Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: September 6, 2016

Will Obama roll the dice on the Middle East one more time? | Clash of Titans: Barry Diller vs. Douglas Durst | Alex Soros profile

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference following a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May (not pictured) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou on September 4, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference following a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May (not pictured) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou on September 4, 2Credit: Saul Loeb, AFP

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Ed note: Hope that you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We're looking forward to covering the final stretch of the wild 2016 election season and we'd love your support to keep the momentum going beyond Election Day. Thank you!

Over The Weekend -- “Christian Pastor Gives Donald Trump a Jewish Prayer Shawl, Riles Confused Internet” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “Photographs and videos of Trump draped in a traditional Jewish prayer shawl - known as a tallit - inside a church have been rapidly circulating around the Internet. Trump was presented with the shawl during his Saturday visit to the Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, Michigan “This is a prayer shawl straight from Israel. Whenever you’re flying from coast to coast — I know you just came back from Mexico and you’ll be flying from city to city — there is an anointing. And anointing is the power of God,” [Bishop Wayne Jackson] said. “It’s going to be sometimes in your life that you’re going to feel forsaken, you’re going to feel down, but the anointing is going to lift you up. I prayed over this personally and I fasted over it, and I wanted to just put this on you.” [Haaretz;TheHill]

Yair Rosenberg: "Here are the five most reasonable explanations for this incident, in order of truthfulness: 5. The event was held under the auspices of a philo-Semitic church, which has adopted some Jewish rituals, and whose pastor gave the Jewish prayer shawl to Trump. 4. Trump thought the disguise would get him into our secret meetings. (It won’t.) 3. Trump was trying to rustle up a minyan for Mincha. 2. Trump was finally embracing his role as a fringe candidate. 1. Trump wanted to put on tefillin (phylacteries), but they didn’t have any that fit his tiny, tiny hands." [TabletMag]

Trump Earns Endorsement of 88 Retired Military Leaders: “Trump earned the endorsement of 88 retired U.S. generals and admirals on Tuesday, as the campaign enters into full swing. The letter was organized by Major General Sidney Shachnow, the only Holocaust survivor to become a U.S. General, and Rear Admiral Charles Williams. “He has the temperament to be commander-in-chief,” Shachnow stated.”[JewishInsiderNYTLetter Watch Sidney Shachnow on CSPAN's BookTV in 2004 [CSPAN] h/t Howard Mortman

“What Should American Jews Make of Ivanka Trump?” by Emma Green: “The biblical story of Esther is an imperfect allegory for the Trump family, but as for Ivanka, the comparison isn’t half bad. Esther is a Jewish woman who conceals her identity when she becomes the bride of a powerful king. It is only when she reveals who she is that she can save the Jewish people from an evil adviser plotting their destruction... like Esther, Ivanka’s Jewishness is veiled: Something she describes as an important part of her identity and family life—when she agrees to talk about it at all, which is rare—is essentially invisible to those who don’t know it’s there." [TheAtlantic]

Trump at a roundtable in Ohio: "Calling Obama a bad deal-maker, Trump said the result of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran “is going to destroy Israel — unless I get elected. Then Israel will be just fine.”"[Dispatch]

"Pro-Trump campaigners open field office in Jewish settlement" by Joshua Mitnick: "The Israeli chapter of Republicans Overseas kicked off the settlement push on Monday in a home in the town of Ginot Shomron. The group, a locally funded nonprofit, has no formal ties to the Trump campaign or the Republican National Committee — though it says it has coordinated with the Trump campaign."[LATimes]

“Tensions Deepen Between Donald Trump and R.N.C.” by Alex Burns and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Mr. Priebus’s chief of staff clashed in a tense meeting over the use of the committee’s war chest At a meeting in New York late last month, Mr. Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, pointedly challenged Katie Walsh, the committee’s chief of staff, over the party’s spending plans. In a tone that several witnesses described as imperious and aggressive, Mr. Kushner suggested that the national committee might not be giving Mr. Trump all the support he was due.” [NYTimes]

"Trump, Adelsons met last week in Las Vegas" by Shane Goldmacher: "After meeting privately in Manhattan with Trump the week before, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, attended a Trump fundraiser in Las Vegas last Friday, and were seated next to Trump at the head of a large u-shaped table. “Sheldon doesn’t go to those things. That’s kind of rare,” said Phil Ruffin. “They chatted,” Ruffin said of Trump and Adelson. “I don’t know what they said.” But, he added, “I assume there’s going to be a big check written at some point.”" [Politico]

