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- Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: November 17, 2017
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ANNE WOJCICKI PROFILE: "The Doyenne of DNA Says: Just Chillax With Your Ex" by Maureen Dowd: "In 2007, Anne Wojcicki, then 33, lassoed the moon. She was getting her new company, 23andMe, a mail-order genetics testing firm, off the ground. She married Sergey Brin, the cute co-founder of Google, also 33 and already one of the richest men in America, at a top-secret Esther Williams extravaganza in the Bahamas... But six years later, the Silicon Valley fairy tale was shattered by two public humiliations: Mr. Brin got involved with a beautiful young Englishwoman named Amanda Rosenberg, who provided a public face for Google Glass — an attachment that broke up his marriage. And the Food and Drug Administration shut down the primary function of Ms. Wojcicki’s business, calling her D.N.A. spit vial “an unapproved medical device” and imposing stricter rules for consumer genetic testing."
"And here is where genetics saved the genetics entrepreneur. Her father, Stanley, fled Poland in 1949 when he was 12 with his mother when the Communists took over. Her mother, Esther, was the daughter of impoverished Orthodox Russian Jews who immigrated to New York in the ’20s. The Wojcickis grew into Silicon Valley royalty.... Stanley is the former chairman of the Stanford physics department and an emeritus professor. Esther, whose family just wanted her to marry a nice Jewish man and have children, became valedictorian of her high school and got a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley..."
"Although some people thought Ms. Wojcicki would have to sell her company, she healed the breach with the F.D.A. the same way she healed the breach with Mr. Brin. She did not huff away and seethe and backbite. She “put one foot ahead of the other,” as her mother advises, hired the best regulatory experts and found a respectful new configuration for the relationship... One of the friends who helped her through that period was Ivanka Trump, though their relationship has grown more complicated. “She was super-supportive when I got divorced and had all kinds of issues,” says Ms. Wojcicki, who was a big Hillary Clinton booster. “Do I agree with all the things that are happening politically? No. But as a person, the way she treated me, I have a lot of respect for that. And I consider her a friend.”" [NYTimes]
DEEP DIVE: The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow" by Luke Harding: "As Trump tells it, the idea for his first trip to Moscow came after he found himself seated next to the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin. This was in autumn 1986; the event was a luncheon held by Leonard Lauder, the businessman son of Estée Lauder. Dubinin’s daughter Natalia “had read about Trump Tower and knew all about it,” Trump said in his 1987 bestseller, The Art of the Deal. Trump continued: “One thing led to another, and now I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel, across the street from the Kremlin, in partnership with the Soviet government.” In Dubinina’s account she admits her father was trying to hook Trump." [PoliticoMag]
Trump’s Peace Plan: ‘Ultimate Deal’ or Deal, Ultimately? -- by Jacob Kornbluh: The Trump administration is reportedly in its final stages of formalizing the 'ultimate deal' that will be presented to Israel and the Palestinian Authority early next year. According to a report by Israel's Hadashot 2, the peace plan would include U.S. recognition of Palestinian statehood with land swaps, but “not necessarily” based on the pre-1967 lines. The U.S. would recognize most of Israel’s stated security needs, including for the ongoing presence of Israeli forces along the Jordan border, and no settlements would be evacuated, according to the proposal. At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, "We heard plenty of speculation this weekend” about Trump’s peace efforts, adding: "My position on this plan will be determined according to Israel’s security and national interests.”
A Senior White House official tells us: "There is constant speculation and guessing about what we are working on and this report is more of the same. It is not an accurate representation, rather it is a mix of possibilities and ideas that have existed for decades. What we can say is we are engaged in a productive dialogue with all relevant parties and are taking a different approach than the past to create an enduring peace deal. We are not going to put an artificial deadline on anything and we have no imminent plans beyond continuing our conversations. As we have always said, our job is to facilitate a deal that works for both Israelis and Palestinians, not to impose anything on them."
Middle East expert Aaron David Miller: “This is the first purportedly comprehensive initiative to be put on the table by an American administration in an advance of a direct bilateral negotiation between the two sides. It’s somewhat unusual for any administration to do this, it is really quite unprecedented.” Miller added, “To borrow a phrase from Jim Baker, nobody wants Trump to put the dead cat on their doorstep. You can get a fair amount of mileage out of that tactic. You can’t close a deal but you can keep the process going. It’s not an ‘ultimate deal,’ it’s a deal, ultimately.”
