Daily Kickoff: One-State Solution Finds Support Among Palestinians and Trump’s Right-wing Jewish Backers | Mark Zuckerberg is no longer an atheist


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End Of Year Note What We’re All About: We’re not advocacy news. We’re not here to confirm your biases or challenge your beliefs. We are here, however, to introduce you to new ideas, information and individuals. Most importantly, we are here to serve as a daily platform for our siloed community to convene and share a common conversation about the issues. We hope you will consider supporting us in this worthy and necessary mission. Your tax deductible donation, through our parent organization Tribe Media, will go 100% towards supporting the Jewish Insider team and our goals for expanded coverage in the critically important 2017. Happy Hanukkah and New Year to you and yours! [PayPal]

TOP TALKER — “In ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ Israel, Separate Lives and Divergent Narratives” by Peter Baker: “To borrow an analogy, there is a blue, or more liberal-leaning, Israel that thought Mr. Kerry offered painful but necessary truths in the spirit of friendship that indicted the failed leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And there is a red, or more conservative, Israel that thought the secretary of state was delusional and insulting, divorced from the harsh reality of the only real democracy in the Middle East struggling to preserve itself in a hostile neighborhood. Just as in the United States, many Israelis cling to their own facts, retreat to their own media outlets, advance their own narratives, and basically just talk with people who think like they do.” [NYTimes

“U.S. Will Veto Any Attempt to Put Kerry’s Speech to Vote at UN, Key Obama Aide Tells Haaretz” by Barak Ravid: “If there was more continuity with a [Hillary] Clinton administration, I am not sure how it would have affected our calculus… But the combination of the complete lack of any peace process… and the directional shift of the incoming administration all factored into our decision both to lay everything out in this speech but also to abstain on the UN resolution.” Rhodes added that… it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that Trump will… throw Kerry’s speech into the garbage, he said. “On January 21, the settlements will still be there and it will still be a source of grave international tension,” said Rhodes. “There will still be an international consensus that supports what John Kerry has put out. So the issue is not going away just because there is a new president… After January 20, Barack Obama will no longer be available as some foil. It will be evident that the international concern about settlements has nothing to do with Barack Obama but with the settlements. There will not be this constant stirring of the pot about Obama that was used [by Netanyahu] as a distraction from the settlements issue.” [Haaretz] • Critics Say Kerry’s Israel Speech Could Backfire on Obama Administration [WSJ

Israeli Ambassador Dermer on Trump’s Friedman pick (amidst talk that the Friedman nomination may have played a role in Obama’s UN vote): “I don’t set the policies of the government of Israel, and Mr. Friedman will not set the policies of the government of the United States. That will be set by the president and prime minister.” [Politico] Friedman was photographed with Marion Wiesel and Shmuley Boteach last night [Pic]

MUST READ: “How Trump Made Israel A Zero-Sum Game” by Ben Smith: “Trump is a zero-sum figure… When Obama took a step away from Israel… Trump responded with the first real foreign policy move of his pre-presidency, a decisive embrace of one side of the Middle East conflict. After all, his campaign was about choosing sides… A “one state solution” has been gathering momentum for years among Palestinian advocates, who propose replacing Zionism with a federal, binational state… Ballabon’s and Friedman’s position, which seems to be Trump’s, is a different kind of one state solution. The state is Israel. In a United States where partisanship seems to shape policy views… it’s easy to see where this heads. There are two warring tribes. Each party supports one. Israel becomes a Republican cause, while Democrats align with the Palestinians. U.S. elections could carry even larger stakes for both sides than they have before.” [BuzzFeed

“With the two-state solution a distant dream, Palestinians ask if it’s time to push for a one-state solution” by Joshua Mitnick: “These days, as Palestinians see prospects for the so-called two-state solution disintegrating, a growing number are mulling over a provocative alternative: a single binational state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. The notion is the equivalent of a demographic Trojan horse, forcing Israel either to give Arab residents full voting rights — and jeopardize the Jewish identity upon which Israel was created in 1948 — or risk becoming an apartheid state under permanent sanction by the rest of the world.” [LATimes]

ACROSS THE POND: “Theresa May rebukes US for attack on Israel” by Peter Dominiczak: “Mrs May does “not believe that it is appropriate” for Mr Kerry to attack the make-up of the democratically elected Israeli government, the spokesman said. “We do not… believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex,” Mrs May’s spokesman said. “And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally… The spokesman added… “We continue to believe that the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal.”” [Telegraph; JewishNews] • Australian PM condemns ‘one-sided’ UN settlement resolution [ToI]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “American Jews Divide Over Strain in U.S.-Israel Relations” by Adam Nagourney and Sharon Otterman: “At Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, a large and politically divided congregation, Rabbi David Wolpe said Mr. Obama had “pulled the rug out from under people who said the president’s intentions toward Israel was positive and strong.” … David Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, said that Orthodox Jews tend to be much more conservative, and that there is a general sense among them “that the outgoing administration is outgoing and should be outgoing, and it’s time for an approach that is more openly supportive of Israel.” [NYTimes

“‘We don’t need this America,’ deputy minister Michael Oren says after UN vote, Kerry speech” by Raphael Ahren: “Kerry’s speech was very disturbing for so many reasons,” Oren told The Times of Israel. “It is disturbing that this is the point to which US foreign policy has fallen. It’s sad, tragic and dangerous. We don’t need this relationship. We don’t need this America.” [ToI

“Dan Shapiro: US decision not to veto resolution was not revenge: “We understand why it hurts Israelis to hear such harsh things. The timing [of the vote] came from other countries, and was not revenge,” says Shapiro in Hebrew.” [ToI

“Kerry’s bombshell Israel speech is one of the most puzzling things I have seen in politics” by Matthew Yglesias: “It’s a rhetorical hand grenade, but a policymaking dud. And while I have some thoughts about the substance of the speech, I’m mostly left wondering … why? Why at a time when the country urgently needs effective political opposition to an alarming new regime that is entering office with vast power but little democratic legitimacy did the Obama administration choose to lash out ineffectually in a way that unites his successor’s coalition while dividing his own party? What does Obama hope this will accomplish? And why pick a fight he’s sure to lose?” [Vox]

The real reason for Netanyahu’s showdown with Obama” by Yochi Dreazen: “Bibi is not concerned at all with anyone from the center left,” Gilead Sher, a former Israeli peace negotiator and chief of staff for Prime Minister Ehud Barak, tells me in an interview…“He’s concerned about far-right politicians inside and outside his own party that are totally against any division of the land or agreement with the Palestinians. Those are the only people that he thinks could push him out of office.” [Vox

Incoming WH Press Secretary, Sean Spicer on rumors about a possible Trump trip to Israel: “I don’t want to get ahead of anything at this point, but I will tell you that the relationship with Israel both in terms of what the President-Elect has said, and what you saw Prime Minister Netanyahu say yesterday in terms of very looking forward to working with this next administration, really should highlight to anybody who is concerned about Israel or who loves Israel, that this administration is going to put Israel in its rightful place as a true, true friend of the United States, and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East.” [HughHewitt

“Donald Trump and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Bond During Transition” by Benjy Sarlin: “I think there’s a lot of excitement about this right now, but in general, presidents prioritize domestic issues and it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump and Netanyahu are not making headlines every week once he’s sworn in,” Heather Hurlburt, a former State Department official under President Clinton, told NBC News.” [NBCNews

“What did Kerry’s parting shot on Middle East mean?” by Aaron David Miller: This may well be the first time that the United States, at least in such a highly visible public forum rather than in the negotiating room, talked about Jerusalem as the capital of two states… That suggests that if in fact the Trump administration does carry out a campaign pledge to move the US Embassy there, the contents of this speech may well acquire legs.” [CNN

