Daily Kickoff: What Obama told a synagogue crowd earlier this week | Shmully vs. Shmuley on Qatar | Shabbat dinner at Wynwood Yard | Jill Deutch BDay

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EXCLUSIVE — Jewish Insider obtained an audio recording from former President Barack Obama’s appearance at Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in NYC on Wednesday evening. In a conversation with Rabbi Joshua Davidson, Obama defended his administration’s record on Israel, the December 2016 abstention at the UN Security Council, and criticized Israel’s settlement policy.

On ensuring Israel’s security: “I think it is not just in America’s strategic interest, but I think it is a moral obligation globally to ensure that Israel is secure. In light of history, that a secure Jewish state is an expression of our commitment that all people should be able to worship their God, cultivate their culture, and raise their children safely without discrimination, and that the intersection between human rights and civil rights, and combating anti-Semitism and affirming the rights of a people to their homeland, those things are all inbuilt as was often displayed during the Civil Rights movement, as people like Dr. [Martin Luther] King understood, and that’s the reason why — this is not subject to dispute — my administration provided more security assistance to Israel than any other administration before…”

Obama on settlements: “I deeply believe that if Israel is to fulfill its vision as a Jewish state and a democratic state, that the current arrangement in the West Bank and Gaza is unsustainable… One of the reasons why [a peace deal] is becoming less and less achievable is because of settlements outside the blocs… deep into the West Bank; the pace of settlements during my presidency and during Netanyahu’s time as prime minister, skyrocketed and accelerated. If you look at a map, it starts becoming like a swiss cheese matter where it is almost impossible to create any kind of functioning, continuous Palestinian state — even one that is disarmed, even one that ensures security, it just becomes impossible to do it. And this was a source of constant tension between myself and the Likud government that was in charge, and I continued to warn the Israeli government that that posture of being able to just continue endless settlement construction was not only harmful to the peace process but was leading to very powerful objections internationally… And to this day, that settlement construction continues.”

UNSC 2334: “Towards the end of my term, when the Egyptians drafted a yet another declaration with respect to settlement construction, using language that not only I, but previous presidents, had said was impediment to peace, and that if we didn’t insist that it include condemnation of violence and incitement by the Palestinians to make it more balanced, we couldn’t pull back the entire rest of the world getting off it, other than just a pure exercise of [veto] power – and I thought that was misleading because our ability to protect Israel on the international stage, at some point, does require credibility — people believing that we are true to our principles, and, by the way, Israel’s founding principles…”

Not optimistic right now for the peace process: “My hope — going forward — is that there is sufficient self-reflection inside of Israel, that there is change in orientation on this issue, and my hope, by the way, is there is a change in orientation by the Palestinians because as I used to tell Abbas, ‘Have you from the start — set aside Arafat — when you came into power, recognizing Israel and affirming that you wanted a peace deal; had you had the moral authority to insist on only peaceful protests, and based on the principle of recognizing the right of return to exist and the humanity of the Jewish people, and it was universal principles that were being taught in Palestinian schools, that my strong suspicion is that Israelis would have responded differently. That’s not what happened.’ Right now, I can’t say I am optimistic about a potential peace process. I think the Palestinian leadership is too weak, and I think politics within Israel has moved away from the prospect of the two state solution… To be a true friend of Israel, it is important to be honest about it, and the politics of this country sometimes do not allow that.” Listen to the audio here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Trump administration doubles down on Palestinian aid cutoff threat: Following President Trump’s declarationthat U.S. aid to the Palestinians “is on the table,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah went on CNN to emphasize that the administration is considering not only to cut off funding for UNRWA, but also direct U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority. “Restrictions in all forms to aid are on the table,” Shah said. “The many forms of aid that the United States gives to the Palestinians, directly and indirectly through UNRWA and other agencies, you know, the levels of aid and the amount of aid would be all up to subject to changes if they don’t come to the table or change, at least calm down some of the anti-American and anti-White House rhetoric.”

Former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken on CNN with Wolf Blitzer: “This is a little bit kicking them when they’re down, threatening to cut off aid after he has unilaterally decided Jerusalem… The idea of a Jewish, democratic Israel… now may be off the table because absent a two-state solution, Israel can’t be both Jewish and democratic… So, President Trump is presiding over the demise of the dream of a Jewish, democratic state.”

Blitzer: “Those are strong words from Tony Blinken coming in.”

PLO Representative to DC Husam Zomlot at the Middle East Institute: “Our rights are not for sale… When the tradeoff is between legitimate birthrights, of dignity, of freedom, of one’s right to access his own land or resources, of one’s right to be unified with his family, money comes in at number 20. If the choice — which is unfair, unprecedented, illegal, immoral — is between starving the people of Palestine and surrendering their rights, the people will definitely not choose the option of succumbing to this unacceptable pressure. Live with it — financial pressure and blackmail does not work when it comes to national rights.” [Video]

ULTIMATE DEAL: “Trump administration looks to “shake things up a bit” in peace talks” by Kylie Atwood: “The administration is looking for ways “shake things up a bit” to get the Palestinians and Israelis back to the table, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said. “There are a lot of things are under review,” said Heather Nauert. “The President sees that nothing has happened with regard to peace process over many decades and they are looking for ways to get people back to the table…” [CBSNews

Amb. Nikki Haley tells UN Security Council the U.S. will not chase Palestinians lacking will to seek peace — by Michelle Nichols: “The United States remains deeply committed to helping the Israelis and Palestinians reach a historic peace agreement,” [Haley] said. “But we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace. To get historic results, we need courageous leaders.” [Reuters

In interview on Politico’s Women Rule podcast, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley says Henry Kissinger — with whom she shares monthly lunches — has the biggest influence on her worldview: “Whether it’s politics or whether it’s foreign policy, you tend to pass judgment, whether you should or not, on what you think is right or wrong. And what Dr. Kissinger has taught me is, get into the shoes of the other person: Think like the Russians, see what the motivations of the Russians are, then decide how you’re gonna act. Think like the Chinese, what are the Chinese worried about? Why would they be making that decision? And when you start to make decisions based on what they’re thinking, then you all of a sudden have a conversation that they can relate to.”

