Daily Kickoff: Is RJC united behind or torn over Trump? | Norm Coleman interview | Jeff Goldberg’s Manischewitz Radio Hour | WeWork’s new valuation


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BIG DEAL: “SoftBank set to invest more than $3 billion in Adam Neumann’s WeWork” by Brian Sullivan: “The investment being discussed is a $2 billion primary tranche of funding, followed by a secondary round worth more than $1 billion. SoftBank may increase the size of the secondary investment to nearly $2 billion, the source said, for a total investment of nearly $4 billion in the shared space real estate startup. For WeWork insiders, there is a tender offer on the table at around $44.10 per internal share. If the deal closes, WeWork would be valued at more than $20 billion. The most recent investment into WeWork valued the New York-based company at about $17 billion. In December, Masayoshi Son, the Japanese billionaire who control SoftBank, promised Donald Trump he would invest $50 billion in the United States.” [CNBC; TechCrunch]

NEW THIS MORNING — ‘Manischewitz Radio Hour’ — how Jeffrey Goldberg describes his appearance on David Axelrod’s podcast The Axe Files. Describing his upbringing, Goldberg tells Axelrod: “My whole upbringing was shaped by the fact that the Italian-Irish contingent where I grew up didn’t have much feelings for Jews. But it was black kids – actually a couple of black friends back in middle school – who taught me how to fight and that was an interesting experience. But what it did was — this notion of Jews being created by anti-Semitism in a kind of way, and I think it’s partially true. It’s not very pleasant, but it’s partially true in my case where when people outside are telling you you’re different and you’re bad – in many cases as a young person, I think you flee Judaism, you flee Jewishness, or you sort of embrace it and say what is this thing. And so, when I went to Israel for the first time as a 13-year-old for my Bar Mitzvah, something clicked and I said this is interesting – a Jewish-majority state, a powerful place, Star of David on tanks. You know, if you are a powerless kid, you cotton to this.” [CNN]

FROM THE WEEKEND: “In new era, Jewish Republican group is loyal to Trump above all else” by Theodore Schleifer: “Perhaps most tellingly, top Jewish Republican donors showed little eagerness to blame Trump for occasionally crossing them, such as when he slow-walked acknowledging the anti-Semitism behind the Holocaust this month or the recent threats at Jewish community sites this week. “You get that with the package,” said top GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler, who chalked up those controversies to mere political naïveté. “We’ve got a new president. We want him to win. We’re here to support him.” … And besides, on their signature issue, Israel — donor after donor said — Trump couldn’t align with them better. That trumps all. “The idea that he didn’t happen to say the right word, or the word that somebody was looking for,” said Marc Goldman, an influential RJC donor from Florida, “it doesn’t to me change anything about where he’s coming from.” [CNN]

ALTERNATIVE VIEW: “Jewish Republicans torn over Trump” by Alex Isenstadt: “At a closed-door session on Friday, Beverly Hills homemaker Elissa Czuker, who contributed $50,000 to elect Trump during the closing days of the campaign, questioned whether it was appropriate that some board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition had publicly called out the new GOP president. Others, including Florida dental insurance executive Jeffrey Feingold, pushed back on the idea of silencing Trump’s critics… Others fretted that Trump’s unpredictable temperament will thwart his efforts to reach a peace accord. “People are worried that he’s a loose cannon,” said one attendee. “There’s a real concern that he could slide off the edge.”

— “Behind the scenes, the White House is taking steps to win over Republican Jews, a small but influential group. It has enlisted the 83-year-old Adelson… as an unofficial adviser. Two senior Trump aides, Jared Kushner and Stephen Bannon, have been holding regular and detailed conversations with Adelson about Israel… Kushner… has been in touch with RJC executive director Matt Brooks about a variety of issues… Also visiting the White House recently was Sara Bloomfield, the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She met for breakfast with Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn, who has been identified as the Trump aide who wrote the much-criticized Holocaust statement.” [Politico

“Pence Says U.S. ‘Assessing’ Move of American Embassy in Israel” by John McCormick: “The president I know will be an unabashed advocate for a stronger Israel-American relationship,” Pence said Friday evening at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “We are also reviewing additional steps to demonstrate America’s support, including assessing whether the American embassy in Israel should be relocated.” [BloombergReuters] • Pence, addressing Jewish Republicans, condemns rash of anti-Semitic vandalism [PoliticoJewishJournal]  

INTERVIEW – Former Senator Norman Coleman, who was appointed as RJC Chair, spoke with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh about his new role as Chairman and the RJC’s relationship with the Trump Administration. “The sad reality is that support for Israel which has always been a strongly bipartisan issue, that dynamic is changing,” Coleman explained. “A recent poll showed that a very significant portion of the Democratic Party’s base no longer supports Israel, and that is disheartening. But it’s a time of opportunity for Jews who care about the U.S.-Israel relationship to vote Republican. One of my goals is to expand the reach and the scope of the RJC. I would hope that there are disenfranchised Democrats who look at what Obama did on his way out of office, his last slap in the face of Israel by not vetoing the UNSC resolution, I would think that these folks would find a home in the Republican Jewish Coalition. There’s also a great opportunity in 2018 with 10 Democratic Senators running in states that Trump won to actually increase the Republican majority in the Senate and maintain a majority in the House. I just think that this is an exciting time for the RJC and a moment of opportunity.”

Coleman on Trump’s response to the rise of anti-Semitism: “The fact is that anti-Semitism has been rising in this country a long time — the BDS movement, anti-Semitism on college campuses, equating Zionism with racism. That has been a plague that has impacted us for a long time. All of a sudden, the media is discovering it now with the Trump presidency. I find that rather ironic… I do think that the media is continuously looking for ways to try to put the Administration at odds with the Jewish community. They are looking to create a conflict there.”

Q: Is the RJC prepared to call out Trump again in the future like it did with the Holocaust statement?

Coleman: “I think it’s very reasonable for the RJC to note that from a Jewish perspective it was an oversight not to mention Jews in the Holocaust statement. We do that as a friend of the Administration. There’s nothing unusual about that. That fact is that the Jewish presence in the White House is more than a minyan. We have no doubt that that on the key issues, on the issue of Israel, that this is a president who is deeply and firmly committed to supporting the Jewish state.” Read the full interview [JewishInsider]

“How Trump Split Conservatives Three Ways” by Tevi Troy: “Conservatives who backed Trump before the election are like people who bought a penny stock before it went big… Others are quieter not out of any concerns about Trump, but because they’ve either landed administration jobs or are hoping to… Since the inauguration, though, there have been several tough attacks on Trump from the right… Looking ahead, this group, especially the Cohen wing, is making a bet that Trumpism will recede… If Trumpism were not to recede, Cohen and others like him – including Wehner, Max Boot, and Bret Stephens – are effectively saying that they would not be part of a Trump-infused conservative movement in the future… The Safe Spacers are not comfortable with everything Trump does, but are choosing to direct their fire at the media and the left… Whichever group wins over conservatism will likely dominate the Republican party for the foreseeable future.” [Politico

“New DNC chair wants to make Ellison ‘the face of the Democratic Party’” by Allison Sherry: “In an interview Sunday, Perez said he had big plans for Ellison as his deputy, including letting him run point on the party’s grass roots organizing efforts… Perez also noted he wanted to make Ellison the “face of the Democratic Party.” “He’s such an eloquent spokesperson,” Perez said. “We need many faces of the Democratic Party and so I think we’re incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to create the synergies that together allows us to do what we need to do.” [StarTribune

“Keith Ellison’s supporters say Israel attacks helped sink his DNC bid” by Jeff Stein: “In the final 36 hours, the Ellison campaign spent significant resources combating an 11th-hour smear campaign that was sending targeted emails to Jewish DNC members,” texted an official on the Ellison campaign… “Oh, absolutely it hurt him: It’s what they used against him,” said Jean Ross, of National Nurses United… Eric Bauman is the vice chair of the California Democratic Party, and was a pro-Ellison advocate. A self-described “observant, pro-Israel Jew,” Bauman said he spent much of his time in the last six weeks responding to questions from constituents worried about Ellison’s history on Israel.” [Vox

Reaction from Perez supporters — Norman Eisen tells us: “Tom will make a great DNC chair. He is an old friend and colleague, and I was honored to help introduce him to leading members of our community from coast to coast. Like me, they were impressed with his vision for the party and with his strong support for Israel, where he has visited, gaining a firsthand appreciation of the security challenges.”

