Jan
12

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Daily Kickoff: Zuckerberg credits daughters with shifting view of Facebook | ‘Emboldened Israelis’ in Trump era | Rabbi on the Senator and the waiter

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Ed note: In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, the next Daily Kickoff will be on Tuesday. Have a good weekend! 

MEDIA WATCH: “Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Focus on What Friends and Family Share” by Mike Isaac: “Facebook has introduced sweeping changes to the kinds of posts, videos and photos that its more than two billion members will see most often, saying on Thursday that it would prioritize what their friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands. The changes are intended to maximize the amount of content with “meaningful interaction” that people consume on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, said in an interview… Mr. Zuckerberg added that his way of running Facebook has shifted since the birth of his two daughters, Maxima and August, in recent years. He said he had rethought the way he views his and Facebook’s legacy, even if it will cost the company in the short term. “It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.” [NYTimes]

— “Facebook Finally Blinks” by Franklin Foer: “There’s no undoing the damage that Facebook has caused over the last few years. Still, Mark Zuckerberg has made a noble decision, to carry his company back towards its roots as a true “social network,” largely stripped of journalism and political propaganda. Facebook will be back primarily in the business of making us feel terrible about the inferiority of our vacations, the relative mediocrity of our children, teasing us into sharing more of our private selves.” [TheAtlantic]

— The Information’s Jessica Lessin: “I’m glad Facebook is de-prioritizing public posts (aka lots of news) in NewsFeed and hope it will finally convince publishers to build publications good enough that users will want to visit them directly. Brands aren’t dead on the Internet; they’re just hard to build.” [Twitter]

DRIVING THE DAY — Trump Is Expected to Stop Short of Reimposing Strict Sanctions on Iran — by Mark Landler: “President Trump has again stopped short of reimposing draconian sanctions on Iran… but he is expected to give Congress and European allies a deadline to improve the deal or the United States will pull out of it… His reluctance to preserve the agreement deepened in recent weeks after the protests… But his senior aides again persuaded him not to dissolve it… In a phone call, President Emmanuel Macron of France also urged Mr. Trump not to scrap the deal…”

“Privately, some White House officials complained about the phone call with Mr. Macron, which they said could have provoked Mr. Trump. Others said the diplomatic meeting in Brussels (between European foreign ministers and Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) was similarly ill conceived, and they expressed frustration that the legislative efforts in Congress were not progressing quickly enough. “Legislative gimmicks that don’t permanently fix the Iran nuclear deal under U.S. law… and continued European photo-ops with Javad Zarif are like waving a red flag in front of an angry bull,” said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It could lead Trump to kill the deal, now or soon,” he said.” [NYTimes]

“Ted Cruz: Waiving Iran Sanctions ‘Would Be a Serious Mistake'” by Jenna Lifhits: “Waiving the sanctions on the ayatollah while protesters are dying in the streets would be a serious mistake,” Cruz told The Weekly Standard… “There are voices in the foreign policy establishment world in Washington who are desperately trying to save the Iran deal, even though it has failed,” he said. “It endangers American lives, it endangers the lives of our allies.” … Florida S enator Marco Rubio… advised the president on Thursday to slap Iran with fresh sanctions over its non-nuclear activities.” [WeeklyStandard

NEXT STEPS — Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says new Iran sanctions are coming — by Anne Gearan: “I am expecting new sanctions on Iran,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Thursday. “We continue to look at them, we’ve rolled them out, and you can expect there will be more sanctions coming… There are many activities outside of the Iran deal, whether it be ballistic missiles, whether it be other issues, that we will continue to sanction that are outside the JCPOA… Human rights violations. We couldn’t be more focused.” [WashPost

“Sessions creates team to focus on Hezbollah financing and drugs” by Josh Gerstein: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions is creating a dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators to focus on drug trafficking by the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah in response to a recent Politico article that highlighted some such cases were softpedaled during the Obama administration in order avoid derailing a nuclear deal with Tehran.” [PoliticoBloomberg

TALK OF THE REGION — “With Trump in power, emboldened Israelis try redrawing Jerusalem’s boundaries” by Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash: “Emboldened by a more supportive White House, Israeli leaders have proposed a flurry of bills and resolutions that, in part, would annex areas of the West Bank and re-engineer Jerusalem’s demographic balance by redrawing the city’s map to exclude Arab neighborhoods and include Israeli settlements… In his office in Maale Adumim, [Mayor Benny] Kashriel says the change of attitude toward settlements under the Trump administration was immediately apparent. All previous U.S. administrations had largely shunned the settler community, he said. “They boycotted us. They never wanted to meet us,” he said. But Kashriel was invited to Trump’s inauguration in Washington.” [WashPost]

“Palestinian leaders threaten to withdraw formal recognition of Israel” by Noga Tarnopolsky: “The PLO is examining whether “you can rescind recognition,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent lawyer on the group’s executive committee. “You can suspend or cease relations, but we are examining if revocation can be done.”” [LATimes]

“Flare-up with Israel tests Hamas effort to keep Gaza on low boil” by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Lee Marzel: “Hamas has responded to Trump’s move by mobilising mass protests at the border and turning a blind eye to other factions firing into Israel in two weeks of daily attacks, which have tailed off recently… A more violent response was tamped down in debate among Palestinian factions who agreed that an armed confrontation could erode the international support Palestinians have won diplomatically and shift attention from the political process.” [Reuters

UPDATE: Yesterday, Netanyahu announced he will be meeting with President Trump “in March, if not before then.” We speculated that the meeting would coincide with Bibi’s appearance at the AIPAC Policy Conference (March 2-4). According to Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon, Israeli diplomatic officials said “there was a possibility that the two leaders would meet at the Davos Economic Summit later this month, which they are both scheduled to attend.”

