Daily Kickoff: Jerusalem heads to polls in pivotal mayoral runoff today | How Paul Singer woke up Israeli investors | New Forbes Under 30 List

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DRIVING THE DAY — Jerusalemites are heading to the polls today to elect their mayor for the next five years. The two candidates in the runoff election, Ofer Berkovitch and Moshe Leon, are locked in a tight race to replace outgoing mayor Nir Barkat after the Agudath Israel faction decided not to endorse any candidate due to internal politics. Leon — initially regarded as the frontrunner — has the backing of much of the ultra-Orthodox (Shas and Degel HaTorah factions) and right-wing parties in the city. Berkovitch, 35, who represents the secularist flank of the city, hopes the divisions among the ultra-Orthodox vote will leave him with an open path to win.

This was not an issues-based campaign, rather a lot of political maneuvering and handshaking between the candidates, according to Amy Spiro, a writer for the Jerusalem Post. Leon, who is religious, emerged as the victor in the first round, beating the Haredi candidate Yossi Deitch. Leon, 57, is now viewed as the ‘Haredi’ candidate running against a secular opponent. Leon was also endorsed by Barkat, who won his reelection bid against Leon in 2013 due to a split within the ultra-Orthodox community.

WHY IT MATTERS — “The result is less important than the extraordinary dynamics in the Haredi community leading up to it,” Anshel Pfeffer, a writer for Haaretz and a resident of Jerusalem, tells Jewish Insider. “For the last 25 years, the different factions in the ultra-Orthodox world, despite their disagreements, could usually be relied upon to get together at the crucial moment before elections. What we’re seeing in the last few weeks is an unprecedented breakdown both in the Haredi leadership and the grassroots. It’s not just the split between Hasidim and Lithuanians, it’s a generational divide, between those who automatically carry out the instructions of the rabbis and a younger generation who are more prepared to vote on their own views and inclinations.”

Pfeffer added, “On the streets of Jerusalem’s Haredi neighborhoods, you can meet today young people who openly admit that they are voting what they want. That’s new and it will have long-term implications for Israeli politics and for the Haredi-Likud alliance that existed for the last two decades.”

According to Jeremy Saltan, a Bayit Yehudi insider, the fact that Leon has the overwhelming support from the coalition government — which enjoys a majority in the country nationally ― will give him the edge in this race. “Berkovitch is a welcome name in the opposition, but unwelcome in the majority of the coalition government,” Saltan told Jewish Insider.

Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, tells us: “What’s at stake is the ability of people like my children to imagine a future for themselves in Jerusalem. This is one of those moments that requires an angry prophet to rise up in Jerusalem and point the finger at the political manipulators who are playing politics with the jewel in our crown, Jerusalem. I think this is a crucial election and the two candidates could not be more clear about the kind of Jerusalem that each represents, and I’m deeply worried for the future of my city if it falls into the wrong hands. Leon will be a tool for the far right and the ultra-Orthodox, who together will squeeze the vitality out of Jerusalem. Berkovitch represents those who want to see Jerusalem remain pluralistic, open to the world, the capital of all Israelis who live there.”

ON THE GROUND — Cost of Botched Gaza Spy Mission? Israel’s Back on Brink of War — by David Halbfinger: “After a botched intelligence mission by undercover commandos left seven Palestinian fighters dead, the militant group Hamas and other armed factions mounted an intense and escalating rocket and mortar barrage across much of southern Israel that continued into Tuesday morning… More than 400 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel, and the Israeli military said it had struck more than 100 military targets in Gaza… Each side repeatedly warned the other to back down, but refused to do so itself… Israel’s security cabinet was meeting on Tuesday, and officials said the government was spurning, for the moment, offers by Egypt and the United Nations to try to broker a cease-fire.” [NYTimesTheGuardian]

— “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to strike a careful balance between preventing what would be the fourth war with Gaza since 2007 while also facing increased pressure from others in his cabinet to deal a decisive blow to Gaza ruler Hamas.” [WSJ]

LATEST UPDATE: The Israeli security cabinet concluded its meeting on the Gaza situation at the army’s headquarters in Tel Aviv after seven hours of marathon discussions. A senior Israeli diplomatic official appeared to confirm that a ceasefire agreement had been reached with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

TALK OF THE REGION — Recording Is Seen to Link Saudi Crown Prince More Strongly to Khashoggi Killing — by Julian Barnes, Eric Schmitt and David Kirkpatrick: “Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated last month, a member of the kill team instructed a superior over the phone to “tell your boss,” believed to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, that the operatives had carried out their mission, according to three people familiar with a recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing collected by Turkish intelligence. The recording, shared last month with the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.”

“Investigators were unlikely to collect a piece of evidence that incontrovertibly links the crown prince to the killing, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who is set to lead the House Intelligence Committee next year. “You are not going to have any of the people who carried out the murder speak openly about who they got their orders from or who is in the loop on it,” Mr. Schiff said in an interview. “That is not realistic to expect.”[NYTimes]

— U.S. says audio recording of Khashoggi killing does not implicate Saudi crown prince — by Shibani Mahtani and Louisa Loveluck: “National security adviser John Bolton, speaking on the sidelines of a regional summit in Singapore, said that he had not listened to the tape himself, but that it was the assessment of “those who have listened to it” that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler is not implicated.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL — Bipartisan Sentencing Overhaul Moves Forward, but Rests on Trump — by Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman: “A bipartisan group of senators has reached a deal on the most substantial rewrite of the nation’s sentencing and prison laws in a generation, giving judges more latitude to sidestep mandatory minimum sentences and easing drug sentences… Lawmakers and outside advocates involved in the push expect Mr. Trump to render his judgment on the package as soon as this week. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and the leading voice within the White House for the changes, is likely to brief Mr. Trump on the bill during a broader discussion of legislative priorities with top policy officials on Tuesday.”[NYTimes]

Two ex-CIA officers are coming to Congress. Here’s how they want to improve security policy — by Cat Zakrzewski: “Former Central Intelligence Agency officers Abigail Spanberger and Elissa Slotkin won their House races last week and will be representing Virginia and Michigan respectively. They’re coming to Washington at a time when Congress is expected to address a wide range of cybersecurity issues… Very few lawmakers have experience in cybersecurity or even more broadly in the technology industry.”

