Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: July 11, 2017

Daily Kickoff: Meet Avi Gabbay | Ya'alon predicts Bibi will be indicted | Amb. Friedman meets Palestinian negotiators | WeWork's new $20B valuation

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Avi Gabbay gives a speech after being voted in as the new leader of Israel's main opposition Labor Party on July 10, 2017 in Tel Aviv.
Avi Gabbay gives a speech after being voted in as the new leader of Israel's main opposition Labor Party on July 10, 2017 in Tel Aviv.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP

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KAFE KNESSET -- Meet Israel's Macron: Avi Gabbay -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Last night, hundreds of Labor party activists gathered in Tel Aviv to witness the results of the party’s leadership runoff. Activists broke out in tears of excitement as Avi Gabbay’s victory was announced, chanting the Hebrew word “Mahapach” – which has no exact English equivalent but means something between a turnaround and a revolution. 

Gabbay came from a humble background, growing up in Jerusalem with seven siblings, and moved up the corporate ranks to become CEO of Israel’s biggest telecom company, Bezek. He helped Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon found the Kulanu party, and was appointed Environmental Protection Minister without being an MK. When Netanyahu appointed Liberman as Defense Minister, Gabbay resigned from the government in disgust.

From Labor’s point of view, Gabbay’s ascent is revolutionary: Gabbay, a capitalist businessman and corporate manager, is miles away from the Labor party’s traditions and roots in socialism. Gabbay joined the Labor party only six months ago, but he succeeded in defeating the highly experienced and skilled apparatus of his rival, Amir Peretz. He promised to lead the party to “a dawn of a new day.” But there is still a long path until Gabbay rebuilds the Labor party to the level that it could be considered a real alternative to Netanyahu and the Likud. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Israeli Labor Party Tries a New Leader: Gabbay, Self-Made Millionaire” by Isabel Kershner: “Avi Gabbay, a relative novice in Israeli politics became the chairman of the center-left Labor Party The Labor Party has not won a general election in 18 years But the extraordinary rise of Mr. Gabbay, 50, is expected to breathe new life into the historic but diminished Labor movement Isaac Herzog, the departing Labor chairman who won the party 24 seats in the last election to the Likud’s 30, was knocked out last week in a first round of voting. Some in the party have described the shake-up as “electrifying.”” [NYTimes]  Avi Gabbay hailed as ‘Israel’s Macron’ after Labour leadership win [Guardian

CNN's Christiane Amanpour tweets: "Netanyahu’s former defense minister, Bogie Ya'alon, predicts Bibi will be indicted. “Too many issues are under investigation,” he tells me." [Twitter] Ya'alon's interview with air at 9PM Israel time on CNN International 

WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL EMAILS... "Today in Jerusalem Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, accompanied by U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome, introduced Ambassador David Friedman to members of the Palestinians’ senior negotiating team. They had an open, cordial, and frank discussion on many topics related to peace negotiations. The Administration believes that in order to give everyone the best chance to reach an ultimate deal, it is critical to have negotiators that are close with the President and that is why the team includes Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman." [JewishInsider]

"In Rare Move, U.S. Ambassador to Israel joins Trump Envoy in Meeting With Palestinians" by Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury: “Haaretz has learned that during Trump's meeting in Bethlehem with Abbas a month and a half ago, Trump asked his advisers why Friedman was not part of the meeting... After that meeting, Trump instructed the policy be changed so that Friedman will attend the meeting with the Palestinians if need be.” [Haaretz]

Former Ambassador Martin Indyk tells us... "I believe Trump is serious about getting the 'ultimate deal,' but this incident probably says more about his lack of familiarity with the existing diplomatic protocols. Nevertheless, If Greenblatt wants Friedman on his team, he should have him. It's good for the Palestinians to hear Friedman's perspective which is informed by his knowledge of the Israeli side. But then by the same token Greenblatt should have the Consul General Doug Blome on his team and in meetings with Israeli negotiators. That way the Israelis could gain the benefit of his knowledge of the Palestinian side." 

