Daily Kickoff: Birthright Israel emulated for Africa | Bipartisan condemnation for Illinois GOP congressional candidate | Walmart coming to Israel?

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2018 WATCH — “Holocaust denier poised to claim GOP nomination in Illinois race for Congress” by Lynn Sweet and Frank Main: “Arthur Jones — an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite and white supremacist — is poised to become the Republican nominee for an Illinois congressional seat representing parts of Chicago and nearby suburbs… Jones’ website for his latest congressional run includes a section titled “The ‘Holocaust Racket’” where he calls the genocide carried out by the German Nazi regime and collaborators in other nations “the biggest blackest lie in history.” … In November, Jones will face either Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill… or Lipinski’s Democratic primary challenger, Marie Newman from LaGrange. Jones will almost certainly be defeated in November. That’s because the 3rd Congressional District is one of the most heavily Democratic in the state.”

“Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said in a statement to the Sun-Times, “The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District.”” [ChicagoSunTimes

— “The prospective candidate… is not a steadfast supporter of the Republican president. Ten months ago, in remarks filmed at a neo-Nazi retreat in Kentucky, he ranted about how Donald Trump had “surrounded himself with hordes of Jews including a Jew in his own family, that punk named Jared Kushner.”” [TheGuardian]

RJC National Chairman and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman tells us… “I would hope there is a write-in candidate so he doesn’t get the nomination. If he does, his candidacy will be rejected by the Republican Party at every level-local, state and federal. His depraved values are not Republican values.”

Abe Foxman, Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and former ADL National Director, emails us… “There’s nothing new about Arthur Jones’s racism, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. He has publicly advocated them for more than 40 years. And there’s nothing new about his efforts to infect our political institutions as he has been running for public office for the last 40 years. What is new is that this time he is closer to political legitimacy then ever before. What is new is that the Illinois political-Republican-institution did not do enough to make sure that he is not the only candidate in the primary. Now they need to publicly expose his racism and anti-Semitism and make sure that his racism does not stain the Illinois Republican Party.”

TOP TALKER — “Secret Alliance: Israel Carries Out Airstrikes in Egypt, With Cairo’s O.K.” by David D. Kirkpatrick: “American officials say Israel’s air campaign has played a decisive role in enabling the Egyptian armed forces to gain an upper hand against the militants. But the Israeli role is having some unexpected consequences for the region, including on Middle East peace negotiations, in part by convincing senior Israeli officials that Egypt is now dependent on them even to control its own territory…”

“Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland… said Israel was not acting “out of goodness to a neighbor.” “Israel does not want the bad stuff that is happening in the Egyptian Sinai to get into Israel,” he said… Some American supporters of Israel complain that, given Egypt’s reliance on the Israeli military, Egyptian officials, diplomats and state-controlled news media should stop publicly denouncing the Jewish state… “You speak with Sisi and he talks about security cooperation with Israel, and you speak with Israelis and they talk about security cooperation with Egypt, but then this duplicitous game continues,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel… “It is confusing to me.”

“Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has also pointedly reminded American diplomats of the Israeli military role in Sinai. In February 2016, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry convened a secret summit in Aqaba, Jordan, with Mr. Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan and Mr. Netanyahu… Mr. Kerry proposed a regional agreement in which Egypt and Jordan would guarantee Israel’s security as part of a deal for a Palestinian state. Mr. Netanyahu scoffed at the idea. Israeli’s military was already propping up Egypt’s military, he said… If Egypt was unable to control the ground within its own borders, Mr. Netanyahu argued, it was hardly in a position to guarantee security for Israel.”[NYTimes]

TALK OF THE NATION — Israel begins distributing deportation notices to Africans: “In letters delivered Sunday, Israel says the migrants have 60 days to accept the offer to leave the country for an unnamed African destination in exchange for $3,500 and a plane ticket. Those who don’t by Apr. 1 will be incarcerated indefinitely… The deportation plan has sparked outrage in Israel, where groups of pilots, doctors, writers, rabbis and Holocaust survivors have appealed to have it halted.” [AP

“Netanyahu Says George Soros Funding Campaign Against Israeli Plan to Deport Asylum Seekers” by Chaim Levinson: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday that Jewish billionaire George Soros is funding a campaign of protest against Israel’s plan to deport thousands of African asylum seekers… Netanyahu said “George Soros is also funding the protests. Obama deported two million infiltrators and they didn’t say anything.”” [Haaretz] • Soros Rejects Netanyahu’s ‘False Claim’ That He Is Funding Campaign Against Israel’s Plan to Deport Asylum Seekers [Haaretz]

FIRST LOOK — “The Creation of Birthright AFRICA: Taglit-Birthright offers trips to Israel for young American Jews. Now there is a program for people of the African diaspora” by Amos Barshad: “When Ashley Johnson, an artist from Chicago, heard about Taglit-Birthright—the program offering trips to Israel for young Americans of Jewish descent—she wondered why a similar program didn’t exist for people of the African diaspora. She Googled “birthright” and “Africa,” and was pleased to learn that one did—at least in theory. In 2005, Walla Elsheikh, a former Goldman Sachs associate whose father had been a Sudanese diplomat, heard a friend rave about a Taglit trip. She registered a Web site with the name Birthright Africa. She let the idea marinate, and nothing much happened, until she got a Facebook message from Johnson. The two began a correspondence and eventually decided to launch the program together…” [NewYorker

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — “Erekat slams US for pushing Palestinian ‘coup,’ tells Nikki Haley to ‘shut up’” by Khaled Abu Toameh: “Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat… insisted that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, together with Haley’s remarks, amounted to an attempt to stage a “coup” against the “Palestinian political system.” “Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realize that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem,” the top PLO official added… Nevertheless, Erekat insisted that the Palestinians were not looking for a fight with the US. “We don’t seek a confrontation or a fight with the US administration. On the contrary — they are the ones taking several steps…”” [ToI

