Daily Kickoff: Congress misses 60 day window to reimpose Iran sanctions | Chemi Shalev & Josh Block on young Jews & social justice | Ben Bernanke BDay


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ALABAMA ELECTION — “Trump suffers ‘big black eye’ in Alabama” by Eliana Johnson: “Doug Jones didn’t just defeat Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate race on Tuesday night — he administered the most crushing and embarrassing political blow of President Donald Trump’s young presidency… Jones’ win, said one senior administration official, “is a big black eye for the president.”” [Politico]

Jones in his victory speech: “To all my Jewish friends, happy Hanukkah.”[Video]

CNN’s Jake Tapper after the race was called for Jones: “This definitely shows there are standards and there are limits to what voters will accept, even in this era of tribes. Even in this era where Democrats and Republicans stick to their teams, root for their teams, there is still a point past which some people will not go.” [Video]

Former Sen. Norm Coleman, current Chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, tweets: “Short term pain, long term gain. Roy Moore and Steve Bannon losing tonight is big win for the GOP. We will survive 2 years of D. Jones. Moore would have buried GOP in 2018.” Coleman added, “Doug Jones surest path to re-election: announce tomorrow he is switching parties & joining the GOP. This was not a pro-Jones, anti Trump, anti GOP vote tonite. It was a “couldn’t stomach a vote for Roy Moore “ night.” [Twitter]

A spokesperson for the newly-formed Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) emails us: “The election results in Alabama were a Hanukkah gift for the American people and a victory for morality accountability, and common decency. It was not a bad step for the first night of Hanukkah, but there is still much more work to do.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Billionaires at New York Galas Can’t Agree on Trump’s Tax Plan” by Amanda L Gordon and Max Abelson: “Robert Rubin, who was once a U.S. Treasury Secretary and co-head of Goldman Sachs, referred questions on the Republican tax overhaul to another guest at the UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street Dinner. “Ask John,” Rubin said Monday evening, looking through his round black spectacles at hedge fund manager John Paulson. They were taking their seats next to each other on the dais in front of 2,000 people in a ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown. Paulson, who served as an economic adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, had already opined during cocktail hour… He talked of a “tidal wave” of benefit that will come from lowering the corporate tax rate…”

“Across the street at the Dubin Breast Cancer benefit in the Ziegfeld Ballroom, Michael Novogratz didn’t sound as amenable on a day when the Treasury Department put out a one-page report that tried to defend the economic impact of the plan. “Steve Mnuchin never even modeled the thing — idiot, I-D-I-O-T,” said [Michael] Novogratz. “Gary Cohn shouldn’t be able to live with himself.” … At the UJA gala honoring Howard Lutnick and Lee Fixel, one guest, Bruce Richards… said he and his wife are talking about moving because of tax changes. “The truth is, most of us have homes in Florida, in Miami or in Palm Beach,” he said.” [Bloomberg

TOP TALKER — “Netanyahu to Macron: I’ll make concessions for Trump peace plan” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Emanuel Macron on Sunday that he will be ready to make concessions in the context of a Trump peace plan… According to [EU] diplomats, Macron told Netanyahu Trump’s peace plan will be “disruptive” for the status quo… Macron added that Trump told him that in a few months, he will present a peace plan that will be different from all previous Middle East peace initiatives. The diplomats said Netanyahu told Macron… he doesn’t know what Trump will put on the table… Netanyahu’s office confirmed most of the description provided by the European diplomats, but denied that Netanyahu spoke about possible concessions. Israeli officials said Netanyahu only told Macron he thinks the Trump plan will challenge both him and Abbas.”[Axios]

“Palestinian president says no role for US in peace process” by Zeynep Bilginsoy and Sarah El Deeb: “Abbas said Trump’s decision was a “crime” which came at a time when the Palestinians were engaged with Washington in a new push to reach what he said was anticipated to be the “deal of our times.” “Instead we got the slap of our times,” Abbas said. “The United States has chosen to lose its qualification as a mediator … We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process from now… We call that the (peace) process in its entirety be transferred to the United Nations,” Abbas said.” [AP]

“Joint List joins Palestinians’ Pence snub” by Lahav Harkov: “The Joint List plans to skip US Vice President Mike Pence’s speech to the Knesset on Monday… MK Ahmad Tibi, chairman of the Joint List’s Jerusalem Committee said Pence is a “representative of a government that totally adopted the narrative of the Israeli occupation, including the matter of Al-Kuds,” Jerusalem in Arabic… “Boycotting the speech is a demonstrative step to politically protest the [American] government’s dangerous stance,” he added.” [JPost]

“Trump’s Jerusalem move was supposed to destabilize the entire Middle East. It didn’t” by Sarah Wildman: “Many Palestinians who went through the second intifada don’t want to repeat it,” says Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute… Plus, Omari adds, Palestinians sense there is a lack of direction, and a lack of stewardship, from their political leaders, and are thus reluctant to protest without a clear purpose or guidance. However, he explains that individual acts of violence may still occur: “When there is despair, there is no way to predict what will trigger people.” [Vox]  

HEARD YESTERDAY — “Tillerson Says Embassy in Jerusalem Is at Least Three Years Away” by Gardiner Harris: “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said Tuesday that it is unlikely that the American Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem before 2020. “It’s not going to be anything that happens right away,” Mr. Tillerson said, adding, “Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.” … Mr. Tillerson discussed the future of the embassy in a speech at the State Department.” [NYTimes]

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert: “I think the moving of the embassy will be done when it’s ready. And some of the things that have to be done include talking to Congress about the money, taking a look at the most appropriate site for it. As you all know, security is extremely important. We have to take a look at all the security things that have to be factored into that site. Is this the right space for it. So a lot of that stuff is just, frankly, going to take time, and that’s why the Secretary said it could take several years.”

HEARD LAST NIGHT — NEC Director Gary Cohn at the 39th annual National Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremony on the Ellipse: “While we gather tonight in Washington, we must remember another city that made the news last week. President Trump delivered on a promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel… The president made the right decision and it makes this years celebration of Hanukkah particularly meaningful. On behalf of the president, the first lady, and the administration, I wish you all a very Happy Hanukkah.” [CSPAN]

HANUKKAH ON SOCIAL MEDIA — Ivanka Trump tweeted a picture of her family after lighting the 1st candle [Pic

President Trump tweeted a statement congratulating his “Jewish brothers and sisters” celebrating Hanukkah and wishing them “a happy and healthy eight nights in the company of those they love.” [Twitter

Chelsea Clinton replied to a reporter teasing her for Hanukkah greetings noting “she’s running” — “Or… I am on my way home to light candles with my family. Happy Hanukkah!” [Twitter]

474K LIKES — Barack Obama: “Happy Hanukkah, everybody, from the Obama family to yours. Chag Sameach!” [Twitter

