Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Aug. 13. Photo by Dan Balilty/Reuters

Daily Kickoff: Bibi tells Congress they should remove sunset clause from Iran deal | Rabbis ditch traditional White House call | Saudi-Ashkenazy ties


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DRIVING THE CONVO: Rabbi Lookstein says he’d join a Trump High Holidays call — by Jacob Kornbluh: Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism, told Jewish Insider that he would join a pre-High Holidays conference call between President Trump and Synagogue Rabbis despite his recent criticism of Trump’s response to Charlottesville. Rabbinical groups representing the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements announced yesterday that they will not continue the tradition of participating in a High Holidays conference call with Trump, accusing the President of giving “succor to those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia.”

Asked if he’d join a call for rabbis with the President, Lookstein said: “Yes! Absolutely! He is the president of my country.”

Jeff Berkowitz, Founder and CEO of Delve LLC and previously a White House Jewish liaison questioned the motive of the rabbis’ statement. “The statement, and having a paid political consultant (West End Strategy) promoting it, is a strange and unfortunate politicization of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar that does nothing to further the Jewish community’s interests,” Berkowitz said. [JewishInsider

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center, told the NYTimes that events in Charlottesville had sent a deep shudder through the rabbinical community. He said Jews were appalled by the experience of rabbis in Charlottesville, who feared that they would become the targets of neo-Nazi violence, and by Mr. Trump’s equivocal response. “Charlottesville created a new reality,” Rabbi Pesner said. “It’s not that big a rabbinical community. We’re all showing up for each other and there’s a lot of anger out there.” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s inaugural rabbi: The president could learn a thing about white nationalists and neo-Nazis from the eclipse” by Allan Smith: “Rabbi Marvin Hier… said the eclipse… provides the perfect metaphor for the white nationalists and neo-Nazis… “The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, yet the moon had the capacity to do a complete eclipse on the sun,” he said… Something “small by comparison can blot out and blacken the sun … it can be completely darkened by the moon,” he continued. “That’s what these fanatics can do to the planet Earth if we don’t wake up.” Hier noted that the US “caught on late” to the Nazi movement in Europe in the 1930s. “Let’s not catch on late now,” he said.” [BusinessInsider

Haim Saban on Trump: “I disagree with the president with what appears to be a moral equivalence being drawn between the Nazis, who are shouting, ‘Kill the Jews,’ and the protesters who came to counter that statement. [Still] I do not believe that President Trump is a Nazi or anti-Semite.” Black Lives Matter, meanwhile, “is clearly an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel group.” [THR

“Charlottesville’s Racists Are Rattling Israeli Politics” by Zev Chafets: “If Trump gets the impression that Netanyahu is cooperating with Republican rivals, a tweet or two could seriously weaken his “I am the indispensable prime minister” defense, not to mention his political future.”[BloombergView]

“Benjamin Netanyahu: neo-Nazi slogans in the streets of America are ‘no small thing'” by Herb Keinon: “Prefacing his remarks by saying that he did not want to get into the internal US debate about the rally and President Donald Trump’s response to it, Netanyahu said, “I can say unequivocally: It’s no small thing that people march with Nazi, neo-Nazi slogans.” … Netanyahu blamed the media for not adequately covering his condemnation of the marchers. “I said, and of course our media did not exactly cover it, that these people should crawl back under the rock they came from. I usually choose my words carefully, but that was a very harsh statement. This, of course, was not covered and led to all sorts of irrelevant interpretations.”

“The statement about the need for the neo-Nazis to “crawl back under the rock” … was not said by him publicly, but rather in a conversation with Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer. Dermer quoted the prime minister in a Facebook post put up on his Facebook page on August 14… Dermer said he spoke to Netanyahu about the events and that the premier “asked him to convey Israel’s outrage over the attack and over the expressions of antisemitism and racism.” [JPost]

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Kushner Cos. Switches to Crisis Manager for Media Relations” by Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski: “Eric Wachter, a vice president at public relations firm Finsbury, said he will now be handling press inquiries. He replaces Risa Heller Communications, hired before Kushner became a senior adviser in the White House to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. Wachter specializes in communications relating to crisis and issues management, litigation, government investigations, and public policy and regulatory matters. The change occurred this week.” [Bloomberg; Politico] • Wachter previously served as the associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington regional office.

