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EXCLUSIVE -- Meet the new White House Jewish Liaison: The Obama Administration is set to name a new liaison to the Jewish community later today, Jewish Insider has learned. Chanan Weissman will make the transition from the State Department to the White House, becoming the first Modern Orthodox Jew to assume this position for a Democratic administration, according to several sources we spoke with.
Most recently, Weissman served as a spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Matt Nosanchuk, who held the Jewish liaison position for nearly three years, recently transferred to the State Department, à la 'Trading Places,' where he is working as a senior advisor in the Office of Religion and Global Affairs. Observers can debate the respective perks of Foggy Bottom and Pennsylvania Avenue but only one job comes with the pressure of managing the Administration's relationship with a community rarely described as 'shy.'
The eighth year of any White House presents its own unique challenges. Administrations often cede the spotlight to the election season. President Obama has stressed he will not be a lame-duck president, and questions remain about whether the White House will attempt another push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the final year. According to Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat who participated in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations following the Camp David summit in 2000, there’s no doubt that at some point between now and January 2017, Obama will seek to outline his own version of the Bill Clinton parameters before leaving office. If the White House decides to refocus on the Middle East, one can expect Weissman to play a critical role. [JewishInsider]
Ambassador Norman Eisen: "I first met Chanan years ago at the hashkama minyan at Kesher Israel in DC, when he was starting his career at the State Department. Over cholent, we talked about working in government as observant Jews. I said to myself, someday he will be in the White House. Now he is! He will be a great White House Jewish liaison, continuing the high standard set by Matt and all his predecessors."
Tevi Troy, a Bush 43 Jewish Liaison and the second Orthodox Jew to hold the position, tells us: "Congrats to Chanan. I think he'll do great. I think there's an advantage but also a challenge to being an Orthodox Jew in this position. The advantage is that you have instant credibility within the community as knowledgable and credible representing the community. The challenge is that the bulk of American Jews are not Orthodox and you have to show you can reach out to all."
Former Jewish Liaison Scott Arogeti, who was appointed during the final year of the George W. Bush Administration, passed along this note to Chanan: "Being appointed White House Jewish Liaison midway through the final year of an Administration is an honor, and yet one that also comes with a unique challenge. How do you move the ball down the field effectively at a point where the campaign season for your boss’s successor is already in full swing (taking media and public attention along with it) and most major policy battles are likely in the rear view mirror?"
"What accomplishments do you point to in making the case that the Administration you represent has improved the lives of members of the Jewish community? What issues do you champion in attempting to break through the clutter and make your mark? From the last person to have this honor for President George W. Bush to the one who will presumably follow suit for President Obama, I wish you the best. (oh, and good luck with the final Hannukah Party list!)"
“GOP Jews Want To Hear More From Trump” by Stewart Ain: “Daniel Retter, a New York lawyer who has provided the Trump campaign with ideas on how to handle the estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants living illegally in the U.S., said he recently provided the campaign with the names of potential donors. “There are some very heavy-duty people who gave money to the Rubio campaign, and I’m trying to convince the Trump campaign to reach out to them,” he said. “They are Jewish people with serious bucks who in the past have supported Rubio and [former Florida Gov. Jeb] Bush. They are now just waiting to see if Trump represents their values.”” [JewishWeek]
GOP donor Rich Roberts tells Jared Sichel: "I think Trump has a chance to be very good and I think people are ready for someone who’s going to come in and break up some of that status quo. Trump is now reaching out to experts in a lot of different areas, and that’s a big relief to know that he’s doing that.”