POLLS — What Americans think: “48% of Likely U.S. Voters feel U.S. relations with Israel have gotten worse since Obama took office… Among voters who consider America’s relationship with Israel ‘Very Important’ to U.S. national security, 65% believe that relationship has gotten worse under Obama… Among all voters, 42% believe America’s relations with Israel will get better under the new president, while 32% expect them to get worse… 55% of Democrats think Trump will make the U.S.-Israeli relationship worse.” [Rasmussen

What Israelis think: What caused the United States to not use their veto in the UNSC? 38% Hostility towards Israel, 31% American interest, 18% Don’t know, 13% Israeli interest.” [KnessetJeremy

“How Bibi Duped Kerry and Obama: A Theory For Egypt’s Role in UN Resolution” by Michael Eisenberg: “So here comes the theory: “settlements” was all [Kerry] could talk about in his speech because he needed to say that peace between Israel and its other Arab regional mates was dependent on progress with the Palestinians because that is exactly the opposite of what Bibi and the gulf states were trying to do… When Bibi responded to Kerry saying he had incontrovertible evidence that Kerry collaborated with Palestinians on the resolution, he had more than the calendar appointment with Palestinian leaders. He had the people in the room. He was letting Kerry know that he was set up and may have more information on him.” [Medium]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: After months of behind the scenes deliberations, the police sword appears to be getting closer to PM Netanyahu. In the upcoming week, Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit is expected to authorize opening an official investigation into two affairs which involve the premier. According to Channel 2, the alleged suspicion is that Netanyahu received large amounts of funds from two businessmen, one Israeli and one from overseas. So far, the probe has been handled under a unique veil of secrecy: over 50 people have been questioned, yet no details have been leaked to the press, in sharp contrast to the two years of endless leaks former PM Olmert endured before his indictment.

Netanyahu himself published a statement this morning repeating what has become his catch phrase on the various scandals attached to him: “there will be nothing because this is nothing,” insisting the allegations are baseless. His words were echoed by many of his party ministers who accused the media and the left of illegitimate attempts to topple the PM. Culture Minister Miri Regev, currently one of the closest to Bibi, said “the only interest that guides the PM is the national interest and Israel’s security. I back the Prime Minister and am confident he will be leading the country for many more years.”

Meanwhile, while police are about to investigate Netanyahu’s connections to private donors, he is promoting – with his fan Miri Regev – a new proposal that will enable him to raise private funds to sponsor the 70 year independence celebrations, slated to take place in May 2017. Citing budget restraints, Netanyahu decided to outsource the funding of the events, and suggested he would lead the efforts as the main presenter of the fundraising – focusing mainly on the Jewish diaspora. The plan – slated to be approved by the cabinet this Sunday – has raised eyebrows inside the coalition and out of it, since traditionally, these anniversaries have been funded by the state budget. Opposition MK Yoel Hasson sent a letter to Mandelblit yesterday, demanding he put a halt on the “scandalous and unprecedented” initiative. “Looking beyond the principle question if it is appropriate for a strong state like Israel to beg for donations for its independence celebration, this proposal raises serious concerns over conflicts of interest,” Hasson wrote, referring to Netanyahu’s alleged connections to various private businessmen as alleged in recent affairs. [KafeKnesset]

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SPOTLIGHT: “Mark Zuckerberg says he’s no longer an atheist, believes ‘religion is very important’” by Julie Zauzmer: ““Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me,” he wrote, naming his wife, daughter and dog. Then a commenter asked him: Aren’t you an atheist? Zuckerberg identified himself as an atheist for years, but on Facebook on Christmas he wrote back: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.” He didn’t answer further questions about what he does believe in.” [WashPost]

TALK OF THE NATION — Emma Green talks to Michael Wear, a former Obama White House staffer, about the Democratic Party’s illiteracy on and hostility toward faith: “Liberals have been trying to convince Americans, and evangelicals in particular, that America is not a Christian nation. The 2016 election was evangelicals saying, “Yeah, you’re right! We can’t expect to have someone who is Christian like us. We can’t expect to have someone with a perfect family life. What we can expect is someone who can look out for us, just like every other group in this country is looking for a candidate who will look out for them.”

“There’s a religious illiteracy problem in the Democratic Party. It’s tied to the demographics of the country: More 20- and 30-year-olds are taking positions of power in the Democratic Party. They grew up in parts of the country where navigating religion was not important socially and not important to their political careers. This is very different from, like, James Carville in Louisiana in the ’80s. James Carville is not the most religious guy, but he gets religious people—if you didn’t get religious people running Democratic campaigns in the South in the ’80s, you wouldn’t win. Another reason why they haven’t reached out to evangelicals in 2016 is that, no matter Clinton’s slogan of “Stronger Together,” we have a politics right now that is based on making enemies, and making people afraid. I think we’re seeing this with the Betsy DeVos nomination: It’s much easier to make people scared of evangelicals, and to make evangelicals the enemy, than trying to make an appeal to them.” [TheAtlantic]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Meet the Businessman Introducing Kids in 12 Countries to Jewish Books — For Free” by Jake Romm: “Harold Grinspoon is not a scholar, he is a businessman – a fact which he reminded me of multiple times throughout our conversation. Yet, despite his protestations, Grinspoon has done more than most in terms of cultivating the next generation of Jewish learners. He isn’t a lecturer, an author, a rabbi, or in any way a part of the intelligentsia. He is simply a kind (and enormously wealthy) man who understands the importance of books to the Jewish communal experience.” [Forward

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Bill de Blasio Criticizes ‘Anti-Israel’ UN Resolution” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The U.N.’s anti-Israel positioning in the Middle East does nothing to advance the peace process,” City Hall Press Secretary Eric Phillips said in a statement, released almost a week after the unprecedented vote took place. “Mayor de Blasio said clearly that the U.N.’s role in the peace process has never been helpful. Like many at home and abroad, the Mayor also acknowledged that the ultimate consequences of the U.N.’s resolution cannot be predicted and that the effect of the U.S.’s abstention is unclear,” Phillips said.” [JewishInsider

TRANSITION: “Netanyahu taps Yuval Rotem as permanent Foreign Ministry D-G” by Herb Keinon: “Rotem has been serving in a temporary capacity in that position since the resignation of Dore Gold in October. The announcement came at a sending-off ceremony for Gold in the ministry… He served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff in the ministry when Netanyahu – who was then prime minister – held the foreign minister’s portfolio for 10 months in 1998.” [JPost]  

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Born in Borough Park in Brooklyn, Hall of Fame pitcher for the Dodgers who did not pitch in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, Sandy Koufax (born Sanford Braun) turns 81… Professional poker player who has donated a large percentage of his $8 million in tournament winnings to charities, Barry Greenstein turns 62…  Host of The Today Show, whose father was of Romanian Jewish heritage, as seen on the Today Show’s “Finding Our Roots,” Matt Lauer turns 59… Fellowship Director at Israel’s TAMID Group, providing internship opportunities at Israeli startups and VCs, previously Senior Development Officer at Boston’s Jewish Federation, David Micley turns 29. David also celebrated his wedding to Molly Chadis yesterday in Jaffa, Israel… Psychotherapist, congregational rabbi and faculty member at Los Angeles-based Academy for Jewish Religion California, Michael Menitoff…  Deputy Director of AIPAC’s Midwest Synagogue Initiative, Lital Casper Rosenberg…  Assistant Director of Campus Affairs at AJC Global, Jacob LevkowiczPhil Goldstein… Larry MandelIan MorrisEllen Gordon

