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THE TRUMP WHISPERERS — NYTimes Names 20 Key Outside Advisors:“Trump Reaches Beyond West Wing for Counsel” by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “The media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Mr. Trump when he’s low and arguing that he focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues… Murdoch even called the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to buck him up after Mr. Spicer was savaged for a remark about Adolf Hitler.”
“The Clubgoers: Ike Perlmutter, the chief executive of Marvel Comics, who is so reclusive that there are few public photographs of him, has been informally advising Mr. Trump on veterans issues. The two men are old friends, and Mr. Perlmutter has been a presence at Mar-a-Lago. Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots is a Democrat, but his loyalty to Mr. Trump, Mr. Kraft once said, dates partly to the president’s thoughtfulness when Mr. Kraft’s father died.”
“Childhood Friend: Richard LeFrak. Their fathers were developers together in New York, and the two men have been friends for decades. Mr. LeFrak is a Mar-a-Lago member, and he agreed to be part of an infrastructure effort that Mr. Trump hopes to put forward. Mr. Trump has turned to him to vent frustrations about the slow pace of bureaucracy.” [NYTimes]
–The NYTimes credits Trump’s thoughtfulness when Bob Kraft’s father died but it was really when Kraft’s wife passed away: “When [Kraft’s wife] Myra died [in 2011], Melania [Trump] and Donald came up to the funeral in our synagogue, then they came for memorial week to visit with me,” Kraft told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. “Then he called me once a week for the whole year, the most depressing year of my life when I was down and out. He called me every week to see how I was doing, invited me to things, tried to lift my spirits. He was one of five or six people that were like that. I remember that.” [CBSSports]
LEFT OFF THE LIST — Ronald S. Lauder, the man who we’re told currently has Trump’s ear on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. According to multiple sources, Lauder is the one who has convinced Trump that ‘the ultimate deal’ between Israelis and Palestinians is achievable, a deal that has eluded each of Trump’s immediate predecessors. Lauder is said to have told the President that the Palestinians are ‘desperate’ for a deal and that ‘Israel is the problem.’ One prominent JI reader in the know even went so far as to characterize Lauder as “the Palestinian’s man in D.C.” According to the folks who think Lauder may be in over his head, there’s the belief that no matter what deal is presented to the Palestinians, it will be rejected. “They could put the ’08 Olmert deal before Abbas right now and he’d reject it,” another insider told us.
We reached out to Lauder’s representatives for comment and we’re still waiting for a response.
Our guess: Look for some other Trump whisperers, including those on the Times list and officials in the administration, to share their skepticism over ‘the ultimate deal’ in the coming weeks with Trump himself.
FLASHBACK to ’99: “New York cosmetics tycoon Ronald Lauder played a dramatic backstage role trying to broker a peace pact between Israel and Syria, but failed to seal a deal over the Golan Heights. Israeli and Syrian officials said Lauder, a former diplomat and mayoral candidate, frequently shuttled between Damascus and Jerusalem in the past year taking sensitive messages between Syrian President Hafez Assad and then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” [NYPost]
BACKSTORY: Ron Lauder’s relationship with Trump goes back decades to when the young real estate developer from Queens crossed the East River seeking to gain acceptance into Manhattan society. While not everyone accepted the brash developer, Ron’s mother Estée Lauder did. In 2004, Trump even partnered with Estée Lauder, the company, to launch ‘Donald Trump, The Fragrance.’
When the Trump administration was widely condemned by Jewish groups, including the Republican Jewish Coalition and the ZOA, for omitting any mention of Jews from their official White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ron Lauder was the sole Jewish leader who defended Trump. “It does no honor to the millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust to play politics with their memory,” Lauder wrote.
During the transition, Lauder met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach [Pic]
Last night, in a video message to the World Jewish Congress, Trump told delegates that “I want to thank Ronald Lauder, not only for his many years of friendship – and he truly has been my good friend, he even predicted early that I was going to win the presidency – but also for his leadership of this organization. He has done a fantastic job.”