"Jewish Republicans in doubt about Trump" by Robert Wiener: “While he believes Trump “will be good on the issue of Israel because he understands the issue,” Chouake said he may be open to crossing party lines in November if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. “I think Hillary has a record to show for her support of U.S.-Israel relations that is important to a lot of her constituents,” he said.”[NJJN]
“Why many of Iran's ‘moderates’ say they prefer Trump to Clinton” by Jeremy Shapiro and Ellie Geranmayeh: “Trump is a man Iranians can do with business with... Clinton is known in Tehran as the "sanctions lady," the person who orchestrated international buy-in to the unprecedented sanctions regime against Iran in 2010 that had a crippling impact on the Iranian economy. Many Iranians we spoke with are concerned that under a Clinton presidency, the United States will introduce a new wave of secondary sanctions to confront Iran’s regional behavior.” [Vox]
Fact Checker: "Kerry’s claim that Iran has only received ‘$3 billion’ from the nuclear deal" by Glenn Kessler: "This was always Iran’s money, but the total amount made available remains unclear. That number reflects only what Iran has transferred back to the country, and belies the fact that U.S. officials are actively urging banks to give Iran even more access to the international banking system. We’re not sure why Kerry used the figure–which he has not repeated–and he did note that the official U.S. government estimate is $55 billion. But that doesn’t excuse such a lowball number, especially if Kerry is arguing that administration claims on the deal have been truthful." [WashPost]
Suzanne Maloney: "Deception and the Iran deal: Did the Obama administration mislead America, or did the Rhodes profile?" [Brookings]
ON THE HILL: “Senate rejects amendment that inflamed tensions over Iran nuclear deal” by Karoun Demirjian: “Democrats were blocking consideration of the annual energy and water appropriations bill to protest Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) proposal to prevent the United States from using federal funds to purchase heavy water, which is used in some nuclear fuel reactors, from Iran. The Obama administration made clear it considered the proposal a “poison pill” that would cause the president to veto the bill. To get around the standoff, Republican leaders scheduled a vote on Cotton’s amendment but set a threshold of 60 votes for it to be adopted. The vote was 57 to 42.” [PowerPost]
"Harry Reid to Rep. Alan Grayson: 'I want you to lose'" by Burgess Everett: "Rep. Alan Grayson angrily confronted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday, disrupting a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in front of dozens of staffers and members of Congress. As each member took a turn to speak to Reid, it was Grayson’s turn. He asked Reid if the Nevada senator knows who he is. After Reid answered in the affirmative, Grayson went on the attack. “Say my name, senator. Say my name,” Grayson told Reid as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tried to shut down the confrontation... Grayson responded by angrily waving a printout of Reid’s searing quote that called on Grayson to drop out of the primary race against Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.). “Why’d you say that?” Grayson said, insisting Reid’s statement was false. Reid calmly faced his inquisitor: “I want you to lose. It’s true.”" [Politico]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: "David Rubenstein: Next President Likely to Face Recession" [Bloomberg] "Sam Zell Still Says Sell" [Fortune] "New Rubashkin claims garner support from former attorneys general, judges" [DesMoinesRegister] "Clinton Son-in-Law’s Firm Is Said to Close Greece Hedge Fund" [DealBook] "How to raise money in Israel: A developer’s guide" [RealDeal]
STARTUP NATION: "Inside Israel's Secret Startup Machine" by Richard Behar: "Much has been made of Israel’s status as “Startup Nation.” Not even the size of New Jersey, with a population smaller than New York City’s, Israel is home to more Nasdaq-listed companies than any country except the U.S. and China. On a per capita basis Israel boasts more venture capital, more startups and more scientists and tech professionals than any other country in the world. To understand these dizzying numbers, you need to understand the mysterious Unit 8200." [Forbes]
TALK OF OUR NATION -- Israel celebrates 68th birthday after solemn Memorial Day: "In a jarring contrast, Israel transitioned Wednesday night from melancholic reflection to remember its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism to joyous Independence Day festivities in celebration of 68 years since the modern Jewish state was formed." [AP]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC: Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon hosted a special showing of “Fiddler on the Roof” at a Broadway Theatre in honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day. “While I was backstage, I asked if I could play the role of Tevye. I started to sing, ‘If I were a rich man...’ But they told me to stick to be an ambassador,” Danon joked at the start of the evening. SPOTTED: Ambassador Samantha Power, Deputy Ambassador David Roet, Jack and Phyllis Rosen, Greg and Marti Rosenbaum, Michael Miller, Malcolm Hoenlein, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Rabbi Marc Schneier, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, Ronn Torossian, and Elie Bennett.
SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT: "The fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg was being honored at the 20th Annual Heritage Dinner at the Museum of Jewish Heritage... Annette de la Renta, Anh Duong, Hamilton South, Seth and Alexi Meyers (on her first night out since having a baby six weeks ago), interior designer Ariel Ashe, Michael Rourke and Wes Powell, Starwood’s Barry Sternlicht and HBO’s Sheila Nevins were just some of the guests who came to support Ms. von Furstenberg."
"In Belgium in May of 1944, her mother, Liliane Nahmias, was arrested and shipped to Auschwitz. Somehow, she survived and was liberated 13 months later, returning home a mere 49 pounds. Even today, Ms. von Furstenberg explained, “all I read is books on the Holocaust, all I see is movies about the Holocaust,” adding that sometimes her friends mock her for her continued and constant interest. “But I still to this day cannot believe my own mother was there. I am her torch of freedom.”" [WSJ]
"18 of the Most Gadol Jewish People in Fashion" by Nora Crotty: "May is Jewish American heritage month. To honor this momentous occasion, I’ve chosen to highlight 18 (18!) of the most fashion-forward chosen people in the biz." [Yahoo]
"The paradox of feeling too Jewish — and not Jewish enough" by Ruth Margolis: "Sometimes, I feel like I might have my "Jew" card confiscated for knowing so much less about my birth culture and religion than even non-Jewish New Yorkers. But there are over two million Jews in New York. Jewish culture is woven into the city so you can't help but soak it up. There are just 269,000 Jews in the whole of the U.K. Back home, I'm a rare bird; here, I'm just another nose." [TheWeek]
"I Threw My Dog a Bark Mitzvah and All I Got Was This Lousy Jewish Guilt" by Peter Moskowitz: "It wasn't that celebrating dogs was bad, he said. Judaism has a conflicted relationship with dogs. Jewish scripture tends to paint them as symbols of greed, noise, dirt, and general mischievousness. But other passages view those who take care of animals, though not specifically dogs, as shepherds, even heroes. It was elevating a dog to the human level that offended my uncle." [Racked]
LongRead: "When Do You Give Up on Treating a Child With Cancer?" by Melanie Thernstrom: "Andrew Levy’s parents knew that the rare and deadly cancer in his blood could not be beaten, so they began to prepare for the worst. Then something mysterious happened... Dan founded a sports-related start-up, then became vice president of small business at Facebook, while Esther worked at Kurbo, a start-up focused on weight management for kids, and taught spin classes at a Jewish community center for fun. Their own families were stable and close-knit; to recall any true adversity in either family, they had to think back to a grandmother of Dan’s whose family perished in the Holocaust."[NYTimesMag]
DESSERT: "McDonald's: NSW man loses fight to register 'McKosher' trademark for Jewish Scottish restaurant" by Giselle Wakatama: "The trademark applicant, Mark Glaser, told the office hearing he was of Scottish Jewish descent and his ancestors' surnames included McKosher, MacAdoo, Beadle, Zimmerman, Rosenthal and Glaser. He said he hoped to open a Scottish and Jewish restaurant bearing the name McKosher. But the fast-food giant noted calls by a group of powerful rabbis in Jerusalem for the chain to rebrand kosher-friendly restaurants there as McKosher. "The Jerusalem Rabbinate refuses to certify any of the chain outlets in the capital as kosher so long as there are any non-kosher branches in the city," McDonald's lawyers said. "The solution suggested by the Rabbinate is a renaming of the kosher McDonald's branches to 'McKosher'." [ABC]
BIRTHDAYS: Matthew Hiltzik, founder of strategic communications and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies, turns 44... Composer, songwriter, record producer, pianist and singer, Burt Bacharach, who won three Academy Awards and six Grammys, turns 88... British lawyer and member of the House of Lords, Baron Joel Goodman Joffe, turns 84... World reknowned architect and master planner for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, Daniel Libeskind, turns 70...
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