Daily Kickoff: Rand Paul on Friedman — “I’m favorably disposed” | Bibi gives cover for Trump on anti-Semitism | Why Kushner might not buy the Marlins

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DRIVING THE DAY: David Friedman will testify at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination as U.S. ambassador to Israel at 10:30am EST. Friedman will be introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Sen. Joe Lieberman. Worth noting: Lieberman is now an attorney at Friedman’s law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP [CSPAN

–Early spotted list of those at the hearing: RJC’s Matt Brooks, J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami, OU’s Nathan Diament, NORPAC Long Island President Stanley Stern and his wife Trudy, Iris and Shalom Maidenbaum, Cindy and Sheldon Small.

KEY SFRC VOTE: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Jewish Insider yesterday that he is “favorably disposed” towards Friedman. Paul’s support could be critical for Friedman if the vote falls on party lines. [JewishInsider

Flashback: Trump’s ambassador nominee to Israel on ADL: ‘They’re Morons’ — “In an interview with Jewish Insider on the eve of the election, David 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.” [JewishInsider]

“Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel say Trump pick is unqualified” by Richard Lardner: “In a letter sent to members of the Foreign Relations Committee, the former diplomats said David Friedman has staked out “extreme, radical positions” and has derided the two-state solution as an “illusory” fix for a non-existent problem… “The American ambassador must be dedicated to advancing our country’s longstanding bipartisan goals in the region: strengthening the security of the United States and our ally Israel, and advancing the prospects for peace between Israel and its neighbors, in particular the Palestinians,” the former ambassadors wrote… The letter opposing Friedman’s nomination was signed by Thomas Pickering, William Harrop, Edward Walker, Daniel Kurtzer and James Cunningham.” [AP

–Noticeably absent from the list: former Amb. Dan Shapiro. Shapiro told Jewish Insider in an interview last week: “I don’t know Mr. Friedman, but I assume that any Ambassador appointed by the US government will implement the policy that is made in Washington. That certainly was true in my experience that Ambassadors come with their own perspectives and their own history and maybe even their own views but in the end those are not as important, in fact they’re much less relevant than faithful implementation of the policy that’s made in Washington so I think that is likely to be true of any Ambassador including Mr. Friedman.” [JewishInsider]

“Israeli Settlement Sees Friendly Faces in Trump Administration” by Isabel Kershner: “There’s the Friedman Faculty House, the Rabbi Morris Friedman Center for Computer Sciences, a Friedman fitness room at a pre-army academy, a playground and a plaza. The plaques dedicating sites around Beit El, a religious Jewish settlement deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, attest to years of financial, emotional and family bonds nurtured by an American lawyer, David M. Friedman, and his wife, Tammy. Under previous administrations, American diplomats have been barred from setting foot in such settlements…” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel is a former attorney of accused killer Robert Durst” by Cameron Joseph: “He’s an attorney. I don’t ascribe to an attorney the deeds of his or her clients,” former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who heads the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. “I don’t even think it’s fair to blame an attorney for taking a client, everyone is entitled to capable and adequate representation.” [NYDailyNews

EXCLUSIVE: Photo of David Friedman at Jared and Ivanka’s wedding [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “It is a new day for the United States-Israel relationship, defined by a responsible approach to the challenges and opportunities our two countries face in the Middle East,” Trump and Netanyahu declared in a joint statement after their WH meeting. “In today’s meeting, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed that there will be no daylight between the United States and Israel.”

At their joint press conference, Trump and Netanyahu at once departed from standard procedure while also reverting to their comfortable roles: Bibi as professor lecturing on the Middle East and Trump, the real estate mogul, looking to sell and score the ‘ultimate deal.’ While Netanyahu mostly read from written notes placed on the lectern ahead of time by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Trump spoke freely, sometimes contradicting comments he has made in the past.

A significant off script moment occurred when Netanyahu mentioned the idea of reaching a broader regional peace agreement with the Palestinians. The President seemed genuinely surprised that Netanyahu preempted him on that plan. “I didn’t know you were going to be mentioning that, but now that you did, I think it’s a terrific thing and I think we have some pretty good cooperation from people that in the past would never, ever have even thought about doing this,” Trump said while looking directly at the Israeli Prime Minister.

