t necessarily tolerate it for a long time. So it is better to focus on leading the country.” ... However, the State’s Witness agreement signed with Ari Harow has definitely been at the top of Netanyahu’s concerns for days, and over the weekend he held intensive consultations to deal with the developments. 

Under the terms of the State’s Witness agreement Harow will be paying a 700,000 shekel fine and doing community service instead of serving prison time for his own felonies. “It is not like Shula Zaken. It is not that I broke the law together with Netanyahu and now I am seeking to bring him down to avoid punishment,” Harow was qouted by Channel 2’s Amit Segal last night, referring to the infamous State’s Witness deal signed with the closest assistant of former PM Ehud Olmert which was a crucial stage in the latter’s indictment. “The definition of a State’s Witness is an internal figure who turns on his boss. This not the case. I am not a classic ‘State’s Witness’ – not in the offenses that I am accused of and not in the agreement I signed.” Harow added that he “did not think in real time that these were criminal offenses, and even now I do not pretend to think so, so the argument that I am ‘opening up on Netanyahu’ is incorrect,” he said. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

"As Netanyahu Investigators Close In, Some Ask: How Long Can He Hold On?" by  Isabel Kershner: "Any actual indictment could still be many months off, and most analysts, including [Sima] Kadmon, doubt that Mr. Netanyahu, a political survivor who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, will be going anywhere soon..." [NYTimes]

“Palestinian Officials: Israel Peace Talks Are a Non-starter While Netanyahu Under Investigation” by Jack Khoury: “What the Palestinian leadership is afraid of is that Netanyahu may make moves to appease the Israeli right wing that will have serious ramifications in the field and bury the two-state solution According to [a source close to Abbas], the Palestinian leadership is beginning to believe that U.S. President Donald Trump won’t present any initiative in the near term, and even if the White House intends to do so it will prefer to wait until Netanyahu’s situation is clarified. If the investigations lead to Netanyahu being replaced or to new elections, the Palestinians say, everything will have to be reevaluated.” [Haaretz

THE DAILY KUSHNER: "Jared Kushner looks for a deal in the Middle East" by Katrina Manson and John Reed: “We’re very targeted, strategic, direct — I don’t want to say less diplomatic because we try to be diplomatic — and we try to break through issues,” said a senior White House official... Informal advisers such as World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder... are encouraging Mr Kushner that a two-state solution is achievable... While the Trump administration has yet to present the Palestinians with a plan, Husam Zomlot, chief representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Washington, meets Mr Kushner regularly. He said he is “100 per cent supportive” of their efforts... The senior White House official insists the work has to go ahead “on parallel tracks” — defusing day-to-day tensions and keeping the big picture in mind. “We still remain as optimistic as we've ever been.” [FinancialTimes] (subscription)

"Palestinians warn Abbas could dismantle PA in 2018" by Uri Savir: "The [Palestinian] official noted that given recent events, the diplomatic window of opportunity regarding any possible initiative by US President Donald Trump and his team may close in the months after the UN General Assembly meeting in September... Abbas has altered his rhetoric in internal leadership deliberations and is threatening, in the case of diplomatic failure and greater violence, to resign at the end of the year and dismantle the PA. Abbas’ mood is more militant nowadays. The official recounted that Abbas was disappointed with the lack of Arab support during the Temple Mount crisis, and he found the US intervention through envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt very lacking." [Al-Monitor

“The End of This Road: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement” by Palestinian negotiators Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi: “Abbas (Abu Mazen), represents the last slender chance for a negotiated settlement: he is the sole remaining national leader of his people with sufficient, if dwindling, authority to sign and ratify a deal. For President Trump and his team, as well as for all those seeking to end this century-plus-old conflict, there should be no doubt about the moment’s urgency. After Abbas, there will be no other truly weighty representative and legitimate Palestinian leadership, and no coherent national movement to sustain it for a long time to come.” [NewYorker

