Feb
4

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Daily Kickoff: Meet Trump’s pick for Amb to South Africa, Lana Marks | AOC responds to Corbyn critics | Julian Edelman, first Jewish Super Bowl MVP

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COMING SOON — According to multiple sources, the Trump administration has picked a new Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and will be announcing the nominee shortly.

FIRST LOOK — Talking With Ambassador Nominee Lana Marks, Who’s Ready to Ditch Palm Beach for Pretoria — by Tish Durkin: “Since her nomination [to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to South Africa] was announced in November, Marks has been slammed for, among other things, belonging to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, lacking any diplomatic experience whatsoever, and engaging in relentless self-promotion to advance her decidedly flashy business.”

On joining Mar-a-Lago: “‘I was quite limited because I am of the Jewish faith, and my husband is also of the Jewish faith,’ she says, for example. ‘We live on the south end of the island [near the Trump estate], and we didn’t have terribly many opportunities where we could go play tennis, which is an extramural of mine, and so we decided it would be very nice if we joined Mar-a-Lago.’ She seems completely unperturbed by the reality she is describing — that, as of 2010, when she and her husband joined Trump’s club, they were barred by their religion from joining the others. But given her backstory, it has to bother her a little.”

Family history: “Blond hair and blue eyes saved Marks’s father, Alec Bank. Fleeing Lithuania in the 1930s, his mother pointed to her family’s fair coloring as proof that they couldn’t possibly be Jews. Arriving in Johannesburg as a boy, Bank grew up to make a fortune as a property developer, eventually becoming a prominent member of the Jewish community in East London. With his wife, Blanche, he raised his three children — Marks is the eldest — in comfort. Their house had a pool, a small movie theater, and (once Lana had won enough competitions to earn it in her father’s eyes) a tennis court. Marks’s sister now lives in Australia and her brother in Israel. She is bitterly estranged from both over the family trust and the care of their mother, now 89.” [NYMag]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Trump’s favorite compliment — byAlayna Treene and Jonathan Swan: “Kevin Warsh had prepared deeply for his interview with President Trump. It was the fall of 2017, and Trump had narrowed his search for the next chairman of the Federal Reserve down to four candidates. Warsh was one of them. The former Federal Reserve governor arrived at the White House with a set of sharp points to make to Trump about monetary policy, according to a friend of his. But that’s not quite how the conversation went. ‘You’re a really handsome guy, aren’t you?’ Trump said, per the friend. ‘How old are you?’ Warsh was 47. ‘Well, you look good for 47,’ Trump told Warsh.” [Axios]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Palestinians refuse to meet with Trump’s adviser, so he’s tweeting them — by Ruth Eglash: “It’s been more than a year since senior Palestinian officials have agreed to meet or even speak with representatives of the Trump administration, but now President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, appears to have adopted a new diplomatic channel: Twitter. During the past few weeks, Greenblatt has been tweeting his thoughts, requests and criticisms to those Palestinian leaders who are active on the popular social media platform.”[WashPost]

— Greenblatt tweeted on Saturday evening: “Dr. [Hanan] Ashrawi- my door is always open to the PA and Palestinians to speak… I’m happy to meet anytime — you, Saeb [Erekat] and all your colleagues are always welcome to visit me at the White House to speak in person.”

TALK OF THE REGION — Jewish and Palestinian Teens Reach for Understanding One More Time — by Daniel Gordis: “Israeli and Palestinian teenagers hardly ever meet… The Roots program that brought these teens together, however, is the brainchild of a Palestinian peace activist, Ali Abu Awwad, and is now co-directed by Ali’s brother Haled… What turned him around, he told me when we met at his home, was the sight of Jewish tears. He was attending a meeting of Jews and Palestinians who had lost family members in the conflict, and in the course of the conversation, a Jewish woman wept. The sight, he said, shocked him. Perhaps hyperbolically, he said that it had never crossed his mind that Jews cry, too. It was then, he said, that he decided to devote his life to a different solution to the endless conflict.” [Bloomberg]

Israeli government report claims terrorists have ‘infiltrated’ Palestinian NGOs — by Raphael Ahren: “‘The terror groups have realized that armed conflict is not achieving its objective and is perceived as illegitimate by the majority of Western society,’ the Strategic Affairs Ministry report states. ‘Hamas and PFLP operatives have infiltrated and adopted seemingly benign NGOs in the Palestinian Authority, Europe, North America and South Africa, for the purpose of advancing their ideological goal: the elimination of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.'” [ToI]

As West Bank Violence Surges, Israel Is Silent on Attacks by Jews — by Isabel Kershner: “Attacks by settlers on Palestinians, their property and Israeli security forces increased by 50 percent last year and have threatened to ignite the West Bank, Israeli security officials say… While Palestinian and United Nations officials have condemned the violence… Israel’s right-wing government has remained conspicuously silent, wary of alienating settlers and other potential supporters in an election year.” [NYTimes]

Rivlin impresses Jewish connection to Jerusalem on UN ambassadors — by Greer Fay Cashman: “In a meeting at the President’s Residence on Sunday, with close to 40 ambassadors to the UN from many parts of the world, Rivlin acknowledged the importance of the UN as a multi-national entity that deals with numerous national and international issues, but was highly critical of its tendency to ignore history, specifically with regard to the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.” [JPost]

— Professor Eugene Kontorovich responds, after seeing their location in Jerusalem: “Glad to see UN Security Council Res. 2334 not being taken too seriously.”

Kontorovich elaborates in an email to JI“The Security Council resolution calls on countries to ‘differentiate’ between Israel and territories that came under its control in 1967. The resolution is of course not binding, and by going on in official state visit across the green line in the company of Israeli government officials, these UN ambassadors show that they are fully aware what a dead letter the resolution is.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump on Syria withdrawal in an interview with Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation:“Ultimately some will be coming home. But we’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying… We have to protect Israel…One of the reasons I want to keep [the U.S. military base in Iraq] is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.”

Brennan: Whoa, that’s news. You’re keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?

Trump: 
”No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch.”

Trump on disagreeing with intelligence chiefs regarding the Iranian threat: “My intelligence people, if they said in fact that Iran is a wonderful kindergarten, I disagree with them 100 percent. It is a vicious country that kills many people.”

Brennan: I should say your intel chiefs do say Iran’s abiding by that nuclear deal.

Trump: 
“I disagree with them… I have intel people, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree.” [Video]

INSIDE THE ADMIN — John Bolton Is Living His Dream — by Elise Labott: “It was clear from our encounter that [Trump exiting the Iran deal] is one of the proudest achievements of Bolton’s professional life, commemorated by a picture hanging on his office wall. A gift from Ivanka Trump, it is a framed Wall Street Journal cartoon published shortly after Trump exited the nuclear deal. It shows Trump, with Bolton right behind him, squaring off across a chessboard against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Scrawled on the bottom is a note from the president, ‘John, Great Job.'” [PoliticoMag]

ON THE HILL — The Senate is expected to resume debate on S.1, Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. Procedural votes will follow later in the evening. [CSPAN]

— “The Senate bill, which has considerable Democratic support, is destined to fail in the House, where Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic Caucus chairman, has labeled it a ‘political stunt.'” [NYTimes]

HOW IT’S BEING PLAYED —Senate reasserts foreign policy role, reshapes Trump agenda — by Lisa Mascaro: “The Republican-led Senate is reasserting itself as a check on Trump’s instincts… Pushed forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the legislation also is driving a political wedge dividing Democrats, particularly those running for president in 2020, over the troop withdrawal and a separate provision supporting Israel.”[AP]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — From Celebrated to Vilified, House’s Muslim Women Absorb Blows Over Israel —by Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “Almost daily, Republicans brashly accuse Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar of anti-Semitism and bigotry, hoping to make them the Democrats’ version of Representative Steve King (R-IA)…  And while Democratic leaders publicly defend them, some Democratic colleagues are clearly uneasy. Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida and a founder of a bipartisan task force to combat anti-Semitism, said some of the lawmakers’ comments ‘fall into longstanding anti-Semitic tropes.’ When Ms. Omar was named to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, its chairman, Representative Eliot Engel of New York, told her privately that he would not allow some of her ‘particularly hurtful’ remarks to be ‘swept under the rug,’ Mr. Engel said.”

