Daily Kickoff: Des Moines Edition | Bernie & Israel: It’s complicated | Hillary & Jewish victims of terror | Israeli NBA fans turn on Cleveland Cavs

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IOWA CAUCUS: Today’s Daily Kickoff was crafted from Des Moines where we attended a fantastic Friday night dinner for journalists, campaign staffers and local Iowa Jewish leaders. The bipartisan dinner, which featured approximately 50 guests at the historic World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, was organized by the Schusterman Foundation’s Reality Initiative in collaboration with OneTable.

Schusterman’s Seth Cohen: “Over the next week the eyes of the world will be on Iowa and will be focused on the presidential candidates. But the real story of Iowa is how young political activists, campaign staffers and hard working journalists are helping set the table for 2016. They are some of the most powerful people in the country, and we wanted to set a Shabbat table for them to come together and share a common space that is often hard to find in an election season.”

OneTable’s Aliza Klein told us: “If Shabbat is our platform then we thought we ought to host those folks who deserve a Friday night more than anyone else. For a few hours they were able to unplug, replenish and enjoy a little time together, face to face. They seriously deserved it because they ‘give an F.'”

On Saturday night, we stopped by a Des Moines house party to watch Senator Cory Booker speak. Some highlights… “My parents watched human beings from all backgrounds — black and white, Christian and Jewish — coming down to march for civil rights and showing extraordinary courage. Not for themselves but rather they knew what they were doing would advance this nation.”

“We know as a country that this is not a zero sum game, where it’s taking money from one and putting it to another. It’s not just about fighting the rich people… I just came back from a trip with about seven other Senators through the Middle East. There are difficult, complicated challenges and the solution is not what we’re hearing on television by our opponents who just want to bomb people into submission, leveling cities and civilians. This is a difficult challenge and there’s no doubt that the most qualified person for president since I’ve been alive on this earth when it comes to foreign policy is absolutely Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

“Energy cannot be destroyed. If you look tonight at the night’s sky, you’ll see stars up there. Some of them have actually literally died but we see them as if they’re there because the energy they give off goes on in perpetuity. People are just like this. The energy we give off — negative or positive — goes out forever. We have the chance through our actions to send off energy of goodness, positivity, hard work… No good deed is ever wasted.” Watch the full speech [YouTube]

Robert Draper in the NYTimes: “Des Moines, to me, is the convivial bar in the lobby of the downtown Marriott, where the traveling press can reliably be spotted decompressing after filing their gaffe-of-the-day stories.” [NYT]

SPOTTED at the Des Moines Marriott — where CNN, Bloomberg, NYTimes, ABC News, and the Washington Post (and JI) have all set up shop: Sen. Amy Klobuchar chatting in the elevator with Daniel Bonner… CNN’s President Jeff Zucker hanging out with Chris Cuomo in the lobby… Jamie Lee Curtis taking a selfie with the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and NYT’s Jonathan Martin…

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Hillary Clinton in West Des Moines: “As an aside, after I listen to the Republicans they have a phrase — ‘blame Obama/Clinton for everything’ and ‘it doesn’t matter what’s going in the world, it’s Obama/Clinton’s fault’ — I listen to that and I thought well maybe they don’t know what we did. We, of course, did the Iran deal but I also negotiated a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas using the Muslim Brotherhood, President Morsi in Cairo.” [Video]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 11am, Hillary Clinton will address the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines as part of their Presidential Speaker Series. H/T Jewish Federation President David Adelman. [LiveStream]

“Bernie and Israel: It’s complicated” by Michael Crowley: “When it comes to his views on Israel, some Jewish Democrats are scratching their heads in confusion. “His voting record on Israel recently is fine, absolutely fine,” said Steve Rabinowitz, a media consultant and former Clinton White House aide who supports Clinton. “I haven’t heard him once talk about it on the campaign trail. It’s as though he doesn’t utter the world Israel. It just strikes me as odd.” Although he has recently tempered his criticisms of Israel, Sanders is still not considered an ally by Washington’s pro-Israel community.” [Politico]

Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs: “Sen. Sanders has consistently defended Israel’s right to exist and thrive since his first days in office. He’s voted in favor of legislation that strengthens Israel economically, militarily and at the United Nations. Sen. Sanders supports a two-state solution that will allow Israel to maintain its historic nature as a Jewish and democratic state. He believes we can fight for Israel’s security and a Palestinian state at the same time.”

