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DRIVING THE WEEK: "U.S., Israel narrow differences for new talks on defense aid” by Patricia Zengerle and Dan Williams: “The United States and Israel have narrowed their differences over what could be decisive negotiations this week to seal a multibillion-dollar military aid package for Washington’s top Middle East ally, officials said on Monday. Raising hopes for removal of a key sticking point, Israel has signaled it may accept the Obama administration's demand that U.S. military funds, until now spent partly on Israeli arms, will eventually be spent entirely on U.S.-made weapons, according to congressional sources.” [Reuters]
“Israel-US military aid agreement to be signed this week” by Nahum Barnea: “As a result of the negotiations over military defense, the two sides mutually agreed that all of the additional anti-missile defense funding that the US Congress has allocated over the years would be included in the 10-year agreement. This brings the aid figure to approximately $3.7 billion a year.” [YNet]
Shmuel Rosner: “Was Israel wrong to drag its feet on the US aid package? Netanyahu, and Israel, lost an opportunity when the PM decided not to trade Iran for aid – Netanyahu and Israel lost nothing when the PM decided, after Iran was over, to wait a little longer before accepting the Obama deal.”[JewishJournal]
TRANSITION: Michael Oren appointed deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office and and head of public diplomacy: “Oren’s exact responsibilities remain unclear, but it appeared as though his function in public diplomacy will help support Netanyahu, who continues to serve as foreign minister, as well as communications and regional affairs minister.” [ToI]
KAFE KNESSET -- Media Fights in the Government -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: Netanyahu's media reforms and the political fights they ignite inside his coalition have been creating some peculiar circumstances for many Israeli journalists in recent weeks, as they find themselves covering their own colleagues and competitors. This morning was no different, with everyone discussing the jaw-dropping cover of the daily pro-Netanyahu paper "Israel Hayom," which was devoted almost entirely to an attack on Netanyahu's critics in the media and the political arena.
"Stop the hypocrisy," cried the headline, which was accompanied by quotes from a number of op-eds on the issue of Netanyahu's attempts to influence Israel's national broadcast authority. The quotes included attacks on just about every Netanyahu rival - from "leftists and elites in the media" to Jewish Home leaders ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked - who have accused Netanyahu and his loyalists in Likud of hurting Israeli democracy by working to weaken the independence of the media.
The Knesset's Economy Committee also discussed issues related to the media today, including the bill proposed by the government which will postpone the launch of Israel's new broadcast authority to April 2017. Right now, no one can tell when exactly the new authority will be launched, and under what conditions - with some speculating Netanyahu's loyalists in Likud are actually working to shut it down all together. One thing is certain, however: the combination of this political fight, together with the growing tension between Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett over the upcoming state comptroller's report on the 2014 Gaza war, guarantees a very hot rest-of-the-summer in Israeli politics.
PICK YOUR OP -- Ruth Margalit: "How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel’s Free Press"[NYTimes] David Keyes: "Benjamin Netanyahu’s Spokesman, on Press Freedom in Israel"[NYTimes] Liel Leibovitz: "Sorry, ‘New York Times,’ But Israel’s Press Is Doing Just Fine"[TabletMag]
New Israel Consul Gen. for New York Dani Dayan: "I hope to avoid two traps Israelis are sometimes tempted into. First, I don’t intend to ignore the elephant in the room: “The Conflict”, our long and seemingly interminable dispute with the Palestinians, and the heated discussion how it should be solved or managed... Preaching to the choir with its accompanying easy applause – the second trap - may be good for one’s ego, but I have always done my utmost to avoid it. Countries do not send senior envoys abroad to convince their supporters but rather the doubtful and the opponents." [HuffPost]
ISRAEL WEIGHS IN ON TRUMP: “Plan Like Trump’s Is ‘Great Mistake’ for U.S., Shimon Peres Says” by Michael Arnold: “Peres, Israel’s unfailingly internationalist former president, has a message for Donald Trump. “To suggest that America will disconnect her relations with NATO, that America will leave the whole field open to other countries -- in my judgment it’s a mistake,” Peres said. “A very great mistake.” Peres avoids naming Trump -- it wouldn’t be politic to comment on a U.S. election -- but offers oblique criticism when asked about the Republican nominee’s program. America “was the first superpower in history that did not take, but always gave,” he said. “Giving is wise: You create friends, and friends are the most profitable enterprise you can have, because to have enemies is very expensive and you waste money and you waste time. What for?"" [Bloomberg]
“Israel’s Magal Eyes Trump Wall, Boasting Gaza-Tested Smart Fence” by Jonathan Ferziger and Amy Teibel: “The Israeli company, which wrapped Gaza in a fence to prevent militant attacks, has helped construct barriers along the Egyptian and Jordanian frontiers. It’s now competing for the contract to build a wall on Kenya’s border with Somalia, Koursh, Magal’s chief executive officer, said. If Donald Trump makes it to the White House, Mexico could be next.” [Bloomberg]
Haim Saban talks to Israel’s Channel 10 -- on Hillary getting along with Netanyahu: “There are those who would say that those who are for two states and dividing Jerusalem are anti-Israel. In that case then, I’m anti-Israel. But the prime minister himself was clear on supporting two states for two peoples. The relations depend on both of them. But I’m very optimistic.”