GALLUP POLL — Jews’ Approval of Trump Remains Low: “American Jews’ 28% approval rating for Trump is significantly below the national average. This reflects the strong underlying connection between Jews and the Democratic Party; in 2017, 65% of Jews identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party, 20 points above the national average… Trump has adopted a pro-Israel position in his presidency so far… But the historical record suggests it’s unlikely that any of this will make a significant difference in how Jews in the U.S. view his presidency.” [Gallup

“Trump Plans to Bring at Least Six Cabinet Secretaries to Davos, Sources Say” by Jennifer Jacobs: “Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who will lead the administration’s economic delegation, on Thursday brushed aside portraits of the annual forum as a gathering of elite proponents of globalization, a characterization previously made some former Trump advisers. “I don’t think it’s a hangout for globalists,” Mnuchin said… The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, chief of staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also will attend the World Economic Forum the week of Jan. 22 as part of the delegation.” [Bloomberg

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “Steven Mnuchin’s ever-expanding orbit” by Nancy Cook and Ben White: “Many observers see the Treasury chief using his proximity to the White House and his close relationship with the president to grab hold of any issue he can and bring it into his portfolio. Those senior administration officials say that Kelly has been particularly annoyed by Mnuchin’s desire to attend as many meetings as possible and participate in photo-ops, on the reasoning that all policy matters are tangentially related to Treasury. “The sanctions led Mnuchin to get more involved in the Iran deal and North Korea, much to the frustration of some of the national security experts” including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and defense secretary James Mattis, said a close adviser to the White House… senior White House officials who spoke to Politico described a particularly dysfunctional relationship between the Trump’s NEC, led by Gary Cohn, and Mnuchin’s Treasury Department.” [Politico]

COMING APPOINTMENT: “Trump Expected to Tap Ex-Rumsfeld Adviser for Top Middle East Job” by John Hudson: “The decision to hire David Schenker, a director at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy, would place a political appointee in a position (head of the State Department’s Middle East bureau) that has been held by career diplomats since the 1990s… Still, Schenker’s appointment is not exactly imminent. “Don’t expect an announcement today or tomorrow, but he is expected to be the nominee,” a senior Trump administration official told BuzzFeed News.”[BuzzFeed

COMING DEPARTURE — Trump during an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “Look, hey, Gary [Cohn] may leave and Rex [Tillerson] may leave but I don’t anticipate it. I hope Gary stays and we’ll see… We’ll find out. But people do leave.” [WSJ

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Trump Alarms Lawmakers With Disparaging Words for Haiti and Africa” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Thomas Kaplan: “Trump on Thursdaybalked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than from places like Norway.” [NYTimesWashPost• ‘Shameful’: Jewish American Groups Respond to Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Comment on Immigrants [Haaretz]

Bill Kristol tweets: “By the way, Haiti was one of 35 countries that abstained on the UN Jerusalem vote a couple of weeks ago, and was rewarded by being invited to Nikki Haley’s party for our friends. Norway of course voted against us.” [Twitter]

Jake Tapper reports this morning: “The president did not refer to Haiti as a “shithole” country according to the source familiar with the meeting… though he DID say it about countries in Africa…” [Twitter]

HEARD YESTERDAY —  Rabbi Joe Potasnik delivered the invocation at the start of the New York City Council meeting: “Years ago, it was Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) who was invited to speak at the Waldorf Astoria. Before he spoke, the waiter came around with the butter, and Bradley looked at him and said, ‘I will have an extra pat of butter,’ and the water said to him, ‘Sorry sir, we have a strict rule at the Waldorf – one pat per person.’ Bradley looked at him and said, ‘You know who I am?’ He said, ‘No sir, who are you?’ He said, ‘I am the senator from New Jersey, I played for the New York Knicks, I went to Oxford.’ And the guy says, ‘That’s very impressive. You know who I am?’ He says, ‘No, who are you?’ He said, ‘I am the guy with the butter.’ There is a lesson there for all of us: whether you are the server or whether you are the senator, in our eyes – as people of faith – you are the same person. Whether you were born here or brought here, you are the same person… And to those brave women who stand up and identify with the #MeToo movement, we, as men, need to stand with them and say, we too stand with you.” [Pic

Mike Bloomberg speaks out on Trump’s first year in an interview with NBC’s Stephanie Ruhl: “The one time I talked to the president… I said. ‘You’ve just got to focus on building a team, not passing legislation.’ … If you don’t do it at the very beginning, it gets harder to do as the administration gets more controversial, which would happen to every administration. So, the Trump administration’s ability to attract people today is less than it was at the very beginning. And I think that’s the failure of not — they should have focused on that.”

Bloomberg on an Oprah-Bloomberg ticket in 2020: “Would we do it alphabetically, I just want to make sure.” Ruhle: “Could you run now, Mike?”Bloomberg: “I suppose I could. You have to be 35 years old. I am older than that. You have to be a citizen. I’m a citizen. You have to be born in America, I was. But I have no plans to run for president.” [Video

“The Next Steps for ‘NeverTrump’” by Seth Mandel:“The goal should be to stop candidates like [Roy] Moore from getting the nomination in the first place. That’s where the fate of the GOP will be determined. Republicans must undo the incentives that enable unfit candidates to rise to the top of the GOP field precisely because of their unfitness… The only fight that’s going to save the Grand Old Party is the one that takes place in the primaries.” [TheAtlantic]

“Greitens faces criminal inquiry, calls for resignation after blackmail allegations” by Bryan Lowry and Jason Hancock: “Greitens, Missouri’s first Jewish governor, is scheduled to headline the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual event in Las Vegas next month. Matt Brooks, the group’s executive director, said Thursday that the organization plans to stand with Greitens. “Eric is family to the RJC and as such our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time,” Brooks said in an email. “Regarding his attendance at our meeting in Las Vegas, that is a decision that he and his wife will have to make in the coming weeks as they figure out how best to move forward.”” [KansasCityStar

** 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: Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square fund to slash management fee [NYPost] • Steve Cohen Loses Another Top Trader Before Hedge Fund Launches [Bloomberg] • Rob Saliterman has joined Citadel as a director of corporate communications in its New York office. Rob previously worked for Snapchat and Google on political ad sales, and was a member of the Bush 43 White House communications team [HFMweek]

“Gal Gadot Is Huawei’s New CEO—Chief Experience Officer” by Amarelle Wenkert: “Gadot, the Israeli actress who played the title role in the 2017 Warner Bros. movie “Wonder Woman,” is the new celebrity sponsor of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. Ms. Gadot will join Huawei’s marketing efforts as the company introduces its Mate10 Pro mobile phone to U.S. market… Gadot will serve as the company’s first “Chief Experience Officer.” [Calcalist

“Israeli leader Netanyahu stumps acclaimed mentalist” by Aron Heller: “Acclaimed mentalist Lior Suchard… went head to head with Netanyahu in front of a group of journalists, only to come up empty in an awkward duel with the seemingly inscrutable Israeli leader. In one of his famous routines, Suchard asks his guest to scribble a picture on a piece of paper, while Suchard stands across the stage and draws an identical image. But when he tried the game with Netanyahu on Wednesday night, Suchard was unable to match Netanyahu’s doodle: a Jewish candelabra with the words “Long Live the Jewish People” underneath… Suchard looked and said, “I was completely wrong.” He refused to show his own drawing. “This was an Israeli deception campaign,” Netanyahu quipped. “This is how you influence people,” Suchard responded.” [AP

