Daily Kickoff: Spotlight on AIPAC in the Age of Trump | Reed Cordish set to join Trump Admin | ‘Jerusalem-First Option’ | Israel’s flying car drone

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “No One Is Afraid of AIPAC” by Armin Rosen: “At first blush, at least, a Trump presidency promises everything that AIPAC, America’s largest pro-Israel lobbying group, could ever wish for… In reality, Trump poses a string of new problems for AIPAC. “There’s definitely no question that it was better and easier for [AIPAC] if Hillary won,” said one Democratic strategist recently. “Policy is only part of it. It would’ve been an opportunity or their best chance at hitting reset for Democrats… In this new world where J Street really is a pro-Israel validator for segments of the Democrats and the Zionist Organization of America is a validator for segments of the Republicans, what’s AIPAC role?” the strategist wondered…”

“AIPAC’s mea culpa displeased the Trump team and Kushner himself, and the episode seems unlikely to be forgotten by a president who is infamous for holding grudges… Nor are AIPAC’s bipartisan policy prescriptions likely to convince Trump that AIPAC is a natural ally. For example, the 2016 Republican Party platform makes no mention of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, undermining AIPAC’s long-time bipartisan two-state doctrine, which soon mysteriously disappeared from sections of the organization’s website. The views of David Friedman, Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, are well to the right of AIPAC’s. The White House and the Israeli government might find it convenient to ignore a flagship pro-Israel lobbying organization that likes to advertise its influence and which serves as a lightning rod for attacks on Jewish political power from both the left and the right.” [TabletMag]

Trump’s Israel Ambassador David Friedman told Jewish Insider in November: “I think that he has great respect for AIPAC,” Friedman said of Trump, who is now President-elect. “AIPAC does wonderful things, not just in terms of running the conference and in being an advocate for the interests of Israel, but also I think of the role it plays in educating people about Israel, I think in a very balanced way. He has great respect for AIPAC, and I think he will maintain a very good relationship with AIPAC. I think as well, AIPAC is a good example, but I think there are other Jewish organizations as well that he has great respect for.” [JewishInsider]

SCOOP: “Reed Cordish set to join Trump Administration: Sources” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Questions remain whether Jared Kushner will join the incoming Trump Administration in a formal White House role. While lawyers are left to address anti-nepotism law questions, Kushner is busying himself with helping close friends line up West Wing positions… Reed Cordish is the son of David Cordish, CEO and Chairman of Cordish Companies… David Cordish also serves as a member of AIPAC’s National Board. This is notable, as some around the Trump campaign — particularly Jared Kushner himself — were upset over AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus’s apology at the organization’s Policy Conference last year…”

“A week after Trump launched his campaign for the Republican nomination, Cordish convinced his friend to keynote the Maryland GOP’s Annual Dinner, held at a Marriott near BWI Airport. Introducing Trump, Cordish recalled how he asked Ivanka if she had a twin sister who could date his youngest son, Reed. Instead, Ivanka set the junior Cordish up with one of her best friends from college, Margaret Katz. The couple married in 2010 in the backyard of what was to be their future Baltimore home, with Jared and Ivanka in attendance.” [JewishInsider] • Pic of Jared & Ivanka at Reed Cordish’s wedding [JI-Pic]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner have found their D.C. home” by Helena Andrews-Dyer: “The couple’s new six-bedroom home is on Tracy Place NW, just blocks from the house the Obamas will be renting during their bonus two-year stint in the District… The house is within close walking distance of TheShul at Chabad-Lubavitch Center… Washington Fine Properties represented both sides in the transaction, according to Washingtonian magazine.” [WashPost; Washingtonian]  

