ON THE HILL — A motion to proceed with debate on the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 — legislation that incorporates four bipartisan bills, including the reauthorization of the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the U.S. and Israel in 2016, and a measure that would empower state and local governments to counter the BDS movement — was defeated in the Senate (56-44) after the Republicans failed to get the 60 votes needed.
Four Democratic Senators — Bob Menendez (NJ), Joe Manchin (WV), Doug Jones (AL) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) — voted in favor of the motion. Manchin’s spokesperson Jonathan Kott told Jewish Insider that the Senator voted in favor of the motion to proceed because “he supports the bill.”
HEARD ON THE SENATE FLOOR — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): “I am the co-sponsor of one of the bills that are before us — a U.S.-Israel security assistance bill — and strongly, strongly supportive of Israel. But as passionate as I have been for the security of the nation of Israel, I’m every bit as passionate about the security of the United States, and I think the first business of this Senate should be to reopen the government.”
The 2020 foreign policy fight is on in Congress — by Josh Rogin: “The fight over Israel raging on Capitol Hill is… a fight Senate Republicans seem to have picked intentionally… “First and foremost, McConnell is pushing Democrats to take a position on BDS,” a senior Senate aide told me… A Senate Democratic aide told me that while it’s true Democrats debated the issue in a caucus meeting last week, Rubio was resorting to “Trumpesque tactics” by claiming a “significant number of Senate Democrats” now support the BDS movement.”
“One could argue that progressive Democrats scored a success in stopping pro-Israel legislation they opposed. But many observers think progressive Democrats stepped right into McConnell’s trap by turning the issue into an internal caucus fight… But the Democratic leadership is in a bind. They can use the shutdown to avoid voting directly on anti-BDS legislation for now. But when it eventually comes up, it will likely pass (in some form) with the support of Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi… And each of the dozen or more Democratic lawmakers potentially running for president will have to take a position, one that either hurts them with progressives in the primary or moderates in the general election… McConnell is attempting to show that, on Israel, Republicans are actually largely in agreement, whereas Democrats have a growing problem.”
NEXT UP — “Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the new ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will introduce a companion to the McConnell-Rubio package in the House this week. But the House leadership has no intention of taking it up… Rather, they will bring the Syria bill — known as the “Caesar Bill,” after the Syrian activist who risked his life to expose Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities — to the House floor by itself Thursday. The House Democrats’ idea is to… highlight the mess that Trump has made by announcing a hasty U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria.” [WashPost]
— Dan Shapiro tweets: “If you care about bipartisan support for Israel, you shouldn’t support tactics like this that transparently aim to make Israel a political football. Bills that have strong bipartisan support can easily be advanced when legislators deal with each other on the level.”
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) was elected to replace former Sen. Bob Corker as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. Republicans Mitt Romney (UT), Ted Cruz (TX) and Lindsey Graham (SC) were also added as new members of the SFRC.
HAPPENING TODAY — The oldest synagogue building in DC — the original home of Congregation Adas Israel — will see its third move since it was first built in 1876, as special mover trucks will roll the building down at the site of the new Capital Jewish Museum at the corner of 3rd and F Streets NW. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and local lawmakers will deliver remarks as the building arrives at its new location.
SHUTDOWN WATCH — Trump’s National Address Escalates Border Wall Fight — by Peter Baker: “President Trump doubled down on one of the biggest gambles of his presidency on Tuesday night with a televised appeal to pressure Congress into paying for his long-promised border wall, even at the cost of leaving the government partly closed until lawmakers give in… In their own televised response on Tuesday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, accused the president of stoking fear and mocked him for asking taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall he had long said Mexico would pay for.” [NYTimes]
Ann Coulter tweeted last night: “CNN’s John King wants to know why GOP governors aren’t rushing onto TV to support Trump. I want to know why Netanyahu isn’t.”
— RJC’s Matt Brooks replied: “What’s wrong with you?? Please get help!”
Worth noting: As Coulter’s influence in this WH dwindles— the President and his children have unfollowed her on Twitter in recent weeks— other media personalities more publicly supportive of his agenda have risen.
Jared Kushner is telling senators that public support will shift toward Trump after speech — by Manu Raju: “Among those making calls to senators is Trump administration official Jared Kushner, who has called at least one Democratic senator… Kushner’s message: Public support will grow for the border wall after Trump’s speech and his Thursday visit to the border.” [CNN]
PALACE INTRIGUE — Gabriel Sherman reports: “Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have been underwhelmed with [Mick] Mulvaney’s political skills, two people familiar with their thinking said. The sources said Jared and Ivanka have discussed recruiting Blackstone executive Wayne Berman to serve as White House strategist, but so far Berman hasn’t been interested a source familiar with his thinking said.” [VanityFair]
— Of Note: Berman is a Republican Jewish Coalition board member.