JARED INSIDER: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Hang on in the Swamp” by Emily Jane Fox: On Thursday evening, Jared Kushner and Ivanka… joined their parents and assorted other Trump family members… in the East Room of the White House to perform the traditional Hanukkah blessing… According to two people in attendance, Kushner… was greeted heroically. “There were lots of handshakes and pats on the back,” one attendee said. “He was very well received,” another said… The evening evidently buoyed the Kushner-Trumps, one person who talked to them at the event told me…” [VanityFair]

“The education of Ivanka Trump” by Sara Murray and Betsy Klein: “White House officials insist some of the tales about Ivanka appealing to her father to moderate his tone or flip on controversial issues were exaggerated. “I think it was overblown,” said Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs… These days, Trump no longer feels the need to weigh in on the issue du jour. Instead, she has focused on economic initiatives that benefit women and families…” [CNN]

ON THE HILL — Senate misses 60 day window to re-impose Iran sanctions — by Aaron Magid: President Donald Trump announced with great fanfare that he was decertifying the nuclear deal with Iran on October 13. Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), Congress had a special 60 day period to reimpose nuclear sanctions against Iran. On the Senate side, under this special provision, only a simple majority was required with 51 Senators. However, the 60 day window has passed. Congress still has the ability to reimpose nuclear sanctions against Iran after the two month window but the path will now be more difficult. In the Senate, a vote would now require support from 60 Senators through regular order allowing Democrats to filibuster.

“I believe, frankly, that we are in a situation where the President himself and the executive branch can take action,” Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) told Jewish Insider yesterday. “The Senate rules are creating a roadblock in a whole range of areas and the last thing we have got to do on the House side is have those Senate rules restrain what we do. We ought to do what we think is right and then if the Senate is not able to impose the kind of sanctions or produce the kind of reforms we know are necessary, then they have to explain that to the American people.”

On October 23, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-TN) explained, “I don’t have any timetable. We’ll get it passed when it’s ready.” Working with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), the Tennessee lawmaker added,  “This is something we hope to pass with 80-85 votes.”

Some Democrats were pleased that the 2015 nuclear agreement will remain intact for now. “The message is we think that there are things that are working about the Iran deal and we don’t want to overturn it,” Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-WA) asserted. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) noted, “Even people who had qualms about the agreement now see its value. It’s not just Democrats, it’s Republicans that control this place.” [JewishInsider]

— “The White House said Tuesday there was never any expectation Congress would act on sanctions within the review period and that the administration is still working with Congress on a longer-term, legislative fix to the deal.” [ABCNews]

 The Senate unanimously passed yesterday the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, aimed to help Holocaust survivors and their families obtain restitution or the return of Nazi-confiscated assets and introduced in by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted that the legislation – pending approval by the House of Representatives – passed just hours before the start of Hanukkah. “Passing this bill makes eminent sense and was the right thing to do, especially on this night because the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust will always shine brightly like Hanukkah candles,” Schumer said in a statement.

** Good Wednesday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Luminati has a new partner: mega-mall developers Ghermezian brothers [Riverhead] • Sir Frank Lowy: ‘I’m not the retiring type’ [TheAustralian• Competing James Packer biographies set to hit shelves [SidneyHerald] • Netanyahu to be questioned for seventh time in graft probe [ToI] • The slide deck that Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield shows to new hires reveals how he never expected the company to get so huge [BusinessInsider]

STARTUP NATION: “Homeis, a culture network for immigrants, launches and nabs $4m seed round led by Spark Capital” by Danny Crichton: “Immigrating to a new country is one of the most challenging experiences any person can face. In a single instant, your social networks, your ability to communicate, and your knowledge of how a society functions disappears, and nearly everything has to be learned from scratch. That extraordinary dislocation is one reason why ethnic enclaves exist in large cities like New York City or San Francisco — being around others like yourself provides a bridge from one’s old country to their new home. Homeis is the creation of two Israeli entrepreneurs, Ran Harnevo, the former president of video for TechCrunch parent Oath, and Hanan Laschover, the former CEO of Aol Israel.”

“Homeis is a “culture network” for local, foreign-born communities. The vision for the product is to connect immigrants together around critical tasks, including finding local services, learning about their new society, and connecting with peers in a similar situation as themselves. In addition to launching the product, the company announced today a $4m seed fundraise. Joining lead investor Spark in the seed round was Canaan Partners, The Chernin Group, and Samsung Next, along with angels including Oath CEO Tim Armstrong and Adam Singolda, CEO of Taboola.” [TechCrunch]

FAUDA FEEDBACK — Due to the large response from readers to our coverage yesterday of the Fauda Season 2 screening, we figured we’d share a funny photo from the evening featuring Lior Raz demonstrating a knock out punch on moderator Dan Senor [Pic] h/t Bari Weiss.

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Tens of thousands of Israelis attend ultra-Orthodox rabbi’s funeral” by Peter Beaumont: “Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman said he would be content if 10 people came to his funeral. On Tuesday, tens of thousands attended the commemorations for the leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, one of Israel’s most influential rabbis, who has died aged 104. There were no eulogies, as Shteinman requested in a will that also included the plea that his followers neither name their children after him nor write press articles about him. Shteinman, widely regarded as “Gadol Hador” or “leader of the generation”, was known for his rabbinic scholarship, his relatively pragmatic rulings and his extremely modest lifestyle.” [TheGuardianReuters]

TOP OPS — “Appalled by Trump and Betrayed by Netanyahu, Liberal American Jews Feel Alone and Abandoned” by Chemi Shalev: “Liberal Jews, who comprise the majority of American Jews, would rather talk in public about any topic in the world besides Israel. It makes them feel uncomfortable. Jacobs believes his movement should embrace social activism and dedicate itself to equality and social justice not just as worthy causes but as a means of reengaging with younger Jews, who have abandoned the temples and rituals of their parents as well as their blind devotion to Israel. Jacobs called on his audience on Saturday to rediscover the positive things that they love about Israel, but he and other Jewish leaders know that selling 2017 Israel, ruled as it is by ultra-Orthodox, settlers and a prime minister who is a consummate cynic, is a mission impossible.” [Haaretz]

“Is Today’s ‘Social Justice’ Jewish?” by Josh Block: “Today, rather than using the bar or bat mitzvah as an opportunity to impart critical lessons that will help ground our children in a common identity and an authentic commitment to protecting Jewish lives, far too often we are encouraging them to skip all that and go directly to causes that are essentially universal. These causes are praiseworthy in their own right, but the shift in emphasis has meant that the role of an individual Jew is simply to do something good, for anyone, for any cause, because we are Jewish and we seek to repair the world. Yes, it is still labeled as “Jewish,” but without the core elements of history, peoplehood, and textual heritage, that label has become increasingly hollow.” [TabletMag]

