Daily Kickoff: Question dividing Israeli leaders — How to cash in on Trump? | Bill Clinton to talk Rabin at Brookings | Bush 41 receives Mensch Award


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HAPPENING TODAY ON THE HILL — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the nomination of David Friedman for US Ambassador to Israel at 10:30 AM.

The Republicans on the committee are all expected to vote for Friedman, including Senator Rand Paul (R-KN) who told Jewish Insider that he is “favorably disposed” to the New York attorney’s candidacy. Sen. Ben Cardin, the committee’s Ranking Democratic Member told reporters yesterday that he will vote against Friedman since his candidacy contradicts the “bipartisan tradition” of U.S. support for Israel. Cardin, one of the most hawkish Senate Democrats on Israel who voted against the Iran deal, will likely give cover to other Democrats on the committee to also oppose Friedman, while Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who was quoted as saying that he is “inclined to be supportive” of Trump’s pick, could provide Friedman with bipartisan support. [JewishInsider

“Senate Dems: State Department is in disarray” by Jordain Carney: “Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warning that his department is nearing a “tipping point.” … The letter comes amid multiple reports speculating that Tillerson is being overshadowed on foreign policy decisions by some in the president’s inner circle, including White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law… Staffers for Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.)… told reporters that including ambassador nominations there are more than 200 vacancies currently at the department. Cardin, who didn’t sign the letter… stressed that he hopes the Secretary of State will be the leading designer of U.S. foreign policy.” [TheHill] 

“Jared Kushner’s Conflicts Of Interest Questioned By Democratic Lawmakers” by Cody Fenwick: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings from the House Oversight Committee signed the letter. “Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit a federal official, such as Mr. Kushner, from profiting off of his government work,” they wrote. “Neither the White House nor Mr. Kushner’s attorneys has confirmed which financial assets Mr. Kushner still controls – rendering oversight of Mr. Kushner’s recusals and compliance with conflict-of-interest law impossible,” they continue.” [Patch

INTERVIEW — Freshman Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD 8th District) speaks to JI’s Aaron Magid about his Jewish identity, his views on the Middle East peace process and the recent rise in anti-Semitism. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Raskin’s career has shifted from the classroom to Capitol Hill. Nonetheless, one theme has consistently remained: “Everything I always wanted to be in life started with the letter ‘p’: professor, politician, philosopher, poet, a playwright and a professional football player,” he told Jewish Insider in an in-depth interview, adding, “I’m a big chess player and a bit of an insomniac so I stay up late playing chess online.”

On U.S. support for a two-state solution: “If we can’t make peace between peace between J Street and AIPAC, what are our chances of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians? I hope that I will be part of solutions that strengthen and fortify Israel and bring real peace between Israel and the Palestinians and make the whole region a source of prosperity and justice rather than unremitting conflict and terrorism… I favor a two state solution, which has been the American position for decades. I think it’s also been the Israeli position for decades. I am for a strong resilient prosperous Israel. I am for the vindication of the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians too who have been the victims of lots of events all over the world including from their own leaders.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

HAPPENING TODAY: Former President Bill Clinton will be speaking at a Brookings Institute event at 2:00 PM about Yitzchak Rabin’s peace negotiations with the Palestinians and relationship with global leaders. Afterwards, a panel moderated by Martin Indyk will discuss a new book titled: “Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman” by Itamar Rabinovich, a fellow at the think tank. Clinton and Rabin established an especially close bond while in power. The former US President delivered a deeply personal eulogy at Rabin’s funeral with the famous words “Shalom Chaver.” [Livestream]

DEALMAKING TIME: “Trump adviser to visit Israel, discuss settlements” by Times of Israel: “[Jason] Greenblatt’s visit will focus on West Bank settlement policy, Channel 2 news reported Wednesday. The goal of Greenblatt’s visit is reportedly to formulate the Trump administration’s position on settlements, including what the US will accept in terms of where and how much Israel can build. One of the main topics of discussion will be the new settlement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to the former residents of the Amona outpost, who were evicted from their homes last month, the report said.” [ToI

HEARD YESTERDAY – WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer on settlements: “I know that when [Trump and Netanyahu] met here at the White House, there was discussion of settlements, and the President was very clear about what his desires and his wishes were. I think as we continue to follow up with Israel in the coming weeks, we will have more on that.”

“Defense Chief Lieberman to Tillerson: Settlements Not an Impediment to Peace” by Gili Cohen: “According to a statement issued by Lieberman’s office, the defense chief told Tillerson that “even the uprooting of 21 blooming towns in Gaza did not lead to peace but rather to rocket fire at Israel.” Lieberman also asked the secretary of state to instruct the State Department to review its policy toward The United Nations’ Human Rights Council and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.” [Haaretz

“Will Trump split the Israeli right?” by Ben Caspit: “According to Israeli sources familiar with workings in Washington, a fight between two opposing factions is underway there as well over the shape of administration policy…Representing the pro-Israel faction are ambassador nominee David Friedman and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner. Representing the realists are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. That is why the Israeli right is watching Liberman’s trip to Washington and his meetings with Mattis and Tillerson with considerable consternation. “The damage he will do in Washington will be very hard to repair later,” said one Knesset member from HaBayit HaYehudi who requested anonymity.” [Al-Monitor]

“How to Cash In on Trump? The Question Dividing Israel’s Leaders” by David Wainer: “Netanyahu, according to an official close to him, wants to leverage Trump’s support to create a broad alliance against Iran… To keep that goal alive, the official said, Netanyahu wants to steer clear of dramatic moves on settlements. “Precisely because Netanyahu sees opportunities for renewing a strategic front against Iran, with America at the helm, settlement-building is much lower on the list of his priorities,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.” [Bloomberg] • Israeli Ambassador Dani Dayan: “We See Eye to Eye with U.S. on Iran” [Newsmax]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Prime Minister Netanyahu is spending the day at the Kremlin, meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the fifth time in a year and a half. For the past week, Bibi has been talking about this meeting on a daily basis, putting the Syrian front on the top of his agenda. Jerusalem is concerned about Iran boosting its presence in Syria the day after the civil war ends. Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu said that it is a “very important meeting for Israel’s security. Defeating ISIS terror cannot lead to an increase in Iranian terror, nor its proxies. You do not replace terror with terror.” Accompanying Bibi to Moscow are IDF Intelligence chief Herzi Halevi and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud. Elkin has been Netanyahu’s companion and translator in all of his recent meetings with Putin. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“As Trump Makes Threats, Iran Makes Friends” by Donna Abu-Nasr: “As the world adjusts to the Trump era, the message for Washington and its allies is that Iran wields growing influence in unexpected places. The Islamic power has been able to expand its reach regardless of the economic sanctions that excluded it from much of the global oil market until last year. In this case, it’s in Africa’s most populous nation, key oil producer and a country where the sectarian battle that has thrown the Middle East into chaos is festering. Nigeria’s Muslims are mainly Sunnis and Iran’s growing foothold in Africa has alarmed the Saudis.” [Bloomberg

