Apr
6

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Daily Kickoff: Jewish leaders meet Egypt’s Sisi over breakfast | Day in the life of sports agent Jeff Schwartz | Hilton passes on Prime Grill Passover

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THE ULTIMATE PIVOT? “Trump and his ‘America First’ philosophy face first moral quandary in Syria” by Greg Jaffe: “Trump, during his Rose Garden appearance, was clearly feeling the weight of both of those foreign policy crises… The Syrian chemical weapons attack seemed to awaken Trump’s sense of moral responsibility as leader of the world’s sole remaining superpower. A president who has often seemed indifferent to suffering in faraway countries — including the plight of Syrian refugees — reacted with a natural revulsion. Less clear was whether that revulsion would produce a significant shift in policy.” [WashPost]

KAFE KNESSET — Driving the conversation in Israel: Syria — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Dozens of Israeli politicians have issued strong emotional statements in recent days, citing the Jewish duty to save endangered people… There is an existing official government plan to absorb 100 orphans from embattled Syria but the plan has been stalled on Netanyahu’s desk for weeks… “Netanyahu cannot be the first Israeli PM to turn his back on such a disaster happening behind our fence instead of following Menachem Begin’s footsteps who gave shelter to Vietnamese families 30 years ago,” Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias Verbin told Kafe Knesset.

Crickets from the Joint List: Often, Joint (Arab) List MKs stir up controversy with the things they say, but today the storm is over what they’re not saying: Most of them will not outright condemn Assad. MK Ahmed Tibi was one of the first Israeli politicians to speak out against the gas attack and his condemnation was unequivocal… But others have had surprisingly little to say on the subject, and when they do say something, it’s usually that Israel is just as bad or worse than Assad. MK Haneen Zoabi, for example, said that Israelis are war criminals, and that if Assad tried to fight for the Golan, Israel would probably gas Syrians. In the Knesset yesterday, in a recess session, Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said that he is pained by all children who are killed, whether in Syria or in Gaza. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

SPOTTED YESTERDAY AT THE FOUR SEASONS — A group of Jewish and pro-Israel leaders met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over breakfast in DC to discuss the Middle East. The conversation was off the record and participants’ cell phones were taken away prior to the meeting. Spotted: Rudy Giuliani (who had a private four-eyed sit-down with Sisi prior to breakfast), Dennis Ross, Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein, AIPAC’s Lillian Pinkus and Jeff Snyder, JINSA’s Michael Makovsky, Dov Zakheim, CFR’s Richard Hass, Walid Phares, Brooking’s Martin Indyk, AJC’s Jason Isaacson, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, WINEP’s Rob Satloff, Center for Security Policy’s Fred Fleitz, lobbyist Ezra Friedlander, J Street’s Dylan Williams, and AJC’s Harriet Schleifer.

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION – Why Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council — by Shane Goldmacher: “In recent weeks, Jared Kushner… has asked searching questions – sometimes for hours – of inside and outside advisers about the White House’s  performance and complained about Bannon in particular… Kushner has told people that Bannon’s desire to deconstruct the government, is hurting the president. One person familiar with Kushner’s thinking says Kushner believes Bannon is more of a problem than Reince Priebus, the chief of staff.” [Politico

“Bannon’s Role Is Diminished as Other Advisers Blame Him for Setbacks” by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “White House officials said, the ideologist who enjoyed the president’s confidence became increasingly embattled as other advisers, including Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, complained about setbacks on health care and immigration… The shift was orchestrated by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster… Mr. Bannon resisted the move, even threatening at one point to quit if it went forward… Mr. Bannon has also been at odds with Gary Cohn, the president’s national economics adviser. Mr. Cohn is close with Mr. Kushner, who has said privately that he fears that Mr. Bannon plays to the president’s worst impulses.” [NYTimes• Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, a longtime Bannon confidante who became a prominent Trump supporter during the campaign, urged Bannon not to resign [Politico]

Dov Zakheim, one of the over 50 top Republican national security officials who signed the anti-Trump letter in 2016, tells us: “I think this is the hand of McMaster. He has put together a very capable National Security Council staff, and I think that without confronting Bannon directly, he’s raised the level of the national security discussion that is just beyond Bannon. It’s also Trump’s recognition that when it comes to national security you are dealing in a very different world than domestic issues and for that, you really do need the experts and he’s got them. He’s got McMaster, Mattis, and Tillerson, and I think that he’s discovering that you don’t use amateurs – he’s already got Jared Kushner running around doing all kinds of things. I think Trump is starting to look much more – on national security matters – like a conventional American president.”

LATE NIGHT: “Trevor Noah Thinks Jared Kushner Is the Real President . . . for Now” by Laura Bradley: “Trump’s son-in-law has a lot on his plate right now. He’s got to broker peace in the Middle East, serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with the region, as well as with Canada, Mexico, and China. He’ll also be reforming care for veterans, solving the opioid epidemic, and modernizing technology and data usage across the entire federal government. That’s a lot to handle for a guy with no previous governmental experience. As Noah put it, “Trump is giving Jared Kushner so much to do—and here you were, bitching about your father-in-law asking you to set up the Wi-Fi.” [VanityFair; NYMag]

‘BELIEVE ME’: Trump met with King Abdullah of Jordan yesterday and discussed – among other topics – how to advance the Israeli-Palestinians peace process. “I’m working very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between the Palestinians and Israel, and I think we’ll be successful,” Trump said during a joint press conference in the Rose Garden. “I think we’ll be successful. I hope we’ll be successful, I can tell you that.” Trump called Abdullah a “tireless advocate” for a peace settlement “and he’s going to help me with that and help me at the highest level. And we will be consulting with him closely in the days ahead.”

Later on, Trump sounded less optimistic about the likelihood of success in resolving the decades-long conflict. “I have to just say, the world is a mess. I inherited a mess. Whether it’s the Middle East, whether it’s North Korea… I inherited a mess. We’re going to fix it.”

King Abdullah, responding to questions directed at him about the matter, asserted that President Trump understands that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is the core conflict” in the Mideast region. “The president’s early engagement in bringing the Palestinians and Israelis together has been a very encouraging sign for all of us,” Abdullah said. “The President understands the nuances and the challenges. I think he has the courage and the dedication to be able to do this… And the President understands that if we don’t solve this problem, how are we going to win the global fight against terrorism, which is his number-one priority? So this is a core issue that he understands, and I think he has the commitment and he has my full support for this, as he does from many, many countries in our region.”

Trump on the Iran deal: “I will do whatever I have to do. They have a deal. It was, some people say, not done properly even in the form of its finalization. There was no vote from Congress. There was no real ratification. But I will do whatever I have to do with respect to the Iran deal.” [YouTube

CFR’s Robert Danin on CNN: “Up until now, he has continued to criticize the Iran nuclear deal, but he has yet to come up with an alternative policy. He stood up with Prime Minister Netanyahu and even then did not say anything about the deal. The focus of the administration since coming to power has been on challenging Iran per se, but not on undoing the deal. And even today he gave no indication of what that might be. I don’t see any reason to believe that it’s (ripping up the deal) going to happen.”

