Daily Kickoff: Haley “taking names” of countries voting against Trump admin on Jerusalem | The Mooch’s Hanukkah rant | The Knicks’ Bar Mitzvah Man


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DRIVING THE WEEK — “Israel Tells Envoys to Act to Avoid Embarrassment at UN Vote on Trump’s Jerusalem Move” by Noa Landau: “The UN General Assembly is set to meet on Thursday at 10 A.M. New York time (5 P.M. Israel time) for an emergency discussion on the unilateral American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital… The United States does not have veto power in the General Assembly… In an urgent cable to Israeli diplomatic missions, the ambassadors were asked to seek meetings with high-level officials to persuade them to direct their representatives at the UN to oppose, not to support, or at the very least not to deliver a speech at the General Assembly.” [Haaretz]

“U.S. warns allies Trump will take Jerusalem vote “personally”” by Pamela Falk: “President Trump will be watching a vote in the United Nations General Assembly “very carefully,” and has asked his ambassador to the world body, Nikki Haley, to “report back on those countries who voted against us,” Haley wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to some countries… Haley wrote that the U.S., “will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”” [CBSNews]

‘TAKING NAMES’ — Haley tweeted‏: “At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.”  [Twitter]

HEARD YESTERDAY –Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Likud Hanukkah event: “I told President Trump that keeping a promise was the right thing to do. Some tried to tell him Israel doesn’t really want [the capital recognized or the embassy moved]. He asked me whether Israel wants it. I told him that Israel really wanted it. What does it mean to want? Israel has wanted it for thousands of years. This step will be remembered for generations, as will President Trump visiting the Kotel… The UN says the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian land. I have news for them – the Western Wall is ours, it always was ours and will always be ours. When anyone tries to change history, I say the Maccabees weren’t Palestinians but proud Jews.” [Video]

VIEW FROM EUROPE — Interview with Washington Institute’s David Makovsky following his recent visit to Europe — by Aaron Magid: Makovsky recently returned from a trip to four European capitals where he discussed his new interactive program using satellite imagery to track the latest settlement trends. Makovsky contends that one must differentiate between settlements on the Israeli side of the barrier and those settlements deep inside the West Bank. “There should be at least some understanding where Israel should be permitted to build inside the barrier but in return for restrictions not to build outside the barrier,” Makosky explained. “By drawing the analytical distinction my point is to say there is a basis here to still reach the two state solution not to give up hope and at the same time try to incentivize Israel about settlement activity by being more flexible in areas that in some cases even under Abbas would be part of Israel.”

How the Europeans reacted to the project: “The Europeans understand that any deal means that some bloc settlements will be part of Israel. Yet, they don’t translate this into meaning that adding more settlers into any settlements now — outside of a negotiated deal between Israelis and Palestinians — is something that they can even tacitly support,” Makovsky told Jewish Insider. “As one European diplomat said, ‘Europe has found opposition to all settlements to be a unifier among European states and the EU prioritizes European unity above all.'”

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Brussels, Makovsky noted “there was more convergence than divergence” with Israel in regards to concerns about Iran’s growing military presence in Syria along with Egypt’s fight against extremism in the Sinai peninsula. Nonetheless, on the Palestinian issue, there is a “real chasm” between the EU and Israeli government due to the lack of progress on the peace front. “I came to the conclusion that he (Netanyahu) should almost email his views the next time and save himself the trip,” Makovsky emphasized. Makovsky cautioned that if the Trump administration peace plan fails, it is possible that “several of the more mainstream European countries will unilaterally recognize Palestine.” The full interview will post on JewishInsider.com later today

GREENBLATT IN ISRAEL — “Met with Special Representative Fernando Gentilini to hear his thoughts on recent developments, to discuss Gaza and the US peace efforts. Looking forward to continuing to work together. Met with Gen. Poli Mordechai to discuss security and economic initiatives as well as catch up on other matters… Together with Amb. David Friedman, met with Prime Minister Netanyahu as a check-in as the Administration continues with its peace efforts which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians.” [Twitter]

