Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: July 20, 2016

Why Kushner dropped Trump's Saudi conspiracy theory from platform | Bush network feeling 'betrayed' by Fleischer | Meet Ranan Steiger.

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Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law.Credit: Bloomberg
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CONVENTION SCENE -- "A Pop-Up Restaurant in Downtown Cleveland Brings Kosher Cuisine to the GOP Convention" by Yair Rosenberg: "From fried chicken to boneless ribs to bagels, a wide variety of kosher fare is available at a pop-up restaurant just minutes away from the Quicken Loans Arena, where the Republican National Convention is taking place. A joint project of the Chabad of Downtown Cleveland and the local Chef Dave’s catering service, the restaurant has become a hub for kosher-keeping delegates, aspiring political candidates, and an array of Jewish activists and journalists. At one table, you might find Yoni Appelbaum, the Washington bureau chief of The Atlantic, discussing anti-Trump efforts on the convention floor with New York congressional candidate Phil Rosenthal. In another corner, Israeli journalist Tal Schneider huddles with American Jewish correspondent Jacob Kornbluh. (Jared and Ivanka Trump, however, have yet to be spotted.)” [TabletMag]

"Sheldon Adelson arrives, but stays silent on Trump" by Kenneth Vogel: "Gingrich, a close Adelson confidant and longtime beneficiary of the billionaire’s political spending, arrived soon after, telling Politico that he didn’t think the Star of David tweet bothered Adelson, though he wouldn’t speculate on when Adelson was going to donate. “I have no idea,” he said, though he asserted that Adelson is not backing away from his support for Trump. “No, I doubt it,” he said when asked whether Adelson was getting cold feet." [Politico; WashPost]

ON THE SIDELINES -- "Paul Ryan Delivers Earnest Unity Sermon To Fractured Convention" by McKay Coppins: "Pointing to the in-state rivalries between teams like the Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, and TCU Horned Frogs, Ryan said, “You guys are at each other’s throats [But] when one team advances to a big bowl game or a national championship, don’t you root for the Aggies? Don’t you root for the Longhorns?” The ballroom full of Texans erupted in laughter, boos, and shouts of, “No!” Ryan chuckled, taken aback, and said, “Start thinking that way, OK?” And then, “Holy moly, this explains everything right now.”

"A few hours before Ryan delivered his speech, he presided over the official vote to nominate Trump as the Republican nominee. On the convention floor, Dan Senor — a veteran Republican strategist and former top aide to Ryan — hovered at the edge of the New York delegation. As one of the party’s most adamant anti-Trump voices, Senor said he had only come to the floor so he could walk out once Trump was nominated. “It’s surreal,” Senor said. “The GOP is about to nominate someone with the wrong temperament, the wrong character, and the wrong worldview to be president. It’s pathetic to watch so many leaders of the Republican Party pretend to be excited about it.” Including Ryan? “No comment,” Senor said." [BuzzFeed]

Senor tweets: "I've attended GOP conventions for 20 yrs. Never heard quieter floor during roll call. Did ops staff hand out ambien to delegates?" [Twitter]

TOP TALKER: "How Melania Trump’s Speech Veered Off Course and Sparked an Uproar" by Maggie Haberman and Michael Barbaro: "It was the biggest speech of Melania Trump’s life, and her husband, Donald, wanted it to be perfect. The Trump campaign turned to two high-powered speechwriters Matthew Scully and John McConnell... It was Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, who commissioned the speech from Mr. Scully and Mr. McConnell. But Ms. Trump decided to revise it, and at one point she turned to a trusted hand: Meredith McIver, a New York City based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books... The two original speechwriters were not aware of how significantly the speech had been changed until they saw Ms. Trump deliver it on television Monday night, along with the rest of the country." [NYTimes]

"Who is running Trump's campaign?" by Eli Stokols: "It was one of Donald Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories – that Saudi Arabia was behind 9/11, and the U.S. government is covering it up... But when the Republican platform committee set about putting Trump’s words into policy, calling for the declassification of 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report relating to Saudi Arabia, the plank was quietly shelved. The identity of the person whose behind-the-scenes intervention helped scuttle the deal was, perhaps, a surprise: Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law."

