Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: October 18, 2017

Senate divided on Corker Cotton bill | A Rabbi in Congress? | Soros transfers $18B to his foundation | The Justice RBG Workout

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George Soros speaking during a forum at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Washington, September 2011.
George Soros speaking during a forum at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Washington, September 2011.Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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ON THE HILL -- Senate divided on Corker Cotton Iran sanctions legislation -- by JI’s Aaron Magid: Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) have revealed their intention to propose legislation that would amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) by reimposing nuclear sanctions if Iran came within a year of obtaining nuclear weapons, and thus eliminating the sunset provisions currently in place. 

Moderate GOP Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) was optimistic about the Corker Cotton bill. “I talked to both of them about it. I like the direction that they are going in, but I haven’t seen the specifics yet.” Collins also appeared to back President Trump's announcement last week. “I think it’s important to note that the President did not impose sanctions, which he could have done, nor did he withdraw from the agreement. He identified some flaws.” ... When asked if he backs the legislation, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) replied, “Yes. Why not? If you are a strong supporter of Israel, if you think Iran is a rogue nation, I think both are good reasons to do it.”

While declining to address the Corker Cotton bill directly, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Jewish Insider, “The greatest danger Iran poses in the immediate future is (a.) ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and (b.) support of Hezbollah and its missiles in Lebanon. We should be tough on that.” Congress has already passed sanctions this year targeting Iran for its support of terrorism and ballistic missile program adding to the uncertainty that Schumer would support new nuclear-related sanctions against Iran now. [JewishInsider]

Schumer’s responds to Trump’s attack regarding flip-flop on nuclear deal -- by Marcia Kramer: “I had a great deal of misgivings about the nuclear deal and voted against it,” Schumer said at a Sunday news conference. “But now we ought to see; give it time to work.” Schumer’s position is strange to some, because it puts him at odds with many in the Jewish community. They were opposed to the treaty then... and they were pleased by Trump’s decision not to recertify it. “Decertification sends a message that the United States, hopefully with other countries as well backing them, will stand up against Iran’s aggressiveness and aggression — which continues unabated,” said Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations

Pressed to explain his change of heart, Schumer said he places great weight on the opinions of Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They have said it is in the country’s national security interests to keep the treaty in place. “The worst things Iran is doing right now are not within the nuclear field, but outside it.” [CBS2

DRIVING THE DAY: "Haley to Press UN Security Council on Iran After Trump Decision" by Kambiz Foroohar: "[Nikki] Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will use a Wednesday Security Council meeting on “the situation in the Middle East" to once again take on Tehran’s ballistic-missile program and its support for Hezbollah and Syrian ruler Bashar Al-Assad... The meeting will be the first public effort to gauge international support for the U.S. position on Iran after Trump declined to certify a 2015 nuclear deal." [Bloomberg]  Khamenei says Iran will 'shred' nuclear deal if U.S. quits it [Reuters]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: "Rex Tillerson and the Unraveling of the State Department" by Jason Zengerle: "Tillerson feared the crisis (between Qatar and Gulf countries) could destabilize the region. Mattis, meanwhile, was concerned about the United States air base in Qatar... Together, the two cabinet secretaries began working to get Trump to try to broker a resolution. But other members of the Trump administration argued against such a move, especially Jared Kushner. Ever since Trump’s election, Kushner had been the focus of an intense courtship by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi; and the two men quickly formed a close friendship with the president’s son-in-law. So close, in fact, that the crown princes convinced Kushner... of the opportunity the blockade provided to further tilt American foreign policy toward the Saudis and away from Iran, according to the Trump adviser. “Rex saw it as a crisis to solve,” the adviser says. “Jared saw it as an opportunity to seize.”" [NYTimesMag]

“Heritage Foundation considers top White House aide, Cubs co-owner as next leader” by By Robert Costa, Ashley Parker and John Wagner: “The Heritage Foundation has narrowed its search for a new president down to a shortlist of finalists, a group that includes Todd Ricketts, a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs For Ricketts — a longtime Republican activists whose father Joe is the founder of TD Ameritrade and brother is Pete Ricketts, the current Nebraska governor — the posting would offer both him and his family an even greater foothold in helping shape the direction of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Trump selected Ricketts to serve as deputy commerce secretary, but in April he withdrew his nomination from consideration" [WashPost

