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WSJ A1: “U.S. Payment of $1.7 Billion to Iran Raises Questions of Ransom” by Jay Solomon: “A deal that sent $1.7 billion in U.S. funds to Iran, announced alongside the freeing of five Americans from Iranian jails, has emerged as a new flashpoint amid a claim in Tehran that the transaction amounted to a ransom payment… “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies and doesn’t have to do with the [nuclear] talks,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza-Naghdi, commander of Iran’s powerful Basij militia, in state media on Wednesday. “The way to take our rights back from the arrogants [Americans] is to become powerful, and we must grow stronger and stronger every day.” [WSJ]

“Kerry: Sanctions relief for Iran will not threaten its neighbors” by Carol Morello: “Secretary of State John F. Kerry acknowledged Thursday that some of the money Iran receives from sanctions relief may be used to fund terrorist activities, but he said the Obama administration does not believe it will increase the threat to U.S. allies in the Middle East.” [WashPost]

Charles Krauthammer — “The GOP gets the Iran prisoner swap wrong: The real story of Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 — “Implementation Day” of the Iran deal — was that it marked a historic inflection point in the geopolitics of the Middle East. In a stroke, Iran shed almost four decades of rogue-state status and was declared a citizen of good standing of the international community, open to trade, investment and diplomacy. This, without giving up, or even promising to change, its policy of subversion and aggression. This, without having forfeited its status as the world’s greatest purveyor of terrorism.” [WashPost]

NYTimes asks: Does Iran Remain a Threat? John Limbert: “The Facts Do Not Support the Fearmongers” • Suzanne Maloney: “A Dangerous Actor in a Volatile Area of the World” • Abbas Milani: “Forces of Change Are Coming to Iran” • Ehud Eiran: “The Threat From Iran Has Been Greatly Reduced” • Eran Lerman: “Paranoid Over the West, Obsessed With Destroying Israel” • Chen Kane: “Greater Opportunity for Regional Stability” [NYTimes]

Foreign Policy and the 2016 Primaries: “As the 2016 presidential primaries approach, Charlie Cook, Sam Feist, and Jim Lindsay discuss the role that foreign policy will play in the upcoming contests for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.” [CFR]

2016 WATCH: “The Groundbreaking Jewish Candidate Who May Not Get Much Jewish Support” by Alex Rogers: “Demo­crats may be on the verge of a pres­id­en­tial-race mile­stone they’ve barely talked about: the first-ever primary or caucus vic­tory by a Jew­ish can­did­ate. The pos­sib­il­ity of such an achieve­ment by Bernie Sanders gives even Jews sup­port­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton a cause to cheer, but it’s not gain­ing much at­ten­tion—nor does it ap­pear to be ral­ly­ing Jew­ish groups and voters to Sanders’s cause.”

“For Steve Ra­binow­itz, a vet­er­an Demo­crat­ic Jew­ish act­iv­ist who cofoun­ded Jew­ish Amer­ic­ans Ready for Hil­lary, it’s a com­bin­a­tion of Clin­ton’s long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ships with the Jew­ish com­munity, Sanders’s lack of em­phas­is on his back­ground, and a feel­ing that the coun­try has already proven it could vote a Jew­ish can­did­ate in­to the na­tion’s highest of­fice, even though it hasn’t yet happened.” [NationalJournal]

“Bernie Sanders’ religion a non-issue for Iowa voters” by Josh Tapper: “His affect is very Jewish, but I don’t hear a lot of people talking about it,” said Steven Edelman-Blank, the rabbi at Tifereth Israel, a Conservative synagogue in Des Moines. “It’s significant how little of an issue his Jewishness is. I don’t hear a lot of people backing Bernie because of that.”… At Maccabee’s, a kosher deli in Des Moines, the proprietor and local Chabad rabbi, Yossi Jacobson, riffed on Sanders’s growing appeal. He showered the senator with effusive praise — “Hillary’s ‘been there, done that,’” — and asserted that Sanders’ religion does matter, regardless of what Iowans, or even Sanders himself, might believe. “Bernie is giving hope to so many that we are all equal,” Jacobson said.” [JTA]

