Daily Kickoff: Christie’s new book details what Trump thought of Ivanka’s conversion | Seth Klarman’s letter the talk of Davos | Bloomberg’s 2020 lane


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JI EXCLUSIVE — How Trump truly felt about Ivanka’s conversion, according to Chris Christie: In his book set to be released on January 29, an advance copy of which was obtained by Jewish Insider, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie details a conversation he had over dinner with Donald and Melania Trump in 2009 when the real-estate mogul informed him that his daughter, Ivanka Trump, had decided to convert to Judaism and marry Jared Kushner.

“It was a little hard to gauge Donald’s reaction” to Ivanka’s decision, Christie writes in his forthcoming book titled, Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics. “He was greeting the news with what I would describe as acceptance. ‘She’s a big girl. She’s a smart girl. If that’s what she wants to do, then that’s what she wants to do. I support her. I trust her.’”

“You never know what your kids will do next,” Trump remarked, according to Christie.

But something else was also on Trump’s mind that night: His future son-in-law was the son of Charles Kushner, whom Christie, as U.S. Attorney, had sent to jail. Trump was curious to know all of the details — “including the steamy ones” — about Ivanka’s future father-in-law’s case. “There was some sleazy stuff, right? He really did that?” Trump asked him. “Yes, he did,” Christie replied. ”Oh, that’s not good,” Trump responsed.

Christie adds that Trump later called him to see whether he would consider coming to Ivanka’s wedding despite Christie’s involvement in the Charles Kushner case, an invitation which Christie politely declined. “I am confident that he was relieved that we didn’t make things awkward for him, Ivanka, and his son-in-law-to-be,” Christie writes. [JewishInsider]

Cliff Sims’s book describes Trump’s reaction to Paul Ryan’s criticism of Charlottesville remarks — by Philip Rucker: “President Trump watched on television, increasingly angry, as House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized his handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He held the remote control “like a pistol” and yelled for an assistant to get the Republican leader on the phone. “Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your a– for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’” Trump told Ryan… “Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?” The tormenting continued… “I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Trump told him, according to former West Wing communications aide Cliff Sims. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what’d I do? I saved your a–.” [WashPost]

— “In one scene, Mr. Sims describes Mr. Trump’s top policy adviser, Stephen Miller, openly undermining his onetime ally, Stephen K. Bannon, as Mr. Miller appealed to Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Mr. Miller described Mr. Bannon as “leaking” to reporters.” [NYTimes

SHUTDOWN WATCH — Now Trump’s Shutdown Threatens Israel’s Security — by Neri Zilber: “U.S. legislation passed by Congress last year and set to go into effect at the end of the month will effectively end all remaining aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), including to the security forces. It will also cut the funding for a small American mission in Jerusalem, headed by a U.S. three star general… Potential amendments to the law that would allow this aid to continue are on hold due to the shutdown… Washington is now in a race against time until the legislation comes into effect February 1.”

“In the short term, direct Israeli-Palestinian security coordination will likely remain intact even absent the American role. “It’s a ‘holy interest’ for [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, and coordination operationally will continue,” Lt. Col. Alon Eviatar, a retired Israeli intelligence officer with long experience in Palestinian affairs, told The Daily Beast. And yet, Eviatar warned, the Palestinian response could be… “demonstrative” – creating a crisis so as to “drag Israel on to its side [vis-à-vis the U.S.], so that everyone understands the implications and consequences.” [DailyBeast

TALK OF THE REGION — U.S. aid cuts hit Palestinians, further dimming hope for peace — by Joseph Krauss: “Tens of thousands of Palestinians are no longer getting food aid or basic health services from America, U.S.-funded infrastructure projects have been halted, and an innovative peace-building program in Jerusalem is scaling back its activities. The Trump administration’s decision last year to cut more than $200 million in development aid to the Palestinians is forcing NGOs to slash programs and lay off staff.” [AP]

REPORT — After Chad ties restored, Israel set to host Mali’s PM in coming weeks: “Israel is preparing for an historic visit by Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga… Maiga will visit Israel “in the coming weeks,” and Netanyahu hopes the trip will take place before the April 9 elections, according to reports by Channel 13 and the Kan public broadcaster… The West African country, whose population is also majority Muslim, severed ties with Israel in 1973, following the Yom Kippur War.” [ToI]