“Russian ex-diplomat Kislyak downplays Trump campaign contacts” by Matthew Chance, Emma Burrows and Zachary Cohen: “Asked Wednesday if he and members of the Trump campaign — specifically Jared Kushner — discussed setting up secret channels to the Kremlin, Kislyak responded: “I’ve said many times that we do not discuss the substance of our discussions with our American interlocuters. Out of respect to our partners.” Kislyak also pushed back on claims that Trump disclosed secretive information about Syria during the now infamous Oval Office meeting… “I’m not sure that I heard anything that would be secretive, but it was a good meeting and we were discussing things that are important to your country and to mine,” he said.” [CNN

DRIVING THE DAY — Jared Kushner arrived in Israel today. “I’m very pleased to see you again, Jared, with your delegation. We have a lot of things to talk about: how to advance peace, stability and security in our region – prosperity too,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said before his meeting with the U.S. negotiating team in Jerusalem. “So I am happy to see you and the effort you’re leading on behalf of the President with Jason [Greenblatt] and other members of your team. I think this is a sign of the great alliance between us and the great goals that guide us.” [Pic]

Kushner to Bibi: “We are very appreciative of your team and the efforts they have made. The President is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area, and we really appreciate the commitment of the PM and his team to engaging very thoughtful and respectfully in the way the President has asked them to do so. The relationship between Israel and America is stronger than ever and we thank PM Netanyahu for his leadership and his partnership.” [Video]

“With Trump at War Over Charlottesville, Jared Kushner Tries to Bring Middle East Peace” by Emily Jane Fox: “Kushner is now in a position in which he has to travel abroad and preach moral authority even as his boss continues to erode the administration’s high ground at home. But as one Jewish leader explained to me this week, at least none of this comes as a surprise to those he is meeting with in the Middle East. “Last week wasn’t some revelation about who the president is. It was just a little more naked,” this person said. “And they’re so frustrated with the administration for their own reasons that it won’t even come up.” “These guys are real politicians,” the Washington veteran noted to me. “And they know that Jared is the last person to hold Trump accountable for his sins on this issue. He’s without that kind of a moral center.”” [VanityFair

“Jared Kushner won’t find his job in Israel easy” by Aaron David Miller: “The Kushner trip might actually be considered something of a success if the United States managed to identify an approach that Abbas and Netanyahu didn’t blow out of the water immediately… Still, another trip or two without producing a visible sign of progress…  will erode what remains of Kushner’s credibility on this issue. And the parties will grow accustomed to his visits and weary of his talking points… And the President’s political travails at home.. have raised serious questions about Trump’s capacity and focus to deliver on the peace process.” [CNN]  

“Kushner already had his work cut out in the Middle East. But it just got harder” by Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash: “Dan Shapiro… said he had been “hopeful” earlier this year on Trump’s chances to make some progress because both sides were eager to maintain good relations with Washington… “As the political circumstances of the leaders in the region have changed and deteriorated from the point of view of their flexibility, and as president Trump’s own standing has taken a beating because of his domestic controversies, I believe his leverage has declined significantly.”” [WashPost]

“Can Trump’s Ex-Lawyer Jason Greenblatt Achieve Middle East Peace?” by Petra Cahill: “While he lacks any diplomatic experience, when he arrives in the region, people know he’s close to Donald Trump,” said [Professor Yossi] Mekelberg. “Someone who has a direct line with the president — you have to take him seriously.” And Mekelberg sees the lack of expectations around the Trump administration’s foray into the morass of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a good thing. “The level of expectation of the international community is so low, that in a strange way, it’s actually good. Because you can’t let them down anymore.” [NBCNews]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert: “We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. It has to be workable to both sides. And I think, really, that’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it. It’s been many, many decades… that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and sustainable solution to this.”