“Spanberger was an operations officer for the CIA for eight years with a focus on international counterterrorism. Before joining the CIA, Spanberger worked as a federal law enforcement officer, working on narcotics and money laundering cases with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The CIA recruited Slotkin after Sept. 11, 2001, to be a Middle East analyst. Slotkin, who is fluent in Arabic, did three tours in Iraq. She later became the director of Iraq policy at the National Security Council and then moved to the State Department and the Pentagon, rising to acting assistant secretary of defense for international security.” [WashPost]

DONOR CIRCUIT — Money troubles: The GOP’s problem with cash — by Alex Isenstadt: “Among the lessons Republicans say they learned this year is that the party can no longer just rely on a few billionaire megadonors like Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson… While the 85-year-old Adelson remains a crucial source of funding, Republicans concede their advantage in billionaire giving has narrowed considerably… Some Republicans, however, see reason for optimism. In July, the Republican Jewish Coalition, an organization partly funded by Adelson, launched an ActBlue-like portal inviting supporters to give small donations to a list of endorsed candidates. The effort generated about $400,000 in contributions, an indication to its proponents that conservative small donors could be drawn to such a platform.” [Politico]

2020 WATCH — Sherrod Brown for president? He’s thinking about it — by Jessica Wehrman: “Sen. Sherrod Brown, who won a third term last week to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate, said Monday he is considering running for president in 2020. Brown… said he’s hearing “sort of a crescendo” of interest in him seeking the White House… “We’re hearing it increase, so we’re thinking about it as a result,” he said, adding, “we’re not close to saying yes.” David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron, said Brown considering a run “makes a whole lot of sense.” “If he were to secure the nomination, Ohio would absolutely be in play, which is pretty enormous considering the 18 electoral votes it brings along with it,” he said.” [ColumbusDispatch]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, mysteriously arrives in Washington — by Shannon K. Crawford and Luke Barr: “Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney and close associate, arrived in Washington, D.C., Monday morning, accompanied by one of his own criminal defense lawyers. The purpose of Cohen’s travel is unclear.” [ABCNews]

Harvey Weinstein’s Secret Weapon Is a ‘Bloodhound’ NYPD Detective Turned Private Eye — by Lachlan Cartwright and Pervaiz Shallwani: “Herman Weisberg is the man the rich and famous turn to when they need someone investigated, or to shut down blackmail plots and extortion threats. Current and former associates describe him as a “bloodhound” investigator with an expertise in finding and interrogating witnesses. That includes Weinstein’s defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, who credits Weisberg for a recent string of successes against prosecutors. “Whatever success I may have in the Weinstein case, Herman has played a substantial part in those accomplishments,” Brafman told The Daily Beast.” [DailyBeast]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Palantir Has a $20 Billion Valuation and a Bigger Problem: It Keeps Losing Money [WSJ] • Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital proposes office complex – likely HQ – in Miami Beach [TheRealDeal] • Bird e-scooters expands Israel operations to Ramat Gan [Globes]

STARTUP NATION — Competition to AmazonGo Is Coming From an Unlikely Source — by Yaacov Benmeleh: “Shufersal Ltd., Israel’s largest supermarket chain, is partnering with local startup Trigo Vision Ltd. to eliminate the need for cashiers in its 272 stores, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. Trigo’s platform uses a feed from ceiling cameras to identify items in a customer’s shopping cart, which are tallied to produce the bill. It’s surprising Israel would be among the first countries to say farewell to the supermarket checkout line, as its startups traditionally pay little attention to the domestic market.” [Bloomberg]

The Tycoons Ruled Over Israel. Then Came Billionaire Paul Singer — by Yaacov Benmeleh: “Two weeks into the year, Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. disclosed a large stake in Israel’s biggest telecommunications company and demanded an overhaul of the board. Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp. had been effectively controlled for years by Shaul Elovitch through holdings that allowed him to translate a small upfront investment into a tight grip on the company. Then within a few months, Singer replaced the Elovitch loyalists with independents… It was a lesson in activism for the country’s investors. For years, they had watched how a few tycoons influenced boardrooms through layers of debt-laden companies that gave them a disproportionate voice in strategic decisions… After Elliott’s campaign, more shareholders started to follow suit, taking on Israel’s largest grocery chain and its second-biggest oil refinery.” [Bloomberg]

MOVING ON — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Shops Around for a Cable News Gig — by Maxwell Tani: “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may finally get paid for a job he’s been doing for free for years: offering opinions on national politics. Emanuel… has attended meetings in New York with top executives at MSNBC and CNN in recent weeks, and discussed a potential future as a cable news pundit… In recent months, the outgoing Democratic mayor has been represented by agents with William Morris Endeavor, the talent agency and entertainment behemoth where his brother Ari Emanuel is the co-CEO.” [DailyBeast]

TRANSITION — Former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa joins Washington lobbying firm — by Theodoric Meyer: “Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who made an unsuccessful run for California governor earlier this year, is joining a Washington consulting firm… [as] co-chairman of Mercury, which lobbies for clients from Hyundai to the governments of Qatar and Turkey… Villaraigosa is Mercury’s highest-profile hire since the firm was caught up last year in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” [Politico]

REMEMBERING — Stan Lee, creator of superheroes, dies at 95 — by Alexander Remington and Michael Cavna: “Stan Lee, a writer and editor often credited with helping American comics grow up by redefining the notion of a superhero, including the self-doubting Spider-Man… died Nov. 12 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 95. Mr. Lee’s name became synonymous with the company that would become Marvel Comics, which he joined as a teenage assistant and stayed with for much of his adult life… Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York City on Dec. 28, 1922, the eldest son of Romanian Jewish immigrants. His father was a dress cutter who was frequently out of work. Mr. Lee came by his pen name as a teenager. He claimed he changed his name not because of anti-Semitism, like many comic book artists, but because he wanted to preserve his real name to write a real book.” [WashPost

RISING STAR — Broadway’s Next Evan Hansen? A 16-Year-Old High School Junior — by Gabe Cohn: “On Jan. 30, Andrew Barth Feldman will be taking over the role of Evan Hansen — a high school senior with social anxiety — in the Broadway musical, which won six Tony Awards in 2017, including the award for best musical and best performance by a leading actor in a musical for Ben Platt. The show currently stars Taylor Trensch. Mr. Feldman will be the first teenager to lead the Broadway cast. His audition for “Dear Evan Hansen” in July was his first for a Broadway show.” [NYTimes]

NEW FORBES 30 UNDER 30 LIST — Forbes released its 2019 list of rising young entrepreneurs in North America this morning. Included on this year’s list: Leah Cohen-Shohet, VP of Symphony, a 300-person, four-year-old startup offering secure messaging for Wall Street firms… Charlie Javice, founder of Frank, which aims to ease the application process for student loans… Aliza Rosen, Senior Product Manager at Twitter… Betches Media, women’s lifestyle and entertainment site co-founded by CEO Aleen Kuperman, COO Samantha Fishbein and CCO Jordana Abraham… Newsletter The Morning Brew, launched by CEO Alex Lieberman and COO Austin Rief… Jerusalem-based reporter Trey Yingst, Foreign Correspondent, Fox News… Addie Lerner, Principal at VC firm General Catalyst… Arielle Zuckerberg, Partner at Coatue Management… Abe Sutton, Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar…

