Daily Kickoff: Report — John Kerry tells Abbas to wait out Trump | Pence’s Rabbi | Benioff compares Facebook to cigarettes | Elliott Abrams BDay


Have our people email your people. Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here!

DAVOS 2018 — “In Davos, a Club Trump Has Revered and Resented Finally Opens Its Doors” by Peter Baker: “Many of the American 1-percenters here have Mr. Trump to thank for the substantial corporate and personal tax cuts that he helped push through Congress in December. But privately, they consider him a global wild card and bristle at his efforts to build walls, figuratively and literally, against immigration and free trade. “Will political and corporate leaders at Davos seek to flatter Trump to get on his good side or give him the cold shoulder given their growing concerns about his leadership?” asked David J. Kramer, a former State Department official under President George W. Bush.” [NYTimes

“Who Will Donald Trump Appease In Davos: His Base Or The Global Elite?” by Tarini Parti and Ben Smith: “If I were talking to Donald Trump — and who knows, maybe he’s watching TV somewhere — I would say: Come to Davos to build alliances,” said Jane Harman, a former Democratic member of Congress from California and now-president of the Woodrow Wilson Center… “It’s the right thing to do and it’s the best strategy in a world that’s increasingly tribal,” she said, describing DC to this global audience as “the entertainment capital of the world.” [BuzzFeed]

SPOTTED at Davos — Alexander Soros, the son of George Soros, with Jordan’s King Abdullah II: “Always an honor to meet with his majesty, #kingabdullah of #Jordan, who continues to do so much to quell tensions worldwide in these troubling times!” [Pic]

DIPLOMACY — President Trump will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos on Thursday ”to reiterate America’s strong commitment to Israel and efforts to reduce Iran’s influence in the Middle East, and ways to achieve lasting peace,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said yesterday at the White House press briefing.

REPORT: “Kerry to Abbas confidante: ‘Stay strong and do not give in to Trump'” by Ben Caspit: “Former US Secretary of State John Kerry met in London with a close associate of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Hussein Agha… During the conversation… Kerry asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to “hold on and be strong.” Tell him, he told Agha, “that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump’s demands.” According to Kerry, Trump will not remain in office for a long time… Kerry… recommended that Abbas present his own peace plan… He promised to use all his contacts and all his abilities to get support for such a plan.”

“He surprised his interlocutor by saying he was seriously considering running for president in 2020. When asked about his advanced age, he said he was not much older than Trump and would not have an age problem.” [JPost]

A senior White House official told reporters during a background briefing that the last time Jason Greenblatt or Jared Kushner had spoken with Palestinian leadership was prior to Trump’s Dec. 6th announcement on Jerusalem: “One of the tragic things that I have noticed since Dec. 6th is there are so many Palestinians who are reaching out… over the past 12 months, both in the West Bank and Gaza and Palestinian Americans. They all want to continue to talk, but they’re all afraid to talk. So they’re asking… for quiet meetings, private meetings. They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk. It doesn’t bode well for what we’re trying to create if there’s no freedom of speech among the Palestinians, so that troubles me greatly. And we’re trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

LORD, CHIEF RABBI AND… SPEECHWRITER: “Britain’s former chief rabbi behind Pence’s biblical Knesset address” by Raoul Wootliff: “Rabbi [Jonathan] Sacks was an instrumental part of crafting the vice president’s speech,” a source with knowledge of the speech writing process said. “Rabbi Sacks provided input and editorial suggestions on various drafts throughout the writing process.” … A White House official said that Pence met with Sacks for some 90 minutes in New York in November “explicitly to discuss themes and structure for the speech” and that the rabbi was consulted throughout the entire speech drafting process. Sacks’ office confirmed the meeting and Sacks’ influence on the speech, telling The Times of Israel that he met with Pence “at the request of the vice president” and that the two had ‘a very good meeting.”” [ToI

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik writes… “As I walked out of the Knesset following Vice President Mike Pence’s Monday afternoon address, an Israeli cameraman turned to me with a jovial expression. Speaking in Hebrew, he asked me about the man whose speech he had just heard: “Was that the messiah, or the vice president of the United States?” … The cameraman was also probably struck by how religious, and biblically based, the speech was. Mr. Pence threaded his remarks with references to Scripture, a rhetorical technique Knesset audiences have rarely heard from a political leader since Menachem Begin resigned as prime minister in 1983. Mr. Pence’s address was one of the most Zionist speeches ever given by a non-Jew in the Knesset.” [WSJ]