FOGGY BOTTOM — “Amid chaos in Washington, Tillerson strikes tone different from Trump” by Kylie Atwood: “In some cases, the focus on events in D.C. enables [Rex] Tillerson to push forward with diplomatic efforts without getting a great deal of attention… In January Mr. Trump tweeted: “We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.” That tweet set off alarms… As those questions were being asked, Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury” came out… This distraction gave Tillerson time to come up with a plan. A few days later, because the president had been so distracted, they went to the White House with a plan to withhold a large chunk of U.S. funding to UNRWA, the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency. The all-consuming focus on the book had given Tillerson time to deliberate and press forward on a thoughtful foreign policy approach.” [CBSNews

Jason Greenblatt tweets: “Iran spends almost a billion dollars a year sponsoring terrorism in Lebanon, Israel and West Bank/Gaza. This blood money only increases violence and does nothing to help the Palestinian people. The corrupt regime in Tehran squanders the resources of the Iranian people on military adventures throughout the region instead of investing at home and promoting peace abroad.” [Twitter

IRAN DEAL — Iran says Trump’s hostility to nuclear deal scares investors: “Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters on Sunday that the uncertainty over the future of the agreement, which Trump has repeatedly threatened to scrap, is scaring off potential investors.” [AP

COMING SOON: “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate to Host Event Celebrating Israel’s 70th Anniversary” by Amir Tibon: “A Florida resort owned by President Trump, Mar-a-Lago, will host an event marking 70 years to the foundation of Israel… Speakers at the event will include U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The event, which will take place in late March, is organized by the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews.” [Haaretz

** 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: e-Builder, founded by Ron and Jon Antevy, sold for a cool half-billion [MiamiHerald• Is Walmart Coming to Israel? Netanyahu Says the Door Is Open [Bloomberg] • Clinic’s co-branded product with Josh Kushner’s Oscar Health has exceeded hopes [CrainsCleveland

SPOTLIGHT: “Haim Saban’s Company Pledges $1,000 Bonuses to Staff Due to Tax Cuts” by Paul Bond: “According to a letter to staffers at Saban Capital Group… Haim and his wife, Cheryl, were inspired by Disney’s decision to award bonuses to its employees… because of tax reform championed by President Donald Trump that reduces the rate paid by corporations to a maximum of 21 percent… The Sabans stipulate that the bonuses will amount to $1,000 after taxes… “We have been inspired by what Bob Iger has done for Disney employees. As the Hebrew saying goes “I shall learn from all my teachers” so we decided to follow suit.”” [HollywoodReporter]

“Sundheim Taps Ex-White House Economic Adviser for New Hedge Fund” by Katya Kazakina: “Daniel Sundheim, whose new hedge fund will invest in stock and private equity deals, hired a former deputy White House economic adviser to help run it. Jeremy Katz, who was a lieutenant to National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, joins Sundheim’s firm as president and chief operating officer.” [Bloomberg]

“Americans abroad hit by Trump’s new repatriation tax rules” by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson: “The problem is, the way the law is worded treats every American citizen and green card holder in the world [operating through a foreign corporation] the same as Google,” said Monte Silver, a US tax attorney living in Israel. “There’s going to be some sort of uproar” as more expats and their advisers learn about their exposure, he predicted, but “the problem is expats have no political clout.”” [FinancialTimes

TRANSITION — “Outgoing Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen to Join Brookings’s Hutchins Center” by Nick Timiraos: Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who [completed] her four-year term as leader of the central bank Saturday, will join the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution as a distinguished fellow in residence in economic studies.” [WSJ

— “Yellen Admits Disappointment Over Her Exit in Rare Interview” by Christopher Condon and Rich Miller: “I would have liked to serve an additional term and I did make that clear, so I will say I was disappointed not to be reappointed,” she said Friday on PBS NewsHour in a rare television interview.” [Bloomberg

PROFILE: “Bill Kristol Wanders the Wilderness of Trump World” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells: “When Trump offered only equivocations after the white-supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, last August, Kristol had assumed that the same Republican leaders who had spent months telling him in private that they could not stand Trump would finally break with the President. When they did not, Kristol and his wife, Susan Scheinberg, a classics scholar, were so infuriated that they sent a two-hundred-dollar donation to the campaign of the Democrat Ralph Northam, who was running for governor of Virginia against the Republican Ed Gillespie…  “What happened with Charlottesville?” he wondered, at lunch. “Wasn’t that supposed to be a big moment when all the businessmen were like, ‘You know, I can’t be on the board.’ And three months later, ‘Hey, great work on the tax bill!’ What happened there?” Kristol paused. “So, yeah, I’m a little freaked out.”” [NewYorker

HOLLYWOOD: “What’s Liev Schreiber doing in Israel?” by Amy Spiro: “Schreiber, best known for his films The Sum of All Fears, The Omen, Defiance, Spotlight, and the TV series Ray Donovan, posted an image of the Tel Aviv beach on Instagram last week. “Looking forward to warmer weather, good humus [sic], and lots of fizzy bobolah!” he wrote… According to Israel Hayom’s Eran Swissa, Schreiber, 50, has arrived in Israel in order to deliver a masterclass on acting at Tel Aviv University on Monday.” [JPost

SUPER BOWL LII — “99-Year-Old Eagles Fan With Rags-To-Riches History Celebrates Super Bowl Win” by Mischa Pearlman: “Ninety-nine-year-old Phil Basser, a Philadelphia native now better known as ‘Philadelphia Phil,’ turns 100 in March and saw his team win their first ever Super Bowl last night. He became known to Philadelphia fans after his 18-year-old grandson tweeted about him in response to the news that 99-year-old Vikings fan Millie was looking forward to the match-up between her team and the Eagles two Sundays ago… According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, he was born to a poor Jewish family in 1918.” [LadBible]