“An Eye-Opening Introduction to the Jewish Influence on America’s Founding” by Tevi Troy: “For lovers of Jewish ideas and American political history, these eight one-hour videos (Tikvah Fund’s new online course Jewish Ideas and the American Founders) constitute an eye-opening introduction to the Jewish influence on the American founding and the early republic, relayed through Rabbi Meir Soloveichik’s erudite insights into the religious underpinnings of some of America’s basic political ideas… If you think an American rabbi can’t do British humor, you haven’t heard Rabbi Soloveichik reciting the exchange on the divine right of kings between King Arthur and a surprisingly well-informed peasant from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” [MosaicMag]

“Lighting Hanukkah Candles Under the Swastika’s Shadow” by Daniella Greenbaum: “In Kiel, Germany, in 1932, Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner and his wife, Rachel, lit the menorah and placed it on their window sill. Directly across the street was a Nazi flag… The poignancy of the juxtaposition didn’t escape Rachel Posner. She took a photograph of the menorah and the swastika. On its back, she scribbled in German, “ ‘Death to Judah’ so the flag says, ‘Judah will live forever,’ so the light answers.” … For 51 weeks of the year, the menorah belongs to Yad Vashem… But each year, right before Hanukkah, the family takes the menorah back and puts it to good use. I spoke by phone with the Posners’ great-grandson, Akiva Baruch Mansbach, who… lights the menorah every year… “The same light that my great-grandparents lit in the exile in Germany is the light that so many light today in Israel,” he told me. “It demonstrates the continuity of Jewish history.”” [NYTimes

“The Political Power of Art” by John Ortved: “In the living room, pictures of [Ariel] Foxman with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Michelle Obama sit on a mantel next to family photos and a silver menorah. Above them hangs a felt cafe board on which the artist Maynard Monrow wrote with plastic letters, “For your information we the people are all immigrants.” “We just love the message of the piece,” Mr. Foxman said. “I’m the child of immigrants. My father was a Holocaust survivor.”” [NYTimes

DESSERT — BIG FOR SF: “Kosher bakery pumps out 4,000 donuts a day for Hanukkah” by Lisa Fernandez: “Yesterday, I made 4,000 sufganiyot,” [Isaac Yosef] the co-owner of Frena Bakery said, using the Hebrew word for jelly donut – a huge treat in Israel for the eight-day Festival of Lights… Frena opened last year at 132 6th Street and specializes in savory Mediterranean pastries. Many of the recipes were gleaned from Yosef’s great-grandfather who traveled from Iraq to Israel. Frena means oven in Greek. It is one of the only kosher bakeries in the Bay Area, and the only one in San Francisco.” [KTVU]

BIRTHDAYS: New York State Senator (1985-2012), Suzanne “Suzi” Oppenheimer turns 83… California-based real estate developer active in the revitalization of downtown San Jose, he is a former co-owner of the Oakland Athletics, Lewis Wolff turns 82… Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood since 1988, Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, and a member of the Executive Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, John Rosove turns 68… Executive chairwoman and chief media officer of Eko (a start-up focused on interactive music videos), she was previously a high ranking executive at Microsoft and CBS, Nancy Tellem turns 65… Chairman of the Federal Reserve (2006-2014), now a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Brookings Institution, Ben Shalom Bernanke turns 64… Academic, hedge fund manager, investor, writer and adjunct professor at Columbia University, Joel Greenblatt turns 60… After 10 years as a  Maryland state senator from Montgomery County, he became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017, Jamie Raskin turns 55… Co-Founder and principal of The Lead PR, LLC, a NYC based public relations firm, following 14 years as SVP for communications at ABC News, Jeffrey W. Schneider turns 49… Mayor of New Rochelle, New York since 2006, Noam Bramson turns 48… Manager of Global Communications and Public Affairs at Google’s DC office, Riva Litman turns 32… President Emerita at UCLA Faculty Women’s Club, Bette Billet

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Daily Kickoff: Jack Lew on Shabbat while White House Chief of Staff | Spotted at Fauda Season 2 | Elie Horn on Latin American giving | Happy Hanukkah!


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JUST IN TIME FOR HANUKKAH: “Westfield Agrees to $15.7 Billion Takeover by European Rival Unibail-Rodamco” by Mike Cherney, Noemie Bisserbe: “The deal would consolidate two of the world’s biggest mall operators at a time when brick-and-mortar retailers scramble to adapt to a tumultuous shift toward online shopping… The transaction also caps the decades-long career of Frank Lowy, Westfield’s chairman. A Holocaust survivor, he started in the business with a deli in a western Sydney suburb. Mr. Lowy, who fought in the Israeli war of independence before moving to Australia, will retire as chairman, and his sons Peter and Steven will step down as Westfield’s co-chief executives. The Lowys said they saw the transaction as an opportunity to recover value for shareholders.” [WSJDealBook]• Disclosure: Peter Lowy is Chair of the Board of Tribe Media Corp.

SCENE LAST NIGHT — FAUDA SEASON 2: The Paul E. Singer Foundation hosted a private advance screening of the second season of the hit Israeli and Netflix TV thriller “Fauda.” Attendees at the event, held at a screening room in TriBeCa, viewed the rather ‘intense’ first episode of Season 2, followed by a lighter Fauda-related clip from Conan O’Brien’s recent trip to Israel, and then capped the evening with an off-the-record conversation featuring leading cast members Lior Raz (Doron), Shadi Mari (Walid) and the show’s co-creator Avi Issacharoff. The panel discussion was led and moderated by Dan Senor.

SPOTTED: Campbell Brown, Alex Pelosi, Jon Lerner, Bari Weiss, Cy Vance, Willie Geist, Ben Wallace, Bret Stephens, Jamie Gangel & Dan Silva, Gabe Sherman, Michael Aronov, Mitch & Joleen Julis, Greg Zuckerman, Abe Greenwald, Noah Rothman, Rabbi Angela and Jacob Buchdahl, Banks Tarver, Brian Abrahams, Michael Sachs, Chris Altchek, Dan Selig, Danna Stern, David Bushman, Debbie Hochberg, Elana & Jay Lefkowitz, Ethan Bronner, Ilan Benatar, Jen Spyra, Jesse Furman, Josh Block, Kevin Ulrich, Marjorie Harris, Matthew Hiltzik, Merav Rotem Naaman, Michael & Jasmine Barr, Michael Price, Mosh Oinounou, Peter Thoren, Reihan & Kathryn Salam, Rich Lowry, Richard Cohen, Seth Siegel, Sewell Chan, Shari Aronson, Sohrab Ahmari, Steve & Deborah Shapiro, Stu Loeser, Tal Keinan, Vanessa & Roger Bennett, Viviane Eisenberg.