“Trapped between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s wasted generation is going nowhere” by William Booth and Hazem Balousha: “In many interviews, in their torn-just-so jeans and fresh white sneakers, Gaza’s young people today say they would rather fight for a job in Tel Aviv than fight Israelis. “If the borders were open, I’d work in Israel in a minute. I got absolutely no problem with that. Everybody would work in Israel,” said Iyad Abu Heweila, 24, who graduated with a degree in English education two years ago but now spends his days hanging out “I know it’s bad, but sometimes I wonder, if there’s another war with Israel, maybe there would be work for translators?” Heweila asked.” [WashPost]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Trump Defends McMaster Against Calls for His Firing” by Peter Baker: “General McMaster and I are working very well together,” he said in a statement... “He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.” A senior White House official added that Mr. Trump has “total confidence” in his national security adviser At one point on Friday, Breitbart News, formerly run by Mr. Bannon, had close to a dozen headlines on its home page about General McMaster, like “McMaster ‘Deeply Hostile to Israel and to Trump.’” “General McMaster is a true public servant and a tremendous asset for the president and the administration,” Jared Kushner said in an email.”

“Eliot A. Cohen, a former State Department counselor under President George W. Bush and a staunch critic of Mr. Trump, used words like “terrific” and “thoughtful” to describe General McMaster. “He’s infinitely better than Michael Flynn; he’s infinitely better than some of the crazies that you could have,” Mr. Cohen said. “But I believe he’s just going to have very limited success because of Trump.” [NYTimes Israeli officials say under-fire McMaster a great friend of Israel [ToI

Mark Dubowitz “Today I pulled up everything I could find that McMaster has said on Iran dating back to 2007. If he isn't tough-minded, I don't know who is.” [Twitter

“White House ‘Enemies List’ Drove McMaster-Bannon Feud” by Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, Kimberly Dozier and Spencer Ackerman: “An internal White House enemies list of alleged Obama loyalists to be fired early in the Trump administration is a key contributor to a long-running feud between the National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon NSC intelligence director Ezra Cohen-Watnick and ret. Col. Derek Harvey, the NSC Mideast director had meetings with Bannon throughout their tenure, described as hushed national-security related “chats,” by one senior White House official, without seeking McMaster’s permission beforehand These “chats” between Bannon and Harvey and Cohen Watnick... contributed to McMaster’s desire to “finally make moves against” them, as one senior official recounted.”

“A source close to McMaster claims it also follows a pattern of leaks to right-wing blogger [Mike] Cernovich that he blamed on Cohen-Watnick, in which minor NSC staffers would be called out for anti-Trump infractions like being seen talking to a former Obama official According to multiple administration sources, it became a source of bemusement among staffers that if one crossed Cohen-Watnick in a staff meeting, a punishing leak to Cernovich would often quickly follow.” [DailyBeast

“The Mooch's replacement could be Stephen Miller” by Mike Allen: “Stephen Miller, the Trump senior policy adviser who just tangled on-camera with CNN's Jim Acosta, is under consideration for White House communications director, top Trump sources tell me... Miller is not the top contender, the sources said.” [Axios

IRAN DEAL: “Iran vows 'unified' response to breach of nuclear deal” by Amir Vahdat: “Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that his administration and country will show a "unified" response to a breach of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal The Saturday remarks by the Iranian president came during the swearing in ceremony for his second term as president. Iran's state TV reported that more than 130 high-ranking officials from various countries and international organizations attended the ceremony in Tehran. Among them was EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who coordinates follow-up of Iran's nuclear deal... "Those who intend to tear down the deal, should know that they are tearing down their political life," said Rouhani, without elaborating.” [ABCNews

"How Trump can confront Iran without blowing up the nuclear deal" by Josh Rogin: "If Trump is determined to get the United States out of the Iran deal, nobody can stop him. But if the majority of his national security team gets its way, Trump will repeat what he did with Cuba: make minimal changes to the policy, then declare he has undone Obama’s “terrible deal” and fulfilled a campaign promise. And if Trump can’t bring himself to certify Iran’s compliance anymore, he should at least minimize the chances his decision will cause a diplomatic crisis and distract the United States from the mission of combating Iran’s other nefarious activities." [WashPost]

