Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: October 31, 2017

Rep. Rohrabacher defends association with Holocaust denier | Deutch, Lapid team up | Jewish Agency leaders try lobbying Israeli public

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File photo; Israeli politician Yair Lapid in Stockholm, August 2016.
File photo; Israeli politician Yair Lapid in Stockholm, August 2016.Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP

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ON THE HILL -- Rep. Rohrabacher defends association with Holocaust denier -- by JI's Aaron Magid: After the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) blasted Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) for reportedly “welcoming Charles Johnson to a meeting,” the California lawmaker penned a letter to the ADL where he “welcomed support” from the known Holocaust denier on areas of mutual agreement. "I strongly disagree with him on a number of topics, which happen to be those same beliefs you mention in your letter," Rohrabacher wrote. "That said, he also agrees with me on other very significant issues. I welcome his support on those issues of agreement and oppose this ideas on which we disagree." 

Rohrabacher asserted that Johnson arrived at the October 5 Capitol Hill meeting uninvited but “was allowed to sit in, only in the sense that no one said no and told him to go.” After receiving the California lawmaker’s letter, an ADL spokesman noted, “In the future, we hope that Rep. Rohrabacher will play a role to help ensure that Johnson, or anyone similarly associated with Holocaust denial, is excluded from future meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill.” [JewishInsider] Read Rohrabacher's letter to the ADL here [Scribd]

KAFE KNESSET -- Team Lapid-Deutch takes on the EU and Hezbollah -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: A week after Congress passed House Resolution 359, which calls on the EU to designate Hezbollah - in its entirety - as a terrorist organization, the bill's sponsor Representative Ted Deutch has joined forces with Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid for a transatlantic push on the matter. "Europe, believe Hezbollah, it is precisely the terrible terror organization it says it is," is the title of a joint article Lapid and Deutch authored yesterday in the Spanish El Pais and the Italian Corriere della Sera, two of the continent's most widely read newspapers. Both politicians have also sent similar letters to the 27 EU ambassadors in Israel and the US. "The step is overdue and now is time for action," they wrote, urging the EU to abandon the "false distinction" between the group’s military and political wing and to designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization subject to sanctions. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

"Israel blows up Gaza tunnel, killing 8 militants, including an Islamic Jihad commander" by Noga Tarnopolsky: "It’s a tale of two tunnels, and it augurs difficulties for the Palestinian unity agreement announced to international fanfare this month. One tunnel was dug straight from the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Islamist militia Hamas, into a southern Israeli community. The Israeli army blew it up early Monday, detonating it from within Israel using as-yet unidentified “advanced technology,” according to a statement made by the army."

"According to Israeli analysts, Israel chose a relatively restrained engagement because the tunnel was not directly linked to Hamas, an implacable foe. Late Monday, as quiet reigned, the military analyst Avi Issacharoff posted that “many people are breathing a sigh of relief this evening, both in Israel and in Gaza, including Hamas, because reports indicate the tunnel near Kissufim was controlled by Islamic Jihad, not Hamas. This reduced the possibility of escalation.”" [LATimes]

DRIVING THE DAY: "Jews of the Diaspora Bring Their Cause to the Israeli Public" by David Halbfinger: "On Tuesday, 120 of the Jewish Agency’s international board of governors plan to descend on the Knesset, meeting with dozens of Israeli legislators, including some members of the ultra-Orthodox parties, in what Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident who leads the Jewish Agency, called “our biggest lobbying effort ever.” “The problem is not just that the prime minister gave in to political pressure,” he said in an interview. “The ministers feel that they don’t have to pay a political price, and that’s because there’s not that much awareness” of the needs of non-Orthodox Jews... The lobbying day is to be followed by an advertising and media campaign, educational efforts in Israeli schools and trips for Israeli lawmakers and leaders to the United States “to give them a real-life glimpse of what and who we are,” said Rabbi [Rick] Jacobs." [NYTimes

"'Stop Throwing Us Crumbs’, non-Orthodox Jewish Leaders Tell Netanyahu’s Representative" by Judy Maltz: "Tzachi Hanegbi, deputy minister for regional cooperation and a close confidant of the prime minister, met with members of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, hoping to convince them of the need to make further compromises." [HaaretzNetanyahu confirms he will speak via satellite to Jewish Federation gathering [ToI]

Sen. Chuck Schumer in a video message on Twitter: "We have new challenges. The world changes rapidly. Weapons are quicker and more deadly. Hezbollah loads up rockets in Lebanon and nobody seems to do much about it... The Israeli-American relationship is strong, but needs to be strengthened further, particularly among the young people." [Video]