GREENBLATT’S ISRAEL TWEETS: “This 17 Tamuz, I stand @ the Kotel before annual commemoration of destruction of Jerusalem & 1st/2nd Temples. I pray for peace here for all. Tonight I'm also praying for the Goldin, Shaul, Mengistu, al-Sayed & Abu Ghanima families.” [Twitter]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “Donald Trump Jr. Has Hired A Lawyer Who Has Handled Organized Crime And Cybercrime Cases” by Zoe Tillman: “Donald Trump Jr., under scrutiny amid revelations that he met last year with a Russian lawyer, has hired a New York criminal defense attorney with a practice that’s included high-profile organized crime and cybercrime cases. Alan Futerfas runs a small law firm in New York that focuses on white collar investigations and prosecutions His clients have included an Israeli man who was one of several defendants charged in a massive hack of consumer data from JPMorgan Chase and other financial institutions.” [BuzzFeed

TOP TALKER: "Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign" by Matt Apuzzo, Jo Becker, Adam Goldman and Maggie Haberman: "The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting... Mr. Goldstone's message... indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information... Alan Futerfas, the lawyer for the younger Mr. Trump, said his client had done nothing wrong but pledged to work with investigators if contacted. “In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he said to The Times in an email on Monday... Representatives for Mr. Kushner referred requests for comments back to an earlier statement, which said he voluntarily disclosed the meeting to the federal government." [NYTimesRob Goldstone: who is the man who set up Trump Jr's meeting with a Russian lawyer? [Guardian]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Jared Kushner Tried and Failed to Get a Half-Billion-Dollar Bailout From Qatar” by Ben Walsh, Ryan Grim and Clayton Swisher: “Throughout 2015 and 2016, Jared Kushner and his father, Charles, negotiated directly with a major investor in Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, known as HBJ for short, in an effort to refinance the property on [666] Fifth Avenue... HBJ ultimately agreed to invest at least $500 million through Al Mirqab, on the condition that Kushner Companies could raise the rest of a multibillion refinancing elsewhere. The negotiations continued long after the election, carried out as recently as this spring by Charles Kushner.” [TheIntercept; Bloomberg

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) tells JI's Aaron Magid..."These guys are pretty new to the business so we don't have to look for nefarious motives but I think it is critical that we better understand their finances. That's been one of the problems all along."

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV): "I think the committee will see all of this so it will all be revealed and we'll see. I am very concerned about that. It's extremely troubling."

“Qatar crisis: Can Rex Tillerson fix this mess?” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: “Even if Qatar agrees to tone down al-Jazeera programing and stop funding and hosting unfriendly Islamists, Doha won't abandon its independent foreign policy nor cut ties with Iran, with whom it shares a huge natural gas field. Tillerson may end up in a truly thankless spot. If he fails in his first highly personalized diplomatic role, the media will hammer him as will his boss if he pushes the Saudis too hard. If he succeeds, the US might end up with a temporary fix that could easily come undone.” [CNN

“Trump Aides Recruited Businessmen to Devise Options for Afghanistan” by Mark Landler, Eric Schmitt and Michael Gordon: "Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, have developed proposals to rely on contractors instead of American troops in Afghanistan at the behest of Stephen K. Bannon and Jared Kushner Mr. Feinberg, whose name had previously been floated to conduct a review of the nation’s intelligence agencies, met with the president on Afghanistan, according to an official Mr. Kushner has not staked out as strong a position, one official said. But he, too, is sharply critical of the Bush and Obama strategies, and has said he views his role as making sure the president has credible options.” [NYTimes]  

“Comey friend: No memos given to me were marked classified” by Jake Tapper: “The Columbia University Law School professor and confidant of former FBI Director James Comey refuted a charge by President Donald Trump and his advocates in the media Monday: that Comey shared classified information with journalists. "No memo was given to me that was marked 'classified,'" Daniel Richman told CNN... "The substance of the memo passed on to the Times was not marked classified and to my knowledge remains unclassified."” [CNN

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Prof. Alan Dershowitz on Fox Business Network: “I think President Trump is making the same mistake that his critics make. A, he is rushing to judgment whether something is illegal, and, second, he is trying to criminalize political differences. He doesn't like Comey. Nobody likes Comey, the Democrats don't like him, the Republicans don't like him. But I'm not so sure that what he did was illegal. We have to know the facts." [FoxBusiness]

ON THE HILL -- Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday during a hearing on the Taylor Force Act. Also testifying at the hearing is Elliott Abrams. Shapiro recently co-authored a Foreign Policy article where he argued against a complete cut off of US economic aid to the Palestinian Authority. "The legislation also contains no exception for humanitarian assistance. In the case of another conflict with Hamas in Gaza, the United States would be prevented potentially from providing basic foods, medicine, blankets, and shelter for the thousands of Palestinians — many of them children — who would be homeless," Shapiro wrote with former Obama administration official Ilan Goldenberg.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who introduced the legislation, touted Wednesday's hearing as a significant advancement for the bill's passage. “I want to thank Chairman Corker for bringing the Taylor Force Act up for consideration. I urge my colleagues to swiftly approve this bill so we can get it passed and signed into law," Graham said in a statement yesterday.

