Paul Singer, founder and CEO of hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation, on May 8, 2013. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Daily Kickoff: Paul Singer on his politics and philanthropy | WH-Jerusalem comms bottleneck | Dem Senator’s tense ZOA speech | Natalie Portman BDay


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PEER-TO-PEER: In rare interview, Paul Singer discusses his upbringing and how he views politics and philanthropy: Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management, demonstrated his Jewish humor and opened up about his upbringing, love for music, and the philanthropic causes he supports during a rare wide-ranging interview with David Rubenstein, host of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” on Bloomberg TV, at the Bloomberg Invest New York summit this week.

Rubenstein: Where does the name Elliott come from? Singer: “My middle name. I thought it was better than Paul.”

Singer’s Jewish mother’s reaction when he gave up practicing law to enter the world of business: “Can you earn a living?” Rubenstein: I assume she is proud of you — Singer: “Yes she is”DR: Does she recognize that giving up the practice of law was probably a good idea? PS: “I hesitated because…” DR: Because she’s Jewish?… PS: “She hasn’t been in great shape for the last several years…” DR: But when she was in better shape, she must have called you today, ‘You are doing great’? PS: “Never. She called me once and said, ‘Your reports are too long.’”

Political affiliation — Rubenstein: Were you always a Republican? Singer: “I was a Stevensonian Democrat in 1956 and a Kennedy liberal. But starting with Goldwater I became a conservative.”

Singer on Trump: “I voted for him. I was not going to vote for Hillary Clinton as some of my Republican friends did. And I became optimistic about some of the opportunities – in economic growth, regulatory reforms, and tax reform.” DR: Did you know him before he was elected president? PS: “I did not. I invested in his bonds a couple of times (laughter). They were [high] on the date of issue.”

If Trump offered him an administration post: “I would say, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. President, but I am doing what I love doing and I’d be happy to render whatever help I can as a private citizen.”

As one of the early signers of the Giving Pledge, here’s how Singer views his philanthropy: “I am very interested in supporting Jewish causes, particularly Israel and the economic stability and growth of Israel, the acceptance of Israel, [and] the normalization of Israel’s relationship with other countries.”

Legacy and a dig at the NY Times — Rubenstein:
Let’s suppose the New York Times were to ask somebody to write an obituary for Paul Singer and let’s suppose they ask you to write the obituary, what would you like to see as the headline of what you had accomplished in your life? Singer: “Could it be the Wall Street Journal? It would help me think better (laughter)… ‘He tried to make a difference. He protected a lot of people’s capital over a long period of time. He was steady, reliable.’” Video of the interview and full recap by Jacob Kornbluh here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Unfilled State Dept. posts hamper daily Israeli-US ties” by Herb Keinon and Michael Wilner: “Understaffing in the State Department since the inauguration of President Donald Trump is affecting everyday communication between Jerusalem and Washington… There’s basically only one guy – Jason Greenblatt,” said a source who advises the president’s Middle East team. “That’s it. There’s no office, there’s no bureaucracy. Ron [Dermer] might talk to Jared [Kushner], and Jared might talk to Jason. But there’s no assistant secretary of state. There’s no special envoy. There’s no under-secretary, there’s no deputy secretary.” … The [Israeli] official said that the channel between the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House is important, “but it can only handle so much, only the most pressing issues – they can’t get to the day-to-day things that are important.” Michael Oren, deputy minister for diplomacy, said that the situation “does impact on us.” It is “important to have addresses,” he said.” [JPost

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Dept. spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Israel’s announcement about 2,500 units in the West Bank: “President Trump has talked about this consistently, and he has said, in his opinion, unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance the peace process. He’s been pretty clear about that. It doesn’t help the prospect for peace. That is something that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is important to this administration, and they will keep promoting that. They remain optimistic.”

