Daily Kickoff: Bibi and Trump admin’s rare rift | Report: Strikes kills dozens of Russian fighters in Syria | David Brooks on end of two party system

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SIREN: “He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He’s Worried About An Information Apocalypse” by Charlie Warzel: “In mid-2016, Aviv Ovadya realized there was something fundamentally wrong with the internet — so wrong that he abandoned his work and sounded an alarm. A few weeks before the 2016 election, he presented his concerns to technologists in San Francisco’s Bay Area and warned of an impending crisis of misinformation in a presentation he titled “Infocalypse.” The web and the information ecosystem that had developed around it was wildly unhealthy, Ovadya argued. The incentives that governed its biggest platforms were calibrated to reward information that was often misleading and polarizing, or both.

“We are so screwed it’s beyond what most of us can imagine,” he said. “We were utterly screwed a year and a half ago and we’re even more screwed now. And depending how far you look into the future it just gets worse.” That future, according to Ovadya, will arrive with a slew of slick, easy-to-use, and eventually seamless technological tools for manipulating perception and falsifying reality, for which terms have already been coined — “reality apathy,” “automated laser phishing,” and “human puppets.” [BuzzFeed]

TOP TALKER — WHO’S YOUR FRIEND: “Sheldon Adelson exposes cold shoulder to former friend Netanyahu” by Gil Hoffman: “Asked if he wished Netanyahu well in the probes in a face-to-face interview with [Army Radio], Adelson would only say: “I wish I could tell my wife what to do and I wish for peace.” When asked further about Netanyahu, he would only add “I wish for everybody good things.” … The editor of Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, later told the radio station that the reason why Adelson did not speak was for legal reasons, since he is a party in the case.” [JPostSrugim]

“I guess Netanyahu isn’t my friend, Rivlin says” by Itamar Eichner: “President Reuven Rivlin on Monday addressed his chilly relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying: “Netanyahu is the prime minister and I’m the president. He does his job and I do my job. I guess he’s not my friend.”” [Ynet]

‘DAYLIGHT’ — “White House Strongly Denies as ‘False’ Netanyahu’s Claims of Talks With U.S. on Annexing West Bank Settlements” by Noa Landau, Amir Tibon and Chaim Levinson: “Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative,” said Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman… In response to the White House’s request for a clarification, the Prime Minister’s Office said that “Netanyahu updated the Americans on the initiatives being raised in the Knesset, and the Americans expressed their unequivocal position that they are committed to advancing President Trump’s peace plan.” [Haaretz

HOW IT PLAYED: “Rare rift: U.S. demanded Netanyahu backtrack on annexation claim” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli and U.S. officials told me senior Trump administration officials were unhappy, fearing the claim could derail Secretary of State Tillerson’s trip to the Middle East, and gave Netanyahu and his advisers a clear demand to backtrack… the Prime Minister and his associates tried telling the White House his remarks were taken out of context, Israeli officials said.” [Axios] • With annexation gaffe, Netanyahu blunders into first real crisis with Trump [ToI

“The Middle East’s Coming War” by Ronen Bergman: “The Israeli bombardments of the air base had been dangerously close to Russian forces. A furious phone call on Saturday morning from President Vladimir Putin of Russia was enough to make Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel cancel the plans…  “Even outwardly, publicly, the Russians took the other side, against us, and not only in private,” a senior Israeli military source told me. “They could have prevented the launch of the drone, but they didn’t do anything. We heard the Russian message, very loud and clear.” [NYTimes]

NEW SHERIFF — Putin and Trump talk over the phone “about the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.” [Reuters

White House readout: “President Putin noted that he would meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later today, and President Trump said that now is the time to work toward an enduring peace agreement.”

“Trump Gave Putin A Message To Pass Along to the Palestinians” by Ed Kilgore: “It sounds like Trump wants Putin to be his back-channel to the Palestinians… Presumably it’s good for Putin’s ego to be the honest broker between Trump and Abbas. Let’s hope that’s all he’s getting from the U.S. for his services.” [NYMag

WHAT ELSE THEY MAY HAVE DISCUSSED — “Dozens of Russians Are Believed Killed in U.S.-Led Syria Attack” by Ivan Nechepurenko, Neil MacFarquhar and Thomas Gibbons-Neff: “Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials. A Syrian military officer said that about 100 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting on Feb. 7 and 8… The Kremlin — seeking to play down its involvement in the fighting in Syria and seemingly hoping to avoid escalating tensions with the United States — has sidestepped questions about the episode.” [NYTimesBloomberg]

Dennis Ross writes… “After the weekend’s Iran-Israel attacks, a burden on Trump to confront Russia and engage Europe: While all is quiet now, the episode should set off a loud, flashing siren… That is potentially a game-changer and helps to explain the Israeli response… Precisely because this may be a game-changer, it should also be a wake-up call for the international community and the Trump administration… It may not be President Trump’s inclination to be blunt with Putin, but unless Putin sees that his current posture is likely to trigger American — and not only Israeli — responses to the Iranians and their proxies, he may not act.” [NYDailyNews]

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat writes… Forget Trump’s U.S. as the Mideast’s Mediator: “A year ago, we in Palestine, like everyone else, did not know what a President Trump would bring. Today, we know: He has taken Israel’s side in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle… In doing so, he has disqualified America from being the sole broker in that effort. The question now is whether this opens an opportunity to seek peace by other paths or means the end of any chance for peace.” [NYTimes]

TRUMP’S BUDGET — Israel gets first aid increase under new MOU — by Nicole Gaouette: “[Rex] Tillerson also stressed… a commitment to upholding the 10-year memorandum of understanding that the Obama administration signed with Israel — the largest in US history. [Deputy Secretary of State John] Sullivan said Israel would get a $200 million increase in 2019 aid over last year for a total of $3.3 billion, reflecting a newly signed 10-year memorandum.” [CNN]

— “This year’s proposal also saw some increases, including… increasing embassy security and construction funds by over $515 million. That jump is… also because of the Trump administration’s plans for a new embassy in Jerusalem. “The construction of a U.S. Embassy facility in Jerusalem will be among the Department’s highest priority for capital security investments in FY 2018 and FY 2019,” according to the proposal.” [ABCNews]

“Trump Threatened To Cut Off Aid Over A UN Vote. Budget Proposal Doesn’t Do That” by John Hudson: “Not a single country lost funding on the basis of voting against the US at the UN. In fact, the budget specifically carves out money for many of the countries that voted against the US in the UN General Assembly, such as Zimbabwe, Somalia, and Nigeria… Trump’s apparent lack of interest in following through on his own threat could cause foreign powers to doubt his sincerity when issuing ultimatums in the future.” [BuzzFeed

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Diplomats back softened bill slashing PA funding over terror payouts” by Marissa Newman: “The Foreign Ministry said the revisions requested by the Defense Ministry — which allow the high-level security cabinet to make exceptions, or hand over part of the funds to the PA — will make it easier for Israeli diplomats to “justify” the measure to the international community…” [ToI]

“The Hush-Hush Deal That Keeps the Middle East From Exploding” by Neri Zilber and Ghaith Al-Omari: “Israeli and Palestinian officers are in constant contact—“daily and weekly” according to one senior PA security official—to discuss common threats in the West Bank that could “impact the stable security situation on both sides.” … It’s not an accident that, in the two months since President Donald Trump’s December speech recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the level of unrest on the ground has been tepid. The PASF have reportedly worked to stop armed protesters from reaching the front lines of the demos, and the PA writ large has not mobilized its people to take to the streets. As a senior IDF officer with responsibility in the West Bank told The Daily Beast, security coordination with the PASF has actually grown closer since Trump’s speech.” [DailyBeast]

TILLERSON MIDEAST TOUR — Sen. Bob Menendez, now Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement: “To omit a stop in Israel after Iran’s escalation last week would be nothing short of diplomatic malpractice and strategic folly.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — A senior State Dept. official briefing the press in Kuwait: “I was actually there (in the Middle East) through most of this and I didn’t hear all that much of the outcry. Look, the Secretary is very much following these events, as is the White House. We are in touch with the Israelis on this. We have, in our own voice, put out a message which is reflective from State, from the White House, that’s very clear: support for Israel’s right to defend itself is a fundamental pillar of U.S. policy.”

