Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: June 13, 2018

Kushner to tour Middle East next week | Will Trump's base allow him to force concessions from Bibi? | What Dr. Ruth told Dr. Kissinger

Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser, meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017.
Matti Shatran / Embassy

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TOP TALKER: "A federal judge ruled Tuesday that AT&T can proceed with its blockbuster acquisition of Time Warner without any conditions, marking a historic defeat for the Justice Department that could rewrite the media landscape and set the stage for other deals." [WSJ]

Gary Ginsberg, Time Warner’s executive vice president, said in a statement that U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s “resounding rejection of the government’s arguments is confirmation that this was a case that was baseless, political in its motivation and should never have been brought in the first place.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: "Whether it was or not, the case always felt political. The Justice Department’s attempt to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner never made sense on the merits of the case... The calculus for companies considering mergers — or any decision — shouldn’t be whether they think a president will seek to block or approve it on a whim." 

"Trump’s immediate praise of the Walt Disney Company’s proposed acquisition of a big chunk of 21st Century Fox — which is owned by his pal Rupert Murdoch — only added to the sense that he is the one pulling the regulatory strings. If Makan Delrahim’s reasons for seeking to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal were genuine, Mr. Trump’s behavior only undermined the credibility of his own people." [DealBook]

WHAT'S NEXT: AT&T plans to close its purchase of Time Warner no later than June 20th [Reuters]

"Ahead of an official rollout planned for next week, John Stankey, a veteran AT&T executive chosen to oversee the newly acquired Time Warner assets, is supposed to have individual conversations with the heads of HBO (Richard Plepler), Warner Bros. (Kevin Tsujihara), and Turner Broadcasting (John Martin) in the coming days, people familiar with the plans told me. Plepler and Tsujihara aren’t expected to be going anywhere (“All signs point to them staying,” one source told me), but Martin is more of a wild card, and many within the company expect that he will leave one way or another." [VanityFair]

JEFF ZUCKER'S FUTURE? -- Alan Murray writes: "I suspect the president’s non-stop criticism of CNN will make it impossible for AT&T to make major changes at the network, for fear of being seen as bowing to White House pressure. CNN President Jeff Zucker, ironically, may have the president to thank for his continued employment." [Fortune]

FIRST LOOK -- Who Is Behind Trump’s Links to Arab Princes? A Billionaire Friend -- by David Kirkpatrick: “Confusion about your friend Donald Trump is VERY high,” Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates emailed back when [Tom] Barrack tried to introduce the candidate... Mr. Trump’s image, the ambassador warned, “has many people extremely worried.”Mr. Barrack’s email correspondence with Ambassador Otaiba... was provided to The New York Times by an anonymous group critical of Emirati foreign policy, and it illustrates the formative role Mr. Barrack played as a matchmaker between Mr. Trump and the Persian Gulf princes." 

"A month after his first outreach to Ambassador Otaiba, Mr. Barrack wrote again on May 26 to introduce Mr. Kushner, who was preparing for a role as a presidential envoy to the Middle East. “You will love him and he agrees with our agenda!” Mr. Barrack promised in another email... Mr. Barrack’s efforts began to pay off. Mr. Kushner met Ambassador Otaiba in May 2016... When Mr. Trump won in November, Ambassador Otaiba was eager to pull Mr. Barrack even closer... “Thanks to you, I’m in consistent contact with Jared and that has been extremely helpful, for both sides I think,” Ambassador Otaiba wrote Mr. Barrack. They celebrated again in May 2017, when Mr. Trump made his first foreign trip as president, to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia... “It all started with you and JK and I so congratulations on a great beginning,” Mr. Barrack wrote to Ambassador Otaiba." [NYTimes]

