Jan
9

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Daily Kickoff: JI readers on Ed Royce’s retirement news | Ron Lauder defends Trump’s fitness | Meet Glossier’s Emily Weiss, millennials’ Estée Lauder

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RISING STAR PROFILE: “The Magic Skin of Glossier’s Emily Weiss: How fast can a beauty blogger become the millennials’ Estée Lauder? About three years” by Amy Larocca: “Emily Weiss has been something of a millennial icon, the star of her own fairy tale, ever since 2007, when she showed up on three episodes of MTV’s The Hills… Weiss herself is obviously Glossier’s secret sauce—its gloriously friendly, photogenic, hardworking face, the Estée of this baby Lauder. But maintaining both that image and distance from it is a complicated dance—there are thousands of pictures of Weiss out there in the world, so many Q and As, and it takes a while to figure out how carefully drawn and maintained her boundaries are… That two-step is not unusual for Weiss— gestures of intimacy deployed alongside strategic walls. She gets right in there on the comment boards, replying to her customers one-on-one, but you never get the sense that Weiss is vulnerable…”

“This isn’t a traditional, top-down, lifestyle, myth-creation, inspiration story,” she says. “This isn’t a Tory Burch, a Ralph Lauren, an Estée Lauder. A lot of our customers don’t even know who I am.” Weiss sees herself not as a visionary but as someone who realized something was happening—social media was transforming the way beauty products were talked about and bought— and then worked her ass off to get on top of it. If people want to be like her, well, it is the era of the aspiring she-E-O. “Me being CEO is probably aspirational to a lot of customers,” she admits. “There were very different value systems when a lot of different beauty brands were created in the ’40s and ’50s, and it had to do with glamour and a life of luxury. I think right now it’s about power.”” [NYMag]

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with clerk hires, signals desire to outlast Trump” by Joan Biskupic: “The cultural icon known as the “Notorious RBG” recently signaled that she intends to stay at least through 2020 by hiring law clerks for at least two more terms. Ginsburg, who turns 85 in March, would have to stay another decade to near the record of William O. Douglas, who served the longest at 36 years… If Democrat Hillary Clinton had won the presidency in 2016, liberal Ginsburg would likely have announced her retirement by this spring. Instead the justice… is not counting on leaving the stage any time soon.” [CNN]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “California Republican Rep. Ed Royce won’t seek reelection” by Christine Mai-Duc and Sarah Wire: “Surprised party leaders learned that Royce would not seek reelection when the 13-term congressman published his announcement on Twitter, saying he wanted to concentrate on his final year as [House  Foreign Affairs] Committee chairman… Royce… was among the House lawmakers considered vulnerable in the upcoming midterm elections…” [LATimes

Sander Gerber, the hedge fund manager behind the Taylor Force Act, tells us… “Ed Royce is the most humble champion of Israel in the House. After he saw the Palestinian Authority’s pay to slay laws, he did whatever he could to build support for their eradication. From personally walking me over to discuss the issue with Senator [Bob] Corker to holding hearings in Congress and ultimately passing the Taylor Force Act. And he gladly made himself available at all hours via cell, because he really cares.”

Joel Mowbray, who has spent much time on the road with Chairman Royce, shared his favorite story: “I was with him when he confronted Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian Authority presidential palace in Ramallah during an AIEF [America-Israel Educational Foundation] trip. There were four Jewish Democrats with him, he was the sole Republican on the trip… After the cameras left the room, Royce, in this toe-to-toe setting, confronted Abbas on his Holocaust denial and said, ‘Dr. Abbas, I know we’re supposed to call you doctor because you have a PhD in Holocaust denial. Abbas’s face goes ashen white, and he said, ‘I want to talk to you about an interview you gave recently to an Iranian-owned Hezbollah radio in Lebanon, in which you yet again denied the Holocaust. You know, my father was a Forward Observer in Patton’s Third Army,’ and Royce pulled out this full-size manila envelope with photos that his father took and starts putting them onto the table that’s set up between them and he says, ‘These are photos that my father took on the day Dachau was liberated. These photos represent one day at one camp. There were countless other such examples that occurred, and for you to say what you have said and continue to say about the Holocaust is deeply dangerous.’ He even, by the way, put one of the photos in Abbas’s lap, because he refused to look at them. To me, that sums up everything that Ed Royce is... The mark of Ed Royce is fearlessness, especially in terms of dealing with other people in diplomatic settings.”

ON THE HILL — The House will vote today on H.Res. 676 – supporting the rights of the people of Iran to free expression, condemning the Iranian regime for its crackdown on legitimate protests, and for other purposes  – legislation sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce.

IRAN DEAL — “Trump plans to enforce sanctions against Iran state TV, says source” by Saeed Kamali Dehghan: “The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)…. has been subject to US sanctions since 2013, but both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have signed presidential waivers every 180 days to prevent them coming into force. The Guardian understands Trump is planning not to sign the waiver in regards to the state broadcaster when it comes up for renewal at the end of January, meaning the sanctions will become active… “It is a symbolic act. It will send a strong message to Iran without imposing more hardship on Iranians like other sanctions,” the source said.”[TheGuardian• Iran’s Zarif to powwow with Europeans on saving nuclear deal [ToI]

“On Iran, Trump Should Be Like Reagan” by Richard Goldberg and Dennis Ross: “The JCPOA must not prevent us from fulfilling our international obligations on human rights, terrorism and proliferation… Of course, the Iranian dictators… might even claim such sanctions violate the nuclear deal and threaten to abandon their commitments. But they would be wrong—and they alone would bear the blame and consequences of exiting the JCPOA.” [Politico]

TALK OF THE REGION — Egypt denies report it pressured the press on Trump’s Jerusalem move, despite tapes: “The Egyptian State Information Service (SIS)… [issued] a three-page statement saying that… The [NY] Times article didn’t provide any proof that [Captain Ashraf] al-Kholi is, indeed, an intelligence officer. The security service noted that Egypt has articulated a clear and consistent position on Jerusalem and submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council demanding that Trump reverse his decision to move the US embassy there.” [France24]

‘Nephew of French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe among three tourists stabbed in Israel” by Peter Allen: “The nephew of French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was among three tourists repeatedly stabbed in the Israeli seaside resort of Eilat… The wounded holidaymakers… were found lying on the promenade last Wednesday after being targeted by a gang of Israeli men. It comes at a time of heightened tension between France and Israel, as President Emmanuel Macron and Mr Philippe refuse to accept Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.” [Telegraph]

“Trump’s peace deal: A Gaza-centered Palestine” by Ben Caspit: “There isn’t a single member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet who has any expectations about President Donald Trump’s peace initiative. Instead, they share a rare consensus: It’s all about nothing, and it will never amount to anything. The same sentiment prevails in Ramallah: Trump’s “ultimate deal” is dead and buried…”

“The basic idea includes an extensive territorial exchange, in which Egypt would cede a piece of the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. With this, Gaza’s territory would extend southward along the seashore, making it three or four times larger than it currently is. This would make it possible to relieve some of the pressure in Gaza… According to this plan, the center of power in the future Palestinian state would be in the Gaza Strip, expanded toward the north of Sinai, rather than the West Bank. In exchange… the Palestinians would give up territories in the West Bank, allowing Israel to annex the settlement blocs along with a generous amount of land around them… At the same time, Israel would give Egypt a narrow strip of territory along the lengthy southern border between the two countries.” [Al-Monitor]

Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry, tells us… “The Palestinians are not going to trade high quality land in the middle of the West Bank for a bunch of sand in the Sinai.”

