Daily Kickoff: Charlie Kushner defends son & Co. | Unanimous Knesset applause for Pence’s Shehecheyanu | RBG on SNL doppelgänger | Kraft-Lurie Bowl

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RARE INTERVIEW: “Jared Kushner’s father on probe into family company: ‘We are not at all concerned'” by Michael Kranish: “Charles Kushner walked recently into his corner office on Fifth Avenue, his window framing a view of nearby Trump Tower. On the wall was a magazine cover of his son, Jared Kushner, headlined, “This Guy Got Trump Elected,” along with a photo of daughter-in-law Ivanka Trump… In his first interview since his son entered the White House, Charles Kushner said the company has no concerns about the investigations… Still, the criticism of his son, and the questions about whether Jared Kushner left behind a troubled company, have been searing. “I try not to focus in my life on the haters but it’s just, I have never seen anything like this,” Kushner said…”

“I could not be prouder of the things he is doing and the sacrifice he has made to try to do some good things for the people who live in our country and maybe some good things for people who live in the world,” Charles Kushner said. “I see my son taking up the Middle East, the impact on the world could be dramatic.” Asked how his son is qualified to take on so many responsibilities in the White House, Kushner responded that he gave all of his children a “lot of responsibility at young ages.” [WashPost]

DRIVING THE DAY — #VPinIsrael — During Knesset speech, Pence announces the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will take place in 2019: “In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem — and that the United States embassy will open before the end of next year.” [Video]

WHAT PENCE DID NOT SAY — U.S. could possibly move the embassy gradually — by Josh Lederman and Matt Lee: “A temporary plan that has been presented to Tillerson would see an existing U.S. consular building in West Jerusalem designated as the interim embassy until the new one is built… Under the most likely scenario, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and a handful of top aides and support staff would open temporary offices in the Jerusalem annex by this spring — possibly as early as April.” [AP

HOW IT PLAYED: “The Vice President looked notably at ease after more awkward meetings in Egypt and Jordan, where he has been defending the U.S. decision.” [WashPost]

HIGHLIGHTS — Pence recited the Shehecheyanu blessing in Hebrew: “In April, we will celebrate 70 years since Israel’s independence. As you prepare to commemorate this historical milestone, I say along with the good people of Israel, here and around the world, ‘Shehekheyanu v’kiyamanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh’…” [Video]

Pence on Iran deal certification: “This is the last time: Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed, President Trump, the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately… The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Netanyahu to Pence: “It’s fitting that you are the first American vice president to speak at the Knesset in Jerusalem because no American Vice President has had a greater commitment to Israel and its people.”

When only the opposition applauded Pence: “The President is fully committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and if both sides agree, the United States will support a two-state solution.”

“Mike Pence’s Israel Speech Disrupted By Brawl After Arab Lawmaker Protest” by Jack Moore: “The lawmakers from the Arab Joint List, Israel’s third-biggest party, were forcibly ejected from the speech that they had earlier promised to boycott… Footage showed Israeli security officers ripping the placards from the lawmakers’ hands before engaging in a tussle to get them out of the hall.” [NewsweekVideo]

— Andrea Mitchell‏: “The 13 Israeli-Arab members of Israel’s Parliament held up signs saying “Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine” and were forcibly removed by security as Pence started to speak. Can you imagine Capitol Police dragging members of the congressional black caucus off the House floor?” [Twitter]

— Lahav Harkov replied to Mitchell: “Wrong on several points. 1, they are not “THE 13 Israeli-Arab members” – there are others. 2, it is always against the Knesset rules to hold up signs or use props and there are examples spanning decades of ppl being removed bc of it. 3, ushers, not security guards led them out” [Twitter

Pence began his day with an honor guard ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The two leaders met privately followed by an expanded bilateral meeting. “This is the first time that I’m standing when both leaders can say those three words, ‘Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,'” Netanyahu said in a statement at the start of the meeting. [Video]

WH pool: “Andrea Mitchell of NBC asked Mr. Netanyahu about the timing of the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem. “We can do it by next week,” Mr. Netanyahu said. Margaret Talev of Bloomberg asked if he was serious. “No, but we want to do it, quickly,” the Prime Minister said. Asked how important it was to him, Mr. Netanyahu replied, “Very.””

Pence arrived in Israel last night after visiting U.S. troops at a military base near the Jordan-Syria border. Pence was welcomed at Ben Gurion International Airport by Minister Yariv Levin, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer[Picand Ambassador David Friedman [Pic]

“Penes, Pense, Spence: MKs get their Pence in a twist” by Sue Surkes: “Likud troublemaker Oren Hazan was among the first to wish the vice president well upon landing in Israel Sunday night, welcoming “Mike Penes” to Israel… Likud member Anat Berko… managed to mistake Pence with parody account Michael Pense. Yousef Jabareen, of the Joint (Arab) List… tweeted that the speech to be delivered by Mike “Spence” would be “another nail in the coffin of peace.”” [ToI]

“As Pence Tours Mideast, Tension Lingers Over Trump’s Jerusalem Decision” by Chris Benderev: “Meeting Sunday at the Royal Palace… [King] Abdullah said Jerusalem remains as important “to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews,” adding that he believed Jerusalem’s status should be determined not unilaterally by the U.S. but as part of a “comprehensive” settlement of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. The king also reminded Pence that he had expressed concerns to the U.S. “over the past year” about changing the status of Jerusalem…” [NPRWashPost• Pence says he and Jordan’s King Abdullah ‘agreed to disagree’ on Jerusalem [Reuters

“Israel and Trump: United against the world” by Oren Lieberman: “It’s been one year into the Trump presidency and not even Netanyahu could have written the script better for himself. It seems everything is moving in his direction… The last few months have seen Netanyahu score one victory after another with the Trump administration… The governments of the United States and Israel have found each other, even if they’ve lost so many others along the way.” [CNN

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Abbas wins EU backing for Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem” by Alastair Macdonald: “The European Union’s foreign policy chief assured President Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting in Brussels on Monday that the EU supported his ambition to have East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state.” [Reuters• Slovenia Readies to Recognize Palestine After Trump Embassy Move [Bloomberg]

“What the Palestinians expect from Trump’s peace plan” by Barak Ravid: “Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat… sent the 92-page report to Abbas and the other officials 10 days ago… Erekat recommended in his report that President Abbas reject the Trump peace plan out of hand. Erekat wrote that considering the Trump plan will give legitimacy to the Trump strategy of “imposing dictates” on the Palestinians “and will entrench the status quo and form an eternal autonomy” instead of a real independent Palestinian state.”[AxiosNana10]
“Why the Palestinians Are Boycotting the Trump Administration” — interview with the Palestinian representative in DC, Husam Zomlot — by Robin Wright: Despite all of the statements criticizing the current Israeli government and Trump’s decision, the Palestinians have not cut off security coöperation as far as anyone has announced. Zomlot: “There is stuff that we can talk about, and there is stuff that we don’t want to talk about. Our commitment to the security is clear—not by words but by deeds. And this is not because we are in love with the occupier but because we think, no matter what is the political disagreement between us, we have to keep some sort of a level of sanity in our interaction with each other. We need to avoid the curse of blood at any cost. And you know our future is so bloody boringly interlinked between us and the Israelis, that we don’t want to go to the all-out confrontations.”[NewYorker]

