Daily Kickoff: Why Trump mentioned Israel in his Saudi statement | Zuckerberg defends himself | Florida’s first Jewish Governor

Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here or for early 7AM access via Debut Inbox

Ed. note: Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving! We’ll be back after the holiday.

HEARD LAST NIGHT — As problems pile up, Mark Zuckerberg stands his ground in exclusive CNN Business interview — by Seth Fiegerman: “A lot of the criticism around the biggest issues has been fair, but I do think that if we are going to be real, there is this bigger picture as well, which is that we have a different world view than some of the folks who are covering us,” Zuckerberg told CNN Business’ Laurie Segall at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.”

“When asked if he would consider stepping down as Facebook’s chairman, Zuckerberg said, “That’s not the plan.” He also threw his support behind his No. 2, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg… “Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts for a lot of the biggest issues that we have,” Zuckerberg told CNN Business. “She’s been an important partner to me for ten years. I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done together and I hope that we work together for decades more to come.” [CNN]

Zuckerberg on Definers going after George Soros — Segall: The PR firm was founded by Republican political strategists and it launched a campaign linking Facebook critics to George Soros. This is a common tactic used by anti-Semitic and alt-right groups. That’s why people were so shocked when they found out about this… Does that strike you as stooping low? 

Zuckerberg: “I wasn’t particularly happy about that piece of it, and that is certainly a big part of what — when I read about it — made me want to look into this deeply. The intention was never to attack an individual, but there are these lobbying groups and folks out there whose primary focus is to attack the company. And I do think it’s fine to push back on that.”

Segall: Do you approve of the way they went after George Soros? Do you approve of that methodology? 

Zuckerberg: “I don’t think that this is the type of thing that our company should be engaging with.” 

Segall: What would be your message to George Soros?

Zuckerberg: “Well, I know that George Soros has been the target of a lot of really horrendous attacks, and I think that is terrible. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone who’s associated with our company to be part of that.”[Video• Internal Facebook memo sees outgoing VP of comms Schrage take blame for hiring Definers [TechCrunch]

MISSISSIPI SENATE RUNOFF  — Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker Funded Race-Baiting Senator’s Super PAC — by Lachlan Markay: “Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook and the founder of the pioneering music sharing service Napster, provided a huge cash infusion this year for the Mississippi Victory Fund… He made the donation in an effort to defeat Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel, [Sen. Cindy] Hyde-Smith’s controversial Republican opponent, during their primary race. And it worked—McDaniel, a man who had ties to the neo-Confederate movement, took money from figures connected to the KKK, and made numerous inflammatory comments about women and minorities, lost badly. But the leftover funds are now being used to help Hyde-Smith in her runoff against her Democratic opponent, former congressman and Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.” [DailyBeast]

DRIVING THE CONVO — President Donald Trump affirmed yesterday that the U.S. would continue to stand with Saudi Arabia despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s suspected involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump said in a lengthy statement, which made mention of the kingdom’s agreement to invest $450 billion in the U.S. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) likened Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia to former President Barack Obama’s charm offensive with Iran. “One thing I learned during the Obama years is that when you look the other way regarding problems in the Middle East, it seldom works out,” Graham said in a statement. “Time and time again President Obama chose to look the other way as Iran took increasingly provocative actions. Each time it led to even worse Iranian behavior and created even larger problems for the future. Likewise, it is not in our national security interests to look the other way when it comes to the brutal murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.”

WHY IT MATTERS — “Jared Kushner saw Prince Mohammed as critical to advancing a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians that has been a major focus of his time in the White House. Mr. Trump’s hawkish aides, encouraged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, saw the prince as critical in marshaling a coalition to isolate Iran.” [NYTimes]

Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tells us… “Trump is far more invested in the campaign against Iran than he is the campaign for Middle East peace and his decision to prioritize strategic interests in not further penalizing Saudi Arabia for the Khashoggi murder appears to reflect this focus on pressuring Iran.”

“While I believe the Administration is fundamentally making the correct strategic decision, its tactics may backfire, given that Congress may react to the White House’s apparent indifference to the Khashoggi murder with an overreaction that does real and lasting damage to U.S. interests in the Gulf. I would have preferred the White House extract a pound of flesh from Riyadh so Congress doesn’t decide to extract ten pounds of flesh.”

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro emails us… “Trump associating Israel with his bizarre statement formally letting MBS off the hook for Khashoggi’s murder does Israel no favors. The fact is we do need a reliable Saudi partner to help confront an aggressive Iran. So does Israel. But the problem is, with MBS in charge, we don’t have one. What we have is a Saudi Arabia that shares certain strategic interests and is pursuing a limited set of reforms, but which is led by a reckless, vindictive, violent ruler whose personal vendettas actually weaken the strategic coordination against Iran. That’s not good for the United States or Israel.”

Dore Gold, former Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “It would be a mistake to read too much into President Trump’s mention of Israel as a factor in U.S. considerations regarding Saudi Arabia. Trump actually based his arguments for preserving U.S.-Saudi ties on traditional American interests including the Kingdom’s role as the world’s largest oil producer and as the decisive player in determining its price. It is true that Israeli and Gulf state interests have come to overlap in recent years, which is why it is so important to explore ways they can work together under these changed circumstances.”

Tom Friedman writes: “Last May, Hanukkah came early for Israel when Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a dream of every Israeli prime minister — for free! … Well, I shouldn’t say that. He got millions of dollars in donations for the G.O.P. from right-wing Jewish megadonor Sheldon Adelson — who lobbied for the move — and warm applause from evangelicals. So Trump got something, but America got nothing. Now Christmas has come early for the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Trump gave M.B.S. a pass on Khashoggi’s murder for the promise of future arms purchases… That may be the most crass giveaway of U.S. principles by any president in American history.” [NYTimes]

Mohammed bin Salman expected to attend G20 summit — by Julian Borger: “Prince Mohammed’s presence in Buenos Aires will put Trump’s position under even more scrutiny… Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Prince Mohammed’s decision to attend was a deliberate challenge to the international community.” [TheGuardian]

Inside the Saudis’ Fancy, Boozy, Upper East Side PR Push — by Erin Banco: “The party took place in a classic—and classically posh—uptown, East Side apartment. Plated finger foods, assorted cheeses, and charcuterie were picked at by guests. Attendees got wine and cocktails from the open bar and gathered to listen to [Turki al-]Faisal… The former intelligence chief told people in the crowd that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia couldn’t possibly move away from their strategic partnership. Too much was at stake, he said, including thwarting Iran’s aggression in the Middle East. For that, the country would lean on Israel, too, he said.” [DailyBeast]

TALK OF THE REGION — Trump administration slaps new sanctions to punish Iran and Syria — by Caitlin Oprysko: “The Trump administration on Tuesday announced new sanctions designed to punish both Iran and Syria and choke off illicit oil sales. The new actions target Syrian national Mohammad Amer Alchwiki and his Russia-based company, Global Vision Group… Administration officials said Tuesday that the scheme involved funneling money from Iran’s central bank through an Iranian company posing as a medical and pharmaceuticals business to a state-owned Russian bank account… Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime then facilitated the movement of “hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars” to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “for onward transfer to Hamas and Hezbollah.” [Politico]

REPORT — Russian proposal linked Iran sanctions relief with Syria withdrawal — by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a closed hearing on Monday that Russia recently proposed to Israel and the U.S. that Iran be granted relief from some U.S. sanctions in return for the removal of Iranian forces and proxies from Syria… This is the first we’re hearing that the Russians have floated an idea for Iran’s withdrawal, and that they’re linking it to U.S. sanctions.” [Axios]

David Ibsen, President of United Against Nuclear Iran, emails us…”The Iranian threat cannot be bargained away and U.S. national security interests are not for sale. Iran needs to leave Syria, Iran needs to end its support for terror, and Iran needs to abandon its nuclear program. Period.”

