Daily Kickoff: RJC’s Vegas confab | Bibi attempts to hold off settlement annexation | Shabbat in NYC with President of Guatemala | David Simon BDay


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DRIVING THE WEEKEND — Republican donors and leaders are gathering this weekend for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) Annual Leadership Meeting. As in past years, the gathering will be held at Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian/Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas. The confab kicked off last night with a VIP dinner hosted by Adelson that featured remarks from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. [Pic]

Speakers at the RJC’s Shabbat dinner this evening include Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. On Saturday morning, RJC National Chairman and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, Governors Rick Scott (FL) and Eric Greitens (MO), Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton will deliver remarks. The morning session will also include a foreign policy panel with Reps. Mike Gallagher (WI), Joe Wilson (SC) and Lee Zeldin (NY). The afternoon VIP Luncheon will feature former (and briefly) White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Saturday night will include special presentations of the Defender of Freedom and Security Award to Micah Avni, Shakib Shanan, and Minister Gilad Erdan by Steven Mizel; a tribute to Stuart & Robbi Force, the parents of Taylor Force, and remarks by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“House Republican goes after J Street in an effort to lure Jewish donors” by Theodoric Meyer and Marianne LeVine: “A new joint fundraising committee started on Tuesday by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, called Stop J Street… takes aim at J Street… where Grothman’s likely Democratic opponent, Dan Kohl, worked as vice president of political affairs… The new committee was started ahead of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit in Las Vegas this weekend and is intended to appeal to conservative Jewish donors who loathe J Street. Wisconsin Republicans are heading to Las Vegas, “making the pitch directly to meeting attendees,” according to the state party.” [Politico]

2018 WATCH — “What happens in Vegas: Politics, policy, poker and Richard Corcoran” by Steve Bousquet: “Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran… headed to Las Vegas for the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition… It’s the latest red flag that Corcoran’s sights are on the Governor’s Mansion…Hanging out with Adelson in Vegas looks like Corcoran is brashly trampling on what should be [Rep. Ron] DeSantis’ turf, with the speaker’s pal, Rick Scott, possibly helping with introductions…”[TampaBay]

PROFILE: “Matt Gaetz, Ultimate Trump Defender, Is Happy Being Notorious” by Alexis Levinson: “Just two weeks ago at the State of the Union, [Rep. Matt] Gaetz set off a small flury of outrage by inviting as his guest Chuck Johnson, a right-wing provocateur who once stated on Reddit that he did not believe the Holocaust happened… “I think he’s a rising star, but I told him, I don’t want him to hitch his star on notoriety,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told BuzzFeed News, after expressing, several times over, her intense displeasure over his State of the Union guest.”

“Gaetz critics and defenders were careful to note that he, himself, is very pro-Israel. “A champion of Israel and the Jewish people,” his friend Joel Greenberg, the elected tax collector of Seminole County, who counts Gaetz as a friend and political mentor, offered, unbidden. “We may have to retroactively throw him a bat mitzvah,” he added. “A bar mitzvah. Both, he gets.”

“In Gaetz’s retelling, he’s placated concerns from colleagues about Johnson by pointing to statements from Alan Dershowitz… that Johnson is not an anti-Semite or Holocaust denier… “He’s a provoker, I should’ve vetted him better before inviting him to the State of the Union, I regret that I didn’t. That’s my fault. I take responsibility for it. But he is not a Holocaust denier.” [Buzzfeed]

KFILE: “North Dakota GOP Senate candidate blasted a ‘bunch of Arabs’ in 2014 Facebook post” by Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie: “A Republican candidate for US Senate in North Dakota shared a story on Facebook in 2014 about anti-Israel protesters clashing with riot police, adding the comment, “Bunch of Arabs… what do you expect?” The comment is just one of several inflammatory posts Gary Emineth, the former North Dakota Republican Party chairman, shared on social media.” [CNN]