“Where Has Hillary Clinton Been? Ask the Ultrarich” by Amy Chozick and Jonathan Martin:“It’s like going to a wedding or a bar mitzvah — you catch up,” explained Mitchell Berger, a Democratic donor in Florida, about the familial nature of the events. Mr. Berger would know: He has been raising money for the Clintons since he held a fund-raiser in his Fort Lauderdale office for Mr. Clinton the day after he announced his candidacy in 1991." [NYTimes]

LOOKING AHEAD: “Will Obama roll the dice on the Middle East one more time?” by Jackson Diehl: “Not surprisingly, the prospect of an Obama initiative — which could take the form of a speech, or at its most ambitious, a U.N. resolution — is producing “high anxiety in the Netanyahu world,” as one former administration official puts it In the end, Obama’s final decisions on the Middle East may be driven by another drama: the Barack and Bibi endgame. For now, the old rivals are cooperating on a deal that could burnish both their legacies. Israeli and U.S. sources say negotiations are essentially complete on a new 10-year bilateral defense pact that would boost annual U.S. military aid to Israel from $3 billion to close to $4 billion. For both leaders, the deal has a positive political twist. Obama would be able to point to it as proof that he was not, in the end, an anti-Israel president, in spite of his battles with Netanyahu over West Bank settlements and the Iranian nuclear deal. Netanyahu, who has good reason to worry about eroding support for Israel among U.S. liberals, would be able to describe the bounteous guaranteed funding as a Democratic initiative.” [WashPost]

President Obama's Reading List -- as told to Fareed Zakaria on Sunday: “The other book that I really enjoyed, a book by an Israeli author, Yuval Harari, called "Sapiens." And it's a sweeping history of the human race. From 40,000 feet and part of what makes it so interesting and provocative is that because it's such a condensed sweeping history it talks about some core things that have allowed us to build this extraordinary civilization that we take for granted, but weren't a given, and a it gives you a sense of perspective in how briefly we've been on this Earth, how short things like agriculture and science have been around and why it makes sense for us to not take them for granted.” 

“The Folly of Fighting Terrorism by Lawsuit” by John Bolton and Michael Mukasey:  “When Congress returns from summer break this week, it will face enormous pressure to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. Although enticingly named, Jasta is far more likely to harm the United States than bring justice against any sponsor of terrorism U.S. allies—principally although not exclusively Israel—also would be at risk. Jasta would provide potential plaintiffs a useful argument to justify suing Israeli government personnel in a foreign court. Such potential plaintiffs are numerous.” [WSJ]

Read the full Jewish Insider interview with new Israeli Consul General for New York Dani Dayan[JewishInsider]

“Israel maintains wary eye on Syria as conflict turns to 'balagan'” by Luke Baker: "There is a debate about whether we are at the beginning of the end or just the end of the beginning," [Avi] Dichter, the former director of Shin Bet and now chair of parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, told foreign reporters. "I know chaos is a better word for describing what is going on, but really it is 'balagan'," he said, using a Hebrew word with Russian roots that means total mess. "With chaos, you know when it is going to stabilize. 'Balagan' is something that no one really knows when it is going to be stable." [Reuters] "Israel MoD Proposes Easing of Restrictions for Defense Exports" [DefenseNews]

KAFE KNESSET -- Ehud Barak Come Back? -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: Residents of Tel Aviv and nearby cities on their way to work this morning were surprised to see mysterious road signs calling for a political comeback by former prime minister Ehud Barak: "Barak - you have to run, Bibi is ruining the country." Nobody knows who is responsible, and Barak himself is currently residing in Boston, where he is busy with business ventures and lectures. He hasn't responded to the media's interest in these signs. 

Still, it's common knowledge in political circles that Barak is toying with the idea of a comeback, which might explain his recent high-profile attacks against Netanyahu on a number of occasions. Activists in the Labor Party tell us that he has also renewed his contacts with the rank-and-file operators within the party, and despite the anger many still feel about the damage Barak wrought in his last term as its leader (2007-2012), some people are open to his return to the scene. 

