Daily Kickoff: Netanyahu seeks to ease strains with Dems | GOP candidates split on foreign policy | Presidential ‘Shamas’ Denis McDonough

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TOP TALKER: Prime Minister Netanyahu appeared at the Center for American Progress yesterday afternoon assuring the audience that, although he’s nursing a sore throat, he hasn’t lost his voice. The hour long discussion, moderated by CAP President Neera Tanden, focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, progressive values and the economy. [YouTube]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Netanyahu Escapes Liberal Event Without Any Fireworks” [ForeignPolicy] • “Support for Israel Must Be Bipartisan, Netanyahu Tells U.S. Audience” [NYTimes] • “Netanyahu Continues To Divide D.C. During Visit Designed To Mend Ties” [BuzzFeed] • “Benjamin Netanyahu Defends The Israeli Occupation At Progressive Think Tank” [HuffPost• “The Israeli prime minister had an awkward appearance at a top progressive think tank” [BusinessInsider]

SPOTTED in attendance: Amb. Dan Shapiro, Amb. Ron Dermer, former Rep. Jane Harman, former Rep. Howard Berman, AIPAC’s Howard Kohr, David Axelrod, Howard Wolfson, Greg Rosenbaum, Matt Dorf, Rabbi Jack Moline, David Makovsky, Dan Arbel, Michael Koplow, Yarden Golan, Jordana Cutler, Amb. Dore Gold, Mark Regev.

Netanyahu took three questions… including from David ‘the map drawer’ Makovsky on plan B, J Street’s Mort Halperin on Netanyahu’s negotiation posture, and the NJDC’s Greg Rosenbaum on trade and economic ties as evidenced from Hillary’s ‘gefilte fish’ emails.

Interesting to note: According to J Street’s Jessica Rosenblum, the question from Halperin was the first face-to-face encounter that a J Street officer has had with the PM in an official capacity.

REACTIONS: Former Rep. Howard Berman — “I thought he did quite well here. He wasn’t defensive. He made his point strongly, but he did it in the context of progressive values. I thought he helped himself very well. [Netanyahu] is a realist and he knows the Iran deal is a done deal. And, I think, for a long time, the administration was willing to talk about some of the issues, but the Prime Minister – for understandable reasons – until the fight about the deal was over, did not want to engage in that. Now, he does. I have the sense that in the U.S.-Israel relationship, things have calmed down. It was very smart of him for wanting to speak here, and I was very glad that the Center didn’t go along with those who tried to prevent it.”

NJDC’s Greg Rosenbaum: “I was quite pleased with his focus, not only in the comments that came out of the meeting with the President but his speech at JFNA and what he did here.”

From a prominent Dem in the room: “Important visit. By making the visit and speaking so candidly evidenced a strong desire to maintain bipartisan support and didn’t seem to take it for granted. Was very open and responsive. Spoke directly to critics and used facts to rebut some of the worst misconceptions held by progressives toward Israel.”

U.S. Amb. Dan Shapiro: “We had a very serious disagreement; an honest one on an important issue, but that issue is essentially resolved – the Iran nuclear deal is going forward. And all of the same commitments we have to each other – about our security, about the implementation and compliance with the Iran deal, about protecting Israel and ourselves and others from the other threats Iran poses, those are all ongoing efforts and now we are focused, back, on doing that work together. That’s what the President and the Prime Minister did [Monday] in the Oval Office, and, I think, you could hear that in the Prime Minister’s comments in his various speeches around the issue.”

Also on the trip: Netanyahu met with a bipartisan group of Senators at the Capitol. [YouTube]

“Netanyahu starts to smooth things over with Democrats, but tensions remain” by Karoun Demirjian: “This was an important step back into a bipartisan relationship,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday following the meeting between Netanyahu, Senate party and committee leaders, and a few rank-and-file members from both sides of the aisle. “But I think it needs to be an ongoing effort, particularly for the prime minister, to reach out on the Democratic side to many members who want to restore that relationship as I do.” [PowerPostWSJ• “The Politics Of Additional Aid For Israel” [JewishWeek]

JFNA GA: “Benjamin Netanyahu Tells Federations He’ll Protect Religious Pluralism” [JTAYouTube]

Allison Kaplan Sommer: “Did Netanyahu and American Jews Kiss and Make Up at the General Assembly? The prime minister’s remarks hit the notes that the audience was hoping for, but some attendees say the damage caused by the Iran deal fight may take time to repair.” [Haaretz]

Jane Eisner: “After Charm Offensive, Time for Benjamin Netanyahu To Act for Israel’s Sake” [Forward]

