Daily Kickoff: Experts predict which Arab or Muslim country Bibi visits next | Order! — Britain’s Jewish lawmaker celebrity | Sam Feist turns 5-0
HAPPY 80TH LYNN! — Born in Kansas City, raised in Oklahoma City, based in Tulsa and Jerusalem, philanthropist and co-founder of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Lynn Schusterman turns 80 today.
We asked Lynn if she wanted to share anything with her fellow JIreaders, to which she replied: “As I reflect on 80 wonderful years, I am most thankful for the love and support of family, friends and colleagues, and for being able to help make this world a better place for so many people. I look forward to seeing our family’s foundation grow and thrive under my daughter Stacy’s leadership. I am also excited to see how the next generation of young people will bring their passion and talent to bear on a world in need of healing. As I always say, while I may help make it possible, they are the ones who make it happen!”
25 YEARS AGO TODAY — Robert Kraft’s plan to purchase the Patriots was a complicated, multistage pursuit that spanned nearly a decade. The following is The Athletic’s oral history of that chain of events, which culminated Jan. 21, 1994, when Kraft took over the team:
Kraft: “The right number to buy it was $115 million, and I told my wife I might go to 120, 122… It was sort of back to Newfoundland. In life, you don’t get second chances sometimes. When you believe in something — and I believed in the value of the franchise and thought it was under-managed — I agreed to pay the price, which was not my normal way of doing things. We wound up paying the highest price for any sports franchise for anywhere in the world. And it happened to be the worst team in the NFL. My wife really thought I had gone insane.” [TheAthletic]
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Bob Kraft following the New England Patriots win over Kansas City (37-31) for the AFC championship, advancing to the Super Bowl: “Being here, this was our family’s 25th anniversary and the nicest man to us was Lamar Hunt when we came into the league. So, I know everyone here wanted to win, but for us to have this trophy in his house… he was an elegant man and we thank him for doing what he did for the league, it’s great to be here.” [NESN]
TALK OF THE REGION — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Chad, a Muslim-majority country, yesterday for rapprochement with Chad’s President Idriss Deby. In addition to renewing diplomatic ties, the two leaders signed several agreements. “Chad will do everything it can to strengthen the ties between the two countries and the bilateral cooperation in various matters,” Deby said at a press conference with the Israeli leader.
Netanyahu indicated on the trip that additional Muslim countries in Africa would soon warm up to Israel. “There will be more major news. There will be more countries,” he said, without elaborating.
HOW IT PLAYED — Israel Re-establishes Ties With Chad in Bid to Project Country’s Clout — by Felicia Schwartz: “Yet another Arabic speaking country, even if it’s not a member of the Arab League, represents an important push forward for the state of Israel,” said Dore Gold, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” [WSJ]
DRIVING THE CONVO — JI asked Middle East experts to weigh in on which Arab or Muslim country Netanyahu will visit next.
Washington Institute’s David Makovsky: “The general conventional wisdom is that Bahrain is next in line. The Bahraini Foreign Minister has had a few public statements now, he didn’t criticize Australia’s move, and he’s also in the past said that Israel has legitimate security concerns, so I think, most people think that Bahrain is next.”
Elliott Abrams: “What are the options? The Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, not going to happen. So I think Bahrain is the one that looks possible. The image they have traditionally tried to convey is one of being a moderate and progressive country. That image has been greatly damaged in the last decade by internal repression, ever since the Arab Spring, so they might see this as a way of burnishing their image again. Any security cooperation they need can be obtained in the private sector (especially for cyber) or secretly, but they might get more after a visit. There are rumors about an Emirati visit to Israel, perhaps by the foreign minister, and though I’d love to see it right now it would surprise me.”
Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro explains the rationale behind a possible Bahraini move: “No country has gone as far as Bahrain in its rhetorical challenge to old taboos about recognizing Israel’s legitimacy. Bahrain is closely aligned with — and fully protected by — Saudi Arabia, and often its bolder strokes have the appearance of testing the waters for steps that Riyadh is considering, but not yet willing to take. If and when Bahrain does decide to host Netanyahu, it should be understood as more than a bilateral development. In all likelihood, it will also be intended to prepare the ground for an eventual Saudi-Israeli engagement.”
