Jan
16

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Daily Kickoff: The ‘Davos Class’ in the Trump Era | The Other Kushner Brother | Lynton leaves Sony for Snapchat | Remembering Irwin Isaacson Jr.

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DRIVING THE WEEK: Parallel Inauguration Week — “Corporations Open the Cash Spigot for Trump’s Inauguration” by Nicholas Fandos: “Chevron, the oil giant, has given $500,000 for the dayslong festivities. Boeing, which has been a target of Mr. Trump, pledged $1 million. And Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, giants of the gambling industry, are said to have donated more than that by themselves… In exchange, Mr. Trump’s most prolific donors will gain access to what amounts to a parallel inauguration week, carefully planned and largely out of public sight, during which they can mingle with members of the incoming administration over intimate meals and witness Mr. Trump’s ascension from the front rows.”

Thomas Barrack Jr., the private equity investor leading the committee, said his group’s work was made considerably easier by a large untapped pool of donors who for one reason or another did not support Mr. Trump’s campaign. “A lot of the people who were not on board early on are now getting on,” said Mel Sembler, a longtime Republican fund-raiser who has helped solicit donations… Sembler agreed, but said it was certainly “good public relations” for American companies to be backing the celebration. “It’s important to have your name there if you are in that business,” he said. “It’s like supporting your community.” [NYTimes]

TOP TALKER: “Trump could cause ‘the death of think tanks as we know them’” by Josh Rogin: “Those close to him, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors. “This is the death of think tanks as we know them in D.C.,” one transition official told me… If the Trump team succeeds in diminishing the influence of Washington think tanks and keeping their scholars out of government, policymaking will suffer. Many of these scholars hold the institutional knowledge and deep subject matter expertise the incoming administration needs.” [WashPost

“Donald Trump: I’ll do a deal with Britain” by Michael Gove and Oliver Wright: “Mr. Trump also confirmed that he would appoint Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to broker a Middle East peace deal (“He’s a good boy and he will get an Israel agreement that no one else would pull off”), urged Britain to veto any new UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel and repeated his criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Iran nuclear deal.” [SunTimes• Trump Calls NATO Obsolete and Dismisses EU in German Interview [Bloomberg; Bild]  

Trump on the Iran deal: “I don’t want to say what I am gonna to do with the Iran deal. I just don’t want to play the cards. I mean, look, I’m not a politician, I don’t go out and say, ‘I’m gonna do this’ – I’m gonna do, I gotta do what I gotta do… But I’m not happy with the Iran deal.” [SunTimes]

Europe hits back at Trump over NATO, Iran deal: “Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Federica Mogherini said the deal was “proof that diplomacy works and delivers.” … Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson also defended the deal, saying it had “great merit” and “we want to keep it going.”” [AFP]

“Reince Priebus: Iran Nuclear Deal Is ‘On Life Support’” by Harriet Torry: “Mr. Priebus told ABC’s “This Week” that a decision on the Iran deal will be made by the incoming president in conjunction with his closest advisers. “We all know that President-elect Trump doesn’t like the Iran deal, thinks it’s a terrible document…but moving forward, the best way is going to be something that is going to be a collective decision that is made, of course, with President-elect Trump having the primary say,” Mr. Priebus said. “I’m not here to declare one way or the other ultimately where this is going to go, but I do believe it’s on life support,” Mr. Priebus said.” [WSJ

“Obama says U.N. vote didn’t rupture U.S.-Israel relations” by Phil Stewart: “I don’t think it caused a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel,” Obama said in an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” airing on Sunday night. “If you’re saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu – got fired up, he’s been fired up repeatedly during the course of my presidency.” [Reuters

“Obama’s parting thoughts on Syria, Israel” by Cyra Master: “And despite all the noise and hullabaloo, military cooperation, intelligence cooperation, all of that has continued. We have defended them consistently in every imaginable way.” But, he said, allowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to worsen is a problem for both the U.S. and Israel and said settlements are “a contributing factor to the inability to solve that problem.” Obama said he wanted “to make that point” with the vote.” [TheHill; CBSNews]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: Sen. Chuck Schumer at the annual HASC concert in NYC: “…That awful one-sided resolution at the UN. But some of us worked very hard and tonight they announced, no matter what happens in Paris, nothing more is going to happen at the UN. So we don’t have to worry about that.” [Video]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Mideast conference has an urgent message for Trump” by Carol Morello and William Booth: “Though Trump was not mentioned by name, there was widespread concern in Paris that the new administration, which will occupy the White House in five days, will be so pro-Israel that its policies could threaten the idea of two states living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as their shared capital… And Netanyahu signaled that he was looking forward to Trump’s inauguration when he said the conference exemplified the “final palpitations of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow will look a lot different, and tomorrow is very close.”

— “Israeli media reported that Netanyahu brought up [the UNSC resolution] and told Kerry flatly that “the damage was already done.” Kerry pulled out a sheet of paper that apparently was a transcript of his phone call, and he read aloud a portion of it regarding the resolution, inviting reporters to quote in its entirety what he told Netanyahu: “Now, I want to stress this point: We fully respect Israel’s profound historic and religious ties to the city and to its holy sites. We’ve never questioned that. This resolution in no manner prejudges the outcome of permanent status negotiations on East Jerusalem, which must, of course, reflect those historic ties and the realities on the ground. That’s our position. We still support it.”” [WashPost; AFP

“Kerry says ‘inappropriate’ for conference to mention possible U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem” by Lesley Wroughton: “”It is being debated publicly at home and does not belong within international fora at this moment in time. It’s inappropriate,” Kerry told reporters.” [Reuters

“Israeli officials cheer ‘weakened’ Paris peace summit declaration” by Raphael Ahren: “The Israeli officials were jubilant that “problematic passages” in a contentious recent UN Security Council resolution on the settlements were not included in the Paris document… Furthermore, the Israeli officials expressed satisfaction over the fact that no further action against Israeli settlements is planned at the Security Council… The ostensible success, the officials concluded, was the “result of harsh reactions” voiced by Israel against Resolution 2334.” [ToI

“UK signals closeness to Trump with snub to French Middle East summit” by Patrick Wintour: “The British government has signalled its determination to stay close to Donald Trump’s administration by refusing to send a high-level delegation to the Middle East peace conference organised by the French government… Trump’s transition team reportedly told French diplomats they disapproved of the conference going ahead, seeing it as an attempt to put unfair pressure on Israel and give an unjustified reward to the Palestinians.” [Guardian• Anshel Pfeffer: “This statement from UK government on the Paris conference is exactly Netanyahu’s position (minus a bit of rhetoric).” [Twitter

“Here’s what Plan B in the Middle East should look like” by Stuart E. Eizenstat and Dennis Ross: “Building could continue unabated within the three major settlement blocs near the pre-1967 Green Line… But settlement expansion would cease in those areas outside the blocs in what could eventually become a demilitarized Palestinian state… The other centerpiece of Plan B would be empowering the Palestinian economy through the kind of private-sector development the Trump administration should like, rather than sending more U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority.” [WashPost

TRANSITION TOWER: “Trump slow to vet ultra-rich ambassador candidates” by Tara Palmeri: “Another candidate for Italy, financier Lew Eisenberg, a Trump loyalist, has the confidence of the transition team to get through brutal Senate hearings, a transition official said… “For Lew Eisenberg, the transition team is very comfortable that this issue has been publicly dismissed and has no merit,” the official added, noting Eisenberg’s loyalty to Trump. “Lew’s a different situation, because he’s been so active.”” [Politico