Trump also perceived that Netanyahu wasn’t fully with him when he expressed his confidence in achieving a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians — a “bigger and better deal” in his words. “Let’s try it,” the Israeli leader responded. To which Trump asserted, “Doesn’t sound too optimistic, but he’s a good negotiator.” “That’s the ‘art of the deal,’” Netanyahu quipped referencing the title of Trump’s 1987 book. Full recap here [JewishInsider

— After the meeting, Netanyahu acknowledged that he and Trump have yet to reach an understanding on settlement activity. “We spoke about the settlements, and we agreed to continue talking about this issue in order to reach an agreement,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters at the Blair House. “Trump is willing to upgrade our ties in every field. So if there’s a request from the President to examine this issue of construction in the settlement then I think our national interest to reach an understanding. Nonetheless, he stressed that “building will continue in Jerusalem.”

HOW IT PLAYED: “Trump, Meeting With Netanyahu, Backs Away From Palestinian State” by Peter Baker and Mark Landler: “But even as Mr. Trump drastically reoriented American policy, he told Mr. Netanyahu to stop building new housing in the West Bank for the moment… The president also stressed that Israel would have to be flexible in any future peace talks. “As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises,” Mr. Trump said. Turning to Mr. Netanyahu, he asked, “You know that, right?” Mr. Netanyahu responded with a smile. “Both sides,” he said, pointedly emphasizing the first word… If Mr. Netanyahu viewed Mr. Trump’s arrival as license to do as he pleased without American interference, he may be surprised that the new president seems inclined to make a serious investment in forging a peace deal. Mr. Trump’s assignment to Mr. Kushner to focus on the matter has been taken as a sign of determination.” [NYTimes] Yair Rosenberg: Experts Have Been Proposing Alternatives to Two-States for Some Time. Will Trump Consider Them? [Tablet]

Did Trump back a one-state solution? Full quote — “So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. (Laughter.) I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

Aaron David Miller: “To casually abandon the two-state solution without an alternative, due diligence, or consultations with any of the parties (minus the Israelis) calls into question US credibility as an effective broker… The two-state solution may well be impossible to implement. It requires leadership on both sides and effective US mediation. All three are currently missing… Give Trump, Jared Kushner and Netanyahu a chance to test the one-state solution. We certainly couldn’t produce a deal; perhaps they will.” [CNN]

TOP TALKER — Netanyahu stepped in to defend Trump against any charges of not taking anti-Semitism seriously. “I’ve known the President and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time, and there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump,” Netanyahu declared. “I think we should put that to rest.”

Abe Foxman tells us: “I wish Bibi wouldn’t have gone where he went. If the President wasn’t willing to stand up to say he will fight anti-Semitism, I thought that was an unnecessary move… It was a missed opportunity. It was a low moment.”

— Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called Netanyahu’s cover for Trump “very inappropriate.” Nadler told Jewish Insider that Netanyahu’s defense “is a nonsensical statement frankly as long as the President refuses to come out and condemn anti-Semitism, full-throatedly…  and refuses to identify the Holocaust with Jewish victims… Our ability to monitor and fight anti-Semitism around the world is very much less when the President of the US refuses to condemn it here.” [JewishInsider

Netanyahu: Trump administration now ‘understands’ Jewish meaning of Holocaust: “There is no doubt that they now understand the meaning of the Holocaust as a means to strike out the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in a briefing after the summit for Israeli reporters… Asked to comment on expressions of concern by Jewish organizational leaders, Netanyahu insisted: “There is no basis for these worries.” [JTA

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Immediately following the White House visit, Netanyahu summoned the press to the Blair House for a briefing. He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, and that was the main takeaway as Netanyahu didn’t provide much details regarding the understandings achieved in the meeting but was very generous in complimenting the President and stressing their new bromance. “I have met, during my life, quite a few presidents, and we never had a greater friend to Israel than President Trump,” Netanyahu said while praising the “warm welcome to me and my wife. They went out of their way to demonstrate this friendship.” The President certainly did his homework on the Netanyahus, as was evident when he called on Sara Netanyahu to stand up during the press conference…

Meanwhile, back in Israel the reaction included mixed feelings and various interpretations about exactly what Trump meant. For Naftali Bennet, the fact that the term ‘Palestinian state’ was not mentioned is considered a great victory, though it is not clear how satisfied he will be with the fact that Bibi and Trump agreed to discuss curbing settlement activity. Meanwhile, Bennett reacted as if it’s the dawn of a new era, ignoring the inconvenient questions. “Today the Palestinian flag was replaced by the Israeli flag. Palestinians already have two states: Gaza and Jordan. There is no need for a third one. I congratulate the Prime Minister for making the right decision, demonstrating leadership and boldness and strengthening Israel’s security and sovereignty.”