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz: “Russia and Iran are looking for ways to undermine the administration’s maximum pressure campaign before it really gets going. Washington should build up much greater pressure and much greater leverage before starting to deal.”

Iran turns to pragmatism as Israel woos Oman — by Saeid Jafari: “Iranian officials may not have been happy with Netanyahu visiting the capital of a friendly country in the Persian Gulf. However, they have tried to address the matter in a pragmatic way in order to prevent tensions with Oman, with which they have enjoyed close ties for decades.” [Al-Monitor]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Top Israeli minister: Trump wasting his time with peace plan: “Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked says Wednesday that reaching peace is currently impossible and Trump should focus his energy elsewhere until the Palestinians are ready to compromise. Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Shaked says “I think personally it is a waste of time.” [APHaaretz]

— Israeli minister urges Airbnb boycott, talks up rival service — by Dan Williams: “I call today on all those who support Israel and oppose discriminatory boycotts: they should cease using Airbnb and turn to other services,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told a diplomatic conference hosted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper. “By the way, BookingDOTcom is a great service,” added Erdan, the point-man in Israeli government efforts to combat pro-Palestinian boycotts.” [Reuters]

SIGHTING — U.S. Ambassador David Friedman attended the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House yesterday. He entered the event with Jared Kushner, according to a White House pool report.

ON THE HILL — Congress to probe Ivanka Trump’s private email use in WH — by Chad Day: “New revelations about the extent of Ivanka Trump’s personal email use in the White House will be getting a hard look from House Democrats when they take power in January… The report prompted Sen. Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, the outgoing chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, to send letters to the White House requesting a written response and briefing… The action came the same day Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the likely incoming chairman of the House Oversight panel, said he would pressure Trump’s administration to turn over records about the use of private email for public business by Ivanka Trump, [Jared] Kushner and other senior officials.” [AP]

HEADLINE — Meet Carlos Lopez-Cantera: Florida’s first Jewish governor (for five days): “[Florida] will have its first Jewish governor on an interim basis for five days when [Rick] Scott is sworn into the Senate on Jan. 3, 2019. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera… will become the Sunshine State’s [governor]… until former Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis… is sworn in as governor on Jan. 8, 2019.” [JNS

** 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: Oren Katzeff to Succeed Dawn Ostroff as Conde Nast Entertainment President [HollywoodReporter• Roman Abramovich’s Tel Aviv Mansion Celebrates Old Tel Aviv Elegance [Calcalist]

STARTUP NATION — Computer vision: how Israel’s secret soldiers drive its tech success — by Mehul Srivastava: “When Ofir Schlam, the co-founder of Taranis, an Israeli agriculture tech start-up, was growing up on a farm in Israel, he would regularly wake at 5am to search through the crop for the tiniest caterpillars, pests and rot. Years later, when he joined the military and was attached to the prime minister’s office, he adapted that skillset to analyze thousands of surveillance images, looking for the smallest anomaly. One of his key senior executives at Taranis, Amihay Gornik, developed his expertise working at large aerospace companies, designing imaging parts for military drones.” [FinancialTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — How an obscure legal document turned New York’s court system into a debt-collection machine — by Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux: “Some U.S. states outlawed confessions in the middle of the 20th century, and federal regulators banned them for consumer loans in 1985. But New York still allows them for business loans. For David Glass, they were the solution to a problem: People were stealing his money. Among the hustlers and con men who work the bottom rungs of Wall Street, Glass is a legend. Before he was 30, he’d inspired the stock-scam movie Boiler Room. Later busted by the FBI for insider trading, he avoided prison by recording incriminating tapes of his old colleagues. Even his enemies say Glass… is one of the sharpest operators they’ve ever dealt with.”

“In 2009, while still on probation, Glass and a friend named Isaac Stern started a company called Yellowstone Capital LLC… In the aftermath of the financial crisis, banks were cutting back on lending just when small businesses most needed cash. Companies such as Yellowstone stepped in. They got around lending regulations by calling what they did “merchant cash advances,” not loans—a distinction judges recognize though there’s little practical difference… Yellowstone would hire anyone who could sell. A nightclub bouncer sat next to ultra-Orthodox Jews fresh out of religious school. The best brokers earned tens of thousands of dollars a month, former employees say; others slept at the office, fought, sold loose cigarettes, and stole from each other… To keep the troops focused, management would stack a pile of cash on a table and hold a drawing for closers.” [Bloomberg]

FILM — Rosamund Pike Dramatizes Marie Colvin’s Life Story — by Paige Williams: “The reporter Marie Colvin… was deployed to conflict after conflict… In 2012, Colvin ventured into Syria. After she reported that Bashar al-Assad’s forces were slaughtering civilians in the ravaged city of Homs, the media center where she was working was bombed, allegedly by the regime, which had discovered her location… The filmmaker Matthew Heineman recently turned Colvin’s life story into a film, “A Private War,” based on Marie Brenner’s posthumous Vanity Fair profile of the reporter and starring Rosamund Pike.” [NewYorker]

Holocaust Survivor, Now Living in Queens, Details Remarkable Triumph Over Tragedy — by Amanda Farinacci: “[Sam] Solasz rarely talked about his wartime experiences, how he repeatedly, improbably escaped death. But now Solasz is telling his story, in a memoir, “Angel of the Ghetto,” which details his harrowing life in Nazi-occupied Poland, including the infamous burning of the Great Synagogue of Bialystok with Jews locked inside… When the war ended, Solasz made his way to New York, working as a butcher for a large meat supplier. Today, Master Purveyors is an $85 million-dollar-a-year business with 80 employees… Solasz says he’s sharing his story so history doesn’t repeat itself. Citing the deadly shooting rampage at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, he says it’s an idea that’s not so farfetched.” [NY1]

Suit Accuses Dutch Museums of Holding On to Nazi-Tainted Art — by Nina Siegal: “Throughout World War II, the Dutch art dealers Benjamin and Nathan Katz sold art they owned, including works by Rembrandt and Jan Steen, to Nazi officials, in one case in exchange for exit visas… Three generations of the Katz family… say more than 140 of the works are held by the Dutch government to whom the Allies returned them after seizing them back from the Nazis… On Monday, an American heir of Benjamin Katz brought the dispute to the U.S. court system with a lawsuit that demands the Dutch government and the museums return 143 works.” [NYTimes]

ACROSS THE POND — Labour PM Clement Attlee took in Jewish child refugee who fled Nazis — by Rajeev Syal: “Clement Attlee, the Labour prime minister whose government founded the welfare state, looked after a child refugee who escaped from the Nazis in the months leading up to the second world war, it can be revealed. The then-leader of the opposition sponsored a Jewish mother and her two children… During [Paul] Willer’s stay [with his family], Attlee was formulating Labour’s policy to oppose Hitler’s advances towards the Sudetenland, a policy that led him to cast doubt upon Chamberlain’s Munich agreement and claims of “peace in our time”. … Willer will renew his bond with the Attlee family on Wednesday at the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport organized by the Association of Jewish Refugees.” [TheGuardian]

TALK OF THE NATION — Linda Sarsour apologizes to Jewish members of the Women’s March — by Ben Sales: “Linda Sarsour released a statement apologizing on behalf of the Women’s March for causing harm to the movement’s Jewish members and for being too slow to show its commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. “We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. We regret that,” said the statement, issued Tuesday afternoon.”[JTA]