“In Bid to Block David Friedman’s Ambassadorship, Liberal Jews Lean on Chuck Schumer” by Judy Maltz: “Over the weekend, a group of 120 professors of Jewish studies, representing universities and colleges across the United States, sent a letter to Schumer urging him to vote against the appointment… Ricki Lieberman, a Democratic Party activist based in Israel who has worked as a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, is encouraging the “many thousands” of Trump opponents on her email list to write letters to Schumer expressing their opposition to Friedman’s appointment.” [Haaretz

“Israeli Settler Leaders Will Attend Trump Inauguration” by Naomi Zeveloff: “Yehuda Glick, a Brooklyn-born rabbi and member of the Israeli parliament’s ruling Likud party confirmed that he will be attending the inauguration with fellow Likud lawmaker Sharren Haskel… According to the Times of Israel, Oded Revivi, the chairman of the Yesha settler’s council, will be attending along with Benny Kasriel, the mayor of Ma’aleh Adumim, a settlement outside Jerusalem.” [Forward

BUZZ IN BALFOUR: “Netanyahu Reportedly Orchestrated Meeting Between Media Mogul and Businessmen: “According to Channel 2, Netanyahu helped set up meetings between Mozes and the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, the Australian billionaire James Packer and even Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. He also helped Mozes reach out to the German media concern Axel Springer. All contacts were made as part of an attempt to help Mozes’ Yedioth Aharnoth daily deal with financial issues by bringing in investors… Last week, Channel 10 reported that police had searched Arnon Milchan’s office and found receipts for the purchase of cigars and other gifts for Netanyahu adding up to over 400,000 shekels ($105,000). According to that report, additional receipts for gifts worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of shekels were found in the offices of Australian billionaire James Packer.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu decries ‘biased leaks’ over scandal with publisher [ToI]

“The neutering of Israeli journalism” by David Horivitz: “There’s a great deal that we do not definitively know, and might come to know fairly soon. But what we’ve learned already stinks. And it stinks, particularly, from the journalistic side of the political power/media watchdog equation. Politicians — shock — want to stay in power. It’s why they are politicians. Prime ministers most of all. Journalists are meant to scrutinize them, honestly.” [ToI
** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
PROFILE: “The Other Kushner Brother’s Big Bet” by Katie Benner: “In the weeks after the election, Mr. Kushner has grappled with many questions over Oscar Health. The company, which is one of Mr. Kushner’s most prominent investments, sells health insurance to individuals under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That is a law that Jared Kushner is uniquely positioned to influence now that he is a senior adviser to the president-elect, which puts his younger brother and the start-up in an awkward position. At the same time, Joshua Kushner has had to deal with queries from investors in his venture capital funds who have asked him how Mr. Trump’s ascension would affect his work”

“Joshua Kushner grew up in New Jersey, where his grandparents, Holocaust survivors who immigrated from Europe in 1949, had built apartments… At Harvard, Mr. Kushner roomed with Alexander Blankfein, the son of the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein. His circle also included Alexander de Carvalho, an heir to the Heineken beer fortune. Mr. Kushner dipped into media when he became the executive editor of a short-lived society magazine for Harvard students called Scene…”

“Mr. Kushner set about building Thrive in a methodical way, drawing on his constellation of connections. Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder of LionTree, a merchant bank that specializes in tech and media deals, said he was impressed by Mr. Kushner’s focus when the young investor spoke at an event Mr. Bourkoff held in 2011. Mr. Kushner argued before a roomful of media executives that online video would create more upheaval than the cable industry anticipated. Many in the room disagreed with that idea at the time but said he made a compelling case.” [NYTimes]

“Courtside Ventures has active first year of dealmaking” by Michael Smith: “Courtside Ventures, the venture capital fund headlined by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, George Pyne’s Bruin Sports Capital, and WPP, spent its first year investing in 14 early-stage companies… The idea behind the $35 million fund, which launched in January 2016, was to dive deep into the intersection of sports, media and technology, something it did with investments that ranged from $200,000 up to $1.5 million across the 14 businesses.” [BizJournals]

TRANSITION: “Michael Lynton Exiting Sony to Serve as Snapchat Chairman” by Kim Masters: “Michael Lynton is stepping down from his position as CEO of Sony Entertainment, the film, television and music conglomerate, to serve full-time as chairman of the board of social media power Snapchat. Lynton, who before Sony was an executive at Penguin Group, The Walt Disney Co. and AOL Europe, was an early investor in Los Angeles-based Snapchat and has served on the board of the renamed Snap Inc. for four years. He quietly became board chairman in late 2016.” [HollywoodReporter]

“Will Mark Zuckerberg Be Our Next President?” by Nick Bilton: “Increasingly, a number of influential people in Silicon Valley seem to think that Mark Zuckerberg will likely run for president of the United States one day. And some people, including myself, believe that he could indeed win. “He wants to be emperor” is a phrase that has become common among people who have known him over the years.” [VanityFair]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “At Least Washington Finally Has Interesting Billionaires Now” by Benjamin Freed: “Outside of sports and [David] Rubenstein, DC’s billionaires are a fairly quiet bunch, not really the scary “billyunayuhs” of a Bernie Sanders rally. That’s all changing thanks to Donald Trump. It’s hard for anyone, regardless of net worth, to be as colorful as the President-elect. But DC really feels like the invasion of the billionaires is truly underway.” [Washingtonian]

“What to Make of the ‘Davos Class’ in the Trump Era” by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “The World Economic Forum — an annual gathering of global policy and business leaders, who come to debate the world’s great challenges — gets underway here Monday night as the shifting political trends toward nationalism and against a sense of globalism are raising renewed questions about the relevance of the elites known as the “Davos class.” It is this group of so-called plutocrats that largely failed to anticipate — and may have even unconsciously generated — the seeping anti-establishment movement across the globe.” [DealBook]

LongRead: “The Bitter Legal Battle over Peggy Guggenheim’s Blockbuster Art Collection” by Milton Esterow: “Peggy, whose given name was Marguerite, came from two wealthy Jewish-American families—the Guggenheims and the Seligmans, although one writer said she was from “one of the poorer branches of the family.” Her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, went down with the Titanic after reportedly relinquishing his place on a lifeboat to his French mistress. In 1919, when she was 21, Peggy inherited $450,000, the equivalent of about $6.4 million today. In 1937, after her mother’s estate was settled, her income was averaging about $40,000 a year, which would be roughly $675,000 today. No one, including Peggy, seemed to know how much she was worth. She was extremely generous and supported friends financially for many years.” [VanityFair]

“With sale to Canadian firm, American Apparel will be American no longer” by Shan Li: “Founder Dov Charney charted a maverick path when he moved a nascent American Apparel to Los Angeles in 1997 and began manufacturing its cotton basics in the region. The company’s colorful garments and provocative advertising quickly caught on with young fashionistas. Charney gained prominence as a vocal supporter of immigration reform and worker rights, as the company’s “Made in USA — Sweatshop Free” motto appeared in billboards and print ads throughout the country… For Charney, the sale is a final chapter in a company that he started in his dorm room as a student at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Charney, who is working on a new L.A. clothing company, said he tried to put together another bid for American Apparel, but the financing fell through.” [LATimes

