Daily Kickoff: At Davos, Trump says no aid to PA until they return to table | Report: Abbas’ new private jet | Meg Whitman joins Katzenberg’s startup


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HEARD LAST NIGHT — Former President Barack Obama in a conversation with Rabbi Joshua Davidson at Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in NYC last night: “I’m basically a liberal Jew.” [Pic

‘THE BIG MOVE’ — President Donald Trump described last month’s U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as an “honor” to Israel for always supporting the United States at the start of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “We have discussions going on with Israel on many things, including trade, but the big move — something that was very historic and very important — to that fact that we will be moving our embassy, as you know, to Jerusalem, and as we also know, that is way ahead of schedule — by years — and we anticipate to having a small version of it opened some time next year,” Trump said. Netanyahu, in turn, thanked Trump for the “historic” decision and lauded him for standing with Israel at the UN “by word and deed.” Bibi described his relationship with Trump as a “remarkable, tremendous friendship.”

Trump also slammed the Palestinians for their reaction to the Jerusalem move and decision to boycott Pence on his Mideast trip: “Israel has always supported the U.S. So what I did with Jerusalem was my honor. And hopefully, we can do something with peace. I would like to see it… I can tell you, Israel does want to make peace, and they (the Palestinians) are going to have to want to make peace too, or we are going to have nothing to do with them any longer… The hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem… (Turning to Bibi) You won one point, and you will give up some points later on in the negotiations — if it ever takes place. I don’t know that it will ever take place. But they have to respect the process also.”

Trump indicates further cuts to U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority: “When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them; when we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support — tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands — that money is on the table. That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace… Respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we’re just not going any further… The money is on the table… because why should we do that as a country if they’re doing nothing for us.” [Video

“Russia’s Putin to meet Israel’s PM Netanyahu” by Andrey Ostroukh: “Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli leader visits Moscow on Jan. 29.”[Reuters]

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE — While President Trump visits Davos, First Lady Melania Trump paid a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in honor of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday. “Such powerful exhibits here at the @HolocaustMuseum as @FLOTUS continues tour with museum director,” Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham tweeted.

DAVOS 2018 — “‘America No Longer Matters.’ Davos Isn’t Worried About President Trump” by Molly Ball: “Trump may represent the antithesis of everything the Davos crowd holds dear. But on the other hand, that crowd is making a lot of money these days. “It’s been a very economically successful year,” said Sami Sagol, an Israeli businessman and philanthropist who was seated at the health bar, where a variety of natural juices were available. “I didn’t expect it, but he’s been successful, and this must be celebrated.” … Davos welcomes the powerful, whatever their creed… “I don’t think Trump coming here is anything special,” Eyal Gura, an Israeli investor, told me. “You have hundreds of other world leaders here, including nondemocratic leaders, people who violate human rights and so on.”” [TIME]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Eric Cantor on whether he’s thinking about getting back into politics in an interview with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer at Davos : ”I love my country. I am a big advocate of my party, and the limited government, free-market conservative that I am, I miss some of the things that I did during the day. It is a different day now, I will tell you that. And I’ve also learned — through the experience I had on Capitol Hill and now at Moelis & Company — you never say never. You always sort of look for what the best solution for the day is.” [YahooFinance]

ALSO HEARD AT DAVOS: “Abdullah: US must get a major Israeli concession after Jerusalem recognition” by Jacob Magid: “The challenge that the Americans have with the Israelis is that if this [Jerusalem recognition] is to make any sense, it’s to give something pretty good to the Palestinians,” [King Abdullah II] told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria… Abdullah argued that the Palestinians were still very interested in talks, saying they have not abandoned other options. “They’re reaching out to the Europeans and to me, that is the signal that they do want peace,” he said, referring to Palestinian frustration as merely “a hiccup.” [ToI]

“The biggest threat to Lebanon is Israel, Prime Minister Hariri says” by Natasha Turak: “The biggest threat to Lebanon’s stability is Israel, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos Wednesday. “The only threat I see is Israel taking some kind of action against Lebanon, out of a miscalculation,” Hariri said. “And this is the real threat, I believe… When Israel decides to launch a war against Lebanon, this is something that is unexplainable…” [CNBC