Explaining Trump’s ‘Jerusalem has been taken off the table’ — Haley says Trump was referring not to the geographical contours of Jerusalem but to the location of the embassy: “We took it off the table because we didn’t want it to be the one point they kept holding on it, because they were pulling us on both sides. What we’re saying is, both of you need to come to the table, both of you need to talk past Jerusalem and an embassy and you need to start talking about how Palestinians and Israelis are going to live together…but basically that’s what he was saying, is don’t use the United States as a tug of war because we’re not going to allow that to happen, so we took Jerusalem off the table.” [Politico]

REPORT — US bought shuttered Jerusalem hotel to step up diplomatic presence in city — by David Lee Miller: “In Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood where the U.S. operates its Consular Section, moving crews were spotted bringing boxes and equipment from the U.S. Embassy into the now-shuttered Eden Hotel… Israel’s Channel Two reported that the U.S. was planning to move consular facilities to the Eden Hotel as part of a plan to open the embassy nearby. But the U.S. Consulate General’s Jerusalem spokesperson denied that was the case.” [FoxNews

DAVOS 2018 — “Israel’s Netanyahu explains why previously ‘unimaginable’ Israeli-Arab alliances are now growing” by Natasha Turak: “There is an alliance between Israel and other countries in the Middle East that would have been unimaginable years ago. I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime,” Netanyahu said Thursday on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “If Iran tries to rush for a bomb, there are many countries that will not let them,” the Prime Minister said. “We would not let them acquire a nuclear weapon. There are Arab states, unnamed, that agree with me.” [CNBC]

WATCH: “Ali Velshi Tracks Down Netanyahu At Davos — Bibi Mis-Networks Him” by Amber Athey: “We’re taking a look over here. Prime Minister, do you want to come and talk to NBC? We’re live right now. Come and say hello to viewers,” Velshi said as the PM passed. Netanyahu seemed to recognize Velshi and said, “you’re with CNN!” before giving him a handshake. “I’m with MSNBC now. Thanks for watching. Good to see you, sir,” Velshi gushed. “Ali, right there, right there, Benjamin Netanyahu told the world he has been your fan for decades. Bravo to you, my partner,” Velshi’s co-anchor Stephanie Ruhle praised.” [DailyCaller]

Spotted by Politico Davos Playbook: “Benjamin Netanyahu clearing the terrace at the Schatzalp restaurant, after commandos with sub machine guns cleared the line at the funicular. Playbook’s sources said Mossad agents were friendly and apologetic about regular customers being bumped from their favorite tables.” [Politico

PIC OF THE DAY — Jared Kushner attending a young leaders dinner with Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah – hosted by Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, and Jared Cohen [Pic]

“George Soros Says Trump Administration Is ‘Danger to the World’” by Katia Porzecanski: 
“I consider the Trump administration a danger to the world,” the billionaire investor said in a speech from Davos, Switzerland. “But I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner.” He expects a Democratic “landslide” in the 2018 elections.”[Bloomberg] • Soros to Google and Facebook: ‘Your days are numbered’[Yahoo]

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY — First lady Melania Trump tours Holocaust memorial in Washington — by Maria Puente: “In a statement released by the East Wing, Trump said she wanted to pay respect to the 6 million Jews lost in the Holocaust and to the millions of other victims of Nazi persecution… “Yet it is also through our shared humanity that we come together now in commemoration, strength, and love.  My heart is with you, and we remember.” … The tour concluded at the Hall of Remembrance where Trump participated in a moment of silence by the Eternal Flame Memorial, followed by a lighting of a candle at the Prayer Wall.” [USAToday

New York Times editorial… “Trump and the Holocaust Remembrance: A Second Chance: Saturday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. For President Trump, it is a shot at redemption. He failed a moral test on the same occasion a year ago when he issued a message that strangely left out any specific reference to the six million Jews murdered in the Nazis’ industrialized genocide… In May he visited the Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem, but offended some people by zipping through it far too quickly to absorb its poignancy and power. Then he signed the guest book with a discordantly, but typically, self-referential entry… He can make Saturdayhis day of atonement.” [NYTimes]

IRAN DEAL — “Iran has fired 23 ballistic missiles since start of 2015 nuclear deal, explosive report shows” by Rich Edson: “Out of all the ballistic missiles Iran fired in 2017, only four or five missiles can be considered nuclear-capable. In 2016, Iran fired 10 to 11 missiles than can be considered nuclear-capable,” according to a report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” [FoxNews]

“Iran’s Fast Boats Stop Harassing U.S. Navy, Baffling Military” by Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef: “Since January 2016, there has been an average of more than two “unsafe or unprofessional” incidents each month, according to the U.S. military. There have been 50 such incidents in the past two years, officials said. But in response to a query, U.S. military officials said there have been no such incidents since August 2017. The apparent shift in Iranian behavior comes as an international nuclear agreement with Tehran is teetering.” [WSJ]

NEW REVELATION: “Israel claims 82,000 fighters are under Iranian control in Syria” by Nicole Gaouette: “Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, told a UN Security Council meeting that he was revealing classified information about Iran to convey what he claimed are Iran’s plans to dominate Syria, destroy Israel and “terrorize the entire free world.” “Iran is turning the entire country of Syria into the largest military base in the world. In fact, Iran is trying to destabilize all aspects of Syria,” Danon said… Even though Iran is targeting Israel first, the Israeli envoy said, “it is you who are next.” [CNN]

ON THE HILL — Dr. Henry Kissinger in a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee: “In the aftermath of the Second World War, a group of historic countries confronted a Soviet Union enhanced by the war and imbued with a revolutionary ideology. Under American leadership, a coalition was formed that drew a line defining the limit of Soviet expansion that would be tolerated, eventually achieving containment and a negotiated end of the Cold War… The United States needs to make clear that beyond the enforcement of the JCPOA, it will oppose the emergence of any Iranian nuclear military capability. These steps are essential to shoring up and reshaping world order.” [Video]

SHMULLY VS. SHMULEY — “Muzin and Dershowitz are on the right side of history” by Rabbi Shmully Hecht: “If you want to know what’s really going on with Qatar, or frankly with any serious matter, ignore the speculation of brash bystanders who have been left out of these engagements. In some instances they have been ignored precisely due to their inability to dialogue with anyone in strict confidence. Concerned citizens must step away from the worn-out soapboxes of uninformed commentators who (desperate to cling to any form of prominence) will repeat the same talking points, over and over again, in absolute denial of which way the wind is actually blowing.” [TOI]

2018 WATCH — “Sources: Romney expected to announce Senate bid next week, will gather signatures to get on the 2018 ballot” by Bob Bernick: “Sources close to Mitt Romney tell Utah Policy that the former GOP presidential nominee will announce next week that he is running for the U.S. Senate this year… Romney held a strategy meeting earlier this week at his Holladay mansion to discuss policy for his upcoming race for Senate…Romney’s Utah campaign will be run by folks that helped his 2012 presidential race.”[UtahPolicy]

“GOP Senate candidate Lou Barletta did interview in 2006 with Holocaust-denying publication” by Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie: “Rep. Lou Barletta, an immigration hardliner running in a crowded US Senate primary in Pennsylvania… did an interview (as mayor of Hazleton) with a fringe publication that promotes Holocaust denial and headlined a rally where a political activist and musician who has questioned the Holocaust and promoted conspiracies about the September 11, 2001 attacks also spoke and performed.” [CNN]

2020 WATCH: “Bernie Sanders summons team to discuss 2020” by Gabriel Debenedetti: “The top-line message the Vermont senator received from the operatives gathered during the government shutdown was a more formal version of the one they’ve been giving him regularly for months: You would be one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination. And if you want to run, it’s time to start seriously planning accordingly.” [Politico

