Daily Kickoff: Trump targets Michael Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman | Steny Hoyer: Israel should control Golan | Mark Zuckerberg, GOAT slayer

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DRIVING THE CONVO — The U.S. recognized Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó as its legitimate head of state after Guaidó declared himself interim president yesterday. Nicolás Maduro responded furiously by cutting diplomatic ties with the United States. Fearing for the safety of the Jewish community in Venezuela, Israel has remained silent on Guaidó, while the Palestinian Authority condemned the “direct intervention of some countries in the internal affairs of Venezuela by supporting an attempted coup against President Nicolás Maduro.”

SCENE LAST NIGHT — In the middle of a speech from the president of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, Israel’s Consul General in New York, Dani Dayan, rose from his front row seat and, along with his entourage, noticeably stormed out of the gala.

The incident — described by several in attendance— occurred when Adi Stern, president of the Bezalel Academy, warned that freedom of expression in the U.S., as in Israel, is under attack. “That’s not true,” shouted Dayan, interrupting Stern’s speech. When Stern resumed his prepared remarks noting that Bezalel will be at the forefront of the battle for democracy, the Consul General got up and “stormed out” of the hall with his security detail, according to those accounts, and also later confirmed by Dayan. Dayan told JI that he found it upsetting that Stern was “slandering” Israeli society in order to raise money in New York.

Guests related that attendees and the leadership of Bezalel were puzzled by Dayan’s reaction. One attendee labeled it “uncharacteristic and completely not warranted,” while another called it “just weird.” Asked to respond to those who felt it was an overreaction and not diplomatic to stage a walk out at the event, Dayan replied, “My presence there could have been interpreted as corroborating his outrageous claims.” [JewishInsider]

Greatest (Slaughterer) Of All Time? — Mark Zuckerberg once killed and served his own goat to Jack Dorsey — by Emily Smith and Sara Nathan: “Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg killed one of his own goats and served it up cold to Jack Dorsey for dinner… The Twitter CEO revealed to Rolling Stone that mild-mannered Zuckerberg massacred the goat with a laser gun and a knife, then cooked it… Asked if Zuckerberg slaughtered the goat in front of him, Dorsey responded, “No. He killed it before.” [PageSix]

Jack Dorsey: Twitter Nazis Are Here to Stay — by Bess Levin: “In an interview with Rolling Stone published Wednesday, Dorsey was asked about the frequent calls to “get the Nazis off Twitter,” to which he initially offered the near-incomprehensible response, “[The topics of] abuse and our policies have been much more pronounced recently. And it comes in the form of categorizing people as Nazis and wanting them removed. People are definitely not satisfied with our progress there. It’s not as simple as what the reply would indicate, but it is work that needs to be done.” Then, after being informed that the site has not gotten rid of a number of “professed white nationalists,” Dorsey essentially blamed non-Nazi Twitter users for failing to do the company’s job.”[VanityFair] • Farhad Manjoo: Never Tweet [NYTimes]

Twitter is hosting the World Jewish Congress at its headquarters in New York City today as part of a new #WeRemember campaign. The event will feature the testimony of Holocaust survivor Toby Levy, followed by a panel discussion on ways to combat hate online and off.

SNEAK PEEK — Excerpts from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s forthcoming book, Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics, set for release on Jan. 29:

In chapter 18, titled “Jared Meltdown,” Christie describes Jared’s emotional reaction to his appointment as chairman of the transition team on May 6, 2016, one of their first face-to-face interactions since the Charles Kushner case. “I don’t think we should rush on this,” Jared told his father-in-law and Corey Lewandowski, the then-campaign manager as they were finalizing the press release announcing Christie’s appointment.

Christie writes: “He sounded like a person who’d been holding poison inside himself for a very long time. ‘You really want to know why?’ Jared asked. ‘Because I don’t trust him to have this, and you know why I don’t trust him to have it… He tried to destroy my father. ’…‘This was a family matter,’ Jared said, ‘a matter to be handled by the family or by the rabbis’ — not by a hard-charging federal prosecutor. Jared glanced at me, then fixed his gaze on his father-in-law, Donald. ‘How can he be trusted to handle the transition.’”

After this, Trump suggested the following: Resolve the Christie-Kushner dispute over a dinner: “Donald laid it out. ‘Me and Chris, you and your dad. What if we all go out to dinner and just try to resolve this?’ I have to say I breathed a small sigh of relief when Jared refused to bite on Donald’s deal. I could hardly imagine a tenser gathering. ‘I don’t think there’s any way that my father is ready to have dinner with the governor,’ Jared said… The whole thing was just too surreal.”

The feud came to an end the next day when Jared called Christie into the office after the formal announcement and offered a truce: “You and I should put all this behind us, Governor…It’s all in the past as far as I am concerned. We have to do what is best for the campaign.” As he mentions several times in the book, Christie closes the chapter by saying, “Things didn’t quite turn out that way.”Read other key excerpts here [JewishInsider]

ON THE HILL — Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), along with by Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), introduced a House Resolution rejecting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the U.S. and around the world ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27th. “The House of Representatives rejects anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world,” the resolution reads, as it details recent anti-Semitic incidents and remarks.

A spokesperson for Rep. Zeldin told JI that the New York Republican reached out to Democrats for support, but would not provide any names. “It can come to the floor without being bipartisan, but the Congressman welcomes anyone of any party to cosponsor the resolution before it is introduced in the House as he reiterated in a Dear Colleague letter inviting them to sign on today,” said Katie Vincentz, Zeldin’s Communications Director.

The resolution also singles out Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over her support of the BDS movement and association with pro-Hezbollah activist  Abbas Hamideh, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her 2012 tweet suggesting that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”

— Vincentz maintained that Omar’s apology earlier this week was “one step forward, seven steps backward.” Adding, “The fact that the tweet was published in the first place and was allowed to perpetuate the hate it incited for over 6 years is another reason why we need the resolution — to be clear this type of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hate will not be tolerated from the moment it happens. Rep. Steve King also apologized for his remarks, but that resolution was still voted on afterwards and passed, rightfully so.”

TOP TALKER — Israel asks U.S. to amend law that would cut aid to Palestinian security forces — by Barak Ravid: “Israeli officials tell me they have asked the Trump administration to amend the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) that would essentially end aid for the Palestinian Authority’s security forces… The law is slated to go into effect Feb. 1, and with the government shutdown continuing with no immediate end in sight, a legislative fix is not expected to be enacted in time… Prime Minister Netanyahu’s aides and the Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer have reached out to the White House, State Department and members of Congress asking to find some kind of arrangement to ensure U.S. aid to the Palestinian security forces continues.” [Axios]

Sander Gerber, known as the architect of the Taylor Force Act, emails us: “PA security forces do stop bad actors that both threaten Israel and the PA itself. Israel as a sovereign nation can choose to fund this security cooperation, but should not seek to place the burden on the U.S. taxpayer, particularly at the expense of American victims of Palestinian terror operations.”

AIPAC’s Marshall Wittmann: “We have a long standing position in support of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

SCOOPLET — In response to an inquiry from JI about the status of the Golan Heights, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s spokesperson relayed that the Congressman believes that “Israel should maintain control of the Golan Heights.”