PIC OF THE DAY — Tale of two #MOT owners: Jeffrey Lurie and Robert Kraft react to the Philadelphia Eagles victory over the New England Patriots during last night’s Super Bowl. [Pic

TOP COMMERCIAL — Toyota Unites Religions: “One of the several commercials aired by Toyota during the 2018 Super Bowl showed that people who come from different religions can get along and be friends! The ad starts with a rabbi leaving a temple and picking up his friend, a priest, in his Toyota vehicle. They then pick up an imam and a Buddhist monk on their way to a football game. At the game, they all cheer on the same team with the help of a group of nuns, showing that we are all on the same team.” [JustJaredVideo]

SCENE YESTERDAY — NORPAC Long Island, led by Trudy and Stanley Stern, hosted a fundraiser for Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at the home of Alex and Ilyse Sternberg, and co-hosted by Iris and Shalom Maidenbaum. The event kicked off with a champagne toast marking the decision made late last week by the Department of Justice to drop all remaining charges against Senator Menendez, after his first trial on corruption charges resulted in a mistrial. “We made Shehecheyanu for a new post DOJ episode career,” Dr. Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, told Jewish Insider. “Our group has been supporting Senator Menendez all along and this vindicates our efforts for his campaign and Legal Defense Fund.” We’re told Menendez “reaffirmed the importance of bipartisan support for Israel and expressed concerns over the international BDS movement.” [PicPic]

REMEMBERING — Fox News anchor Eric Shawn paid tribute to Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, a prominent cardiologist from New York, who died at age 91. Rosenfeld hosted the Sunday Housecall program on Fox News for many years. “Dr. Rosenfeld was called America’s doctors because for years millions across the country relied on his medical advice, his insight, his experience,” Shawn noted on Sunday. [Video

BIRTHDAYS: Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, recently national campaign chair for Jewish Federations of North America, Linda A. Hurwitz… Director, screenwriter and producer of movies and television, Michael Mann turns 75… Actor, best known as the voice of Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin franchise, Jonathan Freeman turns 68… Movie, television and stage actress, Jennifer Jason Leigh (family name was Morozoff) turns 56… General in the IDF, he served as the Commander of the Israeli Navy (2011-2016), Ram Rothberg turns 54… Founding rabbi of The New Shul in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village (1999-2010), author or editor of ten books, now the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom of Napa Valley, Niles Elliot Goldstein turns 52… Director of the community development project at NYC’s Urban Justice Center and a Democratic candidate for the NYS Assembly, Harvey David Epstein turns 51… Associate Director of the Jerusalem-based Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, columnist for The Times of Israel, Pesach Wolicki turns 48…

President and COO of American Signature, the parent company of Value City Furniture, Jonathan Schottenstein turns 36… VP of Public Affairs at Teach For All in DC, after living in China for seven years (2006-2013), Sarabeth Berman turns 34… Olympic sprinter, born in Los Angeles and now an Israeli citizen, specializing in the 400 meter dash, declared by the Israeli Olympic Committee as 2014’s Sportsman of the Year, Donald Sanford turns 31… Features manager for amNY covering NYC’s eating and drinking scene, Nicole Levy turns 28 (h/t Playbook)… Israeli golfer on the LPGA Tour, resident of Caesarea, competed for Israel in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Laetitia Beck turns 26… Former senior advisor to Ambassador Ron Dermer (2013-2015) and spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Defense (2011-2013), now a political and communications consultant, Joshua Hantman… Ellen Braun

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Daily Kickoff: What Justice RBG, Obama and Bibi all agree on | Abbas’ gift to Netanyahu | IRS apologizes to Z Street | BDay: Barry Diller

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HEARD LAST NIGHT IN DC — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discussed her judicial career and the role of Judaism in her life in a conversation with the Forward’s Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner at Adas Israel synagogue. “Many people have asked me when are I’m going to step down,” Ginsburg, 84, said towards the end of the conversation (“Never” an audience member shouted out). Ginsburg noted that she is already “the longest sitting Jewish Justice, more than [Louis] Brandeis and [Felix] Frankfurter. So I’m just candid, and say: ‘As long as I can do the job full steam, I’ll be here.’”

RBG’S FAVORITE BAGEL? “A New York poppy seeds bagel.” Eisner: “Oh my Gosh. This is amazing. I did not know the answer to this, and this may be the only thing that Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg agree on. They all picked poppy seeds. Wow, I am amazed.” [CSPAN]

— “Asked by Eisner about life on the court for Jews, Ginsburg said she had to work to change a rule that attorneys who became certified to try cases before the Supreme Court were given certificates that described the date — the year — the person became certified as “the year of our Lord” — or Jesus Christ. Orthodox Jewish lawyers who longed to frame their certifications would not — until Ginsburg argued… She got the paperwork changed so there was more flexibility, she said.” [WashPost

“Ginsburg: Independent judiciary ‘our nation’s hallmark and pride’” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Asked… if she felt the pressure to respond at a moment when many democratic norms are being challenged, Ginsburg demurred. “The judiciary is a reactive branch of government. It doesn’t generate the controversies that come before it — it’s reactive to what’s out there,” she said.” [Politico

COMING SOON — “Abbas to address U.N. Security Council on Feb. 20 amid U.S. tensions” by Michelle Nichols: “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 20during the body’s monthly meeting on the Middle East… “This will be a good thing for members of the Security Council to listen to the president himself,” said Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, president of the council for February. “No council members rejected this proposal.” … Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon accused Abbas of “seeking to put an end to any possibility of negotiations with Israel” with his address to the 15-member Security Council.” [Reuters]