“Trump is trying to politicize intelligence to support his Iran policy. That’s dangerous” by David Cohen: “When I traveled the world to build support for sanctions on Iran by presenting intelligence (with authorization, of course) on the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, the hangover from the Iraq intelligence failure was palpable. But because our intelligence on Iran was unquestionably sound, we were able to persuade dozens of countries to work with us in pressuring Iran.” [WashPost]  

“In Afghanistan, U.S. Exits, and Iran Comes In” by Carlotta Gall: “Iran has come to see the Taliban not only as the lesser of its enemies but also as a useful proxy force Iran has sent squads of assassins, secretly nurtured spies and infiltrated police ranks and government departments, especially in western provinces, Afghan officials say But it could have been prevented, in the view of [Timor] Sharan. “The fact is that America created this void,” he said. “This vacuum encouraged countries to get involved. The Syria issue gave confidence to Iran and Russia, and now that confidence is playing out in Afghanistan.” [NYTimes]

SUMMER WHITE HOUSE -- “President Trump is going on vacation to Bedminster. His critics are going to hate it” by David Jackson: Tevi Troy, who worked in the George W. Bush administration, criticized what he called the hypocrisy surrounding commentary on presidential vacations – the out-party criticizes the in-president over them, roles that reverse when the White House changes political parties. "It's the most obvious and blatant hypocrisy," Troy said. "Presidents of both parties deserve to have a vacation." As perhaps a warning against avoiding a break from a very stressful job, Troy cited the example of a president who did not take any long vacations: James K. Polk." [USAToday

UNGA WATCH: “Trump may host visiting leaders at his N.J. golf club during upcoming U.N. gathering” by  Anne Gearan: “Trump will potentially meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, diplomats said. Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband, presidential adviser Jared Kushner, are also both expected to play roles during the gathering known as UNGA. Vera Jelinek, director of the Center for Global Affairs at New York University, said she expects Trump to highlight his administration’s view that the United Nations is biased against Israel, but also to cast himself as a global statesman.” [WashPost

ANTI BOYCOTT ACT: “Wyden pressed on Israeli anti-boycott legislation, talks healthcare at Wilson High” by Eder Campuzano: “The Democratic senator's co-sponsorship of Senate Bill 720... drew some of the most prolonged questions and back-and-forths as Wyden explained his position "As we have read the bill, it means that anybody in this audience can boycott Israeli products or say they intend to boycott Israeli products," he said. What the bill won't allow, Wyden told the audience, is collaboration "with a foreign government to promote the boycott" of Israeli products, just as U.S. companies are barred from doing under the Export Administration Act of 1979.” [Oregonlive

"Democratic Socialists of America vote to endorse BDS on Shabbat" by Shoshana Kranish: "The Democratic Socialists of America, whose membership has more than tripled in recent years, currently counts some 25,000 dues-paying members, and has long championed the Palestinian cause. While the movement is not officially associated with Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, the two are aligned politically. DSA was an official participant in the Women's March in January 2017, of which Sarsour was a co-organizer." [JPost]  The socialist movement is getting younger, thanks to one 75-year-old [WashPost]

2020 WATCH: ”Republican Shadow Campaign for 2020 Takes Shape as Trump Doubts Grow” by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns: “In the wider world of conservative Trump opponents, William Kristol, editor at large of The Weekly Standard, said he had begun informal conversations about creating a “Committee Not to Renominate the President.” “We need to take one shot at liberating the Republican Party from Trump, and conservatism from Trumpism,” Mr. Kristol said Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations... put her longtime pollster on the payroll, has gotten better acquainted with some of New York's financiers and carved out a far more muscular foreign policy niche than Mr. Trump.” [NYTimes Political Donors Put Their Money Where the Memes Are [NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Rent The Runway's Jenn Hyman featured on the latest episode of How I Built This with Guy Raz [NPR] The promoter Seth Hurwitz has succeeded by creating high-quality venues and catering to artists’ needs. His latest undertaking is no exception [NYTimes]  Meet Ted Frank: This Lawyer Is Making It Less Profitable to Sue When Companies Merge [Businessweek]  The World’s Most Feared Investor, Paul Singer [Bloomberg] We Want Answers: Josh Kopelman on Technology’s Next Wave of Disruption [PhillyMag]  WeWork to Pump $500 Million Into Southeast Asia, South Korea [Bloomberg]