“Democratic leaders are standing by the women. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the caucus chairman, called them ‘thoughtful colleagues.’ Representative Steny D. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader and a staunch ally of Israel, said, ‘I don’t know that I draw the conclusion that these two members are anti-Semitic.'” [NYTimes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — An old-school Democrat takes on Trump’s foreign policy — by Nahal Toosi and Marianne Levine: “Even as he calls one hearing after another that will feature pointed criticism of the president, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) hopes to retain his bipartisan credentials… Asked about how he will get along with [Ilhan] Omar and others more to left than him, Engel said ‘reasonable people can disagree’ and that views can change. ‘I’m not going to slam the door on anybody,’ he said. ‘And I will judge each person, certainly on my committee, the way he or she acts in a collegial way.'”[Politico]

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in an interview with the LATimes:“There are many people who get caught up in the BDS movement who are not anti-Semitic at all and who see it as a form of social protest. I understand that. But its strategy is to demonize and delegitimize the state of Israel. We find that deeply wrong.”

TOP TALKER — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) faced Twitter backlash on Sunday evening after she praised UK Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn following a phone conversation between the two. “Great to speak to AOC on the phone this evening and hear first hand how she’s challenging the status quo,” Corbyn wrote on Twitter. Ocasio-Cortez celebrated the call with the British leader accused of anti-Semitism. “It was an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation with you, Jeremy Corbyn!” she tweeted.

Bret Stephens tweeted“Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite, AOC, a view widely shared by Jewish members of the U.K. Labour Party. Please educate yourself before you embarrass yourself. Again.”

Yair Rosenberg added“85% of British Jews think Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic. 87% of Jews refused to vote for his Labour party in the last election, and for good reason. AOC might want to have her staff screen her calls more carefully.”

— Ocasio-Cortez responded to the criticism by a ‘huge fan’ of hers, Elad Nehorai‏, who goes by the name Pop Chassid on Twitter: “Thank you for bringing this to me. We cannot + will not move forward without deep fellowship and leadership with the Jewish community. I’ll have my team reach out. ”

2020 WATCH — Kamala Harris Headlines First 2020 Fundraisers Before L.A., Showbiz Crowds  — by Ted Johnson: “Universal’s Jeff Shell and his wife Laura hosted Harris at their Beverly Hills home for an early evening reception, drawing a crowd that included Jeffrey Katzenberg, Fox Television Group’s Dana Walden, ICM Partners’ Chris Silbermann… Amazon Studios’ Jennifer Salke, manager Scooter Braun, political consultant Andy Spahn… Jon Feltheimer… and producer Dayna Bochco, according to attendees.” 

“‘Talking about groups in Charlottesville and saying, well, there is merit on both sides is not reflective of our America,’ Harris said. ‘Our America will stand up and fight against those who would commit violence in a synagogue, in the Tree of Life Synagogue, because that is not reflective of our America.'” [Variety]

Joe Biden is close to making a decision about running for president… Michael Bloomberg is going ahead with expensive preparations for a campaign: He directed his staff to prepare a launch plan for him… David Axelrod comments on Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and the 2020 field in an interview with the New Yorker… Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper raised $600K for a Super PAC advancing his 2020 run… The maximum donors to Hickenlooper’s Giddy Up PAC includeNorman Brownstein of the influential law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck…

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — giant billboard of a smiling Donald Trump shaking hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loomed over the main entrances to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Sunday… Allison Kaplan Sommer: “Israel is one of the few countries in the world in which close ties to Trump carry political currency.”…  A U.S. Embassy spokesperson told Times of Israel, “We are not involved in Likud Party’s campaign messages or strategy.”… On Sunday, Netanyahu launched a daily webcast, Likud TV, to promote ‘positive and true’ coverage of his government… In an interview with the Facebook channel, Netanyahu took aim at his Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar, trying to prevent him from winning a top spot in Tuesday’s primary… Sa’ar responded: “I’ll behave like the responsible adult, won’t be dragged into a domestic war.”… Former IDF chief rabbi Rafi Peretz was selected as Bayit Yehudi’s new leader… Netanyahu called on Bayit Yehudi to unite with the National Union and far-right Otzma L’Yisrael “to prevent the loss of votes in the right-wing bloc.”

Israel’s election is a race to the right — by Oren Liebermann: “In modern Israeli politics, the equivalent of telling someone they play baseball ‘like a girl’ is calling them a leftist. ‘Smolani,’ as it’s said in Hebrew, has become the most common — and perhaps the most feared — insult across the political landscape… The left has become the favorite punching bag of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… Only Iran gets nearly as much of Netanyahu’s time and Twitter feed.” [CNN• Netanyahu’s legal woes should be a boon for Israel’s left, but it’s busy imploding [WashPost]

** 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: 1MDB Scandal Could Hit Pay for Goldman Execs, Including Lloyd Blankfein [WSJ] • CBS board narrows list of CEOs to replace Les Moonves [NYPost] • Shari Redstone Is Pulling Off the Corporate Coup of the Century [VanityFair• Formerly Facebook-first, Attn recalibrates [DigiDay• Website Building Company Wix Repurposes Four-Month Old Ad for Super Bowl [Calcalist• After A Decade Of Testing, Israeli Medical Cannabis Comes To The U.S. [Forbes• Hulu Acquires Israeli Vampire Series ‘Juda’ and U.S. Remake Rights From Banijay [Variety]

STARTUP NATION  — First Private Lunar Spacecraft Shoots for the Moon — by John Horack: “SpaceIL’s Beresheet — Hebrew for ‘In the Beginning’ — will become the first privately funded mission to launch from Earth and land on the moon, and the first spacecraft to propel itself over the lunar surface after landing by ‘hopping’ on its rocket engine to a second landing spot. The mission marks yet another milestone, not only in the history and technical arc of space exploration, but also in how humankind goes about space exploration. SpaceIL was founded in 2011 to compete in the Google Lunar XPrize.” [Space]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — This Startup Uncovers The World’s Hidden Geniuses To Solve Global Problems — by Jonathan Moed: “Pioneer founder Daniel Gross grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household in Jerusalem, Israel. In 2010, at age 18, he applied and was accepted to the prestigious startup accelerator program Y Combinator, at which point he moved to San Francisco.” [Forbes]

LONG READ — In an age of ubiquitous direct-to-consumer genetic testing, family secrets are almost impossible to keep — by Amy Dockser Marcus: “In a paper published in October in the journal Science, researchers estimated over 60% of individuals of European descent in the U.S. now have a third cousin or closer relative in a database. ‘DNA tests can reveal that there is something odd going on,’ said Yaniv Erlich, one of the authors and chief science officer of DNA-testing company MyHeritage. ‘But they don’t tell you the story of what happened.’” [WSJ]

MIDDLE EAST TOUR — Why Pope Francis’ Historic Visit to the Gulf Matters — by Declan Walsh and Jason Horowitz: “Pope Francis started a landmark, three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, becoming the first pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church to visit the Arabian Peninsula… The Gulf countries, which include the United Arab Emirates, are among the few in the Middle East where Christian numbers are rising, despite their history of restricting religious freedom… In the United Arab Emirates, Christians, Hindus and Jews can worship openly.” [NYTimes]

— UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba writes… “Why We Invited the Pope to the Arabian Peninsula: As the birthplace of the three Abrahamic religions, the Middle East today has become a cauldron of conflict among and within them. Religion today is a treacherous fault line that divides the region. But the true faith of Muslims, Christians and Jews has never been about hate or fanaticism. There is no clash of civilizations or ideas – only a rash of ignorance and a deficit of courage and moral leadership.” [PoliticoMag]

SUPER BOWL LIII — Patriots’ Julian Edelman becomes first-ever Jewish player to win Super Bowl MVP: “The Patriots’ Julian Edelman was selected as the Super Bowl MVP while helping lift the Patriots to a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, apparently becoming the first-ever Jewish player to win the honor… ‘I’m pretty ecstatic,’ Edelman said. ‘I’m emotionally pooped. I’m physically and emotionally pooped.'” [ToIBostonGlobe]

Spotted at the Super Bowl: Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in LA and Rabbi Bill Hamilton of Kehillath Israel in Boston. [Pic]

Andrew Beaton tweets: “Robert Kraft rolls into the Patriots locker room with 50-year-old cigars. ‘They let us smoke in here?’ a player asks. ‘Yes,’ Kraft says with no hesitation.” [Pic

WATCH — Cardi B Dances With Robert Kraft at Super Bowl Party, Meek Mill Approves: “Kraft looked anything but nervous… joined the Cardi B on stage at the Fanatics Super Bowl party in ATL, which was hosted by Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin… As if Cardi wasn’t enough… Kraft had Meek Mill for a hype man pumping him up on the side of the stage.” [TMZ] • In an interview with Fox & Friends, Kraft praised Trump for working for country’s ‘best interests’ [TheHill]

Who’s in the Atlanta Falcons Owner’s Huddle? — by Andrew Beaton: “When Arthur Blank ran Home Depot Inc., he tried to spend up to half his time wearing an orange apron in his stores. To get the bluntest feedback possible about his business, he had to directly interact with his customers… Mr. Blank has taken that same approach as owner of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which [hosted] Sunday’s Super Bowl, has been lauded for its fan-friendly approach… Here, [are his] other trusted advisers: Bernard Marcus, Home Depot co-founder: In 1978, Messrs. Marcus and Blank were fired on the same day at Handy Dan, a home-improvement retailer, in what Mr. Blank now calls ‘a bonding moment.’ Together, they started Home Depot and turned it into one of the country’s largest retailers. They ate lunch together whenever one wasn’t traveling and developed a partnership that thrived because of a ‘yin-yang’ dynamic.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE TOWN —  A Mayor’s Effort to Play Down Henry Ford’s Anti-Semitism Backfires — by Steve Friess and Adeel Hassan: “Mayor John B. O’Reilly said that given Dearborn’s ethnic diversity now — it is about one-third Arab-American — it was irresponsible [for the Dearborn Independent] to present [Henry] Ford’s offensive opinions… While the mayor may have been trying to limit the reach of the journal, his decision has only spread word of its contents. Tens of thousands of users have read the bulk of it on Deadline Detroit, a web publication.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Talent agent and co-CEO of WME (William Morris Endeavor) with Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell turns 54… President and COO of Blackstone Group, Jonathan D. “Jon” Gray turns 49… The first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti turns 48… Actor best known for his work as Herman “Hesh” Rabkin on HBO’s “The Sopranos” and as Howard Lyman on CBS’s “The Good Wife,” Jerry Adler turns 90… Stowe, Vermont resident, Barbara Gould Stern turns 85… Co-founder and Chair of SAGE Publications, an academic publishing company, she was international president of B’nai B’rith Girls at the age of 19, Sara Miller McCune turns 78… Attorney, bank executive and philanthropist, donor of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Adrienne Arsht turns 77… Patrick Leek turns 66… Attorney, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson turns 62… Senior content editor of the Koren/Steinsaltz English Talmud and director of E-Communities at the Lookstein Center of Bar Ilan University, Shalom Berger turns 59…

Actress, best known for her award-winning role as Private Vasquez in the 1986 science fiction action film Aliens, Jenette Elise Goldstein turns 59… Member of the State Senate of Maryland since 2013, representing portions of Montgomery County, Brian J. Feldman turns 58… Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska since July 2015, previously he was the Democratic Minority Leader in the Alaska House of Representatives (1999-2007), Ethan Berkowitz turns 57… Television writer and producer, best known for his work with his colleague Adam Horowitz on two ABC dramas, Lost and Once Upon a Time, Edward Lawrence “Eddy” Kitsis turns 48… Executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, Howard Libit turns 47… Author, psychotherapist and group fitness instructor, her book is about her genetic disease that has made her almost completely blind and deaf, Rebecca Alexander turns 40… Manager in the NYC office of Monitor Deloitte, he held a series of White House, OMB and Commerce Department positions (2011-2017), Justin Meservie turns 36… Political consultant, formerly at the Israeli American Council and AIPAC, Abigail Dana Cable turns 31… Dan Ben-Canaan… Jan Winnick

Feb
1

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Daily Kickoff: Israel pundits convene on UES | Pete Buttigieg calls out Ilhan Omar’s Israel-Iran comparison | Inside Spielberg’s Kosher Restaurant

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HEARD LAST NIGHT — Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, Hudson Institute’s Mike Doran, author Mona Charen and NYTimes op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg discussed Trump’s Israel policy and the growing concern of Democrats turning away from Israel during a lively panel discussion co-hosted by the Anti-Defamation League and the Israel Policy Forum, and moderated by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in New York City. [Pic]

HIGHLIGHTS — Shapiro: “There’s plenty of work to be done by people like me, leaders in our party and elders in our community to ensure that what is still the dominant mainstream view, which is support for Israel’s legitimacy, security and the U.S.-Israel relationship, and support for the two-state solution, remains the prevailing view, with different voices. But it’s going to take work, work that I will take on, but I actually need help from the Israelis to make that duel bare.”

Doran: “The Jerusalem Embassy move was just fantastic domestic politics. People like me — I am not Jewish, I am a Catholic — don’t have any qualms about it. I watched my Jewish colleagues, even politically conservative colleagues, get very uncomfortable when Trump moved the embassy… I thought it was great. Particularly, in a populist era, Trump said that every president in the last two decades promised to move the embassy, yet nobody delivered. So this is tailor-made for Donald Trump, because what did he do? He changed a plaque on a building and it made liberal heads explode.”

Goldberg: “When the Israeli government sent Naftali Bennett here to cover for Trump after the massacre in Pittsburgh —basically exonerating him of any anti-Semitism — for me personally, that was a Rubicon. That relationship will never recover from them siding, as a lot of people see it, against American Jews at a moment when we feel imperiled.”

Goldberg on anti-Zionism on the Left: “I am just not going to concede that anti-Zionism is necessarily anti-Semitic… I know from conversations that because of a lot of people on the Left and various African-American women, some of them who have come under attack for just opposing Israeli policy. When people feel as if the attacks on people who are critical of Israel are unfair and in bad faith, it makes it harder for somebody like me to say that those attacks are bs, but you can’t use words like ‘hypnotize the world.’ It makes them less willing to hear and to be sensitive about crossing the line.”

— Greenblatt interjected to note: “The ADL tracks this stuff every day. We saw an increase in anti-Semitism in 2017, we’ve seen an increase in white supremacist activity, and we also see anti-Zionism play out in real-world circumstances as anti-Semitism. We see the use of anti-Semitic imagery on signs that anti-Zionists hold up… We will see a BDS campaign that prompts suddenly the next day swastikas on Jewish fraternities. We are not making this stuff up… I am sorry, on this planet, in the world that I live, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

Charen: “My worry about Donald Trump’s effect on Israel is that he is contributing to the hyper-politicization of support for Israel. He is driving many people in the middle and on the left to a position that says, ‘Well, if he is so in bed with Netanyahu, Netanyahu must not be somebody that we like.’ His reputation, understandably, on the part of Americans of good will, has suffered. And because he’s thrown his arms so much around Israel, I am worried that there is a certain taint that that will entail. Not everything Trump has done is wrong, but on balance, I am much more worried about what he is doing to American public opinion vis-à-vis Israel rather than what he’s doing on the international stage.”

