Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: September 5, 2018

Haim Saban and Paul Singer host bipartisan NYC dinner with the Trump peace team

Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, left, shakes hands with billionaire Haim Saban, chairmand and chief executive officer of Saban Capital Group Inc., during the Brookings Saban Forum in Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg

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EXCLUSIVE — Haim Saban and Paul Singer hosted a dinner with the Trump peace team last night: Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, Haim Saban and Paul Singer convened a private dinner on Tuesday evening in New York City featuring U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Jared Kushner, and Jason Greenblatt. The kosher-catered dinner, held in a private room at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side, brought together a politically diverse group of twenty Jewish business and communal leaders.

According to sources familiar with the event, the gathering was an opportunity for the senior administration officials to discuss their emerging plans for an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It isn’t clear what, if any, specific details from their plans were shared during the two-hour-long dinner. However, winning support from influential leaders across the political spectrum has been a priority for the administration.

Attendees at Saban and Singer’s dinner included foreign policy experts Elliott Abrams and Martin Indyk, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, former Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg, Start-Up Nation author Dan Senor, Israel Policy Forum leaders Charles Bronfman and Susie Gelman, Tikvah’s Roger Hertog, former New York Observer editor Ken Kurson, Guess Jeans’ Maurice Marciano, Ira Rennert, Bob Book, and former Conference of Presidents’ Chair Jim Tisch. [JewishInsider



Earlier on Tuesday, Haley told reporters at the United Nations that the timing of the peace rollout is “getting close” adding, “I have read the plan. It is thoroughly done. It is well-thought-out from both sides — the Palestinians and the Israelis.” 

Also on Tuesday, The State Department denied a report that Trump sought a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. “The press report that President Trump requested a meeting with President Abbas is untrue and misleading,” State Department Spokesperson Edgar Vasquez said in a statement. According to a report from Hadashot TV News, Abbas sent Trump a list of demands, including ‘significant diplomatic gestures’ and the dismissal of Greenblatt and Jared Kushner from the Middle East negotiation team.

Video — Palestinians burn photos of Trump in front of the American House in Ramallah [YouTube]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — U.S. Ambassador David Friedman during a Rosh Hashanah toast at his residence in Herzliya: "Since 1994, the United States has thrown more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Without minimizing the importance of medical treatment and quality education for children — and we don’t minimize that, not even for a minute — we found that these expenditures were bringing the region no closer to peace or stability, not even by a millimeter." [Video]

UNGA — Trump Plans to Take Aim at Iran in U.N. Session — by Michael Schwirtz: "President Trump plans to preside over a session of the United Nations Security Council this month “to address Iran’s violations of international law” and press world leaders to adopt a more assertive approach to the country... The decision raises the possibility of a face-to-face confrontation between the president and Iranian officials, perhaps even President Hassan Rouhani, who according to United Nations protocol would be invited to participate in the session." [NYTimes; Bloomberg

— "Trump isn’t seeking a Council resolution or statement, but rather an opportunity to openly discuss what the U.S. calls Iran’s “violations of international law” and its regional policies... By personally hosting a debate on Iran, Mr. Trump will elevate a sidelined Council issue to a major event." [WSJ

Israel says it struck Iranian targets in Syria 200 times in last two years — by Dan Williams: "Israel has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday... According to regional sources, Israel began carrying out military strikes in Syria in 2013 against suspected arms transfers and deployments by Iranian forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies." [Reuters

TOP TALKER — Gary Cohn and Ivanka Trump are among those featured in the first reported excerpts of Bob Woodward's upcoming book titled Fear: Trump in the White House.