REAL DONALD TRUMP TO REAL MAHMOUD ABBAS -- Adam Entous, author of the recent New Yorker story, How Trump, Israel And The Gulf States Plan To Fight Iran, shared a photo this morning of Trump's note to Mahmoud Abbas, written over a copy of Michael Goodwin's op-ed 'Abbas' Jew hatred exposed.' Trump wrote, "Mahmoud, Wow - This is the real you? Best Wishes, Donald J. Trump." [Pic

-- HEARD ON NPR’S MORNING EDITION -- Steve Inskeep: So Netanyahu wants to be closer with Arab nations - with U.S. help, and that’s working out for him. Netanyahu wanted the U.S. out of the Iran deal and more confrontation with Iran, that’s working out for him. Netanyahu wanted pressure put on the Palestinians to accept a lesser deal, that’s working out for him. But is it still possible that he’ll be asked to pay a price by President Trump, that one day President Trump will say, ‘Now I need you to make some real concessions to the Palestinians because I actually do want an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal?'

Entous: “I think that’s something that makes Bibi nervous, according to officials that we spoke to for the story. He’s worried that because of Trump’s popularity in Israel, because of the things that he’s done, such as moving the embassy to Jerusalem, it is going to be very difficult for Netanyahu to say no to Trump, if and when he comes and asks for concessions. But I think one needs to look also at Trump from the perspective that he’s going to be seeking at some point, probably, reelection, and in order to be reelected his base of support are Evangelicals Christians in the U.S. and Orthodox Jews. The issue is, is he willing to upset his domestic base that potentially Bibi is unable to accept, and that certainly strong hawks that support Israel in the U.S. will see, potentially, as a betrayal of commitments that they believe Trump made and why they supported him in the first place to become president.” [NPR]

ROAD TO PEACE -- Kushner to visit Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for peace plan talks -- by Barak Ravid: ”Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, will travel to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia next week to discuss the next stages of the peace effort and the crisis in Gaza Kushner and Greenblatt want to discuss lingering questions they have as they finish drafting the peace plan, including the optimal time for launching it." 

Trump admin official: "The peace team didn’t ask for a meeting [with the Palestinians] for this trip. The Palestinian leadership will know Kushner and Greenblatt are in the region and if the Palestinian leadership wants to meet, Kushner and Greenblatt are ready to meet."

WHERE'S FRIEDMAN? "U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is visiting Washington this week. The U.S. official stressed that contrary to several press reports, Friedman was not summoned to Washington to talk about the peace plan but was there for regular meetings. "Ambassador Friedman wanted to catch up with Kushner and Greenblatt before they head to the region", the U.S. official said." [Axios

JARED INSIDER -- Kushner's 2017 Apartment Deal Shows Turn Toward Israeli Firms -- by Caleb Melby and  David Kocieniewski: "A line of credit Kushner and his father hold with Israel Discount Bank jumped to as much as $25 million during the past year, from under $5 million in late 2017, his most recent financial disclosure shows... Kushner listed a single property loan as a personal liability -- a debt affiliated with Quail Ridge, a New Jersey apartment complex that his family purchased in September. Psagot Investment House, Israel’s largest asset manager, invested alongside the family firm, Kushner Cos." [Bloomberg]

Gabriel Sherman on what Kushner is up to after regaining top security clearance: “Now, Kushner openly flaunts his status in front of Kelly, having had his clearance restored. According to a Republican in frequent contact with the White House, Kushner recently stood up and walked out of a meeting that Kelly was leading. Kushner has told people that Kelly will be gone by the end of summer, according to a person who’s spoken with him recently. “Jared is strutting around with his balls out,” said the Republican.” [VanityFair

AT THE UN -- Palestinians seek UN vote blaming Israel; US wants changes -- by Edith Lederer: "The Palestinians... are hoping an emergency meeting of the U.N. General Assembly... will adopt a resolution deploring what it calls Israel's "excessive use of force," particularly in Gaza... Arab and Islamic nations decided to go to the 193-member assembly, where there are no vetoes, following the U.S. veto of virtually the same resolution in the Security Council on June 1."