“Democratic Rep. Danny Davis Calls Louis Farrakhan ‘An Outstanding Human Being’” by Yair Rosenberg: “I personally know [Farrakhan], I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him,” Democratic Rep. Danny Davis told The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson. “I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything, I regard him as an outstanding human being…” Republican elected officials from Donald Trump on down have rightly faced heavy criticism from Democrats over their ties to and defenses of bigoted hate groups and individuals. Whether Democrats will hold their own official, Rep. Davis, to the same standard remains to be seen.” [Tablet]

PALACE INTRIGUE — “With Rob Porter Gone, Trump Turns His Anger On Hicks and Kelly” by Gabriel Sherman: “Trump was also not aware of the severity of the alleged abuse until yesterday, when Ivanka walked into the Oval Office and showed her father a photo published in the Daily Mail of [Rob] Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye. “He was f***ing pissed,” said one Republican briefed on the conversation. According to a source, Ivanka and Jared Kushner have been discussing possible chief-of-staff replacements…”[VanityFair]

“Dozens at White House lack permanent security clearances” by Josh Dawsey, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett: “People familiar with the security-clearance process said one of those White House officials with an interim approval is Jared Kushner… In Kushner’s case, his extensive travel and overseas contacts are one reason the clearance process has dragged on, as investigators try to verify his reporting… assuming the process began when Kushner was in the transition, “it is longer than it should be,” the former official said. “That just tells me that somebody’s uncomfortable with the information that they have in his background.” [WashPost]

‘NO DAYLIGHT’ — “Netanyahu urges delay on settlement annexation bill until after Trump peace plan” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked members of his party in the Knesset not to press forward on a bill annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank until President Trump presents his Middle East peace plan… Netanyahu explained that after Trump presents his peace plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel will have a better chance to start discussing with the White House the possibility of annexing the settlements…” [Axios]

“Trump tells Israel peace means compromise” by Dan Williams: “In an interview with an Israeli newspaper… Trump described his Jerusalem move as a “high point” of his first year in office… “I wanted to make clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Regarding specific borders, I will grant my support to what the two sides agree between themselves,” he told the conservative Israel Hayom daily… “I think that both sides will have to make significant compromises in order for achieving a peace deal to be possible,” Trump added, without elaborating.” [Reuters]

“U.S. ambassador unleashes rare public criticism on Israeli paper” by Barak Ravid: “U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman went on an unusual and probably unprecedented attack today against the Haaretz newspaper a day after one of its senior columnists published an op-ed criticizing his support for the Jewish settlements…” [Axios]

“India’s balancing act as Modi heads to Ramallah” by Nikhil Kumar: “The optics during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in January could hardly have been better. But they also masked differences that will be highlighted by another visit this weekend, when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to the Palestinian territories. The way he’s getting there is itself telling. Instead of traveling there via Israel, Modi is flying to Amman in Jordan and then taking a helicopter to Ramallah. On Saturday, when he becomes the first Indian leader to visit Ramallah, he’ll do so while avoiding a stop in Israel, even though India would have had to work with the Israelis to facilitate the trip to Ramallah…  Why? It’s part of what Indian diplomats say is an effort to “de-hyphenate” its ties with the Israelis and the Palestinians.” [CNN

Trump thanks Guatemalan president for his support on Israel: “President Donald Trump on Thursday thanked the president of Guatemala for supporting the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the White House said. Trump and President Jimmy Morales met at the Washington Hilton hotel before they attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast… Guatemala is also one of nine nations that sided with the United States on a U.N. vote condemning the U.S. decision.” [AP

— “President of Guatemala at Chabad Jewish Latin Center Shabbat Dinner” by Mordechai Lightstone: “President James Morales of Guatemala will attend a special Shabbat meal on Friday night hosted by Chabad’s Jewish Latin Center in Manhattan… Morales said he was interested in experiencing a traditional Shabbat dinner… Some 200 people are expected to attend the dinner… [including] the Consul General of Israel, Dani Dayan.”[Chabad]

Dani Dayan tweets: “As the son of a former Ambassador of Israel to Guatemala and as Israel’s Consul General in New York I will be honored to participate and thank President Jimmy Morales.” [Twitter

ON THE HILL: A group of 102 Democratic lawmakers — led by Reps. Peter Welch (FL) and David Price (NC) — sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday urging him to continue U.S. funding for UNRWA and to the Palestinian Authority. “Continuing to freeze this aid will harm American interests by exacerbating the threats facing both peoples and reducing the United States’ ability to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach a two-state solution,” the letter reads.