“Israel to assist in US struggle against anti-Semitism” by Itamar Eichner: ““The US Jewish community leaders are very concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism and disappointed that Israel has failed to express enough understanding, sympathy and support of their situation,” said Michael Oren, a Deputy Minister in the prime minister’s office. “Jews in the US are now between a rock and a hard place, between left-wing anti-Semitism and right-wing anti-Semitism,” he said… “Israel needs to find ways to help,” Oren urged.” [Ynet]

MENSCH AWARD: “Condemning hatred – former President, First Lady honored by Jewish community” by Damali Keith:“The event was President George H.W. Bush’s second public appearance since battling pneumonia in January 2017. First, he appeared at Super Bowl LI as part of the pre-game coin toss. On Wednesday, he and his wife Barbara expressed their defiance toward hatred… President and Mrs. Bush arrived to a standing ovation from of a small crowd of invited guests and in a gracious ceremony, they were presented with the Mensch Award. The event took place at the Jewish synagogue Congregation Beth-Israel where Neil Bush, speaking on behalf of his parents, said they are disgusted by the dozens of recent Jewish Center vandalism cases and threats.” [Fox26]

SCENE YESTERDAY IN DC: White house aides — including Jason Greenblatt, Boris Epshteyn, Avi Berkowitz and Sebastian Gorka — met with members of Agudath Israel of America’s Board of Trustees and Regional Directors on their annual Leadership Mission to Washington at the White House for a briefing on the administration’s activities.

PHOTOS: Avi Berkowitz with his cousin former AIPAC president Howard Friedman [Pic] • Jeff Ballabon and Gorka in a friendly chat [Pic

TRUMP APPOINTMENTS: “Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, Official Says” by Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs: “President Donald Trump will nominate Richard Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO, according to a White House official, a selection that would make the longtime loyalist and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations the highest-ranking openly gay person to serve in the administration… If he wins Senate confirmation, Grenell will take a pivotal position in the Trump administration. The president spurred widespread anxiety in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization when he called the alliance “obsolete” and suggested during the campaign the U.S. might not honor its defense commitments if other members don’t pay their share.” [Bloomberg

“Trump’s personnel problem” by Jonathan Swan: “Treasury has been having major headaches in getting Mnuchin’s people confirmed… The White House has been irritated that Mnuchin has been asking for people viewed as liberals or in one case a Hillary Clinton donor. Treasury spokesman Jason Chung denied there were any problems and said Mnuchin “could not be happier with how the appointment and nomination process is going.” [Axios]

“The Myth of Trump’s Loyalty” by McKay Coppins: “Despite his boasts, the president built his success on his willingness to toss aside mentors, friends, and family members during moments of frustration and chaos.” [TheAtlantic]

BROOKLYN JEWS STICKING WITH TRUMP — “Poll: New York Jews Would Vote For Trump Over Clinton Again” by Michael Johnson: “A closer look at the crosstabs shows that in predominantly Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens where we polled, voters backed Trump by significant margins—62 percent in Brooklyn and 24 percent in Queens. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Clinton held a 53 percent edge over Trump in the heavily Jewish zip codes that NYJL polled.” [NYJLife

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: How Trump could soon be at war with Yellen [Politico] • Michael Bloomberg’s longtime money manager steps down [Axios] • Billionaire Rennert must pay $213.2 million judgment: U.S. appeals court [Reuters Glencore Is on to a Winner With This Obscure Metal [Bloomberg] • Inside the Leviev–Julius Klein Corporate Divorce [JCK• Edgar Bronfman Jr. drops out of the race for Time Inc. [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION: “Endor emerges from MIT research with unique predictive analytics tech” by Ron Miller: “Endor applied its own proprietary technology based on Social Physics theory, and created a commercial cloud service, where the customer simply feeds the data into the model, and then in minutes (after however it longs to take to upload the data) can begin asking questions and getting answers based on the content of that data in the context of Social Physics. In fact, the biggest bottleneck is not the processing itself. It’s getting the data into the system, according to Alter.” [TC]

“Ivanka Trump’s Landlord Is a Chilean Billionaire Suing the U.S. Government” by Mark Maremont and James Grimaldi: “The six-bedroom house in the capital’s Kalorama neighborhood was bought for $5.5 million in late December by a company controlled by Andrónico Luksic… The Obama administration in its waning days blocked a Luksic-company plan to build a giant copper-and-nickel mine adjacent to a Minnesota wilderness area, citing environmental concerns. The company and some Minnesota politicians are urging the Trump administration to reverse the decision… Rodrigo Terré, a relative of Mr. Luksic’s who manages the billionaire’s personal investments, said… “categorically” there was no relationship between the house rental and the Minnesota mining dispute, adding that he and Mr. Luksic had not met their famous tenants.” [WSJ]

Ivanka Trump writes “Women’s day is every day!” alongside a Golda Meir quote this morning: “Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” [Twitter]

ICYMI: “Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?” by Emily Shire: “But my prime concern is not that people hold this view of Israel. Rather, I find it troubling that embracing such a view is considered an essential part of an event that is supposed to unite feminists. I am happy to debate Middle East politics or listen to critiques of Israeli policies. But why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?” [NYTimes]

“White House Echoes Tech: ‘Move Fast and Break Things’” by Charles Duhigg: “During the race, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with Gabriel Leydon, founder of a company in Palo Alto, Calif., named MZ, previously known as Machine Zone, which created the highly popular games Mobile Strike and Game of War: Fire Age. Mr. Leydon, one of the biggest online advertisers, agreed to share insights about digital marketing tactics with the Trump campaign.” [NYTimes

MEDIA WATCH: “Top U.S. Media Execs Turn to Israel TV Conference for Guidance in Chaotic Times” by Debra Kamin: “This week, as Keshet Media Group — Israel’s undisputed television heavyweight — launched its fourth installment of INTV, its quasi-annual Jerusalem confab on innovation in television, it has among its participants for the first time CNN president Jeff Zucker, Fox Television Group CEO Dana Walden, and NBC president Jennifer Salke. “When you look at the gestalt, it’s about how you maintain your sense of direction, creation, and vocation under these circumstances,” says Avi Nir, CEO of Keshet.” [Variety]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “His great-grandfather spoke of a crashed Nazi plane. Decades later, the 14-year-old Danish schoolboy found it” by Ben Guarino: “In November 1944, or maybe it was December, a German fighter plane crashed down on the Kristiansen family farm in Denmark. That was one of the many tales told by 14-year-old Daniel Kristiansen’s great-grandfather… But Daniel and his father, Klaus Kristiansen, decided there was no harm in searching for the plane with a metal detector. To their surprise, the detector beeped. The father and son began to dig. Some four yards down, they hit metal. And then they found human remains.” [WashPost]

SPORTS BLINK: “Israel baseball team beats Netherlands, remains undefeated” by Allon Sinai:“Thursday’s showdown with the Dutch was mainly about maintaining momentum, with both teams having qualified for the last eight and the only difference between finishing first or second in Pool A being the eventual schedule in Tokyo. Israel, nevertheless, wanted to enter the next round on a high, and it will do so after once more getting off to a fast start. The blue-and-white scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Pitcher Jason Marquis got the win for Israel, allowing one hit in the opening inning, the only one he pitched.” [JPost; SBNation] • Team Israel Pool A recap: 3 wins. 21 runs. 1 Mensch on the Bench. [Twitter]