TALK OF THE TOWN: New Orleans City Council rescinds pro-BDS resolution — by Kevin Litten: “New Orleans City Council members withdrew a resolution Thursday connected with the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement (BDS) that the Greater New Orleans Jewish Federation called anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. After the vote, the City Council went into recess as protesters in favor of keeping the resolution began singing at a volume level that made the council unable to continue to conduct business.” [NOLA

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Hedge fund giant Seth Klarman trashes bitcoin, says cryptocurrencies are ‘tulip bulbs for the digital age’ [CNBC] • Ackman’s Pershing Square Takes Stake in Nike [WSJ• Cuomo Uses Barry Rosenstein’s Plane for Sundance Trip [NYTimes] • Penny Pritzker: The US leaving the TPP would go down in history as a mistake [Yahoo• ESPN Exploring Sale of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight [TheBigLead] • Celeb attorney Laura Wasser can help you divorce like a star [CNN]

SPOTLIGHT:  George Soros on Viktor Orban’s war against him — by Neil Buckley and Andrew Byrn: “In a December interview at his white clapboard house in upstate New York, Soros hardly comes across as the traitor of Fidesz propaganda. At 87, he meets the FT straight after his daily tennis game with his wife. He sketches Orban’s authoritarian shift while sipping tea in his dining room. The “rise of the nationalists”, he warns, means open society is facing its biggest test since the second world war.  But Soros insists Orban’s main motive is the pursuit of power and its trappings. “[Orban] started really going wrong when he made his father rich by giving him a quasi-monopoly on road-building materials, which was a big source of wealth,” he says, recalling the 1999 revelation. “That’s when [Orban] started building a mafia state. It’s really when he actually gained power.”” [FinancialTimes

MEDIA WATCH — “Jeff Zucker Reassures CNN Staff at Town Hall Over Security Threat” by Jeremy Barr: “At an employee-only town hall meeting on Thursday, CNN president Jeff Zucker addressed a recent security threat against the network and promised to tackle the issue. “Nothing is more important than you feeling safe in the office and in the field,” he said… He also used the meeting on Thursday to address reports that he’s lobbied to become president of ESPN, a position that was vacated recently by John Skipper. Zucker said he’s not leaving and has not had any talks with ESPN or parent company Disney. “I fully intend to stay at CNN and have no desire to work at ESPN,” he told his employees.” [HollywoodReporter

PROFILE — “Be Smart: Mike Allen Wrote The Rules Of Washington And Now Donald Trump’s Destroying Them” by Steven Perlberg: “Around Washington, Allen is still known for his Playbook persona, a cheerful insider comfortable with all the swamp politics people claim to hate about Washington… But at Axios, something seems to have changed about Allen’s way of doing things. A dissonance now appears regularly in his newsletter as the political press trudges through whatever wild thing Trump just said or did. Some days, Allen reports the kind of outrageous things he might not have before, like Sean Spicer threatening to “call the authorities” on him… To read Axios AM every morning is to watch Allen working out, in real time, what happens when the person who wrote the rules of Washington has to grapple with the person unwriting them.” [Buzzfeed]

“In an Israeli Cave, Scientists Discover Jawbone of Earliest Modern Human Out of Africa” by Nicholas St. Fleur: “Scientists on Thursdayannounced the discovery of a fossilized human jawbone in a collapsed cave in Israel that they said is between 177,000 and 194,000 years old… “This would be the earliest modern human anyone has found outside of Africa, ever,” said John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Wisconsin… The upper jawbone, or maxilla, was found by a team led by Israel Hershkovitz, a paleoanthropologist at Tel Aviv University…” [NYTimesBusinessInsider

DESSERT: “It’s hip. It’s eclectic. It’s Shabbat dinner, Wynwood style — and everyone’s invited” by Carlos Frias: “Yes, it’s a Shabbat dinner, but really it is all about the community coming together,” said Julie Frans, culinary director at the Wynwood Yard. “We break bread together and commune.” Della Heiman turned a weed-covered acre off Northwest 29th Street into this manicured, outdoor community space… That, she said, made the Yard the perfect host for these group Shabbat dinners. Every month, the head chef of the Wynwood Yard, Nicole Votano, collaborates with a different Miami chef to bring a new flavor to the event. The dinners are $65 a person… “I love the idea of Shabbat to begin with, and this is an opportunity to meet like-minded people. There’s no judgment,” added Votano, who grew up in London with a Jewish mother and an Italian father. “And the food is amazing.” … Most of the meals at the Wynwood Yard are vegan or vegetarian. And a new Shabbat dinner at the nearby restaurant Dizengoff, founded by award-winning Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov, sticks to some of the tenets of kosher cuisine…” [MiamiHerald]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYPulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, Jules Feiffer turns 89… Actor Henry Jaglom turns 80… Singer-songwriter, socialite and political fundraiser, Denise Eisenberg Rich turns 74… Connecticut attorney, Herbert Mendelsohn turns 69… Founding rabbi of the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, NY, Rabbi Marc Schneier turns 59… Argentina’s largest real-estate developer, President of Chabad Argentina, President of Hillel Argentina and President of Taglit Birthright Argentina, Eduardo Elsztain turns 58… Long-time judge in New York, appointed in 2017 to the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, Judge Paul George Feinman turns 58… Santa Monica, CA resident, Brent Cohen turns 55… Better half of Congressman Ted Deutch and Development Director at Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, Jill Weinstock Deutch… Head of School at Manhattan Day School, Raizi Gruenebaum Chechik turns 46… Retired tennis pro, Justin Gimelstob turns 41… Former Obama White House Jewish Liaison (2011-2013), now Disaster Response and Resilience Lead at Bloomberg LP, Jarrod Neal Bernsteinturns 38… Director of Partnerships at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Tamar Remz… Barbara Simons

SATURDAYSenior counsel focused on mergers and acquisitions in the NYC office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Arthur Fleischerturns 85… Winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, he is a professor emeritus at California Institute of Technology, Barry Clark Barish turns 82… Priscilla Alexander turns 79… Builder and operator of luxury casinos and hotels, Steve Wynn (born Stephen Alan Weinberg) turns 76… Corporate venture capitalist and scientist, he served as VP at Intel Corporation (1984-1999) where he co-founded Intel Capital, Avram Miller turns 73… Topanga, California resident, Joseph Helfer turns 71… Gene Bruton turns 69… Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Reuven Firestone turns 66… Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts turns 63… CEO of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, Daniel Och turns 57… Communications Director at C-SPAN, Howard Mortman turns 51… Research assistant at the Washington Institute, focused on the Middle East peace process, Lia Michal Weiner… Associate at Baron Public Affairs, LLC, Joshua Henderson… Charles Geffen… Josh Weinstein

SUNDAY: Long-time Baltimore area dentist now living in Jupiter, Florida, Joel L Goldberg, DDS turns 73… Former chair of the Political Science Department of the Hebrew University, Avraham Diskin turns 71… Founding Secretary at West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, previously Western Region Coordinator for B’nai B’rith (2005-2007), Lyndia Lowy turns 69… Actress and singer, Barbi Benton (born Barbara Lynn Klein) turns 68… Rabbi Reba Carmel turns 65… Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, Shalom David Staub turns 62… Angel investor Mark N. Schwartz turns 62… Member of the New Jersey General Assembly since 2006, Amy H. Handlin turns 62… Founder of the annual Wall Street Conference in Boca Raton, Jason Lyons turns 49… Director of Financial Resource Development at The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland (Oregon), Michael Jeser turns 42… Anchor Producer at CNN, Ariel Bashi turns 36… Associate at Park Hill Group LLC, also Chair of the Tamid Group, involving American college students with Israel’s economic landscape, Max Heller turns 27..

