Daily Kickoff: Will Senator Mitt Romney maintain independence among Trump’s GOP?

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

THE RETURN OF ROMNEY — Despite losing the House of Representatives, the President now has a safe majority in the Senate — pending a recount in Florida and the final results in Arizona — with which to approve his future judicial and cabinet appointees. With John McCain gone, along with Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, the outspoken chair of the Foreign Relations Committee — both of whom notably clashed with Trump —Trump faces diminished resistance from within his party, reducing the risk that a lone outlier could derail his legislation.

Less noticed in Tuesday’s election was the return of Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 presidential nominee, to political office. Romney, Senator-elect for Utah, is qualified to fill the void for an independent voice of reason in the Trump era, say a number of his supporters and former aides.

Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon official who also served as a foreign policy advisor on the Romney presidential campaign, tells us: “Even if Trump is re-elected in 2020, he’ll be up for re-election when Trump is leaving. So I don’t feel that he’s going to have any fear of Trump or any real need to bow down to him. He represents a very different kind of Republicanism. Most Mormons that I know are anti-Trump… I don’t see that Romney has any particular loyalty, allegiance, or sense of obligation to Trump. I think he’ll be a terrific senator. I think he’s going to be a major voice for a sane Republican party. And in a sense, he could be the old kind of standard-bearer. So, you know, on foreign policy or on domestic policy. I just don’t see him particularly concerned about what Trump cares about. He will go his own way and I think he will find that there are a lot of Republicans who follow him.”

“I think, to the extent that his thoughts agree with President Trump’s, you’re going to see that President Trump would have no greater supporter in the U.S. Senate,” Fred Zeidman, a Houston-based Romney donor and board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Jewish Insider. “And to the extent that he disagrees with him, I think that he will voice that and lead the opposition.”

Phil Rosen, a leading Romney bundler in 2012, anticipates that the Utah Senator will mostly toe the party line, primarily because he and Trump agree, fundamentally, on policy. “He has voiced his support for the administration with respect to the economy, Israel and Mideast policy and many other successful efforts,” Rosen noted. “And he will work with the Trump administration to push those policies forward.”

According to Ron Krongold, a Miami businessman, Romney could influence Trump in areas where they don’t see eye to eye, like the U.S. relationship with China and Russia. Trump, Krongold suggested, will benefit from discussion with Romney and “take his intuitive outlook on these matters in consideration.”

Comparisons to Corker? — “I think very much so,” Zeidman said when asked if Romney would wear the Bob Corker hat in the Senate. “When Corker agreed with the president he led the parade. And when he disagreed with the President, he led the parade,” he explained. “Romney is so driven to get things done that he has a great sense of compromise and I think he will work very, very closely with the White House to try and reach compromise positions that will allow the administration to govern.”

Former Romney fundraiser and Jewish outreach director, Lisa Spies emails us: “I believe Senator-elect Romney has the credibility to stick to his own brand and not be easily categorized. He will support conservative reform just like he did as Governor, and work with whomever best helps enact an agenda consistent with Utah values.” [JewishInsider]

IN IOWA — King of the Low Road: Iowa’s worst congressman ekes out a victory — by Adam Rubenstein: “Steve King has said and done a lot of indecent things. In October, he endorsed Faith Goldy, a white nationalist running for mayor of Toronto. Both King and Goldy have publicly embraced the “great replacement” theory, which posits a coordinated global conspiracy to repopulate countries with immigrants. Usually it’s the Jews who are blamed for this—there were chants of “Jews will not replace us” during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. And in August, while on a foundation-funded trip to visit Holocaust sites in Poland, King took a side trip to Austria to have dinner with members of the far-right Freedom party, which has historical ties to the Nazis…”

“A local GOP insider told me just how much discord there is in the party when it comes to King. “We’re trying to put out a positive message, and he steps on it every day. He used to do a lot [for Iowa]. He’s MIA in D.C.,” he told me. “He’s on his crusade overseas, and he’s leaving Iowa voters behind. No one is comfortable with him anymore.” [WeeklyStandard]

How we got Ayanna Pressley wrong on Israel — by Ron Kampeas: “Pressley’s views on Israel differ little from the long-serving Democrat she unseated in the primary, Michael Capuano… “The Jewish community in Boston has enjoyed a warm and productive relationship with congresswoman-elect Pressley during her nine years holding a Boston citywide elected position,” [Jeremy] Burton said in an email. “During that time and during this year’s campaign, Pressley has sought out the input and perspectives of our leaders and organizations on a range of issues, including the US-Israel partnership,” he said.” [JTA

Rep. John Yarmuth vs. Trump, Bibi — by Danna Harman: “When Rep. John Yarmuth returns to Washington, he will be the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on the Budget. This makes it highly likely he will become its chairman when Congress resumes in January… Today, Yarmuth is at the forefront of Democratic disillusionment with Israel’s leadership. “Unfortunately, Israel has lost a lot of support,” he says. He has dubbed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “the Dick Cheney” of Israel – “willing to say or do anything to scare his crowd into supporting him.” “I once sat across from Netanyahu and looked at him and felt he was the most bold-faced liar I had ever heard,” he says.”

“Yarmuth shakes his head when asked about Netanyahu, as well as Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s recent handling of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. “Trump has clearly made it more acceptable to surface your prejudices,” Yarmuth says… He adds that for Israeli leaders to try to protect Trump at such a moment is “off-putting.” [Haaretz]

Mairav Zonszein writes… “Trump First, Jews Later: What Pittsburgh cemented is just how far the Israeli leadership is willing to go to protect its nationalist interests, even at the expense of condoning explicit forms of anti-Semitism that are couched in a form of white Christian supremacism hostile to immigrants and people of color.” [ForeignPolicy]

Interview — Natan Sharansky believes the current Israeli government is not listening to concerns of diaspora Jews regarding the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, the detention of left-wing activists at Israel’s airport, or the plurality of ways Judaism is practiced. [i24News]

DAYLIGHT? — Tension Between U.S. and Israel Over China Infrastructure Projects — by Amir Tibon and Amos Harel: “Two months ago, Haaretz reported that, at a conference with their Israeli counterparts, retired American admirals warned that Washington was simply astonished at Israel’s decision to award major infrastructure projects, including the construction of a civilian port in Haifa, to Chinese companies… Based on conversations with ministers and other top officials, it now turns out that the Israelis were amazed at the intensity of their American counterparts’ ire on the matter. “They blew up at us,” said one of the Israelis who attended the meetings.” [Haaretz

HEARD YESTERDAY — Stuart Eizenstat speaking at at a policy forumhosted by The Washington Institute: “I support the JCPOA, but at the same time, I also feel that there should be tougher sanctions for [Iran’s] other actions: supporting terrorism, human rights violations, their missile program and so forth… I think that it’s in our interest, I think it’s in Israel’s interest, to keep the JCPOA alive because I think it blunted their capacity to have a nuclear breakthrough and that you can have that position and still believe, as I do, in very tough sanctions outside of the nuclear [pact].”

