September 18, 2018

Daily Kickoff: With Cohn likely out, Kevin Warsh new favorite for Fed Chair | Amos Yadlin on last night’s strike in Syria | Tel Aviv’s graffiti tours

Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, in Maryland on Aug. 30. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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TOP TALKER: “President Trump Unlikely to Nominate Gary Cohn to Become Fed Chairman” by Michael C. Bender, Harriet Torry and Nick Timiraos: “The shift in Mr. Cohn’s prospects for the top Fed job arises largely from his criticism of Mr. Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., the people familiar with the matter said… White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said Mr. Cohn is “focused on his responsibilities…” Mr. Cohn may have doomed his chances for the top Fed job with comments he made to the Financial Times last month, according to people close to the president… Mr. Trump wasn’t aware such a blunt critique was coming… One White House official said the president visibly bristles at the mention of his economic adviser… A White House official said that Mr. Cohn… may be able to repair his relationship with the president.” [WSJ

Jake Tapper: “GOP source close to the White House tells me: Cohn “more likely to get electric chair than Fed Chair.”” [Twitter]

Mike Allen: “White House insiders have been telling us the favorite for Fed chair is Kevin Warsh, an economic official in the George W. Bush White House, and member of the Fed board from 2006 until 2011.” [Axios]

–Worth noting: Warsh is the son-in-law of Trump whisperer Ronald Lauder.

HEARD THIS MORNING — Ousted White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon on Gary Cohn’s criticism of Trump in an interview with 60 Minutes: “My problem, and I told General Kelly this – when you side with a man, you side with him. I was proud to come out and try to defend President Trump in the media that day… You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But… If you’re going to break with him, resign. The stuff that was leaked out that week by certain members of the White House I thought was unacceptable… I’m talking – obviously, about Gary Cohn and some other people. That if you don’t like what he’s doing and you don’t agree with it, you have an obligation to resign.” [CBSNews]

PROFILE: “Donald Trump told Nikki Haley she could speak her mind. She’s doing just that” by Elise Labott: “One of her biggest goals when she arrived at the UN was to fight what she viewed as an anti-Israel bias. In March, at their annual conference, she told the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC “there is a new sheriff in town,” winning applause from the crowd. Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, credits Haley with “ushering in a new era of support for Israel at the UN.” … “The public support has made a huge difference for us,” Danon told me. “I think that member states and the UN agencies now understand they should recalculate their approach.”

“Critics argue that Haley is simply pandering to pro-Israel groups that are important to GOP politics. More than one State Department official has rolled their eyes over what they call Haley’s unabashed support for Israel. Even a senator who supports Haley said her work on the issue “is a bit much” for a UN ambassador. But Haley told me she sees an expansive role for herself. “It is what you want it to be,” she said of the ambassadorship. “I’ve found this is a place where you can move foreign policy. I didn’t not think that before. But this is a place where you can negotiate and this is a place where you can move the ball. I don’t think that has been tapped as much as what I’m attempting to do.” [CNN]

ON THE HILL — Amendment cutting US aid to UNRWA & UNHRC advances — by Aaron Magid: An amendment from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that would sever U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has been advanced by the House Rules Committee. The amendment would also end funding to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The measure will now head to a floor wide vote. An informed Republican staffer told Jewish Insider that this will be the first time in many years that a floor wide vote — possibly as early as today — will proceed on defunding UNRWA.” [JewishInsider]

“U.S. Congressman Proposes $12 Million to Support Israel’s Ethiopian Community” by Amir Tibon: “The amendment was proposed on Tuesday by Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democratic lawmaker and a member of the House Rules Committee… According to Hastings, Israeli organizations that work with the Ethiopian sector “do not have sufficient resources to meet the needs of these communities,” even after the recent addition of Israeli government funding.” [Haaretz

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Lacking a Point Person on China, U.S. Risks Aggravating Tensions” by Mark Landler: “Jared Kushner’s involvement in China has waned; he did not accept an invitation from the Chinese to go to Beijing this month for a visit that some expected would be in preparation for Mr. Trump’s state visit in November… White House officials said no visit was ever scheduled, and hence, none was canceled. Mr. Kushner’s initially prominent role on China policy, they said, ebbed naturally as other officials, including Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Mnuchin, settled into their jobs. Mr. Kushner, they said, remains involved in economic and trade issues regarding China. Some attribute Mr. Kushner’s lower visibility to his overflowing agenda — he is trying to broker a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, not to mention overhauling the federal bureaucracy.” [NYTimes

NEW DEETS: “Trump to speak with Israeli, Palestinian leaders at UN next week” by Margaret Brennan: “A White House official confirmed that two presidential advisers leading the peace initiative, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, would accompany the president to the annual [UNGA] gathering… “Everyone understands how complicated, difficult and challenging this task is, and that it will take time, but we are all feeling hopeful after all of our meetings last month,” a White House official said.” [CBSNews

“Abbas Scales Back Israeli-Palestinian Security Coordination as He Preps for Diplomatic Confrontation” by Amos Harel: “Abbas is thinking about renewing the Palestinian Authority’s applications for acceptance into a host of international organizations. He’ll also be taking a hard line in his address to the UN General Assembly… Security coordination between Israel and the PA hasn’t recovered since the last Israeli-Palestinian meltdown.”[Haaretz]

Netanyahu expresses concern over the PA’s collapse — by Aaron Magid: In a meeting with Members of Congress last month, Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed “concern” for the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) told Jewish Insider on Wednesday.

An Israeli official familiar with the meeting tells us: “It’s not our assessment that the PA is about to collapse. The focus of the meeting was on the importance of the PA recognizing  Israel as a Jewish state, ending their payments to terrorists and stopping the glorification of mass murderers.”