Rod Rosenstein expected to depart DOJ in coming weeks once new attorney general confirmed — by Pierre Thomas, Jonathan Karl, John Santucci and Mike Levine: “Rosenstein has communicated to President Donald Trump and White House officials his plan to depart the administration around the time William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, would take office following a Senate confirmation… Rosenstein apparently had long been thinking he would serve about two years, and there was no indication that he was being forced out at this moment by the president.” [ABCNews]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — J.B. Pritzker, who is going to be sworn in as Governor of Illinois next week, discussed his family’s first experience with HIAS, a Jewish humanitarian organization founded in 1881, on The Axe Files podcast with David Axelrod: “My family arrived in this country in 1881 and interestingly, President Trump just was attacking an immigrant organization called Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that’s still today operating and helping people, refugees [and] immigrants.”
Axelrod: Wasn’t that the group that infuriated that guy who attacked the synagogue in Pittsburgh?
Pritzker: “Yes. The fellow who was the cause of so many deaths at Squirrel Hill was railing against the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. That organization’s been around for more than a hundred years, and as it happens, in its earliest years, my family benefited from the amazing work that they do — arriving here with nothing, escaping from the pogroms in Ukraine. They originally were sponsored by a family in Clinton, Iowa.”
Axelrod: Were there Jews in Clinton, Iowa?
Pritzker: “As a matter of fact, there were. Apparently, they may have been the only Jews in Clinton, Iowa, and that may still be the only record of a Jew living in Clinton, Iowa. But they arrived and then found out there were no jobs available in Clinton, Iowa, and so they said, ‘Well, where’s the nearest big city so we can go find a job?’ And they pointed toward Chicago and so they got back on the train and came to Chicago.” [AxeFiles] • Pritzker seeks higher salaries to attract top Cabinet talent [WIFR]
STATE-SIDE — Florida’s ag commissioner sworn in on nation’s first Hebrew Bible — Yonat Shimron: “Nikki Fried, the lone Democrat to win statewide office in Florida, was sworn in as commissioner of agriculture using the first Hebrew Bible published in America. Fried, the first Jewish woman to serve in the post in the Sunshine State, called the University of Florida, her alma mater, to ask if there was a special Bible she could use for the occasion… The library owns a two-volume Hebrew Bible dating to 1814… “As the first Jewish woman elected statewide in Florida and an unapologetic Florida Gator I could not be more honored to be sworn in with the first Hebrew Bible printed in the United States from University of Florida’s Judaica Library,” said Fried in a statement.” [ReligionNews]
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel tells staff he’s being suspended over massacre response — by Julie Brown: “Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, the object of fierce criticism over BSO’s handling of the Parkland massacre, told his top commanders that he will be removed from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis… DeSantis, who was sworn in Tuesday morning, had not made a formal announcement of a possible suspension.” [MaimiHerald]
Tarrant County Republicans To Vote On Whether To Oust Muslim Vice Chair: “North Texas Republicans are set to decide if they should remove a Muslim vice party chairman following allegations that he prefers Islamic over U.S. law and opposes the GOP’s pro-Israel stance… Some party members have speculated that fundraising efforts will be drained altogether if [Shahid] Shafi is removed, jeopardizing the party’s 2020 campaign. The Tarrant County GOP executive committee will decide Thursday whether to remove Shafi from the post.” [CBSDallas]
TOP TALKER — Conference of Presidents ‘Warns’ ZOA Over Tactics — by Gary Rosenblatt: “In a confidential and first-ever such ruling, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has issued a “written warning” to a member group, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), for violating an internal ban against “insults, ad hominem attacks and name-calling … directed against the Conference of Presidents, its member organizations or their leaders.” … In its five-page report, which noted the difficulty of navigating the “tension between free speech and civil discourse,” the committee listed eight examples, among many others, of public comments made by ZOA since 2015 that it considered in violation of its Statement on Civil Discourse.”