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Daily Kickoff: At Davos, Trump says no aid to PA until they return to table | Report: Abbas’ new private jet | Meg Whitman joins Katzenberg’s startup

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HEARD LAST NIGHT — Former President Barack Obama in a conversation with Rabbi Joshua Davidson at Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in NYC last night: “I’m basically a liberal Jew.” [Pic

‘THE BIG MOVE’ — President Donald Trump described last month’s U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as an “honor” to Israel for always supporting the United States at the start of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “We have discussions going on with Israel on many things, including trade, but the big move — something that was very historic and very important — to that fact that we will be moving our embassy, as you know, to Jerusalem, and as we also know, that is way ahead of schedule — by years — and we anticipate to having a small version of it opened some time next year,” Trump said. Netanyahu, in turn, thanked Trump for the “historic” decision and lauded him for standing with Israel at the UN “by word and deed.” Bibi described his relationship with Trump as a “remarkable, tremendous friendship.”

Trump also slammed the Palestinians for their reaction to the Jerusalem move and decision to boycott Pence on his Mideast trip: “Israel has always supported the U.S. So what I did with Jerusalem was my honor. And hopefully, we can do something with peace. I would like to see it… I can tell you, Israel does want to make peace, and they (the Palestinians) are going to have to want to make peace too, or we are going to have nothing to do with them any longer… The hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table so we don’t have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem… (Turning to Bibi) You won one point, and you will give up some points later on in the negotiations — if it ever takes place. I don’t know that it will ever take place. But they have to respect the process also.”

Trump indicates further cuts to U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority: “When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them; when we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support — tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands — that money is on the table. That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace… Respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we’re just not going any further… The money is on the table… because why should we do that as a country if they’re doing nothing for us.” [Video

“Russia’s Putin to meet Israel’s PM Netanyahu” by Andrey Ostroukh: “Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli leader visits Moscow on Jan. 29.”[Reuters]

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE — While President Trump visits Davos, First Lady Melania Trump paid a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in honor of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday. “Such powerful exhibits here at the @HolocaustMuseum as @FLOTUS continues tour with museum director,” Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham tweeted.

DAVOS 2018 — “‘America No Longer Matters.’ Davos Isn’t Worried About President Trump” by Molly Ball: “Trump may represent the antithesis of everything the Davos crowd holds dear. But on the other hand, that crowd is making a lot of money these days. “It’s been a very economically successful year,” said Sami Sagol, an Israeli businessman and philanthropist who was seated at the health bar, where a variety of natural juices were available. “I didn’t expect it, but he’s been successful, and this must be celebrated.” … Davos welcomes the powerful, whatever their creed… “I don’t think Trump coming here is anything special,” Eyal Gura, an Israeli investor, told me. “You have hundreds of other world leaders here, including nondemocratic leaders, people who violate human rights and so on.”” [TIME]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Eric Cantor on whether he’s thinking about getting back into politics in an interview with Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer at Davos : ”I love my country. I am a big advocate of my party, and the limited government, free-market conservative that I am, I miss some of the things that I did during the day. It is a different day now, I will tell you that. And I’ve also learned — through the experience I had on Capitol Hill and now at Moelis & Company — you never say never. You always sort of look for what the best solution for the day is.” [YahooFinance]

ALSO HEARD AT DAVOS: “Abdullah: US must get a major Israeli concession after Jerusalem recognition” by Jacob Magid: “The challenge that the Americans have with the Israelis is that if this [Jerusalem recognition] is to make any sense, it’s to give something pretty good to the Palestinians,” [King Abdullah II] told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria… Abdullah argued that the Palestinians were still very interested in talks, saying they have not abandoned other options. “They’re reaching out to the Europeans and to me, that is the signal that they do want peace,” he said, referring to Palestinian frustration as merely “a hiccup.” [ToI]

“The biggest threat to Lebanon is Israel, Prime Minister Hariri says” by Natasha Turak: “The biggest threat to Lebanon’s stability is Israel, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos Wednesday. “The only threat I see is Israel taking some kind of action against Lebanon, out of a miscalculation,” Hariri said. “And this is the real threat, I believe… When Israel decides to launch a war against Lebanon, this is something that is unexplainable…” [CNBC

White House Envoy Jason Greenblatt tweets: “Today I spoke with a group of EU Heads of Mission to the PA. At the right time, we will work together with all our friends & allies in Europe, and beyond, to advance our goal of peace. The road we travel to lasting peace requires the efforts and support of many.” [Twitter]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Aid groups slam U.S. for withholding Palestinian refugee funds” by Eric Walsh: “The leaders of 21 humanitarian aid groups wrote to the Trump administration on Wednesday to object “in the strongest terms” to a decision to withhold $65 million in planned U.S. contributions to the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees… The leaders of the aid groups warned of “dire consequences” if the cut was maintained.” [Reuters]

REPORT: Amid funding cut fears, PA purchases $50 million private jet for Abbas: “Even as the Palestinian Authority faces major funding cuts from the US, it has purchased a new luxurious $50 million private jet to be used by President Mahmoud Abbas, Hadashot news reported… The plane was set to be delivered to Amman within weeks, and will be stationed there for use by the PA chief. Funding for the plane was said to have been provided both from the PA budget ($20 million) and from the Palestinian National Fund ($30 million).” [ToI]

On Mideast visit, US house speaker vows to confront Iran: “In an address to the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, [Speaker Paul Ryan] said the U.S. wants to challenge Iran’s ability to threaten the region with ballistic missiles and stop its expansion across the Middle East. Emirati Ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba was so pleased with Ryan’s comments, he said the speech could have been his own. The delegation visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and met with Saudi King Salman.” [AP]

“UK’s former chief rabbi defends his help for Pence’s Israel speech” by Harriet Sherwood: “Dan Sacker, Lord [Jonathan] Sacks’s spokesman, confirmed that the former chief rabbi and the vice-president had met in New York for 90 minutes to discuss the speech… Sacks… considered it “a great tribute to the Jewish people” that Pence had sought his guidance for sections of his speech dwelling on the historical connection between Jews and Israel, Sacker added… The meeting “centered around how best to frame elements of the speech – in particular the biblical and historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and the American and Jewish stories… It was these, and only these, elements of the speech that Rabbi Sacks assisted with.” … The former chief rabbi was not paid for his help with Pence’s speech, Sacker said.” [TheGuardian]