“PA Congressman at Penn: ‘Israel is greater threatened today than anytime since 1948′” by Gordon Ho: “During the event, Democrat Brendan Boyle said that while “Israel is stronger today than any time in the history of the modern state,” with its strategic advantage over its neighbors in terms of weapon and armed forces capabilities, Israel’s future is more threatened and uncertain today than any time since 1948… “Israel’s standing in the world under Netanyahu is in a lower position today than it was at the beginning of his tenure,” he added.” [TheDP]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “ADL finds report ‘extremely disturbing’ that Dems met with Farrakhan, Iran’s president in 2013” by Brett T: “Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, says the reportis “extremely disturbing… Yes, there may have been many ppl there but the presence of Louis Farrakhan should have been a red flag… Some of those who attended have repudiated Farrakhan and his intolerance in the past. They should do so again. They owe it to their constituents + Jewish community to explain their rationale and remind the world that there is no statue of limitations on standing up to hate.”” [Twitchy

Ron Halber. Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, tells us… “It is beyond outrageous that the current deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, as recently as five years ago, thought it was proper for an elected member of Congress to have a private dinner with perhaps America’s most notorious anti-Semite, and the leader of the country that our nation calls the leading international sponsor of terrorism, and a country that calls for the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people. He has only one recourse of action, he should immediately resign his leadership position at the DNC, and his constituents need to really think about the man they have representing them in Congress. There’s only so many times you should be allowed to play footsie with an anti-Semite. This is coming from a man who, in 2006, theoretically disavowed his relationship with Farrakhan. Yet, seven years later, he’s having a private dinner. That’s not a disavowal, that’s a strengthening of the relationship, not disavowing.”

“Va. Republicans move to dump controversial leader over anti-Semitic online post” by Antonio Olivo: “In the wake of a wave of Democratic victories last fall that was fueled by anti-Trump sentiments in Northern Virginia, party leaders —worried about losing more voters — finally moved to force [Fredy] Burgos off of the state central committee this week after he posted a Facebook comment suggesting that Jews should not run for political office… The comment came as Burgos was campaigning for Tim Hannigan, who is running to become the next chairman of the Fairfax Republican committee. Hannigan’s rival in next month’s election is Mike Ginsberg, who is Jewish.” [WashPost]

“Anti-Semitic GOP Contender Nehlen Banned From Twitter After Racist Meghan Markle Tweet” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “Controversial congressional contender Paul Nehlen was permanently banned from Twitter on Monday, following an outcry over a racist tweet he posted featuring Prince Harry’s fiancée, Meghan Markle.” [Haaretz]  

“Sorry, Whoopi, But That Pence-Is-to-Gays-What-Nazis-Are-to-Jews Analogy is Horrible” by James Kirchick: “Last week on The View, Whoopi Goldberg demonstrated the ease with which Trump administration critics can descend into moral idiocy when she compared Vice President Mike Pence to a Nazi. The controversy began when Adam Rippon, the first openly gay man to qualify to compete in the Winter Games… added that he would refuse a personal meeting with Pence, which Goldberg likened to “asking a Jewish person to sit down and understand where a Nazi is coming from.” [Tablet

David Brooks writes… The End of the Two-Party System: “Eventually, conservatives will realize: If we want to preserve conservatism, we can’t be in the same party as the clan warriors. Liberals will realize: If we want to preserve liberalism, we can’t be in the same party as the clan warriors. Eventually, those who cherish the democratic way of life will realize they have to make a much more radical break than any they ever imagined. When this realization dawns the realignment begins. Even with all the structural barriers, we could end up with a European-style multiparty system.” [NYTimes]

DEEP DIVE: “Is Shmuley Boteach Attacking Qatar Trip Because He Wasn’t Invited?” by Batya Ungar-Sargon: “I had a series of conversations with Boteach in August and September 2017 regarding his interest in meeting with the emir in New York, and in subsequently leading a delegation to Doha under the auspices of his ‘World Values Network,’” [Nick] Muzin wrote in a statement to the Forward… A source close to the matter revealed the reason that Muzin was unable to make it happen: The Qataris themselves nixed Boteach from a list of prospective visitors. “They did not find him to be credible and didn’t believe he had a significant following or constituency… The Qataris did not feel he could be trusted to keep sensitive issues to himself.” [Forward

** 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: Facebook executive Campbell Brown says it has solved its dispute with Apple and will roll out a subscription tool for iOS [Recode] • IvyCap Ventures In Talks With Israel To Set Up $100 Mn Cross-Border Fund [Inc42] • Steven Cohen’s Investment Firm Accused of Hostility to Women [NYTimes] • Does a Lawsuit Now Help the Weinstein Victims? [DealBook• Apollo’s Leon Black Takes Home $191.3 Million Payout in 2017 [Bloomberg]

SPOTLIGHT — “The Silicon Valley Giant Bankrolling Devin Nunes” by Lachlan Markay and Sam Stein: “Weeks after they hired a controversial former Trump national security aide with ties to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), top executives at the tech company Oracle made substantial donations to Nunes’ 2018 re-election campaign… Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who worked as a top White House intelligence aide linked to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, joined Oracle just weeks before its executives began writing checks to Nunes… On October 16… Safra Catz, Oracle’s president, wrote a check to Nunes for $2,500. In late November, she wrote three more worth $5,200 (she was later refunded $2,500)… Neither Catz nor any of the other Oracle executives… had donated to the congressman before.” [DailyBeast]

“Bob Iger to Host Fundraiser for Vulnerable Democratic Senators in 2018 Midterms” by Ted Johnson: “Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger is hosting a fundraiser next week for half a dozen Democratic senators facing tough re-election bids this year. The Feb. 22 event, which seeks the maximum contribution of $32,400 per person, also will be hosted by Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and his wife Cindy Horn, a longtime environmental activist.” [Variety]

MEDIA WATCH: “Ben Shapiro’s Website Eyes Buying Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze” by Betsy Woodruff and Lachlan Markay: “The people who head Ben Shapiro’s conservative news site are in talks to buy Glenn Beck’s troubled media empire TheBlaze… The Wilks brothers, Ben Shapiro, and Glenn Beck have long shared a skepticism about President Donald Trump.” [DailyBeast]

WINTER OLYMPICS — “Army of one: How this Winnipeg man helped get Israel’s first skeleton racer to the Olympics” by Ted Wyman: “In 2002, David Greaves was living in Calgary when he was asked to help form the Israeli bobsled team along with former U.S. Air Force pilot Aaron Zeff and former San Francisco 49ers tight end John Frank… “Two weeks later, I found myself in the back of a bobsled and the rest was history.” … [A.J.] Edelman will officially begin competing on Feb. 14 and 15 and Greaves will be beside him every step of the way, serving as coach, mentor and official videographer. Greaves… doesn’t feel any pangs of jealousy about not being the one going down the slide…” [NationalPost]