AT 92Y — Columnist Peter Beinart, Dr. Einat Wilf, professor Eugene Kontorovich and Arab–Israeli author Sayed Kashua debated Israel’s nation-state law in a panel discussion moderated by Rabbi Peter Rubinstein at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side. [Pic]

TOP TALKER — The spat between Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and his colleague on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), continued for the second day in a row. The New York Jewish Republican shared on Twitter audio of an anti-Semitic voicemail that was left at his congressional office after he criticized the Democratic House leadership for appointing Omar to the HFA committee.

Rep. Lee Zeldin tells JI“We got calls like this all day long today and many were worse than what was in that voicemail. I went through K-12, college, law school, and 4 years on active duty in the Army and I never once experienced anti-Semitism. In the last several years though, this anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hatred is only increasing in American politics, on college campuses, and in the halls of Congress. That’s why I’m calling on the House to immediately pass my resolution condemning this anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hate. Let’s not elevate it. Let’s not empower or echo it. Let’s eliminate it.”

— Omar responded to Zeldin on Twitter: “This is heinous and hateful. I too am flooded with bigoted voicemails and calls every day. Maybe we could meet and share notes on how to fight religious discrimination of all kinds? Maybe over Somali tea, in your old office which I happen to be in now.”

Ilhan Omar Addresses Anti-Israel Comments on ‘Daily Show’ — by Matt Wilstein: “’With that tweet, what I finally realized is the realization that I hope that people come to when we’re having a conversation about white privilege,’ Omar said on The Daily Show Thursday night. ‘People would be, like, ‘I grew up in a poor neighborhood, I can’t be privileged. Can you stop saying that? I haven’t benefited from my whiteness!’’ But in both cases, she said it’s about acknowledging a ‘systematic’ problem, whether it’s white privilege or anti-Semitism. ‘That happened for me,’ Omar said. ‘I was like, ‘Do not call me that, that’s not what I was doing.’ And I was like, oh, I see what you’re saying now. So I had to take a deep breath and understand where people were coming from and what point they were trying to make, which is what I expect people to do when I’m talking to them about things that impact me or offend me.'”[DailyBeast

2020 presidential hopeful, South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg to Meghan McCain on ABC’s The View: “I disagree with [Rep. Ilhan Omar’s] comments comparing Israel to Iran. People like me get strung up in Iran. So the idea that what’s going on is equivalent is just wrong. What I will say is, it’s a complicated picture. I was in Israel in May of this year and not only is there a real problem with how they’re going balance being a democracy with being a Jewish state, but they’ve also got to figure out, and we’ve got to figure out with them, as an ally, what the regional security picture is going look like in the future… What’s going on with the Palestinians — it has always been one of the most fiendishly complicated issues, and simple answers will not serve us well at a time like this.” [Video]

ON THE HILL — The Senate voted 68-23 to advance an amendment which opposes a ‘precipitous withdrawal’ of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. The measure — introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — will be attached to the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, known as S.1, expected to easily pass the Senate next week.

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Barak Ravid reports: “The White House peace team — senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt — will attend the Warsaw conference on the Middle East on Feb. 13-14. Kushner and Greenblatt are expected to hold meetings with foreign officials on the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Among the foreign officials in attendance will be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Jordan. The Palestinians and the Iranians were not invited.” [Axios]

SCENE IN JERUSALEM — A delegation of 40 UN Ambassadors arrived in Israel on Thursday for a five-day visit led by Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon. The delegation will meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. Earlier this week, the diplomats visited the Majdanek concentration camp and the Warsaw Ghetto. [Pic

TALK OF THE REGION — USAID assistance in the West Bank and Gaza has ceased — by Stephen Farrell and Maayan Lubell: “The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has ceased all assistance to Palestinians… The decision was linked to a Jan. 31 deadline set by new U.S. legislation under which foreign aid recipients would be more exposed to anti-terrorism lawsuits… It was unclear how long the cessation would be in effect. The [U.S.] official said no steps were currently being taken to close the USAID mission in the Palestinian territories, and no decision had been made about future staffing at the USAID mission in the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.” [Reuters]

— “The White House and some pro-Israel members of Congress have been looking for ways to preserve the security aid. But the recent monthlong U.S. government shutdown delayed these efforts, meaning any solution will likely be only in the coming weeks or months.” [APWashPost]

Dana Stroul and Daniel Shapiro write… “Members of Congress naturally seek Israel’s views on the security and economic consequences of completely shutting down U.S. assistance programs to the Palestinians. But during the Trump administration, the answers have been murky. After Israel’s election in April, Congress should urgently seek a clear picture of the new government’s views, as members continue to vote on this much-debated set of issues.” [NPR]

Lebanon agrees to new government, PM vows bold reforms — by Tom Perry and Laila Bassam: “Lebanon formed a new national unity government on Thursday, ending nine months of wrangling… The government of Saad al-Hariri, who has Western backing, includes most parties including the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah, which emerged stronger from the parliamentary election last May thanks to gains by its allies. Hezbollah chose the new health minister.” [Reuters]

Firas Maksad writes… “Hezbollah makes gains as Lebanon forms new government: Hezbollah and its allies now control two-thirds of all key government ministries… Hezbollah is firmly entrenched in the Lebanese body politic and has grown into a regionwide fighting force on behalf of Iran, undercutting U.S. efforts to roll back Iranian influence.” [Axios]

U.S. Businesses Complain Saudi Arabia Is Slow to Pay — by Rory Jones, Summer Said and Doug Cameron: “Saudi Arabia has failed to pay more than $1 billion it owes for military trucks built by defense industry giant General Dynamics Corp… In a sign of how serious and widespread complaints of late payments have become, the U.S. State Department raised the issue with Saudi officials late last year.” [WSJ]

— Daniel Shapiro‏ tweets“Another hint as to why Trump and the Saudis see each other as soulmates.”

IRAN SANCTIONS — European nations create workaround to U.S. Iran sanctions — by David Rising: “Three European countries working to preserve a deal that was meant to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon have established a new system so their companies can continue trading with the Mideast nation without incurring U.S. sanctions… A financial institution, known as an ‘Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges’ or INSTEX, would run a payment channel, brokering Iranian imports in and European exports out, while insulating the companies involved.” [AP• The question now is whether anyone will actually use it [NYTimes]

2020 WATCH — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced in a video that he’s running for president… Matt Klapper, former chief of staff to Cory Booker, is now senior advisor to Cory 2020… Mark Cuban is not ruling out a primary challenge to Trump… Matt Bai: There’s no reason to automatically assumeSchultz becomes a spoiler, rather than a viable candidate in his own right… Mike Bloomberg is building an all-star political team — and he might not even run…

How the relationship between Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg went into a tailspin — by Michael Kranish: “Trump, in an interview this week with The Washington Post, said, ‘I really liked Michael and I think he liked me, but it went really strangely haywire once I ran for office.’ He said Bloomberg did not care about his political views when he was merely a New York City developer, but now ‘he probably doesn’t like my policies… A developer is a lot different than as a candidate.’ … Bloomberg, in a brief interview this week during a visit to the first-primary state of New Hampshire, said, ‘My objection to Donald Trump is the way he’s filling his current role… There’s an attitude, and a style, and lack of civility that I think is bad for the country, and I find offensive.'” [WashPost

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit rejected a request from PM Netanyahu to delay his decision on whether to indict him on corruption charges until after national elections… “It looks like the attorney general has given in to the pressure from the left and the media,” Netanyahu said in a statement… Netanyahu is now considering cutting short his trips abroad to focus on campaigning… The Likud leader is also considering to merge with Naftali Bennett’s new party… Yair Lapid not ruling out merger with Benny Gantz…