“Palestinians court Russia as new broker in peace process” by Khaled Abu Toameh and Stuart Winer: “Abbas is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea summer beach resort of Sochi on February 12.. Abbas will tell Putin that the Palestinians do not believe the Trump administration is capable of playing any “constructive” or “positive” role in efforts to achieve peace with Israel, said a PA official in Ramallah.”[ToI]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — “Abbas’ gift to Netanyahu” by Akiva Eldar: “The reactions of the Palestinian leadership to President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel should be accorded a prominent place in a Diplomacy 101 textbook under the heading “How NOT to Manage a Conflict.” … It has been almost nine years since Netanyahu’s landmark Bar-Ilan University speech — the last time he publicly offered to pay for an agreement with the Palestinians. To date, he has not dared put the two-state principle he described in 2009 to a domestic political test… Abbas extricated Netanyahu from the spot he hates most — between the American rock and the settlers’ hard place. He freed Netanyahu of the need to decide which is the lesser of two evils…” [Al-Monitor]

“Trump wants to attack North Korea? He should learn from Israel first” by David Ignatius: “Discussions with Israelis at a conference here reinforced the value of deterrence but also offered some basic lessons: If you’re going to try a quick hit, don’t talk about it; don’t strike unless you have very good intelligence about your targets; and don’t assume that your adversary won’t drag you into a long, bloody war. All three negatives complicate any plans to strike North Korea… There’s one final, essential point: Unlike any of the adversaries that Israel has attacked, North Korea has nuclear weapons.”[WashPost]

ANOTHER LESSON FOR TRUMP? — “A state founded as a haven for the displaced may deport 40,000 job-seeking Africans” by Zev Chafets: “Once you have sealed off the border, Israelis learned, you are still left with the illegal immigrants who are already on your side of it. This is an issue the U.S. will have to contend with if and when it builds its wall. Israel is dealing with it now… On April 1, [the Sudanese and Eritreans] will face three choices: They can return to their countries of origin. They can go to prison. Or they can accept resettlement in a third country… Israel’s planned operation… will provide a real-life example of a post-wall removal policy. The scale, sensitivities and complexities are completely different, of course, but Trump has proven to be a close student of all things Bibi. Presumably he will be watching.”[BloombergView]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Qatar’s deputy prime minister and defense minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah discussed the Gulf crisis with Susan Glasser on The Global Politico podcast: “It’s not about working with Iran; we have—as I told you, we are trying to have a normal relation with all of our neighbors. But, going back to the situation in Iran, we’ve always been encouraging. Even before the crisis we’ve been encouraging that’s the only way to solve our issue in the region; we are neighbors, so it’s the dialogue. The shortest solid way is to have dialogue. And we always encourage our friends and allies everywhere that this is the way we should do it, whether with Iran or with the others.” [Politico]

“Qatari Foreign Minister on U.S. Jewish Groups Visiting: ‘We’re Building Good Relations'” by Amir Tibon: “Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani… said his country does not discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnicity. “All of them are welcome and we are building good relations with them,” he added. Al-Thani spoke at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.” [HaaretzVideo]

“Trump DOJ enters into final settlement in IRS targeting scandal” by Brooke Singman: “The Justice Department announced Thursday that it entered into the final settlement… with a pro-Israel nonprofit called Z Street. The group claimed that the IRS applied “heightened scrutiny” to applications for their tax-exempt status connected “in any way to Israel.” … According to court documents, the IRS expressed its “sincere apology.”  Z Street… had applied for tax-exempt status in 2009.” [FoxNews]

— “The IRS Campaign Against Israel—and Us” by Lori Lowenthal Marcus: “When Z Street’s creation was announced, thousands sought to join. Then the IRS attempted to kill us. No lawsuit can remedy that assault, as the IRS knew. The settlement gives us the truth, but we can’t get back our seven years.” [WSJ

TALK OF THE NATION: “The Constitutional Right to Boycott” by Conor Friedersdorf: “This week, in Koontz v. Watson… the court granted a preliminary injunction preventing further enforcement of the Kansas [anti-BDS] law… Broadly speaking, the court’s decision in this case is likelier to be cheered by those on the left, where most of the energy behind boycotts of Israel emanate, and to be jeered by the Republicans and conservative Democrats who’ve lately pressed ahead with multiple efforts to legislate against economic boycotts of Israel.” [TheAtlantic]

DEEP DIVE — The Mooch Recalls His 10 Days in the Swamp — by William Cohan: “[Anthony] Scaramucci’s cell phone rang. It was the White House. He was invited to come to the Oval Office to meet with Trump, with a stop first to see Ivanka. Scaramucci was not sure what this was all about. “And I don’t care,” he said… The Mooch went to see Ivanka Trump in the White House, as requested. “So I go over that day,” he said. “I go see Ivanka. They clearly don’t want Priebus to know that I’m coming. I go through the door. There’s a study off the Oval Office. I’m sitting there with the president. Ivanka’s open with me. She says, ‘We have to re-structure.’” [VanityFair]

2018 WATCH — “Joe Arpaio has given at least 5 interviews to an anti-Semitic publication” by Dan Nowicki: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio has given several interviews to a publication that traffics in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories… But Arpaio declined to criticize it or other anti-Semitic content associated with the publication. “I’m not going to criticize the news media like you,” Arpaio told The Arizona Republic… Arpaio… said he doesn’t discriminate between news outlets and suggested there was no difference between the fringe “American Free Press” and other news organizations such as The Republic and Phoenix New Times.” [AZCentral

** 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: CBS, Viacom form committees to consider deal at the behest of Redstone family [LAbizNYT] • PE giants Blackstone, Apollo report upbeat earnings amid strong fundraising [FinancialTimes] • Elliott turns to snail mail in NXP mom-and-pop investor campaign [Reuters] • Israeli CEOs, tech entrepreneurs speak out against African deportations [JPost] • Abby Rosen posts on social media that his W Hotel in Jaffa will open in May, 2018[Instagram] • More skyscrapers pop up along Israeli skyline [AlMonitor]