DRIVING THE CONVO: “In Deal With Democrats, Trump Makes a Sudden Turn” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump often invites his daughter Ivanka Trump into meetings to signal their conclusion — or to keep his interlocutors off balance. When she entered the Oval Office toward the end of the discussion on Wednesday, the Republicans in the room reacted with expressions that two people present described as astonishment. [Paul] Ryan… coolly told colleagues that he had come to expect such surprises… A chastened Mr. Mnuchin left the room, in what one witness described as a state of shell shock.” [NYTimes

“The ‘Ivanka drop-by’: Trump’s not-so-secret meeting trick” by Betsy Klein: “Ivanka Trump… “entered the Oval Office to ‘say hello’ and the meeting careened off-topic,” a congressional source briefed on the meeting told CNN’s Deirdre Walsh. Some Republican leaders were “visibly annoyed by Ivanka’s presence,” the source said.” [CNN

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Michael Cohen Would Take a Bullet for Donald Trump” by Emile Jane Fox: “The word “loyal” came up more than a dozen times in the course of our conversations. During a telephone discussion a few days earlier, Cohen joked that maybe if he saw the president in a white sheet at a Klan rally, then he would think twice about lending his support. (Afterward making the comment, Cohen, who is Jewish and the child of a Holocaust survivor, clarified that he was speaking in jest, and that neither he nor the president condone white supremacy.)… He is glad that Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are still there, though he said he warned them not to go down to Washington. “ “They’re under attack also… and I told them it would be ugly for them and I recommended that they not go in. I remember both of them telling me that ‘dad needs our help,’” he said. “Unfortunately, my prediction was correct… There’s things that came out about Jared and his real estate and the finances. This is a family that tries to stay under the radar in terms of their business and I’m sure Charlie [Kushner] is not happy right now at all.”” [VanityFair]

REPORT: “Syria Says Israel Bombed a Military Base” by Ben Hubbard: “Syria accused Israel on Thursday of conducting an overnight strike on a military base said by analysts to house chemical weapons and advanced missiles. The Syrian military reported the attack, saying it killed two people near the town of Masyaf in western Syria and caused unspecified material damage. Israeli officials did not comment on the strike, but a Syrian monitoring group and a former Israeli official said it had targeted a research site that produced chemical weapons.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Mum’s the word — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Israeli officials, as always, kept mum this morning as the country woke up to news of an air strike on a military factory in Syria. But former officials did weigh in – Amos Yadlin, former IDF intelligence chief, published a series of tweets these morning. “The strike reported last night is not routine,” Yadlin informed. “It targeted a Syrian military – scientific center for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict. The factory that was targeted in Masyaf produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians.”

“The strike reported last night is not routine,” Yadlin informed. “It targeted a Syrian military – scientific center for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict. The factory that was targeted in Masyaf produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Iran keeping watchful eye on Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel” by Mahmut Bozarslan: “Israel is among the countries interested in Iraqi Kurdistan affairs. Iran openly opposes the [Kurdish independence] referendum, but Israel declares its support. Their differences have generated speculation that Iran’s military moves are actually against Israel. Political analyst Siddik Hasan Sukru of Erbil is among those who believe claims of Israeli involvement… Sukru insists… that Iran’s priority is to undermine the influence of Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Kurdish region. “Iran’s concern is not about the independence of Kurdistan, but about Israel. Israel’s relations with the Kurdistan region are developing by the day… This is why Iran is on alert: The steps it is taking are against Israel,” Sukru said.” [Al-Monitor]

IRAN DEAL — “France’s foreign minister worried by Trump’s stance on Iran nuclear deal” by John Irish: “The agreement which was passed two years ago enables Iran to give up on a nuclear weapon and so avoid proliferation. We have to guarantee this stance,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to Science-Po university in Paris. “I am worried at this moment in time by the position of President Trump, who could put into question this accord. And if this accord is put into question then voices in Iran will speak up to say: ‘Let’s also have a nuclear weapon.’” [Reuters]

NYTimes editorial… A Devious Threat to a Nuclear Deal: “Ms. Haley misleads further when she argues that it would not constitute an American withdrawal from the deal if Mr. Trump didn’t certify Iranian compliance. That kind of spin will convince no one, and it won’t protect Mr. Trump for being blamed for whatever follows, including outrage from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, which are also parties to the agreement.” [NYTimes

“How Trump Can Reject the Iran Deal Without Actually Killing It” by Eli Lake: “If Iranian compliance is not certified, Trump may be able to have the best of both worlds. He could signal to his supporters that he is keeping his campaign promise by instructing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to rule against Iran. And yet he still would not have killed the nuclear deal; he would simply have punted to Congress.” [BloombergView

Today in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Iowa Governor Kimberly Kay Reynolds, who is leading a 10-day trip to Israel. The two discussed ways to advance cooperation between Israel and Iowa especially in water, technology and agriculture. The Iowa delegation will sign two inter-university agreements, with Tel Aviv University and the Volcani Center. [PicDesMoinesRegister

Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair to keynote memorial for Peres — by Raphael Ahren: “Prime Minister Netanyahu will miss a series of memorial events for former president Shimon Peres next week, as he is traveling to Latin America. Instead, President Reuven Rivlin, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and ex-UK prime minister Tony Blair are scheduled to deliver keynote speeches at events marking one year since the elder statesman’s passing… Kissinger… is scheduled to speak at an event at the Peres Center in Jaffa to be attended by “senior security officials, the Peres family and close friends, and honored guests from Israel and abroad,” according to the center.” [ToI

2018 WATCH: “Gov hopeful Biss dumps alderman as running mate over Israel remarks” by Tina Sfondeles: “Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss has dropped running mate Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa from his ticket amid backlash over comments the rookie alderman made about Israel… “Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and I have reached a difficult decision about our ticket. As of today, I’ll be moving forward with a new running mate,” Biss said in a statement. “Growing up with an Israeli mother, grandparents who survived the Holocaust, and great-grandparents who did not survive, issues related to the safety and security of the Jewish people are deeply personal to me.”” [CHSunTimes] • Read Ramirez-Rosa’s statement here [Facebook]

“In Illinois, a Democrat chooses a socialist running mate, then dumps him” by David Weigel: “In short order, endorsers began criticizing or dumping Biss, and volunteers in some parts of Illinois bolted his campaign. (“Worse than Palin IMO. At least McCain stuck with her,” said one Illinois Democratic source.) The Chicago branch of Our Revolution, Sanders’s political network, issued a statement of “disappointment and shock” with Biss’s move.” [WashPost]

HAPPENING TODAY: Former UN Ambassador John Bolton will headline a fundraiser in Chicago in support of Jeremy Wynes, who’s running for the House of Representatives in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District. Bolton announced his endorsement yesterday. Additionally, the John Bolton PAC will contribute $10,000 to the Wynes campaign.