Ann Lewis: “The Democratic Party has now elected a Chair who talks about being in the Golan, and seeing Israel’s security needs for himself – while continuing to oppose Donald Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-women, anti-LGBT policies. That’s why most American Jews will continue to be at home in the Democratic Party — the party that honors our values and welcomes our children. All our children.”

ZOA’s Morton Klein‏: “Dershowitz promised quitting Democratic Party if anti-Semite Keith Ellison became DNC Chair – will he quit now that Ellison is Deputy Chair?” [Twitter

HEARD YESTERDAY — at the J Street National Conference in Washington DC, Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a national co-chair of the 2012 Obama reelection campaign, urged liberal Jewish organizations to choose a diplomatic response to the new administration’s policies on the Middle East. “In this current status of five or six weeks into this presidency, it’s important to try to give the Administration some room to find its way to try and to work with the administration and encourage them to work with Israelis and the Israeli government,” he explained. “Therefore, I would say, outward criticism on those issues, if I were in leadership would be premature at this point.”

“At J Street, a Debate Over David Friedman’s Role” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Alon Pinkas, former Israeli Consul General to New York, asserted that despite the outspoken rhetoric, Friedman serving as Ambassador “means nothing.” Pinkas added, “He (Friedman) is not going to drive policy. He is going to do what he is being told. It is along the lines of the changing role of the Ambassador.” However, Ilan Goldenberg emphasized that Friedman’s role could likely change in a Trump presidency. “Trump seems to operate more based on terms of personal relationships and he has a personal relationship with Friedman. It is much tighter than the personal relationship he seems to have with Rex Tillerson so who is going to be driving policy is a little unclear.” [JewishInsider• Jewish Federation Head Voices Support for David Friedman as U.S. Envoy to Israel [Haaretz]

SCENE SATURDAY NIGHT — “Press pool left in darkness as Trump dines at his hotel” by Rebecca Morin: “Trump was pictured sitting with his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, a senior adviser, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Brexit movement, among others, according to a tweet by Benny Johnson, reporter for Independent Journal Review, who happened to be at the Trump International Hotel.” [Politico] • Also spotted at dinner: Reed Cordish

“Inside Trump’s Secret Dinner: A Side of the President You Don’t Ever See” by Benny Johnson: “The President gets up and walks across the restaurant to his Secretary of State’s table. The President kisses Tillerson’s wife Renda, and he and Tillerson make small talk. They laugh and speak jovially for a few minutes as dinner guests who had been sitting next to Tillerson look on in stunned amazement.” [IJR

Paparazzo — Jared pictured with his brother Josh Kushner enjoying a Saturday stroll [DailyMail

At the Oscars: “Karlie Kloss is also wearing an ACLU ribbon” by Emily Yahr: “This is notable if only because Kloss is dating investor Josh Kushner, brother of Jared Kushner, also known as President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.” [WashPost]

TRUMP ERA: “Sources: U.S. considers quitting U.N. Human Rights Council” by Nahal Toosi And Eliana Johnson: “A final decision on membership in the council would likely involve Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and of course the president himself. A former State Department official briefed on the discussions said while the council’s targeting of Israel is likely part of the debate, there also are questions about its roster of members and doubts about its usefulness overall.” [Politico

“Trump proposal for terrorist listing of Iran Revolutionary Guard in limbo: sources” by John Walcott and Matt Spetalnick: “The proposal has been in the works for weeks, and was originally expected to be rolled out this month. But while the idea remains under consideration, it is unclear when – or even if – an announcement might be forthcoming… “That move could potentially backfire” in Iran’s domestic politics, too, said one of the officials. “The Iranians are a major source of trouble … but those kind of moves would only help the hardliners” in Iran… In addition, said another of the officials, adding the IRGC to the terrorist list would cause friction with U.S. European allies, who in the wake of the 2015 nuclear agreement are trying to rebuild business ties to Iran.” [Reuters

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Israeli intelligence minister says Trump created a new path to peace” by Ruth Eglash: “Israeli Minister of Intelligence Israel Katz[‘s] plan, which he says has been adopted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is regional and multilayered. The creation of a Palestinian state or at least an autonomous, demilitarized entity will come by default at the tail end… Katz said this point and others made recently by the new U.S. administration has made clear that Trump will allow Israel to find its own solution, in its own time. Trump, he said, has opened up the playing field for peace.” [WashPost

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: The contentious State Comptroller’s report about the 2014 Gaza operation is due to be published tomorrow. The report is slated to harshly criticize Netanyahu, his former defense minister Yaalon and the IDF top brass for their inadequate preparations for the 51 day operation in Gaza. The report will also shed light on the flawed decision-making process in the security cabinet. All of this has been at the top of the headlines for days, and was the talk of the Knesset today, leading all of the faction meetings. The only one who kept silent was the Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennet, who is likely to be dubbed as the great winner of the report, as the Comptroller adopts Bennet’s case against Netanyahu and Yaalon.

Netanyahu, back from a week-long tour of Australia and Singapore, opened the Likud meeting brushing off the criticism. “when one enters the cabinet he must leave the cell phones outside, as well as petty politics and personal interests. No cabinet in history was as informed as this cabinet during Protective Edge. The most important lessons are not in the report, and I – unlike the Comptroller – back and support the IDF Command.” Earlier today, Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to publicly acknowledge that he was wrong and made mistakes. “The report is professional and profound, but also difficult and severe. Even after the Shin Bet and IDF intelligence emphasized to the PM that the tunnel threat has become a strategic threat, Netanyahu did not bring the issue to the cabinet or give the IDF the right directives to deal with it. The army did the right thing and started to amend the mistakes the day after the war started but the political echelon, and especially the PM did exactly the opposite.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“H.R. McMaster Breaks With Administration on Views of Islam” by Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt: “The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.” [NYTimes• Jake Tapper: “McMaster vs. Bannon is going to be an interesting dynamic to watch.” [Twitter]

“U.S. detains and nearly deports French Jewish historian” by James McAuley:On Wednesday, [Henry] Rousso landed from Paris at Houston’s George Bush International Airport after an 11-hour flight, en route to Texas A&M University in College Station… Rousso — an Egyptian-born French citizen — was “mistakenly detained” by U.S. immigration authorities, according to Richard Golsan, director of the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M. The university then sprang into action, the Eagle reported, with President Michael Young reaching out to law professor Fatma Marouf… [who] quickly and successfully intervened with immigration authorities, and Rousso was released and allowed to deliver his lecture.” [WashPost; TheEagle• French Historian Says He Was Threatened With Deportation at Houston Airport [NYTimes

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump’s presidency: ‘We are not experiencing the best of times’” by Kristine Guerra: ““We’re not experiencing the best of times,” Ginsburg said Thursdayon BBC’s “Newsnight,” though she did not comment directly about the president… “Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things,” she added, citing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as an example.” [WashPost

“I’m a Silicon Valley liberal, and I traveled across the country to interview 100 Trump supporters — here’s what I learned” by Sam Altman: “What don’t you like about him? “He continually plays into a character that he has created to rile his fan base. Accepting anti-Semitism, white nationalism, or hate emanating unnecessarily creates a vacuum of fear on social media, on television, and around the dinner table. Even though the policies may be similar to that of any recent Republican president, the behavior to act so immaturely sets a bad example for children and undercuts many cultural norms, which more than anything causes disruption to our sociological foundations.”” [BI

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: White House Power Player Jared Kushner Is Keeping Parts of His Real Estate Empire [ProPublica• Noble Energy, partners move ahead with $3.75B project [BizJournals] • Air Force buys mysterious $15m Israeli ‘drone killer’ kits to fight DIY ISIS UAVs [DailyMail] • Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media [TheGuardian] • In Trump-CNN Battle, 2 Presidents Who Love a Spectacle [NYT]

“Some of the biggest names in the hedge fund industry are planning to invest in a hot new fund” by Rachael Levy: “Philippe Laffont, the founder of Coatue Management; Louis Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital; and Dan Loeb, the founder of Third Point, are planning to invest in Ben Melkman’s Light Sky Macro, a New York hedge fund that is set to launch March 1. Billionaire Steve Cohen, the founder of Point72 Asset Management, is also investing in the fund… The fund is expected to launch with at least $400 million.” [BI]

SCENE YESTERDAY — JFNA’s William Daroff received a national award recognizing his Jewish civic leadership at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) annual conference held at the Capital Hilton in DC. Prior to the awards dinner, Daroff moderated a panel with “the two Noahs” – RJC’a Noah Silverman and Noah Pollak on how the Jewish community should engage with the Trump Administration.

