Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: November 12, 2018

The Jewish boxer who helped turn tide of WWI ■ A former Mossad head has joined controversial Israeli spy firm Black Cube ■ Why is Israel tossing a lifeline to Jamal Khashoggi’s killers?

JI Staff
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A man wears a mask of killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a commemoration event of Khashoggi's supporters on November 11, 2018 in Istanbul.
A man wears a mask of killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a commemoration event of Khashoggi's supporters on November 11, 2018 in Istanbul.Credit: OZAN KOSE / AFP
JI Staff

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VETERANS DAY — The Jewish Boxer Who Helped the Allies Turn the Tide of World War I — by Matthew Pearl: "Benjamin Kaufman, a tenacious boxer from Brooklyn, stuck by his men and never shied away from a fight. His grit helped America win in the Argonne. Born March 10, 1894, Kaufman spent his earliest years on a farm upstate before the family settled in Brooklyn. Between his foreign heritage (his parents came from Russia) and being Jewish—not to mention his eight older siblings—he had to learn to defend himself. “Unless you could fight in East New York in Brooklyn at that time, you just didn’t have a chance,” he later recalled."

"Jews were a disproportionately large percentage of the U.S. military in the First World War, and the government even appointed a number of Jewish chaplains to serve the Armed Forces. Still, suspicion and distrust of minorities festered. Jewish communities in America were a relatively recent phenomenon and retained a foreign aura. The U.S. military, like most institutions, was rife with anti-Semitism, and a Jewish soldier had to carefully navigate it. The war provided an international stage to showcase their contributions." [DailyBeast]

TOP TALKER — Saudis Close to Crown Prince Discussed Killing Other Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi’s Death — by Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman and David Kirkpatrick: "Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom... George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting. He had met previously with Prince Mohammed, and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials. Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies." [NYTimes]

Jackson Diehl writes... "Why is Israel tossing a lifeline to Jamal Khashoggi’s killers? Netanyahu’s problem is that in betting so heavily on Mohammed and Trump, he took a large risk with two very unstable actors, each of whom has polarized their political systems. If Mohammed survives... he will be weakened and wary. He won’t be able to deliver the Palestinians for Trump’s peace plan... Trump, too, has been weakened by the Democrats’ capture of the House of Representatives — and so has Netanyahu."

"While key Democratic leaders in the incoming House, including likely speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), are staunchly pro-Israel, many of their new rank and file will not be. And a lot of Republicans, as well as Democrats, will be repelled by Netanyahu’s appeals on Mohammed’s behalf." [WashPost]

Once Censored, Billionaire Saudi Prince Returns to Spotlight — by Benoit Faucon and Summer Said: "Billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal has returned as the kingdom’s public face for global investors... Another sign of Prince al-Waleed’s return to the royal court’s graces is his fresh spree of deals with international investors... He also is in talks with Leonard Blavatnik, owner of Warner Music Group, and other executives to invest in his Riyadh-based entertainment company, Rotana Media Group." [WSJ]

TRANSITION — A former head of the Mossad has joined controversial Israeli spy firm Black Cube — by Adam Pasick: "Efraim Halevy, the former head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, has joined the board of Black Cube... Black Cube may soon face a US congressional subpoena seeking information about its operations targeting Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, former Obama national security officials who helped to forge the Iran nuclear deal. Democrats on the House government oversight committee unsuccessfully requested the subpoena in July, when they were in the minority; they are set to retake control in January following last week’s US midterm elections." [Quartz

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan will be published "soon" — by Barak Ravid: "White House Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a speech at a closed event in London earlier this week that the U.S. "will soon be ready to publish" President Trump's long awaited [peace] plan." [Axios]

Abbas threatens new measures against Hamas — by Khaled Abu Toameh: "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas... speaking during a rally in Ramallah on Sunday marking the 14th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat... lashed out at the US and Israel... “There is an American conspiracy in the form of the deal of the century, and there is an Israeli conspiracy to implement the deal,” Abbas said... Abbas said that the PLO Central Council... has decided to make a series of “decisive decisions” in the coming days to determine the future of Palestinian relations with Hamas, Israel and the US." [JPost]