Israeli biochemist, Nobel Prize laureate in 2004, Distinguished Professor at the Technion in Haifa, Avram Hershko turns 79… Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg (born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin) turns 70… Author of over 20 novels, including five in the Star Trek series, Susan Shwartz turns 67… Third-term member in the Maryland House of Delegates, representing District 18 in Montgomery County, Jeff Waldstreicher turns 37… One of the tallest MLB position players ever at 6’8″, has been on five MLB 40-man rosters, played for Israel in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers, Nate Freiman turns 30… Jonathan Scheiner turns 28… Moon Grindle… Roz Singer

The Paul E. Singer Foundation’s Daniel Bonner turns 27… German-born historian, noted for his expertise on WWII, professor and the professor emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1974, Gerhard Weinberg turns 89… Yale Law graduate who went on to direct many films, documentaries and theatre productions, winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Frederick Wiseman turns 87… Austrian-born psychiatrist and medical researcher, president and vice-chancellor of Concordia University in Montreal, Frederick Lowy turns 84… 36th richest American (per Forbes), businessman and philanthropist, Ronald Perelman turns 74… US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2008-2009), then founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, a public policy development institution, Ambassador James K. Glassman turns 70… German-born, graduate of Harvard and then Georgetown Law, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Max Richtman turns 70… Tunisian-born, now Los Angeles-based, fashion designer, chairman and CEO of the BCBG Max Azria Group, a global fashion house that includes over 20 brands sold world-wide, Max Azria turns 68… Founder of Gutsy Women Travel, a company that arranges luxury trips for women who are traveling overseas alone, wife of Carl Icahn, Gail Golden Icahn turns 64… Senior US Senator from  New Jersey since 2006, previously a member of the House of Representatives (1993-2006), Bob Menendez turns 63… President and founder of Ampersand Strategies, a D.C.-based communications and consulting firm, previously AIPAC’s Mid-Atlantic regional political director, Josh Nanberg turns 43… Manager of data analytics and strategy at Politico and Rubik’s Cube genius, Tomer Ovadia… Attorney and principal of Dupont Circle Communications, a firm assisting nonprofit organizations, previously at the National Women’s Law Center and People For the American Way, Margot Friedman

Canadian publisher, shopping center developer and philanthropist, Avie Bennett turns 89… Poet who has published twenty volumes of poetry, literary and art criticism, professor at Columbia, Princeton, Brooklyn College, Cooper Union and William Paterson University, David Shapiro turns 70… Pulitzer Prize-winning ex-reporter for The New York Times, went to jail to protect her source in the Valerie Plame matter, now a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Judith Miller turns 69… Long-time journalist for The New York Times, also author of two books including a memoir about fighting cancer, Joyce Wadler turns 69… CEO of Loews Corporation since 1999, James Tisch turns 64… President of the DC-based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, member of the House of Representatives from Florida between 1997 until 2010, Robert Wexler turns 56… Executive Director of the Western Publishing Association since 1996, Jane Silbering

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Daily Kickoff: Obama’s UN vote in response to Trump’s Friedman pick? | Kerry questions how much longer US can support Israel | Dichter interview


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End Of Year Note What We’re All About: We’re not advocacy news. We’re not here to confirm your biases or challenge your beliefs. We are here, however, to introduce you to new ideas, information and individuals. Most importantly, we are here to serve as a daily platform for our siloed community to convene and share a common conversation about the issues. We hope you will consider supporting us in this worthy and necessary mission. Your tax deductible donation, through our parent organization Tribe Media, will go 100% towards supporting the Jewish Insider team and our goals for expanded coverage in the critically important 2017. Happy Hanukkah and New Year to you and yours! [PayPal]

BEHIND THE SCENES — “The Obama Administration’s Final Warning on the Middle East Peace Process” by David Remnick: “The President-elect’s appointment of David Friedman, a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer, as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel “had a lot of weight in the President’s thinking” about what to do next, one senior Administration official told me. The official told me that the Administration had been “alarmed” by many of Trump’s appointments to his national-security team—notably the appointment of Michael Flynn as national-security adviser—but the selection of Friedman was “over the top.” “The last thing you want to do as you leave office is to pick a fight with the organized Jewish community, but Friedman is so beyond the pale,” the adviser said. “He put his political and charitable support directly into the settlements; he compares Jews on the left to the kapos in the concentration camps—it just put it over the top.”” [NewYorker

Question On Our Mind: Theoretically, had Trump delayed announcing his Ambassador to Israel by a few weeks, would this latest clash between the Obama Administration and Israel have been avoided?

“John Kerry’s mission to save diplomacy” by Elise Labott: “After Trump’s election, the administration worried a dramatic move — such as supporting a UN Security Council resolution laying out the “parameters” of a final peace deal — could push Trump to take a hardline stance… Another UN resolution, this one condemning Israeli settlement activity, seemed a workable compromise… Diplomats said the effort gained steam after the US election because of the consensus the incoming Trump administration would veto any action against Israel at the UN.” [CNN] • John Kerry, tireless in his diplomatic efforts, often came up empty-handed [LATimes• John Kerry’s Middle East plan mirrors Bill Clinton’s futile end-of-term attempt [Guardian]

“How the U.S. came to abstain on a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements” by Karen DeYoung:“People debated whether the backlash to the vote, if we abstained, would do more harm than good, that it would reverberate into our politics, into Israeli politics, and would accelerate trends,” a senior administration official said. But “every potential argument about making things worse is already happening.” [WashPost

TOP TALKER — “Kerry Questions How Much Longer US Can Support Israel Under Status Quo” by Jacob Kornbluh and Aaron Magid: “Questioning how much longer the US could go on supporting Israel while the status quo remains, Kerry posed a series of rhetorical questions: “How would Israel respond to a growing civil rights movement from Palestinians, demanding a right to vote, or widespread protests and unrest across the West Bank? How does Israel reconcile a permanent occupation with its democratic ideals? How does the U.S. continue to defend that and still live up to our own democratic ideals?” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a response carried live by CNN, blasted Kerry’s speech as a “big disappointment” while calling the focus on settlements as “obsessive.” “Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by world leaders” Netanyahu declared.”

“The speech was replete with paternalistic, arrogant lecturing,” Abraham Foxman, former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told Jewish Insider. “The threats to peace and the implementation of a two-state solution are not Israeli settlements, but the non-recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Palestinian incitement, and violence.” Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also criticized Kerry for focusing on the settlements while ignoring the fact that Hamas continued launching rockets into Israel after Israel forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements in the Gaza strip. “This is something that people of all political stripes in Israel vividly remember,” he said in a statement.”

— “Others recommended Israelis take a hard look at the substance of the Secretary of State’s remarks. “It’s an important speech for those who support the two-state solution and do not want to see Israel’s Jewish & democratic nature being undermined,” Dan Arbell, former Deputy Chief of Israel’s Embassy in Washington, told Jewish Insider. “I regret that not many Israelis will see this as an opportunity for peace, rather than looking at this from a standpoint that the world is against us and Obama is against us. This is unhelpful and biased.” Hussein Ibish, a senior scholar at the Arab Gulf Institute in Washington, told Jewish Insider, “I think it’s probably the most sympathetic (speech) to the Palestinian cause given by a major American official.” However, Ibish found the timing of the speech problematic. “It would have been very useful 3 or more years ago, linked to policies with consequences. Now it’s sad and pointless, alas.” [JewishInsider

Mark Dubowitz tells us: “Barack Obama and John Kerry’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are shared by very few Americans. Most Americans see a loyal US ally under attack by radical Islamists and Arab rejectionists who have rejected Israel’s right to live in safety and security for decades… Now the UN and Obama have severely undermined Israel’s negotiating position and made peace less likely. By declaring all of the land illegal, including Israel’s most holy sites and already possessed by the Palestinians, Israel will now be in position of negotiating land it illegally possesses. Israel cannot negotiate for peace when it has nothing to give… Most Democrats in Congress, Obama’s former Middle East negotiator George Mitchell, and his top Middle East adviser Dennis Ross believe Obama and Kerry have made an enormous mistake.”