TALK OF THE NATION: “Another Jewish cemetery vandalized and again Muslims reach out to help” by Colby Itkowitz: On Sunday night, El-Messidi read the news of yet another vandalized Jewish cemetery. This time it hit closer to home, just miles from where he lives in Philadelphia. He called fellow Muslim activist, Linda Sarsour, and they agreed to use the fund to help with repairs and restoration. Then El-Messidi immediately drove to the cemetery to see how he could help. There he found a team of diverse people, including many local Muslims, at work doing their best to erect what he said were several hundred toppled headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in a neighborhood in the northeast part of the city. Police have said they counted about 100 overturned.” [WashPost]

HOLLYWOOD: “The minute-by-minute breakdown of the shocking ‘Moonlight’/‘La La Land’ best picture mix-up” by Emily Yahr: “In what was surely the most shocking moment in Oscars history, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for best picture at the end of the ceremony, awarding the trophy to “La La Land” when it actually was supposed to go to “Moonlight.” The “La La Land” team arrived on stage, and producers Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt delivered their speeches. All of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity behind them… “This is not a joke,” Platt interjected. “I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.” Confused gasps and stunned silence from the crowd quickly turned into a standing ovation.” [WashPost] • From Pikesville to ‘La La Land,’ producer Marc Platt sees a bright future for movie musicals [BaltimoreSun]

“Chris Martin Says Coldplay Will Not Perform Israeli-Palestinian Peace Concerts, Despite Rumors” by Colin Stutz: “Frontman Chris Martin squashed speculation with a Twitter post on Friday (Feb. 24), following unsubstantiated reports the band would be performing two concerts during this trip. In Martin’s post, he explained he and his bandmates are in region to “listen and learn and that’s all.” “We are just having an interesting and enlightening trip to learn about the area,” he continued.” [Billboard

MEDIA WATCH: “Fox News’ Israel Bureau Chief [Eli Fastman]: It’s ‘Insulting’ Trump Didn’t Tag Us as Enemy of the People” by Nir Gontarz: “I personally would not be opposed to Trump including us in that category of enemies of the people, but he didn’t do it… It’s very insulting. Because it says that we are a type of collaborator… No media body wants to be a collaborator of the government. But he made us the exception.” [Haaretz

DESSERT: “A Rabbi Strives to Make His Corner of Siberia Kosher Again” by Amie Ferris-Rotman: “The majority of Birobidzhan’s Jews grew to not observe most kosher rules… Rabbi [Eli] Riss, who peppers his speech with humor (“Even the local drunkards greet me with ‘Shalom’ ”), aims to encourage local Jews to embrace kosher practices as he does. His suitcases of food are for himself and his family. He wants his flock, too, to be able to eat kosher easily. “Once we get kosher food, it will be a Jewish heaven,” he said on an early December day… His synagogue is waiting to hear if its application to local authorities for a kosher food shop is successful. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, to which Rabbi Riss belongs, is financing the shop’s construction. Under the rabbi’s plan, frozen kosher goods such as beefsteaks and sour cream will travel in bulk to Birobidzhan from Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: Performance artist and film-maker, Eleanor Antin turns 82… Writer and illustrator of children’s books, Uri Shulevitz turns 82… Billionaire, investor, trader and philanthropist, Chair of Julliard, Vice Chair of Lincoln Center and on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera, Bruce Kovner turns 72… Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Alan Harvey Guth turns 70… Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Julia Neuberger turns 67… Film and television actor, now starring as FBI Agent Stan Beeman on the FX series “The Americans,” Noah Emmerich turns 52… VP of Education and Regional Operations at the Anti-Defamation League, David S. Waren turns 54… Singer-songwriter, composer and prayer leader, co-founder of NYC’s Kol Zimrah minyan, Sam Benjamin “Shir Yaakov” Feinstein-Feit turns 39… Massachusetts State Senator since 2015 and former Obama White House aide where he was one of the originators of the White House Seder, Eric Lesser turns 32 (h/t Playbook)… Grand”Pa” of Dov and Joe et al., Michael Gervis… Alana Berkowitz… Rebecca Sinderbrand (h/ts Playbook)… William Drykos… Judith Meyer… Lenore Wax

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Daily Kickoff: Republican Jews, Jewish Republicans differ on DNC race | Spotted at Sheldon’s home | After speaking out on Trump, Magerman suspended


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HEARD LAST NIGHT: “Adelson: Trump likely to be ‘best president for Israel ever'” by Theodore Schleifer: “Adelson declared Thursday evening that Donald Trump was likely to be “the best president for Israel ever” … Adelson made the remarks at his home on the eve of the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership conference… as Dick Cheney, the powerful Vice President in George W. Bush’s administration, sat among the audience munching on salmon and brisket. Adelson did not say that Trump was guaranteed to be better than the 43rd president.” [CNN]

SPOTTED at Sheldon’s: Sam Fox, Steve Wynn, Sen. Dean Heller, Rep. Ed Royce, Rep. Mia Love, Rep. Lee Zeldin, Rep. Devin Nunes, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, Lew Eisenberg, Yitz Applbaum, Phil Rosen, Fred Zeidman, Jay Zeidman, Ed Czuker, David Flaum, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Elliott Broidy, and Boris Epshteyn from the White House.

“Billionaire Adelson Reaps Benefits From Big Republican Donations” by John McCormick: “[VP Mike] Pence, who is scheduled to address the gathering Friday evening, is expected to assure RJC members that there’s no distance between the administration and the group’s goals… “Pence is probably the best person in the administration in terms of a combination of seniority and the way that Republican Jews see him,” said Tevi Troy, a policy adviser and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush’s White House. “There is still discomfort within the Republican Jewish ranks about Trump.” … The Vice President’s activities ahead of his RJC speech, which included a meeting with Netanyahu, a tour of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany and a visit to a suburban St. Louis Jewish cemetery damaged by vandals, have boosted his standing with the group.” [Bloomberg

“Zuckerberg group that fought Trump gave to transition” by Tony Romm and Theodoric Meyer: “At the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, the immigration reform group FWD[dot]us took aim at then-GOP candidate Donald Trump and blasted him for pursuing policies that might lead to “mass deportations.” But months later the nonprofit, founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote a $5,000 check to Trump’s presidential transition… Paul Singer, another top GOP donor who declined to back Trump, gave $5,000 to the transition. Singer also gave a significant contribution to the inaugural committee, though the disclosure is not public yet, according to a source familiar with the donation.” [Politico

“The contributor list also included well-known Republican political benefactors, such as Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. He and his relatives donated a total of $15,000.” [USAToday

DNC WATCH — “Tom Perez Gains Ground in Race for DNC Chair” by Eric Levitz: “Jaime Harrison began Thursday with a grip on third place in the race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee — and ended it by throwing his support to front-runner Tom Perez. Before Harrison bowed out, it was widely assumed that the DNC contest wouldn’t be settled on the first ballot… NBC News reports that Harrison could swing as many as 20 votes into Perez’s column — possibly enough for the former Labor secretary to secure the chairmanship on first ballot.” [NYMag

“‘Rebuilding’ efforts overshadow Jewish issues in DNC election” by Ron Kampeas: “The leading candidates are sensitive to the disproportionate importance of the Jewish community to the party. They have not forgotten Jewish outreach, even while campaigning on the nuts and bolts that are preoccupying the state officials, state-level party officials and special interest representatives who make up the 447 electors. No one is more acutely aware of the need to reassure the party’s Jewish base than Ellison… Fundraiser Barbara Goldberg Goldman and Susan Turnbull, a longtime Jewish community activist who backs Buttigieg, in interviews said they rejected insinuations that Ellison is anti-Semitic, but worried that his baggage could weigh down the party.” [JTA

Gabriel Debenedetti: “It’s telling that Chuck Schumer reiterated his support for Keith Ellison in a new letter to DNC members: he hadn’t weighed in since December.” [Twitter

REPUBLICAN JEWS VS JEWISH REPUBLICANS: Views On The DNC Race From CPAC — by Jacob Kornbluh: CPAC attendee Yitchok (Ian) Cummings, 24, from Linwood, NJ says that as a Republican Jew his partisanship doesn’t seep through when it comes to hoping Ellison wins the DNC Chairmanship. “I do think Keith Ellison’s anti-Israel views are dangerous. I think the fact that he’s such a powerful frontrunner for the DNC, is just indicative of the fact that the Democratic Party has moved to the far left and shifted on Israel,” Cummings told Jewish Insider. “So even as a partisan, while there’s some advantage to see Ellison leading the Democrats, it makes me sad as a Jew that we may not have a loyal opposition that we respect and can work with. Having someone like that leading the opposition is a shot across the bow, and it’s very difficult to have a relationship with an opposition that is headed by someone that has views that are so antithetical to Israel and American Jewry.”

