Daily Kickoff: Trump team triples down on Holocaust statement | Former classmate describes Ellison’s rants about Jews | Viral Rabbi’s Super Bowl Party


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TOP TALKER: “House Republicans Avoid Voting on a Resolution Stating That the Holocaust Targeted Jews” by Osita Nwanevu: “House Republicans blocked a resolution advanced by Democrats on Tuesday declaring that Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust… The resolution… condemned the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement… It also called for the House to reiterate “the indisputable fact that the Nazi regime targeted the Jewish people in its perpetration of the Holocaust,” condemn Holocaust denialism, and demand acknowledgment from the White House that Jews were targeted.” [Slate; DCExaminer

TRIPLE DOWN: “WH official: We’ll say ‘fake news’ until media realizes attitude of attacking the President is wrong” by Chris Massie: Sebastian Gorka (deputy assistant to President Trump) was asked by Michael Medved whether he would acknowledge that the administration’s controversial statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day was “at least questionable in being the first such statement in many years that didn’t recognize that Jewish extermination was the chief goal of the Holocaust.” Gorka replied by calling criticism of the statement “asinine,” arguing that it was motivated by the media’s desire to attack Trump. “It’s a Holocaust remembrance statement,” Gorka said. “No, I’m not going to admit it. Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the President.”” [CNN]

Florida Dem donor Andrew Weinstein emails us: “What we’re witnessing now is a combination of malevolence and incompetence never before seen from any previous administration. At a time when Jewish community centers are being targeted with bomb threats and New York City subway cars are littered with anti-Semitic graffiti, the Trump administration’s decision to intentionally omit any mention of the Jewish people in a Holocaust Remembrance Day statement is uniquely egregious… While I can only speculate about what would motivate this sort of behavior, there’s something deeply troubling about a White House that expends more energy attacking the Jewish community than it ever did disavowing David Duke.”

TRUMP TUMULT: “Leaks Suggest Trump’s Own Team Is Alarmed By His Conduct” by S.V. Date and Christina Wilkie: “I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council. “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.” … To Cohen… the problem is not the leakers. It’s the president. Because Trump has shown no true affection or respect for anyone outside his immediate family, Cohen said, he cannot expect that of his staff. “This is what happens when you have a narcissist as president.” [HuffPost]  

“In 2012 interviews, Steve Bannon compared protesters on the left to the Nazi Brownshirts” by Andrew Kaczynski: “The Occupy movement is really a combination of the internet, the media, and street thugs. Right? It’s a weapon of intimidation,” Bannon said in September 2012. “It is the moral equivalent today of the Brownshirts of the 1930s. It’s going to be used as a weapon of intimidation.” [CNN]

INBOX — ZOA’s Mort Klein Urges House Minority Leader Pelosi to Retract ‘Slander’ Against Stephen Bannon: “We are thus deeply disappointed that Congresswoman Pelosi repeatedly defamed presidential advisor and National Security Council member Stephen Bannon on February 2, 2017 by wrongly and falsely calling him a “white supremacist.” … Mr. Bannon also hired and worked closely with persons of every race and creed at Breitbart (gay, straight, white, black, Orthodox Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc., etc.), again confirming that he is definitively not a “white supremacist.””

President-in-law: ‘”A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax” by John Schwartz: “James Baker is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president, and Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, as well as Ivanka Trump.” [NYTimes] • Read the Shultz-Baker Op-Ed here [WSJ]

SCENE YESTERDAY: The Hudson Institute hosted a policy luncheon featuring a conversation between Peter Thiel and Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, at the University Club in NYC. The typically strict private social club allowed a tieless Thiel to break a house rule that states “gentleman members and guests are required to wear jackets, dress shirts and ties.” The off-the-record discussion focused heavily on transparency in politics brought about by technology.

SPOTTED: Rupert Murdoch, Sarah May Stern, Terry Kassel, Ken Bialkin, Joshua Landes, Dan Senor, Bret Stephens, Walter Russell Mead, John Walters, Daria Tarasova, Lewis ’Scooter’ Libby, Hillel Fradkin, Heather Higgins, Lana Volftsun, Benjamin Haddad, Jasper Goldberg, Henry Zieve Cohen, and Allison Lee Pillinger Choi.

“Ivanka Trump oversaw Murdoch daughter’s trust” by Christopher Matthews: “Ivanka Trump stepped down on December 28th from a five-person board that oversees a $300 million trust owned by Rupert Murdoch’s youngest daughters, the Financial Times reports. The FT says that Trump had been on the board for several years, going back before her father’s presidential campaign. Why it matters: The news illustrates the close relationship between the Trumps and the Murdochs, a relationship that could have wide implications for Corporate America.” [Axios; FT]

INTERVIEW — former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spoke to JI’s Aaron Magid about the U.S.-Israel relationship and shared his views on the developing relationship between Netanyahu and President Trump, the appointment of David Friedman as his successor, and the new administration’s Middle East policy.

Q: How will the Trump-Netanyahu relationship impact US support for Israel among non-Trump voters?

Shapiro: “One of the things President Obama always placed a high priority on when he was President was maintaining a bipartisan support for Israel and that at times meant making it clear to members of his own party that his support for Israel and its security and our commitment to Israel was sacrosanct, even during periods of disagreement so I think that a similar commitment by the new administration to maintaining bipartisan support for Israel is a healthy one for the US-Israel relationship… I hope very much that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu will bear that in mind as they conduct a relationship, it’s important to find ways of inclusion for all constituencies in support of the US-Israel relationship.”

Q: How did you interpret Netanyahu’s tweet supporting Trump’s wall on America’s Mexican border?

Shapiro: “It surprised me that he chose to weigh in publicly on an issue that was very divisive and controversial even in a partisan sense in the US, including with some key constituencies that he does care about including Latinos and maybe other progressives. It suggested to me that there was some pressure placed on the Israeli government to provide support for that aspect of President Trump’s agenda and since there’s no direct Israeli interest in US policy on our southern border, I found that surprising.”

Q: The Trump Administration introduced a list 78 terror attacks that were under-reported. Were you surprised that Israel was omitted from this list?

