Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: June 24, 2016

BREXIT Reactions | Israeli Court Rejects Conversion by Ivanka Trump's Rabbi | Howard & Lottie Marcus donate $400M to Israel's BGU Negev

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A British flag which was washed away by heavy rains the day before lies on the street in London, Britain, June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU BREXIT referendum.
A British flag which was washed away by heavy rains the day before lies on the street in London, Britain, June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU BREXIT referendum.Credit: Reinhard Krause, Reuters

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BREXIT: A majority of British voters chose to leave the European Union on Thursday. According to the final results, the UK voted 52% for leave, 48% for remain. The British pound immediately fell 9 percent against the dollar, hitting its lowest level in three decades. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street Friday morning, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation. “I think the country requires fresh leadership,” he said. "I do not think I can be the captain to take the country to its next destination.” Cameron will step down after the Conservative Party chooses a new leader in October.

Boris Johnson, the former London Mayor who supported Brexit, is now a leading candidate to succeed Cameron. UKIP leader Nigel Farage - who has campaigned for the past 20 years for Britain to leave the EU - hailed it as the UK's "independence day.” The White House issued a statement saying President Obama has been briefed on the incoming returns, and he will continue to be updated by his team as the situation warrants. The President plans to speak to PM Cameron today.

KAFE KNESSET -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: A week and a half ago, at the weekly joint meeting of the Israeli government, housing minister Yoav Galant (of the centrist Kulanu party) proposed that the Bank of Israel brief all the ministers who have economic portfolios about the possible effects of a British decision to break with the EU. Prime Minister Netanyahu replied that it was a "good idea," and another very senior cabinet member mumbled, "let's just hope it doesn't happen." In the ten days that have passed since that dialogue, no discussion was arranged. Israel, like many other world countries, found itself slightly unprepared for the shocking news from Britain. 

To add to the fear of a new economic crisis that would harm Israel's economy (the EU is Israel's most important trade partner), there is also genuine sorrow in Jerusalem about the resignation of British PM Cameron, who was considered a good friend of Israel, despite disagreements on the nuclear deal with Iran and on the Palestinian issue. Government ministers and members of Knesset thanked him for his friendship. Avi Dichter (Likud), head of the Knesset's Security and Foreign Affairs Committee added that "I hope his connection to Israel will last for many more years, and I'm confident the future leadership of Britain will continue to support Israel." 

Meanwhile, opposition leader Isaac Herzog is visiting London today, to attend a memorial event for the late Lord George Weidenfeld, who was a family friend of the Hezogs. He will be the first high-ranking Israeli official to meet British political leaders in the aftermath of the vote, and will probably report back some of what he hears to his political opponents in the government. It will be interesting to see if political disagreements can be set aside at this moment of crisis. 

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon told an Israeli radio station that the UK leaving the EU will result in difficulties for Israel since Britain as a good friend of Israel had influence over EU decision-making.

Michael Eisenberg writes... "The world is quickly breaking down into Progressives and Culturalists. The progressives see the world as flat, equal, all the same, connected, global, multi-cultural and peaceful. The Culturalists want to preserve the culture they grew up with and associate with. They think that there are differences between people; there are still threats in the world, tradition matters and religion (for the most part) as well. What we should worry about is the stark differences between these two camps." [Medium]

Bill Kristol tweets: "Polls consistently underestimating right-wing support -- Cameron & Bibi, now Brexit. So if polls show Clinton up 5, could Trump be even?" [Twitter]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: "John Kerry to launch new bid for Israeli-Palestinian talks" by Elise Labott: "Secretary of State John Kerry plans to make a last-ditch effort this weekend to convince Israel to restart stalled peace talks before President Barack Obama leaves office, CNN has learned. The bid, which will occur at a meeting Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome. "The secretary is going to explore whether he can move Netanyahu to yes on negotiations over a two-state solution," one senior State Department official said. "We don't know if we are going to get there." [CNN]

"Mahmoud Abbas Claims Rabbis Urged Israel to Poison Palestinians’ Water" by Diaa Hadid: "Echoing anti-Semitic claims that led to the mass killings of European Jews in medieval times, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accused rabbis in Israel of calling on their government to poison the water used by Palestinians. He made the unsubstantiated allegation during a speech to the European Parliament on Thursday." [NYTimes; Reuters]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Itzhak Perlman received the Genesis Prize at the Jerusalem Theatre in Jerusalem last night. He joked that it is truly the "Jewish Nobel," because the recipient is immediately expected to use the award's dollars for tzedakah. Helen Mirren emceed the event and regaled the crowd with stories of her time on a kibbutz near the Golan Heights just after the Six Day War.

