Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: May 2, 2018

Did Israeli F-15s pretend to be US planes in Syria? |NYT Editorial calls for Abbas to go | The woman tasked with cleaning up the NFL

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a National Day of Prayer event at the White House, May 3, 2018.
\ LEAH MILLIS/ REUTERS

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DRIVING THE CONVO -- "Sources: Trump has all but decided to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal" by Steve Holland and Arshad Mohammed: "President Trump has all but decided to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord by May 12 but exactly how he will do so remains unclear... There is a chance Trump might choose to keep the United States in the international pact... in part because of “alliance maintenance” with France... Top aides are not seeking aggressively to talk Trump out of withdrawal because he seems intent on it, a second White House official said." [Reuters]

"Quitting Iran Deal a Bad Idea But Not End of World, Condoleezza Rice Says" by Daniel Flatley: 
"I would probably stay in it because once you’re in an agreement, you don’t want to send the signal that the United States just turns its back on agreements that are there," Rice said during an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television’s “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations.” But, she added, it “won’t be the end of the world" if President Donald Trump withdraws from the agreement... Rice echoed backers of the agreement, including Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry, in saying that the information detailed by Netanyahu wasn’t new." [Bloomberg

Washington Post editorial... "Netanyahu’s revelations aren’t enough to justify ripping up the Iran nuclear agreement: 
Mr. Trump has frequently said he does not want the United States to fight more Middle East wars. If so, it would be in his interest to look beyond Mr. Netanyahu’s video appeals before making a final decision." [WashPost]

Richard Goldberg writes... "Netanyahu’s Intelligence Bombshell Should Spell End of Iran Deal: 
The response from President Donald Trump should be no different than his response to North Korea: maximum pressure until the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure." [NationalReview]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM -- "With Three Rapid Strokes, Netanyahu Advances Agenda Against Iran" by David Halbfinger: “All these years [Netanyahu] was trigger-unhappy,” said Nahum Barnea, a respected columnist at Yediot Ahronoth... "Now, it seems that he is pushing everybody toward a more hostile environment.” ... Increasingly in recent years, Mr. Netanyahu has spoken with almost prophetic fervor about stopping Iran. Yet for all of his assertive moves this week, analysts said it remained unclear where exactly they were intended to lead. In particular, if he succeeds in scuttling the nuclear agreement with Iran, then what? ”He didn’t give us Israelis any logical scenario for what will happen after the American decision,” Barnea said... "This is something he never elaborated on. And it’s time he does it.” The heightened tension with Iran, along with the Knesset’s enactment of the lowered threshold to declaring war, came as a surprise... “Suddenly, they’re faced with a big question mark: Where are we heading?” “Maybe,” Mr. Barnea added, “he feels his war has come.” [NYTimes]

"Israel braces for Iranian military reaction" by Ben Caspit: "The intelligence assessment is that Iran will attempt a response that exacts a similar cost and mode of operation to those taken by Israel. In other words, it would attack an Israeli military target and try to take a toll on uniformed troops. If that is the case, will Israel “contain” the Iranian response and react in a measured and tempered way so that the situation doesn’t deteriorate any further? It all depends on the circumstances of the attack. Should Israel respond against Iranian targets in Syria, or should it attack Iran itself? This lies at the base of a significant debate, which has yet to be decided." [Al-Monitor]  Israel Sees Iran War Looming as Mideast Tinderbox Awaits a Spark [Bloomberg

"Israeli Army Chief Eisenkot: Stay Forceful in Syria Despite Iran" by Amos Harel: 
"Tehran seems to be debating over the nature of its promised retaliation against Israel, and even more, over its timing... One theory being advanced is that Tehran may be reluctant to respond prior to Lebanon’s parliamentary elections this coming Sunday and U.S. President Donald Trump’s expected announcement on May 12... Israeli officials also believe the Trump Administration is reconsidering its decision to remove American forces from Syria... Several people well-versed in the ongoing talks with the Trump Administration said Trump is likely to approve keeping the U.S. troops there for another six months." [Haaretz