When Cohn took action 'to protect the country': "Former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn saw a draft letter he considered dangerous to national security on the Oval Office desk. The letter would have withdrawn the US from a critical trade agreement with South Korea. Trump's aides feared the fallout could jeopardize a top-secret national security program: the ability to detect a North Korean missile launch within just seven seconds... "I stole it off his desk," Cohn told an associate. "I wouldn't let him see it. He's never going to see that document. Got to protect the country." [CNN

— "Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Cohn, who is Jewish, was especially shaken when one of his daughters found a swastika on her college dorm room... When Cohn met with Trump to deliver his resignation letter after Charlottesville, the president told him, “This is treason,” and persuaded his economic adviser to stay on." [WashPost

Ivanka Trump, when told she was a 'staffer' by Steve Bannon: “I’m not a staffer! ... I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter and I’m never going to be a staffer.” [WashPost]

Zeke Miller"In Woodward book (pp 83): "Mattis was worried about Iranian expansion. At one point he later referred to 'those idiot raghead mullahs.'" 

Trump wanted to kill Bashar al-Assad after chemical attack: “Let’s f–king kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the f–king lot of them,” Trump said... [James] Mattis told the president that he’d get right on it. But after hanging up, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” [NYPost]

— Israeli minister: no knowledge of Trump ordering Assad killed: "I do not know of any such instruction. He (Trump) is also denying it, by the way," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM. "In any event, what can be said is that in the framework of the coordination between the United States and Israel ... the subject of the Syrian regime is certainly part of the discussions. Israel did not take a decision to topple Assad." [YahooNews]

Where Will the Trump Investigations Go Next? — by Adam Davidson: "The one person who likely knew as much or more than [Allen] Weisselberg about recent business, aside from Trump himself, is Ivanka—“she knows a million times more than Don, Jr.,” my source said. Ivanka personally handled many of the most problematic deals." 

"Most of the dozen or so lawyers who work in Trump headquarters spend most of their time doing routine legal work... Jason Greenblatt... may be an exception; he may know a fair bit about Trump’s more troubling deals. Greenblatt’s rise came just as the Trump Organization was in the early stages of its frenzy of overseas dealmaking with people who were convicted of crimes or whose past deals showed potential signs of money laundering, sanctions violations, and other financial crimes. Greenblatt, several Trump Organization lawyers told me, was responsible for conducting due diligence on partners." [NewYorker]

Michael Cohen Prayed With Al Sharpton at Breakfast. But Other Democrats Stay Away — by Maggie Haberman: "The Rev. Al Sharpton sat at a table at the Loews Regency hotel on Park Avenue one morning last week, his shoulders hunched as he prayed with an unlikely dining companion: Michael D. Cohen. Mr. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, had asked Mr. Sharpton to meet him for breakfast not long after he pleaded guilty in a federal court in Manhattan to an array of charges. “He seemed to be resolved that he was facing some time,” Mr. Sharpton said of his second meeting with Mr. Cohen in recent months. “He even asked me to pray with him, and we did at the table.” [NYTimes

SCOTUS WATCH — A Kavanaugh Supporter Was Accused of Making a White Power Symbol. She's a Descendent of Holocaust Survivors — by Mahita Gajanan: "A former White House staffer was accused by some on Twitter of making a white supremacist symbol during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday — causing her husband to publicly defend her and point out that she is Jewish, Mexican-American and the descendant of Holocaust survivors. The online furor about Zina Gelman Bash’s alleged hand symbol spread on Twitter Tuesday — despite attempts by supporters and journalists to point out her heritage." [Time

RAHM STEPS DOWN — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he won't run for re-election next year — by Bill Ruthhart: "Pugnacious and ever confident, Rahm Emanuel never has been one to back away from a political fight. But on Tuesday, he did just that, abruptly dropping a bid for a third term as Chicago’s mayor... In an interview, the mayor described his personal and professional lives as two planes preparing to land on separate runways, making the timing right to step away from public life... “I’ve decided not to seek re-election,” said Emanuel, who took office as Chicago’s first Jewish mayor in 2011.” [ChicagoTribune