TRANSITION: President Donald Trump announced yesterday the nomination of Lewis Eisenberg as U.S. Ambassador to Italy. Eisenberg headed the Republican National Committee's joint fundraising operations with the Trump campaign. He will need to be confirmed by the Senate. 

IRAN SANCTIONS BILL: “Trump Admin. Lobbied Lawmakers to Weaken Russia Sanctions” by Andrew Desiderio:"A top Treasury Department official met with House leadership staffers and committee aides last Thursday to discuss changing a key component of the [Iran-Russia sanctions] Senate bill The official, John E. Smith, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees the implementation of foreign sanctions, met last Thursday with staff from the offices of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, as well as the Foreign Affairs and Financial Services committees.” [DailyBeast

HEARD YESTERDAY - WH Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short at the daily press briefing: “The administration’s perspective is that we support the sanctions in the bill on Russia and Iran. Keep in mind, it’s initially an Iran bill for which there is a Russia sanctions amendment. The administration is fully supportive of those sanctions. What our concern is, that the legislation we believe sets an unusual precedent of delegating foreign policy to 535 members of Congress by not including certain national security waivers that have always been consistently part of sanctions bills in the past... And by stripping that away from the executive branch, we think the way it’s currently drafted is something that neither a Democrat nor a Republican administration could support.”

“Jason Kander lost a big Senate race. In today’s Democratic Party, he’s still a rising star” by Ben Terris: “Jason Kander doesn’t feel like a loser “The party is yearning to figure out its next-generation leaders,” said Brian Fallon, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign spokesman And Kander has raised his profile so much since the election that many have been wondering whether he might be better off than had he won. “I don’t know about that,” said Abe Rakov, Kander’s former campaign manager and longtime political guru. “But from his personal perspective, he is happier than I’ve ever seen him. He’s fighting the battles he wants to every day and doesn’t have to do some of the things he’d have to had he won.”” [WashPost

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: WeWork Hits $20 Billion Valuation In New Funding Round [Forbes] Paul Singer to challenge Warren Buffett on acquisition for Oncor’s bankrupt parent, Energy Future Holdings [NYPost]  Norman Pearlstine Is Retiring From Time Inc. [AdWeek]  26-Year-Old’s Stock-Picking Game Acquired By Jon Steinberg’s News Network Cheddar [WSJ]  Indiana Lands Israeli Plastics Supplier’s First U.S. Production Facility [BusinessFacilities]  Manischewitz Co. to cut 169 jobs, close plant in Newark [NJBiz]  Israel is getting serious about opening up the high-tech market to domestic investors [CNBC]  Toyota leads $14 million funding round for Israel's Intuition Robotics [Reuters; CNBC]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: "Entrepreneurs Are Betting on a Billion-Dollar Future for Hemp" by Kate Krader: "[Dan] Dolgin was a veteran of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center, both in D.C., before he got burned out on government jobs. He’d been working on cybersecurity projects in New York when he met [Mark] Justh. “I grew up as a Jewish kid on Long Island,” Dolgin says. “I like the idea of making an impact in a depressed New York community, and of looking at agriculture in a new way. We began to consider hemp. Because of my regulatory background, I knew how government works—and doesn’t work.”" [Bloomberg

TALK OF OUR NATION: “In Search of the Origin of the Jews” by Benjamin Balint: “While many remain wary of a “racialized understanding of Jewishness associated with Nazism,” [Steven] Weitzman writes, in recent years DNA research has largely confirmed much of what Jews have believed: “that they have an ancestry distinct from that of the non-Jews among whom they live, and that some of those ancestors came from the Near East.” At the same time, Mr. Weitzman acknowledges the obvious limits of such an approach: “Geneticists will always need to rely on nongenetic evidence—written texts, oral traditions, interviews with subjects about who they are and where they come from—to turn data into a coherent account of the past.”” [WSJ