REPORT — Dermer tells Netanyahu African migrant deportation plan damaging Israel’s image: “Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer has reportedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that press coverage of planned forced deportations of African migrants to third-party countries, said to be Uganda and Rwanda, is… causing Israel “great reputational damage.”” [ToINana10

TALK OF THE TOWN — “New Orleans Council Revisits Palestinian-Backed Measure” by Kevin McGill: “New Orleans City Council members will take another look Thursday at an anti-discrimination resolution that drew them into an international controversy over Israel and the Palestinians. The Jan. 11 resolution “encourages the creation of a process” to review city investments or contracts involving businesses that violate human and civil rights…  But a council news release noted it was adopted “in accordance with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement, also known as BDS.” … The council drew rebukes from critics who said the movement is rooted in anti-Semitism. That led to its being placed on Thursday’s council agenda for reconsideration.” [USNews]

“Sen. Bill Cassidy attacks New Orleans City Council over pro-Palestine resolution” by Kevin Litten: “While city council members feigned innocence, claiming to be totally unaware of the resolution’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic meaning, pro-BDS activists and anti-Semites around the nation rejoiced,” Cassidy said in [a fundraising email to supporters]. “As your senator, I will always stand with Israel and work to protect Jewish-Americans from the harm that BDS causes, this I promise you.”” [NOLA

“Paul Nehlen Is an Anti-Semitic Clown” by Emma Green: “What’s even more infuriating about the phenomenon of Paul Nehlen is that he has succeeded in getting people to pay attention to his shtick. Famous journalists take his bait and fight with him on Twitter. He’s gotten write-ups in publications… he is a constant source of fascination for outlets that serve largely Jewish audiences, such as Haaretz and The Forward; and now, he’s landed an article in The Atlantic… But it’s a mistake to think these figures represent a mass resurgence of outright bigotry akin to the 1920s Ku Klux Klan or Nazi Germany. People like Nehlen need to troll hard in order to get a second glance; his profile, audience, and momentum are all built on his ridiculous performance, not any actual influence on public policy.” [TheAtlantic

** 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: Meg Whitman Tapped As CEO of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Mobile Content Venture [VarietyAxios• Shari Redstone’s Viacom-CBS Merger Plans Take Shape Amid Tension [HollywoodReporter] • Goldman CEO and Clinton supporter Lloyd Blankfein has ‘really liked’ what Trump has done for economy [CNBC] • Slack founder Stewart Butterfield named 2018 Distinguished Entrepreneur [BCBusiness] • Kushners’ NJ Towers Get New Life After Charlie Kushner Meeting With Jersey City Mayor Fulop[Bloomberg] • Why Goldman and Pritzker Sank Millions Into a Startup Before Suing It for Fraud [WSJ] • Israel’s Fiverr buys US startup AND CO for undisclosed amount [ToI]

“Billionaire Steven Cohen ramps up GOP donations amid hedge fund comeback” by Brian Schwartz and Charlie Gasparino: “According to campaign finance records, Cohen has donated a total $2 million last year to the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC… as well $1 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund… “Cohen is getting back into the hedge fund business, and he’s making sure he has allies lined up on Capitol Hill given what he went through,” said one financial services lobbyist… The $2 million he gave in 2017 to the GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund made him the PAC’s top donor along with Bernard Marcus… “With Republicans in power, he’s been making more money than he knows what to do with,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf said. “For Steve Cohen, you have the money and you have the time and you can influence Congress.”” [FoxBusiness]

SPOTLIGHT: “How Aly Raisman’s Leadership Reformed Women’s Gymnastics—and Heralded Larry Nassar’s Downfall” by Eren Orbey: “Though Raisman is a legendary independent talent… her greatest contribution to American gymnastics may be a steadfast style of leadership that makes her an apt icon for the current reckoning. Known fondly, by her teammates and the Gymternet, as Grandma Aly, the twenty-three-year-old was the eldest member of Rio’s self-proclaimed Final Five, in 2016, and London’s Fierce Five, four years before… Along the way, she has offered invaluable mentorship to younger athletes, who have delivered her handwritten notes of adoration and praised her positivity in the press. “She’s sort of the one who’s always looking out for everybody,” Gabby Douglas, Raisman’s longtime teammate, said in 2016.” [NewYorker] • Aly Raisman: U.S.A. Gymnastics Horror “Is Bigger than Larry Nassar” [VanityFair]

MEDIA WATCH: Bill Kristol takes on Fox News, Tucker Carlson — by John Harwood: “Tucker Carlson began at The Weekly Standard. Tucker Carlson was a great young reporter. He was one of the most gifted 24-year-olds I’ve seen in the 20 years that I edited the magazine… He had always a little touch of Pat Buchananism, I would say, paleo-conservativism. But that’s very different from what he’s become now. I mean, it is close now to racism, white — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethno-nationalism of some kind, let’s call it.” [CNBC]

“For Pope Francis, Fake News Goes Back to the Garden of Eden” by Jason Horowitz: “The serpent in the Garden of Eden hissed the first fake news to Eve and it all went downhill from there, Pope Francis wrote in a major document about the phenomenon of fake news released on Wednesday. “We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place,” the pope wrote in a message ahead of what the church has designated as its World Day of Social Communications, in May. Arguing that the “crafty” serpent’s effective disinformation campaign to get Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge “began the tragic history of human sin,” he added, “I would like to contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news.”” [NYTimes]

“Watch Lorde & Jack Antonoff Respond To Pro-Israel Heckler In NYC” by Tom Breihan: “Between songs, as Lorde was telling the crowd that they were “so nice,” one gentleman interrupted to tell her that “in Israel, they’re nice, also.” This was, of course, a reference to Lorde canceling a show in Israel… In response to the heckler, Lorde stammered, “I know. I know that.” Antonoff, in defense of his friend, leapt to his feet and said, “No, hold on! We’re here raising a shit-ton of money. F*** that negativity… You know where they’re nice? Right here. Right f***ing here…”” [Stereogum]

“‘West of the Jordan River’ Examines the Mideast Peace Process” by Ben Kenigsberg: “At the opening of the new film, [Amos] Gitai somewhat pretentiously likens his role to that of an “archaeologist” of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This episodic documentary jumps back and forth in time, mainly between 1994, when Mr. Gitai filmed an interview with Yitzhak Rabin, then the Israeli prime minister… and 2016, when Mr. Gitai surveys the aftermath of the stalled peace process that Rabin fought for. Through interviews with Israeli politicians, and Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank, “West of the Jordan River” gives voice to peace-seeking residents on both sides of the conflict.” [NYTimes

“Israel Speeds Up Underground Border Wall To Block Gaza Tunnels” by Daniel Estrin: “Work on the “obstacle,” as the military dubs it, began last summer. About 2.5 miles are already complete. Now the military says it is accelerating construction, working 24 hours a day, six days a week — breaking only for the Sabbath — to complete the wall by mid-2019. How deep underground the wall will go is being kept secret. “It’s deep enough,” said a senior Israeli military official… On a media tour last week, soldiers drove reporters in armored vehicles along the length of the Israel-Gaza border, which has been transformed into a large construction site…” [NPR

TRANSITION — Rabbi Marc Baker was selected yesterday to be the next President of CJP (Combined Jewish Philanthropies). Baker is replacing Barry Shrage who served as CJP President for 31 years.