On advice he’s given to Hillary: “I told her: ‘don’t shout. Why are you shouting all the time? It’s drilling a hole in my head. You can say the same thing without shouting, let Trump, that conman, shout. You don’t need to shout.’” [Forward; ToI] "Disney's Bob Iger Among Hosts of Hillary Clinton's August 22nd Fundraiser at Haim Saban's House" [HollywoodReporter]
"Clinton heads back to Hamptons for $33K-a-ticket fundraiser" by Mara Siegler: "Sources tell us that Loews Hotels CEO and New York Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch will host an event for the Democratic nominee at his gorgeous estate in Bridgehampton along with Rudin Management head Bill Rudin, charging a hefty $33,000 per head." [NYPost]
"Woody Johnson throwing pricey Hamptons fundraiser for Trump" by Bennett Marcus:"Howard Lorber, Peter Kalikow and financier Anthony Scaramucci are among bigwigs co-hosting the Aug. 13 soiree, where tickets will go for $10,000 and $25,000 apiece." [PageSix]
"Billionaires for Hillary" by Daniel Lippman: "It’s all a concerted effort to undercut one of Trump’s main campaign messages... Two weeks before the convention, Bloomberg spokesman Howard Wolfson received a call from Clinton aide Huma Abedin asking if the former mayor wanted to speak at the convention. Bloomberg thought it was “a little out of left field,” according to Wolfson, but after considering the surprising proposal, accepted and then wrote his speech and shared it with the campaign, which asked for only a few minor stylistic changes. As for Mark Cuban, he called Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta last Thursday about wanting to endorse her and had dinner about a month ago with Bill Clinton."[Politico]
"Alexandra Pelosi Muses on the Donors She Convinced to Talk Candidly in Her New Film" by Michael Grynbaum: "Alexandra Pelosi, the documentary filmmaker, was strolling the Democratic National Convention last week when she spotted Jonathan Soros, the liberal megadonor, down the hall. She leapt into a broom closet to avoid him. “I’m hiding!” she explained the next day, merrily re-enacting her acrobatics inside the lobby of the Le Meridien Hotel here. Mr. Soros will be among the subjects of Ms. Pelosi’s new film, “Meet the Donors: Does Money Talk?,” in which she convinced some of this country’s wealthiest political contributors to talk candidly about why they give." [NYTimes; DailyBeast]
IRAN DEAL: "Iran’s Top Leader Distances Himself from Nuclear Pact, Which He Once Supported" by Rick Gladstone: "In blunt remarks prominently featured in Iran’s state news media, the senior leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the talks that led to the nuclear agreement in July 2015 should be regarded as an instructive lesson on the dangers posed by interactions with governments he regards as enemies." [NYTimes]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel's taxman investigating 8,000 accounts at HSBC in Switzerland [Reuters] Billionaire investor Steve Cohen has a new mantra, and this is the guy enforcing it [BusinessInsider] Caesars sells Israeli Playtika gaming group to Chinese venture for $4.4bn [FinancialTimes;Bloomberg] A trading startup backed by George Soros and Peter Thiel just hit the reboot button[BusinessInsider]
STARTUP NATION: "Israel relaxes visa regime in bid to lure tech skills" by John Reed:"Israel is relaxing its visa regime in a bid to attract thousands of foreign high-tech workers and address a severe skills shortage that companies warn is imperilling a multibillion sector critical to the country’s economy. Eli Groner, director-general of Mr Netanyahu’s office, told the Financial Times that the rule change would see “thousands of permits” granted for highly trained programmers, engineers, mathematicians and others." [FinancialTimes] "Israel Tells Ultra-Orthodox Kids It’s OK to Skip Math, English" [Bloomberg] "It’s a new era for female Israeli entrepreneurs" [TechCrunch]
SPOTLIGHT: "Snapping up cheap spy tools, nations 'monitoring everyone'" by Frank Bajak & Jack Gillum: "It was a national scandal. News stories showed the agency had collected data on hundreds of influential Peruvians. Yet after last year's outrage, which forced out the prime minister and froze its intelligence-gathering, the spy service went ahead with a $22 million program capable of snooping on thousands of Peruvians at a time. The purchase from Israeli-American company Verint Systems, chronicled in documents obtained by The Associated Press, offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how easy it is for a country to purchase and install off-the-shelf surveillance equipment. The software allows governments to intercept voice calls, text messages and emails." [AP]