“Greenblatt arrives in Israel for his first major diplomatic test” by Michael Wilner: “His visit is “not about repairing relations – it’s about moving forward with this plan,” [a White House] official said on Tuesday. “It is a missed opportunity if they don’t want to meet – but we’re not going to pressure them and push for it. We’re going to keep our heads down and continue on.”” [JPost

“PA looks for replacement to US as Mideast peace process sponsor” by Ahmad Abu Amer: “Naji Sharab, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip… said that the United States could be understanding of the Palestinian anger over Trump’s decision if the Palestinian position remained limited to anger and did not translate into policies and positions against the United States and Israel; otherwise, both America and Israel could take strong steps against the PA, such as cutting all the aid and financial support provided to it and tightening the grip around it.” [Al-Monitor]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Two Cheers for Trump’s National Security Strategy” by Dov Zakheim: “Whatever one might argue about the wisdom of the president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — not mentioned in the strategy — there can be little doubt that the authors are absolutely correct when they point out that “Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems.” In one respect, the statement is a mere recognition of reality… Yet it also embodies a repudiation of the Obama administration’s implicit belief that “if only” there were peace between the Israelis and Palestinians all would be well in the Middle East… Perhaps his introduction should be treated as one should treat his early morning tweets: worth noting before getting on to the realities of American policy, which the strategy itself generally articulates exceedingly well.” [FP

“Trump Doesn’t Seem to Buy His Own National Security Strategy” by Peter Beinart: “In its fourth paragraph, the strategy declares that the Trump administration will pursue a “strategy of principled realism.” But Trump mangled the phrase, declaring instead that, “Our new strategy is based on a principle, realism.” Although likely unintentional, Trump’s goof was telling. “Principled realism” probably appeals to Trump’s establishment-minded foreign-policy advisers because it adds a moral patina to America First… This depiction of a globe divided along ideological lines—between white-hatted American democrats and black-hatted Russian and Chinese authoritarians—sounds more like John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Marco Rubio than Donald Trump. Which may be why Trump largely abandoned it in his speech.” [TheAtlantic

ON THE HILL: “Congress demands clarity on Trump administration’s dealings with Qatar” by Josh Rogin: “The American people have a right to know what steps Qatar’s government is taking to deter Islamic terrorism,” a group of lawmakers led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) wrote in a letter to Tillerson on Dec. 14. “The decision to classify the document while publicly praising Qatar’s progress toward upholding its contents makes it impossible for the public to judge Qatar’s compliance.”After four months of requests, the State Department allowed lawmakers to view the MOU once last month, but only for a few hours in the Special Compartmentalized Information Facility inside the office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)… Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J) viewed the MOU and said his concern was not just about its secrecy. The document doesn’t specify what happens to Qatar if it doesn’t make progress on combating terrorism financing, he said.” [WashPost]

BREAKING — via Politico’s Kyle Cheney: “Rep. Jerry Nadler has won the race to become the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, besting Rep. Zoe Lofgren 118-72. It puts Nadler in the driver’s seat on efforts to defend Special Counsel Robert Mueller and if Dems take the House in 18, on impeachment debate.” [Twitter]

As Amir Tibon reported last week, two issues that could come up in discussion before the Judiciary Committee, and are of concern to Israel, include: legislation against boycotts of Israel and its settlements in the West Bank; and international legal investigations concerning IDF actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Chris Christie on MSNBC: “Jared Kushner “deserves the scrutiny. You know why? Because he was involved in the transition and involved in meetings that call into question his role. If he’s innocent of that, then that will come out as Mueller examines all the facts, and if he’s not, that will come out too.” [Video]