“Mort Klein called on the Conference to rescind the warning and to investigate “the leak of the confidential committee decision to The Jewish Week” and sanction the party responsible for it. “We will consider all our options regarding this entire matter,” Klein said.” [JewishWeek]
Daniel Gordis responds to Jonathan Weisman and Peter Beinart… “The American ‘Zionist’ assault on Israel: To heal the rift… there is much that Israelis will have to change about themselves and the ways in which they view and assess Diaspora Jewish life. By the same token, though, if American Jewish progressives want Israelis to be in dialogue with them, it is time to end the assumption that the repository of morality, wisdom and decency resides exclusively on the Western edge of the Atlantic.” [ToI]
ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman warned on Monday that a foreign state “intends to intervene” through cyber attacks in the April 9 elections… Russia denied it’s behind any interference… Netanyahu will likely meet with President Trump while in DC for the AIPAC Policy Conference around March 24, according to a report on Israel Hayom’s front page… Netanyahu tried to sell his innocence with an Instagram meme blitz yesterday… Meanwhile, former IDF chief Benny Gantz is trailing Netanyahu by 3 points in suitability for prime minister (38-41) — the closest anyone has been to Netanyahu in 10 years — in a News 10 poll… Launching Yesh Atid election campaign, and trying to establish himself as the leading challenger to the Likud leader, Yair Lapid vowed to oust ‘dangerous’ Netanyahu…
Benny Avni writes… “Netanyahu is his own worst enemy: The contest in Israel’s general election in April will likely be between a successful statesman named Benjamin Netanyahu and a failing, small-ball tactician named Bibi.”[NYPost]
SIGHTING — GOP political fundraiser Lisa Spies hosted a Republican women’s lunch honoring Lara Trump at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC yesterday. h/t Playbook
2020 WATCH — Wall Street executives are hearing from Democrats as they gauge interest in possible 2020 presidential campaigns — by Brian Schwartz: “Wall Street executives have heard from several potential 2020 Democratic candidates for president, including Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, as recently as last month… Billionaire and Blackstone Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Gray, and CEO and founder of 32 Advisors Robert Wolf… are just a few of the Democratic financiers who have spoken with 2020 hopefuls about a wide range of topics, including the upcoming campaign… Wolf, a former advisor to former President Barack Obama… said he had been in touch with 2020 hopefuls – but declined to name the individual lawmakers.”[CNBC]
In Politico Playbook: “A number of the Democratic 2020 hopefuls are starting to court Democratic megadonor Haim Saban, according to a friend of his. A spokesman for Saban… declined to say who at this point had reached out to him.”
** 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: WeWork rebrands to We Company, reveals details of SoftBank deal [FastCompany] • Sumner Redstone Settles Legal Battle With Ex-Confidante [Bloomberg] • Billionaire Henry Kravis Asks $46 Million for Colorado Ranch [WSJ] • Facebook culture described as ‘cult-like’, review process blamed [CNBC] • Last-minute deal could save Sears after liquidation by a firm run by retail magnate Jay Schottenstein seemed imminent [Bizjournals; FinancialTimes] • Kosher high-tech office lures Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox [YahooNews] • Mobileye leads Israeli charge into China’s autonomous car market [BusinessInsider]
Palm Beach used to be a nice town for billionaires. Then Trump came along — by Roxanne Roberts: “Many of the [Mar-a-Lago] club’s original members, primarily Jewish Democrats, have left, replaced by an eclectic mash-up of business executives, socialites and groupies.” [WashPost]
SPORTS BLINK — Israel Cycling Academy confirms merger talks with WorldTour teams — by Andrew Hood: “There is speculation that Israel Cycling Academy might merge with the British superteam in 2020. Sylvan Adams, the flamboyant real estate billionaire who owns Israel Cycling Academy(ICA), is determined to bring his team to the Tour de France by 2020.”[VeloNews]
This Is The Sabra Sport GT – The First Israeli Sportscar: “The Sabra Sport GT built holds the unique distinction of being the only production Israeli sports car ever made, it was built by Autocars Co. Ltd – Israel’s first domestic car manufacturer. The company was founded in 1957 by Yitzhak Shubinsky to build light trucks and utilitarian cars in Israel, with an eye to exporting them to the lucrative U.S. market to bring much needed foreign currency into the country… Today the Sabra Sports is remembered as a bit of an historical oddity, it’s not known exactly how many survive but interestingly there are a number still on the road in Belgium.” [Silodrome]
Yankees’ Randy Levine is related to Marie Antoinette — by Cindy Adams: “For Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/New Year’s Mindy did her husband Yankees president Randy Levine’s exhaustive historical genealogical ancestral sociological antediluvian DNA background… She discovered that on his mother’s side, Levine is related to Marie Antoinette!” [PageSix]
Itzhak Perlman talks to Marc Myers about how he became a star on TV at age 13: “In 1958, when I was 13, my mother and I traveled to New York so I could appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” for the first time. I wasn’t nervous, just a little anxious. I played for only three minutes. I became known nationally overnight. I played fundraisers for many Jewish organizations. That’s how I made a living at first. My TV appearance led to an opportunity to audition at the Juilliard School of Music… After I was accepted at Juilliard, my mother and I lived in a hotel in downtown Manhattan for a couple of weeks… Neither of us spoke English. It was a very depressing time. My mother insisted we eat only kosher food. Fortunately, there was a kosher deli next to the hotel. For three weeks I lived on french fries, hot dogs and 7UP. I loved it.” [WSJ]