UPDATE — In yesterday’s Daily Kickoff, we reported the White House is hosting a Hanukkah party on December 5th at 3PM. They are hosting a secondHanukkah party on the same day at 7PM.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Court Case Reveals Alan Dershowitz Had a Contract With a Lobbyist for Qatar — by Dan Friedman: “Joseph “Joey” Allaham… said in a sworn deposition taken on June 19 that he had contracted with Dershowitz for the attorney to provide him with “advisory and consulting” services “in many matters that involved [the] Middle East, especially Israel.”

“Dershowitz told Mother Jones that he “never received a single penny pursuant to that contract” or from any other work with Allaham and that the deal was “never implemented.” Dershowitz said that following a discussion with Allaham in early 2018, Allaham “drafted a retention letter but my legal advice was never actually sought or given.” … “I have done nothing and will do nothing on behalf of any country,” he said.” [MotherJones]

Trump’s New A.G. Worked for Scam Firm That Threatened Victims with Krav Maga–Style Beatdowns — by Bess Levin: “Whitaker’s most crucial role was arguably in using his prior work as a federal prosecutor to intimidate people when they realized World Patent Marketing was a scam. According to e-mails filed by the F.T.C, in August 2015 Whitaker allegedly responded to a customer who had complained about World Patent Marketing to the Better Business Bureau by telling them, “I am assuming you understand that there could be serious civil and criminal consequences for you. Understand that we take threats like this quite seriously.”

“The pièce de résistance, though, would have to be the correspondence sent to unhappy customers suggesting they keep their grievances to themselves, lest an ex-member of the Israeli Special Ops show up on their doorstep: The F.T.C. complaint adds that “Defendants also cultivate a threatening atmosphere” by sending its victims e-mails describing a company “security team” of “all ex-Israeli Special Ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.” [VanityFair]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR  — Bribery Charges Urged Against Four Close to Netanyahu in Submarine Case — by David Halbfinger: “The Israeli police on Thursday recommended the indictment of one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest confidants and three others from his inner circle in a sprawling bribery case involving the multibillion-dollar purchase of submarines and missile boats from Germany… With elections expected early next year, it is unclear how the police recommendations in the submarine case will affect Mr. Netanyahu’s standing. The growing list of people close to the Israeli leader who face possible criminal charges could be used against him by his challengers.” [NYTimes

ON THE GROUND — Qatar pays Gaza salaries to ease tensions; Israel says money’s not for Hamas — by Nidal al-Mughrabi: “A $15 million Qatari cash infusion was paid out to impoverished Palestinian civil servants in Gaza on Friday, offering Hamas a potential domestic reprieve though Israel said the money would not go to the enclave’s dominant Islamist group. Palestinian sources said the Qatari payout, received on Thursday, was the first of a total of $90 million that would come into the Gaza Strip over the next six months with Israeli approval.” [Reuters]

— Neri Zilber tweets“Diplomatic correspondent for Adelson-owned Israel Hayom Ariel Kahana blasts Netanyahu government for giving Hamas money. Compares it to Oslo Accords & Iran nuclear deal. Demands ministers resign. Strong stuff from the hard right.”

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Lloyd Blankfein Was the Unidentified Goldman Executive Present at 2009 1MDB Meeting [Bloomberg] • Will Nancy Pelosi Bring Down the Gavel on Mark Zuckerberg? [VanityFair] • Google has hired Geisinger’s David Feinberg to lead its health strategy [CNBC] • Bob Iger Talks Disney+, Hulu Plans and His Vision for Enlarged TV Studio [Variety

PROFILE — Why Lauren Bush Lauren Is Increasing FEED’s Investment In Brick-And-Mortar — by Alexandra Wilson: “After developing a myriad of product offerings, Bush Lauren is looking to continue to reinvent the brand by taking the ecommerce company into brick-and-mortar locations nationwide. The first-ever physical location opened up last year in the trendy Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn. The shop and cafe offers food, coffee and FEED products, in addition to hosting civic-minded events. Bush Lauren claims that the store has been wildly successful, with the location’s gross profit up nearly 35% from 2017. Additionally, since opening they’ve seen over 60% of customers making repeat purchases. “It was a leap of faith, to some extent, but I still very much believe in brick-and-mortar. It just needs to be done differently,” says Bush Lauren.” [Forbes]

HOLLYWOOD — HBO Lands David Simon’s Fascism Drama ‘The Plot Against America’ — by Tim Baysinger: “The pay cable network has given a production commitment to Simon’s adaptation of the Philip Roth book, “The Plot Against America,” which will be a six-part miniseries. Based on Roth’s 2004 book, the series imagines an alternate American history told through the eyes of a working-class Jewish family in New Jersey, as they watch the political rise of Charles Lindbergh, an aviator-hero and xenophobic populist, who becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism.” [TheWrap]

DESSERT — Five Places to Go in Jerusalem — by Amy Tara Koch: “Jerusalem’s city center has transformed into a vibrant scene, with youthful, often tattooed habitués offering a curious juxtaposition to the religious pilgrims roaming the Holy City. A growing tech scene — there are upward of 500 start ups in the city — has fueled the metamorphosis… Machneyuda: For a meal that is as much a party as a dining experience, this nine-year-old restaurant inside the Machane Yehuda Market… embodies the boisterous spirit and flavors of contemporary Jerusalem. As dishes arrive — Arabic funk blares. Impromptu dancing erupts when the staff gives a signal by banging on kitchen pots.” [NYTimes]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: British Conservative politician and businessman, Baron David Wolfson of Sunningdale, turns 83… British businessman and philanthropist, formerly Chairman of Lloyds TSB, a major UK bank, Sir Maurice Victor Blank turns 76… Professional baseball manager in the minor leagues and college, he managed Team Israel at the WBC qualifier in 2016 and the World Baseball Classic in South Korea and Japan in 2017, Jerry Weinstein turns 75… Israeli war hero who transitioned to a long career in the Knesset (1999-2013) for the National Religious and Jewish Home parties, Zevulun Orlev turns 73… Chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based PR and public affairs firm, Cerrell Associates, Hal Dash turns 70… Chula Vista, California resident, Daniel Ajzen turns 68… Senior producer at NBC Nightly News, Joel Seidman 64… Political consultant and fundraiser, she founded “No Labels” in 2010 to solve problems across the partisan divide, Nancy Jacobson turns 56… Director of Los Angeles-based Remember Us: The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah Project, she was previously the executive director of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Samara Hutman turns 56…