TALK OF THE TOWN — “New Orleans City Council Passes Measure Pushed by BDS Activists” by Aída Chávez: “New Orleans became the first city in the South — and one of the largest in the country — to pass a resolution in accordance with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction Movement, known by its initials BDS… The resolution passed the council unanimously, with all five members present voting in support. Five of seven city council members, including the mayor-elect, co-sponsored the resolution, drafted by the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee…  “I think it’s nuts,” said Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy… “I want to know exactly what it does, but just on the face of it, it sounds crazy.”” [TheIntercept

“New Jersey Divests From Danish Bank Over Its Support for BDS” by Armin Rosen: “In late December, governor Chris Christie announced that the New Jersey state government had sold off its investments in Danske Bank in compliance with a 2016 anti-BDS law. Danske is Denmark’s largest bank, with over a half a trillion dollars in total assets. The bank currently includes two Israeli concerns, Aryt Industries and Elbit Systems, in its list of “excluded companies” whose work violates the bank’s social responsibility policies.” [TabletMag]

FBI recognizes Jewish Community Relations Council for work: “The FBI announced Thursday that the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas is receiving the 2017 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award… The FBI says the JCRC organized forums, provided education and addressed community concerns after Jewish community centers and synagogues received threats in early 2017.” [AP

PIC OF THE DAY — Seen yesterday on the 1211 6th Ave/Fox News building: “Trump kvelling over latest Quinnipiac Poll on the economy.” [Pic

DESSERT: “Ditmas Kitchen west of Boca Raton is a creative kosher delight” by Michael Mayo: “New Yorkers of a certain age will recall a famous ad campaign with the tagline, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s Real Jewish Rye.” Ditmas Kitchen Boca could very well adopt the slogan, “You don’t have to be Jewish – or keep kosher – to enjoy Ditmas Kitchen.” It is a good restaurant that happens to be kosher, not simply a good kosher restaurant… The mix can be a little meshuga (that’s Yiddish for “crazy”), but many items are good… Who needs pork? Reznik’s earthy mushrooms with crunchy cashews ($9) also have endured, a good side dish that will please vegans and carnivores alike.” [MSN

Review: “In ‘My Coffee With Jewish Friends,’ Sit With Me and Talk of God” by Ken Jaworowski: “Where there are two Jews, there are three opinions,” Manfred Kirchheimer says in his little gem of a documentary, “My Coffee With Jewish Friends.” … He’s just as nimble in front of the camera, usually sitting one-on-one with others to consider topics including Israel, marriage and orthodox religion…” [NYTimes

WINE OF THE WEEK — Yarden Rom 2013 — by Yitz Applbaum: “Passover is approaching just over the horizon (exactly 11 weeks from today!) and with that there are many new wines to review. There is an abundance of new and interesting kosher wine options, and I will be making some out-of-the-box recommendations in future weeks. However, today, I would like to share a thought and a recent experience on generosity when pouring wine. Last Shabbat, I was in Jerusalem attending the Bar Mitzvah of the son of a respected wine peer of mine. We both teach and learn a great deal from one another.  The array of wines served was extraordinary. That evening my friend served five vintages of Yarden’s El-Rom, two vintages of Yarden’s Rom and huge assortment of older French wine as well. And for those keeping score at home, the Smith Haut Lafitte 2000 is still brilliantly subtle and sensuous.”

“The wine of the evening was the Yarden Rom 2013. This massively powerful wine is made from 50% Cabernet, 30% Syrah and 20% Merlot. Each of these grapes touches a different part of your palate with the Syrah taking over your mid-palate and resting there for a long time. The wine is aged in new French oak for 18 months has strong coffee and dark chocolate overtones. I drank this wine with fatty lamb and the food and wine married perfectly. The multitude of ages and varietals of wine were impressive, and everyone shared equally in the generosity, abundance and inclusiveness. It took the Shabbat meal to a new and higher level of holiness.”

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYChair of Hillel International, she also serves on the boards of the Israel on Campus Coalition and the UJA Federation of New York, Tina Price… US-born biochemist, moved to Israel in 1973 after being granted an M.D. and Ph.D. from NYU, winner of the Israel Prize (1999), professor (now emeritus) at Hebrew U in Jerusalem, Howard (“Chaim”) Cedar turns 75… Israeli-born, raised in London from age 13, jewelry designer, editor, and businesswoman, she was the First Lady of Iceland (2003-2016), Dorrit Moussaieff turns 68… Author of over 40 books, most widely recognized for his crime fiction, Walter Mosley turns 66… NYC-based psychiatrist and the medical director of the Child Mind Institute, Harold S. Koplewicz, MD turns 65… Radio personality since 1976, on terrestrial bandwidth until 2005 and on Sirius (now Sirius XM) since 2006, Howard Stern turns 64… Director of the West Coast office of the Jewish Funders Network, Tzivia Schwartz Getzug turns 56… Midday news anchor at Washington’s WTOP Radio, Debra Feinstein turns 56… Former three-term member of the Maryland House of Delegates (2003-2014), he is the nephew of US Senator Ben Cardin, Jon S. Cardin turns 48… Identical twin comedians and actors, Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar, turn 46… National Director of AIPAC’s Synagogue Initiative, Jonathan Schulman turns 36… Director of finance and operations at NYC-based Hornig Capital Partners, Daniel Silvermintz turns 25…

SATURDAY: Lifelong resident of Greenwich Village, a two-time Emmy Award winner as a television producer, including at NBC Nightly News, Susanna Beth Aaron (h/t son Sam)… South African biologist and a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate, Sydney Brenner turns 91… Kathleen Chambers turns 72… Cathy Nierenberg turns 71… NYC pediatrician at Carnegie Hill Pediatrics, graduate of the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg, Barry B. Stein, MD turns 61… Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships during the Obama administration, Cindy Moelis turns 57… Founder of Working Today and Freelancers Union, leading organizations of independent workers, a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, Sara Horowitz turns 55… Statistician and writer, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver turns 40… Senior development director for strategic philanthropy at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Shira Berenson Feinstein turns 32… DC-based Deputy Director of Communications for the Israel on Campus Coalition, Carly Freedman… North America Director at The Israel Forever Foundation, Heidi Krizer Daroff… Bruce Maclver… Lucia Meyerson… Rebecca Seider… Sandra Shapiro

