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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Defense, intelligence officials caution White House on terrorist designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard” by Karen DeYoung: “Senior defense and intelligence officials have cautioned the White House that a proposal to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization could endanger U.S. troops in Iraq and the overall fight against the Islamic State, and would be an unprecedented use of a law that was not designed to sanction government institutions. Defense and intelligence concerns have been expressed at the highest levels over the past several days, as the White House was preparing to roll out an executive order dealing with both Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Muslim Brotherhood.” [WashPost]
“CIA Memo: Designating Muslim Brotherhood Could ‘Fuel Extremism’” by Blake Hounshell and Nahal Toosi: “One problem is that it’s hard to define what the Brotherhood is, given its loose structure and culture of secrecy. “What you have is a disparate network of groups that may or may not meet criteria,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department analyst now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Schanzer thinks the Muslim Brotherhood’s “mothership” in Egypt wouldn’t qualify, but other parts of the movement, such as the Islah party in Yemen, might if the Trump administration took a more targeted approach. Otherwise, “it’s trying to hit a grand slam and it’s probably going to lead to a strikeout,” he said.” [Politico]
HAPPENING TODAY — at 12PM: “With a new administration and Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House on February 15, and continuing aggression by the Iranian regime – including more ballistic missile tests – JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy and United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) will co-host a lunch briefing with Amb. John Bolton, Sen. Cory Gardner, Stephen Rademaker, and former Sen. Mark Kirk.” [Livestream]
HEARD YESTERDAY IN DC — The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) hosted a policy forum to discuss the agenda for Trump and Netanyahu’s first Oval Office meeting and the broader issues at stake for the U.S.-Israel relationship in the Trump era. Panelists included Robert Satloff, David Makovsky and Yoaz Hendel, former director of communications for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Highlights — Satloff: “The Jerusalem Embassy issue was a campaign promise. So I expect the President to find a way to implement and fulfill this campaign promise… Timing is one of the key criteria. This is one of the issues that you do very soon or not for a while… You do this now, well before the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, well before the anniversary of the six-day war, or you have to wait until that episode is behind. Because if you want to avoid or limit the risk of provocation you don’t enmesh this in the 1967 issues, you anchor it in what I call the 1948 set of issues. The absence of an American Embassy in Jerusalem is a residue of a 1948 decision by the Truman Administration that is what President Trump can repair but to enmesh it in the 1967 issues only heightens the possibility that it triggers the reaction that you are trying to avoid. So, it is really an issue for now in the next several weeks well before the decision in May about whether or not to extend the waiver in the law on the Embassy.”
Makovsky: “Netanyahu knows the rhythm of Washington: don’t come too late before the policy is set in concrete. When everything is in flux is the time to try to influence the contours of a new approach. Everyone I met in Israel was of the enforcement school. They want to enforce it (Iran deal) vigorously. As one key (Netanyahu) advisor said to me, 80-90% of our concerns coming to Washington on Iran when it comes to the nuclear deal is about the so-called sunset provisions — the elements of the deal that fade out in 10-15 years. Netanyahu is going to come and take a pulse and get a sense where is the President on this enforce vs. scrap.” [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Netanyahu is back at the Blair House next week. A PMO official confirmed the White house has invited PM Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sarah, and senior members of his entourage to enjoy close hospitality and stay at the official guest house during the visit to Washington DC. Netanyahu has stayed in the Blair house in the past, but in his recent visits to DC, against the backdrop of the tensions with the Obama administration, he stayed in hotels, and renewing the tradition sends exactly the message Netanyahu wants to convey – a new page with the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, ahead of the much-anticipated visit, it appears Bibi might have to give up one of his favorite jobs – the communication portfolio. For months, Netanyahu has insisted on keeping the Communications Ministry under his reign, but the recent police revelations about his connections with the media might prompt him to pass it to one of the Likud ministers… The common assumption in political circles is that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will find it hard to defend Netanyahu in the appeal and will ask him to give up the communications ministry, regularly referred to as “Bibi’s Baby” as it enables him influence and control over the future media landscape in the state. Netanyahu might not be happy to pass on the portfolio, but Likud ministers are already out to grab it. Culture minister Miri Regev, one of Netanyahu’s most loyal confidants, is pushing to get the job and is planning to stir up the media elite just as she has rattled the cultural community over the past two years. Another leading candidate is Tzahi Hanegbi… Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]
“Does Trump signal golden age for Israeli settlements?” by Mazal Mualem: “The feeling here is that we just experienced a miracle,” Hagai Ben-Artzi told Al-Monitor. Ben-Artzi, who lives in Beit El, is also the Prime Minister’s brother-in-law. “It is important to understand that the continuation of the Obama administration’s policies under Hillary Clinton would have been bad news for us… Now it is quite possible that everything will be turned around, and we will annex the land instead.” [Al-Monitor]
“Newly approved settler homes financed by Trump’s Israel envoy pick – report” by Times of Israel: “The five-story apartment block slated for construction in the settlement near Ramallah is financed by American Friends of Bet El Institutions, which [David] Friedman chairs… The current project is also slated to be built partly on private Palestinian land and, if it goes ahead, will be legalized ex post facto under a controversial new law passed earlier this week in the Knesset.” [ToI]
COMING SOON: According to a J Street email blast yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is currently working on scheduling a hearing for David Friedman, perhaps as soon as the middle of next week.
