Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: August 9, 2018

Rand Paul dissuaded Trump from pushing regime change in Iran | Abboud explains 'Sheldon Adelson money' | Rabbi Sacks on Jordan Peterson

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An Israeli man looks at the damage of his car after a rocket fired by militants from the Gaza Strip fell in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, August 9, 2018
An Israeli man looks at the damage of his car after a rocket fired by militants from the Gaza Strip fell in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, August 9, 2018Credit: AFP
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DRIVING THE CONVO: Trump connects with Rand ‘at gut level’ — by Eliana Johnson: "Trump has drawn praise from the right-wing establishment for hammering the mullahs in Tehran, junking the Iran nuclear deal and responding to the regime’s saber rattling with aggressive rhetoric of his own... But Trump has stopped short of calling for regime change even though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and [John] Bolton support it, aligning with Paul instead, according to a GOP foreign policy expert in frequent contact with the White House. “Rand Paul has persuaded the president that we are not for regime change in Iran,” this person said, because adopting that position would instigate another war in the Middle East." [Politico

-- Paul is on a trip to Moscow this week for meetings with top Russian officials and was hoping to secure a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House said yesterday that at Senator Paul's request, President Trump provided him a letter of introduction that also "mentioned topics of interest that Senator Paul wanted to discuss with President Putin. A Kremlin spokesman confirmed that the letter was delivered and was making its way to Putin. 

Is Sen. Paul, who is opposed to U.S. presence in Syria, trying to convince Putin to take full responsibility of the situation in Syria so that the U.S. can go ahead and withdraw its troops, despite John Bolton's recent assurances to Israel? 

Elliott Abrams, a former Republican diplomat and now a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, called that "pure speculation," but criticized Paul for meeting with Russian legislators. "What we can say is that he is meeting with members of Russia’s phony legislature and treating its members as equals," Abrams said in an email. "That’s an insult to the United States Senate." 

Shalom Lipner, a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, tells us that while it's unclear what Paul's agenda is, "it doesn't appear that Trump needs much persuasion what it comes to relying on Putin. Seems that Trump is most interested in ending his foreign headaches — and if Putin is actually volunteering to take them off of U.S. hands, Trump is more than happy to let him do so. It's almost as if Trump feels like he's pulling a fast one on Russia, selling them his old jalopy. But this is what handing off the baton of global leadership looks like." 

INSIDE THE ADMIN — Steven Mnuchin Is Still Standing — by Devin Leonard and Saleha Mohsin: “One of only a few moderates left in the White House, Mnuchin has acted, not always successfully, as a bulwark against some of the administration’s more reactionary forces, trying to dissuade Trump from launching a full-blown trade war with China and other allies He’s also the lead enforcer of sanctions against Russia... A current White House official describes Mnuchin’s ideological bent less flatteringly, calling him a Wall Street Democrat.” [Bloomberg]

REPORT — US game plan on Iran written in Tel Aviv, claim Israeli insiders — by Ben Caspit: "According to close associates of the prime minister, everything that is happening now on the American-Iranian-Israeli front was planned in Israel, “marketed” to President Donald Trump by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is now being implemented to “fix it or nix it." ... Trump is following Netanyahu's plan meticulously." 

"The only thing that sours Israel’s premature celebrations is Trump’s startling but not atypical announcement that he [might] speak with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting next month in New York. “If Trump meets with him, that could slow down or ruin the implementation of the plan,” a senior security source told Al-Monitor." [Al-Monitor

ON THE GROUND — Israel and Hamas exchange fire in sudden Gaza escalation — by Oren Liebermann: "According to the IDF, at least 100 rockets were launched from Gaza toward Israel, with rocket alarms ringing into the early hours of the morning... Following the rocket launches, the Israeli air force struck more than 140 military targets across 20 sites in Gaza, including a factory for manufacturing facilities, training complexes, a maritime tunnel shaft, and other sites." [CNN; NYT]

Palestinian Factions Declare Round of Hostilities Over -- by Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury: "Palestinian factions in Gaza declared Thursday that they consider the latest round of violence between Israel and Gaza over, saying that maintaining the peace now depends on Israel... "We don't see the end of the escalation. We are closing in on operation in Gaza," a senior IDF official said Thursday." [Haaretz

White House Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt tweets"Hamas regime again is launching rockets at Israeli communities. Another night of terror & families huddling in fear as Israel defends itself. This is the Hamas regime’s choice. Hamas is subjecting people to the terrifying conditions of war again."