“The world’s tallest solar tower is being built in Israel” by Nathan Giannini: “Deep in Israel’s Negev Desert construction is well under way on what will soon become the tallest solar tower in the world. Scheduled to be finished later this year at a cost of about $570 million, the Ashalim tower will soar a staggering 820 feet into the sky… “We multiplied the size of the mirrors by three compared to the previous generation,” Megalim Power CEO Eran Gartner, who heads the consortium managing the project, told the Times of Israel. “Everything is connected by WiFi instead of by cables. The tower and its boiler are also designed to reduce costs. Everything is done to pursue profitability.” The current tallest solar structure in the world is the Ivanpah plant, located in California’s Mojave Desert.” [YahooFinance

“How Musician Meir Banai Reflected Israeli Culture’s Recent Return to Jewish Tradition” by Daniel Gordis: “Banai’s life and work was a reminder that it is never too late to ask ourselves what the Jewish State is all about. There are many ways to answer that question, of course, but the move from the secularism of Israel’s early generations to the heartbreak of 1973 to the religious inquisitiveness of recent decades suggests that more than anything, Israel is the place where Jews have come to reimagine what Jewish peoplehood might mean when it resides in its ancestral homeland and is coupled to sovereignty… Meir Banai’s life, and his musical output particularly after he began to re-engage his roots, is a powerful reminder that not far beneath Israel’s tempestuousness, there is a quest, a hunger and a yearning that is both deeply Jewish and achingly exquisite.” [Tablet

“Irwin Isaacson Jr., Superdome engineer, dies at 91” by John Pope: “Irwin Isaacson Jr., an engineer on projects that included the Superdome, the World Trade Center and the Rivergate, died Wednesday (Jan. 11) of a heart attack at Touro Infirmary. He was 91. A lifelong New Orleanian, Mr. Isaacson was president and chairman of Weil and Moses Inc., where he worked for most of his career, said his son Walter Isaacson, president and chief executive officer of the Aspen Institute… Mr. Isaacson was a former vice president of the Jewish Community Center. No matter how serious the situation, Mr. Isaacson never lost his sense of humor, even on his deathbed, Rabbi Edward Cohn of Temple Sinai said.” [NoLa]

“Life’s Work: An Interview with Jerry Seinfeld” by Daniel McGinn: “You can teach someone aspects of making it in the comedy profession, but you can’t teach someone to be funny. I didn’t realize how genetic it was until I saw my daughter—I couldn’t believe how funny she was. I didn’t teach her to be that way, and I know my dad was funny, so now I see that there’s a huge genetic component. You just pop out with this thing.” [HBR]

BIRTHDAYS: Physicist and professor of materials science at Oxford (1966-1992), Sir Peter Bernhard Hirsch turns 92… Editor-in-Chief (1960-1995; now Editor-at-Large) of Commentary magazine, author of the 2009 book “Why Are Jews Liberals?” Norman Podhoretz turns 87… Socially conservative talk radio host and relationship advisor since 1975, on Sirius XM Radio since 2011, author of over 20 books, Dr. Laura Schlessinger turns 70… Chef, food writer, culinary editor for the Modern Library, host of PBS’s “Gourmet’s Adventures With Ruth,” recipient of four James Beard Awards, Ruth Reichl turns 69… Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hazon Ovadia, Harav Yitzhak Yosef turns 65… Billionaire, first employee and subsequently first president of eBay, internet entrepreneur, philanthropist and movie producer, Jeffrey Skoll turns 52… DC-native, back in DC after 10 years in London, a strategic communications consultant at Podium, Debbie Berger Fox turns 44… Author, writer and Ph.D. candidate in political theory at Columbia U, former speechwriter for then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senator Chris Dodd, Rob Goodman turns 33 (h/t Playbook)… Joseph Bornstein… Suzi Brozman… David Ptalis

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Jan
13

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Daily Kickoff: Booker, Kaine support Udall amendment criticizing settlements | Arbess meets Abbas | Struggling Sports Bar went Kosher, Biz Took Off

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EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Udall’s Amendment Criticizing Settlements Rejected In Committee — by Aaron Magid: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed Resolution 6 on Thursday criticizing the recent UNSC action against Israel, and it will head to the Senate floor for a vote at a later time. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced an amendment to the bill yesterday, which added a line, “reaffirming that it is also the policy of the United States to discourage settlement building.” Seven Democrats supported the revision including Tim Kaine (VA) and Cory Booker (NJ). Notably, Booker “received more money from pro-Israel donors than any other Democratic candidate in the 2014 election cycle,” according to NJ.com. Nonetheless, the amendment failed to pass as the other members of the committee including three Democrats — Robert Menendez (NJ), Ben Cardin (MD) & Chris Coons (DE) — joined the remaining eleven GOP members on the committee to oppose the provision.” [JewishInsider]

“For the first time, Democrats are about as pro-Palestinian as pro-Israel” by Aaron Blake: “Similar numbers of Republicans and Democrats have sympathized more with Israel than with the Palestinians dating back to the late 1970s. Today, though, 74 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel, while just 33 percent of Democrats do the same. And perhaps most notably, for the first time this century — if not ever — Democrats are now about equally split between sympathizing more with Israel (33 percent) and with the Palestinians (31 percent)… While liberal Democrats favored Israel by 30 points at the turn of the century, they now favor the Palestinians by 12 points. The causes could be many. Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama haven’t exactly been buddies, and Pew’s data shows Democrats’ views of Netanyahu are pretty dim. Perhaps that has depressed support for Israel among Democrats.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL: “Capital of Israel Is Tel Aviv, Says Trump’s Pentagon Pick Mattis” by Amir Tibon:“The U.S. embassy is in Tel Aviv, however U.S. policy doesn’t explicitly state that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital. Mattis also explained that “that’s where all the government people are.” While Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are both located in Jerusalem, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the IDF headquarters – two places that Mattis has visited many times when he served in the U.S. military – are in fact located in Tel Aviv.” [Haaretz; JewishInsider]

FULL EXCHANGE — Graham: What’s the capital of Israel? Mattis: The capital of Israel that I go to, sir, is Tel Aviv because that’s where all their government people are, but… Graham: Do you agree with me that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem? Mattis: Sir, right now I stick with the U.S. policy. Graham: Okay. Do you support moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Mattis: I would defer to the nominee for Secretary of State on that, sir. Graham: Do you support maintaining the qualitative edge for Israel against all potential adversaries in terms of their military capability? Mattis: I do, sir. Graham: Do you support a two-state solution? Mattis: I do. If that brings peace to the Middle East, I am eager to see it work. If there’s another solution, I’d be happy to hear what it is. Graham: Absolutely. Who is in charge of the Palestinian community? Mattis: That’s a good question, sir. I think there’s a number of people who think they are. Graham: It’d be hard to have a two-state solution if one of the parties really doesn’t have anybody in charge. Mattis: There is nothing easy about the two-state solution.

On Hamas — Graham: You think Hamas is a terrorist organization? Mattis: I do, sir. Graham: You think they would abide by any agreement that the Palestinian Authority negotiated with Israel given the state of affairs as we know today? Mattis: Only if forced to. Graham: Okay. I’d like to know how we would force them.