"U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley sent a letter to all U.N. member states Tuesday calling the proposed General Assembly resolution "fundamentally imbalanced" for "ignoring basic truths about the situation in Gaza" and not mentioning Hamas. She proposed an amendment condemning Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the Gaza-Israel border fence, "thereby putting civilians at risk." ... Haley said the amendment "is not controversial" and simply condemns "behavior we should all recognize as harmful to the Palestinian people." The letter said the amendment would be voted on before the resolution." [AP

PIC OF THE DAY -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Henry Kissinger in Berlin yesterday. 


Dr. Ruth, Dr. Kissinger, and Trump’s Cruelty to Families -- by George Packer: "We were guests at a dinner in New York for Angela Merkel... It was the fall of 2015, the height of the migrant crisis in Europe. Germany had announced that it would admit a million refugees, most of them fleeing the civil war in Syria. Merkel had come under heavy criticism for the decision, and, during the soup course, Kissinger—ninety-two years old, eight decades removed from his own experience as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany—let the Chancellor have it. Of course, he said, he could admire the humanitarian impulse to save one person, but a million? That would change “German civilization.” ... Merkel listened, in her focused way, and didn’t argue, except to say, “What choice do we have?”

"When Kissinger... finished, Merkel turned to Dr. Ruth [Westheimer], on her left. Did she have anything to add? ... She told us the story of the Evian Conference, held on Lake Geneva, in July, 1938, where countries from around the world gathered to debate the plight of Germany’s Jews. In the end, only one country—the Dominican Republic—agreed to take in a substantial number of Jewish refugees... Four months after the failure of Evian, in November, came Kristallnacht... Two months later, in January, 1939, Ruth’s mother placed her on a train with other German Jewish children bound for Switzerland—part of the Kindertransport... “The Evian Conference gave us no help,” Dr. Ruth said. “If not for the Kindertransport, I would not be here today. I hope something more comes from this conversation about the Syrian refugees than came from Evian.” At this point she was looking directly at Kissinger." [NewYorker]

TALK OF OUR NATION: "The Fracturing of the Jewish People" by William Galston: "Although both American and Israeli Jews believe that they are part of one people, and that they benefit from one another’s strength, they are divided by citizenship. Relying on the idea of shared peoplehood, 53% of American Jews believe that it is appropriate for them to influence Israeli security issues. Speaking as citizens of a sovereign state, 68% of Israelis disagree." [WSJ]

DRIVING THE CONVO -- Iran deal comparisons cloud Trump’s North Korea summit -- by Matt Lee: "For Iran deal proponents... the Singapore summit was evidence of Trump’s lack of preparedness and poor negotiating skills. Iran deal opponents, meanwhile, seemed willing to wait and see... Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a Trump advocate and fervent Iran deal foe, urged patience and sought to dispel suggestions that the president had unwisely plunged into a meeting with a dictator after having withdrawn from the accord with Tehran. He noted, as did other Trump allies, that North Korea already had nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them whereas Iran did not." [AP

Netanyahu hails Trump's 'historic' summit with North Korea -- by Dan Williams: “This is an important step in the effort to strip the Korean peninsula of nuclear weaponry,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “President Trump is also taking a firm stance against Iran’s attempt to obtain nuclear weaponry, as well as its belligerence in the Middle East.” [Reuters]

Aaron David Miller writes... "Trump's hooked on the history books: I saw a similar process in the early 1990s when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat offered then-President Bill Clinton a dance on history's stage via the Oslo peace process... Before this is done, we'll likely see Trump, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-In clasping hands ending the Korean war. Judging by Trump's demeanor... he's hooked. This historic summit offers him the possibility of a ride into the history books, and he'll likely fall in love with the process designed to keep it alive." [CNN]