BIRTHDAYS: Mayor of North York, Ontario (1973-1997), then Mayor of Toronto (1998-2003), founder of the Bad Boy Furniture chain, Mel Lastman turns 84… Professor of sociology and Jewish studies at the University of Toronto (1974-2012, now professor emeritus), best known for his work on German Jewry, Y. Michal Bodemann turns 73… Sag Harbor-based painter, sculptor and printmaker, Eric Fischl turns 69… Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate, political journalist and commentator, former co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, editor at large for The New Republic, Michael Kinsley turns 66… Moroccan-born member of Knesset (since 1998) now representing the Zionist Union party, previously Minister of Defense (2006-2007) and leader of the Labor Party, Amir Peretz turns 65… President and CEO of NYC’s flagship public TV station WNET, previously the president of NBC News and the executive producer for Dateline NBC, Neal Shapiro turns 59… CEO of NYC-based Gotham Media, holds an MA in Russian history from the London School of Economics and a JD from Harvard Law, previously an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News Nightline, Gordon Platt turns 55… VP and Chief Strategy Officer at Intel Corporation, David I. Ginsberg turns 42 (h/t Playbook)… Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy US Trade Representative, Matthew Vogel turns 39…

Management consultant in the NYC office of McKinsey & Company, previously at the Washington Post, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, where he served as president of The Harvard Crimson, Amit Paley turns 35… Jerusalem City Councilman from the Hitorerut B’Yerushalayim party, Hanan Rubin turns 35… Israeli-born singer, now one-half of the world music duo Shlomit & RebbeSoul, Shlomit Levi turns 34… Communications director for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper since 2-2017, previously at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Alissa “Sadie” Weiner turns 30… Founding partner of Mothership Strategies, a DC-based firm using digital strategies for organizational fundraising and activism, previously at the DCCC, Jacob “Jake” Austin Lipsett turns 24… CEO at New Orleans-based hotel restaurant chain, Our House Hospitality and COO of the Besh Restaurant Group, Emery Whalen… Private equity and venture capital investor, Howie Fialkov… Stephen Lent

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Daily Kickoff: Israel advances to 2nd round of WBC | Haidt, Bruni & Senor on state of the campus debate re Israel | Art World Disowns Javanka


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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “For Trump and Netanyahu, a Budding Symbiotic Relationship” by Mark Landler: “Mr. Trump’s conveniently timed call was a not-so-subtle reminder to Israel’s attorney general that indicting Mr. Netanyahu… could harm Israel’s national security at a dangerous time… “It appears that President Trump is prepared to go a long way to help Prime Minister Netanyahu with his domestic difficulties and that Netanyahu, in return, is willing to provide a kosher seal of approval for a president who was slow to condemn anti-Semitism,” said Martin S. Indyk… American and Israeli officials insist they did not coordinate Mr. Trump’s call for political effect. White House officials said Mr. Trump told aides on Monday morning he wanted to speak to Mr. Netanyahu.”

“So far, experts said, Mr. Netanyahu had benefited more from the relationship than Mr. Trump. “Solving today’s problems probably helps Bibi more than Trump in the short term,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer… “But in the larger picture of how Israel is viewed in Washington, it probably helps Trump as well.” [NYTimes]

“Defense Minister Lieberman Tells Pence: I Expect to See U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Soon” by Amir Tibon:“According to an official statement, Lieberman told Pence during the meeting that he “expects to see the U.S. Embassy [in Israel] at its new location in Jerusalem soon” and thanked Pence and the Trump administration for supporting Israel. “We have true friends in the White House,” Lieberman said after the meeting. He added that “the United States under President Donald Trump is a true partner of Israel’s in facing the different challenges in the region, first among them the Iranian issue.” … Also on Tuesday, Lieberman met with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.” [Haaretz

Sebastian Gorka tweets: “The REAL West Wing: you walk into the lobby and there’s VP Pence with Dr Kissinger surrounded by scouts and cadets!” [Pic] • Gorka didn’t mention Lieberman who is with Pence in the photo

Dan Shapiro writes: “It’s a challenging time to be an ally visiting Washington. The ramp-up phase of any new Admin is difficult, even in best of conditions. The lack of articulated policies and empowered personnel can leave foreign delegations frustrated and without the clarity they seek… Under Trump, the challenge is clearly harder: no Deputies named, no UnderSecs, Asst Secs… Lots of other value in Lieberman’s trip: personal ties, coord on missile defense, joint training, cyber, Israel’s QME, Gaza, Lebanon. But when Bibi asks him what is US policy on Iran & Syria, I bet he goes with his sardonic “Ha Kol Gan Eden” – Everything is paradise.” [Twitter

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: While media outlets were swamped with leaks from Bibi’s fourth investigation, the Prime Minister along with his wife Sarah continued their Bibi-tours yesterday, this time encouraging domestic tourism with a visit to the southern city of Eilat. Netanyahu spent the day signing housing agreements with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, pledging to double Eilat’s size and economy.

The Knesset erupted in debate today over the controversial Muezzin Bill, which limits the use of outdoor loudspeakers by houses of worship to daytime only. The bill passed a preliminary vote. The main target of the bill, proposed by MKs from Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu, is the crack-of-dawn call to prayer from mosques. Bayit Yehudi MK Motti Yogev said he proposed the bill after receiving complaints from both Jews and Muslims about the muezzin’s call. However, Likud MK Yehudah Glick and Zionist Union’s Zouheir Bahloul have commenced a bipartisan and interfaith campaign to reach agreements on the matter through a dialogue and not legislation. Glick rebelled against the coalition, absenting himself from the vote. The bipartisan efforts may be in vain, however, since Netanyahu has thrown his support behind the bill – some say at the behest of his son Yair, who can reportedly hear the mosques in Jisr az-Zarqa from the family’s home in Caesarea.

Tzipi Livni and Ayelet Shaked are the top female candidates for the premiership these days, according to a Walla! news poll published today for International Women’s Day. Livni has run for the job in the past, but lost to Netanyahu in the 2009 elections. Justice Minister Shaked, number two in the Jewish Home party, has recently stated that she sees herself as future PM candidate as well. However, Shaked rushed to avoid getting in trouble with her party’s leader, Naftali Bennett, saying she was talking about the distant future and that she believes Bennett will be the next PM after Netanyahu. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Israel’s travel ban: Boycott supporters to be turned away” by Oren Liebermann: “Every country has the right to determine who enters its borders,” said Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, speaking at conference on Tuesday. “The law adopted yesterday to prevent the entrance of BDS activists into Israel is another step in our struggle against those who seek to delegitimize Israel while hiding behind the language of human rights.” [CNN]

Kenneth Bob, president of Ameinu, which describes itself as a progressive Zionist organization in New York, told Foreign Policy: “Israel should never take actions that reinforce the Far Left’s claim that Israel and its supporters use the power of the state to violate the freedom of speech of their opponents.” [ForeignPolicy]

HEARD ON CHARLIE ROSE: NYU professor Jonathan Haidt and NYT’s Frank Bruni discussing the state of the debate regarding Israel on college campuses with guest moderator Dan Senor, stepping in for Charlie on the eponymous PBS show:

Senor: “When I was on college campus, I was active in the Israel debate – the Israel debate and the peace process. Let’s take the students today on campus, they say the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) debate about boycotting Israel – getting campuses to boycott Israel – it’s no longer just between those who support one policy on Israel and those who oppose one policy on Israel, which it was when I was going to college. Now those who are hostile to Israel, or U.S. policy towards Israel, are joined by almost like a coalition of all these different factions who know nothing about the issue but they all lock arms.”

