Daily Kickoff: Dems Blast Bibi’s Border Tweet | Kushner: All things ‘run through me’ | RJC, ZOA pan Trump’s Holocaust statement | Spotted at Alfalfa
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VIEW OF JERUSALEM: Dems Blast Bibi’s U.S. Border Tweet — by Aaron Magid and Jacob Kornbluh: Amidst the highly charged US political debate over the construction of a wall on the Mexican border, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a provocative tweet on Saturday. “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.” The backlash began with a reply on Twitter from the most recent U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro who wrote “PM @netanyahu‘s top aide told me a key goal in Trump’s era was keeping bipartisan support for Israel. Now this?” Shapiro also suggested another possibility. “Unless this endorsement is Trump’s demand of Netanyahu for something Netanyahu wants, the quid pro quo.” Shapiro added, “To me, it looks like Trump is already squeezing Netanyahu hard.”
“The completely unnecessary tweet by the Prime Minister on such a divisive issue that has nothing to do with Israel serves no useful purpose and alienates key constituencies from whom we need support,” Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations, told Jewish Insider. “This tweet also damages our ability to build coalitions to fight against the BDS movement,” he added… Ann Lewis, former White House Communications Director in the Clinton Administration, emailed Jewish Insider, “All weekend, I’ve watched and cheered crowds with self-identified young Jews protest against Donald Trump’s appalling executive order. These are the values of the young people we work with to maintain support for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East – the country that provides medical care for wounded Syrians, and has just welcomed a number of Syrian refugees. Those are the shared values that keep the relationship strong. The Prime Minister’s tweet doesn’t help.”
“Andrew Weinstein called Netanyahu’s actions a “short-sighted, ill-conceived and ego driven” attempt at cozying up to Trump “with absolutely zero concern for the collateral damage it was certain to cause.”… Mark Mellman emphasized that establishing a friendly relationship with a new U.S. President should be encouraged. “But to insert himself (Netanyahu) in a purely domestic American political issue that is highly controversial and highly partisan and affects Israel in no way, shape or form is just a pretty foolish mistake,” he noted.” [JewishInsider]
Trump: Decision on Jerusalem Embassy ‘In Not Too Distant Future’ — by Jacob Kornbluh: “I’m looking at it. We are studying it very, very long and hard,” Trump said in an interview with CBN News’ The Brody File, broadcast on Sunday. “It’s a very big, big decision, but we are studying the issue right now.” Measuring his words, Trump seemed to indicate where his heart is on the issue. “I’ve always liked the concept of doing it, I will tell you that,” he said. “I will have a decision in the not too distant future.” Asked what the chances are that the embassy will be moved to Jerusalem, the President said, “There is certainly a chance of it, absolutely.” Adding, “We are doing very detailed studies on that, and we will come out very soon. I hate to do that because that’s not usually me – studies – usually I do what’s right. But this has two sides to it, it’s not easy, and I will make a decision over the not too distant future.” [JewishInsider]
“Netanyahu backs U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem though signals no urgency” by Jeffrey Heller: “In an interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Marc Zell, head of the Republicans Overseas Israel branch, said new U.S. President Donald Trump was “proceeding cautiously because of concerns raised by Israeli officials”… Netanyahu addressed the matter in general terms in public remarks to his cabinet on Sunday… “I want to take the opportunity to make it unequivocally clear that our position has always been, and remains so now and at all times, that the U.S. embassy should be here, in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said…” [Reuters]
