When you can't come to an agreement on the Dan Hotel or the King David. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner will accompany president on Israel trip


Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are expected to accompany President Donald Trump on his first visit to Israel next month.

It is not clear whether first lady Melania Trump will join the delegation at the end of May, the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot reported Thursday. Ivanka Trump, the president’s Jewish daughter, and Kushner, his son-in-law, are among the president’s closest advisers.

The visit reportedly will come as part of Trump’s first trip abroad as president at the end of May, when he is scheduled to be part of a summit of leaders of NATO nations in Brussels. The White House has told Israel the visit will be held on May 22, Yediot reported, and that the president will spend one night in the country.

A delegation of about 25 American officials was set to arrive in Israel on Thursday to coordinate the visit, Yediot reported. The delegation was scheduled to meet at the Foreign Ministry to coordinate the details of the visit and then hold meetings at the president’s residence and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as make site visits to potential places that will appear on Trump’s itinerary.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be part of the delegation visiting Israel with the president.

The new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, reportedly will arrive in Israel on May 15 and present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin in June.

Trump’s visit could come immediately before Jerusalem Day on May 24, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the city.

June 1 marks the expiration of the six-month waiver signed by President Barack Obama on moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Successive presidents have exercised the waiver every six months since the 1995 law mandating the move of the embassy, citing national security reasons over concerns that a move would lead to Islamist and Arab nationalist attacks on Americans and their allies in the region.

Ynet reported that Trump could recognize a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during the visit, which will come less than three weeks after he meets at the White House with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in February.

Trump is seeking “a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel,” the president’s spokesman, Sean Spicer, said last week in confirming Abbas’ visit.

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria speaking at a news conference at Marlins Park, Nov. 19, 2014. Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images.

Jared Kushner’s family won’t buy Marlins if current owner becomes ambassador to France


The Kushner family has dialed down its interest in buying the Miami Marlins now that reports have surfaced claiming the baseball franchises current owner will likely be named the U.S. ambassador to France.

Since Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is a senior adviser to the president, the Kushners reportedly are wary that the purchase would look like a corrupt ambassadorship-for-team trade.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, 76, is expected to be announced for the post within days, The New York Times reported Thursday. He donated at least $125,000 to the Trump campaign last September.

Reports last week indicated that the Kushners, led by Jared’s brother Joshua, had been in talks to buy the Marlins for months. Loria’s asking price was $1.6 billion.

“Our family has been friends with Jeff Loria for over 30 years, been in business together, and even owned a AAA baseball team together,” Jared Kushner’s brother-in-law Joseph Meyer, who took over the Kushner-owned New York Observer when the 36-year-old moved to Washington, D.C., to become an aide to Trump, told the New York Post in a statement Wednesday night. “Although the Kushners have made substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins, recent reports suggest that Mr. Loria will soon be nominated by the president to be ambassador to France.

“If that is true, we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process and will not pursue it. The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time.”

Loria, a Jewish art dealer from New York, owned the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) in the early 2000s. He purchased the Marlins in 2003 and the team went on to win the World Series that year. Since then, the Marlins have not reached the playoffs, and Loria has become unpopular among the club’s fans for meticulously keeping the payroll among the lowest in the league.

The Miami Marlins during a game against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla., April 21, 2016. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Kushner family in talks to buy Miami Marlins


The family of presidential adviser Jared Kushner is in talks to purchase the Miami Marlins baseball team, The New York Times reported.

The Kushners, a New York area real estate family, regard the team’s $1.6 billion price tag as too high, the Times reported Thursday.

The negotiations, which have been ongoing for several months, are being led by Joshua Kushner, a venture capitalist and Jared’s younger brother, and Joseph Meyer, his brother-in-law and key lieutenant for the family’s investments.

The talks include a complicated financial arrangement that would include bringing in partners later, unnamed sources told the Times.

Jared Kushner is a senior adviser to President Donald Trump and the husband of his eldest daughter, Ivanka. The couple married in 2009 following her conversion to Judaism.

Neither Jared Kushner nor his father, Charles, the family patriarch who spent over a year in prison for illegal campaign donations, tax evasion and witness tampering, is participating in the effort, the sources added.

Any deal would have to be approved by Major League Baseball, which would closely scrutinize the buyer’s financing and probably seek to ensure that Charles Kushner had no role in operations, according to the Times report.

Jared Kushner, who has pledged to refrain from any involvement in transactions tied to his family to avoid the possibility of conflict of interests, had previously bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers with his brother. They eventually withdrew from the bidding in 2012. The winning group paid over $2 billion.

Representatives for the Kushners, the Marlins and the LionTree investment bank declined to comment when approached by the Times.

The Marlins are currently owned by Jeffrey Loria, a Jewish businessman from New York. He paid $158 million for the team in 2002 after selling the Montreal Expos back to Major League Baseball.

The Marlins won the World Series in 2003, defeating the New York Yankees, but since then have not returned to the playoffs.

