Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: On Mideast tour, Kushner says peace plan will focus on borders & Palestinian unity | Amb. Nikki Haley’s new group | Zarif resigns

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ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — In an interview with Sky News Arabia, while on a visit to Abu Dhabi, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner revealedthat the Trump peace plan will focus on the “border issue” in an effort to jumpstart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. “The political plan is very detailed and focuses on resolving the border issue, and if we can resolve this factor and bring peace away from intimidation, then we can guarantee people’s freedom,” Kushner said. So far, Kushner added, “We have not been able to convince the two sides to make concessions.” [Video]

Kushner and Jason Greenblatt met yesterday with leaders of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. Kushner is expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia later in the week, but it’s not clear whether he will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). 

REACTION — The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller emails: “No Administration since there have been serious negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis has ever talked about the U.S. ‘drawing borders.’ The approach to borders has always been either to lay out parameters or provide general formulations to guide the parties’ negotiations. Kushner either misspoke or is about to put out a plan — to borrow a phrase from Star Trek — that goes beyond where anyone has gone before. I suspect it’s the former — given the reality that bilateral negotiations or those assisted by the U.S. will be critical — and the plan will contain generalities on the issue of territory.  If it’s not — and the only way to truly draw borders is with a map — the odds of this plan succeeding have gone from slim to none.”

Hudson Institute’s Douglas Feith: “I think the Palestinians will not make progress toward peace or toward freedom and prosperity until they have better quality leaders and political institutions. The current leaders are corrupt and self-serving, mired in pro-terrorist policies and attached to inflexible principles of hostility to Zionism. It’s a sad situation, bad for Israel and catastrophic for the Palestinians. If Mr. Kushner’s plan moves the Palestinians toward new leadership, it may open a constructive path. One can hope, but it isn’t easy.” 

Dr. Einat Wilf: “Kushner has said very little in the interview. It is very broad and open to interpretations. Bennett is using this anyways to make his claim — that was his campaign from day one — ‘do you want a Bibi-Gantz government or a Bibi-Bennett government?’ So Kushner’s very fuzzy comments make no difference to his campaign. For Netanyahu, anything after the elections might as well take place in a thousand years  — he is focused on winning them — which means he needs the Likud to be the largest party and the right wing+haredi block to be greater than 60. He’ll deal with everything afterward.”

Shalom Lipner, a veteran of 26 years in the Israeli prime minister’s office and currently a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Program: “Jared Kushner is now fixing to become a star of the election campaign. The debates between Bennett and Likud are certain to grow more fierce during the remaining weeks. The bigger dilemma will then fall to the new Israeli government, which will have to navigate a careful response to whatever blueprint Trump presents as his legacy.” • Kushner’s peace plan looks dead on arrival, Lipner writes. [PoliticoMag]

Dore Gold, former Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Kushner led with two principles in his comments: freedom and dignity. I certainly have no problem with his emphasis. In my public addresses, I always stress that only a democratic Israel can protect the freedom of Jerusalem for all the great faiths. Besides dignity, we need to add security. With Iran employing Shiite militias increasingly in Syria and Iraq a new threat is emerging along Jordan’s borders that will affect Israel. That problem can only be ameliorated by Israel retaining the Jordan Valley in the widest sense of that term as Rabin advised before he died.”

KAFE KNESSET — The New Right Blasts ‘Trump-Netanyahu’ Plan — by Neri Zilber: The Kushner interview led to a torrent of responses, especially from The New Right, led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who used it as an electoral opportunity. “Kushner’s comments prove what we already know — on the day after the election the Americans will push for a Netanyahu-Lapid-Gantz government that will create a Palestinian state… and divide Jerusalem, and Netanyahu will have to fall in line,” Bennett said. A video depicting Netanyahu’s past support for Palestinian statehood, interspersed with Bennett’s call to voters, quickly went viral on social media. “Netanyahu will divide Jerusalem,” it said at the end — an ironic callback to Netanyahu’s first campaign for PM in 1996 when he alleged the same about Shimon Peres. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]

