Daily Kickoff: Pres. Obama on opening US embassy in Tehran | Bernie Sanders, the Jewish 2016 candidate? | AP on S. Dakota’s Jewish community – 390 ppl

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DRIVING THE DAY: “Palestinian President Says U.N. Security Council Resolution to be Submitted” — by Joshua Mitnick: “The Palestinian president said a draft resolution will be submitted to the United Nations Security Council on Monday calling for an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank within three years… Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerryabout the resolution by phone on Sunday, according to the official Palestinian news service Wafa. The Palestinian draft resolution, which will be submitted by Jordan, calls for a comprehensive peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians within a year. It lays out parameters for a deal such as using the 1967 Green Line as a basis for a border, establishing Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state, and finding a “just” solution for millions of Palestinian refugees outside of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” [WSJ] • “Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat says changes have been made to wording of resolutionto make it more palatable to Security Council members, including U.S.” [IsraelHayom]

—REACTIONS: — Yuval Stenitz: “A vote is expected in the UN on the aggressive, hostile and one-sided resolution regarding a Palestinian state. We must not let it pass quietly and we will need to seriously weigh the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority.” [JPost]

Sen. Lindsey Graham met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Saturday Night: “There will be a violent pushback if there is any effort by the UN Security Council to set the terms of the peace negotiations avoiding direct talks. President Obama said in 2011 that “the United Nations was not the right venue when it came to discussing the peace process and reaching a two state solution.” I agree with what President Obama said in 2011. Any effort by the French, the Jordanians, or anyone to avoid direct negotiations will lead to a violent backlash by the Congress that could include suspending funding for the United Nations. We will not sit back and allow the United Nations to take over the peace process.”[YouTubeTranscript

—On Iran: Graham also told Netanyahu that Congress would follow his lead in pushing for additional sanctions against Iran. “In January of next year, there will be a vote on the Kirk-Menendez bill — bipartisan sanction legislation that says if Iran walks away from the table — sanctions will be reimposed. If Iran cheats, sanctions will be reimposed… I also have legislation with Sen. Corker that I believe will be bipartisan that says if there’s a deal between the P5+1 regarding the Iranian nuclear program then it must come to Congress for our approval before sanctions are lifted permanently as a check and balance against a bad deal.” [Ibid]

—Kirk on Iran: “Sen. Mark Kirk said Sunday that the upper chamber upon returning to work next month under GOP control will likely make imposing new sanctions on Iran a top priority. Kirk said Sunday that Senate Republicans might have enough Democratic support to pass veto-proof legislation on more sanctions, naming Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez, N.J., and Chuck Schumer, N.Y., as potential yeah votes. “The good thing about those votes, they will be really bipartisan votes,” he said. “I have 17 Democrats with me. … We have a shot at even getting to a veto-proof majority in the Senate. That’s what we’ll be working on, a good bipartisan vote.” [FoxNews]

FIRST LOOK: President Obama’s Interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep: “Q: Is there any scenario under which you can envision, in your final two years, opening a U.S. embassy in Tehran? A: I never say never, but I think these things have to go in steps. You know, Cuba is a circumstance in which for 50 years, we have done the same thing over and over again and there hadn’t been any change. And the question was, should we try something different with a relatively tiny country that doesn’t pose any significant threat to us or our allies?​ Tehran is a large, sophisticated country that has a track record of state-sponsored terrorism, that we know was attempting to develop a nuclear weapon — or at least the component parts that would be required to develop a nuclear weapon — that has engaged in disruptions to our allies, whose rhetoric is not only explicitly anti-American but also has been incendiary when it comes to its attitude towards the state of Israel.​”

“Having said that, if we can get a deal on making sure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon — and that deal is possible; we know the terms of what that would look like. If Iran recognizes that it is in its own interests, having already said that they’re actually not interested in developing a nuclear weapon, to go ahead and prove that to the world, so that over time as it’s verified, sanctions are removed, their economy begins to grow, they’re reintegrated into the international community — if we can take that big first step, then my hope would be that that would serve as the basis for us trying to improve relations over time.​.. But in order for us to, I think, open that aperture with respect to Iran, we have to get this nuclear issue resolved — and there’s a chance to do it, and the question’s going to be whether or not Iran is willing to seize it. I think there are elements inside of Iran that recognize the opportunity and want to take it; I think there’s some hardliners inside of Iran that are threatened by a resolution of this because they are so invested politically and emotionally in being anti-American or anti-Western that it’s frightening for them to open themselves up to the world in this way.”