ON THE GROUND — Covert Israeli military operation in Gaza exposed, igniting new tensions — by Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha: "A senior Israeli military officer and seven militants, including a Hamas commander, were killed overnight Sunday after a covert operation by Israel inside the Gaza Strip appeared to have been exposed, sparking an exchange of fire, airstrikes and later a barrage of rocket fire... The Israeli military remained tight-lipped over exact details of the incident late Sunday night. A statement from the army’s General Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot only said a special force had been engaged in a “very meaningful operation for Israel’s security.” ... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris over the weekend to return to Israel." [WashPostNYTimes]

Netanyahu calls Paris conversation with Putin 'very important' — by Dan Williams: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin at World War One commemorations on Sunday, their first meeting since the downing of a Russian plane during an Israeli air raid in Syria in September. “The conversation with President Putin was good and businesslike. I would even describe it as very important,” Netanyahu told reporters after the ceremony in Paris, adding that he also spoke there with U.S. President Donald Trump." [Reuters

Raphael Ahren reports: "Some 70 world leaders attended the central memorial event Sunday on the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, but only Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not arrive at the venue with a bus like everyone else, but were ushered in separately. During the solemn event, Netanyahu and his wife Sara sat in the front row, next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and only a few meters away from Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron." [ToI

PIC OF THE DAY — Sara Netanyahu took a prominent place on the world stage in Paris yesterday when the spouses of the world leaders posed for a group photo in the Palace of Versailles. 

Wife of GOP megadonor to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom — by Quint Forgey: "Miriam Adelson will receive the medal along with six other “distinguished individuals” at a ceremony on Friday, the White House said... In its brief biography of Miriam Adelson, the White House described her as “a committed doctor, philanthropist, and humanitarian,” as well as “a committed member of the American Jewish community.” [Politico]

HOW IT PLAYED ― Miriam Adelson gave the GOP millions. Trump is giving her the Medal of Freedom — by Michael Brice-Saddler: "The release does not mention that the Adelsons also contributed at least $87 million to GOP candidates in the 2018 midterms... Adelson’s selection... raised some questions about her qualifications for the award and also whether the White House was rewarding a donor." [WashPost]  Elvis, Babe Ruth, Miriam Adelson: Trump’s Very Trumpy Picks for the Medal of Freedom [VanityFair]

COMING SOON – Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the keynote address at the annual conference of the Israeli American Council on Friday, November 30th, in South Florida. The IAC is largely funded by Sheldon and Mirian Adelson.

HAPPENING TODAY — Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, will be honored for his 60 years of ministry at an event hosted by CUFI in Jerusalem. Ambassador David Friedman is expected to deliver remarks in honor of Hagee. "The State of Israel is fortunate to have you on our side," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to say in a video address, according to excerpts obtained by Jewish Insider.

ON THE HILL — "The House has a light floor schedule this week... Expect plenty of non-controversial items including "the posthumous award of a Congressional Gold Medal to Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl in recognition of his acts of valor during World War II." [Axios]

MIDTERMS — Dana Rohrabacher Loses, Eroding Republican Foothold in California — by Adam Nagourney: "Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican fixture in California who represented Orange County for 15 terms, has lost his bid for re-election... [Harley] Rouda, 56, is a former Republican turned Democrat who became a symbol of the Democratic efforts to win back Congress this year. Mr. Rohrabacher, 71, was viewed as particularly vulnerable because he defended Russia in the midst of allegations about its efforts to intervene in elections in the United States." [NYTimes]

— During the campaign, Rohrabacher came under fire for attending a fundraiser with an alleged Holocaust denier and endorsing an alt-right activist criticized for anti-Semitism. "It’s clear that Dana Rohrabacher has embraced anti-Semitism and individuals who support it,” Rouda charged in an interview with Jewish Insider last month. 