Trump on Holocaust, anti-Semitism: “On Yom HaShoah, we look back at the darkest chapter of human history. We mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge: Never again. I say it, never again. The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror, and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide… Today, only decades removed from the Holocaust, we see a great nation risen from the desert and we see a proud Star of David waving above the State of Israel. That star is a symbol of Jewish perseverance. It’s a monument to unyielding strength… We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found. We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of.” [WJC]
HAPPENING TODAY — The World Jewish Congress will celebrate 80 years of activities at a gala on Ellis Island. Speakers include WJC’s Rabbi Joel Meyers and Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, among others. Panels during the day at the Midtown Hilton include a discussion on what it means to be a Jewish legislator today by Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Lee Zeldin, and Israeli successes in Hollywood moderated by Israel’s Consul General in LA Sam Grundwerg with the participation of actress Moran Atias, film and TV producer Howard Rosenman, and Adam Berkowitz, Co-Head of the TV dept. at Creative Artists Agency.
March of the Living — Today on Yom Hashoah, the March of the Living is commencing in Poland with over 10,000 participants from 30 countries. Over 250,000 students, survivors, and educators have participated in March of the Living to Poland and Israel since its inception in 1988. This year’s international march from Auschwitz to Birkenau is being dedicated to the memory of Joseph Wilf who passed away this past summer. Joe was the founding North American President of the March and, we’re told, always had a great pride in being part of its creation and watching its tremendous growth over the years. [MOTL]
POTUS SCHEDULE — President Trump will have a working lunch today with Ambassadors from countries that are on the U.N. Security Council, and at 2:30 pm, he will sign a proclamation on Holocaust Remembrance in the Oval Office. On Tuesday, the President will speak at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Day of Remembrance.
YESTERDAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE — Jason Greenblatt: “Torah study in the Indian Treaty room at the EEOB/White House. Thank you Benjamin B!” [Pic]
Will Trump visit Israel this summer? — Report by Ariel Kahana: “The U.S Administration and the Israeli government have begun to coordinate a possible presidential visit to Israel. Senior administration officials told their Israeli counterparts that President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley intend to visit Israel in the coming months, as none of them have ever been to Israel. No date has been set yet and at the moment the trip is only at the initial planning stages.” [NRG] • Worth noting: NRG is an Adelson-owned publication
ADELSON ‘WAITING PATIENTLY’ — “Republicans sound alarm on Trump’s troubles ahead of 2018” by Alex Isenstadt: “Adelson, the Las Vegas casino mogul, has privately complained about Trump’s failure to fulfill his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, three people close to the billionaire said. Adelson is also rankled that some people he recommended for administration posts haven’t yet been tapped. More fundamentally, Adelson is dismayed by what he sees as a state of chaos in the new administration, these people said… An Adelson spokesman, Andy Abboud, said the billionaire is “overall not angry or unhappy” with the president and is pleased with his decisiveness on certain issues. Adelson, he said, is waiting patiently for action on the embassy.” [Politico]
IRAN DEAL: In an interview with the Associated Press, Trump said “it is possible” that the U.S. will pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal over Iran’s activity in the Middle East region — AP: [Do] you believe that they are complying with the agreement? Trump: “No, I don’t say that. I say that I believe they have broken the spirit of the agreement. There is a spirit to agreements, and they have broken it.” AP: In terms of what they are doing elsewhere in the Middle East? Trump: “In terms of what they are doing of all over.” AP: When you talk to European leaders… what do they say about the nuclear deal? Do they want you to stay in that deal? Trump: “I don’t talk to them about it… I mention it, but it’s very personal when I talk to them, you know, it’s confidential. No, they have their own opinions. I don’t say that they are different than my opinions, but I’d rather have you ask them that question.” AP: At this point, do you believe that you will stay in the nuclear deal? Trump: “It’s possible that we won’t.” [AP] • Resistance group alleges Iran grossly violating nuclear deal [FoxNews]
