Daily Kickoff: US “undecided” on UN resolution | Senate Confirms Saperstein | Forward’s list of Jewish non-profit CEO salaries | “Mensch on a Bench”

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DRIVING THE DAY: “Palestinian U.N. statehood bid at heart of Kerry-Netanyahu talks” by Lesley Wroughton: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before talks on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry he would defy any U.N. move to “dictate” a timeframe for withdrawal from land Palestinians seek for a state. Before the two convened in Rome, Israel put the United States on notice it expected Washington to exercise its Security Council veto against any resolutions setting atimeframe. U.S. officials have indicated that Washington did not find the Palestinian draft acceptable, but said that with matters still fluid, it was premature to take a position now on any particular Security Council resolution.” [Reuters] • “Washington undecided on U.N. resolution for Palestinian state” [Reuters]

AP: “Mideast Peace Push At UN Puts US In Tough Spot” by Bradley Klapper: “The U.S. isreluctant to do anything right now that can be perceived as interference in Israel’s election while being pressed by close allies to endorse an Israeli-Palestinian negotiating framework that largely adheres to U.S.policy. A veto would upset Palestinians and perhaps some Arab allies frustrated by years of diplomatic gridlock. Several are fighting alongside the U.S. right now against the Islamic State group. A veto would also risk angering France as well as other European countries that want to broaden peace efforts after countless U.S.-led mediation failures. America’s credibility as a peace broker could be damaged as a result.”

“At a White House meeting last week, Obama’s top foreign policy aides were unable to agree on an approach to France’s potential resolution. Kerry suggested steering away from the effort at a time of increased Mideast violence and with the Israeli election a couple of months away, according to a U.S.official familiar with the discussion. Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, supported engaging allies to see if a compromise is possible, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.” [AP] • “Palestinians Seek End-Of-Occupation Vote This Week” [AP]

SAMANTHA POWER PROFILE: “In a 2002 interview on “Conversations with History,” a television series filmed in Berkeley, Power described a hypothetical need for a “mammoth protection force” to police a peace accord between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But after she began working as an adviser on Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign, in 2007, his critics quoted that interview in accusing him of harboring hostility toward Israel, and Power disavowed her comments. In a departure for a journalist, she quietly asked the host of the interview to remove the video from the Web, though portions of it still circulate online. To repair the damage, she subsequently approached Shmuley Boteach, a celebrity rabbi who ran for Congress in New Jersey, Abraham Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League, and other prominent defenders of Israel, who endorsed her U.N. nomination.”

“She knew that during her confirmation hearing her record, her vision of America’s role in the world, and her transformation from an activist to a political figure would receive intense scrutiny. Tom Nides, a former Deputy Secretary of State, told her that her chance of being confirmed was twenty per cent, at best. When Power visited Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, he consulted a page of notes marked with a highlighter. She recalled, “Everything I’d ever written had just been pulled out and reduced, basically, to the things in my search that were the most cringe-worthy, things that you’d just say out of the corner of your mouth in a church basement somewhere, or whatever—they’re not your considered view.”​[NewYorker]

IRAN TALKS: “Sensing a Deal on Sanctions, Iran Is Bullish” by Thomas Erdbrink in the New York Times: “Ms. Moghimi’s unyielding optimism, shared by many top businesspeople here, was dented briefly last month when nuclear negotiators agreed to a second extension of the talks without even a framework for further negotiations. But it is almost an article of faith in business circles that the latest extension is only the postponement of an inevitable thaw between Iran and the rest of the world.”[NYTimes]

ISRAELEX: “Likud Court Reverses Pro-Netanyahu Vote To Move Primaries Forward: Likud’s internal court accepted a petition led by MK Moshe Feiglin and ruled against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to move up the date of the party’s leadership race from January 6 to December 31 – the same day the party is due to vote on the its slate for the March 17 general elections.​” [Haaretz]