NEW DATE — After a couple delays, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit Egypt, Jordan, and Israel next week. According to the schedule released by the White House yesterday, Pence will arrive in Egypt on January 20 to meet with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, and the following day, meet with King Abdullah II in Jordan. The Vice President will then spend two days in Israel, where he will hold meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, address the Knesset, and visit Yad Vashem and the Western Wall. “The Vice President is traveling to the Middle East to reaffirm our commitment to work with the United States’ allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations,” Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

NEW PLAYER: “’Walking a line’ — The shrewd tactics of the White House’s evangelical gatekeeper” by Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “As Israel has shot to the top of President Trump’s agenda, world leaders have looked for the perspective of one of Trump’s biggest and most reliable voting blocs. And Johnnie Moore, the White House’s evangelical gatekeeper, has been there to provide it. Moore, a wunderkind PR executive, has served through the Trump candidacy and presidency as the shepherd for many conversations between Trump aides and conservative evangelical leaders who, like Moore, consider the Jewish state — and the status of Jerusalem in particular — to be at the top of their priority list. At 34, Moore has been consulted about the topic at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave… Moore’s pragmatism appeals to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center… Cooper has become tight with Moore since Moore moved with his family from Virginia to Orange County, Calif., a couple of years ago. Now the pair travel together to places that include D.C. and Bahrain to promote religious tolerance, particularly of Jews and Christians.” [WashPost

HEARD YESTERDAY — MSNBC host Katy Tur asks Michael Wolff, author of ‘Fire And Fury,’ if he thinks Trump is anti-Semitic? Wolff: “I don’t know… I think he’s aware of who is Jewish in a way that might give — that might, that feels creepy.” [Video]

TOP TALKER — “The White House struggles to silence talk of Trump’s mental fitness” by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker: “He is absolutely no different than the day he got elected, and he has used this unconventional but very effective manner of managing for the 30 years that I’ve known him in business, finance, media and now governing,” Thomas J. Barrack Jr., Trump’s longtime friend and inauguration chairman, said in an interview Monday. “It’s not mental instability,” Barrack added. “It’s management by controlled and orchestrated chaos.” [WashPost

Ronald Lauder notes working with Trump on “diplomatic challenges” in a statement about the president’s fitness for office: “I have known Donald Trump for over 50 years, dating back to his time as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. And I now have had the privilege of working with him on some of the most complex diplomatic challenges imaginable. The President I have seen is a man of incredible insight and intelligence. But he is not a politician and that confuses his critics. When President Trump refuses to speak in stale political platitudes, his critics think he is missing something. But the truth is President Trump speaks to the country in an authentic and genuine way that Americans understand and appreciate.”

David Brooks writes… “The Decline of Anti-Trumpism: People who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised. They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected from his tweetstorms or the media coverage… People who work in the Trump administration… think he is merely a distraction they can work around. Some think he is strange, but not impossible… I mention these inconvenient observations because the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information… I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.” [NYTimes]

OPRAH 2020 TALK — “Oprah 2020? Democrats Swing From Giddy to Skeptical at the Prospect” by Alex Burns and Amy Chozick: “David Axelrod, the former chief strategist for Barack Obama… questioned, however, whether Ms. Winfrey would be the right fit for 2020: “Would she want to submit herself to the unforgiving, relentless and sometimes absurd process of running for president?” he wondered, adding: “Will there be hunger in 2020 for someone with some experience in government, after Trump?”” [NYTimes]

“Ivanka Trump praises Golden Globes speech that ignited ‘Oprah 2020’ speculation” by Samantha Schmidt: “Ivanka Trump on Mondaynight tweeted praise for Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech, describing it as “empowering” and “inspiring.” The tweet, posted about 24 hours after the Golden Globes awards show, also included a link to Winfrey’s speech.”[WashPost Ivanka Trump’s Tone-Deaf Praise For Oprah’s Speech Didn’t Go Over Well [HuffPostDailyBeast]

Jonathan Swan‏: “I’m getting texts re this.. some raised eyebrows in the WH.”[Twitter]

MARK CUBAN WEIGHS IN… “The Case Against President Oprah” by Ben Smith: ““What I think voters will sour on by 2020 is the concept that they will trust the skill set of a famous person simply because they are wealthy, famous, or both,” celebrity business guy and oft-mentioned potential candidate Mark Cuban told me in an email this morning.” [BuzzfeedBunsinessInsider]

2018 WATCH — Robert Barr raises big money in first bid for House race — by Deirdre Shesgreen: “Cincinnati Democrat and congressional candidate Robert Barr raised more than $230,000 in his first fundraising quarter, a surprisingly big sum for an otherwise little-known challenger in a Republican-leaning district. Barr is a rabbi and a newcomer to politics, aiming to oust incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Chabot of Westwood…  “People want something different,” Barr said in a statement touting his fourth-quarter fundraising totals.” [Cincinnati]

“’Hillbilly Elegy’ author Vance urged to run for Senate” by Seung Min Kim and Kevin Robillard: “Top Senate Republicans have quietly reached out to J.D. Vance — the star author of “Hillbilly Elegy” — about running for Senate in Ohio after the abrupt withdrawal of GOP candidate Josh Mandel last week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has spoken with Vance about a potential bid.” [Politico

** 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: Telecom Mogul Patrick Drahi Reorganizes Altice in Separate Companies for U.S. and Europe [VarietyBloomberg] • Kushners’ Observer Media names new president: James Karklins will need to win over advertisers wary of doing business with the family [Crains] • Israel’s religious parties get more control over Saturday trading [Reuters]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Recording of Netanyahu Son Outside Strip Club Aired on Israel TV” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Yair Netanyahu was recorded while cruising between strip clubs in downtown Tel Aviv in a government-supplied armored car with one of the sons of Isramco Negev 2 LP shareholder Jackob Maimon, according to Hadashot TV news… Amid raunchy jokes about a night of drinking at the adult clubs, the younger Netanyahu can be heard complaining that the friend won’t lend him money to pay a dancer even though his father benefited from the lucrative gas business with the government.” [BloombergTheGuardian Netanyahu: My wife and I taught our children to respect women [Ynet]

HOLLYWOOD: “Oscars: How Real-World Events Could Impact the Foreign-Language Race” by Scott Roxborough: “The most obviously political football in the race is Samuel Maoz’s Foxtrot, from Israel. The film, a look at the ongoing conflict between Palestinians and the Israeli soldiers who man security checkpoints, has plenty of fans in the Academy. And Israel, which has been nominated 10 times for the foreign-language Oscar, is arguably overdue for a win. But at home Foxtrot has proved controversial, in particular for a scene in which Israeli soldiers kill a family in their car and then cover up the act… Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel… adds another twist. Will Academy voters view support for Foxtrot as tacit support for Trump’s Middle East politics?” [HollywoodReporter]

Jerry Seinfeld and Family Visit Anti-terror Fantasy Camp in West Bank: “Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his family visited the Caliber 3 Israeli Counter Terror and Security Academy during their visit in Israel, revealed Caliber 3 in a Facebook post on Monday. “Finally we are allowed to tell you!! The legendary Jerry Seinfeld and his family were at Caliber 3 during their visit to Israel last week, they came to us for shooting training with displays of combat, Krav Maga, assault dogs and lots of Zionism. It was great,” said the post.” [Haaretz]