Jordan protests Israel’s new Ramon airport: “Jordan rejects the establishment of the Israeli airport in its current location,” head of Jordan’s Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission Haitham Misto said… Misto said the airport violated “international standards regarding respect for the sovereignty of airspace and territory of other countries.” [France24]

Airbnb continues settlement boycott, to delist disputed areas of Georgia — by Tovah Lazaroff: “Professor Eugene Kontorovich… said that Airbnb’s boycott of West Bank settlements was discriminatory, even though it expanded its boycott list to include other disputed regions. “Airbnb’s attempt to put a fig leaf on their anti-Jewish discrimination actually only accentuates the extent of their discrimination in relation to Israel… Having been criticized for only applying its supposed global policy to Israel, the company has now added some tiny obscure Georgian territories, occupied by Russia,”  Kontorovich stated. “However, Airbnb’s has delisted all properties in these regions, whereas with regard to the West Bank only Jewish properties were delisted.”[JPost] • Tel Aviv to hit Airbnb hosts with new tax [ToI]

ON THE GROUND – Another suicide attack targets U.S. forces in Syria; Israel strikes at Iranian presence there — by Nabih Bulos and Noga Tarnopolsky: “U.S. forces were targeted again Monday when a suicide bomber drove a car toward a joint U.S.-Kurdish convoy and blew it up 11 yards from a checkpoint in northeastern Syria… The attack near the town of Shadidi came as the United States begins to draw down its presence in Syria and other countries step up their activity there. Israel launched a multi-pronged attack on military targets in Syria late Sunday night.” [LATimes] • After Striking Syria, Netanyahu Boasts About ‘Renovating’ Damascus Airport [Haaretz

TOP TALKER — Brett McGurk Says Trump Has ‘No Plan’ for What’s Next in Syria — by Andrew Kragie: “The expected power vacuum [in Syria] may come back to haunt the United States, much as it did after the withdrawal from Iraq, McGurk, the former special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, forecasted… McGurk also defended himself against Trump’s charge that his resignation was political, pointing out that he worked under Bush, Obama, and Trump. “I’ve served all three administrations,” he said. “I’ve worked on policies that I fully supported. You work on policies here in the government that you might not support. You argue your case. In this case, I think the entire national-security team had one view, and the president in a conversation with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan just completely reversed the policy.” [TheAtlantic]

STATE-SIDE — Pro-choice Orthodox Rabbi replaces Lang in the Illinois General Assembly — by Shia Kapos and Adrienne Hurst: “Yehiel Kalish will be the first ordained rabbi to serve in the Illinois General Assembly… Kalish told Politico, “During my conversation with Lou Lang, I said, ‘The voters of the 16th District won’t notice a difference in my voting record compared to yours.’” That means: “Yes,” he’s pro-choice. “Yes,” he supports gay marriage. And “yes,” he supports a $15 minimum wage… Lang assures that Kalish is a good fit for the district.” [IllinoisPlaybook]

— Kalish told the Chicago SunTimes: “I have not been chosen to be the rabbi of the state legislature. I have been chosen to be the representative of the 16th District.”

2020 WATCH — How Bloomberg plans to create his own lane in 2020 — by Marc Caputo: “He’s not going to be running to the far left like the other candidates are. He describes himself as fiscally moderate, fiscally conservative, but he’s clearly socially liberal and he’s a key driver of social policies,” said a top Bloomberg insider. “For Mike, it’s not ideologically driven, It’s pragmatic. People die from an excess of guns in America. People are dying and suffering and will continue to from the effects of climate change.” … Bloomberg is polling and collecting “data,” the source said, and climate change and guns are “going to drive Democrats to the polls.” [Politico

On King Holiday, Democrats Convey Hope, Remorse and Invective Against Trump — by Astead Herndon and Jonathan Martin: “The commemoration of Martin Luther King’s Birthday on Monday became a day of confession, invective and promise for prominent Democrats, who used events across the country honoring the slain civil rights leader to try to inoculate themselves from criticism, lash out at President Trump as a racist and, in one case, begin a history-making run for the White House.” [NYTimesWashPost]

