Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: May 17, 2018

Trump peace plan relies on Arab leaders pushing the Palestinians, Dennis Ross says | How MBS made his billions | WeWork buys MissionU

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Dennis Ross speaks with Aluf Benn at the first Israel Conference on Democracy, Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015.
Dennis Ross speaks with Aluf Benn at the first Israel Conference on Democracy, Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015.Credit: David Bachar

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REPORT -- NPR's Daniel Estrin tweets"A person who attended an off-record briefing last week with Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt tells NPR that Jason Greenblatt said the US Israeli-Palestinian peace plan has been completed, and that it deals with all the core issues of the conflict plus regional issues. In the briefing, according to the person who attended, Greenblatt called Netanyahu “exceptional” and “creative," and that it was hard to get creative ideas out of Palestinian leader Abbas but that "it's not our job to get him back to the table" of the peace process."

"Mideast Power Plays Have Left the Palestinians Behind" by Ethan Bronner: "Middle East experts, including Dennis Ross of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Aaron David Miller of the Wilson Center, say Kushner has been in touch in the course of designing his proposal and that he seems dead serious about presenting it in the coming months. “It’s apparently a 30-page plan, but I can’t tell if they understand the Palestinian side of the story,” Miller says... Trump’s recent moves may increase his ability to get Netanyahu to endorse a peace plan, according to Ross. “They have enormous leverage over Bibi now,” says Ross... “It will be very hard for him to say no to any plan they present.”

"At the same time, the Trump administration has made clear it wants the Saudis and other Arab states to play a significant role in any agreement. In particular, Ross says, the hope is that the Arab leaders will embrace what the Palestinians themselves find difficult to accept: perhaps reduced land swaps, no right of return for Palestinians to lands inside Israel, and far more limited sharing of Jerusalem. “If they’re sustained,” Ross says, referring to the violent confrontations, “it may make the issue more prominent but make the Arabs less willing to be outside the Palestinian consensus. The key is that when the Americans put the plan on the table, the Arab leaders must be able to say there are elements here that are credible, and the Palestinians have to step up.” [Businessweek]

NYTimes The Daily Podcast, with over 4 million listeners -- "A Child of Gaza Becomes a Political Symbol" by Michael Barbaro: "Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old Palestinian girl, inhaled tear gas during the protests at the Gaza border on Monday and died hours later. The tragedy became a focal point of outrage for critics of Israel’s use of force, while the Israeli military and its supporters questioned the narrative around her death as a political ploy by Hamas." [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH -- "When the Haim Saban-owned media criticizes Israel, it’s time for a Haim Saban-funded PR campaign to save the day" by Liel Leibovitz: "The billionaire and philanthropist owns a controlling stake in the humor website The Onion. Yesterday, The Onion ran a piece entitled “IDF soldier recounts harrowing, heroic war story of killing 8-month-old child.” ... How to respond to such counterfactual, anti-Semitic drivel masquerading as satire? How to counter a publication massively popular with American millennials sounding every bit like Hamas propaganda? Just ask Haim Saban, of course: The billionaire’s other recent investment was the Campus Maccabees, a group of real-life teenage Power Rangers that he founded with his fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson and that was designed to fight anti-Israel bias in academia. Saban eventually bowed out of the group, but the recent Onion piece is a reminder that Israel still has a hasbara problem, as Haim Saban had wisely intuited." [TabletMag]

"Falling for Hamas’s Split-Screen Fallacy" by Matti Friedman: "A central organizer, the Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar, exhorted participants on camera in Arabic to “tear out the hearts” of Israelis. But on Monday the enterprise was rebranded as a protest against the embassy opening... The split screen, and the idea that people were dying in Gaza because of Donald Trump, was what Hamas was looking for. The press coverage on Monday was a major Hamas success in a war whose battlefield isn’t really Gaza, but the brains of foreign audiences." [NYTimes

Thane Rosenbaum: "Disproportion may infuriate political leaders like Bernie Sanders and Theresa May, but Hamas plays this numbers game as if devised by legendary military strategist Sun Tzu's "The Art of War... These were not peaceful gatherings, and Americans, at least, should know better than to judge them as if they were. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a protest movement that rejected violence and never glorified death. And yet, some headlines are treating Gaza like a Middle Eastern Selma." [CNN]