White House Envoy Jason Greenblatt tweets: “Today I spoke with a group of EU Heads of Mission to the PA. At the right time, we will work together with all our friends & allies in Europe, and beyond, to advance our goal of peace. The road we travel to lasting peace requires the efforts and support of many.” [Twitter]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Aid groups slam U.S. for withholding Palestinian refugee funds” by Eric Walsh: “The leaders of 21 humanitarian aid groups wrote to the Trump administration on Wednesday to object “in the strongest terms” to a decision to withhold $65 million in planned U.S. contributions to the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees… The leaders of the aid groups warned of “dire consequences” if the cut was maintained.” [Reuters]

REPORT: Amid funding cut fears, PA purchases $50 million private jet for Abbas: “Even as the Palestinian Authority faces major funding cuts from the US, it has purchased a new luxurious $50 million private jet to be used by President Mahmoud Abbas, Hadashot news reported… The plane was set to be delivered to Amman within weeks, and will be stationed there for use by the PA chief. Funding for the plane was said to have been provided both from the PA budget ($20 million) and from the Palestinian National Fund ($30 million).” [ToI]

On Mideast visit, US house speaker vows to confront Iran: “In an address to the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, [Speaker Paul Ryan] said the U.S. wants to challenge Iran’s ability to threaten the region with ballistic missiles and stop its expansion across the Middle East. Emirati Ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba was so pleased with Ryan’s comments, he said the speech could have been his own. The delegation visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and met with Saudi King Salman.” [AP]

“UK’s former chief rabbi defends his help for Pence’s Israel speech” by Harriet Sherwood: “Dan Sacker, Lord [Jonathan] Sacks’s spokesman, confirmed that the former chief rabbi and the vice-president had met in New York for 90 minutes to discuss the speech… Sacks… considered it “a great tribute to the Jewish people” that Pence had sought his guidance for sections of his speech dwelling on the historical connection between Jews and Israel, Sacker added… The meeting “centered around how best to frame elements of the speech – in particular the biblical and historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and the American and Jewish stories… It was these, and only these, elements of the speech that Rabbi Sacks assisted with.” … The former chief rabbi was not paid for his help with Pence’s speech, Sacker said.” [TheGuardian]

REPORT — Dermer tells Netanyahu African migrant deportation plan damaging Israel’s image: “Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer has reportedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that press coverage of planned forced deportations of African migrants to third-party countries, said to be Uganda and Rwanda, is… causing Israel “great reputational damage.”” [ToINana10

TALK OF THE TOWN — “New Orleans Council Revisits Palestinian-Backed Measure” by Kevin McGill: “New Orleans City Council members will take another look Thursday at an anti-discrimination resolution that drew them into an international controversy over Israel and the Palestinians. The Jan. 11 resolution “encourages the creation of a process” to review city investments or contracts involving businesses that violate human and civil rights…  But a council news release noted it was adopted “in accordance with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement, also known as BDS.” … The council drew rebukes from critics who said the movement is rooted in anti-Semitism. That led to its being placed on Thursday’s council agenda for reconsideration.” [USNews]

“Sen. Bill Cassidy attacks New Orleans City Council over pro-Palestine resolution” by Kevin Litten: “While city council members feigned innocence, claiming to be totally unaware of the resolution’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic meaning, pro-BDS activists and anti-Semites around the nation rejoiced,” Cassidy said in [a fundraising email to supporters]. “As your senator, I will always stand with Israel and work to protect Jewish-Americans from the harm that BDS causes, this I promise you.”” [NOLA

“Paul Nehlen Is an Anti-Semitic Clown” by Emma Green: “What’s even more infuriating about the phenomenon of Paul Nehlen is that he has succeeded in getting people to pay attention to his shtick. Famous journalists take his bait and fight with him on Twitter. He’s gotten write-ups in publications… he is a constant source of fascination for outlets that serve largely Jewish audiences, such as Haaretz and The Forward; and now, he’s landed an article in The Atlantic… But it’s a mistake to think these figures represent a mass resurgence of outright bigotry akin to the 1920s Ku Klux Klan or Nazi Germany. People like Nehlen need to troll hard in order to get a second glance; his profile, audience, and momentum are all built on his ridiculous performance, not any actual influence on public policy.” [TheAtlantic