Haidt: “The key to the new morality is a method of looking at society and looking in terms of power and privilege. So, the old idea of education is – come to campus, we’re going to teach you lots of perspectives that you can use…  What’s happening now is some students – only in a few departments – are learning only one perspective to look at everything. And so you start, this is a good kind of identity politics which is, you know, if black people being denied rights, that’s right for the right. That’s the good kind. There’s a bad kind which is to train students, train young people, to say, let’s divide everybody up by their race and gender and other categories. We will find a moral merit based on their level of privileges is bad and victimhood is good. Now, let’s look at everything through this lens. The Palestinians are the victims. So, therefore they are the good and the Jews, the Israelis are the bad. This is one totalizing perspective. All social problems get reduced to the simple framework. I think we’re doing them a disservice. I think we’re actually making students less wise.”

Bruni: “You mentioned Israel… I think if you’re an Israel supporter, you probably bite your tongue more than you shout out… and you shouldn’t have to do that.” Conversation is from 19:34 to 22:08 in the video [CharlieRose]

FOGGY PRESSER: “State Department’s resumed briefing strives for normal” by Nahal Toosi: “Associated Press diplomatic writer Matthew Lee was, as usual, called on first… Lee asked for details about a Trump administration plan to review financial assistance for the Palestinians. “As always, you’ve stumped me right out of the box,” Toner replied. “I don’t have a status update on that assistance.” … One topic where it was clear that the new administration has a more hard-edged view than the one before it was that of Iran. Just months ago, Toner—a career Foreign Service officer—was defending President Barack Obama’s engagement with Iran on a nuclear deal. On Tuesday, he repeatedly berated Iran in striking terms for its “bad behavior” in the Middle East.” [Politico

“No news at the State Department” by Josh Rogin: “On policies that the president has spoken out on, Toner was much more comfortable giving details — by repeating what the president has said. For example, Toner articulated U.S. policy on Israeli settlement activity by referring to the president’s news conference. President Trump “said he would like to see Israel hold back on settlement activity, and we are in discussions with Israel as to what that would look like,” Toner said. But when asked how the administration intends to get from that statement to an actual peace process, Toner returned to form. “We are working closely with the White House on evaluating where we stand,” he said. “At this point we are still at a stage where we are looking at the situation and formulating next steps.”” [WashPost]  Trump’s State Department Discovers That Press Briefings Aren’t Deadly [FP

“New Palestinian Envoy to U.S. Welcomes Trump’s Desire for an ‘Ultimate’ Peace Deal” by Mark Leftly: “Speaking to media in Ramallah minutes before he was sworn in as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)’s chief representative in Washington on Tuesday, Dr Husam Zomlot said he had faith Trump would listen to both sides in any negotiations. “There are sufficient signs he [Trump] is after the ultimate deal. My task is to explain we’re the ultimate power, that we have done sufficient investment to be the launchpad for that deal,” he said. “If President Trump seeks the ultimate deal, he needs to know we’re the ultimate partners. There will be no deal without us.” [TimeMag]

TOP TALKER: “Calls for more security as new threats made against Jewish centers” by Ray Sanchez and David Shortell: “”This is not ‘normal,'” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement, “We will not be deterred or intimidated. These threats (are) in addition to threats to at least six JCCs and three day schools in Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Florida, Maryland and Toronto.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neil on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders at a JCC on Staten Island to discuss the anti-Semitic incidents throughout the city… Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday directed the state police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement to investigate bomb threats against New York Jewish community centers in Rochester and Syracuse and the Anti-Defamation League headquarters in Manhattan.” [CNN; CBSNews

“Alluding to Trump, de Blasio calls for vigilance against spike in anti-Semitic crimes” by Azi Paybarah: “We understand what’s happened around the country in the last few months,” said [Mayor Bill] de Blasio, standing in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island… “We’ve never seen a concentrated threat against the Jewish community.” …  The mayor recalled hearing stories of World War II from his parents… When asked what he would like to see from Washington in light of these anti-Semitic incidents, the mayor replied, “In a moment like this, everyone should speak up… The more condemnation, the better.” [Politico]  De Blasio and Cuomo United Amid Wave of Anti-Semitic Threats [NYTimes

ON THE HILL — All 100 Senators have signed a letter urging the Trump Administration to take action in response to the rash of anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCC’s), Jewish Day Schools, synagogues and Jewish institutions. In a bipartisan letter directed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey, the senators stressed the importance of these centers within their communities, and offers suggestions for deterring the threats of violence.

Two Democratic Senators spoke out yesterday against David Friedman’s nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Israel ahead of Thursday’s confirmation vote. “At this moment, I do not intend to support his nomination.” Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told JI’s Aaron Magid. “His record clearly indicates that he is not in the bipartisan tradition of seeking out the two state solution. He is much more an advocate for some kind of one state solution. I think his views are so far out of the bipartisan mainstream.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) shared a similar viewpoint with Jewish Insider. “I’m deeply concerned about his nomination. His past comments have been pretty incendiary, and I don’t think he would help with any type of movement towards reconciliation and a two state solution,” she noted. [JewishInsider

“Israeli ambassador hopeful spurns J Street” by Burgess Everett: “In a letter to Friedman, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that Friedman must meet with him before he is confirmed to prove that he willing to engage with advocacy groups that disagree with his brand of conservative politics… “We understand that during this process you have committed to senators that you are willing to meet with with pro-Israel organizations whose views you do not share, and with J Street specifically,” Ben Ami wrote this week in a letter obtained by POLITICO… “Accordingly, I am requesting a meeting with you to take place before the final vote on your confirmation.”” [Politico] • In Letter to Top Senator, WJC Head Lauder Defends Trump’s Pick to Serve as Next US Envoy to Israel, Blasts Criticism as ‘Beyond Outrageous’ [Algemeiner

TRUMP TEAM: President Trump announced yesterday the nomination of Jeffrey A. Rosen as Deputy Secretary for Department of Transportation. Rosen, a senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP,  was General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Management and Budget from 2006 through 2009, and from 2003 through 2006, he served as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation.

Tevi Troy tells us: “Rosen is a great pick to be Secretary Chao’s deputy at the Department of Transportation. He is a smart and strategic policy maker. He knows the Department well from his previous sojourn there, but also has high-level OMB experience, which will be essential in his new role. As I know from long conversations and work with him, Jeff has given a lot of thought to the regulatory state and how to best reform it to the benefit of all Americans. He will have a lot of opportunities to work on this in the new position. The only bad thing I can say about Jeff is that he’s a Red Sox fan, but I try not to hold it against him.”