“An avalanche of hate: How a Montana mom became the target of a neo-Nazi troll story” by Mallory Simon and Sara Sidner: "For three months, packed luggage sat on the floor of [Tanya] Gersh's home. She debated fleeing, to escape what felt like an army of online hate coming after her The Daily Stormer published more about Gersh and her "Jew agenda," once with a doctored photo showing her and her tween son on the gates of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz A tweet to her 12-year-old son had an image of an oven with the message: "PSsst kid there is a free X-box inside this oven." Gersh thinks she will always be haunted by those images, and by the family talks she was forced to have "I never imagined that I would have to teach my children that they might be hated because they are Jewish," she says.” [CNN]

“The Foolhardy Crisis With U.S. Jews That Threatens Israel's National Security” by David Makovsky and Dov Zakheim: “Aid to Israel is not automatic; it has required wide American public and bipartisan support to sustain it over time. American Jews have been instrumental in securing Congressional support for over $100 billion in past U.S. assistance apart from the new ten year commitment of $38 billion One cannot assume that such support is a given in the years ahead. Challenges unanticipated today could put considerable strain on the U.S.-Israel relationship. To add to that strain religious issues of access and conversion is nothing less than foolhardy, especially given the ongoing attenuation of American Jewish ties to Israel amid a generational decline in affiliation to Jewish institutional life.” [Haaretz] Israel’s envoy in NY says Jewish state neglecting Reform, Conservative [ToI

--Counter-view: "Who Are We to Tell Religious Jews What to Do at the Western Wall?" by Irit Linur [Haaretz]

"A Muslim and a Jew urge the Supreme Court to strike down the Muslim ban" by Zev Yaroslavsky and Salam Al-Marayati: "Muslims and Jews together are derived from the stock of Abraham. Drawing on our shared roots, we look on with trepidation at the risks facing our country. The Supreme Court’s decision on the legality of the travel ban will not just be a holding on an administrative matter, but a stress test of the integrity and resilience of America’s democratic institutions." [LATimes

TALK OF THE TOWN: "Man on verge of death saves himself by jumping into safe" by Amanda Woods, Dennis A. Clark and Natalie O'Neill: "The man had just finished installing the heavy vault at the Rabbinical College Yeshiva of Machzikai Hadas in Borough Park... when it suddenly tipped over. The unidentified worker narrowly avoided being flattened like a matzo when he scooted into a gap left by the 2,500-pound safe’s hatch and wound up sitting unharmed inside, police sources and witnesses said." [NYPost

MEDIA WATCH: “Reporter who broke Chicago Dyke March story removed from reporting duties” by Ben Sales: "Gretchen Rachel Hammond, an award-winning reporter for the Windy City Times, a Chicago LGBT newspaper, has been moved full-time to the paper’s sales desk as of Monday. Hammond was the first to report that three women were kicked out of the Chicago Dyke March, an LGBT parade on June 24, for carrying rainbow flags emblazoned with Jewish stars Hammond confirmed that she is no longer reporting for the paper, but declined to say whether she was moved because of her coverage of the Dyke March The paper’s publisher, Tracy Baim, confirmed that Hammond had been moved, but would not elaborate.” [JTA]

COMING SOON: “‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Announces Season 9 Return Date” by Sopan Deb: “On Monday, HBO announced some pretty, pretty good news for fans of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — an Oct. 1 premiere date for Season 9. It will be the first episode of the series, in which the misanthropic comedian Larry David plays a lightly fictionalized version of himself, since the Season 8 finale in Sept. 2011 Jeff Garlin, who plays Mr. David’s agent; JB Smoove, who plays Leon, the freeloading and promiscuous friend Mr. David never asked for; and Susie Essman, Mr. Garlin’s wife on the show, are all expected to return.” [NYTimes

DESSERT: "Restaurant Puts the Spotlight on Middle Eastern Dumplings" by Front Burner: "In Melanie Shurka’s hands, the dumplings are mostly based on a Kurdish style served in Israel — round and looking something like a matzo ball with dough made from bulgur wheat, rice or chickpeas and filled with lamb, beef or vegetables. At Ms. Shurka’s West Village restaurant, decorated with Middle Eastern artifacts, the kubeh are served in richly satisfying vibrant broths." [NYTimes

