Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: May 20, 2016

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Correspondents Association's annual dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Correspondents Association's annual dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. Credit: Yuri Gripas, Reuters
JI Staff

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IRAN DEAL: "US again tells European banks trade with Iran is OK" by Matthew Lee: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany and the European Union’s foreign policy chief said in a joint statement Thursday that Iran deserves the sanctions relief it’s due under last year’s landmark nuclear deal. “This includes the reengagement of European banks and businesses in Iran,” they said after meeting in Brussels. Thursday’s statement was the latest of several attempts by the U.S. to encourage European financial institutions and other firms to take advantage of opportunities afforded by the easing of sanctions." [WashPostWSJ]

Jeffrey Goldberg: "1. There's nothing in the Iran nuclear agreement, as best as I can tell, that requires the U.S. to help Iran do business. 2. Things that are different: Lifting nuclear-related sanctions after Iran complies with the deal, and drumming up business for the regime." [Twitter]

French Ambassador Gérard Araud to Goldberg: "Not "drumming up for the regime" but making the lifting of sanctions effective and not empty decision." Goldberg: "But given the other, obvious, objections the U.S. has -- terrorism, ballistic missiles, human rights -- why should we help?" Araud: "If the lifting of sanctions has no practical consequence, the radicals in Teheran will say : no reason for a nuclear deal." Goldberg: "A) They already receive benefits -- release of frozen assets. B) You're describing blackmail here." [Twitter]

"Why the Iranian Nuclear Deal Is at Risk of Unraveling" by Jonathan Broder: "American officials assured Tehran that foreign investment would return to the country, finally ending Iran’s pariah status. ”As soon as we suspend our major sanctions,” Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator, had said in 2014, “the world will flood into Iran.” The foreign business hasn’t materialized because big European and Asian commercial banks are afraid they might inadvertently violate those non-nuclear U.S. sanctions and end up facing hefty penalties. Tehran is angry and says Washington is preventing the country from rejoining the world economy."

"Iran wants the U.S. to relax these sanctions, but that would require Congress to act, something unlikely to happen in an election year, especially since even some Democrats are in no mood to revisit a deal many considered flawed. If anything, lawmakers are pushing for more sanctions, this time as punishment for Iran’s ballistic missile program. In Tehran, hard-liners, who never liked the nuclear deal, are urging moderate President Hassan Rouhani to scrap it." [Newsweek]

"Kerry says he will attend Mideast peace meeting in France" by Matt Lee: 
"Speaking to reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Kerry said he told French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that he would participate in the event on June 3 despite Israeli opposition to the plan, which would also involve a larger international conference on the Middle East this summer." [AP]

"How the Middle East was invented" by Nick Danforth:
 "The region we recognize as the Middle East today, a roughly defined but distinct swath of territory stretching from Turkey to Egypt to Iran, only came into being with the end of the Ottoman Empire and the disappearance of the older, now antiquated-sounding “Near East.” Winston Churchill, as secretary of state for the colonies, created a “Middle Eastern Department” covering the newly acquired territories of Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. For several decades, the new usage remained confined to obscure branches of the British government. Then, when Americans took a newfound interest in the region with the advent of the Cold War, they adopted the then-prevalent British term for it... Some have suggested that the term “Middle East” is problematic because it is, undeniably, a Western term reflecting a Western perspective." [WashPost]

TOP TALKER: "Israel defense chief quits, warns of 'extremist' rise under Netanyahu" by Dan Williams: "Israel's defense minister resigned on Friday, saying the nation was being taken over by "extremist and dangerous elements" after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to replace him with a far-right politician in an effort to strengthen his coalition." [Reuters]

David Horovitz: "Has the PM calculated wisely — for Israel’s sake and his own — in giving this most sensitive of positions to a brusque, ambitious and derisive rival?" [ToI]

Natan Sachs: "Most importantly, Israel's actual policy may be affected significantly by this move. Of all the governmental posts, defense is the one that has the most effect on the crucial questions of security for Israelis (and on the daily lives of Palestinians). Instead of grand peace plans Herzog was selling, Netanyahu's political brilliance has wrought one of the most hardline governments Israel has ever had."[Brookings]

Heard Yesterday in NYC -- Yoav Galant, Israel’s Minister of Construction and an observing member of the security cabinet, gave a briefing on the Middle East and the peace process to leaders of the Conference of Presidents in New York. “I apologize for my poor English. It wasn’t very useful while fighting Hamas and Hezbollah because they understand different languages," he joked. 

On the possibility of the Obama Administration pushing for a peace deal in the remaining few months: “If you want to make a living and a pension, you can start to work on creating peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Some people have made a great career over the years... We know and you know that the other side is not willing to accept a Jewish, democratic state in this region. This is part of the problem... I don’t think anything dramatic is going to change the Palestinians’ attitude towards Israel. It was always that great and powerful leaders entered the arena believing that by entering the arena they change the arena. The last one to do it was Stalin, Hitler and before that Napoleon. Ever since it is impossible to change the international arena because the means are restrained. The election of a new president is very important, but it is not going to change the arena because Israel has learned -- the Palestinians learned it years ago -- that they can bend a little bit and eight years goes by very fast.”