Jewish snowboarder snags bronze in Pyeongchang Games: “American snowboarder Arielle Gold spun and ollied her way to a bronze medal in the women’s halfpipe competition at the Winter Olympics on Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday. The medal was the first ever for Gold, 21, who is one half of a Jewish snowboarding duo with her older brother Taylor Gold, who competed in Sochi.” [ToI]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “Parents get letters of rec from Dalai Lama to get kids into private school” by Dana Schuster and Isabel Vincent: “If you look at the private schools in New York… it’s a very small percentage of kids who are going to get in,” said one Upper East Side mom with a 7-year-old daughter currently enrolled at a $50,000-a-year private school (her fourth choice). “At Trinity, I had two board members that I knew who I called and they didn’t even look at my application . . . A little, nice white Jewish girl who lives on the Upper East Side isn’t as interesting as the half American half Chinese kid whose father is really rich, or a couple who’s half Indian and half Filipino who were living in Singapore… You look at members of the board and think, ‘Who do I know that’s super powerful and has a connection to the school who will vouch for me?’” [NYPost

BIRTHDAYS: Rabbi and Talmudic scholar, also emeritus professor of economics at New York University, closely identified with the Austrian school of economic thought, Yisroel Mayer Kirzner turns 88… Television, film and stage actor, George Segal turns 84… Professor at American Jewish University in Los Angeles and scholar of biblical literature and Semitic languages, Ziony Zevit turns 76… Pamela Brown turns 75… Host of the tabloid talk show “The Jerry Springer Show” since its debut in 1991, former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer turns 74… Newsweek columnist Jeff Stein turns 74… Former Speaker of the New York State Assembly (1994-2015), Sheldon Silver turns 74… Senior US Senator from Connecticut, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2016, previously Attorney General of Connecticut (1991 to 2011), Richard Blumenthal turns 72… Professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto, author of “‘I Did Not Know You Were Jewish’ and Other Things Not to Say,” Ivan Kalmar turns 70…

Executive vice chairman emeritus of United Israel Appeal, formerly CEO of American Friends of Magen David Adom, Rabbi Daniel R. Allen turns 69… Former front office consultant for the Atlanta Falcons (2014-2015), CEO of the Cleveland Browns (2012-2013) and president of the Philadelphia Eagles (2001–12), Joe Banner turns 65… Radio broadcaster for the New York Mets, he also called games for the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, Howard “Howie” Rose turns 64… Ukrainian billionaire, previously president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, Ihor Kolomoyskyiturns 55… Casting director, Amy Sobo turns 55… President and CEO of the congressionally chartered National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, professor at GWU Law School, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Jeffrey Rosen turns 54… Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of Zynga, maker of online social games, Mark Pincus turns 52…

Retired Israeli soccer player, Alon Harazi turns 47… Director of Summit Medical in Tenaeck, endocrinologist extraordinaire, Atara Schultz turns 40… SVP at Wells Fargo Advisors, Bryan M. Drowos turns 39… Publisher of Southern California’s Jewish Link Magazine, Dov Blauner turns 39… Wall Street Journal reporter covering the auto industry, focusing on safety, regulation, litigation and government investigations, Mike Spector turns 37… Communications director for US Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Samantha Slater turns 35… Dallas native and graduate of SMU, she is a government and public affairs associate at Dallas-based ECA Strategies, Alejandra Aguirre turns 27… Former senior speechwriter for Treasury Secretaries Geithner and Lew (2010-2017) and speechwriter for Senator Frank Lautenberg (2008-2010), Mark Cohen Arlene Milrad… Norman Gardner Jonathan Neuman

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Daily Kickoff: Harvard’s new president | Dem lawmakers on why party sat for Trump’s Jerusalem line at SOTU | How to ship a cat from Israel to Pakistan

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WIRED COVER STORY: “Inside Facebook’s Hellish Two Years—and Mark Zuckerberg’s Struggle to Fix it All” by Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein: “WIRED spoke with 51 current or former Facebook employees for this article, many of whom did not want their names used… The stories varied, but most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill. Of an election that shocked Facebook, even as its fallout put the company under siege. Of a series of external threats, defensive internal calculations, and false starts that delayed Facebook’s reckoning with its impact on global affairs and its users’ minds. And—in the tale’s final chapters—of the company’s earnest attempt to redeem itself.” [Wired] • See the cover of a bruised Zuckerberg [Wired]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Schumer: ‘We are in big trouble’ if support for Israel fades — by Jacob Kornbluh: During a speech at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York’s annual congressional breakfast yesterday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer addressed the recent Pew survey on support for Israel among Democrats and Republicans. “One of the great things I am worried about, as a defender of Israel my whole life, is that support for Israel is not as strong as it once was. We see it on the far left, we see it on the far right, and we need to speak out strongly against both… If support for Israel among the younger generation fades, we are in big trouble, big trouble. The young people don’t know and don’t realize it because Israel, through its own hard work, perseverance, courage and intelligence, has made itself more secure, but that security could go away very quickly. And so we have to alert the young people that Israel is still in danger. We also have to alert them that the Palestinian side does not really believe – too many of them – in a two-state solution. They don’t believe there should be any Jewish state in the Middle East – that’s the truth.”

Schumer added that passing the Taylor Force Act by unanimous consent will send a message that support for Israel remains bipartisan. “We have to make it happen because it is so, so important. The House could pass this bill by unanimous consent. I have checked with every Democratic Senator — not a single Democrat would block it. There’s some dispute among the Republicans of the wording, of what kind of humanitarian aid to allow, and so that’s being worked out, but this will pass very very soon, and as Minority Leader, I’m doing everything I can to pass it.” [Video]

LAST WEEK ON THE HILL: “Chuck Schumer: Orthodox Jews should do more to call out Trump for failing to condemn neo-Nazis” by Ron Kampeas: “An otherwise congenial meeting between Jewish organizational officials and Democratic senators included a moment when Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said Orthodox Jews should do more to call out President Donald Trump for failing to confront hate in the United States. Schumer, D-N.Y., described what he depicted as a tepid reaction to Trump’s equivocation following the neo-Nazi and white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August… Members of the Orthodox group present at the meeting on Wednesday, the Orthodox Union, responded by saying that it and other groups had expressed concerns about Trump’s remarks in a timely fashion after the demonstration.” [JTA]

Hikind: Schumer’s Jab At Orthodox Jews Is ‘Hypocritical Chutzpah’: “Singling out Orthodox Jews was distasteful, shameful and arrogant,” said Hikind, a fellow Democrat. “This statement of Senator Schumer’s was nothing less than his playing to his progressive liberal base… Where was Schumer when Linda Sarsour showed support for terrorists and undermined the existence of Israel? Or when Black Lives Matter adopted anti-Israel platforms? Let the good Senator work on alleviating anti-Israel animus within segments of the Democratic party.” [Facebook

–Jeryl Bier in the WSJ on Thursday: “In 2006, during his first run for Congress from Minnesota, Mr. Ellison conceded he had worked with the Nation of Islam for 18 months before the October 1995 Million Man March. In a letter, he assured Jewish groups: “I reject and condemn the anti-Semitic statements and actions of the Nation of Islam [and] Louis Farrakhan.”… In September 2013, however, Messrs. Ellison and Farrakhan dined together. The occasion was a visit by Iran’s newly elected President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations.” [WSJ]

Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh asked several New York Democrats, who attended the JCRC breakfast, if they are worried about a decline in support for Israel among progressive Democrats and whether it was appropriate for the vast majority of Democrats to remain seated while the rest of the chamber gave Trump a standing ovation for his Jerusalem decision at the State of the Union?

Rep. Tom Suozzi: “I am constantly working on trying to address that issue. We need to change the conversation so that Democrats recognize the Jews have been oppressed – because a lot of times, Democrats want to emphasize with people they feel are oppressed and there’s been a movement to try and portray the Palestinians as being oppressed, but in reality, it’s the Jews that have been oppressed. Democrats, especially those from a minority background, have to be educated about the oppression Jews have felt and have been subjected to for literally thousands of years so that people recognize that Israel is our best friend, they share our values, they support democracy, rule of law, and do everything we would want any country to ever do.”