DESSERT — How Impossible Foods makes its plant-based “blood” — by Adele Peters: “Inside an office at Impossible Foods’ Silicon Valley R&D center, a researcher holds up what looks like a bowl of blood and a spoon. “This is heme,” she says. It was made with a protein found in the roots of soybean plants, but it has the same slightly metallic taste and the aroma of blood. And it’s the innovation that has given the Impossible Burger its meteoric rise… The goal is to convert meat lovers, not feed vegetarians, in order to help shrink beef’s outsize environmental footprint. Impossible wants to give customers the same experience as they would have with meat.” [FastCompany]

BIRTHDAYS: Harold Waldenberg turns 98… Israeli industrialist with holdings in energy, real estate and automobile distributorships, Gad Zeevi turns 79… Philosopher and professor at CUNY since 2002, Saul Kripke turns 78… Chief Rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Shmuel Riccardo Di Segni turns 69… Long-time NPR political editor focused on Congressional races, now publisher of the independent “Political Junkie” blog and podcast, Kenneth Rudin turns 68… Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit since 1997, he was nominated by President Obama to the Supreme Court in 2016 but was never granted a confirmation hearing by the Senate, Judge Merrick Garland turns 66… Once the controlling stockholder of a large Israeli conglomerate, Nochi Dankner turns 64… San Jose, California resident, Katherine (Katya) Palkin turns 50… Somali-born activist who has served in the Dutch parliament and as a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, Ayaan Hirsi Ali turns 49… Retired Israeli government minister for the Shas party, Ariel Atias turns 48…

Founder of Pailet Financial Services, a predecessor agency of what is now the Dallas office of the Marsh & McLennan, Kevin Pailet turns 47… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Kulanu party, Meirav Ben-Ari turns 43… Host of NBC’s “Rossen Reports,” investigative journalist and author of a book on avoiding consumer scams, dangers and catastrophes, Jeff Rossen turns 42… President of baseball operations for MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, he previously served as the general manager for the Tampa Bay Rays, Andrew Friedmanturns 42… Israeli rapper and record producer, generally known by his stage name “Subliminal,” Yaakov (Kobi) Shimoni turns 39… Judoka who won three national titles (2000, 2002 and 2004), she competed for the US at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Charlee Minkin turns 37… PR and communications director in the office of Ronald S. Lauder, Mark Botnickturns 34… Relief pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Troy Neiman turns 28… Communications director at Christians United For Israel, Ari Morgenstern




Daily Kickoff: How WWI gave Jewish American soldiers a chance to show their worth

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VETERANS DAY — The Jewish Boxer Who Helped the Allies Turn the Tide of World War I — by Matthew Pearl: “Benjamin Kaufman, a tenacious boxer from Brooklyn, stuck by his men and never shied away from a fight. His grit helped America win in the Argonne. Born March 10, 1894, Kaufman spent his earliest years on a farm upstate before the family settled in Brooklyn. Between his foreign heritage (his parents came from Russia) and being Jewish—not to mention his eight older siblings—he had to learn to defend himself. “Unless you could fight in East New York in Brooklyn at that time, you just didn’t have a chance,” he later recalled.”

“Jews were a disproportionately large percentage of the U.S. military in the First World War, and the government even appointed a number of Jewish chaplains to serve the Armed Forces. Still, suspicion and distrust of minorities festered. Jewish communities in America were a relatively recent phenomenon and retained a foreign aura. The U.S. military, like most institutions, was rife with anti-Semitism, and a Jewish soldier had to carefully navigate it. The war provided an international stage to showcase their contributions.” [DailyBeast]

TOP TALKER — Saudis Close to Crown Prince Discussed Killing Other Enemies a Year Before Khashoggi’s Death — by Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman and David Kirkpatrick: “Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom… George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, arranged the meeting. He had met previously with Prince Mohammed, and had pitched the Iran plan to Trump White House officials. Another participant in the meetings was Joel Zamel, an Israeli with deep ties to his country’s intelligence and security agencies.” [NYTimes]

Jackson Diehl writes… “Why is Israel tossing a lifeline to Jamal Khashoggi’s killers? Netanyahu’s problem is that in betting so heavily on Mohammed and Trump, he took a large risk with two very unstable actors, each of whom has polarized their political systems. If Mohammed survives… he will be weakened and wary. He won’t be able to deliver the Palestinians for Trump’s peace plan… Trump, too, has been weakened by the Democrats’ capture of the House of Representatives — and so has Netanyahu.”

“While key Democratic leaders in the incoming House, including likely speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), are staunchly pro-Israel, many of their new rank and file will not be. And a lot of Republicans, as well as Democrats, will be repelled by Netanyahu’s appeals on Mohammed’s behalf.” [WashPost]

Once Censored, Billionaire Saudi Prince Returns to Spotlight — by Benoit Faucon and Summer Said: “Billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal has returned as the kingdom’s public face for global investors… Another sign of Prince al-Waleed’s return to the royal court’s graces is his fresh spree of deals with international investors… He also is in talks with Leonard Blavatnik, owner of Warner Music Group, and other executives to invest in his Riyadh-based entertainment company, Rotana Media Group.” [WSJ]

TRANSITION — A former head of the Mossad has joined controversial Israeli spy firm Black Cube — by Adam Pasick: “Efraim Halevy, the former head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, has joined the board of Black Cube… Black Cube may soon face a US congressional subpoena seeking information about its operations targeting Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, former Obama national security officials who helped to forge the Iran nuclear deal. Democrats on the House government oversight committee unsuccessfully requested the subpoena in July, when they were in the minority; they are set to retake control in January following last week’s US midterm elections.” [Quartz]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan will be published “soon” — by Barak Ravid: “White House Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a speech at a closed event in London earlier this week that the U.S. “will soon be ready to publish” President Trump’s long awaited [peace] plan.” [Axios]

Abbas threatens new measures against Hamas — by Khaled Abu Toameh: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas… speaking during a rally in Ramallah on Sunday marking the 14th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat… lashed out at the US and Israel… “There is an American conspiracy in the form of the deal of the century, and there is an Israeli conspiracy to implement the deal,” Abbas said… Abbas said that the PLO Central Council… has decided to make a series of “decisive decisions” in the coming days to determine the future of Palestinian relations with Hamas, Israel and the US.” [JPost]

