Daily Kickoff: Arab-Israeli Knesset Member ditches Conference of Presidents | NBA’s new Israeli highlight-making machine | Dolph Schayes dies at 87

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2016 WATCH: “GOP preparing for contested convention” by Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger: “Weighing in on that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime Republican power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said.” [WashPost] • “What If Republicans Can’t Pick A Nominee Before Their Convention?” [FiveThirtyEight] • “The Secret Plan To Nominate Mitt Romney From The Convention Floor” [BuzzFeed]

Quick Take: “Mitt Romney’s top strategist thinks Donald Trump will finish 4th in Iowa” [WashPost]

Amy Chozik & Maggie Haberman: “To Democrats, Donald Trump Is No Longer a Laughing Matter” [NYTimes]

“Dem. Congressman Steve Israel: Trump’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Similar To WWII Anti-Semitism In U.S.” by Andrew Kaczynski: “I think it’s simply un-American, as someone’s who’s Jewish, I have read the debates during the Holocaust where people said we ought to ban Jews from coming because they were communists and they were socialists and they would take over our government,” the New York congressman said on L.I. in the AM. “Every ethnic group in America has at one time in our history faced that kind of rhetoric, and the American people have always rejected that kind of rhetoric and we need to do it again.” [BuzzFeed

David Brooks on Ted Cruz: “A friend once joked that the journalist has the ultimate power: The power to choose who he wants to be co-opted by. Ted Cruz is surging as the figurehead of the rich and interlocked Counter Establishment. And he gets to do it while pretending that he is antiestablishment. That’s a nice trick. Even a Machiavellian one.” [NYTimes]

Ted Cruz and his Chief of Staff Paul Teller lit the menorah at the Senator’s staff holiday party last night [Facebook]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: The Israeli Embassy in D.C. held its annual Hanukkah reception last evening. Amb. Ron Dermer, Nathan Diament, Ron Halber, Art Abramson and Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt helped light the menorah. According to one JI reader — “Long security lines but event started remarkably on time… Food was plentiful but limited to very fresh but not completely cooked latkes, traditional large sufganiot and apple cinnamon donuts and chocolate frosted eclairs pretending to be sufganiot.” [Pic]

Spotted: William Daroff, Heidi Krizer Daroff, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, Sam Glaser, Ron Halber, Steve Rakitt, Noa Meir, Ann Lewis, Barney Frank, Batya Steinlauf, Ron Kampeas, Michael Wilmer, Hilary Krieger, Natan Sachs, Mark Mellman, Jacob Baime, Judy Novenstein, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, Dan Arbell, Laura Cutler, Aviva Kempner, Nathan Diament, Alex Traiman, Noah Pollak, Alan Ronkin, Art Abramson, Cookie Blitz, Alyza Lewin, Mark Levin, Richard Straus, Susan Becker, Rabbi Hannah Goldstein, Jason Langsner, Jennifer Rheuban, Tami Wolf, Marvin Feuer, Matt Weiner, Danny Schwartz.

NYC SCENE: Israel’s Consul General in NY Ido Aharoni held a Hanukkah reception at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan. The crowd expressed their disappointment as the Aharoni announced this will likely be the last Hanukkah event he’s hosting in his capacity as Consul General as he expects to leave his post next July after a nearly six year term. Addressing recent global events, Aharoni said, “We are here tonight not to kvetch, but to celebrate the power of the light that can defeat the darkness.” [Pic]

Spotted: Deputy Consul General Amir Sagie, NJ Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, Michael Miller, Malcolm Hoenlein, Eric Goldstein, David Pollock, Gale Brewer, Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Lauren Greenbuam, Scott Maurer, Dovid Lobl, Jeff Leb, Gabriella Cook, Jacqueline Kelly, Jason Koppel, Yoel Lefkowitz, Pinny Ringel, Yaacov Behrman and Eve Stieglitz.

HAPPENING SUNDAY: Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin will be concluding his visit to the U.S. by giving a policy speech at The HaaretzQ conference in New York at the Roosevelt Hotel on Sunday morning… Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon will host President Rivlin for a menorah lighting ceremony at the Pierre Hotel… Yeshiva University will hold their annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation at the Waldorf Astoria with guest speaker NY Governor Andrew Cuomo…

TOP TALKER: “Israel’s Arab Party Leader Ditches Meeting with Jewish Group in NY” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Arab-Israeli Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the United Arab List, cancelled a scheduled meeting with Jewish community leaders in New York after he realized that the Jewish Agency and other ‘Zionist’ entities share the same premises.” [JewishInsiderJTA• Natan Sharansky responds [Facebook]

“Netanyahu wants Palestinian violence linked to ‘radical Islam’” by William Booth: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped up his rhetorical campaign to convince the world that the surge in Palestinian violence here is not born of frustration against Israel’s decades-long military occupation, but is instead the work of radical Islam.” [WashPost]

Danny Danon Op: “What the US can learn from Israel on facing domestic terror” [NYPost]

Shmuel Rosner: “Let Israel Fight ISIS” [NYTimes]