“What Mike Pence Just Did in Jerusalem” by Aaron David Miller: ”Mike Pence’s trip was less important for what it accomplished than what it reflected and represented: Under Trump: the U.S.-Israel relationship has undergone a transition from a valued special relationship to one that’s seemingly exclusive… Pro-Israeli vice presidents have come and gone to Israel (Al Gore, Joe Biden) but none seems to have left the impression Pence did… What’s new is that you now have an influential vice president sitting next to a president who shows no interest even in pretending to be even-handed on the Arab-Israeli conflict; he’s all in for Israel.” [Politico

“Pence, the Anti-Trump, Takes Israel by Storm” by Zev Chafets: “Despite dire predictions by some American experts, the Arab countries that matter aren’t even pretending to be outraged by the Trump administration’s tilt to Israel. The Palestinian Authority, having boycotted an American vice president, has had a chance to measure the efficacy of that approach. Mahmoud Abbas came home understanding that salvation is not going to come from Brussels. For the team currently putting together Trump’s “ultimate” Middle East deal, these are insights worth having.” [BloombergView]

“Pence Visit Was a Balm to Israelis. Now Back to Reality” by Isabel Kershner: ““After Pence leaves and Bibi takes off for Davos, the Arabs will still be here,” Ben Caspit, a political columnist, wrote on Tuesday in the Maariv newspaper.” [NYTimes

Shalom Lipner writes… “Forget the Ultimate Deal. The Mideast Needs the Status Quo: Governments in Ramallah and Jerusalem are blaming each other for the impasse and climbing into the trees, where they will wait petulantly for some incentive to justify their return to dialogue… Israel will appeal to the administration for greater latitude to create facts on the ground, while the Palestinians will cry betrayal and circle their wagons. In such an environment, the order of the day is containment — making sure that violence does not erupt and preserving the hope of constructive interaction once the atmosphere clears.” [ForeignPolicy

IRAN DEAL — “Nixing the Iran Deal Would Be Better Than a Fake Fix” by Richard Goldberg: “A phony fix might only address long-range missiles that don’t even exist yet, legitimizing Iran’s perfection of short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles capable of wiping out U.S. bases, allies, and interests. A fake fix, like the one under discussion in the Senate, might also detach Iran’s missile activity from the automatic resumption of sanctions, instead outlining lesser sanctions that will never successfully deter the mullahs from pressing forward with their illicit missile program.”[ForeignPolicy

STATE-SIDE: Florida Legislators push proposals to punish companies boycotting Israel — by James Call: “House Speaker Richard Corcoran Tuesday threw the weight of his office behind an effort by Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard, to toughen Florida’s prohibition of doing business with companies that boycott Israel. Fine wants to eliminate the $1 million threshold that triggers the ban so that any contract with any company boycotting Israel would be prohibited… Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Miami… is sponsoring a resolution to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital… Fine’s HB 545 and Moskowitz’s 1027 will be debated in committee Wednesday. Both have cleared previous committees.” [TallahasseeDemocrat]

2018 WATCH: “Pritzker-Biss rivalry emerges at first televised Democratic governor debate” by Rick Pearson and Kim Geiger: “He’s obviously worried. He kept naming me all night long,” [Daniel] Biss said of [J.B.] Pritzker afterward. Later, Biss added, “What I left here wondering (was), ‘What’s in J.B. Pritzker’s polling data? Why on this day was J.B. Pritzker all of a sudden going after me?’” Pritzker is widely regarded as the front-runner ahead of the March 20 primary election… Biss… has been courting Democratic primary voters who liked Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders instead of Clinton in 2016.” [ChicagoTribune

