Daily Kickoff: David Magerman confronts boss over Trump support | Ellison clarifies past comments | NORPAC defends Menendez | Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish?
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WOW — Incredible Read: “‘You Have to Stop,’ Renaissance Executive David Magerman Tells Boss About Trump Support” by Gregory Zuckerman: “David Magerman says he was in his home office in suburban Philadelphia earlier this month when the phone rang. His boss, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was on the line. “I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist,” Mr. Mercer said. “That’s ridiculous.” … “Those weren’t my exact words,” Mr. Magerman said he told Mr. Mercer, stammering and then explaining his concerns about Mr. Trump’s policy positions, rhetoric and cabinet choices. “If what you’re doing is harming the country then you have to stop.”
“Until now, however, nobody within the tight-lipped hedge fund has gone public with a grievance. “His views show contempt for the social safety net that he doesn’t need, but many Americans do,” said Mr. Magerman, 48 years old, during an interview with The Wall Street Journal at the Dairy Café, a kosher restaurant he owns in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. “Now he’s using the money I helped him make to implement his worldview” by supporting Mr. Trump and encouraging that “government be shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.” Mr. Magerman, a 20-year Renaissance veteran who helped design the fund’s trading systems, says he is speaking only for himself, and that there is no sign of a broad insurrection at the firm.”
“Mr. Magerman makes millions of dollars a year, drives a Tesla and says he gives more than $10 million in charity annually. A research scientist, he is one of 100 partners at the firm, but he isn’t one of Renaissance’s most senior executives. “I’d like to think I’m speaking out in a way that won’t risk my job, but it’s very possible they could fire me,” he said. “My wife isn’t comfortable with me jeopardizing my job, but she realizes it’s my prerogative and agrees with my sentiments.” Mr. Magerman has one idea that would reduce the power of people like Mr. Mercer. He said he was thinking about reaching out to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to craft proposals to reduce speculative trading, which presumably would curtail Renaissance’s profits. “This is my life’s work—I ran a group that wrote the trading system they still use,” he said. “But I feel relieved I’m now doing something, and if they fire me, maybe it’s for the best.”” [WSJ]
–Flashback: “The Controversial David Magerman” by Simon Van Zuylen-Wood in September 2013: “Wealthy Main Liner David Magerman has given millions to Philadelphia’s Jewish community. The Jewish community is thankful. Sort of.” [PhillyMag]
DNC WATCH — Yesterday, at the final debate ahead of the election for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee taking place on Saturday, Rep. Keith Ellison addressed past comments, including praise for Louis Farrakhan, controversial views towards the Jewish community and his position on the U.S. – Israel relationship, that have caused many establishment Jewish Democrats to oppose his candidacy.
“These are false allegations,” Ellison said when asked about his past comments thirteen minutes into the live TV debate in Atlanta, “and that’s why I have 300 rabbis and Jewish community leaders who have signed a letter supporting me… I have a long, strong history of interfaith dialogue, interfaith communication, and that’s why in my own community, I have strong support from the Jewish community. So these are smears and we’re fighting back every day, but we’re fighting back with people who know us. I just want to say, it is critical that we speak up against this anti-Semitism because right now, you have Jewish cemeteries being defaced and desecrated. Right now, you have Jewish institutions getting bomb threats. We have to stand with the Jewish community right here, right now, four square, and that’s what the Democratic Party is all about.”
Ellison on Democratic concerns of his Israel record: “Here’s what I say, I voted for $27 billion in bilateral aid to Israel over the course of about six or seven votes. I have been to the region many times and sat down with members of the Knesset and worked with them. I’ve been a stalwart champion of the two-state solution, which means that we’ve got to have Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security. And I have made that a very key cornerstone of my advocacy… I believe that the U.S.-Israel relationship is special and important. I’ve stood for that principle my whole service and my whole career. And you can trust when I’m the DNC chair that that relationship will continue. We will maintain the bipartisan consensus of U.S. support for Israel if I’m the DNC chair.” [YouTube]
INTERVIEW — JI’s Aaron Magid spoke with NORPAC National President Ben Chouake who spoke out against attacks on Sen. Bob Menendez for questioning David Friedman, while implying concerns around dual loyalty, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week.