Professor of journalism and media studies at Fordham University, Amy Beth Aronson Ph.D. turns 56… Partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, he represents private equity and venture capital sponsors, Douglas C. Gessnerturns 53… Partner at Covington & Burling specializing in export controls and sanctions, he was previously the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for export administration during the Bush 43 administration, Peter Lichtenbaum turns 53… American-born Israeli fighter pilot turned venture capitalist, he is the author of a 2018 book on the future of Judaism and founder of Clarity Capital, a NYC and Tel Aviv-based investment management firm, Tal Keinan turns 49… Founding Executive Director of OneTable, Aliza Kline turns 47… Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court since 2015, despite being legally blind since birth as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, Richard H. Bernstein turns 44… Cleveland-born, now living in Phoenix, singer, songwriter and rapper, he has collaborated with artists like Gad Elbaz, Lipa Schmeltzer and C Lanzbom, Ari Benjamin Lesser turns 32…

SATURDAY: Lyricist and songwriter for TV, film and stage, who together with her husband, won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song, Marilyn Bergman turns 89… Manager of the Atlanta Hearing Aid Service, Murray Kurtzberg turns 76… Former CNN news anchor whose first day on the job was September 11, 2001, longtime reporter for ABC, Aaron Brown turns 70… Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D. turns 69… DC-based producer for CBS News and 60 Minutes since 2008, after 11 years as a producer for ABC’s news programs, Howard L. Rosenberg turns 67…

ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor, Linda Cohn turns 59… Bar-Ilan University Professor and social historian, ordained by Yeshiva University, Adam Ferziger turns 54… Senior Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, Ken Chasen turns 53… Managing editor for news at Vox since 2018, he was previously in a series of roles at Foreign Policy Magazine (2010-2018), Benjamin Pauker turns 43… Co-founder in 2004 of Yelp, where he remains the CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman turns 41… Senior investigative reporter at ABC News, Josh Margolin turns 39… Global communications official for Bloomberg Philanthropies on public health, Jean B. Weinberg turns 38…

SUNDAY: Russian-born billionaire, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner turns 57… US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2011-2014), now a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution, he is the co-founder and chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Ambassador Norm Eisen turns 58… Attorney in Los Angeles, Gerald Neiter turns 85… Former Democratic US Senator from California (1993-2017), Barbara Boxerturns 78… Author and Senior Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School, Morley Winograd turns 76… Television personality (former host of Double Dare), comedian and talk show host, Marc Summers (born Marc Berkowitz) turns 67… Billionaire businessman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman turns 64… Founder and president of DC-based Plurus Strategies, he served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the Department of Energy during the Clinton administration, David Leiter turns 64…

President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman turns 61… Aish HaTorah teacher in Los Angeles, she holds a law degree and a masters in clinical psychology, author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman turns 61… Talk show host Zev Brenner turns 60… Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR (a Jewish spiritual community led by Rabbi Sharon Brous), Melissa Balaban turns 54… Emmy Award and People’s Choice Award winning television producer, Jason Nidorf “Max” Mutchnick turns 53… Member of the Knesset since 2009, originally representing the Yisrael Beiteinu party but now independent, she is a former model and television anchor, Orly Levy-Abekasis turns 45… Surprise, Arizona resident, Shula Kantor




Daily Kickoff: Amb. Ron Dermer — “After Charlottesville, President Trump did not say the right thing. After Pittsburgh, he did.”

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

BREAKING — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractured three ribs after falling in her Supreme Court office Wednesday night, the Supreme Court said in a statement. [CNN]

SCOOP — According to a copy of an invitation obtained by Jewish Insider, the White House has begun inviting top Jewish supporters to a Hanukkah party in the East Room at 3PM on December 5th.

No word yet on whether Sheldon Adelson will be in attendance. However, the casino mogul attended Trump’s midterms watch party at the White House on Tuesday. In a 2012 interview with Politico, Adelson said he told the then-Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, “I’m not looking for an ambassadorship. I’m not looking for anything, except if I’m fortunate enough to be invited to another [White House] Hanukkah party, I want two potato pancakes, because last time I was there, they ran out of them.” He explained that he went “to all the Hanukkah parties for the eight years of Bush… but the last time I was there, they ran out of… latkes.”

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer at the World Jewish Congress annual Theodor Herzl Award gala at The Pierre Hotel in New York: “I would love to believe that anti-Semitism began a couple of years ago. But that is simply not true. Anti-Semitism is not only a millennia-old problem, but it has also been rising around the world for the past couple of decades… Unfortunately, in a world in which every single thing is immediately politicized, [the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting] too was immediately politicized. But the struggle against anti-Semitism must not be politicized. It must bring together people of goodwill on all sides, who will stand together in common cause against those who would hate Jews.”

To those of you who are convinced about what is driving antisemitism in America today, consider this: The last year for which FBI statistics exist about anti-Semitic incidents in America is 2016… Well, in 2016, according to FBI statistics, there were 684 hate crimes against Jews in America. That’s over half of all the hate crimes against religious groups. Many people feel that the heated rhetoric during the campaign, in 2016, had contributed greatly to the rise of anti-Semitism. Perhaps it did,” Dermer noted. “But, here is something you probably don’t know: In 2008, those same FBI statistics show that there were over 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents in America. In the year 2000, there were over 1,100. I say this only because if we are to fight anti-Semitism, we must put away the politics and stand together.” [Video]

Dermer on Trump’s response to the Pittsburgh shooting: “After Charlottesville, President Trump did not say the right thing. After Pittsburgh, he did. He condemned the anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms. He said something that I had never heard a non-Jewish leader say. He said that those who try to destroy the Jews, we will destroy them. And after saying the right thing, President Trump did the right thing by going to Pittsburgh and paying his respects to those who were murdered for being Jews. I wish that others would have joined me in greeting him there because frankly, nothing would have sent a stronger message to the Jew-haters than to see people putting politics aside, and standing together with the President of the United States in opposing them and the evil they represent.” [Video

The Israeli Ambassador at the beginning of his remarks: “Remember, two Rons don’t make a right,” Dermer joked in reference to Ron Lauder, the host of the event and head of the World Jewish Congress, describing him as a ‘man of his people.’ “So Ronald, on behalf of a grateful Jewish state, I thank you for all you have done for the Jewish people,” Dermer said. [Video]

Dermer also introduced Bob Kraft, CEO of the Kraft Group and owner of the New England Patriots, who was presented with the WJC’s Teddy Kollek Award. “My first impression of him was simply that he was a real mensch,” said Dermer.”Over the years as I got to know Bob I realized that he wasn’t a mensch at all. He was actually a mega-mensch.” [Video]

Kraft to Dermer: “Your passion for Israel and for the Jewish people is something that I have always admired. And with your love to Israel, you have been and always will be a great ambassador.”