John Podhoretz writes… “Words Spoken to My Daughter, One Week After the Horrors at the Tree of Life Synagogue: The theologian Emil Fackenheim said Auschwitz had required this of us—that we were not allowed to grant Hitler any posthumous victories. He called it the Commandment of Auschwitz. It is also the Commandment of the Tree of Life. The monster who slaughtered and wounded all those people wanted to kill Jews for being Jews. “All Jews must die,” he shouted as he murdered them… If you want to make Robert Bowers’s words turn to ash, follow in the footsteps of Abraham and Sarah. Live as a Jew. Have Jewish children.” [CommentaryMagazine

TALK OF THE TOWN — Ultra-Orthodox schools could face pressure under new NY regs: “Private and religious schools that don’t provide instruction “substantially equivalent” to New York state’s public schools will be threatened with loss of funding for textbooks, transportation and other services under new state Education Department rules. The guidelines… could have an immediate impact on ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools that critics have accused of providing little or no instruction in secular subjects like English and math.”[AP]

PIC OF THE DAY — A rabbi, identified as Rav Zeff Leff from Moshav Matisyahu, Israel, spotted studying during the Israel vs. Scotland Nations League soccer game. [Pic

Rabbi David Wolpe‏ with Frank Luntz on the field before the Rams-Chiefs game in LA. [Pic]

SPOTTED — Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) attended the wedding of the grandson of the Grand Rabbi of Bobov, Rebbi Ben Zion Aryeh Leibish Halberstam, held at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. [Pic]

NOMINATION — President Trump announced yesterday the nomination of Safra Catz as a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, among others.

MAZEL TOV — Keith Sonderling, senior policy adviser at the wage and hour division at the Labor Department, got engaged to Fara Klein, manager of government affairs at the American Forest and Paper Association. The couple met at a Jewish outreach event for Jeb Bush in Miami and were introduced by Lisa Spies. [Pic] h/t Playbook

TODAY IN HISTORY — FBI arrests Jonathan Pollard, Nov. 21, 1985. [Politico]

BIRTHDAYS — WEDNESDAY: British entrepreneur and philanthropist, Baron Harold Stanley Kalms turns 87… Academy Award-winning actress, Goldie Hawn turns 73… Founder, Chairman and CEO of Men’s Wearhouse (1973-2013), currently holding these same positions at Generation Tux, an online tuxedo rental platform, George Zimmer turns 70… Beverly Hills resident, Julie Shuer turns 66… US District Judge for the Northern District of California since 2014, she was the president of Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, CA (1998-2000), Judge Beth Labson Freeman turns 65… Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, Thomas Rothmanturns 64… VP of wealth management at the San Francisco office of Taylor Frigon Capital Management, he serves on AIPAC’s National Council, Jonathan Wornick turns 55… CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jonathan A. Greenblatt turns 48…

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and political commentator, editor of the Jerusalem Post (2002-2004), he moved from the WSJ to the New York Times in 2017, Bret Stephens (family name was Ehrlich) turns 45… Born in Teheran, his family emigrated after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, he is the founder and publisher of the business magazine The Real Deal, Amir Korangy turns 45… Political Director of ABC News, Rick Klein turns 42… Director of government relations at the Hershey Company, she was previously a deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Transportation, Joanna Liberman Turner turns 42… US foreign service officer, Danielle Hana Monosson turns 42… Reporter at Bloomberg News and Businessweek, Max Abelson turns 34… Judy Brilliant… Ruth Shapiro

THURSDAY: Majority owner of MLB’s New York Mets, he was a high school teammate of Sandy Koufax and went on to a successful career as a real estate developer, Fred Wilpon turns 82… Professor at NYU Law School, she served in the Carter and Clinton administrations and on the Obama transition team, she once taught Hebrew School in Pittsburgh, Sally Katzen turns 76… Novelist and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, he was formerly CEO of PJ Media, Roger Lichtenberg Simon turns 75… Born to a Jewish family in Tunisia, he served as a member of the Canadian House of Commons (1997-2006), Jacques Saada turns 71… Former president (1996-2010) of the 2.2 million member Service Employees International Union, now a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project, Andy Stern turns 68… Television personality with past shows on MSNBC, CNN and Bloomberg TV, formerly an advertising executive, Donny Deutsch turns 61… Marty Robinson turns 61…

Billionaire Ukrainian businessman best known for being the chairman of Dynamo Kyiv (Kiev’s soccer team) since 2002, Ihor Surkis turns 60… Senior editor and writer for The Daily Beast and columnist and editorial writer for the New York Daily News, Harry Siegel turns 41… Actress, model, singer and brand ambassador for Israel’s Sodastream home-carbonation company, Scarlett Johansson turns 34… Manager of public relations, communications and media relations for theSkimm, Jessica Sara Turtletaub turns 33… Actor, who has appeared in films directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, the Coen brothers and Warren Beatty, Alden Ehrenreich turns 29… SVP of Development for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Tim R. Cohen… Chief of Staff of Israel’s Embassy in Washington, Yarden Golan




Daily Kickoff: 2020 race is on; will other top Dems join Booker on anti-BDS? | Airbnb delists settlements | Kushner bros buy LES hotel

Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here or for early 7AM access via Debut Inbox

2020 WATCH — 2020 Democratic contenders already eyeing top staff in Iowa — by Thomas Beaumont: “Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has been especially aggressive in reaching out to potential staffers, according to multiple [people] who have spoken to him. That is in keeping with other early moves that suggest he would make a strong play in Iowa should he launch a campaign… Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick also have been in touch with top potential staffers and party organizers… Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, a relatively new name to the 2020 discussion, has been in contact with some influential Iowa Democrats, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo… has contacted Des Moines-area Democrats.” [AP]

Neighbors wage shadow campaigns in New Hampshire for 2020 — by Steve Peoples: “[Bernie] Sanders, 77, is considering a 2020 bid, a senior aide said. He is expected to make a final decision before Christmas, though an announcement is not expected until after New Year’s. Sanders’ team has been in regular contact with former staff and its broad base of supporters in New Hampshire and elsewhere, in addition to reaching out to some former Clinton backers.” [AP• Bernie Sanders to huddle with progressive leaders in Burlington [Politico]

Steyer takes step toward 2020 presidential bid — by Alex Thompson: “Former billionaire investor, climate activist and impeachment agitator Tom Steyer will take several steps toward a 2020 presidential bid Tuesday. That will include a six-figure web ad buy on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, along with a full-page ad in USA Today and other Gannett newspapers outlining a political platform, a revamped and the announcement of five town halls across the country.” [Politico]

Do wealthy CEOs have what it takes to be president? — by Brian Sozzi: “You can count leadership sensei and highly-regarded tech CEO Dan Schulman out of the 2020 race for the White House despite his impressive resume. PayPal’s 60-year-old CEO told me on a fintech panel discussion at the Museum of Finance that he has no plans to run for office. Schulman said he is very happy at PayPal and will continue to focus on using his perch atop the mobile payments giant to do good… “As I have gotten older, I have thought deeply about the state of our world and I think it’s incumbent upon business leaders to take stands for the values their companies stand for,” Schulman explained.” [YahooFinance]

2020 Democratic hopefuls keep distance from Israel anti-boycott bill — by Michael Wilner: “Most senators who have expressed an interest in running for president this cycle – Senators Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – have declined to join 57 of their colleagues to cosponsor the Israel Anti-Boycott Act… So far, only one senator widely expected to run– Cory Booker of New Jersey– has said he will change course and throw his support behind the legislation with co-sponsorship. “Initial concerns that this bill unintentionally infringed on individuals’ First Amendment rights have now been addressed by changes agreed upon earlier this year, and I feel confident that those modifications safeguard Americans’ constitutional right to free speech,” Booker told Jewish Insider, a Washington-based newsletter, earlier this month.” [JPost]

— NY Post editorial“Here’s another test of the Democratic Party’s rush to new extremes: Will any other 2020 candidates join Sen. Cory Booker in support of the bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Act?”