According to Aaron David Miller, the next move would depend on Saudi Arabia and the outcome of the April 9th elections in Israel: “The question that needs to be watched is to what degree will the Trump administration get involved in helping re-elect Benjamin Netanyahu. And to what degree would MBS, in the service of both American and Saudi objectives and diminishing his own pariah status, use a meeting with Bibi to shore up his flank in Washington and help Netanyahu get reelected. Clearly, traveling to Chad and Oman strengthens Netanyahu in the run-up to an election. He demonstrates that he’s not just capable of managing relationships with the world, but he’s reducing Israel’s isolation, particularly in the region. The question is what is it designed to achieve? You would have presumably two purposes. If it was done before the elections, it’s designed to help strengthen Bibi’s reelection. If it’s done after the elections, it will be done in the context of some rollout of the administration’s peace plan.” [JewishInsider]
EXCHANGE — Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator and a member of the PLO Executive Committee, engaged in a Twitter feud over the anticipated Trump peace plan on Sunday. “The US administration has zero credibility,” Ashrawi claimed about the ‘leaked’ peace plan documents reported last week. To which Greenblatt replied, “You may dislike our policies and decisions, but to say we have “zero credibility” is simply not factual. POTUS has kept his commitments, such as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving our Embassy to Jerusalem… Let’s not ignore the huge disservice being done to the Palestinians by refusing to engage… The ball is in your court. Time to be credible leaders.”
Ashrawi: “‘Zero credibility’ is my polite way of saying that you have unilaterally destroyed the chances of peace by taking illegal unilateral measures to prejudice/predetermine the outcome of the basic requirements of peace.”
Greenblatt: “If the two sides were making any progress towards peace, I could understand why you might say that. But when we started, they were as far apart as ever.”
Palestinians renounce all bilateral US funds, including for security — by Khaled Abu Toameh and Tovah Lazaroff: “The Palestinian Authority has formally renounced all financial assistance from the United States, in order to avoid liability for US court decisions demanding millions in payment for terrorist attacks. PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah informed the Trump Administration of the decision in a letter he sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.” [JPost]
Israel opens new airport to boost Eilat tourism, provide wartime back-up — by Steven Scheer: “Israel opened a new international airport outside its Red Sea resort of Eilat on Monday, hoping to boost winter tourism from Europeans and provide an alternative for times of conflict to its main gateway in Tel Aviv… Jordan and Egypt, Red Sea neighbors which both have peace treaties with Israel, may also benefit from transit tourists landing there, Israeli officials say.” [Reuters]
ON THE GROUND — Israel Hits Iranian Targets in Syria After Attack on Golan Heights — by Dov Lieber: “Israel struck Iranian targets in Syria in response to what it said was an Iranian rocket fired at the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, an exchange that raises the risk of a wider regional war as U.S. troops prepare to leave Syria… Israel’s military generally avoids commenting on its frequent individual strikes in Syria so as to maintain ambiguity and avoid retaliation. But an apparent change of tack in recent weeks has seen Israel going public following strikes, which could prompt the Iranians to respond.” [WSJ]
— Netanyahu earlier on Sunday: “We have a permanent policy, to strike at the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and hurt whoever tries to hurt us.”
In Turkey, Lindsey Graham Calls for Slower, Smarter U.S. Withdrawal From Syria — by Carlotta Gall: “After lengthy meetings with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Senator Lindsey Graham called on Saturday for a slower, smarter withdrawal of American troops from Syria… Mr. Graham met with Mr. Erdogan for over two hours, and described it as a “direct and productive meeting” on Friday. Then, on an impromptu invitation from the Turkish president, the senator joined him at a concert by the Turkish pianist Fazil Say, which he described as one of the best evenings of his life.” [NYTimes]
TOP TALKER — On day of Women’s March, Sarsour rejects Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism and defends BDS — by Marcy Oster: “Linda Sarsour defended the legality of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel during her speech on stage in Washington D.C. at the third Women’s March… “We will protect our constitutional right to boycott, divest and sanctions in this country,” Sarsour said… Prior to attending the march, Sarsour on Saturday morning told CNN’s New Day Weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul that the Women’s March rejects anti-Semitic and homophobic statements by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.”[JTA; Video] • The 2019 Women’s March battled controversy. These women turned out anyway [Vox]
Watch: Embattled Women’s March Inc. co-leader Tamika Mallory refused to say if Israel has a right to exist in an interview on PBS’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover. [Video]
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who spoke at the Women’s March in New York City, focused her response on concerns about the leadership’s anti-Semitism at the Trump administration. “I think that concerns of anti-Semitism with the current administration in the White House are absolutely valid and we need to make sure that we are protecting the Jewish community and all those that feel vulnerable in this moment,” she told CNN.
