Daily Kickoff: Amb. Friedman to talk Temple Mount with Trump in the Oval Office today | Erekat slams the White House | BDays: Mark Cuban, Leon Black

July 31, 2017
David Friedman testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Feb. 16, 2017. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Image.

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Ed note: There will no Daily Kickoff tomorrow in observance of Tisha B’Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, commemorating the destruction of the Temple. 

TOP TALKER: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Why the Middle East Hated Obama But Loves Trump” by Susan Glasser: “The unfortunate consequence of not acting” there, [Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-] Hariri argues, has been Russia’s restoration as a regional heavyweight, the resurrection of Bashar al-Assad’s bloody regime in Syria and the failure to produce an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. “Clarity,” the prime minister says, and the hope for a more decisive approach is the reason why he and other Arab leaders prefer Trump, despite the bombast and uncertainty the first six months of his presidency has unleashed… and Hariri repeatedly brought up concessions Obama made toward Tehran to get his nuclear deal as an example of how the U.S. lost its way in the region… Hariri also faults Obama for the big gap between the “inspirational” words in his 2009 Cairo speech suggesting a new American approach to the region – and the “nothing” that came of Obama’s efforts to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” [Politico]

“Inside Iran’s Mission To Dominate The Middle East”: Iran has enlisted tens of thousands of young Shiite men into an armed network that is challenging the US across the Middle East. The Trump administration is not prepared” by Borzou Daragahi: “It’s a huge threat,” said retired Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, a former adviser to Israel’s ministry of strategic affairs and chief of the research division at the Israeli Defense Force’s Military Intelligence branch. “The fact that we have F-16s and F-35s is not relevant to this problem.” … The US’s regional allies have poured resources into monitoring Iran’s militias. They use both electronic surveillance and networks of informers across the region. “Israel knows what Iran is building, who they’re working with, what the training is, and where the training is,” said Kuperwasser. “We keep trying to find ways to start slow them down so when the big war starts they have less capability.” [BuzzFeed]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Trump’s New Chief Has One Key Asset: Ivanka and Kushner’s Nod” by Toluse Olorunnipa and Margaret Talev: “President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, senior advisers with unfettered access to the Oval Office, supported [John] Kelly’s selection as chief of staff after losing confidence in Priebus… Trump’s daughter and son-in-law have committed to work with Kelly to create more order around the president, a White House official said. While it’s unlikely that the walk-in privileges of Trump’s children will be curtailed, other senior officials may lose their direct line to the president… While Ivanka Trump and Kushner have committed their support to Kelly, Trump’s choice, another administration official noted that their more natural allies among those floated to replace Priebus would have been economic adviser Gary Cohn or deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, from the globalist camp.” [Bloomberg]

“New order at WH front and center as Kelly takes helm” by Eli Watkins: “When asked whether first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner would lose the direct access to the President that they enjoy and go through Kelly, a White House source would only say: “Jared and Ivanka are very supportive of him (Kelly) coming in and have a tremendous amount of admiration for him and will follow his lead on how he wants things done.” Pressed on that point, the source said: “They will follow his lead. They want this to work.” ” [CNN]

“Ivanka and Jared find their limits in Trump’s White House” by Annie Karni and Eliana Johnson: “President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law had been double-teaming for weeks to persuade him to oust chief of staff Reince Priebus, pushing for a new chief who could “professionalize the West Wing,” according to multiple White House officials… That victory followed Trump’s appointment a week earlier of financier Anthony Scaramucci, a campaign surrogate and donor, as communications director, a move the couple also strongly supported. But if Ivanka Trump and Kushner… remain influential voices with Trump on personnel decisions, they have so far had little effect on his policies. Last week they were blindsided by the president’s tweet saying he planned to ban transgender people from serving in the military… Meanwhile, she desperately wants to lower expectations of what she can achieve in an administration where she views herself as one person on a large team — even though other White House officials said she still has access to the president whenever she desires it.” [Politico]

JI EXCLUSIVE: Erekat criticizes Trump admin’s handling of recent crisis — by Aaron Magid: Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat criticized the Trump administration’s mediation efforts in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict during an interview with Jewish Insider yesterday. Erekat complained specifically about the US response to the recent Temple Mount crisis. “We don’t understand how no U.S. officials came out with any word of sympathy for the Palestinian people that have been attacked and killed by occupation forces, including settlers,” he declared… Erekat’s remarks represent the highest level criticism from the Palestinian Authority of the Trump administration since February.