In his remarks accepting the award, Kraft pledged that in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh attack he would further his efforts “each day to commit random acts of kindness and use some of my resources I have been blessed to have in my life to help combat anti-Semitism and all hate crimes.” Kraft added, “I have been privileged to see the power of sports and the effect it can have in bringing people together from all different backgrounds and to break down barriers.”

SPOTTED: Ambassador Danny Danon, Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, French Ambassador François Delattre, Baron David de Rothschild, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Robert Singer, Leon Black, Aryeh Bourkoff, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Ed Cox, Malcolm Hoenlein, Ari Shavit, Ira Rennert, Israel Maimon, Chela Safra, Arthur Stark, Jane and David Walentas, Lauren Veronis, John Veronis, Adam Berish, Abe Biderman, Josh Spinner, George Klein, Ray Kelly, Alex Levy, Aliyana Traison, Jason Koppel, Mark Botnick, Brian Cohen, and Sam Schear.

Two Trump whisperers on the rightPhoto by Shahar Azran 

YESTERDAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE — President Trump brushed off a question about rising anti-Semitism in the United States by quoting Benjamin Netanyahu and pointing to the Jerusalem Embassy move during a post-midterms press conference.

“If you were with us the last time we met, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that, ‘This President has done more for Israel than any other President.’ Those words. Those exact words,” Trump said. “Jerusalem, protection, working together — so many different things. But the big thing is Jerusalem. You know, many, many Presidents have said they are going to build the embassy in Jerusalem. [It] never happened… But it happened with me, and quickly… Nobody has done more for Israel than Donald Trump. And the nice part is that’s not me saying it; that’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.” [CSPAN] • Donald Trump Says He Is Fighting White Nationalism, Anti-Semitism By Increasing Tariffs on China [Newsweek]

Michael Koplow: “And there you go – Trump uses moving the embassy and Netanyahu’s endorsement of him as pro-Israel as inoculation against any association with anti-Semitism.”

A White Nationalist Leader Just Posted Pics From His White House Visit — by Asawin Suebsaeng and Will Sommer: “The leader of a white nationalist group whose members marched in the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville proudly posted pictures on Wednesday from a visit to the White House… “Evropa has landed at the White House!” [Patrick] Casey tweeted. White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters emailed The Daily Beast that Casey “was one of more than twenty-five thousand people who came to the White House Fall Garden Tour, which is open to the public.” [DailyBeast]

ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt tweets: “Identity Evropa is a white supremacist group that popularized “you will not replace us” chant; Casey is its leader. We demand the White House answer why he was there. The White House should be #NoPlaceForHate.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks writes… “The Courage of Persistence: One of the best books about anti-Semitism, is in fact not about anti-Semitism at all, but about similar phenomena in other contexts, Amy Chua’s World on Fire. Her thesis is that any conspicuously successful minority will attract envy that may deepen into hate and provoke violence. All three conditions are essential. The hated group must be conspicuous, for otherwise it would not be singled out. It must be successful, for otherwise it would not be envied. And it must be a minority, for otherwise it would not be attacked.”

“Anti-Semitism is a complex, protean phenomenon because anti-Semites must be able to hold together two beliefs that seem to contradict one another: Jews are so powerful that they should be feared, and at the same time so powerless that they can be attacked without fear. It would seem that no one could be so irrational as to believe both of these things simultaneously. But emotions are not rational, despite the fact that they are often rationalized, for there is a world of difference between rationality and rationalization.” [RabbiSacks]

TOP TALKER — Trudeau Apologizes for Canada’s Turning Away Ship of Jews Fleeing Nazis — by Catherine Porter: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood in Parliament on Wednesday and apologized for Canada’s decision to turn away a steamliner full of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany on the eve of the Holocaust 79 years ago, saying it reflected years of regrettable anti-Semitic foreign policy… “We apologize to the mothers and fathers whose children we did not save, to the daughters and sons whose parents we did not help,” Mr. Trudeau said.” [NYTimes]

JUSTICE OUT OF SESSION — Sessions’s ouster throws future of special counsel probe into question — by Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Carol Leonnig: “The future of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign was thrown into uncertainty Wednesday after President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions… A Justice Department official said Wednesday that [Matthew] Whitaker would assume final decision-making authority over the special counsel probe instead of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein… It wasn’t immediately clear what role, if any, Rosenstein may play in the probe going forward.” [WashPost] • Rod Rosenstein Attends White House Meeting After Sessions Fired [DailyBeast]

ON THE HILL — Democrats prepare to investigate all aspects of Trump’s foreign policy — by Josh Rogin: “The incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), told me his committee will waste no time before beginning inquiries into how the White House, the State Department and even the Trump Organization have been conducting foreign policy. “The White House needs to take us seriously, and if they don’t, we are going to make sure they take us seriously,” Engel said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt… But if not, I intend to use every prerogative that I have to ensure oversight.” [WashPost

STATE-SIDE — Florida governor-elect says his first trip abroad will be to Israel: “Florida’s newly elected governor, Ron DeSantis, long a pro-Israel stalwart in Congress, has said his first visit abroad in his new position will be to the Jewish state, days after winning a bitter election contest. DeSantis… told the Israel Hayom paper he… planned to strongly enforce existing legislation against BDS.” [ToIIsraelHayom]

Trump remains divisive in Modern Orthodox community — by Amy Spiro: “Several community members have told me they stopped accepting Shabbat meal invitations from those whose political positions pained them. Others said they do everything they can to steer conversations around the Shabbat table away from politics. One even said they walked out of a meal before dessert was served as the rhetoric intensified. Two years after Trump’s election, the divide remains. Many are pleased by Trump’s vocal support of Israel… Others are disturbed by his race-baiting rhetoric…” [JPost]