PICS OF THE DAY — Jeff Ross poses with Chris Rock and Anthony Jeselnik in Israel [Pic]

Alex Soros posts from Mismeah Yeshua Synagogue in Myanmar: “In December 2010, I came with my family to Myanmar for the first time. I arrived a few days after my father who had already seen Yangon’s only synagogue and said that I must go see it too. It was one of the first things that I saw in Myanmar and today I reconnected with it on Shabbat. The Mismeah Yeshua Synagogue was built in 1896 on a street that is filled with Muslim and Hindu shops. At the start of #WorldWar2 there were 2500 Jews here and an amazing 126 Torah scrolls. Today there are less than 20 Jews left in Myanmar…”[Instagram]

Gwyneth Paltrow engaged to Jewish TV writer-producer: “Gwyneth Paltrow is engaged to television writer-producer Brad Falchuk. The couple told “Good Morning America” in a joint statement that they felt “incredibly lucky.” Falchuk, 46, who is Jewish and whose mother Nancy Falchuk served as president of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America from 2007 to 2011, co-created the television series “Glee” with Ryan Murphy.” [ToI]

DESSERT: “Eyal Shani, an Israeli Celebrity Chef, Makes His New York Debut” by Florence Fabricant: “Whole roasted cauliflower as interpreted by Eyal Shani, an Israeli celebrity chef, is about to make its debut in New York. The chef’s signature dish will be on the menu at a branch of Miznon, his global group of casual counter-service restaurants, opening at Chelsea Market in a couple of weeks… Whether or not he was first, whole cauliflower and cauliflower steaks have become an international trend. And to hear this 59-year-old chef with impressively sculpted hair tell it, the cauliflower is only one of his achievements, including, as he claims, inventing “the first carpaccio in the world made from fish.” He also boasts about his tomato sashimi. “The world started copying me, and nobody gave me credit,” he said.” [NYTimes

“Midtown spot to be replaced with new kosher restaurant” by Steve Cuozzo: “It took just two weeks for Eastern Consolidated’s James Famularo team to bring a new, up-market kosher restaurant to 211 E. 46th St., where Indian eatery Tulsi was. Famularo and Jeff Geoghegan… brought in chef Joshua Kessler, a veteran of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and kosher eatery Mike’s Bistro… The site is on a busy block between Third and Lexington avenues across the street from Sparks Steak House.” [NYPost]

CONGRATS to our friend Rick Sorkin on the release of his new song ‘There’s a Calm’ [Spotify]

BIRTHDAYS: Novelist, with eight books that have been turned into mini-series, Judith Krantz turns 90… Law professor at Georgetown University, high-ranking HHS official during the Clinton Administration, a founder of New Israel Fund and board member of Americans for Peace Now, Peter Edelmanturns 80… 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 78… Rabbi Emeritus of Kehilath Israel Synagogue in Overland Park, Kansas, Herbert Jay Mandl turns 73… 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 71… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times for 40 years, covering the US Supreme Court for most of that time (1978-2007), Linda Greenhouse turns 71…

Presidential historian, spokesman for the 9/11 Commission, visiting fellow or lecturer at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, GW, and Hopkins universities, Alvin S. Felzenberg turns 69… Composer, singer Yossi Toiv turns 69… 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 65… Governor of the Bank of Israel since 2013 (succeeding Stanley Fischer), the first woman to hold this post, Karnit Flug turns 63… Program Officer at Maimonides Fund, Allison Liebman Rubinturns 31… 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, Ben Taub turns 27… Born in Saugatuck, a small town in western Michigan, now an associate at DC-based Bluelight Strategies, Madeline Peterson turns 26… Television and film actress, starred in 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” daughter of businessman Nelson Peltz, Nicola Peltz turns 23… Co-chairman of NYC-based investment bank, Dalmore Group, Joel Plasco

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Jan
8

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Daily Kickoff: Will Trump waive Iran sanctions again? How Iranian protests could affect his decision | Oprah 2020 | What does Gal Gadot’s husband do?

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2020 WATCH — Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech last night raised speculation for a potential presidential bid in 2020. Oprah is “actively thinking” about running for president, two of her close friends told CNN on Monday. This prompted some to ask on Twitter, “How is Oprah on Israel?” It appears she’s rather unabashedly pro-Israel. In 2007, speaking at the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity awards dinner, Winfrey said she sympathized with the people of Israel, and that she intended to accept Wiesel’s invitation and come with him to Israel. While it doesn’t appear that the trip took place, Oprah did join Wiesel for a visit to Auschwitz. She later refused to meet with activists of the BDS movement after she was seen wearing Lev Leviev diamonds on the cover of O magazine in 2015.

REACTIONS — Bill Kristol tweets: “Oprah. #ImWithHer” [Twitter]

Ted Frank: “On CNN in 2016, I warned Trump he needed to pick Oprah as VP. Could regret not listening to me when 2020 comes.” [Twitter]

Huff Post’s Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen: “I love Oprah. Also, I’d be down with never having another celebrity president.” [Twitter]

Yashar Ali: “Earlier this year, [Oprah BFF] Gayle King said that she would bet her first and second born that Oprah will never run for President. She used the word “never.” [Video]

Yair Rosenberg: “I think the reason we enjoy speculating about an Oprah candidacy is that it’s cathartic for many simply to imagine a world in which Trump is not president.” [Twitter]

BACK TO REALITY…

DRIVING THE WEEK — Tillerson eyes fix to keep US in Iran deal” by Matt Lee and Josh Lederman: “The president said he is either going to fix it or cancel it,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the AP… “We are in the process of trying to deliver on the promise he made to fix it.” … Tillerson said the administration was speaking with congressional leaders “on a very active basis” about a fix. He suggested Trump might be inclined to preserve the deal by waiving sanctions again on Jan. 12 if there were signs Congress would act in short order. “I don’t want to suggest we’re across the finish line on anything yet,” Tillerson said.” [AP

“Is Trump Stuck With an Iran Deal He Loathes?” by Susan Glasser: “By the end of this week… the president who called that agreement the “worst deal ever”—and refused, despite the evidence, to certify Iranian compliance with it—is expected to once again keep the deal alive by waiving U.S. sanctions on the Iranian government that were suspended when the agreement was made. That, at least, is the consensus of a half dozen of Washington’s top Iran policy experts I canvassed over the last few days. Then again, no one is really sure…” [PoliticoMag]

“How the Iranian protests could affect Trump’s next decisions” by Shannon Vavra: “Trump spent much of his first year in office threatening to pull the U.S. out of the nuclear deal, which he could do by reimposing economic sanctions against Tehran. But if he does that, foreign policy experts say, he risks shifting the spotlight away from the protests rather than encouraging them. If the U.S. moves forward with renewing sanctions on Iranian oil, Iranian leadership could argue that the U.S. is contributing to Iran’s economic problems — and the economic problems are one of the reasons the protests began in the first place.”

