Daily Kickoff: Experts react to Trump’s UN veto | Bloomberg investigates Kushner Cos. holdings | How a New Orleans Kosher restaurateur got his start


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PIC OF THE DAY — What shuttle diplomacy looks like in 2017: Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt was spotted boarding a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv last night [Pic]

PENCE ISRAEL TRIP POSTPONED, AGAIN — Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Israel and Egypt has been delayed once again due to the tax reform vote expected this week. Pence was scheduled to arrive in Egypt on Wednesday for a meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and travel in the evening to Israel. “The Vice President is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line. The Vice President looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January,” the Vice President’s Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

A White House official emails… “Since the tax vote could possibly take place shortly before midnight on Wed, it was not practically possible for the VP to travel this week. He would have arrived in Egypt late on Thursday night and then would have run up against Shabbat and Christmas for his visit to Israel. Therefore, to get the most out of the trip, the VP will now be traveling in mid-January. Jason Greenblatt is still headed to Israel as planned to continue working on the Administration’s peace efforts.”

REPORT: Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, rejected an American request for Vice President Pence to hold a press conference at the Western Wall during his — now delayed — trip to Israel. “According to the [Channel 10 News] report, Rabinowitz said in private that his main concern was the threat of renewed violence due to the press conference likely conveying a political message… The report said the US is now searching for an alternative site nearby in which to hold the press conference.” [ToI]

DRIVING THE CONVO — The U.S. used its first veto power in the Security Council since Trump became President as Ambassador Nikki Haley was the only one to vote to against an Egyptian-sponsored UNSC resolution calling on Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” Haley said in remarks following her vote. “A ‘peace process’ that is damaged by the simple recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is not a peace process; it is a justification for an endless stalemate.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately released a video message comparing Haley to the Maccabees. “On Hanukkah you spoke like a Maccabee, you lit the light of truth and expelled the darkness. One triumphs over many; truth triumphed over falsehood. Thank you, President Trump. Thank you, Nikki Haley,” Netanyahu said. [Video]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Why the U.N. veto was a loss for Trump and Netanyahu” by Barak Ravid: “In reality, Netanyahu led Trump to defeat in the U.N. Security Council twice in one year – today and last December, when the Trump transition team tried and failed to prevent a Security Council resolution on West Bank settlements behind the Obama administration’s back. Trump doesn’t like to lose.” [Axios

REACTIONS — FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer tells JI’s Aaron Magid: “The veto is not a defense of Israel. It’s obviously a defense of the U.S. It certainly looks like an extension of U.S. policy to challenge Israel bias at the UN… For [Egyptian President al-]Sisi, who purportedly values his relationship with the Trump administration, the move was rather odd. Not to mention that the Sisi regime values its security cooperation with the Israelis. All of this amounts to mixed messages from Cairo, to put it mildly… My sense is over time this will likely blow over because, again, it doesn’t impact the final status of Jerusalem as it pertains to negotiations. I am taking a wait and see approach to see how long this crisis lasts for.”

The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky: “What we have seen with the Arab states is that there is a clear firewall between what they do on security and how they vote politically, and this has consistently been the case. While people can talk about an Israeli-Sunni Arab convergence — which is accurate — it is not a political alliance, certainly when it comes to things that have a religious resonance like Jerusalem. This is not going to end so easily.”

The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller: “This is the mandatory rhetorical hoops which the Arabs have to jump. Look at the reaction in the Arab world to what Trump did. Had this happened a decade ago, there would have been a severe reaction. It means the Arabs are preoccupied, they are distracted and have other business to attend to that is more important. It doesn’t mean that they can flagrantly abandon the Palestinian cause so they have to jump through these hoops. It’s a game. That’s business as usual. The U.S. stands up against other members of the Security Council and basically protects Israel. Trump’s team is simply not going to do nothing. Having set into motion the Jerusalem decision, they were going to defend it. They couldn’t walk away from it.”

Former Ambassador Dan Shapiro: “It’s the right decision. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Now they need a policy to promote an end of the conflict and a realistic vision of two states to go with that decision.”