TOP TALKER — Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business last year — by Carol Leonnig and Josh Dawsey: “White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner. The discovery alarmed some advisers to President Trump, who feared that his daughter’s practices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton.”

“Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction… In a statement, Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for [Abbe] Lowell, acknowledged that the president’s daughter occasionally used her private email before she was briefed on the rules, but he said none of her messages contained classified information.” [WashPost]

JI INTERVIEW —  Congressman-elect Max Rose (D-NY) discussed his surprising victory over Republican incumbent Dan Donovan in a phone interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh while at orientation on Capitol Hill last week.

“We not only knew that we could win, but we always had a plan to win,” Rose said about his 6 percent margin victory over Donovan, who represented the more Republican-leaning district of Staten Island in New York City. “We did not run this race out of any allegiance to the Democratic Party. We ran this race with a goal of beginning the rewarding process of changing politics in this country and that’s what we are all about.”

Rose said that despite being a member of the Democratic majority, he intends to join the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY). “It’s important that we put the country first and that’s what I’m always going to be about, no matter how tough the decision is.” And when it comes to foreign policy, Rose says he would support President Donald Trump’s moves when necessary. “I am not in this to make sure Donald Trump does not get any wind. I am in this so I can make sure that America as a country and the world is safer, more prosperous, and a more just place, and I’ll work with anybody, this president included.”

Asked about his new colleagues in Congress who have shifted away from the traditional longstanding support of Israel, Rose — who pledged during the campaign to be both a proud Democrat and a proud supporter of Israel — said he believes in “quiet coalition building and relationship building” when it comes to Israel and the Middle East. “I believe that is central around supporting Israel, and I am committed to fostering our very strong and bipartisan relationship with Israel,” he added.

Rose attended AIPAC’s annual real estate luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan yesterday. [Pic]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu’s Coalition in Israel Survives, for Now — by Isabel Kershner: “The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel appeared to have averted collapse on Monday — at least for now — after a hawkish coalition partner backed down from a threat to defect… With elections due in November 2019, the remaining coalition partners are already in campaign mode and experts said the brittle government was unlikely to last more than a few months.” [NYTimesLATimes]

In Israel, a Coalition of the Barely Willing — by Neri Zilber: “The victory served as a reminder that Netanyahu, despite his legal trouble and his occasionally rebellious coalition partners, remains firmly in control of the Israeli political realm almost 10 years into his premiership with not a single rival on the left or right who can challenge his leadership.” [ForeignPolicy]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Israeli Government Crisis Raises Fresh Doubts for U.S. Peace Plan — by Felicia Schwartz and Dov Lieber: “The government crisis, while resolved for the moment, injected fresh uncertainty into a peace plan that Mr. Trump said he anticipated would be introduced by February… The Trump administration is carefully watching the lead up to Israeli elections, U.S. officials said. Polls must take place by November 2019. The team charged with the peace negotiations doesn’t want to add a possible trip wire for Mr. Netanyahu into the run-up to elections and could hold off on putting the proposals forward.”

“He’s not completely out of the woods,” said Emmanuel Navon, a senior fellow at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum… “Any schmuck in the coalition can blackmail him with whatever reason, it’s really hard to handle,” Mr. Navon added.” [WSJ]

Imminent release of US peace plan seen as highly unlikely — by Joyce Karam: “Talk of an imminent release of the US plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is “premature”, a senior Arab diplomatic source in Washington told The National… The diplomatic source, who has met with the peace team in Washington, said the release of the document… had not been decided… The administration has been holding meetings on the issue since last week. Under Secretary of State David Hale held a closed meeting with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer on Monday. Last week King Abdullah of Jordan visited Washington and held talks with the administration.”

“Robert Danin, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations… said it would be a mistake to publish the plan under current conditions. “It is a mistake to roll out a plan when conditions are so inauspicious, and without the buy-in of one of the two key negotiating partners, which is clearly the case right now,” he told The National… Ghaith Al Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, expected key Arab partners such as Jordan to urge caution and delay the release of the plan.” [TheNational]

U.S. Evangelicals Put Their Faith in Netanyahu as Trump Readies Mideast Peace Plan — by Amir Tibon: “Robert Stearns, an evangelical pastor who has led hundreds of groups on visits to Israel over the years, notes that evangelicals will have some clear “red lines” in any peace plan… The pastor notes that most evangelicals have the utmost respect for Netanyahu. If he were to come out against the Trump peace plan, that would have a strong impact.” [Haaretz]

Karen Deyoung on the future of the U.S.-Saudi relationship: “On the peace process, the administration wants the Saudis to deliver the Palestinians, through moral suasion or paying them off, or some combination,” said Anne Patterson, former President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for the Middle East… Jared Kushner… has cultivated a personal relationship with Mohammed [bin Salman] in hopes that he will lead the Arab world toward a new rapprochement with Israel.”

“While Mohammed’s father, King Salman, may be content to allow his son to lead on most issues, he has repeatedly made his views on the peace process clear. “The Palestinian cause is our main concern and will remain so until our brothers, the Palestinian people, gain all their legitimate rights, especially the establishment of their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Salman said Monday in his annual address to Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council.”[WashPost]

AT THE UN — Israel to quit global migration pact after requests from U.S. and Hungary — by Barak Ravid: “Israel is expected to withdraw from the UN Global Compact on Migration after requests from the U.S. and Hungary… The message from the Trump administration was that the U.S. would be pleased if Israel were to pull out… Netanyahu was asked today about the issue and said Israel is coordinated with the Trump administration and will act accordingly.” [Axios]

BUT… Israel votes against U.S. attempt to weaken UN measure on sexual harassment: “Trump’s administration sought to scrap language in the non-binding resolution on access to reproductive health care services, safe abortions and recognizing the right of women to decide on matters related to their sexuality… Two amendments to the text presented by the United States were rejected in votes at a General Assembly committee. Israel, which usually backs the U.S. position at the United Nations, voted against the U.S. proposals, as did European countries.” [ToI]

SPOTTED LAST NIGHT — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon at the American Friends of Rabin Medical Center annual gala held at the Plaza Hotel in New York. [Pic]

Airbnb Ends West Bank Settlement Listings, Causing Uproar in Israel — by Isabel Kershner: “On Monday, Airbnb, long under pressure from Palestinian officials, anti-settlement advocates and human rights groups to end its West Bank settlement listings, announced it would do just that. “We are most certainly not the experts when it comes to the historical disputes in this region,” the company said in a news release… In the end, the company said it would remove about 200 listings in West Bank settlements that “are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.” … Israel’s tourism minister, Yariv Levin, called on Airbnb to rescind its “discriminatory decision,” which he called “a disgraceful surrender.” [NYTimesGlobes]

Israel to turn to U.S. government over Airbnb removal of settlement listings — by Jeffrey Heller: “We will approach the U.S. government because 25 U.S. states have sanctions against American companies that boycott Israel,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said on Israeli Army Radio… Erdan said Airbnb “will have to explain why it is taking this discriminatory and racist line here in particular and not in other conflict zones in the world.” [Reuters]

Michael Oren tweeted Monday: “Airbnb blacklists Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria — not Palestinian apartments, not apartments in Turkish occupied Cyprus, in Moroccan occupied Sahara, not in Tibet or the Crimea. Airbnb’s policy is the very definition of anti-Semitism. No one should use its services.”