DEEP DIVE: “Obama’s hidden Iran deal giveaway” by Josh Meyer: “Through action in some cases and inaction in others, the White House derailed its own much-touted National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time when it was making unprecedented headway in thwarting Iran’s proliferation networks. In addition, the POLITICO investigation found that Justice and State Department officials denied or delayed requests from prosecutors and agents to lure some key Iranian fugitives to friendly countries so they could be arrested. Similarly, Justice and State, at times in consultation with the White House, slowed down efforts to extradite some suspects already in custody overseas… And as far back as the fall of 2014, Obama administration officials began slow-walking some significant investigations and prosecutions of Iranian procurement networks operating in the U.S.” [Politico]
“State Dept. official reassigned amid conservative media attacks”’ by Nahal Toosi: “Some State Department officials believe the individual, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, was shifted because of the media attacks… Nowrouzzadeh, a Civil Service officer who helped shape the controversial Iran nuclear deal, had been detailed since last July to the secretary of state’s policy planning team, where she handled ongoing issues related to Iran and Gulf Arab countries… The State Department said in a statement that Nowrouzzadeh has returned to the Office of Iranian Affairs… Nowrouzzadeh is “very smart, deeply knowledgeable about Iran,” said Philip Gordon, who served as a top Middle East adviser to Obama… “If Donald Trump hasn’t torn up the Iran nuclear deal, it may be because he realized that would be a bad idea. And it’s not because one of his policy planning staffers has a family of Iranian origin.”’ [Politico]
OVER THE WEEKEND — Bibi was interviewed by Sean Hannity: “Netanyahu theorized to Sean Hannity about what the outcome would be in a confrontation where an “Islamist terror state” has nuclear weapons. He warned of irreparable damage and said “we cannot allow that to happen.” … Netanyahu told Hannity that his problem with Iran is not merely that it will violate the deal. He said if Iran does not violate the deal, in 12 years, it will “walks into unimpeded enrichment of uranium.”” [FoxNews]
KAFE KNESSET — ‘The strong survive’ — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Israel came to a standstill at 10:00 this morning for the Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) siren, as it does every year. Last night, at the opening ceremony at Yad Vashem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the lesson he learned from the Holocaust, which he said he keeps in mind when he shapes strategy for Israel: “The simple truth is that in our world, the existence of the weak is in doubt. When facing murderous countries and organizations, their chances of survival are not great. The strong survive; the weak are erased… The lesson is that we must be able to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against all threats and all enemies. Those who plan to annihilate us are placing themselves in danger of annihilation.” Despite that message, Netanyahu managed to surprise observers by only mentioning Iran once, far less frequently than in previous years.
President Reuven Rivlin also gave a powerful speech, in which he denounced those who see the Holocaust as just another example of mass murder and racism. Rivlin also said that Israel does not just exist to prevent another Holocaust and argued against those who think Jewish identity is just about escaping attempted genocide. “The Jewish People were not born in Auschwitz,” Rivlin pointed out. Read today’s Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]
FRENCH ELECTION — “French Jews Fear What’s Next After Marine Le Pen Makes It To The Second Round” by Annabelle Azadé: “Although most pundits predict that Macron will defeat Le Pen, Rabbi Moché Lewi was less relaxed. “In the next two weeks, everything could change. Who knows who the Mélenchon and Fillon supporters are going to vote for … They could vote for Le Pen,” he said… Bernard Abouaf, co-organiser and Director of Radio Shalom, said that he had been discussing the French elections with a friend, who told him a Jew who voted for Le Pen on the eve of Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — “is a Jew that has lost his soul.”” [BuzzFeed] • French Jews Relieved by Macron’s Success, but Remain Conscious of Le Pen [Haaretz]
Putin’s Rabbi? “Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar warns French Jews: ‘If Marine Le Pen is elected President of France, you should leave the country'” [EJPress]
