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SCENE LAST NIGHT: Start-Up Nation Central and The Paul E. Singer Foundation held a dinner last night on the sidelines of the Aspen Ideas Festival in the backyard tent of Laura and Gary Lauder's Aspen residence. The evening, titled Driverless Cars: When? Where? What Do We Need to Know?featured a discussion with Amnon Shashua, the co-founder and chairman of Mobileye (recently acquired by Intel for $15B), moderated by David Leonhardt of the New York Times. "2021 is the year we can launch driverless cars. It's achievable and not science fiction," said Shashua who will soon be leading Intel's autonomous driving division. Shashua explained the technology will be ready in 2019 but "it takes two years to test in order to prove that the risk of fatalities is at least three orders of magnitude lower than what we have currently." [Pic]
During Q&A, Haim Saban asked Shashua about the millions who could lose jobs as a result of driverless vehicles and about the safety of the computers. "My computer at home broke down this morning, what is preventing the car's computer from doing the same?" Saban then joked, "I think that I just destroyed the whole business" (laughter). Shashua responded that "this computer will never break down because there are redundancies built in. There is dual steering, redundancy breaking." As for jobs, Shashua predicted that this transition "will unfold over at least two decades so I think people will have time to get new jobs." [Pic]
Dan Senor called up New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to the stage to give the perspective of a municipal leader grappling with these issues. Landrieu told the crowd, "we're already preparing for it, but there's not gonna be a lot of autonomous vehicles heading to duck hunts in rural Louisiana anytime soon (laughter) so we're focusing this as an urban agenda item for now."
Later in the evening, Senor moderated a panel featuring Eran Shir, co-founder and CEO of Nexar which is creating the world's largest open vehicle-to-vehicle network, along with the CEO of Start-Up Nation Central, Eugene Kandel. [Pic]
SPOTTED: Terry Kassel, Paul Singer, Karen Davidson, Cheryl Saban, Haim Saban, Amnon Shashua, Dan Senor, Campbell Brown, Laura Lauder, Gary Lauder, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Katie Couric, John Molner, Andrea Mitchell, Bonnie Lautenberg, Steve Leber, Mitch Julis, Amb. John Loeb, Derek Thompson, Daphna Linzer, Richard Haass, Susan Mercandetti, Bob and Susan Oberndorf, Walter Isaacson, Eliot Gerson, Vicki and Ron Simms, Bill and Leslie Elkus, Henry Elkus, Phyllis and David Cook, Diane Troderman, Josh Troderman, Bruce and Vicki Heyman, Francis and Dionne Najafi, Emily Einhorn, Daniel Einhorn, Carrie Walton, Michael Dimock, Seth Siegel, Daniel Lippman, Daniel Bonner, Talia Lefkowitz, Deborah Hochberg, Annie Dickerson, Joel Winton, Amitai Raziel, Raphael Ouzan, Tamar Remz, Betty Grinstein, Gabriel Erem, Byron Edwards, Bill Weidman, Larry Singer, Lisa Singer, Lewis Kassel, Max Karpel, Anne Kornblut.
HEARD AT ASPEN IDEAS -- Wendy Sherman discussing the Iran deal in conversation with Jane Harman (whose birthday is today): Bill Burns had been the Undersecretary [of State for Political Affairs]. He had gone to an initial meeting with Iran, which was a big historic moment when the Americans entered the room with Iran, and Bill became deputy secretary of state, and early on, I said to him, ‘Do you want to keep the Iran file? You know, it’s a big deal.’ He said, ‘It’s all yours!”
Sherman on the Iranians: “Let me be really clear here: basically, in Iran there are hardliners and there are hard hardliners. We all talk about Rouhani as a moderate. He’s a very conservative cleric. So no one should have, you know, some belief that he’s going to all of a sudden open up Iran and it’s going to become a full-fledged democracy. It’s not going to happen. I have a lot of faith in the young people in Iran But if there’s change, it’s going to be a long time in coming.”
On not shaking hands with the Iranians: “I had a discussion with them about how I grew up in a Jewish community that had a lot of Orthodox Jews and I couldn’t shake their hands either. It was really an odd and interesting discussion.”