FROM THE WEEKEND — Jacob Kornbluh filing from New Hampshire: During a town hall in Meredith, NH, Christie said he would invite the leaders of six U.S. allies, including Israel, to Camp David for separate meetings during his first months in office. The first hour of each visit, he said, would be dedicated to his counterparts’ “venting” about how Obama treated them during his presidency. “Maybe two hours for Netanyahu,” he quipped… “Of course I would visit Israel. They are a great ally,” Kasich told Jewish Insider. [JewishInsider] • “Kasich plans travel abroad before general election” [Dispatch]

Shmuley Boteach talking Trump at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills: “He’s a definitely a friend of the Jewish community and Israel. I don’t agree with him about Muslim immigration, and I don’t think the Jewish community agrees with him about that, but I do believe he’s a friend of the Jewish community and Israel.” H/T Ryan Torok.

STATE OF THE RACE: “The Duel: The Trump and Cruz campaigns embody opposite views of politics and the future of the G.O.P.” by Ryan Lizza: “Cruz speaks the language of evangelicals. In his Iowa campaign literature, he vows that on his first day in office, in addition to rescinding Obama’s “illegal and unconstitutional” executive orders and ripping up the Iranian Nuclear Deal, he will “investigate and prosecute” Planned Parenthood, tell the I.R.S. that the “persecution of religious liberty is over,” and begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Conservative evangelicals are one of the most intensely pro-Israel groups in America.) Trump, though, has effectively ignored the conventional wisdom about Republican lanes. He’s like a snowplow barrelling across the highway.” [NewYorker]

TOP TALKER: “Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits a Potential White House Run” by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman: “Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March… If Republicans were to nominate Mr. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a hard-line conservative, and Democrats chose Mr. Sanders, Mr. Bloomberg — who changed his party affiliation to independent in 2007 — has told allies he would be likely to run.” [NYTimes]

Question On Our Minds: How will Bloomberg the network cover Bloomberg the candidate?

“Anthony Weiner: Bloomberg Could Win” by Gideon Resnick: “The former Congressman and husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin thinks Bloomberg has a good shot at the presidency this time around.” [DailyBeast]

Seth Lipsky: “Could Michael Bloomberg Become America’s First Jewish President?” [Haaretz]

Douglas Bloomfield: “Is 2016 The Year Of The Jew?” [JewishWeek]

LongRead: “Hidden Damages” by M.R. O’Connor: “On the morning of April 9, 1995, three friends, American students studying in Israel, boarded a bus at the central station in Jerusalem. It was a few days before Passover, and they were headed to Gush Katif, a popular beach resort in Gaza, to swim and tan… Alisa Flatow, one of the young Americans, had long, wavy brown hair and wore a denim skirt, a white shirt, and sneakers… Years later, Kesari would recall the moments that followed as a stream of blurry footage with a few sharp scenes. A loud and dull explosion… After his daughter died in a terrorist attack, Stephen Flatow won a historic judgment against her killers. But to collect the funds, he first had to battle his own government.”

“Flatow was becoming a thorn in the Clinton administration’s side. “They hated him,” said Patrick Clawson, the Iran expert who testified on Flatow’s behalf. “The U.S. government did its best to discourage and thwart the collection efforts—they didn’t care about judgments, but the collection efforts they hated… By the end of 1999, there were other compelling reasons that the Clinton administration wanted Flatow’s crusade to end: First Lady Hillary Clinton was beginning her campaign for senator of New York, and she needed allies on the Hill and the support of the Jewish vote… “Do you support the administration’s handling of terrorist victims’ claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran?” said Flatow. “No, I do not,” said Clinton. The room went silent. It was a clear repudiation of her husband’s position.” [AtavistMagazine]

Tzipi Hotovely writes in the Wall Street Journal: “Where Does All That Aid for Palestinians Go?” [WSJ]

Israel’s Shimon Peres rushed to hospital with chest pains — by Ian Deitch: “Israel’s former president Shimon Peres was rushed to a hospital after experiencing chest pains, just a week after suffering a mild heart attack, his spokeswoman said Sunday night.” [AP]

**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: “SunEdison to Give David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital a Board Seat” [WSJ• Startup Spotlight: Mendel Brod’s Eyedictive [MiamiHerald] • “We brought an antenna to Davos to track private air travel, and here’s what we found” [Quartz] • “With a Ranch on a Hill, Joining a Renaissance in Israel” [NYTimes• “Why Eminem’s Jewish agent is the most feared woman in music” [NYPost]

