Daily Kickoff: Question dividing Israeli leaders — How to cash in on Trump? | Bill Clinton to talk Rabin at Brookings | Bush 41 receives Mensch Award

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HAPPENING TODAY ON THE HILL — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the nomination of David Friedman for US Ambassador to Israel at 10:30 AM.

The Republicans on the committee are all expected to vote for Friedman, including Senator Rand Paul (R-KN) who told Jewish Insider that he is “favorably disposed” to the New York attorney’s candidacy. Sen. Ben Cardin, the committee’s Ranking Democratic Member told reporters yesterday that he will vote against Friedman since his candidacy contradicts the “bipartisan tradition” of U.S. support for Israel. Cardin, one of the most hawkish Senate Democrats on Israel who voted against the Iran deal, will likely give cover to other Democrats on the committee to also oppose Friedman, while Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who was quoted as saying that he is “inclined to be supportive” of Trump’s pick, could provide Friedman with bipartisan support. [JewishInsider

“Senate Dems: State Department is in disarray” by Jordain Carney: “Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warning that his department is nearing a “tipping point.” … The letter comes amid multiple reports speculating that Tillerson is being overshadowed on foreign policy decisions by some in the president’s inner circle, including White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law… Staffers for Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.)… told reporters that including ambassador nominations there are more than 200 vacancies currently at the department. Cardin, who didn’t sign the letter… stressed that he hopes the Secretary of State will be the leading designer of U.S. foreign policy.” [TheHill] 

“Jared Kushner’s Conflicts Of Interest Questioned By Democratic Lawmakers” by Cody Fenwick: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings from the House Oversight Committee signed the letter. “Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit a federal official, such as Mr. Kushner, from profiting off of his government work,” they wrote. “Neither the White House nor Mr. Kushner’s attorneys has confirmed which financial assets Mr. Kushner still controls – rendering oversight of Mr. Kushner’s recusals and compliance with conflict-of-interest law impossible,” they continue.” [Patch

INTERVIEW — Freshman Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD 8th District) speaks to JI’s Aaron Magid about his Jewish identity, his views on the Middle East peace process and the recent rise in anti-Semitism. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Raskin’s career has shifted from the classroom to Capitol Hill. Nonetheless, one theme has consistently remained: “Everything I always wanted to be in life started with the letter ‘p’: professor, politician, philosopher, poet, a playwright and a professional football player,” he told Jewish Insider in an in-depth interview, adding, “I’m a big chess player and a bit of an insomniac so I stay up late playing chess online.”

On U.S. support for a two-state solution: “If we can’t make peace between peace between J Street and AIPAC, what are our chances of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians? I hope that I will be part of solutions that strengthen and fortify Israel and bring real peace between Israel and the Palestinians and make the whole region a source of prosperity and justice rather than unremitting conflict and terrorism… I favor a two state solution, which has been the American position for decades. I think it’s also been the Israeli position for decades. I am for a strong resilient prosperous Israel. I am for the vindication of the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians too who have been the victims of lots of events all over the world including from their own leaders.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

HAPPENING TODAY: Former President Bill Clinton will be speaking at a Brookings Institute event at 2:00 PM about Yitzchak Rabin’s peace negotiations with the Palestinians and relationship with global leaders. Afterwards, a panel moderated by Martin Indyk will discuss a new book titled: “Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman” by Itamar Rabinovich, a fellow at the think tank. Clinton and Rabin established an especially close bond while in power. The former US President delivered a deeply personal eulogy at Rabin’s funeral with the famous words “Shalom Chaver.” [Livestream]

DEALMAKING TIME: “Trump adviser to visit Israel, discuss settlements” by Times of Israel: “[Jason] Greenblatt’s visit will focus on West Bank settlement policy, Channel 2 news reported Wednesday. The goal of Greenblatt’s visit is reportedly to formulate the Trump administration’s position on settlements, including what the US will accept in terms of where and how much Israel can build. One of the main topics of discussion will be the new settlement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to the former residents of the Amona outpost, who were evicted from their homes last month, the report said.” [ToI

HEARD YESTERDAY – WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer on settlements: “I know that when [Trump and Netanyahu] met here at the White House, there was discussion of settlements, and the President was very clear about what his desires and his wishes were. I think as we continue to follow up with Israel in the coming weeks, we will have more on that.”