— “Mattis on several occasions during his testimony defended the F-35 in light of Trump tweets that called into question the program costs. Mattis said it was a superior aircraft with stealth and electronics beyond the current generation of fighters. Allies that are purchasing the aircraft are also depending on the program, he noted. Trump only wants to make sure the program is getting “the most bang for the buck,” he said.” [NDIA] • Mattis: “Israel’s security is very, very important to the United States.” [YouTube

“Mattis breaks with Trump on Iran, Russia” by Austin Wright and Jeremy Herb: “While Mattis is known as an Iran hawk, he said Thursday he believed the United States should stick with the Iranian nuclear deal. “I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement — it’s not a friendship treaty,” Mattis said in response to questions from Senate Armed Services ranking Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island. “But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”” [PoliticoNYTimes]

“Rex Tillerson couldn’t recall ExxonMobil subsidiary’s work with Iran. Here’s the proof it happened” by Ed O’Keefe and Steven Mufson: “Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the Securities and Exchange Commission contacted ExxonMobil in 2006 and 2010 about Exxon’s dealings with Iran, Syria and Sudan, including Infineum and its work with Iran… While these transactions were small compared to the oil giant’s overall business… any leaks in a sanctions regime can undercut U.S. policy even if they are not large for an individual company the size of Exxon, sanctions experts note… On Feb. 7, 2006, Exxon’s assistant general counsel Richard E. Gutman wrote back saying the transactions were too tiny for a company with $371 billion in revenue to matter to investors.” [WashPost

“Don’t tear up the Iran deal, make it better” by Amos Yadlin and Avner Golov: “The incoming Trump administration should revive the two main levers that brought Iran to the negotiations, but were partially abandoned by the Obama administration: a credible threat of sanctions that could severely damage the Iranian energy and financial sectors, and a credible surgical military option… Close cooperation with Israel could strengthen the American position. Israeli intelligence on Iran can assist in detecting Iranian violations, while an Israeli military threat can also convince Iran not to exploit the flaw.” [USAToday]

TOP TALKER: “Meeting With Kushner’s Friend Convinced Abbas: Trump Serious About Embassy Move” by Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury:“Around two weeks ago New York businessman Daniel Arbess approached senior officials in Abbas’ office through the mediation of another American businessman, asking to meet with Abbas and the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat… An American source who knows him says Arbess has friendly ties with the most significant man in Trump’s entourage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The source says Arbess and Kushner sit beside each other at the Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan’s Upper East Side… An Israeli source familiar with details of the meeting said Arbess told Abbas that as far as he knew, Trump was serious about moving the embassy to Jerusalem and might announce this shortly after being sworn in on January 20.” [Haaretz]

Barak Ravid tweets:“Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt tells me “Daniel Arbess does not represent Trump, Jared Kushner or anyone in the upcoming administration… Daniel Arbess doesn’t know the President-elect’s views on Israel, the Palestinian Authority or the peace process.” [Twitter]

“Obama Surprises Joe Biden With Presidential Medal of Freedom” by Michael D. Shear: “For the first time, Mr. Obama awarded the medal with distinction, an added level of veneration that previous presidents had reserved for recipients like Pope John Paul II and Colin L. Powell… “To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully,” Mr. Obama said during the televised ceremony, as Mr. Biden wiped tears from his eyes.” [NYTimes]

“U.S. Vice President Biden to make swansong visit to Ukraine” by Pavel Polityuk: “Biden… has been the front man for U.S. policy towards Ukraine since street protests in 2013-2014 forced a Russian-backed leader to flee and the pro-Western opposition took over… Biden has been closely involved, visiting Ukraine four times since the change in power and maintaining regular telephone contact with Poroshenko and the prime minister.” [Reuters] • Flashback 12-27-2016: Phone Call From Biden Said to Precipitate Ukraine’s UN ‘Yes’ Vote [Tablet]

“Biden: Intel officials told us Trump allegations might leak” by Josh Lederman: “The vice president… took umbrage at Trump’s comments accusing intelligence agencies of allowing the information to leak publicly and drawing a comparison to “living in Nazi Germany.” “The one thing you never want to invoke is Nazi Germany, no matter what the circumstances,” Biden said. “It’s an overwhelming diversion from the point you’re trying to make.”” [AP• German foreign minister ‘perplexed’ by Trump’s Nazi Germany comment [DW]

“Holocaust Survivor Evi Blaikie Denounces Trump Over Nazi Reference” by Jacob Kornbluh: “I was angry, I was really angry,” Blaikie, the founder of Hungarian Hidden Children of the Holocaust, told Jewish Insider outside City Hall on Thursday. “I was astounded that he would make such a statement that is so ignorant of what Nazi Germany was about… I’m afraid of Donald Trump,” she said, “but at the same time, I’m not going to let the fear paralyze me. I’m going to do my best and ask everyone else to fight him on everything. We can’t be kept silent. We have to speak up no matter what the ramifications.” … “I have a message for our President-elect: Mr. Trump when it comes to your prejudice attacks, shut your tweeting face,” Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center [for Mutual Respect], said. “Your words injure.” [JewishInsider]

“Why Won’t More Jewish Groups Condemn Trump’s Shameful Nazi Comparisons?” by Jane Eisner: “There is one person, though, who should be able to persuade Trump to stop using Nazi references in such an awful way: his son-in-law, the grandson of survivors. Maybe the Jewish organizations that won’t publicly condemn Trump will try to whisper in Jared Kushner’s ear.” [Forward

TRANSITION TOWER: “New York Financier to Land White House Adviser Role” by Jonathan Lemire: “[Anthony Scaramucci’] may move into the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, which is currently run by Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s most powerful allies… He has deep ties with incoming White House strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner… In the closing months of the presidential campaign, Scaramucci became tight with Kushner.” [AP

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

TALK OF THE TOWN — Be’er Sheva Added to Bloomberg Innovation Team Grant List: “Program deepens funding in the United States and Israel, also expands to Canada. The program helps City Halls drive bold innovation, change culture, and tackle big problems to deliver better results for residents. Multi-year grants will be awarded to help cities create better results for a range of pressing problems – from tackling poverty and neighborhood revitalization to recruiting and retaining public employees… I-teams are currently in Tel Aviv, Israel and Jerusalem, Israel.[BloombergPhil; CityLab]

“Davos Wonders If It’s Part of the Problem” by Matthew Campbell and Simon Kennedy:“The repeated failure of business and political elites to predict what’s coming—last year, that included the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union—doesn’t strike those returning this month to the Swiss Alps as very funny. After a year in which political upsets roiled financial markets and killed off the careers of once-dominant Davos-going politicians, the concern for delegates attending this year’s meeting isn’t that their forecasts are often wrong, but that their worldview is.” [Bloomberg]

“15 Israelis making a mark on Silicon Valley’s tech scene” by Viva Sarah Press: “Oren Zeev and Oren Dobronsky are often mentioned in the same sentence. The two share a sense of responsibility for grooming the next generation of Israelis in Silicon Valley. Zeev, founder of Zeev Ventures, was an early investor in Chegg, Houzz, Audible, Tipalti and others, and sits on numerous boards of directors. He is also cofounder and chairman of supplier payments automation platform Tipalti. “Israelis here succeed at all levels, as entrepreneurs and as executives. An Israeli who lands here has a massive advantage over Swedes, Italians — or even Texans — because everyone knows everyone,” Zeev told Haaretz, adding that Israelis are represented at every significant company in the area.” [Israel21c]