John Podhoretz‏: “Trump today: Changed his mind on Syria; will kill off ISIS; trashes Iran. At 3 pm he’s going to sign that never-Trump foreign policy letter.” [Twitter

ON THE HILL — House Members Dispute Abdullah’s Assertion Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ‘Core’ Regional Issue — by JI’s Aaron Magid: “I have a hard time seeing that. When you talk about some Islamic terrorists like ISIS, they could care less,” Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX) told Jewish Insider. “They want to wipe Israel off the map, of course, just because the Palestinians worked it out with the Israelis doesn’t mean that ISIS is going to give up and go home.” Added Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), “Iran has sort of taken over the rest of the region… The Palestinian issue needs to be resolved for sure but I don’t think it is the most volatile right now.” Rep. James McNerney (D-CA) told Jewish Insider, “Obviously there are bigger issues too: the Shia and the Sunni divide and the de-stabilization of the area by ISIS. Ranking it as the top issue, no. Clearly, in my opinion it is not.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), however, agreed with King Abdullah, saying that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “core and fundamental” while adding that resolving the decades-long dispute is “essential for peace in the Middle East.” [JewishInsider

“Trump’s Push for Mideast Deal Perplexes Israeli Right” by Yaroslav Trofimov: “There is nothing more sustainable than the current situation that has already existed for 50 years and that is getting better all the time,” said retired Brig. Gen. Effie Eitam, Israel’s former minister of national infrastructure and housing who now runs a private intelligence company in Jerusalem. That’s why Mr. Trump’s ambition to resolve the intractable dispute—a solution that would likely require Israel to accept Palestinian statehood and give up most of the territory it has occupied since 1967—has confounded Israel’s right-wing coalition just months after it celebrated the U.S. election as divine deliverance from international pressure.” [WSJ]

“U.S. Envoy Pushes Israel, Arab States for Economic Aid to Gaza Ahead of Talks” by Barak Ravid and Amir Tibon: “[Jason] Greenblatt raised the conditions in Gaza during his first meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem last month, and once again three weeks ago when a delegation of Netanyahu’s senior advisers visited the White House. Last week Greenblatt met in Washington with Deputy Minister Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the U.S. who is responsible for coordinating Gaza reconstruction efforts with the international community on Netanyahu’s behalf. Prior to that, Greenblatt brought up Gaza’s plight in his meetings with a number of Arab foreign ministers at the Arab League summit in Jordan.” [Haaretz]  

HEARD YESTERDAY in NYC — IDF Brigadier General (Res.) Michael Herzog said during a panel on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with Jibril Rajoub, Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, that one of the reasons the 2016 regional peace initiative fell apart was because the Obama administration didn’t want to be part of it. “I think they did not believe that this would yield results. To my knowledge, both sides – the Israelis and Palestinians – did not trust the [Obama] Administration to be the leading part of that initiative.” The event was hosted by the Israel Policy Forum and moderated by Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Rajoub, after expressing regret at some of his past statements and promising to be more cautious in the future, said the Palestinians need to “seize this opportunity” with the Trump Administration to renew peace talks. Asked if the Palestinians would agree to enter into negotiations without a full settlement freeze, Rajoub told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh, “The settlements, believe me, brother, its existence is a threat to the state of Israel. We are talking about two states – with two territories. Why expand it? Listen, I think it’s the time to freeze all settlement activities. Believe me, it’s a benefit to the Israelis like it’s a benefit to the Palestinians.”

Herzog: “I think the Palestinians will demand a freeze. I believe that if the Trump Administration pushes them to enter negotiations even with Israel just restraining settlement activity, I don’t think they have an alternative. I do think Trump has leverage over them. You don’t want to mess with him. And since he prioritizes the peace process and wants a deal, he has leverage on them. They will have to do with some kind of restraint, and if he pressed them they will follow.”

2018 WATCH: “George Soros, Jane Fonda, Norman Lear help Dem Andrew Gillum governor bid” by George Bennett: “Billionaire George Soros gave $100,000 last week to [Tallahasee Mayor Andrew] Gillum’s Forward Florida committee and son Alex Soros chipped in another $50,000. TV producer and People For The American Way founder Norman Lear gave $50,000 to the committee and actress Jane Fonda contributed $7,000.” [PalmBeachPost]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Edgar Bronfman Jr., Len Blavatnik and Ynon Kreiz haven’t ruled out another Time Inc. bid [NYPost] • BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith: Trump has ‘breathed new life’ into media [CNN] • Construction resumes on NJ American Dream mall megaproject [ConstructionDive] • Lakewood rabbi: Yeshiva shopping center plan on hold [APP] • Inside Aerin Lauder’s Family Home in Palm Beach [ArchitecturalDigest] • Michael Bloomberg the biggest charity donor in New York… also on the list: billionaire hedge funder Steven A. Cohen, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, Sanford and Joan Weill, and Ronald Perelman [NYPost]

“At 93, Henry Kissinger is still doing deals and courting controversy in China” by Heather Timmons: “Kissinger’s alliance with the Trump administration isn’t unexpected, since he’s made overtures to successive US administrations to act as a bridge-builder with China. Hillary Clinton relied on his counsel as secretary of state and said she considers him a “friend,” which drew outrage from the left. His presence has been a hard one to dismiss for many presidents, including former president George W. Bush, who controversially put him in charge of the 9/11 commission, a post he soon resigned from… Kissinger’s 600-page 2011 book “On China” is a bible for foreign businessmen and diplomats trying to work out political and trade deals in China, and it reads like the antithesis of the Trump administration’s approach to China so far, and a clue, perhaps, to Xi’s stance.” [Quartz]  

PROFILE: “A Day In the Life of Sports Agent Jeff Schwartz” by Andrew Beaton: “Jeff Schwartz doesn’t recognize himself in Hollywood’s classic portrayal of sports agents—the ones who scream into their phones or race between endless parties. Still, he understands why others would: Schwartz, 53, represents the biggest arsenal of National Basketball Association superstars in the world. And his New York–based firm, Excel Sports Management, which also works with athletes in baseball, football and golf, boasts a roster of recognizable talents including Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter. But Schwartz’s unfussy Midtown office, which features minimal memorabilia from his impressive career, illustrates his more restrained approach, giving hardly any clue to the influence he wields in the industry. He acknowledges, though, that there’s no way to avoid the frenetic nature of his profession. “If you want a set schedule, don’t get into sports,” he says. “If you want to do well, you have to live this job.”” [WSJ]

PASSED OVER: “Group accuses Hilton of ruining Passover plans” by Ian Mohr: “Organizers of a Passover getaway for 700 New Yorkers say they feel passed over after a California hotel allegedly canceled their stay despite a $1 million deposit. Joseph Allaham, of kosher steakhouse Prime Grill, has organized Passover trips under his Prime Experience brand since 2014. This year, his lawyer Mark J. Heller claims, Allaham booked a 10-day event at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines in San Diego back in November, but “the Hilton organization refuses to honor their commitment to host this event or to return the proceeds they received as an advance.” He says one family paid $230,000 to bring all their kin on the April trip meant to include guest speakers, rabbis, a kids’ camp and entertainers. Heller told us, “Just as the pharaohs in ancient days caused the Israelites to suffer and endure starvation, the Hilton management in La Jolla . . . has chosen to ‘pass over’ . . . [guests] by refusing to welcome them.” The dispute is now headed to arbitration in California.” [NYPost]