President-in-law: “Trump’s First Week: Misfires, Crossed Wires, and a Satisfied Smile” by Charlie Savage, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Kushner has emerged as the most important figure in Mr. Trump’s White House besides the president. He has told several people that all things on nearly every topic “run through me,” according to two people with direct knowledge.” [NYTimes]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump’s statement marking Holocaust remembrance leaves out mention of Jews” by Abby Phillip: “In a series of tweets, Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, noted the omissions. “White House statement on Holocaust Memorial Day, misses that it was six million Jews who perished, not just ‘innocent people,’” Greenblatt tweeted.” [WashPost]
“WH: No mention of Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day because others were killed too” by Jake Tapper: “Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,” administration spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN on Saturday.” [CNN] • Reince Priebus Defends Trump Statement On The Holocaust [HuffPost; NYT]
“RJC, ZOA Criticize Trump’s Holocaust Statement” by Jacob Kornbluh: “RJC spokesman Fred Brown said, “The lack of a direct statement about the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust was an unfortunate omission… We hope, going forward, he conveys those feelings when speaking about the Holocaust.” ZOA President Mort Klein, who recently boasted about being the only major Jewish organization with direct access to the White House, criticized the White House for doubling down on the ‘painful’ statement. “As a child of holocaust survivors, I and ZOA are compelled to express our chagrin and deep pain at President Trump, in his Holocaust Remembrance Day Message, omitting any mention of anti-Semitism and the six million Jews who were targeted and murdered by the German Nazi regime and others,” said Klein. “ZOA hopes that president Trump will direct his staff and COS Reince Priebus to immediately rectify this painful omission.” [JewishInsider] • Maggie Haberman: “Both of these groups are heavily funded by Adelson – and wouldn’t give statement without his knowledge.” [Twitter]
— “Ron Lauder, World Jewish Congress President, was the only Jewish leader to defend Trump, accusing the ADL of playing politics… “It does no honor to the millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust to play politics with their memory,” Lauder said in a statement. “Any fair reading of the White House statement on International Holocaust Memorial Day will see it appropriately commemorates the suffering and the heroism that mark that dark chapter in modern history.” A spokesperson for Lauder did not respond to an inquiry from Jewish Insider whether Lauder stands by his statement following the White House’s admission.” [JewishInsider]
Yair Rosenberg: “What I think happened w/ Trump Holocaust statement: omitted Jews by accident, incapable of admitting error so doubled down. Same as Star of David tweet.” [Twitter]
Rep. Jerry Nadler: “From left to right, full Jewish Community condemnation of Donald Trump for Holocaust statement failure.” [Twitter]
Ambassador Ron Dermer in speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Friday: “If this noble universal vision is not firmly rooted in an appreciation that the Holocaust is first and foremost a Jewish story, it can become not only dangerous but even immoral.” [Facebook]
“The White House Holocaust Horror” by John Podhoretz: “The Hope Hicks statement does not arrive without precedent. It is, rather, the culmination of something—the culmination of decades of ill feeling that seems to center on the idea that the Jews have somehow made unfair “use” of the Holocaust and it should not “belong” to them. Someone in that nascent White House thought it was time to reflect that view through the omission of the specifically Jewish quality of the Holocaust.” [CommentaryMag]
“Trump’s Refugee Ban Dishonors the Memory of the Jewish Holocaust Victims He Failed to Acknowledge” by Matt Nosanchuk: “As [President Obama’s] Jewish liaison, I kept an eye on the American Jewish community’s collective calendar of annual milestones – mostly holidays, anniversaries and commemorations… In drafting statements on Holocaust remembrance, I always and deliberately included a specific reference to the fact that the Holocaust is above all else a tragedy that befell the Jewish people. It is an event that carries profound significance for all of humanity, irrespective of nationality, ethnicity or religion and had many other victims as well. But conscionable remembrance acknowledges the Jewish victims.” [Haaretz]
Where is Trump’s JLOTUS? We know this White House has more than a minyan in the West Wing but, without a designated Jewish liaison, the odds of these mistakes continuing are high.
