Daily Kickoff: ‘They’re Morons’ — Trump’s Ambassador to Israel describing the ADL | Erekat goes after Friedman | Tensions in FL over Dem Party Chairs

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TOP TALKER: “Trump’s Ambassador to Israel on ADL: ‘They’re Morons’” by Jacob Kornbluh: “In an interview with Jewish Insider on the eve of the election, Friedman referred to leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “morons” for condemning Trump’s campaign rhetoric and commercials that were perceived as dog-whistles to his anti-Semitic supporters… “Again, this is what happens when people take these insane arguments to their logical extension. They lose all credibility, and frankly, they sound like morons. That’s what these people are. They’re morons.” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, in Friedman’s eyes, is “somebody who I believe is far left, who was a well-known supporter of J Street.”

— “Friedman indicated that while Trump would seek to develop a working relationship with AIPAC and mainstream Jewish American organizations, ADL would not be welcome at a Trump White House. “[Trump] has great respect for AIPAC, and I think he will maintain a very good relationship with AIPAC… I don’t think the ADL is one of them, but there are plenty of middle of the road, centrist Jewish organizations that he will be on very good terms with,” Friedman added.” [JewishInsider

ADL responds in an email to Jewish Insider: “ADL is not in the left-wing or right-wing of the Jewish community but proud to stand in the center where we have been for more than 100 years. We have always been and continue to be a centrist organization. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt is not “far left” nor a “well-known supporter of J Street.” He has never worked for J Street nor donated money to the organization… ADL hopes to engage optimistically with the incoming president we have done with previous presidents from both political parties since Woodrow Wilson. At the same time, ADL will not relent on our issues – fighting anti-Semitism, battling bigotry and securing justice and fair treatment to all.”

Andrew Weinstein tells us: “I can’t speak for the ADL, but his comments are beyond outrageous. The United States Ambassador to Israel must be a serious diplomat, not someone who viciously attacks those he disagrees with. In a time where anti-Semitism is on the rise, the American Jewish community must stand together. Friedman’s careless rhetoric only emboldens those whose goal is to delegitimize organizations like the ADL. Donald Trump should withdraw his nomination and if he fails to do that, the senate should reject him.”

Elliott Abrams: “I am delighted that the United States will soon have an envoy who can do what the Israeli ambassador in Washington can do: call home and speak to the top guy. I’m very pleased that we’ll have an ambassador who has known the country to which he is accredited for decades and won’t need briefing books to learn its geography.” [CFR]

J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami writes in the Washington Post: “On behalf of my father-in-law, who drove trucks through gunfire in 1948 to break the siege of Jerusalem, and my parents, who are buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, I will do everything I can to expunge rhetoric such as Friedman’s from my community’s debate over Israel. And as an American, I will do everything I can to ensure that my country is never represented in my family’s homeland by someone who treats people in a way that is anathema to the Jewish and democratic values on which I was raised.” [WashPost

Jason Greenblatt, co-chair of Trump’s Israel advisory committee: “I have known David for years and I am consistently impressed by his intelligence and excellent judgment. President-elect Trump chose David and me to serve as Co-Chairmen of the Israel Advisory Committee during the campaign because he wanted advice from people who know and love Israel. Having worked on this committee with David for months, I know that President-elect Trump got exactly what he wanted: David has tremendous passion for and devotion to Israel. David’s appointment is proof positive that President-elect Trump will be a true friend to Israel.”

Vivian Bercovici, former Canadian ambassador to Israel: “Mr. Friedman is not anointed to go rogue and indulge in personal fantasies. When I was appointed as Canada’s ambassador to Israel in 2014 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I was attacked by the press much as Mr. Friedman is today. Why? Because I am Jewish and was therefore supposedly biased toward Israel. This was seen as vitiating any competence or skill I might have brought to the job.” [WSJ