"Food company busted for selling phony ‘kosher’ cheese to kids" by David Li: "A Canadian food company was ordered to pay more than $19,000 for selling cheese falsely labeled kosher to Jewish youth campers, authorities said Monday. “We’re very pleased and gratified that the Canadian justice system was diligent in prosecuting this crime,” Richard Rabkin, managing director of kosher certifying agency the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR), told The Post on Monday. “It was a milestone, a first and we hope the last.” [NYPost; CBC]

BIRTHDAYS: Ukrainian-born, moved to Chicago when he was 15 years old, computer scientist and internet entrepreneur, CEO of the digital lending start-up Affirm and former chief technology officer of PayPal, Max Levchin turns 42... IRS Commissioner during the JFK and LBJ administrations (1961-1964), founding member of prestigious tax law firm of Caplin & Drysdale, Mortimer Caplin turns 101... Harvard's long time history professor whose focus was Russia and the Soviet Union, Richard Pipes (and father of Daniel Pipes) turns 94... Professor of Humanities at Yale and noted literary critic, Harold Bloom turns 87... Professor of Social Sciences emeritus at Harvard, he has written many books on Japan, China and Asia generally, Ezra Feivel Vogel turns 87... Co-founder and chairman of Odyssey Investment Partners, previously EVP of GE Capital Corporation (1990-1993), Stephen Berger turns 78... Member of the UK's House of Lords since 1997 and the leading fundraiser for the British Labour Party from 1994 to 2007, formerly PM Tony Blair's special envoy to the Middle East, Baron Michael Abraham Levy turns 73... Partner in the Santa Monica-based law firm of Maron & Sandler, EVP of the Milken Family Foundation and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, Richard V. Sandler turns 69... Founder in 1992 of Schnur Associates, a marketing, PR and lobbying firm, she spent 12 years as Executive Director of the Greater New York Coalition for Soviet Jewry, Zeesy Schnur turns 68... Founder and current president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which is headquartered in Chicago and Jerusalem, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein turns 66... Managing Member at Samuel Capital Management, Barry Mannis...

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, known by his stage name "RebbeSoul," Bruce Burger turns 60... Former CEO and president of Bloomberg L.P. (2008-2014), now CEO of Sidewalk Labs, he is married to Alisa Robbins Doctoroff, Daniel L. Doctoroff turns 59... Member of the Knesset for the Likud party since 2015, now serving as Deputy Environmental Protection Minister, Yaron Mazuz turns 55... Born in Marrakesh, Morocco, he is presently commander of the IDF's Southern Command, Major General Shlomo "Sami" Turgeman turns 53... Member of the Editorial Board at the New York Daily News and author of a book on the outsized influence of the US Chamber of Commerce, Alyssa A. Katz turns 49... Graduate of Stanford U Law School, then White House aide in the Bush 43 administration, now based in Los Angeles at land use law firm of Park and Velayos, Lindsey Caren Kozberg turns 47... Consultant focused upon social impact strategies, previously COO of the DNC, chief strategy officer at Share Our Strength, and director of community relations at the NBA, Joshua D. Wachs turns 46... Founder and CEO of Wisconsin-based Good Karma Brands, he is the son of Mel Karmazin (former CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio and Viacom), Craig Karmazin turns 42... 

Screenwriter, known for The Green Hornet (2011), 50/50 (2011) and Bad Sports (2013), Theodore Bressman turns 33... Legislative Director for Representative Tim Ryan and former Fellow at the American Jewish Committee, Anne Sokolov turns 32... as does her twin sister Kate Sokolov (daughters of shopping mall executive Rick Sokolov)... Offensive guard in the NFL for eight seasons for the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants, Geoffrey Isaiah "Geoff" Schwartz (his Hebrew name is Gedalia Yitzhak) turns 31... Los Angeles-based Group EVP of Public Relations for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Science Channel, Laurie Goldberg... Director of community relations in the office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Celine Mizrahi... Principal at Cleveland-based Willoughby Union Point Associates and EVP at Omni Group Development Company, Bryan Stone... Matthew J. Rosenbaum... Chabad rabbi at Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Rabbi Hershey Novack... Jeffrey Maas... Harvey Mamon... 

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