— Former Vice President Joe Biden said at an MLK breakfast in DC that “white Americans” need to acknowledge the fact that systemic racism still exists and must be rooted out… Michael Bloomberg avoided talking ‘stop and frisk’ during the MLK breakfast… Bloomberg told the crowd: “Whatever the next year brings for Joe and me, I know that we will both keep our eyes on the real prize, and that is electing a Democrat to the White House in 2020.”… Bernie Sanders (I-VT) labeled Trump as a racist in South Carolina speech… Also in South Carolina, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spoke about the importance of unity and having what he called “courageous empathy” and acting on dissatisfaction… In New York, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced her campaign as a spiritual fight against “darkness”…

TRANSITION — Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer, joined the Kamala Harris presidential campaign as general counsel. [Politico]

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Lawyers for PM Netanyahu met withAG Avichai Mandelblit for almost three hours yesterday in an effort to persuade him not to announce a hearing for the prime minister before April… New leaks from Case 4000 show Netanyahu used his alleged deal with Walla! owner Shaul Elovitch to get the site to run a series of articles attacking his rival Naftali Bennett… In veiled criticism of Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin says rule of law in Israel ‘eroding’… Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List party, said he plans to use Netanyahu’s phrase in the last election that Arabs were heading to the polls “in droves” to whip up turnout amongst the Arab minority in April’s election… Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu Party, polling barely above the threshold, unveiled its campaign slogan: Only Kahlon cares…

** Good Tuesday 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: Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management Nears Deal to Acquire U.K. Packaging Company RPC Group for More Than $3.8 Billion[WSJ] • Telecom Italia Spinoff Plan Still Leaves Elliott Fighting Vivendi [Bloomberg] • China grants Ivanka Trump 5 trademarks amid trade talks [AP] • Shari Arison, Israel’s wealthiest woman, divests her empire at bargain basement prices [Haaretz] • Daniel Libeskind charts how he built a path to success — and how you can too [ToI] • Israeli Venture Capitalist Erel Margalit Warns Against Cybersecurity, AI Collaborations With China [Calcalist] • Israeli deep-learning startup Hailo raises $21 million[BusinessInsider]

STARTUP NATION — These Are the World’s Most Innovative Countries — by Michelle Jamrisko, Lee J Miller and Wei Lu: “Patent activity boosted the scores for China and Israel, which was a big winner by jumping five spots to fifth overall. The Middle Eastern country surpassed Singapore, Sweden and Japan in the process.” [Bloomberg

TALK OF DAVOS — A Bleak Warning on Global Division and Debt — by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Seth Klarman doesn’t make the annual pilgrimage to [the World Economic Forum in] Davos, but his words are often invoked by policymakers and executives who do. His dire letter, which is considerably bleaker than his previous writings, is a warning shot that a growing sense of political and social divide around the globe may end in an economic calamity. “It can’t be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions,” he wrote. He made the remarks in a 22-page annual letter to his investors… It was being passed around ahead of the Davos gathering, which draws business leaders like Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg, social and cultural figures like Bono, and elected officials like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.” [NYTimes] • Israeli Finance Minister to Meet in Davos With Amazon, Google [Calcalist]

HAPPENING TODAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will address the Davos Forum via satellite at 10 AM EST [Livestream]

MEDIA WATCH — Veteran Editor Maer Roshan Is the New Editor in Chief of Los Angeles Magazine: “Los Angeles magazine is proud to announce that Maer Roshan has been named Editor in Chief of Los Angeles magazine… As deputy editor of New York for nearly seven years, he oversaw the magazine’s Intelligencer section and produced some of its most talked-about features and investigative reports, including the first interview with Donatella Versace after the murder of Gianni Versace, and the first post-impeachment interview with Monica Lewinsky.” [LAMagVanityFair]

Author Etgar Keret’s ‘A Fault at the Edge of the Galaxy’ wins Sapir Prize — by Amy Spiro: “Author Etgar Keret was awarded the Sapir Prize, one of Israel’s highest literary honors, on Monday evening for his latest work, A Fault at the Edge of the Galaxy. The top prize includes NIS 150,000 and translation of the book into Arabic and into another language of the author’s choosing. “The book ‘A Fault at the Edge of the Galaxy’ touches the heart of the experience of global disruption,” wrote the judging panel. “The existence of Israel becomes a crumb of being in a world without hierarchies, that has no single center, and has no controlling point of view.” [JPost]

BEHIND BARS — Michael Cohen’s Prison Request: The Jewish ‘Club Fed’ — by Corey Kilgannon: “For a Jewish person, there is no place like Otisville,” said Earl Seth David, 54, a former inmate… “As a Jew, there’s no other prison you can get services like that.” Otisville’s camp has long been the lockup of choice among Jewish white-collar offenders, including Sheldon Silver, the former speaker of the New York State Assembly… Most inmates are Jewish — many of them orthodox and Hasidic — and many are doctors, lawyers, accountants and businessmen who committed fraud. A few also have backgrounds as ordained rabbis and, once inside, some assume a spiritual leadership role. Inmates periodically hold an informal vote to elect a “gabbai” to run the shul… There is never a problem reaching a minyan.”