Eli Lake writes... "Once Trump Saw Kim as a Tyrant. Now He Treats Him Like a Statesman: Trump's verbiage here is reminiscent of Barack Obama's 2015 Nowruz message to the Iranian people. Back then Obama said, "My message to you, the people of Iran, is that together we have to speak up for the future that we seek." Obama knew, when he said this, that the Iranian people had no say in the future of their country's nuclear program. The only person who did was the supreme leader to whom Obama wrote a series of respectful letters. The same dynamic is at play with Trump and North Korea. Trump must know that most North Koreans despise their dictator." [BloombergView]

Otto Warmbier's Parents Praise Trump And Hope 'Something Positive' Comes From North Korea Summit: "Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a brief statement... that they appreciated the president’s comments about their son and family... "Hopefully something positive can come from this.”" [Time]

DHS SECRETARY TOURS 'THE WALL' -- U.S. official eyes Israel's Egypt border for Mexico wall ideas -- by Dan Williams: "U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen inspected Israel’s fenced-off border with Egypt on Tuesday for ideas for the U.S. border with Mexico, where President Donald Trump has pledged to build a wall, Israel Radio reported. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angered Mexico last year by publicly backing Trump’s call and pointing to the towering, sensor-rigged Egyptian border fence as a possible model “She understood the challenges and opportunities that exist there,” [A U.S.] official said, without elaborating.” [Reuters; Pic]   

MUELLER WATCH -- Insiders Fear Trump Is Lurching from One Nuclear Showdown to Another -- by Gabriel Sherman: “Donald is very worried,” said a Republican close to Trump. The difference is that Trump is now more unshackled than at any point in his presidency, meaning that firing [Robert] Mueller or [Rod] Rosenstein remains a possibility. “We’ve entered the era of primal Trump,” one outside adviser told me. Trump allies view the legal cloud hanging over Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as at least as ominous as the obstruction investigation. According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now... “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” a former White House official said. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.” [VanityFair

Democrats Want To Interview Ivanka Trump In The Russia Probe -- by Emma Loop: "Multiple Democrats on the committee leading the congressional investigations into Russian election interference say they want to interview Ivanka Trump... about BuzzFeed News’ reporting that Ivanka Trump connected the weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov, with her father’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who was working on the Trump Tower project, “and what her role might have been in that.” [BuzzFeed]

2018 WATCH -- Corey Stewart, Confederate symbols defender, wins GOP nomination in Virginia Senate race -- by Eric Bradner: "Corey Stewart, the bombastic conservative who built his public image on championing Confederate symbols, won the Republican Senate nomination in Virginia... He now faces Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, the party's 2016 vice presidential nominee and a heavy favorite for re-election, in November's midterm election... [Stewart] attended a news conference with the leader of the white supremacist protest that later resulted in the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville... Stewart blamed the violence on "both sides."" [CNN; RichmondTimesDispatch]

2020 WATCH -- Jason Kander to speak at Democratic state convention as activists gear up for general election -- by Brianne Pfannenstiel: "Let America Vote founder and potential 2020 presidential candidate Jason Kander will rally Iowa Democrats at their state convention Saturday... Kander... has already traveled to Iowa several times this year." [DesMoinesRegister]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Compass CEO Ori Allon announced he is transferring ownership of Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Club to focus on the future growth of his company [CTech Blackstone and KKR pursue stake in Swiss sports data group [Reuters]  Apollo Confidentially Files to Start Pipeline Buyout Company [Bloomberg]  Meredith sets date for final bids for Time, Sports Illustrated [NYPost]  Shareholder Discontent Brews at WPP in Wake of Martin Sorrell [WSJ]

PROFILE -- 6 months in, Philly DA Larry Krasner cementing national stature among reform advocates -- by Chris Palmer: "Six months into his first term, Krasner has made waves locally by dismissing and shaking up staff, enacting bold new policies, and making headline-grabbing decisions in several high-profile cases... Krasner is also just one of several prosecutors across the country promising reform. Some peers... also received a campaign boost from political organizations tied to billionaire George Soros, whose super PAC contributed $1.5 million to Krasner’s candidacy in 2017." [Philly]

HAPPENING TODAY -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to keynote the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center annual mission to Washington, DC. Sessions is expected to focus on religious liberty and security for religious schools and synagogues, according to the organizers. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) will speak at the OU's luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building.  