SPORTS BLINK: “Weinstein Back In U.S. After WBC As Yard Goats Ready For Season Opener” by Jeff Jacobs: “Septuagenarian Yard Goats manager Jerry Weinstein has been involved in international baseball for a long time… “To beat Cuba in an important game was significant for me,” said Weinstein, who managed Team Israel to a stunning 4-2 finish in the World Baseball Classic. “The press conferences were humungous. There were hundreds of reporters and camera people. The guy from the newspaper Granma [the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party] said, ‘Isn’t this really the U.S. No. 2 team?’ “I go, ‘No, this is an Israeli team. And the fact of the matter is none of these guys would have been considered as the backup guys for the USA team. You got beat by a bunch of minor leaguers and ex-big leaguers who played together as a team and still have game.'” Weinstein laughs.” [HartfordCourant]

BIRTHDAYS: Philanthropist Jeanie Schottenstein… Shanghai-born, raised in Switzerland, resident of Seattle since 1950, professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, 1992 winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine, Edmond H. Fischer turns 97… Israeli lawyer and judge, born in Danzig, Poland, former justice of the Supreme Court of Israel (1981-1993), aunt of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Shoshana Netanyahu turns 94… Educator often considered the founder of the modern small schools movement, senior scholar and adjunct professor at NYU, winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship in 1987, Deborah Meier turns 86… Biochemist and molecular biologist, long-time professor and now professor emeritus at Hebrew U, Aharon Razin turns 82… Born in Amsterdam, survived the Holocaust, moved to Israel in 1978, visual artist, textile designer and art teacher, Helen Berman turns 81… Chemist, writer and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Mark Mordecai Green turns 80… Baltimore-born Academy Award-winning best director for Rain Man (1988), produced and directed many films including Diner (1982), Good Morning Vietnam (1987),  Bugsy (1991) and Wag the Dog (1997), Barry Levinson turns 75…

Santa Monica-based poet, critic and teacher, earned her Ph.D. studying Jewish American women authors, Nancy Shiffrin turns 73… Founder and chairman of Cognex Corporation, a provider of machine vision systems, earned a Ph.D. from MIT, major donor to Technion, on the board of FIDF, Robert J. Shillman turns 71… Founder and CEO of Emmis Communications, a media conglomerate and owner of radio stations and magazines across the US, former owner of the Seattle Mariners (1989-1992), Jeff Smulyan turns 70… Political activist, artist and author, adopted as a youg child by philanthropist Max Fisher, known for her speeches at the Republican National Conventions in 1992 and 1996, Mary Fisher turns 69… Movie director, producer, writer and editor, winner of two Academy Awards for best documentary feature, Rob Epstein turns 62… Scholar of ancient and medieval piyyut (Hebrew poetry), head of the Fleischer Institute for the Study of Hebrew Poetry, Shulamit Elizur turns 62… Director, screenwriter and producer of television comedies, Steven Levitan turns 55…

Screenwriter, producer, actor, director, best known for creating, producing and writing the HBO television series Entourage, Douglas Reed “Doug” Ellin turns 49… Attorney and serial entrepreneur, co-founded Demand Media company in 2006, built, operated and sold over $1.3 billion of Internet media companies, Richard Rosenblatt turns 48… Israel’s Consul General in New York from 2007-2010, now CEO of Israeli private equity fund Amelia Investments, Asaf Shariv turns 45… Actor, director, comedian, screenwriter and producer, best known for his role on the television series Scrubs (2001-2010), Zachary Israel “Zach” Braff turns 42… Mandolinist and teacher, has performed with symphony orchestras in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and in Europe, teaches classical mandolin at Mannes College in NYC, Joseph Brent turns 41… Senior editor focused on special projects for 70 Faces Media, Gabrielle Birkner turns 38… Chef, best known as the winner of the second season of the Bravo television network’s reality series Top Chef, currently hosting a cooking competition show called Knife Fight, Ilan Hall turns 35… AIPAC’s senior development director for New York and founder of its real estate division, Jay Haberman… Minneapolis-based Midwest regional director and senior policy analyst at The Israel Project, Jacob Millner… Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Hong Kong-based Oasis Management Company, Seth Hillel Fischer… Playwright, performer and teacher of autobiographical storytelling, Stacie Chaiken… Deborah Granow… Philip Seal

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Daily Kickoff: Bannon removed from National Security Council | Kushner’s 28-year-old protégé | Forbes Summit visits Rawabi | Dean Kamen BDay

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FORBES UNDER 30 SUMMIT EMEA — transitioned from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem yesterday: Last night, the Summit converged on Machane Yehuda Market, also known as ‘The Shuk’, for a food and bar crawl led by former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire. One organizer shared some numbers with us: 800 participants spending around 250 NIS each in food and drink coupons at the Shuk last night resulting in around 200,000 NIS injected into the local market’s economy. Tonight, attendees will gather at the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem for a music festival.

Over dinner last night at Crave in the Shuk, Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Chloe Burch — who co-founded the handbag and shoe collection Neely & Chloe — told us: “I’m so happy that we got the opportunity to come here on a trip like this through Forbes because I don’t think I would have ever picked this place out randomly for a trip of my own or with my family. I’m not Jewish and I don’t necessarily have pre-existing ties to Israel but visiting such a historical place was amazing. A lot of people don’t realize they can come here — regardless of their religion — and really connect with the place.”

Also spotted at Crave: Member of Knesset Elazar Stern who just sponsored a bill in the Knesset this week that seeks to deduct funds to the Palestinian Authority according to the amount it gives to terrorists and their families.

Earlier today, around 50 participants from Forbes visited the town of Rawabi in the West Bank, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians. Bashar Masri, the developer of Rawabi and Chairman of Masri International, told the group that “we are building great infrastructure, a friendly place.” Sir Ronald Cohen, Chairman of the Portland Trust and Bridges Ventures, joined the visit and spoke of Masri’s grand vision. “The lesson for all of us is that businesses grow to the vision of their founder. Businesses rarely go beyond the vision of their founders. If you want to have an impact, you need to think big and you need scale. If you imagine Rawabi fully built you can benchmark it anywhere in the world. Profit with impact business has to deliver measurable social returns. You can see what can be replicated throughout Palestine. What’s most inspiring about Rawabi is the role model you have become.”