This comment comes in the context of growing support among Democrats for a U.S. move to formally recognize Israeli control over the Golan Heights, which Israel gained from Syria in the Six Day War in 1967, and effectively annexed in 1981. When asked if this meant the Maryland representative supported formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, Hoyer’s spokesperson didn’t have more to comment. Last week, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) sent a letter to President Trump urging him to recognize Israeli control of the Golan. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is also supporting the move.

REPORT — Netanyahu may visit King Mohammed VI in Morocco: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may visit King Mohammed VI of Morocco in the country’s capital Rabat, Moroccan media reported… According to the report, the visit will take place following Pope Francis’s visit to Morocco on March 30.” [JPost]

STATE-SIDE  — Judge lets Arkansas law against Israeli boycotts stand — by Andrew DeMillo: “A federal judge on Wednesday let stand an Arkansas law requiring state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel… U.S. District Judge Brian Miller dismissed the lawsuit the Arkansas Times had filed challenging the 2017 law. The newspaper had asked the judge to block the law, which requires contractors with the state to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don’t sign the pledge… Miller wrote that refusing to purchase items isn’t protected speech.” [AP]

Bill Would Label Criticism of Israel in Florida Schools Anti-Semitic — by Jerry Iannelli: “If enacted, the measure from Palm Beach County Rep. Mike Caruso, a Republican, would ban both obvious and abhorrent cases of anti-Semitism (denying the Holocaust, calling for attacks on Jewish people, etc.) and criticism of the Israeli state. The bill would force all public institutions in Florida, from kindergarten through public university, to “take into consideration anti-Semitism when determining if a practice or act was discrimination on the basis of religion.” [MiamiNews

ON THE GROUND — The New Iron Curtain: Russian Missile Defense Challenges U.S. Air Power — by Thomas Grove: “Russia’s S-400 antiaircraft missile system, a nettlesome and potentially deadly aerial shield, is changing the calculus of the U.S. and its allies in potential hot spots, beginning with its deployment in Syria. Radar employed by the S-400… casts a net around western Syria that stretches from Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea to Israel.”[WSJ] • Russia says ‘arbitrary’ Israeli air strikes on Syria must stop [Reuters]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Michael Cohen Indefinitely Postpones Testimony to Congress — by Maggie Haberman: “Michael Cohen… indefinitely postponed his congressional testimony set for next month… Mr. Cohen’s lawyer Lanny J. Davis cited verbal attacks from Mr. Trump, who had begun suggesting after Mr. Cohen agreed to testify that one of his relatives be investigated for unspecified crimes… Mr. Trump has referenced the Eastern European background of Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, to imply that Mr. Shusterman has ties to organized crime. No evidence has emerged to back up that suggestion. Mr. Shusterman was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty in 1993, a year before Mr. Cohen married his daughter, to cashing $5.5 million in checks to evade federal reporting requirements. It is not clear that Mr. Trump is aware of that case. A retiree, Mr. Shusterman emigrated to the United States in the early 1970s after facing anti-Jewish persecution in Soviet-controlled Ukraine, Mr. Cohen has told friends.” [NYTimesPolitico]

PALACE INTRIGUE — Giuliani’s Fate Is Uncertain After Botched Interviews — by Gabriel Sherman: “According to sources, a debate is playing out inside the West Wing over Giuliani’s future. Trump is being encouraged by several people, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, to dump Giuliani before it’s too late, while outside advisers Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie are lobbying Trump to keep Giuliani.”[VanityFair]

Kushner thrusts himself into middle of shutdown talks — by Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa: “Jared Kushner spoke up at a recent Oval Office meeting about cutting a deal to end the government shutdown… After listening to Kushner… Trump glanced at the others in the room. “Apparently, Jared has become an expert on immigration in the last 48 hours,” Trump said… The remark, described by one White House official as playful, underscored the latest power shift inside the White House: Kushner has emerged as an omnipresent and assertive player in the now-33-day impasse.” [WashPost]

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Nir Hefetz, who was the Netanyahu family’s most trusted spokesman until he became a state witness, recorded the Netanyahus’ behavior in almost daily entries in diaries… Netanyahu’s attorneys published a letter Wednesday that they sent to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, complaining about daily leaks to Israeli media by investigators involved in the corruption cases against him… Orit Galili-Zucker, a political branding consultant who once worked for Netanyahu, believes said Benny Gantz could appeal to voters fed up with politics and Netanyahu “but always glad on the other hand to see Gaza destroyed.”

2020 WATCH — Jason Zengerle spent a few months with Bernie Sanders to figure out what he wants to do next… As he considers throwing his hat into the ring, Joe Biden is facing scrutiny for a paid speech he gave last fall that helped Rep. Fred Upton, a vulnerable Republican, win re-election in Michigan… Veteran campaign finance lawyer Marc Elias, who signed on with the Kamala Harris campaign as general counsel, has a non-exclusive agreement that will allow him to provide services to other 2020 candidates, according to NYTimes’ Shane Goldmacher

TALK OF DAVOS — Why Davos is the capital of the Resistance — by Matthew Walther: “Davos is the Iowa State Fair, except instead of farmers and regionally famous bakers and carnies it’s the amorphous class of people who do non-jobs: not only investment banking and “asset” management, but consulting, “start-ups,” marketing, PR, “events.” [TheWeek]

— HAPPENING TODAY: George Soros may go after China in remarks at his annual dinner at the Seehof. At Canada Cannabis House, Anthony Scaramucci interviews former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is now chairman of a medical marijuana company called InterCure.

** 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: Sumner Redstone probate case — after three-year court slog — finally ends in victory for family [LATimesHollywoodReporter] • Can Sheryl Sandberg’s Apology Tour Restore Facebook’s Image (and Stock Price)? [VanityFair] • Why Billionaire Sam Zell Just Bought Gold For The First Time In His Life [Forbes] • Israel cabinet expected to approve medical cannabis exports [Reuters]

STARTUP NATION — Lumigo scores $8M seed to help manage serverless operations — by Ron Miller: “Lumigo, an Israeli startup, announced a healthy $8 million seed round today, as it emerged from stealth to help companies monitor serverless architecture. Investors include Pitango Venture Capital, Grove Ventures and Meron Capital. The company was started by a couple of ex-Checkpoint execs, Erez Berkner and Aviad Mor.”[TechCrunch] • Tech, tourism, and anti-Semitism drive up luxury real estate in Israel [BusinessInsider]

SPOTLIGHT — David Einhorn’s Greenlight Hit by Investor Redemptions — by Rachael Levy: “Mr. Einhorn’s hedge-fund firm now manages about $2.5 billion, Greenlight told clients Tuesday evening at the firm’s annual meeting at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. That is down from about $5.5 billion as of the middle of last year. The drop marks a new low for one of Wall Street’s most well-known hedge funds. Just five years ago, Greenlight would have counted as one of the industry’s largest hedge funds, managing $12 billion. Mr. Einhorn is one of a handful of managers, including John Paulson and William Ackman, who rose to prominence during the financial crisis, making large bets that paid off as the market crumbled… To stem the redemptions, Greenlight told clients Tuesday it would allow new investments for the first time in years.” [WSJ]