TRUMP TUMULT: “Inside the confusion of the Trump executive order and travel ban” by Evan Perez and Pamela Brown: “Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries… did not apply to people who with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders. The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President’s inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon.” [CNN] • How Trump’s Rush to Enact an Immigration Ban Unleashed Global Chaos [NYTimes]
“A Clarifying Moment in American History” by Eliot A. Cohen: “To friends still thinking of serving as political appointees in this administration, beware: When you sell your soul to the Devil, he prefers to collect his purchase on the installment plan. Trump’s disregard for either Secretary of Defense Mattis or Secretary-designate Tillerson in his disastrous policy salvos this week, in favor of his White House advisers, tells you all you need to know about who is really in charge. To be associated with these people is going to be, for all but the strongest characters, an exercise in moral self-destruction.” [TheAtlantic]
“US Jews see ‘tragic irony’ in refugee ban on Holocaust Remembrance Day” by Eric Cortellessa: “It’s impossible to ignore whether intentional or not, the tragic irony in executing the kind of order that kept Jews out of America like those who perished on the St. Louis and countless others, on the day when we remember the unspeakable tragedy that befell European Jewry and the Jewish people,” [ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt] told The Times of Israel on Saturday…. He said the ADL is preparing a course of action to combat this policy of the Trump administration and will be rolling out its plan this week. “We’ll be clarifying that in the coming days.” [ToI]
“President Trump’s First Defeat” by Blake Hounshell: “A Twitter account methodically posting the names of Jews refused asylum in the United States and later killed in the Holocaust was retweeted thousands of times on Friday, blending into people’s timelines with news about the immigration crackdown, adding to the sense of outrage among Trump’s critics.” [Politico]
“US suspends immigration program helping non-Muslim Iranians” by George Jahn and Alicia A. Caldwell: “Under a 27-year-old program originally approved by Congress to help Jews in the former Soviet Union, Austria had been serving until recently as a conduit for Iranian Jews, Christians and Baha’i, who were at risk in their home country and eligible to resettle in the United States… But the United States suspended the so-called “Iranian Lautenberg Program” in recent days, according to Austrian officials, who in turn stopped Iranians from reaching their territory… The episode isn’t directly linked to an executive order Trump signed Friday that orders strict new screening for refugees to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the United States.” [AP]
“Synagogue where Trump’s grandchild goes to preschool condemns travel ban” by Betsy Klein: “Adas Israel Congregation, the Conservative synagogue in Washington’s Cleveland Park neighborhood where Trump and Kushner send one of their three young children to preschool, issued a statement Sunday evening condemning the President’s controversial executive order.” [CNN]
Tally of Jewish organizations speaking out against Trump Holocaust statement: ADL, AJC, Anne Frank Center, NJDC, J Street, Bend the Arc, RJC, ZOA.
Defended Trump’s Holocaust statement: WJC’s Ron Lauder.
Not Commenting on Trump’s Holocaust statement: Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel.
Group speaking out against refugee ban: ADL, AJC, JCPA, HIAS, the Rabbinical Assembly, B’nai B’rith International, RCA and OU (reaffirmed 12-10-2015 statement), NJDC, J Street, Bend the Arc.
Group praising Trump’s Executive Order: ZOA
“Trump’s internal White House strategy group adds staff” by Annie Karni: “Dina Powell, a former Goldman Sachs partner who quit her job to serve as a top adviser to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, is expected to join a newly formed internal White House brain trust that will offer advice on top administration priorities… Along with Powell… the group is also expected to include Julia Hahn, the former Breitbart immigration writer who was hired by the White House as a special assistant to the president… Other staffers expected to join the group include special assistant to the president Reed Cordish.” [Politico]
“The Kushners break bread with Team Trump” by Kaileen Gaul: “Members of team Trump poured into the Kushner residence to celebrate Shabbat Friday evening… Department of Commerce pick Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary Geary Ross were in attendance. Former president of Goldman Sachs and top economic policy adviser Gary Cohn, Department of the Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin and his partner Louise Linton were all sighted heading into the Kushner home… Rabbi Levi Shemtov was also present Friday afternoon.” [DailyMail] • Daily Mail misidentifies photo caption as Dina Habib Powell and Richard Powell when it’s Reed and Maggie Cordish [Twitter]
“Social media users knock Ivanka Trump over date night photo during protests” by Brooke Seipel: “Social media users are blasting Ivanka Trump for posting a photo of herself going to an Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday amid protests at airports around the country over President Trump’s immigration ban.” [TheHill]
SPOTTED at the 104th Alfalfa Club Dinner at the Capitol Hilton on Saturday evening: James Baker, Wayne Berman, Leon Black, Michael Bloomberg, Emma Bloomberg, Sen. Cory Booker, Jim Breyer, Justice Stephen Breyer, Eli Broad, Tina Brown, Norman Brownstein, Warren Buffett, Jeb Bush, Gary Cohn, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Ken Feinberg, Howard Friedman, Judge Karen Friedman, Bill Gates, Bob Gates, Dan Gilbert, Alan Greenspan, Eric Greitens, Patricia Harris, Walter Isaacson, Henry Kissinger, Nancy Kissinger, Henry Kravis, Marie-Josée Kravis, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Hadassah Lieberman, Joe Lieberman, Peyton Manning, Steven Mnuchin, Tom Nides, David Petraeus, Dina Powell, David Rubenstein, Chuck Schumer, Stephen Schwarzman, Stephen Wynn.