Eric Golub from LA, a Trump supporter, had an opposite view. “Obviously as a Jew, I don’t want to see a Jew-hater get anywhere near the levers of power. As a Republican, I want the Democrats to have a complete whack job running their party,” said Golub, while waiting for Mike Pence to take the stage at the annual gathering. “Now, my Judaism always comes first but here is why I am going to make an exception in this case: the heads of the Party are not significant. It’s not like he’s the presidential or vice presidential candidate. The DNC and RNC chairs are symbolic figureheads. So if the Democrats want to have the worst of all worlds for them, that’s a win-win situation for Republicans.”

RJC’s Matt Brooks: “To my friends at DNC please please elect this man [Ellison] Chair!” [Twittter

Jeff Ballabon: “Politically, Republicans love the idea of Ellison at DNC; Jews, however, should be frightened over the further mainstreaming of a hater.” [Twitter]

Tevi Troy tells us: “I do not prefer to see Ellison elected. I think that both Israel and America are better off if we operate under the bipartisan consensus in favor of strong ties between the U.S. and Israel. It was unfortunate that Barack Obama moved away from that direction with his tough on Israel policy, and I would like to see both parties supportive of Israel in the future. That said, regardless of who wins the DNC race, I do worry about the direction of the Democratic party on the Israel issue.”

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Defending Trump, ex-envoy to US says nobody blamed Obama for leftist anti-Semitism” by Raphael Ahren: “Obviously there is problem with anti-Semitism and we have to take it seriously,” said Michael Oren… “But there is anti-Semitism on the left, and nobody blamed Obama for that. During my time in Washington [as Israeli ambassador], I never encountered right-wing anti-Semitism, but I experienced a lot of anti-Semitism, mainly on campuses.” Just as Obama should not be blamed for these incidents, Trump cannot be blamed for the current wave of attacks apparently inspired by right-wing ideologies, he argued.

“While he himself does not agree with the White House explanation (on Holocaust statement)… Oren said he would not “go out and criticize” the new administration…. Obama, early in his first term, indicated that Israel was created because of the Holocaust, Oren recalled. “This was a problematic narrative, because it basically denies Jewish history. But we didn’t make a big deal about it. It was a new administration and we had important things to discuss.” It took Obama several years before publicly setting the record straight, when in a speech to the UN he talked about the millennia-old Jewish roots in the Land of Israel, Oren said. “Let’s give Trump that same opportunity [to correct mistakes] and not jump at every little thing he says.” [ToI

Alan Solow emails us: “The reason nobody blamed Obama for anti-Semitism, which admittedly exists across the board politically, is that President Obama consistently condemned anti-Semitism throughout his career including during his June, 2009 Cairo speech. That distinguishes him from the approach President Trump took until earlier this week.”

“Have We Gone Overboard With Anti-Semitism?” by David Suissa: “So, here’s the question: If we’re the most liked group in America, why are we not acting like it? The truth is, hating Jews in America will marginalize you with the mainstream, not make you popular. But in this crazy media landscape we’re in, any moron with a spray can can slap a swastika on the side of a synagogue and take over the national conversation — if we let him. As much as I hate that swastika, I also don’t want to give that moron iconic status or the power to frighten our community.” [JewishJournal

HEARD YESTERDAY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new actions to combat hate crimes and anti-Semitism across New York State after meeting with some 50 Jewish community and interfaith leaders at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The measures include a $25 million grant program for additional security training needs, cameras, and other related needs to boost safety and security at religious schools and daycare centers. The state will also expand its toll-free hotline to include text message capability to report incidents of bias and discrimination. “New York is blessed to have more Jewish people in New York than any other place outside of Israel. Yes, I am a New Yorker. But I am Jewish… When you attack a Jewish Community Center, you attack me, and you attack each and every one of us,” Cuomo said. [YouTube

–SPOTTED: Bob Cohen, Abe Foxman, George Klein, ADL’s Evan Bernstein, JCRC’s Charlie Temmel, Agudath Israel’s Chaim David Zweibel, Sol Werdiger, Chaskel Bennett, OU’s Allen Fagin and Maury Litwack, UJA’s Hindy Poupko and Linda Mirels, Albany JCC’s Adam Chassin, Canarsie JCC’s David Sorkin, Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Rabbi Marc Schneier.

“I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House” by Rumana Ahmed: “Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens. I lasted eight days… On Monday, January 23, I walked into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with the new staffers there. Rather than the excitement I encountered when I first came to the White House under Obama, the new staff looked at me with a cold surprise… The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing.“ [TheAtlantic

BACK TO TWO STATES? Trump in an interview with Reuters: “I like the concept of the two-state solution. People have been talking about it for so many years now, it so far hasn’t worked. But I am satisfied with whatever makes both parties happy.” [Reuters

KFILE — “Trump Israel ambassador pick bragged of removing two-state solution from GOP platform at November event” by Andrew Kaczynski: “In the speech delivered in his hometown of Woodmere, NY… [David] Friedman boasted of removing references of the two-state solution and occupation of the West Bank from the Republican Party platform… He also attacked two Jewish organizations, J-Street and the ADL. “What the ADL has become is not the Anti-Defamation League, it’s the league to combat anti-liberalism,” Friedman said. “The ADL has a wonderful long legacy, primarly under Abe Foxman, who I disagreed with but who certainly knew anti-Semitism when he saw it. The ADL is now run by a guy named Jonathan Greenblatt who is strong supporter of J-Street and they’ve lost all credibility.” At another point in the speech, Friedman falsely asserted that the J-Street board was “more than half Arab… they are a dangerous, dangerous organization.” … Friedman said… “The liberal Jewish community has not been a friend, not been a pro-Israel force in this country.” [CNN

President-in-law: “Kushner, Ivanka Trump Pushed to Remove Words Critical of Climate Deal From Executive Order” by Amy Harder and Peter Nicholas: “[Jared] Kushner, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, and Ms. Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, intervened to strike language about the climate deal from an earlier draft of the executive order…  One official said that both Mr. Kushner and [Ivanka] Trump have been considered a moderating influence with respect to the White House’s position on climate change and environmental issues. The move is the latest sign of influence Mr. Trump’s daughter and Mr. Kushner have in a White House that has seen internal divisions on a variety of issues, including foreign policy.” [WSJ

“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ivanka?” by Margin Cogan: “Most women’s magazines agree that one thing has changed: They cannot continue to cover Ivanka as if she is solely a fashion mogul, or even a glamorous nonpolitical member of the first family. “We’ve covered Ivanka Trump, the entrepreneur,” explains Riza Cruz, executive editor of Marie Claire. “Since she’s stepped away from the day-to-day of her company, we would consider how her new role affects women across the country and around the world.”” [PoliticoMag]

“Eric Trump’s brother-in-law gets job at the Department of Energy” by Daniel Halper: “Eric Trump’s brother-in-law — who once competed for the title of “hottest bachelor” in Washington D.C. — has landed a job at the Department of Energy. Kyle Yunaska is working on the “beachhead” team at the Energy Department, as its incoming head — former Texas governor Rick Perry — awaits Senate confirmation. Yunaska, an East Carolina University alumnus and brother of Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, has no apparent background in energy or policy, but is reportedly working with the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.” [NYPost; Axios]
“Pence takes victory lap at CPAC: ‘This is our time’” by Max Greenwood: “Pence also voiced support for Israel, vowing that Trump would “stand with” the Jewish state. “Israel’s fight is our fight. Her cause is our cause. Her values are our values,” Pence said to rising applause. “And under President Trump, America will stand with Israel.”” [TheHill

“Steve Bannon: Trump is ‘maniacally focused’ on executing promises” by David Smith: “Dan Cassino, a political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said… “I think we are seeing Bannon’s influence in Israel policy: the idea we have to support a militarily strong Israel and the coexistence in the Oslo process for two decades needs to be thrown out. That tells us he has a lot of influence and he wasn’t kidding about this.”” [Guardian