2020 WATCH: “Pro-Israel group slams Booker in new ad” by Gabriel DeBenedetti“The conservative Committee for Israel nonprofit group is launching a television broadside against Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker on Wednesday, assailing him for voting against a measure that would scale back funding to the Palestinian Authority. “Stabbings, shootings, suicide bombings. Israelis and Americans killed by Palestinian terrorists, and we’re paying for it… Finally, Democrats and Republicans are coming together to stop it,” says the narrator of the 30-second ad, produced by the organization previously known as the Emergency Committee for Israel… “But not Cory Booker. He ran here as a friend to Israel. Just four years later he’s eyeing a run for president and throwing Israel under the bus. Call Booker. Tell him we noticed.” [Politico

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Goldman’s Blankfein on Markets: ‘Things Have Been Going Up for Too Long’ [WSJ] • Xerion CEO Daniel Arbess on U.S. Economy, Corporate Profits [Bloomberg] • Soros kid’s divorce may cost him his art collection [NYPost] Sale of Brooklyn Housing Complex Would Benefit Trump [NYTimes] • Madoff Investors Recover 72% of Losses With New Trustee Deal [Bloomberg] • Why WeWork Thinks It’s Worth $20 Billion[Wired] • Emails show clash between Trump appointees and Facebook over Zuckerberg glacier visit [WashPost

“Silicon Valley’s Politics: Liberal, With One Big Exception” by Farhad Manjoo: “You would think that people with enough money to influence the political system would obviously use that influence to increase social and economic inequality in ways that benefit them,” said David Broockman, an assistant professor of political economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business… “What’s surprising to us,” he continued, “is that you could find this group that says, ‘Actually, our taxes should go up and more money should go to things like universal health care, or that we should do more to protect the environment’ — but at the same time believes that regulations and labor unions are a problem.” [NYTimes]

OPINION: “Cult of Bibi has damaged American Israel advocacy” by Ben Judah: “There is something of a Bibi cult of personality in the pro-Israel world that exists in Washington. Initiatives have confused being pro-Israel with being pro-Bibi… But above all, the Bibi cult has blinded pro-Israel advocacy towards Israel itself. Not only has this increasingly blinkered pro-Israel Washington from the Israeli strategic and diplomatic thinking beyond the Prime Minister’s office. The Bibi cult has blinded the pro-Israel community to the overwhelmingly liberal US Jewish community. It is not for nothing the next generation of Jewish billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg or Google’s Sergey Brin are not as close to Israel advocacy as their predecessors.” [TheJC]

Rebuttal from Lahav Harkov: “It’s simple: Netanyahu has been PM for 8 years. That’s why it looks like mainstream pro-Israel organizations are pro-Netanyahu.” [Twitter]

KAFE KNESSET continued — Channel 20, out? Bibi’s beloved Channel 20 may soon be shut down. The channel, to some extent, aspires to be Israel’s version of Fox News, with media personality and critic of the left-wing, Shimon Riklin, serving as the fawning Sean Hannity to Netanyahu’s Trump. The channel was never actually meant to be a news channel. It was granted a government issued broadcast license as a “Heritage” (read: Jewish) channel. Since it is in violation of its license, Cable and Satellite Authority chairwoman Yifat Ben Chai-Sagiv recommended to foreclose on the channel’s NIS 4 million deposit. According to the law, this step, which has never been taken by the regulator in the past, is the legal precursor to shuttering the channel.

This problem would have never come up if Netanyahu had followed through on his policy proposal from when he was still Communications Minister, to open up the Israeli media to the free market instead of the government regulating what channels can be opened… Likud Minister Gilad Erdan pointed out that Channels 2 and 10 violated their licenses many times and were not shut down. Communications Minister Ayoob Kara told Kafe Knesset: “Channel 20 will not be shut down. Everyone has freedom of expression – not just the Left. [The regulator] can’t just let the Left stay open and not the Right. There are problems with the conditions of the license, and they will be dealt with according to law.” [KafeKnesset]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Study finds more than half of young Jews have ‘no religion’” by Shmuel Rosner: “The PRRI survey found that among the 2.3 percent of Americans who identify as Jews, about a third are “cultural Jews.” The study found that among those under age 30, fewer than half, 47 percent, identified as religiously Jewish while 53 percent are Jews of no religion… In sharp contrast, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of Jewish seniors (age 65 or older) are religiously Jewish, while 22 percent identify as culturally Jewish… Note how among young Jews the Orthodox group has already surpassed the Conservative group and is getting close to the Reform group. Also note that close to half of all younger Jews do not belong to any denomination.” [JewishJournal]

“Why Did Israel Let Mengele Go?” by Ronen Bergman: “Documents and interviews reveal that contrary to popular belief, for most of the time that [Josef] Mengele was in hiding, the Mossad wasn’t looking for him at all — or placed finding him far down its to-do list… The Mossad began pursuing Mengele in 1960 based on tips from Simon Wiesenthal, the celebrated Nazi hunter… On July 23, 1962, the Mossad operative Zvi Aharoni (who had identified Eichmann two years earlier) was on a dirt road by the farm where Mengele was believed to be hiding when he encountered a group of men — including one who looked exactly like the fugitive. The Mossad’s South American station chief cabled the headquarters in Israel… But the head of the Mossad at the time, Isser Harel, ordered the matter dropped.” [NYTimes