“But waiving the sanctions and staying in the deal could contradict statements and tweets Trump has issued regarding the nuclear deal itself,” explained Mara Karlin, a Brookings fellow. “The timing is inconvenient” for the administration, she said… Trump’s national security staff still has to convince Trump to waive the sanctions by the end of this week, the aide said… The hope is that he will waive the sanctions now, per two Senate aides familiar with the conversation… Both Senate aides predicted Trump will decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal, like he did in October.” [Axios]

“Finding the Way Forward on Iran” by Bret Stephens: “Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute has argued that the U.S. government “should release details on the billions in stolen assets” held by the I.R.G.C. and the supreme leader. That — and making sure ordinary Iranians learn about them, one scandalous disclosure at a time — is the right idea. Another right idea, this one from Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is to once again put Setad, along with its scores of front companies and subsidiaries, under U.S. sanctions for corruption.” [NYTimes]

“What a Soviet Dissident Sees in Iran’s Unrest” by Eli Lake: “[Natan] Sharansky says it’s time to turn up the heat… The West used carrots and sticks to lure the Iranians into a temporary bargain over the nuclear program. Why not calibrate those inducements to how Iran treats its own citizens? “It’s more important to have sanctions based on Iran’s treatment of political prisoners,” Sharansky said.” [BloombergView]

ULTIMATE DEAL — “Forging ahead, Trump team confident its peace plan appeals to Palestinians” by Michael Wilner: “Maybe on a personal level they are angry with us,” a senior White House official told The Jerusalem Post… “They’re trying to make it look like we’ve lost credibility. But a peace process and a credible conclusion to that process can’t happen without the US – they know that. And once the plan is revealed, it will speak for itself.” … ” Nothing has impacted the plan, or the drafting of the plan,” a second senior official said. “But when people say things about us that aren’t true, we will respond.” .. One official characterized bickering with the Palestinians that will invariably continue between now and then as static white noise.” What ultimately matters is the content of the plan,” the senior White House official said.” [JPost

MEANWHILE — “U.S. freezes funds to U.N. relief agency, diplomats say” by Barak Ravid: “The Trump administration has frozen $125 million in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees… The funding, one third of the annual U.S. donations to the agency, was supposed to be transferred by Jan. 1 but was withheld… The diplomats added that U.S. officials told U.N. officials in the last two days that President Trump… is even considering cutting up to $180 million.” [Axios

ISRAEL ON BOARD? “Netanyahu tiptoes around U.S. threat to cut off Palestinian aid” by Jeffrey Heller: “Praising Trump’s “critical approach” on the aid issue, Netanyahu steered clear of advocating a suspension of funding for the Palestinians. He said U.N. money for them should be transferred gradually to its global refugee agency UNHCR “with clear criteria for supporting genuine refugees and not fictitious ones, as is happening today under UNRWA.”” [Reuters

“Tapes Reveal Egyptian Leaders’ Tacit Acceptance of Jerusalem Move” by David Kirkpatrick: “How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?” Captain [Ashraf al-]Kholi asked repeatedly in four audio recordings of his telephone calls (to the hosts of several influential talk shows in Egypt)… “We, like all our Arab brothers, are denouncing this matter,” Captain Kholi continued. But, he added, “After that, this thing will become a reality. Palestinians can’t resist and we don’t want to go to war. We have enough on our plate as you know…” All three recipients of his calls pledged to convey his messages, and some echoed his arguments in broadcasts. “Enough already. It got old,” Mr. Megahed told his viewers about the issue of Jerusalem.”[NYTimes]

“Jerusalem should be shared capital, UK’s Johnson tells Palestinian foreign minister” by William James: “Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of Israeli and Palestinian states, British foreign minister Boris Johnson told his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Malki on Monday.”[Reuters]

ARGUMENT: “Israel Should Not Publicly Honor Trump” by Todd Stern: “In the waning days of 2017, Yisrael Katz, the transportation minister, proposed to name a high-speed rail station planned for the Old City of Jerusalem for Donald Trump… For Israel to embrace and exalt a leader with authoritarian tendencies who is viscerally offensive to so many core American supporters of Israel… would be to ignore the indignation, disappointment, and raw anger this will provoke in wide swaths of the American public. Whether this would create a lasting rift is hard to know, but it would be foolish to take that risk.” [TheAtlantic

THE DAILY KUSHNER: “Kushner’s Financial Ties to Israel Deepen Even With Mideast Diplomatic Role” by Jesse Drucker: “Last May, Jared Kushner accompanied President Trump… on the pair’s first diplomatic trip to Israel… Shortly before, his family real estate company received a roughly $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim… The deal… pumped significant new equity into 10 Maryland apartment complexes controlled by Kushner’s firm… The business dealings don’t appear to violate federal ethics laws… And no evidence has emerged that Mr. Kushner was personally involved in brokering the deal. But the deal last spring illustrates how the Kushner Companies’ extensive financial ties to Israel continue to deepen, even with his prominent diplomatic role in the Middle East… Raj Shah, a deputy White House press secretary, said the Trump administration has “tremendous confidence in the job Jared is doing leading our peace efforts, and he takes the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration.”” [NYTimes

“Trump campaign digital director: ‘Not one person made a decision’ without Kushner and Eric Trump’s ‘approval’” by Natasha Bertrand: “”Nobody else. Not one person made a decision without their approval,” the [Trump campaign] digital director, Brad Parscale, tweeted…Kushner was Parscale’s “patron,” according to a person familiar with the campaign’s inner workings… “He’s Jared’s boy,” the person added… But Parscale’s tweet also raises new questions about how involved Kushner and Eric Trump were in episodes that have drawn the most scrutiny from investigators probing the campaign’s ties to Russia.” [BusinessInsider

SUNDAY SHOWDOWN — Jake Tapper shuts down contentious interview with Trump aide Stephen Miller — by Jeremy Peters and Michael Tackett: “The interview, on the program “State of the Union,” quickly grew heated as Mr. Tapper accused Mr. Miller of being “obsequious” and speaking to an “audience of one.” Before it ended, Mr. Tapper told Mr. Miller that he was wasting his audience’s time. Mr. Tapper then turned to the camera, even as Mr. Miller was still speaking, and cut to a commercial. A short time later, the president praised his aide on Twitter, saying that Mr. Miller had “destroyed” Mr. Tapper in the interview.” [NYTimesVideo

— Miller had to be escorted off CNN’s set after interview — by Linette Lopez: “Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was politely asked to leave several times. He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out.”[BusinessInsider]  

“Stephen Bannon, under fire after West Wing tell-all, expresses regret over comments attributed to him” by Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: “At Camp David this weekend, Trump “unloaded” on Bannon, a White House official said… The statement, one person close to him said, was as much about stanching the defections of supporters and potential backers as it was about appeasing the president. Bannon continues to criticize Kushner and Ivanka Trump in private and calls Trump a “vessel,” an ally said.”[WashPost

BANNON’S JEWISH SUPPORTERS — “Bannon finds his regrets aren’t good enough for Trump” by Annie Karni: “If there is anyone, like Bannon, who is a strong supporter of Israel and a strong fighter against anti-Semitism and that person ends up having less influence on the administration,” said Mort Klein, the president of the Sheldon Adelson-funded Zionist Organization of America, “that is something that would sadden me.” [Politico

— “Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), who is aligned with Bannon on pro-Israel policies and had Bannon’s help last month at a campaign fundraiser, called his ally’s statement a “positive step forward” in terms of clarity. Zeldin said he wanted to see how Trump and his family will respond. The congressman added regarding Bannon’s statement “and especially with so much of the book’s veracity in question, it is helpful to have the added background.” [Newsday

INSIDE THE ADMIN — “Gary Cohn may soon be headed for the exits” by Tory Newmyer: “Cohn, rather than consolidating the influence he sought at Bannon’s expense, appears headed for the exit following the passage of a tax code overhaul in December friendly to corporations. He’s done little to head off the chatter. In a Friday appearance on Bloomberg News, he answered a question about his plans by saying, “I’m here today.” And when Trump called him on stage at Camp David over the weekend to attest to his job satisfaction before news cameras, Cohn kept it brief. “Yes, I’m happy,” he said. “How’s that?”” [WashPost