“Orthodox inmates wear fringed vests known as zizit under their green prison uniforms. Prison work shifts are scheduled around daily prayer sessions and Sabbath observances… There are kosher vending machines in the visiting room. The prison commissary sells skullcaps for $6 and offers a kosher selection that includes matzo, gefilte fish, rugelach and seltzer… A lawyer for Mr. Cohen did not respond to messages, and it is still uncertain whether Mr. Cohen will wind up at Otisville.” [NYTimes]

MAZEL TOV — Food Network host Duff Goldman married girlfriend Johanna Colbry on Saturday in a unique ceremony at New York’s Museum of Natural History. [PageSixMarthaStewart

DESSERT — Celebrity Israeli Chef Opening Gluten-Free Restaurant ‘Arba’ In NYC — by Haim Handwerker: “What was originally planned as a pop-up for a few months, starring Chef Nir Tzuk, is turning into a new restaurant in every way. To be called Arba, it will open in early February in the Upper West Side, and is now in final preparations for its launch… Arba will open its doors on the corner of Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street, where a bagel restaurant once was. Tzuk says there’s no hidden meaning in the name, he simply liked it.” [Forward]

Erez Komarovsky Brings Taste of Israel to New York With Mint Kitchen — by Kristen Tauer: “Do you want me to come to sit with you, or do you want to taste some falafel?” Israeli chef Erez Komarovsky posed the proposition as a question, but it was quickly apparent it was rhetorical. “Taste falafel,” said Zeev Sharon, one of the partners of the new, fast-casual concept Mint Kitchen… Located in Greenwich Village, the space is outfitted with natural wood tones and decorated with hanging lights and plenty of foliage. In addition to tables, the space offers stadium-style seating as a unique option.” [WWD]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli singer known by the mononym Netta, she was the winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Portugal, Netta Barzilai turns 26… Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry in 2000, he is a professor (now emeritus) at the University of California Santa Barbara since 1982, Alan J. Heeger turns 83… Los Angeles resident, Ruth Lynn Sobel turns 78… Managing director and founder of Brave Warrior Advisors, an investment advisory firm, he is the son of Hall of Fame baseball star Hank Greenberg, Glenn H. Greenberg turns 72… Ordained at HUC-JIR in 1978, he has served as a rabbi and in other leadership capacities in New York, New Jersey and California, Mark Hurvitz turns 72… Brooklyn-born conductor, who during his tenure as artistic director of the Kraków Philharmonic became friends with Pope John Paul II for whom he later conducted multiple Papal concerts, Gilbert Levine turns 71… Founder and executive director of the Bridge Multicultural and Advocacy Project, Mark Meyer Appel turns 67… Director-General of the Israeli Defense Ministry, he is a retired Major General in the IDF, Ehud “Udi” Adam turns 61…

Justice on the Supreme Court of Israel, Noam Sohlberg turns 57… Michael Marquis turns 54… Sportscaster and host of a mid-day radio show on ESPN 980 in Washington, he was previously on the national ESPN network (2008-2015), Bram Weinstein turns 46… Director of the Chabad House in Kathmandu, Nepal, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz turns 45… Politics and local news editor at Hamodia, Yochonon Donn turns 42… NYC-based manager of strategic partnerships at Politico States and Media, Jesse Shapiro turns 28… Religion reporter for the Washington Post, she is also a professional balloon twister and was a 2018 contestant on Jeopardy, Julie Zauzmer turns 28… A leading young Jewish hockey player, he was a first round pick of the New York Islanders in 2014, Josh Ho-Sang turns 23… Retired Ob-Gyn in Toronto, Dr. Geoffrey Kalchman… Policy associate at Illinois Action for Children, he was previously a senior legislative assistant in the DC office of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Matthew Lustbader


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