According to former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, it would be a waste of time if the goal of the administration is to resume negotiations based on these parameters. “I don’t think trying to renew negotiations immediately is the right strategy,” he explained. “I think the immediate goal should be practical steps that all parties can take to stop the progress in the direction of one binational state, and preserving the two state solution as a realistic option for the future. But the negotiation itself should not take place until there are changes in the leadership of the two sides.”
“I take all with a grain of salt,” said Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Advisor during the George W. Bush administration. “Until something is announced, it can change many times. The plans described in the press seem to me to favor Israel (adopting many of its demands on security measures), which will make that unattractive to the Palestinians.” [JewishInsider]
Ivanka Trump ally Dina Powell is ‘secret weapon’ in Middle East talks: "A State Department official working on Iran issues said: “Dina Powell is the secret weapon here. The leaders of the Arab autocracies view Kushner as a fellow prince, but Powell also has serious heft because of her relationship with Ivanka. She understands the Arab world in a way that Kushner doesn’t."" [TheTimes]
DRIVING THE WEEK: Over the weekend, the Trump administration notified the Palestinian Authority that the U.S. could shut down the Palestinian diplomatic delegation in Washington, D.C. within the next few months if they pursue any legal action against Israel at the International Criminal Court. The office could be reopened if after 90 days President Trump determines the Palestinians have entered into “direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel," the State Department said.
A State Department official told Jewish Insider, "We are not cutting off relations with the PLO, nor do we intend to stop working with the Palestinian Authority. Our relations with the PLO and PA extend well beyond contacts with the PLO office in Washington.This measure should in no way be seen as a signal that the U.S. is backing off those efforts. Nor should it be exploited by those who seek to act as spoilers to distract from the imperative of reaching a peace agreement." Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the decision "very unfortunate and unacceptable" and accused the administration of bowing to pressure from Israel "at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal." In a video posted on Twitter, Erekat threatened: “We will put on hold all our communications with this American administration.”
Meanwhile, Fatah and Hamas, the leading Palestinian political factions, are to gather on Tuesday in Cairo to push ahead with reconciliation efforts ahead of a key December 1 deadline, according to the terms set by Egyptian-brokered deal. The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened on Saturday for the first time under PA supervision.
Grant Rumley, a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), emails us... "The timing is really weird to me. The international campaign has long been viewed as a nuisance by the US, but in the past we got them to halt it in exchange for reciprocal gestures from Israel (ala the prisoner exchange) and the prospect of peace negotiations. None of those seem on the docket right now for the near term. If the goal is to get the Palestinians to focus less on the ICC and joining international orgs, then I have to believe we have other deterrents at our disposal. As it stands now, we’re making Abbas choose between his DC office and pursuing his international campaign -- and for what?"
SAUDI-ISRAEL RELATIONS: “Israeli minister reveals covert contacts with Saudi Arabia” by Ori Lewis: “In an interview on Army Radio, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz was asked why Israel was hiding its ties with Saudi Arabia. Steinitz replied: ”We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries, and usually (we are) the party that is not ashamed. It’s the other side that is interested in keeping the ties quiet.” [Reuters]
"How a Saudi-Israeli Alliance Could Benefit the Palestinians" by Hussein Ibish: "It’s unlikely that many Palestinians share the degree of alarm that Israelis and Saudis feel about the growth of Iranian power in the Middle East... Yet this is a strategic game changer that, if consolidated, would greatly strengthen the regional clout of the most cynical exploiter of their issue in recent decades: Iran. Palestinians would be well advised to view the potential dialogue between Israel and Arab countries like Saudi Arabia as an opportunity to prevent their issues from being once again egregiously exploited or discarded." [TheAtlantic]
Elliott Abrams writes "Israel and Saudi Arabia are inching closer by the week: Let’s not go too far in interpreting what all this means. The Trump administration’s efforts to “fast-forward” Israeli/Saudi relations have not succeeded Public collaboration with Israel or concessions to it would be politically dangerous for the Saudi government, at a moment when to say the very least its plate is full The Trump administration was counting on Saudi and pan-Arab desire to help the Palestinians and help the “peace process” to overcome Arab desires to avoid political danger, but that was an overestimation of the degree of Arab official concern about the Palestinians.” [Newsweek]