Avi Issacharoff writes... "With no strategic change on either side, the battle in Gaza is over PR: That is how both sides are presently conducting themselves: First of all by thinking about how their actions affect public opinion... It is more important to Hamas to market its image as a “resistance” organization — while its leaders abroad stay mainly at luxurious apartments and hotels. For the Israeli government, it is more important to promote the nation-state law than to bring about an actual solution in the south." [ToI]

AT THE UN — Israel might not withdraw from UNESCO after all — by Barak Ravid: "Six months before the U.S. and Israel are due to withdraw from the UN's cultural agency, UNESCO, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a rare phone call with the director general of the agency, Audrey Azoulay. Netanyahu might meet Azoulay next month to discuss the possibility of Israel remaining in the organization... Israeli officials told me one of the ideas being considered in Israel is to postpone Israel's withdrawal from UNESCO by 6-12 months... But the Israeli officials also say any Israeli decision to change course will have to be discussed with the Trump administration." [Axios

Michelle Bachelet, socialist ex-president of Chile, is tapped for UN human rights post — by Adam Shaw: "United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has nominated socialist ex-President Michelle Bachelet of Chile to be the next human rights chief... [U.S. Ambassador Nikki] Haley reacted to the nomination by saying that it was incumbent on Bachelet to "avoid the failures of the past." [FoxNews]

New Colombia government to review decision to recognize Palestine --  by Julia Symmes Cobb, Luis Jaime Acosta and Michelle Nichols: "Colombia’s new government said it would review former President Juan Manuel Santos’ recognition of Palestine after the previously unreleased decision was made public on Wednesday. President Ivan Duque took office on Tuesday and was informed a few days ago of Santos’ decision... The Israeli embassy in Bogota said it was surprised and disappointed... The decision came to light during a visit to Colombia by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley." [Reuters

MIDTERMS — Palestinian-American candidate is source of West Bank pride — by Mohammed Daraghmeh: “Relatives in Beit Our al-Foqa, where [Rashida] Tlaib’s mother was born, greeted the news with a mixture of pride and hope that she will take on a U.S. administration widely seen as hostile to the Palestinian cause. “It’s a great honor for this small town. It’s a great honor for the Palestinian people to have Rashida in the Congress,” said Mohammed Tlaib, the village’s former mayor and a distant relative." [AP]  First Muslim woman set for Congress ‘probably’ won’t vote for Pelosi as leader [TheHill

Rosen says she was out 'in front' after Las Vegas shooting because of synagogue experience -- by Megan Messerly: "Congresswoman Jacky Rosen told attendees of a Seattle fundraiser last month... that she “channelled [her] inner rabbi” while visiting hospital rooms and attending funerals in the wake of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history... The Democratic congresswoman said that while other politicians asked “What do we do?” she was out “in front” and “just did that because [she] knew.” ... In a statement, Rosen said that politicians don’t have a “guidebook” for responding to tragedies but that she was able to draw on her experience as a synagogue president." [TheNevadaIndependent]

-- "Rosen’s Jewish religion, [Sen. Dean] Heller's Mormon faith in a state with a strong church presence, and the influence of Sheldon Adelson are all wild cards in what is certain to be a dramatic campaign." [Haaretz

Vice President Mike Pence, who was in Michigan yesterday for a unity rally in support of the Republican nominees for Governor and Senator, tweeted his support of Lena Epstein, the Republican nominee for the 11th Congressional District: "Proud to support Lena Epstein — an early supporter of President Trump. She’ll be a fighter for the Donald Trump agenda in Congress and a strong advocate for the people of Michigan!" 

FLORIDA GOV: Sheldon Adelson's spokesperson Andy Abboud hit back at GOP gubernatorial hopeful Adam Putnam for attacking opponent Ron DeSantis during a debate last night for taking campaign contributions from "casino owners." Abboud told Florida Playbook the Adelsons support DeSantis because they like him and his support of Israel.

"I guess I’m shocked that Putnam would make an issue of it because his campaign team consistently tried to get meetings with us to ask for money. They repeatedly asked for meetings. And we repeatedly made clear we were with Ron DeSantis," Abboud said. "So maybe he’s just jealous that he didn’t get Sheldon Adelson money. Sheldon Adelson money and Miriam Adelson money is Republican money. It’s patriotic money. It’s not really casino money." 