Bret Stephens writes... "Gaza’s Miseries Have Palestinian Authors: The mystery of Middle East politics is why Palestinians have so long been exempted from... ordinary moral judgments. How do so many so-called progressives now find themselves in objective sympathy with the murderers, misogynists and homophobes of Hamas? Why don’t they note that, by Hamas’s own admission, some 50 of the 62 protesters killed on Monday were members of Hamas? Why do they begrudge Israel the right to defend itself behind the very borders they’ve been clamoring for years for Israelis to get behind? Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?" [NYTimes

"The Democrats’ Shameful Collective Silence on Gaza" by Dean Obeidallah: "It’s surprising that in 2018 the leading Democrats, who are progressive on issue after issue, are silent on Gaza. No tweets from Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, or Kamala Harris. At least Warren did join in a letter along with 13 other Democratic senators calling on the Trump administration to “do more to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.”... Let’s be clear: Hamas is a terrorist group. Period... But Trump and Netanyahu blaming Hamas exclusively for the human suffering in Gaza may play well on Fox & Friends but not with the facts." [DailyBeast]

Peter Beinart writes... "Trump Has Freed Progressive Democratic Senators To Finally Criticize Israel: You can see the outlines of the Israel debate in the 2020 Democratic primary. It’s not surprising that Sanders and Warren signed the letter but Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand did not... More than any other national Democrat, Sanders is testing the limits of conventional Beltway discourse on Israel. Warren is moving in that direction too. Booker, Harris and Gillibrand are not. But, significantly, they’re not defending Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza. They’re staying silent." [Forward

INBOX -- Responding to criticism about the postponement of a solidarity trip to Israel, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Press Secretary Dani Lever emails us: “Governor Cuomo wants to expand the scope of the visit to show more Israeli communities his support. To accomplish that we needed more time. New York stands with Israel and Governor Cuomo looks forward to visiting in the coming weeks.”

EMBASSY TREND: "Why some Latin American countries are rushing to open Jerusalem embassies, too" by Rick Noack: "Paraguay, Honduras and Guatemala all have large evangelical Christian populations and long-standing ties to Israel. But it's likely that their decisions are intended to get the attention of — and help from — the United States. “The embassy move is really about trying to curry favor with the U.S.,” said Eric Olson, the deputy director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program, referring to all three countries. “It’s an opportunity for them to make their cases on foreign assistance and other issues.” [WashPost]

Noah Feldman writes... "This Isn’t Bigotry. It’s a Religious Disagreement: Color me genuinely confused by the outcry against Texas televangelist Robert Jeffress, who spoke Monday at the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem... I can’t, and shouldn’t, feel offended by someone telling me that I won’t be saved because I don’t have the right religious beliefs. Most religions in the monotheistic tradition think they are right and others are wrong. That’s normal. It isn’t a reason to consider those who hold other beliefs to be bigots." [BloombergView

IRAN DEAL: "E.U. Official Takes Donald Trump to Task: ‘With Friends Like That’" by Megan Specia: “With friends like that, who needs enemies.” That was how Donald Tusk, one of the European Union’s top officials, took President Trump to task on Wednesday, offering the latest look at how the Continent’s leaders are trying to come to terms with the United States’ shifting policy on issues like the Iran nuclear deal... A day earlier, Mr. Tusk wrote an open letter to the members of the European Council, calling for the body to “reflect on recent global developments.” He noted in particular “President Trump’s announcements on Iran and trade as well as the latest, dramatic events in Gaza.” [NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Deputy Minister Michael Oren at an event hosted by the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus in Jerusalem regarding Trump’s Jerusalem move and Iran deal exit: “Everybody in the world is taking note. And if you think for a second that little guy with the strange haircut in North Korea isn't taking notes of this, you are mistaken. Believe me, he’s taking notes. I see the Iranians already blinking not just because Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal, but blinking because he moved the embassy to Jerusalem.” [Video]

NYTIMES CORRECTIONS DEPT: "An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the salary of Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, when compared with those of leaders of other Washington think tanks. Mr. Dubowitz’s $560,221 compensation in 2016 was determined by the foundation’s board of directors and is commensurate with the average annual salary of other think tank leaders in Washington in recent years. It is not nearly twice as much as the salaries of his counterparts. The article also inaccurately linked the foundation to Israel’s Likud party. While the think tank does align with some of Likud’s positions, it is not directly involved with the party. The article also referred imprecisely to the funding of conferences held by the foundation and the Hudson Institute. While Elliott Broidy provided $2.7 million in funds for consulting, marketing and other services, the foundation says it received only $360,000 from Mr. Broidy for one conference." [NYTimes

Mark Dubowitz tweets"NY Times issues corrections to profile story on me. Corrects FOUR material facts. Also, corrected my birthplace after original story posted. Appreciate efforts of senior editors to correct. Many other misleading elements remain... And just for the record, I own no tailored suits, French or otherwise, unless having to shorten my pants every time you buy them because l am short counts as bespoke." 