“Gaza is attracting the attention of Silicon Valley as young tech entrepreneurs push to solve problems themselves” by Christopher Schroeder: “If you have any doubt that near-universal access to tech is helping a new generation take control of their own lives, solving problems and building opportunity from the bottom-up everywhere — that “near-universal” means it’s not a phenomenon of the elite, but unleashing talent anywhere it resides — come to Gaza… More than two-thirds of Gazans are under 24, and nearly all have high written and computing literacy. If the definition of a great entrepreneur is one who thrives in working through and around challenges and creating innovative solutions, it’s no surprise that Gaza is chock-full of them.” [ReCode] • With Electricity in Short Supply, 10,000 Protest in Gaza, Defying Hamas [NYTimes]

THIS TOWN: “Jeff Bezos’s New $23 Million House Will Make Him Jared Kushner’s Neighbor” by Emily Jane Fox: “The Washington Post reported Thursday that Jeff Bezos bought a 27,000-square-foot property in October less than a half mile from Ivanka and Jared’s new digs. The home, the largest in the city, was purchased for $23 million in cash.” [VanityFair; WashPost]

“What I learned about Jared Kushner from working at The Observer” by Ross Barkan: “Long before Trump was a serious candidate for President, Observer staff was told to broaden its reach… We dropped “New York” from our website as a way to “nationalize” the brand. We were told we were now writing for people everywhere: the Midwest, the South and beyond. In theory this was noble, but in practice it made little sense. We weren’t traveling across America because our budget was rather meager… Thanks to a sleek redesign and the emergence of stories with clickbait headlines… web traffic grew, and Kushner took this as a sign that his paper, if he cared, was finally reaching the masses.” [NYDN

MEDIA WATCH: “Libel Lawsuit Settled Between Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson, WSJ Reporter” by Lukas I. Alpert: “The suit, filed in 2013, accused the Journal’s then-Hong-Kong-based Asia gambling-industry reporter, Kate O’Keeffe, of libel, for a passage in which Mr. Adelson was described as “a scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working-class Dorchester, Mass.” Mr. Adelson has said he isn’t foul-mouthed. .. The case was brought in Hong Kong, where the law makes it easier for plaintiffs to win libel cases than in the U.S., in part, by putting the burden on defendants to prove the truth of the challenged statement… The Journal took action in U.S. federal courts to subpoena witnesses, including executives at Las Vegas Sands and Mr. Adelson’s former bodyguard and driver, who could testify about whether he indeed was foul-mouthed.” [WSJ] • “Trump met with mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, transition says” [TheHill]

WHITE HOUSE TRANSITIONS: “Jake Broder Fingert, senior policy adviser for the National Economic Council, will be a partner at Camber Creek, a D.C.-based venture capital firm focused on real estate tech. Jake covers infrastructure and real estate at the White House and previously helped manage the federal government’s real estate portfolio, acquisitions program and IT, as a senior adviser at GSA.” [Playbook] • President Obama announced his intent to appoint Andrew Weinstein to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council [WhiteHouse

“The Dark Irony of a Jewish Country Club’s Debate Over Whether to Admit President Obama” by Rachel Shukert: “Woodmont has the right to let in or not let in whoever they want, and I am confident the President—a President who held the first seder ever in the White House, who has had more Jews in key positions than any other administration in history, and whose policy views are echoed by the vast majority of American Jews—will ultimately find a nice place to play golf. But it is something that a club founded in protest of exclusion of those with different worldviews, so to speak, should feel so comfortable with it in practice.” [Tablet]

“‘Jewish Americana’ music gets its moment in the spotlight” by Gabe Friedman: “Since Jews were viewed as immigrants in the United States for a large part of the 20th century — and are still widely seen as an ethnic “other” in American society — Jewish music and Americana, at first glance, seem an unlikely mixture. But in addition to [Saul] Kaye, artists such as Nefesh Mountain, a husband-and-wife bluegrass duo from New Jersey, and Joe Buchanan, a convert to Judaism from Houston who plays James Taylor-esque country, are gaining in popularity on the national Jewish music circuit. Joey Weisenberg, a Brooklyn-based prayer leader and music teacher, has garnered praise for his modern bluesy, indie rock-inspired takes on “niggunim,” or traditional Jewish melodies.” [JTA]

SPORTS BLINK: “Amar’e In Israel: Fresh Start In The Old City” by Jon Wertheim: “While stopping short of considering himself Jewish, [Amar’e] Stoudemire self-identifies as a Hebrew Israelite, a tribe that’s believed to have descended from the Kingdom of Judah and inhabited what is now Israel before its expulsion by the Romans in 70 A.D. In keeping with kosher tradition, Stoudemire doesn’t eat pork or shellfish, and he sports a menorah tattoo on his left wrist… Stoudemire says that he’s committed to “holy living” and that in Jerusalem, “I’ve never felt more at home, more tied to a place where I’m playing.”” [SI]

Wine of the Week — by Yitz Applbaum: Sitting with Arnon, one of the founders of the Montefiore winery, is a wonderful experience. Arnon helped to shape the Israeli wine market over the past 20 years, so his knowledge and passion for Israeli wines are overwhelming. Imagine that you are overlooking the Montefiore Windmill in Jerusalem, sitting with Arnon – the wine is not even necessary to obtain a high.

The Montefiore Aria is a complex wine. It is a blend of 65 percent Syrah, 20 percent Carignan, and 15 percent Petite Syrah. An amazing trait of this wine is that you can taste the different grape varietals on completely different parts of your palate. One almost gets to blend the wine in one’s own mouth. The wine is aged predominantly in French oak with a touch of some American oak as well. Drink this wine now. Drink it with marinated meat and chicken if you can. This is likely to create a memorable meal. [MontefioreWines

DESSERT: “This Sports Bar Was Struggling — Until It Went Kosher and Business Took Off” by Britta Lokting: “The bar is located between Baruch College and Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, and Hardoon and Brooks, who are both Orthodox, watched unhappily as Jewish customers they knew to be observant ate nonkosher food. Hardoon didn’t like them violating kashrut in his establishment. He first tried offering sushi, which only partially worked, and then one night suggested to Brooks they just make the whole place kosher… Despite the higher costs and some lost weekend revenue, the bar makes more money than ever. Eddie Fahmy, the manager, says business is up 50 to 60 percent. One waitress says she can collect $200 in tips on some nights, a big boost from the $50 she might have earned before certification.” [GrubStreet]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: South African biologist and a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate, Sydney Brenner turns 90… Founder of Working Today and Freelancers Union, leading organizations of independent workers, a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, Sara Horowitz turns 54… Statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and elections, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver turns 39… AIPAC’s German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier mix, Jersey Brown turns 11… NYC pediatrician at Carnegie Hill Pediatrics, graduate of the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg, Barry B. Stein, MD… DC-based Deputy Director of Communications for the Israel on Campus Coalition, Carly Freedman… North America Director at The Israel Forever Foundation, Heidi Krizer Daroff… Bruce Maclver… Shira Berenson… Lucia Meyerson… Rebecca Seider… Kathleen Chambers

Award-winning legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio since 1975, focusing primarily on the US Supreme Court, Nina Totenberg turns 73… Screenwriter, director and producer, best known as co-writer of the films “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi,” Lawrence Kasdan turns 68… AIPAC board member and activist, founding member and co-managing partner of LA-based law firm, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, Michael L. Tuchin turns 52… Associate attorney in the Toronto law firm of McCague Borlack, Aryeh Samuel… Stephen Panikoff… Alba Farquharson… Barbara Singer-Meis… Eric Alterman… Saul Saulisbury