“The Mooch rips ‘loser’ Steve Bannon at Hanukkah party” by Mara Siegler: “The Mooch was invited to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Hanukkah party to speak about his trip to Israel… But [Anthony Scaramucci]… once again went wildly off-script during his Sunday night sermon at the rabbi’s Upper West Side townhouse. Of [Steve] Bannon, he told the crowd, “He’s a loser. He’ll be a stalwart defender of Israel until he’s not. That’s how this guy operates. I’ve seen this guy operate… The problem with Bannon is he’s a messianic figure. It’s his way or the highway. He was dramatically and incredibly divisive in the White House… He was leaking on everybody… So the guy’s a loser.” [PageSix

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Trump chief economist Gary Cohn says he’s staying [CNN• Israel’s Elbit Systems wins U.S. contract worth up to $176 million[Reuters] • At Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone, Prospective Buyers Are in the Final Tire-Kicking Phase [VanityFair] • How Elliott gained its stake in the duty-free retailer Dufry is pretty complicated [DealBookFinancialTimes] • 2nd Phase of David Cordish’s Ballpark Village in St. Louis Breaks Ground [CPExec]

SPOTLIGHT: “A New Playbook for Real Estate Dynasties” by Peter Grant: “The Lowys consciously didn’t steer the next generation into Westfield careers because it was a public company, Peter Lowy said. “My dad never believed, I don’t believe and my brother doesn’t believe that just because of us, you would not take [the sale to Unibail] to its logical conclusion,” he said… There were earlier signs the Lowy family was open to selling Westfield at the right price, and family members were eager to do other things. For example, Peter Lowy, who resides in Los Angeles, has made it clear that he was interested in other pursuits, including politics in the U.S. and surfing. His roles include serving as chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council for Los Angeles County… Peter initially decided to leave because he didn’t feel there was enough work or the company was large enough for two chief executives. Peter’s father and the board changed his mind.” [WSJ] • Disclosure: Peter Lowy is the Chair of Tribe Media

PROFILE: “The Man Who Made The Republican Internet — And Then Sold It To Far-Right Nationalists Overseas” by Henry Gomez: “In 2015, [Vincent Harris] signed on with Israel’s Likud Party and the reelection campaign for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a move that fit Harris’ evangelical conservative politics, in which Israel’s importance is deeply ingrained. The timing of his hiring fueled speculation that he was a favor from some of his conservative clients back home. “I have not spoken to Senator Cruz or to Mitch McConnell about my job here,” he told the Jerusalem Post at the time… Lacking strong ties to Trump or to a Republican establishment that hasn’t yet found the secret to navigating Trumpism, Harris’ US prospects are a bit murky. The firm has been closely aligned with Secure America Now, a conservative, pro-Israel advocacy organization that has a digital-first messaging strategy.” [BuzzFeed

TEVI TROY’S LATEST: “Heritage’s New President Faces a Challenge” — “The campaign and election of Donald Trump largely rewrote conventional wisdom. Traditional conservative think tanks were not Trump-friendly… A more likely punishment for a think tank out of presidential favor would be a deliberate lack of relevancy with the administration, relegating it to the same status as the 1,800 or so other think tanks in the country (400 or so in Washington alone). But the Trump administration is different. If it does not like the direction of the new Heritage, it is more apt than previous administrations to express that unhappiness personally and publicly. At this point, given the challenges both Heritage and Trump face in our fractured political debates, their alliance may grow stronger.” [TheAtlantic

“Conservatism Can’t Survive Donald Trump Intact” by David Frum: “The conservative intellectual world is whipsawed between its distaste for Trump and its fear of its own audience… The vast majority of those in the conservative world who do not admire Trump—and who cannot safely divert their feelings into anti-anti-Trump fulminations against the detested liberal media—are carefully treading his own prudent path… As the scandals about Trump worsen, pressures on right-of-center people to conform will only tighten… The urgency to defend Trump will accelerate should Republicans lose one or both chambers of Congress in November 2018.” [TheAtlantic]

TRANSITION — Frank Lowenstein, former Mideast Envoy and longtime adviser to John Kerry, joined APCO Worldwide as head of the firm’s growing Global Solutions Practice.