ON THE GROUND — Covert Israeli military operation in Gaza exposed, igniting new tensions — by Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha: “A senior Israeli military officer and seven militants, including a Hamas commander, were killed overnight Sunday after a covert operation by Israel inside the Gaza Strip appeared to have been exposed, sparking an exchange of fire, airstrikes and later a barrage of rocket fire… The Israeli military remained tight-lipped over exact details of the incident late Sunday night. A statement from the army’s General Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot only said a special force had been engaged in a “very meaningful operation for Israel’s security.” … Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris over the weekend to return to Israel.” [WashPostNYTimes]

Netanyahu calls Paris conversation with Putin ‘very important’ — by Dan Williams: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin at World War One commemorations on Sunday, their first meeting since the downing of a Russian plane during an Israeli air raid in Syria in September. “The conversation with President Putin was good and businesslike. I would even describe it as very important,” Netanyahu told reporters after the ceremony in Paris, adding that he also spoke there with U.S. President Donald Trump.” [Reuters]

Raphael Ahren reports: “Some 70 world leaders attended the central memorial event Sunday on the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, but only Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not arrive at the venue with a bus like everyone else, but were ushered in separately. During the solemn event, Netanyahu and his wife Sara sat in the front row, next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and only a few meters away from Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.” [ToI

PIC OF THE DAY — Sara Netanyahu took a prominent place on the world stage in Paris yesterday when the spouses of the world leaders posed for a group photo in the Palace of Versailles. 

Wife of GOP megadonor to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom — by Quint Forgey: “Miriam Adelson will receive the medal along with six other “distinguished individuals” at a ceremony on Friday, the White House said… In its brief biography of Miriam Adelson, the White House described her as “a committed doctor, philanthropist, and humanitarian,” as well as “a committed member of the American Jewish community.” [Politico]

HOW IT PLAYED ― Miriam Adelson gave the GOP millions. Trump is giving her the Medal of Freedom — by Michael Brice-Saddler: “The release does not mention that the Adelsons also contributed at least $87 million to GOP candidates in the 2018 midterms… Adelson’s selection… raised some questions about her qualifications for the award and also whether the White House was rewarding a donor.” [WashPost] • Elvis, Babe Ruth, Miriam Adelson: Trump’s Very Trumpy Picks for the Medal of Freedom [VanityFair]

COMING SOON – Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the keynote address at the annual conference of the Israeli American Council on Friday, November 30th, in South Florida. The IAC is largely funded by Sheldon and Mirian Adelson.

HAPPENING TODAY — Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, will be honored for his 60 years of ministry at an event hosted by CUFI in Jerusalem. Ambassador David Friedman is expected to deliver remarks in honor of Hagee. “The State of Israel is fortunate to have you on our side,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to say in a video address, according to excerpts obtained by Jewish Insider.

ON THE HILL — “The House has a light floor schedule this week… Expect plenty of non-controversial items including “the posthumous award of a Congressional Gold Medal to Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl in recognition of his acts of valor during World War II.” [Axios]

MIDTERMS — Dana Rohrabacher Loses, Eroding Republican Foothold in California — by Adam Nagourney: “Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican fixture in California who represented Orange County for 15 terms, has lost his bid for re-election… [Harley] Rouda, 56, is a former Republican turned Democrat who became a symbol of the Democratic efforts to win back Congress this year. Mr. Rohrabacher, 71, was viewed as particularly vulnerable because he defended Russia in the midst of allegations about its efforts to intervene in elections in the United States.” [NYTimes]

— During the campaign, Rohrabacher came under fire for attending a fundraiser with an alleged Holocaust denier and endorsing an alt-right activist criticized for anti-Semitism. “It’s clear that Dana Rohrabacher has embraced anti-Semitism and individuals who support it,” Rouda charged in an interview with Jewish Insider last month.

DEEP DIVE — Inside Bill Browder’s War Against Putin — by Marie Brenner: “Browder’s eldest son, Joshua, was monitoring the Helsinki press conference from Palo Alto. The 21-year-old, who helps oversee his father’s digital operation, was taken aback when [Vladimir] Putin, with an expression of feline self-satisfaction, declared: “Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. . . . We have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions, so we have an interest in questioning them.” Joshua immediately texted his father: “Now you have truly made it.” He heard nothing back. Then Joshua felt gut-punched. He saw Trump nod at Putin and call the idea of both sides questioning the other’s suspects as “an incredible offer.” The younger Browder recalled being “shocked. I was really concerned. I was picturing Department of Homeland Security agents coming for him.” [VanityFair

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — A White House Challenge: Balancing the Roles of the First Lady and First Daughter — by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers: “As her role has evolved, Ivanka Trump has let family friends know in the clearest terms that she is in the White House to help her father by using her charm and contacts to cut through Washington’s bureaucracy, particularly with Congress… Like her father, Ms. Trump is acutely aware of her news coverage: A rotating cast of White House aides have often tried to get her credit in the news media for issues she has worked on. Her meetings are often summarized by the White House press office and emailed to reporters, a move that is not routinely extended to other senior advisers to Mr. Trump.”

“Ivanka Trump’s interest in politics had led her to forge alliances with moderate Republicans, including Senator Susan Collins of Maine, as well as with newly minted Trump confidants like Mr. Graham.” [NYTimes]

2020 WATCH — Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz assembles an elite PR team as he considers running for president — by Brian Schwartz: “Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf said he believes Schultz is putting together a group that could help in a variety of ways if he chooses to run for president. “He wants to show people he can put together a team quickly and the best presidential campaigns have people from multidisciplinary sectors, from the private sector to those in political work. It’s smart. The Clinton’s first campaign had film makers. So did Ronald Reagan,” Sheinkopf said.” [CNBC]

Deval Patrick’s Presidential Prospects — by Jeffrey Toobin: “Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is a businessman, but so are Michael Bloomberg, Howard Schultz, and Tom Steyer. Still, Patrick would enter the race with one significant distinction: he is a kind of political heir to Barack Obama, and enjoys broad support from people close to the former President… “Deval is a very genuine person, a very empathetic person,” David Axelrod, who has been a strategist for Patrick as well as for Obama, told me. “He is a guy who makes people feel comfortable. He’s very principled, you can see that—just like Obama.” [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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Dr. Karnit Flug to conclude term as Bank of Israel governor [JPost] • Elliott and Veritas team up to buy Athenahealth for $5.5bn [FinancialTimes] • Facebook has named Anne Kornblut to the new position of Director of News, New Initiatives [Axios] • Why Did Facebook Fire Palmer Luckey, a Top Executive? Hint: It Had Something to Do With Trump [WSJ] • 10 Israeli Startups Shaping The Cities Of Tomorrow [Forbes] • Israeli cyber firm NSO in talks to buy Fifth Dimension [Reuters]

TALK OF THE VALLEY — Tech C.E.O.s Are in Love With Their Principal Doomsayer — by Nellie Bowles: “The futurist philosopher Yuval Noah Harari worries about a lot. He worries that Silicon Valley is undermining democracy and ushering in a dystopian hellscape in which voting is obsolete. He worries that by creating powerful influence machines to control billions of minds, the big tech companies are destroying the idea of a sovereign individual with free will… But lately, Harari is anxious about something much more personal. If this is his harrowing warning, then why do Silicon Valley C.E.O.s love him so? “One possibility is that my message is not threatening to them, and so they embrace it?” a puzzled Mr. Harari said one afternoon in October. “For me, that’s more worrying. Maybe I’m missing something?”