TRUMP TUMULT: “How Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Influence Donald Trump” by Us Weekly: “Donald doing the most controversial stuff when Ivanka and Jared aren’t around — there is some truth to that,” a close Ivanka insider reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly… But for Ivanka, no challenge is insurmountable. Notes a friend, “She’s staying positive and focused on what she’s trying to do.” … “Sometimes Jared and Ivanka are a big influence and sometimes he takes other opinions into account and does something they disagree with,” says the insider. “They win some and they lose some.” [USWeekly] • Ivanka Trump quietly settles into White House life [CNN]
“Trump blasts retailer Nordstrom, raising new concern on business ties” by Nandita Bose and Timothy Gardner: “After Trump’s highly unusual move to use a White House platform to intervene in a commercial matter involving his daughter, Nordstrom reiterated that its action last week was based on declining sales of the Ivanka Trump products. But White House spokesman Sean Spicer characterized the move as a “direct attack” on the president’s policies… Norman Eisen, an ethics adviser to President Barack Obama, noted that several states have unfair competition laws, including California where Nordstrom operates many stores. The tweet, he said, could spark lawsuits if the company’s brand was being injured by an unfair attack.” [Reuters]
“Power breakfast at the Four Seasons: Political players, CEOs, and Ivanka” by Annie Karni: “This is the resistance,” Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state under Clinton and a top backer of her failed presidential bid, joked when [Dina] Powell introduced [Ivanka] Trump to his table, where he sat with former top Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan and Ben Rhodes, the former Obama foreign policy adviser and speechwriter. Ivanka Trump chuckled gamely, according to a person who heard the conversation, and replied: “Good luck with that.” [Politico]
“Sen. Schumer Attacks Trump: ‘Did Not Honor the Six Million Jews Murdered by the Nazis'” by Amir Tibon: “The abominable Nazi ‘Final Solution’ had as its target the extermination of the Jewish people. This is a fact. And one that must always be remembered,” Schumer told Haaretz. “It is troubling and unfortunate,” he added, “that the administration did not acknowledge and honor the six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime in the Shoah.” [Haaretz]
“Trump Aide Derided Islam, Immigration And Diversity, Embraced An Anti-Semitic Past” by Jessica Schulberg: “A senior national security official in the Trump administration (Michael Anton) wrote under a pseudonym last year that Islam is an inherently violent religion that is “incompatible with the modern West,” defended the World War II-era America First Committee, which included anti-Semites, as “unfairly maligned,” and called diversity “a source of weakness, tension and disunion.”” [HuffPost]
“DeVos’ first assignment: Mend fences with education foes” by Maria Danilova: “Rabbi A.D. Motzen, a school-choice advocate and the Cincinnati-based national director of state relations for the Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America, said he has known DeVos for a decade and worked with her organizations. “Whatever the policies that come out of the Department of Education, she’s going to have a fresh perspective, and I guarantee you it will be focused on parents and children, and less about where they attend school and where they live,” he said by phone.” [AP]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: How Israel is leading the world in R&D investment: Country spends more as share of GDP than any other developed nation [FinancialTimes] • Fallen Tycoons Nochi Dankner and Eliezer Fishman Strike Back [Haaretz] • Boston political power duo Larry Rasky and Joe Baerlein part ways [BostonGlobe] • Key board member resigns from embattled Banc of California, following chairman [LATimes] • Kushner trial vs. condo owners ends in sudden mistrial [CentralJersey] • Live Nation buys into Israeli concert business, launches Ticketmaster Israel [CMU]
SPOTLIGHT: “Chelsea Clinton’s Husband Closes His Hedge Fund” by Saijel Kishan: “Eaglevale Partners, the hedge fund co-founded by Marc Mezvinsky, the son-in-law of Hillary and Bill Clinton, closed in December, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Eaglevale, based in New York, is in the process of returning money to clients, said the person who asked not to be named because the firm is private. Eaglevale was started by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. traders Bennett Grau, Mark Mallon and Mezvinsky in 2011.” [Bloomberg]
“Kevin Warsh is a contender for Federal Reserve Chair” by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa: “He’s young, he’s Republican and he was seen a key steward of the Federal Reserve’s financial crisis, Chairman Ben Bernanke’s right-hand man. It’s only natural that the name of Kevin Warsh, ex-Fed governor and now a fellow at the Hoover Institution, would come up as a potential replacement to Janet Yellen, whose term expires at the end of January 2018.” [BusinessInsider] • Warsh is married to Jane Lauder, daughter of Jo Carole Lauder and Ronald Lauder
PROFILE: “Nasdaq’s Black Belt CEO on IPOs, Unicorns, and Roundhouse Kicks” by Michael Regan: “The Roland Park Country School is just a few miles—but worlds away—from the hardscrabble streets of Baltimore that The Wire made famous. Yet this all-girls prep school was where Adena Friedman learned a lesson that’s helped her thrive in the historically all-boys club located on one of the meanest streets there is for smart, ambitious women like her: Wall Street. “You can be anything,” she recalls her teachers telling her. And it was something about financial markets that captivated young Friedman’s imagination when she visited her dad at T. Rowe Price, long before Take Our Daughters to Work Day was a thing. After business school, Friedman landed an internship at Nasdaq and, except for a two-year stint at Carlyle Group, she’s been there ever since. In January she became chief executive officer.” [Bloomberg]
“Rahm Emanuel: Too many Dems care more about being right than winning” by Kim Janssen: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel has warned Democrats they need to “take a chill pill” and realize that they are not going to take back national power anytime soon. “It ain’t gonna happen in 2018,” Emanuel said Monday at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in California. “Take a chill pill, man. You gotta be in this for the long haul.” As he did last month at an event in Washington, D.C., the mayor expanded on what he believes is the road map back to power for his party — putting moderate candidates such as veterans, football players, sheriffs and business people up in Republican districts, picking battles with Republicans, exploiting wedges within the GOP and fighting attempts to redistrict Congress on partisan grounds.”
“But this time he didn’t hold back on his frustration with some of his fellow Democrats. “Winning’s everything,” he said. “If you don’t win, you can’t make the public policy. I say that because it is hard for people in our party to accept that principle. Sometimes, you’ve just got to win, OK? Our party likes to be right, even if they lose.” He added, “I don’t go to moral victory speeches. I can’t stand them. I’ve never lost an election. It’s about winning, because if you win you then have the power to go do what has to get done.” [ChicagoTribune]
HOLLYWOOD: “Ari & Patrick Get Political As WME | IMG Forms PAC” by Dominic Patten: “When you represented the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host who is now the President of the United States and your Chicago Mayor brother was Chief of Staff to the previous POTUS, politics is never really at arm’s length. Now WME | IMG bosses Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell have decided to put their money in the arena. “In the coming weeks, you will hear more from us about this,” it adds and lists: The formation of a federal political action committee (PAC) in the U.S. • Convening internal and external forums with politicians and allied stakeholders • Connecting our clients with elected officials • Introducing company-wide matching policies to support donations of time and money • Developing actionable public policy solutions” [Deadline]
“Discovery’s Unabomber Drama Adds Brian D’Arcy James, Elizabeth Reaser” by Kate Stanhope: “Reaser will play the role of Ellie, the wife of Jim Fitzgerald (Sam Worthington), the FBI agent who deployed a radical approach to intelligence gathering to take down Kaczynski. The actress, best known for the Twilight films, Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife, is repped by UTA and Stone Genow.” [THR] • Natalie Portman Teaches Hebrew Slang [VanityFair]
SCENE YESTERDAY IN NYC — Masa Israel Journey hosted a panel yesterday featuring representatives from Israeli start-ups with a presence in New York, including WeWork and Playbuzz. Among those in attendance were Guy Franklin, founder of “Israeli Mapped in NY,” an interactive map of Israeli start-ups in New York; Shaul Olmert; Co-founder and CEO of Playbuzz; Shachar Orren, VP of Content at Playbuzz; Jonathan Poor of Startupbootcamp FinTech; Gal Sela of WeWork; Adi Hila Yoffe, Director of Business Development at Masa Isral Journey; Adi Barel, Director of International Business Development at Masa Israel Journey; and Meara Razon Ashtivker, COO at Masa Israel Journey.