Shapiro: “I think if one were to make a list of terrorist attacks that didn’t get much attention outside of the immediate area where they occurred, it would be hard not to include attacks against Israelis on that list because there have been quite a number that have received scant attention outside of Israel. I think some of the other attacks listed on that list have indeed received a lot more coverage than some of the ones in Israel.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

ON THE HILL: “Cardin: No Delay in Friedman’s Confirmation Hearing” by Aaron Magid: “Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) denied a Ynet report on Tuesday that the confirmation process for David Friedman, President Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel, has been stalled for political purposes. When asked if lawmakers were delaying his confirmation, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Jewish Insider, “Not at all. None the least. We still have not gotten all of the material that is required before we can move forward.”” [JewishInsider

“US tight-lipped as Israel settler law sparks world outrage” by Laurent Lozano: “Washington refused direct comment, in stark contrast to the settlement criticism repeatedly voiced under Barack Obama. “Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu will be here on February 15. I don’t want to get ahead of that now,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said… Human Rights Watch said the legislation “reflects Israel’s manifest disregard of international law”. “The Trump administration cannot shield them from the scrutiny of the International Criminal Court,” HRW warned.” [Yahoo

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Iran scorns Trump, rebuffs U.S. warning on missiles” by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin: “When asked about Khamenei’s comments on Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Iran must recognize that the United States is under new leadership. “This president is not going to sit by and let Iran flout its violations or apparent violations to the joint agreement,” Spicer said at a briefing. “I think Iran is kidding itself if they don’t realize there’s a new president in town.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would not renegotiate the nuclear deal… “I believe Trump will push for renegotiation. But Iran and European countries will not accept that,” Zarif told Tuesday’s edition of Ettelaat daily. “We will have difficult days ahead.”” [Reuters

“Iran pulls missile from launchpad after apparent prep for launch, US officials say” by Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin: “New satellite imagery from Feb. 3, obtained exclusively by Fox News from ImageSat International and verified by U.S. officials, showed Iran preparing a Safir for launch. That missile is the type Iran has previously used to put a satellite into space… In a surprising about face, Fox News learned Tuesday morning that Iran’s missile had been removed from the launchpad. It was not immediately clear why…” [FoxNews

“White House Weighs Terrorist Designation for Muslim Brotherhood” by Peter Baker: “The proposal to declare it a terrorist organization has been paired with a plan to similarly designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to current and former officials briefed on the deliberations… The Iran part of the plan has strong support within the White House, but momentum behind the Muslim Brotherhood proposal seems to have slowed in recent days amid objections from career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council, who argue that there is no legal basis for it and that it could alienate allies in the region. Former officials said that they had been told the order would be signed on Monday, but that it had now been put off at least until next week… In his short time in office, Mr. Trump has already come under pressure from Arab allies eager for such a designation.” [NYTimes; Reuters

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: It was a bright, sunny day today in Jerusalem, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to enjoy the great winter weather with a publicized outdoor stroll. He invited Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon to join him for a plate of Hummus on a Jerusalem street and invited the whole country to watch, broadcasting about eight minutes on Facebook Live. Netanyahu has been gradually expanding his use of the Live tool, regularly updating his followers about the day’s news (from his perspective, at least). Netanyahu explained to his Facebook viewers that he wanted to celebrate a year of a successful economy, but the event and live broadcast suggest that Netanyahu is clearly grasping to secure his popularity and divert the discourse from focusing on the several criminal investigations currently underway.

Last night, Channel 2’s Amit Segal presented Netanyahu’s defense in what is considered the most serious probe so far, commonly referred to as “file 1000.” According to the report, Netanyahu told the police “he didn’t know” of the gifts Arnon Milchan gave to his wife Sara Netanyahu, and was also “unaware” of the price and total of the cigars he allegedly received from Milchan himself. Legally, this may assist Netanyahu in the future decision on indictment by the Attorney General. But publicly, many noted Netanyahu’s shift. After weeks of insisting “There is nothing because there was nothing,” he moved to “I didn’t know.”

Netanyahu’s upcoming meeting with President Trump is another chance to dominate the headlines and distract from the scandalous reports about him and his criminal investigations. As a senior cabinet minister told Kafe Knesset: “Trump is exactly what Netanyahu needs right now because he can truly present himself as the right person and the right time and the right place to deal with the new president.” But Netanyahu is facing right-wing pressure to return home with a dramatic change of policy from Trump… the pro-settler faction in the Likud party has started to gather signatures for a petition calling on Netanyahu to denounce his support for the two-state solution during his upcoming visit to the United States. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset[JewishInsider]

“The Teenagers Pushing Israel to the Right” by Naomi Zeveloff: “Last December, the teenagers were crestfallen when Amona’s leaders agreed to peacefully evacuate the settlement for a new West Bank site… The disillusionment spread among Amona’s young supporters, fueling their protest. More loyal to the land than to institutions, these teen activists represent a potent and growing political force. Even though many of these activists are too young to vote, they shape Israeli politics, pulling it incrementally rightward with each highly publicized protest… In other parts of the world, wandering teens might find themselves experimenting with drugs or alcohol. In the West Bank, ideology is the substance of choice. Broadly speaking, these teens, often referred to as hilltop youth, see as hypocritical Israel’s self-identification as a Jewish and democratic state.” [TheAtlantic]

“What Jordan’s King told Trump” by Shlomi Eldar: “According to the Palestinian source, when the Palestinians discovered that Abdullah was scheduled to meet Trump in Washington during the traditional National Prayer Breakfast event, Abbas made a special trip to Amman. There he asked the king to pass on a message of reconciliation to Trump… According to the source, “In the short time he had before the Hilton event, in his pleasant manner, and with well-reasoned explanations, King Abdullah reviewed with Trump the dangers of Israel’s unrestrained [settlement] policy. Abdullah explained that this policy is likely to lead to unwelcome flare-ups [in the region].” .. According to the source, Trump listened to Abdullah but did not explicitly commit himself to taking any action.” [Al-Monitor]

“Israel targeted under law passed to help 9/11 families sue Saudis” by Nahal Toosi: “In a 103-page complaint filed Feb. 1, attorney Martin F. McMahon alleges that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as U.S. charities tied to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s Israel ambassador pick David Friedman, are complicit in war crimes against Palestinians because of their financial support for settlement activity in the West Bank. The suit could bolster critics of the Saudi-targeted law, who warned U.S. lawmakers that the statute opened the door to legal claims that ultimately could drag U.S. officials into court, even on flimsy grounds.” [Politico]

Rand Paul — “Do not let Elliott Abrams anywhere near the State Department: I hope against hope that the rumors are wrong and that President Donald Trump will not open the State Department door to the neocons. Crack the door to admit Elliott Abrams and the neocons will scurry in by the hundreds… These are the same people who think we must blow up half the Middle East, then rebuild it and police it for decades. They’re wrong and they should not be given a voice in this administration.” [Rare]

DNC WATCH: “Keith Ellison Is Everything Republicans Thought Obama Was” by Tim Murphy: “Michael Olenick, a Jewish student who clashed with Ellison and who was the opinions editor at the Daily, recalled Ellison maintaining that an oppressed group could not be racist toward Jews because Jews were themselves oppressors. “European white Jews are trying to oppress minorities all over the world,” Olenick remembers Ellison arguing. “Keith would go on all the time about ‘Jewish slave traders.'” Another Jewish student active in progressive politics recalled Ellison’s incredulous response to the controversy over Zionism. “What are you afraid of?” Ellison asked. “Do you think black nationalists are gonna get power and hurt Jews?”

