Daily Kickoff: The last WASP POTUS | George H.W. Bush’s UN legacy | Interview with Rep. Chris Smith | Rudy — “They don’t have bupkis”


HAPPENING NOW — The nation is bidding farewell to former President George H.W. Bush, who is being honored with a state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will be in attendance along with former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Foreign dignitaries expected to attend include King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Prince Charles of Wales. Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is representing the Israeli government. After the service, Bush’s casket will be transported to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, where a second funeral service will be held on Thursday. The former president will be buried at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. [CSPAN]

Gil Troy writes… “Bush Fought For Israel At The UN: Many assessments analyzing George H.W. Bush’s relationship with Jews underplayed perhaps his greatest contributions to Jewish history: working with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and the Jewish community to repeal the United Nation’s Zionism-is-Racism resolution… George H.W. Bush earned his place in world history and in Jewish history by helping preserve the UN’s credibility and lifting this slur. Tragically, the UN-validated lie lingers. On the day Bush died, the General Assembly approved six anti-Israel resolutions, including two that reject Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.” [JewishWeek]

The Last WASP President — by Franklin Foer: “All the florid remembrances are packed with fondness for a bygone institution known as the Establishment, hardened in the cold of New England boarding schools, acculturated by the late-night rituals of Skull and Bones, sent off to the world with a sense of noblesse oblige. For more than a century, this Establishment resided at the top of the American caste system. Now it is gone, and apparently people wish it weren’t.”

“When George H. W. Bush passed, so did the last true WASP. In appearance, he embodied what The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley once called “The Presidency by Ralph Lauren.” The evocation of the legendary fashion designer was a sly bit of sociology—the old American aristocracy was already in decline, since its aesthetic had been commodified (by none other than Ralph Lifshitz) and made accessible to all in the democracy of the shopping mall.”[TheAtlantic]

Why We Miss the WASPs — by Ross Douthat“The combination of pious obligation joined to cosmopolitanism gave the old establishment a distinctive competence and effectiveness in statesmanship — one that from the late-19th century through the middle of the 1960s was arguably unmatched among the various imperial elites with whom our establishment contended, and that certainly hasn’t been matched by our feckless leaders in the years since George H.W. Bush went down to political defeat.” [NYTimes]

JI INTERVIEW — Rep. Chris Smith, who will be the only Republican representing New Jersey in the next Congress, discussed his new position and his push to appoint and enhance the role of the Envoy on anti-Semitism in an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh:

On the midterm elections outcome: “I’ve weathered blue waves before,” Smith said. “I think it was a one-election cycle of blue. The good news is that, whether it be the bipartisanship on aid to Israel and expressing our solidarity with the Jewish state, I think that remains strong, even with the latest election. There are a few more voices that take a contrary view now that they’ve been elected, but the majority still is a very heavily pro-Israeli.”

His legislative agenda in Congress: Smith said he will introduce a new bill that enhances the Taylor Force Act beyond its goal of stopping aid to the Palestinian Authority until they cease payments to families of terrorists. “My bill will say to the Palestinian Authority, ‘Anyone who provides blood money to a terrorist or their families will be held criminally or civilly liable.’ When doing our bill, we found that there’s no way we could just do it for Israeli citizens themselves. We don’t have that kind of reach, but where there’s a dual citizenship if you’re American and Israeli, we can hold the Palestinians accountable by criminalizing and providing civil remedies for their actions.”

Coming up: The most important item on the agenda, Smith says, is getting the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act passed in the Senate and signed by the president as soon as possible. In September, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill, sponsored by Smith and co-sponsored by 86 other lawmakers, by a vote of 392-2. The legislation would upgrade the status of the envoy on anti-Semitism to an ambassadorship requiring Senate confirmation. Smith expressed hope that the Senate will put the bill up by unanimous consent within the next week and that it will be signed by President Trump. “We’re waiting for the Senate, and we’ve asked them to do it. I introduced it in 2017, so it’s not like it was a last minute thought,” he stated. “It did pass the House, overwhelmingly. Only two people voted no. That’s it. So it’s awaiting Senate action and it can be done by unanimous consent extremely easily.”