"There is a growing trend in the party accepting the idea of Barak's comeback," one party insider told us, pointing out that the diminishing popularity of current party leader Isaac Herzog works in Barak's favor. "Barak speaks up against Netanyahu, while Herzog flirts with him about joining the government. The party is yearning for a leader that can replace Netanyahu, and people are starting to believe Barak is the one who can do it."

**Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI].  Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We'd love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel’s Space Communication says SpaceX owes $50 million or free flight[VentureBeat Lerer Hippeau’s Ben Lerer says FOMO is inevitable, but resistance is possible[TechCrunch]  Jonah Peretti's BuzzFeed Regroups as Media Turns Video-Centric [NYTimes ZCast wants to be the defacto mobile podcasting app for creators and consumers [VentureBeat Here is Rebecca Minkoff's Candid Advice to College Students [Forbes]

SPOTLIGHT: "Clash of Titans? Opponents of Pier 55 Have Secret Backer, Media Mogul Says" by Charles V. Bagli: "In their quest to build a huge new cultural pier on the West Side of Manhattan, the Hudson River Park Trust and Barry Diller, the media mogul who is paying for it, have faced one seemingly intractable opponent: the City Club of New York, a little-known civic group founded in 1892 that was all but dead a few years ago. But it has gone back to court repeatedly in the last year to stop the project... “The backer of all this,” Mr. Diller said in a recent interview, “is one Douglas Durst.”"[NYTimes]

PROFILE: "This former fat kid is now a billionaire heir playboy on the NYC party scene" by Dana Schuster: "But those close to Alex Soros say the 30-year-old is the Hamptons’ most unlikely playboy: working on his University of California at Berkeley Ph.D. thesis, entitled “Jewish Dionysus: Heine, Nietzsche and the Politics of Literature,” by day and cavorting with the young and beautiful by night... In 2010, Alex, who declined an interview with The Post, enrolled at Berkeley to pursue a doctorate in modern European history. The following year, he joined the board of his father’s charity, Open Society Foundations, embracing causes like human rights in Africa." [NYPost]

WEEKEND WEDDING -- Susanna Fried, David Cohen: "The couple met as 14-year-olds at Blue Star Camps, a Jewish sleep-away camp in Hendersonville, N.C. The bride, 26, works in New York as an associate director of development at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Her father is the executive vice president for law, policy and governance and the board secretary at L Brands... The groom, also 26, is studying for a law degree at N.Y.U... Until June 2014, he was an assistant director in the Office of Cabinet Affairs at the White House. His mother retired as an early-childhood special education teacher at the Children’s Rehabilitation Center in White Plains. His father is the president of a real estate development firm in New York that bears his name. The groom’s father is also a former president of AIPAC and is now the chairman of its board." [NYTimesPic]

Courtney Galiano, Jonah Platt: "Courtney Galiano, the daughter of Toniann Galiano and James V. Galiano of Dix Hills, N.Y., was married Sept. 4, to Jonah Platt, a son of Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt of Los Angeles. Rabbi David Wolpe officiated with assistance from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin at the Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu, Calif. The bride, 28, is a dancer who is a series regular on “Hit The Floor,” a show on VH1 about a fictional dance squad for a professional basketball team in Los Angeles. The groom, 29 is an actor who until July was appearing as Fiyero in the Broadway company of “Wicked.” The groom’s mother is the chairwoman of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a trustee and alumni president of University of Pennsylvania. His father is a television, film and theater producer in Los Angeles." [NYTimesPic]

Missy Mlotek, Zach Schonbrun: "Marissa Mlotek and Zach Schonbrun were married Sept. 4 at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, N.J. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court, who is a cousin of the groom, officiated, with Rabbi Avram Mlotek, a cousin of the bride, taking part." [NYTimesPic]

BIRTHDAYS: Director of the Robotics Laboratory at the Technion, Jacob Rubinovitz turns 69... New Jersey Governor Chris Christie turns 54... Chess Grandmaster since age 14, Ben Finegold turns 47... Chief Communications Officer at Bloomberg LP, formerly assistant press secretary in the White House, Jason Schechter... Toronto-based publisher and philanthropist, Elisa Morton Palter... Rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis, Avi Olitzky... Daniel Flesch, senior analyst at Avascent and veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and an AIPAC alum (h/t Playbook)... 

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