"Kushner is the campaign’s unofficial ambassador to Jewish donors who fretted that the release of damaging information about Saudi Arabia could alter the balance of power in the Mideast. But the intervention – by one of Trump’s family members seeking to rein in his more destabilizing positions – has become increasingly common. Now, Kushner is making key hires, fine-tuning and sharpening Trump’s speeches and serving as the central emissary behind the scenes, meeting privately last month with Paul Ryan, having direct conversations with billionaire Sheldon Adelson and asserting influence on everything from Trump’s search for a running mate—he pushed hard for Newt Gingrich, largely at Adelson’s behest—to his tweets." [Politico]

“Ivanka Trump Calls Her Father, Donald, ‘the Messenger of the People’” by John Santucci, Suzan Clarke and Kaitlyn Folmer:
“Ivanka Trump, a convert to Judaism, stressed that her father “clearly did not think that was the Star of David,” adding: “My father's track record of ... advocating for Jewish people and for Israel is unimpeachable for a very long time, whether it being the grand marshal of the Israel Day Parade at a time when it was not advantageous to do so.” She added that her father has been “remarkably supportive” of her and her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three children.” [Yahoo]

"In one 16-year-old Jewish boy, the face of the anti-hate protest" by Tim O'Shei: "Ranan Steiger works for a catering service in the neighborhood near the Republican National Convention. It was 2 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon. The lunch rush was over, so Ranan, who’s 16, asked his boss if he could go outside for a while. He’d done the same thing Monday and ended up helping a Jewish group with handouts in Public Square. At 5 o’clock, five members of the Westboro Baptist Church – a small and well-known hate group – took the stage. During their half-hour time slot, Ranan said, one of the Westboro speakers saw his kippah and said, “You’re going to hell. You’re a Jew. You’re going to hell!” As Ranan heard the words, he walked up to the man and started staring him down. He held up the sign, and as the man kept talking – including comments on Judaism – Ranan started yelling back: “I don’t care. Go away! Lose your voice! Lose your voice!” [BuffaloNews]

“Jewish Republicans wonder how to vouch for Trump when he won’t help out” by Ron Kampeas: “Tevi Troy, a deputy secretary of health under President George W. Bush and a formidable Jewish community validator for past Republican candidates, said no one has been in touch this year, but that may be because he’s not on any of the relevant lists. Troy had opposed Trump during the primaries, but once it became clear in May that Trump would be the nominee, he said he was open to persuasion. “I don’t think they’re targeting messages specifically to the Jewish community,” he said. That could cost Trump significant advantages, both in much-needed funding for the campaign and in votes. On the other hand, Troy said, how one validates candidates may be changing, with more folks going to social media to solicit information and opinions. “The Jewish community is a vocal one, there are a lot of bloggers, a lot of tweeters” pushing out the pro-Trump message, he said.” [JTA]

"The Trump Convention: A Painful Moment for the Bush Family Network" by Jonathan Martin:
"Representatives of the last Republican White House are effectively in exile from presidential politics these days, dispirited by their party’s embrace of Donald J. Trump, the nominee, and feeling betrayed by former friends who are backing him. After Ari Fleischer announced his support on Twitter for Mr. Trump in May, one of his former colleagues, Tony Fratto, responded: “Then we don’t have anything to say to each other.” In an interview, Mr. Fratto, who served in the Bush Treasury Department and White House, was still angry. “You were the White House spokesperson when Trump said the president lied the country into the death and maiming of people unnecessarily,” he said of Mr. Fleischer. “How can Ari be O.K. with that?” Such a betrayal, Mr. Fratto said, was “unforgivable.” Mr. Fleischer said he still considered Mr. Fratto a friend, but lamented that “Trump has split the party.”" [NYTimes]

"Republican Jews Trust Trump on Israel" by Jacob Kornbluh: "Marc Zell, the co-chair of Republicans Overseas Israel chapter, stated that all of his initial concerns about Trump “have disappeared” when the GOP Platform Committee approved new Israel language that dropped any reference to the two-state solution." [JewishInsider]

Rabbi Rick Jacobs: "The GOP is playing a dangerous game with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" [DailyNews]

Dr. Walid Phares, Trump’s foreign policy advisor on i24News: "Donald Trump doesn't want to go ahead of the Israelis and the Palestinians and start talking about his architecture for an issue that is very, very difficult for the Israelis, the Palestinians and Arabs in general. He wants to sit with both Israelis and Palestinians in the middle of the table so both sides will feel there is a real moderator. We know that Mr. Trump has as good relations as any politician with the Israeli side. What he needs to do now is convince the Palestinians along with Arab allies. And then he will listen to both sides, he is a good negotiator, and he will try to get to a historic deal that will not just preserve peace but bring prosperity for both sides." [i24]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Peter Thiel’s Embrace of Trump Has Silicon Valley Squirming [NYTimes]  Extell to raze 10 buildings in Diamond District [RealDeal; dnaInfo]  Abe Foxman’s Son Steps Down as Editorial Director of InStyle Magazine [Forward