WHO’S GOT BIBI’S BACK? — Orthodox group defends Netanyahu’s deal with far-right political party — by Ben Sales: “’Prime Minister Netanyahu acted to get right-wing parties to merge in order to meet the threshold necessary to secure a victory in the election,’ read a statement Monday by Farley Weiss, president of the National Council of Young Israel… ‘We understand what Prime Minister Netanyahu did, and he did it to have ministers of the national religious and national union parties in his coalition.'”[JTA]

ZOA’s Mort Klein, who is leading an annual mission to Israel this week, told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh: 
“Why has AIPAC, ADL, and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) never — that I’m aware of — publicly condemned the Arab members of Knesset who have praised Hamas, praised martyrs who have murdered Jews, have said Israel should not exist as a Jewish state? Why have they never condemned any of them? And ADL especially who has praised the Black Lives Matter movement, an anti-Semitic anti-Israel group, praised them, praised J Street publicly, and now they open their mouth about these people? First I want to see them condemn Black Lives Matter and J Street and the members of the anti-Israel Arab members of Knesset before they criticize right-wing Jews. I want to see that first.” 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the only Democratic presidential candidate who voted in favor of the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 (S.1), tweeted on Monday: ‘This is wrong and has been rightly condemned. To quote the American Jewish Committee, “[The views of Otzma Yehudit] do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel.'”

The Onion chimes in — Netanyahu Defends New Alliance With Israel’s Far-Right Aryan Supremacy Party [TheOnion]

TALK OF THE REGION — Iran’s Foreign Minister Resigns, in an Instagram Post — by Farnaz Fassihi and Sune Engel Rasmussen: “Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s unexpected resignation, announced on his Instagram account late at night in Iran, signals a victory for Iran’s hard-liners, who favor confrontation with the West, as Washington ratchets up pressure on the country after pulling out of the deal. His exit leaves a potential void in the world’s dealings with Iran, depending on who his successor is… Mr. Zarif, once hailed as a national hero, saw his reputation sink in the aftermath of U.S. exit from the nuclear deal.” [WSJ] • Iran’s parliamentarians urge foreign minister not to quit [FinancialTimes]

Iran’s Charmer-in-Chief Resigns — by Eli Lake: 
“Zarif’s resignation is welcome news. He was never going to moderate the Iranian regime. His job was to con Westerners into thinking Iran’s regime was moderating. With his departure, the civilized world has one less excuse for failing to see what has been in front of its nose all along.” [Bloomberg]

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz emails: “Javad Zarif is a true master of deceit. Too many in the gullible West have entered into his forcefield of mendacity and forgotten that, behind his smiling face, the regime he represents is brutal, corrupt and destructive.”

Iran Is Committing Suicide by Dehydration — by Alizreza Nader and Nik Kowsar: “The water crisis… poses a threat to Iran as a nation-state capable of sustaining itself. If the crisis is not resolved in 20 to 30 years, millions of Iranians will be forced to leave… The Islamic Republic has been the primary force in creating Iran’s water crisis. It lacks the desire and ability to govern Iran for the benefit of its people. It is no wonder that many Iranian farmers, once considered a natural constituent for the revolutionary regime, now call for its overthrow.” [ForeignPolicy]

TRANSITION — Former Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) 
has joined law and lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as a policy director. Royce, who served as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee until his retirement in 2018, told Politico Influence that he will be “giving insights, giving advice, giving direction to companies that are involved in international business,” as well as lobbying on domestic matters. Asked whether he’d lobby for foreign governments, Royce said he’d decide “on a case-by-case basis.” 

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley writes on Instagram
“Excited about starting a new policy group, Stand for America Now. We will focus on how to keep our country safe, strong, and prosperous. Join me as we stand up for America’s freedoms and values.” 