German-born, US-educated, moved to Israel at age 44, professor of electro-optics at the Jerusalem College of Technology, author of several books on Science and Judaism, Yehuda “Leo” Levi, Ph.D turns 91… Diplomat and attorney, former domestic policy advisor to President Carter, US Ambassador to the European Union (1993-1996), Deputy Secretary of Treasury (1999-2001), Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat turns 74… Cryptographer, computer security specialist, blogger, writer, author of 13 books, CTO at Resilient (an IBM company), a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Bruce Schneier turns 54… Basketball analyst for CBS Sports since 2012, after a ten-year stint at ESPN, formerly a college basketball star who played professionally in the USBL, Europe and for Maccabi Ra’anana, Doug Gottlieb turns 41… Conservative political commentator, nationally syndicated columnist, author, radio talk show host, and attorney, Ben Shapiro turns 33… Madelyn Palley turns 68…

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]

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Daily Kickoff: Senators Sasse, Graham & Franken dance, swap hats with Hasidic Jews on the Hill | Soros lost $1B after election | Latest Hamas tactic

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TOP TALKER: “US intel sources warn Israel against sharing secrets with Trump administration” by Ronen Bergman: “During the meeting, according to the Israelis who participated in it, their American colleagues voiced despair over Trump’s election… The American officials further added that they believed Russia President Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump – but did not elaborate… The Americans implied that their Israeli colleagues should “be careful” as of January 20, Trump’s inauguration date, when transferring intelligence information to the White House and to the National Security Council (NSC), which is subject to the president. According to the Israelis who were present in the meeting, the Americans recommended that until it is made clear that Trump is not inappropriately connected to Russia and is not being extorted – Israel should avoid revealing sensitive sources to administration officials for fear the information would reach the Iranians.” [Ynet

“ADL Calls on Trump to Apologize for ‘Nazi Germany’ Reference” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The President-Elect’s use of Nazi Germany to make a political analogy is not only an inappropriate comparison on the merits, but it also coarsens our discourse and diminishes the horror of the Holocaust,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement… During a press conference at Trump Tower – as his son-in-law Jared Kushner was looking on – the President-elect doubled down… “I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake” to be leaked to the press, Trump said. “That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.” … ADL’s Greenblatt called on Trump to “explain his intentions or apologize for the remark.” [JewishInsider

HAPPENING TODAY: Holocaust survivors, members of the NY City Council’s Jewish Caucus, and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect to denounce Trump’s Nazi Germany comments at a press conference on the steps of City Hall at 10: 45 am EST.

“PMO: Netanyahu will not attend Trump inauguration” by Shlomo Cesana and Yoni Hersch: “The Prime Minister’s Office clarified that Netanyahu had not been invited to the ceremony and that it is not customary for foreign leaders to attend presidential inaugurations.” [IsraelHayom]

“Trump must forge anti-terror coalition with Israel and Arabs, Avigdor Liberman tells Jpost” by Yaakov Katz: “According to Liberman, this coalition would be similar to the one the US established ahead of the First Gulf War in 1991, but would this time include Israel… According to Liberman, this coalition would help not only in fighting terrorism but also in building trust between Israel and the Palestinians.” [JPost

TOP OF THE HILL: “Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz team up to defund UN over Israel vote” by Kyle Feldscher: “Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, appeared together on MSNBC about a new bill introduced Thursday that would block taxpayer dollars from going toward the U.N. They explained that the bill would call to stop American funding for the UN as long as Resolution 2334 stands, and to renew it only if the Security Council reverses the anti-settlements resolution.” [WashExaminer; Haaretz]

SPOTTED — Sen. Ben Sasse tweeted a photo of Sen. Lindsey Graham with a group of Chabad-Lubavitch visitors:“On the subway to the vote, Lindsey literally struck up the conversation with “Hey Fellas. I love your hats.” [Pic] • Meghan McCain, Sen. John McCain’s daughter, replied: “@BenSasse This warms my cold, dark heart.” [Twitter]

Later, Ali Rogin of ABC News tweeted: “Spotted: Sen. Al Franken passing a bunch of Hassidic Jews and breaking out in “shalom aleichem” and a dance. Made my night.” [Twitter]

“Tillerson Offers Full-Throated Support for Israel” by Aaron Magid: “Israel is, has always been, and remains our most important ally in the region,” Tillerson said. “They’re important to our national security.” Tillerson also criticized [UNSC 2234]… “The UN resolution that was passed in my view in not helpful. I think it actually undermines setting a good set of conditions for talks to continue.” The former ExxonMobil CEO said Secretary of State John Kerry’s December 28 speech on the peace process was “quite troubling because of the attacks on Israel and in many ways undermining the government of Israel itself in terms of its own legitimacy of the talks.” Earlier during his testimony, the Secretary of State nominee singled out Israel as an example of “long-standing friends who honor their promises and bolster our own national security.” [JewishInsider

Tillerson on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “If you’re negotiating with someone that denies your right to exist you’d have to question why would they ever live up to any agreement – if they don’t expect you to be around… There have been many opportunities since the Oslo Accords for parties to sit down and try to work things out. The leadership, certainly, has not seized those opportunities. I would say in the case of the Palestinian leadership, while they have renounced violence, it’s one thing to renounce it, it’s another to take concrete action to prevent it. And I think until there is a serious demonstration on their part that they are willing to do more than just renounce the violence, willing to do something to at least interrupt it or interfere with it, it’s going to be very difficult to create conditions at the table for parties to have any productive discussion around a settlement… I do think that it is a matter to be discussed and decided between the two parties, to the extent America’s Foreign Policy engagement can create a more fruitful environment for those discussions, then that’s the role we can play, but at the end of it, this has to be settled between the two parties.”

On the two-state solution: “I don’t think anyone would take a position that they don’t hope for peace in that area and for the issues to be ultimately resolved.”

Sen. Tim Kaine: “And peace within the context of a two-state solution, as it was determined by the UN and has been the bipartisan policy of the U.S. since the late 1940’s?”

Tillerson: “I think that is the dream that everyone is in pursuit of. Whether it can ever be a reality remains to be seen.”

Kaine: “What do you think from a Secretary of State’s position you could do to try to hasten the day when we could find a path forward… What might you bring to the table on that?”

Tillerson: “Sometimes it takes another generation to have a changed view. Often times, we just have to try and make the situation as stable as possible and limit the impact on people that are living there now. The Palestinian people have suffered a lot, under their own leadership in many cases, as a result of there not being more progress made. So I think it has to be a shared aspiration of all of us that that ultimately is resolved. The issues are longstanding, and I think it’s the State Department’s role to try to create an environment that brings parties together that want to find a way forward. I can tell you that under the conditions today, it’s extremely challenging to do that, but that has to be the aspirational goal. Sometimes, it takes a different generation that is not carrying all that baggage of the past with them.”