PROFILE: "Mose Katumbi, DRC's Best Shot at Democracy?" by Tracy Moran: "Well-dressed, articulate and easy on the eyes, Mose Katumbi is among the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s wealthiest men — and, some say, the former Belgian colony’s best chance at building a truly democratic republic in the near future. The problem? He’s stuck in Paris, having taken refuge there for medical treatment a few months ago. And while the man who aims to replace 15-year incumbent President Joseph Kabila plans to return to Kinshasa soon, there’s no guarantee he won’t go directly from the airport to jail. Born to a Congolese mother of royal Zambian descent and a Jewish Greek father, Katumbi, 51, grew up along the border of Zambia in the village of Kashobwe." [Ozy]
MEDIA WATCH: "Joshua Topolsky, Former Verge Editor, Raises Funding for Digital Media Venture" by Mike Shields: "Topolsky, who helped co-launch The Verge and most recently served as the top digital editor at Bloomberg, has raised $5 million to found The Outline, a new digital publication set to debut this fall. Mr. Topolsky is touting The Outline as something of the antidote to a rising crop of digital media brands that are reliant on social media distribution and, in his mind, are too focused on reaching massive user totals." [WSJ] h/t Ahron Fragin
BOOK PREVIEW: "Sheryl Sandberg leans into her next book, ‘Option B,’ about grieving and healing" by Kara Swisher: "Tentatively titled "Option B," a reference to a piece of advice she was given by a close friend after the untimely death of her husband David Goldberg, it has been co-written with well-known Wharton professor and author Adam Grant. The book includes research gathered by Grant, woven in with personal stories of all kinds of loss, including Sandberg’s own." [ReCode]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "Brooklyn Hospital’s Sale, Backed by de Blasio and Cuomo, Is Drawing Federal Scrutiny" by J. David Goodman & Susanne Craig: "A developer, Fortis Property Group, which had been favored by SUNY, bought the hospital, with the sale completed in 2015. Prosecutors are seeking information related to the sale and, in particular, communications between SUNY and top City Hall officials or those associated with the mayor’s nonprofit group, Campaign for One New York, about the hospital’s fate, according to the subpoena, dated July 14 and described by an official who had seen it." [NYTimes]
"Cops May Be Disciplined For Fake Traffic Stop Marriage Proposal Stunt" by Emma Whitford: "A trio of Queens police officers are reportedly facing scrutiny after they staged a fake traffic stop to help a man propose to his girlfriend in Far Rockaway this week. The officers pulled the young couple over on Wednesday and began to conduct a drug and weapon search, popping the trunk to reveal heart-shaped balloons and a massive bouquet. The Post reports that the officers were on duty during the proposal stunt, though the NYPD could not immediately confirm or deny this. According to the tabloid, Coriat's friend Yoel Tyrnauer set up the scheme, walking into the 101st Precinct and asking for the favor. Oppen told the Post that Tyrnauer is a volunteer with the Shomrim, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish volunteer neighborhood patrol group, but Tyrnauer denied any connection." [Gothamist; NYPost]
SPORTS BLINK: "Amar'e Stoudemire to play in Israel next season" by Ian Begley: "The 14-year veteran announced Monday that he has signed a two-year contract with Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem. As part of the agreement, Stoudemire will sell his shares in the club to Dr. Ori Allon, president and majority owner of Hapoel Jerusalem. Stoudemire and his family have traveled to Israel frequently, which Stoudemire said should make the transition easier. Stoudemire also went on a religious pilgrimage of sorts in the summer of 2010 to explore his "Hebrew roots," which he says exist through his mother Carrie. That factored into Stoudemire's decision to sign with Hapoel." [ESPN; USAToday]
BIRTHDAYS: Member of Knesset from 1959 through 2007, multiple terms as Prime Minister and then President of Israel from 2007 to 2014, Shimon Peres turns 93... National security reporter for The New York Times, Matthew Rosenberg turns 42...VP of Sales for Hearst Television, Eric Meyrowitz... Jerusalem born actor, who moved to the US as a child, and has appeared in over 400 TV episodes, Nehemiah Persoff turns 97... Actress best known for her 1999 "Pepsi Girl" role as a 7 year old, and later for subsequent teen roles, Hallie Kate Eisenberg turns 24... Nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, columnist for the Jewish Journal, author and public speaker, Dennis Prager turns 68... ATP professional tennis player (1983 to 1996), who was once ranked sixth best in the world, Aaron Krickstein turns 49... VP and General Counsel of Yeshiva University, Andrew ''Avi'' Lauer... Richard Siegel... CEO of Moishe House, David Cygielman (yesterday)... US Ambassador to Israel since 2011, Daniel B. Shapiro turned 47 yesterday...
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