DEEP DIVE — Inside Bill Browder's War Against Putin — by Marie Brenner: "Browder’s eldest son, Joshua, was monitoring the Helsinki press conference from Palo Alto. The 21-year-old, who helps oversee his father’s digital operation, was taken aback when [Vladimir] Putin, with an expression of feline self-satisfaction, declared: “Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. . . . We have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions, so we have an interest in questioning them.” Joshua immediately texted his father: “Now you have truly made it.” He heard nothing back. Then Joshua felt gut-punched. He saw Trump nod at Putin and call the idea of both sides questioning the other’s suspects as “an incredible offer.” The younger Browder recalled being “shocked. I was really concerned. I was picturing Department of Homeland Security agents coming for him.” [VanityFair

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — A White House Challenge: Balancing the Roles of the First Lady and First Daughter — by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers: "As her role has evolved, Ivanka Trump has let family friends know in the clearest terms that she is in the White House to help her father by using her charm and contacts to cut through Washington’s bureaucracy, particularly with Congress... Like her father, Ms. Trump is acutely aware of her news coverage: A rotating cast of White House aides have often tried to get her credit in the news media for issues she has worked on. Her meetings are often summarized by the White House press office and emailed to reporters, a move that is not routinely extended to other senior advisers to Mr. Trump."

"Ivanka Trump’s interest in politics had led her to forge alliances with moderate Republicans, including Senator Susan Collins of Maine, as well as with newly minted Trump confidants like Mr. Graham." [NYTimes]

2020 WATCH — Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz assembles an elite PR team as he considers running for president — by Brian Schwartz: "Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf said he believes Schultz is putting together a group that could help in a variety of ways if he chooses to run for president. "He wants to show people he can put together a team quickly and the best presidential campaigns have people from multidisciplinary sectors, from the private sector to those in political work. It's smart. The Clinton's first campaign had film makers. So did Ronald Reagan," Sheinkopf said." [CNBC]

Deval Patrick’s Presidential Prospects — by Jeffrey Toobin: "Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is a businessman, but so are Michael Bloomberg, Howard Schultz, and Tom Steyer. Still, Patrick would enter the race with one significant distinction: he is a kind of political heir to Barack Obama, and enjoys broad support from people close to the former President... “Deval is a very genuine person, a very empathetic person,” David Axelrod, who has been a strategist for Patrick as well as for Obama, told me. “He is a guy who makes people feel comfortable. He’s very principled, you can see that—just like Obama.” [NewYorker]

** Good Monday 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: Dr. Karnit Flug to conclude term as Bank of Israel governor [JPost]  Elliott and Veritas team up to buy Athenahealth for $5.5bn [FinancialTimesFacebook has named Anne Kornblut to the new position of Director of News, New Initiatives [Axios]  Why Did Facebook Fire Palmer Luckey, a Top Executive? Hint: It Had Something to Do With Trump [WSJ]  10 Israeli Startups Shaping The Cities Of Tomorrow [ForbesIsraeli cyber firm NSO in talks to buy Fifth Dimension [Reuters]

TALK OF THE VALLEY — Tech C.E.O.s Are in Love With Their Principal Doomsayer — by Nellie Bowles: "The futurist philosopher Yuval Noah Harari worries about a lot. He worries that Silicon Valley is undermining democracy and ushering in a dystopian hellscape in which voting is obsolete. He worries that by creating powerful influence machines to control billions of minds, the big tech companies are destroying the idea of a sovereign individual with free will... But lately, Harari is anxious about something much more personal. If this is his harrowing warning, then why do Silicon Valley C.E.O.s love him so? “One possibility is that my message is not threatening to them, and so they embrace it?” a puzzled Mr. Harari said one afternoon in October. “For me, that’s more worrying. Maybe I’m missing something?”

"When Mr. Harari toured the Bay Area this fall to promote his latest book, the reception was incongruously joyful. Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, threw him a dinner party. The leaders of X, Alphabet’s secretive research division, invited Mr. Harari over... “I’m drawn to Yuval for his clarity of thought,” Jack Dorsey, the head of Twitter and Square, wrote in an email, going on to praise a particular chapter on meditation." [NYTimes