"Israel to Russia: We sat out Western sanctions, so help us in Mideast" by Dan Williams: 
"Israel’s defense minister reminded Russia on Thursday of his government’s decision not to join Western sanctions against it, and asked that Moscow reciprocate with a more pro-Israel approach to Syria and Iran... “We value these relations with Russia,” [Avigdor] Lieberman said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant... “A lot of countries have recently expelled Russian diplomats. Israel did not join in this action,” he added." [Reuters

DEEP DIVE: "Let's Talk About This Rumor That Israeli F-15s Mimicked US Jets To Strike At Iran In Syria" by Joseph Trevithick: 
"How the jets were able to get to their targets and not prompt any significant response from Syrian air defense forces remains unclear... One unconfirmed rumor explains that the Israeli jets masked their approach by setting their Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders to emit the same type of signal associated with U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, as well as using false callsigns to help keep up the ruse. These jets routinely conduct operations in Eastern Syria in support of American forces and their local partners. The presence of Strike Eagles would not necessarily have aroused suspicions if they appeared on Syrian or Russian radars while over Eastern Syria. Israel’s aircraft then supposedly flew through Jordan, Iraq, and into Eastern Syria before blitzing toward their targets..." [TheDrive]

Israel Reportedly Seeks to Renegotiate Refugee Deal With UN: 
"Israel is looking into renewing negotiations with the UN's refugee agency over a deal to find a solution for the African asylum seekers living in the country... Channel 10 reported that the UN agency reached out to Israel and said that as far as it was concerned, the deal was still on the table." [Haaretz; Nana10

NYTimes Editorial... "Let Abbas’s Vile Words Be His Last as Palestinian Leader: 
"Even in this gloomy climate, however, Mr. Abbas’s vile speech was a new low. No doubt he feels embittered and besieged on all sides. But by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office." [NYTimes

-- Jonathan Freedland: It’s right to condemn Mahmoud Abbas for his anti-Semitic remarks [TheGuardian]

ANOTHER ABBAS SPEECH TODAY -- "Palestinians said set to withdraw recognition of Israel" by Stuart Winer: 
"The top-level governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization is reportedly set to adopt a resolution freezing its recognition of Israel and conditioning it on Israel recognizing a state of Palestine. Sources close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat that the Palestinian National Council is expected to pass the resolution during its current gathering... Abbas is reportedly to announce the measures during a speech to the council on Thursday evening." [ToI] 

JERUSALEM EMBASSY WATCH -- "Turks, Saudis, UAE said to pump quarter billion dollars into East Jerusalem" by Sue Surkes: 
"Less than two weeks away from the scheduled transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are pumping a quarter of a billion dollars into the Islamic Waqf and a slew of Muslim organizations in East Jerusalem, Hadashot news reported... The three countries are describing the move as an act of “rescue” to finance renovations at holy sites, but Israeli officials fear their involvement will go beyond money and could spark violence in the run-up to the ribbon-cutting on May 14." [ToI]

“Rick Scott will travel to Israel for U.S. Embassy opening” by Alex Leary: “Gov. Rick Scott will travel to Israel this month for the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, his office said, noting it's his third official visit. The trip dovetails with Scott's Senate campaign.” [TampaBayTimes

PIC OF THE DAY -- 
Mrs. Rhoda Dermer, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Paul Singer, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and Dan Loeb at the Manhattan Institute’s 18th annual Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner last night [Pic] h/t Playbook

SIGHTING -- "Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner test out new Israeli eatery" by Sarah Polus: "Hey, isn’t that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner leaving Sababa? The first daughter and presidential adviser were spotted trying out the newly opened Israeli restaurant in Cleveland Park, where they dined about 8 p.m. Tuesday. “They were both very warm and friendly,” said Scott D. Forman, the restaurant’s general manager." [WashPost; TheHill