“The Trump loyalist roiling network green rooms” by Annie Karni: “On all three cable news networks, according to more than half a dozen interviews with TV insiders and contributors, [Boris] Epshteyn has earned a reputation as someone who is combative and sometimes difficult to work with, even when he arrives at studios as a guest of a network. He has offended people in green rooms with comments they have interpreted as racially insensitive and demeaning… Despite his critics, Epshteyn’s political profile has quickly risen, thanks to his early allegiance to the president… And in Trump’s world, loyalty and ubiquity on television count for a lot. “He goes on TV and he defends Donald Trump,” said one former campaign aide. “That carries a lot of weight.”” [Politico

“The Adult in the Room” by Michael Warren: “[Gary] Cohn is also uniquely positioned to have influence with Trump because of his closeness to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and another senior adviser… Cohn likely isn’t at the White House for his political views, or even for his policy recommendations. As his Goldman Sachs associate says, “He’s a take-charge guy, but in a crisis moment, he’s also the calmest one in the room.” For an administration that’s bound to face a lot of crises—as indeed it already has—Cohn may be a real asset.” [TWS]  

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Why some airlines remove Israel from their online route maps [TheEconomist] • Apollo Seeks $20 Billion by May for New Buyout Fund [Bloomberg]  Barry Sternlicht: Trump was a hot topic at my dinner with Goldman’s Blankfein and other bigwigs [CNBC] • Will Ivanka Trump’s Brand Be Even Bigger Without Ivanka? (It’s Complicated) [Refinery29; CNN] • Jersey City fighting $2.7M court award over Journal Square property [JerseyJournal] • David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone Group has struck a deal with Noah Tepperberg’s Tao Group that brings the nightlife brand on board to host the restaurants and bars at the upcoming Marriott Moxy Hotel [RealDeal; NYPost]

SPOTLIGHT: “Questions About Loyalty to Trump Stall Mnuchin’s Treasury Picks” by Robert Schmidt and Saleha Mohsin: “As Mnuchin waited for the Senate to act on his own nomination, he spent much of his time interviewing people for his team. Others who sat in on the interviews were Eli Miller and Shannon McGahn, both of whom now work at the Treasury in non-Senate confirmed jobs. Miller, who worked on Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign before joining Trump, is Mnuchin’s chief of staff.” [Bloomberg]

“’Javanka’ Is the Perfect Celebrity Nickname for Our Strange Era” by Benjamin Freed: “Javanka goes out to dinner and becomes fodder for gossip mongers. Javanka also works in the White House, wielding considerable power not just over foreign and domestic affairs, but over the behavior of a short-tempered, paranoid, conspiracy-prone President who may one day dismiss or demote all his other aides. But he will never abandon Javanka. Better to use the name sparingly, but always with its potency in mind.” [Washingtonian]

“Disowning Ivanka: The Art World Stares Down the First Daughter” by Nate Freeman: “Hours after Clinton conceded on the night of November 8, the gathering that would come to form the core of Halt Action Group—[Alison] Gingeras and [Alissa] Bennett as well as artist Jonathan Horowitz, psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster, and curator Ariella Wolens—met for a hush-hush meeting at an art space in lower Manhattan to discuss how the art world should fight back during the age of Trump. They fixated quickly on Ivanka. “The most urgent thing was to get organized and not allow for a normalization of the Trump administration,” Gingeras said later, with the group’s formative Instagram action already implemented. “And that was before he named any administration picks. It didn’t make sense to continue angry marches… The Dear Ivanka conceit came out of these conversations.”” [ArtNews]

“German Foundation to Help Jewish Heirs in Search for Nazi Looted Art” by Colin Moynihan: “The project, called the Mosse Art Research Initiative, will be partly funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, which was formed in 2015 by the federal and state governments in Germany to find and identify cultural artifacts seized by the Nazi regime. Officials at the Lost Art Foundation said that this was the first time they had financed an initiative to track down a set of works that had belonged to a particular family… The Mosse Art Restitution Project, which was created by the Mosse heirs several years ago to search for the art, will share in financing the new partnership, and 11 museums and archives in Germany have agreed to cooperate.” [NYTimes

“Joan Rivers’s Bone China Seder Plate Is Being Auctioned. You Know You Want It!” by Rachel Shukert: “According to the New York Times, it has been acquired by Jonathan Greenstein, the operator of the premier (and self-proclaimed only) auction house in the United States dealing exclusively with the appraisal and sale of antique Judaica. The item will go on the block April 24, six days after the end of Passover this year, but who’s counting? The bone China plate itself is blue and white Spode, very nice and unchipped, and dating back to the 1980’s… Greenstein said, “This one is worth about $5000 because it belonged to her.”” [Tablet]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Gloria Steinem is inaugural speaker at Senesh School series” by Paula Katinas: “With the support of philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, Senesh is launching the speaker series to highlight the connection between timeless Jewish values and modern professional accomplishments… Steinem’s lifetime of campaigning for gender equality and human rights epitomizes the connection between Jewish values and accomplishments, according to a statement issued by officials at Senesh. The new series, called Conversations@Senesh, will feature leaders from all areas of public life whose careers embody the school’s values.” [BrooklynEagle]

“Mark Zuckerberg Named 2017 Commencement Speaker” by Leah Yared: “Zuckerberg, who is 32, is the youngest Commencement speaker selected in recent history. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg implored graduates to follow their “intuition” at last year’s ceremony… But Zuckerberg is neither the first Harvard dropout nor first tech billionaire to speak at Harvard’s graduation exercises: Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, spoke at Commencement in 2007.” [TheCrimson]

MEDIA WATCH: “Trump Grants Oval Office Meeting to TMZ Founder” by Michael Grynbaum: “Mr. Trump, in a meeting last Wednesday that went unmentioned on his public schedule, spent about an hour in the Oval Office chatting with Harvey Levin, the tabloid emperor… The TMZ chieftain interviewed Mr. Trump for a Fox News special, “Objectified: Donald Trump,” that aired last fall. Mr. Levin, according to two people with direct knowledge of the visit, broached the possibility of Mr. Trump sitting for another interview.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — Israel advances to 2nd round of World Baseball Classic:“The Netherlands’ 6-5 defeat of Taiwan means Israel’s baseball team qualiies for Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo on Sunday. Team Israel will face The Netherlands tomorrow to determine group placement in Pool A.” [ToI; ESPN] • Sam Fuld In Familiar Role with Team Israel [FanSided]

DESSERT: “7th Annual Houston Kosher Chili Cookoff” by Liz Lopez: “34 local organizations and businesses participated in the competition with unique kosher chili recipes to benefit the seven local Jewish Day Schools and the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center’s Meals on Wheels Program. The Houston Jewish community enjoyed live music from local bands, The Danny Gavin Band and Houston’s Young Kletzmer Band, an obstacle course, balloon artists and face painting while getting to sample some of Houston’s best kosher chili.” [Houstonia

