Daily Kickoff: Bibi’s version of Air Force One | Sheldon sets sights on Japan | Bradley Tusk, SV’s Trump Whisperer | Spielberg’s mother dies at 97

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “After delay and amid pressure, Trump denounces racism and anti-Semitism” by Abby Phillip and John Wagner: “For a president who prides himself on a freewheeling approach to leadership, Trump’s demeanor on Monday was notably somber and disciplined. The appearance stood in stark contrast to the flashes of irritation he showed at a news conference last week at the White House, when he dismissed questions from reporters about… his lack of response to a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the country.” [WashPost] • Netanyahu praises Trump for ‘strong stand’ on anti-Semitism [ToI

“The statement came after weeks of private complaints from leaders of major Jewish organizations to members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about the president’s seeming unwillingness to speak out forcefully against anti-Semitic acts.” [NYTimes]

In a memo sent to Jewish Insider, the White House insisted that “anti-Semitic threats, attacks, and vandalism will not be tolerated by the Trump administration” and that the recent bomb threats and acts of vandalism will continue to be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice. The White House said that despite the perception that Trump has turned a blind eye on an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, “this issue is near and dear to the President’s heart, as a religious man himself and as the father of a Jewish daughter and grandfather of Jewish grandchildren.” JCCs “serve a critical role in their communities, opening their doors for people of all backgrounds to share in their resources and participate in their activities,” the memo read. [JewishInsider

– At the daily press briefing, WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer lamented the Anne Frank Center for criticism of Trump’s slow response to the rise in anti-Semitism: “I wish that they had praised the President for his leadership in this area. The President has made clear since the day he was elected and frankly through the campaign that he seeks to unite the country… It’s ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this, it’s never good enough. Today, I think, was an unbelievably forceful comment by the President as far as his denunciation of the actions that are currently targeted towards Jewish community centers. But I think that he’s been very clear previous to this… I wish that they had praised the President for his leadership in this area.” [YouTube

HEARD YESTERDAY ON TV — Anne Frank Center’s Steven Goldstein on MSNBC’s The Last Word: “Trump quacks, walks, and talks like an anti-Semite. That makes him an anti-Semite.” [Twitter

Alan Dershowitz on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon: “I am critical of what he (Trump) said, but I am not as critical as this tiny, little fringe organization that is getting so much publicity – the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect – that nobody ever heard of until today, and that is not representative of the Jewish community. He went way, way overboard. This is not the most anti-Semitic Administration in modern history.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier on CNN’s “AC360” program: “Every time Donald Trump kisses his Jewish grandchild, he’s repudiating anti-Semitism.”

Abe Foxman, former National Director of the ADL and current Director of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, tells us: “I welcome the clear condemnation of anti -Semitism by POTUS. I just wish it had not taken so long to come… The Anne Frank Center’s response to the President is inappropriate and politicized. It does not speak for me as a survivor and as an American Jew.”

Michael Oren‏: “As one who experienced anti-Semitism growing up in the US, I reaffirm Israel’s commitment to stand with American Jews against hate crimes.” [Twitter

DNC WATCH — Keith Ellison tweets: “These attacks are part of a larger pattern. A pattern Donald Trump’s done little to condemn and nothing to stop. Why has it taken Donald Trump so long to even say the word “anti-Semitism?” Perhaps it has something to do with placating his base?” [Twitter]

“Trump condemns anti-Semitism but can’t stop questions about his motives” by Stephen Collinson: “Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a CNN senior political commentator, said he was “befuddled” over why Trump had not spoken out before. “This is a President who to me is very much a mensch,” Santorum told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, using the Yiddish term for a person of decency and integrity.” [CNN

“Why was it so darned hard to get Trump to condemn anti-Semitism?” by Paul Waldman: “The real answer to that journalist’s question is that there isn’t much the federal government can do about anti-Semitism…. But the only real power the president has is the bully pulpit, which he can use to help define what is and isn’t acceptable in American society. Trump finally got around to doing that — but it was obviously against his will.” [WashPost• Trump too late in denouncing anti-Semitic acts, critics say [USAToday

“‘Quiet! Quiet! Quiet!’ was not necessarily the wrong response to a question about Trump and anti-Semitism” by Shmuel Rosner: “It shows that Trump cares, that he does not accept lightly the implied allegation that he is, in some way, friendly towards anti-Semitism. The fact that Trump cares about such allegations means that Trump sees anti-Semitism as evil. It means that Trump refuses to be portrayed as someone aiding and abetting evil.” [JewishJournal]

