Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: March 9, 2018

Haim Saban & Jared Kushner had more to discuss than Mideast peace | Adelson to sell Sands Bethlehem | Dan Koh profile | Shabbat at SXSW

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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, speaks with Haim Saban, about the Trump administration's approach to the Middle East region at the Saban Forum in Washington, U.S., December 3, 2017.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Haim Saban, December 3, 2017.Credit: \ JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN/ REUTERS
JI Staff

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MEDIA WATCH: "Jared Kushner Sought To Sell Newspaper To Trump’s Political Enemies" by Charlie Warzel: "Just days before heading to a West Wing job, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was secretly engaged in talks to sell his struggling news organization, the New York Observer, to Clinton megadonor and Univision chair Haim Saban and Hillary Clinton ally David Brock — a progressive media figure with aspirations to turn the news outlet into “the Breitbart of the left.” ... A source familiar with the matter said that Kushner did not initiate the talks and largely recused himself after an initial discussion, though he did not have any apparent reservations about selling to his father-in-law’s sworn enemies."

"Ken Kurson, then editor-in-chief of the Observer, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he and [Kushner's brother-in-law Joseph] Meyer spoke with Saban on the phone that winter. According to one source, Brock and Saban’s planned editorial direction for the site was made clear in the discussions... Saban, the source noted, was interested in having a presence in Washington... The talks fell apart over money." [BuzzFeed]

PODCAST PLAYBACK -- "Is the Bibi era over? A conversation with Naftali Bennett, the brash right-winger who wants to succeed Benjamin Netanyahu" by Susan Glasser: “After the era of Netanyahu, I intend to be the prime minister of Israel,” said Bennett on The Global Politico podcast... "I do not intend to be a rival of Netanyahu. I think he’s doing a fair job. We’ve had our disagreements, etc., but I think as a prime minister, he’s certainly doing a fair job. So I stand behind him. But if he steps down, I absolutely intend to contend and become the next prime minister... I think we would need a big bang in the right side, sort of a unification of many parties, to be one central front... I think that would be a healthier structure for Israel." [Politico

RECAPPING BIBI'S U.S. VISIT -- "Netanyahu’s Bilingual U.S. Tour: Triumphal and Defensive" by David Halbfinger: "Perhaps the clearest indicator of the dual audiences and agendas of this trip were the differences between Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks in English and Hebrew. Addressing American audiences in English, Mr. Netanyahu beat the drum, steadily and loudly, for confrontation with Iran... He whittled his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to a blunt end... And in English, Mr. Netanyahu trumpeted Israel’s and, by implication, his achievements... Speaking to the Israeli news media in Hebrew, by contrast, Mr. Netanyahu played the victim and continued his monthslong assault on the credibility and motives of Israeli law enforcement..." [NYTimes

-- "Netanyahu Leaves U.S. On A High Note But Troubles Await Him At Home" by Daniel Estrin: "On the plane Wednesday... before departing for New York, NPR asked Netanyahu how he thought the Israeli public perceived his U.S. trip. "They hear the things that I say, they see the reception that I receive, and it's a very warm one," Netanyahu said. "I think people have a very strong and clear impression of Israel's position in the world, in the U.S., and my position in the U.S. and in the world." [NPR

TURTLE BAY -- "Israeli leader opens Jerusalem exhibit, rebukes opponents" by Edith Lederer: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened an exhibition on Jerusalem Thursday to reinforce Israel’s claim to the historic city as the Jewish people’s “eternal capital”... The Israeli leader noted a disclaimer sign at the entrance to the exhibition that says: “The holding of the exhibit in U.N. premises does not imply endorsement by the United Nations..." Netanyahu responded: “Of course it doesn’t represent the United Nations. It represents the truth, and we’ll continue to tell the truth and speak the truth everywhere, including the United Nations.”