Trump Isn’t America’s Richest Politician Anymore. Illinois’ New Governor J.B. Pritzker Is — by Deniz Cam: “Hyatt heir and longtime Democratic donor J.B. Pritzker gave a record $171.5 million of his own money to his campaign to become Illinois’ new governor. And just a little over an hour after the polls closed, Pritzker found out it was money well spent… Once Pritzker assumes office, he will be the richest sitting politician in the country, worth an estimated $3.2 billion, surpassing President Trump, who currently holds that title with a net worth of $3.1 billion.” [Forbes]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — With Mideast peace plan, Kushner prepares his debut — by Michael Wilner: “State Department sources tell The Jerusalem Post that Kushner recently visited Foggy Bottom to begin preparing for a more public role centered on the plan… While Trump is likely to announce the plan in a formal speech, Kushner is expected, from that point on, to serve as the public face of the peace effort.” [JPost]

Emboldened by Trump, Israel’s Netanyahu suggests a tough new approach to the Palestinian territories — by Noga Tarnopolsky: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started the week with a statement that in the past might have provoked an international outcry: “The ‘occupation’ is nonsense,” he said… Both inside and outside Israel, critics and admirers of Netanyahu… believe he has been emboldened by his close alliance with President Trump, discarding once-unquestioned diplomatic tenets.” [LATimes]

Inside the Saudi crown prince’s meeting with U.S. evangelicals — by Barak Ravid: “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) told a group of American evangelical leaders last Thursday that he is going to punish those responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi but stressed that the crisis must not shift the focus away from the Iranian threat in the region and the world, Joel Rosenberg, who organized the delegation and attended the meeting, told me.

“The Saudi crown prince spoke for half an hour about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and about the warming relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Rosenberg said. “We did bring up — maybe the most sensitive issue was … the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On that he talked to us at length but asked us not to be public on that part of the conversation.” [Axios]

ON THE GROUND — US envoy: Russia should maintain ‘permissive approach’ to Israeli raids in Syria: “The United States envoy for Syria said Wednesday that he hoped to see… Russia maintain a “permissive approach” to Israeli airstrikes on Iranian assets in the war-torn country. “In the past Russia has been permissive in consultation with the Israelis about Israeli strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria,” US envoy James Jeffrey said. “We certainly hope that that permissive approach will continue,” he told journalists in a conference call.” [ToINewsweek

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: HBO Boss Richard Plepler Fires Back At Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen: “We’re Actually Perplexed By Their Unwillingness”[Deadline] • Jeff Zucker to CNN Staffers After Latest Trump Attack: “We Have Your Backs” [HollywoodReporter] • Property group Colony Capital ousts chief Richard Saltzman [FinancialTimes] • Royal Mint rejected Roald Dahl coin over anti-Semitic views [TheGuardian] • Qatar agrees to buy London’s Grosvenor House hotel from Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. [Reuters] • Bank of Jerusalem raises offer in Dexia Israel Bank bidding war [Reuters] • Top Russian oligarchs asked to skip Davos [BusinessStandard]

TALK OF THE TOWN — San Francisco has passed a first-of-its-kind tax on big businesses — like Square and Stripe — to help the homeless — by Shirin Ghaffary: “San Francisco voters passed a measure that has divided the tech community… Proposition C will raise the city’s gross receipts tax by an average of .5 percent on annual gross receipts over $50 million that companies like Square, Lyft and Salesforce generate… The decision to increase funding for the city’s most needy is a victory for the local nonprofits behind the measure and their tech fairy godfather, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who, along with his company, has poured more than $7 million into the campaign in the month leading up to the election.” [Recode]

HOLLYWOOD — Jason Blum Wasn’t Forced From Stage After Anti-Trump Speech, Israel Film Festival Says — by Pat Saperstein: “The Israel Film Festival has released a statement after Jason Blum was booed offstage Wednesday night while making remarks critical of Donald Trump while he was accepting an award… Festival director Meir Fenigstein attributed the incident to “some audience members” who “greatly lacked that respect” and said that the festival did not remove Blum; rather, he was asked to step down from the stage for his own safety.” [Variety]

ABC Developing Romantic Drama ‘Until the Wedding’ Based On Israeli Format — by Nellie Andreeva: “ABC has put in development Until the Wedding, a romantic drama based on the Israeli series of the same name (Ad Hatuna in Hebrew). The project hails from writer Becky Mode (Smash), producers Sarah Timberman & Carl Beverly (Elementary, SEAL Team), Alon Aranya (Betrayal, Hostages), Israel’s Reshet Media and ABC Studios where Timberman-Beverly Prods. is under a deal. Based on the Israeli format, Until the Wedding is the story of how one couple’s decision to get married can affect everyone in their lives.” [Deadline]

Why #MeToo Activist Alyssa Milano Will Not Speak at Next Women’s March — by Ariel Sobel: “Any time that there is any bigotry or anti-Semitism in that respect, it needs to be called out and addressed. I’m disappointed in the leadership of the Women’s March that they haven’t done it adequately,” Milano says now, referring to leaders of the Women’s March who’ve refused to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic, homophobic, and transphobic statements.” [Advocate]

BIRTHDAYS: United States Attorney for New Jersey (1971-1973), then a US District Court Judge (1973-1987), now a criminal defense attorney, Herbert Jay Stern turns 82… Actress, comedian and writer, she played the recurring role of Doris Klompus on Seinfeld, her solo theatre shows include “Yenta Unplugged” and “The Yenta Cometh,” Annie Korzen turns 80… CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, he was a senior White House aide to President Bill Clinton (1993-1998), Ira Magaziner turns 71… Senior managing director and head of global government affairs for Blackstone, Wayne Berman turns 62… President of the board of directors at Jewish Community High School of the Bay (San Francisco Bay Area), Michael Sosebee turns 62… Michelle Silverstein turns 61… Major General in the IDF, his military career (1977-2012) included heading the Southern Command, now the Minister of Construction and member of Knesset for the Kulanu party, Yoav Galant turns 60…

Cedarhurst resident and Manhattan attorney, Charles “Chesky” Wertmanturns 56… Senior Director of Bono’s The ONE Campaign, Laurie Moskowitzturns 54… Immediate past President of University Women at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Allison Gingold turns 50… Popular Israeli female vocalist in the Mizrahi music genre, Zehava Ben turns 50… Sports journalist for ESPN Deportes, he was born in Ashkelon, raised in Mexico and lives in California, he has covered both the World Cup and the Summer Olympics many times, David Moshé Faitelson turns 50… Teacher, writer, editor and diversity consultant, she is the CEO of Boston-based Dimensions Educational Consulting, she founded and led Ayecha (a nonprofit advocacy group for Jews of color), Yavilah McCoy turns 46… Allan Waxman




Daily Kickoff: The Fight for the Future of the Democratic Party

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

FIGHT FOR FUTURE OF DEM PARTY — NYT’s Alex Burns on The Daily podcast this morning: “Democrats are saying to each other that they are going to need to play their cards really, really well [going into 2020]. To take on Trump, they are going to need to be really careful about the fights they pick with him from the majority in the House, and I expect you are going to see somewhat greater skepticism about some of the more bluntly left-wing candidates who are preparing to run for president, because that theory of the case really did not deliver victory to their party this week.”

Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour lamented last night’s results and the state of the Democratic Party: “This was not a blue wave, this was a blue dribble. We didn’t win overwhelmingly and it doesn’t look good if we don’t get our act straight for 2020… What Democrats do immediately when there’s politics of fear coming from the opposition is they cower. They stay away from the Palestinians, they stay away from the leftists, and they stay away from the socialists. They stay away from those of us who are actually creating the momentum and the energy that is on the ground.”

“The Democratic Party doesn’t have a foreign policy platform that… works for people like me. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who I love dearly, doesn’t have a foreign policy platform. She doesn’t have a lot of information. If you asked her about Iran, you can ask her about Palestine, we saw some of the kind of exchanges that she had, that didn’t kind of go very well… And then the minute that positioning comes in with fear politics, we cower, right? We go, ‘Oh, AIPAC is mad at us. Oh, those folks, the pro-Israel groups are mad at us.’ If you’re not willing to go all the way progressive, you’re just not going to win against Donald Trump in 2020.” [Video]

Alan Dershowitz tells us… “The Democrats will lose if they move to the far left. Many far left candidates lost yesterday precisely because they didn’t represent centrist Democrats. Sarsour is an enemy of democracy and America, and of Israel.”

Ann Lewis emails us… “As I read it, Sarsour is complaining that in an election when Democrats flipped the House and won important Governors, and legislative chambers – they stayed away from her and her friends. If that is her point, this may be the rare instance when I agree with her.”

Dem pollster Mark Mellman: “Democrats on the left and center won today, and Democrats on the left and center lost today. No one can take an ideological lesson from this election. The Democrats who won were the ones who represented their particular constituencies.”

NY-based Dem campaign consultant, Hank Sheinkopf: “Now the secret is out—the long ongoing divorce between the pro-Israel forces and the Democratic Party left gains more speed. When people tell you what they think and what they plan to do, you should really pay attention. Linda Sarsour’s rhetoric has one aim and one direction. First, it’s the Zionists are not allowed entry. But next, it will likely be the silly Jews who think they are immune.”

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “The results in the House reflect ongoing demographic shifts in the United States, as more younger voters, women, and minorities are moving into leadership roles. That is going to continue. It will be wise for Israel to build and strengthen relationships with these members and demographic groups, in the interest of maintaining the bipartisanship that has been such a key pillar of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Andrew Weinstein, a Florida-based attorney and prominent Democratic donor, tells us… “The fact that [Rep.] Ted Deutch is about to chair the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee should give you a pretty good indication of the importance Democrats in Congress place on our relationship with Israel.”

West Bank kin cheer first Palestinian-American woman in U.S. Congress — by Rami Ayyub and Ali Sawafta: “Tuning into the news at dawn on Wednesday, the extended family of Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, celebrated her victory in their home in the West Bank… She has become “a source of pride for Palestine and the entire Arab and Muslim world,” her uncle, Bassam Tlaib, said in the small village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa. “I’m going to speak truth to power,” Tlaib told the Detroit Free Press on election night on Tuesday.” [Reuters]

VIRGINIA HOUSE RACE — Leslie Cockburn (D), who was accused of anti-Semitism for her 1991 book, Dangerous Liaison, and its conspiracy theories regarding Israel, lost a bid to flip an open Republican-held seat in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District to Denver Riggleman. Headline on the race from USA Today: “Accused ‘Bigfoot erotica’ devotee elected to House in Virginia, defeats Olivia Wilde’s mom.”

RJC’s Matt Brooks tells us… “We invested significant resources in defeating Cockburn. We’re very, very happy that she will not be coming to the United States Congress. I think that what we did there had a consequential impact on the outcome of that race.”

Source at a leading pro-Israel organization tells us… “The pro-Israel community is delighted that its two major priorities were achieved last night – Cockburn was defeated and [Sen. Bob] Menendez got re-elected. The overwhelming majority of newly elected House Democrats issued solidly pro-Israel policy papers.”

Aaron Davis, J Street political director, emails us… “J Street was proud to support Leslie Cockburn, who ran a very strong race but came up short in a district that President Trump won by over 10 points in 2016.”

KEY SENATE RACES — Democrats picked up a Senate seat in Nevada with Jacky Rosen’s win over Sen. Dean Heller… In Indiana, Sen. Joe Donnelly, who recently worked on bipartisan pro-Israel legislation — targeting Hamas and Hezbollah for using human shields — with Sen. Ted Cruz (R), lost his re-election bid… Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) easily beat his Republican opponent Bob Hugin after a close fight… Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) narrowly wonhis first tough reelection bid against Beto O’Rourke…  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) won his re-election bid in a contested race against Patrick Morrisey… Josh Hawley, a Republican who suggested that the Iran nuclear deal was a choice between the Iranian mullahs or America, defeatedincumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri’s Senate race… Martha McSally (R) is leading Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema 49-48 in Arizona’s open Senate seat…

Mitt Romney is headed to Washington after all — as U.S. Senator for Utah — by Dennis Romboy: “Mitt Romney is headed to Washington after all. The former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts governor can add U.S. senator to his list of political accomplishments after cruising to victory Tuesday… Though he will head to the nation’s capital as Utah’s junior senator, Romney will have instant credibility with his Republican colleagues, though he won’t wield near the power of the venerable Hatch. Some observers expect him to seek positions on the Senate foreign relations and national security committees.” [DeseretNews]

HOUSE RACES WE WERE WATCHING… Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) won re-election against Perry Gershon in New York’s 1st Congressional District… Max Rose (D) beat Republican incumbent Dan Donovan in NY’s 11th District… Antonio Delgado (D) defeated incumbent Rep. John Faso in NY’s 19th District… Tom Malinowski (D) ousted 5-term Rep. Leonard Lance in New Jersey’s 7th District… Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick  (R) bested Scott Wallace in Pennsylvania’s 1st District… Susan Wild defeated Marty Nothstein in PA’s 7th District… Elaine Luria won against Rep. Scott Taylor in Virginia’s 2nd District… Abigail Spanberger defeated Rep. Dave Brat, who beat former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014, in VA’s 7th District… Ayanna Pressley (D) — who supports a House bill that would require the U.S. to ensure that military aid to Israel is not used for the “detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children” — won an uncontested race in Massachusetts’s 7th District… In Minnesota’s 5th District, Ilhan Omar celebrated becoming one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