** 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: Jared and Josh Kushner buying luxe Lower East Side hotel [PageSix• Jonah Peretti’s Big Idea to Revive BuzzFeed’s Fortunes? A Merger With Rivals [NYTimes Bob Iger gets Fox approval in China[Variety Inside the Shady PR Firm That Attacked George Soros to Help Facebook [DailyBeast• Canadian mogul Sylvan Adams gives $5 million to Israel moon bid project [ToI• The story of Li Ka-shing, the billionaire who made early bets on Facebook, Spotify [TechInAsia• Arison selling 4.26 pct of Israel’s Bank Hapoalim for $385 million [Reuters]

SPOTLIGHT — Meet The Voice Designer Helping Amazon’s Alexa Be Part Of Your Family — by Amir Mizroch: “Adva Levin is a content producer and designer, and the founder of Pretzel Labs, an Israel-based game design studio that creates voice-first experiences for kids and families. She has been busy building application skills for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, focusing on playful voice interactions for families and children.” [Forbes]

Palantir, the Peter Thiel-backed company that sold big data services to ICE and NYPD, has a CEO who is a ‘self-described socialist’ — by Benjamin Goggin: “Palantir CEO Alex Karp is a self-proclaimed socialist, according to a Wall Street Journal report… Karp admitted to The Wall Street Journal that his family has expressed their displeasure with Palantir’s work and acknowledged that Trump-era politics has muddied Palantir’s saleability. Palantir has been reported to have contracts managing, sorting, and aggregating big data to the likes of the NSA, FBI, CIA, ICE, and numerous military agencies… So far, Palantir’s whole business model has been based on empowering federal and state bureaucracy, and certain corporations, with exclusive big data tools.” [BusinessInsider]

TALK OF THE NATION — Women’s March founder calls for group’s leadership to step down — by Megan Keller: “Teresa Shook, the woman who first suggested a women’s march following the inauguration of President Trump, is calling on four of the group’s leaders to step down, arguing they have steered the movement from its correct course. Shook specifically called out Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc., for allowing “anti-Semitism… and hateful, racist rhetoric” to become a part of the platform.” [TheHill]

Batya Ungar-Sargon writes… “The Women’s March Is Abusing Their Power — By Pretending It Doesn’t Exist: On Sunday night, Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of the Women’s March, broke her silence about Louis Farrakhan… While Sarsour acknowledges the “real pain, hurt and trauma” that Jews are currently experiencing, it is hard to read the statement and not see the Jewish community as its main antagonist. It casts the leaders of the Women’s March as the victims of a smear campaign organized first by two Jews and then by others who have called for Farrakhan to be denounced…The statement reinforces a tragic reality: The Women’s March has positioned itself in an oppositional relationship with the Jewish community.” [Forward]

LONG READ — The Truth About George Soros — by James Kirchick: “With Soros being one of several prominent Trump critics targeted by an attempted mail bomber last month, and in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, Americans—Jews and gentile alike—have become more alert to the poison of anti-Semitic rhetoric and where it can lead. Like any discussion about a billionaire liberal Jew heavily involved in politics and public policy, debates over Soros will be freighted with sensitivities over history, stereotypes, and innuendo. Yet there is a deep problem at play in the left’s umbrageous response to criticism of Soros, one which illuminates tensions at work within his extensive philanthropic efforts. The American conservative critique of George Soros carries a different valence than the European right-wing nationalist one… Many American conservatives oppose Soros not because he’s Jewish. They oppose him because he’s liberal.” [Tablet]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Swastika painted on Duke mural honoring synagogue victims: “University president Vincent Price said in a letter to the school community that a red swastika was painted Sunday night on the tribute to those who died in the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Price condemned the swastika as cowardly vandalism.” [AP]

Three Swastikas in 9 Days: Spate of Anti-Semitic Incidents on North Campus Stokes Fear — by Yuichiro Kakutani and Paris Ghazi: “In just nine days, three swastikas were reported on North Campus [at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York] — two in dorms and one near a dining hall. The anti-semitic signs were found across the residential area and provoked a mixture of surprise, concern and disgust amongst the Jewish community, freshmen and other Cornellians aware of the incidents.” [CornellSun]

Israeli television series Nebsu wins Emmy award — by Amy Spiro: “Israeli television comedy series Nebsu, which depicts the life of an Israeli couple with the man being an Ethiopian-Israeli and the woman an Ashkenazi-Israeli, won the Emmy award for best foreign comedy show on Monday night. The award was received by Yossi Wassa who created the show.”[JPostDeadline]

Netflix sparks outrage in Jordan after turning Amman street into ‘Israel’ — by Elizabeth MacLeod: “Netflix has committed a major faux pax in Jordan, transforming a street in the capital Amman into an Israeli street and sparking an outpouring of anger from Jordanians hostile to Israel. The set featured Hebrew-language street signs, cars with Israeli number plates and actors dressed as Israel Defense Force soldiers. According to The Times of Israel, the scenes were constructed over the weekend to portray Tel Aviv.”[Telegraph]

Inside Isaac Mizrahi’s cheeky one-man show — by Ian Mohr: “Isaac Mizrahi has launched his new one-man show, “I&ME” — which draws on material from his memoir, “I.M.,” to be published in February by Flatiron Books — at the Django jazz club at the Roxy Hotel through Dec. 4… Along with a trademark segment, in which he re-gifts items from swag bags he’s collected through the years to members of the audience, he also shares anecdotes about growing up gay in a small Jewish community in Brooklyn and scaling the heights of fashion.” [PageSix]

HORA ALERT — A reader sent us this photo of Sen. Chuck Schumer dancing with his daughter Alison at her wedding on Sunday [Pic]

TRANSITION — Trump nominates handbag designer Lana Marks as envoy to South Africa: President Donald Trump has nominated Lana Marks, CEO of the Lana Marks Collections design firm, to be the new U.S. ambassador to South Africa. Marks, who was born Lana Banks, grew up in the city of Port Elizabeth, where her family were prominent members of the city’s Jewish community. [ToI]

REMEMBERING — Romanian diplomat who fought anti-Semitism dies: “Romania’s government said Tuesday that diplomat Mihnea Constanescu, praised internationally for his efforts to combat anti-Semitism, has died. He was 57… US-based Jewish rights group Simon Wiesenthal Center called Constantinescu one of the “great figures of our generation in the fight against anti-Semitism.” Constantinescu chaired the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2016, contributing to the adoption of a working definition of anti-Semitism that year.” [AP]

BIRTHDAYS: Art dealer and former owner of MLB’s Miami Marlins (2002-2017) (a team known as the Florida Marlins until 2011), Jeffrey Loria turns 78… Former Vice President of the United States (2009-2017), Joe Biden turns 76… Actor, comedy writer and producer, best known for creating and performing the satirical stuntman character Super Dave Osborne, Stewart Robert “Bob” Einstein turns 76… Singer and songwriter best known for writing and performing the song “Spirit in the Sky,” Norman Greenbaum turns 76… National Security Advisor of the United States since April 2018, John R. Bolton turns 70… Major-General (reserves) in the IDF, he is a former combat pilot, military attaché to Washington and head of Aman (the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate), Amos Yadlin turns 67… Kings County, NY (Brooklyn) Supreme Court judge since 2015, previously a civil court judge (2008-2015) and a NYC Councilman (1983-2001), Noach Dear turns 65…