ON THE HILL — Congress is debating whether to rush through the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to the must-pass omnibus spending bill. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is opposed to the bill, sent a letter this week urging Senators to oppose its inclusion in an omnibus spending bill.

In an interview with Jewish Insider last month, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) — who is pushing for the inclusion — said the anti-BDS bill is the “right thing to do,” expressing hope that it passes by year’s end. “This bill clearly protects American companies from being intimidated to boycott Israel. So it’s a bill that should pass without much controversy,” he said.

 “Cardin’s bill now has come within an inch of clearing the Senate’s 60-vote hurdle as a standalone measure on the Senate floor. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., co-sponsored the bill last week, bringing the total number of public supporters to 59.” [Al-Monitor]

Saudi crown prince ‘ordered, monitored’ killing of Khashoggi, Corker says — by Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Elizabeth Landers: “GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are leading the charge to offer new legislation that would rebuke Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as potentially limit US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen… Graham said, “You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intrinsically involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi.” Corker added that the prince “ordered, monitored, the killing” of the father of four.” [CNN]

With a Calculated Leak, the War Between Trump and the Intelligence Community Escalates — by Abigail Tracy: “I don’t think there’s a real expectation that the administration would do that or that Trump would sign something like that—but there’s absolutely real momentum and support to send a message to the administration that the status quo is no longer acceptable,” a Senate aide told me. “It means everything Saudi Arabia does now is under a microscope and has greater implications for the administration, and it makes Trump own it rather than saying, ‘Ah, both parties in Congress let this happen, too.’ It’s on the margins, but it’s real.” [VanityFair]

TOP TALKER — Mueller seeks no prison time for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing his ‘substantial assistance’ — by Carol D. Leonnig: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn serve no prison time… The generous terms offered by the special counsel indicate that Flynn’s cooperation is viewed as highly useful to Mueller’s investigation… In his plea agreement, Flynn said he contacted the Russian ambassador on Dec. 22, 2016, about the incoming administration’s opposition to a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal and requested that Russia vote against or delay it. Kislyak called back a day later to say that Russia would not vote against the resolution, court records show.” [WashPost]

“If he had information to share with Mueller that hurt the president, you would know it by now… There’s a Yiddish word that fits,” [Rudy] Giuliani said, in a brief phone interview. “They don’t have bupkis.” [NBCNews]

TURTLE BAY — White House Asks Arab Countries to Support UN Resolution Against Hamas — by Amir Tibon: “Trump’s special representative to the Middle East peace process, Jason Greenblatt, sent a letter on the subject to diplomats from Morocco, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar. In the letter, Greenblatt urged them not to join the PA’s efforts against the resolution [on Thursday]… Greenblatt noted in his letter that the resolution denounces Hamas for its terrorist acts, but at the same time, calls to support the efforts for Palestinian political unity.” [Haaretz]

Nikki Haley sells SC home, plans to stay in New York, reportedly writing book — by Andy Shain: “Former Gov. Nikki Haley is not coming straight back to the Palmetto State after she leaves the United Nations at year’s end. She plans on staying in New York where her son attends high school… The Post and Courier has learned a second book is the works.” [PostAndCourier]

TALK OF THE REGION — Saudi Arabia loses right to host international chess tournament after banning Israeli players — by Rick Gladstone: “Saudi Arabia has been stripped of the right to host an international chess tournament after Israeli players threatened legal action over being barred from the event. With just weeks to go before the start of the World Blitz and Rapid Championship in the country’s Riyadh, organizers confirmed that they were switching the venue to Russia instead.”[Independent]

As the Gulf Warms Up to Israel, a Synagogue Grows in Dubai — by Jonathan Ferziger and Alisa Odenheimer: “After meeting for years in one another’s homes, Dubai’s Jews—expatriates in fields such as finance, law, energy, and diamonds—three years ago rented a villa in a quiet residential neighborhood for services… The synagogue’s emergence from the shadows reflects warming relations between Israel and governments in the region… Members of the synagogue have long asked visitors not to reveal its location or write about its activities, and some are still opposed to speaking openly about it.”