HOW IT PLAYED: Kerry Rebukes Israel, Calling Settlements a Threat to Peace [NYTimes] • In parting shot, Kerry tears into Israel over settlements [AP] John Kerry Gives a Final Warning to Israel and Netanyahu [DailyBeast] • Kerry to Israel: We support you but can’t defend ‘right-wing’ agenda [Politico] • 12 big takeaways from John Kerry’s speech on the Mideast peace process [WashPost

“Kerry’s Blunt Words for Israel Denounced by Lawmakers in Both Parties” by Jonathan Martin: “Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Mr. Kerry’s speech “gratuitous” and “wrong.” “There doesn’t seem any purpose to this other than to embarrass Israel,” Mr. Engel said. “It just pained me to watch it.” Democratic members of Congress who are closer to Mr. Kerry, a former senator, and the Obama administration were more measured… Yet even these Democrats — eyeing the arrival of a Republican administration-in-waiting that has vowed strong support for Israel — left little doubt that they were parting ways with Mr. Obama on the substance of the United Nations resolution.” [NYTimes]

“Chris Murphy: White House actions could push Trump further into Israel’s camp” by Louis Nelson: “Maybe this is the natural extension of what has been a very dysfunctional relationship. My worry, though, is that this, in the end, may have the very opposite effect that Obama and Kerry hope… It may be pushing Donald Trump further and further into Netanyahu’s camp such that he’s not going to be able to be an honest broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” Speaking to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee member said the U.N. is “just fundamentally not a fair forum for the Israelis” and that the White House should have vetoed the Security Council measure.” [Politico; TheHill] • Murphy Blasts UN On Israel Vote, Criticizes Obama [Courant]

INBOX — RJC’s Matt Brooks: “By claiming this speech is a framework for peace in the Middle East, President Obama and John Kerry are playing the Jewish community for fools… We are deeply saddened and troubled by the actions of President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the U.N. and are confident that President Trump and the Republican Congress will work quickly to reverse these statements and actions, and reestablish the strong bonds between the U.S. and Israel.”

“In John Kerry’s Mideast Speech, a Clash of Policies and Personalities” by Peter Baker: “Mr. Trump, after initially saying he wanted to be a neutral figure in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has thrown in his lot with Mr. Netanyahu, especially since the election, perhaps encouraging the prime minister to castigate the departing president and secretary… After all the stormy exchanges and recriminations, the remaining question is where Mr. Trump’s alliance with Mr. Netanyahu will lead. Mr. Trump fashions himself a deal maker, and this would be the ultimate deal.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Interview with Avi Dichter — by Tal Shalev: John Kerry’s speech last night captured the headlines, and prompted vocal responses from both sides of the political spectrum. Kafe Knesset talked to the Likud chair of the Knesset’s foreign affairs committee, Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin-Bet security services, to try to understand his party’s anger.

Q: Why did Kerry spark such an intense reaction? Dichter: You know, just in court, you commit to tell only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Kerry only fulfilled the first part of that obligation. His speech included truths, but not all of the truth, and not only truth, and its unfortunate because one would expect someone as senior and experienced as Kerry to be more loyal to the facts, and more trustworthy in his historic review. I feel like inviting him for a cup of coffee and clarifying the course of history.

Q: But Kerry was trying to convey a specific message about the direction this government is leading to? Dichter: I think he was unfair. He quoted an Israeli politician calling to annex the West Bank, and I expected his next sentence to include a quote from Abbas or Haled Mashaal, but it didn’t. To denounce the Israeli leadership and not even mention the fact that Abbas will be concluding 12 years in power soon since the last elections. I think Kerry should have showed us that he understands the whole story and the wide array of complexities, but he didn’t, and the speech’s credibility just faded out – because he was not telling the whole truth.

Q: Some of your colleagues have been using extremely harsh words towards the Obama administration, do you agree with their accusations? Dichter: I don’t agree with the some of the statements, I don’t think the Obama administration is anti-Semitic or hostile, but I think that its Middle East policy was naïve in a concerning manner, and if you would interview an Egyptian, or a Saudi, even a Syrian or an Iraqi – they would probably agree. All of the US moves in our region in recent years have failed, from Egypt to Iran to Syria to Yemen. But you didn’t hear anything about that from Kerry. Read the entire Kafe Knesset interview [JewishInsider]

WSJ editorial: “Kerry’s Rage Against Israel: But the effect of Mr. Kerry’s efforts will be to put it further out of reach. Palestinians will now be emboldened to believe they can get what they want at the U.N. and through public campaigns to boycott Israel without making concessions. Israelis will be convinced that Western assurances of support are insincere and reversible.” [WSJ

AJC’s David Harris: “Unless we can expect major pronouncements from you [John Kerry] between now and January 20th about the unparalleled carnage in Syria, the unraveling of Libya, Iran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East and growing challenge to American forces, and Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine – all of which touch on fundamental American interests and may not be handled in the same way by President Trump and his team, then why this one issue, and with a close ally to boot, on Friday at the UN, today at the State Department, and tomorrow possibly back at the UN – with our without U.S. initiation – or in Paris?” [HuffPost

Amir Tibon: “Sad but true: We didn’t hear this important speech from Kerry when it truly mattered, because it could have hurt Iran deal push in Congress.” [Twitter

“The only thing he didn’t say was ‘apartheid’” by David Horovitz: “Benjamin Netanyahu will fall from power one day. Presumably. But, in contrast to 1999, and notwithstanding widespread concern in Israel over building beyond the security barrier, it is unlikely to be because Israelis feel he is blocking what would otherwise be an open path to peace.” [ToI

“Bibi Netanyahu Makes Trump His Chump” by Tom Friedman: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and right now Obama and Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank… I greatly sympathize with Israel’s security problems. If I were Israel, I would not relinquish control of the West Bank borders — for now. The Arab world is far too unstable, and Hamas, which controls another 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, would likely take over the West Bank. My criticism of Netanyahu is not that he won’t simply quit all the West Bank; it is that he refuses to show any imagination or desire to build workable alternatives that would create greater separation and win Israel global support… One day Trump will wake up and discover that he was manipulated into becoming the co-father, with Netanyahu, of an Israel that is either no longer Jewish or no longer democratic. He will discover that he was Bibi’s chump.” [NYTimes]

“The War on Israel Never Ends” by Douglas J. Feith on upper fold of WSJ’s A15: “Settlements aren’t the issue. Many of the Jewish state’s enemies don’t even believe in its right to exist.” [WSJ]

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach emails us: “Truth be told, Israel has been helped militarily. The problem is that Israel is consistently on the raw edge of a PR war for existence. While Obama helped internally with funding and such, he fed the haters exactly what they wanted by giving Israel a public black eye, and telling the world, so to speak, that Israel does not have the moral high ground. Israel needs democracies like the US to have its back in the public eye too.”