“The Best Way to See Tel Aviv — Through Graffiti” by Merav Savir“For [Elinoy] Kisslove, it’s important that people see art instead of vandalism. Her aim is to “open people’s eyes beyond the stigma and to introduce them to a world they didn’t know before.” She watches how tourgoers react to the graffiti and uses it as inspiration for her own — she refuses, though, to point out which pieces are hers. Some of Tel Aviv’s graffiti artists, who also prefer to remain anonymous, have provided Kisslove with information about their pieces. A few even stop to talk to the groups when they are caught in the act.” [Ozy

MEDIA WATCH: “TMZ Veteran Who Split With Site’s Founder Emerges as a Rival” by Brooks Barnes: “The Blast is financed by Banijay Group, which is based in France and has become one of the world’s largest independent television production and distribution companies…We weren’t sitting around plotting to launch the next entertainment news site,” said David Goldberg, the chief executive of Banijay Studios North America. “But when talent becomes available, you have to be prepared to jump.” … [Harvey] Levin, 67, essentially created [Mike] Walters… In 2005, when Mr. Levin and Telepictures, now a division of Warner Bros., teamed up to create TMZ.com, Mr. Walters was one of the site’s first employees.” [NYTimes

DESSERT: “Aaron Franklin Made Kosher Brisket, and More A.M. Intel” by Nadia Chaudhury: “Since Franklin Barbecue is temporarily closed because of that fire, pitmaster Aaron Franklin cooked up some kosher brisket for Izzy’s BBQ Addiction, kosher pitmaster Ari White of Wandering Que, and Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. He used a new pit outside of Franklin Barbecue.” [AustinEater

BIRTHDAYS: Palm Beach, Florida resident, formerly of Pound Ridge, Purchase and Rye, New York, the school at the Westchester (NY) Jewish Center bears her name, Beverly Cannold turns 92… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, he was a managing director of Marks and Spencer and is now active in many Jewish and other charities, Baron Andrew Zelig Stone turns 75… Political columnist for Time Magazine and author of the novel “Primary Colors,” Joe Klein turns 71… Color commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts, Suzyn Waldman turns 71… Billionaire owner and CEO of Gristedes Foods, the largest grocery chain in Manhattan, John Catsimatidis turns 69… Pulitzer Prize winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, now Director of Literary Journalism at UC-Irvine, Barry Siegel turns 68… Minneapolis area school counselor and language arts teacher, Sandra Sevig turns 68… Russian-born Chairman of the Mathematics Department at UCSD, formerly professor at both Yale and University of Chicago, Efim Zelmanov turns 62…

Global co-chair of the Israel practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins where he is primarily a healthcare and life sciences partner, Stuart Kurlander turns 55… Bahraini Ambassador to the US (2008-2013) after four years in the Bahraini Parliament (2005-2008), both firsts for a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo turns 53… Associate professor at George Washington University, author, lecturer, and community scholar of Manhattan’s Jewish Center, Dr. Erica Brown turns 51… Award winning writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of three best-selling books (book topics are John Paulson, fracking and, most recently, athletes overcoming challenges), Gregory Zuckerman turns 51… Screenwriter, producer and director of many succesful films and TV shows, Alex Kurtzman turns 44… Author of two New York Times best sellers and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon turns 44… Contributing Editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, previously National Political Editor at the Washington Post, Maralee Schwartz… Executive assistant at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Karen McCormick

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

Daily Kickoff: Gary Cohn in the FT, “I won’t allow neo-Nazis to cause this Jew to leave his job” | Perelman to host Garcetti | WeWork valued at $21B

President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. Standing alongside him from L to R, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. He fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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FIRST LOOK: Gary Cohn on how he felt after Trump’s ‘both sides’ comments — in interview with The Financial Times: “I have come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position. As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post as director of the National Economic Council because I feel a duty to fulfil my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks. Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities. As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.” [FT]

— “A source close to Trump predicts he will explode when he reads the Cohn interview… The way Trump will see it, Cohn is siding with the fake news.”[Axios]

BEHIND THE SCENES: “Gary Cohn, Trump’s Adviser, Said to Have Drafted Resignation Letter After Charlottesville” by Eileen Sullivan and Maggie Haberman: “In the days after the Charlottesville violence, Mr. Cohn’s family — including his wife — told him he needed to think seriously about departing… Mr. Cohn came close to resigning… He met with Mr. Trump privately at the president’s golf club in New Jersey last Friday… The markets were spooked last week amid fears that Mr. Cohn would resign, and United States stocks dropped until the White House denied the rumor. Mr. Cohn… was deeply troubled by the market reaction, people close to him said.” [NYTimes]

–Former Obama WH Comms Director Dan Pfeiffer tweets: “Gary Cohn and his PR team probably think this article is good for him, it’s the exact opposite” [Twitter]

“John McCain’s fan club: The veteran senator has mentored many senators — from both parties — to carry on his foreign policy worldview” by Austin Wright: “McCain likes to engage his fellow senators in in-flight debates. “A lot of people get on a long airplane ride and they’ll put the earphones in and listen to John Grisham or something,” [Sen. Angus] King said. McCain, on the other hand, “was constantly engaged, talking about issues. What are we going to do in the Middle East? What are we going to do with the Palestinians and the Israelis? What should be our role in Syria?”” [Politico]

“Kushner Tours Mideast as Palestinian Patience Wears Thin” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Abbas indicated that the process hasn’t been going smoothly. He described the situation as “difficult and complicated,” indicating growing frustration, after an evening meeting with Kushner at his presidential office in Ramallah. He added that “there is nothing impossible with good efforts.” … On Thursday, demonstrators in Ramallah burned an Israeli flag and chanted anti-Trump slogans. One protester held a placard showing Kushner on a leash held by his wife, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who was depicted as wearing a dress made from the Israeli flag. “Kushner is our dog,” the sign said. “This new administration has been very disappointing, and Palestinians do not see any hope,” said Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian Authority cabinet member…  “It looks like this delegation was sent to give the impression that the process is still alive.”