HEARD LAST NIGHT — at Columbia University’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies: Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recalled his experience working with former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama (including his time as White House Chief of Staff), in a conversation moderated by Foreign Policy Fellow Daniel Bonner. [PicPhoto credit: Dana Kresel • Extra points if you figure out what the content on the blackboard had to do with the lecture [Pic]

HIGHLIGHTS — Lew on being an observant Jew serving at the highest levels of government: “I have worked for some of the most powerful constitutional officers in the country and I’ve only been treated with respect and it has been in no way an obstacle to my advancement and to my performance. If it had been an obstacle to my performance, it would have been an obstacle to my advancement. It’s like any other profession where things sometimes come up that are challenging because of observing Shabbat and Yom Tov… To me, the challenge was not finding a decisional structure where I felt I could do it with an observant lifestyle. To me, the challenge was being honest with myself — over when I really needed to be there and when I didn’t.”

Lew on his tenure working as President Obama’s Chief of Staff: “He knew me pretty well… He said, “You know this is a 24/7 world, you’ve worked in every important part of it, and you’re going to be the one who has to decide when it is something that you need to be here for on a Friday night or Saturday. It won’t stop – but you’ve figured it out before and you’ll figure it out now. I’ll never be the one who says, ‘You need to be here,’ so you better make sure you don’t forget where your line is.” There were more Saturdays that I was in the office as Chief of Staff than any other year. I lived within walking distance. I could walk in — usually go to shul and then walk in — and it wasn’t always the most pleasant way to spend Shabbat, to walk into a meeting where people are yelling at each other over a budget agreement… but, fundamentally, if you are prepared to let things go on without you, it [working on Shabbat] doesn’t happen anywhere near every week… When the president was running for re-election in 2012, some weeks the only day he was in the building was Saturday. I’d know in advance, and go and sit in the Roosevelt Room or in the Oval Office and spend a couple of hours catching up, talking, doing what we had to do, and then I’d go home.”

On dealing with criticism over the Iran deal in the Jewish community: “I felt fine to walk into my synagogue. I live in a great community in Riverdale where I know there are people in the room who might not agree with me. I didn’t have one hostile word on Iran in that room.”

On the Obama admin’s UNSC move last December: “Personally, I wish the resolution hadn’t been there at all. I’m not happy that there was a resolution. I’m also happy it wasn’t in its original form where we would have had to veto it, but then the rest of the world would have been voting for this even harsher condemnation. When it comes down to whether or not you think that settlements are appropriate and legal, you’ve said that for seven years and, you know, 11 months, that you don’t think they are. It’s hard to veto it over that issue. It doesn’t mean you’re not a friend of Israel. And it doesn’t mean that after that resolution you stop being a friend of Israel.”

On Trump’s Jerusalem move: “Congress passed this legislation and president after president has had the unpleasant task of having to sign a waiver. We now have a president who doesn’t like to make those signatures. And you know, there’s a pattern that’s developed that it just rankles him to have to sign those waivers. I hope that this turns out not to be a major disruption. It’s a little hard to tell because it’s so fresh. But you know, if you care, as I do, about having permanent security for a democratic state of Israel, there is no pathway other than a two state solution. The more you hear talk about a one state solution, the more it means it’s not a democratic state. That is not the Israel that I want for my grandchildren to love.” Full recap of Lew’s remarks here[JewishInsider]

“Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Leader Shteinman Dies at 104: “Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the spiritual leader of Israel’s non-Hassidic ultra-Orthodox Jews of European descent, has died. He was 104… Shteinman was one of Israel’s most influential rabbis and a political kingmaker whose orders were strictly followed by his representatives in parliament… Shteinman was known for his rabbinic scholarship, relatively pragmatic rulings and extremely modest lifestyle. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called him a leader who “carried on his shoulders the existential weight of the Jewish people.”” [APToI

ON THE HILL — House Members on Abbas’ cancellation of Pence meeting — by Aaron Magid: “I think it’s their loss, it’s their mistake. They had an opportunity to meet with the Vice President about a very important issue — engagement with Israel — they should do it,” Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL) told Jewish Insider yesterday. Rooney, who formerly served as US Ambassador to the Vatican during the George W. Bush administration added, “that ranks right there with Arafat walking out when Ehud Barak offered him basically everything he wanted back in the Clinton era. I believe that West Jerusalem has been part of Israel since 1949. It’s kind of a charade to make a big deal out of this.”

Rep. David Valadao (R-CA): “The Palestinians are “using this as another excuse to continue their ways and it’s frustrating. I don’t think this is what their issue is. They are just finding something to point fingers at. This is not a new issue for them. It’s something that’s been talked about forever. If this is their excuse of the week, then that’s their own decision to make.”

Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL): “I hope Abbas changes his mind and meets with [Pence] because I think we need a two state solution. I don’t know that we are going to mediate it: maybe we will, maybe we won’t, but somehow we have to get him to the table.”

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA): “Our U.S. policy hasn’t been one to support diplomacy and these are one of the consequences of US foreign policy which tend to be more unilateral US actions. These are some of the consequences. Do I like the fact that they did it? No. It’s a consequence of the president’s ‘I’m going to make the decisions. I’m going to do what I want and let the rest of the world follow.’ And I don’t agree with that… This is the same thing we have done with the Paris Climate agreement and Iran agreement. The more we go it alone, the less likely we are to have the support of the international community to bring about a peace agreement.”

On Monday, the House passed bipartisan legislation that would increase penalties for bomb threats against religious institutions. Introduced by Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), the bill was in response to over 170 threats made against Jewish community centers (JCCs) and Synagogues in 2017 alone. “The dramatic rise in threats against religious institutions is deeply disturbing and makes it clear that existing federal laws do not suitably deter these acts of hate. We must stand united against acts of hate and protect the rights of all Americans to worship freely and without fear,” Kustoff said.

LAST NIGHT IN DELAWARE: “Israeli ambassador: Trump’s Jerusalem action a “major diplomatic victory”” by Margie Fishman: “Less than a week after President Donald Trump publicly embraced Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. [Ron Dermer] called the move a “major diplomatic victory” for the Jewish state, representing the “first time the position has moved against [the Palestinians] through non-military means.” … “I have absolutely no doubt that this decision now over time will actually advance peace,” the Israeli envoy said Monday night in the [Hotel du Pont’s] Gold Ballroom… The high-profile diplomat received a standing ovation after speaking for roughly an hour to an audience of nearly 200 donors from the Jewish Federation of Delaware. They were joined by former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons.” [NewsJournal]

HEARD YESTERDAY — French President Emanuel Macron recalls his phone call with President Trump ahead of Jerusalem move on CBS News:  “I told him, I thought it was a mistake, and that such a unilateral decision is not compliant with our international discussions and our international rules and will not facilitate a peace process… He told me the rationale of his decision. I told him that for me, it’s not the right announcement, but at the end of the day, you decide for your own. And he decided for the U.S… My first concern is to preserve peace and calm in the whole region. Second, I think we have to discuss with all the parties and try to find a way out. But obviously, the reaction of the Palestinians will not be very positive. They are not in a good mood to progress towards any peace process.” [CBSNews]

“EU Officials Urge U.S. to Not Go It Alone on Mideast Peace Efforts” by Laurence Norman: “[EU foreign- policy chief Federica] Mogherini, who spoke last week about U.S. peace plans with Mr. Kushner, said Europe could help craft “an international and regional framework” for credible negotiations to resume.” [WSJ]