When Netanyahu comes home and tells Bennet his sovereignty dreams need to be put on hold, he will likely be less generous. On the other side, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said “It was a sad and shameful to see Netanyahu twisting and winding only to avoid the idea of separation from the Palestinians in the form of two states. Every Israeli should be very worried about the possible one state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, which means there is no Jewish state. This could be a dangerous disaster and we will fight it in every way possible.”

Abe Foxman on the Trump-Netanyahu meeting — by Jacob Kornbluh: “The optics are better. The sounds are better. There is a warmth and friendliness. All these things are good. But we are dealing with the shifting sands of the Middle East and Washington. This is the one area where President Trump has shifted from where he was very dramatically. So, the devil is in the details. The truth is that even with U.S. intervention and initiation, there was no peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. So without it, you know, to say ‘I don’t care,’ I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere.”

On Trump and Netanyahu hashing out the idea of regional peace: “You know what? Egypt had an interest to make peace — it made peace. Jordan had an interest to make peace — it made peace. That interest did not lead them to push a Palestinian peace. If what unites all these countries today is Iran, they can deal with Iran without a solution on the Palestinian problem. It’s just the reverse. If they want to go public, it’s only after there’s a solution. I am not sure that’s going to go anywhere. But time will tell. At least, there’s no tension and no anger, and that’s nice. It’s a good feeling to watch it.”

On Trump backing away from the two-state solution: “Netanyahu cannot be ‘holier than the Pope.’ If the President says he doesn’t care if it’s one or two states, you can’t expect the Prime Minister to insist on two states. But the truth is, there is no reality in a one-state solution.”

Foxman on Trump acknowledging the Jewish nature of the Holocaust: “He came very close to it, but he didn’t deal with it. He didn’t close the controversy (surrounding the WH Holocaust statement). He had an opportunity to close that issue and he just stepped up to it and didn’t do it. These were prepared remarks. I would’ve talked about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism clearly. And there again, somebody in the White House has an issue with that subject, not willing to give him the opportunity to put it to rest, and that’s troubling.”

“Trump-Netanyahu meeting: Tell me what you heard from Trump, and I will tell you what you want” by Shmuel Rosner: “Trump promised nothing. He did not promise to move an embassy to Jerusalem, nor did he promise to do something about Iran that his predecessor did not do… There were many platitudes in the press conference, and the leaders’ body language was relaxed. But what about substance? … Trump is wiser than Obama when it comes to dealing with Israel. Obama began his relations with Israel by being critical, and by making demands. Trump is making similar demands – restrain settlements – he professes similar ambitions – bring about peace. But he manages to do all of this without alienating Israel. Count it as an achievement.” [JewishJournal

“Netanyahu’s High With Trump Portends an Inevitable Fall” by Chemi Shalev: “Trump’s battiness should serve as a warning signal: As long as Netanyahu praises Trump as he did on Wednesday, as long as he doesn’t cross him or insult him, the Prime Minister will continue to be welcomed and embraced. But when he won’t – and that moment will come – he will fondly remember the great opening night he had in Washington, from which he could only fall.” [Haaretz]

“Melania Trump debuts as White House hostess alongside Netanyahus” by Kate Bennett: “Following the news conference, she hosted Sara Netanyahu on a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. “As we remember, with deep humility and reverence, the historic plight of slavery which the Jewish and African-American people have known all too well, we rededicate ourselves to those powerful words that both our nations hold dear: “NEVER AGAIN!” Melania Trump said in a statement to CNN.” [CNN]