SPOTLIGHT: "Some of L.A.'s richest people oversee USC. They will decide what to do after the dean drug scandal. Out of 57 voting trustees, only three have commented" by Sonali Kohli: "The full board of trustees, which includes director Steven Spielberg, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and mall magnate Rick J. Caruso, must ultimately determine whether USC President C.L. Max Nikias, himself a voting member, and other top administrators acted appropriately with regard to Puliafito... Wealth is a common thread in the trustee roster. About a dozen are billionaires, including developer Ed Roski; Miriam Adelson, an addiction specialist and the wife of casino owner Sheldon Adelson; Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff." [LATimes]

"Google Camp is for tech royalty and British royalty alike" by Claire Atkinson: "Google Camp in southern Italy last week was the place to be for newfound tech royalty... The exclusive get-together was hosted by Alphabet boss Larry Page and Google chief Sundar Pichai and attended by Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel and Netflix’s Reed Hastings. The luminaries also included Britain’s Prince Harry, Emma Watson, Sean Penn and the NBA’s Kevin Durant, who ate local Sicillian specialties. Music empresario David Geffen was even posting Instagrams, sources told On the Money. Guests dined under the gaze of the historic Valley of Temples in Agrigento. Google hired Lenny Kravitz and Elton John to perform." [NYPost]

"Billionaire Chelsea F.C. owner Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova separate" by Ian Mohr: "Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and his wife of 10 years, gorgeous Garage Magazine founder Dasha Zhukova, have separated. The jet-setting pair, who have two children, say the split is amicable. They confirmed their separation in a joint statement, exclusively telling Page Six: “After 10 years together, the two of us have made the difficult decision to separate, but we remain close friends, parents and partners in the projects we developed together. We are committed to jointly raising our two children. We will also continue to work together as co-founders of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and the New Holland Island cultural center in Saint Petersburg.” [PageSix]

--Yahoo News anchor Bianna Golodryga tweets: "Dasha is very close with Ivanka Trump. Attended the inauguration as a guest." [Twitter]

“Gary Cohn Takes a Brief Trump Break at Hamptons Party for Pink” by Amanda L Gordon: “The former Goldman Sachs president reappeared on the Hamptons social scene that he had long inhabited before joining Donald Trump’s administration -- attending the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s Party for Pink in Bridgehampton with his wife, the artist Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn and daughter Chelsea Cohn, a senior at Brown University... [Gary Cohen] declined to comment on the Federal Reserve position but confirmed that even at the party he was on duty. “I haven’t had a phone call in an hour,” Cohn said. He gestured to his pockets. “I have White House phones, I’m working. No one’s on vacation in the White House.”” [Bloomberg

PROFILE: "A Hollywood Party Planner Who Isn’t Instagram-Obsessed" by Marielle Wakim: "For Yifat Oren, a party is never fully planned; she makes tweaks and changes until the lights go up and the band stops playing. “She sweats the details like there’s no tomorrow,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former longtime chief executive of DreamWorks Animation who started WndrCo, a new Hollywood venture. Mr. Katzenberg hired Ms. Oren to plan both of his children’s weddings. “I love how unflappable she was,” he said in an email, adding, “Given the circumstances and the customers, that’s pretty herculean.” ... She was born in Tel Aviv but spent the majority of her formative years here in the San Fernando Valley. Early in her career she worked in catering; some patrons of the (now-defunct) company took note of her meticulousness and hired her to plan bar mitzvahs and weddings on the side." [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: "Israel moves to shut down local operations of Al Jazeera" by Ori Lewis: "Israel plans to revoke the media credentials of Al Jazeera TV journalists, close its Jerusalem bureau and pull the Qatar-based station's broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Sunday." [Reuters; HollywoodReporter]