“Why Bill Nye Agrees Israel Is The Global Center Of Medical Marijuana Research” by Stephen Gardner: “Ever since Israeli organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam first isolated the THC compound for scientific study more than 50 years ago, Israel has led the world in medical marijuana research. In 1996, Israel began its national medical marijuana (MMJ) program, the first one in the world. Ironically, Israel created its MMJ program the very same year as California, a U.S. state that dwarfs Israel in population and economy.” [IBTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “What went wrong at the Los Angeles Times?” by Dylan Byers: “The list of the accused is long: Lewis D’Vorkin, who was ousted as editor-in-chief this week as the staff was in open revolt against his leadership. (He will become chief content officer at Tronc, the Times’ parent company). Ross Levinsohn, the publisher and CEO, who was put on unpaid leave earlier this month amid revelations about a history of bad behavior (Levinsohn reportedly called the allegations against him “lies”; the company is investigating the claims). Above all: Michael Ferro, the chairman of Tronc, the Times’ parent company, under whose leadership Levinsohn and D’Vorkin were appointed to those positions and who convinced Tronc to pay another of his companies $15 million in consulting fees after laying off hundreds of employees across various papers last year.” [CNNmedia]

TALK OF THE NATION — “After 22 years, a synagogue study group finishes reading the Torah from beginning to end” by Julie Zauzmer: “It took the Israelites 40 years to walk through the desert to the promised land. It took the Torah study group at Congregation B’nai Tzedek more than half as long just to read about it. On Thursday, the members finally finished reading the Torah — a project they started 22 years ago… “We moved slowly,” Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt admitted… The end of the Torah isn’t the end of the group. Next, the class will read the book of Joshua, which continues the story where the Torah leaves off. After that, they might move on to other books of Prophets. Or they might take the advice of Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag, who famously said of the Torah: “Turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it.””[WashPost]

“Holocaust survivor, US lawmaker Lantos gets Budapest statue” by Pablo Gorondi: “A statue of Hungarian-born U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the U.S. Congress, was unveiled Thursday in Budapest… In a video during Thursday’s ceremony, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recalled being Lantos’ guest in Hungary and said he often cited a Lantos quote in his own speeches — “The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.”” [AP

“Caitlyn Jenner To Be Feted As ‘Champion of Israel’ And Its LGBTQ Rights Record” by Curtis Wong: “The U.S.-based World Values Network will honor Jenner with the Champion of Israel and LGBTQ Rights Award on March 8 in New York. The former Olympian and transgender icon will be presented the award by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala… On social media, some people cast the news of Jenner’s award as an example of pinkwashing by U.S. supporters of Israel… A representative for Jenner told HuffPost that the former Olympian would not be making a statement about the award until the gala.” [HuffPost

Alan Dershowitz tweets: “I once made mistake of being in a debate at Harvard with @RabbiShmuley on my side. He screamed and yelled like a child. Hurt the cause of Israel. I promised never again to be in debate with him. He only wants publicity not truth. Happy to debate any reasonable expert.”[Twitter]

REMEMBERING: “Haim Gouri, Poetic Voice of a Rising Israel, Is Dead at 94” by Isabel Kershner: “As a filmmaker, Mr. Gouri was best known for his work on a trilogy of documentaries, notably “The 81st Blow,” a film about the Holocaust that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1974. The two others, made in the 1980s, were “The Last Sea,” about Jewish immigration to Palestine, and “Flames in the Ashes,” about Jewish resistance during World War II.As a journalist he covered, in 1961, the trial of Adolf Eichmann… In more recent years, he became increasingly critical of the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and of what he saw as rising nationalism and religious extremism in some sectors of Israeli society.” [NYTimes

WINE OF THE WEEK — Chateau Pape Clement 2014 — by Yitz Applbaum: “Most of the time when I host wine focused dinners, 75% percent of the group will request full bodied, big-fruit, California wines. Around 25% of the attendees will request more earthy, aromatic French wines. I used to attempt to provide enough variety to satisfy both groups. But then I have come to realize that one doesn’t actually have to pour different wines to satisfy these disparate requests. Recently, I found a wine which satisfies both parties with a single pour — a wine with big fruit and distinct earthiness.”

“The Chateau Pape Clement 2014 is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40%  Merlot; some Petite Verdot, and a splash of Cabernet Franc for balance and intensity. This wine opens with some serious acidity. You will be able to drink this wine for at least 10 more years due to this acidity. The mid palate is full of dust, soil, grass and wet mushrooms. And then comes the fruity explosive finish with a slight hint of tangerine. Is this of a Californian palate, or is it French? I postulate that it is the best of both. Drink this wine with lamb, and you will understand the concept of a perfect marriage.” [Bernard-Magrez]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYChairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, Barry Diller turns 76… Former mayor and city councilman of Irvine, California, Larry Agran turns 73… Author, host of the Food Network program “Barefoot Contessa,” and former OMB staffer for Presidents Ford and Carter, Ina Rosenberg Garten turns 70… 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 69… Movie and theatre actress and screenwriter, known for the 2001 film “Kissing Jessica Stein,” Jennifer Westfeldt turns 48… 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 45… Engagement Editor for Government Executive Media Group, Ross Gianfortune turns 37… Internet personality and self-described progressive political activist, David Pakman turns 34… Managing director and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, Aaron Keyak turns 33… Actress Zosia Mamet turns 30… Rebecca Shimoni Stoil … Avi Katz