“Ellison labored to show Jewish progressives he’d turned a page. He picked up the endorsement of the American Jewish World, the Twin Cities-based newspaper, and he addressed voters’ concerns about Farrakhan at the state’s largest synagogue… Choosing Ellison to lead the Democratic Party would be a gamble… It might alienate a small but influential faction of Democratic leaders, such as Haim Saban. (At a debate featuring DNC candidates in January, Ellison said he and Saban had spoken and “we’re on the road to recovery.”)” [MotherJones; Mediaite

** 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 **

MEDIA WATCH: “Times Names Wall Street Journal Editor to Its Masthead” by Sydney Amber: “Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, has been named a deputy managing editor of The New York Times, one of the top leadership positions at the newspaper. Ms. Blumenstein will become one of the highest-ranking women in The Times’s newsroom. In a note to the staff announcing the appointment on Tuesday, Dean Baquet, the executive editor, and Joe Kahn, the managing editor, said that Ms. Blumenstein, 50, would help the newsroom “do all the big things we intend to do in 2017 and beyond.”” [NYTimes]

“Meredith, Bronfman Move Forward in Effort to Acquire Time Inc.” by Jeffrey Trachtenberg: “Meredith, which publishes such magazines as Family Circle, Shape and Better Homes & Gardens, in recent days signed a nondisclosure agreement with Time Inc. and is expected in coming weeks to get a look at some of the company’s data and meet with its senior management, one of the people said. The group led by [Edgar] Bronfman and Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, whose earlier overtures to Time Inc. were rejected, has also signed a nondisclosure agreement and has already met with senior Time Inc. executives, one of the people said.” [WSJ]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “The Babylonian Talmud Is Now Available For Free Online in English and Hebrew” by Yair Rosenberg: “Sefaria, an online non-profit bringing traditional Jewish texts to the internet, announced that it will be posting the entire compendium with the crisp bilingual translation of Jerusalem polymath Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Yisrael… Both translations will be available to anyone with an internet connection, thanks to a grant from the William Davidson Foundation. Sefaria has already posted the Talmud’s first 22 tractates in English; the rest, along with the modern Hebrew translations, will be rolling out through 2017.” [Tablet; Sefaria]

“Viral rabbi captures hearts of online ‘congregation’ via social media” by Lisa Klug: “While Americans are still digesting the presidential inauguration, the new administration, and the Women’s Marches across the country, one of their brethren is putting his focus elsewhere. With a wardrobe of onesies, an infectious smile and unbridled enthusiasm, Meir Kay is a 21st-century badchan, a hasid-turned-jester with millions of views on social media. Kay grew up in Connecticut and attended Chabad Lubavitch yeshivas in Miami, Florida; Manchester, England; Postville, Iowa; and Singapore, where he received rabbinical ordination. He first gained widespread traction in September 2014 with his high-spirited video “High Five New York,” which has drawn more than 2.3 million views.” [ToI] • Watch Kay’s latest viral video: “Not Your Typical Super Bowl Party” [Facebook]

BIRTHDAYS: Boston attorney and author, whose 2013 book on Jews and baseball was turned into the 2016 play “Swing, Schmendrick, Swing,” Larry Ruttman turns 86… Broadcast journalist, best known as the anchor of ABC’s Nightline from its inception in 1980 until his retirement in late 2005, five-time Emmy Award winner, Ted Koppel (born Edward James Martin Koppel) turns 77… Stand-up comedian, singer and actor (stage, television and film), Robert Klein turns 75… Columbus, Ohio born attorney and president of Schottenstein Legal Services, James M. Schottenstein turns 70… Graduate of Harvard Law School with an MBA from Stanford, active private investor and business operator, Marc Abramowitz turns 64… Rebecca Sugar, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Mosaic United… Senior Director of Kehilla Affiliations and Operations for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Barry S. Mael turns 59… British businessman and chairman of the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur since 2001, Daniel Levy turns 55… Attorney, rabbi and New Jersey political consultant, Benjamin G. Kelsen turns 45… Popular Israeli musician, singer and songwriter, released five albums between 1997 and 2013, three of which followed his becoming a baal teshuva in 2004, Eviatar Banai turns 44… Former Deputy Assistant to the President Obama for Energy and Climate Change, now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Heather Zichal turns 41 (h/t Playbook)… Professional ice hockey center, has been under contract with five NHL teams including the Islanders, Lightning, Penguins, Maple Leafs and Predators, Trevor Smith turns 32… Canadian jazz-pop singer-songwriter, who performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Nicole “Nikki” Yanofsky turns 23… Attorney Advisor / Assistant Counsel to the Inspector General at US Small Business Administration, Adam Kaplan (h/t Playbook)…

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Daily Kickoff: Seth Klarman on Trump | MK Hanegbi interview | Julia Hahn profile | After sitting with James Baker at Super Bowl, Pence to speak at RJC


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TOP TALKER: “A Quiet Giant of Investing Weighs In on Trump” by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “A private letter he wrote to his investors a little over two weeks ago about investing during the age of President Trump… has quietly become the most sought-after reading material on Wall Street… In his letter, Seth Klarman sets forth a countervailing view to the euphoria that has buoyed the stock market since Mr. Trump took office, describing “perilously high valuations.” “Exuberant investors have focused on the potential benefits of stimulative tax cuts, while mostly ignoring the risks from America-first protectionism and the erection of new trade barriers,” he wrote… “The big picture for investors is this: Trump is high volatility, and investors generally abhor volatility and shun uncertainty,” he wrote. “Not only is Trump shockingly unpredictable, he’s apparently deliberately so; he says it’s part of his plan.” … Mr. Klarman is a registered independent and has given money to politicians from both parties.” [NYTimes]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Trump sizes up a critic for high-level State Department job,” by Michael Crowley: “President Donald Trump is close to tapping a longtime critic as the No. 2 official at the State Department, a move that would reassure foreign policy elites worried about a lack of diplomatic expertise at high levels in Trump’s administration. Trump will meet on Tuesday with Elliott Abrams, a former National Security Council and State Department official in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations… Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who favors Abrams for the job, will also attend the meeting. Abrams’s appointment has been on hold for weeks as White House officials, led by chief strategist Steve Bannon, reviewed his past criticism of Trump to determine whether he could be trusted.” [Politico]

“Trump’s Neocon?” by David A. Graham: “Matt Waxman, a former Bush administration State Department official… wrote that Abrams could be a strong asset to the administration. “Secretary Tillerson needs a strong #2 who knows the State Department and the interagency process, as well as the Washington and global diplomacy arenas,” Waxman said. “Elliott is masterful at working the levers in all of them.”” [TheAtlantic]

Robert Costa: “Senator Paul will oppose the nomination of Elliott Abrams to the No. 2 spot at State, per a senior aide close to Paul.” [Twitter]

President-in-law: “EU to Discuss Mideast Peace With Trump Officials” by Julian E. Barnes and Felicia Schwartz: “The European Union’s foreign-policy chief will head to Washington this week for meetings with the Trump administration on the Israel-Palestinian peace process… [Federica] Mogherini is set to arrive on Thursday and is scheduled to meet at the White House with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and Mike Flynn, national security adviser. Mr. Trump said has said Mr. Kushner will be his envoy to try to help negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” [WSJ• China Courts Ivanka, Jared Kushner to Smooth Ties With Trump [Bloomberg