MEDIA OBSERVATION from Noah Pollak: “When Obama vetoed an anti-Israel UNSC resolution, NYT reported it straight. When Trump vetoed an anti-Israel UNSC resolution, NYT reports the US is “isolating” itself.” [Twitter

“Trump’s foreign policy smacks of isolationism and retreat, French FM says” by Oren Dorell: “Trump’s order to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem undermines U.S. allies who’ve backed the notion that Jerusalem’s status should be decided in negotiations, and plays into the hands of adversaries, such as Iran, [ [French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves] Le Drian said. “With this decision, President Trump gives Iran the opportunity to control all Palestinian issues,” he said… Le Drian, previously France’s defense minister, was in Washington for meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, national security advisor H.R. McMaster, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.” [USAToday]

TRUMP PARK — Trump thanks Kiryat Yam mayor for naming park after him: “I recently learned that you will name a new park after me in beautiful Kiryat Yam,” Trump wrote in the letter. “Thank you for this great honor…I am grateful for your gesture and am moved to know that the people of Israel are encouraged by my decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I send my very best wishes to you and the people of Kiryat Yam.”[JerusalemOnlineJPost]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “The Guerrilla Campaign Against McMaster Is Alive and Well” by Jenna McLaughlin: “Two sources with ties to the White House are telling Foreign Policy that Oracle Corporation CEO Safra Catz and Peter Thiel, a tech magnate, both turned down jobs to lead the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board at least partly over concerns about [H. R.] McMaster… Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy… on Wednesday blamed McMaster for having “wasted a precious year of Donald Trump’s presidency,” arguing he “sabotaged” President Trump’s campaign against “defeating ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’”” [FP]

COUNTERING IRAN FIRST: “Trump national security strategy doubles down on Iran” by Jack Detsch: “Released on Monday, the 55-page document draws from Trump’s foreign policy speeches throughout his first year in office… The Trump strategy comes as the White House is trying to deter Iran, dubbed “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism” in the document… Monday’s strategy could provide a preview of how the Trump administration’s pressure campaign will develop over the next year. It cited Iran’s efforts to beef up its influence through proxy groups, weapons proliferation and a recommitment to its ballistic missile program, activities that have “continued unabated since the 2015 nuclear deal.”” [Al-Monitor• Mattis: Iran Working to Destabilize Middle East [DODNews]

“Three Ways to Read Trump’s National Security Strategy” by Eliot Cohen: “Another way of exploring the NSS is with the mindset of a rigorous 19th-century critical student of the Bible. In the same way that those scholars dissected the holy texts for multiple authors (J, P, and E for the five books of Moses, Proto-, Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah for that prophet’s works) so too may one begin to see multiple hands in the crafting of this otherwise enigmatic work. Here too, remarkably enough, three authors emerge: the Trumpian Monarchist, the Deep State Scribe, and the Bureaucratic Redactor… There is not a great deal one can actually do with spoor; it does not predict whether the beast will turn right or left, gore an innocent farmer or charge madly off a cliff. It offers a few clues, and that is about it. So by all means study it. Just don’t swallow it.” [TheAtlantic]

“Obama’s Alternative Facts on the Iran Nuclear Deal” by Eli Lake: “Russia established those air bases less than two months after the end of the Iran nuclear negotiations. The chief of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, also saw the close of the nuclear talks as a green light. He was soon on a plane to Moscow to iron out the tactical alliance between Russia and Iran in Syria as Obama went about trying to persuade more than a third of Congress to support the nuclear bargain… At the time the Obama administration told us that in exchange, the U.S. had to lift only the crippling nuclear sanctions against Iran. It turns out the price was much higher.” [BloombergView]

CURRENT ISRAELI GOV’T HAS LIMITS, APPARENTLY: “Israel to Boycott Austria’s New Far-right Cabinet Ministers” by Noa Landau and Ofer Aderet: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign affairs portfolio, said Monday that Israel will boycott Austria’s far-right ministers, instructing Israeli ministers to work only with lower-ranking officials… [Sebastian] Kurz, the new Austrian chancellor… calling the Israeli prime minister by his nickname… said: “Bibi Netanyahu is a friend whom we work well with.” With regard to Israel’s reexamination of its ties with Austria, Kurz said: “We respect Israel’s decision, but are optimistic nevertheless,” referring to prospects for good relations between the two governments.” [Haaretz