On why the U.S. didn’t focus on Iran’s behavior: “No deal can carry the weight of everything. This is a Rubik’s Cube that was complicated enough. So to try to pile on all of Iran’s bad behavior would have, I think, been virtually impossible as a negotiation. But beyond that, and I had said this publicly, all of the Gulf states said to me at the beginning of this, do not discuss any regional issues in side rooms. Stay only focused on the nuclear deal because you cannot discuss our future if we are not in the room, which is sensible. And then, as the deal started to look like it might get done, they all said to me, how can you do this deal without solving all the other problems. I understand both. I really do."
On coordinating with Israel: “Before and after every round, I met with, spoke with, or had a secure video conference with Israel, which provided enormous technical assistance to us.”
Harman: Wendy and I were in Israel at a security conference (INSS) right after the deal and she explained the enormous pain, personally, pain for someone who happens to be Jewish dealing with their own community, and I just think maybe you want to talk about that a little bit...
Sherman: “It was very tough and I wanted to go to Israel to this conference to speak. It was very difficult to have a community that I love and feel a part of be so against what I was doing. I knew that the technical professionals in Israel thought we did a good job and that we had improved Israel’s security. And I understood and appreciated that the Prime Minister at a political level had a different view. I never questioned the PM’s right to make that decision General [Yaakov] Amidror, who was National Security Advisor during a lot of this time, was at this conference and we hugged and kissed and we have moved forward.”
On Saudi Arabia, Gulf states’ warming relations with Israel as a result of the Iran deal: “I would urge you all to read an Op-Ed written by Phil Gordon in the Washington Post, which argues that if everybody think that suddenly there’s a kumbaya moment between the Gulf States and Israel, think again I don’t think the Gulf states have any interest in being very public about their relationship with Israel.”
Jane Harman on Middle East peace: “There is some reason to think that because our president views this deal between [the Palestinians] and Israel as a deal of deals that attention will be paid -- the neighborhood is now more aligned -- I am not saying totally aligned -- with Israel than it was, and there is an opportunity -- not that it will happen -- of what’s called an outside-inside solution.”
Sherman: “I'm not surprised that Jared Kushner had a difficult trip to the Middle East. It’s a tough problem.” [Pic]
Coming soon: Sherman announced yesterday she's writing a memoir on her career in public service... Full recap of the session here [JewishInsider]
SIGHTINGS... Bob Stillman thanking Wendy Sherman for her service and asking a question about sunset clauses in the Iran deal. Sherman made sure to point out to the crowd that Bob is the Chair of AIPAC's Greater Washington division [Pic] ... Emma Green and Jeffrey Goldberg discussing the role of religion in public life [Pic] ... Peter Lattman and Seth Siegel at the Start-Up Nation Central tent [Pic] ... Talia Lefkowitz and Harry Zieve Cohen at the tent [Pic]
ON THE HILL -- Haley Vows to Veto any Palestinian For Senior UN Post -- by Aaron Magid: During a hearing before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee yesterday, Haley was asked in a heated exchange by Rep. David Price (D-NC) about the administration’s decision to veto the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to the role of UN head of political mission to Libya in February. “I will tell you that Mr. Fayyad is as you say, he’s very well qualified and is a good, decent person... However, “it was not about Mr. Fayyad,” Haley explained. “It’s about the fact that the U.S. does not recognize Palestine And because that is how he was presented, we did oppose that position.” Haley then confirmed that the U.S. would not support the appointment of any Palestinian individual until they are formally recognized by the U.S. as a state. [JewishInsider]
Haley testified on Tuesday that Iran has not violated the 2015 nuclear deal. "In reference to the JCPOA, we're not seeing any violations of that," she said when speaking before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The former South Carolina Governor also warned Iran and Russia regarding the usage of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice. My hope is that the President's warning will certainly get Iran and Russia to take a second look, and I hope that it will caution Assad," Haley explained.