No more than 1 wife: Israel looks to tackle Bedouin polygamy — by Isabel Debre: “Israel is now trying to end the old custom, for the first time prosecuting suspected Bedouin polygamists. But many Bedouins, who complain of systematic neglect and discrimination by successive Israeli governments, see only a ploy to curb their population growth and criminalize their community members.” [ABCNews]
TALK OF THE NATION — Civil Rights Award Rescinded From Angela Davis After Jewish Community Objections — by Sherrel Wheeler Stewart: “The Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award is supposed to honor the civil rights leaders legacy and raise funds for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. But after some members in the city’s Jewish community objected to giving the award to human rights activist Angela Davis, this year’s award presentation is derailed and the community is divided. In October, the board announced it would honor Davis at a February event. Now, it says, the award presentation is cancelled because Davis’ statements and public record do not “meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.”[NPR]
Israel awards Patriots owner Kraft the ‘Jewish Nobel’ prize — by Aron Heller: “New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been awarded Israel’s 2019 Genesis Prize in recognition of his philanthropy and commitment to combatting anti-Semitism… Kraft, who grew up in an observant Jewish home, has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and has arranged trips for NFL Hall of Famers to the Holy Land. His prize money will be donated to initiatives combatting anti-Semitism, other forms of prejudices and what they said were attempts to delegitimize Israel… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to present Kraft the award in Jerusalem in June.” [AP]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Painting looted by Nazis returned to Jewish heirs in Germany: “Officials have returned a painting looted by the Nazis to the heirs of a Jewish French politician and resistance figure who was executed during World War II. “Portrait of a Seated Young Woman” by Thomas Couture, which belonged to Georges Mandel, was discovered in late collector Cornelius Gurlitt’s art trove while German authorities were investigating a tax case in 2012… Culture Minister Monika Gruetters pledged at Tuesday’s handover to Mandel’s relatives to do everything possible to return stolen art to its rightful owners.” [AP]
TRANSITION — Rich Benenson was elected as Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s next managing partner effective July 1, 2019.
DESSERT — The Israeli Subscription Box Company Doing Its Apolitical Best — by Shira Feder: “For some 1,000 Diaspora Jews (and Matana subscribers), [Emily] Berg is now the face of Israel’s small businesses. “It’s a pretty cliche story,” says Berg, the founder of Matana, a subscription box dedicated to supplying Diaspora Jews with goods from Israeli small businesses for $40 a month… Berg’s Matana customers are 70% American, 25% Canadian and 5% European.” [Forward]
BIRTHDAYS: Novelist Judith Krantz turns 91… Law professor at Georgetown University, he was a high-ranking HHS official during the Clinton Administration, a founder of New Israel Fund and board member of Americans for Peace Now, Peter Edelman turns 81… Swiss politician, member of the Swiss Federal Council (1993-2002), President of the Swiss Confederation in 1999, the first woman to ever hold this position, Ruth Dreifuss turns 79… Rabbi Emeritus of Kehilath Israel Synagogue in Overland Park, Kansas, Herbert Jay Mandl turns 74… Vice Chairman of the private equity firm Gilbert Global Equity Partners, long-time executive at investment banks Schroder & Co. and its predecessor firm, Wertheim & Co., Steven Kotler turns 72… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times for 40 years, covering the US Supreme Court for most of that time (1978-2007), she is now a lecturer at Yale Law School, Linda Greenhouse turns 72… Presidential historian, spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, visiting fellow or lecturer at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, GW, Hopkins and Penn universities, Alvin S. Felzenberg turns 70…
Australian author of more than 40 books of children’s and young adult fiction, including a five book series about a 10-year-old Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Poland, Morris Gleitzman turns 66… Former Governor of the Bank of Israel (2013-2018), she was the first woman to hold this post, Karnit Flug turns 64… London-born, now NYC-based investment banker, Joel Darren Plasco turns 48… Former Program Officer at Maimonides Fund and now at Manhattan Day School, Allison Liebman Rubin… Former contestant on the third season of NBC’s “The Voice,” now a contributing writer at The New Yorker, writer of many articles on Syria and Iraq, Ben Taub turns 28… Strategic growth manager at real estate firm Compass, she was an associate at DC-based Bluelight Strategies, Madeline Peterson turns 27… Television and film actress, she starred in 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and is the daughter of businessman Nelson Peltz, Nicola Peltz turns 24…
DRIVING THE DAY — The Senate is scheduled to vote on a motion to proceed to open debate on the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 — legislation that would authorize U.S. military assistance to Israel and empower local governments to take up anti-BDS measures. However, a growing number of Democrats have announced their opposition to the legislation until the Republicans call a vote on the House-passed bills to reopen the government.