“Trump And The Jews Echoes A Timely Tale” by Gary Rosenblatt: “Surely the Purim story will inspire intriguing parallels to current events when read this year. There is the malleable monarch (Ahasuerus/Trump) whose beautiful queen (Vashti/Melania) has distanced herself from the seat of power; the wicked adviser (Bannon, which doesn’t rhyme with Haman), rivaled by the elegant empress (Esther/Ivanka) who seeks to calm the king through the advice of the man she trusts (Mordechai/Jared). Will the young couple prevail, convincing the persuadable president to ignore the menacing manipulator and assure security for the Jewish citizens of the land?” [NYJewishWeek

“What’s on the Minds of America’s Jewish Leaders?” by Judy Maltz: “Unfortunately so many of the president’s supporters seem to feel they have a license now to speak in ways that are not just disrespectful, but truly a terrorism of another kind,” said Margo Gold, international president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. “For the Israelis to reach the president with that message would be very important.” Steve Seiden, chair of the JCC Association of North America, concurred. “Anything Israel can do to convince our new president to address the issue head-on that anti-Semitism is a problem and to acknowledge it, I think will go a long way toward eliminating threats we have to deal with,” he said.” [Haaretz

HAPPENING IN VEGAS: “Dick Cheney will intro Pence at Republican Jewish Coalition event” by Alex Isenstadt: “Cheney is slated introduce the current vice president, Mike Pence, at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s meeting in Las Vegas this week. The two are scheduled to speak on Friday evening… The event will be held at [Sheldon] Adelson’s posh Venetian hotel… On Thursday evening, Adelson will host a private dinner at his home that will be attended by many of the organization’s board members and top donors. The dinner will also be attended by fellow Las Vegas billionaire Steve Wynn, a Trump ally who recently was tapped to be the Republican National Committee’s finance director. Others expected to attend the meeting include South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner, and Cheney’s daughter, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney.” [Politico

“Australian PM criticizes UN as Israeli PM arrives for state visit” by Colin Packham: “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull… welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and reiterated Australia’s support for a two-state solution… However, he also made clear Australia would not support any resolutions such as the one approved by the United Nations Security Council in December… “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the U.N Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state,” Turnbull wrote in an editorial in The Australian newspaper.” [ReutersNYTimes] • Billionaire Gina Rinehart joins Australia’s movers and shakers at a lunch for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [DailyMail]

“Netanyahu close to landing Kosher version of air force one” by Paul Cleary: “When it is rolled out in coming months, Israel’s Air Force One looks set to become the ultimate boy toy. But the expensive plane is being sold as a means of enabling Israel to engage more with the world, as the Prime Minister and President have been restricted in where they can travel on existing charter planes. Israel’s Channel 2 has reported that some of the fittings include the Flight Guard missile defence system, which is designed to protect the plane from shoulder-fired missiles during take-off and landing.” [TheAustralian]

ALTERNATIVE VIEWS — US torpedoed peace summit by trying to impose conclusions, Israeli official says: “The new comment by a senior official close to Netanyahu was reported late on Tuesday by Israel Radio. According to this source, the regional peace effort failed because the Obama administration sought to impose the terms of an agreement, and “Netanyahu could not agree to this,” the radio report said.” [ToI

TERRORISTS IN TEHRAN: “At Tehran Gala, Cakes, Fruit and Anti-Israeli Slogans” by Thomas Erdbrink: “Everything was in place on Tuesday for a gala celebration at Iran’s annual conference in support of Palestinians. Awaiting the hundreds of guests was a table piled high with cakes and fruit, with plenty of tea to wash it all down and a placard saying, “Netanyahu: Go to Hell.” Prominent seatings were reserved for the heads of Parliament for Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Syria, as well as the leaders of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah. All three have offices in the Iranian capital and all have received money, intelligence and even weapons from Iran…” [NYTimes]