TOP TALKER: “In Graft Inquiry, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Worst Enemy May Be Himself,” by Isabel Kershner and Peter Baker: “Abraham Diskin, a political scientist at the Academic Center of Law and Science outside Tel Aviv who has advised Mr. Netanyahu, said on Tuesday that it was “not very clear that Netanyahu is going to escape some kind of indictment.” And “once there is an indictment,” Professor Diskin added, “he will have to resign.” Details of the graft investigation remain murky — “the truth is that we don’t know anything,” Professor Diskin said — but the questions it raises are clear: Could an appetite for high living abetted by wealthy business executives ultimately undercut Mr. Netanyahu as it has so many other politicians in Israel and around the globe?” [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “Chuck Schumer: Trump opposition leader” by Dana Bash and Abigail Crutchfield: “The only way we’re going to work with him is if he moves completely in our direction and abandons his Republican colleagues,” Schumer said. “90-95% of the time, we’ll be holding his feet to the fire, holding him accountable. But we’re Democrats, we’re not going to just oppose things to oppose them,” he added… Over the past several years, Schumer has tried to be more disciplined. He’s more likely to either be on his cell phone in the Capitol hallways, or pretend to be, in order to avoid talking to reporters… Though he proudly declared that he bought a new suit for his first day as leader, he is clearly still the same rumpled guy who slept for 30-plus years on a mattress next to the kitchen in a rundown group house owned by former Rep. George Miller. He now lives in an apartment, which is why he told us he is excited to have a large balcony outside his Capitol office.” [CNN] • Inside Schumer’s inner circle [Politico]

Jacob Kornbluh:.”Sen. Schumer does the ‘Birchat Kohanim’ sign at swearing in #ShomerYisrael.” [Twitter

ON THE HILL: “GOP Senators Introduce Legislation to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “The bill brought by Dean Heller (R-NV), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) also withholds some of the State Department’s funds until the embassy is relocated to Jerusalem.“It is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel,” Cruz declared… “The Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act” comes on the heels of other pro-Israel measures advocated by the 115th Congress including a bill that condemns the United Nations for passing Security Council resolution 2234 criticizing Israeli settlements.” [JewishInsider]

Politico/Morning Consult poll: “Just 43% had heard not much or nothing about the U.N.’s resolution condemning Israel for building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Voters are split on whether Israel is right to build in those disputed areas. 28% support it, 28% say it’s illegal and 44% said they didn’t know or had no opinion. This shows a disconnect with Capitol Hill, which is working this week to condemn the U.N. resolution.” [Playbook]

“Abbas Says Trump Will Not Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Threatens Response if He Does” by Barak Ravid: “We are acting with patience and restraint in the face of president-elect Trump’s statements,” the source at the meeting quoted Abbas as saying. “We understand that things that are said during a campaign do not necessarily reflect the reality of his term. I do not believe that he will move the embassy to Jerusalem. Even he understands that this is a step with irreversible and broad significance beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [Haaretz]

HEARD YESTERDAY: State Department spokesman John Kirby on CNN: “We’re not privy to any moves, any decisions or active efforts to go ahead and move the embassy. If that’s happening, and I’m certainly in no position to judge, we’re not aware of specific moves that are being made to that end. Our position has been and remains that moving the embassy is not constructive to the peace process, it’s not the right thing to do.” [Twitter

“Huckabee visits West Bank: ‘Build Israel Great Again’” by Oren Liebermann: “Standing in front of a bright red banner reading “Build Israel Great Again,” former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee… held a hat with the same catchphrase, and said he would bring one to Trump, whose campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” was the inspiration for the Maale Adumim banner. Huckabee told CNN that he rejected the use of the word “settlements.” “I think Israel has title deed to Judea and Samaria,” said Huckabee…”There’s no such thing as a settlement. They’re communities, they’re neighborhoods, they’re cities. There’s no such thing as an occupation.”” [CNN] • Huckabee on US action on UN vote and Kerry speech: ‘Cowardly betrayal of Israel’ [JPost

“A Zionist Weighs in on Trump’s Israel Stance” by Matthew Stein: “What does Mort Klein expect from the Trump administration and the future of US-Israel relations? We caught up with him at his home in Boca Raton to find out… It has given enormous power to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on campuses. Now they’ll be screaming that Israel is violating international law. The Arabs will feel encouraged. But the resolution has also galvanized most Jews, even those who are liberal, to say this is an outrage. They’ve lost sympathy for liberal Democrats like Obama and will now be more inclined to accept rational centrist positions they would have refused only a week ago.”