SUNDAY: Award-winning legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio since 1975, focusing primarily on the US Supreme Court, Nina Totenberg turns 74… Screenwriter, director and producer, best known as co-writer of the films “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi,” Lawrence Kasdan turns 69… Shaul Saulisbury turns 60… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Likud party, she holds a Ph.D. in criminology, Anat Berko turns 58… Historian, journalist, author, media critic, blogger and educator, he is currently a professor at Brooklyn College and the media columnist for The Nation, Eric Alterman turns 58… AIPAC activist, founding member and co-managing partner of LA-based law firm, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, Michael L. Tuchin turns 53… Associate attorney in the Toronto law firm of McCague Borlack, Aryeh Samuel Stephen Panikoff… Alba Farquharson Barbara Singer-Meis

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Jan
11

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Daily Kickoff: Oprah-Bloomberg 2020? | Michael Eisner’s new gig | Robert Siegel on retirement | Bibi attending AIPAC PC? | Lynn Blitzer BDay

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FIRST LOOK: “Michael Eisner Sketches a Happy Ending for Portsmouth F.C.” by Rory Smith: “Just like in any sports movie worth its salt, the montage told the story best. In early May 2017, Michael Eisner arrived at the Guildhall in Portsmouth, England, to face 1,500 fans of the city’s soccer team. His task was a delicate one: to persuade at least 75 percent of them to sell their beloved club, Portsmouth F.C., to “an ancient Hollywood executive” and his sons. There would be, he knew, a degree of skepticism. Portsmouth’s previous experience with foreign owners suggested they brought nothing but trouble. First under Russian-Israeli, and then Emirati, Saudi and Nepali ownership, the century-old club had sunk all the way from the Premier League to League Two, English soccer’s fourth tier.”

“Eisner is asked “all the time” why he has, at age 75, chosen to get involved with the ownership of an English soccer team, particularly one so stripped of glamour and so deprived of investment as Portsmouth. Even his wife has ventured the question. “I could ask, why not?” is his stock response… But he also knows that sports is the only “water-cooler friendly” content left. “If it’s a good sports movie, it’s to do with winning,” Eisner said. Sports and movies, to Eisner, are the same thing at heart: They are both — they are all — stories. He has spent his career telling them, and Portsmouth is simply the latest.”[NYTimes]

DRIVING THE DAY — “AP sources: Trump to extend sanctions relief for Iran” by Matt Lee and Josh Lederman: “President Donald Trump is expected this week to extend relief from economic sanctions to Iran as part of the nuclear deal, citing progress in amending U.S. legislation that governs Washington’s participation in the landmark accord… But Trump is likely to pair his decision to renew the concessions to Tehran with new, targeted sanctions on Iranian businesses and people.” [AP

— “Trump will seek to make a final decision on whether to waive the sanctions during a meeting with national security aides on Thursday, a senior administration official told Reuters.” [Reuters

“McMaster Rushes to Save the Iran Deal That Trump Promised to Kill” by Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Ackerman: “[H. R.] McMaster is searching for an agreement, even one just in principle, with the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee… McMaster considers that an agreement with Sens. Bob Corker and Ben Cardin that took away the congressional deadlines on Iran that Trump hates would be a face-saving way for the White House to accept the deal. “This would be a coup for McMaster and a bailout for Trump,” said a Republican lobbyist familiar with the talks…

“Two other well-wired sources expect the Corker/Cardin deal to include a provision that will kick in six years from now, as aspects of the Iran deal relax and start moving toward expiration. If Iran violates certain terms of its nuclear agreement after that point, then the Corker/Cardin deal would impose a 90-day countdown clock… Sources say a remaining question is whether Congress will need 50 or 60 votes to keep the sanctions from being reimposed, and that they expect it will be a 50-vote threshold… Tom Cotton—perhaps the Senate’s most dogged Iran hawk and potentially Trump’s next CIA director—recently met with McMaster to discuss Iran, and a source familiar with that meeting described it as a “train wreck.” [DailyBeast] • Krishnadev Calamur: The Iran Deal Lives Another Day [TheAtlantic

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — Former Senator Joe Lieberman gives the Trump administration an A grade on Iran: “I would give them an A. I disagree with a lot of other things President Trump has done, but on Iran, we went from an administration that was so focused on reaching this nuclear agreement that they tolerated suppression of human rights, turned a deaf ear to the protests in Iran (in 2009)… just let them get away with it. President Trump has now, basically, said ‘we know who our friends are in the Middle East’ – Arab nations and Israel, and we are going to support them; and we know who are enemies are, and that’s Iran and the radical Islamic terrorists. So I give him an A.” [BloombergTV

TALK OF THE REGION: “PM indirectly confirms Israel was sourceof Trump intel leak to Russia” by Yonah Jeremy Bob: “Speaking to a conference of NATO ambassadors on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all but spelled it out. “When we talk about ISIS, it’s important to understand that Israel helps Europe in two fundamental ways,” Netanyahu said… “We have, through our intelligence services, provided information that has stopped several dozen major terrorist attacks, many of them in European countries. Some of these could have been mass attacks, of the worst kind… even worse, because they involve civil aviation. Israel has prevented that, and thereby helped save many European lives.” … The prime minister surely would not have risked drawing attention to Israel’s part in providing the laptop-threat warning when it was still trying to keep its head down about Trump’s leak. But now Netanyahu may feel more comfortable that Trump has come through, having recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and having provided several signs that he will adopt much of Israel’s narrative in its dispute with the Palestinians.” [JPost]

REPORT: “Netanyahu Asked Obama to Consider Giving Palestinians Land in Sinai, Former U.S. Officials Say” by Amir Tibon: “The idea which the officials say was raised by Netanyahu in 2014 is somewhat similar to those mentioned in a number of recent news reports about the Trump administration’s peace plan… “We all thought this idea was a waste of time,” one of the officials said. “We knew it would be a complete non-starter for the Palestinians – why would they trade agricultural lands in the West Bank, close to their largest cities, for sand dunes in Sinai?” [Haaretz

Pence says moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem could take ‘several years’ — by Samuel Chamberlain: “The vice president [said] that “planning is underway” to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but did not give a target date as to when the move would be completed. “I think it will probably be several years before we cut the ribbon, but the decision is made,” Pence said. “We’re moving our embassy to the capital of Israel.”” [FoxNews]