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Netanyahu Graft Affair: Israel Police Wanted to Question Kerry and ex-U.S. Envoy but Were Blocked by AG” by Gidi Weitz: “Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit objected to having police question former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in the investigation known as Case 1000, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of methodically accepting gifts from tycoon Arnon Milchan… Mendelblit told Justice Ministry officials that taking testimony from senior people in the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who had tense relations with Netanyahu, was very sensitive and might not even be necessary for building a case.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: For years, politicians have been complaining about the Netanyahu-Israel Hayom connection, and several probes have been launched into the claim that the pro-Netanyahu daily is an illegal political contribution. Before the last election, the Likud submitted a written affidavit in which it declared Netanyahu had no connection to Israel Hayom whatsoever. But the Noni tapes reveal that Netanyahu was negotiating the commercial aspects of the newspaper with its biggest rival. Moreover, Mozes has supposedly passed on even more evidence proving Netanyahu was involved in the newspaper. According to Abramovich, the State Comptroller now believes there are grounds to prove that Israel Hayom is an illegal political contribution and is requesting the investigation materials, but the Attorney General is refusing to do so until the police probe is concluded. The Netanyahu-Noni tapes hardly interest the wider public, but for politicians and journalists this is the hottest potato around, so the saga continues.

The State Comptroller Yosef Shapira was personally vetted by the PM and his wife and was originally expected to be a Netanyahu “yes man” but Shapira has turned out to be quite independent and is giving the PM quite a hard time. Next week, Shapira will be publishing the loaded report about Operation Protective Edge, which is expected to criticize Netanyahu’s decision-making process ahead of the war and also re-spark the intensive political fight inside the security cabinet. On one side of the arena are Netanyahu and his former Defense Minister Yaalon, and on the other side, Naftali Bennet, who has accused them of not informing the cabinet about the terror tunnel threat. Shapira is expected to accept Bennet’s version of the events. The report is likely to be attacked by the PM who once appointed Shapira so gladly. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“Netanyahu, Former Aide Maneuver for Position in Israel” by Rory Jones: “The political tug of war between Mr. Netanyahu, who has won election to three consecutive terms but has been weakened by corruption probes, and Mr. Bennett, a former aide who now leads a different political party, has become a central feature of the Middle East peace process.” [WSJ]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel’s Wix buys DeviantArt for $36 million, raises revenue outlook [Reuters• Why Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is staffing up the $3.8 billion company with Intel and Salesforce veterans to fight Microsoft [Yahoo• Alan Howard Said to Create New Brevan Fund Managed Only by Him [Bloomberg] • Why Westfield’s Steven Lowy bought from Apple in a shopping centre [AFR] • How Mark Cuban Hangs Onto His Money [NYTimes

TOP TALKER — Cover of today’s WSJ B1: “Orthodox Jewish Hedge Fund Exec Suspended Without Pay for Publicly Criticizing His Trump Mega-Donor Boss” by Yair Rosenberg: “David Magerman, an Orthodox Jewish computer scientist who helped write the trading systems that made the legendary Renaissance Technologies a billion-dollar investment success, was at loggerheads with its CEO Robert Mercer… The story of his dispute with Mercer was quickly picked up by other business publications… But by this afternoon, the Journal had appended an update to its original piece: ‘On Thursday morning, after an online version of this story appeared, Mr. Magerman received a new phone call from Renaissance. A representative told Mr. Magerman that he was being suspended without pay and no longer could have contact with the company.’” [Tablet; WSJ

–We’re told this wouldn’t be the first time Magerman has left Renaissance… but he’s apparently so essential to their business model that last time they begged him to return and he agreed albeit mostly working remotely from Philadelphia. No word yet on how this episode will play out.

SPOTLIGHT: “Waymo sues Uber and [Israeli founded] Otto for theft of trade secrets” by Darrell Etherington: “In its complaint, Waymo says that it developed a “combination of unique laser systems to provide critical information for the operation of fully self-driving vehicles,” which were taken by Otto founder Anthony Levandowski specifically, who was previously a manager working for Waymo. Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 “highly confidential and proprietary files” from Waymo prior to leaving the company… The Waymo suit cites Biz Carson reporting for Business Insider that Otto’s in-house development of its own LiDAR tech was key to its acquisition by Uber, and the suit also says that Levandowski and Otto gained more than half-a-billion dollars directly via the theft.” [TC] • An email fail made Google suspect Uber was copying its self-driving car technology [BI

“Credit Suisse Probe Opens Old Wounds” by John Letzing and Aruna Viswanatha: “The U.S. Justice Department in July 2014 discovered that American professor Dan Horsky was potentially hiding money overseas in his Credit Suisse accounts managed by the bank’s Israel desk… Investigators are determining if other clients with dual Israeli citizenship also got help in concealing American tax obligations by using their Israeli or other personal documents, people familiar with the matter said…. Employees of the Israel desk believe Mr. Horsky surreptitiously recorded their colleagues on several occasions during his cooperation, on the phone and in person… Around the time [Romeo] Cerutti became roughly aware of what was going on, a senior manager at Credit Suisse’s Israel desk traveled to Israel to meet with Mr. Horsky… The senior manager and four other Credit Suisse employees from the Israel desk were later suspended by the bank, after it was fully briefed by the Justice Department on its probe last year.” [WSJ]

“How the elite network now: in remote locations out of the social media spotlight” by Tiffanie Darke: “I’ve been invited to Stream, a secret tech and media gathering, laid on by ad guru Martin Sorrell and his co-conspirator Yossi Vardi, the Israeli tech investor. Vardi calls it an ‘un-conference’, and if you wanted to pay to come, you couldn’t. This one, like a growing number of influential gatherings, is under the radar, offline and invite-only.” [Standard

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Israeli models hit the catwalk for Modest Fashion Day” by Eli Berlzon: “Forgoing the provocative and risque, a group of designers in Jerusalem on Thursdayheld Israel’s first major fashion show for Orthodox Jewish women, whose tradition requires they dress in conservative outfits. Hundreds of Orthodox women and fashionistas were in the audience for “Modest Fashion Day” as Israeli models hit the catwalk wearing long sleeves and dresses down to their ankles. “People are looking in our direction now to find that modest kind of look, which is very interesting to see,” said ultra-Orthodox stylist Miri Beillin.” [Reuters]

“Does Melania Trump Have A Twin? Meet Mira Tzur, First Lady’s Israeli Model Lookalike” by Janice Williams: “Mira Tzur is a former model who has now launched a new career as a Trump impersonator alongside her President Donald Trump lookalike husband, New York actor John Di Domenico, according to a Miami Herald report Feb. 16. After gaining attention for features that strikingly resemble Melania Trump, Tzur said she’s managed to reach new heights in her career. The 45-year-old model, who has graced international runways and appeared in Advil, Neutrogena and various other commercial advertisements, said she charges $3,000 plus expenses to appear at private events dressed and acting like 46-year-old first lady.” [IBTimes]

TRANSITION: Yeruchim Silber, Executive Director of the Boro Park JCC, emails… “After much thoughtful deliberations, I decided to accept a new position as New York Director of Government Relations for Agudath Israel of America… In my new role, I will be joining a group of devoted advocates both professional and lay, working in Albany, City Hall and at other localities throughout the State advocating for the community.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Attorney General of Connecticut (1983-1989), US Senator (1989-2013), Democratic nominee for Vice President (on the Al Gore ticket) in the 2000 US presidential election, Senator Joe Lieberman turns 75… Founder of WhatsApp in 2009, sold the company to Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, Jan Koum turns 41… At age 42 he became the first-ever Jewish winner of an Olympic medal in sailing at the 1972 Munich Olympics, 30 years later at age 72 he won a US sailing championship, Don Cohan turns 87… Former chairman and CEO of Warner Bros (until 2001), then chairman and CEO of Yahoo (2001-2007), co-chair (emeritus) of the board of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Terry Semel turns 74… Moscow-born professor of mathematics at Yale University since 1991, Grigory Margulis turns 71… Rabbi and author of a book about chocolate and Judaism, has held a number of leadership positions in the national and regional Reform movement, Deborah R. Prinz turns 66… Public relations executive, television pundit, author and lecturer, Howard Bragman turns 61… Explorer, author, survival expert, anthropologist and TV host, Josh Bernstein turns 46… Professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of his books has been translated into 30 languages and his on-line course has had over 100,000 students, Yuval Noah Harari turns 41… Director of Investments at Strategic Cyber Ventures, Aaron Applbaum turns 26… Faye Waldman… Mitchell Brown… Program Associate in the Washington, D.C. office of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Mary Ann Weiss (yesterday)…