“After Kushner returns to Washington, Trump’s special representative for negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, will remain for follow-up meetings with Israelis and Palestinians, Channel 2 news said. Among his agenda are items aimed at strengthening the Palestinian economy, including meeting with Israeli officials who propose extending the country’s rail network to Jordan.” [Bloomberg]

— A senior diplomatic source confirmed to Israel Hayom that… Jason Greenblatt… will also discuss the growing concerns by the moderate regional states over Iran’s future designs for Syria.” [IsraelHayom]

KAFE KNESSET — How It Played — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The Kushner-Greenblatt-Powell short visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah hardly made headlines this morning. The niceties of the Kushner-Netanyahu meeting, and the smiles in the Ramallah photo-op, despite clear tensions between the Palestinians and the White House, did not draw much public attention. Only the Adelson freebie, Israel Hayom, featured the event on its front page. Its main rival, Yediot Aharonot, settled for a small mention on page 2 and liberal-leaning Ha’aretz placed its report on page 5. The paucity of coverage reflects a general sense of indifference in Jerusalem to the lingering attempts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for the umpteenth time.

President Trump himself seemed much more excited, as he reached out to his son-in-law and the Israeli premier with a special Instagram message. “Let’s advance peace prosperity and security in the area. There is no doubt that our relationship is stronger than ever! See you soon,” Trump wrote. The Prime Minister’s Office, however, forgot to mention the President at first. A short readout initially described “effective and substantive discussions on the ways to promote peace and security in the region,” adding that the PM is expecting to continue talks in the coming weeks. A few minutes after the first readout was released, the PMO sent out another, corrected statement, adding a sentence of special gratitude to the President. “The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to President Trump and his administration for their solid support for Israel.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Could this be a game-changer for Middle East peace?” by David Ignatius: “When it comes to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, 50 years of peacemaking history sadly warn us that a new initiative probably won’t work. And Trump’s domestic problems weaken his ability to deliver on Kushner’s advance work. But it must be said: The opportunities for trade, investment and security cooperation between Israel and the Arabs have never been greater.”[WashPost

“A peace process? Come back another time” by Shmuel Rosner: “To take risks, to make sacrifices, Israel needs to feel secure; it needs to feel that it has backing. If the U.S. is no longer a reliable guardian of Middle East stability and peace, Israel’s inclination to take any risks for a peace it doesn’t feel is a priority will be greatly diminished.” [JewishJournal]

Netanyahu told visiting Members of Congress that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem could ‘easily be done’ — by Aaron Magid: Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), who was part of the Republican delegation, told Jewish Insider that Netanyahu “believes is that it could easily be done. In his (Netanyahu) words: ‘We already have a consulate in Jerusalem. It’s a matter of just changing the sign to make it the Embassy.’” Netanyahu raised the issue in response to a question by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). According to Smucker’s recollection of the meeting, Netanyahu “believes that there wouldn’t be a lot of pushback in the event that we do that.” [JewishInsider]

“U.S Vows to Fund a U.N. Agency For Palestinian Refugees Israeli Leader Wants Shuttered” Clum Lynch and Emily Tamkin: “Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has privately assured the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, that the United States… will maintain its current levels of funding to the organization. “America has long been committed to funding UNRWA’s important mission, and that will continue,” said one official at the U.S. mission to the United Nations… An official at the U.S. mission to the United Nations said that… it opposes the adoption of a U.N. resolution that would legally require it to make contributions. Such a requirement, the official suggested, would undercut U.S. leverage that ensures the money is properly spent.” [FP]

“Trump calls Egypt’s Sisi, says keen to overcome obstacles” by Ahmed Aboulenein: ““President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call tonight from U.S. President Donald Trump who affirmed the strength of the friendship between Egypt and the United States and expressed his keenness on continuing to develop the relationship and overcome any obstacles that might affect it,” Sisi’s office said in a statement late on Thursday.” [Reuters

“Trump’s latest retweet pulls man into controversy over past statement about Jewish drivers” by Colleen Shalby: “During an early morning Twitter storm, President Trump retweeted a meme of himself “eclipsing” President Obama. Then things took a strange turn for Jerry Travone, the man who tweeted the image. He had featured a website where he has an online shop selling pro-wrestling T-shirts in his Twitter bio. But anyone who clicked on the link Thursday morning would have been taken to the Jewish United Fund of Chicago… The Twitter account @OneHourTees… said it had redirected Travone’s page to the Jewish United fund, telling Travone that it took action “since you hate Jews.” On Sunday, Travone tweeted a statement critical of Jewish people… Travone told NBC News that he wasn’t anti-Semitic. “It was just an emotional expression I was referring to Lakewood, New Jersey and the horrible drivers of that town and that happens to be mostly Jewish people that live there.”  [LATimes]

“Why some Jews still support Trump” by Eitan Arom and Ryan Torok: “Cheston Mizel, president of Mizel Financial Holdings and a congregant of Pico Shul, an Orthodox synagogue in Pico-Robertson, said the attention to Charlottesville and to other presidential controversies has distracted from Trump’s successes, including appointing the pro-Israel Nikki Haley to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and nominating Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. “While there are obviously things that are problematic about this presidency, Nikki Haley and Neil Gorsuch are two clear bright spots,” he said.” [JewishJournal

“The obscene effort to shame ‘Trump’s Jews’” by Seth Mandel: “The hot new criticism of my fellow Jews is that we don’t complain enough. Really. A host of pundits, concerned about President Trump’s baffling unwillingness to single out neo-Nazis for criticism, are turning to the American Jewish community and pleading: Would it kill you to maybe kvetch a bit?” [NYPost]

