Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: June 20, 2017

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File photo: White House Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives Dina Powell leave a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, April 5, 2017.
File photo: White House Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives Dina Powell leave a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, April 5, 2017.Credit: Andrew Harnik

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DRIVING THE DAY -- GA06 SPECIAL: “Both Parties Look to Georgia to Send a Message" by Clare Foran: "The special election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is down to the wire and too close to call as voters head to the polls on Tuesday to decide who will replace former Republican representative Tom Price, who now serves as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services." [TheAtlantic]

The debate over Jon Ossoff's "outsider” status reveals the core of the race” by Jeff Stein: “Though born in the district, Ossoff, 30, is the son of an Australian immigrant mother and a Jewish father of Russian-Lithuanian descent. He would be only the second Jew elected to represent Georgia in Congress, and the first in decades.” [Vox

RJC's Matt Brooks emails: "The GA 6 race has taken on national significance as the Democrats have tried now for the 3rd time (MT/KS and now GA) to make this a referendum on President Trump. The candidate they've chosen is a young, inexperienced Junior staffer who doesn't live in the district and who worked for a Congressman who called Jewish settlers "termites." In addition Ossoff has been heavily funded by J Street. Karen Handel by comparison is an accomplished and highly qualified candidate. The RJC has worked hard on her behalf and has raised very significant money for her. In the end while this will be a close race, I'm confident that by tonight Karen Handel will be the next Congresswoman from that district."

Democratic donor Andrew Weinstein tells us: "Georgia 6 is a reliably Republican district that's been in GOP hands since 1979. Tom Price won the district by 23 points in 2016 and Romney carried it in 2012 by the same margin. That a 30 year old Democrat who has never held elected office before is even competitive there should cause some sleepless nights for Republicans regardless of the outcome. President Trump currently has a 38% approval rating. When a Presidents approval is below 50%, their party typically loses somewhere around 30 seats in the House. The Democrats need a net pickup of 24 seats to retake the majority. Though the midterms are still a long way away, and a lot can happen between now and then, an Ossoff win will be viewed by many as a sign of a wave election. That perception alone is guaranteed to impact incumbent retirements, candidate recruitment, fundraising, & grassroots enthusiasm. Once that wave starts to build, it's hard to stop it."

“Jon Ossoff’s secret weapon in tight Georgia race: Jewish moms and daughters” by Ron Kampeas: “Ossoff... has cultivated Jewish voters: Leah Fuhr, the campaign’s political affairs manager, has organized a number of outings for Jews for Ossoff Fuhr says she is surprised at the strength of Jewish support. “Jews here tend to lean more Republican than nationally,” she says. “But in this election, he’s getting more Jewish support.” But talk to his Jewish backers and the first issues they mention are universal: women’s rights and Trump’s pledge to roll back the health care reforms of his predecessor, Barack Obama.” [JTA

EXCLUSIVE -- Dina Powell visited AIPAC’s Board -- by Aaron Magid: White House Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell accepted an invitation to meet with AIPAC’s National Board over lunch last week where she had a broad range foreign policy discussion on the latest developments in the Middle East and, in particular, those relating to Israel. AIPAC Spokesman Marshall Wittmann confirmed the meeting in an email to Jewish Insider on Monday. “We were pleased to host Ms. Powell at our Board meeting, and we had a good exchange of views and perspectives,” Wittmann said. [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Jared Kushner Is About to Plunge Into Middle East Diplomacy” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman: “A senior administration official said Mr. Kushner’s trip to the Mideast had been planned for several weeks Several officials said this could be the first trip in which Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt delved into the nitty-gritty of a possible peace agreement — borders, security and other questions that have bedeviled American peacemakers for decades — by asking both sides to list their priorities for negotiations Mr. Kushner’s participation, officials said, will raise the stakes for both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.” [NYTimes

HEARD, NOT SEEN, YESTERDAY -- WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer in off-camera, no-audio gaggle: 
“This is a continuation of the President's trip and conversations that he began in Israel to further Middle East peace and make incremental changes in the right direction I think part of it is to figure out how to make incremental change that results in a lasting peace. Part of this is really to utilize the trust that has been built up, and not have these negotiations out in public. But I think that they had a very successful visit when the President was over there and they're going to continue to build on that.”