— ZOA President on increase of anti-Semitic acts since Trump’s election: “Trump loves Jews and Israel. [Trump’s chief strategist Stephen] Bannon loves Jews and Israel. Trump’s daughter and grandchildren are Orthodox Jews. I don’t know why there’s been an increase. But I think it’s important for Trump to make a major policy speech condemning racism and anti-Semitism in all its forms and to make it clear we’re going to crack down on this.”

— Klein on what will happen if Trump moves the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem: “Initially the Arab world will be screaming, because they think politically they have to, but I don’t think they really give a damn….Their biggest fear is of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and they know Israel can help them with that.” [Ozy]

“After Kerry’s Speech, Is the Two-State Solution Dead?” by Aaron David Miller: “As we’ve seen with the Arab Spring, Brexit and the rise of Mr. Trump, life is full of surprises. And it would be premature to pronounce the two-state solution dead and buried. More likely, it will remain trapped for the foreseeable future in a kind of twilight zone – too important to abandon, at least rhetorically, on one hand, yet just too difficult to implement on the other.” [WSJ]

“The Jerusalem-First Option” by Martin Indyk: “In previous peace talks, negotiations over the status of Jerusalem have been left for last, when progress on the other, less contentious issues might have made each side more amenable to accepting the legitimacy of the other side’s aspirations in the holy city. The new president, who seems attracted to disruption, can break this rule, using the embassy move to jump-start the moribund peace negotiations and deal with the thorniest issue first.” [NYTimes]

“Kissinger’s Washington Is Coming Back Around” by Eli Lake: “Officials with Donald Trump’s transition team tell me Kissinger has spent several hours since the election advising incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and his team. He’s also putting his network in place. He recommended his former assistant, K.T. McFarland, to be Flynn’s deputy, and urged Trump to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, as his secretary of state. Kissinger is one of the few people in Trump’s orbit who can get him on the phone whenever he wants, according to one transition adviser.” [Bloomberg]


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DEEP DIVE: “The Trader Seeking Revenge Against U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara” by Bethany McLean: “The anger is always lurking just below the surface for David Ganek. And as the pugnacious money manager begins to recount the events that led him to lose his hedge fund business, his influence as a patron of contemporary art, his status in Manhattan society, and some of his longtime friends, it threatens to boil over… The primary target of Ganek’s ire is Preet Bharara. Ganek’s suit has set up a potentially explosive confrontation—one that reads like an episode of the Showtime drama Billions—between an unlikely set of characters. And the implications for the chief protagonists on each side could be profound on both personal and professional fronts.” [FortuneMag]

MEDIA WATCH: “Gary Vaynerchuk Acquires Women’s Publisher PureWow” by Steven Perlberg: “Over the past few years, media companies ranging from BuzzFeed to Vice to the New York Times have expanded their in-house units that act like advertising agencies and work with big marketers. Increasingly, agencies are counteracting and creating editorial properties of their own, reaching new audiences across social media platforms. Now one well-known agency entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, is outright acquiring a publisher: PureWow, a lifestyle digital media company focused on “upper” millennial and Gen-X women.” [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION: “Israel’s ‘flying car’ passenger drone moves closer to delivery” by Elana Ringler: The Cormorant, billed as a flying car, is capable of transporting 500kg (around half a tonne) of weight and traveling at 185 km (115 miles) per hour… Developers Urban Aeronautics believe the dark green drone, which uses internal rotors rather than helicopter propellers, could evacuate people from hostile environments and/or allow military forces safe access. “Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and chemical substance of something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come into a street and decontaminate an area,” Urban Aeronautics founder and CEO Rafi Yoeli told Reuters.” [Reuters

FORBES 30 UNDER 30: “Meet The Consumer Technology 30 Under 30 Class Of 2017” by Ryan Mac: “As the 29-year-old CEO of San Francisco-based Doppler Labs and a member of the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 Consumer Technology list, Noah Kraft is attempting to forge his way through the unforgiving world of consumer hardware by developing new forms of audio wearables. Thus far, he’s been relatively successful, with one product launched and another on the way after a slight production delay. “With a software company, you can launch something and then you can rewrite the code,” he says. “You can make changes on the fly and really iterate.”” [Forbes] • Congrats to Ryan Melohn, co-founder of Expansion VC on making this year’s list [Forbes]