“Jared as Trump Whisperer? How a hoary cliche can’t be good for the Jews” by Ron Kampeas: “Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO-emeritus, sees a sinister side to the elevation of the Trump-Kushners to figures of overweening influence made unavailable because of a Jewish ritual. “It’s about Jews controlling, in this case Orthodox Jews,” he said in an interview. “It’s disturbing, and sinister. What this comes down to is that if they didn’t observe the Sabbath, the immigration executive order wouldn’t have happened.” I asked him if he thought there was sinister intent, and Foxman said no, but that was not the point: The default of the Controlling Jew never ends well for them. “Ultimately, it blames the Jews for what goes on in the White House,” he said.” [JTA]

“White House offers list of terrorist attacks the press took lightly” by Rebecca Morin and David Cohen: “Oddly, the list includes no attacks in Israel, despite a spate of knife attacks in 2015-16 that were meant to terrorize the population.” [Politico]  

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” by Jay Solomon: “Mr. Trump and his advisers have made clear since assuming office that constraining Iran would be among their top priorities. They have also privately acknowledged there is no certainty the Kremlin will cooperate… The Trump administration’s show of force has raised concerns that the U.S. and Iran could stumble into a military conflict. But officials close to the Trump administration said they believed the White House could gain the respect of the Kremlin if it showed a commitment to enforcing its warnings to other governments.” [WSJ

“Kremlin says it disagrees with Trump’s assessment of Iran” by Maria Tsvetkova: “”Russia has friendly partner-like relations with Iran, we cooperate on a wide range of issues, value our trade ties, and hope to develop them further,” said [Kremlin spokesman Dmitry] Peskov.” [Reuters

“Pence Warns Iran to ‘Think Twice’ Before Testing Trump Administration” by Conor Finnegan: “Iran would do well not to test the resolve of this new president,” Pence said on “This Week” Sunday, adding that Iran should “think twice about their continued hostile and belligerent actions.” … Asked how the U.S. would respond to another provocation, Pence answered that the “president said everything’s on the table” — including military action… [George] Stephanopoulos pressed Pence on the administration’s policy toward Iran. “The president and I and our administration think it was a terrible deal,” the vice president said. “We’re evaluating [what to do next] as we speak.” [ABCNews] • McConnell: fate of Iran deal up to Trump [CNN]

“Netanyahu calls on ‘responsible nations’ to sanction Iran” by Angela Dewan: ”That’s why I welcome President Trump’s insistence on new sanctions against Iran. I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations, and I’d like to talk to you about how we can ensure Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered.” [CNN]

“May refuses Netanyahu’s call to impose new sanctions on Iran” by Patrick Wintour: “Following the meeting, May’s official spokeswoman said that the PM had “made clear that we support the deal on nuclear that was agreed… We also need to be alert to Iran’s pattern of destabilizing activity in the region.”” [Guardian]

INTERVIEW — Tzachi Hanegbi, a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Minister of Regional Cooperation, spoke with Jewish Insider‘s Aaron Magid about the Iran deal, settlement construction and recent legislation to defund the United Nations. With police investigations against the Israeli premier for alleged corruption intensifying, Ma’ariv and Al-Monitor columnist Ben Caspit wrote on Sunday that Netanyahu would likely select Hanegbi as his replacement if he were forced to step down.

Q: Last week you said, ‘Nobody, I think, in Israel is really calling for tearing the JCPOA agreement (Iran deal) apart.’ Why is this the case?

Hanegbi: “Because it is not realistic since it’s not only an American-Iranian agreement. It’s an agreement that was signed by the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and it was adopted by the United Nations and the European Union and by most countries in the world. The US can withdraw from the agreement, but it is not going to make the agreement disappear or be torn apart. So that is not a realistic demand.”

Q: In response to the UN Security Council vote in December critical of Israel, should the US cut off all of its assistance to the international body?

Hanegbi: “I feel that it is not going to be wise on my part to give suggestions to the United States what is the right way to repair the devastating damage that was done with this resolution. There are several ways to repair it. Not all of them are militant. Some of them can be through diplomacy. We know the target: to make this resolution disappear. How to do it? As I said, there are various options.”

Q: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build 3,000 settlement homes in the West Bank in addition to 2,500 units last week. Do you see this new construction surge in response to the new Trump presidency?

Hanegbi: “I really don’t know why it was announced. I remember many protests of the last administration so I am sure there were several occasions of such announcements. I don’t know why they were in week one [of the Trump admin] but I think that the administration understands that the way to go forward is to advance the negotiations and go back to discussing the issues. Once you have the solution, and you have final arrangements and two states for two people solution, there are no settlements anymore. There is a border and there is Palestine and Israel. This is a major understanding of the current administration.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

“Does Trump Actually Want to Succeed?” by Susan B. Glasser: “[James A. Baker]’s advice… don’t act as “Israel’s lawyer” … He also… argued that Israel is risking its future by building more settlements. “We have allies that are just scared to death,” he notes, as a result of Trump’s early rhetoric and unpredictable foreign policy… Baker… tells me he has also given his advice directly to Trump, Tillerson and Trump’s new chief of staff Reince Priebus. And presumably also Vice President Mike Pence, who was seated next to Baker at [Sunday] night’s Super Bowl in Houston.” [Politico

Baker on Jerusalem embassy: “If that happens, it’s going to make it a heck of a lot harder to even think about negotiating a peace deal, not to mention what the fallout will be in other countries in the region that would be opposed to that type of a move.” [Politico]

COMING SOON: According to Jon Ralston, “In one of his first major speeches outside DC, VP Pence will be in Vegas in late Feb. to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition.”

TRUMP TUMULT —  “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, occupies a central role in the administration and has been present at most major decisions and photo ops, but he is a father of young children who has taken to life in Washington, and, along with his wife, Ivanka Trump, has already been spotted at events around town. Mr. Bannon has rushed into the vacuum, telling allies that he and Mr. Miller have a brief window in which to push through their vision of Mr. Trump’s economic nationalism.” [NYTimes• ‘We’ll do better’: Trump’s White House tries to gain a sense of order amid missteps [WashPost]

“How Stephen Miller’s Rise Explains the Trump White House” by Rosie Gray: “Leaks out of the administration have also been unflattering to Miller… “They’re totally outmaneuvering him in the press,” the source close to Miller said. “I think he feels totally under assault. He’s not politically astute, he’s not ready for this.” But in an interview, Miller batted down the idea that he’s in conflict with Priebus and his allies… Miller came onboard the Trump campaign early on, before any primary votes had been cast, and rose quickly. But in an environment like Trump-world, where anyone who outshines the principal is at risk, that might not be the safest position.” [TheAtlantic]

PROFILE: “Becoming Steve Bannon’s Bannon” by Andrew Marant: “When [Julia] Hahn wrote for Breitbart, her primary beats were immigration and the perfidy of Republicans who, in her view, sold out American interests—especially the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan… William Sims, one of Hahn’s close friends, said, “She loved having intellectual debates and challenging assumptions, her own included. We didn’t talk primarily about politics, but I would say that she was never a by-the-book liberal—I think people just looked at her, saw this very sweet Jewish girl from California, and made assumptions.”” [NewYorker] • “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican” [NYT]