--Rosie Gray asked Steve Bannon why White House briefings are now off camera. He texted back: "Sean got fatter.” h/t Yoni Appelbaum [Twitter; Atlantic]

“Trump ups the ante in diplomatic process by dispatching Kushner to region” by Herb Keinon: “Kushner's arrival and involvement in the process “raises the stakes for everyone,” [Daniel] Shapiro said (in a conference call on Monday organized by the Israel Project), with the President's son-in-law essentially daring each of the parties to say “no.” “My guess is that they won't My supposition is that no party will want to say ‘no.’ They may say, ‘ yes, but;’, or, ‘yes, with reservations.’” [JPost; ToI

Jason Greenblatt tweets: 
“Before my meeting with Netanyahu, I met with Yitzhak Molcho this morning. He shared his experience in how to build peace... Ahead of Jared Kushner’s visit to the region, today I met with Palestinian leaders to further our discussions on how to achieve peace... Met with Yossi Klein Halevi today and heard his perspective on peace. Appreciate Yossi's insight and time." [Twitter]

Bibi's tweetstorm: “Palestinian President Abbas tells the world that he educates Palestinian children for peace. That’s a lie. Last week, the Palestinian Authority named a public square after Khaled Nazzal, a Palestinian terrorist chief Naming yet another public square for a mass murderer teaches Palestinian youngsters to murder Israelis. That’s the very opposite of peace President Abbas: stop poisoning the minds of Palestinian youth. Educate for peace, not terror.” [Twitter; Newsweek

TIMING DEPT: "Ground broken for first new West Bank settlement in 25 years" by Sue Surkes and Jacob Magid: "Netanyahu announced Tuesday that ground had been broken for the construction of the first Israeli West Bank settlement in 25 years. The new settlement, to be known as Amichai, is to accommodate residents of the illegal Amona outpost, which was evacuated in February in line with court orders because it was built on private Palestinian land." [ToI; BBC]  Settlement tours: a new frontline in Israel's ideological conflict [Reuters]

IRAN DEAL: "The CIA's Secret Talks With Obama's Arab Back Channel” by Eli Lake: While Obama used Oman's good relations with Iran to advance his diplomacy with Iran, the Trump administration sees its ties to Iran as a problem. This was part of the delicate message Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and Trump's deputy national security adviser, General Ricky Waddell, delivered to Qaboos in a secret visit to Muscat on June 11... One U.S. official told me that Pompeo and Waddell were careful not to ask the Sultan to cut ties with Iran. That would be impossible for the Omanis, given their economic dependence on Iran. But the message was clear that Oman should take more action to stop Iran's resupplying of the Houthis.” [Bloomberg]

TOP TALKER: “Michael Flynn, Trump’s Ex-National Security Adviser, is Target of New House Inquiry Related to His Dealings in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East” by Jeff Stein: “Newsweek reported on June 9 that Flynn had traveled to Egypt and Israel in the summer of 2015 as an adviser on a project to pursue a joint U.S.-Russian-Saudi business venture to develop nuclear facilities located in—and financed by—Saudi Arabia. He did not report that trip As the Elijah Cummings-Eliot Engel letter on Monday noted, “According to a financial disclosure form that General Flynn submitted after he was fired as National Security Advisor, he did not begin advising X-Co Dynamics Inc./IronBridge Group until August 2015,” two months after his trip to Israel and Egypt.  “I met him in Israel on the end of a two-stop trip,” Thomas Cochran, a physicist advising the ACU group, told Newsweek. “This project makes no sense unless it has the complete support of the Israeli government.”” [Newsweek]  

IN THE SPOTLIGHT -- “For Jay Sekulow, New Trump Lawyer, Public Stumble Is Out of Character” by Charlie Savage: “Mr. Sekulow was born to a Reform Jewish family in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, according to a first-person account he posted on the website When he was a teenager, his family moved to Atlanta, where he attended the Atlanta Baptist College because it was a short distance from his house... As a student there, he wrote, he became convinced that Jesus was the savior predicted by Hebrew prophets. “I wasn’t concerned about how my parents would respond,” he wrote. “It didn’t enter my mind that they might be upset. After all, Jesus was a Jew. I knew that much. I didn’t see what the big deal would be about my believing he was the Jewish Messiah.” His parents, he wrote, accepted his decision.” [NYTimes

“Mueller team lawyer brings witness-flipping expertise to Trump probes” by Karen Freifeld: "Andrew Weissmann, who headed the U.S. Justice Department's criminal fraud section before joining Mueller's team last month, is best known for two assignments - the investigation of now-defunct energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn, New York - that depended heavily on gaining witness cooperation Kathryn Ruemmler, who served as White House counsel under former President Barack Obama, said Weissmann is willing to take risks to secure witness testimony that other prosecutors might not "He's not afraid to lose, and that is sometimes an unusual quality," Ruemmler said of Weissmann.” [Reuters