“Egypt Opens Criminal Inquiry Over New York Times Article” by Declan Walsh: “Egypt’s prosecutor general has ordered a criminal investigation over a New York Times article that described a covert effort by Egyptian intelligence to sway public opinion in favor of accepting President Trump’s decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The article “undermines Egypt’s security and public peace, and harms the country’s public interest,” the prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, said in a statement…” [NYTimes] • ‘Make Egypt Great Again’: Israeli experts question neighbor’s military buildup [DefenseNews]

BIBI COMING TO AIPAC? “Trump to meet Israel’s Netanyahu in March after Jerusalem embassy move” by Jack Moore: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he would meet with President Donald Trump in a March pow-wow in Washington, the fourth time since the American leader’s inauguration. Netanyahu said that he could possibly meet him before March but that had not been confirmed.” [Newsweek

Jack Lew says he feared Hillary Clinton was headed to a crushing loss — by Ben White: “I had a bad feeling before the election,” [former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in the latest POLITICO Money podcast.] “I can’t say I expected it, but I can’t say I was completely surprised. I did not treat it as a done deal. The fact that President Obama went to Michigan on a rather urgent basis just a few days before the election was a bit of a canary in the coal mine that things weren’t where they needed to be.” Lew stayed in Washington on election night to monitor potential market reaction to a Trump win. And he tried to boost spirits at the White House — including Obama’s — the day after.” [Politico]

“The Wolff Eats Its Own” by Bret Stephens: “[Michael] Wolff’s book is Exhibit A in how not to damage Trump’s presidency, much less his chances of re-election… If the anti-Trump movement has a crippling defect, it’s smugness, and Wolff’s book reflects and richly feeds it. We’re the moral scolds who struggle to acknowledge the skeletons in our own closet, the smart people whose forecasts keep proving wrong. We said Trump couldn’t win. That the stock market would never recover from his election. That he would blow up NATO. That the Middle East would erupt in violence when Jerusalem was recognized as Israel’s capital. The catastrophes haven’t happened, and maybe that’s just a matter of luck. But by constantly predicting doom and painting the White House in the darkest colors, anti-Trumpers have only helped the president. We have set an almost impossibly high bar for Trumpian failure.”[NYTimes]  

2020 WATCH: Kevin Sheekey, Michael Bloomberg’s political strategist, posted a photo of Oprah Winfrey and Michael Bloomberg on stage. This prompted former NBC News reporter Luke Russert to reply, “The Ticket!” [Instagram

ON THE HILL — “Congressmen introduce bill to sanction Iran for taking hostages” by Eric Cortellessa: “Introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul and Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida, the [Iran Human Rights and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act] is designed to give the Trump administration tools to severely punish Tehran for taking hostages…” [ToI]

“Darrell Issa, a California Republican, Will Not Seek Re-election to House” by Nicholas Fandos: “Representative Darrell Issa, whose hard-edge partisan attacks on President Barack Obama began softening as his district trended toward the Democrats, said on Wednesday that he would not seek re-election… In a bizarre turn, facing a difficult re-election last year, Mr. Issa came to embrace Mr. Obama — a development the then-president called “the definition of chutzpah.”” [NYTimes

“Gillibrand Vows to Block Trump’s Likely Choice for U.S. Attorney in Manhattan” by Benjamin Weiser: “Senator Kirsten Gillibrand plans to use a prerogative given to home-state senators to try to block the confirmation of Geoffrey S. Berman if he is nominated by President Trump as the United States attorney in Manhattan… The senator, Democrat of New York, intends to use her “blue-slip prerogative” to lodge her objection over reports that President Trump had personally interviewed Mr. Berman as part of the selection process…” [NYTimes]

“Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens admits extramarital affair but denies reports he blackmailed woman with photo” by Fred Barbash: “Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), responding to media reports, acknowledged Wednesday night that he was unfaithful to his wife “a few years ago” before being elected. But his lawyer denied sensational allegations aired by a local TV station that Greitens threatened to distribute naked photos he took of the woman with whom he was having a relationship if she ever said anything about it. The woman, who has not been named publicly, was Greitens’s hair stylist.” [WashPostNYMag

** Good Thursday 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: Israeli CEOs Saying Amazon Poaches Employees, Threatening to Leave Amazon Web Services [Calcalist] • Kushner’s real estate investing startup Cadre partners with Goldman Sachs [Reuters] • With its new newsletter director, Dan Oshinsky, The New Yorker wants to experiment with standalone and international-focused products [NiemanLab] • LionTree’s Aryeh Bourkoff Predicts “Golden Age” Of Mergers, Acquisitions [Deadline

SCENE AT CES: Layer3 TV’s Eric Kuhn with former NBA commissioner David Stern and Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg. Kuhn’s caption: “The law offices of Stern, Steinberg & Kuhn” [Pic]

“Bob Kraft-funded van will bring addiction services to city streets” by Jon Chesto: “The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital — funded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family’s charitable foundation — on Tuesday rolled out a specially equipped mobile van, dubbed CareZone, to bring health services to Boston residents who are struggling with addiction. The van will rotate between two locations in the city.” [BostonGlobe

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Robert Siegel, who recently retired after serving as NPR’s host of All Things Considered for thirty years, discussed recent developments and his next steps on The Atlantic Interview podcast with Jeffrey Goldberg: Talking about the #MeToo movement and the recent high-profile departures in media, politics and other industries after allegations of inappropriate behavior, Siegel said, “I don’t hope for a complete rebirth of human goodness and kindness, but rather restraints of bad behavior and feeling that there will be some penalty for doing wrong.” He then added, “It’s very Jewish of me to say that, I think.”