PIC OF THE DAY — New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul with Chef Elior Balbul at ALENbi restaurant, a modern Israeli cuisine in Crown Heights, Brooklyn [Pic]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Israeli chef Mike Solomonov, who recently won the James Beard Award for outstanding chef, discussed Israeli cuisine on The Atlantic Interview with Jeffrey Goldberg: “I cook because I like it. The reason I cook Israeli food is because when I started nobody else was doing it…” Goldberg: But Israelis were doing it… Solomonov:“There were, but they weren’t chefs; they were businessmen. They would come to the States and would like open a shawarma shop or like a hummus place or whatever, and it was a slice of what they thought Americans wanted to eat. But what we wanted to do, or our vision for it, was the Israeli experience, using ingredients that we have here, but really the soul or the spirit of the hospitality that you get there – all the different plates, all the vegetables, and the acid, and the salt, and the spices. All of that, this like balagan element; this upheaval of order.” Goldberg: Balagan is a Hebrew word that means basically chaos, disorder. Solomonov: “Yeah, exactly, which describes a lot of things in Israel, in that region, but it can also have a positive connotation.” [TheAtlantic]

DESSERT: “At ‘Shallot’ kosher means excellence” by Lena Lagutina: “Famous Moscow restaurateur Michael (Misha) Amayev opened a new restaurant in the Ramat Ha-Chayal district of Tel Aviv, the very secular heart of Israel. He named it “Shallot”… There is a real hunt for kosher products of such a high quality. The trend of kosher cuisine is spreading around the world. “I myself recently stood in line in New York in Manhattan about half an hour to have a bite in a kosher diner. In addition to myself, standing in the queue were only two or three people wearing kippot, the rest were secular, white and African-American – there simply because the food was fresh, tasty, and cooked before the eyes of the customers,” said Amayev.” [JPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli peace activist and author, whose fiction and non-fiction books have been translated into more than 30 languages, David Grossmanturns 64… Dean of the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since July 2009, Naamah Kelman-Ezrachi turns 63… Helene Ross turns 61… Partner at NYC-based ICM Partners Broadcasting where he represents anchors, reporters, hosts, and producers in news, lifestyle, and sports broadcasting, Michael Glantz turns 59… Member of the Canadian Parliament from Montreal since 2015, he won 12 medals in swimming at the 2013 and 2017 Maccabiah Games, Anthony Housefatherturns 47… Toronto-born movie and television actress, writer and social activist, a regular on Showtime’s “The L Word” (2004-2009), she had a recurring guest role on the Fox TV series “24,” Mia Kirshner turns 43… AIPAC’s David Newman turns 41… Benjamin Newton turns 33… Ari Cicurel turns 25… Robert Newman

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Daily Kickoff: Report — John Kerry tells Abbas to wait out Trump | Pence’s Rabbi | Benioff compares Facebook to cigarettes | Elliott Abrams BDay

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DAVOS 2018 — “In Davos, a Club Trump Has Revered and Resented Finally Opens Its Doors” by Peter Baker: “Many of the American 1-percenters here have Mr. Trump to thank for the substantial corporate and personal tax cuts that he helped push through Congress in December. But privately, they consider him a global wild card and bristle at his efforts to build walls, figuratively and literally, against immigration and free trade. “Will political and corporate leaders at Davos seek to flatter Trump to get on his good side or give him the cold shoulder given their growing concerns about his leadership?” asked David J. Kramer, a former State Department official under President George W. Bush.” [NYTimes

“Who Will Donald Trump Appease In Davos: His Base Or The Global Elite?” by Tarini Parti and Ben Smith: “If I were talking to Donald Trump — and who knows, maybe he’s watching TV somewhere — I would say: Come to Davos to build alliances,” said Jane Harman, a former Democratic member of Congress from California and now-president of the Woodrow Wilson Center… “It’s the right thing to do and it’s the best strategy in a world that’s increasingly tribal,” she said, describing DC to this global audience as “the entertainment capital of the world.” [BuzzFeed]

SPOTTED at Davos — Alexander Soros, the son of George Soros, with Jordan’s King Abdullah II: “Always an honor to meet with his majesty, #kingabdullah of #Jordan, who continues to do so much to quell tensions worldwide in these troubling times!” [Pic]

DIPLOMACY — President Trump will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos on Thursday ”to reiterate America’s strong commitment to Israel and efforts to reduce Iran’s influence in the Middle East, and ways to achieve lasting peace,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said yesterday at the White House press briefing.

REPORT: “Kerry to Abbas confidante: ‘Stay strong and do not give in to Trump'” by Ben Caspit: “Former US Secretary of State John Kerry met in London with a close associate of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Hussein Agha… During the conversation… Kerry asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to “hold on and be strong.” Tell him, he told Agha, “that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump’s demands.” According to Kerry, Trump will not remain in office for a long time… Kerry… recommended that Abbas present his own peace plan… He promised to use all his contacts and all his abilities to get support for such a plan.”

“He surprised his interlocutor by saying he was seriously considering running for president in 2020. When asked about his advanced age, he said he was not much older than Trump and would not have an age problem.” [JPost]

A senior White House official told reporters during a background briefing that the last time Jason Greenblatt or Jared Kushner had spoken with Palestinian leadership was prior to Trump’s Dec. 6th announcement on Jerusalem: “One of the tragic things that I have noticed since Dec. 6th is there are so many Palestinians who are reaching out… over the past 12 months, both in the West Bank and Gaza and Palestinian Americans. They all want to continue to talk, but they’re all afraid to talk. So they’re asking… for quiet meetings, private meetings. They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk. It doesn’t bode well for what we’re trying to create if there’s no freedom of speech among the Palestinians, so that troubles me greatly. And we’re trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

LORD, CHIEF RABBI AND… SPEECHWRITER: “Britain’s former chief rabbi behind Pence’s biblical Knesset address” by Raoul Wootliff: “Rabbi [Jonathan] Sacks was an instrumental part of crafting the vice president’s speech,” a source with knowledge of the speech writing process said. “Rabbi Sacks provided input and editorial suggestions on various drafts throughout the writing process.” … A White House official said that Pence met with Sacks for some 90 minutes in New York in November “explicitly to discuss themes and structure for the speech” and that the rabbi was consulted throughout the entire speech drafting process. Sacks’ office confirmed the meeting and Sacks’ influence on the speech, telling The Times of Israel that he met with Pence “at the request of the vice president” and that the two had ‘a very good meeting.”” [ToI

