Daily Kickoff: President In-Law Kushner | GOP Sen. Corker says Trump will keep Iran deal | How David Mitzner made it in America | Klezmer in Mexico

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PRESIDENT IN-LAW (as dubbed by NYMag): “Jared Kushner, a Trump In-Law and Adviser, Chases a Chinese Deal” by Susanne Craig, Jo Becker and Jesse Drucker: “Mr. Trump has said that his son-in-law, an Orthodox Jew, will play a central role in dealings with Israel, describing him as so talented that he could help “do peace in the Middle East.” Mr. Kushner’s company has received multiple loans from Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim. The incoming Trump administration will inherit a Justice Department investigation into allegations that the bank helped wealthy Americans evade taxes… Indeed, despite a lack of foreign policy experience, Mr. Kushner is emerging as an important figure at a crucial moment for some of America’s most complicated diplomatic relationships. Such is his influence in the geopolitical realm that transition officials have told the Obama White House that foreign policy matters that need to be brought to Mr. Trump’s attention should be relayed through his son-in-law.”

“So when the Chinese ambassador to the United States called the White House in early December to express what one official called China’s “deep displeasure” at Mr. Trump’s break with longstanding diplomatic tradition by speaking by phone with the president of Taiwan, the White House did not call the president-elect’s national security team. Instead, it relayed that information through Mr. Kushner.” [NYTimes

“Boris Johnson meets with top Trump advisers” by Reena Flores: “British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson… met Sunday afternoon with top advisers to President-elect Donald Trump, including Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner… The meeting lasted over 90 minutes.” [CBSNews• Ivanka Trump Met with Jordan’s Queen Rania in Trump Tower [VanityFair

LongRead: “The Young Trump” by Andrew Rice: “If the campaign estranged Kushner from the privileged world he once inhabited, the election represented a conclusive break. Some of the same Manhattan liberals who ostracized him during the campaign were rattled afterward, and they sent him emails, trying to offer healing words of congratulations and conciliation. These went right in the trash. Kushner is in no mood to offer comfort — not to this town. He’s going to Washington.”

“During the campaign, Trump hired and fired many aides, but Kushner was frequently the last person he consulted before making major decisions. He so far has no official White House title, and he may never have one. But it will scarcely matter if Kushner has a formal job, so long as he maintains his position within the family. “There were three campaign managers,” says a political consultant who knows Kushner. “There was only one son-in-law.””

Other Highlights — LeFrak defends Bannon hiring: “When critics question Trump’s relationships with people like Bannon, the purported Svengali of the alt-right, Jared and Ivanka, who converted to Judaism, note that Trump wore a yarmulke at their wedding and has Jewish grandchildren. “Donald hired somebody who’s an anti-Semite, even though his son-in-law is a practicing Orthodox Jew?” developer Richard LeFrak, one of Trump’s few close friends in New York real estate, said incredulously. “A lot of his best friends are Jewish! Come on, really. What does this all stem from, this hysteria?”

“Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of the advertising conglomerate WPP and a friend of Kushner’s, recalls running into him one Saturday morning on Park Avenue as he was walking with his children to synagogue. “This was way before the election, even before the nominating process,” Sorrell says. “He said with great conviction that he thought his father-in-law would win, and at that stage there were very few people who thought that would be the case.” After the election, Sorrell ran into Kushner and Ivanka at a party and the adman told him, “Mazel tov.”” [NYMag] • See the cover [Pic

“Kushner, considering White House role, eyes business exit” by Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace: “Mr. Kushner is committed to complying with federal ethics laws and we have been consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take,” said Jamie Gorelick, a partner at the law firm of WilmerHale, in a statement. “Although plans are not finalized, Mr. Kushner would resign from his position at Kushner Companies and divest substantial assets in accordance with federal guidelines.” [AP; Bloomberg]

Mike Allen reports: Kushner will be named “senior adviser,” and is already seeking applicants for his own staff. [Axios]

TERROR IN JERUSALEM: “Suspect may have supported ISIS, Netanyahu says” by Amy La Porte, Oren Liebermann and Michael Schwartz: “Speaking from the scene of the attack, on a promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem, Netanyahu said authorities have identified the terrorist and “all signs show he is a supporter of the Islamic State. We know there is a sequence of terror attacks and it’s quite possible that there is a connection between them, from France, Berlin and now Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. Israel will now consider using administrative detention against suspected ISIS sympathizers and supporters, according to an official familiar with the decision.” [CNN• Jerusalem terrorist reportedly angered by plan to move US Embassy [ToI]