"Trump narrows Fed chairmanship list, decision may come by November" by Brian Schwartz: "President Donald Trump has narrowed down his list for the Federal Reserve chairmanship to five candidates, including former Federal Reserve Gov. Kevin Warsh... National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and current Fed Chair Janet Yellen... The long awaited decision by Trump to either keep Yellen or move on to a chairman of his own will likely be made by his trip to Asia, which is scheduled to begin on November 3... All of the candidates have met with the president about the Fed’s leadership position, while Yellen will be at the White House for her interview on Thursday...  The inclusion of Cohn is a surprising one seeing that he was considered to be virtually out of the running after he took on his boss for his response to the violence in Charlottesville." [FoxBusiness]

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Kushner Adds Charles Harder to Legal Team As Pressure Mounts” by Gabriel Sherman: “According to sources familiar with the matter, the person in Trump’s orbit who may have the most to be worried about in Priebus’s testimony is Jared Kushner. Priebus has knowledge of Kushner’s proximity to the controversial decision to fire Comey during a weekend at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey Trump was accompanied for the weekend by Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Stephen Miller Kushner’s closeness to the discussion of firing Comey continues to be much discussed by current and former Trump administration officials, who see it as one of the main drivers of the administration’s present legal travails. Two sources familiar with the matter told me that prior to Comey’s dismissal, Kushner expressed concern to West Wing officials about the investigation. “He’s all over us,” Kushner told one official in February... “He was freaked out about Comey from day one,” one Trump adviser said.” [VanityFair

“Putin Rival Ties Kushner Meeting to Kremlin Bankers by Ari Melber, Meredith Mandell and Mirjam Lablans: “A prominent exiled Russian oligarch said that he believes a top Russian banker was not "acting on his own behalf" when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December. "I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way," [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky told MSNBC’s Ari Melber.” [NBCNews

"Trump team's leaks about Israel's hack of Kaspersky Lab could further 'damage' ties" by Jack Moore: "The precise details of how Israel was able to hack into Kaspersky Lab’s systems were not disclosed, but what was revealed is that Israeli intelligence officers presented the NSA with evidence of Russian government hackers attempting to glean classified information about the U.S.’s covert programs... “It’s very sensitive. It could affect future collaboration, the chain of information,” says Daniel Cohen, researcher at Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC) at Tel Aviv University.... The continued leaks about the Israeli operations that appear to benefit Washington risk leaving Israel looking like Washington’s proxy in the Middle East, a view widely held by its enemies from Tehran to Damascus... The next time that Israel assists the U.S. at an intelligence level, there may be unease at how that information will be shared, whether in the Oval Office or in the press." [Newsweek]

TOP TALKER: “Israel: No peace talks with Palestinian government reliant on Hamas” by Ori Lewis: “Pursuant to previous decisions, (Israel) will not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel, as long as it does not fulfill the following conditions,” the statement began Netanyahu’s call could hamper U.S. mediation attempts to resume peace negotiations.” [Reuters

KAFE KNESSET -- Hamas not welcome -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Last night the Security Cabinet concluded a two-day session debating the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. A joint statement was issued describing Israel's new "red lines" vis-a-vis negotiations with the Palestinians. According to an official statement from the Prime Minister's Office, the Cabinet decided not to hold any talks with any Palestinian government that relies on Hamas support. The statement outlined a series of Israeli conditions to acknowledging any Palestinian reconciliation process, primarily reiterating the well-known Quartet principles, but adding a few new demands to the list, such as Hamas disarmament and disengagement from Iran. The Security Cabinet stopped short of adopting the more aggressive approach proposed by Naftali Bennett, who demanded that Israel cut all ties with the PA. But right-wing ministers said the decision was a "dramatic message to the US, Egypt and the Palestinians," bracing themselves for increased pressure on Jerusalem to re-launch a peace process with a Palestinian unity government, if it will be formed later.  