Pulitzer Prize-winning national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal (1993-2000), he is the author of six well regarded books, Ronald Steven “Ron” Suskind turns 59… White House official in both the Bush 41 and Bush 43 administrations, now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, Jay Lefkowitz turns 56… Board and Executive Committee member of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a trustee of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Heidi Monkarsh turns 54… American-born member of Knesset since 2016 for the Likud party, he campaigns for expanding Jewish access to the Temple Mount, Yehuda Glick turns 53… Hedge fund manager, founder and president of Greenlight Capital, David Einhorn turns 50… Attorney in Goulston & Storrs Boston-based real estate practice, Zev D. Gewurz turns 47… Anchor for Yahoo Finance, she was previously Bloomberg TV’s senior markets correspondent, Julie Hyman turns 42…

Political consultant and opposition research specialist for the DNC and for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, founder of Beehive Research, Devorah Adler turns 44… Chief relationship officer for NCSY’s Southern Region, Rabbi Benjamin Gonsher turns 39… Outfielder for four MLB teams, Cubs, Rays, Athletics and Twins (2007-2015), he played center field for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Sam Fuld turns 37… Senior manager at Saban Capital Group, the Saban Family Foundation and the Cheryl Saban Self-Worth Foundation for Women & Girls, Jesse Bronner turns 37… Actress and playwright, Halley Feiffer turns 34… Senior health care reporter for Politico Pro covering health care politics and policy in the states, Dan Goldberg… Michael Jankelowitz… James Goldman… Alexis Weiss




Daily Kickoff: Jewish groups supportive of Ilhan Omar’s rule change | Trump peace team to hold ‘crucial meeting’ | Schumer’s green kippah

Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here or for early 7AM access via Debut Inbox

TOP TALKER — A New York Times story entitled “Are Jared and Ivanka good for the Jews” drew strong reaction on social media over the weekend. In the article, authors Amy Chozik and Hannah Seligson note that the administration use of Kushner and Ivanka’s religion to push back against accusations that Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened anti-Semites, following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, “has unnerved many Jews who oppose the president.”

The article quoted Eric Reimer, a lawyer in New York who was on Kushner’s trivia team at The Frisch School, as saying, “We, as Jews, are forced to grapple with the fact that Jared and his wife are Jewish, but Jared is participating in acts of Chillul Hashem.” Rabbi Ethan Tucker of the Hadar yeshiva in New York further suggested that the couple would be snubbed when they eventually return to the city. “They certainly won’t be banned, but I don’t think most synagogues would give them an aliyah,” Tucker said.

John Podhoretz tweeted“This isn’t about how Jews hate Jared Kushner. It’s about how liberals hate Jared Kushner.”

Joe Kristol‏: “I understand why my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generation often asked, non-ironically, “is it good for the Jews?” Maybe it’s time to retire this formulation—along with “Renegade Jew” while we’re at it.”

Norm Eisen emails us… “The question was if they were good for our people, not if they are bad for us. There is a difference. They have not been good for us because they have not advanced Jewish or democratic values, and indeed have facilitated gross corruption, illegality and general racial animus. That includes being a part of an operation that advances anti-Semitism, such as the closing campaign ad targeting Jews using stereotypes and dog-whistles, or the ‘good people on both sides’ scandal.  They have also furthered the weaponizing of Israel as a partisan issue and pushed a series of strategic initiatives that in my opinion will leave Israel weaker in the long-term. So there has been no particular Jewish benefit. That is, however, different from saying they have been bad for the Jewish people in particular. They have been bad for everyone.”

Howard Wolfson‏: “Jews voted Democrat 79-17 in the midterms. The rest is just commentary.”

— RJC’s Matt Brooks replied“It’s a stupid and meaningless statistic with no predictive or analytical value. Tell me how the Jews voted in Scott/Nelson, DeSantis/Gilliam or Fitzpatrick/Wallace. That would be interesting and meaningful.”

Haim Saban tells the NYT from his hotel in Israel: “Jared and by extension the president understand the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel on multiple levels — security, intelligence, but most of all, shared values.”

— “In September, Mr. Kushner and his top advisers, Jason D. Greenblatt and Avi Berkowitz, hosted a private dinner at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side. Over a kosher meal, Mr. Kushner… fielded the advice of a range of Jewish leaders, including hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor Paul Singer and Mr. Saban, to craft his Middle East peace plan. “He called and said ‘I’ll bring 10 Republicans and you bring 10 Democrats,’” Mr. Saban said.”[NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the Jerusalem Leaders Summit held at the Knesset: “[Trump] is all about our relationship with Israel. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, is a very dear friend of mine, as is Ivanka. I talked to him not long ago when the tragedy occurred in Pittsburgh, the tragic attack there on a synagogue. He said, ‘Phil, I wish people would realize,’ and I think some of them do, that his grandchildren are Jewish. His son-in-law is Jewish. His daughter is Jewish… He understands how important this relationship is.” [Video]

Sam Sokol tweets on Sunday: “So I quit my synagogue over the pervasive anti-press attitude that many of my fellow congregants hold. Didn’t make a fuss. Didn’t announce anything. Just went to a different synagogue yesterday and don’t plan on going back to the old one.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — Jewish groups support Ilhan Omar’s rule change push: A new rule change proposed by Democrats would roll back a 181-year-old ban on hats in the House of Representatives and allow religious headwear like yarmulkes and hijabs to be worn by lawmakers. The proposal is backed by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jim McGovern (MA) and member-elect Ilhan Omar (MN), one of the two first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Several Jewish groups are supportive of the rule change.

Worth Noting — Omar received some criticism in the pro-Israel community when she announced last week that she “believes in and supports the BDS movement.” On the rule change issue, however, Omar has found support from prominent Jewish leaders.

Nathan Diament, Executive Director for the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, tells us… “The OU has long supported laws and policies that foster the accommodation of religious practices in the workplace. Religious practices – such as wearing religious garb, whether a kippah or a hijab, should be accommodated in all workplaces – including Congress.”

Avi Shafran, Director of Public Affairs at Agudath Israel of America… “While we haven’t seen the wording of the proposal, the Agudah has long been in the forefront of advocating for religious rights in the workplace and public spaces – both of which characterize the Congressional chambers. And so, just as we would want a Jewish Congressman to be able to wear a yarmulke in chamber, we would want a Muslim or Sikh representative to be able to hew to his or her religious convictions. That said, relaxing the rules on hats in general, where religious rights aren’t at issue, is not something we have any position on.”

Jewish Insider asked the RAC and Rabbinical Assembly for comment but they did not respond prior to press time.

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Israel avoids early elections as coalition is kept intact — by Tia Goldenberg: “Israel avoided early elections after… Naftali Bennett said his hard-line, pro-settler Jewish Home party would give Netanyahu another chance to address the security challenges facing Israel… “I tell the prime minister here: we are withdrawing right now all of our political demands and will stand to help you in this great mission of getting Israel to win again,” he said… While the move put off early elections for now, it keeps the governing coalition on shaky ground with only a slim 61-seat majority in Israel’s 120-seat parliament.” [APWashPost]

“On Monday morning, Netanyahu called it “irresponsible” to topple the government at this “sensitive security time.” Attending the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for the first time as Defense Minister, Netanyahu said, “Whether our partners decide to topple the government or not, we will continue to take action to ensure the security of our state and of our people. We will do so sensibly, responsibly and with determination.”[CNN• Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s political stalwart, survives another day[TheNational]

Why did Bibi seek to avoid early elections? Dan Arbell, a 25 year veteran of the Israeli Foreign Service and a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, tells us… “Netanyahu would like to set the playing field, as convenient as possible for him, and right now, the last few weeks have not been so good to him. Naturally, he feels this is not a good time to announce the elections. I feel he’s trying to buy time and hold the elections at a date which is likely more favorable to him when the memory of the recent crisis with Hamas is a distant memory. I think it’s politics and not security that is driving his consideration.”