“For decades, anything Jewish was avoided in the Arab world, and explicit signs of Jewishness were risky,” says Ghanem Nuseibeh, a co-founder of political risk consultants Cornerstone Global Associates Ltd., who occasionally visits the synagogue. “A new generation of Arabs and Jews are more culturally accepting of each other.” [Bloomberg]

2020 WATCH — Deval Patrick to announce he won’t run for president, sources say — by Natasha Korecki, Kyle Cheney and Stephanie Murray: “Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is calling close allies and informing them he is not running for president in 2020… with an announcement to come as soon as this week.” [Politico]

Beto O’Rourke, who’s pondering a 2020 presidential bid, met with Barack Obama — by Matt Viser: “The meeting, which was held Nov. 16 at the former president’s offices in Foggy Bottom, came as former Obama aides have encouraged the Democratic House member to run, seeing him as capable of the same kind of inspirational campaign that caught fire in the 2008 presidential election. The meeting was the first sign of Obama getting personally involved in conversations with O’Rourke.” [WashPost]

The Democrats’ wild 2020 free-for-all — by Mike Allen: “David Axelrod, mastermind of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, told me: “One of the revelations from this past election cycle was that the candidates who won, by and large, came not through command-and-control decisions from Washington but competitive primaries across the country. The Democratic Party shouldn’t fear the competition. The last three winning Democratic candidates came through open, competitive primaries.” [Axios]

Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, other Democrats protest at Harvard — by Nestor Ramos: “If you’re going to be an outsider, sometimes you have to spend some time outside. And so, as an orientation program for new members of Congress was getting started inside Harvard’s Kennedy School on Tuesday night, Lori Trahan was shivering in the freezing cold. Ayanna Pressley stuffed her hands into her pockets. Someone offered Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a hat.”

“We need to shake this nation awake,” said Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat. The outsiders standing outside at Pressley’s behest — Ocasio-Cortez and Trahan, along with Andy Levin and Rashida Tlaib, both of Michigan — were elected to shake their own party awake, too.” [BostonGlobe]

** 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: A Generation of Digital-Media Darlings Prepares for a Frigid Winter [VanityFair] • Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg Says He Wants His Replacement To ‘Look Like Me’ [Bloomberg] • TPG’s David Bonderman becomes latest PE veteran to land NHL team [PitchBook] • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish Tamps Down Speculation That CBS Deal Is in the Works[Bloomberg] • Billionaire Joe Lubin’s Ethereum Experiment Is A Mess. How Long Will He Prop It Up? [Forbes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Les Moonves Obstructed Investigation Into Misconduct Claims, Report Says — by Rachel Abrams and Edmund Lee: “Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, destroyed evidence and misled investigators in an attempt to preserve his reputation and save a lucrative severance deal, according to a draft of a report prepared for the company’s board. The report, by lawyers hired by the network, says the company has justification to deny Mr. Moonves his $120 million severance.”[NYTimes]

STARTUP NATION — Israeli chickpea protein co InnovoPro raises $4.25m  by Gali Weinreb: “Israeli chickpea protein company InnovoPro has raised $4.25 million in a financing round led by Swiss retail food company Migros and Erel Margalit, founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP). Other investors include Chinese food technology venture capital fund Bits x Bites, and Ran Tuttnauer, former owner of the Tuttnauer Group, Singapore’s ID Capital and Spain’s Yara Ventures… The company plans to launch its product in 2019.” [Globes]

MUSIC NOTE — Israeli Pianist Wins Thelonious Monk Contest — by Giovanni Russonello: “[Tom] Oren’s first-place finish — part of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz’s gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington — includes a $25,000 prize and a recording contract with the Concord Music Group… Mr. Oren, a native of Tel Aviv, is very much a product of jazz’s educational establishment… He came to the United States in 2012 to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston on a four-year scholarship.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Young American Jews walked off their Birthright tour of Israel. The protest sparked a debate at home — by Sarah Parvini: “Los Angeles Rabbi Sharon Brous said the protest reflects a shift in American Jewish society, in which more people are speaking out against policies they see as unjust… In an email, Birthright said the protesters “chose to leave their trips early as a means to generate publicity for their cause,” adding that the group welcomes diverse views and questions as long as they are constructive and shared respectfully… Rabbi David Wolpe is among those in the local religious community who found the protest inappropriate. “I understand people want different kinds of experiences when they go to Israel,” said Wolpe, rabbi at Sinai Temple in Westwood. “But I think when you sign up with a trip, you have an implicit and maybe explicit commitment to the experience of that trip… I didn’t see it as a right or left issue, I saw it as a good-faith issue.” [LATimes]