On the French peace initiative: “The idea is not to impose on us a solution. Let the French unify Paris first before they deal with us. There are a lot of problems over there. And we are willing to help them. No one can predict when the next (terrorist) event will happen in Europe and how to prevent it. So exporting the problem to the Middle East is ridiculous. The only one we can trust is the world are the Americans. We cannot put ourselves in the hands of a European country.” [SoundCloud]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Some 40 leaders gathered at the Harvard Club in NYC to honor the heroes of the Soviet Jewry movement -- Natan Sharansky and Limmud FSU President Aaron Frankel -- and to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the late Edgar M. Bronfman. The evening event was hosted by World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder together with the Conference of Presidents' Malcolm Hoenlein who served as emcee. “Without the demonstrations, and without the leaders of the Jewish communities, who were using all of their power to deliver a powerful message with secret diplomacy, the last prisoners of Zion would never have been released from the Soviet Union,” Sharansky said. “This shows how important it is that while we disagree with one another, we Jews agree on the most important things and are responsible for one another.” Spotted: Shoshana Cardin, Matthew Bronfman, Stephen Greenberg, Diane & Howard Wohl, Michael Miller, Eric Fingerhut, Chaim Chesler, Morris Abraham, Ilya Salita, Richard Stone, Susan Green, George Klein, Ken Bialkin, Izzi & Regina Tapoohi, Steve Linde, Danielle Ziri, Daniel Mariaschin, Eli Mandelbaum.

“Matthew Bronfman: Israeli government's policies have pushed diaspora away” by Danielle Ziri: “[The policies of the Israeli government] are not in sync with the views and the mentality of Diaspora Jews and I would hope that over the next couple of years, those two versions of Israel would come into sync a little bit more.” Bronfman said he “would not worry” about the front runners’ support for the Jewish state. “Both [Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump] will be fair supporters of the State of Israel,” he said." [JPost]

“Bill Weld, Running as a Libertarian, Likens Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan to Kristallnacht” by Maggie Haberman and Thomas Kaplan: “In his first interview since accepting an invitation to be the running mate of former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, Mr. Weld assailed Donald J. Trump over his call to round up and deport the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. “I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear that, honest,” Mr. Weld said Thursday. Asked if he believed Mr. Trump was a fascist, Mr. Weld demurred. “My Kristallnacht analogy does evoke the Nazi period in Germany,” he said. “And that’s what I’m worried about. A slippery slope.” [NYTimes]

Media Watch: "New York Times staffer tweets out op-ed critical of Trump, faces anti-Semitic avalanche"[WashPostHaaretz]

"Adelson and Trump" by Rob Eshman: "A couple of months ago, I was sitting in a booth at Langer’s Delicatessen, studying the menu and munching on half-sours when an elderly man caught my eye. He was hobbling toward a table, part of a large family entourage, accompanied by a tall, grim-faced bodyguard. Wow, I thought, that’s Sheldon Adelson. My first impulse was to go introduce myself and chat. But I stayed put. I knew I’d never make it past the bodyguard, and, anyway, if you care about food, Langer’s is holy ground, and I hate talking business in shul. In the weeks since, I’ve often wondered what I might have said to Adelson. Last week, I figured it out." [JewishJournal]

"James O’Keefe Outs Himself in George Soros Investigation" by Joel Pollak: "My team and I at Project Veritas were investigating George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, and their connection to radical agitprop movements, both foreign and domestic. We set up an undercover meeting with an individual who has represented Soros’s initiatives in Eastern Europe... So I left this individual a voicemail, but I forgot to hang up the phone. I thought the call was finished, and my team and I started discussing plans to make more phone calls to the Open Society Foundations as well as to organizations like [it]. And all of this was being recorded on a voicemail [message]. There may have been conversations with my staff pertaining to the Soros foundation. And I think it lasted about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, I’m burned on this particular investigation. I’m very disappointed, but if I wanted to be perfect, I would give up." [Breitbart]

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SPOTLIGHT: "Extell bonds plummet in Tel Aviv" by Rey Mashayekhi: "Questions continue to hover over Extell Development’s presence on the Israeli bond market after a tough day for U.S. real estate firms trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Extell led a widespread selloff of Israeli bonds backed by U.S. real estate assets, falling by around 6 percent on Thursday alone after seeing drops of around 4 percent on Wednesday. Extell isn’t the only New York real estate company trading in Israel to feel the effects of the selloff; Allen Gross’ GFI Capital Resources Group saw its bonds down more than 3 percent on Thursday and trading at a nearly 10 percent yield-to-maturity, while the likes of Brookland Capital, Delshah Capital, Lightstone Group and All Year Management all saw their bonds drop further below par value." [RealDeal]