Siegel on his next steps: “Right now I am living purposely without purpose or plan… It really has been since when I was about 22 and didn’t know what was going to happen. I remember several months just not working – and living. That’s the only period of my life since I was about 15 that I’ve experienced that, and I want to try this first and see how that feels like, and see what it feels good to do.” [TheAtlantic

“Chris Rock’s Israel Show Included a Candid Message About His Relationship With God” by Jennie Fink: “I guess I am trying to find God before he finds me,” the Times of Israel reported [Rock] told the audience… After joking about being so broke he had to perform in Israel, he informed the crowd that part of ticket sales would go “toward helping little black girls attend private school.” “If anyone asks what you did tonight, you can say, ‘I made a difference,’” he said.” [IJR

“Palestinians in East Jerusalem cherish horses as family” by Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh: “Mahmoud Montasir, a Jerusalem teenager who has his own horse, said he had achieved his childhood dream of turning horse-riding into a pastime. “It is a great privilege to work with horses. A horse is a very clever animal and understands its human friend and his feelings. A horse also always shares its own feelings with its human friend but you need to understand it,” Montasir said.” [Reuters

“Rivlin: We must renew our partnership with the Diaspora” by Irit Avissar: “At the “Globes” Israel Business Conference, President Reuven Rivlin… called for the construction of a long-term vision that would ensure the realization of Israel’s potential in the world. “The time is ripe for creating a vision and a general strategy for the next 30 years, as a coordinated process involving the government and the private market. Within that, there is room for looking at joint action with the Jewish Diaspora on this and other matters, and for creating a new axis of partnership. We would like to strive for a reality in which Israel the innovator and Israel with all its capabilities, together with Diaspora Jewry, will be a main partner in dealing with global development problems.”” [Globes]

“Someone Tore Down the Mezuzah of UCLA’s Jewish Student President. Read Her Powerful Response” by Yair Rosenberg: “This past May, Arielle Yael Mokhtarzadeh was elected student body president of UCLA, one of America’s largest universities… This Monday, when she returned to school following winter break… She arrived at her office to find that her mezuzah… had been torn down. Rather than be cowed by this attempted act of intimidation, Mokhtarzadeh promptly announced this afternoon that she’d be publicly dedicating a new mezuzah and invited the campus to join her.” [Tablet

“German Idea to Fight Anti-Semitism: Make Immigrants Tour Concentration Camps” by Rick Gladstone: “Alarmed by displays of anti-Semitism among new immigrants to Germany, a German politician has offered a novel idea that appears to be gaining traction: required visits to Nazi concentration camp memorials. The idea, proposed by Sawsan Chebli, a Berlin state legislator of Palestinian heritage, received a significant boost on Wednesday when the leaders of Germany’s Central Council of Jews and the far larger World Jewish Congress agreed with her…” [NYTimes

TRANSITION — NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior aide Avi Fink has been promoted to Chief of Staff at the Office of Management and Budget. Fink was previously Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor.

PIC OF THE DAY — Zak The Baker in Miami: “Proud to be your baker @wholefoods. Shiny new Dadeland store is officially open and looking beautiful.” [Pic

BIRTHDAYS: Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, author of 40 books on jurisprudence and economics, Richard Posner turns 79… Film, television and theater director, best known for his TV series “Full House” and “Family Matters” and his films “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Fat Albert,” Joel Zwick turns 76… Las Vegas resident, Stephen Needleman turns 76… Economist and professor of banking at Columbia University, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2006-2008), Frederic Stanley “Rick” Mishkin turns 67… Personal shopper at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Chevy Chase, noted gardner and florist, she has been married to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer since 1973, Lynn Greenfield Blitzer turns 67…

Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and author of five books, Dr. Jerome E. Groopman turns 66… Founder of VisibleWorld, a developer of viewer-customized television advertising, the company was acquired by Comcast in 2015 and is now known as FreeWheel, Seth Haberman turns 58… Former senior political analyst for MSNBC, Mark Halperin turns 53… Film, stage and television actress, star of the 2000 comedy film “The Whole Nine Yards,” Amanda Peet turns 46… Born in Montreal to a Moroccan Jewish family, former goaltender with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes who also played in six other leagues, Josh Tordjman turns 33… French-American actress, Flora Crossturns 25… Founder of Nannies by Noa, a full-service childcare agency, serving families in NYC and the Hamptons, teen entrepreneur Noa Mintz turns 17…

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Jan
10

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Daily Kickoff: A Republican aboard the Oprah 2020 train? | Rand Paul aide reads letter from Trump at Jewish wedding | BDays: Jared; Jonathan Sarna

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JI INTERVIEW — Why this GOP veteran might support an Oprah 2020 run — by Jacob Kornbluh: “I think that people who are not taking her seriously are making a huge mistake,” Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush, told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. “And you know, she could definitely win. She could definitely win… She’s likable. She has spent the last 25-30 years of her professional career talking to people, listening to people, understanding how to win people over,” Neusner explained. “She’s great. She’s great at it, and provided that she wants to do this, she still has to present a political agenda, but I think that, politically speaking, what matters to voters for the most part is a comfort level and likability.”

Asked if someone like him, who is a traditional and longtime Republican, would vote for Oprah over Trump, Neusner said: “It’s possible. I mean, a lot depends on the condition of the country somewhere around the summer of 2020. If things are rough in the economy, if the country is facing a foreign policy crisis or a foreign policy headache, if there’s a sense that Trump doesn’t have command of the country’s interests, yeah, a Republican could very well decide to vote for Oprah,” he asserted.

“But that’s not going to determine the outcome of the election,” Neusner continued. “What will determine the outcome of the election will be the intensity that she creates among Democratic and liberal voters. And whether she gets key voters in swing states and married women. I think that it would be very hard for Trump to win in any group of female voters if he were running against Oprah. If she were a female Joe Biden on policy, she would probably do quite well. On the other hand, if Trump is sitting on a strong economy, decent prosperity, even with all the distractions that come with his presidency, and sometimes even with all the frustrations that come with this presidency, Republicans aren’t going to suddenly abandon him. They might actually really be excited to vote for him again.” [JewishInsider]

“Ivanka tries to have it both ways: Trump’s daughter and #MeToo supporter” by Annie Karni: “The first daughter didn’t consult with her aides on Monday night before expressing herself on Twitter… Friends and colleagues said the person they know would be oblivious to anything incongruous about her Winfrey support – and likely frustrated by backlash she sees as unfair. “She thinks she is part of the feminist club,” said one New York socialite who used to be friendly with Ivanka Trump on the benefit circuit. “She truly thinks of herself as the greatest champion of women. She would see no irony in it whatsoever.”” [Politico]

DRIVING THE WEEK — “Iran deal deadline approaching, as Trump weighs options” by Margaret Brennan and Kylie Atwood: “A White House official indicated that the decision may be pushed until early next week. The holiday weekend may give the White House more time to give congressional notification. A decision not to waive sanctions may deal a fatal blow to the Iran nuclear deal…”