THE DAILY KUSHNER: "Kushner's attorney accuses Senate panel of 'gotcha game' over documents request" by Evan Perez and Maegan Vazquez: "If you look at the content of these emails, he's the hero," [Abbe] Lowell said of [Jared] Kushner. "He's the one who's saying there shouldn't be any contact with foreign officials or foreign entities. That's what the Senate Judiciary Committee should pay attention to and not create some sort of partisan gotcha game." [CNN; WSJ]
"Mueller interviews with senior White House officials coming up" by Marshall Cohen: "Investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller are scheduled to interview additional senior White House officials in the coming weeks... On the slate are White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House counsel Don McGahn and Josh Raffel, a communications aide to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner." [CNN] Rob Goldstone ready to come to U.S. and talk to Mueller [NBCNews]
HAPPENING TODAY -- Fired White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci will be the featured speaker at a dinner hosted by the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce at King David Hotel in Jerusalem. [Pic] The Mooch is on a four-day trip to Israel, where he will be meeting with Ambassador David Friedman and visit Yad Vashem. [NYPost]
AP Interview at the King David Hotel: "Scaramucci says don’t rule out beltway return" by Josef Federman: "Scaramucci... is not Jewish but said he has longstanding ties with members of the group from New York and is scouting out Israel’s vibrant high-tech sector for possible future opportunities... He expects to help Trump on his re-election campaign." [AP]
MORT SCOOPS THE PRESS -- In a tweet on Friday, ZOA Mort Klein revealed that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer hosted Steve Bannon for dinner over the summer: "Ron Dermer told me that Steve Bannon was at his house for dinner and that 'Bannon is a great friend of Israel and Jews.'" [Twitter]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Former hedge-fund manager Michael Karsch found a healthier new career in Juice Press [WSJ] NYC Landlord Joel Wiener Becomes a Billionaire, Thanks to Gentrification Boom [Bloomberg] A handful of bidders, including Bustle CEO Bryan Goldberg and music executive Irving Azoff, are circling Rolling Stone [Recode] Kushner Cos. Found New Israeli Partner to Return to New Jersey [Bloomberg] Media startup Cheddar launches its TV channel in Europe with Molotov [TechCrunch] In first-ever hackathon for ultra-Orthodox developers, teams brainstorm with mentors on how to mesh AI, big data with Torah studies [ToI]
"Russian yacht docks in port; Will Putin friend pay Trump a visit?" by Tony Doris: "Days before President Trump flies into town for Thanksgiving, one of the world’s most expensive yachts, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, sailed into the Port of Palm Beach Friday afternoon. The 533-foot Eclipse... comes equipped with a pool, helipad, submarine and room for a crew of 92... Note to Transportation Security Administration: That would put a Russian submarine within a mile or so of the winter White House... No word on whether Abramovich, 51, said to be a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has met President Trump or will spend time with him during the stay." [PalmBeachPost] Mar-a-Lago’s new winter season: The Red Cross Ball is out, the Trumpettes are in [WashPost]
"Soros Says Hungarian Campaign Against Him Is Based on Lies" by Zoltan Simon: "[George] Soros said ]Prime Minister Viktor] Orban’s campaign in Hungary was “stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and employing anti-Semitic tropes” reminiscent of the pre-World War II era and served to divert voters’ attention from corruption as well as troubles in health care and education." [Bloomberg]
“I’m A Latina Who Works For The ADL. JVP’s Attacks Shocked Me” by Betsaida Alcantara: “For months now, the far-left anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has been targeting our exchange program with Israel with a campaign called “Deadly Exchange”... This radical — and willful — misunderstanding of our program was compounded last week when JVP came to protest ADL at our New York headquarters. As the head of communications for the organization, I went to greet them and to receive their petition. But I was only seconds into my conversation with a JVP spokesperson before she demanded to know: Why didn’t ADL send anyone to hear their stories? “I’m right here,” I said, confused. Then she asked me point blank how a woman of color could work for ADL.” [Forward]
RISING STAR: "Judge Ruchie, the Hasidic Superwoman of Night Court" by Sharon Otterman: "Eleven years ago, [Rachel Freier] became one of the first Hasidic female lawyers in Brooklyn, and last November, she was elected as a judge to civil court, making her almost certainly the first female Hasidic elected official in the country. She has done so not by breaking the strict religious rules that govern ultra-Orthodox women’s lives, but by obeying them so scrupulously that there are limited grounds for objection. “I conformed,” she said in an interview... “I just found some creative ways to extend what it means to conform.”" [NYTimes]
BOOK REVIEW: "Wresting Golda Meir From the Shadows" by Ethan Bronner: "Meir was highly atypical for a simple reason: She was a woman... Everything about how Meir dealt with her gender is fascinating, telling and often somewhat tragic. She suffered from it but was not above exploiting it (“Call me Golda,” she disarmingly told everyone). Just as Barack Obama studiously avoided being seen as a black president, Meir stayed far away from both femininity and feminism. She wore no makeup, smoked like a chimney and, although she began her political rise through the Zionist women’s associations in the late 1920s, she claimed later never to have belonged to a women’s organization." [NYTimes]