Elissa Slotkin (D) unseated Rep. Mike Bishop in Michigan’s 8th District… Lena Epstein, who sought to become the first Jewish Republican woman elected to Congress, fell short in her bid for the open seat in MI’s 11th District… Kathy Manning (D) lost her bid for North Carolina’s 13th District… Dean Phillips (D) was declared the winner in Minnesota’s 3rd District against Rep. Erik Paulsen (R)… Democrat Harley Rouda is leading Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) in California’s 48th District… Donna Shalala (D) turned outgoing Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat blue in Florida’s 27th District… Rep. Duncan Hunter was re-elected in CA’s 50th District, defeating Ammar Campa-Najjar… Controversial Rep. Steve King (R) won a 9th term in Iowa’s 4th District… Former Nazi Party leader Arthur Jones lost his bid in Illinois’s 3rd District, but he still received more than 55,000 votes…

CNN EXIT POLLJewish voters preferred Democrats over Republican candidates by a 79 to 17 percentage point margin.

INBOX — Michael Bloomberg on the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives: “By winning the House, Democrats can now serve as a bulwark against a White House that has shown no respect for the rule of law – and no interest in bringing the country together. The Democrats’ gains demonstrate that the American people want Congress to stand up to a reckless, divisive president – and to work across the aisle to tackle tough issues. Millions of Americans poured their hearts into the campaign to retake the House – and I was proud to be a part of the effort. We can do better in America today, and we must start now.”

HEARD THIS MORNING — Dan Senor on CBS This Morning: “It’s not like Obama 2010. It’s not like Clinton in 1994… This has not been like a siege in terms of a radicalized electorate, completely turning Congress upside down. That said, [Republicans] are living with the reality… They said it to me last night, they said to me this morning, ‘We are about to be besieged by investigations, and the conservative policy agenda is over.'” [Video]

JI READERS REACT TO THE ELECTION RESULTS — Norm Eisen:“The president’s ability to dodge accountability for him and those around him for possible obstruction and collusion ended tonight. If at least one House of Congress had not changed hands, he could have terminated Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation with total impunity. Now, the House of Representatives is there to pick up the torch if he tries–or even if he doesn’t. There will be oversight of much more as well, including emoluments, ethics violations, nepotism, and outrageous self-dealing by Mr. Trump, his family and his cabinet and appointees. It is about time.”

Dan Shapiro: “It’s a mixed picture. Americans returned to their preference for divided government by flipping the House to Democrats. That also reflects a sense that President Trump’s excesses need balancing, which Democratic committee chairs can provide with oversight and investigations, if not in legislation. Democrats performed well in suburban districts where Trump is unpopular, like New Jersey-7 where Tom Malinowski won, and Michigan-8, where Elissa Slotkin appears to have won. I supported both of these excellent candidates, who were colleagues of mine in the Obama Administration. But Trump showed that he still has support in key states where he campaigned, like Ohio and Florida. Democrats will need a candidate in 2020 who can compete well in these purple states.”

Former Senator Norm Coleman, who also serves as National Chair of the RJC, emails us… “It was not unexpected that the House went Democrat. Historically Democrats pick up 30 seats in the first midterm of the president of the opposing party. Republicans have done really well in expanding our majority in the Senate. Predictions of a huge blue wave were severely overrated. Interesting to note that Democrats who voted against Kavanaugh in red states all went down to defeat. The only Democrat in a red state to survive was Manchin, who voted for Kavanaugh.”

Tevi Troy: “The conventional wisdom mostly held in this cycle, which is by no means typical in recent elections. This could mean that pollsters are finally getting better at analyzing and predicting the smartphone era electorate. From a legislative standpoint, the safest bet is two years of gridlock, as cooperation still seems a bridge too far between two bitterly divided parties.”

HEARD ON CABLE ― CNN’s Jake Tapper: “[Trump] just lost the House.”Wolf Blitzer: “But he did manage to hold on to the Senate.” Tapper: “I know, and mazel tov. But the bottom line is: this is not a good night for President Trump.” [Video]

IN FLORIDA — Democrats failed in their bid to take over the Florida governorship, and incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D) lost a tight Senate race to outgoing Governor Rick Scott. But an amendment to Florida’s constitution that would restore voting rights for felons passed by an overwhelming majority. The initiative was backed by George Soros, Seth Klarman, Stacy Schusterman, and several Jewish groups. According to Andrew Weinstein, Amendment 4 will guarantee that 10 percent of Florida’s voting-age population — and 21% of its black adults — will be eligible to vote in 2020. “That’s a very big deal,” he said.

ELSEWHERE — Jared Polis (D) made history by becoming the first Jewish governor of Colorado and the first openly gay person to serve in the post… J. B. Pritzker (D) soundly defeated first-term Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, becoming Illinois’s 43rd governor… Andrew Cuomo (D) won a third term as New York Governor as Democrats sweep key statewide races… In Maryland, Ben Jealous and running mate Susan Turnbull lost their bid to unseat Republican Governor Larry Hogan… Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lost his bid for a third term…

WHITE HOUSE SCENE ― Sheldon Adelson, Steve Schwarzman, Tom Barrack, Ike Perlmutter, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Harold Hamm, Michael Milken, Howard Lorber, Dan Gilbert and Steve Witkoff joined President Trump, his family, and close aides to watch the election results last night, according to Maggie HabermanJeremy Diamond, and Jennifer Jacobs.