SPOTTED ― Nikki Haley at the Kosher UN Plaza Grill on Monday evening.[Pic]

Trump’s U.N. pick, Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft, thin on foreign policy, long on political connections — by Alexander Panetta and Lauren Gardner:
“Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a senior Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters Monday he looked forward to hearing from Craft about her views on the U.N. When asked whether he’d taken note of her performance thus far in Canada, he said he has ‘not noticed anything that stands out.’ ‘That’s probably good for an ambassador,’ he added.” [Politico]

Bob Barnett, the Williams and Connolly attorney, is shopping around a book by former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn to publishers in New York. [Playbook]

TOP TALKER — Cohen to Testify That Trump Engaged in Criminal Conduct While in Office — by Rebecca Ballhaus and Warren Strobel: “Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, will for the first time publicly accuse the president of criminal conduct while in office… Appearing on Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee, Mr. Cohen also will make public some of Mr. Trump’s private financial statements and allege that Mr. Trump at times inflated or deflated his net worth for business and personal purposes… Mr. Cohen’s testimony is expected to focus on his ‘behind-the-scenes’ accounts of working for Mr. Trump for over a decade, a period during which Mr. Cohen will say he witnessed ‘lies, racism and cheating’ by Mr. Trump.” [WSJNYTimes]

— Emily Jane Fox reports: 
“Cohen has been preparing for this very public moment every day for the last several weeks,” [VanityFair]

ON THE BENCH — In support of Neomi Rao’s nomination to D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the WSJ Editorial Board writes… “Someone should also instruct the young Mr. Hawley on the history of Ronald Reagan’s judicial selection after the failed nominations of Robert Bork and Doug Ginsburg in 1987. The anti-abortion lobby threw its support behind Judge Anthony Kennedy because he was Catholic and anti-abortion in his personal views. Judge Laurence Silberman, the other finalist, was Jewish and thought to be pro-choice in his personal views.” [WSJ]

STATE-SIDE — Pro-Israel Democrats Clash With Leftists In Races For L.A. Party Posts — by Aiden Pink: 
“When arguments about Israel became the central issue in a mundane election for low-level California Democratic Party posts last month, things got weird. There were secret votes, bruised feelings, a cameo by Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign co-chair – and a preview of how the shifting Democratic discourse on Israel could make for a difficult year of caucuses and conventions for pro-Israel advocates… Israel-related issues have also popped up elsewhere in the state. Andrea Beth Damsky, the president of the San Diego County Progressive Democratic Club, told the Forward that… she had been heavily criticized by local activists for going to Israel and the West Bank on a trip arranged by an AIPAC-tied organization.”[Forward]

2020 WATCH — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) in newly-released comments she made in an off-the-record session at AIPAC’s Policy Conference last year: “I do believe, walking the halls of the United States Senate these last several months, that this is a shared value. I do believe this is one of the issues that is more obviously not even a bipartisan issue but a nonpartisan issue.”

Harris added that her support for Israel goes back to her childhood: “We would have our little boxes where we were raising money to plant trees for Israel, and we would go around with our box, and you know, I actually never sold Girl Scout cookies, but I raised money to plant trees in Israel.” [HuffPost]

— Bernie Sanders is poised to open up a painful intraparty debate about Israel — by Matthew Yglesias: 
“Because Sanders is Jewish — he even lived on a socialist kibbutz for a time in 1963 — he has a personal connection to the Israel issue that candidates typically lack, as well as a certain credibility to go further in criticisms of the Jewish state than many gentiles would typically be comfortable doing. And the voting public may be eager to hear that.” [Vox]

Sen, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raised $10 million in less than a week… In a CNN town hall last night, Sanders sounded like he was already running against Trump in a general election… Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gives a new promise: No fundraisers, phone calls with wealthy donors… GOP donors: Trump campaign lacks a strategy to win in 2020… Trump’s former deputy campaign manager David Bossie launched an effort to blunt a potential 2020 challenge by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan…

** 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: Upstarts challenge private equity’s top tier[FinancialTimes]• Salesforce Chairman and Co-CEO Marc Benioff discusses how AI is transforming the tech industry and beyond on Talks as GS [GoldmanSachs] • Marriott Moxy hotel set for Oakland thanks to Manny Friedman’s EJF Capital’s Opportunity Zone fund [RealDeal• Walmart acquires Israel’s Aspectiva, which analyzes UGC to recommend products to shoppers [TechCrunch• AECOM, Canyon Partners JV will spend $4B to develop properties nationwide [RealDeal] • Warburg Pincus brings in strategic partners for Israel’s Leumi Card [Reuters] 