— Jonathan Swan: “Sources tell me the recent resignation of Cohn’s deputy Jeremy Katz has been a bigger blow to the administration than many realize.”[Axios

2018 WATCH: “Mandel drops out of Ohio Senate race vs. Sherrod Brown” by Kevin Robillard and Daniel Strauss: “Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is dropping out of the state’s U.S. Senate race because of a family health issue, leaving Republicans without a top-tier contender against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown… “We recently learned that my wife has a health issue that will require my time, attention and presence. In other words, I need to be there,” Mandel wrote in an email to supporters.” [Politico]

** Good Monday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel’s anti-trust regulator to look at internet giants [Reuters] • SEC Looks Into Kushner Cos. Over Use of EB-5 Program for Immigrant Investors [WSJ] • The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion today, led by Ben Bernanke, on whether it’s time to permanently replace the 2 percent inflation target [Brookings] • Frank Lowy: from humble start to global shopping giant [TheAustralian• Daryl Katz Lists Vancouver Penthouse Condo For $38 Million after buying the most expensive house ever listed in Los Angeles for $152 million [HuffPost] • American Eagle CEO snags Miami Ritz-Carlton pad [NYPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Barren Island’s Treasure Trove: Robert Moses levelled a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood in the nineteen-fifties. Debris is still washing ashore” by David Owen: “In the mid-thirties, Robert Moses evicted the remaining residents to make way for Marine Park… Some of the exposed material, [Robin] Nagle believes, originated in a Brooklyn neighborhood that Moses levelled to make way for one of his road-building projects, more than a decade after Floyd Bennett Field had been supplanted by LaGuardia Airport. “We don’t know which neighborhood,” she said, “but we do know the period, because when we find remnants of newspapers the dates are between early February and mid-March of 1953… People say the beach is covered with garbage, but it’s actually covered with the material traces of homes that people had to abandon when Moses forced them out.”” [NewYorker

“Looted Antiques Seized From Billionaire’s Home, Prosecutors Say” by James McKinley: “Investigators raided the office and the Manhattan home of the billionaire Michael H. Steinhardt on Friday afternoon, carrying off several ancient works that prosecutors say were looted from Greece and Italy. Mr. Steinhardt, a hedge-fund manager and philanthropist, has been collecting art from ancient Greece for three decades and has close ties to the Metropolitan Museum of Art… The seizures marked the latest action in an effort by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., to repatriate looted antiquities discovered in New York City to their countries of origin.” [NYTimesDailyBeast]

HOLLYWOOD: “What Does Gal Gadot’s Husband Do? Being Wonder Woman’s Sidekick Isn’t Yaron Versano’s Only Super Power” by Nina Bradley: “It seems fans have become increasingly curious about what Gadot’s husband Yaron Versano does for a living. A quick glimpse into Versano’s background proves that being married to Wonder Woman isn’t his only claim to fame. While married to one of Hollywood’s highest grossing actors of 2017, Versano’s personal success in business is nothing to sneeze at. The Israeli real estate developer, along with his brother, once owned and operated Tel Aviv’s Varsano Hotel before they sold it to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for a reported $26 million in 2015…” [Bustle]

GOLDEN GLOBES — “Rachel Brosnahan wins the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy” by Lizzie Plaugic: “Rachel Brosnahan, who plays Miriam Maisel in Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, just won her first-ever Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy. The series is about a Jewish housewife living in New York City in the late 1950s who decides to become a comedian after her husband leaves her.” [TheVerge]

“Natalie Portman Presents Best Director: ‘Here Are the All-Male Nominees’” by Daniel Victor: “Portman managed to deliver a line that instantly landed among the awards show’s most memorable. On stage to present the award for best director, [Ron] Howard began with a relatively standard introduction. Ms. Portman added, without a smile: “And here are the all-male nominees.”” [NYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Behind the Scenes of ‘Soon By You,’ the Orthodox Jewish ‘Friends’” by Emily Shire: “Often billed as a modern Orthodox version of Friends, the YouTube series follows six singles, navigating the religious dating scene of New York’s Upper West Side… “The way we date might be different, but at the end of the day, we’re all just searching for that human connection,” Leah Gottfried, the creator, director, and co-writer of Soon By You told The Daily Beast….“We gain knowledge of things from TV and movies, and if the only depiction of Judaism you’ve seen is Broad City, Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, you’re going to have one interesting and inaccurate picture of what the full spectrum looks like,” [Jessica] Schechter, 30, told The Daily Beast.” [DailyBeast

“Sharks Appear On Mediterranean Beach In Israel, Researchers Don’t Know Why” by Ayushman Basu: “According to a report by Haaretz, the sharks remain in constant motion and close to the shoreline boulders in a small area. It is believed that the sharks are attracted by the relatively warm waters near the shore, where they stay from the months of December to March. However, the researchers are yet to figure out where the sharks go after March. But till the sharks stay, they are a major tourist attraction.” [IBTimes]

“See the Art That Tavi Gevinson Collects” by John Ortved: “Ms. Gevinson lives in a one-bedroom apartment on a high floor in a new building across the street from the Brooklyn Academy of Music… On the walls of her living area and bedroom are the works of young artists — friends of Ms. Gevinson’s from high school or teenagers she’s featured in Rookie… What’s with that Post-it with the word “chutzpah” written on it? “I was reading about “A Star Is Born,” the Streisand one, and how her boyfriend or hair stylist or someone wanted to direct it. He had no experience directing. And she said something like, “He had such chutzpah,” and it made me realize I could do anything. That just reminds me to have the confidence of a white straight man.”” [NYTimes

PIC OF THE DAY — Amb. David Friedman: “Took the weekend off at a great Israeli resort. Even the cappuccino (“cafe hafuch”) reflects the unbreakable bond between the USA and Israel.” [Pic

REMEMBERING: “Jerome Lefkowitz, a Force in New York Labor Law, Dies at 86” by Sam Roberts: “Jerome Lefkowitz, a labor lawyer and mediator who helped draft the Taylor Law, which grants New York public employees collective bargaining rights but forbids them from striking, died on Dec. 21 at his home in Albany… Jerome Lefkowitz was born on March 24, 1931, in the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx to Jack Lefkowitz, a garment industry executive, and the former Sue Horowitz. Both his parents were active in Jewish organizations. In addition to his son Jay, he is survived by his wife, the former Myrna Weishaut; two other sons, Mark and Alan; a daughter, Miriam Lefkowitz; a brother, Leonard; and 10 grandchildren.” [NYTimes

DESSERT: “Israeli company says it has produced tiniest cherry tomato” by Audrey Horowitz: “The “drop tomato” is about the size of a blueberry and the Kedma company in the country’s southern Arava desert says it is the smallest one ever cultivated in Israel, perhaps even in the world… “The idea is that it is comfortable,” said Ariel Kidron, a Kedma grower. “You can throw it in a salad, you don’t need to cut it. It just explodes in your mouth.” The seed, originally developed in Holland, was modified to match the arid growing conditions in southern Israel.” [ABCNews]