In an emotional speech — at times pausing to hold back tears — Emanuel also reflected on his Jewish background: "I want to thank my grandfather, who at the age of 13 took an enormous chance — a century ago — immigrating here from Eastern Europe to flee the pogroms prosecuting Jews to meet a third cousin he did not know, in a city whose name he could not pronounce. In four Congressional runs, on the north and northwest sides of Chicago, and in two races for mayor, you the people of Chicago and on the north side cast aside old history and voted for a Jewish kid with the middle name Israel. I will always be profoundly grateful for that, and what it means to my family." [Video]

David Axelrod, who served alongside Emanuel in the Obama White House, tells the Chicago SunTimes: "I wasn’t shocked by his decision. He didn’t make this decision lightly... Rahm has been considering other things in life beyond this job. But I don’t think he mapped out his next steps,” Axelrod said. “I know he’ll be in great demand. But he’s not in a hurry to figure it out." [ChicagoSunTimes]

Rabbi Jack Moline, the Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance and described as Rahm's rabbi, tells us... "Rahm told me when he decided to run eight years ago that he would serve two terms and out. I know he has gone back and forth on continuing, but if he made this decision it is because it is what is best for the city he loves. He is a young man in political years. I am certain there is, at least, one more chapter left, and I am certain it will be something in which he is the agent of change for the better."

"My experience with Rahm is that he is energized by challenges and has no interest in honorific positions. In fact, one of the people he most admired was Shimon Peres who made a huge impression on him as President of Israel with his energy and vision. My hope for my friend is that he will take some time for himself. My hope for the guy I admire is that once he does that, he gets back in the game." 

ANOTHER PRIMARY UPSET — Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley scored a stunning upset last night in Massachusetts' 7th Congressional District, defeating 10-term Rep. Michael Capuano. Pressley is poised to become the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts in November, especially as there are no Republican candidates in the race.

Pressley has drawn comparisons to House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who ousted veteran Congressman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District. But unlike Ocasio-Cortez — who supported her candidacy — Pressley is more aligned with the Democratic Party establishment. Less known are her views on Israel. In the primary, Pressley refused to take a position on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. 

Alex Goldstein, former campaign press secretary for Gov. Deval Patrick and a senior advisor to Pressley, told us by text message... "I am deeply humbled to have been a small part of this special campaign and to work with an extraordinary leader like Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. Since day one, Councilor Pressley ran a campaign focused on addressing the systemic and entrenched inequalities of the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District that have left far too many people behind for far too long. It’s a great night for the Commonwealth. L’shana tova to all." 

Bernie Sanders tees off on Trump in Labor Day visit to key presidential primary state — by Paul Steinhauser: "Sanders' son, Levi, a New Hampshire resident, is one of 11 Democrats currently running for the open congressional seat in the state's 1st District. However, the elder Sanders has stayed neutral in the race and has refrained from endorsing his son... Still, the senator did give his son a very quick shout-out near the beginning of the speech, saying, "Let me also thank my son Levi, who is here. Levi, stand up." [FoxNews

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Sheryl Sandberg’s New Job Is to Fix Facebook’s Reputation—and Her Own — by Betsy Morris: "Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg... has told people the delayed response was one of the company’s biggest mistakes ever. But not the only one. While the technology platform designed and overseen by Mr. Zuckerberg is also to blame for some of Facebook’s challenges of late, units under Ms. Sandberg’s control failed to respond to mounting signs of trouble... Now Ms. Sandberg must fix the mistakes. Urged by his board to be more proactive, Mr. Zuckerberg quietly asked her to lead the company’s efforts to identify and prevent future blowups on the platform. The new job, insiders say, is at least as challenging as the company’s transition to mobile several years ago, which was late and rocky. Ms. Sandberg’s role is likely to be complex, expensive and thankless, people close to the company say, with any failures very public.