“Pro-Trump group hacked, website taken down in Cabinet fight” by Tom LoBianco: “The 45 Committee — a PAC started by mega-donors Todd Ricketts and Sheldon Adelson — released a new ad pushing Trump’s Cabinet picks this week… But the group was forced to take down its site after hackers got in and re-labeled some videos — a spot pushing Tom Price for Health and Human Services secretary was re-named “Steve Bannon is a White Supremacist” and the spot supporting Sen. Jeff Sessions was dubbed “Sessions is Deemed Too Racist to be a Federal Judge.”” [CNN]  

“Appointment of US ambassador to Israel delayed over political concerns” by Alex Fishman and Orly Azoulay: “David Friedman’s appointment as the US Ambassador to Israel has yet to be confirmed reportedly due to Republican concerns regarding Friedman’s rejection of the longstanding “two states for two peoples” solution.” [Ynet]

“Israel Passes Provocative Law to Retroactively Legalize Settlements” by Ian Fisher:“The vote on Monday, which passed, 60 to 52, retroactively legalized several thousand housing units in 16 settlements on about 2,000 acres of Palestinian-owned land. The law provides for compensation to Palestinian landowners…  Mr. Netanyahu and the right — some allies, some opponents — have taken into account that they have more leeway under President Trump than under President Barack Obama, who regularly condemned settlement building.” [NYTimes• Netanyahu trapped between right-wing settlement law, US president [Al-Monitor]

“The [Trump] administration needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward,” a State Department official told AFP on condition of anonymity.” [AFP]  

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Three months after the controversial land appropriation bill was approved in its first legislation stage, the Knesset finalized the law and passed it in its 2nd and 3rd reading last night. While many right-wing politicians – led by Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett – opened champagne bottles celebrating their achievement, Netanyahu was high in the sky on his way back home from the UK and his first meeting with PM May. Netanyahu didn’t get a chance to celebrate his successful visit to London, but also didn’t take part in his coalition’s festivities. Some in the Knesset corridors speculated that his absence was not just a flight schedule coincidence.

Netanyahu never went on the record against the bill, but his discontent with it is one of the best-known secrets in the cabinet. For weeks he has been trying to stall this bill from advancing… First, he argued using the “Obama card,” warning the bill would prompt a last-minute UN move, which it did. Then he used the Trump card, asking for time to consult with the new administration. Even this Sunday, Netanyahu tried to convince Bennett to wait until after his first White House meeting next week. But Bennett didn’t budge. “Our determination paid off,” he said last night after the vote. The bill is now likely to be disqualified by the Supreme Court, and Jewish Home MKs are already planning new legislation that will bypass the court’s verdict. But for Bennett and his comrades, the achievement is the pill for sweetening last week’s Amona evacuation.

Kafe Knesset asked Netanyahu during his London briefing for his response to the White House omitting any Jewish reference on their International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. Netanyahu tried to evade a clear answer, stating only that “the question will be raised during the visit, and I am sure it will receive a clear answer.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“How Israelis See the Settlements” by Yossi Klein Halevi: “Although the settlements tend to be regarded by the international community as an undifferentiated entity, the discourse about them in Israel is very different. For Israelis who support a two-state solution, settlements fall into two broad categories: those within so-called settlement blocs, close to the pre-1967 border and likely to remain a part of Israel in a final agreement, and those outside the blocs, which Israel would probably evacuate as part of a peace deal… Depending on how one draws the map, more than three-quarters of the settler population lives in blocs likely to be kept by Israel under an agreement. The blocs plan gives hope to supporters of a two-state solution that settlement-building hasn’t yet reached the point of no return.” [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: Disney CEO Robert Iger May Extend Tenure Again [WSJ] • Billionaires Paul Tudor Jones and Michael Dell Ensnared by ‘Hamilton’ Scam [Bloomberg] • Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital hires Obama’s Director of Product Josh Miller to focus on tech for the underprivileged [TC] • Blau, Macklowe and Schrager talk developer’s role in shaping the future of NYC [RealDeal]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “New York Commuters Unite To Remove Anti-Semitic Graffiti On Subway” by Mark Hanrahan: “Gregory Locke, 27, an attorney from Harlem… found swastikas and other graffiti on every window, door and advertising display. Slogans were also written across the carriage… “The train was silent as everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do,” Locke said in a Facebook post. “One guy got up and said, ‘Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.’ He found some tissues and got to work.” Locke told NBC News that his fellow passengers then began looking for hand sanitizer, while others started wiping off the graffiti, which was gone before the train made it as far as Lincoln Center at 66th Street.” [NBCNews

“Five myths about anti-Semitism” by Yair Rosenberg: “Most bigotries debilitate their targets while empowering their disseminators, much like slavery and redlining enriched America’s white majority at the expense of its African American minority. Many successful societies have been built atop prejudices. Anti-Semitism, however, is a unique case — and uniquely corrosive to those societies that embrace it. That’s because it often takes the form of a conspiracy theory about how the world works. By blaming real problems on imagined Jewish culprits, anti-Semitism prevents societies from rationally solving them.” [WashPost]

Renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor wins prestigious Genesis Prize: “British-Indian sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor has been named this year’s winner of the prestigious Genesis Prize for commitment to Israel and Judaism. Kapoor, whose large works of art are landmarks in cities worldwide, was born in 1954 in Mumbai to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother. He moved to Israel as a teenager, and has been based in Britain since the 1970s… Kapoor announced he would use his $1 million award, and the global platform provided by the Genesis Prize, to help alleviate the refugee crisis and try to expand the Jewish community’s engagement in global efforts to support refugees.” [IsraelHayom

SPORTS BLINK: “Julian Edelman’s ‘miracle’ catch leads to Super Bowl victory” by Daniel Sugarman: “Julian Edelman, who has a Jewish father and identifies as Jewish, managed to evade three Atlanta Falcons players and catch the incoming ball just centimeters off the ground. By completing the pass towards the end of the game in Houston last night, the Patriots player helped his team to go on and score, tying the game at 28 each and marking the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history… Both the Patriots and the Falcons have Jewish owners, with the former owned by Robert Kraft  and Arthur Blank, the co-founder of Home Depot DIY chain.” [TheJC• Robert Kraft hopes Trump can help retrieve Super Bowl ring Putin pilfered [WashPost]  

NFL players head to Israel to meet locals, visit religious sites: “The delegation of 12 — Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker, Michael Kendricks, Cameron Jordan, Kenny Stills, Calais Campbell, Carlos Hyde, Dan Williams, Justin Forsett, and ESPN commentator and former linebacker Kirk Morrison — will visit Rambam hospital in Haifa, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and the Black Hebrew community in the southern city of Dimona, according to a statement.” [ToI]