WEEKEND WEDDING: “Gabrielle Melissa Leon and Mark Eric Spatt were married Jan. 6. Rabbi Michael L. Gold officiated at the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Fla. Mrs. Spatt is the program associate in Atlanta for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, which encourages high school students and young adults, through educational programs and travel, to develop a connection with Israel and Jewish values. She is also a director of both the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee and of the Coalition for Collegiate Women’s Leadership… Mr. Spatt… is also involved with Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee, through which the couple met in 2014.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Talmudic scholar living in Bnei Brak, Israel, widely acclaimed as the leader of the Haredi community, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky turns 90… Television, film, stage actor and comedian, Larry Storch turns 95… Moscow-born classical pianist, living in the US since 1987, Vladimir Feltsman turns 66… Founder and chief investment officer of Pzena Investment Management, a NYC-based investment firm with $35 billion in assets under management, Richard “Rich” Pzena turns 59… Founder and president of DC-based Professionals in the City, Michael Karlan turns 50… Lobbyist, attorney, patron of contemporary art and philanthropist,Heather Miller Podesta turns 48… State Senator in Maine since 2008, Justin Loring Alfond turns 43… 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 36… Dayton, Ohio native, deputy editor of Newsweek, previously at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Ross M. Schneiderman turns 36 (h/ts Playbook)…

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

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Daily Kickoff: During White House fight, after Jared enlisted Rupert, Bannon recruited Sheldon | Last year of Kraft’s Patriots dynasty? | #TooMuchNews

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MORE EXCERPTS FROM FIRE AND FURY — Michael Wolff on Bannon and Israel, pages 141-142: “Netanyahu was an old Kushner family friend, but when, in the fall, the Israeli Prime Minister came to New York to meet with Trump and Kushner, he made a point of seeking out Steve Bannon. On Israel, Bannon had partnered with Sheldon Adelson… in the President’s mind, quite the toughest tough-Jew (that is, the richest). Adelson regularly disparaged Kushner’s motives and abilities. The President, to Bannon’s great satisfaction, kept telling his son-in-law, as he strategized on Israel, to check with Sheldon, and, hence, Bannon.”

KUSHNER AS TRUMP’S KISSINGER? — “Nobody was more perplexed by the sudden rise of Jared Kushner to his new position as Israel’s great protector than U.S. Jewish organizations. Now the Jewish great and good… had to pay court to Jared Kushner, who until little more than a few minutes ago had truly been a nobody. For Trump, giving Israel to Kushner was not only a test, it was a Jewish test: the President was singling him out for being Jewish, rewarding him for being Jewish, saddling him with an impossible hurdle for being Jewish — and, too, defaulting him to the stereotyping belief in the negotiating powers of Jews. “Henry Kissinger says Jared is going to be the new Henry Kissinger,” Trump said more than once…”

On the Comey Firing, pages 210-211: “Even more urgent was Charlie Kushner’s fear, channeled through his son and daughter-in-law, that the Kushner family’s dealings were getting wrapped up in the pursuit of Trump… (The Kushner position was not helped by the fact that the President had been gleefully telling multiple people that Jared could solve the Middle East problem because the Kushners knew all the crooks in Israel.) “Ivanka is terrified,” said a satisfied Bannon… His daughter and son-in-law, their urgency compounded by Charlie Kushner’s panic, encouraged him, arguing that the once possibly charmable Comey was now a dangerous and uncontrollable player whose profit would inevitably be their loss.”

Adelson’s role in Bannon – McMaster fight, page 288: “[Rupert] Murdoch, enlisted by Jared to help defend McMaster, was personally lobbying the president for Bannon’s head. Bannonites felt they had to defend Bannon against an impulsive move by the president: so now, not only did they brand McMaster as weak on Israel, they persuaded Sheldon Adelson to lobby Trump. Bannon, Adelson told the president, was the only person he trusted on Israel in the White House. Adelson’s billions and implacability always impressed Trump, and his endorsement, Bannon believed, significantly strengthened his hand.” $14.99 on Amazon Kindle, available today[Amazon]

FIRST LOOK: “Inside the Trump Team’s Lobbying Blitz on 2016 U.N. Israel Vote: Failed outreach, cited in Flynn plea deal, was wider than has been reported” by Kate O’Keeffe and Farnaz Fassihi: “The December 2016 push by Mr. Trump and his transition team came at the request of Israel and involved top aides including… Jared Kushner… Mike Flynn and the current U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley… Mr. Kushner stressed to Mr. Flynn that derailing the vote was Mr. Trump’s top priority at that time, and Mr. Flynn in turn directed the transition team to canvas officials from all Security Council countries…”

“At the U.N., ambassadors discussed at holiday parties and in late-night phone calls how best to respond, some noting that Messrs. Flynn and Kushner had told them the incoming administration “would remember” how they voted… Legal experts have questioned whether the U.N. lobbying effort ran afoul of an 18th century law called the Logan Act, which bars unauthorized private citizens from negotiating with foreign officials in a dispute with the U.S. But there are no precedents to suggest how that law might apply. White House lawyers say the statute doesn’t apply to transition teams; other legal experts say it could.” [WSJ]

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweets WSJ article: “The truly unprecedented action described here was Barack Obama & Samantha Power throwing Israel to the UN jackals. As lame ducks, no less. Obama administration conducted a graceless transition, in contrast to what they received from Bush.”

TWEET FIRST — “After Trump Threat, White House ‘Reviewing’ U.S. Assistance to Palestinians” by Amir Tibon and Noa Landau: “The White House is now actively looking at cutting [Palestinian] aid, and is expected to hold a discussion on the matter on Friday. A senior administration official told Haaretz on Thursday: “We are reviewing our assistance to the Palestinians in light of their recent conduct, per the president’s recent message.”[Haaretz]

REPORT — Netanyahu urging Americans not to cut funding for UNRWA: “Behind the scenes, the Prime Minister is now in contact with the Americans in order to prevent the massive cut — to prevent it, you heard right,” the Hadashot news report claimed. Netanyahu’s public position is to support the Trump administration’s threats to cut funds to UNRWA… Nonetheless, Netanyahu is anxious to avoid further destabilizing Gaza. He “wants to steer between the desire to publicly back Trump and to prevent a disaster in Gaza.”[ToI• Israel caught between Trump and Gaza suffering [Al-Monitor]

“Trump tweet on Palestinian aid falls far short” by former U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “Any honest conversation between the Trump administration and the Israeli government is likely to focus on finding a way to allow the dollars to continue to flow. It would not be the first time a Trump tweet did not have much impact on actual policy… Threats and leverage have their place in diplomacy. So does showing your partners what they can achieve. It’s time for Trump to reveal to Israelis and Palestinians what he thinks he can help deliver for them in his ultimate deal.” [CNN]

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Led by the Mercers, Bannon’s Allies Abandon Him” by Ken Vogel, Jonathan Martin and Jeremy Peters: “The Mercers were blunt on Thursday in cutting the cord, reiterating support for Mr. Trump while disavowing Mr. Bannon’s remarks and disowning his political endeavors. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Rebekah Mercer, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, said in a statement… Mr. Bannon is chairman of Breitbart, and many staff members there believe there is a strong chance he might lose the job…”

“While Mr. Bannon publicly bashed the Republican donor class, he spent months quietly courting some of the deepest pockets on the right. Mr. Bannon discussed his plans in grandiose, but vague, terms in a series of meetings with donors, including the Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson; a Chicago Cubs owner, Todd Ricketts; and a Home Depot founder, Bernard Marcus… After reports of Mr. Bannon’s meetings with Mr. Adelson, a representative for the Las Vegas billionaire, Andy Abboud, issued a rare statement pledging loyalty to Mr. McConnell and declaring, “The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts.” Mr. Abboud added.“”[NYTimes]