PROFILE: “How the Financial Collapse Steeled Gary Cohn for the White House” by William D. Cohan: “What Cohn has, that Trump wants, is a record of notching wins in adversarial circumstances, and that’s something that Bannon has not achieved in the early days of the administration. The dyslexic grandson of Jewish immigrants from a suburb of Cleveland, Cohn attended four different schools by the time he got to sixth grade. In high school, he worked part-time in the warehouse of the family’s electrical supply business. When he graduated from American University in 1982, during the peak of the Reagan Recession, he had no job or job prospects.” [Politico]
–Connie Bruck’s latest: “How Hollywood Remembers Steve Bannon: He says that, before he became a senior adviser to the President, he was a successful player in the film industry. But what did he actually do?” [NewYorker]
“Former Trump aide: Trump fired me many times and sued me. I still think he was a great boss” by Allison Michaels: “One thing about Donald Trump, I don’t know if I’m ever going to have another boss like this,” Sam Nunberg told White House bureau chief Philip Rucker. “He’s able to make you excel and push yourself. Part of it is because you want to please him.” [WashPost]
“Ivanka Trump adds a chief of staff” by Annie Karni: “Julie Radford — who like her boss is a mother of three young children — was chosen to work for the first daughter after being recruited in February by [Dina] Powell.” [Politico]
2018 WATCH: “Menendez raises $20K from Kushner family” by Herb Jackson: “The $20,000 contributions — $5,000 each from Lee, Marc, Jonathan and Aryeh Kushner — all came from the same address in Livingston, and were made on the same day in January. Lee Kushner is the wife of Murray Kushner, who has a long-running and well-publicized feud with his brother, Charles, who is Jared’s father. Marc and Jonathan are the sons of Lee and Murray Kushner… Marc and Murray Kushner also gave $15,600 in 2013 to the campaign of Sen. Cory Booker.” [NorthJersey]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sheryl Sandberg’s Accidental Revolution: How Sandberg’s grief became the catalyst for a new, emotionally honest management style at Facebook and beyond [Backchannel] • Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital is eyeing CIM’s James Hotel in Los Angeles for close to $975,000 a key, bringing the total prospective sale price to nearly $280 million [RealDeal] • Teddy Sagi Takes London’s Camden Market Owner Private [CND] • An Israeli startup armed with $45 million is taking on Google and Apple in the race to sell your personal data [BusinessInsider]
SPOTLIGHT: “Snap acquires the crucial geofilter patent from Mobli for a record $7.7M” by Mike Butcher: “According to sources, serial entrepreneur and investor Moshe Hogeg, who co-founded Mobli, sold Mobli’s Geofilters patent to Snap this month for $7.7 million. This is believed to be the highest amount paid for a patent from the Israeli tech industry. The news was confirmed in an email to Mobli’s 100 shareholders.” [TC]
“Video Shows Palantir CEO Ridiculing Trump And Slamming His Immigration Rhetoric” by William Alden: “In a Palantir staff meeting in August 2015, the video shows, [Alex] Karp derided Trump’s “fictitious wealth,” called him a bully, and condemned his campaign rhetoric on deporting immigrants. He also said he had given Trump a brush-off… “Like, you could almost make up someone that I find — it would be hard to make up someone I find less appealing,” Karp said of Trump.” [BuzzFeed]
Mike Bloomberg talks 2016 election on 60 Minutes — “If I thought we could win, or had a reasonable chance, I would have done it.” But, “It would be totally unlikely, very unlikely that an independent could win,” Bloomberg added… He told “60 Minutes” that he called to congratulate his fellow New Yorker after he won the election. “We joked about my speech in Philadelphia. And before he finished the conversation, he gave me his personal phone number, his cellphone. I haven’t called him, so I don’t know if — whether he’d answer it now. But … I hope he does a good job,” Bloomberg added.” [TheHill; CBSNews] • Bloomberg gave 60 Minutes a helicopter tour of New York City [CBSNews]
THE AXE FILES — David Axelrod interviewed former Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on his podcast: Highlights — When describing his time in Israel during the Yom Kippur war as a child, Shapiro recalled: “I remember going to the bomb shelters, blacking out the apartment, and the confusion that my parents were dealing with of just trying to understand what was going on. They immediately got pressure from their parents, bring the grandchildren home. What are you doing there? Get out of Israel. But, they decided to stay and help volunteer anywhere they could where people had gone to fight so my father was on a Moshav in a chicken coop. He was in a school teaching. That is what began the sense of identification. This was more than a semester abroad. It turned into something much more meaningful. I can remember playing tag in the bomb shelters with the other kids in the apartment building.”