Nauert on the report that Abbas has dropped his demand for a full settlement freeze: “I’m not aware of any diplomatic conversations about that very topic.” [Transcript

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says Israel is ‘closer than ever’ to regional peace deal: “We are far closer to an agreement than ever before,” Liberman told Channel 2 on Thursday… When asked how the deal would come together, Liberman responded: “Because Trump has arrived on the scene and because, as I keep saying, the Arab countries have internalized that their problem is not Israel. Israel can be a solution to the problem.” … “If you’re asking me whether Netanyahu is making every effort,” he added, “yes, he is. I can testify that he is making a great many efforts.” [ToI

–Aaron David Miller: “Extraordinary statement by senior Israeli official. Either Emperor has no clothes or…price for Gulf Arabs is one Israel’s willing to pay.” [Twitter]

“Trump didn’t know the Middle East could be so complicated” by Fareed Zakaria: “One of the great successes of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy was that they were able to woo Egypt into the American sphere, while simultaneously preserving an alliance with the shah of Iran… If the Trump administration wants stability in the Middle East, it should help broker a new balance of power. This cannot happen purely on Saudi terms. Iran is a major player in the region, with real influence, and its role will have to be recognized… This would not cede anything to Tehran. Iran’s influence would be countered by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Haley’s high heels in Israel — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: After a private helicopter tour of the country’s borders yesterday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley kicked off her third day in Israel at a meeting this morning with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the meeting, Liberman gave Haley a present: a special figurine of a high heel shoe embroidered with pearls and gold, with a plaque dedicated “to the USA’s New Sheriff.”  Liberman referred to Haley’s AIPAC speech last March, in which she declared that her high heels are not a fashion statement but a symbol of her intention to “kick them every single time” she sees something wrong. “You are a true friend of Israel, and we appreciate the great help and struggle you are waging against those who try to hurt us and defame us. So in gratitude I am giving you this souvenir and you are invited to use it if necessary …”

Moscow first? After the disappointment with President’s Trump delay on the much anticipated US Embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel is continuing the campaign and perhaps shifting the focus of the campaign to the east. Likud Minister Zeev Elkin called on Moscow yesterday to beat the US to the point and be the first country to announce an Embassy move. Speaking at a Russian Embassy event marking the country’s National Day in Tel Aviv, Elkin said “I cannot but wish that you and your country take advantage of the half-year hiatus that the President of the United States has unfortunately taken to win the competition between the two powers and be the first country to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem – before the Americans. This year in built Jerusalem!” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

ON THE HILL — House Members discuss bolstering financial pressure against Hezbollah — by Aaron Magid: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing yesterday devoted to increasing the economic pressure against Hezbollah. Dr. Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Studies (WINEP), called for harsher sanctions against Tehran due to its ongoing support of Hezbollah. While not undermining the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, “more vigorous action could be taken against entities such as the IRGC Quds Force, Mahan Air, and a host of other Iranian entities involved in Tehran’s support for terrorism,” he suggested.

In an odd moment during the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) asked, “Is Hezbollah — the people who make up Hezbollah — are they all Palestinians?” Rohrabacher added that he had previously assumed that the Palestinian refugees who fled to Lebanon were the ones who created Hezbollah.[JewishInsider] • Bronx Man Accused of Casing J.F.K. Airport for Potential Hezbollah Attack [NYTimes]

How Israel spots lone-wolf attackers: “Since its outbreak in late 2015, there have been hundreds of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis. If the violence has ebbed, it may be in part because the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have become better at forestalling attacks. Israeli spooks reckon they have lessons to offer Western countries struggling to stop lone wolves. These days IDF algorithms monitor the social-media accounts of young Palestinians to look for early-warning signs. These include “tripwire” terms such as the “sword of Allah” or “day of the sword”, associated with the writings of past attackers.” [Economist]

SCENE AT THE ZOA — “Dem Senator’s speech to conservative Jewish group gets tense” by Jonathan Swan: “Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown created a tense moment with a conservative pro-Israel audience when he told them he was concerned about “bigotry and anti-Semitism” at the highest levels of the Trump administration. Addressing the Zionist Organization of America’s event in D.C. on Tuesday, Brown said, “There are a whole lot of members in the Senate, in both parties, that are very concerned about the bigotry and the anti-Semitism in the White House.” It didn’t go down well… A source said there were boos and hisses, and a video shot at the event bears that out, with the crowd cheering every time Brown mentioned [Steve] Bannon’s name.” [Axios

NEW TRUMP GUARD — “Behind Trump’s silence: Why the counterpuncher let others do the punching” by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa: “A president who earlier in the week had been spoiling for a fight with Comey — and who sees his Twitter feed as both megaphone and weapon — was convinced by his personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz and senior aides to stay cool and lay low… Kasowitz and White House advisers… argued to Trump that they had a rapid-response operation in place Thursday to defend him as vociferously as he would defend himself, according to people familiar with the discussions… “Kasowitz was able to persuade the president that he would not give a Washington-style, tepid defense,” said a top Republican figure who is close to the White House. “Trump’s big charge with his staff is that they don’t defend him aggressively. And Kasowitz convinced him that not only will I defend you, but I will attack Comey where there’s room to.”” [WashPost