SPORTS BLINK: “Patriots Owner Invites Ezra Schwartz’s Family as His VIP Guests To Super Bowl” by Eddie Dvir: “Ezra Schwarz’s aunt, Rachel Deri, reached out to OS News with this amazing message of Hakarat Hatov… “Robert Kraft invited my sis and her fam to the superbowl. He called and invited them as vip guests… flights included. My sis is Ezra Schwartz’s mom. As you prob remember he was shot and murdered last yr in Gush Etzion.. What a nice gesture of Robert Kraft… What a mensch…and a good neshama… What a great turn-around and win for Kraft’s Patriots…bc of his mitzvahs and good heart!”” [OnlySimchas]
“With their abysmal on-court record, the Philadelphia 76ers have decided to pivot — to investing in startups” by Andrew Zaleski: “The Sixers’ fling with startups traces back to a conversation about high-IQ office furniture. In 2011, a nine-person group, including several prominent financiers, bought the Sixers for $280 million. The new owners installed Scott O’Neil as the new CEO. He’s the kind of guy who runs an inter-organization pickup league that hoops at 6:30 in the morning. O’Neil faced an immediate problem: New deals weren’t rolling in for the victory-challenged Sixers. As O’Neil puts it, “On the court the last three years, we won 45 or some-odd games. Partners weren’t ringing us because of the incredible interest in a winning team.” So to attract new lines of business, he cast a wide net.” [BackChannel]
“MMA fighter Jared Cannonier explains why he holds up Jewish prayer shawl after victories” by Ariel Helwani: “I’m not Jewish. I don’t put any title on my belief system. I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The talit is what I use as a tool to remind me that God is my father, that I follow his commandments, and it helps me keep myself in check.” [MMAFighting]
BIRTHDAYS: Grammy Award winning songwriter Barry Mann (born Barry Imberman) turns 78… Economist and a professor at Columbia University, Nobel laureate in Economics in 2001, Joseph Stiglitz turns 74… Two-time Tony Award and two-time Emmy Award winning actress, Judith Light turns 68… Professor of history and modern Jewish studies at UCSD since 2004, has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Hebrew U, Tel Aviv U and the University of Haifa, Deborah Hertz turns 68… Israeli singer mostly in the Mizrahi music tradition, who has released over 30 albums, Shimi Tavori (born Shimshon Tawili) turns 64… Australian billionaire, philanthropist and owner of a series of mineral and energy companies, Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart turns 63… Chair of the DNC (2001-2005), Chair of two Clinton presidential campaigns (Bill’s in 1996, Hillary’s in 2008), now Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a/k/a ‘the macker,’ turns 60… Theoretical physics professor at Columbia University since 1996, author of multiple books written for the general public such as “Icarus at the Edge of Time,” Brian Greene turns 54… Managing Director of Tiedemann Wealth Management, Jeffrey L. Zlot turns 46… Television and film actress, born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) in the Soviet Union (now Russian Federation), living in the US since 1991, Margarita Levieva turns 37… Deputy Director of Congressional Relations at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Boris Zilberman turns 33… Israeli-Arab teenager who, in 2014, was forced to go into hiding after he publicly expressed support for Zionism and the State of Israel, Muhammad Zoabi turns 20… Isaac Lieberman… Rafael Regla…
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TOP TALKER: “House Republicans Avoid Voting on a Resolution Stating That the Holocaust Targeted Jews” by Osita Nwanevu: “House Republicans blocked a resolution advanced by Democrats on Tuesday declaring that Jews were the primary victims of the Holocaust… The resolution… condemned the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement… It also called for the House to reiterate “the indisputable fact that the Nazi regime targeted the Jewish people in its perpetration of the Holocaust,” condemn Holocaust denialism, and demand acknowledgment from the White House that Jews were targeted.” [Slate; DCExaminer]
TRIPLE DOWN: “WH official: We’ll say ‘fake news’ until media realizes attitude of attacking the President is wrong” by Chris Massie: “
Florida Dem donor Andrew Weinstein emails us: “What we’re witnessing now is a combination of malevolence and incompetence never before seen from any previous administration. At a time when Jewish community centers are being targeted with bomb threats and New York City subway cars are littered with anti-Semitic graffiti, the Trump administration’s decision to intentionally omit any mention of the Jewish people in a Holocaust Remembrance Day statement is uniquely egregious… While I can only speculate about what would motivate this sort of behavior, there’s something deeply troubling about a White House that expends more energy attacking the Jewish community than it ever did disavowing David Duke.”
TRUMP TUMULT: “Leaks Suggest Trump’s Own Team Is Alarmed By His Conduct” by S.V. Date and Christina Wilkie: “I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council. “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.” … To Cohen… the problem is not the leakers. It’s the president. Because Trump has shown no true affection or respect for anyone outside his immediate family, Cohen said, he cannot expect that of his staff. “This is what happens when you have a narcissist as president.” [HuffPost]
“In 2012 interviews, Steve Bannon compared protesters on the left to the Nazi Brownshirts” by Andrew Kaczynski: “The Occupy movement is really a combination of the internet, the media, and street thugs. Right? It’s a weapon of intimidation,” Bannon said in September 2012. “It is the moral equivalent today of the Brownshirts of the 1930s. It’s going to be used as a weapon of intimidation.” [CNN]
INBOX — ZOA’s Mort Klein Urges House Minority Leader Pelosi to Retract ‘Slander’ Against Stephen Bannon: “We are thus deeply disappointed that Congresswoman Pelosi repeatedly defamed presidential advisor and National Security Council member Stephen Bannon on February 2, 2017 by wrongly and falsely calling him a “white supremacist.” … Mr. Bannon also hired and worked closely with persons of every race and creed at Breitbart (gay, straight, white, black, Orthodox Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc., etc.), again confirming that he is definitively not a “white supremacist.””
President-in-law: ‘”A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax” by John Schwartz: “James Baker is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president, and Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, as well as Ivanka Trump.” [NYTimes] • Read the Shultz-Baker Op-Ed here [WSJ]
SCENE YESTERDAY: The Hudson Institute hosted a policy luncheon featuring a conversation between Peter Thiel and Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, at the University Club in NYC. The typically strict private social club allowed a tieless Thiel to break a house rule that states “gentleman members and guests are required to wear jackets, dress shirts and ties.” The off-the-record discussion focused heavily on transparency in politics brought about by technology.
SPOTTED: Rupert Murdoch, Sarah May Stern, Terry Kassel, Ken Bialkin, Joshua Landes, Dan Senor, Bret Stephens, Walter Russell Mead, John Walters, Daria Tarasova, Lewis ’Scooter’ Libby, Hillel Fradkin, Heather Higgins, Lana Volftsun, Benjamin Haddad, Jasper Goldberg, Henry Zieve Cohen, and Allison Lee Pillinger Choi.