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik writes… “As I walked out of the Knesset following Vice President Mike Pence’s Monday afternoon address, an Israeli cameraman turned to me with a jovial expression. Speaking in Hebrew, he asked me about the man whose speech he had just heard: “Was that the messiah, or the vice president of the United States?” … The cameraman was also probably struck by how religious, and biblically based, the speech was. Mr. Pence threaded his remarks with references to Scripture, a rhetorical technique Knesset audiences have rarely heard from a political leader since Menachem Begin resigned as prime minister in 1983. Mr. Pence’s address was one of the most Zionist speeches ever given by a non-Jew in the Knesset.” [WSJ]

“What Mike Pence Just Did in Jerusalem” by Aaron David Miller: ”Mike Pence’s trip was less important for what it accomplished than what it reflected and represented: Under Trump: the U.S.-Israel relationship has undergone a transition from a valued special relationship to one that’s seemingly exclusive… Pro-Israeli vice presidents have come and gone to Israel (Al Gore, Joe Biden) but none seems to have left the impression Pence did… What’s new is that you now have an influential vice president sitting next to a president who shows no interest even in pretending to be even-handed on the Arab-Israeli conflict; he’s all in for Israel.” [Politico

“Pence, the Anti-Trump, Takes Israel by Storm” by Zev Chafets: “Despite dire predictions by some American experts, the Arab countries that matter aren’t even pretending to be outraged by the Trump administration’s tilt to Israel. The Palestinian Authority, having boycotted an American vice president, has had a chance to measure the efficacy of that approach. Mahmoud Abbas came home understanding that salvation is not going to come from Brussels. For the team currently putting together Trump’s “ultimate” Middle East deal, these are insights worth having.” [BloombergView]

“Pence Visit Was a Balm to Israelis. Now Back to Reality” by Isabel Kershner: ““After Pence leaves and Bibi takes off for Davos, the Arabs will still be here,” Ben Caspit, a political columnist, wrote on Tuesday in the Maariv newspaper.” [NYTimes

Shalom Lipner writes… “Forget the Ultimate Deal. The Mideast Needs the Status Quo: Governments in Ramallah and Jerusalem are blaming each other for the impasse and climbing into the trees, where they will wait petulantly for some incentive to justify their return to dialogue… Israel will appeal to the administration for greater latitude to create facts on the ground, while the Palestinians will cry betrayal and circle their wagons. In such an environment, the order of the day is containment — making sure that violence does not erupt and preserving the hope of constructive interaction once the atmosphere clears.” [ForeignPolicy

IRAN DEAL — “Nixing the Iran Deal Would Be Better Than a Fake Fix” by Richard Goldberg: “A phony fix might only address long-range missiles that don’t even exist yet, legitimizing Iran’s perfection of short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles capable of wiping out U.S. bases, allies, and interests. A fake fix, like the one under discussion in the Senate, might also detach Iran’s missile activity from the automatic resumption of sanctions, instead outlining lesser sanctions that will never successfully deter the mullahs from pressing forward with their illicit missile program.”[ForeignPolicy

STATE-SIDE: Florida Legislators push proposals to punish companies boycotting Israel — by James Call: “House Speaker Richard Corcoran Tuesday threw the weight of his office behind an effort by Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard, to toughen Florida’s prohibition of doing business with companies that boycott Israel. Fine wants to eliminate the $1 million threshold that triggers the ban so that any contract with any company boycotting Israel would be prohibited… Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Miami… is sponsoring a resolution to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital… Fine’s HB 545 and Moskowitz’s 1027 will be debated in committee Wednesday. Both have cleared previous committees.” [TallahasseeDemocrat]

2018 WATCH: “Pritzker-Biss rivalry emerges at first televised Democratic governor debate” by Rick Pearson and Kim Geiger: “He’s obviously worried. He kept naming me all night long,” [Daniel] Biss said of [J.B.] Pritzker afterward. Later, Biss added, “What I left here wondering (was), ‘What’s in J.B. Pritzker’s polling data? Why on this day was J.B. Pritzker all of a sudden going after me?’” Pritzker is widely regarded as the front-runner ahead of the March 20 primary election… Biss… has been courting Democratic primary voters who liked Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders instead of Clinton in 2016.” [ChicagoTribune

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Marc Benioff, one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful CEOs, compares Facebook to cigarettes [Mashable• David Rubenstein: ‘When people are happy and confident, something wrong happens’ [CNBC] • Beny Alagem submits revised proposal to get the Waldorf Astoria Residences, a controversial condo development slated for Beverly Hills, built [RealDeal] • An Israeli defense company showed off a radical new shotgun that looks straight out of science fiction [BusinessInsider] • WeWork announced its latest foray into learning, a strategic partnership with 2U, a company that develops and operates online graduate programs for universities including Berkeley, Georgetown, and Yale [FastCompany] • Mall Owners Flock to Transit Hubs [WSJ] • Weinstein Company enters into exclusive talks for sale [NYPost]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli road hazard warning app Nexar raises $30 million” by Tova Cohen: “Israel-based Nexar, whose technology warns drivers of real-time road hazards, said on Wednesday it raised $30 million in a financing round led by Ibex Ventures… The company also said it appointed Yoad Shraybom, a former Disney executive, as chief financial officer.” [ReutersTechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT: “Clash Between Founder and Protégé Plunges Och-Ziff Into Crisis” by Gregory Zuckerman and Rob Copeland: “Once they were mentor and protégé. Now Daniel Och and James Levin are trapped in a battle for the future of one of New York’s biggest investment firms. In the late 1990s, Mr. Levin was working at a summer camp in Wisconsin, teaching Mr. Och’s son how to water ski. By last year, the younger man was in line to succeed Mr. Och as chief executive of Och-Ziff Capital Management LLC, the largest publicly traded hedge fund in the U.S. with $33 billion in assets under management… Over Christmas weekend, Och-Ziff rushed out a letter to investors revealing that the 57-year-old Mr. Och had changed his mind, overruling others in the process… People familiar with Mr. Och’s thinking say he felt Mr. Levin pushed too far, too fast, asking for more money and control than he was due. “A level of distrust” had developed between the two executives, says a person close to the matter…” [WSJ]

MEDIA WATCH — “Steve Capus Out as Top Producer at ‘CBS Evening News’” by Brian Steinberg: “Mosheh Oinounou will replace Steve Capus as the executive producer of “CBS Evening News.” … In Oinounou, CBS News has a producer whose experience matches that of CBS News President David Rhodes… Oinounou worked on the management team that created and launched CBSN, and was the first executive producer of the live streaming service.” [Variety]