The Trauma floor: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America — by Casey Newton: 
“One of Miguel’s colleagues once referred casually to ‘the Holohoax,’ in what Miguel (a content moderator) took as a signal that the man was a Holocaust denier.” [TheVerge]

SPOTLIGHT — It’s Robert Mueller’s Investigation. But Right Behind Him Is Andrew Goldstein — by Noah Weiland and Michael Schmidt: “Mr. Mueller is often portrayed as the omnipotent fact-gatherer, but it is Mr. Goldstein who has a much more involved, day-to-day role in one of the central lines of investigation. Mr. Goldstein, the lone prosecutor in Mr. Mueller’s office who came directly from a corruption unit at the Justice Department, has conducted every major interview of the president’s advisers… And he was one of two prosecutors who relayed to the president’s lawyers dozens of questions about Mr. Trump’s behavior in office that Mr. Mueller wanted the president to answer under oath.”

“As a toddler, Mr. Goldstein accompanied his father, a Republican appointee, to work, until President Jimmy Carter and the attorney general at the time, Griffin B. Bell, pushed the elder Mr. Goldstein to resign, replacing him with a Democrat. Incensed, he talked with his young children at the dinner table about his dismissal, warning of the perils of a politicized Justice Department.” [NYTimes]

LONG READ — The Palestinian-Jewish Author Rocking America’s Literary Scene — by Tzach Yoked: 
“Hannah Lillith Assadi describes herself as dissociated from both Judaism and Islam; even though one year she fasted for the entire month of Ramadan, Judaism played a bigger part in her home life, although even that was minimal. As for many Jewish American families, it amounted largely to a loose connection to Israel, a single trip to the Holy Land, mainly to check it off a list, and a membership at a synagogue where they would go for the High Holidays… When they did attend, her father [Sami] would sometimes come along. Ahlam is much closer to her father than her mother (Susan Assadi) in the book, and he is the more dominant character. But Assadi says that ‘My mother and I speak every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I think she’s a typical Jewish mom — she’s just constantly worried about everything. Me and everything.'” [Haaretz

HOLLYWOOD ― Rare Oscar Win by Israeli Director Has Holy Land Kvelling — by Itay Hod: 
“Israeli morning shows were in full-on celebration mode Monday morning, ditching politics-heavy news for wall-to-wall coverage of filmmaker Guy Nattiv — the first Israeli to take home an Oscar in more than four decades. On Sunday, Nattiv won Best Live Action Short for his movie “Skin” — about a white supremacist father and his young son — giving Israelis a rare and much-welcomed moment of kvelling. ‘It’s all anyone can talk about,’ Amit Cotler, an entertainment reporter for Israel’s Channel 13, told TheWrap. ‘It’s like nothing else is going on in the world right now.'” [TheWrap]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Argentina chief rabbi severely beaten in ‘anti-Semitic’ home invasion — by Joshua Davidovich: 
“Argentina’s chief rabbi was hospitalized in serious condition Monday after being beaten during a home invasion Monday. The attack on Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Once was condemned by Jewish groups as an anti-Semitic attack. The attackers, who entered the home of Davidovich in the pre-dawn hours, shouted ‘We know you are AMIA’s rabbi,’ while beating him… Davidovich’s wife was restrained and the assailants took money and belongings from the home before fleeing,” [ToI]

Police in NYC are investigating the second set of swastikas found in the last three days — by Evan Simko-Bednarski and Augusta Anthony: 
“For the second time in three days, the New York City Police Department is investigating swastikas found scrawled in places where children play. Two swastikas were discovered some time between Sunday night and Monday morning at Brighton Playground in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn… The graffiti was discovered after dozens of swastikas, a Nazi eagle and the words “Hail Hitler” (sic) were found Friday morning drawn in chalk on the pavement of a Queens schoolyard.” [CNN]