“Ivanka Trump oversaw Murdoch daughter’s trust” by Christopher Matthews: “Ivanka Trump stepped down on December 28th from a five-person board that oversees a $300 million trust owned by Rupert Murdoch’s youngest daughters, the Financial Times reports. The FT says that Trump had been on the board for several years, going back before her father’s presidential campaign. Why it matters: The news illustrates the close relationship between the Trumps and the Murdochs, a relationship that could have wide implications for Corporate America.” [Axios; FT]
INTERVIEW — former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spoke to JI’s Aaron Magid about the U.S.-Israel relationship and shared his views on the developing relationship between Netanyahu and President Trump, the appointment of David Friedman as his successor, and the new administration’s Middle East policy.
Q: How will the Trump-Netanyahu relationship impact US support for Israel among non-Trump voters?
Shapiro: “One of the things President Obama always placed a high priority on when he was President was maintaining a bipartisan support for Israel and that at times meant making it clear to members of his own party that his support for Israel and its security and our commitment to Israel was sacrosanct, even during periods of disagreement so I think that a similar commitment by the new administration to maintaining bipartisan support for Israel is a healthy one for the US-Israel relationship… I hope very much that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu will bear that in mind as they conduct a relationship, it’s important to find ways of inclusion for all constituencies in support of the US-Israel relationship.”
Q: How did you interpret Netanyahu’s tweet supporting Trump’s wall on America’s Mexican border?
Shapiro: “It surprised me that he chose to weigh in publicly on an issue that was very divisive and controversial even in a partisan sense in the US, including with some key constituencies that he does care about including Latinos and maybe other progressives. It suggested to me that there was some pressure placed on the Israeli government to provide support for that aspect of President Trump’s agenda and since there’s no direct Israeli interest in US policy on our southern border, I found that surprising.”
Q: The Trump Administration introduced a list 78 terror attacks that were under-reported. Were you surprised that Israel was omitted from this list?
Shapiro: “I think if one were to make a list of terrorist attacks that didn’t get much attention outside of the immediate area where they occurred, it would be hard not to include attacks against Israelis on that list because there have been quite a number that have received scant attention outside of Israel. I think some of the other attacks listed on that list have indeed received a lot more coverage than some of the ones in Israel.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
ON THE HILL: “Cardin: No Delay in Friedman’s Confirmation Hearing” by Aaron Magid: “Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) denied a Ynet report on Tuesday that the confirmation process for David Friedman, President Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel, has been stalled for political purposes. When asked if lawmakers were delaying his confirmation, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Jewish Insider, “Not at all. None the least. We still have not gotten all of the material that is required before we can move forward.”” [JewishInsider]
“US tight-lipped as Israel settler law sparks world outrage” by Laurent Lozano: “Washington refused direct comment, in stark contrast to the settlement criticism repeatedly voiced under Barack Obama. “Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu will be here on February 15. I don’t want to get ahead of that now,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said… Human Rights Watch said the legislation “reflects Israel’s manifest disregard of international law”. “The Trump administration cannot shield them from the scrutiny of the International Criminal Court,” HRW warned.” [Yahoo]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Iran scorns Trump, rebuffs U.S. warning on missiles” by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin: “When asked about Khamenei’s comments on Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Iran must recognize that the United States is under new leadership. “This president is not going to sit by and let Iran flout its violations or apparent violations to the joint agreement,” Spicer said at a briefing. “I think Iran is kidding itself if they don’t realize there’s a new president in town.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would not renegotiate the nuclear deal… “I believe Trump will push for renegotiation. But Iran and European countries will not accept that,” Zarif told Tuesday’s edition of Ettelaat daily. “We will have difficult days ahead.”” [Reuters]
“Iran pulls missile from launchpad after apparent prep for launch, US officials say” by Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin: “New satellite imagery from Feb. 3, obtained exclusively by Fox News from ImageSat International and verified by U.S. officials, showed Iran preparing a Safir for launch. That missile is the type Iran has previously used to put a satellite into space… In a surprising about face, Fox News learned Tuesday morning that Iran’s missile had been removed from the launchpad. It was not immediately clear why…” [FoxNews]
“White House Weighs Terrorist Designation for Muslim Brotherhood” by Peter Baker: “The proposal to declare it a terrorist organization has been paired with a plan to similarly designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to current and former officials briefed on the deliberations… The Iran part of the plan has strong support within the White House, but momentum behind the Muslim Brotherhood proposal seems to have slowed in recent days amid objections from career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council, who argue that there is no legal basis for it and that it could alienate allies in the region. Former officials said that they had been told the order would be signed on Monday, but that it had now been put off at least until next week… In his short time in office, Mr. Trump has already come under pressure from Arab allies eager for such a designation.” [NYTimes; Reuters]
KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: It was a bright, sunny day today in Jerusalem, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to enjoy the great winter weather with a publicized outdoor stroll. He invited Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon to join him for a plate of Hummus on a Jerusalem street and invited the whole country to watch, broadcasting about eight minutes on Facebook Live. Netanyahu has been gradually expanding his use of the Live tool, regularly updating his followers about the day’s news (from his perspective, at least). Netanyahu explained to his Facebook viewers that he wanted to celebrate a year of a successful economy, but the event and live broadcast suggest that Netanyahu is clearly grasping to secure his popularity and divert the discourse from focusing on the several criminal investigations currently underway.
Last night, Channel 2’s Amit Segal presented Netanyahu’s defense in what is considered the most serious probe so far, commonly referred to as “file 1000.” According to the report, Netanyahu told the police “he didn’t know” of the gifts Arnon Milchan gave to his wife Sara Netanyahu, and was also “unaware” of the price and total of the cigars he allegedly received from Milchan himself. Legally, this may assist Netanyahu in the future decision on indictment by the Attorney General. But publicly, many noted Netanyahu’s shift. After weeks of insisting “There is nothing because there was nothing,” he moved to “I didn’t know.”