–Suozzi on SOTU: “That was not about Jerusalem and that was not about Israel. It was all about Trump. A lot of things that Trump said in his speech are things that many Democrats would agree with. The problem is who is the messenger. And it’s hard to separate the message from the messenger.”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney: “Support is not dropping among this Democrat. No, I don’t think it’s dropping, nor should it, certainly not among the Democrats I serve with. I think it’s fair to worry about the rise of anti-Semitism on both the left and the right. We’ve certainly seen it on the right in place like Charlottesville, but we also see it on the left with the BDS movement. Both parties need to stand tall, support Israel and fight anti-Semitism wherever it appears.” On SOTU: “I wouldn’t read too much into the State of the Union theatrics. It’s more show than substance.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler: “There’s a long-term worrying trend, and you have to distinguish between Democratic public officials and people who say they are registered Democrats. Democratic public officials, almost entirely, remain very supportive of Israel. What worries me is 15 years from now – people who are in college and graduate school will in 15 years from now maybe be in public office and what their attitude is going to be. One doesn’t know. But a continued education effort, there’s no substitute for that.”

“Democrats were sitting when Trump spoke about almost everything. I don’t think most people study who is standing and who is sitting down at what point in the State of the Union address. I don’t think that has any impact whatsoever on anything.”

Rep. Eliot Engel: “I didn’t sit. I can only speak for myself. I stood up and applauded, and many Democrats did.”

TOP-OP: “We All Live on Campus Now” by Andrew Sullivan: “Over the last year, the most common rebuttal to my intermittent coverage of campus culture has been: Why does it matter? These are students, after all. They’ll grow up once they leave their cloistered, neo-Marxist safe spaces. The real world isn’t like that. You’re exaggerating anyway. And so on. I certainly see the point… The reason I don’t agree with this is because I believe ideas matter. When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well.” [NYMag]

TRANSITION: “Harvard University Names Lawrence Bacow Its 29th President: “Bacow served as president of Tufts University for a decade and is currently a leader-in-residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership… Bacow said he also plans to continue to work to protect students at Harvard who were brought to the country as children and living here illegally. “We have to do everything we can to protect and support those students who are here, who know no other country,” he said, pointing to his family history. The 66-year-old is a native of Pontiac, Michigan, and son of immigrants — his father was a refugee from the pogroms of Eastern Europe and his mother was a survivor of Auschwitz who arrived in the United States after World War II at the age of 19, the only surviving Jewish member of her town.”[AP]

Harvard Kennedy School Names Dina H. Powell as Senior Fellow: Former Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell has been named a non-resident Senior Fellow at The Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Powell will share her expertise on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, and international politics during the coming year. [BelferCenter]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Tension Rises Between Israel and Iran After Syria Clash” by Rory Jones: “Israel’s attempts to stop Iran and Hezbollah from setting up on its northern border are likely to lead to further confrontation, defense experts say… “There is a determination by Iran to build a military force in Syria and Lebanon and there is determination by Israel not to let it happen,” Amos Yadlin, director of the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies and a former air force general, told reporters… “And the two vectors are colliding.” [WSJ

“Israel Believes Syria Strikes Took Out Nearly Half of Assad’s Air Defenses” by Amos Harel: “In Saturday’s exchange of fire Syria scored a rare success, downing an Israeli F-16 fighter jet with an antiaircraft missile, apparently taking advantage of a vulnerability in the way the crew flew the jet. Israel however destroyed nearly half of President Bashar Assad’s air defenses, according to military estimates.” [HaaretzCNN• The drone shot down by Israel was an Iranian copy of a U.S. craft, Israel says [WashPost]

“No one wins after Israel’s strikes, but Syrians definitely lose” by Ishaan Tharoor: “The incident gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a potential corruption indictment at home, a chance to reprise his favored role as a champion of Israeli national security.”[WashPost

“U.S. Secretary of Defense: Israel Has ‘Absolute Right to Defend Itself’ From Iran” by Amir Tibon: “Speaking to reporters before flying to a work visit in Europe, [James] Mattis said… that the U.S. did not have any “military involvement” in the events that took place on Saturday… “Israel has an absolute right to defend themselves. They don’t have to wait until their citizens are dying under attack before they actually address that issue,” he concluded. Mattis is the first senior American official to directly discuss the events that took place over the weekend.” [Haaretz

TRUMP MISSING IN ACTION? “Is This the Start of an Israeli-Iran War?” — by Marc Schulman: “An additional lesson learned today was the complete absence of the United States. Not since the 1950s has America been such an irrelevant actor in events in this part of the Middle East. Yesterday morning, the President of the United States was busy with irrelevant tweets. In an unusual move the Department of Defense was the department issuing a statement defending Israel’s right to defend itself.” [Newsweek]

The White House released a statement Saturday night: “Israel is a staunch ally of the United States. We support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria. We call on Iran and its allies to cease provocative actions and work toward regional peace.”

Earlier in the day, experts explained the silence — “This is a symptom of a White House in crisis,” Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, told The Daily Beast. “President Trump is obviously distracted by the Russian investigation and the White House staffing debacle… The U.S.-Israel relationship has generally been managed under Trump by only three or four people, which is just not a viable way to manage real time crises…” … “The United States is no longer the region’s 911,” Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York, summed the day up… “It started with Obama and Trump is essentially continuing this policy, albeit with a different music… So it should come as no surprise, nor should anyone whine ‘abrogation.’” [DailyBeast]

Martin Indyk‏: “The White House hasn’t said a word. For 6 months as this conflict was building Trump paid no attention. Bibi had to go 7 times to Moscow with cap in hand. When it comes to political symbolism Trump is a hero. When it comes to Israel’s strategic interests in Syria he’s MIA.” [Twitter]

DRIVING THE WEEK — Tillerson’s Mideast Trip Was Already Daunting. Then Israel and Iran Collided” by Gardiner Harris and Margaret Coker: “An intense military clash between Israel and Iran over the weekend presented Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson with an unexpected crisis as he headed to the Middle East on a five-nation tour that was already shaping up to be the most challenging trip of his tenure… He is forgoing a visit to Jerusalem, perhaps because Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is still Israel’s principal American intermediary…” [NYTimes

“Tillerson ‘Keeping Close Tabs’ on Syria Escalation, but No Plans to Visit Israel During Mideast Tour” by Amir Tibon: “The are no plans on this short trip for the secretary to make a stop in Israel,” [a] State Department official said. “He is keeping close tabs on the situation.” [Haaretz] • “Tillerson has “not ruled out” adding a stop in Israel in order to help diffuse the situation, a State Department official said.” [JPost]

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): “Tillerson should change his schedule and go to Israel on Middle East trip. Make clear we will support Israel’s ability to defend its borders, increase funding for Israel’s protection.” [Twitter

Dan Senor: “Alas — Admin officials tell me that Tillerson won’t squeeze an Israel stop on his Middle East trip. They say he’s strongly against it. These Admin officials think it’s a bad decision — to be in the region right now but not be in Israel.” [Twitter]

CRACK OF ‘DAYLIGHT’ — Trump questions Israel’s interest in making peace: ”President Donald Trump questioned Israel’s interest in making peace with the Palestinians in an interview published Sunday, spotlighting its West Bank settlements as a complicating factor… “Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace… And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace. So we are just going to have to see what happens,” Trump was quoted as saying… “The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements,” he said.”[AP