“When Mr. Harari toured the Bay Area this fall to promote his latest book, the reception was incongruously joyful. Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, threw him a dinner party. The leaders of X, Alphabet’s secretive research division, invited Mr. Harari over… “I’m drawn to Yuval for his clarity of thought,” Jack Dorsey, the head of Twitter and Square, wrote in an email, going on to praise a particular chapter on meditation.” [NYTimes]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — YieldStreet wants to make exotic bets available to individual investors online — by Josh Saul and Claire Boston: “YieldStreet is selling alternative investments normally reserved for billionaires and hedge funds to individuals who are so-called accredited investors… It all began when [Milind] Mehere… joined forces with Dennis Shields and Michael Weisz to create a digital platform… Weisz worked from 2009 to 2013 as an analyst at a unit of Centurion Credit Management, a hedge fund that in 2011 became part of Platinum Partners… YieldStreet supports loosening the definition of accredited investor. “We believe firmly that the concept is outdated,” Weisz says… If YieldStreet gets its way, it will be poised to grow. It doesn’t lack ambition. “I think we only have one real competitor,” Weisz says, “and that would be Goldman Sachs.” [Bloomberg

STARTUP NATION — Desperate for Tech Talent, Israel Turns to an Untapped Labor Pool: Palestinians — by Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber: “Israel’s innovative technology sector—which inspired the nickname “Startup Nation”—faces a shortage of 10,000 software programmers and engineers, the government says, posing one of the biggest threats to economic growth outside of war with its neighbors. The reasons include competition from American companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon and Microsoft Corp. that are willing to pay high salaries for Israeli talent. Israel’s immigration laws also make it difficult to import skilled non-Jewish workers.” [WSJ]

HOLLYWOOD — Gerard Butler posts image of Malibu home burned in wildfire — by Danielle Garrand: “The Woolsey and Hill Fires have been blazing through Southern California, forcing some residents to flee their homes and hope there will be something left when they come back. Actor Gerard Butler returned to his Malibu residence Sunday and posted a devastating photo showing it in ruins.” [CBSNews]

— Amy Spiro tweets“Last month, visiting Israel, Gerard Butler said he hoped his house in Los Angeles would burn down so he’d have an excuse to stay in Israel. This week… Gerard Butler’s house in Los Angeles burned down.”

PROFILE — Ofer Berkovitch: The secular mayor candidate challenging Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox bloc for the soul of the holy city — by Raf Sanchez: “Ofer Berkovitch, a 35-year-old city councilor… is facing off in Tuesday’s election against Moshe Lion, a Right-wing politician who once worked for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. While Mr. Lion is only moderately religious, he has courted ultra-Orthodox leaders… Mr. Berkovitch, the underdog in the race, has accused his opponent of “backroom deals.” “We’re not against the ultra-Orthodox, we want to serve everyone. But we want to have services for everyone, not one community above the other,” he said… He goes into Tuesday’s final round of the election as the underdog. But not all the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have backed Mr. Lion and some have scorned him because of his links to Israel’s secular defence minister. Mr. Berkovitch is hoping those divisions among ultra-Orthodox voters will leave open up a path for him to reach the mayor’s office.” [Telegraph]

How Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra of Israeli and Arab musicians is faring in the current political climate — by Mark Swed: “Classical music is a very important element in a human being’s life,” stresses Daniel Barenboim, who is sitting in his office at the Staatsoper unter der Linden, Berlin State Opera, which he has headed since 1992… His West-Eastern Divan Orchestra formed in 1999 to train young Israeli and Arab musicians together. And right now he is moving WEDO across America… Barenboim… is just as adamant in his condemnation of violence on both sides as he is on Israel’s right for security. As for anti-Semitism: “It must be fought and as hard as possible; there is no excuse for it.” [LATimes]

Scott Shay writes… “What is unique about anti-Semitism? It is not the Jews’ success, nor their actual power that is the source of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has often proliferated at times when the Jews were poor and powerless. Jews who tried returning to their home towns in Europe after surviving the concentration camps could certainly attest to that. Rather, it is the Jews’ historic connection with monotheism that has made them the central target of this projected idolatry.” [PostGazette]

SCENE OVER THE WEEKEND — Met Council CEO David Greenfield and Rabbi Mendel Zarchi hosted a reception Friday night at the annual SOMOS conference, a confab of Hispanic officials in Puerto Rico at the Chabad Center in San Juan. Speakers included Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who spoke about the special relationship between New York and Israel. [Pic]

SPOTTED: NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Councilmembers Justin Brannan, Barry Grodenchik, Karen Koslowitz, Mark Levine, Ruben Diaz Sr., Daniel Dromm, Rafael Espinal, Robert Holden, Rory Lancman, Carlina Rivera, Ydanis Rodriguez, Helen Rosenthal and Alika Amprey Samuel; Assemblymembers Steve Cymbrowitz, Rodneyse Bichotte, Michael Blake, Nily Rozic, Alfred Taylor, Latrice Walker and David Weprin; State Senator Mike Gianaris, Rabbi Michael Miller, Jason Goldman, Lew Fidler, Phil Goldfeder, Dave Mertz, Joel Lefkowitz, Tuli Weiss, Jeff Leb, Ben Segal, Zack Fink, Yoav Gonen, and Jennifer Fermino.

AIPAC hosted an outreach event on the sidelines of the SOMOS conference on Saturday night. Speakers included Consul General Dayan and citizen activist Erin Schrode. [PicPic]  

SPOTTED: Rabbi Michael Miller, David Greenfield, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), NY Attorney General-elect Tish James, Andrew Gross, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Haley Broder, Phil Goldfeder, Councilman Mark Levine, and Jeff Leb.