“WH says it would veto UN resolution recognizing Palestinian state” by Daniella Diaz: “So just to be clear here, when (Kerry) says, ‘These are not the choices we will make,’ which is kind of vague, is he saying that the US would veto any resolution in the UN which might dictate a peace solution or might recognize a Palestinian state?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Rhodes on “The Lead.” “Yes,” Rhodes responded. “We’ve made that clear over and over, Jake.” [CNN

TRANSITION TOWER – “Don King appears alongside Trump, talks Israel” by Mark Hensch: “The Israeli flag is about peace, you know, peace in the Middle East,” [King] told reporters Wednesday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. “We want everyone to come together and as one unit and make things happen. He’s the leader that can make it happen,” King added, waving a bundle of flags including the U.S. and Israeli flags… Trump then panned Secretary of State John Kerry for criticizing Israel’s settlement building in occupied territories in a speech earlier Wednesday. “It speaks for itself,” he said of Kerry’s remarks at the State Department. “It’s pretty obvious. We have different views. I think it set us back. We have to have peace,” Trump added of the conflict. “We’ll see what happens after Jan. 20, right? You’re going to be very impressed.” [TheHill]

Trump: “I’m very very strong on Israel. I think that Israel has been treated very very unfairly by a lot of different people. If you look at resolutions in the United Nations … they are up for 20 reprimands and other nations that are horrible places, horrible places that treat people horribly haven’t even been reprimanded. So there is something going on and I think it is very unfair to Israel.” [YouTube

“Trump team says he will continue to speak with Obama despite clashes” by Hunter Walker: “With respect to the White House, the comments on Friday, I think the president-elect is very clear that Israel … should be treated better by the United States. It’s our closest friend in the Middle East, the only democracy there,” he said. Spicer went on to say Trump “intends to have a much stronger relationship with Israel” going forward.” [YahooNews

WATCH — Israeli Ambassador: Trump Will Be a Strong Supporter of Israel [MSNBC

‘Trump Could Be Israel’s Worst Nightmare” by Gregg Carlstrom: “Israel often claims that “shared values” unite it with America; how can it continue to do so if Israel’s top representatives embrace figures like Gaffney? It may not be an issue under Trump, but the Republicans, who lost the popular vote by a large margin, will not stay in power forever… Trump may yet disappoint his fans in Israel. If he doesn’t, though, Netanyahu is right: A “new era” is coming. But it will be an era in which the two leaders, aligned with the far right of the pro-Israel establishment, pursue policies that will erode Israel’s support in the U.S. and its standing in the world. The Israeli right may have an ally in the White House—but they will be in short supply elsewhere.” [PoliticoMag] • Trump Could Be Even More Wrong on Israel [WSJ

Ron Fournier: “Prediction: Netanyahu will one day regret tweeting this [to Trump].” [Twitter

Marc Schulman: “Tel Aviv Diary: Bibi Netanyahu rails against the world: For the past few months, the joke in Tel Aviv has been that President-elect Donald Trump was an invention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After all, to most Israelis, even ardent opponents of Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister seemed a sane choice compared with Trump. During the past few days, however, many Israelis are scratching their heads wondering which one of these political leaders is the more responsible.” [Newsweek

“Trump’s inauguration rabbi gives President Obama top spot on #TopTenAntiSemitic2016 list” by Celeste Katz: “Trump’s presidential inauguration will feature remarks from the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Rabbi Marvin Hier), which just gave President Barack Obama the top spot on its 2016 list of the 10 worst anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents in the world… On Tuesday, the Center called Obama out by name in its list of the “Top Ten Worst Global 2016 Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Incidents,” which the center branded for social media with the hashtag #TopTenAntiSemitic2016. Said the Center in a scathing report, “The most stunning 2016 U.N. attack on Israel was facilitated by President Obama when the U.S. abstained on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel for settlement construction.”” [Mic

“Who Will Really Be the Next President of the United States?” by David Rothkopf: “In a holding company, the power lies with the person who ends up coordinating the structure and resolving the inevitable rivalries that emerge within it. Will it be Pence — continuing the recent trend of increasingly important No. 2s, from Al Gore to Dick Cheney to Joe Biden — inheriting a vice presidency vastly more powerful than ever before? … Could it be a small committee of advisors that could include Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump?” [FP] • Pence’s Influence Likely to Be Limited as VP [RCP]

“Can Donald Trump Hire Ivanka Trump?” by Norm Eisen and Richard Painer: “The ideal — and honest — solution to this legal question would be for President Trump to ask Congress to amend the anti-nepotism statute to allow the president to appoint a limited number of relatives to formal positions in the White House… But if Mr. Trump does not seek an amendment, or if he does and Congress refuses… he should at a minimum appoint Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner to formal positions on the White House staff. This would force them to file financial disclosure forms, revealing their finances. They would also have to divest assets that create conflicts of interest.” [NYTimes

DNC WATCH: “Leading DNC Candidates Duck Debate Over Obama’s Handling Of UN Israel Resolution” by Sam Stein: “A spokesperson for Labor Secretary Tom Perez told The Huffington Post that Perez wouldn’t be weighing in on the matter “given his role in the cabinet.” Several requests for comment sent over several days to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) were not returned. A similar request to New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley went unanswered, while a statement from South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison notably avoided taking a position.” [HuffPost]

IRAN DEAL: Inside the 37-Year Standoff Over Iran’s Frozen U.S. Dollars” by Jay Solomon and Carol Lee: “Over the past 18 months, Iran has detained at least three more American citizens for allegedly threatening the country’s national security. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wants the U.S. to return another chunk of Iranian money, $2 billion frozen in 2009 in a Citibank account in New York. He has suggested that a deal similar to the one involving the $400 million could resolve the issue… Iran was demanding as much as $10 billion, citing the high rates of interest in the 1970s. In an out-of-court settlement, the U.S. agreed to pay Iran the $400 million, plus $1.3 billion in interest.” [WSJ

** 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 **

STARTUP NATION: “From Local To Everywhere – Lemonade is going nationwide!” by Shai Wininger: “In the last 3 months since our New York launch, we’ve had overwhelming demand coming in from all over the country to open up for business in more states. This was very encouraging because it showed us hints of initial demand and product market fit to people and age groups which we never thought would be our early adopters… But what surprised us most was the excitement coming from unexpected places such as government offices and regulators alike. Having a favorable regulatory environment is a great opportunity to bring honest, affordable, transparent and fun insurance experience to everyone in the US .” [Medium]

SPOTLIGHT: “Reclusive Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter Photographed in Public at Trump Event” by Erik Hayden: “Ike Perlmutter, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, has been photographed in public — a rare instance for the reclusive mogul. Perlmutter met with Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Wednesday and was photographed by Jonathan Ernst for Reuters news agency. The image shows a sunglasses-wearing Perlmutter and Trump peering out of a window. Perlmutter was helping organize a health summit with the president-elect at Trump’s Florida retreat. Unlike executives at other major studios and networks, the 74-year-old Marvel CEO has been photographed very few times over the years.” [THR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Muslim high schooler tracks down homeless man who allegedly struck Jewish woman on Brooklyn subway” by Todd Maisel: “A brave Muslim high school student helped cops bust a homeless sicko who randomly slammed his open hand into an Orthodox Jewish woman’s face on a Brooklyn subway train Tuesday night, officials said. Ahmed Khalifa, 17, of Midwood chased down Rayvon Jones, 31, after he decked the woman, who was simply reading a book on a Coney Island-bound Q train near the Newkirk Ave. station at about 7:50 p.m.[DailyNews]

