Daily Kickoff: Jack Lew on Shabbat while White House Chief of Staff | Spotted at Fauda Season 2 | Elie Horn on Latin American giving | Happy Hanukkah!
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JUST IN TIME FOR HANUKKAH: “Westfield Agrees to $15.7 Billion Takeover by European Rival Unibail-Rodamco” by Mike Cherney, Noemie Bisserbe: “The deal would consolidate two of the world’s biggest mall operators at a time when brick-and-mortar retailers scramble to adapt to a tumultuous shift toward online shopping… The transaction also caps the decades-long career of Frank Lowy, Westfield’s chairman. A Holocaust survivor, he started in the business with a deli in a western Sydney suburb. Mr. Lowy, who fought in the Israeli war of independence before moving to Australia, will retire as chairman, and his sons Peter and Steven will step down as Westfield’s co-chief executives. The Lowys said they saw the transaction as an opportunity to recover value for shareholders.” [WSJ; DealBook]• Disclosure: Peter Lowy is Chair of the Board of Tribe Media Corp.
SCENE LAST NIGHT — FAUDA SEASON 2: The Paul E. Singer Foundation hosted a private advance screening of the second season of the hit Israeli and Netflix TV thriller “Fauda.” Attendees at the event, held at a screening room in TriBeCa, viewed the rather ‘intense’ first episode of Season 2, followed by a lighter Fauda-related clip from Conan O’Brien’s recent trip to Israel, and then capped the evening with an off-the-record conversation featuring leading cast members Lior Raz (Doron), Shadi Mari (Walid) and the show’s co-creator Avi Issacharoff. The panel discussion was led and moderated by Dan Senor.
SPOTTED: Campbell Brown, Alex Pelosi, Jon Lerner, Bari Weiss, Cy Vance, Willie Geist, Ben Wallace, Bret Stephens, Jamie Gangel & Dan Silva, Gabe Sherman, Michael Aronov, Mitch & Joleen Julis, Greg Zuckerman, Abe Greenwald, Noah Rothman, Rabbi Angela and Jacob Buchdahl, Banks Tarver, Brian Abrahams, Michael Sachs, Chris Altchek, Dan Selig, Danna Stern, David Bushman, Debbie Hochberg, Elana & Jay Lefkowitz, Ethan Bronner, Ilan Benatar, Jen Spyra, Jesse Furman, Josh Block, Kevin Ulrich, Marjorie Harris, Matthew Hiltzik, Merav Rotem Naaman, Michael & Jasmine Barr, Michael Price, Mosh Oinounou, Peter Thoren, Reihan & Kathryn Salam, Rich Lowry, Richard Cohen, Seth Siegel, Sewell Chan, Shari Aronson, Sohrab Ahmari, Steve & Deborah Shapiro, Stu Loeser, Tal Keinan, Vanessa & Roger Bennett, Viviane Eisenberg.
HEARD LAST NIGHT — at Columbia University’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies: Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recalled his experience working with former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama (including his time as White House Chief of Staff), in a conversation moderated by Foreign Policy Fellow Daniel Bonner. [Pic] Photo credit: Dana Kresel • Extra points if you figure out what the content on the blackboard had to do with the lecture [Pic]
HIGHLIGHTS — Lew on being an observant Jew serving at the highest levels of government: “I have worked for some of the most powerful constitutional officers in the country and I’ve only been treated with respect and it has been in no way an obstacle to my advancement and to my performance. If it had been an obstacle to my performance, it would have been an obstacle to my advancement. It’s like any other profession where things sometimes come up that are challenging because of observing Shabbat and Yom Tov… To me, the challenge was not finding a decisional structure where I felt I could do it with an observant lifestyle. To me, the challenge was being honest with myself — over when I really needed to be there and when I didn’t.”
Lew on his tenure working as President Obama’s Chief of Staff: “He knew me pretty well… He said, “You know this is a 24/7 world, you’ve worked in every important part of it, and you’re going to be the one who has to decide when it is something that you need to be here for on a Friday night or Saturday. It won’t stop – but you’ve figured it out before and you’ll figure it out now. I’ll never be the one who says, ‘You need to be here,’ so you better make sure you don’t forget where your line is.” There were more Saturdays that I was in the office as Chief of Staff than any other year. I lived within walking distance. I could walk in — usually go to shul and then walk in — and it wasn’t always the most pleasant way to spend Shabbat, to walk into a meeting where people are yelling at each other over a budget agreement… but, fundamentally, if you are prepared to let things go on without you, it [working on Shabbat] doesn’t happen anywhere near every week… When the president was running for re-election in 2012, some weeks the only day he was in the building was Saturday. I’d know in advance, and go and sit in the Roosevelt Room or in the Oval Office and spend a couple of hours catching up, talking, doing what we had to do, and then I’d go home.”