“Out of all the Democratic Senators, by far, Senator Menendez posed the most generous and friendly questions to Mr. Friedman,” Chouake told Jewish Insider in a phone interview on Wednesday. “He was trying to help Mr. Friedman explain himself and give him a lay-up so that he could bat it out of the park. The intention of Senator Menendez was to get reassurance from Mr. Friedman that he could do his job given his passion… It’s horrible and inappropriate because Senator Menendez is the exact opposite of anti-Semitic. I am working with this guy for 20 years. He is the go to person in the Senate. He is the person who spends day and night fighting for us. How do you accuse someone like that of anti-Semitism? The guy took a bullet for us on Iran.”
Chouake on ADL’s deleted tweet criticizing Menendez: “Why did they delete it unless they thought they were wrong. You don’t delete stuff that you think is right. The guy asked a question. I don’t know if it was perfectly posed or not. His questioning to Mr. Friedman was very friendly. By far the most friendly Democrat on the panel. I think he was trying to help him. You have to look at everything in the context of what it is and the person who was asking. If I asked the same question, would you call me an anti-Semite? So, why are you calling him an anti-Semite?”
On Friedman as Ambassador to Israel: “I support him because he is committed to the issue and will do a good job. He is also a member of NORPAC. The problem was that he speaks awfully harshly about certain things. He apologized for it and that’s good. His heart is great. I like him and know the guy.” Read the entire interview here [Jewish Insider]
DRIVING THIS WEEKEND: “Pence, Adelson to meet privately” by Theodore Schleifer: “…a meeting that cements the Republican billionaire’s place as a key adviser to the new administration. Pence, who is speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition that meets at Adelson’s hotel and casino in Las Vegas, The Venetian, will chat formally with Adelson just before he addresses the entire RJC on Friday evening, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.” [CNN]
–We’re told prior to Pence’s remarks at Shabbat dinner, the RJC will be hosting Friday evening prayer services with expected participation from over 150 attendees.
“Pence makes stop at Jewish cemetery in Missouri where gravestones were toppled” by John Wagner: “From the heart, there’s no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” Pence said from the bed of a pickup truck, speaking through a bullhorn at an event organized to clean up the damage. “I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri…” Pence made his unadvertised visit to the cemetery shortly after delivering a speech… on the economy…“We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms,” he said… While at the cemetery on Wednesday, Pence also heard a prayer from a rabbi and joined Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in clearing brush.” [WashPost]
— From WH pool report: “Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Karen Aroesty spoke to Pence briefly just before he hopped onto the bed of the pickup. She said. “I want to thank you for being here and thank the president for his words. We look forward to doing whatever we can to help. We’re a resource for you if you want. Being here today is important for a lot of people.” “I didn’t want to miss coming,” Pence said… As Pence walked away from delivering remarks he greeted people who had come to the cemetery to volunteer. Many thanked him for being there and the message that sent. One woman asked him how the travel ban was any different than the desecration of the cemetery.”
A bipartisan letter signed by 150 Democratic and Republican House Members, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is running for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, calls on the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to take swift action against the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the country. “We urge the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to swiftly assess the situation and to advise Congress on what specific steps are being taken, or will be taken, to deter such threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators for violations of federal criminal laws, and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards, in the event that an individual seeks to act upon these threats,” the letter states. “This is not an idle concern, given that there have been at least three casualty-causing attacks at JCCs or other Jewish institutions in the last two decades. This is a national problem and, as such, it requires a national solution.” the letter notes. [JewishInsider]