Bari Weiss writes… “Ilhan Omar and the Myth of Jewish Hypnosis: Those who call themselves anti-Zionists usually insist they are not anti-Semites. But I struggle to see what else to call an ideology that seeks to eradicate only one state in the world — the one that happens to be the Jewish one — while empathetically insisting on the rights of self-determination for every other minority… Ms. Omar now sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she’ll represent a growing intellectual climate that sees Jews as bearers both of monstrous moral guilt and of the secret power to conceal it. It may be more difficult to call out those who ought to be our friends and political allies, but alas for the Jews, not all anti-Semites carry tiki torches.” [NYTimes]
ON THE TRAIL — Rep. Steve King challenger raises $100,000 in 10 days — by Emily Kopp: “As Rep. Steve King has faced calls for his censure and resignation by congressional colleagues this week, his primary challenger has been raking in donations. Conservative state Sen. Randy Feenstra has raised $100,000 in the 10 days since he formed his congressional campaign committee.” [RollCall]
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — In Business and Governing, Trump Seeks Victory in Chaos — by Russ Buettner and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump has increasingly leaned on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for guidance on dealing with Congress amid the current stalemate. Mr. Kushner, who like Mr. Trump is the son of a wealthy real estate developer, has not always impressed old hands on Capitol Hill. He began some early conversations by saying that Democrats would need to yield because his father-in-law would not budge, a statement that lawmakers found naïve.” [NYTimes]
2020 WATCH — Advisers to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz are looking at him running as an independent for president in 2020 — by Michael Scherer: “Advisers to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz have been exploring the possibility of launching an independent bid for the White House in 2020… “Anyone thinking of running for president as an independent would have to think really hard about splitting the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote and just playing the spoiler role and reelecting Trump,” said Howard Wolfson.” [WashPost] • Democrats decry Schultz’s idea to run as an independent in 2020 [AP]
— Meg Whitman tells the FT over lunch she’d vote for Schultz if he were to run for president in 2020. [FinancialTimes]
David Brooks tweets: “I’m not sure any of the Dem presidential hopefuls are well positioned to take on the Republican nominee, Larry Hogan.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her presidential candidacy, bypassing the formal exploratory stage, in a video published Monday morning… Harris picked Baltimore as the site for her campaign headquarters… On her first trip to Iowa, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) highlighted her upstate New York roots, bipartisanship and small-town political ancestry… Gillibrand defendedher decision to call on former Sen. Al Franken to resign… Los Angeles teachers’ strike shows Eric Garcetti risks in ’20 bid… Many 2020 Dems silent on Trump’s Afghanistan, Syria withdrawals…
HAPPENING TODAY — Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg will speak at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network celebration in Washington, DC. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will join an NAACP march in Columbia, South Carolina. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is in New York for an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.
ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — PM Netanyahu launched a blistering attack on AG Avichai Mandelblit, saying quotes from him reported by Channel 12 are “unprecedented in the history of Israeli justice and raise serious questions” about the probe… The Likud unveiled a new billboard on the Ayalon Highway featuring the pictures of journalists reporting about Netanyahu’s allegations. “They won’t decide, you will decide. Despite them, Netanyahu!” the billboard reads… ‘Only the strong survive’: Benny Gantz’s new campaign videos laud his IDF bona fides… Avigdor Lieberman released his campaign slogan, which is “Lo Dofek Heshbon” — will not be cowed… Raoul Wootliff on how campaign slogans get lost in English translation… Facebook was caught off guard by the announcement of Israeli elections in April, but will soon announce strategies for protecting the platform and its users from online manipulation and abuse…