Lackluster election results spark debate over Trump’s midterm role — by Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey: "Ivanka Trump is likely to be dispatched to suburban districts to talk about the economy and the workforce... Ivanka Trump visited Illinois on Wednesday, speaking at a community college alongside Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.). Although the visit was an official White House endeavor, Davis is a self-described “Main Street Republican” facing an uphill reelection race." [WashPost]

Trump allies luring Hope Hicks into 2020 campaign — by Edward-Isaac Dovere: "Hicks intended to have dinner at Bedminster with Sanders on Friday night and then Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner on Saturday evening before her impromptu Air Force One trip... Once back in New Jersey, she ate dinner with White House staffers and spent the night at Bedminster as a guest of Jared and Ivanka." [Politico]

Trump’s Orthodox voters still on board — by Jonathan Mark: "After a seemingly endless barrage of confrontations and accusations from Trump detractors — regarding issues from Charlottesville to the Southern border to Helsinki — liberal Jews are at the “resistance” barricades, while Orthodox Jews are standing by their man. “The Trump administration has been there for the [Orthodox] community’s needs,” said Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center." [JewishWeek]

MOVING ON: Jon Ossoff on How to Talk About Special Elections and the Ohio Twelfth — by Eric Lach: "A year removed from his own special election, Ossoff argued that people underestimate the long-term effects of these races. “There’s real party-building that happens when competitive campaigns unfold in districts that haven’t recently been so,” he said. In the Georgia Sixth, he said, there is now “an army of battle hardened volunteers and activists.” Since his campaign, Ossoff has returned to work at his documentary production company, Insight TWI. He’s also lent a hand to some local candidates for office in Georgia. “I’m a recovering candidate who is staying politically active,” he said." [NewYorker]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Before he was a Trump Veterans Affairs ‘shadow ruler,’ Ike Perlmutter transformed Marvel [WashPost]  Carl Icahn ratchets up pressure against Cigna-Express Scripts deal [Reuters] CBS' controlling shareholder Shari Redstone is quietly shopping for a new CEO to replace embattled Leslie Moonves [NBCNews]  Delaware judge declines to order ailing Sumner Redstone to be deposed in legal battle between his family holding company and CBS [WSJ]  Failed business leaves Israel with a crocodile conundrum [AP]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — The story of Levi Strauss on the latest episode of 'Stuff You Missed in History Class.' "Levi’s story is historically interesting because it touches on a lot of important moments in U.S. history. His business was tied to the California Gold Rush, the U.S. Civil War and American clothing culture." [MissedInHistory]

MEDIA WATCH — The New York Times is expanding its coverage in Australia: "Jamie Tarabay, a veteran journalist with experience across the Middle East and Asia in a variety of mediums, will join [the NY Times] Sydney bureau as a correspondent this fall as we continue to expand our coverage and audience-engagement initiative in Australia. Jamie... covered both the Iraq war and the second Palestinian intifada... Bret Stephens, who lived next door to Jamie in Manhattan a few years ago, called her “a cross between Julia Child and Lara Croft.” ... Bari Weiss of Opinion will head over after Thanksgiving. She will be writing about Australia’s role in the world, politics and feminism, and also working on partnerships and events." [NYT]

Israeli Broadcasters Reshet, Channel Ten to Merge — by Amy Spiro: "Israel’s Antitrust Authority has approved a merger of TV broadcasters Reshet and Channel Ten... According to Israeli media reports, Channel Ten – which first hit the airwaves in 2002 – could stop airing as early as October following the merger with Reshet. Reshet CEO Avi Zvi is expected to take control of the combined company... Reshet mostly airs Israeli versions of reality shows such as “Big Brother,” “The Voice,” “Survivor” and “Amazing Race.” Channel Ten mostly broadcasts news and documentary programming." [Variety]

Shmuel Rosner writes... "Does Sacha Baron Cohen Understand Israel? Today, the military is not as dominant in Israel’s culture as it used to be, and Israel is more Westernized, more capitalist, more focused on trade and high-tech innovation, and less rugged, than it was in its early years. Morad is a caricature of our past, not our present... And what we learn from him is a little troubling: Israel’s most avid supporters in America might like us more as crude machos than as start-up entrepreneurs. They might even prefer our satirized fossils to our real selves." [NYTimes]

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Jordan Peterson: "Making a series of programmes for the BBC on morality in the twenty-first century, Peterson told me, "People have every reason to construe themselves as victims. Their lives are characterised by suffering and betrayal. Those are ineradicable experiences. [The question is] what’s the right attitude to take to that – anger or rejection, resentment, hostility, murderousness? That’s the story of Cain and Abel, [and] that’s not good. That leads to Hell." 