“Next Stop, Hawaii: Sheldon Adelson Sets Record With 18-hour Flight From Israel” by Gili Melnitcki: “Seventeen hours and 40 minutes – that’s the length, according to estimates, flown by American Jewish billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson after his departure from Israel on Monday in his private plane to Honolulu, Hawaii. The lengthy journey coincidentally set a record for the longest flight to ever depart from Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport… According to various reports, Adelson’s plane is personalized to his needs… Such a long flight requires the presence of multiple air crews on the plane, meaning that besides Adelson and his enterouge, as least three pilots must have been on board. It’s unkown if Adelson’s wife accompanied her husband on the record-setting flight.” [Haaretz]

“Mark Zuckerberg’s personal challenge this year is to travel all around the U.S. meeting new people” by Kurt Wagner: “By Zuckerberg’s estimation, that means he’ll need to travel to 30 states in 2017. (He’s already visited and met people in 20 of them apparently.) “After a tumultuous last year, my hope for this challenge is to get out and talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. He added that he hopes to meet with teachers and scientists and visit small towns and universities throughout the year.” [Recode

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Its been dubbed as “the trial of the century”: the legal procedures against Elor Azaria, the 19 year old IDF soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last March have been catching the Israeli public’s attention for months and reached a milestone today, as a Tel Aviv military court decided to convict him of manslaughter. Three judges stated he killed the wounded Palestinian terrorist with no reason. For over two and a half hours, the judges read out the verdict, while hundreds of right wing demonstrators protested outside, clashing with police and chanting slogans against Palestinians, the left and liberal media. Even a Trump banner was spotted in the crowd.

The Elor Azaria case has divided Israeli society in recent months, exposing painful rifts and tensions between the military establishment and the political echelon.  Right wing politicians, including the PM himself, have embraced Azaria’s cause, and spoken out against the swift condemnation of his actions by the IDF leadership and former defense minister Moshe Yaalon. The affair is considered the main cause for last year’s biggest political tremor, when Netanyahu decided to fire Yaalon and replace him with Avigdor Liberman, and has prompted strong attacks against the IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who has insisted Azaria’s behaviour must be denounced. The verdict will not put an end to the political brouhaha: even before the final decision was read out, right wing politicians attacked the army and MKs started petitioning for his immediate pardon. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“In Israel, ultra-Orthodox artists start to make their mark” by Sara Toth Stub: “Once an anomaly, even featured on the Israeli evening news for his own art and for teaching his cheder students to draw, Brim is now among a growing number of Haredi artists contributing to Jerusalem’s contemporary art scene. More Haredi artists are participating in exhibitions, public art initiatives and seeking academic and professional training in the field. In addition to joining existing institutions, they are also carving out their own spaces, opening studios and galleries that cater specifically to their community’s needs for modesty and separation of the genders.” [TabletMag]

BIRTHDAYS: English celebrity chef, restaurateur and television star, Rick Stein turns 70… Founder and president of the Alliance for Justice in 1979, a progressive judicial advocacy group, after earlier stints at the EEOC (1973-76) and the ACLU (1976-79), Nan Aron turns 69… CEO since June 2001 of the Federation of American Hospitals, the advocacy organization for investor-owned hospitals, Charles N. (“Chip”) Kahn III turns 65… Member of Knesset since 1999, chairperson of Meretz (5 seats in the current Knesset) since 2012, Zehava Gal-On (born in Vilna, Lithuania as Zehava Schnipitzky) turns 61… Comedian, satirist, actor and New York Times-bestselling author, known for creating “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Andy Borowitz turns 59… Author of 30 best-selling mystery novels and thrillers, Harlan Coben turns 55… Emmy-award winning producer and journalist who oversees daily production and control room operations of “Morning Joe,” Ben Mayer turns 33 (h/t Playbook)… Development associate at the Association of Reform Zionists of America, previously an intern in J Street’s New York office, Alexander Langer… Daniel Zaretsky… Judah Gavant

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