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Meg Whitman Tapped As CEO of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Mobile Content Venture [VarietyAxios• Shari Redstone’s Viacom-CBS Merger Plans Take Shape Amid Tension [HollywoodReporter] • Goldman CEO and Clinton supporter Lloyd Blankfein has ‘really liked’ what Trump has done for economy [CNBC] • Slack founder Stewart Butterfield named 2018 Distinguished Entrepreneur [BCBusiness] • Kushners’ NJ Towers Get New Life After Charlie Kushner Meeting With Jersey City Mayor Fulop[Bloomberg] • Why Goldman and Pritzker Sank Millions Into a Startup Before Suing It for Fraud [WSJ] • Israel’s Fiverr buys US startup AND CO for undisclosed amount [ToI]

“Billionaire Steven Cohen ramps up GOP donations amid hedge fund comeback” by Brian Schwartz and Charlie Gasparino: “According to campaign finance records, Cohen has donated a total $2 million last year to the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC… as well $1 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund… “Cohen is getting back into the hedge fund business, and he’s making sure he has allies lined up on Capitol Hill given what he went through,” said one financial services lobbyist… The $2 million he gave in 2017 to the GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund made him the PAC’s top donor along with Bernard Marcus… “With Republicans in power, he’s been making more money than he knows what to do with,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said. “For Steve Cohen, you have the money and you have the time and you can influence Congress.”” [FoxBusiness]

SPOTLIGHT: “How Aly Raisman’s Leadership Reformed Women’s Gymnastics—and Heralded Larry Nassar’s Downfall” by Eren Orbey: “Though Raisman is a legendary independent talent… her greatest contribution to American gymnastics may be a steadfast style of leadership that makes her an apt icon for the current reckoning. Known fondly, by her teammates and the Gymternet, as Grandma Aly, the twenty-three-year-old was the eldest member of Rio’s self-proclaimed Final Five, in 2016, and London’s Fierce Five, four years before… Along the way, she has offered invaluable mentorship to younger athletes, who have delivered her handwritten notes of adoration and praised her positivity in the press. “She’s sort of the one who’s always looking out for everybody,” Gabby Douglas, Raisman’s longtime teammate, said in 2016.” [NewYorker] • Aly Raisman: U.S.A. Gymnastics Horror “Is Bigger than Larry Nassar” [VanityFair]

MEDIA WATCH: Bill Kristol takes on Fox News, Tucker Carlson — by John Harwood: “Tucker Carlson began at The Weekly Standard. Tucker Carlson was a great young reporter. He was one of the most gifted 24-year-olds I’ve seen in the 20 years that I edited the magazine… He had always a little touch of Pat Buchananism, I would say, paleo-conservativism. But that’s very different from what he’s become now. I mean, it is close now to racism, white — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethno-nationalism of some kind, let’s call it.” [CNBC]

“For Pope Francis, Fake News Goes Back to the Garden of Eden” by Jason Horowitz: “The serpent in the Garden of Eden hissed the first fake news to Eve and it all went downhill from there, Pope Francis wrote in a major document about the phenomenon of fake news released on Wednesday. “We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place,” the pope wrote in a message ahead of what the church has designated as its World Day of Social Communications, in May. Arguing that the “crafty” serpent’s effective disinformation campaign to get Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge “began the tragic history of human sin,” he added, “I would like to contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news.”” [NYTimes]

“Watch Lorde & Jack Antonoff Respond To Pro-Israel Heckler In NYC” by Tom Breihan: “Between songs, as Lorde was telling the crowd that they were “so nice,” one gentleman interrupted to tell her that “in Israel, they’re nice, also.” This was, of course, a reference to Lorde canceling a show in Israel… In response to the heckler, Lorde stammered, “I know. I know that.” Antonoff, in defense of his friend, leapt to his feet and said, “No, hold on! We’re here raising a shit-ton of money. F*** that negativity… You know where they’re nice? Right here. Right f***ing here…”” [Stereogum]