** 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: Court Tosses Gulliver’s Gate Suit Against Kushner Companies [CommercialObserver] • Alex Sapir is cutting his ties to New York — and just listed his West Chelsea apartment [TheRealDeal] • A duplex with a Rothschild pedigree and one of New York’s most exclusive addresses seeks $22.5 million [WSJ] • Intel-backed Israeli startup raises $30M, opens U.S. HQ in San Jose [Bizjournals• Teva’s generic EpiPen launch stalls months after approval [Reuters• The Next Major Marijuana Exporter Will Be in the Middle East [Newsweek• Leviathan gas rig reaches Israel[Reuters • Entrepreneur creates safety app after the death of Israeli student[DailyMail]

** A message from The Maimonides Scholars Program: Do you know a student interested in Jewish Thought, Zionism, and Philosophy? The Maimonides Scholars Program is a two-week summer institute for high school students hosted at Yale University. Our faculty members include Rabbi David Wolpe, novelist Dara Horn, historian Daniel Gordis, and former MK Einat Wilf. Students with all levels of familiarity with Jewish text study are encouraged to apply—the only prerequisite is a hunger to learn. Application deadline is February 3rd. [Visit The Maimonides Scholars Program]  **

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — Ryan Williams, 30, Started A Revolutionary $800M Fintech. But Can He Escape His Kushner-Trump Connection? — by Nathan Vardi: “Williams has accumulated a dizzying array of backers [for the real estate startup Cadre] with ties to the current Trump era. Besides Mark Cuban, the president’s biggest business-world heckler, there’s Peter Thiel, his biggest Silicon Valley water carrier, and George Soros, the poster boy for right-wing conspiracy theorists. But as a policymaker and presidential whisperer, it’s Jared Kushner who creates Williams’ headaches, refusing to divest, despite sitting in on all sorts of decisions that could affect Cadre.”

“‘I would be lying if I said the political angle wasn’t frustrating or concerning,’ Williams, the CEO and founder of Cadre, says in as matter-of-fact a manner as possible. ‘There are people who won’t work with us [because of the Kushner connection], and we get that. But we have over 80 investors in the company. Jared is a passive investor who has no operational control.’ … The media and the rest of the country may be obsessed with Trump and his family, he adds, ‘but I live, eat, breathe Cadre.'” [Forbes]

PROFILE — The Money Saving Expert: how Martin Lewis became the most trusted man in Britain — by Daniel Cohen: “The business of saving money has made Lewis extremely wealthy. After he sold the site in 2012 to the price-comparison firm MoneySupermarket for £87m, the Financial Times called him “the most successful journalist in the world, ever”. A year later, he was the seventh most Googled celebrity in the UK, nestled between Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. Lewis still worries over every line in the email each week. When I went to meet him on a Tuesday afternoon last July, he was studying the draft of that night’s newsletter, pondering aloud the merits of competing broadband deals.” [TheGuardian]

— Flashback: Martin Lewis: the money expert who can save on anything except kosher meat [TheJC]

Israel Eurovision hero releases song on newfound fame — by Isaac Scharf and Isabel Debre: “Israeli pop star Netta Barzilai, winner of last year’s Eurovision song contest, released a new single Friday which she says reflects the highs and lows in the year since her shock victory shook up her life. Barzilai, 26, spoke to The Associated Press ahead of the release of her new song “Bassa Sababa.” She says the song, Hebrew/Arabic slang for “Bummer, that’s cool,” speaks to the thrills and challenges of her past year.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Jewish community on edge after ‘vicious’ anti-Semitic attacks in Brooklyn — by Chris Perez: “Brooklyn’s Jewish community is on edge following two ‘vicious’ anti-Semitic attacks in Crown Heights — which unfolded early Wednesday within minutes of each other. ‘Time for a serious, and possibly, uncomfortable conversation about the face of antisemitism in America,’ wrote Chabad Rabbi Motti Seligson on Instagram… ‘This happened last night in Crown Heights, not in Charlottesville nor at the hands of White Supremacists,’ Seligson said.” [NYPost]

TRANSITION — Elie Bennett has joined the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem as its new director of international strategy. Bennett previously served as director of communications and spokesperson for Israel’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

HOT TAKE — Drew Magary writes: “I loved all of these bagels, but the standard operating procedure of most bagel shops is to serve your bagel and smoked salmon as a full-on sandwich, with the cream cheese and smoked fish jammed inside the full bagel. This is, in my opinion, a sub-optimal way of enjoying a bagel. Bagel sandwiches are dumb… Please note that I issue this take as a card-carrying gentile and as someone who has never actually made a bagel from scratch.” [GQ]

DESSERT — Inside Milky Way, the Spielberg Family’s Classic Kosher Restaurant — by Farley Elliott: “The Jewish dining community got a jolt nearly two years ago with the news that longtime restaurant owner and Spielberg family matriarch Leah Adler had died… Now the Spielberg family has revived Adler’s memory with the reopening of the restaurant she ran for 40 years with husband Bernie. The homey restaurant has been undergoing an extensive overhaul both in menu and design for many months now, but is back and more charming than ever. From the framed family photographs to the movie posters headlined by Adler’s son director Steven Spielberg, dining inside really feels like stepping into Adler’s own kitchen.” [EaterLA]

Kosher Restaurant in Las Vegas Shut Down by the Health Dept —by Susan Stapleton: “Anise Tapas & Grill, the kosher a kosher Spanish tapas restaurant at 3100 S. Durango Drive, was shut down by the Southern Nevada Health District after a routine inspection on Jan. 15… This is the fourth time the health department closed the restaurant since 2017.” [EaterVegas]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Hagafen Prix Reserve Chardonnay — by guest wine columnist Kenneth Friedman: “I had the pleasure of spending a snowy Thursday night with a dear friend, one who appreciates a great glass of wine, camaraderie and special food. This is not the type of person where a merely adequate wine will suffice. So I reached for a trusty bottle in the cellar: The Hagafen Prix Reserve Chardonnay. This was the recently released 2016 vintage.”

“The 2016 Prix Chard is fabulous. You may not be a huge fan of Chard, but that’s because most Chard is boring and bland. This oaked Chard transmits a nose of buttered popcorn, pineapple, citrus and tart apple. The mouth feel is lush and round, even buttery. The acidity blends perfectly with the luscious fruit. The finish is long and satisfying. This is a white wine that can stand up to heavier foods, and I find it pairs beautifully with house-made, hot-smoked salmon.” [Hagafen]

Our premier wine columnist Yitz Applbaum is traveling this week, likely sourcing new wines, and will resume next week. 

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Actor, best known for playing Marshal Jim Crown in the TV series “Cimarron Strip” and as the romantic lead in the 1965 film “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines,” Stuart Whitman turns 91… Executive vice chairman since 1986 of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm I. Hoenleinturns 75… Partner in LA-based law firm, Fredman Liebermann Pearl, and past president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Howard S. Fredman turns 75… Midtown Manhattan physician, affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital, specializing in Nephrology and Internal Medicine, Mark H. Gardenswartz, MD turns 69… Composer and conductor, he is the laureate conductor of the Chappaqua Orchestra since 2002, and author in 1994 of “The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time,” Michael Jeffrey Shapiroturns 68… Far Rockaway, NY resident, Maurice Lazar turns 68… Lakewood, NJ-born, president and part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, previously president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, Stan Kasten turns 67… Publisher of Baltimore Jewish Life, Jeff Cohn turns 65… Born in Derbent, a predominantly Muslim city in Southern Russia, now living in Albany, NY, he is artist whose oil on canvas paintings have many Jewish themes, Israel Tsvaygenbaum turns 58…