An Open Letter To The American Left: Don’t Make The Mistakes We Did In Britain — by Rachel Shabi: 
“I have some advice for Democrats looking to avoid the scorched earth on which UK progressives now stand. First, deal with anti-Semitism on the left — and yes, that’s an actual thing, not a smear concocted by political opponents. In fact, this might be the most important advice, namely: Do not let your opponents define the terms of your response to a very real problem. When accusations of anti-Semitism come from the right, it is all too easy to react defensively, rail against double standards, and cast the issue solely as a weapon of attack rather than a genuine problem… It’s true: Cynical exploitation of anti-Semitism is as real as anti-Semitism itself. But focusing only on this creates a decoy that will divide your movement.”[BuzzFeed]

CAMPUS BEAT — Wharton receives $10 million from 76ers owner and alum Joshua Harris — by Anushree Aneja: 
“Owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and 1986 Wharton graduate Joshua Harris and his wife Marjorie donated $10 million to the Wharton School as part of the university-wide Power of Penn fundraising campaign. The donation will create the Joshua J. Harris Alternative Investments Program to expand research opportunities for students and host events that connect students to alumni and experts in the industry. The new program will focus on research and programming in private equity, hedge funds, venture capital, and investment management.” [DailyPennsylvanian]

Robert Kraft Facing First-Degree Misdemeanors in Prostitution Case — by Ken Belson, Victor Mather 
and Patricia Mazzei: “Three weeks and a day after he watched his team win its sixth Super Bowl championship, Robert K. Kraft was formally charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution… State Attorney Dave Aronberg of Palm Beach County increased the severity of the charges to two first-degree misdemeanors.” [NYTimes• Robert Kraft hugs it out with Tom Brady after prostitution bust[NYPost]

DESSERT — A kosher couple in Silver Spring wanted Chinese — so they bought a restaurant, the Holy Chow — by John Kelly: “The Schreibers were confident they’d find an audience for kosher Chinese food — so confident they took out a home-equity loan — but they knew they couldn’t be the ones doing the actual cooking. Kosher, they know. Chinese, not so much. They advertised in Chinese-language papers for a head chef and, after a few false starts, brought David Sun aboard.” [WashPost]

Babka Makes These Treats Better — by Florence Fabricant: 
“With their new Babka Menschkins, Alicia and Daniel Mekelburg have faced off against Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins doughnut holes, down to the packaging. But the Mekelburgs form their treats with cinnamon babka, a delicious variation that stays fresher longer than the average doughnut hole.”[NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Founder and editor-in-chief of Tablet Magazine, Alana Newhouse… American sociologist now living in Israel, he is a professor emeritus of sociology and Jewish studies at Rutgers University, Chaim Isaac Waxman, Ph.D. turns 78… Billionaire, art collector, philanthropist and political activist, President of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, active in rebuilding Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe, Ronald Lauder turns 75… Las Vegas resident, Chantal Reuss turns 73… Singer and songwriter in multiple musical genres, who has sold over 75 million records, Michael Bolton turns 66… President of Turkey since 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdogan turns 65… Baltimore community activist, Julie Levitt Applebaumturns 62… Member of Knesset since 1988, he is a member of the Likud party, he also serves as Regional Cooperation Minister, Yitzhak “Tzachi” Hanegbi turns 62…

United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey (2009-2017), now a partner at Arnold & Porter and a visiting fellow at Seton Hall Law School, Paul J. Fishman turns 62… President of Perception Neuroscience since 2017 after long stints at Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, Jonathan Sporn, M.D. turns 61… Director of digital research at Lake Research Partners and SVP of digital strategies at turner4D, Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D. turns 57… Chief Planning Officer of the Paramus-based Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Lisa Harris Glass turns 53… Former president of MLB’s Miami Marlins (2002-2017), in 2014 he was a player in the 28th season of Survivor, David P. Samson turns 51… Motivational speaker, focused on anti-bullying, Jon Pritikin turns 46… Brett Michael Kaufman turns 25…

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