SPOTTED: Prime Minister Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Irina Nevzlin, Natan Sharansky, Michael Fridman, Stan and Erina Polovets, Jill Weber Smith, Zvika Hauser, Hillel's Yasha Moz, Alan Gill, Angelica Berrie, Lynn Schusterman, David Gappell, Sandy Cardin, Lisa Eisen, Justin Korda, Daniel Bonner, Andres Spokoiny, Andy Borans, Jay Feldman, Eric Fingerhut, Jeremy Moskowitz, Sheila Katz, Mordy Walfish, Avi Mayer, Shalom Lipner, German Kahn, Peter Aven, Ron Prosor, Avraham Infeld, Peter Aven, David Keyes, Myka and David Cygielman, Rivka Kidron, Cary Summers, Eli Groner, Danny Gillerman, Ilia Salita.

TOP TALKER: "Israeli Court Rejects Conversion by Rabbi Who Wed Ivanka Trump" by Isabel Kershner: "Critics of Israel’s chief rabbinate have long complained that scores of American converts to Judaism have trouble getting approval to marry in Israel. Now, one such case with a celebrity connection could break open the rabbinate’s longstanding secrecy over which foreign rabbis are approved to conduct conversions. The case raises the question of whether Ivanka Trump... would be accepted as Jewish herself in all quarters in Israel." [NYTimes]

2016 RoundUp by Jacob Kornbluh -- On his way to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at his golf course in Scotland, Donald Trump announced he has fully depleted the nearly $50 million dollars he loaned to his campaign “in order to Make America Great Again.” Steve Mnuchin told CNBC Trump raised about $10 million at fundraising events and another $6 million through online donations since Tuesday. Nathan Guttman asks: where is Sheldon Adelson’s promised cash? Lisa Spies tells The Forward that Trump has yet to establish a Jewish outreach operation that could work with Jewish donors and, more importantly, has not yet reached out personally to top Jewish donors to ask for their funding. “The country is ready to vote for him, if he doesn’t blow it,” Giuliani told The Jerusalem Post during a visit to Israel. Marco Rubio, appearing on CNN, defended his support of Trump, saying that one of his issues with Clinton are that “she continues to believe the deal with Iran is a good idea.

Trump’s Israel advisor David Friedman tells Haaretz that he “expects” Trump would support Israel’s annexing parts of the West Bank. Friedman also revealed that as part of his job he has already met with Israeli government representatives in Jerusalem. 

In an interview with Jewish Insider, Friedman clarified his comments: "My reference to the annexation of the West Bank was to those areas which all sides have agreed would be part of Israel under any circumstances. They are predominantly if not exclusively inhabited by Jews, most of whom work inside the Green Line. My expectation is that if no agreement is reached by the parties, these areas (and perhaps others) will eventually be annexed by Israel. While I have not dealt with Mr. Trump on this specific issue, I think he would agree. Assuming no progress is made and Israel is unable to find a peace partner and Israel determined to unilaterally annex places like the Gush with a commitment to continue to explore opportunities for peace, I don't think Mr. Trump would object.” [JewishInsider]

Despite Bernie indicating he gave up, Sanders, Clinton appointees issue joint call for changes to Dem platform on Israel: “Some have speculated about divisions within our party over the future of American foreign policy in the Middle East. The truth is that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we’re on the exact same page,” Reps. Keith Ellison and Luis Gutierrez said in an email sent out by J Street on Thursday. “This view is not controversial. And we’re certainly not the only ones who feel this way." [JewishInsider]

From one of the more than a dozen pro-Israel Dems who received a call from the HRC campaign yesterday, but who refused to speak on the record about a private call: "Every time J Street does this they're making an in-kind donation to the Donald Trump campaign. J Street needs to stop convincing members of Congress that they're doing the right thing by preemptively rejecting what will be the most progressive Democratic platform in history. Luis [Gutierrez] made a mistake here and he'll have to fix it, but Jeremy [Ben-Ami] and his board should have known better. If Trump wins because of this, J Street will never be forgiven." 

Alan Abbey tells us: “Both the Democrat and Republican parties are facing pressure from their farthest edges regarding statements on Israel. On the one hand, this is a healthy move. Such positions are regular features of domestic Israeli debate, and no true friend of Israel should be concerned over healthy, honest disagreements. Even if the more extreme positions get chiseled into the respective platforms, an unlikely possibility, their presence will only harden already-held positions. Democratic Party supporters of Israel are not going to jump ship to Donald Trump over a few line items in the party platform, nor will Republicans who believe in a two-state solution migrate to Hillary Clinton for that alone. If the two presumptive candidates were closer in appeal and tone, perhaps wedge issues such as Israel could sway votes.” 