"Netanyahu met with U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley before viewing the exhibition and praised her strong support for Israel at the U.N., saying: “We call her Hurricane Haley.” [AP; Video

"Netanyahu wants to transfer part of UNRWA funding to Jordan" by Barak Ravid: "[Netanyahu] suggests that some of the money be transferred directly to the Jordanian government, and has raised the idea with UN secretary general Antonio Guterres... Netanyahu met today in New York with the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and discussed the possibility of further cutting U.S. funding to UNRWA." [Axios]

Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt writes “Does Hamas have the courage to admit failure? In response to the burgeoning humanitarian situation in Gaza, key countries and stakeholders are preparing to act: There was a meeting in Cairo on Thursday, and there will be a brainstorming session at the White House next week to find real solutions to the problems that Hamas has caused Hamas’s utter failure to fulfill any of the most basic functions of governance has brought Gaza to the brink of collapse, which has necessitated the response of the international community.” [WashPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer addressed Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin at Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's World Values Network annual gala at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan: "I want to thank Secretary Mnuchin for his tremendous friendship and support for Israel. You know, a lot of people see that in the big things that are happening within the administration, and there are many of those, but we see it every day, and we thank you. Now that you are done with the tax cuts and now you have got the tariffs and everything out of the way, now we can actually start and strengthen the U.S.-Israel economic relationship and bring it to unprecedented heights." 

Dermer added: 'I think that it is fair to say that in 14 months of the current administration, that there has been no previous administration that has shown Israel greater support." 

Mnuchin after receiving the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson Award: "There is no better partner of the U.S. than the State of Israel. This President is the greatest friend to the State of Israel... The President is not only committed to making sure that Israel is safe, but that its neighbors and the rest of the world is safe from ballistic missiles and from Iran exporting terrorism throughout the region."

Mnuchin also shared the news about Trump accepting offer to meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un: "And as the President recently tweeted -- and those of you who know, including Sean [Spicer (who was also honored at the event)], how much he loves his Twitter account -- we will not take off these sanctions until we achieve our goals to make sure that the world is protected." [Video

The highlight of the evening was the Champion of Israel and LGBTQ Rights Award presented to Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner: At the beginning of her remarks, Jenner struggled to hold back her tears. "I have had been touched by the Jewish community on a few occasions throughout my life that has had a really big impact on me and the person I am today," she said, as she mentioned her father surviving WWII and witnessing the Munich terrorist attack on Israeli athletes. “For the entire Middle East and the rest of the world, Israel is a beacon of hope," Jenner added... "Israel is a long-standing refuge for the LGBT people." [Video

After Ambassador Dermer concluded his remarks, he called Jenner to the stage and said: "I do not know if to win an Olympic gold medal you have to have courage... But there's a different type of courage, and I think what you have done tonight is, you have shown that you are a person of remarkable courage in standing up to all the haters, and all the people who tried to convince you not to come tonight. You stood up for the truth, and you stood up for Israel." [Pic

"Jake Tapper Chastises Israel PM Netanyahu For Claiming No Disagreements With Trump: ‘Charlottesville?’" by Aidan McLaughlin: "Netanyahu said he has fewer disagreements with Trump than he did with Obama — adding that he actually hasn’t encountered a single disagreement with the current president. And Netanyahu’s claim struck CNN anchor Jake Tapper as somewhat curious, given the controversy surrounding Trump’s claims defending neo-Nazis that rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia over the summer: "How about on the “very fine people” marching in Charlottesville? No disagreement there, @netanyahu?"" [Mediaite]

“Friedman: Trump backs ADL's war on anti-Semitism” by Yoni Kempinski: “The ADL has evolved to keep pace with anti-Semitic and racist forces of a new generation,” said Friedman. “We should note that the Trump administration and myself, personally, support you 100% in your efforts to combat racism and anti-Semitism in the United States and everywhere in the world." [IsraelNationalNews]

"This Anti-Semitic Term Was Casually Used At The White House 3 Times This Week" by Nina Golgowski and Luke O’Brien: "The term “globalist” has been used at the White House at least three times this week in reference to an outgoing Jewish Trump administration official, raising some eyebrows because the word is increasingly used in xenophobic and anti-Semitic contexts... The third instance came during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, when Trump lauded Cohn as “a globalist,” while adding, “but I still like him.” “He’s been terrific,” Trump said. “He may be a globalist, but I still like him. He’s seriously globalist, there’s no question, but you know what, in his own way he’s also a nationalist because he loves our country.”" [HuffPost]

2018 WATCH -- "GOP Candidate Stacey Dash on MSNBC: ‘I’m Not Here to Judge’ Neo-Nazis" by Matt Wilstein: "Ari Melber opened his interview with recently announced California congressional candidate Stacey Dash by playing a clip of her performance in 1995’s Clueless... Then, Melber brought up President Donald Trump’s comments after last summer’s events in Charlottesville. Does Dash think he was right to say there was “blame on both sides” for the violence? “I think he’s absolutely right,” she said... Asked if she really believes there were really “good people” marching with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, Dash told Melber, “I’m not here to judge. The only one who can judge is God. Do I know every person in the neo-Nazi party, if they have a good heart or not? No, I don’t."" [DailyBeast]