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — YieldStreet wants to make exotic bets available to individual investors online — by Josh Saul and Claire Boston: "YieldStreet is selling alternative investments normally reserved for billionaires and hedge funds to individuals who are so-called accredited investors... It all began when [Milind] Mehere... joined forces with Dennis Shields and Michael Weisz to create a digital platform... Weisz worked from 2009 to 2013 as an analyst at a unit of Centurion Credit Management, a hedge fund that in 2011 became part of Platinum Partners... YieldStreet supports loosening the definition of accredited investor. “We believe firmly that the concept is outdated,” Weisz says... If YieldStreet gets its way, it will be poised to grow. It doesn’t lack ambition. “I think we only have one real competitor,” Weisz says, “and that would be Goldman Sachs.” [Bloomberg

STARTUP NATION — Desperate for Tech Talent, Israel Turns to an Untapped Labor Pool: Palestinians — by Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber: "Israel’s innovative technology sector—which inspired the nickname “Startup Nation”—faces a shortage of 10,000 software programmers and engineers, the government says, posing one of the biggest threats to economic growth outside of war with its neighbors. The reasons include competition from American companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon and Microsoft Corp. that are willing to pay high salaries for Israeli talent. Israel’s immigration laws also make it difficult to import skilled non-Jewish workers." [WSJ]

HOLLYWOOD — Gerard Butler posts image of Malibu home burned in wildfire — by Danielle Garrand: "The Woolsey and Hill Fires have been blazing through Southern California, forcing some residents to flee their homes and hope there will be something left when they come back. Actor Gerard Butler returned to his Malibu residence Sunday and posted a devastating photo showing it in ruins." [CBSNews

— Amy Spiro tweets"Last month, visiting Israel, Gerard Butler said he hoped his house in Los Angeles would burn down so he'd have an excuse to stay in Israel. This week... Gerard Butler's house in Los Angeles burned down." 

PROFILE — Ofer Berkovitch: The secular mayor candidate challenging Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox bloc for the soul of the holy city — by Raf Sanchez: "Ofer Berkovitch, a 35-year-old city councilor... is facing off in Tuesday’s election against Moshe Lion, a Right-wing politician who once worked for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. While Mr. Lion is only moderately religious, he has courted ultra-Orthodox leaders... Mr. Berkovitch, the underdog in the race, has accused his opponent of “backroom deals." “We’re not against the ultra-Orthodox, we want to serve everyone. But we want to have services for everyone, not one community above the other,” he said... He goes into Tuesday’s final round of the election as the underdog. But not all the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have backed Mr. Lion and some have scorned him because of his links to Israel’s secular defence minister. Mr. Berkovitch is hoping those divisions among ultra-Orthodox voters will leave open up a path for him to reach the mayor's office." [Telegraph]

How Daniel Barenboim's orchestra of Israeli and Arab musicians is faring in the current political climate — by Mark Swed: “Classical music is a very important element in a human being’s life,” stresses Daniel Barenboim, who is sitting in his office at the Staatsoper unter der Linden, Berlin State Opera, which he has headed since 1992... His West-Eastern Divan Orchestra formed in 1999 to train young Israeli and Arab musicians together. And right now he is moving WEDO across America... Barenboim... is just as adamant in his condemnation of violence on both sides as he is on Israel’s right for security. As for anti-Semitism: “It must be fought and as hard as possible; there is no excuse for it.” [LATimes]

Scott Shay writes... "What is unique about anti-Semitism? It is not the Jews’ success, nor their actual power that is the source of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has often proliferated at times when the Jews were poor and powerless. Jews who tried returning to their home towns in Europe after surviving the concentration camps could certainly attest to that. Rather, it is the Jews’ historic connection with monotheism that has made them the central target of this projected idolatry." [PostGazette]

SCENE OVER THE WEEKEND — Met Council CEO David Greenfield and Rabbi Mendel Zarchi hosted a reception Friday night at the annual SOMOS conference, a confab of Hispanic officials in Puerto Rico at the Chabad Center in San Juan. Speakers included Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who spoke about the special relationship between New York and Israel. [Pic]

SPOTTED: NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Councilmembers Justin Brannan, Barry Grodenchik, Karen Koslowitz, Mark Levine, Ruben Diaz Sr., Daniel Dromm, Rafael Espinal, Robert Holden, Rory Lancman, Carlina Rivera, Ydanis Rodriguez, Helen Rosenthal and Alika Amprey Samuel; Assemblymembers Steve Cymbrowitz, Rodneyse Bichotte, Michael Blake, Nily Rozic, Alfred Taylor, Latrice Walker and David Weprin; State Senator Mike Gianaris, Rabbi Michael Miller, Jason Goldman, Lew Fidler, Phil Goldfeder, Dave Mertz, Joel Lefkowitz, Tuli Weiss, Jeff Leb, Ben Segal, Zack Fink, Yoav Gonen, and Jennifer Fermino.