“‘The Story of the Jews’: a tale of triumph amid persecution” by Thane Rosenbaum: “Jews with memories of the Holocaust can recall at least two millennia when Jewish blood was decidedly red and discussed only in the context of blood libels... (Anyone who has ever eaten the bread of affliction, however, knows that it tastes bad enough without plasma.) For those who regard Jews as Wonder Bread-eating, upper-class WASPs, albeit with a better sense of humor, and are blindly without reference points on where Jews fit into the human story, Simon Schama’s latest book, “The Story of the Jews, Volume Two: Belonging, 1492-1900,” will be a revelation.... Along the way, Schama, an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker, tells the story of the Jewish people who survived the Middle Ages to enjoy a measure of relief during the Renaissance and Enlightenment — but not without occasional reminders that they were still aliens in the eyes of their host countries.” [WashPost]
“102-year-old survivor reunites with newly discovered nephew” by Aron Heller: “The emotional meeting was made possible by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial’s comprehensive online database of Holocaust victims “It makes me so happy that at least one remnant remains from my brother, and that is his son,” said [Eliahu] Pietruszka, tears welling in his eyes. “After so many years I have been granted the privilege to meet him.” Pietruszka was 24 when he fled Warsaw in 1939 as World War II erupted, heading to the Soviet Union and leaving behind his parents and twin brothers Volf and Zelig... His parents and Zelig were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto and killed in a Nazi death camp, but Volf also managed to escape “In my heart, I thought he was no longer alive,” Pietruszka said Throughout the meeting, Alexandre swallowed hard to hold back tears “It’s a miracle. I never thought this would happen,” Alexandre, himself a retired construction worker, kept saying.” [AP]
"Jerusalem cemetery goes deep underground with tunnel burials" by Isaac Scharf: "Tunnels stretching more than a kilometer (half mile) in length beneath Jerusalem’s main cemetery have been carefully excavated over the past two years to make room for some 22,000 graves... A 50-meter (55-yard) elevator shaft will connect the world above with the world below. “We came up with this idea to provide a solution under the cemetery with burial structures, but also hidden from the eye,” said Arik Glazer, chief executive of Rolzur Tunneling... “It’s the first of its kind in the world, at least in the modern world,” Glazer said." [AP]
"A Chess Novice Challenged Magnus Carlsen. He Had One Month to Train" by Ben Cohen: "The unlikely series of events that brought him to this stage began last year, when Max [Deutsch] challenged himself to a series of monthly tasks that were ambitious bordering on absurd. He memorized the order of a shuffled deck of cards. He sketched an eerily accurate self-portrait. He solved a Rubik’s Cube in 17 seconds. He developed perfect musical pitch and landed a standing back-flip. He studied enough Hebrew to discuss the future of technology for a half-hour... Max, a self-diagnosed obsessive learner, wanted his goals to be so lofty that he would fail to reach some... Max’s year of monthly challenges was over. But he refused to take his loss as anything but a victory. He’d wanted his ambitions to be ambitious enough that he fell short. He said in a postgame interview that attempting to beat the most unbeatable chess player had introduced him to new lines of thinking." [WSJ]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC -- by Jacob Kornbluh: Over 5,000 Chabad shluchim (emissaries) and their family, friends, supporters from over 90 countries gathered in Bayonne, New Jersey for the 34th annual ‘Kinus Hashluchim’ Banquet. [Pic] The event highlighted the Chabad movement’s global footprint, and new locations were announced in countries including Montenegro, the Bahamas, Curacao, and Uganda, which officially became the 100th country to have a permanent Chabad center. Keynote speaker criminal defense attorney Ben Brafman recalled growing up on 778 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, an apartment building adjacent to 770 -- the headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch -- watching the Rabbi smiling at him when passing by on the street and listening to the singing from his bedroom.
SPOTTED: Justice Department's Makan Delrahim, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, Bayonne’s Mayor James Davis, Judge Edward Korman, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York; ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt (pic), Nathan Lewin, AIPAC’s Jason Koppel, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, Rabbi Berel Lazar, Ken Abramowitz, George Rohr, Moshe Tabacinic, Gennadiy Bogolyubov, Eduardo Elsztain, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Deputy Consul General of Israel in Miami Guy Gilady, José Luis Manzur, Governor of Tucuman province, Argentina; Harold Grinspoon, Yitzchak Mirilashvili, Jay Langner, Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Cantor Yitzchak Helfgot, Jeff Shamah, EL Al’s Yoram Elgrabli, HopStop’s Chinedu Echeruo, Abe Biderman, Shmuley Boteach, Rabbi Simcha Scholar, JNF's Russell Robinson, Motti Seligson, Mordechai “Mottel” Lightstone, Yaacov Behrman, Pinny Ringel, David Shor, Armin Rosen, and Yoel Lefkowitz.