A senior White House official responded to Erekat… “As tensions in the region continue to lower, rhetoric like this is neither valid nor helpful towards everyone’s ultimate goal of achieving peace.” [JewishInsider]

REPORT: “Israel radio correspondent Gal Berger reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is offering millions of shekels in Palestinian Authority grants to East Jerusalem residents who took part in the protests and riots over the Temple Mount since the July 14 terror attack that sparked two weeks of tension.” [ToI]

NY Post editorial… Palestinian Authority now uses half of all foreign aid to reward terror: “The total, $344 million, equals 49.6 percent of all foreign aid to the PA. In other words, cash from Uncle Sam, Europe and even Israel is subsidizing “welfare for terrorists.” … The PA budget is a clear “no” to Trump’s demand. Ball’s in your court, Mr. President.” [NYPost]

Happening today: President Trump is meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in the Oval Office at 11:30 am.

JI experts on lessons learned from the Temple Mount crisis and its impact on Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’ — by Aaron Magid: “The administration invited Abbas to White House to meet the President in exchange for nothing. His conduct since then suggested that they made a bad bet,” explained Elliot Abrams, a former top official in the George W. Bush administration. “He incited violence in the crisis over the Temple Mount… I would hope that the administration would let him know that all of this has been seen and understood and that it has gone a long way to destroy confidence as a reliable interlocutor and that the next time an administration representative meets with him, they let him know there will be no meetings at the top levels like the President or Secretary of State.”

The Trump administration should adopt a “much more hands on approach: starting to make the phone calls to the leadership and relevant players early on and not wait until things gets out of hand before intervening,” said Dan Arbell, a former senior Israeli diplomat. “The idea is to keep the ball moving forward because if you don’t then you end up in crisis situations that only bring setbacks. People are waiting to see whether this talk of an ultimate deal is actually something real or just a campaign promise that is not being delivered.”

Frank Lowenstein, the top Middle East envoy during the end of the Obama administration: “If there is anything that the Trump administration may have seen in the months that they have been working on, it is they have been running into the roadblocks that we ran into from both sides. They are going to have to make a decision how they want to proceed: is it really worth investing time, energy and political capital on something that the parties themselves don’t appear to be genuinely committed to moving forward.” [JewishInsider]

“Team Trump’s quiet Mideast success” by Jonathan Tobin: “Whatever good Jared Kushner and US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt may have done in securing the safe return to Israel of an embassy security guard, this shouldn’t tempt Trump to think the time is ripe for another round of major diplomacy. The last thing the region needs is another American effort to broker a final peace plan that is hopelessly out of reach… The smartest thing [Trump] can do now is to turn his attention to the chaos in Washington, not Jerusalem.”[NYPost]

“The EU, headed by France and Germany, could replace US on Mideast” by Uri Savir: “According to the [EU] official, one can assume that if the United States does not launch a regionally-backed two-state solution process, Merkel (assuming she wins as expected in the upcoming elections) and Macron, together with EU headquarters, will launch a European initiative on the terms of reference for a two-state solution and a peace conference to be convened in Brussels… According to a senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is certain that Trump will block such a European initiative… “We see Europe as hostile to Israeli interests and pro-Palestinian. The European leadership is probably frustrated to have been marginalized by the Trump administration.”” [Al-Monitor

COMING SOON: “Tillerson wants fewer US diplomats, fewer meetings at UN summit” by Colum Lynch: “President Donald Trump does plan to address other world leaders at the U.N, General Assembly, and he will be accompanied by other top advisors, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who stopped by U.N. headquarters Friday for a private lunch with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. But the ranks of professional diplomats, aides and officials that attend the event to promote American policy priorities on a range of issues will be thinned out… Two officials said that the State Department is seeking to keep a ceiling down to about 300 people, including everyone from the President to support staff that schedule meetings and copy speeches back at the hotel.” [FP]

“How Schumer Held Democrats Together Through a Health Care Maelstrom” by Jennifer Steinhauer: “I take what’s given me,” Mr. Schumer, 66, said in a (shoeless) interview in his Capitol Hill office right off the Senate floor… “We’re in the minority, so we’re not making policy,” Mr. Schumer said. “We have to know when to dance and when to fight. The Trump administration has made it harder to dance.” … Mr. Schumer’s schmoozing abilities have been important. “He knows who I am,” said Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia… “I tell him when I think he is moving too far to the left,” Mr. Manchin said, as when Mr. Schumer pushed to filibuster to block Mr. Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. “There were no conversations with Harry.” [NYTimes

LongRead: “Bernie Sanders’s campaign isn’t over: In Trump’s America, the Independent senator is fighting to win back the heartland for Democrats” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells: “Sanders, who is seventy-five, may be too old to run again in 2020, but his barnstorming has a purpose—to deepen the connection to progressive ideas in rural America, to develop an attachment that might outlast him. At recent events, one of his biggest applause lines was that the “Republicans did not win the election so much as Democrats lost it.” Progressives do not have much of a foothold in this country. What they have is Bernie Sanders… Sanders is an old man who often finds himself speaking to young audiences. They are not necessarily looking for encouragement. “My wife tells me my speeches are so bleak that they have to pass out tranquillizers at the door,” he said at an event that evening at Brixton Academy, a music venue in South London.” [NewYorker]