“Let’s Not Get Carried Away” by David Brooks: “There may be a giant revelation still to come. But as the Trump-Russia story has evolved, it is striking how little evidence there is that any underlying crime occurred — that there was any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians... There’s just something worrisome every time we find ourselves replacing politics of democracy with the politics of scandal. In democracy, the issues count, and you try to win by persuasion. You recognize that your opponents are legitimate, that they will always be there and that some form of compromise is inevitable The politics of scandal is delightful for cable news. It’s hard to build ratings arguing about health insurance legislation. But it’s easy to build ratings if you are a glorified Court TV, if each whiff of scandal smoke generates hours of “Breaking News” intensity and a deluge of speculation from good-looking former prosecutors.” [NYTimes]

“How the Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration” by Peter Beinart: “Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats became more and more confident that the country’s growing Latino population gave the party an electoral edge. To win the presidency, Democrats convinced themselves, they didn’t need to reassure white people skeptical of immigration so long as they turned out their Latino base As the Democrats grew more reliant on Latino votes, they were more influenced by pro-immigrant activism Liberals must take seriously Americans’ yearning for social cohesion. To promote both mass immigration and greater economic redistribution, they must convince more native-born white Americans that immigrants will not weaken the bonds of national identity. This means dusting off a concept many on the left currently hate: assimilation.” [TheAtlantic]

2018 WATCH:” Sources: Heller gets Democratic opponent for 2018 race” by Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett: “Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) plans to run against Republican Sen. Dean Heller for his Senate seat in Nevada, according to multiple people familiar with her plans Rosen is expected to formally announce in a couple weeks, according to one source. The recruitment of Rosen has the strong imprint of former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada After Reid settled on Rosen, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “closed the deal” and talked to Rosen four or five times to convince her to run, that person said.” [Politico]  Read our recent profile of Rep. Rosen: From Synagogue President to Member of Congress [JewishInsider]  

** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel's Bezeq Sinks After Chairman Called Into Securities Probe [Bloomberg]  Inventor Dean Kamen: Next big thing engineered organs, not AI [Axios]  Soros Says U.K. Is Approaching ‘Tipping Point’ as Brexit Bites [Bloomberg]  Amazon Prime Picks up Israeli Comedy Series Worldwide [HollywoodReporter]

VOICE OF JARED -- “After 150 days, Jared Kushner speaks” by Michael A. Memoli: “Jared Kushner.. is often seen at the president's side. But until Monday, he had never been heard by much of the public. So Kushner's otherwise unremarkable voice proved to be among the more interesting things at the kick-off event of what the White House is calling “Tech Week." On the administration's 150th day, the 36-year-old adviser spoke before reporters and television cameras to discuss one of the initiatives he’s leading: a review of how private-sector solutions could be adapted to modernize government’s technological infrastructure All told, Kushner spoke for just under seven minutes.” [LATimes; Video

How It Played: 
Jared Kushner Actually Has A Voice [HuffPost]  Kicking off Tech Week, Jared Kushner rallies tech leaders against floppy disks [TechCrunch]  “He’s a beautiful little bar mitzvah boy reading a speech his father wrote him, the meaning of which largely evades his soft mind.” [TheSlot

TALK OF OUR NATION: Teen raises $15K to send Holocaust survivor to Israel: “A Southern California teen raised about $15,000 to send an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor to Israel so the man can meet his last living relative and finally receive his bar mitzvah, according to a newspaper report Monday. Drew Principe, 17, said he came up with the idea for a fundraiser after meeting Henry Oster during a school assembly in January. Oster and his family were deported by Nazis from their home in Cologne, Germany, a few weeks before he was supposed to celebrate his bar mitzvah He was sent to a few different camps before being liberated at 17 and eventually moving to Los Angeles to become an optometrist. Principe discovered that Oster had never been to Israel, so the teen decided on the spot to give the man a bracelet he had bought on a trip to the Holy Land a few years ago. The bracelet has the Shema, a Jewish prayer, inscribed on it. "It really is a gesture that cannot be measured," Oster told the Ventura County Star “I have not taken this off except for the shower."” [AP; DailyMail]

“A rabbi, a reverend and an imam have a plan for peace in middle America” by Dan Simon: “Nebraska's largest city (Omaha) will soon also be known as the home of interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding. A rabbi, a reverend and an imam (no, it's not a setup joke) are partners in a decadelong quest to bring together the three Abrahamic faiths -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- to share and worship on the same property. It's called Tri-Faith Initiative The location chosen for the sacred endeavor is the old golf course of Highland Country Club, a "Jewish Club" developed in the 1920s when Jews were excluded from other clubs in the city and around the country "If you can't create peace in the Middle East -- what about Omaha?" quipped Rabbi [Aryeh] Azriel, [the former senior rabbi at Omaha's Temple Israel].” [CNN