— “Trump Spoke to Rebekah Mercer on the Phone. Then She Knifed Steve Bannon” by Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng: “During [the] conversation, which took place Thursday afternoon… Mercer and Trump addressed Bannon’s scorched-earth comments… and the donor reaffirmed her support for Trump’s presidency and his agenda.” [DailyBeast]

NEW DETAILS — Blair denies telling Kushner UK may have spied on Trump — by Matthew Weaver and Nicola Slawson: “In his already bestselling new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, author Michael Wolff says the former Prime Minister had a secret meeting with… Jared Kushner… Blair suggested there was a possibility “that the British had had the Trump campaign staff under surveillance, monitoring its telephone calls and other communications and possibly even Trump himself.” … Wolff said it was not clear whether the information was “rumour, informed conjecture, his own speculation or solid stuff” but that it had been shared because Blair had been angling to be Trump’s Middle East envoy…”

“Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme [Blair] said: “This story is a complete fabrication, literally from beginning to end. I’ve never had such conversation in the White House, outside of the White House, with Jared Kushner, with anybody else…  Of course I’ve met him and we discussed the Middle East peace process. I wasn’t angling for some job. I did the quartet role. I’m still very active on the Middle East peace process, but I’ve got absolutely no desire for an official position. I never sought one, it was never offered, don’t want one.” [TheGuardian

TALK OF THE REGION — “Netanyahu, Abbas take off diplomatic masks” by Akiva Eldar: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lost control of their management of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu and his government spokespeople could no longer recycle the claim that the obstacle to peace is Abbas’ refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. On the other hand, at the beginning of the 25th year of the Oslo Accord, Abbas can no longer claim to the Palestinian public that his investment in the diplomatic option is yielding dividends.” [Al-Monitor]

Hamas said prepared to place its weapons under PLO’s control if it can join: “The Al-Hayat newspaper… which cited unnamed sources in Gaza, said Hamas was prepared to place its weaponry under PLO control, provided it had a key role in that leadership, and had clarified this position to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.” [ToI]

New York Times editorial… “Israel Digs a Grave for the Two-State Solution: It is evident that for Mr. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is supposed to be leading the president’s Middle East efforts, diplomacy is a one-sided affair… If he was really interested in a Middle East deal, as he claimed in his campaign, this would be a good time to reaffirm America’s longstanding commitment to a two-state solution and tell the Israeli right that it is going too far.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL — “White House, Senators Seek Iran Measure Ahead of Iran Nuclear Deadline” by Patricia Zengerle: “Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin had an evening meeting with President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, to discuss possible legislation… Aides said they were looking at measures including ending the requirement that Trump re-certify the agreement every 90 days and changing some of the so-called sunset provisions… Ahead of the meeting, Corker said he hoped enough progress had been made that Trump might not restore the sanctions.”[ReutersNPR• Iran protests reveal Republican fracture over nuclear deal[Al-Monitor

“Treasury sanctions Iranian entities linked to ballistic missile production” by Victoria Guida: “The Treasury Department on Thursdaysanctioned five Iranian entities linked to the country’s ballistic missile program… The entities sanctioned today are affiliated with Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which develops and produces missiles, Treasury said.” [Politico• Iranian Hackers: Sophisticated, Frustrated and a Rising Global Threat [NYTimes]

Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator of the Iran deal, writes… “Trump Is ‘Misreading Situation’: The Iran deal helped create the current circumstances, at least in part. The deal set rising expectations that the high unemployment would be diminished; that the majority of Iranian citizens who are under the age of 35 would have a better future; that President Rouhani would get the country on a path to greater modernity and opportunity… What is important is that President Trump not take actions that get in the way of the voices of the people of Iran. Killing the Iran deal will do just that.” [TIME]

DEEP DIVE: “The Biggest Sanctions-Evasion Scheme in Recent History” by Jonathan Schanzer: ”Yesterday, Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was found guilty in a Manhattan courtroom for a range of financial crimes. His dramatic trial revealed that tens of billions in dollars and gold moved from Turkey to Iran through a complex network of businesses, banks, and front companies… For three years, my colleagues and I had been briefing the Treasury Department, the State Department, and Congressional offices. We had tracked the export data (which, remarkably, Turkey did not hide), showing an astronomical spike in Turkish gold exports. We identified the companies and players… Yet, it was an inconvenient moment to reveal unsavory truths about Iran, amid the push for the nuclear agreement. Nor did anyone, Democrat or Republican, want to touch the third rail of relations with Turkey, a NATO ally that had recently begun backing terrorist groups like Hamas.” [TheAtlantic

TOP TALKER — “Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump’s Struggle to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation” by Michael Schmidt: “Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer… Mr. Trump spent the next weekend at his country club in Bedminster, N.J., where he watched a recording of Mr. Comey’s testimony… and discussed the possibility of dismissing him with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller. He… asked Mr. Miller to help put together a letter the president intended to send to Mr. Comey…” [NYTimes] • “Donald Trump Asked ‘Where’s My Roy Cohn?’ Jeff Sessions Better Hope It’s Not Him” by Scott Bixby [DailyBeast]

UPDATE ON MOORE’S JEWISH LAWYER — “Roy Moore’s wife reveals their ‘Jewish attorney’ and he’s a Christian” by Greg Garrison: “[Martin] Wishnatsky worked as a staff attorney at the Alabama Supreme Court until [Roy] Moore was removed from office in 2016. Then he went to work as a staff attorney for the Foundation for Moral Law, which was founded by Roy Moore and where Kayla Moore works as president. Wishnatsky… attended Hebrew school at a Conservative synagogue and went through a bar mitzvah… But Wishnatsky said he accepted Christ in his thirties… He became a Mormon first, then later became an evangelical Protestant Christian. “I’m a Messianic Jew,” Wishnatsky said.” [AL

** Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Mark Zuckerberg Resolves to ‘Fix’ Facebook in 2018 [WSJ] • David Tepper says market is as ‘cheap’ as a year ago, bullish on Trump’s tax cuts [CNBC] • Weinstein Co. Close to Sale for Less Than $500 Million [WSJ] • Neiman Marcus poised to name a new CEO as Karen Katz steps down [NYPost• Israel proposes ban on trading shares of cryptocurrency companies [Reuters]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Investors are pouring money into Frank, a TurboTax for student loan applications” by Jonathan Shieber: “Rather than lend students money, Frank is looking to make the process of applying for loans easier. The company, founded by 25-year-old former banker and University of Pennsylvania graduate Charlie Javice, is like a TurboTax for college loan applications. It’s backed by a clutch of interesting investors, including Aleph, the U.S.-Israeli investment fund that’s also put money into new insurance company; Lemonade and WeWork; Reach Capital; former Uber advocate Bradley Tusk’s Tusk Ventures; and Slow Ventures. Marc Rowan, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, led the most recent investment.” [TechCrunchCrunchbase

SPORTS BLINK: “For Kraft, Brady and Belichick, is this the beginning of the end?” by Seth Wickersham: “According to interviews with more than a dozen New England staffers, executives, players and league sources with knowledge of the team’s inner workings, the three most powerful people in the franchise — Belichick, Brady and owner Robert Kraft — have had serious disagreements. They differ on Brady’s trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team’s long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick’s bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing. Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group.” [ESPN]

