Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: July 20, 2017

WH voices concern | Netanyahu facing pressure over metal detectors | Jared, the least popular Trump? | 43 senators look to criminalize settlement boycotts

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Worshippers praying outside the Temple Mount on July 14, 2017 in protest of metal detectors placed at the entrance by Israeli security forces after last week's deadly attack.
Worshippers praying outside the Temple Mount on July 14, 2017 in protest of metal detectors placed at the entrance by Israeli security forces after last week's deadly attack.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION -- The White House voiced its concerns yesterday about recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. In a statement, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called upon Israel and Jordan “to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions and to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo. The United States will continue to closely monitor the developments.”

"Netanyahu faces pressure to remove metal detectors from Jerusalem holy site" by Ruth Eglash: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must decide before Friday whether he will keep or remove metal detectors placed earlier this week at the entrances to the al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City. As of Thursday, the prime minister’s position regarding the metal detectors had not changed after holding security consultations, an Israeli official told The Washington Post. A showdown between worshipers and police is expected on Friday, the Muslim holy day, unless Israel removes the metal detectors and relaxes its security." [WashPost]

ON THE HILL -- Republican and Democratic House Members support Temple Mount metal detectors -- by Aaron Magid: “We should support the actions of Israel installing the metal detector and support their right to do that in any way that we can,” Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) told Jewish Insider. According to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), “When you have one side taking action to protect people’s security and the other side is taking action to harm people’s security, it’s hard to be neutral and make it out as both sides are right. I don’t think it’s necessary to apply an equal amount of pressure on both sides."

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump, noted, “I don’t know how you can object to metal detectors. There are many synagogues and mosques in the world that have metal detectors to walk in. When they are necessary for security, we should be urging that every reasonable measure be taken to provide for people’s safety.” Given the rising number of attacks, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) explained, “I understand the respect for the holiness of the site but you have got to keep people safe unfortunately in this day and age. I would be sympathetic to Israel.”

"Huge increase in PA terror funding in 2017" by Itamar Marcus: "The PA expenditure for salaries to terrorist prisoners has risen by a huge 13%... and the expenditure for payments to families of "Martyrs" has gone up by 4%... In 2017, the PA's total expenditure for directly funding terror is 1.237 billion shekels or $355 million." [PMW]

Trump Administration’s Mixed Signals on Taylor Force Act -- by Aaron Magid: The White House agrees with the “high-level goals” of legislation aimed to stop the Palestinian Authority’s payments to families of terrorists’ an administration official told us. “While the Administration agrees with the high-level goals of the Taylor Force Act, it is currently in Congress’s hands and we will continue to closely monitor the specifics of the legislation,” the administration official said. Last week, Stuart Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, expressed skepticism regarding the efficiency of the Taylor Force Act in combating Palestinian terrorism. “It is not clear that the Taylor Force Act as currently drafted would help accomplish these objectives,” he said during a House hearing. [JewishInsider

ON THE HILL -- U.S. State Department Faces Cuts, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Programming Untouched" by Amir Tibon: "The projected U.S. State Department and Foreign Operations budget for 2018 includes a deep $5.6 billion cut in funding, as presented by the House Appropriations Committee. One policy issue that won't be affected by cuts, however, is peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. Out of the entire "reconciliation programs" budget of $26 million around the world... the bill plans to direct almost 40 percent of the budget "for reconciliation activists between Israelis and Palestinians." The amount, $10 million, is the same amount appropriated to the cause of peace in the region for 2017." [Haaretz

“43 Senators Want to Make It a Federal Crime to Boycott Israeli Settlements” by Eric Levitz: “In an official statement denouncing the bill, [ACLU] the civil-liberties group noted that businesses and individuals who do no business with Israel for purely pragmatic reasons would not be subject to criminal punishment — only those who do so on the basis of their political beliefs. Which is to say, “the bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”” [NYMag

--MoveOn[dot]org tweeted yesterday: "Regardless how you feel about BDS, Congress must reject action to criminalize free speech & peaceful protest. The Democrats in House and Senate must say no to H.R. 1697/S. 720. Free speech and peaceful protest are integral to democracy." [Twitter]

JI INTERVIEW -- Elissa Slotkin, a former Obama administration official who also served at the CIA and the Pentagon, discussed her congressional run against incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Bishop in an interview with JI’s Aaron Magid: A Hebrew and Arabic speaker, Slotkin’s last post was Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security affairs during the end of the Obama administration. During her time in the Pentagon, she visited Israel at least six times and helped bring the F-35 fighter jets to Israel. Striking a close friendship with Amos Gilad, the former Director of the political-military affairs bureau at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, she also worked on U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs including the Iron Dome.