Scott Anderson, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, tells NPR: “People, especially in the Department of Defense, understand the challenges that this could create. I have a lot of interaction with the Israeli army and they clearly understand what this means if UNRWA is not providing these services and it has them a bit nervous.” [NPR]

“Qatari envoy urges world to aid Gaza” by Josef Federman: “In an interview, Mohammed Al-Emadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction committee, said he hopes that his country’s support for the territory, highlighted by a $9 million pledge on Thursday, will encourage other nations to join the effort… “This is part of our effort, working very closely with Israel, very closely with everyone in Gaza, to prevent any more escalation and war. We want peace in the region, and to help the people.” … Over the years, Al-Emadi said he has developed a cordial relationship with his Israeli counterpart, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai. “You can say it’s good,” he said.” [AP]

GULF VISIT — “US Jewish leaders to visit United Arab Emirates” by Herb Keinon: “Members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations… will travel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai as part of their annual leadership mission before coming to Israel… [Malcolm] Hoenlein told The Jerusalem Post that the aim is to “foster better ties with the US, the American Jewish community and Israel.” Although this is not the first time his organization will bring a delegation to the UAE, he said it will be the largest.”[JPost

TOP-OP: “Trump Is All Talk on Iran” by Dennis Ross: “The president has wooed Saudi Arabia and Israel with promises to roll back Iranian influence—but he has so far failed to match those words with action… To date, Trump’s support for the Israelis and Saudis is primarily symbolic. To be sure, for both, symbolism matters. Both see symbolic support as sending a signal to their adversaries that the United States will be there for them—and clearly Israelis prefer Trump’s symbolic embrace to Obama’s public criticism. While symbolism clearly counts for something, it needs to be backed by substance lest it lose its meaning.” [WashInstitute

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Bibi Takes Another Trick From Trump’s Playbook” by Marc Schulman: “The prime minister, taking a page from Trump’s playbook, went public with a Facebook post (Netanyahu is a more active user of Facebook than Twitter) attacking the Police Commissioner… Netanyahu’s situation is similar to that of Trump, in that the end of the case against him is far from over. Once the police recommendations are made, the baton is passed to the Attorney General… It should be noted that there is no time limit for reaching that decision, which is widely expected to take up to a year.”

“In one final irony, it should be noted that less than two years ago, Netanyahu whimsically proposed that Israel bring back the tradition of conducting an annual military parade, a practice which Israel gave up soon after the Six Day War… Netanyahu received little, or no support for his idea, which he had hoped to implement for this year’s 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. As a result, he was forced to drop it. So far, Trump’s parade remains in the cards.” [Newsweek] • Netanyahu Lashes Out as Israeli Police Wrap Up Graft Inquiries [NYTimes]

** Good Friday 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: Lyft offered to buy Lior Ron’s startup at center of Waymo-Uber dispute [Axios] • Israel, A Land Flowing With AI and Autonomous Cars [BostonTech• Apollo Billionaire Josh Harris Sells $153 Million in Shares [Bloomberg• Aby Rosen’s Midtown tower now has ‘skyscraper lofts’ for art collectors [Curbed] • The Daily Telegraph’s Editor Personally Assured Staff The Newspaper’s Front Page Was Not Anti-Semitic [BuzzFeed]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli Start-Up Strives to Make Broadway Theaters More Accessible to Patrons with Disabilities” by Gabriela Geselowitz: “GalaPro, only operating since 2015, is short for “Gala Prompter,” because its major service is subtitles for live Broadway shows… The process is simple: Users download the GalaPro app on their phone, and enter the theater, which has a wifi network solely dedicated to the app… Then, you can select the show you’re seeing, and the services you select will begin playing automatically on your phone when the curtain goes up.” [Tablet]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “On Tour With Notorious R.B.G., Judicial Rock Star” by Adam Liptak: “They say that Bob Dylan, 76, is on a never-ending tour. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is eight years older and has a day job, seems to have acquired Mr. Dylan’s taste for the road. In the space of three weeks, she is set to make at least nine public appearances… She seems to enjoy the attention. “I am soon to be 85,” she said on Tuesday at New York Law School, “and everyone wants to take their picture with me.” …” [NYTimes]