"Why Are There No New Major Religions?" by Jon Emont: "Faiths, of course, don’t have to be numerous to deliver spiritual sustenance to their followers, or even to be influential, as Judaism (a religion of 14 million) shows. Still, the small scale of new faiths over the past 1,500 years since Islam raises a question: Why, if creating new faiths is an inextinguishable feature of the human condition, have new religions had such limited recent success? ... Instead most of the dynamism is happening within existing faith traditions, as religious entrepreneurs within established traditions adapt their faiths to the needs of 21st-century parishioners, leading to trends like the major growth of Pentecostalism among former Catholics in Latin America and the rise of puritan strains of Islam around the Muslim world." [TheAtlantic

"The Secret Life of the City Banana" by Annie Correal: "New York’s first street-sweeping operation helped clean up the streets, but the notion of slipping on a banana peel made its way into American culture, Mr. Koeppel said, thanks to Yiddish theater." [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “Kraft gives Tom Brady’s mother a Super Bowl ring” by Mike Florio: “Patriots quarterback Tom Brady excelled in 2016 while processing concern and worry for his mother, Galynn, who has been battling cancer In recognition of her struggles and the impact it had on her son last year, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has given Galynn Brady a Super Bowl ring.” [NBCSports; DailyNews

MAZEL TOV SOPHIE & ALEX: "Hillary and Bill Clinton attend wedding alongside guests Huma Abedin and Tiffany Trump in NYC" by Cheyenne Roundtree: "The former President and First Lady were all smiles while at the wedding of 24-year-old Sophie Lasry, the daughter of Avenue Capital Group founder Marc Lasry, on Sunday night. Lasry married Alex Swieca, a 25-year-old investor and former University of Michigan quarterback, who is the son of another hedge fund manager, Henry Swieca... Hillary and Bill are long-time friends of the father-of-the bride, Marc Lasry. The Clintons weren't the only high profile guests of the wedding. J-Lo and A-Rod came dressed to the nines, with the singer wearing an elegant teal gown." [DailyMail; JPost

BIRTHDAYS: Former US intelligence analyst, pled guilty to espionage in 1987, released from prison in 2015, Jonathan Pollard turns 63... President of merchant bank Palisades Associates, Chair of the NJDC, and former CEO of Empire Kosher Poultry, Greg Rosenbaum turns 65... Rabbi of a congregation in Monsey, NY, he is both a senior Rosh Yeshiva and professor of biology at Yeshiva University, expert in medical ethics, Rabbi Moshe David Tendler turns 91... Brooklyn resident, Esther Holler turns 80... Partner in the Los Angeles office of Mayer Brown, previously the US Trade Representative (1993-1996) and then US Secretary of Commerce (1996-1997), Michael ("Mickey") Kantor turns 78... Actress who appeared in 30 films and TV shows and co-starred with Clint Eastwood in "High Plains Drifter," Verna Bloom turns 78... Co-founder of the world-wide chain of Hard Rock Café, board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Peter Morton turns 70... Retired Lieutenant General in the Israeli Air Force, he also served as Chief of Staff of the IDF, Dan Halutz turns 69... Former PR Director for the New York Yankees, sports management executive, television executive producer, and author of more than 20 books, Marty Appel turns 69... Founder and CEO of the Zimmer Children's Museum located in the offices of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Esther Netter turns 59... Deputy Director of AIPAC's Leadership Institute, Havi Arbeter Goldscher turns 38... MLB catcher since 2011, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and was named Pool A MVP, Ryan Lavarnway turns 30... Social activist, writer, public speaker and the founder of a global nonprofit organization (Love for the Elderly), he has given 2 TEDx talks, Jacob Cramer turns 17... Scott Harrison...

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