TRAGIC: “After Fatal Fire in Brooklyn, a Somber and Cautious End to Hanukkah” by Luis Ferre-Sadurni and Kenneth Rosen: “The fatal fire rattled a deeply religious community… On Tuesday, as neighbors grappled with the loss of life, they also focused on the safest way to celebrate the seventh and penultimate night of Hanukkah… “Jewish families are generally very cognizant of the danger of open flames, as candles or oil lamps are used to usher in the Sabbath each week as well as on holidays, particularly Hanukkah,” said Avi Shafran, the director of public affairs at Agudath Israel of America. “But, like any open flame, they should not be left unattended.”” [NYTimes] • Dad doesn’t know his children died in fire caused by menorah[NYPost]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Jewish family pulls off a ‘Toys for Tots’ Christmas miracle” by Carl Campanile: “The family sprang into action when Toys for Tots was overwhelmed by demand and didn’t have enough toys to go around. Within 24 hours, Gabriella Rizack, 22, her dad, Joshua, and brothers Reid and Emmet came to the rescue by raising $17,000 to deliver gifts to the waiting children… Gabriella volunteered after seeing an appeal for the toy charity online, persuading her father to overcome his reservations about wearing a St. Nick costume. “What’s a Jew doing putting on a Santa Claus suit?” Joshua quipped. “Think about all the Christians who died liberating the [concentration] camps and how we can set an example to people of all religions, dad,” Gabriella responded.” [NYPost

SPORTS BLINK: “New York Knicks’ O’Quinn: ‘Next thing you know, I was just Bar Mitzvah Man’” by Ian Begley: “For a few Saturdays during his tenure in New York, [Kyle] O’Quinn has taken on an entirely different one: bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah entertainer. “The parties are crazy,” he said. “I did one, did two, and the next thing you know, I was just Bar Mitzvah Man.” O’Quinn is one of the bigger comedians in the Knicks’ locker room, so it makes sense that he would thrive as the headline act at a party filled with 13-year-olds. The 6-foot-10 center spends most of his time at the parties socializing, dancing, joking around with families and — of course — taking plenty of selfies.” [ESPN

DESSERT: “Harlem rugelach bakery is a hot spot for Midtown media crowd” by Emily Smith: “Alvin Lee Smalls, 75, who runs Lee Lee’s on 118th Street, is said to be Harlem’s last old-style rugelach baker, and we are told customers have been lining up for orders before the holidays. Tamron Hall also joined the queue and managed to snatch one of the last rugelach batches, bringing it to Michael’s on Monday… Hall… shared them with her high-powered friends after lunch, including p.r. expert for city billionaires and new communications firm founder Christine Taylor, Full Picture and Project Runway’s Desiree Gruber, philanthropy and events specialist Vanessa Weiss and Sandra Lee… before the delectable dish was passed around to other diners. Smalls describes his baking style as “a dying art” and he rolls each rugelach by hand.” [PageSix

BIRTHDAYS: Television producer, creator and executive producer of the Law & Order franchise, Richard Anthony (Dick) Wolf turns 71… Founder of an online childrens bookstore featuring titles in a variety of languages, Yona Eckstein turns 76… Former chair of the executive committee of the Jewish Federations of North America, he also served three terms as president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Michael Gelman turns 73… Illusionist, magician, television personality and self-proclaimed psychic, Uri Geller turns 71… Carol Gene Berk turns 67… President of the University of Miami since 2015, he is a Mexican-born physician and former Secretary of Health of Mexico, Julio Frenk turns 64… Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale since 2014, she is a professor of both philosophy and psychology, Tamar Gendler turns 52… Writer, best known as the author of the book “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough,” Lori Gottlieb turns 51… Actor, producer, screenwriter and comedian, Jonah Hill(full name Jonah Hill Feldstein) turns 34… Development associate at the UJA-Federation of New York, Adam Wolfthal turns 32… Denver-based director of communications at Israel on Campus Coalition, Megan Nathan turns 32… Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Jeremy Burton… Bob Lindenbaum

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