** Good Wednesday 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: Marc Benioff, one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful CEOs, compares Facebook to cigarettes [Mashable• David Rubenstein: ‘When people are happy and confident, something wrong happens’ [CNBC] • Beny Alagem submits revised proposal to get the Waldorf Astoria Residences, a controversial condo development slated for Beverly Hills, built [RealDeal] • An Israeli defense company showed off a radical new shotgun that looks straight out of science fiction [BusinessInsider] • WeWork announced its latest foray into learning, a strategic partnership with 2U, a company that develops and operates online graduate programs for universities including Berkeley, Georgetown, and Yale [FastCompany] • Mall Owners Flock to Transit Hubs [WSJ] • Weinstein Company enters into exclusive talks for sale [NYPost]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli road hazard warning app Nexar raises $30 million” by Tova Cohen: “Israel-based Nexar, whose technology warns drivers of real-time road hazards, said on Wednesday it raised $30 million in a financing round led by Ibex Ventures… The company also said it appointed Yoad Shraybom, a former Disney executive, as chief financial officer.” [ReutersTechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT: “Clash Between Founder and Protégé Plunges Och-Ziff Into Crisis” by Gregory Zuckerman and Rob Copeland: “Once they were mentor and protégé. Now Daniel Och and James Levin are trapped in a battle for the future of one of New York’s biggest investment firms. In the late 1990s, Mr. Levin was working at a summer camp in Wisconsin, teaching Mr. Och’s son how to water ski. By last year, the younger man was in line to succeed Mr. Och as chief executive of Och-Ziff Capital Management LLC, the largest publicly traded hedge fund in the U.S. with $33 billion in assets under management… Over Christmas weekend, Och-Ziff rushed out a letter to investors revealing that the 57-year-old Mr. Och had changed his mind, overruling others in the process… People familiar with Mr. Och’s thinking say he felt Mr. Levin pushed too far, too fast, asking for more money and control than he was due. “A level of distrust” had developed between the two executives, says a person close to the matter…” [WSJ]

MEDIA WATCH — “Steve Capus Out as Top Producer at ‘CBS Evening News’” by Brian Steinberg: “Mosheh Oinounou will replace Steve Capus as the executive producer of “CBS Evening News.” … In Oinounou, CBS News has a producer whose experience matches that of CBS News President David Rhodes… Oinounou worked on the management team that created and launched CBSN, and was the first executive producer of the live streaming service.” [Variety]

Alan Dershowitz writes… “Do the Jews control the world? It is true that Jewish families have ownership interests in the New York Times and other newspapers. But those newspapers don’t promote Jewish “control” of the world. Indeed, they are often at odds with Jewish public opinion. The same is true of Wall Street, Hollywood, and academia, where individual Jews hold diverse opinions on issues of Jewish concern. But to the anti-Semite, all Jews are the same and their goal – to control the world – is identical. So, no – Jews do not control the world. Many contribute to the world through their individual accomplishments… The world would be a poorer place – intellectually, artistically, charitably and in many other ways – if there were no Jews.”[WashExaminer]

PROFILE: “This New Yorker is Reviving Jewish Life in Krakow” by Stephen Starr: “Much has changed for Krakow’s Jewish community in the decade since the JCC opened — owing in large part to [Jonathan] Ornstein’s grit. From fundraising to programming to membership outreach, he’s a driving force that never seems to idle. He’s also the engine behind the annual 50-mile Ride for the Living in which cyclists bike from Auschwitz to the JCC to honor victims of the Holocaust… Ornstein used part of the funds raised to pay for a group of Holocaust survivors and JCC members to visit Israel.” [Ozy]

HOLLYWOOD: “Israel’s culture minister hails her country’s Oscar failure” by Jeffrey Heller: “Israel’s culture minister breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday that her country’s contender had failed to land an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film… “Foxtrot” tells the fictional story of an army checkpoint where bored Israeli troops shoot Arab passers-by after mistaking a soda can for a weapon, and then cover up the incident… Miri Regev] told Army Radio that they had “saved us from bitter disappointment and a false presentation of the Israel Defense Forces internationally,” while adding that she had not seen the movie.” [Reuters]

“McMafia star Yuval Scharf: If James Norton is 007, I want to be his Bond girl” by Alastair McKay: “Though Scharf is a well-known performer in Israel (she is married to the classically trained popular pianist Shlomi Shaban, and they live in Tel Aviv with their two-year-old son), McMafia is her first international project. “I was super-excited when I got it,” she says.” [EveniningStandard

“Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport Grounds All Flights Due to Intrusive Drone” by Marco Margaritoff: “Reportedly, airport authorities deemed the uninvited drone to pose a “security and safety risk,” which warranted a complete shutdown until the situation was clear. The drone was first seen at 7:20 p.m., just a few hours after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Israel for a two-day trip through the same airport.” [TheDrive