On dealing with criticism over the Iran deal in the Jewish community: “I felt fine to walk into my synagogue. I live in a great community in Riverdale where I know there are people in the room who might not agree with me. I didn’t have one hostile word on Iran in that room.”
On the Obama admin’s UNSC move last December: “Personally, I wish the resolution hadn’t been there at all. I’m not happy that there was a resolution. I’m also happy it wasn’t in its original form where we would have had to veto it, but then the rest of the world would have been voting for this even harsher condemnation. When it comes down to whether or not you think that settlements are appropriate and legal, you’ve said that for seven years and, you know, 11 months, that you don’t think they are. It’s hard to veto it over that issue. It doesn’t mean you’re not a friend of Israel. And it doesn’t mean that after that resolution you stop being a friend of Israel.”
On Trump’s Jerusalem move: “Congress passed this legislation and president after president has had the unpleasant task of having to sign a waiver. We now have a president who doesn’t like to make those signatures. And you know, there’s a pattern that’s developed that it just rankles him to have to sign those waivers. I hope that this turns out not to be a major disruption. It’s a little hard to tell because it’s so fresh. But you know, if you care, as I do, about having permanent security for a democratic state of Israel, there is no pathway other than a two state solution. The more you hear talk about a one state solution, the more it means it’s not a democratic state. That is not the Israel that I want for my grandchildren to love.” Full recap of Lew’s remarks here[JewishInsider]
“Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Leader Shteinman Dies at 104: “Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the spiritual leader of Israel’s non-Hassidic ultra-Orthodox Jews of European descent, has died. He was 104… Shteinman was one of Israel’s most influential rabbis and a political kingmaker whose orders were strictly followed by his representatives in parliament… Shteinman was known for his rabbinic scholarship, relatively pragmatic rulings and extremely modest lifestyle. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called him a leader who “carried on his shoulders the existential weight of the Jewish people.”” [AP; ToI]
ON THE HILL — House Members on Abbas’ cancellation of Pence meeting — by Aaron Magid: “I think it’s their loss, it’s their mistake. They had an opportunity to meet with the Vice President about a very important issue — engagement with Israel — they should do it,” Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL) told Jewish Insider yesterday. Rooney, who formerly served as US Ambassador to the Vatican during the George W. Bush administration added, “that ranks right there with Arafat walking out when Ehud Barak offered him basically everything he wanted back in the Clinton era. I believe that West Jerusalem has been part of Israel since 1949. It’s kind of a charade to make a big deal out of this.”
Rep. David Valadao (R-CA): “The Palestinians are “using this as another excuse to continue their ways and it’s frustrating. I don’t think this is what their issue is. They are just finding something to point fingers at. This is not a new issue for them. It’s something that’s been talked about forever. If this is their excuse of the week, then that’s their own decision to make.”
Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL): “I hope Abbas changes his mind and meets with [Pence] because I think we need a two state solution. I don’t know that we are going to mediate it: maybe we will, maybe we won’t, but somehow we have to get him to the table.”
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA): “Our U.S. policy hasn’t been one to support diplomacy and these are one of the consequences of US foreign policy which tend to be more unilateral US actions. These are some of the consequences. Do I like the fact that they did it? No. It’s a consequence of the president’s ‘I’m going to make the decisions. I’m going to do what I want and let the rest of the world follow.’ And I don’t agree with that… This is the same thing we have done with the Paris Climate agreement and Iran agreement. The more we go it alone, the less likely we are to have the support of the international community to bring about a peace agreement.”
On Monday, the House passed bipartisan legislation that would increase penalties for bomb threats against religious institutions. Introduced by Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), the bill was in response to over 170 threats made against Jewish community centers (JCCs) and Synagogues in 2017 alone. “The dramatic rise in threats against religious institutions is deeply disturbing and makes it clear that existing federal laws do not suitably deter these acts of hate. We must stand united against acts of hate and protect the rights of all Americans to worship freely and without fear,” Kustoff said.
