Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff: July 9, 2019

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HEARD YESTERDAY AT CUFI — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Addressing the Christians United for Israel summit in Washington D.C., Vice President Mike Pence condemned Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for comparing immigrant detention facilities on the southern border to “concentration camps.”

“We must never allow the memory of those lost in the Holocaust to be cheapened as a cliche to advance some left-wing political narrative,” Pence said, referring to Ocasio-Cortez as a “leading Democrat in Congress” who is “shamefully” supported by her Democratic colleagues and “the left-wing” media. “To compare the humane work of the dedicated men and women of customs and border protection with the horrors of the Holocaust is an outrage.” 

The vice president also repeated his call to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “Anyone who slanders the historic alliance between the United States and Israel should not be sitting on the Foreign Affairs Committee on the House of Representatives,” he said. [JewishInsider]

While extolling the contributions of Jewish people to the United States, Pence referred to the American Jewish community by the biblical phrase “the people of Israel.” 

“Since the founding of this nation… the people of Israel have been at the very heart of the American people,” he told the CUFI summit. “And all of you gathered here and the six million that you represent across this country, continue this great tradition.”

Pence on Iran: “Let me be clear: Iran should not confuse American restraint with a lack of American resolve. We hope for the best, but the United States of America and our military are prepared to protect our interests and protect our personnel and our citizens in the region.”

“Omar has to go,” said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). But McCaul acknowledged that the decision to expel Omar from the committee is in the hands of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chairman of the HFAC Eliot Engel (D-NY). “Ultimately that’s a decision for Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Engel, but as for me, as for me, I think Omar has to go,” McCaul said.

— Flashback to March 25, 2019: Ilhan Omar’s Presence Looms Large Inside and Outside AIPAC (also held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center) [Observer]

National Security Advisor John Bolton touted measures taken against the Palestinian Authority and funding cuts to UNRWA and other aid programs, that he said would only be restored following direct negotiations with Israelis and rejection of terrorist activity.

“We will not allow the PLO office in Washington to reopen until the Palestinians start direct and substantive negotiations with the Israelis,” Bolton said. “We will not support UNRWA until it uses American aid to assist people in emergency situations and stops funding those promoting hatred toward the United States of America and its citizens. And we will not restore funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops its vile practice of paying terrorists and their families for murdering innocent Americans and Israeli men, women and children.”

Jason Greenblatt, the White House’s Mideast peace envoy, told CUFI that Iran is “a significant spoiler” to the administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. “We are just going to have to do everything we can to make sure that they don’t undermine our efforts; they don’t cause mischief, significant trouble,” Greenblatt said during a conversation with CUFI’s co-executive director Shari Dollinger. “We are watching it closely.” [JewishInsider]

Addressing the summit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded Israel for upholding freedom of religion for its Christian minority.

“Modern Israel is the only truly free nation throughout the entire Middle East,” he said. “It has an enormous respect for religious freedom… Israel is a majority Jewish nation, but the government doesn’t force Jewish beliefs on others.” Pompeo compared the situation to other countries in the Middle East, where Christians are systematically persecuted. “Before 2003, there were an estimated 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq,” he said. “Today, sadly, almost a quarter of a million.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — The administration is considering inviting Palestinian journalists to the White House to sell the Trump peace plan, Jason Greenblatt told Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam. “One idea would be potentially inviting Palestinian journalists to the White House, or maybe somewhere more neutral, and have our team make presentations directly to the Palestinian media and have Palestinian media be able to see and explain to the people what the plan is all about,” Greenblatt told the publication.

IRAN WATCH — On Monday, President Trump spoke by phone with French President Emmanuel Macron. “They discussed ongoing efforts to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon and to end Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the Middle East,” the White House said.

Rob Malley of the International Crisis Group outlines the three likely scenarios following Iran’s breach of the 2015 nuclear deal. “The U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA did not kill the deal,” Malley, a former Obama official, writes, “but new sanctions have made it difficult for anyone else to save the accord.”