“Others fled Trump’s Mar-a-Lago; this group wanted in” by Charles Elmore: “The Boca Raton communications executive is the organizer for “The Truth About Israel,” which aims to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics that left 11 Israeli athletes dead, celebrate Israel and honor the work of Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. “I’m reading about these groups pulling out of Mar-a-Lago and I’m thinking, ‘This is ridiculous,’” [Steven] Alembik said. “Somebody needs to take a stand here and do something… With him as president, I don’t have to worry. He’s got Israel’s back.” His organization initially booked the Boca Raton Resort & Club but changed to Mar-a-Lago for the Feb. 25 event. That Feb. 25 date was open because of the cancellation of a fundraising gala by American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s ambulance, blood services and disaster-relief organization.” [PalmBeachPost

ON THE HILL: “Could Menendez Trial Tip Senate To Trump — Or Cost AIPAC A Pro-Israel Vote?” by Nathan Guttman: “During the 2015 debate over the Iranian nuclear deal, Menendez was one of just four Democrats who sided with the Israeli government, against President Obama, in opposing the deal. He is considered a close ally of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and a safe vote on pro-Israel issues. He is currently a co-sponsor of the AIPAC-backed anti-BDS bill, which has already lost several Democratic supporters following claims that the legislation would infringe on free speech of those wishing to boycott Israel.” [Forward]

2020 WATCH: According to Shane Goldmacher of the New York Times, Ron Perelman will be hosting a cocktail reception for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti at his Hamptons home The Creeks on Sunday.

“Franken seen as reluctant 2020 candidate” by Amie Parnes and Devin Henry: “Political associates of Al Franken say they think the Minnesota senator could be talked into running for the White House if he believes he’s the Democrat best positioned to defeat President Trump. But they say Franken would need to be convinced and argue that the former “Saturday Night Live” star would be reluctant to enter a battle with a slew of other Democrats in what’s increasingly expected to be a wide-open race for party’s nomination.” [TheHill]

** 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: The investing secrets of hedge fund legend Seth Klarman: Used copies of Klarman’s book “Margin of Safety” still sell for nearly $850 online [CNBC] • Should tech companies be able to shut down neo-Nazis?[Recode] • Apple removes popular apps in Iran due to US sanctions [TheVerge] • Israeli startup AppsVillage wants to do for apps what Wix did for websites: make them easier and cheaper to create [ToI]

SPOTTED YESTERDAY: House Speaker Paul Ryan toured the Everett Boeing plant with an El Al 787 serving as a backdrop: “After meeting the team of 777 workers, Ryan toured the interior of an El Al 787 in final assembly.”[MyEverettNews; Pic

SPOTLIGHT: “A SoftBank fund has made its largest U.S. investment: $4.4 billion in WeWork” by Theodore Schleifer: “SoftBank said Thursday that it would invest $4.4 billion in WeWork in part from its so-called Vision Fund, the fund’s largest U.S. investment to date. The deal routes $3 billion to WeWork through both a purchase of new shares and of existing ones currently held by other investors. Private investors now value WeWork at around $21 billion, a figure that was first disclosed earlier this summer when some initial details of the $4.4 billion investment emerged. Only two privately held companies, Uber and Airbnb, are worth more.” [Recode; WSJ]

“How the Booming Israeli Weed Industry Is Changing American Pot” by Yardena Schwartz: “Some Israeli companies have partnered with American companies to establish a presence in the U.S., where they sell products that were developed in Israel. For example, Tikun Olam, Israel’s first medical cannabis distributor, opened an American subsidiary in 2016. It now sells its proprietary medical-grade plant strains at 10 dispensaries in Delaware and Nevada and will soon be available at dispensaries in Oregon and California… Some American researchers have even moved to Israel all together.” [RollingStone]

COVER STORY: “Gal Gadot on Becoming Wonder Woman, the Biggest Action Hero of the Year” by By Alex Morris: “Nor was it immaterial that Wonder Woman – who, Gadot says, “stands for love and hope and acceptance and fighting evil” – debuted in 1941, the year America entered World War II. While Gadot’s father is a sixth-generation Israeli, her mother’s mother escaped Europe just before the war. Her mother’s father, who was 13 when the Nazis came to his native Czechoslovakia, was not so lucky. His father died in the army. The rest of his family was sent to Auschwitz, where his mother and brother died in the gas chambers. After the war, he made his way to Israel alone. “His entire family was murdered – it’s unthinkable,” says Gadot. “He affected me a lot… It was very easy for me to relate to everything that Wonder Woman stands for.”” [RollingStone]

Prada-Owned Label Pulls Yellow Star Clothing Amid Criticism: “The clothing from Milan-based Miu Miu’s pre-fall collection features a five-pointed star with the name John embroidered on it. The Star of David has six points… Miu Miu spokeswoman Preia Narendra apologized for causing any offense and says in a statement that “it was not Miu Miu’s intent in any way to make any political or religious statement.” She says the items are being removed from the collection.” [AP

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jewish activists target removal of Peter Stuyvesant monuments” by Yoav Gonen and Ruth Brown: “A Jewish activist group is now demanding Mayor de Blasio scrub all traces of the anti-Semitic Dutch governor from city property — even Stuyvesant High School — as part of his campaign to rid the city of “symbols or hate.” “Peter Stuyvesant was an extreme racist who targeted Jews and other minorities including Catholics and energetically tried to prohibit them from settling in then New Amsterdam,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center.” [NYPost

“Izak Parviz Nazarian, businessman and philanthropist, dies at 88″ by Ryan Torok: “Izak Parviz Nazarian, the Iranian-Jewish co-founder of investment firm Omninet and former board member of the technology company Qualcomm, died on Aug. 23 in Los Angeles…  Born in a Tehran ghetto in 1929, he was 5 years old when his father died… At 17, he traveled to Italy and fought with the Haganah in Genoa. Later, he moved to Israel and served with the Israeli armored forces in the War of Independence, an experience he would say decades later was among the most important of his life. An injury during the war landed him in the hospital, and, unable to fight, he became the chauffeur for then-Foreign Minister Golda Meir.” [JewisJournal]