"‘I felt afraid’: Lawsuit claims public university fostered anti-Semitism on campus" by Susan Svrluga: "A group of students and community members filed a lawsuit Monday against San Francisco State University and its leaders, alleging that the public school has fostered a climate of anti-Semitism “marked by violent threats to the safety of Jewish students on campus.” “I didn’t have the right to speak on my own campus; I felt afraid as a Jewish student,” said Jacob Mandel, who just graduated from San Francisco State... The lawsuit grew out of a confrontation in April 2016 when Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, was invited by SF Hillel to speak. Protesters yelled chants such as “Get the f— off our campus” and “Long live the intifada! Intifada, intifada!” using a microphone and bullhorns to drown out the speaker." [WashPost

KAFE KNESSET -- Kotel fight heats up -- by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The Western Wall is back on the political agenda, and once again, the Haredi parties and their supporters are pitted against the Conservative and Reform streams of American Jewry. On the heels of demands by Shas and UTJ to Netanyahu that the government cancel its decision to expand a pluralistic section on the southern end of the Western Wall, the Chief Rabbinate came to the Knesset with demands to have its own representation in court, separate from the government, since it disagrees with the Cabinet’s resolution on the egalitarian section.

The Justice Ministry, however, put its proverbial foot down, saying that the government can only present one position to the courts. MKs raucously debated the issue – but the strife came from within the coalition, and there are even disagreements within the Likud. Meanwhile, Likud MK David Amsalem continued his Shas-esque tirades against Reform Judaism, tweeting: “[US President Donald] Trump came to the Kotel, respected Jewish values, and entered the men’s section without his wife. Who doesn’t respect us? Reform. Who wants to help them? Apparently the government and the High Court.” ... No word yet on what Trump’s Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt thinks, but he did visit the Kotel, tweeting a photo and that he “prayed for an end to violence and that we would experience the blessings of peace.” Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

HEARD LAST NIGHT The Atlantic dissects the alt-right at 6th and I -- by Aaron Magid: Leading writers from The Atlantic discussed the alt-right's ideology and its future last night at the 6th and I Synagogue in DC. Commenting on the usage of “America First” to describe the President’s foreign policy, Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg emphasized, “There’s politically correct and there’s Nazi slogans, right? It’s true that human beings can get used to anything but when a leading candidate for President of the US hears a Nazi-ish slogan and continues to use it, that’s a relatively novel experience in modern American politics.”

Political reporter Rosie Gray explained that one of the challenges of covering the alt-right was that there is no actual statistical data quantifying the number of alt-right American activists. Interestingly, she clarified that senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon shouldn’t be characterized as part of the alt-right movement. “Under his (Bannon) leadership, Breitbart has shown itself as alt-right curious but I wouldn’t lump Steve Bannon with Richard Spencer,” Gray said. When asked which member of the Trump administration appears to be most receptive to hardcore nationalist ideas, Gray selected Stephen Miller, the former Congressional aide to Senator Jeff Sessions. “Do they (alt-right) know that he’s (Stephen Miller) Jewish?” Goldberg quipped. [JewishInsider]

MEDIA WATCH: "The Not-So-Bitter Rivalry of Dean Baquet and Marty Baron” by Joe Pompeo: "Baron and Baquet are the two most important newspaper editors in America right now, at a time when the media is tackling the most epic and consequential story of the past 40 years... When it comes to inside reports from intelligence and national security agencies, the Times and the Post, with their expanding rosters of veteran correspondents, have the greatest institutional advantages. In particular, the investigations into whether the Trump team colluded with Russia in the 2016 election have played to the historic strengths of both newspapers. ... The result has been a resurgence of ink-stained combat that makes NYT v. WaPo the most compelling journalistic rivalry since the days of Baquet and Baron's respective forefathers, Abe Rosenthal and Ben Bradlee Baron was born and raised in Tampa, the son of Jewish immigrants who arrived in the U.S. from Israel via Paris in 1954.” [PoliticoMag

TRANSITION: "HuffPost’s Sam Stein leaving for the Daily Beast" by Erik Wemple: "Days after HuffPost announced a round of layoffs, one of its longtime voices is making a leap of his own accord: Sam Stein, the site’s senior politics editor, is joining the Daily Beast in a similar capacity... Nearly a decade ago, Stein was among three staffers... who launched the site’s Washington bureau in a one-office room at the Watergate... He covered Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and made history in February 2009 when he became the first legitimate online-only reporter to pose a question to the president at a press conference." [WashPost

SPOTTED -- at the annual New York Board of Rabbis Humanitarian Awards Dinner last night at the Pierre in NYC: Rabbi Joe Potasnik, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Robert Tucker, Vincent Pitta, JCRC’s Michael Miller, William Berger, Steve Cohen, Rabbi Debbie Bravo, Rabbi Lester Bronstein, David Alpert, Michael Lipman, Stefan Sansone, Stephen Palmese, Diana Gerson, WNBC anchor David Price, Meir Laufer, Ezra Friedlander, Pinny Ringel, and Alicia Post.