“‘We Are Going to Fight,’ Trump Says, but Calm Reigns During Comey Testimony” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “His top advisers, especially his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, were worried that the president would defy Mr. Kasowitz and take to Twitter to vent his pique with Mr. Comey… Mr. Kasowitz has met with many top staff members to advise them against discussing issues facing the president, even relatively innocuous ones, telling one aide, “Leave everything to me.” For their part, many of Mr. Trump’s aides were less than impressed by the public performance of Mr. Kasowitz.” [NYTimes]

DIDN’T LAST TOO LONG… “Trump just ended his second-longest Twitter drought since he declared his candidacy” by Philip Bump:”Trump came up tantalizingly short on setting a new record. Had he gone three more minutes, he would have set it, but [the first] tweet was slightly too early.”[WashPost; CNN]

SHABBAT TWITTER WATCH: Will Trump set off a tweetstorm while at his NJ golf course Saturday?

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “Kushner plans to meet with Senate intel staff as soon as this month, source says” by Manu Raju and Tom LoBianco: “Jared Kushner is expected to meet with Senate intelligence committee staff as soon as this month, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. It’s unclear when he will meet with members of the committee, the source added, and no date has been set.” [CNN; NBCNews]

Sen. Cory Booker on Comey’s testimony: “This testimony illustrates why what Kushner and others have been alleged to do is serious, grave and dangerous. The truth must come out.” [Twitter]

“Tech CEOs Cook, Bezos, Catz Said to Attend Kushner-Led Summit” by Mark Bergen  and Brian Womack: 
“The American Technology Council meeting will include a gathering of top executives followed by smaller sessions on particular topics, including those involving tech sales to government agencies, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters… The list of planned attendees include Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos, Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz and International Business Machines Corp. CEO Ginni Rometty, the people said. Alphabet Inc. plans to send Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Facebook Inc. also has been invited to send an executive to the summit, but it hasn’t yet replied to the invitation.”[Bloomberg

“Daniel C. Richman: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know” by Brendan Morrow: “During his Congressional testimony… former FBI Director James Comey said that he instructed a friend to leak a memo to a reporter in order to prompt a special counsel appointment… Comey did not name names, but he was referring to Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia Law School professor… In 2004, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Dan Richman to the position of chairman of the Local Conditional Release Commission… Students at Columbia say that he is an effective mentor and confidante. “I can’t count the number of people who have told me they rely on Professor Richman both inside and outside the classroom,” Elizabeth R. Cruikshank of the class of 2015 said. “And yet despite the sheer number of students who consult him and seek his help, none of those relationships ever feels routine or perfunctory.”” [Heavy]

Joe Lieberman on a paralyzed Congress: “Congress is paralyzed. Republicans can’t even agree with other Republicans. And for the most part, Democrats have endorsed a deliberate strategy of gridlock and resistance. Washington is perpetually engulfed by anonymous leaks and diversions. The end result is that the people’s business has taken a permanent back seat to politics and division. Now, more than ever, we have to recognize the importance of bipartisan action.” [CNN]

UK ELECTION: “‘Corbyn surge’ in London faltered in ‘bagel belt’ suburbs with strong Jewish vote” by Robert Philpot: “As the elections results Friday showed a drift back to Labour that cost Theresa May’s Conservative Party its parliamentary majority and left May battered and discredited, British Jews seemed to move sharply in the opposite direction… Given the closeness of the result, Jewish voters, who are concentrated in a small number of highly marginal seats, may potentially have helped preserve May’s premiership. Early indications had predicted that – in line with its strong performance in the capital – Labour would pull off a number of upset victories in the north London “bagel belt”. Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon and Chipping Barnet were all slated to fall to Corbyn’s party.. Both were contested by leading lights in the Jewish Labour Movement who had faced criticism within the community for attempting to unseat pro-Israel Tory incumbents.” [ToI] • Zac Goldsmith bounces back to regain Richmond Park seat [ITV]

David Horovitz: “Humiliation of May, rise of Corbyn, make gloomy news for Jerusalem: Netanyahu has wanted to believe that political forces in many places worldwide are shifting in what he considers to be Israel’s favor. Not in the UK, they’re not.” [ToI]

Mike Granoff tweets: “Only upside: more English speaking Israelis soon.”[Twitter]