LIFE LESSONS: “Good News for Young Strivers: Networking Is Overrated” by Adam Grant: “Stop fretting about networking. Take a page out of the George Lucas and Sara Blakely playbooks: Make an intriguing film, build a useful product. And don’t feel pressure to go to networking events. No one really mixes at mixers. Although we plan to meet new people, we usually end up hanging out with old friends. The best networking happens when people gather for a purpose other than networking, to learn from one another or help one another. In life, it certainly helps to know the right people. But how hard they go to bat for you, how far they stick their necks out for you, depends on what you have to offer. Building a powerful network doesn’t require you to be an expert at networking. It just requires you to be an expert at something. If you make great connections, they might advance your career. If you do great work, those connections will be easier to make.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “Before Eliana Pieprz moved from America to Israel, she watched Redskins games with her father on Sunday afternoons, like most fans. But once her family settled across the Atlantic Ocean, she had to adjust her schedule. School is on Sundays where she lives and there’s a seven hour time difference to account for. So, instead of homework after class, Sunday nights have now become devoted to football. Which means when the team plays a Monday night game, she tries to keep herself awake while preparing to go to school at halftime. “I support two teams: Washington and whoever beats Dallas,” Pieprz said.” [RedskinsBlog]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Television host, best known as host of Let’s Make a Deal, Monty Hall (born Monte Halparin) turns 96… Phoenix-based independent writing and editing professional, Leni Reiss… Award winning British novelist who has been described as the “Jewish Jane Austen,” Howard Jacobson turns 75… Founder and senior strategy officer at Mosaic H+H Advisors, Harley Mayersohn turns 68… Born in Haifa, the bass guitarist and co-lead singer of Kiss, Gene Simmons (his birth name is Chaim Witz) turns 68… Immediate Past Board Chair of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Lorin Fife turns 64… Suzanne Schneider turns 41… Former member of the White House National Economic Council during the Obama administration, now a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, Nathaniel Loewentheil turns 32… Director of state government affairs for the DC-based Organization for International Investment, Evan Hoffman turns 30… Reporter at The Weekly Standard Jenna Lifhits… Adam Friedman turns 22… Carina Grossman… Robert Cohen… Founder/Board Chair of Everybody Dance Now! Jackie Rotman… Program Director at the American Zionist Movement Alicia Post… Manny Haeusler

SATURDAY: Partner at the DC law firm of Williams & Connolly, his clients include Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Laura Bush and many others, Robert Barnett turns 71… Rabbi (now emeritus) of Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta since 1952 and author of many best-selling books, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman turns 90… Iraqi born novelist, now living in Canada, author of more than 30 novels on Jewish themes, Naïm Kattan turns 89… CEO of Siegelvision, a brand identity consultancy, he is also the founder and chairman emeritus of global brand strategy firm Siegel+Gale, Alan Siegel turns 79… Mayor of Tel Aviv since 1998, following 26 years in the Israeli Air Force (1963-1989) starting as a fighter pilot and finishing as a brigadier general, Ron Huldai turns 73… Former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives (2000-2006 and again 2010-2016) who focused on traffic safety after losing a daughter in a 1996 car crash, Irving Slosberg turns 70… Jay Caplan turns 69… Billionaire and board chair of Gap, Inc., a retail chain founded by his parents, Robert J. Fisher turns 63… Journalist and co-author of the Freakonomics series, Stephen J. Dubner turns 54… President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogueturns 48… Canadian technology and media entrepreneur Lorne Abony turns 48… Deputy General Counsel at ICANN, Samantha Eisner turns 42… John Train… Carrie Shapiro

SUNDAY: Director of the White House National Economic Council and one of the most influential voices in the Trump administration, he was previously the president and COO of Goldman Sachs (2006-2017), Gary Cohn turns 57… Washington Editor-at-Large of The Atlantic, Steve Clemons… Ambassador of Israel to Poland, she previously was Consul General in San Francisco (1989-1992), ambassador to Ukraine (1999-2003) and ambassador to Russia (2007-2010), Anna Azari turns 58… Israeli diplomat, he was the political officer at the Israeli Embassy in DC (1997-2001) and Consul General of Israel in Boston (2006-2013), he then served as an advisor to President Shimon Peres, Nadav Tamir turns 56… Yuval Sapir… Michael Weiss… Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Shai Babad

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

Trump adviser Gary Cohn reportedly considered quitting following Charlottesville

President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. Standing alongside him from L to R, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. He fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Gary Cohn, a prominent Jewish member of President Donald Trump’s administration, considered resigning over Trump’s response to a far-right rally in Charlottesville, The New York Times reported.

[Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin: You good with this?]

Cohn, the top economic adviser for Trump, drafted a letter of resignation, according to the report Friday, which cited two unnamed people familiar with the draft.

In an interview Thursday with the Financial Times, Cohn said the White House “can and must do better” in consistently condemning hate groups. His remarks came nearly two weeks after the Charlottesville rally, which turned deadly when an alleged white supremacist rammed a crowd of counterprotesters with a car, killing one and injuring at least 19.

It was his first public reference to the national dialogue about the violence. As a “patriotic American,” Cohn said he did not want to leave his job as director of the National Economic Council.

“But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks,” he said.

After the Charlottesville rally, Trump said that both far-right marchers who gathered in the southern Virginia city and counterprotesters shared the blame for the violence that ensued. Trump later condemned the Ku Klux Klan, racists and neo-Nazis amid criticism that he failed to single out the far-rightists immediately afterward, but a day later said there were “very fine people on both sides.” Cohn was standing with three other officials behind Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City on Aug. 15 when the president made his latter remarks to reporters.

“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK,” Cohn said in the Financial Times interview. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups, and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”

Cohn added: “As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

He also told the Financial Times he spoke privately with Trump about these issues.

“I have not been bashful saying what I think,” Cohn said.

