Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: September 25, 2017

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S Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks on as she speaks to first year Georgetown University law students in Washington, DC on September 20, 2017.
S Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks on as she speaks to first year Georgetown University law students in Washington, DC on September 20, 2017. Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

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JI EXCLUSIVE: White House explains redirected funds to Palestinians -- by Aaron Magid: A White House official confirmed Jewish Insider’s report from Wednesday that the Trump administration had quietly transferred an additional $20 million to Palestinian wastewater programs after the funds were frozen in an Egyptian economic aid package. “The State Department came to us and said they had identified this particular piece of money and these were, if I recall, FY2016 (Fiscal Year) funds that disappear at the end of September,” the White House official told Jewish Insider last week.

However, the Trump administration source objected to an assertion made by a Congressional aide that the Trump administration was rushing to move the funds to West Bank water programs before the Taylor Force Act could be passed. “There was a particular window for this so that the money would be used. TFA (Taylor Force Act) would have no impact on this even if they passed it tomorrow. There wasn’t an ‘oh my gosh, let’s get this money before Taylor Force passes,’” the White House official added. The official said that there were numerous Palestinian projects that the U.S. would like to support. “But when you have terrorists stabbing American citizens in the back and tax paying dollars used to support these people, the President said very clearly to President Abbas in both Washington and Bethlehem in May, this is intolerable to us.”

On a separate note, the White House official declined to opine regarding an announcement from Hamas last week that the U.S. designated terror group would dissolve the Gaza administrative committee and move towards a unity government. “Our feeling is very much wait and see. There have been lots of attempts at this before,” the White House official noted. “We appreciate the Egyptians (mediation) efforts to try and come to some resolution to do this." [JewishInsider]

“Trump Told Abbas: We're Working on New Peace Deal, but Need More Time to Formulate It” by Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury: “Palestinian and U.S. sources said Trump requested that Abbas give him time to draft the proposal and avoid taking any measures that would impede the process Senior Palestinian figures said the Palestinian Authority agreed to wait for the U.S. proposal to be presented before taking any significant diplomatic steps.” [Haaretz]

KAFE KNESSET -- Trump’s mystery peace plan -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Jason Greenblatt is on his way back to Israel for another round of peace talks followed by a family Sukkot holiday, and the Israeli PM wanted to welcome him with a warm hug. Yesterday, Netanyahu convened the Security Cabinet for a three hour meeting, during which he briefed the ministers on his last trip to the US and his meeting with President Trump. According to a well-informed source, Netanyahu told the ministers he is interested in “pleasing” Greenblatt and the administration with new economic gestures. The PM specifically discussed a plan to build a new industrial zone near the city of Tulkarem and expanding the road to the West Bank city of Rawabi, but none of these plans were actually approved. Approvals have been postponed until further discussions.

Netanyahu also told the Security Cabinet that he decided to postpone by a week or two the upcoming meeting of the Civil Administration’s planning committee. The planning committee has several settlement construction projects on the agenda. The PM explained the rationale for the postponement “because we have no interest in annoying the friendly administration.” President Trump, Netanyahu added, is “determined to get the ultimate deal, and is putting a lot of weight and importance on the matter.” Netanyahu said he presented Israel’s positions to POTUS, and that Trump is preparing a plan. When one of the ministers asked what the plan is – Netanyahu declined to answer and said “I still don’t know.” On the Iranian issue and the future of the Iran deal, Netanyahu said he’s waiting for Amb. Ron Dermer to arrive in Israel, and that he would convene the Security Cabinet again ahead of the 15th of October, the decertification deadline. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

"How Trump can get Mideast peace talks back on track" by Dannis Ross: "The Saudis could be asked to announce that they will send a delegation to Israel to discuss common threats in the region and security assurances under the rubric of the Arab Peace Initiative. In return, Israel could announce that because of its commitment to two states for two peoples, it will not build outside the settlement blocs and will forswear sovereignty in the areas that are east of the security barrier." [NYDailyNews

PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Former Quartet Mideast envoy Tony Blair on The Global Politico podcast with Susan Glasser: "I think in relation to the peace process, there is an opportunity for this presidency, indeed for any presidency, to get an alliance between the state of Israel and the Arab nations, provided you can deal with and resolve the Palestinian issue in a fair way. But there is a greater willingness, I think, from the Arab world, to reach an agreement, and to move on, and to focus on those twin objectives: connected rule-based economies, religiously tolerant societies. There’s a great desire there particularly with the new leadership in the Middle East than there’s ever been, so I do think there’s a big opportunity there, and I think that the White House understands that, and the question is obviously how you implement it." [Politico]