BIRTHDAYS: Milwaukee-born businessman, former US Senator from Wisconsin (1989-2013), former owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Herb Kohl turns 82… and also born in Milwaukee on the same date 16 years later, Senior Rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis (2012-2015), Baruch Frydman-Kohl turns 66… Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2010, previously the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (1988-2010), Robyn Gabel turns 64… American businessman and investor arrested in Bolivia in July 2011 and held for 18 months without charges, freed through public outcry and the efforts of Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher turns 58… Actor, humorist, comedian and writer known for his Saturday Night Live “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer and voice behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Robert Smigel turns 57… Rabbi, director of congregational learning at Har Shalom in Potomac, MD and author of Jewish children’s books and teen novels, Deborah Bodin Cohen turns 49… VP of marketing and communications at trade show manager Hargrove, Inc., previously a VP/MD at at Qorvis MSLGROUP and a producer at ABC, NBC, CBS and Discovery Channel, Jennifer DiamondHaber turns 48… MLB pitcher since 2005, has played for the Rangers, Cubs, Orioles, Astros and Blue Jays, signed to a one-year deal in 1-2017 by the Reds, Scott Feldman turns 34… Executive Director of the Aviv Foundation Adam Simon… Associate Director of Development at Chicago’s Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School Rachael Fenton… Rabbi, spokesman and director of public relations for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, director of its website Chabad[dot]org, Zalman Shmotkin (h/t Motti Seligson)… Senior Research Manager at Lieberman Research Worldwide, Jonathan Weiss… David Israel… Rick Wice… Michael Harris… Carol Mulrooney

BIRTHWEEK (Sunday and Monday): Founding Rabbi of The New Shul in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village (1999-2010), author or editor of ten books, now living in Chicago, Niles Elliot Goldstein turns 51… President and COO of American Signature, the parent company of Value City Furniture, Jonathan Schottenstein turns 35… VP of Public Affairs at Teach For All in DC, after living in China for seven years (2006-2013), Sarabeth Berman turns 33… Israeli golfer on the LPGA Tour, resident of Caesarea, competed for Israel in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Laetitia Beck turns 25… Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, recently national campaign chair for Jewish Federations of North America, Linda A. Hurwitz… Former Senior Advisor to Ambassador Ron Dermer (2013-2015) and spokesman and speechwriter for Israel’s Ministry of Defense (2011-2013), now a political and communications consultant, Joshua Hantman

Author, journalist, activist and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan turns 62… Los Angeles attorney specializing in criminal and civil appeals, author of an amicus brief for members of Congress in the Jerusalem passport case of Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, Paul Kujawsky turns 60… Long-time foreign correspondent for NPR in many capitals including Jerusalem, author of the NYT-bestseller “The Geography of Bliss,” Eric Weiner turns 54… Television and film actress, writer and producer, best known for her role as Pepper in the FX series “American Horror Story,” Naomi Grossman turns 42… Israeli-French singer-songwriter whose hit single “New Soul” was used by Apple in a 2008 advertising campaign for its MacBook Air, Yael Naim turns 39… AIPAC’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Political Director, Stephen Knable turns 36… Cantor of Congregation Hugat Haverim in Glendale California, Harvey Lee Block… Bill Levine… Steven I. Weiss… Rosalyn Kaplan… Yadin Koschitzky

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Daily Kickoff: How Israeli firms do business in Saudi Arabia | White House puts Iran ‘on notice’ | Meet Brian Mast | Charlie Kushner’s redemption


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Ed note: Barring breaking news or poorly written statements to the Jewish community, the next Daily Kickoff will be on Tuesday morning. We’ve been running nonstop ever since 2:33am on Nov 9, 2016. As Rosie Gray tweeted last night, “the pace of completely off-the-wall stuff happening is now down to about once an hour.” The good news is today’s Daily Kickoff should have plenty of great content to last a few days. We’ll still be posting stories to JewishInsider.com and via all the social channels. Have a wonderful and restful weekend!

PROFILE — The US Army vet, IDF volunteer, now in Congress — by Aaron Magid: Freshman Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL) served 12 years in the US Army earning a Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal, in addition to obtaining an economics degree from Harvard. For many in the Jewish community, the icing on top is that Mast volunteered with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in January 2015, packing medical kits at a military base near Tel Aviv. However, the Florida legislator’s climb from the US Army to Capitol Hill has not been without challenges. Stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Mast lost both legs along with his left index finger in the blast. In an interview with Jewish Insider from his Congressional office, Mast focused on the high cost of war including the 67 friends he has lost while serving overseas. [JewishInsider]

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF: “Questions Cloud U.S. Raid on Qaeda Branch in Yemen” by Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger: “Just five days after taking office, over dinner with his newly installed secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Trump was presented with the first of what will be many life-or-death decisions: whether to approve a commando raid that risked the lives of American Special Operations forces and foreign civilians alike. With two of his closest advisers, Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, joining the dinner at the White House along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Mr. Trump approved sending in the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, hoping the raid early last Sunday would scoop up cellphones and laptop computers that could yield valuable clues about one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups… As it turned out, almost everything that could go wrong did.” [NYTimes

— U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations. [Reuters]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump White House Puts Iran ‘On Notice’ After Missile Launch” by Carol Lee and Michael Bender: “Calling Iran a “destabilizing influence” in the Middle East, National Security Adviser Mike Flynn declared Wednesday: “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” Administration officials, while providing few specifics, said Mr. Trump has begun a process of reviewing current U.S. policy and is “considering a whole range of options,” including tougher sanctions. Asked if military force also was one of the options, the officials didn’t rule it out.” [WSJ]

–Worth noting: “The Pentagon was informed before the announcement and the defense secretary, James Mattis, prevailed upon Flynn to soften his language about Iran from an earlier version.” [TheGuardian]

GOP Lawmakers introduce new Iran sanctions bill — by Aaron Magid: Republican lawmakers introduced new legislation yesterday sanctioning Iran for its human rights abuses, support for terrorism and ballistic missile program. Reps. Peter J. Roskam (R-IL), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced the “Iran Nonnuclear Sanctions Act of 2017.”

“For hardline West Bank settlers, Jared Kushner’s their man” by Maayan Lubell: “He will stand up for our interests. I suppose he will lean in our favor,” said Avi Lavi, 46, who has lived in Bet El for more than 40 years. “He’ll be fair, as opposed to Obama, whose policy leaned always towards the Arabs.” The big question for the Palestinians is whether he can be an impartial actor given his family foundation’s past financial ties to Bet El.” [Reuters] • Palestinian leaders are fuming over warnings from Trump administration about halting aid and even restoring the PLO to list of terror groups if the Palestinian leadership attempts to sue Israel in international court [Haaretz]

House introduces bill to cut funding to the PA — by Aaron Magid: Republican Congressmen Ted Budd (R-NC) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) introduced legislation yesterday to end funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if Ramallah doesn’t “cease all financial rewards to terrorists or their families.” The GOP lawmakers were particularly incensed by the Obama Administration’s decision to release $221 million to the PA immediately before leaving office last month. Currently, no Democrats have co-sponsored the bill and it is unclear if AIPAC will back the legislation. 