Noah Efron, a professor at Bar-Ilan University,  emails us… “Netanyahu believes that if elections are held now, they will become a referendum on his government’s handling of Gaza, a poor starting point for an election campaign. But it goes deeper than that. Netanyahu has worked hard to draw back to the Likud votes that had, over the past decades, devolved to Bennett and Lieberman. An election called after Lieberman and Bennett resigned over putative government’s ‘weakness’ over Gaza would spur right-wing Likud voters to cast their ballots for the further right parties. This would deny Netanyahu the option of forming a government that includes Yesh Atid (and perhaps a new Benny Gantz party). It is a center-right government that Netanyahu seems to wish to lead because he thinks he can better rule with such a government… And, as perhaps a secondary matter, having a good portion of what is today the opposition in a government with him may prove useful once the first indictments come. Elections next fall, as opposed to this winter, will produce for Netanyahu a stronger Likud, a weaker niggling right, and increase the likelihood of a center-right government.”

David Horovitz writes… “How Netanyahu dwarfed his political rivals within: Netanyahu has for the umpteenth time given his would-be successors a political leadership masterclass, and apparently given his fractious, depleted coalition a little more breathing space… Some might wonder why he bothered. There is certainly an argument to be made that elections in spring might suit Netanyahu… It would presumably be easier for the state’s legal hierarchy to announce to the public that it is going to prosecute a prime minister who is facing new elections than one who has just been voted back into office. But since Netanyahu seems determined to stay on and fight even if he is indicted, that may not be a central consideration.” [ToI]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump, top advisers to meet about launch of Middle East peace plan — by Barak Ravid: “President Trump will hold a crucial meeting this week with his top national security and foreign policy advisers to discuss both the details of the White House’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and the timing for its release… U.S. officials said the current political crisis in Israel and the imminent announcement on early elections in the country will play a role in any decision Trump makes regarding the plan’s release… David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, flew to Washington this weekend to be there.” [Axios]

REPORT“Netanyahu is planning to reach out to the White House to try and push back the publication of the peace proposal until after elections.”

Aaron David Miller emails us… “Trump now faces a timing challenge with his peace plan. Putting it out during an election campaign is no longer the problem since elections isn’t in cards. But unless the plan is so pro-Netanyahu and poses no challenges for him on statehood or Jerusalem, offering it up in these charged political circumstances might cause the government to fall. And one thing is clear, Bibi isn’t interested in running a campaign defending Palestinian statehood.”

David Makovsky writes“Waiting until after early elections, U.S. officials may hope that the next Netanyahu government will incorporate centrist parties that are more receptive to President Trump’s ideas. The gaps between Netanyahu and Abbas make it unlikely that a U.S. peace plan could succeed anyway. Yet early elections could at least affect the Israeli political map at the margins. They also provide better timing for the Trump administration than the original schedule of November 2019, when the U.S. presidential campaign season would have made a peace push too difficult politically.”

Will Israeli defense minister’s exit impact Russia-Israel cooperation on Syria? — by Luiza Khlebnikova: “In Russia, some pro-Israeli experts who have advocated for a stronger response to Hamas attacks raised concerns over the departure of Lieberman. The concern is that Netanyahu’s backtracking on the operation in Gaza may send a wrong signal to Iran and Hezbollah over Israel’s resolve to tackle the security challenges they pose in the north of the country. This, the argument goes, may embolden Tehran and pro-Iranian militias, and thus create new risks for Russia’s own policies in Syria and its relationship with Israel.” [Al-Monitor• Benjamin Netanyahu battered by bungled Gaza raid [TheTimes]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — John Bolton Energizes Trump’s Agenda—And His Own — by Dion Nissenbaum: “Mr. Bolton’s ability to shape Mr. Trump’s priorities and pursue his own causes have given rise to a new nickname among some critics: President Bolton… “If John ever behaved in a way that led people in the administration to refer to him as ‘President Bolton,’ his effectiveness would be destroyed,” said Elliott Abrams, a longtime Bolton friend and one time member of President George W. Bush’s National Security Council. “It’s critical that the president never think that, and no one understands that better than John.”[WSJ]

2020 WATCH — Beto O’Rourke blows up the 2020 Democratic primary — by David Siders: “Sparked by his narrow defeat in a Texas Senate race, Beto O’Rourke is scrambling the 2020 presidential primary field… “He’s game changing,” said Robert Wolf, an investment banker who helped raise Wall Street money for Obama in 2008 and 2012. “If he decides to run, he will be in the top five. You can’t deny the electricity and excitement around the guy… A lot of people have comparisons around him and a Robert Kennedy or a Barack Obama. And the [Democratic] Party likes young, ambitious and aspirational.” [Politico]

GOP money group prepares opposition research blitz against Mike Bloomberg if he runs for president in 2020 — by Brian Schwartz: “America Rising, a super PAC whose targets have included Hillary Clinton, is preparing an opposition-research blitz against Bloomberg… It’s a sign that Republican Party insiders are taking the prospect of a Bloomberg run seriously.” [CNBC]

Bloomberg donates record $1.8B to Johns Hopkins — by Cristina Alesci: “Michael Bloomberg… is donating $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins. The university and Bloomberg are calling it the biggest contribution to an academic institution in American history, according to a press release — and the gift’s record-setting size will not be lost on possible challengers in a [2020] Democratic primary…  The gift will fund financial aid for qualified low- and middle-income students, allowing the university to forever make admissions decisions on a “need-blind” basis — without considering an applicant’s ability to pay.” [CNNNYTimes]

How the biggest donors’ candidates performed in the midterms — by Melissa Klein: “Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were the top donors, contributing $113 million, according to a list compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which was released Friday. The Adelsons were followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who gave $61.3 million… shipping supplier Richard Uihlein and his wife Elizabeth, who kicked in $39 million; and financier Donald Sussman, who donated $22.8 million… Bloomberg… spent a total of $110 million, including $8 million on state races, according to his office.”

“In all, Bloomberg got a hefty rate of return with 21 of 23 House candidates he backed winning their races… Adelson also got a bang for his buck by kicking in $25 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, whose mission is to expand the Republican majority.” [NYPost

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: With Facebook at ‘War,’ Zuckerberg Adopts More Aggressive Style [WSJ• Marc Benioff defends Salesforce’s contract with Customs and Border Patrol [Recode• Trouble in the Congo: The Misadventures of Glencore [Bloomberg• Wharton’s Amir Yaron Confirmed as Bank of Israel Governor [Bloomberg

STARTUP NATION — Israeli Investment House Offers Crypto Funds for Institutions — by Gwen Ackerman: “Silver Castle Ltd., Israel’s first dedicated cryptocurrency investment firm for institutional and accredited investors, launched two funds this month and expects to have $50 million under management by the end of the year… “We spent close to a year building robust infrastructure for managing other people’s money at the level of institutional grade with very, very high security,” Chief Executive Officer Eli Mizroch said.” [Bloomberg]

Developer Reed Cordish buys into Baltimore sports management firm after leaving White House — by Meredith Cohn: “Reed Cordish, who left his family’s development firm for a year-long stint leading a White House effort on infrastructure and government innovation, plans to announce that he has invested in a five-year-old Baltimore-based sports management agency. PFS Agency represents players in the National Football League players and was founded by NFL agents Dan Saffron and Jon Herbst.”[BaltimoreSun]