AIPAC hosted an outreach event on the sidelines of the SOMOS conference on Saturday night. Speakers included Consul General Dayan and citizen activist Erin Schrode. [Pic; Pic]  

SPOTTED: Rabbi Michael Miller, David Greenfield, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), NY Attorney General-elect Tish James, Andrew Gross, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Haley Broder, Phil Goldfeder, Councilman Mark Levine, and Jeff Leb.

REMEMBERING — Scholar Who Escaped Nazis Dies After a Push by a Subway Rider in a Rush — by Ashley Southall: "[Kurt] Salzinger, 89, and his wife were on their way to Macy’s Herald Square on Oct. 27, when a hurried straphanger rushed past them on a subway platform in Penn Station, the police said. The man shoved the couple out of his path with an arm that knocked them both to the ground... Dr. Salzinger... was hospitalized with bleeding of the brain from the fall, and later contracted pneumonia... He died on Thursday... Mr. Salzinger was born in Vienna in 1929. As the Nazis marched into the country in 1938, he escaped with his father, mother and older brother, through an underground Jewish network." [NYTimes]

Overlooked No More: Rose Zar, a Holocaust Survivor Who Hid in Plain Sight — by Melissa Eddy: "Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times... Unlike Anne Frank and thousands of other Jews who spent all or part of World War II sequestered in attics, caves or sewers, Rose Zar survived the Holocaust by hiding in the open. In October 1942, when she was 19, her father feared that the Nazis were closing in on the ghetto where they lived, in Piotrkow, Poland. Zar... grabbed her suitcase and forged passport and left her family behind. For the next three years, she would move around Poland, disguising herself as a Roman Catholic named Wanda Gajda... Zar died on Nov. 3, 2001, in South Bend." [NYTimes]

Herb London, Conservative Thought Leader, Passes at 79 — by John Gizzi: "The news that Herb London died Sunday morning at age 79 was a devastating blow to conservatives in his home state of New York and nationwide... London rose to fame as Dean of New York University’s Gallatin Division, a program where students designed their own curricula... He later went on to head the Hudson Institute and, in recent years, started the London Center for Policy Research. There he oversaw studies of public policy and wrote scholarly papers and books on topics from the U.S. relations with Iran to the fiscal perils of New York State." [Newsmax]

BIRTHDAYS: Professor of History at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck turns 77... Counsel at the Poughkeepsie, New York law firm of Gellert, Klein & MacLeod, he was a member of the New York State Senate (1990-2012), Stephen M. Saland turns 75... Sportscaster for NBC since 2006, after 29 years at ABC, Al Michaels turns 74... Attorney in NYC, Bernard Wachsman turns 65... Member of the New York State Assembly since 2006 (and re-elected last week), her district includes Manhattan's Upper West Side, Linda Rosenthal turns 61... Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the National Book Award for "Challenger Deep," Neal Shusterman turns 56... Author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Wolf turns 56... Mayor of Oakland, California since 2015 (re-elected last week), Elizabeth Beckman "Libby" Schaaf turns 53...

President of The Cranemere Group (a private equity firm based in NYC, London and Frankfurt), he was previously director of President Obama's National Economic Council (2014-2017), Jeffrey Zients turns 52... British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne "Jo" Coburn turns 51... SVP and general manager of MLB's Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine turns 47... Member of the Knesset since 2006 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov turns 47... Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh turns 43... Film and television actress, Jordana Ariel Spiro turns 41... Matthew D. Berkman turns 34... Director of State Operations at Ad Hoc, a software firm for governments, he is also chairman of loop88, a creative advertising agency focused on Pinterest, Dave Weinberg...

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