“Trump’s pick for Israel envoy to undergo unprecedented Senate grilling” by Julian Pecquet: “Some of the language that he has been quoted using against leaders of the Jewish community here I find really inflammatory,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East panel. “There are some things I’m very interested in exploring with him.”… “What I’ve read is concerning. But I want to let him make his case,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told Al-Monitor. “It’s certainly an out-of-the-box choice. But everything this administration is doing so far is out of the box.” [AlMonitor]

“Anthony Scaramucci Won’t Get Announced White House Role, Official Says” by Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Scaramucci was informed on Wednesday by Reince Priebus, President Trump’s chief of staff, and by Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s top strategist, that he would not get the job as liaison to the business community. At issue is Mr. Scaramucci’s sale of his firm, SkyBridge Capital, to a division of HNA Group, a politically connected Chinese conglomerate that would become the firm’s majority owner. The sale has not been completed, and administration officials said the White House Counsel’s Office had predicted that it would take up to three months for Mr. Scaramucci to be cleared of potential ethics conflicts.” [NYTimes]

Question — ZOA sent out a press release last week with the title “ZOA’s Mort Klein Scores First Jewish Meeting With Trump Officials” after we reported that Klein was scheduled to meet with Scaramucci. Now that Scaramucci is officially not working in the White House, can Klein still claim the ZOA ‘scored the first Jewish meeting with the Trump team’? 

SPOTTED — Rabbi Haskel Lookstein and President Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning [Pic]

“Donald Trump Declares a Vision of Religious Nationalism” by Emma Green: “Trump is championing an agenda of religious nationalism. Along with key White House staffers like Stephen Bannon, he believes America represents a set of values, rooted in the country’s religious identity. While there’s little evidence that Trump himself is religiously devout, he has benefited from affiliations with largely white evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr… Repealing the Johnson Amendment would theoretically allow houses of worship and religious leaders to openly advocate for political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status, while also allowing them to funnel religious donations into explicitly political efforts.” [TheAtlantic]

JI INTERVIEW — Judge Gorsuch’s classmate David Javdan reflects on college days at Columbia University — by Aaron Magid: Jewish Insider spoke on Wednesday with David Javdan, a classmate and longtime friend of Judge Neil Gorsuch. Javdan, who first met Gorsuch when they were students at Columbia University, has represented the Austrian Jewish community on Holocaust restitution issues and worked pro bono for the Iranian American Jewish Federation. 

Jewish Insider: How long have you known Judge Neil Gorsuch? 

David Javdan: I have known Neil for 31 years. We went to college together and wrote on the newspaper (The Federalist) together. He’s a wonderful guy.

 JI: Outside of the courtroom, how would you describe Judge Gorsuch? 

Javdan: He’s very humble, very committed to inclusiveness. He founded the newspaper at Columbia. He let pretty much everyone write what they wanted: everything from very liberal and libertarian to conservative articles. He was very welcoming to everyone, very gracious, very intellectual. He has a lot of friends from very different backgrounds.

JI: What is unique about the Judge’s background? 

Javdan: He is incredibly dedicated to public service. He is someone with two Supreme Court clerkships, a PhD in law, he could have gone and cashed in. Instead, he spent his entire adult life — when a lot of his classmates were going to Goldman Sachs and big law firms — he basically spent most of his adult life in government service. That says a lot about him. Even back then, he has incredible respect for the law. He is a huge believer in that. He is someone who is really humble and wants to make sure that he does the right thing.  

** 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: Charlie Kushner’s redemption: After a stint in prison and years in the shadows, the developer is regaining his stature thanks to his son’s meteoric rise to the White House [RealDeal] • The Folded Flag Foundation Receives $10K Donation from Fashion Neckwear Designer David Fin Ties [Newswire] • Eli Broad, billionaire philanthropist and charter school backer, urges senators to oppose DeVos [WashPost] • Media Mogul Patrick Drahi to Launch Cable News Network i24 in U.S. [Variety]

STARTUP NATION: “How Do Israel’s Tech Firms Do Business in Saudi Arabia? Very Quietly” by Jonathan Ferzinger and Peter Waldman: “Bar, a tousle-haired 62-year-old with a wry sensibility, emerged from government service in 2003 amid the proliferation of global terrorism, and in the rising sense of doom he saw a business opportunity. He founded a company called IntuView, a miner of data in the deep, dark web—a sort of Israeli version of Palantir, the Silicon Valley security contractor… Then, two years ago, an e-mail arrived out of the blue. Someone from the upper echelons of power in Saudi Arabia, Bar says, invited him to discuss a potential project via Skype. The Saudis had heard about his technology and wanted his help identifying potential terrorists. There was one catch: Bar would have to set up a pass-through company overseas to hide IntuView’s Israeli identity. Not a problem, he said, and he went to work ferreting out Saudi jihadis with a software program called IntuScan, which can process 4 million Facebook and Twitter posts a day.” 

“The Arab embargo of Israel, nominally in force since the Jewish state’s founding in 1948, necessitates that all business between Israel and most Arab states remain strictly off the books, cloaked by intermediaries in other countries. But the volume and range of Israeli activity in at least six Gulf countries is getting hard to hide. One Israeli entrepreneur set up companies in Europe and the U.S. that installed more than $6 billion in security infrastructure for the United Arab Emirates, using Israeli engineers. The same companies then pitched Saudi Arabia to manage overcrowding in Mecca. Other Israeli businesses are working in the Gulf, through front companies, on desalination, infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, and intelligence gathering.” [Businessweek]

SPOTLIGHT: “Immigration builds America’s tech dominance” by Walt Mossberg: “Who co-founded Google? Sergey Brin, a Russian-born Jew whose family fled anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union to settle here and who considers himself a refugee. Brin showed up at the San Francisco airport to protest the Trump order… And it’s not just Google. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was born in South Africa. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang was born in Taiwan. Oracle CEO Safra Catz was born in Israel. And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, like Google’s Pichai, was born and raised in India.” [ReCode]

TRANSITION: Jason Koppel was promoted to AIPAC Political Director for their Northeast Region, previously serving as Deputy Political Director. 

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: While hundreds of policeman and border patrol moved forward with the evacuation of the last standing building in the Amona outpost, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a rare trip to the settlements and delivered his first public response to the dramatic events of the last 48 hours. “We have made all efforts not to reach this moment, but at the end of the day we fulfilled the law’s demand because we are a state which I lead by the rule of law. We all feel the big pain of the family’s that had to desert their houses and their life missions and we all understand the pain.” Just moments before Netanyahu started to speak, security forces were struggling with dozens of teenagers refusing to leave the last Amona building, the community synagogue, and things became violent. The outburst sparked strong reaction from interior security minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) who called on the police to evacuate them immediately, referring to the youngsters as “hooligans who deserve every condemnation, they abuse Judaism and have no respect for religion, rabbis and synagogues.” 

Despite the fact that the clearing of Amona is proceeding far more peacefully than the previous evacuation ten years ago, the operation still threatens to take a political toll on the Likud, which would rather have settler anger directed at Naftali Bennet’s Jewish Home party. Members of Knesset from Jewish Home accompanied the settlers throughout the past two days, and have vowed to finalize the land appropriation bill next week, even threatening to topple the government if the law doesn’t pass. One of the party’s young, promising and outspoken lawmakers, Bezalel Smutrich, caused a public uproar after comparing the evacuation to a “woman being raped.” Smutrich refused to apologize or withdraw his comment, saying today “I am part of a government who has been raped by the judicial system to do something horrible – destructing a community in the land of Israel, which is 180 degrees opposite to our policy. I am glad I succeeded to create a storm with all kinds of hypocrites.”