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, chief of staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will meet with the president Thursday to discuss the decision. They are expected to advise that the U.S. remain part of the nuclear agreement… Three… Trump administration officials… cautioned that it was not at all certain that the president will heed the advice of his national security team to uphold the agreement.” [CBSNews]

REPORT — Netanyahu tells NATO ambassadors there’s a ‘real possibility’ Trump will nix nuclear deal: “President Trump has to make a decision this week,” Netanyahu said at a Jerusalem luncheon, according to a Channel 10 news report. “You have to understand that there is a real possibility that he will work to cancel the nuclear agreement. If you do not act to amend the agreement, then Trump may cancel it.” [ToINana10]

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) tells reporters… “Even if legislation comes to fruition, Corker added, Trump “still could get out of” the deal. But Corker offered up three reasons why he believes now is not the time to withdraw from the accord. One was the North Korea issue… “Right now, because of the concerns they have about President Trump withdrawing,” Corker said of Europe, “they’re much more willing to work with us on lots of other issues, and so you lose that leverage if you just withdraw.”” [TheHill]

“Don’t End the Iran Deal, Fix It” by Michael Doran: “[Trump] and Congress could eliminate the nuclear deal’s sunset clauses—its most dangerous provisions—by making restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program permanent in U.S. law and requiring more robust inspections… The Trump administration has been conducting quiet conversations with Capitol Hill about such an approach, and in recent weeks the possibility of reaching an agreement has improved markedly. It would be a mistake if Mr. Trump, merely in order to meet an arbitrary legislative deadline, were to cut off this option, which offers the possibility of forging a new bipartisan consensus on Iran.” [WSJ]

“Europe’s High Representative for Appeasement” by Eli Lake: On Monday, [Federica Mogherini] invited Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, to Brussels next week for more discussions on the Iran nuclear deal. Alireza Nader, an Iran expert at the RAND Corporation, told me this week that Mogherini’s statement on Iran was “saying both sides are equal, when it’s Iranian security forces that are shooting and killing people.” … In Mogherini, Europe has a chief diplomat who doesn’t want to offend the envoys of tyrants.”[BloombergView]

ANOTHER DEBATE WITHIN ADMIN: “Trump administration split on cutting aid to Palestinian refugees” by Josh Rogin: “At a Jan. 5 interagency meeting in Washington, representatives from the State and Defense departments argued for at least partial funding for UNRWA, while the representative from America’s U.N. mission held firm to [Nikki] Haley’s view that no funding should be provided. The decision is technically that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has yet to personally weigh in. The upcoming Principals Committee meeting is meant to settle the dispute… Officials said one option is to give partial funding; another option is to ask others, such as Saudi Arabia, to foot the bill…”

“Sources close to Haley said she does not advocate abolishing UNRWA altogether, as some pro-Israel Republicans have long advocated. She simply believes that there can no more business as usual when it comes to giving aid to countries that oppose U.S. policy. This position is shared by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Jared Kushner.” [WashPost• Jonathan Ferziger: This Is Trump’s Next Hot-Button Issue in the Middle East [Bloomberg]

“Israel to approve hundreds of new settler homes in West Bank” by Maayan Lubell and Arshad Mohammed: “Israeli authorities were due to approve on Wednesday the construction of 1,285 housing units to be built in 2018 and advance planning for 2,500 others in about 20 different settlements… Asked about the construction plans, a U.S. State Department official said there had been no change in policy on settlements and the Israeli government had made clear that going forward “its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the President’s concerns into consideration.”” [Reuters]

“After Terror Attack, Israeli Army Imposes Partial Lockdown on West Bank City, Villages” by Yotam Berger and Yaniv Kubovich: “The Israel Defense Forces said late Tuesday that 35-year-old Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six from the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad, was killed when a gunman opened fire on his car… The army searched the villages in the area overnight in search of the terrorists behind the shooting attack.” [Haaretz]

Ambassador David Friedman tweets: “An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace. Praying for the bereaved Shevach family.” [Twitter]

— MK Michael Oren‏: “While mourning Rabbi Raziel Shevach, I also salute US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for condemning Hamas’s praise of the attack and the Palestinian Authority for reconciling with Hamas. I agree that such hatred of Jews, and not settlements, is the reason there’s no peace.”[Twitter]

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami: “We all share grief over this terrible tragedy. I join prayers for bereaved family. Also question @USAmbIsrael analysis on why there is no peace. Must look further. Role is Ambassador of US not rep of Israel’s right wing. Balanced diplomacy not one sided advocacy will bring peace.” [Twitter]

TALK OF THE REGION — “Mohammed bin Salman’s Next Saudi Challenge: Curtailing Ultraconservative Islam” by Margherita Stancati: “The Muslim World League—a body that was once the key vehicle through which Saudi Arabia spread Wahhabi ideology beyond its border—is now led by a moderate cleric, who says promoting greater understanding among faiths is a priority. “In 1979 our religion was hijacked,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, a former minister of justice, who in a gesture of tolerance routinely encourages the non-Muslim women he meets to remove their headscarves, “Now we are eradicating the roots of extremism.” During a trip to Europe earlier this year, he became the first head of the Muslim League to meet the pope and visit a synagogue… Last month, authorities detained a senior prince, Khaled bin Talal, for opposing the government’s reforms such as the decision to curb the power of the religious police… Since the clampdown, many clerics have publicly endorsed the social reforms, while others have kept silent.”[WSJ]

IRAN PROTESTS — “Israel’s spy chief has said Mossad has eyes and ears in Iran and would like to see a revolution” by Callum Paton: “Israel’s spy chief has said… that the country’s external intelligence network Mossad has “eyes, ears and even more” trained on developments in the Islamic Republic. Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad… added that a revolution in Tehran would be a desirable outcome to the current unrest from an Israeli perspective. “I would like to see a revolution, but the protesters are faced with opposing forces,” Cohen was quoted as saying. The Mossad head also praised President Donald Trump, saying he had ushered in a new area of cooperation between the United States and Israel, especially when it came to countering the perceived threat from Iran. “We see a good change that may take Israeli security interests further into account, and by doing so it will help our struggle to change the direction of Iranian influence,” Cohen said.” [NewsweekAudio]

“Beyond tweets, here’s how Trump could help the Iranian protesters” by Kenneth Weinstein: “Now he should release information our intelligence agencies have compiled on how much wealth Iranian elites have amassed through their maze of front companies and hidden ownership of Iran’s resources. The Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, passed by the House of Representatives in December, would do just that. The president, however, doesn’t need to wait for an act of Congress to take action. He can immediately declassify information about the financial holdings of those affiliated with the Iranian government.” [LATimes