2016 WATCH: “Rubio talks 2016 with donors” by Anna Palmer: “Sen. Marco Rubio has given his top fundraising lieutenants the most direct signal to date that he is seriously weighing a 2016 presidential bid. The Florida Republican last week walked the roughly two dozen donors — some of whom had raised $200,000 for him — through the pros and cons of running for Senate or the White House in 2016. He told them their fundraising prowess was “needed more now than ever” at the meeting at the W Hotel last Wednesday, according to multiple sources. Rubio said he expected to make a decision in the first quarter of 2015.” [Politico] • “2016 Hopefuls Honing Attacks Against Hillary Clinton” [NYTimes] • “John Kasich’s crusade: Behind the potential 2016 candidate’s long-shot bid for a balanced budget amendment” [Politico] • “Iowa caucuses: 50 most wanted Democrats” [DMRegister] • Warren: “I’m not currently running for president” [NPR]

STATE VISIT: Dr. Ben Carson has landed in Tel Aviv. Follow his trip via twitter @RealBenCarson

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Former President George W. Bush delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 90th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation at the Waldorf Astoria. The dinner honoredMichael GamsonJudith Weiss, and Anita Zucker. According to the New York Post, Bush made an unannounced visit to the 9/11 museum prior to the YU dinner.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Sen. Bob Menendez, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, and Greenberg Traurig’s Philip Sellinger will be honored at the Rabbinical College of America’s National Founders’ Dinner at the Hilton Meadowlands Hotel.

SENATE CONFIRMS RABBI DAVID SAPERSTEIN: “On Friday, Saperstein in a 61-35 vote won confirmation as ambassador at large for international religious freedom. He will be the fourth person and the first non-Christian to serve in the post. The ambassador travels the world making the case for minorities facing persecution or discrimination. In recent years, ambassadors have taken up the causes of Muslims in Burma and Christians in China and Sudan, among other cases.” [JTA]

—“For 40 years, Mr. Saperstein has been director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, lobbying on a wide range of civil rights and social justice issues. His supporters hoped the appointment would elevate the importance of religious freedom in American foreign policy… Mr. Saperstein has also worked closely with Christian conservatives to protect religious liberty. Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, described him as “a passionate and capable defender of international religious freedom.” [NYTimes]

**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**

PEACE INC: “Building a shared Jerusalem: One design firm takes up the task” by Christa Case Bryant: “US Ambassador Martin Indyk asked to see their plans, which have also been shared with top Israeli leaders – including some on the right. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even showed one design of a pedestrian crossing between the two halves of the city to his counterpart, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. They even created an interactive online map for the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington, where users can examine the patchwork of Jerusalem neighborhoods and experiment with drawing their own borders for the city. Their proposals strive to create minimal disruption to the city’s fabric while ensuring high security. But their mission goes beyond design, to helping others reimagine a peaceful Jerusalem.” [CSMonitor] • In the meantime: “After Unrest, Barriers Go Up in Jerusalem” [WSJ] • “Israeli hip-hop, a political tool for a divided country” [TheGuardian]

STARTUP NATION: “Why Israel is the ideal place to teach entrepreneurs how to succeed” by Rick Spence in the Financial Post: “If you wanted to teach a group of high-achieving Canadian students to become more focused and passionate entrepreneurs, where in the world would you send them? Toronto’s York University knows where: Israel. Last summer, 21 students spent three weeks in the Holy Land, learning essential lessons about business, life and global markets… In Israel they discovered an infectious spirit of get-’er-done, live-for-today optimism. “They don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” says Charu Jaiswal. “I came away with a sense of urgency; that if I want to follow my dreams, I shouldn’t wait. I should take charge of my life and really live in the now.” [FPost] • “The scale-up nation” [Economist]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Israeli Billionaire Benny Steinmetz Challenges Prosecutors’ Request”[Bloomberg] • “Leon Black’s Apollo Nearing PetSmart Deal in Year’s Biggest U.S. LBO” [Bloomberg] •“Gary Barnett’s New Times Square mega tower one step closer to becoming reality” [DailyNews] • “Aby Rosen’s RFR to tap Ori Allon’s Urban Compass for 61-story tower” [RealDeal]

HOLLYWOOD: “The man known as Hollywood’s biggest a-hole” by Maureen Callahan:“Hollywood producer Scott Rudin became as famous as one of his movie stars last week when hackers leaked vicious e-mails between him and Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal, in which he called Angelina Jolie “a minimally talented spoiled brat” with a “rampaging spoiled ego.” He also made racially charged comments about President Obama, suggesting that Rudin and Pascal ask if Obama enjoyed a slew of films about slavery, adding, “I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”​ While Rudin’s talent has never been in question, his abuse is ­legendary.​”