CUNY nixes Kushner honorary degree over anti-Israel statements


The City University of New York has voted not to honor playwright Tony Kushner with an honorary degree at its commencement after a board member objected, citing the Pulitzer Prize winner’s anti-Israel statements.

The New York Jewish Week reported that the request by CUNY’s John Jay College to recognize Kushner was turned down at a board of trustees meeting Monday after board member Jeffrey Wiesenfeld objected. Kushner would have been eligible to speak at the graduation ceremony.

The decision could be the first time in the university system’s history that a proposed candidate for an honorary degree has been vetoed, the newspaper reported.

Other candidates approved this year for honorary degrees include former New York Mayor Edward Koch and Bernard Spitzer, the father of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, from the City College of New York; Joel Klein, the city’s former schools chancellor, from CUNY; and Judith Kaye, the state’s former chief judge, from John Jay, The Jewish Week reported.

Kushner has been active with organizations that endorse the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

He has written that Israel was “founded in a program that, if you really want to be blunt about it, was ethnic cleansing.” Kushner also has said that “it would have been better” had the State of Israel never been created.

Tony Kushner responds in this article on NYTimes.com.

Racial Tensions Take Center Stage


 

When the “Coloreds Only” sign disappeared from a water fountain at the train station in Tony Kushner’s hometown of Lake Charles, La., one day in the early 1960s, it was a sign of the dawning civil rights movement, which had emerged elsewhere in the South but only subtly in Lake Charles.

In Kushner’s liberal Jewish home, relatives spoke excitedly of the changes while an African American maid, Maudie, washed and ironed all day in the hot basement. In her starched white uniform, she toiled as black domestics had done for generations of white families in Lake Charles.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Kushner drew on those memories to create his potent but unsentimental new musical, “Caroline, or Change,” now at the Ahmanson Theatre. With book and lyrics by Kushner and music by Jeanine Tesori, the piece recounts a time when “nothing much ever seemed to happen, yet something unforeseen was out there in the distance, having to do with race,” Kushner said.

The semi-autobiographical story revolves around Jewish 9-year-old Noah and his dour family maid, Caroline (Tonya Pinkins), who labors in the basement as the world outside transforms.

The change in the title not only refers to the civil rights movement but to the change Noah carelessly leaves in his pockets, which his stepmother urges Caroline to keep to teach the boy a lesson. It is this pocket change (actually $20 in Chanukah gelt) that inevitably fractures the relationship between Noah and Caroline, mirroring the era’s economic and political concerns.

The crisis also serves as a parable of black Jewish relations: “The civil rights movement, a coalition of blacks and Jews, produced immensely significant, progressive changes in American society,” Kushner, 48, said from his Manhattan home. “But I feel both blacks and Jews are responsible for the [acrimonious] way in which our two groups parted. That’s why the play has no villains, just characters trying to get by and to be just,” he added. “The piece addresses the immense possibility for misunderstanding on both sides; the powerful societal forces of race and money; and how even good intentions can sometimes lead to unfortunate consequences — as the play says, ‘consequences unforeseen.'”

Kushner’s work has long focused on powerful societal forces, and consequences unforeseen. His epic plays explore the anxiety of turbulent change: the AIDS epidemic in “Angels in America,” for example, or the threat of terrorism in “Homebody/Kabul.”

If “Caroline” spotlights race relations, it’s been called the “brooding person’s ‘Hairspray'” — alluding to the perky Broadway musical about integration in which blacks and whites only have to dance together to fix societal ills. Kushner’s piece is a grittier look at the era and, generally, how personal and political change intersect.

“Sometimes people with terrible personal problems can truly be saved by a powerful social movement and, sometimes, movements can’t quite do that, as in the case of Caroline,” he said. “External forces such as racism and poverty pull too hard in the opposite direction, as do internal pressures such as depression.”

It’s the kind of conflict Kushner believes he saw in Maudie, to whom the musical is dedicated, and whose implacable temperament fascinated him as a boy. Other African American housekeepers put on happy faces, which Kushner suspected masked less favorable feelings, but not Maudie.

“She was much tougher and less friendly than the other maids,” he said.

Like the fictional Noah, young Tony regularly left coins in his pockets, which the housekeeper found in the laundry; the habit appalled his mother, who had grown up on welfare, and eventually inspired “Caroline.”

Also like Noah, the playwright ultimately lost his mother to cancer; as she shuttled back and forth to New York for treatment, it was Maudie who cared for the three Kushner children and drove them to school. Even so, the author recalled, “She was not interested in becoming our surrogate mommy. She would not have felt that was appropriate.”

The musical, accordingly, dismisses the myth of the always-nurturing domestic: “It’s like, ‘Hey, this woman is raising this white boy and she’s not happy about it,” said Pinkins, who received a Tony nomination for “Caroline.” “She’s not in love with her white family. It’s one of those truths people are in denial about, but which [Kushner] confronts head on.”

The author, for his part, views the story as cautiously hopeful: “It’s about the world changing, not in a snap but slowly,” he said.

For tickets to “Caroline,” which runs through Dec. 26, call (213) 628-2772 or visit www.taperahmanson.com.