TRUMP TEAM: “Where Is Rex Tillerson? Top Envoy Keeps Head Down and Travels Light” by Gardiner Harris: “Having decided to spend Wednesday flying to Bonn so he could get a good night’s sleep before the Group of 20 meeting, [Rex] Tillerson sent [his acting deputy Thomas A.] Shannon to Mr. Trump’s meetings with the Israeli prime minister instead… Mr. Tillerson has said almost nothing publicly since the Senate confirmed him for the job two weeks ago… The very public rejection of [Elliott] Abrams by Mr. Trump sent a chill through the ranks of other Republican foreign policy veterans.” [NYTimes]

“Conway, Pence, You Name It—Being Around Trump Ruins Them” by Matt Lewis: “Kellyanne Conway… seemed to calm things down a bit, which no doubt helped Trump win… Today, it appears she has morphed into Katrina Pierson… Kellyanne is seen as someone who is either a liar or—maybe worse in Washington—simply out of the loop… Like Conway, Vice President Mike Pence was once seen as someone who could soften Trump’s rough edges and serve as a bridge to both movement conservatives and mainstream journalists. And just like Conway, it is now clear that Pence is out of the loop.” [DailyBeast]

“White House Plans to Have Trump Ally Review Intelligence Agencies” by James RIsen and Matthew Rosenberger: “The possible role for Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, has met fierce resistance among intelligence officials already on edge because of the criticism the intelligence community has received from Mr. Trump during the campaign and since he became president… There has been no announcement of Mr. Feinberg’s job, which would be based in the White House, but he recently told his company’s shareholders that he is in discussions to join the Trump administration… Mr. Feinberg, who has close ties to Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, declined to comment on his possible position.” [NYTimes] • Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns [WSJ]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Russia, Iran Need Each Other, Despite Disagreements” by Yaroslav Trofimov: “Iran and Russia aren’t often on the same page in the Middle East. But if President Donald Trump’s administration attempts to drive a wedge between the two, there is precious little incentive it can offer Moscow to abandon its crucial partner. Confronting Iran while also improving relations with Russia and turning it into an ally against “radical Islam” have emerged as two early foreign-policy priorities for the new U.S. administration.” [WSJ] • U.S., Middle East Allies Explore Arab Military Coalition: Potential alliance would share intelligence with Israel, with the goal of countering Iran’s influence [WSJ]

STATE SIDE: “Illinois Gubernatorial Primary Might Pit a Millionaire Against a Billionaire” by John McCormick: “The potential contest -– [Chris] Kennedy declared his intention to run last week, and [J.B.] Pritzker stopped just a bit shy of doing so in a Bloomberg interview Tuesday — would be for the right to challenge another very rich man, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. “If I ran, I would self-fund,” said Pritzker… One Democrat who could find himself picking between a Kennedy and a Pritzker would be former President Barack Obama, who has close ties to both families. Besides serving in Obama’s Cabinet, Penny Pritzker was the national finance chairwoman for his first White House bid.” [Bloomberg]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: JI reader Scott Shay writes… ‘Fix corporate taxes by tying them to American workers’ [TheHill] • Universal Takes Minority Stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin [THR] • Vornado’s Roth: ‘Board has a robust succession plan if I get hit by a bus’ [REW• Tinder’s Sean Rad On How Technology And Artificial Intelligence Will Change Dating [Forbes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Miami Beach multifamily development site sells for $31M” by Brian Bandell: “Caton Owner, owned by Sarah Boymelgreen, Shmuel Boymelgreen and Chen Lamdan, sold the 1.08-acre site at 340 W. 42nd Street to JP Roosevelt LLC, managed by New York attorney Brian Itzkowitz. The property was acquired for $21 million in August 2015. Caton Owner received city approval to build 49 residential units. The 88,116-square-foot building designed by Arquitectonica would have seven townhouses and 42 condos.” [BizJournals

TALK OF OUR NATION: “‘Telephone terrorism’ has rattled 48 Jewish centers. Is anyone paying attention?” by Daniel Burke: “In all, 48 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando’s, received multiple threats. No bombs have been found, but Jewish leaders hesitate to label the calls “hoaxes.” The chaos and terror the calls have caused are real, as are more tangible consequences. Some wonder why the threats haven’t garnered more media attention and lament the spike in hate crimes seemingly incited by the divisive 2016 presidential campaign.” [CNN]