REFLECTION: "Would JFK Jr. Have Run for President? His Best Friends Reveal His Last Days" by Liz McNeil: "According to Gary Ginsberg, a close friend who was with John the night before he died, "That last night he was very focused on two things: finding a buyer for George and his political future."  He adds: "I guess no coincidence since the two were linked together. By July 1999 I think he could take great comfort that he had started and led a successful business, had fulfilled his mission to cover politics in a colorful, non-ideological way that would make it appealing for people who had never bought a political magazine before, and was now in a position to do something new. He had been thinking about running for the N.Y. Senate seat – he even had meetings about it that spring – but by July had concluded he would focus his attention on running for governor of N.Y. in 2003." [PeopleMag]

TALK OF THE TOWN: "A small island of Judaism in Hawaiian politics" by Lisa Klug:
"Hawaii’s current elected officials with Jewish ties include Democrat state senate incumbent Russell Ruderman and Republican incumbent state senator and Minority Floor Leader Sam Slom. At least two other lawmakers, State Representative Nicole Lowen of Hawaii, the Big Island, and State Senator J. Kalani English of Maui, were both born to Jewish fathers. One more Hawaiian legislator, US Senator Brian Schatz (Dem.) represents the “Aloha State” in Washington, D.C." [ToI]

INBOX -- On sidelines of the RNC, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger met with Ambassador Liora Herzl, the Deputy Director General for North America and Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel for the Mid-Atlantic Region to discuss current events and strengthening the Ohio Israel partnerships in business, academia, & research. Also present in the meeting were key members of the House Majority Leadership: Reps. Ron Amstutz, Tim Derickson, Kirk Schuring, and senior staff. Howie Beigelman, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, facilitated the meeting and was in attendance as well. [Pic]

In Jerusalem -- the leadership of the Orthodox Union met yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and two of his advisors Jonathan Schachter and Eli Groner. [Pic]

KAFE KNESSET -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: There is a new crisis in the Israeli coalition, and this time it's about the media. Last night, Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted that he is "deeply concerned" about a number of initiatives pushed by Prime Minister Netanyahu (also Minister of Communications) that seem destined to strengthen Netanyahu's grip on large parts of the Israeli press. Last month, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon also accused Netanyahu of trying to hurt press freedom in the country. The problem with Bennett's criticism is that under the coalition agreement his party signed with Likud upon entering the government, it agreed not to oppose any legislation by Netanyahu in the field of media and communications. If he chooses to do so now, Netanyahu could accuse him of breaking the coalition agreement. The chances this crisis will lead to a change in the government make-up is very small, but it is leading to tensions between the Prime Minister and his rival-partner. 

Last night, the Knesset approved a new bill that allows members of the parliament to vote one of their own out of the club. The bill, called "the impeachment law," allows the Knesset to kick out a sitting member if 90 members of the Knesset vote in favor of impeachment. The vote was scheduled to last hours, as the opposition presented hundreds of reservations to it, but at the last minute, they withdrew their concerns, catching the coalition by surprise - and without enough votes to pass the legislation. Some members of the government had to rush to vote in t-shirts. The opposition failed to block the law, but it did make the government sweat.

The Labor Party is mostly worried that the bill will be used against it before the next elections: Likud will declare a vote on kicking out one of the Arab members of Knesset; if Labor votes in favor, it will lose support on the Arab street and among the left, while if it votes against, Likud will blame it for supporting those they perceive to be "anti-Israel" in the Knesset. It remains to be seen if the law's opponents will try to take it to the Supreme Court. 

BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire, art collector and NYC real estate developer, Sheldon Solow turns 88... United States Senator from Maryland, Barbara Mikulski, on the verge of 30 years in the Senate following 10 years in the House, turns 80... NY Times columnist, author and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman turns 63... Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Barbara Risman turns 60... Senior Vice President at lobbyist Capalino+Company, Fred Kreizman...
Broadcast and digital media executive, Farrell Meisel... Singer who burst on the scene as a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol, Efraym Elliott Yamin turns 38... Marcie Orley... 

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