BIRTHDAYS: English journalist and author, economics correspondent for the Financial Times since 1966, Sir Samuel Brittan turns 83… Linda Zweig turns 74… Foreign policy and public diplomacy advisor to seven consecutive Israeli Prime Ministers (1990-2016), now a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings Institution, Shalom Lipner turns 51… Film, television and stage actor, best known for his role as Marshall Flinkman on ABC’s “Alias” (2001-2006), Kevin Weisman turns 46… The youngest GM in MLB history when the Boston Red Sox hired him at the age of 28; President of the Chicago Cubs since 2011, winners of the 2016 World Series after a 106 year drought, Theo Epstein turns  43… Social worker at Brookline (MA) High School, co-founder in 2005 of the “Foundation To Be Named Later” with his twin brother Theo, Paul Epstein also turns 43… Senior Adviser on Research and Digital Strategy at The Israel Project (TIP), Gary Rosen… Politico’s national political reporter Katie Glueck

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Daily Kickoff: All Wary And Weary Eyes on Kerry | Inside the coming war between the US & UN | Dershowitz Profile | Jews of Bahrain celebrate Hanukkah


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DRIVING THE DAY: “John Kerry, in a Final, Pointed Plea, Will Outline a Vision of Mideast Peace” by David Sanger: “A senior State Department official said that Mr. Kerry… will use his remarks to confront Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… The speech… will make the case that “the vote was not unprecedented” and that Mr. Obama’s decision “did not blindside Israel.” Mr. Kerry, the official said, would cite other cases in which Washington officials had allowed similar votes under previous presidents. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a coming speech, said Mr. Kerry would also argue that, with the notable exception of Israel, there was a “complete international consensus” against further settlements in areas that might ultimately be the subject of negotiations.”

— “Mr. Kerry, the official said, has long wanted to give a speech outlining an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal but was held back by White House officials, who saw it as unnecessary pressure on Israel that would anger Mr. Netanyahu. But that objection was lifted last week… Mr. Kerry’s speech is important because the administration’s decision to let the resolution pass has created more political repercussions — including from Democrats — than the White House anticipated.” [NYTimesWSJ]

“Top Democrat Urges Kerry Not To Engage In Israel-Palestinian Mediation” by Pranshu Rathi: “In a statement released by House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who is the second-ranking elected official in the House Democratic Caucus , he [said], “This flies in the face of the United States’s longstanding position that such a formulation should be reached only through negotiations by the parties and not by the United States, the United Nations, or any other third party… I urge Secretary [John] Kerry and the Administration not to set forth a formula, which will inevitably disadvantage Israel in any negotiation.” he said in the statement.” [IBTimes]

WATCH Kerry’s speech at 11:00 am EST here [CSPAN]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: It has been ages since a John Kerry speech garnered so much attention in Jerusalem, but in the midst of another Netanyahu-Obama tit for tat, everyone will be following Kerry’s words today quite closely. Kerry has already grown used to various Israeli characterizations, such as ‘obsessive’ and ‘messianic,’ coined by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and the latest is ‘pathetic,’ as Likud Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted last night.

Ahead of this evening’s speech and following the UNSCR 2334, the Zionist Union convened a special faction meeting this morning, to discuss the diplomatic omission. “BBDS” is the slogan the party, traditionally representing the Israeli peace camp, has been pushing in recent days, claiming the Prime Minister’s punitive diplomatic measures against UNSC members and attacks on the Obama administration – are assisting BDS and deligitimization campaigns against Israel. “This is a complete collapse of our foreign policy,” Isaac Herzog said, warning Netanyahu is once again causing damage to the holy alliance with the United States. “When you treat the incoming president like he’s your puppet and the outgoing president like he is irrelevant – you are bound to pay a price someday,” Herzog said.

Tzipi Livni said that “our job is to tell the truth: the Security Council decision is not against Israel but against the Israeli settlement policy, and it is a direct result of the land appropriation bill. We will not back a government who is turning our friends into enemies.” The party was joined by Dov Weisglass, who served as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s special envoy, who recalled how he reached the Bush-Sharon understandings, which constituted a de facto US recognition of the settlement blocks. “Sharon understood that no one in the world accepts Israel’s territorial demands, not even the Marshall Islands. The US traditionally adamantly opposed our presence in the West Bank,” Weisglass said, noting that the Palestinians carefully and wisely used American wording in the resolution, making it almost impossible for the administration to veto. “Did anyone really expect that a US president would oppose a resolution which is based on former White House and State Department statements?”

TOP TALKER: “Israel postpones approval of new settlement construction amid spat with U.S.” by Ruth Eglash: “Hanan Rubin, a member of Jerusalem’s city council, confirmed that the request had come directly from the Prime Minister, who wanted to avoid deepening the rift. He said the zoning committee agreed to abide because they had no interest in “causing a political storm.”” [WashPost]

FIRST LOOK: “Inside the coming war between the United States and the United Nations” by Josh Rogin: “In the days since the vote, three Republican senators and their staffs have been working up options behind the scenes for how to convert their threat into action: Graham, Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.). They believe they will have support for quick Senate action from both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a strong supporter of Israel…”

“Some are considered “micro” options, such as passing a resolution that would bar any funding that might go to implementing the anti-settlement resolution. Other options include withdrawing the United States from U.N. organizations such as UNESCO or passing legislation to protect settlers who are American citizens and might be vulnerable to consequences of the resolution. Senators are also looking at ways to withhold U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority or perhaps punish the Palestine Liberation Organization representative office in Washington. Republicans in the Senate don’t plan to wait until Trump is actually in office; aides said to expect action as soon as senators return to Washington next week.” [WashPost]

Trump tweets today: “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!… We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but…. not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” [Twitter]

“Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at the UN Must Not Stand” by Bloomberg’s Editorial Board: “Fortunately, the bipartisan uproar sparked by Obama’s UN decision provides an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to rally around a more constructive policy. They should start by agreeing to President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a step envisioned but never taken by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. That would provide a powerful reaffirmation to Israel –- a nation born after the slaughter of six million Jews, and under siege since its birth — of the U.S.’s enduring commitment, and to the world of Israel’s right to exist. That reaffirmation, in turn, is essential in providing Israel with the confidence to move ahead with a two-state solution.” [Bloomberg]

“Obama Fulfills His Prophecy on Israeli Settlements” by Eli Lake: “Michael Oren… told me on Monday that the Knesset held in-depth hearings to prepare for what Obama would do to Israel in the window between the Nov. 8 election and the Jan. 20 inauguration. “We were not surprised because I know the worldview, I know the president’s determination,” Oren said… Then there is the timing. Perhaps Obama never wanted to have done this “a long time ago,” as Rhodes said… Politically, the resolution would have been a gift to Republicans before an election. Imagine the campaign commercial saying Obama wouldn’t stop genocide in Syria but makes Jewish homes in Jerusalem illegal. Obama himself has been attuned to the sensibilities of the pro-Israel community in election years…  He just never bothered to tell us that he would abet that isolation as his presidency came to a close.” [Bloomberg]

“Obama’s Parting Shot Against His Party” by Josh Kraushaar: “At a time when Demo­crats are try­ing to win back voters that aban­doned them in this year’s pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, they can’t af­ford to ali­en­ate a bed­rock con­stitu­ency of their party. But that’s ex­actly what Obama’s last-minute slam of Is­rael threatens to do. It’s no co­in­cid­ence that Obama waited un­til after the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion to take a fi­nal slap at Israel, know­ing full well that it would have dam­aged Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­id­en­tial cam­paign. Even though most Jews will con­tin­ue to vote Demo­crat­ic, small-scale de­fec­tions among Demo­crat­ic voters who care about Is­rael can make a big dif­fer­ence in states with siz­able Jew­ish pop­u­la­tions, such as Flor­ida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Trump’s nar­row mar­gin of vic­tory in all three states is a re­mind­er that every vote counts… In ad­di­tion, Obama’s po­s­i­tion­ing on Is­rael threatens to un­der­mine his party’s fun­drais­ing cap­ab­il­it­ies.” [NationalJournal