“Republicans: We Don’t Want To Work For President Trump. But Someone Has To” by Jessica Schulberg: “Mitchell Reiss described Trump as “intellectually and temperamentally unqualified to become president. But should he become president, I do think that nobody should reflexively eliminate the option of working in a Trump administration,” Reiss continued. “You have to do what’s best for the country.” [HuffPost]

Dov Zakheim tells us: “I think what they are doing is basically looking for jobs. Trump has not shown the slightest inclination to follow anybody’s advice except for his immediate family and whoever works for his enterprises. Sure, let’s see - were he to get elected and were he to put together a cabinet, whether he would listen to advice. But the president we have today doesn’t listen to much advice other than his immediate circle. How do we know it will be different with Trump? For somebody who signed the letter, all of a sudden to say, ‘Well if he’s elected and in the national interest I am going to go and serve the country,’ it rings a little bit hollow. If he demonstrates real change, which I don’t believe he will, that’s maybe a different story.” 

"Prominent GOP Neoconservative to Fundraise for Hillary Clinton" by John Hudson: "Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, will speak at a Hillary for America fundraiser in Washington’s Logan Circle neighborhood on July 21." [ForeignPolicy]

"Don't Mess With Neera Tanden, Hillary's Twitter-Loving, Self-Appointed Secretary of Defense" by Jason Zengerle: "A longtime supporter of and advisor to Hillary Clinton, Neera Tanden is expected by many to play a key role in any future Clinton administration—maybe even as Hillary's White House Chief of Staff. In the meantime, she's taken on a self-appointed role as one of Clinton's most pugnacious defenders on Twitter." [GQ]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Boeing's historic deal with Iran rests on shaky foundations [AP]  Barry Sternlicht's Starwood Capital looks to sell all three 1 Hotels properties; valued at $800M [RealDeal]  Heshy Jacob, Last of the Lower East Side Power Brokers, Dies at 71 [Forward]  A conversation with Menin Hospitality’s Keith Menin [RealDeal]  How will Israeli innovation play into the global robotics industry? [TechCrunch]

STARTUP NATION: "TechCrunch Comes to Tel Aviv, hosts Meet-Up" by Jack Brook: "Kobi Marenko had been waiting a year for the sixty seconds when he would publicly unveil his new company, Arbe Robotics, at the first ever Israeli TechCrunch Meet-Up and Pitch-Off in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night. Marenko, one of ten entrepreneurs selected from a pool of 150 applicants to pitch his company in under a minute, walked confidently on stage, carrying a regular drone in one hand and a small radar device in the other. “Here is a groundbreaking radar, the first made for drones,” he said, addressing a panel of TechCrunch editors. “It can see obstacles 200 meters [away], in 360 degrees, and offers us the ability to see cables of electricity, cranes, trees, things that are not mapped. With this technology, Amazon can deliver goods inside a crowded city without being afraid of crashes.” [JPost]

"After Fleeing the Nazis, a Legacy That Won’t Run Dry" by Seth Siegel:
"How does one overcome almost unimaginable horror and trauma? For Holocaust survivors Howard and Lottie Marcus, the healing came, in part, from the hope that they could help to provide refuge for other Jews who might find themselves at risk. But after restarting their broken lives in America, this modest couple could never have imagined that they would end up giving what is likely the largest single charitable gift in Israel’s history—$400 million—to be announced June 24." [WSJ]

DESSERT -- "The Blond" by Nicolas Niarchos:
"The Blond, created by the restaurant-and-property baron Aby Rosen, is apparently the season’s new “it” bar for the in crowd. The entrance smells aggressively of cologne; the path to the bathroom is lined with vaguely suggestive art work hung Petersburg-style." [NewYorker]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon turns 66... Steven Mitzner ... Peter Grossman... South African businessman and philanthropist, now living in London, Sir Donald Gordon turns 86... Former Secretary of Labor (1993-97), author and professor at UC Berkeley, Robert Reich turns 70... Singer and songwriter Ariel Pink, born Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, turns 38... Washington Institute's Ronie Gazit (h/t Ian Byrne)... 

Mora Segal... CNN's Betsy Klein... Nobel Prize laureate in Physics, affiliated with the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, Alexei Alexeyevich Abrikosov turns 88... Chef, author and CNN host, Anthony Bourdain turns 60... Isaac Snyder... Sheldon Sandler... Helen Chernikoff... Once the wealthiest of all Russian oligarchs, then a prisoner in Russia and now living in exile in Switzerland, Mikhail Khodorkovsky turns 53... Founder of Reut Gidi Grinstein... Asher Mayerson... Long time play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco Giants, Hank Greenwald turns 81...

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