ANOTHER NOTABLE COMMENT — Q: What are your thoughts about U.S.-Israel relations right now? “I think they are great. I think Bibi Netanyahu is a terrific person,  a terrific leader, I think the relationships are good, but I think they will be a lot better if they ever get to making a peace deal… I think we are probably closer than ever before. But I feel much better if we can actually make a deal in terms of peace.” [IsraelHayom]

“Netanyahu: Annexation of West Bank Settlements Being Discussed With U.S.” by Chaim Levinson: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that for some time now he has been holding talks with the U.S. administration about the possibility of expanding Israeli sovereignty to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.” [Haaretz]

RJC VEGAS RECAP — “Desperate Republicans turn to Adelson” by Alex Isenstadt: “Confronting the potential loss of one or both chambers of Congress in the midterms, and struggling to raise money against an energized Democratic base, the party is desperate for Adelson’s millions. So the praise at the annual Republican Jewish Coalition conference he hosts overflowed, even though the billionaire, attending the funeral of a close friend in Israel, wasn’t on hand…” [Politico]

“Jewish Republicans reach uneasy truce with Trump” by Katie Glueck: “Many donors who have long been fixtures of the organization were absent—for a wide range of reasons, but in part, one explained, because of “mixed feelings on RJC’s embrace of [the] Trump administration.” Yet those who did show up were vocally supportive of Trump’s agenda… “I think they’re feeling thrilled,” said former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, the chairman of the RJC… “If you look at the change of what has happened with Israel, in terms of moving the capital to Jerusalem, the tough approach to Iran, holding the UN finally accountable…I think there’s a great deal of enthusiasm in the center-right, pro-Israel community about President Trump.”

“Donald Trump’s style is not a good fit for Jewish Republicans, and because of his insensitive comments during both the campaign and in Charlottesville, there has been concern about his style,” said [a] major GOP donor… “Having said that, people are very happy with his actions in office.” [McClatchyDC]

2018 WATCH — “Sen. Bob Corker’s second thoughts on retiring” by John King and Rebecca Schatz: “Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has had conversations with a few colleagues in recent days about whether he should reconsider his decision to leave Congress and not seek re-election this year… Whether it is a serious reconsideration, or just chatter with colleagues is the subject of some disagreement. There are also conflicting accounts of whether Corker has initiated the conversations, or whether he has had them with colleagues who are pushing him to think again.” [CNN]

RUMOR MILL: “Michael Oren pursued to head Jewish Agency” by Gil Hoffman: “Jewish leaders from the United States, Europe and Israel have expressed interest in having Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren replace Natan Sharansky as Jewish Agency chairman.”[JPost]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: How Joseph Lubin Cofounded Ethereum And Scored A Billion-Dollar Fortune [Forbes] • How Adam Neumann’s WeWork Has Perfectly Captured the Millennial Id [TheAtlantic] • Trailblazer Orna Berry steps down from Dell EMC in Israel [JPost

SPOTLIGHT — “John Galliano Opens Up” by Elisa Lipsky-Karasz: “For the past three years, [John] Galliano, 57, has been creative director at Maison Margiela, the fashion house founded in 1988 by avant-garde designer Martin Margiela… The space is just four miles but a world away from the primly perfect dove-gray hallways at the Avenue Montaigne headquarters of Dior, which Galliano helped build into a pulsing $1.1 billion empire—until he was fired days before the fall/winter 2012 show when a video of him drunkenly making anti-Semitic remarks at a Parisian bar became international news…. He says he has been sober for nearly seven years—he attended rehab after losing his post—and in that time has tried to face his demons head-on. “I said what I said. I didn’t mean it,” he says now. “And I continue to atone. Some people have forgiven me, and some people will never forgive me. But that’s something that I have to take on board.” He says he is also still grappling with legal issues stemming from the incident.” [WSJ]

PROFILE: “Atlanta’s #BillionDollarLawyer Is Looking Out for Your Favorite Rappers” by Joe Coscarelli: “Backstage at concerts, [Drew] Findling often finds himself being approached by young people… who thank him for all that he’s done for the culture… This is the surreal life of the #BillionDollarLawyer, a reputation and hashtag Mr. Findling developed years after becoming an indispensable, behind-the-scenes fixture in the world of Atlanta rap — which, with the rise of the trap sound and dominance of streaming, is basically the heart of the musical universe… Findling was raised Jewish on Long Island by a single mother, on a steady diet of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and peace rallies. At 17, he moved to Atlanta on a running scholarship and never left.” [NYTimes]

REMEMBERING: “Melvyn Weiss Was Ready to File Class-Action Lawsuits When Corporations Stumbled” by James Hagerty: “His Milberg Weiss law firm obtained billions of dollars of judgments and earned enough fees to allow Mr. Weiss to afford a 12,000-square-foot waterfront home, decked with art by Picasso, on Long Island… Critics said the class-action suits were akin to extortion… Mr. Weiss’s friends said he served society by doing free legal work to help Holocaust survivors recover wealth seized during World War II and by helping young lawyers pay off student loans so they could take low-paying public-service jobs. Mr. Weiss died Feb. 2 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 82. The son of an accountant, Mr. Weiss specialized in discovering lapses by auditors. Accounting firms “generally play a three-monkey role,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 1985. “They speak, hear and see no evil. And they become the handmaidens of senior management of major corporations who pay the freight for the audit.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE NATION: “The Government Gets Into the Church-Rebuilding Business” by Emma Green: “Tucked among the provisions in the budget bill passed by Congress on Friday are new rules about how FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, works with houses of worship. According to the new law, religious nonprofits can’t be excluded from disaster aid just because of their religious nature… The Orthodox Union, which represents Modern Orthodox Jewish synagogues and rabbis, said the law will bring “a new era of fairness for disaster-stricken synagogues, churches, and other houses of worship.”” [TheAtlantic]

SCENE FRIDAY NIGHT IN NYC —Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, accompanied by his cabinet and some 200 guests, attended Shabbat dinner hosted by Rabbi Mendy and Frumie Weitman at Chabad-Lubavitch’s Jewish Latin Center in Manhattan. Israeli Consul General of NY Dani Dayan spoke of Guatemalan diplomat Jorge García Granados who worked at the UN for Israel’s independence and cast the very first vote for the creation of the state of Israel. He also recounted of his father’s work as an Israeli diplomat in Guatemala and showed everyone the Order of the Quetzal, Guatemala’s highest award, which was awarded to his father.

SPOTTED: Guatemalan Ambassador to the UN Jorge Skinner-Klee, Muriel Seligson, UJA’s Mark Medin, Izzy Tapoohi, Andrew Kleiman, Melanie Robbins, Alexander Rosemberg, Siggy Flicker, and Rabbi Motti Seligson.