Carolyn Maloney is working on a bill to target LLCs in real estate: “Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said she’s hoping to introduce a bipartisan bill that would force every LLC to reveal its owners, the New York Post reported… A poster child for the problem has been 650 Fifth Avenue, the report said. The 35-story high-rise was built by the last Shah of Iran before he was overthrown, and later transferred to entities that are tied to the terror-supporting country. Iran has allegedly taken in millions of dollars from rental fees from tenants like Marc Rich, a commodities trader and tax fugitive who sold Iranian oil to Israel despite sanctions. Federal authorities, however, weren’t able to tie the country’s government to the property after years of investigation.” [TheRealDealNYPost]

PROFILE — Meet J.B. Pritzker, a Duke Trustee, governor and richest current U.S. elected official: “In the two classes Pritzker took with C. Eric Lincoln—professor of religion and culture at Duke from 1976 to 1993 and author of books on black Muslims in America—Pritzker learned a lot about civil rights advocacy and leadership, such as the relationships between African-American activists and civil rights activists outside and inside government. However, his parents had already played a large role by instilling their values in Pritzker. ‘I’ve spent my whole life as an advocate expanding civil rights and individual rights because my parents were progressive Democrats and were involved in issues like fighting for women’s rights,’ Pritzker said.”

“Pritzker helped lead the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center that teaches more than 60,000 students and teachers every year to fight bigotry, hatred, and intolerance. ‘I am a Jew who comes from a family that is only alive in this country because they were going to be killed in their home country of Ukraine when Jews were being chased and oppressed and killed,’ Pritzker said.” [DukeChronicle]

SPORTS BLINK — Robert Kraft teams with Jay-Z, Meek Mill in starting criminal justice reform organization — by Lorenzo Reyes: “Sports and entertainment figures including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin, recording artist and entrepreneur Jay-Z, and recording artist Meek Mill announced the foundation of a criminal justice reform organization called REFORM Alliance.” [USAToday] • Kraft discussed NFL officiating, laser pointers, and Tom Brady in ‘Good Morning America’ interview [Boston

Subterranean 1,500-year-old cistern complex hidden under Jerusalem playground — by Amanda Borschel-Dan: “Back in 2005, the Israel Antiquities Authority received word that at a Jerusalem neighborhood playground, the sand was being swallowed up into the earth. After initial testing by IAA archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch, it was discovered that the sand box was constructed directly above an ancient water cistern. Today, as the Jerusalem Municipality begins a renovation of the Katamon neighborhood playground, the IAA and the municipality are in talks to decide whether the 1,500-year-old water cistern can be turned into a national site along the lines of Ramla’s subterranean Pool of Arches.” [ToI]

LONG READ — A Guided Tour of Hebron, from Two Sides of the Occupation — by Masha Gessen: “The stories of Hebron are the stories of the absent and the unseen… Hebron is divided in such a way that some will only ever see the empty streets, while others see a crowded and bustling town—one bound by fences, walls, and barbed wire, beyond which the emptiness begins… For several years, two activist groups, one Israeli and one Palestinian, have been leading tours of the occupation of Hebron. I recently went on both, crossing from the living city of Hebron to its hollow shadow and back several times.” [NewYorker]

TALK OF THE TOWN — The Horrors of Auschwitz at a Museum in New York — by Ralph Blumenthal and Joseph Berger: “The exhibition, titled “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.,” is aimed at refocusing the Museum of Jewish Heritage into one that will delve more deeply into the Holocaust… “This exhibit reminds them, and it reminds all of us, where anti-Semitism ultimately leads,” said Ronald Lauder, the philanthropist who helped raise $110 million to preserve Auschwitz. “And the world should never go there again.” Heritage Museum officials said they anticipate spending $8.5 million on the project, split between the cost of installing the exhibition and the cost of other building improvements that are timed to coincide with it.“ [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE NATION — ADL Report: ‘Right-Wing Extremism’ Responsible for Almost All 2018 Hate-Related Murders — by Aaron Bandler: “The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) latest report on murder and extremism found that “right-wing extremism” was responsible for almost all hate-related murders in 2018. According to the report, at least 50 people were killed in 2018 as a result of violent extremism, putting 2018 behind only 1995 (184), 2016 (72) and 2015 (70) in terms of extremist killings.”[JewishJournal]

TRANSITION — Kristen Silverberg will be the new EVP for policy at Business Roundtable. She most recently was managing director at the Institute of International Finance and is a Bush 43 alum and served as U.S. ambassador to the European Union. (h/t Playbook)

DESSERT — Hannah Bronfman on traveling — by Alex Postman: What are some (healthfully indulgent) restaurants you would fly for? I would go back to Israel to go to some of the places we ate. We went to Machneyuda in Jerusalem and had this delicious fish pot, almost like a seafood boil.” [CNTraveler]

How these Jewish women launched challah baking businesses and got thousands of Instagram followers  — by Josefin Dolsten: “Since starting Mandylicious Challah in 2013, Mandy Silverman has seen her enterprise grow both locally — delivering some 50 loaves every week in Sharon, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb — and internationally, dispensing challah-baking advice… Silverman, 40, is among a growing number of home bakers making a business out of their love of all things challah. Most post their interpretations of the traditional braided Shabbat and holiday loaves on social media, and reach local customers through word of mouth.” [JTA]

BIRTHDAYS: Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, previously Deputy National Security Advisor in the Bush 43 administration and Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, Elliott Abrams turns 71… Chicago-based Talmudic scholar, he served as the chief judge of both the Beth Din of America and the National Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz turns 94… Executive producer of the CBS series Blue Bloods, he was head of programming for ABC and president of 20th Century Fox, Leonard J. Goldberg turns 85… Singer-songwriter, musician and actor, one of the world’s best-selling recording artists of all time, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil Diamond turns 78… Born in Tel Aviv, 2011 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, Professor at Technion and Iowa State University, Dan Shechtman turns 78… Soviet-born comedian, actor and writer, emigrated to the US in 1977, noted for the catch phrase “What a country,” Yakov Smirnoff (born Yakov Naumovich Pokhis) turns 68… Conductor, violinist, and violist, who has performed with leading symphony orchestras worldwide, Yuri Bashmet turns 66… Principal at Opera Solutions, a global data analytics consulting firm, Daniel Flamberg turns 65…

Founder of an online software training website which was acquired by LinkedIn in April 2015 for $1.5 billion, Lynda Weinman turns 64… West Hempstead, NY resident, he is a board member of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, Beryl Eckstein turns 61… NYC-based senior correspondent for Fox News since 1997, Rick Leventhal turns 59… Former CEO of Ford Motor Company (2014-2017), now a senior advisor at private equity firm TPG Capital, Mark Fields (his family’s original name was Finkelman) turns 58… B’nei mitzvah coordinator at Temple Beth Am of Los Angeles, Judith Alban turns 57… Founder and executive director of Protect Democracy, he served as associate White House counsel (2009-2011), Ian Bassin turns 43 (h/t Playbook)… Editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times, formerly editor-in-chief of Chabad News and news editor at Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Joshua Runyan turns 38… TACKMA’s Jeffrey Schottenstein turns 33…




Daily Kickoff: Iran the only victor of Iraq war says U.S. Army | Tom Friedman: Israeli-PA peace not the key to Mideast stability | Trending: Schmaltz

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DEALING AT DAVOS — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that the Trump administration would roll out their anticipated peace plan after the Israeli Knesset elections on April 9th. “We’ve begun to share elements of this across the region,” Pompeo said in remarks via satellite to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday. “It won’t be a U.S.-driven process. Ultimately, the Israelis and the Palestinians will have to come to an agreement. But we think that the foundations that we have laid and the work that we’ll do immediately following the Israeli elections will set conditions where we can have a constructive conversation.” [Video]

— Three senior White House aides tell the Jerusalem Post’s Michael Wilnerthat Trump’s peace team is gaming out a timetable for the release of their plan possibly even before a governing coalition is formed in Israel. According to Israeli law, the candidate nominated by the president for prime minister has 42 days to form a coalition.