Slotkin on Trump’s Mideast peace push: “The only way that this gets done is through strong American leadership. The only way that the two sides (Israel and the Palestinians) even come to the table is if the U.S. with a very strong lead convenes pushes both sides to make forward progress on the issue. But, if the parties are unwilling to come to the table, then, unfortunately, we are in a number of additional years with the same conflict with the same problems.” [JewishInsider

“Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow” by Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous: “The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests The move to end the secret program to arm the anti-Assad rebels was not a condition of the cease-fire negotiations, which were already well underway, said U.S. officials “It’s probably a nod to reality,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration official “This is a force that we can’t afford to completely abandon,” Goldenberg said. “If they are ending the aid to the rebels altogether, then that is a huge strategic mistake.”” [WashPost

Shalom Lipner: “Putin victory = Iran win = lots of unhappy Jews and Sunni Arabs in the Middle East tonight.” [Twitter

"Netanyahu puts Trump on notice over Syria" by Ben Caspit: "An Israeli source intimately familiar with what is happening behind the scenes told Al-Monitor emphatically, “This is not just some disagreement. This is a real clash, pitting Israel against Russia and the United States. It reflects Israel's conspicuous disappointment with the way that the Americans let [Russian President Vladimir] Putin outmaneuver them, leading to the sellout of Israeli interests in the Golan Heights and Lebanon versus the Shiite axis.” ... “The Americans completely conceded to the Russians,” a senior Israeli military official told Al-Monitor... “The very names of Iran or Hezbollah do not appear in the agreement, and there is no expression of Israeli concerns at all. Our security needs are completely ignored."" [Al-Monitor

"Why Israel Can’t Support a Cease-Fire in Syria” by Shmuel Rosner: “Israel is following Iran’s patient game, and what it sees is Iranian and Hezbollah operatives in the area between Damascus and the Golan Heights. It sees a gradual process that ultimately strengthens Iran and its proxies, and leaves them in charge of strategic areas in Syria, including right on Israel’s border. The way Israel sees it, the cease-fire is a gain for Iran, whose advance amid the gradual surrender of the Islamic State makes a mockery of vows to contain its growing influence. It is a loss for Israel.” [NYTimes

"US accuses Lebanon's Hezbollah of weapons buildup" by AFP: "Ambassador [Nikki] Haley expressed alarm over the build-up of weapons by Hezbollah, a situation that demands the international community's attention to prevent the further escalation of regional tensions," said a statement by the US mission. She stressed that the international community must "apply more pressure on Hezbollah to disarm and cease its destabilizing behavior, especially toward Israel." [DailyMail

IN THE SPOTLIGHT -- “Rosenstein casts shade on Comey's leak of memos on Trump talks” by Josh Gerstein: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested in an interview aired Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey broke with Justice Department policy when he arranged to leak memos about his conversations with President Donald Trump Rosenstein was also asked whether [Robert] Mueller's relationship with Comey made Mueller a less than ideal choice. "I made the decision to appoint Director Mueller based upon his reputation But, I can assure you that if there were conflicts that arose, because of Director Mueller or anybody employed by Director Mueller, we have a process within the department to take care of that," Rosenstein said.” [Politico]  Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions [NYTimes

PTI: At one point during Trump's Oval Office interview with the NYTimes yesterday, his daughter Ivanka arrived at the doorway with her daughter, Arabella, who ran to her grandfather and gave him a kiss. He greeted the 6-year-old girl as “baby,” then urged her to show the reporters her ability to speak Chinese. She obliged. [NYTimes]

