Daily Kickoff: Jack Lew to lead US delegation to 70th anniversary of Auschwitz liberation | Alan Gross to attend the SOTU | Miss Universe “photobombs”

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DRIVING THE WEEK: “Bucking Obama, Congress will introduce Iran sanctions bill within days” by Michael Wilner: “Leadership in Congress will introduce a bill within days that would trigger sanctions against Iran if talks over its nuclear program fail to reach an agreement, despite strong warnings from US President Barack Obama last week not to do so. The bill will be “marked up” in committee on Thursday and introduced in the days before with “balanced co-sponsorship” from Democrats and Republicans.” [JPost] • Senate Banking Committee to take up Iran bill [Politico] • “Kirk-Menendez Bill Boosts Pressure to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Program” [WSJ]

BIPARTISAN SENATE DELAGATION IN ISRAEL: Visiting members include Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Joe Donnelly, Sen. Angus King, Sen. John Barrasso, and Sen. Tim Kaine.

ALSO IN ISRAEL: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who had eggs and shoes thrown at him in Ramallah over his support for Israel, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who came to Israel with a business delegation.

ISRAEL LOBBIES FOREIGN POWERS TO CUT ICC FUNDING: “Israel is lobbying member-states of the International Criminal Court to cut funding for the tribunal in response to its launch of an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, the country’s foreign minister said on Sunday.”[Reuters]

—“Short of invading The Hague, not much US can do to thwart ICC probe of Israel” by Rebecca Shimoni Stoil: “Washington is deeply unhappy with the ICC’s decision, and its fervent opposition to the probe extends beyond a simple show of support for Israel. The US is not a member of the international tribunal and has historically been wary of it. America’s relations with the court have demonstrated significant concern that The Hague’s critical lens could be turned toward American military actions as well. The current preliminary examination creates a potentially dangerous precedent for the United States: an ICC probe launched against a Western non-member state.” [ToI]

WHITE HOUSE: “President Obama Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz: President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to Oświęcim, Poland to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 2015. The Honorable Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Department of Treasury, will lead the delegation.”

Members of the delegation include: Stephen D. Mull, U.S. Ambassador to Poland; Crystal Nix-Hines, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; David Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; Dr.Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council; Nicholas Dean, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues; Aviva Sufian, Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services;Israel Arbeiter, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor; Irene Weiss, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivor; David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee.​ [WhiteHouse]

STATE OF THE UNION: Alan Gross, released last month after five year of imprisonment in Cuba, and his wife Judy will sit with the First Lady during the SOTU address. [H/T @MarkKnoller]

IRAN TALKS: “Iran, powers make ‘limited’ progress at nuclear talks, to meet in February” [Reuters;WSJ• Washington Post Editorial: “Iran doesn’t hesitate to use a human pawn as nuclear negotiations go on” [WashPost] •

UPROAR: “What did Obama mean about outside pressure for Iran sanctions? Obama’s not-so-subtle inference, these critics see, is the hideous trope that lawmakers are in the pocket of the “Israel lobby.” The president tiptoed up to that point with the inference left hanging, but Menendez and others clearly got the message. They cannot have genuine fears about the president’s fire sale on American bargaining positions or read the mullahs as contemptuous of the president? It is sadly representative of Obama’s pattern that critics operate in bad faith and with ulterior motives. (The White House previously called sanctions advocates “war mongers.”) In this rare instance, however, Menendez caught him on it and then someone went to the Times.” [WashPost]

ISRAELEX: “How Does American Money Influence Israeli Votes?” by Nathan Guttman:“Israel’s strict campaign finance rules may pose hurdles to wealthy American Jews seeking to weigh in on the state’s upcoming elections. But that has not stopped some from making their voices heard. The few avenues open for activists in the United States wishing to influence the ballot’s outcome include providing limited funds to individual candidates in party primary races and launching nonpartisan, but carefully targeted, get-out-the-vote campaigns during the general election. Both efforts are now reaching their fruition, with primary races completed and with an elaborate voter recruitment campaign being planned by progressive Jewish groups for the March 17 election.” [Forward]

2016 WATCH: Did Rand Paul meet with Sheldon Adelson? According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Last week, Paul met Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO and top GOP contributor Sheldon Adelson in Washington, D.C., where they both attended a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting, according to a GOP source.” [LVRJ

—Republican Jewish Coalition board member Phil Rosen tweeted at us that the Rand-Sheldon meeting rumor is “not true. Neither one was there” [Twitter]

—“Former Bill Clinton [Jewish] advisor predicts ‘tough road’ for Hillary: Top Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf said President Obama won’t let the Clintons retake control of the Democratic Party because “no one likes to get off the stage,” in an interview on “The Cats Roundtable,” host John Catsimatidis’s Sunday radio show on New York AM 970.” [TheHill]

—“What’s next for Martin O’Malley? In the short term, O’Malley will deliver paid speeches, seek a publisher for his book and become a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School – all part of the governor’s plan “to get my family back home and secure.” O’Malley has said he will decide by spring about whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.”[BaltimoreSun]

—South Carolina’s Graham Considers Presidential Run: “Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday that he was considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, becoming the latest potential contender in an increasingly crowded field.“I don’t know where this will go, but I’m definitely going to look at it,” he said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” [NBC NewsNYTimes]