“Clearly, the Trump administration has a problem with Jews” by Bernard-Henri Levy: “I had no idea how right I was, a month ago, when I wrote in The New York Times that American Jews should be wary of their new President… At best, Mr. Netanyahu will go down as a very distant relative of Joseph making an alliance with Pharaoh to protect his people. But we know how that story ends: just as a new pharaoh “arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph” and reduced his descendants to slavery, so, sooner or later, a new president will arise over America. Leading, according to the Talmud, to two equally tragic scenarios. Either the newcomer is indeed a new pharaoh and will associate the Jews with the predecessor whose cause and destiny they so recklessly embraced. Or, as the sages say, he is the same pharaoh but has changed sides. Translating this into present-day terms, the unpredictable Mr. Trump becomes another Mr. Trump; he makes a 180-degree perspective shift in his vision of the Jewish world; and he turns against an Israel about which, at bottom, he cares not a whit and which, therefore, has everything to fear, beginning right here and now, from his cynical “pragmatism.”” [CNN] • A CNN panel debates the president’s anti-Semitism trump card: His daughter Ivanka [WashPost]
“In Israel, Some Wonder Where The Outrage Is Over U.S. Anti-Semitic Acts” by Daniel Estrin: “Netanyahu’s muted response has drawn criticism, including from Yehuda Bauer, the academic advisor of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum. “He follows President Trump,” Bauer says. “He did not react immediately.” … A former adviser to Netanyahu, Dore Gold, says he doesn’t see anything wrong with Netanyahu’s response. “There has been a tendency to politicize this whole issue of anti-Semitism in America,” he says. “Opponents of the Trump administration want to blame it for anti-Semites coming out of the woodwork and attacking Jewish institutions. I think we should all be united in our struggle against anti-Semitism, and not look for a fall guy for what is happening.”” [NPR]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National Headquarters in New York” by Roseanne Colletti: “The bomb threat to the Third Avenue office was anonymous, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt… Police say they got a call about it shortly before noon. An investigation found it not credible. “It’s a frightening moment and it reminds us that the haters and the bigots, they hide in the shadows like cowards and they seek to terrorize us because of our faith,” Greenblatt said on MSNBC Wednesday… Gov. Cuomo called the pattern a “national crisis” and directed the New York State Police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement in the investigation. “We are treating these incidents for what they are — as crimes — and we will not allow them to go unpunished,” Cuomo said in a statement.” [NBC4]
HAPPENING TODAY: Governor Andrew Cuomo will hold a roundtable with Jewish Community and interfaith leaders at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at 2:00 pm EST followed by a press statement.
“Bill Kristol: Hill Republicans asking if they can survive four years of Trump” by Tim Skoczek: “I think if you talk privately to Republicans on the Hill, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what is going on? Can we survive this for four years?'” Kristol told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” … A well-known proponent of a muscular US foreign policy, Kristol also expressed a deep concern with Trump’s “America first” philosophy, which Kristol said signals America’s withdrawal from an unstable world in need of its leadership. The reassurance Kristol found in some of Trump’s Cabinet appointments, he said, has dissipated as Trump navigates the complexities of foreign diplomacy with a worrying degree of impulsiveness and bombast. “I’ve got to say, this first month has been very unnerving to me and to many, many others,” Kristol said.” [CNN]
TRUMP TEAM: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Sees Tax Overhaul by August” by Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos: “In his first week on the job, Mr. Mnuchin has spoken with around 10 foreign counterparts and other leaders… The secretary has been in close contact with National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, his former colleague at Goldman Sachs Group Inc… The two men have a close relationship, a Treasury official said.” [WSJ]
“McMaster May Reorganize Trump’s Foreign Policy Team Once Again” by Peter Baker: “Left uncertain is what, if anything, will happen regarding Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, who has played a major role in shaping foreign policy… Since arriving this week, Mr. McMaster has made a point of going door to door through the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where most national security aides work, to introduce himself and build relations, current and former officials said.” [NYTimes]
“Tillerson looking for ways to raise his public profile” by Nahal Toosi: “Tillerson is “clearly a very talented and able guy,” said Eliot Cohen, a former State official… “The problem is that this is the Trump administration, and one has to surmise that he is not where the president is on some of his zanier days.” … Meanwhile, several dozen Trump-appointed political staffers have arrived in Foggy Bottom… “It’s like high school,” said the State official familiar with Tillerson’s media request. “The Trump people all sit together at the tables at lunch.” The State Department’s ego has been bruised by how rarely Tillerson has appeared alongside Trump. Sources have told POLITICO that the secretary of state was never consulted when Trump, in an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dropped the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Tillerson also was on a trip to Europe when Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C., missing an opportunity for an important visual.” [Politico] • Rex Tillerson: The silent man at the State Department [CBSNews]