MEDIA WATCH — “Gizmodo Ads Target Potential Trump Leakers” by Lukas Alpert: “The Gizmodo Media Group’s investigative team has taken to buying highly-targeted Facebook ads to steer potential leakers to a new website, TellOnTrump.com, which lays out a variety of secure methods to pass on sensitive information. The Univision Communications Inc.-owned media group started running ads on the social media platform within the last week that specifically target people who list certain government agencies as their employers.” [WSJ] • Of note: Univision’s chairman is Haim Saban

An editor’s note regarding a story about Cordish Companies by The NY Daily News editor: “A Daily News story posted on January 18, 2017 focused on President Trump’s appointment of Reed Cordish as his assistant for intergovernmental and technology initiatives… The story reported on three lawsuits that asserted discrimination claims against Cordish Companies and its affiliates. While the story drew on court filings and sworn testimony to describe allegations leveled against Cordish Companies and affiliates, it has become clear since publication that the article contained several inaccurate statements, as well as omissions. Accordingly, the Daily News has taken down the article… The story failed to report that a judge dismissed the case on summary judgment for lack of evidence.” [NYDailyNews]  

COMING SOON: “Tel Aviv, we’re coming back for a TechCrunch Meetup + Pitch-Off” by Romain Dillet: “During the Pitch-Off, a dozen local startups will all compete and pitch for 60 seconds in front of judges. Those local VCs and TechCrunch editors will then ask some tough questions. At the end of the night, we’ll crown the winners. We’ll give them the opportunity to come to the big show — TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin in December 2017. I’m sure you can’t wait to apply for the pitch-off competition. Stay tuned as the applications will open in May.” [TC]

SHOTS FIRED: “30-somethings who dig co-living are losers: Yardeni” by Rich Bockmann: “Ofer Yardeni, who’s known mostly as a value-add multifamily investor and landlord, also considers himself something of an expert on development. “If you are a 35-year-old and you live in [WeLive or Common], you are a loser,” the Stonehenge Partners CEO said to riotous laughter Wednesday morning during a panel discussion on the city’s multifamily market. “I’m sorry, but if you live with 10 people and you share breakfast or lunch… where do you go with your girlfriend?” Yardeni was referring to shared-housing spaces such as WeWork’s WeLive platform and the startup Common, which he said provides a valuable service for young renters in their early to mid-20s, but not a scalable business like traditional multi-family housing…” [TRD

“In the Annals of Party Throwing, Steven Schwarzman Has Some Competition” by Stuart Emmrich: “Perhaps the most visible couple during the latter stages of the Reagan era was Saul and Gayfryd Steinberg… In 1988, the Steinbergs were said to have spent $3 million (or roughly $6.1 million in today’s dollars) on the wedding of Saul’s daughter Laura to the real-estate heir Jonathan Tisch — a candlelight ceremony at the Central Synagogue on Lexington Avenue, with the bride and her 10 attendants dressed in gowns by Arnold Scaasi, followed by a sit-down dinner for 500 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that featured centerpieces of gilded magnolia leaves and spring branches. It was covered by the Metro Section of The New York Times, which stated simply, “It was a power wedding.” A year later, in August, 1989, Gayfryd spent $1 million on Saul’s 50th birthday party, held at their estate in Quogue, on Long Island.” [NYTimes]

“Kushner’s convictions are irrelevant in $600M fraud case, judge rules again” by Craig McCarthy: “Superior Court Judge Vincent LeBlon ruled — for the second time — the real estate developer’s convictions were irrelevant to the case, in which a mistrial was declared last week… “That was a personal conviction,” LeBlon said in Middlesex Superior Court Tuesdayafternoon… “It was not a conviction linked to the Kushner Companies. [Charles] Kushner is not a defendant.” “ [NJAdvance

“Kushner family to back out of deal to buy Marlins if Jeffrey Loria is nominated as Ambassador to France” by John Healy: “Loria reached a “handshake agreement” to sell the Marlins for $1.6 billion to Charles Kushner, the father of Trump’s son-in-law, last week but if Loria is being considered as Ambassador to France then the Kushner’s feel it would not be in either party’s best interest to pursue the purchase. Kushner’s son-in-law released a statement to the New York Times on Wednesday explaining why…”