REMEMBERING — Scholar Who Escaped Nazis Dies After a Push by a Subway Rider in a Rush — by Ashley Southall: “[Kurt] Salzinger, 89, and his wife were on their way to Macy’s Herald Square on Oct. 27, when a hurried straphanger rushed past them on a subway platform in Penn Station, the police said. The man shoved the couple out of his path with an arm that knocked them both to the ground… Dr. Salzinger… was hospitalized with bleeding of the brain from the fall, and later contracted pneumonia… He died on Thursday… Mr. Salzinger was born in Vienna in 1929. As the Nazis marched into the country in 1938, he escaped with his father, mother and older brother, through an underground Jewish network.” [NYTimes]

Overlooked No More: Rose Zar, a Holocaust Survivor Who Hid in Plain Sight — by Melissa Eddy: Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times… Unlike Anne Frank and thousands of other Jews who spent all or part of World War II sequestered in attics, caves or sewers, Rose Zar survived the Holocaust by hiding in the open. In October 1942, when she was 19, her father feared that the Nazis were closing in on the ghetto where they lived, in Piotrkow, Poland. Zar… grabbed her suitcase and forged passport and left her family behind. For the next three years, she would move around Poland, disguising herself as a Roman Catholic named Wanda Gajda… Zar died on Nov. 3, 2001, in South Bend.” [NYTimes]

Herb London, Conservative Thought Leader, Passes at 79 — by John Gizzi: “The news that Herb London died Sunday morning at age 79 was a devastating blow to conservatives in his home state of New York and nationwide… London rose to fame as Dean of New York University’s Gallatin Division, a program where students designed their own curricula… He later went on to head the Hudson Institute and, in recent years, started the London Center for Policy Research. There he oversaw studies of public policy and wrote scholarly papers and books on topics from the U.S. relations with Iran to the fiscal perils of New York State.” [Newsmax]

BIRTHDAYS: Professor of History at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck turns 77… Counsel at the Poughkeepsie, New York law firm of Gellert, Klein & MacLeod, he was a member of the New York State Senate (1990-2012), Stephen M. Saland turns 75… Sportscaster for NBC since 2006, after 29 years at ABC, Al Michaels turns 74… Attorney in NYC, Bernard Wachsman turns 65… Member of the New York State Assembly since 2006 (and re-elected last week), her district includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Linda Rosenthal turns 61… Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the National Book Award for “Challenger Deep,” Neal Shustermanturns 56… Author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Wolf turns 56… Mayor of Oakland, California since 2015 (re-elected last week), Elizabeth Beckman “Libby” Schaaf turns 53…

President of The Cranemere Group (a private equity firm based in NYC, London and Frankfurt), he was previously director of President Obama’s National Economic Council (2014-2017), Jeffrey Zients turns 52… British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne “Jo” Coburn turns 51… SVP and general manager of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine turns 47… Member of the Knesset since 2006 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov turns 47… Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh turns 43… Film and television actress, Jordana Ariel Spiro turns 41… Matthew D. Berkman turns 34… Director of State Operations at Ad Hoc, a software firm for governments, he is also chairman of loop88, a creative advertising agency focused on Pinterest, Dave Weinberg




Daily Kickoff: Will Senator Mitt Romney maintain independence among Trump’s GOP?

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THE RETURN OF ROMNEY — Despite losing the House of Representatives, the President now has a safe majority in the Senate — pending a recount in Florida and the final results in Arizona — with which to approve his future judicial and cabinet appointees. With John McCain gone, along with Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, the outspoken chair of the Foreign Relations Committee — both of whom notably clashed with Trump —Trump faces diminished resistance from within his party, reducing the risk that a lone outlier could derail his legislation.

Less noticed in Tuesday’s election was the return of Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 presidential nominee, to political office. Romney, Senator-elect for Utah, is qualified to fill the void for an independent voice of reason in the Trump era, say a number of his supporters and former aides.

Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon official who also served as a foreign policy advisor on the Romney presidential campaign, tells us: “Even if Trump is re-elected in 2020, he’ll be up for re-election when Trump is leaving. So I don’t feel that he’s going to have any fear of Trump or any real need to bow down to him. He represents a very different kind of Republicanism. Most Mormons that I know are anti-Trump… I don’t see that Romney has any particular loyalty, allegiance, or sense of obligation to Trump. I think he’ll be a terrific senator. I think he’s going to be a major voice for a sane Republican party. And in a sense, he could be the old kind of standard-bearer. So, you know, on foreign policy or on domestic policy. I just don’t see him particularly concerned about what Trump cares about. He will go his own way and I think he will find that there are a lot of Republicans who follow him.”

“I think, to the extent that his thoughts agree with President Trump’s, you’re going to see that President Trump would have no greater supporter in the U.S. Senate,” Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based Romney donor and board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Jewish Insider. “And to the extent that he disagrees with him, I think that he will voice that and lead the opposition.”

Phil Rosen, a leading Romney bundler in 2012, anticipates that the Utah Senator will mostly toe the party line, primarily because he and Trump agree, fundamentally, on policy. “He has voiced his support for the administration with respect to the economy, Israel and Mideast policy and many other successful efforts,” Rosen noted. “And he will work with the Trump administration to push those policies forward.”

According to Ron Krongold, a Miami businessman, Romney could influence Trump in areas where they don’t see eye to eye, like the U.S. relationship with China and Russia. Trump, Krongold suggested, will benefit from discussion with Romney and “take his intuitive outlook on these matters in consideration.”

Comparisons to Corker? — “I think very much so,” Zeidman said when asked if Romney would wear the Bob Corker hat in the Senate. “When Corker agreed with the president he led the parade. And when he disagreed with the President, he led the parade,” he explained. “Romney is so driven to get things done that he has a great sense of compromise and I think he will work very, very closely with the White House to try and reach compromise positions that will allow the administration to govern.”

Former Romney fundraiser and Jewish outreach director, Lisa Spies emails us: “I believe Senator-elect Romney has the credibility to stick to his own brand and not be easily categorized. He will support conservative reform just like he did as Governor, and work with whomever best helps enact an agenda consistent with Utah values.” [JewishInsider]

IN IOWA — King of the Low Road: Iowa’s worst congressman ekes out a victory — by Adam Rubenstein: “Steve King has said and done a lot of indecent things. In October, he endorsed Faith Goldy, a white nationalist running for mayor of Toronto. Both King and Goldy have publicly embraced the “great replacement” theory, which posits a coordinated global conspiracy to repopulate countries with immigrants. Usually it’s the Jews who are blamed for this—there were chants of “Jews will not replace us” during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. And in August, while on a foundation-funded trip to visit Holocaust sites in Poland, King took a side trip to Austria to have dinner with members of the far-right Freedom party, which has historical ties to the Nazis…”

“A local GOP insider told me just how much discord there is in the party when it comes to King. “We’re trying to put out a positive message, and he steps on it every day. He used to do a lot [for Iowa]. He’s MIA in D.C.,” he told me. “He’s on his crusade overseas, and he’s leaving Iowa voters behind. No one is comfortable with him anymore.” [WeeklyStandard]