Obama confidant Alan Solow: “How Israel Brought UN Resolution on Itself With Irrational Settlement Push: A veto of Resolution 2334 would have sent an unmistakable signal to Israel’s pro-settlement wing, including the ruling coalition, that it can act without restraint… The time has come to stop making excuses by pointing at others to escape the responsibility that Zionism imposes upon us to take control of our own destiny. The story of the Jewish people is not merely that we have always had enemies, but rather that we have had the ingenuity and strength — usually unconventional — to defeat them.” [Forward

“Obama’s former Mideast envoy: U.S. should have vetoed UN resolution” by Yousef Saba: “I do think, if I might make a few other points on this issue, that President Obama would have been wise to veto this resolution,” George Mitchell said in an interview on MSNBC. “Not because of the policy implications but because of the timing and the circumstance that it leads to with respect to trying to get the parties together… It would have been wise, I think, to defer this if possible and, if not, to veto it.” [Politico

Mitchell on Netanyahu’s reaction: “The last thing Israel needs is further isolation in the world, and to this moment, to the best of knowledge, not a single country in the world has come out in opposition to this resolution. The Prime Minister going on and taking on, on hostile terms, Britain, France, Spain New Zealand… Israel is already isolated in the Muslim world, which comprises now a 5th of the world’s population – soon to be a 3rd – and they don’t need further isolation from the whole rest of the world. They ought to be trying to get the world on their side, not just the United States.”

NEW DETAILS — “Britain Pulled the Strings and Netanyahu Warned New Zealand It Was Declaring War” by Barak Ravid: “Last Friday, a few hours before the UN Security Council vote on the settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully… Western diplomats say the conversation was harsh and very tense and Netanyahu let loose with sharp threats.. “If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences. We’ll recall our ambassador to Jerusalem.” McCully refused to back down from the vote… The Western diplomats said that the British encouraged New Zealand to continue pushing for a vote even without Egyptian support… The suspicion in Jerusalem is that the British had been working during all those days for the Americans to make sure the resolution was to U.S. President Barack Obama’s liking, but without the need to intervene directly in formulating it… “The British helped tone down the text so it would meet the American threshold and so it could be passed without a veto,” one of the Western diplomats said.”

— “A few hours before the vote, the Prime Minister called Russian President Vladimir Putin and tried to persuade him. Just the day before, Israel had acceded to a Russian request and had absented itself from a vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution regarding war crimes in Syria. It is not entirely clear what happened in the conversation between Netanyahu and Putin, but less than an hour before the vote a real drama took place at the UN headquarters in New York… the Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin suddenly asked for a closed consultation. A Western diplomat said that Churkin shocked the other ambassadors of the 14 Security Council member-states when he proposed postponing the vote until after Christmas.” [Haaretz

“Transcript claims to show US worked with Palestinians on UN resolution: In a meeting in early December with top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, US Secretary of State John Kerry told the Palestinians that the US was prepared to cooperate with the Palestinians at the Security Council… Also present at the meeting were US National Security Adviser Susan Rice… Kerry is quoted as saying that he could present his ideas for a final status solution if the Palestinians pledge they will support the proposed framework. The US officials advised the Palestinians to travel to Riyadh to present the plan to Saudi leaders. According to the Egyptian report, the US diplomats had expressed their mistrust of Netanyahu, saying he wanted destroy the two-state solution… The transcript showed Kerry and Rice advising the Palestinians not to make any provocative moves when US President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20, calling him dangerous.” [ToI; Haaretz

“Phone Call From Biden Said to Precipitate Ukraine’s UN ‘Yes’ Vote” by Vladislav Davidzon: “Tablet has confirmed that one tangible consequence of the high-level U.S. campaign was a phone call from Vice President Joseph Biden to Ukrainian President Pavel Poroshenko, which succeeded in changing Ukraine’s vote from an expected abstention to a “yes.” According to one U.S. national security source, the Obama Administration needed a 14-0 vote to justify what the source called “the optics” of its own abstention… “That Biden told them to do it is 1000% true,” the source affirmed.” [Tablet

Bethany S. Mandel: “I’d like to wish a mazal tov to the Obama admin. for doing what I thought was impossible: You’ve made me glad Donald Trump was elected.” [Twitter

Washington Institute’s David Makovsky on the Trump factor: “Netanyahu will likely to seek to draw closer to Trump in the coming weeks, in part by backing the latter’s call for relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He will also likely urge the resurrection of President George W. Bush’s 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which made clear that the United States supports Israel’s eventual annexation of several settlement blocs as part of a final-status peace deal involving land swaps… The Obama-Netanyahu relationship began to go downhill in 2009 when the president refused to endorse the Bush letter, and the new UNSCR could complicate efforts to revive it.” [WashInstitute

Martin Indyk: “Trump can always use the American veto to protect Israel from further action there, but he will not be able to protect Israel from the actions of individual member states, nor prevent the Palestinians from taking the matter to the International Criminal Court, where the United States has no vote, let alone a veto, because it is not a member. .. It’s so complicated that one can imagine Trump throwing up his hands and just letting the settlers have their way. But he should then know that he will have no opportunity to make “the ultimate deal,” as he calls it.” [Politico]

“Obama and Trump are engaged in a $3 billion game of chicken over Israel” by Jake Novak: The first response many Republicans and Trump allies are calling for is cutting or completely rescinding the massive U.S. portion of the U.N.’s annual funding, which now totals about $3 billion… Because of how unprecedented and nasty this entire affair already is, it’s really hard to believe that the Obama team’s U.N. moves are simply some kind of petulant slam against Trump… But sticking it to Trump also seems like the icing on the cake from the Obama perspective. The White House seems to be daring Trump to do the very nasty work of undoing whatever it does regarding Israel and the Palestinians in these final days.” [CNBC

“Krauthammer: Trump should ‘put his name on’ UN headquarters and ‘turn it into condos’” by Pamela Engel: “I think it’s good real estate in downtown New York City, and Trump ought to find a way to put his name on it and turn it into condos.” [BI

“Team Obama is not done slamming Israel” by Jonathan Schanzer: The president was reportedly mulling punitive measures against Israel, either by sanctions or new guidance at the IRS. The goal, it appeared, was to deny 501c3 tax-deductible status to US-based organizations that funded settlement construction. A US official confirmed to me that he was tasked with exploring sanctions opportunities, but found the prospect “legally challenging.”” [NYPost

Eli Lake: “Obama doesn’t hate Israel. He just hates the Prime Minister Israelis keep re-electing.” [Twitter]

Ari Fleischer: “President Obama has taken more action against Israel for building houses than he has against Russia for interfering in our election.” [Twitter]

Howard Wolfson: “If only we were this tough on Putin” [Twitter]

ON THE HILL — “Congressional Dems and R’s Rallied Against UNSC Resolution With Little Impact” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “At least 71 Congressional members, from both parties, issued public statements against the UN Security Council measure. Not one Congressional member publicly urged for an abstention before the diplomats in New York voted. Nonetheless, President Obama ordered his UN Ambassador Samantha Power to abstain allowing the controversial resolution to pass… Aaron Keyak, Managing Director of Bluelight Strategies, told Jewish Insider, “At the end of the day, if (the President) wants to vote a certain way at the UN, there is no member of Congress that can stop them.”” [JewishInsider

INBOX: “The American Jewish Congress urges immediate congressional hearings following the change of U.S. policy that resulted in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution… We urge the US Congress to investigate the actions taken by the Obama administration leading up to the vote. Such a seismic shift in America Foreign Policy in the transition period, must be fully reviewed and accounted for, specifically, Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes should explain the process which led to their actions, particularly in light of questions being raised.”