Q: Do you feel that you have sufficient empathy for the Iranians, meaning do you feel you understand what it is they need to get a deal done and is it possible? A: I think we do, because if you look at the negotiations as they’ve proceeded, what we’ve said to the Iranians is that we are willing to recognize your ability to develop a modest nuclear power program for your energy needs — that there’s a way of doing that that nevertheless gives the world assurances that you don’t have breakout capacity. And, you know, Iran suffered from a terrible war with Iraq in which millions of their countrymen were lost. They have legitimate defense concerns, but those have to be separated out from the adventurism, the support of organizations like Hezbollah, the threats they’ve directed towards Israel.” [NPR Transcript]

—“Iranian Army affiliated twitter account: Our soldiers are on Israel’s borders” [JPost] • “Three Iranian Revolutionary Guards killed near Pakistan border” [Reuters] • “Iran Tests Suicide Drone In Military Drill” [AP• “Iran expands ‘smart’ Internet censorship” [Reuters]

ROBERT D. KAPLAN OP: “Warming to Iran: An American-Iranian détente is in both countries’ interest—but it needn’t upset our special relationship with Israel” in The Atlantic’s January/February Issue: “The Israelis must understand much of this. They themselves had a useful relationship with Iran up until the Iranian revolution, and they know the country well. Whatever Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might tell journalists, I don’t think he actually believes that he can permanently prevent some degree of American-Iranian rapprochement. He may, however, be demanding a bribe for his eventual acquiescence: All right, you will have a deal with Iran. Now, what are you going to give me in return? More West Bank settlements, more and cheaper armaments, more intelligence-sharing? And the Obama administration, if it is smart, will give him at least some of what he asks for.”[TheAtlantic]

CONTROVERSIAL NYTIMES OP-ED by Kai Bird: “The notion of a Jewish state is ultimately political poison for the Jewish Diaspora, and specifically for American Jews. If Israel is seen as a Jewish state, then the implication exists that some or all of America’s seven million Jewish Americans “belong” in Israel. They do not. They belong in the United States, and they’re not going anywhere… Their relation to the state of Israel is precisely the same as that of Irish-Americans to Ireland, or Italian-Americans to Italy.” [NYTimes]

—“This year BDS became the number one concern for American Jews” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “BDS has become a central focus for the organized American Jewish community, which views it as a long-term threat. This year new coalitions were formed and efforts to fight it intensified by countering anti-Israel speakers and events on college campuses with others on the pro-Israel side. A new book of nearly three dozen essays, “The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel,” edited by Cary Nelson andGabriel Noah Brahm, has just been published. Prompted in part by last summer’s Gaza war, “we certainly did see an increase in anti-Israel activity in the beginning of the semester but simultaneously we’ve seen a dramatic surge in pro-Israel activism. The movement has never been broader, has never been stronger,” said Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition. “We’re tracking at least 4 or 5 pro-Israel events for every anti-Israel event. Pro-Israel activism by far outweighs anti-Israel activity in the aggregate. There are tons of pro-Israel speakers for every anti-Israel speaker” on a campus, he said.” [Haaretz]

TOP TALKER: “Hamas Bars Gaza Children From Israel Trip” by Fares Akram: “Gaza’s Hamas rulers prevented a group of children from entering Israel on Sunday for a postwar conciliatory trip meant to foster peace, Hamas and organizers said. The 37 children, most of whom have lost a parent in fighting between Hamas and Israel, were to enter Israel on Sunday and spend a week visiting Jewish and Arab communities and a zoo. They were also going to travel to the West Bank for a meeting with the Palestinian president. But a bus carrying the children and their adult chaperones was turned back when it reached the main crossing between Gaza and Israel. Hamas spokesman Eyad Bozum said the decision was made “to protect the culture of our children and our people” from normalizing relations with Israel. He said Hamas would make sure such a trip “will never happen again.” [APNYTimes]

Bizzare Headlines — “Argentina president adopts young Jewish boy as godson to prevent him from turning into werewolf” [NYDailyNews]

**Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Today’s DK is presented by Core18 Leaders Lab. Contact us to present your message in the Daily Kickoff. 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**

2016 WATCH: First Jewish President? New York Magazine feature story — “Bernie Sanders for President? You Frickin’ Kidding Me? He’s a Commie. Is That Even Legal, a Communist President? — A man named Tom in Manchester, New Hampshire” — by Mark Jacobson: “Almost everything Bernie Sanders says, in his incongruous Brooklyn-deli-man accent that dates to his 1940s Flatbush upbringing, is rhetorical. Small talk and false ­ingratiations are not his thing. Like a rabbinical Man in Black, a lone truth teller, Bernie fired the rat-a-tat of bone-chilling bullet points: how nearly 46 million Americans are now in poverty, “more than at any time in the history of our country”; how, “despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act,” some 40 million citizens still will likely have no health insurance… At any given time there are but 100 individuals who can call themselves U.S. senators, and only one of them decorates his office with a large portrait of Eugene V. Debs, the five-time presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America. Then again, there aren’t many states in the Union that would elect someone like Bernie Sanders to the Senate.”