“Whirlwind Putin Tour Highlights Moscow’s New Reach in Mideast” by Neil MacFarquhar and Anne Barnard: “Mr. Putin touched down in rapid succession in Syria and Egypt, where he met briefly with their leaders, and landed in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, later in the day. His excursion came as anger at the United States was running high over President Trump’s unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem… as the capital of Israel.”[NYTimes]

— “Trump to Let Assad Stay until 2021, as Putin Declares Victory in Syria” by Robin Wright: “Given the political and military realities, U.S. officials have now concluded that any transition of power would depend on a credible election conducted by the United Nations… The prospect of holding a free and fair election in Syria—one that also includes the millions of refugees scattered in dozens of countries—will be an unprecedented challenge, diplomats told me. It will also take time for a new and more credible Syrian opposition to emerge. The Trump Administration says it still wants a political process that holds the prospect of Assad’s departure. But it has concluded that it may take until 2021, when the next election is scheduled, to pull it off. Depending on the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election, Assad could still be in power after Trump leaves office.” [NewYorker]

“At rally, Hezbollah chief vows to return focus to Israel” by Bassem Mroue: “Chanting “Oh America, you are the Great Satan,” while pumping their fists in the air, men, women and children marched through streets of Hezbollah’s southern Beirut stronghold… At the rally… Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he hoped the “foolish decision” would mark the “beginning of the end” of the Jewish state… Nasrallah called on Palestinian armed groups… to come up with “unified strategy” to confront Trump’s decision.” [AP]

“Warning to Congress: Bad Iran Legislation Is Worse Than No Iran Legislation” by Richard Goldberg: “Despite warnings from former Obama administration officials that a presidential decertification would be ignored by U.S. allies and leave Washington isolated, the evidence is clear that decertification created a chilling effect on European re-investment and shook Iran’s economy… Now, almost two months after the president’s decertification, it’s increasingly clear we are headed for a legislative train wreck. Supporters of the nuclear deal are locking down Senate Democrats, ensuring there could never be enough votes to break a filibuster on meaningful legislation that actually “fixed” the agreement.” [FP]

ALABAMA SPECIAL ELECTION — “Kayla Moore: ‘One of our attorneys is a Jew’” by Eric Bradner: “Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews. And I tell you all this because I’ve seen it and I just want to set the record straight while they’re here,” she said. “One of our attorneys is a Jew. We have very close friends that are Jewish, and rabbis, and we also fellowship with them.” Her comments came a week after Roy Moore attacked George Soros… saying Soros “is going to the same place that people who don’t recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going. And that’s not a good place.” [CNNVideo

“Secret super PAC backing Jones in Alabama exposed” by Gabriel Debenedetti: “The groups have collected checks from a gamut of top Democratic donors, led by longtime party contributors like George Soros, Jim Simons, Haim Saban and Fred Eychaner. While both Jones and Moore have gotten support from other outside groups in recent weeks, Highway 31 is by far the biggest-spending.” [Politico

** Good Tuesday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Behind Hedge Fund Billionaire Steve Cohen’s Fintech Investments [TheInformation• Max Levchin’s Affirm raises $200 million at a nearly $2 billion valuation [TechCrunch• Qualcomm Merger Calculus Complicated by Activist Investor [NYTimes]

ICYMI: “A Quixotic Quest for Givers” by Jeffrey Lewis: “At the age of 73, Elie Horn has a lot to be proud of. A devout Jew born in Aleppo, Syria, he migrated to Brazil as a boy and turned a small São Paulo real-estate company into an empire, building sleek skyscrapers and amassing a fortune that at one point reached some $2 billion. In recent years, as he has begun to give away most of his money to charity, his ambitions have taken a different turn: He wants to get other rich Brazilians to pledge to follow suit. It has proved to be a difficult task. So far, he has no takers. Mr. Horn and his wife, Susy, are the only members of Latin America’s ultrarich to sign the Giving Pledge.” [WSJ]

“North Korea’s prisons are as bad as Nazi camps, says judge who survived Auschwitz” by Anna Fifield: “North Korea’s political prisons are just as bad as – and perhaps even worse than – the Nazi concentration camps of the Holocaust, a renowned judge and Auschwitz survivor has concluded after hearing from former North Korean prisoners and guards… “I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps and in my long professional career in the human rights field,” said [Thomas] Buergenthal, who was in Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen as a child, as well as the ghetto of Kielce, Poland.”  [WashPost]

CAMPUS BEAT: “Rutgers Prof Accused Of Anti-Semitism Teaching Graduate Course” by Carly Baldwin: “A Rutgers professor under review for multiple Facebook posts he made criticizing Jews and Judaism will finish out the semester teaching one remaining graduate-level course, but he still faces a slew of disciplinary actions, including being suspended without pay… Rutgers said it has finished its review and that [Michael] Chikindas has been removed from teaching any new classes next semester… But Chikandas’ fate is still pending a full disciplinary review. That review is required by the bargaining agreement with Rutgers’ faculty union, as Chikandas is a tenured professor and part of the union. Pending the outcome of that hearing, he could be suspended for a semester without pay.” [Patch Rutgers Hillel welcomes university’s action following professor’s anti-Semitic remarks[MyCentralJersey]

Menorah lightings planned around the world for Hanukkah: “If you’re traveling or vacationing during the holiday, there may be a menorah lighting near you. The Jewish outreach organization Chabad-Lubavitch plans Hanukkah events in hundreds of cities, from the 50 U.S. states to 100 countries…. The world’s largest menorah, standing 36 feet high (11 meters), will be lit just outside Central Park in New York City across from the Plaza Hotel at Grand Army Plaza.” [AP]

TODAY AT 3:30 PM ET: National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn will deliver keynote remarks at the National Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremony, hosted by Rabbi Levi Shemtov and held on the Ellipse, south of the White House in Washington, D.C. Livestream via [CSPAN]

SCENE LAST NIGHT #2 in NYC: The UJA-Federation of New York honored Cantor Fitzgerald’s Howard Lutnick and Tiger Global Management’s Lee Fixel at their annual Wall Street Dinner. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin delivered the keynote address before approximately 2,000 attendees at the New York Hilton in Midtown. Special shoutout and happy anniversary to JI readers Jill and Bob Smith who first met at the UJA Wall Street Dinner 38 years ago.

SPOTTED: Eric Goldstein, Daniel Och, Samantha Greenberg, Robert Kapito, John Paulson, Morris Offit, James Tisch, Larry Robbins, Andrew Rechtschaffen, Jerry Levin, Greg Zuckerman, Zara Klaff, Sophie Lasry Swieca, Alex Swieca, Jill Smith, Bob Smith, Gidi Grinstein.