Dov Zakheim tells us: “It depends very much on what the Israeli elections are going to look like. And the question is even if the next prime minister is not Netanyahu, will it be a right-wing government, which all the opinion polls seem to indicate it will be? So the Palestinians have to really wait and see how that government settles out. And then they can see whether they’ve got a kind of de Gaulle, or even a Sharon, who’s prepared to make a deal from the right, or whether it’s just more of the same. So the combination of a right-wing Israeli government and Trump in the White House doesn’t exactly reassure them.”

But Zakheim cautioned, “While there’s basically a year and a half to make a deal if the administration can pull it off, there are a few other things that right now are bothering the White House, I suspect, a lot more than an Israel-Palestinian peace deal. There’s the Mueller report. Trump wants to talk to the North Koreans again. And, right now, you’ve even got the government shutdown. Nobody knows how long that’ll go on. The president said he could tolerate it for months. So there are quite a bit of things that are a higher priority. The incentives just don’t seem to be there for a major push until some of these other issues get resolves. ”

Addressing Jason Greenblatt’s recent Twitter exchange with Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi, Zakheim recalled: “Ashrawi is a professional pessimist. I haven’t spoken to her in years. But years ago, I saw her reasonably often, and when Yitzhak Rabin was elected (in 1992), I bet her a case of wine that he would make peace. And she said, ‘Absolutely not.’ And course, they then had Oslo, and I never heard back from her. She still owes me the case. I’d want it to be kosher, but she never paid up.”

Dan Arbell, a 25 year veteran of the Israeli Foreign Service and a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, told JI in a recent interview: “Summer of 2019 is the last moment that the plan could be introduced because it’s just a little over a year before the 2020 presidential elections. Obviously, if the administration wants it to succeed, the timing should be earlier than summer 2019.”

Tom Friedman writes… “More Schools and Fewer Tanks for the Mideast: I’d keep our special forces in Syria, though, but not because we’ve yet to defeat ISIS. ISIS is a direct byproduct of the wider regional struggle between Sunnis and Shiites, led by Saudi Arabia and Iran. ISIS arose as an extreme Sunni response to the extreme efforts by Iran and pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria to ethnically cleanse and strip power from Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. As long as Iran pursues that strategy, there will be an ISIS in some form or other. That’s why the only peace process that could have a stabilizing effect across the Middle East today is not between Israelis and Palestinians — but between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” [NYTimes]

TOP TALKER — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) apologized for tweeting that “Israel has hypnotized the world” during the Gaza war in 2012 in a Twitter interaction with NYTimes opinion writer Bari Weiss on Tuesday, following her op-ed about the matter. “In all sincerity, it was after my CNN interview that I heard from Jewish orgs. that my use of the word “hypnotize” and the ugly sentiment it holds was offensive,” Omar wrote. “It’s now apparent to me that I spent lots of energy putting my 2012 tweet in context and little energy is disavowing the anti-Semitic trope I unknowingly used, which is unfortunate and offensive.”

Weiss replied“Thank you, Rep. Ilhan Omar, for reading and for addressing. Please consider this an open invitation to the NYT opinion, where I would be happy to talk more about anti-Semitism and Israel with you.”

ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt tweets: “Hats off to Rep. Omar for her honest apology and commitment to a more just world. Open and respectful conversations will help us achieve this goal.”

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Near the end of the New York Times “The Daily” podcast yesterday, featuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), host Michael Barbaro concludes: “In the weeks since their swearing in, Representative Tlaib and a group of like-minded freshman have continued to make headlines, especially on Fox News. Tlaib has announced that when the pro-Israel organization AIPAC organizes its bi-annual trip to Israel for newly elected Members of Congress, she will organize her own, with a trip to the West Bank [with] a focus on issues like ‘Israel’s detention of Palestinian children.”’

Israel lambasts The Guardian for accusing it of ‘killing with impunity’ — by Raphael Ahren: “Jerusalem on Wednesday accused The Guardian of “cheap moralizing” and of willfully distorting the facts, after the British newspaper accused Israel of lightheartedly killing Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border… “The Guardian has decided to engage in an exercise of cheap moralizing, deliberately ignoring Palestinian terror and violence,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel.” [ToI]

AT THE UN — Upcoming Poland Conference Not a Stage to ‘Demonize’ Iran, U.S. Says — by Farnaz Fassihi: “The acting U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Jonathan Cohen, told the Security Council the U.S.-led conference on Middle East stability in Poland [next month] wasn’t a “venue to demonize or attack Iran” or to reopen arguments about the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Rather, he said, it would be a “global brainstorming session” with an agenda on cybersecurity, humanitarian aid in Syria and Yemen and extremism… Mr. Cohen said that the meeting also would acknowledge Iran’s missile activity and other destabilizing actions.” [WSJ]

— “Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the conference would fail to bolster Middle East security because of its “one-country aspect” and failure to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [France24]

UNESCO’s Director General Audrey Azoulay talks to Roger Cohen about the U.S. and Israel’s decision to quit the organization despite recent reforms: “The debate about over-politicization was legitimate given how the organization was being used, especially in the last decade. There was a loss of credibility. I have tried hard to reduce the politicization and work for consensus. In the light of the progress made over the past 12 months, I deeply regret the withdrawal of the United States, a founding member, and Israel.”[NYTimes]

Eli Lake writes… “How Much Is Ireland Willing to Pay to Boycott Israel? Legislation scheduled for debate this week in Ireland’s lower house would criminalize any transactions with businesses or individuals living in Israel’s West Bank. The “Control of Economic Activity Bill” would impose jail for up to five years and heavy fines on Irish citizens that import or sell products from the territory Israel won in the Six Day War… Because of Ireland’s low corporate tax rates, many of the world’s largest companies keep their wealth there… The Irish legislation, if it becomes law, would force Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook to choose between their Irish tax haven and their business in the Jewish state.” [Bloomberg]

— A Congressional source tells JI: “The Irish opposition is taking the country off a cliff. We’ll take action but that’s nothing compared to what the Trump admin is going to do. There’s a law.”