"There really are victims in this world, and none of us should minimise their experiences. But in most cases (admittedly, not all) the most important thing we can do is help them recover their sense of agency. This is never easy, but is essential if they are not to drown in their own learned helplessness. No one should ever blame a victim. But neither should any of us encourage a victim to stay a victim. It took immense courage for Mikhaila Peterson and the Holocaust survivors to rise above their victimhood, but what a victory they won for human freedom, dignity and responsibility." [RabbiSacks]

"Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson" by Caitlin Flanagan: "It is because the left, while it currently seems ascendant in our houses of culture and art, has in fact entered its decadent late phase, and it is deeply vulnerable. The left is afraid not of Peterson, but of the ideas he promotes, which are completely inconsistent with identity politics of any kind." [TheAtlantic]

CAMPUS BEAT — U.S. academic group decries both BDS and legal attempts to squelch it: "The American Association of University Professors said it is as opposed to the movement to boycott Israel as it is to requirements that academics renounce the movement to boycott Israel. “We oppose all academic boycotts, including an academic boycott of Israel, on the grounds that such boycotts violate the principles of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas for which our organization has stood for over one hundred years,” said the statement." [JTA]

Photo exhibit documents revival of Polish Jewish life — by Vanessa Gera: “A new photo exhibition opened this week in Warsaw that brings together [American photographer Chuck] Fishman’s early documentation of a melancholy and declining Jewish world with the revival of traditions by the third and fourth generations after the Holocaust Titled “Re-Generation: Jewish Life in Poland,” the exhibition showing at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw will run until Oct. 28 and then go to the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow for several more months.” [AP

SPORTS BLINK: Robert Kraft opens up about ‘continuity’ within organization — by Kristen Parker: “The job of ownership is to keep continuity when you have something good. I think some people just make change for change’s sake, and I have a rule: We never break something down unless we can put something better in its place,” [New England Patriots owner Robert] Kraft said. “And the Belichick-Brady combo has been pretty good.” He added: “Everyone checks their ego at the front door and puts team first.” [PatriotsWire]

DESSERT: Dunkin’ Donuts opens first kosher shop in Palm Beach County — by Lulu Ramadan: "Dunkin’ Donuts converted the shop on Powerline Road, between Glades and Palmetto Park roads, into a kosher location to serve the large Jewish population in southern Palm Beach County." [PalmBeachPost; MiamiHerald]

REMEMBERING: Richard Jarecki, Doctor Who Conquered Roulette, Dies at 86 — by Daniel Slotnik: "Dr. Jarecki was born to Jewish parents, Dr. Max and Gerda (Kunstmann) Jarecki, on Dec. 1, 1931, in Stettin, Germany. His father was a dermatologist, and his mother’s family owned a major shipping company. But with the rise of the Nazis and the growing persecution of Jews, Hitler’s regime took control of the family’s shipping fortune, and they fled Germany in the late 1930s... Dr. Jarecki moved to Manila about 20 years ago, his wife said, because he liked the lifestyle there and preferred the city’s casinos to those run by Americans. His touch at the roulette wheel endured until nearly the end. Ms. Jarecki said he last played in December, at a tournament in Manila. He came in first." [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Physicist and venture capitalist, co-founder and general partner of New Markets Venture Partners, Donald M. "Don" Spero, Ph.D. turns 79... Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ABC News for more than 20 years and a professor of national and international affairs at Boston University, Carl Robert Zelnick turns 78... Host of Showtime's "Inside Comedy," son of a Rabbi, he has appeared 130 times on Johnny Carson, David Steinberg turns 76... Romance novelist with 19 books on the NYT bestseller lists, Barbara Delinsky (born Barbara Ruth Greenberg) turns 73... Author of 36 Jewish themed books, publisher, editor, educator, and founder of Rossel Books, he lectures on Israel, the Holocaust, Bible, archaeology, spirituality, Jewish history and Jewish education, Seymour Rossel turns 73... Psychologist and bestselling suspense novelist, Jonathan Kellerman turns 69... Southern California resident, Faith Schames turns 67...

Member of the Minnesota Senate since 2007, following four years in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Ronald Steven "Ron" Latz turns 55... Chief of Staff for Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Amy B. Rutkin turns 49... Kiev-born, member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 2007 from Montgomery County, Kirill Reznik turns 44... Reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times since 2017, he was previously Chief Investigative Reporter for Politico (2007-2017), Kenneth P. Vogel turns 43... Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, Jacob Baime turns 33... South Pasadena, California resident, Giovanna Fradkin... Senior director at Dezenhall Resources since April 2017, he was previously communications director for the Republican Jewish Coalition and an RNC alum, Fred Brown... Partner at Hilltop Public Solutions, who served as Special Advisor to NYC Mayor de Blasio, Rebecca Kirszner Katz... Law student at Boston College, Isaac Lederman... Amanda Isaacson... Elise Aronson... Dan Zimerman... Mark Shapiro...