“Defense Chief Lieberman to Tillerson: Settlements Not an Impediment to Peace” by Gili Cohen: “According to a statement issued by Lieberman’s office, the defense chief told Tillerson that “even the uprooting of 21 blooming towns in Gaza did not lead to peace but rather to rocket fire at Israel.” Lieberman also asked the secretary of state to instruct the State Department to review its policy toward The United Nations’ Human Rights Council and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.” [Haaretz

“Will Trump split the Israeli right?” by Ben Caspit: “According to Israeli sources familiar with workings in Washington, a fight between two opposing factions is underway there as well over the shape of administration policy…Representing the pro-Israel faction are ambassador nominee David Friedman and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner. Representing the realists are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. That is why the Israeli right is watching Liberman’s trip to Washington and his meetings with Mattis and Tillerson with considerable consternation. “The damage he will do in Washington will be very hard to repair later,” said one Knesset member from HaBayit HaYehudi who requested anonymity.” [Al-Monitor]

“How to Cash In on Trump? The Question Dividing Israel’s Leaders” by David Wainer: “Netanyahu, according to an official close to him, wants to leverage Trump’s support to create a broad alliance against Iran… To keep that goal alive, the official said, Netanyahu wants to steer clear of dramatic moves on settlements. “Precisely because Netanyahu sees opportunities for renewing a strategic front against Iran, with America at the helm, settlement-building is much lower on the list of his priorities,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.” [Bloomberg] • Israeli Ambassador Dani Dayan: “We See Eye to Eye with U.S. on Iran” [Newsmax]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Prime Minister Netanyahu is spending the day at the Kremlin, meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the fifth time in a year and a half. For the past week, Bibi has been talking about this meeting on a daily basis, putting the Syrian front on the top of his agenda. Jerusalem is concerned about Iran boosting its presence in Syria the day after the civil war ends. Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu said that it is a “very important meeting for Israel’s security. Defeating ISIS terror cannot lead to an increase in Iranian terror, nor its proxies. You do not replace terror with terror.” Accompanying Bibi to Moscow are IDF Intelligence chief Herzi Halevi and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud. Elkin has been Netanyahu’s companion and translator in all of his recent meetings with Putin. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“As Trump Makes Threats, Iran Makes Friends” by Donna Abu-Nasr: “As the world adjusts to the Trump era, the message for Washington and its allies is that Iran wields growing influence in unexpected places. The Islamic power has been able to expand its reach regardless of the economic sanctions that excluded it from much of the global oil market until last year. In this case, it’s in Africa’s most populous nation, key oil producer and a country where the sectarian battle that has thrown the Middle East into chaos is festering. Nigeria’s Muslims are mainly Sunnis and Iran’s growing foothold in Africa has alarmed the Saudis.” [Bloomberg

“Israel to assist in US struggle against anti-Semitism” by Itamar Eichner: ““The US Jewish community leaders are very concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism and disappointed that Israel has failed to express enough understanding, sympathy and support of their situation,” said Michael Oren, a Deputy Minister in the prime minister’s office. “Jews in the US are now between a rock and a hard place, between left-wing anti-Semitism and right-wing anti-Semitism,” he said… “Israel needs to find ways to help,” Oren urged.” [Ynet]

MENSCH AWARD: “Condemning hatred – former President, First Lady honored by Jewish community” by Damali Keith:“The event was President George H.W. Bush’s second public appearance since battling pneumonia in January 2017. First, he appeared at Super Bowl LI as part of the pre-game coin toss. On Wednesday, he and his wife Barbara expressed their defiance toward hatred… President and Mrs. Bush arrived to a standing ovation from of a small crowd of invited guests and in a gracious ceremony, they were presented with the Mensch Award. The event took place at the Jewish synagogue Congregation Beth-Israel where Neil Bush, speaking on behalf of his parents, said they are disgusted by the dozens of recent Jewish Center vandalism cases and threats.” [Fox26]

SCENE YESTERDAY IN DC: White house aides — including Jason Greenblatt, Boris Epshteyn, Avi Berkowitz and Sebastian Gorka — met with members of Agudath Israel of America’s Board of Trustees and Regional Directors on their annual Leadership Mission to Washington at the White House for a briefing on the administration’s activities.