Of note, the brochure distributed to guests in Rawabi includes photos of visits from American Jews including Michael Steinhardt [Pic] and a delegation from J Street led by Jeremy Ben-Ami [Pic]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump’s surprisingly functional Israel policy” by Annie Karni:“You wouldn’t have a fundamentally different approach under a President Hillary Clinton, who would also be looking for a reset,” said Ilan Goldenberg, director of the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security… “The one thing any American president needs, to have influence, is a perception from the Israeli public that this guy is on their side,” said Dennis Ross… On the right, there is less fear of Trump’s edict on settlements because of a sense of impermanence to Trump’s open-mindedness toward the Palestinians and a two-state solution. “The Israelis think this is a short-lived gambit,” said a foreign policy operative in Washington… “The attitude of the Israelis is, we need to get along for four years; he’s fundamentally inclined to like us; and his approach will become better informed by experience in a few months.” [Politico]

“Mixing Zionism And Politics Unavoidable, Dan Shapiro Says” by Gary Rosenblatt: “Now living in Israel, the Hebrew-speaking Shapiro said he plans to write about his experience as ambassador for five years, during which “a mythology arose” that portrayed the U.S.-Israel relationship in dark terms. “True, there were disagreements,” he acknowledged, but said it was a period when the relationship between the two countries was strengthened, particularly in terms of “security, missile defense technology, shared intelligence and economics.” He also noted that in spite of President Trump’s campaign pledges to shake up Washington’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, things are not that different today. “I have a lot of serious differences with this administration, but on Israel I have less difference than on anything else,” said Shapiro.” [JewishWeek]

BREAKING: “Bannon Removed From National Security Council Role in Shakeup” by Jennifer Jacobs: “President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council on Wednesday, removing his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, and downgrading the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, according to a person familiar with the decision and a regulatory filing. Under the move, the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, are again “regular attendees” of the NSC’s principals committee.” [Bloomberg]

TOP TALKER: “Ivanka Trump distances herself from controversial policies in interview” by Ben Jacobs: “I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” the president’s daughter said in an interview with CBS’s Gayle King… She added: “I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard… Where I disagree with my father, he knows it and I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda.” .. Asked about whether she and her husband, Jared Kushner, were “complicit” in the Trump White House. Ivanka Trump replied: “If being complicit is wanting … to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit … I hope time will prove that I have done a good job, and, much more importantly, that my father’s administration is the success that I know it will be.” [Guardian; CBSNews]

PROFILE: “Jared Kushner’s 28-year-old protégé is his right-hand man in the White House” by Eliza Relman:“Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, told Business Insider that [Avi] Berkowitz’s role is primarily administrative and involves assisting Kushner with daily logistics — from getting coffee to coordinating meetings. But Berkowitz has been a part of some of the most high-profile moments of Kushner’s time on the transition team and in the White House. According to a Monday report in the Times, Kushner sent Berkowitz to meet with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016. Kislyak talked with Berkowitz about arranging a meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state-owned bank that was under sanctions imposed by the Obama administration.” [BusinessInsider] • Jared Kushner Hiring Hollywood PR Exec for White House Role [HollywoodReporter]

HAPPENING TODAY: King Abdullah II of Jordan will meet with President Trump at the White House followed by a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at 1:10 pm EST. The two leaders will exchange views on a range of shared interests in the Middle East, including how the United States and Jordan can best “advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer said last week. Abdullah reportedly played a key role in establishing a line of communication between the new White House and the Palestinian Authority.

“At White House, Jordan king to present Arabs’ view on peace” by Karin Laub: “The White House meeting will affirm the king’s traditional role as Mideast mediator and raise his profile as an arbiter of Arab consensus… Netanyahu envoy Michael Oren, who recently met with Greenblatt, said on Monday that Israel wants Arab states to take concrete steps to “show that they are not just talking about peace, but actually mean it.” This would include “aspects of normalization,” Oren said, but did not elaborate. He described a process of mutual goodwill gestures that could gradually lead to a peace agreement.” [AP

ZOA’s Mort Klein tells us he met with Trump’s aide Sebastian Gorka at the White House last Thursday to present his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It is clear that Gorka is a strong supporter of Israel and of the Jewish people,” Klein said amid allegations of Gorka’s ties to far-right and anti-Semitic groups in Hungary. “He cares deeply about the situation in Israel. That was crystal clear. This is a friend. And to have Jewish people criticize friends, this is a very bad idea.”

“Schiff: Trump told me I’m doing a ‘good job’ on Russia investigation” by Sarah Boxer: “While in the building, [Rep. Adam] Schiff said he and President Trump met in the Oval Office and spoke briefly about Schiff’s work on the committee. “He said I did a good job,” Schiff tells Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. “It was a perfectly cordial meeting.” Schiff says that Trump also personally assisted in fixing an issue that arose pertaining to the document viewing… Schiff says he heard “a lot of grumbling from the president’s staff behind me,” but the problem was resolved, and the staffer was able to see the documents.”

Schiff on Jared Kushner’s many portfolios: “He may be a perfectly fine gentleman, he may have very good advice for the president. … But he doesn’t have experience in any of these areas. And he’s acting as a super-secretary of state. I don’t know what that means in terms of Rex Tillerson’s job. But I can only imagine the firestorm that would have been provoked had Hillary Clinton made Chelsea her, essentially, second-in-command on all of these issues. So I think it does raise a real concern. You have a president, himself deeply inexperienced on all of these matters, relying so heavily on a son-in-law who is equally inexperienced in all these matters.” [Yahoo

“President Trump’s Son-In-Law Secretly Met With Muslim Leaders Weeks Before The Travel Ban” by Hannah Allam: “The Muslims in the room included a prominent imam, a civil rights attorney, the director of a nonprofit that studies violent extremism, and two venture capitalists — one of whom is a partner at Thrive Capital, the firm run by Kushner’s brother Joshua… Kushner set a friendly tone, soliciting ideas for how to improve Trump’s relations with Muslims, urging them to think big and boldly. He assured them that American Muslims weren’t going to be in the crosshairs: The threat was overseas, he said, with “the cancer” of radical Islam. Then Kushner surprised the delegates by asking them to recommend candidates for jobs in the administration, including the White House liaison to Muslim communities.” [BuzzFeed]

“Alex Jones and Roger Stone Are Starting to Think Jared Kushner Is Illuminati” by Eric Levitz: “There’s no question now, that sources tell me that the president’s son-in-law enjoys a very lively text exchange with Joe Scarborough,” [Roger] Stone said solemnly, standing in front of his pool, “Many of the anti–Steve Bannon stories that you see, the themes that you see on Morning Joe are being dictated by Kushner.” [NYMag]

“Jared Kushner, Man of Steel” by Frank Bruni: “I’m told by insiders that when Trump’s long-shot campaign led to victory, he and Kushner became convinced not only that they’d tapped into something that everybody was missing about America, but that they’d tapped into something that everybody was missing about the two of them. Kushner was reborn with new powers, and to the heavens he ascended.” [NYTimes

SATIRE — “Jared Kushner Says He Read Up on Middle East During Minutes Waiting for Ski Lift” by Andy Borowitz: “Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that he became “incredibly well-informed” on the Middle East by reading up on the region while waiting for the ski lift on a recent trip to Aspen. “There would be times when you’d have to wait five or even ten minutes for the ski lift, and that’s when I’d take out my phone and read up on the Middle East,” he said. “I really got into it.” [NewYorker]

