Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Booker, Kaine support Udall amendment criticizing settlements | Arbess meets Abbas | Struggling Sports Bar went Kosher, Biz Took Off

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EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Udall’s Amendment Criticizing Settlements Rejected In Committee — by Aaron Magid: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed Resolution 6 on Thursday criticizing the recent UNSC action against Israel, and it will head to the Senate floor for a vote at a later time. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced an amendment to the bill yesterday, which added a line, “reaffirming that it is also the policy of the United States to discourage settlement building.” Seven Democrats supported the revision including Tim Kaine (VA) and Cory Booker (NJ). Notably, Booker “received more money from pro-Israel donors than any other Democratic candidate in the 2014 election cycle,” according to NJ.com. Nonetheless, the amendment failed to pass as the other members of the committee including three Democrats — Robert Menendez (NJ), Ben Cardin (MD) & Chris Coons (DE) — joined the remaining eleven GOP members on the committee to oppose the provision.” [JewishInsider]

“For the first time, Democrats are about as pro-Palestinian as pro-Israel” by Aaron Blake: “Similar numbers of Republicans and Democrats have sympathized more with Israel than with the Palestinians dating back to the late 1970s. Today, though, 74 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel, while just 33 percent of Democrats do the same. And perhaps most notably, for the first time this century — if not ever — Democrats are now about equally split between sympathizing more with Israel (33 percent) and with the Palestinians (31 percent)… While liberal Democrats favored Israel by 30 points at the turn of the century, they now favor the Palestinians by 12 points. The causes could be many. Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama haven’t exactly been buddies, and Pew’s data shows Democrats’ views of Netanyahu are pretty dim. Perhaps that has depressed support for Israel among Democrats.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL: “Capital of Israel Is Tel Aviv, Says Trump’s Pentagon Pick Mattis” by Amir Tibon:“The U.S. embassy is in Tel Aviv, however U.S. policy doesn’t explicitly state that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital. Mattis also explained that “that’s where all the government people are.” While Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are both located in Jerusalem, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the IDF headquarters – two places that Mattis has visited many times when he served in the U.S. military – are in fact located in Tel Aviv.” [Haaretz; JewishInsider]

FULL EXCHANGE — Graham: What’s the capital of Israel? Mattis: The capital of Israel that I go to, sir, is Tel Aviv because that’s where all their government people are, but… Graham: Do you agree with me that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem? Mattis: Sir, right now I stick with the U.S. policy. Graham: Okay. Do you support moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Mattis: I would defer to the nominee for Secretary of State on that, sir. Graham: Do you support maintaining the qualitative edge for Israel against all potential adversaries in terms of their military capability? Mattis: I do, sir. Graham: Do you support a two-state solution? Mattis: I do. If that brings peace to the Middle East, I am eager to see it work. If there’s another solution, I’d be happy to hear what it is. Graham: Absolutely. Who is in charge of the Palestinian community? Mattis: That’s a good question, sir. I think there’s a number of people who think they are. Graham: It’d be hard to have a two-state solution if one of the parties really doesn’t have anybody in charge. Mattis: There is nothing easy about the two-state solution.

On Hamas — Graham: You think Hamas is a terrorist organization? Mattis: I do, sir. Graham: You think they would abide by any agreement that the Palestinian Authority negotiated with Israel given the state of affairs as we know today? Mattis: Only if forced to. Graham: Okay. I’d like to know how we would force them.