PHOTOS: Avi Berkowitz with his cousin former AIPAC president Howard Friedman [Pic] • Jeff Ballabon and Gorka in a friendly chat [Pic

TRUMP APPOINTMENTS: “Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, Official Says” by Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs: “President Donald Trump will nominate Richard Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO, according to a White House official, a selection that would make the longtime loyalist and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations the highest-ranking openly gay person to serve in the administration… If he wins Senate confirmation, Grenell will take a pivotal position in the Trump administration. The president spurred widespread anxiety in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization when he called the alliance “obsolete” and suggested during the campaign the U.S. might not honor its defense commitments if other members don’t pay their share.” [Bloomberg

“Trump’s personnel problem” by Jonathan Swan: “Treasury has been having major headaches in getting Mnuchin’s people confirmed… The White House has been irritated that Mnuchin has been asking for people viewed as liberals or in one case a Hillary Clinton donor. Treasury spokesman Jason Chung denied there were any problems and said Mnuchin “could not be happier with how the appointment and nomination process is going.” [Axios]

“The Myth of Trump’s Loyalty” by McKay Coppins: “Despite his boasts, the president built his success on his willingness to toss aside mentors, friends, and family members during moments of frustration and chaos.” [TheAtlantic]

BROOKLYN JEWS STICKING WITH TRUMP — “Poll: New York Jews Would Vote For Trump Over Clinton Again” by Michael Johnson: “A closer look at the crosstabs shows that in predominantly Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens where we polled, voters backed Trump by significant margins—62 percent in Brooklyn and 24 percent in Queens. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Clinton held a 53 percent edge over Trump in the heavily Jewish zip codes that NYJL polled.” [NYJLife

** 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: How Trump could soon be at war with Yellen [Politico] • Michael Bloomberg’s longtime money manager steps down [Axios] • Billionaire Rennert must pay $213.2 million judgment: U.S. appeals court [Reuters Glencore Is on to a Winner With This Obscure Metal [Bloomberg] • Inside the Leviev–Julius Klein Corporate Divorce [JCK• Edgar Bronfman Jr. drops out of the race for Time Inc. [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION: “Endor emerges from MIT research with unique predictive analytics tech” by Ron Miller: “Endor applied its own proprietary technology based on Social Physics theory, and created a commercial cloud service, where the customer simply feeds the data into the model, and then in minutes (after however it longs to take to upload the data) can begin asking questions and getting answers based on the content of that data in the context of Social Physics. In fact, the biggest bottleneck is not the processing itself. It’s getting the data into the system, according to Alter.” [TC]

“Ivanka Trump’s Landlord Is a Chilean Billionaire Suing the U.S. Government” by Mark Maremont and James Grimaldi: “The six-bedroom house in the capital’s Kalorama neighborhood was bought for $5.5 million in late December by a company controlled by Andrónico Luksic… The Obama administration in its waning days blocked a Luksic-company plan to build a giant copper-and-nickel mine adjacent to a Minnesota wilderness area, citing environmental concerns. The company and some Minnesota politicians are urging the Trump administration to reverse the decision… Rodrigo Terré, a relative of Mr. Luksic’s who manages the billionaire’s personal investments, said… “categorically” there was no relationship between the house rental and the Minnesota mining dispute, adding that he and Mr. Luksic had not met their famous tenants.” [WSJ]

Ivanka Trump writes “Women’s day is every day!” alongside a Golda Meir quote this morning: “Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” [Twitter]

ICYMI: “Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?” by Emily Shire: “But my prime concern is not that people hold this view of Israel. Rather, I find it troubling that embracing such a view is considered an essential part of an event that is supposed to unite feminists. I am happy to debate Middle East politics or listen to critiques of Israeli policies. But why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?” [NYTimes]