Netanyahu’s upcoming meeting with President Trump is another chance to dominate the headlines and distract from the scandalous reports about him and his criminal investigations. As a senior cabinet minister told Kafe Knesset: “Trump is exactly what Netanyahu needs right now because he can truly present himself as the right person and the right time and the right place to deal with the new president.” But Netanyahu is facing right-wing pressure to return home with a dramatic change of policy from Trump… the pro-settler faction in the Likud party has started to gather signatures for a petition calling on Netanyahu to denounce his support for the two-state solution during his upcoming visit to the United States. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset[JewishInsider]
“The Teenagers Pushing Israel to the Right” by Naomi Zeveloff: “Last December, the teenagers were crestfallen when Amona’s leaders agreed to peacefully evacuate the settlement for a new West Bank site… The disillusionment spread among Amona’s young supporters, fueling their protest. More loyal to the land than to institutions, these teen activists represent a potent and growing political force. Even though many of these activists are too young to vote, they shape Israeli politics, pulling it incrementally rightward with each highly publicized protest… In other parts of the world, wandering teens might find themselves experimenting with drugs or alcohol. In the West Bank, ideology is the substance of choice. Broadly speaking, these teens, often referred to as hilltop youth, see as hypocritical Israel’s self-identification as a Jewish and democratic state.” [TheAtlantic]
“What Jordan’s King told Trump” by Shlomi Eldar: “According to the Palestinian source, when the Palestinians discovered that Abdullah was scheduled to meet Trump in Washington during the traditional National Prayer Breakfast event, Abbas made a special trip to Amman. There he asked the king to pass on a message of reconciliation to Trump… According to the source, “In the short time he had before the Hilton event, in his pleasant manner, and with well-reasoned explanations, King Abdullah reviewed with Trump the dangers of Israel’s unrestrained [settlement] policy. Abdullah explained that this policy is likely to lead to unwelcome flare-ups [in the region].” .. According to the source, Trump listened to Abdullah but did not explicitly commit himself to taking any action.” [Al-Monitor]
“Israel targeted under law passed to help 9/11 families sue Saudis” by Nahal Toosi: “In a 103-page complaint filed Feb. 1, attorney Martin F. McMahon alleges that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as U.S. charities tied to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s Israel ambassador pick David Friedman, are complicit in war crimes against Palestinians because of their financial support for settlement activity in the West Bank. The suit could bolster critics of the Saudi-targeted law, who warned U.S. lawmakers that the statute opened the door to legal claims that ultimately could drag U.S. officials into court, even on flimsy grounds.” [Politico]
Rand Paul — “Do not let Elliott Abrams anywhere near the State Department: I hope against hope that the rumors are wrong and that President Donald Trump will not open the State Department door to the neocons. Crack the door to admit Elliott Abrams and the neocons will scurry in by the hundreds… These are the same people who think we must blow up half the Middle East, then rebuild it and police it for decades. They’re wrong and they should not be given a voice in this administration.” [Rare]
DNC WATCH: “Keith Ellison Is Everything Republicans Thought Obama Was” by Tim Murphy: “Michael Olenick, a Jewish student who clashed with Ellison and who was the opinions editor at the Daily, recalled Ellison maintaining that an oppressed group could not be racist toward Jews because Jews were themselves oppressors. “European white Jews are trying to oppress minorities all over the world,” Olenick remembers Ellison arguing. “Keith would go on all the time about ‘Jewish slave traders.'” Another Jewish student active in progressive politics recalled Ellison’s incredulous response to the controversy over Zionism. “What are you afraid of?” Ellison asked. “Do you think black nationalists are gonna get power and hurt Jews?”
“Ellison labored to show Jewish progressives he’d turned a page. He picked up the endorsement of the American Jewish World, the Twin Cities-based newspaper, and he addressed voters’ concerns about Farrakhan at the state’s largest synagogue… Choosing Ellison to lead the Democratic Party would be a gamble… It might alienate a small but influential faction of Democratic leaders, such as Haim Saban. (At a debate featuring DNC candidates in January, Ellison said he and Saban had spoken and “we’re on the road to recovery.”)” [MotherJones; Mediaite]
** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
MEDIA WATCH: “Times Names Wall Street Journal Editor to Its Masthead” by Sydney Amber: “Rebecca Blumenstein, deputy editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, has been named a deputy managing editor of The New York Times, one of the top leadership positions at the newspaper. Ms. Blumenstein will become one of the highest-ranking women in The Times’s newsroom. In a note to the staff announcing the appointment on Tuesday, Dean Baquet, the executive editor, and Joe Kahn, the managing editor, said that Ms. Blumenstein, 50, would help the newsroom “do all the big things we intend to do in 2017 and beyond.”” [NYTimes]
“Meredith, Bronfman Move Forward in Effort to Acquire Time Inc.” by Jeffrey Trachtenberg: “Meredith, which publishes such magazines as Family Circle, Shape and Better Homes & Gardens, in recent days signed a nondisclosure agreement with Time Inc. and is expected in coming weeks to get a look at some of the company’s data and meet with its senior management, one of the people said. The group led by [Edgar] Bronfman and Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, whose earlier overtures to Time Inc. were rejected, has also signed a nondisclosure agreement and has already met with senior Time Inc. executives, one of the people said.” [WSJ]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “The Babylonian Talmud Is Now Available For Free Online in English and Hebrew” by Yair Rosenberg: “Sefaria, an online non-profit bringing traditional Jewish texts to the internet, announced that it will be posting the entire compendium with the crisp bilingual translation of Jerusalem polymath Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Yisrael… Both translations will be available to anyone with an internet connection, thanks to a grant from the William Davidson Foundation. Sefaria has already posted the Talmud’s first 22 tractates in English; the rest, along with the modern Hebrew translations, will be rolling out through 2017.” [Tablet; Sefaria]
“Viral rabbi captures hearts of online ‘congregation’ via social media” by Lisa Klug: “While Americans are still digesting the presidential inauguration, the new administration, and the Women’s Marches across the country, one of their brethren is putting his focus elsewhere. With a wardrobe of onesies, an infectious smile and unbridled enthusiasm, Meir Kay is a 21st-century badchan, a hasid-turned-jester with millions of views on social media. Kay grew up in Connecticut and attended Chabad Lubavitch yeshivas in Miami, Florida; Manchester, England; Postville, Iowa; and Singapore, where he received rabbinical ordination. He first gained widespread traction in September 2014 with his high-spirited video “High Five New York,” which has drawn more than 2.3 million views.” [ToI] • Watch Kay’s latest viral video: “Not Your Typical Super Bowl Party” [Facebook]