“Our family has been friends with Jeff Loria for over 30 years, been in business together, and even owned an AAA baseball team together,” the statement read. “Although the Kushners have made substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins, recent reports suggest that Mr. Loria will soon be nominated by the President to be Ambassador to France. If that is true, we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process and will not pursue it. The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time.” [DailyNewsSunSentinel

SPORTS BLINK: “NFL players flap upends Israel’s PR game plan” by Andrew Silow-Carroll: “Perhaps [Michael] Bennett and the other no-show players caved to the BDS side, although the NFL story is playing in Israel as a fumble on the part of [Ministers Gilad] Erdan and [Yariv] Levin. By making explicit the implicit purpose of the “mission,” they put the players in an untenable position… To Bennett’s credit, he signals that he has an open mind, and that when he does visit, he’ll hear from both sides.” [JTA]

“Skating, and Scoring, for God’s Glory” by Corey Kilgannon: “In their second season, the Maccabees, named for a band of ancient Jewish freedom fighters, are doing their faith proud and bringing athletic acclaim to this college in northern Manhattan better known for training religiously devout students than turning out powerhouse sports teams. This unlikely band of Orthodox Jewish students is tearing up the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association, against teams with few or no Jewish players and more resources.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT: “How One Jerusalem Joint Is Dealing with Israel’s Terrible Restaurant Wages” by Ilan Ben Zion: “Crave’s prices are slightly higher than average—NIS 33 ($8.80) for a half liter of craft beer instead of NIS 30 ($8), for example—to account for service, but the food and experience more than makes up for the difference. For [James] Oppenheim, tipping culture simply generates bad vibes—between customer and waiters, between waiters and owners, between wait staff and the guys in the kitchen sweating buckets to get food cooked and dishes cleaned. By dispensing with tips, waiters can focus more on quality of service, server Naomi Yitzhak said. Staff make between $10 and $12 an hour, well above minimum wage.” [Munchies]

“James Beard 2017 Semifinalists: Brad Kilgore and Zak the Baker Among Miami Nods” by Laine Doss: “The Beard Awards are the culinary world’s equivalent of the Oscars, and winning an award — or even being nominated — can mean more customers for a restaurant and an upward trajectory for a chef… Miami’s most beloved bread-maker, Zak Stern, AKA Zak the Baker, has received a nod for Outstanding Baker.” [MiamiNewTimes]

“There’s Now a Kosher Italian Restaurant in the Former Scratch Bar Space in Beverly Hills” by Besha Rodell: “Mazal’rella is owned by Karen Attias, who recently moved here from Paris, where there are many kosher Italian restaurants. She wanted to re-create that convergence of Italian food, bistro atmosphere and kosher status (Mazal’rella is certified Kosher Cholov Yisroel under the Orthodox Union) here in L.A. She’s installed a pizza oven, and is serving lunch and dinner menus of Neapolitan-style pizzas.” [LAWeekly

BIRTHDAYS: Novelist, Holocaust survivor, winner of the Bialik Prize (1979) and the Israel Prize (1983), author of novels that are focused on Jewish life in Europe before, during and after World War II, Aharon Appelfeld turns 85… Billionaire business magna, recently named Special Advisor to President Trump on Regulatory Reform, Carl Icahn turns 81… Educator, theorist, writer and professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, Michael Joseph Shapiro turns 77… Ecuador-born, Director of Institutional Advancement at the Washington DC JCC, veteran of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum as counsel and director of external affairs (1988-1999), Ralph Grunewald turns 61… Marrakech, Morocco-born as Sonia Esther Lasry, co-founder, president and managing partner of Avenue Capital Group, Sonia Gardner turns 55… Co-director of “Women for Israel’s Tomorrow” (better known as Women in Green), a grassroots Israeli movement supporting settlements and annexation, Nadia Matar turns 51… Associate Regional Director of Birthright Israel Foundation, previously at NYC’s Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation, Marissa Schaevitz Levey turns 33… CEO of FinePoint, a PR, communications and professional development company, Meredith Fineman turns 30… Singer-songwriter and guitarist, Danielle Haim turns 28… Deputy national health, science and environment editor at the Washington Post, formerly at Politico, Susan K. Levine (h/t Playbook)… Amy Kurtz… Rachel Rubenstein… Eric McDonald

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