"Nigel Farage condemned over ‘Jewish lobby’ comment" by Daniel Sugarman: "Farage... took a call from someone... during a debate on Russian influence in last year’s US presidential election. “How come... no one really highlighting AIPAC and the Israeli lobby and their involvement in American politics and elections,” the caller asked. Mr Farage responded by saying Ahmed had made “a reasonable point.” He added... "They have a voice within American politics... But I don’t think anybody is suggesting that the Israeli government tried to affect the result of the American elections.” When the caller claimed Israel had Democrats and Republicans “in their pockets,” Mr Farage, the former leader of UKIP, responded: “In terms of money and influence they are a very powerful lobby." [TheJC]

"UK's Johnson says 1917 Jewish homeland declaration terms 'not fully realized'" by William James: "Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Monday that a key proviso of a 100-year old British declaration which laid the foundations for Israel had not been fully met, striking a sympathetic tone towards the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to travel to Britain on Thursday to meet his British counterpart Theresa May and Johnson for the anniversary of the Balfour declaration... In an article written for the Daily Telegraph newspaper... Johnson described himself as a “friend of Israel”, but also said he was “deeply moved by the suffering of those affected and dislodged by its birth.”" [Reuters]

REPORT: "Saudi pressure led to US thwarting Greater Jerusalem Bill" by Roi Kais: "The [Saudi Al-Watan] newspaper quoted a senior White House official who said Saudi diplomats demanded in talks with their American counterparts that breaks be slammed on the advancement of legislation seeking to connect a number of settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem... According to the official, Washington has the ability to stifle any move it believes could sabotage the renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians." [Ynet]  UAE officials apologize to Israel judo team following handshake snub [CNN]

--On Saturday, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner returned from an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia. The trip’s aims were not revealed, but close Trump associate Tom Barrack told Politico, “Jared has always been driven to try and solve the Israel-Palestinian dispute. The key to solving that dispute is Egypt. And the key to Egypt is Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.” [LATimes]

1600 PENN AVE: "Trump's top aides will skip Asia for tax push" by Jonathan Swan: "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, economic adviser Gary Cohn and Ivanka Trump will hold tax-reform events in crucial states and blue House districts held by Republicans and speak with national and regional media. Ivanka canceled meetings she had arranged in China and South Korea as part of the Asia trip. She's still visiting Japan, ahead of her father, to give a speech at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but will fly back over the weekend to begin the tax push." [Axios]

"A White House Story Reveals Shifting Stance on Tax Cuts for the Rich" by Jim Tankersley: "Earlier this month, in a meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Trump repeated his oft-told anecdote of a chat he had with his good friend Robert Kraft, the wealthy owner of the New England Patriots, in which Mr. Kraft implored him to cut taxes for the middle class but not the rich. Mr. Trump agreed with that notion, Democrats who attended the meeting said, and declared that his coming tax bill would be focused on the middle class and not on rich people like Mr. Trump... the Trump administration is shifting away from the president’s own words. They’re not saying the rich shouldn’t get any tax relief — they’re saying the rich deserve to get one." [NYTimes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: "Top campaign officials knew of Trump adviser’s outreach to Russia" by Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger: "Throughout the summer, [George] Papadopoulos met with foreign officials and gave interviews to media in other countries, sometimes describing Trump’s views on Putin or Russia. He told a group of researchers in Israel that Trump saw Putin as “a responsible actor and potential partner,” according to a column in the Jerusalem Post." [WashPost]  Trump Campaign Adviser Who Pled Guilty to Lying to FBI Has Surprising Ties to Israeli Settlers [Haaretz

STATE VISIT -- Gov. Walker meets with Israel’s Netanyahu: "Gov. Scott Walker... met with Netanyahu one-on-one in Jerusalem for an hour on Monday... They discussed issues facing Israel and how to bolster the relationship between the country and Wisconsin... Walker also participated Monday in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and a tree-planting ceremony at the Kennedy Peace Forest. Walker plans to visit Tel Aviv on Tuesday. He’ll take part in several events aimed at developing partnerships in the water technology and technology sectors." [AP]

** Good Tuesday 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: The Slow, Necessary Decline of Israeli Adtech [Calcalist]  Meet David Rosenblatt, the e-commerce CEO who’s not afraid of Amazon [Recode]  Jake Kassan's Watch Brand by and for Millennials [NYTimes]  The Reason Why Starbucks Coffee Sizes Aren’t Small, Medium, and Large: Howard Schultz wanted distinctive names” for the beverages to honor Italian heritage [ReadersDigest]

STARTUP NATION: "Samsung and SoftBank invest in Israeli lidar startup Innoviz Technologies" by Paul Sawers: "Innoviz Technologies, a startup that’s building solid-state lidar technology for autonomous cars, has extended its previously announced series B funding round to $73 million. Joining are Samsung Catalyst, an early stage VC fund from Samsung Electronics, and SoftBank Ventures Korea, an affiliate of SoftBank’s Korean holding company." [VentureBeat]