Washington Post Editorial: The Global War Against NGOs — “In the early 1990s, foundations supported by the billionaire George Soros extended grants to teachers, scientists and others set adrift by the Soviet collapse, supporting projects such as writing honest history textbooks, assuring the survival of Russia’s thick literary journals and connecting universities to the Internet. Now, in an act of supreme ingratitude, Russia under President Vladi­mir Putin has blacklisted the Soros foundations as “undesirable” organizations, effectively forcing them to halt grant-making.” [WashPost]

**Good Friday 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: “The federal ‘rescue’ is failing Bernie Madoff’s victims” [NYPost] • “Israel’s SimilarWeb buys U.S.-based Quettra” [Reuters] • “Political Power Couple Alyssa Mastromonaco and David Krone Make Moves to Tribeca” [Observer]

STARTUP NATION: “The NBA’s Israeli highlight-making machine goes live” by Kwame Opam: “The NBA sees a massive opportunity in creating more content for fans looking for highlights from not just superstars like Curry, but from any player in any game. To accomplish that, the league is collaborating with Israeli company WSC Sports to do what human curation can’t. The tech is called AVGEN, and starting today it’ll allow NBA teams to automatically create highlights in near-real time.”[TheVerge]

“Dolph Schayes, a Bridge to Modern Basketball, Is Dead at 87” by Richard Goldstein:“Playing for 16 professional seasons, Dolph Schayes was among the N.B.A.’s leading scorers, best known for his two-handed set shots at a time when jump-shooting came into vogue, and was a top rebounder… Adolph Schayes was born in the Bronx on May 19, 1928, a son of Jewish immigrants from Romania. His father, Carl, drove a truck for a laundry company. His mother, Tina, was a homemaker.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “Gronk Texting Edelman Happy Hanukkah is Laugh Out Loud Funny” [OffTheMonsterSports]

“Nets comically spoil Jewish Night with T-shirt misspelling” by Fred Kerber: “It appears someone forgot at some point that Hebrew is written in the opposite direction of English, because the first word, which is supposed to say “Represent”—as in the Nets’ slogan, “Represent Brooklyn”—is backwards, the equivalent of writing Tneserper Brooklyn.” [SBNationNYPost]

Jared Sichel: “A response to the Washington Post’s “five myths about Hanukkah”” [JewishJournal]

CAMPUS BEAT: “Adelson’s Maccabees ‘A Camp for All in the Mainstream pro-Israel Community’ but Not J Street U” [Haaretz]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “New Vatican Document Says Church Doesn’t Seek Conversion of the Jews” by Francis Rocca: “The Vatican released a document Thursday stating with unprecedented clarity that the Catholic Church doesn’t seek the conversion of the Jews, addressing what has historically been one of the greatest points of tension between the two communities.” [WSJ]

Ariel Sobel: “9 Questions Your Jewish Friends Wish You Asked About Their Culture” [EliteDaily]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Showcasing Jewish Antiques and Their Stories” by Eve Kahn:“Moriah Galleries, one of Manhattan’s oldest purveyors of Jewish ritual objects and art, has closed after six decades and sold its inventory to one of the newest Judaica stores in New York, Menorah Galleries. In three basement rooms at the Manhattan Art & Antiques Center on Second Avenue, Menorah Galleries has set up Jewish antiques — many of them salvaged from destroyed synagogues and decimated communities — that are rarely the subject of exhibitions and sales.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT: “The rise and fall of the Jewish deli: In his new book “Pastrami on Rye”, one of the first scholarly histories of the Jewish delicatessen, Ted Merwin, a professor of religion and Judaic studies, tracks the rise and fall of delis. The fruit of more than ten years of research and writing, Mr Merwin’s account shows that delis have been a rich part of the story of Jewish assimilation in America.” [Economist]

“As More Israelis Go Vegan, Their Military Adjusts Its Menu” by Daniella Cheslow: “Omer Yuval was an Israeli reserve soldier when, in the midst of Israel’s summer war with Hamas in 2014, he ended up stuck on a base for nearly seven weeks. He had only recently become vegan for health reasons, and he quickly noticed that his options were limited at mealtimes.” [NPR]

Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: “If you have never had the Cave wine from Binyamina then you are missing one of the truly great wines produced in the Holy Land. Of course the ideal place to drink the Cave is in the actual cave where the wines are aged, deep in the Carmel Mountains. It is said that the caves were originally used by Turkish highway robbers for smuggling alcohol, many years ago. The temperature inside is ideal for aging wine. That is as true now as it was 100 years ago.”

“The 2011 Cave is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. In this blend the Cabernet is very dominant. VERY. The wine is beyond big; it has great fruit on the mid-pallet and strong tannins up front. The finish is very long, and thick with blueberries and cranberries. This is a wine to drink with the biggest, thickest steak you can find. This wine can hold its own over the course of a long dinner. I can’t help but drink it now, though this wine will last for at least ten years – as history has proven with their previous vintages.” [TheCave]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Ben Shalom Bernanke turns 62… John Kerry turns 72… Marshall Wolf… Joanne Ring… Yuval Bar-Zemer… Rabbi John Rosove…

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