How we got Ayanna Pressley wrong on Israel — by Ron Kampeas: “Pressley’s views on Israel differ little from the long-serving Democrat she unseated in the primary, Michael Capuano… “The Jewish community in Boston has enjoyed a warm and productive relationship with congresswoman-elect Pressley during her nine years holding a Boston citywide elected position,” [Jeremy] Burton said in an email. “During that time and during this year’s campaign, Pressley has sought out the input and perspectives of our leaders and organizations on a range of issues, including the US-Israel partnership,” he said.” [JTA

Rep. John Yarmuth vs. Trump, Bibi — by Danna Harman: “When Rep. John Yarmuth returns to Washington, he will be the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on the Budget. This makes it highly likely he will become its chairman when Congress resumes in January… Today, Yarmuth is at the forefront of Democratic disillusionment with Israel’s leadership. “Unfortunately, Israel has lost a lot of support,” he says. He has dubbed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the Dick Cheney” of Israel – “willing to say or do anything to scare his crowd into supporting him.” “I once sat across from Netanyahu and looked at him and felt he was the most bold-faced liar I had ever heard,” he says.”

“Yarmuth shakes his head when asked about Netanyahu, as well as Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s recent handling of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. “Trump has clearly made it more acceptable to surface your prejudices,” Yarmuth says… He adds that for Israeli leaders to try to protect Trump at such a moment is “off-putting.” [Haaretz]

Mairav Zonszein writes… “Trump First, Jews Later: What Pittsburgh cemented is just how far the Israeli leadership is willing to go to protect its nationalist interests, even at the expense of condoning explicit forms of anti-Semitism that are couched in a form of white Christian supremacism hostile to immigrants and people of color.” [ForeignPolicy]

Interview — Natan Sharansky believes the current Israeli government is not listening to concerns of diaspora Jews regarding the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, the detention of left-wing activists at Israel’s airport, or the plurality of ways Judaism is practiced. [i24News]

DAYLIGHT? — Tension Between U.S. and Israel Over China Infrastructure Projects — by Amir Tibon and Amos Harel: “Two months ago, Haaretz reported that, at a conference with their Israeli counterparts, retired American admirals warned that Washington was simply astonished at Israel’s decision to award major infrastructure projects, including the construction of a civilian port in Haifa, to Chinese companies… Based on conversations with ministers and other top officials, it now turns out that the Israelis were amazed at the intensity of their American counterparts’ ire on the matter. “They blew up at us,” said one of the Israelis who attended the meetings.” [Haaretz

HEARD YESTERDAY — Stuart Eizenstat speaking at at a policy forumhosted by The Washington Institute: “I support the JCPOA, but at the same time, I also feel that there should be tougher sanctions for [Iran’s] other actions: supporting terrorism, human rights violations, their missile program and so forth… I think that it’s in our interest, I think it’s in Israel’s interest, to keep the JCPOA alive because I think it blunted their capacity to have a nuclear breakthrough and that you can have that position and still believe, as I do, in very tough sanctions outside of the nuclear [pact].”

UPDATE — In yesterday’s Daily Kickoff, we reported the White House is hosting a Hanukkah party on December 5th at 3PM. They are hosting a secondHanukkah party on the same day at 7PM.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Court Case Reveals Alan Dershowitz Had a Contract With a Lobbyist for Qatar — by Dan Friedman: “Joseph “Joey” Allaham… said in a sworn deposition taken on June 19 that he had contracted with Dershowitz for the attorney to provide him with “advisory and consulting” services “in many matters that involved [the] Middle East, especially Israel.”

“Dershowitz told Mother Jones that he “never received a single penny pursuant to that contract” or from any other work with Allaham and that the deal was “never implemented.” Dershowitz said that following a discussion with Allaham in early 2018, Allaham “drafted a retention letter but my legal advice was never actually sought or given.” … “I have done nothing and will do nothing on behalf of any country,” he said.” [MotherJones]

Trump’s New A.G. Worked for Scam Firm That Threatened Victims with Krav Maga–Style Beatdowns — by Bess Levin: “Whitaker’s most crucial role was arguably in using his prior work as a federal prosecutor to intimidate people when they realized World Patent Marketing was a scam. According to e-mails filed by the F.T.C, in August 2015 Whitaker allegedly responded to a customer who had complained about World Patent Marketing to the Better Business Bureau by telling them, “I am assuming you understand that there could be serious civil and criminal consequences for you. Understand that we take threats like this quite seriously.”

“The pièce de résistance, though, would have to be the correspondence sent to unhappy customers suggesting they keep their grievances to themselves, lest an ex-member of the Israeli Special Ops show up on their doorstep: The F.T.C. complaint adds that “Defendants also cultivate a threatening atmosphere” by sending its victims e-mails describing a company “security team” of “all ex-Israeli Special Ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.” [VanityFair]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR  — Bribery Charges Urged Against Four Close to Netanyahu in Submarine Case — by David Halbfinger: “The Israeli police on Thursday recommended the indictment of one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest confidants and three others from his inner circle in a sprawling bribery case involving the multibillion-dollar purchase of submarines and missile boats from Germany… With elections expected early next year, it is unclear how the police recommendations in the submarine case will affect Mr. Netanyahu’s standing. The growing list of people close to the Israeli leader who face possible criminal charges could be used against him by his challengers.” [NYTimes

ON THE GROUND — Qatar pays Gaza salaries to ease tensions; Israel says money’s not for Hamas — by Nidal al-Mughrabi: “A $15 million Qatari cash infusion was paid out to impoverished Palestinian civil servants in Gaza on Friday, offering Hamas a potential domestic reprieve though Israel said the money would not go to the enclave’s dominant Islamist group. Palestinian sources said the Qatari payout, received on Thursday, was the first of a total of $90 million that would come into the Gaza Strip over the next six months with Israeli approval.” [Reuters]

— Neri Zilber tweets“Diplomatic correspondent for Adelson-owned Israel Hayom Ariel Kahana blasts Netanyahu government for giving Hamas money. Compares it to Oslo Accords & Iran nuclear deal. Demands ministers resign. Strong stuff from the hard right.”