IRAN DEAL: Trump points to Iran missile test in criticizing nuke deal: “Video of the test firing of a Khoramshahr medium-range ballistic missile aired Friday on Iran’s state TV Trump tweeted Saturday about the public unveiling of the missile: “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”” [AP

“Iran nuclear deal is best option, says Israeli general” by Anshel Pfeffer: “Uzi Eilam, 83, a retired brigadier-general who for a decade was director-general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said that while he had no doubt that Iran wanted to develop nuclear weapons the agreement signed in July 2015 was “the best of options”. “The most critical element is fissile material. When you don’t have fissile material you don’t have a nuclear bomb,” he told the Israeli news website Walla. “The agreement blocks Iran’s path to fissile material.”” [TheTimes

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on CNN with Fareed Zakaria: “Let me stress one thing that has been a myth here in the United States, and we need to dispel this myth. They say there is a sunset clause in the deal. There is no sunset clause. Iran has committed itself never to develop nuclear weapons, both as a member of the NPT and in the deal itself.” [Video

“Trump Has Created Leverage Against Iran. Now He Needs a Closer” by Eli Lake: “At this point Trump should consider appointing a special envoy for fixing the Iran deal It should be someone like John Bolton Unfortunately, Bolton has already made it clear that he opposes the nuclear deal altogether The ideal candidate to negotiate for the Trump administration would be an opponent of the original deal: That stance gives a negotiator credibility.” [BloombergView

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Kushner used private email to conduct White House business” by Josh Dawsey: ““Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business,” Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner, said in a statement... “Fewer than 100 emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account. These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.” Aides who have exchanged emails with Kushner on his private account include National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and spokesman Josh Raffel In some cases, those White House officials have emailed Kushner’s account first There is no indication that Kushner has shared any sensitive or classified material on his private account Aides say he prefers to call or text over using email.” [Politico

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “Enforcer or ‘choke point’? Kelly seeks to bring order to chaotic White House” by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker: “Kelly has required that Ivanka Trump go through him first when she wants to speak with her father about anything involving the administration, a requirement she has so far followed. In the run-up to the United Nations General Assembly in New York... a number of foreign governments and organizations reached out to her to set up meetings — all of which she ran by Kelly and his team before adding them to her schedule Other senior staffers — such as Reed Cordish and Chris Liddell of the Office of American Innovation, who both work with Jared Kushner... on long-term domestic policy initiatives — have more amorphous positions, and Kelly is trying to more clearly define their roles.” [WashPost

GARY’S STILL IN: "Yellen and Cohn Said to Be on Shortlist to Lead Federal Reserve” by Kate Kelly and Binyamin Appelbaum: “The White House has created a list of about a half-dozen candidates to be the next leader of the Federal Reserve, including its current chairwoman, Janet L. Yellen, and the president's chief economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn The list also includes Jerome H. Powell, a member of the Fed's board of governors; Kevin Warsh, a former Fed governor; and the Stanford University economist John B. Taylor Mr. Trump has deputized four officials to lead the selection process for the Fed's next chairman Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; two of Mr. Cohn's aides on the National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz and Andrew Olmem; and John DeStefano, the White House personnel director.” [NYTimes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT... GOP Funds Donald Trump’s Defense in Russia Probe With Help From a Handful of Wealthy People" by Rebecca Ballhaus: "In April, billionaire Len Blavatnik gave $12,700 to the RNC’s legal fund, on top of donations of about $200,000 to other RNC accounts. He also gave the legal fund $100,000 in 2016, according to FEC filings. The contribution from Mr. Blavatnik came during the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings of Russian meddling in the U.S. election... Mr. Blavatnik... is a longtime business partner of Viktor Vekselberg, who is one of the richest men in Russia and has close ties to the Kremlin." [WSJ

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: "Former US ambassador Dan Shapiro said set to testify in Netanyahu graft case" by Raoul Wootliff: "Shapiro will reportedly give testimony to Israeli police in the coming weeks... Netanyahu is said to have asked Shapiro and then-US secretary of state John Kerry in 2014 to intervene and arrange a long-term US visa for Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan." [ToI]