“The Tragedy of Mahmoud Abbas” by Grant Rumley: “When Abbas does eventually leave the scene (on Sunday, he said that this may be “the last time you see me here”), his defining policy positions—a preference for negotiations adhering to the two-state solution formula, a laudable commitment to non-violence, and a resolute commitment to security coordination with Israel—could likely go with him… This is the larger tragedy of Mahmoud Abbas. In him, the world saw a reformist, a leader who could get the Palestinians to the table and possibly clear the hurdle for the two-state solution. Instead, he has morphed into a bureaucratic tyrant at home, hostile to America and downright incendiary towards Israel.” [TheAtlantic]

“Is Iran setting up new military forces in West Bank?” by Adnan Abu Amer: “Mahmoud Mardawi, a Hamas leader and former West Bank-based official in Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, told Al-Monitor, “Iran has certain aspirations in the Palestinian arena and is making intensive attempts to strengthen its influence by supporting military formations in the West Bank, funding and arming them… Iran has various tools to overcome obstacles to deliver weapons and money to the Palestinian territories…” [Al-Monitor]

DRIVING THE WEEK — “Spurned by Trump, Europeans ponder how to meet Iran ultimatum” by John Irish, Robin Emmott and Arshad Mohammed: “[EU’s foreign policy chief Federica] Mogherini will brief EU foreign ministers on Monday, while U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet his British and French counterparts in London and Paris this week on a trip where Iran “will dominate” many conversations, an aide said.” [Reuters]

REPORT: “Germany weighs new sanctions against Iran” by Gernot Heller: “The [Der Spiegel] report cited diplomats in Brussels as saying that Germany was pushing for new sanctions together with Britain and France to show the United States that European allies were taking Trump’s criticism against Iran seriously.” [Reuters Iran deal won’t survive beyond May 2018, sanctions expert says [CNBC]

“Destroying the Iran Deal While Claiming to Save It” by former Obama admin officials Philip Gordon and Robert Malley: “Having been closely involved in the JCPOA negotiations, we know it is not perfect; no negotiated deal ever has been or could be. Yet insisting on a “better deal” and warning that one will otherwise walk away is not a recipe for that better deal, but for no deal at all… Paradoxically, the deal almost certainly would have greater odds of surviving a blunt unilateral American withdrawal than a joint U.S.-European attempt to rewrite it. A JCPOA violation with Congress’s and Europe’s imprimatur and consent would leave Iran with little choice but to reciprocate in ways that likely would kill the deal.” [TheAtlantic

ADMIN DEPARTURES — “U.S. Government Faces Critical ‘Brain Drain’ of Sanctions Experts” by Solum Lynch, Robbie Gramer and Dan De Luce: “In the latest departure, the State Department’s most experienced U.N.-based sanctions expert stepped down Friday… [Joshua] Black’s team is “immensely important” and “essential to the department for coordinating sanctions in the [United Nations],” one State Department official told Foreign Policy… Richard Nephew, a former State Department official who served as the lead sanctions expert on the negotiating team for the Iran nuclear deal, called Black’s departure a major setback.” [ForeignPolicy]

“McMaster makes his pick to replace Powell on the NSC” by Annie Karnie: “National security adviser H.R. McMaster has chosen Nadia Schadlow, a current member of the National Security Council and the lead author of the administration’s National Security Strategy, for the role of deputy national security adviser for strategy… Dina Powell’s departure deprives McMaster of a close ally known for her unparalleled network of relationships both inside and outside the West Wing… “H.R. will lose on administration intel, and ties to some very key officials,” said one outside adviser close to the White House, noting that Powell’s close bonds with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and the president himself have benefited by-the-book McMaster, who has had trouble learning how to schmooze with Trump… “I’ve known Nadia for years,” said Elliott Abrams… “She has a wide and deep knowledge of national security issues, both diplomatic and military.”” [Politico]

DEEP DIVE: “Jared Kushner Is China’s Trump Card” by Adam Entous and  Evan Osnos: “[Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai’s] frequent encounters with Kushner made some people in the U.S. government uncomfortable. On at least one occasion, they met alone, which counterintelligence officials considered risky. “There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything,” a former senior U.S. official who was briefed on the meetings said…“He went in utterly unflanked by anyone who could find Beijing on a map,” a former member of the National Security Council said… Kushner was “their lucky charm,” the former N.S.C. member said. “It was a dream come true. They couldn’t believe he was so compliant.”

“[Kushner] had no doubt that China and other countries were trying to persuade him to do things or to provide information, but he was, despite his inexperience in diplomacy and intelligence, confident in his ability to navigate these situations. After all, he told others, New York real estate is not “a baby’s business.” … Henry Kissinger, who had encouraged Kushner’s dialogue with Cui, described Kushner as occupying a “daunting role flying close to the sun.””[NewYorker]

“Mueller’s interest in a mysterious White House visitor” by Jonathan Swan: “[George] Nader visited the White House frequently during the early months of the Trump administration. He became friendly with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, visiting his office regularly. A source familiar with the White House meetings said Jared Kushner also met Nader. After asking around about Nader, Kushner decided not to continue meeting with him…“[Axios]

LongRead: “Does This Man Know More Than Robert Mueller? Glenn Greenwald’s war on the Russia investigation” by Simon van Zuylen-Wood: “When it comes to what the investigation was designed to focus on, Greenwald says he’s still waiting for hard evidence that the Trump campaign aided Russian operatives in hacking the Clinton-campaign emails — or struck some other corrupt bargain. Absent that, he’s not impressed. “Some Russians wanted to help Trump win the election, and certain people connected to the Trump campaign were receptive to receiving that help. Who the f*** cares about that?”” [NYMag

SHUTDOWN — Graham rips into White House’s Stephen Miller: “South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized White House staffer Stephen Miller on Sunday, the second day of the federal government shutdown… “As long as Steven Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration we are going nowhere,” Graham told reporters. “He’s been an outlier for years.”” [CBSNews]

“Stephen Miller: Immigration agitator and White House survivor” by Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: “The president… is fond of Miller’s combative style and sees him as a difficult person to replace because of his speechwriting abilities, current and former aides said. Trump has complimented Miller for standing his ground in a fight with Tillerson…”[WashPost]

“Washington looks increasingly dysfunctional as shutdown goes into day 3” by Joyce Karam: “Daniel Shapiro, the former US Ambassador to Israel experienced the last shutdown in 2013, which lasted 16 days. “Shutdowns make us look incompetent before the world,” he told The National. “Embassies cannot conduct normal business with their host governments. If you are trying to build a coalition to strengthen sanctions on North Korea or Iran, for example, a shutdown ties your hands. Foreign leaders and publics who already question the competence and coherence of the Trump foreign policy now have an additional reason to do so.”” [TheNational]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… Missouri Governor Eric Greitens defiant in first interview since scandal broke out — by Summer Ballentine and David Lieb: “Greitens told The Associated Press that he has no plans to resign from office as a result of the affair… “I’m staying. I’m staying,” he said twice for emphasis, adding about his relationship with his wife, staff and supporters: “We’re strong.”” [AP]

** 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: Paul Singer gains upper hand in battle over Starz value [NYPost] • Icahn, Deason Push for Xerox to Explore Sale [WSJ] • Now Is the Perfect Time to Go Big on Retail, New York Developer Allan Fried Says [WSJ• Israeli health-tech company, Medial, offer blood test in place of a colonoscopy [Bloomberg] • WeWork Appoints Inbal Orpaz to Help Israeli Startups Expand Globally [Calcalist]

“Deaths of Canadian billionaire, wife a tantalizing mystery” by Rob Gillies: “The Star, citing unidentified experts hired by the family, reported Friday that [Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey] were tied to the rail with men’s belts, which resulted in the “ligature compression” that was the cause of death… Citing an unidentified source, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said the family’s private investigators believe the Shermans were murdered by multiple killers but provided no evidence to back up the claim.” [AP]