HOLLYWOOD: “Larry David’s daughter is making her way to TV, millennial style” by Emily Smith: “Cazzie David — the much buzzed-about comedian daughter of Larry David — will soon be following her dad to TV and is being hyped as the “next Lena Dunham.” Sources tell Page Six there’s a bidding war to bring Cazzie’s hip Web series “Eighty-Sixed” to the small screen .A Hollywood insider says that Hulu and Amazon are interested in developing her series as a TV project, and that there have been meetings with HBO — the home of Larry’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”” [PageSix

DESSERT — “Kosher Asian Restaurant With ‘Pastrami Ramen’ and Oyster-Sake Bar Open: “Boru Boru, a Kosher Asian comfort food restaurant, opened on Sunday at 774 Amsterdam Avenue at 98th Street. There’s a wide range of food, from Korean fried wings to pastrami ramen to shaved vegetable salad. This is how they explain it on the website: “We’re inspired by the streets of the Lower East Side and the Bowery and the many tastes that have existed here since the 1920s. We incorporate these cultures – Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Eastern European – in everything we do.”” [WestSideRag]

Virgin Atlantic removes ‘Palestinian’ from in-flight dish description after complaints from Israel-supporting customers” by Helen Coffey: “The dish – a mix of Maftoul and other couscous, tomatoes and cucumber seasoned with parsley, mint and lemon vinaigrette – was formerly called “Palestinian couscous salad” on the menu. However, the name has since been changed to “couscous salad” after various complaints. Some social media users threatened to boycott the airline, accusing Virgin of being “terrorist sympathisers.”” [Independent]

“How I Moved My Cat From Israel To Pakistan” by Diaa Hadid: “I recently hunched over my desk lunch and typed: How to get a cat from Israel to Pakistan… Most of my worldly possessions — and my cat — were in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, where I was previously based as a Mideast correspondent for The New York Times… Finally, through the company Animal Airways, I reached Eytan Kreiner, an Israeli veterinarian. I explained the pickle I was in. “Don’t worry. We are experts in taking animals to enemy countries,” he said in a thick Israeli accent. I imagined an aged Mossad operative. “We just took a dog to Iran,” he said. “We have an underground network of vets who help us. Everybody is sympathetic to animals. Even enemies.” Kreiner said he could fly my cat from Israel to a third country. They would change his papers and then fly him to Pakistan…” [NPR

BIRTHDAYS: Prime Minister of Israel (1999-2001), Deputy Prime Minister (2009-2013), Defense Minister (2007-2013), highly decorated IDF soldier and general, Ehud Barak turns 76… Commercial director in the Inglewood and Beverly Hills offices of Keller Williams Realty, he is also a principal at Westside Realty Advisors, Gary Aminoff turns 81… Best selling author, known for children’s and young adult fiction, Judy Sussman Blume turns 80… Author, former member of the Knesset (1992-2003) and then chair of the Tel Aviv City Council (2008-2013), daughter of Moshe Dayan, Yael Dayan turns 79… Periodontist in Newark, Delaware, Barry S. Kayne, DDS turns 74… Economist, physicist, legal scholar and libertarian theorist, his father was Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, David D. Friedman turns 73… Google’s computer genius, author, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweilturns 70… Esther Dickman

Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks and the President of Disney-ABC Television Group, former President of ABC News, Ben Sherwood turns 54… Film director, Darren Aronofsky turns 49… Comic book author and illustrator, Judd Winick turns 48… Former MLB player, he is now the program director and owner of London, Ontario-based Centrefield Sports, Adam Stern turns 38… NYC-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal who covers management trends and chief executives, Rachel Feintzeig turns 33… Media strategist at NYC-based Stu Loeser & Co., she worked previously for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in both her NYC and Washington offices, Anna Miroff turns 25 (h/ts Playbook)…

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Daily Kickoff: RJC’s Vegas confab | Bibi attempts to hold off settlement annexation | Shabbat in NYC with President of Guatemala | David Simon BDay

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DRIVING THE WEEKEND — Republican donors and leaders are gathering this weekend for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) Annual Leadership Meeting. As in past years, the gathering will be held at Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian/Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas. The confab kicked off last night with a VIP dinner hosted by Adelson that featured remarks from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. [Pic]

Speakers at the RJC’s Shabbat dinner this evening include Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. On Saturday morning, RJC National Chairman and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, Governors Rick Scott (FL) and Eric Greitens (MO), Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton will deliver remarks. The morning session will also include a foreign policy panel with Reps. Mike Gallagher (WI), Joe Wilson (SC) and Lee Zeldin (NY). The afternoon VIP Luncheon will feature former (and briefly) White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Saturday night will include special presentations of the Defender of Freedom and Security Award to Micah Avni, Shakib Shanan, and Minister Gilad Erdan by Steven Mizel; a tribute to Stuart & Robbi Force, the parents of Taylor Force, and remarks by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“House Republican goes after J Street in an effort to lure Jewish donors” by Theodoric Meyer and Marianne LeVine: “A new joint fundraising committee started on Tuesday by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, called Stop J Street… takes aim at J Street… where Grothman’s likely Democratic opponent, Dan Kohl, worked as vice president of political affairs… The new committee was started ahead of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership summit in Las Vegas this weekend and is intended to appeal to conservative Jewish donors who loathe J Street. Wisconsin Republicans are heading to Las Vegas, “making the pitch directly to meeting attendees,” according to the state party.” [Politico]

2018 WATCH — “What happens in Vegas: Politics, policy, poker and Richard Corcoran” by Steve Bousquet: “Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran… headed to Las Vegas for the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition… It’s the latest red flag that Corcoran’s sights are on the Governor’s Mansion…Hanging out with Adelson in Vegas looks like Corcoran is brashly trampling on what should be [Rep. Ron] DeSantis’ turf, with the speaker’s pal, Rick Scott, possibly helping with introductions…”[TampaBay]

PROFILE: “Matt Gaetz, Ultimate Trump Defender, Is Happy Being Notorious” by Alexis Levinson: “Just two weeks ago at the State of the Union, [Rep. Matt] Gaetz set off a small flury of outrage by inviting as his guest Chuck Johnson, a right-wing provocateur who once stated on Reddit that he did not believe the Holocaust happened… “I think he’s a rising star, but I told him, I don’t want him to hitch his star on notoriety,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told BuzzFeed News, after expressing, several times over, her intense displeasure over his State of the Union guest.”

“Gaetz critics and defenders were careful to note that he, himself, is very pro-Israel. “A champion of Israel and the Jewish people,” his friend Joel Greenberg, the elected tax collector of Seminole County, who counts Gaetz as a friend and political mentor, offered, unbidden. “We may have to retroactively throw him a bat mitzvah,” he added. “A bar mitzvah. Both, he gets.”

“In Gaetz’s retelling, he’s placated concerns from colleagues about Johnson by pointing to statements from Alan Dershowitz… that Johnson is not an anti-Semite or Holocaust denier… “He’s a provoker, I should’ve vetted him better before inviting him to the State of the Union, I regret that I didn’t. That’s my fault. I take responsibility for it. But he is not a Holocaust denier.” [Buzzfeed]

KFILE: “North Dakota GOP Senate candidate blasted a ‘bunch of Arabs’ in 2014 Facebook post” by Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie: “A Republican candidate for US Senate in North Dakota shared a story on Facebook in 2014 about anti-Israel protesters clashing with riot police, adding the comment, “Bunch of Arabs… what do you expect?” The comment is just one of several inflammatory posts Gary Emineth, the former North Dakota Republican Party chairman, shared on social media.” [CNN]

“Democratic Rep. Danny Davis Calls Louis Farrakhan ‘An Outstanding Human Being’” by Yair Rosenberg: “I personally know [Farrakhan], I’ve been to his home, done meetings, participated in events with him,” Democratic Rep. Danny Davis told The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson. “I don’t regard Louis Farrakhan as an aberration or anything, I regard him as an outstanding human being…” Republican elected officials from Donald Trump on down have rightly faced heavy criticism from Democrats over their ties to and defenses of bigoted hate groups and individuals. Whether Democrats will hold their own official, Rep. Davis, to the same standard remains to be seen.” [Tablet]

PALACE INTRIGUE — “With Rob Porter Gone, Trump Turns His Anger On Hicks and Kelly” by Gabriel Sherman: “Trump was also not aware of the severity of the alleged abuse until yesterday, when Ivanka walked into the Oval Office and showed her father a photo published in the Daily Mail of [Rob] Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye. “He was f***ing pissed,” said one Republican briefed on the conversation. According to a source, Ivanka and Jared Kushner have been discussing possible chief-of-staff replacements…”[VanityFair]