MUELLER WATCH -- "Giuliani ally Marc Mukasey in talks to join Trump legal team" by Kara Scannell and Sara Murray: "Marc Mukasey, a longtime ally of Rudy Giuliani, is in talks to possibly join President Donald Trump's legal team. Adding Mukasey to the President's roster of lawyers outside the White House is under consideration, but sources cautioned that a final decision has not been made." [CNN]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Rudy Guiliani on a report that Robert Mueller might interview Ivanka Trump in an interview on Fox News' Hannity: "I think I would get on my charger and go right into their office with a lance if they go after Ivanka... If they do [interview] Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on. 'They are going after his daughter?' I guess Jared [Kushner] is a fine man, you know that, but men are, you know, disposable (chuckle). But a fine woman like Ivanka, come on." [Video]

-- "Near the end of his hour-long appearance, Giuliani called the federal agents who raided Cohen’s Manhattan office last month “stormtroopers.” [DailyBeast

-- The big headline: 
Giuliani says Trump reimbursed Cohen for Stormy Daniels payment [CNN]

2018 WATCH -- "Heller targets Rosen for her support of the Iran nuclear deal" by Humberto Sanchez: "Who does Jacky Rosen stand with? Iran or #Israel? Based on her record of supporting the #IranDeal, we all know the answer,” [Sen. Dean] Heller said in a tweet posted Tuesday... Rosen’s campaign took offense that Heller would cast Rosen, who is Jewish, as against Israel and in league with Iran,.. citing her activism in the Jewish community as president of Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson... Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel of Midbar Kodesh Temple in Henderson said that while the Nevada Jewish community skews slightly toward Democrats, it reflects the community at large with some who oppose the deal and some who support it. “We’re not a monolithic community,” Tecktiel said. “It’s not going to affect how Jews in Nevada vote for either one of them... Neither one is going to change anybody’s mind.” [TheNevadaIndependent]

"Greitens donor and state contractor funded $90k in travel in 2017, new filing shows" by Kevin McDermott: "[Gov. Eric] Greitens’ newly released personal financial disclosure statement shows that Herzog Contracting Corp., a highway and railroad building company based in St. Joseph, Mo., provided $89,600 worth of travel and lodging to Greitens for four separate outings in 2017... According to the new filing, Herzog Contracting paid for Greitens to travel to Las Vegas in February 2017 to attend the Republican Jewish Coalition Conference and Republican National Governors Association events." [STLToday]

“Doctor used Hebrew code to warn Sheldon Silver about FBI” by Kaja Whitehouse: “Dr. Robert Taub said he used the phrase “bikur cholim” — a Jewish commandment to visit and extend aid to the sick — to warn [then-Assembly speaker Sheldon] Silver that the feds were on his tail. “I mentioned it to let him know that I had been rendered ill rendered sick by a visitation,” Taub told the Manhattan federal jury Tuesday." [NYPost

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Michael Lynton and Len Blavatnik are backing an acquisitions group that bought regional publisher Arcadia Publishing [WSJ]  Sam Zell Says Warehouses Getting 'Too Exciting' in E-Commerce Age [Bloomberg]  Point72 Human Resources Chief, Mike Butler, Leaves Cohen's Hedge Fund Firm [Bloomberg]  Larry Silverstein raises $200M in bonds in Tel Aviv [TheRealDeal]  The Harvard Undergrad Fixing Finance: JPMorgan, Bank of America, and big-name hedge funds are trying to diversify. BLK Capital wants to make it easier for them [Businessweek]

"This startup is doubling down on the idea that your inbox can be a one-stop shop for businesses" by Zo Bernard: "Opening your inbox shouldn't be a static experience. This is the fundamental belief of Joe Teplow, CEO and founder of the New York-based email marketing startup Rebel, who, for the past four years has been working on creating marketing tools tailored to the inbox experience... The company has caught the attention of investors as well. Rebel recently raised $5 million in a seed round that included Courtside Venture Capital, Sinai Venture Capital, and Wisdom Venture Capital." [BusinessInsider

JI INTERVIEW -- 
Why did you start Rebel? Joe Teplow: "It began with a charity newsletter I had started called Good Street that enables members to donate 25¢ to different organizations daily. Every day features a new cause and two charities that are addressing that problem in unique ways. While I was an undergrad at Yeshiva University, I became really fascinated by the engagement we were seeing. More than half our members were opening our email on a daily basis and were clicking! I was curious to learn why people were engaging at such a high rate, so I started talking to our subscribers, and while I initially thought guilt was the main motivator for friends, one thing that emerged was that people loved that they didn’t have to login, download an app, put in a password the email itself was the interface for Good St. and that was pretty interesting and novel. I became curious as to why there were not more interactive experiences from within email and this curiosity was the impetus for the Rebelmail platform." 

