Daily Kickoff: Can Cruz Be Trusted? | Lichtenstein to host Hillary | Leon Black buys Bomberg Talmud | Dankner survives copter crash | Kosher Bacon

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STATE OF THE RACE: “The Great Republican Revolt” by David Frum: “The GOP planned a dynastic restoration in 2016. Instead, it triggered an internal class war. Can the party reconcile the demands of its donors with the interests of its rank and file?” [TheAtlantic]

“Why America Is Moving Left” by Peter Beinart: “Republicans may have a lock on Congress and the nation’s statehouses—and could well win the presidency—but the liberal era ushered in by Barack Obama is only just beginning.” [TheAtlantic]

“Cruz vs. Rubio” by Ramesh Ponnuru: “The foreign-policy debate has taken a somewhat surprising direction… Cruz has begun to criticize “neocon” foreign policy more pointedly for being too interventionist and to voice skepticism about promoting democracy abroad. The argument on both sides is overdrawn. Cruz is not a knee-jerk opponent of intervention, and he is not indifferent to human rights in other countries… Nor is Rubio indiscriminate in his advocacy of military action: Like Cruz, he declared President Obama’s proposed air strikes against Assad in 2013 unwise and said he would vote against them.” [NationalReview]

Ted Cruz: “I Can Be Trusted on Moving Embassy to Jerusalem” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Listing off his to-do list on the first day in office during a pre-holidays campaign rally, Cruz said unlike his GOP rivals and presidents in the past, his pledge to move the embassy to Israel’s capital will be a promise given is a promise kept. “You know, a lot of presidential candidates – both Democrats and Republicans – have made that same promise. [But] when they get to the White House they don’t do it,” Cruz stated as he took a long pause. “Ted will,” a supporter shouted out. To which Cruz responded, “You’re right.”” [JewishInsiderVideo]

“What Ted Cruz said behind closed doors” by Mike Allen: “In December, behind closed doors at a big-dollar Manhattan fundraiser, the quickly ascending presidential candidate assured a Republican gay-rights supporter that a Cruz administration would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority… Cruz answers a flat “No” when asked whether fighting gay marriage is a “top-three priority,” an answer that pleased his socially moderate hosts but could surprise some of his evangelical backers.”[Politico• “Supporters trust Ted Cruz, even when the tape says not to” by David Weigel [WashPost]

“David Lichtenstein to Host Hillary Fundraiser in NYC” by Jacob Kornbluh: “According to an invitation obtained by Jewish Insider, David Lichtenstein, CEO of The Lightstone Group, will be hosting a $2,700-per-head fundraiser for Hillary in New York City on Thursday, January 14th… In 2008, Lichtenstein hosted two fundraisers for Hillary, including one at his home in the Orthodox Jewish enclave in Lakewood, NJ. The visit to Lakewood drew some backlash… Lichtenstein also owns the Hampton Inn at Des Moines International Airport… and Obama staffers underlined the President’s fondness for staying there. “He stayed there in ’07, ’08… sees it as a little bit good luck,” one former aide was quoted as saying.”[JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Israeli Embassy Trolls White House, Exclusively Gifts Settlement Goods” by Jessica Schulberg: “Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, tweeted on Monday that all of the presents he is sending this holiday season will be products produced in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights. The gifts will include wine, olive oil, body cream, and halva, the Israeli embassy told The Huffington Post… The Obama administration opposes the broader BDS movement against Israel, but it argued in June that “conflating Israel and ‘Israel-controlled territories’” ran counter to longstanding, bipartisan opposition to Israeli settlement activity.” [HuffPostNYTimes]

“Israel gets unofficial Iranian ’embassy'” by Rachel Delia Benaim: “A group of Jerusalem artists this week opened the city’s first unofficial Iranian ‘embassy of culture’ with a gathering of around 500 Israelis, many of whom moved to Israel after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The new centre of Iranian culture in Israel will display original photography and art, and will host a radio station broadcasting in Hebrew and Farsi.” [TheGuardian]