“Dozens at White House lack permanent security clearances” by Josh Dawsey, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett: “People familiar with the security-clearance process said one of those White House officials with an interim approval is Jared Kushner… In Kushner’s case, his extensive travel and overseas contacts are one reason the clearance process has dragged on, as investigators try to verify his reporting… assuming the process began when Kushner was in the transition, “it is longer than it should be,” the former official said. “That just tells me that somebody’s uncomfortable with the information that they have in his background.” [WashPost]

‘NO DAYLIGHT’ — “Netanyahu urges delay on settlement annexation bill until after Trump peace plan” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked members of his party in the Knesset not to press forward on a bill annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank until President Trump presents his Middle East peace plan… Netanyahu explained that after Trump presents his peace plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel will have a better chance to start discussing with the White House the possibility of annexing the settlements…” [Axios]

“Trump tells Israel peace means compromise” by Dan Williams: “In an interview with an Israeli newspaper… Trump described his Jerusalem move as a “high point” of his first year in office… “I wanted to make clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Regarding specific borders, I will grant my support to what the two sides agree between themselves,” he told the conservative Israel Hayom daily… “I think that both sides will have to make significant compromises in order for achieving a peace deal to be possible,” Trump added, without elaborating.” [Reuters]

“U.S. ambassador unleashes rare public criticism on Israeli paper” by Barak Ravid: “U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman went on an unusual and probably unprecedented attack today against the Haaretz newspaper a day after one of its senior columnists published an op-ed criticizing his support for the Jewish settlements…” [Axios]

“India’s balancing act as Modi heads to Ramallah” by Nikhil Kumar: “The optics during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in January could hardly have been better. But they also masked differences that will be highlighted by another visit this weekend, when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to the Palestinian territories. The way he’s getting there is itself telling. Instead of traveling there via Israel, Modi is flying to Amman in Jordan and then taking a helicopter to Ramallah. On Saturday, when he becomes the first Indian leader to visit Ramallah, he’ll do so while avoiding a stop in Israel, even though India would have had to work with the Israelis to facilitate the trip to Ramallah…  Why? It’s part of what Indian diplomats say is an effort to “de-hyphenate” its ties with the Israelis and the Palestinians.” [CNN

Trump thanks Guatemalan president for his support on Israel: “President Donald Trump on Thursday thanked the president of Guatemala for supporting the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the White House said. Trump and President Jimmy Morales met at the Washington Hilton hotel before they attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast… Guatemala is also one of nine nations that sided with the United States on a U.N. vote condemning the U.S. decision.” [AP

— “President of Guatemala at Chabad Jewish Latin Center Shabbat Dinner” by Mordechai Lightstone: “President James Morales of Guatemala will attend a special Shabbat meal on Friday night hosted by Chabad’s Jewish Latin Center in Manhattan… Morales said he was interested in experiencing a traditional Shabbat dinner… Some 200 people are expected to attend the dinner… [including] the Consul General of Israel, Dani Dayan.”[Chabad]

Dani Dayan tweets: “As the son of a former Ambassador of Israel to Guatemala and as Israel’s Consul General in New York I will be honored to participate and thank President Jimmy Morales.” [Twitter

ON THE HILL: A group of 102 Democratic lawmakers — led by Reps. Peter Welch (FL) and David Price (NC) — sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday urging him to continue U.S. funding for UNRWA and to the Palestinian Authority. “Continuing to freeze this aid will harm American interests by exacerbating the threats facing both peoples and reducing the United States’ ability to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach a two-state solution,” the letter reads.

Scott Anderson, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, tells NPR: “People, especially in the Department of Defense, understand the challenges that this could create. I have a lot of interaction with the Israeli army and they clearly understand what this means if UNRWA is not providing these services and it has them a bit nervous.” [NPR]

“Qatari envoy urges world to aid Gaza” by Josef Federman: “In an interview, Mohammed Al-Emadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza reconstruction committee, said he hopes that his country’s support for the territory, highlighted by a $9 million pledge on Thursday, will encourage other nations to join the effort… “This is part of our effort, working very closely with Israel, very closely with everyone in Gaza, to prevent any more escalation and war. We want peace in the region, and to help the people.” … Over the years, Al-Emadi said he has developed a cordial relationship with his Israeli counterpart, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai. “You can say it’s good,” he said.” [AP]

GULF VISIT — “US Jewish leaders to visit United Arab Emirates” by Herb Keinon: “Members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations… will travel to Abu Dhabi and Dubai as part of their annual leadership mission before coming to Israel… [Malcolm] Hoenlein told The Jerusalem Post that the aim is to “foster better ties with the US, the American Jewish community and Israel.” Although this is not the first time his organization will bring a delegation to the UAE, he said it will be the largest.”[JPost

TOP-OP: “Trump Is All Talk on Iran” by Dennis Ross: “The president has wooed Saudi Arabia and Israel with promises to roll back Iranian influence—but he has so far failed to match those words with action… To date, Trump’s support for the Israelis and Saudis is primarily symbolic. To be sure, for both, symbolism matters. Both see symbolic support as sending a signal to their adversaries that the United States will be there for them—and clearly Israelis prefer Trump’s symbolic embrace to Obama’s public criticism. While symbolism clearly counts for something, it needs to be backed by substance lest it lose its meaning.” [WashInstitute

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Bibi Takes Another Trick From Trump’s Playbook” by Marc Schulman: “The prime minister, taking a page from Trump’s playbook, went public with a Facebook post (Netanyahu is a more active user of Facebook than Twitter) attacking the Police Commissioner… Netanyahu’s situation is similar to that of Trump, in that the end of the case against him is far from over. Once the police recommendations are made, the baton is passed to the Attorney General… It should be noted that there is no time limit for reaching that decision, which is widely expected to take up to a year.”

“In one final irony, it should be noted that less than two years ago, Netanyahu whimsically proposed that Israel bring back the tradition of conducting an annual military parade, a practice which Israel gave up soon after the Six Day War… Netanyahu received little, or no support for his idea, which he had hoped to implement for this year’s 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. As a result, he was forced to drop it. So far, Trump’s parade remains in the cards.” [Newsweek] • Netanyahu Lashes Out as Israeli Police Wrap Up Graft Inquiries [NYTimes]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Lyft offered to buy Lior Ron’s startup at center of Waymo-Uber dispute [Axios] • Israel, A Land Flowing With AI and Autonomous Cars [BostonTech• Apollo Billionaire Josh Harris Sells $153 Million in Shares [Bloomberg• Aby Rosen’s Midtown tower now has ‘skyscraper lofts’ for art collectors [Curbed] • The Daily Telegraph’s Editor Personally Assured Staff The Newspaper’s Front Page Was Not Anti-Semitic [BuzzFeed]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli Start-Up Strives to Make Broadway Theaters More Accessible to Patrons with Disabilities” by Gabriela Geselowitz: “GalaPro, only operating since 2015, is short for “Gala Prompter,” because its major service is subtitles for live Broadway shows… The process is simple: Users download the GalaPro app on their phone, and enter the theater, which has a wifi network solely dedicated to the app… Then, you can select the show you’re seeing, and the services you select will begin playing automatically on your phone when the curtain goes up.” [Tablet]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “On Tour With Notorious R.B.G., Judicial Rock Star” by Adam Liptak: “They say that Bob Dylan, 76, is on a never-ending tour. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is eight years older and has a day job, seems to have acquired Mr. Dylan’s taste for the road. In the space of three weeks, she is set to make at least nine public appearances… She seems to enjoy the attention. “I am soon to be 85,” she said on Tuesday at New York Law School, “and everyone wants to take their picture with me.” …” [NYTimes]