On Tuesday, Iran’s military “vowed to retaliate against the seizure by British Royal Marines of an oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar last week,” accordingto Bloomberg News. “It will be reciprocated, at a suitable time and in a suitable place,” Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff for Iran’s armed forces, was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

DRIVING THE DAY — President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will meet with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the White House.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Qatar has offered to mediate between the U.S. and Iran to de-escalate the situation and “build some sort of path to dialogue.”

On Monday, the president attended a banquet hosted by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for the emir and his delegation, held in the Treasury Cash Room at the Treasury Department.

“In today’s world, at times, alliances have to be made with necessary partners, and certain allies are not actually friends,” the Qatari leader told Trump. “But with the United States and Qatar, we are partners, allies, and friends.” 

Trump and Mnuchin were joined by Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker, cabinet members and senior administration officials. [Pic]

Business leaders in attendance included Thomas Barrack, Pete Briger, Dina Powell, Ron Burkle, Michael Corbat, Bruce Flatt, Jonathan Gray, Robert Kraft, Stan Kroenke, Eli Miller, Brian Thomas Moynihan, Michael Ovitz, John Paulson, Tony Ressler, Steve Roth, David Rubenstein, Ray Washburne, Rick Caruso, Josh Friedman, Mike Meldman, Arnon Milchan, Mike Milken, Hank Paulson, David Simon, and Tony Sayegh.

HOW IT PLAYED — Trump invites business leaders (including Robert Kraft) to meet with Qatari emir — by Katie Rogers: “To reinforce the United States’ close partnership with Qatar — a tiny, gas-powerful Middle Eastern country — the president stocked the guest list with administration-friendly business leaders and politicians…  [Robert] Kraft, 78, is one of the National Football League’s most powerful owners, but his attendance still stood out… The timing of Mr. Kraft’s Cash Room visit — hours after the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who used to run in the same social circles as Mr. Trump, was arrested on charges of sex trafficking — seemed lost on both host and attendees.” [NYTimes

SUN VALLEY WEEK —  “Patriots owner Bob Kraft, a longtime regular, will be sitting out this year’s Sun Valley in the wake of allegations he solicited prostitution at a Florida massage parlor.” [NYPost]

At Sun Valley, plenty of sellers but few buyers — by Jessica Toonkel: “Media and tech moguls gather at Sun Valley in Idaho this week for the annual Allen & Co. conference after one of the biggest years for deals in media in decades. Now the question is which company will be swallowed up next… The most obvious potential acquirer is Shari Redstone’s empire, including Viacom and CBS. The two companies are expected to announce a merger in the next few weeks.” [TheInformation]

SPOTLIGHT — Last Woman Standing: Belittled by Viacom and CBS executives and insulted by her own father, Shari Redstone now sits atop a $30 billion media empire — by Irin Carmon: “The onetime stay-at-home mother of three is now around the same age her father was when he leveraged his father’s Massachusetts nightclub turned movie-theater business into a global TV-and-movie conglomerate. The media industry Sumner Redstone disrupted a generation ago has changed almost beyond recognition, its future as precarious as it has ever been. If the CBS-and-Viacom merger goes through, his daughter will have asserted her role as one of the most powerful individuals shaping what we watch and stream in the decades to come — assuming, that is, she’s as cunning and lucky as her father.” [NYMag] 

TOP TALKER — Financier Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sex trafficking in federal court in Manhattan on Monday, two days after he was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Prosecutors also seized hundreds of photos of underage girls from a safe in his Manhattan townhouse. The arrest and indictment have shone a spotlight on many of Epstein’s high-profile associates, including former President Bill Clinton, attorney Alan Dershowitz and Victoria’s Secret owner and philanthropist Leslie Wexner.