“Rex Tillerson Is Already Underwater” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: “At the moment, however, neither the headlines nor the trend lines look all that good for Tillerson. The secretary of state has options to play a more influential role under these unhappy circumstances, but, frankly, none of them are all that good. Unless his boss empowers him, Tillerson won’t have the street cred he needs at home and abroad to emerge as a truly consequential secretary of state.” [PoliticoMag]
How Ivanka Trump is rebranding herself as the grown up First Daughter of America” by Anne McElvoy: “An Arabic speaker — Egyptian by birth, with a network of top contacts in the Middle East from her days working for the Bush administration — [Dina] Powell is, in effect, chief adviser to Ivanka, with a powerful Rolodex of her own across the main parties in Washington. There is speculation that Ivanka is assembling a squad to balance the shoot-from-the-hip ideologists close to her father, to appeal to women who may not be Trump fans but are quietly unconvinced by the liberal feminist arguments against him.” [EveningStandard] • Inside Ivanka Trump’s Campaign for a $500 Billion Child-Care Plan [Bloomberg]
TRUMP ECHO CHAMBER: “How Trump’s campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter” by Tara Palmeri: “If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable,” said former communications director Sam Nunberg… “I would assume the president would like to see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall.” … A former senior campaign official said Nunberg and his successor, former communications director Jason Miller, were particularly skilled at using alternative media like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, Infowars and the Daily Caller to show Trump positive coverage.” [Politico]
“Is Trump Worse Than a Liar?” by David Suissa: “It’s still possible, of course, that despite all the bullshit, some good can come out. Trump may deter evil regimes, support key allies, negotiate better deals, destroy ISIS and add millions of jobs. If he gets out of the way, some members of his team may score a few policy victories. But let’s be frank — for any initiative that will demand deep and grounded thinking from the man on top, it will be touch and go… Trump has brought his bullshit ways into the White House, creating a chaotic reality show that chronicles his alternate reality. As long as he keeps believing in this reality, and getting away with it, all we can expect is that, for better or for worse, the show will go on.” [JewishJournal]
KAFE KNESSET — Netanyahu adds another stop to his busy itinerary — by Tal Shalev: Far away from the troubling reality of criminal probes and political hazards, Netanyahu appears to be enjoying the Grand World BB tour. Currently enjoying the summer sun in Sydney, Australia, the PM announced he will be flying to Moscow in two weeks time. He will meet with President Putin to discuss Israel’s concerns about Syria and Iran. The Russian trip will be the sixth that Netanyahu is taking during February and March. After London, DC, Singapore and Sydney this month, Netanyahu will be spending most of March abroad as well, traveling to Beijing and then back to DC for AIPAC after visiting Moscow. All of the trips have huge strategic and economic significance, but as a senior political figure told Kafe Knesset today, “it looks like Netanyahu is really trying not to be here.” In the wake of the ongoing criminal investigations and political rivals who are waiting to attack, Netanyahu appears to prefer the smiling photo ops with world leaders. He is diverting the public agenda towards statesmanship, an arena in which he has no visible competition to date. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Trump’s settlements policy: “The people working on it are Jason Greenblatt on behalf of Trump and our US ambassador, Ron Dermer. They are both religious Jews. It is impossible to describe either of them as some leftist enemy of Israel… We have to reach an understanding and arrangement with the Americans. What people don’t realize is that we don’t have the option of getting into a quarrel with the Trump administration. We already had eight years of quarrels and conflicts with the Obama administration. That is enough.” [Al-Monitor]
“Parents of slain Israeli soldier meet US envoy at UN” by Danielle Ziri: “During their meeting, the Goldin family requested that Ambassador [Nikki] Haley assist in their efforts for the return of the bodies of their son [Hadar] and Sgt. Oron Shaul, also held in Gaza, for burial in Israel… A spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN said that during the meeting, Ambassador Haley pledged to advocate on behalf of Hadar Goldin and work with Leah and Simcha as well as the Israeli Mission, and other US partners at the UN for the return of Hadar to his family.” [JPost]
ON THE HILL: “Graham to Introduce Bill Cutting Palestinian Aid” by Aaron Magid: “The office of Senator Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday that the South Carolina Republican lawmaker would introduce legislation next week to cut off US assistance to the Palestinian Authority… “This legislation would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members,” according to the Graham press release.” [JewishInsider]