“The Secret to Henry Kissinger’s Success” by Niall Ferguson: “While in office, Kissinger appeared on the cover of Time magazine no fewer than 15 times. He was, according to one of the magazine’s profiles of him, published in 1974, “the world’s indispensable man”—though one who stood accused by his critics of paying more “attention to principals than principles.” … Shuttle diplomacy was a part of this. So was schmoozing journalists, at which Kissinger excelled, though he scarcely mentioned them in his memoirs… As Time noted, Kissinger had “a finely tuned sense of hierarchy.” But what mattered much more were all the other relationships in a network—including an “old boy network” of former participants in Kissinger’s summer seminars at Harvard—that spanned the globe. “He always looks for the guy who can deliver,” an unnamed aide told Time. “A lot of doors open for him,” said a “Washington friend and admirer.” The network was the precondition for his “chain reaction” diplomacy—a phrase used by the Israeli deputy premier, Yigal Allon. That was what justified the claim that Kissinger “probably [had] more impact than any other person in the world.”” [PoliticoMag]

SCENE AT SUNDANCE: “Sundance film festival debuts dark tale of Jewish triplets split at birth” by Frankie Taggart: “[Tim Wardle’s] debut feature documentary “Three Identical Strangers,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, introduces Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman, who had no idea they were triplets until the age of 19… Wardle, who came across the story while scouting for new documentary ideas and has spent five years on the film, describes the story as “one of most extraordinary” he’d ever heard.” [ToI]

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg Opens Up About Her ‘Saturday Night Live’ Doppelganger” by Ed Mazza: “During an interview with Nina Totenberg at the Sundance Film Festival, the long-serving Supreme Court justice said she not only enjoyed Kate McKinnon’s impression of her, she also let loose with the “Saturday Night Live” star’s signature line. “I liked the actress who portrayed me,” Ginsburg said. “And I would like to say ‘Gins-Burn!’ sometimes to my colleagues.” [HuffPost]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Israeli rabbis say they’ll hide African asylum seekers in their homes” by Sarah Birnbaum: “Rabbi Susan Silverman — an activist, writer and rabbi who immigrated to Israel from Boston in 2006 — says it’s time to fight back. That’s why she came up with the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement to house refugees in private homes… Silverman says she’s aware of the risks of opposing the government’s position on immigration. And there’s the concern she and other activists could face jail time for harboring African refugees. But as she sees it, there’s no other choice. “My dad taught Holocaust Studies,” she says. “And he always said, ‘If you want to know what you would have been doing in Germany, ask yourself what you’re doing for people at risk in the world today.’ And I always thought that’s a pretty good rule of thumb.”” [USAToday]

“Honoring Daniella Moffson’s Legacy Through Acts Of Chesed” by Danielle Greenbaum: “More than 400 people, old and young, gathered together at the Ramaz Middle School for a chessed fair, held to commemorate the second yartzeit of Daniella Nechama Moffson… And they did it all with a smile, in honor of a girl who bettered this world every day of her all too-short life. Daniella dreamed of being a doctor. At the chessed fair, her friends made 45 blood donations. I’m told that translates into 135 saved lives… These numbers seem large, and they are, but they are only a small fraction of what has been done in her name over the past two years, and, what will undoubtedly continue to happen over the next few decades.” [Forward]

TALK OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD: “Sunshine Cinema, a Beloved Manhattan Theater, Goes Dark” by Luis Ferré-Sadurní: “On Sunday, the five projectors at the Sunshine Cinema beamed for the last time, the finale of a cultural mainstay on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. For over a century, the building was a neighborhood cornerstone, first as a church, then as an athletic club, and later as a nickelodeon that drew hundreds of attendees a day to its Yiddish vaudeville performances. The Sunshine will be demolished and turned into a nine-story “boutique” office building for small to midsize companies, said Jonathon Yormak, the founder and managing principal of East End Capital.” [NYTimes]

PIC OF THE DAY — The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg captured a behind-the-scenes moment on Sunday: Bob Schieffer, the former host of Face the Nation, chatting with his successor John Dickerson, who himself hosted his final Sunday morning program as he transitions to CBS This Morning: “Back to the future at @FaceTheNation?” [Pic

SPORTS BLINK — Ex-LeBron coach David Blatt surfaces to rip Cavs at their rock bottom: “After Tyronn Lue’s crew gave up a stunning 148 points to the Thunder on Saturday, the man he replaced took a little swipe at the defense he left behind. “I hope we don’t give up as many points as Cleveland did last night,” said David Blatt, who was coaching an All-Star Game in Turkey on Sunday.” [NYPost]

Ed note: We were preparing yesterday to lead today’s newsletter with coverage of a Kraft Wilf Super Bowl, a matchup that would have been of particular interest to JI readers, but instead the Kraft Lurie Bowl will have to suffice. 

“Vikings fall apart in Philadelphia, fumble away hometown Super Bowl dreams” by Jon Krawczynski: “Zygi Wilf walked off of the field and through the tunnel, a thousand-mile stare in his eyes and ashen complexion on his face. The Vikings owner, who strutted into Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday fully believing that his new billion-dollar football palace would be playing host to his team in the Super Bowl in two weeks, looked like he had seen a ghost. His team of destiny, the one that bucked 40 years of playoff failures a week ago with a play that will be remembered for 50 more, was supposed to be above the kind of “performance” it gave in a 38-7 wipeout at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.” [TheAthletic]

PROFILE: “Jeffrey Lurie’s Long, Strange Trip” by Robert Huber from Sept, 2017: “Jeffrey Lurie’s sunniness seems preternatural in spite of the early loss of his father from kidney cancer… There was money — Lurie’s grandfather on his mother’s side had founded General Cinema, which became one of the country’s largest movie-house chains… The money allowed Jeffrey a certain freedom when he went off to Clark University. He sported a Jew ’fro, drove all over the Eastern Seaboard in a red ’69 Firebird convertible with a black interior, followed the Grateful Dead around New England, camped all night outside Boston Garden for hard-to-get tickets to the Bruins or Celtics…”

“Lurie’s goal was never simply to own a team. Norman Braman… who sold the Eagles to Lurie in 1994, was a mere owner; Braman didn’t know defensive end Reggie White from the water boy and bled the Eagles dry. Lurie’s interest is different. He has now owned the Philadelphia Eagles for 23 years… Lurie paid more for the Eagles in 1994 — $185 million — than anyone had spent on a sports team, ever, the stupidity of which the Wall Street Journal immediately noted in a front-page story… The Eagles are now worth an estimated $2.5 billion — but Norman Braman had left the team in such a state that the Journal’s analysis appeared to be spot-on. Rat-filled Veterans Stadium was awful; the team had a lousy practice facility; the scouting was bad…”[PhillyMag

BIRTHDAYS: Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry in 2000, he is a professor in the Physics Department at the University of California Santa Barbara since 1982, Alan J. Heeger turns 82… Los Angeles resident, Ruth Lynn Sobelturns 77… Managing director and founder of Brave Warrior Advisors, an investment advisory firm, he is the son of Hall of Fame baseball star Hank Greenberg, Glenn H. Greenberg turns 71… Brooklyn-born conductor, who during his tenure as artistic director of the Kraków Philharmonic became friends with Pope John Paul II for whom he later conducted multiple Papal concerts, Gilbert Levine turns 70… Director-General of the Israeli Defense Ministry, he is a retired Major General in the IDF, Ehud “Udi” Adam turns 60… Michael Marquis turns 53…

