Daily Kickoff: Chris Christie flies Air Adelson | ADL attacks RNC over Israel trip | Huckabee on serving “bacon wrapped shrimp in deli to Jews”

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PRO-ISRAEL POWERHOUSE TO RESIGN: “John Baird to resign as Foreign Affairs Minister, sources say: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will resign from his position in the Harper cabinet as early as Tuesday. Sources say that Baird, who has served in several senior portfolios in Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s cabinet, has told members of his staff that he won’t run again and will be resigning this week. Baird represents the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean and was nominated last March as the Conservative candidate in the newly created riding of Nepean for the next federal election, which must be held by Oct. 19 at the latest. However, sources close to Baird say that after 20 years in public office, it was simply time to seek other opportunities. His experience and profile are expected to make him attractive to the private sector.” [CBCTheStar]

LESS PRO-ISRAEL CANADIAN ALSO RESIGNS: “Head of U.N. inquiry into Gaza conflict to quit over Israeli bias claim” by Thomas Escritt: Canadian academic William Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.” [Reuters] • @Yair_Rosenberg: “Schabas Shalom!” [Twitter]

TOP TALKER: “Right attacks RNC over Israel trip” by Ben Schreckinger in Politico: “A week before RNC members were set to depart Saturday on a trip to Israel sponsored by a pair of evangelical groups active in right-wing politics, officials at the ADL privately reached out to the RNC with a warning. While they appreciated the interest in the Jewish state, it would be “inappropriate” for committee members to travel there with the American Family Association and the American Renewal Project — groups known for “incendiary and bigoted” language attacking gays, Mormons and Muslims, said Stacy Burdett, the ADL’s government affairs director.”

“The trip — a nine-day expenses-paid excursion to explore Israeli history and issues of religious liberty, according to one participant — nevertheless proceeded as planned. Now, criticism of the trip, which has been mounting for days among left-leaning groups and journalists, is spreading across the political spectrum. In interviews with POLITICO on Monday, evangelical leaders and right-leaning groups said the national party showed poor judgment at best in associating with “extremists,” as evangelical Alan Noble described the groups… Lane and the AFA have also interacted with candidates in the emerging Republican presidential field. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul traveled to Israel with Lane in 2013 on a trip sponsored by the AFA. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee traveled in Europe with Lane in November, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has attended a Lane event in Iowa in 2013.” [Politico]

AJ SpikerAdvisor to Rand PAC, Past Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, tweets — “In Israel with my friends David and Cindy Lane” [Twitter]

—“U.S. Christian group hosting Israel trip retains staffer after alleged hate comments” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “The American Family Association, a Christian group taking 60 Republican National Committee members to Israel on an all-expenses paid trip, is distancing itself from a former spokesman who has made statements that many critics describe as racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. The former longtime spokesman and director of issue analysis, Bryan Fischer, has also said America is a Christian nation in which Jews and Muslims are not entitled to constitutional protection for their religious expression.” [HaaretzMSNBC]

—Jewish Dems email… “We are pleased to see reports on MSNBC that the American Family Association has chosen to no longer employ Bryan Fischer, whose comments were frequently insulting to minorities, including when he blamed the Holocaust on homosexuals and stated that Christianity is the only religion protected by the first amendment. However, we continue to call on Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee to cancel their upcoming trip to Israel with the AFA.”

2016 WATCH: “In Christie’s Career, a Fondness for Luxe Benefits When Others Pay the Bills” by Kate Zernike and Michael Barbaro: “As Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey waited to depart on a trade mission to Israel in 2012, his entourage was delayed by a late arrival: Mr. Christie’s father, who had accidentally headed to the wrong airport. A commercial flight might have left without him, but in this case, there was no rush. The private plane, on which Mr. Christie had his own bedroom, had been lent bySheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and supporter of Israel.”

“King Abdullah of Jordan picked up the tab for a Christie family weekend at the end of the trip. The governor and two staff members who accompanied him came back to New Jersey bubbling that they hadcelebrated with Bono, the lead singer of U2, at three parties, two at the king’s residence, the other a Champagne reception in the desert.” [NYTimes]

“Christie clarifies comments on measles vaccine after call for ‘balance’ causes stir” by Phillip Rucker: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walked back comments he made Monday morning calling for “balance” on the measles vaccine debate to allow for parental choice, asserting that “there is no question kids should be vaccinated.” Earlier Monday, Christie waded into the vaccination debate during his visit to the United Kingdom, telling reporters in Cambridge that he believes U.S. government must “balance” public health interests with parental choice. In a break with President Obama, Christie said parents should have “some measure of choice” about immunizing their children from measles and other viruses and diseases.” [WashPost] • “Rand Paul on Vaccines: ‘Most of Them Ought to Be Voluntary'”[Bloomberg]

—Top Tweet: @HillaryClinton: “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest” [Twitter