Mystery around Jeffrey Epstein’s fortune and how he made it — by Tom Metcalf, Caleb Melby and Sophie Alexander: “For all his infamy, there are scant details of how [Epstein] made his money. While he’s frequently been called a billionaire, his net worth is hard to ascertain… few on Wall Street have dealt with him as a financier or money manager. According to his lawyers more than a decade ago, he had a net worth in excess of nine figures. Today, so little is known about Epstein’s current business or clients that the only things that can be valued with any certainty are his properties.” [Bloomberg]

TOP-OP — Daniella Greenbaum Davis writes… “Where is the outrage from the right over Ben Garrison’s White House invite? Compare Garrison’s cartoon to the [New YorkTimes‘s cartoon of Netanyahu and Trump, and we see how similar they are… What doesn’t make sense is that the communities who rightfully condemned the New York Timesaren’t condemning Garrison’s invitation. Where is the outrage from Jews? Where is the outrage from Republicans?” [Spectator]

HEARD ON THE TRAIL — On Monday, following a town hall meeting in Peterborough, New Hampshire, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told activists of the left-wing Jewish group IfNotNow that she would push the Israeli government to end the “occupation” in the West Bank.

Activist: We are American Jews. We really love the way you’re fighting corruption. We’d really love it if you’d also push the Israeli government to end the occupation.

Warren: “Yes, yes. So I’m there.” [JewishInsiderVideo]

2020 BRIEFS — Elizabeth Warren rakes in $19 million despite no fundraisers… Donors put Julián Castro closer to securing a spot in Democrats’ fall debates… The ignoring of Kirsten Gillibrand: In 2019, it’s unforgivable for a presidential candidate to be boring. Maybe that’s our loss… Beto O’Rourke struggles to break out of crowded Democratic field… Eric Swalwell endspresidential bid after failing to gain traction.

IN NYC — A recount in the contested Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney is set to begin today by the New York City Board of Elections. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz currently leads public defender Tiffany Caban by 16 votes. The two campaigns are battling a disputeover hundreds of affidavit ballots.

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Ma’ariv’s Ben Caspit reportsKachol Lavan, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, has hired Joel Benenson, a former pollster for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as the party’s chief pollster and strategist for the September 17 election. Pollster Mark Mellman, who worked for the party in the April 9 elections, decided not to continue “for personal and professional reasons.”

** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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 Maniv Mobility raises $100 million for second venture fund [Reuters• Amazon’s fleet expansion a boost for Israel Aerospace [Reuters] • Sol Werdiger’s Outerstuff to launch esports apparel venture [EsportsInsider• Peter Shapiro named chair of HeadCount’s board of directors [Billboard] • easyJet to launch Tel Aviv – Toulouse flights [Globes]

HOLLYWOOD — Gal Gadot now has her first big Netflix project. The Israeli actress was already signed on to the art heist thriller Red Notice, alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. On Monday, Deadline reported that Ryan Reynolds has joined the film and Netflix has picked it up, with production set to begin next year. Deadline called the deal “arguably [Netflix’s] biggest commitment to a feature film.”

SPORTS BLINK — Cody Decker, a former professional baseball player who played for the San Diego Padres, announced his retirement on Sunday. Decker played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

LONG READ — Why Megan Rapinoe’s brother, Brian, is her greatest heartbreak, and hope — by Gwendolyn Oxenham: “In so many ways, Brian and Megan [Rapinoe, co-captain and star midfielder for the U.S. women’s national team] are alike. But they are also a study in contrasts…as a young inmate and gang member, Brian was inked with swastika tattoos — an allegiance to white supremacy that he now disavows… To Brian, the swastikas weren’t about prejudice and racism at that point — they were about heroin and survival. To support his addiction, he needed to be, in his words, ‘an active participant in prison culture.’” But by 2010, at age 30, Brian “had a new understanding of what the white supremacist insignias represented. He had his face tattoos lasered off. The swastika on his palm became a spider web; the Nazi lightning bolts became skulls.” [ESPN]