SPORTS BLINK: “The Uncomfortable Love Affair Between Donald Trump and the New England Patriots” by Mark Leibovich: “Brady is friends with President Trump. So are the Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft, and Coach Bill Belichick. No sports team has been more closely associated with a new president… The team represents a kind of sporting ideal of Trump’s promise to make “America win so much, you’ll be bored of winning.” New England, which will appear in an N.F.L.-record ninth Super Bowl on Sunday, is a team that wins so much that a lot of America has become, yes, bored of its winning.”

““Bob said, ‘I had a wink from the commissioner,’” Trump added, meaning that Kraft seemed to think that by standing down and not fighting the N.F.L., the league would reduce Brady’s penalty on appeal. Kraft was under pressure, Trump explained. “He choked, just like Romney choked. He said: ‘You know what? They winked at me.’ I said, ‘Bob when you make a deal, you should have gotten it all wrapped up.’ Who ever heard of making a deal like that? Now you got this mess.” Kraft should never have trusted Goodell, he said.” [NYTimesMag] • Patriots Owner Robert Kraft – Preparing for the Super Bowl Is Like Studying Talmud [Forward]

DESSERT: “Jared and Ivanka turned down a free dinner on date night. Could they have taken it?” by Helena Andrews-Dyer: “For the most part, the young couple enjoyed a completely ho hum meal at the sleek new RPM Italian where main courses range from $14 to $61. Other diners stole quick glances at the pair and their Secret Service retinue, but no one interrupted the couple’s evening out. Everything seemed to be running smoothly until the bill came. According to two people sitting directly adjacent to the pair, minutes after Trump and Kushner received the check, an employee of the restaurant swooped in to “handle it” Olivia Pope-style. “Jared said right then and there, ‘I am not allowed to accept this, I’m a government employee,’” Mallampalli said. An RPM spokeswoman told us that Kushner “paid 100 percent for their bill.”” [WashPost]

“With Trump in Town, Washington Restaurants Await a Visit — From Ivanka” by Katie Rogers: “As they settle their family into a new home in the Kalorama neighborhood, just around the corner from the Obamas, Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner, who are Jewish and keep kosher, are beginning to venture out. Their first stops have not been Michelin-starred hot spots or establishment restaurants, but low-key eateries that tend to draw families. During his first week in the West Wing — where he is working as an unpaid adviser tasked with, among other things, bringing peace to the Middle East — Mr. Kushner found time to visit the bar at Founding Farmers. With another man and a Secret Service agent in tow, Mr. Kushner drank a beer and ordered a plate of deviled eggs last Tuesday, according to a bartender on duty that night.” [NYTimes]

“How a secular Jewish baker became Miami’s kosher king” by Carlos Frias: “Zak the Baker’s Zak Stern may not be religious but his certified kosher bakery, and a new glatt (ultra) kosher deli, are how he expresses his Jewish culture. Fans of his freshly baked challah bread line up Friday at noon for this special treat. The bakery is housed inside of a former art gallery and has a cafe were patrons can watch the baking operation.” [MiamiHerald] • Meet the Sensei Teaching Self-Defense to Brooklyn’s Jewish Community [Vice]

BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire, philanthropist, CEO of Paramount Pictures (1974-1984), CEO of Fox (1984-1992), now Chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia, Barry Diller turns 75… Former mayor and city councilman of Irvine, California, graduate of Harvard Law School, Larry Agran (family name, Agranowsky) turns 72… Author, host of the Food Network program “Barefoot Contessa,” and former OMB staffer for Presidents Ford and Carter, Ina Rosenberg Garten turns 69… Television, movie and theatre actor, comedian and singer, best known for his portrayal of the android, Lieutenant Commander Data, in the Star Trek television series and four subsequent films, Brent Spiner turns 68… Movie and theatre actress and screenwriter, known for the 2001 film “Kissing Jessica Stein,” Jennifer Westfeldt turns 47… Tony Award-winning actress with many stage, movie and television credits, a semi-finalist on Season 6 of Dancing With the Stars, Marissa Jaret Winokur turns 44… Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, now living in Boston, television and radio host, political commentator, Internet personality and self-described liberal-progressive political activist, David Pakman turns 33… Managing director and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, a DC based full-service messaging, marketing and public relations firm, Aaron Keyak turns 32… Actress and musician, who has appeared in various television series including “Mad Men,” “United States of Tara” and as Shoshanna Shapiro on the HBO original series “Girls,” Zosia Mamet turns 29… Washington correspondent for the Times of Israel and a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University, Rebecca Shimoni Stoil Ross Gianfortune… Avi Katz

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Comedian, actor, writer, teacher, lecturer and poet, Sheldon “Shelley” Berman turns 92… Longest-serving Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1993-2001), one-time owner of “Roll Call,” now a senior adviser at the Carlyle Group, Arthur Levitt Jr. turns 86… President and CEO of clothing manufacturer Warnaco Group (1986-2001), at one time the only woman CEO of a Fortune 500 industrial company, Linda J. Wachner turns 71… Chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the US for almost the full 8 years of the Obama administration, formerly president of the Lillian Vernon Corporation, Fred Hochberg turns 65… Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, formerly Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Joette Katz turns 64… Singer-songwriter, best known for composing “From a Distance,” a big hit for Bette Midler and winner of the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991, Julie Gold turns 61… Professor of biology at MIT, mathematician and geneticist, was co-chair of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Eric Lander turns 60… Founder of Fourth Factor Consulting, Joel Mowbray turns 41… Policy advisor and speechwriter for Rick Stengel, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs during the Obama administration and Kerry State Department, Josh Lipsky turns 31… Chief planning officer at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Lisa Harris Glass… Director of Business Strategy for Birmingham Wealth Management Group within Morgan Stanley, and on the boards of the Jewish Federations in both Detroit and Aspen, Steven F. Schlafer… Intern during 2016 for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Noam Safier… Program Associate in the Synagogue Leadership Initiative at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Joshua Keyak

SATURDAY — Actor best known for his work as Herman “Hesh” Rabkin on HBO’s “The Sopranos” and as Howard Lyman on CBS’s “The Good Wife,” Jerry Adler turns 88… Attorney, bank executive and philanthropist, donor of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Adrienne Arsht turns 75… Attorney, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson turns 60… Senior content editor of the Koren/Steinsaltz English Talmud, his Ph.D. dissertation was on the effects of the gap-year spent by many American high school graduates in Israel, Shalom Berger turns 57… Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska since July 2015, previously he was the Democratic Minority Leader in the Alaska House of Representatives (1999-2007), Ethan Berkowitz turns 55… Billionaire, philanthropist, charter school advocate and global head of real estate and a member of the board of directors of Blackstone Group, Jonathan D. “Jon” Gray turns 47… The first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti turns 46… Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the Israeli American Council, following six years in a comparable role at AIPAC, Abigail Cable turns 29… Patrick Leek turns 64… Barbara Stern… Jan Winnick… Dan Ben-Canaan

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Robert Sugarman at AIPAC's 2014 Policy Conference

Former ADL Chair to Ron Lauder: ‘Who’s Playing Politics?’

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