“From holograms to Justin Bieber, Anne Frank’s stepsister is using any means to keep the Holocaust’s lessons alive” by Michelle Boorstein: “I talk about it and tell people, this is what Germany was. Not everybody was — by no means — anti-Semitic or supported Hitler. They had good Jewish friends, but they took the easy way out and looked the other way. It is the danger of the bystander,” Schloss said in an interview Wednesday before an evening appearance at the Center for the Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “This is what we have to teach young people — not to be indifferent, but take part; if you see injustice being done, speak out.” … [WashPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “Lawmakers are trying to cancel Lorde’s upcoming Florida shows because of her stance on Israel” by Colin Wolf: “Republican state Rep. Randy Fine is trying to get Miami and Tampa to cancel Lorde’s upcoming shows, citing a state statute that prohibits businesses from conducting business over $1 million with any organization engaged in a boycott of Israel. “Florida has no tolerance for anti-Semitism and boycotts intended to destroy the State of Israel,” said Fine…”The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and anti-Semitism, and I look forward to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority complying with the law and canceling these concerts.”” [OrlandoWeekly]

WINTER OLYMPICS — “Israel’s Largest-Ever Winter Olympics Squad Heads to Korea” by Abigail Klein Leichman: “Ten Israelis athletes will represent Israel in four sports at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics… This is Israel’s largest-ever Winter Olympics delegation since its first participation in the games in 1994… Only three of the 2018 Olympics teammates… are Israeli by birth… [A.J] Edelman, [Paige] Conners and [Aimee] Buchanan were born in the United States.” [JewishLink]

“Of Course The Israeli Skater Performed To “Hava Nagila”” by Dvora Meyers: “Alexei Bychenko, a figure skater representing Israel… did very well, putting out one of the few clean programs of the men’s competition. After the ten men skated, he found himself in second place behind Shoma Uno of Japan… And Bychenko, who used to skate for Ukraine but was able to obtain Israeli citizenship due to Jewish roots on his mother’s side, pulled off this feat skating to the most cliched Jewish song of all time—Hava Nagila.” [Deadspin]

COMING SOON — “The bagel emoji is heading to your phone” by Amy Spiro: “The latest slate of more than 150 new emoji released by the Unicode Consortium on Wednesday include a bagel, one of the most iconic Jewish foods. The bread will appear in its sliced format, in an effort to differentiate it from a doughnut. As phone operation systems and apps update, the emoji should appear on smartphones around the world later in the year. “[JPost]

DESSERT: “For Some Elderly Jews in California, Wendy’s is the Place to Be on Shabbat” by Jesse Bernstein: “For most of the last decade, a group of God’s chosen Golden Oldies have gathered to celebrate the day of His rest at a Wendy’s in Palm Desert, California. The number of regular attendees is somewhere between 18 and 28, according to Rachel Myers, director of a new short documentary about the group, the appropriately titled Wendy’s Shabbat… Myers, a director and production designer based in Los Angeles, first heard of the weekly ritual from her grandmother a few years back. “I just thought it was the most hilarious thing,” she said… Years later, she mentioned her grandmother’s fryer oil-soaked Shabbos to a friend, Juliana Schatz, who encouraged her to pursue the idea as a film.” [Tablet• Watch the documentary [Vimeoh/t Dan Smith