Deputy director for policy and government affairs at AIPAC, David Gilletteturns 58… Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Becky Sobelman-Stern turns 57… One of Israel’s top soccer players of all time, successful on both Israeli and European teams, now chairman of Beitar Jerusalem, Eli Ohana turns 55… Actor, comedian, director, writer and producer, Pauly Shore turns 51… Chair of Perkins Coie’s Political Law practice who was general counsel to Hillary for America in 2016 and advises the DNC, DSCC, DCCC and the DGA, Marc E. Elias turns 50… Experimental jazz guitarist, bassist, oud player and composer, Yoshie Fruchter turns 37… Comedian, writer, actress and illustrator, best known for co-creating and co-starring in the Comedy Central series “Broad City,” Abbi Jacobson turns 35… Cincinnati native, now a senior director of business development and audience solutions for Politico, Andrew Friedmanturns 32… District Director for Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila James Kuehl, Stephanie Beth Cohen turns 30… Senior Writer at Smore, an Israeli firm focused on online marketing and newsletters, David Aryeh Leshawturns 28… Television and movie actress and model, Julia Garner turns 25… Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for AIPAC, Tara Brown… 25-year veteran of the Israeli foreign service including a three-year stint as DCOM at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, now a scholar-in-residence at American University in Washington, Dan Arbell… David Shaw

SATURDAY: Chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia, Barry Dillerturns 77… Former mayor and city councilman of Irvine, California, graduate of Harvard Law School, Larry Agran (family name, Agranowsky) turns 74… Author, host of the Food Network program “Barefoot Contessa,” and former OMB staffer for Presidents Ford and Carter, Ina Rosenberg Garten turns 71… Television, movie and theatre actor, comedian and singer, best known for his portrayal of the android, Lieutenant Commander Data, in the Star Trek television series and four subsequent films, Brent Spiner turns 70… Movie and theatre actress and screenwriter, known for the 2001 film “Kissing Jessica Stein,” Jennifer Westfeldt turns 49… Tony Award-winning actress with many stage, movie and television credits, a semi-finalist on Season 6 of Dancing With the Stars, Marissa Jaret Winokur turns 46… Senior web producer for Government Executive Media Group, Ross Gianfortune turns 38… Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, now living in Boston, television and radio host, political commentator, Internet personality and self-described liberal-progressive political activist, David Pakman turns 35… Managing partner and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, a DC based full-service messaging, marketing and public relations firm, Aaron Keyak turns 34… Actress and musician, she has appeared in various television series including “Mad Men,” “United States of Tara” and as Shoshanna Shapiro on the HBO original series “Girls,” Zosia Mamet turns 31… Washington correspondent for the Times of Israel, she was awarded a Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University, Rebecca Shimoni Stoil… Avi Katz

SUNDAY: Longest-serving Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1993-2001), one-time owner of “Roll Call,” now a senior adviser at the Carlyle Group, Arthur Levitt Jr. turns 88… President and founder of Rubenstein Associates, Howard J. Rubenstein turns 87… Former president and CEO of clothing manufacturer Warnaco Group (1986-2001), at one time the only woman CEO of a Fortune 500 industrial company, Linda J. Wachner turns 73… Chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the US for almost the full 8 years of the Obama administration, formerly president of the Lillian Vernon Corporation, Fred Hochberg turns 67… Partner at Shipman & Goodwin since January 2019, she led the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (2011-2019) and was a Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court (1992-2011), Joette Katz turns 66…

Singer-songwriter, best known for composing “From a Distance,” a big hit for Bette Midler and winner of the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991, Julie Gold turns 63… Professor of biology at MIT, mathematician and geneticist, he was co-chair of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Eric Lander turns 62… Former investment adviser at Morgan Stanley, Steven F. Schlafer turns 60… Founder of Fourth Factor Consulting, Joel Mowbray turns 43… Speechwriter and adviser to Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director at the International Monetary Fund, he was previously a staffer at the Obama White House and State Department, Josh Lipsky turns 33… Manager of the Synagogue Leadership Initiative at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Joshua Keyak turns 31… Associate at Finsbury PR, he was previously executive communications manager in the Office of the President of Yeshiva University, Noam Safier turns 25…

Jan
31

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Daily Kickoff: Omar, Tlaib carry on provoking pro-Israel crowd | But on foreign policy, the center holds | Israeli cancer cure claim draws skeptics

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TOP TALKER — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) discussed her views on Israel and BDS during an interview with Zainab Salbi: “When I see Israel institute a law that recognizes it as a Jewish state and does not recognize the other religions that are living in it, and we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle, because I know that if we see that in any other society we would criticize it, we would call it out.”

Omar went on to say that an “equal approach” is the only way America will succeed in achieving a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. “Most of the things that have always been aggravating to me is that we have had a policy that makes one superior to the other — and we mask it with the conversation that’s about justice and a two-state solution when you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other,” she said.

Salbi: Some of your supporters, not all, talk about your support of the BDS movement — Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions on Israel.

Omar: “I’ve not only supported and called for [a] boycott of Israel, but I’ve done that with Saudi Arabia. I’ve actually called for a boycott to Hajj in Saudi Arabia.” [JewishInsiderVideo]

Dr. Einat Wilf‏ tweeted in response to Rep. Omar: “This goes to the core refusal to recognize the Jews as a people. The insistence by many that Jewish is a religious adjective is designed to deny the Jewish people the universal right to self determination enjoyed by other peoples in their nation states.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY)“Those poor innocent ISIS fighters & Palestinian terrorists right? Give me a break! That’s a problem no matter your religion or gender Ilhan. Your anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate is strong and wrong and those terrorists have US blood on their hands as well.”

— Omar shot back at Zeldin, replying to a supporter: “Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies! It’s gonna be fun watching him lose his marbles.”

Top Democrat on foreign affairs shoots down pro-Palestinian trips — by Bryant Harris: “House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) told Al-Monitor this week that he would not approve Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s proposed West Bank delegation. “Instead of her talking about things, she’s new here, she ought to listen and learn and open her mind and then come to some conclusions,” Engel told Al-Monitor. “If you’re going to be close-minded and have your views, no one’s going to change her views. But I would hope that once you’re elected to Congress, you would at least care to see the other side of the coin.” [Al-Monitor]

 However, an aide to Engel told JI on Wednesday that Tlaib “doesn’t need the approval of the HFA committee” for a CODEL since she’s not a member of the panel.

Tlaib responded to Engel on Twitter“Yo Rep. Eliot Engel, how are we ever going to obtain peace? I hope you’ll come with me on the trip to listen and learn. My sity (grandmother) will welcome you with an embrace and love. Please feel free to call me if you have anything to say. I am your colleague now.”

Washington Institute’s Dennis Ross emails: “There is nothing wrong with a trip to the West Bank, provided it is to Israel as well. The conflict is not a morality play where one side is all right and the other is all wrong. Seeing and hearing from both sides is legitimate. Otherwise, the purpose is about promoting one side’s narrative. If the aim is scoring debating points, you go to one-side. If the aim is problem-solving and promoting understanding, you go to both.”

John Podhoretz writes… “The Left would be wise to worry about its anti-Semitic wing: The ‘very small problem’ [Mark] Mellman has in mind is a trio of newly elected Democrats: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar. They seem to have very few foreign policy views aside from a caricature of Israel as an occupying colonial force that sits up at night thinking of new ways to torment Palestinians. Such ideas haven’t arisen from nowhere. They are the full flowering of decades of leftist propaganda and fashionable campus blatherskite. From such repellent acorns mighty trees grow, as we have seen in Europe. Britain’s Labour party did little to head off the virulent Israel hatred in its ranks, and it is now headed by an out-and-out anti-Semite.” [NYPost]

— Aaron David Miller emails: “That mainstream Democrats in Congress feel the need to counter emerging progressive voices on Israel in Congress and country at large speaks volumes on the fracturing of the consensus on U.S.-Israeli ties. There now seems to be three views of Israel – aRepublican view; a mainstream Democratic and a progressive view. It’s not yet time to say kaddish for the U.S.-Israeli relationship – not by a long shot.”