** Good Friday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Teva has multibillion dollar drug [Globes] • Israeli tech firm turns parked car windows into video displays [Reuters] • Michael Cohen Pitched Investors For A Powerful Ukrainian Oligarch’s Company[BuzzFeed] • What’s the future of media? Ask BuzzFeed chairman and HuffPost co-founder Ken Lerer [Recode]

SPOTLIGHT: “Howard Schultz for President?” by Beth Kowitt: “Schultz has made it clear he’s concerned with the country’s direction… The Starbucks chairman is clearly focused on political developments. The day I interviewed him and [Kevin] Johnson in Schultz’s office, where photos of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy sit on the windowsill, the House was scheduled to vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Schultz asked a PR person twice in an hour whether the House had voted yet. Will he run for office? “I don’t have any plans to do that,” Schultz told me, and needless to say, that amounts to something less than a no. A politician couldn’t have said it better.”” [Fortune

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Rabbi Aaron Kotler talks Lakewood development, school funding during ‘Ask the Editor'” by Mike Davis: “Ten years ago, the township of Lakewood surpassed Trenton – the [NJ] state capital – in population. But over the last decade, township officials have been trying to keep up with a skyrocketing population using wildly outdated plans and policies, [Rabbi Aaron] Kotler said… But as for Lakewood residents leaving for the more rural pastures of Jackson, Toms River or Howell? That’s… because they’d grown tired of the city-like development…  But others move to Lakewood from apartment buildings in Brooklyn: For them, a townhouse or duplex is “rural,” Kotler said.” [APP]

MEDIA WATCH: “Vox’s Ezra Klein Explains it All” The editor in chief of Vox on why explaining policy is more important than ever” by Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke: “This is a very proud moment for journalism. I think The New York Times and The Washington Post are genuine champions in this moment. The role that they are playing in democracy is the role that you hear about journalism playing in civics classes. Other people are doing great work, but the Times and the Post have really been leaders. The public is watching, and they are hungry. They know something is wrong, there’s a lot of anxiety out there. There’s a real sense that the mission of journalism is very clear.” [WWD]

“America’s Descent Into Middle Eastern-Style Conspiracy-Theory Madness” by Lee Smith: “The American media has become just like the Arab press, consumed by savvy audiences not for the news it actually publishes but for the various pieces of information disclosed between the lines… What’s interesting here is the light this episode sheds on the modern conspiracy theory itself, the weaponized political narrative that began in Russia with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Thus it’s curious that the origins of the Kremlin Conspiracy can be found in the Kremlin itself… In a country of more than 300 million people, you can find a significant percentage of the population who will believe any wild story you can dream up—whether it’s Pizzagate, UFOs, Obama is a Kenyan Marxist, or the fact that Clinton lost because she was heavily criticized by a Russian television network that .001 percent of Americans watch.” [Tablet]

SPORTS BLINK: “Did LeBron James want Dan Gilbert to trade his ownership of the Cavaliers for the Detroit Pistons?” by Brian Manzullo: “So what I was told to me last night is … LeBron was willing to go back to Cleveland, but he wanted the Cavaliers’ ownership to buy the Pistons, and the Pistons’ ownership would take over the Cavaliers,” [Dan] Patrick said on his radio show… “[Tom] Izzo, friends with the guys who own the Pistons, they were then going to take over the Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert, who’s a Michigan guy, would get to then own the Pistons. And LeBron would then be able to play in Cleveland for the ownership of the Pistons as opposed to Dan (Gilbert).” [Freep]

“Patriots owner’s son piles onto the Jets misery” by Hannah Withiam: “Can’t the Patriots just let the Jets struggle in peace? The son of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Josh, twisted the knife on the Jets’ already miserable offseason by boasting the Patriots’ history of success during a visit to the franchise’s Hall of Fame on Thursday. “It’s a lot better than the Jets’ Hall of Fame, which is nonexistent,” Josh Kraft commented at the event.” [NYPost]

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — Nature vs. Nurture — The Dr. Mona Riklis Ackerman lecture Series on the Psychology of Philanthropy held its annual event last night at the NYU Kimmel Center. A Conversation on the Psychological Development of Philanthropy event included a high powered panel featuring Lisa Silverstein, Jacob Toll, Sarah Ojjeh and moderated by NYU professor Ed Seidman. This is the second installment in the series which last time featured Michael Steinhardt. The lecture series was established by Dr. Ackerman’s children – Bunk1 Founder Ari Ackerman and Dr. Gila Steinbock, in honor of their beloved mom who was a legend in NYC philanthropic circles. It celebrates her life and work as former clinical psychologist while acknowledging her position on the NYU faculty and a member of the NYU board of trustees.