ON THE HILL — Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, told Jewish Insider yesterday that he is encouraged by President Trump’s recent policy on Israel. “I have been heartened to see a change in tone in the Trump Administration on the question of settlements. And I am glad that there has been a response from the Israeli government,” he told JI’s Aaron Magid. “I think it’s important that our policy towards settlements be consistent. Ultimately, we need to get both sides to the table and that wasn’t going to happen if settlement continued at the pace of late last year.” [JewishInsider

Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY) and Peter J. Roskam (R-IL) called on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to continue funding for U.S.-Israel defense cooperation programs in the President’s budget for fiscal year 2018. “Working in a bipartisan manner, Congressman Roskam and I previously helped secure increased aid for these defense cooperation programs, and I am pleased to partner with him again in seeking funding,” Meng said in a statement yesterday. “Full funding should be swiftly approved.” Read the full letter here [PDF]

Mounting Senate Concern on Tillerson’s Human Rights Commitment — by JI’s Aaron Magid: “Would I prefer that he be more engaged at this point? Yes. Do I wish human rights were more of a priority? Yes,” Rubio told Jewish Insider… “I am not making excuses for him, but if the State Department is still conducting its way in foreign policy in a couple of months the way it’s been doing up till now, then I think it’s going to be a real problem,” he said… When asked about Tillerson’s approach to human rights, a Democratic Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee who requested anonymity told Jewish Insider, “I am very concerned about the lack of engagement on human rights and democracy.” [JewishInsider]

“Aides said human rights remained a concern for Mr. Trump. But, they added, he believes he will be more effective raising the issue in private.” [NYTimes]

“The Silence of Rex Tillerson” by Eliot A. Cohen: “At the moment there is no Trump foreign policy doctrine, no coherent explanation of the world as seen by the Trump team, and the broad outlines of their policy for dealing with it… There is foreign policy conducted as though the United States government were a Middle Eastern court, where the ruler’s family counts for more than the sovereign’s foreign minister… Perhaps this will end. Perhaps Secretary Tillerson will find a voice. Perhaps he will somehow lay out a vision of foreign policy that reconciles America’s interests and its values, that reassures allies and promises a steady hand in the years to come… For the moment, however, his silence is as dismaying and depressing as the chirping of Trump’s tweets.” [TheAtlantic]

“Israel Deserves a Seat on the Security Council” by Danny Danon: “The past few months have raised serious questions about the credibility of the United Nations as a whole and the Security Council in particular as it continues its unending obsession with Israel while paying way too little attention to the other ills of the world. By electing Israel to serve on the Security Council, the members of the United Nations will make a strong statement finally accepting the Jewish state as a full and equal member.” [Politico]

KAFE KNESSET — Here comes trouble — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: A day after former Likud Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced his comeback to the political system, the troubles begin. A Channel 10 poll published last night revealed that if the Likud was headed by Sa’ar, it would win more seats than if it was led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the survey, if an election was held today, the Likud would receive 27 mandates and lose to Yesh Atid , which is projected to get 29 Knesset seats. However, if Sa’ar were to head the Likud, it would receive 29 seats, a tie with Yesh Atid’s 29. Netanyahu is still the clear winner in the question of leadership compatibility, with 23% saying that he is the most suitable to serve as prime minister, followed by Yair Lapid and Sa’ar, with 18% and 11%, respectively. The poll also examined internal Likud preferences, with 68% stating that Netanyahu should head the Likud, and only 13% said Sa’ar was the man….”

“According to the poll, Sa’ar is the runner-up for the day after Netanyahu, but it is going to be a tough race. Transportation and intelligence minister Israel Katz stated today that he believes he will be the next Likud leader. Replying to a question regarding Sa’ar’s comeback, Katz said he “is not currently dealing with political issues. Netanyahu is the prime minister, but when he finishes his term, I intend to run for the Likud leadership and the Prime Minister’s office on behalf of the Likud, and I am convinced that I will be elected,” he said.

Oops, she did it again: Britney Spears is playing her first-ever concert in Israel on July 3. If you’re wondering why this is relevant to Kafe Knesset, well, let’s just say that that fact is “not that innocent,” because July 3 was also the planned date of the Labor leadership primary. The party that tends to have a “Toxic” relationship with its leaders decided to reschedule the vote because of Britney’s show. Not that many of Labor’s elderly members are actually expected to attend the concert, but Tel Aviv goes into “Crazy” gridlock when there is a concert, and since Tel Aviv is where many left-wing voters – including party leader Isaac Herzog – reside, they’ll have a problem getting to the polls… So now, Herzog will ask Labor members, “From the Bottom of [His] Broken Heart,” to make him “stronger than yesterday” and elect him as leader “Baby One More Time” on July 5. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: YouTube, Google graded poorly on hate, terrorism by Wiesenthal Center [JewishJournal] • Bitmain’s Israeli R&D Center Launches Bitcoin Mining Pool ConnectBTC [CoinJournal• 83North announces ‘oversubscribed’ $250 million fourth fund for European and Israeli startups [VentureBeat]

ACROSS THE POND: “Labour ‘failing Jewish community’ with Livingstone ruling, says Tom Watson” by Rowena Mason and Matthew Weaver: “Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has accused his party of failing the Jewish community and bringing “shame on us all”, after a disciplinary panel decided not to expel Ken Livingstone for suggesting Hitler supported Zionism… The disciplinary body ruled that Livingstone should be suspended for another year for bringing the party into disrepute. The decision also caused senior Jewish politicians to question their future in the party, with Lord Levy, the chief fundraiser under Tony Blair, threatening to leave. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Levy said: “Do I stay in the party? It is something that I’m going to reflect on very seriously. I am very upset with the party’s attitude. I do not believe there has been a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism.”” [Guardian]

“Trump says he has the ‘best words.’ Merriam-Webster disagrees” by Dana Milbank: “Merriam-Webster reminded the White House that Holocaust refers especially to Jews after it issued a Holocaust remembrance statement that omitted any mention of Jews.” [WashPost

“After Seeing Himself in Old Newsreel Footage, Manhattan Man Discovers How He Survived Holocaust” by Michael Scotto: “[Michael] Bornstein’s memory was jolted in the 1980s when he saw newsreel footage of children showing their Auschwitz tattoos as they were liberated by Soviet soldiers. He realized he was one of those children captured on film… Through Auschwitz documents kept in Israel, he learned that, ironically, he lived because he had been sick. The Nazis left him behind when they evacuated the camp as Soviet troops closed in… Bornstein, with the help of his daughter Debbie, turned his personal story into a book, Survivors Club. He writes that of the Hundreds of thousands of children taken to Auschwitz. He was one of only 52 under the age of eight who lived.” [NY1]

MEDIA WATCH: “Here Come The Breitbart Books” by Steven Perlberg: “Rosie Gray, The Atlantic’s White House correspondent and a former BuzzFeed News reporter, has inked a deal with publishing giant HarperCollins for a book about the far-right news outlet, which hit its stride during the campaign as a key hyper-conservative voice boosting Donald Trump… Gray received an advance of about $350,000 for the book, according to three of the people. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Joshua Green has signed on with Penguin to write a book about the rise of conservative populism during the election… According to a person familiar with the matter, the book will prominently explore the influence of Steve Bannon.” [BuzzFeed]

TRANSITION — Beatrice Kahn elected National Council of Jewish Women’s Board president, Kahn, who’s from New York, moves to the board’s leading role after serving as vice president for the past three years.