— “Mattis on several occasions during his testimony defended the F-35 in light of Trump tweets that called into question the program costs. Mattis said it was a superior aircraft with stealth and electronics beyond the current generation of fighters. Allies that are purchasing the aircraft are also depending on the program, he noted. Trump only wants to make sure the program is getting “the most bang for the buck,” he said.” [NDIA] • Mattis: “Israel’s security is very, very important to the United States.” [YouTube

“Mattis breaks with Trump on Iran, Russia” by Austin Wright and Jeremy Herb: “While Mattis is known as an Iran hawk, he said Thursday he believed the United States should stick with the Iranian nuclear deal. “I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement — it’s not a friendship treaty,” Mattis said in response to questions from Senate Armed Services ranking Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island. “But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”” [PoliticoNYTimes]

“Rex Tillerson couldn’t recall ExxonMobil subsidiary’s work with Iran. Here’s the proof it happened” by Ed O’Keefe and Steven Mufson: “Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the Securities and Exchange Commission contacted ExxonMobil in 2006 and 2010 about Exxon’s dealings with Iran, Syria and Sudan, including Infineum and its work with Iran… While these transactions were small compared to the oil giant’s overall business… any leaks in a sanctions regime can undercut U.S. policy even if they are not large for an individual company the size of Exxon, sanctions experts note… On Feb. 7, 2006, Exxon’s assistant general counsel Richard E. Gutman wrote back saying the transactions were too tiny for a company with $371 billion in revenue to matter to investors.” [WashPost

“Don’t tear up the Iran deal, make it better” by Amos Yadlin and Avner Golov: “The incoming Trump administration should revive the two main levers that brought Iran to the negotiations, but were partially abandoned by the Obama administration: a credible threat of sanctions that could severely damage the Iranian energy and financial sectors, and a credible surgical military option… Close cooperation with Israel could strengthen the American position. Israeli intelligence on Iran can assist in detecting Iranian violations, while an Israeli military threat can also convince Iran not to exploit the flaw.” [USAToday]

TOP TALKER: “Meeting With Kushner’s Friend Convinced Abbas: Trump Serious About Embassy Move” by Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury:“Around two weeks ago New York businessman Daniel Arbess approached senior officials in Abbas’ office through the mediation of another American businessman, asking to meet with Abbas and the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat… An American source who knows him says Arbess has friendly ties with the most significant man in Trump’s entourage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The source says Arbess and Kushner sit beside each other at the Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan’s Upper East Side… An Israeli source familiar with details of the meeting said Arbess told Abbas that as far as he knew, Trump was serious about moving the embassy to Jerusalem and might announce this shortly after being sworn in on January 20.” [Haaretz]

Barak Ravid tweets:“Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt tells me “Daniel Arbess does not represent Trump, Jared Kushner or anyone in the upcoming administration… Daniel Arbess doesn’t know the President-elect’s views on Israel, the Palestinian Authority or the peace process.” [Twitter]

“Obama Surprises Joe Biden With Presidential Medal of Freedom” by Michael D. Shear: “For the first time, Mr. Obama awarded the medal with distinction, an added level of veneration that previous presidents had reserved for recipients like Pope John Paul II and Colin L. Powell… “To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully,” Mr. Obama said during the televised ceremony, as Mr. Biden wiped tears from his eyes.” [NYTimes]

“U.S. Vice President Biden to make swansong visit to Ukraine” by Pavel Polityuk: “Biden… has been the front man for U.S. policy towards Ukraine since street protests in 2013-2014 forced a Russian-backed leader to flee and the pro-Western opposition took over… Biden has been closely involved, visiting Ukraine four times since the change in power and maintaining regular telephone contact with Poroshenko and the prime minister.” [Reuters] • Flashback 12-27-2016: Phone Call From Biden Said to Precipitate Ukraine’s UN ‘Yes’ Vote [Tablet]

“Biden: Intel officials told us Trump allegations might leak” by Josh Lederman: “The vice president… took umbrage at Trump’s comments accusing intelligence agencies of allowing the information to leak publicly and drawing a comparison to “living in Nazi Germany.” “The one thing you never want to invoke is Nazi Germany, no matter what the circumstances,” Biden said. “It’s an overwhelming diversion from the point you’re trying to make.”” [AP• German foreign minister ‘perplexed’ by Trump’s Nazi Germany comment [DW]