SPOTLIGHT: "Mohammed bin Salman’s Guide to Getting Rich" by Justin Scheck and Bradley Hope: "It was around 2000 when the teenage prince had what he would years later call a shocking realization: His father wasn’t rich. Salman subsisted on money from his brother, then-King Fahd, Prince Mohammed has told people... The concerned prince, seeking more financial independence, scraped together about $100,000 to invest in Saudi stocks, he has said. Prince Mohammed kept trading through college and law school. Through the early 2010s, as his father moved up the royal ranks, he was appointed to a series of government positions. During that time Prince Mohammed made billions of Saudi riyals—hundreds of millions of dollars—on the Saudi stock market... Prince Mohammed also branched into business. Saudi corporate records as of 2017 show he owns stakes in at least five real-estate development companies, as well as a recycling firm." [WSJ

THE DAILY KUSHNER -- "‘Infuriated’ Jared Kushner Lost His Cool When Russians Didn’t Deliver Hillary Dirt" by Adam Rawnsley: "[Rob] Goldstone... testified that Kushner became visibly angry when [Natalia] Veselnitskaya delivered a lengthy diatribe about U.S. sanctions on Russia and their impact on adoptions—instead of handing over dirt on Clinton. “After a few minutes of this labored presentation, Jared Kushner, who is sitting next to me, appeared somewhat agitated by this and said, I really have no idea what you're talking about. Could you please focus a bit more and maybe just start again?” Goldstone recalled of the meeting according to hearing transcripts released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday." [DailyBeast]  Witnesses disagree on Kushner timing at Trump Tower meeting [CNN]

TOP TALKER -- "Inside Trump’s failed efforts to meet Putin in 2013" by Philip Rucker: "As soon as the deal was struck for Miss Universe to take place in Russia, pageant president Paula Shugart told Rob Goldstone, a publicist and fixer who helped bring the pageant to Russia, “Oh, God, he’s going to want to meet Putin,” according to Goldstone’s testimony... “It was the gorilla in the room that had to be addressed, but there seemed to be no answer to address it,” Goldstone told the committee. Negotiations for a face-to-face meeting began with a written request from Trump Tower to the Kremlin, included a personal call with Putin’s top spokesman... Trump and Putin did not end up meeting because, according to Goldstone, Putin was too busy receiving the new king of Holland." [WashPost]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT... "Behind the Scenes, After Another Week in the Spotlight, Michael Cohen Oscillates" by Emily Jane Fox: "Cohen... has vacillated between fuming over Avenatti’s involvement in the matter and feeling browbeaten by the barrage of headlines... In the last week, he has told friends that he is being attacked, and his family is being made to suffer, all because investigators are trying to get to the president. “I’m not going to just roll over,” he has told friends, spending hours each day with his attorneys in order to comb through documents the government has returned to them from their raids last month... As he watched the news unfold in his hotel room in Philadelphia over the weekend, he evidenced some exasperation. He has confided in friends, “I just can’t take this anymore."" [VanityFair]

DEEP DIVE: "Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen’s Financial Records" by Ronan Farrow: "The payments to Cohen that have emerged in the past week come primarily from a single document, a “suspicious-activity report” filed by First Republic Bank, where Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, L.L.C., maintained an account... By January of this year, First Republic had filed the three suspicious-activity reports about Cohen’s account... Bank compliance officers noted eight payments from a company called Columbus Nova to Cohen’s account between January and August of 2017, totalling five hundred thousand dollars. The investigators wrote that Columbus Nova’s biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, whom they described as “reputed to be a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” ... Other banks also noticed Cohen’s suspicious transactions and filed their own SARs about his activity... One, filed by City National Bank, follows money paid to Cohen by Elliott Broidy, at the time the deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee." [NewYorker