BIRTHDAYS: Boston attorney and author, whose 2013 book on Jews and baseball was turned into the 2016 play “Swing, Schmendrick, Swing,” Larry Ruttman turns 86… Broadcast journalist, best known as the anchor of ABC’s Nightline from its inception in 1980 until his retirement in late 2005, five-time Emmy Award winner, Ted Koppel (born Edward James Martin Koppel) turns 77… Stand-up comedian, singer and actor (stage, television and film), Robert Klein turns 75… Columbus, Ohio born attorney and president of Schottenstein Legal Services, James M. Schottenstein turns 70… Graduate of Harvard Law School with an MBA from Stanford, active private investor and business operator, Marc Abramowitz turns 64… Rebecca Sugar, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Mosaic United… Senior Director of Kehilla Affiliations and Operations for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Barry S. Mael turns 59… British businessman and chairman of the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur since 2001, Daniel Levy turns 55… Attorney, rabbi and New Jersey political consultant, Benjamin G. Kelsen turns 45… Popular Israeli musician, singer and songwriter, released five albums between 1997 and 2013, three of which followed his becoming a baal teshuva in 2004, Eviatar Banai turns 44… Former Deputy Assistant to the President Obama for Energy and Climate Change, now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Heather Zichal turns 41 (h/t Playbook)… Professional ice hockey center, has been under contract with five NHL teams including the Islanders, Lightning, Penguins, Maple Leafs and Predators, Trevor Smith turns 32… Canadian jazz-pop singer-songwriter, who performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Nicole “Nikki” Yanofsky turns 23… Attorney Advisor / Assistant Counsel to the Inspector General at US Small Business Administration, Adam Kaplan (h/t Playbook)…
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TOP TALKER: “A Quiet Giant of Investing Weighs In on Trump” by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “A private letter he wrote to his investors a little over two weeks ago about investing during the age of President Trump… has quietly become the most sought-after reading material on Wall Street… In his letter, Seth Klarman sets forth a countervailing view to the euphoria that has buoyed the stock market since Mr. Trump took office, describing “perilously high valuations.” “Exuberant investors have focused on the potential benefits of stimulative tax cuts, while mostly ignoring the risks from America-first protectionism and the erection of new trade barriers,” he wrote… “The big picture for investors is this: Trump is high volatility, and investors generally abhor volatility and shun uncertainty,” he wrote. “Not only is Trump shockingly unpredictable, he’s apparently deliberately so; he says it’s part of his plan.” … Mr. Klarman is a registered independent and has given money to politicians from both parties.” [NYTimes]
DRIVING THE DAY: “Trump sizes up a critic for high-level State Department job,” by Michael Crowley: “President Donald Trump is close to tapping a longtime critic as the No. 2 official at the State Department, a move that would reassure foreign policy elites worried about a lack of diplomatic expertise at high levels in Trump’s administration. Trump will meet on Tuesday with Elliott Abrams, a former National Security Council and State Department official in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations… Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who favors Abrams for the job, will also attend the meeting. Abrams’s appointment has been on hold for weeks as White House officials, led by chief strategist Steve Bannon, reviewed his past criticism of Trump to determine whether he could be trusted.” [Politico]
“Trump’s Neocon?” by David A. Graham: “Matt Waxman, a former Bush administration State Department official… wrote that Abrams could be a strong asset to the administration. “Secretary Tillerson needs a strong #2 who knows the State Department and the interagency process, as well as the Washington and global diplomacy arenas,” Waxman said. “Elliott is masterful at working the levers in all of them.”” [TheAtlantic]
Robert Costa: “Senator Paul will oppose the nomination of Elliott Abrams to the No. 2 spot at State, per a senior aide close to Paul.” [Twitter]
President-in-law: “EU to Discuss Mideast Peace With Trump Officials” by Julian E. Barnes and Felicia Schwartz: “The European Union’s foreign-policy chief will head to Washington this week for meetings with the Trump administration on the Israel-Palestinian peace process… [Federica] Mogherini is set to arrive on Thursday and is scheduled to meet at the White House with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and Mike Flynn, national security adviser. Mr. Trump said has said Mr. Kushner will be his envoy to try to help negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” [WSJ] • China Courts Ivanka, Jared Kushner to Smooth Ties With Trump [Bloomberg]
“Jared as Trump Whisperer? How a hoary cliche can’t be good for the Jews” by Ron Kampeas: “Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO-emeritus, sees a sinister side to the elevation of the Trump-Kushners to figures of overweening influence made unavailable because of a Jewish ritual. “It’s about Jews controlling, in this case Orthodox Jews,” he said in an interview. “It’s disturbing, and sinister. What this comes down to is that if they didn’t observe the Sabbath, the immigration executive order wouldn’t have happened.” I asked him if he thought there was sinister intent, and Foxman said no, but that was not the point: The default of the Controlling Jew never ends well for them. “Ultimately, it blames the Jews for what goes on in the White House,” he said.” [JTA]
“White House offers list of terrorist attacks the press took lightly” by Rebecca Morin and David Cohen: “Oddly, the list includes no attacks in Israel, despite a spate of knife attacks in 2015-16 that were meant to terrorize the population.” [Politico]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” by Jay Solomon: “Mr. Trump and his advisers have made clear since assuming office that constraining Iran would be among their top priorities. They have also privately acknowledged there is no certainty the Kremlin will cooperate… The Trump administration’s show of force has raised concerns that the U.S. and Iran could stumble into a military conflict. But officials close to the Trump administration said they believed the White House could gain the respect of the Kremlin if it showed a commitment to enforcing its warnings to other governments.” [WSJ]
“Kremlin says it disagrees with Trump’s assessment of Iran” by Maria Tsvetkova: “”Russia has friendly partner-like relations with Iran, we cooperate on a wide range of issues, value our trade ties, and hope to develop them further,” said [Kremlin spokesman Dmitry] Peskov.” [Reuters]
“Pence Warns Iran to ‘Think Twice’ Before Testing Trump Administration” by Conor Finnegan: “Iran would do well not to test the resolve of this new president,” Pence said on “This Week” Sunday, adding that Iran should “think twice about their continued hostile and belligerent actions.” … Asked how the U.S. would respond to another provocation, Pence answered that the “president said everything’s on the table” — including military action… [George] Stephanopoulos pressed Pence on the administration’s policy toward Iran. “The president and I and our administration think it was a terrible deal,” the vice president said. “We’re evaluating [what to do next] as we speak.” [ABCNews] • McConnell: fate of Iran deal up to Trump [CNN]
“Netanyahu calls on ‘responsible nations’ to sanction Iran” by Angela Dewan: ”That’s why I welcome President Trump’s insistence on new sanctions against Iran. I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations, and I’d like to talk to you about how we can ensure Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered.” [CNN]
“May refuses Netanyahu’s call to impose new sanctions on Iran” by Patrick Wintour: “Following the meeting, May’s official spokeswoman said that the PM had “made clear that we support the deal on nuclear that was agreed… We also need to be alert to Iran’s pattern of destabilizing activity in the region.”” [Guardian]
INTERVIEW — Tzachi Hanegbi, a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Minister of Regional Cooperation, spoke with Jewish Insider‘s Aaron Magid about the Iran deal, settlement construction and recent legislation to defund the United Nations. With police investigations against the Israeli premier for alleged corruption intensifying, Ma’ariv and Al-Monitor columnist Ben Caspit wrote on Sunday that Netanyahu would likely select Hanegbi as his replacement if he were forced to step down.
Q: Last week you said, ‘Nobody, I think, in Israel is really calling for tearing the JCPOA agreement (Iran deal) apart.’ Why is this the case?
Hanegbi: “Because it is not realistic since it’s not only an American-Iranian agreement. It’s an agreement that was signed by the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and it was adopted by the United Nations and the European Union and by most countries in the world. The US can withdraw from the agreement, but it is not going to make the agreement disappear or be torn apart. So that is not a realistic demand.”