Director of the Chabad House in Kathmandu, Nepal, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitzturns 44… Politics and local news editor at Hamodia, Yochonon Donn turns 41… NYC-based manager of strategic partnerships at Politico States and Media, Jesse Shapiro turns 27… Religion reporter for the Washington Post, she is also a professional balloon twister and a 2018 contestant on Jeopardy, Julie Zauzmer turns 27 (h/ts Playbook)… A leading young Jewish hockey player, he was a first round pick of the New York Islanders in 2014, Josh Ho-Sang turns 22… Retired physician, Dr. Geoffrey Kalchman… Senior Legislative Assistant in the DC office of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Matthew Lustbader

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: Preview of Pence’s Israel visit | Did Bibi know more about State Dept’s Embassy plan than Trump? | Two Rabbis divided over NFL Playoffs

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DRIVING THIS WEEKEND — “Pence has long pushed for Trump policies on Israel” by Ken Thomas and Tom LoBianco: “Vice President Mike Pence is making his fifth visit to Israel, returning to a region he’s visited “a million times” in his heart… On the embassy, Pence played a steady role in pushing for the shift in U.S. policy… Pence had wanted the Trump administration to convey “a clear-cut policy” on Jerusalem after the president asked him last summer to visit the Middle East, White House officials have said.”

“Pence has long aligned himself with Israel… Kenneth Weinstein, CEO of the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, said it has been “central to his political life from the absolute outset, from when he first ran for Congress — it’s something that’s central to who he is, to what he believes in.” Pence traveled to Israel for the first time as an Indiana congressman in January 2004, joining a delegation from the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis… Doug Rose, a philanthropist in Indianapolis, flew with Pence on his 2004 trip to Israel and recalled him being deeply affected by the experience.” [AP

“Pence’s Middle East trip meant to highlight evangelical roots” by Peter Martinez: “[The Atlantic’s McKay] Coppins said that Pence often couches his political discussions about Israel in personal terms, even once going so far as quote the Bible as a religious justification.” [CBSNews]

“Top Sunni Islam cleric says meeting Pence would ‘tear up my identity'” by Ben Wedeman and Ghazi Balkiz: “Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar… said receiving Pence would “tear up my identity” and appear “contradictory in front of people.” … Tayyeb said the decision (on Jerusalem) would “feed terrorism in the region” but said the Muslim world was not “in a position for confrontation.”” [CNN]

Pence’s itinerary in Israel — Sunday evening (9:25 PM Israeli time): Arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport – to be welcomed by Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin.

— NO SELFIES — “With no vice PM, who’ll be greeting Pence at the airport?” by Gil Hoffman: “When Trump came, he was greeted on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion by the entire cabinet, as well as by MK Oren Hazan, who infiltrated the sterile security area to take a selfie with the US president. Hazan said he would not be going back… for Pence. “I shot with the sheriff, so I don’t need to shoot with the deputy,” Hazan said, paraphrasing a Bob Marley song… “When you succeed in getting the top guy, you don’t go back for the No. 2.” [JPost

Monday — 10 AM (local time): Welcome ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

1:30 PM (6:30 AM EST): Pence addresses the Knesset [KnessetChannel]

8 PM (1 PM EST): Pence and Netanyahu will deliver joint statements before dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Tuesday — 10:45 AM: Meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

12 PM: Tour of Yad Vashem.

1:45 PM (6:45 AM EST): Visit to the Western Wall.

Ilan Goldenberg,  a former State Department official under John Kerry, writes… “Pence’s Visit to the Middle East Serves No Purpose: It is now quite clear that no negotiations are happening anytime soon, and possibly never again with Abbas… Into this environment steps Pence — the worst of all Trump administration officials to send to Israel at such a time. Pence is the official most associated with Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, because the move was largely viewed as a nod to Trump’s evangelical base, which cares deeply about this issue… The visual of him giving a speech to the Knesset even as he meets with no Palestinian officials will not play well in the Arab world or pretty much anywhere outside of Israel…”[ForeignPolicy]

REPORT: “Macron sent aide to lobby Palestinians over Trump peace plan” by Barak Ravid: “French President Emanuel Macron sent his deputy national security adviser Aurélien Lechevallier for a secret visit in Ramallah earlier this week to convey reassuring messages to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas… Lechevallier told his Palestinian counterparts, “You might be right and the plan might turn out to be bad but don’t blow it up right now… It will be a shame if you throw the plan to the trash even before you received it. Read it first and then decide if you want to say no” … French diplomats told me Macron and his advisers coordinated their moves with Trump and the White House.” [Axios

SO BIBI WAS RIGHT? — “U.S. Presses to Relocate Embassy to Jerusalem by 2019″ by Mark Landler: “It was not clear whether Mr. Trump’s advisers had briefed him on the new timetable until Thursday. Officials said he was referring to the construction of an entirely new embassy compound in Jerusalem… But the State Department has since settled on a more modest plan to convert an existing consular building in Arnona, a neighborhood in West Jerusalem. That will reduce the cost of the project and allow Ambassador David M. Friedman and his staff to move there as early as next year.”

“The timing of the move has caused tensions between Mr. Tillerson and the White House. Mr. Friedman… pushed to move the embassy this year, and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who oversees the president’s Middle East peace initiative, backed him. But Mr. Tillerson petitioned Mr. Trump in a meeting on Thursday for more time to upgrade the security of the building, and the president agreed. “What you’ll see from the secretary is that we will do this at the pace of security, not at the pace of politics,” said the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, Steven Goldstein.” [NYTimes

FREEZING MORE FUNDS — “U.S. won’t pay $45 million pledged for Palestinian food aid for now” by David Alexander and Arshad Mohammed:  “The United States had made clear to UNRWA that the $45 million was a pledge aimed at helping the agency with “forecasting,” but it was not a guarantee, [State Department spokeswoman Heather] Nauert told reporters… “At this time, we will not be providing that, but that does not mean – I want to make it clear – that does not mean that it will not be provided in the future,” Nauert said.” [Reuters]

BEHIND THE SCENES — “For Trump’s security advisers, tempering an impetuous boss” by Josh Lederman and Matt Lee: “Trump had stormed into the new year threatening on Twitter to cut off aid to the Palestinians after little Mideast peace progress. His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, egged Trump on, pushing him to suspend all of a planned $125 million payment to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees… In a phone call this past Friday, the secretary of state sold the president on a compromise: Give half the money, put the rest on hold. It would allow Trump to say he followed through on a threat, without further destabilizing the Arab world… It took an end run by Tillerson around Haley to ensure his word was the last… After re-convincing Trump to accept the compromise, Tillerson worked to keep the decision a secret… Haley and most White House officials didn’t get word until four days later, Tuesday, when the U.S. sent a letter to the U.N. body.” [AP

“How Rex Tillerson Thinks He Can Avoid Mission Creep in Syria” by John Hudson: “We’ve been very clear that we’re not there to in any way engage with the regime, we’re not there to engage with Iran,” said Tillerson, almost shouting so he could be heard over the white noise of his plane flying between California and Andrews Air Force Base. “We’re there to defeat ISIS. If our forces are attacked by others, then we clearly have the authority and the right to defend ourselves,” he said. He insisted that his speech was “not inconsistent with what President Trump’s made the priority.” [BuzzFeed]