** Good Monday 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “A 32-year-old investor with ties to Elon Musk wants to upend America with his crazy, utopian plan for the future” by Chris Weller: “Much like one of his notable colleagues, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Sam Altman is set on turning the ideal into the practical… “I have a very strong vision of where I’d like to see the world go,” Altman said. “And I don’t think it gets there by startups alone.” … In May, rumors began to swirl that Altman’s political interests had compelled him to run for California governor in 2018. He seemed to be making a familiar transition from the private world into the public spotlight… But Altman ultimately went a different route. In mid-July he put the rumors to bed by issuing an open call on his blog for similar-minded political candidates that he could support. He could offer money, connections, and tech to help them get into the governor’s office.” [BusinessInsider

“By harnessing Israeliness, WeWork joins the ranks of Uber, Airbnb” by Inbal Orpaz: ““As a child who lived in a lot of places, one of the hardest things for me was to join a new community. It was hardest at the kibbutz, but that was also one of the most impressive communities. I remember how much fun it was to be a child in the kibbutz,” says [Adam] Neumann, noting that sometimes he calls WeWork “Kibbutz 2.0.” Neumann’s partner in establishing the company grew up in a commune as well. Perhaps it was not by chance that the two got together to establish a business based on shared values. “We are making a capitalist kibbutz,” added Neumann, qualifying the metaphor. “I remember from my childhood that not everyone worked the same number of hours.” … WeWorks chief brand director is Neumann’s wife, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann, who was part of the company from its inception. She also is a filmmaker, studied yoga and she introduced Neumann to the world of kabbala.” [Haaretz]

SPOTTED: Ira Rennert’s flight from New Jersey to Tel Aviv disguised as a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter on the flight map [Pic] h/t Avi Scharf

KAFE KNESSET — Bibi’s Dog’s life — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: While the country is engaged in serious debates about issues like the Temple Mount tensions, the police probes involving the PM and the Elor Azaria trial, the lawmakers will be discussing a totally different topics – dogs, or more specifically – the Netanyahu family dog, Kaiya. The MKs will vote on a new bill, which seeks to change the quarantine procedures for dogs and other pets who are involved in biting incidents. The bill is known as the “Kaiya bill,” as it was submitted by Likud MK Sharen Haskel last year, after “the First Dog” bit her during a Likud gathering and then was put in a detention facility, as the law dictates. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

ACROSS THE POND: Columnist fired over ‘anti-Semitic’ Sunday Times article: “A Sunday Times columnist “will not write again” for the newspaper after one of his articles was branded “anti-Semitic” and “disgraceful.” In the piece, Kevin Myers suggested BBC presenters Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz earned high salaries because they were Jewish. Editor Martin Ivens said the piece, which appeared in the Irish edition and online, should not have been published. Mr Ivens has also apologised personally to the two women. A News UK spokesman said the column included “unacceptable comments both to Jewish people and to women in the workplace.” Mr Ivens offered the paper’s “sincere apology, both for the remarks and the error of judgement that led to publication.”” [BBC

MEDIA WATCH: “Katie Couric Signs With WME” by A. J. Katz: “Katie Couric is parting ways with her longtime agent Alan Berger at CAA, and will join arch rival agency WME. TVNewser has learned that her new team at WME will consist of Ari Emanuel, Jon Rosen, Bradley Singer, Maggie Pisacane, Suzanne Gluck and Ben Davis. The iconic TV (and now web) newser currently serves as Yahoo News chief global anchor, a role created exclusively for her in 2013.” [TVNewser; THR]

“Is The New York Times vs. The Washington Post vs. Trump the Last Great Newspaper War?” by James Warren: “The Times’s foundational accomplishment is that, against great odds, it has maintained the support of a fifth generation of family ownership in the Sulzbergers. The key members include thirtysomething cousins A. G. Sulzberger, who will eventually take over the company from his father, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and Sam Dolnick, an assistant editor whose accomplishments include overseeing a podcast phenomenon called “The Daily 360,” which averages half a million downloads a day. It verges on the inconceivable that a family business would endure this long, especially amid industry decline and a languishing stock price—and, as has been the case elsewhere, an understandable impulse by some members to cash out. But Sulzberger and Dolnick, who are among the members known internally as “the princelings,” aren’t going anywhere. The family remains “genuinely close” to the paper, Dolnick said. His cousin, A.G., conceded that the notion of family control may seem archaic. Not to him. Not to them.”[VanityFair]