“United States Condemns Jerusalem Truck-ramming Attack” by Amir Tibon: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s horrific terrorist attack in Jerusalem,” a statement issued by the White House said. “Such cowardly acts can never be justified, and we call on all to send a clear and unequivocal message that terrorism must never be tolerated.” … On Capitol Hill, a number of leading senators spoke out in the hours after the ramming attack to express support for Israel and condemn the deadly violence in Jerusalem…” [Haaretz]

“Why didn’t Obama punish Palestinian incitement?” by David Suissa: “As I heard the horrific news Sunday… I thought about President Obama’s recent decision to not veto UNSC resolution 2334… Obama’s great sin is not that he gave Israel a hard time, but that he failed to do the same with the Palestinians. When he had a chance to make his defining statement on the conflict, he didn’t demand that Palestinians accept Israel’s offer to negotiate without preconditions, nor did he punish Palestinian leaders for promoting Jew-hatred and inciting their people by denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem.” [JewishJournal]

“Addressing Concerns about Kerry and the U.N. Vote” by Steve Sheffey:“The Resolution is anti-settlements, but unless one equates settlements with the State of Israel, it is not anti-Israel… It undermines the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, which seeks the elimination of all of Israel, by distinguishing between the settlements and Israel.” [Medium]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Netanyahu tried to negotiate good press in return for benefits-media” by Maayan Lubell: “Channel Two television said the right-wing leader had offered to limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu daily owned and published by U.S. billionaire and Republican party donor Sheldon Adelson, if Mozes’ Yedioth Ahronoth gave the prime minister more favorable coverage.” [Reuters; Haaretz

“Netanyahu Caught on Tape Negotiating Mutual Benefits With Businessman” by Gidi Weitz, Barak Ravid and Uri Blau: “Channel 10’s Raviv Drucker reported that Netanyahu had asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to assist Milchan with his visa problems. Milchan reportedly sought a 10-year visa to the United States, and Netanyahu’s intervention apparently worked, Channel 10 reported.” [Haaretz

“Meet Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer at the center of Netanyahu probe” by Ryan Faughnder, Jeffrey Fleishman and Batsheva Sobelman: “The latest chapter in the strange saga of Israeli billionaire and veteran film producer Arnon Milchan arose this week over accusations that he — in typical Hollywood mogul fashion — gave thousands of dollars worth of cigars and champagne to Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife… Milchan, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment… Milchan has used his clout and film connections to help shape Israel’s image around the world.” [LATimes

IRAN DEAL: “Top GOP Senator: Trump administration won’t toss Iran deal” by Patricia Zengerle: “To tear it up on the front end, in my opinion, is not going to happen. Instead, we will begin to radically enforce it,” Senator Bob Corker told reporters on Friday at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “To me the prudent course of action is to make sure you enforce it, that you hold the UN Security Council accountable,” Corker said. “And in the event the agreement falls apart, it’s someone else that is causing it to fall apart, not a president coming in on day one and ripping up the agreement.”” [Reuters]

ON THE HILL: “Pro-Israel Push Stalls in Senate on Republican Infighting” by Jenna Lifhits: “Top officials from pro-Israel groups told TWS that Tennessee senator Bob Corker is endangering movement of the measure by pursuing changes that would likely drive away Democratic support. These efforts, described by one source as “poison pill” provisions, would make the Senate measure irrelevant by delaying it until after an upcoming international conference that may set up further U.N. action against Israel, officials said. Corker, the chair of the influential Foreign Relations Committee, told TWS the current measure is too weak to be effective… A senior official at Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the United States, told TWS that the organization will announce a full-scale push in support of the Senate measure next week.” [TWS

“As Paris peace summit nears, Israel makes ‘big efforts’ to prevent another UN resolution” by Herb Keinon: “The House resolution represents only one track in efforts “that we are making in order to prevent bad resolutions against Israel at the UN,” Netanyahu said. “I am also telling you that we will work — as it says in the House resolution — either to repel the resolution in the UN Security Council, or to change it in a manner so that it does not harm Israel.”” [JPost

“James Baker Defends Obama’s Move at UN” by Jacob Kornbluh: “It was former Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel who said Israel needs to make the tough decisions if it wants to avoid becoming an apartheid state,” Baker said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday. “And so that’s why I think it was appropriate in this instance for the United States to abstain.” The former Secretary of State also expressed disapproval of Trump’s opposition to the UN vote and his plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “The President-elect has said he would like to be the president that solves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And let’s hope he can do that,” Baker said. “But you can’t think you can succeed at that if you are, in effect, so biased one way or the other. You cannot be Israel’s lawyer and expect to solve the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.” [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE WEEK: “As a general, Mattis urged action against Iran. As a defense secretary, he may be a voice of caution” by Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous: “Israeli leaders were sending mixed messages to Obama and his top advisers about how far they were willing to go to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak briefed his Pentagon counterparts on secret plans to launch a commando-style raid on Iran’s most heavily fortified nuclear site. Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, in turn, privately told the Americans that the Israelis could not act against Iran alone. The White House was never certain whom to believe.”