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough at the GA — by Jacob Kornbluh: McDonough on Tuesday peppered his remarks with Yiddish and Hebrew phrases in an attempt to present a reset in the U.S.-Israel relationship following the meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. Mentioning the White House tradition of conducting a Passover seder, which has led some to call Obama the first Jewish President, McDonough quipped, “I guess that makes me his shamas (a caretaker). I’ll admit, some of the policy debates I’ve been a part of are Talmudic. In the words of an old Irish saying, it can make me feel a little meshuganah,” he added. [JIYouTube]

HEARD YESTERDAY: RJC — NJDC Debate at the GA: “Republicans predict Iran deal will gain them Jewish votes in 2016” by Lauren Markoe: “Matt Brooks, the head of a national Republican Jewish activist group predicted on Tuesday that dissatisfaction with the Iran nuclear deal will increase the GOP’s share of the Jewish vote in 2016. His Democratic counterpart, Greg Rosenbaum, argued that Jewish Americans, who overwhelmingly vote for his party, are divided over the deal and prioritize other issues.” [RNS]

SCOOP: “Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is now expected to attend the Republican Jewish Coalition presidential forum on December 3rd in DC, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said on Tuesday. Last month, CNN reported that Carson was not planning to attend the upcoming presidential forum… “I’m thrilled to announce that we will have every Republican presidential candidate in attendance,” Brooks said.” [JI]

DEBATE RECAP: “GOP candidates split sharply on foreign intervention and ISIS” by David Fahrenthold: “The fourth GOP presidential debate revealed deep splits among the eight candidates on the stage, especially on the subject of foreign policy — in which Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and billionaire Donald Trump made an unlikely tag team calling for skepticism about U.S. interventions overseas.” [WashPost]

Mentions of Israel: Trump — “And if you think walls don’t work, all you have to do is ask Israel.” Rubio — “For goodness sake, there is only one pro-American free enterprise democracy in the Middle East, it is the state of Israel. And we have a president that treats the prime minister of Israel with less respect than what he gives the ayatollah in Iran.” Kasich — “And in Israel, we have no better ally in the world, and no more criticizing them in public, we should support them.” Cruz — “Under her leadership, we abandon the nation of Israel.”

Tevi Troy emails… “Winners: Fox Business – orderly debate with good questions. Moderators never became the issue. Israel – Heaps of praise from multiple candidates, including Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich. Losers: Department of Commerce – Cruz listed it twice among the 5 departments he wants to eliminate. New debate rule: no more listing of agencies you want to get rid of. Kasich – He spoke more often, but didn’t appear to be saying what GOP voters wanted to hear.”

Michael Fragin emails… “Great substantive debate. quite the opposite of CNBC. I am ranking by category because that is what matters right now… Anti-establishment 1. Cruz 2. Carson 3. Trump 4. Rand Paul… Establishment 1. Rubio 2. Fiorina 3. Kasich 4. Jeb”

“Republicans ‘out to lunch’ with Iran deal proposals, says Lindsey Graham” by Michael Wilner: “The Obama administration has empowered the chief antagonist of the state of Israel with more money, more weapons and a pathway to the bomb, and they think they can fix it by empowering the Israeli military,” Graham said. “Any Republican candidate who wants to police this deal doesn’t know what they’re doing. Any Republican candidate who thinks you can police this deal is out to lunch.” [JPost]

Zack Beauchamp: “How Republicans fell in love with Israel” [Vox]

Marco Rubio Op: “Reported EU Trade Rule Singles Israel Out for Discrimination” [NationalReview]

EU sets guidelines on labelling Israeli settlement goods: “An EU source told the BBC that the labels would have to include the word “settlement”, as under EU consumer law it would be misleading to simply mark them as products from Israel or from the Palestinian territories.” [BBC]

“Boris Johnson’s Palestinian trip cut short after pro-Israel remarks” by Peter Beaumont:“London mayor had been expected to meet a youth group and businesswomen but Palestinian prime minister warned of a security risk” [TheGuardian]

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STARTUP NATION: “Israeli Artificial Intelligence Startup Opens Boston-Area HQ” [BostInno]

VC DISPATCH: “Joe Lonsdale to Raise $400 Million Fund as Formation 8 Partners Part Ways” [WSJ]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: “Bloomberg roasts de Blasio, Cuomo, Trump, Sanders” by Azi Paybarah: “Michael Bloomberg compared Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday night to Cain and Abel, said Ben Carson’s views are like those of a “CEO who doesn’t believe in profits” and described Bernie Sanders as “a Jewish socialist who looks like Christopher Lloyd in ‘Back to the Future’ and sounds like Larry David.” Bloomberg’s speech at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner at the Waldorf Astoria was one of the former mayor’s highest-profile events in New York City since leaving office.” [CapitalNYTranscript]

HOLLYWOOD: “Transparent Season 2 Trailer: My Big Neurotic Jewish Wedding” [Vulture]

BIRTHDAYS: Yuri Milner turns 54… Sen. Barbara Boxer turns 75… Amb. Norm Eisen turns 55… Zev Brenner… Gerald Neiter…

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