“A legendary deal-maker was asked about the one mistake he made again and again, and his answer was brutal” by Frank Chaparro: “Henry Kravis is a Wall Street legend. The firm he founded with his cousin George Roberts in 1976, KKR, now manages $130 billion… In an interview with Kip McDaniel at Institutional Investor, Kravis was asked to identify a mistake he repeated during his 40 years at KKR. His answer was pretty brutal… Here’s what Kravis had to say… “We might have been too slow in changing out some CEOs of companies we had, keep thinking that he or she will get a lot better… Waiting is a lost opportunity, and we used to wait… I think today we move much faster than we ever did.”” [BI]
“Hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn heading for divorce” by Emily Smith: “The Greenlight Capital founder, whose stock picks move markets, has separated from Cheryl [Strauss Einhorn], whom he married in 1993 before he made his fortune, now estimated at an impressive $1.55 billion. At stake in the upcoming divorce is their nearly 10,000-square-foot home in Rye, NY, and — possibly — his rumored vault of gold stashed at a secret location in New York City. The couple is well-known in New York for their philanthropic work. In 2002, they established the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, “with the vision of building a more peaceful and harmonious society,” according to its Web site.” [NYPost]
“Robert Kraft talks about his friendship with Donald Trump” by Jesse Reed: “Speaking about all this with Andrea Kramer on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Kraft explained his relationship with Donald Trump. “Do I agree with everything he says or espouses? No. But he’s a friend,” Kraft said. “This country is awesome, and whomever is president of the United States, I will try to support. I’ve done that since the 1960s.” Kraft also talked about how loyal President Trump has been to him, noting the support he was given in 2011 when his wife Myra passed away. He said Trump called him “multiple times per week” to console him and see how he was doing.” [MSN] • Robert Kraft to Patriots’ critics: ‘The haters still hate’ [FoxSports]
DESSERT: “Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish? A Chef’s Argentine-Jewish Cuisine” by Tejal Rao: “Mishiguene (crazy in Yiddish), which sits by a sprawling park in Buenos Aires, was the city’s first restaurant to serve traditional Jewish foods in a tasting menu. [Tomás] Kalika called it immigrant cuisine… In March, he plans to open Fayer, his second restaurant in Buenos Aires. Argentina, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, is his inspiration. At Fayer, he will cook more of what he sees as an emerging Argentine-Jewish cuisine — multicultural Jewish influences from across the diaspora, unified by the open-fire grilling and wood smoke that define Argentine cooking… Though the restaurant does not serve kosher food, the whirling, joyful mood during Friday dinners is that of an unconventional Shabbat. There is often drinking and dancing and roars of applause.” [NYTimes]
“Eighteen Café, in Squirrel Hill, offers a unique menu of memorable kosher food “ by Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth: “Eighteen, a kosher wine bar and sit-down restaurant… offers a variety of dishes not traditionally associated with Jewish culture, such as butternut-squash ravioli, pomegranate-glazed salmon and sushi, alongside classic Jewish-deli fare like bagels with lox and Israeli favorites such as hummus and shakshuka. The common thread, aside from being prepared under the supervision of a rabbi, is fish. Aside from eggs, it is the only animal protein on the menu. Eighteen’s pastrami is made from cured salmon, its reuben is made with smoked beets, and there’s even a cheeseburger — with a house-made veggie patty.” [PittsburghCityPaper]
BIRTHDAYS: Philosopher, novelist and public intellectual, earned a Ph.D. from Princeton, winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1996, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein turns 67… Political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz turns 55… Billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, investor, philanthropist and author, Michael Dell turns 52… Movie, stage and television actor, comedian and singer, Josh Gad turns 36… Former director of women’s media at Hillary for America, former deputy press secretary at the Democratic National Committee, Rebecca Chalif turns 31… Bloomberg political reporter (with two years of daily travel covering Hillary Clinton), previously a White House reporter for Politico, was once managing editor of the Daily Princetonian, Jennifer Epstein (h/ts Playbook)… Former intern at the White House Office of Public Engagement, former Hillary Iowa Fellow and Hillary Florida Fellow, now with the Podesta Group in the office of the chairman, Gidon Feen turns 22… CEO at NYC-based Puder PR, after 10 years as director of communications and PR for the Jewish Federations of North America, Joe Berkofsky… Reporter for the Texas Tribune in Austin covering state politics and the Texas Legislature, Patrick Svitek… AIPAC alum Reuben A. Engber… Financial consultant and organizer for non-profit organizations, archives and artists, Johnathan Morpurgo… Barak Daon… Lois Copeland… Mark Jacobs…
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