BIRTHDAYS: Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain (1991-2013), member of the House of Lords, philosopher, scholar and winner of the 2016 Templeton Prize, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks turns 69… Former Governor of Virginia (1994-1998) and US Senator (2001-2007), whose mother was from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia, George Allen turns 65… Jazz pianist, composer, organist, arranger and music director, Dick Hyman turns 90… Democratic US Representative for California’s 47th congressional district since 2013, Alan Lowenthal turns 76… British television executive and businessman, chairman of the BBC (2004-2006), member of the House of Lords, Michael Grade (family name Winogradsky) turns 74… Graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, attorney at Seyfarth Shaw and now the ‘Judaism and Science’ blogger, Roger Price turns 73… Lyricist, singer, songwriter, painter and philanthropist, Carole Bayer Sager turns 70… Founder and CEO of 32 Advisors, LLC (advising on infrastructure) and chairman and co-founder of Measure (practical uses of drones), previously President of UBS Investment Bank, Robert Wolf turns 55… Vice chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, with a Ph.D. in Chinese politics from Stanford University, high-ranking State Department official (2001-2009), Evan A. Feigenbaum turns 48…

Albany Reporter for New York’s news channel NY1, covering state politics, including Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature, Zack Fink turns 44… Harvard Law grad, member of Congress since 2017 (D-NJ:5), former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, Joshua S. Gottheimer turns 42… DC-based labor and employment attorney at Bredhoff & Kaiser, clerked for Justice Brennan at the U.S. Supreme Court (1983-1984), Bruce R. Lerner… Licensed clinical psychologist and director of couple therapy training at the Chicago Center for Family Health, Dr. Mona Fishbane… Talent acquisition executive at Sageview Consulting, specializing in placements at Jewish federations and non-profits, Colorado Springs resident, Carin Maher… Senior Fellow on national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, Alan Makovsky… Manager of Public Policy at the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership of The Forbes Funds, previously press secretary at NJDC, David Streeter

Retired in 2016 after 28 years as the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester NY, Larry Fine… Program analyst at Mathematica Policy Research, Karen Katz… Research associate at The Israel Project, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Amanda Botfeld… Senior digital and marketing associate at Catalist (a voter data service for progressive organizations), Lauren Farber… Special assistant to the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Nathaniel Sobel… Brenda Krantz… Lexi Chavin… Jeff Sonderman… Alexis Rice

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Daily Kickoff: Trump Tower Baku’s ties with Iranian Revolutionary Guard | MK Glick’s 30 State Solution | Israel wins again at World Baseball Classic


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HEARD IN JERUSALEM: “Jeff Zucker on Donald Trump, Fake News, CNN’s ‘Golden Age’” by Debra Kamin: “Zucker, who is in Jerusalem this week for the media-centric INTV conference at the city’s historic YMCA, told attendees that Trump’s declarations of fake news and his labeling of journalists as “enemies of the people” has helped usher in a golden age for CNN… In a friendly hour-long back-and-forth, Zucker and [Channel 2 News anchor Yonit] Levi discussed CNN’s coverage of the election… and also — in an anecdote that drew laughter and gasps from the crowd — the true story of how Zucker himself played a critical role in launching the television career of the current leader of the Free World when, as president of NBC Universal, he ordered “The Apprentice” with Trump as host….”

“Mark Burnett brought [‘The Apprentice’] in as a package. It was pitched to us as ‘Survivor’ in a different jungle, the jungle of the boardroom,” Zucker said. “I had lived in New York for all my adult life but I was working in Los Angeles, and as a New Yorker I really understood the appeal of Donald Trump, in terms of his ability to create publicity, his ability to create a big commotion.” He jumped on the pitch. “So you are the man who made Donald Trump a television star?” asked Levi, to which Zucker simply said, “Well, I am the man who greenlit ‘The Apprentice.’” Zucker has always understood Trump’s appeal, he told the crowd, which is why CNN gave the real estate mogul-turned president so much coverage early on in the presidential campaign. “Once he decided to run, knowing him and knowing his charisma and his ability to attract attention, I think we understood earlier than most other news organizations that he should be taken seriously,” Zucker said.” [Variety; HollywoodReporter]

Zucker took the stage after a ‘blistering speech’ from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan about the international media’s biased reporting toward Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. According to Peter Lerner of the IDF Spokespersons Unit, Zucker said that there are always two sides of the conflict, but Israel is much more than the conflict. [JPost; Twitter]

Spotted at Yad Vashem‏: “Jeff Zucker President of CNN Worldwide in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names during his recent visit.” [Pic

HEARD IN DC: “Anti-Trump sentiment may turn against Israel, Ya’alon warns” by Eric Cortellessa: “I’m afraid of the fact that Israel is identified nowadays more with the Republicans,” [former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon] said Monday during a lecture at American University’s Center for Israel Studies. “Anti-Trump sentiments are becoming anti-Israel sentiments. This is my fear.” [ToI]

BUZZ FROM BERLIN: “Trump a new test for German-Israeli ‘special relationship'” by Noah Barkin: “The extent of the strains between Germany and Israel was underscored last month when Merkel canceled a summit with Netanyahu that was due to take place in Jerusalem in May… “Netanyahu does not listen to us and the situation may only get worse with Trump,” said one senior German official… In Israel, an official… argued that Berlin’s main gripe was with Trump. “Germany is really angry with Trump, but they can’t afford to express it or take him on directly because he’s too strong,” the official said.” [Reuters]

“Tillerson pushes back on White House’s proposed cuts to State Department and USAID” by Josh Rogin: “The memo says that Tillerson… “is deeply concerned about the timing and the size of the reductions… We intend to make the strongest argument possible in our appeal that the Department needs this additional funding to ensure the United States remains active, engaged and influential throughout the world and that any changes to our mission or way or doing business occur in the context of the National Security Strategy.” … The White House’s proposal would shift almost all foreign military financing grants to loans, except for the security assistance committed to Israel, the memo states.” [WashPost]

“Bipartisan Support Behind Campaign Urging Trump Not to Cut anti-Semitism Envoy” by Amir Tibon: “A draft of the bipartisan letter… states that: “[A]s Members of Congress who care deeply about anti-Semitism at home and abroad, we urge you to maintain and prioritize the appointment of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.”” [Haaretz

“Floridian Congressman Touts U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem, Tours Potential Sites” by Eylon Aslan-Levy: “According to Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida)—the chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security who led a two-day delegation to Israel over the weekend—President Trump is likely to announce in June that the U.S. Embassy in Israel will relocate to Jerusalem… The Congressman said the “most ready” location for relocating the embassy is the U.S. Consular Section in Talpiyot because it’s already “very well-guarded.” … Also under consideration are the Diplomat Hotel, inside that former no-man’s land, and “partial leased land” in Jerusalem, presumed to refer to an empty plot on Hebron Road. The congressional delegation is also considering using the U.S. Consulate in West Jerusalem, which serves as the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority.” [Tablet

Introducing Lahav Harkov, the new contributor to Kafe Knesset. Lahav is the Jerusalem Post’s parliamentary reporter, and will be joining Tal Shalev in giving JI readers a glimpse into what’s driving the conversation among Israeli political leaders each day.

KAFE KNESSET — Trump interrupted Israeli police questioning Bibi — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Trump provided Netanyahu with a pleasant respite by dialing him during the five-hour police interrogation at Bibi’s residence last night. Bibi’s aides said it was a surprise call from the White House and that the main focus was Iran. Meanwhile, during the probe, Netanyahu was reportedly confronted with new and surprising information gathered from Arnon Milchan in recent days. According to sources close to the investigation, Milchan’s most recent testimony was dramatic and substantial. The police are still trying to reach Aussie billionaire James Packer, who, according to a new Ha’aretz exposé funded 25% of the alleged gifts from Milchan to the Netanyahu family. To date, the authorities have not been able to interview Packer.