In the days after Charlottesville, Cohn’s family — including his wife — told him he needed to think seriously about departing, The New York Times reported, citing two people briefed on the discussions. Several of his friends in the business community also urged him to step away from the administration. Cohn is a former executive at Goldman Sachs.

Amid fears that Cohn would resign, the U.S. stock market dropped until the White House denied the rumor. Cohn, who had spent his entire career in the trading world before joining Trump late last year, was deeply troubled by the market reaction, people close to him told The New York Times.

Cohn’s critical statements of the president’s performance come as Trump prepares next week to start a major national effort to sell a tax-cut plan, which Cohn has been toiling for months behind the scenes to craft, The New York Times noted.

His remarks were in marked contrast to a statement by the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who also is Jewish and stood directly behind the president during the Aug. 15 news conference.

“I don’t believe the allegations against the president are accurate, and I believe that having highly talented men and women in the country surrounding the president in his administration should be reassuring to you and the American people,” he told former Yale classmates who had urged him to resign.

Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin: You good with this?

President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. Standing alongside him from L to R, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney. He fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The question of the day, at least in my corner of the world, is this: How can Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin keep silent?

Cohn is chief economic advisor to President Donald Trump and the director the National Economic Council.   Mnuchin is Secretary of the Treasury.  Both men are Jewish.  And both men stood just to the right of Donald Trump as he equated neo-Nazis and white supremacists with the people who protested them, and declared that at a rally attended and promoted by hate groups from around the country, there were “very fine people”

It was, as the historian Steven Windmueller wrote,  “the first time in American history where a President has not uniformly and consistently condemned anti-Semitism.”

The statement was offensive enough that at least seven CEOs serving the administration as advisors resigned from their posts.  But Mnuchin and Cohn, who both come from the world of business and finance, remained silent  As of today, neither one has spoken out.

It is impossible to believe that both men are unaware of the deeply anti-semitic nature of the rally.  Its attendees posted threats against the local Charlottesville synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, in the days leading up to the march.  On the day of the rally, congregants felt the threat acutely.  Here’s an account of that day from the temple’s president,  Alan Zimmerman:

For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple. Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either. Perhaps the presence of our armed guard deterred them. Perhaps their presence was just a coincidence, and I’m paranoid. I don’t know.

Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, “There’s the synagogue!” followed by chants of “Seig Heil” and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

A guy in a white polo shirt walked by the synagogue a few times, arousing suspicion. Was he casing the building, or trying to build up courage to commit a crime? We didn’t know. Later, I noticed that the man accused in the automobile terror attack wore the same polo shirt as the man who kept walking by our synagogue; apparently it’s the uniform of a white supremacist group. Even now, that gives me a chill.

When services ended, my heart broke as I advised congregants that it would be safer to leave the temple through the back entrance rather than through the front, and to please go in groups.

Anti-semitism was not a bug of the rally, it was a feature.  The marchers chanted, “Jew will not replace us!”  Their flyers featured Nazi imagery and Stars of David.  These were the men and women that the President put on the same moral plane as those who confronted them.

Some media reported that Cohn and Mnuchin looked uncomfortable as Trump spoke.  If so, it is far more subtle than the visible snort and head shake his comments drew from Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly.

So why the silence from Cohn and Mnuchin?  Here’s some guesses:

Could it be that neither man is that connected to his Jewish identity?  Unlikely. Cohn is an active member of his local Jewish Federation.  In 2009 he donated  money to Hillel International in order to build a Jewish student center at Kent State University.  It is called the Cohn Jewish Student Center.   The Mnuchin family  has a long history Jewish philanthropy as well.

Could it be that they know Trump is not an anti-Semite, so the idea that  he supports anti-Semitism is ridiculous? Maybe.  That’s what some of his other Jewish aides told the New York Times today.

“I know President Trump and his heart,” Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, wrote to the Times. “He is a good man and doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. All morning I am receiving horrific comments about being anti-black, racist, etc. for supporting Trump. It’s just wrong!”

This is the go-to response of Trump’s Jewish supporters, family and staff.  It is probably true, but it’s also besides the point.  You don’t have to be an anti-Semite to give cover to anti-Semites, which is what the President did yesterday.  His motivations may have had nothing to do with his feelings about Jews, but the effect is the same.  Neo-Nazis, repackaged as the “alt-right,” now can feel vindicated.

In fact, by standing silently by as  Trump betrayed American Jews , Cohn and Mnuchin are only encouraging Trump’s behavior.  He can use their presence to assure himself that he’s done nothing wrong.

Could it be they think the whole mess is a Leftist, media-fueled over-reaction to a few poorly chosen and ultimately meaningless words?  Maybe.  But neither man is known to be hyper-partisan.  Records show they have given to Democratic as well as Republican candidates.  They can read the denunciations of Trump’s words from a broad spectrum of Jewish organizations and community and religious leaders, as well as from numerous Republicans and foreign leaders.

“It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,” Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement, according to Reuters. “No one should trivialize anti-Semitism and racism by neo-Nazis.”

No one’s making this up, and Cohn and Mnuchin are too smart to think otherwise.

Could it be they put their duties and their loyalty to the President far above whatever concerns they have about his statements and actions?  Again, maybe, in which case they have to swallow their gut reactions, shrug to their friends and family– hey, what can I do?– and just plow ahead.

Everybody makes choices about what principles are worth fighting for, Cohn and Mnuchin have made theirs. Thanks to President Trump, the neo-Nazis feel they have the wind at their backs, and white supremacists have planned more rallies across the country.   Cohn and Mnuchin have to own the fact that their boss has just received Twitter raves from Richard Spencer, David Duke, Matthew Heimbach and their well-armed minions.   Cohn and Mnuchin will have to explain whether they spoke up in private, because their public silence reads like cowardly acquiescence.

And Cohn and Mnuchin will need to face one of the supreme ironies of our time: when their boss endangered Jewish lives, they stayed silent, and the Germans spoke up.


ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email
him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism
and @RobEshman.