Several insiders told Kafe Knesset there was broad skepticism amongst the cabinet ministers about the reconciliation process and the prospect of it actually leading to a Palestinian unity government. "There are still serious unresolved issues between Hamas and Fatah, and the road to a Palestinian unity government is still far away," one minister said, "but it is important that everyone understands that Abbas has to make a choice -- he must disarm Hamas or abandon the reconciliation process in order for us to have any contact with him." The opposition, in a series of tweets, ridiculed the cabinet decision. Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz mockingly congratulated the Cabinet for the "brave decision to stop negotiations that don't exist." Joint List leader Ayman Odeh tweeted: "Netanyahu's guide to peace negotiations: If there are divisions = no negotiations, if there is unity = no negotiations. But at his next UN speech he will still say that his hand is extended towards peace." Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

MEDIA WATCH -- Netanyahu welcomes Evangelical Christian press: "For many years, Israel has held a summit for Jewish media outlets, cultivating those journalists as unofficial "ambassadors" to help promote Israel's image abroad, said Nitzan Chen, the director of Israel's Government Press Office. "Using the same logic," it decided to reach out to Christian media... That strong support for Israel was evident at Netanyahu's meeting with the visiting journalists. Netanyahu, who routinely spars with local media and has accused them of reporting "fake news" in their coverage of a series of corruption scandals, received a warm welcome. "Good to see you, my friend," said one journalist before asking a question. "There's no fake news here." Netanyahu's embrace of the Christian media echoes the strategy employed by Trump." [CBSNews]

2018 WATCH: "Could this rabbi be a first in Congress?" by Mark Oppenheimer: "Robert B. Barr, who plans to file papers today to be a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in Ohio’s 1st District, is notable... for being the first who seems to have a good shot at winning. If he is the eventual nominee, his opponent would be Republican incumbent Steve Chabot, who lost once already, in the Obama landslide of 2008, before reclaiming his seat in 2010. Barr, 62, is at once the most traditional rabbi (of the three) ever to run for Congress, and the least. He’s the most traditional because he has been a pulpit rabbi, at Congregation Beth Adam, outside Cincinnati, since 1980... At the same time... his Judaism is seen, by some, as well outside the mainstream... Barr founded a congregation, Beth Adam, that belongs to none of the major branches of Judaism." [WashPost]

STEVE & SHELDON -- "Bannon hits up GOP mega-donors exasperated with McConnell" by Alex Isenstadt: "[Steve] Bannon met with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the GOP’s most prominent donor, for several hours when he swung through Washington this month." [Politico]

** Good Wednesday 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: Barry Diller takes shots at VCs, startup valuations [TC]  El Al Hopes New Dreamliner Fleet Will Solve Its Woes, but That Won't Happen Anytime Soon [Haaretz]  Disney’s Movies Face a Big Test, and Bob Iger Likes His Chances [Bloomberg]  The Wall Street Journal 'bumps' into Jeffrey Katzenberg in the elevator [Video]  Israel's Delek Group Mulling $280M Sale of Royalties From Tamar Offshore Gas Field [Haaretz]  Isaac Kassirer to buy $100M UWS portfolio [RealDeal]

"What cities fighting for an Amazon headquarters can learn from Seattle" by Patrick Sisson: “South Lake Union exists as it does today because of Amazon—that’s just a fact,” says Jordan Selig, managing director of Martin Selig Real Estate, which has the company as a tenant at its building on Elliott Avenue West. “The majority of the office and residential buildings are occupied by Amazon’s employees.” [Curbed]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli startups beginning to see benefits of New York” by Navot Volk: “The NY marketplace is robust in terms of customers.” says Sam Gutmann, OwnBackup CEO, when asked why he decided to make the move from Israel to NYC instead of choosing the Valley OwnBackup is a leading cloud-to-cloud backup & restore vendor Gutman had another practical reason to choose the Big Apple over the Valley: “Our team is currently split between US and IL. The seven-hour difference between Israel and NYC means overlapping working hours rather than constantly coordinating calls with the west coast. This is a major positive factor for the remote team. It is also relatively easy to fly back and forth on the NY-IL route.” [Globes]  