DESSERT: “I’m Not Jewish — What Should I Bring to a Hanukkah Party?” by Marianne Garvey: “What happens when you invite an Irish lapsed-Catholic to Hanukkah? They get drunk on kosher wine and try to blow out the menorah. Just me? Doesn’t matter, I’m invited back this year. As a matter of fact, my good friend Jonathan Dobbin (an ad exec pal from New York who schools me on all things Jewish) invites me to his family’s Hanukkah dinner every year, and reminds me of the following…” [Bravo] • The Surprising Origins of 5 Hanukkah Traditions [TimeMag]

“Art Basel Miami Beach: Is the Basel Bubble Bursting?” by Leigh Nordstrom: “Art Basel Miami Beach launched in 2002, yet it has only in recent years become the fashion crowd destination juggernaut that it is today. This year’s parties drew Cardi B, Drake, Diplo, Paris Hilton, Ricky Martin and more for blowout events, though one of the week’s signatures, Aby Rosen’s dinner and after party, was notedly absent from the itinerary. It all seems to beg the question: is the Basel bubble about to burst?” [WWD]

BIRTHDAYS: Acclaimed Russian composer of classical music, he has also composed film scores, Yiddish and Klezmer music, Vladimir Shainsky turns 92… Actress and neuroscientist who plays the role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Chaya Bialik turns 42… Baltimore-born world traveler and reporter-producer for ABC News, Becky Perlow turns 30… Associated Press science writer and adjunct professor at NYU’s academic center in Washington, Seth Borenstein… Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Jeffrey Goldstein… Communications Director in the office of Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL6), David Pasch… Israeli-born real estate developer active in Los Angeles, partner in Linear City Development, Yuval Bar-Zemer… Senior media strategist at Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications, formerly deputy press secretary for the US Commerce Department, Sarah Horowitz… Sefaria’s Tali Herenstein

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: Spotted at Trump’s Hanukkah party; Congressional Dems were not | Ori Allon raises $450M from SoftBank | Trump vs. his hometown on taxes


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WHITE HOUSE SCENE — by Jacob Kornbluh: President Donald Trump hosted his first White House Hanukkah party last night. Speaking before some 300 guests, Trump remarked gleefully, “I know for a fact there are a lot of happy people in this room — Jerusalem!” The President also spoke about the contribution American Jews have made to society. “On behalf of all Americans, I also want to say how grateful I am for Jewish congregations throughout our country. You cherish your families, support your communities, and uplift our beloved country,” he said.

Trump was joined on stage by First Lady Melania Trump, Holocaust survivor Louise Lawrence-Israels, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, along with his grandchildren. Before the President arrived in the room, two songs were sung by the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy Lower School Girls Choir from Rockville. The menorah lighting was overseen by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, who first recited the blessing that is said in the presence of a head of state, and then assisted Trump’s grandchildren Arabella and Joseph in lighting the first candle.

As always, the food was under the strict rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the meat was “Glatt Kosher,” the bread was “Pas Yisroel” and the wine was “Mevushel.” Unlike prior years, the line outside the White House was relatively small, the event was not livestreamed by the White House — although some participants streamed it on Facebook Live — and the President appeared not to stand by the menorah while it was being lit. Even though the event was later broadcast on C-SPAN, one aspect that didn’t change were the amount of smartphones in the air snapping videos of the President on stage. Ironically, the Twitter-verse pointed out that the gathering took place five days before the start of Hanukkah, ahead of Trump’s extended visit to Mar-a-Lago. In 2011, Trump criticized then-President Barack Obama for hosting the Hanukkah celebration early. “Why was the Hanukah celebration held in the White House two weeks early? @BarackObama wants to vacation in Hawaii in late December. Sad,” Trump tweeted.

From WH pooler George Condon: “The White House Hanukkah party tonight was very much a celebration of the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to take the first steps toward construction of the U.S. Embassy in the Eternal City. It was mentioned several times both by the President and by the rabbi who spoke, each time igniting bursts of enthusiastic, often prolonged, applause and the occasional whoop and shout.”

PICS FROM JI READERS: Sheldon Adelson posing with guests [PicPic• Miriam Adelson filming the event [Pic] • Dessert buffet [Pic] • White House Chief of Staff John Kelly [Pic] • The United States Marine Band [Pic• Vice President Mike Pence [Pic]

SPOTTED: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Members of Congress Lee Zeldin and David Kustoff, Israeli Ambassador Ron and Rhoda Dermer, Jason Greenblatt, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Charles & Seryl Kushner, Aryeh Bourkoff, Yitz Applbaum, Abbe Lowell, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, VA Secretary David Shulkin, Gary Cohn, Michael Cohen, Reed & Maggie Cordish, Avi Berkowitz, Julia Hahn, Eli Miller, Jeremy Katz, Paul Teller, Josh Raffel, Norm Coleman, Matt Brooks, Josh Mandel, Mort Klein, Ari & Marissa Schaffer, Tom Rose, Rabbi Shmuley & Debbie Boteach, Jeff Ballabon, Ken Weinstein and Amy Kauffman, Roger and Susan Hertog, Richard and Phyllis Heidemann, Adam Kennedy, Gabriel Berger, Adam and Ellen Behrens, Sarah and Buddy Stern, Doron Gorshein, Joseph Stamm, Ezra Friedlander, Leon Goldenberg, Abba Cohen, Chaim David Zwiebel, Duvi Honig, Richard Bernstein, Yarden Golan, Charles Bedzow, David Obrand, Jeff Miller, Lena Epstein, Daniel Schwab, Joel Eisdorfer, Nathan Diament, Michael David Epstein, David Milstein, Yasmin Lukatch, Elliott & Robin Broidy, Lee Samson, Joe Hagin, Boris Epshteyn, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Rabbi Meyer May, Richard Sandler, George Klein, Larry Mizel, Drew & Careena Parker, Ed & Elissa Czuker.

HOW IT PLAYED: “Congressional Democrats Left Out of White House Hanukkah Party” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Katie Rogers: “The latkes were fried and the kosher lamb chops were prepared on Thursday, just as in past years, for the first White House Hanukkah party of the Trump era. But there was one prominent break with tradition: President Trump did not invite Democratic lawmakers…. “It’s deeply unfortunate that the White House Hanukkah Party — a bipartisan event bringing together Jewish and non-Jewish leaders alike to celebrate the Festival of Lights since 2001 — has turned into a partisan affair under this administration,” Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York said in a statement.”

“I am not aware of the political affiliation of any of the guests, but I do know that this year was meant to be more personal than political,” said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump, the first lady, whose office oversees White House party planning. She declined to elaborate… But for some invitees, the message was clear. “He did not invite people who have been hostile to him,” Mort Klein said in an interview.” [NYTimes] • Trump to Jewish Democrats: No Hanukkah party for you [McClatchy]

SPOTTED at the Republican Jewish Coalition/America First Action Hanukkah after party held at the Trump International Hotel: Reps. Lee Zeldin, David Kustoff, Ed Royce, Don Bacon, Raul Labrador, Claudia Tenney, Brian Mast, Mike Gallagher, Scott Taylor, and Joe Wilson; Matt Brooks, Norm Coleman, Josh Mandel, Elliott Broidy, Jeff Gunter, Larry Mizel, Norm Brownstein, Yitz Applbaum, Richard and Phyllis Heideman, Sheriff David Clarke, Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, Katrina Pierson, Michael Epstein, Mendy Carlebach, and Moshe Friedman.