“I was a Jewish kid from Long Island who didn’t want to be a Jewish kid from Long Island,” Rudin once said. He was raised middle class in Baldwin, has one younger brother and never talks about his mother. In 1993, he told The New York Times that his father sold men’s clothing, but “I don’t know where he works now.” ­Obsessed with show business from childhood, Rudin dropped out of high school to take grunt workwith Broadway producers.​.. In 1996, Spy magazine called him “The Biggest A–hole in Hollywood” — a title he still maintains.​” [NYPost]

FORWARD’S ANNUAL REPORT: “How Much Are Our Non-Profit CEOs Making?” “The Forward’s sixth annual survey of Jewish non-profit leaders is presented here as a public service. The information on salary, revenue and the like is supposed to be available to everyone — that’s part of the civic contract charities make in exchange for not paying taxes — but nowhere else will you find this level of detail, analysis and context.” — Top Ten: 1. Frederick Lawrence; Brandeis University 2Richard Joel; Yeshiva University 3. Marvin Hier; Simon Wiesenthal Center 4. Marshall Levin; AmericanCommittte for the Weizmann Institute 5. Stephen Hoffman; Jewish Federation of Cleveland 6.Abraham Foxman; Anti-Defamation League 7. Jerry Silverman; JFNA 8. Eric Goldstein; UJA New York 9. Howard Kohr; AIPAC 10. Matthew Brooks, Republican Jewish Coalition. [Forward]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Brenham Synagogue to Find New Life in Texas” by Corrie Maclaggan: “In Leon Toubin’s dreams, Jewish life would again be vibrant in this city where he and his wife, Mimi, care for B’nai Abraham, the synagogue where generations of his family worshiped. But Jews are not moving to Brenham, so Mr. Toubin has decided to cut B’nai Abraham’s roots so that the synagogue may bloom anew. He has arranged to move the state’s oldest Orthodox synagogue 90 miles west, to Austin, which does have a thriving Jewish community. The 121-year-old white wooden building could be trucked to the Dell Jewish Community Campus as soon as Hanukkah, which begins Tuesday evening.”[NYTimesTexasTribune

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Jewish lobby in US bats for India” [Times of India• “The Jews of Arabia”[BBC] • “U.S. Jewish groups back Muslim teen in case against Abercrombie & Fitch” [Haaretz] • “State Aid Formula Said to Hurt in a District Where Most Go to Yeshivas” [NYTimes]

DESSERT: WSJ FRONT PAGE – “In Time for Hanukkah, the Humble Latke Gets an Extreme Makeover” by Lucette Lagnado: “The humble, centuries-old dish, popular among Eastern European Jews, is made with three basic ingredients: eggs, potatoes and flour, with maybe some onion thrown in. These days, Jewish gourmets are determined to give it a makeover. “My grandparents are rolling over in their grave,” says kosher food maven Jamie Geller. Ms. Geller can rattle off all the newfangled latkes thatalign with one trendy diet or another. There are vegan latkes, made without any eggs, and low-carb latkes. There are gluten-free latkes. There are even “Paleo” latkes—named after the fashionable Paleolithic Diet—and which are both low carb and Gluten free, and don’t allow the use of white potatoes. (Sweet potatoes are permitted, but there is some debate about that too.)” [WSJ]

“Mensch on a Bench: How This Toy Went From Kickstarter to ‘Shark Tank’ in Two Years” by Nina Zipkin in Entrepreneur Magazine: “Two years ago, father of two Neal Hoffman and his son Jacob were doing some holiday shopping, when the little boy asked if they could get an “Elf on the Shelf.” Hoffman jokingly replied “‘Dude, we’re Jewish. You can’t have an elf on a shelf; you can have a mensch on a bench.'” Hoffman — who spent six years working at Hasbro — mulled over the name and his imagination started to run wild. He came up with a backstory for his potential “Mensch on a Bench” idea, envisioning him as a kindly man who volunteered to watch over the oil in the temple for the eight days for the Maccabees. He couldn’t stop thinking about his concept. He quickly wrote an accompanying book manuscript focused on the tale of Hanukkah to go along with the toy. It was Mensch on a Bench all day, every day.” [EntrepreneurMag]

That’s all folks; have a great day!
**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**


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