“White House Echoes Tech: ‘Move Fast and Break Things’” by Charles Duhigg: “During the race, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with Gabriel Leydon, founder of a company in Palo Alto, Calif., named MZ, previously known as Machine Zone, which created the highly popular games Mobile Strike and Game of War: Fire Age. Mr. Leydon, one of the biggest online advertisers, agreed to share insights about digital marketing tactics with the Trump campaign.” [NYTimes

MEDIA WATCH: “Top U.S. Media Execs Turn to Israel TV Conference for Guidance in Chaotic Times” by Debra Kamin: “This week, as Keshet Media Group — Israel’s undisputed television heavyweight — launched its fourth installment of INTV, its quasi-annual Jerusalem confab on innovation in television, it has among its participants for the first time CNN president Jeff Zucker, Fox Television Group CEO Dana Walden, and NBC president Jennifer Salke. “When you look at the gestalt, it’s about how you maintain your sense of direction, creation, and vocation under these circumstances,” says Avi Nir, CEO of Keshet.” [Variety]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “His great-grandfather spoke of a crashed Nazi plane. Decades later, the 14-year-old Danish schoolboy found it” by Ben Guarino: “In November 1944, or maybe it was December, a German fighter plane crashed down on the Kristiansen family farm in Denmark. That was one of the many tales told by 14-year-old Daniel Kristiansen’s great-grandfather… But Daniel and his father, Klaus Kristiansen, decided there was no harm in searching for the plane with a metal detector. To their surprise, the detector beeped. The father and son began to dig. Some four yards down, they hit metal. And then they found human remains.” [WashPost]

SPORTS BLINK: “Israel baseball team beats Netherlands, remains undefeated” by Allon Sinai:“Thursday’s showdown with the Dutch was mainly about maintaining momentum, with both teams having qualified for the last eight and the only difference between finishing first or second in Pool A being the eventual schedule in Tokyo. Israel, nevertheless, wanted to enter the next round on a high, and it will do so after once more getting off to a fast start. The blue-and-white scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Pitcher Jason Marquis got the win for Israel, allowing one hit in the opening inning, the only one he pitched.” [JPost; SBNation] • Team Israel Pool A recap: 3 wins. 21 runs. 1 Mensch on the Bench. [Twitter]

BIRTHDAYS: Mayor of North York, Ontario (1973-1997), then Mayor of Toronto (1998-2003), founder of the Bad Boy Furniture chain, Mel Lastman turns 84… Professor of sociology and Jewish studies at the University of Toronto (1974-2012, now professor emeritus), best known for his work on German Jewry, Y. Michal Bodemann turns 73… Sag Harbor-based painter, sculptor and printmaker, Eric Fischl turns 69… Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate, political journalist and commentator, former co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, editor at large for The New Republic, Michael Kinsley turns 66… Moroccan-born member of Knesset (since 1998) now representing the Zionist Union party, previously Minister of Defense (2006-2007) and leader of the Labor Party, Amir Peretz turns 65… President and CEO of NYC’s flagship public TV station WNET, previously the president of NBC News and the executive producer for Dateline NBC, Neal Shapiro turns 59… CEO of NYC-based Gotham Media, holds an MA in Russian history from the London School of Economics and a JD from Harvard Law, previously an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News Nightline, Gordon Platt turns 55… VP and Chief Strategy Officer at Intel Corporation, David I. Ginsberg turns 42 (h/t Playbook)… Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy US Trade Representative, Matthew Vogel turns 39…

Management consultant in the NYC office of McKinsey & Company, previously at the Washington Post, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, where he served as president of The Harvard Crimson, Amit Paley turns 35… Jerusalem City Councilman from the Hitorerut B’Yerushalayim party, Hanan Rubin turns 35… Israeli-born singer, now one-half of the world music duo Shlomit & RebbeSoul, Shlomit Levi turns 34… Communications director for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper since 2-2017, previously at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Alissa “Sadie” Weiner turns 30… Founding partner of Mothership Strategies, a DC-based firm using digital strategies for organizational fundraising and activism, previously at the DCCC, Jacob “Jake” Austin Lipsett turns 24… CEO at New Orleans-based hotel restaurant chain, Our House Hospitality and COO of the Besh Restaurant Group, Emery Whalen… Private equity and venture capital investor, Howie Fialkov… Stephen Lent

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