BIRTHDAYS: Vice-provost of the California Institute of Technology (1988-2007) where he also served as a professor of physics and applied physics, David Goodstein turns 78… Research scientist, science administrator, CEO of the Ontario Genomics Institute and lecturer on Jewish medical ethics, Mark J. Poznansky turns 71… Engineer, inventor, businessman, best known for his invention of the Segway, holder of hundreds of other patents, Dean Kamen turns 66… CEO of Hess Corporation, a global energy company, John Barnett Hess turns 63… British novelist and screenwriter specializing in mystery and suspense, Anthony Horowitz turns 62… Enterprise editor for CNN Politics, handling domestic politics, Dan Berman turns 38… Academic Programs Associate at the American Enterprise Institute, Wilson Shirley turns 24… Los Angeles-based director of public relations for the Western US at the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Camila Seta turns 24… Managing Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, Adam Maslia… Congressional Reporter at GovTrack Insider and Box Office Analyst at BoxOffice Media, Jesse Rifkin… Senior Legislative Assistant for Representative Dina Titus (D-Nevada-1), Benjamin J. Rosenbaum… Harvey Levin… Gene Kadish

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: Inside the Jeff Zucker and Kushner/Trump relationship | Gideon Sa’ar returns | Elliott Abrams endorses Trump’s settlement policy

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NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN — HALEY AT THE UN — “US takes turn atop UN Security Council” by Richard Roth: “Some pundits predict United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley will one day run for president, but for a month, at least, she will be — of the 15-nation UN Security Council. Ambassadors take up the post each month, and April fell to Haley.” [CNN] • Headline — “UNSC Won’t Focus On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Under Nikki Haley Presidency” [JPost]

“Ambassador to the U.N. says U.S. leverage for Mideast peace not harmed by support for Israel” by Anne Gearan: “[Haley] said she is not concerned that her strongly worded support for Israel creates the impression that the United States has a finger on the scale in any future negotiation. “I’ve been honest. That’s all I’ve done, is tell the truth,” she said.” [WashPost]

TEAM FRIEDMAN — “Orthodox rabbi to advise David Friedman at US embassy in Israel” by Michael Wilner: “Aryeh Lightstone, an Orthodox rabbi who works in Jewish education, will serve in an advisory role at the US embassy in Israel alongside Ambassador David Friedman, a State Department official confirmed on Sunday.” [JPost]

Word on the street: Lightstone is set to be Friedman’s Chief of Staff and will join the Ambassador in Israel…

Michael Fragin, a friend of Lightstone, emails us: “Lightstone possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the Jewish community in Israel and in the United States while being very well versed in DC politics at the highest levels. He will be a great asset for Ambassador Friedman as he seeks to balance the interests and needs of these varied demanding constituencies to represent the interests of the United States government.”

TOP TALKER: “Controversial Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka Backed Violent Anti-Semitic Militia” by Lili Bayer: “Asked directly on the TV interview program if he supports the move by Jobbik, a far-right anti-Semitic party, to establish the militia, [Seb] Gorka, appearing as a leader of his own newly formed party, replies immediately, “That is so.” The Guard, Gorka explains, is a response to “a big societal need.” … During the 11-minute interview, which aired on Hungary’s Echo TV, Gorka dismissed concerns expressed by the Jewish community, and in particular fears that the Guard provoked among Hungarian Holocaust survivors.” [Forward]

ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt tweets: “POTUS’ chief counter-terrorism adviser Gorka’s past support for antisemitic Hungarian Guard shocking” [Twitter]

INTERVIEW – Congressman Scott Taylor (R-VA) discussed his service in the Navy SEALs overseas, his work in Congress, and views on the Middle East in an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Aaron Magid. “Syria scares me. Syria is the most dangerous thing in the world right now,” Taylor said about the U.S. campaign against ISIS. “Unlike any other time that I know of since World War II, you have so many powers playing in the same sandbox. Israel, Russia, Turkey, Iran and us. There is tremendous potential for flash points and the inability to de-conflict. I don’t know exactly what the President’s plan is right now… I am worried about increased forces in Syria. What is the plan, what is the goal? And I want to hear those things.”

On Israel, the 37-year-old Congressman expresses skepticism regarding the two-state solution, once considered a cornerstone of American policy among both Republican and Democratic administrations. “From a military standpoint, the West Bank and Golan Heights, that land that Israel took in 1967 — from a tactical standpoint — there is no way in hell, I would give it back.” He explained that the current facts on the ground make an independent Palestinian state nearly impossible. “Most people think, there’s the Jews and there’s the Arabs. It’s just not like that because when you are actually in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, you are seeing Arab village, Jewish village – it’s just all over the place.” While few Members of Congress refer to the territory as Judea and Samaria, when asked why he uses this term, Taylor promptly responded, “Because that’s what it is.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi visited the White House yesterday. “We agree on so many things,” Trump said during a photo spray in the Oval Office, without addressing specific policy. “We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt.” Sisi, responding in kind, expressed his admiration of the President’s “unique personality” and praised his strong stance in fighting radical Islamic terrorism. In an apparent reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sisi told Trump, “You will find me supporting you very strongly and very earnestly in finding a solution to the problem of the century.”

— “President Trump and President Al Sisi expressed their mutual interest in supporting the Israelis and Palestinians in moving toward a genuine and lasting peace,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting.

“Al-Sisi presents Trump with the position of the Arab states in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” by Roi Kais: “Egyptian sources told Al-Hayat that Egyptian President Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi presented to US President Donald Trump the position of the Arab states regarding a just solution to the Palestinian issue based on the Arab peace initiative. He also expressed the opposition of the countries to the transfer of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” [Ynet

“Trump Shifts Course on Egypt, Praising Its Authoritarian Leader” by Peter Baker and Declan Walsh: “Nothing could have made Mr. Sisi happier. He arrived from Cairo with a list of financial, security and political requests, but effectively he got what he really wanted in the six minutes that news media photographers were permitted in the Oval Office… The picture of the general-turned-president in the White House, hosted by an American leader lavishing praise on him, was the seal of approval he had long craved.” [NYTimes]

Dan Shapiro‏ tweets: “Count the Israeli government and people among those who are satisfied by the warm embrace given by Trump to Egypt’s President al-Sisi… Israeli officials often spoke to me about al-Sisi using the term “miracle.” They weren’t being ironic… It’s understandable why Israelis choose short-term gain, given the threats they face, and welcome Trump’s embrace of al-Sisi.” [Twitter

“Donald Trump’s Arab fantasy” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: “The Sunni Arabs are almost certain to disappoint Trump on Israeli-Palestinian peace, too… The 2002 Arab summit outlined an Arab peace plan whose trade-offs go well beyond what the Netanyahu government has been prepared to offer. If President Trump wants to get the Arab states to make peace with Israel, he’ll need to bring serious pressure on both sides, particularly on issues such as borders and Jerusalem. Right now there’s zero evidence that anyone, including Trump, is ready for that.” [CNN