BOOK REVIEW: “Recalling the Jewish men who fled the Nazis then returned to fight them” by David M. Shribman: “On both sides of the Atlantic, the war was fought in part by bureaucrats. There were the Nazis who categorized the Jews as a dangerous race doomed to extinction. Then there were the Americans who categorized Jewish refugees as enemy aliens, ineligible to fight their onetime tormentors — until sanity prevailed as it became clear that the newcomer’s language and cultural familiarity would be assets to the Allies. “We were fighting an American war, and we were also fighting an intensely personal war,’’ said Guy Stern, one of these emigre warriors… Hoping to take revenge on the Nazis, or hoping to right an eternal wrong in Europe, or hoping to save other Jews from death, or simply hoping to use their wartime assignments as a way to find lost and imperiled family members, they were dispatched, or smuggled, into Europe, this time working with American personnel, this time with a mission greater than self-preservation.”[BostonGlobe

“One Last Party for the Agent and Bon Vivant Ed Victor” by Jacob Bernstein: “The memorial at the Upper East Side apartment of Tina Brown and Harold Evans for the literary agent Ed Victor felt like a cocktail party. And that was fitting, given that the man receiving tribute had distinguished himself as a bon vivant on both sides of the Atlantic. This Bronx-born son of Russian Jewish immigrants rose to Commander of the Order of the British Empire before his death in June at age 77… When Mr. Victor’s cancer returned this year and he wound up in the hospital for what turned out to be the last time, he told his wife, Carol Ryan: “If this is it, I’m O.K. I’ve had a great life.” He also gave instructions about what should follow after his death. Not a funeral. Not a memorial service. “A party,” Mr. Evans said.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: District Attorney for Manhattan for 35 years (1975-2009), Robert M. Morgenthau turns 98… Graduate of Yale Law School in 1951, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights (1985-1992), chairman of the American Jewish International Relations Institute, Ambassador Richard Schifter turns 94… Investment banker, chairman and president of Blum Capital, he is married to US Senator Dianne Feinstein, Richard C. Blum turns 82… Retired chairman and CEO of the British retailer Marks and Spencer, he is an emeritus governor of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Sir Richard Greenbury turns 81… Actress, who went on to become CEO of Paramount Pictures and president of production at 20th Century Fox, Sherry Lansing turns 73… Nobel laureate in Economics in 1997, known for his quantitative analysis of options pricing, long-time professor at both Harvard and MIT, Robert C. Merton turns 73… Scholar, professor, rabbi, writer and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust, Michael Berenbaum turns 72… Founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, in 2015 he bought a 16th century copy of the Babylonian Talmud for $9.3 million, Leon David Black turns 66… Author of 31 best selling mystery novels, many with Jewish themes, Faye Kellerman turns 65…

Manhattan-based criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, radio talk show host and television commentator, Ronald L. Kuby turns 61… Businessman, television personality and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cubanturns 59… Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, Dan Schnur turns 54… Born into a practicing Catholic family in Nazareth, Israel, investor and owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores turns 53… Writer, journalist and graduate of Ramaz School, Harvard College and Yale Law School, known for her best-selling memoir “Prozac Nation,” Elizabeth Wurtzel turns 50… MLB outfielder (1998-2010), the first player known as the “Hebrew Hammer,” he coached for Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier, now director of player development for the LA Dodgers, Gabe Kapler turns 42… Political activist and the founder and president of Stand Up America, a progressive advocacy community, he is also the president of Hudson River Ventures, Sean “Simcha” Eldridge turns 31… Senior manager of corporate communications at Samsung Electronics North America, Danielle Meister Cohen turns 29… Aryeh Canter turns 27… Helene Miller-Walsh, Jewish wife of former Congressman Joe Walsh (R-Illinois-8)… Adam Rosenberg… David Goldenberg… Richard Rosenstein (h/ts Playbook)…

TUESDAY BIRTHDAYS: Former US Ambassador to Israel (2011-2017), Daniel B. Shapiro turns 48… Tech entrepreneur Ari Zoldan turns 41… Founder and CEO of Moishe House, David Cygielman turns 36… Staffer for Hillary Clinton in her Senate and State Department posts, now at NYC PR firm DKC, David Helfenbein turns 31… Director of New York Government Relations at Agudath Israel of America since 2017, previously Executive Director of the Boro Park Jewish Community Council, Yeruchim Silber… Treasurer of the Harvard Law School Republicans, a student-run organization, he is spending his 2017 summer interning at at the office of the White House Counsel, Asher Perez… Vice President for Social Entrepreneurship at Hillel International, Sheila Katz… Culver City, California resident, Allene Prince… Founder and chairman of NYC-based Midtown Equities, a major developer of nationwide real estate projects, he started his career as the owner of a record label and then as a video game publisher, Joseph Cayre turns 76… Israeli born businessman and film producer, later CEO of Marvel Studios, Avi Arad turns 69… President of Brandeis University from 1994-2010, he is now a professor at Brandeis and the president of the Cleveland-based Mandel Foundation, Jehuda Reinharz turns 73…

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