RoundUp: “New York billionaires size up 2016 presidential candidates” [DailyNews] • “Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina: “We Want Hillary Clinton To Be Next Potus” [RCP] • “Hillary eyes Brooklyn for campaign HQ” [TheHill] • “Fighting the Living-Room War with the ‘Draft Warren’ Movement” [Bloomberg] • “Jeb Bush to CPAC” [NR] • “Bush heads to Beltway in search of cash”[Politico] • “O’Malley headed to Iowa in March” [BaltimoreSun] • “Eyeing 2016, Walker adds veteran operatives to political team” [CNN] • “How Rand Paul bombed at Koch brothers gathering?” [Politico]

—Real Headline: “Mike Huckabee: Changing stance against gay marriage would be like ‘asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli’” [DailyNews]

TOP-OP: Bret Stephens — “A Speech Netanyahu Must Give” in the WSJ: “The president collects hard favors from allies and repays them with neglect and derision. He is eager to accommodate the political needs of authoritarian leaders like Iran’s Hasan Rouhani but has no use for the political needs of elected leaders like Mr. Netanyahu. He believes that it is for other statesmen to stake their political lives and risk their national future for the sake of a moral principle—at least as Mr. Obama defines that principle. As for him, the only thing sacred is his own political convenience. This is the mentality of a peevish and callow potentate.”

“Above all, Mr. Netanyahu needs to speak because Israel cannot expect indefinite support from the U.S. ifit acts like a fretful and obedient client to a cavalier American patron. The margin of Israel’s security is measured not by anyone’s love but by the respect of friends and enemies alike. By giving this speech, Mr. Netanyahu is demanding that respect. Irritating the president is a small price to pay for doing so.” [WSJ]• “Obama’s offensive against Netanyahu backfires” by Marc A. Thiessen [WashPost]

—John Hudson: “In a blind test, I don’t think I could tell the difference between the WSJ and WaPo editorial pages on foreign policy” [Twitter]

—Richard Cohen Op on anti-Semitism in Europe: “The title of my recently published book is “Israel: Is It Good for the Jews?” When I started writing it, I did not know how I was going to answer that question. The more I delved into the subject, the more I read and did research, the more I concluded that the answer is yes. The recent events in Paris make me even surer.” [WashPost] • “Rebel Chief: Ukraine run by ‘miserable’ Jews” [Yahoo]

WELCOME BACK: “Jordan Sends Envoy Back to Israel as Tensions Ease” (and Jordanian leaders visit DC for U.S. bilateral assistance signing): “Jordan said on Monday that it was sending its ambassador back to Israel, three months after he was recalled in protest of what the Jordanians called Israeli violations at a contested holy site in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel welcomed the decision.” [NYTimes]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 9:45am, Sec. John Kerry meets with Jordanian King Abdullah at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC. At 10:15am, Sec. Kerry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh participate in the signing of a three year Memorandum of Understanding for U.S. bilateral assistance to Jordan.. Wendy Sherman briefs the House and Senate Leadership Chairs and Rankings on Iran, on Capitol Hill.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: “Joan Rivers will be honored at the annual gala for the Jewish newspaper the Algemeiner Journal on Tuesday night at Capitale, when Melissa Rivers will accept the ‘Warrior for Truth’ award on behalf of her late mother. The Algemeiner’s ‘Liberty’ award will be presented to Donald Trump, while other attendees will include Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, Israel’s Ambassador Ido Aharoni, artist Ron Agam and p.r. guru Ronn Torossian.” [NYPost]

**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: “Rise and fall of a (Jewish) commodities powerhouse” by Gregory Meyer in the Financial Times: “Phibro is to be dismantled, ending a 114-year-long run for a former giant of the commodities markets that started in a Hamburg living room and became rich enough to take over a Wall Street investment bank… Julius Philipp started as a metal merchant in 1901 from his family’s Hamburg flat. In 1909, his brother Oscar moved to London where he founded the first company named “Philipp Brothers” at 118 Leadenhall Street. In 1914, one of Oscar’s apprentices opened an office in New York. Julius Philipp remained in Hamburg until the rise of the Nazis forced his family to move to Amsterdam. He died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944, according to the Waszkis company history.”

“The New York office eventually became Philipp Brothers headquarters. For decades it was run by German-Jewish immigrants who cultivated talent by hiring lehrlings, or apprentices. “A trader lives by his wits,” Ludwig Jesselson, Phibro’s longtime chief, used to say… Phibro became a proving ground for senior figures in the commodities industry including the late Marc Rich, the trader and pardoned fugitive who made a stormy exit in 1974. The company Rich founded became Phibro’s bitterest rival and the foundation of Glencore.” [FT]

THOUGHT OF THE DAY… From Seth Klarman: “We don’t deal in absolutes. We deal in probabilities.” Everyone does actually, but few people actually realize this.” [Twitter]

REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: “Trustee: Billionaire Rennert bilked firm to build $250M mansion[NYPost] • “Joe Sitt’s Thor in $30M contract for Harlem rental” [RealDeal• “Chetrit Closes on $191.9M Purchase of Hotel Carter” [WSJ] • “Will Adelson compete with MGM/AEG arena?” [LSRJ]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli medical marijuana creates buzz but no high–will it go global?” by Anne-Marie O’Connor: “Israel has become a world leader in science on the medical uses of marijuana, and its producers could become major exporters of medical cannabis, experts say. But so far, the government has allowed them to export only their knowledge — not the actual product.” [WashPost]• “In a bid to entice tastemakers, Israel’s Sodastream gets a new look and gourmet flavors”[FastCompany• “Israel’s JVP, China’s Shengjing360 launch $1M innovation contest” [JPost] • “Israel 5th in Bloomberg’s tech ranking, ahead of US, UK” [ToI] • “Four reasons investors aren’t flocking to Israel” [Haaretz] • “Only in Israel — An App for Your Pet Dog” [INN

ISRAELEX: “Netanyahu hires Republican strategist for election campaign: Vincent Harrisis an American conservative political strategist, considered to be the Republican Party’s new media wonder child. In the past, he worked with Senator Ted Cruz, an avid critic of US President Barack Obama. Interestingly, three weeks ago Harris posted a picture on his Instagram account with members of the Likud party.Harris was in Israel advising the Likud party’s new media team, something the party confirmed.” [i24]

—“American media guru denies Republicans sent him to help Benjamin Netanyahu re-election campaign” by Gil Hoffman: “Harris told The Jerusalem Post that he started working for the Likud more than six weeks ago, just like Republican strategist John McLauglin and just like other American strategists had worked for Netanyahu in other elections going back to 1996. He denied any connection between the senators and his employment with the Likud. “I have not spoken to Senator Cruz or to Mitch McConnell about my job here,” he said. “My Israeli work is completely separate from my work in the US, so what is being reported is not true. I love Israel, and I am excited to be here to help the Likud and the prime minister use digital media in an effective and forward-looking manner.” [JPost]

RISING STAR: “Not yet 30, Israel’s youngest lawmaker is having a moment: Video of Stav Shaffir’s impromptu ‘Who Is a Zionist’ speech goes viral after social justice activist catapults to No. 2 spot in Labor primary.” by Judy Maltz: “It’s not just the big messy mane of red hair that distinguishes this high-energy lawmaker from her Knesset colleagues, who often refer to her as the gingit, Hebrew for “redhead.” At 29, Shaffir is the youngest member of the outgoing Knesset and the youngest woman ever to serve as an Israeli lawmaker. If the Zionist Camp ends up forming the next government, which recent opinion polls indicate is a distinct possibility, she could very well become the youngest woman ever to sit in the Israeli cabinet.” [Haaretz]

—David Horovitz interviews Stav Shaffir: “Never mind ‘Bottlegate.’ Israel’s youngest female MK alleges systematic corruption involving tens of billions a year, going back decades, in the state budget. Naturally, she insists, her party will root it out if elected. And ensure a better future for Israel.” [ToI]

SPORTS BLINK: “Netanyahu-Obama Rift Fires Up Super Bowl Party in Tel Aviv” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s protocol-bending invitation to address Congress took Israel’s election campaign deep onto the American political field. This week it reached the Super Bowl. Yair Lapid, the finance minister Netanyahu fired for “subversion,” threw a Super Bowl party in Tel Aviv, trying to take advantage of a widening rift between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama to win votes of dual American-Israeli citizens to help topple the Israeli leader… In Tel Aviv last night, Lapid worked the room with Dov Lipman, a U.S.-born rabbi who immigrated to Israel from Silver Spring, Maryland, and Ofer Shelah, a veteran TV sports reporter, running-mates from Yesh Atid, founded three years ago.” [Bloomberg]

—“Israeli satirical TV show returns just in time for elections” by William Booth and Ruth Eglash: “The hit Israeli satirical TV show “A Wonderful Land” is back on the air for a 12th season, and the comedians say the timing is perfect. Meaning: there is yet another Israeli election, and the colorful cast of real-life Israeli leaders are getting skewered in skits on a show described as the “Saturday Night Live” of the Holy Land, whose actors impersonate with wicked aim the country’s often over-the-top political class.​”[WashPost]

LONGREAD: “The Tehran hostages’ endless siege: A quest for compensation and closure” by Frances Stead Sellers in the Washington Post: “The remaining hostages — 13 of the 52 have died — are keenly aware that they can’t recover lost time, so they are looking with increasing urgency for another kind of restitution. They have turned to Congress in a bid for compensation for their captivity — for solitary confinement and mock firing squads, for beatings with rubber hoses and being hung, like laundry, over open elevator shafts, or run, blindfolded, into trees. And for the toll all this took on their families.”

“They’ve pinned their hopes on legislation sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia (home state of three former hostages), which “almost made it,” the Republican senator says, into December’s mammoth spending bill… They’re watching negotiations underway between the United States and Iran, wondering whether there will finally be an end to the diplomatic standoff prompted by their horrifying ordeals — and how that might affect their cause.” [WashPost] • “U.S. allies puzzled by March deadline for Iran deal”[AlMonitor] • “US and Iran moving closer to nuclear deal, EU diplomats tell Israeli officials” [JPost] • “Iran sweetens oil contracts to counter sanctions and price plunge” [Reuters


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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