“‘West of the Jordan River’ Examines the Mideast Peace Process” by Ben Kenigsberg: “At the opening of the new film, [Amos] Gitai somewhat pretentiously likens his role to that of an “archaeologist” of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This episodic documentary jumps back and forth in time, mainly between 1994, when Mr. Gitai filmed an interview with Yitzhak Rabin, then the Israeli prime minister… and 2016, when Mr. Gitai surveys the aftermath of the stalled peace process that Rabin fought for. Through interviews with Israeli politicians, and Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, “West of the Jordan River” gives voice to peace-seeking residents on both sides of the conflict.” [NYTimes

“Israel Speeds Up Underground Border Wall To Block Gaza Tunnels” by Daniel Estrin: “Work on the “obstacle,” as the military dubs it, began last summer. About 2.5 miles are already complete. Now the military says it is accelerating construction, working 24 hours a day, six days a week — breaking only for the Sabbath — to complete the wall by mid-2019. How deep underground the wall will go is being kept secret. “It’s deep enough,” said a senior Israeli military official… On a media tour last week, soldiers drove reporters in armored vehicles along the length of the Israel-Gaza border, which has been transformed into a large construction site…” [NPR

TRANSITION — Rabbi Marc Baker was selected yesterday to be the next President of CJP (Combined Jewish Philanthropies). Baker is replacing Barry Shrage who served as CJP President for 31 years.

PIC OF THE DAY — New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul with Chef Elior Balbul at ALENbi restaurant, a modern Israeli cuisine in Crown Heights, Brooklyn [Pic]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Israeli chef Mike Solomonov, who recently won the James Beard Award for outstanding chef, discussed Israeli cuisine on The Atlantic Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg: “I cook because I like it. The reason I cook Israeli food is because when I started nobody else was doing it…” Goldberg: But Israelis were doing it… Solomonov:“There were, but they weren’t chefs; they were businessmen. They would come to the States and would like open a shawarma shop or like a hummus place or whatever, and it was a slice of what they thought Americans wanted to eat. But what we wanted to do, or our vision for it, was the Israeli experience, using ingredients that we have here, but really the soul or the spirit of the hospitality that you get there – all the different plates, all the vegetables, and the acid, and the salt, and the spices. All of that, this like balagan element; this upheaval of order.” Goldberg: Balagan is a Hebrew word that means basically chaos, disorder. Solomonov: “Yeah, exactly, which describes a lot of things in Israel, in that region, but it can also have a positive connotation.” [TheAtlantic]

DESSERT: “At ‘Shallot’ kosher means excellence” by Lena Lagutina: “Famous Moscow restaurateur Michael (Misha) Amayev opened a new restaurant in the Ramat Ha-Chayal district of Tel Aviv, the very secular heart of Israel. He named it “Shallot”… There is a real hunt for kosher products of such a high quality. The trend of kosher cuisine is spreading around the world. “I myself recently stood in line in New York in Manhattan about half an hour to have a bite in a kosher diner. In addition to myself, standing in the queue were only two or three people wearing kippot, the rest were secular, white and African-American – there simply because the food was fresh, tasty, and cooked before the eyes of the customers,” said Amayev.” [JPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli peace activist and author, whose fiction and non-fiction books have been translated into more than 30 languages, David Grossmanturns 64… Dean of the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since July 2009, Naamah Kelman-Ezrachi turns 63… Helene Ross turns 61… Partner at NYC-based ICM Partners Broadcasting where he represents anchors, reporters, hosts, and producers in news, lifestyle, and sports broadcasting, Michael Glantz turns 59… Member of the Canadian Parliament from Montreal since 2015, he won 12 medals in swimming at the 2013 and 2017 Maccabiah Games, Anthony Housefatherturns 47… Toronto-born movie and television actress, writer and social activist, a regular on Showtime’s “The L Word” (2004-2009), she had a recurring guest role on the Fox TV series “24,” Mia Kirshner turns 43… AIPAC’s David Newman turns 41… Benjamin Newton turns 33… Ari Cicurel turns 25… Robert Newman

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