“Assad Is Reaching Out to Washington Insiders” by Josh Rogin: “There have been at least two camps inside the top levels of the Obama administration who vigorously disagree on the goals of U.S. Syria policy. Simon, along with his two successors, Philip Gordon and now Robert Malley, have argued internally that the U.S. should make the fight against the Islamic State its first priority and delay the drive to oust Assad… The other camp, led by UN Ambassador Samantha Power, insists that Assad’s removal is a necessary step toward ending the war… Damascus is trying to exploit this divide, continuing its outreach.” [BloombergView]

–Report: “Muslim, Jewish, Christian power players talk Syria over smoked salmon” [TheJC]

TALK OF OUR NATION: NYC Councilman David Greenfield speaking at the Torah Umesorah Presidents Conference last Thursday — “Are Jews powerful? No. Are there powerful Jews? Of course… However, to my knowledge, not a single Jewish leader can get the Mayor of New York City, the Attorney General of the United States, and the President on the phone in 15 minutes or less. But do you know who can? Al Sharpton. That’s right. The fact is that most Jews don’t even know who their community leaders are. If you ask a typical Jew walking down the street, who represents you? Most of them will not have an answer. If you ask that same Jew, who represents the black community? You know who they’ll say? Al Sharpton. He can do one thing that very few people can do in this country and that is he can move votes. He who moves votes, has power.” [Livestream]

**Good Wednesday 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: “Nochi Dankner Survives South America Helicopter Crash” [Haaretz• “New York Businessman Leon Black Buys Bomberg Talmud for $9.3 Million” [TabletMag] • “Judge grants partial victory to Sumner Redstone’s former girlfriend” [Reuters] • “KBS fund set to become first US REIT to try Israeli bond market” [RealDeal]

SPOTLIGHT: “Why Facebook Profiles are Replacing Credit Scores” by Don Reisinger: “A wave of startup are using unconventional information to decide if customers are credit worthy. PayPal co-founder Max Levchin is one of the leading voices in the movement. In 2013, he founded Affirm, a company that combs through a wide range of sources to decide if applicants should receive loans.” [Fortune]

STARTUP NATION: “18 acquisitions in 2015 that showed E.U. and Israel are hotbeds of innovation” [VentureBeat]

MEDIA WATCH: “Editor Quits After Sheldon Adelson Buys Las Vegas Review-Journal” by Sydney Ember: “Michael Hengel, editor of The Las Vegas Review-Journal, announced his resignation on Tuesday, less than two weeks after the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson bought the newspaper and days after it published an article that was indirectly critical of the new owners.” [NYTimes] • Letter from the Adelson family [Scribd]

CAMPUS BEAT: “Why Adelson’s Campus anti-BDS Group Will Be a Bust” by Rabbi Eric Yoffie: “The head of the Maccabee Task Force thinks that a ‘no-criticism of the current Israeli government’ litmus test can be applied in building pro-Israel and anti-BDS coalitions. That’s delusional.” [Haaretz]

HOLIDAY GIFTS: “Florida Man Keeps His Grandfather’s Memory Alive Thanks to Friend’s Surprise Hanukkah Gift” [PeopleMag]

DESSERT: “Bacon Goes Kosher” by Erik Ofgang: “OK, it’s not technically bacon. It’s made from beef, or lamb, or turkey—or it could be vegetarian. But whatever’s in kosher imitation bacon, sales are sizzling.” [TabletMag]

MAZAL TOV: Inbox — “Engaged: WSJ’s Shayndi Raice, an M&A reporter for the Journal based in London, to Dov Weiss, a professor of religion (Jewish thought) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who lives in Chicago… They’ve been dating long distance for the last four months and last Sunday, when they were in New York together, Dov proposed to Shayndi at the Parkview Lounge in Columbus Circle overlooking Central Park… His father is Rabbi Avi Weiss, the founder of The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. They’re getting married May 29 at his father’s synagogue in Riverdale.” [Instagram] H/T Our friends at Politico Playbook

BIRTHDAYS: Bill Kristol turns 63… Israeli singer-songwriter Dudu Aharon turns 31…

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