** 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: Lloyd Blankfein Was the Unidentified Goldman Executive Present at 2009 1MDB Meeting [Bloomberg] • Will Nancy Pelosi Bring Down the Gavel on Mark Zuckerberg? [VanityFair] • Google has hired Geisinger’s David Feinberg to lead its health strategy [CNBC] • Bob Iger Talks Disney+, Hulu Plans and His Vision for Enlarged TV Studio [Variety

PROFILE — Why Lauren Bush Lauren Is Increasing FEED’s Investment In Brick-And-Mortar — by Alexandra Wilson: “After developing a myriad of product offerings, Bush Lauren is looking to continue to reinvent the brand by taking the ecommerce company into brick-and-mortar locations nationwide. The first-ever physical location opened up last year in the trendy Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn. The shop and cafe offers food, coffee and FEED products, in addition to hosting civic-minded events. Bush Lauren claims that the store has been wildly successful, with the location’s gross profit up nearly 35% from 2017. Additionally, since opening they’ve seen over 60% of customers making repeat purchases. “It was a leap of faith, to some extent, but I still very much believe in brick-and-mortar. It just needs to be done differently,” says Bush Lauren.” [Forbes]

HOLLYWOOD — HBO Lands David Simon’s Fascism Drama ‘The Plot Against America’ — by Tim Baysinger: “The pay cable network has given a production commitment to Simon’s adaptation of the Philip Roth book, “The Plot Against America,” which will be a six-part miniseries. Based on Roth’s 2004 book, the series imagines an alternate American history told through the eyes of a working-class Jewish family in New Jersey, as they watch the political rise of Charles Lindbergh, an aviator-hero and xenophobic populist, who becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism.” [TheWrap]

DESSERT — Five Places to Go in Jerusalem — by Amy Tara Koch: “Jerusalem’s city center has transformed into a vibrant scene, with youthful, often tattooed habitués offering a curious juxtaposition to the religious pilgrims roaming the Holy City. A growing tech scene — there are upward of 500 start ups in the city — has fueled the metamorphosis… Machneyuda: For a meal that is as much a party as a dining experience, this nine-year-old restaurant inside the Machane Yehuda Market… embodies the boisterous spirit and flavors of contemporary Jerusalem. As dishes arrive — Arabic funk blares. Impromptu dancing erupts when the staff gives a signal by banging on kitchen pots.” [NYTimes]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: British Conservative politician and businessman, Baron David Wolfson of Sunningdale, turns 83… British businessman and philanthropist, formerly Chairman of Lloyds TSB, a major UK bank, Sir Maurice Victor Blank turns 76… Professional baseball manager in the minor leagues and college, he managed Team Israel at the WBC qualifier in 2016 and the World Baseball Classic in South Korea and Japan in 2017, Jerry Weinstein turns 75… Israeli war hero who transitioned to a long career in the Knesset (1999-2013) for the National Religious and Jewish Home parties, Zevulun Orlev turns 73… Chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based PR and public affairs firm, Cerrell Associates, Hal Dash turns 70… Chula Vista, California resident, Daniel Ajzen turns 68… Senior producer at NBC Nightly News, Joel Seidman 64… Political consultant and fundraiser, she founded “No Labels” in 2010 to solve problems across the partisan divide, Nancy Jacobson turns 56… Director of Los Angeles-based Remember Us: The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah Project, she was previously the executive director of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Samara Hutman turns 56…

Professor of journalism and media studies at Fordham University, Amy Beth Aronson Ph.D. turns 56… Partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, he represents private equity and venture capital sponsors, Douglas C. Gessnerturns 53… Partner at Covington & Burling specializing in export controls and sanctions, he was previously the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for export administration during the Bush 43 administration, Peter Lichtenbaum turns 53… American-born Israeli fighter pilot turned venture capitalist, he is the author of a 2018 book on the future of Judaism and founder of Clarity Capital, a NYC and Tel Aviv-based investment management firm, Tal Keinan turns 49… Founding Executive Director of OneTable, Aliza Kline turns 47… Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court since 2015, despite being legally blind since birth as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, Richard H. Bernstein turns 44… Cleveland-born, now living in Phoenix, singer, songwriter and rapper, he has collaborated with artists like Gad Elbaz, Lipa Schmeltzer and C Lanzbom, Ari Benjamin Lesser turns 32…

SATURDAY: Lyricist and songwriter for TV, film and stage, who together with her husband, won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song, Marilyn Bergman turns 89… Manager of the Atlanta Hearing Aid Service, Murray Kurtzberg turns 76… Former CNN news anchor whose first day on the job was September 11, 2001, longtime reporter for ABC, Aaron Brown turns 70… Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D. turns 69… DC-based producer for CBS News and 60 Minutes since 2008, after 11 years as a producer for ABC’s news programs, Howard L. Rosenberg turns 67…

ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor, Linda Cohn turns 59… Bar-Ilan University Professor and social historian, ordained by Yeshiva University, Adam Ferziger turns 54… Senior Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, Ken Chasen turns 53… Managing editor for news at Vox since 2018, he was previously in a series of roles at Foreign Policy Magazine (2010-2018), Benjamin Pauker turns 43… Co-founder in 2004 of Yelp, where he remains the CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman turns 41… Senior investigative reporter at ABC News, Josh Margolin turns 39… Global communications official for Bloomberg Philanthropies on public health, Jean B. Weinberg turns 38…

SUNDAY: Russian-born billionaire, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner turns 57… US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2011-2014), now a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution, he is the co-founder and chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Ambassador Norm Eisen turns 58… Attorney in Los Angeles, Gerald Neiter turns 85… Former Democratic US Senator from California (1993-2017), Barbara Boxerturns 78… Author and Senior Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School, Morley Winograd turns 76… Television personality (former host of Double Dare), comedian and talk show host, Marc Summers (born Marc Berkowitz) turns 67… Billionaire businessman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman turns 64… Founder and president of DC-based Plurus Strategies, he served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the Department of Energy during the Clinton administration, David Leiter turns 64…

President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman turns 61… Aish HaTorah teacher in Los Angeles, she holds a law degree and a masters in clinical psychology, author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman turns 61… Talk show host Zev Brenner turns 60… Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR (a Jewish spiritual community led by Rabbi Sharon Brous), Melissa Balaban turns 54… Emmy Award and People’s Choice Award winning television producer, Jason Nidorf “Max” Mutchnick turns 53… Member of the Knesset since 2009, originally representing the Yisrael Beiteinu party but now independent, she is a former model and television anchor, Orly Levy-Abekasis turns 45… Surprise, Arizona resident, Shula Kantor

Rand Paul aide reads Trump letter at Jewish wedding

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

President Donald Trump sent a personal letter congratulating a Jewish bride and groom on Tuesday. Shlomo Segal and Devorah Ganz were married last night at Ateres Chynka hall…

Kafe Knesset for December 18

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hate to say I told you so: Right-wing Twitter broke out in calls of “I told you so” this morning following the Politico story on Obama, Hezbollah and…

House committee advances Jordan MOU amidst rare Congressional critique of Amman

Friday, December 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed legislation that would re-authorize a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen U.S. defense ties with Jordan….

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…

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…

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…