“Mattis’s job at Central Command was to be prepared if Israel triggered a war and to signal to the Iranians that the outcome of any wider conflict with the United States would be devastating for them. It was a responsibility Mattis took seriously, sometimes too seriously… Soon after Mattis was tapped to lead U.S. forces in the Middle East in August 2010, Obama asked the general to spell out his top priorities. Mattis replied that he had three: “Number one Iran. Number two Iran. Number three Iran.” … In time, however, as secret talks with Iran got underway in summer 2012, some White House officials began to see Mattis as a potential liability.” [WashPost] • Mattis, Trump team clashed over Pentagon appointment [CNN]

TRANSITION TOWER: “Marvel executive set to join Trump’s veterans affairs staff” by Claire Atkinson: “Marvel Entertainment billionaire Ike Perlmutter is set to become a key aide on veterans affairs in the Trump administration, sources told On the Money… Perlmutter had a big meeting with the CEOs of university-associated hospitals last week, according to sources. His wife, Laura, is on the presidential inaugural committee.” [NYPost

“Trump and Iran: Yet Another Hostage Crisis” by Robin Wright: “Short of last-minute diplomacy, Donald Trump will inherit another hostage crisis with Iran on Inauguration Day-thirty-five years after the first hostage drama at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran ended… The Islamic Republic has quietly arrested more Americans since the nuclear deal went into effect, in January, 2016, which coincided with a separate U.S. payment of $1.7 billion, transferred in three planeloads of cash, to settle a legal case from the Shah’s era… At least six Americans and two green-card holders are now imprisoned or have disappeared in the Islamic Republic. One is now the longest-held civilian hostage in U.S. history.” [NewYorker

“How Trump Can Tame the U.N.” by Taylor Dinerman: “Mr. Trump could easily follow this precedent and instruct U.N. Ambassador-designate Nikki Haley to veto the renewal of all current peacekeeping operations. That would save the U.S. Treasury some of the roughly $2 billion a year it pays in assessed dues for the peacekeeping budget… Aggressive use of the veto would not only save the Treasury money; it would annoy the international bureaucrats to no end.” [WSJ

“Modern Language Association Moves to Reject Academic Boycott of Israel” by Jennifer Schuessler: “After two hours of contentious debate and procedural jockeying at its annual meeting here, the group’s delegate assembly voted 113 to 79 against a resolution endorsing a boycott… Instead, the delegate council voted 101 to 93 to support a parallel measure urging the association to “refrain from endorsing the boycott” on the grounds that it runs counter to the group’s mission of promoting teaching, research and scholarly exchange. The anti-boycott measure will be submitted to the group’s nearly 24,000 members after review by its executive council.” [NYTimes

** 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “The Holocaust Survivor Who Built Houston’s Hot New Hotel For Super Bowl LI” by Christopher Helman: “David Mitzner survived the Warsaw ghetto and 8 years in the Soviet gulag before coming to America in 1949 and making his fortune, first in fishnet stockings, then real estate. He died in September, at age 101, just a few months before completion of his final project — the new $350 million, 1,000-room Marriott Marquis. When the NFL rolls into Houston for Super Bowl LI, Commissioner Roger Goodell will take up residence at the new joint… Mitzner had made a sober return to Poland… Partnering with Apollo, he got in early, buying up $900 million of real estate there. Mitzner’s good timing helped revitalize Warsaw, and in 2006, landed him on the front page of the Wall Street Journal at age 90. But he wasn’t investing out of nostalgic nationalism, and started selling Polish holdings while others were still piling in.” [Forbes

“How the Uber of health insurance is dealing with high costs, an Obamacare repeal, and a fraternal bond to Trump’s son-in-law” by Steven Levy: “That’s why there’s been considerable interest in the possible effect of the relationship between Charles Kushner’s two sons, one of whom co-founded a health care company and one of whom has the ear of the man who will ultimately decide what happens to American health care. Jared Kushner will not only probably be in the room where this decision happens, but he also may well be the most knowledgable person on the subject — with that knowledge gained through discussions with his brother. In fact, in Oscar’s early days, Jared Kushner, in addition to Josh, was listed as a “controlling person” in regulatory filings.”