“Hillary Appoints Jewish Outreach Director” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Hillary Clinton’s campaign has tapped a former Obama and DNC official with strong ties to the Jewish community, Sarah Bard, as the campaign’s Jewish outreach director. Bard, 35, worked for Hillary’s presidential campaign in 2008 before switching to President Barack Obama’s campaign once he secured the nomination. In 2012, during Obama’s reelection campaign, she directed the Jewish Leadership Council and the Democratic Business Council for the DNC under Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.” [JewishInsider]

“Hillary Clinton unloads on Bernie Sanders” by Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica: “Senator Sanders doesn’t talk much about foreign policy, but when he does it raises concerns,” Clinton said in a speech on the campus of Simpson College in Iowa. “Sometimes it can sound like he really hasn’t thought it through… “He has suggested that we invite Iranian troops into Syria. That is like asking the arsonist to be the firefighter. …The challenges a President has to grapple with are beyond complicated both at home and abroad. That is why is it is the hardest job.” [CNNJI

Jeb in New Hampshire: “Israel is under attack. We are negotiating with Iran and and tearing asunder our relationship with Israel,” Bush said during a town hall meeting in Hampton, New Hampshire on Thursday. “The Iranian [nuclear] deal has created huge pressure; they see Iran as a real threat. It is. If we are serious, we need to – not just symbolically – be engaged, but get back in the business of showing support to our strongest ally we have in the Middle East.” [JewishInsider]

Poll: Could Mike Bloomberg Win? “When pitted in a three-way race with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets 37 percent of voters, Democrat leader Hillary Clinton gets 36 percent and Bloomberg, an independent, gets 13 percent. In a two-way race, Clinton edges out Trump by a 44 to 42 percent margin, with 14 percent of voters saying they are undecided. In a match-up including Bloomberg, however, Clinton’s support declines by 8 points, to 36 percent, and Trump’s support declines by 5 points, to 37 percent.” [MorningConsult]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Stephen Schwarzman: Bernie Sanders Scares the Markets” [WSJ] • “Soros Says Trump Is ‘Doing the Work of ISIS’ by Creating Fear” [Bloomberg] • “George Soros: The world is running into something it doesn’t know how to handle” [BusinessInsider] • “New York and Miami’s Luxury Condo Booms May Finally Be Over” [ViceNews] • “Murdoch snub exposes Silverstein’s 2 WTC dilemma” [TheRealDeal] • Israeli ZCast lets you start a live podcast from your phone for everyone to hear [TheVerge]

DAVOS SCENE: Start-Up Nation Central hosted a breakfast briefing yesterday at the Microsoft Cafe. The 7:30am event featured two panels and included a packed audience of top executive from leading global financial institutions. Dan Senor and Start-Up Nation Central CEO Eugene Kandel delivered opening remarks and introduced the WSJ’s Gerald Baker who moderated the two panels. The first panel addressed “Perspectives on What Large Financial Institutions Are Doing About Cyber Security” and featured Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant and Nadav Zafrir, CEO of Team 8 and former commander of Israel’s 8200 unit. Microsoft’s EVP Harry Shum, HP’s Mike Nefkens, and WICKR Chairman Nico Sell addressed the second panel on “Lessons from Tech Companies on the Front Lines.”

During the Q/A from with the audience, the panelists were asked how companies like Microsft and HP deal with the talent shortage of young people capable of filling the massive demand to fill cyber security jobs. Harry Shum’s response: “At Microsoft we have a secret formula: we go to Israel. One of our solutions is to acquire Israeli cyber security start-ups and hire Israelis to work for Microsoft in Israel. We travel to Israel so often that I recently joked to one of my colleagues that we should receive honorary Israeli citizenship.” Following the two panels, Paul Singer gave closing remarks.