"Ms. Sandberg will face her first extended questioning about many of the issues surrounding Facebook on Wednesday, when she is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill about matters regarding foreign interference." [WSJ

Getaroom Sold to Private Equity Firm Court Square Capital Partners — by Dennis Schaal: "Getaroom President Bob Diener told Skift Tuesday that he and his business partner for the past 35 years, Getaroom CEO Dave Litman, still maintain a substantial minority stake in Getaroom, and sold the larger stake to help the company reach the next level, including accelerating international expansion. Diener and LItman, former college roommates, co-founded Hotels.com in 1991, and sold a majority stake in that company in 1999 to USA Networks." [Skift]

Israel's Leumi stake sale wraps up bank privatisations: "Israel has sold off almost all of its remaining stake in Leumi, the country’s last bank to be fully privatised, for close to 1.9 billion shekels ($525 million). “The era of state holdings in the banks’ shares is over,” Israel’s Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu said in a statement on Wednesday." [Reuters]

Yuval Noah Harari writes... "Why Technology Favors Tyranny: Nationalization of data by governments could offer one solution; it would certainly curb the power of big corporations. But history suggests that we are not necessarily better off in the hands of overmighty governments... If you find these prospects alarming—if you dislike the idea of living in a digital dictatorship or some similarly degraded form of society—then the most important contribution you can make is to find ways to prevent too much data from being concentrated in too few hands." [TheAtlantic

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Yuval Noah Harari discussed his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century in a conversation with Bari Weiss at Times Talks, a New York Times series. [Video]

INBOX — The Charles Bronfman Prize announced yesterday that Amy Bach, Founder and Executive Director of Measures for Justice, as its 2018 recipient. Measures for Justice is the first organization to publicly measure how the entire criminal justice system is performing in all counties across the United States by collecting, analyzing and comparing county-level data. The Charles Bronfman Prize is an annual award of $100,000 presented to a humanitarian under 50 whose innovative work informed by Jewish values has significantly improved the world. 

ACROSS THE POND — Labour adopts IHRA antisemitism definition in full — by Dan Sabbagh: “Labour’s ruling body has agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in full after a tense meeting in which an accompanying clarification put forward by Jeremy Corbyn was not accepted. The party leader withdrew his additional statement when it was clear it could not be agreed upon and instead, after a discussion that overran its allotted time by several hours, the national executive committee (NEC) approved the release of brief remarks emphasising freedom of expression on Israel and the rights of Palestinians.” [TheGuardian]

YouTube Flags Video Featuring Holocaust Survivor As 'Inappropriate Or Offensive To Some Audiences' — by Paul Miller: "A newly-released video featuring a Holocaust survivor was flagged by social media giant YouTube as "inappropriate or offensive to some audiences." The nearly three-minute video, released on August 28, bore the designation for one week. Google, YouTube’s parent company, finally removed the label only after an official appeal and a press inquiry. The video, produced by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), highlights [Holocaust survivor Irving] Roth’s work with the largest pro-Israel organization in America. In the video, Roth is seen showing young people — mainly college students — the death camps in Poland." [DailyWire

A Daily Caller Editor Wrote for an ‘Alt-Right’ Website Using a Pseudonym — by Rosie Gray: "Scott Greer, an editor and columnist at the Caller, also wrote as “Michael McGregor” for Radix Journal, the publication associated with the “alt-right” figure Richard Spencer." [TheAtlantic]

A Teacher Made a Hitler Joke in the Classroom. It Tore the School Apart — by Jonathan Mahler: "Ben Frisch opened his Feb. 14 pre-calculus class at Friends Seminary... He then introduced the day’s lesson, involving the calculating of angles of depression and elevation. Frisch straightened out his right arm to demonstrate. He lowered it down and then raised it up. Glancing at his arm, now fully extended and pointing slightly upward, Frisch realized something: He was inadvertently pantomiming the Nazi salute. Frisch is a practicing Quaker, but his father was Jewish, and two of his great-grandmothers were killed at Auschwitz. Mortified, he searched for some way to defuse the awkwardness of the moment. And then he said it: “Heil Hitler!”