NYC 2017 WATCH: “Jeffries rules out mayoral run, Garodnick explores bid” by Josh Dawsey: “Meanwhile, Councilman Dan Garodnick, a Manhattan Democrat who lost his bid to become the City Council Speaker in 2014, has talked with donors, consultants and others about running for mayor. Garodnick has told these people he would want a one-on-one race with de Blasio and would be interested if he saw a path, but isn’t sure if there is one… Comptroller Scott Stringer has told others that his own potential bid would hinge on the outcome of the investigation. Last week, Stringer said it was “safe to assume” he will stay in his current job, and a number of lobbyists, donors and consultants said they do not expect Stringer to run.” [Politico] • These millennials can’t wait to run for NYC mayor [NYPost]

** Good Wednesday 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: Investors Bet on Israel Tech Stock Windfall Under Trump [Reuters• Sands’ Adelson Sees Japan as Ultimate Business Opportunity [Bloomberg; Fortune• Jeff Sutton raises $233M on Tel Aviv bond market [TRD• Carl Icahn has reportedly taken a stake in Bristol-Myers and its shares are jumping [BusinessInsider] • Chinese Firms Rush to Cash In on Ivanka Trump: Dozens of companies in Beijing want to trademark the First Daughter’s name [VanityFair]

“Ivanka Trump and daughter go to the Supreme Court” by Betsy Klein: “Ivanka Trump is hearing oral arguments at the Supreme Court Wednesday, a court spokesperson confirmed. The first daughter is there as an invited guest as Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom she met at the inaugural lunch at the Capitol last month just after her father’s swearing-in ceremony. Trump is listening to a technical case examining the question: “Do Arbitration Agreements between Nursing Homes and Patients Violate Public Policy or are they enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act.” Her daughter, Arabella Kushner, accompanied her mother.” [CNN]

“Fraud case against Kushner Companies ends in undisclosed settlements” by Craig McCarthy: “The undisclosed settlement between the New York-based development company and Neil and Lauren Hunter was announced Tuesday morning in front of Middlesex Superior Court Judge Vincent LeBlon… “We are eager to move ahead with the redevelopment of our property in Perth Amboy,” Kushner Companies spokesman James Yolles said in an emailed statement.” [NJUSAToday] • Breaking Down Jared Kushner And His Family’s $1.8 Billion Fortune [Forbes]

PROFILE: “A Silicon Valley Political Fixer Is Reinventing Himself As A Trump Whisperer” by William Alden: “For Bradley Tusk, a political consultant who made a fortune helping Uber win important regulatory battles, finding new tech clients was a challenge, he told BuzzFeed News recently… “‘There was this mentality of, “Oh, I went to Stanford, I was in Y Combinator, John Doerr is on my board, and once this stupid regulator sees how smart I am, they’re going to do whatever I want,”‘ said Tusk, an ex-aide of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, as he sipped a latte at a Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco. Now, President Donald Trump is on everyone’s mind, and Tusk is highly in demand.” [BuzzFeed

STARTUP NATION: “Netanyahu visit ‘very exciting’ for Australian business” by Anne Hyland: “The largest ever delegation of Israeli companies will meet with business and government leaders this week in Sydney as both nations seek to forge closer ties. Prominent business leaders including tech venture capitalist Paul Bassat, the co-founder of SEEK and Square Peg Capital, businessman, investor and former Hoyts Cinemas chief executive Peter Ivany and non-executive director Jillian Segal will be among those attending a range of meetings during the visit. The group of 23 Israeli companies visiting Australia span energy, technology and medical innovations.” [AFR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “At Jewish Cemetery, Seeking Answers Amid Heartbreak” by Monica Davey and Alan Blinder: “You hope it’s not a resurgence of something, of anti-Semitism, but I don’t know,” Herschel Price, 87, of Creve Coeur, Mo., said as he walked toward the graves of his mother and father. “This is holy ground,” his wife, Margie, said, “and all I feel now is heartbreak.” [NYTimes

“American Muslims raising money to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery” by Colby Itkowitz: “Tarek El-Messidi, who created the campaign with fellow activist, Linda Sarsour, said when he saw the news about the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis suburb of University City, he was reminded of a story about the prophet Muhammad, who had stood up when a Jewish funeral procession passed. When asked why, he said, “Is it not a human soul?” … El-Messidi said he’s been communicating with the director of the cemetery who was going to send him an exact estimate of the damages, but he doesn’t have that figure yet. If they raise more than is needed, he said they will keep a leftover fund that will be used to counter anti-Semitic hate.” [WashPost] • BDS activist raises $56,000 for vandalized Jewish cemetery [ToI]