“Holocaust Survivor Evi Blaikie Denounces Trump Over Nazi Reference” by Jacob Kornbluh: “I was angry, I was really angry,” Blaikie, the founder of Hungarian Hidden Children of the Holocaust, told Jewish Insider outside City Hall on Thursday. “I was astounded that he would make such a statement that is so ignorant of what Nazi Germany was about… I’m afraid of Donald Trump,” she said, “but at the same time, I’m not going to let the fear paralyze me. I’m going to do my best and ask everyone else to fight him on everything. We can’t be kept silent. We have to speak up no matter what the ramifications.” … “I have a message for our President-elect: Mr. Trump when it comes to your prejudice attacks, shut your tweeting face,” Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center [for Mutual Respect], said. “Your words injure.” [JewishInsider]

“Why Won’t More Jewish Groups Condemn Trump’s Shameful Nazi Comparisons?” by Jane Eisner: “There is one person, though, who should be able to persuade Trump to stop using Nazi references in such an awful way: his son-in-law, the grandson of survivors. Maybe the Jewish organizations that won’t publicly condemn Trump will try to whisper in Jared Kushner’s ear.” [Forward

TRANSITION TOWER: “New York Financier to Land White House Adviser Role” by Jonathan Lemire: “[Anthony Scaramucci’] may move into the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, which is currently run by Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s most powerful allies… He has deep ties with incoming White House strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner… In the closing months of the presidential campaign, Scaramucci became tight with Kushner.” [AP

** 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 **

TALK OF THE TOWN — Be’er Sheva Added to Bloomberg Innovation Team Grant List: “Program deepens funding in the United States and Israel, also expands to Canada. The program helps City Halls drive bold innovation, change culture, and tackle big problems to deliver better results for residents. Multi-year grants will be awarded to help cities create better results for a range of pressing problems – from tackling poverty and neighborhood revitalization to recruiting and retaining public employees… I-teams are currently in Tel Aviv, Israel and Jerusalem, Israel.[BloombergPhil; CityLab]

“Davos Wonders If It’s Part of the Problem” by Matthew Campbell and Simon Kennedy:“The repeated failure of business and political elites to predict what’s coming—last year, that included the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union—doesn’t strike those returning this month to the Swiss Alps as very funny. After a year in which political upsets roiled financial markets and killed off the careers of once-dominant Davos-going politicians, the concern for delegates attending this year’s meeting isn’t that their forecasts are often wrong, but that their worldview is.” [Bloomberg]

“15 Israelis making a mark on Silicon Valley’s tech scene” by Viva Sarah Press: “Oren Zeev and Oren Dobronsky are often mentioned in the same sentence. The two share a sense of responsibility for grooming the next generation of Israelis in Silicon Valley. Zeev, founder of Zeev Ventures, was an early investor in Chegg, Houzz, Audible, Tipalti and others, and sits on numerous boards of directors. He is also cofounder and chairman of supplier payments automation platform Tipalti. “Israelis here succeed at all levels, as entrepreneurs and as executives. An Israeli who lands here has a massive advantage over Swedes, Italians — or even Texans — because everyone knows everyone,” Zeev told Haaretz, adding that Israelis are represented at every significant company in the area.” [Israel21c]

“Gaza is attracting the attention of Silicon Valley as young tech entrepreneurs push to solve problems themselves” by Christopher Schroeder: “If you have any doubt that near-universal access to tech is helping a new generation take control of their own lives, solving problems and building opportunity from the bottom-up everywhere — that “near-universal” means it’s not a phenomenon of the elite, but unleashing talent anywhere it resides — come to Gaza… More than two-thirds of Gazans are under 24, and nearly all have high written and computing literacy. If the definition of a great entrepreneur is one who thrives in working through and around challenges and creating innovative solutions, it’s no surprise that Gaza is chock-full of them.” [ReCode] • With Electricity in Short Supply, 10,000 Protest in Gaza, Defying Hamas [NYTimes]