Hollywood power crowd hosting fundraiser for wildfire relief — by Ian Mohr: “A power crowd of Malibu regulars — including… Rande Gerber… U2 manager Guy Oseary… producer Lawrence Bender and financier Vivi Nevo — are hosting a Woolsey Fire Fundraiser on Friday night.”[PageSix]

PROFILE — How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross — by Jolie Kerr: “It’s fair to say Terry Gross knows some things about talking to people. The host and co-executive producer of NPR’s “Fresh Air” has interviewed thousands of personalities over the course of her four-decade career… Ms. Gross brings a combination of empathy and rigorous preparation to the job. “I read, watch or listen to as much of the person’s work as possible, so I have an understanding of what makes them, or their story, important,” she said… One thing she does not allow of her interview subjects, however, is input on the edit. “When the interview is over, you don’t have a chance to call back and say, ‘Well I like my answer to this, I don’t like my answer to that, can you edit that out,” she said.” [NYTimes]

Inside Christian Jerusalem’s New Makeover — by Neri Zilber: “The Terra Sancta Museum (Latin for “Holy Land”) is located near the start of the Via Dolorosa… Up the Via Dolorosa is the Convent of the Flagellation, inside of which the museum is located. Appropriately for the Old City, the convent sits just past a row of Palestinian carpet merchants, across the street from the exit to the Western Wall subterranean tunnels (a major Israeli/Jewish attraction), and around the corner from a Muslim-only entrance to the Haram al-Sharif compound.” [DailyBeast]

‘We were kidnapped by El Al’ say passengers on horror flight from New York — by Jeremy Sharon: “Passengers on the nightmare El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv on Thursday night have accused the airline of lying and of a “kidnap” after a five-hour delay in taking off meant that the plane could not reach Israel before Shabbat began. Despite El Al’s initial statement alleging that haredi fliers had been violent, numerous passengers stated subsequently that there had been no violence at all, with many blaming the late arrival of the cabin crew to the airport for the severe delay and failure to reach Israel on time.” [JPostDailyMail]

TALK OF THE TOWN —  Michigan rabbi leads caravan of faith to help immigrant kids in Texas — by Niraj Warikoo: “As someone rooted in Jewish tradition, [Rabbi Josh] Whinston of Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor said his faith and the faith of other religions compels them to help the stranger.  So the 37-year-old rabbi launched an effort to lead a multi-faith caravan from Michigan and other states to drive to Tornillo, Texas, to help immigrants and refugees in shelters and the growing tent camp… The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting — which was carried out by a man who targeted Jews because he said they supported immigrants and refugees — added to the urgency of their mission. “That man murdered 11 of my brothers and sisters not only because they were Jews but because of the values we hold,” said Whinston.” [DetroitFreePress]

Flyers with KKK logo, hate speech found in Howard Co. — by Keara Dowd: “Howard County police are investigating after fliers containing hate speech and a Ku Klux Klan logo were found in Ellicott City, Maryland. Police collected around 40 fliers that appeared to be tossed along Main Street.”[WTOP]

Ex-NYPD police chief Raymond Kelly on how to fight surge in anti-Semitic crimes: “For the last 12 months we have been on a mission to assess the depth, manifestation and trajectory of anti-Semitism in key European countries as well as the physical security of the Jewish diaspora, personally commissioned by Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress… So what can be done? First, every Jewish institution needs to develop a comprehensive security plan, including active-shooter drills, functioning alarm systems and the use of CCTV cameras.  In Europe, virtually all of the Jewish institutions we visited had installed a “double door” system…” [NYPost• Spotted: Kelly at the World Jewish Congress awards gala on November 7th[Pic]

MAZEL TOV — Chuck Schumer’s daughter weds in Brooklyn — by Reuven Fenton and Aaron Feis: “Alison Schumer, the younger of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s two daughters, married Elizabeth Weiland on Sunday in Brooklyn, with the couple posing for wedding photos on a bridge over the toxic Gowanus Canal. Alison Schumer, 29, is a six-figure product-marketing manager at Facebook… Sen. Schumer showed up for his daughter’s big day wearing a green yarmulke.” [NYPost]

Via PlaybookJenna Sakwa and Jake Kastan got married on Saturday at Franklin Hills Country Club in Franklin, Michigan. Jake is [Paul] Ryan’s political director, and Jenna is director of media affairs. Dan Senor led the hora in his New York Jets kippah. [Pic]

BIRTHDAYS: Award winning television and radio host including the eponymous “Larry King Live” nightly show on CNN from 1985 to 2010, Larry King (born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger) turns 85… Retired New York State Supreme Court judge, whose tenure on the television program “The People’s Court” was far shorter than that of his wife “Judge Judy,” Jerry Sheindlinturns 85… Attorney, investment banker and major fundraiser for the Democratic party, he served as US Ambassador to the United Kingdom (2009-2013), Louis B. Susman turns 81… Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, Richard Zare turns 79… Fifteen term member as a Democrat in the US House of Representatives from New York (1983-2013), since 2018 he is a partner in NYC-based Gotham Government Relations, Gary Ackermanturns 76… Fashion designer Calvin Klein turns 76… Following a 27-year career as a Professor at Princeton, in 2004 she became President of the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann turns 69… Los Angeles based real estate investor, Sydney Cetner turns 69… Owner of Patty’s Piano Studio in Los Angeles, Patricia Fiden turns 65…

Member of the California State Senate since 2014, he was previously a member of the California State Assembly (1996-2002) and Speaker of the California State Assembly (2000-2002), Robert Myles “Bob” Hertzberg turns 64… University professor of Jewish history, literature and law at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel turns 63… Hollywood screenwriter, producer, director and lyricist, best known as the writer of “Being John Malkovich,” Charlie Kaufman turns 60… Angel investor, investment banker and President of Sunrise Financial Group, Nathan Low turns 58… Member of the Knesset (2003-2016) originally for the Likud party and then as head of the Kulanu party, he has served as Israel’s Minister of Finance since 2015, Moshe Kahlon turns 58… Vice President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and director of its Washington, DC office, Lisa Eisen turns 55… Author of over 30 books, television host and Chabad Rabbi in Oxford, England (1988-99), Rabbi Shmuley Boteach turns 52… Senior Director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Seth Cohen turns 45… Member of the New York State Assembly since 2005, Andrew D. Hevesiturns 45… New York Times best-selling novelist, she is also a professor at Rutgers University-Camden, Lauren Grodstein turns 43… Digital director and executive editor of Time Magazine, Samuel P. Jacobs turns 33…

Kafe Knesset for August 14

Monday, August 14, 2017

The dramatic anti-Semitic images from the Charlottesville white supremacist rally took over Saturday’s headlines in Israel, but prompted only minimal reactions from Israeli politicians. The only official government…

Kafe Knesset for August 11

Friday, August 11, 2017

A witch hunt? Israelis are not buying it: Another roller coaster week of intense public engagement with Netanyahu’s legal and criminal affairs has come to an end. Everyone…

Kafe Knesset for August 10

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Trumpification of Bibi: It appears that Netanyahu is more emboldened in the Trump era. He seems to be asking himself, ‘If Trump can get away with these…

Kafe Knesset for August 9

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Three cheers for Bibi: Thousands of Likudniks are expected to gather this evening in Tel Aviv for a mass rally and demonstration of support for Netanyahu. The rally…

Kafe Knesset for August 8

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

When it rains, it pours: Trouble just continues to pile up on PM Netanyahu’s desk. Against the backdrop of the numerous investigations, the Supreme Court ordered the PM…

Kafe Knesset for August 7

Monday, August 7, 2017

Likud without Netanyahu? As the Prime Minister’s corruption cases heat up, a new poll on Channel 10 shows something that Netanyahu probably did not want to hear –…