2020 WATCH: "Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sure sounds like a 2020 presidential candidate" by Aaron Blake: "Schultz spoke with The Washington Post at a job fair for young people on Wednesday... It wasn't difficult imagine him delivering the same words in a stump speech in Des Moines. "The worst thing that we all, whether we be businesspeople or private citizens — we should not be embracing indifference right now," Schultz said at the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative. "We have to be engaged, we've got to speak out, we've got to be involved, we gotta stand up for the things that we know are true. And I think the country, in many ways, is in need of a moral, a cultural and an economic transformation."" [WashPost

** 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: Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on Facebook [WashPost]  23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki explains the DNA testing company’s privacy protections [Recode] Dan Doctoroff on Rebuilding New York After 9/11 [Citylab]  How Israeli Expats In Silicon Valley Produce Winning Startups [Inc]

STARTUP NATION: "SAP is buying identity management firm Gigya for $350M" by Ingrid Lunden: "SAP, the German enterprise software giant... has acquired Gigya, a firm that helps online properties manage customer identities and profiles... (Gigya is based out of Mountain View, CA, but its R&D is based in Israel, and its founders are Israeli). Analytics firm Zirra also told TechCrunch that the company was valued at around $250 million in its last valuation... Gigya today manages some 1.3 billion customer identities across hundreds of sites." [TC

"Facebook wishes a happy Jewish New Years to a random group of users" by Kerry Flynn: "Some Facebook users were greeted with a "Happy New Year" message on the top of their News Feeds Wednesday and Thursday in celebration of Rosh Hashanah... It wasn't available to everyone, though, and some of the users saw it shared on Twitter that, nope, they weren't Jewish. Others said, at the very least, they never self-identified to Facebook that they were Jewish." [Mashable]

"Justice Ginsburg surprise speaker at Jewish new year service" by Jessica Gresko: "If you are a member of a minority group, particularly a minority group that has been picked on, you have empathy for others who are similarly situated," [Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg] said during about 20 minutes of answering questions from attorney Kenneth Feinberg... The service she attended was organized by Sixth & I, a historic synagogue... "The Jewish religion is an ethical religion. That is, we are taught to do right, to love mercy, do justice, not because there's gonna be any reward in heaven or punishment in hell. We live righteously because that's how people should live and not anticipating any award in the hereafter." [ABCNews]

"Jews around world concerned by far-right breakthrough in German election" by  by Francesco Guarascio and Andrea Shalal: "Early projections gave the AfD ((Alternative for Germany) 13.5 percent of the vote, allowing it to enter the Bundestag for the first time, as Germany’s third-biggest party. The far-right has not been represented in parliament since the 1950s... Ronald Lauder... called Chancellor Angela Merkel a “true friend of Israel and the Jewish people” and decried the AfD’s gains at a time when anti-Semitism was increasing across the globe." [Reuters]  German nationalists seek to allay fears; show cracks at top [AP]

"The Jewish Immigrants Who Helped the U.S. Take on Nazis" by Arthur Allen: "After being deployed to the front, the émigrés joined five-man interrogation and mobile radio teams that often were led by American-born officers... Some of the unit commanders were brazenly anti-Semitic. “Our captain wore his friendliness to Germans on his sleeve. We felt very uncomfortable,” recalled Ritchie Boy Henry Schwab in a 1996 interview... “The army policy was we were fighting a war against the Germans..." Gerald Bamberger, another Ritchie Boy, concurred: “The Holocaust at that time was not discussed. Not as an American soldier under those circumstances.” The Ritchie Boys, with great discipline and loyalty to the U.S. cause, were trained to ask questions of tactical value to the advancing U.S. armies. The fate of Europe’s Jews did not arise... During the post-WWII period, young German-born Jewish American troops like Henry Kissinger, Albert Rosenthal and Victor Brombert had more to offer Germany, and America’s objectives there, than the typical occupying troops." [Politico

"From Poland to Lithuania: A Writer’s Search for Her Jewish Past" by Charly Wilder: "With its cobbled streets and 19th-century rowhouses, Plock’s old Jewish district looks like a film set. Nearly all the remnants of its thriving Jewish community, which once made up nearly half the population, are long gone or repurposed beyond recognition... Nearly the entire population of Jonava was wiped out by World War II and the Holocaust; the current residents were brought in afterward from other parts of Lithuania and the Soviet Union, said Renate [Kilinskaite], many to build and staff the state-owned Achema factory. Today, most of the buildings in the Old Town look darkened and disused, remote from the postwar city built up around it." [NYTimes