Israel halts transfer of Qatari funds to Gaza as border tensions spiral — by Judah Ari Gross: “Israel refused to allow a previously approved $15 million transfer to the Gaza-ruling Hamas terrorist group from Qatar on Tuesday… The move came after an IDF officer was injured by sniper fire on the border of the restive enclave, and a Hamas fighter was killed in a reprisal shelling by Israel.” [ToI]

Tensions Rise Over U.S. Arrest of Iranian News Agency’s American Journalist — by Rick Gladstone: “Iran said Tuesday it had formally protested the F.B.I.’s arrest of an American newscaster who works for the Iranian government’s Press TV… The arrested American, Marzieh Hashemi, has been held for more than a week as a material witness in an unspecified criminal case and has appeared before a grand jury in Washington twice.” [NYTimes]

The U.S. Army says Iran is the only victor of the Iraq War — by Tim Fernholz: “The US Army has concluded that Iran was the only victor of the eight-year U.S. campaign to remove Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and replace him with a democratic regime. That’s one of the findings of a massive historical study released Jan. 17, the first major military review of the Iraq war’s lessons.” [Quartz]

FOGGY BOTTOM — Top diplomat for European affairs resigns from State Department — by Carol Morello: “A. Wess Mitchell, the top diplomat in charge of European affairs, will resign from the State Department next month… Mitchell said his resignation is not a protest of the administration’s policies or the direction of foreign policy.” [WashPost]

TRANSITION — Former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. (Ret.) H.R. McMaster has joined the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) to serve as Chairman of its new Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP).

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — A new poll indicates that Likud would lose four seats, but maintain its overall lead over rival parties if Netanyahu is indicted next month… Benny Gantz will break his months of near-silence at a campaign launch of his Israel Resilience party next week… Naftali Bennett took aim at Gantz’s military credentials on Wednesday, accusing the former IDF chief of failing to tackle Hamas in the 2014 Gaza war…  ‘The Ambassador’ contestant Mehereta Baruch-Ron announced on Tuesday that she is running for a Knesset seat with the Meretz Party…  Tehila Friedman, a research fellow at the Hartman Institute and a candidate on the Yesh Atid list, pledgedto represent Diaspora Jews if elected as MK…

2020 WATCH — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised $1.5 million in the first 24 hours after announcing her candidacy… Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) says he’s nearing a 2020 decision as he swings through key southern states… Booker was spotted yesterday visiting a law firm in Midtown Manhattan where he hinted about his plans to run for president… Top Democrat donors on Wall Street told Fox Business they are waiting on Joe Biden to announce his 2020 intentions before writing any big checks to other presidential hopefuls… South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced on Wednesday that he’s forming an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential bid… Tom Steyer is launching an effort to make every Democrat campaigning to run against Trump first come out in support of impeachment…

** 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: John Paulson mulls shutting his hedge fund [FinancialTimes]  Elliott Management letter puts eBay on notice to improve stock performance, sell StubHub [TechCrunchWSJ] • Arconic buyout scuppered by dispute over pension liabilities [WSJ] • Eli Tabak selling HBO’s ‘The Deuce’ warehouse studio [NYPost] • Bobbi Brown 2.0: Reinventing Her Life And Career At 61 [Forbes] • Watch CNBC’s full interview with the Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein at Davos [Video] • What we know about Jeff Bezos’ religious beliefs in wake of divorce [ThisInsider] • OurCrowd, 7thirty launch $30 mln fund to invest in cannabis tech [Reuters] • Bingo Wholesale store, a partnership with Israeli grocery chain Osher Ad, opens in Lakewood New Jersey [APP]

TALK OF THE REGION — Natural gas fields give Israel a regional political boost — by Aron Heller: “Last week’s inclusion of Israel into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo — a consortium aiming to cut infrastructure costs and lower prices — marked the first time Arab countries accepted Israel into such a regional alliance… The forum, which also includes Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian Authority, aims to emerge as a mini-OPEC of sorts and highlights how Israel has been leveraging its newfound gas reserves into a powerful tool to expand its immersion into a region that has increasingly come to see Iran and Turkey, rather than Israel, as their greatest rivals.” [AP]

TALK OF DAVOS —  On the first day, one of the most sought-after panelists, Ruth Porat, the chief financial officer of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), discussed the health benefits of her company’s artificial intelligence at a panel called “Shaping a new market architecture.”… Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire CEO of private equity giant Blackstone, said sarcastically that he is “wildly enthusiastic” about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed tax hike… Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon spent 24 hours in Davos, meeting with the Swiss President, New Zealand Finance Minister and senior officials of Amazon, Google and Paypal… Inside the hidden lounge for VIPs at the heart of Davos…

Bill Browder‏ tweets“Just about to start the #WEF19 in Davos. This year the US, U.K. and French governments have dropped out. As a result, the ratio of dictatorships to democracies in Davos is now seriously skewed towards the bad guys.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — The Investor Seth Klarman, in a Rare Interview, Offers a Warning. Davos Should Listen — by Evan Osnos: “Klarman doesn’t give many interviews, but, when I contacted him recently, he agreed to speak because, he said, shortsighted business practices are imperilling public confidence in capitalism itself. Among business leaders, he told me, “I think people realize that we’re not where we should be.” He added, “It’s maybe not an inappropriate ask to say, ‘Let’s all look at just where we were taking things for granted, and where maybe we were shortchanging. We took the game we were playing for granted—whether that’s investing, or business, or politics.” … Klarman believes that he and his peers need to prevent their field from being defined by some of its worst actors. “People will say the words ‘Wall Street’ with a derogatory tone. They’re talking about an immoral place, where there’s just disgusting amounts of greed and nothing good happens—which isn’t fair and isn’t true.” [NewYorker

VIEW FROM BEIJING — Israel has enough sense and self interest to avoid efforts to drag it into US-China trade war, analysts say — by Shi Jiangtao: “Sadly, the new atmosphere in U.S.-China relations is putting many countries – Israel included – in an extremely uncomfortable situation in which they are forced to pick sides,” Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington-based think tank, said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying hit out at Washington this week, describing its warnings as “ridiculous”. “The U.S. has been abusing the idea of ‘national security,’ slandering and striking down the normal commercial activities of Chinese enterprises,” she said on Monday.” [SCMorningPost] • China Blasts U.S. Over Warnings on Israeli Infrastructure Projects [Calcalist]

HOLLYWOOD — Israeli director Guy Nattiv’s short film ‘Skin’ gets Oscar nod: “Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv’s short film “Skin” was nominated Tuesday for the Oscar for best live action short film. The film, which was directed by Nattiv, is about a gang war in a small town that breaks out after a black man smiles at a white child at a supermarket. Nattiv wrote “Skin” with Sharon Maymon, who is also from Israel.” [ToI] • “RBG,” a film about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was nominated for best documentary feature [CNN]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Shirt reading ‘At Least I’m Not Jewish’ pulled from popular online retailer’s website — by Brian Niemietz: “Zazzle has pulled a T-shirt off its website that has the words “At least I’m not Jewish” emblazoned across the chest. According to the Jerusalem Post… the shirt was designed by a vendor named “The Slesk Bazaar” and only sold on Zazzle’s site. The retailer took the shirt down from its online offerings and apologized on Twitter.” [NYDailyNews