Longread: “Testing Time: Jeb Bush’s educational experiment” by Alec Macgillis in the New Yorker: “The announcement inevitably renewed questions about the desirability of political dynasties and about whether Jeb was being propelled to run, in part, by fraternal rivalry. “There’s always been a friendly competition among the siblings in the family, and that’s just human nature, I suppose,” George P. Bush, Jeb’s older son, told me. As Jeb, who was the governor of Florida for two terms, has followed his brother’s career, he has also stood apart from it. “There is kind of George W.’s world, and then there’s Jeb’s world, and frankly there’s not a lot of intersection,” Mark McKinnon, who was a senior adviser to George W.’s Presidential campaigns, said. Jeb is more introverted and more ideological than both his father, George H. W. Bush, whose politics are driven more by personal associations than by doctrine, and his brother, whose conservatism is more instinctual than considered.” [NewYorker] • “The Bushes, as Distinct and Alike as Brothers Can Be” by Peter Baker [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**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Gary Barnett’s Extell $100M condo sale breaks New York City record[DailyNews] • “Extell, Kushner Companies Close $132M in Financing For New Jersey Purchase”[Observer] • “Rubin Schron to build massive 40-story Coney Island project” [RealDeal] • Alex Sapir to open Zuma this week” [NYPost] • How David Schottenstein and Robbie Friedman’s Viewabill is trying to change law firms’ culture [BizJournal] • Superlawyer Ben Brafman’s role in the Gilbert case[NYTimes] • “Citigroup Israel CEO Sees High-Tech Driving Deals Growth” [Bloomberg] • “Israel’s high-tech boom is double-edged sword” [Reuters]

PAGE6: “Brett Ratner jokes that he’s the son of mogul Bruce Ratner: When Bruce Ratner — mogul and Museum of Jewish Heritage chairman — introduced HBO’s WWII doc “Night Will Fall” at the museum Thursday, he alerted the crowd its producer, Brett Ratner, was “no relation.” But the Hollywood director made a faux emotional revelation when he took the stage. “What you said before wasn’t true,” Brett announced to a crowd including Jean Pigozzi, Albert Maysles and James Toback. “Dad!” Brett added to the other Ratner, “I’m not mad at you for getting my mom pregnant. Drugs were rampant ion the late ’60s! But if you were going to claim me as your son, this is the place to do it.” [NYPost]

Argentine Prosecutor Is Found Dead After Accusing President: “The Argentine prosecutor who last week accused President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of trying to absolve Iranian officials from their involvement in the most deadly terrorist attack in the nation’s history has been found dead in his apartment.” [BloombergWSJ] • David Horovitz: “Who will obtain justice for Alberto Nisman?” [ToI]

ISRAELI STRIKE IN SYRIA KILLS SENIOR HEZBOLLAH FIGURES: “An Israeli helicopter strike in Syria killed a commander from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the son of the group’s late military leader Imad Moughniyah, Hezbollah said, in a major blow that could lead to reprisal attacks. The strike hit a convoy carrying Jihad Moughniyah and commander Mohamad Issa, known as Abu Issa, in the province of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing six Hezbollah members in all, a statement from the group said.” [ReutersNYTimes] • “This Is Not Your Father’s Hezbollah: Corruption in the ranks. Spies in their midst. Discipline problems. How the Syrian war is changing Lebanon’s most infamous militia.” [ForeignPolicy] • “Israeli Arabs Indicted for Forming Cell of Islamic State” [WSJ] • Eli Lake: “Why Obama Can’t Call Charlie Hebdo Terrorists ‘Radical Islamists’ [BloombergView]

VIRAL: “Miss Lebanon gets slammed for selfie with Miss Israel, says she was photobombed” by Colin Daileda: “Miss Lebanon took a selfie with Miss Israel and two other Miss Universe contestants during some downtime last week, and now the seemingly innocent photo of four smiling women has turned into an international incident.” [Mashable]

FOR MLK DAY: “The Haftarah Reading That Inspired Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream'”[TabletMag] • “What Selma Meant to Jews Like My Father” by Susannah Heschel [Forward]

SPORTS BLINK: “Idina Menzel to Sing at Superbowl” by Lior Zaltzman: “Idina Menzel is finally getting the recognition she deserves. It’s been almost two decades since the Jewish diva made herbroadway debut… But it was Disney’s record breaking “Frozen” that catapulted Menzel to rockstar-level fame. Many of us still can’t stop singing her character Elsa’s “Let It Go”… Now Idina Menzel is set to hit another milestone; she’ll be preforming the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Her performance will definitely make this year’s Super Bowl extra Jewish.” [Forward]

DESSERT: “Boutique revolution puts Israeli wines on world map” by Michael Blum: “In the rolling pine-covered hills west of Jerusalem, winemaker Eran Pick checks on the vines he cultivates, plying an ancient trade which has been common to the area since biblical times. “For 3,000 years wine has been produced in these hills,” says Pick, 40, who is trained in a mix of New and Old World winemaking and worked in California and Bordeaux before joining Tzora Vineyards. Established in 1993, Tzora was one of Israel’s first boutique wineries — defined as those which produce fewer than 100,000 bottles per year… Today, Israel boasts more than 320 boutique establishments… “It has also become a sort of trend amongforeign investors and businessmen to own a winery, so many Jewish millionaires, mainly Americans, have either acquired part or full ownership in such ventures.” [Yahoo]


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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