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DRIVING THE DAY -- President Trump will meet at 1:00pm today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan. According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu is expected to present “concrete ideas” for fixing or canceling the Iranian nuclear agreement in both his meeting with Trump and his speech at the UN General Assembly tomorrow.
"Iran: The one issue Netanyahu wants to discuss with Trump" by Oren Liebermann: "The conversation itself will be private, but Netanyahu has made it very clear what he wants to discuss: Iran." [CNN]
-- “A White House official told Israel Hayom... that the meeting would "enhance the already strong and long-standing relationship between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu. It will touch on a variety of issues with a focus on Iran, and the president will reiterate the U.S.'s unwavering commitment to the State of Israel," he went on to say The issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace will also be addressed. The White House official told Israel Hayom that while the issue would not be the main focus of the bilateral meeting, efforts to achieve a peace deal were still underway.” [IsraelHayom; NYTimes]
SPOTTED YESTERDAY -- Jared Kushner, Amb. David Friedman and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Netanyahu for 2 hours and 15 minutes at The London NYC [Pic] An administration official described it as "just a casual hello meeting."
WEST WING MINDMELD: While the White House is feeling optimistic about the Israeli-Palestinian peace conversations, they are lowering expectations for the United Nations General Assembly meetings this week telling folks not to expect a lot of news to be made on the peace front. "President Trump's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu is set to focus on Iran and his meeting with President Abbas on Wednesday is more of a check-in and relationship builder. The White House understands each party will have to publicly speak to their bases and constituencies around the UNGA. The peace conversations are ongoing on a separate track and the peace delegation has never seen UNGA as a big moment. Next steps will be shared at an appropriate time."
KAFE KNESSET -- Making Amends -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu dedicated yesterday afternoon to patching up relations with Jewish leaders. First, he met with WJC president Ronald Lauder, marking the end of a lengthy silent treatment between these two. Lauder and Netanyahu used to be BFFs, but the relationship soured in recent years and even more in the past year. Lauder was questioned in Israel on one of Bibi's criminal investigations and Lauder, who is also close to President Trump, has been pushing his peace dreams on the past year, much to Netanyahu's chagrin. Kafe Knesset learned that Lauder recently flew out to Jordan to meet King Abdullah. According to a source close to Bibi, the meeting with Lauder was mostly about Jewish issues, meaning the suspended Kotel agreement and conversion bill, and was "positive and good." Kafe Knesset is still seeking a fly on the wall to get all of the juicy details. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
Netanyahu also met for over an hour yesterday with eight prominent Jewish leaders including the Conference of Presidents' Malcolm Hoenlein and Stephen Greenberg, AIPAC's Howard Kohr and Lillian Pinkus, JFNA's Michael Siegel and Richard Sandler, and AJC's John Shapiro and Jason Isaacson. Consul General Dani Dayan was also spotted leaving after the meeting. “The conversation dealt with the Iranian issue — both the nuclear issue and Syria and what impact it has on Israel,” the PMO’s said in a readout. The leaders “asked the Prime Minister to clarify to US Jewry what he was doing to create a united prayer platform." Hoenlein told us that the Prime Minister was very "forthcoming" in what he described as an "excellent" meeting. "The leaders came away with a better understanding of the issues," Hoenlein added. [Video]
“Ahead of UN meeting, Abbas prepares united Arab position” by Uri Savir: “According to the PLO official, Abbas will come in a positive spirit to meet with Trump... The PLO official also said that Ramallah will coordinate its next steps with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The idea is for Abbas to arrive to his meeting with Trump with a united Arab position, hoping to link progress on the Palestinian issue with progress on the anti-radical Islam and Iran issues. According to the official, Abbas will propose to Trump that senior Palestinian negotiators be dispatched to Washington to meet periodically with US officials and possibly with Israeli officials, so as to set a process in motion.” [Al-Monitor]