At Anthony Scaramucci’s annual Davos Wine Forum: “Kevin Spacey was schmoozing with Third Point’s Daniel Loeb, Goldman Sachs’ No. 2 Gary Cohn, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, “Billions” co-creator Andrew Ross Sorkin and Bloomberg Television morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle.” [PageSix]

MEDIA WATCH: “Leon Wieseltier Is Not Buying The New Republic — But He Is Teaming Up With Steve Jobs’s Widow to Start a New Publication” by Carl Swanson: “The New Republic’s onetime, longtime literary editor, Leon Wieseltier, wants to run a learned journal again, according to multiple sources in TNR’s orbit. Despite what happened last time with Facebook’s Chris Hughes, Wieseltier is throwing his high-minded lot in with another tech-money billionaire: Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of the late Steve Jobs. But the as-yet-unnamed journal, which among other things will seek to discuss the effects of technology on our lives and think critically about it, will not be a reboot of The New Republic.” [NYMag]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Finding God On Snapchat: Jews, Christians And Muslims Connect With Millennial Believers One Snap At A Time” by Ismat Sarah Mangla: “Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, the social media editor for Chabad[dot]org, a site of Hasidic Jewish teaching and inspiration, said there’s a long history of Jews adopting the newest technologies to connect people to Judaism, from the printing press to satellite TV.” [IBTimes]

Rabbi Ronald Greenwald, Former Nixon Jewish Community Liaison, Dies at 82: “Rabbi Ronald Greenwald, who worked to help free Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky and others, and served as President Richard Nixon’s liaison to the Jewish community, has died. He became active in politics in 1962, and worked on the New York gubernatorial campaign of Nelson Rockefeller, helping him win a large share of the Jewish vote for a Republican at the time. The Rockefeller campaign recommended Greenwald to the Nixon campaign, and he worked in the Jewish community for Nixon’s 1972 reelection.” [ForwardYWN]

CAMPUS BEAT: “American Colleges Ignore Violence Against Jewish Students in Israel and the U.S.” by Jeff Robbins [Observer]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “The Arab Gangsters of Israel” by Shira Rubin: “Violent crime is endemic throughout the Arab sector in Israel, where police estimate that close to half a million illegal guns are in circulation. Since 2000, more than 1,000 people have been killed in Israel’s Arab sector, including women murdered in “honor killings,”… However, organized crime networks make the Israeli headlines only in particularly grim cases.” [DailyBeast]

TRANSITIONS: “The Israel Project announced today that political strategist and veteran diplomat Lior Weintraub will join its Israel team as vice president and director of its Israel office. Between 2008-2012, Lior served in Washington, DC as Chief of Staff for two ambassadors, and later as embassy spokesman. In this capacity, Lior played an integral part in the US-Israel relationship, working closely with the political elites, press corps and advocacy groups.”

“Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the political arm of the nation’s leading progressive organization inspired by Jewish values, announced today that Deputy Director and Rabbi-in-Residence Jason Kimelman-Block will be promoted to Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, replacing outgoing Director Hadar Susskind, who is transitioning to a new position at the Council of Foundations.”

Mazel Tov! “Wedding bells will soon be ringing for Mariah Carey and James Packer. Over the past ten months, the jet-setting pair has been on a whirlwind schedule of romantic dates spanning all over the world, from Ibiza to St Bart’s to Italy and even to Packer’s homeland of Australia… The most meaningful of their trips came at the end of June 2015, when James took Mariah to the Western Wall in Israel.An insider told E! at the time, “There is only one place at the Western Wall where men and woman can stand together and it was meaningful for him to take her there so that they could share this very intimate moment as a couple.” [EOnline]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Canadian Philanthropist Murray Koffler, who created Shoppers Drug-Mart & Israel’s Super Pharm stores, turns 92… John Heilemann turns 5-0… Howard K. Cohen… Developer Bruce Ratner turns 71… former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa turns 63… Jeffrey Schottenstein… Joshua Runyan… Yochonon Donn… Elliot Abrams turns 68…

DESSERT: “A Reuben of one’s own” by Talia Kollek: “Having Kosher food on campus has a bigger impact than you might think” [TheSilhouette

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