"Danny Davis now says he condemns Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semitic remarks" by Diana Stancy Correll: “So let me be clear: I reject, condemn and oppose Minister Farrakhan’s views and remarks regarding the Jewish people and the Jewish religion,” [Davis said on Thursday]. “Those who have attempted to defame me either do not know me or my lifetime record or are deceitfully and deceptively attempting to use this as an opportunity to foment division and hatred between the African-American and Jewish communities.” [WashExaminer

HOURS EARLIER -- INBOX: Jewish Dems Withhold Support from Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) Over Farrakhan Remarks: "JDCA will not support anyone, including a member of Congress, who condones a person spewing such hatred," The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) said in a statement, "We hope that Rep. Davis will agree with us, and rethink his praise for Farrakhan, especially given the congressman’s own good record of speaking out against anti-Semitism.”

2020 WATCH -- "As Democrats shift left on Palestine, 2020 contender Kamala Harris gives off-the-record address to AIPAC" by Zaid Jilani: "Harris, widely considered a 2020 presidential contender, spoke at a Monday session called “A Conversation with Senator Kamala Harris,” which was not listed on the conference’s program or website... An AIPAC official later told The Intercept that the event with Harris was a breakout session for students, and that those sessions are typically off the record. Tyrone Gayle, Harris’s press secretary, did not provide a transcript of the senator’s remarks but said that the California senator emphasized the need for U.S.-Israel ties." [TheIntercept]

RISING STAR: "Koh, What a Life" by Malcolm Burnley: "The grandson and great-grandson of immigrants from Korea and Lebanon, Dan Arrigg Koh in many ways is the fulfillment of the American dream. Growing up, he watched his father rise from dermatology professor at Boston University to assistant secretary for health under President Barack Obama; he watched his mother, Claudia Arrigg, instill a strong moral compass in her children while managing to run a renowned ophthalmology practice in the Merrimack Valley. Koh himself graduated from Phillips Academy before earning degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He interned with then-Senator Ted Kennedy, because of course he did, and then worked as chief of staff for notorious diva Arianna Huffington in New York at the Huffington Post. Then, at the ripe old age of 29, Koh took a job as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s chief of staff... The coming months, however, are going to test how long he can keep it up. Koh’s early money and endorsements failed to scare off other challengers, teeing up a 13-way street fight for the rare open congressional seat." [BostonMag]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, joins Jonathon Triest of Ludlow Ventures to discuss his background, as well as new innovations and technology driving a resurgence of Detroit [YouTube]  WeWork is on an acquisition spree — and they’re all over the board [Recode]  How Israeli entrepreneur Orit Hashay built a big data-powered bra empire [TheNextWeb Uber has hired a top Amazon voice exec, Assaf Ronen, as head of product as Daniel Graf departs [Recode] Sheldon Adelson to sell Sands Bethlehem for $1.3B [HotelBiz]  Isaac Kassirer closes on $116M UWS portfolio buy [RealDeal]

STARTUP NATION -- "Phantom Auto pioneers remote driving technology" by Emma Hall: "The startup, based in Mountain View, California, has developed technology that incorporates a remote driver through the cellular network, allowing control of the car from virtually anywhere..." "We see Phantom Auto as one of these types of technologies that can accelerate the deployment by filling those gaps with their teleoperations," Michael Granoff told Israel's Channel 2. [CNETVideo]

TALK OF OUR NATION: "Israeli trauma experts help counselors in Parkland, Florida" by Jake Tapper: "Helping avoid those triggers is why [Yotam] Dagan and another psychologist recently flew from Tel Aviv to London to Miami to meet with teachers, counselors, first responders, clergy and others to offer practical lessons learned from Israel's vast experience with terrorism and war. "It's not as if Israel knows anything America doesn't," Dagan's colleague on this trip, psychologist Alan Cohen, told me. "But we have a lot more practical experience in putting them into a coherent program."" [CNN]

HAPPENING TONIGHT -- "Deep in the heart of Texas, have a Jewish connection at SXSW" by Tracy Frydberg: "South by Southwest begins this Friday and goes through March 18. The festival celebrates the world’s greatest new talent and innovation by blending technology, film, music, gaming and comedy tracks into one huge happening... All Jews in town for SXSW are invited to a community #openShabbatdinner at the Hilton Austin hosted by Chabad’s Tech Tribe initiative... The event’s hosts, Rabbi Mordechai and Chana Lightstone, created the now-popular Friday night gathering in 2011... “People come because they know that we’re the only place to offer the marriage of transcendent tradition and the ground-breaking innovation that drives society forward,” said Lightstone..." [ToI]