Spotted: Ari Ackerman, Dr. Gila Steinbock, Lisa Silverstein, Jacob Toll, Columnist Richard Cohen, Patricia Duff, UJA President Jeff Schoenfeld, Ralph Lauren marketing director David Lauren, Sixty hotel owner Jason Pomeranc, AIPAC’s Jay Haberman, Marcia Riklis, David Gomberg, Lisa Ernst, Patricia Moran, Steven Gad, Adam Lowe.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Standup comedian Jackie Mason(born Yacov Moshe Maza) turns 89… Journalist for 30 years at CBS who then became the founding director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, Marvin Kalbturns 87… Retired Israeli diplomat Aviezer “Avi” Pazner turns 80… Author and founding editor of Ms. Magazine, mother of identical twin daughters, Robin Pogrebin and Abigail Pogrebin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin turns 78… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Maurice of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, noted for his art collection and for owning Saatchi Gallery, Charles Saatchi turns 74… Diplomat, Pentagon official, political writer, policy analyst, Shakespeare historian, he was national editor of Washingtonian magazine for more than 17 years, Kenneth Adelman turns 71… Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network (a broker/dealer network) and chairman of Southworth Development (golf and leisure business), Joseph Deitch turns 67… Professional mediator, previously a syndicated advice columnist in many Jewish newspapers (1995-2006), Wendy J. Belzbergturns 59… Formerly Israel’s military attache in DC (2005-09) who went on to become the IDF’s Chief of General Staff, Benjamin “Benny” Gantz turns 58… Producer, playwright and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin turns 56… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, an opposition research firm for political campaigns, previously a White House Jewish liason (2005-2006), Jeff Berkowitz turns 38… Jerusalem born actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman turns 36… Online producer, writer and director, who together with his brother Benny, are best known for their React video series which have billions of YouTube views, Rafi Fine turns 34… Senior associate at DC-based Precision Strategies, Jeffrey Francis (Jeff) Solnet turns 25 (h/t Playbook)… Entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies, which includes NEU, sunglass company Glass-U, medical app Dosed, and Boston based tutoring firm NexTutors, Daniel Fine turns 24… Joe Biden’s Deputy Press Secretary (2014-2017), Stephen Spector… Craig Appelbaum

SATURDAY: Author of award-winning books about her experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, Aranka Davidowitz Siegal turns 87… Emmy Award winning TV journalist who has worked for CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and PBS, Jeff Greenfield turns 74… Strategic communications director at the Generation to Generation program powered by Encore[dot]org, Stefanie “Stef” Weiss turns 59… Former Attorney General and then Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer turns 58… President of Skokie-based Pharmore Drugs, Avi H. Goldfeder turns 58… Film, television and stage actress, singer and author, Gina Gershon turns 55… Executive director of NYC-based Encounter Programs, designed to transform communal engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yona Shem-Tov… Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner newspaper Dovid Efune… Cathy Miller… Melbourne native, now director of strategic partnerships at the Birthright Israel Foundation and director of community education at NYC’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Rabbi Daniel Kraus turns 36…

SUNDAY: Heir to the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, minister in two British governments under prime ministers Major and Thatcher (1990-1994), Sir Timothy Alan Davan Sainsbury turns 85… Columbus, Ohio-based retail mogul, Chairman and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters, Value City Department Stores, DSW and others, sponsor of ArtScroll’s translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Jay Schottenstein turns 63… Hedge fund manager, now managing his own $13 billion net worth, Steven A. Cohen turns 61… Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Yoav Ben-Tzur turns 59… VP of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Duke University, based at Duke’s DC center, Michael J. Schoenfeld turns 55… President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami turns 55… White House Jewish liaison (technically, associate director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement) from 2013 to 2016, Matt Nosanchuk turns 52… Synagogue rabbi in Brooklyn and Perth Amboy, NJ in the 1990s, campus rabbi at UCLA, now national educational director for Olami Worldwide and founder of Shabbat[dot]com, Rabbi Benzion Zvi Klatzko turns 49… Chabad rabbi noted for his web based lectures, succeeded his father for some years as editor-in-chief of the Yiddish weekly Algemeiner Journal, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson turns 45… Israeli attorney Dana Naor Mande’el… Jennifer Rubin

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