JI INTERVIEW — Netanyahu tells Congress: Remove sunset clause from Iran deal — by Aaron Magid: During a meeting with Republican Congressmen this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the lawmakers to “get rid of the sunset clause” from the nuclear agreement, Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) said. “That was something new. I have always heard get rid of the treaty. Here is a comeback saying maybe we can change the sunset clause and pursue something in the middle,” Bacon explained.

The members of Congress also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. According to Bacon, Hamdallah “agreed that Palestine should not be a militarized or in other words be demilitarized. I think that was a pretty significant concession that the Palestine side needs to be demilitarized.” [JewishInsider]

“Haley Conveys Concern Over Iran Nuclear Deal to IAEA” by Jonathan Tirone: “UN Ambassador Nikki Haley met International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano on Wednesday over the July 2015 agreement… Haley “discussed U.S. concerns about ensuring Iran strictly adheres to its obligations, noting that IAEA reports can only be as good as the access Iran grants to any facility the IAEA suspects of having a nuclear role,” according to a State Department email.” [Bloomberg]

“Qatar to Send Ambassador Back to Iran” by Nicolas Parasie: “Qatar announced Thursday it is sending its ambassador back to Iran, defying a key demand from a Saudi-led bloc of Arab nations that it reduce its ties with Tehran… Qatar recalled its ambassador to Iran in early 2016, after Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Saudi Shiite cleric triggered attacks on two Saudi diplomatic compounds in Iran. In announcing that Qatar was returning its envoy to Iran, the country’s Foreign Ministry said the move represented its desire to “strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields.”” [WSJ

“UN force in Lebanon pushes back after US, Israeli criticism” by Sarah El Deeb: “France’s deputy U.N. ambassador Anne Guegen, whose country is in charge of drafting the council resolution renewing the mandate, told reporters that “it is of paramount importance for the stability of Lebanon and the region, and in the best interest of all, that UNIFIL keeps its mandate and is in a position to fulfill it, with the full backing and confidence of the Security Council.” … Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon told the AP that U.N. forces should have an increased presence in their area of operations, with more patrols and without any restrictions on its movements. He also said the mission should be gathering “real-time updates” about violations.” [AP]

** Good Thursday 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: Janet Yellen’s Future at the Fed Unresolved Heading Into Jackson Hole [WSJ] • Israel’s El Al Counts on New Boeing 787s to Lure Back Customers [Reuters] • Barry Diller’s Match Group tried to acquire Bumble for $450 million [TechCrunch] • Chelsea Clinton told guests at billionaire scion Alex Soros’ Hamptons home that her mom is “fine” after her election loss [DailyNews] • Roman Abramovich spotted on his £312 million yacht near his Antibes home [DailyMail]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “A Little Startup Taking Customers From IBM Watson Just Raised Millions To Go For More” by Alex Konrad:“Nate Storch loves to meet with companies working with IBM Watson for text analytics. That means there’s a good chance they’ll soon be customers of his little startup, Amenity Analytics. Amenity Analytics plays in the natural language processing space, meaning it helps customers feed in huge amounts of documents and extracts meaningful, readable insights from phrases and patterns flagged in those texts. Now the startup has raised $7.6 million in a Series A funding round from an Israeli VC firm, State Of Mind Ventures, to take more.” [Forbes]