“How the U.S. Is Making the War in Yemen Worse” by Nicolas Niarchos: “In a relationship fostered by the Emiratis and by the Lebanese-American businessman Thomas Barrack, who is a friend of Trump’s, [Jared] Kushner has grown close to King Salman’s thirty-two-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a chief proponent of the war in Yemen. (Gause, the professor at Texas A. & M. University, told me, “This is his war, it was his idea, he owns it.”). Kushner negotiated the new arms deal… According to a number of current and former government officials and weapons experts, Kushner’s action was irregular. It was also bad dealmaking.” [NewYorker]

DRIVING THE DAY — “Chuck Schumer’s DACA Dilemma” by John Cassidy: “[Chuck] Schumer knows the strength of feeling in his party, and he is keenly aware that Trump has failed to follow through on his promise to make a deal on DACA. But the Democratic leader must also be thinking of the November midterms… Opinion polls indicate that most Americans believe that the Dreamers should be protected—but, in the past, polls have also shown that government shutdowns are very unpopular. If one were to happen this weekend, perhaps the public could be persuaded that Trump and the Republicans, who control all three branches of government, were responsible. But, at a juncture when Democrats have a double-digit lead over Republicans in the generic congressional poll, relying on such an outcome would be a risky gambit—especially since there would be another opportunity to fight for DACA next month.” [NewYorker]

Pelosi, religious leaders push for ‘dreamers’ — by Michelle Boorstein: “At the conference several dreamers spoke, including Elias Rosenfeld, a Brandeis University student who has interned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Rosenfeld is Jewish and from Venezuela. He described having to watch the funeral of his grandfather, with whom Rosenfeld was very close after his own mother’s death, via cellphone video because he could not leave the country. “In the Torah … we are called 36 times to welcome the stranger. This, with the Jewish community’s experience from Egypt to the Holocaust, informs our commitment to the Dream Act,” Rosenfeld said.” [WashPost]

TOP-ED: “A Modest Immigration Proposal: Ban Jews” by Bret Stephens: “Here’s a thought experiment: Would the United States have been better off if it had banned Jewish immigration sometime in the late 19th century…? The question is worth asking, because so many of the same arguments made against African, Latin-American and Muslim immigrants today might have easily been applied to Jews just over a century ago… Today, American Jews are widely considered the model minority, so thoroughly assimilated that organizational Jewish energies are now largely devoted to protecting our religious and cultural distinctiveness. Someone might ask Jeff Sessions and other eternal bigots what makes an El Salvadoran, Iranian or Haitian any different.” [NYTimes

ON THE HILL — Senate advances nomination of Ken Marcus as head of the Education Department’s civil rights office: The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee approved yesterday the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus as Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights by a 12-11 vote, along party lines. The next step is a floor wide vote.

— “An Advocate for Israel Draws Fire as He Nears Confirmation to Civil Rights Post” by Erica Green: “[Ken] Marcus’ support for Jewish students (as president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law) has earned him praise in some quarters as an ardent defender of civil liberties with an acumen for the rule of law… Critics see him as a biased crusader whose singular focus on what he believes to be rising anti-Semitism on the campus left will further impede the Education Department’s already tentative efforts to enforce civil rights protections for marginalized groups of students…” [NYTimesWashPost]  

** 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: Kushner’s Deutsche Bank-Backed Property Stung by Tenant Troubles [Bloomberg• At last, construction is around the corner on Kansas City downtown convention hotel, says Alex Tisch[KansasCityStar• Cuomo Proposes Ending Carried Interest Loophole for Hedge Funds [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: “In Surprise Move, Microsoft Israel’s R&D Center Names New 34-year-old CEO” by Eliran Rubin: “Assaf Rappaport… who began his new position on Thursday, replaces Yoram Yaacovi, who stepped down a few months ago. Microsoft’s research and development facility in Israel, with its approximately 1,000 employees, is considered one of the corporation’s leading R&D centers in the world. Rappaport joined Microsoft in 2015 after it purchased the cloud security startup Adallom, which he founded together with two partners, Ami Luttwak and Roy Reznik… Rappaport will continue to head the Cloud Security group at Microsoft Israel in addition to his new appointment.” [Haaretz]

SPOTLIGHT: “One Goldman Takeover That Failed: The Trump White House” by James Stewart: “A year ago, with an impressive roster of Goldman Sachs alumni on their way to top White House positions, the return of “Government Sachs” was in full swing… “Everyone was wondering who would dominate the White House: Steve Bannon or the Manhattan mafia,” [Newt] Gingrich told me this week, referring to the Goldman alumni. “It turns out Donald Trump dominated the White House. Surprise! That should have been obvious to anyone who knows anything about Trump.” … Alone among the prominent Goldman alumni in the administration, [Steve] Mnuchin seems likely to stay. “He’s been a good and loyal employee,” Professor [Roy] Smith said. “But he’s more of a Hollywood person now. His reputation in the professional financial sector may not matter that much to him.”” [NYTimes]

“Trump to Mark One-Year Anniversary With Gala at Mar-a-Lago” by Jennifer Jacobs: “The event, hosted by Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and the casino mogul Steve Wynn, will benefit the Trump presidential campaign and the RNC.”[Bloomberg]

“Tom Arnold: Ari Emanuel told me he lost too much money on Cosby to release embarrassing Miss Universe footage of Trump” by Kim Janssen: “Comedian Tom Arnold has… told Chicago Inc. that he last year had a conversation with Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel… [who] told him… that he would not release compromising footage of the president because “we lost so much money with Bill Cosby and Trump is still a client.” … A spokesman for his company, WME, said Ari Emanuel has never discussed the issue with Arnold, has not represented Trump for two years and that “there is no embarrassing unseen footage — we looked.””[ChicagoTribune]

“Israel puts tunnel dug under Gaza border on display” by Ori Lewis and Stephen Farrell: “The Israeli military brought journalists on Thursday to film a 2 km (1.25 mile) tunnel dug by militants from the Gaza Strip to Israel, saying it was putting the construction on display to show the continuing threat it faces from the territory.” [ReutersCNN]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Israel’s capital is badly run and out of cash: “Jerusalem has attracted a lot of attention since President Donald Trump announced in December that America would recognise it as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there. Yet for all the fuss over the holy city’s international status, its management and finances are a mess. Its streets are often filthy (even when city workers are not striking) and its pavements are crumbling—visible indicators that it spends a quarter less per person on services for residents than Israel’s other large cities…” [Economist]

Israel’s Indian Jews and their lives in the ‘promised land’: “Many hold prestigious jobs in the government and private sectors. They also run for local elections and are vocal supporters of Israeli foreign policy… In addition to cricket, which they play in India team jerseys, many of them are avid watchers of Bollywood films, and have even opened Indian food restaurants across the country. “We are both Israeli and Indian. India is our motherland and Israel our fatherland,” [Naor Gudekar] says proudly. But Dr [Shalva] Weil believes that this may not be a feeling that extends to the younger generations of Bene Israelis. “Bene Israelis feel more and more Israeli. If you look at younger people they act and sound like Israelis. They have little to do with their Indian roots,” she says.” [BBC]

CAMPUS BEAT: “Rabbi Lord Sacks urged religious groups at Penn to come together to solve world problems” by Deena Elul: “Speaking to a room packed with students, faculty, and other members of the Penn community, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth stressed the importance of creating meaningful connections between different religious groups, even as each preserves its own identity. “Our common humanity takes precedence over our religious differences,” Sacks said… Sacks suggested three ways students could foster meaningful interfaith interactions on campus. “Number one: doing social action together,” Sacks said. “Number two: celebrating together. Food and music are two of the most powerful bonding agents. Number three: whenever a particular faith group suffers a mishap or bad news, being there to give emotional support.””[TheDP