“Germany tells Iran not to spy against Israel on its territory” by Andrea Shalal: “Germany has summoned Iran’s ambassador to warn Tehran against spying on individuals and groups with close ties to Israel, calling such acts an unacceptable breach of German law. The move came after the March conviction of a Pakistani man for spying for Iran in Germany went into force.” [Reuters]

“Coming soon to Davos: A Trump stink bomb” by John Harris and Ben White: “Trump’s controversial closing ad of the 2016 campaign featured video of GOP boogeyman George Soros speaking at a WEF (World Economic Forum) event and included Trump railing against a “global power structure” that was crushing the American worker… Now Trump will be the first sitting president since Bill Clinton in 2000 to attend… Beyond the emotional charge of appearing before many people who regard him as a mysterious new virus — as well as some Wall Street types, like Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, who have been more supportive — there seems to be at least a whisper of a strategic rationale for Trump going to Davos. One administration official said Trump’s appearance will be a “Nikki Haley at the U.N.” moment.” [Politico]

COMING SOON: The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Annual Leadership Meeting will take place on February 9th – 11th at the Venetian/Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas. High profile speakers include Anthony Scaramucci (The Mooch), House Speaker Paul Ryan, Governors Scott Walker and Eric Greitens, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Israel’s Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, and John Bolton.

–Read more: Adelson to Host Scaramucci at Republican Jewish Gathering [Bloomberg]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: “Jared’s policy push on prison reform” by Mike Allen: “President Trump tomorrow will hold a listening session on prison reform, after six months of quiet exploration of the issue by senior adviser Jared Kushner… Under the auspices of Kushner’s Office of American Innovation, administration officials have met with faith-based leaders, former inmates who have been rehabilitated, conservative leaders, and experts on the issue… Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden, a longtime champion of the issue, told me he has been impressed with Kushner’s passion… The issue is personal for Kushner, given the former imprisonment of his father, developer Charles Kushner.” [Axios]

** 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: David Zaslav Says Discovery Channel Headquarters to Leave Silver Spring [NBC4• Carl Icahn Made It Nine Days Into 2018 Before Demanding Someone Get Fired [Dealbreaker• Touro College snaps up dorm space at One West End [NYPost• Intel, Mobileye unveil first autonomous car [ToI]

MEDIA WATCH: “Trump Lawyer Cohen Sues Buzzfeed Over Claims in Russia Dossier” by Jennifer Jacobs: “It will be proven that I had no involvement in this Russian collusion conspiracy,” Michael Cohen said in an interview on Tuesday. “My name was included only because of my proximity to the president.” Cohen’s complaint against Buzzfeed names editor-in-chief Ben Smith, reporter Ken Bensinger and editors Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs, who were the bylines on the article Buzzfeed published accompanying the dossier… He declined to say whether he has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.” [Bloomberg

TALK OF THE TOWN: “RI, Mass. move dates of September primaries to avoid Jewish holidays” by Ted Nesi: “Rhode Islanders will make a rare Wednesday trip to the ballot box later this year, and Massachusetts residents will vote two weeks earlier than usual, as both states move their primaries to avoid conflicting with Jewish holidays.” [WPRI]

PIC OF THE DAY — Real estate developer Aby Rosen posted a photo of a Torah Ark curtain at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum with an embroidered dedication to the Hongkou people for providing refuge to Jews during WWII [Pic]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN BROOKLYN — President Donald Trump sent a personal letter congratulating Shlomo Segal and Devorah Ganz on their wedding, which took place at Ateres Chynka hall in Brooklyn, NY. Mr. Segal is the son of Rabbi Nate Segal, an informal Jewish advisor to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). The letter was hand-delivered by Sergio Gor, Sen. Paul’s Communications Director. Gor described Rabbi Segal as “the biggest macher” as he read out the letter on the wedding dance floor. [PicJewishInsider]

REMEMBERING: “Alan Sagner, Who Revitalized the Port Authority, Dies at 97” by Sam Roberts: “In 1984, he and the Port Authority were honored by the Broadway Association for improving conditions in Times Square… “You have a special problem,” the Rev. Robert G. Rappleyea of Holy Cross Church on West 42nd Street said in his invocation at the ceremony: “The Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge. In fact, you have so many problems you really need Moses.” Mr. Sagner, who was Jewish, replied in kind. “If you could bring Moses back and divide the waters of the Hudson so those traveling could travel dry-shod,” he said, “I might change my religion.”” [NYTimes

DESSERT: “For this acclaimed pastry chef, home tastes like a coffee cake” by Alex Witchel: “[Mindy Segal’s] mother owned a cookbook published by their synagogue with a recipe for sour cream coffee cake that caught Segal’s attention early on. “I have eaten this cake since I was a little girl,” she told me recently, as we stood in the kitchen of Mindy’s Hot­Chocolate… She later created what she calls a “yum yum” variation that she sometimes serves at the restaurant…” [WashPost

BIRTHDAYS: Jared Kushner turns 37… Former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (2012-2017), Baron David Edmond Neuberger turns 70… Founder of the Center for Research on Institutions and Social Policy, former speechwriter for Robert F. Kennedy, Adam Walinskyturns 81… President of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and father of prominent VC Ben Horowitz, David Horowitz turns 79… Executive editor of Denver’s Intermountain Jewish News, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Ph.D. turns 72… Passaic, NJ-born musician, singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band “Steely Dan,” Donald Fagen turns 70… Riga, Latvia-born, world reknowned cellist, emigrated to Israel in 1971, has over 50 recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon label with many top orchestras, Mischa Maisky turns 70… Long-time editor at Bantam Books, Simon & Schuster and Crown Publishers, Sydny Weinberg Miner turns 67…

University Professor and Professor of American Jewish History in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, Jonathan D. Sarna turns 63… Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the majority owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob turns 62… Member of the Knesset since 2008 for the United Torah Judaism party, Uri Maklev turns 61… Actor with a recurring role in “Sex and the City” and author of two books on his recovery from acute myeloid leukemia, Evan Handler turns 57… Boston Area Director for Birthright Israel Foundation, Caryn Lazaroff turns 40… Speechwriter for Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Adam Weissmann turns 35… Press secretary at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Morgan Aubrey Finkelstein turns 27 (h/ts Playbook)… Digital operations manager at JTA, Andrew Tobin

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