SPOTLIGHT -- "NY Times’ Bari Weiss Warns ‘Social Justice Warriors’ Are Taking Over College Campuses" by Jon Levine: “Students are being coddled and professors are taking on the role of babysitters. University used to be, and are in a democracy, a sacred place in the pursuit of truth,” she said during an interview on “Morning Joe” Thursday. “They’re in the truth pursuit business, and increasingly it seems, they’re in the business of turning out social justice warriors.” Weiss went on “Morning Joe” to defend her most recent column, “We’re All Fascists Now.” The piece, which warned of the growing danger to free speech on college campuses and elsewhere, was swiftly denounced on Twitter." [TheWrap; Video]

"The Sliming of Bari Weiss" by David French: "Bari is doing exactly what she did [at Columbia] in 2004 and 2005. She perceived intolerance and called it out. She decried an unwillingness to debate and a university that seemed closed off to dissenting ideas. It is not censorship to critique censorship... And it’s most definitely not “racism” to raise credible concerns about anti-Semitism. Days after I sent the FIRE letter, I went to campus to speak to a mainly Jewish gathering of concerned students, parents, and members of the community. My purpose was simple: to correct the claims that students like Bari were the real threat to discourse and to defend their proper role in campus debate. It was the first (and so far only) time that I had to walk through a metal detector to give my lecture... She was brave to take her stand those many years ago, and one thing I know after reading her work and watching the backlash — she remains brave today." [NationalReview]

HOLLYWOOD: "Holy Land Goes Hollywood: Gal Gadot, ‘Fauda’ Put Israel in Spotlight" by Itay Hod: “It’s nice for Israel to be enjoying a moment of something these days, isn’t it?” Adam Berkowitz, the co-head of television at Creative Artists Agency, told TheWrap... Berkowitz... also serves as Israel’s unofficial ambassador to Hollywood, putting together deals to adapt Israeli shows to the U.S. market. His most recent acquisition, “Fauda” ... was bought by Netflix in 2016 and has quickly garnered a fierce following around the world... It’s hard to say how many people have actually seen “Fauda.” ... But the phenomenon has fans among both Israelis and Palestinians, who aren’t known for agreeing. It’s already made its star and creator, Lior Raz, one of the hottest tickets in Hollywood." [TheWrap]

SPORTS BLINK: "There were miracles aplenty for Team Israel in 'Heading Home' documentary" by Lauren Comitor: "The Ironbound Films documentary, which chronicles the journey of Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, will be screened three times during the Chicago Jewish Film Festival, which runs through March 18. The idea for the film came in 2015 — filmmakers Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger began interviewing Jewish baseball players about their experiences and the stereotypes that come along with that, but they found there wasn’t much of a narrative..." [TheAthletic]

PIC OF THE DAY -- U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley posted a picture with Israeli actress Noa Tishby at an event marking International Women's Day at the UN in New York City [InstagramPic]

REMEMBERING: "He shot down an enemy and was marked for assassination. His life changed in Miami" by Howard Cohen: "Gideon Lichtman spent more than 30 years teaching under an assumed name after Israel’s president warned he could well be a target for assassination. Lichtman, who died Wednesday at 94, was the first fighter pilot in the young Israeli air force to shoot down an enemy fighter in aerial combat... [Ezer] Weizman, Lichtman’s roommate in 1948, told his pal, “Your life is in danger.” The Israeli leader’s suggested pseudonym: Rimon..." [MiamiHerald

DESSERT: "Are These Foods Kosher for Passover? The Answer Is More Complicated Than You Think" by Mahita Gajanan: "Millions of Jewish families all over the globe are prepping for Passover — an eight-day religious festival that, once a year, turns matzo into one of the most popular commodities at certain grocery stores." [TimeMag]