SPORTS BLINK: “‘Lots Of Joking And Teasing’: Two New Jersey Rabbis Stand Divided For NFC Championship Game” by Anita Oh: “The friendship is still on but the Eagles better win,” joked Assistant Rabbi Bryan Wexler, a dedicated Eagles fan. Across the hall from his office, his colleague, Head Rabbi Micah Peltz, is perhaps the sole Minnesota Vikings fan in the building. “You know, I feel like a stranger in a strange land this week,” Peltz said… Although, there are counter-prayers at work too, Wexler says…. “Super Bowl week, we’ll read a verse in Exodus that says, ‘God bore us on eagle’s wings,’ and that must mean God is an Eagles fan.” [CBSPhilly]

PIC OF THE DAY — Netanyahu tweets group selfie with Bollywood stars in Mumbai: “Will my Bollywood selfie beat @TheEllenShow Hollywood selfie at the Oscars?” [Pic]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Retired after 40 years of service as a news reporter and White House correspondent for ABC News, Ann Comptonturns 71… President and CEO of PayPal and Chairman of the Board of Symantec, Daniel H. Schulman turns 60… Los Angeles-based attorney and founder of the blog, American Trial Attorneys in Defense of Israel, Baruch C. Cohen turns 55… Venture capitalist and entrepreneur, his family owns the Hyatt Hotel chain, he is running for Governor of Illinois in the 2018 election, Jay Robert “J.B.” Pritzker turns 53… Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News, Jonathan Karl turns 50… United Arab Emirates’ ambasssador to the USA, Yousef Al Otaiba turns 44… Television journalist, entrepreneur, social activist, YouTube creator and motivational speaker, Jessica Abo turns 37… DC-based Director of Political Outreach at AJC: Global Jewish Advocacy, Julie Fishman Rayman turns 37… VP of “Poverty to Prosperity” program at the Center for American Progress, previously a senior policy associate at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Melissa Boteach 35… Actor since early childhood, has already appeared in over 25 films, played d’Artagnan in 2011’s “The Three Musketeers,” Logan Lerman turns 26… Jewish rapper, best known by his stage name Mac Miller, Malcolm James McCormick turns 26… Senior account executive at Chicago’s Resolute Consulting, she was deputy director of strategic partnerships in the office of Chicago’s Mayor, after four years at AIPAC, Emily Berman Pevnick… Alex Bronzo… Isaac Wolf

SATURDAY: Lakewood, NJ-born, American diplomat and former State Department official (1959-1991), later President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1991-1997), Morton I. Abramowitz turns 85… Israeli politician, refusenik during the 1970s and 1980s who spent nine years in Soviet prisons, since 2009 Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky turns 70… US Representative from Nevada (1999-2013), now CEO and senior provost for Touro University Western Division, Shelley Berkley (born Rochelle Levine) turns 67… Host of HBO’s political talk show “Real Time with Bill Maher,” William “Bill” Maher turns 62… Diane Kushnir Halivni turns 48… US Ambassador to the United Nations, she was previously Governor of South Carolina (2011-2017), Ambassador Nikki Haley (born Nimrata Randhawa) turns 46… Philanthropist, professional equestrian, author and younger daughter of former NYC Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Georgina Leigh Bloomberg turns 35… Member of the digital communications team at Purple Strategies, after internships on Capitol Hill and the MPAA, blogger for Mediabistro’s FishbowlDC, Alec Jacobs… Jason Berger Adar Belinkoff

SUNDAY: Born in Kansas City, raised in Oklahoma City, philanthropist and co-founder of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Lynn Schusterman… Literary critic, feminist, writer on cultural and social issues, television critic for People magazine, Elaine Showalter (born Elaine Cottler) turns 77… Chinese-American Governor of Washington (1997-2005), US Secretary of Commerce (2009-11) and US Ambassador to China (2011-14), Gary Locke turns 68… 82nd Attorney General of the United States (2009-2015), Eric Holder turns 67… Chairman and CEO of Norfolk, Virginia-based Harbor Group International, a $7 billion real estate investment firm, Jordan E. Slone turns 56… Political editor at Newsweek, previously managing editor for White House coverage at National Journal, reporter for Time, blogger for Talking Points Memo, Matthew Cooper turns 55… Managing director of OneTable, Andrea Greenblatt turns 51… Born in Trinidad and Tobago, SVP and Washington bureau chief for CNN since 2011, employed by CNN since 1991, Sam Feist turns 49… Ramat Gan native, director, producer and screenwriter of American films, best known as the producer or director of the six films in the “Paranormal Activity” series, Oren Peli turns 48… Dean of School at Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Los Angeles, lecturer, educator and author, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn turns 39… Deputy legislative director for US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Jordan Grossman turns 32…

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Daily Kickoff: Trump appears to contradict Bibi on embassy | Amb. Friedman visits Ohel | Israel’s first Olympic skeleton athlete | Shabbat at Sundance

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MAGGIE HABERMAN ON IVANKA — by Jessica Kwong: “Time in the White House has made first daughter Ivanka Trump more like her father President Donald Trump, Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent for The New York Times told Katie Couric and co-host Brian Goldsmith in a podcast released on Thursday. “She has gone from being sort of a somewhat resentful daughter to really being in many ways the spitting image of him—not physically, obviously, but she’s him without a lot of the the flash and style,” Haberman said of Ivanka. “She has a very similar set of grievances, she has a very similar sense that people are being unfair to her,” Haberman said. “She’s a lot like him.” [Newsweek]

NOT SO SILENT — The New York Times devoted its entire editorial page in today’s paper to featuring letters from Trump supporters — Steven Sanabria from Oakdale, California writes: “Donald Trump has succeeded where Barack Obama failed. The economy is up, foreign tyrants are afraid, ISIS has lost most of its territory, our embassy will be moved to Jerusalem and tax reform is accomplished. More than that, Mr. Trump is learning, adapting and getting savvier every day… Who knew that all it would take to make progress was vision, chutzpah and some testosterone?”

Ellen Mackler from New Haven, Connecticut: “So far I am thrilled with his performance. Numerous reasons, but here are a few: recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; letting the generals crush ISIS; stronger plans to prevent North Korea and Iran from using nuclear weapons; getting out of biased United Nations organizations…”

Emily Robertson from Austin, Texas: “I’m thrilled at his support for Israel. Nikki Haley is one of his best appointments…” [NYTimes]

GALLUP — Israeli approval of U.S. leadership up 14 points: “The 67% of Israelis who approve of U.S. leadership is on par with the ratings Israelis gave the U.S. during the Bush administration. Notably, interviewing in Israel took place before Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”[Gallup]

NO DAYLIGHT? — “Trump denies U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem within a year” by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton: “Netanyahu… said on Wednesday: “My solid assessment is that it will go much faster than you think – within a year from now.” Asked about Netanyahu’s comment, Trump told Reuters… that was not the case. ”By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios – I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that. That’s no.“ Trump… promised, however, that it would be “a beautiful embassy but not one that costs $1.2 billion,” referring to what he says was the cost of the new U.S. embassy in London.” [Reuters]

— “After Trump denial, Netanyahu clarifies remarks on time frame for U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem” by Jeffrey Heller: “An official in Netanyahu’s office said the Prime Minister recognized that construction of a new embassy will take years but believes Washington is considering “interim measures that could result in an embassy opening much faster”…. The Israeli official, responding to Trump’s remarks, said: “The President and the Prime Minister are not saying anything different.” [Reuters]