SATURDAY: Former talk show host, Sally Jessy Raphael (born Sally Lowenthal) turns 82… President of the Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore (1979-1986), then EVP of the UJA-Federation of New York (1986-1999), then first-ever CEO of United Jewish Communities, Stephen Solender turns 79… Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (2007-2011), Gabi Ashkenazi turns 63… Comedienne, actress and writer, Chelsea Joy Handler turns 42… Actress, comic book author, producer, singer and screenwriter, best known for her roles in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and Fox’s “Boston Public,” Rashida Jones turns 41… Lyla Rose Holdstein turns 35… Actor, writer and producer, best known for his portrayal of Malcolm’s second-oldest brother, Reese, in Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle, Justin Berfield turns 31… American figure skating champion, Max Aaron, turns 25… Graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, formerly CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (2005-2015), Steve Gutow… CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo since 2015 after a 20-year career at Hillel, Rob Goldberg… General manager of Covenant Wines in Berkeley, California, previously at at Larkmead Vineyard in Napa Valley, Sagie Kleinlerer… Michael Smith

SUNDAY: American sociologist now living in Israel, received a Ph.D. in sociology from The New School for Social Research, Professor Emeritus of sociology and Jewish studies at Rutgers University, Chaim Waxman turns 76… Billionaire, art collector, philanthropist and political activist, President of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, active in rebuilding Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe, Ronald Lauder turns 73… Singer and songwriter in multiple musical genres, who has sold over 75 million records, Michael Bolton turns 64… Baltimore community activist, previous Chair of CHANA (Counseling, Helpline and Aid Network for Abused Women), Julie Applebaum turns 60… Founder of Tablet Magazine in 2009 after being a a religion reporter and then arts and culture editor at The Forward, Alana Newhouse turns 41… Chief Planning Officer of the Paramus-based Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Lisa Harris Glass… Brett Kaufman turns 23… Chantal Reuss

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Daily Kickoff: David Magerman confronts boss over Trump support | Ellison clarifies past comments | NORPAC defends Menendez | Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish?


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WOW — Incredible Read: “‘You Have to Stop,’ Renaissance Executive David Magerman Tells Boss About Trump Support” by Gregory Zuckerman: “David Magerman says he was in his home office in suburban Philadelphia earlier this month when the phone rang. His boss, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was on the line. “I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist,” Mr. Mercer said. “That’s ridiculous.” … “Those weren’t my exact words,” Mr. Magerman said he told Mr. Mercer, stammering and then explaining his concerns about Mr. Trump’s policy positions, rhetoric and cabinet choices. “If what you’re doing is harming the country then you have to stop.”

“Until now, however, nobody within the tight-lipped hedge fund has gone public with a grievance. “His views show contempt for the social safety net that he doesn’t need, but many Americans do,” said Mr. Magerman, 48 years old, during an interview with The Wall Street Journal at the Dairy Café, a kosher restaurant he owns in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. “Now he’s using the money I helped him make to implement his worldview” by supporting Mr. Trump and encouraging that “government be shrunk down to the size of a pinhead.” Mr. Magerman, a 20-year Renaissance veteran who helped design the fund’s trading systems, says he is speaking only for himself, and that there is no sign of a broad insurrection at the firm.”

“Mr. Magerman makes millions of dollars a year, drives a Tesla and says he gives more than $10 million in charity annually. A research scientist, he is one of 100 partners at the firm, but he isn’t one of Renaissance’s most senior executives. “I’d like to think I’m speaking out in a way that won’t risk my job, but it’s very possible they could fire me,” he said. “My wife isn’t comfortable with me jeopardizing my job, but she realizes it’s my prerogative and agrees with my sentiments.” Mr. Magerman has one idea that would reduce the power of people like Mr. Mercer. He said he was thinking about reaching out to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to craft proposals to reduce speculative trading, which presumably would curtail Renaissance’s profits. “This is my life’s work—I ran a group that wrote the trading system they still use,” he said. “But I feel relieved I’m now doing something, and if they fire me, maybe it’s for the best.”” [WSJ]

–Flashback: “The Controversial David Magerman” by Simon Van Zuylen-Wood in September 2013: “Wealthy Main Liner David Magerman has given millions to Philadelphia’s Jewish community. The Jewish community is thankful. Sort of.” [PhillyMag]

DNC WATCH — Yesterday, at the final debate ahead of the election for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee taking place on Saturday, Rep. Keith Ellison addressed past comments, including praise for Louis Farrakhan, controversial views towards the Jewish community and his position on the U.S. – Israel relationship, that have caused many establishment Jewish Democrats to oppose his candidacy.

“These are false allegations,” Ellison said when asked about his past comments thirteen minutes into the live TV debate in Atlanta, “and that’s why I have 300 rabbis and Jewish community leaders who have signed a letter supporting me… I have a long, strong history of interfaith dialogue, interfaith communication, and that’s why in my own community, I have strong support from the Jewish community. So these are smears and we’re fighting back every day, but we’re fighting back with people who know us. I just want to say, it is critical that we speak up against this anti-Semitism because right now, you have Jewish cemeteries being defaced and desecrated.  Right now, you have Jewish institutions getting bomb threats. We have to stand with the Jewish community right here, right now, four square, and that’s what the Democratic Party is all about.”

Ellison on Democratic concerns of his Israel record: “Here’s what I say, I voted for $27 billion in bilateral aid to Israel over the course of about six or seven votes. I have been to the region many times and sat down with members of the Knesset and worked with them. I’ve been a stalwart champion of the two-state solution, which means that we’ve got to have Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security. And I have made that a very key cornerstone of my advocacy… I believe that the U.S.-Israel relationship is special and important. I’ve stood for that principle my whole service and my whole career. And you can trust when I’m the DNC chair that that relationship will continue. We will maintain the bipartisan consensus of U.S. support for Israel if I’m the DNC chair.” [YouTube]

INTERVIEW — JI’s Aaron Magid spoke with NORPAC National President Ben Chouake who spoke out against attacks on Sen. Bob Menendez for questioning David Friedman, while implying concerns around dual loyalty, during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week.

“Out of all the Democratic Senators, by far, Senator Menendez posed the most generous and friendly questions to Mr. Friedman,” Chouake told Jewish Insider in a phone interview on Wednesday. “He was trying to help Mr. Friedman explain himself and give him a lay-up so that he could bat it out of the park. The intention of Senator Menendez was to get reassurance from Mr. Friedman that he could do his job given his passion… It’s horrible and inappropriate because Senator Menendez is the exact opposite of anti-Semitic. I am working with this guy for 20 years. He is the go to person in the Senate. He is the person who spends day and night fighting for us. How do you accuse someone like that of anti-Semitism? The guy took a bullet for us on Iran.”

Chouake on ADL’s deleted tweet criticizing Menendez: “Why did they delete it unless they thought they were wrong. You don’t delete stuff that you think is right. The guy asked a question. I don’t know if it was perfectly posed or not. His questioning to Mr. Friedman was very friendly. By far the most friendly Democrat on the panel. I think he was trying to help him. You have to look at everything in the context of what it is and the person who was asking. If I asked the same question, would you call me an anti-Semite? So, why are you calling him an anti-Semite?”

On Friedman as Ambassador to Israel: “I support him because he is committed to the issue and will do a good job. He is also a member of NORPAC. The problem was that he speaks awfully harshly about certain things. He apologized for it and that’s good. His heart is great. I like him and know the guy.” Read the entire interview here [Jewish Insider

DRIVING THIS WEEKEND: “Pence, Adelson to meet privately” by Theodore Schleifer: “…a meeting that cements the Republican billionaire’s place as a key adviser to the new administration. Pence, who is speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition that meets at Adelson’s hotel and casino in Las Vegas, The Venetian, will chat formally with Adelson just before he addresses the entire RJC on Friday evening, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.” [CNN

–We’re told prior to Pence’s remarks at Shabbat dinner, the RJC will be hosting Friday evening prayer services with expected participation from over 150 attendees.