"Trump’s personal attorney solicited $1 million from government of Qatar" by Karen Deyoung, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman: "Michael Cohen... solicited a payment of at least $1 million from the government of Qatar in late 2016, in exchange for access to and advice about the then-incoming administration... The offer, which Qatar declined, came on the margins of a Dec. 12 meeting that year at Trump Tower between the Persian Gulf state’s foreign minister and Michael Flynn... Cohen did not participate in the official meetings but spoke separately to a member of the Qatari delegation, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, who at the time was head of the investments division of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority." [WashPost]

"Qatari Investor Linked to Trump Scandal Was Schmoozing With U.S. Jewish Leaders at Gala Events" by Amir Tibon: "Ahmed al-Rumaihi attended the Zionist Organization of America’s annual gala last November... At the gala... Rumaihi openly presented himself as a Qatari investor and expressed interest in meeting influential supporters and members of the pro-Trump ZOA... In January, Rumaihi attended an AIPAC gala event in Los Angeles... At the same time as Rumaihi was attending the ZOA and AIPAC events, Qatar was in the midst of a charm offensive focused on the Jewish community in the United States." [Haaretz]

"Pro-Trump Jewish Lawyer Caught Ranting About People Speaking Spanish In New York Deli" by Ari Feldman: "Aaron Schlossberg had a meltdown in a Fresh Kitchen in East Midtown Wednesday morning after hearing some of the employees speak Spanish to one another and to Spanish-speaking customers... “Your clients and your staff are speaking Spanish to staff when they should be speaking English,” the man said to the manager... Videos surfaced of Schlossberg at earlier rallies standing and yelling with pro-Trump protesters." [Forward; Gothamist]

"Preet Bharara being drafted for war on Trump" by Edward-Isaac Dovere: "Among the people who’ve reached out, the sources said, are Mike Bloomberg consigliere Howard Wolfson and independent-minded GOP consultant John Weaver, along with a host of top Democratic operatives, donors and fundraisers." [Politico]

2018 WATCH -- Democratic Rising Star In Swing District Gave $300K To Pro-BDS Groups" by Aiden Pink: "Scott Wallace, a multimillionaire philanthropist and the grandson of former vice president Henry Wallace, won the party primary in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County outside Philadelphia on Tuesday night, earning him the right to face off against first-term incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick... Along with his wife, Wallace ran the Wallace Global Fund from 2003 until he stepped down to run for Congress... In 2009, the Wallace Global Fund gave $25,000 to Code Pink, the same year that the anti-war organization formally endorsed BDS. The fund gave $25,000 in 2010 and another $25,000 in 2011 to Jewish Voice for Peace... The Wallace Global Fund... gave $5,000 in 2016 to the Arab American Association of New York, which at the time was run by the pro-BDS Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour." [Forward]

2020 WATCH -- "Garcetti taps Hollywood ties to fuel 2020 campaign" by David Siders: “The Los Angeles mayor hosted the South Carolina Democratic Party on Tuesday for a fundraiser in the city’s Hancock Park, raising about as much in a few hours as the state party collected in the entire month of March. "This is a first,” [Eric] Garcetti adviser Rick Jacobs said before the South Carolina event, held at the home of Showtime Networks Inc. President David Nevins and his wife, Andrea Blaugrund Nevins. “The mayor really wanted to do it He really thinks it’s a great opportunity to encourage donors in Los Angeles to invest, frankly, in things that aren’t often seen as sexy as a candidate.” ... Turning to an audience that included Nevins, fashion designer and actress Nicole Richie and the film studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, [Jamie] Harrison said, “Now $1 million here, you guys don’t even turn your heads, right?” [Politico]

** Good Thursday 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: Shari Redstone Moves to Defend Family’s Voting Power Over CBS [WSJ] Hedge Fund Managers Shift Billions Over Carried Interest Concern [Bloomberg]  Elliott urges Israel's Bezeq to appoint new CEO, buy back shares [Reuters]  Credit Suisse to raise $250m for Israeli health tech venture fund Nacht's aMoon [Globes]  David Einhorn Is Having a Hedge-Fund Midlife Crisis [Bloomberg]  WeWork acquires Adam Braun's MissionU to boost education ambitions [Axios