Following the lead of Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin from Maryland, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that he will vote against the procedural vote in protest of the ongoing shutdown. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in response, “It would be a stunning reversal for Sen. Schumer to suddenly block security assistance to Israel simply because he can’t work out his differences with President Trump on an unrelated matter.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) claimed on Monday that Senate Democrats are using the shutdown as a cover for divisions within the Democratic caucus over the anti-BDS measure. “A huge argument broke out at [a] Senate Dem meeting last week over BDS,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “A significant number of Senate Democrats now support BDS and Dem leaders want to avoid a floor vote that reveals that.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who serves with Rubio on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, disputed that characterization. “You know it isn’t true that ‘a significant number of Senate Dems support BDS’. [It’s] really dangerous to play politics with support for Israel,” Murphy tweeted.
A Senate Democratic source tells Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh: “Rubio’s tweet is inaccurate and doesn’t portray the meeting as it happened, which its focus was, amongst the caucus, to do everything possible to reopen the government, and not hold agencies that have nothing to do with paying for a wall hostage. If we’re going to be voting on stuff that has already passed the House, it should be the bill that reopens the government. This is more of a distraction attempt. Re-open the government and then consider all the bills that are brought to the floor.”
AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann emails us: “We strongly support this legislation which contains pro-Israel provisions that have previously gained wide bipartisan support – and we urge the Senate to move as quickly as possible to adopt it.”
Anti-BDS Bill Battles up Senate Hill — by Armin Rosen: “Hill sources have confirmed to Tablet that the meeting in the question occurred last Thursday and that the anti-BDS measure was discussed.” [Tablet]
DRIVING THE CONVO — A week into her first term in Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) faces criticism from fellow Democrats for suggesting that members of Congress supporting pro-Israel legislation may not put their own country’s interests first, but instead are more loyal to Israel. “They forgot what country they represent,” Tlaib tweeted on January 6.
“Questioning the loyalty of Members of Congress or suggesting dual loyalty is unfair, and it is dangerous,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) told Jewish Insider. “We all swear an oath to the Constitution. And just as we fight for freedom and equality, we also have the right to defend one of our closest allies against efforts to isolate them and damage any prospects for peace through a two-state solution.”
In her tweet, Tlaib also charged that supporters of the pro-Israel package should take “a refresher on our U.S. Constitution” and “then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.” Tlaib echoes the concern of some detractors of the bill, in particular, that it infringes on First Amendment rights.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) replied to Tlaib’s implication of dual loyalty in an email to Jewish Insider, “That’s pretty rich that someone who literally wore a Palestinian flag at her victory party is lecturing about dual loyalty.” [JewishInsider]
The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) tweeted, “We oppose your charge of dual loyalty” to Tlaib on Monday. “It’s wrong, dangerous, and hurts the cause of peace. Whether one supports a particular bill or not, it’s offensive to insinuate that senators would be driven by anything other than the best interests of the U.S.”
Abe Foxman emails us: “Tlaib‘s anti-Semitic trope is sad but not surprising. This anti-Semitic canard has been part of the pro-Palestinian propaganda for years that enveloped the Congresswoman in the community she grew up in. That is the classic anti-Semitic charge of dual loyalty. It is crucial that there be a strong bi-partisan rejection of this outrageous expression.”
LONG READ — How the murders of two elderly Jewish women shook France — by James McAuley: “If the old anti-Semitism was associated with France’s Catholic far right, which has hardly disappeared, the “new anti-Semitism” is today used almost exclusively to describe Muslim hatred of Jews. In that sense, many on the left believe that “naming the problem” actually makes it worse, enshrining difference in a society that officially recognizes none, and repeating the kind of racial stereotypes that only exacerbate social divisions. But others, both on the right and in the Jewish community, ask whether Attal and the other French Jews who have been killed since 2003 are collateral damage in an egalitarian social project that was always doomed to fail. They often decry what they call “ostrich politics,” what they see as the willful blindness of the left with regard to Islam.” [TheGuardian]
AOC WATCH — Mark Cuban says he’s a ‘big fan’ of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and hopes she can ‘set a different tone’ in Washington — by John Haltiwanger: “Mark Cuban is a “big fan” of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and thinks it’s “great that she wants to be radical.” But he’s also calling on her to break from the “partisan approach” that [represents] U.S. politics today. “She has a real opportunity to be one of the game changers,” Cuban told Business Insider of Ocasio-Cortez on Monday. “I hope she takes on the challenge.” [BusinessInsider]
TOUR OF THE REGION — Pompeo, in Cairo speech, to rebuke Obama’s Mideast vision — by Nahal Toosi: “In his speech, to be given in Cairo, Pompeo plans to repudiate the Middle East vision of former President Barack Obama, who famously delivered an address to the broader Muslim world while in Egypt in 2009. Pompeo will slam Obama’s engagement with Iran, sources told POLITICO, while asserting that President Donald Trump has the region’s best interests at heart… Two people outside the administration who have been briefed on the speech… said the drafts so far had a distinctly anti-Obama flavor.”