TALK OF THE TRIBE — Israel’s ambassador to Brazil mocked after non-kosher meal is clumsily concealed — by Ruth Eglash: “Israel’s ambassador, Yossi Shelley, shared the picture of him eating lunch with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. But someone appeared to have doctored the photo first, not very carefully scribbling over the offending lobster dishes of the two men to erase the evidence that an Israeli ambassador was eating something not kosher — unleashing a frenzy of jokes about lobsters, kosher food and sloppy photo-editing.” [WashPost

FIRST PERSON — How prayer helped me detox from the internet — by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt: “More and more, it feels like life is becoming an indecipherable blur of keeping up with emails and tweets and pundits and Instagram curation. I’m a slave to my inbox, to my group texts and my need to be ‘up to date.’ This takes time and mental space, and the first thing to go was my daily prayers. My phone quickly displaced my prayer book as daily reading, and though I had been raised to be idealistic, reverent even, I found myself increasingly cynical, angry… But what I learned was that God wasn’t the one who needed my prayers. It was I who needed them more… Prayer is the ability to say no to the demands of technology.” [Vox]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Principal who tried to stay ‘politically neutral’ about Holocaust is removed — by Sarah Mervosh: “A high school principal in Florida has been removed from his position over his refusal to state that the Holocaust was a factual historical event, saying that he had to stay ‘politically neutral’ about the World War II-era genocide of six million Jews… On Monday, the Palm Beach County school district announced that he would be stripped of his position as principal and reassigned to another job in the district.” [NYTimes]

ACROSS THE POND — More than 100 Jewish figures signed a letter in The Guardian published Monday, defending Chris Williamson, the Labor MP suspended and then reinstated over charges of antisemitism. Signatories included Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Ed Asner. The letter was quickly excoriated by many in the Jewish community, questioning the inclusion of many names on the list as well as the letter labeling criticism of Williamson as an attack on Jeremy Corbyn aimed at undermining the Labour party’s leadership.

TRANSITION — Jane Eisner, former editor-in-chief at the Forward, has been appointed the director of academic affairs at Columbia Journalism School.

DESSERT — Kosher bakery saved by new Muslim owner — by Bart Jones: “Long Island’s East End has only one place that’s kosher, a combination bakery-restaurant called Beach Bakery & Grand Café in Westhampton Beach. So when the business went up for sale last year, the Jewish community was understandably nervous that a new owner would stop serving kosher food… Their worry was for nothing. The man who bought the cafe, restaurateur Rashid Sulehri, is committed to keeping the meals kosher — and halal.” [Newsday]

BIRTHDAYS: Nobel laureate in Physics in 1975, he is Chicago-born but has lived in Copenhagen since 1953, Ben Roy Mottelson turns 93… Former Soviet refusenik, prisoner of conscience, human rights activist, author and translator, Iosif Begun turns 87… Constitutional law expert focused on the First Amendment and free speech, attorney at Cahill Gordon & Reindel since 1963, Floyd Abrams turns 83… Conductor and music director of symphony orchestras in Rotterdam, Rochester, Baltimore and Zurich, David Zinmanturns 83…

Orinda, California resident, Dr. William Gerald Gottfried turns 83… Principal of the Business Loan Connection based in Huntington Woods, Michigan, Robert M. Rubin turns 78… Arizona resident, Howard Cohenturns 78… Tikvah (Tiki) Lyons turns 71… Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta, Rabbi Ilan D. Feldman turns 65… United States Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham turns 64… Author, motivational speaker and former stockbroker, his autobiographical memoir, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was adapted into a film and released in 2013, Jordan Belfort turns 57…

Activist short seller, author and editor of the online investment newsletter Citron Research, Andrew Left turns 49… Actor, tour guide, poet, speaker, philosopher, author and voice actor, Timothy “Speed” Levitch turns 49… Bloomberg columnist covering national security and foreign policy, Eli Laketurns 47… Anchor and reporter for Fox Business Network covering the NYSE, Lori Rothman turns 46… Peter Webb turns 46… Research analyst at global executive search firm, Egon Zehnder, Samantha Hea turns 26… Left-handed pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Jake Kalish turns 28…

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