“Good luck prying anything personal beyond the basic bio from Sanders. He does, however, allow that his early life in Flatbush, where he grew up in a three-and-a-half-room apartment on East 26th Street and went to James Madison High School (Chuck Schumer also went there), bore little resemblance to the left-leaning intellectualism often associated with the New York Jew. “My father was a worker,” Sanders says dispassionately. “He came here in 1917 without a penny, didn’t speak English, yet managed to send me and my brother to college. My mother wanted a house of our own, but he couldn’t provide that. I suspect they voted Democratic, but it wasn’t anything that was ever discussed.” Sanders says it was only after leaving Brooklyn to attend the University of Chicago—and when the civil-rights movement hit—that he became politically aware. He began marching and protesting. In the mid-’60s, he lived on an Israeli kibbutz for six months.” [NYMag] • “Sanders: I’ll Decide On Presidential Run By March” [AP]

—The 100 biggest campaign donors of 2014 [Politico] • “Christie Roams, and Popularity Suffers at Home” [NYTimes] • “The GOP’s 2016 problem” [CNN]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Nakash Family Buys Miami Beach’s Setai Hotel for $90M [WSJMiami Herald] • “Documents detail how Leumi aided clients to evade U.S. taxes” [Haaretz] • “An Interview with Startup Nation’s Saul Singer [Technmarketing] • Israeli transportation app Moovit raises $50 million [Haaretz]

TALK OF OUR NATION: Which State Has The Smallest Jewish Community? “South Dakota’s Jewish Community Small, Tight-Knit” by Regina Garcia Cano: “The first Jews to settle in what is now South Dakota established themselves in Deadwood during the Gold Rush more than 150 years ago, finding a niche selling hardware, groceries, dry goods and more. By 1920, the state was home to some 1,300 Jews. That community has dwindled to an estimated 390 people – less than a tenth of 1 percent of South Dakota’s population. No state has fewer. It’s a small, but tightly knit flock that makes do without a permanent rabbi and worries too few children are coming along to sustain it.”… Yosef Sharfstein, a Roving Rabbi, said during an August visit to Sioux Falls. He joked there are more Jewish people on his block in Brooklyn, New York, than all of South Dakota.” [AP]

—“Young Iranian American Jews look to make a difference in civic life” by Jean Merl: “The wide veranda of the Beverly Hills mansion was packed with more than 300 people, the bar was bustling and the caterers were hustling to keep the young, dressed-up crowd supplied with fresh sushi. But this was not just a party. There were officeholders and candidates — and some conspicuously placed voter registration forms. It was the annual “pre-election mixer” put on by 30 Years After, a group of young professionals working to give voice to their fellow Iranian American Jews and to make their mark on local politics. The group formed in 2007, nearly three decades after the 1979 revolution brought a fundamentalist Islamic regime to Iran and caused many Jews to flee their homeland. Its activities include biennial “civic action” conferences, voter registration drives, a fellowship program for young people to develop leadership skills and a “power brunch” series.” [LA Times]

—“For Poker Maven Ari Engel, Yarmulke Is Ultimate Secret Weapon: Rabbi’s Son Scores $5M as Pro Card Shark” by Uriel Heilman: “Ari Engel is homeless. It’s been a decade since he last held a regular job and two years since he gave up his apartment. But don’t shed any tears for him. Over the last 10 years or so, Engel has grossed about $5 million playing poker. The son of an Orthodox rabbi, Engel, 31, has become one of the world’s best professional poker players – ranked No. 23 worldwide by the poker magazine Bluff – and probably the only top-tier player who wears a kipah. … Traditional Jewish law frowns upon gambling, but Engel, who keeps kosher and often wears his kipah during play, says poker isn’t gambling but a learned skill. He concedes there is an element of chance, but no more so than with stock picking.” [Forward]

**A Message From Core18 Leaders Lab: YOU DECIDE — Help empower Jewish innovation. Hundreds applied to Core18’s social entrepreneurship program. 18 ventures were chosen. You decide which ventures get accelerated. Core18 is offering three grants of $1800 to the most successfulcrowdfunding campaigns. Your contribution and support is your vote! Click here to vote! [Jewcer]**


That’s all folks; have a great day!
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