Torah! Torah! Torah! A District rabbi is writing the entire holy book by hand — by John Kelly: “Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld mutters and leans back from the writing desk he’s installed in his office at Ohev Sholom synagogue on 16th Street NW in Washington. On every day but the Sabbath, he works for at least an hour on writing the Torah… Ohev Sholom doesn’t need a new Torah scroll. It already has a half-dozen, each handwritten by a professional… But Herzfeld likes a challenge. “I never in my life did anything artistic,” he says. “I never thought that I would enjoy it. I wanted to do it because it’s a commandment… When you write 304,805 letters, you have time to think about each letter. I mean, these were the most powerful words in history.”[WashPost]

Celebrating the Menorahs That Hold the Hanukkah Lights — by Florence Fabricant: “There are countless menorahs… Starting Dec. 6, the museum in the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue will give you some idea of the variety. Scores of menorahs from the private collection of Aharon Ben Zalman — from countries across the globe and including some from colonial America, 16th-century Italy and modern India — will be on view for several months.”[NYTimes]

DESSERT — The Israeli-Iraqi Breakfast Sandwich You Need In Your Life — by Karen Chernick: “Overseas, despite the fact that Israeli food is having a bit of a moment, sabich is an off-menu secret. When asked why he doesn’t serve sabich at any of his many Israeli food eateries, chef Michael Solomonov said sabich is just a little bit less marketable… “They’re like, I don’t understand. Until you eat it, and then you’re like—oh my god, this is the most incredible thing ever.” [ExtraCrispy]

Even Better Than the Original Ashure — by Samin Nosrat: “Sarit Packer is constantly looking over her shoulder, squinting at the past, because more than anything else, her cooking is inspired by what has come before. She and her husband, Itamar Srulovich, steep their employees in the traditions and history that inform the menu at Honey & Co., their warm, tiny, Middle Eastern restaurant in central London. Every few years, they take their cooks on research trips throughout the region.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: United States Ambassador to France and Monaco, Jamie Luskin McCourt turns 65… CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee since January 2017, he was a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1994-1995) and Dean of Columbia Law School (2004-2014), David M. Schizer turns 50… Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist, Sheldon Lee Glashow turns 86… Former Israeli President (2000-2007), Moshe Katsav turns 73… Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in both the law school and school of journalism, Stuart Neil Brotman turns 66… Speakers bureau chair at Hadassah’s Southern California chapter, Esther Gluskin Winard turns 65… Venture capitalist, speaker and investment advisor, Pascal Norman Levensohn turns 58… Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, he is the son of retired Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner and is one of the most often cited legal scholars in the US, Eric Posnerturns 53…

Co-founder of Beehive Media Strategies, Richard Skeen… Ontario-born supermodel and actress, Shalom Harlow turns 45… Urologist at Westchester (NY) Medical Group, Judd Boczko, M.D. turns 45… President of The LS Group and political fundraiser for many senators and congressmen, Lisa Spiesturns 44… Co-founder and president of Axios, following 7 years as the Chief Revenue Officer of Politico, Roy Schwartz turns 43… Israeli born, acclaimed video game developer, Neil Druckmann turns 40… VP at Revere, a Daniel J. Edelman agency focused on technology, Adam S. Rosenberg turns 38… Betti Greenstein… Chief of Staff at the US Department of the Treasury, Eli H. Miller turns 36… Alexander Traub turns 28… Intergovernmental, community affairs and Jewish liaison for the office of Public Advocate for the City of New York, Jonathan Shabshaikhes


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