LAST NIGHT IN DELAWARE: “Israeli ambassador: Trump’s Jerusalem action a “major diplomatic victory”” by Margie Fishman: “Less than a week after President Donald Trump publicly embraced Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. [Ron Dermer] called the move a “major diplomatic victory” for the Jewish state, representing the “first time the position has moved against [the Palestinians] through non-military means.” … “I have absolutely no doubt that this decision now over time will actually advance peace,” the Israeli envoy said Monday night in the [Hotel du Pont’s] Gold Ballroom… The high-profile diplomat received a standing ovation after speaking for roughly an hour to an audience of nearly 200 donors from the Jewish Federation of Delaware. They were joined by former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons.” [NewsJournal]
HEARD YESTERDAY — French President Emanuel Macron recalls his phone call with President Trump ahead of Jerusalem move on CBS News: “I told him, I thought it was a mistake, and that such a unilateral decision is not compliant with our international discussions and our international rules and will not facilitate a peace process… He told me the rationale of his decision. I told him that for me, it’s not the right announcement, but at the end of the day, you decide for your own. And he decided for the U.S… My first concern is to preserve peace and calm in the whole region. Second, I think we have to discuss with all the parties and try to find a way out. But obviously, the reaction of the Palestinians will not be very positive. They are not in a good mood to progress towards any peace process.” [CBSNews]
“EU Officials Urge U.S. to Not Go It Alone on Mideast Peace Efforts” by Laurence Norman: “[EU foreign- policy chief Federica] Mogherini, who spoke last week about U.S. peace plans with Mr. Kushner, said Europe could help craft “an international and regional framework” for credible negotiations to resume.” [WSJ]
“Whirlwind Putin Tour Highlights Moscow’s New Reach in Mideast” by Neil MacFarquhar and Anne Barnard: “Mr. Putin touched down in rapid succession in Syria and Egypt, where he met briefly with their leaders, and landed in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, later in the day. His excursion came as anger at the United States was running high over President Trump’s unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem… as the capital of Israel.”[NYTimes]
— “Trump to Let Assad Stay until 2021, as Putin Declares Victory in Syria” by Robin Wright: “Given the political and military realities, U.S. officials have now concluded that any transition of power would depend on a credible election conducted by the United Nations… The prospect of holding a free and fair election in Syria—one that also includes the millions of refugees scattered in dozens of countries—will be an unprecedented challenge, diplomats told me. It will also take time for a new and more credible Syrian opposition to emerge. The Trump Administration says it still wants a political process that holds the prospect of Assad’s departure. But it has concluded that it may take until 2021, when the next election is scheduled, to pull it off. Depending on the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election, Assad could still be in power after Trump leaves office.” [NewYorker]
“At rally, Hezbollah chief vows to return focus to Israel” by Bassem Mroue: “Chanting “Oh America, you are the Great Satan,” while pumping their fists in the air, men, women and children marched through streets of Hezbollah’s southern Beirut stronghold… At the rally… Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he hoped the “foolish decision” would mark the “beginning of the end” of the Jewish state… Nasrallah called on Palestinian armed groups… to come up with “unified strategy” to confront Trump’s decision.” [AP]
“Warning to Congress: Bad Iran Legislation Is Worse Than No Iran Legislation” by Richard Goldberg: “Despite warnings from former Obama administration officials that a presidential decertification would be ignored by U.S. allies and leave Washington isolated, the evidence is clear that decertification created a chilling effect on European re-investment and shook Iran’s economy… Now, almost two months after the president’s decertification, it’s increasingly clear we are headed for a legislative train wreck. Supporters of the nuclear deal are locking down Senate Democrats, ensuring there could never be enough votes to break a filibuster on meaningful legislation that actually “fixed” the agreement.” [FP]
ALABAMA SPECIAL ELECTION — “Kayla Moore: ‘One of our attorneys is a Jew’” by Eric Bradner: “Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews. And I tell you all this because I’ve seen it and I just want to set the record straight while they’re here,” she said. “One of our attorneys is a Jew. We have very close friends that are Jewish, and rabbis, and we also fellowship with them.” Her comments came a week after Roy Moore attacked George Soros… saying Soros “is going to the same place that people who don’t recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going. And that’s not a good place.” [CNN; Video]
“Secret super PAC backing Jones in Alabama exposed” by Gabriel Debenedetti: “The groups have collected checks from a gamut of top Democratic donors, led by longtime party contributors like George Soros, Jim Simons, Haim Saban and Fred Eychaner. While both Jones and Moore have gotten support from other outside groups in recent weeks, Highway 31 is by far the biggest-spending.” [Politico]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Behind Hedge Fund Billionaire Steve Cohen’s Fintech Investments [TheInformation] • Max Levchin’s Affirm raises $200 million at a nearly $2 billion valuation [TechCrunch] • Qualcomm Merger Calculus Complicated by Activist Investor [NYTimes]
