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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