“Trump gives National Security Council seat to ex-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon” by Alan Yuhas: “The president named Bannon to the council in a reorganization of the NSC. He also said his son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief-of-staff Reince Priebus would have seats in the meetings.” [Guardian] • Top Cruz Aide Victoria Coates Tapped for Senior Role on Trump National Security Team [FreeBeacon]
“Bannon Is Given Security Role Usually Held for Generals” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “In terms of real influence, Mr. Bannon looms above almost everyone except the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in the Trumpian pecking order, according to interviews with two dozen Trump insiders and current and former national security officials. The move involving Mr. Bannon, as well as the boost in status to the White House homeland security adviser, Thomas P. Bossert, and Mr. Trump’s relationships with cabinet appointees like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have essentially layered over Mr. Flynn.” [NYTimes]
“Trump tasks son-in-law Kushner, a diplomatic novice, with managing Mexico dispute” by The Associated Press: “Kushner, who already wields enormous power in the White House, is expected to work through the dispute with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray. The two men, who know each other from the financial circles, also worked together to arrange Trump’s surprise visit to Mexico during the presidential campaign.” [ChicagoTribune]
“Trump’s Little Mexican War” by WSJ editorial board: “Mr. Trump said as a candidate that he’d treat America’s friends better than Mr. Obama did, but his first move has been to treat Mexico like Mr. Obama treated Israel. “ [WSJ]
IRAN DEAL: “Trump, Saudi king back ‘rigorously’ enforcing Iran nuclear deal” by AFP: “Trump and King Salman “agreed on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities,” the White House said.” [Yahoo]
“Trump’s New Senior Middle East Adviser: Hawkish on Iran, Friendly to Egypt” by Amir Tibon: “The Trump administration has appointed former U.S. Army Col. Derek Harvey as its senior director for Middle East policies on the National Security Council. Haaretz has learned that Harvey… was one of the officials who earlier this week instructed the U.S. State Department to issue a statement saying it was reexamining the outgoing administration’s decision to transfer $221 million to the Palestinian Authority during President Barack Obama’s last hours in office… A government source described Harvey as “the new Rob Malley,” referring to the former Obama administration official who was in charge of Middle East affairs at the outgoing NSC… It is not yet clear who will be the NSC’s official dealing directly with issues relating to Israel and the Palestinians.” [Haaretz]
KAFE KNESSET — The right wing Post-Trump legislation blitz continues — by Tal Shalev: The bill, which retroactively legalizes hundreds of Jewish settlement houses built on disputed lands, was originally submitted as a means to pressure the government to find a solution for the Amona outpost evacuation. Netanyahu didn’t want it, and tried to convince Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennet that it would cause international pressure. But he eventually succumbed to right-wing demands and allowed its first reading to pass in early December. Since then, the legislative process has been stalled for weeks, but last week Bennet put it back on the agenda citing the “historic opportunity” of the potentially settler-friendly Trump administration. Netanyahu followed suit and announced that he directed to have the final vote on the bill this week. He did so despite telling Likud ministers last week that the appropriation bill was one of the main factors that lead to UN Security Council Resolution 2334.