Q: In response to the UN Security Council vote in December critical of Israel, should the US cut off all of its assistance to the international body?
Hanegbi: “I feel that it is not going to be wise on my part to give suggestions to the United States what is the right way to repair the devastating damage that was done with this resolution. There are several ways to repair it. Not all of them are militant. Some of them can be through diplomacy. We know the target: to make this resolution disappear. How to do it? As I said, there are various options.”
Q: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build 3,000 settlement homes in the West Bank in addition to 2,500 units last week. Do you see this new construction surge in response to the new Trump presidency?
Hanegbi: “I really don’t know why it was announced. I remember many protests of the last administration so I am sure there were several occasions of such announcements. I don’t know why they were in week one [of the Trump admin] but I think that the administration understands that the way to go forward is to advance the negotiations and go back to discussing the issues. Once you have the solution, and you have final arrangements and two states for two people solution, there are no settlements anymore. There is a border and there is Palestine and Israel. This is a major understanding of the current administration.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
“Does Trump Actually Want to Succeed?” by Susan B. Glasser: “[James A. Baker]’s advice… don’t act as “Israel’s lawyer” … He also… argued that Israel is risking its future by building more settlements. “We have allies that are just scared to death,” he notes, as a result of Trump’s early rhetoric and unpredictable foreign policy… Baker… tells me he has also given his advice directly to Trump, Tillerson and Trump’s new chief of staff Reince Priebus. And presumably also Vice President Mike Pence, who was seated next to Baker at [Sunday] night’s Super Bowl in Houston.” [Politico]
Baker on Jerusalem embassy: “If that happens, it’s going to make it a heck of a lot harder to even think about negotiating a peace deal, not to mention what the fallout will be in other countries in the region that would be opposed to that type of a move.” [Politico]
COMING SOON: According to Jon Ralston, “In one of his first major speeches outside DC, VP Pence will be in Vegas in late Feb. to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition.”
TRUMP TUMULT — “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, occupies a central role in the administration and has been present at most major decisions and photo ops, but he is a father of young children who has taken to life in Washington, and, along with his wife, Ivanka Trump, has already been spotted at events around town. Mr. Bannon has rushed into the vacuum, telling allies that he and Mr. Miller have a brief window in which to push through their vision of Mr. Trump’s economic nationalism.” [NYTimes] • ‘We’ll do better’: Trump’s White House tries to gain a sense of order amid missteps [WashPost]
“How Stephen Miller’s Rise Explains the Trump White House” by Rosie Gray: “Leaks out of the administration have also been unflattering to Miller… “They’re totally outmaneuvering him in the press,” the source close to Miller said. “I think he feels totally under assault. He’s not politically astute, he’s not ready for this.” But in an interview, Miller batted down the idea that he’s in conflict with Priebus and his allies… Miller came onboard the Trump campaign early on, before any primary votes had been cast, and rose quickly. But in an environment like Trump-world, where anyone who outshines the principal is at risk, that might not be the safest position.” [TheAtlantic]
PROFILE: “Becoming Steve Bannon’s Bannon” by Andrew Marant: “When [Julia] Hahn wrote for Breitbart, her primary beats were immigration and the perfidy of Republicans who, in her view, sold out American interests—especially the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan… William Sims, one of Hahn’s close friends, said, “She loved having intellectual debates and challenging assumptions, her own included. We didn’t talk primarily about politics, but I would say that she was never a by-the-book liberal—I think people just looked at her, saw this very sweet Jewish girl from California, and made assumptions.”” [NewYorker] • “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican” [NYT]
“Pro-Trump group hacked, website taken down in Cabinet fight” by Tom LoBianco: “The 45 Committee — a PAC started by mega-donors Todd Ricketts and Sheldon Adelson — released a new ad pushing Trump’s Cabinet picks this week… But the group was forced to take down its site after hackers got in and re-labeled some videos — a spot pushing Tom Price for Health and Human Services secretary was re-named “Steve Bannon is a White Supremacist” and the spot supporting Sen. Jeff Sessions was dubbed “Sessions is Deemed Too Racist to be a Federal Judge.”” [CNN]
“Appointment of US ambassador to Israel delayed over political concerns” by Alex Fishman and Orly Azoulay: “David Friedman’s appointment as the US Ambassador to Israel has yet to be confirmed reportedly due to Republican concerns regarding Friedman’s rejection of the longstanding “two states for two peoples” solution.” [Ynet]
“Israel Passes Provocative Law to Retroactively Legalize Settlements” by Ian Fisher:“The vote on Monday, which passed, 60 to 52, retroactively legalized several thousand housing units in 16 settlements on about 2,000 acres of Palestinian-owned land. The law provides for compensation to Palestinian landowners… Mr. Netanyahu and the right — some allies, some opponents — have taken into account that they have more leeway under President Trump than under President Barack Obama, who regularly condemned settlement building.” [NYTimes] • Netanyahu trapped between right-wing settlement law, US president [Al-Monitor]
—“The [Trump] administration needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward,” a State Department official told AFP on condition of anonymity.” [AFP]
KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Three months after the controversial land appropriation bill was approved in its first legislation stage, the Knesset finalized the law and passed it in its 2nd and 3rd reading last night. While many right-wing politicians – led by Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett – opened champagne bottles celebrating their achievement, Netanyahu was high in the sky on his way back home from the UK and his first meeting with PM May. Netanyahu didn’t get a chance to celebrate his successful visit to London, but also didn’t take part in his coalition’s festivities. Some in the Knesset corridors speculated that his absence was not just a flight schedule coincidence.
Netanyahu never went on the record against the bill, but his discontent with it is one of the best-known secrets in the cabinet. For weeks he has been trying to stall this bill from advancing… First, he argued using the “Obama card,” warning the bill would prompt a last-minute UN move, which it did. Then he used the Trump card, asking for time to consult with the new administration. Even this Sunday, Netanyahu tried to convince Bennett to wait until after his first White House meeting next week. But Bennett didn’t budge. “Our determination paid off,” he said last night after the vote. The bill is now likely to be disqualified by the Supreme Court, and Jewish Home MKs are already planning new legislation that will bypass the court’s verdict. But for Bennett and his comrades, the achievement is the pill for sweetening last week’s Amona evacuation.