A new generation takes up the hunt for Dead Sea Scrolls — by Rinat Harash and Ari Rabinovitch: “In the cliffs high above the Dead Sea archaeologists chip away with pick axes, hoping to repeat one of the most sensational discoveries of the last hundred years – the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls, a collection of manuscripts, some more than 2,000 years old, were first found in 1947 by local Bedouin in the area of Qumran, about 20 km east of Jerusalem… Archaeologists are probing higher and deeper than before. Hundreds of caves remain unexcavated and the experts are racing against antiquities robbers.” [Reuters]

DESSERT — Will 2019 be the year of the schmaltz? Two new cookbooks by Jews praise the lard —by Rich Tenorio: “A longtime staple, animal fats — both the kosher and non-kosher ones — have fallen into disfavor. But public opinion might be thawing. There are… two recent cookbooks with animal fats in the title — “The Fat Kitchen: How to Render, Cure & Cook with Lard, Tallow & Poultry Fat,” by veteran Vermont author Andrea Chesman, and “The Last Schmaltz: A Very Serious Cookbook,” by Toronto chef and restaurateur Anthony Rose. “I raised my own animals, and was so impressed by the good results you get from cooking with animal fats that I started looking into them,” Chesman told The Times of Israel… I think it’s healthier for you.” [ToI]

BIRTHDAYS: Real estate developer and former minority owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, Bruce Ratner turns 74… Educational consultant, trade association and non-profit executive, previously an aide to Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug (D-NY), Peter D. Rosenstein turns 72… Manager of Innovative Strategies LLLP and JHJ Investment LLLP, board member of the Baltimore-based Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Howard K. Cohen turns 72… Israeli archaeologist, educator, on the faculty of Oxford Brookes University, Estee Dvorjetski turns 68… 41st Mayor of Los Angeles (2005-2013), in 2018 he ran unsuccessfully to be Governor of California, Antonio Villaraigosa turns 66… Broadway theater owner, operator, producer and presenter and president of the Nederlander Organization, James L. Nederlander turns 59… Former president and CEO of Staples Inc. (2016-2018), Shira Goodman turns 58… CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp since 2010, after a 20+ year career in the food business including stints at Campbell Soup, General Mills and as CEO of Manischewitz, Jeremy J. Fingermanturns 58…

National-affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, co-author of “Game Change” and “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” John Heilemann turns 53… In the news recently as the seller, together with her husband, of a $17.5 million home in Greenwich, CT, Hilary Bangash Cohen turns 48… Journalist, screenwriter and film producer, in 2009 he wrote and produced The Hurt Locker for which he won two Academy Awards including for Best Picture, Mark Boal turns 46… Creator and host of Jew in the City, Allison F. Josephs turns 39… Manhasset, New York native who competed for Israel in figure skating, she was the 2014 Israeli national champion, Danielle Montalbano turns 30… Professional soccer player who plays as a defender for DC United and the United States men’s national soccer team, Steven Mitchell Birnbaum turns 28… New York City native who competed for Israel in pairs figure skating, she and her partner won silver medals in the 2008 and 2009 Israeli championships, Hayley Anne Sacks turns 28…




Daily Kickoff: Christie’s new book details what Trump thought of Ivanka’s conversion | Seth Klarman’s letter the talk of Davos | Bloomberg’s 2020 lane

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JI EXCLUSIVE — How Trump truly felt about Ivanka’s conversion, according to Chris Christie: In his book set to be released on January 29, an advance copy of which was obtained by Jewish Insider, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie details a conversation he had over dinner with Donald and Melania Trump in 2009 when the real-estate mogul informed him that his daughter, Ivanka Trump, had decided to convert to Judaism and marry Jared Kushner.

“It was a little hard to gauge Donald’s reaction” to Ivanka’s decision, Christie writes in his forthcoming book titled, Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics. “He was greeting the news with what I would describe as acceptance. ‘She’s a big girl. She’s a smart girl. If that’s what she wants to do, then that’s what she wants to do. I support her. I trust her.’”

“You never know what your kids will do next,” Trump remarked, according to Christie.

But something else was also on Trump’s mind that night: His future son-in-law was the son of Charles Kushner, whom Christie, as U.S. Attorney, had sent to jail. Trump was curious to know all of the details — “including the steamy ones” — about Ivanka’s future father-in-law’s case. “There was some sleazy stuff, right? He really did that?” Trump asked him. “Yes, he did,” Christie replied. ”Oh, that’s not good,” Trump responsed.

Christie adds that Trump later called him to see whether he would consider coming to Ivanka’s wedding despite Christie’s involvement in the Charles Kushner case, an invitation which Christie politely declined. “I am confident that he was relieved that we didn’t make things awkward for him, Ivanka, and his son-in-law-to-be,” Christie writes. [JewishInsider]

Cliff Sims’s book describes Trump’s reaction to Paul Ryan’s criticism of Charlottesville remarks — by Philip Rucker: “President Trump watched on television, increasingly angry, as House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized his handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He held the remote control “like a pistol” and yelled for an assistant to get the Republican leader on the phone. “Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your a– for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’” Trump told Ryan… “Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?” The tormenting continued… “I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Trump told him, according to former West Wing communications aide Cliff Sims. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what’d I do? I saved your a–.” [WashPost]

— “In one scene, Mr. Sims describes Mr. Trump’s top policy adviser, Stephen Miller, openly undermining his onetime ally, Stephen K. Bannon, as Mr. Miller appealed to Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Mr. Miller described Mr. Bannon as “leaking” to reporters.” [NYTimes

SHUTDOWN WATCH — Now Trump’s Shutdown Threatens Israel’s Security — by Neri Zilber: “U.S. legislation passed by Congress last year and set to go into effect at the end of the month will effectively end all remaining aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), including to the security forces. It will also cut the funding for a small American mission in Jerusalem, headed by a U.S. three star general… Potential amendments to the law that would allow this aid to continue are on hold due to the shutdown… Washington is now in a race against time until the legislation comes into effect February 1.”

“In the short term, direct Israeli-Palestinian security coordination will likely remain intact even absent the American role. “It’s a ‘holy interest’ for [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, and coordination operationally will continue,” Lt. Col. Alon Eviatar, a retired Israeli intelligence officer with long experience in Palestinian affairs, told The Daily Beast. And yet, Eviatar warned, the Palestinian response could be… “demonstrative” – creating a crisis so as to “drag Israel on to its side [vis-à-vis the U.S.], so that everyone understands the implications and consequences.” [DailyBeast

TALK OF THE REGION — U.S. aid cuts hit Palestinians, further dimming hope for peace — by Joseph Krauss: “Tens of thousands of Palestinians are no longer getting food aid or basic health services from America, U.S.-funded infrastructure projects have been halted, and an innovative peace-building program in Jerusalem is scaling back its activities. The Trump administration’s decision last year to cut more than $200 million in development aid to the Palestinians is forcing NGOs to slash programs and lay off staff.” [AP]

REPORT — After Chad ties restored, Israel set to host Mali’s PM in coming weeks: “Israel is preparing for an historic visit by Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga… Maiga will visit Israel “in the coming weeks,” and Netanyahu hopes the trip will take place before the April 9 elections, according to reports by Channel 13 and the Kan public broadcaster… The West African country, whose population is also majority Muslim, severed ties with Israel in 1973, following the Yom Kippur War.” [ToI]