STATE SIDE -- The New York State Senate passed a measure yesterday requiring the State Education Department to review specific school districts’ teaching guidelines and issue regulations necessary to ensure school districts are providing history lessons about the Holocaust. The State Education Commissioner would also be required to deliver a report on findings to the Legislature and the Governor so that all stakeholders can better understand statewide school districts’ aptitude for teaching this type of curriculum.

Anne Frank House museum unveils virtual reality tour: "The Amsterdam museum dedicated to Anne Frank's life launched a virtual reality tour of the cramped quarters where the Jewish diarist and her family hid from Nazis during World War II, marking what would have been her 89th birthday Tuesday. The Anne Frank House said the 25-minute tour means people won't have to visit the museum to see the annex where the Franks and four other Jews hid from July 1942 until they were discovered in August 1944 and deported to concentration camps." [AP]

Visiting Jerusalem, Miss Iraq is embraced by Israelis, praised for her bravery: "Iraq’s representative at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant — whose Instagram photo last year with her Israeli counterpart forced her family to flee the Middle Eastern country — was cheered and hugged this week by shoppers at an iconic Jerusalem market during an extraordinary visit to Israel. “It actually felt weird — the people look like my people. And the city looks like Damascus, like Syria, and I’ve been there, so everything seems familiar to me,” Sarah Idan said in a TV item aired Tuesday by Hadashot. While Idan toured the Mahane Yehuda market, she encountered numerous Israelis of Iraqi origin, one of whom told her she would like to go back to Iraq." [ToI; Pic]

DESSERT -- Queens Deli Ben’s Best Will Close After 73 Years -- by Serena Dai: "Rego Park deli Ben’s Best, open for 73 years, will be closing at the end of the month due to a decline in business. Owner Jay Parker, whose father Benjamin opened the deli in 1945, says that people aren’t coming in anymore, blaming new bike lanes that nixed about 200 parking spaces. He’s open to selling it — but he can’t keep it running anymore, he says. The deli is one of the city’s best, known for a dark and rich pastrami, as well as a kreplach soup and rolled beef." [EaterNY; PIX11]

BIRTHDAYS: Engineer and computer scientist, professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock turns 84... London-born, now living in Gstaad, Switzerland, billionaire founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 80... Senior advisor for George Soros's Open Society Institute, he served in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations, winner of a 1985 MacArthur genius fellowship, Morton Halperin turns 80... Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co. (1983-1997), Chancellor of Brown University (1998 to 2007) and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 78... Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from New York since 1992, Jerrold Lewis "Jerry" Nadler turns 71... Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel (2004-2017), he was previously Attorney General of Israel (1997-2004), Elyakim Rubinstein turns 71... Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD turns 63... 

National political correspondent for National Public Radio, Mara Liasson turns 63... Co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham "Ben" Horowitz turns 52... Founder and CEO of Overtime, Daniel Porter turns 52... Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, Michael Stern turns 39... Actor, the son of Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving, Max Samuel Spielberg turns 33... Film and television actress, she starred in the CBS sitcom "Two Broke Girls" (2011-2017), Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 32... Founder and CEO of NYC-based ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm, Benjamin H. Weingarten turns 30... Retired football player who fasts on Yom Kippur, he won the 2010 Outland Trophy (as the best collegiate interior lineman), he was a first round NFL draft pick and played for 4 seasons in the NFL (2011-2014), Gabe Carimi turns 30... Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council at the University of Virginia while studying for her Masters in Public Policy, AIPAC intern, Samantha Magnes turns 23...