DEEP DIVE: “How Arafat Eluded Israel’s Assassination Machine” by Ronen Bergman: “Arafat understood that it was not a coincidence that bombs were repeatedly falling on places he was about to enter or had just left, and he kept breaking his routine… On July 3, 1982, Uri Avnery, a left-wing Israeli magazine editor, along with a reporter and photographer, crossed the front line in Beirut to interview Arafat in the heart of the city… The Salt Fish team decided to take advantage of the opportunity to let the three journalists unknowingly lead a group of assassins straight to Arafat. An argument broke out among the Salt Fish team members: Was it right to endanger, and probably kill, the Israeli citizens? The answer, they decided, was that it was. But Arafat suspected that Mossad might be keeping tabs on Avnery. His security guards took strict deceptive countermeasures, and the Salt Fish team lost their trail in the alleys of south Beirut.” [NYTimes

“Poisoned Toothpaste and Exploding Phones: Israel’s Proxy for War” by Ethan Bronner: “Ronen Bergman, the intelligence correspondent for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, persuaded many agents of Mossad, Shin Bet and the military to tell their stories, some using their real names… Based on 1,000 interviews and thousands of documents, and running more than 600 pages, Rise and Kill First makes the case that Israel has used assassination in the place of war, killing half a dozen Iranian nuclear scientists, for instance, rather than launching a military attack.” [Bloomberg]

DESSERT: “These Tours Use Food to Bridge the Gap Between Israel and Palestine” by Nikki Ekstein: “Intrepid’s trips begin in Tel Aviv, the restaurant capital of the Middle East, and end in Jerusalem, where travelers check out a handful of religious sites before tucking into bowls of hummus at one of the Old City’s hummusiyas. In between, they take guests to an Israeli winery near the Negev desert, to a Palestinian dessert bakery in Nablus, and to a cooking demonstration in the village of Buq’ata, populated by Druze Arabs. All of the activities are guided, primarily by Palestinian group leaders licensed by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.” [Businessweek]

SPORTS BLINK — CNN host Jake Tapper on Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin following Philadelphia Eagles’ NFC title win over the Vikings: “As a lifelong Eagles fan, I grew up just a few miles from Veterans Stadium, where they used to play. It was such a dream to go to the game. One of the vice presidents of the Eagles, a guy named Ari Roitman — went to my high school. He was a few years behind me — saw all my rabid, insane pro-Eagles tweets and asked if I would want to come. And I got to bring my pop, who was a pediatrician in that neighborhood, South Philadelphia. And it was great. And it was very cool walking onto the field. This is stuff that I normally don’t get to do, and certainly, my dad has never gotten to do..” [Video

PICS OF THE DAY — Chabad at George Washington University met with Wolf Blitzer and CNN’s D.C. Bureau Chief Sam Feist at CNN’s Washington studios yesterday. [Facebook]

#Mikvah: Mary Anne Huntsman posted a picture of her father Jon Huntsman, the current U.S. Ambassador to Russia, taking a dip in ice-cold waters in Moscow, attached with a photo of Vladimir Putin doing the same: “Can’t believe my father took THREE dips in these icy cold waters. Go Dad!!!” [Instagram

BIRTHDAYS: Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, previously Deputy National Security Advisor in the Bush 43 administration and Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, Elliott Abrams turns 70… Executive producer of the CBS series Blue Bloods, he was head of programming for ABC and president of 20th Century Fox, Leonard J. Goldberg turns 84… Singer-songwriter, musician and actor, one of the world’s best-selling recording artists of all time, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil Diamond turns 77… Born in Tel Aviv, 2011 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, Professor at Technion and Iowa State University, Dan Shechtmanturns 77… Soviet-born comedian, actor and writer, emigrated to the US in 1977, noted for the catchphrase “What a country,” Yakov Smirnoff (born Yakov Naumovich Pokhis) turns 67…

Conductor, violinist, and violist, who has performed with leading symphony orchestras worldwide, Yuri Bashmet turns 65… Danny Flamberg turns 64… Founder of an online software training website which was acquired by LinkedIn in April 2015 for $1.5 billion, Lynda Weinman turns 63… West Hempstead, NY resident, Beryl Eckstein turns 60… NYC-based senior correspondent for Fox News since 1997, Rick Leventhal turns 58… Former CEO of Ford Motor Company (2014-2017), now a senior adviser at private equity firm TPG Capital, Mark Fields (his family’s original name was Finkelman) turns 57… B’nei mitzvah coordinator at Temple Beth Am of Los Angeles, Judith Alban turns 56… Editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times, formerly editor-in-chief of Chabad News and news editor at Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Joshua Runyan turns 37… TACKMA’s Jeffrey Schottenstein turns 32…

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]


Comments are closed.