ICYMI: “A Quixotic Quest for Givers” by Jeffrey Lewis: “At the age of 73, Elie Horn has a lot to be proud of. A devout Jew born in Aleppo, Syria, he migrated to Brazil as a boy and turned a small São Paulo real-estate company into an empire, building sleek skyscrapers and amassing a fortune that at one point reached some $2 billion. In recent years, as he has begun to give away most of his money to charity, his ambitions have taken a different turn: He wants to get other rich Brazilians to pledge to follow suit. It has proved to be a difficult task. So far, he has no takers. Mr. Horn and his wife, Susy, are the only members of Latin America’s ultrarich to sign the Giving Pledge.” [WSJ]
“North Korea’s prisons are as bad as Nazi camps, says judge who survived Auschwitz” by Anna Fifield: “North Korea’s political prisons are just as bad as – and perhaps even worse than – the Nazi concentration camps of the Holocaust, a renowned judge and Auschwitz survivor has concluded after hearing from former North Korean prisoners and guards… “I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps and in my long professional career in the human rights field,” said [Thomas] Buergenthal, who was in Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen as a child, as well as the ghetto of Kielce, Poland.” [WashPost]
CAMPUS BEAT: “Rutgers Prof Accused Of Anti-Semitism Teaching Graduate Course” by Carly Baldwin: “A Rutgers professor under review for multiple Facebook posts he made criticizing Jews and Judaism will finish out the semester teaching one remaining graduate-level course, but he still faces a slew of disciplinary actions, including being suspended without pay… Rutgers said it has finished its review and that [Michael] Chikindas has been removed from teaching any new classes next semester… But Chikandas’ fate is still pending a full disciplinary review. That review is required by the bargaining agreement with Rutgers’ faculty union, as Chikandas is a tenured professor and part of the union. Pending the outcome of that hearing, he could be suspended for a semester without pay.” [Patch] • Rutgers Hillel welcomes university’s action following professor’s anti-Semitic remarks[MyCentralJersey]
Menorah lightings planned around the world for Hanukkah: “If you’re traveling or vacationing during the holiday, there may be a menorah lighting near you. The Jewish outreach organization Chabad-Lubavitch plans Hanukkah events in hundreds of cities, from the 50 U.S. states to 100 countries…. The world’s largest menorah, standing 36 feet high (11 meters), will be lit just outside Central Park in New York City across from the Plaza Hotel at Grand Army Plaza.” [AP]
TODAY AT 3:30 PM ET: National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn will deliver keynote remarks at the National Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremony, hosted by Rabbi Levi Shemtov and held on the Ellipse, south of the White House in Washington, D.C. Livestream via [CSPAN]
SCENE LAST NIGHT #2 in NYC: The UJA-Federation of New York honored Cantor Fitzgerald’s Howard Lutnick and Tiger Global Management’s Lee Fixel at their annual Wall Street Dinner. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin delivered the keynote address before approximately 2,000 attendees at the New York Hilton in Midtown. Special shoutout and happy anniversary to JI readers Jill and Bob Smith who first met at the UJA Wall Street Dinner 38 years ago.
SPOTTED: Eric Goldstein, Daniel Och, Samantha Greenberg, Robert Kapito, John Paulson, Morris Offit, James Tisch, Larry Robbins, Andrew Rechtschaffen, Jerry Levin, Greg Zuckerman, Zara Klaff, Sophie Lasry Swieca, Alex Swieca, Jill Smith, Bob Smith, Gidi Grinstein.
DESSERT: “I’m Not Jewish — What Should I Bring to a Hanukkah Party?” by Marianne Garvey: “What happens when you invite an Irish lapsed-Catholic to Hanukkah? They get drunk on kosher wine and try to blow out the menorah. Just me? Doesn’t matter, I’m invited back this year. As a matter of fact, my good friend Jonathan Dobbin (an ad exec pal from New York who schools me on all things Jewish) invites me to his family’s Hanukkah dinner every year, and reminds me of the following…” [Bravo] • The Surprising Origins of 5 Hanukkah Traditions [TimeMag]
“Art Basel Miami Beach: Is the Basel Bubble Bursting?” by Leigh Nordstrom: “Art Basel Miami Beach launched in 2002, yet it has only in recent years become the fashion crowd destination juggernaut that it is today. This year’s parties drew Cardi B, Drake, Diplo, Paris Hilton, Ricky Martin and more for blowout events, though one of the week’s signatures, Aby Rosen’s dinner and after party, was notedly absent from the itinerary. It all seems to beg the question: is the Basel bubble about to burst?” [WWD]
BIRTHDAYS: Acclaimed Russian composer of classical music, he has also composed film scores, Yiddish and Klezmer music, Vladimir Shainsky turns 92… Actress and neuroscientist who plays the role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Chaya Bialik turns 42… Baltimore-born world traveler and reporter-producer for ABC News, Becky Perlow turns 30… Associated Press science writer and adjunct professor at NYU’s academic center in Washington, Seth Borenstein… Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Jeffrey Goldstein… Communications Director in the office of Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL6), David Pasch… Israeli-born real estate developer active in Los Angeles, partner in Linear City Development, Yuval Bar-Zemer… Senior media strategist at Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications, formerly deputy press secretary for the US Commerce Department, Sarah Horowitz… Sefaria’s Tali Herenstein…
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