SAUDI-ASHKENAZY TIES: “The Plaza Is for Sale, but a Part-Owner Has Other Ideas” by Charles Bagli: “Subrata Roy, the embattled chairman of the India-based Sahara Group and the principal owner of the Plaza, who has repeatedly put the hotel up for sale without ever making a deal, is looking for a buyer once again. But Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, a New York investment and development company, which together own a 25 percent stake in the hotel, have their own plans for the Plaza. And they don’t include Mr. Roy. The prince, who has been an owner of the hotel since 1995, formed a partnership with Ashkenazy earlier this year to buy out Mr. Roy and restore the Plaza to its five-star grandeur.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The biggest political event yesterday in Israel was a wedding. The daughter of coalition chairman and Bibi loyalist, David Bitan, got married. The Prime Minister and Sarah themselves made an appearance. Netanyahu took the microphone to wish the new couple well, and praised “my friend David.” Bitan has organized pro-Netanyahu rallies and went to the media to fight for Bibi and defend him from corruption allegations when no one else in the Likud would. In his remarks, Netanyahu thanked Bitan repeatedly for his “courage.” “I had a feeling that he would be an excellent coalition chairman, but he surprised me. He is even more outstanding than I thought!” the premier said. The way to Bibi’s heart is through defending him in the fake news media, apparently. Other attendees, by the way, included cabinet ministers, opposition chairman Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) and MKs from the opposition and coalition. Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef performed the wedding. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Rabbi claims he was vilified for welcoming non-white members” by Lia Eustachewich: “Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel Viñas, a Sephardic Jew who trained as an Orthodox rabbi, claims the board at Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers has a “long history” of discriminatory practices against “non-Whites.” … Viñas, who joined the synagogue in 2003, claims one board member, Helen Schwartz, commented, “Wouldn’t it be terrible if the darkies took over the synagogue?” without realizing the rabbi’s Cuban background. In 2011, Schwartz also allegedly complained to a director that Viñas wasn’t actually Jewish because of his “Sephardic/Hispanic background.”” [NYPost

“Bipartisan group urges Rex Tillerson to deport Nazi war criminal living in Queens” by Reuven Blau: “Jakiw Palij, 92, worked as a guard at the Nazi German Trawniki SS training camp in occupied Poland. “Mr. Palij supported the Nazi regime during the Holocaust,” the letter to Tillerson reads… “We are deeply concerned that the deportation of Mr. Palij is stalled,” the letter states. “Without very high-level involvement by your office and others in the administration, it appears likely that countries will not be willing to accept him.”” [NYDailyNews] • Property manager accused of adorning Queens condo with swastikas, Hitler posters [TRD

TRANSITION: “Top think tank hires ex-WSJ reporter Jay Solomon for North Korea project” by Michael Wilner: “Jay Solomon will serve for three months as a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, focusing on Pyongyang’s sale of missile systems from Yemen and Egypt to Syria and Iran. “I’m glad that we’re able to do this with Jay– he’s such a dogged reporter,” said Robert Satloff, executive director of the Institute… Solomon said he looks back fondly at his two decades at the Journal and regrets the episode. “I’m just sad about the whole thing. Dealing with Iran is so murky– it’s hard to fully understand what your sources are doing,” Solomon said. “I am not an arms dealer, I didn’t go to business with anyone.”” [JPost]

“Jack Rosenthal, Times Journalist and Civic Leader, Is Dead at 82” by Sam Roberts: “Jacob Rosenthal (he changed his name to Jack “to be more American,” he said) was born on June 30, 1935, in Tel Aviv to Manfred Rosenthal, a judge who became a bookkeeper after fleeing Nazi Germany, and the former Rachel Kaplan, a Lithuania native whom he had met while she was vacationing in the Middle East. Jack was 3 when the family moved to the United States to join relatives in Portland, Ore… Mr. Rosenthal joined The Times in Washington as its first national urban affairs correspondent (and among the last reporters to take notes on yellow legal pads with a fountain pen).” [NYTimes]