“Jared Kushner to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee Monday” by John Santucci and Benjamin Siegel: “White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling on Monday, July 24, ABC News has learned. The closed-door session sets up what could be one of the most highly anticipated interviews for lawmakers to date.” [ABCNews

"Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny” Ben Protess, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Jesse Drucker: “Mr. Kushner’s company bought the space from Africa Israel Investments, a company owned by Lev Leviev, which has a sizable real estate portfolio in Russia.” [NYTimes

“Why is Jared Kushner by far the least popular Trump family member?” by Jason Le Miere: “Part of that reaction may be down to Kushner's lack of visibility. Unlike Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka, Kushner is rarely heard from in public, whether giving interviews, speeches or on social media. Or perhaps Kushner is less popular with the president’s base because he has been portrayed as a Democrat and a moderating voice. Or it could also be due to the fact that he is an Orthodox Jew. Although Ivanka Trump has converted to Orthodox Judaism, it is Kushner who has been the target of concerted anti-Semitic abuse.” [Newsweek

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Inside Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Plan to Revolutionize Entertainment on Mobile Screens [Variety] Abramovich’s steel company hit by costly repair work [TheTimes]  10 Israeli start-ups that are gunning for the self-driving car market [CNBCIsraeli Spreadsheet management co DataRails raises $6m [Globes] Viber acquires Chatter Commerce, maker of mobile shopping keyboard ShopChat [VentureBeat]  De Blasio to Durst: Back off on Barry Diller’s Pier 55 [RealDeal; NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Univision Draws Interest From Potential Bidders Amid IPO Delays” by Matt Jarzemsky, Arian Campo-Flores, Sarah Rabil and Joe Flint: “[John] Malone and [Greg] Maffei met with Univision backers billionaire Haim Saban and Providence Equity Partners’ Jonathan Nelson at the Sun Valley media conference this month, the people said. However, the two sides were far apart on valuation, and it is unclear if a deal—with Mr. Malone or anyone else—could be reached. It is also unclear what terms were discussed. Univision’s owners also haven’t ruled out an IPO in the first half of next year, some of the people said.” [WSJ

COVER OF BUSINESSWEEK: “The Sinclair Revolution Will Be Televised. It’ll Just Have Low Production Values” by Felix Gillette: “If you encountered [Boris] Epshteyn at the Trump National Golf Club bar in Bedminster, N.J., you might expect him to hard-sell you on a real estate investment in the Urals or, failing that, a delicatessen in Newark Three times a week he records brief video commentaries that are sent to Sinclair’s 65 or so newsrooms around the country In recent segments, Epshteyn has praised the Trump administration’s trade policies, encouraged states to cooperate with his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, critiqued Democrats’ lack of a “coherent and authentic” message, and knocked other news outlets for their insufficiently admiring coverage of Trump.” [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: "6 Reasons Israel Became A Cybersecurity Powerhouse Leading The $82 Billion Industry" by Gil Press: "The young people serving in 8200 and similar IDF units experience real-life and leading-edge cybersecurity challenges and solutions. But as these units work like startups, they also get to experience teamwork, leading other people, having responsibility for making significant decisions, and surviving failure, all a great preparation for entrepreneurial life." [Forbes

PROFILE: “Avi Gabbay, Israel’s Surging New Threat to Benjamin Netanyahu” by Bernard Avishai: “Fifty years old, balanced, affable, and gregarious, Gabbay projects the gravitas one sensed in Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries But the parallel with Obama ends there. Gabbay’s story is not that of an unlikely minority candidate who organized at the grassroots For decades, the Party has suffered from the same time type of disconnect from working-class voters that now seems to plague the Democratic Party in the U.S. Gabbay is trying to bring that dynamic to an end Before Gabbay, Mizrahim who disapproved of Likud’s support for settlers and the ultra-religious struggled to find common ground with Labor’s Ashkenazi élites, intellectual socialists, and union hacks. Gabbay, the former kid from a transit camp who rose to run an iconic corporation, might bridge the gap In this, Gabbay’s election may be a lesson for American Democrats as well.” [NewYorker