INTERVIEW with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer — by JI’s Aaron Magid: After President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer encouraged the White House to now consider Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is an “issue that we’ve raised many times. We think all governments should recognize our sovereignty there,” Dermer explained in an interview with Jewish Insider. “Maybe we’ll have another historic day during the Trump Presidency. We’ll see,” he added. “Meanwhile, we should all appreciate what happened Wednesday.” [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Trump dangles Middle East peace plan to limit Jerusalem outcry” by Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland: “In his call to Abbas on Tuesday, Trump sought to temper the blow from his Jerusalem announcement by stressing that the Palestinians stood to gain from the peace plan that Kushner and… Jason Greenblatt were crafting, according to two U.S. and two Palestinian officials… Trump told Abbas… that the final peace blueprint would offer the Palestinians an important settlement that they would be pleased with, but did not provide specifics… Another argument that Trump’s aides will likely make to Palestinians is that having granted Israel recognition of its claim to Jerusalem, the U.S. leader might now have more leverage for seeking concessions later on from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”[Reuters]

— “I don’t want to minimize the hurt the Palestinians feel,” said David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy… “Right now their anger is such that they probably can’t hear this… But if he presents a plan in the first quarter, are you not going to want to hear what it is? The Palestinians still think Trump’s enough of a bulldozer that if he gave something to the Israelis on a Wednesday, he’s capable of giving something to the Palestinians on a Thursday.” [NYTimes]

REALITY ON GROUND: “A day later, no ‘Jerusalem, Israel,’ on US government maps” by Matthew Lee: “The State Department… told The Associated Press it doesn’t plan to change several longstanding policies regarding Jerusalem… Some pro-Israel groups had hoped Trump’s decision would herald a change in a long-standing U.S. policy that bars American citizens born in Jerusalem from recording “Israel” as their place of birth. The State Department said Thursday it wouldn’t revise the policy… The State Department says officials are looking at ways to identify Jerusalem as the capital, such as commonly used bold or underlined lettering or a star notation, on official maps but that they won’t be redrawn.” [AP]

“Israeli minister sees Trump ‘hint’ at Jerusalem partition with Palestinians” by Dan Williams: “He even hinted that borders in Jerusalem will also be set as a result of negotiations, which presupposes an option of partition,” said Elkin, who holds the Jerusalem Affairs portfolio in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government… Elkin said he “would have been happy” had Trump described Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital. But he played down any possibility of partition… “This is a very, very important factor, and I currently have no doubt that Israel would not agree. Ultimately, in actuality, this is what matters.”

“Netanyahu Visits EU With New Wind in His Sails” by Laurence Norman: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes his first-ever official visit to the European Union’s capital on Monday. He brings the air of someone holding the upper hand, but translating that into diplomatic progress will be a challenge. Europe, by contrast, remains beset with international and internal problems. Israeli officials hope this context will help them improve ties and move conversations beyond the stalled peace process onto Israel’s top concerns: curtailing Iran’s regional influence and advancing bilateral projects.” [WSJ]

HEARD TODAY — Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at the URJ Biennial convention in Boston: “My very first trip abroad as a senator was to Israel and the West Bank. I walked around Jerusalem, I saw firsthand how powerfully important that Holy City is to the Jewish people — and to Christians and to Muslims. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and diplomacy between Israelis and Palestinians should determine the final status of Jerusalem for all parties. I believe that a two state solution remains the best path to peace for all who live in the Holy Land.” [Livestream]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Debt King Drahi Built a Cable Empire on Credit. Now What? [Bloomberg] • Gold trader says he made ‘maybe $150 million’ from plot to beat Iran sanctions [CNN• Ori Allon’s Compass gets $450M from SoftBank; real estate portal now valued at $2.2B [TechCrunchFastCompany]

SPOTLIGHT: “Inside Elliott Management: How Paul Singer’s Hedge Fund Always Wins” by Jen Wieczner: “Elliott Management was founded in 1977 by Paul Elliott Singer, a lawyer by training who found he could use the court system to great gain as an investor in bankruptcy situations and arbitrage. Conservative in almost every sense of the word, the billionaire Singer, now 73, insists on hedging all his investments to reduce the risk of loss, and prizes “manual efforts”—in other words, old-fashioned elbow grease—as the defining characteristic of his investment style.” [Fortune]

“On Tax Bill, It’s Trump vs. His Hometown” by Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Haberman and Kate Kelly: “When President Trump returned to his hometown on Saturday for a day of fund-raisers, his third and final check-collecting stop was the Park Avenue home of Stephen A. Schwarzman, where the crowd included some of Mr. Trump’s old New York friends and real estate colleagues. Some in the group, including Mr. Schwarzman, a founder of the private equity Blackstone Group, have been among those pushing the Trump administration to change the Republican tax package that is making its way through Congress… Richard LeFrak, a developer and longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s who has been among those lobbying, asked about what changes the president wanted to see. “LeFrak always has a question,” Mr. Trump mocked.”

“Some of the largest hedge-fund managers who operate in New York are also concerned about an element of the proposed legislation that prevents executives in certain financial-services companies from partaking of the new, lower pass-through rate — even if they are structured as partnerships. Their argument: that their treatment under that bill would drive the taxes for New York-based financial-service partnerships to 50 percent or more, driving business out of New York and into lower-tax states. This week, Kenneth C. Griffin, a major political donor and the founder of the hedge-fund company Citadel, which has its headquarters in Chicago but employs hundreds of people in New York, went to Washington to press that case, according to three people with knowledge of the travels. In discussions with lawmakers, Paul Singer, the founder of the hedge fund Elliott Management and one of the Republican Party’s most generous donors, made similar concerns known.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: Foundation awards $1M for Jewish center security, upgrades: “The Lilly Endowment has awarded $1 million to the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis to boost security at its campus and make other improvements. The money will be used for security improvements, upgrading computers and furthering two initiatives aimed at boosting the local community’s engagement with the federation’s campus on Indianapolis’ north side. The Federation and its five agencies provide programs and services to about 2,000 people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, every day.” [AP]