TALK OF THE NATION: “In a shift, Trump administration says houses of worship can get direct FEMA funding after disasters” by Michelle Boorstein: “We thank the Trump administration for righting this longtime wrong and treating disaster-damaged churches, synagogues and other houses of worship fairly — on the same terms as other nonprofits such as museums, community centers and libraries stricken by natural disaster,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy at the Orthodox Union, a major U.S. Orthodox Jewish organization… Historically, Diament said, the issue was bipartisan. It’s unclear what will happen going forward if the issue gains public attention, but at the moment a mix of lawmakers is supporting the measure to directly fund houses of worship…” [WashPost]

“De Blasio told Orthodox Jews he felt ‘betrayed’ by lack of cooperation over metzitzah” by Dan Goldberg: “On a Friday in March, representatives of the Orthodox Jewish community went to Gracie Mansion to meet with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was angry over what he felt was a breach of trust, according to a letter signed by three rabbis obtained by POLITICO… “Your honor, please know that we never refused to honor that agreement,” the rabbis wrote. “Soon after our meeting … we followed up with the city to work on its implementation, only to be told by a city official that the health department refused to commit to its terms… Why are we being faulted for the health department’s going rogue, and why are the city’s communications people feeding such distortions to the media?” The mayor, who won the support of the Orthodox community in Brooklyn during the 2013 Democratic primary… did not respond to the three rabbis who sent the letter.” Behind a paywall [PoliticoNY]

“Israel Offers African Migrants a Choice: Ticket Out or Jail’ by Isabell Kershner: “The new plan — promoted by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, and Gilad Erdan, the public security minister, who is from Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party — is the latest phase of a long-running political and legal struggle over the African migrants’ fate. Critics have denounced the campaign as an effort to distract from corruption investigations against Mr. Netanyahu, and have asserted that the timing is political, given the whiff of possible early elections in the air. In the past, threats to jail the migrants en masse have not been realized, not least because of the cost and a space shortage in prisons.” [NYTimes

TOP TALKER: “Heiress Arrested for Upper East Side Anti-Semitic Incident” by Liel Leibovitz: “The incident reportedly began as [Heiress Jacqueline Kent] Cooke was waiting to retrieve her coat after dinner at Caravaggio… Ahead of Cooke were Matthew Haberkorn, 52, a lawyer from San Francisco, his wife, four daughters, and 77-year-old mother… “Hurry up Jew,” Haberkorn recalled her saying. The lawyer’s wife, Linda Thomas, asked Cooke to repeat herself, and the heiress allegedly did, saying “Hurry up, Jew. I got places to be.” … Cooke’s boyfriend intervened with a few choice words of his own, wishing Haberkorn and Thomas’s daughters a “happy Bat Mitzvah.” Cooke and boyfriend left the restaurant, but Haberkorn… followed the couple outside, and asked Cooke why she had said what she had. In response, he said, the heiress swung her mirrored Perspex clutch purse and smashed him in the face.” [TabletMagNYDailyNews]

THIS TOWN: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are house hunting in Washington” by Emily Heil: “Javanka… rent a six-bedroom home in the swanky Kalorama neighborhood… The location has its upside: loads of charm, plus it’s close to their synagogue, TheShul of the Nation’s Capital, meaning the couple and their three children have a short walk on Sabbath days, when the observant family eschews transportation. Downsides? The house is very close to two streets, making it highly visible… “They are looking for something more private,” said one person familiar with the couple’s house hunt. We’re told they’ve visited at least one property in the Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood.” [WashPost

PIC OF THE DAY —  Sheldon and Miriam Adelson announced a donation of five new ambulances to four West Bank settlements at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv yesterday [Pic]

INBOX: JI reader Aaron Troodler emails… “Just one postscript to the photo with Jason Greenblatt that you referenced in today’s newsletter, which I thought you might appreciate. One of the people in the photo (Dan Brody, on the far right) was a contestant on The Apprentice in 2006, which means that in addition to his relationship with Jason Greenblatt, Dan also crossed paths with Donald J. Trump at one time. Pretty sure that when DJT uttered “You’re Fired” to Dan in the boardroom 12 years ago, he could never have imagined that one day he’d be visiting his friend in a White House that is occupied by a POTUS DJT.”

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Former member of the Knesset for the Likud party (1981-1999), the last three years of which he served as Speaker of the Knesset, Dan Tichon turns 81… Former Philadelphia mayor (1992-2000) and Pennsylvania governor (2003-2011), currently a fellow at Brookings and co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force, Ed Rendell turns 74… Paul Meyer turns 74… Former Attorney General of the U.K. (2001-2007), now Chair of the European and Asian litigation practice at Debevoise & Plimpton, Lord Peter Goldsmith, turns 68… CEO of Legacy Interactive / Legacy Games (founded in 1998) and President of HitPoint Studios since 2017, Ariella Lehrer, Ph.D. turns 65… Founder and principal of DC-based Mager & Associates, a boutique public policy and advocacy consulting firm, also on the board of Emily’s List, Mimi Mager turns 64… Chairman of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeYisrael), he served briefly in the Knesset for the Zionist Union party (2015-2016), Daniel “Danny” Atar turns 60… EVP of digital video for The Hill, John F. Solomon turns 51… Professional poker player who won the 2010 and 2012 World Series of Poker Players Championship, he also has two World Poker Tour titles, Michael Mizrachi turns 37…

SATURDAYEVP and senior counsel of the Trump Organization, known as one of the advisors on the NBC reality television program, The Apprentice,George H. Ross turns 90… Professor of Chemistry (now Emeritus) at The University of Chicago since 1957, member of the Board of Governors at Tel Aviv University, Stuart A. Rice turns 86… Canadian billionaire businessman, investor, author and philanthropist, Seymour Schulich turns 78… Billionaire, philanthropist and co-founder of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Henry R. Kravis turns 74… Chairman, president and CEO of Phibro Animal Health Corporation, Jack C. Bendheim turns 71… Educator, author and former chief rabbi of Frankfurt am Main (1988-1993), currently residing in Antwerp, Belgium, Rabbi Ahron Daum turns 67… Attorney General of Oregon, elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, she was previously a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals (2005-2011), Ellen Rosenblum turns 67… Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, millionaire businessman, Oleksandr Feldman turns 58… Daniel Slatopolsky turns 54… Actor, painter and fashion designer, he is the nephew of fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, Greg Lauren turns 48… Serial entrepreneur based in NYC, founder of Regal Wings and Jewish dating sites, Harei At and Jedding, Eli Ostreicher turns 34… Former Fulbright Scholar in Uganda, Anna Phillips… President and editor in chief of Rewire (once known as RH Reality Check), previously Director of Advocacy at American Jewish World Service, Jodi Lynn Jacobson… Founder of Pure California Beverages, past president of American Technion Society’s Western Region, Advisory Board Member of Spinal Singularity, Sarah Beth Rena Conner… Jonah Kaplan… Mel S. Coben

SUNDAY: Pulitzer Prize-winning sports reporter Ira Berkow turns 78… Co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine Jann Wenner turns 72… President of the University of South Florida System, Judy Genshaftturns 70… Dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Dr. Ezra Kestturns 60… Physician, US Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul turns 55… Actress Lauren Cohan turns 36… Assistant director at Hillel of Stanford University, Jeremy Ragent turns 31… DC macher Ari Eliezer Mittleman

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