** Good Monday 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: Justice Department’s Reversal on Online Gambling Tracked Memo From Sheldon Adelson Lobbyists [WSJ] • Israel’s Tech Expansion Spotlights Glaring Inequality in Tel Aviv [Ozy] • Sheryl Sandberg admits to Facebook stumbles, says ‘we need to do better’ after rough year[CNBC] • Huawei Snags Samsung Exec to Head Marketing Operations in Israel [Calcalist]
DAVOS 2019 — Davos Billionaires Keep Getting Richer — by Tom Metcalf and Simon Kennedy: “The World Economic Forum — titled Globalization 4.0 — is expected to host 3,000 people. This year, George Soros is hosting a dinner at which he will speak and Jamie Dimon’s JPMorgan is throwing a cocktail party. Bill Gates will be present again, as will billionaire Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, who hosts a show on Bloomberg Television and whose fortune has doubled over the past decade.” [Bloomberg] • The Quick Read on Davos 2019, aka the World’s Most Important Watering Hole [Time]
MEDIA WATCH — BuzzFeed News in Limbo Land — by Jim Rutenberg: “BuzzFeed News has produced top-flight work. But in fashioning itself as a 21st-century upstart challenging the traditionalists, it has also pushed the limits…. The Mueller team’s challenge to the BuzzFeed report [on Michael Cohen] is also exposing the flaws of the wider media ecosystem, which is all too ready to spring into action at any sign of the Big One… Ben Smith, the BuzzFeed News editor, told me that the special counsel’s office was “gnomic” in its denial. “We are confident that our reporting will stand up,” he said.” [NYTimes] • Inside the Mueller team’s decision to dispute BuzzFeed’s explosive story on Trump and Cohen [WashPost]
DEEP DIVE — The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros — by Hannes Grassegger: “[Arthur] Finkelstein and [Georg] Birnbaum saw something in Soros that would make him the perfect enemy… Finkelstein and Birnbaum had expanded their work into exactly those countries where the Open Society Foundations was trying to build liberal local elites and civil rights movements: Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Albania. Birnbaum believed Soros stood for “a socialism that is wrong for these areas.” According to Birnbaum, Finkelstein was more practical about his opposition to Soros, whom he saw as simply a means to an end: “It wasn’t an emotional thing.” … “When we planned the campaign,” he said, “we didn’t think a second about Soros being a Jew.” [BuzzFeed]
ACROSS THE SEA — Malaysian PM doubles down on anti-Semitism in Oxford Union address: “In an address at the Oxford Union on Friday night, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad doubled down on his well-known anti-Semitism, saying it was a matter of freedom of speech for him to speak “against the Jews”. When it was pointed out his previous remarks about Jewish people being “hooked nosed” with “an instinctive sense of money” were anti-Semitic, he responded saying: “We are free to say what we like, we can say something that can be regarded as anti-Semitic by the Jews.” [TheJC]
Holocaust victims buried after remains found in UK museum: “The remains of six unidentified Holocaust victims were buried in a solemn ceremony at a Jewish cemetery near London on Sunday after spending years in storage at a British museum. The Imperial War Museum found the ashes and bone fragments during a stock-taking last year.” [AP]
PROFILE — ‘Order! Order!’: Parliament Speaker Is Brexit’s Surprise Star and Villain — by Ellen Barry: “The outside world rarely takes much notice of the speaker of the House of Commons, a nonpartisan and typically low-profile figure who presides over parliamentary debates. But Britain’s last-minute paralysis over exiting the European Union, or Brexit, has made John Bercow into a kind of celebrity… Clips of his signature cry, “Order, Order!,” have gone viral on social media… Mr. Bercow is the grandson of Jack Bercowitch, who emigrated from Romania to the East End of London at the age of 16… As a young man, he aligned himself with the far-right wing of the Conservative Party, at one point promoting the “assisted repatriation” of immigrants, an odd position for the grandson of Jewish immigrants… In 2009, he became speaker of the House of Commons — the first Jewish lawmaker ever to hold that post.” [NYTimes]
TRANSITION — Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, a member of Agudath Israel of America’s board of trustees, was chosen by the Democratic Committee members to represent the 16th District in the Illinois House of Representatives on Sunday. The seat was vacated by Rep. Lou Lang on January 7 after Lang accepted a partnership offer from the lobbying firm Advantage Government Strategies.