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: Erekat Launches Personal Attack Against Friedman” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “By Monday, Erekat appeared to change his tone. “With such a move by Mr. Trump, he says that there is no longer a two-state solution when he sends an ambassador like David Friedman to the region… For God’s sake, what is going on?” … Last week, Erekat and a senior Palestinian delegation came to Washington… Jewish Insider asked Erekat about the outcome of these meetings, but the chief Palestinian negotiator clarified, “We did not meet with any of the Trump people. I don’t know any of them as a matter of fact. We tried, but we did not get the chance to meet with any of them.” It appears from Erekat’s answer that Trump officials turned down the Palestinian delegation’s request for a meeting… “I am still the chief negotiator for the Palestinians. If the (US) Embassy moved to Jerusalem, I will not be the negotiator anymore,” he added.” [JewishInsider]

Jordan Hirsch: “Can someone count how many times Saeb Erekat has threatened to or actually quit? Wait: Matthew Kalman did! Amazing” [Twitter]

Wary Saudis silent as Trump’s Israel position takes shape” by Bruce Riedel: “The Saudi reaction to Friedman’s appointment has thus far been quiet. The news was reported there with little comment, suggesting Salman is waiting to see what comes next and will give the incoming team time to carefully consider its decision on Jerusalem… The Saudis probably expect that the president-elect’s nominees for secretary of state and secretary of defense may have a different view. Rex Tillerson and James Mattis, respectively, are likely to understand the regional implications of changing American policy toward Jerusalem.” [Al-Monitor]

“Netanyahu Sees Opportunity for ‘Historic Change’ With Trump Administration” by Barak Ravid: “Netanyahu’s great expectations of Trump stemmed from what Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and acting National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel heard from Michael Flynn… Both men met with Flynn in the United States earlier this month. Since then, Netanyahu has said repeatedly that their meeting with Flynn was excellent, and that what they heard from him constituted a “turning point” in American foreign policy in general, and toward Israel and the broader Middle East in particular… “There’s an opportunity here,” the minister quoted Netanyahu as saying. “We can effect historic change.” … The Flynn meeting convinced Netanyahu and several other ministers that Israeli policy needs to be adjusted in light of Trump’s election win.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu planning unprecedented new construction during Trump reign [Jpost]

“Divergence Grows in the America-Israel Relationship” by Shalom Lipner: “Concomitantly, in a twist of historic proportions, America’s First Family will now include Jews of its own. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared, and their children affiliate with Modern Orthodoxy—a minority among American Jewry… While this may shift the White House toward greater appreciation of Israeli thinking on issues of religion and state, it will ironically widen the void between the dominant forces of contemporary Judaism: progressives in America and traditionalists in Israel.” [TheAtlantic• WATCH: Panelists debate Trump and the Jews [JewishJournal]

TRANSITION TOWER — “Trump’s Treasury Pick Moves in Secretive Hedge Fund Circles” by Matthew Goldstein and Alexander Stevenson: “Days after being tapped by Mr. Trump to be his finance chairman in May, Mr. Mnuchin flew out to a hedge fund conference at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. There, in a swirl of rock concerts, pool parties and casino nights, he schmoozed with billionaires. Mr. Mnuchin dined with Kenneth C. Griffin, the Chicago hedge fund titan, and government veterans like David H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director and retired general, and John A. Boehner, the former House speaker. He shook hands with Leon Cooperman, a 73-year-old pioneer in the industry and another Goldman Sachs alumnus. The courting paid off: Not long after the hedge fund conference, Mr. Mnuchin helped bring the billionaire investor John A. Paulson on as a donor, as well as Wilbur L. Ross Jr., now Mr. Trump’s commerce secretary nominee.” [NYTimes

“Trump team plans for infrastructure ‘task force’ to advance top spending priority” by Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson: “Key members of Trump’s team — including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, senior counselor Stephen K. Bannon, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and Gary Cohn, whom Trump has tapped to head the National Economic Council — are all involved in the discussions.” [WashPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “Where will Ivanka Trump attend synagogue? Georgetown’s Kesher Israel close to White House is one option” by Julie Zauzmer and Colby Itkowitz: “At Chabad, Rabbi Levi Shemtov would not discuss with a reporter whether or not Kushner and Trump had spoken with him about attending his synagogue. The consensus among many in the District’s Modern Orthodox community is that Kesher Israel seems the best option for the couple… “I can tell you unequivocally that Ivanka and Jared and their family will be welcomed at Kesher Israel. We’re there to daven [pray] and live a Jewish life together, not to re-litigate the election,” said [Aaron] Keyak… “It might be that the gabbai was during the week working against you on a campaign but now is calling you up for an aliyah,” he said.” [WashPost]