Bret Stephens writes… “The Persistence of Anti-Semitism: Anti-Semites tend to have the opposite set of views, for reasons that may be repugnant but are perfectly rational. The fundamental truth about anti-Semitism isn’t that it’s necessarily crazy. It’s that it’s inevitably brutish. The conclusion to be drawn is that the enemies of the Jews, whether in Tehran or Virginia, will always be the enemies of liberalism — which is why the fight against anti-Semitism must also be a fight for liberalism.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL — Bipartisan coalition holds the center on foreign policy — by Josh Rogin: “Internationalist Democrats and Republicans are increasingly finding common cause, not only in promoting robust U.S. foreign policy positions but also in asserting the legislative branch’s role in national security decision-making and oversight… It’s easy to get a headline by… using an anti-Semitic trope to criticize Israel legislation, but real action on foreign policy in Congress is not found on the far left or the far right — it’s in the center.” [WashPost]

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted on Wednesday: “The 1st Amendment arguments made by ACLU and some Senate Democrats to oppose my Anti-BDS bill are baseless. The 1A applies to speech, not conduct. My Bill clearly applies only to commercial ‘activity’ by a business entity. And it does not apply to speech or personal views of individuals.”

— ACLU responded“With all due respect, Marco Rubio — it seems like you don’t understand your own bill, or the First Amendment. That’s troubling, but we’re here to help.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told JI: “I strongly oppose the BDS movement and I believe that states, like my home state of New York, should be able to pass legislation to combat it.”

Trump blasts U.S. intelligence officials, disputes assessments on Iran and other global threats — by John Wagner and Shane Harris: “President Trump lashed out at U.S. intelligence officials Wednesday, calling them ‘extremely passive and naive’ about the ‘dangers of Iran’ … during a congressional hearing… ‘They are testing rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge,’ Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘Their economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran.'”[WashPost] • Iran Faces Worst Economic Challenge in 40 Years, President Says [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE REGION — Vice President Mike Pence is expected to be the keynote speaker at the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, co-hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Polish government in Warsaw, Poland on February 13-14. “The Vice President will address the United States’ commitment to work with partners to help build a strong, secure, and economically viable Middle East,” the White House said in a statement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed his attendance at the summit on Tuesday.

REPORT — The Venezuelan opposition is expected to appoint an Ambassador to Israel, possibly even ‘in the next coming days,’ after PM Netanyahu recognized Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, Israel’s Kann News reported on Wednesday.

SANCTIONS REGIME — How Trump’s Venezuela Sanctions Could Undercut His Iran Policy — by Keith Johnson: “The new U.S. sanctions, which could take lots of Venezuelan oil off the market, will likely make it that much harder to put the screws to Iran with tougher restrictions on Tehran’s oil sales later this spring.” [ForeignPolicy

FOGGY BOTTOM — Never Trumpers’ Can Get State Department Jobs With Pompeo There — by Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs: “Recent months have seen Secretary of State Pompeo hire at least three previously vocal Trump critics for senior advisory roles… That list includes Elliott Abrams, who Pompeo picked last week as his special envoy to deal with the political crisis in Venezuela. Abrams’s opposition to Trump when he was running for president led the administration to block his candidacy as then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s deputy two years ago. But bygones are bygones… Abrams, like Trump, appears to have moved on. ‘I can tell you that I was over at the White House yesterday,’ Abrams said Wednesday. ‘We are all on what we call Team Venezuela, which is an effort to help the Venezuelans liberate their country from this regime.’” [Bloomberg]

DEEP DIVE — Inside the UAE’s secret hacking team of US mercenaries — by Christopher Bing and Joel Schectman: “Two weeks after leaving her position as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. National Security Agency in 2014, Lori Stroud was in the Middle East working as a hacker for an Arab monarchy. She had joined Project Raven, a clandestine team that included more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives recruited to help the United Arab Emirates engage in surveillance of other governments, militants and human rights activists critical of the monarchy… ‘I am working for a foreign intelligence agency who is targeting U.S. persons,’ she told Reuters. ‘I am officially the bad kind of spy.’” [Reuters]

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Benny Gantz made strong gains in the first opinion polls released after his inaugural campaign speech… Surveys gave his new party between 19 and 24 seats – up from around 12 to 15 in previous polls… Gantz is now on par with Netanyahu, viewed as equally suitable to serve as prime minister… President Trump’s Jerusalem move appeared in a new campaign video published by Likud on Thursday, touting Netanyahu as a leader in “another league” for getting it done… David Gardner: Benjamin Netanyahu and the looking-glass world of Israeli politics…

2020 WATCH — Beto O’Rourke weighs presidential campaign from an unusual position: front runner… Universal’s Jeff Shell to host a fundraiserfor Kamala Harris’s 2020 campaign… Harris and Cory Booker jostle for backing of black lawmakers… Michael Bloomberg wants to crush Trump with big data… Pete Buttigieg, the youngest 2020 candidate pushes a platform of ‘inter-generational justice.’

** 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: Elliott Looks Beyond Activism to Full-Blown Takeovers [WSJ] • Starwood Seeks Funding to Chase Tax Break Sternlicht Chided [Bloomberg] • Howard Schultz’s presidential bid brews trouble for Starbucks [WSJ] • David Rubenstein’s Declaration Capital, Donaldson Group and DRA buy Silver Spring apartments [Bizjournals] • Ari Emanuel Endeavors to Sell in Mandeville Canyon [Variety• Roman Abramovich’s Controversial Upper East Side Brownstone Construction Project [TownAndCountry] • Israel’s Largest Credit-Card Business Is Headed for a $1 Billion IPO [Bloomberg• Israeli cloud storage firm Pliops raises $30 million [Reuters

** A message from The Maimonides Scholars Program: Do you know a student interested in Jewish Thought, Zionism, and Philosophy? The Maimonides Scholars Program is a two-week summer institute for high school students hosted at Yale University. Our faculty members include Rabbi David Wolpe, novelist Dara Horn, historian Daniel Gordis, and former MK Einat Wilf. Students with all levels of familiarity with Jewish text study are encouraged to apply—the only prerequisite is a hunger to learn. Application deadline is February 3rd. [Visit The Maimonides Scholars Program]  **

Israeli scientists say cancer cure close; doctors here are skeptical — by Michael Perchick: “A Jerusalem Post report states that a group of Israeli scientists said it believes it is on the verge of finding a cure for cancer… Despite the report, doctors who spoke with ABC11 expressed skepticism about the claims.” [ABC11Forbes]

ON THE CIRCUIT — Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is charging a whopping $200,000 per speaking gig — by Kayla Tausche: “Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is currently quoting $200,000 and the use of a private jet for domestic speaking engagements, according to seven people with knowledge of the arrangement… Engagements outside the United States could cost considerably more.”[CNBC]

Disgraced former NY AG Eric Schneiderman now a meditation teacher — by Dareh Gregorian: “Former New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in disgrace after being accused of physically abusing four women, has an apparent new vocation — meditation teacher. A smiling Schneiderman was included in a group picture of graduates of a meditation teaching program on the Facebook page of The Path, a meditation center in New York City.” [NBCNews]

Malpass Is a Trump Finalist for World Bank President, Sources Say — by Jennifer Jacobs, Saleha Mohsin and Andrew Mayeda: “A Donald Trump loyalist, Treasury Undersecretary David Malpass, is a finalist to be the president’s choice for the next World Bank president… Trump is still interviewing candidates for the job, but several other people the White House has considered are now seen as unlikely to win Trump’s recommendation unless he changes course… A Treasury spokesman said that the U.S. search committee for the bank job is led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, his chief of staff Eli Miller and Ivanka Trump and that Malpass isn’t involved.” [Bloomberg] • Trump Met Heidi Cruz for World Bank Job But Passed on Her[Bloomberg]