"Someone once told me that there is a Jewish principle which states it is better to give a small amount of charity every day than one large amount one day. The rationale being that daily giving cultivates a behavior and is a character forming endeavor. I liked the idea of turning people into givers. Today Good St. is a testament to the power of the collective, and the list has grown from a couple friends giving 25¢/day to over 550 subscribers now giving nearly $200/day. My dream is for Good St. to one day be giving thousands of dollars a day. A world where a member can pass by a Good St. wing in a hospital, knowing that they contributed 25¢." [GoodSt]

STARTUP NATION -- “Regulus Cyber launches with a technology to secure autonomous vehicles” by Jonathan Shieber: 
“[Yonatan] Zur first had the idea to launch the company three years ago while he was working with drones at the Israeli technology firm, Elbit Backing the company are a clutch of well-known Israeli and American investors, including Sierra Ventures, Canaan Partners Israel, Technion and F2 Capital The company’s first two products are a spoofing protection module that integrates with any autonomous vehicle and a communication security manager that protects against hacking and misdirection.” [TechCrunch]  

“The 100 Most Influential People in Boston” by David S. Bernstein: “Jonathan Kraft, President of the Kraft Group: 
Not to take anything away from the legendary Bob Kraft, but the true power behind the throne is now his son Jonathan, who’s running the Patriots and spearheading the organization’s efforts to combat opioid addiction and push for juvenile justice reform. Bob still gets plenty of camera time at the Super Bowl, but Jonathan’s cell number is the one you want in your contacts list Lawrence Bacow, President of Harvard University: The former head of Tufts University doesn’t actually start his new job until July, but he earned a spot on this list the minute he was selected. What he does with the elite perch remains to be seen.” [BostonMagazine]  

"At Milken, Wall Street touts itself as force for good" by Lawrence Delevingne: "Eric Cantor, the former U.S. House majority leader and now vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company, told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference that he has long been drawn to Milken’s focus on capitalism as a force for good, often through partnership with the public sector. “It’s about how you create an environment for that collaborative effort to end up yielding one of the highest standards of living in the world,” Cantor said." [Reuters

“Franklin Graham talks about his last days with Billy Graham and what he misses most” by Tim Funk: “Graham also uses his new book [Through My Father's Eyes] to try to clear Billy Graham of what many consider one of the biggest blemishes on his record: His comments about Jews during a 1972 conversation with then-President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office Franklin Graham argues that Billy Graham was not speaking about Jews, but about Hollywood producers of the time, some of whom were Jewish and some who were not. "My father said that he was uncomfortable with some of the people in Hollywood and if they only knew how he really felt. The Harvey Weinsteins of that day," Graham told the Observer. "His entire life, my father (had) been a friend to the Jewish people ... and (had) defended Israel." "In hindsight, my father would have done things a lot differently," Franklin Graham said of the incident. "But he didn't even remember the conversation.” [CharlotteObserver

VIDEO -- The Man Making Hasidic Music Pop: 
“He’s been called the Hasidic Lady Gaga, the Jewish Elvis, but soon, you’ll know him as just Lipa. Raised in a close-knit community, Lipa Schmeltzer grew up with no radio and no television. Hasidic music became his outlet. After he heard his first non-Hasidic song at age 21, Lipa’s life changed. Realizing there was a whole new world of music out there, he began incorporating song structures from modern pop, hip-hop and R&B into his tracks. Nineteen albums and millions of YouTube views later, Lipa is revolutionizing Hasidic music as we know it.” [GreatBigStory