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYGrammy Award winning songwriter, Barry Mann (born Barry Imberman) turns 79… Singer-songwriter, Carole King (born Carol Klein) turns 76… Economist and a professor at Columbia University, Nobel laureate in Economics in 2001, former SVP and chief economist of the World Bank (1997-2000), Joseph Stiglitz, turns 75… Two-time Tony Award and two-time Emmy Award winning actress, Judith Light turns 69… Professor of history and modern Jewish studies at UCSD since 2004, Deborah Hertz turns 69… Israeli singer, Shimi Tavori (born Shimshon Tawili) turns 65… Australian philanthropist and owner of a series of mineral and energy companies, Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart turns 64… Former Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a/k/a “the macker,” turns 61… Creator of the HBO series The Wire and NBC’s series Homicide, David Simon turns 58… Theoretical physics professor at Columbia University, Brian Greene turns 55… Play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and ESPN’s men’s college basketball, Dan Shulman turns 51… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the LA Times, now an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA, Abigail Helaine (“Abbe”) Goldman turns 48… Managing Director of Tiedemann Wealth Management, Jeffrey L. Zlotturns 47… Television and film actress, Margarita Levieva turns 38… Deputy Director of Congressional Relations at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Boris Zilberman turns 34… Principal at DC-based Blue Zone Partners, he served as Carly Fiorina’s national political director during the 2016 presidential primary, Thomas Szold turns 33 (h/t Shawn McCoy and cousin Daniel Lippman)… Senior account executive at Ruder Finn, Carly Abensteinturns 24… Israeli-Arab teenager who, in 2014, was forced to go into hiding after he publicly expressed support for Zionism and the State of Israel, Muhammad Zoabi turns 21… Isaac Lieberman… Rafael Regla

SATURDAYChairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company since 2005, Robert Allen “Bob” Iger turns 67… Founding figure of Postminimalism’s conceptual art, long-time resident of Manhattan’s West Village, Lawrence Weiner turns 76… Rabbi in Vienna, Austria (1983-1989), in Munich (1989-1997) and Berlin (1997-2015), Yitshak Ehrenberg turns 68… Swimmer, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Mark Spitzturns 68… Philanthropist Jayne Abess turns 63… Host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” James J. “Jim” Cramer turns 63… Ethiopian-born, member of Knesset for the Likud party since 2015, he is an activist for the Falash Mura community, Avraham Neguise turns 60… Journalist and syndicated newspaper columnist whose work has been published on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe since 1994, Jeff Jacoby turns 59… Former NASA astronaut, famous for his mezuzah in the International Space Station, awarded a Ph.D. from Cal Tech in 1997, Garrett Reisman turns 50… Columbus-based executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, previously Ohio director of state affairs for the Orthodox Union, Howie Beigelman turns 44… Israeli pop star, Ivri Lider turns 44… Managing partner at Roberti Global, previously an aide for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). also a senior principal at the Podesta Group, Israel “Izzy” Klein turns 41… Candidate for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election as the running mate of Evan McMullin, entrepreneur and digital media strategist,Mindy Finn turns 37… Executive Producer of the “Architects of Change” series and “Shriver Report Snapshots” at Maria Shriver’s Shriver Media, Michelle Levi Noe… Founder and principal of The Tool Shed Group, Jason Katz… Avital Mannis

SUNDAYJournalist and author of a Passover Haggadah co-written with his wife Cokie Roberts, Steven V. Roberts turns 75… NYC-based physician, he is the president of American Friends of Likud, Julio Messer, M.D. turns 66… Second son of former President George H. W. Bush, he was the Governor of Florida (1999-2007) and a leading early candidate for US President in 2016,John Ellis “Jeb” Bush turns 65… ProPublica’s editor-in-chief, previously at the New York Times, Stephen Engelberg turns 60… National medical director of Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, former EVP and chief medical officer for Erickson Retirement Communities (1989-2005), Gary E. Applebaum, MD turns 59… Executive producer for Atlantic Live Rob Hendin turns 41… VP and deputy head of communications at News Corp, Ilana Ozernoy turns 40… Tight end on the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for four seasons (2003-2006), having played college football at UCLA, Mike Seidmanturns 37… Chief of Staff for Congressman Bob Dold (R-IL-10) through 2017, David B. Stern turns 34… Politico’s Michelle Zar turns 29… Eric Wasserman Stern turns 25… Scott Wasserman Stern turns 25… Shirley Munch… Evan Siegfried… Avid reader Chaya Yehudis Neuberger… Avid snowboarder Israel Neuberger

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