Hamas Says Ready to Hand Gaza to a Palestinian Unity Government: "Hamas has agreed to dissolve the administration that runs Gaza, it said on Sunday, a major step towards handing control of the enclave to a Palestinian unity government after a decade of bitter rivalry with President Mahmoud Abbas." [Reuters]
-- “Senior US officials have raised the possibility of announcing the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem as a penalty if Abbas uses his UN speech to attack the Trump administration.” [Newsweek]
"How Trump could save Palestinian statehood" by Jackson Diehl: "[David] Makovsky proposes a simple trade-off: Netanyahu stops building in areas beyond the West Bank fence, and Abbas stops paying off militants and their families. Yes, Trump’s envoys already pitched that and so far got nowhere. “But the good news,” Makovsky says, “is that neither leader wants to say ‘no’ to Trump.” If the president aims in his New York meetings at pragmatic results, rather than “the ultimate deal,” he might do some real good." [WashPost] Aaron David Miller comments "Sensible on peace process. But as Baker said to Assad if frog could fly it wouldn't drag its butt on ground"
IN THE SPOTLIGHT... "Trump, Nikki Haley to share U.S. spotlight at U.N. gathering" by Michelle Nichols: "Haley arrived at the 193-member world body in January pledging to “take names” of allies who did not have Washington’s back. Trump administration officials say the president, happy with her performance, views her as both tough and smart. He speaks regularly with Haley... A senior administration official... said that during a National Security Council meeting on Iran this month, Trump specifically asked Haley’s opinion about what strategy to pursue. “She gave her opinion, and he liked her point of view,” the official said... A senior Iranian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “This lady for some reason is very angry with Iran.”" [Reuters] When U.N. Envoy Nikki Haley Talks, Does President Trump Listen? [NYTimes]
“As UN meets, some ask, 'Where's Rex?'” by Nicole Gaouette: “"The perennial question will have to be asked again -- where's Rex?" said Aaron David Miller who says he's not a critic of Tillerson's, but that he's struck by "the strangeness of what's occurring." "If this were not a galaxy far, far away, if we were back on planet Earth, we would have the secretary of state leading on Arab-Israel issues, Iran, climate change and being the repository of responsibility for foreign policy," Miller said Trump "certainly hasn't empowered the secretary of state as the primary repository of responsibility for foreign policy," Miller said.” [CNN]
"How Rex Tillerson alienated every ally he needs” by Jonathan Swan: “Eliot Cohen, who founded an influential foreign policy network with Tillerson's top adviser Brian Hook, told me: "I think he really will go down as one of the worst secretaries of state we've had."” [Axios]
"Criticized by Trump, Iran nuclear deal faces tough scrutiny in U.N. talks" by John Irish and Parisa Hafezi: "French President Emmanuel Macron... will warn [Trump] that weakening or scrapping the deal would not only add fuel to a regional powder keg but deter North Korea from negotiating on its nuclear program... Macron will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani immediately after Trump to tell him that Tehran must play its role in not stoking American anger through its activities in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen." [Reuters] Iran Accuses U.S. of Sabotaging Nuclear Deal Ahead of U.N. Talks [WSJ]
“IAEA Received Info About Suspected Iranian Sites but Didn't Inspect Many of Them, Israel Says” by Barak Ravid: “The officials noted that almost all the suspected sites have not been visited by IAEA inspectors – either because of Iran’s refusal to grant entry or UN officials’ reluctance to confront Iran on the issue." [Haaretz]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- National Security Advisor Gen. H. R. McMaster on Fox News Sunday: "We know Iran has already violated parts of the agreement... The IAEA has identified and we've identified some of these breaches that Iran has then corrected. But what does that tell you about Iranian behavior? They’re not just walking up to the line on the agreement. They’re crossing the line at times. So, there has to be much more rigorous enforcement of the deal and we have to recognize the fundamental flaws in this deal. It is -- as the president said -- the worst deal."