“From holograms to Justin Bieber, Anne Frank’s stepsister is using any means to keep the Holocaust’s lessons alive” by Michelle Boorstein: “I talk about it and tell people, this is what Germany was. Not everybody was — by no means — anti-Semitic or supported Hitler. They had good Jewish friends, but they took the easy way out and looked the other way. It is the danger of the bystander,” Schloss said in an interview Wednesday before an evening appearance at the Center for the Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “This is what we have to teach young people — not to be indifferent, but take part; if you see injustice being done, speak out.” … [WashPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “Lawmakers are trying to cancel Lorde’s upcoming Florida shows because of her stance on Israel” by Colin Wolf: “Republican state Rep. Randy Fine is trying to get Miami and Tampa to cancel Lorde’s upcoming shows, citing a state statute that prohibits businesses from conducting business over $1 million with any organization engaged in a boycott of Israel. “Florida has no tolerance for anti-Semitism and boycotts intended to destroy the State of Israel,” said Fine…”The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and anti-Semitism, and I look forward to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority complying with the law and canceling these concerts.”” [OrlandoWeekly]

WINTER OLYMPICS — “Israel’s Largest-Ever Winter Olympics Squad Heads to Korea” by Abigail Klein Leichman: “Ten Israelis athletes will represent Israel in four sports at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics… This is Israel’s largest-ever Winter Olympics delegation since its first participation in the games in 1994… Only three of the 2018 Olympics teammates… are Israeli by birth… [A.J] Edelman, [Paige] Conners and [Aimee] Buchanan were born in the United States.” [JewishLink]

“Of Course The Israeli Skater Performed To “Hava Nagila”” by Dvora Meyers: “Alexei Bychenko, a figure skater representing Israel… did very well, putting out one of the few clean programs of the men’s competition. After the ten men skated, he found himself in second place behind Shoma Uno of Japan… And Bychenko, who used to skate for Ukraine but was able to obtain Israeli citizenship due to Jewish roots on his mother’s side, pulled off this feat skating to the most cliched Jewish song of all time—Hava Nagila.” [Deadspin]

COMING SOON — “The bagel emoji is heading to your phone” by Amy Spiro: “The latest slate of more than 150 new emoji released by the Unicode Consortium on Wednesday include a bagel, one of the most iconic Jewish foods. The bread will appear in its sliced format, in an effort to differentiate it from a doughnut. As phone operation systems and apps update, the emoji should appear on smartphones around the world later in the year. “[JPost]

DESSERT: “For Some Elderly Jews in California, Wendy’s is the Place to Be on Shabbat” by Jesse Bernstein: “For most of the last decade, a group of God’s chosen Golden Oldies have gathered to celebrate the day of His rest at a Wendy’s in Palm Desert, California. The number of regular attendees is somewhere between 18 and 28, according to Rachel Myers, director of a new short documentary about the group, the appropriately titled Wendy’s Shabbat… Myers, a director and production designer based in Los Angeles, first heard of the weekly ritual from her grandmother a few years back. “I just thought it was the most hilarious thing,” she said… Years later, she mentioned her grandmother’s fryer oil-soaked Shabbos to a friend, Juliana Schatz, who encouraged her to pursue the idea as a film.” [Tablet• Watch the documentary [Vimeoh/t Dan Smith

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYGrammy Award winning songwriter, Barry Mann (born Barry Imberman) turns 79… Singer-songwriter, Carole King (born Carol Klein) turns 76… Economist and a professor at Columbia University, Nobel laureate in Economics in 2001, former SVP and chief economist of the World Bank (1997-2000), Joseph Stiglitz, turns 75… Two-time Tony Award and two-time Emmy Award winning actress, Judith Light turns 69… Professor of history and modern Jewish studies at UCSD since 2004, Deborah Hertz turns 69… Israeli singer, Shimi Tavori (born Shimshon Tawili) turns 65… Australian philanthropist and owner of a series of mineral and energy companies, Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart turns 64… Former Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a/k/a “the macker,” turns 61… Creator of the HBO series The Wire and NBC’s series Homicide, David Simon turns 58… Theoretical physics professor at Columbia University, Brian Greene turns 55… Play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and ESPN’s men’s college basketball, Dan Shulman turns 51… Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the LA Times, now an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA, Abigail Helaine (“Abbe”) Goldman turns 48… Managing Director of Tiedemann Wealth Management, Jeffrey L. Zlotturns 47… Television and film actress, Margarita Levieva turns 38… Deputy Director of Congressional Relations at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Boris Zilberman turns 34… Principal at DC-based Blue Zone Partners, he served as Carly Fiorina’s national political director during the 2016 presidential primary, Thomas Szold turns 33 (h/t Shawn McCoy and cousin Daniel Lippman)… Senior account executive at Ruder Finn, Carly Abensteinturns 24… Israeli-Arab teenager who, in 2014, was forced to go into hiding after he publicly expressed support for Zionism and the State of Israel, Muhammad Zoabi turns 21… Isaac Lieberman… Rafael Regla

SATURDAYChairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company since 2005, Robert Allen “Bob” Iger turns 67… Founding figure of Postminimalism’s conceptual art, long-time resident of Manhattan’s West Village, Lawrence Weiner turns 76… Rabbi in Vienna, Austria (1983-1989), in Munich (1989-1997) and Berlin (1997-2015), Yitshak Ehrenberg turns 68… Swimmer, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Mark Spitzturns 68… Philanthropist Jayne Abess turns 63… Host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” James J. “Jim” Cramer turns 63… Ethiopian-born, member of Knesset for the Likud party since 2015, he is an activist for the Falash Mura community, Avraham Neguise turns 60… Journalist and syndicated newspaper columnist whose work has been published on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe since 1994, Jeff Jacoby turns 59… Former NASA astronaut, famous for his mezuzah in the International Space Station, awarded a Ph.D. from Cal Tech in 1997, Garrett Reisman turns 50… Columbus-based executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, previously Ohio director of state affairs for the Orthodox Union, Howie Beigelman turns 44… Israeli pop star, Ivri Lider turns 44… Managing partner at Roberti Global, previously an aide for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). also a senior principal at the Podesta Group, Israel “Izzy” Klein turns 41… Candidate for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election as the running mate of Evan McMullin, entrepreneur and digital media strategist,Mindy Finn turns 37… Executive Producer of the “Architects of Change” series and “Shriver Report Snapshots” at Maria Shriver’s Shriver Media, Michelle Levi Noe… Founder and principal of The Tool Shed Group, Jason Katz… Avital Mannis

SUNDAYJournalist and author of a Passover Haggadah co-written with his wife Cokie Roberts, Steven V. Roberts turns 75… NYC-based physician, he is the president of American Friends of Likud, Julio Messer, M.D. turns 66… Second son of former President George H. W. Bush, he was the Governor of Florida (1999-2007) and a leading early candidate for US President in 2016,John Ellis “Jeb” Bush turns 65… ProPublica’s editor-in-chief, previously at the New York Times, Stephen Engelberg turns 60… National medical director of Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, former EVP and chief medical officer for Erickson Retirement Communities (1989-2005), Gary E. Applebaum, MD turns 59… Executive producer for Atlantic Live Rob Hendin turns 41… VP and deputy head of communications at News Corp, Ilana Ozernoy turns 40… Tight end on the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for four seasons (2003-2006), having played college football at UCLA, Mike Seidmanturns 37… Chief of Staff for Congressman Bob Dold (R-IL-10) through 2017, David B. Stern turns 34… Politico’s Michelle Zar turns 29… Eric Wasserman Stern turns 25… Scott Wasserman Stern turns 25… Shirley Munch… Evan Siegfried… Avid reader Chaya Yehudis Neuberger… Avid snowboarder Israel Neuberger

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CUFI Warns Trump of Failing to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

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