DNC WATCH – “Keith Ellison’s one-man march” by Glenn Thrush: “Soon after, reporters unearthed 2010 comments about how Israel, “a country of seven million,” dominates U.S. policy in the Mideast — prompting a denunciation from the head of the Anti-Defamation League and Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban, casting his coronation into sudden and serious doubt. “Everything is fair game and it’s interesting … [But] I’m 53 years old,” Ellison said during this week’s episode of POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast – adding that his fondness for the Nation of Islam movement began as a student and lapsed soon after. “I have four kids. My youngest child is 20. Some of the things they want to hit me for, I was younger than her when I wrote them. And so, come on. At some point, we all are human beings who have evolved over the course of 25 years, and yet we want to freeze each other in time.”” [Politico]

“Israel-Palestine tensions ripple through Democratic Party chair races” by Marc Caputo and Daniel Strauss: “Top Jewish fundraisers and activists in Florida have a message for the politicians who want to lead the Democratic Party: Support for the Palestinian cause at the expense of Israel is politically toxic. Few issues have torn at the fabric of party unity recently like the past stances on Israel taken by Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and former Miami state Sen. Dwight Bullard…. And in a surprise move, Ellison last week endorsed Bullard’s Miami rival, Stephen Bittel, a DNC finance chair who is Jewish.”

“If we elect the Dwight Bullards and we elect the Keith Ellisons to leadership rolls in our party, the Republicans are going to make significant inroads in the Jewish community,” said Michael Moskowitz, a staunch South Florida supporter of Israel who estimates he raises about $1 million every election cycle for Democrats. “The Democratic Party will just be going in the wrong direction on this issue if we do this. And so will our nation,” Moskowitz said. “With all the turmoil in the Middle East, Israel is our only true democratic ally.” Moskowitz and other donors say they’ll withhold support for the local, state and national parties if either man wins a leadership spot.” [PoliticoFL]

STATESIDE: “Ohio 14th state to pass anti-BDS bill” by Amanda Koehn: “Gov. John Kasich signed a bill on Dec. 19 that will prohibit a state agency from contracting with companies that boycott or disinvest from Israel… The bill also included language that will increase from 1 to 2 percent the amount of funds the state treasurer or country treasurers are allowed to invest in foreign bonds meeting specified criteria, including Israel Bonds.” [ClevelandJN] • Early poll shows Josh Mandel with big lead in 2018 Republican Ohio primary for U.S. Senate [Cleveland]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Mark Zuckerberg Spent 100 Hours Building His Own Robot Butler [VanityFair]  Brothers Menachem and Sholomke Nagar Unveil Axanya, The Jewish Answer to Airbnb [CHInfo] • New Jersey Aims to Punish Billionaire Carl Icahn for Closing Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City [NBC10• What Jonah Peretti thinks is next for BuzzFeed [Recode]

STARTUP NATION: “Exploring The Growing Asia-Israel Links For Venture Capital and Fund-Raising” by Rebecca Fannin: “In the latest example of cross-regional Israel-Asia venture capital deals, Hong Kong-based Arbor Ventures has led a $9.5 million, Series A investment in EverCompliant, a cyber intelligence company in Tel Aviv that’s a leader in detecting and preventing transaction laundering. This is Arbor Venture’s third investment in Israel – a $10 million, Series A round in January 2016 in TravelersBox, and an investment in a fraud prevention startup Forter.” [Forbes]