"As Persian Gulf crisis persists, alarm in Washington deepens" by Karen DeYoung: "Tillerson has gone out of his way to bolster Qatar, calling demands by the Saudi-led quartet unreasonable and signing a new memorandum of understanding on terrorism financing with Doha. But the administration has left itself little leverage with the other side, unless Trump is willing to sacrifice arms sales and other Saudi-U.S. business deals, or temper his own fulsome praise for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the principal Saudi partner in the fight against Qatar." [WashPost]
ON THE HILL -- Democrats still on the fence about Anti-Boycott Act -- by Aaron Magid: Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) told Jewish Insider that he has not read yet the legislation, adding “I can’t lean one way or another until I read it.” Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) noted that he has yet to co-sponsor the bill. “I am going to continue to look at the bill. I have heard the concerns that people have and understand there is some efforts to have those concerns be addressed,” he explained. “I think that BDS and boycott tactics are ineffective and counterproductive.” Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) declined to elaborate about her view on the S.720 bill. Representative Joe Kennedy (D-MA) expressed caution about the legislation. “There are obviously free speech concerns and that is something that needs to be looked at. Any legislation that hasn’t begun committee process, there is always chances to try and improve that bill." [JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER: "Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia Inquiry" by Peter Baker and Ken Vogel: "[Ty] Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying [Donald] McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner." [NYTimes]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year [Bloomberg] Stewart Butterfield's Slack valued at $5bn after SoftBank joins fundraising [FT] China signs $300m deal to buy lab-grown meat from Israel in move welcomed by vegans [Independent] Is This Hotel an Airbnb Killer? Ian Schrager and his Public Hotel take on Airbnb with a property that boasts five bars but few unnecessary amenities [WSJ]
MEDIA WATCH: "Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale" by Sydney Ember: "[Jann] Wenner had long tried to remain an independent publisher in a business favoring size and breadth. But he acknowledged in an interview last week that the magazine he had nurtured would face a difficult, uncertain future on its own. “I love my job, I enjoy it, I’ve enjoyed it for a long time,” said Mr. Wenner, 71. But letting go, he added, was “just the smart thing to do." ... Both Jann and Gus Wenner, the president and chief operating officer of Wenner Media, said they intended to stay on at Rolling Stone. But they said they also recognized that the decision could ultimately be up to the new owner." [NYTimes]
“Trump’s divisive presidency reshapes a key part of his private business” by David A. Fahrenthold, Amy Brittain and Matea Gold: “In Florida this year, the president’s politics attracted a new client for one of his businesses. Steven M. Alembik, a conservative activist, is planning an $600-per-seat gala at the Mar-a-Lago Club. His logic: Trump helped Israel. So Alembik will help Trump in return. “He’s got Israel’s back,” Alembik said. “We’ve got his back.’” He expects 700 guests. That’s $420,000. In theory, Alembik said, any leftover proceeds will go to an Israeli charity called The Truth About Israel. But, Alembik said, Trump’s club will probably keep most of the money. Alembik was fine with the idea that he was putting money into the president’s pocket: “Yeah, and the other ones are taking money out of his pocket,” he said, meaning the charities that canceled after Charlottesville.” [WashPost]
Mark Zuckerberg and daughter Max celebrate Shabbat: "Father-of-two Mark Zuckerberg shared a sweet snapshot with daughter Max, 21 months, via Facebook Friday. “For shabbat tonight, we gave Max a kiddush cup that has been in our family for almost 100 years. Her great-great-grandfather Max got it after our family immigrated here and it has been passed down through our family ever since,” he captioned the photos." [Facebook]
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks penned an essay in the WSJ on the Challenge of Jewish Repentance: "Meaning comes not from systems of thought but from stories, and the Jewish story is among the most unusual of all. It tells us that God sought to make us His partners in the work of creation, but we repeatedly disappointed Him. Yet He never gives up. He forgives us time and again. The real religious mystery for Judaism is not our faith in God but God’s faith in us. This is not, as atheists and skeptics sometimes claim, a comforting fiction but quite the opposite. Judaism is God’s call to human responsibility, to create a world that is a worthy home for His presence. That is why Jews are so often to be found as doctors fighting disease, economists fighting poverty, lawyers fighting injustice, teachers fighting ignorance and therapists fighting depression and despair." [WSJ]