"The World’s Largest Book Club" by Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs: "In her memoir, “If All the Seas Were Ink,” Literary agent Ilana Kurshan tells the story of how she recovered from her divorce, in part through daily study of the Talmud... For Ms. Kurshan, such study provided a kind of intellectual stimulation that distracted her from the sorrow of her divorce." [WSJ]

MEDIA WATCH: "Atlantic editor-in-chief talks career in journalism" by Jonathan Douglas: "What advice would you give to a student aspiring toward a career in journalism? "Don’t. Well, let me add to that. I discourage people from looking into journalism. Mine was a more stable era in journalism. It has to be your obsession. You’re never going to make a ton of money. It’s a very unstable business right now. So I discourage people. But if they keep coming back, two or three or four times, then we can talk."" [BrownDailyHerald]

COMING SOON: Gal Gadot to Host Saturday Night Live: "Gal Gadot, who played the female superhero in the box-office blockbuster (Wonder Woman), has been tapped to host Saturday Night Live, NBC announced Thursday... Gadot will host Oct. 7 with musical guest Sam Smith." [THR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: "In Central Park, Teaching Dogs to Sit (in Yiddish)" by Alix Strauss: "The class was organized by Workmen’s Circle, a progressive Jewish community and education nonprofit. “People want to teach their dog Yiddish,” said David Dossick, the event manager at the Circle... Steve Zelman, 69, from Sutton Place, Manhattan, was there with Ollie, his longhaired miniature dachshund to “meet some nice Jewish dogs,” he said. Edna Schwartz, also 69, came in from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, with Puma, her miniature poodle, for the training aspect. “My family would yell at us in Yiddish, so this reminds me of my childhood,” she said." [NYTimes

SPORTS BLINK -- Did Trump flip the bird at Robert Kraft? "Kraft said Sunday he was 'deeply disappointed' in the president who said 'disrespectful' players who don't stand for the national anthem should be fired. When asked about the jibe from Kraft, a strong supporter of Trump during his campaign, he appeared to brush it off saying: 'He has to take his ideas and go with what he wants.' ... But as he spoke to reporters, he chose to use his middle finger to sweep back his hair. And viewers on social media were quick to point out that the gesture looked an awful lot like the President of the United States was surreptitiously flipping his critic the bird." [DailyMail; Video

"Redskins players, owner link arms during anthem following Trump’s criticism" by Liz Clarke: "While most Raiders players remained seated for the playing of the anthem Sunday night, a majority of the Redskins stood, linking arms, with owner Dan Snyder joining them, flanked by cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Josh Norman." [WashPost]

Jason Kander tweets re NFL "Patriotism isn't about making everyone stand and salute the flag. Patriotism is about making this a country where everyone wants to." [Twitter

MAZEL TOV -- RYDER JONAH SHERMAN, son of Irene and Jake Sherman, was born Friday morning at 3:45am at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Northwest Washington. [Playbook]

BIRTHDAYS: Pioneering woman television anchor/host of Today, The View, 20/20 and the ABC Evening News, Barbara Walters (family name Abrahams) turns 88... CEO and Board Chairman of Budget Rent A Car (1968-1989), he is the former owner of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins where he won the Stanley Cup in 1992, Morris Belzberg turns 88... Member of the UK's House of Lords, expert on prison reform, Baroness Vivien Helen Stern turns 76... Former member of Knesset (1996-1999), he also served as Israel's ambassador to France (1992-1995) and Israel's ambassador to the the United Nations (1999-2002), Yehuda Lancry turns 70... Israeli television anchor/host and one of the most popular Israeli singers of all time, Yardena Arazi turns 66... Founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, a large enterprise cloud computing company, Marc Russell Benioff turns 53... Novelist, screenwriter, television producer and director, co-creator of the award-winning HBO series "Game of Thrones," David Benioff (born David Friedman, Benioff is his mother's maiden name) turns 47... Son and grandson of leading British rabbis, he has led congregations in London and Moscow and is presently the senior rabbi at the Beverly Hills Synagogue, Rabbi Pinchas Eliezer "Pini" Dunner turns 47... Bloomfield Hills, Michigan resident, Mary Elizabeth Aaron turns 47... Milwaukee-born member of the Wisconsin State Assembly (first elected in 2014), Jonathan Brostoff turns 34... Yanky Rodman...

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