LongRead: “This Big Beef Exposes The Ugly Underbelly of Vegan Vlogging” by Roni Jacobson: “This wasn’t what [Anna] Scanlon, who is 33, had signed up for when she began vlogging in 2014. A scholar who researches the Holocaust, she’d started a beauty and lifestyle channel on YouTube for fun. After she was diagnosed with lupus and a chronic illness called interstitial cystitis in 2015, she started talking more and more about veganism as a way to cope with newfound dietary restrictions.  At first, Scanlon ignored the hate. She blocked Marlowe on YouNow and didn’t watch his videos about her. She also refused to read the sexist and antisemitic hate pouring forth about her in the comments section next to the stream, where commenters called her a “hideous jew” and said that they wished her family had “burned in the ovens.” But Marlowe’s followers nonetheless swarmed the comments section of her own profile.” [Wired

THE NEW FOMO — by Nick Stockton: “This other type of FOMO, the all-news, all-the-time kind, is new enough that nobody has really studied it much, yet of the half-dozen experts in sociology, anthropology, economics, and neurology I spoke to, all quickly recognized what I was describing, and some even admitted to feeling it themselves. “We scroll through our Twitter feeds, not seeking anything specific, just monitoring them so we don’t miss out on anything important,” says Shyam Sundar, a communications researcher at Pennsylvania State University. This impulse could stem from the chemical hits our brains receive with each news hit, but it could also derive from a primitive behavioral instinct—surveillance gratification-seeking, or the urge that drove our cave-dwelling ancestors to poke their heads out and check for predators.” [WiredMag]

DESSERT: “American Dream Announces Food Court Plans, World’s First Kosher Dining Hall” by Cecilia Levine: “The American Dream in East Rutherford… will feature fine restaurants and global cuisine “that will please the most discriminating palates,” the website says. “Combining the best of New York, celebrity chefs and global cuisine, the restaurants at American Dream™ will attract local, regional and international guests.”” [DailyVoice

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker turns 65… CNN political analyst and former moderator of Meet the Press, David Gregory turns 47… Professor at UCSD and the 1990 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Harry Markowitz turns 90… Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, he also teaches at Cardozo Law School, he is also the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jehuda (The Yorkville Synagogue) in NYC, Rabbi J. David Bleich turns 81… Director of geriatric care management at the law offices of Roy W. Litherland, Lois G. Tager turns 76… Co-founder and president of Infinity Broadcasting (now known as CBS Radio), he eventually became the president and CEO of CBS, then he was the CEO of Sirius Radio (2004-2012), Mel Karmazin turns 74… Celebrity furniture designer known for his eponymous furniture brand, Dakota Jackson, Inc., he was born in Rego Park, Queens, NY as David Malon, Dakota Jackson turns 68… Senior principal at TSD Communications, formerly worked for Senator Ted Kennedy and the Obama White House, Ricki Seidman turns 62… Co-chair of the Real Estate practice and the Infrastructure practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, he is active in the RJC and serves on many Jewish communal boards, J. Philip Rosen turns 61… Essayist and long-time staff writer for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik turns 61… Actor, producer and director Steve Guttenbergturns 59…

President of Pace University since August 2017, he was president of Oberlin College for ten years (2007-2017), Marvin Krislov turns 57… Woodland Hills, California resident, she is a professional organizer, Donna Barwald turns 55… 1986 winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Children of a Lesser God, she is the only deaf performer to have won the award, Marlee Matlin turns 52… British Internet entrepreneur, journalist and blogger, he founded and ran the blog collective Gawker Media until it was bankrupted by Hulk Hogan, Nick Denton turns 51… Member of the Colorado House of Representatives (2000-2008), the last four years of which he served as Speaker, Andrew Romanoff turns 51… Regional Director of the Chicago office of the Anti-Defamation League, Lonnie Nasatir turns 48… President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of MLB’s Texas Rangers, Jon Daniels turns 40… CEO of the JCommerce Group, an e-commerce enterprise that services the Jewish community, David M. Perelman turns 28… Chief of staff at NYC-based HOF Capital, she was previously an events specialist for the Northeast Region of AIPAC, Samantha Rose (“Sammy”) Feinstein turns 27… Assistant White House press secretary, previously a staffer at the Republican National Committee, Natalie Strom (h/t Playbook)…

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