STARTUP NATION -- "Intel's Mobileye gets self-driving tech deal for 8 million cars" by Steven Scheer: "Mobileye, Intel Corp’s Israel-based autonomous driving unit, has signed a contract to supply eight million cars at a European automaker with its self-driving technologies, a company official told Reuters. The deal, one of the largest yet for Mobileye, is a sign of how carmakers and suppliers are accelerating the introduction of features that automate certain driving tasks... to generate revenue while technology to enable fully automated driving in all conditions is still years away from mass-market deployment." [Reuters]

"Steve Wynn furious at Christie’s for damaging his Picasso masterpiece" by Emily Smith: "Sources say Wynn’s 1943 Picasso self-portrait, “Le Marin,” was severely damaged while stored at the auction house, as a metal extension pole for a wall paint roller allegedly fell on the canvas, creating a “significant hole” in the masterpiece. The catastrophe uncoiled as Christie’s staff prepared to exhibit the artwork ahead of the auction. Wynn, 76, fears “Le Marin” is so badly damaged that it may be beyond repair. He also believes Christie’s may be low-balling him by valuing it at $70 million, while he insists it could have fetched more than $100 million at the May 15 auction." [PageSix

TALK OF THE TOWN -- "First Amendment comes to life at Long Reach High School" by Kate Magill: "When it came to choosing a topic for his entry in C-SPAN’s national student documentary contest, Long Reach High School sophomore Eli Kuperman thought about showing the ways the Constitution related to his life, settling on a provision that he said allows “me to be me”— freedom of speech... Eli’s entry, focusing on U.S. Supreme Court cases that paved the way for student free speech in schools, was one of 150 honored by the cable television public affairs channel, which received 2,985 middle- and high-school student contest submissions. His documentary included the landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that defined the constitutional rights of public school students... As a result of his work, Eli, 15, said he’s interested in becoming a lawyer to “defend those who can’t defend themselves.”"[BaltimoreSun

STATE-SIDE: "Gov. Scott visits Boca to spotlight $2 million for Jewish school security" by Lulu Ramadan: "Gov. Rick Scott flaunted $2 million in state funding he helped earmark for Jewish school security to a welcoming crowd in Boca Raton on Wednesday, following his official visit to Israel for the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Scott and his wife, Ann, were greeted at Torah Academy of Boca Raton by young students who held colorful welcome signs and thanked him for being a friend to Israel. Scott, a Republican who seeks to replace U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, highlighted the $2 million in his Securing Florida’s Future budget set aside to harden security at at-risk nonpublic Jewish schools. The investment is a threefold increase from the previous budget year." [PalmBeachPost]

BIRTHDAYS: President of the Philadelphia-based Honickman Foundation, owner of one of the largest Pepsi and Canada Dry bottlers in the US, Lynne Korman Honickman turns 79... News anchor for WPVI-TV (ABC Channel 6) in Philadelphia since 1977, Jim Gardner (born James Goldman) turns 70... Canadian philanthropist and the first woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia (2000-2006), Myra Freeman turns 69... Comedian, actor and television host, Bob Saget turns 62... Founder and president of ENS Resources, a DC-based consulting and lobbying firm focused on natural resources and sustainable energy, Eric Sapirstein turns 62... Host of "Marketplace Morning Report" on public radio and "Now on PBS," a public television news magazine, David Brancaccio turns 58... Author of the 2005 book "Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish" and a 2017 book about Jewish holidays, she is president of NYC's Central Synagogue, Abigail Pogrebin... and her identical twin sister, Robin Pogrebin, art and auction reporter for The New York Times, both turn 53... 

General Manager for Corporate Strategy at Microsoft, friend and classmate of President Obama at Harvard Law School, strategist, consultant, author, lawyer and former White House Fellow, Kinney Zalesne turns 52... CPA and founder of the Baltimore Hunger Project, it provides food packs for the weekend that are discretely slipped into over 400 poverty-stricken public-school children's backpacks each Friday, Lynne Berkowitz Kahn turns 49... Reporter in The Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau since 2014, covering national politics, Reid J. Epstein turns 39... Labor Party / Zionist Union member of Knesset, when elected in 2013 she became the youngest female Knesset member in Israel's history, Stav Shaffir turns 33... Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis staffer, Heather Renetzky turns 25... Founder of Most Good and digital strategy adviser to Democratic organizations and candidates, including the Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton in New York, Jenna Ruth Lowenstein turns 31... Senior political writer at GQ and Cosmopolitan Magazine, Rebecca Nelson... Robert Pollock... Randolph Koch...