“Pompeo is stopping in Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. A visit to Iraq is also possible, as is a stop in Israel.” [Politico]
Iran Has Held U.S. Navy Veteran Since July, Family Says — by Rick Gladstone: “The imprisonment of the veteran, Michael R. White, 46, from Imperial Beach, Calif., could further complicate relations between the United States and Iran… At least three other American citizens, two of them of Iranian descent, have been incarcerated in Iran for years… In addition, the United States has repeatedly asked Iran for information concerning the whereabouts of Robert A. Levinson, a former F.B.I. agent who disappeared in the country in 2007. His family in the United States has held out hope that he is alive.”[NYTimes]
DAYLIGHT — Erdogan rebukes Bolton over Kurdish militia comments — by Steve Holland and Orhan Coskun:“President Tayyip Erdogan said John Bolton, who met Turkish officials in Ankara on Tuesday but left Turkey without holding expected talks with the president, had “made a serious mistake” in setting conditions for Turkey’s military role after the U.S. pull-out… A senior Turkish official said Bolton had asked to see Erdogan, and that his earlier remarks may have been a factor in the meeting not going ahead. Erdogan later told reporters there was no need for him to meet Bolton.” [Reuters; DailySabah]
— “We cannot accept Bolton’s messages given from Israel,” the Turkish president said.” [CNBC]
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — John Bolton Walked Back Syria Statement. His Disdain for Debate Helped Produce It — by Mark Landler and Helene Cooper: “Mr. Bolton, officials said, was surprised by the timing of Mr. Trump’s announcement, which contradicted his own pledge in September to keep American troops in Syria. Faced with the president’s abrupt declaration… Mr. Bolton felt compelled to talk his boss into slowing down the process… “Bolton is trying to salvage the situation, but he’s unable to do so, because everyone in the region will question whether he is speaking for himself or for the president,” said Martin Indyk… Mr. Bolton, officials said, has put his energy into keeping the ear of the president. His strategy has worked on some issues, like withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, but less so on others, like maintaining a presence in Syria to counter Iranian influence.” [NYTimes]
HAPPENING TONIGHT AT 9PM — The major television networks — CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS and Fox broadcast network— all said on Monday that they had agreed to the White House’s request to air President Donald Trump’s prime time address on border security. This is Trump’s first time using the setting for an address to the nation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that they should be given an equal amount of time to respond.[CSPAN]
TRANSITIONS — Richard Goldberg, a GOP foreign policy expert, is joining the White House’s National Security Council as its new Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction. Goldberg was the lead Congressional staff negotiator for sanctions on Iran prior to the nuclear deal in 2015 in his capacity as deputy chief of staff and senior foreign policy adviser to former Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). [JewishInsider]
Former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have joined Akin Gump, an international law firm, as senior advisors in the firm’s public law and policy practice in Washington, DC.