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — “Amid Backlash for Defending Trump, Dershowitz Reminds Everybody He Voted for Clinton” by Alberto Luperon: “I have never voted for a Republican for president,” he told Law&Crime over email. “Of course I voted for and contributed to Hillary Clinton.” [LawandCrime]

** Good Tuesday 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: WeWork settles trademark lawsuits against Chinese rival UrWork [TheRealDeal] • Bernard Madoff victims near full recovery of principal with payout [CrainsNY] • Toby Moskovits’ Heritage Equity Partners lands $68M loan for Williamsburg Hotel [TheRealDeal] • Teva Pharm Woes Seen Denting Israeli Exports, Economic Growth[NYTimesJPost] • Softbank Leads $120 Million Investment in Israeli AI-Based Insurance Company Lemonade [CalcalistVentureBeat] • Aby Rosen sells Tribeca dev site for $56M [TheRealDeal] • Clark Valberg’s InVision is investing $5 million in design startups with new fund [TechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT: “Kushners’ New York City Buildings Are Mostly Owned By Others” by Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski: “The vast majority of the money behind the purchases didn’t belong to Kushner or his family. Rather, it came from an obscure Israel-based company called Gaia Investments Corp. and related entities. Gaia has almost no public profile in New York real estate. Its principals have held roles in enterprises owned by the diamond-trading Steinmetz family, with close ties to Raz Steinmetz, the nephew of billionaire Beny Steinmetz. A 2015 deal for 16 apartment buildings had a similar structure… The investors in this case… were C-III Capital Partners, a Texas-based asset manager run by Andrew Farkas, who also invested in Cadre, the real-estate startup co-founded by Jared and his brother Joshua Kushner.” [Bloomberg

TRANSITIONS: “Tony Ressler’s Ares Management names Michael Arougheti as chief executive” by Javier Espinoza: “Ares Management has become the latest big alternative asset management group to make leadership changes this year after naming Michael Arougheti as its chief executive officer. Tony Ressler, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, is set to become executive chairman with a focus on investor relationships, strategy and marketing. The move comes as Ares business becomes more complex and larger with $106bn assets under management in real estate, private equity and credit and more than 200 funds, the company said.” [FinancialTimesBloomberg

Darin McKeever has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the William Davidson Foundation. “McKeever, the Foundation’s chief program and strategy officer, will succeed Jonathan S. Aaron, chairman of the Board of Directors, who has served as president since the philanthropic organization’s founder, William “Bill” Davidson, died in 2009. The William Davidson Foundation is a private, family foundation established by Mr. Davidson in 2005 to advance the economic, cultural and civic vitality of Southeast Michigan, the State of Israel, and the Jewish community.”

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Is the BDS Movement Failing? Depends on Your Definition of Success.” by Armin Rosen: “If BDS activists’ goal is to remove Israeli products from college campuses, or end academic exchanges with Israeli institutions, they’ve failed so far… But if the movement’s goal is to make any Israel-related topic poisonous, or to make students wary of associating themselves with the Jewish state in any way, its success has be measured against nebulous and largely unknowable criteria. In the future, the movement might get more mileage out of interrupting or “no-platforming” Israeli speakers, as recently happened to Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat at San Francisco State University in April of 2016, or stigmatizing participants in Birthright—the goal of a newly launched JVP campaign—than from organizing campus boycott efforts.” [Tablet]

One of two Swedish synagogue firebomb suspects released: “A Swedish prosecutor… Stina Lundqvist says the 18-year-old man… remains a suspect in Dec. 16 attack in Sweden’s second largest city. She said Tuesday there was not sufficient evidence to keep him jailed while police investigate the attack. No one was injured and the firebombs didn’t damage the building.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Hundreds gather to mourn mom, three kids killed in Brooklyn fire” by Elizabeth Rosner: “The assembled mourners were distraught and wailing as they clung to the vehicles. Unable to enter the synagogue, the bodies then headed straight to JFK airport where a flight was preparing to fly them to Israel.”
 [NYPost]

CHALLAH RISING: “In One New Jersey Town, Pending Tax Changes Create Anxiety” by Patrick McGeehan: “The pending tax changes have been a prime topic of conversation this week among the diners at Eppes Essen, a Jewish delicatessen on one of Livingston’s main thoroughfares, said its manager, Jeff Lajqi… “If they’re raising the taxes, you know what’s going to happen: Everyone’s going to raise prices,” Mr. Lajqi said. Picking up a loaf of challah bread, he added, “Raise my taxes, I raise your challah.”” [NYTimes