According to other press reports, the police are hoping to question Sheldon Adelson, as well. Meanwhile, Yair Lapid is not waiting for the investigation to be concluded and Lapid is already preparing for the the next election. Lapid convened a special press conference today during which he introduced seven new members of his party – mayors from around the country. Lapid has invested a lot of effort in rallying support outside of the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem metropolitan areas and the local leaders – previously aligned with the Likud and Labor – pledged their support for Lapid, who explained the timing of the announcement with a clear-cut statement that “we are in election-year mode.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Israel’s opposition: A camp with a backpack” by Shmuel Rosner: “Labor is not just a party, it used to be a representative of a certain political camp. It used to be the main vehicle of political identity for Israel’s left of center. Its uncertain future is testimony to the fact that Israel’s left-of-center camp is not just having problems winning elections, it is having problems deciding what it is, what ideology it wants to pursue, what party can represent it, what type of leadership it needs. Israel’s left of center is drifting, its voters moving like nomads from one party to the other. They used to have a home: The Labor Party. They now have a backpack. Constantly on the move in search of a political miracle.” [JewishJournal]

INTERVIEW – Member of Knesset Yehuda Glick (Likud) spoke to JI’s Jacob Kornbluh at the Knesset yesterday about the possible relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: “It can be done gradually. I don’t think that it should be done at once. Today, there is a Consulate in West Jerusalem. You don’t have to move the embassy there in one day. But for instance, why don’t you have the Ambassador come there once a month? The Jerusalem Consulate, currently, doesn’t work through Tel Aviv. They work through Amman (Jordan). They don’t have any connections. They can’t even send a fax from the Jerusalem office to the Tel Aviv office. The first thing should be done is to make contact between the two since they represent the same country. There should be an office at the Jerusalem Consulate where the ambassador comes and sits there once a month.”

“Instead of Trump issuing a waiver on June 1st like they have been doing automatically every six months, let him waive the Jerusalem Embassy Act but say that the U.S. has begun the process of relocating the embassy. Say that it’s happening. There’s no way he’s giving up his promise. I am not here to tell Trump what to do, and I am not going to sit with him with a timer and say, ‘Come on, you promised. Let’s go.’ You know, we have to remember, he doesn’t take orders from me and not from Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Glick’s 30-states solution as an alternative to the two-state solution: “You implement Israeli sovereignty all over Judea and Samaria and you give the Palestinians all human rights, full political rights, and you do it in a smart way that prevents them from becoming a majority. I believe that the whole Israeli system should change to a federal system. Just like you have 50 states in America, Israel should have 30 states – 20 of them Jewish and 10 of them non-Jewish (1 Beduin, 1 Druze, 3 Arab Israelis and 5 Palestinian Israelis) – and each regional state should be able to develop its uniqueness on its own. The Palestinians will be able to have their own state and together they will be part of Israel’s federal government. That way we preserve the Jewish majority and you give them to live their own life, just like New York, Texas and Utah.”

HAPPENING TODAY ON THE HILL — The Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing this morning to discuss the nomination of Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General. After Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation of the Trump Administration’s alleged ties with Russia, Rosenstein would play a central role in the proceedings, if confirmed. The session is expected to be tense as Democrats will question the U.S. Attorney from Maryland over whether he would support appointing a special prosecutor to examine Moscow’s involvement. “I will use every tool available to block this nomination if Rod Rosenstein fails to commit to appoint a special prosecutor,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Maryland Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen will introduce the Deputy Attorney General nominee. GOP Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will chair the session and he is expected to express reservations about the necessity of a special prosecutor. [CSPAN]

“Senators decry ‘accelerating’ anti-Semitic threats in bipartisan plea” by Elana Schor: “At least 97 senators will align Tuesday morning in a rare moment of bipartisanship to ask that the Trump administration offer help to Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions facing a sharp rise in security threats this year… The senators not yet signing onto the letter — spearheaded by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — as of yet were Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).” [Politico] • Update: Sen. Paul (R-KY) has now signed on, bringing it to 98 senators [Twitter]

“David Friedman unfit to be ambassador to Israel” by Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “Friedman’s positions are so extreme that he tried to walk them back at his confirmation hearing. However, pandering for votes doesn’t negate a lifetime of radical views. If confirmed, I seriously doubt he would push for a two-state solution after so forcefully denouncing it in the past… Even more frightening, I feel his confirmation would only fan the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [SFChronicle

TAYLOR FORCE ACT: “Palestinian Authority must stop rewarding acts of terrorism” by Amos Yadlin and Moshe Yaalon: “Israel should not refrain from acting against these policies [of PA payments to terrorists and their families] simply because doing so entails risks. Firstly, a failure to respond to PA support for terrorists due to fear of institutional collapse sends the message that Israel seeks to keep the PA alive at any cost… If the PA were to collapse in response to Israeli pressure, which is far from certain, the consequences would be significant though manageable. President Donald Trump, who has expressed disdain for foreign aid, disgust at Islamic terrorism and staunch support of Israel will likely come out in favor of cutting off US taxpayer support to the PA.” [JPost]

“It’s a date: South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham to lunch with President Trump on Tuesday” by Emma Dumain: “This likely marks the very first time Graham and Trump have sat down together, for any length of time, face to face. It will be just the two of them… On Monday, Graham spoke favorably of the revised White House executive order banning travel to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.” [PostandCourier] 

“All Trump has to do is sound presidential to get everything he wants. Instead, he logs on to Twitter” by Jonah Goldberg: “And since Trump’s most loyal fans will celebrate anything he does, there’s no need to pander to them with the greatest hits anymore. In short, there is no downside and all manner of upside for Trump to play the part of a somewhat sober, serious, responsible president — even one with an ambitious populist-outsider agenda. Naturally, Trump opted for Plan B. Step 1: Destroy all hope on Twitter.” [LATimes]

LongRead: “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal” by Adam Davidson: “The Azerbaijanis behind the (Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku) project were close relatives of Ziya Mammadov, the Transportation Minister and one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs… Ivanka Trump was the most senior Trump Organization official on the Baku project. In October, 2014, she visited the city to tour the site and offer advice… The Mammadov family… has been financially entangled with an Iranian family tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps… In 2008, the year that the tower was announced, Ziya Mammadov, in his role as Transportation Minister, awarded a series of multimillion-dollar contracts to Azarpassillo, an Iranian construction company… The available evidence strongly suggests that Ziya Mammadov conspired with an agent of the Revolutionary Guard to make overpriced deals that would enrich them both while allowing them to flout prohibitions against money laundering and to circumvent sanctions against Iran… The Baku deal appears to be the second time that the Trump Organization has turned a blind eye to U.S. efforts to sanction Iran.” [NewYorker