SPOTLIGHT: “George Soros Transfers $18 Billion to His Foundation, Creating an Instant Giant” by Juliet Chung and Anupreeta Das: “George Soros, who built one of the world’s largest fortunes through a famous series of trades, has turned over nearly $18 billion to Open Society Foundations... Soros Fund Management LLC’s 87-year-old founder now shares influence over the firm’s strategy with an investment committee of Open Society. Mr. Soros set up the committee and is its chairman, but it is meant to survive him... Mr. Soros doesn’t plan to trade the billions that now belong to Open Society... He plans to give it most of the rest of his wealth in his lifetime or upon his death." [WSJ]

"Book’s challenge: Can you do squats like Justice Ginsburg?" by Jessica Gresco: "Personal trainer Bryant Johnson hears it all the time: Four more years. That’s how long fans of his client, 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, tell him he has to keep her healthy so that a one-term President Donald Trump doesn’t get to name the liberal Justice’s replacement on the Supreme Court. Johnson’s response: Why just four years? Why not 14? ... And it’s resulted in a new workout book written by Johnson, out Wednesday: “The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong ... and You Can Too!” Johnson said he hopes the book will show people: “You’re never too old to do something.” Ginsburg started working out with Johnson in 1999 after being treated for colorectal cancer. As Ginsburg tells the story, her husband told her she looked “like a survivor of a concentration camp” and needed to do something to rebuild her strength." [AP]

“The Closing: David Greenfield” By Will Parker: "Are you a local celebrity in Brooklyn? "Kids in the neighborhood collect business cards and, apparently, mine is very valuable, especially if they can get my autograph. They stop me all the time, ask for my card, and then trade them at school. I think you can get like five cards for one Greenfield, so that’s pretty cool."" [TRD]

SIGHTINGS -- Yehiel M Kalish tweets: "When Nancy Pelosi sits down next to you on the plane! Such a nice person. Took pictures and answered questions from passengers. Very leader like!" [Pic]

At Reserve Cut Kosher Steakhouse in NYC: "It was a pleasure having Donald J Trump Jr. dine with us." [Pic]

DESSERT: "Eating along the B line: Tasty, cheap eats on the Upper West Side" by Rachel Wharton: "Fine & Schapiro may have changed hands a few times since the Jewish deli opened in 1927, says current owner Eduard Taubes, but he’s made sure the place has stayed true to its Eastern European roots. Taubes, a Russian native who took over the reins in 1991, is a stickler for the details, making sure old cooks train new ones, that each table still gets cole slaw and pickles, and that the pastrami and corned beef for your “King Size” combo is both nicely fatty and sliced to order. Those are but a few of the New York City Jewish culinary traditions kept alive at Fine & Schapiro." [NYDailyNews]

BIRTHDAYS: Engineer, philanthropist, co-founder and former chairman of Qualcomm, Irwin M. Jacobs turns 84... US ambassador to Morocco, the first Jewish ambassador to an Arab country (1994-1998), he was the CEO of the One Voice Movement Foundation and Peaceworks LLC, Marc Ginsberg turns 67... Principal analyst at Kiernan Group Holdings, he is a homeland security and counterterrorism expert, Joshua B Sinai, Ph.D. turns 66... Founder of Dimension Films, former co-chairman of Miramax Films, and current head of the Weinstein Company after his brother Harvey was dismissed, Robert "Bob" Weinstein turns 63... Political strategist, organizer, activist, commentator and writer, he is the president of a consulting firm, the Economic Future Group, Jonathan Tasini turns 61... Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (2009-2014), he also held high level positions at the US Treasury during the Clinton administration (1997-2001), Gary Gensler turns 60... ESPN television host, sports reporter, and anchor, Rachel Nichols turns 44... Moscow-born journalist who emigrated to the US when she was 7 years old, she covers national security and foreign policy topics for The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe turns 35... Politico's White House reporter, Annie Karni turns 34 (h/ts Playbook)... VP of eCommerce at Israel365, Ayal Kellman turns 32... Founder of Coalesce Advisors and former president at Birthright Israel Foundation, David Fisher... Director of Development and Academic Programs at AEI, Suzanne Gershowitz...

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