STARTUP NATION: "MassChallenge unveiled the 48 finalists for the 2016 accelerator program to be held in Jerusalem this summer. This year’s class was selected from more than 500 applicants across a diverse range of industries and geographies, including 150 international applications from 35 countries."[MassChallenge]

HOLLYWOOD: "LL Cool J discusses his Jewish friends, Israel and more" by Ryan Torok: "I can go on and on and on, about the different Jewish friends I’ve had and it’s always been natural for me, but see I’m from New York maybe it’s not fair for me to talk about that because it’s real naturally normal to me to have Jewish friends, it’s just part of it, my grandfather was from the Bronx he came home with gefilte fish every week I mean, I didn’t like it, no disrespect, but I loved him, it wasn’t my thing, but I always had great Jewish friends, always, they’ve been good to me." [JewishJournal]

"David Siegel’s tachlis diplomacy" by David Suissa: "At a time when the pro-Israel community is struggling to find effective responses to threats like the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, Siegel’s approach has been remarkably concrete and simple: Make Israel helpful. “Israel has so much to offer to so many groups,” he said. “Why not take advantage of that?” Siegel has taken this “How can Israel help?” approach to other municipalities throughout the region, as well as to ethnic groups such as the Latino and African-American communities." [JewishJournal

MEDIA: "Morley Safer, Mainstay of ‘60 Minutes,’ Is Dead at 84" by Robert McFadden:"Morley Safer, a CBS television correspondent who brought the horrors of the Vietnam War into the living rooms of America in the 1960s and was a mainstay of the network’s newsmagazine “60 Minutes” for almost five decades, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 84. Morley Safer was born in Toronto on Nov. 8, 1931, the son of Max and Anna Cohn Safer. His father owned an upholstery shop."[NYTimes]

Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: "I have intentionally avoided the "Mevushal" (pasteurized) conversation related to kosher wines. I will continue to do so.  However, I recently curated the wine selection for the Princeton University celebration of 100 years of Jewish presence on campus and I served the Mevushal Herzog Alexander Valley Cabernet. There were over 800 people in attendance. I can't say I spoke to all 800 but I came very close and every person I spoke with said they loved the wine. The Herzog Alexander Valley Cabernet is extremely consistent. The 2013 vintage has notes of blueberries and leather. The nose is ripe. The fruit plays beautifully with the tannins and has a consistent feel of velvet in the mouth. Drink with almost any food. Most of these Alexander Valley wines have a 10 year life." [RoyalWine]

DESSERT: "The Big Easy’s Inventive New Eateries" by Julia Reed: "Philadelphia native Daniel Stein, who used to practice law, said he had no idea what he was doing when he opened Stein’s Market and Deli in 2007, but it turned out that he was filling a long-overdue gap in a city with a robust Jewish population and once thriving tradition of delis. Such is the quality of Stein’s matzo ball soup and lengthy list of sandwiches (an early store motto was “Looking for a Po-boy...Go Somewhere Else”) that Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, who were regulars when in town filming Green Lantern, once flew all the way from Manhattan just to grab a couple of Rachels (a Reuben in which the corned beef is replaced with pastrami)." [WSJMag]

MAZAL TOV -- Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel emails... "We're so happy to introduce you to Gideon Tzvi. Born 8 days ago, weighing in at 10 lbs 3 oz. Rosie and Judah are loving their new little brother. Mom and bambino are doing well. - Josh & Ilana" 

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: William Davidson Foundation's Chief Program Officer Darin McKeever (h/t Kari Alterman)... Former comedian and now US Senator, Al Franken turns 65... Billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist, Seth Klarman turns 59... Bestselling author, staff writer at The New Yorker and legal analyst at CNN, Jeffrey Toobin turns 56... New Yorker's Connie Bruck... President of the Aspen Institute, former CEO of CNN and former Managing Editor of Time, Walter Isaacson turns 64... USC professor of chemistry and Nobel Prize laureate, George Andrew Olah, a native of Hungary turns 89... Cognitive scientist, former CEO of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven and director of the White House neuroscience initiative, Philip E. Rubin turns 67... Guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot turns 62... Aylon Berger, candidate for National Chair of High School Democrats of America, turns 16... 

Former head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, David Blatt turns 57... Chief Legal Affairs Anchor for ABC News (and son of First Amendment scholar Floyd Abrams), Dan Abrams turns 50... Actress and playwright Lisa Edelstein turns 50... Executive Director of Business Forward and Deputy National Finance Director for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, Ami Copeland turns 44... Actress, producer, model and singer, Noa Tishby turns 41... Joshua Canter turns 24... Abraham Eckstein... Head of Dewey Square's sports business practice, author and former AP journalist, Frederic J.  Frommer... Ilene Leiter... CBS Interactive's executive producer, Mosheh Oinounou... Director of Global Affairs at 1776, a global incubator and seed fund, Brandon Pollak... Charles Scott... Ron Solomon... 

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