SIGHTING — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Dina Powell and Eli Miller were spotted having dinner together at Cafe Milano last night. h/t Playbook
SCOTUS WATCH — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Misses Supreme Court Arguments — by Adam Liptak: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent cancer surgery last month, was missing from the bench on Monday for the Supreme Court’s first arguments since the court returned from its four-week holiday break. Justice Ginsburg… has never before missed an argument in her 25 years on the court. Kathleen Arberg, a court spokeswoman, said Justice Ginsburg was working from home.” [NYTimes; WSJ]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Israel’s Netanyahu Demands to Confront His Accusers Publicly — by Ivan Levingston: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday demanded that he be allowed to confront former close aides who have turned state’s witness in several corruption cases against him, even inviting them to a public debate. The Israeli leader… said he’s “4000 percent sure” that he’s innocent of the allegations against him, playing on the name for one of the investigations against him, known as Case 4000… “What do they have to be afraid of, what do they have to hide?” Netanyahu asked in a prime-time announcement.” [Bloomberg]
HOW IT PLAYED — Netanyahu, Feeling Heat, Grabs Spotlight to Assail ‘Witch Hunt’ Investigation — by David Halbfinger: “The announcement set Israel abuzz with suspense late Monday afternoon: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a “dramatic statement” to deliver at 8 p.m., at the start of the most heavily watched news hour. Would it be about Iran? Hezbollah? Hamas? The Trump peace plan? The subject, it turned out, was an existential threat not to Israel, but to Mr. Netanyahu’s career.” [NYTimes] • Critics pan Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘dramatic address’ [LATimes]
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Newsweek’s Marc Schulman:“Now we have a person that both the police and the prosecutor’s office said should stand trial for three different cases… and in Israel we are going to ask if we want to elect him once again as Prime Minister? That’s crazy, that’s just crazy.” [Newsweek]
ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — The New Right party announced that deaf rights activist Shirley Pinto will be joining its list as the first-ever deaf Knesset candidate… Maj. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Dayan announced his candidacyfor the Likud’s primary elections, eying the defense ministry portfolio in the next government… Labor Party chair Avi Gabbay visited Abu Dhabi in early December and met with senior UAE officials to boost his foreign policy credentials, Barak Ravid reports…
2020 WATCH — Democrat Beto O’Rourke Plans Solo Road Trip to Meet Voters Outside Texas — by Reid Epstein and Ken Thomas: “Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is asking aides to create an itinerary for him to take a solo road trip outside of Texas where he would “pop into places” such as community college campuses, as he considers whether to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.” [WSJ]
** Good Tuesday 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: SoftBank to slash planned WeWork investment[FinancialTimes; WSJ] • Salesforce’s Marc Benioff unplugged for two weeks, and had a revelation that could change the tech industry[CNBC] • Elliott makes $2 billion bid for US oil producer QEP Resources [FinancialTimes; Reuters] • CBS News, in Need of Fixing, Turns to Susan Zirinsky [NYTimes] • Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. picked Sheepshead Bay shopping center from the LeFrak Organization for more than $38 million[TheRealDeal] • Hill-Rom, Wells Fargo’s VC invest in Israel’s EarlySense[Reuters] • After default in Tel Aviv, Boaz Gilad resigns from Brookland holding company [TheRealDeal]
STARTUP NATION — Israel’s ‘startup nation’ is under threat from the tech giants that nurtured it — by Matthew Kalman: “Michael Eisenberg, a partner at the venture capital firm Aleph, whose investments include Israeli-driven companies like WeWork and Wix… says a number of Israeli companies that have successfully grown big—including Check Point, Nice, and IronSource—give him confidence that Israel can mature into a “scale-up nation.” But he is concerned that the expanding presence of multinationals could slow that growth. There is certainly evidence to suggest that the influx of multinational interest and investment is taking the fizz out of Israel’s startup ecosystem. The number of startups founded each year is falling, while the number that close each year is rising.” [TechnologyReview] • Here’s why Amazon would buy an obscure Israeli company that specializes in disaster recovery [CNBC]
PROFILE — Planned Parenthood’s New President Wants To Focus On Non-Abortion Health Care — by Ema O’Connor: “Leana Wen, 35, is only about two months into her tenure as the new head of Planned Parenthood, but she hit the ground running with this new campaign that sent the clear message: Planned Parenthood is first and foremost a health care organization, not a political symbol… But some Democratic strategists are concerned that Wen’s shift to focusing on health care over politics is a sign Planned Parenthood is backing away from the fight. “It’s a symbol of fatigue, the battle has been a tough one and they’re tired,” Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic campaign consultant… told BuzzFeed News. “If you publicly project that you’re no longer an advocate but a provider of medical services, the presumption is the bad guys will no longer beat you up because you’re no longer poking a stick in their eyes all the time.” [BuzzFeed]