“3 Weddings, 4 Dozen Rabbis and 1,400 Cupcakes” by Marianne Rohrlich: “There was no cocktail hour, no chicken dinner, no teary-eyed mothers and fathers, and no beaming grandparents. But this was a grand Jewish wedding celebration, which took nine months to plan, in one of the largest synagogues in the United States. Three couples, each denied Jewish wedding ceremonies in Israel for various reasons, were married on Dec. 3 in a ceremony at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan… In order to produce the wedding, [Gady] Levy said with a smile, “I became a part-time wedding planner.” The event he arranged was a stunner: Three couples were married in a traditional ceremony with klezmer music, violins, flowers, white wedding dresses and cupcakes. It was an event he called “Three Weddings and a Statement.” … There were more than 1,300 guests, six rabbis leading the ceremony and about 40 more who stood with them to bless the newlyweds at the closing of the Sunday wedding ceremony.” [NYTimes]

REMEMBERING: “Naomi Lauter, AIPAC legend and all-star mom, dies at 87” by Dan Pine: “Lauter served AIPAC for more than half a century, starting as the organization’s chief volunteer recruiter in the 1950s, going on to open AIPAC’s Bay Area office in 1983 and serving as regional director (its first), and, approaching her 70s, becoming a consultant in the late 1990s… “She had this very sweet, angelic face,” said Amy Friedkin, a former AIPAC president and board chair who came up through the organization under Lauter’s guidance. “She looked like your favorite bubbe, but she was tough. We use the term ‘mentor’ a lot, but it was really true in her case. She really taught us so much.”” [JWeekly]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Tzora Vineyards Judean Hills 2015 — by Yitz Applbaum: I rarely order wine by the glass when dining out as I find that restaurants do not partition their best bottles. Just the other night I was sitting with a senior leader from Daimler in one of Israel’s great fish restaurants. This was the last stop before flying back home, and I only had time for one glass. So, I went for it.

The wine, from Tzora Vineyards greatly surpassed my expectations. Like the conversation, it was deep and fulfilling. The Judean Hills 2015 is a perfect blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Merlot. I experienced some new sensations with this wine. Unexpectedly, the finish was not in the throat, but rather on my mid-palate.  It was long, luscious and persistent. The texture of the wine was viscous like honey, and yet there was no cloying sweetness, just overtones of luxurious black currants. This wine was aged for 12 months in new French oak.  It is extremely drinkable now, and should be drinkable for the next seven years. Drink this wine with almost any meat you can find, and adding mushrooms to your meat will make the wine shine particularly bright. [TzoraVineyards]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYFounder and CEO of Top Rank, a boxing promotion company based in Las Vegas, Bob Arum turns 86… Israeli chess grandmaster, Tatiana Zatulovskaya turns 82… Film, stage and television actor, and son of concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein, John Rubinstein turns 71… Israeli folk singer, lyricist, composer and musical arranger, Chava Alberstein turns 70… Astrophysicist and senior scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Margaret Geller turns 70… Film director, producer and screenwriter, including box office successes such as “The Parent Trap” (1998) and “What Women Want” (2000), Nancy Meyers turns 68… Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, Robert Sternberg turns 68… Doug Bohannon turns 66… Senior executive producer of special events at ABC News, Marc Burstein turns 64… Controversial political science professor who has harshly criticized Israel and has been the subject of a highly publicized academic feud with Alan Dershowitz, Norman Finkelstein turns 64… Chairman of a nationwide insurance brokerage, Bruce P. Gendelman turns 63… Author of Toward a Meaningful Life, publisher of The Algemeiner, Rabbi Simon Jacobson turns 61… Rabbi, speaker and musician known as Rav Shmuel, he was the the head of the Yeshiva program run by the IDT Corporation in Newark, New Jersey, Shmuel Skaist turns 53… Co-founder of three successful companies, including Office Tiger in 1999, CloudBlue in 2001, and Xometry in 2013, where he is CEO, he ran for Congress from NY-1 in 2010 and 2012, Randy Altschuler turns 47… Author, she has been an editor at Huffington Post and the Daily Beast, Rachel Sklar turns 45… Founder in 2005 and editor-in-chief of the ThinkProgress political news blog based at the Center for American Progress, Judd Legum turns 39… Writer, photographer and designer, founder of the Honey Sharp Gallery and Ganesh Café in the Berkshires, mother of our friend Daniel Lippman of Politico’s Playbook, Honey Sharp… Venture capitalist at GE Ventures in Israel after three years at New Enterprise Associates based in Washington, Alex Oppenheimer… Associate Attorney at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Ali Krimmer 

SATURDAYLeading box office star of the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in over 90 movies during his 60 year acting career, Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch) turns 101… Los Angeles investor and entrepreneur, she is the founder of CaregiversDirect and Beverly Hills Egg Donation, and a past president of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Lisa Greer turns 59… Former senior White House aide and Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Clinton and Obama administrations, now a senior counselor at the Brunswick Group, Neal S. Wolin turns 56… President of the Little Rock-based Advance Arkansas Institute, a free market think tank, he was previously a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives (2006-2011), Daniel “Dan” Greenberg turns 52… Member of the Knesset for Likud (2003-2014) with stints as Minister of the Interior and Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar (born Gideon Zarechansky) turns 51… Junior United States Senator from New York since 2009, Kirsten Gillibrand turns 51… Senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, previously she was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs (2009-2012), Tamara Cofman Wittes turns 48… Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg turns 43… Actor, comedian and musician, best known for his role as Howard Wolowitz in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory (2007-present), Simon Helberg turns 37… Manager of digital media for the R Street Institute, co-founder of Network Red and Executive Director for CityGOP, Shoshana Weissmann turns 25…

SUNDAYProgressive political activist, headed the AmeriCorps VISTA program during the Carter administartion, Margery Tabankin turns 69… Israeli filmmaker and political activist, son of Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni, Udi Aloni turns 58… Actress, born in Montreal to a Sephardic Jewish family, known for her roles in HBO’s “Entourage” and CBS’s “The Mentalist,” Emmanuelle Chriqui turns 40… Owner of Judaica House in Teaneck, New Jersey, Reuben Nayowitz turns 71… Kaylene Hartford… Dan Goldstern

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Lawmakers on Abbas’ cancellation of Pence meeting

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – After President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed the White House on Sunday that it would be canceling…

Official White House Photo by D.E. Hansen

Kafe Knesset for December 6

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jerusalem is holding its breath: Excitement is building ahead of the Presidential address on Jerusalem this evening, but the Israeli PM is waiting to see what exactly will…

U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv - photo by Jacob Kornbluh

Kafe Knesset for December 4

Monday, December 4, 2017

Embassy watch: While the PMO is still keeping its distance from the explosive Jerusalem Embassy move or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, some of Bibi’s senior ministers…


Kafe Knesset for November 30

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The embassy, again? Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem made it back into the headlines last night. Israel’s Channel 2 reported that officials in Jerusalem…


Kafe Knesset for November 28

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shaming and acceptance: The tension between the Israeli government and segments of US Jewry continues to make headlines, and yesterday Channel 2 sent out a push notification with out…


Kafe Knesset for November 21

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Knesset marked the 40th anniversary today of the historic 1977 speech by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.  The event was, of course, filled with messages of peace,…