2017 NYC WATCH — “De Blasio, Israel’s Self-declared Defender, Silent on U.N. Vote” by Yochonon Donn: “As of Tuesday, four days since Israel was body-slammed at the United Nations, the mayor has yet to issue a statement in support of Israel. Several emails sent by Hamodia to four de Blasio press people did not get a response as we went to print.” [Hamodia

TRANSITION TOWER — Hallie Jackson: “Donald Trump set to meet with Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter [today] at Mar-a-Lago, per senior transition official… Remember: Perlmutter’s a longtime Trump backer. Timing of meeting comes amid rising US-Israeli tension (Perlmutter’s Israeli-American).” [Twitter]

“Trump’s Israel Advisor Tapped to Run ‘All Types’ of World Negotiations” by Robbie Gramer, David Francis and Elias Groll: “[Jason] Greenblatt’s name first emerged Dec. 23 as frontrunner for the new position. But it’s still unclear what exactly he will do. A statement released by Trump’s team said Greenblatt would assist “on international negotiations of all types, and trade deals around the world.”  Given that the Trump statement Tuesday highlighted Greenblatt’s campaign advisory role on Israel issues, it’s likely he’ll be part of that effort… Greenblatt has not expressed as much disdain for an independent Palestinian state as Friedman, according to Haaretz, and insists a two-state solution should not be taken off the table.” [FP

“US Ambassador to Israel asks to stay in Israel so his daughter could finish school year” by Itamar Eichner: “Shapiro, who became an ambassador to Israel in July 2011, was expected to stay on had Hillary Clinton won the US presidential elections. But Donald Trump has appointed a new ambassador, David Friedman, meaning Shapiro will have to return to the US. His daughter is in the 11th grade and currently taking the Israeli matriculation exams. If allowed to stay, Shapiro will have to leave the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya so Friedman could move in upon his approval by February or March.” [Ynet

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LongRead: “How Donald Trump Beat Palm Beach Society and Won the Fight for Mar-a-Lago” by Mark Seal: “If you’re Jewish, there was a club for you, too, the century-old Palm Beach Country Club, “the top primarily Jewish club in the country—nothing else even comes close,” says a member. Other members have included Wall Street legend Henry Kaufman; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; private-equity-firm chieftain Henry Kravis; Seagram scion Charles Bronfman . . . and, infamously, Bernie Madoff, who found many of his victims there. This was the genteel and closed world of private clubs in Palm Beach prior to the arrival of Donald Trump…  Trump and his attorney had already implied that he and his club had been discriminated against because many of its members were Jewish, and, worse, that the council members who had placed the conditions on him had not placed those restrictions on their own clubs. The council members were “more than pissed off,” says Richard Rampell, as this “put them on the defensive.”” [VanityFair

PROFILE: “The World v. Alan Dershowitz” by Simon van Zuylen-Wood: “Dershowitz was raised Orthodox Jewish in Borough Park, Brooklyn, during the 1940s and ’50s. (He hasn’t been strictly observant for decades.) His mother was a bookkeeper and his father ran a shop that sold workmen’s clothing. Alan, then “Avi,” worked his first job tying strings around the ends of hot dogs…. In early October, I drive to pick up Dershowitz at his apartment. Our plan is to visit his childhood digs in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave of Borough Park… We get to Borough Park the day after Rosh Hashanah has ended. Per custom, Dershowitz greets passersby with a friendly “Shanah Tova.” Hasidic Jews, generally being indifferent to non-Hasidim, stare blankly and say nothing. He says, “It’s a very vibrant community. Good food, good Jewish food. It’s completely Hasidic in the sense that if I walk down the street in Manhattan, people stop me all the time. Oh, we know you. Here nobody knows me, because they don’t watch TV and they don’t read secular newspapers.” He considers this. “Some of them do know me. Because I’m on YouTube. And they can do YouTube.”” [BostonMag

“In Bahrain, Arabs and Jews Gather (and Dance) at a Hanukkah Celebration” by Russell Goldman: “Orthodox Jews in black coats and skullcaps danced with Arabs in flowing robes and checkered kaffiyehs at a Hanukkah celebration over the weekend in Bahrain, a Muslim-majority monarchy whose king has sanctioned celebrations of the Jewish holiday… There are fewer than 50 Jews living in Bahrain, but the king has embraced them, adding Jews to his Shura Council, which advises him, and appointing a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, as ambassador to the United States in 2008… In a statement, Hamas criticized the celebration in light of [the] recently passed United Nations Security Council resolution.” [NYTimes]

“Israel Grapples With Military’s Plan to Open Combat Roles to Women” by Rory Jones: “When Maj. Or Ben Yehuda was shot in the hand by hashish smugglers in the Sinai Peninsula, she tended to a more seriously wounded male comrade while firing back at the gunmen and calling in reinforcements. “I didn’t feel the pain at all,” she said. “I kept commanding and just trying to make sure everything was under control.” Maj. Ben Yehuda, 27 years old, now cites that 2014 border clash in talks she gives at schools to encourage girls to follow in her footsteps. As more Israeli women push to join combat units, the military is opening more roles to them, but the moves have met resistance among some former soldiers and the religious community.” [WSJ]

BIRTHDAYS: Comic-book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, television host, actor and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) turns 94… Film producer, director, screenwriter, author, publisher and photographer, Lawrence Schiller turns 80… Comedian, writer, producer, actor and host of NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Seth Meyers turns 43… Semi-finalist on “The Voice Israel” at age 16, then released multiple songs that have reached the top of the Israeli music charts, voted the Israeli singer of the year for 2014, Yuval Dayan turns 22… Actor, best known for his role as Sam Shakusky in the 2012 film “Moonrise Kingdom,” Jared Gilman turns 18… CEO of Repair the World, a non-profit organization that promotes Jewish-American volunteerism, previously CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, David Eisner… Nina Hardoff

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Photo screenshot via YouTube

Former HI Governor: Unlike Democrats, GOP United on Israel

Monday, July 18, 2016

On the first day of the Republican convention in Cleveland, with fewer traditional Republican Jews in attendance, former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle suggested that support for the Republican…

Photo credit: Pete Souza/WH

Conf. of Presidents Dismayed at Earnest’s Comments About Dermer

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Friday expressed disappointment at comments made by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the Israeli Ambassador to…


House Votes In Favor of New Sanctions on Iran

Friday, July 15, 2016

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation that would impose new sanctions on Tehran over their development of ballistic missiles on the same day the White House…

Screenshot from YouTube

Trump Sues Former Campaign Aide for $10M

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Donald Trump is seeking $10 million in damages from his former senior political advisor, Sam Nunberg, for violating a nondisclosure agreement. In a court filing obtained by The…


Clinton Slams Trump for Promoting ‘Anti-Semitic Image’

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Addressing the challenges Americans face as a nation, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday suggested that Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and recent controversial star tweet are further proof that he’s…


ADL ‘Disappointed’ GOP Platform Excludes Two-State Solution Language

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Anti-Defamation League On Wednesday expressed their disappointment with the Republican Party dropping its longstanding support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the party’s 2016…