“This Israeli designer was asked to sketch a wedding dress for Meghan Markle — here are the designs” by Bobbie Edsor: “According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli fashion designer Inbal Dror… was asked by palace officials to provide some sketches of potential wedding dress designs for Markle last week. When approached by Business Insider, a spokesperson for Inbal Dror declined to comment on whether Dror had been approached by the palace. Nevertheless, the spokesperson did say: “We have been responding to an initiative of the Bridal Council to present the sketches [for Markle].”” [BusinessInsider

DESSERT: “Kosher Cajun Deli in Metairie feeds the hunger of a community” by Todd Price: “Thirty years ago, Joel Brown was a 19-year-old from Metairie. He had a complaint you don’t often get around here. “There were no places to eat in New Orleans,” Brown said. Brown is Jewish. He keeps kosher. Growing up, the only place for him to eat out was at someone else’s house. Now, Kosher eaters have a handful of options around New Orleans. One of those is Kosher Cajun in Metairie, which Brown opened 30 years ago this month.”

“How did a 19-year-old start a grocery and deli? Appropriately enough for a teenage entrepreneur, it started with pizza. Brown had been in Philadelphia visiting family. He discovered kosher pizzas, and brought some back with him to New Orleans. His friends devoured the pizzas and wanted more. “The supply and demand lightbulb went off,” Brown said. The closest kosher pizzeria he could find was in Miami. So he ordered 150 pies, all pre-sold to friends, and arranged to have them flown back via Delta air freight. “They thought it was a prank call,” he said.” [NoLA]

“Fat Sal’s — We’re Making Hanukkah Sandwiches Here” by Susan Hornik: “In honor of the eight-day Jewish holiday, a food collaboration between Fat Sal’s Hollywood, Instagram celebrity the Fat Jewish, Yeastie Boys Bagels and celebrity chef Eric Greenspan came together to create “The Fat Jewish.” Greenspan, who runs modern kosher eatery Fleishik’s and the Roof on Wilshire, thought it was a no-brainer to get involved. “The three of us are sandwich guys and are Jewish — the minute we ran into each other and started talking, we knew we had to team up. It was beshert, which means ‘meant to be’ in Yiddish,” Greenspan said.” [LAWeekly]

BIRTHDAYS: President and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University (1976-2003), then YU’s Chancellor (2003-2013), scholar, author and communal leader, Rabbi Norman Lamm turns 90… Israeli novelist, essayist and playwright, winner of virtually every Hebrew book award, referred to as  the “Israeli Faulkner,” A. B. Yehoshua turns 81… Communications director in the Clinton administration (1999-2001) and then a senior aide to Hillary Clinton, sister of Barney Frank, she is President of the Joint Action Committee Education Foundation, Ann Frank Lewis… Journalist and playwright, Bernard Weinraub turns 80… 1983 winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, mathematical physicist, scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Mitchell Feigenbaum turns 73… NYC-based real estate investor, developer of four of Manhattan’s tallest towers in recent decades, Douglas Durst turns 73… Ruth Wolff turns 71… Israeli scientist, high-tech entrepreneur and leading businesswoman, Orna Berry turns 68… Publisher of Long Beach (California) Jewish Life, Jon Strum turns 63…

CFO at wine importer and distributor, New York Wine Warehouse, Jane Troyturns 63… British cellist, distinguished for his diverse repertoire and distinctive sound, Steven Isserlis turns 59… Member of the Knesset for the Meretz party (2000-2003 and again since November 2017), he has served as secretary general of Peace Now, Moshe “Mossi” Raz turns 52… Acclaimed actor, whose mother is Jewish, he reports that on his 13th brthday he performed a “bar-mitzvah-like act, without the typical trappings,” Jake Gyllenhaal turns 37… Program officer for education and research at the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, Eli Schaap turns 22… Founder, President and Chief Creative Officer of Rachel G Events LLC since 2008, following an event-planning career in the private and non-profit sectors, Rachel L Glazer turns 45… Peter Keizer turns 33… Partner in Tel Aviv-based venture capital firm Aleph, Aaron Rosenson turns 28… David Ginsberg

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