"Ex-Warner Music Head Edgar Bronfman Starts a VC Firm" by Sarah McBride: "[Edgar] Bronfman Jr., now a managing partner at New York-based private equity firm Accretive LLC, is starting a venture firm with veteran investor Daniel Leff. The new firm, Waverley Capital, aims to raise a debut fund of about $100 million, targeting media investments.... “There’s almost no money in Silicon Valley going toward media,” Bronfman said." [Bloomberg

"J-Rod! Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez on Love, Beauty, and Redemption" by Bethany McLean: "Today, A-Rod Corp is an investment firm focused on a broad array of industries, including real estate, sports and wellness, media, and entertainment. “I don’t have your traditional formal education,” he says. “Mine comes through reading and passion and grit and collecting a lot of information from my mentors. I’ve never been afraid to say, ‘I don’t know. Can you explain that to me?’ That’s echoed by hedge-fund billionaire Marc Lasry, who has invested with Rodriguez for the last decade. “What’s interesting about Alex is that he’s a sponge,” Lasry says. “He really wants to learn.” [VanityFair]

The Israeli entrepreneur who discovered Shabbat: "In the past two years, I have begun to observe Shabbat," WeWork founder [Adam] Neumann... told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper in an interview published Sunday. "During Shabbat I am completely cut off, there is no one to talk to, and I do not compromise about it,” he said. “At first it felt like a tough assignment, but it gives me time with my children, my wife, my friends... Shabbat arrives, we light candles, relax, friends come over, we eat a meal that we cooked beforehand. We are cut off from the rest of the world, but in reality connecting with each other. I spend more time than I ever did with my family and even phone and see my mother more. And the real magic is that the more I do it, the more successful the company is. Go figure."" [Arutz7; Kikar]

"Jewish Owned Ride Sharing Startup Strikes A Deal On ‘Shark Tank’" by Jenny Singer: "When the now 25 year-old Isaac Deutsch came to Zoli Honig in January 2015 with an idea for a free, electric, car-sharing service, Honig, now 29, told his friend, “You’re nuts! It’s not going to work.” But within one year the pair had launched WaiveCar, a service which allows users to locate a nearby electric car via an app and drive it for up to two hours for free, thanks to the paid advertisements on the car. On Sunday night's episode, in crisp black t-shirts and matching kippot, the WaiveCar creators pitched their company with the precocious charm of two Jewish Newsies fresh from a trip to Silicon Valley." [Forward]

"New tech, 3-D holograms preserve Holocaust survivor stories" by Don Babwin: "The interactive display is the latest version of an exhibit that’s been shown at a handful of sites including New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. But those exhibits were two-dimensional, with survivors appearing as they would on a movie or television screen. The exhibit (at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center) in Skokie marks the first time that the voice-recognition technology powering conversations with audiences has been married to 3-D holographic technology to tell survivors’ stories." [AP]

SPORTS BLINK: "How I Discovered My Cousin, the Dodger" by E. Randol Schoenberg: "Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson's mom, Shelly Cahn, has a remarkable Jewish background. Shelly’s paternal great-grandfather, Leopold Cahn, was born March 13, 1864, in San Francisco. Leopold’s grandparents came from Bouxwiller in Alsace, France, and have typical Jewish surnames from that region: Cahn, Loeb, Weyl and Bamberger. And on and on. Some people like to do crossword puzzles. I like to do genealogy." [JewishJournal]

BIRTHDAYS: Founding partner at Lanx Management, former President of AIPAC (2006-2010) and Chairman of the Orthodox Union, Howard E. (Tzvi) Friedman turns 52... Entrepreneur, bestselling author and philanthropist, founder of Pencils of Promise and MissionU, Adam Braun turns 34... Actor with a lengthy career in film, television and theatre, Ron Rifkin turns 78... British historian, born in Baghdad, emeritus professor of International Relations at Oxford, Avi Shlaim turns 72... Author, historian and journalist, formerly editor of The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus turns 62... Journalist and author, she is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has contributed articles to Vogue, Rolling Stone and Esquire, her 1998 book was made into the award-winning movie Adaptation (2002), Susan Orlean turns 62... Finance and real estate executive, managing partner of Arel Capital, a private equity real estate firm based in NYC, previously he was the chief investment officer of Gottex Fund Management, Richard Leibovitch turns 54... British lawyer who has served in many communal roles including as CEO of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (2005-2013) and COO of World ORT (2014-2015), Marc Jonathan (Jon) Benjamin turns 53... Global marketing campaign manager for PwC, Spencer Herbst turns 26... National Director for Progressive Engagement at AIPAC, Marilyn Rosenthal... Native of Pittsburgh, Masha Shollar...

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