SCENE in Puebla, Mexico: Andreas Roemer, the former Mexican ambassador to UNESCO who protested the resolution denying Jerusalem’s Jewish and Christian history, concluded Beyond X, the 10th Anniversary of the La Ciudad de las Ideas, the festival he co-founded to bring together the world’s most brilliant minds to “analyze, question, criticize, doubt” and debate 'dangerous ideas.' Attendees included Steven Pinker, Di-Ann Eisnor, Adam Riess, Dean Kamen, Esther Perel, Moran Cerf, Dan Ariely, David Gross, Thalma Lobel, Samuel Tobias, Dror Benshetrit, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Lindzen, Duke of York Prince Andrew, Mexican Tourism Minister Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, Ricardo Salinas, Chip Conley, Amanda Hill, Kevin Kelly, American Sephardi Federation's Jason Guberman-Pfeffer, Irina Tsukerman.
WEEKEND WEDDING -- Rebecca Rachele Kaplan and Adam Philip Levy were married Nov. 18 at the W Hotel Washington. Rabbi Aaron L. Alexander led the ceremony. The bride... is an associate producer in Washington for the “CBS Evening News.” ... The groom, 31, works in Washington as a supervising producer for CNN’s political unit, where he oversees the network’s political research operation. Until August he worked as a senior producer for “State of the Union with Jake Tapper.” ... The couple met in 2015 in Washington through the dating app JSwipe." [NYTimes] Wedding pic of the couple with Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash, who cut the challah [Politico]
DESSERT: "Feed body and soul at Detroit’s kosher restaurant-art gallery combo" by Yaakov Schwartz: "The cafe is housed in the Farber Center, a metro-Detroit area education and activity center for adults with special needs run by the Friendship Circle of Michigan. These workers, many of them alumni of the Friendship Circle’s one-on-one program that pairs teen volunteers with special needs kids, are learning invaluable lessons that will eventually take them out of the Soul Cafe and into the wider world... The eatery also boasts another great unifier — it is home to the world’s only cholov Yisrael (a high standard of kosher dairy supervision) Starbucks." [ToI]
BIRTHDAYS: Art dealer and former owner of MLB's Miami Marlins, Jeffrey Loria turns 77... Former Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden turns 75... Actor, comedy writer and producer, best known for creating and performing the satirical stuntman character Super Dave Osborne, Bob Einstein turns 75... Singer and songwriter best known for writing and performing the song "Spirit in the Sky," Norman Greenbaum turns 75... U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (2005-2006), currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, John Bolton turns 69... Major-General (reserves) in the IDF, he is a former combat pilot, military attaché to Washington and head of Aman (the IDF's Military Intelligence Directorate), Amos Yadlin turns 66... Kings County, NY (Brooklyn) Supreme Court judge since 2015, previously a civil court judge (2008-2015) and a NYC Councilman (1983-2001), Noach Dear turns 64... Pulitzer Prize-winning national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal (1993-2000), he is the author of six well regarded books, Ronald Steven "Ron" Suskind turns 58... White House official in both the Bush 41 and Bush 43 administrations, now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, Jay Lefkowitz turns 55...
American-born member of Knesset since 2016 for the Likud party, Yehuda Glick turns 52... Billionaire hedge fund manager, founder and president of Greenlight Capital, David Einhorn turns 49... Attorney in Goulston & Storrs Boston-based real estate practice, Zev D. Gewurz turns 46... Bloomberg TV's senior markets correspondent, Julie Hyman turns 41... Political consultant and opposition research specialist for the DNC and for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, founder of Beehive Research, Devorah Adler turns 43... Chief relationship officer for NCSY's Southern Region, Rabbi Benjamin Gonsher turns 38... Outfielder for four MLB teams, Cubs, Rays, Athletics and Twins (2007-2015), he played center field for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Sam Fuld turns 36... Politico's senior reporter for its daily newsletter, New York Health Care, who covers NYC politics, focusing on hospitals and health care, Dan Goldberg... Michael Jankelowitz... James Goldman... Yoel Lefkowitz... Alexis Weiss (h/t Playbook)...
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