“Amid excitement and suspicion, Bahraini prince visits Museum of Tolerance” by Benjamin Oreskes: “Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa, the son of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, and a large entourage, jostled their way through a rushed tour of the Museum of Tolerance. It was led by the museum’s founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier Hier, who delivered a benediction at President Trump’s inauguration, said he visited the king’s palace in February. The two bonded over a shared appreciation of Frank Sinatra, and Hier said he was heartened by the king’s warming stance toward Israel. He said that while staying at the Four Seasons hotel, he wore his yarmulke and people did not bat an eye. “People didn’t give us a second look,” he said." [LATimes]
"The Nazi Sites of Los Angeles" by Dana Goodyear: "The first Nazi rally in Los Angeles took place in the summer of 1933, a few months into Adolph Hitler’s chancellorship, at a downtown biergarten nicknamed the Brown House, after the Nazi Party’s offices in Munich. “Today people are marching and saying, ‘Jews will not replace us,’ ” Steve Ross, the author of a forthcoming book, “Hitler in Los Angeles,” which documents the rise of anti-Semitic hate groups and a covert Jewish-led resistance, said the other day. “In the thirties, they’re saying, ‘Kill the Jews.’ All it takes is one crazy person. People say, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but it is happening here. Once you have the Fascist takeover of the government, all the other things can happen.”" [NewYorker]
"The Holocaust Museum Sought Lessons on Syria. What It Got Was a Political Backlash" by Sopan Deb and Max Fisher: "Leon Wieseltier, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the former literary editor of The New Republic, is among the critics of both the study’s findings and its publication. He said the museum did the right thing by pulling it... Another member, Elliott Abrams, a leading conservative foreign policy expert and former museum board member, said he learned about it the day before it was posted. Mr. Abrams said he called Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum’s director, to criticize its framing and warn her about a potential backlash. “I don’t think I was the first person,” said Mr. Abrams... Mr. Abrams added that he had not asked the museum to pull the study and was unaware of who had... Menachem Z. Rosensaft, who was appointed as a museum trustee by President Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama, said that he learned of the report after it was published, and understood the decision to pull it." [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "These handicapped New Yorkers are behind hundreds of lawsuits" by Melkorka Licea: "Zoltan Hirsch, 37, a double amputee from Brooklyn, is hell on wheels for those who fail to make their establishments wheelchair accessible. Since 2010, he has filed suit against 195 businesses ranging from a Soho eyeglass shop to Brooklyn bodegas to a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant." [NYPost]
"Saban clinic celebrating 50 years of free medical care in LA" by Denise Dador: "It's been a place for anyone who needs medical care to get help for more than 50 years. As they celebrate this anniversary, the mission of the Saban Community Clinic in Los Angeles remains the same: to keep its doors open to all, regardless of ability to pay." [ABC7]
BIRTHDAYS: Business executive who served as co-CEO of SAP (2008-2010) and CEO of Hewlett-Packard (2010-2011), Léo Apotheker turns 64... Harvard Professor of Psychology, specializing in visual cognition and psycholinguistics, Steven Pinker turns 63... Executive director of the Los Angeles Westside Jewish Community Center since 2004, Brian Greene turns 61... One of the earliest Israeli tech entrepreneurs, he is best known for starting Aladdin Knowledge Systems in 1985, he is on multiple tech and non-profit boards, Yanki Margalit turns 55... A leader in the South Carolina Democratic Party, a pro-Israel activist, he was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives (2006-2014), Bakari Sellers turns 33... Professional poker player whose total career live tournament winnings exceed $10 million, Nick Schulman turns 33... New Jersey native, Aaron Kaplowitz turns 33... Special Assistant to US Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), he was previously an assistant director in AIPAC's Chicago office, Zak Sawyer... Field reporter for the Washington Nationals on MASN, Dan Kolko... International Media Spokesman for the Jewish Agency, Avi Mayer... Kathy Wolf...
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