SATURDAYLongest-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 87… President and founder of Rubenstein Associates, Howard J. Rubenstein turns 86… Former president and CEO of clothing manufacturer Warnaco Group (1986-2001), Linda J. Wachner turns 72… Chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the US for almost the full 8 years of the Obama administration, Fred Hochbergturns 66… Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, formerly Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Joette Katz turns 65… 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 62… 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 61… Director of Business Strategy for Birmingham Wealth Management Group within Morgan Stanley, and on the boards of the Jewish Federations in both Detroit and Aspen, Steven F. Schlafer turns 59… Founder of Fourth Factor Consulting, Joel Mowbray turns 42… 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 32… Program Associate in the Synagogue Leadership Initiative at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Joshua Keyak turns 30… Executive communications manager in the Office of the President of Yeshiva University, Noam Safier turns 24…

SUNDAY: 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 89… 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 77… Attorney, bank executive and philanthropist, donor of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Adrienne Arsht turns 76… Patrick Leek turns 65… Attorney, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfsonturns 61… Senior content editor of the Koren/Steinsaltz English Talmud, Shalom Berger turns 58… Member of the State Senate of Maryland since 2013, Brian J. Feldman turns 57… 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 56… Philanthropist, charter school advocate and global head of real estate and a member of the board of directors of Blackstone Group, Jonathan D. “Jon” Gray turns 48… The first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcettiturns 47… Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the Israeli American Council, Abigail Cable turns 30… Barbara Stern… Jan Winnick… Dan Ben-Canaan

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Daily Kickoff — Lunch Edition: Trump may present peace plan without PA at the table | Bergman book party | BDays: Malcolm Hoenlein; Abbi Jacobson

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SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — Richard Plepler, the Chairman and CEO of HBO, hosted a book party celebrating the publication of Ronen Bergman’s new title, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations. Approximately 75 guests gathered at the Harold Pratt House on the Upper East Side to meet and hear from Bergman.

Bergman summarized his book in a nutshell: “The story of the book is a story of great technical successes and disastrous strategic political failures. And I think that nowadays when the U.S. has adopted many of the operational and intelligence lessons and skills that Israel developed through the last 70 years, when employing the tactics of focused targeted killings way beyond enemy lines, it is important to also understand the price that Israel has paid, and is still paying, for using these methods and having such power.”

“I think Israeli leaders have drawn the wrong conclusion from the success of the Israeli intelligence services who are arguably the best. Sooner or later, they provide Israeli leaders with solutions to every challenge but Israeli leaders drew the wrong conclusion. They thought that having this powerful tool at the tip of their finger they could order to bomb a facility, to kill someone, and in that way stop history, hold it by the tail, and that by using that tool they don’t need to turn to statesmanship, to turn to political discourse.”

Bergman, who published an excerpt of the book in last Sunday’s NYTimes Magazine, joked that NYT fact-checkers are tougher than Israeli security interviewers: “There are no other people like the New York Times. And every time I have to go through this forced labor, ongoing stress with the fact checkers, I swear I would never do this again (laughter)… You know, I got a call — one of the main interviewers for the story just published in the magazine was a former senior IDF official. After having a conversation with the fact checking team, he called me and said, ‘Listen, I have been through the most harsh and strict questioning by the Shin Bet, by the Mossad — for security clearances — and I’ve never experienced something like that.’”

Bergman thanked Plepler for hosting the event and noted the HBO Chief’s generosity even though “I don’t have any business with HBO,” to which Plepler quipped, “No, no, no, you do now.” Bergman recounted a dinner a few years back when he was going through some difficulties and Plepler gave him some advice. “Richard gave me a speech about life, about relationships, and told me a few words in Yiddish (laughter)… Just imagine the CEO of HBO from New York is teaching someone from Tel Aviv, who was born to Holocaust survivors, a Polish guy, words in Yiddish. And one of these words — ‘bashert’ – really helped me overcome the obstacle of that time. So Richard, thank you for being such a mensch.”

SPOTTED: ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, NYTimes Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Tablet Mag’s founder and editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse, CFR’s Richard Haass, Random House’s Andy Ward, NYTimes Book Review’s Pamela Paul, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, Jamie Black, Ashley Moskowitz. [Pic]

ON MORNING JOE TODAY — Bergman said that Israeli officials were warned about sharing sensitive intelligence information even before Trump was inaugurated: “In January, senior U.S. officials shocked their Israeli counterparts – meeting here in the U.S. – when they said at the end of a regular meeting, ‘We advise you, until it becomes clear that the Russian do not have any leverage on President-elect Trump, or his team, to be very careful not to share sensitive information with the White House and the National Security Council because we are afraid that this information might be leaked to Russia, and from Russia it’s a very short path to Iran.’”[MSNBC]

TRANSITION: “Top career US diplomat to step down in blow to State Dept” by Matt Lee: “The State Department’s third-ranking official, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, informed agency staffers that he will retire as soon as a successor for his Senate-confirmed post is chosen and ready to assume the job. Shannon is a near 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and was the most senior department official to remain in his job after the transition from the Obama to the Trump administrations…  Shannon’s departure is sure to be seized on by critics of the administration who accuse Trump and Tillerson of gutting the foreign service, particularly its senior ranks.” [AP]

“When Donald Rumsfeld Asks You to ‘Solve Pakistan” by Uri Friedman: “I asked [Douglas] Feith whether he ever solved the Pakistan problem. “No, of course not,” he responded. Then he got philosophical: “Technology advances. You can say polio got solved. But if you’re talking about a problem with a country—even if you talk about something like Nazism: Nazism to a large extent got solved by the defeat of the Axis in World War II. But as we see, fascistic Nazi-style thinking can make a comeback. And while it may get solved in one country, it could pop up in another. It could even pop up in the same one under different circumstances.” “Problems that relate to human nature never actually get solved,” Feith argued. “They simply change form.””[TheAtlantic]