Alan Dershowitz writes… “Do the Jews control the world? It is true that Jewish families have ownership interests in the New York Times and other newspapers. But those newspapers don’t promote Jewish “control” of the world. Indeed, they are often at odds with Jewish public opinion. The same is true of Wall Street, Hollywood, and academia, where individual Jews hold diverse opinions on issues of Jewish concern. But to the anti-Semite, all Jews are the same and their goal – to control the world – is identical. So, no – Jews do not control the world. Many contribute to the world through their individual accomplishments… The world would be a poorer place – intellectually, artistically, charitably and in many other ways – if there were no Jews.”[WashExaminer]

PROFILE: “This New Yorker is Reviving Jewish Life in Krakow” by Stephen Starr: “Much has changed for Krakow’s Jewish community in the decade since the JCC opened — owing in large part to [Jonathan] Ornstein’s grit. From fundraising to programming to membership outreach, he’s a driving force that never seems to idle. He’s also the engine behind the annual 50-mile Ride for the Living in which cyclists bike from Auschwitz to the JCC to honor victims of the Holocaust… Ornstein used part of the funds raised to pay for a group of Holocaust survivors and JCC members to visit Israel.” [Ozy]

HOLLYWOOD: “Israel’s culture minister hails her country’s Oscar failure” by Jeffrey Heller: “Israel’s culture minister breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday that her country’s contender had failed to land an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film… “Foxtrot” tells the fictional story of an army checkpoint where bored Israeli troops shoot Arab passers-by after mistaking a soda can for a weapon, and then cover up the incident… Miri Regev] told Army Radio that they had “saved us from bitter disappointment and a false presentation of the Israel Defense Forces internationally,” while adding that she had not seen the movie.” [Reuters]

“McMafia star Yuval Scharf: If James Norton is 007, I want to be his Bond girl” by Alastair McKay: “Though Scharf is a well-known performer in Israel (she is married to the classically trained popular pianist Shlomi Shaban, and they live in Tel Aviv with their two-year-old son), McMafia is her first international project. “I was super-excited when I got it,” she says.” [EveniningStandard

“Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport Grounds All Flights Due to Intrusive Drone” by Marco Margaritoff: “Reportedly, airport authorities deemed the uninvited drone to pose a “security and safety risk,” which warranted a complete shutdown until the situation was clear. The drone was first seen at 7:20 p.m., just a few hours after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Israel for a two-day trip through the same airport.” [TheDrive

DEEP DIVE: “How Arafat Eluded Israel’s Assassination Machine” by Ronen Bergman: “Arafat understood that it was not a coincidence that bombs were repeatedly falling on places he was about to enter or had just left, and he kept breaking his routine… On July 3, 1982, Uri Avnery, a left-wing Israeli magazine editor, along with a reporter and photographer, crossed the front line in Beirut to interview Arafat in the heart of the city… The Salt Fish team decided to take advantage of the opportunity to let the three journalists unknowingly lead a group of assassins straight to Arafat. An argument broke out among the Salt Fish team members: Was it right to endanger, and probably kill, the Israeli citizens? The answer, they decided, was that it was. But Arafat suspected that Mossad might be keeping tabs on Avnery. His security guards took strict deceptive countermeasures, and the Salt Fish team lost their trail in the alleys of south Beirut.” [NYTimes

“Poisoned Toothpaste and Exploding Phones: Israel’s Proxy for War” by Ethan Bronner: “Ronen Bergman, the intelligence correspondent for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, persuaded many agents of Mossad, Shin Bet and the military to tell their stories, some using their real names… Based on 1,000 interviews and thousands of documents, and running more than 600 pages, Rise and Kill First makes the case that Israel has used assassination in the place of war, killing half a dozen Iranian nuclear scientists, for instance, rather than launching a military attack.” [Bloomberg]

DESSERT: “These Tours Use Food to Bridge the Gap Between Israel and Palestine” by Nikki Ekstein: “Intrepid’s trips begin in Tel Aviv, the restaurant capital of the Middle East, and end in Jerusalem, where travelers check out a handful of religious sites before tucking into bowls of hummus at one of the Old City’s hummusiyas. In between, they take guests to an Israeli winery near the Negev desert, to a Palestinian dessert bakery in Nablus, and to a cooking demonstration in the village of Buq’ata, populated by Druze Arabs. All of the activities are guided, primarily by Palestinian group leaders licensed by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.” [Businessweek]

SPORTS BLINK — CNN host Jake Tapper on Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin following Philadelphia Eagles’ NFC title win over the Vikings: “As a lifelong Eagles fan, I grew up just a few miles from Veterans Stadium, where they used to play. It was such a dream to go to the game. One of the vice presidents of the Eagles, a guy named Ari Roitman — went to my high school. He was a few years behind me — saw all my rabid, insane pro-Eagles tweets and asked if I would want to come. And I got to bring my pop, who was a pediatrician in that neighborhood, South Philadelphia. And it was great. And it was very cool walking onto the field. This is stuff that I normally don’t get to do, and certainly, my dad has never gotten to do..” [Video

PICS OF THE DAY — Chabad at George Washington University met with Wolf Blitzer and CNN’s D.C. Bureau Chief Sam Feist at CNN’s Washington studios yesterday. [Facebook]

#Mikvah: Mary Anne Huntsman posted a picture of her father Jon Huntsman, the current U.S. Ambassador to Russia, taking a dip in ice-cold waters in Moscow, attached with a photo of Vladimir Putin doing the same: “Can’t believe my father took THREE dips in these icy cold waters. Go Dad!!!” [Instagram

BIRTHDAYS: Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, previously Deputy National Security Advisor in the Bush 43 administration and Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, Elliott Abrams turns 70… Executive producer of the CBS series Blue Bloods, he was head of programming for ABC and president of 20th Century Fox, Leonard J. Goldberg turns 84… Singer-songwriter, musician and actor, one of the world’s best-selling recording artists of all time, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil Diamond turns 77… Born in Tel Aviv, 2011 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, Professor at Technion and Iowa State University, Dan Shechtmanturns 77… Soviet-born comedian, actor and writer, emigrated to the US in 1977, noted for the catchphrase “What a country,” Yakov Smirnoff (born Yakov Naumovich Pokhis) turns 67…

Conductor, violinist, and violist, who has performed with leading symphony orchestras worldwide, Yuri Bashmet turns 65… Danny Flamberg turns 64… Founder of an online software training website which was acquired by LinkedIn in April 2015 for $1.5 billion, Lynda Weinman turns 63… West Hempstead, NY resident, Beryl Eckstein turns 60… NYC-based senior correspondent for Fox News since 1997, Rick Leventhal turns 58… Former CEO of Ford Motor Company (2014-2017), now a senior adviser at private equity firm TPG Capital, Mark Fields (his family’s original name was Finkelman) turns 57… B’nei mitzvah coordinator at Temple Beth Am of Los Angeles, Judith Alban turns 56… Editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times, formerly editor-in-chief of Chabad News and news editor at Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Joshua Runyan turns 37… TACKMA’s Jeffrey Schottenstein turns 32…

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