SPOTLIGHT: “How Jennifer Rubin went from Romney ‘shill’ to Trump scourge” by by Tom Kludt: “I think Donald Trump lacks the moral core and appreciation for American values that we have come to expect from every president,” Rubin told CNNMoney in a phone interview last week. “He has normalized racism, misogyny, xenophobia and nativism. This is not someone who should be president of the United States,” she added with more than a little resignation. “But he will be.” Rubin seems unfazed by the idea of alienating fellow conservatives who support Trump, saying she is “not a team player.” “My role is not to champion or encourage anyone with an ‘R’ after their name,” she said. “My views and analysis remain the same.” [CNNMoney]

BROADWAY: “‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Is Shaping Up to Be a Hit” by Michael Paulson: “Dear Evan Hansen,” with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a book by Steven Levenson and direction by Michael Greif, had multiple obstacles to overcome. It is an original musical with an unfamiliar title in a market dominated by adaptations and revivals; it has no major celebrities in its cast; and the subject matter is dark. But the show built a fan base through pre-Broadway productions at Arena Stage in Washington and Second Stage off Broadway, and a powerhouse performance by 23-year-old Ben Platt (best known for the “Pitch Perfect” movies) in the title role has helped make the show a must-see. The show grossed $1,051,248 during the week that ended Sunday.” [NYTimes]

“Watch a Broadway-Worthy Hanukkah Parody of the Hamilton Musical” by Olivia B. Waxman: “The Maccabeats debuts its 2016 Hanukkah song on Time.com, a music video parodying the soundtrack of the Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton called “Hasmonean,” which was the ancient Judean dynasty established by the Maccabees in the first and second centuries B.C.” [TIME]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: As many in Israel are counting the days until January 20th, two members of the Trump transition team arrived in the Holy Land this week. Becky Norton Dunlop, the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a member of the Trump Transition Team, was one of the keynote speakers yesterday at the second Jerusalem leaders’ summit, an annual gathering of conservative politicians and businessmen from Europe, India and the United States, focusing on foreign policy issues and the rule of law.

Meanwhile John Horne, an Arkansas financier and Bush family confidante, who is also a member of the Trump transition team, made the rounds in the corridors of the Knesset. He appeared in front of the 8th Leadership Dialogue between Australia, Israel and the UK, and was then accompanied by Co-Chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel Mark Zell and the campaign managers Zvika Brot and Ariel Sander to meetings with MKs and cabinet ministers.

Kafe Knesset to Becky Norton Dunlop: Is this basically the end of policy differences between Israel and the US on the Middle East? Dunlop: “I would say that Donald Trump has a different vision of what he hopes to achieve in the Middle East than Barack Obama had, I’m not sure that I know it all or anybody really knows all the pieces that would come together. But I do think he views Israel as an anchor point in the Middle East for US relations and I think he views his ability to establish working relationships with some of the other leaders in the Middle East as being something that could move us beyond in the current conflicts. In other words, he will seek to reach out to the President of Egypt and the leadership of Saudi Arabia and the King of Jordan and the Kurds. I think he is going to have a very aggressive agenda for examining where he wants to go in the Middle East and how to get there and I think Israel is in the middle of it.”

SCENE LAST NIGHT in LA: The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles welcomed elected officials and community leaders for an early Hanukkah party with Mayor Eric Garcetti.  Federation Board Chair Julie Platt, CEO Jay Sanderson, Board Member Jesse Gabriel, and Rabbi David Wolpe spoke about the themes of holiday and the Federation’s community work. Guests included District Attorney Jackie Lacey, State Senator Ben Allen, Congressmember-elect Nannette Barragan, Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and David Ryu, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, JPAC Chair Cece Feiler, Ada Horwich, Howard Welinsky, Frank Maas, Rochelle Cohen and many other community leaders.

BIRTHDAYS: Founder of an on-line childrens bookstore featuring titles in a variety of languages, Yona Eckstein turns 75… Illusionist, magician, television personality and self-proclaimed psychic, Uri Geller turns 70… Actor, producer, screenwriter and comedian, Jonah Hill (full name Jonah Hill Feldstein) turns 33… Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Jeremy Burton… Carol Berk… Bob Lindenbaum

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