DRIVING THE DAY — Polish senate passes Holocaust bill despite Israeli protests: “The upper house of parliament voted 57-23, with two abstentions, to approve the bill, which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish or accuses Poland of complicity in the Third Reich’s crimes… To take effect, the legislation still needs to be signed by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who on Monday had said he was “flabbergasted” by Israel’s “violent and very unfavourable reaction.”” [France24

State Department warns Holocaust bill could hurt relations with Poland — by Justyna Pawlak and Mohammad Zargham: “The legislation “could undermine free speech and academic discourse…” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “We are also concerned about the repercussions this draft legislation, if enacted, could have on Poland’s strategic interests and relationships,” Nauert said.” [Reuters]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM : “Israel ‘Adamantly Opposes’ Polish Parliament’s Approval of Controversial Holocaust Bill” by Noa Landau: “Israel views with utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said… An Israeli official expressed “deep disappointment given the fact that the relationship between the two countries is important to both sides.” He added that “the law’s passage goes against the spirit of the conversation between the two prime ministers [last] Sunday.” Earlier, Likud Minister Yisrael Katz demanded Netanyahu recall Israel’s ambassador to Poland over the bill. Minister Yoav Gallant said the bill amounts to Holocaust denial, with lawmaker and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni describing it as “spitting in Israel’s face.”[Haaretz]

Barak Ravid: “After Poland’s Senate approves Holocaust law Israel postpones visit to Jerusalem by Polish national security adviser planned for next week.” [Twitter]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Greenblatt to EU envoys: Settlements are not the obstacle” by Herb Keinon: “According to a participant in the meeting, Greenblatt said it is necessary to look at what construction has actually taken place, rather than at various announcements made about settlement construction in the media. Greenblatt, according to one of the participants, said there is not that much actual building taking place; that where it is taking place is contiguous to existing settlements; and that Israel has taken a sensible approach on the matter.” [JPost]

REPORT — “Trump may present peace plan even if Palestinians won’t negotiate” by Barak Ravid: “The White House is considering presenting President Trump’s Middle East peace plan even if the crisis with the Palestinian Authority continues and Palestinian President Abbas refuses to come to the negotiating table, senior U.S. officials tell me… U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt held a series of meetings with Netanyahu, his advisers and several ministers over the last two weeks… On Wednesday, Greenblatt participated in an emergency meeting of the donor countries to the Palestinian Authority… The Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also participated in the meeting. It was the first time senior Palestinian and U.S. officials were around the same table since the Jerusalem announcement. Greenblatt and Hamdallah shook hands but didn’t hold a meeting.” [Axios]

“UN roundly condemned for blacklist of companies doing business in Israeli settlements” by Ben Evansky: “In a statement from United States Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley said the report is “the latest anti-Israel actions taken by the Human Rights Council.” … Speaking later on at the U.N. General Assembly Holocaust Remembrance event, [Ambassador Danny Danon] said the blacklist goes back to centuries-old, anti-Semitic boycotts… Earlier Wednesday the U.N.’s Human Rights’ office issued the report which it said detailed a database of business enterprises “engaged in certain, specific activities in the occupied Palestinian territory that are explicitly linked to Israeli settlements.”” [FoxNews

“German FM says Trump support not necessarily good for Israel” by Aron Heller: “As a friend of Israel, and as a foreign minister of a country with a special commitment to your country’s security, I am sincerely concerned about Israel’s mid- to long-term options,” [Sigmar Gabriel] said in an address to the Institute for National Security Studies’ annual conference… “The Americans are taking your side more clearly than ever before, but is this really only a good thing? When I think of the likely consequences I think this is more ambivalent,” Gabriel said. He said the U.S. had long acted as an “arbiter” in the region despite its close ties to Israel… But he asked: “Can the Americans still play such a role if they take sides so openly?” [AP

Netanyahu interrupts German FM to downplay two-state support: “In statements after the meeting, Netanyahu interrupted Gabriel as he talked about a two-state solution to the conflict. Gabriel said he was “very thankful to hear that, of course, also the government of Israel wants to have two states” with secure Israeli borders. But Netanyahu interjected to reiterate his position… “No, that we will control security west of the Jordan (river)… that is, I think, the first condition,” Netanyahu said. “Whether or not it’s defined as a state when we have the military control is another matter, but I’d rather not discuss labels, but substance,” he added.” [ToI

Gabriel meets with Israeli opposition leaders to discuss new diplomatic plan — by Mazal Mualem: “In a breakfast meeting at the Jerusalem King David Hotel between German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Zionist Camp leader Avi Gabbay and head of the opposition Isaac Herzog on Jan. 31, Gabriel expressed great interest in the new diplomatic plan being formulated in the Labor Party…” [Al-Monitor

WAR ON TERROR — “U.S. State Department designates Hamas leader as terrorist” by Mohammad Zargham: “The State Department said in a statement that [Ismail] Haniyeh, along with two Islamist groups active in Egypt and one in the Palestinian territories, were listed as specially designated global terrorists. It quoted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as saying the designations “target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran – who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel.”” [Reuters

U.S. Shows Beginning of a Response to Muslim Brotherhood” by Eli Lake: “Jonathan Schanzer, the senior vice president for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told me this week, “There was a reluctance in the last three years of the Obama administration to designate Hamas guys.” Part of this is because of Israel. After the 2014 rocket war with Hamas in Gaza, Israel reached an understanding with two principal supporters of Hamas — Qatar and Turkey — to allow more approved goods into Gaza… Schanzer told me that at the time, he had heard from his contacts at the Treasury Department that they did not want additional sanctions to undermine those nations’ understanding with Israel…” [BloombergView