Jordan protests Israel’s new Ramon airport: “Jordan rejects the establishment of the Israeli airport in its current location,” head of Jordan’s Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission Haitham Misto said… Misto said the airport violated “international standards regarding respect for the sovereignty of airspace and territory of other countries.” [France24]

Airbnb continues settlement boycott, to delist disputed areas of Georgia — by Tovah Lazaroff: “Professor Eugene Kontorovich… said that Airbnb’s boycott of West Bank settlements was discriminatory, even though it expanded its boycott list to include other disputed regions. “Airbnb’s attempt to put a fig leaf on their anti-Jewish discrimination actually only accentuates the extent of their discrimination in relation to Israel… Having been criticized for only applying its supposed global policy to Israel, the company has now added some tiny obscure Georgian territories, occupied by Russia,”  Kontorovich stated. “However, Airbnb’s has delisted all properties in these regions, whereas with regard to the West Bank only Jewish properties were delisted.”[JPost] • Tel Aviv to hit Airbnb hosts with new tax [ToI]

ON THE GROUND – Another suicide attack targets U.S. forces in Syria; Israel strikes at Iranian presence there — by Nabih Bulos and Noga Tarnopolsky: “U.S. forces were targeted again Monday when a suicide bomber drove a car toward a joint U.S.-Kurdish convoy and blew it up 11 yards from a checkpoint in northeastern Syria… The attack near the town of Shadidi came as the United States begins to draw down its presence in Syria and other countries step up their activity there. Israel launched a multi-pronged attack on military targets in Syria late Sunday night.” [LATimes] • After Striking Syria, Netanyahu Boasts About ‘Renovating’ Damascus Airport [Haaretz

TOP TALKER — Brett McGurk Says Trump Has ‘No Plan’ for What’s Next in Syria — by Andrew Kragie: “The expected power vacuum [in Syria] may come back to haunt the United States, much as it did after the withdrawal from Iraq, McGurk, the former special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, forecasted… McGurk also defended himself against Trump’s charge that his resignation was political, pointing out that he worked under Bush, Obama, and Trump. “I’ve served all three administrations,” he said. “I’ve worked on policies that I fully supported. You work on policies here in the government that you might not support. You argue your case. In this case, I think the entire national-security team had one view, and the president in a conversation with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan just completely reversed the policy.” [TheAtlantic]

STATE-SIDE — Pro-choice Orthodox Rabbi replaces Lang in the Illinois General Assembly — by Shia Kapos and Adrienne Hurst: “Yehiel Kalish will be the first ordained rabbi to serve in the Illinois General Assembly… Kalish told Politico, “During my conversation with Lou Lang, I said, ‘The voters of the 16th District won’t notice a difference in my voting record compared to yours.’” That means: “Yes,” he’s pro-choice. “Yes,” he supports gay marriage. And “yes,” he supports a $15 minimum wage… Lang assures that Kalish is a good fit for the district.” [IllinoisPlaybook]

— Kalish told the Chicago SunTimes: “I have not been chosen to be the rabbi of the state legislature. I have been chosen to be the representative of the 16th District.”

2020 WATCH — How Bloomberg plans to create his own lane in 2020 — by Marc Caputo: “He’s not going to be running to the far left like the other candidates are. He describes himself as fiscally moderate, fiscally conservative, but he’s clearly socially liberal and he’s a key driver of social policies,” said a top Bloomberg insider. “For Mike, it’s not ideologically driven, It’s pragmatic. People die from an excess of guns in America. People are dying and suffering and will continue to from the effects of climate change.” … Bloomberg is polling and collecting “data,” the source said, and climate change and guns are “going to drive Democrats to the polls.” [Politico

On King Holiday, Democrats Convey Hope, Remorse and Invective Against Trump — by Astead Herndon and Jonathan Martin: “The commemoration of Martin Luther King’s Birthday on Monday became a day of confession, invective and promise for prominent Democrats, who used events across the country honoring the slain civil rights leader to try to inoculate themselves from criticism, lash out at President Trump as a racist and, in one case, begin a history-making run for the White House.” [NYTimesWashPost]

— Former Vice President Joe Biden said at an MLK breakfast in DC that “white Americans” need to acknowledge the fact that systemic racism still exists and must be rooted out… Michael Bloomberg avoided talking ‘stop and frisk’ during the MLK breakfast… Bloomberg told the crowd: “Whatever the next year brings for Joe and me, I know that we will both keep our eyes on the real prize, and that is electing a Democrat to the White House in 2020.”… Bernie Sanders (I-VT) labeled Trump as a racist in South Carolina speech… Also in South Carolina, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spoke about the importance of unity and having what he called “courageous empathy” and acting on dissatisfaction… In New York, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced her campaign as a spiritual fight against “darkness”…

TRANSITION — Marc Elias, a Democratic election lawyer, joined the Kamala Harris presidential campaign as general counsel. [Politico]

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Lawyers for PM Netanyahu met withAG Avichai Mandelblit for almost three hours yesterday in an effort to persuade him not to announce a hearing for the prime minister before April… New leaks from Case 4000 show Netanyahu used his alleged deal with Walla! owner Shaul Elovitch to get the site to run a series of articles attacking his rival Naftali Bennett… In veiled criticism of Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin says rule of law in Israel ‘eroding’… Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List party, said he plans to use Netanyahu’s phrase in the last election that Arabs were heading to the polls “in droves” to whip up turnout amongst the Arab minority in April’s election… Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu Party, polling barely above the threshold, unveiled its campaign slogan: Only Kahlon cares…

** 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: Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management Nears Deal to Acquire U.K. Packaging Company RPC Group for More Than $3.8 Billion[WSJ] • Telecom Italia Spinoff Plan Still Leaves Elliott Fighting Vivendi [Bloomberg] • China grants Ivanka Trump 5 trademarks amid trade talks [AP] • Shari Arison, Israel’s wealthiest woman, divests her empire at bargain basement prices [Haaretz] • Daniel Libeskind charts how he built a path to success — and how you can too [ToI] • Israeli Venture Capitalist Erel Margalit Warns Against Cybersecurity, AI Collaborations With China [Calcalist] • Israeli deep-learning startup Hailo raises $21 million[BusinessInsider]

STARTUP NATION — These Are the World’s Most Innovative Countries — by Michelle Jamrisko, Lee J Miller and Wei Lu: “Patent activity boosted the scores for China and Israel, which was a big winner by jumping five spots to fifth overall. The Middle Eastern country surpassed Singapore, Sweden and Japan in the process.” [Bloomberg

TALK OF DAVOS — A Bleak Warning on Global Division and Debt — by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Seth Klarman doesn’t make the annual pilgrimage to [the World Economic Forum in] Davos, but his words are often invoked by policymakers and executives who do. His dire letter, which is considerably bleaker than his previous writings, is a warning shot that a growing sense of political and social divide around the globe may end in an economic calamity. “It can’t be business as usual amid constant protests, riots, shutdowns and escalating social tensions,” he wrote. He made the remarks in a 22-page annual letter to his investors… It was being passed around ahead of the Davos gathering, which draws business leaders like Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg, social and cultural figures like Bono, and elected officials like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.” [NYTimes] • Israeli Finance Minister to Meet in Davos With Amazon, Google [Calcalist]