SPORTS BLINK: "Amar’e Stoudemire has 3 options after ‘roller-coaster’ season in Israel" by Marc Berman: "Amar’e Stoudemire is back from the Holy Land with a championship in tow, and he has not ruled out a return to the NBA — and the Knicks. Stoudemire arrived back in Miami on Sunday after his Hapoel Jerusalem club, despite being the fourth seed in playoffs, captured the Israeli Premier League championship on Thursday with an 83-76 victory over Maccabi Haifa. Now, what’s next? Stoudemire said he enjoyed living in Israel (he’s applied for citizenship). “To play and win a championship my first year there, I could just call it quits and leave as a champion,’’ said Stoudemire, who never made it to the NBA Finals. “That could be an option. Another option is maybe to play with a team that needs quality veteran leadership here in the NBA. That could be an option. Or I could go back and defend the title for a back-to-back. I have time to think about it. Those are my three options.” [NYPost]

Heard in Israel -- "Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis: NFL's been cagey on concussions" by Aron Heller: "Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis says the NFL has taken advantage of its players by not sharing with them all the information it had about the risk of concussions. After viewing an innovation expo in Jerusalem that included a presentation from ElMindA, an Israeli neuro-technology company that can help the NFL diagnose concussions, Bettis said Monday that he was encouraged by the progress but still perplexed about how transparent the league has been over the years." [AP]

DESSERT: "Israel's complicated relationship with other nations is what makes its food so good" by Debra Kamin: "On Friday mornings at Dizengoff Center, one of the flagship malls in central Tel Aviv, the term “food court” takes on a whole new meaning. Carts peddling home-cooked dishes from Iraq, Iran and Tunisia are wheeled in, as are those packed with delicacies from Italy, Morocco and old Europe. At the Persian stand, well-dressed young Israelis queue up for Gondi, an Iranian spin on matzo-ball soup; at the Tunisian stall, they grab steaming bowls of chicken and whole eggs in the shell that has been enjoyed in Tunis for centuries..."

"But to Israelis, the Friday food fair at Dizengoff Center is not an EPCOT-style bonanza of foreign cuisine. It is one of the most accurate — and appetizing — cross-sections of Israeli food to be found in the Jewish State. The colorful smorgasbord on hand is both totally Israeli, and also not Israeli as all, because of one simple fact: there is no true definition of Israeli food, because for Israeli food, like Israelis themselves, nationality is complicated." [Mic]

** FRIDAY NIGHT IN ASPEN: For the second year in a row, Jewish Insider is partnering with OneTable and The Paul E. Singer Foundation to host a Friday night dinner on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival. The dinner, on June 30th, will also feature an upscale Israeli and California wine tasting from our own Yitz Applbaum. The dinner is open to all - whether you're 25 or 65, we've got a seat at the table for you. RSVP Here [OneTable] **

BIRTHDAYS: Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro turns 44... Academy Award, SAG and Golden Globe award winning actor, Martin Landau turns 89... Weston, Florida resident Harold Kurte turns 88... Writer, humorist, journalist and author of over 70 books including four series of children's books, Dan Greenburg turns 81... Born in Baghdad, made aliyah in 1950, served as a member of Knesset for the Ratz party and then the Meretz party (1984-2009), served as Minister of Industry and Trade (1999-2000), Ran Cohen turns 80... Detroit-based pawnbroker, reality TV star, author and speaker, Leslie "Les" Gold turns 67... Senior political editor at NBC News and adjunct professor at CUNY's Baruch College, Gregg Birnbaum turns 57 (h/t Playbook)... Rabbi of Baltimore's Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion, founding editor of Klal Perspectives and popular lecturer on Jewish law, thought and philosophy, Rabbi Moshe Hauer turns 52... Politico's White House and Justice Department reporter, Josh Gerstein turns 47... Journalist and EMT in NYC, formerly media editor for Gawker and director of public relations for the Village Voice, Maggie Shnayerson turns 36... Jennifer Bernstein turns 32... Associate Executive Director at Hillel Montreal, Beverley Shimansky... Alan Schulman...

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