“Pence makes stop at Jewish cemetery in Missouri where gravestones were toppled” by John Wagner: “From the heart, there’s no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” Pence said from the bed of a pickup truck, speaking through a bullhorn at an event organized to clean up the damage. “I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri…” Pence made his unadvertised visit to the cemetery shortly after delivering a speech… on the economy…“We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms,” he said… While at the cemetery on Wednesday, Pence also heard a prayer from a rabbi and joined Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in clearing brush.” [WashPost

— From WH pool report: “Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Karen Aroesty spoke to Pence briefly just before he hopped onto the bed of the pickup. She said. “I want to thank you for being here and thank the president for his words. We look forward to doing whatever we can to help. We’re a resource for you if you want. Being here today is important for a lot of people.” “I didn’t want to miss coming,” Pence said… As Pence walked away from delivering remarks he greeted people who had come to the cemetery to volunteer. Many thanked him for being there and the message that sent. One woman asked him how the travel ban was any different than the desecration of the cemetery.”

WATCH: Marc Daniels, the ‘Kippah Guy’, gives Pence a red Trump/Pence yarmulke (minute 03:26) and gets a hug in return [YouTube; Pic]  

A bipartisan letter signed by 150 Democratic and Republican House Members, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is running for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, calls on the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to take swift action against the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers (JCC) across the country. “We urge the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to swiftly assess the situation and to advise Congress on what specific steps are being taken, or will be taken, to deter such threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators for violations of federal criminal laws, and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards, in the event that an individual seeks to act upon these threats,” the letter states. “This is not an idle concern, given that there have been at least three casualty-causing attacks at JCCs or other Jewish institutions in the last two decades. This is a national problem and, as such, it requires a national solution.” the letter notes. [JewishInsider

“Clearly, the Trump administration has a problem with Jews” by Bernard-Henri Levy: “I had no idea how right I was, a month ago, when I wrote in The New York Times that American Jews should be wary of their new President… At best, Mr. Netanyahu will go down as a very distant relative of Joseph making an alliance with Pharaoh to protect his people. But we know how that story ends: just as a new pharaoh “arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph” and reduced his descendants to slavery, so, sooner or later, a new president will arise over America. Leading, according to the Talmud, to two equally tragic scenarios. Either the newcomer is indeed a new pharaoh and will associate the Jews with the predecessor whose cause and destiny they so recklessly embraced. Or, as the sages say, he is the same pharaoh but has changed sides. Translating this into present-day terms, the unpredictable Mr. Trump becomes another Mr. Trump; he makes a 180-degree perspective shift in his vision of the Jewish world; and he turns against an Israel about which, at bottom, he cares not a whit and which, therefore, has everything to fear, beginning right here and now, from his cynical “pragmatism.”” [CNN] • A CNN panel debates the president’s anti-Semitism trump card: His daughter Ivanka [WashPost]

“In Israel, Some Wonder Where The Outrage Is Over U.S. Anti-Semitic Acts” by Daniel Estrin: “Netanyahu’s muted response has drawn criticism, including from Yehuda Bauer, the academic advisor of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum. “He follows President Trump,” Bauer says. “He did not react immediately.” … A former adviser to Netanyahu, Dore Gold, says he doesn’t see anything wrong with Netanyahu’s response. “There has been a tendency to politicize this whole issue of anti-Semitism in America,” he says. “Opponents of the Trump administration want to blame it for anti-Semites coming out of the woodwork and attacking Jewish institutions. I think we should all be united in our struggle against anti-Semitism, and not look for a fall guy for what is happening.”” [NPR

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Anti-Defamation League Receives Bomb Threat at National Headquarters in New York” by Roseanne Colletti: “The bomb threat to the Third Avenue office was anonymous, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt… Police say they got a call about it shortly before noon. An investigation found it not credible. “It’s a frightening moment and it reminds us that the haters and the bigots, they hide in the shadows like cowards and they seek to terrorize us because of our faith,” Greenblatt said on MSNBC Wednesday… Gov. Cuomo called the pattern a “national crisis” and directed the New York State Police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement in the investigation. “We are treating these incidents for what they are — as crimes — and we will not allow them to go unpunished,” Cuomo said in a statement.” [NBC4

HAPPENING TODAY: Governor Andrew Cuomo will hold a roundtable with Jewish Community and interfaith leaders at the Museum of Jewish Heritage at 2:00 pm EST followed by a press statement.

“Bill Kristol: Hill Republicans asking if they can survive four years of Trump” by Tim Skoczek: “I think if you talk privately to Republicans on the Hill, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what is going on? Can we survive this for four years?'” Kristol told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” … A well-known proponent of a muscular US foreign policy, Kristol also expressed a deep concern with Trump’s “America first” philosophy, which Kristol said signals America’s withdrawal from an unstable world in need of its leadership. The reassurance Kristol found in some of Trump’s Cabinet appointments, he said, has dissipated as Trump navigates the complexities of foreign diplomacy with a worrying degree of impulsiveness and bombast. “I’ve got to say, this first month has been very unnerving to me and to many, many others,” Kristol said.” [CNN

TRUMP TEAM: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Sees Tax Overhaul by August” by Rebecca Ballhaus and Nick Timiraos: “In his first week on the job, Mr. Mnuchin has spoken with around 10 foreign counterparts and other leaders… The secretary has been in close contact with National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, his former colleague at Goldman Sachs Group Inc… The two men have a close relationship, a Treasury official said.” [WSJ

“McMaster May Reorganize Trump’s Foreign Policy Team Once Again” by Peter Baker: “Left uncertain is what, if anything, will happen regarding Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, who has played a major role in shaping foreign policy… Since arriving this week, Mr. McMaster has made a point of going door to door through the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where most national security aides work, to introduce himself and build relations, current and former officials said.” [NYTimes

“Tillerson looking for ways to raise his public profile” by Nahal Toosi: “Tillerson is “clearly a very talented and able guy,” said Eliot Cohen, a former State official… “The problem is that this is the Trump administration, and one has to surmise that he is not where the president is on some of his zanier days.” … Meanwhile, several dozen Trump-appointed political staffers have arrived in Foggy Bottom… “It’s like high school,” said the State official familiar with Tillerson’s media request. “The Trump people all sit together at the tables at lunch.” The State Department’s ego has been bruised by how rarely Tillerson has appeared alongside Trump. Sources have told POLITICO that the secretary of state was never consulted when Trump, in an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dropped the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Tillerson also was on a trip to Europe when Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C., missing an opportunity for an important visual.” [Politico• Rex Tillerson: The silent man at the State Department [CBSNews

“Rex Tillerson Is Already Underwater” by Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky: “At the moment, however, neither the headlines nor the trend lines look all that good for Tillerson. The secretary of state has options to play a more influential role under these unhappy circumstances, but, frankly, none of them are all that good. Unless his boss empowers him, Tillerson won’t have the street cred he needs at home and abroad to emerge as a truly consequential secretary of state.” [PoliticoMag]

How Ivanka Trump is rebranding herself as the grown up First Daughter of America” by Anne McElvoy: “An Arabic speaker — Egyptian by birth, with a network of top contacts in the Middle East from her days working for the Bush administration — [Dina] Powell is, in effect, chief adviser to Ivanka, with a powerful Rolodex of her own across the main parties in Washington. There is speculation that Ivanka is assembling a squad to balance the shoot-from-the-hip ideologists close to her father, to appeal to women who may not be Trump fans but are quietly unconvinced by the liberal feminist arguments against him.” [EveningStandard• Inside Ivanka Trump’s Campaign for a $500 Billion Child-Care Plan [Bloomberg

TRUMP ECHO CHAMBER: “How Trump’s campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter” by Tara Palmeri: “If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable,” said former communications director Sam Nunberg… “I would assume the president would like to see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall.” … A former senior campaign official said Nunberg and his successor, former communications director Jason Miller, were particularly skilled at using alternative media like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, Infowars and the Daily Caller to show Trump positive coverage.” [Politico

“Is Trump Worse Than a Liar?” by David Suissa: “It’s still possible, of course, that despite all the bullshit, some good can come out. Trump may deter evil regimes, support key allies, negotiate better deals, destroy ISIS and add millions of jobs. If he gets out of the way, some members of his team may score a few policy victories. But let’s be frank — for any initiative that will demand deep and grounded thinking from the man on top, it will be touch and go… Trump has brought his bullshit ways into the White House, creating a chaotic reality show that chronicles his alternate reality. As long as he keeps believing in this reality, and getting away with it, all we can expect is that, for better or for worse, the show will go on.” [JewishJournal