Senator Feinstein ‘Regrets’ Netanyahu’s Western Wall Decision -- by Aaron Magid: Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that she “regretted” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent move to scrap the Western Wall plan. “I think in this modern day of age: To say, when you have a dramatic historic artifact that has an overwhelming religious interpretation” where both men and women can’t pray together is a “mistake,” the Jewish California lawmaker noted. [JewishInsider]
STATE VISIT -- AIPAC leaders to arrive in Israel for special meeting on Kotel crisis: The AIPAC delegation is being led by the organization’s President Lillian Pinkus and CEO Howard Kohr. Israeli officials who were in touch with AIPAC said the lobby organization is concerned that the Israeli cabinet decision on Sunday to cancel an earlier decision to build an egalitarian prayer plaza at the Western Wall could undermine support for Israel in Congress. “Part of the support for Israel on Capitol Hill is based on the idea that Israel is a democracy and safeguards peoples’ freedom and rights,” one official said. “The cabinet decision sends a different message.” [JPost]
"Bibi hits a wall" by David Suissa: “I’m a Jew first and an Israeli second,” I remember [Netanyahu] saying once at a Manhattan synagogue. Will he be able to say that next year at AIPAC, or at an American synagogue? Will anyone believe him? What American Jews are hearing today is that Bibi is an Israeli politician first and a Jew second. That is the price he is paying for appeasing intolerance. What I find especially sad about this affair is that Bibi knows how to build bridges — with non-Jews... But while he built those bridges, he allowed another bridge to fray—the bridge between his government and the Jews of the world." [JewishJournal]
FRIEDMAN SPEAKS: “Weighing in on Western Wall crisis, new US envoy calls for Jewish unity” by Raphael Ahren: "Yesterday, I heard something that I thought I’d never hear before I heard a major Jewish organization say that they needed to rethink their support for the State of Israel,” Friedman said at a B’nai B’rith journalism awards ceremony in Jerusalem. “That’s something unthinkable in my lifetime, up until yesterday. We have to do better. We must do better.” Friedman admitted that in the past he has been “as guilty as anyone else of having entered the partisan divide that has unfortunately to some extent fractured the Jewish community But it has to end We have to turn the page.”
“Although organizers billed his speech as his “first policy speech since arriving in Israel,” Friedman did not address the Israeli-Palestinian peace process “We’re working very hard on a peace process,” he said. “There’s an expression in English: Those who talk don’t know, and those who know don’t talk. So here I actually know so I won’t talk. I don’t see any real purpose in jumping the gun on some sensitive discussions.” [ToI]
WATCH -- Friedman: “I will confess to you, I also read Arutz Sheva - I hope it’s okay - and I also read Israel Hayom, but I also read Haaretz. So I try to get a balanced view of what’s going on here. This is a very complicated country for such a small country.” [YouTube]
“Abbas looks to new Saudi crown prince for Mideast initiative’ by Shlomi Eldar: “The Palestinian representatives' biggest disappointment was Greenblatt, who had previously seemed to them devoid of prejudice and also efficient and determined. They had gotten the impression at the beginning of his mission that he was not easily swayed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the source said. He added, however, the combination of Greenblatt and Kushner does not bode well for the Palestinians. According to the source, things occasionally became so heated... that it seemed on the verge of a blowup. Kushner surprised the Palestinians when he hinted that there was no guarantee that Trump would insist on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations if he concluded that a diplomatic breakthrough was not a possibility Now the Palestinians have another target — Mohammed bin Salman, the man appointed Saudi crown prince June 21. The plan is to get the prince on board with their cause so he can help them right the unfair slant they see on the American team.” [Al-Monitor]
HEARD YESTERDAY - State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on reports that Trump is considering to withdraw from the peace process: “This is something that I was involved with and on the phone with over the weekend, hearing from some of the folks who had been traveling with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt as well. And that’s just false. The President has made Israeli-Palestinian peace one of his top priorities We understand and recognize that this is not going to be a one-shot deal. It’s not going to be handled in one meeting or one trip. It is no surprise also that some meetings and conversations may be a little bit more difficult than others. Some will be more challenging. The President has said himself that it is not going to be an easy process, that both sides – the Israelis and the Palestinians – will have to give a bit in order to be able to get to a peaceful arrangement, which we hope to see. But we are not pulling out in any way, shape, or form of this as being one of our priorities.”
KAFE KNESSET -- Interview with Tzipi Livni -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: As the White House is brushing off reports which indicate that President Trump might be considering backing off from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, former Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni told Kafe Knesset today she believes that the President should present his own list of core principles on the table and use it to kick off negotiations.