“Iran Nuclear Deal Could Be Gateway for Terrorism Legal Claims” by Charlie Savage: “Over the last two decades, since Congress carved out a terrorism case exception to the general rule that people cannot use American courts to sue foreign governments, victims of attacks have racked up more than $50 billion in default judgments against Iran… In the first case of its kind, a group of attack victims — including estates of people who were killed — who won one of the default judgments against Iran has gone to a European court to try to enforce it. A judge in Luxembourg has quietly put a freeze on $1.6 billion in assets belonging to Iran’s central bank, according to people familiar with the case.” [NYTimes] • Iran launched 2 ballistic missiles, US officials say [FoxNews

TALK OF THE TOWN: “N.Y. pols push increased penalties for cemetery vandals amid rise in anti-Semitic incidents” by Edgar Sandoval and Reuven Blau: ““There has been a rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes in our country,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney told reporters gathered inside her Upper East Side office… Maloney said she’s considering expanding the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, which protects foreign cemeteries, into U.S. territory… Maloney also wants to expand anti-Semitism prevention programs and penalties for desecrators.” [NYDailyNews

“De Blasio to visit Staten Island JCC Tuesday after bomb threats” by Anna Sanders: “De Blasio and Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill will both go to the Manor Road JCC for a “private meeting” and “VIP town hall” to discuss anti-Semitic crimes in the city… The Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island arranged the 10:30 a.m. event.” [SILive

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Raiders’ Las Vegas stadium effort to be backed by Bank of America: The Raiders had been seeking a new partner for the proposed $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium after casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew a $650 million pledge last month [10News] • Isaac Chetrit sues would-be buyer of Garment District office building for allegedly backing out [TRD

MEDIA WATCH: “‘Notoriously difficult’: Inside the unraveling of the Thrillist-JackThreads marriage of content and commerce” by Lucia Moses: “Few media executives have been more enthusiastic about the idea of melding content and commerce than Thrillist Media Group founder and publishing scion Ben Lerer… Back in 2010, Thrillist bought flash-sale site JackThreads for a skimpy $10 million, and Lerer gushed that it was a “win-win,” a “spectacular” company with “lots of potential.” But ultimately, Thrillist had to concede what Refinery29 did earlier, in 2013: that the e-commerce business is a low-margin grind, and content and commerce were hard to mix organizationally. In 2015, Thrillist spun off JackThreads into a standalone business.” [Digiday]

“Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks & Meryl Streep Team For Pentagon Papers Drama ‘The Post’” by Mike Fleming Jr: “A timely film about the vital role of the press in keeping government honest is coming together with a powerhouse cast. Steven Spielberg just said yes to direct Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in The Post… The film is a drama about the Washington Post’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and how the Post’s editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Kay Graham challenged the federal government over their right to publish them.” [Deadline]

“Stony-faced Ivanka talks on her cell phone as she is driven out of her D.C. home in a chauffeured SUV while cheery Jared sets off for another day at the White House after weekend at Mar-a-Lago” by Jennifer Smith: “Ivanka Trump failed to raise a smile as she was driven out of her Washington D.C. home on Monday after a weekend with her family in Palm Beach. The First Daughter wore a steely expression as she chatted on her phone in the backseat of a chauffeured SUV. Earlier, her cheerier husband Jared Kushner emerged from the house ready for another day at work.” [DailyMail

“Twitter suspends former KKK leader’s account” by Kyle Feldscher: “David Duke’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended on Monday, according to the social media site. Duke’s Twitter page was inaccessible Monday afternoon during the suspension, the reason for which was not immediately clear.” [DCExaminer

SPORTS BLINK — Israel wins at World Baseball Classic again: “Ryan Lavarnway hit a two-run homer in the third inning and Nate Freiman added a three-run shot in the ninth to help Israel beat Taiwan 15-7 Tuesday and improve to 2-0 in the World Baseball Classic. After beating Pool A host South Korea and Taiwan in its first two games, Israel would clinch a spot in the second round with a win over the Netherlands on Wednesday.” [USAToday]

“NYC’s Kosher Le Marais Steakhouse—What’s Not to Like?” by John Mariani: “After saying that Le Marais is a kosher steakhouse and noting that it serves no dairy products or shellfish and must close on Friday evenings and Saturdays, I have said all I need to about its differences from a non-kosher steakhouse. And that was the guiding principle when a non-Jewish Portuguese named José Meirelles took the advice of his lawyers to open a kosher steakhouse (he was already partner at the non-kosher Les Halles bistro). After first sourcing some of the finest beef available, Meirelles went out and hired an Irish-American chef named Mark Hennessey.” [HuffPost

BIRTHDAYS: Nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Times since 1984, author and social observer, Suzanne Bregman Fields, Ph.D. turns 81… Biologist, president of the California Institute of Technology (1997-2006) and 1975 Nobel laureate in Medicine, David Baltimore turns 79… Bureau chief for the AP in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo, president of the National Press Club in 2014, since 2005 a journalism educator at George Washington University, Myron Belkind turns 77… Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 – 2005, Michael Eisner turns 75… Retired media executive who was a member of the first co-ed class at Yale University in 1969, Ruth Barbara Jarmul turns 68… Vice-Chairman and general trust counsel of Fiduciary Trust International, Gail Ehrlich Cohen turns 61… Academy Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz turns 47… Brooklyn-based political consultant and attorney focused on media relations, formerly director of intergovernmental affairs for Senator Schumer, Michael Tobman turns 44…

Award-winning freelance journalist, author and adjunct professor at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, Anne Farris Rosen… Senior publicist in the media relations group at MSNBC, Rachel Zuckerman… Assistant News Director for DC’s NBC4 News, adjunct professor of journalism at American U, Matt Glassman… Staff writer for U.S. News & World Report covering law enforcement, criminal justice, STEM and healthcare, Alan Neuhauser… Democratic political strategist, SVP at TruBlu Politics, Lewis H. Cohen (h/ts Playbook)… Jake Hirth… Sasha Ahuva Farahi… Yaakov Spira

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]


Kafe Knesset for Feb. 23

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Netanyahu adds another stop to his busy itinerary — Far away from the troubling reality of criminal probes and political hazards, Netanyahu appears to be enjoying the Grand…

Dr. Ben Chouake with Senator Menendez - courtesy of NORPAC

NORPAC’s Chouake: Calling Menendez Anti-Semitic is ‘Horrible’

Thursday, February 23, 2017

WASHINGTON – Caroline Glick penned an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post on February 20 blasting Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) for his questioning during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee…

Bipartisan Congressional Letter Calls for Swift Action on JCC Bomb Threats

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – 150 Democratic and Republican Members of Congress signed a letter on Wednesday urging the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to take swift action against the…

Screenshot via YouTube

Graham to Introduce Bill Cutting Palestinian Aid

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – The office of Senator Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday that the South Carolina Republican lawmaker would introduce legislation next week to cut off US assistance to…


Kafe Knesset for Feb. 21

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On the sidelines of the Conference of Presidents’ meeting in Jerusalem, Malcolm Hoenlein told Kafe Knesset he plans to initiate a high level world leader summit to combat…

Screenshot via Channel 10 News

WH Aide: Trump’s Holocaust Statement ‘Beautifully’ Honored Jewish Victims

Monday, February 20, 2017

White House aide Boris Epshteyn on Monday defended Trump’s Holocaust statement last month which was subject to criticism by American Jewish organizations and political groups for refusing to…