"A few students gasped; others exchanged surprised looks or laughed nervously. Instantly aware that his stab at Mel Brooks-style parody hadn’t landed, Frisch lowered his arm and tried to explain himself, telling his students that it used to be common to make fun of Nazis. Only recently, he said, had such jokes become taboo. He resumed the lesson, and the weird moment seemed to be over.” [NYTimesMag

Anthony Scaramucci explains the annual Day of Jewish Unity: "John McCain's comes just weeks before the annual Day of Jewish Unity, which is celebrated each year in memory of a rabbi known as the Chofetz Chaim. Acheinu, the outreach arm of the Jewish education organization Dirshu, created this day originally to unify the Jewish people but is also asking people of all faiths worldwide to unite in prayer for global peace and stability... With such a difficult past and a disconcerting present, I completely understand why a Jewish organization feels we need a day to pray in unity for peace." [TheHill

SPORTS BLINK: Ahmadinejad’s Quarterback Sneak — by Steve Inskeep: "Iran’s former president marked the coming pro-football season on Monday, writing on Twitter that “unfortunately once again [Colin Kaepernick] is not on an NFL roster. Even though he is one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.” This was a surprise. In a decade of reporting on and visiting Iran, I had missed Ahmadinejad’s interest in American football... It’s conceivable that Ahmadinejad has become an American sports fan... Whataboutism is the most straightforward way to understand Ahmadinejad’s NFL tweet. In effect he is saying, “See? You Americans punish dissent, too.” [TheAtlantic]

DESSERT — Matzo Balls and Chiles? It’s Rosh Hashana With the Flavors of Mexico — by Priya Krishna: "In the late 1920s, the chef Fany Gerson’s grandparents, Jewish and facing persecution, fled Ukraine and boarded boats bound for New York City. But they weren't able to immigrate through Ellis Island, for reasons they can't quite remember — perhaps because of financial turmoil preceding the 1929 stock market crash, or because of limits set a few years earlier on the number of immigrants from certain countries. So they settled in the closest country that would take them: Mexico. ... over the years, the family’s colorful surroundings crept into those monochromatic Jewish dishes." [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Long-time member of Knesset (1977-2002), he is a law professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Amnon Rubinstein turns 87... Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, she was appointed in 1979, took senior status in 2014 and inactive status in 2016, Judge Dolores Korman Sloviter turns 86... Author, educator, and activist, best known for his books promoting public education, Jonathan Kozol turns 82... Catherine Nelson turns 70... Rabbi of Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, New Jersey since 1979 and Rosh Yeshiva of the Torah Academy of Bergen County since 1990, Rabbi Yosef Adler turns 67... Judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, JoAnne Fishman Kloppenburg turns 65... New York-based real estate developer, Jacob Frydman turns 61... Russian investigative journalist, she is active in the Russian Jewish Congress, Yevgenia Albats turns 60... Retired Major General in the IDF and the former head of its Manpower Directorate, she was the first woman to be made Major General (the IDF's second highest rank), Orna Barbivai turns 56...

Chairman of the Board of Investment Canada, a government agency promoting foreign investment into Canada, he was Chairman of Cirque du Soleil, Mitch Garber turns 54... Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and a senior editor at Reason magazine, Jacob Z. Sullum turns 53... Entrepreneur and investor, engaged in numerous transactions in the fields of education, Internet marketing and financial services, he is the chairman of Mentored, an education technology platform, Eric Aroesty turns 48... DC-based reporter at Bloomberg, Holly Rosenkrantz turns 48... Born in the Soviet Union, made aliyah in 1998, she is a member of the Knesset since 2016 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Yulia Malinovsky turns 43... Director in the DC office of Baron Public Affairs LLC, Jeremy Furchtgott turns 27... Mobile strategist at Leanplum, Anthony Klor turns 25... Shoshanna Liebman... Stu Shloss...