"This is something that Obama did not do – and it is an opportunity for President Trump. Obama hesitated. But all you need to do is present a paper with just a few sentences. Talking about where are we going. Separation from the Palestinians. Two states for two peoples. A demilitarized Palestinian state. They already agreed on it, so why not write it? Pre-1967 border lines plus swaps has already been agreed as a base for negotiations. By putting these simple principles on the table -- both leaders -- Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, would be forced to make decisions. I respect the fact that the President doesn’t want to force both sides to accept content, but he should force them to make decisions. And in the past Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to negotiate on the basis of these principles." Read the full interview and today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Who’s afraid of Trump? Not enough Republicans — at least for now” by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker: “Trump allies have encouraged major GOP donors to reach out to senators who oppose the bill. Las Vegas casino moguls Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn have both spoken by phone with [Senator Dean] Heller to prod him along, according to people familiar with the discussions.” [WashPost]
Ken Vogel: “NEWS: Sheldon Adelson, who spent $$ to elect Dean Heller, is "not happy" with Heller's AHCA opposition; called to express displeasure, I'm told.” [Twitter]
** Good Wednesday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Nestlé, the $265 billion target of an activist hedge fund just announced $21 billion in share buybacks [BusinessInsider] Making Ivanka Trump shoes: Long hours, low pay and abuse [AP] Fiverr launches a Pro tier and acquires video production marketplace Veed [TC] Steven Elghanayan’s firm secures $78M to refi Soho office building [TRD] "In its announcement on Tuesday, Pandora said that Jason Hirschhorn, a former executive at Myspace and MTV Networks who runs a popular news aggregator, had joined the board." [NYTimes]
STARTUP NATION: "Israeli spy agency launches fund to invest in tech " by John Reed:"Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, is setting up an investment fund for high-technology start-ups, in a move that highlights the symbiosis between the country’s business community and its security apparatus. The fund would be looking for new technologies, including encrypting information at high speed, personality profiling based on online behaviour, flexible robotics, miniaturised systems, and “all-terrain capabilities and silencing solutions for land, sea and air,” a government statement said."[FT]
LongRead: "Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees" by Andrew Green: "A year-long investigation by Foreign Policy that included interviews with multiple Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers... reveals an opaque system of shuffling asylum-seekers from Israel, via Rwanda or Uganda, into third countries, where they are no longer anyone’s responsibility. It begins with furtive promises by Israeli authorities of asylum and work opportunities in Rwanda and Uganda. Once the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers reach Kigali or Entebbe, where Uganda’s international airport is located, they describe a remarkably similar ordeal: They meet someone who presents himself as a government agent at the airport, bypass immigration, move to a house or hotel that quickly feels like a prison, and are eventually pressured to leave the country." [FP]
"What America Can Learn From Israel's Peripheral Communities" by Eliana Rudee: "According to Tamar Gil, director of resource development for Tor Hamidbar, an organization working to develop the Negev, the number of students who stay in the Negev after university has doubled in the past ten years. For young Israelis, moving to the periphery may be their only realistic ticket to even dream of buying a home... In the United States, young people are already beginning to move to peripheral communities in search of affordable living, but it must be followed by growth of businesses and charitable investments in order to keep them there... The development of Israel’s Negev is the perfect example of creating opportunity out of the periphery." [Forbes]
“I’m Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars” by Bari Weiss: “It may be wrong to read too much into an ugly incident at a single march, but Jews should take what happened in Chicago as a lesson that they might not be as welcome among progressives as they might imagine. That’s a warning for which to be grateful, even as it is a reminder that anti-Semitism remains as much a problem on the far-left as it is on the alt-right.” [NYTimes]
"How Donald Trump and Roy Cohn’s Ruthless Symbiosis Changed America" by Marie Brenner: “There was a party in the mid-1980s... [when] in walked Trump,” recounted [Cohn’s cousin David L. ] Marcus. “Roy dropped everyone else and fussed over him . . . Roy had that ability to focus on you. I felt that Roy was attracted to Trump, more than in a big-brotherly way. “Donald fit the pattern of the hangers-on and the disciples around Roy. He was tall and blond and . . . frankly, über-Gentile. Something about Roy’s self-hating-Jewish persona drew him to fair-haired boys. And at these parties there was a bevy of blond guys, almost midwestern, and Donald was paying homage to Roy . . . I wondered then if Roy was attracted to him.” [VanityFair]
RISING STAR: "Alex Friedman Takes Love of Politics to City Hall" by Justin Silberman: "[Alex] Friedman, who was sworn in as the first Orthodox commissioner on the Baltimore City Youth Commission June 12, said he strongly believes that turning things around for the city starts with youth. In his newly appointed position representing Democratic Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer’s 5th District, Friedman believes he is in prime position to help bring about that change. “The great thing about the Youth Commission is that our influence is as much as we want it to be,” said Friedman, who noted he loves to wear his yarmulke around City Hall... “I’ve always felt a responsibility to be involved with my community in any way possible,” said Friedman, who also interns for House Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) on Capitol Hill. “I have to give a lot of credit to my parents for instilling that in me.”