“Tillerson Calls for ‘Full Review’ of Iran Nuclear Deal” by Jenna Lifhits: “If confirmed, my recommendation … is to do a full review of that agreement as well as any number of side agreements that I understand are part of that agreement,” Tillerson said… “My understanding is the current agreement, for instance, does not deny them the ability to purchase a nuclear weapon,” he said. “It just denies them the ability to develop one. The real important question is, what comes at the end of this agreement?” he continued. “What comes at the end of this agreement must be a mechanism that does, in fact, deny Iran the ability to develop a nuclear weapon.” [TWSAl-Monitor] • Iran nuclear deal is in the crosshairs and may not survive a Trump administration [WashPost]

“Rex Tillerson Says Exxon Mobil Didn’t Lobby Against Sanctions. Public Records Suggest Otherwise” Jessica Schulberg: “Confronted by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) an architect of several Congressional sanctions bills targeting Iran, Tillerson denied that the lobbying took place. “I never lobbied against sanctions,” said Tillerson. “To my knowledge, Exxon Mobil never directly lobbied against sanctions.” … “I think you called me at the time!” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said.” [HuffPost

“Tillerson fails to win over key GOP senators by Nicole Gaouette: “Rubio — who refused to say if he would vote for Tillerson after a day of testimony — pressed the former ExxonMobil CEO hard Wednesday on a slew of human rights questions, pushing him to denounce the behavior of Russia, China, Saudi Arabia… and expressing deep disappointment when the Texan refused to do so. Rubio’s vote could make the difference in Tillerson’s progress, as Republicans have only a one-vote margin on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Democrats may not support him… Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that he is also undecided about Trump’s candidate.” [CNNMarco Rubio goes after Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Hard. [WashPost

Phil Elliott: “If confirmed, it’s highly doubtful Rex Tillerson will be inviting Marco Rubio to the State Department’s holiday party. Brutal.” [Twitter]

Aaron David Miller tells Jewish Insider: “I don’t know where Tillerson is on the issue of Israel, and I think he’s probably in the mainstream. It’s also conceivable that some of those mainstream positions would be out of step with both the R’s and the D’s on the committee. So the question is, given where his boss is, he’s got no stake whatsoever in breaking any crockery with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Israel. I think by and large the positions that he took I describe them as pro-Israel, but not excessively so. If that is where he really is on the issue of Israel, I think he also realizes that the purpose of the confirmation hearing is to survive the process and get confirmed, and he’s already facing any number of difficulties. Tillerson doesn’t need additional headaches. I just don’t think the Arab-Israeli issue is one that is at the top of his radar screen.”

ZOA’s Mort Klein, who was at the hearing, tells us: “He seemed to have a very superficial talking point knowledge of the Arab-Islamic war against Israel, but I was pleased that he said that the Palestinian terrorism against Jews is the primary problem, not the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. It was also encouraging that he understood the Iran deal is a serious problem and that he pledged to fight BDS. But it was also troubling that his criticism of the UN resolution was rather tepid and weak. I was sorry that as opposed to Trump’s platform (the GOP 2016 platform) on Israel, which doesn’t even mention the Palestinian state, that he thought ultimately that he hopes that we could reach a Palestinian statehood, which I think shows a complete lack of understanding of the Palestinian Authority’s goals. So that was disappointing but understandable.”

INBOX — NJDC statement: “Tillerson’s rhetoric would be taken more seriously on preventing a nuclear-armed Iran if he and Exxon didn’t make so much money doing business with Iran under his leadership. When it comes to the security of the United States and our dear ally Israel, golden showers mean little in comparison to Tillerson’s golden deals with Iran.”

Sen. Ben Cardin takes swipe at Trump: “I also need to stress that our important partner in this part of the world — Israel — needs more than tweets about how ‘great’ our relationship is going to be.” [CBSNews]

“Over 100 Congressmen Urge Trump to Move Embassy to Jerusalem” by Aaron Magid: “Moving the Embassy will strengthen the unique alliance between Israel and the United States and send a clear message to the world that we support Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as its eternal capital,” the lawmakers noted in the letter… The GOP officials noted that transferring the Embassy would be an appropriate response to the December United Nations Security Council resolution 2334.” [JewishInsider]

TRANSITION TOWER: “Ivanka Trump shifting gears, heading to Washington” by Catherine Lucey: “In a post on her Facebook page Wednesday, Ivanka Trump said she would take a “formal leave of absence” from her executive positions at the Trump Organization and her lifestyle brand… She also stressed her ongoing interest in issues affecting women and girls and said she would seek to determine the “most impactful and appropriate ways for me to serve our country.” The Trump team has said Ivanka Trump will divest some assets and will receive fixed payments rather than a share of the profits from the Trump Organization. She will also not be involved in the company’s Washington hotel.” [AP

“Jared Kushner’s moment: Hoping President-elect Trump’s senior adviser rises to the occasion” by NY Daily News Editorial Board: “Kushner… lacks conventional public policy experience — and it remains to be seen whether he has the chops to, say, navigate the complexities of Mideast peace. Giving cause for hope, he brings to the White House sharp intelligence, sensitive political antennae, strong relationship-building skills and an ingrained pragmatic streak likely to counter the rigid partisanship that too often infects Washington brains.” [NYDN]

“Jared Kushner Wouldn’t Be the First Powerful Son-in-Law in Presidential History” by Olivia B. Waxman: “William Gibbs McAdoo was a high-profile businessman before he went to work in Woodrow Wilson’s administration, where he served as Secretary of the Treasury. He also married the President’s daughter.” [TIME

“Mnuchin will sell investments, quit boards, if confirmed for Treasury” by Kevin McCoy: “Mnuchin, 54, listed what The Wall Street Journal estimated as $150 million-plus in holdings in a 42-page public financial disclosure report filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Tuesday. Mnuchin also pledged to divest his interests in Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings, LLC, a Hollywood movie production company he helps run with filmmaker Brett Ratner, “within 120 days of my confirmation.” Additionally, Mnuchin wrote that he would resign from positions in 42 businesses, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, “upon confirmation.”” [USAToday; WSJ]

SCENE AT TRUMP TOWER — Benjy Sarlin: “Joe Lieberman is at Trump Tower, per NBC News” [Twitter] • Tommy Vietor, former NSC spokesman under President Obama: “OF COURSE HE IS” [Twitter

“Why Donald Trump Gave Marvel’s CEO a Shout-Out in His Press Conference” by Tom Huddleston, Jr: “Trump also mentioned that Perlmutter has been “very, very involved” in advising Trump’s team on veterans affairs issues. Trump also called Perlmutter—the Israeli-American executive who became Marvel’s CEO in 2005—”one of the great men of business” in the Wednesday press conference.” [Fortune]

“How the government can crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses” by Kenneth Marcus: “When the Senate begins to consider President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to run the Department of Education, Congress should focus on the surge of anti-Semitism that continues to plague our nation’s campuses… The job of combating hate crimes on campuses falls on an obscure yet important agency in the Department of Education, called the Office for Civil Rights. It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans. But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed.” [Politico]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Criminal investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu could threaten his hold on power” by Joshua Mitnick: “After years in which the prime minister has been able shake off accusations by the Israeli press about cozy relations with wealthy Israeli and foreign benefactors, the criminal investigation has created a significant possibility that Netanyahu could be charged in the case, analysts said… Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and Wednesday told a meeting of politicians from his Likud Party, “Now that I’m aware of all the details, I can say: There will be nothing because there was nothing.’’” [LATimes

“Herzog Associates Would Back ex-Likud Lawmaker as PM if Netanyahu Forced to Resign” by Yossi Verter: “Zionist Union MKs close to the party’s leader, MK Isaac Herzog, have suggested Kulanu leader and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon as prime minister. “With me, ego isn’t a problem,” Herzog said on Wednesday.” [Haaretz]