While the opposition is very vocal about the illegal outpost bill, Jerusalem has reacted with complete silence to the White House omitting any Jewish reference in their International Holocaust Memorial Day statement. No Israeli politician — from right or left — reacted to the statement or the doubling down. Earlier today, Kafe Knesset asked Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman about it during the Israel Beitenu weekly faction meeting. “The new administration is very friendly, it’s probably a mistake or misunderstanding. Of course the Holocaust is a Jewish issue. I hope that next year they will know to mention the Jews” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]
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“One Certainty of Trump’s Wall: Big Money” Danielle Ivory and Julie Creswell: “Companies that specialize in surveillance technology or even “virtual” barriers could also benefit. Elbit Systems of America, whose parent company is based in Israel, won a contract in 2014 with Customs and Border Protection to build a set of towers with radar and cameras covering 170 to 200 miles along the Arizona border. When the radar detects movement, cameras zoom in and send images to command centers…” [NYTimes] • Israel’s Magal Pushes for Mexico Wall Deal as Trump Buoys Shares [Bloomberg]
“Starbucks CEO Schultz plans to hire 10,000 refugees after Trump ban” by Devika Krishna Kumar: “Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said on Sunday that the company planned to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in 75 countries… The hiring efforts announced on Sunday would start in the United States by initially focusing on individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where the military has asked for such support, Schultz said.” [Reuters]
“Warm Welcome for Syrians in a Country About to Ban Them” by Jodi Kantor: “On Friday afternoon, a group of suburban synagogue members clustered at O’Hare International Airport, waiting to greet one of the last Syrian refugee families to be accepted in the United States… Their synagogue, Am Shalom (“People of Peace”) in Glencoe, Ill., displays a statue depicting members’ families who perished at the Nazis’ hands… A hundred synagogue members had contributed in some way to helping resettle the Syrians… Some of the synagogue members had signed on instinctually, so the Syrians would be helped the way their own parents or grandparents had been aided when they arrived in the United States. Others had joined as a way of countering Mr. Trump… “The Statue of Liberty has always been our symbol of welcome,” Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein, the group’s leader, said at the airport. “It feels like Trump turned off the light,” he said.” [NYTimes]
DESSERT: “Kosher Food Goes Up in Smoke” by Jill Krasny: “With chef Derick Polkoski at the helm, Main House is just one of several places putting a kosher stamp on Texas barbecue—in New York and beyond. Notable kosher barbecue outposts have cropped up everywhere from Kansas City (Mendel’s) to the heart of Texas itself: JoeBob’s BBQ in Austin. And annual contests are being held in Atlanta, Charlotte, Charleston, Dallas, Memphis, and San Antonio. These outlets aren’t just putting a new spin on barbecue; they’re changing the way kosher diners think about dinner. In striking ways, kosher restrictions have pushed these barbecue restaurants to get more creative. Dairy is off-limits, which means no buttered biscuits or mac and cheese. However, Polkoski, for instance, has found tasty workarounds: making a stock from smoked chicken or turkey bones to flavor dishes, topping mashed potatoes with burgundy-glazed caramelized onions, lining a pan with chicken schmaltz for cornbread, or using brisket fat to saute onions.” [TabletMag]
BIRTHDAYS: Theatrical producer and director, winner of 21 Tony Awards, more than other person, Harold Prince turns 89… Teacher and national community leader, holder of a Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from New York University, Judith Friedman Rosen turns 65… Assistant Professor in the electrical engineering department at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Guy Gilboa turns 46… Republican member of the US House of Representatives from eastern Long Island, NY since 2015, Lee Zeldin turns 37… Senior director for Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Joshua M. Kram… Congressional correspondent for CBS Radio News since 2-2015, following a nine year (2006-2015) similar assignment for ABC News Radio, Steven Portnoy… Eli Langer… Politico Illinois Playbook author Natasha Korecki (h/t Playbook)… Russell Robinson… Jared Isenstein… Alexa Smith… Al Sokolow… Gisele Rogers… Heather Graf… Max Delahanty…
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