PROFILE — How Trump Jr.’s Fixer Arthur Schwartz Wages War Against the Media — by Maxwell Tani: “In the nearly two years since he arrived in Washington with a new wave of Trump appointees, mid-level players, and hangers-on, Arthur Schwartz has gained a reputation as a fixer, behind-the-scenes operative, and social-media agitator with a particular specialty: shopping information on enemies and doing battle with reporters. That’s helped him forge close relationships with numerous Trumpworld officials and family members like Donald Trump Jr. The two are now so close they spent last year’s Super Bowl together. Schwartz has served as a gatekeeper for many journalists looking to get in touch with the president’s son, and has occasionally served as his bulldog when negative stories are written about him.”[DailyBeast]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Police Say ‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollett Attacked In Possible Hate Crime — by Colin Dwyer and Laurel Wamsley: “Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of the TV show Empire, reportedly was brutally attacked early Tuesday in what Chicago police are investigating as a possible hate crime. The 36-year-old actor took himself to the hospital directly after what police called a “possible racially-charged assault and battery”; authorities say he is in good condition… Smollett’s mother is African-American and his father is Jewish. In a 2016 interview, he calls his family ‘blu-ish — black and Jewish.'” [NPR]

SPORTS BLINK — Despite Decades Of Winning, Robert Kraft Knows Patriots ‘Might Never Be Here Again’: “It might seem like the Patriots are in the Super Bowl every year. But Robert Kraft’s message to his organization heading into this year’s game is simple – that won’t always be the case. ‘You might never be here again,’ the Patriots owner said in an interview with CBS This Morning when asked about his message to players heading into Sunday.”[CBSBoston]

DESSERT — Talenti’s New Flavors For 2019 Are All Unexpected Twists On Your Favorite Flavors — by Sami McCowan: “The new flavors were debuted yesterday as part of an entirely new line: Talenti Organic… First off, there’s Organic Ginger Matcha Gelato, which is made with green tea and ginger blended into an in organic cream, and complete with a mixture of Japanese Matcha. Then, Talenti is taking a spin on a beloved flavor with the Organic Oak-Aged Vanilla Gelato, comprised of organic, slow-cooked Madagascan vanilla gelato… ‘We know more consumers are looking for organic options — especially in the ice cream and gelato category,’ Talenti founder Josh Hochschuler explained in a statement.” [Bustle]

The Lincoln Eatery Opens in Miami With Cake Thai, Gaijin Izakaya, and Kosher Pastrami — by Laine Doss: “The people behind the New York-style deli concept Marble & Rye made a strong case for their pastrami, which they make from cuts of beef leaner than traditional deli meats. Served on pumpernickel with a half sour pickle slice and a smear of mustard, the sandwich was the perfect bite while reminiscing about Brooklyn’s Grabstein’s Delicatessen with a friend. The food is certified glatt kosher.”[MiamiNewTimes]

REMEMBERING — Morton Sobell, Last Defendant in Rosenberg Spy Case, Is Dead at 101 — by Michael T. Kaufman and Sam Roberts: “Morton Sobell, who was convicted in the Cold War spy trial that delivered Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to their deaths and divided the nation for decades, died on Dec. 26 in Manhattan… Serving 18 years in prison until 1969, Mr. Sobell asserted his innocence until 2008, when, in an interview with The New York Times, he startled his defenders by reversing himself and admitting that he had indeed been a Soviet spy… Most of the protagonists in the case, Mr. Sobell included, were Jews who became Communists during the Depression, when capitalism seemed to be lacking and the Soviets said they had outlawed anti-Semitism. They stayed committed to the cause when they spied, largely during World War II, when the Soviets were American allies against the Nazis.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Cardiologist and the co-inventor of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, Morton M. Mower, M.D. turns 86… Scion of a leading rabbinic family in pre-WW2 Poland, former Assistant US Solicitor General, now a private attorney with an active Supreme Court practice focused on religious liberty issues, Nathan Lewin turns 83… Classical music composer as well as acclaimed movie score composer, Philip Glass turns 82… Associate professor emeritus of Talmud and rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary, chairman of the Joint Bet Din of the Conservative Movement, Mayer Elya Rabinowitz turns 80… Corporate strategist, she is the chairperson of global management consultancy Bain & Company, Orit Gadiesh turns 68… Founder of social change organizations in Israel to promote peace, he was Chief Rabbi of Norway while also serving as a member of Knesset (1999-2009), Michael Melchior turns 65… Founder and CEO of MWWPR, a PR firm headquartered in East Rutherford, NJ, he is a top “bundler” for the Democratic party, Michael W. Kempner turns 61… Co-founder, chairman and CEO of Meridian Capital Group, a Manhattan-based commercial mortgage brokerage, Ralph Herzka turns 57… Fourth-generation real estate developer who builds upscale condominiums, typically in large east-coast US cities, he is a founding partner of Redbrick LMD, Louis Myerberg Dubin turns 56…

Classical cellist, born in Hadera, Israel, she moved to Toronto at 6 years old, her debut in Carnegie Hall was in 1982, Ofra Harnoy turns 54… Host of NPR’s news quiz “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!,” playwright, screenwriter, actor and marathon runner, Peter Sagal turns 54… Canadian-born businessman, best known for founding American Apparel, where he served as the CEO from 1989 until 2014, Dov Charney turns 50… Mayor of Efrat and chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council (the umbrella organization of mayors throughout Judea and Samaria), Oded Revivi turns 50… CEO of Atlas Obscura, an online magazine devoted to discovery and exploration, he was previously editor of online magazine Slate (2008-2014), David Plotz turns 49… Security technology executive at NYC-based DGA Security Systems, Daniel J. Oppenheim turns 43… Managing director of BerlinRosen’s New York office, Michael Rabinowitz-Gold turns 41… Vice President of insights and media strategy at Whistle Sports, Matthew Gottlieb turns 36… Film producer and founder of Annapurna Pictures, four of her movies have been nominated for Academy Awards as Best Picture, she is the daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, Megan Ellison turns 33… Singer, who won Israel’s Kokhav Nolad (A Star is Born) song contest in 2008, Israel Bar-On turns 30… Speechwriter at the US Department of the Interior since 2017, he was previously an advance press lead for then-Candidate Trump’s 2016 campaign, Eli Nachmany turns 23 (h/t Politico)… MassChallenge Israel Program Manager and director of CEO Affairs, she was formerly social secretary for Israeli Ambassadors Oren and Dermer (2013-2016), Clara Scheinmann… MBA candidate at Yale University’s School of Management, Grant Silow...

Kafe Knesset for October 31

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Netanyahu vs. Ha’aretz “fake news:” Ha’aretz is in the Prime Minister’s Office’s crosshairs, Kafe Knesset learned today, over a story about Netanyahu’s planned participation in the Jewish Federations…

Kafe Knesset for October 30

Monday, October 30, 2017

Hi-Tech Defense: The latest breaking story from Israel today is the destruction of a Hamas terror tunnel from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, into Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin…

Kafe Knesset for October 26

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, Daddy: Dozens of Likud ministers and MKs gathered in the cabinet room to celebrate Bibi’s 68th birthday. Perhaps because of the scandalous police investigations underway, no…

Kafe Knesset for October 25

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TKO on PM immunity: The Bayit Yehudi party put the kibosh on the controversial bill to give sitting prime ministers immunity from criminal investigations. After days of MKs…

Kafe Knesset for October 24

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pickles and politics: Both PM Netanyahu’s speech and President Rivlin’s speech at the Knesset winter session’s opening meeting yesterday made big waves. Netanyahu’s speech was based around a…

Kafe Knesset for October 23

Monday, October 23, 2017

Welcome back, Knesset: After a three-month summer recess, the Knesset has returned to regular work. As always, the afternoon plenum meeting will be full of pomp and circumstance,…