David Makovsky and Lia Weiner write… “Hamas Failures in Gaza Are Changing Israel’s Stance: During a recent trip to the Middle East, the authors were struck by the number of Israeli security officials and even right-wing politicians who have joined international groups operating on an unexpected principle: that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip cannot be ignored anymore… Whether the PA retakes control in Gaza is uncertain for now. Yet the imperative seems clear for international groups like the AHLC: to support the rebuilding of infrastructure in the Strip. In the end, such economic moves may be the only way of fostering favorable political consequences.”[WashInstitute

HAPPENING TODAY — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg will discuss the intersection of law, media and Jewish life with Forward editor-in-chief Jane Eisner at Adas Israel in Washington, DC. Watch live at 7 PM ET here [Livestream]

DRIVING THE CONVO — ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt discussed the growing rift between Israel and U.S. Jewry during a panel yesterday at the INSS annual conference in Tel Aviv: “We have “Taglit,” Israel studies programs opening around the U.S., companies like Waze and WeWork and Gett, Gal Gadot and Fauda – but if we thought all that familiarity would engender good relations, we were wrong…. Dynamics in Israel have contributed to the strained relations; for US Jews, it’s deeply disconcerting to see the lack of momentum on the peace process, and they’re confused and upset about the conversion bill and the Kotel decision. I think it could get worse. Take a look at the situation with African refugees: if you start deporting them, American Jews will make parallels to “Dreamers” in the U.S.”

— Former U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “Throughout 2015, a very difficult year for the relationship, many in the US felt they were put in that position — to “choose.” We face a somewhat different situation with the current administration… We’re in an unprecedented period of polarization, so it should be possible to cultivate a positive relationship with the current administration while also ensuring the U.S. President’s opponents in the US are not dismissed because this administration will be out one day and those opponents will have their turn.” [INSS

** 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: Alibaba’s Jack Ma plans May visit to Israel [Calcalist] • Maryland Lawmaker files ‘Jared Kushner Act’ to limit tenant arrests [ABCNews] • Seth Klarman Gives $5 Million to Spelman College[Bloomberg] • Chicago Cubs Co-Owner Todd Ricketts Named New RNC Finance Chairman [NPR] • Canadian billionaire Daryl Katz’s company is the new owner of LifeZette, the site co-founded by Fox News host Laura Ingraham [CNNMoney] • “This Is Serious” — Facebook Begins Its Downward Spiral [VanityFair] • Is Lionsgate’s Chief Finally Ready to Sell? [HollywoodReporter]

SPOTLIGHT: “European Jewish Congress head on US Treasury’s ‘Putin list’” by Tamara Zieve: “European Jewish Congress president Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor was among 96 businesspeople and 114 senior political figures alleged to have close ties to the Kremlin… The names were placed on what has been dubbed the “Putin list” or “oligarchs list,” as part of a US sanctions package signed into law in August. It does not mean those included will be subject to sanctions… Forbes estimated Kantor’s net worth at US $3.8b., making him the 34th-richest person in Russia… The US list also includes Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and Eugene Kaspersky, the co-founder and CEO of IT security company Kaspersky Labs.” [JPost]

HOLLYWOOD: “Something’s coming: Spielberg and Kushner to take on ‘West Side Story’ remake” by Jordan Hoffman: “The initial casting call is looking specifically for Latino and Latina actors to play parts that were, in the 1961 film, played by white actors. Natalie Wood as “Maria” is nothing short of ridiculous when you look back at it now. (Though nothing is quite as cringeworthy as Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in another New York classic from that same year.) Spielberg’s primary collaborator on this project is Tony Kushner, the much celebrated Jewish-American author of “Angels in America,” arguably the most important theatrical work of the 1990s…” [ToI]

DESSERT: “Textile Magnate Weaves a Kosher Bakery and Cafe Into Boyle Heights” by Mona Holmes: “An industrial part of Boyle Heights is set to get a new bakery and cafe in early March. Asher Caffe comes from Asher Shalom, owner of Asher Fabric Concepts, a fabric and textile distributor located across the street from their showroom. A passion project for Asher, the eatery will be completely kosher. According to project manager Sergio L. Yang, the food will have a heavy European influence.” [LAEater

BIRTHDAYS: Actor Stuart Whitman turns 90… Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm I. Hoenlein turns 74… Partner in LA-based law firm, Fredman Liebermann Pearl, and past president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Howard S. Fredman turns 74… Midtown Manhattan physician, affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital, specializing in Nephrology and Internal Medicine, Mark H. Gardenswartz, MD turns 68… Composer and conductor, music director of the Chappaqua Orchestra since 2002, author in 1994 of “The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time,” Michael Jeffrey Shapiro turns 67… Far Rockaway, NY resident, Maurice Lazar turns 67… Lakewood, NJ-born, president and part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Stan Kasten turns 66… Artist whose oil on canvas paintings have many Jewish themes, Israel Tsvaygenbaum turns 57…

25-year veteran of the Israeli foreign service, now a scholar-in-residence at American University in Washington, Dan Arbell… Deputy director for policy and government affairs at AIPAC, David Gillette turns 57… Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Becky Sobelman-Stern turns 56… One of Israel’s top soccer players of all time, successful on both Israeli and European teams, now manager of Beitar Jerusalem, Eli Ohana turns 54… Actor Pauly Shore turns 50… Chair of Perkins Coie’s Political Law practice who was general counsel to Hillary for America and advises the DNC, DSCC, DCCC and the DGA, Marc E. Elias turns 49… Experimental jazz guitarist Yoshie Fruchter turns 36… Comedienne, writer, actress and illustrator, Abbi Jacobson turns 34… Cincinnati native, now a senior director of business development for Politico Pro, Andrew Friedman turns 31… District Director for Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila James Kuehl, Stephanie Beth Cohen turns 29… David Aryeh Leshaw turns 27… Television and movie actress, Julia Garner turns 24… Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for AIPAC, Tara Brown… David Shaw

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