SPOTTED LAST NIGHT — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman praying at the grave, or ‘Ohel,’ of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe in Queens, New York [Pic]

POST ABBAS SPEECH — Oded Revivi, Chief Foreign Envoy of the YESHA Council, writes… “If the Oslo Accords Are Over, the Real Work of Peace Can Begin: In his declaration on Jerusalem, Mr. Trump cited his promise “to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking.” … So far he is making good on these words. His special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, broke with decades of U.S. policy by meeting with all types of Israeli and Palestinian thinkers far beyond the usual suspects. Next week Vice President Mike Pence will address the Knesset in Jerusalem and ignore the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians who want to work for Israeli companies or meet socially with Israelis should not fear for their lives…” [WSJ

DRIVING THE CONVO — “U.S. Funding Cut Reignites Debate on Palestinian Refugee Agency” by David Halbfinger: “The perpetuation of Unrwa is not the dream of any peace-loving person in Israel,” said Yossi Beilin, a longtime Israeli politician who helped initiate the Oslo process….“Only an ignorant person, like President Trump, who doesn’t understand the whole story, could say, ‘Tomorrow there is no Unrwa,’ because tomorrow, we will have to pay the price — either by violence if it erupts, or because of the need to help them. Who else will do that?” [NYTimes

“‘A death sentence’: Palestinians slam U.S. decision to cut aid as U.N. pleads for new donors” by Hazem Balousha and Ruth Eglash: “Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian delegation to the United States, said that “taking away food and education from vulnerable refugees does not bring a lasting and comprehensive peace.” … Zomlot said that by first taking Jerusalem off the table and then attempting to remove the Palestinian refugee issue by dismantling UNRWA, “Trump was heeding Netanyahu.” [WashPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Ambassador Nikki Haley on Voice of America with Greta Van Susteren: “Why does the United States have to be the only one that bails out everyone? Why do we continue to give the money? You have 120 countries who voted against us, that could more than take up the level of debt that UNRWA has… We want a peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians… By the Palestinians cutting us out of the peace process, it shows… that they’re not serious in truly getting to peace. So, we’re trying to make sure that if we’re going to spend taxpayer dollars, that we’re not spending it on something that doesn’t move U.S. interests forward.” [VOANews]

Elliott Abrams writes… “Trump Gets UNRWA Right: Cutting funding to UNRWA is of a piece with the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That Israel was the sole country in the world not allowed to choose its capital, and have that choice respected, was part of the long assault on Israel’s legitimacy and permanence. Similarly, that the sole group of refugees whom the UN keeps enlarging is Palestinian, and that the only way to remedy this under UN definitions would be to eliminate the State of Israel or have 5 million Palestinian “refugees” move there should simply be unacceptable.” [CFR

REVISED SYRIA POLICY — “U.S. troops will stay in Syria to counter ‘strategic’ threat from Iran” by Liz Sly and Carol Morello: “[Sec. of State Rex Tillerson’s] comments represented the most comprehensive and ambitious articulation of Washington’s often-contradictory policy in Syria since President Trump took office a year ago… “Continued strategic threats to the U.S. other than ISIS persist. I am referring principally to Iran,” he said. “Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops; supporting Lebanese Hezbollah… Through its position in Syria, Iran is in a stronger position to extend its track record of attacking U.S. interests, allies and personnel in the region.” Squeezing Iran will, therefore, be one of the foremost goals of the continued U.S. troop presence in Syria, he said.” [WashPost

— “The agreement in the southwest also addresses Israel’s security by requiring Iranian-backed militias, most notably Hezbollah, to move away from Israel’s border.” [Transcript

“Tillerson Calls For Indefinite US Military Presence In Syria To Remove Assad” by John Hudson and Vera Bergengruen: “Tillerson’s speech calls for “UN-supervised” elections, a process that is more invasive and includes additional requirements such as a voting populace that isn’t intimidated, fearful of arrest and has access to media. One person familiar with the decision told BuzzFeed News the stronger language could create the conditions for dismantling Assad’s rule.” [BuzzFeed• Syrian opposition delegation visiting DC iced out of White House [Al-Monitor]

REPORT: Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman boasts he has Trump’s backing in ‘anti-corruption’ crackdown — by Ryan Parry and Josh Boswell: “A source close to the Saudi leader, known by his initials MBS, said that Salman ‘bragged’ about his cozy relationship with the U.S. president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, claiming that the president backed Salman’s takeover…” [DailyMail]

“Qatar Doubles Down on PR Campaign Appealing to U.S. Jews and D.C. Insiders” by Amir Tibon: “Last week, prominent New York attorney Alan Dershowitz published an article on the Hill website, following his visit to Qatar at the invitation of the country’s powerful emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani… In a conversation with Haaretz on Tuesday, Dershowitz emphasized that he has “not come to any firm conclusions” about Qatar’s ties to Hamas, Iran and other problematic actors in the region. Coincidentally, on Monday – shortly after the publication of Dershowitz’s article and the culmination of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s Qatar visit – U.S. President Donald Trump talked with the emir by phone.” [Haaretz]

ON THE HILL — “The House Republican plan to toughen the Iran deal” by Jonathan Swan: “Highlights of the “Iran Freedom Policy and Sanctions Act,” per the bill summary and text… U.S. sanctions would immediately “snap back” against Iran if they take any action “related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.” … The bill also goes further, to whack Iran for its support for terrorism and human rights abuses…”[Axios]

CITY-SIDE: “New Orleans City Council members say they didn’t intend anti-Israel message” by David Hammer: “After belatedly realizing the resolution was part of an international movement to boycott Israel, City Council President Jason Williams and other council members say they will move to reconsider it at their next council meeting… “I’m sad to say I didn’t realize or know anything about the BDS movement until a friend, Harold Asher, educated me on it Friday morning and I began to do my research,” said Williams, who said Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell had only notified him about the resolution on Jan. 10.” [WWLTV

DACA FIGHT — “Mark Zuckerberg is urging people to call their local congressperson in support of undocumented Dreamers” by Kurt Wagner: “Every day that Congress doesn’t act more DACA recipients are losing their status,” Zuckerberg wrote Wednesday… Zuckerberg added that he’s been “calling members of Congress,” and encouraged others to do the same… His counterpart at Facebook, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, also posted on Wednesday shortly after Zuckerberg, calling the expiration of the DACA program “cruel.”” [Recode

“82 Rabbis, Activists Arrested On Capitol Hill Over DACA Protest” by Antonia Blumberg: “More than a hundred rabbis and activists, some wearing prayer shawls and yarmulkes, gathered in the center of the rotunda in the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday morning. They sang songs, shouted cheers and made statements of support for the young undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers… Police arrested 82 protesters, U.S. Capitol Police communications director Eva Malecki told HuffPost.” [HuffPost]

Seen on Snapchat’s Dream Act Rally story: Stosh Cotler, the Chief Executive Officer of Bend the Arc, was the final protester to be arrested [Pic]

Zioness Movement Joins Women’s March” by Kelly Hartog: “Ann Lewis, who served as White House director of communications for President Bill Clinton and as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, will head the Zioness contingent at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. “I am proud to march with the young people of Zioness,” Lewis said in a statement. “Zioness is inspiring and empowering our country’s next generation of progressive leaders to wear their Zionist identities proudly, as they fight for human rights and women’s rights…” [JewishJournal

2018 WATCH: “Cuomo Amasses $30 Million War Chest” by Shane Goldmacher: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo raised an average of more than $32,000 per day for the last six months… He collected $129,200 from the hedge fund manager Joseph DiMenna and his wife, $50,000 from the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, $25,000 from the Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, and $30,000 from Barry Diller.” [NYTimes