KAFE KNESSET -- Barak is back -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Former PM and Defense Minister Ehud Barak is still enjoying his status as Internet-commenter-in-chief and put up yet another video on his Facebook page, this time comparing Netanyahu to a Mafia don. “The time hasn’t come to put this to an end? What, have we gone crazy?” Barak asked, listing the various corruption scandals that have come to light in the last year. “Everything all around is criminal, but the boss is clean. Where is this familiar from? That’s right, 'The Sopranos' and 'The Godfather.'  It is similar, but without the style. But there, it is the movies, and here, it is real life. Even there, when they decided to bring it all down, they couldn’t prove the submarines. The Godfathers were sent to jail over lawn furniture and electricians.” For those on the Ehud Barak style watch -- he wasn’t wearing a puffy jacket this time. Barak was wearing a pink button-down shirt, and standing in a backyard with ivy and a wooden porch behind him, a style of house that looks more American than Israeli. Barak's Israeli Facebook followers have been wondering where his videos are made – a source told Kafe Knesset this week that he is still in New York. That, of course, still does not explain why he wore a winter jacket in his previous video. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Decrying ‘betrayal,’ Hungarian Jews say Netanyahu ignoring them” by Raphael Ahren: “Wrapping up his three-day trip to Hungary, Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday delivered addresses in the headquarters of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary Both prime ministers focused their remarks on bilateral ties, neglecting to directly address the community The chilly reception for the prime minister — including scathing criticism from the Jewish community’s president — underlined Hungarian Jewry’s unhappiness with Netanyahu’s decision to embrace Orban despite accusations of anti-Semitism Highlighting the community’s angst over the issues, Mazsihisz President Andras Heisler delivered a speech ahead of the two leaders, lambasting Orban for the Horthy and Soros controversies, and Netanyahu for the non-recognition of non-Orthodox Jewish streams in Israel.” [ToI]

“Israel and George Soros” by Itai Bardov, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in DC: “George Soros has a consistent record of reckless antipathy toward Israel Mr. Soros supports N.G.O.s that libel Israel by falsely accusing it of genocide and war crimes. One N.G.O. Mr. Soros funds wrote the same number of reports from 2000 to 2010 blasting Israel, the one democracy in the Middle East, as it wrote against Iran, Syria and Libya combined. This double standard, not Mr. Soros’s supposed “humanitarianism,” is why many are rightly critical of him. There is no contradiction between speaking honestly about Mr. Soros and simultaneously fighting anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.” [NYTimes

"Israeli Student’s Use of Auschwitz Artifacts in an Art Exhibit Prompts a Furor" by Megan Specia: "The student, Rotem Bides, told Israeli news outlets this week that she had collected the objects during five visits to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp... Ms. Bides said that her grandparents were Holocaust survivors — one grandfather was in Auschwitz — and that the art was intended to explore her personal history... Ms. Bides later told The New York Times that the items “are not from the Auschwitz camp and not from the Auschwitz museum, but from the nearby area,” but she declined to elaborate...The artwork was meant to be part of an exhibit starting on July 26 at Beit Berl College in Kfar Saba, a city near Tel Aviv, Israel. But the college removed it... after reports circulated that it contained stolen artifacts." [NYTimes

"Radiohead finally take the stage in Israel, play their longest concert in 11 years" by Alex Young: "Defying protests and calls for a cultural boycott, Radiohead took the stage at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday night... Radiohead certainly let their music do the talking on Wednesday night, as the band served up a 27-song set that amounted to their longest performance in 11 years... According to reports from the ground, Yorke spoke sparsely throughout the night, saying at the end of the show, “A lot of stuff has been said about this, but in the end, we played some music.”" [COS; BBC

“Is Israeli spy thriller False Flag, the new Homeland” by Gerard Gilbert: “False Flag is being marketed as “the new Homeland”, perhaps inevitably since the global hit starring Claire Danes as CIA agent Carrie Mathison began life as the low-budget Israeli TV drama called Prisoners of War. “It's a big compliment but the big difference is the focus”, says False Flag's co-creator Amit Cohen. “Homeland puts the focus on the professionals and does it in an amazing way, but the uniqueness of False Flag is that it is told from the point of view of ordinary people They don’t know anything about the espionage world. This is their first encounter with the world of shadows. We didn’t put the focus on terrorists or spies - we were looking at Israeli society and Israeli characters to tell the story.”” [Independent