Therapist Sees Herself on TV’s ‘Billions,’ Except for One Thing — by Simone Foxman: “Like many on Wall Street, Denise Shull has been a regular viewer of Showtime’s “Billions.” … But there’s one similarity she says she can’t get over: Dr. Wendy Rhoades, the performance coach at fictional hedge fund Axe Capital who works with the firm’s traders… That character is an “unauthorized rip-off,” Shull, who’s also a performance coach for traders, claimed in a lawsuit filed last month… Shull, 59, doesn’t work at a hedge fund, but says a fictionalized version of herself did in her 2012 book, “Market Mind Games: A Radical Psychology of Investing, Trading and Risk.” She claims in her lawsuit that “Billions” creators, including Andrew Ross Sorkin, Brian Koppelman and David Levien, borrowed heavily from the book without compensating her.” [Bloomberg]
TOP QUOTE — Michael Douglas, who won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy award at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards dedicated his award to his father: Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, who is 102 years old. “Altacockers rule,” the younger Douglas said in his acceptance speech, using the Yiddish term for old person. [NBCNews]
DESSERT — Why Andy Warhol’s Brillo pads — and a million other things — are kosher — by Menachem Wecker: “Warhol’s Brillo boxes with the OU symbol — currently on display in New York in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s retrospective “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again” — reflects how ubiquitous kashrut… has become in the United States, according to Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher… Even if kosher certification isn’t needed, some companies still want it as a selling point for their products. “They’re looking to emphasize this standard of quality, which the OU symbol represents,” Genack said.” [ReligionNews]
The Art Museum Neighborhood in Philly Gains a Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant — by Rachel Vigoda: “The family behind Su Xing House, the long-running vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Sansom Street in Center City, just opened another meat-free Chinese eatery. Unit Su Vege is in its first week at 2000 Hamilton Street, right by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the city’s flagship Whole Foods. The new restaurant is also kosher, with several vegan and gluten-free options.” [EaterPhilly]
REMEMBERING — Norman Birnbaum, left-wing sociologist and journalist with the Nation, dies at 92 — by Harrison Smith: “Norman Birnbaum, a left-wing sociologist and journalist who championed progressive causes on both sides of the Atlantic, helping establish the New Left Review in Britain and serving as a veteran member of the editorial board at the Nation, died Jan. 4 at a Washington hospital… Norman Birnbaum was born in Manhattan on July 21, 1926, and raised in the Bronx. His mother was a homemaker, and his father — the son of a Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe — was a high school teacher who subscribed to the Nation and the New Republic…In part as a result of graduate work in Germany and his years teaching in Britain, Dr. Birnbaum maintained a vast circle of friends and acquaintances that included German statesman Willy Brandt, “liberal lion” Edward M. Kennedy, philosophers Isaiah Berlin and Iris Murdoch, and fellow journalists Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz.” [WashPost]
BIRTHDAYS: Talmudic scholar living in Bnei Brak, Israel, widely acclaimed as the leader of the Haredi community, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky turns 91… Voice actor, television, film and stage actor and comedian, Larry Storch turns 96… Moscow-born classical pianist, living in the US since 1987, Vladimir Feltsman turns 67… Founder and chief investment officer of Pzena Investment Management, a NYC-based investment firm with $36 billion in assets under management, Richard “Rich” Pzena turns 60… Co-founder and co-owner of Pizza Shuttle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mark Gold turns 56… Founder and president of DC-based Professionals in the City, he is a leading DC party planner, Michael Karlan turns 51… Lobbyist, attorney, patron of contemporary art and philanthropist, she is the founder and CEO of lobbying firm, Invariant, Heather Miller Podesta turns 49… Former State Senator in Maine (2008-2016), Justin Loring Alfond turns 44… Director of public policy and strategic partnerships for CareDotCom, she was previously deputy director of the White House Council on Women and Girls for President Obama, Avra Siegel turns 37… Dayton, Ohio native, former deputy editor of Newsweek, he was previously at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Ross M. Schneiderman turns 37…
Richard Goldberg, a GOP foreign policy expert, is joining the White House’s National Security Council as its new Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Goldberg was the lead Congressional staff negotiator for sanctions on Iran prior to the nuclear deal in 2015 in his capacity as deputy chief of staff and senior foreign policy adviser to former Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), and later served as chief of staff for former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
After stepping down from his government position in 2017, Goldberg joined the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) as a senior advisor and an expert on Iran.
Bibi-Putin bromance – the aftermath: Before Bibi headed to Putin’s dacha in Sochi, politicians across the political spectrum wished him luck. But now that the meeting is over,…
WASHINGTON – During a meeting with Republican Congressmen this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the lawmakers to “get rid of the sunset clause” from the 2015…
While Bibi is meeting Putin in Sochi, the US special envoy to Syria, Michael Ratney, is in Jerusalem this week, Kafe Knesset has learned. Ratney will be meeting…
WASHINGTON – Fresh off a trip to Israel with 32 other Republican House Members, Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) slammed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for justifying payments to…
Dasvidaniya, Bibi: Netanyahu is preparing for a day trip to Sochi, Russia. There, he will be meeting President Putin tomorrow for the sixth time in the past two…
Instructions from the top? This Saturday night marked the 39th consecutive week of protests near Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit’s home. The demonstrators continue to call for Netanyahu to…