SPORTS BLINK: "She Was Handpicked by the NFL Commish to Help the League Clean Up Its Act" by Lisa Rabasca Roepe: "Sports have long been a focal part of Anna Isaacson’s life. Raised in Brooklyn, New York — her mom was a schoolteacher and her dad ran an office supplies business — she attended Barnard College, where she broadcast radio shows for the Columbia University Lions. During the summer, Isaacson worked at a souvenir shop outside Yankee Stadium, and after graduating in 2001, she took a job with the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones... After five seasons with the Cyclones, she was hired by the NFL as director of community relations, where she ran campaigns that included Play 60, a program encouraging kids to be active, and Crucial Catch, geared toward cancer education." [Ozy]

"How Italy’s Most Famous Bike Race Wound Up in Israel" by Joshua Robinson: "Nothing in the rules of Italy’s most famous bicycle race says it must be contained entirely in Italy. In its 109-year existence, for example, the Giro d’Italia has spilled over the Italian border into neighboring Monaco, France, and landlocked San Marino... Which is why the 101st running of the Giro d’Italia, the three-week stage race, will begin here, in Israel, on Friday, in one of the most audacious bits of race planning in cycling history. Between volunteers, security personnel and support staff, the Israeli legs of the race will involve some 25,000 people." [WSJ]

DESSERT -- Muslim, Jewish students campaign for more halal, kosher food options on campus: "Last week, Arielle Zoken felt a wave of joy wash over her at the sight of a leftover box of matzo on a counter of the dining commons. It was symbolic of Zoken’s efforts to introduce kosher food at the UC Davis DCs for Passover... Last year, when she was a freshman, her mother sent her two whole grocery bags of kosher food to sustain her for the week. “Two of my roommates are not Jewish, and last year, I didn’t really see them for a whole week because I was cooped up in my dorm, eating my matzo and like fruit and meat that was in my mini fridge,” Zoken said." [TheAggie]

"And The Brisket King Of NYC Is..." by Clay Williams: "Rounding out the winners of the evening, Josh Massin only had to cross a couple rivers to get the festivities from Teaneck, New Jersey, where he cooks kosher fare at Nobo Wine and Grill and the upcoming Narruto Bowl. His beautifully prepared bowls of ramen drew one of the longest lines of the night... In recent years, the kosher chef community has joined in, and bloggers and videographers covering kosher food could be seen filming and interviewing chefs and judges." [Gothamist]

BIRTHDAYS: 
Southern California-area philanthropist, writer and activist promoting wellness, founder of the New Americans Museum in San Diego, Deborah Shainman Szekely turns 96... Physicist and Nobel Laureate, professor at University of Texas at Austin, Steven Weinberg turns 85... Founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, David A. Siegel turns 83... Pioneer in late night television advertising for his company Ronco, inventor and marketing personality, known for the phrase, "But wait, there's more!" Ronald M. "Ron" Popei turns 83... Senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Ely Karmon, Ph.D. turns 77... US Senator from Oregon since 1996, previously served in the House of Representatives (1981-1996), Ron Wyden (original family name was Weidenreich) turns 69... Partner at Jones Day (previously at Patton Boggs), represents political parties, campaigns, candidates, governors and members of Congress on election law matters, Benjamin L. Ginsberg turns 66...

Retired in 2017 as chair and CEO of Mondelez International, a multinational food and beverage company (including Oreo, Nabisco and Cadbury), Irene Rosenfeld turns 65... Real estate attorney, a partner in the Chicago office of DLA Piper, Mark D. Yura turns 65... Veteran of 13 NHL seasons, who in 2005 sat out a hockey game to observe Yom Kippur, now an assistant coach for the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, Jeff Halpern turns 65... EVP for Program Development and Management at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Susan Steinmetz turns 62... President of the North American division of Finsbury, he was the founder of Georgetown Policy Advisers and a senior writer at The New York Times, Stephen Labaton turns  57 (h/t Playbook)... Russian billionaire and owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center (though he is in the process of selling a 49% interest in both), Mikhail Prokhorov turns 53... Partner at Burton Kamins Advocacy, Scott A. Kamins turns 43... Educated at the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco, played as a defensive lineman in the NFL from 2004 until 2011 (Chargers, Cowboys and Dolphins), Igor Olshansky turns 36... Managing director and director of executive communications of SKDKnickerbocker, graduate of CESJDS, he was previously a speechwriter for President Obama, Stephen Andrew Krupin turns 36...