THIS TOWN: “Jeff Bezos’s New $23 Million House Will Make Him Jared Kushner’s Neighbor” by Emily Jane Fox: “The Washington Post reported Thursday that Jeff Bezos bought a 27,000-square-foot property in October less than a half mile from Ivanka and Jared’s new digs. The home, the largest in the city, was purchased for $23 million in cash.” [VanityFair; WashPost]

“What I learned about Jared Kushner from working at The Observer” by Ross Barkan: “Long before Trump was a serious candidate for President, Observer staff was told to broaden its reach… We dropped “New York” from our website as a way to “nationalize” the brand. We were told we were now writing for people everywhere: the Midwest, the South and beyond. In theory this was noble, but in practice it made little sense. We weren’t traveling across America because our budget was rather meager… Thanks to a sleek redesign and the emergence of stories with clickbait headlines… web traffic grew, and Kushner took this as a sign that his paper, if he cared, was finally reaching the masses.” [NYDN

MEDIA WATCH: “Libel Lawsuit Settled Between Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson, WSJ Reporter” by Lukas I. Alpert: “The suit, filed in 2013, accused the Journal’s then-Hong-Kong-based Asia gambling-industry reporter, Kate O’Keeffe, of libel, for a passage in which Mr. Adelson was described as “a scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working-class Dorchester, Mass.” Mr. Adelson has said he isn’t foul-mouthed. .. The case was brought in Hong Kong, where the law makes it easier for plaintiffs to win libel cases than in the U.S., in part, by putting the burden on defendants to prove the truth of the challenged statement… The Journal took action in U.S. federal courts to subpoena witnesses, including executives at Las Vegas Sands and Mr. Adelson’s former bodyguard and driver, who could testify about whether he indeed was foul-mouthed.” [WSJ] • “Trump met with mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, transition says” [TheHill]

WHITE HOUSE TRANSITIONS: “Jake Broder Fingert, senior policy adviser for the National Economic Council, will be a partner at Camber Creek, a D.C.-based venture capital firm focused on real estate tech. Jake covers infrastructure and real estate at the White House and previously helped manage the federal government’s real estate portfolio, acquisitions program and IT, as a senior adviser at GSA.” [Playbook] • President Obama announced his intent to appoint Andrew Weinstein to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council [WhiteHouse

“The Dark Irony of a Jewish Country Club’s Debate Over Whether to Admit President Obama” by Rachel Shukert: “Woodmont has the right to let in or not let in whoever they want, and I am confident the President—a President who held the first seder ever in the White House, who has had more Jews in key positions than any other administration in history, and whose policy views are echoed by the vast majority of American Jews—will ultimately find a nice place to play golf. But it is something that a club founded in protest of exclusion of those with different worldviews, so to speak, should feel so comfortable with it in practice.” [Tablet]

“‘Jewish Americana’ music gets its moment in the spotlight” by Gabe Friedman: “Since Jews were viewed as immigrants in the United States for a large part of the 20th century — and are still widely seen as an ethnic “other” in American society — Jewish music and Americana, at first glance, seem an unlikely mixture. But in addition to [Saul] Kaye, artists such as Nefesh Mountain, a husband-and-wife bluegrass duo from New Jersey, and Joe Buchanan, a convert to Judaism from Houston who plays James Taylor-esque country, are gaining in popularity on the national Jewish music circuit. Joey Weisenberg, a Brooklyn-based prayer leader and music teacher, has garnered praise for his modern bluesy, indie rock-inspired takes on “niggunim,” or traditional Jewish melodies.” [JTA]

SPORTS BLINK: “Amar’e In Israel: Fresh Start In The Old City” by Jon Wertheim: “While stopping short of considering himself Jewish, [Amar’e] Stoudemire self-identifies as a Hebrew Israelite, a tribe that’s believed to have descended from the Kingdom of Judah and inhabited what is now Israel before its expulsion by the Romans in 70 A.D. In keeping with kosher tradition, Stoudemire doesn’t eat pork or shellfish, and he sports a menorah tattoo on his left wrist… Stoudemire says that he’s committed to “holy living” and that in Jerusalem, “I’ve never felt more at home, more tied to a place where I’m playing.”” [SI]