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT  — Steve Schwarzman, John Waldron Spend Night Before Midterms at the Library — by Amanda Gordon: “On the eve of the midterm elections, a mix of money and intellect gathered at the New York Public Library’s annual black-tie gala. There was Steve Schwarzman… and New Yorker editor David Remnick, who in a dispatch on Monday called President Trump “an unceasing generator of toxic gas that raises the national temperature.” Schwarzman was cagey about his desired outcome in the U.S. Congress. “Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter,” he said of his preference. “What will come out, comes out.” … Boaz Weinstein, founder of Saba Capital… said he was rooting for a “fair and balanced” Congress.” [Bloomberg]

SCENE IN LA — Producer Jason Blum Booed At L.A.’s Israel Film Festival For Anti-Trump Remarks — by David Caspi: “Film and television producer Jason Blum was booed and physically removed from the stage after making controversial political statements in an acceptance speech at the 32nd Israeli Film Festival on Tuesday night. The Oscar-nominated producer of Get Out and the current Halloween sequel was presented with the 2018 IFF Achievement in Film & Television Award and suggested the recent uptick in anti-semitism could be attributed to President Donald Trump, which was immediately met with several members of the crowd booing him.” [HollywoodReporter]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy Cabinet minister for public diplomacy and a former ambassador to Washington, says the results made it more likely that President Donald Trump would turn to international diplomacy to reach a deal for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Oren has told The Associated Press: “There is no issue which would have greater reverberations, not just on the right but in the center and maybe even on parts of the left that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

“He says the results have a two-pronged influence on Israel. The first is to view the Democratic retaking of the House as an opportunity for Israel to reach out again to Democrats and liberal Jews who overwhelmingly supported them after years of the Jewish state perceived as enthusiastically praising Trump. The second is to try and push for as many concrete solutions to its chief concerns — Iran, Syria and the Palestinians — while Trump remains in the White House.” [AP]

TALK OF THE REGION — Israeli Spyware May Have Helped Khashoggi Killers, Snowden Says — by Michael Arnold: “Israel-based NSO Group Ltd. may have helped Saudi Arabia track and kill government critic Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month, fugitive U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden told an Israeli audience by video conference… The company’s Pegasus software, which can infect a target’s smartphone and in effect turn it into a spying device, had been installed on the phone of another Saudi dissident who was in contact with Khashoggi, Snowden said… This could have helped the Saudis track Khashoggi and lure him to the consulate, Snowden said, without giving any evidence that it did.”[Bloomberg]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Fox-Disney Deal Adds Drama to Long-Running Bob Iger Succession [Bloomberg] • Carlyle’s David Rubenstein Says China Is Best Place to Invest Outside of U.S. [Bloomberg] • Fintech start-up Sharegain targets fund managers with securities lending platform [FinancialTimes] • Appeal of BLM-Wexner land swap near Carbondale in judge’s hands [AspenTimes

What ‘the De Niro of Israel’ Stole From Tony Shalhoub for ‘The Band’s Visit’ — by Gordon Cox: “Sasson Gabay… never saw Shalhoub’s performance live, but he did catch a recording of it. “I took from the tape gestures that he’d done,” Gabay said on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “And I think I stole from him a laugh that he managed to do. He told me, ‘Feel free to take anything.’ And as much as I could, I took from him!” Gabay’s current Broadway run is part of a full-circle journey for the actor, after he first played Tewfiq in the 2007 Israeli film that inspired the musical. “For me personally, it was kind of a big, giant step in my career,” the actor said of his part in the movie. “It made me known for the film viewer, and also for the film industry. And since then, I have been offered roles even more.” [Variety]

Hitler in war, Merkel in peace: A train car for history  — by Thomas Adamson: “[Adolf] Hitler literally tried to rewrite history in 1940 when the Nazi leader commanded the dining coach to serve France the humiliation Germany suffered in that same spot on the last day of World War I. This time, [Angela] Merkel will have the French president by her side as she visits what remains of the Wagon of Compiegne, the carriage-turned-office where the Allies and Germany signed the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Measles outbreak in Israel prompts warning in New York — by Susan Scutti: “Measles has been diagnosed in 17 children in the Orthodox Jewish community in the Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods in Brooklyn, the New York City Department of Health stated Friday. Some of the infected children, who range in age from 7 months to 4 years, have experienced complications including hospitalizations, but there have been no deaths. Three of the children were infected on a visit to Israel, where there is a large outbreak of the disease, the department stated.” [CNN]

BIRTHDAYS: Neuropsychiatrist, a 1944 graduate of Yeshiva of Flatbush and 2000 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, Eric Kandel turns 89… Former United States Senator from Minnesota (1978-1991) who later served on the boards of AIPAC and JINSA, Rudy Boschwitz turns 88… Stage, screen and television actor, Barry Newman turns 80… MIT professor in electrical engineering and computer science, Barbara Liskov turns 79… Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2002-2010), the last four years of which he served as Vice Chairman, Donald Kohn turns 76… University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard, expert on Shakespeare and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stephen Greenblatt turns 75… Founding partner of Los Angeles-based law firm of Selvin & Weiner, Beryl Weiner turns 75… Canadian entrepreneur and CEO of Canadian Arctic luxury apparel company, Canada Goose, Dani Reiss turns 45…

SVP of global public affairs at Blackstone, she was previously the senior director of corporate reputation at GE and a deputy press secretary in the Obama White House (2014-2017), Jennifer B. Friedman turns 38… New Mexico native now living in Chicago, he is the editor of NM Fishbowl focused on the business side of collegiate sports, Daniel Libit turns 36 (h/t Playbook)… Ph.D. candidate at the Yale University Department of Nursing following three years as an RN at Johns Hopkins Hospital and multiple media stints, Avi Zenilmanturns 34… Campaign reporter at Politico, focused on House and Senate races, she was formerly a news assistant at the New York Times, Elena Schneiderturns 28… Toronto-native, he is the founder and CEO of Count Me In, a global youth empowerment organization, Shane Feldman turns 24… Co-Founder and CEO at NYX Technologies, Tomer Aharonovitch

JI Viewpoints on 2nd Anniversary of Iran deal

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “Two years into the deal, I think that the indications are that Iran is in compliance with…

Kafe Knesset for July 14

Friday, July 14, 2017

Calls to change the status quo on Temple Mount: After this morning’s terrorist attack on the Temple Mount, in which three assailants opened fire, killing two border policemen,…

State Dept Questions if Taylor Force Act ‘Accomplishes’ Objective of Stopping Terror

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Top State Department official notes Palestinian progress in cutting terror payments WASHINGTON – A top State Department official expressed skepticism regarding the efficiency of the Taylor Force Act…

Bipartisan Letter Demands Answers on Bob Levinson

Thursday, July 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – Nearly two dozen lawmakers led by Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) published a letter to President Donald Trump imploring the White House to increase…

Kafe Knesset for July 13

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dropping like flies: The walls seem to be closing in on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as several of his closest allies have been implicated in corruption scandals. Yesterday…

Kafe Knesset for July 12

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Gabbay Effect: The Labor Party has jumped in the polls a day after Avi Gabbay won the leadership contest. Under Isaac Herzog, the party had taken a nosedive…