RISING STAR — Meet Broadway’s Next ‘Evan Hansen’ — by Michael Paulson: “Last June, Andrew Barth Feldman was competing in the National High School Musical Theater Awards (known as the Jimmys) — which he won — when the lead producer of “Dear Evan Hansen” happened to be in the audience. She knew immediately she wanted him for the show, and on Jan. 30, he assumes the title role, playing Broadway’s favorite socially anxious and ethically confused adolescent.” [NYTimes]
SPORTS BLINK — Showboat: billionaire NFL team owner installs Imax cinema on superyacht — by Rupert Neate Wealth: “Dan Snyder, the American billionaire owner of the Washington National Football League (NFL) team, is taking delivery of a new superyacht, complete with the world’s first floating private Imax movie theatre – at an additional $3m cost.”[TheGuardian]
MAZEL TOV — Neri Oxman and William Albert Ackman were married Jan. 19 at Central Synagogue in New York. Rabbi Angela Buchdahl performed the ceremony. Ms. Oxman, 42, is a professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab. Mr. Ackman, 52, is the founder and chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management, a hedge fund company in New York… Ackman met Oxman after being introduced by Marty Peretz, a former professor at Harvard who has since become a mentor and father figure. [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE NATION — How to Read the Good Books — by Adam Gopnik: “[Robert] Alter’s task, as he explains it in a hugely entertaining and irreverent companion study, “The Art of Bible Translation” (Princeton), was to offer a modern English translation that had some of the solemnity and sublime simplicity of the King James Version, while being more accurate (apparently, the King James committee had an imperfect grasp of Hebrew). It should somehow be at once lucid and properly “estranged,” sounding more like an ancient language than, as with so many contemporary Christian translations, like a TV evangelist’s homey English; at the same time, he wanted his version to reflect the sound of good writing in our era.” [NewYorker]
REMEMBERING — Nathan Glazer, Urban Sociologist and Outspoken Intellectual, Dies at 95 — by Barry Gewen: “Nathan Glazer, one of the country’s foremost urban sociologists, who became most closely identified with the circle of disillusioned liberals known as the neoconservatives, died on Saturday at his home in Cambridge, Mass… A child of Jewish immigrants from Warsaw, Nathan Glazer was born on Feb. 25, 1923, in New York City and spent his early years in East Harlem… After graduation, in 1944, he got a job at The Contemporary Jewish Record, soon to become Commentary. Mr. Glazer, who had come out of a “very narrow world,” as he put it, described his life in the late 1940s and early ′50s as leaving “the womb.”[NYTimes]
— From an interview with Jason Willick in September, 2018: “Glazer believes anti-Semitism in the U.S. has been all but eliminated in his lifetime, and adds: “I don’t see it connected to Trump—if his daughter marries a Jew and converts, if his grandchildren are being raised as Jews and no one cares.” As for open racists and anti-Semites who describe themselves as “alt-right”: “I don’t think anybody in the alt-right these days is going to get elected.” [WSJ]
BIRTHDAYS: Writer specializing in modern Judaism and women’s issues, Blu Greenberg (born Bluma Genauer) turns 83… Owner of the NHL’s Boston Bruins and chairman of Delaware North (a global food service and hospitality company with 55,000 employees), Jeremy Maurice Jacobs turns 79… Literary critic, feminist, writer on cultural and social issues, television critic for People magazine, Elaine Showalter (born Elaine Cottler) turns 78… Chinese-American Governor of Washington (1997-2005), US Secretary of Commerce (2009-11) and US ambassador to China (2011-14), Gary Locke turns 69…82nd Attorney General of the United States (2009-2015), Eric Holder turns 68… Actor, singer, musician, director, producer, writer, composer and educator, he is the voice of Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Robby Benson (born as Robin David Segal) turns 63… Chairman of the Zionist Organization of America and chair of the real estate group at the NY/NJ law firm of Sills Cummis & Gross, Mark Levenson turns 62… Chairman and CEO of Norfolk, Virginia-based Harbor Group International, an $8.2 billion real estate investment firm, Jordan E. Slone turns 57…
Former political editor at Newsweek (2014-2018), he had worked earlier for Time, The New Republic, National Journal and US News & World Report, Matthew Cooper turns 56… Managing director of OneTable (promoting Shabbat meals for young people throughout the country), Andrea Greenblattturns 52… Born in Trinidad and Tobago, SVP and Washington bureau chief for CNN since 2011, employed by CNN since 1991, Sam Feist turns 50… Ramat Gan native, director, producer and screenwriter of American films, best known as the producer or director of the six films in the “Paranormal Activity” series, Oren Peli turns 49… Dean of School at Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Los Angeles, lecturer, educator and author, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn turns 40… Director of the DC government’s Organizational Change Management Division within the Access System Administration, Jordan Grossman turns 33… Congressional reporter for the Los Angeles Times since 2018, after eight years covering health care policy for Politico and five years at the Washington Times, Jennifer Haberkorn turns 36 (h/t Playbook)…