Wine of the Week — by Yitz Applbaum: Sitting with Arnon, one of the founders of the Montefiore winery, is a wonderful experience. Arnon helped to shape the Israeli wine market over the past 20 years, so his knowledge and passion for Israeli wines are overwhelming. Imagine that you are overlooking the Montefiore Windmill in Jerusalem, sitting with Arnon – the wine is not even necessary to obtain a high.

The Montefiore Aria is a complex wine. It is a blend of 65 percent Syrah, 20 percent Carignan, and 15 percent Petite Syrah. An amazing trait of this wine is that you can taste the different grape varietals on completely different parts of your palate. One almost gets to blend the wine in one’s own mouth. The wine is aged predominantly in French oak with a touch of some American oak as well. Drink this wine now. Drink it with marinated meat and chicken if you can. This is likely to create a memorable meal. [MontefioreWines

DESSERT: “This Sports Bar Was Struggling — Until It Went Kosher and Business Took Off” by Britta Lokting: “The bar is located between Baruch College and Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, and Hardoon and Brooks, who are both Orthodox, watched unhappily as Jewish customers they knew to be observant ate nonkosher food. Hardoon didn’t like them violating kashrut in his establishment. He first tried offering sushi, which only partially worked, and then one night suggested to Brooks they just make the whole place kosher… Despite the higher costs and some lost weekend revenue, the bar makes more money than ever. Eddie Fahmy, the manager, says business is up 50 to 60 percent. One waitress says she can collect $200 in tips on some nights, a big boost from the $50 she might have earned before certification.” [GrubStreet]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: South African biologist and a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate, Sydney Brenner turns 90… Founder of Working Today and Freelancers Union, leading organizations of independent workers, a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, Sara Horowitz turns 54… Statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and elections, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver turns 39… AIPAC’s German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier mix, Jersey Brown turns 11… NYC pediatrician at Carnegie Hill Pediatrics, graduate of the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg, Barry B. Stein, MD… DC-based Deputy Director of Communications for the Israel on Campus Coalition, Carly Freedman… North America Director at The Israel Forever Foundation, Heidi Krizer Daroff… Bruce Maclver… Shira Berenson… Lucia Meyerson… Rebecca Seider… Kathleen Chambers

Award-winning legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio since 1975, focusing primarily on the US Supreme Court, Nina Totenberg turns 73… Screenwriter, director and producer, best known as co-writer of the films “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi,” Lawrence Kasdan turns 68… AIPAC board member and activist, founding member and co-managing partner of LA-based law firm, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, Michael L. Tuchin turns 52… Associate attorney in the Toronto law firm of McCague Borlack, Aryeh Samuel… Stephen Panikoff… Alba Farquharson… Barbara Singer-Meis… Eric Alterman… Saul Saulisbury

German-born, US-educated, moved to Israel at age 44, professor of electro-optics at the Jerusalem College of Technology, author of several books on Science and Judaism, Yehuda “Leo” Levi, Ph.D turns 91… Diplomat and attorney, former domestic policy advisor to President Carter, US Ambassador to the European Union (1993-1996), Deputy Secretary of Treasury (1999-2001), Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat turns 74… Cryptographer, computer security specialist, blogger, writer, author of 13 books, CTO at Resilient (an IBM company), a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Bruce Schneier turns 54… Basketball analyst for CBS Sports since 2012, after a ten-year stint at ESPN, formerly a college basketball star who played professionally in the USBL, Europe and for Maccabi Ra’anana, Doug Gottlieb turns 41… Conservative political commentator, nationally syndicated columnist, author, radio talk show host, and attorney, Ben Shapiro turns 33… Madelyn Palley turns 68…

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