SPOTLIGHT: “How Larry Page’s Obsessions Became Google’s Business” by Conor Dougherty: “Larry Page is not a typical chief executive, and in many of the most visible ways, he is not a C.E.O. at all. Corporate leaders tend to spend a good deal of time talking at investor conferences or introducing new products on auditorium stages. Mr. Page, who is 42, has not been on an earnings call since 2013… But just because he has faded from public view does not mean he is a recluse… Page is hardly the first Silicon Valley chief with a case of intellectual wanderlust, but unlike most of his peers, he has invested far beyond his company’s core business and in many ways has made it a reflection of his personal fascinations.” [NYTimes]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 10am, Mort Zuckerman will announce the Zuckerman Scholars Program in STEM Leadership at The Harvard Club in NYC. Attendees include Andrew Cuomo, US and Israeli Nobel Prize laureates; presidents of major Israeli research institutions; U.S. political & business leaders; Israeli government representatives and American academic leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the event via video.

DRIVING THE WEEK: “On Wednesday, the President will travel to the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C., where he will speak at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony. The event, which takes place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, is sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in partnership with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Israel. At this ceremony, the first of its kind to be held in the United States, Yad Vashem will posthumously recognize four individuals who heroically risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis, forever demonstrating the importance of standing up to intolerance and hatred everywhere.”

TALK OF THE TOWN: “A covenant with God fulfilled after a blizzard brings D.C. to a standstill” by DeNeen Brown: “In Judaism, a male child must, if at all possible, be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. And not even a blizzard trumps that biblical commandment — especially not when the baby in question is the son of two Washington rabbis.” [WashPost]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “French Jews Fear a New Strain of ISIS-Inspired Anti-Semitism” by Adam Nossiter: “It was the heavy leather-bound volume of the Torah he was carrying that shielded Benjamin Amsellem from the machete blows. His attacker, a teenage fanatic who the police say was inspired by the Islamic State, was trying to decapitate Mr. Amsellem, a teacher at a local Jewish school. But Mr. Amsellem used the Torah — the only defense at hand — to deflect the blade and save himself.” [NYTimes]

“Protesters obstruct Jewish reception at gay rights convention” by Eric Cortellessa: “At Chicago conference, hundreds of anti-Israel activists overtake stage and block Israelis from speaking” [ToI]

SPORTS BLINK: “Israeli NBA fans turn on LeBron, Cavs after firing of David Blatt: The shock announcement on Friday, despite the second-year coach leading the Cavs to the NBA Finals a year ago and to the top of the Eastern Conference this season, was taken personally by many fans in Israel, where the Boston-born Blatt made his name professionally, met his wife and raised his family.” [USAToday]

PROFILE: “Atypical Pursuit of an N.H.L. Dream” by Dhiren Mahiban: “On the ice, David Levin looks like any other teenager pursuing his dream of playing in the National Hockey League. Off the ice, his story is unlike those of any of his teammates on the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League. Many of Levin’s peers learned to skate soon after they were able to walk, and they honed their hockey skills for several years before being scouted by major junior teams in Canada. Levin, though, was raised in Netanya, Israel, where the closest hockey arena was a four-hour drive away in Metula. He played roller hockey and did not play organized ice hockey until he was 13.” [NYTimes]

SUNDANCE: “‘Weiner’ is the Best Documentary About a Political Campaign Ever Made” by Eric Kohn: “Given extraordinary access to Weiner’s ambitious gamble to relaunch his career, presumably anticipating that things would play out differently, the filmmakers have instead provided a brilliant window into the impact of the contemporary media circus on public life. While not exactly a figure of sympathy — he lied, after all, more than once — Weiner nevertheless maintains the charisma and drive to provide the movie with one of the most compelling anti-heroes in recent memory.” [IndieWire]

WEEKEND WEDDINGS: “Isabel Ann Solmonson, a daughter of Leslie Morgan Solmonson and Steven J. Solmonson of New York, was married Jan. 23 to Elliot Burt Cohen, the son of Paula T. Cohen and Albert E. Cohen of Delray Beach, Fla. Rabbi Michael Resnick officiated at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Fla. Mrs. Cohen, 29, is a real estate broker with Kleier Residential in New York. She is also a member of the cast of the HGTV series “Selling New York.” Mr. Cohen, 40, is the founder and chief executive of Citymaps, a company that has a mapping app that serves as a social guide, allowing users to explore cities and find places to visit.” [NYTimes]

“Hena Daniels, Andrew Doba: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a friend of the groom, officiated. The groom, 37, specializes in media strategy and crisis communications at Stu Loeser, a strategic communications firm in Manhattan. Until January 2015, he was the communications director for Governor Malloy in Hartford.” [NYTimes]

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