“A White House connection, of course, was never part of Oscar’s plan, and the company certainly doesn’t use it as a talking point. When pushed, Joel Klein portrays the fraternal drama as a non-issue. “We will follow all of the rules,” he says. He admits that this unique situation might be so hazy as to preclude bright boundaries, but is nonetheless certain that the Kushner distraction is non-material to Oscar’s fate—rather, he characterizes it as an “amusing media story.” “What happens on health care is going to happen,” Klein says.” [BackChannel]

MEDIA WATCH: “Facebook Hires Campbell Brown to Lead News Partnerships Team” by Jim Rutenberg and Mike Isaac: “In the role, Ms. Brown will “help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook,” she wrote on her Facebook page on Friday afternoon… She will work as a liaison with news organizations so that Facebook can better meet their journalistic and business imperatives and lessen some of their suspicion about the social media giant… She is married to Dan Senor, a Republican foreign policy adviser and former White House adviser, who is making his own media foray with a bid to buy the Israeli financial newspaper Globes.” [NYTimes• Facebook’s New Head Of News Has Close Ties To Conservative Politics [BuzzFeed

“Ari Fleischer: I Was Nearly a Ft. Lauderdale Airport Victim” by Adam Weinstein: “Fleischer was in that Delta terminal, Terminal 2, where the shooting happened. “I had just stepped off my flight from New York and was going to head down the escalator to the baggage claim, but had to make a pit stop,” he said. “Thank God I had to make a pit stop.” Fleischer and several others had been in a restroom upstairs when the shooting happened… “I saw blood on the concrete” downstairs, Fleischer said; one of the shooting victims had fallen just outside the terminal entrance, he surmised.” [DailyBeast]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Yes, That’s Jewish Folk Music You’re Hearing—in Mexico” by Robbie Whelan:“Mr. Pérez wears a long beard and dresses in the costume of a Hasidic Jew, complete with a wide-brimmed black hat, high-collared white dress shirt and a black cardigan… His band, El Colectivo Klezmorino, a rotating cast of friends and conservatory dropouts toting violins, a bass, percussion, brass and other instruments, all of whom he recruited and trained, is devoted exclusively to playing klezmer, the raucous, up-tempo Jewish folk music common to weddings and bar mitzvahs in the Yiddish-speaking shtetls of Eastern Europe in the early 20th century. Mr. Pérez, 28 years old, isn’t Jewish, and neither is anyone else in the band.” [WSJ]

“Notes on the Upper Muddle” by Lucinda Rosenfeld: “The town I grew up in was made up of what was once known as White Ethnics (Irish-, Italian- and Jewish Americans), and pretty much everyone I knew was middle class… That all changed when, in the mid-’80s, I began attending a private high school in a nearby town, with the help of financial aid…. Not that reproducing one’s social access and class advantage is an oft-stated goal by those who send their children to such places. Instead, one tends to hear about the “small class sizes” or “amazing theater program.” But these perks constitute only half the equation. The other half goes unmentioned. For if there’s one taboo subject left in the United States, it may be the existence of a class system as closed and inflexible as the one my husband left across the Atlantic.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Former contestant on the third season of NBC’s “The Voice,”  now a contributing writer at The New Yorker, writer of many articles on Syria, Ben Taub turns 26… Romance novelist, with eight books that have been turned into mini-series, Judith Krantz turns 89… Law professor at Georgetown University, high-ranking HHS official during the Clinton Administration, a founder of New Israel Fund and board member of Americans for Peace Now, Peter Edelman turns 79… Swiss politician, member of the Swiss Federal Council (1993-2002), President of the Swiss Confederation in 1999, the first woman to ever hold this position, Ruth Dreifuss turns 77… Rabbi Emeritus of Kehilath Israel Synagogue in Overland Park, Kansas, Herbert Jay Mandl turns 72… Vice Chairman of the private equity firm Gilbert Global Equity Partners, long-time executive at investment banks Schroder & Co. and its predecessor firm, Wertheim & Co., Steven Kotler turns 70…

Presidential historian, spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, visiting fellow or lecturer at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, GW, and Hopkins universities, Alvin S. Felzenberg turns 68… Composer, singer Yossi Toiv turns 68… Australian author of more than 40 books of children’s and young adult fiction, including a five-book series about a 10-year old Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Poland, Morris Gleitzman turns 64… Television and film actress, starred in 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” daughter of billionaire Nelson Peltz, Nicola Peltz turns 22… Program Officer at Maimonides Fund, Allison Liebman Rubin… Joel Plasco Madeline Peterson, Associate at Bluelight Strategies…

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