“Nev Schulman is getting married in the Hamptons this weekend” by Christine Burroni: “The ceremony is set to take place in Schulman’s father’s back yard, “where Nev used to run around as a kid,” and the reception will follow on the beach where Schulman took Perlongo on their second date Perlongo will walk down the aisle in a gown by Israeli designer Inbal Raviv and jewelry by Edgar Mosa.” [PageSix

DESSERT: "Kosher bourbon: Buffalo Trace, Jewish owned since 1992" by Alfred Miller: "“Whisky Alert” read the top of the 2010 memo. Issued by an association of groups that grant kosher status to food products, the memo revealed serious doubts about whether the products of Franklin County’s best-known brand were in fact kosher. With its purchase by Sazerac Company in 1992, Buffalo Trace had become a Jewish-owned company, said the author of that memo, Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, referring to Sazerac Chairman William Goldring. For Jews who keep kosher and also enjoy a bit of Buffalo Trace bourbon, that poses a problem due to a relatively obscure Jewish dietary law related to Passover." [StateJournal]

REMEMBERING: "Raymond Sackler, Psychopharmacology Pioneer and Philanthropist, Dies at 97" by Sam Roberts: "Dr. Raymond Sackler, a pioneer in psychopharmacology, a medicinal products entrepreneur and a leading philanthropist whose family made a fortune from the opioid painkiller OxyContin, died on Monday in Greenwich, Conn. They were major benefactors who helped finance the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (home to the Temple of Dendur), the Freer and Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, British cultural institutions, schools in Israel and scores of scientific, academic and cultural programs. Raymond Raphael Sackler was born on Feb. 16, 1920, in Brooklyn to Isaac Sackler and the former Sophie Ziesel, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who ran a grocery store." [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire, art collector and NYC real estate developer, Sheldon Solow turns 89... Retired after 30 years in the US Senate (D-MD) following 10 years in the House of Representatives, Barbara Mikulski turns 81... President of the National Endowment for Democracy (a private, congressionally supported grant-making institution) since its 1984 founding, Carl Gershman turns 74... Long-time member of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as a consul to Hong Kong and ambassador to Germany, Yoram Ben-Zeev turns 73... Commissioner on the US Commission on Civil Rights (2011-2016), Assistant Secretary of HUD in the Clinton administration, presently Vice Chair of the Board of Bank of San Francisco, Roberta Achtenberg turns 67... NY Times columnist, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman turns 64... Molecular geneticist at NYC-based Rockefeller University and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Jeffrey M. Friedman turns 63... Broadcast and digital media executive, managing director of FDM Azerbaijan LLC and Azerbaijan International Film Company, both based in Baku, Farrell Meisel turns 62... Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Barbara Risman turns 61...

Past president of the Women's Department at the Jewish Federation of Detroit, her late father was the US Ambassador to Norway (1997-2000), mother of fashion designers Matthew and Alex, Marcie Hermelin Orley turns 58... Political director of CNN, where he oversees the political coverage across all of CNN's platforms, David Marc Chalian turns 44... Co-author of "Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame," he is a staff writer at The Atlantic and a fellow at the New America Foundation, former editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer turns 43... Singer who burst on the scene as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol, Efraym Elliott Yamin turns 39... Senior Vice President at lobbyist Capalino+Company, Fred Kreizman turns 39... Managing partner of the communications firm of Main & Rose, writer, speaker and advocate, Beth Doane turns 34... Utility player for MLB's Philadelphia Phillies, he started at third base for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Ty Kelly turns 29... Sheila Ganjian Navi turns 27... Graduate of Rockville, MD's Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy and University of Pennsylvania, now a business analyst at McKinsey & Company, Etan Raskas turns 25... Institutional sales associate at BlackRock in San Francisco, Jonathan Tamir Alden turns 25... Associate at Chicago-based kCura, an e-discovery software company, former AIPAC staffer, Ashley Abramowicz... Jack Guggenheim... Goldie Fields...

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