HAPPENING TODAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will address the Davos Forum via satellite at 10 AM EST [Livestream]

MEDIA WATCH — Veteran Editor Maer Roshan Is the New Editor in Chief of Los Angeles Magazine: “Los Angeles magazine is proud to announce that Maer Roshan has been named Editor in Chief of Los Angeles magazine… As deputy editor of New York for nearly seven years, he oversaw the magazine’s Intelligencer section and produced some of its most talked-about features and investigative reports, including the first interview with Donatella Versace after the murder of Gianni Versace, and the first post-impeachment interview with Monica Lewinsky.” [LAMagVanityFair]

Author Etgar Keret’s ‘A Fault at the Edge of the Galaxy’ wins Sapir Prize — by Amy Spiro: “Author Etgar Keret was awarded the Sapir Prize, one of Israel’s highest literary honors, on Monday evening for his latest work, A Fault at the Edge of the Galaxy. The top prize includes NIS 150,000 and translation of the book into Arabic and into another language of the author’s choosing. “The book ‘A Fault at the Edge of the Galaxy’ touches the heart of the experience of global disruption,” wrote the judging panel. “The existence of Israel becomes a crumb of being in a world without hierarchies, that has no single center, and has no controlling point of view.” [JPost]

BEHIND BARS — Michael Cohen’s Prison Request: The Jewish ‘Club Fed’ — by Corey Kilgannon: “For a Jewish person, there is no place like Otisville,” said Earl Seth David, 54, a former inmate… “As a Jew, there’s no other prison you can get services like that.” Otisville’s camp has long been the lockup of choice among Jewish white-collar offenders, including Sheldon Silver, the former speaker of the New York State Assembly… Most inmates are Jewish — many of them orthodox and Hasidic — and many are doctors, lawyers, accountants and businessmen who committed fraud. A few also have backgrounds as ordained rabbis and, once inside, some assume a spiritual leadership role. Inmates periodically hold an informal vote to elect a “gabbai” to run the shul… There is never a problem reaching a minyan.”

“Orthodox inmates wear fringed vests known as zizit under their green prison uniforms. Prison work shifts are scheduled around daily prayer sessions and Sabbath observances… There are kosher vending machines in the visiting room. The prison commissary sells skullcaps for $6 and offers a kosher selection that includes matzo, gefilte fish, rugelach and seltzer… A lawyer for Mr. Cohen did not respond to messages, and it is still uncertain whether Mr. Cohen will wind up at Otisville.” [NYTimes]

MAZEL TOV — Food Network host Duff Goldman married girlfriend Johanna Colbry on Saturday in a unique ceremony at New York’s Museum of Natural History. [PageSixMarthaStewart

DESSERT — Celebrity Israeli Chef Opening Gluten-Free Restaurant ‘Arba’ In NYC — by Haim Handwerker: “What was originally planned as a pop-up for a few months, starring Chef Nir Tzuk, is turning into a new restaurant in every way. To be called Arba, it will open in early February in the Upper West Side, and is now in final preparations for its launch… Arba will open its doors on the corner of Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street, where a bagel restaurant once was. Tzuk says there’s no hidden meaning in the name, he simply liked it.” [Forward]

Erez Komarovsky Brings Taste of Israel to New York With Mint Kitchen — by Kristen Tauer: “Do you want me to come to sit with you, or do you want to taste some falafel?” Israeli chef Erez Komarovsky posed the proposition as a question, but it was quickly apparent it was rhetorical. “Taste falafel,” said Zeev Sharon, one of the partners of the new, fast-casual concept Mint Kitchen… Located in Greenwich Village, the space is outfitted with natural wood tones and decorated with hanging lights and plenty of foliage. In addition to tables, the space offers stadium-style seating as a unique option.” [WWD]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli singer known by the mononym Netta, she was the winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Portugal, Netta Barzilai turns 26… Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry in 2000, he is a professor (now emeritus) at the University of California Santa Barbara since 1982, Alan J. Heeger turns 83… Los Angeles resident, Ruth Lynn Sobel turns 78… Managing director and founder of Brave Warrior Advisors, an investment advisory firm, he is the son of Hall of Fame baseball star Hank Greenberg, Glenn H. Greenberg turns 72… Ordained at HUC-JIR in 1978, he has served as a rabbi and in other leadership capacities in New York, New Jersey and California, Mark Hurvitz turns 72… Brooklyn-born conductor, who during his tenure as artistic director of the Kraków Philharmonic became friends with Pope John Paul II for whom he later conducted multiple Papal concerts, Gilbert Levine turns 71… Founder and executive director of the Bridge Multicultural and Advocacy Project, Mark Meyer Appel turns 67… Director-General of the Israeli Defense Ministry, he is a retired Major General in the IDF, Ehud “Udi” Adam turns 61…

Justice on the Supreme Court of Israel, Noam Sohlberg turns 57… Michael Marquis turns 54… Sportscaster and host of a mid-day radio show on ESPN 980 in Washington, he was previously on the national ESPN network (2008-2015), Bram Weinstein turns 46… Director of the Chabad House in Kathmandu, Nepal, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz turns 45… Politics and local news editor at Hamodia, Yochonon Donn turns 42… NYC-based manager of strategic partnerships at Politico States and Media, Jesse Shapiro turns 28… Religion reporter for the Washington Post, she is also a professional balloon twister and was a 2018 contestant on Jeopardy, Julie Zauzmer turns 28… A leading young Jewish hockey player, he was a first round pick of the New York Islanders in 2014, Josh Ho-Sang turns 23… Retired Ob-Gyn in Toronto, Dr. Geoffrey Kalchman… Policy associate at Illinois Action for Children, he was previously a senior legislative assistant in the DC office of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Matthew Lustbader

Kafe Knesset for August 4

Friday, August 4, 2017

Bribery, fraud, and breach of trust: These three suspected Netanyahu crimes, which were laid out black in white in an official Police memo yesterday, are going to hover…

Kafe Knesset for August 3

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bibi Affairs Latest: The news cycle continues to be dominated by Netanyahu’s criminal entanglements with various reports emerging over the past 24 hours. Last night the main TV…

Kafe Knesset for August 2

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Battle of the buffoons: This morning the scandal plagued Likud MK, Oren Hazan, was ready for a fight. He got his hair cut, took some puffs into his…

Lessons Learned From Temple Mount Crisis on ‘Ultimate Deal’

Monday, July 31, 2017

WASHINGTON – With President Donald Trump’s goal of reaching the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israelis and Palestinians, Jewish Insider asked top Washington-based experts what lessons the President should learn…

Kafe Knesset for July 31

Monday, July 31, 2017

A pardon for Azaria? Another chapter of the Hebron shooter case came to a close yesterday. The IDF’s Military Court of Appeals upheld Elor Azaria’s manslaughter conviction and…

Kafe Knesset for July 27

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Overnight, the police dismantled all the new security measures at the Temple Mount compound and the Palestinians announced their resumption of prayer there. But tensions in the Old…