"Hot dog! Loeser’s deserves a ‘place’ in history" by Zak Kostro: "Fredy Loeser is a man of few words, and a quietly wicked sense of humor. One could cut the guy some slack for showing a trace of fatigue, but he doesn’t. He’s been serving those knishes, dogs and pickles — plus homemade soups, from hearty split pea to classic matzo ball and other kosher delicacies to the Kingsbridge and Riverdale communities for nearly six decades. And he still works 10 hours a day, six days a week, showing little sign of slowing down." [RiverdalePress]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS -- FRIDAY: Mayor of North York, Ontario (1973-1997), then Mayor of Toronto (1998-2003), founder of the Bad Boy Furniture chain, Mel Lastman turns 85... Billionaire and co-founder of Sunbeam Television (owner of multiple TV stations) and developer of a 400 acre business park in Broward County, Florida, Edmund Ansin turns 82... Former professor of sociology and Jewish studies at the University of Toronto, best known for his work on German Jewry, Y. Michal Bodemann turns 74... Sag Harbor-based painter, sculptor and printmaker, Eric Fischl turns 70... Radio and television journalist and author who hosts Public Radio International's popular program, Science Friday, Ira Flatow turns 69... Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate, political journalist and commentator, former co-host of CNN's Crossfire, editor at large for The New Republic, Michael Kinsley turns 67... Moroccan-born member of Knesset (since 1998) now representing the Zionist Union party, previously Minister of Defense (2006-2007) and leader of the Labor Party, Amir Peretz turns 66... President and CEO of NYC's flagship public TV station WNET, previously the president of NBC News and the executive producer for Dateline NBC, Neal Shapiro turns 60... CEO of NYC-based Gotham Media, holds an MA in Russian history from the London School of Economics and a JD from Harvard Law, previously an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News Nightline, Gordon Platt turns 56... Director of Research at Facebook, he was previously VP and Chief Strategy Officer at Intel Corporation, David I. Ginsberg turns 43... Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy US Trade Representative, Matthew Vogel turns 40... CEO of the Trevor Project, he was a management consultant in the NYC office of McKinsey & Company and a reporter for the Washington Post, Amit Paley turns 36... Member of the City Council of the Municipality of Jerusalem from the Hitorerut B’Yerushalayim party, Hanan Rubin turns 36... Israeli-born singer, now one-half of the world music duo Shlomit & RebbeSoul, Shlomit Levi turns 35... Communications director for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper since 2-2017, previously at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Alissa "Sadie" Weiner turns 31... Founding partner of Mothership Strategies, a DC-based firm using digital strategies for organizational fundraising and activism, previously at the DCCC, Jacob "Jake" Austin Lipsett turns 25... Private equity and venture capital investor, Howie Fialkov... Stephen Lent...

SATURDAY: Long Beach, California general surgeon, Leonard M. Lovitch, MD turns 74... Record producer, former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Records, Rick Rubin turns 55... Peabody Award-winning financial journalist and market news analyst for CNBC and one of the co-hosts of its morning show "Squawk on the Street," David Faber turns 54... CEO of DC-based International Lifeline Fund, an NGO focused on poor countries, previously President of both the Genesis Prize Foundation (2013-2015) and Hillel (2006-2013), Wayne L. Firestone turns 54... Stage, screen and television actor, the son of novelist Norman Mailer, Stephen Mailer turns 52... Investigative reporter for The New York Times stationed in the London bureau, Danny Hakim turns 47... Senior Policy Advisor to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Carrie Filipetti... News editor of Mishpacha Magazine, Binyamin Rose... Author and publisher of the Phoenix Scottsdale Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook, Michael A. Ross... Chief Transformation Officer at Gaithersburg, MD-based BroadSoft, previously a consultant to Israeli start-up and established companies and government officials, Jeffrey Kahn...

SUNDAY: Professor emeritus at Princeton University whose research focused upon the Cairo Geniza and Jewish life in Muslim countries, Mark R. Cohen turns 75... Composer and conductor specializing in movie scores, since 1984 he has composed the music for nearly 100 feature films, David Louis Newman turns 64... Singer-songwriter who has also worked in film, television, voice-over work and children's recordings, also promotes an eponymous line of eyeglasses, Lisa Loeb turns 50... Israeli singer-songwriter and pianist who has twice been recognized as Israel's Singer of the Year, Keren Peles turns 39... VP for investor relations and communications at Ridgewood Energy, an energy-focused private equity firm, Samuel J. Lissner turns 32... Graduate of Yale Law School, clerked for Judge Cabranes on the 2nd Circuit, co-founder of Headliner Labs, Dana Stern Gibber... President of Jerusalem Capital Studios, a graduate of Harvard Business School, Michal Grayevsky... Graduate of NYU (B.A., cum laude), University of Illinois (M.S. in journalism) and University of North Carolina (Ph.D.), Sharon Polansky... Hermine Warren... Glenda Kresh...