“Trump’s policy on Israeli settlements is the way to go” by Elliott Abrams: “What has emerged is a good policy: sensible, flexible and realistic. Which is to say, it’s a lot like Bush policy… This is very close to the George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon understandings of 2003 and 2004. Our “deal” was no new settlements, no seizure of additional land for settlements, construction in already built-up areas and no financial inducements to move to a settlement… This is smart. The alternative approach, that of the Obama administration under George Mitchell, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Obama, was not.” [Newsweek

Alternative view… “Israel restrains settlements because it doesn’t trust Trump” by Shmuel Rosner: “Israeli decision makers have difficulties in trusting Trump because they don’t know him… Thus, restricting settlement building… is a sign that Israel is hesitant to move forward and prefers to play it safe. It is taking the necessary steps so as not to hand President Trump any ammunition with which he can hammer Israel or blame it for his failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian final-status agreement.” [JewishJournal]

KAFE KNESSET — Sa’ar is making a comeback — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu’s latest headache is the return of his archrival, Gideon Sa’ar, to politics. In case you forgot, Sa’ar, a former education and interior minister from the Likud, consistently held high public approval ratings and was seen by many as Netanyahu’s heir apparent, leading the Prime Minister to do all he can to try to tear Sa’ar down. So, in September 2014, Sa’ar decided to take a break from politics to dedicate time to his family.

For someone who took a break from politics over frustration with Netanyahu – though he would never openly admit as much – Sa’ar was very positive about the Prime Minister in his comeback speech at a Likud chapter in Akko. “I want to praise Prime Minister Netanyahu for protecting Israel’s interests during eight tough years,” Sa’ar said, referring to Obama’s presidency. However, Sa’ar, who in addition to hanging out with babies David and Shira, spent the last 2.5 years at the INSS think tank in Tel Aviv, warned that “there are still dangerous plans out there to pressure Israel to return to pre-1967 lines” and called for people to “support the prime minister in standing up to that pressure.”

Sa’ar added that he hopes to “strengthen the Likud for the future and guarantee that it will also lead the country in the future,” a/k/a, the post-Netanyahu era. He plans to launch a cross-country tour of Israel where he will meet with Likud activists and others to discuss his new ideas. There’s no Likud leadership race on the horizon, even if an election is called, because Netanyahu ran unopposed last year, and the vote was called off to save the party money… By the way, the family that Sa’ar took time off to spent time with includes wife and respected IBA News anchor Geula Even. At the height of the Netanyahu-Kahlon IBA-IBC crisis, the IBC announced that Even would be its nightly news anchor, a move that reportedly angered both sides of the dispute: Netanyahu, because he sees Even and Sa’ar as one and the same, and Kahlon, because he blamed IBC’s management for making it harder to end the crisis. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

IRAN DEAL: “Boeing Agrees to First Plane Sale to Iran Under Trump” by Robert Wall and Asa Fitch: “The sale is the first major deal between a U.S. company and an Iranian one since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, an outspoken critic of closer ties with Tehran. Boeing said it had received permission from the U.S. government to negotiate the sale, though it still needs signoff from the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control… The deal could become a high-profile test case for the Trump administration over how far Washington will allow U.S. companies to go in doing business in Iran.” [WSJ]

“White House violated protocol by confirming Jared Kushner trip before he landed in Iraq” by Ashley Parker and Dan Lamothe: “In a breach of protocol, senior White House officials confirmed reports of Kushner’s trip before he had landed in Iraq, raising security concerns from the Pentagon… As reporters caught wind of Kushner’s trip and began calling the White House Sunday night, senior administration confirmed the early reports of the visit, including the original — and incorrect — timeline, saying Kushner was already on the ground. Asked about the mistake, a White House official Monday said their timing on the logistics of the trip had been slightly off.” [WashPost] • Kushner Iraq trip part of wider Pentagon outreach to Trump [Politico]

“The military may have found an unlikely ally in the Trump administration” by David Choi: “If I were the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I would do exactly what general Dunford has done … because he does have the trust and confidence of the President,” Mark Hertling, the former commander of US Army Europe, said of Kushner in an interview with CNN… “That will allow Chairman Dunford and Secretary of Defense Mattis to help ‘lead-up’ when President Trump perhaps might be making a decision which is contrary to the security of the United States.” [BI] • Jared Kushner Went to Iraq Because the Pentagon Knows How Trump Operates [NYMag]

“Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel” by Eli Lake: “The pattern of [former national security adviser Susan] Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review… The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review… In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.” [Bloomberg; WSJ]

“Susan Rice Has No Defense” by Mike Doran: “The description of Rice’s motive — a dutiful effort to understand Russia’s engagement with American citizens — is belied by the behavior of the Obama White House in its final days.” [Medium]

2018 WATCH: “Josh Mandel ramps up criticism of ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ sanctuary cities” by Alan Johnson: “A look at Mandel’s Twitter feed from Nov. 9 through last week shows that of more than 250 postings, nearly half concerned either anti-Islamic terrorism (about 70) or sanctuary cities (more than 50)… Mandel denies a connection between his increased social-media activity and Trump. He said he has long been focused on “combating radical Islam terrorism,” but he acknowledged that his emphasis ramped up after a terrorist attack at Ohio State University on Nov. 28… Mandel, who is Jewish, said he saw terrorism firsthand in Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks. “I believe this is the main security threat of our generation. There are radical Muslims throughout the world who are teaching their children that it’s an honor to kill Americans, Christians, Jews and other Muslims in the name of Allah.”” [DispatchFlashback: Jewish Senate Candidate Tests Trump’s Model In Ohio [JewishInsider

** 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: Aryeh Bourkoff interviews Scooter Braun for the debut episode of LionTree’s KindredCast podcast [SoundCloud] • Sheryl Sandberg: Four years after ‘Lean In’ women are not better off [USAToday] • Starbucks’ new CEO tells us he’ll never be Howard Schultz — and that’s great news for the brand [BusinessInsider]  Veg-o-Matic Company’s IPO Gives Away Free Rotisserie With Stock [Fortune• Lakewood set to vote on yeshiva’s shopping center plan [APP; NJ1015] • Deco Capital and RWN pay $7.4M for Alton Road retail building [RealDeal

MEDIA WATCH: “CNN Had a Problem. Donald Trump Solved It: Inside the strange symbiosis between Jeff Zucker and the president he helped create” y Jonathan Mahler: “Kushner told Zucker over the phone in June that in the future, Trump would be doing interviews with only friendly outlets. Zucker, who attended Kushner’s wedding to Ivanka Trump in 2009, said that he thought this was a mistake. He suggested that Kushner speak to one of his contributors, the former Obama campaign official David Axelrod, whose research for Obama showed that CNN’s viewers represent a key voting bloc. “You can’t win without us,” Zucker said.”