Shapiro on his Jewish identity: “I grew up in a Reform Jewish household, nowadays I consider myself a Conservative Jew. All those years of religious studies, Jewish summer camps definitely imbued in me a feeling that I as a Jew had a special connection with this country far away. I felt a connection to that history and to the story of return to that story of people who had been exiled from their homeland and finally found their way back home. That spoke to me very personally.”
Regarding the controversial Obama administration decision to abstain from the December UN Security Council resolution 2334, Shaprio emphasized, “I can defend it. It was actually not my preference. Had we been able to shape a resolution to be more like a Quartet report that had been issued over the summer that applied the responsibilities to all the different parties a bit more evenly, that could have been more constructive product.”
While critiquing much of Trump’s foreign policy, the former US Ambassador praised the new administration’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian file.Shapiro explained that Jason Greenblatt “has made an impressive debut. He didn’t only meet with Netanyahu and Abbas. He met everybody: Israelis of all political stripes, Palestinians of many political stripes: refugees, students, settlers, businessmen.” Listen to the full episode here [CNN]
“Justice Dept. charges man in threat hoaxes to Jewish Community Centers” by Tom Winter and Phil Helsel: “Michael Ron David Kadar, 18, who was arrested by Israeli police in March, is charged in Florida and Georgia with making threatening interstate communications, making interstate threats related to explosives, conveying false information and perpetuating a hoax, and cyberstalking… “Today’s charges into these violent threats to Jewish Community Centers and others represent this Department’s commitment to fighting all forms of violent crime,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.” [NBCNews] • Israel refuses to extradite teen JCC bomb hoaxer to US [ToI]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jerusalem hotels: Unlikely hotbeds of furtive, meticulous romance” by Tracy Frydberg: “It’s the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Central Jerusalem and these young men and women are engaged in “shidduch dating,” a system of matchmaking used by religious Jews, from the liberal Modern Orthodox to the ultra-Orthodox Haredim. Tourists sharing the lobby stare openly at the daters… Daters in Jerusalem typically start simple and build up their repertoire of hotels as the relationship progresses; the Prima Kings, Leonardo or King Solomon are considered respectable-yet-modest choices for a first date. If things go well, perhaps the Inbal will come next. When things get serious, the nascent couple will move on to the Waldorf or King David, where the patio is really nice during the summer.” [ToI]
DESSERT: “Can You Keep Kosher or Halal in Space?” by Sarah Lewin:“According to Vickie Kloeris, manager of NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory, purely kosher meals (food prepared according to Jewish law) or halal (food prepared according to Islamic law) aren’t currently possible for the space station fliers. “We have a single packaging room on the U.S. side. All of the food that’s part of our standard menu that we provide — from what I understand, in order for them to be kosher and halal, they have to be done in separate, unique facilities. Therefore, everything we package would not meet that requirement.” Kloeris noted that it’s possible to travel with a limited allotment of kosher or halal foods, in order to honor an astronaut’s heritage.” [Space.Com]
BIRTHDAYS: Film director, Richard Donner (born Richard Donald Schwartzberg) turns 87… Yeshiva of Brooklyn student who went on to become an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Peabody Award winning singer and actress, Barbra Streisand turns 75… Board chairman of financial publisher TheStreet, also on the board of directors of Gannett and MDC Partners, previously president and publisher of USA Today, Larry Kramer turns 67… Israeli architect and artist, Ron Arad turns 66… President of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards of the NBA since 2003, himself an NBA player (1977-1986), Ernest “Ernie” Grunfeld turns 62… Award winning author and journalist and the former national editor for Politico, Michael Hirsh turns 60… President of Kirtzman Strategies in NYC, previously a journalist, political reporter and television news anchor (2002-2008), author of books about Bernie Madoff and Rudy Giuliani, Andrew Kirtzman turns 56… Television writer, producer and film screenwriter, known as the co-creator and showrunner of the television series “Lost” (2004-2010), Damon Lindelofturns 44… Director of public relations at the Jacksonville office of the Dalton Agency,Brandon Hersh turns 34… President of Cincinnati-based Standard Textile since 1986, VP of JINSA and the Israel Policy Forum, Gary Heiman… Delray Beach, FL resident, Phyllis Dupret… Jeffrey Wohlberg… Mark Waldman… Elaine Berke…
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