“Netanyahu: Middle East peace talks are a rigged move against Israel” by Peter Beaumont: “This conference is a fraud, a Palestinian scam under French auspices, whose goal is to lead to the adoption of additional anti-Israeli positions,” said Netanyahu at the beginning of a meeting with the Norwegian foreign minister, Børg Brende, on Thursday. “This pushes peace backwards. It’s not going to obligate us. It’s a relic of the past. It’s a last gasp of the past before the future sets in.” [Guardian]

ACROSS THE POND: “UK top diplomat admits to helping draft anti-settlement UN resolution” by Stuart Winer: “I remind the House that the UK was closely involved in its drafting, although of course it was an Egyptian-generated resolution,” [Boris] Johnson said on Tuesday, according to a transcript of the proceedings. “We supported it only because it contained new language pointing out the infamy of terrorism that Israel suffers every day, not least on Sunday, when there was an attack in Jerusalem.” [ToI]

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

SPOTLIGHT: “Billionaire George Soros Lost Nearly $1 Billion in Weeks After Trump Election” by Gregory Zuckerman and Juliet Chung: “Stanley Druckenmiller, Soros’s former deputy who helped Soros score $1 billion of profits betting against the British pound in 1992, anticipated the market’s recent climb and racked up sizable gains, according to people close to the matter… Last year, Soros returned to trading at Soros Fund Management LLC, which manages about $30 billion for Soros and his family.” [WSJ]

“The Inside Story of BitTorrent’s Bizarre Collapse” by Jessi Hempel: “As a child on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Bram Cohen was smart, introverted, and strange. “I knew I was weird,” Cohen once told FORTUNE, explaining that he got frustrated trying to interact with other people. “I can really remember lots of stories in my life — things that it’s really obvious to me now what was going on, but I didn’t realize it back then because I didn’t understand people very well.” He graduated from Stuyvesant High School. But for all of his ability to focus, his grades were dismal… In his mid 20s, having worked a string of dot-com jobs, Cohen spent the better part of nine months hunched over a Dell keyboard at his dining room table, consumed by a puzzle he could only solve by writing code and more code. He lived off his savings, and later credit cards… The result, of course, was the open-source protocol BitTorrent.” [BackChannel]

STARTUP NATION: “Slow Internet Threatens Israel’s Start-Up Status” by Gwen Ackerman: “The future of internet in Israel may depend on allowing a reorganization of Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp., despite concerns the move could undermine years of efforts to make the local market more competitive. “If we don’t move ahead with a national fiber-optic infrastructure, Israel’s internet will get stuck in another two or three years,” Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, whose brief includes Bezeq, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Without the advanced network, we’re in danger of going from Start-Up Nation to Stuck-Up Nation.”” [Bloomberg]

“Old Espionage Ruse, With a Modern Twist: Israelis Say Hamas Used Online Seduction” by Isabel Kershner: “It usually started with a bit of cyberflirting. A direct message was sent through Facebook or another social network from an unknown woman to an Israeli soldier’s smartphone. Then, according to Israeli military officials, it developed into a chat in flawless Hebrew, heavily peppered with millennial slang… Instead, senior Israeli intelligence officials said on Wednesday, they were Hamas operatives who set up fake profiles and trawled social networks, befriending naïve soldiers and enticing them to download applications that effectively turned their cellphones into tracking devices and tools for spying.” [NYTimes]

“The enduring spirit of the Sotloffs” by Danielle Berrin: “On Jan. 8, they finally broke their silence in their first public interview since Steven’s murder in September 2014, appearing on the CBS program “60 Minutes.”  The first thing Lesley Stahl asked them was if they had seen their son’s “savage and shocking” beheading, recorded on video and broadcast for the world to see.  “I have viewed Steven’s body with his head on his chest,” Art [Sotloff] said. “I had to see that because I needed to be sure that that was him,” Shirley added. Their resilience is a testament not only to the power of faith itself but to a lived Judaism that is more embodied than practiced. They have lived the words of the Psalm we speak at every funeral: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death … ”” [JewishJournal]

Where to go on holiday if you want to meet the heavy hitters: “On his most recent trip to Israel, Elisha Wiesel said Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning, for his father Elie Wiesel. “I always feel like I’m coming home,” Wiesel said of his trips to the land of milk and honey. The family toured the country for 10 days, with the kids floating in the Dead Sea, going to the top of Masada, picking kumquats, and eating falafel. “You have a high-tech industry sitting footsteps from archaeological digs,” said Wiesel of the country’s appeal… Many assume a trip to India requires at least a full week on the ground. But Marc Rowan, co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and his family, including designer wife Carolyn Rowan and their three kids, did it in just five days with the help of a top-notch guide. They focused on the state of Rajasthan, where they visited Jaipur and Udaipur, and then visited the Taj Mahal at Agra in the nearby state of Uttar Pradesh.” [IrishTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “Barstool Sports’ David Portnoy compares Roger Goodell going to Foxboro with Hitler visiting Israel” by Weei: “Portnoy also explained he can understand Goodell’s hesitation to come to Foxboro considering the commish’s status in New England. “It should be risky and I don’t think it’s because of anything I said or what anybody else has said. It’s because what that jerk has done,” Portnoy said. “We’re responding to him. That’s like Hitler killed a bazzalion Jews and he goes to Israel and they thought it would be a great spot for him.”” [TheMashup]

BIRTHDAYS: US-born biochemist, moved to Israel in 1973 after being granted an M.D. and Ph.D. from NYU, winner of the Israel Prize (1999), professor (now emeritus) at Hebrew U in Jerusalem, Howard (“Chaim”) Cedar turns 74… Israeli-born, raised in London from age 13, jewelry designer, editor, and businesswoman who was the First Lady of Iceland (2003-2016), Dorrit Moussaieff turns 67… Philanthropist and Chair of the Board of Directors of Hillel International, Tina Price… Author of over 40 books, most widely recognized for his crime fiction, Walter Mosley turns 65… Radio personality since 1976, on terrestrial bandwidth until 2005 and on Sirius (now Sirius XM) since 2006, producer, author, actor, and photographer, Howard Stern turns 63… Identical twin comedians and actors, Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar, turn 45… Director of the West Coast office of Jewish Funders Network, previously Western States Counsel for the ADL and a consultant for DreamWorks on the film “The Prince of Egypt,” Tzivia Schwartz Getzug… Deputy Director of AIPAC’s Leadership Institute, Jonathan Schulman… Daniel Silvermintz

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PHOTO: REUTERS

Over 100 Congressmen Urge Trump to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Thursday, January 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – More than 100 GOP Congressman wrote a letter on Wednesday to President-elect Donald Trump advising him to transfer the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem….

Donald Trump during press conference at Trump Tower - Photo by Jacob Kornbluh

ADL Calls on Trump to Apologize for ‘Nazi Germany’ Reference

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) slammed President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday for comparing U.S. intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany. “The President-Elect’s use of Nazi Germany to make a political analogy…

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WASHINGTON – After the House quickly passed on January 6 a measure condemning the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for resolution 2234 critical of Israel, a similar bill…

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Christians United for Israel Orchestrates Fly-In on UNSC Resolution

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Friday, January 6, 2017

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Screenshot via YouTube/IsraeliPM

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