“Zucker had breakfast with Kushner a few weeks later in Manhattan. Kushner wanted to know why CNN still hadn’t fired anti-Trump commentators like Jones and Ana Navarro…  Zucker tried to explain that even though Trump won, the network still needed what he described as “a diversity of opinion.” Shortly before Trump was sworn in, Zucker heard that he was considering giving Fox News exclusive rights to televise the inauguration and that Kushner was in the process of brokering a deal with Rupert Murdoch, whom Kushner once courted as a mentor. Zucker called Trump. “Bottom line is that I said, ‘This is crazy,’ ” Zucker recalls.” [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “At Kushners’ Flagship Building, Mounting Debt and a Foundered Deal” by Charles V. Bagli: “More than a quarter of the office space in the building sits vacant. According to an analysis by Trepp L.L.C., a data and analytics firm that tracks bank lending, 666 Fifth Avenue has not generated enough money to pay its debts for several years, forcing the owners to cover the shortfall — at least $10 million in 2015. And that gap is growing. The interest-only $1.2 billion mortgage comes due in less than two years… The spokesman, James Yolles, said Charles Kushner remained optimistic that he would secure fresh investors who would not only pay off the existing debt on the building but also finance the demolition of the current structure and the construction of a 1,400-foot tower designed by Zaha Hadid.” [NYTimesNYPost]

TALK OF THIS TOWN: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s Rent in Washington: $15,000 a Month” by Mark Maremont: “The rent is in line with that paid for similar luxury properties in the area, according to local brokers. Even so, it represents a seemingly poor financial deal for the landlord, according to real-estate experts. The owner, Andrónico Luksic, bought the house after the November election and paid $5.5 million for the six-bedroom property… The $15,000 monthly rent works out to an annual sum of about 2.5% of the home’s value, after subtracting about $40,000 in taxes and insurance that the landlord generally pays. “That’s a terrible investment” for the owner, said Joshua Adler, who owns multiple rental properties in Washington including a Kalorama house.” [WSJ• Kushner, Ivanka Trump face ethical land mines ahead [AP]

“Linda Sarsour: NYC’s queen of hate” by Lahav Harkov: “The Brooklyn-born [Linda] Sarsour, daughter of Palestinian immigrants, shared the dais Sunday with… Rasmea Odeh — convicted in Israel of killing two Hebrew University students in a 1969 terrorist attack… It’s a curious embrace of terrorism and anti-Semitism from a recipient of a $500,000 taxpayer grant from Mayor de Blasio, as Sarsour’s group, the Arab American Association of New York, was last year. Sarsour, in fact, has been an important ally of de Blasio’s since his election — a role she’s sure to reprise in the mayor’s bid for a second term.” [NYPost

“Jean-Michel Jarre to play Dead Sea concert” by Agence France-Presse: “The French musician, who shot to fame in the 1970s, will perform in front of the ancient Masada fortress in Israel on Thursday in a bid to draw attention to the “urgency of saving the Dead Sea,” he told AFP… “I want the Dead Sea, like Masada, to be part of Unesco’s world heritage,” Jarre said during a pre-show visit to the site. “This region belongs to humanity… For me, the whole point of this project is to make people aware of the urgency of dealing with the Earth as a whole,” Jarre said. “The concert will contribute to, I hope, organising the resistance against all the Trumps of the world.”” [Guardian]

“Leonard Litwin, New York Real Estate Mogul, Dies at 102” by Robert D. McFadden: “His imprint is on the Manhattan skyline in dozens of buildings he built, owned and operated — more than 8,700 apartments with high-end amenities and lofty rents. The holdings were assembled over six decades in a father-and-son enterprise that ventured into the city rental market in the early 1950s and expanded into an archipelago of towers with names like the Pavilion, the Lucerne and Liberty Plaza… He forged political connections in Albany and City Hall with campaign contributions, lobbying and payments that shaped rent laws affecting millions of tenants, as well as state and city regulations that helped the real estate industry thrive in New York.” [NYTimes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — JTA celebrated 100 years of Jewish reporting at its Centennial Gala held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The event featured a conversation with French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. Honorees included Brian Sterling, a member of 70 Faces Media’s Board of Directors, Jane Weitzman, former Executive Vice President of Stuart Weitzman, and Mark Wilf, President and owner of the Minnesota Vikings.

SPOTTED: Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Amir Sagie, Bluelight’s Steve Rabinowitz, JFNA’s William Daroff, JDC’s David Schizer, Michael Geller and Amir Shaviv; URJ’s Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Arielle Dombasle, Noam Neusner, Matt Nosanchuk, Thane Rosenbaum, Zygi Wilf, Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Michael Glickman, West End Strategy’s Matt Dorf and Samantha Kupferman, ADL’s Todd Gutnick, Ilia Salita, Dana Raucher, Robert Frost, Alan Divack, Joseph Hyman, Alisa Doctoroff, David and Karen Lehmann Eisner, Rob and Elisa Spungen Bildner, JTA-70 Faces Media CEO & Executive Editor Ami Eden, Daniel Gorlin, Andrew Silow-Carroll, Debbie Kolben, Dani Elkins, Leo Lazar, Shuli Karkowsky, Lee Silverstein, Lisa Hostein, Julius Berman, David Rudis, Marshall Weinberg, Caryn Roseman Adelman, Ben Harris, Cnaan Liphshiz, Uriel Heilman, Ron Kampeas, Ben Sales, Gabe Friedman, Josefin Dolsten, Marc Brodsky, Gary Rosenblatt, Seth Lipsky, Alana Newhouse, Jane Eisner, Rachel Fishman Fedderson, Matt Berger, Ken Bandler, Mark Joffe, Israeli Consulate’s Shimon Mercer-Wood and Andrew Gross, and Dvir Assouline.

BIRTHDAYS: Author of books about her childhood experiences as a Jewish girl in the Netherlands during the Holocaust, Johanna Reiss turns 85… Major League Baseball player for the Orioles, Senators, Athletics, Rangers and Angels (1996-1974), Mike Epstein turns 74… French-German politician who is a Green Party leader in Europe, Daniel Cohn-Bendit turns 72… Hungarian dramatist, novelist and essayist whose recent works are focused upon Jewish characters, György Spiró turns 71… Author of many books and over 100 articles, political historian who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C., Allan Jay Lichtman turns 70… Poet, essayist, editor, literary scholar, professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, Charles Bernstein turns 67… Chief of staff to former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (now an Australian MP), previously senior advisor to former Representatve Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Bruce Wolpe turns 66 (h/t Playbook)… Emmy Award-winning film director, producer, freelance journalist and writer, Simcha Jacobovici turns 64… Tel Aviv-born animator and film director, now a freelance director in NYC, Tatia Rosenthal turns 46…

Member of the Knesset since 2006, now a member of the Zionist Union (the coalition of the Labor Party and Hatnuah Party), Yoel Hasson turns 45… Actress since she was six years old, she has appeared in many movies and television series, Natasha Lyonne (born Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein) turns 38… Israeli journalist who serves as the political correspondent and analyst for The Times of Israel, Haviv Rettig Gur turns 36… Israel’s top men’s tennis player, who has broken into the top 30 of world rankings, David “Dudi” Sela turns 32… NYC-based senior editor for Hearst Digital Media’s content studio, lifestyle writer, Daisy Melamed Sanders turns 30 (h/t Playbook)… Gloria Margulies… Phyllis Wilner

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PHOTO: REUTERS

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