"Friedman’s mother, Chaya, a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge, cites her husband, Howard, as one of their son’s biggest influences. Howard Friedman was president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) from 2006 to 2009, making him the first Orthodox president of the pro-Israel lobby group... Chaya recalls that Friedman was first bitten by the political bug when, at the age of 5, he memorized the name of every president and rattled off facts on each one. After each new election, he would get a book containing the names and background information of all 535 members Congress members." [JewishTimes]
"Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, Who Made Jewish Prayer Books Clear to All, Dies at 73" by Joseph Berger: "Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, who took a small wedding-invitation print shop and turned it into ArtScroll Mesorah, the leading publisher of prayer books and volumes of Torah and Talmud in the expanding Orthodox Jewish world, books notable for their easily readable typography, instructions and translations, died on Saturday in Brooklyn. He was 73... “ArtScroll made it possible for anyone to study Talmud on his or her own,” said Samuel C. Heilman, who specializes in Jewish studies as a distinguished professor of sociology at the City University of New York. The elegant ArtScroll siddur, or prayer book, used for daily Sabbath and holiday prayers is so sought after that more than a million copies have been printed. It is used even by some synagogues in the more liberal Conservative Jewish movement..." [NYTimes]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC -- Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted the annual Jewish Heritage celebration at Gracie Mansion. De Blasio said that during a recent lunch with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in New York, “I reminded him of the fact that my Jewish community is larger than his Jewish community in Jerusalem. And my community is growing, and I am proud of that fact. 1.2 million Jewish New Yorkers. This is the center of the Jewish universe in so many ways.” At the event, the mayor proclaimed June 27th as the “Joe Potasnik Day” in honor of Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis. Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan also addressed the crowd. “It’s very easy to be Jewish, it’s very easy to be pro-Israel in New York,” said Dayan. [JewishInsider]
SPOTTED: Assemblymembers David Weprin and Jeff Dinowitz; Councilmembers David Greenfield, Andrew Cohen and Chaim Deutsch; Michael Miller, Phil Goldfeder, David Pollock, Sol Werdiger, Malcolm Hoenlein, Galit Peleg, Avi Fink, Pinny Ringel, Captain Richard Taylor, Charles Temel, Rabbi Gideon Shloush, Stephanie Garry, Ariel Tirosh, Melissa Jane (MJ) Kronfeld, Fred Kreizman, Duvi Honig, Ezra Friedlander, Meir Laufer, Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Kalman Yeger, Yidel Perlstein, Eric post, Alicia Post, George Artz, Jason Koppel, Tali Alter, Jeff Leb, Yeruchim Silber, Josh Mehlman, Herbert Block, Inna Vernikov, Joel Lefkowitz, and Joel Eisdorfer.
BIRTHDAYS: Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, a Fortune 50 company that includes NBC Universal, Brian L. Roberts turns 58... Personal outside attorney for President Donald Trump, Marc Kasowitz turns 65... Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award winning actor, movie director, composer and comedian, Mel Brooks (born Melvin James Kaminsky) turns 91... Former United States Senator from Michigan (1979-2015), including 8 years as Chairman of Armed Services, now on the faculty at Wayne State University Law School, Carl Levin turns 83... Former member of Congress for 16 years and now CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, she is also a trustee of both the Aspen Institute and USC, Jane Harman turns 72... Political consultant, community organizer and author, husband of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Robert Creamer turns 70... Novelist, journalist, conservative commentator and senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, Mark Helprin turns 70... Documentary producer and director and television editor for broadcast and cable production companies, James Ruxin turns 69... Member of the California State Senate (2012-2016), following two terms in the State Assembly (2008-2012), previously an administrator and professor at San Diego State University, Martin Jeffrey "Marty" Block turns 67... Controversial Israeli journalist and author, her writing is largely sympathetic to the Palestinian point of view, Haaretz's Amira Hass turns 61... Rabbi of the Har Bracha community in the Shomron and Rosh Yeshiva of the hesder yeshiva there, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed turns 56... Principal of GPS Investment Partners, chairman of Chiron Investment Management, former president of Apollo Global Management, Marc Spilkerturns 53... Actress and singer, Jessica Hecht turns 52... Member of Knesset since 2013 as a member of the Labor Party / Zionist Union, Michal Biranturns 39... Social secretary for the Israeli Embassy in DC, Molly Rosen... Saralee Rosen... Mark Winkler... Mark Ziven... Toltzy Kornbluh...
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