KAFE KNESSET — Netanyahu adds another stop to his busy itinerary — by Tal Shalev: Far away from the troubling reality of criminal probes and political hazards, Netanyahu appears to be enjoying the Grand World BB tour. Currently enjoying the summer sun in Sydney, Australia, the PM announced he will be flying to Moscow in two weeks time. He will meet with President Putin to discuss Israel’s concerns about Syria and Iran. The Russian trip will be the sixth that Netanyahu is taking during February and March. After London, DC, Singapore and Sydney this month, Netanyahu will be spending most of March abroad as well, traveling to Beijing and then back to DC for AIPAC after visiting Moscow. All of the trips have huge strategic and economic significance, but as a senior political figure told Kafe Knesset today, “it looks like Netanyahu is really trying not to be here.” In the wake of the ongoing criminal investigations and political rivals who are waiting to attack, Netanyahu appears to prefer the smiling photo ops with world leaders. He is diverting the public agenda towards statesmanship, an arena in which he has no visible competition to date. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Trump’s settlements policy: “The people working on it are Jason Greenblatt on behalf of Trump and our US ambassador, Ron Dermer. They are both religious Jews. It is impossible to describe either of them as some leftist enemy of Israel… We have to reach an understanding and arrangement with the Americans. What people don’t realize is that we don’t have the option of getting into a quarrel with the Trump administration. We already had eight years of quarrels and conflicts with the Obama administration. That is enough.” [Al-Monitor

“Parents of slain Israeli soldier meet US envoy at UN” by Danielle Ziri: “During their meeting, the Goldin family requested that Ambassador [Nikki] Haley assist in their efforts for the return of the bodies of their son [Hadar] and Sgt. Oron Shaul, also held in Gaza, for burial in Israel… A spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN said that during the meeting, Ambassador Haley pledged to advocate on behalf of Hadar Goldin and work with Leah and Simcha as well as the Israeli Mission, and other US partners at the UN for the return of Hadar to his family.” [JPost

ON THE HILL: “Graham to Introduce Bill Cutting Palestinian Aid” by Aaron Magid: “The office of Senator Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday that the South Carolina Republican lawmaker would introduce legislation next week to cut off US assistance to the Palestinian Authority… “This legislation would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members,” according to the Graham press release.” [JewishInsider

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Starbucks’ brand perception has plummeted since it announced plan to hire refugees [BI] • Wells Fargo’s independent directors hire Norman Brownstein’s lobbying firm [FT] • British Startup Bank Turns to Ivanka Trump’s Brother-in-Law [WSJ] • Paul Singer is taking the attack on his latest target to the next level [Yahoo]

“A legendary deal-maker was asked about the one mistake he made again and again, and his answer was brutal” by Frank Chaparro: “Henry Kravis is a Wall Street legend. The firm he founded with his cousin George Roberts in 1976, KKR, now manages $130 billion… In an interview with Kip McDaniel at Institutional Investor, Kravis was asked to identify a mistake he repeated during his 40 years at KKR. His answer was pretty brutal… Here’s what Kravis had to say… “We might have been too slow in changing out some CEOs of companies we had, keep thinking that he or she will get a lot better… Waiting is a lost opportunity, and we used to wait… I think today we move much faster than we ever did.”” [BI

“Hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn heading for divorce” by Emily Smith: “The Greenlight Capital founder, whose stock picks move markets, has separated from Cheryl [Strauss Einhorn], whom he married in 1993 before he made his fortune, now estimated at an impressive $1.55 billion. At stake in the upcoming divorce is their nearly 10,000-square-foot home in Rye, NY, and — possibly — his rumored vault of gold stashed at a secret location in New York City. The couple is well-known in New York for their philanthropic work. In 2002, they established the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, “with the vision of building a more peaceful and harmonious society,” according to its Web site.” [NYPost

“Robert Kraft talks about his friendship with Donald Trump” by Jesse Reed: “Speaking about all this with Andrea Kramer on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Kraft explained his relationship with Donald Trump. “Do I agree with everything he says or espouses? No. But he’s a friend,” Kraft said. “This country is awesome, and whomever is president of the United States, I will try to support. I’ve done that since the 1960s.” Kraft also talked about how loyal President Trump has been to him, noting the support he was given in 2011 when his wife Myra passed away. He said Trump called him “multiple times per week” to console him and see how he was doing.” [MSN• Robert Kraft to Patriots’ critics: ‘The haters still hate’ [FoxSports

DESSERT: “Sous-Vide Gefilte Fish? A Chef’s Argentine-Jewish Cuisine” by Tejal Rao: “Mishiguene (crazy in Yiddish), which sits by a sprawling park in Buenos Aires, was the city’s first restaurant to serve traditional Jewish foods in a tasting menu. [Tomás] Kalika called it immigrant cuisine…  In March, he plans to open Fayer, his second restaurant in Buenos Aires. Argentina, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, is his inspiration. At Fayer, he will cook more of what he sees as an emerging Argentine-Jewish cuisine — multicultural Jewish influences from across the diaspora, unified by the open-fire grilling and wood smoke that define Argentine cooking… Though the restaurant does not serve kosher food, the whirling, joyful mood during Friday dinners is that of an unconventional Shabbat. There is often drinking and dancing and roars of applause.” [NYTimes

“Eighteen Café, in Squirrel Hill, offers a unique menu of memorable kosher food “ by Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth: “Eighteen, a kosher wine bar and sit-down restaurant… offers a variety of dishes not traditionally associated with Jewish culture, such as butternut-squash ravioli, pomegranate-glazed salmon and sushi, alongside classic Jewish-deli fare like bagels with lox and Israeli favorites such as hummus and shakshuka. The common thread, aside from being prepared under the supervision of a rabbi, is fish. Aside from eggs, it is the only animal protein on the menu. Eighteen’s pastrami is made from cured salmon, its reuben is made with smoked beets, and there’s even a cheeseburger — with a house-made veggie patty.” [PittsburghCityPaper] 

BIRTHDAYS: Philosopher, novelist and public intellectual, earned a Ph.D. from Princeton, winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1996, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein turns 67… Political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz turns 55… Billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, investor, philanthropist and author, Michael Dell turns 52… Movie, stage and television actor, comedian and singer, Josh Gad turns 36… Former director of women’s media at Hillary for America, former deputy press secretary at the Democratic National Committee, Rebecca Chalif turns 31… Bloomberg political reporter (with two years of daily travel covering Hillary Clinton), previously a White House reporter for Politico, was once managing editor of the Daily Princetonian, Jennifer Epstein (h/ts Playbook)… Former intern at the White House Office of Public Engagement, former Hillary Iowa Fellow and Hillary Florida Fellow, now with the Podesta Group in the office of the chairman, Gidon Feen turns 22… CEO at NYC-based Puder PR, after 10 years as director of communications and PR for the Jewish Federations of North America, Joe Berkofsky… Reporter for the Texas Tribune in Austin covering state politics and the Texas Legislature, Patrick Svitek… AIPAC alum Reuben A. Engber… Financial consultant and organizer for non-profit organizations, archives and artists, Johnathan Morpurgo… Barak Daon… Lois Copeland… Mark Jacobs

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Screenshot via Channel 10 News

WH Aide: Trump’s Holocaust Statement ‘Beautifully’ Honored Jewish Victims

Monday, February 20, 2017

White House aide Boris Epshteyn on Monday defended Trump’s Holocaust statement last month which was subject to criticism by American Jewish organizations and political groups for refusing to…

Isaac Herzog

Kafe Knesset for Feb. 20

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Haaretz expose on the secret Aqaba regional summit last year brought color back to the cheeks of opposition leader Isaac Herzog. A supporting actor in the tale…

Photo via CSPAN

Rabbi Hier Defends Trump’s Refusal to Condemn Anti-Semitism at Media Events

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Deal of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on Friday defended President Donald Trump in wake of his refusal to acknowledge and address the rise…


Abe Foxman on Trump-Netanyahu Meeting

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Foxman on the Trump-Netanyahu meeting and the President’s commitment to pursue peace: “The optics are better. The sounds are better. There is a warmth and friendliness. All these…

Photo credit: Avi Ohayon (GPO)

Kafe Knesset Feb. 16

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Immediately following the White House visit, Netanyahu summoned the press to the Blair House for a briefing. He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, and that was…


Nadler: Trump ‘Can’t Hide’ Behind Netanyahu on Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s support of President Trump against charges of anti-Semitism “very inappropriate.” After Channel 10 reporter Moav Vardi asked…