“Andy Cohen Discusses His Personal Connection to Vandalized Jewish Cemetery” by Jackson McHenry:On Monday night’s episode of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen took a moment to address the recent spate of threats and other acts of hate against Jewish community centers across the country. Cohen noted that this news struck close to home, as his great-grandparents and many of his relatives are buried in a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis that was vandalized over the weekend. “I don’t have to have a personal connection, though, to know that this is not who we are as Americans,” he added. “We cannot allow acts of hate against anyone to become normal.”” [Vulture]

“Burned in the ovens, drowned at sea, rammed by vehicles, bombed to pieces or marched to death. Where does the world want Jews – or any of us – today?” by Erin Schrode: ““Fire up the ovens,” countless people have told me – in emails and across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. “You’re the oven-dodging kike who doesn’t belong in America but in Hell,” I heard, reinforcing the idea that I do not belong in the country in which I was born, in which I am a citizen, in which I have created a life… I have never been more acutely aware of the fact that I am Jewish than at this moment in history, with the newfound spike in anti-Semitism and hate crimes throughout the campaign season and since the election of the new President.” [JewishJournal

“Ari and Rahm Emanuel’s Doctor Brother Ezekiel Joins Fox News” by The Wrap’s Brian Flood: “Emanuel, the brother of Hollywood agent Ari and Chicago mayor Rahm, will offer healthcare and policy analysis across Fox News and Fox Business Network. From January 2009 until January 2011, Emanuel served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council in former President Barack Obama’s administration, where he was notably one of the designers of the Affordable Care Act.” [Yahoo]

CONDOLENCES: “Steven Spielberg’s Mother, Leah Adler, Dies at 97” by Dave McNary: “Steven Spielberg’s mother, Leah Adler, known for operating The Milky Way restaurant in Los Angeles, died Tuesday at her Los Angeles home surrounded by her children. She was 97… She told “60 Minutes” that Steven Spielberg “ran the family” and remembered him fighting back against anti-Semitic neighbors: “We lived in an all non-Jewish neighborhood. These people used to chant, “The Spielberg’s are dirty Jews.” And one night, Steve climbed out of his bedroom window and peanut buttered their windows, which I thought was marvelous.” She is survived by her four children along with 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.” [Variety; JewishJournal]

DESSERT: “Food and Wine Festival to feature Israeli cuisine” by Sergio Carmona: “Israeli and kosher cuisines will be included during the 16th annual Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival. This festival, taking place from Feb. 22-26 in Miami Beach, will include a few dinners during the festival hosted by Israeli chefs such as Uri Jeremias, Alon Shaya and Michael Solomonov…. The festival has paired up Shaya — whose namesake Shaya in New Orleans is the reigning Best New U.S. Restaurant according to the James Beard Foundation — with local bread man Zak the Baker (Zak Stern) and a handful of other chefs to host the festival’s second Kosher event in its history. Look forward to a cornucopia of grilled meats, crusty breads and creative takes on barbecue, with sides, all paired with wine, beer, cider and tequila cocktails.” [SunSentinel; MiamiHerald]

BIRTHDAYS: Chief strategist for both Obama presidential campaigns, now director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and a CNN commentator, David Axelrod turns 62… Winner of multiple awards and fellowships as a poet, essayist and educator (Temple U and Drew U among others), was the first ever poet laureate of New Jersey, Gerald Stern turns 92… Psychologist specializing in personality theory and social psychology, professor at Harvard (1958-1962), Stanford (1962-1983) and Columbia (1983-present), Walter Mischel turns 87… 1969 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Dutch singer-songwriter especially popular in France, she converted to Judaism and her children live in Israel, Lenny Kuhr turns 67… President of the New York Yankees since January 2000, executive producer for the YES Network, Randy Levine turns 62… Winner of five major golf championships and 24 other LPGA Tour championships, member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, now a golf course architect, Amy Alcott turns 61… Program coordinator at Cincinnati’s Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, Lisa Shusterman turns 58… Actress, comedian and cast member of Saturday Night Live (1999-2006), her 2012 autobiography is titled “Girl Walks Into a Bar: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters and a Midlife Miracle,” Rachel Dratch turns 51… Israeli soccer player (1990-2004) on domestic teams, on the Israeli national team and on European teams in both Spain and Turkey, now a successful Israeli businessman, Haim Michael Revivo turns 45… Miranda May turns 24 (h/t Nate Rosen)… Jacob Herber… Chloe Staton

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