Kafe Knesset asked Netanyahu during his London briefing for his response to the White House omitting any Jewish reference on their International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. Netanyahu tried to evade a clear answer, stating only that “the question will be raised during the visit, and I am sure it will receive a clear answer.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]
“How Israelis See the Settlements” by Yossi Klein Halevi: “Although the settlements tend to be regarded by the international community as an undifferentiated entity, the discourse about them in Israel is very different. For Israelis who support a two-state solution, settlements fall into two broad categories: those within so-called settlement blocs, close to the pre-1967 border and likely to remain a part of Israel in a final agreement, and those outside the blocs, which Israel would probably evacuate as part of a peace deal… Depending on how one draws the map, more than three-quarters of the settler population lives in blocs likely to be kept by Israel under an agreement. The blocs plan gives hope to supporters of a two-state solution that settlement-building hasn’t yet reached the point of no return.” [WSJ]
** Good Tuesday 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: Disney CEO Robert Iger May Extend Tenure Again [WSJ] • Billionaires Paul Tudor Jones and Michael Dell Ensnared by ‘Hamilton’ Scam [Bloomberg] • Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital hires Obama’s Director of Product Josh Miller to focus on tech for the underprivileged [TC] • Blau, Macklowe and Schrager talk developer’s role in shaping the future of NYC [RealDeal]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “New York Commuters Unite To Remove Anti-Semitic Graffiti On Subway” by Mark Hanrahan: “Gregory Locke, 27, an attorney from Harlem… found swastikas and other graffiti on every window, door and advertising display. Slogans were also written across the carriage… “The train was silent as everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do,” Locke said in a Facebook post. “One guy got up and said, ‘Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.’ He found some tissues and got to work.” Locke told NBC News that his fellow passengers then began looking for hand sanitizer, while others started wiping off the graffiti, which was gone before the train made it as far as Lincoln Center at 66th Street.” [NBCNews]
“Five myths about anti-Semitism” by Yair Rosenberg: “Most bigotries debilitate their targets while empowering their disseminators, much like slavery and redlining enriched America’s white majority at the expense of its African American minority. Many successful societies have been built atop prejudices. Anti-Semitism, however, is a unique case — and uniquely corrosive to those societies that embrace it. That’s because it often takes the form of a conspiracy theory about how the world works. By blaming real problems on imagined Jewish culprits, anti-Semitism prevents societies from rationally solving them.” [WashPost]
Renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor wins prestigious Genesis Prize: “British-Indian sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor has been named this year’s winner of the prestigious Genesis Prize for commitment to Israel and Judaism. Kapoor, whose large works of art are landmarks in cities worldwide, was born in 1954 in Mumbai to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother. He moved to Israel as a teenager, and has been based in Britain since the 1970s… Kapoor announced he would use his $1 million award, and the global platform provided by the Genesis Prize, to help alleviate the refugee crisis and try to expand the Jewish community’s engagement in global efforts to support refugees.” [IsraelHayom]
SPORTS BLINK: “Julian Edelman’s ‘miracle’ catch leads to Super Bowl victory” by Daniel Sugarman: “Julian Edelman, who has a Jewish father and identifies as Jewish, managed to evade three Atlanta Falcons players and catch the incoming ball just centimeters off the ground. By completing the pass towards the end of the game in Houston last night, the Patriots player helped his team to go on and score, tying the game at 28 each and marking the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history… Both the Patriots and the Falcons have Jewish owners, with the former owned by Robert Kraft and Arthur Blank, the co-founder of Home Depot DIY chain.” [TheJC] • Robert Kraft hopes Trump can help retrieve Super Bowl ring Putin pilfered [WashPost]
NFL players head to Israel to meet locals, visit religious sites: “The delegation of 12 — Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker, Michael Kendricks, Cameron Jordan, Kenny Stills, Calais Campbell, Carlos Hyde, Dan Williams, Justin Forsett, and ESPN commentator and former linebacker Kirk Morrison — will visit Rambam hospital in Haifa, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and the Black Hebrew community in the southern city of Dimona, according to a statement.” [ToI]
BIRTHDAYS: Milwaukee-born businessman, former US Senator from Wisconsin (1989-2013), former owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Herb Kohl turns 82… and also born in Milwaukee on the same date 16 years later, Senior Rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis (2012-2015), Baruch Frydman-Kohl turns 66… Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2010, previously the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (1988-2010), Robyn Gabel turns 64… American businessman and investor arrested in Bolivia in July 2011 and held for 18 months without charges, freed through public outcry and the efforts of Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher turns 58… Actor, humorist, comedian and writer known for his Saturday Night Live “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer and voice behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Robert Smigel turns 57… Rabbi, director of congregational learning at Har Shalom in Potomac, MD and author of Jewish children’s books and teen novels, Deborah Bodin Cohen turns 49… VP of marketing and communications at trade show manager Hargrove, Inc., previously a VP/MD at at Qorvis MSLGROUP and a producer at ABC, NBC, CBS and Discovery Channel, Jennifer DiamondHaber turns 48… MLB pitcher since 2005, has played for the Rangers, Cubs, Orioles, Astros and Blue Jays, signed to a one-year deal in 1-2017 by the Reds, Scott Feldman turns 34… Executive Director of the Aviv Foundation Adam Simon… Associate Director of Development at Chicago’s Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School Rachael Fenton… Rabbi, spokesman and director of public relations for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, director of its website Chabad[dot]org, Zalman Shmotkin (h/t Motti Seligson)… Senior Research Manager at Lieberman Research Worldwide, Jonathan Weiss… David Israel… Rick Wice… Michael Harris… Carol Mulrooney…
BIRTHWEEK (Sunday and Monday): Founding Rabbi of The New Shul in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village (1999-2010), author or editor of ten books, now living in Chicago, Niles Elliot Goldstein turns 51… President and COO of American Signature, the parent company of Value City Furniture, Jonathan Schottenstein turns 35… VP of Public Affairs at Teach For All in DC, after living in China for seven years (2006-2013), Sarabeth Berman turns 33… Israeli golfer on the LPGA Tour, resident of Caesarea, competed for Israel in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Laetitia Beck turns 25… 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… Former Senior Advisor to Ambassador Ron Dermer (2013-2015) and spokesman and speechwriter for Israel’s Ministry of Defense (2011-2013), now a political and communications consultant, Joshua Hantman…
Author, journalist, activist and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan turns 62… Los Angeles attorney specializing in criminal and civil appeals, author of an amicus brief for members of Congress in the Jerusalem passport case of Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, Paul Kujawsky turns 60… Long-time foreign correspondent for NPR in many capitals including Jerusalem, author of the NYT-bestseller “The Geography of Bliss,” Eric Weiner turns 54… Television and film actress, writer and producer, best known for her role as Pepper in the FX series “American Horror Story,” Naomi Grossman turns 42… Israeli-French singer-songwriter whose hit single “New Soul” was used by Apple in a 2008 advertising campaign for its MacBook Air, Yael Naim turns 39… AIPAC’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Political Director, Stephen Knable turns 36… Cantor of Congregation Hugat Haverim in Glendale California, Harvey Lee Block… Bill Levine… Steven I. Weiss… Rosalyn Kaplan… Yadin Koschitzky…
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