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital Adds Stakes in Brighthouse and Twitter [Bloomberg] • Condo comeback? Cordish may offer for-sale units at $130M Three Light [Bizjournals] • Shari Redstone Wants New CBS Directors, Renews Push for Merger With Viacom [WSJ• Goldman’s No. 2, David Solomon, Allegedly Swindled Out of $1.2 Million of Wine by Assistant [BloombergWSJ] • Silverstein Properties, Elad Group land $300M condo inventory loan for 1 West End [RealDeal

“Waze Finds Path Back to Iran, Report Says” by Nitsan Sadan and Tofi Stoler: “The block against Google-owned mobile navigation app Waze in Iran has been lifted, Iranian news site Tasnim News reported on Monday… Persian users on Twitter confirmed the app is currently working in the country… Israel’s official state Twitter handle in Persian commented on the reported end of the ban on Monday. “Now that the block on Waze has been lifted–is it no longer a Mossad app?” the tweet asked.” [Calcalist]

PODCAST PLAYBOOK — LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman references his Tech Shabbat on How I Built This with Guy Raz: “Every time I get to Friday, I am — like Friday night, I am totally exhausted. It’s like I run the marathon that whole week, and then by about Sunday afternoon I get back into the race.” [NPR]

DEEP DIVE: “Inside Harvey Weinstein’s Frantic Final Days” by Adam Ciralsky: “With battles looming on multiple fronts, Weinstein summoned those he had trusted or worked with over the years… and people Weinstein called out of the blue, informally, to get their opinions, such as communications strategist Matthew Hiltzik, who had left Weinstein’s Miramax in 2005, and former sex-crimes prosecutor (and novelist) Linda Fairstein. Said one attendee, “He was basically asking for advice of people [who were] blindfolded, without their knowing what the accusations were—nor the truth.” [VanityFair• Harvey Weinstein sells Amagansett mansion for $10M [TheRealDeal]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Critics say The Frisch School was ‘unfairly targeted’ by news reports” by Melanie Anzidei: “Critics, including the heads of local Jewish organizations, say the reports “unfairly target” the private Orthodox Jewish high school, which Jared Kushner graduated from in 1999 and have blown an otherwise private interaction between parents in a Facebook forum out of proportion. “The school is an asset to the community,” said Jason Shames, chief executive officer of the Paramus-based Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, which the school is a beneficiary agency of. “I think it was unfairly targeted. The reports in the media were political.” [NorthJersey]

“Hungary steps up anti-Soros crackdown ahead of election” by Lili Bayer: “Hungary’s government unveiled a so-called “Stop Soros” plan to crack down on individuals and organizations it accuses of supporting illegal immigration. Coming less than three months ahead of a general election, the announcement on Wednesday marks the latest escalation in an ongoing battle between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government and George Soros… Local media reported earlier Wednesday that the government intends to ban Soros from entering the country.” [Politico]

Netanyahu visits Chabad House in Mumbai with Moshe Holtzberg: “Benjamin Netanyahu met with Moshe Holtzberg, a boy whose parents were among six people killed at the Chabad Center during the attack. Netanyahu patted Moshe’s shoulder and cheeks and posed for photographs. Netanyahu said light would spread from the memorial to make the world a better place. Moshe, 11, thanked the prime minister for visiting the center.” [AP

“After 50 Years, Israel Philharmonic Names a New Conductor” by Michael Cooper: “Lahav Shani, a 29-year-old Israeli conductor and pianist, will become the [Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s] next music director in 2020, succeeding Zubin Mehta, 81, who is stepping down after half a century.” [NYTimes]  

SPORTS BLINK: Patriots to honor woman whose wheelchair was stolen during playoff game: “A wheelchair that a New England Patriots fan thought had been stolen from Gillette Stadium while she watched the team’s playoff win over the Tennessee Titans has been found… Her friend, Samantha Medeiros… says Patriots owner Robert Kraft reached out to her friend. She writes that on Sunday, Morais “will be receiving a customized Patriots wheelchair and will be on the field with Mr. Kraft.” [Fox61KomoNews]

“Meet A.J. Edelman, Israel’s First Olympic Skeleton Athlete” by Jeffrey Boxer: “I want to challenge the perception of what Jews and Israelis can do in sports.” That was the theme that A.J. Edelman kept returning to during an interview just hours after the 26-year-old learned that he would be competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics. On Wednesday, Edelman became Israel’s first-ever Olympic athlete in skeleton, a sport in which you slide face-first down a frozen track on a small sled. The Brookline, Massachusetts native will represent his adopted country next month in PyeongChang, South Korea.”[Forward]

COMING SOON: “Shabbat lounge to appear at Sundance Film Festival for second year” by Amy Spiro: “Any celebrities — and non-celebrities too — looking for a hearty meal, a little oneg, and even some cholent can stop by the Shabbat Lounge this weekend at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, Utah. Friday night’s lineup includes pre-Shabbat cocktails, a range of services options, dinner and an oneg after-party. Saturday begins with Shabbat morning yoga, continues with a cholent-laden kiddush (after prayers, of course), afternoon speakers and a musical havdalah party to end the weekend…” [JPost

PIC OF THE DAY — Ta-Nehisi Coates in shul discussing his book, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, with The Atlantic’s Alex Wagner at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Tuesday. [Pic

BIRTHDAYS: US Representative for Maryland’s 7th congressional district since 1996, following 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, Elijah Cummings turns 67… Director of Communications at NYC’s Department of Education, formerly at NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services and the NY Daily News, JoAnne Wasserman turns 63… Microbiologist and professor of biology at Wichita State University since 2006, Mark A. Schneegurt, Ph.D. turns 56… 2016 presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley turns 55… Strategic advisor for Olami, a founding director of the Honestreporting website and executive director of Aish HaTorah NY, Rabbi Yitz Greenman turns 54… Personal finance commentator and journalist, and author of a New York Times bestseller on personal finance, Beth Koblinerturns 53… SVP of PR firm GMMB, with a focus on education policy, previously worked for seven years at the U.S. Department of Education including as press secretary, Samara Yudof Jones turns 40…

Actor and screenwriter, he wrote and acted in 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and 2011’s “The Muppets,” Jason Jordan Segel turns 38… Baltimore-born basketball player, dubbed by Sports Illustrated as the “Jewish Jordan” in a 1999 feature, Tamir Goodman turns 36… Israeli-born, moved to Los Angeles as a child, comedian, actor, writer and television host, best known for his web series “Jake and Amir” (with Jake Hurwitz), Amir Blumenfeld turms 35… Publisher of a weekly community newspaper founded in 2016, “The Boston Guardian,” after a 20 year stint as the publisher of the now defunct “Boston Courant,” David Jacobs… Northeast Political Coordinator for AIPAC’s Grassroots Mobilization Network, Tali Alter Gevaryahu Linda Rubin

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Kafe Knesset for June 19

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Israel woke up to the exciting news of a Jared Kushner visit later…

Kafe Knesset for June 16

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Kafe Knesset for June 15

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Trump, Israelis, Palestinians – and the settlers: The US special envoy, Jason Greenblatt,…

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on the Early Days of Dad’s Company, Maccabiah Games

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Kafe Knesset for June 14

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Secretary Tillerson’s statement that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has changed its policy of…

Kafe Knesset for June 13

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Tensions on the southern border continue to exacerbate: On Sunday evening, the security cabinet…